Be Kind, Rewind! 991 words
The world stops, jitters, and shakes. She turns and puts the tape in the rewinder. "But-" She says. I look up at her cute little smile. I instinctively look down at her name tag, but she isn't wearing one. "You don't even know my name."
"You can come by after you finish closing, if you like. A few of my friends and I rented the Pelican Bay, up the road, and we're just watching movies. Listen, would you like to come over?" She looks at the tape, and tsks as she realizes it's not rewound. I hand her it. "We just watched it, and I was hoping to pick up another. No, actually, the opposite."
"Didn't enjoy the movie?" She asks. "Back again!"
The store is thankfully still open, and the same woman is behind the counter. I feel happy and alive, like everything is going to be okay. I walk through the light drizzle and breathe in the smell of salt water.
Morgan and I both roll our eyes - we wouldn't have put up with Tony's antics tonight, if it wasn’t for Beth. "Yes, please!" Beth calls from the bathroom, as she helps Tony. The movie wasn't too long, and there's still time to get another one from the rental store. I pop the tape out and look at the clock.
Despite that, I feel a general sense of happiness when it ends with the shot of everyone standing on the beach. It felt like the screenwriters made Tony a villain just to follow a formula. I didn’t like how they treated him. The movie me finds a new lust for life and gets over my depression - the movie skips over the anti-depressants and therapy it took for the real me to get to that point. It feels authentic and real, but I get a bit annoyed at how they treat mental illness. If anything, the movie reminds me a bit of Garden State. It's a sort of comedy, one of those teenage coming of age stories. It isn't long, but it's enjoyable.
The Tony in the movie saunters on screen, and sweeps Beth away. Beth doesn't stand up to attend to Tony this time. When he stands up and runs to the bathroom again, nobody pays Tony any attention. The scene is cringe-worthy in a funny way, and Morgan giggles. My character is stepping from one foot to another, staring at the actress who is playing Beth. He’s the sort of actor who plays dweebs who is none the less still Hollywood pretty. I am older now - the actor they chose to play me is handsome in an awkward, funny way.
The scene ends with me gently weeping next to my mother, a bit of blood from the squirrel still on my face. She gives one last cry, and then goes limp. My mother whispers something that is covered up by the swelling background music. She grasps my tiny hand, and pulls me close. She is panting, her face a mask of pain. My mother is lying in her death bed, weak and frail. Suddenly, she calls out, and I run upstairs.
"I'm sorry," I whispered. The younger me picked up a rock, and brought it down on the squirrel's head. The poor beast twitched and screeched as viscera and blood shooting out across the green grass. I seemed shock that I had actually hit it. I threw a rock, striking a squirrel across the midsection. The scene opened with a precious young boy, much cuter than I remembered being. "Be Kind, Please Rewind!" The opening credits played. We gathered around the TV, each of us with our own drinks.
Beth went over to clean Tony up. She smiled, and then looked away as he began puking over the railing. "We can always go grab a different one. Should be interesting, and if not, the video store is open for another two hours. Some sort of biopic, I think."
"What did you get?" She asked me.
Tony gave me a big happy smile, and raised his own beer in salute. It felt luxurious and smooth going down my throat. Beth handed me a beer. I handed her the tape. Tony was clearly plastered, but Beth and Morgan were both fine. The three of them were gathered on the front porch, drinking.
Better to stay in tonight and enjoy a movie with friends. It was far too dangerous, and rather unpleasant, to go drinking on the beach. I looked over at the ocean as small white caps foamed and roiled. Already you could smell it on the evening air. They had predicted storms tonight.
I picked up one of the tapes, gave the key to the woman, and walked home. Inside was a small room, with rows upon rows of unlabeled VHS tapes. I took the key, and opened the door. I looked back at the large metal door, with the ornate lock on the front. The woman gave me a mischievous smile, and handed me a small metal key.
"I've seen these all before." I waved my hand towards the selection behind me. "Any suggestions? I'm looking for a good movie."
I considered asking her for a number, but decided against it. The young woman at the front of the store was perky and confident. Finally, I gave up. I wandered the aisles, looking for something. I thought places like this had all gone the way of the dinosaur. I felt a small tinge of amazement. It had a small selection of DVDs near the front, but it seemed the place had mostly stopped updating its collection a decade ago. The store was clean but old, with faded movie posters on the wall. I entered the old video store and looked around.
I entered the old video store and looked around. The store was clean but old, with faded movie posters on the wall.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 02:22|
|# ? Jul 7, 2022 10:44|
(Prompt: A guy finds a wallet)
I'm in the parking lot of the Rodeo Bar and Grill when I see a wallet on the ground. "Hey buddy, is this yours?" I ask the guy in front of me.
He turns around and I stop. He looks exactly like me--he even has the same scar on his face. "Uh-"
"No, it's yours," he says. Even his voice sounds like mine. I look into my wallet and the driver's license says it's me. "You know who I am, Drew," the other guy says. "Just like I know how when you were eight you scarred yourself with Dad's straight razor.
"How the gently caress do you-"
"Last call, Drew," he said and turned around. I looked down at the wallet. "What do you mean-"
He was gone. I looked around and I couldn't find him-me-whoever the gently caress. I shake my head and step inside the Rodeo. Everybody's staring at me as I make my way to the counter. Jessie's tending, thank God. "Hey Jess-"
"What the gently caress are you doing here?" She asks coldly
"Get the gently caress out."
"Jess-" Somebody grabs me and throws me out of the bar. I've been going here for years, I know everybody there, why the gently caress would they throw me out? I reach into my pocket for my keys and they're not there. I don't even have my cell phone, all I have is my wallet. Did that guy from earlier rob me? gently caress it, my apartment isn't that far from the bar, I can walk.
Something's wrong. I don't have an apartment anymore and I can't call Sam. I walk down to my Dad's house down the street. I knock and he opens. "What are you doing here?" he asks.
"Dad, it's me."
"I know exactly who you are," he says and closes the door. I throw my hand against it. "Dad, what's going on?" I ask.
He looks at me disgustedly. "You know, I keep asking myself that question every time I so much as hear your name. I don't have time for this," he says and tries to close the door again . I jam my foot in the way.
"Dad look," I pry the door open. "I seriously have no idea what's going on. I don't have a car or an apartment anymore and I don't know where Sam is. Please..."
He finally lets me in. Looking on the wall, I see something else wrong. Mom and Dad kept all kinds of pictures of me and the family on the wall. Every last picture with me in it is gone, the wall's almost bare. "You're not drunk again, are you?" he asks.
"I have never been more sober. Please, tell me what's going on."
He stares at me for a minute and shakes his head. "You got in an accident a few years back. Rolled over three times, almost died."
"You swerved into another car and ended up killing a mother and her kids," he says while rubbing his face with his calloused hands. "You spent months in the hospital. We all know you were drunk, but your lawyer got you off on some bullshit technicality."
"This-this isn't possible-"
"See for yourself, then," he says and jerks his head towards the restroom. I go inside and take off my jacket and shirt. Looking in the mirror, I see two neat little scars on my body--one across my chest and the other along my belly. It's true, then--I hosed up, I hosed up royally. I look to the side and I see Dad's straight razor. After checking to see if it's sharp, Im stick it in my back pocket and put my clothes back on.
"I'm only asking once," I tell Dad as I walk back into the living room. "Where's Sam?"
"I'm not telling you," he says, not even looking me in the eye. I lunge and grab him. "Tell me where the gently caress Sam is!"
Dad grabs me back and slams me against the wall "Listen you little poo poo," he snarls. "I brought you into this world and so help me God, I'll take you out of it!"
I struggle a bit and smash his foot. He lets go and I grab the razor, flick it open, and hold the blade against his neck. "You were saying, huh Dad? "
"See Dad, this is all a bad dream to me, so I could kill you and nothing would happen. So I'll ask again," I say and cut into his throat. "Where. The. gently caress. Is. Sam?"
"Corner house of Wash and 5th," he gasps. I let him go. He drops to the floor and holds his throat. I grab his keys and walk out.
After I park across the street from Sam's house, I go up to the door and knock. "Coming," I hear a familiar voice. The door opens.
"What the gently caress do you want?" she spits at me.
"Don't 'baby' me, you gently caress," she says. "I told you I never want to see you again,"
"Sam, listen to me," I beg. "Something's happened and I don't know what's going on. I need you."
