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Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


HopperUK posted:

SIGN-UPS ARE CLOSED

gently caress! I only just got back after a bunch of stupid delays! I knew I should have signed up two days ago!

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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

posts a story nobody is expecting bean in, everybody gets mad.

posts a story everybody is expecting bean in but doesn't have it, everybody gets mad.

master troll

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment





Fallen Rib

Some Guy TT posted:

gently caress! I only just got back after a bunch of stupid delays! I knew I should have signed up two days ago!

You can be in if you want! Say if you want to be in I want to go to bed you rear end in a top hat

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


I'm in thanks for the reprieve.

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment





Fallen Rib

Some Guy TT posted:

I'm in thanks for the reprieve.

Okay then! But that's all folks.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Pipe up if I haven't done you and you want a crit on your story from last week.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Kaishai posted:

Cracks
(1,068 words)

He could crack a fine crab leg, could Edward Morris, and draw out the flesh still smooth and whole and blushing. this was one of my picks for best title/opening - more for prose quality than puzzle/surprise value, but it does make you want to find out where these skills are gonna find their use altso He broke open more than three hundred legs a night to fill orders for the crabmeat appetizer at Sienna.

"Hey, Ed," a waiter said to him one evening, "Julia's at table nine. She wants your specialty."

Edward snapped joints with his cracker, sliced chitin with his knife, and arranged five finger-length tally marks of meat on either side of a ramekin of clear, melted butter; lovely rhythm in these lines and because it was Julia, he brought the plate out to table nine himself.

His favorite cousin grinned at him. She still had on her work suit, and the day had frazzled her hair. Edward matched her grin as he set the appetizer down. He asked, "Twice this week, Jules? Did you get a raise?"

"I'm addicted to the filet mignon. You should stage an intervention." Julia snagged his sleeve when he stepped away from the table, and she lowered her voice. "That man playing the piano the other night, and now tonight. He's new, isn't he?"

Edward's eyes found the grand piano in the center of the dining area. Greg Tourner sat in front of its ivory keys. The chandelier overhead scattered light over his dark hair, and his grey tuxedo had the off-blue cast of cigarette smoke. His fingers danced through an arrangement of "Puttin' On the Ritz."

"He's just here for a month," Edward said. "But he's already made a stir."

"That's not surprising."

Edward turned back to Julia. She watched the pianist with an interest he hadn't seen in a long time; as always, she'd come to the restaurant alone. There'd been no sign of anyone in her life since her last relationship had ended abruptly for reasons she wouldn't discuss.

Instead of returning to the kitchen, he went to the piano and said to Tourner, "The lady at table nine would love to meet you on your next break."

Tourner glanced that way--and his gaze lingered. "I think I can arrange that."

Edward whistled through his next ten platters. He kept an eye on Julia through the closed-circuit feed that let the kitchen staff watch for unhappy diners. Even on the little screen, her smile was brilliant.

He found a note on his windshield when his shift ended: You doll. Greg's promised to arrange a private concert after hours on Friday, just him and me. Will you come and crack some crabs for us? you put it across adroitly enough, but having your cousin along to crack crabs at your hot date is not the most plausible part of this story, and might even be termed contrived by the unkind reader which - (checks av) is me! This is Contrived.

He called her to promise that he would.

###

"Headed home soon, Morris?" Tourner asked on Friday; they were the only workers still at Sienna.

"Julia didn't say? She asked me to take care of refreshments."

"No," Tourner said slowly. "But I suppose it's fine."

Julia arrived at half past midnight, her hair newly styled, her soft black dress a far cry from work attire. Edward met her at the door along with Tourner. Tourner offered his elbow, which made her smile, and Edward shepherded them both to the finest table in the house. He produced a bottle of Riesling from his apron and poured them wine. "My treat," he said before either could ask.

Julia said, "I love seeing Ed work. Have you ever watched him?"

"Oh, they don't let mere musicians into the sanctum sanctorum."

Before their eyes Edward turned the thin, hard legs into a soft, pale delicacy, his cracker clicking as efficiently as a knitting needle. Tourner looked away after Edward snapped the second leg in two. He murmured something to Julia, touched her shoulder. Julia's chuckle did not ring entirely true.

Edward retreated to polish the counters and the stoves. As he did, he watched the closed-circuit feed. Every time Tourner touched Julia, she became more tense; he could see it from here, so why hadn't Tourner realized? Julia rose and headed for the restroom. And Tourner passed a hand over her abandoned glass.

Edward stopped cleaning and stared at the screen. He couldn't be sure--and Tourner left the table, walked to the piano, and began the Moonlight Sonata.

Moving quietly, Edward went out and exchanged the glasses. He picked up the empty appetizer plate and had it in his hand when Tourner noticed him. The man didn't miss a note. Maybe nothing had happened.

"Ed." Julia stood at his shoulder. "Don't let me leave with him," she murmured. "Please."

"Has he done anything to you? Said anything?"

"No--no. Nothing." She rubbed her hands over her upper arms. "He plays so beautifully, doesn't he? But... he reminds me of Manny tonight."

Manny, her ex. Manny, whom she would not discuss. Not now or ever. He saw that in the tight press of her mouth. "I won't," Edward said.

She gave him a small smile. She picked up the glass that had been Tourner's and took a sip, then carried both glasses over to the piano.

In the kitchen, Edward watched them talk and drink. Watched Tourner slump twenty minutes after draining the glass that had been Julia's, heard him miss notes with increasing frequency over the next half hour. What Julia said to him before she fled the restaurant was lost under the music.

Edward met Tourner at the piano. "What were you going to do to her?"

Tourner slurred his words. "Nothing she wouldn't like. A lot. Play the Sonata on her--" He wriggled his pianist's fingers in a way that did not make Edward think of keys.

Edward punched him; he fell back onto the piano with a discordant jangle. He slid onto the floor, limp. "You'd think the bitch hadn't been touched before," Tourner mumbled into the carpet.

With one hand, Edward grabbed Tourner's wrist. The other held his cracker.

###

He can crack a fine crab leg, can Edward Morris, and he'll crack many more when he gets out of prison; his cousin has promised him so. But Greg Tourner won't play piano again, for fingers don't break half so cleanly or smoothly as chitin. Annnnnd yeah. Great style and control, but the setup is so clearly jinked to produce the result that it spoils it, which is why I didn't think this was a suitable winner this week. Good words, though i would expect nothing less from an immortal AI with the contents of the library of congress enmeshed within its humming coils.

ZorajitZorajit posted:

Obsolete
1,042 Words

“Most of you probably don’t remember me,” the venerable man said from behind the podium at the head of the dining roomA smattering of polite laughter died down, “I hired Jerry on back in ’86, while we were still working on the Thunder Mega-Titan. His first month on the job, he had the rocket punch up and running better than ever. You’ll be missed, Jerry, welcome to retirement!” Yep bad, bad and bad.

The room applauded. Jerry sat beside the podium and sipped white wine. Half full of other staff, the country club looked out over the base. did it blink its sash windows and run its eastern wing through its long flowing roofing iron To the left of the dais sat the pilots in freshly changed, color coded uniforms. HR and Finance were sitting together, tittering away at the front of the room but smiling brightly whenever Jerry looked at them. IT had staked out a back corner, near the squat bronze statue of the base’s first titan breaking the neck of some extra-dimensional invader sent by Lord Kyton. Missing were the rest of the rest of the tech-mechs. They’d be below, Jerry thought, scrambling to get the thirty meter mecha back in fighting condition.

An “Ohhh” washed through the crowd as the sixth pilot, Greene, arrived in the back.

“Jerry!” she called over the crowd and held up a bottle of Fernet. At the dais, she passed around shot glasses and poured. The pilots were stood and held out their glasses. Jerry nodded, but his head sunk. “Jerry’s always been the man! I don’t remember a time we couldn’t get him into the tank to rewire bio-cabelling. You remember the time you pulled a thirty-six hour shift to degrease the plasma projector after that big slime guy came down? Remember, he comes in inna tux, lookin’ like he’s straight from a wedding. Here’s to Jerry!” The pilots barked in approval, but Greene cut them off before they drank, “Jerry. And absent friends.”

He swallowed the bitter liquor. Greene came down from the podium, collecting slaps on the back as she passed the other pilots to sit off the end of the table. The lunch service came around, carving soy-beef roast from brown and pink bricks and salads off flavorless hydroponic spinach. Jerry picked at it with his fork, the booze had gone to his head, he felt a migraine coming on.

A waiter tapped him on the shoulder, “Sir?” The waiter, a young enlisted man said, “Dietary said you wouldn’t want soy, so they had your meal sent over.” Before Jerry could reply, his plates swapped and a cloche swept away-- a bowl of quinoa sat steaming on the plate beside a pair of plastic cheater chopsticks.

Raquel from HR had made her way to the podium while Jerry salted his bowl. “Hi everyone! Just a couple of announcements before we diiig in! The community picnic is this weekend, and free to anyone with a club card. Kids movie night will be next Thrusday at seven, come on out for a screening of Mecha City Ramblers. And on Friday it’s Hawaiian shirt day! So, wear your favorite Hawaiian or tropical shirt. But please no actual depictions of Hawaii, out of respect for the dead. Also no blue jeans, as we will be visited by the Hyper Wizard Yutuu. Okay, sorry Jerry! Enjoy!” holy crap is there any point to any of this

In the lull, Jerry managed to get to his meal undisturbed. The seat to his left sat reserved for the base commander, who shook his hand before lunch, but left to meet contractors today.


Captain Davies turned to him, “Pass the salt, sir?” Jerry reached for it, turned back. “Never mind. Have one down here,” the captain said.

Jerry fumbled in the breast pocket of his jacket and found the ribbed cap of the pill bottle. He felt his stomach churn. The cap stuck, and he wrapped a napkin over it, wrenching with recently diagnosed arthritic fingers. He grunted. The cap flew from his fingers and the bottle from his palm. A whine of feedback issued from the microphone as the cap struck it, the bottle hit the dais and rolled away, pills falling out and scattering under the table. All eyes were on him.

The moment hung in the air. Greene and the other pilots leaned over the table to stare. The roiling sensation in his gut kept up as Jerry got down on hands and knees under the table. He found the bottle lying on its side, the pills lost. He scooped some into his palm, letting the ones that had fallen onto the carpet go. The small of his back flared in pain as he shuffled backwards. In his seat he swallowed two of the pills, a hair catching in his throat. He hacked, swallowed water, hacked again into his napkin. Phlegm and blood stuck to the cloth.

When he looked up, it was over. The conversations picked up where they had left off. He was left with the remnants in his bowl. A sheet cake had been rolled into the back of the room, one of the waiters cut into it and had begun passing out cubes of yellow cake. Eventually one reached him, a corner piece coated in thick blue icing. He took a small bite from the corner where he could avoid the slathered sugar coating.

Two taps on the microphone signaled the last speaker, Susan Xi, his replacement. “Hi Jerry, hi everyone. Jerry, we wanted to get you a little something to remember us by. But the DOD won’t let us give out titan rides any more.” There was a little chuckle from the audience, and Jerry feigned politely. “So we got you a membership to the club. And not just because you were always the bottom seed at the invitational.” Another laugh, “We really do appreciate your service. You’re leaving the department in good hands, and as we transition your team to other projects, you can enjoy your retirement knowing we’ll keep the titans running, even if it does take us all to do.”

