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Feb 8, 2014

My humble submission to the interprompt:

Behind The Dome (300 words)

“Do you ever go home?” the runner asked as he walked into the break room.
“Who can find the time,” Jack muttered, washing his mug.
“Reckon we’ll actually reach the finale? A soap opera with a finale. Weird.”
“Aye. What's your name again?"
“It's, er, Goodwin. Cooper.”
“How long have you been here, Goodwin?”
“A month. Sod’s law. First job out of uni, it’ll be my last.”
“You watch the show?”
“Nah. Not big on soaps. Me mum was. This one was always on when I got home from school. Seemed pretty silly to me. Bit OTT.”
“Working here changed that at all?”
“Not really. Actually, behind the scenes is kinda worse than the show.”

Jack turned off the tap. “What does that mean?”
“Oh, I didn't mean anything by it...”
“No, seriously,” Jack looked at him. “It’s worse?”
“Just, the gossip you hear.”
“Seriously?” Goodwin yawned. “I thought you’d worked on this show, like, forever.”
“I have,” Jack sighed.
“You never heard that, say, Edwina and Carl have been...y’know...for years?”
“Isn't Edwina married to...?”
“Our glorious director, yep. But that’s okay, because he’s been copping off with her sister the whole time–”
“Creepy, right. He went to school with their dad, too. That billionaire oil guy who disappeared a while back?”
“Better still: during all that, Alexandria’s had a thing with that other camera guy...What's his name...”
“Alan,” Jack whispered. “That's Alan.”
“Right! Which is weird, cos I always thought...”
“Alan’s my husband.”
“...Oh. Sorry, I...” Goodwin stood up to leave. “Listen, I need to get out there. Deadline’s fast approaching, and all...”

Jack slumped to his seat. He watched another solar flare burn through the sky and for the first time since it started, it felt like the end of the world.


Feb 8, 2014

In like Flint.

Feb 8, 2014

In it to win it. Or just to take part. That's what's important, right?

Feb 8, 2014

(1104 words)

Anwar floated. This was not unusual for him. It was depressingly banal. Every day aboard the Chupa-1 was more or less the same. He awoke with the ship, the lights blinking on at 6AM GMT to keep his circadian rhythms in check whilst amidst the blackness of space. He undid his restraints, drifted from his bed and propelled himself into the control room. Every morning, messages from Earth would run through on the ticker tape machine atop the dashboard. Most of the time it was simply a confirmation of his last delivery, occasionally with cute motivational quotes tacked on at the end. These would tail off as the week went on. The one he remembered best was “NOTHING WILL WORK UNLESS YOU DO”.

After that, it depended on what needed doing. More orders would come through on long strips of white paper, setting priorities: engineering work on the mining apparatus, checking the weather around the gas planet, approving the cannisters of helium. That was the one thing Anwar still paid special attention too, pressing his face against the glass as each one shot off towards the pale blue dot in the distance, floating away like a bunch of discarded party balloons. Throughout the day the ticker tape would continue to spin threads of messages, giving him updates on The Company's business which he hadn't the acumen nor interest to read. Anwar was hired for his engineering pedigree and starry eyes, rather than any sort of entrepreneurial spirit. When all that was done, he retired to bed at 9PM GMT. Tied to his bed, he stared at the photo of Bijal affixed to the wall beside him, imagining her cradling the child he had never met as he drifted into sleep.

That morning was no different. Anwar floated. He glided as gently from his quarters as the sigh from his parched lips. He took breakfast at the control desk, squeezing a tube of “scrambled eggs” into his mouth. He ticked off his mental to-do list for the day; for whatever reason, the latest message from The Company requested twice the usual amount of helium for the coming week. They principally used it in the cryogenics of the sort that had frozen Anwar for his long trip, and in the MRI machines that caught the tumour in Bijal's lungs before it could spread. He was a busy man. A man with purpose.

On this day, though, he yawned. More helium meant longer hours, meant less breaks, meant more yawning. His mind drifted not outside the porthole into the infinite vastness of inky space, which had long since lost its allure, as the mundanity of day-to-day space travel often caused it to. Instead, he thought of the latest book he had borrowed from the ship's library – Greek Myths – and how it would go unread for most of the week. His attention snapped back at the whirring of the ticker tape.

“Jesus,” Anwar's voice cracked as the message ran through the machine onto a short piece of paper, landing limply into his hands. It read simply: WAR.

He fell backwards, pushing himself off the control panel and slowly wafting through the rounded corridors of the ship. He stared at the message, in bold black print. From what little news he could glean from the machine's previous messages, there was nothing to indicate that conflict had broken out anew. He had hoped, in fact, that it had finished, since it had long since departed the shores of his country. Blood pounded in his ears, the only sound in the entire ship. He thought of the photo. He knew what he had to do. He also knew what he wanted to do.

His first option, as he saw it, was to stay on the ship as it continued its orbit, mining helium at an increasing rate, helping to fuel whatever it was The Company needed to end the fight back home as quickly as possible. In that way, he would not only help to secure his country – and his family's – safety in the present, but also the future. That was where the logical part of his brain was trying to tug him as he hovered, hesitant, in the hallway.

The second option was to disconnect the ship's mining apparatus and make a beeline straight to Earth. In his haste the gas planet's helium resources would be lost to mankind forever, as they evaporated into nothingness above the atmosphere. There was the risk of poison, too, if he did not extricate himself from the mining mechanics properly. But if he was fast enough, there was the chance he would get home in time to meet his son. A different part of his brain pulled him this way, and he was inclined to let it.

He kept the single-word declaration, the shortest he had yet received, in his back pocket as he worked. Usually the ticker tape was dumped back into the ship once read, the communication regarding his current workload recycled and absorbed by the Chupa-1's engines to fuel his future workload. He forgot most of the messages from The Company almost as soon as he had read them, but that one quote still remained with him: NOTHING WILL WORK UNLESS YOU DO. At the time it had made him think of Bijal, of his son. It was the same as he began to dismantle the huge machines that had been collecting and storing helium-3 for the past three years.

He ripped power couplings from their source, unscrewed and bashed connections with his wrench, and felt the sweat of real work on his brow for the first time in months. The beads floated around him along with the loose screws and cables as he finished tearing the ship loose of its mining machines and prepared himself for what would come next.

Anwar floated. With protocol breached, the ship went into a kind of meltdown. He knew that such a break would mean an instant return to Earth, but he didn't know the computers would give up providing him with the lights imitating day and night, regular mealtimes, or any other basic comforts. He didn't care. He just strapped himself to his bed and prayed and looked at the photo and hoped he would get home soon. He hoped he would get there at all. He watched the stars whizzing by.

In the control room, the ticker tape machine burst into life, concluding the message that Anwar had hastily torn off halfway through receiving. The smeared black ink read: IS OVER. NEED MORE FOR BALLOONS. CELEBRATE!

Feb 8, 2014

Entenzahn, I am doing you a favour. I liked the basic idea of your story but it sure did feel like a first draft. Feel free to crit me Schneider, if you fancy.

Edit: Didn't mean to step on your toes, Sitting Here!

Entenzahn posted:

White Vision
477 words

The ground sways harshly.

I'd say in most cases to follow the Elmore Leonard rule of no adverbs. Ever. Considering this opening line is evocative whilst keeping an air of mystery as to the setting, "The ground sways" works fine.

Entenzahn posted:

Outside of her cage, men in puffy jackets make noises at each other and move their arms as they argue.
"Make noises" is a weird choice of phrase here, especially when you then confirm that they're arguing. Is it because they're talking and the bird doesn't understand them? Are they really just yelling noises at each other? Needs to be a little more concrete - consider saying they argued, conversed, earlier - or be vague in a less weird way - like saying they spoke, or talked to each other. I like the non-verbal communication of them waving their arms about, maybe be more specific again as to what they're actually doing, since "moving their arms" could mean basically anything.

Entenzahn posted:

One of them points at her. A leather hand opens her cage and takes her out.
More weirdness. You're specific about one of the men being the one to point at her, but then "leather hand" - is it someone with a leather glove? Someone with a leathery hand? Be more specific about how she's "taken out", too, since that phrase has different connotations. You have the room for some description here, even; he "gently leads her out" or something like that.

Entenzahn posted:

She is stroked, whispered to, shown a small roll of paper.
Given she's a bird, why would she be "shown" the paper? The past-tense shift is a little clumsy, and also doesn't make it clear who's doing the stroking/whispering/showing. Is it the one guy who pointed at her? Is he the same guy who opened the cage? Or are all the puffy-jacketed men joining in? "He/they strokes(s) her, whisper(s) to her, gives her the message."

Entenzahn posted:

The man slides it into the container on her leg.
A container that's part of her leg, strapped to her leg, or what? Again, which man is this? I think their might be a more elegant word than container you could use here, too.

Entenzahn posted:

He gives her a kiss on the forehead and opens the door.
The kiss on the forehead is good, but hasn't he already opened the door and let her out of the cage a few lines ago? Or is this a different door, in which case, I don't really know what's happening.