"Sam?" another voice calls out. "What's going on?"
That voice belongs to a guy about my height but much bigger than me. "You," he says. "I thought I told you to stay the gently caress away."
"Stay the gently caress out of it," I say and get in his face. "This is between me and Sam."
He swings at me and hits me in the jaw. I jump up on him and we scuffle. "Mark!" I hear Sam screaming. The moment he looks back, I sucker punch him, whip my Dad's razor out, and slash him across the face.
"Mark!" Sam shrieks and rushes over. Blood sprays all over my shirt and jacket. Mark is on the ground, holding his face, his hands full of blood. I laugh. I laugh and cry like a maniac. This isn't happening. This can't be happening. I dive back into Dad's pickup and peel off.
I swerve into the parking lot of the Rodeo, jump out of Dad's pickup, and run towards the bar. "Drew!" I scream at the top of my lungs. "I take it back! I want it back," I collapse in front of the entrance, crying my eyes out. "I want my life back. Please, give it back. Please..."
I look up and see Jessie at the entrance. "Jessie?"
"Drew, what's wrong with you?"
"Jessie, you know who I am, right?"
"What kind of question is that?" she asks me. "Drew, you're scaring me. You're scaring everybody."
I look into my pockets. I find my keys and phone. "Everything's fine, now."
"Ooookay," she says. "You coming in?"
I shake my head. "I need to get things sorted out."
She smiles. "Allright, hon. See you around, then."
I nod and and call Sam, praying to God she answers.
"Sam," I say. "Thank God you're there."
"Drew, what's going on?"
"I have some news," I tell her and leave the bar behind, never looking back.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 02:29|
Conversations with Bobby
Prompt: Someone receives a phone call from an unknown number.
The incessant, motorized buzz of his cellphone woke Robert from his Tuesday evening ritual of napping through a Netflix binge. He didn’t see a name on the display and his finger was halfway to the lock button before he realized what he had seen. Where there would normally be a name or number, the screen showed an incoherent jumble of numbers, letters, and symbols. Robert briefly considered ignoring the call anyway, but nagging curiosity finally got the better of him and he lazily swiped to pick up the call.
He didn’t really know what he was expecting, perhaps a recorded voice or the irritating whine of dial-up era gibberish. What he certainly wasn’t expecting, though, was the jovial voice of a young boy.
“Hi, Rob!” the child chirped.
“Hey buddy, I don’t think I’m the Rob you’re looking for. I think you’ve got the wrong number,” Robert replied.
“Well, you sure sound like my friend Rob, mister,” the kid said.
“What’s your name, bud?”
“Bobby!” the kid said gleefully.
Robert indulged the boy for a few more minutes but finally insisted that he had things to do and wished the kid luck in finding his friend. A few minutes later and he had both Netflix and his snoring cranked back up.
Coffee, emails, the morning meeting, more coffee; the day trudged along under the sickly sheen of the office fluorescents, this day no different than all the rest. Robert found himself returning again and again to the phone call, each time ending his reverie with a shake of his head and a chuckle. The kid had been absolutely sure that he was speaking to the right person. Robert even dived back into his recent calls list to see if it would give a location that the call originated from, but no luck.
He was counting the final few minutes to his lunch break when Howard from marketing popped his head into the cubicle.
“The sailboat fund healthy?” Howard asked, motioning with his coffee cup to a picture of a sailboat prominently displayed on the corkboard that covered one wall of Robert’s cubicle. Robert smiled.
“Last year’s bonus actually put me over the top on the sailboat itself, now I’m just trying to make sure I’ve got enough to last me for a few years,” he said.
A smirk spread across Howard’s face. “Yeah, gotta make sure you’ve got enough to wine and dine that exotic woman you’re going to meet and marry while you’re out adventuring, right?” he said.
Robert laughed. “Something like that, yeah.”
“So when you think you’ll be cutting loose?” Howard asked.
“I don’t know, man. I guess when I have enough saved up, you know? I think I’ll know when the time is right,” Robert replied.
Howard flashed a grin. “Whatever you say, hoss.”
“Hi Rob, whatsup?” Bobby said.
Robert glanced up at the wall clock. Seven thirty, same time this happened yesterday.
“Listen bud, I like talking to you but I really think you have the wrong number,” Robert said.
“But I just want to talk to my friend Rob!” Bobby whined.
The voice sounded vaguely familiar to Robert in a faraway sense. He was about to say goodbye and hang up when Bobby offered up something that brought goosebumps from Robert’s fingers all the way to his neck.
“Momma doesn’t like it when I use the phone, so I have to sneak it while she’s watching her show,” Bobby said.
Robert was so stunned that he momentarily moved the phone away from his ear to stare down at the screen. His parents had called him Bobby all his life and he wasn’t allowed to call people on the phone until he turned eight years old. He thought he was being very clever as a child when he’d wait until his mother was wrapped up in primetime TV to try out the phone in the kitchen.
“Bobby, what’s your mom’s name?” Robert asked.
“Mom is Cheryl and Daddy is Bill!” Bobby replied happily.
It all matched. Robert could hear his heart pounding in his chest. What does it mean, he thought. Is this what a brain tumor feels like?
“I think Momma heard me, gotta go!” Bobby whispered, and then the line went dead.
The calls continued every weeknight at seven thirty for the next two weeks. At first, Robert attempted to come up with an explanation. He tried calling back but it never worked. As soon as he pushed the call button, his phone would turn off. He googled the random string of symbols that would appear on his screen when Bobby called. No luck there either.
“Will you come visit me sometime?” Bobby pleaded.
“I’d love to, buddy, but I don’t think I can make it out to your neck of the woods,” Robert replied. He’d chosen not to disclose his unique relationship to the boy.
“OK,” Bobby sighed. As only children are able to, Bobby quickly moved past his melancholy into excitement. “Today in school we got to draw a picture of what we are going to be when we grow up!” he said.
Robert smiled broadly. Bobby’s daydreams about adulthood had come up on the third day, and Bobby eagerly revisited the topic every day since.
“Did you draw your boat on the ocean?” Robert asked.
“No, I drew my luxurious captain’s quarters! I got done so fast that I got to draw another drawing of me fighting pirates!” Bobby exclaimed.
Robert couldn’t hear enough about Bobby’s hopes and dreams, even though they exposed the sharp, jagged edges of a painful nostalgia. The failed Coast Guard bid still stung, though Robert could scarcely admit it to himself.
“What do you want to be when you grow up, Rob?” Bobby asked.
Robert was pulling down the picture of the sailboat and packing it on top of the box when Howard popped by.
“Woah hoss, you going somewhere?” he asked.
Robert grinned so hard he felt like his face was going to crack in half. “It’s time to sail,” he said.
“We’re going to miss you around here, man. I’m a little shocked, I guess the office grapevine failed me,” Howard said.
“Nah, I just couldn’t wait and didn’t bother with the two weeks notice,” Robert said as he eagerly shut down his office computer for the last time.
“So the fund is finally enough, then?” Howard asked.
“I’ll get by. Life’s just too short to put something like this off, you know?” Robert said.
That night, Robert had his phone out and ready to go at seven thirty. He couldn’t wait to tell his friend about the adventure he was about to embark on. He’d let Bobby do the brunt of the talking most of the time, but he knew the kid would eat this up.
At seven thirty-five, he started to get anxious. At seven forty-five, he started to get sad. At eight o’ clock, the sadness gave way to understanding.
Robert closed his eyes and sent up a brief prayer. Thank you.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 02:36|
Someone throws away an important object.
He woke up to a pounding on the ceiling above him and the wailing cry of his alarm clock. Another dreadfully boring day staring down at him through the windows as the sun crested over the high-rise next door.
What a strange dream, he thought to himself before swinging his feet from the bed and stepping into a new old day. The smell of coffee accompanied by the sound of the drip drip drip into the pot. The honking outside the window that came in with the shaft of light. It all blended together into a mixture in his head, not yet awake enough to tell one from the other.
He stepped into the shower and let the cold water snap his mind into focus. He dressed and poured out his coffee. It felt like he had just sat down when his second alarm went off, pulling his keys from the counter and heading down his gray staircase to the garage. Lower and lower, until the hot, warm air of the HVAC units blew his hair around as he stepped towards his car.
The same roads. The same stoplights. All a familiar blur of colors and shapes that played like a life on repeat.
