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Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


gently caress it, I'm in.

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Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


The Suffering Sister
(1190 words)


This bar reminds me of that pub in Rouen, I thought. I wish I could remember its name. If only it hadn’t been bombed out in the war. The establishment and the customers shared the same attributes: dark, dingy, and just a little bit seedy. It seems nothing is truly lost.

My mark’s face was lined and his hands leathery. He glanced at me, and his eyes sang a country song: a wife remarried, three kids grown and gone, nothing but an old house, bills, and a dog. As I sat down, he slumped back into his drink. This one was far gone; even the sight of an attractive woman didn’t bring him back to the real world.

“Money isn’t everything,” I said. He looked up and scowled.

“Only people with money say that,” he replied. “What the hell do you want?”

“I want you to listen to me,” I said. I blinked and, for an instant, my eyes were as bright as headlights. It got his attention: he sat up straight and pushed away the drink.

“What the hell?”

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Fisher,” he stammered. “Darren Fisher.”

“What I want, Darren,” I explained, “is for you to call your kids in the morning. Tell them you’re going on vacation, and you’d like them to come.”

“Uh-huh,” said Darren. “And just where am I going? With you?”

“Wherever you like,” I answered. I took a thick manila envelope out of my purse and slid it across the table to him. “That’s twenty thousand dollars, Darren Fisher. Take it.”

“Bullshit,” he said, but he grabbed the envelope all the same.

“No bullshit,” I insisted. “Just a second chance. If you squander that money, I’ll know, and I’ll come and set you right. You understand?”

“Ye-yeah,” he said. I smiled..

“Hey,” Darren said, “I thought you said money wasn’t everything?”

“It isn’t,” I replied, “but it certainly helps.” The jukebox switched to an AC/DC song - the one with the bell at the beginning. As the guitar cut in, I left Darren and walked out into the hot night. I put my hands in my pockets and wondered at the stars.

I miss having a friend. I miss Jeremiah.

-

Most souls die easy deaths. They come back and are overjoyed by the sight of their friends and loved ones. Heaven is, in a word, perfect. There is no want. Our bodies are built to never get sick, never age, never deteriorate.

I had no memory of my death. One moment I was tying a tourniquet, the next I woke up in Heaven. I had spent my days in France with my arms stained with blood and my ears deafened by the cries of young men for their mothers.

Jeremiah hadn’t been so lucky. He’d bled to death over the course of a day in a miserable, filthy trench on the German side of the lines. Most of his friends died the same way.

When we woke up, we demanded answers. We wanted to know why, and a perfect society doesn’t take kindly to questions. There are Rules and Punishments and a very real Wrath. Some of us rebel, fly the coop, and return to Earth, violating Rule Number One.

Jeremiah and I came here together. We fought the good fight: setting things right, staying on the move. Fifty years is a long time though, and we’d parted ways. He wanted to do more: change the world and set things right. I was content changing lives. I hadn’t seen Jeremiah since before the Berlin Wall fell.

“Don’t think of it as a matter of good and evil,” he said in my memory, “think of it as cops versus punks.”

-

I’d just lied to Darren Fisher. I wasn’t going to keep tabs on him; no amount of supervision would change a man’s nature. I had faith that he would turn out, and that was enough. It was a simple trick - about as simple as getting the money itself. All you had to do was fool the machine, give it a yes when the bank sent a no, simple as ever. Humans do the same thing, except with wires and computers.

To my annoyance, the street was full of people. I wandered down the sidewalk, trying to find a place with fewer prying eyes. There was a drunk man pissing in the alley behind the bar. I felt safe enough that even if he saw anything, he wouldn’t remember - or believe - it.

I closed my eyes and stretched. My wings grew out of my back; at first only a spreading arc of light, then materializing into skin, bone, muscle, and feathers. On the ground they’re unwieldy, almost thirty feet from tip to tip. In the air, they’re (if you’ll excuse the word) heavenly. Any more, I don’t feel myself without them.

I heard a thump behind me, and wheeled around to see the drunk man falling to the ground. His neck was skewed at the wrong angle. Next to him stood a tall woman, her eyes flashing with light.

“You should know better, Mallory,” said the woman, “than to reveal your wings in front of a human.” She drew a pistol from her belt. “I, Rachel, agent of the Lord, claim you and order you to-”

I didn’t wait for her to finish. To stand and fight was to die. I cupped my wings and flapped hard, sailing into the night. I made about twenty feet before she fired - first in my leg, then a better mark in my chest, and another through my left wing. The world swam, my breath left, and I fell to earth.

My wings were soaked with blood when I came to. I could feel the sucking of my chest, the burning pain in my leg and wing, a sense of numb shock everywhere else. Rachel stood above me, her pistol back in its holster. It must be bad if I’m not even worth a drawn weapon.

I tried to sit up, and screamed as my broken body lit up with pain. I’d be better in a few days, maybe a week at most, but by then Rachel would have me on the short path to Heaven and Judgement. A quick swipe, head separated from shoulders, and my soul would be on its way back.

“Took you long enough to find me,” I muttered through the fog of pain.

“Only a glimpse in time,” said Rachel, “and yet so much damage has been done to this world.”

“Damage?” I said. My laugh turned to a cough, and blood dripped down my chin. “I was helping these poor souls. More than you have ever done.”

Rachel drew a grim, etched blade from her belt. “No more,” she said.

There was a shot, and the blade fell as Rachel’s head exploded in gore and bone. Her body dropped unceremoniously to the ground. Thump.

Behind her stood familiar silhouette. He knelt down, his face close, and his hand touched mine. “Jeremiah,” I whispered.

Smiling, he heaved me over his shoulder. “Not going to die today, Krankenschwester.”

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


HopperUK posted:

:siren: ATTENTION DreamingOfRoses:siren:
You are toxxed this week and you've missed the deadline, but I am a benevolent god, so get your story posted before midnight EST and you shall not be banned!

Welp.

It's nice to know that I'm not going to be banned, no matter how bad my story is - especially since this is my first time in the 'dome.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


I have tasted blood and desire more. In.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


A Tin Of Beans posted:

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

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

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

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Bugging out for this one.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Since I hosed off last week, I'm in with a :toxx: for this week.

As a penance, I will crit the first two takers.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


December 21, 1983

Hank had been at the Party since the beginning, and he looked it.

The Party had been going on for a long time. It had started as a Shindig, a few dozen of Hank’s friends enjoying a night of reverie and carousing. After a few hours it had developed into a Party; and then a Rager. It had taken on a life of its own. Hank had glimpsed a slight hope of its ending around three in the morning, right before two more truckloads of people and alcohol had rolled over his lawn and into his house. Another round of pizza was ordered; these boxes were placed over the first delivery boxes, many of which were on top of the first round of bottles and cans left on Hank’s kitchen counters.

Hank had given in and slept for a few twilight hours. He awoke with the sun. There were more people here than there had been when it went down. He knew, he had counted. Roughage and condiments were strewn in front of his demolished fridge. The trail of devoured foods led past a half-eaten frozen burrito, over the melting remnants of an ice cream container, and around a mountain of paper towels mopping up some sort of viscous substance which Hank refused to identify. At the end of this trail was some dude making a huge pan of scrambled eggs while a dozen other hungry partygoers looked on.

