First time in the Thunderdome, looking to improve my fiction writing through unrelenting pain. I submit my virgin keyboard to your torments.
Gonna go with this one, start off real simple.
e: Does "from the perspective of" limit us to 1st-person perspective, or is 3rd person with a biased perspective okay?
Jay O fucked around with this message at 12:35 on Jan 21, 2014
|# ¿ Jan 21, 2014 12:13|
|# ¿ Sep 27, 2023 12:25|
And I Knew
Wikipedia Link: Odd-eyed cat
Drew had just been fired the day he came home to find Robin holding "Wally." That was Drew's excuse for slamming his eyes shut so tight that it hurt his brain, pressing his fingers into the bridge of his nose, and hissing out a "drat it Robin" when she swung the fluffy white surprise out from behind her back. Wally's ears thumped back flat, his tail sliced swaths of protest behind him, and his clawed feet stretched forward in mock strangle of his new "daddy." In truth, neither needed excuses for their feelings. Drew didn't want a cat, and Wally didn't want Drew.
Drew fought with Robin about the new cat, Robin fought with Drew about losing his job, and at the end of several circles of verbal exhaustion, they reached their grudgeful "sorry baby"s and quick kisses, same as always for the past five years. Robin nodded and smiled when Drew insisted he could get a better job. Drew barked a tolerant laugh when Robin said she only took the cat in because "he looked me in the eyes and I knew, I knew he was mine."
Wally took in the whole event and only yawned out apathy.
Drew's next week melted and slid and folded back onto itself. Mornings were spent filling out portions of one application after the other. Lunchtime found him at interviews, avoiding eye contact with bored shift managers his age or younger, too often younger. Afternoons began with Civilization and ended up somewhere in X-Com. With evenings came Robin, who now kissed Wally before Drew when she came through the door. But Drew had grown to like Wally more over that week. They started spending time together as no more phone calls came, and Drew's afternoon games bled backwards into his entire day.
And why not? Wally was soft, quiet, and odd-looking, removed only in species from his reluctant papa. He demanded little, and purred approval lapside of Civilization, X-Com, and wherever else Drew's mouse went. Drew's eyes were a faded vein of polar blue, and that was only half-true of the odd-eyed Wally, with sapphire in his left eye and gold in his right, but Drew liked to think they saw things the same way.
The visions began without warning.
Unlike Drew, Wally never took his eyes off Robin. When she went on about woes in the workplace, her new favorite podcast, or started a thought but didn't finish it, Drew always listened, but only Wally watched. Drew would stroke the cat while his girlfriend, his best friend, and his only friend rambled. He stared at Wally and saw illusions of Robin in the creature's eyes, clearer and thicker the more sure he became that they were really there. He didn't understand how, but he could see her, really see her, in the blue and gold of Wally's eyes. Her face and her heart blended into an image more felt than seen before him, a meniscus on the glass of Wally's dull gaze. Image? No. Images. Robin in blue was not always Robin in gold, and least of all when Drew spoke to her.
"No, I haven't heard back from the temp place. But gently caress them, right?"
In Gold: her laughter, agreement, encouragement. He could hear it in the air same as see it through Wally, so he knew it was real.
In Blue: her frustration, suspicion, boiling bile. Those feelings were silent, invisible in the world outside Wally's eyes.
They couldn't both be real, could they? Could that all be inside the same person, the person he loved? Soon quiet, soft, odd-looking Drew couldn't keep his mouth shut.
"It's more than the figures, though. The WarHammer universe is really intricate. You like Terry Pratchett and Monty Python, you'd love it."
In Gold: all ears, adoring, admiring his passion for the things that truly made him happy. In Blue: boredom, beleaguered with details of things that didn't matter, and a bitterness pushing in on her brows that Drew didn't understand the meaning behind. It occurred to him that the blue was deeper than the gold, if not deeper in her, than pushing deeper into him.
He couldn't stop seeing them anymore. The colors soaked into his head whether Wally was around or not. He now saw twice as much of Robin daily, and he couldn't get enough. It hurt, but it was easy. It was pain without effort, and after a while, the visions still came, but the pain went unnoticed. Wally too went unnoticed. Once or twice Drew's mouse-hand came down for a scratch in response to his pleading mews, but not much more. The screens in his head exhausted him. There were so many visions it made him deaf.