He felt himself rising from his seat. Dirt and crumbs crossed in front of his face. The engine screamed as the wheels spun with nowhere to displace their energy.
He stared at the road passing underneath him until his car caught the side of a building. The roof collapsed into the back seat in a screech of metal and broken glass. His head rang and everything became blindingly bright and loud.
Blindly pulling himself free of the wreckage as a cool breeze came down the street, bringing a wave of paper, clothing and debris floating past him. He saw a family pulling themselves out of an apartment window, hanging onto a drain pipe. More cars floated down the street or simply remained on the ground where they were stuck in traffic.
He'd pull himself down to sit on the twisted wreckage of his car floating gently in the breeze.
Deris lounged back on a cloud as the heat currents drifted him around the blindingly white room. He held a steady orbit around a black pit stuck in the air and affixed at the room's center. An orange orb took the center of the blackness, dots of blue and red and orange circling around in oblong trajectory.
An eyestalk lifted at the rushing sound of the airlock opening up, the humanoid known as Joshua standing some distance below him. “We're doing a check,” He called up to Deris, voice echoing softly around the room. “Anything weird going on?”
Deris returned his eye to the gelatinous form of his body. “Nope.”
Silence. Blissful silence. And Joshua ruins it. “Deris?”
“What?” Deris sighed, eye glaring at him through the cloud.
“Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
Joshua leapt upwards, pushing the cloud aside in his wake as he floated into orbit around the sun. “Why don't you tell me, Deris? Why don't you illuminate me on why the hell you switched off the local gravity?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I'm talking about this fuckup right here!” Joshua shouted, hard enough to shake his helmet. His entire body tensed like a spring as one of the dots grew in size. Across the surface of the planet were metal twines, reaching over and through clouds of mist and steam and water. Somehow, the atmosphere and oceans remained unaffected by the sudden shift.
“Is water supposed to do that?” Deris asked, extending his stalk to take a closer look at the planet.
“Are you serious?” Joshua vented, keeping his eyes on Earth. “How did you even do this? The physical laws are supposed to be linked together to avoid crap like this. You can't just flip a switch and turn of some of the natural order of the universe.”
“Good thing I didn't flip a switch, then,” Deris snapped back. “I swear, you humanoids get so uptight about your computations. I was just doing routine maintenance and clearing out the cache like I do every cycle.”
“You...you deleted gravity? You just deleted gravity?”
“I guess so.”
He woke up to the sound of his neighbor bouncing off the wall to his left and the wailing cry of his alarm clock, floating through the air with a lazy spin. Another dreadfully boring day filtering in through the shutter-blinds on the windows. The light bent as a water ball slapped against the windows.
A 'shower', a packet of coffee and a change of clothing and he slid out the door to look down at a forest. On each side of his door, others were making their way out of their homes and lining up for the commute. In the distance something long and metallic slid towards them, people holding onto bars branching out from the side as it crawled along the walls of the 'apartments'.
He floated out to catch a branch, the soft tug of momentum pulling him along, downward towards the base of the structure. They passed through a water cloud along the way, congealing together into globes of water that scattered as they moved through it and towards the ground.
He let go at the end of the line, dropping down towards the large rounded entrance to his office building, a few quick greetings here and there as he made his way up, around, through and finally to his small desk.
Five years had passed. Five years and his life was the same as it was when it all changed. Life's resilience to even a law of nature's disappearance was remarkable, he mused as he worked on typing up another report.
He was reaching for a stapler floating by accompanied by a cup of water and a personal file when the lights went out.
“Done,” Joshua said, turning back towards the door. “I was able to get the system restored and re-synched with the rest of the simulation. And next time, try not to delete another natural law.”
“Yeah,” Deris said back, still floating overhead. “I'll try not to.”
Joshua was too tired to even mutter under his breath at the floating mass as he left the simulation room.
He woke up to a pounding on the ceiling above him and the wailing cry of his alarm clock. Another dreadfully boring day staring down at him through the windows as the sun crested over the high-rise next door.
What a strange dream, he thought to himself before swinging his feet from the bed and stepping into a new old day.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 02:45|
When Jane heard the pounding at the cabin door, she wished she had been asleep, so she could yell at the person outside for waking her up.
Jane stumbled into the kitchen, grabbing the handle of the lukewarm coffee pot. It was 4:30 in the morning, and both time and NyQuil had no meaning. She sniffled and poured herself a cup—it was that time of morning where anything Circadian was flushed down the drain. You either soldiered through the early hours of the morning, or you fell asleep as the sun rose and adopted the vampire lifestyle. She was sick, wracked with insomnia, and overdue for her monthly, and she couldn’t do a drat thing about any of it. The waiting for her period was the hardest, the cramps and aches that sliced through her abdomen in cruel intervals throughout the night.
The black Ferlinghetti typewriter stared back at Jane as she drank her coffee. She hated it. She needed it. She wanted to locate something soft and heart-like within its crisscrossing metal tendons and stab it there with a pair of scissors. Yet she knew it was the only thing keeping her tethered. As soon as Jane destroyed it, she’d go flying up through the cabin roof and off of the pine-capped mountain like the weather balloons the meteorological institute released every now and then, floating in midair like a half-baked Raptured.
She wanted a place to hide and write. One out of two wasn’t that bad.
The pounding came again, shaking the thick wooden door.
The only other soul on the mountainside lived in another cabin two football fields away. Her name was Alice, a tall, wrinkly totem pole, clothed in flannel and smelling like menthol cigarettes, which Jane suspected were the only things Alice needed to keep herself warm this time of year.
Jane got up and walked towards the front door. As she reached to open it, the pounding began again. Jane winced, then snarled, pounded back with both fists. “Who is it?” she shouted.
“Alice,” said the voice from the other side of the door.
Jane opened the door.
She took a step back.
The person across from Jane had Alice’s face, Alice’s hair, Alice’s height—but it had all been warped into something different. The face that was once wrinkled and pockmarked was now smooth and unblemished, framed by hair that was silky and chestnut brown instead of a frayed and graying mop. The person-who-was-not-Alice wore a flowing cotton dress, patterned in a thick red plaid, the snow whirling around the fluttering hem.
Before Jane could shut the door, the smiling woman waltzed into the house. “Positively delightful place you’ve found, Janie,” Not-Alice said. She extended her hand out to Jane, presenting a small envelope.
Jane took it from her. “A-Alice?” she said.
“It’s me,” the woman said. “Your neighbor.” Not-Alice sauntered into the kitchen. Jane shook her head. She even moved differently from Alice, walked in curves and arcs instead of straight lines.
Jane opened the envelope and read the embossed card inside:
Let's shower her with love...
You are cordially invited to a Baby Shower for
Jane and Brian Kelley
on Saturday, January 10th, 2004
at 4 p.m.
68 Forsythe Lane
RSVP at 787-701-7661
From the kitchen, Jane heard the clacking of the typewriter. She stormed into the kitchen to see not-Alice bending over the kitchen table. Not-Alice saw Jane and stood up. “I didn’t touch it, I swear,” said Not-Alice, holding her hands up, palms out. “It did that by itself.”
“Where did you get this?” said Jane, holding up the envelope, her eyes hard and tight.
“You gave it to me,” said Not-Alice sweetly. “I’m showing up for the—“
Jane slammed her hand down on the table. “Don’t gently caress with me,” she breathed. “I don’t know who you are or where you found this—“
“I think you’re being a little unreasonable, dear,” said Not-Alice, brushing a lock of brown hair off of her forehead. “Sure, I’m a little bit late—“
“It’s 2014,” said Jane. “Today is 2014. The invitation says 2004. Whoever you are, you’re ten years late.”
“Is it that much of a difference? Ten years? Time always flies,” said Not-Alice. “I’m late, you were early.”
“Early?” said Jane. She gripped the edge of the kitchen table.
“You know, you could have waited until after you’d had the—“
Jane shoved the kitchen table out of her way and grabbed Not-Alice by the shoulders, a furious screech rising in her throat. “Get out!” Jane yelled, tossing Not-Alice through the kitchen doorway. Not-Alice landed on her backside, scrambling and crabwalking towards the open front door as Jane lunged after her, kicking at her flailing legs.
Right before she closed the door on Not-Alice, Jane looked beyond her, to the world outside. Saw the street, the oak trees, the manicured green grass, the painted mailboxes with obscene red flags.
She slammed the door shut. She breathed.
