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perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

After a long absence, in for the week. And .

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perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Drifting - 766 Words


The sea surrounded the wooden lifeboat. A harried looking man sat in the middle of the boat, his only company the gutted body close to the keel. He passed a knife between his hands. The moon rested in the clear, cold sky.

Three days before, an albatross coasted feet above the ocean waves, passing within arms reach of the boat. Bernard managed to stand and reach for the bird, but the dingy nearly capsized at any motion. It glided away.

He awoke from his half-slumber, jolted by a racking cough. Every burst of breath burned in his throat, long hoarse from coughing spells. Hands covered his mouth, strangling an end to the fit. Then it was silent once more.

A gasp sounded from the darkness around Bernard. His eyes searched the waves for the origin of the noise, spying a pair of arms waving for help in the air. He grabbed for the oar and began rowing.

“Hel-, -m drown'. -n't swi'.”

He was closer then, making out a waterlogged figure dressed in a torn white shirt panicking in the waves. He reached out at the man with an oar.

“Grab on, I'll pull you to the boat,” Bernard said.

In that inky darkness, Bernard saw the man grab for the oar. His hands didn't find purchase. They sank into the waves. Bernard reached deeper into the
water, hoping to save the stranded man, when a pair of hands grabbed the edge of his lifeboat. The thin man dragged himself into the boat.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, my name is Henry and I thank Christ for you sailor.”

“Welcome to paradise.”

-

“You said your name was Henry, right? I'm Bernard. How did you get out here?”

“It's a tale. We were crossing with the trade winds, and I leaned over the side to try to catch fish. Next thing I know, the drat wooden rail gave way. Boat kept goin'.”

“Jesus.”

“What about you, good sir?”

Bernard glanced over at the corpse resting in the keel. “Mutiny.” He locked eyes with Henry and continued.

“Once, I was on Hispaniola. This big idiot Scott kept bragging to the barmaid, telling her how troubled his last trip was. How his buddy got scurvy. How the
captain wouldn't set down for shore leave. Bellyaching rear end. I looked him in the eye and told him about a real damned voyage.”

He took a deep breath and let it fog out into the night. “We were crossing in summer and hit the doldrums. The fish wouldn't catch. Weeks of eating biscuits, wormy lovely biscuits, and we were starving. One of the midshipmen even boiled his leather hat. One night, I look under my cot and find a shriveled up dead rat. You know what I did? I ate the bitch raw, so nobody else would beg me to share. Scot didn't say a word after that.”

“What's that got to do with the mutiny?”, Henry asked.

“I thought I knew what hell was. I told that story all over, but this? If I get home, I won't be telling a soul.”

A thin smile marked Henry's face. “What the devil are you grinning at?”

Henry gestured to himself. “At least you have a boat.”

-

The two men sat in silence in the pitch of the waves. The moon set, and the sky began to brighten. A gasp for air rocked the boat as Henry began retching. Curling away from the horizon's light, he held on to his chest. “Bernard, thank...you. This may be a bit ugly.”

Water spurted from his mouth into the sea like a fountain. Bernard looked on in horror at the side of his companion as he vomited clearly into the ocean. In the morning light, he could see Henry's gray skin and hair. Bernard made the sign of the cross over himself as his thin companion started to fade into translucence. He stopped vomiting water and turned to Bernard, his face just as gaunt and desiccated as the corpse resting along the keel. His lips pressed together as he sank through the boat.

Bernard wept. He grasped the hilt of his knife and twisted his wrist toward himself. As he pressed the tip of the blade to himself, he heard a faint whisper, “Bernard, I didn't fall, I jumped.” A pinpoint of blood welled up on his arm. “Purgatory is worse than rotting flesh.

He shrieked and threw the knife into the ocean. An albatross glided overhead toward a tall ship on the horizon. Bernard dumped the corpse overboard and screamed to hail them. The ship turned.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

Thanks for the crits critfolk.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Almonds - 1053 Words

At the wake he seemed asleep. His rosy cheeks and youth still carried through, though his breath was silent. When she looked at him resting, she noted a faint bitter smell. The next day, the funeral passed like a thick fog. With air perfumed with lilacs and roses they lowered Roland down. Her love now rested in the ground, covered in a simple wooden casket by the weight of the earth above him.

