A wild ride
"Come on, you rusty piece of crap!"
Mike jumped up, gripping the handle of the wrench as he let his weight come down on the valve. A pained, rusted creak was his reply as he stumbled onto the pipes.
"Did that do it?"
A few footsteps in the stillness from the catwalk above. "Still nothing," a gruff, tired voice replied.
"We better get overtime for this," Mike shot back, pulling the wrench free. "I hate Halloween."
A chuckle from the catwalk. "Trick's on you. Carnivals don't get overtime, kid."
Mike muttered curses under his breath, working the valve open a couple of more turns, a satisfying hiss responding in kind. He cheered, giving it a couple more turns, the hiss soon fading into the back of his mind.
"How about now?"
"Keep your pants on, kid," The older worker said, the deep clack of a breaker box followed by a high-pitched cackle and the whine of servos.
"We've got power," Mike yelled, watching one of the animatronic witches stutter to life, cracked latex reaching out over a railway.
"Let's get out of here, then," The worker said, his footsteps on the catwalk dulled by the sound of a steamy hiss. Mike smiled, turning towards the maintenance exit, a shrill shriek echoing somewhere overhead. And then a skeleton popped out.
|# ¿ Nov 3, 2014 14:30|
|# ¿ Jan 21, 2022 01:42|
I throw my bones into the true crucible of ThunderDome for the first time. It's a mix of trepidation, anticipation, and a clenching of the buttocks.
May whatever Gods remain have mercy on my soul.
|# ¿ Nov 4, 2014 01:16|
So, Thunderdome new meat here. Who do I send my story to once it's ready to go? Do I just post it here with a wordcount, or do I send it in a message?
|# ¿ Nov 8, 2014 22:09|
Then so it shall be.
A New Spring
“Come in, Williams,” The Captain’s voice sparked to life in my helmet. “What’s your situation?”
I closed my eyes as the module shook free of the Zephyr, sending me plummeting down through the void. The straps of my seat pulled tight against the bulky suit, keeping me pinned snugly against the side, my hair floating around my helmet as we cut free from the ship’s gravitational field.
“Green here, sir,” I said. “Habitats are still secure, and our repair job on the hull is keeping the pressure level.”
“We should be green to go, then. You will begin re-entry in one hour and 23 minutes, so you have some time to review before the hard part begins.”
“We’ll see if the repairs hold up once we start dropping,” I said. “At least the atmosphere here is thinner than we originally planned for.”
“Stay calm, go over your checks, and you’ll do fine,” He said, a chirp ending the banter.
Stay calm. Easy to say when you’re not riding in a patchwork entry vehicle designed to drop buildings onto a completely unknown planet.
For all intents and purposes, I shouldn’t have been on this shuttle. Looking at the shining bolts and fresh sealant around the seat’s moorings just pushed it back into my mind that I shouldn’t have been here. Being surrounded by houses folded in on themselves, white, solid blocks with feet, hanging above me, beside me, around me, all reminded me that I was unwelcome.
It was a foolish move, pretty much suicidal. But it was all we had.
“The shuttle can’t make it,”
Marsh Daniels, the towering, tanned Martian who served as our head engineer, stood before a round table with every eye of the Preparation Crew now fixated on him. We could see the sagging in his face, the sweat on his brow, telling of the sleepless nights he had spent down in the hangar, going over the damage.
He coughed, pushing back the silence, and started again. “The impacts tore through everything in the hangar. We’ve been able to patch up the habitation module and the agricultural module, but our planet bound shuttle took too many hits to its cockpit. The outboard cameras and terrain scanners are also shot, so we can’t fix it by plating down the windows, either.”
Whispers began to run around the table. Worries, concerns, doubts, fears, filling the room like a cloud.
The Captain slapped the table, and it stopped. We stared at his grey-streaked mop of hair, unkempt from days of neglect. We saw the bags under his piercing blues. We saw the way his shoulders slumped.
“You said that the habitat module is still mission ready?”
A silent nod.
“Then we have a one-seat ride down to the planet,” He said. “The atmosphere is chemically breathable, but we can’t detect local flora or fauna without a closer look. And if we put the entire ship down, she won’t be able to make it back up.”
I raised my hand.
“I’m going to spare everyone the drama and just nominate myself now, sir.”
His eyebrow perked up. “Interesting. Reasoning?”
“My comms gear was smashed by the impacts, as well. And since what was left went into repairing the jump gate drones and sending out our SOS beacon, that leaves me with no function that can’t be managed by another crew member.”
A few whispers here and there. The Captain nodded.
