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God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


In

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God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


I wrote a really good story but it's on my computer at home in Seattle and I'm stuck in a shithole hotel in Manhattan. Oops sorry guys see you next week with some action.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Martello posted:

recommendation: invest 0.00 American dollars in Dropbox

I have Dropbox but my pea-sized brain struggles to remember to use it in situations where it might be, you know, useful

I guess I learned a valuable lesson today

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


I am in with a because I am a big failure.

I love this prompt, by the way.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Never have I been so grateful to be a morning person.

What we had never done before (1249 words)

As we did every century, Bear and I scrambled up to Lack's cave, ready for the storytelling to begin. But where he had always greeted us at the entrance, today there was only silence.

"Has he gone to the ocean?" I asked. But Bear had sharper eyes than I, and was already calling out. "Lack?" she said. "Why are you sleeping?"

His dark form lay motionless in a jumble of blankets. I shook him firmly by the shoulders, but he did not draw breath. "A strange sleep," I said.

We splashed his face with cold water, and shouted at him, and poked his feet with sharp sticks. Yet he did not stir; not even a heartbeat fluttered beneath his bony sternum. He smelled unwashed.

Bear's face was placid, but I could tell, after millennia of easy friendship, that she was concerned. "I once heard of a woman who slept for forty thousand years," she said. But we knew there could be no truth to such a story. Who can hold so many years in their head?

"Whatever the cause of this, someone must tend him," I said. "Otherwise his limbs will grow weak, and his fingernails will grow into claws, as Serai the idiot's do if they go untrimmed. I will bring him to the shore and watch over him there. Will you read his papers, to determine the nature of this sleep?"

"I will," said Bear, settling on the packed-dirt floor.

Lack's limbs were stiff and he would not hold on. I was forced to carry him down like a bundle of washing. At the shore a dozen men and women played in the surf. They had just rotated away from the fields or the schools, and were preparing for a few centuries of leisure. They prodded at Lack as I laid him out on a blanket.

"He sleeps," said a long-limbed woman, "but does not breathe. He does not look ill, yet his heart does not beat. Why?"

Another woman took a breath and held it, eyes crossing, until her lips went purple and she toppled into the water. She reemerged with everyone hooting. "Yes, a man can hold his breath," she said, "but if nothing prevents it, he will breathe again when he sleeps. Also," she added, pinching her nose, "this man has a great stench on him."

Lack often stank or worse, thanks to the medicines that he brewed. But he was the only man I had met in ten thousand years who could tell a story I had never heard before. Bear and I were his sincerest devotees, and we had spent as much time recreating his stories for each other as he had in the telling.

Turning my back on the crowd, I set about washing him. People stared and ate fruit, juice dripping down their bare chests. As the sun set I piled blankets on Lack and built a fire.

His limbs grew pliable under my massaging fingers, then spongy. My ministrations had done nothing for the strange stench. A throbbing cloud of flies and beetles surrounded us.
People came to sit with me, sometimes allowing me a few minutes of sleep, although more of them preferred to poke at him, to chatter. One woman touched him with a stick and yelped. "What is it?" I said, half-awake. "Has he stirred?"

"Look!" she said. I rubbed my eyes. Tiny, eyeless worms squirmed over Lack's skin. I brushed at them, but more simply crawled from under the blankets. I did not have enough hands to bat them away.

Some men could lure snakes from their pits, could gather lizards to them as an audience to a storyteller. But these creatures were liquefying Lack's skin, slithering into his ears and nostrils. If this was some conjury, Lack no longer controlled it.

"Come, help me," I called. But no person would approach past the edge of the firelight. Steady-handed Bear would help me clear away these worms. But she still sat studying Lack's papers by lamplight. So at moonset I curled up hopelessly in the sand beside Lack, too exhausted to continue plucking at the worms but unable to sleep for horror.

I awakened in the pre-dawn chill to a thunder of wings. Feathers scraped me as I tried to pry my eyes open. A tornado of long-necked birds danced in the smoke from the extinguished fire. They darted at Lack.

"Go!" I shouted feverishly, flapping my arms at them. "Leave him to sleep!" The birds plucked at him, tearing the blankets and his exposed limbs. As if in a dream I struck at them, colliding with one feathery beast only to have it replaced with a dozen more.

The blankets were ripped away and the birds dug into his flesh, exposing bone. Healing such injuries comes only with terrible pain. I imagined Lack torn to pieces, limbs slithering over a bed of bloody sand. "Go!" I shrieked. "Go! Go!" And finally the birds decamped, leaving me retching.