Entenzahn posted:

The see outside is rough.
*Sea. Also, this is some telling not showing. Don't tell us that the sea is rough, describe it; then you can counterpoint you description of choppy waves or w/e with your description of the sky above.

Entenzahn posted:

Even down on the surface she can feel the winds.
This might be a good time to "reveal" what they're actually on (boat? ship? reading further on, er, a plane?), rather than saying "surface". On the surface of what? The Earth? It also doesn't seem surprising that you can feel strong winds. Instead, just compare her experience of the swaying to the wind from above: "The ship/boat/plane(??) rocked harder above the choppy wave and below the winds whipping down." Obvs something better than that, though.

Entenzahn posted:

Heavy clouds race across the sky.
I don't know what "heavy" clouds are. Clouds tend to be pretty light. That's why they float. And race.

Entenzahn posted:

A bad time to be up there, but it is not her choice.
Again, telling not showing. I mean, we know ourselves from your description of the sky that it's a bad time to be up there. Have her cower from the weather, or otherwise be reluctant.

Entenzahn posted:

The leather hands throw her in the air and she does what she knows. She does her duty.
Again, leather hands or leather gloves, and who do they belong to? Use a better word than "throw", too, otherwise I think of GOB tossing a dove into the sea in Arrested Development. "Launch"?
I like this in its own little para, nicely done.

Entenzahn posted:

She pushes her wings to gain height, ascending away from the floating metal bird.
Wait whut. "Floating metal bird?" So she was on a plane all along? Then why all the talk of the sea? Why would a plane keep a messenger pigeon? That is misleading and also a goofy description. I think you have to commit to describing everything from the bird's point of view - ie not knowing what the men are saying, that they are men, what the sea is, that she has a duty, etc - or else quit it with this.

Entenzahn posted:

The invisible force pushes her back, but she has been trained, and she is strong.
Again, we already described the wind so she must be aware what it is, so "invisible forces" is just a bit silly and confusing. Are you talking about the wind, or some actual invisible magical forces? Who knows?

Entenzahn posted:

She climbs, approaching the black clouds until she can almost touch them.
This is the first I've heard about any dark clouds. Swap the "heavy" clouds of earlier for "dark" clouds and then you've got something to refer back to.

Entenzahn posted:

Up there she flows through the current.
"Up here". We're following the bird's journey, not watching it from below.

Entenzahn posted:

The stream changes constantly.
What with "current" and "stream" this might be a good time to talk about the sea again? Compare the going above ground to below? Then it leads well into the next bit.

Entenzahn posted:

For a second, the wind disappears. She falls.
"She begins to fall" has a more gravitas and also leads into you describing the fall. Otherwise it just looks like a punchline of sorts.

Entenzahn posted:

Circling through the air, she manages to adjust her wings and to glide, still down, but slower now.
Given this is, basically, the first big dramatic scene of the story, maybe expand on it a little. Put her in more peril, make it seem more dangerous, show her struggling to adjust her wings and glide rather than it just happening.

Entenzahn posted:

Below her, water crashes against water. Drops land on her feathers.
See, mention the water again just before this and you make introduce the threat earlier and make it all the more worrying as she heads toward it. Maybe go for something more than "drops" landing on her, though, cos that just sounds like she's been caught in a light drizzle rather than being close to a tsunami pulling her under.

Entenzahn posted:

She can’t land here. She will drown.
No need for the second sentence. We know that's why she can't land there. We know how water works.

Entenzahn posted:

She must find —
See where I liked the line break for "She flies", it doesn't feel as earned here. Describe the wind? A sudden gust? I dunno.

Entenzahn posted:

She soars back up and flies. To glide against the wind, to keep away from the see is tiring and it takes hours for the coast to appear, but she knows where to go.
So we get her taking off described in detail but then a few hours pass by with no description? Give us a little something, c'mon. Also I thought the wind was helping her, but now she's tired due to gliding against it? When did that happen? Also, *sea. Again.

Entenzahn posted:

Soon she flies over the beach, over treetops, hills and green fields.
"Soon"? I thought this had taken hours? Also if it's "the" beach it should also be "the treetops, the hills, the green fields". Again, you're missing the opportunity to do some nice description here and again, is she a dumb bird who doesn't know what a plane is or is she a smart bird who can name a beach?

Entenzahn posted:

It rains. Thunder roars in the distance.
Don't need the former if we have the latter. Thunder roars. There's a storm brewing. The weather isn't nice. We get that. Again, maybe refer to the weather back on the plane or whatever it was?

Entenzahn posted:

A strong gust of wind picks her up and throws her like a bug.
That simile doesn't work. Are bugs particularly susceptible to being thrown by wind? Any more than birds? There's better comparisons you could make, rather than to just another creature. Maybe even a simile the bird might make?

Entenzahn posted:

It takes her many precious seconds to regain her composure.
If time is so precious how come we skipped over several hours not a few lines ago? And again: how did she regain her composure?

Entenzahn posted:

Up is up again,
I missed the part when it wasn't

Entenzahn posted:

but in the distance, she spots the next threat. Falcon. It changes its course.
Again, she recognises a falcon, so she's not a totally dumb bird. I also don't really feel any threat from you just saying it's a falcon. Describe it, highlight how much bigger it is than her, that it's in her airspace. Also saying it changes its course doesn't mean anything because a - We don't know what its course was and b - We don't know what its changed to until the next line. For all we know it's uninterested, or hasn't noticed her, and has buggered off.

Entenzahn posted:

It sees her.
See, we know now, but we didn't before!

Entenzahn posted:

She dives between the trees.
If she's going to do this, maybe let us know beforehand that she's flying above trees. You mentioned them along with a beach and green hills, so we don't actually know where she is at this point.

Entenzahn posted:

The falcon, fast as lightning, closes in on her.
:siren: CLICHE KLAXON! :siren: "Fast as lightning"? C'mon. Again, this happens so quickly there's not really any peril.

Entenzahn posted:

She flies between and around trunks, trying to shake him off. A quick look behind.
Birds aren't people. I don't think she'd check behind to see where the falcon is.

Entenzahn posted:

It’s still there, almost on her now.
"He" or "it"? Pick one and stick to it!

Entenzahn posted:

She drops harshly,
Take it a rule of thumb to never use the word "harshly" again. Especially don't say you got critiqued harshly.

Entenzahn posted:

surges straight towards a giant tree, dragging back up just before she smashes into it. The wooden texture scratches her belly. Behind her, there is a cracking sound.
Trees don't have a wooden texture, they are wood. Not only that, but wood on its own wouldn't scratch you, else we wouldn't make most furniture from it. Swap "wooden texture" out for "rough bark". Be more specific as to what this "giant tree" is, if you want. Also, there's a cracking sound? Does that mean the falcon hit the tree or what? You need to make that clear.

Entenzahn posted:

Free again, she resumes her course. Finally, a familiar sight. A big, wooden box. Wires. Others, like her.
From the way this reads the chase happened literally just before she was home. Give us a couple of lines of plain sailing towards her end destination at least before the "Finally, a familiar sight".
We guessed that, no need to tell us. Unless all these italicised bits are meant to be her thoughts, in which case, there should be more of them throughout. Really you don't need them at all since most of the story seems to be told from the bird's point of view anyways.

Entenzahn posted:

She glides through the small opening in the box and hops onto her stand. A bell rings. Moments later, a man runs in, and removes the paper from her leg. He reads it. He looks at her with big eyes. Then he is gone.
Okay, she knows this is a man, so therefore all the other vague descriptions in the story need to be changed. No leathery hands - leather-gloved hands - and please make it clear how many men are handling her at the beginning. Also, "he looks at her with big eyes"? What does that mean? Is he an anime character? Do you mean they're loving? Or watery?

Entenzahn posted:

She flutters over to the food container and eats. She has done her duty, and the grain has never tasted so good.
Cute ending. I'm not sure you totally nailed the premise of the Thunderdome, and it might've been nice to sprinkle in some cues as to what the message was about (were the plane people in trouble? The arguing seemed to suggest that, but the they seemed pretty cool when they were taking the bird out). Needs a lot of tidying but I dig the basic story, telling it from the bird's point of view, and some of the description. Just be a little more concrete and sure of yourself, and take time to flesh things out some.

Feb 8, 2014

Since I snuck through the last Thunderdome undetected I am already in.

Feb 8, 2014

Much appreciated!

Feb 8, 2014

Footlong (1034 words)

You've heard of sandwich artists? Well I'm an Old Master. I'm the Bosch of bread, the Pontormo of processed cheese, the Goya of great customer service. I slice a footlong in half, I get two perfect six-inchers. You can measure them if you really want. My Spicy Italians have the perfect spread of salami and pepperoni to cover the maximum surface area, for maximum taste. I go whole shifts without dirtying my apron. I can actually pronounce jalapeño. I get tips. People like me. I work fifty, sometimes sixty hour weeks. I bleed for Subway. That's why I'm not gonna let these turds rob us blind.

