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Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


I haven't thunderdomed in a while and also haven't written anything I like in slightly less of a while; the two facts are probably connected.

I'm in, going for 1860s and gently caress it flash rule me someone

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Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


The Son of Bloody Sunders 963 words, flash rule: gotta dinosaur

John Sunderson, Jr., swore at the back of the posse as another pan dropped from his overburdened ankylosaurus. He called for the group to stop, hearing laughter as they continued trotting forwards, their cheap horses more comfortable to ride than his own huge beast. He slid down the hard, scaly hide of the ankylosaurus, his belt catching on a horn and neatly upending him face first onto the cold ground. Dusting his pants off with frost-stung palms, John reminded himself again that the indignity of travelling with these illiterate, near-outlaws would be worth it when he reached the new settlement of Seattle.

Scooping the pan from the ground and tucking it into the back of a bag lashed to the still-walking ankylosaurus, John spat at the ground again and cursed his family's name. Anywhere had to be better than California, had to let the child of Bloody Sunders work inside the law. He pulled himself aboard the “luxury” creature and continued his march.



"We'll camp up here tonight, if Sir Dinosaur approves." Michael Bernaldi, a rough Italian, called from the head of their small procession. Jack shivered as Michael flashed a gap-filled smile his way, raptor claws rattling on his vest. Only one kind of man showed how good he was at taking down dinosaurs, and Jack found his hands tensing on his reigns. "Union’s gotta have a camp near."

As if on cue, muffled cannon booms rolled past the dismounting men, followed by a roar of a distant brachiosaur. John slid his hand inside his bedroll, wrapping his fingers around the lever of his brand new Henry rifle. He'd managed to keep the weapon secret from his travelling companions; Henry rifles were Union-issue only, and a voice in the back of his head said that nobody in his present company would make as civilized an offer as he did to obtain it in the first place.

"Baby John there seems to be on edge; maybe he should take first watch with the Italian. If he can lower His Majesty down from that ‘saur." Three-Fingers Ben flourished a bow before removing some dried wood from a saddlebag on his horse. Ben had grown up around John, but despite their similar ages, they were hardly friends. As a young teenager, Ben lost a finger in the four-against-twenty gunfight that killed John’s father; while they walked in similar circles, John and Ben had become two very different men. "You going to beat a good old Union boy to death with your blankie if he comes trying to draft a deserter like you, huh?"

"Reckon I might." John knew the words; you don't learn to speak from Bloody Sunders without picking up a thing or two about sounding tough. He just cursed that he hadn't inherited his father's voice; rather than speaking with wood cracking in a fire and the rumble of a triceratops, his own voice sounded more like one of those yippy Mexican dogs. He spat and resigned himself for another long night of jumping at ghosts while everyone snored.



John reached the settlement of Seattle late the next day, almost an hour behind his impatient companions. The trip had been safer than John expected. He cursed under his breath; he'd assumed the rifle would be necessary and had no idea what to do with a Union gun now that he'd reached his new home. He slid carefully from the ankylosaurus and wrapped a hand around its bridle, figuring it’d only be polite to meet folks on foot. He set off down the surprisingly empty street, bedroll tied to his back, looking for someone else with a dinosaur hitched to a post; someone else of means.

A woman's scream sounded from the inn as John drew close. He found himself loading a handful of bullets into the breech of his rifle before he realized he'd drawn the weapon, dropping a few useable rounds on the ground. He breathed in deeply, feeling the slight head rush gun oil always gave him. He almost tripped over an arm as he drew closer to the inn; a quick glance revealed a Sherriff’s badge on the corpse's chest. John pocketed the badge and calmed himself, his father’s gun fighting lessons looming out of memory.

Michael Bernaldi and Three-Fingers Ben were the first to drop; John fired twice from across the street and took each one between the eyes, straight through an open window. The men inside shouted at each other as John felt his blood begin to rise. He ran across the street, popping two more quick shots through the next window and hearing someone else crash to the ground inside. He kicked in the door and quickly fired four more times, planting bullets cleanly in four foreheads. Something stung through his ear as John leapt over a table, firing three more times into a vaguely familiar face. He listened briefly for movements in the small bubble of calm he created before rolling sideways and aiming the Henry at a woman held hostage in front of another familiar face; he just managed to pull the gun up and to the right enough as his finger closed to send the bullet through her abductor’s beard, leaving a trail of red on the wall behind. He spun and pulled the trigger one last time as a sound echoed over the bar to his left, only to thankfully click empty as he realized he was aimed at a barkeep. John lowered his gun.

"Sorry, feller." He surveyed the carnage around the room; eight bodies, the whole party he'd travelled with since California. He fingered the badge in his pocket and felt a smile tease at the corner of his lips. "Name's John... Mason. Seems you folks might need a new Sherriff."

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


That's a way better crit than I was expecting what the heck


In with Antimony

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Medicines and Poisons
1165 words, element: Antimony

Lao Qiu wiped another trail of pink vomit from his mouth and cupped a handful of tap water to his mouth. He spat and drank deeply. Selling traditional medicines back in Changsha had been rewarding; had promised a long life of happiness. Lao Qiu cursed the gangsters who burned his store. Mining was never a passion; never a family tradition… but then, neither was gambling, Lao Qiu reminded himself, and he’d made that work for a while. Mining antimony at Xikuangshan would help earn enough to pay off some debts, to get his life back. He hurried back to the comminution mill and pressed resume on the conveyor.

“Lao Qiu! Where’s your mask?” Zhou Chongkun, the foreman, clapped Lao Qiu over the back of the head. “I’m not losing another worker.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Zhou. I must have left it in the bathroom. What do you mean, lose?”

“People are constantly running away from their work. Or dying. You remember training?” Zhou put a gloved hand into the dust filling up a container at the base of the mill and held it out to Lao. “Liver damage. Kidney damage. Dermatitis. You breathe this in, you drink this in water…” Zhou flicked the handful of dust back into the container. “Dead. Makes arsenic look like beer.”

Lao felt his stomach drop. He’d been throwing up a lot lately, but assumed it was because of stress. He excused himself to go collect his mask. As he entered the bathroom another wave of nausea swept his body and he barely made it to the toilet before doubling over, another torrent of pink foam launching from his lips into the toilet.

Lao Qiu’s mind raced as he returned to the mill, thoughts running through medicine after medicine. Liver, kidney, skin? Arsenic? Arsenic also means headaches, means dizziness… and hadn’t he felt more depressed since he started? Lao scratched at the back of his hand, feeling his skin prickle heat underneath his gloves. If he had some moon bear bile he might be able to work on cleaning his liver, but where would he get that in a mine? He was distracted thinking of an improvised way of creating a long dan xie gan pian, a liver fire purge, when a small green disk on the side of a rock falling into the mill caught his eye.

Lao Qiu grabbed hold of the side of the conveyor belt, steadying himself as he inspected the rocks coming up from the entrance of the mine. His eyes darted back and forth until – could it be? – he saw another of the shapes. He reached out and grabbed the rock attached, not believing his eyes. In his hand was a green lingzhi, a small, disk-shaped fungus used for cleansing livers, growing straight out of a chunk of rock. He pinched the fungus and pulled, feeling a small amount of tension before it popped away. Lao Qiu found himself laughing; the lingzhi was normally a simple bracket fungus you could find in most forests. He looked around, smiling beneath his mask, before ducking down and putting the whole thing in his mouth. A regular lingzhi was something he’d sell to tourists, but a normal lingzhi would never grow out of rock. This, though, was a qingzhi, a spiritual mushroom for the liver, from a song his grandmother would sing when she would take him out foraging as a child. He chewed the hard, bitter mushroom and swallowed, feeling his nausea soak away.

Lao Qiu laughed out loud when a rock appeared carrying a black fungus a few minutes later. The black fungus was the heizhi, or kidney mushroom, from the same song. Could miners below have found a cave of spiritual zhi of all colors? If they had, Lao mused, this could change his luck right around. There were six lingzhi of different colors; green, yellow, white, black, and red were all for healing parts of the body, but it was told that the purple, the zizhi, was a mushroom of essence. It could make Lao Qiu live forever. Why pay back a debt when he could merely outlive his debtors? Why work in a mine when he could meditate to the Buddha for fifty years and begin anew? A red chizhi rolled past on the conveyor, as if the Buddha was sending Lao a sign. He checked to make sure his supervisor Zhou Chongkun was busy before turning and running into the mine entrance.