Those watchers who had not fled from the worms had been frightened away by this storm. I wrapped Lack in the tatters of blankets. "Will you wake?" I said quietly. But he did not answer. My eyes felt abraded.

That night, Bear came to squat beside the fire. My relief at her heavy footsteps, at the quiet swish of her skirts, was a warmth in my stomach. She did not recoil at the purple-green of Lack's ragged limbs.

"I have read the papers," she said, spreading them out before me. She outlined the words with a broad finger.

For millennia, I have sought an experience that no man has had before, Lack had written.

I have finally discovered such a thing, through long practice of the alchemical arts. Now I depart, and when I return, I shall weave a tale such as no man has ever heard.

My body may become strange to you. I will explain how to care for it.


"His body?" I asked. His words denoted an old building, an abandoned place of residence.

"What is left after he has gone away," said Bear, gesturing to the heap by the fire. "It is not him, he says. He has instructed us to burn this body in a great fire. It will cause him no pain."

To relieve myself of this horror, of a beloved thing broken that cannot be mended, I would even throw a storyteller into a great fire. Thus. We built the fire so hot that our sweat spattered on the sand, and as Lack burned we told his stories to each other, to the uncaring earth.

When the body was ash we looked up at the stars. "They are a comfort," I said.

"They frighten me," said Bear, "because I know I can never touch them." She was weeping.

How would the stars feel? I thought. Like marbles in a velvet cloth? Like eyes? Then I shivered, realizing that Lack would never tell me the story of the stars.

Bear's soft hand snuck into mine, like a crab seeking a shell. And that night, in the light of the funeral pyre, we did another thing that nobody had ever done before.

Men will spin tales of Lack's departure for centuries, I thought, but nobody will know the truth of it. But Bear and I, at least, know the truth of this strange story we tell each other with our bodies. Lack has gone away, but our story is about coming home.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


itsy-bitsy epics!

Foundations (52 words)

"When I die," whispered the king, "thus shall my earthly works." He pressed the button with a palsied finger.

And monuments to old gods and new businessmen, bereft of their foundations, crumbled in torrents of rock.

Those of us who remain now scrabble in the ruins, lingering past a dreaming man's awakening.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


I'm entering twice because idgaf.

Foundations (62 words)

A perfect creation inevitably takes imperfect form in the mind of man. Thus the hundred thousandth slave was tossed from the marble structure to rot in the morass at its feet.

The architect forced the blade into his gut, runnels of blood painting the temple floor. Only the lizards heard his whimpers of ecstasy; only the scorpions saw his grimace of delight.

e: fffffffff drat you

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


in

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Helios (996 words)

He wakes up in a bulkhead seat.

He wakes up, cold and soaked, in a tangle of polyester blankets.

He wakes from a dream where an octopus with a woman's face stuffs a gooey mass of seaweed down his throat and into his sinuses. He chokes and snorts, gagging on seawater. If only he could open his jaw a little wider, if only -

Gaspy buzzsaw snoring comes from the seat next to him. Rage burns in his jaw. He cocks back a fist to swing at the man, who coughs in his sleep.

Fist halfway to target, he stops. His muscles feel so strange. Like punching someone in a dream, Zeno's paradox made tangible. He starts to giggle.

He looks at his nailbeds, a startling robin's-egg blue. The freezing air has awakened a cramp in his gut and a twist in his bladder. He has something terribly important to do.

The lavatory. He needs to go to the lavatory.

Parts of him keep floating away. He gets one leg up and looks down to see the other one useless on the ground. He gives up, falling onto his knees, melting against the bulkhead plastic.

It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring. Soaked in his own piss, a coherent thought peristalses into his brain: I am shitfaced.

Is he? There's no quinine sticky-sweetness in his mouth, no rancid burped-up malt. The floor sways, but no, he isn't drunk. Drugs, maybe?

The cabin is foggy. His ears are popping, over and over. Drugs don't do that.

The first dynamic stability mode of an aircraft is phugoid motion, he thinks dully, stomach yawing. Tip the nose down and go faster. Go faster, and the nose points itself up. The plane rises and falls in rhythmic breaths.

Phugoid motion. Pilots usually correct it without even knowing it's started.

How does he know that? Is he flying this plane? He pats his chest with a sluggish hand. No tie. No pilot's wings.

A hanging garden of oxygen masks sways gently from the ceiling.

He rotates ponderously bow-ward. A flight attendant sprawls behind the drink-service cart. A dull urgency rises in his chest. He needs to do something. Not the lavatory. What is it? Think.

Air -

He wakes up in the aisle, emergency track lighting embossing a groove into his cheek.

He wakes up clutching a portable oxygen cylinder.