“Engineering, get the man a seat.”
Check the habs. Check the plates. Check the data. Check it again. Check it one more time.
I went over each inch of tiedown strap, every replacement rivet, every rough scan of the landing zone we could make out through the cloud cover. I couldn't be too careful.
My ear buzzed. “Ten minutes, Williams,” The Captain’s voice called out. “Get strapped in.”
I looked over the map one more time before the visor cleared, making my way back to the seat.
“Confirmed, Strapped in.”
“Connecting air supply to auxiliary tank.”
“Then we'll see you on the ground,” He said, the radio cutting out to static, leaving me alone in that chair, bolted to the wall, surrounded by silence.
The rocking started, pushing through the mesosphere, picking up speed. The habitats strained against their bindings, internal supports making an echoing clack, growing all around me as we fell.
“Firing initial jets,” The voice said, cutting through static. I felt the kick of engines pushing back against gravity, dropping steadily downward, the clattering going soft. I heard the seams of the repair creaking overhead, the steady pop pop pop of heat adding to the clamor.
“Firing secondary jets,” the static relenting enough to hear, letting me brace for the sudden shock of the shuttle's re-fitted jets pushing me against my suit, my stomach turning end-over-end. I gripped at the straps of my seat and screwed my eyes shut.
Only a little more. We were so close.
The panel behind me tore open, daylight shining through the rent, howling winds reaching at my helmet, knocking my head around. Just a little more. Please.
The seat slammed against me at full force as the parachutes deployed, and I shouted in triumph. I shouted at the tear in the panels. I shouted at gravity. I shouted because I was still alive to shout.
We had made it.
“Come in, Williams,” The Captain’s voice sparked to life in my helmet. “What’s your situation?”
Sunlight filtered down from above, the habitat capsule coming undone at the seams like a blossom, the ramps dropping with enough force to shake the ground. I stood there, staring out at the plain, the trees a vibrant indigo color, animals of some unknown species skittering to the woodline.
“We've made planetfall,” I said, hearing the comms channel erupt in celebration. “Permission to remove helmet, sir?”
Silence, then, “Granted.”
My hands shook as they reached for the latch of the helmet, fingers clicking it free, the hiss of air entering the suit making me jump. This was it.
I took a deep breath, and smelled something spicy in the air. Slight traces of burnt grass, here and there. Something that burned my nostrils slightly. I took the helmet off, making sure to breathe deep to account for the thinner atmosphere. But everything I needed to breathe was there.
I stepped off the module, my feet sinking into the earth. I could see traces of a cold season here and there, giving way to a warmer rotation, closer to the red sun above. The alien winter would give way to a new spring on our new home.
I reached back to my helmet, speaking into it. “The winter is gone, sir,”
“Then we'll see you in the springtime,” He said back, the radio going quiet.
I left the helmet there, taking a seat at the end of the habitat ramp, and looked up into a unknown sky as the world, and our species, awoke to a new spring.
|# ¿ Nov 8, 2014 23:04|
Now, the waiting game. Honestly, sort of excited here.
|# ¿ Nov 10, 2014 05:31|
gently caress YOU, ICE!!
It was about the fourth time I fell on my rear end, with a little Korean girl and her mother skating past me with those knowing eyes, trying their best not to laugh or chide, that I finally decided to stop trying to ice-skate.
"Come on!" One of the guys from outside the rink shouted, seeing me waddle towards the gate, feet perched on top of thick metal blades, each step digging into the ice that someone spent hours finishing. I was stepping on someone's masterpiece with machete shoes.
"Don't be a pussy, man!" Another one called, my hands grasping at the wall, pulling myself towards the gate outwards. Just let it be, I told myself.
It took me far too long to reach the exit, knees quaking under the effort to stay upright. I finally made it out. I just had to open the door.
"It's easy, man." One of them said.
"If it's so loving easy, you try it!" I snapped, flipping him off with a bit too much vigor. My hands left the wall.
And that was the fifth time I landed on my rear end. And that little Korean girl and her mom just skated by silently.
|# ¿ Nov 10, 2014 14:22|
In-Depth critique that points out my need to work on dialog and pacing.
Shorter critique that focuses on setting, intro and competence.
Low middle! Honestly a lot better than what I was expecting for my first prompt. Thanks for the critiques.
Also, count me out for this week.
|# ¿ Nov 11, 2014 15:06|
I'll be drinking wine and critting until I fall asleep. Post here if you want me to to do yours, otherwise I'm going chronologically. Most recent week only.
