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Nov 15, 2012

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I always want to do this and then I procrastinate past the deadline. Sign me up please, then I'll have to write something.


Nov 15, 2012

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Sport of Kings
747 words

Twenty seconds to go and they were still five points behind. Johnny Botambo was in the pitch with the other 24 players of the Ghana Panzerfausts, all huddled around their coach. "Right guys, we've got the entire field before of us and not much time. So here's the plan..", the coach waited for a few seconds and the whole team erupted in laughter. There was no plan in goreball. "Okay, but seriously, go out there and score. You're embarrassing me."

The Panzerfausts gave a shout and wandered back onto the field. Their opponents, the U.S-Kickers, brandished shiny swords and modern guns and in the case of Drony McBot, robo-mascot and star scorer of the team, machine guns and a remote signaler for anti-personnel rockets. Ghana relied mostly on outdated World War 3 technology. Johnny lined up behind Noah "Crusher" Mambase, their kingwhacker. It was his giant hands that held the ball at the start of the drive, and it was his hands that had to carry or pass it into the deadzone. This was basically the only rule of goreball so people took it very seriously.

All around Crusher Ghana's tanks, giants encased in Kevlar and heavy metal, brandished rusty cleavers and bulletproof shields with which they hoped to keep their kingwhacker safe. Johnny on the other hand was long and frail, the leaper of the team, and armor would only weigh him down. He tried to blend in with the gunners and flankers and kamikazes around him and nervously played with the grenades on his belt.

Cheerleaders unloaded their assault rifles into the roaring crowd. The red cloud of blood was their signal to start. Guns and swords and shields and rocket launchers were raised and somewhere a drone beep-booped and bullets started flying. Their offensive line was strong and numerous and pushed the enemy halfway across the field until their right flank was hit by an exploding kamikaze that catapulted three Ghanaian players out of the stadium.

Enemy tanks quickly rushed the weak spot and as Ghana's players shifted to meet them they were caught off-guard by another kamikaze on the other side. The line imploded. Crusher turned around and hurled the ball towards Johnny moments before his head was cut off by an oversized steak knife that read 'Everything is bigger in Texas'. "Leap Johnny", roared Crusher's head, "leap like you've never lept before". Tanks were sprinting towards him. Eyes wide in terror, Johnny took a grenade off his belt, counted to three and threw it to his feet.

He barely managed to hold on to the ball as his broken body whirled through the air. Across the field another explosion occurred and the American leaper surged past him, screaming "The Pain" over and over again. Proper leaping was all about the correct technique, thought Johnny.

The clock expired just as he landed a few inches short of the deadzone. His bones and intestines were broken but most of the other players had forgotten about the match and were facing to bloodshed in the middle of the field. Johnny clenched his teeth and wobbled pathetically towards the deadzone, inching ever closer. He lifted the ball with his good arm. Slowly edged it closer. Just as the ball touched down Johnny heard a beep-boop and the roar of machineguns and it exploded in his face.

One referee gave the score. One called it short. The third one had joined the brawl in the middle of the field. Boos and cheers echoed from the ranks equally. The referees shrugged and waved the audience towards them. They didn't have to ask twice. Waves of people washed over the stands and clashed on the field to settle the dispute, mingling with the few goreball players that where still standing. Specks of flesh and blood polluted the air as the cheerleaders opened fire to support their teams. Tanks broke bones and spines while kamikazes strangled people with their own intestines. Drony McBot ordered a precision-strike that destroyed part of the western stadium wall and hurt a few innocent bystanders.

The dust settled after an hour of carnage and a handful of Ghanaian fans and players were the only ones still conscious and standing.

"Score for Ghana", croaked a referee, wriggling on the ground as if that would unbreak his spine any sooner. "Match ends with a 5-1 victory for the U.S-Kickers." The Panzerfausts cheered. Johnny beamed as they lifted his smoking, broken body and carried him off to celebrate.

Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 17:46 on Jan 12, 2014

Nov 15, 2012

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100 words

He was bathed in light. Stars shot through the orange sky, twinkling and giggling in the distance. An orchestra of trumpets filled the air, urging him to move on. Thick ground fog stirred with every step he took. The orchestra rose to a deafening crescendo until he found himself before a beautiful monstrosity of pure radiance. The sight filled his eyes with tears and the sound of trumpets ebbed.

A gentle voice whispered in his head: "It is time. You are at peace now."

"Not yet", replied the warrior and drew his sword as he lunged towards the heathen god.

Nov 15, 2012

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Nov 15, 2012

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crabrock posted:

I will crit 1 person who seb isn't critting. This better not lose me 250 words.

Yes please

First time I ever wrote a story, I'll take any feedback I get

edit: Ah gently caress.

Nov 15, 2012

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Little Monsters
920 words

It was a dark and rainy night when the monsters came for little Mary. She found herself awoken, by what she could not tell, to unnatural sounds and crooked shadows. The puppets in the corner of her room looked like a witches’ coven. The colorful shapes on the walls of her room were oddly twisted. Distorted faces – of demons and zombies and other scary things – maliciously stared at her from all sides. From the outside, something that looked like long, hard fingers repeatedly tapped against her window, and far off in the distance she heard the roar of creatures that were probably big and hairy and hungry for children. An occasional scratching and whining noise came from the door to her room. Mary hid under her sheets.

But no matter how long she waited, the monsters would not go away. They never did. This was not the first time they had come for her. Often she would simply close her eyes and keep hiding where they couldn’t find her until she fell asleep. Other nights she would call for her parents, who would make the darkness go away. Then they would insist that the monsters – the very monsters they had just scared off – were no real monsters at all. “You’re a big girl now,” her father had softly murmured just a few nights ago. “Big girls don’t believe in monsters”. Her mother had stroked Mary’s hair in silence, looking down at her with pity in her eyes.

Mary lifted the edge of her cover to peek out.

A pale grimace glared right at her. It took all of her courage not to immediately close the opening, wrap herself up and wait out the night in shame. She held her breath as she defiantly stared back at the satanic apparition. Then, for the first time, Mary saw through the unfamiliar shadows. As she recognized the shapes before her, the alien face turned into a friendly one; it was none other than Princess Sweetberry, ruler of Marshmallow Mountain.

This seemed rather odd to Mary. Had her beloved doll deceived her all this time? She edged further out of her sheets to take in more of the room. Suddenly that spooky shadow on the wall looked suspiciously like one of the plants on the window sill. The arm that reached out from under her bed was actually a violin case, sloppily stashed on the floor. Even as her head looked all the way out from under the sheets, the creepy clown on the opposite wall didn’t move and didn’t scream and didn’t jump out of his frame and eat her.

Her feet touched the soft fur of the carpet. Out in the open, Mary froze in place, fearing for a moment that the monsters had only hidden to lure her out of safety. She listened to the sound of her pounding heart and the howling wind outside. The clacking noise from the window persisted. She looked up, and sharply breathed in as long, pointy fingers clawed their way through the window right above her. But then there was another gust of wind, and the fingers bended just at the same time and sparse leaves fluttered and Mary understood. She narrowed her eyes and frowned disapprovingly. Lighting struck on the horizon, briefly illuminating the wooden texture of the not-so-scary twigs. Ordinary thunder bellowed in the distance.

The scratching on the door renewed in vigor. Mary spun around in alarm. She had been brave so far, but there were no trees in the hallway, no thunder or wind. Whatever made that noise was real. She chewed on her lower lip, throwing unsure glances towards the door. Then she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, as if resolving herself to her fate. Arming herself with a ruler from the homework appliances that were littered around her backpack, she crept towards the door, raising her plastic sword over her head. Her free hand jittered slightly as she reached out for the handle.

She yanked the door open and something hairy rushed over her. The ruler slipped from her hand and Mary let out a hoarse cry as the thing clawed at her belly and slobbered all over her face. She pushed it off and turned to run, but a familiar yelp stopped her.

Mary glanced back over her shoulder. A fuzzy, little dog wagged its stubby tail and ran after her, nervously trying to lick her hands and feet. “Puddles, you stupid dog!” Mary said, stomping on the ground in dismay. Puddles recoiled and whined and Mary’s pouting face softened a little. She whispered an apology and gently stroked the miserable creature’s fur. He was still young and must have been just as scared as she was, Mary realized. The thought of her frightened little doggy desperately trying to get into her room all these nights made her sad. She gave him a pitiful look.

Puddles calmed down a little and sat, looking back up at her expectantly. The wagging of his tail had resumed.

“You’re a big boy now, Puddles,” she said, scratching him between the ears. “Big boys don’t believe in monsters.” Puddles tilted his head. She didn’t know if he understood her, but that was okay. Mary hadn’t understood either, at first. She closed the door to her room with Puddles safe inside, and went back to bed, the dog curling up on the ground next to her. She wished him a good night, and they both slept well, despite the rain.

Nov 15, 2012

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I'm in.

Nov 15, 2012

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883 words

The corridor goes on forever. Dusty paintings line the walls, some of them portraits, some of me. I look straight ahead. Cutlery and plates clank against the platter in rhythm with my step.

I hesitate as I reach the door, look at myself in the reflection of the cloches. With one hand I pull a strand of hair out of my face, careful not to drop the tray. My face is hard as stone.

I enter a chamber the size of a ballroom. Sundry objects litter the floor and crowd hastily arranged tables and shelves: vases and dice, bottles and coins, toy soldiers and computer chips, models of ships and cars and trains. Stuffed animals pose in a corner next to a heap of rolled up posters. More posters hang on the walls. Today they show planes, rockets and other airborne machinery from various angles.

I place the tray on a small desk by the door. “Good morning, love,” I say. In the middle of the room, my husband grunts in response.

