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Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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


Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
Don't Die
958 words

I don't know about you, but when I think about walking along the highways of New Jersey at midnight in the rain, I don't think that it's a great idea. In fact, I think it's a terrible idea. It brings to mind filth and murder. Despite all that, this exact situation is where I found myself one night late last April.

Lydia and I had just gotten off the train, back from a day exploring New York City. It was only two miles back to our hotel, and we were too cheap to spring for a cab. Besides, we thought, two miles is nothing. We plugged our destination into a smart phone, and it dutifully led us on the beginning of our trek.

Things started off innocuous enough. Down through a few residential neighborhoods, along sidewalks lined with freshly budded tulips and crisp houses, stray weeds peeking up through the carefully tended beds. It was pleasant, after all the noise and people in the city. We laughed, and were both quietly amazed at where we were. We'd just met last month, at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico. Now, less than a month later, we found ourselves walking through the suburbs of New Jersey at midnight.

We got to the edge of town, where stores start dropping letters off the end of their signs in an attempt to seem more relatable, but instead end up seeming quietly terrifying. The phone lit up and told us to turn left. To our left was nothing but a poorly lit highway on-ramp. This can't be right, we thought. I tapped the screen in an attempt to recalculate our path back to the relative safety of our hotel. Nothing. The two miles between our hotel and us were solely connected by the highway. We weighed our options.

"We could call a cab?"

"Dude, we make 300 bucks a month. I'm not blowing 40 of that on a cab to take me where my feet can."

"We could call Brian and have him and Huff give us a ride?"

"Huff's out of town, and besides, we can't use the van past midnight and Amber has the keys."

"gently caress."

But we were young and stupid, and decided that we might as well follow the path laid out by the phone. So we started out on the highway.

Some parts of it, we were lucky. There was a barrier along maybe 50 percent of the road that we could stay behind and pretend we were safe from the tons of metal hurtling along the wet, slick roadway. We stepped over sticks, thorns, and broken road signs. Our feet got caught on wire and in holes made by creatures more desperate than we were to get home. We fell in to a comfortable rhythm, calling out hazards back to whoever was behind the other. In between, we sang the songs that had been designated "our songs" to bring sanity to the wildness of our journey.

"I put one foot in front of the other one...” she sang.

"Oh oh oh, I don't need a new love or a new life," I sang back.

"Just a better place to die!" we sang together, not bothering to appreciate the wild appropriateness of the lyrics.

Parts of the walk were scarier than other. At seemingly random points, the barrier dropped away, leaving our comparatively weak human bodies completely exposed to the cars rushing by us at breakneck speeds. It was at these points that our adrenaline levels soared higher than they already were, our minds racing and spurring our feet to do the same. It was at these points that the adrenaline and the situation led our minds to morbid territory.

"Dude, don't people get murdered in New Jersey? Like, they loving dump the bodies along the highway, yeah?"

"I don't loving know, just keep walking."

"But, wait, hear me out. What if we get murdered? Like, who would be surprised to hear that two chicks got murdered on the side of a New Jersey highway at night? loving no one dude, no one would be surprised."

"Shut up! Jesus loving Christ on a cracker, keep walking. Use all the energy you're putting in to concocting stupid scenarios, and take it and use it to hurry the gently caress up."

Up ahead, we saw the fluorescent blue sign of the Wal-Mart across the highway from our hotel. The end of our seemingly suicidal journey was nigh. We drew even to our hotel, just one little street between us and our hot showers and warm beds. We looked back over our shoulders, towards the highway and the Wal-Mart. I don't know what came over us, but maybe we just we weren't ready to be done being young and stupid.

"Hey, uh, want to head over there and maybe get some stuff for breakfast tomorrow?"

"Yeah! Should we maybe walk further down so we can take the bridge across?"

"No, that's like at least another 15 minutes. Let's just wait for a break in traffic and run across."

"Sounds good to me."

The break came, and we darted across, like deer scared by a gunshot. We did the same when we had finished our shopping, unfazed by the headlights gleaming off the raindrops falling all around. Eventually, we ended up back at our hotel, amazingly unhurt. We couldn't believe what we had done. We had basically invited murder, or at least grievous bodily harm, and escaped with nothing more than soaked shoes and a story.

I've asked Lydia if she would do it again, if she were faced with the same set of circumstances. She laughed, looked me square in the face, and said, "Absolutely. Wouldn't you?" Absolutely.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

E; might as well be flashed.

Starter Wiggin fucked around with this message at 21:35 on Feb 18, 2014

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
No Regrets
750 words
LEGO set 8061: Gateway of the squid
Flash rule: Ski jumpers/ski jumping

"This is bad. This is really, really bad, Sam. They've grown more intelligent than either of us could have ever predicted. And now they've stolen the key to the chest, and you know full well what happens if they figure out what's inside."

"Do you really think they'll figure out what to do with it, even if they manage to open the chest? Lance, we still have a chance."

"Goddamn it man, you're a professor, you should know better by now. At the rate they've matured, of course they'll open the chest, and of course they'll figure out how to use the..."

Lance was cut off as the slick sound of a something other made its way to his ears. They were just outside the door, waiting for the two men to drop some sort of clue to their own demise.

Sam and Lance were silent, the sound of their own heartbeats echoing in their ears as they held their breath and waited for the intruder to grow tired of waiting and leave. To their horror, they instead heard the telltale clicking of hyper-matured beaks, communicating over their stolen waterproof radio.

The clicking died off after a few minutes, and they heard the, "splort, splort, splort" that signaled they were moving down the hallway, towards the chamber their queen was holed-up in.

"poo poo. poo poo, poo poo, poo poo. Lance, do you think that means they've opened the chest? Why else would they leave, when they could have easily picked the lock and killed us?"

"I don't know, Sam."