The living room was worse. An upset potted plant lay at the foot of a couch covered in three semen stains and at least one puddle of dried vomit. Nerf darts lay in front of his coffee table, which had been upended as an impromptu barricade. His front windows proclaimed “DARCY WILLIAMS IS A BITCH” in large sweeps of mustard and ketchup.

Someone had poo poo in his sink and pissed in his trash can, likely because the toilet was backed up to the point that the lid would not stay down. An attempt at making bathtub sangria had apparently ended when someone had decided to shave their long, blonde hair in the same area.

Everywhere Hank went he stepped over sleeping people covered in their own sick. Piles of cans, condoms, and fast food wrappers were growing in every corner. Hoping for a short respite, Hank escaped to his back yard - only to find the charred, smoking remnants of a bonfire. Huge chunks of his wood fence were suspiciously missing. Strewn about the bonfire was refuse, sleeping bodies, and a snaking garden hose that ended in a fat, bearded man’s pants. The hose was on; water flowed over and out of his trousers and into a rapidly growing puddle in the grass.

A man in a pterodactyl costume walked out of the house. Seemingly unaware, he sat in the larger half of Hank’s shattered lawn chair, exposed himself, and began to masturbate. Hank heard a car roll onto his front lawn. The clinking of glasses in rustling paper bags called to him as an ominous bell.

As if to shatter Hank’s last hopes of reclaiming his house, a drunk, overweight woman fell through his sliding glass door. She rolled around in the shards, mixing blood with the vomit falling from her mouth. The woman stood and stumbled back into the house, muttering something about how she was “not that drunk.”

Hank was at a loss. What could he do? He knew without asking that these people would not leave. Not a single one of his friends remained; so far as he could tell, few of the people his friends had invited were still here. The police would be no help - they had come and gone around midnight. An idea dawned as the sun came over his roof: this was no longer his house.

He was not worried or concerned, just relieved. A man offered him another drink. He took it with a plate of burnt eggs. The grease and booze fell on his stomach like Napoleon fell on Russia - first with great violence, then to be expelled by sheer force of will. It
didn't dampen his spirit for spirits. More spirits. A different sort of spirits.

Hank’s garage door had been split in two by the front half of a green Ford Ranger. Its dimming headlights illuminated a group of filthy hippies gathered around a suspicious piece of glassware. Behind his upturned lawnmower was a large red container marked “NO MIX.”

Carefully, deliberately, Hank poured these new spirits around the edges of his house. He soaked the grass and his dilapidated flower beds, stained the gravel in his driveway and the wood on his porch.

Hank lit a match. It burned in his fingers, and in the light he saw himself: a flame guttering, ready to burn out at the slightest provocation. The match burnt his fingers, and he tossed it down on the other side of his line. There he lay, inside the line of destruction. Maybe he belonged there, inside the thing he had started. Hank put one foot inside the house, then another.

Behind him, an old man lit a cigarette. Something made of glass crashed loudly on his kitchen floor. Hank knew he couldn’t do it. Here he was, holding the gun cocked and ready to fire, and he couldn't pull the trigger. In the moment, he was not brave enough to end this.

The man dropped a still-burning butt on Hank’s pants. He stood up, frantically brushing the ember off and into the grass. Into the gasoline.

Hank's last thought was whether anyone would survive to survey the ashes.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


In before I catch whatever Cache Cab has.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Crit for Thalamas.

Thalamas posted:

Only One Brother 1199 words

Matthew looked down at the corpse and took another swallow of beer. This is a really awkward sentence. He clambered is the table a hill? onto the table into the center of The Apostle Inn where the body lay. Wait, is the dude like, standing on a table with a corpse on it? Is this a thing the Irish do, put dead people on tables in bars? Also, is this table steel or something to support two people? ”James was a good man, a loyal friend, and he could drink most of you under the table.” The gathered mourners raised their glasses. Why? “I’ll always remember the time we caught that badger and let it loose in here one Easter. You lot all screamed like a bunch of ninnies while Eve chased it out with a broom, calm as the day is long. She never took shite from you and she certainly didn’t take any from that badger. To our dear James, you’ll always be in our hearts, and to his lovely wife, slàinte!” I think you need to break up this speech, it just drones. Maybe show us some reactions (Matthew's or the crowd's).

Slàinte!” the crowd shouted back.

Standing By the bar, Paul wrapped his free arm around Eve. Tears shone in her eyes. “Drink, Eve. It helps,” he said, and followed his own advice.

She faced him. “I’m not sad, Paul," said Eve. "I’m happy the bastard is dead. Thank God I look like a grieving widow, but don’t mistake my tears.”

************

“We shouldn’t have done it,” the youngest brother I found out this was Paul in the next paragraph, but you should really say so here said in a low tone. “We’re going straight to Hell, Matthew. Jesus Christ, when Eve asked, I’d have done anything for her, but I regret this.”

“Shut your Goddamned mouth, Paul. We can’t talk about this here. We can’t talk about this anywhere.”

************

Drunken fools. He and Eve had been the last ones in the Apostle after a night of hard drinking two years ago, Matthew and Eve had been the last ones in the Apostle. They’d turned the Open sign to Closed and bolted the door. One night alone had led to hundreds sneaking, hiding, and loving.

In the end, it had been her words that had changed everything. “You’re the man for me. I can’t go back to James. No more, no more,” she’d sobbed. “You have to kill him, it’s the only way we’ll ever be free.” The blacked eye and purple ribs, an echo of his own childhood, had spoken as strongly as the words.

************

“Outside. Everyone is in here for the wake, we can talk there,” Paul said. He opened the weathered oaken door with an unsteady hand and they stepped outside. The din of drinking songs, speeches, and clinking glasses the wake faded as the door shut, leaving them only the quiet patter of spring rain for company. They walked along the slick cobblestones in silence, past fiery flickering? gas lights and houses, to the church. Matthew unlatched the gate and they entered the hallowed place. Is it important that Matthew opens the gate? Do you have to enumerate their entry?

Tombstones filled the grassy grounds. Matthew led them deeper, to the fresh, empty grave near the back where the light was dim. “Well?”

“I’ve got to confess, brother," Paul slurred. "It’s my only hope for salvation. I asked you for the poison, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be implicated,” Paul said, his words slurred.

************

“Brother, you’ve got to stop this. You’ll kill her if you keep it up. Eve is as tough a woman as I’ve seen, but another bad blow to the head like this and she’ll not wake up.” Matthew washed the blood off his hands in a bucket, then wiped them dry.

James sat on a stool. Long hair obscured his face as his head hung down. “I love her so drat much, Matty-boy. You remember when we first met and I made her that garland of wild asters and anemones? She looked so beautiful.” His voice was faraway.

Matthew snapped his fingers in front of his brother’s face. “You listen to me, James! Stop. Drinking. You’re just like Father and, if you keep this up, Eve will end up like Mother.”

James looked up and the demon was in his eyes.

This doesn't do anything for your story. You already established that Eve was abused by James, I just don't get what this adds other than the fact that James isn't a complete monster for about three sentences until he is.

************

“No. I’ve already lost one brother, I won’t lose another.” Matthew grabbed Paul by the arms as he swayed. “They’ll hang you.”

