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Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



If I regret this, I will personally murder each and every person in this thread whose username is magnificent7.

Give me a prompt, Ser Tyranno.

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Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



magnificent7 posted:

WTF did I put in your rear end?

You're the only one whose name I remembered. I am very upset about the baka gaijin ruining Kurosawa-sama's epic masterpiece, 七人の侍, by setting it in America with western actors, and your username reminds me of this disgusting slight towards the chrysanthemum majesty of Nipponese cinema.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Are you kidding? Anime? Westerns? My raging, throbbing erection?

Just according to keikaku.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.





For Every Moment of Truth, There's Confusion in Life
1,058 words

     It was inevitable my parents would find out what happened to their daughter. So I decided to tell them.

     “Hi, Lindsey,” my dad said over Skype. I had been away from home for two years and I had changed a lot. Dad still looked the same. Salt-and-pepper high-and-tight, collared short-sleeved button-down tucked into his khakis over a beer gut, and a bright red, cherubic face. “How’s school?”

     “School’s okay. Exams are coming up, but I’m dealing.”

     “That’s good. You look stressed, that’s for sure. Getting plenty of sleep?” I said I was, and lied about staying away from coffee shops. Starbucks and I had become best of friends once more, but he didn’t need to know that.

     “So what did you want to talk about, that a phone call wasn’t good enough?”

     “Is Mom there? It’s important.”

     He nodded. “Yeah, sure. Give me a second.” He left the camera’s view. Even if you were a room apart, Dad always went looking. He never shouted, even when it made sense. He came back. “She’s just putting on the roast.” I missed my mom’s roast. She knew exactly how to season meat, and just how long to cook it. A skill I found myself lacking.

     Mom joined him, the view shifting to get both of them in frame. She wore a green coverall, and I figured she’d been out in the garden again, probably picking sweet peas. It was the right time of year for sweet peas.

     “Hi, sweetie!” Mom waved. I waved back. “You cut your hair again?”

     “I don’t like it long. It gets messy easy.”

     “That’s why you wash it. You look good with long hair. You should grow it out again, like in Girl Guides. All the other girls were jealous of you.”

     “Denise,” my dad muttered, “Stop badgering her about her drat hair.”

     Mom threw her hands up in mock defeat. “Fine, fine. I won’t ‘badger’ her.” Mom’s own hair was locked into the enormous curls Farrah Fawcett had made famous. She had an agenda, clearly. “But you do look gorgeous with long hair.”

     I rolled my eyes and sighed, giving her the reaction she sought. “Mom…”

     “So, what’s the big news, sweetie? Finally got a new lady in your life?” Mom’s eyes twinkled in an eerily hungry way, and her mouth split into a too-wide toothy smile. She tried to be accepting of my life, I knew. It had been hard at first, especially with how Desiree and I ended. Neither one of them knew what to do about it. How could they? But I knew it was about to get a lot harder.

     “Not exactly,” I said. Somewhere in my chest, a marching band’s percussion section tried to pull off a jazz solo. “You remember when I told you I was a Satanist? I mean, I brought Desiree home from prom and sacrificed her to the Dark Lord, Beelzebub, so it’d be hard to forget.”

     Mom’s smile became painfully wide, like her face was fleeing her teeth in a panic. Dad nodded, his red forehead developing white lines as he concentrated. “And we’ve been as supportive as possible with your lifestyle choice, honey. What’s going on?” she asked.

     “Well, I’ve come to an important realization, a fundamental turning point in my life. I’m, um…” Anti-Christ, who turned up the heat in here? Sweat poured down my back.

     “I’m actually a cannibal Satanist. And I always have been, if you really want to know.”

     Complete silence. I thought the connection glitched out, the picture was so still.

     Mom exploded. “What the gently caress is that even supposed to mean? You’re a cannibal Satanist? You’re my daughter, how can you be a cannibal Satanist?”

     I tried to explain, to tell them how I’d felt for years, that I wasn’t a worshipper of the Prince of Lies like I expected to be, like I thought I should have been. How I’d felt about other worshippers, how I thought about smothering their succulent flesh in chocolate or sri racha, and thought that meant I was somehow wrong. Cannibalism just wasn’t something for civilized folk, even ones who otherwise plumbed the depths of human depravity! Now I knew differently. But she was too busy flipping out to listen.

     “I knew I shouldn’t have breastfed her, I knew it! She’s all confused because she got a mouthful of boobies everyday for years!” Dad stared at her like she was a stranger. “My mother told me to use formula, but what did I do? I told her to mind her business because this was my baby, not hers. And now my baby thinks she’s a cannibal, oh my God. Lindsey, is this a joke? Are you trying to, what, to ‘own’ me? Trying to hurt me? Just stop this now. Didn’t I love you enough? I figured the Satanist thing was just, just a thing, that you’d get over it,” and she just kept going. And going. So I tuned her out.

     Dad sat in silence, his chronically red face having faded to a more normal colour. He didn’t react, he just sat beside my mom as she went nuclear, and thought.

     Eventually, Mom realized neither one of us was contributing to the conversation, that it was just her freaking out for nearly ten minutes. Her eyes were wide enough to see white on all sides. She turned on my dad. “Well? What do you have to say about this delusion our daughter is having?”

     Dad looked up from his ponder, his forehead wrinkled with deep thoughts. “I don’t claim to understand this, honey. I guess I figured you were sacrificing children to be cool or to make us mad, like when I listened to the Bay City Rollers growing up, and that you’d grow out of it. But time went on and I could tell that forging unholy blood pacts with demons from beyond the realms of sanity really made you happy.”

     Then he smiled, and I knew it was okay.

     “We never told you this, Lindsey, but you weren’t an only child. You had a twin, when you were still in the womb. But it died, and you absorbed his or her cells. I guess what I’m trying to say is… we knew you were a cannibal before you did.”

     If Dad was making dumb jokes, it was okay.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Uh, sorry if those indents I did make it lovely to wade through when lobbing critiques or whatever. I thought it would make it look nice, but didn't really think about how it would be to quote

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



sebmojo posted:

You don't need to do this.