Drew's last question between them was innocuous. His lips shaped without purpose a "How was work?"
In Gold: There was a new trainee today. I'm in charge of him. He's awkward but boisterous, eager to learn but easily distracted. He'll fit in, with time.
In Blue: The words were the same, but Robin's eyes were looking past him. Her face held a radiance he hadn't seen in any color for years. Had he ever seen that face before at all?
Drew put a trembling hand out to rest on Wally's fuzzy head. Wally, at peace, closed his eyes and purred.
"Aw, baby!" Robin giggled, "He's your best friend."
|# ¿ Jan 27, 2014 07:00|
I have been greatly dishonored! Erm. Not-so-greatly dishonored. Dishonored by submitting a half-baked story-fetus. Not a terrible way to enter Thunderdome, I guess.
I'm in again, gimme dem 80's.
|# ¿ Jan 27, 2014 23:14|
me like a big wimpy babby
Same. At least my excuse was that I was writing two other things on deadline? Yes yes, I know...
and I'm picking Tin.
|# ¿ Feb 5, 2014 16:28|
Word count: 1,195
The crows called out when they saw Martin coming up the hill. He could hear them, even through the drum and roll of the rain off his poncho's orange hood, and it sounded to him like laughter at his expense. He cursed at them under his breath, and he cursed the mud harder. It was a slog to plow uphill one foot at a time, dropping to his hands every few minutes to shove against the sliding downhill muck when his boots got sucked under and trapped. He wasn't here because he wanted to be.
Schloop! Tripped again. Martin smashed into the ground face first. He could feel the cold, wet clumps of jagged earth pressing into his belly and rainwater pouring in little rivulets down his pants. He pulled himself to his feet, yanked his shirt down, and hissed more swears.
Then he saw what he had come for, yards ahead of him, and his throat tightened.
"Sh-poo poo. poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo..."
Martin kept chanting his sutra of poo poo as he clambered up the soggy grass and soil to the Tinhouse. It wasn't made of tin, really, but that's what he and the guys had called it back in high school. Corrugated tin roof, rusty tin panels on the walls, so it was a Tinhouse, right? But the carcass of their old haunt, underneath the tin-skin, was all just wood, and rotten wood after years of neglect. A wave of mud had slammed through the back of the Tinhouse. Water streamed down the hillside and through this new back door, blocked only a little by the trunk of a gnarly dead elm tree that grew behind the shed. Martin knew it must be flooded inside. He'd hiked all the way up here for nothing.
With level ground under his feet again, Martin shot around to the back of the shed and breathed a sigh of relief. The torrent of mud from above had crumpled in the back of the Tinhouse, but it had also formed a dam, forcing the water and muck to fork along the sides of the shack's outer walls and splash down the hill. Gave me a lot of trouble on the way up, he thought. But if the Tinhouse wasn't flooded, maybe some stuff could be salvaged.
Martin tore open the front door. Some water rushed out, and the floor warped under his feet, but it wasn't Atlantis in here yet. The gamebooks should all be on the second shelf in the corner. All Wizards of the Coast stuff, most of them with original sheets, some with the supplemental stuff.
Martin shuffled off the backpack he'd been carrying--another high-school relic--and piled every one of them inside. The guy at the comic store said 750 flat for the whole lot. Some of these looked real old...could be less than they were worth...definitely less, the more he thought about it. But he was already a week behind on rent. Too late to think about eBay. Comic store guy could pay him that day, if he was still there. Martin left, what, 40 minutes ago? So 40 minutes back?
drat rain. drat mudslide. drat bills. drat--
Martin realized he was staring at a few pepperings of metal in the muck at his boots. They weren't rocks, too oddly shaped and...familiar? He fished one out of the earthy slime. Tin. It had a little head, lopsided arms, and big clumpy feet melting into a bigger clumpy stand. The little tin staff was made too thin and the end had snapped off at some point. Oh. That's right. He made these.
