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Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


In.

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Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Title: The Grand Prize
Wordcount: 750



The limit is .04% for cab drivers in Phoenix, but hangovers like mine ought to be the real crime. I shoot over to the shoulder and paint the asphalt with my sepia-toned vomit.

Chauffeuring the city's profligate isn’t glamourous for most drivers. Most. I meet celebrities. I get invited to parties. I sleep with gorgeous women. Nobody likes to go home alone, and they say I look like a manlier Burt Reynolds.

My biceps and quads twitch as I race to the depot. I always lift before partying. It’s important to have a developed core. Too often I see flabby men with biceps like B-52s attempt a présage, and the girl ends up drinking a gallon of sweat off the club floor.

My body looks like a Rodin, and I plan to unveil it next week in the Côte d'Azur.

The taxi depot is like Ian Curtis lyrics held up by three walls and a garage door. Everybody glares at me in my Duffty button ups and Boateng slacks. They whisper about me behind my back: sons of Phthonos.

Relief: Donny is the only one in.

I stick my hand in my back pocket. “Hey Donny, close your eyes.”

He does. I shove the stolen panties up to his philtrum. He instinctually breathes in and then recoils.

“Oh man, what the flip?” He wipes his JC Penny sleeve on his upper lip. The panties were still moist with her secretions; they smell like trimethylamine N-oxide and iron.

“Guess what I did last night?”

He throws a lamp at me. “I don’t give a rat’s behind, you rufian.”

I bet Donny’s never gotten his phallus wet. The lamp Gallaghers against the wall.

I escape to my locker. The top shelf is empty but for a copy of Ecce Homo. I leaf through the pages. “One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous - I am no man, I am dynamite.” I memorize it to impress vapid club girls.

Other people start filtering in. They ignore me; they probably had boring nights with their families. I toss the pilfered lingerie into the growing pile on the bottom of my locker. I take a step back: I am Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας admiring his conquests.

Freddy looks at me and shakes his head. “Nobody is impressed, man.”

Bullhonkey they aren’t impressed. They can go chew on a saxitoxin ampoule. I don’t have time to slow down for anybody. I’m going to meet more interesting people in Monaco. I’m going to outpace these losers so fast it’s going to make Black Sunday look like my Oma out at her Teppichstange.

The boss comes around and distributes the paychecks. I am $400 short of my goal. I’ve already sold all of my possessions, and I sleep over at a different girl’s house every night to avoid paying rent. All I have left is a week’s worth of clothes and a few books in my trunk.

I head out to my cab. I start up the engine and drive to the airport. I can’t take off this early to bang tourists, so I pick up an old couple. They want to go to The Desert Botanical Gardens. I scoff under my breath. A second-rate tourist destination; the real treasures are at the 8,000 accessions of endophytic fungi at the Mycological Herbarium.

The old woman is bickering at her husband. Who cares. He’s pointing in my face telling me to turn. Like I don't know where the Botanical Gardens are, like I haven’t studied the taxonomy of Leuchtenbergiaceae and the psychoactive properties of Pachycereus pringlei.

I ignore their petty squabble and take a moment to look at myself in the mirror. I hope I never get old. Live every day like you’re twenty.

I don’t see the stalled car in front of me until it’s too late.

Seatbelts are for the frail; my body smashes against the steering wheel. My head smashes into the visor. My Monaco brochure is ripped and bloody in my lap; blood smears with the grand prix.

The old man is still screaming when I get out of the car and wander down the street in a haze. There’s no point now: insurance will cover the damage, but I won’t be given another chance.

Cars honk and swerve around me. I am exhausted and just want to go home and fall asleep. But I have nowhere to go. I lay down in the thoroughfare and close my eyes.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


In.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Title: To Say Goodbye
Wordcount: 940

------------------

Mark the blacksmith stoked the fire with his massive arms, calling out to the other workers: “Get more fuel on that fire!” he bellowed. It was hot and he could barely breathe, but at the end of this shift he’d collect the paycheck that would allow him to buy the ring he’d had his eye on.

He toweled off after his shift and headed straight home and signed onto his computer. He knew his online girlfriend would be waiting for him.

Her face splashed on the screen, and after the usual pleasantries, he tilted his webcam down toward the floor and knelt to one knee. "I love you,” he espoused. “I think we should get married," he proposed.

Gertrude covered her face so he could not see her cry, but her head bobbed up and down. She finally recovered, and pushed her glasses back up. “You’d have to secure the divorce from your ex-wife,” she speculated.

He didn’t like the sound of that. “Fine, I’ll catch the next flight out,” he complained.

#

Mark’s technically-still-current wife, Tabitha, lived with her parents on a few acres out in the middle of nowhere. “I hate Kansas,” he stated flatly.

The local airport had no rental car service, so he bought an old bike from a shop on the way. He barely made it down the bumpy dirt road to their cabin. She was expecting his visit, but he hadn’t told her the reason he had come.

Mark knocked on the door, and her father answered. He scowled at Mark, but didn’t say anything. He turned back inside and called out to his daughter. “Mark’s here again,” he remarked.

Mark followed the old man into the rustic kitchen and was left alone with only Tabitha and himself. She motioned to a chair. He rubbed his posterior. “I’d rather stand, thanks,” he asserted.

He opened his bag and set the divorce papers on the table. “I’ve already filled out all my information,” he informed her.

She crumbled it and threw it in the trash. “I will not sign this,” she refused.

He slid his hands into his pockets and, feeling exhausted, panted, “I’m getting married again.”

Tabitha stood unblinking for a moment “Go to hell. Run, jump, swim, I don’t care how you get there, just go!” She verbalized.

“I need you to be on board,” he railed her.

She smashed her fist on the table. “But you said it wasn’t me, it was you,” she expounded.

“I was wrong, it wasn’t me,” he gently notified her.

“It would be a lot easier for me if you were just gay. You sure you’re not?” she queried.

“I do own several colorful hats,” he jested. “But no, just the normal one man and one woman becoming two. Or three, if you count our dog Rufus,” he added.

“You named your dog Rufus,” she muttered. That was what he had named his dick when they were together. She rolled her eyes, and Mark thought he saw the anger fade; as if she suddenly realized they were never meant to be together. “You deserve to be happy,” she vowed.

The tension had eased, and Tabitha shook her head and walked out the door. He followed her down to the pond where they had spent a summer fishing and swimming years ago.

Tabitha picked up one of the poles laying on the ground. “You know after you get married, she’s just going to eat sweets all the time and get fat,” she snickered.

He ignored her and threw a rock into the water. “I wonder if it's reached the bottom yet,” he pondered. In the shade it was hard to see down more than a few feet. “I really like the greenery here,” he opined.

She laughed and made a decent cast to the middle of the pond. Mark picked up the other pole and tried to best her, but it went wide. “Oh poo poo, watch out!” he broadcasted.

She ducked and his lure bobbed only a yard from shore. “I’m really smart,” he keened.

They spent the next several hours laughing and reminiscing. On a horse ride around the lake, they discussed their lives since they had split. Tabitha admitted she had met somebody, but blushed with Mark pressed her for more details, and refused to give any.

#

When they got back to the house he saw a Hummer parked on his bike. He jumped off his horse and ran over to it. “Who could be so careless?” he derided. “Who broke my bike?” he spoke.

Tabitha hung her head. “This is my Uncle Chuck’s new car. With all this new oil money flowing in, people are getting a little crazy with the spending. I guess you can take my new Vespa back to the airport,” she moped, pointing to the seafoam-green scooter parked on a piece of sheet metal.

Mark was happy about not having to bike all the way back to the airport, and Tabitha took him aside. She told him about her boyfriend: a man from Dubai that had come to the states to oversee his family’s oil business. He was rich, and as soon as he finished his job here, he was going to fly her to Paris.

Tabitha signed the documents, and then they sat down on the couch, exhausted. She picked up her book while Mark relaxed with a beer.

“So this guy is from Dubai? If you’re happy together, it must be fate since he’s come such a long way,” Mark ventured. “What’s his name?”

Tabitha put her book down, but did not speak. “His name is Said,” she eventually said.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


In for this week.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


The Baptist - 985 Words

“Have you ever known one of the ghosts,” Aiden asked me.

“These are Negroes, rapists, Jews and Jewesses, and all manner of unsavory blasphemers. They are no one I would know, yet we must save them all the same.”

“Rapists?” Aiden’s voice cracked.

“Our heavenly Father can change his mind faster than we can, Aiden, and while I may not agree with his new-fangled viewpoints, I will posthumously baptize based on His rapid revisions.”

I reached down and grabbed between Aiden’s legs. I felt two testicles and a flaccid member. Aiden’s eyes bulged.

“We are performing patriarchal blessings. With all the gender-bending going on in these latter days, I must be sure. Now, Aiden, try to pull out a Jew, they are the easiest to subdue.”

Aiden grasped his temple garment, and against the cream-tinted whiteness of the holy temple, a Jewess appeared, translucent and reeking of lox. Through her ghostly form, I could see the pale-green baptismal waters within the marble fountain.

“Ik zol ligen in drerd!” She shouted barbarically. Her voice echoed and oscillated in tune with her spirit body.

“Speak English, the language of God!” Aiden chided.

“She has been cut off from the Celestial Kingdom, how could she hear God’s language?” I said, “Beckon her to the fountain.”

Aiden extended his arms toward the waters. The Jewess continued speaking in her tongue, but the light of the temple and God’s presence seemed to subdue her. She spoke with less vigor, and after a time looked at Aiden, then at the pool.

“Go on.” Aiden smiled and turned his palms skyward.

She took a step toward the waters, yet I saw rejection of Christ cut across her features. “Aiden! Your training!”

Aiden, who was truly no longer just an apprentice, shoved the Jewess into the water, then leapt in himself. Water churned and spilled across the marble lip of the fountain as Aiden dunked the Jewess’ head in and out of the waters. Her protruded nose piercing the surface reminded me of a pelican, and the waters dripped from her philtral column to her philtrum proper as she gasped for air.

