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Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




In.

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Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




Global Connections
931 words


"Evening, Mitch." Craig settled into his desk, sipping some bland coffee. "You on the night shift?"

Mitchell looked up from his desk and sighed. He rubbed the bags under his eyes wearily. "Nah, nah, split shift. I'm on til 3."

"Ouch. Jen mad?"

"Nah, she gets it." He clicked through the posts idly, staring through the monitor. "What I can tell her, anyway. I think. You get an update yet?"

"That's why I'm here," Craig said. "Last I heard we were just getting up in Chongqing."

"poo poo, you're well out of date. It’s got bigger." He closed out of the live feed and brought up a map.

"So about three nights ago," Mitchell said, pointing around the center of China, "our work took in Chongqing and the surrounding metro. We started getting feedback from locals outside our network. Nothing too heavy, nothing exact, but..." He shrugged. "They would mention a couple elements, a couple aspects of it, add a '这是奇怪,' but nothing full on. Still more than we expected."

"That’s good, right? You don't sound happy."

"Well..." He paused. "Yeah. It started to get weird. Once we got the word, we pulled our accounts back to standard high-output, low-info poo poo. We expected the cycle to drop back, but..."

Mitchell trailed off and stared blankly ahead. The hum of the fluorescent lights filled the silence. Craig slid his chair closer. "It didn't?"

Mitchell rested his head in his hands and moaned. "It kept going, Craig. This stupid loving thing kept going."

"That's a good thing, right? If we got local memetic pickup in just a week, we can step up, right? Go national? Get the main messages going?"

"No, you don't... It's getting precise. They're coalescing around one dream. In the park, chased by dogs, dive into a pool, come up on a beach, and then they wake up. That wasn’t so bad. That was my template. At least that would have made sense." He clicked over to a log of entries. "Okay, this was last night."

Craig scanned over the weibo lists and felt a vague sense of dread. "被狗追... yeah..." he muttered, before pausing over a name. “习近平... Jesus Christ. How’d the president get in there?"

“I don’t loving know. Around 0400 local we started getting word from early risers. A few at first, but by 0600 it was all of them. They all end with staring down Xi Jinping. We didn’t do that. Any political poo poo we were going to do is, like, six months out, if that.”

“Did an agent skip ahead or something?”

"That would be better than what happened. It gets worse." Mitchell clicked over to another list. "Here's Baidu."

"We didn't do Baidu."

"I guess we loving did, because they're on there. Outside Chongqing, into Beijing and Tianjin. And here's what's the best," he said bitterly, calling up two posts on Twitter. The men stared at the text in silence.

"How's your Japanese, Craig?"

"Bad."

"Mine too. Which is why I was worried when Sue flagged this. She was working on monitoring the Diet elections, and saw these.”

“How did it get outside China?”

“It's Shinzo Abe instead, but... poo poo, that's worse than if it were Xi Jinping. It's adapting, goddammit."

“How did it get outside China,” he repeated. Craig ran a hand through his hair. "It can't do that."

"You wanna--" He dropped his vote to a near-whisper. "You wanna bet? We turned off the tap, we stopped planting the seeds, and it's still going. It's spreading. It’s... I don’t know. If it gets Statesside do you realize the level of poo poo we're in? Good intentions ain't poo poo when we're doing work on Americans."

"gently caress."

Mitchell leaned back and put a hand on his head. "gently caress is right."

Another post was flagged up by the algorithms. Shanghai. The analysts let it wash over them. Craig broke the silence. "We can't do the next stage, can we?"

"poo poo no. China is one thing, but... We're dicking with people's minds here. I don't know where this president poo poo came from. If this keeps changing and keeps going...” Mitch sank his head. “I don’t know what I did. This is my gently caress-up.”

“Look,” Craig reassured, “when you’re dealing with what we do, you think everything is your fault— ”

“It is my fault.”

“It’s not.”

“I had the dream.”

“You—” Craig blinked. “All of it?”

“Two weeks ago. That’s what I planned it off of.”

“Jesus.”

“When I put in the proposal, it was just ‘til the beach. I knew it’d be a real enough dream, and it would be distinct enough for us to flag, but...” Mitchell broke down. “It changed last week. President showed up.”