He is absorbed in his work; quick, precise motions build a complex mosaic of lines and circles, highlights and shadows. The immense canvas before him rests in a machinery that allows him to scroll through near-endless drawing paper. He built it himself. To his left and right are two tables; on them, his tools, and more models of aircraft like on the posters.

And our ring. He says he doesn’t want to get it dirty.

Yesterday’s tray still holds half a bowl of soup. “You didn’t like your dinner?” He makes a noise as if a fly were annoying him. His haggard face stares at the canvas in a trance.

The rings under your eyes get darker every day, and every day it surprises me how much darker they can get.

“If you would like something specific for lunch…?”

He barely dignifies this with a response: “Nah.”

“How did you sleep last night?”


“Did you sleep last night?”

He shrugs.

“You didn’t shower either, I take it?”

He grunts. There is silence.

Talk to me.

“Planes today?”

“Planes. Satellites. Rockets. Airships. Space stations. Space, then sky. Birds coming soon.”

“You are going to draw every single model of every single airborne piece of machinery that ever existed, I suppose.”


“A few planes are not representative enough, I suppose.”

He pauses, rubs his eyes, sighs and looks over to me. “What d’you want?”

I want you to stop, but I don’t know how. I have brought your friends and family, I have tried guilt and jealousy, food and sex. Only to defend your stupid project will you turn away from it.

“I want you to stop.”

The suggestion takes him aback. We had this talk before, but you forgot.

“Are you mad? After how far I’ve come?”

“You don’t know how far you have come.”

“Not far enough to quit. Too far to stop.”

“What you do is impossible. New things come into existence more quickly than one man can paint them. Don’t you see that you are throwing your life away?“

He stares at me for a second, his mouth half-open in disbelief at my ignorance. “Do you understand why I am doing this?”

I suggested it as a joke. You agreed, as a joke. That was before you forgot how to laugh.

“This-,“ he motions towards the canvas, “is pure art. Non-commercial. Total dedication to creation for creation’s sake. My life, my wealth, all secondary. What I’m doing here, it’s a tribute to existence itself. A manmade monument to spite the inevitability of the end. Only fitting, if I never be able to finish it. Only fair, if my life be the tribute. I am nothing without art.”

His inane rant is over. We frown at each other in silence.

“And your picture of everything, will it contain a picture of your picture of everything?”

He walks closer, glares at me. “You mock me.”

I am reasoning with you. I should know better.

I take a deep breath and pick up a cup from the platter. “At least will you do me the favor of drinking your morning tea if you fancy to go without sleep?”

He snorts, still staring. “And then you let me get back to work?”

I nod.

He snatches the cup from my hands. Drops of tea land on the floor as he drinks in a hurry. I put the empty cup on yesterday’s platter and pick it up.

“Don’t forget to eat your breakfast, love.”

He is already back at the drawing board. He grunts.

I leave the room. Behind me, something heavy falls on the ground. Objects scatter across the floor. Two men, all in white, are waiting for me outside. They start at the noise, but I motion for them to stop.

“My husband is exhausted and has merely fallen asleep,” I inform them. “I am sure that no force will be necessary.”

One of them squints at me. They have their suspicions about this sudden slumber, but there are no complaints. They put their syringes away and walk past me.

The least I can do is to make it easier for him.

I carry the plate back through the corridor. My face is hard as stone. I look straight ahead.

Inspired by Howard Hallis and his attempt to draw the Picture of Everything.

Nov 15, 2012

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Questionable Content
150 words

“Okay, so there’s this little boy who sucks his thumbs, right? And his mother says: ‘Son, don’t suck your thumbs. You’re no baby anymore!’ But he keeps doing it, and then… oh boy, I love this part,” full of excitement, Mr. Hoffmann starts narrating with his hands, “then a lunatic tailor runs in and cuts off the boy’s thumbs with giant scissors!”

He makes an exaggerated cutting motion and bellows laughter. The editor regards him with an impassive stare.

“Because he kept sucking ‘em, you see.”

The editor does not react. The smile fades from Mr. Hoffmann’s face.

“And, uh… we’ll have creepy illustrations, with blood and stuff…”

The editor looks down at his notes, back up. “This is going to be a kid’s book, you say?”

For a moment, Mr. Hoffmann is silent. He draws another sheet from his binder.

“Okay, so there’s this little boy who slowly starves…”

Nov 15, 2012

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I think, I *think* I may have recently run my mouth in IRC about how I fear no man and preemptively invited every judge of this week to give me a flash rule if they so please.

I *think*

Well anyway, you still have to read that poo poo, so :v: Please inform me regarding your decision re: flash rules ASAP so I can get to work. Should I pick my decade now?

Nov 15, 2012

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I read that, I was basically asking if someone wanted to flash-rule my choice of decade first. Signing in with the 1420s then.

Nov 15, 2012

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Because who's better suited to crit multiple-time TD winners than
<--- this guy

The Saddest Rhino
rear end in a top hat Ghost

This made me laugh. Then I read through it again and laughed some more. Iqbal is a rad storyteller. Awesome voice.

This story as cake: Malakofftorte (My favorite :dance: )


This is cute and well written, but is it a children's story where you're from? Is it even a story? A girl scores at baseball. That's it?

This story as cake:
You brought delicious churros to the party. You insist they're cake.

Nu Mulu di Bertoldo

The whole story is set up like a joke you tell your buddies at the bar and then you get to the punchline and you go "By the way it was fake that's the joke" and it kinda peters out. This had all the makings of a star, and it's still good, but the last line is a wasted opportunity IMO.

This story as cake: You didn't crit my story. No cake for you. :mad:

Babushkina Skazka.

I kinda like this. You make clever use of your frame story. Gives me a wistful vibe. The negative: in comparison with the rest of your story, the final tale sounds hurried and the ending is a little abrupt. I'm also not sure if the Great Bear god entity fits the analogy, but maybe that's how the story was told to you, so whatever.

This story as cake: Chocolate cake. "Somebody" scraped off a chunk of icing with his finger.


You had me at "Leisure-time activity". This is silly and straight to the point and I love it.

This story as cake:
Vanilla ice cream cake w/ Smarties and whipped cream


I'm probably a big dumb illiterate baby but you jumped between Javier, Ned and Javier's mother so often I had to focus not to lose track. Other than that, very dark and to the point again. Based on a true story.

This story as cake: You already had cake.

J. Comrade

Uhhhhhh... I'm sorry, what? I blanked out. I wish I could tell you more but to be honest I look at the words and then at the order they're put in and something in me just shuts off.

This story as cake: Vegetable cake on your birthday.

Nov 15, 2012

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A story about triumph set in the 1420s told before or after its own crux in the third person as an allegory on the war on drugs (I think)

The Filth Queen
992 words

The iron scorched her skin and Jane screamed. The pliers wrapped around her finger and she pleaded. The fist smashed into her mouth and she cursed. But she didn’t break.

“Admit your heresy, whore,” the Earl would spit, and she would spit back at him. He tortured her more out of hurt pride than zeal, she knew. It gave her a sense of satisfaction worth the all the pain in the world.

The sunlight was gone when they threw her in her cell. She knocked herself against the wooden door, but it didn’t give in. She did the only thing she could do. She prayed. The air was thick with the wails and pleads of prisoners.


Her interrogations grew less frequent. Sometimes the Earl didn’t even bother to attend. Instead, some inquisitor would preach to her about her role in society and other moral questions as she suffered. She hoped they would grow bored of her. She prayed for freedom.

She broke when they threatened to destroy her right hand.

He had saved it for last, the Earl told her that day. He had known it would make her confess, and he laughed as she did. He laughed even harder as she asked for her sword back. They kicked her out on the street, but not before they hurt her one last time.

Her rags rubbed against the brand on her neck as she limped out of the castle into the big town below. She didn’t pray that night. She slept in the city muck.


The mud of the slums caked her robes. Jane absently opened and closed her mangled left, trying to focus on her thoughts through the wails of her empty stomach. Begging in the good districts hadn’t worked. People recognized her. “Warrior Whore”, they called her. The inquisitors and their watchmen would always keep their eyes on her, hoping for a relapse.

Among the other branded, she at least had peace. There were many criminals here, but they usually took their business to the better parts of town, where it was worth it. Guards only ever came during raids, looking for signs of heresy or other illegal activity. Every night there would be screams and the sound of steel on steel and people would disappear. They were replaced quickly.

A hooded figure approached and Jane stood, steadying herself against a wooden shack. He asked if she wanted to get her hands dirty. “I only have one,” she said, “but it will do.”


The big man sized her up and laughed. “Come to collect, eh,” he said. “You?” She flexed her mangled left as he approached. “Don’t think so.”

He lunged. She buried a knife in his heart.

She had won fights before, but never killed. As the man slithered to the ground, his eyes wide open in shock, his mouth gaping, his stupid, ape-like expression frozen in his final moments, Jane realized that she liked what she saw.


The leather harness felt good on her skin, like old times. Her hair was cut to short stubbles and with the right stride and the right amount of dirt in her face she looked like any other mercenary boy as she paced through the streets and back alleys of the better districts.

She entered a dark cul-de-sac. Two people were loving at the end, behind an armored guard. She didn’t break her stride. The watchman challenged her. She wrapped down her collar to reveal her brand. He noticed her mangled left and cursed, unsheathing his sword in a hurry. Her eyes gleamed with delight.

By the time the watch had tracked the source of the screams, they only found a dead inquisitor and his dead bodyguard.


Her sword was crude and unbalanced, but she buried it in the watchman’s neck regardless. Another took a desperate stab at her. She swatted his spear away, took a quick step forward and opened his throat. With a grunt, she pushed the man’s quivering body to the ground.