The books belonged to Chris, originally. He was a good DM. He took the game seriously without forcing anyone else to. This figurine was made for him. It didn't look like much, but it was supposed to be a god-thing, with a beard and a staff. That's all Martin did in high school. He played D&D and he made little figures. There was more than enough tin left over from making the Tinhouse, and it was easy to heat and bend while everyone else was tallying numbers or arguing semantics. Chris was a bland-lookin' guy and he always DM'ed. He didn't have a game character, so Martin was proud of what he had come up with for him. Bland or not, Chris was the only guy in the group who had a girl. Still did! They were married now, with a kid. He seemed happy now.
Thunder rattled the shack's ruffled roof and snapped Martin back to reality. He really should get going, but...were there more of his figures in here? This storm was probably going to wash away most of the Tinhouse. They'd all be gone.
Martin set his backpack down and started picking through the sludge like a sandpiper for all the little treasures he'd made.
There was Mark, a dwarf. The baby of the group, they used to pick on him for needing a ride all the time. He was graduating college this year.
This rusty one was Eddie, a mage. He flaked on half their meetings, but he was funny, so they kept inviting him. Graduate school now, engaged.
Martin pawed through the mud for six more minutes, but his own figurine never turned up. Whatever. He could be running out of time, and a one-inch tin ranger smushed together by a high-school dropout wasn't worth anything. He slung his old backpack over his shoulder and schlepped back out through the slop, bracing himself for a long leg-locked trek back through a torrent of muddy water.
Martin froze. Crows collected shiny things, didn't they? He looked up at the dead elm behind the shack, full of dead nests. There was something dull amidst one little clump of twigs, copper wire, and earth.
The rain was coming down harder now. His muscles ached and his lungs burned. The way down might even be slower than the way up.
He dropped the backpack and swung his leg into the crook of the tree. It pinched his foot, secure but a little painful, and he hoisted himself up to the swaying, soggy nest about ten feet up.
There were bits of wire, glass, and metal laced throughout the melting nest, but all Martin saw was Ranger Thranmoor, leader of the Timberland Warriors. He twirled the tiny hero between his thick fingers.
Hey buddy. It's been eight years.
It wasn't going to pay his bills this month. He might not have an apartment to bring it back to for long. But...
The wave of mud from the mount above him rushed down almost silently, but the force was incredible. It shook the thick elm. It swallowed his backpack. It swept away two crows as five others screamed and took flight. It swelled to six inches below his shaking feet before stopping. He could walk from the tree to the Tinhouse roof on the new ground. So he did, quivering in shock.
Martin sat on the roof with Thranmoor until the rain stopped. When his heart finally stopped racing, he tightened his bootlaces and prepared to head home.
Word count was murder on this one. Once again tried to do too much. But I wanted to rewrite my debut word-vomit story in a way so the core idea made sense, albeit more cheeseball. I promise after this, no more chubby tabletop nerds.
|# ¿ Feb 10, 2014 05:46|
In, let's see what dumb poo poo I can dig up from me youth.
EDIT: christ, there's a lot of entrants so far, right off the bat.
|# ¿ Feb 11, 2014 20:06|
The 4th floor had no water on the night of the Nimton Hall flood. That's the part that always seemed weirdest to me. At first it was just a few girls wandering the halls, whispering complaints of no shower, no faucet, the toilets won't flush, but not ten minutes later, the plumbing gods heard our prayers and sent rain in spurts and dumps from the bathroom ceilings.
The main water pipe to our freshman housing tower was ruptured, the fire department explained. Somewhere between the 5th and 6th floors, the pillar of white-painted steel in the stairwell retired from pipedom for no good reason. No two weeks' notice, no warning leak, just a 1 AM Poseidon adventure for every sleepy co-ed in the bottom half of the building.
I stood fascinated in the doorway of our floor's sole private bathroom, watching geometric rain shoot down in sheets from the creases of the fiberglass tile. You could twist the faucet knobs and flush the toilet with bone-dry results, but just a few feet above those logical fixtures, impossible water came down in droves. It overflowed the sink, was quickly filling the bathtub, and eternally drumrolled the toilet seat. I hoped it wasn't building to a "ta-da!" of rain in our private rooms too.
Yes, lucky for us, individual dorm rooms on the floor had concrete ceilings. Umbrella'd from the madness, we only had to worry about a quickly mounting overflow rising under our doors. Not good news for messy students. Me, I envied messy students. I was outright slovenly, and even after securing my electronics and books above ground, I couldn't fix the mess that followed me outside my room. My stuff was safe from the rising tide, but I wasn't.
