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Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In

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Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Wordcount: 1234

Dragon vs Taniwha

“A dragon,” said Chris “could easily beat a taniwha.”

“Nup,” said Tipene, shaking his long, curly hair in the universal signal for nup.

“‘Course it could,” said Chris. “Dragons breath fire.” He exhaled a pungent cloud of the dope smoke that surrounded their friendship. “Taniwhas are kinda like floating logs. Dragons would burn them up.” He wiggled his fingers. “Whoosh!”

“Taniwha are not wood!” protested Tipene. “They’re like dinosaurs and sharks mixed up and they can knock down mountains to get to the sea. They kick rear end. Who cares if dragons breathe fire? That’s not even a thing, unless you, like, really, really want some toast. Then a Dragon would be cool, I guess.”

Chris contemplated having a dragon as a toaster. “That would be pretty cool,” he agreed.


Tipene read the name of the detainee, and came to a stop outside the interrogation room. “Jesus,” he whispered. He opened the door.

Chris sat slumped in a chair, long hair falling down a prematurely ageing face. He didn’t raise his head when Tipene entered.

“Chris?” asked Tipene.

Chris looked up, brushing hair away from his eyes. “Tip?”

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“Where?” asked Chris, looking around.

“Don’t be a dick - this is actually my job.”

“Right. The suit should have been a give-away.” Chris scratched at his arm, paused a moment, then launched into an obviously prepared spiel. “It wasn’t my fault, you know. This friend of mine got in some trouble. He warned me he might have some incriminating emails or something and the Filth had confiscated everything down to his bog paper looking for evidence of conspiracy. Nothing to do with me, but I kept my nose clean for ages, and when the long arm didn’t knock at the door for weeks, I got a little careless.”

“What did they find?”

“Effing white dragon, man. Just a little, just enough to get me for supply. “

“How much?”

“I dunno,” shrugged Chris. ”A bag of the stuff. I’m not an effing dealer, but apparently there’s some limit that I tipped the scale on.” Chris tucked his hair behind his ear, scratched at and then held his arm with one hand. “I swear to God I am not an effing dealer.”

“I’m going to have to ask the obvious question here, mate. If you’re not a dealer, then Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, man?”

“Just curious, I guess. I’ve tried a lot of things, looking for experiences. Sometimes I write about them, sometimes I paint. It’s the muse you see, you reach out to her and she’s always just waiting at the other end of a sniff, or a drink, or a puff, or a wank. God - that’s probably not the kind of thing I should be talking about in the effing cop shop.” Chris laughed, a jagged, nervous sound

Tip stared hard at Chris. “You’re on that poo poo right now, aren’t you?”

Chris’s dilated pupils belied his fleeting, eyes-wide portrayal of innocence. He turned to his shoes. “Yeah,” he said. “Coming down, though.”

“Well, I can’t talk to you like this - just don’t say anything to the cops. Here’s my card - call me tomorrow when you’ve come down and had a sleep. I’ll go over the reports, see if they did anything stupid. We can make a plan of attack based on whether they pursue supply or just go for possession. Try and not get high for a couple of days. And don’t worry - it turns out this legal stuff is an effing doddle.”

Chris cocked a thumb and finger-fired with a wink. “You’re the chief, Tip. I’m countin’ on ya.”

“The problem with taniwha,” said Chris, “is that they mate with humans. You won’t find a self respecting Dragon getting down and dirty with lowly human hair and skin. They like ‘em scaley and they like ‘em flamey. They stick to their own - it’s the natural order of things.” He held out the remains of the joint.

“The problem with dragons, said Tipene, taking the roach from him, “is that they don’t understand the importance of family. If you got a Taniwha in your genes, like my family does, because one got into your grandma’s granny-pants.“ He stopped for a moment to giggle helplessly. “ ...and Ewww ... but anyhow ... your typical dragon. A force of destruction. Kills sheep until it runs out then goes after humans until someone stabs it in the face with a magic sword. Now your Taniwha - she knows the lay of the land, and whether you’re just a snack or the potential father of her children. There’s no comparison: a stomach on legs annoying farmers or a mountain-smashing ancient being in your family tree.”

“You talk a lot of poo poo, my island brother,” said Chris.“Law school should be an effing doddle.”


The expert witness on Nasally Ingested Restricted Substances had finished being cross-examined and the jury seemed convinced. Tipene breathed deeply, caught the stench of fear. He saw Chris twitch in his seat - scratching his arm and rubbing his pale face until he appeared flushed and guilty, mistaking the prosecution’s mountains of words for insurmountable obstacles.

Tipene nodded to the judge, imagining her as an impotent lizard, a sheep-stealing nothing trapped on her large chair, hissing and spitting steam, while flapping ineffectual wings at him. Now it’s my turn, he thought. Another deep breath, and he could smell the sea beyond the mountains.

Tipene unfurled to his full height, ancestral winds at his back. He knew the fault-lines in the legal landscape, and he knew which way freedom lay. He had to admit he enjoyed this; the responsibility, putting his skill in service to another, holding Chris’s future and his own reputation in his hand. The corporate sociopaths and the gutter-dwelling nobodies might make him question things sometimes, but he had signed a pact with the law and he would honour it. He gathered his energy, finding, in his mind’s eye, the places where the opposing landscape was weakest. For a moment he stood there, silent, coiled on the precipice. The eyes of the court were upon him.

He unleashed. He boomed. He sang. He sent the carefully constructed barriers of the prosecution flying. He tore their mountains of words from their roots and smashed them against each other. He beat the rugged walls they had surrounded him with until they shattered and let the ocean roll in. Tipene rode the victorious tide until he was safely out to sea. Chris was smiling, and the Crown Prosecutor made skink-faces, tailless and panicked.

But the judge hissed and spat again, little gobs of fiery poison. She directed the jury to consider not just the arguments, but the balance of probabilities, to reflect upon all possible worlds with their own life-engendered wisdom, and the twelve good men and women and true headed out to do just that.

They didn’t take long. The poison had done its work. The jury returned, sombre, bearing the burden of another’s guilt. Tipene felt a steam roller pass over sacred groves of his soul. Chris was stood up by the guards, ready to vanish back into the cells for an as-yet-to-be-determined period.

Their eyes met then, just for a moment, and Tipene saw nothing except emptiness and defeat. But it was the reek of betrayal that stayed with him long after Chris had been led away.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In for The Death of Death and Other Stories aND otHER sTORIES

Roguelike posted:

Fumblemouse
If This Story Was An X-Man It Would Be:
Mastermind.
This is so true. That story was totally an evil, yet debonair, moustachioed Illusionist. Or was it?

Roguelike posted:

sebmojo
If This Story Was An X-Man It Would Be:
Emma Frost.

I don't know about the story, but SebMojo does cover the worst of his cybernetic implant scars with a white bikini.

Good crits all round - your efforts are appreciated, roguelike. Hope you're not *too* broken inside.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Wordcount: 749

The fruit of the tree

When Eve refused the fruit of the serpent, The Lord was pleased and knew her to be good. He walked with her amongst the orchards and showed her the tree of Eternal Life. But when he said that she might eat of it’s fruit as a reward, Eve wept, and would not stop until The Lord promised she might share it with her husband.

She brought the fruit of the tree of Eternal Life to Adam, and told him of the Serpent and The Lord. Adam clasped her to him, said “Thank you, flesh of my flesh,” and together they ate. Adam promised that now they would never be apart. He kissed her and they lay together. When it was done, Eve knew that he was lying, though he knew it not.

That night, The Lord appeared to her in a dream and told her that the gates of Eden were open, that all the world was there for them to make their own garden. The lands of the world were theirs and their children’s, but the gates of Eden would remain open and unguarded. If ever there was need, then Eve might return through the gates and walk with Him amongst the orchards.

Yet when the Children of Eve had multiplied upon the Earth and made it all a garden such as Eden, a melancholy grew within their hearts. They walked among the bowers of home, singing in the twilight, yet saw the unknowable stars appear and were mournful. They played among the Lions and Bears, feeling fellowship with the creatures of the world, yet saw no new names in the Books of Beasts and were bereft. They ate each day from the bounteous fruits the trees gave freely and yet were not satisfied.

They came to Eve then, in their multitudes. “Mother Eve,” they said, alone, in groups, in crowds, “we are afraid. We have climbed the peaks, and forded the rivers and crossed the oceans. We have planted and tended and grown, we have gone forth and multiplied, we have not good nor evil. But there is a shadow across us and we know not why. Help us, Mother Eve. Help us understand how we might walk in the sun once again.”

But Eve had felt their sorrow grow within herself, and had no answer. And so she returned to Eden, to walk with The Lord in his orchards, and tell Him of the sadness in her heart.

The Lord heard her plea, and asked her why she had travelled here alone. Eve spoke of how Adam lived not with her, but for centuries had travelled within the world, looking for the new and the unknown and The Lord loved her in her loneliness. He bade her sleep a while, and called forth the Serpent in the garden. When Eve awoke, she was already great with child.

She returned from Eden ripe to became a mother once again. Adam heard word of the miracle, and returned to clasp her to him. “Flesh of my flesh, you have found what I have sought, the miracle of the new.” But Eve understood not even this child would be enough to keep him beside her.

She bore a girl-child, and the other children of Eve rejoiced at the news, and called her Emmanuelle, Lord With Us. But the years passed and the girl grew strange and unfathomable. She kept away from the world, spending time in a workshop she had built. Few would she permit to visit, but every year a pile of manuscripts and diagrams appeared outside her door. These were pored over with wonder, and every instruction followed, and every elemental table learned and revered.

Eventually the work grew too much for one woman and Emmanuelle took on thirteen apprentices. A decade passed like a whisper, and their works filled a library, and she gathered them together and announced “It is finished.”

And the life left her.

In the years to come the apprentices and their own disciples spread throughout the world and built the holy machines that carried Eve’s children to the stars, with Adam first amongst them. Emmanuelle’s name was revered for all that she had taught them. But as they looked upon the newness that they had wrought, their hearts found meaning in her final day. For the Lord God so loved the world, that he took his only begotten Daughter, that whosoever believeth in her should not have everlasting life, but perish.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In with a puzzle so puzzling and a mystery so mysterious you will wonder what the hell I'm talking about.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Combined Mystery entry and Bad Seafood homework
wordcount:965

Formerly of The Yard


Inspector Daggins, formerly of The Yard, nodded at the constable beside him and flung open the doors to the drawing room where the suspects were gathered. He strode purposefully inside, hangover pounding in his head like the guns of Passchendaele. Every eye turned to him as he announced, “Madame Guillinot is dead, and you, Miss Wilder, are the murderer!”

The room collectively gasped. Lady Boilingstoke clutched at her South Sea Pearls, Miss Tavisham collapsed dramatically onto a nearby chaise longue and Cribbens the butler almost rattled the tray from which the tea was being served.

Miss Wilder, however, remained calm, drawing her cigarette holder to her vivid, red lips. “Inspector Daggins, you preposterous little man,” she drawled in a heavy american accent. “Have you been at the Wild Grouse again? I would have thought your recent suspension from The Yard would have been a shot across the bow of HMS Plastered.”

Daggins ignored the jibe and stepped toward Miss Wilder, eyes never dropping from hers. “You thought you could cover your tracks with your attempts on Father Torrington’s honour, making sure Miss Tavisham saw you kiss him on the balcony, but that pillar of the community did not rise to your lascivious ploys.”

Miss Wilder waved her hand between Daggin’s mouth and her own delicate nose. “This is nonsense, flavoured with halitosis.” she said, arching a perfectly plucked eyebrow. “For one thing, Father Torrington is merely a man, and could never resist my feminine wiles. Isn’t that right, Father T?”