“Who is the son of your Heavenly Father? Who did your people maim on the cross? Who do you welcome into your heart so that He may welcome you into His Kingdom?”

“Yay-suhs!” she gurgled.

“That is the barbarous rendering of Jesus’ name,” I said, “in time she will learn our tongue. Now release her!”

Aiden let go, and a column of light shone down into the pool. The Jewess was lifted into the Celestial Kingdom. I looked down, and I trust Aiden did as well, as we of the Terrestrial Kingdom shall not look upon such splendor until our time comes.

When the light faded, I saw Aiden gripped in a rapturous trembling. “Have you had a revelation? Young Journeyman?”

“No, would that I be so lucky,” Aiden whispered. “It’s just…we saved her.”

“And we will save more. Steel yourself, I think you are ready for a negro.”

“But, you said they are--”

“Aiden, you can do this. This isn’t 1977, negroes are people now. And all people should have a chance at redemption.” I said these words, but I didn’t feel them.

Aiden clutched his vestments so tight I thought they would tear, and into the white purity of the temple, a scowling negro spirit stood before us. He wore glasses with thick black rims, and he sported a wild beard.

“A Moslem! Master!”

“The black Moslem is at once the most in need of our mercy, yet his primitive mind seems bred to spurn Jesus. Do your best, Aiden, I’ll think no less of you if he cannot be saved and is locked eternally in the spirit prison.”

The Moslem growled and jived. Its voice was deeper than any white man’s. “Who are you to pull me from the Garden?”

“I am Aiden, a Mor--”

“Don’t speak to him! A primitive mind responds only to force!”

The Moslem cocked its head at me, mouth appallingly agape. Aiden moved to shove it, but the Moslem dodged and hit Aiden to the ground.

“Hands off me, or I will send you to the cemetery! Undo your Kafir witchcraft and let me be at peace in the Garden!” It roared.

“He speaks of the Garden of Eden,” I said. Aiden stood up, and the negro stood tight as a bow with its fists raised. “The Garden of Eden is the most primitive habitat of man, and the colored Moslem thus longs for it.”

Aiden said, “Perhaps they think the spirit prison is the Garden? I can show him the truth, master.”

I knew then that Aiden would raise to the highest ranks of the church, and that he would receive many revelations. I had never been blessed with a revelation myself, but as I watched Aiden swallow his fear and confront this raging Moslem with mercy and understanding, I suspected that God was speaking to me through my former apprentice.

Aiden’s smile was like a white light, and seeing it, the negro relaxed and lowered its fists.

“I’m sorry, Brother,” Aiden called this one ‘Brother,’ something I could never do, “But we left the Garden so that we could father children and learn for ourselves what is Good and Evil. We can’t return, but God has a Celestial Kingdom waiting for us, and if you’ll just come down into this water with me, you can be with Him and be one with his love.”

The negro went into the water, Aiden’s hand on its back.

I knew then I would die with hate in my heart, and that’s why I’d never seen a revelation. But my apprentice surpassed me both as a posthumous baptist and as a human being, and when I finally died and went to the spirit prison, it was Aiden that came and saved me.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


O man, I tried to sign up earlier on my phone and I thought I did, but I don't see my post! Maybe I'm posting so far away that the light from my transmission takes four days to arrive?

Anyway, here is the prompt I have chosen:

quote:

A holy man receives text messages from long-dead relations.


The Baptist II 1175 Words.

A phone vibrated atop the wooden pew, but Aiden was lost in prayer. After saying ‘Amen,’ he grabbed the phone, which was his, and looked at the screen. It was a text message from ‘gramps.’ Aiden read it.

big a my boy im no good with computers so i cant get the punctuation marks to show up but you have to help me im in the spirit prison

No one other than his grandpa had ever called him ‘Big A,’ and his Grandpa had left the Terrestrial Kingdom decades ago. Anti-LDS elements all over Salt Lake sent Aiden death threats, but he had spoken to enough of the condemned to know that this was indeed his grandpa. How could his grandpa be in the Spirit Prison? He had never met a better man...

He punched in a reply to his grandpa using his ring finger, which had a ring on it given to him by his grandpa.

Gramps,

There’s nothing you could have done in life to belong in the Spirit Prison, yet I know you would not lie to me. Whatever the reason you are severed from the presence of God the Father, I can bring you into the temple and save you. Clear your mind, and think only of the ring that you have given me. Text me when you are ready.


Ever since Aiden had saved the soul of his former master--a soul dark with hatred and bigotry--he had given up his profession. He had not performed a posthumous baptism in over twenty years, yet he could not abandon his grandpa. Aiden stripped off his layclothes to reveal his powerful temple garments. He touched the ring, and nostalgia washed over him: Aiden felt himself in a red wagon, his Grandpa pulling him down the road, his wives at his side. They were all laughing, and the cool touch of fall was creeping into the desert sunset.

The phone buzzed, and Aiden prepared...

maybe i should have divorced my wives since we are only supposed to have one now but i thought divorce was the greater sin oh big a im so sorry but im ready im ready im thinking of you big a my boy and im thinking of the ring that i gave you and that my father gave to me even though i was only the third son of his third wife im ready im ready pull me out of this place please please save me from this bondage of sin

Aiden’s parents had said that Grandpa had divorced as soon as God had changed his stance on plural marriage. Grandpa had disobeyed the Heavenly Father’s rapid revisions and he had lied to Aiden’s parents? Or had Aiden’s parents lied to him? Aiden hit the buttons again, this time with his index finger.

Wait, Gramps, before I pull you out, tell me, are...my parents there?

Aiden trembled like an atheist in a foxhole as he waited for his grandpa to respond. He mouthed a silent prayer and tried to clear his mind, but the phone soon vibrated.

ah big a do you remember when i gave you the ring youre wearing i knew i wasnt gonna last much longer and even though you werent the first born you were the one that was there for me even though it probably was scary for you to be with me in that room that smelled of death big a ive asked so much of you but you are so strong

Aiden wished his grandpa could figure out how to use the punctuation marks, but he realized it was likely very dark in the Spirit Prison, and the punctuation marks also probably required use of the shift key, so he forgive his grandpa for his illegible texts. More vexingly, Aiden’s grandpa had not answered his question about his parents. He was tempted to pull Gramps into the temple and talk to him face-to-face, but 1) the time for ghost stories was over, and 2) for some reason it felt...right...to communicate through text messages to his long-dead relation.

Gramps, I was glad to be with you in your final days, but you must tell me: Are my parents there in the Spirit Prison, Aiden raised his right-hand index finger and hit the “shift” key, then gained access to the question mark, which he pressed, resulting in a ‘?.’ He wished his grandpa could do that.

The ring on Aiden’s finger burned quite suddenly with blasphemous heat. He grabbed it, wanting to tear it off. As soon as Aiden touched the ring, sunlight flooded his macula--he had been transported from the temple to somewhere outdoors faster than his iris could dilate.

“Welcome to the Garden...brother.”

It was the Muslim, which Aiden now knew one should write with a ‘u’ rather than an ‘o,' it was the very same African-American Muslim Aiden had saved decades ago.

“Where am I?” Aiden asked.

“The Garden, Big A!”

“Big A, how did you…”

“Don’t worry about that now,” The Muslim put a cellular phone into his pocket, and grinned mischievously at Aiden. “Welcome to the Garden, our version of your Celestial Kingdom. I’ve saved you, brother.”

“I didn’t ask to be...O, I understand.”

“Right, right. You’re a sharp one, I didn’t think I’d have to explain it to you.”

And with that, the Muslim vanished, and Aiden wandered the Garden alone. In the first days he was outraged, but after a time he saw there was beauty in this place, and that a version of God’s creation permeated every atom of the garden.

Years later, Aiden longed for the Celestial Kingdom, but it was a dull longing.

One morning he saw his Grandpa, sucking the juice from an orange slice. “Gramps!”

“Hi, Big A. The Muslims got to me before you did, and I’m happy here. They can still have more than one wife, so all my wives are here with me, and I’ve got some new ones too.”

The African-American Muslim appeared from behind the tree and said, “So, brother, do you want to stay here or go back to your Terrestrial Kingdom, so you can take a shot at the Celestial?”

Had Aiden ever asked that to anyone he had brought back? Had he ever asked what they wanted? He understood now the wisdom of this Muslim, and he understood who was truly primitive. Yet this garden, beautiful as it was, was not for him.

“Send me back to the Terrestrial Kingdom, brother, I want to find my own answers.”

"Will do. And while you are free to call me 'brother,' my name is Malcom."

Cache Cab fucked around with this message at Mar 24, 2014 around 01:23

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


drat! I would have at least had an honorable mention if not for my unjust disqualification.

I am in for this next prompt. I am posting that I am in now so that I can offset the time vortex which caused me to be disqualified last week.

Again, I am in, so dare not disqualify me again!

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


I am just reconfirming that I am in this week. I don't want to lose my honorable mention again.

Title: Wall's Well That Ends Well
Wordcount: 1,056

Frank had a blank canvas of drywall and a roll of top quality fiberglass weaves; it would be a great day. Frank held a strip of wallpaper in one hand and spun the moistened roller in his other. The handle was perfectly balanced. The room had four electrical outlets and he wanted to remove them, but he always had to hold back.

They could never see his true skill.

He pulled out a fresh piece of sandpaper and got to work smoothing out a few--but not all--of the blemishes. Next, he dipped his brush into the primer, reveling in the scent.

He applied the primer, but intentionally splashed some on the ceiling and floor. He could have applied it within a few millimeters of the ceiling without splashing a single drop. For years it had been enough for Frank to know his own skill; let others think what they wanted.