At least four hours passed before the steady lights along the series of conveyors in the mine ended and a fresh work tunnel opened up. Lao pulled out his ancient flip-phone to use as a torch and proceeded down the fresh path more slowly, practicing a lie about technical problems on the surface in case he bumped into any miners with questions. The glow from the screen lit his path and almost instantly revealed a small fungus growing out of a fairly narrow crack in the side of the freshly-worked stone. Lao squeezed himself sideways and moved into the small fungal chamber.

The air blurred with spores. Lao spun, staring at all the colors of the mystical zhi around him. There was enough medicine growing freely around to cure an army. Lao pulled fungus from the walls and stuffed it into his pockets with glee. His find wouldn’t just heal his cures, but could kick-start an entirely new medicine store. He followed a small trickle of water further into the cave and stopped with a gasp. In front of Lao, growing straight out of a rock laced with sparkling silver veins, was a purple zizhi, a zhi of immortality, the size of a bison. Lao gasped and checked the chamber to make sure he was alone before biting directly into the side of the fungus.

Sweet earthy tones washed through Lao’s mouth; juices of the spiritual mushroom swelled into his cheeks. Lao felt drunk as he chewed the rubbery fungus, only to reach newer heights of sobriety as he swallowed the mess into his stomach. He bit again and again, the itch on his hand going away, the nausea in his stomach disappearing. He was so engrossed in chewing the mushroom of life that Lao failed to notice the miners pushing a cart rush past the crack of his fungal cave; so wrapped up in his own burgeoning immortality that he barely noticed when an explosion from further down the shaft caused a cave-in, locking him in the chamber. Lao only realized he was trapped as he patted his stuffed stomach, satisfaction bringing him back to the world. He called for help, but heard no response. He looked at the no signal warning on his phone and laughed until he cried. He’d taken steps to make sure nobody knew where he’d run. Lao collapsed, resting his head on the giant zizhi. He was likely going to be trapped in the stomach of the earth for a very, very long time.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


I need to get more weird/creative with my stories; if I can't get the best, I need to miss the bar far enough to get the worst, and I'm not getting either so far. Here's hoping, much like Icarus did, I can use this week where I'm moving house to write a story a little better or weird and worse than last week.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


gently caress it, I'm in. Let's get real with me. I'm terrified.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


I'd like a flash rule too actually. This could be a horrifically bad idea!

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Uh I have the perfect thing for that actually, and it's something I've talked to quite a few people about in the past~

Whalley fucked around with this message at Feb 12, 2014 around 05:34

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


sebmojo posted:

Surprise flash rule: story cannot be depressing.

Then I'm going to make something normally a depressing thing be a dang strength and you can't stop me

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


I'm going to be out of town for the weekend, so I guess I'll just have to miss out on a final editing pass.


Dads Roll Out, 770 words, flashrules: something gets destroyed, DEFINITELY can't be depressing, gotta include transformers

My dad can beat up your dad. It’s not opinion, and I’m not belittling your father; he’s quite possibly the biggest badass to pump blood. This isn’t a story of one-upsmanship, or a brag about a fight. It’s just that my dad was a truck.

Mark is my mother’s husband. He came into my life when I was 10 and taught me how to change the oil in a ’72 Toyota Corona. Mark was a large-scale pot dealer, selling to a huge portion of the ghetto I grew up in. Mark made sure that I grew up understanding that all sorts of people, from all walks of life, can always have a common middle ground. Whether they’re a local councilman or Ian, the 40 year old neighbor who still lives with his mother, they’ll all need to get their drugs somewhere. Weed’s a great equalizer. Mark filled a shoebox with $100 bills and, to prove to my mother he could go straight, used his shoebox of savings to partner with an old friend and open a powdercoating business. I’ve still never told him, but since about my sixteenth birthday, I’ve considered him to be my father. Only since about sixteen though; while Mark’s a great guy, it took years for him to transition from “mum’s boyfriend” to “dad.”

My biological father, Peter, balances the scales Mark’s stability weighs down. He’s not a monster, he didn’t irreparably destroy my childhood. I even have strong memories of Peter and my mother together that were beautiful. We spent, for example, a university party together when I was all of seven years old, where I wound up falling into and splashing around in the Brisbane river. Peter threw his beer on the ground and dove in to rescue me while my mother laughed; he easily cleared the shallow sandbank I stood on, and wound up swimming in brown, polluted city water while my mother and I ate pig that had been roasted under the ground in banana leaves over hot rocks.

Peter ruined everything by cheating on my mother with an abusive redhead named Sharon. He ran away with her, meaning that most of my weekends for the next eight or nine years would be spent around two bourbon-drunk adults screaming at each other about who was the bigger life mistake and whose children were more awful. By nine, I’d stopped thinking of Peter as my father and more as an emotionally unstable man who had a large library I could – and for the sake of my own sanity, would – lose myself in roughly every second weekend. I’d miss my dad during those weekends with my father; he preferred to use the TV on Saturday mornings watching foreign news with a crippling hangover.

I built an emotional attatchment to my middle dad around nine years old. I’d known him for a while, and I took more life lessons from him than either of my other dads. Lessons about respect, and responsibility. Lessons about being honest with yourself. Sometimes his lessons would turn out impractical in real life – I stood up to a bully for a stranger and was threatened at knifepoint in the middle of eighth grade computer studies as a reward – but to me, they were gospel.

For a significant period of my life, all my friends would have a mum and dad in the same house. They’d come home from school with me in tow, where I would be paraded past their parents, insults shooting from mother to father, parent to child. I was generally ignored; the caustic atmosphere both parents and any children created was a great hiding place for an undersized ginger twig. They’d always mumble an apology once their bedroom door was locked, before pulling out a pile of toys – or, in later years, porn we found in nearby parks – from under their beds. More times than not, they’d find a way to mention how glad they were that their parents weren’t like mine, that they’d managed to stick together. I’d play with pieces of a broken facsimile of my dad and nod. For some reason, they all owned Optimus Prime figures. I’d make uncomfortable excuses about my household, waiting until it was time to explain why their homework answers were wrong. Eventually they’d let me leave. I’d get home and breathe relief that I was back, hugging my mum and wondering why I didn’t miss the family bond my friends would brag about. My dad may only have bonded with me through TV for 20 minutes every Saturday morning, but he’s still the best dad I ever met.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


I'm in. This time, I'm even gunna write a whole story too, with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


I couldn't decide on a set so I hit random page until it gave me something and



you better fuckin' BELIEVE I'm not going to write a boring piece of poo poo this week.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


crabrock posted:

just gave out a 1,100 word crit of somebody's story. Take advantage of this time-limited offer!
He wrote "i'm going to show you a picture of my balls" ten times then attached a photo of what looked like a turkey waddle, don't trust him

(srsly though thank you the crit was amazing and i promise to not disappoint)

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Strays
750 words, set, flash: start or end in Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Park

Packie dropped his paintbrush from the the top of the windmill overlooking Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Park when he saw the dog. It looked like a car dash ornament; the dog’s head was twice the size it should have been, and it lobbed from side to side as it walked. It mashed tulips under its feet and dug small holes in the flowerbeds. Nobody else seemed to notice the dog. It strode through a wake of attention lapses, leaving only crushed flowers as evidence of its existence. As it neared the edge of the tulip field, it turned and locked eyes with Packie.

The bulldog used its front paw to scratch at its head, a motion mimicking the tipping of a hat, before it turned aside and peed onto the leg of a man looking the other way. The dog disappeared into a bush as the man turned around. Packie opened and closed his mouth a few times; how could nobody see the arrogant mutt? He swore and climbed down the windmill. Work be damned, someone needed to get that dog.

Packie moved through the park, amazed that nobody seemed worried about the dog. There should, he thought, at least be some general concern. The dog was strange. Hell, it was a menace. Packie checked the bushes at the edge of the park for the dog before leaving, stepping out to a busy street. Hopefully the mutt had been hit by a car. As he looked for canine debris, a bark caught his attention and he saw the dog trot around a corner. He waited for a break in traffic and gave chase, only to stumble over his own feet and fall in front of a fox-headed man leaning on a weird car.



“Who the hell are you?” Packie tried to ignore the stinging on his palms as he returned to his feet. The mask the man wore was surprisingly realistic, at odds with the vehicle he leaned on. While the fox-mask had dirty fur and natural colors, the car sported a thick yellow arch over the windscreen and a blue box on the back. It had crude eyes painted on the headlights. The ugliness gave Packie a headache, made worse by the smirk on the bobble-headed dog’s face as it slapped its tail on the pavement between the two men. Packie felt a strong urge to kick it in the jaw.

