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Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Tried this many months back and got slapped with a DM. I'm back for more pain, Thunderdome. In with For a Few Dollars More.

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Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Crittin' time. Here's one that doesn't have a crit from Week 43.

ultrachrist posted:

The Old World is Dead (~780 words)


What follows is a speech dictated by the puppet-king Alexander I to his low-born wife, Aspasia. It was to be read at his lavishly planned funeral, also described in detail by Alexander I. He died eleven days later to a modestly attended ceremony of little pomp and fanfare. His speech was never read nor his reign remembered as legitimate. Love the little framing device here. This one and the one at the end really help give this thing some layers.



Countrymen, I ask you: Would you have done differently? Is the canine not man’s best and most loyal servant? Do we not ask, protect me from my enemies, alert me of their presence, pierce their flesh to preserve mine? Is it not then an obligation, nay! our duty to reciprocate this service? Countrymen, again, I ask you: Were you to behold your most loyal and truest friend assailed by demons from beyond, would you not act? Should I have left poor Fritz to fend for himself among those beasts? Perish the thought! It's a good thing you lead off with a framing paragraph rather than cut straight to this, because I think it's the weakest part of the whole thing. The highfalutin language is just too much here, you hit the audience with too much of it at once. Going back and re-reading this part after you know where the story is headed makes it drat funny as intended, but it feels entirely too heavy on the first read-through.

For is not Alsatian the most noble of creatures? Is not Ape most base? And I speak, not just of those vile creatures who have so wounded me - is not, Man, too, an ape? I may consider myself yet another victim of The Great War, swept away by the tide of a conflict one cannot hope to understand. At least I have been given time to contemplate. To try to understand. At least. Love the "is not, Man, too, an ape?" line. Great stuff.

But I am tormented. I hear the whispers. The chortles. His Majesty laid low by monkeys. I cannot bear it.

Monkeys? Paw! No mere monkeys beset Fritz and I in the garden. Were it not for my impeccable skill with the rapier and the righteous passion that has flown in the blood of all the high-born men of Hellas since antiquity, I would not be lying here, bed-ridden in my final moments, dictating this missive.

They stood hulking, a full head taller than any man. Foul mist emitted from their putrescent maws, under red portals that glared with stygian cunning. My doctors inform me it is the infection caused by these abominations that will sever my mortal coil, but I would not discount the wound itself. I tremble to remove the blanket covering my lower half and peer at the unfortunate wreckage of my left leg -- it hangs on below the knee by little more than a thread. Were it not for the bodily-agility blessed to all my line, I would have been struck down right there. This is hilarious, and I love all the descriptors. The bragging at the end of the paragraph is the maraschino cherry on top.

And you say monkey?

With a mighty thrust, I severed one of the foul beasts limbs at the elbow, and great black blood gushed forth. Its crony leapt forth and prevented me from finishing the malevolent creature, and to my horror I watched it lap at the spurting blood, hungrily, only for a new limb, a new crooked paw, to sprout forth anew so that it could renew its assault. Didn't see this coming and it's hilarious. By this point, you've really developed Alexander's voice well.

Does that sound like a monkey?

No, my friends. Try monstrosity. Grotesque. Hellion. Satan’s Spawn. All the hate and suffering spewed by mankind amassed into two infernal, blasted creatures.

And what were these beasts doing in the Royal Gardens, you ask? Countrymen, I do not know, and such a question plagues me in the dim, humid hours of the night when I am alone with my thoughts, my wounds, and my imminent departure from this mortal plane. I would not rule out assassination, no. I do have enemies, this is true. Underminders. There are scoundrels at court, do not doubt it. I will not put names to these ne'er do wells, but I know, countrymen, you have suspicions to whom I speak. That vile man, that low-born displacer of royal blood! I have heard the rumors. I know what black sorcery he practices, while stealing the throne from my family. He exiled my dear mother first, only so he could unleash his shadowy progeny onto her royal heir while she was away! Eleftherios! Do not think I don’t know of your deeds. If only Mother were here. If only she Alexander is flailing about and grasping at straws in attempt to hide his shame and embarrassment, and it's great. The finger-pointing was less of a surprise to me than the hell monkeys growing new limbs, but it's not any less funny. Good job. I do think you could have held this part a little longer. As it stands, his rant feels a little incomplete, and I think you could have worked in one more really funny part at the end as a way to cap it off.


********


Dear Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos,

My Lord Husband, Alexander I , true king of the Hellenes has taken to fever and now desires only to see his lady mother. A humble request you, Mr. Venizelos, have denied with great vigor.

I have no illusions, Mr. Venizelos, that my husband’s wish to have the above read at his passing will ever be honored. Indeed, I do not have any illusions you know what the word or ideal of honor means. I wish only for this: a bequest both to my great interest and to yours.

Do not let them laugh, Mr. Venizelos. Please, above all else. Do not let them laugh.

The Rightful Queen of the Hellenic Republic,

Aspasia Manos This frame at the end is great, but I wanted a little more of his rant before you moved to this. We also don't really get a sense for whether or not Aspasia thought her husband was being sincere, and I feel like you could have done more with that, whichever way you went with it.

Overall, I found this quite funny, and I think you gave Alexander a really distinctive voice. We get a nice idea for the character without knowing much more about him than the content of his rant, and that's not really an easy thing to do, so good job. Love the frames at the beginning and end. I think the opening paragraph of the rant is too much, too soon - I would have found it easier to get into if you hadn't started Alexander off at such a fever pitch. On the second read, it's great, but the first time through it honestly pulled me out of the story a bit and earned an eyeroll from me. I also think the rant/final letter stops shorter than it should. You build really nicely but it just stops, and I felt a little robbed. You had more words to work with, so I really felt it deserved a grand finale of sorts. Those are pretty minor quibbles, though, because overall, this is a well-written and entertaining story, and the fact that I wanted more proves it.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

And here's my riff on For a Few Dollars More.


He Will Delight in the Fear of the Lord
1,027 words

Less than six months in, and moving to Tucumcari was already the worst decision of his life. He could only imagine what his wrinkled old wretch of a father would say to him when he saw him. At least he was certain that whatever his father would say, he’d deserve every bit of it.

Red Cavanagh sipped whisky as he played poker and tried to forget about the last five days. The dealer slid a fifth card his way, and Red cracked his first smile of the day. Straight flush, a fitting hand for a man who doesn’t believe in luck.

It had all started last April, when he’d quit his job at the bank in Boston. His father had been apoplectic; he was too old to use his fists now, but his words were enough. Quitting a banking job to make saddles out west is something only a fool would do, his father said. The only good opportunities out west are for bandits and railroad magnates, he said. And now, too late, Red believed him.

Red’s father had raised him the way any good Irish Catholic would, and Red’s fear of the rod had instilled in him a sense of guilt from an early age. A deeply religious man, Red had no relationship to speak of with Christ the Redeemer, because as far as he was concerned, Christ was simply a pleasant myth. No, Red’s God was the God of the Old Testament, a God of locusts, creeping death snatching away firstborn, and bloody vengeance. All things – usually bad things – happened for a reason, Red knew.