The Englewood Wallpaper Co. had been renovating the commercial space for Mr. Parati, a suspected mob boss. Frank kept his head down and didn’t do anything to draw attention to himself. Unfortunately, that meant making sacrifices in the quality of his work. He smoothed the wallpaper over the first outlet and sighed.

His boss, Steve, a crooked man who Frank suspected knew about Mr. Parati’s business, and perhaps was even implicit, came by to inspect his work. He kicked at the outlet. “Frank you moron, you’ve covered the outlet again.”

“Sorry sir, I forgot.”

Behind them, construction workers carried rolls of carpet into the room. Nobody stopped to watch Frank get in trouble; he was a nobody.

Steve shook his head. “You’s been here forever, and I know you got nobody else, which is why I ain’t fired you yet, but I need you to step it up.” He pushed a young man forward. “This is Jamie. I want you to train him.”

Jamie smacked his gum and nodded without removing his earphones.

After Steve was gone, Frank handed him a roller. “You gotta put the water on one side, and then roll it on the wall. Got it?”

Jamie shrugged and dipped in the water. Frank stood back and watched as the lackadaisical teen pulled the roller out dripped water everywhere. Frank smirked.

Jamie rolled the paper wet on one side, and placed it on the wall.

“No, that’s too high,” Frank said, stepping in to show the newbie how it’s done. Before he could grab hold of the handle, Jamie slid the roller up the length of the paper and back down. The sheet went on smoothly, without a single bubble. Frank took a step back so he could see the whole piece. “Jesus…”

“Think I got the hang of this, thanks dude.”

The kid dipped the roller again.

Frank shook his head. It was a fluke. No way the kid could be that good. But Jamie threw another piece on the wall and repeated his maneuver, and Frank had to remind himself to breathe. “How…”

Steve walked by and stopped to take a look at Jamie’s handiwork. “drat son, that’s really well done. Frank, why you never do work this good?” The construction guys stopped to take a look at Jamie’s handiwork. They took turns slapping him on the back and whistling. Frank stood in the corner and hid beneath his hat.

He was still undercover, and he wouldn’t blow a 20-year operation for pride.

The room cleared out, and Steve walked outside to greet Mr. Parati as his Bentley pulled up.

When it was just the two of them again, Jamie looked over at Frank and laughed. “How long you been doing this? And you still can’t get it right?” He grabbed another sheet. “Fuckin’ old people, man,” he muttered under his breath.

Frank looked in a piece of discarded sheet metal. He had aged. His skin was looser, his mustache whiter. But his captain said his testimony would bring the whole Parati family down. His cop salary was waiting for him in another account, and as soon as the Paratis were in jail, he’d be able to buy fancy cars and nice clothes. He’d even buy a house and wallpaper the whole thing perfectly.

All he had to do was wait.

Jamie slapped another piece on the wall and turned to him and made a rude gesture. “Man, you smell like efferdent, stand back.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re a creepy old fogey. I don’t like how you’re watching me with your mouth open.”

Frank started to protest, but Steve had come over to see what the commotion was about. “Frank, settle down, man.”

Jamie threw down the brush. Frank winced as he imagined the alignment of the handle getting messed up. “It’s me or him, Steve, I can’t work with this septuagenarian motherfucker drooling behind me all day.”

Frank didn’t respond. He bent down and picked up the roller. He walked over to the bucket and dipped it in the water. You shouldn’t…. The only gap in the wallpaper was in the middle of the wall between two other pieces. The hardest piece: nearly impossible to align both sides and keep it smooth.

He moistened the back and slapped it on the wall. Jamie tried to protest that it was too low, but Frank ignored him, and his voice faded into the sound of circular saws outside. Frank’s hands jumped at the opportunity to do what they loved; what he’d been suppressing for years. He smoothed the wallpaper. He didn’t have to feel it to know that it was in perfect alignment with the two pieces on either side, and when he was done, there wasn’t a single air bubble. You still got it.

The sound of the saws died down, and he turned around to face Jamie as a man. The entire construction crew had gathered around and everybody was staring at him. Even Mr. Parati himself stopped to watch. Frank took off his hat to wipe his brow.

Steve looked over at Jamie. “You’re fired kid, go get your--”

“Hey wait a minute,” interrupted one of the workers. Ain’t that the cop we lost tabs of in, like, the 90s?”

“Indeed it is.” answered Mr. Parati.

The workers all drew their guns. Frank, you moron. Was that worth it?

But amid the hail of gunfire, he knew that it was.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


in

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Title: The Last Birthday Party
Wordcount: 456





edit: sorry that my story was broken I just googled "image host" and that was the firs t one that showed up. also do you thhink I have a virus and how do I get rid of it? I fixed the images. sorry.

Cache Cab fucked around with this message at Apr 20, 2014 around 03:02

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


I am in, and submitting:

Dr. Scienticius's Method 920 Words.

Frame a Query:

From where originated the cariesari, the condition which now afflicts every fourth man and woman in the realm of Allanar, and which shows no signs of abation?

Perform investigations (en and ex pratus):

I recalled that most Allanarian magii had begun to chew aegus root, which aided in staving off the ill effects of casting sickness. Casting, as we know, creates a not insignificant quantity of macula (a form of magical waste product) in the body of a magus or maga, yet Al Rangasarian, High Magus of the eastern plains of Allanar, Warden of the Cold, discovered that chewing aegus root days or even hours before casting significantly reduced the build up and ill effects of macula.

Later, Ya Jendi Et Sera, Herbalist Chieftess of the Northern Steppes, found a way to extract a concentrated form of aegus root. Magii soon doubled their amount of casting and thus their productivity and utility. A magus or maga who chose to abstain from aegus root could not compete, thus all magii chewed the root.

And soon thereafter came the cariesari: Healing spells sprouted extra limbs, alchemical spells created unstable elements which rotted a man or woman from the inside, and even love spells caused erections or engorged labia which persisted for years.

Conject a Postulation:

Aegus root is the root cause of the cariesari.

Inquest the Postulation through Experiment:

Day 1

I chew root, but not extract. I cast several nature spells, and I am able to attract a grey wolf, a pelican, and a black bear before I feel the first signs of macula accumulation.

Day 8

I double the amount of root I chew, and cast more nature spells. This time I attract an alpha male wolf, two woodpeckers, a score of squirrels, and a Dryanan before the macula force me to cease.

Day 13

I take two drops of extract, then cast. I am surrounded by dozens of forest creatures, and I thus feel a great thrill. I run these creatures through the small town of Aranchesque, and I continue to cast as I parade the animals through the streets. Despite my distance from the forest, animals continue to stream forth, and only after I have filled the marketplace proper with bears and gophers and wolves do I feel hints of macula. I cease casting.

Day 18

I crave a stronger connection with the beasts, so I consume ravenously the remaining drops of extract. I go into the forest and attract first the alpha male wolf. No, I am mistaken, I am the alpha male of the pack; the former alpha male approaches me, his tail between his legs. They look to me as if to ask, “Where shall we hunt, Dr. Scienticius?” and I sprint across root and branch and leaves with my wolfpack in tow. Before I know it, the moon shines down upon me, and I howl up into the moon, black cloth of night behind me and my pack.

Corroborate Validity of Inquest:

I tear into a bear with my teeth. The meat is deliciously raw and the blood drips down, pooling beneath my gums. As the alpha male, the first choice of mate is mine, and I choose two: one female and one male. I have my way with both as I masticate, and the pack watches in awe and certainty--certainty that I am indeed the most alpha male among them. I, packleader Scienticius.

Assay Data and Synthesize Conclusion:

Grimmoon has challenged my stake as packleader. He is strong, but I am stronger, and my claws have hook-like protrusions of pink flesh with which I can grasp rockers. He bites at me, but grasps only fur. I spin around, rock in hand, and crush his skull in. Scienticius will rule not just this pack, but all wolves of Allanar.

Communicate Results:

My pack is a sea of grey that rolls across the steppes of Allanar. Any pack we come in contact with becomes subservient to me; we multiply without end, and even other humans join us. We sweep down into the plains, through the mountains, tearing through human flesh as we move. Nothing stands in my way. When we eat villagers, I have first choice; I prefer the little ones and the light-skinned ones. The old ones and the dark ones can go to Grimmoon, who runs at the very back of my pack, never feeling the wind in his fur.

Afterword

I leave this account of Dr. Scienticius to you, future scholars of the land formerly known as Allanar. As you can see, Dr. Scienticius developed what we today refer to as the Methodus Scientificae. You may think that his journal is simply the account of a man becoming a wolf, or a human-like wolf, or perhaps something in between; but I have drawn a different conclusion. Aegus root did not unleash the contagion which shattered old Allanar; power itself was the contagion. The macula kept men and women's power over nature in check, and the aegus root acted only as a catalyst for that which truly corrupted us and severed us from magic forever: power itself.

-Cascius Caba, third epoch, twelve skalae after the breaking

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Tyrannosaurus posted:

THUNDERDOME XCII: The Great White Elephant Gift Exchange!

Sharing is caring here in the Thunderdome so let’s get into the spirit of giving! When you sign up this week make sure you include a present for your fellow writers. This can be anything: a setting, a character, a concept, a genre, an archetype. Simple. Complex. Whatever you want. Whatever you like. Once you’ve done that, look around at what else has been thrown out there. Pick one and include it in your story. You don't have to announce your choice until you submit and multiple people can use the same idea.

Pretty simple, yeah?

Oh. I should mention, though, that you are required to use whatever you suggested, too. So keep that in mind before you try and pass off something loving idiotic.

Oh. And you’ll have to use one from the judges. Seeing as how I’m the only judge right now I’m expecting to see a lot of stories about

*Elephants*

Literal elephants, toy elephants, the elephant in the room, the Alabama football mascot, whatever. Go wild!