The masked man scratched his neck at the bottom of the mask, revealing a grey column of what looked like bone. There were rust-colored stains on the man’s collarbone. The lips on the fox-man’s mask parted and a long pink tongue flopped out, tasting at the air for a second. It was no mask. “Where’s your collar, boy?”

“Get away from my dog.” Packie didn’t know why he said that. He had meant to turn and run. He begged his legs to move but they held fast, transfixed by the bizarre creature in front of him.

“Boy, strays own nothing.” The fox-man growled and stepped off the car towards Packie, revealing the word POLICE crudely painted in yellow underneath the window. Packie’s legs worked long enough to trip again before he was manhandled into the back of the car. The dog jumped in the passenger seat as the fox took the wheel and started the engine.

The trip took hours before the car pulled up outside a large, garish building, built in the middle of an empty field. There was a red truck parked outside the building, its proportions as unnerving as the car in which Packie was trapped. A lion-man watched the car arrive from the clocktower atop the building.

The dog hopped out the passenger seat of the police car and barked a greeting as the lion-man exited through the red double doors. It ran over and licked the lion-man’s hand, who smiled and patted its head.

“Good boy. Today, you become a man.”

Packie’s stomach turned as the lion grabbed the sides of the dog’s head and twisted. The dog’s head came off with a hollow, almost plastic pop, and was placed on the hood of the surreal police car. The two man-beasts turned to Packie and closed in.

The human head stays alive for almost half a minute after decapitation. Long enough for Packie to watch from the ground as the bulldog’s oversized head was pressed onto the wet vertebrae of his severed neck. Packie saw life flood back into the dog’s eyes, then nothing.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Terrible Secrets 23 words
She hid her bowlegged walk from her parents almost as well as she hid the smirk to her brother across the breakfast table.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


I'm in. You'll know which one's mine when it's all over because it'll be the one that's so good it makes you weep.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Sitting Here posted:

I'd like a longer crit on Holes from whoever, if that's ok with my partner.
It's definitely okay with me

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


"In, " regretted Whalley as he struggled to work out how he would submit a story with his cell phone as his only means of internetting.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


The Leper Colon V posted:

"...gently caress." Colon V cursed, "I've gotta drop again. Call me a basic baby bitch."
I'm in the middle of an interstate move, have no Internet access, no computer, a history of "oh my god this is awful" and i'm still going to submit my terrible poo poo to get better. You're a basic baby bitch. Once I have everything set up here I'm challenging you to a preemptive thunderbrawl because gently caress, I don't brook no basic baby bitch. What a basic baby bitch you is.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Capital Offense
something like 980 words, phone don't right say

Banknotes blazed on the nighttime beach. Putrid smoke clung to Chester's hair. An ink bomb popped in the flames, sending sparks and debris flying. Chester had made sure to sit far enough away to avoid any of the dye marking him or his clothes, tying him to the crime. His skin was still sticky from prosthetics. If it was summer, he would dive into the waves, using the salt water to scrub clean. He still might. The cold water would serve to shock away some guilt.

Chester's dog scratched at her ear, quizzing him with a glance. "What do you do now?"

Chester explained the nuances of insurance to the dog. The bank would recover all the money; nobody would lose their job. He reminded the dog of the hours spent studying security protocols. He pointed out the mask he wore under his balaclava. The prosthetic muscles under his shirt. The stolen getaway car. He had even masked his voice.

"You thought of everything," wagged the dog's tail. She was his only confidant in crime; his only loose end. She held still, then barked "Good boy."

He hurled the vocoder box into the ocean. It blooped a small warning as it splashed through the water's surface. "Be careful."

-

Chester feigned shock when the higher ups at Wells-Fargo called with news of the bank robbery the next day. He promised to return from vacation early. They informed him the thief had trashed his office. Worse, whoever it was had tried to hack into the manager's computer and destroyed a lot of important records in the process. He asked if anybody had been hurt; amazingly, the night of the robbery only had one guard scheduled. He would recover from his concussion in hospital with no ill effects. Chester waited on the line as head office hung up.

"Seems like the embezzlement investigation just hit a snag," beeped the static morse of the receiver. "Somebody ruined the proof that you're a dirty thief."

Chester looked to his dog. She slept on a rug, unaware that the phone had made Chester feel guilty. He threw the phone into the trash. He could always buy another.

-

"Guess who's nervous," bled the cut on Chester's cheek. He hadn't cut himself shaving since he was sixteen. He wiped the red trickle from his cheek with a handkerchief and met the police officer's gaze.

"I bet it's you. I bet you're guilty," scratched the cop's pencil in response. "Do you have anybody who can corroborate your statement?"

"Only if you can speak dog." Chester shifted his weight, only to freeze in horror as the leather of his chair farted his secret "The dog's in on it."

The police officer chuckled, oblivious to the subtext Chester heard in every noise. "It's okay. My chair does the same thing."

Chester tried to look relaxed. "Any leads yet?"

"A couple of repeat offenders match the description your guard gave us."

Chester felt his face flush with misplaced pride. He hadn't meant for his disguise to look like anybody specific. He thanked the officer and walked him to the door. They exchanged business cards and parted ways. Chester turned as the door clicked shut. He'd have to do something about that rat chair.

-

The dog waited with a ball in her mouth as Chester got home from work. "You're going to need to be extra nice to me," she slobbered onto his polished tile floor. "Take me for walks or I learn to use the phone."

Chester put down his briefcase and sighed. He knew the threat was pointless, yet guilt agreed with the sentiment. He scratched behind her ear and changed into running shoes.

"Am I good, girl? I mean, am I safe? Am I going to get away with this?"

"Of course," she panted at the sign of the leash. "You're the smartest, most clever human in the whole world."

He attached the leash to her collar and opened the door. "Sometimes, I wish you could talk."

-

"Bank Bandit Caught," printed the headline on Chester's morning paper. The words sung out in triumph. Two weeks of reading every news publication he could find released in three words. He felt like whistling; he just got away with robbing a bank. He skimmed the rest of the article and patted his subconscious foresight on the back. The week before his robbery, he'd turned down a former felon's business loan application. A former felon with a history of robbing banks.

"He was probably going to go legit and start a cyber security business," accused the article, "and you ruined that. Twice, now."

An innocent man was going to go to prison. Worse, it was someone the newspaper claimed he'd met before. Chester pictured visiting prison and asking to see the man. The imagined guilt and recognition he felt, when faced with a familiar face, made him shudder. Could he really live with himself?

"Sure you can," reflected light from the windshield of his new lamborghini in the parking lot.

"You deserve this," creaked his new leather chair.

"You're worth even more," beeped the email reminder on his new phone. It was a message from upper management. The destruction of information during the robbery was irreparable. The investigation into the supposed embezzlement at his branch would be permanently closed.

Chester sipped at his coffee. He brushed the newspaper into the trash, its information consumed. His things were right. He spun the car keys on his finger, the jingle shaking loose the mental image of the victim of his white collar crime. He'd earned this life. He looked at the photo of his dog he kept on his desk and smiled. He was a good guy, at heart. He just wanted what was rightfully his. As time went on, Chester found the objects around him stopped declaring his guilt so much. After all, if they spoke up, he'd just buy a new one.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


In.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


No Sleep ‘Til Richmond 924 words

"Dude, this shortcut was the best idea. Road trip, not so much, but this shortcut? Awesome." The smell of weed smoke carried the words forwards from the back seat of my car. I chuckled and wound down my window, replacing the smoke with the sticky hot night air that comes from summer in North Carolina.

"Yeah, but I don't know how we're going to find the interstate again. The car's GPS says we're driving in the middle of a river right now."

"Told you not to get a fuckin' Prius." Joey crawled into the front seat of the car, grinning at me. Everybody has a weird friend. The friend who doesn't care about consequences, the friend who will always shows up when everyone else has gone to bed. The friend who, no matter what, would be fiercely loyal to you, even when you felt like you spent most of the friendship apologizing to other people for his behavior. Joey was my weird friend.

"I know, but I haven't filled up since we were in Georgia. That's something, right?"

Joey flashed a sarcastic smile at me and stretched back in his seat. He burped and turned on the radio. Country music crackled from the speakers near our feet. "You think this Sarah chick's going to remember you? I mean, you know exes."