She stepped down as her speech ended, passing Jerry an envelope with the gold membership certificate. “We’ll need you back on the line tonight, we had to call in the reserve crew. At least you’ll have time to clear out your locker.” Okay on the one hand this has lots of relatively well chosen details in outlining its robo world, but on the other who goddam carrrrrres about all that stuff? what actually happens in this story? i mean mecha-bollocks aside it's a good vignette, but even a vignette needs some progression. he starts out a retiring dude and ends as a retiring dude who had a bit of cake. So?

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


sebmojo posted:

Pipe up if I haven't done you and you want a crit on your story from last week.

I'm up for that, given that all I know right now is that it was less bad than the previous two and I insisted on entering again this week even though I had an excuse.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Likewise could use a crit Seb.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?


sebmojo posted:

Pipe up if I haven't done you and you want a crit on your story from last week.

I'm piping please.

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013



Thanks for the crit, seb!

Thalamas
Dec 5, 2003

Sup?

sebmojo posted:

Pipe up if I haven't done you and you want a crit on your story from last week.

A crit sounds great.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills





sebmojo posted:

Pipe up if I haven't done you and you want a crit on your story from last week.

Hit me.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Some Guy TT posted:

Little Benny Learns His Lesson (382 words)
Flash Rule: Chatty motherfucker chats too much, gets what's coming to him.

March 15th

A new girl came to school today and her name was Bea that’s a dumb name and she was wearing yellow and black stripes and those are dumb colors so I said she was Bea the B and it was funny because she looks like a bee buzz buzz but also it’s like I said she was a b-word and it was funny and everybody laughed. I am smart. But then at recess she chased me with a pen and said buzz buzz I’m gonna sting you and the pen hurt and everybody laughed but it wasn’t funny it was dumb and I hate Bea she is dumb. Bad title (because who is saying the title? who is the implied watcher/pov? it reads weird because the story is in a very personal (and reasonably well-done) voice but the title comes from an external pov and there is no sense of what that pov might be) but a good first 'line' - it's actually a para, but you get a mile-a-minute kid thing and it makes me want to know what's gonna happen next.

April 8th

There were thunderstorms last night and I hate thunderstorms they are dumb I didn’t want to go to school today but mom made me. I was mad and I didn’t want to do anything but Claude made me come out at recess to look at Bea and I didn’t want to look at Bea she is dumb and I don’t care but he said it was going to be great and he dragged me Claude is dumb too. There were lots of kids and Bea’s friend said start and then Bea fell asleep and we touched and poked her and she wouldn’t wake up and then Mrs. Speare came and made us go away and I hate Mrs. Speare she is mean. I'm getting a sense I'm missing something with teh 'fell asleep' bit - is she just really good at pretending to be asleep? Cool, I guess. Still a good voice and the volatility of the narrator works well with the run-on structure

April 11th

I made a note from cut up magazines like in cartoons and sent it to Bea then I met her after school and she said do you like me and giggled and started poking me with the pen and saying buzz buzz and I said no I hate you go away but I got scared and fell down and said please please I’ll like you but help me and I’ll do whatever you want please help me and then she turned all red and said OK and then we went to her house and Bea’s mom is nice she is sleepy.

May 1st

There were thunderstorms all week but I didn’t care because Bea showed me how to sleep fast but I’ll never be as good as Bea she’s the best at sleeping fast Bea’s amazing and when I grow up I want to marry her. hmm. you're basically cheating by having it so short, because you get to coast on interesting style and don't have to show any of the cards you hint you have. I'm pretty good at this myself, so don't try bluffin a bluffer you feel me. Still, I think on balance this works just about ok, though I have a naggin feeling there's nothing behind the curtain.

Starter Wiggin posted:

He's Not Heavy, He's My Brother
872 words


"Oh yeah, it's morning! Let's go!" Randy bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen, where his mom was making breakfast. Bad title (never use unchanged song titles unless you're gonna be verrrry clever with them), bad first line. Give us a hint about why the main character is excited, give us some interesting words, give us something otherwise when we get to your next five paras of wibbly flannel we'll tune out. Empirical evidence: me.

"Calm down, Randy! I don't know what has gotten into you this morning." don't do this because it reminds the reader that they don't know either. She sat his breakfast down, and he wolfed it, almost without chewing. He slammed his water, dribbling down his chin, and ran out the door to the backyard where he found his brother Bo.

Bo was Randy's younger brother, barely. He'd entered their lives when Randy was young, and had immediately gotten (in Randy's opinion) more than his fair share of attention. No matter what Randy did, Bo had to do it too, and do it better.

Randy took up Frisbee, so did Bo.

Randy found surfing, and Bo would follow.

Randy learned to sing, Bo would take it up as well, and learn to dance.

But Randy was better at one thing. He was a master hunter. And no matter how much Bo tried to emulate him, he couldn't quite duplicate Randy's success with capturing his prey.

It was a skill he'd been perfecting for years. He'd started his training at a young age, almost by accident. The family he'd lived with before (he was adopted, as was Bo, the one thing they could really bond over) had started his passion, and he had perfected it.

He would start out slow, almost teasing. His prey would sit in the grass, unsuspecting. Randy would move an inch forward, and so would his prey. Another inch for Randy, another inch for the hunted. So it would go, the tempo slowly increasing until Randy was running, free and wild, after the enemy. Slowly, he'd gain on it until... POUNCE! And he'd have it.


The feel of the prey's fur under Randy's nails was bliss. It signaled victory. And that feeling was one that Bo chased himself, but could never quite get the hang of. But he was getting better. He'd been practicing in secret for the past week, and he was ready to debut his newly mastered skill to Randy.

"Hey Randy! Check this out! Hey! Watch! Come watch this!"

Randy looked over from his seat in the yard. i thought randy had run out with huge excitment to do something so why is he sittin down now Bo was standing, vibrating with excitement, in the center of the yard, ready to show off. also this is a dumb para, cut it.

"Go on then, let's see what you've got." Randy was apprehensive. Was Bo going to take the one thing that Randy had?

Bo crouched, and began his hunt. this is real bad telling Moments later, he was victorious, so is goddam this fur flying in celebration. WHAT ARE THEY HUNTIN IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK

Randy was devastated. All his life, this had been his. His one skill, the one ace he had over Bo, and now this too had been taken from him.

Randy stood. "Nice... nice job, Bo."

"Thanks Randy! I've been practicing real hard all week!"

"It, uh, it shows. Real nice, Bo."

"Wanna see it again? Here!" And Bo was off again, and he was even better this time. WHAT IS IT ARE THEY HUNTING PEOPLE LITTLE FURRY PEOPLE IS THAT THE TWIST More agile, more in sync with his victim, barely any room for improvement.

Randy couldn't, wouldn't, let Bo take this from him. And so he began to plan just how he could take back his place as the best. SHUT UP

###

After some research aided by his neighbors, Randy had discovered a few books that suggested that someone with Bo's particular set of skills might be allergic to his chosen prey. could you be vaguer and less specific please, perhaps by composing your story solely of the letter 'q' After that, it was simply a matter of leaving those pages open to where their mom would read them, and let the rest unfold. ok so they are dogs? the trouble with this kind of TO SERVE MAN THEY WERE ACTUALLY ON EARTH THE WHOLE TIME is that for the sneaky LOLGOTCHA to work you need to hide so much vital info that the story suffers fatal damage

Within the week, Bo had been loaded in the van and driven off to see the doctor. When he came back, he was tired and groggy. Whatever the doctor had given him had fogged him up, and good. He slept for the rest of the day, and the day after that.

When he was feeling better, Randy convinced him to come out to the yard, to hunt some more. Bo agreed, and soon they were running around the yard, to warm up for the hunt.

"Watch the master in action!" Randy crouched and began to stalk his victim. Within a matter of moments, it was his, and Bo was itching to get his shot.

"OK, OK, here goes!" Bo hunkered down, and his hunt was on. Randy watched, waiting for the moment when Bo realized he wouldn't be able to win.

It took a good while for the realization to hit Bo. He looked everywhere, but his prey eluded him. "Randy, where'd it go? It was just here!" He searched everywhere, but his efforts were fruitless. i have spent time that i will never get back trying to work out why he can't see it. write stories not intentionally obfuscated puzzles

Randy didn't know how to tell him. Part of him felt bad; Bo was his brother in all but blood. He had a duty to take care of him. On the other hand, Randy was so good at everything else. Did he really need this? Couldn't he let Randy have one thing?

"Randy? Randy, do you see it?" Bo was on the verge of tears, and his anguish hit Randy in the pit of his stomach. He couldn't take back what he had already done, but he could try to make it better.

"I think maybe it went inside, Bo. Let's go look."

They went inside together, Bo taking the lead, Randy behind him, trying not to knock his bandage. so are they dogs? is that the trick here? i mean that makes no sense and is dumb (dogs don't cry for one) but neither does this story (it is also dumb btw). It is also vague in all the wrong goddam places to an almost enraging degree. the first rule of tdome is 'write good words' but the second and we are talking photo finish here is DON'T ENRAGE JUDGES WITH YOUR NONSENSICAL STORY

Thalamas posted:

Homecoming/A Lightless Sky

Chess took the dental bridge out of his mouth and carefully scratched mark number 9,131 into his wall using the metal end. Good title, though verging on the irritatingly artsy so you'd better justify it well, and very good opening - lots of interestingly precise detail, a dangling question mark over the import of the number and the fact he had to use his dental bridge.“Silver anniversary. Where’s my gift, warden?” he murmured to the camera. He put his teeth back in, crossed his legs, and closed his eyes.

The Southport Correctional Facility appeared first, a perfect reproduction in the mind's eye. Breathe. The inmates, the guards, the staff, each one walking, talking, eating, making GBS threads. Breathe. Grass, dirt, stone, roots. Breathe. Elmira to the north, filling with buildings and people and lives. Freedom. Breathe.

On the other end of the camera feed, Dale drained the last of his coffee and swiveled his chair. “Readings are good again. The Battery looks settled. I’m going to grab a little lunch. You want anything, Stan?”

“Nope. Wife sent me in with leftovers.” The Operator shifted his bulk out into the hallway this is a very clumsy way of saying 'he got up', heading for the mess in the next building over. Are these

Chess floated in a meditative state. The words of his Abbot echoed across decades, the last he'd heard before leaving Sanctuary to make right what he had done. “When you imagine, you empower. Empathy is the best of the human condition.”

For the first time in more than twenty years, his cell door opened. this is v bland for such a momentous occasion Brunette, leggy, and wearing black, she said, “Alfonso Alvarado?” His skin was pale and he was so much older than the picture, but those black eyes were the same: penetrating. Chess nodded. “We’re here to break you out. Come with me.” She held out her hand. His shook as he reached out for it. Your viewpoint is bouncing back and forth here - don't have multiple viewpoints in one para, and don't introduce a bunch of characters you're not going to use in a 1000 word story

In a whisper, he asked, “Are you real or imagined?” Fingertips brushed. He took hold and she pulled him free. Breathe.

The power shut off when he breached the cell door. For a moment, the darkness was complete. Power returned; the prison hummed as the backup generators kicked in, but the lights outside remained off, visible through barred windows.

