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Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Coming soon: Me, wiping the floor with all of you

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Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Guess who's back with a brand new lap(top).


I'm in. Not written words for quuuuuuite a while. And I'm busy for all the days left to submit. However, PAIN IS TEMPORARY, GLORY ETERNAL

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Empty Cups - Word Count: 1004

“I don’t know if you heard already, but Henry’s dead.”

“Hm?”

“You know - Henry P.”

The name drags me back to the land of the living and I turn to look at C. properly.

“What?”

C. takes a long draw on the joint, then flicks the ash into the still evening air before acknowledging my question. If I didn’t know him any better, I’d have said he was milking a melodramatic pause, but C. takes his time with everything. He holds it in his lungs and exhales with almost exaggerated languor before leaning forward to pass it over and settle back into his chair.

“Yeah. Killed himself. Couple of weeks ago.”

“Oh yeah? How?”

I sound insouciant, but I’m not, not really. I’ll tell anyone with a straight face that I hate gossip, hate prying into other people’s business, so I guess that makes me something of a liar. I know that I’m probably the last in a long line to hear about it too, seeing as these days I’m perpetually out of the loop as well as out of town, but human interest is human interest even if it’s past its sell-by date.

“I heard he sealed himself in the kitchen and Kchhhhhht~

He mimics the twisting of knobs with his hands, and hisses through clenched teeth.

I laugh. “I suppose that would be an appropriately hip way for him to do it.”

I don’t say it, but the story seems too perfect to be real, nod to Sylvia Plath aside. They don’t make them like they used to. The old monoxide coal gas ovens, I mean. To kill yourself with a gas oven these days, that’s not exactly easy. It isn’t necessarily that I don’t believe C., he wouldn’t lie about something like this, not on purpose. But it sounds too much like a prank, a joke, guilelessly reported second-hand. I wouldn’t have put it past Henry to pull a stunt like that.

At that moment I found myself stuck in the gap between fact and fiction. I didn’t know what to believe. While it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that Henry had killed himself, strange and tormented individual that he was or had been, the story was just too ridiculous. Were the circumstances of his suicide just a malicious Chinese whisper, passed and altered along a chain of increasingly dismissive old acquaintances? Was he even dead? Or was it true in point of fact - had he meticulously wadded the doors and windows of his dingy student digs kitchen, turned all those cheap plastic knobs to full and slumped down against the shoddy Ikea MDF cupboards, consciousness departing for the last time to the unceremonious sulphuric stink of natural gas, leaving behind only some unwelcome therapy sessions for the ditsy art-student girl he undoubtedly lived with, who had probably already dreaded something like this in the darker corners of the day, and a lot of sad paperwork. I wondered why he hadn’t just got a hosepipe like everybody else, but then I realised I wasn’t sure if he had ever learnt to drive or got a car of his own. I imagined that pale, goofy teenager I had known at school. Pictured his lopsided smile - but twisted into a grim smile of intent - as he crushed some novelty giraffe draught-excluder under the door that a concerned relative got him for Christmas one year, seeing as students these days, they don’t even pay for the heating what with all the gas price hikes and-


C. cracks a broad grin at my laughter, as if he had been reserving his reaction to keep it in time with my own - as if I might be upset or circumspect about it - but he should know me better than that. For a while we run slip-shod over a cultural taboo, dredging the depths of poor taste in the search of hipster and gas related puns. Eventually C. excuses himself to desecrate the virgin porcelain in the downstairs bathroom, and I extract my phone to fire off a few subtle inquiries, though in retrospect, they were more likely along the lines of “hey man, is it true Henry killed himself??”

I finish off the dirty end, and send it cartwheeling into the long-suffering bush in the garden where all good roaches come to rest.

Somewhere on the main road, a siren wails. It sounds ridiculous but I get nostalgic for that noise, living most of the year up where the only thing the police deal with is drunk farmers in pubs and disputes over herbaceous borders. I close my eyes and bathe in the familiar and comforting doppler-effect as the car races past on the way to wherever it’s going. It occurs to me, dimly, that the habitual poisons of city living are going to my head rather quickly. It has been a while.

A few staggered buzzes emanate from my phone. People better at answering their phones than I am getting back to me. Unbeknownst to them, they are in consensus - Henry is indeed, dead.

I slip the phone back into my pocket and lie back. I stare up at the sodium light-polluted night sky, and as always my eyes are drawn to the only constellations I ever recognise - Orion’s belt and the Big Dipper - only barely visible through the umbrous evening cloud cover.

In that moment, I’m not really happy or sad. My mind is blank, a mirror to the darkness above. The moment feels like an empty cup, an absence waiting to be filled, filled by reflections on forgotten conversations poignantly recalled, on the fragile nature of lives and minds, on the transience of existence.

