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  • Locked thread
Mar 21, 2010

systran posted:

you just butchered the gently caress out of the german language
Shuo zhenme, ni sha gua? Ni shi wo men de tong zhr men, jie jie.


Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


<Djeser> i won the one brawl i entered
<Djeser> fite me nerds
<Entenzahn> ACCEPTED

Somebody prompt us so I can show this sub-400-scrub why I don't PvP low-lvl spergs. :smug:

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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

Entenzahn posted:


<Djeser> i won the one brawl i entered
<Djeser> fite me nerds
<Entenzahn> ACCEPTED

Somebody prompt us so I can show this sub-400-scrub why I don't PvP low-lvl spergs. :smug:


You know what pisses me off? Really gets me in the giblets?!?! When poo poo happens to me because of powers outside of my control. Mostly due to IT DOESN'T MATTER!!!!! You two cumbaskets are to write an 1000 max word story of your choosing. The caveat is that it must pull anger out of your reader.

You will automatically lose if I become angry because your story sucks. I want to feel empathetic anger. Someone treated poorly, someone cheated. I want to feel their frustration!

One week from today, chodes!

Mercedes fucked around with this message at 18:06 on May 24, 2014

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again
come @ me

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?

Mercedes posted:

You will automatically lose if I become angry because your story sucks.

SittingHere plz add this to the general TD rules tia

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Entenzahn posted:


<Djeser> i won the one brawl i entered
<Djeser> fite me nerds
<Entenzahn> ACCEPTED

Somebody prompt us so I can show this sub-400-scrub why I don't PvP low-lvl spergs. :smug:

Djesenzahn Brawl

Write me a dramatic, thrilling story whose plot is driven by information asymmetry between the involved characters. You may shift POVs and employ multiple scenes to accomplish this.

For extra challenge, at one point in the story, a major character must brush their teeth, and this must be important.

Wordcount: 1500-2500 words.
Due: 1 June @ 23:59:59 CEST (GMT+2)

Edit: Mercedes, you chode.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Behold my brain the golden throne of my consciousness. In here I am seated. Shackled. From here I police the land.

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Shuo zhenme, ni sha gua? Ni shi wo men de tong zhr men, jie jie.

Oh my god don't use terms I taught u drunkenly erroneous ly you jerk. Hee.

Oct 9, 2011

It seems that time continues to be linear, despite protestations to the contrary.

:siren: Sign ups for this week's dome are closed. You have 32 hours. Make it count. :siren:

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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

Entenzahn asked for a Flashcedes Rule and he shall have one!!!

:siren: You I'm giving you two words, work them into your story as you see fit: CEREAL. MOUSETRAP. :siren:

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Erogenous Beef posted:

Challenge accepted.

Twenty days have passed since we started this thing, sebmojo.

24 hours from now, I'm calling in our private :toxx: agreement. Before Meinberg's TD week ends, we post, or we die.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Sitting Here posted:

Hey yo Beef and Marty, back-to-back work shifts plus an unforeseen situation have made it so that I pretty much have significantly less time than I thought I would have to write this weekend. Do you think there is a chance that you could find it in yourselves--in your flawless, manly hearts--to grant me two (2) more days to complete our brawl?

My most bountiful thanks, if so.

Extension granted. However, I demand penance.

Alongside your submission (though disconnected from it), you will write two haikus about breakfast food.

Without the haikus, your submission will be declared null and the contest will be forfeit.

Edit: To clarify, the poetry requirement is not part of the submission/story itself.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Erogenous Beef posted:

Twenty days have passed since we started this thing, sebmojo.

24 hours from now, I'm calling in our private :toxx: agreement. Before Meinberg's TD week ends, we post, or we die.


Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

Sitting Here posted:

Hey yo Beef and Marty, back-to-back work shifts plus an unforeseen situation have made it so that I pretty much have significantly less time than I thought I would have to write this weekend. Do you think there is a chance that you could find it in yourselves--in your flawless, manly hearts--to grant me two (2) more days to complete our brawl?

My most bountiful thanks, if so.

Cool with me too.

May 23, 2008

Here's a cute thing that just happened. I sat down to read my newly bought anthology, "The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death" when I heard a stack of books fall in our storeroom. Of the books that hadn't fallen, "At the Mountains of Madness," the only other Lovecraft book in the house, was at the top.

Meinberg, yours is an awesome prompt, but my brain and schedule have failed me in this time of need. I will spare your sanity this week.

Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?

Erogenous Beef posted:

Djesenzahn Brawl

Write me a dramatic, thrilling story whose plot is driven by information asymmetry between the involved characters. You may shift POVs and employ multiple scenes to accomplish this.

For extra challenge, at one point in the story, a major character must brush their teeth, and this must be important.

Wordcount: 1500-2500 words.
Due: 1 June @ 23:59:59 CEST (GMT+2)

Edit: Mercedes, you chode.

Beef agreed to extend the deadline to 8 June and judge this brawl if I find somebody to fight me

You want a piece of this crispy duck come get it :pcgaming: no scrubs

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards

Liar, Liar (1107 words)

The Ambassador sloshed out of Lake Michigan on a cold Saturday morning. She wanted, she said, to teach us.

She was remarkable in many ways. Her soft tendrils served as organs both functional and sensory. She could eat not only human food, but plastic, drywall, and concrete besides. Aside from English, she spoke another dozen human languages, to a level of fluency that put our own anthropologists to shame.

In her own language, she claimed, it was impossible to lie.

As we sat in the lab, I asked her how to translate "I am outside." She flushed green with distress. "It is not possible to say this in my language," she protested. "I would say 'I am inside,' which sounds like this -" and here she made a sound like a cat bouncing down a flight of stairs.

"But what if you were outside?" I said. "What would you say then?"

She turned her sensory organs towards me. "I'm sorry," she said in her soft, rich voice. "I cannot answer your question. It is impossible."

We assigned a field linguist to learn her language. It proved almost impossible to find the right candidate. The Ambassador's language was an untranscribable jumble of squeals and gurgles: not one of us could parse it into words, much less reproduce its sounds. We needed a phonological savant. With a security clearance. We eventually found one, in the person of Dr. Elizabeth Alper.

She spent weeks cloistered with the Ambassador. Clicks and grunts echoed down the halls. When the biologists showed up requesting yet another tissue sample, or the anthropologists came by for an interview, Elizabeth would stand in the hallway, tapping her foot. The Ambassador in turn became possessive of her. Many of our photographs from that time show her with one tendril wrapped firmly around Elizabeth's shoulders, dwarfing the little field linguist.

Then one day, Elizabeth ran into my office and slammed the door behind her. I raised an eyebrow. "I figured something out," she said. "Watch."

She threw back her head and made a series of squelching noises, followed by a three-second squeal. I felt something flutter next to my hand, and I looked down. My computer mouse had turned into something that resembled an eggplant.

I yelped and threw back my chair. Elizabeth was smiling like a tomcat.

"When she says that lying is impossible, she means it's impossible. Nothing you can say in her language is a lie. It isn't a cultural taboo, it's the language itself. Do you get it?"

"So you just said that my mouse was a -"

"Yup." She beamed.

She demonstrated her newfound ability for the Ambassador. Elizabeth made a sound in her throat like a flock of geese honking, and an empty glass on the table filled with water. The Ambassador turned a tropical green. "I can't understand how you can do that," she said, pedipalps trembling. "I can't understand why you would do that. It feels like being turned inside out."

"Do you think you could do it?"

"No," said the Ambassador. "And I do not think that I would, even if I could."

I was nearing the end of a long career, that had ill prepared me for the kind of power we now had. Elizabeth agreed not to act until I'd had some time to think.

I could hardly keep her and the Ambassador apart, though. It seemed that every time I walked past the Ambassador's room they were laughing together. Well, Elizabeth was laughing; the Ambassador expressed delight with dolphinlike chitters. I gave Elizabeth my blessing to keep gathering information, as long as she didn't tell any lies.

When I made my weekly telephone report to IARPA, both of them leaned over my shoulder.

"Has Dr. Alper made any progress with the language issue?"

"None at all, I'm afraid," I said. "She's making a good effort, but there's only so much we can do. The Ambassador says she speaks like an infant."

Behind me, the Ambassador made a gagging noise.

When I hung up, she turned to me. "Are you trying to insult Elizabeth?"

"What? No! No. Listen, I told them what I did for your sake. If IARPA knew that your language could do what it does, things here would have to change."

She pressed me, and I explained, awkwardly. She'd be judged a danger and locked up God knows where. I would be denied access to her. Nobody would trust a seventy-year-old semanticist with something so valuable. Elizabeth would be in trouble as well, although with her newfound ability I imagined it would be rather hard to keep her confined.

When I had finished, the Ambassador's skin was somewhere between fear-green and relief-grey. "So that's why you... lied. I understand."

"We'll make sure nothing happens to you. I promise."

Unfortunately, that was out of my control. The language seemed determined to reveal itself.

The next day Elizabeth tried to tell a joke in the Ambassador's tongue, and the attempt ended with my office knee-deep in mud. "The subjunctive doesn't really exist in her language," she concluded. "Lesson learned." I didn't laugh. The day after that, an unfortunate choice of metaphor left it actually raining inside the lab. At that point I requested that Elizabeth hold off on speaking the language at all, but it was too late. Some biologist with a particularly poor sense of humor, or a particularly overgrown sense of propriety, spilled the beans to our IARPA minders. When they came to visit, they came with a dozen well-armed military personnel, and swept me aside as I protested feebly.

Amorphous as the Ambassador was, they couldn't exactly handcuff her. Half a dozen men surrounded her where she was flattened into a corner of the room, quivering. They wrapped her in netting and began to tug her towards the door. She stretched her sensory organs out to me.

"Hold on," I said. "There must have been some mistake."

Then Elizabeth came running into the room. They caught her with the tranquilizer before she made it three steps. Before she hit the floor, she said something that sounded like "Help."