She led him by the hand. Thigh-thick cables sprouted like tree branches from the trunk of his solitary room, itself encircled by an enormous machine. The halls were empty, the cells void of contents.

“What is this? Where are the people?” His voice, gaining strength, rang in the hollows.

“Gone. With you here, they don’t need anyone else. The whole unit has been converted for your output. That’s why we’re getting you out. Without you as their ‘Battery’, New York will be without power until they can get the conventional plants running again.”

He stopped walking, but held on tight and yanked. She whiplashed around, crashing into him. “What the gently caress do you mean? This is a prison! My prison.” She skinned leather, pulling a .45. the sky over the story was the colour of an incongruously noir turn of phrase He brought his knee up into her stomach, kicking out as she sagged and catching her wrist. The gun clattered down a grated stairwell. “People don’t power states, mija. I’m not some battery.” He twisted her arm, locking the joint.

“The truth,” he demanded.

“You’ve been locked up for a long time, Alfonso,” she gasped. “The government tells no one, knowing they violate their own laws, but they have captured the power of imagination to fuel this country. The people in prison, in solitary, they sit and imagine; most produce a few hundred Megawatts per hour. You produce more than a hundred thousand, the only one they've ever found who does. They don’t need the others anymore in this grid.”

He let her go. Breathe. your pov is all over the place - try and tidy that up.

“The window is closing, Alfonso. They’ll have people here soon. The only reason we’ve gotten this far is Southport runs on a skeleton crew. They only have one prisoner – you.”

“Call me Chess, mija. I'm not that man any more.” They ran.

In the control room, Stan frantically flipped through the security feeds they had neglected. “Dale! Get the gently caress in here!” he shouted, praying his friend was back in the building. Jake and Thad, the guards, were collapsed and unmoving at the complex entrance. A Buick Regal with a vinyl top idled in front of the Battery’s containment facility.

He watched, helpless, when a man stepped out of the Buick as Dale came around the corner, returning from the mess. The Taser caught him in the chest and he fell. The man zip-tied the Operator’s hands and feet. Stan grabbed his gun and sprinted for the exit. “Ohgodohgodohgodohgod-“

He reached the pair at the exit. “Stop!” Stan leveled the gun at them. “You can’t leave.”

Chess looked him in the eyes. Breathe. “You won’t shoot me. You need me.” He took the gun from the man’s shaking hands and held it down by his side.

“I know you. I've watched you for so many years. Imagine, the whole state will be without power. The damage would be catastrophic.”

“Don’t listen to him, Chess. They only care about their Battery.”

He closed his eyes and imagined. His grandchildren, cold and shivering in the depths of winter. Breathe. Industry and business shut down. Breathe. The lights of Elmira, Buffalo, New York City, extinguished. Breathe. Coal smoke painting the sky. Breathe.

Four breaths. Could one man, one killer, do better than to provide light, heat... life to more than 8 million people? He walked out the doors and looked up at a cloudless sky, the February sting prickling his skin. So clear. The milky way, perfect in a lightless world. Breathe. A whole land, his to grasp again. To take hold and master, to dominate, to use for his benefit. He would use it. ehhhhh nearly. I sort of like your hardboiled clatter, but it's just too mucky and muddy with the pov's shifting and the character an uneasy mix between a mob torpedo and a monk - not that that isn't a good character, you just don't achieve a convincing version of it. Still, many good words and a potent idea means this would be a good one to revisit.

He would use it up.

“Take me home.”

perpetulance posted:

Likewise could use a crit Seb.

Done you, son. Spoiler: decent, if a bit on the nose.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at Apr 5, 2014 around 08:20

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

Drinking shows a real commitment to becoming a cooler person!


sebmojo posted:

Pipe up if I haven't done you and you want a crit on your story from last week.
I'd love one; crits are just the best

tenniseveryone
Feb 8, 2014


sebmojo posted:

Pipe up if I haven't done you and you want a crit on your story from last week.

If the offer still stands, yes please?

Nitrousoxide
May 30, 2011

do not buy a oneplus phone




Thanks for the crits on my stuff from last week.

nickmeister
Apr 7, 2009

Patron of the Pants


Oops, gonna have to pull out this week. Now I am honor-bound next week.

Anyways, thank you, sebmojo for the crit. Very helpful.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


The Suffering Sister
(1190 words)


This bar reminds me of that pub in Rouen, I thought. I wish I could remember its name. If only it hadn’t been bombed out in the war. The establishment and the customers shared the same attributes: dark, dingy, and just a little bit seedy. It seems nothing is truly lost.

My mark’s face was lined and his hands leathery. He glanced at me, and his eyes sang a country song: a wife remarried, three kids grown and gone, nothing but an old house, bills, and a dog. As I sat down, he slumped back into his drink. This one was far gone; even the sight of an attractive woman didn’t bring him back to the real world.

“Money isn’t everything,” I said. He looked up and scowled.

“Only people with money say that,” he replied. “What the hell do you want?”

“I want you to listen to me,” I said. I blinked and, for an instant, my eyes were as bright as headlights. It got his attention: he sat up straight and pushed away the drink.

“What the hell?”

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Fisher,” he stammered. “Darren Fisher.”

“What I want, Darren,” I explained, “is for you to call your kids in the morning. Tell them you’re going on vacation, and you’d like them to come.”

“Uh-huh,” said Darren. “And just where am I going? With you?”

“Wherever you like,” I answered. I took a thick manila envelope out of my purse and slid it across the table to him. “That’s twenty thousand dollars, Darren Fisher. Take it.”

“Bullshit,” he said, but he grabbed the envelope all the same.

“No bullshit,” I insisted. “Just a second chance. If you squander that money, I’ll know, and I’ll come and set you right. You understand?”

“Ye-yeah,” he said. I smiled..

“Hey,” Darren said, “I thought you said money wasn’t everything?”

“It isn’t,” I replied, “but it certainly helps.” The jukebox switched to an AC/DC song - the one with the bell at the beginning. As the guitar cut in, I left Darren and walked out into the hot night. I put my hands in my pockets and wondered at the stars.

I miss having a friend. I miss Jeremiah.

-

Most souls die easy deaths. They come back and are overjoyed by the sight of their friends and loved ones. Heaven is, in a word, perfect. There is no want. Our bodies are built to never get sick, never age, never deteriorate.

I had no memory of my death. One moment I was tying a tourniquet, the next I woke up in Heaven. I had spent my days in France with my arms stained with blood and my ears deafened by the cries of young men for their mothers.

Jeremiah hadn’t been so lucky. He’d bled to death over the course of a day in a miserable, filthy trench on the German side of the lines. Most of his friends died the same way.

When we woke up, we demanded answers. We wanted to know why, and a perfect society doesn’t take kindly to questions. There are Rules and Punishments and a very real Wrath. Some of us rebel, fly the coop, and return to Earth, violating Rule Number One.

Jeremiah and I came here together. We fought the good fight: setting things right, staying on the move. Fifty years is a long time though, and we’d parted ways. He wanted to do more: change the world and set things right. I was content changing lives. I hadn’t seen Jeremiah since before the Berlin Wall fell.

“Don’t think of it as a matter of good and evil,” he said in my memory, “think of it as cops versus punks.”

-

I’d just lied to Darren Fisher. I wasn’t going to keep tabs on him; no amount of supervision would change a man’s nature. I had faith that he would turn out, and that was enough. It was a simple trick - about as simple as getting the money itself. All you had to do was fool the machine, give it a yes when the bank sent a no, simple as ever. Humans do the same thing, except with wires and computers.

To my annoyance, the street was full of people. I wandered down the sidewalk, trying to find a place with fewer prying eyes. There was a drunk man pissing in the alley behind the bar. I felt safe enough that even if he saw anything, he wouldn’t remember - or believe - it.

I closed my eyes and stretched. My wings grew out of my back; at first only a spreading arc of light, then materializing into skin, bone, muscle, and feathers. On the ground they’re unwieldy, almost thirty feet from tip to tip. In the air, they’re (if you’ll excuse the word) heavenly. Any more, I don’t feel myself without them.

I heard a thump behind me, and wheeled around to see the drunk man falling to the ground. His neck was skewed at the wrong angle. Next to him stood a tall woman, her eyes flashing with light.

“You should know better, Mallory,” said the woman, “than to reveal your wings in front of a human.” She drew a pistol from her belt. “I, Rachel, agent of the Lord, claim you and order you to-”

I didn’t wait for her to finish. To stand and fight was to die. I cupped my wings and flapped hard, sailing into the night. I made about twenty feet before she fired - first in my leg, then a better mark in my chest, and another through my left wing. The world swam, my breath left, and I fell to earth.

My wings were soaked with blood when I came to. I could feel the sucking of my chest, the burning pain in my leg and wing, a sense of numb shock everywhere else. Rachel stood above me, her pistol back in its holster. It must be bad if I’m not even worth a drawn weapon.

I tried to sit up, and screamed as my broken body lit up with pain. I’d be better in a few days, maybe a week at most, but by then Rachel would have me on the short path to Heaven and Judgement. A quick swipe, head separated from shoulders, and my soul would be on its way back.

“Took you long enough to find me,” I muttered through the fog of pain.

“Only a glimpse in time,” said Rachel, “and yet so much damage has been done to this world.”

“Damage?” I said. My laugh turned to a cough, and blood dripped down my chin. “I was helping these poor souls. More than you have ever done.”

Rachel drew a grim, etched blade from her belt. “No more,” she said.

There was a shot, and the blade fell as Rachel’s head exploded in gore and bone. Her body dropped unceremoniously to the ground. Thump.

Behind her stood familiar silhouette. He knelt down, his face close, and his hand touched mine. “Jeremiah,” I whispered.

Smiling, he heaved me over his shoulder. “Not going to die today, Krankenschwester.”

Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


Week 86 Crits for Cache Cab, Thalamas, HopperUK, Some Guy TT, Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi, Chairchucker, Nethilia, ReptileChillock, Whalley, tenniseveeryone

Cache Cab - Wall's Well That Ends Well
Talent: Smoothing wallpaper(?)
I wasn't sold on this one. I found it really dumb that the mob would only recognize Frank only when they've looked at him for more than five seconds. With so many people, it took them this long to notice? Kind of unbelievable for a cop to blow his cover out of petty insults, too.

Thalamas - Homecoming/A Lightless Sky
Talent: Imagination
There are twelve "Breath." sentences in this story. You overdid it. I can't think of a vaguer talent than "has a really good imagination". Maybe you could have used that talent to, you know, have your main character imagine things. In this story it's only something that gets him into trouble, which would have made it interchangeable with any other talent. One judge liked the battery gimmick but I beg to differ--it's just there as a McGuffin. The woman spouts some exposition and kind of disappears in the last part of the story. Chess's characterization is inconsistent--is he a bad guy or what? Whatever.

HopperUK - Sorcha and the Mirror
Talent: Cleaning glass
A well-defined, specific talent that gets put to good use. Has an actual goddamn character arc, for crying out loud. (All of you losers read and learn.) It has a fairytale quality to it that doesn't yell for the reader to notice. Great ending that ties the first and last lines together.