The guy in the balaclava hesitates when I'm done telling him this, then he shoves the shotgun barrel back against my forehead. “You know this is loaded, right?” he asks. The gun's so ludicrously long, he's like a foot away from me. It's like he's yelling at me down a corridor. I hear his partner, with the bandana across his face, in the back, keeping an eye on Dylan. He needn't bother. Dylan barely moves during a normal shift. He's not going anywhere. “Just give him it, Lee!” he shouts.
“Shush,” the bandana guy growls.

Balaclava Guy nudges me with the barrel. I can guess his age by the way he talks, by the way he walked in, just as I was closing up for the day. He's young, not much older than me or Dylan. I've been working my arse off, and just before my first day off in a fortnight, this happens. They come in here, trying to take money earned by hard-working, normal people. The entitled little pricks.

He nudges me again. “C'mon mate,” he says. “The safe.”
“I don't know the code,” I tell him. “I'm not the manager. Mate.”
“Who is then?” he asks. “Him?” He points at Dylan, knelt by the sinks in the back with a baseball bat held to his head.
I snort. “Not in this lifetime.” We're understaffed as it is, being between managers, but we'd actually be better off without Dylan. So many burnt cookies, so many messed up orders, so much stale bread. There's still some on the counter I've gotta throw out.
“So?” He swings the shotgun down towards my chest.
“So what?” I ask.
“So what are you gonna give me?” He squints at my name tag. “Leeon?”
I sigh again, my hands still in the air. “I'm not giving you anything.”
“You see this gun, yeah? You're not blind or something​?” he asks, pointing the gun back up at my head. I can see the gun. It looks big and dangerous. And nobody would hear it go off out here. A Subway at a retail park is a good place to hold up. Or it would be, except –
“This is all on camera,” I say.
“Uh, yeah, that's why our faces are covered,” he says, pointing at his balaclava. “Duh. Are you blind?.”
I continue: “This is all on camera, and it's being broadcast live to our regional office. A senior manager's watching this and has already called the police. They've got your car's licence plate from the camera over the door, too.” Plus they can see me handling this situation in a way befitting of, say, a future store manager.

“That's not what we hear,” he says. “Look, mate, I don't know why you're playing the hero. And for Subway? C'mon. Open the till, at least.”
“Look, I get it,” I lean towards him. “Times are tough. I'm a graduate, I couldn't find a job, ended up working here, and you know what? It's a decent job. You don't have to do poo poo like this.”
“Open the till,” he says.
I don't move. He knocks my baseball cap off with the barrel. It clatters to the ground.
“Lee! It's not worth it!” Dylan yells from the back.
“Shut up!” I shout back, and then I tell Balaclava Guy: “There's nothing in there. I emptied it.”
“So...where's the money now, then?”
“I put it in the safe.”
“But you said–”

I grab the yellow knife – the one for cutting the vegetarian subs – from my apron pocket and swing it up at his hand. He stumbles backwards and drops the shotgun. It goes off at the ground, shattering floor tiles and spitting smoke up into the air. The other guy shoves Dylan to the floor and comes at me with the bat, ready to swing. I duck and he smashes the bat into the fridge door behind me. I grab one of Dylan's stale Hearty Italian footlongs off the counter and club Bandana Guy around the head with it. He falls down, unconscious. When I stand up I see Balaclava Guy's fingertips have come clean off and tumbled in amongst the cucumbers. It's been a while since I used a knife like that. I peer over the counter to see him clutching his bloodied hand and sobbing beneath his balaclava.
“gently caress! Cousin! gently caress!” he cries. My feet crunch on glass. Bottles of Coke teeter out of the broken fridge door.

I have my shaking finger on the silent alarm when I feel something cold in my side. I turn to see Dylan, the feckless co-worker, sticking the green knife – the one for meaty subs – into my side. He's probably not even washed it. “Jesus,” I hear myself moaning. “Jesus, Dylan. What the...the hell?”
He shrugs, then shoves me aside. “Sorry man. Fiver an hour isn't enough to pay the bills.”
“ don't pay any bills. live at your mum's...”
“So do you,” he says.
“Yeah, well...” I'm gasping. I drop the yellow knife. “Not much longer...”
“It's nothing personal, man,” he says, raiding the till I hadn't actually emptied. “Some of us just don't wanna be stuck here all their life.”
“I don't...I'm not...” The words fade and I collapse forward. I feel something cool and wet running down my side. Maybe it's just the marinara sauce I'm lying in. I hope so. I hear Dylan helping his friends up, leaving the shop, getting in the car. And I bleed for Subway.

Feb 8, 2014

In with some sweet David Boreanaz fan fiction

Feb 8, 2014


sebmojo posted:

Pipe up if I haven't done you and you want a crit on your story from last week.

If the offer still stands, yes please?

Feb 8, 2014

Mixed Blessing (897 words)

Suzanne broke through the crowd and through the bathroom door and through the cubicle door and threw up. She slung her handbag behind her as the door swung shut. The bag burst open. Her make-up and jewellery, her phone and her purse, the pregnancy test and the condom spilled out onto the tiles.

She leant back from the bowl, cold sweat racing down her forehead, and sat down amongst her belongings.
“gently caress,” she groaned, wiping her mouth with the arm of her fur coat. “gently caress.” The light above the cubicle flickered, and Suzanne winced. She felt around for the contents of her bag, freezing when she touched the condom wrapper. The foil was crumpled and torn but it was still in there. She managed to stand, despite her shaking legs, and flush the toilet. She tried to throw the wrapper in after it, but missed. It landed on a spot of vomit that had also missed its target. Her phone vibrated on the floor. She collapsed back down and began to cry.

“Hey!” someone yelled outside the cubicle, banging on the door. “You done in there yet? Some of us were actually in line to use the bathroom!” She sounded young, drunk and angry. Suzanne body rocked as she tried to suppress her sobs.
“Yo, shut the gently caress up! Can't you hear she's upset?” piped up whoever was in the cubicle next to Suzanne's. It was followed by a hand appearing beneath the partition, holding a screwed-up ball of toilet paper. “Here,” she whispered.
“Thanks,” Suzanne croaked. Groping behind her again, she found her body spray and used it liberally around the bowl, trying to exorcise the smell of puke. She held the tissue to her nose and blew into it.

The light flickered once more, and when it came back on it was dazzling, brighter than bright. She started to feel dizzy again. Out of the light, the angel stepped. Like Suzanne, barefoot. Unlike Suzanne, not having discarded a pair of high heels behind him. Instead he trailed a pair of wings, magnificent even in cramped quarters. When he spoke, he spoke only to her: “Do not be afraid, Suzanne, because your prayer has been heard! You will bear you a son with your husband Zachary, and you shall name him John.”

She took her hands away from her eyes and looked at the angel properly for the first time. Suzanne felt very self-conscious of her hair, her bare feet, the broken strap on her dress.
“Wait, what?” she said.
“And you will have joy and gladness,” the angel continued, “and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.” He paused, looking down at the specks of sick that dotted the cubicle. The angel shuffled his pale, glowing feet atop the cistern. “Ahem. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.”
“E-Excuse me?” Suzanne continued to squint at the white light that seemed to pour from every part of the angel, his glorious wings, his china-white skin, his flowing robes at odds with the chipped tiles, graffiti-strewn partitions and stained toilet. “What's...what's happening?”
“He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

The thumping bass outside the bathroom shook the cubicle walls. The angel stood silently, perched atop the toilet, calm and still. Suzanne remained sat on the floor, trying to calculate how many drinks she had had that night, and if this had been the strangest part of it so far. Slowly, she stood, steadying herself on the door. “That...that doesn't make any sense,” she said, her lips dry. “How would that happen? Me and Zack, we tried, and now...”
And the angel said to her in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.” Suzanne opened her mouth to speak, and he continued: “But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”

Something burned through her gullet and Suzanne got ready to leap towards the toilet again, but nothing came. The light flickered and when she looked up, the angel was gone. She slowly collected her things and flushed the toilet once more.
“Christ, what were you doing in there?” asked the young blonde who was waiting outside the cubicle. Suzanne brushed past her, out of the bathroom and then out of the club.

She pulled her phone out of her bag: three missed calls and two texts. Zack asking where she was, if she was coming back, making promises about what they could do. Luke asking why she had left in such a hurry and telling her to come back to him.

Her hand was frozen above the screen. Slowly, she let her hand drop to her chest. She stared at it, and then at the phone, her face illuminated in the dark of the street, silent.

Feb 8, 2014


sebmojo posted:

:siren:Interprompt: :siren:100 words on the beautiful end of the world.

AP Chemistry (98 words)

The Professor held the planet in his hands. "Now class, do be careful. Has everybody got their goggles? This reaction is beautiful, but rather bright. We're going to introduce our little globe here to a beaker of nitric acid."

He dropped the small blue-and-green ball into the liquid. It burst into flames after shooting out a dazzling white light. The Professor smiled. "Now, you try."