“Better an earthly death than a spiritual one. I thought I could do this, but I’m not that kind of man. You take care of Eve and The Apostle for me when I’m gone.” He broke his brother’s grip, but as he did, he slipped in the wet soil and fell. The open hole beckoned and when he hit the bottom there was no movement. Okay, I like the idea you have here, this sort of ironic falling into the grave, but you don't set it up properly. If he's going to die, you need to to hit that. What you've got here is him slipping and...maybe dying? Maybe passing out?. If you cut the last sentence and get to the reaction, it will help a lot.

“Paul? Paul!” He scrambled down and checked for a pulse. Blood covered a large stone, but no more welled from his sibling’s skull. I don't buy that there's a rock big enough to kill a person in a freshly dug grave, but that's just me. Also, there should be blood everywhere. I think that description would be more visceral and hit a better emotional chord.

************

Eve left. The condolences disgusted her. The beer tasted of ash on her tongue while his face still lingered there. Outside, the rain was coming down hard and felt pleasant on her upturned face: peaceful, cleansing. She turned down the street and headed for St. Mary’s, the only other place she felt at home. The great double-doors were well oiled and opened easily. She walked down the length of the aisle and sat in the front pew.

Great Lord, I pray to you for forgiveness on this holy day. I’ve sinned and I know how terrible a sin it is, but I’ve also done what was right in my heart and I believe you’ll forgive me for it. Maybe one day I’ll even find it in my heart to repent, but right now all I feel is anger, so I guess what I’m praying for today is the strength to let go of that anger. In your Holy Name, amen.

She could feel a lightness to her steps as she walked out the doors. Once again, I think you need to hit the emotional nature of this redemption moment a little harder. The focus is on the prayer, not on what the prayer does for her.

************

“Eve, oh God!” He had climbed out of the hole, covered in blood and mud, and cried. After a few minutes, he’d gotten up and wandered to the church entrance, looking for any kind of guidance. At first I think he sees Eve, then he's still in the hole, then he goes to see Eve. :what:

“Matthew, what happened to you? Where is Paul?” She was staring at him. Why? What is she feeling? What is he feeling? What is ANYONE feeling?

“I don’t know, I don’t know. He’s dead, Eve. He fell in the grave. Oh Lord, he wanted to confess and I said I wouldn’t let him. I couldn’t lose him and now he’s dead. If only I hadn’t brought him here. If only I hadn’t grabbed him!” He was wailing, ranting. Yeah, you need to tell us this in the middle of the dialogue. Help the reader hear your character, tell them what's happening as it's happening.

“You did this? You killed my Paul?” She flew at him in a rage, knocking him down, and then fled for The Apostle, crying, “Murder, murder!” A lot happens in this sentence. You should split it up, let us feel what's happening.

“No, Eve. It wasn’t me, he slipped!” Matthew shouted, but his cry was lost in a crash of thunder. But she's gone? I guess?

************

The people of The Apostle Inn mourners fled out into the night in search of the murderer, following righteous Eve. They followed her right past the alley at the side of the building where Matthew slumped in despair. As the last one filed by, he looked up and the demon was in his eyes you use this phrase twice and I have no damned idea what you mean. He stood and went inside for a drink as his father always had when things were dark. Oh, okay, you mean he wants to angrily booze. How do you see that? What does it look like?

On the table, James took a breath as the poison wore off. Matthew did not see, for he was looking down into the swirling gold of his beer. The eldest brother slowly sat up on the table and turned. He walked over to Matthew, who was hypnotized, and laid a hand on his head. “I have seen much in the land of death, brother. I am risen and, in the name of the Lord, drink no more. Where is our brother?” Good news: this is the strongest part of your story. Bad news: I still have difficulty imagining it. Matthew can't see James, then he's hypnotized by James.

Big Issues:

1. The ordering of your little segments is awkward and adds to an already confusing story. There's no need for a flashback. Your plot is fairly straightforward and you just confuse it by scattering details in pointless asides and POV changes. As an exercise, just rewrite this as a straightforward sequential story. It'll be better. I get it, I fall in love with stupid lovely storytelling devices too. Pretension will strangle you.

2. You need to get your reader inside your character's heads. You combine dispassionate dialogue with a lot of telling to make me not give a gently caress about (or even understand) the emotional impact.

3. If you're going to give us a turnabout gotcha ending, you need to set it up. Even something as simple as "Matthew wanted to tell Paul the truth, but he couldn't" would give us the idea that there's more to this than "James is dead." Since we start in Matthew's head, we should really get more than that. Also, why doesn't Matthew tell Paul the truth in the graveyard? Don't answer that, you should already know and so should I.


THALAMAS YOU ARE WORTH NOT ANOTHER WORD, ELSE I'D CALL YOU KNAVE. :siren: I CALL YOU TO BRAWL. :siren: YOU WANNA BE A WRITER? LET'S loving WRITE.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Cold Station (1129 words)

The Yukon sky was breathtaking. The aurora danced like grand, luminescent clouds in the clear, starry sky. Here, on the north shore of Canada, one could see so many stars it staggered the mind - between every tiny blip of light there was a softer dot waiting to be found.

Cassell slid off the corrugated roof of the generator shed and down into the path below. He and the other five men here worked perpetually to carve narrow canyons in the shoulder-high snow. Lieutenant Jones said the trenches would turn to caves by winter’s end; given the snowfall here, Cassell was inclined to believe him.

There were six men stationed here at Fox Romeo, just enough to keep the tiny base running. Their eyes watched the North Pole and the Soviets beyond it, their radar dish plying the heavens for sign of missiles and aircraft from the North. It was remote, lonely work, but every man here was proud to be serving his country - even this far north of the Circle.

The bright halogen lights surrounding the station dimmed, then flickered out. Cassell knew what that meant. His specialty on the base was maintaining and repairing the giant diesel generators that provided their power - their warmth, light, and contact with the outside world.

“Cassell, you on?” squawked his radio. He pulled the transceiver from his belt.

“Affirmative, I see it,” he answered. “On my way.”

The battery needles indicated a full charge, which meant they weren’t in the woods yet. He had just under thirty minutes before the Jones would have to make a decision to shut off the radar, leaving a hole in the USAF DEW range the width of Nebraska. Cassell got to work.

“Airman Cassell, you on?” Cassell checked his watch; Jones was a few minutes early. That was odd.

“Lieutenant,” he replied, “I’m almost there, just a few minutes.”

“Airman, this isn’t the only problem I have on my plate right now.” Jones’ voice was oddly strained. Cassell could hear someone yelling in the background. “Sergeant Haggerty appears to have cracked.”

Some men couldn’t deal with the isolation, the endless night, or any number of the other stressors up here. They snapped. A few rotations ago, one of the guys at Fox Echo had written letters to his dead wife for an entire day. On the wall. In his own feces. Haggerty had been on more than one rotation, though, and he hadn’t shown the usual signs.

With a clank and a whir, the engine’s flywheel freed. He rolled it over; once it was up to RPM he slapped the breaker from OFF to BACKUP and stepped outside the generator hut. “Lieutenant Jones, you on?” he asked.

“Boggle cup to clothe hatred,” said the Lieutenant’s voice. He must have misheard it.

“Say again, Lieutenant?” asked Cassell.

“Boggle cup to clothe hatred,” answered the Lieutenant, “sky over burning wash frame!”