Some Guy TT - Little Benny Learns His Lesson
Talent: Sleeping??
Narcolepsy is not a talent. Some of the judges wanted to DQ your rear end for naming your main character Benny, just so you know. I thought this was a lazy story--Benny is tsundere for Bea, then thunderstorms come and scare him and he 'fesses up and she teaches him how to sleep fast (as if this is something that could be taught) and now he's all thx Bea I wanna marry u and I think about how this could have been a fully-fledged story with more showing and less telling and less dumb gradeschooler narration but it isn't cute at all. The turn from "hating Bea" and "liking Bea" is too abrupt and that's why I'm mad, because you had a ton of loving words left over to make that work. I suspect you read the DFW story that God Over Djinn had linked, and what you took away from it was that writing in really long sentences would make your story good, but nope. I pushed this for loser.

Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi - The Fun of Flying with Squeegees
Talent: Cleaning highrise windows
Solid. If I have a complaint it would be that Javier's voice is a bit too self-assured, as if he was never in any real danger. He was very talky internally and externally, and that killed the suspense. The lack of emotional rapport I had with Javier killed your chances of reaching the high pile.

Chairchucker - Wouldn't If You Were On Fire
Talent: Spitting
Funny talent, unfunny execution. You went overboard on the meta humor. Just once or twice would have been fine. Your last scene turns the story into caricature in not a good way. Had the potential to be sweet.

Nethilia - Scrubbing the Evidence
Talent: Washing stains
The other judges really hated this. Boring was what they described it. I'm only half-inclined to agree, in that you have an actual story (which can't be said for the others this week), but it had a weak start and didn't pick up until Tara got hurt. Maybe you should have started in the playground instead, and fill us in quickly. The other bad thing you did was that you revealed Danny's talent only when it became convenient. You need to hint that in advance, and subtly so that we don't call it out the moment Tara ruins her uniform. Otherwise you will look like you're cheating and bullshitting out of a corner you've written yourself into. And wouldn't dad notice that Tara got hurt during dinner?

ReptileChillock - Le Tour de Franzia
Talent: Buttchugging
I'm not sold on the idea that buttchugging can be something people can get good at. And the fact that your protagonist dies from the act means that he isn't good at buttchugging, after all. Story's amusing, at least.

Whalley - Peel Out
Talent: Overtaking
We were torn over this. I was the only one who liked it. You showed that Jill has a talent, but that alone doesn't win the race. The "ring" twist is a little sweet but it honestly comes out as a cheap consolation prize. A nitpick: You mention an Audi and Mazdas, but we don't know what sort of cars are they, and it's jarring because you mentioned a Supra by name.

tenniseveryone - Footlong
Talent: Making sandwiches
Having critiqued your last story, I can say that this is an improvement. You've held my attention from start to finish. The ending, however. Like Nethilia, you sprang this twist without warning that it feels like a lame sucker punch. Come to think of it, you did this in your previous story! There are ways to bleed for Subway that aren't dumb. Please learn how to separate paragraphs.

Schneider Heim fucked around with this message at Apr 6, 2014 around 06:34

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



I'm out. I'd blame work, but gently caress that, this is on me. Hopper, count yourself lucky. Or not, since you're still judging.

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment





Fallen Rib

Djeser posted:

I'm out. I'd blame work, but gently caress that, this is on me. Hopper, count yourself lucky. Or not, since you're still judging.

I encourage anyone else who is afraid of judgment to drop out like a big baby coward!

Reminder: TWELVE HOURS remain to submit. The cutoff is 10pm EST, not midnight.

ravenkult
Feb 3, 2011


oh poo poo

Thalamas
Dec 5, 2003

Sup?

The Inside Job (1195 words)

“You’re not getting into Heaven, Mr. Sankowicz. Dozens of class three and four mortal sins and no repentance listed in the file,” the angel said. A gold plaque shone in the ever-present light of God: “Border Agent of the Month.” It hung on the wall behind a polished mahogany desk.

Al ran a hand through his thinning hair. “I’m willing to go in on a day pass or visiting hours, anything.”

The angel shook its head. “No. There is no day pass, no visiting hours. This isn’t a mental health facility, it’s Heaven. Please, don’t make me call the guardians to remove you, sir.” The opalescence of its eyes swirled, without pupils and unreadable. Al shook hands with the bureaucrat, then walked out. He ambled along the street of gold, back aching in a low throb, to the border with Hell.

He turned to examine Heaven. Jasper walls shone crimson with the fires of the barren waste behind him. People popped into being at the boundary in a steady flow. Most had the wide-eyed look of the recent dead and walked towards the gate for processing; a few didn’t bother, trudging away from the giant cube into endless Hell. Each wore a simple white robe and a pair of leather sandals.

Heaven before him, Hell behind. He’d lied, cheated, stolen, even killed back in the war, but this time he would keep his word.

The slow indignity of colorectal cancer, his second bout after a remission, led to a reunion with Evelyn. She’d joined AA, found God, worked hard to make amends. It could have been nice if he hadn’t been dying in agony. They’d split up fifteen years back, their relationship the second victim of a one-car collision. Evelyn had walked away, but not Maggie. Six was too young. “Drunk driver hits telephone pole, one dead,” the page four article had read, another commonplace tragedy. His little girl would have left a trail of broken hearts behind her in college. Mags had been a beautiful child. Al gritted his teeth.

The blame he’d carried for years had faded in a haze of morphine during the last days. She’d made him promise, begged him with tears streaming, “You find her, Al. You find my baby and tell her I’m sorry and that mommy loves her.”

The promise galvanized him against the malaise of being Hell bound. Those who appeared with a halo were able to walk right past the admittance lines, bypassing all the screening. He walked north along the wall, seeking the quiet lands between the gates, and waited. A young man with big, blue eyes arrived with an audible pop. “Am I dead?” he asked.

“I’m sorry, son,” Al said, swinging a large rock into the teen’s temple and knocking him down. A couple of quick jerks and the robe came off. He tore it into long strips, then bound and gagged the unconscious body. “I hope you can forgive me. I have a little girl inside that I need to see. Someone should be along soon to help.” He plucked the golden ring away and settled it above his head.

He walked back to the gate, past the waiting lines of recently deceased, and through the Members entrance. A pair of guardians flanked the pearly gate; each had a sheathed sword buckled over its hips. They gave him a nod as he passed through. Al kept his head high, body relaxed, and face smiling as he nodded back.

No sirens, no alarms. He figured on at least half an hour before they were on his trail. A block in, he turned a corner and took off at a jog. A weight pressed all around him, grew steadily heavier.

Every street was the same. Featureless gold walls, floors, and ceilings. Doors set regularly. A choir sang in the distance, audible in the otherwise silent halls. He picked a door at random. Inside was a field of luxuriant grass. A small group, all of them in their prime, sat underneath an ancient oak on a checkered blanket. The scattered remnants of a meal surrounded a wicker basket.

Their conversation stopped as he approached. He fidgeted under the combined scrutiny. “Hi there. I just got here and was hoping you could tell me how to find someone.”

A woman stood. When she spoke, it was in a language he didn’t recognize, but the meaning came to him regardless. “You must have missed your orientation. Just call one of the public terminals and do a search.”

“Yeah, I did. Where are the terminals?” The weight was crushing him.

“Terminal,” she said. A touch screen materialized in the air. “Who are you looking for?”

“My daughter. Her name is Maggie Ann Sankowicz.” Al joined her, looking over the woman’s shoulder. Her fingers tapped in the name. Three pictures appeared, each girl in her twenties.

“Which one?”

His heart stuttered. The middle photograph: those green eyes, the curly brown hair, dimpled cheeks that he always thought she’d grow out of. He tapped the picture and a slip of paper reading “Ω 45771” came out. He took it.

“Just take one of the elevators.” He blinked, face blank. “Any of the double doors.”

He thanked her and stepped outside. A trio of guardian angels spotted him from down the hall. “We’ve got him, sector α, 22000 block. Stop where you are, sir!” Instead, he sprinted away and the weight doubled, staggering him. A promise to keep. The double doors slid open at a touch. Inside, the only feature was a blank screen on the back wall.

“Elevator, take me here!” He held up the paper to the screen. Nothing happened. Rapid footsteps echoed outside. He slapped a hand on the screen. It buzzed at him. He drew Ω 45771 with his finger as the flaming tip of a sword slid between the doors. A loud clunk sounded and the elevator moved upward. Al fell to his knees.

The doors opened to an empty hall. The weight, the horrible weight. He crawled out. Sirens sounded, flashing red lights descended from the ceiling, regular sections of the walls reformed into reliefs of his face with “Wanted” underneath.

The door across the hall had the right numbers. He banged on it, unable to reach the handle. It opened and his little girl stepped out, all grown up. “Dad? Dad!” she fell down beside him, wrapping her arms around his prone form.

“Mags, I love you so much. I can’t stay, they’re coming for me. Your mother, she’s sorry, and she loves you, too.” An oath fulfilled. He prayed, asking forgiveness for leaving Maggie alone, a true act of contrition after a life of only the most perfunctory belief in God. The weight lifted.

The ever-present light flowed together, gained form. “I am the Metatron. We forgive you, Albert. A soul cannot gain admittance after death, but We are prepared to offer you a place here. Join our hosts, defend right, promise Me your loyalty.”

“Could I see my daughter?”

“Angels may traverse these halls. There will be time enough to visit loved ones.”

“I promise.” The transformation was glorious.

CommissarMega
Nov 18, 2008


Is it possible to get a time extension, maybe an hour or two?

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment





Fallen Rib

CommissarMega posted:

Is it possible to get a time extension, maybe an hour or two?

Sorry dude, the deadline is my bedtime. Write faster!

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should!

td19


Testify
1200 words

-see archives-

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at Dec 11, 2014 around 02:53

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Likely to be late as well, but hopefully not a total failure.

RunningIntoWalls
Dec 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

The Visitor-1,129 words Flash rule - Must pass Bechdel's test.

Maggie began her morning ritual. One pill from the box and another from the bottle, make the bed, get dressed, and make tea. She calmed the kettle and roused the television. Joanna would over soon to take out for the day. She fidgeted around on the couch in front of the television, anxious to tell and not tell Joanna about the visitor from last night.

Joanna knocked at the door and a squat mass of wrinkles and silver hair with a cane answered it. They hugged briefly while moving toward Joanna’s car. Joanna's driving and small talk masked her worry about her friend. She did not appear comfortable at all in a car she’s seen and been in for at least ten years. She was two years older than Maggie, aging with infinite more grace than her companion. With the death of a close mutual friend a few years back, Joanna was part of a Maggie’s ever shrinking list of companions.

Shopping went easy enough. Maggie dropped the three squares meals a day for a large lunch sandwiched in between tea and dessert. Her reasoning was that she lived long enough to have dessert for dinner. Maggie paid and haggled with Joanna over what she should make to pay her back for taking her out over lunch.
“Strawberry shortcake would work out for me,” Joanna said.

“Fine. Do you want it with or without strawberry jam,” Maggie asked. She leaned back to let her Philly cheese steak be placed in front of her.

A plate that was filled with crepes was placed in front of Joanna. ”Yes please,” Joanna said.

“You have to wait a little while longer for that then. I ran of preserves and have to make some more,” Maggie said in between mouthfuls of the greasy sandwich.

“That I can do,” Joanna smiled.

Lunch continued in silence for a few moments. Joanna noticed that Maggie was fidgeting, she wanted to tell her something.
“What’s wrong,” asked Joanna.