As the 1890s had rolled along, the railroads were slowly and finally causing the west to develop, and Red began to sense that his only opportunity to escape his father was rapidly closing. So he packed up his things and quit his job. His wife was too young and too stupid to argue with him, so to Tucumcari they went.

It had started out fine. The saddle making business was going well enough for them to get by. Susan had met a few women to talk to. Red had met a few women, too.

Then Susan had come down with typhoid. The medicine to treat it was expensive, mostly because it had to be sent by train from the east. Red knew he’d never make enough. He also knew that his father wasn’t the only one who thought that moving west was a bad decision; apparently God thought it was, too.

It had been Tuesday afternoon when he’d stepped into Tucumcari’s only saloon and began unloading his guilt onto the bartender while he got drunk. Pretty soon, he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into the eyes of a man who had that hazy, glazed over look that only people who don’t have any rules possess. I think I can help you, the man said.

But first, Red had to help him. Later that night, Red learned that he is not a very good lookout, that you can be accused of murder even if you weren’t the one that pulled the trigger, and that bandits shouldn’t be trusted to hold up their end of the bargain. By dawn, he’d gathered up Susan and they’d skipped town, and the rest would be left up to God, which frankly made Red feel even worse.

It was terrifying to see his own wanted poster when they’d arrived at White Rocks a few hours later. He’d fled to White Rocks for one reason – the sheriff, John, was a distant relative. As soon as he got Susan settled in the hotel, Red went for a visit, and was relieved to find that the sheriff was on his side. He was also a little surprised to find how corrupt John was. John had cut a deal with the local bandits, and he was able to promise both medicine for Susan and protection until they could make it back east.

East. Red hated to even think of setting foot back in Boston, but it was the only way. Getting on a train would mean painting a target on his back even bigger than the one that already existed, so he knew he’d have to wait for the next covered wagon headed that way. The wait would be at least a week.

For the next three days, Red had consumed himself with worry over the inevitable spiritual retribution that was to come. He hadn’t killed anyone, but he might as well have. If by God’s mercy he managed to escape from the New Mexico Territory, his father’s wrath would be unimaginable.

And now he found himself playing poker, in the idle hope that the fate that God had laid out for him would change. The straight flush was the happiest he’d been in weeks. Maybe God was on his side after all. He gleefully raked in the stack of cash and took another sip of his whiskey.

And then a curious thing happened. A hand reached over Red’s shoulder and took the stack of cards, then began dealing…but just to Red and himself. And then Red knew; he could feel the angel of the Lord over his shoulder. This man had come to help him get home.

Three Kings, a six, and a nine. Not a bad hand at all. Red asked for two, and got a Queen and a ten. A winning hand in five card draw if he’d ever saw one. He laid them down and smiled up at the man.

The man had a short cropped beard and he was wearing a poncho. Red had seen the type ever since he’d moved west. A wannabe, someone who acted like a bandit but would never be one. The Lord usually arrived in a way that is least expected.

The man laid his hand down; three Aces, a Jack, and a Queen. A winner. It all boiled down to one question, Red knew.

“Didn’t hear what the bet was,” Red said.

“Your life,” the man replied. Red stared up, into the eyes of the Almighty.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

In with 2 and 7.

And Martello, I'd be delighted to accept a flash rule if you'd be so kind as to crit my Clint Eastwood story. I intend to quench my thirst with the blood of lesser competitors one of these weeks, and to do that, I must get better.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Martello posted:

Your writing is competent overall, but you need to pare the gently caress down some words, son. Seriously.

I'll be watching you this week. Your flash rule is that you have only 800 words to write your story. Economy of motherfucking prose.

Many thanks.

I'm ready for more pain. *chews last nub of cigar left over from Clint Eastwood week*

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

I'm pretty satisfied with it so what the hell:

Prompt: DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND
Martello Flash Rule: 800 words or less


Security Details
655 words

10 years ago

The blaring alarm crowded out all but the most urgent thought: Run. Silent alarms meant jail time. Scary loud gently caress off alarms meant you were probably going to die. Joel could tell that Brady had the same idea; the poor bastard was running as fast as his Vibrams would carry him. Even now, Joel had to suppress a chuckle. Makes his footsteps quieter my rear end.

A loving paperclip. He couldn’t believe it. They’d known going in that the metal detector was sensitive, but this poo poo was ridiculous. Everything went sideways as soon as they hit the vault. They knew they’d probably tripped the silent alarm, so they dumped the gold and focused on making it out without getting caught.

So late at night, you’ve broken into a vault full of precious metals and you suspect you’ve tripped the silent alarm, what’s your next move? Retrace your steps, right? Wrong. The best way to bail on a situation like that is to get out as quickly as possible, even if it means strolling right through the front door. They’d learned that in Salerno.

drat shame the front door was guarded by the Star Trek version of a metal detector. Joel strained his eyes for an alleyway or a nightclub, someplace they could just disappear. They were fifty yards from the intersection when the cop car screeched into view, nearly blowing a tire as it came to a stop. Contingency time. Joel pivoted to his right and took off on a new heading.

Brady was supposed to pivot left, but that’s not how it went down. At “FREEZE!” Joel glanced back.

Everybody knows the movies are full of poo poo when it comes to just about everything. Even still, it surprised Joel how quiet and pathetic it was. The gun sounded like a firecracker, and there was no blood. Brady didn’t even scream, he just sighed as his knees gave out. Joel was sure he was dead.

It bought him some time. At least there was that.


Now

“When I want somethin’, man, I don’ wanna pay for it!” Perry Farrell’s voice squealing out of his phone meant one thing: the silent alarm had tripped. Joel was out of bed and had his gun strapped on before the brain fog was clear.

He was out the door and halfway down the sidewalk to the vault where he headed up security when the main alarm sounded. Got the fucker.

Joel designed the system to account for clever things he would have done back in the day. The vault could only be opened with his fingerprints. The metal detector was sensitive enough to pick up ambient metals in the human body, and every morning, each employee had to pass through with their pockets empty so they could establish a base reading. If the metal detector went off, two sets of doors automatically locked, trapping the poor bastard in a five-by-five room.

That’s where he found the dude, curled up into the fetal position. This one was smarter than Joel was back in the day. He gave up. Joel cuffed him, turned off the alarms, and unlocked the metal doors.

A different alarm went off this time, a tiny one in the back of Joel’s consciousness. This kid didn’t fit the profile at all. He was a decoy.

That’s when Joel felt the cold steel on the back of his head. There was only one person on Earth who could get the drop on him like that.

“By my math, I’ve got another three and a half minutes before the police get here,” Brady said. “Which means you’ve got thirty seconds to get the vault unlocked before I blow your poo poo away.”