Lance slid down the wall to sit on the cold stone floor. He put his head in his hands. "We should have never come down here, Sam. We should have taken one look at that drat golden altar and left. The alien glyphs, the trace of radioactivity, the fact that it didn't show up on radar, all the clues were there in front of us. Why were we so drat stupid, Sam?"

"I don't know. Lance, I just wanted to study their culture. I never wanted this. I just wanted to be the first, you know? Just be the expert, the one people associate immediately with the biggest find of the century."

"I get that, I really do. I just wanted to see it first, see things that no one else on earth had seen before, and blaze the trail. Dammit, I'm a ski jumper. And I'd be a loving liar if I pretended that the gold wasn't a good incentive."

The two men were alone with their thoughts, wishing they could reverse the decisions of their past and put back this horror that they had unleashed on the world.

A distant gong aroused them from their misery. The gong sounded again, and a third time. Lance and Sam chanced opening the door and found the hallway empty and glistening with slime trails from the sentries that had been going past the last few days.

"If we're going to die, we might was well die as informed as possible." That was Sam, a scientist through and through.

The men moved quickly down the hall, towards the ever-louder gong. They peered around the corner to the main entrance, and what they saw shocked them more than they would have thought possible, even with the events of the last few days.

The squid queen sat upon a hastily constructed, yet no less regal, throne of fish. The chest that had been the center of their research sat in front of her, and what seemed to be a royal guard moved towards her, a golden key held aloft on a pillow of kelp.

The contingent reached their ruler and kneeled before her, proffering the key with an extreme air of reverence. She reached towards it with one lithe tentacle, the cups suctioning to the key with fierce pleasure. Her beak clicked rapidly, clearly in ecstasy of what was to come. She motioned for her guard to present the chest to her. They bore it to her in the manner that Egyptian royalty was paraded through the streets and knelt before her, their multiple limbs shivering with anticipation.

The queen snaked the key through the air, towards the golden lock engraved with arcane symbols. It slid in, and a click was heard echoing through the hall. She turned the key, and a hiss of air escaped as the lid of the chest popped up, released after all this time. Two of her tentacles on top, she opened it.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

24 words

Musk and tension hung in the air. A soft snore to his right, the same, cold moon out the window. He didn't feel different.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
"In" she snorted, her chest heaving from exertion.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

Lake Jucas posted:

Allegiance is fluid in the Thunderdome. Starter Wiggin, we collaborated together last week, but this week we will meet on the battlefield. It's time to brawl.

Just a warning: unlike your precious Kilkenny cats, there won't be any trace of you left once I am done.

I see your challenge, Lake Jucas, and I accept.

Counter-warning: I facking accept.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
My Lake Jucas brawl entry, prompt 'Pack Mentality':

697 words

Backpack yawned and stretched his zippers. The sun was finally up, and that meant the store would be opening soon. "Today's the day; I can feel it in my pockets," he thought. "Today is the day I get to go on an adventure."

The store opened, and customers began to trickle in. Some of them glanced briefly at Backpack; he made sure to look spacious and comfortable when they did. But most of the people walked right past Backpack and on to look at his siblings.

His sister Osprey, with her wide straps; his brother Arc'teryx, with his sleek, minimalist design; his other brother North Face, with his cool mountain tattoo: these were who people wanted to go on adventures with, not Backpack.

All day long, Backpack was overlooked. He couldn't understand why. His zippers were shiny, his pockets were roomy and numerous, his straps were adjustable. Here he was, ready for an adventure! But still people ignored him.

Backpack began to get depressed. "Fine then, I don't need to go on an adventure. I bet we'd only do stupid stuff anyways. Probably we'd just walk to some boring college class, or go on an overnight to Rainier, or walk the entire length of the Great Wall of China! Oh, who am I kidding? I need to get out of here! I need to be part of an adventure!"

The fluorescent lighting came on in the store, and the windows began to grow dark. Backpack knew the store would be closing soon, and he'd be left here another day. Another day of hanging here on his hook. His safe, boring hook.

There weren't a lot of people left in the store now. The odds of Backpack getting to start his great adventure today were looking slimmer by the minute. He had just begun to prepare himself for another day of waiting when he realized someone was looking at him. Him! Not his siblings, not the door, not each other, but him! He puffed himself up, stretched his straps as wide as they would go. He would smile, but that usually scared people and he didn't feel like watching the cops tackle another hysterical person to the ground.

A little girl came over and reached towards Backpack. Her hands grazed his strap as she grabbed the bag hanging directly to Backpack’s left. He sagged, his hopes dashed once again.

The little girl rifled through the other pack, roughly undoing its zippers and jamming her hands in its pockets. Backpack watched the scene unfold in front of him. “That should be me,” he thought. He noticed the girl’s face fell when she ran her hands over the other bag, its lack of outer pockets a clear mark against it.

“Wait. It still could be.”

Backpack knew this was his chance to shine. He jangled his zippers to grab the girl’s attention, and made sure that his outer pocket was as prominent as could be.

The little girl came over to Backpack. She lifted him tenderly from his hook and swung him over her small arms. She ran to her mother, laughing. "Mom! Mom! Look! This one has Dora on it! Mom, see? And it has a pocket on the side that I can put rocks and birds and snacks in! Mom! Please, Mom? Can I please get it?" The little girl hopped all around her mother, Backpack bouncing with her.

Backpack was elated. Rocks and birds and snacks? If those didn't sound like the ingredients for a great adventure, he didn't know what did. Backpack listened for the mother's reply, though it was hard to hear over the little girl's constant chorus of, "please, please, please," each punctuated by a hop.

The mother crossed her arms and tilted her head. She looked at the store clerk, and he put up all ten of his fingers. Backpack didn't know what that meant, but he hoped it was a good sign.