The more crits I get, the better I can be. Please and thank you.
|# ¿ Nov 12, 2014 03:25|
Wow, so, umm...lots of drama going on while I was out. That Cache Cab fella really didn't want to learn, did he?
Thanks for the new crits, Sitting Here and blue squares. I've looked over them slightly, but hopefully I get some time to give them more consideration over the weekend. I have them on a word file on my computer now, so I don't have to dig through pages.
blue squares, I'll give you a crit like you asked, but since I haven't earned an HM yet, I'll send it in PM instead of on here, so I don't violate the 'Dome.
My only comment on my story is this: Don't fall too in love with your idea. That's what I did with this one, and I ended up getting this huge idea in my head, had all these great ideas to build characters, work on the drama of being lost and alone in space, then found out I was nearly a thousand words over my limit and not even close to touching everything. I had to rework it, so a lot of the details I worked on in my head (The broken comms gear, martian settlers, the colony ship) went into the final product with no basis to lean on. That hurt my story a lot, if I look at it now.
That doesn't make up for the other issues it had that everyone pointed out, though. So I have a lot to learn to build up from 'low middle'.
|# ¿ Nov 14, 2014 14:07|
I have great news for both of you, it's not a rule and has never been! Crit away! Go hog wild!
blue squares - Mr. Electroworth's Shovel
The story feels disjointed, like it has a lot of starts and stops, and a lot of extraneous details that don't really add anything to the situation. Also, by combining some of the expressions you have, you can shorten your sentences and allow the ideas to flow more naturally.
For example: I squinted in the bright day, hot, in the height of summer, the sun beating down and sweat starting to drip down the backs of my legs. It felt like little bugs crawling around on me. This could be shortened to: I squinted in the summer sun, sweat rolling down the backs of my legs, crawling like bugs across my skin. You have the same details, the same sensations, but it's more concise and reads smoothly. There are a lot of times you could do this to help pare down your work and give you more 'space' to work with.
As for the idea, I liked it, but it felt like you didn't do enough with it. Describing how he went from environmental sciences to defacing the grand canyon was a good way to chronicle how he'd changed, but it felt like it was tacked on to describe him. Try to add smaller examples leading up to that final push towards complete bastardry.
All in all, a good premise, with some work needed on flow and idea structure.
Also, I'm more used to editing than critique, so this is another thing I have to get used to.
|# ¿ Nov 14, 2014 22:46|
IN before I go to work. This should be some good exercise for me.
|# ¿ Nov 17, 2014 14:19|
Sorry for this, everyone. Not my best work.
A lazy shepherd is a wolf's best friend
“I hope you understand the severity of this allegation, Mr. Smith.”
I clenched my hands together until it hurt. I took deep, steady breaths. I tried to control myself from shouting the obvious in the moron's face.
“I've told you again and again, officer,” I said, trying to keep it civil. My fingers ached. “Mr. Acevedo is the guy who did it.”
“I thought his name was Alvarez, Mr. Smith,” He said back.
Who the gently caress cares what his name was? He's a janitor. His name could be Mr. Shitcleaner, for all I cared.
“It sounds close enough,” I said again. “Look, I didn't talk to the guy, alright? All I'm telling you is that he's the man you're looking for, and the tape is going to show that.”
“We'll see, Mr. Smith,” He said again. I gritted my teeth as he took a seat. “Let's go over it again, just to make sure we have the facts straight.”
Oh, goddamnit. We've been over it twice already, you brain dead rear end in a top hat. I shook my head, took another breath, and started all over again.
It was a Tuesday, right around lunchtime, when I first ran into him.
I had just send up the rough copy of the quarterly profit sheets from our marketing department, finally getting the last of a long line of 'URGENT' papers from last week off my work load. If I kept it up, then I might have enough of a head start to take the entire weekend off
I was heading out the door to grab some lunch with Derek, a friend of mine from upstairs, when the janitor checked me with his cleaning cart. I remember the scent of cleaning fluid and latex gloves, and that dumb, gawking face at the other end, pushing it. I told him to watch it, and he just nodded, and backed away.
“That looked like it hurt,” Derek said, standing beside the elevator in a charcoal grey suit that matched his dark hair. “That guy just came right out of nowhere.”
I laughed him off as we got into the elevator. Derek and I had made it into the company around the same time a few years ago, but he had the advantage of a better college and friends up in the manager's circle. So, while I was down here looking over reports, making sure to keep an eye on accounts and monitor major transactions, he'd made it into admin. Yet we still kept in contact, and he never let management turn him into an rear end in a top hat.