Her friends hadn’t fought quite as well. Branded heretics bled in the mud between the bodies of armored city guards. But more had survived, and they cheered as they realized their victory. Today, the Earl would learn of another disappeared raiding party.

She sent her people back to work: the branded, petty criminals who considered her a savior in their desperation; the whores, who had grown sick of their cruel patrons; the cutthroats and mercenaries and lunatics who respected her boldness.

The Filth Queen, they called her now. She took them all in, and she made good use of them.


The Earl had brought guards, as did she. There was much to discuss; a partnership that could only benefit everyone, he insisted. He’d even sweeten the deal, he said, as he put her old sword on the makeshift table between them.

She ignored it. “I am happy to fight you.”

The color went from his face. Was that not her sword, he asked. Did she not know who she was talking to, he demanded.

She gave him a smile like curdled milk. “I am talking to the Earl of Wengton, sinner in a city of heretics. This is not my sword. It belonged to Jane of Kyrie. You have killed Jane of Kyrie.”

She went past the crate with her sword on it, looked straight at the Earl who backed away just slightly. “I tolerate your presence because your policies swell my ranks and your dead equip my soldiers. I am, in a way, indebted to you. But neither have I forgotten.”

Her sword stopped short of the Earl’s wrist. He screamed, stumbled, fell back on his rear end. His guards drew their weapons, but she and her gang just laughed, laughed until the coward Earl disappeared from the ruined shack. She let him take her old sword. She didn’t care. He would return, but she didn’t care. She was the Filth Queen, and this was her city.

Nov 15, 2012

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SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

:siren: FILLER PROMPT :siren:

Interpret the phrase viking party ends in disaster. I don't care how.

250 words. No signups, submission lasts until the next prompt is up.


219 words

Dear Professor Damme,

Certainly you are aware of the old Swedish custom of Dryckenskap, originally a Viking rite to pay respect to most esteemed guests. As such, I am confident you will also understand what limited options I had when Olaf, anthropology junior and thus my charge, arrived at our doorstep carrying two kegs of mead and demanded the entire fraternity drink with him.

I can assure you that it was not enjoyable in the least, despite unfounded rumors you may have heard of me lavishly making out with a certain Tina Damme, who, as I have been informed after the fact, which didn’t happen anyway, may be your daughter, or your wife. On the contrary; one of the few instances I still remember from that dreadful evening includes Olaf, me and an ancient honorable game called “Viking Master”. Post-celebratory research has concluded that this game should not, in fact, have featured actual paddles and that Olaf should not, in fact, have blown an actual horn in my ear.

What I am saying is, I feel I have already been punished severely for my naive hospitality, and I hope you will be understanding when I must hereby announce my inability to deliver my Master's thesis in time. I will submit it in the redemption thread instead.

A. Failure

Nov 15, 2012

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In. Dibs on Uranium.

Nov 15, 2012

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"Shunned, were you?" said Entenzahn, leisurely sucking on his pipe. Wafts of shag tobacco smoke permeated the room in which we had received our most desperate client yet.

"How did you know?" cried Mercedes. The look of surprise on his face was one that I had seen all too often on people who weren't accustomed to my friend's singular observation skills.

"Your swollen red eyes leave me to deduce that you have suffered great heartbreak. As I have done my research and know that you are without friends, writing contests on the internet being your only form of human contact, it stands to reason that you were unexpectedly derived of this experience. This is further supported by the worn spot on your shirt directly over your left shoulder blade, where you have patted yourself on the back in celebration of a forfeit win. The only other explanation would be that somebody congratulated you on a job well done, which is hardly feasible."

As always, it seemed so simple once he had laid open the facts. Before us, Mercedes nearly fainted from shame, again. "What do you propose I do?" he asked. Entenzahn distorted his face as I'd seen him do before, whenever he was concentrating on a very complex problem, like trying to think of a story Mercedes had written that wasn't a literary atrocity.

Finally, the tension on his features eased. "You can brawl me instead, bitch," he said, and all color went from Mercedes's face. Would he accept?

Nov 15, 2012

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A Matter of Energy
1193 words - Element: Uranium

The sleek steel-golem wheeled its hammer around and smashed it into the junk-robot in an elegant arc. Jyllo flinched in unison with his construct’s demise. Force feedback from the metal he had formed was minimal; it would have been worse if he had animated the thing. He pulled up his goggles and rubbed his eyes, flicking his other wrist to set the rusty platform below him into motion. The end was always the hardest part. The audience seemed so annoyed after his battles.

Venerable Master Animator Dyulakk waited for him in the middle, wearing his traditional blue-golden robe. Next to him stood a lean girl in brown novice garment. She gave Jyllo an apologetic look and shrugged. He forced himself to smile back at her.

“Three seconds, that’s a new record,” Dyulakk said and turned to the audience: “Eleah Bravia wins. What a surprise,” he had muttered that last part.

With a sigh, Jyllo made a lifting gesture and the broken parts of his robot levitated behind him as he left the arena alongside Dyulakk.

“It did move this time,” he said. “Still not enough power for weapons or complicated calculations. I think the presence of the others screws with energy transmission. If I could conduct tests outside arena battles, I—“

“Your war machines have never won in two years,” Dyulakk interrupted him. “People are beginning to ask themselves why we are keeping you. Some rumor it is only on the reputation of your late father.”

“Well they can go gently caress themselves.”

“I agree with them. You're a failure. You dress like a clown. Some even joke you’re unable to animate your own golem. I admit you’re a competent engineer. We should give you to the builders,” he smiled.

“This project will be important—”

“When the gods decide to take our powers,” Dyluakk chuckled. “I heard the stories.”

Jyllo remained silent.


Jyllo always liked to spend time in the cool underground air after an arena fight. He followed the new shaft his burrowing machine had dug into the ground, his arms outstretched, fingers tracing the earthen walls. He closed his eyes and reached out to the soil around him, feeling for the elements, and they reverberated impulses back into his fingertips and up his synapses. Shimmering silver. Copper long and wry. Faint traces of musky coal.

He stopped. There was something new. Fever. He concentrated, probing for the source. He tugged at something and felt ore unravel, sliding towards him through pores in the earth until dull metallic pebbles fell out of the wall. The hair on his skin stood up. He picked up a tiny rock and closed his fist around it, reaching out for the soul of the unknown element—

—dense black monolith adorns the horizon and pulsates green and orange in the dark electrifies the air around it and a humming noise slowly rises to a cacophony of particles as the light grows stronger and color washes over me and there is heat so much heat it burns my skin and turns my bones to ashes—

—the clang of a falling pebble snapped Jyllo back into consciousness. He slumped against the wall, shuddering. There was a metallic taste in his mouth and his palm was warm where the stone had heated up from their exchange.

“What are you?” He panted. The rocks didn’t answer.


Experiments had started promising. Jyllo would trace his fingers along the metal and sense the structure, the logic, the characteristics of his newfound ore. He would form it, send impulses and wait for the reply. Communicating with new earthen treasures always had something exciting about it.

“Energy,” it had whispered to him, “and decay”. He had called it Radnite, the bleeding metal.

“Brother, are you paying attention?” Eleah asked and he looked up from his notes.


She raised a brow.


“The Master motioned to remove you,” she repeated.

“And send me to the builders, yeah, he can’t do that.”

“There will be a vote. You haven’t fought in weeks.”

“Oh please, I found the Radnite, like, uhhh…,” he counted on his fingers. “What month is it?”

“They will make you battle to prove your worth.”

“Not ready yet.”

“Just animate some golem. You’re bound to beat one of the novices, right?”

“I can’t.”

“If you swallow your pride—“

“I can’t”, he hissed. “I can’t animate.”

“Oh. Ooooooh,” her eyes went wide. She looked down. “You never told me.”

“They didn’t lie when they said father had talent for two.” There was silence. “Look, I'll be fine, I just have to make this work,” he gestured towards his notes, discarded concepts of Radnite batteries. “I know the metal. There’s potential energy, but it has something destructive to it, like a contagious disease. It’s hard to moderate. Activating the Radnite is like… tearing it open. There’s heat and energy and the emissions rip apart more Radnite and it loops back on itself. I have to nanny it or it gets too hot and the air goes foul.”

Eleah studied the notes. “It gets hot when energy is released, and too much energy is bad.”

He nodded.

“Can't you just cool it?”


Master Dyulakk had insisted on fighting Jyllo himself. Of course.

He stood on the other platform, smiling. His golem, Block, the undefeated, giant metal cube, shook the ground as it rolled forward. Below Jyllo, his RadBot whirred and hissed in the sand, making jerky motions on the spot.

Block reached the robot and fell over, trying to crush the construct beneath its weight. The robot lifted its arms against the cube, pistons screaming under the pressure. Radnite arms threatened to crack as they pushed back.

“Come on,” muttered Jyllo. He had worked all night to devise a way to delay the power growth process, but now it took too long.

The standoff lasted for many excruitiating seconds. Then the air filled with electricity. The audience gasped as Block began to edge backwards, invisible energies forcing it away from RadBot. Jyllo smirked. Eleah grabbed his arm and stared at the battlefield.

A faint, high-pitched sound emerged until an electric arc shot from RadBot towards the metal cube. As Block was hit, Dyulakk reeled backwards on his platform and cursed. Jyllo felt the energy of a broken bond dissipate. The cube stopped moving.

The air sizzled. An unseen force deformed Block, stretching it towards RadBot, and Jyllo squinted. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He could feel faint waves of pressure as RadBot's magnetic shield fluttered, and broke. Distorted electrified metal seeped towards the center of the robot, piercing layers of steel and lead, water and air. It touched the Radnite core and time stood still.

