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Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


I'm IN for the first regular prompt of the year.

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Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Dissolution
(1,057 Words)

Detective Kennington bolted to his squad car and drove home without the siren on. He didn't call for backup. If he knew the man on the other end of the phone call, and he was confident he did, bringing friends would just make him unpredictable. He parked on the street and, with his service revolver drawn, slunk up to his front door and gently pushed inward. The old hinges squealed, dashing Kennington's hopes of a stealthy entrance.

It wouldn't have mattered. A youngish man with old, dark eyes sat on the stairs facing the front doorway. He held a woman in a choke hold, a chrome-plated pistol pressed against her temple. Her face was stained with tears and runny makeup.

"You made pretty good time!" the man said. "I hope you didn't run any red lights on my account. That'd be an awful burden on your soul, I know."

Kennington clenched his jaw. "This isn't funny, Bruhl. Let Sara go, all right? Your quarrel's with me, she hasn't done anything wrong."

Bruhl's face twisted into a grin. "Of course, Sir Galahad, I wouldn't want to impugn my honor. No, I think she stays with me for now, buddy."

"Where are the kids?"

"Hmm, let's see... I slashed their stomachs, watched them bleed out all over the carpet, and then baked the remains into meat pies."

Kennington fell to his knees, a look of anguish spreading out over his face.

Bruhl rolled his eyes. "They're locked in the bathroom, fool. Christ, I might be a... what were your words, a 'morally bankrupt individual'? But I'm not some psychopath, give me a little credit. Besides, doesn't that M.O. ring a bell?"

Kennington got to his feet and steadied himself against a wall. "Of course. Butcher Barry did tend to leave an impression." He shuddered. "That whole ordeal was awful."

"Are you joking? That ordeal was wonderful, those were the best six months of my life! Not to mention, finest police work this town has ever seen. And that was you and me, buddy. That was what you threw away."

Kennington snorted. "Oh, please. Do you even realize who you're talking to? What'd you expect me to be, the cool uncle who looks the other way while you score some high-school booze? The real world doesn't work that way, Bruhl. If you see human suffering as an opportunity to make a quick buck, you don't deserve to wear a badge."

"So I didn't live up to your standards? That cuts, Kennington, that cuts deep." Bruhl sneered and ran the nose of his pistol through Sara's dark blonde hair. "Watch out, you might rattle my cage. I tend to develop a little twitch when I'm rattled. My index finger gets the worst of it, and I'd hate to make a mess in your charming little entry hall. Why don't you start by dropping that gun?"

Without hesitation Kennington tossed his revolver into the living room. In a single motion, Bruhl stood up and pushed Sara towards the Detective. Kennington hugged her tight for a moment, but then motioned for her to move out of danger.

The detective released the tension from his shoulders. "You're not going to do this, Bruhl. You don't have murder in you."

Bruhl sneered and raised the pistol. "Maybe you don't know me as well as you figured, buddy. Tell me, does it keep you up at night? Ratting out your best friend, I mean? I'd be more inclined to let things go between us if you at least felt bad about wrecking my entire life."

Kennington shook his head. "Sorry, partner. Forgive me or don't, but I can't regret what-"

A shot cracked through the air and slammed Kennigton in the stomach. He fell back limp, arms splayed on the carpet and eyes glazed over.

"Sorry, buddy," Bruhl said morosely. "You deserved a better way to go."

"I'll say he did, you son of a bitch." Sara stood over the body of her husband, his old service revolver clutched in both hands.

Bruhl raised his eyebrows. "Hold on, Missy, don't get too worked up. I got what I came for. Let me go now and I promise you and your kids won't come to any harm."

She pulled the trigger and a blast of sound rocked the entry hall. The bullet ripped through Bruhl's abdomen, blood jetting out the exit wound onto the white wall behind.

"Agh, Christ," Bruhl shouted. "What the gently caress do you think you're-"

Another discharge, another bullet, this one through Bruhl's leg, bursting his kneecap and strewing tendon and bone across the carpet.

"Oh, god! Wait! He had this coming, can't you see that it's-"

Three more violent, sulfurous bursts of energy from Sara's hands. Three holes in Bruhl's chest. His ribcage, cracked and beaten, dug into his lungs. He used his one good leg to nudge himself back as each sharp breath ripped at his insides.

Sara advanced on him, face contorted into a teary grimace, aiming at his head and about to pull the trigger when another hand rested on the gun, nudged it away from its target. Detective Kennington, aching and hunched over, pushed past his wife and sunk to the floor beside his ravaged, broken former partner. Gently, he hauled up Bruhl's shattered form and held him close.

Bruhl looked up at him and flashed a shaky grin, his teeth crimson-stained. "Bulletproof vest? I thought you trusted me, partner."

Kennington felt himself melting into sobs but steeled himself, clenching his fists and driving fingernails into his palms. "Nope." His voice was weak and hoarse. "I didn't trust you, not for a second. But I know you."

Clarity seeped back into Bruhl's dark eyes. His glare jabbed like a nail into Kennington's heart. "I guess you know me, all right, buddy," he hissed. "And I know you. I know you're a double-crossing liar... a naive fool, a hypocrite... and worst of all you're a g... uggg..."

Bruhl's last words died off in a gurgle, but Kennington knew what they would have been. Their Friday-evening semi-inebriated discussions on philosophy at the bar across from the precinct always ended with Bruhl accusing his partner of the most grievous of sins. "You know what I can't stand about you, buddy?" he'd say with a bleary grin. "You're such a god-damned optimist!"

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


JuniperCake posted:

No. Do not do this.

This thread is not the place to defend yourself or rationalize/make-excuses in the face of critique. If you absolutely must respond to a critique the only good response is: Thank you. That's it. What you are getting is their unfiltered impression of your work and how it comes across to them. Explaining what you meant after the fact has no bearing on what you actually did write and how people are going to interpret it. If you want to fix the problems the story has, then revise your story and submit it to the fiction thread we have in this forum (not this thread). Then you can see if you made it more clear and if people are seeing what you want them to see.

To be fair, I think their response to that critique was pretty reasonable- there was an explanation of what he/she was going for, but it wasn't presented as "well there was all this stuff here and you were so dumb you didn't get it." The writer more or less admitted that it wasn't clear enough but provided a brief explanation as to what it was intended to say. I don't see the problem with a quick response like that as long as it isn't butthurt/defensive and doesn't turn into an annoying back-and-forth.


JuniperCake posted:

Also, when you originally posted your piece, the first thing you did was apologize for a piece that you knew was going to bad. For future reference, you should never ever do that. Never tell the reader that the story is a waste of time before they even get a chance to look at the first word. It is the absolute worst kind of self sabotage and it does not make you look humble it makes you look insecure.
saying.

This, however, is good advice. Let your piece speak for itself- you might be surprised to find a piece that you're really proud of gets a rather blah response sometimes, and something you churned out to meet a deadline might somehow hit the right notes.

Also, in Thunderdome, we don't make excuses. We bow out gracefully, and come back next week.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Martello posted:

whers my crit t-dog?

e: oh yeah, also in for this week

Nikaer Drekin fucked around with this message at Jan 9, 2014 around 22:21

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Vertigo Blues
(946 Words)

Roman stared at Isobel Martin, transfixed by how she dangled thousands of feet above the forest by her fingers. His hands hurt just watching her. Somehow she trusted the steel I-beam jutting out from the tower to hold, to not be rusted through or cracked, or at least thought that this odd, white-knuckle Zen state she craved was worth that risk. True, the risk wasn't life-or-death anymore, but a broken neck would still mean a few painful weeks at the cellular replenishment clinic.

"Roman! Pull me up!" Finally she'd had enough. He grabbed her by the forearm and hauled her up and over the beam until she sat on it, legs still dangling over the side. She turned around and sat cross-legged, facing him.

"Thanks," she said. "That was a rush, but my fingers can only take so much, you know?" She grinned at him. "Well, Mr. Ramirez, do you have an answer for me?"

Roman groaned. "I told you I'd think about it, and I'm still thinking. Besides, are you sure this is the best place to have this conversation?"

"Sure it is! Up here, if you tell me no, I can shove you off."

"God, please, don't even joke about that! I don't know how you keep convincing me to come up here with you, I feel sick unless I keep my eyes straight ahead." He sighed and clenched his eyes shut, trying to reel in a sense of calm. When he opened them again she was sticking her tongue out at him. He couldn't help cracking a smile. "Look, Isobel, I'd love to be able to take a running leap into this with you, but there's too much to consider. Hell, after a few hundred years, we'd probably get sick of looking at each other."

"That's no problem. Every century or so, we could get some major plastic surgery, keep things fresh."

"Come on, be serious. Name anyone you know that's made it work for more than a couple hundred years."

Her face scrunched up in thought, and then she shrugged as if to say no I can't think of any, and that doesn't prove anything, and also shut up.

Roman sighed and said, "Y'know, I sort of envy the people that lived before cell replenishment, the people who lived and died. Yeah, they only got a short stretch of time on Earth, but maybe that's all people were meant to have, you know? Now you've got to think ahead, I mean way ahead, because every bad step you take is going to haunt you."

"Oh, quit being morbid," Isobel snapped. "Yeah, people didn't have to deal with the consequences of their actions, at least not forever. But they also had to cram a lifetime into an insultingly short space." She stood up and began to tiptoe along the I-beam, hands outstretched like it was a tightrope. "Besides, we're not teenagers talking about eloping because our parents will never approve. Mom and Dad love you, they love the work you've been doing for the firm. You're practically family already. Why not make it official?"

Roman scooted away from Isobel, to give her room to pace. He was quiet for a moment, listening to the whistle of the wind and Isobel's gentle, steady footsteps on steel. She held herself so confidently, so bold and fierce and light. It was hard not to fall in love with her every second. He thought of another man looking at her like he did, his own face growing stale in her mind at the same time. Living forever, the probability for any one thing happening, no matter how small, turned into a certainty. Give it enough spins and the roulette wheel has to hit double zero.

Roman said, "I can't."

Isobel stopped mid-step. "What?" She leaned forward, took another step, but her tennis shoe slipped on the edge of the beam. Her whole body wavered, center of gravity wobbling until it went too far, her outstretched arms not enough to keep her from toppling.