“After we finalized the plan?” Ping. Macau.

“Couple nights after, the president gets shot.”

“What?”

“Couple nights later, I’m the one shooting him.” Mitchell stared blankly through the monitor, on the verge of tears. “And then we started getting these hits, and... I don’t want to know what happens next. I haven’t slept.”

Craig tentatively put a hand on Mitchell’s back. “Have... have you told upstairs?”

Mitchell turned. “Would you? You gently caress up this bad, you see what’s happening, you see it’s out of your control... It’s about deniability at this point, right? You see what’s coming. What the gently caress can I do?” He sobbed. “What the gently caress have I done?” Ping. Macau again. Different person, same story.

The two watched the posts come in.

Ping. Hong Kong.

Ping. Tokyo.

Ping. Seoul.

Ping.

Ping.

Ping.

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




Been lax on this. Gonna have time to kill over the weekend, so I'm in.

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




I've tried two different stories, neither of them are any good. I might miss this round.

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




Schneider Heim posted:

You pick one and cannibalize the other. Come on, there's still time left!

I'll give you a line-by-line if you submit.

There's also the problem that if I submit, I'm guaranteed to lose, because it turns out that I don't know how to write a horror story and instead wrote a lovely sorta crime scene.

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




It Will Soon Pass, Celebrate It

1,108 words - inspiration here

... I give you my phone number, when you worry call me, I—

The whistling stopped.

He saw the room light up through his blindfold, his eyelids easing open once more. The first time they slipped his blinder off, he frantically tried to gather as much information as he could—cinderblock walls, concrete floor, steel door to his right, a single humming fluorescent light, eight by eight, maybe. Not much he could do handcuffed to the floor. The second time, nothing had changed. He had low hopes for the third.

Someone yanked the headphones off, and the hollow silence of the cell filled his ears once more. His head desperately wanted to loll back and sleep, but the taser burn on his neck made moving excruciating. His captor tore the cloth from his face, and his eyes readjusted. She squat down in front of him, her eyes piercing through her balaclava. She had changed vests—black, not tan. Same camo outfit otherwise. Same dead, brown-eyed stare.

“Money.” She didn’t phrase it like a question anymore, but as a rote statement, a hint of disappointment underlying the southern drawl. He tried to sputter a response, an apology, an anything, but choked on his words.

She settled down in front of him with a heavy sigh, resting her forearms on her knees. “It’s very old-school, this loyalty. I get it. You don’t want to sell them out.

“But this—look at me.” She pulled his chin up, her finger sticking slightly to the string of drool running down his neck. “This is over. There’s no one left to sell. Rose is dead, and Gregory’s on life support. Consider it a happy miracle for both of us that you’re not in there with them. Whether you stay that way is completely up to you. Where is the money?”

He weakly slurred a response. “Iunno.”

“Horseshit. We’ve got you on camera punching in the transfer codes.”

A tear traced a well-worn path down his cheek. He didn’t remember. He didn’t think he remembered. “Please...”

She sighed, and rubbed the bridge of her nose through the fabric. “Right,” she said. She took a small radio from her vest pocket and raised it to her lips. “Kilo for Charlie.”

A pause, then static. “Go ahead, Kilo.”

“Charlie, get the secondary ready. Over.”

“Roger, Kilo. Out.”

Kilo clicked the radio off and set it down between the two of them, then resumed her staredown. His eyes sank in exhaustion.

“Oh, come on,” she sighed. “No curiosity? Not even a little?”

He shook his head weakly. She leaned back.

“Up until now, you’ve been on the primary program. Official and proper and legal and poo poo. Documented. Secondary program...” She shrugged. “How long do you think you’ve been here?”

His head drooped. He had been counting—trying to count—how many times the song repeated. He couldn’t remember when he had stopped. He couldn’t remember when it had started.

“We’re coming up on the legal limit. poo poo, old days, we’d just shove you in a box, blast some Metallica, and wait for you to either confess or brain yourself against the wall. New rules say we can’t do that, don’t worry.” She grinned. “So be happy.”

He winced and dragged his head up. “gently caress you.” She got some sort of sick pleasure out of this.

