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A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

In it like a virgin for the very first time.


A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

The Last Letter
1,197 words

Gravel crunches underneath Mads’ feet as she plods toward the mailbox. The mailbox is a half mile from the house, facing out onto the main road. The trees provide some shade from the late summer heat, but she’s still sweating through the cotton of her dress.

The mailbox is empty when she gets there, but a cloud of dust in the east heralds a vehicle on the way. Mads sits down on a large, flat rock, sprawls out like a lizard sunning itself, and waits.

“Howdy, Mads,” the postman says. “Hope you weren’t waiting long.”

“Just got here.”

“Not too much today. Few things for your ma, and just the one letter for you.” He looks the envelopes over for a moment before handing them over. “It ain’t from your fella, if that’s what you were hoping for.”

Mads hasn’t her from her fella in nearly three months, now; she hasn’t seen him in longer. He’s off fighting in the war. She’d be more worried, but she never liked him much anyway. Sometimes she feels guilty about how little she worries. The postman, her parents, her friends all seem to think she’s going to wilt and wither away if she doesn’t hear from him soon.

No one even asks about the other person she’s always writing letters to, though it’s these letters she looks forward to most. The envelope is written in the same familiar scrawl, with the indecipherable return address. Unlike her boyfriend, Anil is cultured, exotic. He knows a lot about science and art, and they’ve had lively debates about poetry. He’s always sending her poems she’s never heard of by unknown authors; at the library, no one’s been able to find anything by any of them.

The one thing she’s not clear on is where he’s from or how he gets her letters, when she has to guess at his address due to the illegible return address.

She trudges all the way back home before opening the envelope, hands shaking with excitement. This time, though, there is no letter. She furrows her brow at what is there - a set of photographs, printed on something thin and plasticine. The pictures are brightly-colored and in slightly stuttering motion.

She tries tilting the topmost picture from side to side, but determines quickly that it isn’t a holograph. The pictures are moving, just like down at the theater in town, only there’s no projector to explain them.

“Whatcha got there, Mads?”

She about jumps out of her skin as her brother comes up behind her, draping one arm over her shoulders and leaning over her to look at the pictures.

“Aw, buzz off,” she tells him, pushing him away and clutching the moving pictures to her chest.

“Naw, let me see. How were those pictures moving?”

“They weren’t moving, you’re just dull.” She clutches them closer, hurrying up the wooden steps to her room.

“Lemme see!” Her brother follows hot on her heels. “What’re you hiding?”

Mads says, “I’m not hiding nothing, I just want you to leave me alone. I ain’t even had time to look for myself yet. Maybe I’ll show you, maybe I won’t.”

“Fine, whatever. You want to leave your dear brother out of the loop, that’s fine. It’s all right.”

Mads rolls her eyes, and shuts the door to her room in his face. She locks it, then finally gets a proper look. The pictures are baffling - vehicles that look a bit like airplanes, but with no propellers and stubby little wings, flit through the air like birds, cheery little people sitting inside them. Then there’s a picture of a big blue and green circle on a field of stars, spinning slowly with fluffy white things drifting across its surface; it takes her a while to realize it’s probably a planet. A big, big planet, with three moons around it, and continents shaped like nothing she’s seen on a map before.

She takes in a deep breath. The last picture looks a bit like a person, if people were grey and only had three fingers. The figure in the picture is waving, trunk-like snout curled up in a way that somehow conveys cheerfulness. Mads feels sick.

Sitting down, she begins to write her final reply.


“You think she’d still marry you?” Anil asks, picking up the perfumed pink envelope with his trunk. “I mean, this letter’s kind of crazy. I don’t think she’s into you anymore now that she’s seen you.”

“Aw, come on,” Enil whines. “She has to be. She liked me plenty before! Are you saying I’m ugly?”

“I’m not saying you’re ugly, I’m saying she thought you were human, and you weirded her out.”