As she started to fall, Roman leapt up without a sliver of caution, dashed along the beam and lunged forward as gravity began to take her. Both hands thrust out, he caught her by the waist, at the same time trying desperately to hook his feet onto the lip of the beam. They caught and he locked his legs, arm muscles protesting but holding tight. He began to breathe again, realized he had been looking down for several seconds, but the realization didn't faze him. He knew what he was really afraid of.

Roman hoisted Isobel up, her face stark white, and almost had to brace himself again as she threw her arms around his neck. He felt her breathing slow and heavy on his shoulder.

Roman said, "I can't... I can't risk living without you. Five years or five million, I can't imagine anyone better to spend 'em with."

She leaned back and looked at him, eyes brimming with hope. "Are you sure?"

He laughed, not knowing why but just did it. "Not remotely, no. Maybe that's not the point. But we're lucky, we've got plenty of time to figure it all out." He held her close, and she held back. He felt somewhat lightheaded, but couldn't tell if it was from the thin air, a burst of adrenaline wearing off, or maybe even the intoxication that came with plunging ahead into the future.

Isobel smiled and dug her head into his shoulder. "Fine by me. So where do you think the wedding should be?"

"Anywhere you want. Just one condition, though."

"What's that?"

"Let's have it on solid ground, huh?"

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


In for the mystery prompt, because who can pass up a mystery prompt?

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Occupational Hazards
(999 Words)

The Lotus took a drag on her cigarette as Mrs. Berkowitz wept in front of her.

"Could there have been a worse time?" Mrs. Berkowitz wailed. "Things were looking up! Benny'd finally found a stable job, he kept talking about how good it felt to be providing for us, to do real work with his hands." She dabbed at her face with a stained handkerchief. "I'm sorry, you need the facts, not my grief. All this isn't important."

The Lotus exhaled, let out a tendril of smoke. "Everything's important. Mrs. Berkowitz, I can't promise that I can bring your husband back. It's a possibility, of course, but all I can promise you this: I will do absolutely everything in my power to find out what happened to him."

* * *

An hour later she stood outside the Hammond Inn, a rickety three-story shack outside the factory district of Prospero. Mrs. Berkowitz had said Benny often stayed there when a shift ran too late or the next one started too early. She walked in and found a few ruddy laborers drinking and milling around. A squat bald man stood behind the bar. The Lotus sidled up to him.

"Are you Mick Hammond?"

"The one and only, Missy. Anything I can getcha?"

"No, thanks. I'm The Lotus, private detective. I'd like to ask you about a patron of yours. Benny Berkowitz?"

"Ah. Yes. Look, why don't we, ah..." He gestured toward a corner with two high-backed chairs.

The two walked over and Mick began fiddling with the furniture. A corner of the carpet was bent up, so he kicked it down. He shuffled the chairs around so they faced each other more directly. The Lotus put a hand on his shoulder.

"Let's just get down to it, Mick. The chairs can wait till later, I'm not picky."

"Sure, yeah." He gave his chair one final nudge and then plunked down in it. The Lotus sat in hers.

"So, Mr. Berkowitz often stayed here?"

"Yeah, he'd come here for lunch or after work for drinks. Occasionally he'd stay overnight. You know, I'd had this feeling. He hadn't popped in for a week or two, and that isn't like him, you know?"

"Oh?"

"He was in here practically every day for a while. Of course, that was before the Blue Gibbon opened up down the road."

"Blue Gibbon? Is that a..."

"A bar, yeah. Or a gaming club, I don't know. I don't fraternize with the competition. You know, far be it from me to spread gossip, but I've heard the place might be mob-run. Sketchy Italian types, you know."

"Right."

"Once Prohibition ended, a lot of those mafiosos had to go straight, or straight enough anyway. I think Benny mentioned he was spending some time there."

"Hmm. Thanks, Mick. I'll look into it."

Mick nodded sagely. "No problem. Anything to help out a friend."

* * *

At the Blue Gibbon, The Lotus was invited in back and offered a cigar. She couldn't help but accept. The manager, Larry Spica, was a near-bald guy with a long, drawn face and soulful eyes that lit up when she mentioned Benny Berkowitz.

"Benny! How the hell is that sonovagun?"

"Missing, unfortunately, Mr. Spica. Tell me, what was your general impression of him?"

"Great guy. Straight and narrow, you know? But not in a dull way."

"How was he with money? Any outstanding debts?"

"Not that I can recall. I'm not intimately aware of individual tabs, but from what I gather he kept on top of things, you know."

"Mind if I take a quick look at your finances? I don't mean to intrude, but..."

"If it helps Benny out? Sure, sure. Just a sec." He got up and leaned out the doorway. "HEY, JIMMY!" he bellowed. "GIMME YOUR TAB BOOK A SEC, ALL RIGHT?"

The Lotus pawed through Benny's records and found that he did keep remarkably on top of things. He spent some dough, but never in excess. He never kept an outstanding amount on his tab.

The Lotus closed the book. "You're right, Mr. Spica, everything seems in order here. Just one more question: do you know exactly what Mr. Berkowitz did for a living?"

The man scrunched up his face in thought. "You know, he never said. Something rough-and-tumble, though. One time he came in with bruises all over his face, a real mess. I asked him what had happened and he just shrugged, said it was an occupational hazard."

* * *

The Lotus went back to the Hammond Inn just around closing time. The bar area was empty, and Mick Hammond sat in one of his high-backed chairs reading the paper. He looked up at her.

"Hey, Miss Lotus. You talk to those mob guys? I bet anything they knocked Benny off."

"Actually, Mick, they seemed just about ready to marry the guy." She gestured towards the floor. "So why don't we just see what's underneath that carpet, huh?"

Mick's face darkened. "Hey, Missy, this is my joint. You don't get to bark orders at me."

"It'll only take a second, Mick. Unless you've got something to hide?"

He grimaced for a moment, and then shoved the two chairs off of the carpet. He pulled the rug away, and The Lotus saw a wide trapdoor where it once was.

Mick's face had gone white. "It's the liquor cellar. Where I keep the, uh..."

"...liquor?" The Lotus smiled. "Well then let's go see it."

The Lotus climbed down the ladder after Mitch and flicked on the lights. A dusty boxing ring stood in the middle of the cellar, beer bottles and cigarette butts strewn all around it.

Mick sighed. "It was one bad blow to the head. Three minutes passed before I realized he wasn't just knocked out."

The Lotus kept quiet, stared at the dried blood ground into the white floor of the ring. She traced the rim of the stain with her finger and wondered what she would tell the widow of Benny Berkowitz.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


In, with Video-Enhanced Grave Marker.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Prompt selection: Video-Enhanced Grave Marker

Posthumous Rex
(837 Words)

“Are you making GBS threads me, girl? Fifteen motherfuckin’ minutes late. Do you think this is acceptable, or what?”

Denise sighed. “Mom, they kept me late at work. What would you like me to do, quit?”

“Maybe I shoulda left you my fuckin’ pocketwatch. Christ above, they’ve got clocks at your work, don’t they?”

“You’re missing the point, Mom, I can’t-“

“Answer the question, motherfucker. Have. They. Got. Clocks. At the motherfuckin’ hospital?”

“Yes, Mom. Yes, they do have clocks at the hospital.”

“Well then, I’ll tell you what you’ve gotta do. You still have that boss with the pointy nose? Jimmy, Johnny, whatsis fuckin’…”

“Jeremy.”

“Jeremy! Old hook-nose, big-rear end nose Jeremy, that’s the motherfucker. Well, I tell you what.”

“Mom…”

“You take one of the clocks down off the wall, right, when it’s about quitting time…”

“Mom!”

“You take it into Jeremy’s office, right, and you put it on his desk real gentle and quiet. Then you grab old Jeremy by the back of his head and smash it down, slam Jeremy’s big honker right down in that bitch. And that’s when you say, ‘It’s quittin’ time, motherfucker!’ That’s what I would do!”

Denise watched the image of her mother rear back and let out a hard, cackling fit of laughter. She felt something bubble up inside and before she could catch herself, she heard her own voice saying, “Mom, are you sure the techs didn’t make a mistake scanning you in? That doesn’t sound like you at all.”

The projector swiveled, the image of the late Mrs. Livingstone moving to lean against the steel-blue wall. Her holo-image still smiled, running on the fumes of good humor. “Oh really, Ms. Smarty? Who the gently caress do I sound like, then?”

“I’m just saying, I don’t remember you ever confronting someone like that! Like when they messed up your prescription in the hospital…”

“Yeah, I gave them what loving for, I remember that.”

“But you didn’t even tell them! The doctor walked in, asked how you were doing, and you just glared at him, pulled this sour face and tried to stare him down.”

“Well, it worked, that’s for fuckin’ sure. They never messed that poo poo up again.”

“I had to chase after him and explain what happened, Mom. He thought you were constipated, was going to get a nurse to help you out.” Denise looked up to her mother’s image and saw her lips pressed and twisted together like a clenched rear end in a top hat, the same look she’d given the doctor. Denise’s eyes widened and the mischief drained from her face.

The image said, “Do you like to lie to your mother?”

“What?”

“Does it get you off? It seems to me like the last shred of respect you had for me has been chucked out the window, you pitiful bitch.”

“Please, Mom, I swear I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Don’t you know where you are? This is a sacred place, you stupid little stinkyhole.” She jerked her head toward the white-marble box floating in the center of the room. “You come to my eternal resting place and mouth off like this, you might as well take a squat over my motherfucking corpse.”

“Oh God, Mom, I wasn’t trying disrespect you, I promise! I was only having fun.”

“Well, I’ll tell you what. If all you want to come here for is to stomp on my face and piss up my motherfucking nose, if that’s your idea of fun, you can figure out the motherfuckin’ rent money for yourself this month.”

Denise froze and began to hyperventilate. “Jesus Christ,” she said, starting to shake with sobs. “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ…”

“Don’t you dare blaspheme here. See, this is the lack of respect I’m talking about. It’s like an odor, girl. Until you can shake it, you’re intolerable to be around.” A moment passed, and then her mother snapped, “Quit your motherfucking weeping.”