Then something invisible exploded. The air rippled with force, a warm sensation washing over Jyllo. People in the audience gasped as golems shut down, some falling apart into heaps of scrap. In the middle of the arena, a smoking robot stood unmoving in a puddle of molten steel. Dyulakk was on all fours, staring at Jyllo in disbelief across the field.

For a second noone moved. Then the crowd roared.

“What just happened?” Eleah asked.

“Progress, dear sister. Progress.”

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
Oh poo poo 24 signups already :bandwagon: In.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

Erogenous Beef posted:

:siren: Mercenzahn Facepunchbrawl :siren:

The First Shot
1.235 words

It was December 10th, 1989, and I was the only sober man in Czechoslovakia. The government had just resigned and people were dancing outside, beer in one hand, jingling their keys in the other. It was a symbol of the revolution: Goodbye, Communism, time to go home. They celebrated the beginning of an era, though to me, it felt like the end.

It was in these raving streets that I met Karel again. We’d been on border patrol together. It was only nice to say hello.

“Mirsloooov,” he slurred. “Less havadrink eh?”

Of course he’d be out celebrating the collapse. Always on the bright side, that was Karel. I wasn’t much of a drinker, but it was a bad day, and all the boozehounds seemed to have fun. A farewell toast to socialism? Sure, I said. What harm could it do?

The last thing I recall from that night is the stench of cheap Vodka. You never forget your first shot.


I remember waking on the pavement the next day and not remembering anything. Better than being miserable, I thought. Even the headache was a welcome distraction.

Anna disagreed. She’d been up all night, worried for her husband who’d disappeared in the chaotic streets of Prague and I’d come home stinking of alcohol and smoke and a fun time. We had a fight then. Actually, it was a pretty one-sided affair. She called me a deadbeat, and other things, and she was right. But back then, I saw it differently. I already felt isolated and my own wife kicked me while I was down. That’s what I told myself when I left our apartment to look for a bar.


It was in the summer of 1990 that we had our final argument. I was slumped into the plastic chair in our barebones kitchen, either drunk or on a hangover, I don’t know anymore. Anna stood over me. Her husband was getting shitfaced when he should be looking for a job and she was visibly worried, talking with her hands, arguing, trying to get me to pay attention. I was busy pitying myself, so I told her to shut up. Things escalated quickly.

It still hurts to think of what happened next. The look on her face as she held her bloody nose, all frightened and sad and innocent. Turns my guts upside down. She cried, later, but not in front of me.

People had always joked that our marriage would hold as tight as the iron curtain.

Other women would have tried to smooth things out, but not Anna. She’d always been headstrong, that’s what I’d loved about her. She disappeared from my life, and the better for her. I only wish I could apologize. Maybe I deserve to live with that memory.


I made some half-hearted attempts to stop drinking then. Once in a while I’d go to bed sober, but then I’d be awake all night, my head filled with dead dreams and empty faces. I didn’t bother looking for a full-time work anymore. The government paid you for sitting on your rear end now.

It was barely enough for a roof over your head, so I still worked the odd job for booze and a shower: paint a fence, wash some dishes, entertain a gentleman in a dark alley. When that didn’t work, I sold my stuff. One day I got five bottles of Vodka and a shave for my old medal. Anna had shown it to all her friends the day I'd gotten it. I was glad to be rid of it.

The same night I awoke and the world was upside-down. My collar was caked with vomit and my trousers were stained with urine. The contents of a toppled trashcan were all around me. I had rollerblades on my feet that weren’t mine and I had no idea where they’d come from. One wheel still turned around the axis that had broken off the right shoe. I’d probably stolen them from some child who’d finally gotten something for New Year's that wasn’t a rubber duck or a wooden pop gun. It was a depressing thought.

“Here comes Miroslav,” I yelled, “destroyer of capitalist toys.”

I laughed, but it turned to a whimper. I’d done a lot of bad things in the last months, but right then, as I was hunched bottoms-up against a brick wall, piss trickling down my face, wearing kids’ toys that I didn’t know how I’d gotten into them, that’s when I realized I had a problem.


Like most people, I was pretty skeptical about the idea of AA meetings. Tossing a bunch of addicts into the same room, that didn’t sound like a smart idea. But the country was sobering up and care centers were overrun. If you were patient, you could wait for a spot. If you were desperate, you set up a circle of chairs and talked.

It was imitating. There were no secrets before the group and some of the stories there sounded just as bad as mine: people who had lost everything, their families, their jobs, their dignity. Still, when it was my turn to talk, I hesitated.

I’m Miroslav, and I’m sad that communism is gone.

I’m Miroslav, and I’ve beaten my wife.

I’m Miroslav, and I blew a man for a bottle of beer.

“I’m Miroslav, and I drink,” I said.

“Why?” they asked. And when I told them I wanted to forget, they asked me what that was.

And I shrugged.

They understood. First-timers are usually shy. But as the conversation moved past me, I couldn’t help but wonder: what did I want to forget that day? I thought of the old times, pre-revolution, the party meetings and the military service before that. My time on the border.

I saw a part of myself that I couldn’t unsee then, like looking at the sun for too long. You know it’s there, but when you stare into it the impression burns into your eyes.

I woke up with a horrible hangover the next day, but I still remembered.

And I knew what I had to do.


The face of Pavel Hunas smiled back, no matter how long I frowned at him. I felt like I should say something, but I didn’t know what. I just stood there, fists clenched, volatile Prague rain running down the granite stone behind his bleached photo. He’d looked like a nice boy. Fifteen, maybe. Groomed and dressed for the shot by loving parents. Eyes full of hope. Idealists were a dime a dozen back then. I’d been one too.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

I repeated the words. Sorry, sorry. Sorry I believed in a system that failed you. Sorry I was on duty that day. Sorry Karel made jokes about how I was a man now and Anna bragged that I was some kind of war hero and I let them. Sorry you're dead. Sorry to bother you. Sorry for all of this poo poo. Sorry.

I realized that my legs had given in and I was on one knee, hands in the dirt, fighting back the tears in front of his grave. My apologies were barely audible. He smiled.

I didn’t drink that night. It wasn’t easy, but it felt right. The memories would always be there, but I’d have to live with them. It’s the least I could do.

You never forget your first shot.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
Sleight of Hand
838 words

The deal was going down at recess, next to the fluffy mattress that marked the cozy corner. Around us, people chased each other between their tables, squealing in delight. The nerds played on the Tic-Tac-Toe computer that the big ones had put up in the small chill-out space, behind the plants. The most industrious of us were working on additions to the gold star wall, while their opposites scrambled to finish their homework in tiny paper books wrapped in colorful plastic covers; red, the color of Math.

Flo and me, we did none of that. We had business to discuss.

“I agree to the deal,” he said, “if you promise not to give the card to her.” He spat the last word. Her, that was Mel, the timid blonde reading an illustrated book on her desk, serenity in a whirl of chaos. Her absent smile was sweet as a piece of Milka chocolate.

We’d all been playing the trading card game back then, not knowing it was rigged, or pretending not to. Naive boys and girls spending their pocket money chasing a cardboard dream, every piece a false promise of heaven. We got high on the new-card smell, the sound of cheap plastic wrapping, the idea of owning a full collection. But the flavor of the month changed weekly, and nobody achieved closure before his old addiction was replaced with a new one, one step further down the spiral.

Now, Mel, she’d gotten drat close. She needed only one last card for a complete set, a way out of this hellish cycle, and Flo had it. But he hated girls, and this one especially. It wasn’t just about the cooties. She was a good kid, and he was a street rat, a match made in hell. If I’d succeed he’d still beat the crap out of me eventually, just for helping his enemy. It was a price I was willing to pay.

I must have smiled at her, because Flo was glowering suspiciously when I’d turned back.

“I promise,” I lied. I took my stack of worn out football cards, about fifty, all unique, and put it before him. He’d get all of them, days’ worth of misappropriated lunch money. The distrust receded from his features and just like that he was all business. With a celebratory gesture, he pulled out his booklet, browsed through pages of glossy card wrap and finally pulled out a single piece. My heart jumped at the sight. There was my ticket to dateville.

As he slid closer on the wooden floor I had to remind myself to stay cool. You can do this, I thought. Get the card, put it in your pocket, walk away. He knows what’s up, but he can’t do a thing if you don’t make it obvious. Act casual. Don’t. loving. Panic.

He held the card out to me, regarding me with curious eyes. I breathed deep. My jittering hand edged closer.

I felt the rough texture of cardboard between my fingertips.

I wheeled around like a walrus making a backflip into water. I'd turned straight towards Mel's desk, but my flailing arms had barely touched the ground before I found myself stuck, Flo’s hands tugging at my trousers and pulling at my legs. I pushed, hurled myself forward, but even with all the momentum I could muster I remained in my perpetrator’s grip, my upper body landing on the floor with a painful smack.

I tried to wriggle free. Inching forward, I held the card as far away from Flo as possible, stretching my arm out towards Mel on the other end of the room. My wordless screams drowned in the sea of chaos around us. She didn’t notice. She’d never know.

I felt a weight on my legs and realized that Flo was climbing on top of me. There was no throwing him off, no matter how much I bucked and reared and kicked. He was the son of a colonel and his father must have shown him a few tricks or two. I felt a tug at my wrist and turned on my back, wrestling him for the card. It was an epic struggle, it was mankind tugging at the strings of fate, it was David vs Goliath, only that Goliath was me because I was the fat one and I was about to lose.

We both pulled at my wrist for an eternity of moments. But eventually, Flo was the stronger man. I could only give a voiceless cry as he pried my fingers open and snatched the treasure they contained. “The deal is off, traitor,” he said, looking at me with disgust. As he turned to climb off me he must have gotten an idea since he stopped, moved back a little and farted into my face. Twice. Kids can be cruel.