Joel sucked in a breath. “Let me just ask you one thing,” he said. “It was the Vibrams, wasn’t it?”

“Told you they’re quieter,” Brady said as he jammed the gun into Joel’s back.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

In with philophobia, fear of falling in love or being in love.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Phobia: Falling in love or being in love
Wordcount: 975


The Rook

She moved her queen diagonally all the way across the board, deep behind my advancing line of pawns. I’d tried to tell her time and again that she overplayed her queen, but she’d only gotten more aggressive with it. I found it an endearing flaw by now. Then she punched the clock and smiled up at me knowingly.

I can’t really tell you how many times I’ve thought about that smile over the last five months. It’s something about how the edge of her lip curls at the very end. Innocent, but suggestive. Open, but hinting at something more. Something that she probably hasn’t shared with any man, but something that she is willing to share with me, if I’ll only make the next move.

I moved one of my knights to prepare to capture her queen, and we both knew what would happen next. I’d chase it around the board for a few more moves before capturing it, and she’d laugh, wink at me, and then shake her head. Like always.

Bianca first showed up at Eugene’s biggest chess club back in April, and she stood out like a sore thumb immediately. It wasn’t that she was a woman – at least, it mostly wasn’t. It was that she was single. The blazing red hair and creamy skin certainly didn’t help her blend in, either.

The U of O boys who were part of the club acted as if they were almost scared of her. I imagine it had as much to do with the fact that she had three or four years on the eldest of them as it did her beauty. She was a preview of that as-yet-unattainable world of adulthood. The old men treated her like a long-lost daughter. The men close to my age had a predictable reaction that sometimes devolved into locked horns and simian displays of dominance. She gracefully ignored them.

She was paired with me on the first day. As I placed my first pawn, she began a stream of words that would not let up until months later, when they bled away into warm silences and familiar looks. I learned that she was six years younger than me. She’d played chess with her dad all her life until he passed away three years ago. She was also a bank teller who had recently moved from Texas.

At the next meeting, she immediately sat with me, despite the protests of the club president. It was supposed to be a random pairing every time. By the third time, he didn’t bother saying a thing. The Texas drawl that had her stretching out her words soon had me calling her Reba. The first few times, she rolled her eyes as if she’d heard the joke a million times before. I knew she had and that’s why I’d said it. By the fifth time it came out of my mouth, she replaced the eye rolls with giggles and furtive glances up at me.

She consistently overplayed her queen. It was an easy mistake to make, but she refused to correct it. The queen was her favorite piece, and I understood why. It was powerful. Too powerful, in my opinion. Most chess players lived or died by their queen. Young players became so afraid of losing their queen that they often ended up losing the game. I’d learned from a young age to sacrifice my queen when necessary, and now it was a pillar of my endgame strategy. I almost always dumped my queen to put myself in a position to win. It was a strategy so unfathomable to Bianca that I knew I’d never lose to her unless I wanted to.

The rook is the most underrated piece on the board, and my favorite by far. Where others’ games are won or lost by their queen, mine are won or lost by my rooks. They move the most naturally of any piece on the board – directly, and in pure vertical or horizontal lines. The rook carves a strong, singular figure wherever it moves. It’s the chess version of a fortress. Imposing, impenetrable, almost spinal. There’s an undeniable sense that something precious is protected inside, and no one will be allowed to get to it.

Her advances were subtle at first, but I still noticed them. Little glances here and there, “accidental” touches, a disproportionate curiosity about my life. We always sat around talking long after the club meetings were over. By two months in, she was explicitly asking me to meet up with her outside the club, and I defaulted to my preferred strategy of polite refusal.

I finally captured Bianca’s queen with one of my rooks. She laughed and winked at me. Then she shook her head in mock despair.

I knew that I was a rook, but that bit of self-awareness never changed the outcome of my dalliances. I’d long ago realized that being alone and loneliness were two different things. When you say “love,” what I hear is “exposure.” Love means putting far too much – your whole self – at risk. You are leaving your king unprotected.

I did something unexpected then. I moved my knight in such a way that opened an easy checkmate. Bianca quickly moved her piece into place, and then looked up at me questioningly.

“Congrats,” I said. “You got me.” Bianca sat in stunned silence. “I think this needs to be our last chess game together,” I told her. She flung her arm at the board, knocking away most of the pieces. Her outburst was followed by angry, bitter tears as she stormed out of the chess club meeting.

I’d known this was going to happen from the beginning, but it didn’t make it hurt any less. I sighed and glanced down, only to notice that both my rooks were still standing.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

I'm definitely in. I'll take on all of you clowns.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

I've had a hell of a week and I know I'm not going to make it...deepest apologies. I have shamed my people and the sanctity of this great contest. Had a sneaking suspicion that I should have toxxed this time, and I definitely will be doing so next time. There's no excuse.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

I'm in with a

Here's my missed connection:

Penpal wanted inmate white woman wanted

quote:

I am a 32 your old white male in prison for a shooting i have a 45 year Sentence that i am appealing .i am looking for a white women not wanting to play games. JOHNATHAN DIEDRICH 480350 MACC POBOX 220 B NORTH 26
STRINGTOWN OK 74569

And my gif:

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Prompt:

Your Sledgehammer posted:

I'm in with a

Here's my missed connection:

Penpal wanted inmate white woman wanted


And my gif:



Word Count: 474


The Art of Jailhouse Seduction

She slapped him so hard he could taste blood. That made two penpals and two red handprints across the cheek for Jon Dungy. The security guard dragged her out of the meeting room, and just by the look on the guard’s face, Jon knew she wouldn’t be charged with anything, just like the last one.

Jon spent the walk back to his cell deep in thought. Maybe I should say lovemaking instead of loving. Women love romance.

His plan was flawless. Troll for women he wanted to bang by a simple request for penpals on the Internet, gain their trust enough that they’d come to the jail for a meet and greet, and then convince the jailhouse authorities that the woman was his sister so she’d qualify for private family visitation. Simple. Other dudes in the pen took care of their needs by bagging female guards, but that involved too much effort and emotional sophistication for Jon’s taste.

Most of the letters fell into one of two categories: women who wanted to drain his bank accounts, or women who were painfully lonely and searching for any shred of emotional connection. Jon put all those letters straight into the garbage can. He’d been explicit about wanting a woman who didn’t play games. Of the remainder, none of the women were open about wanting to gently caress him, but he could just tell. Jon considered himself an expert at womanly subtlety and subcommunication. For example, “I just got divorced” meant she wanted to gently caress him. So did “I like to go out on weekends.” Skills like that were how he’d sniffed out the infidelity in his last relationship and popped that motherfucker she was sleeping with.

I just need to work on my approach, Jon thought as he sat in his cell and opened a letter that came the day before. Jon was less than halfway through the letter when he felt the giddiness rising up in his chest. I should definitely say loving to this one.