Denise jolted to attention. She wiped her eyes with her sleeve.

“My inheritance is not a guarantee, girl.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You have to earn it, else you don’t get a penny.”

“I understand.”

“I’m not sure you do, bitch. But you will someday, when you grow up.” The image flickered away. Denise heard the projector whir down until it cut off entirely, leaving her in the silence of the mausoleum.

Three nights later, Denise slept in a pod-motel by the train station. She was curled up like a fetus, with barely enough space around to stretch out her arms. She clutched her suitcase close. It was stuffed with the few things in the world that were hers and padded with her meager life savings.

Perhaps days, weeks, or years later, she would crawl back to what was left of her mother. Then again, maybe she wouldn’t. Denise Livingstone wasn’t dreaming about that. She dreamed that she was a hardy worm that had just burrowed its way out from underneath a mile-wide black boot. For now, she only wanted to wriggle in the glow of the sun.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Erogenous Beef posted:

POINT #3A: NO ONE LIKES READING ABOUT TWO HEADS TALKING

A point made often by our own SurreptitiousMuffin - you cannot hang a story on dialogue alone. Many of you either started your story with two nondescript characters talking in a nondescript place or, worse, transitioning into this. If more than 50% of your story is dialogue, think very very hard about what you're doing.

God Over Djinn posted:

Nice choice going almost-dialogue-only, too.

AAAAAGGGHHHHH I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO THIIIIIINK

Seriously though, thanks guys. I agree that I should have put forth the idea of Denise being financially dependent on her mother earlier on- otherwise her freakout at the end seems a bit unwarranted.

Also I guess E. Beef hates all plays, good to know! (just kidding i love ya man)

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


I'm also in, but I'd also like a flash-rule as well as a judge-selected decade (preferably somewhere in the twentieth century!).

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


The Leper Colon V posted:

Signing up for this was a terrible idea.

too bad baby bitch

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Decade: 1970s
Flash Rule: Whatever happened to Eddie Aikau?

The Many Ends of Eddie Aikau

Eddie Aikau battled the choppy current, his stocky limbs cutting through the waves. He was straining to reach the white speck of a cruise ship on the horizon. The lives stranded behind him gave his weary body another burst of vigor. The thought of them drowning alone rattled hollowly in his brain, so he focused on it, convinced himself that he could prevent that tragedy by staying the course.

Every time he bobbed his head up to breathe, he also made sure to squint upward to the boat. To lose sight of it now would mean death both for him and the rest of the expedition’s crew, so even when the sunlight reflected off the waves and stuck his eyes like daggers, Eddie still stared through. What shocked him, then, was one particular breath where he looked up and saw straight ahead easily, eyes resting on the distant, white hull.

Eddie stopped his progress for a moment, bobbing in the surf and noticed an immense blot of darkness spreading over the water in front of him. Panting, he tilted his head back and saw a mile-wide disc gliding like a glacier over his head. In another moment, the center of the disc hung over his head and the entire object halted at once.

A circle of light opened above Eddie Aikau, and a beam stretched down and yanked him out of the water. His body dripped saltwater as the choppy waves seemed smaller and smaller, when-

“Bull-poo poo, Robbie,” Herman said as he took a swig of Bud. “You a fuckin’ idiot? UFOs aren’t real. I didn’t know you were some kinda wacko conspiracy nut-bag?” He sighed wistfully, gulped down some more beer. “No fuckin’ way.”

Robbie pounded his fist on the table. “Hey, what the hell do you know about extraterrestrials? You think it’s all some Close Encounters thing, flashing lights and happy music kinda poo poo? And then they invite you on board outta mutual respect? No, my friend, these UFO visitors thought Eddie was a superhuman. They’re doing all kinds of tests on him right about now. Poor guy. He didn’t deserve that.” He finished off his scotch and slammed the glass on the bar. “Hey, another, please?” He turned to his left. “Bernie, what do you think about it?”

Bernie shrugged. “Dunno. I’m no expert on all this paranatural stuff, I… ah… eh…” He trailed off, punctuating the sentence with a gulp of his whiskey sour.

“What the gently caress do you think Bernie has to say about it?” Herman interjected. “I’ve lived by the ocean all my life, and I’ve seen some things, take my word for it.” He paused. “In fact, I don’t think you’ve got a bad idea of it, Robbie, but you’re thinking of things in the wrong direction. Listen:

Eddie Aikau battled the choppy current, his stocky limbs cutting through the waves. He’d been swimming for an hour or more with the little resort island in sight, but it didn’t seem to get any bigger. All of a sudden his muscles locked up and he found himself sinking wide-eyed through the ocean. Gills popped up on both sides of his neck. Oh, he thought. So it’s finally time.

He clutched onto the shame and regret he felt at having to leave the other expedition members, but it was no use. Try as he might to thrash them about, his arms remained free-floating, dangling above his body. Eddie tried to imagine how Atlantis had changed during his decades on the surface. He hoped that they would still remember him, just as he was sure that the human race would keep his name in their minds.

He couldn’t wait to see everyone. He beamed at the thought of all the stories he could tell.

“What the hell is that poo poo?” Robbie said.

“Do your own research, Robbie-boy. Do some thinking for yourself, and maybe you’ll change your mind.”

“By research, you of course mean ‘gabbing with the homeless winos down at the wharf’, I assume.”

“Well, pardon me, but at least the oceans sustain life. How does the lack of air work for those space aliens you were on about?”

“I know what happened to Eddie,” Bernie peeped.

Robbie raised his eyebrows. “Well then, Professor, how about explaining your theory?”
Eddie Aikau battled the choppy current, his stocky limbs cutting through the waves. Aching, straining, he pressed on until time tore open right in front of him.

Unable to curb his momentum, Eddie tumbled through the temporal vortex. Somehow he felt the years fall away, heard a distinct light zipping sound as modern history whizzed by his ear, droplets of water flying off his body into the nothingness, until…

The vortex dumped him with a flourish on the other end. Eddie splashed back into the ocean and bobbed, the veins in his head pulsing. The world spun until he focused on a spot of black bobbing wildly in the water. He snapped into action, whipping forward like a seal until he reached the thrashing thing.

The thing was a man, one with a coarse black beard and a heavy black coat. The coat had soaked up so much water that it was dragging the man down like a lead net. Eddie tore it off and hauled the man up.

It was only then that he the huge old ship looming close by caught Eddie’s attention. He kicked toward it, the man’s thrashing slowing to a halt, leaving only his steady, waterlogged breaths.

“So, wait,” Robbie cut in. “He saves the captain’s life and he just… makes Eddie captain? Is that how that works?”

Bernie said, “Yeah. I think so.”

Herman stared Bernie down for a long moment. He sighed and said, “Sure, works for me. Bartender, another round for my pal Bernie here! On me!”

The bartender slid Bernie another whiskey sour. Bernie beamed.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


I call tungsten!

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


ReptileChillock posted:

Nikaer: I don’t get it, who the f is Eddie? Why are they arguing? What happened?

Eddie Aikau was a famous Hawaiian surfer/lifeguard who went missing in 1978 when he was swimming to get help for the other crewmembers shipwrecked with him. They all got rescued, but Eddie was never seen again despite a widespread search. I had no idea who he was either, before being assigned this flash-rule, so I din't blame you for not getting the context!

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Jude Sherman’s Squeeze
(1,193 Words)

Aphrodite Studios, Soundstage A
Los Angeles, CA
June 1954


As Sarah Milkweed gazed at the set, she had a moment of religious epiphany. Suddenly it was all so clear. There was indeed a God, one who so loved his creations that he gave them two profound gifts: the chiseled, transcendent face of Jude Sherman and the tungsten-filament bulb so it could be properly lit.

Even in this scene, as he shook his female costar by the shoulders in a spitting fury, the light cradled his Adonis brow, caressed his jaw and gave his slicked-back hair a fierce sheen. The director yelled “Cut!” and Sarah hated him for breaking the sweet spell of the moment. That grudge died in an instant, though, as she noticed Jude shuffling away from the set, heading right in her direction.

She clutched her notebook and pen tight, reached an arm out and caught Jude, spinning him around so that he faced her, a wide-eyed, quizzical look on his face. She opened her mouth and the words flowed out as if from a garden hose.

“Hello-Mr-Sherman-I’m-so-sorry-to-bump-into-you-but-I-just-wanted-to-say-I’m-a-huge-admirer-of-your-work-and-was-wondering-if-I-could-trouble-you-for-an-autograph-it’d-mean-so-much-assuming-you’re-not-too-busy-of-course?”

Jude Sherman looked down at her, a knowing smile on his face. “I’m actually about to get some lunch, Miss…”

“M..Milkweed. Sarah Milkweed.”

“Miss Sarah Milkweed. Care to come along?”

Sarah managed to get out a combination of half-nods and affirmative mumbles. Sherman strode to her side, his arm curling like a python around her shoulders.

He led her to a small, square private table in the cafeteria around which two old, bald men sat. Sherman shot each of them a quick, barbed glare and they picked up their trays and cleared out without a word. Sherman sat down at a pre-set space, settling into a decadently padded chair. He gestured to a stocky wooden stool.

“Have a seat, baby,” he crooned. “The waiter’ll be over in a minute, he’ll get you whatever you like.”

Sarah lowered herself to the stool. She set her notebook on the table, drummed her clammy fingers on it. Her heart felt like it was about to jitter out of her chest.

Jude Sherman craned his neck around, eyes flitting about the cafeteria on the hunt for a waiter. Without looking at her, he asked, “So when did you start here? Are you a new P.A. or something?”

Sarah flushed bright red. “Well, to tell you the truth… I’m not supposed to be here. I snuck my dad’s key from his office. He
runs Milkweed Electric. You know, the huge tungsten-bulb factory downtown?”

Sherman caught a waiter’s eye and snapped his fingers to call him over. “Sounds boring as poo poo.”

“Well, I don’t know… I guess it’s not very glamorous, but you couldn’t make movies without them, you know?”

The waiter popped up next to the table. “Hey, Harv,” Sherman said. “Pâté sandwich for me, and, uh… how about a hot dog for my lady friend?”