After that, I just lay there, defeated, stinking and ashamed. My quest for chivalry had failed that day, but at least I got my cards back. We weren’t animals, after all.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

I'm another big baby that would like its flash rule now. I'll be at work most of the weekend and I'd appreciate the headroom.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

Palisader posted:

So it doesn't seem like I'm a crybaby, I'm not in for this week's but I wanted to express thanks for both the general crits I received. I'd ask for a more line by line crit but it really seems like I need to work on an overall style adjustment first.

That's okay, we always welcome new material for the list.

P.S. I've taken a look at your story and I'd say style is the least of your worries. I don't usually do this but I guess I'm a big boy now so

Palisader posted:

The Move
word count: 967

When I was eleven years old, I lived in Hong Kong. This is the first impression of your story and it's weak because there's absolutely nothing interesting about it.

In general,Stuffy prose EUGH this isn't necessarily an exciting thing. Something close to 7 million people live in Hong Kongright nowYou speak in the present tense, no need to remind me it's right now. Fly to Macau and proudly announce that you live in Hong Kong and you'll get a funny look and a gentle reminder of where the aquarium is. You start your story with a boring statement and then you explain that it is a boring statement. Do you see the problem?

At any rate, moving to Hong Kong was exciting. Up to that point I wasI'd been - When you talk of an event or state preceding the past, use past perfect, without a doubt, a tiny little southern girl living in a series of tiny little southern towns. I didn't have seriously your use of tense in this paragraph is confusing a tiny little southern accent to go along with it, but the same couldn't be said of my worldview. I lived in America. To me, other countries were a bit like fairy tales—they existed, but possibly I'm going to take your little toys away from you now only in theory. To this day, I describe my move to Hong Kong as the best time of my life. Since then I've married and had a child, so it's not entirely true, I suppose. But it was definitely the best thing that could have possibly happened to me at the time. This is where my eyes trail off the screen because I don't want to read anymore. You are rambling. Imagine this story in the voice of Abe Simpson.

I can't really describe the experience. DON'T DO THIS, you're a writer, if something's worth describing, describe it. If not, leave it out One day I woke up and I was living on an island that you could drive across in one day. I saw buildings so high that it could rain and their roofs tops would stay dry. I saw open-air markets, shouting fishermen selling eels, silent temples, monsoons, and a shop that sold ivory figures of couples in poses from the Kama-Sutra that my mother definitely wouldn't let me inspect too closely. I can't describe it, so here's a description! It isn't bad but we're 250 words into the story please get to the point

My mother, far too bored of housework to stay home for long, worked at the school that I attended my school, being one of the few places that didn't require either of us to know Cantonese. This meant two things—onethings: one, that she rode the school bus with me on the school bus every morningI think it sounds less stuffy in that order, just a suggestion, a trip that took more than an hour, and two, that I would accompany her on weekends and holidays any time she had to go to the school for work related things. I didn't mind. I loved that school. Hong Kong International School it was called, and to this day I still remember how to say it in Mandarin. Well, that comma and I can count to 100 and say "thank you". I would make the most polite Chinese accountant that there ever was. There is not going to be a plot is there

My best friend at the time was named Amy, and she was from Singapore. Her family had a sign up in their bathroom that was a list of all the things that could get you fined in Singapore. I asked her once if it was all really true. “Oh yes” she said, her eyes going wide “they're very strict there. You can't even buy gum!” I was shocked and horrified. I still wonder if that's true. EXCUSE ME SIR IM LOST I WAS TOLD THERED BE A STORY HERE BUT I CANT FIND IT CAN YOU HELP ME PLEASE ITS DARK AND IM SCARED AND HORRIFIED

Sometimes, on the occasions when my mother would have to visit the work at school in order to work, Amy would come with me in a concerted attempt to keep both of us out of trouble. We'd occasionally disappear for a while and walk around, which wasn't considered 'getting in trouble'. We did that a lot, and nobody seemed to mind. It was a bit of a small town mentality, only in a city of 7 million people. Apparently crime like that just didn't happen.

On one occasion, we decided to investigate the large hill that stretched out behind the elementary school across the road, since there was a path there COMMA okay I cant possibly catch all of these I give up and really, why not? The path itself was an informal affair, and possibly long-forgotten, mostly overgrown in places. There were signs that it was set up intentionally, at least to a preteen—a log, mostly stripped of branches, placed across a crevice to make a perfect bridge, some brush cut away here and there. We were explorers! We took many extremely thought-provoking pictures of ourselves posing majestically on the side of a hill, or draped across the aforementioned log.

At first, we were sure we'd find treasure. After a while we became absolutely positive that we'd find treasure, because we had read far too many Nancy Drew books and by golly you don't just have a weather-beaten old path with no treasure! After a longer while we became absolutely convinced that we would, at some point, at least find the top of the hill. It was a very large hill.

And then we did. We reached the crest just as the sun was beginning to set, and it cast a glow across the whole of the world. And there, at the top, right as the path ended completely, was a tiny stone temple, about waist highwaist-high. And if you bent down, which I did, inside of it you could see a tiny stone Buddha. As I bent down, I saw a tiny stone Buddha inside Someone had placed an incense burner in front of him, and the ashy remains of a stick of incensean incense stick were still there. The trail wasn't completely abandoned after all. <-- This is the kind of detail that could be important to a story, but it isn't important to this story, and there is no story, and even then you don't need to state this detail directly since you just made it pretty clear by alluding to it with the incense stick.

“Come on,” said Amy “we have to get back.” She turned away from me with a bit of a sigh. There was no treasure, just a stupid stone Buddha. Okay I'm sorry it's past midnight and I have to work tommorrow, but I think you catch my drift

I stayed bent down and stared at him it, it's a stone statue for a moment, the setting sun casting Buddha in a deep shadow. He smiled serenely at me. It was beautiful. Amy shouted at me again, and we left.

I never went back.

I wonder if you really can't buy gum in Singapore. I wonder if it's still okay for two little girls to wander the streets of Hong Kong alone. I wonder how my life would have been different if I had never gone there. And I wonder if, sitting on top of a lonely hill behind an elementary school, there's still a tiny temple with a tiny Buddha statue, the wafting smoke of incense barely visible against the setting sun.

I'm giving you a lot of poo poo, but I don't think you're hopeless or even bad. You can craft images. You have a consistent tone (wistful). You have characters, though I've read 900+ words about you and your family and friends and I don't know much about their personalities, safe for maybe Amy.

But you make mistakes. A lot of them are typical for novices, like super stuffy prose. Padding is usually a sign of a lack of conficende. You need to watch out for that. Generally it reads like this is your first draft. There's a lot of weird sentences that could do with some rephrasing. Also, I don't know if you could tell from my crit, but there was no story. It was a series of images and info-dumps about your life in Hong Kong. Nothing happened, except that you found a stone Buddha.

Here's what you can do: read the first page of The Fiction Writing Advice thread. It covers a lot of the technical mistakes I think you made. Also look at this post from EroBeef and his often quoted plot mantra. Enter again this week. Your story wasn't good, but I think you have potential. Work on it. Nobody expects you to be awesome right off the bat. Go through at least two drafts, edit at least once after that and proofread once more. Submit.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

Set: Viking Fortress against Fafnir the Dragon
Flash rule: Story hinges on a minor thing that spirals/has spiraled out of control. Think “For Want Of A Nail”.

Olaf the Oaf
746 words

Olaf, they called him Olaf the Oaf, polished an apple and watched his friends prepare for war. Jorgen and Krüppe worked the grindstone. “Why we fighting this thing with axes and rocks,” Jorgen said and Krüppe shrugged. Knut, up at the ramparts, stood next to the catapult and stared into the sky. Björn, at the other catapult, looked grave. Olaf noticed, because Björn was usually very funny. King Thogar stood on top of the front gate and faced the mountains in the distance, both hands on the butt of his axe. A storm was brewing.

Olaf himself, he had no axe. They wouldn’t let him. Olaf always made things worse when he had a weapon. But Olaf helped. He made sure everything was tidy. He shined weapons. Olaf was good at that. The apple he polished, that was for practice. He would give it to the tiny dragon in the cage. The tiny dragon seemed to love Olaf’s polished apples. It ate them, lube and all. Olaf thought that was weird, but Olaf didn’t judge.

Olaf heard a screech in the distance. The men on the ramparts pointed fingers. Jorgen and Krüppe ran up to the battlements. Olaf followed.

A dragon, like the one in the cage, but four times the size of a man, flew towards them. It roared. “Ødeleggerlegos,” King Thogar muttered. Behind Olaf, Björn huffed. A creaking catapult turned towards the flying monster. King Thogar rose his fist. There was a plop and a twang and a rock flew through the air. It missed.

The dragon sweeped down and Olaf’s eyes went wide. King Thogar remained still. As the monster was almost on them, King Thogar took his axe in both hands, jerked it upwards and let out a cry as it slipped from his fingers. The dragon surged past over their heads and the axe travelled in a wide arc across the fortress yard. Its heft landed on Knut’s head. Knut, with a sigh, fell unconscious onto the catapult lever. A plop and a twang and a rock crashed into the gate of the tiny dragon’s cage. The tiny dragon took off through the opening.

King Thogar looked from the tiny dragon to his hands to Olaf. His face turned red. “Olaf, you oaf!” King Thogar yelled. Strong hands, glistening from polish, shook Olaf by his collar. “What have you done? Olaf! You oaf!”