Hypoxia is a full-body hangover on top of swine flu. Every thought is twenty steps through knee-deep mud. Why is he on this plane? In his wallet he finds his private pilot's license, bluegreen and comforting. He had to do something important. Critical.

Something makes him reexamine the unconscious flight attendant. Long neck, slender limbs. One high heel dangles from a pantyhosed foot. Eyes wobbling over her face he thinks, Give her the oxygen. She isn't safe.

He shakes his head no. But her face has struck some unidentifiable chord. He has to ask her something, right now.

"Help," he mumbles past the oxygen mask. "Mayday."

The sound of the word and the breaths of oxygen rally his synapses to action. "Mayday!" he yelps. He stumbles back to the cockpit, where the pilot lies, mercifully, facedown. "Mayday! Mayday!" He scrabbles at the radio with frozen fingers.

He rubs at the frost-caked windshield, scraping his hands raw. And through the porthole he creates he sees a fighter jet, sillhouetted against the clouds.

Yet: radio silence. "Mayday!" he shrieks. He pounds his palm on the controls. The escort is no more than a thousand feet away. But he is encapsulated, helpless.

Too far.

The radio! It's still set to RDU's frequency. Too far for waves to propagate. He flips switches frantically, a torrent of info from his last checkride flooding him. He is too busy, now, to wonder why he still feels like he's missing something.

He had to ask someone the most important question of his life. A woman -

A tinny voice squawks over the radio. "Do you copy?" He almost cheers.

He keeps reaching out, dazedly, to touch buttons that are in the wrong place. Flying this behemoth is like surfing a truck down the expressway, compared to the fluttering stalls and spirals of his tiny Cessna. Yet it already flew itself to Sea-Tac, a patient riderless horse. Air Traffic Control talks him down to earth in a West Coast accent.

Anybody can fly one of those things, he thinks through hypoxic migraine. He recalls the punchline, in a familiar woman's laughing voice: Yeah, all the way to the crash.

At eight thousand feet the crystalline fog dissipates, and the plane emerges, damp and squalling, from stasis. Passengers scream and sob.

Three thousand feet. The sensation of height lost at flight's apex - paper-mache mountains, lap-quilt fields, streetlights remote as the stars - returns with a thud.

Until five hundred feet, he really thinks this might be a landing worth bragging about.

To who? He has no idea.

Then the automated co-pilot chirrups "minimums!" and someone, behind him and very far away, yells "brace!" and they belly the ground and bounce, short of the runway and two hundred feet west, at twenty gees -

He wakes up. Metal groans and wings rip under eyeballs-out deceleration, the floor cants at thirty degrees and something twists and one engine spirals off, inscribing a charred circle into the grass, and the windshield cracks and bubbles and jet fuel boils in his nostrils, and -

He wakes up on the tarmac, gagging on fire-suppression foam.

He wakes up entirely alone in a hospital bed at three in the morning, having had no dreams.

On the nightstand sit his passport and cell phone and a seafoam green denture cup, and in the denture cup is a tiny wooden box, and in the box is an immaculate golden engagement ring.

On the inside of the ring, in cursive script: you make me feel like flying.

Engraved on the outside is a tiny, perfect airplane.

---

(loosely based on a true story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helios_Airways_Flight_522)

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Thunderdome LXXVII: Well gee, that's certainly something

Good afternoon Thunderdome! I hope you enjoyed your trip through the sewers last week. This week, we're going to be dealing with weird poo poo. However, I humbly request that you not deal with literal poo poo, you Freudian loving weirdos.

Please pick a link from the following list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Unusual_articles and use it as the basis for your story. When you post your story, indicate what link you chose.

In addition, your story must be believably told through the eyes of someone of a gender different from your own. Interpret this exactly as written. If you start an argument about gender, I will set you on fire.

Technical shizzlewizzle:

Your word count is 900.

Your time zone is Pacific Standard Time.

Signups are due by 10pm Friday, January 24. Entries are due by 10pm Sunday, January 26.