"She has to. We dated for a year; hell, we're friends on Facebook. Which is more than I can say for some people." I reached back to grab an energy drink from the cooler in the back seat. When I turned back to the wheel, I slammed on the brakes. A woman in a red flannel shirt stood in the middle of the road, leaning on a shovel. The car skidded and spun on the gravel road and I gripped the wheel hard. I closed my eyes as the car slammed sideways into a stone fencepost.

I must have blacked out, because the next thing I knew, Joey was pulling me out of my driver's seat and onto the ground. His eyes had an uncharacteristic serious look. I slapped his hands away and helped myself up. My legs turned to jelly as soon as I was upright and I collapsed back to the ground.

"poo poo. Matt, you wait here, I'll go try to wave down a car for you."

I wiped my eyes under my glasses and felt blood running down my forehead. "What happened to that bitch with the shovel?"

Joey looked uneasy. He rubbed at his arm and looked over his shoulder. "Wait here."

I hugged my knees to my chest and wiped the blood from my head again. The adrenaline faded and I felt all the minor injuries from the crash wash over me at once. My head had a cut and a bruise, my neck ached, my thumb felt like it had dislocated and popped back in. A realization hit me in the stomach; Joey convinced me to bring weed to make the trip more fun. If he waved down a cop car, I'd lose my license. I was already going to have a hell of a time explaining the xanax and antipsychotics in my pillbox. I scrambled to the car to clear the drugs from the glove box when a shovel slammed down in the dirt between me and the vehicle. I stopped and looked up.

A black-haired woman in a red flannel shirt sat on top of the car. She jumped down and pulled the shovel up with one hand. I bit my lip and tried to stand up.

"Where's Joey?" She had an accent I couldn't place, one with prominent hs and a y for a j. She put her spare hand down on the window and I saw a ring on her finger.

"I don't... who are you?"

"She's my ex." The woman's eyes lit up when she saw Joey arrive from the darkness. "I told you this road trip was a bad idea."

The woman laughed and disappeared from the car, reappearing beside Joey. She grabbed his arm with her hand and held tight. Joey closed his eyes and murmured something to the woman, who nodded. He opened his eyes again and looked at me, his face ten years older.

"It was fun to pretend to live again, Matt. I'm sorry your parents think I'm an imaginary friend. I tried to only spend time with you when you're alone, but we all make mistakes. A pickup will come down the road in ten minutes, they'll winch you out of here." He turned his gaze to the woman and sighed. "If it works out with this Sarah, do me a favor. Don't cheat on her. And sorry about all the pranks."

I felt a lump in my throat as Joey looked back at me. He grinned then closed his eyes. Both he and the woman faded into nothing. I looked to the car and realized all the bags and supplies Joey loaded in the back were mine. Joey brought nothing. I looked above the car and saw the fencepost I hit was that of a cemetery.

-

The pickup driver pulled the car to a nearby town. He spent the drive telling me how much I resembled his son, who was killed by a mail order bride. I thanked him for the tow and, once I found a mechanic, called my parents. They needed to know that I was in an accident, and that I was moving. They needed to know I would be okay.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


No More Bee Juice 199 word

Blake ran back into the building and slammed the door. He held it shut with his shoulders and pulled off his mesh mask. His eyes darted around the room before centering on a chair. He rushed over and grabbed it, using it as a prop to keep the door closed. "Remember that bee we hosed with, with the purple flower on its head? It just did something I don't know how to explain and we need to go. Now."

"What's up dude? You're not making any sense." Tamara put her sandwich down on a pile of research papers and spun around. She began to stand when a loud squelching thud shook the floor. She rushed to the window.

A giant golem of honey and wax stomped towards the research center. It scooped up a tree and began pulling leaves and branches free. Upon reaching the building, it scooped the lid clean off. Blake and Tamara screamed as it slammed the tree into the center, mashing their innards against the log before scooping it up and into a gaping maw where a mouth should be. It smacked its golden lips and stomped away, looking for more human juice to suck.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


The Sean posted:

While I did not have expectations to win in my first Thunderdome attempt I'm very glad to have not lost. I'd love to have some feedback about why I didn't fail completely.
You'll get it; crits will come later.


I'm in on this prompt

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Time Dog
921 words

If this lady asks me "who's a good boy" one more time I'll bite her in the loving shin, I don't care about the rules. I know you're referring to me, lady. I'm a goddamn lady too. I'm going to count to three, then conspicuous or not, I'm getting my growl on.

One.

Two.

"Bad Bitch, please respond." Saved by the time-bell, lady. I barked the code to say I'm not alone, then flashed my surgically-sharpened teeth at the lady. She snatched her hand away from my ear and backed off. Good. I sat and waited for instructions.

"Okay BB, we've got a positive read for you.” Talking to the future always involved some nasty feedback inside my skull. I scratched my ear. “The explosion originated in the back of the Petsmart at four pm. Stopping the bomb would be great, but if you can't find the device, you need to get the kid out. According to our intel, subject wore a horizontally striped shirt and carried a bag of gummy candy at time of death. He is your top priority."

I checked to make sure nobody was close enough to hear me talk. "What flavor gummy?"

"We have a black and white photograph, not a smell index."

"Figures." I sniffed the smellclock sewn into my leash. Three forty five. HQ doesn't normally cut the time this close. I bit the quick release on the loop of the leash and ran into the store.

The trick with running incognito operations is acting enough like all the other stupid mutts to be invisible. It's harder than you'd think. People pay attention to dogs who work with purpose, so the direct route is out. If I gallop and sniff assholes and chew things too much though, the dog-brain overrides the bionics. Kicks into some real impulsive, canine chaos. It takes months for HQ to send back a reboot. I made that mistake on the Hitler mission. I don't want to go down that path again.

Sugar and confusion wafted past my nose. I followed the smell to a bag of gummy bears in the hand of a child. The kid wore the right shirt; it had to be the target. I did my best impression of an idiot and trotted over. The kid went straight for the pat. I mixed a locator smell with my saliva and marked the child's hand. Good girl, I thought. Kid's safe. If I can't get the bomb, I can at least get him and get out fast.

But I'm a good girl. I'm an overachiever.

The back of the store was empty. Good. I sniffed the leash again, checking my time. Ten minutes to go. I found a gap to get behind some bulk dog food and smelled sulphur, diesel, sweat, and a million other chemicals dead ahead. That cocktail spells bomb. My nose led me to a brick wrapped in wires, a small blinking device sitting on top.

poo poo. I don't do wires.

"HQ, this is Bad Bitch. I need advice." The smell of the bags of dog food to my right made my tail wag against my will. "I need it fast."

"HQ, go ahead."

I stuffed my nose into the bomb, trying to drown the smell of the food. "Got a bomb here, covered in wires." HQ patched into my vision, blinding me. My head throbbed and a whimper sprang from my throat, unbidden. I felt my dog-brain begin to take over when my vision flooded back.

"You should be able to bite through the green wire pretty easily."

"Dog." The smell of the food was getting to me. "Colorblind."

"Oh. The second one to the left of the blinker."

I tried to nuzzle my way through the tangle to grip just one wire between my teeth, when I felt a growl come out of my throat. No time. I bit into all the wires to the left and shook my head to dismantle the device, hoping it would be enough. Bits of bomb fell to pieces. I stopped for a second to make sure I disabled the bomb, but the thrill of the kill from the latent canine impulse in the back of my head took over. I shook it harder and harder. The wires I bit through snapped and the bomb went sailing through the air. My legs pounded, chasing. A voice in the back of my head mumbled something in Humanese but I could only barely make it out as the dog-brain took hold. I dove out into an aisle and straight into a newspaper.

"Bad dog!"

My nose stung, sending the dog-brain scurrying, just in time. Bionics took over and I bit back a swear. A teenager in a Petsmart uniform, smelling of herbs and body spray, loomed at me. He reached for my leash but I dropped tail and ran for the door, doing the most convincing yelp I could. Maybe the kid would feel guilty for hitting me, I don't know. The tail-down yelp-and-run is an easy way to make an escape.