Olaf wailed. He had to fix this! In the yard, Björn was now hanging on to the tiny dragon, which pushed its wings with all might. The bigger dragon had landed next to them. It was surrounded by Jorgen and Krüppe. Jorgen swung his axe. It slid out of his hands. Jorgen shouted Olaf’s name. Jorgen’s face was red too. The weapon landed in the grass right next to--

King Thogar’s axe!

Olaf slipped from King Thogar’s grip and ran towards the axe. Olaf didn’t take the stairs. He landed on something that was soft and hard. There were scales. The dragon roared. It bucked and threw back its head. Olaf held on.

The others shouted at Olaf to get off, but Olaf enjoyed himself. He cheered as he rode the dragon through the fort. Walls crumbled around Olaf. Olaf knew how long it had taken to build all this, but he still thought it looked pretty cool how the catapult towers collapsed.

Then the dragon stopped. It hovered in the air, beneath Olaf. It panted. Olaf patted the dragon on the back. He took the apple he had polished and flicked it in the air. The dragon caught it, swallowed and roared. It breathed fire. Björn screamed below. Björn was a fireball. What a funny trick! Olaf laughed.

“Get down here, Olaf,” King Thogar yelled.

King Thogar was still mad at Olaf. But the dragon, the dragon was nice. And more importantly, it was nice to Olaf. Olaf hovered in the air, on the dragon, and thought, long and hard, through the noise of Björn’s funny act.

“Up, dragon!” he cried and tugged at the beast’s scales. It soared upwards. The tiny dragon followed. Olaf held on. The wind pulled on his hair. The dragon screeched. The tiny dragon screeched. Olaf screeched too.

Beneath him, Jorgen and Krüppe stared at the sky. Björn rolled through the dirt. Knut still slept. None of them said anything, except for King Thogar, who stood on the ramparts and shook his fist. Olaf could faintly hear the words.

“Ooooolaaaaaaf, you oooooaaaaf!”

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
CRIT ME BEEF you sexy luchadore

I picked Paladinus since he keeps coming back for more. I like the cut of his jib.

Paladinus posted:

Historia de un fracaso
(495 words)

My Lego set:
Flash rule: Guevaran revolutionaries.

Rolando and Gabriel enter another village on this especially hot day in Zaire. Rolando sings in a language he still does not speak, but the song manages to attract children, women and the old. A man with a trained monkey is here to entertain them This is a very clumsy attempt at being subtle/smart about your storytelling. I'm not sure if "them" includes Gabriel & Rolando. I don't know yet that Gabriel is a monkey, so I'm confused. It also takes me out of the action since you don't describe what happens, but what is. Seriously, I hate these eleven words so much while they’re waiting for their fathers, husbands and sons to come back from a hunt. If Gabriel’s performance is good, he and his human comrade Now I understand the previous sentence, but that's too late. Be more upfront about the species of your protagonist please can hope for just enough fruits and water to get to the next village. That’s how it was for several years now. I don't hate this first paragraph. I get an idea of where and when we are and what the stakes are, so good job on that. The POV is unfocused: I don't know if this is a story about Gabriel or Rolando or both. You try to be subtle, but you're just being obtuse. It's a story, not a jigsaw puzzle.

WhenONCE THE villagers are all satSEATED and silent, Rolando gives Gabriel his drum and stands a stick with a cymbal on it. The drum is for drumsticks Uhhh... uh? and the cymbal’s for the tail. Gabriel waits for a sign from his human comrade to start playing the only song he knows. Waiting is not very interesting and in this case pointless, since nothing happens during the wait. You just use it as queue for an infodump. Instead, let the monkey start the song and then move to your exposition if you have to (you don't)

It’s a song from home brought to this country along with ideas that Gabriel could not comprehend. Okay, so I guess we're not in the POV of the monkey anymore, or the monkey is thinking about how there are ideas that he doesn't understand or what is going on Maybe even Rolando doesn’t fully understand them now, but there was a time when he was sure those ideas were worth dying for. What the gently caress are you talking about That’s why he and almost a hundred of others traveled through the great sea to get here and took Gabriel to remind them of their homeland. Hey guys, here's some exposition, except I'm only hinting at stuff, I'm not writing for any dumbo you see.

Rolando waves his hand which means it’s time to start the show. Gabriel takes out two drumsticks from THE! THE!!!!! pockets of his red uniform and hits the cymbal with his long tail following it with ,FOLLOWED BY a short drum roll. Now it’s four fast hits on the drum and two slow ones on the cymbal. Okay so I guess it can be officially established that Gabriel is the POV character now since you're reproducing his thought process as he remembers the pattern of the song. Which is okay, but don't milk it, it's not that great.

He’s learned this rhythm long ago, when other human comrades were still around. Oh boy, more exposition! He used to play this beat whenever they set up a camp. Some people would smile, some people would cry, but all would sing in perfect unison.

Aprendimos a quererte
desde la histórica altura
donde el Sol de tu bravura
le puso cerco a la muerte...
Ich spreche diese Sprache nicht, darum kann ich mit dieser Passage nicht viel anfangen.

But now instead of words Gabriel can only hear people’s laughter. He looks at this faceless crowd in search of support from his only human comrade. But Rolando pays no attention as PERIOD HERE - you're rambling a lot, mix up your sentence length he’s too busy begging for food. It feels as if the merciless Sun itself mocks Gabriel with its hot smile.That's not a good way to say 'It is hot'. Show us how Gabriel's body reacts to the heat if you want to set that up.

Suddenly Gabriel’s heart starts pounding faster and faster. NO! Bad Paladinus! Again, show us how the heat affects the monkey's body. Build it up. Then, describe the heart attack. Don't go "It's very hot. Suddenly he starts having a heart attack!!!" In fact, don't use "suddenly" and don't use "starts to". They are poo poo words and should be used with extreme caution. P.S. I hate this sentence more than the thing from before First it beats along the rhythm and few seconds later it beats as fast as metal comrade Kalashnikov used to spit out fire both at enemies and Gabriel’s comrades. This sentence can be cut. Also, "comrade Kalashnikov"? Seriously? The rhythm becomes erratic and people jeer even louder Oh, I didn't know people had started jeering in the first place. Last time I checked they were still laughing, as in they were entertained and start throwing small stones and dirt at Gabriel.Wow, mean The beat gets slower and slower until it stops. So does Gabriel’s heart. The last two sentences are pretty good, but the rest of this paragraph needs to suddenly start dying in a fire.

‘Lo siento, camarada. Saluda a Comandante de mi parte, por favor,’ Gesundheit says Rolando quietly you know that there are words for "saying quietly"? when Gabriel seeminglyIf you say this, you make it sound like Gabriel is faking it, which he isn't. I know, because I read the end and I was disappointed when the monkey stayed dead. Wait a second, is the monkey still the POV character? is no longer breathing.

With people still laughing HAHA A DEAD MONKEY he takes the basket with food, puts the drum and the cymbal on top of it and leaves the village as he once left his comrades in a battle near Kabinda. Where the gently caress did that come from, also is Roland the POV character now?

Paladinus, I think you can be a competent writer. You know the difference between "it's" and "its", so that's something. You have a few nice ideas here, your beginning isn't horrible and something actually happens in your story. Not only that, it's also an interesting event at it's core (who wouldn't shed a tear for a poor dying monkey).

But you're clumsy. You have serious POV issues. We see Rolando and Gabriel enter the village, then we see how Gabriel percieves his playing a song for food, then we reminisce about how Gabriel and Rolando were part of a guerilla squad, then the monkey dies and Rolando thinks about other stuff again.

Half the time I can't tell what you're on about. It's like you already know what happens in your story, so you try to be clever and build a puzzle around it, but for people who don't have your information it's a chore to figure out what you're saying. There's so much telling and then you don't even use it to just tell us anything.

There's missing words, awkward and clumsy phrases, comma issues. I didn't really see much in the way of typos, so I don't know if you've been lazy or if you just don't know any better. Advice: revise your stories. Read books. Read books about writing. Edit, edit, edit. Read your text aloud. Rephrase sentences that don't flow well. I tried to show you some examples.

I don't like how you incorporated your flashrule. You use it to justify padding your thin story with pointless background info and then you use the background info to go "By the way he totally was a guerilla once, he's not just any guy with a monkey. Also MISSION ACCOMPLISHED".

Positive is that you did tell kind of a story-ish thing. There's characters and stuff happens and you can even tell the time and place and motivation of the protagonists. So here's my suggestion for you: Next week, write a simple story. Don't try to be fancy about it. Describe what happens. Show the story to someone in advance, so they can tell you if they understand what's going on. Don't dance around your plot. And READ MORE.

Nov 15, 2012

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Nov 15, 2012

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The Leper Colon V posted:

"...gently caress." Colon V cursed, "I've gotta drop again. Call me a basic baby bitch."


written on my Samsung Galaxy S2 on my one-hour commute to another day in my 70-hour workweek, now please excuse me I have to polish my second draft. Entenzahn OUT

P.S. there's punctuation errors in your dialogue

Nov 15, 2012

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Just Desert
1196 words

After days in the harsh desert, I was exhausted, thirsty and hungry. My sleeveless white undershirt and blue baggy pants were sticky with sweat and crusted with sand and grime. I used to wear a helmet, but it had gotten so hot in the sun I’d had to leave it behind. I had no idea where I was, or where I was going, and all I could do was crawl. Every now and then the ground rumbled, shivered in tiny earthquakes, threatening to rip open and swallow me.

Worst of all, the animals talked to me now.

It began with the amber fox. It appeared out of nowhere, howling at the moon with glowing eyes. I lay flat on the floor, head sideways. It gave me a casual nod. "Sup," it greeted me. Its small, pointy ears twitched. "Heard you got stranded in the desert."