But the cup never fills.


C. returns, having taken his time, from the bathroom and gives me a look with those heavy-lidded eyes he always gets after a few.

“You OK?”

I nod vacantly.

“Want me to grab a couple more beers from the fridge?”

I do.

Jeza fucked around with this message at Feb 17, 2014 around 00:32

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


I will give a proper line-by-line to someone who wants one, over in the Fiction Farm thread though so it doesn't clutter here.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Palisader I also wrote a crit for you in the Fiction Farm thread, not seeing the one here. Entenzahn and I overlap on a lot of points, which although they are negative, is probably a good thing?

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Odyssey - 25 Words

The siren song of the high-tension cabling calls, and they come, teetering, wind-swept like ancient heroes at the edge. They seek, but they shan't find.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


In. My timezone is GMT. Don't mind teaming up - can PM me or sometimes find me on the IRC.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


The Leper Colon V posted:

Quid, I submitted a decent story this week.

saving face

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


finally a prompt that plays to my strengths

In

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


A Knock-Out Blow - Word Count: 1188

ThwapThwap. Thump.

Sickening feedback, solid and meaty, like punching a lifeless carcass. There’s no more ducking and weaving, no more rolling with the punches. No signs of resistance whatsoever. Seventh round and he’s still standing but it’s been over since the third. The crowd isn’t cheering, not anymore. The whole arena practically hisses from the absence. The man’s counter-jabs are soft, even pathetic. Sergei brushes them aside like a child’s. The referee is leaning in, just waiting for a sign, desperate for any reason at all to call a No Contest because the ref knows, like Sergei knows, that Andrey’s corner won’t ever throw in the towel. Any resemblance to the boxer he’d once been had evaporated since the second down. All that was holding him up now was his pride. And to throw in the towel would rob him of even that forever after - he’d surely never forgive them. Andrey’s grotesquely swollen features couldn’t hide his determination to go the distance.

Phwup.

A telegraphed uppercut slams hard into Andrey’s lower abdomen and he bends double. The mouthguard hangs loose from his mouth, saliva dripping onto the mat. His guard, up for so long, against all the odds, drops.

It’s an opportunity and Sergei takes it. Has to take it. He just wants it to be over.

Another full-swing uppercut, this time to the chin. It sends the older man reeling backwards, in a daze.

He goes in for the kill, bringing his best right cross round and into the man’s temple. It’s the kind of perfect, brain jarring blow that ends careers and dreams. There’s no grace in it. Just the cold intent to sever consciousness. It’s a trademark blow, usually sends a crowd into a frenzy of excitement. But right now, it looks gruesome. Sick. Cruel.

Andrey doesn’t slump dramatically, or fall to his knees like in the movies. His body is slammed into the mat from the force, connecting with an echo that seems interminable in the pindrop silence of the auditorium. There’s no movement from Andrey on the mat, not a twitch. He just lies there like a dead man.

The bell is ringing and the referee is crossing his arms. Sergei watches from outside his own head. He recognises absently that he’s won, finally won the belt. The referee raises his arm, and then his corner deliver his belt, because that’s what they’re expected to do. His trainer’s face is a mask. And now he’s expected to gloat. Raise it above his head. Look happy about it. There’s a smattering of applause from the audience that dies away quickly.

A stretcher comes from the floor. Andrey isn’t moving at all. They roll him on top of it and hurry him away. Sergei’s meant to give a speech, but he’s not going to. Not this time. A girl with a mic is smiling, bravely, perhaps the only person there. She tries to approach, but Sergei gently moves her aside, slips between the ropes and starts the walk to his ready room. Nobody stops him. Nobody dares.

#

Three days later in Tartu University Hospital, Sergei waits. He looks ridiculous with his ill-fitting suit and bouquet of daffodils. The attendant at the front desk had eyed him with suspicion before begrudgingly giving him the right room. He keeps wiping his palms on his trousers, leaving an embarrassing wet marks.

Finally, there’s a crack of door latch. From the room, a young boy, perhaps seven or eight, slips through holding hands with a little girl, younger, more like four. They scamper, like only kids that age can, past Sergei to a thickset man down the corridor. The man receives them both into his arms. The man - a relation? a family friend? - looks up from the hug, and catches Sergei’s eyes only for a moment, full of hatred. His look seems to shout: See what you’ve done?

The man turns away, shepherding the children off somewhere, somewhere away from this miserable place.

The door is still ajar, but Sergei knocks anyway.

“Come in.”

A woman’s voice, a schoolteacher’s, gentle but firm.

Sergei enters.

“Ah. It’s you.” The woman’s voice is unreadable.

A single bead of perspiration runs down from Sergei’s temple. He’s never felt so nervous, not in his entire life. This is a confrontation he’s dreaded more than any fight in the ring.