"Do you hear something?" asked Ch'tai.
"Like what?" said Macluck.
"Other than the fizzing, really faint...It sounds almost like...screaming?"
"Nah," said Macluck, swirling his burning planet around. "Sure does look pretty."

Feb 8, 2014

I am in. Whether that's foolish or wise :shrug:

Feb 8, 2014

Common Ground (936 words)

The orange peel fizzed as it sank into the wet snow. Vincent carved another piece off with his penknife. He walked behind the rest of the group.

“A few grand each,” Scott explained. “Skin's worth poo poo. They're paying for the meat.”

“Eskimos.” The word whistled between Bryan's missing teeth. “Get a McDonald's for cheaper. How come they don't just hunt?”

“Can't,” Scott yawned. “Only allowed to kill so many a year. Us, on the other hand...”

“Either way, I'm not complaining,” said Lou.

“You gon' do with your cut?” Bryan asked him.

“Tuition,” said Lou, nodding his head back at Vince. “Since his mom's not around.”

Bryan blushed. Scott nudged him in the ribs. Vincent's father had sold the TV, the lawnmower, but still not the ring. It glistened on his finger in the setting sun.

They set up camp in the woods. The wind shook the bare trunks as the group sat around the fire.

“You know how we do it?” asked Scott.

“We head out early,” said Bryan. “Get 'em while they're grabbing breakfast.”

“Quick,” said Lou. “Gotta be quick. They're quick. And powerful. Straight shot to the head.”

“And don't damage the tasty bits,” Scott tapped his nose.

“You coming along, kid?” Bryan asked Vincent, sat on the ground with his knife. Bryan turned back to the group: “He safe with that thing?”

“He's not a retard,” said Lou.

“Well,” snorted Scott. Lou looked round at the comment. He shrugged.

“Ah, he's fine,” agreed Bryan. “Been fine today. Be fine tomorrow. Not like he's gonna be hollerin' and scaring them off, huh?” Vince stared up at him. With that they split into pairs and bedded down, Scott kicking up snow to put out the fire.

Lou awoke with a start, his ears ringing. He had been dreaming of her. He was the last out his tent and saw the silhouettes of the others stood around the ashes of the fire.

“Jesus loving Christ, kid!” Bryan yelled.

Scott kept asking: “Whose gun is that? Whose gun is that?”

When Lou got close, Bryan stopped pacing and nodded at him. “His.”

“What?” Lou croaked, looking back at his tent.

Bryan threw up his hands. “This little prick of yours ever fire a gun before?”

Vincent was sat on the ground, rifle in hand, smoke seeping from the barrel. He was shaking. “Go back to the tent, Vince,” Lou said. Vincent obeyed.

“Jesus,” said Bryan.

“Listen, Lou,” Scott put his hand on Lou's shoulder once his son was out of earshot. “I know about...everything. But this ain't safe. The kid...he could gently caress this for us.”

Lou didn't reply.

“You know I don't wanna...Either he goes, you both go.”

They stood for a moment, staring at each other, eyes adjusting to each other's shape in the dark.

“I need this,” Lou whispered, looking down at his feet.

“Well all do,” Scott reminded him. “We all got bills.”

Lou sighed. “Okay,” he said. “Tomorrow, you hunt. I'll...babysit Vince.”

They split off back to their tents. Before he climbed into his, Lou noticed the bullet hole in the lining. He slept with the rifle in his bag.

The next morning he and Vincent headed further into the woods. Black trees reached up across the blank landscape. Lou looked through the rifle's sights into the distance. Nothing.

Vincent walked behind him. Each time he heard the knife slicing through peel, Lou bristled.

“Stop it,” he said, quietly. Vincent was stood still behind him.

They started off again, and so did the peeling. “Stop it,” Lou repeated. “Jesus, loving stop it!” He yelled, spinning around and staring at his son. Vincent stared back. “What is wrong with you? Just stop, Vince. Stop firing bullets over my head or playing with your knife. Stop putting me off.”

Vincent, unpaused and continued to peel. Lou dropped his rifle to the ground and followed it.

“gently caress,” he hissed. “We're done. That's it.” His voice got louder. “We're done, Vince! This hunt was a complete waste of loving time! We need this money.” He held his head in his hands. “I'm glad your mother isn't here to see this,” he sighed.

The white bear was quick, breaking through the brittle branches and into the clearing before Lou could react. Steam billowed from its nose and its teeth were framed by black black flesh beneath its fur. It was bigger than Lou expected. Vince stood on the other side of it, frozen still, orange in hand.

The bear looked at Lou, who fell backwards at its growl, groping in the ashen snow for his rifle. The bear advanced on him, his mouth dry and hands numb. The bear would kill him. It would gouge him with its teeth, or else with its claws, which dug into the frost. Lou stopped. He closed his eyes and waited.

Vincent slowly, calmly, crept towards the bear, who continued towards his father. He lifted the penknife from the fruit and then, quickly, plunged it into the bear's right eye.

The creature howled. It stumbled forwards, causing Lou to scramble back further, before it took back off into the woods. Once the bear left the crunching brush of the forest, there was no noise.

Lou looked up at his son. “It took my knife,” Vincent said.


“You were wrong,” he said. “Slow. You have to be slow. Or you'll scare them. Then you can do it. In the head.” He walked over to his father and sat down beside him. “That part was right.”

Lou held his son. The hunt was over.

Feb 8, 2014

I've got nothing on this week so I'll do some in-depth crits if anyone wants them? First come, first served (I'll do maybe four).

EDIT: I'll post them post-judgement.

tenniseveryone fucked around with this message at 20:35 on Apr 14, 2014

Feb 8, 2014

I threw a ping pong ball towards a red solo cup and it went in.

PS That Old Ganon, Grandmaster.flv, Turtlicious, crabrock - crits be coming your way soon(ish).

tenniseveryone fucked around with this message at 12:39 on Apr 15, 2014

Feb 8, 2014

Pile on Grandmaster.flv time, I guess. Now with added Turtlicious!

Grandmaster.flv posted:

fuckin' lol next time I'm not writing scifi because I spent too loving long worldbuilding. Also this is my first entry ever and I am garbage at writing dialogue but no excuses. They sound a lot like excuses to me. No excuses. Just stories.

1,468 words

From this high up the skyline of the city seemed almost pretty. poo poo, it almost looked tranquil from this distance. Too many "almosts" spoil the broth. Also opening a story with a description of the setting usually spoils the broth. Don't do it unless you're gonna do something special. As you say you spent a lot of time on worldbuilding, and you don't really have much time for that in Thunderdome. The neon glow faded into this beautiful sea of lights, and unlike at street level, she didn't feel oppressed by the advertisements and billboards everywhere, shilling their waresOkay so we're near the end of the third paragraph and just finding out who our protagonist is, and that she's not narrating the story. Everything before this is extraneous. The skyscrapers seemed much less ominous from a mile above, and she could actually see the drat moon and stars for once.

And its not like she didn't have plenty of time to enjoy the view, since the drat chopper was on autopilot. She missed the feel of the joystick, and quite frankly would've just jumped in herself but "mission parameters" dictated that she run the digital side of the infiltration and let the chopper run itself This could've just been the opening paragraph, if you changed it up a little. You get character, setting, and plot all off running. Boom.

The fact that last time she was out she crashed both the company car AND the motorcycle Chairman Lito had so graciously loaned her didn't really help much but given the uh, blatantly illegal nature of her missions, something about how she was never actually caught on any of these jobs ingratiated her to the executive board EXPOSITION OVERLOAD and totally unnecessary. Also the "uh" doesn't really work with a third-person omniscient narration. If it was from her perspective, fine, otherwise it's a bit clumsy..

Tonight's mission was fairly run of the mill Nope, I do this too: don't tell the reader something thoroughly average/dull is happening, because their response will be "so why should I read about it?" It's also clearly just to set up that something out of the ordinary is gonna happen later on, like Chekov's gun, only not as exciting. Take down perimeter security, set down on the roof, bust into the datacenters, and snatch and grab and get out snatch, grab, and get out. Silently. Chairman Lito had been very VERY Nope specific about exactly how quiet it had to be Why does she keep getting hired for these highly sensitive tasks if she's so bad at it? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Her partner for tonight was this stoic type by the name of K-Roll Again: this should've come up wayyyyy earlier. The first paragraph should've been: in a helicopter, with this guy, gonna do a job, this is the job, STORY BEGINS NOW instead of STORY IS STILL BEGINNING HALFWAY THROUGH Young enough to not remember the old days. Before the self-contained company "campuses", before those companies merged, and merged, and merged again, annexing entire towns. poo poo, the kid was probably born after the fall of the US government, probably was born into one of those megaplexes that sprang up once everything went private and the US became a series of privately owned nation-states There's already been enough contextual clues that this is a cyberpunk story. It's a genre with so many well-known tropes that you don't need to run through your variations on them. You've set up that we're in Gibson territory, and that our hero's involved in industrial espionage, so mega corporations running the country is a given. No need for more world-building.