More than anything, I was mad at the Nimton Hall flood for exposing how gross I was to everyone else on the floor. My greasy rooster-tail of hair gleamed under the fluorescent lights, crowing to all that I hadn't showered in a couple days. My face, already broken out from stress and greasy food, felt swollen and sweaty from the rude awakening. I was even forced to roll up my fleece pants and share my two-weeks-unshaved legs with the world. It was November, and I'd lost my job and my boyfriend inside of two days. Honestly, the job hurt much worse. gently caress my ex. But whatever the reason, no cash or bad blood, I stood in that doorway and hated that flood.
I was an iceberg in our 4th floor ocean. Some girls flew in a shrieking panic from room to room, knocking on doors and fiddling with their phones. Others, smarter than me, stayed in their rooms and tried to sleep the nonsense off once they realized an inch and change was as high as the water would go without escaping down the stairwell. Too self-conscious to help but too curious to retreat, I just squatted there for half an hour like a toad under a flashlight.
One of the loudest girls in the littlest disaster relief team, a hefty blonde named Megan, eventually saw what I was (not) doing and beckoned me over. I flinched from the eye contact but shuffled over the squishy carpet to see what she wanted.
"Fifth floor is where all the water's coming out. Can you take them these trash cans and towels?"
I peeped "yes" and made my way to the inside stairwell. A reeking wall of some smell between chlorine and mildew smacked me in the face. I nearly lost the fresh towels to the spiraling river that had taken over the core of our building. There were fresh human eyes to shrink under in the stairwell too. People looked down from floors and floors up to watch the winding waterfall, and laugh at all the dummies who tried to descend it in traction-less shoes. The concrete steps had been transformed into slippery river stones under Minton Falls' power. Me and my flip-flops only had to salmon our way up one floor, so I took my time, not eager to become entertainment for the upstream balconies.
What did it matter, though? This night couldn't get any worse.
I opened the door to the fifth floor and entered Shangri-La.
Nimton Hall was a co-ed dorm with odd floors for boys, and even floors for girls. This odd floor had become much odder after bearing the full brunt of the water main's collapse, and the chaos was beautiful in a way I hadn't expected. There were dozens of boys in water up to their shins slamming towels under doorsills and bailing trashcans full of water out windows. There was laughter and splashing and even one man's despair at a lost macbook or textbook was met with assistance from others adrift.
Maybe one in five were wearing a shirt. No one was wearing pants.
"I'm here to help!" I squeaked out.
A few heads turned my way, and for reasons I still don't understand, I wasn't embarrassed or angry. They must have seen my gross hair and fuzzy legs, but they were looking at the fresh towels and buckets, which got a few claps and "oh thank god"s. I was grody, but this was a real crisis. These beautiful unclothed men were in crisis. And I could help out.
I stayed on the fifth floor for the rest of the night, laughing and cursing and getting messier and sweatier by the hour until the water was shut off at sunrise.
|# ¿ Feb 17, 2014 06:57|
Oh good, I get to have "Everything is Awesome!" stuck in my head all day.
In. And flash rule me quick, before I even know it happened.
|# ¿ Feb 18, 2014 20:25|
I have chosen my set! (So...dibsies if anyone else was considering it but doesn't want it to be a double, I guess?)
Had this one as a kid. I don't think I was aware that it was supposed to be a "time train," though. The emblem from the medieval sets and the spiral from the space sets just confused me.
|# ¿ Feb 20, 2014 07:11|
You guys are picking lovely sets. Here is a list of amazing sets to base your story off of if you haven't picked something already:
Soundtrack for writing about said choices.
|# ¿ Feb 21, 2014 02:38|
Professor Millennium's Conflicted Cadavers
based on the Twisted Time Train
"They were going to split my bones up, that's what they were going to do! Put them in bags, perhaps break them in half and poke around in the marrow. They'd even catalogue every tooth in my head! That's what Professor Millennium said. So when heoffered me a job on this train, I said to myself, 'This'll keep all my bones in one place for a while!' I figure that's enough for me! How d'you feel about working for our mysterious Professor? Worth the effort?"
The ghost sighed out an ephemeral puff to fuel the boiler, and Professor Millennium's train chugged on. It took all his energy to keep the engine going, and none to listen to the skeleton's story. Asking him for a response was asking too much. So he simply bobbed and lit up his aura in affirmation.