After that, it was just another day at the office. I stayed in later, to make sure I got the rest of my workload polished off for the weekend. I was tired, I'd been staring at a screen all day, so when one of the lights in the big guy's office turned on, I couldn't really see who it was. It wasn't like it was someone who was working late, otherwise they would have turned the light on earlier. And only someone who had keys to that room could get in. They had these weird doors that never really unlocked, so if you left your keys you had to call one of the admin guys or wait for security to come up. The janitor always had a set of keys, though, since most of his cleaning was done after hours.
That first night, I didn't think much of it. I just headed down to the parking lot, found my car next to Derek's, and headed for home. Still, I could feel that nagging sensation pulling on me.
I decided to stay after work again, maybe to catch the guy as he was leaving. But I guess he slipped out while I was taking a bathroom break. I waited for a couple of hours, just staring at the office door, that light still on inside.
No movement. Finally fed up with waiting, I headed into the room. Empty, clean, completely unremarkable. I guess the boss didn't like decorating his room. I noticed the glow from the computer, the monitor still on. Which was surprising, as he was usually a hardass when it came to turning off computers after work. Something about cyber-security or some such crap.
Logged off, of course. I left the office after that, thinking to come back tomorrow and confront the janitor about it.
“So, you admit entering the office on Thursday night?
This poo poo again. “Yeah, I was there to catch that rear end in a top hat doing...whatever the gently caress he was doing,” I snapped at him. “He was probably taking stuff from the office while we were out. It's not like you can trust people like that, right?”
“Well, saying as nothing was stolen from the office, I guess that means you're wrong,” The officer said. He was about to say something else, when his cellphone rang out. He turned away from me, talking quickly and hushed into the headset.
What the gently caress was taking them so long. They already knew who it was, why didn't they haul him into a room and ask him questions?
“Well, it seems we have a new break in the case,” He said, turning back around. “Now, I'll ask one more time: Are you sure that it was the janitor who did it?”
“Yes! Whatever he did, he was the one who did it,” I said again, far past getting fed up with this crap.
“Then you'll be pleased to know that Mr. Antonio doesn't work night shift,” He said.
Wait, that couldn't be right. “Then who did it?”
“That's under police investigation, sir,” He said. “You're free to go. Talk with the officer at the front desk on your way out, please.”
It didn't make sense, the question rolling over in my head again and again. It had to be him, right? Who else would do it?
The next Monday, Derek's car wasn't in his spot. No one had seen him. No one would even talk to me about it when I asked.
Only a few days later did I learn that someone had used an admin account to re-route one of the accounts to somewhere overseas. Millions of dollars, gone overnight. And Derek was nowhere to be found.
Thinking back on it, it was simple to see. His car in the parking lot, long after everyone else was gone. A shadow in the doorway that could have easily been his profile.
And I was the man he set up to fall for it.
|# ¿ Nov 23, 2014 01:09|
I need to improve after this last showing. Count me In.
|# ¿ Nov 25, 2014 14:34|
A question about the story: can one of the people in it at least be driving a car? The story isn't focused on the car, or about the car, or will have any twists or story relevance connected to the car.
|# ¿ Nov 26, 2014 20:41|
I should have clarified this a little better. I don't want stories that play to the Cars 'n Girls trope. Cars can physically be in the story, but you can't have a story about two hooligans trying to impress a girl by racing their T-Birds to Makeout Cliff, or whatever.
Thanks for the clarification.
|# ¿ Nov 26, 2014 20:47|
Let's Go Away for Awhile
Mick Jagger was screaming at me, the rough twang of 'Satisfaction' suddenly undercut by a voice that threatened me with it's youth.
“Welcome back to your Flashback Friday on your one and own KSAN, the Voice of the Bay!” He called out, the riff fading out under him. “That was the Rolling Stones with “Satisfaction”, coming in at number six on our countdown. They put one a heck of a show, folks...”
I turned down the radio as I took the hills and let the hum of the engine wipe my head clean. I hadn't been up this way in nearly a decade. I didn't have a need to since the divorce. And if it wasn't for my mailman, I would probably still be at my place sleeping off the jet lag. A few minutes either way and I would have missed it.
But the small white postcard made it, and now I was making my way back home to Pacifica to attend Mary's funeral.
I turned the radio back up “some Beach Boys, bringing you some Good Vibrations on this Flashback Friday!” The DJ cut out, replaced by high notes and a familiar voice.
I, I love the colorful clothes she wears...
It was 1966, and I was eighteen again. We crowded around a radio as the song cracked to life, feeling Mary Elaine's hand on my arm as we listened to it again. She started to sing along when the chorus kicked in and I joined her as back-up vocals.