Paragraph after paragraph of lurid sexual detail. A lipstick kiss before her signature at the end. Jon had found his unicorn. The included photo was obviously a pornstar pic culled from the Internet, but it didn’t matter to Jon. No matter what she looks like, she’ll be warm.

He rubbed one out to the pornstar photo in the shower that night, and then contemplated his strategy while the water beat down on him. “So you like my picture, huh?” a voice called out.

Hoss Goldsmith emerged from the mist near where Jon was standing, and it was then that Jon realized the grave error he’d made. Hoss towered over him, and Jon felt wet fingers clench around his throat. Hoss cracked an excited, malevolent smile.

Soon Jon had another red handprint across a different cheek.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

In with a

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Use the secret BBCode command to covert your story to Wingdings font, then post it here. Once it's up, PM each judge to let them know you've submitted, and be sure to address each of them as "my liege" unless you want to cop a DM.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Catch You on the Flipside
1099 words

Three years of effort had come to this moment. The camera was rolling for posterity and the lab was silent except for the low hum of the machine. As planned, Jon and Ben were the only two present. They wanted one last moment of peace before the fame and accolades came crashing down on their heads.

Ben inhaled deeply and wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans. He knew they clashed badly with his lab coat, but he really wanted that Steve Jobs touch in his presentation. He nodded at Jon, who was standing beside the machine.

Ben casually stepped in front of the camera and began.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Ben Karbach, and I’ll be the first person to take a little trip with the Chronoporter,” he said. “It’s a complicated device, but how it works is actually quite simple.” Light and relatable, he thought to himself. No jargon.

“The Chronoporter allows me to travel through time. There’s a device called a Gravity Well Generator deep in the machine, and it creates a small wormhole that I’ll travel through. Other than that, it’s basically just a supercomputer.”

They fully understood the implications of the technology and the heavy requests from the world that would inevitably follow. “Let’s go back and kill Hitler or prevent 9/11!” they’d yell, plead, pontificate, and bash out with their keyboards. That’s why Jon and Ben intentionally chose something ridiculous and lighthearted as an initial experiment.

“When I’m done talking to you, I’m going to step onto the machine with this ticket to tonight’s Cubs game,” he said as he held up a cardstock stub slathered in those perennially boring sports colors, red and blue. “I’m going to travel six hours ahead and find out just how badly the Cubs lose the game. When I’m done, I’ll use this device to get home.”

Ben held up a small, computerized device that clipped onto his belt. It had a screen and inputs, and was shaped exactly like its namesake. “We call this the Boomerang,” Ben said. “I input the exact time I’d like to return and it deposits me back at the machine. No sweat. We’re currently working on an updated model that will take a selfie right as you travel through the wormhole, just like those rides at Disney World.” Ben beamed. He’d come up with that line.

“I’m going to use the Boomerang to return just a few seconds after I leave. For those of you watching, it’ll look like I’ve barely been gone, but I’ll have a complete play-by-play of tonight’s game in my notebook. In a few hours, we can compare it with what actually happens, and then you’ll know I’ve been to the future,” Ben said. He stepped slightly to the side, revealing the entirety of the machine to the camera.

Another reason they’d aimed for so much humor is that the Chronoporter looked imposing, the stuff of sci-fi dystopias. Metal spindles sprouted from the transporter pad, giving the machine the look of a hand beset by rigor mortis. Ben nodded at Jon, who gave the thumbs up, his other thumb hovering over the execute button. Ben glanced back at the camera and smiled. “Catch you on the flip side!” he said.

At that precise moment, rehearsed precision gave way to pandemonium.

Blue-white arcs of energy erupted from the metal spindles, splashing the transporter pad with electricity and causing Jon to duck away from the control panel. The lights in the room blinked out and acrid smoke filled the air. “What the gently caress man, I wasn’t even standing on the pad!” Ben screamed. Jon held up his hands in surrender. “I didn’t push the button, I swear!” he whined. Ben walked over to the Chronoporter, leaned on one of the metal spindles, and sighed.

The lights buzzed back on. The smoke cleared.

Standing atop the transporter pad was a figure clad in a ski mask. He gripped a heavy steel sledgehammer in both hands. He hopped down lightly from the pad and hoisted the sledgehammer up for a punishing swing.

Ben dropped to the ground, barely dodging in time. The head of the hammer whistled past his head. He immediately scooted backwards, away from his assailant. The man ignored Ben and brought the hammer down right into the transporter pad, crushing it to pieces. He’d been after the machine, and Ben just happened to be in the way. Jon stood frozen, like a robot that had been powered down.

Some company from the future managed to reverse-engineer this thing and is trying to literally destroy the competition, Ben thought to himself as he stood up and threw a tackle at the intruder. He knocked the sledgehammer out of the man’s hands and pinned him to the ground. Jon snapped out of his trance and rushed over to help.

Ben ripped the ski mask off the man’s face and stared into his own eyes. They looked a decade or two older, which the graying hair further confirmed, but it was definitely him. “What the gently caress?!” Ben erupted, nearly letting go of his older self. Old Ben opened his mouth, and an incoherent string of words fell out. “Had to stop it all, too much power…water dissolving…the present is perfect…you have no idea…” Old Ben mumbled.

Jon mustered up his meager reserve of courage. “Make some sense, man!” he yelled. “You have no idea what you’re about to unleash upon the world!” Old Ben howled. Then he sunk his teeth right into Ben’s arm. Ben screamed and jerked back, leaving a half-moon shaped piece of flesh behind.

It was just enough to spring him. Old Ben jumped to his feet, snatched up the sledgehammer, and buried it directly into the heart of the Gravity Well Generator, shattering it and sending a shower of sparks dancing across the floor. The lights flickered briefly and Old Ben collapsed. He curled into the fetal position and lay still.

A wet mewling sound crawled out of his mouth and slowly got louder and louder, inhumanly loud. Ben and Jon put their hands over their ears, but it was no use. As the volume plateaued, Old Ben’s body began to change shape.

He melted like some sort of cheap claymation effect. A brown puddle formed on the ground, and it soon began to evaporate. The steam it gave off smelled like burning hair as Old Ben faded from existence.

As soon as the smell had faded completely, the two of them turned off the camera and shakily finished what Old Ben had started.

Your Sledgehammer fucked around with this message at Oct 20, 2014 around 02:42

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

In with a

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Thanks for the crits, folks.

The pain only makes me stronger, and more eager to vanquish my enemies.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/pic...l?frame=3075284

Word Count: 900


Lights in the Vault of the Sky, and a Blueberry Muffin

In the beginning, there was Nothing. The Divine felt very lonely, and wept twinkling, crystalline tears that she collected into her hands. She held her hands tightly and breathed life into the droplets, and when the moment was full, she opened her hands. Fireflies came pouring out, their wings beating out a joyful hum that a discerning ear can still hear today as they fled into the inky void.