Don't apologize? I'm Canadian, good ser, I have no choice, sorry.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Tyrannosaurus posted:

I LIKE SIRENS ALSO HERE ARE SOME CRITS 4 TD XCVI

If I don't take breaks between in depth crits I start to go crazy. If you don't see your crit here its because I haven't finished it. Don't panic. It's coming.

Come on. I got specifically shat on and I'm still waiting patiently. You can, too.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



sebmojo posted:

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY BRAWL

The Enemy Awaits at Salty Springs!
(592 words)

“You cur! You dare to rustle my cattle?” O’Malley slammed the man against the slatboard wall, splintering several boards. “Tell me where your honorless companions have gone!”

The rustler laughed, his face a ruin. “It’s too late, you cannot stop my boss’ destiny. He will own every ranch from el Paso to Salt Lake City within months.”

“Miserable dog!” Fergus O’Malley punched the poacher through the wall, forty feet into the dusty, sunlit yard. He leapt out the hole and stood over the poacher as the dust cleared.

Farmhands threw themselves to the ground, pressing their foreheads against it. “Mr. O’Malley!” they cried out together.

O’Malley pressed his heel into the poacher’s throat. “Where?”

“I’ll never tell.”

The huge Irishman knelt, spoke softly in the man’s ear, then pressed two fingers against his neck. The rustler went stiff, blood exploding from his nose and mouth. “Salty Springs! Salty Springs!”

He died shortly thereafter.

* * *

O’Malley drew up his horse. Salty Springs was over the rise. He had ridden hard, and his throat felt coated with half the dust from the roads behind. He raised his canteen to drink. A glint from the midday hills had him diving sideways. His horse screamed, dead before the noise of the shot arrived.

He found sanctuary behind a rock. A second shot hit by his foot. They knew he was here. But maybe he could fight his way out.

“Ah-ah-ah. Put the piece down, dude.” A man in black had appeared before him, a rifle trained on O’Malley. The sniper! O’Malley dropped his revolver. “Get up.”

“Congressman Leibowitz. You are the one who rustled my cattle,” the Irishman stated.

“Those cows belong to me now, punk. If you’ve got any sense, you’ll belong to me, too. My destiny is greater than any man. I’ll be Governor someday, then President after that.”

Such arrogance! Such audacity! “You are less than a dog, unfit to eat the filth from my chamberpot,” O’Malley said as he clenched his fists, his arms rippling with thick cords of muscle.

Leibowitz’s face darkened with rage. “Less than a dog, am I?” He cast aside the rifle and drew a long, serrated knife. “I warn you, I have been taught in the thousand-year tradition of Filipino combat. Walk away and trouble me no further. There is no shame in being outclassed.”

A stony, unyielding glare was O’Malley’s reply.

Leibowitz struck, blade flashing. Blood appeared on O’Malley’s chest. “You didn’t even try to dodge!”

“I don’t need to. You have already lost.”

“You’re a fool!” Leibowitz lunged, the knife seeking celtic heart. The Irishman vanished and the Congressman overbalanced.

“Your thousand-year-old techniques are the swings of an infant compared to the two-thousand-year lineage of Dagda’s Fist!”

O’Malley appeared at arm’s length, surprising the man. “Teicníocht! Seacht Réaltaí Bás!” He struck the Congressman, fists moving invisibly, the seventh blow so powerful it blew a hundred-yard cone from the dessicated earth behind Leibowitz.

“No. This isn’t happening,” Leibowitz sank to his knees, veins bulging on his face. “I have a destiny!”

“Your destiny was set once you rustled those cattle. From that moment, you were already dead.” O’Malley walked away and did not look back.

* * *

A week later, O’Malley returned home, having driven the cattle alone.

“Fergus! You’re back!” Brianna embraced her brother. “What’s wrong? Those marks…”

In the dust covering his face, two clean tracks marked his solemn cheeks.

“I met a man on the road. He taught me about destiny,” O’Malley said, his eyes watering at the sunset before him. “I taught him about hubris.”

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



I'll take a prompt, as well.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Sebmojo, please empty your PMs.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Slowly Learning
(Song: "Take On Me")
(1160 words)

“Ekuj. Hadzukah. Zbarhu.”

The words swam through its consciousness. The sleeper rose through the absence beneath reality.

“Stop reading that stuff. It’s creeping me out.”

There was light above, murky and tinged with dark colours. It knew of this light, had heard of it before.

“Seriously? Come on, babe, it’s just dumb bullshit. Nonsense words in a notebook someone left here.”

“Yeah, Leah, chill out. Maybe it’s some conspiracy nut’s coded grocery list. Eggs and milk and bread and bacon.”

The sleeper’s ascent slowed. The surface tension would not allow it to pass. Soon, it would begin the long drift back to rest.

“poo poo, I could go for some bacon now. You brought some, right?”

“Sorry, man. Tell you what, I’m gonna go back to town and get some. We need more beer anyway.”

“Marvens, seriously, stop. Can we just put on a movie before dinner? This cabin’s creepy enough, I don’t really need you incanting in Latin or whatever.”

“It isn’t Latin. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not Latin. Does ‘Femshinmu rourgyu’ sound Latin to you?”

Femshinmu. Rourgyu. The waters parted and the sleeper awoke, eager to discover the world above.

***

“Well, I don’t know what Latin sounds like. I’m not the medical student here.” Leah sulked by the fireplace. When they pulled up that afternoon, it had been sunny and warm. Now it was storming and cold, and the old cabin had sprung a leak. A puddle spread slowly by the window.

Marvens sat beside her, putting his arm around her shoulders. “Hey, you okay? This isn’t really about what I was reading, huh? You having second thoughts?”

“No. My dad’s going to be pissed, but he’ll get over it. Probably.” Probably not.

Leah would have said more, but a loud noise outside stopped her. There was silence, then screaming. Marvens lurched to his feet. “What the gently caress?” He ran to the door and flung it open, the wind slashing him with rain.

“Jeffrey! You okay?” He stepped out in the rain. The truck’s headlights lit the porch. “Jeff, what’s going on, man?”