“Help,” I croaked.

“Benny, please,” the fox wondered, regarding me with a tilted head, “please, how am I supposed to help you? This is the desert. Sorry esé. I can’t stop what’s about to happen to you. But for what it’s worth, I forgive you.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” I mumbled in protest, wriggling on the ground.

“Yeah sure, and I’m a talking fox,” it quipped, distorting its snout to an ironic smile, and the next time I blinked, it was gone.

There was nothing I could do but claw my way forward. My arms ached with each pull, but I made progress, dragging myself across hard, red rock until my shirt hung off me in tatters and the ground blistered my skin.

Behind me, the sun was rising. Warm light cast shadows across the barren soil, pointing towards the velvet twilight of the receding night. As the air got hotter, I noticed the stench of petrol.

“Hey kid,” a husky voice rasped. It came from a vulture that had landed next to me. Its wings shimmered golden in the glow of the rising sun.

I wanted to speak, but the words got caught in my throat. I coughed dust.

“Man, you look beaten. Let me cheer you up with a story,” the vulture suggested. “There once were two miners in Russelt, Virginia. Best friends, football-in-the-park kinda stuff, spoke at each other’s weddings, you know, the whole nine yards.”

“After a freak mineshaft implosion,” it continued, gesturing with its wings, “they found an uncharted gold deposit. But instead of reporting the find, like good upstanding citizens, they decided to pocket it. One of them, he had a good reason: his daughter was dying, you see. He needed the money.” The vulture waited, tasting the seconds before the punchline: “The other one was just a greedy gently caress.”

“No,” I protested weakly.

“Guess what the greedy little poo poo did then,” it spat. “He strung his friend along, had him come up with a plan and carry all the bags, do the hard work, and when their truck was stuffed with enough dosh for more than a bunch of lifetimes, the greedy gently caress took a gun out of his pocket and capped his friend in the back of the head. Bam! Just like that. Didn’t bury him. Didn’t leave a nugget for his poor family. Up and away, no fucks given.”

“That’s not how it happened,” I whispered.

The vulture tsk-tsk-tsked. “You’re just feeding yourself bullshit because it's easier,” it berated me, as it made a sweeping motion with its wing. "I mean what is this crap?"

I remained silent.

“Look, sorry,” the vulture placated, raising its wings, ”I know you’re busy dying here. I shouldn’t pressure you. Breakfast can wait.”

“Hold on,” I begged, and held out a hand. “Are you.. is it you, James?”

The vulture looked at me for a long time.

“She has cancer Benny. She has cancer and you murdered her father. Congratulations, you greedy gently caress!” it screeched.

And with that, the vulture too was gone.

Its words echoed through my head, cutting me harder than the pebbles I dragged myself over. I reached a cliff. The sight was breathtaking, and crushing: endless layers of red desert rock stacked over one another, forming mountains in the distance, empty basins and jagged hills stretching out before me for miles and miles with no end in sight. I could go forever in that direction.

I chuckled, then laughed, hoarsely. I rolled on my back and stared in the sky. The air sweltered in the distance. The stench of petrol had grown stronger. It made my head spin.

The ground shook. Fissures appeared in the rock, cracking earth and shifting soil until the giant head of a snake burst out of a crater. Its scales glittered golden in the sun as it rose, unearthing its enormous body around me and ripping the ground to shreds. I was surrounded by cliffs.

The snake, its behemoth body wrapped around the makeshift mountain I rested on, bowed its head to look at me.

"Getting ussssed to the heat?” it hissed, tongue slurping out and back in. “There will be much more of that where you are going.”

"What is happening to me?" I cried, as I shielded my eyes to better look at the glistening snake.

“Well, ssssee, the vulture didn’t tell you the ending of the story,” it teased with a smirk. “The greedy gently caress didn’t get as far with the gold as he had hoped. He tried to take the sssstraight way, through the mountain. He was impatient. It was a dangerousssss track, and he was going too fast. His truck slipped off a cliff.”

I blinked.

The leaking wreckage burned a few feet away. A trail of blood led to my broken legs and the edge of the overhang I had landed on, overseeing mountains, basins and hills. Molten gold seeped from the burning truck, running down the platform to my sides. Black smoke shimmered golden in the air. James’s old amber mining helmet leaned against a rock and shone its front light into the night sky.

I heard another boom and the ground vibrated. Mineshaft implosion. Rubble rolled down the hang as the earth shifted beneath me.

I blinked.

“Who are you?” I begged of the snake with a hoarse voice.

“Who am I indeed,” it pondered. “Maybe I’m poor James, taunting his murderer from the afterlife. Or maybe I’m Benny, Benny the treacherous little snake. You choosssse.”

Cracks appeared on the overhang I’d been stranded on, tipping it downward. The burning truck with all its melting gold slid towards me.

“So tell me, Benny,” the snake hissed. “Who am I?” The ground shook as the snake rose back up again, ripping the hard earth to shreds along its golden scales. I yelled as the impact of the approaching destruction pushed me over the edge. The world turned upside down. I slammed into the steep hang and rolled down, across spiky pebbles and dirt and dead grass, until I finally stopped on level ground.

There was no air in my lungs. My wails fell silent. My head was bursting. I forced myself to open my eyes.

As my vision cleared, a steaming snake of gold came crashing down on me.

Nov 15, 2012

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Nov 15, 2012

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Why Rules Are Important
308 words

Tess bent forward and poked a finger at the Ouija board. She giggled.

“Don’t toy around with it,” Jenna hissed over her shoulder. “This is serious stuff. We are summoning natural forces here.” She lit the final candle, on the washing machine, next to their ancient family bagpipes, rumored to have belonged to the great Isaac McScratchy, and thus completed the pentagram of lights that spanned across her mom’s basement.

“Okay, so how does this work?” Tess asked.

Jenna kneeled in front of the Ouija board, in the center of the room. “Take my hands,” she said. “Good, now we summon the spirit. Do as I do, say as I say. This is important. Don’t go off doing your own thing.”

She closed her eyes, breathed deep and chanted phrases that she had found on the internet. She felt a change in the mood of the room.

“Hello, dear spectre,” she finally said, opening her eyes. “Can you hear me?”

The stone on the board moved.


“Are you a good ghost or a bad ghost?”

“F-U-N-N-Y G-H-O-S-T"

“Does Jerry like me?” Tess blurted out. Jenna shushed her, but it was already too late. The protocol had been violated.

The ghost didn’t respond.

“Well good going, you cow” Jenna scolded. Tess blushed.

But as they turned away, the stone on the board moved again.

“Y-O-U D-I-“

Jenna gasped. Tess grabbed her by the wrist. “Look!”

“Y-O-U D-I-N-N-A-E-H S-A-Y G-O-O-D-B-Y-E”

They let out a breath of air.

“N-O-W Y-E D-I-E”

The lights flickered. The bagpipes on the washing machine played a tune.

It was a funeral song.

A spark of amber jumped from the flame to the bagpipes. The distorted, hellish face of an old Scot reflected in the rapidly emerging flames. Jenn screamed as the fire started to hug her. A nasty voice cackled.

“Oh, and since ye asked, Jerry hates yer guts.”

Nov 15, 2012

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I can't miss a week.

I just can't.


Nov 15, 2012

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White Vision
477 words

The ground sways harshly. Outside of her cage, men in puffy jackets make noises at each other and move their arms as they argue. One of them points at her. A leather hand opens her cage and takes her out. She is stroked, whispered to, shown a small roll of paper. The man slides it into the container on her leg. He gives her a kiss on the forehead and opens the door.

The see outside is rough. Even down on the surface she can feel the winds. Heavy clouds race across the sky. A bad time to be up there, but it is not her choice. The leather hands throw her in the air and she does what she knows. She does her duty.

She flies.

She pushes her wings to gain height, ascending away from the floating metal bird. The invisible force pushes her back, but she has been trained, and she is strong. She climbs, approaching the black clouds until she can almost touch them. Up there she flows through the current. The stream changes constantly.

For a second, the wind disappears. She falls. Circling through the air, she manages to adjust her wings and to glide, still down, but slower now. Below her, water crashes against water. Drops land on her feathers. She can’t land here. She will drown. She must find—


She soars back up and flies. To glide against the wind, to keep away from the see is tiring and it takes hours for the coast to appear, but she knows where to go. Soon she flies over the beach, over treetops, hills and green fields. It rains. Thunder roars in the distance. A strong gust of wind picks her up and throws her like a bug. It takes her many precious seconds to regain her composure.

Up is up again, but in the distance, she spots the next threat. Falcon. It changes its course.

It sees her.

She dives between the trees. The falcon, fast as lightning, closes in on her. She flies between and around trunks, trying to shake him off. A quick look behind. It’s still there, almost on her now. She drops harshly, surges straight towards a giant tree, dragging back up just before she smashes into it. The wooden texture scratches her belly. Behind her, there is a cracking sound.

Free again, she resumes her course. Finally, a familiar sight. A big, wooden box. Wires. Others, like her.


She glides through the small opening in the box and hops onto her stand. A bell rings. Moments later, a man runs in, and removes the paper from her leg. He reads it. He looks at her with big eyes. Then he is gone.

She flutters over to the food container and eats. She has done her duty, and the grain has never tasted so good.

Nov 15, 2012

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(^^^also thanks for the crits!^^^)

Nov 15, 2012

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The Maintainer
957 words

Joseph had sworn he’d never touch a wrench again. Not since the battle at Oclouse, with its death toll of 50.000, with its dozens of burning airships, with its stench of sulfur and helium and nitrogen, has he ever wanted to set foot on another one of the flying death machines.