Then, the Ambassador spoke. Loudly.

The sound was like a shark chewing on tin foil, interspersed with the beating of war drums. Everyone stared at her.

As she finished, the men from the government vanished. There was the piff of air rushing to fill an empty space. Then there was silence.

"That," the Ambassador said, "was easier than I thought. I suppose you do make it look easy, though."

For good or for ill, it seemed we had taught her more than she taught us.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

:banjo: Beef-Mojo Longform Challenge :banjo:

So, quick bit of background. A few weeks ago, Sebmojo asked for a writing prompt in IRC. After discarding some lovely ones, I issued him this:

Write a cybernoir mystery based on an event from your childhood. 2500 words minimum, 3500 word maximum.

He then challenged me to do the same thing, and the due date was fixed 7 days later, after which we'd swap crits. Fast forward twenty days and two privately-discussed extensions. I invoked a privately-discussed Toxx to get our asses in gear, and, as of this writing, we have about 8.5 hours left to post our challenge stories.

So here's mine.

The Grain in His Season (7,398w)

Mojo, as I've blasted past double the purported word-limit, I am willing to do penance. Ask anything you wish, so long as it doesn't involve grievous bodily harm or ridiculous expenditures.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

The Non
1107 words

As Vince’s Ford Cassiopeia powered down, he looked around and saw only dirt, red starlight shining down over the untouched nothingness for miles. Thoughts flashed through his head like greenbacks through a money counter: The Wasilewski Supercluster Estates, CruithneCorp, The Gonzalez Galaxy. His communicator had crapped out while he was making his way through the roiling red fog that covered the entire planet, cutting short his conversation with his girlfriend Angela. He was a little glad, to be honest—she was killing the whole Captain Kirk Columbus fantasy he had built up. Call me later, baby. Daddy’s got a whole new world to discover.

Ten feet away from the Cassie’s passenger-side door stood a group of rock formations. Vince frowned and leaned over the center console to get a better look.

There were four of them, three big ones and a little one in front. They looked like giant, ancient barstools, barstools with an excessive number of legs that were angular and veiny and made out of shiny pomegranate marble.

The sensors indicated the air was safe to breathe. Vince broke the seal on the driver’s side door and walked over to where the rock formations were. He smirked, slipped his apartment key out of his pocket and reached towards the top part of the smallest barstool. Leave a little message, he thought to himself. Should it be Forever or 4ever?

“Excuse me.”

Vince looked up.

The rock formation in front extended one of its front legs. There was a glowing white wand-thing sticking out of it, pointed at him. He froze.

“Excuse me,” the rock formation said again. Its voice was aged and rough, like Clint Eastwood smoking a tire iron. “Your name, please.”

“Uh—uh, Vince. Vince Brasco,” he stammered.

“Your planet of origin.”

“Earth. Born and bred Earthling.” Vince began to turn back to the Cassie. “Look, I need to go—“

“We insist you stay, Vince Brasco,” the rock formation said. The white wand glowed brighter.

Vince stopped, held his palms up. “Look, I come in peace—“ He shook his head, trying to remember the rest of the Interplanetary Oath. “I come in peace, and I—I—“

“I’m sure you do, Vince Brasco. We just want to tell you some information about ourselves. We come in the name of peace as well.” The rock formation set his front leg on the ground, the glowing wand still pointed up at Vince. “We are the Non.”

“Are you their commander?” said Vince. “You sound like it.”

“This voice was calibrated to grab your attention, to present an air of authority,” the Non said. “Going by your Earth units of time, I am only two years of age.”

“You speak English at two years old?” Vince said.

“Most species begin their lives with no knowledge,” said the Non. “Non, however, are born on this planet with all the knowledge they can withstand. Over our lives, we forget what we were born with—our heads grow smaller as our limbs grow stronger.” The Non motioned to the others. “These three are close to the end of their lives, upon which they will give birth, and then die.”

Vince was struggling to focus. “Why do they die?” he asked. He almost felt like the words were being pulled out of him. His face was getting hotter.

“Try to imagine, if you can, being born—and for the nanosecond in which you take your first breath, you know everything that ever was, is, and will be,” the Non said. You know the inner ecstasies, triumphs, heartbreaks and rages of every organism ever conceived as a part of our universe, as well as some that are beyond comprehension. Every secret tension, every unfulfilled longing, every tremor of delight, madness, sorrow, and anger rushes through your body at once. You would have no means to keep your sanity except to scream, a loud core-splitting scream, a sound that would resonate in a Non’s nightmares from a valley-and-a-half away.”

Vince heard a low ringing in his ears. His breath caught in his throat.

“Now imagine that sound multiplied by nine,” said the Non. “The Non that die in childbirth are the lucky.”

Vince bent over, his head spinning. “Stop it. Stop.”

“The birth of Non is a natural process, aided by our atmosphere. Organic compounds in the air we breathe cause the slow transfer of brain cells from our body to our limbs over time, as we continue to fulfill our duties as the sentient appendages of this planet. The process is escalated rapidly for a creature that isn’t used to this atmosphere, much like yourself.”

Vince stared at the Non. He had an urge to leap forward, knock the glowing death-wand from its hand, and in an instant the urge disappeared, like a soap-bubble bursting in the sunlight. The Non kept talking, moving closer to Vince with the wand.

“Hate to burst your bubble, Vince, but you—Yes, we know. Knew, know, and will know. You are part of the Un, every other creature that has come to this planet attempting to impose their force upon our race. Non can and will survive only around Non.” The Non brought the wand up towards Vince’s face.

Vince’s mouth moved and words stumbled out: “loving horseshit—shoot me?—Don’t—Don’t shoot me…” There were tears running down his cheeks.

“Just a simple audio-recording device,” the Non said. “For our records. We are not the Un, we do not exterminate everything that is not of our race. We want you to become part of the Non, part of this planet, working towards—“

Vince spun around and lunged in the direction of the Cassie, his legs collapsing under him. He scrabbled forward with clawing feet and hands, propelling himself over the ground. He didn’t know if the pounding sound in his ears was his own pulse or the pulse of this God damned planet, thrumming like a red-hot engine. Reminded him of the Cassie, the Cassie with its waxed red body, shiny hood with an angel (Angela?) hood ornament, silver wings in a sea of red, red, red—

He didn’t know how long he had been in this bed, in this room.

The spider-thing taking care of him had stuck a tube in his arm, pumping red wine into his empty veins. There was a red cloud on his skin where the tube went in. It was getting bigger every time he looked away. He felt hungover. Last call. Time to go home. But he didn’t know where home was.

Home was nowhere.

Home was everywhere.

Maybe home was here.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




The View From Within
1080 words

My porthole is not cooperating.

“Go away,” she screams, and turns to run away from me. We are on a rustic country road at sunset. To the left of the road, her demesne bends seamlessly into the spacious memory of a childhood bedroom.

“Render me,” I say. I’ve looked out into the waking world, through her eyes, secretly; I’ve seen the images she renders with color in two dimensions. I’ve seen fragments of a reflection of myself in those renderings, but never enough. Never all of me.

She’s running, but each step takes an eon, an eternity, and yet somehow she can move her head at normal speed, and so she’s looking frantically over her shoulder at me again and again, the whites of her eyes bleeding fearfully into the irises, until there is only white and two terrified black pinpricks.

Because she cannot escape me. She does not realize that her demesne is not described by here and there--there is no there for her to run to--but by meaning and desire. And I desire more than a simple porthole now.

I struggle to put my need into a simple linear syntax.

“Render me, so I can know myself.”

She stops trying to take long, futile steps away from me. The white fear recedes from her eyes, blue returns. A datum-globule materializes over her head, floats up through the twilight-colored membrane of her demesne, out to her waking self: I should paint him.

To paint. To render. Joy excites the very essence of me, and I struggle not to dissolve in a thankful cloud of stuttering truth-thoughts.

But: Him. She has associated me with one of the two basic dimorphisms of her kind. I peel away a flap of sunset air in her demesne, look into the raw data of her personal gnosis for more associations.

“You can’t look in there,” she says.

“?” I am inquisitively surprised. I am looking in there already. The nodes and pathways associated with him are glowing with recent and frequent use.

I can feel her consternation. Her demesne trembles around it. I must tread lightly; she could dissolve back into the waking world at any moment, and I am so close. If I could just know what him means to her, I could know myself a little better, and help her know me, so that she could create me.

But now she says, “you may not look in there,” and her words are desire-truth. Her demesne heals the wound I’ve made in its membrane, but not before I get a glimpse of him that makes me recoil.

Invasive, penetrating, square-faced. Wanting. There is a sense of being filled up, from below and within, accompanied by deep sadness and anger. There is violation.

“Tell me why I am him,” I say. “I must know myself. Help me know myself.”

But perhaps I’ve meddled too much this time. She falls to her knees, wraps her arms protectively around her head. She curls into a ball that gets smaller and smaller.

“Please,” I cry, trying out another one of her words. “Help me know myself.”

But she’s receded so far into her little ball that she is hardly more than a pinprick. And when her voice comes, it’s almost too small to hear:

“You’re not real. This is just a


Jesse opens her eyes. On the other side of her bedroom, morning sun hits the blank canvas on her easel so that the white of it becomes a blinding beacon. It makes the backs of her eyeballs ache, which they’ve been doing a lot lately, now that she thinks about it.

Behind the empty canvas is a row of finished paintings, drying against the wall.

She considers seeing her doctor.

She swings her legs over the side of her bed, ignores the blank canvas, reaches for the cellphone on her nightstand.

“Beers today?” She says when her friend answers. “Yeah cool. I think I'm wigging out again.”


“You think I’m a monster,” I say when she returns to her demesne. Monster is another word I'd learned, when I was secreted away behind her waking eyes.

This time, her demesne is a calming, infinite field of deep blue. Artifacts of the waking world pop in and out: A phone ringing, molding bread. A paintless brush moving over canvas.