He didn't really say much I know, you already said he was stoic. That is what stoic means. They had been running recon ops for the past week, and after their initial meeting, he was strictly business. She couldn't tell if he was a pro, or just really fuckin' Again, doesn't really work shy, but either way it suited her just fine. Dude was either at his terminal or in his "cage" lifting weights or some other caveman poo poo. She was decked out in all kinds of augmentations. He seemed to be a lot more old-school about his approach to things I got the comparison between them without you having to spell it out. Also: still too much character building, not enough character doing.

They had been canvassing one of the habs, trying to find an in with an engineer or somebody who had access to the internal datanets, posing as Arbiters. It was one of her favorite covers because, to most people Arbiters were below rent-a-cop status and only existed to add more bureaucratic horseshit to the process of keeping the infrastructure going Seriously most of these paragraphs could've been boiled down to a sentence and been part of an opening paragraph, opening two, tops. Take a look at some examples of short story structures online and when you're editing, try and find the shortest way of expressing something, since Thunderdomes usually have pretty short word limits. You don't have a lot of time to tell a story and you've been wasting most of it so far. This part, for example, could just be that they have an in.

poo poo, her Arbiter uniform even had her loving proper name on the badge. "Sossa Grey, Deputy, BoostrapCorp" in nice bold black letters. K-Roll was a little harder to make convincing, but he was muscular and imposing enough that people didn't really ask many questions Wait so is this a flashback? Is this before the helicopter? Is this necessary?.

After hours of inquiries, turning up jack poo poo, one of the housewives seemed to take a liking to K-Roll, the neanderthal looking motherfucker I GET IT, HE'S BIG, and pointed us Wait what in the direction of one of the penthouse residents, one of the higher ups in accounting for Bootstrap by the name of Ellis Long, complicated sentence. Cut cut cut. We stepped into the elevator, and getting out of the penthouse, it was clear that the top of this hab lived a very different life than those below. There were actual real, live plants in the landing, and not a single advertisement on any of the vidscreens See these bits are good. These give us a feel of what the world's like without you having to do all that over worldbuilding or exposition (including tell us a sentence prior that he lived differently to most of the population)

I rang the doorbell, not really looking forward to talking to yet another useless suit. I looked back at K-Roll, who had the same deadpan expression on his face. I swear to god the kid might be retarded, but the Chairman's personnel brief had nothing but glowing commendations on his hacking work, let alone his more uh, physical abilities Wait so have we shifted from the "her" in the earlier paragraphs to "I"? Is this the same person and you just forgot which person you were writing it? Or is this a totally different person from K-Roll and "her"? I have no idea what's going on.

The door swung open, and I was surprised to see the man behind it. A fairly slim man, almost handsome if it weren't for his drat beard, dressed about as well as any of these penthouse HENRYs were greeted us.
"Evening, arbiters. What can I do for you tonight?"
"Sir, I'm from Enterprise Division. We've had multiple latency complaints from penthouse residents and we wanted to take a look at your hub"
"Oh but of course, come right in! I've been having some bandwith problems tonight and I'm glad Enterprise is so on top of things!" Your dialogue's pretty good, so maybe don't wait until the very end of the story to include some? The way I see it we're near the end and all that's happened is "Two (three?) people got given a job. They did the job." But you've stretched that out sooooooooo long.

It wasn't necessarily a lie. The particular hubs Boostrap used had a nasty tendency to poo poo themselves if you prodded them a certain way, and weirdly enough K-Roll had dropped a bug on the hab's intranet to let us play with them at will. Including this dumb bastard's Not necessary, we know it's believable cos of Ellis's reaction to the lie.

Ellis's apartment was pretty drab, even by HENRY standards. He could afford real fruit, and some of his furniture was even real wood. Something twigged me out though. A lot of these things were a little TOO Italics, not capitals nice for what was collectively a shithole Wait I thought he was a fancy guy.

He caught me staring a little too You're using this phrase a little TOO much intently at his fruit bowl. I almost got the feeling he was sizing me up almost Almost as much as you're using almost TOO much as much as I was sizing him up.
"Those oranges are organic you know" he said, slightly haughty "I prefer most things in my life to be organic. Even in this day and age of technology, there's something to be said for the old ways. Would you like one?" Okay well you've already told us the fruit is real, so either we don't need it repeated here or you shouldn't have said it earlier. Condense this poo poo.

I shot K-Roll a look as if to say "its not like I can afford this poo poo on my salary" Yeah we probably could have guessed the look and I went right in as he fiddled with the hub. Ellis was completely oblivious, prattling on about the history of that orange, how it was grown in some grove far to the south in another complex and how the taste reminded him of his old house, and how the plex was filling up with tourists and other unseemly types.

While he was gushing about his orange, K-Roll was working on the hub, dropping in backdoor that would let us commandeer all of Ellis's traffic, so we could shape his traffic and do all the intranet stuff we needed to break in. Once he nodded at me I broke in politely "Sir, it seems like my partner has finished up with your hub. Let us know if you have any further trouble"

He smiled, and as we were walking out, he followed us, carrying a scooter. Fuckin' HENRYs were intent on showcasing their wealth, and the latest trend was these stainless steel monstrosities. "I'm going out for a drink, would either of you care to join me?" he said as we got into the elevator
"Sorry sir, we're still on shift. Another time, perhaps" I said, coldly. "Oh of course, of course" he smiled as he unfolded his scooter and rolled off into the night. K-Roll burstsed "Burst" is the past participle of "burst" out laughing as soon as he was out of earshot. "That dude gives me a bad vibe, yo. Creep status"

That was the last full sentence he haid had said to her Wait so it's back to third person, after a first person flashback? NONONONONO, in the week following, and even on the chopper right now. Speaking of which, the landing chime sounded, so she got ready to move. The Chairman was right, K-Roll had done his homework because she got all the way to the datacenter without so much as a peep So the bulk of your story is a set up to what will probably be a way more interesting story. That entire flashback was totally ancillary to the action you spent the first half setting up. GAH.

He stood guard outside as she darted in and hopped on a console. She couldn't help but glance at the data she was jacking. Highly unusual, but then again this job tended to be exactly that. This time, however she was seeing some VERY stop questionable financial transactions. Almost as if somebody at Bootstrap was intentionally trying to sink the ship to leverage a buyout from my company. Not her question to ask. That being said, she couldn't help but notice a massive acquisition order for some fruit flash by. Right as the transfer finished, the console went apeshit and alarms started ringing out.

K-Roll charged in. "Let me deal with security you get your rear end to the chopper and we'll deal with exfil when we get to it. GO GO GO" Okay I take back the compliment about your dialogue. This is bad and you should feel bad.

I beat feet to the stairs BUT THEN THIS PHRASE IS NICE I don't understand you. No way I could make it up in the elevator in time. I heard K-Roll cursing over comms as security poured into the datacenter but I was too busy sprinting up the stairs to care. I burst through the doors to the roof, only to find the fuckin' chopper was all the way on the other side.

As I ran to the chopper I heard the elevator chime, and the sound of wheels, and a foot rhythmically hitting the concrete. By the sound of it there was no way I could make it to the chopper before the scooter caught up with me.

I sighed as I drew my katana Oh cool it's Hiro Protagonist.

It's an evocative - if familiar - world, but oh my lord is this not a story. Some people get hired to do a job, you flashback to tell us everything about the set up of the job, and then finally we get back to the job and don't even get a proper ending. That's not a story, that's some crap that happened. Plus you shift between first and third person for no discernable reason and have some really horrendously cliched dialogue amidst some bits that are actually quite inspired. You've got potential, kid, you just need to wrestle it down and make it accord to some sort of structure and to be a bit more original and not do run-on sentences like this from time to time. Cut it down as much as you can, read your dialogue out loud to see if it sounds hammy, cut some more, make sure you're telling a complete story, cut cut cut.

Turtlicious posted:

Here is my lovely pandering entry.

"Hambeast: The Novella" - 931 words

Oh I get it. Like the internet!

A talentless hack What a great character name sat on a stained mattress that stank of spilled Mountain Dew and cat piss. His keyboard quietly clacked His fingers clack, not the keyboard under his massive fingers joining the din in the 10 foot square room as the loud ringing of his three fans blew Do fans ring? Also Jesus what a run-on sentence, the curtains rustling around every few seconds as fabric folded over itself. His cat sat in the corner as it's its breakfast of hotdogs spoiled Yeah that wouldn't happen.