The mother nodded, and the little girl took off running with a squeal. "Yayyyyyyyyyyyy! Thank you Mom!" She ran around her mother once more, and then took off towards the doors, towards an adventure, Backpack clinging to her tiny shoulders.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
Sink or Swim
1170 words

"And the Nobel Prize in medicine is awarded to Dr. Eric Van der Stol, for his groundbreaking discovery and synthesis of the world's first viable artificial human sperm."

I walked over to the podium and shook the presenter's hand. "Thank you for this honor," I spat. I found my way to the microphone, and began my rehearsed acceptance speech.

"Family, friends, colleagues," I enunciated with a clenched jaw, "thank you for joining me here to celebrate this great achievement. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my mentor Dr. Janelle Restmith. Without her guidance, I can honestly say I wouldn't be here in front of you all today. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to take a moment to tell you all how I came upon this discovery. It all started two years ago..."


I'd been working with Macaca fascicularis, or cynomolgus macaques, for the past decade. My research was primarily in prostate health, particularly prostate cancer. My father was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer when I was young, and his death had inspired my research. Now that my son had recently been diagnosed with the same aggressive strain that had killed his grandfather, I was even more pressed to find a breakthrough.

My research with the macaques had been getting better day by day. Janelle, my mentor, was impressed.

“I can’t believe how quickly you’re working towards a viable human model.” she said, her eyes wild around the edges, like the wild and untamed jungles that my subjects, the macaques, had, until recently, called home.

“I know, I think I’m ready to begin early human trials.” I said, my palms sweaty as they pressed together to hide their excited trembling.

Janelle smiled a rare smile. “If this works, you realize you’d be a shoo in for the Nobel.”

“Do you really… no, no. There’s no way…” I trailed off.

“I really do. Hell, if this works, we could get rid of men altogether.” Janelle laughed.

“Oh, haha, yeah. Then who would open all the jars for you womenfolk?” I raised one eyebrow and smiled sarcastically.

Janelle grew deadly serious. “We’d find a way.” Instead of the wild playfulness from just moments ago, her eyes were dark and stony.

The human trials went better than anyone could have expected or hoped for. The artificial sperm combined seamlessly with the ovum in testing, and several viable embryos developed. Due to the manmade nature of the sperm, the zygotes were all healthy, and we were able to select for whatever traits we desired. Height, musculature, sex, all switches at the tips of our fingers. I was at a loss. Janelle couldn’t believe the success, either.

“Have you written up what you’re going to submit to the journals yet, Eric?”

“I’ve got it about halfway finished. I can’t believe everything went so well.”

“The Nobel committee is going to be hard-pressed to find something better than this to honor next year. You’ve changed reproductive medicine. They can’t ignore that.”

“I don’t know if I really want the honor though. I didn’t do this to impress people.”

“Too late.” Her eyes were still dark, as they now always were when they looked at me.


Writing up my findings, I knew this wasn’t right. I shouldn’t be honored for this discovery. I didn’t want it. All I wanted was for my other trials to be going as well as this misguided venture.

I had a few different treatments for prostate cancer in testing. The mice we had tested on had shown mild improvement, but the side effects were disastrous and just as bad as the cancer. A second revision was going in for testing tomorrow, and I wished I could trade my success with the sperm for success on the cancer treatments.

Talking to Janelle the next day, I confided my misgivings.

“Don’t you wish we had had better luck with these cancer protocols?”

“I mean sure, but you’ve got some great achievements under your belt already. If this one doesn’t pan out, you’ve got the others to fall back on.”

“Yeah, but there’s already plenty of reproductive therapies out there. But this, this could actually help someone…” My eyes misted, and I bit my tongue in a futile effort to keep what came out next back.

“It could help my son.”

I hadn’t told Janelle, or anyone, about my son’s diagnosis. Her eyes lit up, and her whole body leaned towards me, determined to learn more.

“What about your son, now?”

I hesitated. “He, uh, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year.” The words fell from my mouth like ice cream from a forgetful child’s cone on a hot summer day.

“Really? That’s terrible. I’m so sorry to hear that.” Her eyes grew manic.

“Yes, thank you. So that’s why I wish that my prostate treatments were more successful. I’d just like to be able to help make him better.”

“Yes, yes, I understand. Good luck with that…” She wandered away, in a calculating daze.


I kept revising my treatments for the mice. One seemed to have promise. There were minimal side effects, and the cancer seemed to have stopped metastasizing. I was confident that I could successfully bring this iteration to human trials, but that would mean focusing all my time on this, and stepping back from the sperm trials. I shared my decision with Janelle.

“So you see, I think with work, we could bring this to human testing fairly soon.”

Janelle stiffened. “With my approval, you mean.”

“Yes, with… wait, why would you not approve it?”

“If you put your efforts into this, then you’ll effectively be halting the artificial sperm trials.”

“Yeah, but this-”

“But nothing.” She cut me off with a curt shake of her head. “The artificial sperm trials are your top priority. We need to finish the trials so we can bring it to market.”

“The cancer treatment has promise though. The meta-”

“You will finish the artificial sperm testing. You will accept your Nobel prize when it is offered so we can bill the product as ‘Nobel prize winning’. You will put the cancer treatment on the back burner. Is that understood?”

I was floored. There was no way I was going to stop my cancer research for her marketing plans.

“What’s to stop me from just taking my formulas and leaving?”

“The fact that, as your supervisor, I own your formulas. You can’t take them, unless you’d like to be arrested for grand larceny. And I don’t think your son would do well with a father in jail. His cancer can’t wait for your trial, now, can it?”

I was at a loss for words. She had me. Either I do as she told me, or she would just take my cancer research and destroy it, or let it rot in animal trials.

Janelle leaned in. “Who’s going to open my jars for me when all the big, brave men are gone?” she whispered with triumph. “Looks like I’ll get to find out soon.”

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
In and loving the OSC reference with sign ups.
Flash me please! (also an OSC reference oh man it's getting crazy)

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

I did Techno Remix's sub, 'Externination'.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

"Do it."