I got back to the alley and scratched the return code on the side of the box. This mission got me too close for comfort to that point of no return... but, saving the kid might mean his brother would get a transplant. Maybe even finish his research on sending back a human brain. I could do with a vacation. I hung my leash on its hook and waited to see where I would jump next.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


In

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


The Saddest Rhino posted:

Critiques for Week LXXXIV: MOST OF YOU CAN'T TELL GHOST STORIES
Thanks (and sorry) for the ridiculously awesome amount of effort you put in here.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Peel Out
962 words

The Audi at the start line next to Rachel revved its engine, sending heavy vibrations through her tailbone. “Pretend you’re on the Beltway, and you’re going home from work. You can do this.” Her hand trembled as she turned the ignition on her rented race car. The engine sparked to life. Rachel shivered, despite the summer heat, and gripped the steering wheel hard enough to feel the vibrations in her fingers as the leather in her gloves wrinkled. She closed her eyes and tried to block out her fear. “You’re going home from work. Jill’s waiting for you. Settle down.”

Red lights changed to green. Tires squealed and engines pulsed. Roars erupted from the engine bays of cars as Rachel was overtaken by everybody on the track. The other cars hit fifty at the first bend. Rachel took it at thirty five. She wasn't concerned with winning. She just wanted to get the car back in one piece. Racing terrified her. She took a deep breath and repeated her mantra. "Going home from work. Going home from work. Going home from work."

"You're a better driver than this." The voice of Rachel's girlfriend crackled through the speaker embedded in the side of her helmet. "I've been on the interstate with you. You're the master of overtaking. How can you slip past Mustangs in a Fiat, but drive this slow on an actual racetrack?"

"Shut up Jill. This is scary."

"Scary expensive. Not to say you ain't worth it, but come on. Mama don't wanna feel embarrassed."

"Thanks. Again." Rachel's voice was deadpan. “What did I do to make you think I’d want to race ca… hang on, corner.”

She controlled the car around the second bend with ease. This was where Jill sat, alone. Rachel saw a sign held up in the stand. She tried to read it in her rear view as she entered the third straight, but the engine vibrations made the reflection shake and quiver.

"I don't know what that sign... oh poo poo." Distracted, Rachel braked late for the third corner and felt the car lose control. Panic took over, then fell aside to reflex. The car drifted sideways, taking the corner wide before leveling out. By the time Rachel realized she was safe, she was on the straight, facing the right way. The car in last place drew nearer.

A whoop sounded in her helmet. "That's my girl. You got this."

Rachel set her eyes on the car in front. She was just going home from work. This wasn't a racetrack. Or a strange, multi-thousand dollar gift from her girlfriend. She was just going home from work. Going home from work. Going home from work.

Last place disappeared in Rachel's rear view. Second-last took the fourth corner ahead of Rachel, but was behind her by the fifth. A meditative calm washed over Rachel. It was as if she had stepped back from her body and was appraising a job well done. At the end of the second lap she was in the top half of the pack. By the start of the third, she was in second place.

"I'm a little intimidated by you right now." Jill's voice brought Rachel out of her trance. Awareness flooded her system. Panic returned to the surface of Rachel's mind.

"Stop. Concentrating." The third corner approached and Rachel moved closer to the car in first position. She stared at its rear bumper until everything else disappeared into tunnel vision. Her world was the back end of a Toyota Supra. She drew nearer and nearer.

Lap three finished with Rachel in first place, the Supra close behind. Jill’s voice shouted in her ear. “Suck it. Nobody overtakes like Rachel Baker!”

Rachel pulled ahead and laughed as Jill continued screaming encouragements. The first turn of the final lap drew close. Seven more corners, seven more straights and Rachel would win the first race she'd ever entered. She felt relaxed, as if she was about to take her exit from the interstate home.

There was nobody left to overtake.

The Supra was the first car to pass her, cutting the inside of the first corner. Rachel squealed in shock as it appeared in her right hand window, closely followed by the throaty roar of the Audi. The strap of her helmet cut into her jaw as she tried to swallow a mouthful of saliva. The two Mazdas passed her in the third straight. Her confidence was gone; by the final corner, Rachel was in dead last again. She mashed the accelerator down for the final dash, but it was pointless. Heart in her throat, Rachel crossed the finish line last.

Rachel's hands shook too hard to undo the strap of her helmet. She sat and waited for Jill to help her out. Embarrassed and on an adrenaline comedown, tears stung Rachel's eyes. She took a deep breath before talking. "I'm sorry, I know you spent so much on this, I'm just not a racer."

Jill shushed her and crouched down on a knee. "It's okay. You did so good. I'm proud of you. I don’t care if you won or lost at all."

"Why did you buy me this anyway? I don’t care about cars, you know that."

"Well," said Jill, her face flushing red. "We’ve been together for two years, and I know you're not out yet to your parents, so I wanted to get you a real expensive ring you didn't have to wear, and, well..." She waved her arm to the vaguely circular racetrack. "Will you marry me?"

Rachel’s heart beat faster. She felt the stares of the track office beating down on her. For once, she didn’t care that they were mostly looks of disapproval. She was a winner. “Of course.”

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Spring Mounted Lego Launchers 10,000,000 words

Mom was right. It really is all fun and games until someone loses an eye. I hope she brings Jim back from the hospital soon.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


IN and I kind of want a fuckin' flash rule hell yeah

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


sebmojo posted:

Pipe up if I haven't done you and you want a crit on your story from last week.
I'd love one; crits are just the best

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


I hosed up last week and didn't pay attention to how busy my week was. Not this week; I'm in as gently caress and to make up for the fact that I failed to submit last week, I'll try to crit the first five or ten submissions that enter this week as well.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


.

Whalley fucked around with this message at Jun 30, 2014 around 16:50

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


I said, as penance for not submitting last week, that I'd crit the first five entries. What a maroon I am. I'm not going to line-by-line them, but I'll go further than a one-paragraph response.

Please note: if my critique of your story makes you mad, remind yourself that I've never even got an honorable mention for Thunderdome and have hit the DM area multiple times. I'm by no means a perfect writer. Also, I feast on tears.

Turtlicious posted:

"Hambeast: The Novella" - 931 words
I'm not sure how you want me to feel about A Talentless Hack. He's a gross-looking nerd who just wants to try his best to help people? Why make him so ugly, in both hygiene and appearance? Making characters more than a one-dimensional stereotype is useful, but you've got less than a thousand words to tell a whole story; by not playing with the stereotype you physically described, it just comes across as a story about a low self esteem nobody doing very little.

I don't understand what the theme was in this story. Were you trying to write a piece about how ugly awkward people can care about stuff? Were you telling a story about how people use the internet to disguise who they are as a person? It felt like you were leaning that way, what with "nobody cared that I was gross" and the reveal that farmgirl17 was a guy named Kyle, but it wasn't obvious - or funny - or important - enough to come across as intentional. Ultimately, I didn't really care that much about this; it wasn't great, it wasn't horrific, it was just some words.

Also, maybe I'm missing it, but who was the wise fool? Where's the citrus fruit?

Nitpicky: Opened is spelled with one N. The name A Talentless Hack should have been capitalized in the introduction. Services like Facebook and Paypal should be capitalized. Shortening the main character's name down to ATH is ugly. The stammering over the phone paragraph is ugly.

My favorite part: The first sentence was fuckin' gross and awesome all at the same time.

My least favorite part: The last sentence doesn't feel like a coda to success, or like a satisfying punch. It's just there; a lovely-sounding line that edges the story into awkward.

Sir Azrael posted:

The Greatest of Fools - 704 words
Well, you've read a lot of fantasy. It shows in your writing; this is semi competent, it hits all the prompt points, it has a story, it has named characters, there's a castle or some poo poo, and it's flat as gently caress. I don't care about any of these characters; there's Theogren, the flat dude in armor, there's Dasha, the flat fool who does backflips, and there's "everyone else," the flat window dressing. I don't care about the dialog, because it all fell under the same steamroller of by-rote hit-the-notes that the characters and setting did. Next time you want to write short fiction fantasy, get weird with it. Real weird. If you're going to have flat characters, dialog, and action scenes, either Asmiov out with an exploration of a crazy concept or emulate Vandermeer or Mieville and show me a weird drat cactus dude.

Short fiction is like skateboarding videos: the worst thing you can do is try and impress people by doing something that's already been done. Flat fantasy's already been done.

The prose itself doesn't have any huge issues in terms of grammar, and your pacing is a lot better than mine usually is. The action scene... eh. I'm a big fan of a well-written action scene, and this is what fantasy is good for, but it just didn't feel like there was much at stake. You can fix this by shortening your sentence length, making someone seem more intense, or just going to the extreme. "Theogren snarled and ran at someone" - there was no buildup, nothing. There was a moment to show that Theogren, the champion of King Aldus, got his reputation from being a crazy mad berzerker, or maybe he's a hyper-competent silent type, or something... instead, we just get "a guy who we know fights, does so."