We'd been steady for weeks now, and each day made me feel like I'd explode. I still remembered the lump in my gut when Bobby dared me to ask her to the winter dance, the childishness of it all forgotten in the immediate joy of her 'Yes'.
She was amazingly close as we sang, her hand in mine and her head on my shoulder as we sat in my upstairs room, resting against the dresser with the radio on above us. Her blonde hair catching the light from the bulb above us, making her smile stand out.
Even with the clouds outside it felt like I was going to melt from the sunlight. It felt perfect.
I turned to join her again on the back-up and her lips touched mine gently. A second that lasted forever in my mind, her gentle squeeze on my arm as she looked in my eyes.
I was back in 1986, gravel crunching under the tires as I pulled into the driveway, gray clouds hanging low in the sky. There'd be rain tonight so the funeral would be clear.
I made my way from the driveway, across that soft grass and up those old stone steps to face a white-painted door. Halfway up it opened, a tall and ragged woman standing there. Her mascara was running. Her hair was frazzled. She hadn't slept. It didn't blunt the sharpness of that glare.
“It's you,” Donna, Mary's mother, said to me. I could see the venom dripping from each syllable.
“Yep,” was all I could say. “I got the invitation.”
“We didn't send you any invitation.” She shot back.
I dug into my jacket pocket and pulled out the small card. “To be delivered to Randy McKulski upon notification of my death,” I read off the back of the card. “P.S., My mom still doesn't like you.”
She stepped back from the door, allowing me inside. “You made that last part up.”
I didn't. But I didn't tell her that. I heard voices coming from the living room off to my left and someone was moving in the kitchen ahead of me. As I walked past the door of the basement I could smell the sweet tinge of whiskey floating up from below. Her father was still drinking, it seemed.
I turned into the living room and ran arms-first into my mother, feeling her give me one of her bone-crushing hugs. I tried to reciprocate but she pinned my arms to my side, only adding to the pain. “Mom?” I stuttered, lungs fighting for breath. “What are you doing here?”
She backed away and looked up at me with red and puffy eyes, that same smile quivering at the corners. “Same thing as you, I imagine,” She said, slapping me on the shoulder. “Going over everything for tomorrow.”
I couldn't respond with words, so I nodded at her strength and finally returned her hug. “Good to see you again,” I said, holding her close and trying not to cry on her shoulder.
“You too, Rando,” She moved back towards the sofa. I took a seat next to her, my eyes drawn to the fake roses on the table, pink cloth petals taking me back.
The pink cloth petals shuffled gently as I pinned it to her dress shoulder. We were standing across the street from the gym, watching as people filtered in. Music and lights poured out from the wide doors like an invitation.
She took my hand and we crossed the street. I took the time to go over every way this couldn't be real.
I wasn't much more than a kid who worked at a record store. I didn't play football. I didn't have a nice car. I had an uncle who worked at Capitol records but he only came down for Christmas, usually half-drunk and telling me about all the jobs I could have in the industry. I was nothing.
And Mary Elaine was everything. Only a few inches taller than I was but standing straight enough to make every inch count. Blonde hair worn in a Jackie Kennedy cut that seemed to catch every stray beam of light as we crossed into the gym.
I barely heard Bobby's voice, turning around to smile before that heavy flash blinded me.
I was numb.
It was a perfect day outside when they lowered her into the ground. The ceremony was beautiful. But I couldn't recall anything else but that.
I was home now, looking at a box labeled 'Old House' in that neat, small lettering of hers. It was all I got in the will, a final passive-aggressive lashing out from beyond. She mastered the art when I was out on business, honing it to a deadly edge to greet me with every time I came back home.
After nearly a decade, she'd finally sharpened it enough that 'passive' was gone. Soon our marriage was the same. “Mutual differences,” the paperwork stated.
That was then. This was now. I opened up the box, dust lilting off the cardboard.
The old cloth flower from Prom. Some pictures we took at a concert in Ventura County. Various fragments and memories.
Pushed up against the back of the box I spied something red with white letters on top. I reached back to pull it out, five faces cut out on the cover against fingers of off-focus lights. The lettering for “THE BEACH BOYS” was scribbled over with a long, wavy signature. I remembered her face when he signed her favorite record. How she was so happy.
I set the record down and cried to her memory.
|# ¿ Nov 30, 2014 03:13|
Over the word limit. Longer short story. Second attempt at writing a 1200 vignette, but it didn't work as one. So I wrote this short story instead. Disregard it due to length if you'd like.