You are dreaming. You are hallucinating. You have had no sleep. You are asleep right now.
She stepped back from the door.
Light was streaming in through the windows. It wasn’t the death-drop snowy glare she normally saw during mornings on the mountain, but a warmer, softer light. Jane could see the shadows of leaves—actual leaves—shaking on looming branches.
She turned and ran, knocking over the kitchen chair as she raced to the bedroom and dove under the covers, wrapped the pillow around her head and scrunched her eyelids shut, ground her teeth, thought go away, go away, go away—
Brain, brain, go away—
Eventually, her breathing slowed.
Jane tiptoed out her bedroom door and into her kitchen. She let her breath burst out of her once she saw the snow at the corners of the window frames, growing brighter in the early-morning light.
The typewriter was lying on its side on the kitchen floor. She sat on the floor next to it, turned it right side up, set it in front of her crossed legs.
The blank piece of paper, the one she’d stared at for the last five hours, was no longer blank. It said:
i love you
Jane snickered softly. She rested her right hand on the keys, took another deep breath.
The keys moved under her still hand.
She jerked her right arm back, watched silently as the typewriter typed out another message:
Jane stared at the message, unable to blink, unable to breathe—and then a searing pain ripped through her midsection.
She screamed in agony, threw her head back against the kitchen floor as the pain flowed through her body.
She couldn’t look down at the source of the pain at her stomach, the place where thin metal typebars were punching out through the pale flesh of her abdomen like spider’s legs, sending rivulets of blood down her skin as they surged forward from both sides like butterfly wings to clatter together over her navel, like some force pushing too many keys at once, too many words fighting towards creation, only to be held silent.
But now she kept screaming, if only to drown out the clacking noise in her ears.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 03:03|
1.5 hours remaining until submissions close!
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 03:26|
I'm outie. Next is a .
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 03:53|
I'm not a big fan of this, and wasn't alone. I find bro parody stories shallow and stupid, so a great deal of my dislike comes from the sort of story you chose to tell. It felt like you had the chops to tell a great kinetic action story, and squandered it on "tards" and d-cups.
Having said that, your writing itself is solid enough, with great descriptions of frentic actions scenes. It felt like you managed to keep a tight grip on the scene, and the position of the characters in relation to each other. That's an uncommon skill, and I have to recognize that.
Another flaw was your ending - the unexplained, unsupported twist was annoying, and your story ends halfway through - if I'm being charitable. Altogether, I'm hoping to see another action story from you that tells a complete story about somebody other than Zak.
Your story fell into the middle of the pack, but the lower middle. Its main flaw was that not much happened, either action-wise or internally with the characters. Your story lacked violence or drama, leaving me bored in general as I read it. There was potential for both, and I wouldn't mind seeing a re-write of this.
It also felt like your premise wasn't well-supported. You hint at a lot of things, and generally I'm a fan of sci-fi stories that avoid info dumps - but you still had a lot of exposition and telling instead of showing. You also had (potentially) one of the better twist endings, but didn't establish the 'rules' of your setting or create enough investments - so the twist lost the emotional pay off.
Overall, I wonder if this story would be better suited to a longer format with a bit of a mystery focus - something similar to Soylent Green or an Asimov short story, for example.
Augh! You almost had a great story, and overall I really enjoyed it. But a myriad of flaws really holds your story back. None of them are particularly terrible on their own, but they all add up. A shame, really, since you had a neat little tale here.
"The word 'dongle' has been mentioned already - it's not a good word. You've got a weak opening paragraph - your first sentence is dangerously close to a run-on, 'frowned into' is a typo, and overall you lack an interesting hook. Your twist ending annoyed me - not the twist itself, you understand. Rather, your cool bit of sci-fi technology becomes a bit of a dues ex machina, able to do anything and everything. So having it be vital to the twist itself felt very unfair. There was a lot of awkward sentence structures and word choices. Finally, your ending needed a big dose of 'show, not tell'.
At the end of the day, I enjoyed your story and liked what you did with it.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 03:56|
A paleontologist visits a new dig site.
Her palms are sweaty, sticky on the vinyl of the steering wheel. She pulls the Jeep to the shoulder and rubs her hands on the fronts of her thighs. It shouldn’t be so hot, she thinks, and then, I wonder if the team is here yet.
She’d been supervising another site across the border yesterday, unearthing a femur, a bit of spine. They’d already shipped a bit of skull to the lab, and as they’d packed up the site for the night she’d gotten the call. Garcia’s voice had been hurried, excited – he’d begged her to cross back to Canada and see “it”, and who was she to resist a pretty face?
But her heart’s racing now, and she has to stop and breathe, fingers still clenched on the steering wheel. The dry heat of the morning almost makes her hair stand on end, or maybe it’s her nerves, and finally she climbs out of the jeep. A week or so ago she’d been here to identify what a local museum believed was an egg, actually a chunk of Cretaceous-era skull, and she’d left a team to keep digging, but only after they’d promised the solemn farmer to stay in just the one pasture, please. And she’d felt something, something special, something big, something career changing, but then she always did at a fresh site, and she’d brushed it off then.
She clambers down the shoulder to the double ruts that lead back up to the site, stumble in a gopher hole, and then crests the rise. The fence gate is open, and behind it the scar in the grass, covered in tarps and cordoned off with yellow rope. There’s tents nuzzled against the fence line, and she goes there first, to the one with the big rip in the door that she knows is Garcia’s. He pulls the door open as she crosses in front of it, grinning. “Saw you through the rip.”
“So show me your find, hey?” She knows better than to press Garcia about the details, he likes the big reveal – and he grins, because he knows she knows, and crawls out of his tent and nearly drags her to the pit. Under the rope fence they go, and down the path in between individually marked plots, to an auspicious small green tarp that Garcia stops beside, grinning like a proud father.
“You gotta see this,” he says, and delicately lifts the corner of the tarp up. Her heart’s pounding, and she knows Garcia likes the slow reveal, but she just can’t wait anymore, and wiping her sweaty palms down the fronts of her thighs, she takes the other corner and pulls it off with him.
Under it is a delicate circle of bone. A skull, elongated, it looks like a medium sized theropod’s – but the skull cavity is larger, rounded. Her eyes track downward, following the spine down to arms that are longer than average, through to – and she turns to Garcia, and his eyes are like dinner plates as he grins at her. “Yeah, you’re seeing it. loving hands. loving thumbs.”
They’re delicate, fine, and she doesn’t know how they would have survived this long in the dirt, would’ve thought it was a hoax, but the ground here hasn’t been moved except for the first level of topsoil being churned by cattle hooves. She doesn’t know, doesn’t know, feels really far out of her body, sits heavily down onto the hard dirt, and looks up at him. “Garcia, are you sure?”
He’s still grinning, staring down at the skeleton. “We dug through 6 feet of rock and dirt to get to this, meu bem. Unless we have someone who can lay hundreds of square feet of ground to look like sediment, I don’t think this is a hoax.”
“Jesus.” They stare together at it for a moment. “What does this mean?”
He rests a jittery hand on her shoulder. She looks up at him, as if through leagues of sea water – and he’s shaking like a leaf.
“Everything. We're golden. Once we chip this out and take it to the lab… If it dates right, it’ll be bigger than Archaeopteryx.”
The words settle over her like an electric blanket, but then something else settles over her too – and Garcia freezes, mouth half-forming some other sentence, and then a cool voice cuts through the heat. “We really appreciate you digging this up for us!” She finds that she cannot turn her head, that she’s rooted through the ground. “This can’t get out, though. Can’t believe we missed it, what with you snoopy apes digging through the dirt.”
The voice gets closer, and Garcia’s fingers tense on her shoulder, and then there’s a heavy weight on her other. She looks through the corner of her eye and sees pebbled skin, grey and gold, flashing bright gold, and the thing says, “Really, though, thanks for digging it up. I know it would’ve been big, but I have to make you forget. I could kill you, really,” and a cold chill rolls down her spine. “But I’ve always thought that’s just plain inelegant.” There’s a whisper like a laugh. “No, I’ll just make you forget. I’ll leave you a gift, though. Something to remember me by?”
And it laughs again, and she feels like she’s falling, and
She blinks awake, head pillowed on Garcia’s chest. He’s carding his hand through her hair, and she smiles against his skin.
“Get up, lazy,” he murmurs. “I still have to show you the little guy.”