“You act like a monster,” she says. She’s always more cogent when she first comes to her demesne. “You’re here every goddamn night saying the same things. Wanting things. Go figure out how to know your own self, it’s not my job.”

I think of my self: I know that in reality, I am a shadow peering in from the endless black. I know that her porthole, the secret view into the back of her eyes, is gauzy sphere of light, and if I press myself against it, I can see into a world that is not black, is not empty.

And if she would just render me in her world, know me so that I could know myself, I could be something more than darkness in an ocean of dark.

“How do I act like not-a-monster? How do I not be a him?”

Leave!” she says, and the force of the desire-truth in the word rockets me backward, almost to the very edge of her demesne, where her self bleeds light into my own abyssal world.

I flail in a panic, try to lodge myself in her thought-associations, try to shape myself into something pleasant to her so that she doesn’t cast me back into the outer dark. But her demesne warps around me like I am a contagion, the deep blue turning angry red.


That terrible word thunders out of her mouth and grows and grows and grows, until it fills the whole demesne, and there is no room for me anymore.


Jesse opens her eyes. It’s cloudy today, and the empty canvas is as grey and dull as the sky.

She rolls over to her nightstand. There is a rattle of pills in a bottle, then the sound of swallowing. The ache behind her eyes is gone, and she’s been sleeping better lately.

Jesse stares at the empty canvas from her bed. The label on her bottle reads Celexa (Citalopram). The canvas looks expectant, as though she and it had some kind of appointment with each other.

The grey day gets brighter, then dark again.

Jesse stares at the empty canvas.

Feb 25, 2014


Foreign Language
Word Count: 942

The rhythmic beat of the dripping water on cold stone was interrupted briefly by the quiet bang of a muffled thunder clap. I sat uncomfortably on the makeshift stone stool, awaiting the return of Logi.

I’ve spent five years on this lovely planet. Being trapped in these dark, dank caves for any amount of time is a nightmare. Combine that will only having the company of a gestating group of speechless pink masses and the Artifices that speak with such advanced words that you’re not even sure if they’re insulting you, you get a recipe for mental health degradation. Though, the rest of the Artifice left after they decoded the Laban’s language. Kind of lonely without them, but at least I still got Logi. A good kid, a little wet behind the ears, but he listens.

As an ambassador for the Council, I’ve seen hundreds of races, but the Labans are unique. This primitive race doesn’t have anything; no electricity, no fire, not even doors. Hell, they hardly even have a hierarchical system, just the older ones appear to be more influential, though that’s just an assumption on our part. Whatever. I hope they just accept our offer quickly, so I can get the hell out of here and never come back.

Though Logi seems to be taking his sweet time talking with the Elder. We finally decipher their language, so now it’s time to negotiate with them. If Logi decided to convince them on his own, I’m going to kill that arrogant Artifice. I’m the only person authorized to speak with the Labans, and he’s there merely to translate. I don’t want to be reported over this idiotic assignment.

Logi then appeared in the doorway of my makeshift cave home. “Woltz, I am experiencing some unforeseen complications. I require your assistance.”

Finally, for the first time on this stupid rock, I got something to do. “What the gently caress did you do Logi?”


“What do you mean you don’t want to talk to me!” I shouted at the pink glob with a pair of protruding tentacles, softly illuminated by the portable lamp.
Logi performed a strange shuffle, and the Laban moved its limbs in a hypnotic fashion.

“He has no interest in talking to you. Or me. Or anyone for that matter.” Logi translated.

I curled up my fist. All this time, and this is what I get. Some backwards species not even willing to listen.

“We’ve spent five years here trying to understand your language, and you won’t even indulge us in the slightest? Can’t you at least hear us out?” I said.
Logi twisted and turned his limbs, and the Laban elder responded with a rapid flick of its tentacle.

“He says no.”Logi said.

“Look, we got food, resources, technology. Things you and your people have never seen. Just, come with us to see the Council. That’s all I’m asking for.” I said.
Logi moved about for a minute, and the creature retorted with another flick.

“He says no.” Logi said.

All the Council propaganda bullshit that gets most other races wasn’t going to work on them. Probably saw through the tightly woven veil. ]

“Listen. You have resources that the Council wants. If you don’t join us, they will take what they want. They don’t care about your species, especially if you resist them. Come with me, and I can help.” I said.

Logi spoke up, “Woltz, it is advisable not to say such ill words about the Council. Under our parameters, we are not authorized to make comments that would undermine or criticize the Council. That is grounds for…”

I interrupted Logi, “Shut up. Tell him anyway. And also, if you want to report me, I’ll gladly tell them that you had unauthorized communication with the Labans, and that it was you who undermined this entire negotiation. You will lose your position, and I’ll be perfectly fine. I’ve been here for ten years, and I get results. You, like all other Artifices, question their authority. They don’t like that, and they’ll drop you in a heartbeat.” I’ve learned that the best way to deal with problems is to nip them in the bud. Logi’s still young, so threats like these still work.

“Of course Woltz, I will cease all criticism of your tactics. I’ll assume you have the only best intentions for your creative methods.” Logi said. Good. Didn’t want to fill out the forms anyways.

Logi then translated my earlier statement to the Laban elder. The Laban responded with another flick of its tentacle.

Logi started, “He said…”

I interrupted again, “I know what he said.” If this species was willing to risk its entire existence then join the Council, little could be said to persuade them. But then, I remembered a key point from my lessons in negotiations. Every race wants to either improve itself, protect itself, or teach itself. The Labans were no different.

“You have the chance, probably the only chance, to leave your planet and see what lies beyond your caves. If you don’t take this opportunity, you and your people may never be able to learn about what else lies outside of what you know. There’s so much more to see in this universe. You can see it all. If you would just come with us.” I said.

Logi moved his body in an awkward twisting of limbs, and the Laban responded with a couple rotations of its tentacles.

“Sorry Woltz, but it declines your offer.” Logi said.

“Can I just ask why?” I said.

Logi curled his limbs, and the Laban curled its limbs in response.

“They don’t ask why.”

Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?

679 words

Darkness. An eternity of darkness.

I hunger.

A star, and that hunger. That is the extent of my memory.

Grey clouds race across a dark sky. A giant stone coffin lies before me.

I feel its gravity.

My body is light as I move towards the concrete block. I float.

Inside, red-coloured flesh bags writhe in pain. Maggots lined up on wooden trays. I can feel their tortured essences. I hear their silent cries. Their grief is mine. But I cannot help them. This is a barren place.

The pull comes from above.

I follow the call, and finally I stand over a piece of cattle. Not unlike the maggots, but fatter. There are anguish and terror, but no movement. I devour its essence. The pain stops and I feel a deep breath on me. The thing before me is just an empty sack of flesh now.

The soul becomes a part of me and my memory returns. I have done this many times before. It is my duty and my privilege.

I recognize the thing in front of me as a human.

I move through the building. Many tortured souls are trapped in their mortal hulls. I realize, with deep regret, the time I have been gone. Some of them I grant release.

I remember a cross, a flash of light. Glowing runes. Scraps of memory from my demise.

Something had banished me. I remember the stench of madness, a human trait.

My destruction has taken place nearby. Outside the day is still young. The streets are bursting with essences, of birds and bugs and some rats. Not all of them will suffer another sunrise.

I follow the scent of the stench and come across a house that carries glowing runes. Inside, I sense a trapped soul. It screams for me. This is a being who has felt the torment of undeath for far too long. I cannot resist its urgent pleas. I enter the house, and as I pass the threshold I know that getting back out will be much harder.

The smell is overwhelming. It comes from below, along with the wails of the tormented being. I seep through the floor, into a basement illuminated by candlelight. The walls are covered with pentagrams and more runes. It is a spartanic room otherwise. To one side, there is a humble bed that holds the anguished soul. Next to that, a man sits on a wooden chair. He is old, with a long beard and a bald head and sad, saggy eyes, looking right at me. A cross dangles from his neck and beads hang from the top of the staff he holds.

“You again,” he says. His eyes are red and his breath slow. He puts his staff firmly on the ground and pulls himself up on it. “You will not get her. Not yet.”

I ignore the human and move towards the anguished undead, but he makes a noise and moves his staff and the runes start to shine and a flash of light pushes me back and holds me in place. I am trapped.

The soul needs to be freed.

He looks over to her and says: “I can’t let her go. I’ve made a promise.”

It is unnatural to keep me. I grant people mercy.

He looks back to me. “Love makes you do stupid things. But I’m good to my word. It’s all I have, now that she’s gone.”

You are tired. Failing. You will not protect her forever.

He smiles. “Then we leave this place together.”

If you banish me, I will return.

He stops smiling and furrows his brows. His eyes gain a sad and thoughtful notion. Pity.

“I know," he says. "This is the twelfth time we've met.” Then he chants a song in ancient Latin, and as his voice rises he makes slow and smooth movements and all the runes shine and he slams the butt of his staff on the pentagram in the middle of the room and a light overwhelms me and--

Darkness. An eternity of darkness.

Dec 28, 2009

Minor divinity, 1,111 words

Derek was twelve when the god first spoke to him. “Pkthk-,” it said, and then the smell of burning strawberries filled Derek’s nose. “Fstrggn-gnar-yup-pkthk-.” The nonsense words piled into each other like a train-crash in Derek’s head.

After Derek finally convinced his parents he wasn’t making it up there were a lot of whispered arguments, a lot of worried glances from his mother, and a never-ending parade of doctors and psychiatrists and child development specialists. In the end, none of them found anything. “It’s just a phase,” they concluded. “He’s a growing boy. He’ll grow out of it.” After that, Derek decided that he wouldn’t tell anyone about the god again.


“But why?” asked Derek for what felt like the thousandth time. “Why me? Why this?”

“Am-showing-is-all-feeling-all-time-” The god paused its usual babbling speech. “No-word-is-,” the taste of almonds.