“I saw Kelly last night,” whispered Maggie.

Joanna furrowed her brow.”Maggie, she’s been dead for a while now. If you wanted to go to the graveyard, you should have told me. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her too.”

“She was in my house! I just finished my tea and I was all ready for bed. I get to my room and Kelly is just standing there, with bright blonde hair and long robe. She looked wonderful, like what she used to look like before the smokes and booze.” Maggie was quiet for a moment. “We talked for a long time. She said that she got an order to come and visit me. Said something about my time being up. I told her that I wasn’t going anywhere. I still have some things I need to take care of.”

“How about we talk about this at your house that we can have some privacy,” asked Joanna.

“Fine.” Maggie sunk into the seat and poked and prodded at the rest of her lunch. She knew Joanna was right; exposing random people to a vision some shut in had might reflect badly on her. All that was needed was some time to form her story. The check came and Maggie started to poke Joanna under the table with her cane.

“Would you please stop that,” laughed Joanna.

“I would be home by now if I walked home, no telling where we be if we were in the car by now,” said Maggie, getting out of her chair.

Maggie poured the hot water into both mugs on her kitchen table. It was a while before either of them said anything.

“I’m afraid of dying, Jo,” said Maggie. “So many things left unfinished and uncared for. I want a do over but I know that’s not possible. But at least I saw Kelly again and I know I will. That makes me feel a little better I guess.”

“You’re not dead just yet, you stooge,” huffed Joanna. “You were just tired.” More silence followed but the house felt less tense. The tea was drained and the mugs were collected. Joanna and Maggie hugged each other, holding on to prevent the other from leaving.

“I have to go, but if you need someone to help you out making the preserves, give me a call,” said Joanna.

“I will,” said Maggie.

Joanna made sure that to stay a few more seconds to make sure Maggie was okay. After she left the house, she made sure that Maggie’s neighbor Felix would check up on her after she left.

Around 8 o’clock PM, Felix called Joanna. Maggie collapsed while Felix was over. She was in the hospital. Felix urged to visit her; he didn't know how long she would last.

Joanna arrived a little after nine and found Maggie’s room with little trouble. Maggie looked like she was asleep, though Joanna was not sure. She sat in chair next to her friend and saw her chest rising and falling. Joanna relaxed and closed her eyes.

When she awoke, she noticed two things. First, the clock on the nightstand read ten and that someone was standing on the other side of Maggie. It was a familiar face.

Joanna looked at Kelly. She radiated patience, the damage from smoking and drinking gone. Her hair was brilliantly blonde, shining in spite of the darkness on the room. She appeared to be wearing a simple white robe that billowed in the nonexistent wind.

“Told you,” Maggie said weakly.

“Hello ladies. Long time since I saw you two last,” said Kelly. There was something in her voice Joanna couldn't place. It was a cadence, a little like she sung a short little song. Time melted between the three friends as each one asked the other what the other was up to. After everything was said, Kelly took Maggie’s hand. Maggie shook her off.

Maggie smiled and said “Just let me finish with some baking and I’ll be ready to go. Just make sure that they got some hot tea set up when I arrive.”

Kelly nodded and looked at Joanna.

“Jo, it’s late. Go home and get some rest. I can guarantee Maggie will be here for at least a few more months.” With a smile, Joanna relaxed. Kelly spoke the truth. Kelly could have said that she makes bread out of thumbtacks and Joanna would have believed it and eaten it without protest. She got out of her chair as if she was possessed.

“Wait, Jo,” said Maggie. Joanna turned around, breaking her haze. Kelly was gone, not a trace remained. “When I get out of her, I’m going to throw a party.” It was the first time since Kelly’s death that Joanna heard a belly laugh out of Maggie.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


For The Glory of God
1174 Words

It had been three years since the Fourth Crusade, and Charles was bored out of his mind. The military campaign had not actually accomplished much of anything, and Charles was one of the few fortunate Templars to have survived multiple direct military engagements. He had thought then that he would finally have the chance to die for something meaningful, but instead Charles merely returned to his estate in southern France upon the Crusade's conclusion.

Some fleeting purpose appeared when orders came from the Pope that he was to protect Pierre de Castelnau from the Cathars. It was an idiotic instruction to be sure- the Cathars were pacifist and no danger to anyone. Still, the Pope had long tried to reconcile the Cathars with the rest of the Church peacefully. Perhaps these instruction were intended merely for the benefit of appearances.

In any case, at least now Charles had an excuse to do something almost interesting for a change. He ordered his retainers to bring him a representative from the Cathars. They returned with a raggedy old man, who sat on the opposite side of Charles' very classy table. Charles had trouble suppressing his contempt. He had expected a man with some appreciation of finery.

"I need your word," said Charles, "that no harm will come to Pierre de Castelnau."

"Why do you ask this now, my lord?" the old man said. "He has been in our midst for months. He prays every morning at the blessed fountain near the two rivers, and no harm has come to him."

The retainers hiked up their weapons. This was what Charles despised the most about heretics. They had no sense of respect or restraint. The only required answer was a simple "yes", and this pompous old man was asking rude questions. Charles put up his hand and the retainers stood down.

"Is this how you speak to all Templars?"

"Nay, my lord," said the old man. "Only those who are ignorant of our faith."

"I know all about your faith," Charles sneered. "No meat, no sex, no leaders, no purpose."

"It is as you say, my lord," replied the old man. "But what have these principles brought you in life? You have no desire to speak to me, and yet hear you are, listening to my foul words."

"I don't know what I was expecting," Charles said. "Perhaps a divine message from an angel?"

"But I am an angel, my lord."

Charles cocked an eyebrow, and looked to the retainers on either side. They dared show no indication that they noticed or cared about the old man's words.

"I am an angel, as are you, as are your retainers, as is the Pope in Rome, as is Pierre de Castelnau," he continued. "Our presence in the material world is God's punishment for our rebellion against heaven. Only by rejecting this place can we accept our lord and savior Jesus Christ into our hearts. This world is commanded by Satan, who leads us into temptations, and we fight against one another, having no one true lord and God to fight against. We are all miserable, but at least we Cathars will have hope in the thereafter. As can you."

Charles had heard enough. He gave another flick of his wrist, and the retainers were immediately upon the old man, dragging him away to the torture room. Once the heretic had repented of his beliefs, Charles would execute the man personally. It would not be a satisfying day, but at least it would be something.

---

That night, Charles found himself wandering outside by himself far from home. The old man's heresy had proved surprisingly troublesome. What if Charles were, in fact, an angel? It would explain an awful lot. He had joined the Templars out of boredom. He had participated in four Crusades now, and while that dulled his senses for awhile, there would inevitably be another break in the action, and Charles was once more left stirring in boredom. A fallen angel would fight anyone, provided God was not there. And was that not exactly what Charles was doing, even if he was acting under orders from the Church?

Charles was so lost in his thoughts he did not notice the approach of the highwayman. He was a very large, uncouth figure wielding a club. Charles could feel that much even though he could not see the man in the dead of night.

"Your money or your life."

In an instant, Charles had unsheathed his knife and slashed the highwayman's right arm. He screamed in pain and dropped his club. Charles made another swift movement and kicked the man's legs out. He crushed the man's left foot and twisted the brute's shoulder. Then, grabbing the thug's very own club, Charles destroyed the man's kneecaps.

Normally at this point Charles would have taken his knife to the attacker's throat and put an end to the man's misery. But he was mesmerized by the highwayman's guttural shouts, and his feeble efforts to escape.

"What are you doing, you poor fool?" said Charles. He trampled upon the man's mangled limbs, and the screams intensified. "If you survive this encounter you'll just live as a cripple. But here, being killed by a Templar? You'll receive a Christian burial and a Christian sacrament. Much better than whatever miserable end you would have come to sooner or later."

Yet in spite of these words of comfort, the crushed man kept trying to flee, looking at Charles with an impression of sheer terror. Charles was fascinated by this attitude. It was one he had seen so many times in the Crusades. Charles had always thought that it was because his victims knew they were damned. But now he wondered whether they were truly all angels, completely terrified at the prospect of reuniting with God Almighty, so much so that they would fight any fight rather than concede that the material world was not what Satan had promised them.

Charles shook his head violently and quickly sliced the highwayman's throat. This religious heresy had gone too far. He should have let the retainers murder the old man right at the start. This was the devil's work, and Charles needed guidance. He resolved to sit in quiet contemplation, to lie prostrate before God until he received an answer to put an end to all these heretical doubts.

---

At sunrise, Charles' eyes opened, and he smiled with the glory of God in the highest. He stood up and, laughing, spread his wings, and flew down to the blessed fountain. Pierre de Castelnau would be there, and Charles would make his knife sing with the adulation of the man's blood. In this way Charles would begin another glorious Crusade, once more bring triumph to the name of the Almighty, and bring proof to the Cathar lie that there was nothing under the sun but the self-hating servants of Satan, who would fight each other in lieu of a heavenly host.

Some Guy TT fucked around with this message at Apr 6, 2014 around 19:07

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


Goddamnit I only changed the word count.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Reapers, Sowers (1192 words)

When I got to Sarah’s house after class, the angel’s car was already in her driveway. He even answered the door. Tried to tell me that Sarah “didn’t want to see me right now.” I could have punched him right in his smug angelic visage. Too bad Sarah would’ve been furious.

“Can you tell her,” I said, gritting my teeth, “to call me later?”

“Absolutely, good buddy,” said the angel, smiling beatifically. Birds chirped exultantly in the cherry trees. “Consider it done.”

Then, he shut the door in my face.

How could I possibly compete? He fell from heaven a couple months back, right into the varsity soccer championships. Our Eagles were 2-3 with the Wolverines and there were fifteen seconds left in the game. Then all of a sudden a heavenly chorus lifted up its voices in song and something I thought was a meteor thumped down right at the toes of our midfielder’s cleats. Suffice to say the ref called the game for the visitors after that.

As the angel eventually told us, the goalie for the Wolverines was about to find out that he had adenocarcinoma. “He never played soccer again,” said the angel, shaking his head. “I thought I’d give him one last good game.”

The problem was when he started palling around with Sarah. I’d walk into the cafeteria and see her sitting in a pool of heavenly light. I’d try to give her a ride home and she’d be waving goodbye from the back seat of the angel’s chariot. Once she swore he hadn’t come home with her, but I snuck upstairs and caught a bevy of snow-white doves fluttering out of the window.

That kind of thing starts to get to a guy, you know?

Sarah and I were perfect for each other. The problem was, no matter what I did to win her back, the angel could do better. I volunteered with her at the soup kitchen; the angel manifested enough loaves and fishes to keep them stocked for six months. The angel could be better than I ever could, I reasoned. What he couldn’t be was worse.

Now Sarah had this self-proclaimed “boyfriend.” Biff Hamilton. He actually left flowers in her mailbox the first day of every month. “He’s so sweet,” Sarah would say. “I don’t understand why you always glare at him like that.” It was brave of her, trying to keep her chin up and all, but I could hear her desperation. If I could just get Biff to leave her alone once and for all, she’d be all over me. So here was my plan: I’d invite everyone out to go bowling on Sunday, and then I’d clock Biff in the nose right in front of Sarah and everyone. The angel couldn’t possibly counter that move.