Cassell cursed at the radios; the aurora would get to them from time to time. He jogged through the trenches to the command center. When he threw open the door, the panicked Lieutenant was being held against the wall by two of his fellow Airmen.

“What the hell is going on here?” asked Cassell.

“Probable hatred inside ungulate bash!” screamed Lieutenant, in a voice that said he was giving orders.

“The Lieutenant cracked the same way Haggerty did,” said Obermann. “Help us get him to the infirmary?”

Cassell opened the emergency closet and pulled out a coil of rope. “For now, just lash him to the chair.” answered Cassell. “I’m going to get Lampo. We’ll need him with two men out.”

Lampo was their medic. He was on sleep shift, where Cassell was headed before this little incident. As he ran to get Lampo, what worried Cassell was that, with both of them men above him out, he was in command now. He was a mechanic, and barely an NCO. With a shout and a shove, Lampo was out of his rack and beating feet behind Cassell back to the command shed.

The Lieutenant was sitting in a chair, untied. Obermann and Smith were sitting next to him, attempting to converse. There appeared to be some difficulty.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” said Obermann. “Smith just started with the gibberish, as well.” As if to confirm him, the Lieutenant and Smith began to spit out random words. They were quite insistent.

“People don’t just start going crazy and speaking gibberish in droves,” Cassell said.

“It’s not gibberish,” said Lampo, “it sounds like aphasia.”

“Did you hit the alert?” asked Cassell.

“No,” said Obermann, “I was waiting for rough.”

“What?”

“Hat grief inside yoga,” insisted Obermann. “Great yahtzee kill wanting!” Cassell hit the ALERT RETRIEVE switch on the communications panel. In six hours, a helicopter would be here to retrieve them. Standard procedure was to initiate a pickup if two people were incapacitated; they were far past that now. Cassell just hoped he could get out of this without an aggressive debriefing by his superiors.

The high-frequency radio crackled to life. “Fox Romeo, this...India Station. We received...ode...can you confirm?”

Cassell tuned the transmitter and keyed the mic. “India station, this is Fox Romeo. Confirm code blue. Repeat: confirm code blue.” They would be sending a team regardless; the transmission was just a formality. The sensitive nature of the stations meant that no details, no matter how small, could be transmitted on a frequency where the Russians could potentially overhear.

Lampo and Cassell herded the other four men away from the sensitive controls and into the barracks to await pickup. Cassell checked the battery on his radio and turned to Lampo.

“Check in every ten minutes,” said Cassell, “I need to go clear off the approach lights.”

“Got it,” said Lampo, “happy run ire.” He looked shocked. “Joy grunting park jack!”

Cassell hadn’t stopped long enough to think about what was going on here. The realization was like jumping into a pool. He had to stop them from coming, stop whatever this was from spreading. Jones watched him as he left Lampo and ran to the command center.

The words on the control panels were random, utter gibberish. He couldn’t make it out. Trusting that no one had changed the settings, Cassell keyed the transmitter.

“Aggregate for based right first,” he said. No, those weren’t the words! Struggling to focus, he tried again. “Frequent apple yes! Under grass liked!”

It wasn’t working. He couldn’t call in a quarantine if he couldn’t speak. Cassell spun around in his chair. The Lieutenant was standing there, a pistol trained on Cassell’s heart. They locked eyes, and Cassell understood. This was the only way.

-

“India Station, this is Fox Romeo Recovery. Report no survivors.”

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Susan Chen's Journal - Day 1 (1,121 words for my brawl with Thalamas)

This asteroid is starkly beautiful. After eighteen months inside Exupery, any open space would have been welcome, but 1036 Ganymed has already won me over. The grey, sandy hills sparkle and shine in any light. Each hour brings a magnificent sunrise or sunset.

It was a difficult trek to the American supply ship. Glenn had landed just beyond the horizon from Exupery. The half-ton of equipment I carried weighs as much as a feather, but still has the same mass to wrestle with. I was sweating after the first hundred meters. Further EVAs should be easier without that load.

The shelter and recycling equipment set up in only a few hours. I'm currently recording this in my shirtsleeves on a cot. They were concerned that the shelter wouldn't be large enough, but it feels like a mansion right now. In my mind I know how far away Earth and the rest of Humanity are, but I certainly don't feel lonely.

Day 11

Today was the most difficult day so far. The air processor stopped functioning, but the fault indicator wasn't installed correctly. I didn't even know about the failure until the reserve CO2 canister was already full. I only have two spares, so I hope I can repair the light before the processor fails again.

While I was repairing the recycling equipment, my torque drill punctured a hole in the pressure overflow vent and half of the atmosphere inside my shelter escaped to space before I could plug it. It took a full tank of oxygen to bring it back up to pressure. I'll have to trek back to Exupery for a second spare to keep up to mission rules.

It's been a week since I planted the garden, and nothing is growing. I've had almost no time for experiments between unanticipated repairs and my difficulty working in the microgravity on Ganymed. Meanwhile, Earth is growing in the sky. I long for home: blue sky, fresh air, and deep water.

Day 12

Seventeen hours outside setting up the mining rig today. Ready to strap into my cot.

Day 19

First sprouts in the garden today. It feels like I'm finally getting to the science, and there are only ten more days here on Ganymed. The mining rig struck 'gold' today: complex organic compounds under the surface. With any luck, I'll be making oxygen and water in a day or two. If that happens, I'll have some hope of meeting a few of the mission objectives. Considering asking Control for a mission extension in order to accomplish more of our goals. It would be a tragedy to return to earth with all of this effort wasted.

Day 27

Control gave me eleven more days. I'm ecstatic because the equipment is finally working as intended. There is even hope that the garden might produce a few small bits of food before I depart. I could be the first person to eat food grown on another world.

The Earth is a huge blue-and-white orb in the sky now. I can make out the continents when it's clear. I wish every person could see our world this way. How small we all seem, fighting and bickering over such small portions of this perfect blue dot. It was made for us, and we squander every part of it. I did my best to get some photographs, at least. Maybe they will inspire someone back home to see our world this way.

Day 35

Ate the first carrot today. The mission rules called for it to be given to chemical tests, but I've already tested the water and soil. It was my first fresh food in almost two years. There's so much growing in the garden now; I don't want to let it go to waste. I can't take it all with me in Exupery, so I'm going to try to eat as much as I can before I leave. Five more days.

I can see the lights of the cities of Earth by night. It's beautiful, but I know what those cities mean. Millions of people crowded so close together. It makes me thankful for this beautiful isolation of mine. I have an entire world to myself, and I'm giving it up to sit in a tiny metal prison for sixth months.

Day 38

I requested another mission extension today. Control is 'taking it under advisement' and I am to continue with the return preparations. My objections are, of course, 'noted.' I wanted to tell them to shove it. I've seen the same readings they have. With the garden coming up, I could survive with supplemental protein for months, perhaps years. There should be no objection to a few more weeks.

Day 39

I don't want to go home. The efforts of thousands of people brought me here, and it seems like the greatest disrespect to them - and to my new home - to abandon all but a few rock samples to the eternal black.

I've brought life to this world. It feels wrong to abandon it.

Day 40

I dreamt last night of building a home here. The descent stage of Exupery was a new, larger expansion to my garden. Control had sent me more supplies, beans and equipment for hydroponics. I dreamt that more people were coming to join my little colony, and I woke up in horror. This world might support a dozen people for a lifetime, but they would leave it spent. Empty.