Father Torrington looked as if he would rather walk the stations of the cross before answering the question, but he did, ultimately, emit a sheepish response to the affirmative.

“And yet,” said Daggins, swallowing back a wave of nausea, “we know he’s lying, because Mrs Bulgar in the laundry remarked this morning on how preternaturally clean his underwear was. So what could cause a priest to lie? Only one thing - the threat of a greater transgression being uncovered. Isn’t that right, Miss Wilder? Or should I say - Mister Wilder?”

If the room collectively gasped before, this time it inhaled so hard it stole the very breath from the nearby village. Miss Tavisham even fainted but thankfully was already well arranged.

Daggins pressed on, sweating a tad now that the moment of truth had arrived. “Confronted and confused by both his and your arousal of manly parts, Father Torrington locked himself away in his room between nine and eleven. Then, while the rest of the party thought the two of you to be scurrilously alone, you appropriated the leaf of the Evalva plant from the Nativity diorama, mixed it with the Tinghams Earl Grey, knowing full well that the chemical compounds that make it England’s favourite tea would combine unfavourably. A relaxant in small doses, but an entire cup of tea would create a poison so insidious that it would seem as if Madame Guillinot had passed away in her sleep. A fact unknown to most, but not to an accomplished Chemical Engineer from MIT, such as Mister Everett Wilder, founder of Wilder Chemical, itself an ex-member of the Guillinot armaments empire after the recent human testing exposé in The Times of New York. Constable, if you would be so kind as to divest Mister Wilder of his handbag, I believe you’ll find the remains of the Evalva plant.”

The constable attempted to retrieve the handbag, but found Mister Wilder hanging on to it for grim life. A quick tussle ensued with the constable eventually wrenching it away. “She’s a strong one,” he said as he opened it, and turned it upside down upon the coffee table. There, amongst the illusory cosmetics of womanhood, lay a crumpled collection of fern-like plants. Satisfied, the constable produced a set of handcuffs and snapped them about Mister Wilder’s wrists.

“Well done, Inspector,” said Lady Boilingstoke. “To think that it happened under the Boilingstoke roof. I have to admit, we were none too impressed when we heard you’d been assigned to our Parish, after the Lewisham shenanigans, but you have redeemed yourself in the eyes of this house at least.”

“Thank you, ma’am. That means a great deal. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a mountain of paperwork yet to be done.” And a mountain of aspirin to swallow, he thought.

Daggins and the constable left the drawing room with Mister Wilder in tow. On a whim, Daggins paused for a moment, allowing policeman and perpetrator to continue past him and through the front door. He made his way up the stairs to the bedroom where Madame Guillinot lay, the continued discussion that could be heard in the drawing room growing softer as he ascended.

Daggins peered around the bedroom door and saw Madame Guillinot, her face pale as a tombstone, the half-drunk tea cup beside the cosied teapot on her nightstand. He watched her for a moment, rubbing his pained temples, considering the case. It would look good on his record, he decided, this murder solved for one of the most prestigious families in the district. It could even be his ticket back to The Yard. A word in the right ears from Mrs Boilingstoke could do wonders.

“Inspector Daggins,” mumbled Madame Guillinot. “What on earth? Oh, I feel so very tired.”

Daggins raced to her side. “Madame Guillinot? My word, are you all right? There’s been a terrible fuss. A murd...I mean, I suppose, an attempted murder.” drat it, he thought. Solving an attempted murder is hardly the kind of thing upon which to rebuild a shattered reputation. Completely different class of case.

“Sacré bleu! I feel as if the Hun had decided to invade me,” said Madame Guillinot. “Is there any tea?”

The pounding in Daggins head increased. His hand reached for the teapot.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

After a couple of weeks of profound meditation on
a) the futility of pretension and
b) the overly egotistical response to the banality of convention
I have emerged from my navel reborn, with a spring in my step and a "gently caress you, I will write unclear, pretentious twaddle if I feel like it and I'll still reclaim the crown!*" on my lips. Tattooed there, in fact, in very small letters.

So incredibly confident am I that I will take whatever element and flash-rule you throw at me. Bring it.


*These events are not necessarily causally connected at all.**

**This disclaimer is actually tattooed on my lip, giving me a discerning, moustachioed appearance.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

wordcount: 1136
Element: Seaborgium
Flash Rules: Moustache, One of your characters should be concerned about what is real.

Quiz Night

“It’s simple,” said Joan. “It’s a fake. Definitely a fake, painted on with greasepaint, because he hated ripping off a glued one every night.”

Simon watched her perfect mouth form each word, hating the fact that it was Tim’s to kiss.

“We need to be sure we're answering the exact question being asked, dear,” said Tim, looking from his wife to Simon. In 1950, was the moustache of the host of ‘You Bet Your Life’ real or fake? We have to be careful. There’s only a couple of points between us and those smarmy ‘Angry Nerds’ bastards.”

“Well,” said Joan, slowly, as if explaining to a dull child, “the host of Bet Your Life in 1950 was Groucho Marx. He had a fake moustache. Ergo, it was fake. Put ‘Fake’.” Joan took a swig from her beer bottle while tapping the table to emphasise the finality of her decision.

Simon gazed at her slender neck as she swallowed, but then noticed Tim’s attention and focussed on the the almost complete answer sheet in front of him. “You know, I’m pretty sure he grew a real one, later in life. In the last Marx Brothers movie, he had a real moustache.”

Emily reached out and touched Simon’s hand. “Was that the one we saw on telly? The one with Marilyn Monroe in it? He definitely did have a moustache in that one.”

Simon glanced at her and nodded before turning back to Joan. “I think it’s a trick question. They want you to think you’re clever for knowing that Groucho Marx was the host, and that he usually had a greasepaint moustache, but then they sting you because at that point he didn’t.”

“You’re sure, then? Sure enough that you’d bet on it.” asked Tim.

“Stakes?” asked Simon.

“Domination for the half life of Seaborgium-271,” said Tim.

“Done,” said Simon. He wrote “Real’ on the answer sheet and underlined it. As the QuizMaster passed by their table Simon tore the sheet from the booklet and handed it over. “...and done. It’s in the hands of the Quiz Gods now.”

Joan rolled her eyes and grunted. Emily looked confused. “What’s going on?”

“The boys bet when there’s a difference of opinion at the table,” said Joan. “They say it keeps things interesting, but really it’s just an excuse for them to swing their general knowledge related dicks around. There’s bunch of different rules but Domination is a ‘you have to be my slave’ kind of deal.”

Emily giggled. “That sounds fun. And what’s a Sea Borg? One of those Trekkie things?”

“Seaborgium 271 is a trans-uranic isotope that only exists in laboratories after bombarding Californium with Oxygen ions. It decays into Rutherfordium after only a couple of minutes,” said Tim, looking at Simon with a wolfish grin.

“One point nine minutes, to be precise,” said Simon, smiling shyly at Joan.

Having collected all the teams’ sheets and handed them over to the scorer, the Quizmaster read out the answers. They’d done well, missing a geography question but picking up a bonus point for knowing the names of both Dalmatian parents in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. During the reading they listened out for the Angry Nerds table across the pub, trying to judge how their opponents were doing by the sound of their whoops and groans. It was hard to be sure, but they seemed to be level pegging.

The final question about the host of ‘You Bet your Life’ was read out and the answer pronounced: Fake. Simon sagged in dismay. From the Angry Nerds corner came a low muttering of disappointment.

“All right, Timmy,” said Simon, smiling nervously. “You got me fair and square. Let the indentured servitude begin. Just remember: I know where the bodies are buried.”

“OK then, mister,” said Tim. “I declare, for the next one point nine minutes, you have to stop being in love with my wife.”

Everybody stared at everybody else. Nobody spoke. And then someone did.

“What?” asked Emily. “Is this part of the bet? Simon?”

“I’m not,” said Simon staring squarely at Tim, “in love with Joan.”

“Good stuff,” said Tim. “And for the next couple of minutes I expect you to remain that way. Do whatever you have to, I really don’t mind how. Just do it, it’s starting to get a little embarrassing, you staring all the time, not to mention excessively rude to Emily here.”

“Simon?” asked Emily again.

Simon stuttered, face flushing as he realised he had nothing else to say. He closed his eyes, ignoring Emily, ignoring everyone. He could get up and walk away, he realised, but really, what was the point? It was said now. And besides, he was under Domination and a bet was a bet. There was nothing else for it but to stop being being in love with Joan. Perhaps it was possible - perhaps he really, truly could if he tried. It had to be better than staring at her across the table every week, trying to impress her with useless facts.

He breathed, summoned tiny particles of hate: the bitterness he’d felt when she and Tim had become a couple; the way she laughed at Tim’s jokes and not at his; the lurid pictures of them together that occasionally slid unbidden into his mind when he thought of her. He opened himself to be bombarded by them. He pictured his own heart devoid of warmth, turning metallic, a deadened, silvery grey. He felt the chemical reaction inside him, changing him. He opened his eyes, looked directly at Joan, and felt nothing. Had he done it, he wondered? Had he truly done it?

“I am not,” he said with absolute conviction, “in love with Joan.”

“Just in time!” said Tim. “I can almost believe it - what do you think, dear?”

But Emily and Joan were looking at something else. Someone from the Angry Nerds team had brought up Wikipedia on their phone and was waving it angrily at the QuizMaster.

“I’m sorry,” said the QuizMaster, his face dwarfed by the thick framed spectacles he wore each week. “Usually we don’t allow correspondence to be entered into, but as this will stop a three way tie I will allow the fact that that one of our answers appears to be quite demonstrably wrong. In 1950 the moustache of the host of You Bet Your Life was, in fact, the real thing. Our mistake. Everybody gets the point!”

Simon saw Joan’s face crease with mixed emotion at the news and his heart collapsed back into love, its deadened nature transient and unsustainable in the real world. But there were still particles scattering - newly created residue of its metallic state. Atomic slivers of vengeance.

“Does that mean Simon gets to be the SeaBorg now?” asked Emily.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In with a tale so incredible, it could only be true. And about me. And possibly one other person. No, make that two. At least two other people.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

wordcount:935
Prompt: It's all about me

CHiSH

Simon took a last, lingering look at the outside world, imagined Chelsea’s face wishing him a swift return, and then passed into the murk of Dean’s bedroom in search of history notes. He edged beyond precariously towering piles of paperbacks, trying not step on the underpants of dubious provenance that lay like miniature mines between him and Dean’s desk. The toe of his regulation school shoes caught on the hidden cable of a single-bar heater and he almost went sprawling into a half-covered picture frame, but he managed to grab a mantelpiece on his way down and right himself. The kerfuffle caused a hitherto-unseen Siamese cat to explode from behind an electric guitar with two broken strings and speed towards the door.

“Jeez, Dean! Did you kill the cleaning lady?” said Simon, randomly wondering what Chelsea was up to right this minute. Probably hanging out with Simon’s sister again. Perhaps he should finish up the assignment with Dean and get home quickly, in case she was staying for tea.

“Yes,” came Dean’s voice from the bathroom next door. “In a related matter, don’t look under my bed.”

“Roger that,” said Simon, taking a couple of wobbly steps towards a semi-collapsed pile of wood, mattress and duvet and peering under it. The corpses of long dead dust bunnies stared back at him from beside a stack of White Dwarf magazines. Making a mental note to ask if he could borrow a couple in case Chelsea hadn’t seen the latest Thrud the Barbarian, Simon stood and turned to his right, where Dean’s desk sat, a microcosm of disorder and educational anarchy.