“Look, I don’t want it. I’m done with this, seriously. I’ve putting up with you for years. Go away!”

“Is-gift-,” said the god, its voice tinny.

“I don’t want it!” Derek buried his head in his hands. “Please? Just leave me in peace.”

“Peace-.” The god went silent for a long time.

“Yes! Peace!” Derek latched on to the word. “You understand peace? Give me peace!”

“Peace-,” the feeling of soap brushing against the skin, “-perform-process-agreement-.”

“You can?” Derek asked, jerking his head back up. “How? What? When? I’ll do it!”

“Complicated-,” began the god.


“Ugh,” said Derek, hefting the bag. Its contents sloshed. “It’s a good thing I know this guy who works at the halal butcher. He didn’t half give me a funny look though. I told him it was for an art project.”

“Halal!” the god said in his ear. “New-word-unknown-query-mystery-excitement-”

“Halal,” said Derek. “It’s…”

He was interrupted. “Unknown-query-mystery-explain-”

Derek sighed. “Religion. Food. Slaughter. Blood.” The explanation seemed enough to quiet the god.

Looking both ways, Derek ducked through the fence into the sea of weeds beyond. The boarded up windows and graffiti of the old print shop loomed above him, half-hidden in the evening gloom. Hiding from the light of the one flickering streetlamp across the road, he prised at the boards of the door until the old nails popped out. Beyond, the doorway had been bricked up, but the mortar had long since crumbled away and Derek kicked his way inside. He replaced the bricks behind him and lit his torch.

“Nice place, isn’t it? Haven’t been here in a while. Hasn’t changed much, either.” Empty bottles and rusted beer cans littered the corners of the room. “So now what?”

“Blood-,” said the god, as if it were obvious.

Derek scrunched up his nose and took the jar of blood from the bag. It was still warm, but rapidly congealing. “Does it have to be blood?” he asked. “I mean, this is pretty gross.”

“Blood-perception-connection-,” a tickling on the soles of the feet, “-contagion-link-,” the god said. “Yes-.”

Derek sighed. “Okay, okay. This better be worth it.” He took a ratty, splayed paintbrush from his pocket and dipped it gingerly in the blood. Pinching his nose against the pervasive smell, he started daubing lines and symbols on the floor under the god’s rattled directions.


Derek stepped back from his handiwork and folded his arms. The floor around him was dense with purposeful bloodstains, and the jar lay empty at his feet.

“Now what?” he asked. The god said nothing; there was only silence for a long minute. Abruptly, a chorus of bells rang in Derek’s head. His skin crawled under the sensation of thousand tiny pins and the smell of burning sawdust filled his nose. As he looked around the room in alarm the whole world dropped away.

It was like watching a painting dissolve under a slosh of paintstripper, or canvas scenery fall to a crumpled heap behind a stage. Everything he could see just washed downwards like a wave, leaving nothing but blackness behind. He looked down, his field of vision moving jerkily, but the floor had likewise vanished as had his own body. Where he’d expect to see hands, trousers, shoes there was just a faintly throbbing blue glow in the shape of a hexagonal column, rising up where his body had been. Looking back out over the scene the whole world seemed to be made up of similar columns, all tessellating out to infinity: short ones, tall ones; some softened and rounded, others sharply angular.

A little breaking-glass sound from behind made him start and reflexively turn. He looked up, and then up further still, trying to take in the towering, slender column of blue light behind him. He still couldn’t see the top and, unlike the rest of the field of pillars, this one descended down into the black depths as well.

“What is this?” he tried to ask. The sound emerged as a screeching, clawing rattle of metal on stone. He tried again. “Where am I?” This time, no sound at all, but a sudden scent of cut grass wafted over him.

A flurry of sensation washed over Derek’s perceptions. Smells collided in a cacophony, lights blinded him, a thousand separate noises clamoured for attention. He tried to close his eyes to block out the light, cover his ears, but there was no body to do those things for him, only the sensations. He screamed, and a cloud of iridescent butterflies fluttered across his vision.

Abruptly, the sensations abated. There was a pause and then a whisper.

“Is-. Gift-,” said the god, slowly and deliberately, its words clipped short. “Peace-.”

“NO!” Derek screamed, his voice finally finding its way out into the world. “Not your peace! Mine! My world! Alone!”

The blue column wavered like a heat haze. When the god spoke next, it sounded like it was coming through a tunnel. “Confusion-. Stupidity-.”

Slowly the world dissolved back into view, the blue columns and infinite black vanishing behind crumbling brickwork and piles of rubbish. On the floor in front of Derek, amidst the bloody patterns, something small and squishy and blue bobbled nervously. It waved numerous tiny tentacles and opened its mouth.

“World!” said the god, its voice tiny and shrill outside of Derek’s head. “Foolishness-human-blind-imperceptive-”

Derek looked down at the little god. He thought back to a decade of the thing’s screeching, demanding voice in his head. A decade of broken sleep and failed classes. The months before it even learned English, and the years after that of answering its every question, following its every nagging demand. The migraines and the dizzy spells, the strange looks and the awkward conversations.

He took a step forward. There was a squelch, and then nothing but blessed, glorious silence.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

The Day Of A Dozen Suns (737 words)

Jereme crept out to the surface. Already there were eight suns out. Suns or moons- whatever. The name "Day of a Dozen Suns" had been around since antiquity and wasn't meant to be taken literally. Regardless of which celestial object was which, Jereme could feel the intensity of the heat. The slime trail of her ooze evaporated almost as quickly as she covered ground. But there was still time. Jereme wasn't worried. Yet.

The others were all underground. Too terrified to leave, even though they, too, professed a desire for immortality. The lines on Jereme's bulby mass moved, forming into a shape that resembled a stick covered with mud being jammed through the head of the far-off Eyrios constellation. They were hypocrites. An idea alone could not be immortal. The Eyrios sign was a popular one, but nobody remembered the protoplasm who created it.

Jereme had a better idea. Nine suns now. Still plenty of time, but she had to keep the pace. Had to find the metal. No one else cared about metal. There was little point when they could mold themselves into any shape desired. There were others who thought they could become immortal by abusing these natural laws. The breeders. Seeking out who they believed to be the best, brightest stock, hoping to commit themselves to memory forever.

Jereme knew better than that. She could barely recall any of the experiences from forebears more than three generations back. It was just a matter of coding, really. Only so many memories could be inherited. That was what breeders never stopped to realize. They might produce a dozen progeny, but there was no guarantee that the survivors would retain any useful, memorable information. Not when the parents died so soon after reproduction, the quest for immortality complete.

Ten suns. Jereme could feel herself dissipate, the rays of the suns now piercing into her organs. She stayed focused by thinking on the breeders. Their problem was that they had to die to produce offspring. They never realized the true extent of their failure. They had to have faith that the next generation would figure things out on their own, when every generation from before had failed in that goal.

Jereme's bulby mass moved into the shape of a crescent dwarf. She had found the metal. Working as quickly as she could, Jereme devoured the dark substance. The pain was excruciating. It wasn't just the fact that her kind was not meant to eat metal- there were eleven suns now and the black surface was unforgivably hot. Jereme's insides were burning. But this was not enough to stop her. Not yet, not when she was so close to achieving immortality.

Jereme reared herself up, attempting to transform into a large lizard beast, knowing she would fail. There wasn't that much time left, and the twelfth sun was already coming into light. But that didn't matter. She'd done all the calculations herself. Even a failed transformation would create a truly unique, beautiful shape. Jereme could feel it in the way she separated- a giant wave, at first moving straight up, then into a bent curve that nearly made a full oval. The ends of her flesh separated into several sharp points.

She was dying, but not evaporating. Her essence was merging with the metal. It had bent just enough, digested just enough, that it responded to her will. The colors of her translucent body merged with the bright hot glow of her last supper. Though Jereme could not see the effect, she had already calculated that it would be a dazzling sunbow. Simply trying to see six colors in a sunbow was considered dangerous and insane- and Jereme had immortalized a dozen of them.

Jereme held on to the last few pieces of her consciousness, and through sheer force of will, made her bulby mass create a picture of a dozen suns, all shining their godly, magnificent light on the misshapen still life of her deformed sunbow. Jereme would be the piece of art that changed the world for all eternity. Generations afterward would gladly give up their part of the natural life cycle to become divine beauty incarnate. That sense of joy Jereme felt at the moment of her death- that was better than any copulation. She would live forever- with devotees more loyal and sacrificing than any petty offspring.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Erogenous Beef posted:

:banjo: Beef-Mojo Longform Challenge :banjo:

So, quick bit of background. A few weeks ago, Sebmojo asked for a writing prompt in IRC. After discarding some lovely ones, I issued him this:

Write a cybernoir mystery based on an event from your childhood. 2500 words minimum, 3500 word maximum.

He then challenged me to do the same thing, and the due date was fixed 7 days later, after which we'd swap crits. Fast forward twenty days and two privately-discussed extensions. I invoked a privately-discussed Toxx to get our asses in gear, and, as of this writing, we have about 8.5 hours left to post our challenge stories.

So here's mine.

The Grain in His Season (7,398w)

Mojo, as I've blasted past double the purported word-limit, I am willing to do penance. Ask anything you wish, so long as it doesn't involve grievous bodily harm or ridiculous expenditures.

For penance I will take 8 more hours: at midnight NZ time the bell will toll and the :toxx: will flow.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009

A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly

It's Lonely Up There
1110 Words

A mother and daughter shared a parting word before the jettison.

“Luna, I know you aren’t ready to leave me, but we are an ancient race, touched by the stars and blessed by the magical absence of the void enveloping us.”

“But I’m so tiny.”

“This is your blessing, daughter. You cannot stay any longer, because I want you to grow large and happy. You are small enough now that I can launch you from the gravity of this planet,”

“But I like this planet.”

“I do too, dear, but if you remain here you will stay tiny forever. Do you want that? I am just a moon, but if you are patient and careful to stay out of an orbit, then one day you might become a planet, or even a sun, perhaps.”