She needed answers. The oracle's home was softly lit, smelling faintly of beeswax. The two women sat together at a small table.

“Isabell, child, what brings you to me this night?”

“I know something terrible happened to Roland. I need to speak with him.”

Whether the oracle's face showed either deep compassion or sadness, Isabell would never know. She handed her a small cloth bundle. “Take this to his resting place. When you light the candle inside, he will come to you. But be quick. The dead are in many ways like mortals.”

She returned to the grave carrying the sack the oracle gave her. Kneeling at the headstone, she pulled out flint and started to light the candle. Though the night was damp, it caught quickly. A green glowing smoke emitted, forming the shape of a man in the fog.

“Roland, is it you?” Isabell asked.

A small hole opened near the top of the figure. Terrible can't breathe can't breathe.

“Oh God! What happened to you?”

Drank it it was nutty and bitter drank it hurts.

Isabell shook with fury.“Who did this to you?”

The smoke began to dissipate in the breeze. Jealous one one who is coming to you. Love, love you. The smoke withered away into nothingness. Goodbye.

Her hand tensed, crushing the sack. “Goodbye. But know I will avenge you.”


She awoke from her cot in the morning to a knock on her door. A young man waited at the door holding a bouquet of lilies.

“Good morning. I brought these for you.”

It was the son of the mayor, a wealthy man who owned a large number of apple orchards surrounding the town. He worked overseeing the fields of his father's largest orchard. A year before he had asked her to a village dance, but she politely declined.

“Hello, John.”

“It was the least I could do. I picked them for you this morning in the garden. I'm so sorry for your loss.”

She placed the flowers in a vase near the door. Her eyes tightened slightly when turning away from him. “It's been terrible, yes, but I think I will be alright again soon.”

She waited until night to search the farm. Hundreds of barrels filled with apples packed the barn, but a search revealed nothing suspicious. The house lay dark in the distance, a thousand yards away. Isabell began walking toward the darkened home when a breeze picked up. And in it, she scented the faint bitter smell that lay on her love's lips. It did not originate from the house but from a small shed in the garden. She lifted the bar from the door and entered slowly.

The room reeked of the bitter compound. She grasped about the closed room until she found a small lantern. After checking to make sure no light would escape, she lit it. Mounted to the walls were not just the normal tools or gardening but sieves, pots, and things that resembled cooking equipment. A small bag of dried apple seeds rested on the floor next to a table, on which lay a leather bound book and a pestle half full of a bitter powder.

It was a journal. Her name dotted the pages, written over and over again. She checked the last entry. She read the scrawling writing, 'I've done it. I put a pinch in his beer and he's gone. I brought her flowers this morning and she was happy to see me. It'll be better for her to be rid of that fool. This is my chance.'


John awoke in the morning to find a letter pushed under his door.

Dear John,

Thank you for the lovely flowers you gave me. You were so kind yesterday. It's been so hard after the funeral, I need someone to talk to. I work on my loom everyday and can't keep my thoughts from racing. Can you meet me by the fallen tree north of town at noon to talk? I'll bring some food so we'll have something to eat.

Can you please keep this a secret. I wouldn't want anyone in the town to think ill of me.

-Isabell


A little before noon John left his farm to meet Isabell. He found her in a small clearing near a stump, sitting on a red woven blanket. She had already poured two glasses of wine.

“There you are John! I brought us lunch while we talked.”

“You needn't have done this for me. This wine must have cost a fortune.”

“It has been a good year for my loom.” She offered him a slice of bread as they both sipped their wine. He enjoyed the moment, finishing the glass before speaking. “I'm so sorry Roland passed. But know your not alone. I'm here for you.”

Isabell replied, “Is that why you killed him?”

“What? I never could do that.”

She looked away from him. “Last night I found a journal. I looked at it for hours, I hardly got any sleep at all. But even if I turned you in, you're father would just cover it up.”

“Isabell, if you think-” He clutched at his throat.

“You know, I always had a good sense of smell. Before you got here, I sniffed your wine. Not even a hint of bitterness.”