Harv whipped out a pen and jotted the order in his notebook. He gave a brief nod and trotted off to the kitchen.

Sarah’s face went even redder. “Uh, Mr. Sherman? I’m… actually a vegetarian.”

“So, which of my movies is your favorite?”

“Excuse me?”

“I mean, I know it’s tough to pick, but…”

“Oh!” Sarah perked up. “The Merry Magistrate! I know it’s silly, but my mom took me when I was little and I’ve—“

Jude Sherman stuck out a hand and grabbed her breast. Sarah looked at his hand, then up to his face, her mouth starting to curl with unease.

He smiled. “Merry Magistrate’s a classic. I appreciate fans with taste as good as yours.”

“Um.”

“I’d like to explore your taste further, Sarah.” He drew a key from his pocket and plopped it into her cleavage. “My trailer key. You can’t miss it, it’s the biggest one on the lot. Okay?” He gave her chest a squeeze, as if to seal the deal.

Sarah’s face blanched. She commanded her legs to move, to get her out of there, but the signal got scrambled along the way and she felt herself nodding, up and down, up and down. He patted her breast like it was a little yappy dog. Their food arrived a moment later. Throughout the rest of lunch he fondled her with one hand and stuffed down pâté on toast with the other.

Sarah watched Jude Sherman step back on set and start pawing through his script. She felt as light-headed as when she first saw him, but her excitement had changed from bright, giddy wonder to a creeping nausea. The tungsten shine of the set lights now seemed less like a natural enhancement of Jude Sherman’s features and more like a mask hiding what was underneath.
She saw the director, a stubby man with wispy hair and a cigar nub in his teeth, shuffle up to Sherman and point out a specific line. Sherman gritted his teeth and barked something at him. Sarah moved in close enough to hear. Even with her stomach churning from their “lunch date”, she couldn’t resist the chance to watch her favorite artist at work.

“One more try, and that’s it, Cliff. You’re supposed to accommodate me, if you want this movie to get made.”

“All right, Jude, give it a rest already.” He leaned in and snatched the script out of Sherman’s hands. “Start from the top of the scene, from ‘I’ll tell you what, Maggie”. At this point you think these are the last words you’ll ever say to her, so really go at it. Right from your gut. Okay? Action!”

Jude Sherman rolled his eyes and grabbed his young costar by the shoulders. “I’ll tell you what, Maggie,” he began, “sometimes in life you come to an open door. You can either go right through or keep walking past it, but some doors, when they close… they don’t ever open again.”

Sarah reached down into her shirt, squeezed the cold metal key between her fingertips.

“So here’s the scoop, Mags. You either stick by me or walk out that door, whatever you want to do. But if you leave, don’t expect… ah… poo poo. It’s gone. I’ve lost it. A little help, Cliff?”

Now it was the director’s turn to roll his eyes. He turned across the room and shouted, “Hey, someone bring over a bunch of poster-board and markers. Jude can’t remember his lines again.”

Sherman chuckled and gave his costar a weary shrug. Sarah’s mouth dropped open.

Cue cards? Seriously?

Sarah turned around and marched out of the studio. She dropped the trailer key down the first sewer grate she saw, and then crossed the street to a phone booth. She called the movie memorabilia shop a few blocks from her house and asked if they’d buy a bunch of old Jude Sherman film posters she’d collected.

Jude Sherman? Of course, they said. There’s always demand for Jude Sherman.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Aaaghh I guess I'll be in for this one. A flash rule would be welcome, too!

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


For Your Consideration
(546 Words)

The following is based on true events.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I opened Chrome and typed without looking, my fingers falling back on muscle memory, f-o-r. As it did every time, the address for the Something Awful forums popped up. I jabbed the enter key and pondered which of my bookmarked threads to read first. Did I feel like making myself angry with some terrible political cartoons? Maybe I should see what social media idiots goons had to deal with today. Before I could think any further, it caught my eye: that little black box crackling with white static.

Five new posts in the Thunderdome, so it wasn’t likely that somebody had already won and posted a new prompt. Still, though, this week’s judgment might well be there, sitting ripe and unclaimed until the winner stumbled across it. I couldn’t put it off any longer. I clicked.

The first couple posts were just white noise. Some newbies rambling about whatever namby-pamby excuses they’d cooked up to avoid submitting. Don’t they realize, I thought, that a weak story is better than none at all? What poor saps. I soldiered on, scrolling down but taking my time.

Finally, a block of bold text appeared at the bottom of my screen. My eyes locked on to it, and I grinned. Here we go, judgment post. I scrolled slow, trying to maintain the drama of the moment. The loser announcement came up first. It wasn’t me. Not unexpected, but still a slight moment of relief. Thirty-three entries and not one loss so far, and I intended to keep it that way.

Dishonorable mentions came next, a small list of usernames which I frantically scanned through. A sudden flash of relief hit me—Nikaer Drekin wasn’t among them! Okay, I thought, so at worst this’ll be one of those limbo-weeks. Not one of the worst pieces and not one of the best, so all I can do it wait for crits to enlighten me as to what was right and what I hosed up royally.

I scrolled down more, millimeter by millimeter, practically hearing the drum-roll in my head, and then the honorable mentions were there in front of me. My eyes locked onto “Nikaer Drekin”, that familiar jumble of letters, a moment of brief, pleasant surprise washing over me. Honestly, I thought my entry would have been one of the weaker ones, something rattled out on Sunday afternoon to avoid exposing myself too directly. That, I thought, is why I write fiction: if I have to show who I really am, I’d prefer to at least cloak those feelings in the guise of someone else.

Predicting the future gives one a certain amount of power. True, it’s unlikely that one’s thoughts really have psychic sway over other people, but presenting a possible future still gets certain influential people thinking. As these people know, writers have a lot of pressure thrust on them. They have to create fake people who still to live and breathe, they have to grab readers by the neck and shake them with compelling, unforgettable drama. It’s a tough job, with plenty of pressure associated.

Does someone facing such tenacious burdens really deserve to be made into a liar, on top of it all?

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


I'm not in this time, but anybody whose story is based on Amazon Ancient Ruins becomes my best Thunderdome pal and gets a line-by-line crit!

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


risk
(23 words)

come on baby ace or eight ace or eight

daddy needs a new pair of shoes

daddy needs to eat

...

well poo poo

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Sute, I'll be in, this sounds like a neat twist! I'll probably be on IRC later tonight, but if anyone wants to contact me before that my email is nikaerd at gmail.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Black Griffon posted:

At least I didn't have any writing partners.

Same here- I was flying solo, but I've got to drop out. I did write something this weekend, but (a) it's over the word limit and (b) it has... nothing at all to do with the prompt. Oh well.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


"In," Nikaer Drekin pontificated harshly, "with what will probably be a sort-of sequel to one of my personal favorites of my TD entries!"

I guess with a toxx as well, since I sort of poo poo the bed last week.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


My piece this week is a prequel of sorts to this entry of mine from last year. I think it stands on its own, though, so whether you go back and read that one is up to you.

Revenge, Pixie Style: A Scribe's First Chronicle
(985 Words)

"One Time That I Helped a Friend"
by Zingiberales, for Miss Barleygrass's Fifth Grade Pixie Class!


One day a long time ago when I was walking in the schoolyard, I heard some little tiny sniffles coming from the edge of the spark-ball leaf. Curiously, I poked my head in that direction, walked over, and saw a little tiny pixie girl sitting there, sniffing and snuffling and crying her eyes out.

"Ah!" I mulled internally. "That girl looks like she needs my help! I will go over and see if I can lend any assistance!"

I walked over to the sobbing, weeping girl and yelped, "Hello there! I heard you crying, is something the matter?"

She whipped her head around it, her eyes puffy and flushed with tears. "Does it look like something's the matter to you??" she bellowed morosely. "Everybody fuzzing hates me. They won't let me play with them anymore. I only wanted those sap-sucking fluff-pots to like me!"

Though shocked by such profane talk coming from one so small, I enquired, "But why do they hate you so much? You don't seem all that different from them."

The girl swallowed a gulp of sorrow. "They hate me because I am better than they are at dodge-ball!!" she lamented. "I raised little red welts all over their rumps because I smacked them with so many dodge-balls. I can't help it, though! It's in my nature," she griped grumblingly.

I contemplated what this outburst could mean. "Do you mean to say," I demanded, "that the Soothsayre told you that you are destined to be a volleyball champion??"

The girl sniffed. "No, silly. She told me I was going to become a warrior."

I gaped, astounded. I had never met a warrior before. After all, the last pixie war had been fought a thousand years before I was even born! I didn't think about that right then. All I realized was, "Wow, this seems like a pixie I should keep my eye on."

I stuck out my hand to her. "My name's Zingiberales, but you can call me Zing," I grinned. "What's your name, Miss Warrior?"

The warrior girl slapped her hand into mine and grudgingly shook it. "Mandrake," she stated succinctly. "You can call me Mandrake."

Mandrake led me off into the woods, saying that she needed my help to enact her scheme of DASTARDLY REVENGE!! against the mean kids who had shunned her away. I could feel my heart going thump-thump as I looked around and realized that I couldn't recognize any of the trees around. I tapped Mandrake on the shoulder.

"What?" she hissed in my ear.

"I really don't think we should be out this far!" I tittered. "My parents will tear their hair out with worry if I'm not home soon!"

Mandrake rolled her eyes. "Come on, Zing," she groused. "This won't take long. And if your supper gets cold, you can just tell your parents you were helping a friend achieve her DASTARDLY REVENGE!! Grown-ups get important stuff like that."

I sighed and kept following her, if only to stick close to a pixie that seemed to know her way around this part of the woods. Soon, we came to a clearing filled with spiky bushes, and Mandrake flitted ahead to inspect them.

"Here they are! These are exactly what we need!" she cackled. Mandrake plucked one of the tiny red berries from a bush and tossed it up and down. "How would you like to play some dodge-ball, Zing?" she wheedled wickedly.

We flitted back to the schoolyard, our arms stuffed with the red, juicy orbs. We hid on one of the higher, curved leaves overlooking a group of pixie kids playing in the yard. They played hopscotch and golem-ball and milkweed-skip, chattering blissfully, totally unaware of our presence. Mandrake tapped me on the shoulder and counted down, three... two... one.