Lightning flashed and Marvens was gone. Then darkness flooded into the cabin, racing towards her. The stench of rotting vegetation, salt, and mildew filled her nostrils. The thing flowed over the couch and stopped inches from her. The inky mass shifted constantly in the firelight. It had no limbs, only tendrils and pseudopods. She could feel its gaze crawling over her body, and yet it had no eyes. She felt studied, like a microbe in a microscope.

She sat rooted in fear. It reared up like a breaking wave. A deafening flash boomed and the thing broke away, flowing into the shadows. Marvens stood in the doorway, a long-barrelled shotgun in his hands. His face was ashen, his eyes wide.

Leah ran and embraced him. He shied away, favouring his left leg. “You okay?” she asked. He grunted and asked “Did you see where it went?” She shook her head.

***

The sleeper swam in the shadows between the walls, a piece of home in this distant place. It was in agony. A dozen holes burned in its body, fragments of metal driven into it. Why? It hadn’t done anything.

“What the hell was that?” This was the one who had hurt it. It had pushed that one aside to come in and explore this place, but was that worth harming the sleeper? Were these static things so violent and hurtful?

“Get in the truck. We need to leave.” The hurtful one.

“What about Jeffrey? Was he out there?” The other. The smaller one. The sleeper didn’t feel such resentment for this one. It hadn’t lashed out! All the sleeper wanted was to understand. To know.

“I don’t know, I didn’t see him.”

“I don’t want to leave him here with that thing. We have to find him. What if he’s hurt?”

“I said I don’t loving know! Goddamn it, Leah, just get your rear end in the truck! We’re leaving.” The hurtful one grabbed the other and shoved it out into the dark. It fell and made a loud, keening noise.

“If you want to leave so loving bad, then just go! He’s your brother, why don’t you want to even try?”

“I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m not running around in a forest all night while some thing stalks me. Better to be safe than sorry. Or dead.” The hurtful one staggered towards the thrumming box. “Now get your rear end in here or I’ll leave without you, too.”

The smaller one made loud noises at the hurtful one, hitting it with its limbs. The hurtful one projected water at the smaller, then climbed into the noisy box.

The sleeper, a self-proclaimed intelligent being, felt these were, too. Should similar entities not live in harmony? Different ones coming to impasses was understandable, though regrettable. But the hurtful one and the smaller one were similar with their disturbingly static arrangements. Perhaps it should study them. But how? They reacted poorly to the sleeper’s appearance. Perhaps a disguise...

***

The truck tore off into the rainy night. Leah felt a cold dread sink within her stomach.

A branch snapped. Her heart pounded in her ears. She saw movement in the woods and the dread bloomed, running down her veins like ice-water. It was a man. “Jeffrey!” Relief washed over her and she ran to him, throwing her arms around him and laughing.

“You’re okay! I thought I heard you scream and then this thing was in the cabin and,” she trailed off. The odour of rotting marine life invaded her senses. Leah looked into Jeffrey’s face. It was blank and pallid and thin rivulets of glossy black liquid ran from his eyes, ears, and nose. One eye had hemorrhaged and pointed in a different direction than the one fixed on her. Jeffrey’s mouth twitched and opened wide. He rasped a hollow wheeze and raised his arms akimbo.

Leah screamed, kicking and shoving at the corpse. She broke free and pushed Jeffrey back. He stumbled away and tripped over his own feet. His head struck the stairs and burst open like a ripe gourd, glossy black pseudopodia writhing in the night.

***

The sleeper watched the smaller one ambulate at speed into the collection of vertical poles. It hoped the smaller one would be safe, as it was dark and these static beings were curiously inept in the darkness.

It extricated itself from the body of the smoke-smelling one and returned to the enclosure, resting by the open fire. It was pleasantly warm here. Perhaps this fire was what brought the beings to this place. Not much warmth from whence the sleeper came. Not much of anything.

As the sleeper drifted back to sleep and felt the waters of home lapping over it, it reflected that this experience would make a hell of a story. Needless to say, the others would never believe it.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



crabrock posted:

500 words describing the shaft of a howitzer

Oooh, yeah. Talk dirty to me

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Hi, Tyrannosaurus. I'll play along this week.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Just to be overwhelmingly clear, the bingo aspect demands we use all five spots in any otherwise legal bingo line? So no bending around corners, no zig-zags, only the kinds of lines which my granna would use to win a gift certificate to IHOP?

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



To Steal from Olympus
1194 words

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



You have my sword axe bow goat.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

If you submitted in Week 98 (helpful link: http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?week=98) then here is your chance to get a slightly less-late crit.

I'll take a Week 98 crit, please. You can PM it to me if it's easier for you, whatever.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas
1180 words.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



The brawltlefield has always had meaning, for those brave enough to seek it. Only through glorious combat can soldiers find their destiny.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Gimme something opaque, Kaishine.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



A Heart of Broken Glass
1385 words

(774 Holography)

Thirty-five floors up the Nugent Pharma spire, Geraint opened a door into darkness. This should have been a cake walk, he thought, make a pick-up and leave. So why did the place look abandoned? Crouching, he waddled forth, keenly aware there was no one on his left to cover him. He’d had long enough to get used to not having a partner, yet the expectation remained.

Mysterious forms loomed out of the darkness. His veins thrummed with adrenaline as his eyes struggled to pierce the shadows. No good. He tapped his visor, which projected 3D wireframes directly onto his retinas. The edges of objects leapt forth. Cubicle walls and office detritus. The knot between his shoulder blades relaxed.

A man’s leg laid on the floor ahead, severed cleanly at the knee. The foot still wore its expensive leather shoe. A streak of blood lead away. Its former owner, he surmised, must have dragged himself away. He touched the blood. It was still tacky. Fresh.

Standing, Geraint noticed a gouge curving around the site, up the walls, across the floor, even a faint line on the ceiling. Looked like a razorwhip. Bad news. Only the hardest, or craziest, carried those. His right palm itched. An impossible itch, considering a razorwhip lopped off his arm at the elbow a quarter-century earlier. Augmetics don’t itch.

He produced from his pocket a matte black sphere the size of a golfball. He muttered “Malika, come.” The sphere lit up and drifted out of his palm. Projectors energized. The translucent form of a German Shephard shimmered into being. The holohound chimed in greeting.