Pleased, the Divine set out to create things for the fireflies to illuminate with their cheery, chartreuse glow. One firefly lit over a formless, cold world. Bitter, gray dust choked out the angry, life-giving magma at its core and billowed across its surface, pushed by the insatiable winds that danced through the atmosphere. The firefly was delighted by the formless sphere and shown its light all the more brightly. What the cold rock lacked in character, it made up for in potential. It was a block of marble awaiting a hammer that would inevitably come. The cruel winds would calm into liquid and the rock would slowly take on a temperament.

Another firefly lit over a blossoming verdant globe teeming with life. Furry shapes bounced through trees and winged things gathered in such numbers that the firefly’s glow was blotted out. Creatures scrabbled across the ground and through the muck. They played and killed and loved and ate and sang, driven ever onwards by the uncomplicated joy of being. The firefly was pleased. The creatures would never possess the wherewithal to reach for the spiritual plane, but their lack of shame allowed them a kind of freedom that the firefly would never grow tired of.

A third firefly hummed over a wistful blue marble. This orb too had life, and one particular creature had an intellect so formidable that it had crowned itself king and gone about ordering the world after its whims. The structure and logic it imposed on itself caused it to think it was fundamentally different than its animal brethren, and the firefly was satisfied to let it continue thinking so. After all, it was special.

One day, the firefly peeked through the window of a crooked, tiny A-frame on a hill, where a woman sat waiting for her lover to return from the depressing toil of the overnight shift at the nearby factory.

She’d only been up for an hour and was still in her nightgown, a silky little slip that barely covered her, when Brian burst through the front door and flashed her that lopsided, boyish grin of his. His face and hands were dull with factory grime and his eyes drooped with exhaustion, but he was glad to see her.

Ruthie desperately wanted Brian to think of her home as his home, too, and had done everything in her power to cultivate a domestic atmosphere. Cooking breakfast for him was out, though. She’d baked a chicken for him last week knowing full well that she could barely boil water. One bite of the gray, rubbery mess told her she had failed, and Brian spent the remainder of the meal telling her how good it was while he coughed and his eyes watered. Cooking breakfast was certainly out.

She’d settled for some store-bought blueberry muffins instead. There’s just something about baked goods, and Ruthie knew it was one of the most powerful symbols she could send at a man. After they kissed, she got them off the counter and placed them on the table as eagerly as if she had made them herself.

“That’s sweet of you, baby, but the dayshift supervisor brought donuts this morning,” Brian said. “Oh! Ok then,” Ruthie said with a pinched smile. She got him coffee and moved the conversation right along, but she was more than a little crestfallen.

She decided she’d eat one of the muffins herself, and popped open the box. An overwhelming berry miasma filled the room, and one bite revealed the muffin to be cloyingly sweet, with a blueberry flavor so intense that coffee could barely knock it down. The fact that the muffins were terrible only made Ruthie feel worse, and by the time Brian ambled over to the couch to catch a quick nap, Ruthie found herself fighting back tears.

The relationship would only last another couple of months. Ruthie and Brian would both be left wondering what happened, and that process of digging through the memories for clues would lead Brian to realize how badly he’d misread that morning with the muffins. She’d been so thoughtful and it had gone completely over his head. It was one of those weirdly sentimental things that would morph into a regret so profound that it would even bubble up among his last waking thoughts seventy years hence.

The firefly hummed joyously. The humans thought they were falconers when they were in fact falcons, carrying out the purpose that the Divine had decided before she’d even lit up the night sky. But for all their delusions of grandeur, they were special. They were the only things in the universe capable of that kind of intense, occasionally misbegotten empathy. Only a person could imbue a blueberry muffin with meaning.

The firefly glowed with glee. He’d chosen the right world to illuminate, and he loved the people that lived there. Above him, the Divine smiled, lonely no more.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

In with a

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Obliterati posted:

I will also do three line-by-lines for the first responders.

Many thanks, I'm interested in a line-by-line crit. I guess now is the time for us to reveal which story we wrote?

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

I was the composer of Pumpking and earned my first DM.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Thanks for the crits, everyone, and a special thank you to Obliterati for the line crit. The help and pointers are one of my favorite things about this thread

But yeah, smiting my enemies and drinking the blood of the warriors I have felled and all that

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

En Garde
1200 words (Prompt: autumn water)

The metal detector lay nearly forgotten in the cool sand as Sharon dug for her prize. She made quick work with the spade, her fervor so intense that a passing runner stopped to ask if she needed any help. She’d learned to expect such reactions. Her excitement about these things was never easily contained, and Sharon had given up trying.

It was an autumn day very much like this one, thirty years ago, when Sharon first discovered her unique ability. She’d just come in from this very beach, panting and redfaced but cold, and her mother told her to hang her jacket up in the closet near the entryway. In her hurry to get to the most critical endeavor of her Saturday morning, a Tom and Jerry binge, she threw her jacket over the hanger only to hear it crash to the floor as she closed the door. She opened the door, bent down to gather up the crumpled jacket, and that’s when she saw it.

A dull glint from the dark corner of the closet, behind the shoe rack. She pushed past the rack and her eyes grew wide. A rusty fencer’s sabre, made radiant and triumphant by her kid brain, stood perched against the back wall of the closet, as if the person who put it there wanted it to be forgotten. She reached for it, and when her hand touched the metal, it happened.

Hairs stood up on her neck and arms, and a shimmering warmth spread its fingers from her chest across every inch of her skin. A metallic smell tinged the air around her and a buzzing whine grew louder and louder in each ear until the sound merged with her vision and everything went black. Terrified, Sharon opened her eyes.

A bolt of pure white light crashed across her field of vision, threatening to strike her, only to be met by another line of white. The blades danced and whirled, parry after furious parry, and she was surprised to see that her hand – a man’s hand, no less – was in control of one of the blades. The tip of her blade skittered across her opponent’s white jacket, giving rise to an insistent beeping that merged into her vision and slowly dissolved the scene in front of her eyes.

She was back in the closet. She could feel the familiar wheeze of asthma in her throat and she fought to get it under control. She knew what she’d just experienced was magic, and like any ten-year-old, she knew the first rule of magical experiences was that you didn’t tell adults about them, because they wouldn’t believe you. “Sharon, are you OK?” her mother called out. A quiet living room where a child should have been equaled a steady rise in cortisol for any parent.

Sharon strolled into the kitchen with the heavy fencing sword held awkwardly out in front of her, and her mother was so aghast that she dropped the book she was reading. “Put that back right now, young lady!” she insisted. “But Momma, what is it?” Rhonda ushered her daughter back to the closet with the sword in tow as she explained. “Your goofy father went through a little fencing phase right before the accident,” Rhonda said, her words dripping with adoration.

Sharon’s father, Jack, died before she was born, and all she knew of him came from her mother’s words. Her intense belief that her father was a hero, a knight in shining armor, was buttressed by her mother’s stories, always full of fervent and painful love for the man. This sword was just the cherry on top for Sharon. She stole a quick glance at the picture of him that her mother had made the centerpiece of a wall near the entryway as she made her way to the warm embrace of the TV.