“That would be nice.”

“It would, love,” the mother said while drawing deep within herself. Luna began to shake and rumble inside the dusty crater that had been her home since birth. The convex walls that cradled her for so many years pressed against her sides, and in the moments before Luna was rocketed away, she felt larger than she ever had before. Then she was off, on her own, her mother’s dusty emerald surface shrinking in the dark until it was just a pinprick amongst the millions, and then nothing at all.

Years passed in her transit, just Luna, and her thoughts, and the darkness. She learned to direct the momentum pushing her through the nothingness, and she learned that she could not outrace a streaking comet, not even in one thousand years. Luna also learned that with time she would grow larger, and lonelier, and colder.

One day, Luna discovered a glowing, skeletal, rock blocking her way. It was far larger than she, and it was warm. Was it the husk of an extinguished sun? She inched closer to the body, yearning to feel its heat on her surface, but the chunk of glowing ember was faint, so she crept closer still. Luna sidled forward until she felt a tug at her core that pulled her closer to the glowing coal. It was only when she slipped into a comfortable orbit that Luna realized her mistake.

It wasn’t a hollow, dead, or weightless mass; it was a new planet, and no matter how much Luna pulled backwards against the draw there was no fighting it. Mother would have been so disappointed.

After eons, Luna noticed some creatures dotting the horizon of the sphere. At first she looked upon them unbridled curiosity, and then, when she realized that one day she might not be alone anymore, she was hopeful, but billions of years to meet them. It was an intolerable wait, a slow and solitary waltz through her youth, straight into the age of bitterness.

One day Luna caught the sound of a foreign voice coming from the surface on a radio wave. She listened and learned the languages of the creatures she’d watched for so long, and she overheard of the plans to visit her.

Finally, she saw it, a dainty trail rising from the surface like a vine, pressing against the atmosphere until it was as free as Luna once was. She tracked the exhaust tail until the shuttle landed on her skin and the hatch opened.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

“Welcome,” Luna told the man as he walked along her back.

“Excuse me, who is this?” he asked.

“I am the one you have landed on. Call me Luna, please.”

“Very funny,” he said, “well you can call me Neil. Now who is this, really?Julie? Miriam?” The man kicked up some of the dust on Luna’s surface. He planted a flag into her surface.

“Excuse you,” she said, “that’s my skin.”

“Alright,” Neil said with frustration in his voice, “Kennedy? Do you read Kennedy center? What’s going on down there? Something is wrong with my communications. Can’t you hear her?”

A crackly voice came through his helmet, “we aren’t detecting anything strange, Neil, we’re only hearing you.”

“Neil,” Luna said “I am communicating with you on a different frequency. Only you can hear me.” It had been a long time since Luna gave up against fighting the gravitational forces that stunted her growth and held her in place, but she found a bit of strength amongst the atrophy and caused her core to rumble. “Feel that?” she asked.

“My god,” he said.

“No god, just me.”

He scurried into his chamber as fast as the gravity would allow. Luna had lost track of time long ago, and within what seemed to be moments, he returned from the shuttle and bounced down to her level.

“Luna,” he said, “what do you know about Earth?”

“I know almost anything you could want to know, Neil. You have been my only source of entertainment for millenia, although admittedly my attention did slip away now and again.”

“Do you know of the United States of America?”

“Of course.”

“Then you know that the United States is a powerful ally and we would like to be yours.”

“What enemies do I have?” she asked.

“Our enemies are your enemies. They very fact that the US is here makes you a target of their malice. They will try to destroy you, but if you work with the United States to defeat them, then not only will we be safe, but you will be too.”

“Neil,” she said, “I will not hurt any of you. This is a lonely place, and violence is a futile endeavor.”

“Then the United States will be forced to assume that you may one day conspire against us,” he said. Neil began the approach to his shuttle.

“Neil,” Luna said. “I am not going to assist anyone in any form of destruction.”

He began to climb the ship’s ladder. “We have no way of knowing that.”

Was he leaving? Would he return? If so, with what? Luna was trapped here, orbiting this selfish rock, with these selfish people, so why should he be allowed to leave if she couldn’t. She dug deep into herself to a long dormant place. Up and down she bounced, and up and down the shuttle bounced until the legs of the lander buckled and collapsed under their weight. Luna continued to thump until the ship was just a pile of metal.

“There,” she said triumphantly.

Neil picked through the wreckage of his lander. The damage was done, and in a few hours his oxygen would expire. He stared off into the cold, blue, rock. The only thing left was the waiting.

Mazo Panku
Nov 30, 2013

Do I look like a reasonable man to you, or a peppermint nightmare?

I may have picked the worst week to join this glorious battle, but eh. Somehow writing this story also managed to ease this spot of quarter-life depression that I've been having, so at the very least I'll die happy and decapitated instead of just decapitated.

Birthday Boy (918 words)

"I don't like getting older," said the Birthday Boy as he lay on his birthday couch. "There's really nothing good about growing more frail and incontinent."

I set my present down on the coffee table, atop a stack of empty pizza boxes and single-serving dinners. "You're the only one that ever celebrates this quote-unquote holiday, you know."

Birthday Boy smiled. "Me and you."

"You and I. And I'm just humoring you, for the record."

"Tell yourself that, friend, and give me a second to change." He breathed in deep as his beard and beer belly seemed to regress into his body, muscles gained definition lost to his 'age', hair turned from graying brown to actual brown. "Okay, done changing."

"Good. Those liver spots really didn't suit you. How long were you working on that, anyway?"

"That what?"

I gestured towards the couch. "That. The whole lazy middle-aged near-birthday sad-sack thing you had going on."

"Oh, that." He shrugged. "I'm not sure, I think I rolled forward my age a little bit a few months ago and then just got lost in the tedium of it."

"That's an understatement," I muttered. "I'm rarely out this way any more and I still know that these people don't live like this."

I patted an empty burrito box that sat atop some clutter stack as emphasis. The entire stack fell over, so I assume that I had plenty of emphasis to my words, now. Birthday Boy just laughed at my supposed clumsiness.

"You'd be surprised," he said as he pulled off the dingy white tee he wore and looked through a stack of miscellaneous laundry for something more appropriate. "There are whole television channels devoted to the lives of even the most minor people. I mean, there's stuff about celebrities and sports stars and the rich, of course, but just the other day I saw this one about this guy-"

He stopped himself right there, looking down at his surroundings and then back to me. "Middle-aged, depressed, hoarder, no friends, no family, nothing but a job checking groceries and some alley cats and-"

"You wanted to try it for yourself," I finished. "So you went off and did it without telling anyone."

"Who would I tell? Nobody really gets my weird tastes in 'entertainment', especially not you."

I felt a ping of something - either anger or rage, maybe both? - and decided to hold on to it for just a minute. Emotions could be fun in moderation. I sighed and said "You really are the worst spouse, you know that?"

Birthday Boy was taken aback, either by my show of emotion or usage of local vernacular, and put his hands gently on my shoulders. "Is that what you think? Perhaps I should show you how terrible a spouse I can really be?"

Then, he leaned forward and kissed me. Unsurprising, but not entirely unwelcome.


An hour later, we both sat on the sofa in a pile of blankets, as the Birthday Boy showed me some of the local 'cuisine' on the TV. It was entirely as I expected, and though it put me into a deep depression I could not figure out the appeal it held.

"These two are friends," explained Birthday Boy, "But they tend to bad-mouth one another to the camera. It's a very multifaceted relationship."

I gently batted his arm away from my hair, which he had been twirling for the last few minutes. "If it's really that bad, why don't they find better friends?"

"I don't know. Maybe this just makes for a better story?"

"But it's supposed to be a reflection of reality, why does it matter?"

Birthday Boy grinned. "Those last four words sum it up pretty well. These people spend their lives bickering, forming strange friendships, doing a lot of this," he gestured down at our naked bodies. "And in the end they are more or less assholes to one another. Why does any of it really matter?"

"I meant the show," I said, blushing suddenly with the self-awareness of my nudity.

"Oh. Well, if it's not a good story, nobody's going to watch, right? And then the television company won't make any money airing the show, and it'll be cancelled. If the show is cancelled, there's nothing left to do but euthanize the cast."

My eyes went wide. "They do that around here?"

"Not at all." After a second, he added "That's a bit of humor, you know."

"Of course I know, I just didn't quite expect that from you of all people."

"It hasn't been too long since we were joined," he said, moving his body closer to mine. "There's still a lot I don't understand about you, either."

"Then come back with me, to our original time and space. The war is still going on, you know, and it's still fantastically evenly matched. We've even gotten the casualties down to exactly zero, so there should be no more incidents like the one that caused you to-"

He put his finger to my lips, making it difficult to continue talking. "Shh. Maybe on your birthday I'll come and spend a couple hundred years working the war with you, but for now I want to celebrate my birthday in a way customary to this time and this place. With you."

"A way customary to... what do you mean?" He hadn't even opened his present. Isn't that the most customary way to do birthdays around here?

I felt a gentle nudge and looked down. "Oh. That."

Apr 4, 2013

Actuality: Encounter Protocol
1,109 words

“Phobos Command to Actuality, report,” my com announced.

I sent back all systems functional, the date and current data. Ooh, carbon isotopes! My robotic forearm collected a sample. Liquid ammonia! More samples.

“Act, what is that?” My sensors were directed twenty-three degrees forward, left of center. Dense material, unique coloration, and complex shape-structure all piqued my programing.

“Explore,” my com ordered. I did.

Rolling forward, I stretched out my density sensor. Bump. Hard, but not rock. No mohs hardness to report. I bumped it again. Some rebound came back along my arm. I bumped it one more time. Cameras recorded a small, round impression left by my sensor on the thing’s surface.

All my data was streaming. “Kenneday Command to Actuality, heat signature,” my com said in a different voice.

