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Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007


Twelve hour work days are too hard. Reverse engineering is too hard. UTC is definitely too hard, mark my words.

Gimme one of those extra-spicy virtues/viceys. And I'm claiming that -250 word bonus in advance, because more bonuses are more better. This'll be a piece of cake.


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

I'm not in this week, but I would like to pre-emptively sign up for the next Mercbrawl, if that's a thing that can be done.

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.

:siren::siren::siren::byodood:MERC-BR4WL: IT’S GOOD TO BE BAD:byodood::siren::siren::siren:

Super Villains are the poo poo. They got all this power and instead of using it for good, they destroy stuff cause sometimes, you just want to see something burn. Super Villains are the stuff made of nightmares with abilities that cause regular heroes to poo poo their pants. You own the city; gently caress it! You own the world!

But goddamit, you’re hungry/bored/thirsty/feeling a little bit under the weather.

Three non-winner domers will step up and they will write about a world conquering super villain stuck doing everyday-things. God help you if you make the story boring. Remember this was how Black Jesus was born.

I’ve changed the way I’m doing prizes a little. I’ve done this already to some extent, but now I’m making it official. By actually finishing your story and posting it, you, the victim, get to pick one non-DRM game off the list as your Participation Prize. If you don’t post a story, you get poo poo and you’re banned from further Merc-Brawls. Furthermore, winners get to pick a game from the non-bolded list and whichever bolded games you want. Yes, multiple games. No, there is no limit to how many you can pick. Yes, this rule is retroactive, so previous winners can get in contact with me with a list of games they want.

Why am I doing this? Because I want you guys to give it your loving all. No half-assed unpolished turds. I want you to use your two whole loving weeks to write the best story you can possibly make.

2,500 words max due October 14

:siren::siren:A Guest Judge Appears!:siren::siren:
The Lord of Darkness arises from his eons of slumber to discover he is out of milk and the fridge smells terrible.

Ironic Twist (I'll allow it because you posted so close to when I was getting ready to post)
satsui no thankyou

Mercedes fucked around with this message at 02:30 on Oct 1, 2014

Jun 20, 2013

I'm in. Virtue please.



Feb 27, 2013

I'm in!

Edit: For the normal contest, not the brawl.

Nov 18, 2008

Well, I haven't won anything save a whole bunch of DMs and this losertar- can I enter?

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.

CommissarMega posted:

Well, I haven't won anything save a whole bunch of DMs and this losertar- can I enter?

Of course. Good luck!

Nov 18, 2008

Well then, count me in for the brawl! Who wants to destroy freedom and democracy with me?!

satsui no thankyou
Apr 23, 2011

i'll brawl as well

Aug 8, 2013



This will be interesting.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




Virtue: Magnificence

Hammer Bro. posted:

Twelve hour work days are too hard. Reverse engineering is too hard. UTC is definitely too hard, mark my words.

Gimme one of those extra-spicy virtues/viceys. And I'm claiming that -250 word bonus in advance, because more bonuses are more better. This'll be a piece of cake.


leekster posted:

I'm in. Virtue please.



Vice: You are unable to see life as anything but a game.

Zekky posted:

I'm in!

Edit: For the normal contest, not the brawl.

Virtue: camaraderie

ZeBourgeoisie posted:


This will be interesting.

Virtue: All things in moderation

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




Walamor posted:

I can't make up for that, so I'm in for this TD week with a :toxx: to try to atone for how badly I hosed up. Also as a penance, give me a difficult virtue.

also paging muffin to this one

Mar 21, 2010

Hammer Bro. posted:

Twelve hour work days are too hard. Reverse engineering is too hard. UTC is definitely too hard, mark my words.

Gimme one of those extra-spicy virtues/viceys. And I'm claiming that -250 word bonus in advance, because more bonuses are more better. This'll be a piece of cake.
wherein somewhere He sleeps, His bones grow cold with the passing of time, and an empty hearth

Walamor posted:

I actually feel super lovely about it, because I legit did work on it but ended up screwing someone else of out competing. It was one of those weekends where I thought I had enough time and by the time I finished what I had to do, it was 11:30 pm on Sunday and I just looked at the clock with a sinking feeling of failure.

I can't make up for that, so I'm in for this TD week with a :toxx: to try to atone for how badly I hosed up. Also as a penance, give me a difficult virtue.

Congrats though for winning Schneider!
howling from street corners, He is as the fisher king as He too grows strong so does His dominion

Mar 21, 2010

Please note: while the +750 for early entrants is meant to be a reward for getting your work done early, if I get bombarded with 30 2000 word unedited poo poo-smears, I will hunt you down and gouge out your eyes, then I will move all your furniture around so when you come home from the hospital, you keep bumping into poo poo. Bigger is not necessarily better: trimming the fat would improve a whole lot of stories we see around these parts.

We are currently at 38 entrants. I won't suddenly change the rules around or anything, but if you think you'd work better with a tighter, more focused piece, please do.

Barracuda Bang!
Oct 21, 2008

The first rule of No Avatar Club is: you do not talk about No Avatar Club. The second rule of No Avatar Club is: you DO NOT talk about No Avatar Club

Grimey Drawer


Aug 2, 2011

by XyloJW

Untitled base-brawl entry
(1241 words)

"All right man, just... Just hit the ball as hard as you can, right at him."

"I can't do it any more, I'm out of practice."

"And I'm not? poo poo I don't even remember how to coach any more. I think you should use the stick to hit the ball, that part I remember but you're gonna have to do the rest of the heavy lifting yourself." Dan ran a hand through his thinning grey hair and let out a long sigh.

Derek sat rubbing his temples in slow circles.

Between them and the locker room door two men in black suits stood trying their best to appear intimidating.

"Why can't someone else do it?" Derek said.

"He's a fan." One of the men in suits said.

"He wasn't even born when I retired." Derek said standing up, wincing as his legs straightened.

"They're all eccentric these Kim Jongs." Dan said. "You've seen Vice, it's just a loving madhouse over there."

Derek turned to the two men, groaning as he stretched. "I thought you guys ran the fuckin' world or something? Now the CIA bullies old men into playing baseball?"

"He's a big fan." One of the agents said. As he finished the other began a speech that stank of rehearsal.

"He's a very big fan. A big enough fan to turn the world into a post-nuclear wasteland if he doesn't get to catch a home-run ball from you in the last inning. And it's our job to stop him blowing up the world. So you go out there, and you play your 'game' and you have 'fun' doing what everyone knows you like doing, but while you're doing it think of what we're doing, and that's saving the whole world from destruction. That's our job."

There was a pregnant pause.

"But you're just making me do it?" Derek said. "So it's my job."

"Well it's our job to loving delegate then." The agent spat.

"Ignore these assholes man." Dan said. "They're gonna be like Yezhov, they may as well not even be here right now."
"Hey now-" One started, but Dan spoke over him.

"They're just here to get a pay-check, you're here to do something real. This isn't even about the game any more, this is about the free world. This is your time to kick fascism in the face and say gently caress you man, this is America!"

Derek sighed again. "Are we even in America any more? I don't even think this town has a school. Why can't he have picked a game in New York?"

"Oldfield is a nice town... Ish." Dan said. "They've got the third biggest Ferris Wheel in the state!"

"Actually they tore that down." One of the CIA agents said. "After super-crack came to town the junkies wrecked it trying to use it to get to the moon."