I hate you for these eight words alone.
|# ¿ Dec 1, 2014 13:59|
In. Let's give it another go.
|# ¿ Dec 2, 2014 03:01|
Not my story, but just something I'd like to share with the group.
So, I decided to at least try a Jack Rose before I start to brainstorm on the idea for my story. I understand that the story itself can't be about alcohol and that it can't play a central roll but I thought it might be a good way to get the creative juices flowing and a story going.
The problem is that Applejack, the most important ingredient, is both not very well known and very popular in Texas. Over the day, I've been to four different liquor stores in the area. Three didn't even stock the drink. Two didn't even know what the drink was. At one of the options in my immediate vicinity I got that 'This guy must be insane' look, even after I showed him the wikipedia article for the drink. Another kept confusing it for a sort of apple-flavored Jack Daniels, which I am sure doesn't exist.
For the second part of this fluid paradox, the store that did have Applejack didn't have any in stock. Apparently, the Lairds brand is the only brand of Applejack sold and it has quite a following, thereby making sure that the liquor store usually was out of the drink. So, in resignation, I deigned to grab a small bottle of Calvados to use as a substitute from the recommendations of the staff.
So, here I sit, sipping a concoction of French apple brandy, grenadine and lime juice in a chilled glass, hoping to get some idea of a way to make this work.
Sorry, thought I'd relay my story to people who might get it. Time to get back to seeing if I can get this idea going. Maybe after another Plastic Rose.
|# ¿ Dec 3, 2014 00:40|
This is my first Thunderdome. So, I just post it in here when I"m done?
A good rule is to bold the title, put in the word count then post the story, unless specified in the rules. There's lots of examples to review, but the format is mostly the same.
Other than that, welcome to the 'dome.
|# ¿ Dec 6, 2014 02:00|
Frozen Apple Red
997 words. Prompt: Jack Rose
It just wasn't the same.
I couldn't place it. The way the soft ambers seemed to warp the deep reds. Or maybe the way that it just didn't seem to settle in my eye.
I put the palette down on the table and stepped away from the canvas. In front of me I could see blue hills against a red alien sky. In the foreground was a man in shining silver and one of those old astronaut helmets, ray gun pointed up and body in pose. Why do sci-fi heroes have those old helmets, when their suits are nothing like an actual suit? And how would a ray gun even work in a heavy environment that could diffuse the beam?
No. Don't lose track. Just paint.
But that sky. That awful, orange-red sky. It taunted me with how simply wrong it was. Was it the way the paint lay thick enough to cast shadows? Was it how it just never seemed to shade correctly?
I need to get out of this apartment, I told myself. I made a call to my publisher, put on my coat and made my way down the street. The November chill roared at me head on, making my face sting and eyes water in response. It wasn't much of a walk, I told myself as I continued to trudge forward in the wind.
I finally pulled aside into a small cafe a few blocks down as the owner of the place gave me a smile and a wave. I sat down and waited as the owner came over with some sandwiches and coffee. I'd been enough of a customer to not even need to order anymore.
The bell above the door rang again and Ruth stepped inside, her brunette hair done in a bun that rested against the fake-fur lining of her old parka. She spotted me and made her way over quickly, curtly. I could tell that she was at the end of her rope dealing with the upcoming annual and that my call hadn't helped her disposition much.
“So, what is this about?” She asked, waving to the owner. She'd been in here a lot as well.
“It just doesn't look right,” I said, taking a bite of my sandwich. Ham, mayo, slight bit of hot sauce. Familiar. Good.
Ruth sighed and hung her head. “Look, we'll both go up and see what it looks like. Hopefully that can give one of us some idea of what needs to happen to get this cover ready.”
Another bite. “After lunch. I haven't had anything to eat today.”
“You keep running yourself ragged like this, and it's easy to see why you can't get it right,” She said, leaning back as her own order came forward. We ate in silence after that, another unremarkable day settled on top of mutual worry.
We made our way back up to my small apartment, opening up the door into a room on the edge of chaos. Around my work desk there were books upon books scattered. Reference material strewn about or pinned up on walls. Only with a guest did I really notice just how messy I'd let it get.
She moved wordlessly towards the easel, tucked away in a corner with a long-necked light hanging over it. She'd turn on the light. Then she just stood there. Staring. Judging, taking in each stroke and splash, each color. I moved to the kitchen to bring a pot of water to boil.
I poured a cup and headed back into the front when she turned around to look at me. “I don't see the problem.”