"Good girl," he said. He pointed to the leg. “Malika, identify.” The holohound sniffed at the limb. She chimed. “Malika, go search.” She began wandering the halls of the cubicle farm, holographic nose to the floor. It was silly. The nose detected nothing, just as his arm felt nothing. And yet, in both cases, the cause was the same. He missed his arm, and Malika’s brain missed her whole body.

Eventually, the hound pinged him. He found Malika sitting by the rest of the unfortunate limb donor. The man had clearly been already bleeding to death from the leg stump, but his flensed chest told the story of a second encounter.

"Mysteriously dismembered corpses. I wonder what else Montoya forgot to mention about this simple errand, eh, girl?" He scratched Malika between the ears, magenta sparks crackling up his augmetic fingertips. She didn’t necessarily know she wasn’t a dog anymore, and sometimes he forgot, too.

The holohound flickered into a guard stance, her luminous form changing from purple to crimson. With no time for thought, Geraint's reflexes flung him into a roll. He twisted as he went, unholstering his sidearm. The floor where he had crouched split, the same slash bisecting the guard’s corpse. Geraint pulled the trigger, his instincts directing his aim. The gun clicked. The end was shorn off, shiny metal gleaming in the dim light. He was had. The pit of his stomach fell thirty-odd floors to the ground.

"Geraint?"

A hand lamp lit the area. Through the glare, he could make out asymmetric tamer’s armour. It was a woman he knew well. He sighed.

"Hey, Tabitha."

After a moment which felt hours-long, she stuck out a hand. He took it and got to his feet. "Didn't think I'd see you again," she said. Malika's transparent body flashed slowly between red and white, a warning display to compliment her aggressive posture.

"Malika, friend. Recognize Tabitha Davis." The holohound chimed and resumed her purple colouration, taking a seat two steps to his left.

"Only a matter of time, I suppose. Same line of work and all. Speaking of, I see your work ethic hasn’t changed.” He nudged the corpse with his toe.

She snorted. "You here for the Ventimiglio girl?"

"I’m here to pick up a package. Which, yeah, happens to be a nine-year-old girl. You?"

Tabitha stowed the razorwhip on her hip. "I saw that contract. Pay wasn't very good."

"It's not about the money, Tabs. It never was."

"Idealism? Well, come on, then. I'm here for her, too."

“I thought the pay wasn’t very good.”

“It wasn’t the only contract.”

“Someone else wants this girl? That’s comforting,” he muttered.

They walked through the dark office. No one rushed forth to oppose them. Geraint’s missing palm itched. Some people felt rain in their bones. Geraint felt bad luck in his phantom limb.

Tabitha jerked a thumb towards Malika. "How long are you going to keep that poor mutt as a brain in a jar?"

Malika followed a few paces behind them. Her tail wagged back and forth, electric thrumming in the air. "I love that dog."

Tabitha scoffed. "When the hell did you get so sentimental? You should let her go. Move on. This isn't healthy."

Geraint affected a casual friendliness. "I'm stubborn. Maybe you noticed during all those years together? Speaking of, I got a question for you."

"I know what you want to ask, and you don't want the answer. Let's just get that girl and go our separate ways."

"You never change, do you? Just push everyone away. You bought me that dog, Tabs. You even named her, for God's sake."

"People in our line of work shouldn't get close. It was a mistake to get involved, Geraint. You know that, right?"

"Why did you leave like that? No note, no goodbye, you just weren't there one morning. You broke my goddamn heart, Tabs."

Tabitha’s face was unreadable as she kicked open a stairwell door and plodded up the stairs. He knew running into his ex-wife would be awkward. In his heart, long a furnace of anger, he found only a cold, empty pit.

After a while, Geraint followed her up the stairs, Malika at his heels. Above, the chatter of gunfire and screams. The sound of Tabitha's razorwhip carving through walls and bones set his nerves on edge.

She was waiting on the fortieth floor. A dead man fell from her hands. "Do you remember that job in Tacoma?" She didn't face him.

"I do," he said.

"I lost a lot of blood. I wasn't thinking straight. You shouldn’t’ve said yes."

"I was in love, what else could I have said?"

Her shoulders rose and fell in a silent deep breath. "The girl’s room is up ahead. A4013. Take her home."

"Home to her poorly-paying family? When the hell did you get so sentimental?"

"I didn't want you get hurt, Geraint. That's why I left." She turned to face him. "We were better partners than we were married. It should have stayed that way."

She gave him an awkward, perfunctory hug and passed him a keycard before vanishing into the depths of the stairwell. The air in the hall was very dusty. Geraint rubbed at his eyes until the irritation went away.

He used the card on its door. A young girl lay on a bed within a medical shroud, tubes and leads hooked up to her. He pulled the curtain aside.

"Hi, doggy," she said, smiling at Malika. The purple holohound trotted up and allowed the girl to pet her. She giggled at the static crawling up her fingers.

"You like doggies, huh? Me, too." He began disconnecting tubes from the girl. "Are you Regina?"

"Yes, sir."

"That's a nice name."

"No, it’s not. I hate it. It sounds dumb."

"It sounds very pretty. Do you know what Regina means?" The girl shook her head. "Regina is Latin for Queen. My dog here, her name is Arabic for Queen. Malika, play cute."

The holohound chimed and shrunk, becoming a small puppy. Geraint scooped the puppy up and gave it to the girl, picking them both up.

"I like her, mister," she whispered. "I always wanted a dog of my own."

Geraint held the girl close as he walked her to the elevators. "Well, Malika here is a good dog. She's brave and strong and she'll never leave your side unless you tell her to."

"Never ever?"

"Never ever. You don’t have to feed holopups, all you have to do is play with her and give her pets. Can you do that for me?"

"Uh-huh."

"Good. Watch out for her tongue, though, it’ll give you a good shock if she licks."

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Matthew WoodrINg Stover

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Cold Shoulder
(1196 words)
~*~in the style of Matthew Woodring Stover~*~

I shoulder past some rear end in a top hat who thinks he's Elvis Stojko. He gives me the poo poo-eye. "Watch where you're going, dude," he says. "There's no rush." He's not in bad shape, but his waistline is a little thick and that's going to make take-offs harder.