The Earth now looms in the sky over my little home. It's nearly as large as it might be from the Moon. I can make out some surface details, and see cities on the day side in my telescope. I think of them looking up at me, just a dot in the night sky. I wonder if they see their world as I see mine: rich, sustaining, but fragile.

Day 47

I wonder if any of the Apollo astronauts cried when they left the moon.

For my part, there were definitely tears as I watched my little settlement recede and then disappear. I know how Ingrid Bergman felt in Casablanca: sitting on the last flight out as she watched her love stay behind. I didn't want to, I wasn't going to, and it was only the strong, steady voice over the radio that steeled me for what needed to be done. I felt no shame in those tears, only love and longing.

As 1036 Ganymed fades in my telescope, you might imagine I am excited to return to Earth. I built a home on a tiny asteroid; I brought life to a lifeless place. It was small and precious and delicate, but it was mine.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


You were an honorable opponent, Thalamas. Your story had a lot in common with Full Metal Jacket, in that it involved the word "human being" and bullshit posturing and firebombing. Also that it was a plotless mess of images without any emotional background for the reader.

Thanks to God Over Djinn for seeing that vague descriptions of a woman falling in love with an asteroid were OBVIOUSLY superior to a disconnected story about growing up as a gay football player or not a football player. You're the best.

Gau fucked around with this message at 02:13 on May 1, 2014

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Holy gently caress, I took a week off and everything went to poo poo for you guys. I'm in.

My gift is an irredeemably bad author.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Out for this week, it's not gonna happen.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


sebmojo posted:

remember when etherwind was etherwind

Is etherwind as famous here as he was in TG?

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Actually in this week.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Alight, Good Soul (1125 words)

Jamie Ballard sat behind me in the sixth grade, and she used to pull the feathers out of my wings. It was a game: she’d pull, I’d turn around, and then I’d be in trouble. It wasn’t any better on the playground. “Come on, Peter!” they’d say. “Fly for us!” It’s probably worth noting that my name isn’t Peter. On worse days, they’d call me Tinkerbell.

“You’re not that different, Ike,” my mother would say. “You’re a little boy too. Just try to get along and play.” I’d stare into my meatloaf and nod.

“I’ll tell you, son,” said my father, “you smack those bullies one good one, and they’ll never bother you again.”

“John!” protested my mother. She placed her hand on mine and looked into my eyes. “Bullies are just people who are hurting inside.” She smiled sweetly. “Really, you should feel bad for them.”

“It’ll be better when you’re older,” said my father. “Adults don’t act this way. You’ll find your own way to earn respect.”

I’d heard this before, of course. I don’t understand why parents say these things to their kids. What was I supposed to do, look at the kid who pushed me off the top of the slide and say “I’m sorry your daddy hurt you?” Uh-huh. That would earn me another round of hell.

We had this conversation on almost a daily basis. I’d once heard my parents arguing about whether or not to send me to a private school for people with Human Wing Mutation. My mother objected; even I knew we didn’t have that kind of money. I was certain I wouldn’t fit in there, either.

When I’d walk home from school in the snow and rain, I’d wrap my wings around me to keep out the cold and wet. I felt like maybe, if they were just a big bigger, just a little thicker, they could keep out everything else. It would just be me, safe from the pain and ridicule.

The rest of the time, my wings just got in the way. They’d bump and knock things over. I’d get mud and gravel in them and have to preen for hours. The worst part, though, was that they didn’t even work for their obvious purpose. With these wings, I couldn’t fly.

I’d seen people with HWM on TV, beautiful people with wings like an eagle or a dove. I read the Hero Hawk comic book religiously. I wanted nothing more than to be like them when I grew up. While they soared above the world, I was stuck on the ground. I think that’s what eventually got to me.

So, here I was, standing on the second-story roof of my school, looking out on the playground. My body had begun to change, muscles and hair sprouting from the unlikeliest of places. My wings surprised me with their new span.

I can do this, I thought. It’s finally my time. I can fly.

I beat my wings a few times for practice, then stiffened them like Hero Hawk did when he wanted to just glide. For the first time in a long while, I really smiled. I ran and swan-dived off the roof. The wind filled my wings. My heart soared. I was flying.

-

I woke up in a hospital bed. I’m sure I would have been in a lot of pain, but they’d already put the IV in my arm. Even more than when I’d jumped, I felt like I was above my problems. I struggled to focus, and found my mother’s face.

“M-mom?” I stammered, my tongue too big for my mouth. “What happened?”

“Oh, honey,” she said. Even if I couldn’t see her tears, I could hear them in her voice. “I wish you’d talked to us.”

“There was no reason for this,” said my father. “We should have taught you better.”

I twisted my face in confusion. “I don’t understand,” I said. “I was flying. How did I end up here?”

“You have a concussion,” said my father. He shot an accusatory look at my mother. “You can explain it to him,” he said.

My mother took my hand in hers. “Ike, you...you don’t understand,” she said. “You might not be able to fly.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Your dis-your gift, it’s rare,” she explained. “Humans aren’t built to fly. We’re too heavy.”

“But...I’ve seen it,” I said. “Hero Hawk flies!”

Hawk Hero is a comic book,” said my father. “The truth is, we should have told you this sooner. Some people with your disorder can glide, but most spend their lives just like you. On the ground.”

Even through the medication, I could feel my anger growing. It burned through my heart and into my face. I yelled; I don’t remember what. I wanted them to go, to never speak to me again. They obliged me and left.

The doctor came and went. So did a psychiatrist, who wanted to make certain that I hadn’t been trying to kill myself. I thought it was obvious that what I wanted was actually quite the opposite.

-

When I’d come home, my parents introduced me to a website for people like me called “Grounded Angels.” They thought it would be helpful for me to share my experience with others who had the same problems. I saw a counselor and moved schools. None of it helped.

Most of the Grounded Angels wrote long, impassioned diatribes at each other about how their depression was natural, society was wrong, and the bullies were just haters. It was okay that we couldn’t fly; we were angels even as our feet remained on the ground. My counselor tried to sell me on the idea that Things Get Better. Someday I would Grow Up and find my Self Esteem and People Would Love Me For Who I Am.

I was smart enough to recognize these lies; I’d been fed them by my parents for the better part of a decade. I dreamt of flight, of that moment when my wings caught the wind. I overheard my parents discussing surgery to remove my wings. I could go to college on a fresh slate, unburdened by my “gift.”

I unfurled my wings in the wind, gazing out my future from this height. Graduation was just weeks away. Beyond that, I could see my life. Even if I had my wings removed, they’d done their damage. I’d never be like other people. I was too damaged to pretend. Extending my primaries, I leapt from the top of the water tower.

Never to touch the earth again.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.



Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


In

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Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


A Ghost in the Desert (700 words)

Story Picture

Koltor knew the ghost was still there and even the strongest magic could never banish it from his thoughts. They had sat here, in the middle of an endless desert, for a day and a night. The ghost never spoke, even when Koltor had screamed, pleaded, accused. It smiled when he was happy, frowned when he was sad, and pointed to the horizon when asked a question.

The sun burned overhead during the day and Koltor was terribly thirsty. After sunset, the desert became cold and he knew hunger. At dawn, a horse appeared on the top of a dune in the distance. Koltor ran across the sand to the horse. He swung up onto its back, gazing across the desert. Any direction was as good as another, he thought, and so he put the sun on his back and rode.