She couldn't be serious. It was right there! “The sky is off,” I told her, holding back my consternation. “It doesn't look right.”
Ruth took another look at the painting then looked at me with that gaze you see when you're afraid someone is losing their minds. “It's kind of thick, but that makes for a decent effect.”
“It still isn't right,” I defended myself, handing her a cup of tea that she promptly set aside and forgot about. I took my seat in front of the easel and fixed my eyes on the alien landscape once more.
“It's this new paint,” I explained, holding up my palette to show her the offending mixture. “They didn't have the usual brand that I buy, so I've had to use some substitute and mix it together. As you can see, it's not right.”
Ruth gave me that look again and shook her head. “I can see your point,” She started.
“I sense a 'but' in there,” I cut her off. Her body tensed, uncomfortable with being interrupted. I let her go on.
“It's just what we need. I know you see something wrong here but it shouldn't be stopping you dead like this.”
I wanted to show her the paint again, try to get her to understand. She continued, “Right now I'm two stories, a fanletter page and a cover away from the next issue. We have a week before the printers start talking about pushing back dates.”
That explained why she was in enough of a hurry to meet with me. I looked back at that painting, back at that rose-colored sky that taunted my gall to use something different.
And it looked so small now.
I nodded and looked back up at Ruth. “Let me put the final touches on it,” I told her. “I can have the digital scan to you by the time you get back to the office.”
She smiled that small, modest smirk of triumph. “That's more like it,” She said, turning to head out of the apartment. “I'm holding you to that promise.” The door clicked shut, leaving me alone again with the painting. I readied the finishing brush, smelled the fumes of the gloss, and looked at the painting.
It just wasn't the same. And that was fine.
|# ¿ Dec 7, 2014 21:53|
This disappearance of the Judges
I can't believe you haven't seen the connection yet. Mercedes recently brought a life into this world, and docbeard was the doctor to deliver it.
You want a beard doctor for your deliveries, after all. It ensures the baby grows up to have a magnificent beard, one that all will envy and cherish.
That's how it's going in my Thunderdome fanon and I won't deign to believe anything else.
|# ¿ Dec 8, 2014 13:48|
I'm back up to the unnoticeable middle! Also, crits are good.
|# ¿ Dec 9, 2014 00:48|
Why do I do this to myself?
Time to get weird.
|# ¿ Dec 9, 2014 02:32|
I guess it's a bit too late to bow out now?
|# ¿ Dec 15, 2014 01:04|
Someone throws away an important object.
He woke up to a pounding on the ceiling above him and the wailing cry of his alarm clock. Another dreadfully boring day staring down at him through the windows as the sun crested over the high-rise next door.
What a strange dream, he thought to himself before swinging his feet from the bed and stepping into a new old day. The smell of coffee accompanied by the sound of the drip drip drip into the pot. The honking outside the window that came in with the shaft of light. It all blended together into a mixture in his head, not yet awake enough to tell one from the other.
He stepped into the shower and let the cold water snap his mind into focus. He dressed and poured out his coffee. It felt like he had just sat down when his second alarm went off, pulling his keys from the counter and heading down his gray staircase to the garage. Lower and lower, until the hot, warm air of the HVAC units blew his hair around as he stepped towards his car.
The same roads. The same stoplights. All a familiar blur of colors and shapes that played like a life on repeat.
He felt himself rising from his seat. Dirt and crumbs crossed in front of his face. The engine screamed as the wheels spun with nowhere to displace their energy.
He stared at the road passing underneath him until his car caught the side of a building. The roof collapsed into the back seat in a screech of metal and broken glass. His head rang and everything became blindingly bright and loud.
Blindly pulling himself free of the wreckage as a cool breeze came down the street, bringing a wave of paper, clothing and debris floating past him. He saw a family pulling themselves out of an apartment window, hanging onto a drain pipe. More cars floated down the street or simply remained on the ground where they were stuck in traffic.
He'd pull himself down to sit on the twisted wreckage of his car floating gently in the breeze.
Deris lounged back on a cloud as the heat currents drifted him around the blindingly white room. He held a steady orbit around a black pit stuck in the air and affixed at the room's center. An orange orb took the center of the blackness, dots of blue and red and orange circling around in oblong trajectory.
An eyestalk lifted at the rushing sound of the airlock opening up, the humanoid known as Joshua standing some distance below him. “We're doing a check,” He called up to Deris, voice echoing softly around the room. “Anything weird going on?”
Deris returned his eye to the gelatinous form of his body. “Nope.”
Silence. Blissful silence. And Joshua ruins it. “Deris?”