"Come on, just do it."

We went through this every time. I would resist, until eventually he wore down my resolve. I pulled the bandana over the lower half of my face and walked inside the bank.

"This is a stick up! Everyone down on the floor!"

My name is Cattle Sam, and I guess I'm an outlaw.


Maybe I should start at the beginning. Growing up, I was a pretty normal kid. I played games with my friends, I went to the school house most days, and got in to general mischief, but nothing too big.

One day, my friends dared me to spend the night out at the old Miller Ranch. Legend had it was haunted, on account of the real graveyard out back of it. I didn't want to be called yellow, so I did it. I even spent the night out with the headstones, just to show how scared I wasn't.

That night was cold, and my breath was turning into steam in the chill air. I was trying to see if I could make shapes like I'd seen grown folks do with smoke. One puff came out, and then just kept right on growing. I reached out to touch it, and it was ice on my hand.

"Watch it!" the puff hollered.

It was a real live ghost.

"Who're you?" the puff ghost asked.

"I... I'm... Sam..." The words came very slowly from me.

"Alright Sam, you can call me Heinrich."

"What kind of a name is Heinrich?" The name felt weird in my mouth.

"An old one, so you best watch your manners."

I had so much I wanted to ask him, but nothing seemed important enough to waste his time on.

"What'cha doing out here in this boneyard, Sam?"

"I got dared by my friends, and I never turned down a dare before."

"Is that so? Well, Sam, things are gonna be interesting for us, I reckon."


Heinrich wasn't lying. Once he found out I never back down from a dare, he used that to make life exciting, least for him.

"Dare you to climb down into that canyon."

"Dare you to switch all Miss Jilly's chicken eggs with snake eggs."

"Dare you to go steal that horse tied up outside the general store."

That was when things really took a turn. Once he got to daring me to steal things, he really hit his stride. We stole horses, we stole wheels from wagons, we stole whatever we saw that looked fun to take.

I didn't realize we were building me a reputation 'round town, until I went into the saloon one night. Everyone in there turned to see who had walked in, and when they realized it was me, they all grabbed their drinks a little tighter and started whispering.

"That him?"

"Stole my barrels of grain just last week."

"Heard he stole Jim's cattle two nights ago, right off his ranch."

The cattle one, that was one I was a little proud of. Normally I felt right awful about what we were stealing, but stealing cattle is hard work. Heinrich hadn't thought I'd be able to pull it off, but I had. A whole dozen, right out from Jim's nose.

"That Cattle Sam, he'll take the boots right off your feet soon as you wink."

So that's what they had decided to call me. As far as nicknames go, I'd heard worse.


This was only our third bank robbery, but we had the routine pretty down pat. I go in (after some persuading), wait for the teller to hand over the sacks of money, and then high tail it to a hidden cave way out south, where we had a whole slew of sacks already stashed in an old mine shaft.

That's how the other stick ups had gone, anyhow.

"That's all, just hand them sacks over and you'll be alright." The teller hesitated. I put my gun up. Her hands reached below the counter for more sacks, but they came back up with a small pistol instead.

"Don't do anything stupid now."

She pointed it at me, hands shaking. "M... maybe you better leave here."

I couldn't help it; I laughed. I turned to Heinrich, to make a, 'can you believe this?' face at him, and I heard something behind me. It sounded far away and felt hot in my chest.

I looked down, and saw something on my shirt. I touched the stain, and my hand came away wet and red. I turned back towards the teller, and the last things I remember seeing are her eyes staring down the barrel right into mine, all uncertainty gone.

Another sound, further away. Then black.


As my luck would have it, they buried me out in that old Miller ranch's graveyard. I can see Heinrich's stone from mine, it's only two down. Sometimes, when the moon is out full, kids come in to our yard on a dare. They curl up, teeth chattering and eyes wide.

Just 'cause I'm dead don't mean that Heinrich stopped daring me.

"Come on, go spook 'em."

"No, they're awful young."

"You were littler than them when I spooked you, now go on."

I wait for their breath to fog the air, and I move in.

"What'cha doing out here in this boneyard?"

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

You think honey just happens?

You think that sweet, golden nectar just appears in the comb?

Well, you're wrong. And don't you think you've got it figured out with
your 'biological processes' and other sciencey-sounding ahit.

We make it with magic.

Every wizard (or 'worker') bee is enrolled in magic school when
they're three days old. There, they're taught the various spells and
enchantments necessary to create the perfect honey.

It's hard work. All that dancing your human scientists think we're
using to 'communicate distances to flowers' or other nonsense, that's
us casting our spells. It's an extremely complex and tiring process.

And our queen, she's not exactly what you think. Yeah, sure, she lays
eggs all the time to make more wizard bees. But why do you think we
chose her? The queen of a hive is actually an extremely dangerous
wizard bee, sentenced to live out the rest of her life under our
guard. We gorge her on honey until she's too fat to move.

And the reason we swarm if you disturb our hive? We're just protecting
you from her.

You're welcome.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

sebmojo posted:

Quoting these high-end flash rules so the new page sees them.

I will take "communication is illegal and there has to be a mule".

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
Mercedes flash: Communication is illegal, and there must be a mule.

Stay Strong
733 words

There it went again, the familiar three-part bray that Aaron had come to both crave and fear. He hurried into his shoes and out to the barn.

His cows and pigs were sleeping soundly, blissfully unaware of their surroundings. In the far back, lying amongst the fresh straw, was his pet mule, Betsy.

"Eee-awww! Eee-awww! Ee-awwwwww!" She looked at him, through him.

"OK, I'm listening." Aaron crouched down at face level with the mule, his blue eyes locked into her deep brown ones.