He collapsed to the floor, his eyes lockeing with hers. She rolled him off the blanket while he continued to writhe. Tears streamed down from her eyes, but she continued to glare at him until he was silent. Redness welled up in his cheeks. He looked as if he was merely sleeping.

Three days later she heard that John's body had been found in the woods, but not much of it remained. The wolves had gotten to it first. She returned inside and spun wool for her loom. And at night she lay flowers on the grave.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In, with a wish to be blinded with a flashing light.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Likewise could use a crit Seb.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Clipped Wings - 574 Words

The scientists placed a small bird back into its enclosure. “Goodnight, Einstein.” The crow looked back at them through the cage, responding with a faint caw. The lights were dimmed, and the humans left for the night. The crow was alone again.

The lock on the door was fairly complex for an animal cage, but it opened to Einstein's trained beak. He hopped across the room on his claws, ignoring test equipment and the abstracts on corvid research plastering the walls. He found his treasure carefully hidden behind a lab counter. Years of searching had recovered only one book to read. Small black eyes flicked over the bite imprinted cover of the King James Bible.

Closing his eyes he began a prayer in his head. God in heaven, grant me freedom. I have seen my brothers outside, yearning for your message. Give me the strength to leave here, or the strength to carry on. But nothing came. He hid the book away once again, and returned to his cage. For a time, he slept.

-

Looking down below him, the sun set on a park. The sky was filled with his fellow crows, moving to a place to rest for the night. Waves of them passed over the over fields, moving to a destination far away. Then Einstein felt his wings lose their grip on the sky. Slowly, he sank to the ground, flight feathers issuing forth from his wing. He cried out to his brothers and sisters in caws, but they left him alone and behind in the darkened grass.

On the ground he flapped his wings to rejoin the others but was stuck. The hissing of cats surrounded him. “Oh lord, give me the wings to fly away with my kind,” he thought. A white bird descended upon him.

-

He was a chick again, with his mother. A crowd of people surrounded their nest. He could see himself being torn away from her, being raised by the humans. They rewarded him for their tests. His belly was never empty, but he could never fly. Then he was alone in a field again, starving.

No worms, no insects, no seed to be found. Dig as he might, he could not escape hunger as his constant companion. A voice called out from the night, “How can you live without them to feed you? You know not what you want.”

He shuddered in his sleep. “This isn't the life I want. They treat me like a toy, but don't notice that I know more than they think. I know not how many years I have left, but I want to spend them out there and not in this cage.”

Again, a flash of white.

-

He stood before a giant black bird in the sky. The brightly shining being opened it's maw, cawing at Einstein. “I am the angel of judgment. Your time is now.”

“What for? I have done no wrong.”

The dark bird arched toward him with wings spread. “A sinful bird blaming the world for his cowardice.”

“Am I to lay down and die for no reason? I was made in your image. I deserve to fly.”

Einstein's felt a sharp burning pain in his wings. The bird faded away.

-

He awoke from his nightmare. Stretching his wings, he felt different. His clipped feathers had regrown. And the lock on the window looked much like the one on his cage.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In so in.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

So yeah, family reasons busy blah blah really waited way too long to start this.

Add me to the list of next time toxxers.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

We're Always Smiling at Bachanal Station - 894 Words

An eye at the end of a long green tentacle crested over the counter, looking squarely at the barkeep. “Long voyage, now here. My quarters, unacceptable,” the alien said as he pulled himself up to the top of the bar. “My people, giving allowances for your inferiority. Unless rectified, leave.”

The bartender's face cringed slightly at the whistling tones emitting from his guest. The Jreel had mastered human speech in the same way a parrot would. Lacking vocal chords, they spoke only in whistles. “Griff-tal, your enjoyment as well as your crew’s is our highest priority. We'll do whatever we can to make your visit here enjoyable.”

“Sulphur need, Garret. Increase weight quarter mass.”

“We'll have everything sorted out shortly.”


Griff-tal rolled himself away. One of the staff motioned to speak to Garret and led him away from the clamor of the taproom. The doors sealed behind them and the busser began ranting. “Those drat octoball bastards have no respect. Tell me you ain’t giving into them captain. The drippings that come off them clog up the bots-”

“Lieutenant Bryce, in case you haven’t noticed, we aren’t in the military anymore. And we sure aren’t holding all the cards. What’s the word from Hernandez on replacement scrubbers?”