From that day forward, every piece of metal that had a strong memory attached to it produced an overwhelming hallucination in Sharon if she touched it. She always saw something the last person to touch it had seen, and always in a first person perspective. It had to be something special that was associated with a strong memory; keys and kitchen knives wouldn’t cut it. Sharon could count daring bank heists and gun battles from the second World War as among her firsthand experiences. When Rhonda had gotten sick and required Sharon’s care, the first thing Sharon had bought upon returning to her oceanside childhood home had been a metal detector.

Sharon let the memory of that first glorious hallucination wash over her as she dug into the damp sand. The waves threatened to wash over her digging hole and the cold October air closed her lungs until her breath came out in a painful whistle. She had to be close.

One more spadeful of sand and there it was. A diamond ring, its luster dulled by time, sat in a puddle at the bottom of the hole. Sharon knew instantly that this one would be a doozy. She eagerly snatched it and slipped it on her finger.

Hairs pulled up off her arm by some invisible force. A wave of heat across her skin. That familiar fluttering feeling in her chest. A wave roared and crashed against the sand, and the sound forced her into the vision.

A circle of men in fencing uniforms, beer bottles clinking together in celebration. Sharon was in a men’s locker room. “We’ve got an Olympian in our midst!” one man roared as he clapped another on the back, and the whole circle broke into a cheer. Sharon realized with a start that the man being celebrated was her father.

She stepped closer to Jack, and a woman’s hand with a sparkling diamond ring on it reached up to grab him by the shoulder. Jack turned and his smile widened just a touch too little. “I did it, babe!” Jack slurred as the woman hugged him. “The trip to the Games can be part of our honeymoon!” The voice reverberated in Sharon’s ears – the voice of her mother, softened by youth.

Jack’s smile melted away. He lead Rhonda away from the group as the fencers razzed him about needing some private time with his woman. When the two of them were finally alone, Jack sighed. “You know, I never really saw this opportunity coming, especially when we were in college, and…” Jack grew quiet. “What is it, honey?” Rhonda prompted, her voice awash in worry. “I guess what I’m saying is that things have changed, and tonight just settles it for me.”

The scene melted away and was replaced by a familiar beach at night, blurred through tears. A hand hurled the ring skyward, and Sharon watched as it arced into a boiling ocean.


Sharon blinked, and it was morning again on the beach. She felt the blood slowly drain out of her face as she tried to remember to breathe. She took the ring off, and as the first bitter tears fell, she flung it out to sea, where she hoped it would stay.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

In with a

Two DMs in a row is shameful and I know I can do better. Bring it fellow Domers, I'll walk over all of you punks.



E: Someone might want to issue a Silver Alert, Bossdad has been missing for weeks.

Your Sledgehammer fucked around with this message at Nov 11, 2014 around 13:51

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

I'll take a crit. Thanks

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

blue squares posted:

Detailed, awesome crit of my work

Many thanks for this, it was great and helped me identify areas that I really need to work on
I'll be returning the favor quite soon, mostly likely sometime this evening.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Mercedes posted:

You people and your early submissions. You don't get extra points because you submit before Sunday night. Probably could have used a few days to edit your stories.

Mere hours later:

Mercedes posted:

Wraith For Me
Words: 789

The Dome is sacred ground and blatant, unrepentant hypocrisy has no place in it. I'm calling you to the floor, Merc. Brawl time, son.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Crit for blue squares

blue squares posted:

Mr. Electroworth's Shovel Summer Earth / 1,200 words

Just minutes before I whacked my billionaire boss in the head with his own treasured gold shovel, I was thinking about my shoes. Love this opener, especially the way you mix the exciting with the mundane. I'm already curious about what is going on, and that draws me right into the story. I’d scuffed them earlier in the day and I couldn’t get over it. They cost me $400. I never used to spend money like that on shoes or even give the whole affair more than two seconds thought. It’s strange how much you can change when you get some cash in your pocket.

“The real problem is the trees,” he said, waving an arm across the vista. I’d driven him to an overlook of a pristine valley where he planned to build the next great addition to the Electroworth Group Resort Properties. His bald spot shone in the sun. If I held a pair of mirrors just right I could catch my own starting to form in the same spot. Drawing the parallel between the protag and Mr. Electroworth in a subtle way this early is a nice touch. I squinted in the bright day, hot, in the height of summer, the sun beating down and sweat starting to drip down the backs of my legs. Run-on, break this sentence up. "I squinted in the bright day. It was hot, in the height of summer, the sun beating down and sweat starting to drip down the backs of my legs." Still probably too much mushed together but you see what I'm getting at. It felt like little bugs crawling around on me. I held Mr. Electroworth’s famous Golden Shovel in both hands like an armed sentry. A little clunky because it is somewhat unclear what you are referring to with the armed sentry bit, the protag or the shovel itself. "I held Mr. Electroworth's famous Golden Shovel in both hands like a rifle." - more clear and gets the same point across, especially if you were to describe some sentry-like things the protag is doing as an additional clause in the sentence. The same one he used to break ground at his first property over fifty years ago. He later had it gilded, and we’d come out to plunge it into the earth here. Mr. Electroworth didn’t like big ceremonies. There was something spiritual about the way he’d break ground. Alone, with his own hands, as if assuring himself he still had dominion over the earth. Love this line

“The trees,” he said again. “Tough to uproot, and you get so many of those nuts climbing all over them and refusing to come down. They think they can stand in the way of progress. They never learn, my boy. They’re like a weed. You think you’ve crushed them and they pop back up.”
He turned to me. Despite the heat and my own drenched armpits, I couldn’t see a drop of sweat in his thin gray hair or bushy eyebrows. He looked quite cool, actually. This sentence is sorta redundant, and it'd be punchier if you eliminated it. The lack of sweat tells us that he is cool. Not even the sun could have its way with him. “Do you know how to truly kill a weed, son?”

I rested the shovel on my shoulder. “Rip up the roots?”

“You’ll never be sure you’ve gotten them all. No. You pave over them with concrete. Now get me some water, would you?”Nice line, I'm already starting to dislike this Mr. Electroworth guy.

I spun to comply, and the golden shovel spun with me. The thin edge took Mr. Electroworth in the temple and he dropped faster than my stomach.This is sorta clunky to me. I mean, his stomach dropping is a reaction to what has happened, so of course Mr. Electroworth is going to drop faster, you know?

I’d just killed one of the richest men in the world.

Both our lives ended in that split second. Mine was just going to take a while to catch up. I stood staring at his lifeless body and the murder weapon What? Wasn't it an accident? still in my hands.