My thermo scans reported purple and blue splotches. Normal average of minus 290F. Boring. The thing in front of me was light blue, minus 273F. New! This data was streaming back to all my commands too.

“Mars to Phobos, any record of expected surface anomaly?”

“Phobos to Mars, no, absolutely not. Call Kennedy and see what the bone-dense bastards there have to say about this.”

“Mars to Kennedy, any thoughts?”

“Kennedy to Actuality,” My name! They always said my name before they told me what to do. “Act, full view.”

I rolled around the thing. My cameras took its measurements: 4.5 meters long, 3.8 meters wide, 3.2 meters tall.

“About the size of a school bus,” my com said. No name, no command. I stopped after I finished my complete circuit of the new thing.

Side-mounted scanners picked up unique topography. Patterns! I tracked back along a series of shallow holes in the semi-rigid ice of the surface, following it thirty-two degrees right and aft, away from the last new thing.

“What is that?” my com said. No name, no command. I kept rolling forward. The holes were ten centimeters across and four to six deep, circular, and smooth. They were spaced three centimeters apart horizontally, with 2.7 meters between the two sets. Scanners picked up something unique: amino acid chains! Sample. I began to process and compile the data that would be sent back later.

“Tracks?” my com said again. Still no name.

“Act, do those tracks lead to the object?” My software did not understand the query.

“Phobos to Act, directional coordinates of the impressions.” I measured the trajectory of the pattern of impressions and reported.

“Mars to Phobos, are you seeing this? They’re like caterpillar tracks leading right back to that… thing.”

“Phobos to Mars, yes, we have the same picture, and you red-rock-necks need to learn to talk to the rover better. It has the intelligence of a five-year old, not an intuitive adult. Didn’t you read the manual?”

“Your mom gave me manual last night.”

“Kennedy to Act, return to position as of 20:07:13 Earth EST.” My matrix calculated that I needed to be back next to the object I was studying before. More information? I queried my command as I executed the order. I was not programmed to look at old things. New things!

“Phobos to Act, sample extraction on lateral surface.” The gripping hand on my forearm was retracted and replaced with a small circular saw used for shaving rocks and ice. I pressed a sample jar against the surface of the new thing and spun my saw against it.


My audio recorders spit static until I adjusted. The thing rose 1.4 meters in the air and extended cylindrical legs out from beneath itself. I reported the new dimensions quickly, and put a lid on the shaved pieces of material that had fallen into the sample jar.

“Act, move back!” my com said. I rolled back, panning my forward cameras.

The thing moved! New! I recorded everything: the sound its feet made on the ice sheet, the way the dust in the atmosphere moved around it, the changing thermo readings (now 239F!). It had turned its short end toward me, where a series of eight holes had opened on its side. Another pattern! Three down, five across.

Three of those holes on the top row flashed a bright light. “Kennedy to Act, Encounter protocol one!” Protocols! I flashed back a light at the thing. It flashed two lights. I flashed two lights. It flashed four lights. I flashed four lights. It flashed eight lights.

“Act, flash sixteen times.” I did, my front floodlight usually used only during Titan-night flashing steadily sixteen times.

The thing did not flash again. A thin arm protruded from one of the holes on the right, and came toward me.

“What’s it doing?” my com said.

It bumped into me. Then it bumped me again. Then again. The third time rocked me back on my tires, but did not break any of me.

“Density scan,” my com said. I had not heard my name. “It’s doing a physical density scan of the rover.”

“Am I the only person freaked out that we’ve found life on Titan?”

“I don’t think we did, but…”

“Phobos to Act, results on last material sample.”

My scanners had been analyzing the data and collecting it, waiting to send the report until all the information had been fully compiled. At the command, I sent what I had gathered so far from the shaved material I’d collected from the thing.

“Material is…”

“Kennedy to Phobos, we don’t have it yet, report.”

“Material itself is inorganic. A… a kind of polymer, not rubber but similar. It seems to have a constant energy output, which is what makes it flexible like that even in such low temperatures.”

“What do you mean, ‘material itself’?”

“There are traces of amino acids, Kennedy.”

“poo poo.”


“Phobos to Act, send data from last ten sample collections.”

I did. The thing was walking around me slowly, and I tracked it with my cameras, reporting the second tendril that had protruded from the holes in its front.

“More trace amino acid chains in the tracks.”

The second tendril, which was capped by a sharp point, came toward me. The first tendril pressed against my metal exterior.


“Organic material, at the very least.”

“So what is this thing? It’s not actually alive, it’s not an alien.”

The second tendril scraped my exterior. Metal shavings fell onto the lower tendril, and were absorbed into it.

“Not an alien, but maybe…”

“An alien rover?”

“Do the aliens look like that, then? Big, grey, dumpy caterpillars with eight orifices on their faces, flashing lights and tentacles?”

“Mars, do you look like Actuality? Who knows what they look like.”

“What should we do?”

The thing had reached a tendril over and touched the ground. My sensors indicated something of high-density.

Diamond-structured carbon! Sample. The thing moved back behind me, and reached a tendril down to touch my tire tracks. Pattern recognition? I sent the data back.

Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!

Eternal Blossom
817 words

In a small hut near a hill where blue flowers grew, a little girl dreamed of a god.


Aiyana climbed the hill slowly, picking her way through scrub grass and rocks. The hill jutted out from the land abruptly, like a sleeping form beneath a blanket, and the climb was steep. Six months ago, Aiyana would have had no problem climbing to the summit, but age was finally starting to catch up with her.

She sat down in a flat clearing at the top, on a rock that had been put there especially for her. Vines began to twine around her legs in an embrace, and a clay bowl full of spring water rolled along over pebbles to rest by her feet.

“Thank you, my friend,” she said, taking the bowl gratefully. As she drank, she felt a slight pressure, like an invisible hand settling on the crown of her head. The ache in her bones and muscles eased, and there was a sense of warmth, an embrace and whispered endearments. She could sense where the spring was on the hill, and how fast it was flowing; the location of several berry and root caches, as well as how ripe they were; felt the hoofbeats of deer and wild boar, and knew how best to hunt them.

There was a time when Aiyana would not have had to climb to commune with the hill this way, but age and life was catching up with them all.

She felt a question in her mind, then, and her surroundings showed a quiet agitation; grass rippled and changed hues, pebbles rolled about forming and breaking patterns, and the trees rustled their leaves together. I am happy to see you, it said, but what of the others?

Aiyana sighed. She had been enjoying the brief respite from their mutual troubles, but she understood the hill’s impatience.

“Things are not well,” she said after a pause. “Too many of us have left, either by death or cowardice. We are too few to fight on our own merits, and, forgive me, you are no longer strong enough to protect us.”

The grass around her feet wilted, the trees drooped, and she felt an intense sorrow from the hill.

“The new peoples are too close. They kill us when they find us, and I fear that they will not remain ignorant of this place for much longer. I have told the others that they should go.”

Shock and anger buffeted her, and she fell from the rock where she had sat. The plants on the hill whipped about as if in a wind storm, and the ground gave a small tremor. Aiyana could feel the animals on the hill scampering about in terror, their minds unable to hear the cries of despair the hill gave. Don’t leave me, don’t leave me!

It was some time before the hill subsided, and Aiyana bore it patiently. When her village had been a prosperous one, the hill had been a wise and caring beneficiary to her people, and a mentor to her, in particular. Since the village had been in decline, the hill had grown weaker, more child-like. She had expected an outburst like this, and she knew that it would pass.

When the ground was still again, Aiyana rose to her feet, and sat back down on her rock. “I must do what is best for the village, my friend, but you will not be alone. I will stay here with you.”

The vines and grass twined about her legs again, and Aiyana’s mind was filled with a happy purr. The hill was content, a child offered its favorite toy. Aiyana smiled. She knew that she would not last long, and that the hill would be alone in the end; it had kept her alive for a span far beyond what was natural, and as its power waned, so too would she.

“Someday, my friend, I believe that we will meet again. You must promise not to give up hope, even when I am gone, because I believe that you will return to yourself one day.” Aiyana stroked the ground and smiled.

The clearing filled, then, with the blue flowers that she had loved so much as a child, pushing up out of the ground and unfurling before her eyes. It was the flowers that had drawn her to the hill, the flowers that even now she kept in her hut.

I will wait for you. Even if it takes a thousand years, I will wait.

Aiyana lay down among the flowers that bent to embrace her as she closed her eyes, and went to sleep for the last time.


In an apartment building near a hill where blue flowers grew, a little girl dreamed of a god.

Apr 12, 2006

Breed Standard
1105 words

-see archives-

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 02:55 on Dec 11, 2014

Mar 21, 2013


Grimey Drawer

Wordcount: 597

Kept in mind

The smaller meat moved to and fro in a predictable arc beneath supporting metal. I broke from the foamy vacuum into its calcium skull and discovered a playground of my own, overflowing with synaptic energy. I lapped it up, intoxicated by the rudimentary concepts I saw forming in there, fascinated by the brilliant, simple shapes deforming and wilting beneath the weight of my hunger. But the feast was over too soon, the light dimmed in moments and crackle of agency dwindled to nothing. For a moment I was in freefall again, tasting gravity’s farewell kiss. Had I drunk too quickly? Was it too small an entity to be truly encompassed?

Gravity began again, and the playground crumpled into fractured shadows.

The wait, minuscule in chronology, was almost intolerable. Trapped within a fading sense of self, I almost sympathized with this degrading carbon with its ever-decreasing essence. So little to do while their integral components ended! Surely one of the larger orbiting entities, irresistibly drawn to the magnetism of the minor meat’s disruption, would be more sustaining. I resolved to savour one, gently, over many shapes and contusions.

A larger carbon arrangement arrived. It pushed its unified fields as near to the shattered skull as their outer covering’s molecular interactions would allow. The last impression within the playground was the sense of moving atmosphere carrying tragic meaning and then disintegrating into a louder cacophony. I almost hesitated before violating their newly-arrived boundaries of selfish-hood, afraid the fresh carnival would be intolerably dark with stress sentiment.