Enil scowls at the piece of paper. “I should go visit her in person. It was just a bad picture.”

“She asked - and I quote! - ‘Are you some demon? What hells have you shown me? I ask that you please do not write me again unless there is some good explanation for this witchcraft.’ It’s not going to work out.”

“Your brood plans aren’t going to work out. Shut up.” Enil grabs the letter from Anil, and nearly eats the paper before remembering he wants to read the letter at least once more before disposing of it. “I photograph bad anyway. Clan-teacher always said I sound better than I look.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Yeah, well. I’ll pay you if you’ll charter a ship and come to Earth with me. Cheaper if you do it; you’re old enough they don’t crank the prices up so high.”

“Fine, fine.”


Gravel crunches underfoot as Mads goes to the mailbox, hoping this time she’ll get a letter from her fella. Instead, as she’s getting the envelopes out, a bright light shines down from the sky. A huge metal object floats above her.

Mads screams, fainting as she’s beamed aboard the ship.


“Aw, hell.” Enil prods at her face. “Look at her nose. poo poo. gently caress. What even is that? What happened to her?”

Anil frowns deeply, picking up her hand in his. “I think that’s just how they look.”


“You’re the one who wanted to marry her.” Anil snorts, puzzling over the coarse weave of her dress. Compared to the microfilaments of their own garments, the threads seem unbearably rough.

“Let’s just - put her back. Can we put her back?”

“That’s going to gently caress her up. She’s going to tell people we kidnapped her or something.”

“Not if we put her back!”

“I don’t know, dude. I’m pretty sure you hosed up. Whatever. Fine, we’ll just leave her. Who cares?”

“I feel kind of bad.”

“You’re the one who got all obsessed without even seeing her,” Anil points out. “I bet she’s not even the right species. No way are these guys related to us.”

“You’re probably right.” Enil lets out a long, mournful trumpet amplified by his trunk. “This is, I swear, the absolute last time I try writing to a chick on a prison planet. That’s it. I’m done.”

“Just like the last three times you said that? Whoever said ‘an elephant never forgets’ never met you.”

“Shut up!”

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013


A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

HopperUK posted:

Here's my entry. No flash rule.

Protect and Survive (1165 words)

Since docbeard kindly gave my story a crit, I decided to pass on the savings and values to you, Hopper UK!

Short version: some of your sentences drag on and your main character never does anything, but there are some cool details and a solid concept that could give rise to an actual plot. The transmissions from the past and future felt suitably eerie, and I just wish Annie had some way to react to them besides noting that they happened and waiting for the next one. Actual efforts at protecting and surviving would have gone a long way towards helping this - as it stands there's almost more action in the title than the story.

Full crit here.

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

Thanks for the awesome crits, Echo Cian and God Over Djinn!

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

<b>BIRD TALK</b> (1,085 words)

“I’m Jane, and I can talk to birds.”

“Hi, Jane,” the rest of the room choruses. She looks away, staring at the wall. The others wait.

Jane heaves a sigh, and looks back at the rest of them. There’s Edgar, the friend who told her to come in the first place. He can make polka dots appear on things. Willard, to his left, can bag groceries perfectly on the first try, even blindfolded. Another woman turns on bricked cell phones with a single touch, but can’t restore lost data. “Just birds.”

“Well, that’s not so bad a power,” says a woman to her left who hasn’t spoken yet. “I mean, it sounds nice, unlike mine -”

“Shut up, Laura.” Willard tosses a chucked up ball of paper at her. “Let the girl talk.”

“Birds are just really stupid, it turns out,” Jane says. “And sort of mean? They mostly just yell a lot, honestly, and spring’s the worst. All they say is how bad they want to gently caress. It’s awful.”

“What about in the morning? Can you make them shut up? You should come ‘round mine sometime,” a man says, legs sprawled out before him, arm slung casually over the back of his chair. He grins in a way he must think rakish. “I can think of ways to keep you up all night -”

Willard throws a piece of wadded up paper at him, too.