There was another pause.

“To be honest we don't really know why he's obsessed with this place. He paid a lot to build a new stadium here so he must love something.”

“Could be the super-crack.” The other agent said.

"Well they have super-crack at least." Dan finished. "Tell you what, you hit the home run into his hand and I'll buy you so much super-crack you won't even need a Ferris Wheel to get to the moon. How's that?"

"Whatever, just... Let's just get this over with." Derek said stepping towards the door. The two agents parted for him.

"You made a wise choice." One of the agents said. "And we can get you that super-crack if you want. Lionel here was actually one of the guys who helped invent it back in 2022." He motioned to the agent next to him, who shook his head slowly. "What?" He said. "He doesn't even know that's your real name."

The stadium was an unnatural blemish on the small town. It towered above every other structure, and it was big enough to fit the entire population of Oldfield in it's stands three times over. The CIA had flown in extra people to fill out the numbers, hoping the illusion that the North Korean dictator wasn't the only man to be a fervent supporter of the Oldfield Sniglits would calm him some. The man himself was suspended in a giant glass cube overlooking the pitch, he wore a huge metal backpack that he claimed contained a nuclear bomb ready to detonate if his heart rate should drop below a certain threshold on foreign soil. It appeared heavy from the way he hunched over, grinning as he hobbled his way onto the balcony of his glass box, to watch Derek step out onto the field.

Derek could see him, this tiny figure in the blurry distance. The walk onto the pitch was the hardest, his knees hurt and his back ached and he wanted nothing more than to be out fishing or sat at home watching TV with a beer or anywhere else but back on the field.

In the dugout Dan was watching, his whole body racked with nervousness. The two CIA agents hovered around him shooting dirty glances at everyone around them.

As he stepped up to the plate he tried to bring back the old excitement. The old determination, but there was nothing left. Hit fascism right in the face he repeated in his mind. Just one good hit, let him catch it and the world is saved..

He readied himself, letting the bat roll in his grip as he tried to hone in, but there was no moment here. It was a farce, and he was too old to force the passion. All that was left was a bitterness and a defiance. He let out one more sigh, and then the pitcher threw.

As the ball came towards him there was a flash of anger. As if all the bullshit in the world was packed into that tiny white and red sphere, the CIA, North Korea, Oldfield and it's super-crack, his Glaucoma, everything. The whole planet was inside that ball, and as he swung with all the force he could muster he felt a little of that rage, that Kim Jong must have felt when he wanted the world to burn.

The ball disappeared when he hit it. He almost fell forward from the swing, his hip twisted bad and he had to go to one knee to keep from falling on his face. He looked up at the box.

There stood the hunchback, craned over reaching out to make the catch. He was smiling and his eyes were dancing with an almost innocent joy.

The ball wiped the smirk off of his face. His eyes had failed him long ago but Derek still saw clearly how the ball seemed to rip his jaw off, knocking his head backwards and at the same time driving through it. Bursting out of the back of his skull. The glass box was painted red and the dictator fell forward over the balcony and into the crowd below.

There was a moment of total stillness. The stadium waited for the explosion, for the nuclear fail-safe to go off.

But there was nothing.

Derek turned slightly on his knee towards the dug out. "Am I done now?" He asked, grimacing as he put a hand to his hip. "Because I could really use some of that super-crack."

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Thunderdome CXII Crits PART ONE OF NOT ONE

Don't pat yourselves on the back; this week was pretty terrible. Lots of go-nowhere vignettes that also showed us nothing interesting. "Nothing interesting" will be something you see a lot in my crits this week. Up your game, Thunderdome.

Jitzu the Monk - Axis I

Ok, I’m half-convinced you dropped in just to pick this up before Cab and won’t actually read this.

I figure you’re going for some kind of satire/humor piece here, but it falls completely flat. You don’t have characters, you have sock-puppets regurgitating D&D posts. None of the dialogue is clever, original or interesting. Whether I agree with your politics or not, cliched and hackneyed characters are just boring to read.

I won’t even touch on the other problems with your “writing” (I use the term loosely). Go put in the effort to develop an interesting character in an interesting situation and not just some one-note joke piece.

Also, die in a car fire.

DM. Loser candidate.
Beef Ranking: Slit your wrists and gnaw your tendons.

Quidnose - Untitled

A boring, angst-ridden vignette.

The biggest problem I see here is the circumlocution. It’s very, very annoying to have an entire piece whose main point is to talk around a Very Important and Very Serious story-fact which is obviously being concealed from the reader by contrivance of the author rather than contrivance of the characters and situation. It pulls me out of the piece; all I see is your hand writing the story, not characters seeing/doing/thinking/feeling.

You can have a story where “nothing happens”, but the reason behind nothing happening is what you need to explore in that case. The choice of inaction is, in itself, a choice and it can be explored.

It’s very difficult to pull that off in a short piece, as you need to establish some through-line to pull the reader through the story - some hook of interest and empathy. “There is something I’m not being told by a character I don’t know or care about” is not a good hook.

Also, this guy has more angst than a fifteen-year-old who just got rejected by his first crush.

It doesn’t help that I don’t like your verbose, overwrought style. It makes the piece feel even slower and more ponderous than the lack of action or challenge.

Beef Ranking: Cancer steak.

satsui no thankyou - Untitled gently caress’s sake.

You have serious grammar and clarity issues. Let me pull one:


The corrugated tin roof could have fried several eggs and the hen that laid them under the midday sun.

This is small one, but it should be illustrative. The clause “under the midday sun” is ambiguous here - did the hen lay the eggs under the midday sun, or is the tin roof frying things under the midday sun? Yes, I can take a moment and work it out, but that sort of mental hitch makes your prose irritating to read. It lack flow and polish.

One way to correct this:


Under the midday sun, the corrugated tin roof could have fried several eggs and the hen that laid them.

Grab a copy of Strunk & White and go over your next piece with it, point by point, sentence by sentence.

Now, for the meat of the matter - this piece is boring as poo poo. You spend the entire time delivering backstory. At no point does a character get faced with an interesting situation and have to react to it.

I don’t even know if you knew what you were focusing on, as there’s lots of random details thrown in for no good reason. Why does the wife thing matter? What has sending them away accomplished, and what does that choice show us about this guy? Why include the details about the mother and grandchildren?

Write a story next time. Show us interesting characters making interesting choices in interesting situations.

DM. Loser candidate.
Beef Ranking: Go die in a pit-toilet explosion.

Chairchucker - Just to Make It Today

Decent opening para. It doesn’t immediately make me want to skip to the next piece, or pry my eyeballs out with my toes.

You know, this surprised me. I was expecting a light piece with your usual whimsy, and this thing starts out like that. And then there’s the epilepsy thing, and it takes a decided turn for dark. From that point until the end of that scene, it feels like I’ve stumbled into a different story altogether - I don’t see how any of it ties together, and that’s this piece’s weakness.

I’d like this to be more cogent and tie more tightly together, thematically.

Beef Ranking: Local-chain hamburger topped with frozen onion rings.

CommissarMega - Necessity

The narrative/thought intercut device is difficult to pull off, and it doesn’t work here. For it to work, both narrative and thoughts need to be interesting. “I am Omar” is not interesting. You’ve got far too much leaden exposition about What Happened, and it’s boring to read. (see also: Satsui’s thing.)

Honestly, I’d cut at least the first three interludes from this thing. They don’t contribute anything to us empathizing either with the people on board, or the crazy AI.