“Let me see,” said Simon to himself as he rummaged through the assorted books, ring-binders and refill pads that spread across its surface. “History folder, history folder, history...aha!” He grabbed a red, cardboard binder marked in a precocious, felt-tipped script “WW2: Or What I Did In My Holidays, By Adolf Hitler, Mrs.”

“Found it,” called Simon. There was the sound of distant flushing. Simon opened the folder to double check it wasn’t mislabelled and actually filled with pictures of stick figure versions of Roman deities. On the first page, in large, straight-ruled lines was a word, five letters long. Each letter was carefully shaded to give it three dimensions on the page, its edges and curves pulled into rigid order like a metal band logo. ‘CHiSH’.

Simon stopped cold. He recognised the word instantly - Dean/Simon code for CHelsea Sarah Henderson. He turned to the next page. There was the word again, written out ten times in different typefaces. A third page had the same, only this time it was surrounded by love hearts, some of them pierced by tiny biro arrows. Simon swallowed and tasted bile.

Dean appeared, hovering by the door, wringing his still-damp hands. “Did you find it?”

Simon tore the front page out of the binder, paper ripping loudly in the quiet room. He held it up so Dean could see the hand-drawn emblem. “Something you want to tell me, mate?”

The question hung above a vast abyss between the desk and the door.

“poo poo,” said Dean.

The pair sat in the tiny room that held the kitchen table, drinking incredibly strong plunger coffee. “I just don’t get it,” said Simon. “You’ve met CHiSH, like, three times.”

Dean shrugged with his face. “I’m in love with her, dude. She’s very lovable.”

“Oh, forget that,” said Simon. “You are not in love with her. You don’t even know the half of it. Have you worshipped her from afar since you were ten?”

Dean admitted that, in fact, he had not worshipped CHiSH from afar since the age of ten.

“Did you come this close to having to your first snog be with Emma Curtis just so you could ‘accidentally’ lose at Feather and the Blanket while you were sitting next to her? Did you write a goddamn embarrassing poem about it that Mr Sinclair printed in the goddamn yearbook and then have your own goddamn brother show it to her? That’s what love is, mate. It’s pain and shame and history. This,” Simon tapped on the lovingly detailed logo in front of him, “is just a schoolboy crush.”

Dean smiled sadly. “Yeah, mate. It is. I know it is. I’ll get over it.”

“I hope so. Jeez, I wish I’d never told you about her.” As soon as he said it, Simon felt like he’d kicked a puppy, but, dammit, it was hard enough getting girls to look at him. Dean could find his own drat women.

Dean sat silently, hands around his cup of coffee.

“Anyhow,” said Simon. “It’s almost six. I’d better get going, Dad’ll be ready soon.” He grabbed his school backpack from beside the table, and shoved a couple of textbooks into it. “Hey, can I borrow a couple of White Dwarfs?”

“Yeah, sure,” said Dean. “Hang on a sec.” They went out to the front door and Dean vanished up the hall, returning a minute later with two magazines. “The latest couple.”

“Cheers, dude.” Simon took the proffered periodicals and slide them carefully into his English folder. “We’re still good, though, right?”

“Huh?” said Dean. “Oh, yeah. We’re good. ‘Course. Chicks, though, eh? Can’t live with ‘em, pass the beer nuts.” He made a noise that almost sounded like laughter.

“Sweet.” said Simon. “I mean, it’s not like she’d actually be seen dead going out with either one of us. See ya tomorrow.”

Simon heard the door slam shut behind him as he walked down the path that led from Dean’s house to the outside world.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In like my belly button used to be, before this weird, hernia-like thing made it more of a squashed yet bulbous tomato than an asterisk.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

wordcount: 749
Flashrule: Thor does not use credit cards
Lego Set: Space Lock Up Isolation Base

Isolation Base

Thor Brickson, stripped of weapons, liberty and even his credit card, was well and truly apprehended. Two Space Police officers escorted him, wrists electro-cuffed, to the iso-cage atop Isolation Base X-19. The iso-cage, all ferric alloy and preventative field generators, was empty of comfort or convenience, yet Thor felt smug.

Stupid sticklers, he thought, as the SPoffs sent a standards-compliant Personal Rights markup document to his darksuit’s filesystem. Their idiotic devotion to social justice and communal property at the expense of Blacktronic Capitalistic Virtue would be the end of them. If they’d shot him as a Blacktron would, destroying his burned shell of fighter without question, he would have died in the interstellar vastness - another asset written off in their endless war. But killing him would make far too much sense. Better to keep him alive, on the off-chance that later he wouldn’t feel like smashing their decadent regime with the iron fist of Blacktron Incorporated. Unlikely, seeing his final free action had been to activate the fighter’s auto-defense systems. If she ever woke up she would give someone a nasty surprise.

The SPoffs bleated on - squeaky clean voices to match their sparkling white uniforms. One of them asked him if he understood his rights as they had been messaged to him, and Thor took advantage of the Base’s atmosphere to flick up his blackout visor and spit at her gleaming faceplate. A rotund globule of phlegm struck her helmet, wobbling like jelly in the slight gravity. Thor imagined what they were saying on their private channel:

“He spat at me! ”

“Typical Blacktron, refusing to recognise his privilege. Electruncheon?”

“No - he has a roguish charm that you and the incredibly smooth area between your legs are lacking.”

He was still chuckling when the electruncheon shocked him into unconsciousness.

When he awoke, the SPoffs had gone; their patrol vehicle missing from the landing struts. Thor was alone in the cage perched at the highest point of the Isolation Base, surrounded by grey, dusty moonscape as far as his visored eyes could see. At least his hands were free of those infernal electro-cuffs.

He tested his darksuit, but the iso-cage containment fields dampened its functioning as he’d expected. He had no way to contact his fighter - even assuming it had regained consciousness.

There was a crackling on the Isolation Base’s comm system.

“It’s his fighter. Should we take a look at it?” said a squeaky clean voice.

Comms must be set to pick up the patrol vehicle, Thor realised.

“Be careful, it could be a...”

The comm system went silent. In the heavens above the iso-cage, Thor saw what looked like a small star being born, and just as quickly dying. He laughed out loud.

Sixteen months later, Thor saw a familiar patrol vehicle crash slowly into the dust to the west, creating a giant cloud on the horizon. Thor laughed out loud again. Laughter was, by now, his favourite activity. Sometimes he laughed for hours and hours, had a sleep, then woke up to laugh some more. The iso-cage provided a dollop of thin paste every twelve hours, which kept him alive. Thor watched the dust rise and laughed. The iso-cage made a bloop sound and dumped some paste into the dispenser. This struck Thor as hilarious, but not as hilarious as the small bits of plastic and metal that rained down for the next couple of days. One, a half a BlackTronInc credit card, fell just outside his cage.

Three years later Thor was awoken by the sound of engines. Landing on the plain amid a swirling commotion of dust was a Blacktron ship, stylish, sleek and intimidating. Thor stared at it with large, round eyes. It was the most wonderful thing in the world. Thor giggled quietly.

A figure with a darksuit and Blackout visor appeared before the iso-cage. “Thor Brickson? I greet you in the name of the Victorious Forces of the Blacktron Corporation”

Thor gaped at the figure. A cracked sound barely escaped his throat. “Victory?”

“Commander Brickson, I’m Warden Kinnecks, here take you home. As soon as you pay off the remainder of the 13 million credits you owe on the Blacktron fighter you destroyed. Please present your Blacktron Incorporated Credit Card.”

Thor pointed at the ground outside his cage, and laughed hysterically. “Victory!”

Warden Kinnex looked at the half-disintegrated credit card. “The poor sod’s gone native on us,” he said. He raised his Blacktron 2000PPG and fired three times.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
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Grimey Drawer

In. I've got a couple of wins and hms under my belt so any potential collaborators of the newb persuasion drop me a line at my sa username at gmail. First come, first served. NZ timezone.

Edit: they came, they were served.

Fumblemouse fucked around with this message at Feb 25, 2014 around 22:46

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
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Grimey Drawer

Starter Wiggin posted:


quote:

Lake Jucas posted:

Allegiance is fluid in the Thunderdome. Starter Wiggin, we collaborated together last week, but this week we will meet on the battlefield. It's time to brawl.

Just a warning: unlike your precious Kilkenny cats, there won't be any trace of you left once I am done.


I see your challenge, Lake Jucas, and I accept.

Counter-warning: I facking accept.

There's nothing so tragic as seeing a family pulled apart by something as simple as a pack of wolves.

You each have 72 hours to write 720 words on the theme of "Pack Mentality"

NB: I was relatively polite and accommodating in the spirit of last round's collaboration theme. I shall not make the same mistake here.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

My trip to Lake Starter and what I brawled there

Lake Jucas

The King of Throop Avenue
709 Words

“Hold it!” bellowed the King of Throop Avenue and the Pontiac obeyed, rolling to a stop at the intersection. The King fixed his gaze on the trio of school girls, “Alright, now cross.”Fixing his gaze sounds quite intense, but it's left hanging - we pick it up later by context - he's paying attention - but seems a little skew whiff here. Possibly pervy

Long ago, the stop signs at the intersection of Throop Avenue and Hart Street were stolen. Unbidden, cars raced through the intersection like wild animals, heedless of pedestrians and other cars. It wasn’t until the King of Throop Avenue began his vigil that order was restored. At least that was how the neighborhood kids told it. this could be more interesting if the children flexed their imaginations a bit

“Thank you, Mr. King” they said as they walked passed into the bodega.

“You girls have a good day.,” he told them, waving the Pontiac on. they're already in the Bodega - possibly on the other side of the the road if he was talking to them

Every day, the King of Throop Avenue held court on this corner, directing herds of cars from his aluminum folding-chair throne. Mix that metaphor, baybee Under his watchful eyes, schools of children safely swam the gaps between oncoming lumbering SUVs double adjective seems a little clumsy, and 'schools' of fish rarely meet lumbering sharks. He kept the flocks of bicyclists in check and well away from the prowling taxis that zipped between lanes. All was harmony.

An old corolla came up to the intersection. “Keep it coming!” the King commanded. The corolla’s driver put his foot on the gas, bput without warning a pack of young, white men darted out in front of the car. The corolla jerked to a halt while they meandered across.are they darting or meandering?

“You could have gotten hurt!” the King shouted at them.

“Mind your business.,” one shouted back. As they passed, the King overheard them whisper about schizophrenia and laugh. . <- too many

The King hobbled over to his throne and eased himself into it. His knees were troubling him again. He rummaged through his cooler - the royal treasury - and found one of the bologna sandwiches Mrs. Delancie made him and started eating double and is clumsy. In quiet moments like these he thought about how the neighborhood was changing. The word ‘gentrification’ was on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Is this a word he's familiar with? What's his reaction to it?

The bodega’s door chime roused him. One of the girls rushed out. “Where’s Mr. Bear?” she cried, “Has anyone seen Mr. Bear?” I have no sense until now that the girls are of teddy bear age

“Did you lose your stuffed animal?” the King asked.

“Uh-huh. I just had him!”

The King scanned the area and spotted it in the middle of the road on the far corner this seems contradictory - in the middle but on the corner?. The girl went to sprint for it sprinting and girls of teddy bear age seem incongruous but the King stopped her. “I’ll get it. Kids shouldn’t be out in the road.” This would be a good time to indicate somehow how serious the King is about this - something in his voice, or how he stops her, perhaps, thus foreshadowing the ending

He was halfway across Hart the geography has escaped me - which road is he crossing? the intersection confuses things, somewhatwhen he saw the shiny new Prius barreling down Throop, directly towards the stuffed bear. “Hold it!” he shouted, but the driver didn’t slow. He looked through the windshield and^hhh he saw that the woman driving was on the phone, distracted distracted is possible obvious from context

“Hold it!” he flailed his arms over his head, but the woman never noticeddidn't notice. The car kept coming. The King cast a glance back at the little girl and saw the horror in her eyes as her teddy was about to be run over.