Word Limit: 1400 words
Signs up end Friday 11:00 pm EST
Submissions close Sunday 11:00 pm EST


Jolly Ol’ Judges:
Tyrannosaurus
Entenzahn
Sitting Here

Giddy Young Gifters:
kurona_bright
Starter Wiggin
leekster
Gau
Phobia
Some Guy TT
Meinberg
RunningIntoWalls
Hocus Pocus
Paladinus
Djeser
D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N.
Grizzled Patriarch
Griff Lee
Bushido Brown
CommissarMega
Kalyco
Thalamas
Drunk Nerds
That Old Ganon
God Over Djinn

Presents!
broken headphones
onomatopoeia
a hardboiled private detective
an irredeemably bad author
Japanese folktales
an unwanted avatar
a piece of a mirror
old VHS tapes
the grocery story
a completely foreign language
a quest for a divine rear end
good booze
a missing person
Our Lord and Savior White Conservative Jesus
a death wish
the phrase "was pure and untamed, and they were loving every minute of it"
roadkill
an old photo album
humor (the non-lovely kind)
infection
pride

UPDATE
Entenzahn is now a judge and has bequeathed to everyone the genre of "psychological horror." So you gotta include that or elephants. I'll give you your third possibility whenever the next judge pops up.

UPDATE
Our glorious and heavenly blood queen has agreed to judge your miserable entries. She wants to see "stories about ultimate, embarrassing defeat becoming a cathartic triumph (if only in the eyes of the protagonist)." That's your third choice.

Now get to writing and try not the poo poo the bed like I know you want to!

I'm in with hands.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Meeple posted:

I'm in for this week, as I clearly have a lot of improving to do.

I bring technology indistinguishable from magic, or possibly the other way around. These things get a bit hazy, y'know.

Oh, Clarke's Laws... interesting. I may consider taking this one, but I'm not committing to it yet.

quote:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Magyk."

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


These brawls seem really fun. Does anyone want to brawl me? I'll bring my "A" game.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Really? No one has the guts, the chutzpah to brawl me?

Anyway, I read earlier that we lose 300 words if we preface our story with a bunch of other stuff, but I think it's worth it for me to lose the words in this case. I wrote this story based on some conversations I had earlier in the day. I had made decisions about how I should talk to my kids about drug abuse that were--and this is difficult to admit--short-sighted and not really well thought out. So writing this story was my way of really internalizing what I learned, and to show how bad things could get if I take such a hard-line and inflexible approach toward drugs (or really anything difficult that kids have to deal with growing up and going out into the world) with my kids. So yeah, I am not adding this preface to "justify my story," but just in case any other parents in here are thinking about how to broach difficult topics with their kids and want to open up some kind of dialogue (which we could do in another thread, not here, obviously). With that said, here is my story:

quote:

Dare To Be A Better Father - 565 Words
“That’s horrible!” I heard my wife bellow into the phone in her hand. I didn’t know yet that this would come to be the most mentally horrific time of my life. “We’ll come pick him up right now,” she said.

“What did he do this time?” I asked.

“Your son was at a rave, and they caught him with MDMA.”

“Oh,” I said, but not with the right tone.

“Oh? You don’t sound surprised…our Danny doesn’t do drugs!”

I remembered catching Danny smoking a joint with his girlfriend, but I didn’t want to cockblock him, so I pretended not to see. Later though I talked to him. "Look, I caught him, yes, and I gave him a talk. I set him straight."

My wife looked at me, her eyes accusing.

#

The thing with slippery slopes is, they are mighty slippery, and they tend to be real shallow to boot. They aren’t cliffs or even steep hills, so you don’t really notice you’ve slipped until you’re at the bottom. That’s how it happened with Danny.

When I found Danny passed out with a needle in his arm, I thought of how I handled it after I caught him smoking weed with his girlfriend.

“Hey, Dad, can I ask you something?”

“Yeah, what about? You’re using condoms, right?”

“Uhh, whatever. I just wanted to let you know that I smoked weed a few times. I think you might have seen me the other night, and I’ve felt really guilty about it ever since. I did it ‘cause I wanted Megan to think I was cool and more experienced or whatever...so I bought a little bit. I had to read a bunch of websites to even figure out how to roll a joint, and--”


I got really angry. Danny was trying to open up to me and be a good kid, but I was thinking too black-and-white, and I was worried my wife would get mad if I didn’t handle this like a “good Father.”

“God damnit! How can you be so stupid, Daniel? You know what happens if you get caught with that stuff? Jail!”

“I know, Dad, it’s just--”

“You don’t know poo poo! A kid like you in prison, you’ll get torn up! The law may not always be right, but you have to respect it. It’s right most of the time, and that’s good enough for anyone!”


Danny stormed out then, and I knew I’d never get him back.

#

Another phone call, this time from rehab. The rehab that had eaten up our 401k. Danny had run away. We called some of his friends, but none of them had heard from him in years; they were all off at college and building lives for themselves.

My wife started screaming at me, and I wanted to hit her. I thought of how I had ruined things with Danny, and I restrained myself just enough to not touch her. I punched the mirror instead. Shards spilled all across the floor, my hand bled, and my wife cried. I was crying too, but too angry for tears.

I looked into one piece of the mirror and saw my anger and hate and loss reflected back at me in from the broken mirror, a mirror just as broken as my life had become.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


If it's not too much trouble, could I please have a story? I'd like to enter this week. I spent the last few weeks thinking about the feedback I've been given in the Thunderdome and believe that this week I can make some improvements. In fact I had a friend read an edit of my story and he said it was very good. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't bullshit me, on account of us being friends since fourth grade, but I need the razor sharp teeth of Thunderdome to confirm for me that my skills are improving.

I'm hoping I get a real doozy of a last line, so that I can impress everybody.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


sebmojo posted:

actually gently caress it, here's your story: http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=156 and here's your image:


http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=1732

Hmmm, this will be challenging, since I am not quite sure what that last lines means, nor what this picture entails, but I am up for the challenge. Thank you very much, I hope not to disappoint.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


sebmojo posted:

actually gently caress it, here's your story: http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=156 and here's your image:

Title: Life Lessons
wordcount: 741

Meeting those troubles of a different sort, but still cousin to those that came before.

“Seems to me that all the bad poo poo we’re experiencing now is somehow related to the poo poo we caused when we was young and stupid,” said Mike, the porta-potty philosopher.

I pushed against the door of my own poo poo-cage, and it still didn’t budge.

“And just what, exactly, lead to us getting trapped amongst the smell of a thousand people’s poo poo?” I asked.

“Well,” said Mike, “There was that one time we stuffed that retarded kid into the tire and rolled her down the hill.”

“Are you talking about karma, Mike?”

“No, but when we were taking our pisses, I heard the tell-tale slurping of said retard. You know, that annoying thing where she can’t keep his drool in her own mouth on account of her lower lip being even more retarded than her shrunken brain?”

Her name was Karen.

“Yeah, I remember her, but how’d she find us?”

“Checked our facebook statuses, probably.”

“Can retards even use the internet?”

“Men marrying men, a black man in the white house, gently caress, why shouldn’t retards get computers?”

“Just cause you know, like cause they’ll clog up all the dating sites with pics of their junk.”

“Would you deny a retard a gun?”

“Yes. Absolutely. A thousand times yes. Why? You wouldn’t?”

Mike answered with a grunt and a faint plopping noise.

“Jesus Mike, you aren’t….”

“Well, I mean I gotta go.”

“Dude I can loving hear it.”

“At least it’s not an elevator.”

Nope. I repressed that memory. Stay down, loving memory. gently caress you. I hit it with a metaphorical shovel and dump it back into the hole it crawled out of. Stay dead, motherfucker.

“I guess, but do you gotta grunt so loud?”

I hear the spinning of the toilet paper roll.

“I’m done now anyway.”

I roll my eyes. “So you think this was Karen?”

“Most definitely.”

“What did she push in front of the doors?”

“Well,” Mike said, “it’s gotta be something heavy, because I can’t open my door even in the slightest, and it has to be tall, because the top don’t move no more than the bottom.”

I heard him smack the door a few times.

“Solid too,” he said.

“What are we gonna do to her for revenge when we get out?”

Mike laughed. “Well, I figure we are approaching the ripe old age of 24. It may be time we give up such foolish endeavors. Maybe we let her have this one on us, lest we birth anymore troubles for ourselves from this twisted family tree of bullshit.”

“Yeah, maybe you're right. Plus like, retards only got a limited lifespan. She’ll probably die soon.”

“Do retards die young? I thought that was dogs.”

“Mike, you ignorant bastard, it’s retards and dogs.”

“Birds live forever though.” Mike laughed. “Well, then for her sake, lets let her have this one, and we can go back to our awesome lives that will totally last for a long time.”

I agreed, and the door to my porta-potty creaked open.

I stepped outside. The sun was just over the mountains, just about to stop baking us in those poo poo ovens. “Figures,” I mutter, but I was still happy to be out.

I look over at Mike’s john and he stepped out too. There is nothing blocking them that I can see. The ground is littered with empty soda glasses and programs for the musical festival, but the venue is empty and quiet.

There are notes taped to both of our doors. They read the same: “You tortured me for my whole life. You probably don’t even know why I’m striking back now. You probably don’t remember a week ago, walking down Main Street, bumping into the guy and making him spill slurpee all over himself. You didn’t even stop to see if he was ok. I went to a voo-doo shaman and put a curse on both of you. Now you’ll experience a life like mine. The doors were blocked by the weight of your own guilt.”

Mike and I laughed and threw the notes on the ground.

“What a retard,” said Mike.

“I changed my mind. Let’s go find that kid and kick her rear end.”

“Yeah, the world’s gotta teach her a lesson that she can’t go around putting hexes on people.”

“It’s a good lesson.”

“Too bad she’s got such a short time to live and appreciate it.”

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


IN

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


When Judas saved Jesus. 939 Words.