"BEGIN TRANSMISSION... Aaron, I'm getting scared. No matter what I try, they won't release me. I even... Oh Aaron, I didn't mean to be unfaithful, they... they threatened me... I just want to be home with you. I just want to go home... END TRANSMISSION"

Soft sobs had echoed after those last words, and they kept echoing in Aaron's mind, even as he fed the mule, even as he went back inside and took off his shoes, even as he lay in bed until the golden glow of the sun edged in around his curtains.


The night fell again too soon, and Aaron sat stock still at his table, his mug of tea untouched in front of him. The TV crackled in the background, and the nation's news of the day washed over him as he sat waiting.

"More disappearances continue to shock and disturb the nation. What seemed to be a localized increase in runaways has quickly turned into a nationwide panic. Men and women have been disappearing from seemingly secure locations, with no ransom demands being delivered.

With President Palin having recently outlawed inter-dimensional communication due to fears of mind probes, we have no means of contacting other dimensions in an attempt to cooperate in search efforts."

He clicked the television off. Betsy had started again, and he needed to get out to her. Shoes on, and out to the barn once more.

"BEGIN TRANSMISSION... Are you getting these? I hope you are, I can't bear the thought that I'm truly alone. Aaron, it's getting worse. They've taken to shorting my rations. I... I don't know how much longer I can hold out. Sometimes I dream of giving in. I'm not strong like you were... are. Like you are. I have to keep thinking that you are. That you are. You are... END TRANSMISSION"

Breath caught in his chest, frozen there, Aaron went back into the home they once shared and cried quietly until dawn, wishing he had the strength to give in.


Weeks went by, and Betsy remained silent through them all. Aaron panicked, even going so far as to have a vet check her vocal cords.

Night after night, he would sit with her, talking to her in a vain effort to have her respond. Nothing. She remained resolutely mute.

Aaron began sleeping out in the barn with her, a makeshift bed in the straw, curled up next to Betsy. Over the soft nighttime sounds of the barn, he heard her stir.

"Ee-awww! Ee-awww! Ee-awww!"

Aaron sat up immediately, his heart slowed in his chest.

"BEGIN TRANSMISSION... Aaron... I don't know how to begin this... I... I don't think I'm coming home. I couldn't hold out anymore, Aaron... You don't understand! It's different here, everything is so... different. I tried, you have to know I did! I'm only human... This is my last transmission, Aaron. I can't... I can't do this to you anymore. I can't do this to myself anymore. This false hope, it's killing me. Good bye Aaron. You have to know that I loved you, with my whole heart. You have to know that... END TRANSMISSION"

His hands shaking, Aaron stood. He faltered, and held on to the side of the stall for support. He looked at Betsy, to see if there was perhaps, maybe... No. She laid on the floor, in her straw, her chest still. One hand to her ribs confirmed what Aaron feared.

He walked, numb, outside into the cold farm air. The stars were extra bright tonight, and they almost seemed to taunt him, glittering up there away from this hurt.

Aaron walked, the stars still glittering in his eyes. They twinkled as he went inside, they twinkled as he took his shoes off and went upstairs, they twinkled as he found the strength that Nick had been talking about all along, the strength to give in.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

"May, why the hell do you have this tiny little sweater?" My voice came muffled from our walk-in closet as I flung the ratty brown cardigan onto our bed. "And this... tube top?" Out flew a pink sequined wisp of fabric, and it landed atop the moth-eaten sweater.

"That's a bandeau, Jamie. You wear it with... oh, never mind." She wordlessly lay back on the bed.

"What's wrong?" I stepped into the room, center in a storm of discarded clothing, remnants of our spring cleaning. "May?" She was silent, her hand running over the cardigan, her eyes everywhere but on me. "May, are you OK?"

"This sweater... it belonged to Laurel."

Oh. Suddenly, I regretted treating it so carelessly. "May, I didn't know. I'm sorry."

She stood and stared at the closet door, before leaving to go downstairs. I carefully took the sweater in my arms, refolded it gently, and walked in to our closet to put it on the high shelf, next to the small pink urn.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
He's Not Heavy, He's My Brother
872 words

"Oh yeah, it's morning! Let's go!" Randy bounded down the stairs and into the kitchen, where his mom was making breakfast.

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

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

Randy took up Frisbee, so did Bo.

Randy found surfing, and Bo would follow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Randy looked over from his seat in the yard. Bo was standing, vibrating with excitement, in the center of the yard, ready to show off.

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

Bo crouched, and began his hunt. Moments later, he was victorious, fur flying in celebration.

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

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

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

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

"Wanna see it again? Here!" And Bo was off again, and he was even better this time. More agile, more in sync with his victim, barely any room for improvement.

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


After some research aided by his neighbors, Randy had discovered a few books that suggested that someone with Bo's particular set of skills might be allergic to his chosen prey. After that, it was simply a matter of leaving those pages open to where their mom would read them, and let the rest unfold.

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

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

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

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

It took a good while for the realization to hit Bo. He looked everywhere, but his prey eluded him. "Randy, where'd it go? It was just here!" He searched everywhere, but his efforts were fruitless.

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

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

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

They went inside together, Bo taking the lead, Randy behind him, trying not to knock his bandage.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
Honk If You Love Fish
250 words

"poo poo son, this is the best prank."

"Right? It's gonna be fuckin' epic."

The airhorn was taped under their boss' chair, and together they peered around the corner, waiting for Mr. Johns to come back from lunch. He walked in, sat his papers down, and took the last seat of his life.

"HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONKKKK!" The scream from the horn blared around the office, and in the confusion, Mr. Johns fell to the floor.

The cohorts, in their laudatory laughter, didn't notice that Mr. Johns wasn't moving. He wasn't breathing heavily, or even breathing at all. They finally realized that something was wrong, and ran to him.

"Oh my god Darrel, call loving 9-1-1 or something, jesus..."

Darrel took off, having left his cell phone on his desk. Ricky put his hands on Mr. Johns' chest, and realized that his hands were shaking too hard to do anything, much less CPR. He sat off to the side, rocking.