Nitpicky: "Said she" is pretentious and terrible. "He dodged it, grinning" is terrible too. "But alas: " reads nicer with a semicolon instead of a colon.

My favorite part: I want to nebulously say "the pacing" but I'm going to call out specifics. I liked that the fool threw a banana peel under the foot of a big tough guy. It was a good use of an old gag. It got me excited to see maybe some more pranks.

My least favorite part: Short fiction European fantasy. Okay, I'll be specific: the last sentence is jacked up and makes no sense and doesn't feel satisfying and I hate it. I really, really hate it. I was going to call out "THEY SAY DEATH WEARS THE GARB OF A FOOL" but then I read a little further and that last sentence just makes me so so angry.

ZorajitZorajit posted:

The Hyena
937 Words (Google Document count.)
Oh buddy, you get the prize of "my least favorite of the first five." This is a confusing story about an rear end in a top hat sociopath running around and getting her way with no comeuppance. This would be totally fine if, y'know, you'd explored a concept or had well-written prose but oh buddy, that ain't happening here.

What's going on with the lemon part? And what's going on with the Sheik? Either one of those stories should be your full story. You open and close talking about the lemonade stand with the sister, which makes the entire section with the Sheik a five or six hundred word pointless interlude that can be replaced with "When I go to work, I'm a dick." You wrote about a boss who keeps a secretary around exclusively because she can get coke - where's that story? Where's their interactions about this? Why did you mention that? You say the secretary is incompetent, then instantly show her doing just fine at her job. Cut, trim, get rid of anything about her other than "I buzzed my secretary" because I don't understand what you're doing here.

You say your main character changed her name to be more Eurocentric - what was it before? Why did you mention that? That's the main problem I have with this piece. Every little thing thrown in here, I have no idea why you included it.

The ending, eurgh. This is the first of the first five stories where the final sentence isn't the worst thing of the story, but you made up for that with the third-and-second-last sentences.

I don't know who the wise fool is supposed to be.

Nitpicky: Three quarters of the commas in this should be full stops. I can't nitpick this; it needs a dramatic rewrite. Show your next piece to another TD entrant next week - showing drafts is unbelievably helpful, and people are way less mean when it comes to one-on-one critiques in private. Especially when it's a draft - as a draft, you're saying "please look at this unfinished work," but as a submission, you're saying "I think this is worthy of thrusting at people."

My favorite part: Genuinely enjoyed the "I could sell it to babies!" line, and the lines around it. That paragraph was the strongest part of this story, and could do with a little bit of editing to make it great. I seriously enjoyed the idea of this psychopath staring down at an oil tycoon and thinking "you were just born over oil, you don't deserve a bit of it." That one paragraph hinted at a much stronger, funnier, better story that I'm sure you could put together.

My least favorite part: The entire lemonade story. It serves to show that the main character gives more of a poo poo about money than people, but so does all the rest of the story. It's not even told in a fashion to show "I don't learn from my mistakes" - it's like the protagonist is fuckin' proud that they're an unrepentant rear end in a top hat.

CommissarMega posted:

Fool's Throne
You loving started with a goddamn fake poem I want you to burn to death in a real world fire.

It's really disappointing that the language in this is fun, modern, and fast paced, because it took me multiple paragraphs to get over the poem and start to enjoy myself. Coincidentally, it also took multiple paragraphs for your story to begin. You can tell where your story should have started - you wrote the words "It begins with..." after two hundred and fifty words of nothing. There's a maximum word count in TD to make you pare off all the pointless poo poo. Go read Tyrannosaurus's story this week; it's less than 300 words and hits everything in the prompt competently. You wrote almost as much pointless poo poo (including a goddamn fakepoem) as your introduction, in a flash fiction competition, as someone else wrote for their entire story.

The language being fun and modern saved this for me; I had to reread a couple of times before I understood what this story was actually about, and if you'd been even slightly less flippant with the text, I wouldn't have bothered. It's about a king pretending to be a fool to hide from his lovely subjects and peers, right? I'm still not entirely sure.

Speaking of not being sure, I have no idea what that joke about "once you're shaking his hand, it's at groin level" means. Maybe I'm the moron (it wouldn't be the first time) but I don't get that whole paragraph.

This has a stronger ending than the first couple, but it's still not great. It doesn't feel like a satisfying response, which makes the whole thing not really feel like a full story. This has the pacing and wordplay of an introductory monologue to a lovely TV show about a king in hiding, running around and solving medieval crimes. It's... it's there, there's all these words, but they don't feel like they mean anything. There's no sense of danger or urgency; the story starts with the protagonist totally safe and fine and ends totally safe and fine, with a plot point of "he continues being totally safe and fine." I know how fun that is to write, but it's only right now that I've realized how annoying it is to read.

You hit the fool part of the prompt right, but I'm not super sure about the wise part. And I'm definitely sure a peach is not a citrus fruit.

Nitpicky: You spelled little "liitle." Concoctions has a C in it. A space should go between words and the - after them. Ellipses are okay for a scene change, but it looks kind of like a blog entry that wants me to click to read more after the cut instead of a scene change. I like to use a simple - but hey, personal taste.

My favorite part: I want to say "the language" but again, I'm being specific. The exploration of what makes a good king (not just milk and honey, but who has it and where to get it) followed immediately by what makes a good tyrant was a great juxtaposition that showed how much this person thinks about royalty and leadership without saying "I think about royalty and leadership a lot."

My least favorite part: You opened with a goddamn fake poem and I jumped into the TD IRC and said that I hope you lose exclusively because of that. Nothing in the entire history of fiction makes me want to track down and assault an author more than a fake goddamn poem.

Schneider Heim posted:

Two Fools
907 words
This is the best of the first five, it's a brilliant piece of Harry Potter fanfiction an engaging story that I don't have too much to say about. Like, that's not necessarily as big a compliment as it might sound; I enjoyed this a lot, but it was almost directly "let's replace wizards with witches" and as such it sort of felt like a far better executed version of the "already been done" problem. I like my magic fresh and my stories weird; this is just a really competently written, brilliantly executed thing I've read before.

It's really the only major problem I can see; I liked the execution, the characters were developed, there was a plot point, there was an ending that didn't rely on a shocking twist, it was all there. It's a good story. It just doesn't excite me.

I'm not super down with your bending of the "wise fool" idea to mean "good at directions but not magic and vice versa" as the idea of a wise fool is less "dumb and a bit smart" and more "so stupid that they can see the blindingly obvious" but I mean, I bent the prompt way further than you so I'm not really one to judge.

Nitpicky: "They were writing" is stronger as "They wrote" but I am being super nitpicky here as there's nothing else I can see. I'm really trying here.

My favorite part: Catchy names, solid worldbuilding, using a polemo instead of a lemon or an orange, engaging characters, dope writing. There was lots about this I liked, I can't really single one thing out.

My least favorite part: You hinted at forbidden passages and promised forbidden passages, and all you delivered was "don't go to the hidden passages." It felt like a huge deflation; there's this cool story about two witches becoming buds even though one of them's totally NotMuggleBorn, but the lost, weird passage thing was just... there. I'm not a huge fan of mystery being added for the sake of mystery, as this was a NotHarryPotter story and we could all have coped just fine with the girls writing "I will not run away from my school group" or "I will not stay out after curfew." I dunno, that bugged me a lot more than it might bug others.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Like the immortal Andrew WK, or the drag queen Adore Delano would say, "party."

I'm in.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Dr Party, PhD. 1189 words

"More punch! We need three more bowls of punch!" Kumar ran through the house, his lab coat knocking down a vase of fake flowers in his wake. "And I need twenty percent less dubstep and an eighteen percent rise in classic rock on that playlist. The faculty arrives in ten minutes, we need this experiment to work, guys!"

Kumar brushed his hair into his eyes and untucked half of his shirt as the board of academic advisors arrived at his door. He opened it and his shoulders sank. "No!"

Five college professors embodied every stereotype they could on Kumar's doorstep. Starting at the left was a scruffy older man with a leather-patched corduroy jacket, his grey hair tied back in a ponytail. Next to him was an older woman, nose like a hawk, blouse stolen from an unfashionable corpse, holding a bottle of expensive wine in her ink-stained hands. Following her was a short, fat lady in a fluffy pink cardigan, with rhinestone-laced cat eye glasses, holding the hand of an older Chinese man with a short-sleeved button-down shirt, doing his best clothing impersonation of a Mormon missionary. Rounding out the group was a bald, bespectacled science advisor, wearing his own custom-fit lab coat, over a grey wool turtleneck. He, too, held a bottle of wine in his hand, accompanied by a copy of Settlers of Catan.