The ghost followed him, walking next to the horse. As the sun ascended, they came across a bizarre, lifelike effigy hanging from a pole. Koltor dismounted and approached. The workmanship was incredible; it looked just like a real person. Lifeless, but realistic; Koltor shuddered and turned to leave. The ghost pointed at the effigy, and it descended to the sand. It continued pointing, and Koltor looked at its face.

Koltor had few memories of his mother. She had died when he was young, and only a few hazy images of smiles below loving eyes remained in his mind. And yet there she was, in this desert. Her smile, her soft face, her beautiful hair - entirely identical. The eyes - the eyes were dead. There was no love there.

A tear fell from Koltor’s eye. He cursed and mounted his horse. What demon was this to play such cruel tricks on him? He must leave this damned place. The horse carried him onward.

For a full day and night, he passed these lifeless mockeries. Some he knew well, some not at all, but he came to realize that these were all of the people he had known in his life. There were thousands; at times he struggled to navigate his horse through and around them. Then, at dawn, there was one last effigy. Koltor fell to the sand upon seeing it.

It was his father. It hung there in judgment of the son. The eyes followed him, gazed through him to his sins, his regrets, his fears. His soul burned, like so much liquor sitting on an upset stomach. It needed out.

The ghost extended his hand to Koltor, motioning him to rise and get back on his horse. He did, and as they rode away from the rising sun Koltor began to speak.

The wrongs flowed out one at a time, his life story played out as a story of the evil he had done. There was much to tell, and they rode for days and days before the entire story was told. As they rode, Koltor noticed the ghost became more substantial. Its face, once formless and vague, took on familiar characteristics. It began to leave tracks in the sand next to the horses’. As he spoke, Koltor felt his thirst fade and his hunger leave him. His skin, reddened by the sun, hardened and no longer felt heat or cold.

Koltor finished his confession. The world had begun to fade; Koltor saw the ghost, now barely translucent, take the horse’s lead and guide them over a final hill. In the distance, he could dimly glimpse a wide shore and an expanse of sea. And then Koltor fell forward, and was no more.

-

Two figures stood on the shore, the first and last Koltor had seen in the desert. They were no effigies, though; their eyes burned with life and knowledge. They smiled warmly as the ghost approached.

“Welcome, son,” said one.

“I have been waiting so long,” said the other. “Will you come with us across the sea?”

The ghost took a coil of rope from the horse’s saddle and a long pole from the shore. “Yes, mother,” it said, “but I have one final burden.”

“We will wait.” The ghost slung the dried effigy over its shoulder and began its journey toward the sunrise.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Intrigued

Woo my first mention is honorable!

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.






A Dog is for Life (863 words)

“Come down, Indy,” said Friend. Indy jumped off the back of the wind machine and saw the Tree Place for the first time. The trunks reached up to the sky, and between the gargantuan trunks was a dense, lush brush. A bird flew out of a bush; Indy barked and ran after it, diving into the shrubs.

Yelping in alarm, Indy jumped back out. The bush had scratched his sides, and Indy wanted to be certain he scared this vicious thing away. He barked aggressively, but the bush just sat there in defiance. Friend made a happy noise, and Indy turned and ran back to him. The evil bush was forgotten as Indy panted and accepted Friend’s loving pets.

Indy and Friend walked up a clear path into the Tree Place. They wandered for a long time. Sometimes Indy would stop in the rushing water to drink and play. Other times Friend would stop and look through her box. Indy loved to explore, meet (and chase) new animals, bark at sudden movements, and generally get himself far ahead of Friend. When she called, he would sullenly return to her side only to dash ahead again a few minutes later.

The sun was bright and high up when Friend stopped and sat on a rock. Indy smiled and hung his tongue as Friend took the food from the bags on his back and poured it on the ground. He ate the food with gusto, dashed off to the rushing water, and returned even more excited. “Good boy,” said Friend, patting his back. She pour some water in her mouth and then shouldered her own bag.

After the meal, the path became much more difficult. The incline grew, only flattening out for a bit before resuming its climb up the mountain. Large rocks interrupted the path. In a short time, Indy was panting, hot and tired. Friend was wet and smelly, and they stopped regularly. Indy loved these breaks, as Friend would pet and praise him.

They came to a place where the trail disappeared into the rushing water. “Stay,” said Friend, and Indy laid down on a patch of grass and waited for Friend to return. Friend seemed upset when she returned, and Indy wanted to be a good dog. He followed her through some brush, dealing with the scratches and bites as he kept up. They reached the edge of the rushing water again.

A huge tree had fallen across the water and died. Friend jumped up onto the tree and began to walk across it. Indy jumped up behind her, following closely behind. The water below was moving fast just below the log, rushing through and over the rocks. Indy’s paws shook as they neared the center of the log, and he faltered. Friend kept going for a bit, then turned to face Indy.

“Come on,” said Friend. “Come, Indy.” Indy tried to obey, moving one paw forward, then another. Friend moved closer to him, reaching her hand out. One of Indy’s rear legs slipped. He dropped his belly to the log and frantically grabbed at the tree, trying to stop his fall - but it was too late. The water rushed up at Indy and consumed him.

He couldn’t swim, couldn’t smell, couldn’t see or hear. His breaths burned his lungs. Hard things hit his head, his sides, and his back as he tumbled under and through the water. It was hell, and then he felt his collar pull. The water rushed away from him, and Indy fell into the biting grass. He retched and vomited water onto the ground, and then coughed until he vomited up his lunch.

Friend’s smell was close by. Indy found her laying against a tree in the tall grass. Her arm was hurt, and dark water was running out of her head. She smelled like sickness. Indy nuzzled her, and Friend’s eyes opened.

“Indy…” said Friend. “Good boy.” Indy smiled and moved to accept a feeble caress from his Friend. She made sad sounds. Indy wondered if Friend knew she was dying; he wished he could tell her so. Instead, he gently licked Friend’s arm and head, cleaning off the dark water. At first, Friend made more sad sounds, but now her eyes were closed. Indy moved under Friend’s arm and snuggled close.

Friend stopped breathing.

Indy whined. He cried for Friend. As the light faded, small animals came to eat Friend, but Indy growled, barked, and scared them off. A large animal came through the brush, but it did not come near. Indy growled at it, just to be certain.

As the sun came up, some other people came through the trees. Indy barked at them, but they were not afraid; he growled, but they kept coming. One of them reached for his collar, but Indy snapped and the person pulled their hand back. Indy watched as they made sad noises. More people came. Indy tried to keep them away, but they loaded Friend onto a flat thing.

Indy walked right next to the flat thing the entire way down the path. No one else would hurt Friend. Wherever Friend went, he would follow.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


In the corner, an ancient typewriter gathers dust.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Cache Cab posted:

I still want to brawl someone



You're mine, bitch.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

Who wants to ref this poo poo?

I'll take this. Prompt incoming.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Around the World Brawl: WeLandedOnTheMoon! vs. Broenheim

It's loving cultural sensitivity week for you two. Your stories will be set in a non-Western society where the characters and plot reflect the unique aspects of that culture. I want a story that could not be set or resolved anywhere else in the world. Your story shouldn't be about miscommunication between cultures, cultural stereotypes turning out to be true, or told from a Western perspective. Stories about Japan or any other fictional culture will be disqualified.