"Oh poo poo, this is bad, this is so bad..."

He closed his eyes, and put his head in his hands as he continued his rocking. He felt something warm on his ankle, and assumed he had pissed himself out of fear. He opened his eyes and saw Mr. Johns' hand firmly grasping his foot, and Mr. Johns sitting up.

"Ha ha suckers! That'll teach you to gently caress with me!"

The joke was on all of them, as placing fraudulent calls to 9-1-1 is punishable by law. The real winner in the end was justice.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
I did a crit of Masonity's story this week.

I'm doing more, since I'm very bored at work and being mean about words is constructive. If my useless advice sounds nice to anyone, you can pm me or email or whatever at starter.wiggin at gmail


Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
The Sean asked for a crit so here it is:

Still doing these if anyone wants my lovely opinion.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

Still doing more.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

Nitrousoxide posted:

Could you do one on mine?

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

sebmojo posted:

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

I'm piping please.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

You ever watch cartoons? You know the little dudes that hang out on the shoulders of the protagonist? The guy in white who always looks like he has a loving moral compass shoved up his rear end, and the other dude who more often than not has his red suit somehow not get burnt up by the flames he's got on like a trench coat?

Yeah. That dude with the wings, that's me. My name is Damian, and I'm a Conscience.

Now, I don't know what you've heard, but this isn't an easy gig to score. There's a whole poo poo load of tests, to make sure that you're not going to tell your Soul to like, jump off a bridge or something. They've got to makes sure that your intentions are pure, or at least that's what all the pamphlets say.

I got into this straight out of Spirit college. My advisor said with my grades, it was either this or trying out for a Haunt Squad, and I don't much care for rattling chains and creaking stairs in the middle of the night. Clearly, I don't think it's too Hollywood or anything like that; I'm a Conscience for Pete's sake.

So I went through the testing and passed. Then it was on to the waiting list, to be matched with a counterpart, an Immorality, who my scores indicated I was compatible with.

A few weeks of waiting later, and I was matched with Geneva. She had tried out for a Haunt Squad, and they turned her away for being to liberal with her Terrors. So she came to test with us, and scored perfect for an Immorality. They paired her up with me, and then we were sent out to wait for our Soul to be born.

I'll be real with you; I don't remember who our first Soul was. We don't have much to do until they actually start to develop their sense of right and wrong, and this Soul died before then. All I can remember is Geneva.

She was wild. All the phrases that come to mind when I think of her sound cliché, but trite phrases ring true for a reason. She was a firecracker, like her essence was alive, ablaze with the electricity of hedonism.

Every other Immorality that I had met before had been vicious and cruel; not Geneva. Sure, she wasn't nice in the strictest sense, but she did have a moral compass of sorts. Hers just happened to be tuned a few degrees off North.

Our first day with our Soul, we were still getting the hang of things. We don't stay with them 24/7, we can leave for short periods of time, to check situations elsewhere that might impact our decisions. Not having many decisions to make for our Soul yet, we popped out for a breather.

"So, pretty crazy, huh?"

She didn't respond; she just looked at me with her auburn eyes that seemed on fire.

"How's it being an Immorality? Must be an exciting job."


"Uh, so, did you ever think you'd be an Immorality when you were in Spirit college? Or was it always the Haunt Squad?"


"Maybe we should be heading back, you uh, never know if a new Soul's gonna need help making an important life-changing decision, eh?"

She was gone in a lick of flame.


It went on like this for weeks. Any time we'd leave our Soul for a bit, I would try to engage her, get her to say something, anything. She remained as silent as ever.

She remained mute, even after our Soul died. It wasn't a quick death, and we couldn't do anything to make it any easier; that's the Guardians' job. It was painful to be part of, and the only person I could talk to about it wouldn't. After the weeks of enraging silence, I snapped.

"Why won't you talk, Geneva?! I know this has to hurt you, too! Just say anything!"

She looked up at me, suddenly small and ashy. "I..."

"What? What, are you going to tell me to suck it up? That she deserved it? Just loving speak!"

"I'm sorry."

Shocked into silence, I stopped. Everything hit me at once: our Soul's dying, Geneva speaking, everything, and I wept.


I was reassigned to a new Soul after a time. Geneva was as well, but we weren't assigned together; I think the Moral Corps is more superstitious than they like to let on.

My next Soul and next Immorality were fine. My Soul lived a fairly long time, and managed to keep a fairly level head, despite my having checked out. I requested an early retirement after this Soul's passing, and the Board took pity on me and granted it.

Elysium was nice, but my first assignment had broken me. I looked for Geneva, not in Elysium, but in the Fields of Asphodel. I thought I got a glimpse of her once, her auburn eyes dulled with pain, but she slipped away before I could call to her. It's just as well, two broken halves don't necessarily equal a whole.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of IN.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

A Tin Of Beans posted:

Forgive me, Thunderdome, for I have sinned. :negative:

As penance for my crime, I will do in-depth crits for the first three people to ask.

Yes please kind tin.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

If anyone would like a crit, I am once again bored at work and looking to use my mediocre talent to rip you a tiny little new one.
So you know, there's that.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

It’s nighttime, and I’m placing C4 around the perimeter of the building. It’s ramshackle enough, but you can never be too sure. I’ve got explosives packed around all the major supports that I can find, and extra just for flair. I’ve also set more explosives on a 10 minute timer. That’s when I figure anyone who is going to come see what happened will have showed up, and then BOOM! The most invigorating vacation yet.

There’s a small hill a bit back from my project. I shelter behind it, away from the brunt of the first blast. It goes off without a hitch. I climb to sit on top, and the melody of far off sirens trickles through the cold night air.

The fire department is the first to arrive, their hoses aimed towards the flames that lick the sky. Behind them are police, then a lone ambulance. I crouch behind the hill again. The rescue workers stay back, but not far enough to avoid the second wave of explosions. Screams puncture the night, and the adrenaline that I crave so dearly is overflowing from my every pore. My eyes feast on the scene playing out below me. It’s slow and painful and the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.