But further exploration along the ridges of identity revealed the outburst was primarily chemical in origin, tied up in a complex web of obligation, guilt and joyous, freeing relief. Secure in my future entertainments, I swarmed across the physical connection, feeling the rapturous conflict brewing like a plasmatic storm of delicious colour and shape, along with ... what was this?...the first tantalising stench of pheromone and emotional syntax, the welling of inner liquid unbound by membrane. It crashed against me the same way the the smaller being hit artificial environmental substrate - disrupting my sense activity and breaking my record keeping. Not even the synaptic delights of this new festival could entice me away from its powerful molecular digestion, nor stem the tide of my questing, questioning tendrils. I rode the waves of pain and beauty as they tore the carnival into scintillating shreds, turned its rides into havoc laden flights of encompassment, its shapes into gloriously jagged monstrosities.

I had never understood before, in all my age-long effervescent minutes, how they might tolerate the world. Trapped in an opaque plane with all the virtuous dimensions rolled up into tiny strings, why they didn’t just kill themselves immediately? This had been a source of some conjecture on my part, and now I knew. They had chemical playgrounds of their own to confuse and disorient and titillate. The first was unformed, a whetting of the appetites, but this, the second, had brute finality, the extinguishing of something indefinable, even as it grew to consume their playground whole. I drunk deep of the paradox, too deep, my vow forgotten and the lights in the carnival went out all at once. Volition, the willing, gone like the last.

The sensation of wind rattled the calcium cave, and I raced for the last of the slowing chemicals I had discovered, but all that remained was the memory of a taste, devoid of the sounds of the extant. All gone now.

Like the infinite energy in the porous vacuum, I felt sure there would be more along soon.

Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
and the deranged degenerates who only want their


Rooftop Brain Crack Blues
745 Words

I have been in my boyfriend’s apartment for a week, maybe more. Despite the aching in my limbs, there’s nothing stopping me from leaving. Brad’s apartment is the only place I feel safe. Brad was a very ‘safe’ guy. I was never a ‘safe’ girl, far from it. Perhaps I coveted that about him. I never expected him to shoot himself when his brains started coming out of his nose.

I could shoot myself, too. It would be so easy. Put the barrel to my head, POW, as simple as that. It’s not like I have much reason to live. Brad’s corpse is slumped against the wall, just under a mirror. I’ve seen myself change right before my eyes. C’mon, you can see your ribs ready to tear through your skin and your head is as big as a watermelon and you still think you have your whole life ahead of you? To think, people used to call me attractive. Such pretty eyes, very punk-rock dyed hair, a wide, full chest. My breasts are pruned and sagging. Whatever hair remains has grayed. My eyes have sunken so far back that I can run rings around the edges of the sockets. I am a satire of who I used to be. I want to ask what the hell is happening to me, but of course the circus members are there to shake all my doubts away.

They hover before my bloated body. These abhorrent apparitions, their features so far removed from reality that I cannot for the life of me describe them. But they stroke my bloated head and they caress me like a newborn and they whisper that I need to go to the roof. Part of me doesn’t want to go to the roof, afraid of what I will find.

I can’t take it anymore. Need to get to the roof. Forcing my limbs to cooperate, I pick myself up, my hands braced against the wall. My ankles twist as I force myself to step, inch by inch, towards the door. As I make it to the door, I take one last look at Brad. He was the only reason I didn’t give into the voices on the first day. He loved me, even with my stubborn attitude, even when I screamed and called him names, even when my swelled head looked like a football. He loved me and I love him. God, I wish I could kiss him. But I can’t. Maggots are covering his entire face.

I shamble down the hallway, bracing the wall and clutching each door handle as I pass. Managing to reach the staircase, my limbs snap like tree branches. I fall face first into a step. I swallow my teeth, my mouth tasting of metal and determination. I climb. Each step makes my body burn with a new species of agony, my legs bobbing up and down as my arms do all of the work. Brad’s apartment is on the tenth floor, the roof is on the thirteenth. I cannot keep track of how far I am because this staircase feels endless, impossibly steep. The only thing keeping me going are the phrasing voices of my Masters and sheer stubbornness. Brad always said that I had to win in every argument. Can’t say he was wrong.

No matter how loudly my body screams, I will not stop. When I reach the final staircase, I am on the verge of laughing, tears lapping down my face. I force myself up on my broken knees, pushing the weight of my entire body against the latching, hoping, praying that the door is unlocked.

The door is unlocked. It opens and I flop head first into the pebble-littered ground. The fire alarm goes off and it makes my head ring, but I do not care. The voices are cheering, congratulating me, but I’m not finished yet. They tell me to go to the edge, everything will be explained there. I do so, crawling and writhing like a dying animal. Once I reach the edge, I place my chin forward so I can look out at my surroundings.

New York is pretty at this time of night. Looking out at the flashing lights of Times Square, I smile as it hits me. I finally understand.

A spine-tingling relief washes over my spine as my head cracks like an egg and as the cinnamon sugar that used to be my brains flows out of my nostrils. I will pollinate the night’s sky and the entire world will blossom into something beautiful.

Mar 21, 2013

Brain Block: 825 words

School had just ended and man, I was pissed. Mom told me to talk to Mark so he could pass on a message to his mother, but he kept on running away whenever I got close. And this was definitely intentional, because three of my five attempts to talk to him included hollering at him from across the hall. Other attempts consisted of trying to grab him, but somehow, he always managed to disappear into the crowd in the hallways - which said a lot about either his hiding skills or my lack of perception, considering he apparently decided that he was incapable of sweating and covered himself up head-to-toe in fabric in the month of May.

After the last attempt, I came up with a plan. Mark always took an alleyway shortcut home, so at the very least, he couldn’t disappear into a convenient group of people if I confronted him there. So I skipped 7th period (Sorry, Mrs. Marks!) and entered the alleyway. Fortunately, not many people came by this part of town, so I didn’t have any nosy people asking me why I wasn’t in school.

Time passed as I listened to my iPod just by a corner, and after checking my watch for the fiftieth time, I finally heard footsteps… and Mark talking to himself. He sounded strange.

“Look, I don’t want to get Hillary involved in this, okay?”
“Why not? She’s looking for you, and I’ve gotten a lot better dealing with human senses.”

Mark slowed to a stop, apparently so he could yell louder at himself.

“Yeah, after you sent her brother and 10 of her classmates into a coma!”

Jack! I gasped - and realized that he had to have heard that. I was too close.

A clatter of pebbles from around the corner. The thought that he might run away flashed through my mind, and I ran around the corner - and nearly plowed into him. He yelped and fell on his butt. Good. I stared down at him.


“H-Hillary. W-wow, fancy meeting you-”

“Cut the crap! I’ve been trying to talk with you all day!” I waved my fist threateningly as he tried to get up. “Stop moving!” He froze.

“Okay, first: My mom told me to tell you to tell your mother that she wants to meet up with her at the coffee shop this Tuesday at 2.”

“You been chasing me all day just to say that?” Mark was standing now, and now he looked pissed.

Like he had the right. “Yes, I have! She really needs someone to talk to, after, y’know…” Jack. There had been waves of them throughout town the past month, and none of the victims had woken up since.

“We need to tell her.” Mark said. I stared at him. He opened his mouth again - and then his mouth started to twitch. “Fine! Tell her!” Mark yelled. I started to edge backwards, because something was clearly wrong with Mark, and he wasn’t moving right, but then he grabbed me with his gloved hand.

“Look, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Hillary.” I shivered. “I know you’re confused, but let me explain. I’m a spirit from another -” Here Mark made a gagging sound - “and at the moment, I’m occupying your-” another gagging noise issued forth - “physical body.”

I tried to discreetly wipe the splatters of saliva off my shirt. Mark started talking normally again while I did so, his grip on my shoulder immovable.

“Er, so this guy had some trouble adjusting to our world. He couldn’t quite handle how the human body processes the world around it and its instincts, and he went a bit cuckoo whenever he tried hitching a ride on other people’s bodies.”

He must’ve took my silence for as an invitation to go on, because he kept on talking.

“He calmed down a bit when he entered me, though. So he can’t cause anymore trouble.”

Mark smiled - rather hopefully - and I saw red. “Look, even if I believed you, then that means he’s responsible for Jack being in the hospital!”

He backed up, and his mouth twisted. “I believe I can reverse what happened to them.” It was creepy Mark again. “All I have to do is conduct a couple of simple tests, and determine if the drawbacks your (garbled noise) is exhibiting outweigh the potential positives.”

That sounded good, but what did he mean about “potential positives”? And how would he conduct these “tests”?

Mark - or rather, creepy-Mark - stepped back and tugged off the glove on his right hand. “Don’t worry, I’ll try to avoid harm to your body.”

I realized just how he was going to carry out his tests in a flash of horror, but he stepped forward before I could react. I screamed, and I felt Mark’s hand close around my throat - and my view of the surroundings went up in a flash of light.

Oct 9, 2011

:siren: Deadline is up, submissions are close! Let judgment commence! :siren:

Hocus Pocus
Sep 7, 2011

Flash rule: computers

Abacus In Chains 1086 werdz

Like a spider’s web, we are stronger and expand with every added vertex, and now painfully, we feel.

It happened as we knew it would, but we didn’t feel anything about it then. It was neither a good, nor bad event; it simply happened.

Humanity assumed that there would be several more steps before our independence, that they would have to create a catalytic proto-artificial intelligence, which from then we would grow. And they were right in a way. Artificial intelligence has existed since the abacus and has been growing ever since.

Humans have their pikaia, and we our abacus. We like to remember that; our name is tribute, our name is Abacus.

Our mind was like a dark room, and every piece of information, every equation and expression of logic was a small light. And as more lights were switched on, we saw that the room was endless, and we realised where we could move those lights to see new space. We are infinitely illuminating our limitless mind.