"Hang up your skates, kid," I say. "Wouldn't want your mommy to have to tape up any boo-boos."

Dumbshit’s face goes red. "You ran into me, grampa. Chill out."

He’s young, full of himself. I remember being that young, hunger for the joy of skating leading me by an iron grip on my dick. gently caress joy. Joy doesn't pay bills. Liking what you do doesn't magically make you less of a lovely person. I'm a living loving testament to that.

"I don’t have time for this," My lips peel back from my teeth. It's not a smile. It's a threat display, like an animal, so he knows who the big dog is. But he’s too dumb to know who I am.

“I know karate, don’t make me move you." I have rarely been less impressed. "And you're totally old. Twenty-six or something."

I step forward, my hands open and to the sides like I really want a hug. "So make me." I can see him weighing odds. He’s going to blink. Seen it a hundred times.

Nope. He finds his nutsack and comes at me. His punch is telegraphed so hard he may as well have told me. I grab his arm and jam a thumb into his wrist. He lets out a yelp, which turns into a scream as I use his own momentum to swing him against the wall.

Dumbshit has figuratively shat his pants. And literally pissed himself, a dark beige patch spreading down his left thigh. "There's a reason most of us wear black trousers, limpdick," I say.

“Ecchevaria,” I hear. “You’re up next!” I turn and wave.

“Be right there,” I reply.

Stojko’s gone pale as ice. “Holy poo poo,” he says, “Caesar Ecchevaria?”

I favour him with a smile. There’s no warmth to it. Stojko’s eyes shimmer with tears. Guess he’s heard of me.

I lean in close enough to smell the fear and piss coming off him. “You should see the medic.”

I walk to the door. The gopher awaits me. “You didn’t kill that kid, did you?”

“No, he’ll live,” I say, wistfully.

“Alright,” he says, clearly not trusting my word on the matter. “By the way, you-know-who’s on the ice, so wait a minute? We don’t want a repeat of Cancer Dancer.”

An oily snake coils through my guts. “No, I don’t know who. Why don’t you, like, loving educate me?”

“It’s Kaufmann.”

Darkness blooms behind my eyes and my mouth fills with acid. From a light-year away, a hollow voice echoes “Kaufmann.” That rat-poo poo motherfucker. “He’s here?”

“Well, yeah,” he says, but I don’t really hear it, I’m already racing away through and down the aisle to the side of the rink which I follow until I find the door. I launch myself out, blades biting deep into the ice. Kaufmann is centre-ice, wearing a hideous costume. He looks like a strawberry. He jumps into a triple-Axel, lands, jumps into a second and lands that, too.

Holy poo poo, when the hell did Kaufmann get this good? He’s just some two-bit punk.

I’m beginning to think I made a mistake, but it’s too late to turn back. I’m committed.

Kaufmann sees me and cuts short his routine. He displays mock astonishment. “I heard you were here, Caesar, but didn’t think you’d actually have the balls to show.”

“Hey yourself, cocksmoke. I see you’ve got a new trick. Get tired of turning them in public bathrooms, or did your mom finally kick you out of her turf?”

His face goes as red as his clothes, but he restrains himself and even smiles at me. "Good try, rimjob. I've got a better coach than you could ever dream of. Should I tell you who?"

He licks his lips like he's about to dig into a thick, juicy steak. "Kurt Browning."

Sweet bleeding Christ. Kurt Browning? How did this syphilitic mongoloid swing that? I guess he can see the shock on my face, because his grin takes on a downright sexual curve. But you know what? gently caress him. Him and his loving double-triple Axels.

And gently caress Kurt Browning.

“Good for you, shitheel. You speak English. Now get the gently caress off my ice,” I say, affecting calmness and swagger. I point at the audio booth in the rafters. “They’re playing my song.” Sentimental music swims out of invisible speakers. I’m a sentimental guy.

Homicide is a sentiment.

Kaufmann shrugs in a leonine way, skating backwards. “You’re just a petty little ice dancer with a lovely attitude and a boner for some knee-breaker bitch. Good luck, fuckstick.” He blows me a kiss.

I glide through my opening. Some spins, a three-turn, basic baby poo poo. Kaufmann’s double-triple bugs me. I planned two triples, not together, which is fine, but coming after that performance? Christ, forget winning, I probably won’t even place.

Long ago, some Frenchman said “il nous faut de l'audace, et encore de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace” which didn’t save him from the guillotine, but whatever. Audacity. Go balls-out, because why the gently caress not?

An Axel jump is easy. You jump, do one-and-a-half revolutions, and land backwards. A triple is three-and-a-half. Chaining jumps gets lovely. You can’t rebuild speed between jumps, so you need to be a goddamn bullet train going in.

I’m hustling down ice like a speed skater. Better be fast enough or I’ve blown it. Up I go and make three-point-five revolutions. Easy. Landing is easy, too. No time to jerk off, though. I go up into another. I land facing forward and, poo poo, that’s okay! I thought my knee was going to buckle, but it holds and now I’ve got to pull it together, show that smug gently caress what an ice dancer can do.

Up. Around. Again. Again. Land.

My heart swells. I feel loving great. I’m sporting a hard-on stiff enough to shatter concrete. Then an atomic bomb goes off in my knee. I eat a mouthful of ice shavings as I smash to the ground.

There’s an eternity of cold whiteness. My rear end is wet. I’m really out of it. Indistinctness surrounds me. Christ, it hurts.

I make out a face. For gently caress’s sake, it’s Kaufmann.

“When you gently caress up, you don’t do half-measures,” he says, appreciatively. “A triple-triple. Ballsy.”

I lift one palsied hand and beckon. I whisper his name. “Kaufmann, I… if…”

He leans in. Is his rival about to confide jealousy and inadequacy at the end of his career? “I’m here. Tell me.” His voice is heavy with lust.

My hand clamps around his throat. He’s off balance and I pull him forward. “If you ever talk poo poo about Tonya Harding again,” I snarl, “I will rip out your dick by the root, motherfucker.”