I get excited for burning buildings. Tragedy pushes adrenaline through my fibers. Natural disasters make me feel alive. I don’t throw caution to the wind; I vivisect it and determine it to be a hazard to my health. Being reminded of the temporary nature of life is my drug. I think Joey Comeau said it best, “I’d rather die terrified than live forever.” The man makes a great point. What’s the point of being alive if you’re not actually living?

Don’t think that you’re crazy for thinking me insane or foolish; all my friends do. I can’t share this ‘hobby’, as it were, with them. They worry for me. They call my obsession dangerous. For a while, they invited me to share in their hobbies, mountain biking and karaoke, but the rush isn’t there. It’s like comparing sandpaper and citrus, if you’ll pardon the butchered and trite analogy.

They don’t know the worst of it, though. If I need a fix, and nothing sufficiently insane is happening, I make my own fun. I don’t go too terribly far, really. I stick mostly to light arson. I’ve dabbled in pipe bombs. I’m experimenting with chlorine gas. These projects fill the times when the world has gone quiet around me.


I didn’t think to count the explosions, so I didn’t realize that there were two that hadn’t gone off. They did, maybe five minutes after the second wave, and I didn’t duck or cover my face. I was too busy taking in my handiwork. The charges ignited and flared into the dark and smoky air, blinding me.

My field of vision was destroyed. Everything, everywhere I looked, was a brilliant white. I covered my eyes with my hands and blinked, hard. Nothing. I could still hear the muffled sobbing coming from the wreckage below, and I listened while going through my options.

I couldn’t walk home; it was hard enough to get out here without getting lost with my sight intact. I couldn’t go down to the paramedics; they were in no shape to help. My last and only option was to voice dial a friend and have them find me. But I had to wait until morning. If my friends came out here and found me right by this ‘crime scene’, they wouldn’t hesitate to turn me in. As far as they knew, my obsession only extended so far as things that I had no control over.

I waited until more sirens came and worked through the carnage of their friends. I waited until people that sounded important came and ruffled around with their dogs. I waited until I could feel the noon sun beating down on my upturned face, and then I called my friend.

He found me, and brought me to a hospital. He didn’t ask any questions; I think he was just resigned to not wanting to know how it happened. The doctors asked their questions and whispered in the corner.

“Don’t know that he’ll recover…”

“Psych eval for sure, maybe the third floor has room…”

I got to talk to the shrink. She sounded calm, but what reason would she have not to? A newly-blinded man is probably not that much of a threat. She asked me how I was blinded, what I was doing so close to the scene of the explosion, why did I have explosive residue on my hands. I guess I gave her the answers she wanted, because after that she only asked one more question before she left me.

“Why? What were you thinking?”

“I’d rather die terrified than live forever. Wouldn’t you?”

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
I wouldn't mind a crit if you're offering. Thanks kindly.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
I'm putting my left foot (and my poo poo skills) IN.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

Echo and the Bunnymen’s screaming through your mind, “in starlit nights I saw you”, and you hum along despite your better judgement.

The text came in an hour ago. “Eclipse tonight, know anywhere good to watch it from?” You panicked and named the park where you work. There’s no good place to watch it from there, but you’re too new to town to know any actually good vantage points. “Eclipse party woo” comes back to your phone, sealing your fate.

They text you while you wait in the large shadow of an oak. You don’t read the message; you track them by the soft blue glow of their screen.

“You made it.” Your breath fogs the night air, and you’re glad you brought every blanket you could find.

“Yeah. This place is pretty nice. Where’s the best spot to watch this eclipse?”

You look around. For a park, there doesn’t seem to be that many great places to lay out and watch the sky. There’s a group off in the distance, stoking a bonfire, and you’d rather avoid them. Eventually, you settle for behind a building in a flat patch of grass and clover.

The blankets are out, and you’re both on them, curled up against each other, against the cold. Your hand is over their chest, and it moves with their words.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blood moon before. Have you?”

The phrase ‘blood moon’ hits your ears and you smile. “No, I don’t think so. They’re pretty rare I thought?”

“There’s supposed to be like four of them in the next year and a half or something crazy like that. I guess one time there were none for like 300 years, and now we get four? Probably global warming.” They laugh and you laugh with them, your chests trembling together in amusement.

Clouds trawl across the sky, briefly blocking the moon from sight. Your conversation winds from movies to musicals, touching back to the moon as it appears between wisps of cloud cover. The eclipse was supposed to start at 10, but it’s 11 now and you’re looking at an untouched moon. You wind together tighter, waiting for first contact.

It happens, a tiny sliver of red against the cold bright of the moon. The night seems warmer now, despite the shiver from the chest next to yours.

“Are you cold?”

“No, I’m fine. Okay, yeah. Come closer, you’re helping.”

Your face winds up against their neck, and their jugular throbs beneath your lips. You kiss their pulse, and they sigh. You kiss it again, and their grip on you tightens, sealing their fate.

They’re pinned beneath your soft weight now, hands in your hair, your lips still tracing their neck. Your tongue explores the outline, and their heart races below you. Gentle teeth nip at their collarbone, and they’re yours.

Their pulse is faster now, and your teeth are no longer gentle. You bite, hard, and you taste molten salt in your throat.

“Wait, that hurts. Hold up, just…”

You bite again, centered, and they’re quiet. Your tongue moves quickly, lapping the warm blood before the gaze of the moon can chill it.

The moon reaches greatest eclipse, and they’re beneath you, as white as the eclipse is red. You lick your lips and begin to roll the blankets you brought around them, their pale frame enveloped in microfleece. The river that runs behind this field swallows them readily, and the copper moon provides ample light for you to make your way back to the field.

Beneath the moon, you check the field for anything you may have missed. Your hip buzzes: another text.