You have some okay core ideas -- you’re basically poking at “What if the Matrix had a conscience?” -- but your execution is off. The situation is presented in a muddled, muddy way and you’ve run out your welcome well before you get into the parts where the AI starts going over why it had to kill people.

This could probably be saved if you focused more on the conflict between the AI’s circumstances and directives, and less on trying to be all Literary with a weird structure and narrative devices.

DM candidate.
Beef Ranking: Undercooked chicken, and food poisoning.

Surreptitous Muffin - Many Hands

Ah, dark humor, my old friend. You’ve got an excellent first line. In a neat package, you’ve presented the seeds of the situation and the action while also pointing out what’s unusual and interesting about your scenario. The rest of the retards submitting this week could stand to study this.

I don’t know whether “unusural” and “arisural” are stylistic choices or autocorrect mistakes. I’m going to assume mistakes. If they’re stylistic choices, I don’t understand ‘em.

There’s a few minor details I could tug at - you mention that it’s thirty people (btw write out your numbers if they’re not too verbose kthx) over several years and I had to stop and think “How long were these sausages sitting in the factory?” It does break the flow a little. I could do without the last line -- it doesn’t really jibe with the tone of either your factory reports or your action.

The characters are somewhat weak. You might develop them more (if this thing were longer) for better comedic effect.

Anyway, that aside, this was a well-put-together and darkly-humorous piece. The situation is developed over the course of the story, and it both adheres to its own internal logic and remains fresh and interesting. I can’t necessarily predict what’s going to happen, but once I see it, it makes sense.

Enough cocksucking. Good job, this was the only piece I could vote for winner, in good conscience.

HM. Winner candidate.
Beef Ranking: Thüringer Bratwurst und Senf, ja bitte.

God over Djinn - The Great Black Dog at the End of it All

I’m not even sure I should bother writing this crit out, because I’m pretty sure you already know what I’m going to criticize. But, well, benefit of the doubt and/or peanut gallery. (Most of whom have skipped past this and gone right to their own crit, because they have brains primarily made of dog slobber, but that’s neither here nor there.)

This entire piece reeks of curtsey writing, where you put down a sentence, then stood up and took a bow at how clever you were. It’s a showpiece meant to illustrate a vocabulary (or access to a good thesaurus). I’ve been reading a lot of Jack London lately, and even the purple prose favored in the late 19th century is only light lilac compared to what you’ve done here. It’s fine to masturbate, if you want, but don’t present us the soggy results, mmkay?

As far as I can decipher, you’ve rewritten Casey At The Bat, added a dog and removed all the context of what’s riding on Casey’s at-bat. You ruminate a bunch on how puny man is, but it doesn’t tie into your story. I honestly have no loving clue why the baseball action/metaphor is here, what it’s meant to accomplish or what. Maybe you’ve been drinking too much cough syrup.

How does the dog relate? Why does the batter give a gently caress about whether the dog eats the ball? What’re the stakes of this game? Instead of showing me who, what, when, where and then filling out why, I got a bunch of wannabe-literary pirouettes.

Ugh. Just ugh.

Beef Ranking: Poo foam. Sure, it’s poo, but it’s molecular gastronomy. Don’t you GET IT? *eyeroll*

Sitting Here - Beam of Sunshine

This is a pleasant little portrait of a broken kid, but it’s marred by one significant flaw: You skipped most of the interesting parts of Beam’s life and just showed us the coda. At no point am I wondering whether Beam is going to choose a different path, nor are you presenting interesting points about why he chooses the path he’s on.

Basically, this needs more of a “middle”. That said, getting me to say "I would like to read more of this" is unusual and praiseworthy.

Some minor nitpicks:


creaks apologetically


You also have four consecutive paragraphs which begin with “Beam <verb>”. A little variance in sentence structure there might help.

I mean, in general, the prose is easy to read and understand, you have an okay character, but the plot arc is a bit weak.

HM candidate.
Beef Ranking: Store-brand luncheon meat food product (with natural flavors)

systran - To be a girl

Title made me cringe immediately; thank god you didn’t walk down a weird path. Instead, we get a cyberpunk Pinocchio mashed up with a scene from your stock boy-meets-girl plot.

There’s nothing terribly inspired here, and the parents are cliches from the teen-romance genre, but there’s also nothing outright bad. I could complain about a bit of stilted dialogue. I could complain that you keep the “I am an AI” thing hidden a paragraph or two too long. These aren’t substantive complaints though.

Basically, this is one of the better things I read this week. Arc, characters, clarity, all executed competently. Thing is, it’s stock, predictable and feels a bit like a slice from a larger boy-meets-girl story, and that holds it back.

HM candidate.
Beef Ranking: Bone-in oxtail, boiled.

Fumblemouse - The Thief of Memory

This is your story. You took some LSD and then wrote a fantasy-hued version of this:

This is overwrought and verbose, though not nearly as bad as Djinn’s. It collapses halfway through; your protagonist’s train of thought and actions become so muddled that it’s irritating to parse your action. Too much fantasy technobabble, too.

Underneath all the purple paint, it’s a shaggy-dog story about a guy being trapped inside an infinite loop. Eh. Outside of the prompt, it doesn’t really work as a standalone story, and I try to keep the prompt out of mind when reading these.

Your character is wooden and you have no real plot to speak of. Everything is just here to wink at the prompt/your phobia with no real sense that you’re attempting to be interesting or entertaining. Bleh.

DM candidate.
Beef Ranking: Vegan bacon.

Some Guy TT - That… was a bad idea

Title is descriptive of writing this story. Like Fumble, you wrote a shaggy-dog story. The entire point of this thing is the punchline at the end. However, none of the meat leads up to your punchline; you just wrote the most generic “angry mobsters” scene you possibly could from a second-person perspective.

Characters, action, dialogue, it’s all straight out of a bad Dick Tracy comic. Ugh. There isn’t anything else to say about this.

DM candidate.
Beef Ranking: Knuckle sandwich.


Mar 21, 2010

A green thumb

May 5, 2014

by FactsAreUseless

In with a :toxx:

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

beef really is what's for dinner

and a fine meal it is

Mar 21, 2010

starr posted:

In with a :toxx:
VICE: rigidity

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Thunderdome CXII Crits Part Two of Less Than Three

Your Sledgehammer - The Rook

This opens slow and then you end up dumping backstory on us, mediated by a chess game. Now, I’m no chess expert, so that form of action doesn’t really help me “get” what’s going on. All I know is that the piece was essentially a composed of sections taking the form: “Character does stuff, girl flirts with him, he ignores it, now for some more backstory told in narrative!”

Your chess metaphors get very belabored at times. There is such a thing as “too much,” and you’ve done it here. Ease up, hoss.

You’ve also got a lot of detail “hair” on your piece - minor and major details that are thrown in without being developed, and which don’t contribute to the development of your plot or characters. Look at every sentence, every detail you introduce, and ask yourself how it advances (or develops) your plot, deepens your characters and so on.

Ideally, each detail will be used at least twice in your story. Try to live by the Chekhov’s Gun guideline, whereby if you put a detail in the story, it must be re-used later. Otherwise, it must be cut out.

I’m not a fan of your wordy style (as should be apparent by all the crits I’ve done up to this point, I prefer spare prose), but this isn’t the worst thing I’ve seen this week.