“I-I brought some flowers…” he stammers wildly.

“That’s very kind of you,” the woman intones.

Her features are taut, the kind of face a strong person makes, a person with self-control makes when they’ve shed all the tears they can spare. She is beautiful, in that transient Eastern European way that time is undoing as quickly as possible. Her impeccably made up, lacrimose blue eyes communicate a depth of feeling that leaves Sergei feeling at sea.

She sits, palms atop one another, on the single chair beside the hospital bed where Andrey is lying. Tubes slip beneath his crisp white sheets, unsettling by implication. He looks pale, his breathing rhythmic and shallow. Machines murmur, and emit gentle, reassuring beeps.

Sergei proffers the limp daffodils, too long out of water, like a peace-offering. She takes them, feeling the sweat-slick plastic wrapping around the stems.

“I’ll find a vase for them in a minute,” she reassures him, placing them down on cabinet.

Silence hangs in the air. Nothing that Sergei can think to say seems right, every question beckons like an abyss, dark and endless.

“Have you come here to ask for my forgiveness?” she asks, coldly curious. “Because I’m not ready to forgive you.”

“I- He-” Sergei flails. He fights with his fists, not with words.

She purses her lips at him.

And that’s all it takes. His mask of cultivated composure slips from his face and the tears begin to spill out from his eyes, first a stream, then a river. They course down his great, puffy red cheeks and gather in drips at the bottom of his chiseled jaw.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” he bawls.

She’s taken aback. She expected contrition, or defensiveness. But not this. She almost laughs at the sight of the colossal boxer weeping, not out of spite, but from sheer surprise. She gently puts one pale hand on his, a motherly instinct despite herself.

He wipes one suit-sleeve across his face like a schoolkid, leaving a snotty wet smear.

He sniffs, and looks at the serene, motionless figure of Andrey. He reaches into his jacket pocket, pulls out a photograph and hands it to her. It’s an old film picture of a boxing match, sun-bleached and crumpled. She recognises it. It’s a picture of her husband, from years and years ago, winning his first title belt. She turns it over. On the back is a message written in black marker:

To Sergei. Thank you for your letter. You don’t know how happy it makes me to hear that you want to be a boxer like me when you’re older. I wish you the very best of luck. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be holding this very belt yourself!

Yours sincerely, Andrey.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


In. I don't mind judging if you're lacking volunteers.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Yeah not sure if you got message on IRC but I'm not gonna be able to submit this week.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


In

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Likely to be late as well, but hopefully not a total failure.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


quote:

Now they looked like somebody had just sprayed their table with poo poo-mist.

I will crit whoever chooses one of my favourite lines of fiction. Either one, both, or I guess none. But you'd be missing out on a great line. (The best line)

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


leekster posted:

I'll crit you. Give me to the end of the day.

Edit: Don't worry about giving me a crit. This story was a non sequitur mess and it isn't worth the effort to try and fix.

The gently caress is this? Don't edit out your story.

Let me break it down for you:

1) You edited it out because you were embarrassed about the quality because you think you can do better.

Doing so is a loving dick move on those who put forth and is a blatant attempt to avoid "losing".

or;

2) You edited it out because you think the story is bad and you aren't good enough.

Believe me TD has seen worse. And you'll never improve by being afraid of judgement. Everybody starts somewhere unless they don't start.



Neither look good to me. Put the story back in - if you edit it from the original submission you can still submit but you will be disqualified.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


leekster posted:

I meant the prior week's story. I didn't edit anything out. That was an addition to my post. Sorry for the confusion. Thank you though for the advice.

I regret nothing.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Bees! BEEES! - 21 Words

A King-Kong made entirely out of bees was not what Frank McKinley was expecting on his commute to work that morning.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Sitting Here posted:

I'll just be over here waiting for that crit Jeza

Crit for Sitting Here's Thunderbrawl entry:



Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


In

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


sebmojo posted:

never complain

never explain

heard that's your motto on your family crest, the one with a medieval knight plunging a nib pen into a lion's heart in order to use it's blood as ink

my heraldic crest bears a franciscan monk getting beaten to death by a large stone cube and the words "writers, block this"

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Black Holes - 1010 Words

“Local System Cruiser Sturm und Drang to Penrose skiff To Boldly Go, come in.”

“This is To Boldly Go, reading you loud and clear Sturm und Drang.”

“Looking real nice from where I’m sitting, Ellen. Everything green on your end?”

“Differential sails are nominal. Everything else within expected range. I look like a butterfly carrying a brick. Flattery won’t get you anywhere, Sturm.”

“Acknowledged. Projections show you have a two minute window until you won’t have enough spare Delta-V left to abort. Still happy to go through with this?”

“Yes.”