Word Limit: 2000. Use them well.
Due Date: Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 1:37 PM Pacific Daylight Time.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


GAU'S OPINIONS ON WEEK XCVII or A Few Gems Amongst Turds of Varying Size and Odor


When Judas saved Jesus - Cache Cab

Terrible, no motivations whatsoever. Who the gently caress are these people? Why are they there? Who is your protagonist talking to at any given moment? You seem to want us to fill in this cliche world without actually giving us anything to latch on to. The "temptations" (both by the bad guys and good guys) are way too short to have any impact. The opening quote is overwrought and gives me nothing about the story. Missed a loser's spot by virtue of the other two judges hating the losing story slightly more.


Scapegoat - CommissarMega

Your "introduction" gives us so little about the story or setting that I'm lost almost halfway in. This feeling will not go away as I wade through overwrought scrawls about Vichy France. Who are these obnoxiously French people and why the gently caress do I care? The middle "background" bit of your story could be a flashback or dialogue or literally anything better than the author just telling me what this guy is like. I end with literally no idea what the gently caress happens in this story. Someone saved some Jews, someone died (perhaps they were secret police?).


Old Ways - Meeple

I enjoyed this one. The accents add some character to the story. It's rough in places, but sets up scenes well and definitely gives me an idea for who these people are, what they are doing, and why they are doing it. The ending is weak, mostly because I feel like the story should either pay off for the characters or they should get screwed in the end in true cyberpunk style.


The Bottom Line - Entenzahn

Ugh, your opening loving blows. It grabs me and then does absolutely nothing. Let me summarize this story: Dude with a price on his head tries ranching, fails. Takes a job with a literal psychopath. Dude's wife and kid(?) visit him at "work." Psychopath sells him down the river. Dude blows everything up.

Names aren't characters. Are you sure one of your characters should say "true that?" Are you certain your protagonist is not the worst criminal ever? Why does he work for a cartoonishly psychotic dude? There's a decent seed of a story here but the details and execution are utter poo poo.

Also, dynamite does not work that way.


Small Town Justice - Broenheim

I enjoyed this. Well, I enjoyed this a lot more than everything I'd read before this. It's rough in places, but the idea comes through. My big issue is that there's no payoff, the story just sort of...ends. You need to be clearer in your action scenes, I had no idea the cops were there for the protagonist until they arrest him. Without a satisfactory resolution, though, this story barely makes the mid pile.


Sarah, Underwater - God Over Djinn

I'm sold on Sarah and Caroline. It definitely feels authentic to the way girls this age think and treat each other - I feel like I could know this kid. I want to help her as the story goes on. The ending gives her actual development, a change in character that will matter in the future. My only slight criticism is that the ending could be clearer as to whether Sarah's changes are more of the jealous farce or an actual, real character development.


Sundown Towns - Nethilia

This is a good story written terribly. Interesting concepts presented with zero context. I guess it's set in a segregated, racist future - but black people have mobile phones? I want to feel something for the main character, but everyone else is just a throwaway cardboard cutout.


Making The Grade - WeLandedOnTheMoon!

A good story well-executed. I nominated this for an HM. A few nitpicks: your main character is well developed, but your other characters need to be better put together - even if it's only through Maggie's eyes. I'm uncertain when and if Violet is being sarcastic. Saying "Hey man" seems out of character for Maggie.

Is there such thing as "remedial" Algebra II?


The Whisperers - BrilliantFool

This feels like two stories: one awful, incomplete bore about a guy overhearing people talk poo poo about someone he cares about who is dying and a second, decent one about words and their consequences. I get what the writer is trying to accomplish, but I feel like the second bit would work better expanded without the overwrought introduction.


The Mirage - Jick Magger

This is an A+ delivery on the prompt. The protagonist is doing an illegal thing for good reasons, the characters are illuminated through events and interactions, and you delivers the end well. My only real criticism is that I don't get how someone walked from Guatemala to the US-Mexico border.


Ceiling Guy - V for Vegas

Okay, if the dude is going crazy, then you need to go a bit further with that. If he's not, and there's actually a dude in his ceiling, then there's a metaphor here that I'm missing.

Oddly, I kinda like it. I just can't figure out why you'd write this without going somewhere with it.


Writing on the Wall - Kaishai

This story is solid. It takes the prompt somewhere really interesting and sells me on a character who is having a really hard time making their way in a world that sucks for him. Something interesting happens in the end and the character shows their true colors until the end. This is how to take a prompt somewhere the judges didn't expect.

I think taggers might have been slightly more creative in ruining his art. Maybe a crude phallus.


Small Victories - Nikaer Drekin

Okay, so he was surprised when his estranged bitch of a wife decided to have him shot? Why did she have him shot? Why were they estranged? What/who was he originally waiting for? None of this is happening for a reason. Escaped an HM by not being the biggest turd in the pile.


Constable Xinling lands the graveyard shift - Surreptitious Muffin

Chen meets the prompt perfectly and lives in a world (at least, in the story) where good is pointless. The cultural perspective of the story adds to it instead of just being a curiosity. I think if the story has a fault, it's that it cleaves too closely to the noir inspirations for the prompt.


Getting His Wings - Fumblemouse

My eyes rolled progressively further into the back of my head as I read this. The story spends too long dwelling on the psychology of taking pictures with a camera phone (wait, do embedded reporters get camera phones?) and then drops into a cliche morality play about the not-VC who may or may not be trying to trick the naive photographer.

Oh, and there's an explosion. Ugh.


Justice is a Good Machine - Sebmojo

This is well-written but doesn't really evoke anything in me, not even the derision I felt when reading the giant turds. You need to find an emotion and yank on it. The descriptions were interesting, and I definitely feel like I could see the setting in my mind's eye.


The Climb - Fuschia Tude

Farmer Jones and Completely Ignoring the Prompt: An Incoherent Tale of How Gau Lost Two Minutes of Life


Fresh Powder - Grizzled Patriach

Okay story except for the fact that is just stops and nothing changes. I feel for the protagonist and his charge. I want him to get better. Should probably be clearer about what is going on with the disease. You had 480 more words, you should have done something with them.


O.G. - Tyrannosaurus

Good story. I like the characterization; I believe both of these people and understand their motivations. Didn't like the inherent hypocrisy of the uncle's actions, but it felt real. The slang hit me completely wrong, and the turn is after-school special. Your last sentence has two verbs, perhaps you wanted an "or" in there?

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

So I wrote 2000 words on this thing, and was done yesterday night. Care to revise the due date, or should I go ahead and post now?

Dude, just post it. With the forums going SNAFU, we're going to have to be flexible.

My brawl entry is finished and will be below this posthaste.

Edit: Changed my mind, Broenheim and WeLandedOnTheMoon you have until 1:37 THURSDAY PACIFIC to post your delicious stories for me to tear into pieces.

Gau fucked around with this message at 01:18 on Jun 26, 2014

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Brawl vs. CACHE CAB seriously I've had this ready since Sunday night do you know how difficult it was not to fiddle with it all week

A Reward for the Righteous (810 words)

The wind blew hot and dry across Isaac’s face, and God spoke to him - not as a booming voice in the sky, but as a quiet whisper in his heart. With eyes closed and lips animated in prayer, he heard his Father’s voice as the ineffable knowledge of what was right and wrong in this wicked world.