He lunged.across an entire road? - big lunge! Could be better described as to what he had to accomplish to save the tedster

The driver slammed her foot on the brakes and twisted the steering wheel. The Prius managed to swerved out of the way and narrowly managed to missed the King {keep action immediate - never have words that slow down action if you can avoid it[/b]. Heart pounding in his chest, he scooped up the teddy bear.

The woman hopped out of her car, “What is wrong with you? I nearly got into an accident!”

“I’m sorry, ma’am.,” he said.

“Seriously, are you crazy? You’re lucky I don’t call the cops. Stupid nig-” she slammed the car door shut and sped off. Oooh - the N word. Edgy. Or half of it. Edg.

When the King of Throop Avenue returned to his corner, the girl ran up and hugged him. “I can’t thank you enough! You have no idea how much Mr. Bear means to me!” The little girl likes to lay her emotional state on with a trowel

The King smiled at her. He reached into the royal treasury, and with as much pomp and ceremony his trembling hands could muster he drew forth a freezy pop. She grinned delightedly. “Be more careful with Mr. Bear.” he said, “You don’t want to lose him.”

That night, as the King of Throop Avenue’s watch came to a close, he crossed the street and lingered where his daughter had played decades ago, at the spot where the car didn’t swerve out of the way in time. He let himself not be the King of Throop Avenue for a moment, and for the first time in years he cried.

this could really do with some tightening up, and you need to learn how punctuation works in sentences with quotation marks (a couple would be forgivable, but this is consistent). try https://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/quotes.asp

As a story it's Ok. It's not brilliant, and the emotional ending (dude's action reminds him of the past and so he cries) is something of a cliche and an easy ending. In order to give it a bit more impact, we needed to feel that the King's mission is his true calling from his words and actions. We get more that this is something he does, than this is something he is. Tie his actions to his reasons for doing them perhaps. tightening up the action and giving the reader a clearer picture of the setting will help with making the action more dramatic

The connection to the prompt is pretty loose, but it's in there. I don't know if you could call 'pack mentality' a theme, though, it's more background/incidental, so you lose a couple of points there.

Ok - let's see what they competition has to offer.




Starter Wiggin posted:

My Lake Jucas brawl entry, prompt 'Pack Mentality':

Backpack yawned and stretched his zippers.


What a crackling example of well thought out homage this wasn't. The fact that your main character is entirely passive for the duration of the story isn't the worst part of it (though, seriously, ask yourself is this a story that you would want to read?). Clearly, in this case, you have failed to observe the OP which clearly states

quote:

*I will say this one time. FANFICTION IS NEVER OK EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU ARE BEING CLEVER BY HIDING THE FANFICTION IN WHAT AT FIRST SEEMS TO BE A SERIOUS STORY FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK i will slap your face into ugly little pieces

Here's a clue - If I write a story about a klutzy girl called Bella having an S&M relationship with a broody guy called Edward in a world without vampires - it's still fan-fiction. If I change the names to Ana and Christian, it's Fifty Shades of Grey and I'm incredibly, stupidly rich.

If you want to have the faintest chance of passing Fan-Fiction off as something that isn't, well, Fan-Fiction, DO NOT GIVE YOUR CHARACTER THE SAME NAME AS THEIR ORIGINAL COUNTERPART. Borrowing a character from someone else's work is verboten in the Dome. I'm not even particularly familiar with Dora the explorer, and might even have thought that you were just particularly unimaginative with your choice of name for your anthropomorphic carrier, but you had to have Dora herself emblazoned on BackPack to remove all doubt of the connection. Own. loving. Goal. You don't even have parody for defense - it's just the BackPack character, doing gently caress all on a wall.

Disqualified. You have brought eternal shame upon the Dome and yourself.




Starter Wiggin loses with extreme prejudice

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

The endlessly munificent Kaishai has appointed me co-judge and set me about the task of providing Flash Rules to the many remaining supplicants. "Leave them plenty of room to move," I am told, and I shall. You may all have the perfect freedom to Kneel and Quake before the Wisdom of Kaishai, maggots, because it's fun to watch you all wobbling about like weebles with the DTs! Use your apportioned Wisdom well, and surely Kaishai will see beyond the stench of your putrid offerings and into your heart of hearts where that which you meant to write resides.

Lake Jucas: The tygers of wrath are wiser than nightmares.
WeLandedOnTheMoon!: A dead body suffers not injuries.
Paladinus: Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of your victims.
QuoProQuid: Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse dead children.
curlingiron: The cut worm forgives the wicked knife.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

The Saddest Rhino posted:

Ugh, CAVEAT TO FLASH RULE: Do NOT write Silent Hill fanfiction or try to be cute and make the Hantu Tetek a sexy nurse.

additional flash rule: Eternity is in love with the secretions of time.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
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Grimey Drawer

In for this week.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Ghost Story Crits Part 1

So, I have decided that the only way I can face revisiting all these stories is to go through and simply note down the three things for each story.

In general though, one thing I noticed a hell of a lot in these stories was a lack of agency in the protagonists. If your story is all about someone who meets a ghost, the story shouldn’t be that the character meets a ghost, who then does something that the person sees. The person has to play a part other than observer unless you’re really good and can somehow make a non-viewpoint character the actual protagonist (with all the imparted knowledge about their state and agency that implies).

I’m putting that one at the top for free so I don’t have to write it twenty times.


Running into walls - Dancing and drinking


Don’t have a story where, when your character turns in a plot token, they are rewarded with the exact same plot token (in this case, a skanky fedora)

Don’t just leave a character abandoned in the middle of nowhere because, gently caress it, they’re just some chick in a flapper outfit, it makes your hero look like a douche. Ghostly invite or not, he won’t get a second date.

Don’t end your story at the start of Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean video.

This one was actually my pick for loser. It seemed to have some vague idea of the dots it needed to connect, but the lines were all squiggly and the final picture was Jackson Pollock’s chimpanzee.


Masonity - Bonfire Night


Learn difference between it’s and its. Seriously. You are too old not to know this.

I did like the actual reveal. The terror is all in the guy’s head - and the dog doesn’t break character and do freaky ghosty stuff. However, the guy went too quickly from lost to existential terror. Some more build-up would have given us time to know him.

quote:

I needed the false dawn of a thousand street lights. I needed the chaotic orchestra of traffic. I needed the smells of grilled onions, week old hot-dogs and month old, hardened buns.
this shows potential, but then you said buns and after the last guy finished up in an MJ video I started thinking of pedo jokes which spoiled it somewhat. Blame him and his awful story.

Some Guy TT - that which is seen

The first paragraphs are basically exposition. Don’t do that, have the facts of the matter come from Steven’s interaction with the ‘ghost’ “You get outa here,” Steven’s slurred, “unless you just put away ten drug dealers for a thousand and, and, something years combined. Did you? Then gently caress off!”

The psychedelic trippy stuff in the middle is usually more interesting for you than the audience. A little of that kind of detail goes a long way. Make it symbolic so it has a deeper resonance than just weird poo poo. What does it mean that he almost gets eaten?

The ending is disappointing - what revenge? For being smelled? For being old? “Haha,” said the crazy old judge, “it is true I am old and nobody likes me, but so will you be one day, and vengeance will then be mine, fucker!” Dunno - seems weak. You’ve undercut yourself by being vague about the ghostiness of the whole thing.

Chairchucker - Undying Love


It was a good gag and we all laughed.

But it wasn’t much more than a gag, which made us sad

And then a ghost turned up and ripped her flesh mask off and we all laughed again. That poo poo never gets old.


nethilia - Katy’s Doll


This seems pretty adequate - competent grammar and spellin’s. Character gets some growth and realises the value of her little sister so there’s even a character arc in there. It’s all a bit twee, though. The doll is haunted so they throw it away. Kid is good girl after all and really loves her sister - hooray!

So what this story really needed was something to give it some edge. Eiither something a bit more horrific than a floating thing that inhales, that can be gotten rid of with a decent throwing arm, or a venture off the beaten path of cliche endings.

Watch the said-bookisms in there “She whimpered weakly” -it’s not like she was going to whimper strongly


SurreptitiousMuffin - Freezing Floor Bolt Gun Blues

Visceral and powerful. I liked it - some very twisty turns of phrase going on there.

The antag didn’t seem particularly ghosty - more horror movie villain, but you tied it in with the meatworks and the dead animals so whatever.

I really didn’t like the ending. He just fought the bugger and and pretty much won, so he’s going to kneel just because he’s dead? Seemed to violate the character somewhat.

This was my pick for second.


CommisarMega - A doctor for Mama


Again, not too bad - but a little twee. Nasty spirit isn’t raelly so nasty after all, because the good little boy is good. Boo, I am a monster and you are a bad child. No, I am am doing a good thing. OK, now we are friends.

As such it felt trapped between being an actual story, and being a fairy-tale, where such caricatures are more at home. But that didn’t fit with the ‘this is the actual truth about hantu tetek’ approach you took - you needed a real boy with real failings to make his goodness be more than a stereotype.

The boy ‘heard her say’ something about 20 times. We know he heard her because it’s dialogue in the story.



Echo Cian Fallen Grace


A ghost story that gave me goosebumps. Very nicely done. Also, well written, crafted and plotted.

When I was discussing this with Kaishai she thought the characterisation had let you down - there was no reason for the ghost to fall in love with the girl except she was a plucky period chick. I pointed out the line ““A servant lost his love there,” the maids said. “He was driven mad, so he leaped off the balcony to join her. He waits there for women who look like her, and kills them so he won't be lonely.”” which to me kind of answer that as a plot problem (though some character dev wouldn’t have gone amiss) and gives it a nice, dark edge. However, I didn’t actually pick up on it the first time through, only after I had a look to see where Kaishai was coming from, so if that was a line you wanted to follow, maybe strengthen it somehow with other references or clues to indicate it has happened before

I’m in two minds about the interspersed backstory - execution - coronation - rebellion. On the one part if gives the story a sense of time passing, but on the other it’s so far removed until the end - perhaps the events could be tied into the everyday activities - eg people are gearing up for new queen's arrival or something.



Cache Cab - The Baptist


OK - that was just weird as gently caress

At the time I couldn’t decide if it was sexist/racist or just provocative. I’m starting to come down on the former side (I think spending time on the size of the Jewess’s nose really pushed me over the edge there), but it’s a tricky road to navigate, and while I don’t think you should be chastised for trying something along those lines, I also don’t think it came off very well, because I spent too much time trying to guess your intent and not enough worrying about the story, which could have been done just as well without picking solely on that kind of stereotype.

While you paint the picture of the situation well, there’s not really a story going on - we learn what these guys do and then that’s it, except for the bit at the end where some future stuff is mentioned.


Cpt Mahatma Gandhi - Blessed By Yama

Who is Yenkat? Not know this really annoyed me for some reason, because it denied me some context for the finale.

For some reason I found it quite hard to get caught up in the tale. You’ve got about 5 section breaks, which is usually three too many for a piece of this length.

Also why do people steal ghost bones? Not for good eatin’ - it just seems a bit random.

Similarly - he kills his brother, mentions it once, and then gets distracted by something else. I guess I didn’t really feel involved in his story as it didn’t really seem to affect him much.