Mandrake jumped out from behind the leaf and screeched, "Hey, you mangy fluff-pots! You limpid, tick-bit stick-heads! Let this be a lesson to you! Now you know that when you snub Mandrake, you will suffer her DASTARDLY REVENGE!! Now, Zing!"

I popped out and we hurled the berries at all the mean pixies, the scarlet juice splattering their faces and staining their wings. They screamed and fluttered around on their underdeveloped wings, and whenever one of them half-heartedly tried to fly away Mandrake grabbed another berry and pelted her, WHAM, right in the gob! I had never done anything that crazy before, but I was having so much fun I didn't have time to be worried. Soon we were plum out of berries, having generously given them all to our unsuspecting targets! We left the whole heap of them glopping around in a sticky, sanguine pile. Mandrake and I stood above them, basking in the glory of a fight well won.

It's too bad we didn't know the berries were poisonous. We must have sweated about fifty thimblefuls when everyone was still in the hospital, but thankfully the poison was just the stinging, burning type and not the deadly type. We couldn't stop smiling when everyone came out okay, at least until they all told on us. Mandrake and I were grounded for what seemed like two eons, of course, but on the way home from school we swiped some lightning bugs and stored them in our closets, so that at night we could flash each other coded best-friend messages from across the leaves.

THE END!!

(To Miss Barleygrass: I used a lot of vivid descriptions the way you taught me, I hope you liked it! Also I'm sorry for the bad language that Mandrake uses, this is based on a true story and she wanted her dialogue to be just like in real life! I can cut those parts out if you want me to read it to the class.)

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Nitrousoxide posted:

Five Shots (731 Words)

The crowd cheered as Jamie was hoisted into the air by the stagehands. The host screamed, “You won Jamie!” as he spread his arms wide and raised them, inviting the crowd to cry even louder.

Really? I won Jamie? Which Jamie did I win? Jamie Foxx, maybe, or Jamie Bell? I hope it's a good Jamie that I won.

(Commas are your friends, Mr. Oxide!)

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


After a too-long hiatus I am BACK. Prepare yourselves

And my picture is of this fine establishment:

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


My image:


http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2153

Gertie's Game
(1,182 Words)

I pluck it out, and take a leap. I soar through the air above the vast tank of liquid at the back of the Ore House, “The Pit of Acid”. Despite its threatening name, the pool below me looks more like it’s full of tap water. I clutch my chicken feather and careen towards the opposite edge of the Pit. My feet slam on the floorboards. The impact sends a shock through me. I wobble and waver, the other barflies snickering at my wild attempts to restore balance. Finally, I straighten up and lift my arms high, intoxication and the rush of success making me feel like an Olympic gymnast.

The barflies burst into applause led by Old Val, the barkeep. “Marvelous!” the geezer cries. “That was divine, Pete. How many jumps have you made, now? Eight? Nine? Gertie’s very pleased with you.” He holds the stuffed-and-mounted chicken out to me. I reach out somewhat sheepishly and pat the lifeless fowl’s head-feathers. Gertie’s black glass eyes seem to look right at me and keep going, all the way to infinity. A little shiver runs through my neck.

Val flashes me a grin. Half of his teeth are brownish-yellow, the other half missing. “Okay, who’s next? Gertie’s only allowing one more try tonight, folks. Play her game, take a leap! If you make it across, your tab’s paid in full. Any takers?”

“Yeah, Val, I’ll give it a whirl.” Monty, a flush-faced worker at the machine shop down the street, steps up to the barkeep. Slightly unsteady, he doesn’t wait for Val to respond before reaching out and yanking a feather out of Gertie’s breast. The bird tumbles out of Val’s hands and clatters on the floor. Old Val glares at him, but Monty doesn’t notice. The big lush bounds up the steps to the edge of the pit, backs up for a running start, then dashes forward and jumps.

Monty’s foot collides with the other edge of the pit, but the impact sends him reeling back. His body plunges into the water, and he thrashes like a wounded seal for a moment before finding his footing and standing up. All the barflies, me included, can’t help but laugh. Monty stands in the pit, still dripping wet, and all of a sudden he cackles with glee, laughing twice as hard as anyone else.

Monty closes his eyes and shakes his head, smiling. Then the smile falters. Puzzled, Monty runs a hand through his hair, rubbing his forehead. He pulls his hand away, and dark clumps of hair stick to it. I notice this, but the other barflies are still laughing. Livid panic breaks out on Monty’s face, and his hand goes back to his forehead, rubbing it vigorously, and this time pieces of flesh peel away, slipping through his fingers and plopping in the pool below. Blood streaks down Monty’s face, and he clutches the sides of his head, screaming. His wail snaps the crowd out of its amusement. They stare, appalled and transfixed.

He jumps, waving his arms as if they’re crawling with fire ants. The blood runs into his eyes. His feet skid on the floor of the Pit, and he scrapes helplessly at his clothes, his skin no doubt dissolving underneath them. A few of my buddies turn away, but my eyes stay fixed on him. Moments later, something in him gives way. He slips on the floor, or maybe the acid bites through the connective tissues in his ankle. Either way, Monty tips back, his scream now only a pained gurgle, and sinks beneath the surface. For the longest time, he thrashes under the surface, the liquid slowly turning red and murky, but then the pool goes calm. Nothing floats back to the top.

Old Val leans against the wall, stroking Gertie and holding her close. “The man deserved it,” he says with a sigh. “I’ve never seen such rudeness. Well, that was the last jump of the evening! Sorry, folks, you’ll have to try some other day.”

Bruce, a beefy guy from the nearby canning plant, speaks up. “What the gently caress is wrong with you, old man? You just killed him for nothing!”

Val puts on an indignant scowl. “I did not. He chose to take the challenge. He put his own life on the line.”

The barflies don’t buy it.

“The geezer’s out of his liver-spotted head!”

“He’s a psycho freak!”

“We’ve got to get that bastard.”

“Who knows how many people he’s killed!”

“Or how many he could kill, if we let him!”

Old Val waves a hand at them. “Gentlemen, gentlemen. Even if you do think this is murder, it’s not my game. Gertie here came up with it. It always gets them, doesn’t it, my girl?”

Gertie’s black eyes stare.

Val giggles. “I know, I know! So petty, so eager to worm out of their obligations. We showed them, didn’t we? Just think of it: all those men, bested… by a chicken! Ha!”

Bruce, shaking with anger, shouts, “Get that fuckin’ freak!” and the whole crowd advances on Old Val. Before they can reach him, the old man grabs my sleeve and pulls me in front of him.

The crowd freezes. “Out of the way, Pete. None of us want to hurt you.”

Val gets on tip-toe and whispers in my ear, “You aren’t like them, Pete. You were good to Gertie. Help us. Protect us from them and Gertie will show us both the way. Isn’t that what you want?”

I remember how those black beads of glass seemed to pierce through me. I shudder again, and feel Val’s warm breath. I hear Monty’s screams rattling in my head, flesh stripping from bone, everything going red and murky.

I turn around and punch Val, his cheek seeming to bend around my fist. The frail old body falls to the ground. Before I can grasp what I’ve just done, the mob descends on Val, and I’m part of it, all of us beating his bony frame, slamming him down on tables, crushing his bones. The passion builds, and as one we hoist him over to the Pit. Pressing him against the glass, we tear at his clothes, we break the skin, his limbs come free in our hands and we toss the hunks of flesh up and over into the pit, where they disappear in the bloody haze.

Blood sets in to our clothes. I pant from exhaustion, satisfied at the swift carnivore justice that I helped make possible. I hear a door shut down the hallway, then footsteps, and a voice saying “Okay, which one of you fuckers didn’t flush…”

I turn to look. Monty stands there, rubbing his freshly-washed hands. His hair is full, his face flushed red. Everything as it should be. He takes in the scene. “Woah,” he says, “what happened here? You guys slaughter a cow?”

I turn and see Gertie, lying on her side in the corner. Even from far away I can feel her sharp black eyes prick my heart. I can hear her laughing.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


In in IN.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012




To Commune with the Moon
(1,499 Words)

Hey, Moon, look—another white tourist!

Shoot. I thought we were done for the season.

Hey, at least this one’s cute.

Are you crazy? Keep your voice down.

Oh, cool off. If she actually bothered to learn Lakota, I’ll eat a porcupine.


The girl in the white dress strode up to them. The wind blew her dark hair across her face, but she swept it away and stared up at the two men. “Pardon me,” she said, “but do either of you know English?”

Moon stepped forward before Cloud Chaser could butt in. “Yes, I do. My name’s Communes with Moon. What do you need, ma’am?”

When she heard his name, the girl’s face brightened. “Oh, it’s you! I’m so glad I finally found you! I’m Sharon, Sharon Mulberry. Can you help me speak with the spirits of the night sky, Mr. Moon?”

“Just Moon, please. That shouldn’t be a problem, though.”

“Oh, thank you! I’m sure they have so much to share with mortals. If any of the rituals involved are off-limits to outsiders in any way, you just have to say the word and I promise I won’t-“

“Ma’am!”

“Yes?”

“We take cash.”

* * * * *

When dusk fell, Moon led her up to the top of Mystic’s Peak. Moon could have walked the path blind, so he kept looking back to check on Sharon. Cloud was right, she was pretty cute in a hippy-dippy sort of way. A couple of times, when he looked back, he caught her staring at him. She jerked her head away each time their eyes met.

Further up the trail, she said, “’Communes with Moon’. That’s a lovely name, it’s just so… so whimsical, so poetic.”

He laughed. “Trust me, it doesn’t sound nearly as flowery in Lakota. If it did, I would’ve had it changed.”

She stopped and put her hands on her hips. Her eyes flashed, showing a glint of fire under the surface that he hadn’t expected. She scowled and said, “Well, I think it’s nice. Have a problem with that, Buster?”

He stopped, not sure what to say. “Uh…. no, not at all, Ms. Mulberry. Sorry.” They stood in silence for a moment, then Moon turned sheepishly and started up the trail again. He climbed up a high ridge, then turned back and reached a hand down to her. She took it and clambered up, not letting go even when they stood side by side again.