That said, your core plot and characters aren’t very strong. We never really get a sense of why this guy has a fear of commitment and/or girls, and your girl character has no depth beyond “like chess and a specific boy”. Give your characters some human emotion to them, and help us understand why they act as they do.

Beef Ranking: SS Pylsur, the favorite lovely hot dog of Bobby Fischer and Bill Clinton.

crabrock - If You Want To Be Happy For The Rest Of Your Life

You’ve got a pretty decent handle on dialogue, Rocky, and you incorporated your fear well.

I’m not wholly sold on the opening; it feels like you started a different piece and then changed your mind halfway through. In your opener, I don’t feel like this guy is desperate for companionship but held back by his chin-fear. He comes across so blase (and the supporting character comes across as such as Neanderthal bro) that it surprised me when that became the resolution for your story.

I also didn’t see how working in an old-folks’ home helped your story. It felt like you picked something at random and didn’t contribute to understanding your protagonist at all.

This was neck-and-neck with Systran’s thing for third-place in my book, behind Muffin and SH.

HM candidate.
Beef Ranking: Fleischwurst von 100% echtem rind.

Grizzled Patriarch - How Billy Prexler Got His Groove Back

I didn’t hate this. You’ve got a decent through-line and character development, putting you safely above the scuppers this week.

Thing is, it’s janky and abrupt. I don’t get a good sense of the characters. Cho is more-or-less a total blank slate, and I couldn’t get a strong read on Billy’s motivations aside from “drunk expat douchebag”.

While you do at least foreshadow the fight and have the situation develop organically, Billy reacting the way he does feels sudden, and the Fight Club resolution also feels like it happened just because the story had to end. I don’t see how getting punched in the face solves his fear of pain - if that were the cure, why did he suddenly decide NOW that he could take a punch?

Beef Ranking: Tastes like chicken.

Anomalous Blowout - Internal Combustion

gently caress’s sake; don’t have an opener full of circumlocution. Keeping important story details hidden from the reader is a nasty, nasty sin. It doesn’t provide motivation for the reader to keep reading, it just makes me want to skip the rest of your story. Answer the following as soon as possible:

  • Who is involved?
  • What is happening?
  • When and where is it happening?

Then, use your story to develop why and how, while moving the what along.

Your dialogue is wooden and confused, and I don’t mean that as in “the characters come across as confused”, as they should be when sorting out complex feelings. What they’re expressing seems muddled and poorly thought-out from the writer’s perspective.

Your characterization goes off the rails in the final scene. How does this guy intuit that she’s scared of fire? It doesn’t make any sense.

All that said, if developed better this could work as an angsty romance piece. For that story-genre, most of the conflict is one character fretting over whether the other character could ever love them if they found out their flaws. That’s human and understandable, and you’ve got that in here. So, a good middle, a mediocre start and an ending that doesn’t work.

Beef Ranking: Baked beans and a lighter.

Phobia - Blunt Spark Candle Wax


“Can’t possibly comprehend.”

Oy gevalt, the cliches hurt. This entire story is a mishmash of terrible cliches. You have your narrator barf exposition at me for an off-the-shelf pseudoLovecraftian “spooooky powers bigger than maaaaaan” thing. It’s not very interesting and your writing is clunky and tedious. Cut harder.

Too much backstory, no tension or dread, and a hackneyed “I have seen through the veil of mortal man” ending. Ugh. UGH.

DM/Loser candidate
Beef Ranking: Deep-fried duck penis on a stick.

Tyrannosaurus - Like a Fire Truck Burning

So, this is a decent stab at a heist/action piece. “Character indebted to the mob” is a borderline-cliche stock motivation, and I swear I’ve seen the “he’ll take your organs” thing elsewhere, but I’ll let it slide.

The problem I have here is pacing and flow. Your first two scenes are too talky and backstory-heavy and plodding, and the jump-cut between your final two scenes seems to leave out something important. I completely lost the sequence of action between them, and particularly I lost my sense of place.

In the second-to-last scene, I could’ve sworn that the characters were jumping down onto some other balcony, and then in the final scene, the fraidy-cat character seems to be below the other character. Things happen so fast that I don’t have time to mentally adjust; a single line to bridge the two scenes could fix this.

The ticking-clock device is time-tested and a good way to ratchet up tension, but I feel it wasn’t well-deployed. You remind us of it a few too many times, and it never gets really close to running out, so it feels underdeveloped.

I’m also not entirely fond of how the fear of heights was integrated. It’s just kinda there and isn’t really developed. You have a throwaway line about the character’s origins, but, eh, it’s not enough to hang something critical to your action on. It’s used once, and that’s underdeveloped for something so central to your story.

Not the worst I saw this week, but I’ve certainly seen better characters from you.

Beef Ranking: Oscar Meyer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A.

Ironic Twist - Chiaroscuro

I was hoping this would go somewhere aside from “crazy dude be crazy”, but it doesn’t. You take a hard right turn and this goes from some kind of weird psychological thing to being The Ring. And The Ring shows up abruptly; there’s no hint that this is going to be a weird supernatural thing before Scary Ghost Girl shows up.

You need to dig deeper into the crazy character, show us the hows and whys of his cray. And if you’re gonna pop a ghost out of a can, gently caress’s sake, foreshadow that poo poo.

Not a whole lot else to say about this. It's not really fun, horrific or interesting.

Beef Ranking: Potted meat food product, with spring snakes inside.

sebmojo - The Light over the Mountain

C’mon, man, just because you can write good dialogue (and you can), doesn’t give you an excuse to hang an entire story on two dudes reminiscing. This is still an exposition-barf story at its heart.

While this isn’t too grating to read (just boring), I think the effect may be lost as I have no concept of the importance of the athletic dude. Context problem.

I really don’t know why you chose to just make this story two dudes talking when you could’ve shown us your protagonist’s choice to die and the reasoning behind it. Something tight and visceral. I just found this whole thing fairly boring.

Also, “Holden”? “Cow-cocky”? Local slang, I take it? For a while, I thought you were talking about some kind of drunk driving accident, but it took a bit to stop and parse that sentence.

Beef Ranking: One of Muffin’s sausages. And not the ones that turn into pigs.

Bauxite - Neprophobia

Ugh, verbose overwrought narration that’s talking around the situation instead of trying to help me understand it. Even a third of the way into the story, I have little idea of who’s doing what and no concept of your setting aside from “generic post-apoc dystopia”. Your faceless narrator gets dragged by a generic gruff guy through a generic grimy place because of generic “evil science!” reasons. Also clouds, because prompt. Ugh.

Your writing is muddy and unclear. Cut more words, tighten more sentences, and work to help the reader understand your situation. Withholding critical story information isn’t interesting, and it’s worse when the narrator is smugly pontificating at me.

DM/Loser candidate.
Beef Ranking: Wonder-bread Shitwich.

And I think that's everyone. My thanks to everyone who didn't sign up, for sparing me your awful prose. Seriously, people, read more books.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at 11:48 on Oct 2, 2014

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

Erogenous Beef posted:

Beef Ranking: Deep-fried duck penis on a stick.

That might actually not taste too bad

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

I'm critting this late because, like, work, and marriage and y'know, all these other piss-poor excuses nobody gives a gently caress about

JuniperCake posted:

Meh very late cause I'm a failure but submitting anyways.