And the Lord spoke unto me: “Judas, you shall turn Him over, yet in doing so you shall give all men a path to forgiveness. You will be remembered as a betrayer, but you shall know in your heart that you do a righteous and selfless deed.” Yet when the time came, I could not betray my friend; I could not betray my brother...my Father. I bound him and took him far away, all the while he protested, saying he must die for the sins of all men. “Not all men,” I replied, “only the righteous shall be deemed worthy of forgiveness, and you are the most righteous man I’ve ever known. You cannot sacrifice yourself for others, Jesus, I shan’t allow it.”

In saving Jesus, I damned damned humanity and became the betrayer I so feared. Perhaps this was my fate. But God, in his mercy, opened a path--a true and existing path, not just a symbolic one--in the Levant. One needed only walk the full distance of the path to reach heaven. Yet this path...it was hell itself.


-Book of Judas, 21:36

#

Saint Lukowe peered through his looking glass, across hell and onto the gates of heaven. He looked not upon the demons flaying the skin of virgins, nor upon the mountains which made the great pyramids seem as anthills. Blurry figures, barely visible even through the powerful spyglass, stood regal at Heaven’s Gate. Scholars theorized they were the archangels themselves, yet Lukowe thought them mere statues.

Lukowe was not really a Saint, but when he told his band of brigands that he intended to walk the path, the name stuck. How could a thief walk through hell untempted? Lukowe knew; however, that the saints were anything but. Who was the Pope to canonize? Had he a link to God? No. There was one path to God, through this road and beyond those statues.

“I think I’m ready, Mahdi. Are you?”

“Uhh…”

“I won’t leave you until you’re ready to lead in my stead. I won’t have my men starving in my absence.”

“Yeah boss, but you’re going to go before the big job tonight?”

“If you can do it without me, you’ll have the men forever. You won’t truly be their leader if I name you as such, you’ll only lead them once you have proven yourself.”

“I understand...I’m ready.”

“Good, now help me prepare.”

#

Lukowe took his first step into hell. He had expected the heat would scorch his skin, that he would need to walk swiftly down this road lest he burn before reaching the gates; yet the heat felt like that of a full harem of women enveloping his body. He counted backward from ten as he walked forward, letting his excitement soften. A cacophony of orgasmic and carnal moans barraged his ears as he soldiered on. In the periphery of his vision, in hell’s alleys, he saw many-phallused men pleasing scores of women, and women equally gifted housing dozens of men all at once. He tried not to look, but his steps faltered, if only slightly.

“Stop here and you can join us. It’s no trick; hell is merely the absence of God, but there’s so much pleasure to be found in the sins of flesh,” a voice echoed around him. Lukowe knew--somehow, and with full certainty--that this voice spoke true; he could truly spend eternity in perverse embrace and ecstasy. He began to consider it.

He slapped himself in the face, shook his head, and looked straight forward. With his naked eyes the statues were not visible, but he imagined their holy image and moved forward.

The next temptation was luxury: mounds of solid gold lay just beyond the corpse pyramids, and beyond those sprawling palaces with lush gardens.

“Here, every man is a king. You killed and maimed for mere scraps in your old life, here you will be given all you long for. Even now, your men die for mere breadcrumbs.”

“What?” Lukowe said. He looked back toward Earth and raised his spyglass. From here he could see all of the city, as if it were a bloated bubble of light. In the bubble’s periphery he saw Mahdi leading his men toward a caravan. It seemed unguarded, which meant it was anything but.

“Send the scouts out, Mahdi…”

But he didn’t. Two flanks of bandits pressed forward; they passed the first wagons and moved toward the heart of the caravan. Then, from the front wagons, a company of guards poured forth, lead by a man thick with sinew, his shoulders like boulders. The guards charged into Mahdi’s men--into Lukowe’s men--as their leader guffawed with raucous laughter and spun his bronze spear.

Lukowe took another step, but away from the gate, toward his men.

A new voice boomed, “Lukowe, you’ve passed the greatest of the temptations! Turn back around, enter the Lord’s embrace.” It was the statues, but through his spyglass and from this distance he now could see: They were indeed angels, voices like silk and honey.

“My men…”

“Leave that toil behind, you will ascend.”

“But they’re my men!”

“Not all men are meant for retribution. You are! Come, Lukowe!”

“No,” Lukowe growled, and he turned his back on heaven.

Untarnished and unafraid, Lukowe passed through hell once again, this time toward Earth. With heaven and hell behind him, the mean streets of the city welcomed him back. He hoped only that he could reach his men in time to make a difference. Yes...some men were meant for retribution. His men.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


I still want to brawl someone

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Gau posted:

You're mine, bitch.

Who will judge this battle of titans? (and give us a prompt)

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Bad Seafood posted:

Cash Grab

Sometimes you lay everything on the line for a good cause only to get burnt. Sometimes taking the high road means getting dragged through the gutters. It's not always easy to do the right thing, and right now I feel like reading something that reflects that.

Cache Cab and Gau, the two of you have seven days and a thousand words to write about someone who wins a moral victory at the expense of a material one. I want stories about someone who does the unambiguously right thing and suffers for it. I want stories about the right thing being the hardest thing, but our heroes do it anyway 'cause that's the stuff they're made of.

Additionally, your stories may not feature any kind of cosmic, karmic, social, or otherwise thematic comeuppance directed towards the forces aligned against your protagonists. Ken Levine lied to you. Sometimes the bad guy wins. Sometimes they get away with everything. This isn't about who wins and who loses, it's about how you play the game. And with a thousand words to play with, you'd better believe I want a complete narrative arc; real characters with meat on their bones. No caricatures. No clown shoes. That goes for the good guys as well as the bad.

Sorry, I thought I would be able to post but then the forums went down, and then I was busy with my custody hearing (I won! most of the things anyways).

Here is my story:

Title: Playing Dirty and Getting Away With It
word count: 917

James had been on track for a political career since he was in diapers, kissing other babies and posing for photo ops. He'd been class president since third grade, a member of the model U.N., on the debate team, and spent all of his time not studying racking up the volunteer hours at various political offices around town.

He wanted the Senate seat more than anybody he knew, and everybody assumed he'd get it too.

James filed his paperwork on the first day he could, and spent 364 days waiting for an opponent to show up. None did.

It was the deadline for filing an intent to run, and James stopped by the courthouse half an hour before 5:00, and saw only an empty queue.

"Congratulations to me!" He said, and turned to leave.

He nearly bumped into a man he'd describe as a hillbilly.

"Watch where I'm going ya phony!"

"Excuse me. But that is very rude."

"Yeah well I gotta turn in my application before five," said the gruff malcontent.

James felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, but had to ask. "What are you running for?"

"Congress. Senate, I think. Some people back at my commune thought I'd do a bang up job. Better than the other guy. Fuckin' nutjob."

"Oh, I'm the only other person running."

"Ah poo poo."

"Nothing personal though, right?"

"Whatever."

The surly hippie pushed past James and turned in his application. On his way out, he bumped into James's shoulder.

"Fuckin' Tea Party rear end in a top hat," the vile man muttered as James struggled with what to do. All of his political career had been niceties and cordial disagreement.

"See you on the campaign trail!" James called after him, but the man replied by sticking up his middle finger.

The attack ads started the next day.

"James Grovin eats GMOs." Said the voice over as a picture of sad children and farmers panned across the screen, and ended with a particularly unflattering closeup of James eating an apple.

Another one posted during his favorite show: "James Grovin is part of the broken system that got us into this mess in the first place the first place."

James didn't even know what "mess" his opponent was referring to. His advisors advised him to hit back fast and hard. He had the name recognition, the donor base to support a relentless barrage of television and radio ads, and the clean-cut look that made senators. Bit James refused. Politics was already too dirty, and what people really wanted was an honest, civil show and they would reward him for not stopping to that level.

"Mr. Grovin, is it true that you spent $500 on your haircut?" Asked a reporter at his next event.

"What? No! I want to talk about immigration reform..."

"What about accusations that you didn't graduate from college, that you faked your degree?"

"Um, I will not respond to these type of baseless allegations."

"Do you don't deny it?"

"Of course I do! "

"Can you provide proof?"

"I do not believe that is relevant."

The crowd rose to a murmur. James have turned red and he spent the next 10 minutes trying to steer the session back toward policy, but the reporters literally kept throwing questions in his face.

James's poll numbers plummeted under the onslaught from his unknown challenger. On the night of the final debate before the polls opened, they were statistically tied.

James, true to his word, took the higher road and kept his ads about policy and not attacking falsehoods or conjecture.

He looked at his opponent at the other podium with pity. The man had resorted to lies and fear. He was lost, and needed spiritual help. While the man recited his opening monologue, James said a prayer for the man in his heart, that after this was over, the man would find the salvation he so obviously needed. He was snapped out of his musings by the voice of the moderator.

"Mr. Grovin, do you have a response?"

"Um, sorry, can you repeat the question?"

The audience snickered.

"Your opponent says he has a woman that is ready to come forward and admit she had an affair with you, but wanted to give you the opportunity to come clean to the American people first. Right here on stage. Would you like to apologize?"

"No! Wait, what? I never had an affair!"

He looked over to his wife, tears streamed down her face. "Honestly, I love you so much, this is preposterous."

"So are you calling him a liar?"

James sweated profusely and fumbled with his microphone. He swore not to stoop to their level, to sling names and get down in the muck. He wouldn’t falter now, especially in front of the American people at home. Little kids who were watching him at home and would one day grow up to be politicians of their own.

“I believe somebody is pulling his leg,” James finally said, and the crowd, and even the moderator, laughed at his old-fashioned sensitivities.

The next day when the polls closed, James had lost by a wide margin. His wife left him for the reporter that broke the “scandal,” and his opponent went on to be elected President. James got a job at the local library, where he greeted every person who came in with a genuine smile. Everybody thought he was retarded, so they treated him kindly.