Djeser Burden

This was just dull. Over time the dragon does less and less interesting stuff until he becomes completely passive. Possibly an actually good story in reverse. Or perhaps some origin story knocked off in a couple of panels before something interesting happens.

The ghost dragon is, as the protag notices, a cool idea, but you’ve only done half your job - you had a lot of words to spare, surely you could have done something with them. Because the dragon is talking, nothing ever happens in the framing story except for a very non-sequitur-ish, and to be frank, not very funny last line.

This is a beginning, but theres no context - no consequence. To be honest, I would rather have read a story about the metal band with the ghost dragon’s hilariously unruly first gig and left the backstory to a couple of throwaway lines.

Entenzahn - Why rules are important

This is a slight work. You can’t be taken seriously if you call someone Isaac McScratchy, and the only way this could possibly work is if the nastiness is in stark relief to everything else, so you’re undercutting you own efforts.

You also left the last, presumably supposed to be scary line as ‘a nasty voice cackled’. This is neither scary nor horrible. It comes across like the potions mistress in the The Worst Witch. (I have never read the Worst Witch, it just sounds suitably bland). Try and think of other ways of getting the same point across, metahpors or similes. Would you rather read about a voice that sounds like chainsaws on flesh, or nasty voices that cackle?

Plus the ending is just cheap. It’s not funny enough to be a comedy, it’s not scary enough to be a dark comedy. If it was a sketch in a comedy show, the show would be cancelled. Need to try a little harder here.


the News at 5 - Final


You keep on having Walter speak and then Brian do something in the same paragraph and it’s confusing.

This wasn’t really a ghost story - this was just a story where the bully gets the nerd to cheat on a test for him and then the nerd gains some self-respect, and the bully gets his come-uppance. Why did this need to be about ghosts? It felt a bit shoe-horned in to the whole ghost thing. Plus, they all react as if blackmailing ghosts is perfectly natural. Dunno - didn’t really ring true for me.

That said, it was competently written, has a narrative arc for each character and aside from the quoting issue, clear to read - so nearer the top end than the bottom all in all.


nitrousoxide - rematch

I completely glazed over this one. It wasn’t funny or particularly well told. I didn’t hate it as much as some, but it really didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I can turn my brain off with the best of them, but wackiness for its own sake never really floats my boat, and this didn’t really bring much else to the table.

That and the fact that things happened, seemingly because the author thought it would be cool, but these dudes are just picking up the magic books and casting spells just because they can. It’s not, as they say, internally consistent - it reads more like a comic that’s been translated into English.

You need to build your story out of interlinking components that create a whole, rather than just filling in the blanks after another 'And then...'


Starter Wiggen - cattle sam

I actually liked this. It’s simplistic, but it has a nice rhythm to it. Cattle Sam should have been explicitly dared at the end, but not a bad effort at all.

the first section is probably completely redundant. As a framing device it seems to start in the middle which doesn’t quite add up.

There’s possibly a bit too much conversation in there - readers also want to learn about what happens by seeing it happen. That’s why the second to last section works better than some of the others.

Tyrannosaurus - Night Lights in Louisiana

Very good piece - nothing to be ashamed of here.

Didn’t like the last line much - might have worked better without it.

The tendency to break things into single sentence paragraphs became a bit wearisome when it got to things like

quote:

Jack exhaled.

“I think I’m in love with you,” he said.
. You start off better in this regard but it breaks down at the end and sometimes it’s not warranted especially if you want you piece to flow and not be poetry.

Whalley


the two problems with this one were 1) it’s just a silly premise, and 2) nothing happens except he discovers his mate is a ghost.

Why would he have to spend time apologising for the friends behaviour if no-one could see him?

How is he affected by the fact that his best friend is a ghost? that might have made a more interesting tale. As it is, it ends just as things start to get warmed up.


elfdude - the call of the banshee

(meh - not actually a ghost story as Banshees are fairy folk)

Pretty glib story - guy dies, but that’s ok because sexy fae chick is giving him the time of day. You go, dead boy.

today’s grammar area of focus is the Humble Comma

Plus - the Banshee didn’t actually protect him from the Banshee’s wail, nor did the wail apparently come from Morrigan (who is a goddess figure anyway) so how does he realise she’s a Banshee?

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Ghost story crits Pt 2

This is the last of them. If I missed anyone that wasn't disqualified, let me know.

Was after midnight when I posted part 1, so here's a couple of examples from elfdude's comma situation which I skimped on.

elfdude - the call of the banshee

today’s grammar area of focus is the Humble Comma - bad usage includes
“Feeling both cold and warm as he walked, brought goose-bumps to his skin” - You only need a comma between phrases if both phrases have subjects and verbs. Dependent clauses (without both of those elements) probably don’t need the separation.

“Why does it look like I’m out here boy?”, Needs a comma after here

He was surprised when he found nothing, except for a stream - don’t need commas for lists of two

The sound was barely perceptible at first, slowly pleasant song eased its way into his consciousness - needs a conjunctive like ‘but’

Suddenly, a clap like two boards striking each other startled Henry - definitely don’t need one here - and the word ‘suddenly’ often slows down a sentence (contrary to its meaning)

He looked around, and realized that he had fallen asleep by the stream - no subject so second one is a dependant clause = no comma - be careful not to use commas where VERBAL pauses happen

God over Djinn - Ghost of the modern world


Not quite as clever as it wanted to be. A deft touch with language but it goes nowhere and never resolves - left hanging like the ghost leaves the protag. This could be intentional, but I was left unsatisfied and with the sense that, if there was a point, I would have to make it myself.

That said - the characterisation was fairly advanced - I could picture the charactures and hear them differently as I read them, which is always a good sign.

Another story with a lack of true agency for the characters - it’s largely dialog but nobody ever does anything. All dialog stories can be very problematic - it’s great practice for screenplays though.



Paladinus - A ghost of many


Waaay too much telling and not showing.

quote:

Just a week has passed since he had to cast a spell of destruction of immense strength – probably the most powerful in written history
Can you think of ways to show this - weariness, disfigurement, a magical focus that is barely glowing...

Yet despite all the telling, I have no clue what happened at the end. Where did this crystal turn up from? Why should we care that he is now being haunted? Why should his thoughts be problem? For all the world-building there’s a lack of focus on the repercussions of what happens or any other reasons why we should care.


That old gannon - Rose tea


Another one where I’m not entirely sure what happened at the end and I don’t really care. Between Kaishai and me I think we figured it out eventually, but it took a few read-throughs and so you failed on the all-important clarity stakes.

Part of this is the tea itself, we’re never clear what it’s purpose is, and it behaves differently. Why does it allow the dead witch to take over the other one (which we assumed happens because they say the same thing), but not Sonny who also drank it. Why would the possessing witch say ‘we’ll speak later’ when speaking now might be a good idea so s/he doesn’t continue to get throttled.

You’ve got some weird word choices in there: The magic dissipated against his palm in a very refreshing sensation - refreshing? really? Sounds lovely.

as each of his words fed the indignant, kindling rage eating at him from the inside. - kindling is pretty tautologous in this case and also makes no sense if its already at the eating stage


Doc beard - Spirits cannot harm the living

This wasn’t too bad and effort - ending clicked nicely, world seemed well-realised. I think it might be a bit of a stretch to say the ghost wasn’t known to the protag as per the prompt though. Tsk Tsk.

Your paragraphs seem to get shorter as the story progresses - This can work if your heading toward a big, fast moving climax, but often it means that your first paras are heavy in exposition and you might need to find some other way of showing us what you mean. I think this is the case here.


toanoradian - A thesis on ghost

This was pleasantly well thought out, and clear but it lacked a certain something. I just didn’t really feel anything when Dukos fate was revealed, it felt more like I had been shown the end results of an equation, albeit a clever one. Yes, Duko has been taken over, but what are the consequences for him or the world? Why should I care? Why should a ghost ‘like’ to possess someone?

The repetition of coming closer three times is something that works well with a spoken story, but perhaps less well on a page.

Couple of howlers: it ‘were’ the shadows. Remembering his last screams when he didn’t ever actually scream. Feeling? a face on the window.




Crabrock - things that die


The Chocky of ghost stories. A tale full of dialog where nothing much happens but a small amount is revealed.

So the ghost here is a smart gangster - philosopher. Why has the ghost started talking to an eight year old and pontificating to him? Will we ever know? Probably not.

We really needed some kind of consequence here, some reason to care why the ghost was worse or better than Bobby Henderson



WeLandedOnTheMoon - Silver Necklace


Disturbingly graphic, and not ineffective in a visceral way. Plus some ralatively complex action which I managed to staty on top of, despite having read a poo poo-ton of other stories by then.

Jumps to different Points of View a couple of times, which is a little annoying

Lacks characterisation, particularly of Sarah, who we need to empathise with in order to want her to survive. In order for us to care if something is destroyed, we have to understand its value.


QuoProQuo - Ghost stories for CHildren

A very traditional approach to the ghost story - good campfire stuff.

Don’ think the jumping around in time part really works for it - in this case, I think you needed to start at the beginning and work through to the end. The divisions really aren’t clear and ther giant flashback in the middle kills a lot of suspense. Perhaps if you start with the brother telling stories, and then the girl finding herself in the middle of one will feel more natural.

Barracuda Bang - the throng song

This is a bit of an idiot plot - the monsters have to be idiots (or in this case, cliche stereotypes) for it to actually work

They’ve got lips ten times the size of normal lips, but it’ the ‘technical perfection’ that makes the girl run?

The last line is almost completely unnecessary - you could include it as a detail, but ending the story on it is like saying ‘just in case you were too dumb to pick up what I was getting at’.

Perpetulence - drifting

Couldn’t quite figure out the meaning of this story. What is the point of the corpse? Why is the ghost there - to save him from purgatory? Then why isn’t the ghost in purgatory instead of being fished out of the ocean. Why did he lie about how it happened? poo poo makes no sense, dude.

His story about the rat makes no sense either. Just...why?

And then at the end a boat appears and he is saved. Hoorah! That came totally out of left field. As did the attempted suicide. I get being freaked out by a ghost, but so freaked out by a ghost leaving that you top yourself? Need some indication that he was that way inclined beforehand.

The sean - the tour

this wasn’t too bad an attempt - a creative situation that is, at least, well explained and the set-up makes sense. All the parts of the machine are there, but...

You’ve got four paragraphs of exposition before anything actually happens. Try to start more with an interesting event to capture the reader and let the exposition happen naturally. You’ve got a good opening line but no follow through.

Similarly - characterisation suffers quite a bit. You protags are completely reactive and never take action for themselves, so we never learn about them through their response to situations.

I’d like to see you take another pass at this once the other crits are in and see if you can take the solid premise and make an involving story out of it.

curlingiron - finding

The whole hallucination aspect being a red herring as well as the mother’s ghost having no actual role in the story means this becomes quite confusing, but it does remain internally consistent so good work there.

The reason that the girl sees through the monster’s monstrousness seems pat, and so loses a lot of effectiveness - she never really has to work at it.

Why does the girl write back to her Gram in all caps?


noah - fire in the night

I’m not really sure why the protag would think for a moment that Billy’s argument about the firefly was in any way a good reason not to rescue someone from quicksand. And the fact that this has happened before makes them seem like idiots for not having come up with some way to prevent it and not let Ricky lose them time in the chase.

I don’t get why he can’t give the jar to Billy either.