Your judges are:
- me
- the inimitable Erogenous Beef
- the apparently rather masochistic Saddest Rhino

---

Bold combatants: Bald combat tents:

Quidnose
Djeser
Black Griffon
ReptileChillock
Meinberg
Guiness13
Paladinus
poopkitty
Fanky Malloons
QuoProQuid
Noah
Anathema Device
J. Comrade (FLASH RULE for passive-aggressive politeness: Your story must in some way incorporate unadulterated hatred.)
No Longer Flaky
sebmojo
Accretionist (INCREDIBLY INCONVENIENT FLASH RULE: Your story spans a period of at least 100 years.)
Jonked
Nikaer Drekin
JamieTheD
crabrock
magnificent7
SurreptitiousMuffin
WeLandedOnTheMoon!
Walamor
Jay O
Mr_Wolf
tankadillo
Entenzahn
ThirdEmperor
The Saddest Rhino - Still writin' about cats making GBS threads out coffee, on his own time
Tyrannosaurus
Baudolino
Xanderkish
Schneider Heim
Phobia
elfdude
Kaishai

(37)

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at Jan 25, 2014 around 18:22

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


J. Comrade posted:

Fanky,
Well noted your advice. Thanks for nothing. Hope you won't mind if I don't hate you back. Oh no, that was kind of still fawning wasn't it? I can't help myself.
Best regards,
J.

FLASH RULE for passive-aggressive politeness: Your story must in some way incorporate unadulterated hatred.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Accretionist posted:

In

I'd like to request an incredibly inconvenient flash rule.

INCREDIBLY INCONVENIENT FLASH RULE: Your story spans a period of at least 100 years.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Jonked posted:

Oh you gently caress. I guess i'll be in with something else.

Duplicates are OK, as long as you write it better than everyone else.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Jay O posted:

e: Does "from the perspective of" limit us to 1st-person perspective

Nope.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards



For you, fine. But only if you don't describe a civet making GBS threads coffee beans.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Submissions are closed

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Thunderdome LXXVII Results

I tried to squeeze a few drops of 'interesting' out of your dessicated brains. Instead, we got scene after scene of Generic People Uninspiringly Discussing Fascinating Things, with an occasional detour into complete incomprehensibility. You had all the awesomely fucknuts/badass/ridiculous material in the world, and that's what you came up with? I'm ashamed of you, Thunderdome. Go to your room.

No, you can't have dessert.

Be aware that not getting a bad mention here doesn't mean your story wasn't awful. Some of you (even regulars!) got away with some fairly atrocious stuff, just because there were a handful that stood out like giant heaps of poo (in a field full of slightly smaller heaps of poo).

Loser: Paladinus. If you just really wanted to write about vampires, I'm sure there were some much vampier options in those hundreds of articles. Nice job shoehorning in LOL I AM WOMAN, ARE YOU? in the most ham-fisted way possible, too.

Dishonorable Mentions: Phobia, JayO, Mr_Wolf

Special dishonorable mention for being the first idiot to straight-up plagiarize an entry to No-Stakes Internet Comedy Forum Flash Fiction Contest: tankadillo

Fortunately there were a few lights in the darkness. Some of you, for instance, managed to actually write about the content of the article you chose! Some of you even did it marginally competently! And a few of you made me feel things!

Winner: Tyrannosaurus. This was competently written, sweet, meaningful, and believable while still holding interest. Nice work.

Honorable Mentions: crabrock, SurreptitiousMuffin.

My crits will be up tonight.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


in. 1920s

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


CHOOSE YOUR OWN CRITS

---

page 1

Your story is incoherent.

You managed to take something like this:

quote:

(1) Jane opened the door and stepped into the room.

and turn it into this:

quote:

(2) She grasped the cool, firm protuberance and pushed forward, entering something entirely new.

The second one also describes what’s happening - you’ve got some picture in your head, and the words you’ve written fit it, sure. But a story has readers. So you don’t get to just write words that fit what you’re envisioning; you have to write words that take the reader to what you’re envisioning.

If you’re competent, you can even do this artfully, in such a way that the word choice conveys tone or subtle shades of meaning. The key word is competent. If you’re reading this now, you aren’t a strong enough writer to do ‘literary’ or ‘dramatic’ or ‘artistic’ or ‘ambiguous’ prose. You need to focus on telling a strong, ‘workmanlike’ story first, and then worry about the flourishes.

---

page 2

Your story is boring.

You were given your choice of loving awesome material. Dramatic deaths. Even more dramatic lives. And you chose to write about Faceless Guy and Generic Girl discussing the story. Or you gave me 300 words of some rando’s backstory instead of skipping to the awesome.

Interesting doesn’t mean fucknuts crazy poo poo is happening all over the place. Interesting means that something is happening and something about your description of the characters, setting, etc has made me want to know about it.

---

page 3

The emotional impact of your story is contained entirely within a Wikipedia article. And/or you made me read an additional 500 words of Wikipedia to figure out what the hell you were talking about. This is your weekly reminder that your stories are supposed to be stories, and if you couldn’t figure out a way to intimate to the reader what the hell you were writing about without going over the word count via exposition, write about something else.