"Come in, quickly! Before you ruin this!" Kumar waved his hand with impatience, nerd-herding the advisors in through the doorway. As they got inside, Kumar's research assistants guided the professionals into a makeshift changing room, where they were encouraged to trade their dork clothes for more appropriate party wear. The academic advisors, once properly dressed, were escorted into the living room and given red plastic cups of alcoholic punch. They sat in front of a whiteboard and waited for Kumar to begin his presentation.

"We only have a short time until the real guests arrive, so I'll make this brief. Thank you, esteemed professors, for allowing me to test my hypothesis." Kumar sipped from his own cup and nodded to a research assistant, who dimmed the lights. "There have been theories of time travel and of alternate earths existing throughout human history. They fall in line, quite easily, with what we know of string theory and m-theory, although, not in as conventional a sense as a seasoned scientist would prefer. In fact, the only name in physics who has hinted at what I aim to prove was Richard Feynman, and even he..."

"I'm sorry," interrupted the scruffy professor, his corduroy jacket replaced with an ironic sweater. "What does this have to do with these ridiculous costumes?"

"Gentlemen, ladies." Kumar grinned and slid a pair of shutter shades from his pocket to his head. He pulled a curtain down from his wall, showing a mural of infinite Earths in a ring around a cloud emitting lasers painted directly onto the wallpaper. "Multiple worlds are a reality. Time only has purpose on a linear Earth. Tonight," said Kumar as he pointed to a research assistant, "I prove the Partysphere Hypothesis.”

Taking Kumar’s cue, the research assistant started the party playlist. Kumar ushered his panel of professors to their feet. He hid their board games, ugly coats and poured their wine into the bowls of punch. After checking his watch, he stood by the door, ready to greet his experiment subjects. One by one, the guests arrived.

#

Kumar sipped at the dregs of his second cup of punch. The party was well into its third hour with no signs of slowing down, yet his hypothesis was no closer to proving itself. He slammed his cup down on top of a stack of pizza boxes and pursed his lips in frustration. "This should have worked."

"Hey man, be cool." The scruffy professor threw an arm around Kumar's shoulder, sloshing drink wildly down both of their shirts. "This is the most groovy party I've been to since '68, man."

Kumar shrugged his way out of the drunken hug. "I know it is, I planned it this way. Do you have any idea how much it cost me to bribe Andrew WK to gatecrash with his band? This is the most perfect party that has ever existed. I've studied parties, Professor. I know parties."

The professor shrugged and stumbled away, leaving Kumar to his frustration. After a quick glance around the kitchen, at the various partygoers kissing and dancing, Kumar swore. Months of planning, of coordination, of precise measurements of fun quotients, appeared to be wasted. He mumbled, to nobody in particular, "I need some fresh air," and stepped outside.

The air outside smelled lightly of cigarettes, vomit, and spilled alcohol. Kumar wrinkled his nose and searched for the source of the smell. Somebody had thrown up by his car. He swore, again, and pulled out his phone.

Halfway through typing in his mother's phone number, Kumar heard a shout come from inside. He stared through the window and clutched at the windowsill as he tried to stop himself from fainting in shock. The mural of the earth spinning around a laser cloud was in motion, sending beams of light dancing through the living room. A shout shook the window in front of Kumar's face as a group of men in blue coats danced past, holding archaic mugs of alcohol. A woman wearing a silver bodysuit nodded at them and pressed a button on her wrist, making a cup in her other hand miraculously fill up with alcohol. In the distance, he heard a lute.

Kumar ran to another window and stared through. Instead of his hallway, he saw an impossibly long corridor, full of people of all races, genders, and fashion, dancing and throwing up together. He jumped back from the glass and let out a loud shout. The Partysphere, the infinite connection of all perfect parties throughout time, had manifested inside his house. He could practically taste his forthcoming doctorate, and dashed to the front door to celebrate.

It was locked.

#

Kumar nailed his doctorate certificate above his desk. In less than a year, his party planning business had grown fast enough to require a larger office, twice. He made sure the frame was level, before hanging up the newspaper piece on the Partysphere Hypothesis. That article was the main reason Kumar made it to the cover of Time Magazine. Kumar felt proud; he was giving people a chance, albeit a drunken one, to connect to and meet up with future generations of their family. He had, singlehandedly, erased the fear of being forgotten, provided you knew how to have a good time.

Kumar tested the three pens on his desk, then lined them up to be perpendicular with the wall. He double checked that he had backup shoelaces in his drawer, then dusted down his chair and sat. His peers called him a bummer, his teachers called him a bore, but of the whole university, only one person had a Nobel Prize. So what if his presence killed parties; at least he had a trophy. Kumar waited for his first client to call.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


gently caress it I haven't done Thunderdome in a minute. I'm in here's my ore people manguy

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito



Chef Fancy 1113 words

“With...yes, I think a Beaujolais.” Howard Strong patted me on the shoulder. I felt it all the way down to my ankle and choked back a pained cry. "Four bottles, corks in. What the hell, a bottle of Drambuie too."

I scribbled down his order and limped back to the kitchen. My main chef ran away with most of the customers when we heard Howard stomp down the street, and I didn't trust my sous to not gently caress up the order. Everyone in town knew what happens when you gently caress up Howard Strong's order. A rival served the huge brute a tray of scallops once. Rumor says one, of fifty scallops, was overcooked. All I know is that disaster relief searched the rubble where the restaurant stood for two days. Nobody knows what happened to the head chef's head.

That wasn't going to happen tonight. Not to my restaurant. I pulled out three cast iron pans from the oven and dropped a huge steak in one, some German sausages in another and an assortment of vegetables in the third. My sous offered to help, but I pushed her away. I needed things done right, which meant doing them myself.

"You could always just tell him no shirt, no service." The sous raised her eyebrows at me. "I wonder if anyone's ever tried that."

"Storage fridge. I need four bottles of Beaujolais, not idiot ideas. Then, go out there keep the people who stuck around happy." I pulled a spice rack over from beside the prep station and got to work, saving my restaurant.

The steak, made of most of the side of a cow, hung over all sides of a serving dish we normally reserved for catering parties. The tray of sausages contained enough pork to start a pig farm. Finally, half a field of potatoes sat atop a forest of asparagus on the third banquet plate. I carried the order out myself and stood on my tiptoes to slide the plates on top of the white van Howard Strong co-opted as a table.

"Hey, this steak isn't bad." Howard pinched his barbecue fork between thumb and finger. I smiled thanks at him and hoped he couldn't see the sweat on my face. Or the disgust; Howard chewed with his mouth open, and his mouth was bigger than my head. "I know your secret. There's tarragon in this butter, isn't there."

"Yes sir. My recipe. Tarragon butter." It was fennel, but whatever. It wasn’t my place to correct a giant.

"Fantastic." He lifted a bottle of wine upside down and, faster than my eye could follow, whipped his knife across the base. The glass never cracked; the bottom merely slid off and shattered on the road. He drank from the bottle as if it were an aperitif, emptying in one disgusting slurp. "And the wine. Brilliant. Hints of oak and plum." Howard flicked his wrist idly over his shoulder and the bottle smashed through a seventh story office window on the other side of the street. "You have excellent taste."

"Thank you, sir." I could understand mixing tarragon and fennel, but calling a Beaujolais oaky rubbed me the wrong way. Howard picked up a Bratwurst and slurped the entire coil into his mouth like a noodle. He lifted the plate of vegetables up to his mouth. In his hands, it looked like a tea saucer. With a single gulp, Howard Strong swallowed the entire selection of vegetables. And the plate. He patted his stomach and rolled his eyes.

"So good. And that crunch, drat. drat, man. Where did you learn to cook?"

"Thank you. My parents taught me." The compliment stung my pride, and my words filled with ice. "I don't really cook all that much anymore, what with managing this place, but it's good..."

"Oh, you must." Howard dashed the base off two more wine bottles and handed one to me. "This is exquisite cuisine."

I took the bottle in both hands and hoped nobody in the restaurant could see how ridiculous I looked. My fear was gone, replaced with culinary fury. "Thank you, but I prefer numbers."