“Anyway, yeah, I just thought it’d be nice to … talk to other people with useless powers, I guess. It’s nice to meet everyone.”

The rest of the room gives her a light smattering of applause, then the woman next to her stands up, launching into a rant lasting nearly ten minutes about how terribly she’s struggled with her powers since last week, and how she thinks she might have a breakthrough that’ll elevate her talents to something useful.

No one else looks remotely interested; Jane gets the impression she does this a lot.


The woman who’d sat next to her sidles over, cup in hand. “You want some coffee?”

“I’m okay,” Jane says. “I think I might go.”

“You should stay! We’re a fun group. Better than the support group I went to back in Tulsa, gently caress.” The woman holds the cup of coffee out. Jane ignores it until the woman draws her hand back and takes a sip. “This one guy could fly. We tried to kick him out, but the facilitator was like, no, no, you can’t discriminate, we’re here to help find the use of each other’s powers, and if he can’t see it, blah-blah- loving-blah. Christ.”

“Uh-huh,” Jane says. “That sucks, but I’ve actually got to go.”

“See you next week?”

Jane shrugs. Out in the parking lot, she heads for her car but stops when she spies and SUV covered in bumper stickers - POWERED AND PROUD, ROMNEY ‘08, and a stick family.

There are some birds in a nearby tree, and she chirps loudly at them. The birds flutter their wings in surprise before flying over to poo poo on the SUV.

As she’s getting in her own vehicle, Edgar calls after her. “Jane, hey!”

She pretends not to hear, but he gets to her car before she can leave. She rolls down the window.

“Sorry that wasn’t your scene,” he says with a wince.. “I saw what you did, though, with the birds and that car? And I was wondering if I could pay you to do that to my ex?”

Jane pauses. “Which one, Steve?”

“No, we’re back together,” Edgar says. “I meant Ed.”

“Oh, other Ed.” Jane scrunches up her nose. “God, he was a creep. You actually dated him?”

“I’ll give you twenty bucks if you can get some birds to just loving ruin his car. For like a week.”

“That’s really petty.” Jane reaches out the window for a handshake. “I like it.”


She gets the twenty bucks, and a week later receives a text from an unknown number. I know what you did, it says. There’s another message three minutes later: You will be stopped, evildoer!

Jane screencaps the conversation and posts it on Facebook just to see how many likes she can get, but instead she gets her family asking what she did and her friends telling her to be careful.

The next day after work, she comes home to find that someone’s turned her sidewalk from concrete into marble. At first she thought it was replaced, but the initials some neighborhood kids had scrawled into the cement a few years back are still there.

She texts the mystery number back. What do you want?

Three dots appear on the screen, and she waits. The dots go away and come back three times before the person actually replies. Use your powers for good from now on.

You know what I do?

Control birds??? Is this the right number, I’m so sorry

Jane barks out a laugh. That’s me. Are you blackmailing me?

I can turn other things to marble, the annoyance on the other end types. Unless you get your minions to help me.

That sounds kind of evil, Jane texts back.

I have moles. Can you get a hawk or something to eat them????

“What?” Jane says. She doesn’t text that. Moles live underground??

Take care of it or I’ll turn your siding into marble too!!!

Marble siding doesn’t sound so bad, except marble’s heavier than aluminum and home isn’t built solidly enough to bear the extra weight. Okay. What’s ur address?

No one’s tried to blackmail her into using her powers before. She goes to a local park a few days later, after a series of increasingly annoyed texts about upholding their bargain; there are some hawks there who seem confused by the concept of moles. She convinces them moles are food and drives them to the given address. One perches on the passenger seat, shrieking about how fast they’re going and how loud the car is from inside.

She lets them out before ringing the doorbell.

It’s the woman from the support group earlier. “It’s you!”

“It’s you,” Jane agrees.