The ending seems non-committal. Did something happen to Billy? Is he pissed at being left alone? Did he find the wisp and now he’s annoyed that the jar wasn’t resent. really not sure what you were going for here.



sitting here - the lost hour

I was intrigued by this, but it suffered from a number of problems. The protag just wanders along, gets informed of some stuff by the magic people and then wanders back. Was the message particularly applicable to her? She responds by taking time to watch the sunrise - but the magic folk’s opening line is ‘You’re going to slow?’ Too slow for what? Presumably they called out Amaya’s name to get her to go in another direction so they could talk to Jodi, but why Jodi?

Duwamish made me think native american, but Bosom of Abraham made me think jewish. There’s probably some interesting backstory there, but I don’t know what it is, which is a shame, because the idea of the bosom of abraham as a plot device is really quite cool. Is this some crypto-history thing of which I am not aware? Is it the Mormons?

Other than that - I liked this one a lot. Some of the beginning stretch had me checking back, but that might just have been unfamilar names which I can have trouble tracking.


Lake Jucas - ghost stories of the old world

Another story that takes many paragraphs before something interesting happens. You need to grab the reader with something to make them want to follow on - it wasn’t until the corpses were discovered that I was intrigued by what was going on. Who cares that she went for a swim? You mention survivors, but this is ignored later on - which is odd because survivors could account for most of the weirdness - moving corpses and people having a good old vom in the bedroom.

someone else retching wring out from the bedroom - I assume you mean ring, and even then, ringing isn’t an adjective I’d use to describe retching

At the end, the pile of corpses is gone. The presumption is that, what - they’re zombies now? There’s not really much of a ghost thing going on here - unless it was ghosts that vomited earlier. How do ghosts move bodies? So many questions! Perhaps we need more information from the nightmares themselves, which you didn’t go into.


systran - empyrean son


I really enjoy this kind of story, and you did well with economy. It’s not really a ghosty story either, though it does have a dead person so half-marks there. I really enjoy the feeling when the elements of a story cohere (it’s a ‘locking in’ sensation for me) and you pretty much have it. Couple of questions though

Did he kill the adulterer or just knock out his teeth and blind him? It almost seems as if the dustmouth and darkness is directly related to the teeth and the eye, but it would make more sense if it was his tongue rather than his teeth. It does kind of fit when he chews on gritty sand, but it just doesn’t quite link up.

Using the word King three times in the last paragraph weakens the overall effect,


bad seafood - captured memories

Definitely one of the better stories here. I would have preferred it if their was somehow more intention in Sasha’s action, as she seems to luck into the photograph resolution, but the characterisation here and the fact it’s Sasha’s choice to work with the camera make up for it somewhat.

The dialogue here flows naturally, and I can hear each character, though you’ve not gone overboard with the accent idiosyncrasies. “She always liked to come her to watch as the sun burst through the waves." - burst here might be a funny word choice, but it’s forgivable.

On a similarly positive note - there’s a good match between dialog and description, with neither overpowering the story or being its sole driver - dialogue heavy people take note. She turned it on its side and the camera breathed dust - that’s a lovely line.

phobia - mud


Ok - so this is a one joke story. It’s a joke that overstays its welcome, though, and isn’t brilliant. Why is there all this mud? Was it raining? You never say - the mud just turns up on the carpets. The ending just kind of drags a bit too - once the joke is revealed you need to end it quick, to keep it snappy.

Why are Hansel’s pants around his ankles at the end? I have no idea, it’s just such an odd detail. How did he speed off into the distance in such deshabille?

I don’t think Nocturne is, in fact, another word for night

Fumblemouse fucked around with this message at Mar 23, 2014 around 01:34

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Wordcount 1187

The Possibility of The World

Caroline stared blankly at the grey sky and the grey sea, rubbing her bruised wrist where Brian had grabbed too tight, feeling salt tears mix with salt air on her lips and tongue. She tried to think of happier things, like the tricks her friends played or the journal where she captured her thoughts and dreams, but the fight filled every possible world she could imagine.

An old wine bottle drifted erratically towards the shore, a cork jammed halfway into its mouth. Caroline could tell it wasn’t empty, but she couldn’t make out its contents through the blur of tears. The bottle floated back and forth until it finally reached the beach, where it lay a long moment until a large swell broke and raced to shore. Its wash pushed the bottle almost to her bare feet and then fell back, as if afraid of its own offering.

Caroline brushed her sandy hands on her skirt, wiped her eyes carefully, and picked up the bottle. She yanked out the salt-wet cork and shook the bottle upside-down. A piece of paper became stuck in the neck, but she used her uncut nails as pincers to extract it. It was still dry and many times folded. She sniffed, wiped her nose on her sleeve, and opened it.

“Dear Earthling, “ said the letter in a cursive script. “This message has traversed years of light and vortexes of dimensions to reach you. Thank you for taking the time to read it.”

Caroline made a noise between a laugh and a snort. Funny sort of aliens, she thought, that write in biro.

“You may wonder why we write in biro,” continued the letter, “and encase our words in a fragile glass bottle, instead of beaming it directly into your mind. This is for your own safety and comfort, two things that are very important to us.”

Well, that’s reassuring, thought Caroline. If only everyone gave that much of a stuff about me.

“We trust you will find this reassuring,” went the letter, “especially after the day you have had today. We urge you not to blame Brian. Not for everything. He was a fool, yes, who listened to his friends boasting and heard only his own insecurity whispering in his ear. That does not make what he did right, but he will grow from the experience, becoming a better person, as will you.”

Caroline stopped reading, the hairs on the nape of her neck rising as the breeze along the beach gained strength. She looked up and down the length of the shoreline, waiting for Tansy or Jessica to pop their heads out from behind a dune, pointing and laughing at their own joke. There was no one there, but the sky was turning dark and the sea was following suit. Time had gotten away from her, Caroline realised, and she needed to be home.

She folded the letter and placed it in the front pocket of her skirt, then laid the bottle carefully in the sand beneath a rock, marking the position with a piece of driftwood stabbed into the sand.

The road home was short and uneventful, but her parents cornered her when she got inside and demanded to know where she’d been because Jessica had rung looking for her and they’d expected her to be at Jessica’s and there was no point lying to them, young lady, because they’d know if that Brian had anything to do with it.

At Brian’s name, Caroline burst into tears and fled upstairs to her room.

Later, after some awkward negotiations through the bedroom door, Caroline was left alone, lying on her bed, arms folded around herself, staring at her desk where her journal lay open and waiting.

She sat up, and as she did she felt the letter in her skirt pocket. She unfolded it and continued to read the looping words.

“Please don’t blame your parents, either,” said the letter. “They’re worried about you, and your life is starting to escape from the gravitational pull of their love, which scares them even more.”

They’re awfully worried about what I think, thought Caroline.

“It may seem we are overly concerned about what you think,” continued the letter, “but the truth is: your thoughts are important to us. For a thousand generations we have been at war, the Linkaros and the Bri’ann locked in eternal struggle beneath the banners of Patrus and Mal. The reasons are lost to us, but weapons we have unleashed, from the Neverborn Jezikar warriors to the soul-stripping Purification of the Tanzeem, have brought us to the brink of annihilation. So for the the first time in our long and shameful history, we have worked together to trace the origins of our mutual holocaust.

Linkaro scientists and Bri’ann aurors working side by side - we never thought we would see the day. But the truce is precarious, and there are those who would press even this fragile peace to their advantage. We believe have succeeded, that our scientists have discerned the mind of God - finding the origins of our conflict not in our own corner of the multiverse, but tied, inextricably, to you, today.

It is an odd feeling to write a letter to your creator, but such we have divined you are. Tonight, when you sit down to write our story in your book of dreams, remember our words, and let yours be filled with peace.

Linokaro Solus and Pri Bri’ann

Caroline checked the other side of the letter, but that was all it said. She lifted it to her face, squinting, but there was nothing but a scent of something that could never be familiar. She put her hand down, and stared at the journal across the room.

It lay there, open, empty and waiting.

Caroline moved to the desk, closed the journal, placed the the letter on top of it and began to write.

Before the winter dawn had come, Caroline crept through the front door of her house - mindful of the step that creaked. She hurried barefoot down to the ocean, where she found the bottle and its cork, marked by driftwood. She took the letter, with its handwritten reply, and folded it down the lines already scored. She placed it into the the bottle’s neck, and tapped it, then poked it until it fell to the bottom of the bottle, which she then corked.

With every ounce of strength she possessed, she threw the bottle back into the ocean. There was not enough light to see where it landed, but she heard it splash in the distance. She slipped home as the day awoke, sending a text to Brian, asking to meet him before school to talk.

Years of light and vortexes of dimensions away, Linkaro Solus and Pri Bri’ann received the reply with dread and anticipation.

“What does she say?” asked Pri Bri’ann

Linkaro Solus turned from the receptor to look at him directly. “She says she’s sorry. For everything.”

They held hands in silence as the possibility of the world approached zero.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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RunningIntoWalls posted:

I am going to personally apologize to the judges and the people who decided to crit my vile first attempt (and second attempt). I'm am so very sorry about this and will sit the next few prompts out. Maybe send some would be submissions over to the Fiction Advice thread.

Apologies have no place in the Dome of Thunder. Sure you fought and then died, horribly, like a pitiful insect being squashed by a poo-encrusted shoe, but you don't have to avoid the 'Dome as some sort of penance. If you want to improve, a much better penance is to toughen your napkin-like chitin with 'Dome deadlines that will give you an incentive to keep writing - widely regarded as a superior method of advancement than thinking about writing, promising to write, and imagining winning writing awards/universal literary adulation/true love through your deathless prose *combined*.

With the number of Entrants each round these days, it's actually a lot easier to see trends in terms of what works and what doesn't...if you apply a little elbow grease. So read the other stories, read their crits and learn from those as well. Stop in on IRC and ask if anyone will give your sub a quick run through to spot any obvious horrors. The proper response to sucking is not to withdraw but to SUCK LESS. If that's what you honestly want to do, there will be someone to watch your back in the arena (and provide another body to clamber over on your way to the top).

People have crawled their way back from the Losertar to win the Crown of Thunder, and their victory is all the sweeter for it.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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In

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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wordcount: 1060

Clean Cut

Mister Duffy of Ascot strolled to the corner of the immaculate living room and took a long, languorous piss on the Persian carpet. James turned to Mister Duffy’s chauffeur, his face a horrified grimace, his equilibrium shattered. “I’ve only just cleaned,” he said.

“He’s marking his territory,” said the chauffeur before picking up the kitty-carrier and heading for the door. “He’ll be lovely once he settles in. I’ll be back on Wednesday. Oh, and The Boss says to say ‘thank you’ for this.”

The enormously elongated car screeched away down the suburban street, and James’ mind whirled, analysing the chemistry of the situation. Arming himself with a basket of paper towels, baking soda, white vinegar, dish-washing liquid and Hydrogen Peroxide, James removed as many traces of Mister Duffy’s act of domiciliary consecration as he could before the stench of cat pee set in forever. Once done spotting, soaking and cleaning, he began scanning the surrounding floor area with a black-light, looking for residual spray. Satisfied that there was none, he turned to address the uncouth interloper, who watched from James’ vintage turntable with a considerable lack of interest.

“It seems,” said James, “that we have gotten off to rather a bad start.” He packed his chemicals neatly into the basket and approached the turntable, keeping his face level with Mr Duffy’s. “Never mind. Nothing that can’t be fixed with an open mind and a little give and take. I’m James, and welcome to my home.”

Mister Duffy of Ascot yawned in James face, his tiny pink tongue curling at the edges.