The word contained more conviction than Ellen Algerias felt. Happy was the wrong word entirely to describe what she was experiencing, some thick concoction of terror, thrill and gritted determination.

Who said you couldn’t have fun at 103 years old?

Without graphical-assist, the view from her cockpit was black. A vision-filling starless abyss. This was the ultimate form of that primal fear of the dark, the kind where children cry for nightlights in their bedrooms. But it wasn’t monsters hiding in the darkness she was afraid of: it was the darkness itself.

Crossing Delta-V threshold in 10...9...8…

“Computer, disable countdown.”

The point of no-return passed in silence, and her nerves settled in that contradictory way that nerves tend to when you no longer have any choice.

From the breast pocket of her loose denim jacket, she extracted a smokeless cigarette and lit it. She picked up the ancient cap that sat on her lap, the faded UNSA logo still faintly visible. She wedged its crumpled unstylish form on her head.

“Computer, re-enable graphical assist.”

Neon green, blue, white lines sprang into life before her, the overlay plotting current trajectory, Boyer-Lindquist coordinates, astronomical bodies, and numerous other bits of jargon she could hardly remember from lectures half a century past. She had eyes only for the convergence of lines - the oblate ergosphere, the Schwarzchild radius and the event horizon.

The sound of the Sturm und Drang comms officer came through her console, fuzzy and strangely distorted.

“Our telemetry indicates that your thrust levels will be going too fast for our transmissions to reach you soon, Ellen. Now would be a good time if you have anything you’d like to pass along.”

In case you get broken down at an atomic level and shat out as radiation were the words left tactfully unsaid.

“Wish me luck, Sturm.”

“Good luck, Ell…”

The transmission petered into static. At that moment, in the empty silence, only the dead were further from human contact than her.

“Computer, what is my current velocity?”

3192 km/s, rising to a projected maximum of 3824 at ergospheric threshold at current radiation pressure levels.

Mind-bogglingly fast. Yet with no points of reference, she felt strangely static. Not even smears of starlight to convey a sense of motion. Breaking speed records wasn’t like how it used to be in the days of old. Out here, there was no wind to sting your eyes or course through your hair.

It might have been thought that space travel would bring with it new frontiers, freer frontiers, for pushing the limits of speed. Like the whole universe was almost one infinite, unblemished salt flat out there just waiting for us blaze across it. But with the advent of the FTL Disjunction Drives, that dream had vanished into thin air. Mankind was able now to move impossibly fast, all without ever truly moving at all. Speed had become an irrelevance. The universe moved for us, not us for it.

So ended the era of the speed pioneers. It was unlikely anybody had travelled faster than Ellen was right now in decades. But she was planning to be the fastest. As her great-grandfather had been once, she would be again.

Approaching event horizon

“Prepare to release Penrose payload.”

Confirmed. Payload primed.

Ellen watched the lines come together on her nav-screen, an intertwining of soft-blue and white.

“Release.”

There came a clunk, the first tactile feedback since she had fired the detachable boosters at the start of her gigantic run-up, as the hyperdense osmium mass she had trawled all the way with her fell from the bottom of the skiff and beyond.

Penrose payload delivered successfully.

Infinitesimally, the supermassive Kerr-Newman black hole lost a fraction of a fraction of its angular momentum. But that fraction applied to her frail craft was a surging tide. Following the edge of the event horizon, the crushing gravity of the black hole did the rest, starting to drag her round in a languid arc, accelerating the whole way.

6000km/s….9700 km/s….24,000 km/s…

The sound of the computer’s drone faded into indistinctness. A hissing noise filled her ears, but she couldn’t work out whether it was coming from inside or outside her own head. How fast had they been before the D-Drive? What was the record?

...irregularity in port dorsal sail…

The whole craft began to rattle, like it was made of plywood and canvas, thrown into a buffeting gale.

“Compensate!”

She shouted over the hiss that was now deafening. And at that moment, her skiff crested, and she saw stars, thousands and thousands of blurring bright lines, more brilliant than she had ever seen.

The soft-blue of her nav-screen read 112,000 km/s as her skiff corkscrewed, and the stars fell away from view once more, tantalising. Was it fast enough? She looked to her withered hands and smiled, knowing that it was.

Pitch blackness returned to swallow her screen, and she was face to face with the darkness. The hissing stopped abruptly. The lights in the cockpit winked out. And then she was in the arms of the darkness completely, slipping her fingers around it.

In its embrace, she pressed her form into it to feel; to listen. But between her fingers and in her ears, all she found was-

nothing.

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Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Meeple posted:

All velocity in space is relative, this is a meaningless concept. I am irrationally angry about this story because I like hard sci-fi a lot.

think ur so smart how bout u brawl me

ill kick ur butt so hard it'll go flying thru the vacuum of space real fast m8


physics nonce

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