“Just Sharon,” she said, smiling. After a moment, she dropped his hand and started up the trail without him, until he remembered he was supposed to be leading their trek. He hurried to the front, just as Sharon was about to take a wrong turn that would have led them smack in the middle of a mountain lion den.

By the time they reached the peak, the sky was dark as an ocean of ink, the stars standing out like thousands of tiny white freckles. A nearly-full moon hung right above their heads. Moon unsheathed the spear tied to his back and held it out behind him. “All right, Sharon,” he said, “turn your back to me and hold on to the spear. The spear is the conduit—hold tight to it, and the moon-spirits will come through clear.”

“Okay.” Moon felt her hands grasp the spear. Her fingers brushed against his. “Moon, I just want to know… what’s it like? To have this power, I mean?”

He thought for a moment. “It’s like we’re both looking at the same wall. Only it’s not a wall, you only think it is—really, it’s a wide window. You can’t see the window, but if I open it for you… you can see what’s on the other side.”

“It won’t hurt, will it?”

Moon smiled. They always got like this, standing on the edge. So cock-sure about the universe’s great benevolence, until they were about to see it with their own eyes.

“No. I promise it won’t.”

He knew it was useless to let her stall any longer. He flexed the muscles in his mind, opening his hidden senses. A wave of sensations rushed through him and into Sharon. He heard a brief yelp, but she didn’t let go. All of a sudden, he saw four vast spheres arc through the sky, seeming to fill with white light until each one depicted a different phase of the moon. Moon and Sharon felt the full moon’s image shudder, and a voice called out, “Oh, hello! I didn’t expect to see you back here so soon.”

Moon smiled. “Hi, Full. I’ve got someone here who’d like to meet all four of you. Come on, say hi. Sharon, these are my friends Cress, Half, Gibby, and Full.”

Sharon stammered, almost dumbstruck, but said, “It’s a pleasure to meet all of you. I’ve got to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so wonderful in all of my-“

“Oh, darling, don’t get all flustered,” Full said. “I know the presence of a being as luminous as I can feel intimidating, but you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

“Just listen to big-head,” Gibby said, “hogging the tourists. Why can’t you hippies ever pay attention to the GIBBOUS moon? I may be a slice shy of full, but I’m just as good as that blowhard.”

A peal of laughter erupted from Half’s direction. “There they go, squabbling as usual. What cards those two are! It makes me so… so miserable. Why can’t they just love each other? Is something so wrong about that?” Half burst into sobs, its image shuddering in the sky.

“Oh, no,” Sharon said, “I want to learn from each of you! I don’t mean to play favorites, I promise.”

“And of course the crescent moon doesn’t even get a hello. Typical humans. They never notice anything if it’s not flashing in their faces.”

Sharon turned to Cress. “Hey, my hello was meant for all of you. Please don’t think-“

“It’s all right, you don’t have to make excuses. Just talk to the interesting phases, by all means.”

“Don’t listen to him, dear,” Full said. “Classic size envy. It happens more often than you’d expect.”

“If the sap doesn’t like being around us, he can leave for all I care,” Half said. “That didn’t sound too callous, did it? I love the guy, don’t tell him I said that, it’d break his heart!”

“You want me to leave, is that it?” Cress said. “You don’t know how many times I’ve tried.”

“Oh, what,” Gibby interjected, “I’m not good enough for you? Too cool for the sky, is that what you are?”

“In case you’ve all forgotten, we have a guest,” Full said. “You’re all distracting her from my splendor, so if you don’t mind-“

“Oh, suck an asteroid! Y’know, if… if you wanted to do that anyway.”

“And the rational voice gets drowned out. Typical.”

“Oh, stop letting your own inadequacies ruin everyone’s day. I’ll have you know-“

“HEY!” Sharon shouted. “Stop bickering, all of you! Now, I hiked all the way up here with some important questions in mind, so if it doesn’t inconvenience you too much, I’d like the chance to ask them. All right?”

The night sky was silent for a moment, until Full spoke up. “Geez, you tourists get testy by the end of the season, don’t you?”

* * * * *

Back at the Lakota village, after a tense, quiet hike down the mountain, Moon walked Sharon to her car. With a scowl, she opened her glove box and started fishing through it for her wallet.

“Not what you expected, was it?” Moon asked.

She slammed the glove box shut. “I don’t understand. The moon always looked so… so beautiful! Nature’s supposed to be serene and full of wisdom, above all of this petty human nonsense, but they’re just as bad as we are!” She sniffed, and wiped away a tear. “I’m sorry, Moon, none of this is your fault, but… look, what do I owe you?”

Poor girl, he thought. He’d become so accustomed to the moon-spirits that he’d forgotten what a shock experiencing them for the first time must be for an idealist like her. Like finding out God was real, but also happened to be a fat, surly drunk in sweatpants and a wife-beater.

He shook his head. “Don’t worry about the money. The thing is, I didn’t realize it was wisdom you were after. You should meet a friend of mine named Gary, runs a 24-hour diner in town. He’s not too pretty to look at, but I promise there’s no better source of wise counsel in the whole United States.” He stuck his hand out to her. “Besides, I’ve been craving a stack of his pancakes. What do you say we stop in for a bite? On me.”

She looked at him and smiled, taking his hand in hers. She didn’t shake it, just held on for a while, her smile more radiant than the brightest moonbeam.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


The lure of noir is impossible to resist. I'm in.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Small Victories
(875 Words)

Jeff Hudgens sat a while in his office, thinking up the move he was going to pull on Mr. Oxford when the man paid him a visit. He decided on swiveling his chair around to face the window and waiting until he heard the man bound up the stairs to his office. Then, when he heard the knock, he’d say, “Come in,” and then spin around to face him, head tilted down with a devilish look in his eyes. poo poo, he thought, that’ll really knock him dead.

An hour later, when Oxford came calling, Jeff spun around and found himself staring into the steely eye of a Colt 1911. He heard four sharp, brief pops, and felt a fire spring up in his chest. Oxford lowered the gun, a curl of smoke still floating in the air. The man just stood there in his flat gray suit, hair slicked wet over his head, and smiled.

“Bye, Jeff. I’ll be sure to give Madeline your best.” Oxford turned, seeming to melt away before the shadows devoured everything in sight.

Jeff’s eyes opened. He was on the floor with a welt growing out of the side of his head, blood seeping out of his shirt. He felt something, between a burp and a cough, well up inside him and force its way up his throat like a ball of fire. He spat out a dark glob of blood. He gripped onto the side of the desk and managed to drag himself forward to the center of the room.

He paused. He could feel his panic rising, so he forced himself to stop and take deep breaths. A thought emerged. Madeline. Oh poo poo, Madeline! How long had he been out for? If it was longer than a couple minutes, that would have given Oxford time to… no. Oh god, no. Jeff started flailing like a worm, straining to reach the phone sitting on the end table. If he could just knock the table over, it’d only take him a few seconds to call home. He needed time to warn her, just to hear…

To hear Madeline laughing. Madeline cackling at him, saying she told him so, that it was just like him to get in over his head and she knew it would’ve only been a matter of time. The last act of his life would be to save hers, and he just knew the crone would eat it up. So, come crawling back, huh? What’s that, dear, four bullets in your stomach? Hmph. I would have expected at least five. You must not have made much of an impression on them after all!

Never mind that he’d done it all for her. Never mind that he had made his fortune in a town that chews up and spits out a thousand new arrivals every day. He could have worked at the meatpacking joint, and then how happy would she have been? Oh yes, it’s honest work, dear. So honest you come home every day with putrid sweat and blood worked into your skin, impossible to scrub away. How would you have liked sleeping next to that? Just think of her nerve. She couldn’t even be right without getting all haughty about it.

So he lay there, blood sopping into his nice throw rug, determined to do nothing. Oxford would show up, knock on the door, shove a gun barrel into her face and then it would just be between the two of them. That’s all there was to it. And he would lie here and bleed. He told himself this over and over again, fire still raging through his guts, extremities beginning to lose feeling. He would lie there. He would lie and lie and condemn his wife to a bloody death.

Jeff grimaced. A sigh hissed out through his teeth. Gathering up his strength, he reached overhead and swatted the end table over, the plastic phone clattering against the floor, and snatched up the receiver. He jammed an unresponsive finger into the rotary dial, spun in the number for home. He listened to the rings. His sight was beginning to fade.

“Hudgens residence. Who’s calling, please?”

“Madeline!”

“Jeff, is that you?”

“Madeline, shut up and listen, okay? I’ve been shot, and you don’t have much time until…”

“poo poo, Jeff, is it really you? Christ, you sound awful. Oxie said you’d be… uh…”

Jeff furrowed his brow. “Oxie?”

“He promised… promised you’d be dead. Jeff, this is just plain weird.”

Oxie?”

“I’m terribly sorry, Jeff. It isn’t right, us talking like this. I never meant for you to suffer.”

Madeline!”

“Well, if you’re going to be insistent... fine, I’m here.”

“There’s something I have to tell you.”

“Really? Well… what is it, Jeff?” A hint of real curiosity creeping into her voice.

With his last burst of strength, Jeff slammed the phone down into the receiver. “You told me so, all right. You sure as hell told me so.” He closed his eyes and laughed. The words she would have given anything to hear him say were gone, set loose like a gust of wind, and she would never get her hands on them. Jeff let them go and died, an honest man at last.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Put me in, coach

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


(Song: "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)")

I’ve Got To Have My Way Now, Baby
(1,193 Words)

Irving sat at the bar, twisting his wedding band. He tried sipping the fruity cocktail in front of him, but its sticky-sweetness turned his stomach. Besides, he figured drinking would only make his headache worse. The heavy strains of synthpop needed no help in that department. Irving spun in his stool and looked out at the writhing crowd on the dance floor, bewildered that they seemed to actually be having a good time. Mike sat down beside him and clapped his shoulder, snapping him back to reality. Irving shot him a look.

Mike laughed. “Hey, don’t get all pissy at me, bud, this was your idea!”

“What? I wouldn’t even be here if you and Ed hadn’t insinuated that my idea of a wild night is discovering a new needlepoint stitch. What more do you want?”