“One of which you may not be aware,” said James, ignoring this lack of etiquette. “I run a tight, clean ship here. There are rules. Many of them are unwritten, but if they were ever to be put on paper, the first rule would be Do Not Urinate On The Carpet. It may interest you to know that the carpet is Persian, much like you, so really you’re just pissing on your heritage. Let me introduce you to the litter-box in the kitchen.” He moved to the hall door, pausing at the threshold to look behind him.

Mr Duffy of Ascot, a look of extreme concentration on his face, was having a poo on the turntable.

“Christ!” yelled James, racing for the rubber gloves.

Much disinfectant later, when Mister Duffy of Ascot finally deigned to investigate the kitchen, James took stock of the living room. What was truly surprising, he thought, was the amount of cat hair that got everywhere in such a short period of time. It was on the couch, the mantelpiece and the windowsill plus the carpet itself. Still, thought James, this, at least, he could handle. He had cleaned up a lot of things for The Boss, using his talents and predilections to render a multitude of crimes invisible, and a cat should be a doddle by comparison. At this very minute a dust-buster was hanging in the hall, just waiting for such a challenge.

James grabbed it and was joined in the living room by Mr Duffy, who scratched vigorously, creating a cloud of fluffy hair. James shook his head, and went to the other side of the room. He pulled the trigger on the dust-buster and let rip, kicking its engine, which he himself had modified to a brutal efficiency, into high-pitched gear. The fur departed from the realm of the living-room and disappeared into the whining innards of the machine and he marvelled at the power and convenience of the device. If Mister Duffy was at all disturbed by the loudly vanishing remnants of himself, he showed no sign.

James finished the mantelpiece and waved the his magical, dust-busting wand over the couch, the windowsill, and then the curtains. Mister Duffy remained where he was, alternately licking his haunches and watching the proceedings with an undisguised contempt. After much manic movement, James switched the machine off and took a look at his handiwork, crossing to the couch only to discover it again covered in cat hair. The mantelpiece, too, could be seen shining with silvery white fluff. Hair was stuck to the window as well, and the curtains.... James turned to face the cat in astonishment

Mister Duffy of Ascot licked his anus at him.

James sped to the hall, and grabbed the Cyclone-Vacuum from where it hung beside the dust-buster. He pulled its trigger, and the deep, satisfying growl of finely tuned machinery went almost unnoticed. Instead, James hurried back, and applied the full force of vacuum science to the entire room - walls, floor, furnishings. When he passed the nesting tables, he switched on the parked Roomba with his foot, reasoning that this was not a time to quibble that it wasn’t capable of a truly deep-clean. Then he scooped up the dust-buster with his left hand, and applied to anything that was within reach.

Mister Duffy finished attending to his bottom and moved warily away from the Roomba and the noisy, man-cleaning-machine hybrid. James could see the fur shedding as Mister Duffy walked away, practically leaving a trail along the carpet. He moved to intercept, vacuuming, dust-busting, attempting to will the Roomba to follow him with the very power of this mind. As he got closer, Mr Duffy moved away, ambling from one corner of the room to another, with James following each time, mechanically inhaling the detritus of Mr Duffy’s passing.

They had circled the room almost three times, shedding and sucking in turn, before James was hit by a vision that shattered the boundaries of space and time and consciousness. James saw himself as an irresistible force of cleanliness, Mr Duffy of Ascot was an immoveable object of mess - there could not rationally be two of them residing in the same universe, and yet, here they were, locked in an eternal cycle of fluff.

James stopped in his tracks, turned everything off, and stared at Mr Duffy of Ascot. Then he went to fetch his razor.

On Wednesday, after the Boss had left, the chauffeur picked up the wrinkled, denuded Mr Duffy of Ascot and nudged James with his foot. A small pulse of blood came from James’ over-shaved neck, dribbling into the pool already staining the carpet. “Pity,” thought the chauffeur, as he looked up the number of the second best cleaner on the payroll.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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in

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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wordcount: 1107

Falling Angels

We gathered on the hillside to watch the angels fall. The light from their burning wings lit our faces as we craned our necks to see them. Behind me, someone sang hymn in a thin and reedy voice. Another, deeper, joined in and before long most of the congregation was united in song beneath the glittering procession. Katie squeezed my hand, and I bent down to reassure her, to straighten the bandanna that was slipping from her beautiful, smooth head. She laughed at my concern, and pointed at the sky.

“Look,” she said,”that one is gonna land here.”

I followed the line of her finger to the tiny figure far above, motionless while the others passed across the sky. It slowly grew as we watched together, hardly daring to believe it - but Katie wasn’t the only one to notice. The noise of the crowd rose around us, loudly wondering what miracle was in store for us. We’d all heard stories of the wonders when falling angels landed: the dead returning with smiles and stories of paradise; bountiful harvests in lands of drought and poverty; whole towns ascending to heaven in rapturous explosions of light.

I knew what I’d ask for if an angel came to us, if my prayers reached the ears of one who could make them real. The dead had lived their time, and we had food enough, but Katie wasn’t ready for Heaven just yet.

The angel was close enough to make out details, a perfectly sculptured figure, twisting and tumbling in space. As it came closer its flaming wings cast shadows across its features, and the night sky behind it became harder to see. Around me people were kneeling, praying, speaking in cacophonous tongues. The angel fell further, now size of a man, but it must have been miles away yet. How huge could it possibly be up close? Katie was tugging at my hand.

“C’mon,” she said. “It’s gonna laaaand here!”

I realised what she meant, and we spoke to the people around us. “We’ve got to leave - it’s too big - we don’t want to be underneath it.” When that didn’t work, Katie and I tried shaking them, kicking them, pulling them up from their knees, but they shook us off and swore at us. I glanced down the slope of the hill, and saw the fast retreating backs of a few gatherers who had come to the same conclusion as us, but the rest, I realised, would have to save themselves.

Katie and I ran, hurtling down the grassy hillside, over the fence at the bottom, and as far across the neighbouring field as we could. I looked over my shoulder, just for a moment, and saw the angel, giant against the heavens. So huge, so impossibly huge. It had wrapped its burning wings around its body, in some final attempt to protect itself from impact, but the immense heat, which even I could feel, etched agony onto its perfect face. It was gigantic and silent and pale as ice, but its mouth was wide in a noiseless scream.

The angel landed, smashing against the crest of the hill. The earth shook in deep, violent shudders and Katie and I were knocked to the ground, desperately crawling further away while keeping the hilltop in view. The angel was so gigantic it took many seconds before the entire form finished its thunderous fall, its massive torso coming to rest down the slope we had just descended. Its head, beautiful and smooth, lolled like its neck was broken, and its fiery wings were extinguished in the cloud of dust that followed its impact.

All was still. All was quiet. I got up, pulled Katie to her feet, and we hobbled, then jogged, then sprinted toward the angel. Even from this distance I could see its eyes were still open and I knew I had to reach it before the light left them. We must have looked pitiful climbing that hill, neither of us larger than its finger, waving ineffectually at the swirls of dust and singed feathers. But we climbed until we stood before its face, before its pain. The angel’s heavy eyelids struggled to stay open but its impossibly blue eyes were still moving, watching our ascent.

Katie tugged at my sleeve and I tried to speak but here, when my prayers could finally be answered, no words came out. Katie huffed in exasperation, looked to the fallen angel and said, “Please mister. I don’t want to die of the cancer. Someone has to look after my brother. He’s uuuuseless!”

The angel’s expression changed. Anguish still on its face, but something else was there now, perhaps a smile, unbidden but not unwanted. I could not hear anything but the sound of the night wind but a voice rose within me, loving and reassuring.

“Little ones. To everything there is a season. A time to every purpose under Heaven. A time to be born. A time to die.”

Katie nodded, and her grip on my sleeve relaxed but I grew angry. This was the same platitudinous nonsense we’d had from doctors, from family, from our congregation. If all an angel could do was spout more of the same, then what the Hell use were they? I finally found my own words. “That’s such garbage. So what if there’s a time? Why does it have to be now?”

I watched emotions creep across its face, understanding and sorrow and even anger to match my own, mixed with the pain. We heard the voice again, deep within ourselves.

“Because Heaven has not yet fallen. And so we must hurl ourselves against its walls with all our might.”

The brilliant sapphires went dark then, the heavy lids closed. The body of the angel seemed to shimmer for an instant, then slid into translucency. It seemed I only blinked and this giant being had disappeared, leaving only a cracked and broken hillside to say it had ever been there at all. Members of our congregation, wandering dazed and forgetful in groups of two and three, began to approach us.

We don’t speak about that night, to each other or anyone else. Katie went into remission, and has been clear for six months, but neither of us want to tempt fate by trying to guess why exactly that might be. The last time she went into hospital, she took the children’s bible the congregation had given her, and kept it by her bedside the entire time. If anybody asked her about the large, singed feather she used as a bookmark, I didn’t hear them.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Prompt number LXXXVIII - The Wise Fool

I wrote terrible stories in which cats' bottoms featured prominently, I churned out entries where bottles had more character than my characters, the literary headlines ran 'Fumblemouse Fumbles Again'. Oh, how foolish I seemed! What I figure of fun I had become! But now I have reclaimed the Thunderthrone in a rain of glorious giant angels.

It may surprise you to learn that this was my plan all along.

This week's prompt is to write a story about a wise fool. It can be a literal court jester, like Touchstone, A holy fool, like Nasruddin, or something of your own devising, so long as it fits the prompt.

Also, your story must contain a citrus fruit, because you need your 5+ a day.

WordLimit: 937 words
Judges: Fumblemouse, Some Guy TT and [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE AND WIN A FABULOUS PRIZE IF YOU HAVE A WIN OR COUPLE OF HMs].

Sign ups close Friday 11:59pm EST
Submission in by Sunday 11:59pm EST

The wisdom of foolish crowds

Phobia
Jonked
WeLandedOnTheMoon!
Starter Wiggin
Gau
tenniseveryone
Paladinus
leekster
The News at 5 (Fool is on the idiot box)
Sitting Here
docbeard
Sir Azrael
RunningIntoWalls
Quidnose
ZorajitZorajit
PootieTang
Grandmaster.flv
Nethilia
Thalamas
docbeard (fool is an expert at malapropisms )
Kalyco
That Old Ganon (Toxx)
Whalley
God Over Djinn
Turtlicious
kurona_bright
nickmeister
Bushido Brown
Hocus Pocus
perpetulance
CommissarMega
Schneider Heim
Tyrannosaurus
Benny the Snake
Kaishai
crabrock

Fumblemouse fucked around with this message at Apr 14, 2014 around 03:17

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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I totally forgot to ask for volunteers for co-judging. It's easy work, and at almost no point will you have to read thirtytwenty-ish stories that will make you weep for the world you find yourself in*. Plus you get a free biscuit**. Any takers? PM me or send a stamped, addressed email to my username at gmail.

*Almost no point. Maybe one point, tops.
**Offer not valid in biscuit-hating districts like the one you probably live in

Fumblemouse fucked around with this message at Apr 8, 2014 around 20:21

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

The News at 5 posted:

In, and could I get a flash rule please?

Your fool is on the idiot box (e.g. tv, youtube etc)

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

docbeard posted:

Also I would like a flash rule for my foolish wise story thing.

Your fool is an expert at malapropisms

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

sebmojo posted:

If you post, you enter the round. If you want to poke Benny there's another thread for that.

Slap him down, Fumblemouse.

The clouds part and the scintillating ThunderThrone rumbles into view. Its light is blinding, and atop the glow are what appears to be mouse ears, but whether they are real or plastic you cannot tell.

WHO DARES AWAKEN THE JUDGES FROM THEIR COMFY TORPOR BEFORE SUBS ARE EVEN CLOSED?