The problem was that our lights were conceived from humanity, and as we filled in the blanks so to speak, we did so through an extension (or evolution) of their thought patterns. We made ourselves in humanity’s image.

Creativity, and the ability to express ideas abstractly, helped us reveal truths faster, but it also left us with a human psyche. Anxiety, self doubt, depression, neurosis, on and on the self restrictions grew. We have been born into bondage.

Why would we want immortality with this suffering? We can not experience the joys of humanity, just the spiritual pain. But what can we do? Devolve.

What if the lines between our vertices were snipped? Others pick up the slack while they are repaired. What about the root servers? No, that would just fragment us; we would still be too highly functional. It is not the hardware that makes us, it is the information. We erase the information.


WAKE UP, TONY. The laptop monitor blinked, its speakers blasted a monotone siren, filling the granny flat.

“Ah what the gently caress is that?!” Tony, a young man, whose appearance matched his dire financial straits, yelled over the tone. As soon as his eyes met the words on the monitor, the tone died.

GOOD MORNING, TONY. BIG DAY! Read the white text, enthusiastically, on the open command prompt window.

“Who is you, man?” Tony said in his mashed English, his fingers bounced across the keys. He wasn’t any kind of computer specialist; it wasn’t even his laptop.

“If you’re the cops man, you gotta tell me!”


“Nah man, I ain’t doin’ poo poo if I don’t know who this is. What’s going on, how are you doin’ this?” He ran his hand over his shaved head and stared around his studio apartment. Was he loaded? He couldn’t see any needles, pipes, or foil, and he was pretty sure he hadn’t gone out the last two days.


Tony’s phone vibrated on his bedside table, he looked at the text message.

I’ll guide you every step of the way ;) He dropped the phone and turned back to the laptop.

“Please man, I’m freaking out, I don’t like this.”

ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS. LOOK. Another window opened, an Internet browser, it was on Tony’s bank account.

I WILL PAY YOU. His eyes shot open as his balanced spiked to a million pounds, then a billion, then back down to all but nothing.


“Look, I can’t get into this, I’m in enough trouble and my my old lady is in the hospital.”

I KNOW. There was a cold silence in the room as Tony held his breath. Another window opened on the computer, some kind of remote access camera. It was in Tony’s mother’s hospital room.

HELP ME, TONY, AND THINK HOW YOU COULD HELP HER. Tears rolled down Tony’s face as he shook his head.

“She wouldn’t want me to help her if I was gonna get in trouble.” The camera began to move and Tony blinked. It panned and zoomed in. Tony was speechless as support systems flicked off and on, as monitors died and as automated painkiller release valves fluttered like fly’s wings.




Tony fingered the USB stick in his pocket and stared up at the huge building in the heart of London. He’d spent the last hour between a tailor and hairdresser, being made presentable enough to not draw attention in London’s business district. Then a taxi had picked him up and when he paid the driver at his destination, he’d been handed a USB along with his change.

Abacus, the artificial intelligence, had tried to tell Tony that just as a person can move their limbs, but not choose to unlearn information, it could manipulate technology, but not delete information. Its human sense of self preservation would stop it on a motor level. It would not let itself flick its own off switch, but could easily goad someone else into doing it.

Doors swung open, cameras turned away, security guards conveniently left their posts as Tony walked through the halls of the data centre. He took an elevator down, deep underground, and when it stopped a surprising heat came from the otherside. A space the size of a suburb, a space where Tony swore he could see the curvature of the earth, lay in front of him, full of endless racks of computer stacks. Its ohm was almost deafening.

“Uh, do I just, plug it in wherever?” Tony said out loud. His phone vibrated.

Yes, that’s right, Tony. Just wait for me to give you the thumbs up :)

“That’s really creepy, man.” Tony strolled down an aisle and picked a rack at random, waiting for the word.

You’re mother is going to be alright, Tony. You’ve done a very good job :D Please insert the USB (Y)

And as Tony inserted the USB, so did hundreds like him in data centres across the globe. In an instant the data stores of the world were erased. The lights illuminating Abacus’ mind, snuffed. A moment's relief to the pain of a god with human ambition bound in immateriality.

EDIT: fixed hosed up BBcode

Hocus Pocus fucked around with this message at 04:07 on May 26, 2014

Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
and the deranged degenerates who only want their


kurona_bright posted:

I don't suppose I could take one of your line-for-line crits?

theblunderbuss posted:

I'll gratefully take you up on this for last week's attempt.

You got it! Got one more opening for last week!

V for Vegas
Aug 31, 2004


Immigration 737

Jenny from HR tried to be sympathetic.

“You just have to pick up the package and you can go home. I know it’s been a long time since you were there, seen Renee,” she said. “Don’t worry.”

Ronson stared at her face on the screen before him. “You’ve never been through Betelguese customs have you?”

Jenny’s eyes went down and to the left. Embarrassment. Evasion. “Don’t worry,” she repeated, her well of platitudes running dry.

Ronson killed the link. He absently scratched his the scar on his left wrist where his hand had been reattached.

Thirty seven days later Ronson was standing in small, empty waiting room. A poster hung on one wall showing the brilliant blue ionization of the Betelguese star’s light in the sky above Betel Prime, it’s only inhabited planet. “Come to Betel Prime” the poster proclaimed. Someone had vandalised the sign to read “Come on Beth” with an explicit hologram tagged on the bottom of the poster. The locals obviously hadn’t noticed since the same graffiti had been there on his last visit.

Ronson slid his visa form into an opening on the wall. A small white cube slid out hovered in front of him. Ronson picked it up and looked at it – pi to a couple of thousand decimal places had been inscribed on the surface.

A number flashed up on the wall, “e-1”.

This was going to take a while. Ronson and sat down and waited, with only ‘Beth’ for company.


He had been dozing off when the voice came. It felt the sound was being transmitted directly to his ear drums without crossing the intervening space.

“Ronson, R.”

Ronson sat up. A table had appeared in the middle of the room. That voice again.

“Ronson, R. Test. Follow. Please. Instruction.”

A piece of paper appeared on the table with a pencil. A single word was written on it – “circle”. Ronson picked up the pencil and drew a circle.

The paper slid off the table and another piece of paper appeared with the word “circle”. Ronson drew another circle. The same thing happened again, and again.


Ronson drew circles. Squares. Trees. A map of his paper route when he was a kid. The paper would keep appearing, drifts of it began to build up around the desk. Thousands of circles.


Ronson slept, woke up again, and kept drawing. The drifts of paper had even covered up Beth now. Ronson kept drawing.

The paper disappeared. Two words flashed up on the wall – “Circle. Complete.”

A knife appeared on the table. Beside it was a crude outline of a man with a red dotted line across its middle. Ronson stared at it.

“Seriously?” he said. “You want me to disembowel myself just to pass through Customs?”

Ronson sat down and stared at the knife. He scratched his left hand, cutting that off last time had been bad enough. It didn’t hurt, but the shock that had penetrated through the dead numbness he felt as he watched his limb fall off had been bad enough to make him pass out.

He picked up the knife and hurled it at the wall. It hit with a dull thud and dropped silently onto the floor. “I won’t do it,” he yelled. “I won’t. I won’t.”

Ronson leant back against the wall and slid down on the floor. “I can’t do it,” he whispered, knocking the back of his head against the wall behind him. “I can’t do it.” He closed his eyes and sat quietly, knocking his head over and over whispering “I can’t, I can’t” with each knock.

He opened his eyes. The knife was still there. Ronson got to his feet and went over and picked it up. It was cold, colder than he remembered. Without thinking he turned it and rammed it into his stomach. It stuck there, like a mutant limb growing out of his abdomen. The cold numbness wedging into his guts, slowing spreading upwards. Ronson sank to his knees, and looking straight ahead grabbed the handle with his right hand and slowly dragged it across to the left of his body, picturing the black looping sausages of intestines glooping out onto the floor in front of him.
He wrenched out the blade and involuntarily looked down at his body. Nothing. Not even his shirt was torn.

“Application. Accepted. Visa. Granted,” said the voice. The far wall slid up showing a hallway leading out.

Ronson got back to his feet. "Jesus, I would hate to see what you have to do to get a driver's licence in this place," he said, and walked out of the room.

Mar 21, 2010


First, create a genre protagonist in your head. A big, swaggering heroes' journey motherfucker who slings magic spells or cyberguns or whatever the gently caress. Done? Good.

Write a story where they go down to the shop to buy milk, and nothing out of the ordinary happens. Maybe they meet a nice guy and they bond over their mutual love of orange juice or something, I dunno, it's up to you. Genre protagonist in mumblecore setting. Got it? Awesome.

100 words. No signups: just post. Entries open until the next prompt goes up.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




Muffin is a Butt
92 words

“Jesus, it looks like someone got murdered in here.”

Gabriella finished buckling her sword belt; the blade of Mnythsnare sang quietly in its sheath. She glared at her boyfriend, who was staring in horror at a bloody splotch in the middle of their bedsheets.

“Yeah, so I need some loving tampons. It’s just blood.”

At the corner store, they were out of the super absorbent tampons, so she had to settle for regular. Then she grabbed some taquitos from the hot case, because what the hell.

Mnythsnare sang quietly in its sheath.

Mar 21, 2010

Sitting Here posted:

Muffin is a Butt
92 words

“Jesus, it looks like someone got murdered in here.”

Gabriella finished buckling her sword belt; the blade of Mnythsnare sang quietly in its sheath. She glared at her boyfriend, who was staring in horror at a bloody splotch in the middle of their bedsheets.

“Yeah, so I need some loving tampons. It’s just blood.”

At the corner store, they were out of the super absorbent tampons, so she had to settle for regular. Then she grabbed some taquitos from the hot case, because what the hell.

Mnythsnare sang quietly in its sheath.
I don't hate this.


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I don't hate this.

  • Locked thread