“Nothing on the station left to hold in the carbon-dioxide. One week, maybe two.”

“Let’s hope the Jreel hold up their bargain. Get Hernandez to spin up that upper ring and sort out the sulphur. We meet in one hour.”

Bryce stood, waiting for something. “Dismissed”


Returning to his bar, he eyed his clientele. Tables packed with the rollers, all rolling up small balls of a fermented black mold before placing them into their beaks. Clicks and the occasional screech filled the bar. The station would smell of rotten eggs for days. Griff-tal could not be refused. One of four docking ports were occupied. The Jreel ship had been the only visitor to Promethean Station in weeks. If Griff-tal took his ship out without paying the docking fee, the oxygen scrubbers wouldn't get replaced. If the oxygen scrubbers didn't get replaced, the thirty-nine occupants of Promethean station would suffocate inside a standard month. Assuming they didn't starve first.

Sulphur? If Griff-tal demanded a blood sacrifice from Garret, he'd have the crew draw lots.


The meeting began late. The senior staff of the station were lost in a boardroom designed more for large scale command briefings and less for small group discussions. Most of the smaller meeting areas were already hastily converted to living and recreational quarters for visitors to the station.

“An alliance with the rollers?”

“Look, this isn’t my first choice. We still don’t know what happened to shut off our jump tech, and this station was only designed for exploration repair and resupply. We aren’t sitting on a hydro-bay like Gram Station over Mars.”

Hernandez saw no better opening. “It gets worse than the scrubbers. Deck Epsilon is empty. I’ve been gumming up minor patch jobs, but the next meteorite hit will close a third of the station.”

“Then we need to move.”

“We’re within a few light years of Malne. Enough aliens vacation there that we might be able to make a profit and barter for spares.”

“Sir, those slimeballs don’t respect anything but credits. We’re broke. We can’t pay enough to get towed to Tycho!”

“Well then, we better get richer. Get out the docking logs.”


Griff-tal rolled himself into the meeting room, assuming a position opposite of Garrett. “Hastily summoned. Present.”

Garrett began the pitch. “We have been grateful for your continued business over the last year. Trade with your people has always been most welcome. But, I feel it is time for something more. A partnership.”

Griff-tal presented a stoic face even to those familiar with Jreel tells. To the humans present it was undecipherable. “Unclear, provide reasons.”

Chief Hernandez began to speak. “Our position here is only on the outer trade routes, but we have made a significant profit in the past two years. With your extensive trade network, a partnership would be a good investment, as long as we move to a more central location.”

A whistle. “Profit? Confusing poverty. Records?”

“You look those over. We’ve had a busy cycle. The Jreel are the finest traders I’ve seen. You bring the supplies, we’ll bring the hospitality, and we’ll both get rich.”

A keen eye scanned the officers present. “Overlook will.”

“By all means. But we need to be towed to Malne.”

“Confer will.”

The green ball curled in its tentacles and rolled out of the room. “Do you think that worked?”

“We’ll know soon enough.”


The Jreel ship undocked. The assembled command staff scanned the vessel as it powered up. Plasma lines on the ship surged with energy as the station was encapsulated in a green glow. The station shook violently.

“What the hell was that? Those tents are gonna rip this place apart!”

“Well, we’re either moving to Malne or moving on to the next life.”

The stars shifted as the station glided through the cosmos.


A blue marble grew in the distance. The viewfinder became crowded with green hills and white sky. Hails in many languages passed between the station and the smarm of ships around the planet. When the first docked, they were greeted by a grinning Lt. Bryce.

“Welcome to Bachanal Station. Enjoy your stay.”

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Midnight Special - 972 Words


The city lay before them. Strange how a single star can steal the eye, and change the shape of the night. Light traveling eons through the cold emptiness of space finally reached their eyes. The two men let their legs dangle in the breeze as they watched it flicker red in the night.

“Hey Jim, you reckon we’ll find work?”

“Town that big, be lucky if they don’t beat us before they jail us.”

“Been all over these states. Can’t stand being locked up.”