No one was around. I moved before I even considered it and seized both of his arms and began to drag him away from the clearing where I’d parked. One of his cuff links popped off into the bushes, and I wasted five precious minutes retrieving the evidence.
No body, no conviction, right? That’s what I learned from TV. I didn’t have time to be ashamed. As I pulled the body along, I remembered my first days at the office. I love the way this paragraph ends, nice job.
______________________________

Welcome back banners were strewn about and everyone wore at least three different party hats. I don't get the three different party hat thing. Mr. Electroworth was returning that morning from a month in Sub-Saharan Africa, scouting potential sites and hunting elephants for the cost of only $17,000 per head (double for the little ones). I’d gotten an internship there after the receipt of my PhD in 18th century Scandinavian Literature and my subsequent failure to find 21st century American employment. I really, really love where you take this sentence, but the first part needs some work. "The receipt" is passive and robs the protag of agency. "I'd gotten an internship there after I received my PhD in x and subsequently failed to find y" or better yet, replace received with earned. Many of my friends had found positions at environmental firms. At first, working for Electroworth felt like a betrayal of some essential part of myself. I’d grown up despising such companies.

When I saw the plans for a new resort at Yosemite, right at the top of Half Dome complete with elevator to the bottom, I told one of my old friends. He pointed out several reasons why the project could never get past the regulatory agencies. Relieved, I brought this to the attention of my superiors. A week later, the appropriate parties had been paid off and the project was greenlit. That hadn’t been my intention at all. But I was rewarded with a $5,000 check, and I smiled and said thank you. The money felt good. I like what you are getting across here but the line about it not being the protag's intention is a little bit redundant and could probably stand to be eliminated (you'd have to rework some of the sentences that follow though). I've also got some issues with how you are using the protag's friends as proxies for his beliefs, but I'll take that up at the end.

Pretty soon, my environmental friends caught on and quit hanging out with me. By then, though, I had new friends. Richer friends. I helped establish a resort at the bottom of the Grand Canyon that reached high over the rim and could be seen from anywhere in the park. A part of me still felt it was wrong. But that part got smaller and smaller. Now I’m not sure it exists any more. Now I’d call my old friends “tree-fuckers.”
______________________________

I managed to get Mr. Electroworth’s body out of sight and didn’t have time then to register the irony of using his own prized shovel to kill and bury him. The earth was rich and moved easily under the shovel blade. I couldn’t stand to see his pale face, take out the comma looking accusingly at me. So I started tossing the dirt at him, and that’s what finally woke him up. This whole paragraph is aces, and I especially like the touch of mentioning the rich earth, which reminds us that this is some pretty pristine land that is being "developed."

He sputtered, spit out dirt, and jerked upright, dirt cascading off him like an old jack-in-the-box from the back of the attic suddenly springing to life.Great simile

“What in the hell’s going on here?” he asked. I froze. I’d been so sure he was dead, and now I couldn’t remember why. He looked from the half-finished hole to me. “Did you...?”

I couldn’t decide whether to apologize, lie, run, or hit him again. Mr. Electroworth clambered to his feet, surprisingly spry for a man his age, and plunged his hand into his pocket. I thought at first he was going to shoot me, but instead produced a more dangerous weapon: a cell phone, no doubt to call the police.

I opened my mouth to protest and he stuck up a finger. I was so surprised that I clamped my lips back together.

“Gregory,” he snapped into the phone. “You’re fired. I want you out before I’m back.” The phone vanished into his pocket again.Who is this Gregory dude?

He turned to me and said: “Quick on your feet. Important. Self-preservation is man’s most powerful instinct. It’s what made me the man I am. I need more of that around me. You’re replacing that limp idiot. He was always weak. Now get in the car and drive me to a drat hospital, you son of a bitch.”Mr. Electroworth is an interesting enough character that he honestly nearly overshadows the protag here, not sure if that's praise or a criticism.

I followed him toward the car, stepping into the hole along the way and nearly knocking myself out with the shovel. As the shock wore off, I smiled. I could really be one of them. I had what it takes. I saw mountains in my future. Not snowy-peaked ones; those would have to go, make way for industry. No, I saw mountains of money, all mine, and the earth waiting to be subdued.

You've got an interesting piece here that is full of some solid characterization and good prose. The two biggest points that hurt it story-wise are the secondary characters in the story, the protag's friends and Gregory. They could definitely use some fleshing out, which would have been hard to do while staying within the word count at the same time.

I'd say just eliminate the protag's friends. You are using them as a proxy for the protag's own beliefs, and it doesn't really work. The friends don't stand on their own, and you are obscuring what the main character believes. You don't spend enough time telling me about his actual beliefs, or giving me some reason why the main character has them. It feels sort of tacked on, which in turn has a negative impact on the ending.

Mr. Electroworth comes close to saving the ending. I was genuinely surprised when he woke up and I love his reaction. Gregory, though, comes out of nowhere. I see what you are getting at (Gregory is some sort of executive assistant or something, yes?) but I have to do too much thinking to get there and his appearance/firing is jarring and has no real impact other than to make way for the protagonist, which ends up feeling sort of forced itself, for a couple of reasons. For one, I don't have any real sense why the main character used to have pro-environment beliefs, as I said above (although you make it abundantly clear why he abandons them). Secondly, I really would have liked a moment where he reflects on his past beliefs before making the full 180. By having him immediately be on board with the promotion, you rob the ending of potential drama. You've got something really interesting here (Mr. Electroworth in particular is spot-on), and it was enjoyable and easy to read, but it needs a little polishing.

Your Sledgehammer fucked around with this message at Nov 14, 2014 around 02:49

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME


I'm fine with a delay but I'm not going to drop it. Name your start date, Merc. I also think you should be rewarded a nice, shiny new avatar when I beat you, of mine and the judge's choosing, as a price for the delay.

sebmojo, you still down to judge it?

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Yeah, I've copped a couple of DMs but only for weak stories, and the nearest I got to an HM was probably the best thing I've posted in the thread. I think the judging is pretty fair and the crits are more than worth the price of admission. One thing that helps me, Cache Cab, is to read the week's winning entry. I try to make it a point to do that every time. If you read some of the stories that won/lost/HMed/DMed, it makes it easier to see where you're going wrong in your own writing.

I mostly wanted to brawl Merc because it sounded fun and I find his humor and Mercisms to be pretty hit or miss

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

I'll take a Bennycrit of this story if you don't mind. Thanks so much! I'll gladly trade a crit in return, just pick one of your stories.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Whenever This World is Cruel to Me
713 words

When Jake woke up from his nap, everyone’s gender but his was flip-flopped. He didn’t notice at first. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he strolled out of his bedroom on the way to class. He made it to the door of the common room and turned back towards the couch to say goodbye, and that’s when he realized that he didn’t know the person sitting there.

He lived with his best friend since middle school, Terry. Sitting on the couch was a girl he’d never seen before. He frowned, shook his head, and laughed. “Pretty rude of me to stroll out of here without introducing myself, my name’s Jake,” he said. Strangers were not an uncommon occurrence in the Chateau of Mayhem, as they called it.