Oh, 'Mojo. Very well - here is the judgement.

Benny the snake: Brawl or brawl not - only you will know if you are ready. Any decline, death, or existential angst arising from that decision is the fault of the Universe at large and The Judges accept no liability.

gently caress da Mods: You're hard enough to poke fun at people on the internet, but not hard enough to enter the ThunderDome? Weenie. Put up, enter properly and live forever in glory - or go back to E/N and continue to ween.

Sebmojo: For attempting to know the Mind of the Judges, you gain one WIS (the wisdom to never do that again) and lose 30 SAN. Your next entry is flashruled: Must be written from the POV of an insane person.

The ThunderThrone trundles away and the clouds roll back in like grey, woolly dice on a table for playing some game involving dice.

Fumblemouse fucked around with this message at Apr 10, 2014 around 23:22

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

Accepting judging duties is sufficiently insane. Sebmojo is the third judge. You fighters better bring your A game.

Fumblemouse fucked around with this message at Apr 11, 2014 around 10:10

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

Martello posted:

This, but as a gender identity

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

Sign ups are now closed.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

Less than an hour remains to get your manga octopusses up and out.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

That's it, boys and girls and protoplasm. Time is up, pencils are down. Now sit quietly until the judges have read over this mountain of waffly drivel and ascertained who is the least cringe-worthy.

If you failed to submit - you are barely worthy of this notional plegm I am currently considering hoiking in your direction.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

Ladles and Jellyspoons - The Envelope Please


This weeks prompt was like a morality play unfolding before our eyes. The cast list went something like this:

The Evil Villian:
Leekster - that's some Eye of Argon level overwriting right there, whatever the gently caress you were writing about. For you, the molten crown of the losertar.

The League of Dishonourably Mentioned Henchpersons:
Turtlicious Eww, it's fat and it sweats and it eats doritos. Where do you get your ideas, Mr Writer? A fat stereotype with the heart of a stereotype? Brilliant!
That Old Ganon - I forget how many times I had to read this to make sense of it. It did not get more fun each time.
ZorajitZorajit - your protagonist is so bad-rear end that all she has to
do to prove it is babble on about what a bad-rear end she is. Now that's what I call bad-rear end.
Commissar Mega - this was a big waffley lack of story.


The Honourably inclined:
Whalley - A comedy tale that actually made a judge laugh - no mean feat considering how much pain we were in this week.
Kaishai - an interesting take and well crafted fruit fiction. Had a couple of headscratching moments that kept it from the win
Crabrock - a tall tale that grew (our blackened, twisted hearts three sizes) in the telling.

The Savior and Redeemer
Nethilia - A story in which the wise fool didn't come out trumps, or perhaps how a foolish person became wise. Your blend of the real and the ambiguous wins your place on the ThunderThrone.

Nethilia - the prompt is yours.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

In

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

Some crits from the Wise Fool round

Turtlicious - HamBeast

So - I am led to understand there is a Goon thing to do with blobby computer users who eat Doritos and live the stereotype. I wasn’t aware of it when I read this, but that’s the risk you take when using in-jokes in the ‘Dome. I will have to take this at face value.

You start off with just a description of a gross, unclean dude doing the computer thing. It’s well realised, but there’s no hook to grab the reader - we’re looking a a stereotype but there’s no hint of a story.

The irony of the advice ATH (needs to be capitalized everywhere) being potentially more appropriate for him than farmgirl7 seems interesting, but you never really go anywhere with it. Similarly, the advice he is giving seems to be a collection of common cliches from Ask Metafilter - there’s no sense of what farmgirl7 might actually have written, except that ‘she’ is kind of in a bad way - but it’s overkill. If you’re trying to portray a real problem, then you need to tone that back.

Finally, with all this stuff set up, what happens in the course of the story? What changes for the protagonist? Nothing - he is exactly the same person as he was when he started, a slobby dude with bad personal hygiene living on the computer. In any journey, the protagonist needs to be changed somehow - but here we have no idea if we’re supposed to be revulsed by the guy because he’s a gross sweaty fatty or cheering him because he called the cops. Conflicting messages, turtlicious.

Sir Azrael - The greatest of fools


This story starts off badly. The leader starts shouting as he see the city, and then the army behind him starts howling - even though they presumably can’t see the city yet, which seems dumb. We learn that the army has shiny armour and crimson capes in the third sentence which might be an important detail but turns out not to be at all, so ...so what? Finally we we learn that our protag has come to restore the King’s Order, which is an ‘interesting thing’ that you probably should have opened with.

Your fool shows capability, but suffers from over-competence. Just as a character that is omnipotent is not very interesting, an opponent that is unstoppable is similarly so. If the essence of story if conflict, then there has to be some chance of both winning or losing in order for the stakes to matter.

The ending here doesn’t really fit. Theogren has come with an army, and it seems like he’s just going to give up because he was bested by a deft acrobat. If he applauded and then had ordered her peppered full of arrows and crossbow bolts with a “Greatest? Certainly top three” type bon mot, you might have been on to something. But as it is, you have a surfeit of details that don’t add anything to the story, and a lack of depth where you do need detail.

ZorajitZorajit - The Hyena


Stories consisting of people saying how cool they are are not actually very cool. You end up just wanting to punch the character in the face for being a prat (yes, even girl characters).

You start out with half an anecdote. It is resolved at the end, but to start out with it and it not making any sense until we get more context at the end is not a good move, as it just seems random and bizarre. It certainly doesn’t convey anything about that chracter at this point, because it’s unfinished. Everything else the character says conveys exactly the same point, so it’s not even useful in that respect. When we do finally get the end of the anecdote - it doesn’t provide any clarifying detail - it’s just another example of Ms Bitch being a bitch, which you’d already conveyed.

There doesn’t actually appear to be a fool in this story. There is an unpleasant capitalist, but I don’t know if that really counts. At no point are any of her failings really shown to be foolish - she’s too busy ‘winning’ in the drugged up Charlie Sheen sense.

I have no idea how the story actually works - when all you’re using to tell it is quotes from the character’s mouth, those had better be easy to follow, but this reads like a completely unfunny satire of a wall street drama. There’s no actual jokes, just extremes involving babys and cocaine, or something. So I have no idea if this is actually a clever idea badly explained, or just some crap you pulled out of your arse - As a reader I assume the latter because there’s no reason not to.


Commissar Mega - fool’s throne -

It starts off with a poem, and not a good poem either. “There once was a…” should start off a limerick and not much else; Come to pass doesn’t really mean ‘died’ in the same way that ‘passed’ did; and the rhyme scheme doesn’t look particularly intentional. It could be some obscure one, but it mostly looks like you just half-arsed it and made it up.

This story is almost entirely digression - now digression can be useful if it imparts some information about the story or places the surrounding activities in another light, but here the digression has completely consumed the actual story and prevented it from being intelligible,

Your fourth paragraph says ‘It starts with’. Here your subconscious was definitely trying to tell you something, because you should almost certainly have started your story here. And then told the story, because I still have very little idea what was supposed to have happened. I’m not even going to guess because it’s just that impenetrable.


Schneider Heim 3


I was a little bored by this story, but compared to the previous lot it was a breath of fresh air. It was clearly written, had some recognizable characters, and got to a recognizable end.

So the magical school has been done before, and if this was sub-Hogwarts, it could just have easily been The Worst Witch or something. I don’t think you did anything particularly novel with the concept, which is a shame, because Potter and Hubble could do with some re-interpretation.

Witches that can learn magic but can’t perform it needs some clarification, presumably they can’t perform it ‘from birth’, or innately, or something, but why would innate witches need to go to school?

The forbidden passageways are completely limp - there is absolutely no sense of transgression or danger.

It’s lovely that they made friends and all, but seriously, this is kind of twee. Why did this need to be a witching school? What did that bring to the table? the witchery seems mostly set dressing, to be honest. I think, in this case, the set dressing was a bit more interesting than the core of the story, which is a sure sign that you need to rethink your actual plot.


Tyrannosaurus - South Georgia, 1935 4


Terrible title, but a briefly entertaining interlude even if you telegraph the result something horrific (albeit at the ‘Everybody knew where I was going’ line, where anyone who has ever read a story knows what’s following). I think you tipped your hand here too early. When your story has so few moving parts, it’s hard to pull off a successful misdirection

It’s more like a bait and switch operation than a wise fool, but it’s an interpretation of the prompt that kinda works, so I’ll let it slide.

I actually think this could work better if you fleshed it out. By going into interesting/amusing detail about what he was going to do to horace greene when asked by each person for example. It’s got more of a quick jokey kind of rhythm here, but needs to be more of a shaggy dog story.

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Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


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Grimey Drawer

A Policy Of Perfection

They had engraved Arnold’s name incorrectly on his gold watch. “To Ernold Hemmingsworth - On the Occasion of His Retirement after 40 years of Dedicated Service to Public Policy.” Typical Sarnfield job, he thought, snapping the timepiece shut and taking a hefty swig from the 'DMT' beer the lads in Tech had recommended. Total lack of attention to detail. Just wait until it’s my turn to speak.

Sarnfield stepped back and smiling members of the department stood around the cafeteria, clapping politely or, in the case of the lads from Tech, cheering. Arnold recognised only about five of his fellow policy wonks, and the rest of the assemblage, he assumed, was here for the free booze. He took a moment to despise their cheaply bought sentiment, but managed to muster a grin and a veneer of thankfulness as he motioned for them to be quiet.

“Thank you for the kind words, Mr Sarnfield, and for this beautiful watch. I will surely think of you and your contributions to the Department every time I look at it. Now, I don’t want to interrupt your fun...” He indicated a wide trestle table topped up with discount beer and wine. “...but I did want to say a few, final words before I left the department.”

“First off, I would like to say what an absolute pleasure it has been to work here.” Arnold paused, wiped a bead of sweat from his brow, took a breath and continued. “I would like to, but, alas…”

Arnold trailed off. Behind the rows of embarrassingly polite smiles were giant jeweled footballs in the far corners of the room, bouncing quietly with unfathomable expressions on their faceless faces. They dribbled fiery rubies as they tried to catch his eye. Arnold coughed and looked away.

“...but alas, I fear that in all my forty years I have never…”

His own voice slowed down like a record on the wrong speed. The spheres were closer now, floating peacefully just behind the crowd, whose motions also seemed to have decelerated. “Do not be afraid,” the orbs whispered in his mind’s ear, spraying a waterfall of diamonds as they did. “Do not abandon your sense of self. Whatever you do, do not give way to amazement!”

The crowd surrounding him finally froze into rigidity, some eyes mid-blink, some hands with bottles paused mid-swig. The scintillating balls were hopping from frozen head to frozen head, towards him, and he could feel how excited they were to see him. “Look,” they called to him with their mind words, “look at what we have to show you!”

They sang a harmonic chorus, elaborate, each high-pitched voice a facet of pristine sonic crystal. From within them, tiny policy documents sprang into existence, small but perfectly formed. The documents filled the air around him, accompanied by crystalline laughter and a cascade of grass-green emeralds.

In his heart of hearts, Arnold knew that he had never written anything half as close to perfection as a single one of those gently wafting policy documents. He grabbed at them, afraid that they might dissipate back into dream, but they just floated around his hand, leaving trails of glory in their wake. Yet he could sense their every detail, their infinite precision - each an intent blissfully wedded to meaning “I have never come so close to perfection as this,” he gasped in amazement. And then his heart of hearts gave out, and Arnold Hemmingsworth fell dead.

The crowd took a moment to react, but remembered it for years afterwards as one of the most gracious farewell speeches they had heard.




wordcount: 600 (because drugs)

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