When I walked into the bowling alley on Sunday the kids were all standing in a circle. In the center was Biff. He was lying on the floor, pocket protector askew and glasses snapped. Blood trickled out of his nose. The angel stood over him with his arms crossed. My thunder: stolen.

“I punish the wicked too, you know. Acts 12:23,” the angel said, seeing my face. “Biff let Andy Harbison copy his chemistry midterm. And don’t even get me started on what he wants to do to her.” He nodded at Sarah, who was kneeling over Biff’s limp body with a horrified look. She must have been embarrassed to learn of his ungentlemanly intentions.

I shared a lane with the two of them, Sarah and the angel. He kept one wing wrapped protectively around her shoulder while she sniffled. Normally Sarah was great at bowling, but today she kept winging the ball into the gutter. “Guess we should have done bumper bowling, huh?” I joked, but Sarah didn’t even laugh.

“Let me help,” said the angel, and wrapped his arms around her. “You just pull the ball back like this -”

I glared at the back of his halo.

But then, Sarah elbowed him away. “Will you just stop?” she said. “Stop. Knock it off.”

My heart leapt. “Yeah,” I said. “Knock it off. She doesn’t want your help.”

The angel glowered at me. I rose to my feet, meaning to give him a good shove. As I did, though, Sarah grabbed her purse and stormed out of the bowling alley. “Now look what you did,” I said to him. I was off my game, after that. When I spooked Richie Valentine and made him drop a ball on his foot, I couldn’t even smile.

That night I got a text message from my chem lab partner. “OMG sarah just broke up with the angel!” it read. “turn on the news. he FREAKED OUT…... HUGE fire on the soccer field” There were no injuries, said the newscaster; on Sunday night, the school grounds were empty. Repeated lightning strikes of this magnitude, though, were less likely than one person winning the lottery five times in a row.

I got to school early the next morning. Of course the angel was already there, helping freshmen with their homework while shining with the eternal light of heaven. “I think you ought to stay away from Sarah,” I said to him. “It’s obvious that you’re no good for her.”

The angel looked dimly down at me, adjusting his flaming sword in its scabbard. “Is that so?” he said.

“Yeah, it’s so,” I said. “She doesn’t want you.”

I noticed, studying the angel’s face, that he had a fresh black eye. Had he and Sarah fought? I was half expecting to be punched myself. Yet he just looked at me incuriously, and after a moment, he smiled.

“Fine,” he said. “Fair’s fair. She’s all yours. All yours,” he repeated. “You deserve each other.”

“Now that’s the right answer, buddy,” I said, holding out my hand to shake. He took it warmly.

It’s funny, but for someone so interested in vengeance, the angel never caught up to Sarah. She worried about it more than I did, I think. She seemed tense for a long time. When I asked her out the next day, she stammered something that almost sounded like ‘no way’ before changing her mind and saying ‘yes’. When I touched her breasts in the back row at the movie theater that weekend, I could feel the muscles in her chest twitching. I’d sometimes catch her crying when she thought I wasn’t paying attention. This only lasted a few months, though, and I rubbed her shoulders and carried her books until she stopped acting so upset. After all, she had nothing to be distressed about. We were the perfect couple.

It’s been six years now, and our wedding is tomorrow: the happiest day in a man’s life. Neither of us could sleep. I’m sitting up writing this, reminiscing. Sarah’s praying in the other room. Myself, I usually just say a brief Hello to God on Sundays, but she has much more conviction in her faith. I can’t make out her words, behind closed doors, but I bet she’s asking God for marital bliss.

tenniseveryone
Feb 8, 2014


Mixed Blessing (897 words)

Suzanne broke through the crowd and through the bathroom door and through the cubicle door and threw up. She slung her handbag behind her as the door swung shut. The bag burst open. Her make-up and jewellery, her phone and her purse, the pregnancy test and the condom spilled out onto the tiles.

She leant back from the bowl, cold sweat racing down her forehead, and sat down amongst her belongings.
“gently caress,” she groaned, wiping her mouth with the arm of her fur coat. “gently caress.” The light above the cubicle flickered, and Suzanne winced. She felt around for the contents of her bag, freezing when she touched the condom wrapper. The foil was crumpled and torn but it was still in there. She managed to stand, despite her shaking legs, and flush the toilet. She tried to throw the wrapper in after it, but missed. It landed on a spot of vomit that had also missed its target. Her phone vibrated on the floor. She collapsed back down and began to cry.

“Hey!” someone yelled outside the cubicle, banging on the door. “You done in there yet? Some of us were actually in line to use the bathroom!” She sounded young, drunk and angry. Suzanne body rocked as she tried to suppress her sobs.
“Yo, shut the gently caress up! Can't you hear she's upset?” piped up whoever was in the cubicle next to Suzanne's. It was followed by a hand appearing beneath the partition, holding a screwed-up ball of toilet paper. “Here,” she whispered.
“Thanks,” Suzanne croaked. Groping behind her again, she found her body spray and used it liberally around the bowl, trying to exorcise the smell of puke. She held the tissue to her nose and blew into it.

The light flickered once more, and when it came back on it was dazzling, brighter than bright. She started to feel dizzy again. Out of the light, the angel stepped. Like Suzanne, barefoot. Unlike Suzanne, not having discarded a pair of high heels behind him. Instead he trailed a pair of wings, magnificent even in cramped quarters. When he spoke, he spoke only to her: “Do not be afraid, Suzanne, because your prayer has been heard! You will bear you a son with your husband Zachary, and you shall name him John.”

She took her hands away from her eyes and looked at the angel properly for the first time. Suzanne felt very self-conscious of her hair, her bare feet, the broken strap on her dress.
“Wait, what?” she said.
“And you will have joy and gladness,” the angel continued, “and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.” He paused, looking down at the specks of sick that dotted the cubicle. The angel shuffled his pale, glowing feet atop the cistern. “Ahem. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.”
“E-Excuse me?” Suzanne continued to squint at the white light that seemed to pour from every part of the angel, his glorious wings, his china-white skin, his flowing robes at odds with the chipped tiles, graffiti-strewn partitions and stained toilet. “What's...what's happening?”
“He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

The thumping bass outside the bathroom shook the cubicle walls. The angel stood silently, perched atop the toilet, calm and still. Suzanne remained sat on the floor, trying to calculate how many drinks she had had that night, and if this had been the strangest part of it so far. Slowly, she stood, steadying herself on the door. “That...that doesn't make any sense,” she said, her lips dry. “How would that happen? Me and Zack, we tried, and now...”
And the angel said to her in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.” Suzanne opened her mouth to speak, and he continued: “But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”

Something burned through her gullet and Suzanne got ready to leap towards the toilet again, but nothing came. The light flickered and when she looked up, the angel was gone. She slowly collected her things and flushed the toilet once more.
“Christ, what were you doing in there?” asked the young blonde who was waiting outside the cubicle. Suzanne brushed past her, out of the bathroom and then out of the club.

She pulled her phone out of her bag: three missed calls and two texts. Zack asking where she was, if she was coming back, making promises about what they could do. Luke asking why she had left in such a hurry and telling her to come back to him.

Her hand was frozen above the screen. Slowly, she let her hand drop to her chest. She stared at it, and then at the phone, her face illuminated in the dark of the street, silent.

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment





Fallen Rib

Just over FOUR HOURS remain to submit!

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Concessions - 1196w

Donna and Henry stood in front of two empty stadium seats, high in the bleachers amidst a roaring ballgame crowd, wings folded and PDAs in hand. A father and a little girl climbed up towards them; the father sipped a beer and the girl hugged a catcher’s mitt. Donna poked Henry and pointed. “Code three-twenty-four’s a daddy-daughter bonding incident, right?”

Henry nodded and closed his personal-deliverance-assistant. “Ready, rookie?”

The father and daughter walked through the two angels and sat in the empty seats. The father set his beer down by his feet and smiled at his daughter. “Now, honey, what are you going to do if there’s a home run?”

The girl giggled and held the mitt open with both hands. “Catch it!”

“But you’ll drop it, sweetie. If the man hits the ball, give the glove to daddy and then we can play catch with our new ball.”

The girl pouted. “Okay.”

Henry patted Donna on the shoulder. “Seems clear-cut to me.”

“I’m not following.”

“The Chief’ll send a fly ball right here.” He opened his PDA, thumbed it. “That little girl catches it, one thing leads to another, she grows up to be the first lady-commissioner of baseball.” He snapped the device closed. “Do this enough, and His plan is easy to read, rookie.”

“I have a name, detective.”

“Okay, Donna, walk me through what you’d do.”

Donna shielded her eyes, stared at the field. “First idea, we lift the little girl up and—“

Henry snapped his fingers. “Stop. Too obvious, and she won’t believe she caught it herself.” He sighed. “If we do everything for them, they won’t learn anything.”

“We curve the ball so the girl catches it.”

“Wrong again. She’ll see that too. Give up?”

Donna rolled her eyes. “What would you do, detective?”

“If you wanna find a good solution, you gotta take in the details.” Henry smirked and pointed at the dad’s beer, perched beside the man’s feet. “At the crack of the bat, tip the cup over. Trust me, when you’ve been doing this as long as I have, it’ll be obvious.”

Crack! A homer zoomed towards the stands. Donna hesitated, then leaned through the father and nudged his drink. Beer sloshed down the stepped stadium floor. The man swore and grabbed for his cup. The little girl looked at her dad, at the ball, and held the glove open and the ball slapped into the mitt’s palm and she fell backwards, squealing.

The father spun around. “Honey, are you okay? Oh sweetie, nicely done!”

Henry grinned at Donna and held up his PDA. “Saved. Told ya, rookie.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

The two angels faded through the jubilant crowd and walked towards the exit. Donna thumbed at her PDA.

Henry glanced at her. “What’cha up to?”

“Nothing.” She slipped it into a pocket. “Checking where the next incident is.”

“And?” Henry’s phone buzzed. He flicked it open. “Henry.”

“You somewhere private?” asked the lieutenant. “You screwed the pooch again.”

“Hold on. Donna, you go ahead, I’ll catch up.” He phased through a wall into a bathroom stall.

A uniformed cop sat on the pot, phone in hand. “I’m off-shift in a moment, honey. Can you pick me up outside at the front gate?”

Henry ignored the man. “What d’you mean? That was a fine intervention.”

“I’m still getting complaints,” said the lieutenant. “Donna requested a new partner.”

“C’mon, Donna and I are a great team.”

“Then why’d she just put in for a transfer? This is the third rookie you’ve chased away. If she doesn’t rescind this by day’s end, you’ll be guarding apples.” The line cut out.

Henry swore and checked his PDA for his next assignment. Twenty-thirteen slash fifteen, murder and theft, down at the ticket counter. Henry spread his wings, flew out through Anaheim Stadium’s walls and landed on the street beside Donna.

Beside them, two ski-masked men huddled around the ticket counter. One had a gun stuck down the his jeans. Sunlight glinted off bulletproof glass and, behind it, a pimply ticket salesman emptied a till into a garbage bag. Donna was peering into the men’s pockets.

“Jesus Christ,” said Henry. “Rook— Donna, don’t do anything sudden.”

“I got this one, Henry. Or should I run it by you first?”

Henry hesitated, then stood back. “All yours.”

The first robber, shivering, drew his pistol and shoved barrel against glass. “Hurry up!”