---

page 4

You whiffed the ‘gender’ part of the prompt. It’s all well and good to say that there’s really no difference between men and women and therefore that part of the prompt is meaningless and won’t change anything about your writing. But the truth is that men and women are, broadly speaking, socialized differently; this appears, among other places, in how men and women interact amongst themselves and with others, how they talk, the kinds of expectations people have of them, and the kinds of archetypal roles they fulfill in fiction.

Of course, there’s more variation within the group of ‘men’ and the group of ‘women’ than there is between the two groups, so in many stories, gender really will be irrelevant. I didn’t dock anybody points for just not making gender significant. But the fact that I mentioned gender specifically in the prompt should reveal what I was looking for: stories that wouldn’t have the same impact if the main character was of a different gender. Where the character’s experiences take on some slightly different shade of meaning because he/she is male or female.

---

page 5

Your take on gender is aggressively terrible. Women do not walk around projecting LOL I AM WOMAN, WACKY NO?. You can convey a sense that gender is relevant without having your characters discuss it (especially if it isn’t even part of the plot!).

---

CRITS:

The Saddest Rhino - How Louis Was Impressed, but Still Won’t Learn to Listen

your article says:

quote:

Kopi luwak, or civet coffee, refers to the beans of coffee berries once they have been eaten and excreted by the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus).

I was expecting:

900-word description of the workings of civet cat sphincters.

You gave me:

A sweet old-world/new-world tale with tone as a strength. Plus coffee lovingly plucked from turds.

On the whole, I liked this. The writing is tight. There are a few places where your word choice is a little weird. A comment in IRC made me think more about to what extent these are just you writing in Malaysian English, and I think a lot of them probably are, but I already pointed them out so I’m leaving this here:

He cried as his Converses stomped wetly into the field. - This sentence is just bad in general, ‘cried out’ or ‘whimpered’ would be better for the verb, and don’t write clothing as if it’s doing things deliberately unless you have some literary reason to, because it stands out.

She yanked on to his arm

Hyeon-Seo thought about it, then removed her heels and left her handbag lying beside them.

You also could’ve given me more of a sense of why Hyeon-Seo was ready to have the kind of revelation that she did. That would’ve made the story more satisfying - as it stands, I can understand why she had this emotional experience, but only because I understand what her ‘type’ is from my own experiences external to the story. I would rather know more about who she is specifically and what makes her go help the little girl rather than just ignoring her in favor of keeping her shoes clean (replacing some of the cute but ultimately unnecessary bickering with Louis, who is not really a character and thus shouldn’t be given so much screen time.)

I’d like to point out that you did a really nice job with the ‘gender’ requirement (and on hitting the prompt in general). It feels relevant that Hyeon-Seo is female, and she reads like a type of woman that I’ve definitely met before, but the story isn’t LOL FEMINISM.

---

Mr_Wolf - Tonight

your article says:


quote:

The term maschalismos has widened to include the customs throughout the different cultures of the world in ritually mutilating their dead to prevent their wrath from affecting the living. In the Moluccas, a woman who has died in childbirth is buried with pins stuck through the joints, and an eggunder the chin and or armpits

I was expecting:

Blood-soaked ancients rending their dead limb from limb as Iron Maiden plays in the background.

You gave me:

A story that reads like snorkeling in mud. Sorry, but this is absolutely atrocious, especially given the ridiculously crazy idea you had to work with, and I was pushing for it to lose. Does the story even depict maschalismos? Is your character male or female? I honestly have no idea.

turn to page 1.

turn to page 2.

turn to page 3.

turn to page 4.


---

elfdude - Untitled

your article says:

quote:

When toast falls out of one's hand, it does so at an angle. The toast then rotates. Given that tables are usually between two to six feet (0.7 to 2 meters), there is enough time for the toast to rotate about one-half of a turn, and thus lands upside down relative to its original position. Since the original position is usually butter-side up, the toast lands butter-side down.

I was expecting:

A pessimist straps toast to her cat and drops it out of a 40th-story window.

you gave me:

A surprisingly witty story with some nice moments, that could nonetheless have been a lot better. At least one of your other judges absolutely hated this (because of the overwrought writing style), but I think there’s something good going on here under all the dreck.

I’m going to do a line-by-line for you because most of your issues are stylistic or mechanical. Also, holy mother of God learn to use a comma.

---

quote:

Trial five thousand, eight hundred and forty-seven, she scribbled in her carbonless notebook.

“What are you doing?”