"He employ a lot of smoky fellows like you?" the skeleton asked. "Or d'you think he prefers post-mortems with a little more substance?"
At this remark, the skeleton thumped his ribcage with pride.
The ghost inhaled deeply and spoke.
"I. Stooooooke. Yooooou. Drive."
At this, the Professor himself came bursting in from his cabin, fiddling with his pocketwatch while his mustache twitched in thought.
"We've got a full cabin this year, boys. Post-mortems of all ages, sizes, and circumstances with places to be. But! They seem to be enjoying the ride, and that's what matters. How are you fellows doing?" Millennium asked, "Getting on well?"
"My colleague has a potentially admirable work ethic, but frankly I find his gloomy disposition fairly unpleasurable," said the skeleton.
"Ruuuuuuuude," replied the ghost.
Professor Millennium laughed, and poked his head outside the cabin. He watched the swirls and pockets of time, space, and dimension swim by, thick and amorphous and intimidating, but he trusted his two newest hires to find the way through them.
"You'll get on fine with time. Just look how well you drive the train together!"
The skeleton shrugged, then poked his featureless head into the ether as well. His hollow skull filled with the scents of the eternal void before them, and something in him knew which tracks to follow in that grand expanse of all that ever was or ever would be. His bony fingers twitched with excitement when he sensed that maybe, just maybe, a satisfying something lay just past what he could see over every mountain of vapor the train would climb. But if nothing turned up, there were other mountains ahead. So he imagined more track over the abyss, and it appeared.
The ghost could remember nothing, not even who he was in his past life, but his spirit overflowed into the burner, fueling the train and funneling back into himself just as the train's wheels turned in an eternal circle. There was satisfaction in the turning, the feeling of moving forward, even if he knew not where to. It was wonderful to burn, to feel, to taste the warmth of the train wrapped around him at all times and know that he was warming it for Millennium and all his post-mortem passengers. He was moved that Professor Millennium had hired him, and he didn't need to know why.
He wished he could depart the train someday, though. Plenty of drivers, from skeleton to spirit, and all other partial echoes of human life, had embarked and departed over the centuries, but every time they reached the end of the line, Millennium shook his head and simply punched the ghost's ticket for the return journey. He had never known a skeleton as obnoxious as this one, though.
Millennium sensed the ghost's moment of sorrow and smiled gently.
"My dear ghost," he said, "do you remember why I said you weren't allowed to depart the train last time?"
"Boooooones," the ghost sighed, "Never laid tooooo rest."
Millennium nodded, and took the skeleton's hand in his.
"Hey now!" the skeleton objected.
But he fell silent when Millennium put his bony hand into the boiler's flames. Memories flooded through the fire and into the ghost's aura, and he felt something like a heartbeat follow them. When he tasted the long-lost flavor of untold memories, the train sped up and roared its whistle.
"Try and get to know each other," Millennium said, "I think you'll find you each have a lot to give the other, before the end of the line."
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2014 05:52|
Oh poo poo, forgot to post what my flash rule was: "A forensic examination must be integral to your story" or something like that.
(also blarrrrrgh, there are a few spacing errors in my story and I can't edit it. <> )
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2014 06:00|
|# ¿ Feb 25, 2014 23:39|
Systran did not like me and EchoCian's story at all (Ocellus), and sebmojo did. I AM LOST AT SEA. Longer crit requested so I can find ways to improve it.
|# ¿ Mar 4, 2014 00:41|
"In," Jay O interjected.
|# ¿ Mar 4, 2014 03:41|
In, and Flash Rule please!
|# ¿ Mar 11, 2014 05:28|
|# ¿ Sep 27, 2023 12:25|
Hey, lotta important poo poo came up this weekend, so my submission is gonna be late, can't finish it by 9 PM PST, I'll just eat the DQ. (Hopefully it's not loser-bad. Can't take the pos. of judge if I were to win anyway, because I'm headin' out of the country with limited internet for 10 days starting tomorrow. Hence the busy weekend.)
Don't wanna be 'ed though, so I'll have it up, just more like around 2 AM PST. Blegh, sorry.
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ¿ Mar 17, 2014 03:12|