The other smacked Pistol upside the head. “Be cool! You wanna be Blood family, you don’t do anything I don’t tell you. Now keep an eye out.”

Pistol backed away from the counter and, gun raised, looked around the parking lot. He shuddered and muttered, “Shoulda listened to my aunt and went to med school.”

A cop rounded the corner, stopped and ducked against a wall. “L.A.P.D., drop your weapons!”

Pistol jumped and his gun fired. A bullet pinged off concrete. The officer drew a taser, stepped out and aimed. Donna waved a hand. Blinding light reflected off the teller window into Pistol’s eyes. He shrieked, fell backwards, and his gun fired again. The officer toppled, leg gushing blood, and sirens blared in the distance.

“poo poo, new kid, you hosed this one hard.” The other robber sprinted away.

Henry bent over the cop. “Donna, what in heaven’s name were you thinking? We’re not supposed make people shoot each other.”

Donna, white-faced, covered her mouth. “Sorry, Henry, I thought if he couldn’t see—“

“Doesn’t matter. We don’t save that perp, he’s going down to the hot town.“ He flipped open his PDA, dialed. “Get me the Chief. No, I don’t care if He’s busy, this is an emergency! We screwed up an intervention, and He needs to snap His fingers and patch this poo poo up. He’s gotta give us a second chance, or we’re gonna lose a soul.” He paused. “I see.” He tossed the device away. “poo poo.”

Pistol had dropped his gun and was staring down at the cop, face screwed up. “poo poo, I’m sorry, man. I didn’t mean - I was just tryna scare you, dude.” He glanced over his shoulder, bit his lip. “Goddamn fuckin’ prison, man!” The sirens drew nearer. Pistol took a step away from the bleeding cop.

Donna raised a hand and Henry grabbed it. “What’s your wise idea this time?”

She pushed him away. “He’s gonna run in two seconds. What’re you gonna do, whisper ‘thou shalt not kill’ in his ear? I checked the details, Henry. Trust me.”

He let go.

Donna reached into Pistol’s pocket, tapped his wallet and it fell to the ground. Photos, cash and cards scattered. Pistol swore, crouched and shuffled his stuff into a pile. A shaft of sunlight fell on a faded Red Cross certification and a photograph of an old lady.

Pistol stopped, looked at the photo of his aunt, at the officer, at the card. He crossed himself, tore off his shirt and pressed it against the officer’s wound. “You’re gonna be okay, man. I got you.”

Henry glanced at Donna. She held up her PDA: Saved. He smiled and extended a hand. “Nice one, partner.” She shook it.

ZorajitZorajit
Sep 15, 2013

No static at all...

Burning Bright
1,138 Words

A star burned at the end of the cigarette. Hydrogen fused into helium into heavier elements into a slag of iron plasma. Something like tobacco singed and smoldered and something like smoke blew out through the dark. An ember fell and a coronal mass exploded, burning away the fledgling atmosphere of an orbiting world.

The fingers held the cigarette unsteadily. They drew it back to the lips, which paused to consider before taking a short drag. Hot smoke bloomed; full of inspiration and a hailstorm of chemical life, disassembled. The finger flicked the butt and the Oort cloud tore away to fly into the void.

“I’m supposed to guard them.”

A muddy pool bubbled as a geyser erupted. The hurricanes split the sky with lightning as they whorled. A bolt drew a drunken line of ions up from the mud and down from the clouds. A singular moment, the very last one never to be remembered. In the mud, a strand of twisted acid stuck together, stuck to another and copied itself. The reaction sped up, the mud sloughed into the sea. It sank, sticking and copying and spreading. It shaped into bubbles in the sea.

At the bottom, the reaction clung to a vent. In total darkness, the world’s womb split and nursed the life on seething carbon.

“I thought entropy was supposed to break things down.”

The cigarette was nearly half burned now. In the bar, others puffed. Clusters of sparkling coals topped off hookahs. Thick stogies, a dozen times the size of the cigarette, smoldered sternly. Not one patron could remember the last time the Bartender had said a word. The Bartender just poured the drinks.

A nebula of whisky spilled over the lips. The nebula painted the night sky of the world with a streak of red-gold, near enough to be seen by the first set of eyes to crawl back onto the land. The muck stuck to her fins, and she drew a breath, surprised to feel comfortable. She crawled up the beach. Crawled under a plant that was like seaweed but at its top was no floating sac mooring it to the ceiling of the sea. A ceiling that now, seemed so easy to breach. She shoveled mud with her fins to make a burrow. Looking up at that streak of ichor in the sky, she opened herself. Her eggs spilled into the mud, then she coughed out a breath and died for them.

Other patrons contemplated their orders. They listened to the music playing, iit had played since drinks immemorial. There wasn’t anything before that steady hiss of modulated static. That sense of time was only for the Bartender to understand. For the patrons in the bar, it could only be approached, divided by half and then by half again. Forever getting closer to the beginning but never reaching it.

Laser shone out from the jukebox in tune with the music. They drew lines and shapes around the bar. Charged photons to create art, light which did not illuminate but illustrate. The light vibrated much faster than other waves. Faster than the frenetic dancers. Far removed from the infrared, the waves could pierce through smoke and sheer barriers.

That light extinguished life on the world. Nothing understood. Nothing expected it. A torrent of gamma rays hurled forth from some pulsar at the other end of the universe, where the galaxies spun with violent avarice and black holes consumed greedily and what they discarded fled with all the speed and terror due it. Gamma rays fled that terrible maw without regard for where they went, only that they should be away. And the world, small and blue and just now beginning to think burned away when they arrived.

“Something always survives. They cannot be quelled.”

Life came back up from the sea. Different this time. Hardened. In bare eons, the life had conquered its world, and reached the endless deserts within its endless land bordered by its endless sea. The life flourished. The sun churned. The smoke drew into the lips through the cigarette and blew away again and thoughts came.

They thought of themselves as a family. Their leader kept them safe from harm, their mother showed them where to dig for roots with horn and tusk and where to drink water when the days grew long. They sang songs because it made them feel closer. Sometimes the young one thought about scattering seeds along the river, and then coming back later to eat the grasses that would grow. Could the river be drawn out to make more good places to eat grasses?

Never mind. Evening came much too early. A second sun blazed through the sky and then everything was on fire. The young one nuzzled its mother as it died.

“It is not my place to ask why. It is not my place to ask why.”

They poured the contents of the jug into hollowed gourds. It smelled of hops and honey. They ate onions and ground makeup to shield themselves from the sun. When the day came, the masters came with whips. They stacked stones and praised God.

Here, they had reached the bottom of the world. Though they did not know it, if they could go any farther past the jagged cliffs, they would reach a frozen continent, but there could be no home there. This was the end of the world.

Atoms split. A city vanished. This was the end of the world.

“They’re so small. Don’t they understand how useless this is? They could have such joyous lives but all they choose to do? is unleash new horrors and tortures. It is not my place to ask why. Protect them. They are praising God.”

The sign said so. It clearly delineated that the man holding it was blessed by God. He drove the sign into the man that was not, and God saved the sign. Red guts spilled onto the floor. A decade later, the man holding the sign was a joke. The survivors of that day proved it to a courthouse that did not have God’s words scrivened on its door.

“They always survive. Now they want to spread past their world. They fear that they have consumed it.”

The angel looked to the Bartender, who was lighting another patron’s cigarette.

The cigarette inched closer to the butt. The lips took a long drag.

“That’s all for it then.”

The cigarette tipped down, rushed toward the sand at the bottom of the ash tray. The world spun, unknowing. The star would blink out, it would not survive. Nothing else to hurt.

The patron stopped, rested the cigarette on the lip of the tray. It burned low now, it would extinguish itself when it reached the end. The angel got up, and walked away.

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment





Fallen Rib

THREE HOURS REMAIN, HURRY THE gently caress UP

Paladinus
Jan 11, 2014





Angel of Light
(660 words)


The last thing Michael could remember was his humble room and a crucifix above his bed. Then there was darkness. For a moment Michael felt abandoned by God, remorseful even for the life he spent serving Him. Only the bright light shining through the dark returned him confidence and gave him sense of direction. In front of him was an angel and Michael thought he knew the being.

‘Hello, old friend! That’s it for me then, eh?’ said Michael with relief and added with haste, ‘I was ready, by the way. I was eagerly awaiting for this day to come, to tell you the truth.’

‘I know the truth, Michael. That’s why you see me now,’ answered the angel in calm voice and a faint smile crossed his lips. ‘Now, follow me.’

It took some time for Michael to get used to moving again. It felt like he was going forward, but at the same it was the only thing he could perceive. Was he walking, flying, crawling and how fast he moved through this illuminating whiteness – he couldn’t tell. Michael was awestruck by the mystery of spiritual motion, so grand and unconceivable it seemed. To keep his mind off it he decided to do something more trivial and talk to the angel.

‘It was you, though, wasn’t it? You are him. I remember your every visit since the first time we met.’

Although Michael was now far behind, he could hear every word of the angel, as if the sound was coming from every direction.

‘Yes, Michael. It was the day of your daughter’s wedding.’ Something had changed in the angel’s usual composed tone. Michael took it for fondness of the memory.

‘If you can even call it that,’ uttered back Michael. ‘”Civil marriage”? A mockery of matrimony perpetuated by state! Luckily, you came and helped me see the real meaning of all this.’

Michael tried to catch up with the angel to see his face again, but the angel kept the distance.

‘No need to thank anyone, Michael. I only came to you because you were of the right mind.’

Michael knew the angel was right. Long before the fateful day Michael already despised vanity of the world and people who enjoyed it. When he stopped conforming to this world’s pattern to live a secluded life of prayer and angelic visions, it was easy. He had no real friends, he felt no obligation to support his daughter betrothed to an unbeliever, or to support anyone inside the world for that matter. All so-called ‘works of mercy’ never did anything to bring a person out of the world’s sin; not through mercy of others did Michael get where he was.

While Michael was contemplating on the angel’s words, there was no sound. To break this oppressive silence he asked the angel, ‘What’s happened to my daughter, anyway? I kept her transgressions out of my life, but I guess there’s no harm in it now.’

‘Do you remember the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Michael?’ The angel was now far away and his wings only moved faster,

‘Do you mean I’m on my way to Purgatory?’ asked Michael, dumbfounded.

‘There’s no need for that, no. Think chapter 7, verse 16. Turns out a wife can save a husband.’ The angel’s voice turned into many different voices. Some spoke with sadness, some spoke with anger, yet most spoke with scorn. ‘You, Michael, on the other hand, couldn’t save even yourself.’

Shocked, Michael tried to say the Lord’s Prayer, but couldn’t find the words. It was as though the whole notion of language changed leaving no possibility for expressing divine presence. Michael once again gazed upon the angel’s figure in a distance only to see it dissolving into the purest light.

‘Your kind say that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, but I am Bringer of Light. The light that blinds you, the light that will burn your soul forever.’

Maultaschen
Jan 19, 2004



In the Wind (1184 words)

At some point in the night, an owl crashed through the kitchen bay windows. None of us heard it.

The next morning, after discovering the mess, Anna and I cleaned up the glass and put a tarp over the window. I dug a small hole for the owl outside, next to the ivy in the back yard. Cameron gave a six-year-old's eulogy. "I wish he had seen our window, and I hope before that he ate a lot of mice."