“Amen,” said Isaac. He was kneeling at the top of a knobby hill; sandy scrublands stretched in every direction, backed by increasingly impressive mountains. Isaac stood and pulled the hobble from his horse. Swinging a leg over, he gazed across the desert and saw a rising cloud of dust riding away at a hard run.

A man named Harcourt had shot two gamblers and a working woman in a tavern in Fort Hall. He’d stolen a horse and fled as fast as the nag would carry him. When Isaac rode out the next morning, he followed a steady trail leading south toward Utah. In Salt Lake, the badge on his vest wasn’t worth a hunk of tin.

Isaac sang as he spurred his thoroughbred on down the hill:

Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand,
Working in the dark against your fellow man.
But as sure as God made black and white
What's done in the dark will be brought to the light.

You can run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time…
Sooner or later, God will cut you down.


Harcourt nearly made the mountains before his horse lolled and fell over into the brush. Harcourt’s stout, bow-legged shadow walked away from the screaming mount. Isaac was surprised that the outlaw’s third-rate quarter had made it this far; his own horse was covered in foamy sweat. No longer in need of a hurry, Isaac reined her back to a walk.

The spent horse brought Isaac a to a moment of pause. Its breath came in ragged, painful gasps. Blood poured out from the spur-cuts on its flanks. Harcourt had left this poor animal to die in the hot sun when a single bullet would have ended its suffering. It was a monstrous creature indeed that would murder three people in cold blood, but left a stolen nag in agony to save a bullet.

Isaac cocked his pistol and took deliberate, slow aim at the creature’s head. The shot echoed off the foothills and across the flat. Harcourt started and began to sprint away.

Isaac spurred his horse into action. Like an avalanche gaining on an unfortunate traveler, the marshal rode the murderer down. Harcourt tried to juke and cut, but Isaac just circled around him. At ten paces, Isaac halted and brandished his revolver.

“Right there is just fine, Harcourt,” he called. “Get those hands up.”

Harcourt raised his palms next to his chest and turned around.

“All the way up,” said Isaac. He slid off the horse, his boots drawing up a puff of dust.

Harcourt’s scarred, wicked face twisted into a smile. “I’ve heard ‘bout you, lawman,” he said. “Says you ride hard, but you ain’t got guts to kill a man.”

“You do as I say,” Isaac said, “and we won’t have to find out.” The smile on Harcourt’s face faded, but didn’t disappear.

Isaac felt the pull of the Enemy on his soul. Some part of him wanted to shoot this man, to have it out here and now. Just a squeeze of the trigger and Isaac could drag the body back behind his horse, instead of escorting him back to Fort Hall for three days or more. He’d sign the papers, claim his reward, and no one would miss a thing.

It wouldn’t be justice, though. Isaac was a man of the law, but he was no judge. He had no God-given right to name himself executioner. The voice of God whispered: Thou shalt not kill.

Isaac pulled the hammer back. “Get those hands up right-”

Harcourt’s iron leapt out of his holster like a snake striking at the air. It was all impossibly fast; Isaac never heard the shot. There was a flash, and hot iron burned in his chest. Blood dripped from the hole in his heart as he fell to one knee. In the distance, his horse ran into the brush, spooked by the shot.

His crooked smile back in force, Harcourt took a few steps forward and placed his boot in the center of Isaac’s chest. “Thought so,” he said, pushing Isaac over his legs onto his back in the dirt. Harcourt laughed and spit, stomping off after Isaac’s horse.

Isaac’s breath was gone, but his voice mouthed a prayer. Even as his life faded and a murderer rode off on his horse, he said the words. They were the only justice he knew.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


I object to being deemed "sensible" but am otherwise in.

Edit: much better

Gau fucked around with this message at 04:14 on Jun 26, 2014

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


:siren: WeLandedOnTheMoon! vs. Broenheim: Around the World Brawl results :siren:

Broenheim featuring The Blood of an Emperor

You may have been at a slight disadvantage here because I'm rather familiar with and particular about representations of Chinese culture, but I doubt it. You have good and great sections interspersed with mediocre attempts at drama. I don't buy your protagonist for a second - okay, maybe for one moment. But that's it. Chinese people do not speak this way. The first three minutes of the hit Disney Animated film Mulan reflects Chinese culture better than you do. Your prose is choppy; work on tying sentences and paragraphs together while telling us a bit more about the characters and what is happening both in their heads and around them.

With a reworked ending and some thematic work, you'd have a decent story. As is, very little about this feels authentic or interesting. I like the dragon.

For much more critique, you can read your line-by-line.


WeLandedOnTheMoon! featuring The Kabbadi Raider's Path

Broenheim's entry was terse and unrefined; your entry was the complete opposite. Brevity is your friend. You seem to add words and entire sentences to your unending, tortuous dependent clauses with too many commas connecting thoughts, like a run-on stream of consciousness without the concrete and realistic tone that characterizes such writing, so it ends up reading like you are just scared shitless of putting a period in where you could possibly shove a comma. You even put commas, in the middle of sentences, because holy gently caress we might not have enough commas.

That said, your story grabbed me really well. I enjoyed the thematic ascension from Hell to the Blessed Realm. You need to imply or enumerate some of the cultural elements a bit better. Luckily your story was interesting enough that I looked some of them up (and was fascinated). If you had worked a bit more of this description into your story, I might have been fascinated without resorting to Google.

Your detailed critique will tell you a lot more.


Winner: WeLandedOnTheMoon! Congratulations!

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Bad Seafood, how long does Cache Cab have to submit his story before he forfeits?

(Please don't forfeit Cache Cab. I want to trounce you fair and square.)

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Bowing out for this week. Was going to kill my protagonist again and I've done than so much that my friends are becoming concerned about my mental state.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Death to the opposition!

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Bad Seafood posted:

As per Muffin's request that all brawls be pushed back a week, he has an additional week to make good on his somber submission. Since it is technically Saturday at the time of this post and I'm too tired to dig around for whatever the original due date was, we'll just say he has until next Saturday, July 5th.

Since Cache Cab has apparently vanished from the forums instead of face me and my storytime might, do I get a win by default? I would like to humbly request a crit, as I'm rather proud of the story I wrote and nothing would make me happier than to have it torn to shreds and then have you arrange the shreds in an effigy of Gau and then light the effigy on fire while making disparaging comments about my parentage and body odor.

That said,


Djeser posted:

I have lost! My perfect record! :ohdear: But it was to a more-than-worthy opponent. Good fite, all.

If anyone wants to try to take me down get me back up to 75% win/loss on brawls, I'm ready to fite u.

I'm sowwy, are woo a widdle cwy babby? Did oo wooze?



For shame, son. Defend yourself or surrender your honor!

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


So in for a three-way. After all, that's the golden rule.

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Gau posted:

So in for a three-way. After all, that's the golden rule.

Phobia posted:

Man, I'll fite both of u. That's how I roll.

Djeser posted:

will fite either/both of you

Who wants to judge this fucker?

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


This is going to be an awesome brawl.

Speaking of, I think it would be incredibly relevant to include each team's overall brawl record on that delightful scorecard.

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Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


no crabrock this is loving awesome, pair us up and let's riot

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