She spun around in surprise. Then realized it was a boy. She sneered. It wasn’t that he was bad lookingCOMMA (or maybe semicolon) she just had no time for childish romances. All she saw was a distraction. A phony smile, and the attempt at charm. She had no use for charm.repetitive

She returned to her studiesand slathered,slathering (‘and slathered’ sounds like the activities are unrelated) another slice with butter. The cold shoulder was obvious. It was a technique she had mastered. It was a simple tactic, much simpler than her current task. She looked past the man, as if staring into his soul, then without a thought she turned away from him uninterested. She could almost feel the weight land on his head as she did it.the story is not really about the man or about the character’s love life. Cut this to 1 sentence - “She had long since mastered the art of the cold shoulder.”

“Did you hear me?”

Another interruption. She wanted to scream at him; to tell him the importance of her work. She wanted to explain how the very fabric of reality was being plucked apart by her discerning eye. The impulse faded almost immediately. Yet Engaging such a primitive was beneath her. She picked up her belongings and moved to another table. If the man was a balloon she was sure he would have popped. No need to describe whose impressions we’re seeing; you’ve already established who the viewpoint character is

Away from the distractions her experiment was loaded and readied. Her smile was thin and only a careful observer might have known her internal excitement as she prepared to record the data. There was no sweeter thing in life. Science had become her addiction. It was a drug that knew no limit; a prescription that needed no doctor; a comfort that needed no man.

Time slowed down as she lifted her hand and watched as her lunch fellher lunch fall (more active). If math was a color, it was a color that she alone could see.cool idea but comes out nonsensical in practice; rephrase. Suddenly the vector quantities of centripetal force became visible in her imagination. The force of rotation was equivalent to the tangential velocity multiplied by the mass of the object inverse to the radius of curvature. It was an equation she knew by heart and it set her teeth on edge.

As soon as it had begun the dream ceased. Her toast landed, buttered side down. She smiled. It was as she had expected. She had long thought that reality was a cruel and evil place and in fact that was her underlying? hypothesis. The Buttered Toast PhenomenaPhenomenon simply proved it to be true. She smiled thinly as reality came into focus. There was clearly no free choice, and there was not even such a thing as luck. There was however a ‘god’. If you could call it that.Either scare quotes or this sentence, not both. A being of pure malevolence who had designed the universe with simpleCOMMA unalterable lawsCOMMA to bring about the misery of all menDASH/PERIOD or at least her.

Soon the attendants arrived and she screamed. They grew angry with her and called for meds. Her fight was pointless. The two attendants outclassed her in mass by a full magnitude. Just like always her choice was irrelevant. The universe was designed to cause her misery.I’m torn on this - on the one hand the detached, clinical tone works for the story; on the other, you’re describing an interesting fight in a clinical way, which is kind of boring.



The morning greeted her with harsh sunlight. Breakfast would begin soon. She smiled in spite of herself andMy god this woman smiles a lot for no discernible story-related reason waited patiently with her carbonless notebook for her door to be unlocked. After what seemed like hours her warden arrived to let her out. There was a lecture of course which followed from the previous day’s events but she didn’t listen to a word.This sentence is clumsy The one thing on her mind was the toast.

Her warden, the man calling himself her therapistCOMMA sighed and had her sit at the table while he went to fetch her breakfast. She shivered in anticipation and closed her eyes imagining the sweet sight of the misery of existence being proven once more to her.does she like that she lives in a cruel world? Or that she’s proving others wrong? The sound of a tray slapping the table in front of her brought her back to reality. She opened her eyes.

It wasn’t there. There was no toast. There was nothing but oatmeal.This moment is really good, play it up. Right now you’re diluting it with the ‘it wasn’t there, there was no toast’ bit. She felt her eyes beginbegan to burn. This was unexpected. This was even worse than misery.see, I don’t get it. Is she happy that she knows the world is cruel, or not? She looked towards her wardenCOMMA thinking it to be a cruel jokeCOMMA but he had already moved on. He didn’t care. A lone tear fell down her cheek.

The sound of a sliding tray drew her attention. In front of herCOMMA appearing by magicCOMMA was toast. She looked up and saw the man who had tried to get her attention before. She glared while she tried to figure out what he wanted. This makes it sound like she’s spending time thinking about what he wants, while he stands there awkwardly.

He just shrugged,PERIOD “You know, if you keep trying the same thing, you’ll always get the same result.” She tried to sneer at himCOMMA but he had already turned to walk away.

Her thoughts did cartwheels as she tried to contemplate the action. For the first time she felt entirely understood. She smiled widely, he wouldn’t see it anyways.awkward sentence This timeCOMMA she would prove it wrong once and for all and she would prove him wrong too.

While her warden was distractedCOMMA she climbed upononto the table. Her knees wobbled, not from weakness or fatigue but from excitement. She stood up and raised the toast into the air. Her warden cried outCOMMA but it was too late,. the toast slipped silently from her hands.