“What?” Deris sighed, eye glaring at him through the cloud.
“Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
Joshua leapt upwards, pushing the cloud aside in his wake as he floated into orbit around the sun. “Why don't you tell me, Deris? Why don't you illuminate me on why the hell you switched off the local gravity?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I'm talking about this fuckup right here!” Joshua shouted, hard enough to shake his helmet. His entire body tensed like a spring as one of the dots grew in size. Across the surface of the planet were metal twines, reaching over and through clouds of mist and steam and water. Somehow, the atmosphere and oceans remained unaffected by the sudden shift.
“Is water supposed to do that?” Deris asked, extending his stalk to take a closer look at the planet.
“Are you serious?” Joshua vented, keeping his eyes on Earth. “How did you even do this? The physical laws are supposed to be linked together to avoid crap like this. You can't just flip a switch and turn of some of the natural order of the universe.”
“Good thing I didn't flip a switch, then,” Deris snapped back. “I swear, you humanoids get so uptight about your computations. I was just doing routine maintenance and clearing out the cache like I do every cycle.”
“You...you deleted gravity? You just deleted gravity?”
“I guess so.”
He woke up to the sound of his neighbor bouncing off the wall to his left and the wailing cry of his alarm clock, floating through the air with a lazy spin. Another dreadfully boring day filtering in through the shutter-blinds on the windows. The light bent as a water ball slapped against the windows.
A 'shower', a packet of coffee and a change of clothing and he slid out the door to look down at a forest. On each side of his door, others were making their way out of their homes and lining up for the commute. In the distance something long and metallic slid towards them, people holding onto bars branching out from the side as it crawled along the walls of the 'apartments'.
He floated out to catch a branch, the soft tug of momentum pulling him along, downward towards the base of the structure. They passed through a water cloud along the way, congealing together into globes of water that scattered as they moved through it and towards the ground.
He let go at the end of the line, dropping down towards the large rounded entrance to his office building, a few quick greetings here and there as he made his way up, around, through and finally to his small desk.
Five years had passed. Five years and his life was the same as it was when it all changed. Life's resilience to even a law of nature's disappearance was remarkable, he mused as he worked on typing up another report.
He was reaching for a stapler floating by accompanied by a cup of water and a personal file when the lights went out.
“Done,” Joshua said, turning back towards the door. “I was able to get the system restored and re-synched with the rest of the simulation. And next time, try not to delete another natural law.”
“Yeah,” Deris said back, still floating overhead. “I'll try not to.”
Joshua was too tired to even mutter under his breath at the floating mass as he left the simulation room.
He woke up to a pounding on the ceiling above him and the wailing cry of his alarm clock. Another dreadfully boring day staring down at him through the windows as the sun crested over the high-rise next door.
What a strange dream, he thought to himself before swinging his feet from the bed and stepping into a new old day.
|# ¿ Dec 15, 2014 02:45|
Welp, that's my signal to take a break. I'm not getting better by throwing myself at every prompt.
Happy Holidays, everyone! Now, to cry alone into my drink and hope the emotional scars heal.
Know your limits
I snapped awake to the knock on the door with the controller still in my hand and a ship creaking endlessly around me. Did I fall asleep? When did I start playing Alien: Isolation? When did I order food?
That knock brought me back to a dreadful clarity that sent me shambling off the couch and to answer the door. The delivery man handed me a bag of McDonalds, finally noticed that the fries were missing, and promised me that he'd be back with the proper order. I barely heard a word he was saying. I took my sad meal back to the computer screen, hit alt-tab, and looked at the openoffice doc.
A loving trainwreck played out before me, words arranged in barely coherent streams of thought born from some mix of masochism and fever dream mixed with the hope I could be better than I was. Only now, at the low end of a week of procrastination and with a toxx staring me in the face did it really hit me how poor it was. How seemingly naive my idea had been. And how badly I'd brace for what came next.
Edit, copy, paste, post.
Also, that vocaroo gave me an idea for something to do.
J.A.B.C. fucked around with this message at 14:26 on Dec 15, 2014
|# ¿ Dec 15, 2014 14:15|
Thunderdome: Judge not lest you've left the hugbox.
|# ¿ Dec 23, 2014 03:18|
Out of town this week, so Out for me.
Though not as out as some of these mermen. Some of these well-muscled mermen...
|# ¿ Dec 23, 2014 22:17|
|# ¿ Jan 21, 2022 01:42|
Uh, J.A.B.C, are you planning something?
Yes. Something big. Something fun.
|# ¿ Dec 30, 2014 02:58|