She begins to giggle.
At length, they crawl out of the tent and mix with the others, students, younger paleontologists, hired hands, who stream down into the pit and towards an auspicious small green tarp. Garcia’s bouncing on his heels, and she knows he loves the big reveal, so she nods to him, and carefully he pulls the corner up and over, and beneath is the most perfectly formed, intact juvenile Albertosaurus she’s ever seen. It lays in a delicate circle of bone, curled as if it’s chasing its tail, and she bends down, because – yes, she can see feathered imprints in the stone, and a laugh bubbles out of her in delight.
It feels like a weight’s lifted off of her, and she looks up into the golden light at Garcia. He grins down at her. “Meu bem, I think this’ll be big. Big as Archaeopteryx.”
The words settle over her like an electric blanket, and her hair stands up on end. There’s a feeling, and then it’s gone before she knows what it is, and a smile spreads over her face. “I think you might be right.”
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 04:03|
A Series of Serious Beats
You believe that Grégoire, the ungrateful scoundrel, has had sex with your wife. Possibly on multiple occasions. Your wife cannot explain the soggy ape-like footprints leading towards the seamonkey tank. Nor can she justify the cigarette burns in the bedsheets. The strands of fur on the pillow cases. You thought you had her for sure when you found the sexual poetry in her nightstand but she insists that you are simply being paranoid, that Grégoire is just a very good friend, and that your evidence is circumstantial at best.
You continue to supply Grégoire with cigarettes and wine because, at the end of the day, he is still your pet and because he is French and needs it. It strikes you as inhumane to deny a creature of its basic needs even if you suspect said creature is regularly fornicating with your wife. You do bring him bagels instead of baguettes, though. But you admittingly find this is a petty and unsatisfying course of action.
You regularly confront Grégoire in your mind. You convince yourself that you would be very smooth and debonair with your words. In real life, you do not converse with Grégoire even when he tries to compare and contrast jazz musicians. You make small talk over Charles Mingus and nothing more.
There is always a ruckus in the master bedroom (circumstantial) when you come home from work. But by the time you reach the top of the stairs all is quiet. Your wife is naked and out of breath. The bed is water logged. The room has the musky smell of a wet animal. She says she just got out of the shower and you try to believe this. Whenever you check the seamonkey tank, Grégoire is always there: listening to jazz with a cigarette between his gills. The two of you exchange smiles even though it feels like you have a black hole in your stomach. He invites you into a conversation.
“No, thank you,” you say.
You purchase a firearm.
Your wife spends long periods of time on her phone. She turns away when you try and see what she is doing on it. She tells you to mind your own business when you ask. Grégoire tells you that if you need to check her phone then things are already over. Which makes some sense. Even if there is nothing incriminating on the phone (either because she deleted it or it never existed) you have demonstrated a lack of trust indicative of a troubled relationship.
“Don’t listen to Grégoire,” the phone doesn't actually say, “Don’t you think he’d have an alternative motive?”
What you discover breaks your heart. Specifically the picture album named “Gettin’ It On.” Your wife takes up a position of moral superiority when you confront her over the naked photos. She asserts that you were in the wrong for snooping and that the pictures were artistic nudes. This makes them circumstantial evidence. They are also a French thing you couldn’t possibly understand because you’ve never held an appreciation for the arts like she has. She brings up the time you fell asleep during Les Misérables and how it embarrassed her since her parents had paid good money for those seats. You unsuccessfully try and steer the conversation back to the issue of the nudity but she is so vicious in her tirade against your philistinial tendencies that you find yourself apologizing.
You sleep on the couch.
You cover your face with a pillow that stinks of seamonkey fur. You wear earplugs to block out the animal noises. You were wrong about the phone. She just likes showers. Artistic nudes. You eat a part of a baguette and crumble the rest into your shirt. Imaginary confrontations with Grégoire run rampant in your mind. You come up with a list of pithy one-liners you’d like to use before you pull the trigger.
“What do you call an exploding monkey,” you growl (mentally).
You are quite proud of that one. Your favorite scenarios, though, are the ones where you shock Grégoire into speechlessness. You ask, “Are you sleeping with my wife?” which such brazenness that it freezes him in place. Then you shoot him and it is very satisfying. Each night you spend listening to animal noises increases the satisfaction you get from shooting him.
You hear your wife moan, “Oh Grégoire,” for exactly the three-thousand one-hundred and twenty-first time. An auspicious number. You retrieve the pistol from your car. The house is quiet when you reach the top of the stairs. Your wife is naked. Grégoire is in his tank.
“Bonjour,” Grégoire says, unaware of your murderous intent.
“Are you sleeping with my wife?” you growl (in real life).
“Of course,” he says with such casual nonchalance that it freezes you in place. He lights up a cigarette and puts it to his gills. That dirty ape! You unsheath your cowboy sixshooter and shoot him once in the chest. He glances down in surprise.
“Why?” he whispers as blood begins to fill the tank.
“I don’t know,” you say knowing full well why. You kick yourself for blowing your opportunity for a strong one-liner. You never get the chance to rectify the mistake because your wife runs in screaming. She dives into Grégoire’s tank and holds his face to her bosom and cries. Grégoire whispers things to her in French but you didn’t sign up to take French in highschool because you thought Latin would help with standardized tests so his last words are forever lost to you. Your wife rocks him against her chest and runs her fingers through his fur until every drop of water in the tank is dyed red.
You bury Grégoire in the backyard. Your wife wouldn’t let you flush him down the toilet. In lieu of a tombstone and an epitaph you leave your first review on Amazon.
“Advertising on box is misleading,” you write, “Not fun for the whole family.”
You click one star.
“Good knowledge of jazz,” you add.
You bump the review up to two stars and hit submit.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 04:39|
Im not gonna make it this week, so the dm throne will not be mine
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 04:41|
"I guess that's one way to mourn your career," Claire mumbled as she helped me stumble into the diner. It was one of those 50's throwback places- checkered floor, red vinyl seats, polished chrome trim everywhere. All I cared was that the cheery music was too loud and the lights were too drat bright.
"You know we're about to close, right?" The waitress asked as she sat us down at a window booth.
"Sure, I just need to get some greasy food in my friend here." Claire said, "Always helps with hangovers."
She lingered for a moment, but went back to the kitchen without saying anything.
"Geez, you'd think she'd at least take our orders or something..." Claire pouted.
I looked out the window. Outside was a green meadow, the sun was out, and in the distance there was a rough, serrated mountain range.
"Hey, wasn't there a parking lot out there before?" I pointed outside and Claire followed my finger.
"Yup." Claire said with a shrug.
"No, seriously, what happened to your car? This is-"
I was cut off by the bell on the door as four people walked in to the diner. All but one were tall, blonde women, who wore brightly colored armor, and had white feathered wings on their backs. The odd one out was a rather effeminate man with a wispy moustache and blood stains all over his clothes. The women plopped down into the seats in the booth next to ours with sighs of relief.
"Remember when this job didn't involve so much walking?" One of them asked the others, who tiredly agreed and engaged in small-talk.
Rather than sitting with them, the man wandered to the restrooms and went inside. The women didn't pay attention to him or us and continued their chatter. Claire was awestruck and stared with her mouth open, leaning out into the aisle to try to get a better look at them.
"LeShawndra!" She whispered, quickly glancing from me to them, "Omigod, LeShawndra, look at them!"
I was more interested in the nondescript man who was walking away from the restrooms with a key in his hand and a sly grin on his face. We locked eyes for a moment. I squinted as I tried to get my hangover-addled brain working. He briefly raised a finger to his lips, then walked away. I looked around, but no one else seemed to have seen him.
"Wait, where did the warrior go?" One of the women in the other booth asked.
"Who cares," Another answered, "One mortal's as good as another." She turned around, resting her elbow on the divider between our booths, and looked at Claire, "Hey, you wanna go to Valhalla?"
"Uh, sure?" Claire's eyes flicked to me.
"Cool, let's go." She climbed out of the booth and the others followed suit.
"Okay." Claire got up and followed them to the door.
"Doesn't this seem kind of-" I tried to protest, but stood up too quickly and was forced back by a wave of nausea. They had already walked outside by the time I got to my feet.
"Bye, LeShawndra!" She called to me on her way out the door, "Good luck finding your next job!"
My head was clearing as I lurched my way after them, but the sunlight outside made me stagger, giving them an even larger lead.