"Nonsense." Clinking his bottle to mine, Howard downed his in one shot. I faced more trouble, and spilled a large stain down my shirt. Droplets of wine clung to my moustache. The monstrous man reached down and took the bottle back, clucking his tongue. "You should learn to hold your drink." The van Howard used as a table rocked as he rose to his feet, snatching the remaining bottles in his hand. He drank the rest of my wine and tossed the bottle down the street. A car alarm sounded in the distance. "I think I just found my favorite chef. Come to my cave tomorrow night at seven. Bring spare clothes. You’ll be staying a while." He loomed in, his head larger than my torso, and I fell on my rear end. Right in front of the double windows of my restaurant. "Don't make me come get you."

"Wait." I dusted my hands on my apron before pulling out my notebook. Plans to get the giant out of my life rushed through my head. "Don't you want a dessert?"

*

I ignored the stares that followed me as I crossed through the restaurant and into the kitchen. Threatening my restaurant was one thing, but not even the giant Howard Strong would get away with threatening me. Stack after stack of apricot kernels went into the kitchen's blender, crushing them down into a powder. I emptied the cheapest tub of icecream I could find onto a plate and folded through the apricot dust. I could only hope there was enough cyanide in the kernels to take down Howard.

"This is surprisingly bitter." The giant chewed the icecream and looked lost in thought. He stumbled, only to catch himself and shake his head. A bucket of saliva whipped from his mouth, towards my face. I jumped out of the way. "It's... hold on a second."

I stood aside as Howard Strong collapsed. I'd saved not just my own life, but the food industry of my town. If I wanted something... oh, no. My heart sank as I realized the direction Howard fell. He smashed through the awning outside my restaurant, sending glass flying. Screams came from inside before a mechanical thunk; the giant had managed to destroy my kitchen. He twitched once, sending a table flying into the street, then lay still.

My business was ruined. People lay injured in the rubble of my restaurant. At least I stopped the giant from wrecking my restaurant, I guess. That's something. Want something done right? Do it yourself.

Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito


Last week reminded me that I miss Thunderdome so I'm hella in

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Whalley
Mar 5, 2004

neato devito




"My daddy was the best drat reaper. He graduated from the whole heap when I was still just a fresh boneman. Momma said he was already gaining his flesh even while he was still working the pile. I'm gunna beat his record too." I skewered my pike into a moaning body and pushed myself higher, desperate to beat Braskull. "So you gotta slow down and show me some respect."

"Nah. Got better ideas. Plus, you’re not even allowed this high up." Braskull looked down at me and laughed, right to my face, as I struggled to free my pike. "I heard there was a third kind of soul, one what we don't never get in here. Your poppabone ever tell you about that while he was meating up?"

"That's not even true." I tripped on a struggling mound of flesh and fell flat on the bleeding stomach of a man passed out. I slipped my toe in his mouth for traction and started climbing again. "You shouldn't be up this high. You should go down to Mrs. Reeb. You don't have the heritage to be this high up the heap. I do"

A shout echoed up from the bottom of the heap, as if our instructor heard me mention her name. Braskull stopped climbing ahead of me and disappeared behind an overhang of bodies. I slipped my pike into my ribs and scrambled up with both hands. Soft moans sounded under my skeletal grip and I pulled myself over the edge. Braskull waited for me, crouched next to two bodies he'd pulled out of the surrounding wall.

"Everyone’s real tired of hearing you crack, Femuran. You think you're so good? Here." He pushed the smaller of the two bodies towards me. It mewled softly, blinking its eyes and moving in small uncertain terms. "The livers call this a chilled. You'll learn that when you get to your second year on the heap. I've been here five, so I'll take this bigger one. It's called a dolt. I'll still beat you, too. Then you gotta go back down to your class. It's the rules. Only fifth years get to climb to the top."

I clenched my teeth hard enough to make my jaw crack. "I know what a child is. My daddy told me all about them."

"You can't even say it right!" Braskull laughed at me, then hefted his pike in both hands and stabbed it into the stomach of his body.

I yanked my pike out of my ribs and stared at the child. Daddy said they just do some kinda automatic movement thing, and they aren’t supposed to be smart like us. Maybe he was right, but the thing still looked like it was trying to protect its belly. I had to go for the head first. My pike sloughed its face off into a little pile by my foot, then slipped into the neck. I made a bunch of little stabs and got the bigger bits of meat off, then got down to start yanking flesh with my hands. You gotta get all the chunks off to get the meatsoul off the bonesoul, or else you're just making a mess and momma won't let you come in for dinner. I felt pretty good when I'd worked down to the legs, only to look up as Braskull helped his new boneman stand.

"Hey, I know you can't understand yet, but I gotta point out." Braskull pointed at me, and his new boneman copied the motion. "That there's called a dummy. They ain't allowed up this high yet."

I sat back and tears stung my sockets. It wasn't fair. I was smarter than Braskull. I was smarter than everyone. He kicked his boneman at me and I got out of the way, letting it roll back down the heap. Braskull laughed at me again and went back to climbing. I kicked at the meat piling up around my feet, when I had an idea.

The meatsoul from my child wasn't enough, so I had to take some of the bits from Braskull's stack. I pushed it into my ribs and into my arms and into my head until I was all shaped like one of the bodies. I looked around to make sure nobody was looking, then started digging a tunnel right into the heap. I was going to scare Braskull so bad when he came back down, he'd have to tell all his friends I was the best.

I dug deeper. A glow started coming from the middle of the heap, but it didn't matter to me at first. All sortsa things around here glow. It wasn't until a cold wind tingled my headbone that I realized what the glow was. Nothing around here gets cold. I shrieked with excitement and dug faster.

I'd found a shortcut to life. I didn't even need to graduate no more. Momma would be so proud.

I dug and dug until the bodies around me turned into a weird brown crumbly stuff, then dug further. The brown crumbly stuff gave way all of a sudden and I started falling backwards into the hole, like gravity had changed up on me. I grabbed at some green stuff on the other side of the brown crumbly stuff and pulled myself to my feet.

There was all kinds of weird colors and temperatures around me. I tested out to see if walking worked the same in the liver's world. It was mostly right, but the meatsoul on my bones had a strange weight here. A little chunk of meat fell off my ribs when I tried out a bigger step. The air stung the exposed bone, so I decided I'd stick to shuffling.

The liver's world was lonely. I called out to see if anyone would answer, but there was no response. After waiting for what felt like an hour, I went exploring. There was a lot of little upright stones everywhere, and I shuffled into them more often than I meant to. Little bits of meat fell from my knees and shins where they hit. The air hurt on my legbone, and I shrieked in pain. I needed some kind of new meat to patch up the hole. Lucky for me, there was a building nearby. It was made of gross angles and boring rocks, but it was a building all the same.

Maybe there'd be bodies inside.

I'd almost shuffled up to the door when a body came out. It was smooth, and looked like it was made of meat, but covered in some kind of fabric. It saw me and screamed. I froze; the bodies weren't supposed to move around, and definitely weren't supposed to see me. I tried to tell it to calm down, but the meat in my headbone got in the way of my words. It backed away, screaming. I pushed my hand into my mouth and yanked the meat out of my mouthspace to talk, but the body had run into the building. I dropped the meat onto the ground and shuffled closer to the door.

"Please, I'm sorry, I just need some meat for my meatholes. Please come out," I called to the building. My voice echoed back at me, then I heard shouting. The body appeared in the door again, with a metal stick. Two other bodies came with it, one of whom was huge with meat. They must have heard. "Thank you."

The first body pointed its metal stick at me and I heard a big boom.

*

I finished writing my lines on the board. Mrs. Reeb crossed the room and unchained my legs from the desk. I rubbed at the bone around my ankles, sore from the weight of her manacles.

"How's your headbone?"

"Better." I rubbed the fresh cracks in my skull. "But it still hurts."

"It'll do that." Mrs Reeb crossed her arms. "What have you learned, Femuran?"

I didn't need to read my writing to know the lesson Mrs Reeb asked about. My quick time in the liver's world had taught me all I'd needed. "I shouldn't take shortcuts."

She unfolded her arms. "And why is that?"

I looked away, only to see Braskull laughing at me with his friends from outside the window. I looked at my feet in shame. "I don't know everything." Tears stung my sockets and I stared back at her. "I just wanted to be like my daddy."

"Oh, littlebone. Everyone leaves eventually." Mrs Reeb put her hands on my shoulders and touched her head to mine. Her sockets had more compassion than I expected. "There's so much to learn. You don't need to rush."

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