"Well, farmgirl7," He he typed, licking his upper lip as sweat started to bead Make this two sentences thanks. "In my opinion it seems like you don't really take care of yourself. I understand your parents can be cruel, but they won't respect you until you respect yourself. Maybe clean your room a bit, go for a walk, lose some weight, make yourself something better." Okay yeah that is pretty e/n accurate He tried to take a swig of his soda, but it's empty Past tense into present tense in the space of one sentence, excellent work. He discarded the trash in an ever increasing ever-increasing pile of mountain dew cans, and empty dorito bags That should be Mountain Dew and Doritos, since they're names of products, and you did that earlier. The hambeast reached for another one in the box next to his mattress. "You also might have depression, and you would benefit from seeing a psychologist. You say you're in Indianapolis, so here are some local mental health resources. I wish you all of the best." The hack Wait why is he a hack, like, I've found nothing to back up that so far scratched under one of his gargantuan tits, sloshing some of the sweat out. "And please take care of yourself, no-one deserves to live like that."

And with his usual tagline "-Sincerely, A Talentless Hack." his blog post was sent off into the ether. It had been a few weeks since he tried this whole "Internet Help Advice" thing, and he was loving it. No one knew who he was. No one judged him, told him to shower, made him comb his long greasy hair. On top of that, he got to help people. A lot of the time his advice was ignored, but ultimately he knew what he was saying was right Right so are you sympathetic to this guy or not? Because this passage is sorta written from his point of view, and makes him out to be an okay guy, and the first few paragraphs have been mocking this ridiculous caricature. Consistency pls. Also YAY EXPOSITION! We already know he likes doing it or else he wouldn't be doing it, and the lack of mockery is implicit in the comparison between his existence and his internet persona. Basically this paragraph is unnecessary.

The Hack left his room with his laptop, barely able to open the door amongst the piles of clothes, cans of soda, and general filth If you can't be bothered explaining it, I can't be bothered imagining it. And you've already described enough filth without having to tell us there's more filth. We get it. He waddled down the hall, his slow plodding steps shaking the walls as he moved at an elephant like elephant-like pace, and finally found his way to the kitchen. He openned opened up his "Golden Cupboard" as he called it Well obviously he calls it that, I didn't think his cat named it, and reached for one of his yellow delights. He openned OPENED his laptop and clicked a new entry as he started to pour the macaroni shells into a pot filled with boiling water.

"Dear ATH,

I wanted to just thank you for this last year, and the help you've provided, but I'm done. I'm done with living. I'm done with everything. If my parents ever read this I want them to know it's not their fault, just like it wasn't mine I was born the way I was. Hopefully they'll believe that. I'm going to paypal the rest of my money to you, and I've given everything I own to charity. After sending this, I'm going to steal some of my Dad's Vicodin, and finally go to sleep.

Thank you ATH,

and goodbye,

--farmgirl7" Wait you said he started doing this a few weeks ago.

"... Shiiiiiiit." ATH groaned to himself, gently caress fuckity gently caress. He panicked, his mind racing, all the warning signs were there. Stupid, so very stupid, gently caress! Where was the time stamp? When did she send this? Five minutes ago? Maybe there was still time. He sent a quick message back to farmgirl7, "Don't do anything stupid, call me if you need help or someone to talk to." and threw in his personal line. He groaned silently Yeah that's not a thing as he put his phone next to the stove and continued making his lunch. You should do more, he thought to himself, you can help. She reached out to you.

"FINE!" he yelled to no one in particular. "Ugh... just fine..." His cat had left his room and was curled around his foot as he sat down grimacing with his lunch. He popped open another can of Mountain Dew, and got to work. He already knew farmgirl7 lived in Indiannapolis Indianapolis, and he had her e-mail so the first part was easy We know this from what happens next. Without much effort he found her facebook Facebook. Luckily the profile was set to public Unnecessary. That's how he got her address. "You know, Sebastian," he said to his cat, "if I weren't doing something so noble, this would be extremely creepy."

One ring

Two rings

Three rings

Finally, "Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, where is your emergency?" the lady asked.

"Hi, my name is A Talen-" he coughed, realizing how dumb his pseudonym would sound, " Jeremy Carmicky." He hated his name. "I'm from the inter- I'm-" He stuttered over his words trying to think about what he would say. Why did it have to be a girl of all the dumb things, don't men work at police stations? He was definitely going to write about this later.

"Look, I got a suicide note from a penpal local to you. I think she's going to kill herself."

"What's the name and address, sir?"

"Kyle Johnson, he lives at 6413 Amarillo Way"

"I thought you said he was a she?"

ATH nearly exploded, "I didn't mean a she, I meant a he, and he said he's going to OD besides does it matter!?"

ATH fumed slightly as he answered the rest of her questions. He wouldn't find out for another week when Kyle updated her facebook status with what happened. The police arrived at her house after she had taken the pills and rushed her to the hospital. Now she was in therapy This is not a good ending. It's way too tidy and quick. Just have him hang up and then get that final line in.

A Talentless Hack was able to rest easy that day knowing he had saved a life.

Yeah this is...okay? The difference between ATH's online persona and his terrible home life is pretty good, and it's "heartwarming" in the way that e/n threads rarely are. There's a few things that are awkward, from the use of internet handle throughout (and the acronym) to the way that you have sympathy for the character at times when at others he's a gross stereotype that you're pointing at and laughing. This started out feeling like it was gonna be a ham-fisted hambeast parody thing and took a very different turn, and there's nothing wrong with pulling the rug out from people, but I think if you had a little more nuance and a little less caricature at the start it wouldn't put people off like it might do now. A happy ending in Thunderdome, who would've thunk it?

tenniseveryone fucked around with this message at 15:19 on Apr 17, 2014

Feb 8, 2014

More crits, now the crabrock boycott is over. That Old Ganon, yours is here too! (Also, Turtlicious, PM me if you want more feedback/to ask me questions)

crabrock posted:

Get What’s Coming
928 words

Tom’s wife and kids had laughed at him when he buried his money in the yard Good opening!. She left, took the kids and changed their last names back to hers Less good second sentence. Easily shortened to "They left and took her maiden name", takes less time and scans better to boot. His kids sneered at him on Skype and questioned his manliness Is that a thing that kids do? Sneering sure, but "questioning manliness" less so. There's a better way of putting that. The whole world laughed with them—until the trees started growing Good closing to this opener, though. You've got me hooked.

His wife piled the kids into the car and they showed up on his front porch with their alligator-skin bags overflowing with clothes and electronics Again, this could be way shorter. You don't need to tell us they got bundled into the car, just that they showed up on his porch. Also, electronics doesn't seem the right word. Also also, they've got all this fancy stuff but they've turned up at his house for money? That doesn't really make sense. He didn’t let them inside. No, Tom thought, I don’t think I’ll ever talk to them again No, tenniseveryone thought, I don't think you should ever use a person's thoughts unless you're writing in the first person, especially when we already know from him not being let in and the fact that his family were total dicks to him that he's rejecting them. His brain hurt after such a long period of cogitation. I'll bill crabrock for the aspirin, he thought again, wincing/

Instead he passed his days under his trees. Their bark shimmered like gold, giving way to twisting branches that reached out and drooped toward the ground. Buds glimmered on the tips of the branches, and dappled amongst the gold were green bills that unrolled in the early morning, wet with dew Way to bury the lede here. We're pretty sure it's gonna be a money tree, but maybe tell us that first. Also surely the family could've just come and picked the trees without having to get back into the house? How does he protect his money?

Tom took his usual early-morning stroll and plucked 10s, 20s, and 100s that hung low enough for him to reach. He trod over the withered bills on the ground: torn and ripped, serial numbers smudged, faces of the founding fathers contorted into unrecognizable horrors This is pretty good, but the last bit of description seems a little trite. It was a race to gather as many bills as he could before the desert sun baked the bills worthless The desert sun that allows trees to grow? Fantastical trees, sure, but c'mon.

He filled his bucket with the harvest until he could fit no more. With a few more people he could substantially raise his profits, but after they laughed at him Wait so other people laughed at his plans too? Other than his family? That's the first we've heard of that he’d never entertained the idea for longer than it took him to soak one bill in lemon water. In the middle of his money grove was a lone lemon tree. The citric acid stopped the aging process on the plucked bills, much like it stops the oxidation and browning of sliced apples I see Wikipedia ghost-wrote this last sentence, that's quite a get.

The only person Tom let into his orchard was Alex, the little boy from across the street, whose mother was too busy getting high to pay either of them much attention Yeah Alex needs to be introduced way earlier and be neglected for a much less melodramatic reason.

“I like you, kid,” said Tom. “You’re not some money-grubbing sycophant like everybody else.” This is not how people talk, especially not to children.

Alex looked up at him with confused eyes.

Tom laid every soaked bill out on a wire rack to dry. “When I die, I’m leaving everything to you.” Okay so presumably Tom has known this kid for a while, but we've literally just met him, and have no context for their relationship, so him entrusting Alex as his sole heir rings kinda false. The boy shrugged and helped Tom flatten the dry bills with heavy objects. Tom fixed them PB&Js 1. Write the whole phrase 2. PB&J whats? Sandwiches? Tacos? 40s? for lunch and told his stories from the war Wait how old is this dude/when is this set/what war?, reminisced about the good ol’ days, and ranted about the liberal scourge that was ruining America Not necessary, doesn't tell us anything about the character that's important to the plot.