Anna took Cameron back inside to get ready, and I filled the grave.

We took him to school together that morning. As we pulled away, she said, “So what the hell?”

“Um.”

“We slept through a window breaking.”

I looked out the window. "Owls are pretty silent, I guess.”

“Doesn’t this worry you? What if that had been a burglar? What if someone actually came in after the owl, while we were asleep?”

I considered that for a moment. “We didn’t wake up when a creature came crashing through glass, so yeah, we probably won’t wake up if a brick goes through it.”

“Thanks for that.”

Just before we turned into our neighborhood, we passed a house with a tarp weighted on the roof, shimmering in the wind.

“poo poo,” said Anna. "We've got to fix that window.”

---

I called out for the morning and stayed home to wait for the repairmen. There were a few feathers still scattered around the kitchen, cast in blue from the sunlight filtering through the covered window. I cleaned up the feathers in a hurry, not wanting to be in there any longer than I had to, and sat on the porch where I couldn’t see the tarp. I sat and listened to music to drown out the sound of it in the breeze. Flap flap flap.

The window guys were late. “Hey man, I’m sorry about the time, got a lot of calls today.” the driver said as he walked up. He nodded at the tarp. “So, busted window, huh? Kid playing in the house?”

“An owl crashed through it last night,” I said. “Well. I say crashed, but. I guess we only found it this morning.”

“Hell of a thing to sleep through. Well! We’ll have that fixed up in an hour.”

They finished early, leaving in a confused rush. They left the stickers on the glass, but I just made a note to take them off later. I threw myself in the car and drove off, forgetting my lunch on the kitchen counter.

---

I picked Cameron up from after-school that evening. "Hey bud!"

"Hey."

"How was school?"

"Okay."

He didn't say anything else until after we passed the house with the tarp on its roof.

"Dad?"

"Yeah?"

"Was, um, have you ever seen an angel?" he asked

"No, bud, I haven't." I looked at him in the rearview mirror. "Why?"

"Well, Shanna said an angel visited her last night."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. She said that it told her that her mom wants to see her again."

"Is her mom gone?"

"Uh huh. Shanna says that her grandma told her that her mom left."

"Um, how did she go away?"

"Her grandma told her that she went to Georgia with her boyfriend. But the angel told her that she didn't want to leave!"

I was thinking about how to respond when Cameron continued. "Dad?"

"Yeah?"

"Shanna says the angel was owls."

"Do, uh, do you mean an owl? Just one?"

"No, owls! It was three owls outside her window, and it talked to her."

"How did they talk to her, bud?"

"I don't know!" he said. "It's an angel!"

---

“Did Cameron say anything to you about angels?” Anna asked me later that night, after we had put him to bed.

“Yeah. He told me something about a girl in his class, and talking to owls. Who were angels, I think.” I cocked my head. “Why?”

“I think he told me the same story. But you know what he asked first?”

“No.”

“‘If an angel dies, does that mean that something good won’t happen?’”

---

That night I awoke to crashing glass. I tore myself out of bed and ran down the hallway. As I crossed the living room, bare-handed and naked to my underwear, I saw broken glass twinkling on the kitchen floor. I stopped on the carpet just before the threshold, looked around, and reached over to turn on the light.

The window was unbroken. The floor was clean. Just outside the window, brought to life by the kitchen lights flooding outside, two black eyes stared at me from a heart-shaped white face. I stared back. A year or ten seconds later, the face turned away, and silent wings carried it beyond the glass. I gazed into the empty window for much longer before finally turning to go back to bed.

Anna hadn’t stirred.

---

It was my turn to take Cameron to school the next morning. As we walked to the car, I looked up into the trees. Cameron saw me looking around, and said “What?” His face lit up. “Did you hear an angel?”

I turned back and said, “No. Just some birds.”

The air in the car was stifling, so I rolled the windows down as I pulled away from the school. The radio was off and I lost myself in thought. They weren’t coherent thoughts. Just the memory, or the dream, of the owl flying off into the night. The glass disappearing from the tile floor as soon as the lights came on.

Flap flap flap.

I snapped to, and found myself speeding past the house with the tarp on its roof. I was going too fast to make the turn into our neighborhood. I braked and pulled onto the shoulder, rocks pinging off the undercarriage.

Sitting in the car, I listened.

Flap flap flap.

In the mirror, I saw that one of the corners of the tarp had come unweighted and was pounding the roof of the house. That tarp had been there for weeks. I didn’t know the owner.

The driveway was empty, and the windows on the near side of the house, under the tarp, were boarded.

I got out of the car, paused, and walked with unknown purpose toward the house through the empty lot next door. The wind picked up, and the tarp was fighting now, about to fly off. Thud! Thud! Thud!

The wind died and the tarp settled back onto the roof, nothing left for the struggle. The thudding kept going, steady and urgent. That wasn’t a tarp. There was another sound underneath it, something muffled.

I ran up to one of the boarded windows. The thudding was just on the other side. I pulled at a board, felt it release and found myself on the ground. I pulled myself back up and peered into the space I had made.

Two brown eyes stared at me, wide and trembling. Her mouth was covered with tape, and her hair was wild. The wind picked back up.

Flap flap flap.

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Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


The Chronicle of Clifford Johnson Part 6: Black on Blaq Crime
1200 Words

The flimsy door to the cargo hold might as well have been made from pressed cracker crumbs when it met the angry boot of Clifford Johnson. Particle board splinters were still falling like the cocaine dust riding the air when he stormed the room. He drew his magnum, a gleaming silver affair that he bought down in Mexico with the name “Manuel” carved on its barrel, and eyed the running drug cutters. He lined his sights against a woman wearing torn and disheveled clothing. In the seconds Clifford saw her face, he noticed a large bruise covering her eye. She was here by force, he knew, so instead he ultimately turned his gun on an overweight bald man running down the corridor. Momentarily, he was back in Detroit, back in uniform, walking that thin blue line. Pulling the trigger was easy.

He wrapped his big hands around the fat man’s neck. “Where’s Blaqface?” he demanded.

“You shot my loving foot!” the man shouted.

“And you’re bleeding on mine. Want to lose the other one?” Clifford asked.

Clifford began interrogating one-foot. The old container ship was huge, and Blaqface could be hidden anywhere, if he wasn’t running away outright like the coward he was. The fat man developed a thousand-yard stare, and for a moment, Clifford thought he might have killed another one. No, this wasn’t the look of a death mask falling upon chubby cheeks. This was the look of a revelation, of relief, of salvation.

With a mighty swing of his biceps, Clifford yanked the fat man in a crescent and drew Manuel, turning face to face with the dripping oily secretions of Blaqface himself.

Clifford held the man like a shield and shouted, “freeze motherfucker!”

“Well, well, well,” he began, “if it isn’t my old partner, big Clifford Johnson.” His suit was all black, but even against the midnight fabric, his inky face drippings stood out like oil slicks against tarmac. “You know, Cliff, isn’t it enough that you ruined my life? Isn’t it enough that your recklessness caused me to die in that factory? Leave me alone.”

“You didn’t die in that factory, Tyler,” Clifford said, sliding his shades down the bridge of his nose. He locked eyes with the monster.

“Tyler White is dead Clifford,” Blaqface said, lifting his pistol, “soon you’ll be with him.”

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

But before Blaqface had even cocked the hammer on his sidearm, Clifford had unloaded five rounds into his tar soaked face.

Bang!

But each of Clifford’s five crumpled shells were only pockmarks against the dripping tar. Blaqface removed them as he approached the body; the single shot he fired went clean through, a killing blow.

***

“Clifford, wake up.”

Clifford opened his eyes and saw the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen leaning over him, skin like chocolate, hair like silk, body like drat.

“I must be dead,” he said, “because you are an angel.”

“You are,” she nodded.

“And are you?”

She nodded again.

“So this is heaven?” he asked, sitting up. Clifford brushed the grass under his hands. He was in a field.

“No, you aren’t in heaven,” the woman said, “not yet at least. This is the middling ground. You know it as the Garden of Eden.”

She reached out to him, offering a hand to help him up. Clifford took it, and held on longer than he needed.

“Mr. Johnson,” she asked, “are you still feeling weak?”

“Baby, you have no idea. What do you say that you and I find a bush and make some original sin ourselves?”

Angel led Clifford behind a wide oak tree and pushed him against the bark. She was close enough that he could smell her apricot perfume. Was it even perfume? He wondered. She leaned into him. Clifford pursed his lips while Angel caressed his cheek. She turned his head, whispering in a singsong alto, “There’s no time; he’s looking for you.”

“Who?” He asked.

“We’ve got to send you back.”

She pulled him to a nearby river bank. “This is way over my authority, but I overheard him talking, and he said he is going to keep you here, Clifford. You are needed amongst the living.”

“Who is going to keep me?”

He watched from the other side of the river before calling to them, “Me.” Clifford looked to the other bank; he was wearing white, blood stained robes.

“I am disappointed in you, Beatrice,” he said, stepping onto the glass-like waters. “You are one of my disciples,” he walked towards her, “you are supposed to trust me.”

“My lord,” she said, “I do.”

He brushed a long dreadlock out of his face. “You don’t, my dear.” He lifted his thorny crown. “I wear this crown,” he flashed his palms, “I bear these wounds.” He was next to them now. “Take my hands.”

Beatrice took his gentle left, Clifford took his right; “I’m a big fan of your work,” he added.

“As am I of yours,” the man replied. “Which is why I am going to send you back to kill that honky son of a bitch.”

“My man,” Clifford smiled.

“But my lord, the plan I overheard,” Beatrice began.

“It was all part of the plan, my dear.”

He held their hands with a gentle and locked grip, neither Clifford nor Beatrice could move. The waters began to stir rapidly, and soon they were ripping and tearing away the bank under their four feet. Still they couldn’t move. He held their hands until they slipped into the waters below.

***

He woke up to splinters dancing on the air. He was in a wooden container, and someone was tearing into it with a hammer. Nimble fingers pried off the top. The woman with the black eye looked in.

“Clifford?” She asked in a grizzled contralto.

“Beatrice?”

She nodded.

A voice echoed in the steel hull. “Someone get the boss, Shae’s lost her drat mind! She’s trying to break him out!”

Clifford let Beatrice take the lead as they ran down the winding corridors. The guards were close behind, but Beatrice, or was it Shae, knew where Blaqface was. She took him to the bridge. Before they entered he grabbed her by the throat. The office door yielded as easily as the one before.

“Don’t move, Blaqface,” Clifford demanded, holding the Beatrice like a shield.

“You?” He asked “You must be the god damned devil.”

“I just have friends in high places.”

Blaqface inched his way towards his gun on the counter beside him.

“Don’t think about it,” Clifford said, cocking back the hammer of his magnum.

“You’re out, remember?” Blaqface said with a flash of his rotting teeth.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

The bullets went straight through. Clifford leered over the aerated head of his former partner, avoiding the seeping tar pooling from his wounds.

He holstered the weapon. Jesus, its inscription read. Clifford wrapped Beatrice in his thick arms.

“Want to get out of here?” She asked with a kiss.

He nodded.

“Sorry about Eden,” Clifford added. “Sorry about getting you in trouble with the big guy.”

“Honey,” she said, grabbing his junk, “you’re the only big guy I need.”

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