"God, someone needs to turn the sun down." I remarked to no one in particular.
I shielded my eyes with my hand as I followed the group through the meadow to a path. I tried to catch up, but they had me outpaced and soon disappeared from view. The path was paved with smooth stones and lead out of the meadow up into the mountains, where it was carved directly into the mountainsides. It didn't fork, so I hoped that they were all sticking to the path as well. I didn't feel myself getting tired, and the sun barely inched across the sky.
The path cut through a grove and split to go around a massive tree that was covered in golden foliage. The leaves spun in the breeze, flashing as they caught the sunlight. I kept my eyes down and rubbed my aching temples.
The path rejoined after the tree and lead up to a tall, wooden building, stopping at an imposing double door. I tried to open it, but it was locked, so I checked around the perimiter for another way in. In the back, there was a humbly proportioned, crude door. I gave it a shove. It creaked open and I invited myself inside.
Inside, there was a middle aged man in faded, vaugely purple robes sitting at a desk and scribbling notes on a sheet of paper while talking to himself.
"Who knew that hosting a gigantic feast for millions that lasts for several millenia would be so expensive," He muttered, glaring at the page, "I didn't allow for enough time. I really didn't expect Ragnarok to take so long to start. At least Odin agreed on my recommended cutbacks to the Valkyrie budget..."
I tapped him on the shoulder, causing him to jerk in surprise. He whirled around to look at me, knocking his stool over.
"A living mortal woman? In Valhalla?" He asked, incredulous, "Did you get lost?"
"No, I followed my friend, who was taken here." I paused when I realized that the top of his head barely reached past my shoulders, "Who are you? I thought the Norse gods were supposed to be... taller."
"Call me Hunding. I am no god. Think of me as the maitre'd of Valhalla."
"Can you help me find my friend?"
"I don't see why not. It'll give me a break from trying to fix this frostbitten budget."
We stood on a balcony overlooking the dining hall within Valhalla. From the bulky tables, to the spear shafts as pillars, to the shields lining the ceiling, everything about the place seemed solid and ancient.
"Is that your friend?" He said, pointing down at Claire. By appearance, she was quite out of place, still in her modern-day clothing. However, she seemed to have adjusted quickly, gorging on food, telling stories, and joyfully singing with the men around her. I caught her eye and she smiled and waved before turning back to her new companions. I sighed. Hunding sighed as well.
"I can't take her away from this."
"I was hoping you'd say that. The reassignment paperwork is such a pain. Freya and Hel always take so long to sign off on it when it gets to them..."
"I wonder if that diner's still there..."
"Oh, that? It just sort of comes and goes."
"Don't ya'll have a bridge to the mortal world or something?"
"Eh, sort of."
"Sort of?" I glared at Hunding.
"We leased it to the Chinese government for 100 years."
"poo poo." I leaned onto the balcony railing and put my head in my hands.
"Well," He said with a wink, "At the moment, we have a job opening for a new Valkyrie. We just let one go after she tried to fool Odin with a bystander's soul after losing a warrior..."
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 04:42|
The Amalgolem 967 Words. :nsfw:
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 04:55|
Word count: 1,081
I am reminded for the third time in my life the whys I left Shimer Manor. The first concern being basic structural integrity; the building is half supported by land and half by a scattering of wooden pillars, descending into the freshwater lake sixty-seven feet below. (I’ve measured, for safety calculations as part of larger, more involved escape plans from my teenage years and also from my sister’s wedding just two months ago.) The drop from the third floor balcony facing the south side is a tricky one, as you would prefer to land in the five foot gap between the rocks and the Water That Never Stops Boiling, both purported selling features of the home and I’m told it would be a shame if I were to do anything to devalue them. The drop from the third floor balcony facing the north side is not advised.
I walk up to the door, ornate designs that curve endlessly in on themselves in the shape of birds, vines, and the dent where my sister’s new then, ex now husband drove an axe through. I think it adds character, my father disagreed. With a pull of the cord, the doorbell thrums, a low frequency wave that you don’t hear as much as feel through your body. After about five minutes, my sister comes to the door, as haggard as I last saw. “Malcom, it’s good to-“
I cut her off, “I’m here to pay my respects and go. I didn’t bring anything, and I’m not bringing anything home.” I go to move past her, but now she cuts me off, “Hey rear end in a top hat, thanks for bringing your shining personality all the way out here. Boy have I missed this.” I’ve had this fight before, but I’m not above having it again. “You should really leave Maine Margret. Hey, maybe you’ll meet a guy that isn’t a loving psychopath.”
That did it. “You mother fucker.” Before I can even think I’m tackled onto the porch outside. “Keep talking, rear end in a top hat, keep saying words. I need more reasons to beat the poo poo out of you.”
I’m not done, and I don’t care. “How’s the therapy been going?” She just yells as she slugs me across the face. Then she yells again. “Motherfucker! I think I broke my hand.” She gets up off of me holding her wrist, and walks off in the direction of the kitchen. I get up, and feel as my jaw begins to numb. At least she isn’t catatonic anymore. I walk in and standing there, looking prim, proper, and utterly appaled is Smythe, the family lawyer.
“What, you weren’t going to do anything about that?” He delays his response, trying to be tactful, but eventually just goes with “…You’re a complete rear end in a top hat.”
“Thank you!” my sister shouts over the sound of running water from the kitchen. “Thanks. Oh and I decline,” I’m not wasting a second. “You… What?” Smythe is confused.
“I’ll make myself clear. I. Decline. I’m not taking anything from this place. I’m not taking any money, or the house, or the furniture,” And now I can hear Margret laughing from the edge of the room.
“Ah ha ha ha ha! Money? House? You’re getting the goddamn box,” she comes in, hand on ice.
Oh gently caress. “No, no definitely not. I’m not taking the drat box.” I’m shouting at this point, as Smythe shoves something into my gut. “The Mantricel Music Box has been in this family and this home for generations-“ My immediate reaction is to drop the drat thing, but I know too well.
“That’s right Mr. ‘I’m fifteen years old and I’m gonna make it on my own’, it’s yours. You get to hold on to it. It’s your responsibility,” Margret says, looking elated.
Beautiful wood carving decorated with a massive amethyst gem on top, The Mantricel Music Box is an antique guaranteed to wow your friends and relatives. The melody it produces is intricately layered and is guaranteed to drive Those Who Are Not Worthy into a bloodlust, followed by a desire to take a bath in the Water That Never Stops Boiling. I’ve never heard its song. Margret has, as was part of her eighteenth birthday, as has Smythe, as part of the screening process to be the family lawyer. Margret’s ex-husband, as you might have guessed, has also heard it. I hear medication has done wonders for him.
“This is it, huh?” I’m staring at it now. I know what they want.
That’s it; I’m getting it over with. With the way I’m feeling, I’m okay with whatever happens. “Well,” I say to everyone, “Let’s start the show.” I open the box-
"You are the only person I know who would complain about 30 cents."
"It was $1.06," he corrected.
“What, is there some kind of super small I’m not aware of?” I say, only now noticing that his cup is in fact smaller than mine.
“Value size.” He explains, “16 oz, on the dollar menu. I said 16 oz and she said she heard a 20 oz. Even by that, she still got it wrong.”
I let it go. I’m not fond of complaining about or with fast food employees, especially when they are still standing fifteen feet away
…What? I close the box, and open it again-
"Is this free?"
“I guess, I mean it’s community run so, sorta.” I run out of words, a common problem.
"Okay well, I'm not a writer," he clarified, "but what I would do is like, I’ve read some Stephen King, like Christine, when they get the thing, like it’s something they really want, like a house or a car, but people end up dead and they think it’s cursed. So the spend time trying to get rid of the curse, but then it’s revealed that it wasn’t cursed, but instead it was this tiny other thing that nobody noticed."
"It's got a twelve-hundred word limit."
"Twelve-hundred or twelve-thousand?"
"Oh, nevermind," he said, and took a drink from his value cup.
Oh, gently caress this. You know, I’ve got a life, one I’ve worked really hard to make happen. I have a wife and a kid back in Cali and here I am in Maine with this stupid bullshit. gently caress you, I’m not having my life dictated by some rear end in a top hat in a burger king. I don’t even say anything, I put down the box and leave. I have better things to do.
I loving hate this place.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 04:59|
That's a wrap!