Alex nibbled on his sandwich and listened attentively.

They watched cartoons until the boy’s mom came home This didn't need to be two separate paragraphs.

Alex visited most days, and Tom, not needing to work anymore, welcomed somebody to talk with Yeah we already know this. The boy grew up and Tom paid for him to attend the best botany program, and bought him a house with its own small orchard. Tom insisted on giving Alex a money tree for himself, but Alex refused. Alex enjoyed flying back on weekends to help Tom flatten bills, even though the old man had more money piled in his basement than he knew what to do with So Tom just stayed in his old house despite having all this money? Did he do anything with the money? If not, why did he bother collecting it? Might've been nice to find out how he spent his wealth besides using it to fund a kid to go into botany. And did he do this because Alex is into botany - which has never been mentioned - or just to force him into being good at collecting from the money trees? And why would he need to be, when Tom grew them in the first place and doesn't have a botany degree, so far as we know?

“You should at least take a suitcase-full with you.”

“No, you’ve already give me more than enough.”

“I’d rather you have it, in the end.”

“Don’t talk like that.” Well he already told you this when you were a kid, sooooo

“Well, they’re sure as hell not getting it.”

The two men stacked the bills, ate sandwiches and debated politics Again, why the politics debating? It has no bearing on the story or the characters, unless it's foreshadowing some falling out between the two, which I just checked and it isn't.

Shortly after Alex returned to school, he received word that the old man had died. They said he’d fallen asleep with a lit cigarette and burned the whole house to the ground Okay that's pretty good.

Alex knew the old man never smoked, and smiled Wait he's happy that he burned himself to death? That's...weird.

Everybody Who? but Alex brought lawyers to the reading of the will. He winced under the glares shot at him when everything was left to him. There was screaming, and crying, and promises of drawn-out legal cases.

“There is precedence of overturning a will where the deceased had been conned.”

“Family comes first.”

“I don’t want your father’s possessions,” Alex said, quieting the room. “I am thankful for the time I spent with him, and for the gifts he has already given me Sandwiches, ranting about liberals and forcing him to study botany?. The money in my investments What investments?? already make me more than I can ever spend.”

The shouts of anger resumed, but Alex held up his hand and they quieted.

“I only want one item of your father’s Is it gonna be the lemon tree, and that is his old lemon tree CALLED IT.” Alex paused, but the shouting did not resume. None of them had ever been present to watch Tom process the bills We get it, you don't need to point that out.

“Whatever, let the bastard have the stupid tree,” said Tom’s eldest son. The rest of the siblings laughed and sneered at Alex.

“What an idiot to give up a fortune.”

“Why settle for some measly investments when you could grow billions?”

“Figures that dad would take in a stray just as stupid as he was.” Who is talking here? Is it just the family? Or other people? I don't have any sense of who has come to fight over Tom's possessions, just that it's "everybody". Everybody in his family? Everybody in town?

Alex took a taxi straight to the charred remains of Tom’s house. He retrieved a shovel from the tool shed that still clung to life That phrase doesn't mean anything, and dug the small lemon tree out of the grove. The tree was short compared to the giant, golden trunks that surrounded it. It’s Its growth had been stunted by the copper and nickel in the soil, which imbued the tree’s unique fruits with special preservative properties Wait whut.

Tom’s children arrived by limo Right so again, they seem well off, why do they want his money? Idgi and rushed into the orchard, shoving their pockets full of wilted bills and drunkenly congratulating each other. They threw the keys to Tom’s old pickup at Alex. “Take that piece of garbage with you, idiot.” YOU ARE THE ONES WHO ARE THE IDIOTS

Alex nodded and loaded the lemon tree into the back of the pickup, gave the taxi driver a sizable tip, and drove back home.

Neat little modern fable that could do with some re-draftings, some clarifications and some bulking up of character roles. The ending was kinda what I was expecting but there were enough twists along the way that kept me sorta guessing. Pretty good????

That Old Ganon posted:

For Royal Recognition
(935 words)

Donning the finest armor in the duchy Uh-oh, swinging a sword polished to a mirror shine down on the necks of her enemies—or wearing the plushest gown which would shimmer like morning dew as she was paraded to the Duchess’ side This is not a complete sentence. These are some phrases which add up to nothing. I don't know what's going on and I am angry.

These thoughts fueled her legs as she lunged toward the irate Widow Who? What? Why didn't you start your story with somebody lunging at an irate Widow instead of a bunch of non-sequiturs? The fiend Wait which one if the fiend untangled her envenomed Promise me you will never use this word again maws and two screams split the air before she rushed to meet the insolent challenger. She roared when one sapling-sized leg was lopped off with a primitive farming tool, then again when she lost two, then three.

Nuri’s ears rang as she ducked from the dripping fangs champing down at the space she just occupied Oh okay she's fighting a spider. This is more exciting than either of the previous two paragraphs made it out to be. Also introduce Nuri by name earlier thanks She swung again, taking out about half Just make it half. Although, hadn't she already taken off half its legs? the creature’s pale legs while getting spattered with bitter ichor If I have to look up a word you use guess what? I'm taken out of the story and I stop caring. Again The monster still had surprising mobility despite old wounds and new, but now snapped at her back with one maw as the other threatened to deafen her.

She expected to get atop the creature when she was snatched out the air, hanging from the Widow’s heaving maw Hey I came up with a That Old Ganon drinking game, every time you read the word "maw" take a shot oh wait everyone's dead and choking on her fetid breath.

The voice of the ragged man that tasked her this in the first place came to mind, drowning out the fury of the fiend holding her. Even in memory, she could feel the fool’s low voice in her chest Okay so she's in the middle of a battle for her life but her mind keeps wandering to other poo poo? Guess what, that makes my mind wander from your story. If your protagonist can barely hold her concentration on the action at hand why should I?

“So there’re mighty among the uninitiated!” The man’s spryness had defied his age when he flipped from the dusty rail So a crazy old pole dancer tasked her with killing this spider, interesting with enviable deftness ness ness ness. “Were I thirty years younger I would be at your side, if nothing but to see the legendary trees!” Maybe you should've mentioned these trees at some point. Come to think of it I have no idea where this story is taking place. It took me three read-throughs of the opening handful of paragraphs to get that she was fighting a big spider thing

Once performing and prophesizing Boy is that ever not a word for the Duchess, he escaped with his head intact at Her mercy and resorted to busking in a country inn Wait why are we getting his back story? Why do we care? Why did he fall out of favour with the Duchess? Iunno. His uncanny wisdom became obscene babble once it soured like milk, becoming unfavorable to Her rule Okay maybe mention this earlier. At Nuri’s request, he once repeated his obscenities: the Duchess’ son shall fall ill, and no healer in the duchy would cure him.

But Nuri’s no healer Oh cool a trip to the present tense. She bellowed as she felt force crinkling her stolen armor And we're back again. “For the Duchess! For my sword!” I have no idea what's happening

She was back in the moment and drove her sickle I thought she had a sword, is she a Communist, is this a political allegory, is the Widow America into the Widow’s complex Stop using words mandibles. The girl dropped to the ground and hooked her remaining sickle Wait she has a collection of sickles instead of a sword? I guess she represents all the former USSR's states, not just Russia, let me adjust my notes accordingly into the underbelly of the Widow, running to her behind Hur hur. The scalding heat of the Widow’s insides flattened the girl’s fiery hair.

The Widow tried turning, but teetered over before she could take a final look at her slayer. Her remaining legs gave way and she dropped into the oozing pile beneath her, using her fading strength to try and pull herself together Considering that phrase tends to be used in a pejorative/metaphorical sense - "Pull yourself together!" - it doesn't work here.

Nuri backed away, then moved further through the narrow valley. The fool’s faith in her was well-placed—or did he foresee her victory? So either way he's...not a fool Once past the cocoons and corpses, she found the means to her prizes: the alluring green of a grove the Widow must’ve used to lure victims So a giant spider killed a bunch of people? That wasn't clear. I also have no idea how killing a big spider relates to a crazy dude saying a Duchess' son will die. And we're near the end of the story.

No webs blocked the blessed sunlight here I didn't realise they were doing that before. Few trees basked in the warmth, their slender branches heavy with fruit with bright rinds. Nuri reached for a not-quite ripe one, taking her travel time into account. Citrus oil eked out as she tugged it from the tree, the perfume overpowering the rotten odor about her and coaxing a series of sneezes from her. She held onto the fruit with a grimy hand, set on meeting the fool back at his old home, and perhaps her new one Whut.


Leaning against the wall was the second luxury afforded to Nuri since washing her hands moments ago. The sound of the Duchess’ son retching made her own stomach curl. She prayed he was, in fact, “purging the poison” and she didn’t Hadn't pushed him into a violent death by making him drink the “panacea’s” Eh juice.