Leaving it all behind: [Words: 687]
Based on Ginas and the Rajah

Ginas felt ill for the first time in his life. His limbs trembled with trepidation as he reached for the walls of the giant sand castle that was the only home he knew. He felt his fingers bury themselves NOPE NOPE NOPE we got that "body parts doing things on their own" thing going on again here. Are you and Broenheim really just a pair of elaborate trolls? Or perhaps you're both the same person, playing some mystifying long con beyond the ken of us mortals? in the walls of the giant edifice Great ten-dollar word there chief as he raked out gashes that gushed out with billowing sand. Repetition

The castle crooned softly, a calming melody joined by his mother the queen who looked serenely down at him from a balcony of stars. This should be some nice, lyrical, folktaley description, but you've made it flaccid as a gay dude's dick sitting on a couch made of tits. You don't actually describe anything, you just use words to say what's there. How did the castle croon softly? How was the melody calming? What was serene about his mother's gaze? What does the balcony of stars look like? I think your problem is that you know exactly how the scene looks in your own head, but the reader doesn't. You need to use fewer adverbs and much stronger adjectives and verbs. The sand twisted into shapes, WHAT shapes? the gemstone hyphen goes hereeyed roc of the stories his father had told him to get to sleep You also use too many words. How about "roc of his father's bedtime stories", the form of the dancing dolphin that swept the ocean away with its tail, the face of the pig who slept its life away. The stories his father told him while he instructed his son on the ways of the world, the great economic balance that ruled it and the duties that maintained it. Blah, this is very boring and nondescript.

Ginas felt a great heat in his cheeks, and his vision blurred as he pulled the sand from the wall. It came out as a string, unraveling rapidly. This is starting to be interesting description, but you still need to liven up your prose. The castle went with a bow and a proud flourish, as it let itself become undone ugh so flaccid, dissipating into mist. The ever clear grain alcohol? blue of the sky shined on, birds chirping perfectly the gently caress does this mean in context? how does a bird chirp perfectly or imperfectly? just out of sight.

“All done?”, his father, the Rajah, walked up from behind and slapped him on the shoulder.

Ginas balled his hands into fists ECONOMY OF PROSE! clenched his fists works just as well and saves you two words at his sides.

“You grew up so fast”, the Rajah said as he hugged Ginas with all his might. “I wish you would have stayed with us a little bit longer, but I understand”. the gently caress is this poo poo. for one thing you put the period outside the quotation mark, which is obviously wrong, but also this dialogue sucks. What is he talking about and why do we care?

Ginas looked down, he couldn’t meet the Rajah’s eyes.

“Nothing wrong with fulfilling one’s duty, son”. you did it again you gently caress

Ginas watched as the folds of his father’s magnificent robes turned yellow, breaking away into sand. He heard the words I love you and Ginas watched as the sand rolled itself into the ocean, leaving nothing but the water behind.

Ginas snarled and leapt on the ocean, tearing it away with his bare hands all the way down to the rock below. He took the crust of the world and snapped it on his knee and everything was undone. His world now black. Wow that took a turn for the crazy

He awoke for the first time in the dark covered in wires. The equipment that scanned him, beeped energetically. lol how can something beep energetically? your new permanent flash rule should be "no adverbs, ever."
Ginas stretched his new limbs. His hands looked as if they had been painstakingly barfword chiseled from soft stone but he found that they worked much like the ones he had before. He pulled the wires out and edged the lid of his container open. The room was dark but he could see as if it were light.

His royal clothing, a crisp suit lined with gold, awaited him. He put it on.

The staircase crooned happilyfukkin ADVERBS at his approach, lighting his steps as he left looking back all the while at where he had slept all this time. what the gently caress is this sentence it's so clumsy and just runs on without punctuation who even knows what you're trying to say really His real as opposed to his dream mother or something else? You don't have the space to explain this, just say "mother" and we'll all figure out what you mean. mother was reading a tablet when he entered the room. holy poo poo run-on sentences, the period is a perfectly acceptable punctuation mark to separate independent clauses she glanced at him with the corner of her eye.

“Oh, you’re finally up”, she said.

“Yes”, Ginas said.

“Took you long enough”,
she returned to reading her tablet. Okay, seriously, do you not realize the very simple rule of English grammer where you put the punctuation mark INSIDE the quotation marks? "Like so." Holy gently caress stop putting them after the end quote

Ginas, huh? why the comma? do you speak english felt his legs carrying him OH MY gently caress MORE OF THIS LIMBS MOVING ON THEIR OWN HOLY gently caress THIS IS SO loving TERRIBLE STOP WRITING out of the house and to a car. He knew it even though he had never seen one before. It drove him to work. The man at the door let him in with a sir and a nod.
His real father met him in front of the elevator who looked at him top to bottom.

“Acceptable. Let’s get you to your office.” His father, the CEO said.

It took Ginas six months to completely take over the company. It had been swift, effortless. His father took his severance and left.

Seated in his office overlooking the sprawl he watched the going-ons distantly below. Cars weaving in out between dusk gray pillars. The pale yellow of florescent lights effusing through the streets. His grand inheritance was vast, and he should not have want for anything else. He thought this as he stared out the window into the starless black sky.

I have no idea what the gently caress this story is about, at all. It's terrible, that's all I know. Not as terrible as Broenheim's, but pretty goddamn close.

Score: eat poo poo

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Erogenous Beef posted:

I have no concept of the importance of the athletic dude.

His strength and high threshold for pain became legendary — best illustrated when in a game against Eastern Transvaal in South Africa, in which he emerged from a particularly vicious ruck with his arm dangling horribly, with an obvious fracture, yet completed the match. When the doctor cut away his shirt and confirmed the break, Meads muttered, "At least we won the bloody game.

Although retired from rugby for many years, Meads is still a familiar face to many New Zealanders. He is a frequent public speaker at events, and still appears in a number of television spots, endorsing Honda ATVs, Bob Charles' Deer Velvet, lifejacket safety awareness, Provincial Finance and Mastercard. Colin Meads has featured on Mainland Cheese television adverts throughout the later half of 2009 and early 2011."


vv sure, yep, it's a good crit vv

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 23:33 on Oct 2, 2014

Jan 27, 2006

^^^Not a judge and not a better writer than you, sebmojo, but I do have one observation about this. It occurs to me that his being a legend only makes all it more problematic that your protagonist did nothing with him but chit-chat. This guy being a legend seems to bring about the need for your protagonist to engage in something especially interesting with him.

Armack fucked around with this message at 22:57 on Oct 2, 2014

December Octopodes
Dec 25, 2008

Christmas is coming
the squid is getting fat!

Sticky Candy

1323 words

We succeeded in the worst way possible. The four of us sat in Bart's room, and listened to the ocean lapping at the shore nearby. Two keys, four thieves, and no good way to surprise members of the council again. The city of Umbra held so many promises in it's dark alleys, places that hadn't seen the sun in hundreds of years, but the promise of glory for four of us could not be kept.

"We only have two keys. We were all supposed to join the Council together, but that is impossible now. So the question stands, how do we split our spoils?"

"I didn't come this far to let my boys down, Amboyna. One of those keys is mine." Bart said. He set his heavy hands on the table, daring us in every way save word to challenge him. His gang, the Blank Slates, had been absolutely vital to our scheme, even if half the plan had fallen apart.