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe for you to have a good time? Maybe get up and dance, chat up one of the five hundred gorgeous honeys scattered around the joint?”

“You know I’m married, Mike.”

“Well, you don’t have to gently caress any of them! Look, see that blonde over at the edge of the crowd?”

Irving saw her. A tall woman in a tight black dress, golden curls falling around her shoulders, shock-red lips sticking out in the dark. She gyrated alone, in perfect time with the music. Her eyes turned and met his. She smiled. Irving stood up in a flash. He gulped and walked over to her, Mike whooping back at the bar, Way to go, Irv-Man! Go get her, bud!

Another few seconds and he was in her space, reluctant at first, but she seemed to draw him in with her magnetic gaze, her slender fingers. She writhed against his body, hands running up and down his back. He undulated, caught up in a synth-fueled voodoo trance, heart pounding in time with the thumps of bass. Her fingers worked through his hair like snakes in a grassy field. She pulled his face close enough to bump her nose and shouted, “After this song… let’s find some privacy.”

Her amber eyes locked on to his, her lips curling into a slinky smirk. The pit of Irving’s stomach fell, but he nodded and smiled back, the warmth of intoxicating passion flowing through his body. The blonde clutched the sides of his head, kissing him as she dug in with her fingernails, and just as her body slipped away from his, the song faded out. She caught his hand in a tight squeeze and led the way.

The next thing he knew they were in a bathroom, blacklights shining up from the floor, the neon-blue glow making them look like a pair of Martians getting freaky. She attacked his face, her lips leaving a cherry-red smear after every impact. Irving clutched her tight, kissing back every once in a while, but content to let her do most of the work. He felt her powerful hips, the sleek curve of her back, then up to her shoulders, her dress’s slim straps arching over them. She felt his touch, smiled, and pulled away. She tugged one strap off her left shoulder, and the sight of her bare skin and the strap hanging there limp, her expression coy and sweet, made something click in Irving’s mind.

“No. No, dammit, I can’t do this! What the heck is wrong with me?”

“Not a single thing, baby.”

He flashed his ring at her. “Do you see this? Don’t you know what this is supposed to mean?”

“Oh, please. You weren’t thinking about that on the dance floor, sugar.” She lifted a finger, pressed it to his forehead. “Trust me, I know.”

Irving pulled away. “No. Sorry. I should never have…” He darted to the mirror, saw the lipstick smeared all over his face. “poo poo. I have to go, just forget it, okay?” He sprinted out of the men’s room, not noticing the blonde’s face twist into a wicked grin.

Back at the dance floor, the crowd seemed bigger now, pulsing and bumping to Dead or Alive, their big hit, You Spin Me Round. Irving could feel the crowd spin around him, rapid-fire synth notes piercing his senses, so he shut his eyes and barged forward, knowing that

ALL I KNOW IS THAT TO ME

he’d find Mike on the other side. He could feel his shoulders colliding with dancers, their laughs and gleeful shrieks blending with the music to create a disorienting cocktail, a thick fog of revelry that threatened

YOU LOOK LIKE YOU’RE LOTS OF FUN

to swallow him up. Irving kept moving, heart racing, trying to find one more burst of strength to make it through. He felt blades, or talons, or maybe even razor-sharp red fingernails raking at his skin and clothes, at first just light scratches, but each scrape seemed to dig deeper and

OPEN UP YOUR LOVING ARMS

deeper, flaying him alive. Still Irving endured, feeling the claws cut to the bone, pressing through despite the white-hot agony. He used his last drop of strength for one final push, and then…

WATCH OUT HERE I COME

Nothing. All of a sudden the pain was gone. All Irving felt was the cool air on his skin. His eyes filled with tears of relief, and he opened them, intending to find Mike so they could get the hell out of there.

He found himself standing in front of the bathroom door. The glow of a blacklight leaked out from the door’s edges. No, goddamn it, that wasn’t possible! He’d gone straight through, no turning at all, so how’d he end up back where he started?

He shook his head. His instincts told him, gently caress the crowd, just go around them, so he kept to the wall and ran. He went around a corner and saw the glint of neon blue ahead of him again, shining out from between the bathroom door. No, he screamed, gently caress it, gently caress IT! He charged past the door and around the next corner, saw the bathroom door again and kept running, tears blurring his vision, as the music bellowed at him over and over:

I WANT YOUR LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE.

I WANT YOUR LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE!

Irving ran until stubble poked through his face, ran until it grew into a ratty beard. He kept encircling the dance floor until his clothes, sticky with sweat, started wearing away. His tongue felt dry enough to crack in two. Dead or Alive’s big hit kept looping, etching itself into Irving’s mind. Finally, after rounding one last corner, he stopped. His shaky legs lowered him to the floor, where he sat propped up on the wall by the bathroom. After a moment it opened, and the blonde walked out, taller than ever, rubbing her hands dry. She smiled at him.

“Hi, sugar,” she said. “I hope you’ve reconsidered my offer.”

Slowly, Irving nodded. He looked down at his hands and realized his wedding ring was gone.

The blonde beamed down at him, parting her flawless crimson lips. She offered him a hand. “Wonderful, my sweet. How about we get you a glass of water?”

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


In. This sounds like it could be spectacularly awesome (or a spectacular failure, but either way it's sure to be interesting)!

***

Madame Hyacinth, real name Harriet Dorsey, runs Madame Hyacinth's Cure-Alls and Curios, a squat little new-age store on one of the million street corners in Los Grano D'Oro. Now in her mid-fifties, she didn't come of age during the hippie-dippy era but still welcomes its spirit into almost every aspect of her life. That's not to say she's blissfully naive; her ex-husband is locked away and serving a life sentence, and she's had to run her shop alone as a result. When her store seemed to be bleeding money, she made a decision: she'd have to offer something more than incense sticks and chakra stones. Now, Cure-Alls and Curios doubles as a safe house where, for a reasonable fee, mobsters can hide drug stashes, weapons, and all manner of other criminal paraphernalia. Despite the risk involved, Hyacinth has been crafty enough to avoid detection so far. Of course, the fact that her twin brother is a police lieutenant probably means she could sweet-talk her way out of a bust if necessary.

I'm also open to collabs, so email me at nikaerd at gmail or catch me in irc if you want to plan something special!

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Fanky Malloons posted:

Rajitha "Raj" Singh:
Thought to be a runaway. Approximately 17 years of age. One of the oldest members of La Niñas and de facto leader. Protects La Niñas territory and members with a viciousness that borders on psychopathy. Extremely intelligent and does not seem to fear police (or anybody else). Often hides razor blades in her hair. Known arsonist. Thought to have masterminded the Jinggouzi Warehouse fire and is a person of interest in multiple gang-related assaults.

I'd like to include Miss Singh. The way I'm intending to work her in, she would likely survive my story, though if the judges have something else in mind I'm open to revising.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Strange Clientele in Los Grano D’oro
(1,000 Words)

Madame Hyacinth beamed as she walked into the front room of Curios and Cure-alls. “Hello, my dear! If you’re looking for something to stimulate your body and spirit, you’ve come to the right place. Madame Hyacinth has just the thing for…”

She saw her customer. His face was pale as a sheet and stood out like a beacon against his dark suit. He flashed her a predatory smile punctuated by his black eyes. “Sorry, Madame, I’m not here for prayer beads today.”

She grimaced. “Of course not. Dropping off or picking up?”

He held up a black attaché case. “Both.”

A few minutes later he’d walked out with two bricks of heroin his employer had dropped off the other day and left the case behind. Madame Hyacinth bent down on stiff knees and slid it behind a cabinet in the storeroom, then went back out to light some incense. Maybe then, when the next gangbanger stopped by to square away his loot, he might smell the sweet musk and leave with something more spiritually enriching than an Uzi or a pound of coke.

The pale man came back several hours later. He wrinkled his nose. “Jesus Christ, what’s that loving stink?”

Madame Hyacinth sighed. “I’m guessing you want your case back.”

“Bingo. Hey, Madame… you didn’t look in the case, right?”

“No, of course not. Why, is it tip-top secret?”

The man shrugged. “I was sort of supposed to tell you not to look, it slipped my mind. Trust me, it’s best for everyone that you didn’t.” Giving her that shark smile.

Hyacinth looked down to his waist, at the bulge of a gun showing through his suit jacket. “Just wait here. I’ll get your drat case.” She walked into the storeroom and picked up the baseball bat lying against the wall. She shuffled a few of the boxes around, so the man could hear. “Oh, Sir, I could really use some help in here! Mind giving me a hand?” She waited until she heard his footsteps approaching and crouched by the door until he turned the corner into the storeroom. She sprung up and let him have it, the bat making contact with a crack and the gangster crumpling to the floor. She held a hand up to his nose and didn’t feel any breathing.

Madame Hyacinth dragged his body into the back room and locked it in one of the full-body sensory deprivation tanks. She brought his gun and the case out to her front desk. Figuring she’d have to know what was inside before deciding how much to ransom the thing for, she went to unlatch the case but stopped when the heard the wind chimes on the door jingle.

A young girl walked in, twelve or thirteen at most. Hyacinth scrambled to hide the case, then summoned up her wispy, new-age voice to say, “Why, hello, sweetheart! Is there anything Madame Hyacinth can help you find?”

“The case.”

Surprise flashed in Hyacinth’s eyes, but she composed herself quickly. “Uh… what case would that be, dearest?”

“You know what case. I need it. Now.” The girl reached back, pulled a snub-nosed revolver from her pants, and stuck it in Madame Hyacinth’s face. Hyacinth stared at her, stunned, then sheepishly nodded and raised her hands.

The girl rushed behind the counter, saw the case and went for it, but at the same time Madame Hyacinth grabbed her hand with the gun in it and slammed it down on the table. The girl shrieked and struggled, but Hyacinth’s pent-up frustration gave her an iron grip. She managed to pull the girl away from the counter, but her eyes flashed up to the door when she heard the wind chimes ring again.

A teenage girl with caramel skin and her long, dark hair in a braid stood in the entryway. Hyacinth held the younger girl in a chokehold as she shouted, “Raj, please! Help me!”