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 05:02|
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 05:03|
Oh, gently caress, I thought submissions closed at 10. I just got home, I should be done within 30 min, but I accept a lack of mercy should it come to pass. If I get banned I'll post after I re-reg.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 05:16|
Get that story in within the next few hours and you may find Grizzled Patriarch merciful enough to only gum your jugular a little.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 05:29|
And The Days Go By
Maria had not expected to see herself when she opened the door, but there she was, breezing right past her and into the house.
“We need to talk,” her doppelganger said, heading for the kitchen table where she sat down with an authoritative air. Maria followed, pulling a seat out for herself and sitting tentatively.
“I’m sorry, but… What’s going on?”
“Come on, Maria, don’t be stupid,” her other self said, glaring fiercely in a way that Maria vaguely remembered once seeing in the mirror. “You’re miserable, and I’m tired of it. It’s time to get out.”
“What? Get out of what?”
“This!” the other her gestured around herself angrily. “The misery, the lying, the trappings of a life you never wanted! What on earth have you been thinking this whole time? Did you really manage to convince yourself that you were happy?”
Maria looked around herself at the house. The walls and furniture seemed suddenly too vivid to be real, as though the place that she had spent the last ten years of her life was an advertisement printed on an over-glossy page. She wondered how she had managed to not notice before now.
“Hadn’t it occurred to you that you’re not who you meant to be?”
Maria glanced sharply back at herself, who now appeared substantially younger, in her twenties, with the traces of worry and care that had begun to dog Maria’s face now rewound and erased. Maria reached out to her and recoiled in alarm at the sight of her own hand - wrinkles and veins suddenly sprouted across it in a web, and spots of age marred her knuckles.
“What are you doing to me?” Maria said, touching her wizened hand to a face that was sagging and shriveling beneath her fingers. Her other self, across the table, smiled sadly at her.
“Nothing you haven’t done to yourself.”
Maria stood and rushed to an ornate, full-length mirror in the hallway, it’s too-bright glass reflecting her face in perfect, harsh detail. Wrinkles that had started near her eyes and forehead blossomed across her face, deepening and spreading their tendrils in fractal folds. A bruise appeared along her jaw and faded; a livid scar flushed one cheek and then washed to a pale crescent.
“Has he hit you yet?” her other self asked from behind her, a teenager now, with dark, imploring eyes.
“No,” Maria said, tracing the scar with a bony finger. “He would never.”
“Wouldn’t he?” A child stood behind her, her eyes wide with fear.
Maria turned around. A baby lay behind her in swaddling clothes, eyes closed in a fitful sleep. A note was pinned to her front like a foundling: Save us.
She picked up the baby in trembling, arthritic hands, and held the tiny bundle to her chest. She turned around, searching, lost.
Her eyes settled on the door, and she took her first, agonizing step towards it.
Her bones ached, but she kept moving. Her joints screamed, but she kept moving. Her muscles tore and stabbed at her, but she kept moving.
The paper veneer of the life she had been living crinkled and tore around her, and from the blackness behind it burst chains of gold and diamond, rings and bracelets, and wreaths of lilies, her favorite flower. They twined around her legs and sang to her, stay, stay.
Her wedding ring burned on her finger like a torturer’s iron. She felt herself slow.
A mewling came from the precious cargo she carried, and she looked down to see the baby fade and disappear, leaving nothing but the blanket she had been wrapped in. The ring on her finger burned a dark hole through the soft material, until it began to smolder and singe, finally burning away into nothing. All that remained was the ring, tightening like a vice around her ancient, care-worn hand.
Maria screamed, a sound that started deep within her and that reverberated out and through the cardboard diorama of her life. It shattered the chains that bound her, melting the gold and burning the lilies. Diamonds and jewels turned to dust and blew away. The magazine ad furniture, the house, the garden, all melted like spun sugar left too long in the sun.
She wrenched the ring off of her finger, and with it, the years fell away, peeling off like a shed skin. She threw it to the floor, and her old life crumbled around her, subsiding into nothing.
It started to rain, softly, a warm shower touching her new skin. She stepped out of what had once been her house and gazed at the sky.
Slowly, dazedly, she fished her phone from her pocket, surprised that it was still there after all that had happened. She opened it and dialed a number she knew by heart.
“Hi, Mom? Um, would it be okay if I came and stayed with you for a while? Yeah, I thought it was about time.”
Somewhere inside her, her other self smiled.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 05:39|
Write about somebody failing.
200 words. GO!
Oh, and I also made this: http://vocaroo.com/i/s1lbBaOqnsfi
ZeBourgeoisie fucked around with this message at 05:52 on Dec 15, 2014
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 05:41|
Wait... poo poo.
"Okay," she said. "Midnight EST is 10 pm PST, right? I've got another hour, there's no problem!"
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 05:45|
The Great Escape
Word Count: 82 words
Bad Ideas Good had a problem, his story was too short. "Gee, this half a draft that I hate isn't done yet, and it's only ten minutes until midnight. Wait! What if I combine this terrible draft with that other half a draft that I loath! It'll be seamless." And so he copy and pasted those drafts together. "There, I did it. That took a lot out of me, so I guess there's no time for proofreading!" And then he clicked submit reply.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 06:16|
I ask that everyone keep BlueSquares in their prayers while he recovers from straining way too hard to write his Thunderdome entry this week.
Fallen in the line of duty:
edit: This is my interprompt entry.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 07:32|
I ask that everyone keep BlueSquares in their prayers while he recovers from straining way too hard to write his Thunderdome entry this week.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 07:36|
Week 123 Results!
Well guys, this was a rough week. There were a bunch of failures, and a bunch of entries that forgot to tell a story. There were only two stories that really stuck out to all of the judges, and a bunch that were competing for DMs. (Kaishai and I may or may not have had to strap Seafood down to keep this week from being like 30% DMs)
Your winner this week is Tyrannosaurus, who told us a genuinely funny story about a sea monkey, demonstrating a strong grasp of surrealism and putting second-person PoV to great use.
Honorable Mention goes to Sitting Here, for writing a moving, surreal story about dead letters. This was a super close call, with the judges literally arguing for hours about who should win.
Dishonorable Mentions go to Boozahol, December Octopodes, Gau, Bad Ideas Good, JABC, and Paladinus, for various reasons that will become clear after crits are posted.
The loser this week is Roguelike, who managed to tell a story so convoluted that literally none of the judges could make heads or tails of it.
Tyrannosaurus, the chair is yours!
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 10:38|
judging very faster...good
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 13:00|
Welp, that's my signal to take a break. I'm not getting better by throwing myself at every prompt.
Happy Holidays, everyone! Now, to cry alone into my drink and hope the emotional scars heal.
Know your limits
I snapped awake to the knock on the door with the controller still in my hand and a ship creaking endlessly around me. Did I fall asleep? When did I start playing Alien: Isolation? When did I order food?
That knock brought me back to a dreadful clarity that sent me shambling off the couch and to answer the door. The delivery man handed me a bag of McDonalds, finally noticed that the fries were missing, and promised me that he'd be back with the proper order. I barely heard a word he was saying. I took my sad meal back to the computer screen, hit alt-tab, and looked at the openoffice doc.
A loving trainwreck played out before me, words arranged in barely coherent streams of thought born from some mix of masochism and fever dream mixed with the hope I could be better than I was. Only now, at the low end of a week of procrastination and with a toxx staring me in the face did it really hit me how poor it was. How seemingly naive my idea had been. And how badly I'd brace for what came next.
Edit, copy, paste, post.
Also, that vocaroo gave me an idea for something to do.
J.A.B.C. fucked around with this message at 14:26 on Dec 15, 2014
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 14:15|
Merry Christmas, dude. Oh and congrats T-Rex. Thanks for the irc advice, too.
Welp, that's my signal to take a break. I'm not getting better by throwing myself at every prompt.
EDIT: Get well soon, Bluesquares. And Merry Christmas to you, too!
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 14:26|
I ask that everyone keep BlueSquares in their prayers while he recovers from straining way too hard to write his Thunderdome entry this week.
once again bluesquares is buying fits that are way too big for him
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 14:40|
I enjoyed your story, although not enough to put it in contention for an HM. Mostly I enjoyed your excellent use of the prompt - your experience trying to find a Jack Rose was similar to that of those two Washington Post writers. It was a tricky prompt to work with, and I'm glad you were able to make it shine through.