“We would have never let you in the group if we knew you were a villain.”

“All I did -”

“Just because your power is small doesn’t mean you can use it irresponsibly.”

“Okay,” Jane says. “Well, I’ve learned my lesson.”

The woman beams. “Really?”


Before she leaves, Jane tells the local songbirds to sing extra loud in the mornings.

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

HopperUK posted:

This is already so much worse than last week

is this the prompt?

where is the prompt. we been lookin for it a mighty long time, hopper. a mighty long time. there's a cold wind a-blowin. you better get on it.

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

I'm in! I am as in as I have ever been.

Can I get a flash rule?

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

Thanks for the crit, seb!

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

Forgive me, Thunderdome, for I have sinned. :negative:

As penance for my crime, I will do in-depth crits for the first three people to ask.

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

The biggest question I have about literally everything in your story is "why." World's angriest pizza delivery driver thinks about shooting a guy, freaks out and trembles upon realizing what a dark act he was considering, then straight up MURDERS ONE OF GOD'S ANGELS. Why the hell was he worried about shooting some dude if he's going to straight up murder an angel for cash? I assume it's cash. Is it cash in the bag? Was he especially hard up for money?

You could make this story work, but you need to think a little harder about character motivations. Show us more about why Chuck does what he does, give us a hint of what drove him to murder a drat angel. He seems surprised to have run into one, then murders it anyway, which was apparently planned out in advance. I'm so confused.

Also, you should get a DQ for erotica because Chuck sits around fingering his glock for a bit. Gross. :colbert:

Detailed crit here.

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

Gau posted:

I'll need a third rear end in a top hat to go with the second I'm anticipating soon.

How many assholes does one human truly need? This and more, tonight on NBC 5.

Anyway, your story! It was competently written, and you almost fooled me into thinking it was great. You were so close, Gau. So close.

The biggest thing is that you wrote a lot of words, told us about some times your character did or achieved things, and then rolled on by. We hear about a few decisions she makes but don't get to see their impact, since they happen in the past - Mallory and Jeremiah deciding to leave heaven - or don't get to resolve, like her helping the dude at the bar.

Also, she gets injured and has to lie around waiting to die until a dude swoops in to save her. Great. Cool. We got an angel in the machine instead of a god.

Ultimately, this feels more like the set-up to something a lot longer. For that, it works. For a self contained piece, not so much. I did genuinely enjoy a lot of what you sketched out here, though. :woop:

Detailed crit here.

A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

Starter Wiggin posted:

Yes please kind tin.

This story was such a letdown. The main character doesn't do anything. He's a Conscience, but he doesn't provide any moral guidance whatsoever because you gave him a soul too young to need it, already wasting your concept. The Soul's a non-character; dying in infancy is tragic, but it's also hard to care about a character who's done nothing and has no personality. Relying on "but a kid died!" feels like a cheap grab at sympathy that just didn't work out.

The only other character in the story ignores the narrator, apologizes, then fucks off for the rest of the story. For some reason, the narrator thinks she's really lively and exciting, and talks about her morals being a bit off-kilter but there ... and then we find out that Geneva is actually just a weirdo mute who sits around doing nothing and ignoring people who try to talk to her.

Okay? Why? What? This story reads more like a summary than an actual story. If there were more meat to it, maybe the reader would be able to care, but as is everything rings hollow.

I did like the concept and hints of worldbuilding you dropped in. Prose is competent, character voice is relatively engaging. No big grammatical mistakes that I noticed aside from a lone typo.

We could have had it all, Starter Wiggin. We coulda had it all.


Detailed crit here.


A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

Benny the Snake posted:

Hey Tin of Beans, am I too late to ask for an in-depth crit?

Can you read, Benny the Snake? Is that something they taught you in snake school? You're fourth out of three, bro.

Read this, motherfucker:

:siren: I challenge you to a brawl. :siren: If you win, I'll give you a detailed crit.

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