We had decided on four council members and managed to convince them that another Council member wanted a business meeting. Argos, the legendary thief, had been on the council for years, but his age was beginning to catch up to him. Bo Moruga, wasn't a young man either, but he led the Bloody Eyes, and used them to control the night glass factories in this town. He did well, but the greedy pig was slowly expanding on the mines outside of the city. Nictos, who claimed he was a priest of the Shroud, and sliced up anyone who might argue the point. Finally, there was Mr. Minter, one of those rare souls with enough Lectrum to buy a key, and pay enforcers to keep him safe. He ran the upperclass districts smoothly.

The plan was simple, we convince them the meeting is real, and when they meet we strike. Bart would use his Slates to keep the Bloody Eyes occupied, and we would use a little smoke bomb an engineer friend of mine created. We were to focus on our target and come away with a key. The plan started off well, and when the bomb hit I was ready. The Slates came rushing in and immediately tangled with Moruga and Minter's bodyguards. I closed in on Nictos, who was famous for his knife work. Carefully and quietly, I hit him in the back of the head with a brick. He dropped and I was able to claim my prize.

The smoke was starting to lift so I quickly retreated to a small alley a few streets over. The next to arrive was Washburn, with only a shiny new black eye for his efforts. Next was Sapentia, twirling the key in her hand like a prize. Finally Bart arrived, cursing and stomping with some superficial cuts on his arm. We returned to Bart's apartment to take stock. Which brings us to the table.

"Bart is right, we wouldn't have stood a chance in a straight fight." Saying this I slid the key over to him. His hand clasped mine, and as our eyes met he gave the briefest of nods. It is true he provided the manpower we needed, but it is also true that he still had more than enough manpower to make sure he got his way. Some things are beyond my control, as my mother would say. Sapentia spoke next, as we all tried to decide who would claim the key.

"Argos wasn't that tough, but I still think I should have gotten Mr. Minter." She took a long pull off her cigarette, and I could not read her face at all. Two days before our plan commenced I had managed to talk Sapentia into attending a play with me. It was a small hole in the wall, that insisted the audience remove their night glasses. She had sighed and gently removed her silver-lensed horn-rimmed glasses. I took in her eyes, a rare pleasure, before I took off my own. The shadowstone built into the walls no longer glowed, and the cast lit torches.

If not for the pleasure of seeing Sapentia without night glasses I might have felt my time was wasted. The play was about some lower noble from Eridu, and his desire to create a better life. The acting was fair, but didn't really grab me until halfway through the play. The only scene that seemed to have real passion behind it was a discussion between the noble and his lover.

"I want to be able to stand tall in this city. We will have the lives we deserve, with a fine home, many slaves, and whatever our hearts desire." Said the young noble, with a passion that had been absent.

"A house, slaves, these are the things we deserve? We have each other, my love. Isn't that enough?" His young lover replied, responding to the energy in his voice.

"But we deserve more. I am destined for greatness, and you will enjoy the fruits my work bears."

"Fruit? I think it is only a sticky candy. You may have your success, but your hands won't be clean."

"If I must be dirty to taste sweet success, so be it."

The scenes that followed ran together, and the play ended with the noble dead by suicide, his life ruined by his pursuit of power. We applauded politely and slipped our night glasses back on. The familiar glow of the shadowstone returned, and I asked Sapentia a question as we headed outside.

"So what do you think of the sticky candy called success?"

"I think he didn't know what he truly wanted. Success is nice, but for those who only want comfort, it might as well be poison."

"Poison? Well, perhaps the poison is not so deadly." I replied.

"We'll never know until we seize it." She answered.

We ended our night in a beautiful embrace, and prepared for the great theft. I remembered that conversation, and realized what I wanted.

"I think Washburn should have the key. After all, it was his idea in the first place to create the meeting." As I spoke I slid the key across the table to him. He spoke up for the first time, having quietly nursed his sore head.

"Really? I know it was my idea, but you and Sapentia are the reason we even have the keys." His hand reached out for the key, uncertain where Bart had been sure.

"If you want the key take it. There are ten spots on the Council after all." Sapentia said.

Washburn claimed the key, and that settled it. Bart let us out soon after, promising to keep in touch, Washburn left towards his apartments closer to the night glass factories. Sapentia and I shared a few words and went our separate ways.

Looking back I see how this was the beginning of so many things. Bart and the Slates soon took control of the entire harbor, pushing out any competition on that front. Washburn did well, and was able to pull off some amazing jobs here in the city and abroad. He turned to drinking though, and for all the money he had, he never looked happy. Sapentia was seen hanging off the arm of Mr. Minter, and eventually succeeded him to the Council when he died under mysterious circumstances. When I heard of Mr. Minter's death I remembered our parting conversation on the night we stole the keys.

"You gave away my sticky candy, Amboyna." She said.

"Then I'll have to comfort you with a different sweet." I said pulling her close for a kiss. She offered her cheek, and I drew back.

"No, I think I'll have to find my own candy. One man's poison is this girl's reward." She kissed me on the cheek, and walked down the street laughing to herself. We both wanted a sweet life, but she was willing to live with dirty hands.

Mar 21, 2013

In with a :toxx:

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Jan 27, 2006

Prompt: Being humble
Word count: 1501

Pride and the Quest to Subdue the Gahmgat

In black of night, their screams awake me. “CLERIC! CLERIC!” The men cry as they pound the temple door. “We have wounded!”

I stumble in the dark to my tower window and shout below “Stay, good sirs! I shall wake the master.”

I do not rely on candle fire to seek my master. Of time, I have too little. From memory I find the door, the staircase; running up the spiral stairs, I slide my right hand along the wall. Stone. Stone. Stone. Oak! It is my master’s bedroom door. I thrust open the door and run to master’s bedside.

“SNRUUOK” The cleric’s late wife used to liken his snoring to the tormented wail of a newly hatched Femir.

I shake the master cleric from his slumber. “Oomph. drat you, girl.”

“Arise, Master! More victims of the Gahmgat await our healing.”


“Wormwood! And be quick about it!” The master shouts.

I leave the four gurneys and proceed to the vast array of shelves. In haste, I scan each row of goods. Stem of Jasmine, Drakeling Tooth, Ostrichbane. “Master, where is it?”

The master approaches. Thwack. I feel a swift strike to the back of my head. “Must you persist in this ineptitude, supplicant? Had my wife not considered it our burden to civilize hill folk survivors, I would never have agreed to mentor a dimwitted fop such as you.”

The master locates Extract of Wormwood on the bottom shelf and adds it to his mustard-hued salve. He visits each gurney, applying the concoction to the mangled bodies. I try to remember that these near-dead piles of sinew and bone were once men, brave men who sought to rid us of the Gahmgat.

“Master, a simple salve will not revive these men. We must appeal to the Hill Spirits to—”

Thwack. “You will not desecrate this temple with your people’s baser magics. Give it time, the salve will work.” I watch my master exit the chamber. His footsteps soon echo from the tower stairwell. I trust that he has retired for the evening.

I approach the nearest gurney and gaze at the mercenary who lies upon it. Amidst the burned flesh, the protruding bone, I cannot discern his age. The master cleric has kept him alive for now, but this man will not wake from his nightmarish sleep. Not unless I defy the master.

With a sigh I raise my hands before me. I bring to mind the memory of my people, our way of life, our connection with the spirits. A gust of wind finds its way into the chamber as I intone: Spirits of the Hill, honor our pact. Send forth your healing winds, that these men may be revived. The shelves begin to shake; the potions, extracts, poached curiosities clank together. The wounded men’s hair and tattered clothing stirs. At last, the winds dissipate with a hiss. It is done.