“Are you seeing this? Check out the eclipse!”

You smile. Greatest eclipse is supposed to last for another hour, you think. You might as well keep the party going.

You sing quietly, “so cruelly you kissed me, your lips a magic world…”

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
Thanks for all the crits, I appreciate the time you all took to do them.

I've got time to do some crits if anyone would like one.

Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

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

The News at 5 posted:

I'll take one.

Still got some crits in me.


Starter Wiggin
Feb 1, 2009

Screw the enemy's gate man, I've got a fucking TAIL!
Do you know how crazy the ladies go for those?
You'll Catch Your Death
1063 words

“God, I hate being dead.”

Death rolled out of bed and glared at his calendar. Today was marked with balloon stickers and a big, red circle. It was his 40th ‘birthday’.

Thunder came from outside his doorway, tumbling up the stairs and spilling into his room as the door slammed open. “SURPRISE, DEAR! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” Fate yelled as she burst in.

His Auntie Fate was the only family Death had left. His dad had died when Death became of age, and his mother had run off with a life insurance salesman when he was very young. All he and his Auntie had left now were each other.

“Oh, do look dear, and see what Auntie has for your special day!” She pinched his zygomatics. He looked to the foot of the bed, and saw a long sheet of parchment.

“Is that what I think it is?” Death, for a moment, had forgotten his hatred of being dead and birthdays.

“Go on, look!” Her eye beamed with pride.

Death took the paper; it crinkled pleasantly between his phalanges. In beautiful calligraphy were listed ten names. “Ten? Really? Oh Auntie, you shouldn’t have!” Death thought he felt something welling up in his orbits, but it turned out to just be a worm.

“You’ve been working so hard dear, you deserve it.” She leaned down to hug him, his chest cavity against her beating heart.

Death couldn’t stop looking at the list, even after his Auntie had left. Ten whole names, all for him. He decided to start from the top.

“Get ready, Darren Blick. Happy ‘birthday’ to me.”


Nine names down, and Death was having the best birthday he could recall. Not many people enjoyed their jobs, but Death truly did. It must have been amazing, he thought, back before they divided Dying into regions, when one Death got to handle the world’s passings. Now he was lucky to get one name per week. He didn’t know how his Auntie could have saved ten names for him, but he was glad she had.

It was such a rush to take a life. Each name was different. Some of them, usually the old ones, were resigned and accepting. But the younger ones, the ones who had deemed themselves invincible, immortal, they were fun. His Auntie was truly amazing; none of his names had expected a thing.

Death got to the last name on his list.

“Alex Ramels.”

He followed his internal compass towards the name. He found himself at a public school playground, staring at a lone brunette boy in a sandbox. Alex couldn’t have been older than five, and he was small for his age to boot. He had a red plastic shovel in his hand, and was dejectedly shifting through the impure sand.

A blonde girl came running out of the classroom door towards Alex. “James, get in here! Teacher says you’re late!”

“It’s Alex.” Alex whispered, seemingly to himself.

“Whatever Jimmy, just come inside already! You’re making me miss snack!” She turned and ran back in, blonde curls streaming behind her.

Alex kept shifting the sand. It looked to Death like he was searching for something, any reason to not have to go inside. After a moment, he sighed, brushed the sand from his small legs, and made his way inside.


The playground was alive with children, running, screaming, bumping into each other and falling down. Death, however, kept his watch on Alex. He had made his way back to the sandbox, and was sitting alone, shifting through the grains again.

The bell rang and the grounds emptied, except for Alex.

Now’s my chance, thought Death, before that little blonde comes back for him.

Then Death was beside the sandbox, and he knelt.

“Hello, Alex.”

He turned. “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers, mister.”

“Well, if I introduced myself, then we wouldn’t be strangers anymore, would we?”

“I guess not…”
“Well then, my name is…” Death searched for a name. “Call me Morty.”

“Hi Morty. I’m Alex.”

“Hello. Now we’re not strangers.”

“That’s true. Wanna help me build a castle?” He gestured with his worn red shovel.

“OK. But after that, how about we go on an adventure?”

“To where, Morty?”

“Wherever you’d like to go.”

Alex thought for a moment. “Can we go someplace with sand?”

“Of course.”

Death knelt over the sandbox, shaping a turret from the damp granules.

“What’s your job, Morty? Why do you wear those big shadow robes?”

“Uh, well, I… I help people take trips, Alex. Wherever they want to go. Important trips.”

“And I get to go on one, too?”

“Yes, you do. Everyone gets a turn to go on these special trips. Some people get to go when they’re very young, like you. Some people have to wait until they’re old and yucky wrinkly.”

“That’s a cool job! I wanna do that when I get big, someday.”

Death stopped cold in the middle of digging his moat.

“When you get big?”

“Yeah! I wanna do your job, or maybe also be an astronaut, or a doggy doctor!”

Death had never regretted any moment, any facet of his job. He’d loved it since the day his father had passed the scythe to him and passed on. Alex was making things difficult.

“What would you do if you had my job? Where would you take people?”

“Oh, everywhere! My mom always talked about how pretty Hawai’i was, before she left with that man who sold her a real nice vacuum. Or we could go to a mountain with snow, or maybe swimming with some dolphins!”

Alex went on about the places he had seen in magazines and on TV, all the beautiful places he’d never get to experience.

A thought came to Death. He’d never married, much to his Auntie’s chagrin. He didn’t have anyone to take his place, and he had never wanted one. But Alex’s ideas of the beautiful places that the afterlife could be wheedled their way into his birthday-softened core.

“Alex, how would you like to have my job someday?”

“Really? I can take people on the cool trips too?”

“You can, but you don’t get to go on one yourself until you get old and yucky wrinkly.”

“That’s OK! Wow!”

They finished their castle, and made their way back to Death’s home. Alex had a lot to learn, as did Death.

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