End over end her smile grew wider.awk The math seemed to glow like the sun searing its values into her head. Then with a plop the toast landed, buttered side up. This is another good moment, you might be able to draw it out a little.

-----

poopkitty - The Turning of the Heavens


your article says:

quote:

Kaiten. The Kaiten was a manned fast torpedo, which was piloted straight into its target, which in practice was a suicide weapon.
I was expecting:

Suicide-bombing astronauts smashing human-sized craters into an alien moon.

You gave me:

The personal history of some guy I don’t care about, with no mention of Kaiten until the very last microsecond.

Your writing isn’t awful, but the story is pointless. Why are you giving me hundreds of words on the personal/employment history of a guy who is researching Kaiten (which I didn’t even realize he was doing until one of my co-judges mentioned it?) Also, what is the drumming? If it’s supposed to spur some dramatic realization in the reader, it went right over my head (and I’m fairly forgiving of stories that take work to ‘figure out’.)

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 3.

---

Paladinus - A True Vampire

your article says:

quote:

In mathematics, a vampire number (or true vampire number) is a composite natural number v, with an even number of digits n, that can be factored into two integers x and y each with n/2 digits and not both with trailing zeroes, where vcontains precisely all the digits from x and from y, in any order, counting multiplicity. x and y are called the fangs.
I was expecting:

Number theory-themed erotica. Oooh, his factors glitter in the sunlight.

you gave me:

I still don’t even know, and I read it twice.

I don’t care about either of these people and vampire numbers aren’t mentioned in the story. You can’t reasonably expect your readers to have heard of them, so your entire last section just makes Dodgeson seem like an actual crazy person, where I think the point is that she isn’t, even though the narrator expects her to be? If I’m not right on that, then the story is even dumber than I thought because there’s nothing to justify your having written it. Also the main character is atrociously clueless and your story hinges on the improbable-to-the-point-of-lunacy fact that she, a journalist, doesn’t research her subjects thoroughly enough to know whether their bits are tucked or dangly.

If you wanted to write this story - which you shouldn’t, because I read it and I still don’t know what the plot was - you should at the very least cut the entire beginning section about the interviewer’s backstory. It’s possible that interviewing crazy people for the local news is a fascinating job and leads to good stories, but you didn’t tell us one of em. Flatten and try again.

Also, LOL SHE’S A WOMAN. Jesus Christ.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 3.

Turn to page 5.

---

ReptileChillock - Miss Robinson

Yeah, I’m not gonna seriouscrit this except to say that the Pauli effect was poorly shoehorned in to your 900-word joke about Martello being gay and it’s a waste of a drat good premise. I was expecting a serious and prompt-relevant 900-word joke about Martello being gay, 0 out of 10 domestars.

---

Baudolino - Weird prompt.

your article says:

quote:

Although its rarity often leads to late diagnosis, infants with this disorder can be identified at birth by a "mask-like" lack of expression that is detectable during crying or laughing and by an inability to suck while nursing because of paresis (palsy) of the sixth and seventh cranial nerves. Also, because a person with Möbius syndrome cannot follow objects by moving their eyes from side to side, they turn their head instead.
I was expecting:

A young man dies gruesomely gurmosley from complicationscmopilations of Moebius Syndrome. Someone is sad about it.

You gave me:

A surprisingly sensitive character-study-that-is-almost-a-story about a girl whose face just don’t work right.

I liked the bit with her and her brother in the restaurant. It felt realistic, definitely in line with experiences people with visible disabilities have described to me in the past.

The story is awfully tell-y. Also, the point just seems to be ‘life with a disfiguring disorder is tough’, without demonstrating how Moebius syndrome is uniquely interesting. These are related problems: you give us “Naturally, everyone teased her relentlessly”; what do they say to her? You give us “Sally was used to not being misunderstood”; who misunderstands her and how? As it stands she might just have an ugly birthmark or something. This would have been better if you’d focused in really tightly on one incident and how it defined or changed Sally somehow in light of her disorder.

If possible, get someone to proofread your next story. You might even talk a veteran Domer into doing it. (We would be thrilled to see you in IRC, no joke.) Problem is, the mechanical and spelling problems make your work painful to read. Story-wise this is a lot better than Rural Rentboys, but it’s still impossible to take it seriously because it just reads so awkwardly.

---

Guiness13 - A Dream Vacation

your article says:

quote:

The supposed location of Argleton was just off the A59 road within the civil parish of Aughton in West Lancashire, England, which in reality is nothing more than empty fields.
I was expecting:

A Google whistleblower tries to draw attention to the abduction of an entire town by aliens, in the only way she knows how.