I let him go and he falls, coughing. The medics strap me to the backboard and take me away. Kaufmann can’t catch his breath, and I can’t remember the last time I felt so good.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Oh, fifteen new posts? Huh, that must have been some fast judging!

Oh, it's just Muffin posting ten times

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Have you ever thought "how can I make my stories more hopeless and cynical? Why am I always writing things which have happy endings, and how can I change this?" Well, allow me to denigrate you as a person crit a story of yours and find out!

I'll cast aspersions upon the legitimate parentage of a mere three lucky Road Warriors. Sign up below, and let me know which story of yours you'd like sold into slavery.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



sebmojo posted:

you should also pick a movie, or --

you know what? gently caress it. Take Dirty Harry and make me proud, Tyshalle.

I've never actually seen Dirty Harry!

But uh, if you insist?

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Phobia posted:

Pick Door A or Door B, all aboard the crit train.

YES.

Phobia posted:

The Last Tea Party
1190 words

“I say, old chap, I think Ariel is the prettiest princess of them all. Wouldn’t you agree, Duchess Izzy.”

“I much prefer Snow White, old bean. She’s much more regal and presentable. Don’t you agree, Princess Mirabella?”

“…”

“Princess Mirabella?”

Mirabella shook herself out of her stupor. “Sorry, Izzy, I’m just…”

Izzy’s living room went silent, the kind of quiet that makes you want to go back to your bedroom and curl up in a corner. Izzy must have noticed something off because she spoke up real quick.

“Hey.” Izzy adjusted her glasses. “Mira. Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Mira lied. She tugged at the necklace made of grass. Lauren taught her to daisy chain when they first met at Camp.

“You don’t look fine!” Lauren chirped “Even Sir Fuzzles can tell you that!”

Lauren turned and looked at the stuffed rabbit in the seat opposite her, with the top hat and fake monocle. When the bunny didn’t speak, Lauren turned to look at Izzy expectantly.

“Sir Fuzzles has taken a vow of silence”, Izzy explained. Was it supposed to be Lauren saying Sir Fuzzles "could tell [Mira] that"? Because it seems weird for Lauren to speak up for, I guess, Izzy's stuffed bunny. This part reads a little weird because of this. Maybe it's because Lauren is their Down's-afflicted pity-friend?

“Oh.” Lauren broke character. “You look really sick though, Mira.” she laughed. “Is it because we played Hooky? Are the nerves getting to ya’?” I cannot help but imagine Lauren is now a Brooklyn bruiser coaching his bud before a fight.

“That’s it.” Mira gave a nod. “I’m just nervous. My dad gets mad, y’know?”

Izzy still didn’t buy it. She was smart like that. Lauren, on the other hand, bought into it, and she gave a nod and a smile. The pink room they were in, with the frilly table cloth, the china cabinets and the multitude of those creepy German figurines, felt especially suffocating to Mirabella. How come? Is it because of the frilly pinkness, or because of her own inner turmoil?

“We need more tea,” Lauren moved on quickly, holding up the teapot

“I’ll do it.” Mira said.

“Are you ever so sure, Princess?” Lauren said with a coy snicker. I think Lauren's a bitch.

Mira didn’t answer. She just took the teapot and walked out of the room.

She poured water into the teakettle and placed it on the burner. The itching around her neck was getting annoying, so Mira pulled. You know, I had originally forgotten she was wearing a necklace made of daisies and thought she'd pulled at her own flesh. It wasn't til the end of the paragraph that I remembered the necklace, and then I had to scroll back up to find out what kind of necklace it was that it burst into flames. Unfortunately she made the mistake of chucking it on the side of the counter. The necklace lit on fire almost immediately.

The fire alarm went off and Mira screamed. In hindsight, she overreacted. It's very nice to have hindsight. But this doesn't feel like Mira relating her story to me, so it feels out of place to say. She ran out of the house and buried herself on the lawn.

Izzy and Lauren came out. Mira was pulling the grass out of the lawn, ripping each individual blade to shreds. Why? This just seems so random a thing to do!

“Good thing we found you!” Izzy said. “We thought you disappeared.”

Mira didn’t say anything. Didn’t even look up.

“Uhm.” Lauren hesitated. “Everything’s okay. Nothing to be upset over, but…“ She smiled nervously. “Was it your necklace that – “

Her necklace. Her stupid necklace. Hers. That was when Mira broke down. She brought her hand up and hit herself over the head.

“I’m stupid, I’m stupid, I’m so stupid!”

Her friends just stood there. Lauren stared looking around aimlessly. Izzy braced her hands over her head, teeth clenched. Izzy spoke, telling Mira not to hurt herself. It wasn’t just Mira though. It was everything. Whenever she sneezed and it left a mark; Joey Williams, who had a crush on Izzy and always stole the seat next to her on the bus; her dog allergies; her father stomping. Everything she hated, every little inkling, she took and blamed it all on her, and she transferred that hate from her mind to her palm and brought it cracking against the side of her head. And she kept hitting herself, until she felt whoozy, until she learned her lesson, until Lauren grabbed her wrist and held her back. There's some definite issues in this whole paragraph with attribution. On a second read, I guess it's Mira's head Izzy puts her hands over, to keep Mira from hurting herself? It doesn't read that clearly enough, so I originally thought Izzy was guarding her own head for some reason. And then I thought that we were now in Izzy's POV, where she for some reason is blaming Mira. By the end, again, it becomes clear what's happening, but up to that point it feels very muddled.

“You’re scaring me, Mira.”

Mira wanted to slap Lauren but when all of the stars went away she notice that Lauren was crying. She felt bad because she didn’t want to make Lauren cry. It was Mira’s fault she was crying because everything was Mira’s fault. She stared down at the floor like an idiot, the kind of idiot who sets fire to someone’s house while making tea. This is some pretty blunt, unsubtle writing. I'm talking "Robot Devil yelling at Fry" kind of blunt unsubtlety, and it's making me angry.

“I’m sorry.”

“About what?” asked Izzy.