But when a big part of the enjoyment of a story requires personal knowledge, there is a problem with the story. You had an arc, and things happened, but the stakes are so low and the change is so minuet that it's hard to feel much of anything. A bit more build up of the relationship between Ruth and your protagonist would have helped, or something to make your protagonist's acceptance of change more meaningful. I enjoy subtle stories of quiet emotions, but there has to be some UMPH behind it.
You also had good, solid prose - no technical errors, clean writing, good words. It was nothing spectacular, but it served the needs of the story. Just... use those words to say something a little more dramatic. A broken marriage, a dead kid, car accident - something more than a magazine cover!
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 19:49|
Judgeburps Fit the third
I still owe a bunch of detail crits, which will be forthcoming.
Benny the Snake, the Hunt
So this is 'good' by virtue of not being noticeably 'bad'. You've got a minimum of proofreading errors, dumb info dumps and dull autistic protagonists. But it's all bare minimum stuff; what happens, dude shoots caribou, is menaced by wolves, gets a scar-he-will-remember-for-the-rest-of-his-days? It's a competent assemblage of story shaped stuff, but to actually be more than a flash fiction mcdonalds happy meal there needs to be something more happening under the hood, though the father-son stuff had a bit of juice.
Ironic Twist, March
This has good words, as you're tired of hearing. So what's wrong with it? Partly it's the classic 'start halfway through' issue - if you start this with 'the gritty snow crunched' I really don't see how the story suffers, which means you're wasting words. But more than that it's backloaded to the point of physical pain; and i think the lardy opener is a symptom of that. Get to the Point Faster, Ironic Twist. Eschew your username and have your main character tell us what he wants in the first para. It'll be weird but hey it might be awesome what do you think
Auraboks not too bad
hilarious and well sketched set up - you let us know what sort of story this is in the first para, which is important when you're running a fine-ish line between parody and emotoinal realism. But it's missing an essential element, which is an obstacle for the protagonist to overcome. Freedomfest itself isn't one, since he's p chill about it, the Object of Desire character isn't one, since she just goes lol yup ok. And his own fear is... i guess sort of one? but really it's a given that since he's out looking for her in the face of live fire, he's gonna hop that hurdle. So you're left with a lot of nice bits that don't make a satisfying story.
T.Rex, the strongest man in cuba
Great words, a wonderful character, packed with neat details, left with the biggest 'so what' in Cuba or indeed anywhere. A Strongman carrying an anchor across to America is a great image.... but so what?
This has similar issues to T.rex's, though less so. I like your words, the intricately imagined descriptions of the transplantations is pleasingly surreal, but it doesn't really resolve it; it's like at the end the protagonist says 'make this a not story'. Not satisfying, but I feel like you were nearly there - this could be a good one to revisit, what's a better and more satisfying ending you could have found?
GrizzPat: Time is an Ocean but it ends at the shore
Exemplary first para, first para fans - tells us what kind of story we're in for, sketches a character (two, actually) and sets up a challenge and a mystery. and unlike the other 'good start shame about the story' crew this week, you actually resolve it. Good words and structure aside, I like a wonky surrealism of the protagonists experiences; reminds me of Wolfe's brilliant Forlesen. And that ending is how you do it right - poised on a line and on each side is something unthinkable.
Crabrock: the red shame diaries
By rights this really shouldn’t work, and the only reason it does is because it takes itself seriously. the ending, for instance, would be a dumb trick ending (oh i was so silly then, yes, much more mature now thanks to O BTW DIDN’T MENTION AUTOEMASCULATION) if it had a hint of loldicks about it. But: good words (though needed another proofreading pass) good emotions, great start/finish.
Kurona Bright: Category 5 Jerk
This has mostly ok words, though it suffers from a little televisionitis where you tell us all the details instead of the ones that matter, but the story is such a vaporous puff of swamp gas that it’s nearly impossible to care about it or the vapid excuses for characters that populate it.
Baby Babbeh Selfies
This is a bunch of stuff that happened, using ‘happened’ in the loosest and most flaccid sense. It sort of has characters and i guess something happens though i would be hard pressed to explain exactly what. But once it was finished it didn’t have any more words in it so there’s that. There’s something about photos, and… then it stops.
Phobia Tongue Tied
It’s is only ever short for ‘it is’, Phobia. Also what the poo poo is up with those bolded first letters. And ‘Hollywood Trite’ is a strange phrase that seems to mean more to your characters than it does to me; however you have some moderately effective horror in there, so there’s that. Plus you got a story in; and that’s a good goddam thing.
Your Sledgehammer Interstate 80
Yeaaaaaah this is actually pretty competently written with the words and the way they’re put together ect ect but but but, really, what happens? Dude is driving, has a few enigmatic words with someone who might be jesus or seomthig , story throws up its hands and does a retard grin and pulls up its shirt to show THTHTHTHATS ALL FOLKS written on its flabby belly in candyfloss lipstick.
Fuschia Tude Circumvolution
This is nearly pretty decent, and in retrospect I’d nudge you up to a B-. It fails on closing the deal - ‘then i hit him in the face and ran away’ isn’t an end, it’s a stop. You have a nice tense setup with teh two dudes, they’re well sketched, the dialogue is ok; but why not tell us what they want? Why not surprise us?
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 22:10|
Let’s get this straight: absolutely no erotica this this week. None. Zero. Not this week. To be honest, I don’t ever want to see any erotica but I feel the need to specifically point it out here because y’all are about to write me some motherfucking fanfiction.
Welcome to CXXIV. May God have mercy on our souls.
Before you lose your goddamn minds, lemme say that I don’t want to see any stupid poo poo. Your story should be inspired by another work but it needs to stand alone as an independent piece. So for all my aspiring young Snowqueen’s Icedragons out there go ahead and change names, places, and locations before you hit submit. Change characters, genders, friendships, everything. Go hog wild. Make your story your own story. Give me City of Bones not Draco Malfoy and the Philosopher's Stone. Let's ride this train to moneyland.
*Sign up and choose a work of literature or a movie or whatever. Post your choice in the thread.
*You don’t have to choose right when you sign up. You may wait until midnight on Friday night (EST)
*Once something has been claimed it is off the board for everyone else. No repeats.
Word Limit: 1200
Signs-up Deadline: Friday at midnight (EST)
Submissions Deadline: Sunday at midnight (HAST)
Works in Progress
blue squares - JUDGE ASSIGNED Night of the Living Dummy, RL Stine
Jitzu_the_monk - Medea, Euripides
Maugrim - Grimm's Fairy Tales
Fanky Malloons - Wool, Hugh Howey
Nethilia - Diamonds and Toads, Charles Perrault
kurona_bright - Young Wizards, Diane Duane
Grizzled Patriarch - The Hunger Artist, Franz Kafka
docbeard - A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L'Engle
SealHammer - JUDGE ASSIGNED Peyton Manning
ZeBourgeoise, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
SurreptitiousMuffin - Discworld, Men at Arms, Terry Pratchet
Nubile Hillock - The Winter Market, William Gibson
newtestleper- Hardy Boys, Franklin W. Dixon
Phobia - JUDGE ASSIGNED Battle Royal
Screaming Idiot - Megaman X
Benny the Snake - Dead Beat, Jim Butcher
Dr. Kloctopussy - JUDGE ASSIGNED Talladega Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby
sebmojo - the Many Colored Land series, Julian May
Sitting Here - Star Trek: TNG
Entenzahn - Sherlock Holmes
crabrock - Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 05:53 on Dec 20, 2014
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 23:33|
In. Infinite Jest
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 23:35|
In: Euripides's Medea.
|# ? Dec 15, 2014 23:59|
In. Grimms' Fairy Tales.
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 00:02|
As if people don't gently caress up timezones enough, you have to use two different ones??
In, but idk with what yet.
Edit: Probably Wool by Hugh Howey though
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 01:09|
In with "Diamonds and Toads" by Charles Perrault.
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 01:11|
Okay, there is no way I'm passing this up. I already read too much of the stuff as it is.
In, but I haven't decided
Edit: Diane Duane's Young Wizards series.
kurona_bright fucked around with this message at 04:26 on Dec 20, 2014
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 02:21|
In with Franz Kafka, A Hunger Artist.
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 21:56 on Dec 16, 2014
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 02:42|
|# ? Jul 7, 2022 10:44|
In, with A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle.
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 03:34|