Raj scowled. “You let her go, woman. We only want the case.”

Hyacinth snarled, “Take another step and I blow her brains out.” She reached forward, jabbed a button under the counter, and grabbed her pistol.

“Raj, she hit the silent alarm,” the girl whimpered. “We don’t have much time.”

“That was stupid of you, Hyacinth. You don’t even know what’s in that case, do you?”

“I don’t care what’s in it. It’s mine to use however I want! And just so you know, my brother’s a cop. Unless you want to do some serious time you’d better clear out now and forget this ever happened.”

Raj shook her head. “I have a very good memory, Madame Hyacinth. And believe me, if you harm my friends, I never forget about you.” She drew a straight razor from her braid and flipped the blade open. “If she dies, I burn this place to the ground. You survive that and I’ll come visit you in the night, skin you alive. Maybe I could track down your pig brother first, tie you up and make you watch him die screaming. Sound good?”

“That case… it’s really worth that much to you?”

Raj stared at her with hard hazel eyes. “That’s not the point. You’ve put my sister in danger, and that’s something I can’t tolerate. We’re La Niñas. We keep each other safe.”

Hyacinth took a deep breath, and nodded slowly. She let the younger girl go. “Fine. Take it. Just gently caress over those gangsters for me, all right?”

Raj walked over, took the case, and put an arm around the girl’s shoulders. She gave Hyacinth a faint smile. “Don’t worry. I will.”

The two girls were long gone when the cops showed up. Madame Hyacinth hugged her frantic brother and insisted she was okay, that the smack-head who robbed the place had only cleaned out the register. They both breathed a sigh of relief. Just then, a loud thump permeated from the back room, the room full of sensory deprivation tanks.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


e: ^^^^ FUK U

crabrock posted:

Thunderdome. Thunderdome never usually changes.

In and ready to go into battle.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Ode to Noah
69 WORDZ!!!!!!

Noah.

Your stories blow-ah.

You're certainly no Thoreau-ah.

You've got the literary talent of a protozo-ah,

Plus the general incompetence of Inspector Clouseau-ah.

Who'll win our brawl? I think you know-ah.

If you've got any sense, you'll be a no-show-ah.

(That is, if you value your massive ego-ah.)

'Cause I'm gonna make you eat crow-ah...

When I kick your teeny tiny little baby bitch teeth in.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


F Ration
(1,262 Words)

“You know what’s the freakiest thing about the Ocks?” Green asked. Heller raised an eyebrow, and the other two privates in Solaris squad listened intently from their bunks. “Their dicks, man. I heard Mankowski say a single Ock dick, fully erect, can be as wide as a tree trunk. I’m talkin’ redwood, man.”

“But it’s all proportional, right?” Moralez cut in. “If an Ock’s as big as a skyscraper, then a, uh… redwood-sized dick would fit its body proportions.”

Green shook his head. “They’re tall, but they ain’t that tall. Here, I’ll put it in context. Tango?”

“Yeah?”

“Imagine for a second you got a dick as long as your arm, and just as big around.”

Tango leaned in and stared Green dead in the face. “What makes you think I gotta imagine, dickweed?”

The grunts laughed, all huddling around their portable camping flame. Green shook his head, smiling, and flicked a bit of his F Ration at Tango. Tango ran a hand through his immaculate greased-back hair and picked the yellow crumb of nutrients off his jacket collar. Looking it over, he said, “What the hell is this supposed to be, Green? Freeze-dried Kraft cheese?”

“gently caress if I know. Tin says scrambled eggs, my taste buds say otherwise.”

Moralez tossed his own ration tin aside. “You have to hand it to military engineering. They’ve concocted meals bad enough to make the packing materials they came in look appetizing.”

“You know what I heard they eat at the Special Forces building?” Heller asked. “Real turkey dinners. Full stop, Thanksgiving style.”

“Oh, gently caress Special Forces,” Moralez groaned. “What about us? We’re the ones marching to the slaughter whenever those things attack!”

Tango clapped him on the back. “For once I agree with you, College Boy! I bet they’d feed us better in prison.”

Heller snorted. “poo poo, I’ve been to prison.”

“And?”

He shrugged. “It’s not the Hilton buffet, but it beats freeze-dried.”

“gently caress, man,” Tango muttered. “That is some goddamn heavy poo poo.”

They sat around the camping flame, lost in thought. Moralez’s mind was stuck on poo poo, mountains of poo poo, poo poo piling over him and Tango and Green and Heller and all the other grunts, all nameless, faceless clumps of fertilizer for the fields of battle. He didn’t have much experience being buried alive, but sitting pretty and waiting to be dug back out didn’t seem like the brightest plan.

Moralez stood up and grabbed his standard-issue plasma rifle. He put in a new clip at full charge and yanked back the bolt. He looked at his squadmates one by one. “Boys,” Moralez said, “what say we go procure ourselves a little turkey dinner?”

-----

Green crouched next to Moralez in the shadows of the entry hall. He could feel the sweat starting to stand out on his forehead. Breaching the door had been easy, no locks or alarms, but his stomach kept spinning nonetheless.

“Moralez, man, I can’t do this,” Green hissed.

“Nothing’s going to go wrong. You didn’t even load your rifle.”

“Somehow I don’t think that’ll make much of a fuckin’ difference when they court-martial us! Did you even stop and think that I might want a career with the Corps?”

Moralez glared at him. “Do you really want to devote your life to an organization that treats you like a worthless hunk of Ock-fodder? gently caress that, man, you’re a human being. It’s time to make the establishment realize it.”

Green shook his head. “I’ve just got to pay my dues. Work my way up the ladder, you know?”

Moralez gave him a weak smile. “Fine. Okay. Do what you’ve gotta do, soldier.” He gave Green a soft clap on the shoulder. “I’ll bring you back a drumstick, all right?”

Green nodded, turning to face the exit. Moralez bounded around the corner, and Green waited until the sound of his footsteps faded away before heading for the exit.

He heard a clattering sound echo through the hall, and then a voice: “What the hell are you doing in here, private?” poo poo. College Boy mustn’t have taken many courses in keeping a low profile. Green dashed back to peek around a corner and saw Moralez scared stiff, taking a verbal thrashing from the security officer. Oh well, that was Moralez’s problem now. Wasn’t it? Green sighed. Gritting his teeth, he snuck down the hallway and bashed the officer in the back of the head with his rifle stock. He saw Moralez’s eyes go wide as the man toppled to the floor, out cold.

Green looked up at his squadmate and grinned. “Rule Number One for a soldier, Moralez: never leave a man behind.”

-----

“Okay, on my signal. One, two, three… breach!”

Heller burst through the side door with Tango, in perfect synch with Moralez and Green. They kept their weapons trained on the four Special Forces commandos and two officers sitting around the long dining table. The fabled turkey feast sat tantalizingly on the table.

He saw Moralez step up to the cozy gathering. “Sorry, gentlemen, my squad and I are commandeering this dinner.”

A confused smile spread out over one of the officers’ faces. “Is that so, private?”

“I’m sorry to say it is. Consider this an act of protest.”

“Funny, it looks like treason to me.”

Moralez chuckled and shook his head. “Private Green,” he said, “restrain these men.”

Green nodded and went to tie the first commando’s hands behind his back. The instant his fingers brushed the commando’s arm, the man sprang up, pistol in hand, and shot four bursts of energy into Green’s chest.

Moralez screamed, face twisting with fury, and shot at the commando, whose head promptly exploded in a green burst of plasma. Another commando returned fire, and Moralez took two shots before spinning to retaliate, his shot eviscerating the commando’s chest just as an energy bolt sunk between his eyes and killed him where he stood.

Heller and Tango dove behind cover, spraying plasma at the rest of the dinner party, cooking one commando before he’d fired a shot and tagging an officer as he ran for the door. The last commando tried to keep them suppressed, but Tango jumped out of cover and, vaporized his knee. The bruiser dropped to the ground and Tango advanced on him, cackling and peppering the floor with plasma bursts. The commando rolled to the side, grabbed Moralez’s rifle, and blew Tango’s stomach open with a single shot.

Wide-eyed, Heller bellowed as he dove out of cover and shot the downed commando over and over until his entire upper body was a smoldering green fricassee. He spun to face the remaining officer and found himself staring down the barrel of Green’s rifle. The officer flashed him a devious grin, pulled the trigger, and… nothing happened. The man’s face wilted, and before he could beg for mercy Heller blasted him out of his chair.

Heller heard a sputtering cough behind him, and spun to face the sound, rifle at the ready. It was Tango. poo poo. His guts were a quivering mess, and he looked on the verge of blacking out, but he was still kicking. The building’s alarm system blared to life. Heller looked to the exits, then back to his squadmate writhing on the floor. He knew what had to be done.

Heller grabbed a silver platter with a half-eaten turkey on it and brought it over to Tango. He sat down and put a hand on his fallen comrade’s shoulder, feeling the man relax at his touch. The hard-won spoils of war were theirs to enjoy.

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Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Senior Moment
(197 Words)

Mr. Isaacs’s hips let out a satisfying creak as he sank down into the couch. He grabbed an Airwolf tape from the top of the stack, leaned forward, and slid it into the machine. As the picture flashed to life, he heard an exaggerated ahhh-HEM over his right shoulder. He turned around to see a sour-faced geezer standing there, arms loaded with black cassettes.

Mr. Isaacs smiled. “Hello, Armisen. Something I can do for you?”

“You can spare me the god-drat innocent act, Isaacs. You know what you did.”

Mr. Isaacs turned back to Airwolf. “Oh? Now what would that be?”

“You know very well the rec room in this home opens promptly at noon. I saw you galloping over to the TV no later than 11:58. On my day to watch T.J. Hooker, no less!”

Mr. Isaacs frowned, his brow furrowing like an accordion. “Really? Huh. Sorry about that, Armisen, I must’ve had a senior moment. Better luck tomorrow.”

Armisen scowled and shuffled off to the card table. He dropped his tapes, plunked down into a folding chair, and stared gloomily at the wall.

T.J. Hooker,” Mr. Isaacs snickered. “T.J. Hooker my wrinkly rear end.”

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