James was proud of himself, even if nobody else was.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


in with SPACE COWBOYS

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Hammer Bro. posted:

A minor preface with regard to fiction: I maintain that the following piece is not fiction. But it would be unwise to always take an author at face value for such claims -- at some point, they'll be lying about it. Even when sidestepping the fourth wall and insisting otherwise. That being said, I declared I'd type this, so here it is.

---

Emotional Nudity (787 words)

I think I might be cheating. You see, I went onto Wikipedia to research my numbers and saw an image on the right -- is that nekkidwhat? people? Indeed it was, and (click, click)why you using parentheses here? at surprisingly high resolution. I scrolled down casually and settled on the crotch for a while, then went back up. Then the guilt kicked in. then then then

"She's not even that attractive," was my first thought. I had specifics, but they were rationalizations. I have a girlfriend, you see.stop saying 'you see' A little over two years and four months. She absolutely adores me, in a way that sometimes scares me. (I just stopped writing -- stalled deliberately. This is the hard part.) I love her, but not as much. (My hands are trembling.) this is so boring

This is a thought I've been actively avoiding; not letting myself form it even internally.as opposed to an external thought The days pass by in a generally comfortable routine. We get together a couple times a week, and sometimes I really do enjoy myself. But frequently I merely tolerate the encounter, waiting and wondering when I'll regain my freedom. I sometimes worry she doesn't know what actually makes me happy, as too often we spend great lengths of time doing (or more generally, not-doing)reminds me of this story i am reading where nothing happens things that make me increasingly, visibly sad. When she asks what's wrong I'll reply morosely but politelyhell yes two adverbs, then maybe she'll get upset too but we'll keep doing whatever it was (not doing anything) that upset me.

The worst part is, I could be doing things to make her happy. Genuinely happy, the kind of joy that wells up inside you and brightens the sky, leaving a bookmark in the story of your lifejesus. As opposed to the sticky, life-preserver happiness we drench sloppily across our sorrowsokay this is worse than bookmark in the story of your life. But I don't.is this really only 700 words?

I mean, sometimes I do these things, and when I do it's euphoricIN THIS MOMENT I AM EUPHORIC. Then the I-love-yous and the kissy noises are honest, reflected, and embarrassing in a way that warms the heart as well as the cheeksso deep...NOT. But sometimes I think about these things, either generally or specifically, and I don't do them. Not even to do anything else in particular. Far too often I think fondly of her when we're apart but become anxious and uncomfortable even when she calls.when is stuff going to happen in this "story?"

I'm going to go on one more tangent hereso instead of a story it's a collection of tangents, but I promise it's relevant. It's actually indirectly what I started writing about. You see, when I looked at that picture, first I became primally satisfied. Stimulated in the basal ganglianice wikipedia job there, or wherever it is, that lights up in women when they're involved in emotionally significant conversation and lights up in men when they see nuditymen are from mars women are from venus am i right?. Then, and this is the precise order, I began feeling guilty. Thirdly, I wanted to masturbate.LOL

Not, you understand, as a tribute to gluttony. Nor in response to the images and visions I was (currently) seeing. But to assuage the guilt.

Most of the times these days, and this is a sad reflection on the state of our relationship, I masturbate to escape; to withdraw. The fantasies are fleeting and the porn is rarely titillatingclever turn of phrase here, no it wasn't actually, but it takes me somewhere else. Somewhere distant. Somewhere private, away from her and now.

And that's what's got me writing. I don't like that I exert my neurons to actively avoid thinking about the ways in which I withdraw from the relationship. I don't like acting like I'm happy when I'm not, or returning the mwa-mwas out of tradition. So I have a plan.

At first I thought I'd show her this storythis is a story, not a livejournal post? or tumblr or whatever kids use nowadays. That would make her cry, and destabilize our relationship. I even wondered if that's what I subconsciously wanted. But now I have a better idea: I'm going to make it honest.

I see her tomorrow. I'm going tomaybe the story should have been this stuff that was going to happen happening spend the rest of the night thinking of something I can do to make her happy. Something that isn't part of the regular repertoire. I'm also going to bring up one thing which displeases me, should such a thing occur, instead of donning my usual mask of constant contentedness. I'm going to work my rear end off during business hours tomorrow; no SomethingAwful, no SoylentNews. And I'm not going to masturbate again until it's out of happinesswait till you have a wife and kdis man, masturbation will always be out of happiness; until I'm the one making the phone call and starting with the kissy noises just because that's how she makes me feel.

Apologies if I'm liberal with the prompt or over the word count, but I won't edit this. To do so would be to falsify what I've written, and I thoroughly want what I've written to hold true. And apologies for the bad handwriting -- I'll type this up when I get the chance, but right now I have more important things to do. Wish me luck.

I don't know what the loving prompt was for this one but I really hope this is the story that got you your loser avatar. Please write a story with a plot http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plot_(narrative and perhaps with something that I give two shits about?

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


o holy poo poo I just noticed you did a loving foreword to the story, it's even worse than my scathing crit otherwise indicated (really bad)

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Space Cowboys 1003 Words.

In a classroom beneath the shadow of Olympus Mons, nine-year-old Jannik Persson gave his end of the semester presentation. His throat was dry--and his voice as coarse--as the rusted soil outside the hab-dome.

“Hello, Everyone.” Jannik read from a tablet which he clutched in his sweaty hands. He spoke to the floor. “My name is Jannik Persson. My student number is eight-four-six-four-eight-nine. Today I am going to tell you some int-er, some int-er...int-er-ESTing facts about space cowboys. Did you, know, that space cowboys are named after...after...cowboys from Earth? Yes, cowboys on Earth herded cows in Spain and in the western parts of America and Mezzz--mezz-meksss--MEXICO. Why did they herd cows? Because before milk and cheese could be synth-i-ssss, could be synth-ee-sssiiz…synth-i-ssizzz…” Jannik bobbed his head back and forth, buzzing ‘s’ and ‘z’ like a snake and a bee respectively.

Jeter chuckled from the back of the classroom, but Mr. Tebaldi, the coolest teacher on Mars, pulled out his force-pulse laser and popped off a shot at Jeter’s desk. The shockwave hit the desk just hard enough to tip it ever so slightly, and Jeter’s significant bulk was justtttt enough for him to topple over.

“I couldn’t do that back on Earth,” Mr. Tebaldi quipped, “Earth’s gravity is more than twice that of Mars. Also the laws regarding corporal punishment are quite restrictive.” Tebaldi said as he slung his feet up onto his desk. “Jannik, let me see your tablet.”

Jannik, face red, shuffled toward Tebaldi’s desk and handed him the tablet. Tebaldi threw the tablet against the wall, and it shattered into pieces. “Now that works on Mars, as even in reduced gravity mass never changes, and remember that force equals mass times acceleration.” He faced Jannik, “Now, Jannik, I didn’t just smash your tablet to show how cavalier I can be or to teach the class about Newton’s Laws.”

“My tablet…why?” Jannik whispered. He didn’t dare look up.

“Do you love space cowboys?” Tebaldi asked Jannik?

“Yeah...they are so cool. I wish I could be one,” Jannik said, voice slightly louder.

Tebaldi pulled his legs off his desk and slid his chair across the floor until it was right in front of Yannik. He spun it around, then sat down in it backward. This was getting serious.

“So tell me--and speak up--why do you want to be a space cowboy?”

Yannik thought for a moment, still afraid to raise his eyes.

“Because,” he started, “because they,”
“Don’t just tell me! Tell the class!” Tebaldi pointed toward Yannik’s classmates. Jeter didn’t make a sound.

“I want to be a space cowboy because they are so cool. My grandpa was one, and even though he died before I was born, my mom talks about him all the time and I feel like I know him.”

Tebaldi smirked and nodded. “What kind of rig did your grandpa use?”

“It was really big and awesome and it had four arms. The arms used hydro-leak pisters to get really strong and bend big giant pieces of nanocarbs. My grandpa even got my great-uncle to paint a naked lady onto the side of the ship.”

Everyone laughed, and since Mr. Tebaldi was so cool, he laughed too instead of making Jannik get in trouble.

“My Grandpa helped build the Montana hab, so they called him Montana Peter. Space cowboys don’t like to have bosses, I never want to have a boss cause I don’t like being all bossed around,” Jannik’s eyes flashed toward Jeter, “but my Grandpa was kind of like a bossa the other cowboys ‘cause he was so good at getting the asteroids near the hab without wrecking it that he’d help all the other ones out and they just listened to him ‘cause of that. He wasn’t mean or bossy though. Everyone looked up to him, just like I do.”

“Ha!” Jeter yelled, “Your daddy, Poor Per Petersson, he ain’t even got a job! No wonder you gotta look up to your gramps!”

Everyone froze, waiting.

Tebaldi handed Jannik his force-pulse laser. “You show a bully you won’t take it, and they’ll leave you alone.”

Jannik raised the force-pulse laser to Jeter’s fat face.

“Or,” Mr. Tebaldi said, just before Jannik pulled the trigger, “If it were your Grandpa, do you think he would find another way?”

Jannik lowered the laser. Mr. Tebaldi never wanted him to shoot Jannik, and it’s the last thing his Grandpa, a real space cowboy, would have done.

“Ha!” Jeter continued laughing. “I knew you didn’t have it in you. Can’t even work a laser, you’ll never be a space cowboy!”

Jannik walked across the room to face Jeter. Man-to-man. With each step his legs turned to jello, but he thought of his grandpa--tough as nails--to keep himself moving forward. Time slowed to nothing: twelve seconds felt like twelve parsecs, but Jannik didn’t stop until he was face to face with Jeter.

“You gonna punch me?”

“No,” Jannik said, “I’m going to be your friend.” Jannik held out his hand, and though Jeter didn’t react right away, soon enough they shook hands.

30 YEARS LATER

Jannik and Jeter stood solemnly as Mr. Tebaldi’s younger brother read his eulogy. As the coffin was lowered into the Martian soil on the foothills of Olympus Mons, a young boy tapped Jannik on the leg.