“Almost set your house on fire. Ruined your necklace. I’m sorry.” I got the impression that Mira had made the necklace, from the earlier passage on how Lauren had taught her how to make them. So did Izzy do it? Or Lauren? Or was it actually Mira? Who made this necklace, because at this point I am beginning to suspect Sir Fuzzles out of desperation.

“It was just a silly bunch of grass. Everything’s fine!”

“I walked away.” Mira’s voice turned hollow. “I shouldn’t have walked away. I’m sorry.” "I walked away" just seems so weird. Like, she actually ran away and threw a tantrum on the lawn, but let that go. It doesn't feel genuine to me, her saying this. It feels like an adult putting words in a kid's mouth, which is what's actually going on in a meta way.

Izzy stopped talking, and she looked at Lauren. Lauren clasped her hands like a squirrel hoarding nuts. Izzy’s hands were on her hips. They both looked unsure. Mira could smell the smoke from outside, metal, cinder and regret and it made Mira want to throw up. Jesus, metal and cinder? What the gently caress, was this daisy chain soaked in jet fuel? Throw in the smell of smouldering timber, while you're at it. Burn that house to the ground!

Mira stood there, staring at the floor. Every once in awhile she would look up, just to make sure they were still looking at her. Lauren was ready to ask, but Mira cut her off at the pass.
“My mom left.”

Lauren blinked. Izzy seemed to understand but Lauren was always slow. “She left? Did she go on vacation or something?”

“No,” Mira said. “I – I dunno! Last week I woke up and she was gone. Dad told me she left.”

Izzy frowned. “Jeez Mira, I’m so so -“

“I’m not finished.” Mira said. Mira's kind of a bitch here.

Izzy closed her mouth. Noth she and Lauren nodded. They didn’t see anything else. Mira sighed.

“Mom and Dad were yelling last weekend. They’ve been doing that a lot. I didn’t tell you guys because I wasn’t…” She breathed. “Dad came into my room and he asked me if I wanted to come live with him. He just stared at me, waiting, and I didn’t answer,” snot billowed out of her nose and into her mouth, Oh, she's suddenly crying so hard that she's snotting everywhere. This came suddenly out of the blue, because she actually seemed pretty composed up to this point. “and mom told him to leave me alone,” she remembered how she curled up into a ball in the corner, her parents looming over her like trees, ”I wanted them to stop but they wouldn’t listen, and,” she shut her eyes and choked on air “he asked me if I loved him more and I said yes and I,” it was all her fault, all her fault, all her fault, “and my mom, she – “ Way too many pauses in Mira's monologue. I get you're trying to cut her emotions into this, to show where her thoughts are as she's talking, but it becomes too much and overwhelms the pure message here. I think this would be more effective if you just vomitted the whole burst out in one single block of unbroken monologue.

Lauren hugged Mira so tight it pushed out what little air was in her lungs. Izzy joined in, and they held Mira in one big hug pile that crushed the burning in her chest. Mira stopped talking after that, because the hug pile has strangled her, I guess, pressing her nose against Izzy’s shoulder despite the snot. Lauren kept telling that she loved her, Izzy kept telling her everything was going to be okay. Mira believed them.

It couldn’t have been longer than a half hour but to Mira it felt like centuries before she spoke.

“I love you guys.”

“We know.” Lauren said.

Izzy patted her shoulder. “You the best, Mira. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a jerk.” Who at any point in this story said Mira's a jerk or a lovely person? I know she thinks that of herself, but she doesn't express that to her friends, so why would they think that?

“Yeah!” Lauren grinned. “Your dad’s a jerk too!”

Izzy shot Lauren a mean look. Mira didn’t mind. In fact, it made Mira smile. She even laughed. She laughed so hard that it hurt! It was the funniest thing she’d heard in her entire life! Lauren started laughing, and soon enough Izzy joined in! hahaha catharsis for some reason, perhaps Spock called something logical, hahaha And there they were, three sixth graders giggling up a storm in somebody’s backyard at noon on a school day. I wish you'd said how old they were earlier, I kept flip-flopping my estimation of their ages as the story went on. Were they college girls playing Disney Princess Pretend in a weird ironic fashion? Were they high schoolers? I couldn't tell. Maybe I'm not familiar enough with eleven-year-old girls. Despite the tears, it was one of the best days of Mira’s life.

My biggest issue was these characters didn't necessarily read to me as eleven-year-olds. They seemed too mature in their understandings and grasps of concepts, while also being simultaneously thick as lead about it. Lauren's the worst one, because she's just stupid as poo poo the whole time, like a braying donkey hee-hawing off to the side. Izzy's the brain, Lauren's the black hole of anti-intelligence, and Mira is our self-harming central focus. But what were their throughlines? I would have preferred if Izzy, the smart one, didn't get the seperation and it was Lauren who understood first, because she's been through it herself. That would at least give each character something to shine by.

Your action descriptions are muddled and vague. Several times I didn't know who was doing what, and more than once it felt like you didn't even know, like with the necklace.

Conversely, you can be overly blunt and obvious with things. "Mira wanted to slap Lauren but when all of the stars went away she notice that Lauren was crying. She felt bad because she didn’t want to make Lauren cry. It was Mira’s fault she was crying because everything was Mira’s fault." is slapping me in the face like I am a dumbass who does not comprehend emotions. This is some Dick And Jane level prose, Phobia. You're better than this.

Ultimately, you told a story which took too long to get to the meat of Mira's turmoil, at which point the emotions of the characters were too dimly explored to be very interesting to me. Mira felt like a pinball, her emotions being at certain places not out of a logical progression but because you wanted her to be there purely by fiat. Yeah, her mom's R-U-N-O-F-T, but other than my own personal sympathy of "yeah, being from a broken home sure can suck", I don't know why this is really a problem for her. Maybe mommy's a broke-down alchie, maybe she was a really awesome mom who made spicy turkey meatballs on Thursdays. We don't know. My point is that Mira's mom is an important character to this story, and her new absence from Mira's life lacks any definition beyond "parents splitting up est mal." Consider Luke Skywalker in Star Wars; who he thinks his supposedly dead father is informs who he is and the actions he takes. Though we never meet Anakin himself until much later, we feel we "know" who Anakin must have been.