The girl started laughing so hard that she had trouble getting out any words. “Jake, what’s wrong with you?” she said.

Jake pinched his eyebrows together and mustered up a half-grin. “I just don’t know you and was trying to be polite, is all,” he said.

“Well let me refresh your memory. Sam Houston Intermediate, first day of class, you gave me half your sandwich after some rear end in a top hat kid stepped on my lunchbox,” she said.

It started as a tiny feeling of cold at the top of his head. Then the cold swept downward through Jake, goosebumps following as it traveled across his skin. What in the blue gently caress, he thought. It was her eyes, chocolate brown and a little droopy at the corners. The same eyes of the dude he’d been playing Playstation with just a few hours earlier. “Terry?” he said, his voice almost a whisper.

“Finally coming out of dreamland, I see,” Terri said, a warm grin spreading across her face.

Jake’s hand unclenched and his backpack fell to the ground. He leaned against the wall, his back sliding down until he was sitting with his head in his hands. The stranger on the couch looked concerned. This has to be a dream, Jake thought. Is Terry the only one? He tried to sound calm but nothing could cover the shaking in his voice.

“Our quarterback is Sean Harris, right?” Jake asked.

“Did you bang your head or something? It’s Blake Hutchins,” Terri replied.

poo poo. I’m pretty sure there was a girl on the cheerleading squad named Blakely Hutchins. “Is there anyone on the cheerleading squad named Harris?” Jake asked.

“I think there’s a Susan Harris, yeah,” Terri said.

A burning pit settled at the bottom of Jake’s stomach. Campus life is already a social minefield, he thought. I’m going to have to get to know literally everyone all over again. I wonder what happened to Mom and Dad? With that thought, the tears began to dredge up to the surface. Jake buried his face in his arm.

“Are you OK?” Terri asked. Jake glanced up at that new but familiar face through the watery film. Her bemused grin had given way to creases of concern. Jake could feel a thought bubbling up through the cloud of confusion and panic. He actually found himself a little bit curious to see the way femininity would affect his best friend’s personality; what sort of new and fascinating layers would he discover in the coming days? That little ray of light faded, though, and Jake settled back into the gloom of his predicament.

“No, I’m not OK. Not at all,” Jake said, the pitch of his voice shifting as the dam finally burst.

He bolted out the door and threw himself down on the porch. Terri wasn’t far behind him, but Jake’s face was already a damp mess. “Hey you,” she said. “I’m not sure what’s wrong, but you can tell me.”

“You wouldn’t understand,” he said.

A small hand wrapped around his upper arm, gentle but firm. “Try me,” she said, as she wiped a tear off his cheek.

Jake took a deep breath. Those chocolate eyes stared back at him, their edges lined with sympathy. There’s a person here that I know deeply and yet don’t know at all, he thought. He took her hand and felt a gentle squeeze as she smiled at him. And in that moment, Jake knew that everything happened for a reason.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

In,

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Anathema Device posted:

In

I will also do three in-depth crits for stories this week, just link your story.

I'll take one for this story. Thanks muchly

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Benny the Snake posted:

Bennycrit-Your Sledgehammer:siren

By the way Sledge, mind if I take a rain check on your crit? I have a feeling I'll need it soon. And sorry it took so long.

No worries! Thanks for the crit. And a rain check is fine, feel free to cash it in whenever

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

I'll take one, thanks Entenzahn!

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Observations
699 words
Experience is a comb nature gives us when we are bald

Sometimes I could almost make out a face on its surface, a sort of cocky death rictus. Nature’s last laugh.

“It’s definitely getting bigger,” I said, squinting up at the night sky through my telescope. “What did the news say the latest projection was?”

Eric offered only a dull grunt, unable to tear himself away from the computer screen. The impish grin became rock once again as the meteor rotated away from human eyes, the only life below capable of interpreting the dark metaphor of its features. The other side of it wasn’t nearly as interesting, so I turned to Eric.

“About a month, right? Give or take a day or two,” I said. Eric ripped off the headphones and glared at me.

“Dan, why can’t you just go skydive or gently caress all day or blow your life savings in Vegas like a normal person? You’re really harshing my buzz with all that meteor poo poo,” he said. I held in a laugh.

Eric glowered at me through a curly red beard that unwittingly blunted his masculinity. Below that, Che’s impenetrable mug, the shirt still caked with dried blood from the arrest that concluded Eric’s last treesit. After a week of panic and denial when the news broke three weeks ago, Eric had settled into a hedonistic routine that never really lived up to what he was aiming for. He was always sunny in the mornings, chattering about the bucket list items he was going to tick off that day. 9am would give way to an hour or two of internet porn, 4pm would find him drunk or high, he’d follow dinner with a furious bout of switching between texting every girl who’d ever graced his contact list and swiping right over and over again on Tinder, and the night would conclude with what was currently occupying him, getting through the boatload of games he’d bought during Steam sales. Not that different from a college routine that wasn’t being affected by impending Armageddon, really.

“Don’t you want to know more about what’s going to do us in?” I said. “The dinosaurs never got that privilege. There’s something kind of poignant about it all, I think.”

My routine had not changed much, save staring up at it every night. Each week had brought a new layer of meaning. When the initial depression still had its hold, I kept thinking about that old pseudoscientific, quasi-mystical truism about us being the Universe looking at itself. If that were the case, then the Universe decided to black out its own eyes, and I couldn’t say I blamed it too much. However, I’d come to look at it the last few nights as a seed of sorts. It would bury itself in the soft earth and blossom into a nightmarish tree, its bark made of stacks of bodies and its leaves a sickly green of purest human suffering. But maybe the fruit it bore would eventually nourish something or someone, and there’s a little shred of hope in that thought, isn’t there?

Eric looked at me like I had spiders crawling all over my face. “You’re spending too much time with that drat devilscope, you know it?” he said. “I’m getting worried about you, man. You should come get high with the drum circle people tomorrow night.”

Eric had spent the entire first week with the drum circle, until they finally realized that their collective kumbaya power couldn’t drive the meteor away. “What do they think about all this?” I asked.

“They think Mother Nature is a cranky bitch,” he said as he turned back to his game.

I closed my eyes and could see it, scraping the ocean floor as it kicked up a killer cloud of dust and steam, a giant nail on a chalkboard. And that’s when I felt a key clink snugly into a lock in my mind, and then I understood.

“You know what you should tell the drum circle?” I said.

“What?” he muttered.

“The dust cloud this kicks up will solve global warming.”

The tapping at the keyboard stopped and ten minutes passed by in utter silence. Then Eric shut the computer down and went to bed.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

If Benny is so keen to brawl, I say let him brawl. For the next three weeks, let's allow the loser take on Benny in a little 250 word micro contest for the chance to hang the dunce cap on Benny's head instead.

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Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Critical. It's a major faux pas to be a handful of words over, much less hundreds. Being over the word count gives you an advantage over other participants and you'll be disqualified.

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