“A lot of this,” she continued, “is for your benefit, you know? At the end of primary, we can dump you somewhere alive, because you don’t know poo poo.” She ran a finger under the hem of her mask, stretching it a little. “You don’t know what we look like, we don’t leave any marks—permanent ones, anyway. We get what we want, you get back to... normal-ish.

“Now, that’s all if you cooperate. If you don’t... Secondary program isn’t really a program, per se. Not an official one. Secondary program says you were dead on arrival. Then we get our guys to really go to work on you. We can’t use it too much, or the boys upstairs ask questions.”

“Please...” He sobbed. “You need to believe me.”

“It’s an honor, really, that we’d burn it on you. You’ve got...” She clicked her tongue. “Not long. I’d get to thinking.”

She picked up the radio, slipped it into her vest pocket, then pat him on the cheek. She tied the blindfold over his eyes once more, cinching it tight. He felt her put the headphones on again, and the outside world muffled itself.

“Next time I come back,” he heard, shouted through the thick plastic cups, “I come back with friends. You’ll get one more chance.”

He hung his head and winced. The one job he hosed up, the one time he hosed up typing the codes, the one time he had no idea where the money went, and they get busted. They wouldn’t believe him. They’d kill him. They’d make him wish they would kill him.

Kilo gave him one last look before she swung open the door. She shut the door behind her, and took her mask off. Rose ran her fingers through her hair, feeling sick. “Jesus,” she said softly, leaning back against the cold steel.

Gregory rested a hand on her shoulder. “You okay?”

Rose waved him off and tried to compose herself. “Fine,” she said, dropping her drawl. “It’s just harder than I thought it was gonna be.”

“It needs to be done,” Greg reminded her. “We can’t let him get away with what he did.”

“I know, I know.” She shook his hand off and sat on the floor, her back resting against the makeshift cell wall.

Part of her wanted to check the account again. She knew it would be empty. Three years of working together, gone in one betrayal. She tried to shake the good times she had with the man in the cell. The work they did. The money they took. The nights they shared.

Greg fished out his iPhone and resumed the single-song loop. The two heard their former friend groan beyond the door, then sob.

“How long until someone knows he’s gone?”

Greg rubbed his eyes and sank down next to her. “Couple days, tops.”

“Greg, if this doesn’t work...” Rose stared straight ahead. “When the time comes, I want to be the one to do it. I owe him that much.”

“You don’t owe him poo poo,” he said.

She rest her head against the wall, a single tear rolling down her cheek. “I owe him that much.”

---

Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style / Ain’t got no girl to make you smile

But don’t worry

Be happy

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




Kaishai posted:

The valiant don't declare defeat. The valiant finish up and submit, though they may be late and disqualified, though the chance of loss remains after hope of victory has fled.

Only stuff that makes it in on time is eligible to win (late entries can lose; that's the risk you run), but I'll critique all stories submitted within twenty-four hours of the deadline.

Schneider Heim posted:

You pick one and cannibalize the other. Come on, there's still time left!

I'll give you a line-by-line if you submit.

You two are bad influences. If I lose I'm blaming myself first and then myself second and then I'm gonna poke at you two for a while going "you're a bad influence, you is" in a rubbish cockney accent.

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




In.

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




Caeci Proditione – 831 words

What haunts me most is that I said nothing until it was far too late to say anything at all.

The boy had come to me for planning. He had heard of the blind scribe in the king's court, a still-trusted advisor who listened to the cries for change. He sought some sort of revenge-- his father killed in battle, his mother worked to the bone, his family suffering under the yoke of the royal's rule. When his mother passed and he was by himself, he sought to remedy the slights to his family.

Maybe I was exploitative. I nurtured his fantasies, fed his desires. I told him the layout of the inner sanctum-- a layout I had paced out countless times in the decades of service. I dictated the king's schedule, dawn to dusk, as he clattered about the stonework, barking orders and condemning men.

It has been a long time coming. The king's magnificent failings. His fruitless meetings with the colonels for years now, dismissing every report of a massacre with a soft, petulant scoff. His failure to issue an heir-- or, considering his constant scent of sex and rotating cadre of whores, a legitimate one. His brusque disdain led to an exodus from the court, as wiser voices fled to other realms. Before long those he trusted still could be counted in one breath.