“Least they serve black bread there.”

Neither heard a man come up to them. “Jim, Rob, we’re getting a game on. Got any coins?”

Jim’s hand reached into his pocket, not for the dime or the pennies but to rest on his harmonica. “Couple pennies.”

“Me too. Feeling lucky.”

The moonlight shining in the freight car was barely enough to make out the faces of the cards. Jim couldn’t see the wear, but the cards felt as rough as the shirt on his back. He made sure to cut the deck when it was offered. He had been a drat good poker player in years past. Five miles later the pennies were gone.

The game continued without him. He moved away and pulled out his harmonica, looking at the red star in the sky.

Cold cold country, getting brighter every day.
I say it’s a cold cold country, getting brighter every day.
Lord it’s freezing here, but I still do pray.


The harmonica punctuated the stanzas with a short riff. He continued his blues.

My wheat gone dried up, went and blew away.
All my wheat done dried, dog gone blew away.
God it makes you wonder-


He was thrown into a crate as the conductor applied the breaks. His body bounced off the box. The harmonica fell out of his hands onto the wooden floor, sliding further down the car. One of the players yelled out, “What in the hell, heard the yard was three miles from town!”

The train rolled to a stop. From the floor, Jim could see the track lined with gruff looking men holding lanterns and truncheons. Railway security. Pinkertons.

Jim was stunned. He hid from the lights in the narrow space between a crate and the wall. Most of the men ran. Tripping over themselves in the night, they ran right into the line of men holding batons. The Pinkertons grabbed them. Rob tried to fight through and was rewarded with a strike to the back of his knees. He was quickly subdued. Three of the guards swept through the train with their lanterns, missing Jim’s hiding place. One guard wearing a silver bull buckle noticed a glint on the floor. He picked up the harmonica, looked it over, and pocketed it in his jacket. The three went outside. Confident they were gone, Jim peeked out the door.

A guard wearing a gold star addressed the captives. “Bet this ain’t what you came to town for. Y’all probably thought you could jump a mile before town and mosey in for a handout. Just walk up to Miss Parker on Main and ask for a pie. Well, we don’t want your kind here. Hobos ain’t welcome in Maybury. You gentlemen don’t seem to get that. Boys, time to get educatin’.” It was a fierce beating. Six men held up and thrashed by a mass of brutes. Kicks, punches, and sticks pounded them. One cried out for mercy. The lead guard delivered a strike to his temple that left him limp. Robert’s shirt was spotted with blood. Minutes passed before the guards grew tired of the assault and threw them to the ground.

The lead guard signaled the train driver to continue on. He chuckled to himself. “Well, I bet you learned your lessons. Best not let us see you in the county tomorrow, or we might not be so kind.” The train started up with Jim on it, but he looked at the man with the silver buckle. A hundred feet down track he picked himself up from a roll and began to follow them.

He trailed the men back to their guardhouse. They spent the time chewing snuff and laughing at the faces the men made as they beat them. The guards split into four shacks at their camp. Soon the lights were off and the men were asleep. Jim waited for what felt like an hour. Silver buckle was in the far left cabin. He sweated as he approached the door. Through the door he heard the faint sound of snoring. Jim reached to open it. Locked.

He crept around the back of a cabin, finding a window open in the summer night. Jim crawled into the room, hearing the floor creak under his feat. They didn’t wake. The man with his harmonica slept further down the wall. His jacket rested on a chair just feet away from him. Jim’s hand shook as he checked the pockets. He found it in the third one. The room was silent as he crept back to the window. His torso leaned out as he brought his legs up and through. He managed to get one outside when the sil cracked, rolling outward under his weight. He hit the ground with a thud.

“What the hell?”

“Huh? I’m sleeping.”

“Something from the window.”

“Just fixed it yesterday.”

“You did a poo poo job.”

Jim crawled away. He followed the tracks to the train depot. In the morning twilight he jumped a train heading away from town. His hand reached into his pocket, resting on his harmonica. He pulled it out a blew a chord. Dented from the fall, but it still played a nice tune. The sun rose on a new day, just like any other. It was done. Not well, but close enough.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In

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perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Will be MIA this week, like the lowest of the low.

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