Being forced to connect a face to the title made her feel for his situation, and not well. A boy about her age was on the other side of the door. His emaciated frame wilted into his sweat-soaked bed clothes, which made it impossible to know where he ended and the sheets started. He wouldn’t, or couldn’t, speak. It was Nuri’s first time seeing someone so ill, and she never wanted to see anything like it again So let me get this straight: an old dude said this kid would get ill, he was exiled for suggesting such a thing, except it was true, but nobody will take him seriously still, but this one girl does, and then the old dude only tells her the way to fix the kid? I don't get it.

Pessimism took her over. So much doubt clouded her mind, and she wanted more than anything to be proven wrong, to know that the boy will survive Woah now we're mixing our tense mid-sentence, EXCITING.

The heavy door opened, and the fool was followed by the scent of something bitterer Good Lord no. MORE BITTER than bile. He looked as terrible as Nuri felt, but he smiled nonetheless.

“Is he still alive?”

“He rests.”

“I'm going to see him.”

“By all means!” Hey, by all means! This exclamation mark makes it look as if I talk like a game show host!

She was past him before the fool finished speaking Wait so the old dude is still here after all? So how is he a fool? I thought he was in exile? What's happening?. Rinsed bedpans and basins lined her path to the boy’s bedside. The odor made her eyes water, but she was still able to see his drenched figure when she kneeled at his side. He breathed much easier now.

The low voice came from behind her. “The Duchess will know of your deeds, I promise you.” So...the old dude send the girl out, but the old dude was exiled, but now he's not exiled and Nuri did this secretly for no reason?

“I,” Nuri paused. When she spoke again, her voice did not raise higher than a murmur. “I didn’t do this for the Duchess. I just wanna know when he gets better so I can talk to him.”

“To get to know Marcus. Excellent.” I don't buy this as a motivation. Why does she want to help this kid? To be mates? There are way easier ways to make friends.

That sounded a little too confident to be a guess He didn't guess, she just told him that's what he wanted to do. His comment brought up a memory from when she first met the fool A sentence told by an idiot, full of sound and pomposity, signifying nothing. “Did you already know that I would help the b—Marcus?”

“Perhaps.” His jovial attitude reappeared since Nuri rendezvoused with him on the outskirts of the city. “Nonetheless, I may rest easy for now.”

Yeah I don't know. This was super hard to read in places, the flashbacks didn't really sit well in amongst a high-octane action sequence, and there wasn't much of a story. A kid got ill, this girl killed a spider to get to some magical restorative fruit, and then the kid got better. The wise man seems surplus to requirements, and nothing that happens to him makes sense. The character motivations are hella fuzzy, too. You're so nearly there, the staging of the action is pretty good, and there's some good ideas, but it needs more work.

Feb 8, 2014

Seven Minutes in Heaven (1129 words)

The bottle stopped spinning. Chelsea sighed, frowned, then lead the new kid into the closet in the hallway.

“Yeah Chelsea!” came the catcalls, shut out as Reggie closed the door.

“The stars are nice tonight,” he said.

Chelsea stood with her back to him, examining the shelves of board games. “We're inside,” she mumbled.

“Well,” Reggie rubbed his arm, “I saw them earlier. They were...nice.” He leaned back on the flock of fur coats hanging on the door.

“Uh-huh,” she rustled around in the half light, popping open the lids of games. “Weird. Scrabble box with a Monopoly board inside...”

Reggie's heart kept an unfamiliar beat. The closet was tiny. There was barely enough room for the both of them. Slowly, he reached his hand up and laid it on Chelsea's shoulder.

The girl turned, and Reggie was reminded of how beautiful she was, even in near darkness. Strips of light from outside the door illuminated her green eyes and long, blonde hair. She lifted her plastic cup up as she spoke. He watched her mouth carefully and wished that he was kissing it. “Nothing's going to happen, you know,” she said.

Reggie bit his lip and stared down at his feet. “Like, no offence,” Chelsea continued, “But I don't really know you. At all. My charity work is more the conservation side of things. Red, is it?”

“Reg,” he said.

“Okay. Reg. Sorry, Reg.”

He stared at his shoes and said: “You do conservation work?”

Chelsea shrugged. “I like nature. The environment. I think we should do more for it.”

“That's...good,” Reggie looked up at her, and smiled. He took a small step towards her. She lifted her hands up. “Nothing's. Gonna. Happen. Remember?”

“Yes. Sorry,” the new kid repeated, rubbing his eyes. “Can I tell you something, Chelsea?”

She looked him up and down as she took another sip from her cup. Outside the voices of the group merged into a melange of laughing, shouting, and armpit farts. They had already started spinning again. The new kid was weird, but not weird enough for her to have really noticed him before. He was tall, skinny, the balls of his wrist and his collarbones protruding beneath his pale skin. His eyes were large, but dull. His hair was short and wiry. His voice cracked and strained as he spoke. “Sure,” she said.

“Right,” he said. He clapped his hands together, and reached past her to pull the light cord. She squinted in the light. “Well, for starters. My name isn't Reggie.”


“My real name can't be pronounced using human vocal chords.”


“Because I'm an alien.”

She sighed, and placed her empty cup on one of the shelves. “How close are we to seven minutes?”

“I don't–”

“Listen Red,” said Chelsea, trying to manoeuvre her way past the gangly teen before her. “I've heard some lines, but...”

“Okay, okay,” he turned and went to open the door. “Ah.”


“...It's locked.”

“Are you serious?” Chelsea squeezed past Reggie, who stumbled back into the shelves. “You're kidding.” She shook the handle. “loving Ryan, man. I bet it was. Now there's a charity case...” Her back felt warm. Reggie was holding a flame in his palm. “Hey, don't be playing with a lighter in here! This stuff's all flammable...”

“It's not a, um, lighter,” he said, holding his hand closer to show that the flame was suspended above his hand.

“Right...” said Chelsea.

“I'm an alien,” Reggie repeated.

“...So you said.” She reached over Reggie's shoulder and took her cup off the shelf. She tilted it up to get the dregs of her drink.
“You're an alien,” she said, wiping her mouth.



“And my people have so far collected the powers of earth, water, and fire...”

“Wait, you've done what?” The noises outside the closet had almost disappeared. There was just her, and Reggie, in the closet.

“The classical elements? Earth, water, fire?” He looked at her. “We only need one more, and that's–”

“Wind,” Chelsea snorted as a rush of familiar feelings washed over her. “Yep, I get it, Reggie. Or, whatever your name isn't.”

He smiled, and placed his hand on her shoulder again. “Good,” he said. “I'm glad.”

Chelsea shrugged his hand away from her shoulder and adjusted the strap of her dress. “Yeah, I get that you're being gross,” she said.
“Wind? Like, that blows? Good one.”

“I don't understand...” said Reggie, looking at his hands.

“Pretty disgusting,” said Chelsea. She started banging on the door. “Hey! Ryan! Stop loving around! Get me away from this perv!”

“No! No!” Reggie grabbed her and spun her around. She turned and slapped the new kid across the face. He staggered back, his cheek stinging, knocking down the shelves of boardgames and collapsing to the ground amongst them.

“Oh, poo poo,” Chelsea gasped. She knelt down. “Are you okay?”

“Erm,” Reggie coughed. “I think I'll be fine. But...”


“I wasn't lying.”

“Okay,” she sat down, crossed leg, in front of him as he collected himself. “So...say you really aren't lying. What's the rest of the story?”

He shrugged and gave a weak smile. “There isn't much more. We've done pretty much what you've done. Decimated our planet with industry and selfishness. Except now we're trying to undo all the bad.”


“It's necessary,” he corrected her. “Else my planet will die out. And everyone who lives there with it.”

“And how do I come into this?” she asked, tilting her head.

Reggie bit his lip again and looked at the ceiling. “The first time I saw you was out on the...quad?” he said. “I saw you standing there. The wind was blowing through your hair. That's when I knew.”

She looked at him again. His eyes looked darker, richer; his long arms ready to wrap around her; his hair exotic, different. She leaned forward, her lips parting enough to accept his. She closed her eyes and felt the breeze on her back as they kissed.

“Haha, what?” somebody giggled behind them. “Chelsea! Really?” She ignored the voice. Reggie pulled her closer, and she smiled, and he felt her smiling. Ryan stood at the door and laughed, and she didn't care. When they were done, Chelsea stood up, and helped Reggie to stand too. She lead him out the closet, passed the amassed crowd, and into the living room, and then he was gone.

Reggie sat outside on the porch, looking at the photos he'd been told to take of Chelsea on his phone. It was strange seeing pictures of them kissing, like an out-of-body experience. The screen illuminated his face in the dark. He looked up at the stars and thought about the message he was about to send.

Feb 8, 2014

After a week off for not good reason, I am in.


Feb 8, 2014

Having wussed out of a long-forgotten Thunderdome, I return with my tail between my legs, still hankering to be in.

EDIT: And since nobody else is (kinda thought everyone would) I'll do Hemingway :clint:

tenniseveryone fucked around with this message at 08:57 on Sep 3, 2014

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