“Good cleric, we thank you once again for mending our wounds, surely your healing skills are unmatched.”

I feel vexed by the mercenary captain’s praise for the master. It was I who healed his men, aided by the Hill Spirits whose memory was all but erased by men of their kind. I find myself yearning to speak truth to them, to claim my praise. But the way of my people is the way of humility. I can only honor the fallen among us, and those few who yet live, insofar as I choose to remain humble.

“But if you would keep our treasures, please aid us further. The Gahmgat is a menace. It consorts with demons and takes countless lives. It is an object of worship for sadistic cultists. If someone of your talents would but accompany us on our quest—”

The master cleric drops the silver buckler and the emerald-embroidered grimoire on the floor next to his seat. “I keep your valuables as recompense for saving your miserable lives. You owe me nothing less. I do not regard them as advance payment to join you in your folly. That I cannot do.” With that, the master looks to me. “But if you must march to your defeat once again, consider taking my supplicant. She is of hill tribe stock, slow-witted and uncouth. Nonetheless she is a healer. The choice is yours. Now, begone.”

I escort the men out of the temple. Their captain glares at me, his brow raised in contemplation. “No,” he says. “You will be of no use to us. We need a worthy healer.”

I am taken by resentment, blinded by pride. I forget myself. “In that case, Captain, there is something you should know.”


The mouth of the cave is littered with hemp-sewn poppets. The captain turns to me. “Offerings from the Gahmgat cults,” he says in disgust. The six other men shudder in trepidation as they plod forward. They have been here before. They cannot know that my presence will secure them a victory, but they have hung their hopes upon me.

Our torches cast a dim glare on the chestnut colored cave walls. As we proceed deeper, bone fragments increasingly line the ground and the air thickens with sulfurous odor. Turning a corner, I seem to spy a lilac haze skirt quickly out of view.

“We are nearing its den,” the captain whispers to me. Looking to his hip, I expect him to draw a sword. I gasp. How could I have overlooked it; he has no sword! I glance at the other men. There are no weapons to be found. Panic stricken I cry, “You are unarmed! How you do expect to defeat the Gahmgat?”

The captain issues a bemused grunt. “Hush now. Steel will not aid us against the Gahmgat.” He signals to the man behind him, who brings forth a hemp-sewn sack. “We shall not draw swords, but a string instead.”

Rounding another corner we find ourselves in broader space. The walls here are carved smooth, adorned with bone fragments organized into a perverse mosaic. A purple glow pulses throughout the space. I spy the source—violet smoke plumed in the shape of a demon. It is the Gahmgat.

The room shakes with the beast’s trumpeting bellow. Rapidly, it soars toward us. Six men rush to meet its charge. I feel a tightness around my arm and I am pulled to the left. The captain has grabbed hold of me; he leads me to the far end of the den, circling broadly around the Gahmgat.

Facing the men from behind the beast, I realize the captain’s plan, in all its horror. These men are decoys. They will capture the beast’s attention while it mangles them. My role is to heal them, at least enough to keep them alive while the captain sacks the beast from behind.

The Gahmgat reconstitutes its smoky arm into a claw. It looms briefly before swooping down and impaling one of the men. The other five scatter in fear. The Gahmgat floats toward two of the fleeing men. It whips itself around, enveloping them in a ring of violet haze. With that, flames the color of dying roses pour from all sides. The men are roasted.

“Healer!” The captain shouts. I extend my hands forward and intone: Spirits of the Hill, I beseech you. Send forth your winds, deliver these men from mortal injury. My words echo throughout the den. The Gahmgat takes notice of my voice and wafts toward me. I await the healing winds. Nothing. I feel no connection to the spirits. Realizing that something is terribly wrong, I run.

Now fleeing, I search my mind. What could have severed my tie to the spirits? I realize it with a start: hubris. I have dishonored the spirits as I have dishonored our people, our way of life, our humility. My very involvement in this quest stemmed from a boast about my healing ability, a desire to snatch praise from an undeserving master. My throat closes in terror.

At once I am knocked to the ground. I roll, facing upwards. The Gahmgat is floating over me. Slowly, it sends smoky tendrils down to my face, into my eye sockets, behind my eyes. I feel forward pressure, just a tug a first and then a gouge. The last thing I see before the Gahmgat rips out my eyes is the captain holding the sack above the beast.


On the journey home, the three soldiers and their captain boast to passersby of the conquest. In their glee, I hear them playfully toss the sack. They would see riches, glory, perhaps knighthoods. I would see nothing, ever again. I helped to capture a vile beast, do the spirits not bless me for that? It is of no use. I have dishonored the memory of my people. The lands of my birth, the faces of the surviving hill tribesmen, the splendor of the spirits, will remain forever hidden to me. Shrouded in my hubris, lost to the darkness, I am a healer no more.

Mar 21, 2010

Signup/2000 words closes in about 15 hours. That's 8am on Saturday morning for me, so I'm handing the reigns of announcing over to my co-judges. If they're also busy doing stuff, you might get a few extra hours over the signup deadline to sneak in. I wouldn't bank on it though.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.


Mar 21, 2010


Sep 22, 2005


I am in.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool

i believe that pushes us up to 45 entrants this week.

Sep 22, 2005


Just gimme my loving virtue.

Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.

It's clearly not patience.

Aug 23, 2003


Something you don't want to hear

When Vincent was fifteen years younger, still courting his wife, Massey Gardens had been lit by natural light, and the breeze rippling the leaves of the trees didn’t come from a vent. Smog was still a problem that politicians talked about solving and the city wasn’t cocooned in a glass and steel arcology.

There was a bench that once overlooked the ocean where they had shared their first kiss and a sheltered patch of grass deeper inside the tree line where they had conceived the child that died alongside her in on a highway overpass not long afterwards.

He didn’t know if he was honouring her memory by coming here now or betraying it. Would she be happy he had moved on, or jealous that it was with a younger woman? He had no choice; there were so few places inside the arcology where you could escape the sightlines of the cameras. Under the foliage of those ancient trees you had more privacy than any other public space. If SERAPIS knew he was seeing his own secretary there would be consequences.

There was a small, open air museum at the park’s southern edge that showed you images of the park before, during and after the arcology’s construction. It was curated by a Mormon splinter group who interwove information on the park’s history with missives on the folly of man and the need for redemption. Otherwise, though, Vincent thought the museum was pretty good.

He was turning away from the museum’s last display – an explanation of the atmospheric hydroxyl collapse that earth’s assembled governments had failed to either anticipate or solve – when he saw her. Casandra stood a few paces away from him, pretending to watch a time-lapse video where the construction of the arcology’s western wall was shown slowly erasing the park’s view of the ocean. She smiled coyly when he glanced at her but did not turn her head.

She followed him at a safe distance as he left the museum, only approaching once they were deep beneath the protective cover of the trees. Then she was in his arms, straining on tip toes to plant a kiss on his lips, her tiny fists gripping the lapels of his jacket before drifting lower. His lingering sense of guilt evaporated before her onslaught.

Afterward they sat with their back to a tree and shared a cigarette – a real one, ration books be damned – and she snuggled into the crook of his arm, so close that he could feel the beat of her heart. That was when she asked him.