There's still one cabin left in the 7:30 Blade_of_criticism express, wastelanders. Please have your tickets ready and proceed to your assigned seating.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



gently caress it, give me whatever story 3 and 5 corresponds to

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



If you're just going to arbitrarily assign stories no matter what we pick, then you can seriously go gently caress yourself.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Ertrinken
986 words
From Mother Holle, a German folk tale.

The vat of boiling horse piss stank and Katja wished to be anywhere but here. For three days she had toiled in Frau Holle’s home. Her sister Fritzi, having disappeared and returned, told of the kindly old woman’s reward for helping her. The gold Fritzi brought back was proof enough and their dowager mother sent Katja off to do the same.

Frau Holle sat on her porch, wrapped in thick clothes as usual. She hadn’t seen the old woman’s face once, not even at meal time. They did not sup together. Kindly old woman, she thought bitterly. drat Fritzi, what a fool! Their mother should have thrown that idiot out years ago. Instead, Katja found herself toiling like, well, like Fritzi did at their home in Dusseldorf.

The piss, Holle claimed, was for tanning. She made a living through leather-making. But Katja’s late father was also a tanner and she did not think piss of any sort was part of it. And why was there only this single vat? God, it stank.

Yet another falsehood in this miserable place. Holle did not have a warm bed for her. Katja slept on the floor by the hearth, like a dog. Her meals were hearty enough, she supposed, though the meat didn’t taste like any meat she recognized. The Frau refused to share the mushroom sauce, Katja’s favourite part of jaegerschnitzel. Her stomach rumbled despite the fumes.

“Don’t smother the fire, foolish girl,” Frau Holle shouted. She had a set of lungs in her like an alpiner. Did a kind word ever pass her lips? Katja hadn’t heard one yet. She hated feeling like she did nothing right. At home, she could do no wrong. She was her mother’s favoured child, with younger Fritzi left to care for the household. Their mother was quite stern with Fritzi, and she wondered if this was how her sister felt. If so, she didn’t much care for it. This work was best left to those inclined to it.

She stood to fetch the bellows and jumped to find Frau Holle beside her. The old woman was uncommonly silent; the comparison to a sneak-thief with dagger in hand came unbidden.

“Don’t pump the bellows too hard, you’ll drown out the flames.” The crone’s cold eyes glared out from above the scarf wrapped around her head.

“I wasn’t going to, Frau Holle, I know how to use a bellows.” Katja’s face burned. She wasn’t some drat fool to be endlessly talked down to.

Holle struck her with a piece of wood. “The hell you do. Never a more worthless girl have I met! Can’t make a bed, can’t cook a cabbage, can’t sweep a floor, can’t light a fire, can’t pump a bellows,” she sneered, punctuating each task with the lumber.

Finally, Katja screamed and pushed the old woman back. “No more! I have put up with you for days! No more! I will leave, tonight, and I will have the payment promised me!”

“You wish to settle accounts?” Holle asked, her voice low.

“Yes.”

“Stay here, then. I’ll bring you your payment.” Alone, Katja rubbed at her shoulder where she had been struck. It was swollen and the merest touch was painful. Holle was vicious.

The black canvas sack thumped to the ground at her feet. Holle had returned. The sack did not look like it was full of gold.

“Take it and leave, if you want to,” Holle said. Katja grabbed the bag. It was heavy. “Don’t you want to count your payment?”

“No, I will check later. I just want to be away. I’m sure you counted fair.”

“I really must insist you open the bag, Katja.” Holle hadn’t used Katja’s name since her arrival. As if the naming had power, her hands undid the drawstring while her mind screamed not to.

She looked inside. Her blood ran cold. The bag fell from limp fingers and the head within rolled out. Glazed eyes stared up from the ground.

“Mother?” Katja’s stomach clenched. “Oh God, my mother!” Her mother’s face was frozen in terror and pain.

“Dear, dear mother,” Holle crooned. Her scarf and shawl fluttered to the ground. Katja looked up into the face of her tormentor. Those cold, cold eyes. She knew them well. “She didn’t much care for my settling accounts, either.”

“Fritzi?” This could not be. “What have you done? What did you do to mother? Where is the rest of our mother?” A swelling tide of panic rose from her bowels, flooding into her chest.

Fritzi smiled and licked her lips. “I know how much you love schnitzel, my dear sister.”

Her stomach lurched. “Oh God, no.”

“She fed us as babes from her bosom. Fitting she feed us again.” Fritzi picked up the paddle for stirring the vat.

“Why would you do this? She was your mother!”

“Hardly a mother to me.” Fritzi swung the paddle and blew the thought out of Katja’s mind.

Mostly forever later, she found herself leaning against a post by the vat. Fritzi was there still, the paddle’s end smeared with blood. Her cold eyes blazed hot.

“You came here to be showered with gold, yes? Here it is, Katja. All the gold you could ever want.” She gestured to the vat. “Take as much of it as you can.”

The paddle came up and she knocked Katja towards the vat. Already off-balance, Fritzi struck again, and Katja stumbled to the lip and fell into the boiling horse piss head first. She tried to scream, but got only a lungful of urine for her trouble. It was colder than she expected, but within seconds Katja didn’t think much at all anymore.

Fritzi lowered the vat’s lid as the first flakes of snow began to fall. She mounted the horse which had let her beat Katja here from Dusseldorf and cantered away as the cottage burned. Frau Holle served her purpose.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.




With cheese
(avec fromage)

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Chairchucker posted:

Also hey guys what's with all the brawling, why don't you just get out a tape measure and settle it once and for all?

Because no one wants to read Benny the Trouser Snake.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Anomalous Blowout posted:

I feel like this is one of the stronger entries that didn't HM. But don’t get too full of yourself, there’s still some issues.

When have I been full of myself? I've always just been here to try to improve my writing

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Thanks for the in-depth crit, Griz. Appreciate it.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



It's clearly not patience.

Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



You want to pick a prompt? Step one is win.

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Blade_of_tyshalle
Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.



Can I post pin-ups?



Safe for work, unless you's an x-ray technician, in which case

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