I gave him the opening and distracted the king. An innocent fib to bring him to a secluded location-- an excuse to isolate him in his study. I had thought there would be no resistance, that he would be in and out in a moment, taking the king's final breath.

Except for the personal royal guard. Lord, I had not known about the guard. How many times had I brushed by one? How often had I thought them a decoration, or a visitor? Their silence and stillness was my downfall. The boy had barely time to silence the king before he was seized and sealed deep below the castle's depths. His cries of defiance still haunt me, interspersed with the faint, whimpering gurgling of the tyrant.

I visited him once, under the guise of praying for his salvation. His voice crackling, his spirit dimmed. He never mentioned my complicity. I sat with him, comforting him, preparing him for what was to come. Over the hours his voice steadied, steeled in acceptance of his fate. I said a prayer with him, held his cheek, and kissed his forehead. He had saved the realm at great cost.

The new king, the uncle of the tyrant, showed little mercy. A more competent man than his nephew, his decree was just but harsh. The boy faced the block within days.

I owed it to him to be there. I had fed this desire of his, then tossed him to the wolves. I stayed in the courtyard, standing before the block for hours prior to the execution. Praying for my lost liege, I fabricated. The whispers of passers-by termed it loyalty. With the events of the day, they would never know different.

With minutes to go, they brought him to the platform. The executioner bellowed out his name and his crime, now one and the same: regicide. The clambering on stage and the thump of knees on wood told me the end was near. He was surely staring at me. I would be the last he saw. I couldn't summon the courage to ask forgiveness for involving him, for using him as a coward would. The bustle of the crowd around me would mask my words; I would remain hidden, my role in the conspiracy obscured with his death. I opened my mouth to say something, anything, asking his forgiveness.

I felt the spray. The smell of the royal coffers and its thousands of coppers flooded me; the bitter, steely taste of my former ally stuck to my mind. The crowd roared around me. One of my last friends in the court took my arm and whispered a plea in my ear, urging that I tidy up and wash the traitor from my skin.

That acrid, stinging scent stayed with me for days, weeks, months. The finest meals and the strongest ales could not shake it-- a constant reminder of my deed, injected into my mind.

One day, when it had nearly faded, and when my guilt was washed away, the king rested his heavy hand on my shoulder, digging the royal rings into my shoulder to make his presence known. He thanked me for the guidance, my loyalty to the crown. He offered me an old title of the long-dead king, an earldom within the capital walls that had fallen into disuse. I smiled and nodded and gave all the signals of gratitude. I could not hide the guilt, the loathing in my intonation.

He didn't notice it. Nobody noticed my sorrow. Nobody noticed the roars of the crowd. Nobody noticed the scent of blood lingering around me.

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




Eh, why not. I'm in.

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




crabrock posted:

Thanks Helms

While I'm thinking about it what's the legend on the roster screen you put up? The dots and colors and stuff.

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




Number 7 Combo -- 98 words

Ooh, Gau, you think you're so big? I eat punks like you for breakfast. Literally! You know what I did this morning? I went to the Chinese food place on the corner, talked to Mr. Ming-- nice guy, glad he's doin' well-- and I said "I want some General Gau's Chicken." He says "it's only eight in the morning!" And I said "you're goddamned right Ming, I want to start my day eating some mediocre writing with a side of fried rice." It gave me digestive problems all day, but it was worth it, because gently caress you Gau.

Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




Tempter -- 83 words

Crabrock, oh crabrock. You posted in the Boston thread and said, "try it, it's fun, you'll be a better writer!" Your siren song drew me in, away from the tacos, cycling, and Moxie to the gnashing of teeth and wailing of men. Like I don't have enough stress in my life with a tumor and poor job prospects and a crippling sense that I am dying alone? Meet me on Lansdowne and let's throw down. Then let's find conquistador and gently caress him up.

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Teddybear
May 16, 2009

Look! A teddybear doll!
It's soooo cute!




Some family poo poo's come up-- I'm out this week, sorry. :smith:

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