Hadn’t he known this was coming? That it was all too good to be true? The onset of their affair had been too sudden, her supposed attraction to him too fierce, to be plausible. Yet for all the clumsiness of her seduction he had let himself play along, and even now, confronted with the truth, he lacked the resolve to resist her.

She wanted something from him more than she wanted him. That much he had known already. It was the nature of her request that surprised him.


There had been a time when Vincent enjoyed working at SERAPIS. In an economy dominated by contract work they hired for life. In a world that seemed to be running out of ideas they were a first rate innovator. And as the mortality rate from smog epidemic began to reach historical proportions their business had never been better. Work at SERAPIS had been Vincent’s dream ticket, a passport into a life of relative affluence and security that the other members of his graduating class could only dream of. Five days after he was hired he had asked his future wife to marry him.

That had been a different time though. A time when you could admit in polite company that you worked for a firm that specialized in ‘Biological Rejuvenation’ for a small and wealthy clientele. Before the smog riots, before the construction of the arcology had thrown up a stark new barrier between the 21st century’s haves and have nots. Most of all, it was before the newscasts had started probing into the details of where the raw biological material for the Rejuvenation process came from.

When the first stories leaked about harvesting death row convicts for organic material began to emerge Vincent had made a few subtle inquiries at HQ. The source of SERAPIS’ ‘surplus organic material’ – SOM in company jargon - was still considered a trade secret but it had been easy enough to confirm the broad details of the newcast stories. But he was already engaged and paying down a mortgage and in a perpetually depressed economy it was hard to sustain his moral outrage. By the time his wife had died whatever feelings he had left on the subject were barely a whisper. By the time he was promoted into a managerial role that directly oversaw the harvesting of convicts he was beyond caring.


“He’s my brother” said Casandra.

“He dead,” Vincent told her.

The arcology’s overhead lights had dimmed, signaling the onset of night. Somewhere nearby a small fleet of pollination drones were attending to a patch of wild flowers. Vincent felt the weight of his age like never before.

“There was a newscast last year,” she said insistently, “some people woke up and almost broke out of their ward.”

Vincent remembered that incident all too well. A computer error had unfrozen dozens of inmates and they’d torn two guards apart limb from limb before they were contained.

“You don’t get it,” he tried to tell her. “They never ‘woke up’. They regained some basic motor functions but their heads were scrambled. That was pure lizard brain stuff that go them up and walking again,” and killing, he might have added.

“I know it’s possible,” she insisted “I’ve done the research.”

“What I’m trying to tell you,” Vincent said, “is that whatever part of your brother is left, you don’t want it to wake up. Being frozen that long does terrible things to a person.”

“He’s all I have left,” she said, and then looked at him. “Him… and you. And I need your help.”


The Farm was a nondescript rectangle of black glass and concrete, built flush against the wall of the arcology. After the ‘incident’ last year Vincent had been told to replace the night shift security guards with enforcer drones. That made their infiltration almost pathetically easy. With his admin status on the company network it only took a few keystrokes to put the entire guard force into hibernation mode.

“Aren’t they going to see that the enforcers are shutting themselves down?” Cassandra asked him.

“Not immediately,” he answered, hoping it was true. They’d figure it out eventually, of course, and that would be the end of his career if not his life. That thought didn’t bother him as much as it probably should have.

The elevator took them to the command level on floor five. With the human workforce gone for the day the facilities atmospheric controls were running at their lowest levels, meaning the air was as still as death, and every breath tasted faintly metallic.

“You’re sure this is what you want?” he asked her as he sat down at the command console.

“I promised him I’d come,” she said. “He knew they’d never give him a fair trial. We couldn’t afford justice.”

“I’m going to unfreeze him as slowly as possible,” Vincent said. “That should limit the damage to his cerebellum, but it could take as long as half an hour. As soon as the machine tells you his pulse is normalized you give him the shot. When he wakes up he’s going to be thirsty, but don’t let him drink too much too quickly or he’ll get sick.”

She nodded. “I understand.”

Do you? he thought.

“I want to be clear,” he said. “Even in the best case, he won’t ever be the same. It could be months before he’s speaking in full sentences again, if he ever does.”

She bit her lip, the way she often did when she was being stubborn. He knew that she didn’t want to believe him.
“One more thing,” he said. “If he starts behaving violently you run. Fast. You understand me? You get out of that room and I’ll close the door again behind you.”

“He won’t” she said. “He’ll know it’s me.”

“Take the elevator to the second floor,” he told her. “Don’t worry, I’ll be with you on the intercom. Once I’ve located him I’ll give you directions. Remember, if this is going to work you need to be at his side when he starts to wake up.”

“I love you Vincent.” She said it in a way that he could almost believe. “I hope you know that.”

“Let’s get this over with,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of time.”


It took the system nearly ten minutes to fully boot up and then to locate Casandra’s brother. Inmates were typically grouped according to age, health level and blood type, not by name. But after a bit of creative searching Vincent found what he was looking for.

Allen Carson, age 26, type O, clean medical history, both parents dead, no other relatives listed.

Vincent frowned as he reread the file. Then he opened a new browser window and called up the file on Carson’s trial. It provided a more detail biography.

“Vincent?” Cassandra’s voice over the intercom system was laced with static. “Vincent are you there? I don’t like it down here. It feels like a graveyard.”

Vincent pressed on the intercom button. “He’s in Ward 9. That’s the fourth door on your right. I’m opening it for you now.”

He watched her on the cameras as she entered the war. The sarcophagus like holding tanks for the individual inmates stretched out in double rows on either side of her. Then Vincent turned back to the trial summary.

Apprehended at the scene by a police drone. One accomplice, male, neutralized at scene. Second accomplice, female, still at large. Carson was uncooperative and refused to identify his partner, leading the tribunal to levy the maximum available penalty. Vincent stopped reading.

He knew he should have felt hurt, betrayed. Or upset at the career he had destroyed for the lie he’d forced himself to believe. But he didn’t feel anything.

He pressed the intercom button. “I’m waking him up.”

On the camera feed he could see her preparing the shot for her “brother”. He called up the controls for Allen Carson’s holding tank and told the computer to wake him immediately.

On the camera he could see the metallic door of the holding cell slide open. A flood of white mist spilled out of it.

“Vincent?” there was a tremble in Casandra’s voice now. “Vincent, I think something is wrong. The cell door is already open.”

Something is definitely wrong, he thought. She should have known better than to lie to him. He might have even helped her anyway.

With a sudden jerk of motion the suddenly awakened thing that had been slumbering in Allen Carson’s cell sat up. He let out a tortured groan as it stumbled to its feet.

“Vincent!” there was raw panic in Cassandra’s voice now. “Vincent what’s happening?”

He told the computer to lock the door to Ward 9. A second later Cassandra was at the door, pounding her tiny fists against the steel frame. The thing that had once been her lover was stumbling towards her now.

“VINCENT!” she sobbed, “Vincent PLEASE!”

He turned off the cameras. There was a gut wrenching scream. He shut off the intercom.

Outside of the Farm the arcology slept, and in a computer database somewhere the details of Vincent’s actions were being duely recorded. He had nothing left.

Slowly he turned back to the control console and typed in a new command. Simultaneously the holding cells of almost 6,000 inmates began to open.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?


i believe that pushes us up to 45 entrants this week.



Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




magnificent7 posted:

Just gimme my loving virtue.

A studious mind open to new possibilities.

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