“Mister? Are you two space cowboys?”

“We sure are, how did you know?”

“Well, I saw you had the triangle hat that space cowboys always wear, and also you have so many cool patches all over your jackets.”

Jannik looked down at his patches, they all signified different habs he had helped construct. He and Jeter had all the same patches, as they always worked together.

“Very observant of you,” Jannik said.

“Yes,” Jeter nodded. “A sharp young man.”

“What are space cowboys doing at my grandpa’s funeral?” The boy asked. “Did you know my grandpa?”

“Let me tell you a story about your gramps,” Jannik said, “It all started when I was about your age…”

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Bad Seafood posted:

Interprompt

Four-foot nutcrackers.

You want me to write about my ex-wife?

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Jitzu_the_Monk posted:

For the first time, I'm in with Vaccinophobia- Fear of vaccination.

drat, i was going to enter with this, guess i'll sit out this week

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


I'm in. My virtue is "submission to a higher power." Some people think it's a vice to believe in something bigger than yourself, so I guess this could fall under either category. I'll leave it up to the judges to decide.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Ahaha what the gently caress is this did you even read the prompt post.



I SMITE THEE, CACHE CAB. FOR THIS TASK, I SUMMON MY ANGELS.

TANTARA TAAAAAAA


Technically, since the prompt is just a jumping off point, does it really matter who the specifics come from? Sorry for not reading closely. The house is kinda empty this week, so I've been having trouble sleeping. My focus is shot.





Fair enough. I had a piece I'd been kicking around for a few weeks, which is why I picked the virtue I did, but the whole point of Thunderdome is to challenge yourself. I accept!

Oh, and:


Sitting Here posted:


an ignorant chunderbrain.

Fixed that for you.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Drat! Had some things come up this weekend. Still, better late than never.

Does this mean I can't lose, since I'm past the deadline? I'd still like some crits, if the judges are up to it.


Vector

Richard was watching his family sleep. The moon was high and pale over the hollywood hills. At night, you could almost pretend that all the mansions and celebrity compounds were still in tact, and maybe the power was just out.

Shannon moaned “Steve” in her sleep and Richard sneered to himself. Next to her, the children--Chase and Madison--slept peacefully in the little lean-to that Richard had constructed out of particleboard and the side of a broke down Toyota.

He noticed the Signs on Shannon somewhere around 5 A.M: a light crusting of the discharge around the nostrils...the slightly ragged breathing...the telltale blue tinge in her normally healthy, round cheeks. No one had ever heard of Jaagsiekte until it made the leap from sheep to their shepherds.

It all started in Scotland, though patient zero had never been conclusively identified. Jaagsiekte was the cancerous consequence of a retrovirus that was transmitted through herds of domestic sheep, particularly those kept in tight quarters. Usually it was transmitted through the air, and had never before been a threat to humans. But there was another method for the lung-destroying contagion...bodily fluids...and it was supposed by the scientific community and the C.D.C. that this was how the “Shepherd’s Cough” made the leap from sheep to human kind.

Richard shook his head. Goddamned sheep fuckers, he thought.

The epidemic had claimed just shy of one hundred lives before it was squelched out for good, or so the western world had thought. Maybe the Shepherd’s cough had thrived on in some remote community. Maybe a totally divergent strain had infected the humans of the third world. Whatever the cause, the Cough got a second chance at humanity and it didn’t waste it.

Last time Richard and his family had been near anything resembling civilization, the reports coming in from what was left of the pentagon said that a full third of the Earth’s population had been wiped out; livestock wasn’t spared either. Somehow the virus had gone from sheep to humans to cows and pigs and horses.

Richard shook his head again as though he were willing thoughts out of his mind. Goddamned animal fuckers, he thought.

“Yes Steve, right there,” Shannon moaned as she slept next to she and Richard’s children, blood of their blood, flesh of their flesh. Her sleeping breaths came weezily as the disease started its dirty work in her lungs.

The affair wouldn’t have ever ended, Richard knew, had the world not ended first. At least “Steve” was probably a bloated carcass somewhere.

Shannon sighed in her sleep, sighed and spewed out invisible bits of disease vector. The open air and the wind of the Hollywood Hills meant that the kids weren’t too much at risk, but suppose they found themselves in close quarters? Suppose one of the kids got too close to mom, maybe to give her a kiss on the cheek, or a reassuring hug? Before the epidemic, the whole family unit had been in danger of dissolving, due to Shannon’s unsubtle proclivities toward infidelity. The kids were old enough to be aware that something was amiss.

Ironically, the end of society as they knew it had brought the family closer together than they had been in years. Chase and Madison had been especially well behaved: going to get firewood without being asked, talking very little, never bickering with each other.

Richard wondered if Shannon had inherited the Cough from Steve’s semen.

He made a choice.

Softly, quietly, he made his way over to the side of the lean-to closest to where his children slept. Wordlessly, he prodded them awake, putting a shushing finger over his lips as they opened sleepy eyes and looked up at him.

“Come on guys, I’ve got to show you something,” Richard said.

The kids crawled out of the meager shelter, looking doubtfully back at their mother. The space between her upper lip and her nose was coated with tell-tale mucus now. Richard had to work to keep the disgust off his face.

“Come on, it’s just down the hill. Mom wouldn’t like it, so I’ve got to show you while she’s sleeping.”

With any luck, he and the kids could put ten or fifteen untraceable miles between them and Shannon.

Hours later, the sun rose. Richard and the kids were miles away.

Now you can be with Steve foreverI, Richard thought as he trudged onward and imagined two bloated and ungrateful corpses wrapped in each other’s arms, coughing and coughing and coughing.

Still, the kids would be better off. They cast him furtive looks as they walked, but said nothing. Maybe they’d known their mom was sick long before Richard did.

Yeah, he thought. The kids will be better off this wayI.

The sun rose on the Hollywoood Hills, and where there was not the stink of death, there was the coughing of the unwanted and the adulterous.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Well, I think I have to be the bigger man in this case and admit that I am disappointed in these results. I honestly don't think my story was the worst one out of the bunch, but like I said, I will man up and accept my fate. How do I go about picking a prompt? Are there guidelines or do I just pick whatever I want?

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Found a good gif if anyone wants to do a "pussy licking" joke...this one isn't mine but I'm about to post my sign-up once I find a good gif for myself

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


I'm in and am submitting my story. I've thoroughly read the prompt post and made sure I've followed all of the pedantic rules this time so I won't lose to some bullshit technicality.

RULE 1: My GIF of animals which inspired part of my story


RULE 2: My craigslist missed connection from the city I reside in. I have saved it as an image as instructed!


MY STORY

Cassius 723 Words. Quite a few under the count in case you try to count differently and gently caress me over.

Had some grits all by himself. Always eating alone. Grits go best with real yellow cheese.

Set out for the trail. Sundays real good for hiking. Wyandotte in fall. A different yellow more like rust and tinged with red. Yeah. Red leaves like blushing girls from when he was young. Walking up a hill with good boots on. Kansas City still has hills. Dressed for the great plains though got a flannel shirt and them nice boots. Here just rolling hills and a dirt road and him with his boots. Crunch. Knarr. Snap. Brokenleaves on emerald grass.

Don’t look. Keep walking. No there’s a dog there he can look at the dog indeed it’s a good one. Got a nice shiny coat on it well-kept this one. Supple breasts under tight sweaters. Yoga pants but the asses. The thigh gaps. Tight sweaters hang so low they’re covered. He can use his imagination, oh, but the dog is a good one a black lab he reckons.

Not gonna text him back gently caress that. Let him stew she’s got the tits she’s got the power here. Leash keeps tugging couldn’t text if she wanted. Might drop her phone screen’s already cracked. Damon pissing on the leaves. Ew. Gross and wet and brown. Leaves are yellow but when the yellow dogpiss gets them they turn brown. Ew.

-This guy going to a rodeo? Her friend asks.

-Lol, she says. They say lol aloud it’s like an inside joke.

Young girls just like he likes but not too young. Never too young. No way, no way. One’s got a black shirt can’t see much but at least the tight pants are white as winter. Other one looks cold. He likes when they’re cold. He can see them. Too close now look at the dog. Dogs always have wet noses. Wet black thing pressing onto his hand its wet and cold. Thermal goggles in Kirkuk the ragheads always had black noses. Tongue slips out its pale pink but glistening and his fingers shimmer. He looks up real quick. One quick look. Amber eyes like brown with gold leaf moistened with dew. Peering through his PTSD and seeing what he was like when he volunteered to break himself. What if he could freeze that naive boy in time?

-What’s his name? He asks, looking down her sweater as she pulls the dog back. Frozen stasis boy would smile and she’d smile back.

-Damon, she says thinking she’d be embarrassed her dog’s named after a vampire but this guy is too old so it doesn’t matter.

-Good boy, he says.

Two times. No, three. Use one now. He turns around quick. Yeah it was a black lab for sure and the white pants girl’s sweater's too low. Why waste one on her. He knew the sweater was too low. Black pants don’t reflect much light. Can’t see much contour. Like raghead noses in the desert. It’s fall but the sun is shining. Which one had the amber eyes? Two. They say it’s where the sun don’t shine but today the sun is shining right where it’s good and he lingers on two, two’s real good. She looks turn around. No Three. Can’t risk three. Two should have lasted.

That show is definitely lame. Google smart people books where someone is named Damon. If she were immortal she’d do really cool poo poo like learn a lot and why the gently caress would she stay in high school.

-Did that guy seem creepy to you? Her friend asks.

-I don’t know. Who cares?

She looks back and he’s looking at her. Ew.

Amber. Amber. Amber in fall, Queen of Autumn, lift her sweater and see her thong. Wide nose but no pores. Fake smile with no teeth. No teeth is good for some stuff but not for smiles. He’s not gay but they blew each other in Kirkuk. Guys know. Amber wouldn’t know but it would be okay he’d treat her right and she’d help him get better and maybe they’d go on hikes with that dog and in winter they’d come back here in the snow and say here’s where we met and when it’s white all around those eyes are like two suns. The real winter sun just a pale white dot next to Amber’s eyes.