But when the suited men came, insisting that he return for one last mission, one mission to decide the fate of his nation, he had little room for argument.

“The Nazis are at our border now,” the fat man said.

“We have developed a special airship, one that can sneak behind the enemy lines and take out Hitler,” the thin man continued. “But it is fragile. We need someone to maintain it. We need the best. How are your skills holding up?”

Joseph disassembled the metal chair from under the thin man’s rear end as he blinked. The man fell into the rubble and stared up at him with wide eyes.

“Good enough,” the fat man admitted.

“Gentlemen,” Joseph said, “I will agree to one last mission. drat you for it, but I agree. I do this for my country. But that will be it. I help kill Hitler, and then you never bother me again. Is that clear? Now get out of my house.”

“But we haven’t even given you directions to--”

“Out!” he screamed.

That night, he looked at her picture again. Beth. She’d been killed in the war, one more number in the collateral casualties statistic.

“I have to do this, Beth.” His fingers brushed over the framed picture. The tiny Yorkshire Terrier looked back dumbly. She’d have understood. “I’m sorry.”

When the airship disembarked one week later, his toolbox and the picture were all he had taken with him. It was a tiny vessel, and he would fly with a skeleton crew of about ten people, including the famous Great War veteran Captain John Killkraut, as well as a certain Fritz Bauer, the ship’s suspiciously German and unnecessary art critic.

“Gentlemen,” Cpt. Killkraut bellowed to the crew in the belly of the airship, “we have assembled here today to write history.” He made a sweeping gesture towards the tiny metal balls behind him. “The plan is simple. We sneak into occupied France and drop one of these bombs on Hitler’s head. The Krauts will never see us coming!”

Joseph raised a hand. “Sir, how do we get there undetected?”

“This vessel is constructed to be incredibly light, and swift. We will fly above the clouds. The Krauts will never see us coming!”

“If we fly above the clouds, how do we aim for Hitler?”

“The Krauts will never see us coming,” the captain explained.

“Wait, that--”

“Up!” Killkraut commanded, and the crew scrambled to their positions. Joseph worked the coal engine, making sure fuel was burning up at all times. Occasionally Fritz would visit him to rave about “Hitler’s sexy moustache and general overall sexiness”, but other than that it was a quiet flight.

Once they had crossed the German border, Capt. Killkraut ordered the crew on deck.

“Men! Today is a great day bla bla blabbedy bla!”

The crewmen looked at each other uneasily.

“Bla bla yadda-- Wait, where is Fritz?”

A loud voice roared from the engine room’s two-way-speaker right next to Joseph. He started. It was Fritz.

“Hähähä. I am right here. With the bombs!”

There was a sound of coal being shoveled.

“Fritz, what are you doing in there? You maniac!” Joseph yelled.

“I will start a nice fire in here, and when it reaches the bombs, your ship will go explode. Of course I will be gone then. For I am actually Adolf Hitler! Hähähähä.”

The crew gasped. Some started towards the staircase that led to the engine room.

“Don’t stop him,” shouted Killkraut. “That’s what he expects!”

Just then, another crewman pointed down, below the ship. Joseph bolted to the rail. A German wearing a military uniform and a tiny moustache dropped out of the airship and opened a parachute.

“Turn the ship around,” yelled Killkraut.

The ship moaned as it swerved.

“We are following that bastard! Joseph, son, now is you turn. You have to hold the ship together!”

Joseph gave a stern nod. The nose of the ship dipped down. He took the wrench between his teeth, wrapped a rope around his waist, tied the other end to the rail, and swung himself over. He travelled through the air in a wide arc. For a second, it was as if gravity had disappeared. Then he went down, and slammed into the metal hull of the airship.

The heat from within expanded the metal shell to unnatural limits. Screws were undone. Joseph wouldn’t let that happen.

He took the wrench and began to screw.

The pressure was so intense that two bolts would pop for each he tightened. So he screwed twice as hard, and three times as fast. He was pouring sweat. His breath went in and out with the rythm of a Spitfire rotorblade at full throttle. His hands moved so fast they became invisible. He was a blur, an inhuman apparition keeping the entire shell of the airship in a constant state of being in the process of having its screws tightened.

The ship raced downwards at breakneck speed. Below, Hitler had just landed, and threw a quick glance over his shoulder. “Oh Scheiße!” he yelled, and began to run. Joseph grasped his wrench.

“This is for you, Beth.”

He tossed it at Hitler, who was hit with a dull, cracking noise and fell. Then the ship hit the ground, and Hitler, and something roared right next to Joseph. And in his final moment, he smiled, for now it would be over.

Nov 15, 2012

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In + Flash rule pls

Nov 15, 2012

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The good name of my house has been sullied. With tears in my eyes I stand over the broken Entenzahn crest and look into the distance. The sun disappears behind the horizon, closing another chapter in our inglorious family chronicle. But I will return. I must. My ancestors shall be proud of me.

I take a deep breath and speak the words. My voice barely trembles.

:toxx: All in :toxx:
Requesting a punitive flash rule

Nov 15, 2012

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523 words

When Grandma Trudy and Grandpa Ernie arrived all the way up from Philadelphia to shower him with kisses, when aunts and uncles hugged him and wished him a happy birthday, when presents piled up in the corner of the living room and all the big people talked and laughed and sang, Trevor could only think of one thing.


“Eat me, Trevor!” the cake called to him from the kitchen. “Eat me before it is too late!” But Trevor had to wait for his moment. It was when red-nosed Uncle Ernie did the funny dance again that Trevor slipped away, into the kitchen, where he found the cake on the counter, too high for him to reach.

He pulled the wooden stool out of the kitchen corner and put it in front of the counter, where the cake was, but even then, Trevor wasn’t quite high enough. Only know he was able to reach the knobs to his left. He didn’t know what they did, but they were cake-shaped and there were small circles painted above them, probably cake. So Trevor turned the cake knobs. The cake remained where it was.

“Hurry, Trevor!” the cake whined. Trevor knew why. Soon the cake would be taken into the dining room, where the big ones would devour it. But this was his birthday, and it was only once a year, and it should be his birthday cake alone. It was time to take desperate measures.

Trevor pushed the stool over to the window and reached for the drapes. He would climb up and then hop on to the counter, where he would have the cake all for himself. Trevor jumped and reached for the drapes. For a split second he could already taste the cake. It would be delicious, like chocolate and vanilla ice and marshmallows. His fist closed around fabric and the drapes immediately collapsed under his weight, some of them falling to the counter above the cake knobs. They mysteriously caught on fire.

This presented Trevor with a problem. He could inform the old people and have them fix the fire and be forced to share his cake after all, or he could try to solve this problem himself and then get back to having his cake. And eating it.

“You can do it,” said the cake, and Trevor indeed found a bottle of water, which could have totally fixed everything, if red-nosed Uncle Ernie hadn’t just then come into the kitchen, seen the fire, and emptied his glass into it. Whatever had been in there, the flames just got worse.

“Welp,” said the cake. ”Looks like you’re screwed. Sorry kid.” And that was the last Trevor ever heard of the cake. It was also the last he ever saw of it, for soon he would hear his mother scream, and strong hands would drag Trevor out in front of the house, where he would sit in the grass and wait for the firemen to save his house, and the cake, the last of which they never did.

They probably ate it themselves, he thought, and vowed to never trust a fireman again.

Nov 15, 2012

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:yotj: I have restored honor to my name. Now I can be mediocre again. In.

Nov 15, 2012

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Or Not to Be
483 words

Tap, tap, tap… the blood drops from the tip of my knife onto the linoleum of our kitchen floor. My husband is hunched against the wall, holding his arm. He ignores the weapon that is pointed at him. He takes deep breaths and looks at me with a calm expression. Those green eyes. I used to love them.

“Are you going to kill me now?” he asks in a tone as if he was inquiring if we were out of sugar.

“I don’t… I don’t want to. How do I know you’re not infected?”

“What makes you think I was?”

“You were acting off all day. Just now you were like, just, I don’t know. You were going to jump me. I think. You know how this works. It’s subtle.”

There is silence.

“How do I know you’re still… you?” I ask. He shrugs and that’s the problem. Even if he wasn’t, he might not notice before he decided to fly off the handle and strangle me.

“Sarah,” he says, and he’s obviously trying to stay calm, “how could I have gotten infected? We’ve been holed up in here for weeks. We haven’t been outside, or seen anybody, or eaten anything but canned food. How? How did I get infected?”

I admit I don’t know. But I’m sure he was about to kill me. I sensed the danger. Even now I look him in the eyes and I catch a brief glimpse of something strange.

If he hasn’t changed, he’s about to. It’s the way he talks, and acts. This is not my Zach. My Zach is dead. The person before me is someone else.

I need to put them out of their misery.

I get closer. My knife digs into the skin of his throat.

“Sarah, please, think about this.”

“You will kill me.”

“You’re the one with the knife here.”

“I have to defend myself.” I am sorry, but you must die.

You must die

You must…

What if he’s right? What if I am the infected?

For a few seconds, none of us moves. I take a deep breath and step back. He doesn't show any reaction. I let go of the knife and it lands on the floor with a clatter.

“I… I'm…”

“It’s okay,” he says, and picks up the knife. “It’s okay.” We embrace.

I feel a sharp pain in my chest.

He pulls the knife back out as I sink to my knees, my hand sliding along his arm. Time slows to a crawl. I cough blood.

“Sorry, dear.” His voice is still calm. “I don’t know if you’re infected, or if I am. But let’s face it, one of us is going to kill the other. Might as well get it over with.” He gives me a warm smile. Completely crazy.

He holds my hand. I look into those green eyes and everything turns dark.


Nov 15, 2012

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