He should have talked to her.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Okay, I should be mad at myself for not writing well enough. I realize that. I apologize to the judges for taking my anger out on them. I did not waste my time on this one though. I knew my story last week wasn't good so I was reading a lot of literature. I'm busy most days but I had today off, so as soon as the prompt was posted I found a craiglist missed connection and spent most of the day writing this story based on it. I chose a different style to write in to force myself out of my comfort zone because I realized my story last week was too plodding, exposition heavy, and most importantly I based it too much on my own experiences. I will thank the judges this week for choosing a prompt that forced me to write from a different perspective. After I finished it I found a good gif and let the gif kind of change the way the protagonist acted. Again I'm sorry for my previous tone!

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Thank you for the crit, sir

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Mercedes posted:

MERCBRAWL 5, MERCAGEDDON: How Inappropriate



This week, three of you lucky failures-as-humans will write me an inappropriate story. I will provide a list of titles to choose from. Here is the list. As always, this brawl is reserved for those who have not won a Thunderdome.

You're Different and That's Bad
The Little Sissy Who Snitched
Some Kittens Can Fly
Your Nightmares Are Real
Timmy's The Wrong Color To Be Your Friend
Go To Your Room, Mommy's Got A New Baby To Love


Will you offend someone? Probably. Should you care? Eh. This is me you're talking about.

It's not fair for one person to judge something so crass, so I'll be getting some hel-

A STRANGELY DARK AND HANDSOME JUDGE FELLOW HAS BE SPOTTED!!!

He can be a douchebag, so whatchout!

2,000 words due Wednesday 22 of October, midnight EST
There's no consequence for losing, but failure to submit is a ban from all MercBrawls. Here's the prize list.

I'd like to take you up on this, though I'm not sure if an "inappropriate story" is the best way for me to redeem myself. Still, I like to think that I've learned a little bit about how to toe the line in my adult life, so count me in.

I choose, You're Different and That's Bad

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Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014


Inappropriate MercBrawl Submission

You're Different and That's Bad (But It Takes All Kinds)
1545


Fat, reclusive Bruce was the first domino to fall.

Kevin was used to unsavory odors in the rickety old apartment building, but after a week of that distinct, too-sweet smell of decay, it was time to investigate. He’d gone straight to the floor above his, to the door of the unit directly above his.

He hadn’t heard Bruce’s heavy footsteps for a week; the footsteps overhead were the only contact he’d ever had with the man. Everything else he knew about Bruce, he’d learned from rumors.

So, Kevin was in front of the door, hand poised to knock, and the smell was so powerful that Bruce’s apartment could only be ground zero.

Just then, a door down the hall opened, and another man stepped into the hallway. Kevin vaguely recognized him from the gym down the street--what was his name? John? He looked like a beefy Backstreet Boy.

Kevin realized how stupid he looked, his hand hanging in the air in front of the door like a snake ready to strike. He had to knock. But if he knocked, that somehow made the rest of Bruce’s fate his problem, too. He’d have to go to the apartment’s office or call 9-1-1, then wait around the answer the police’s questions.

But here came John, his boy-next-door face etched with concern.

“Hey, I didn’t know we were neighbors,” he said, then noticed which door Kevin was standing outside of. “Oh, or are you a friend of this guy’s?”

“No, I, uh,” said Kevin. He wasn’t sure why he was so flustered, he was just doing what good neighbors do. “I live under Bruce and I hadn’t...heard...him in a while.”

John nodded knowingly. “You’re worried the worst has happened, but afraid to get involved,” he said sympathetically.

Kevin nodded.

“Well, lets do it together. You knock, and I’ll go get the manager with you if the guy doesn’t answer.”

Kevin felt reassured having someone to bear the weight of the situation alongside of him. He cast a sidelong look at John, and guessed them close to the same age. He felt a swell of unexpected camaraderie, and knocked confidently on the door.

Time seemed to hang, like gum oozing off the bottom of a chair on an especially hot day.

“Try again, louder,” John whispered.

Kevin pounded on the door. “Bruce,” he called. “C’mon, Bruce.”

Still nothing from the apartment, not so much as a groan or a shuffle. The smell wafted insistently out from the crack between the door and the doorframe.

John and Kevin looked at each other. At least they were in this together.

The next hour passed in a blur for Kevin. The manager called the police, the police and some EMTs entered Bruce’s apartment and confirmed the worst: The big guy was dead, had been dead for around a week.

Kevin and John peered into the dark, pungent apartment while the police radioed in about the corpse.

Bruce had died not so much on his sofa, but while enveloping it with his body. He’d been naked, his folds spread out over the cushions and arms of the couch like a extra thick, pink comforter. His head was lolled back, his many chins looking like an expanded accordion, his swollen tongue pushing out of his mouth like a tiny, grey baby crowning from a dead birth canal.

“He’s even bigger than he sounded when he walked around,” Kevin said, forgetting himself for a moment. “Guy’s gotta be, what, eight hundred pounds? A solid grand?”

“What I want to know is,” John said, “How are they getting him out of here?”

Through the wall, was the answer. The wall was the second domino to fall.

Kevin had excused himself back to his apartment. John offered to come along, but Kevin claimed to be queasy, and John didn’t insist.

An hour or so later, he heard the safety klaxons of a cherry picker, and the roar of a chainsaw. Directly above, in Bruce’s apartments, there were the sounds of something massive being slowly shifted. The wood-on-wood grinding noise made Kevin think that they were shoving Bruce across the floor to the exterior wall, couch and all.

He wondered if they would need a crane to get the guy out, then mentally chided himself for thinking that way. The dead man had met his ultimate fate, alone and naked in a stale apartment. He certainly didn’t need his anonymous downstairs neighbor imagining his naked body being hoist out of the apartment building. It takes all types in this world, Kevin thought to himself.

The chainsawing went on until Kevin thought his eyeballs were going to rattle out of his head.

He decided to distract himself with a good wank. It was only a matter of kicking back on his couch and looking up at the holographic GIFs undulating on his wall, each a projection of some well-built young man. Some of them winked coyly at him, covered only in their white skivvies. Some of them lay spread eagle, stroking god’s gift to men seductively.

Kevin turned off the lights via a dimmer switch on the coffee table, so that it was just the holo-GIFs light shining down on his exposed manhood.

He was three quarters of the way to climax when the chainsaw outside made an ugly grinding noise, then stopped. The ceiling groaned and shifted slightly, so that it canted downward in the direction of the exterior wall. The men outside on the cherrypicker shouted to each other. The shouts grew more alarmed. There came the sound of the cherrypicker’s warning klaxons again, and then its engine moving away from the building.

He froze, dick in hand, brain torn between curiosity, self preservation, and arousal.

The ceiling shifted again, Someone outside screamed. Kevin twisted his head so he could see out the window, just in time to see a massive, gelatinous shape tumble by. The ceiling groaned and creaked, as though it had been mortally wounded during the extraction and was coughing up its death rattle.

Someone pounded at Kevin’s door.

“Kevin,” John called breathlessly. “Kevin, you’ve got to get out right now! They’re saying your unit could collapse!”

Kevin scramble to his feet, but was caught in the tangle of his blue jeans. He toppled over and struck his head on the edge of the coffee table. Warm, wet darkness filled his vision.

“You okay, Kevin? I’m coming in…”

Kevin heard the doorknob turn. He flailed futily, fighting the roaring in his ears and its accompanying dizziness. He flung his arm out, reaching for the dimmer, the holo-GIF controls, anything that could hide his shame from John.

The door swung open. Just then, Kevin’s wall collapsed down and out, folding in half like a pamphlet. The ceiling crashed down. Dominoes tumbled.

John shouted; Kevin’s last thought, before he was claimed by unconsciousness, was that he hadn’t managed to shut the holo-GIFs off before the other man had charged heroically into the room.

Kevin felt terror, then shame, then blackness.

~

He came to in a hospital room, mostly immobile in a bed. The whiteness of the room shocked his eyes, so that he could only make at hazy impressions of shapes for a few minutes.

One of those shapes resolved itself into John.

“Hey,” John said when he noticed Kevin’s eyes were open. “Sorry. No one else came for you, so I thought…”

Kevin groaned and rolled over. Now he was some lonely queer in John’s mind; still, it was nice that anyone at all had come.

After a long silence, John said, “I saw. And I don’t mind.”

Kevin inhaled a sharp breath, thinking that he was hallucinating John’s words. Maybe John wasn’t there at all. Kevin rolled over to make sure, found John looking at him with wide, concerned eyes, and a small, devious smile.

“I’ve never…” Kevin had never mustered the courage to approach another man. He hadn’t needed to, thanks to the rainbow of stimulating gadgets and projectors and holos for every fetish. He’d certainly never been intimate with one; he’d grown up a farm boy, and such things weren’t done, or if they were, it was done fleetingly in a shed or the shadow of a barn.

“Are you...out?” John asked.

Kevin looked away. He’d always been too ashamed, hadn’t had the courage to admit it even to himself.

“I’m not putting any pressure on you, Kevin. You’re my neighbor, I’m just trying to be neighborly. I’m just saying, I know how it can be. You feel like a freak, even though you know there are a million other dudes just like you out there. You feel different, and bad, and you wish you could cut this part of yourself out with a scalpel.”

John took a deep breath.

“It can help, you know. To have someone who’s been where you are now.”

Suddenly, Kevin started laughing. He guffawed. Then he was crying--where the hell was he going to sleep? But then he was laughing again, for joy, and for the serendipity of being united with the first man he could ever admit affection for, all because of a dead obese corpse.

He held out his arms, beckoning.

John smiled and slid into the hospital bed with Kevin.

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