You gave me:

The last man on earth to never have heard of Snopes.

This was a nice piece if a bit outside the realm of believability. My only complaint is that it both started and ended weak. You had so few words here, you needed to make them count. But “Jane grabbed the armrest of her seat as the train jerked into motion, etc” doesn’t do much to start things off with a bang. You really should’ve started with her asking if Sean is really, truly, absolutely sure that he actually made reservations - that makes the reader wonder whether she’s just being a hideous scold, or whether he’s a total incompetent, or possibly both. Same with the ending. Sean just stands there like a sad sack without trying to fix things? He’s not even going to try to save his marriage? What?

---

Djeser - gently caress You, Got Mine

your article says:

quote:

Such a structure would be composed of at least two but typically more Dyson spheres built around a star, and nested one inside another. A significant percentage of the shells would be composed of nanoscale computers (see molecular-scale computronium). These computers would be at least partly powered by the energy exchange between the star and interstellar space.

I was expecting:

Somebody built the ultimate Buttcoins mining rig.

You gave me:

Well, uh, um, I was right.

You came up with a good premise and your writing, mechanically, is solid (except for a slight penchant for adjectives and overdescription that you really can’t afford, given how much you’re trying to say here). This story is not boring which gives you a huge leg up on the competition.

You’re trying to say an awful lot here and your story suffers for it. I think I get why you put in the section about the guy on the ship with his weed farms (to convey why Alex finally decides that these people are horrible?) but it feels rushed (as does the entire second half) compared to the beginning, which offers some cool description but ultimately isn’t that relevant to the story. You need to have a little more faith in your readers - you could’ve dropped us straight into Alex on the spaceship and explained the buttcoin/capitalism/SPACE TECH SUPPORT thing in little bits and pieces and we would’ve not only still gotten it, we would have been more impressed by Alex’s solution to the problem because there would’ve been more room for you to provide a motivating incident(s). You don’t have to explain everything.

Actually, “Alex stared into the pudgy doe-eyes of a savage captain of industry” isn’t a bad opening line. Sets the tone and theme. Should’ve started there, and let the backstory drop bit by bit so we could pick it up. Again: trust your readers, we are people and most of us have brains in our skulls.

Turn to page 4.


---

tankadillo - Breaking Habits

I’m not going to seriouscrit this either.

---

Jonked - The Man from Beatosu

Your article says:

quote:

Beatosu and Goblu are two non-existent Ohio towns in Fulton and Lucas Counties, respectively. They were inserted into the 1978–1979 official state of Michigan map.
I was expecting:

Rabid UM fans make an en masse pilgrimage to Beatosu, get stranded when their tour bus breaks down and end up settling the town as peaceful farmers.

You gave me:

The entirely ambiguous tale of a man who doesn’t exist.

So, this was the best so far. At the time of reading I haven’t read too many other ones yet, so don’t get complacent, okay? But it’s well done, in my opinion. Your writing is strong enough to pull off the ambiguity, so that an ending that would normally just be unsatisfying ends up feeling pleasantly unfinished. Makes you think, as it were. I don’t have much bad to say about it, so keep up the good work. Unfortunately at least one of your fellow judges hated it, so when you get his crit you’ll learn what kept you out of the HMs.

Turn to page 4.

Anathema Device - Monowi

Your article says:

quote:

According to the 2010 census, it has a population of just 1 person,[5] the only incorporated municipality in the United States with such a population.[6]
I was expecting:

The last man in Monowi is forced to serve as his own surgeon when bureaucratic complications require him to go to the closest town’s hospital.

You gave me:

The most boring story in a week full of boring stories. There’s also a spelling error in the first sentence.

The problem here is that the remarkable qualities of your topic are completely ignored in favor of a dull domestic story about a conflict that everyone’s experienced a thousand times, and you didn’t even treat it in a novel way or show us any interesting facets or quirks. I mean, yes, this is a thing that happens, and you describe it competently - kid returns from the big city, has a conflict of values with his aging parents, etc, etc, but it isn’t a story unless you go deeper and give us something more about that theme. What makes these people different from any other trio of adult child, rural parents? Why are they worth writing about? In short, this story fails to justify its own existence, and in turn the time I spent reading it, since I learned nothing from it (and I’m not talking didactic moral poo poo here, just ‘was my attention drawn to some element of human nature or human problem?’) and it wasn’t even interesting aesthetically.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 3.

Turn to page 4.


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Entenzahn - Futile

Your article says:

quote:

He is noted for his works of lenticular art, as well as for The Picture of Everything, a massive painting incorporating images of several thousand people and items, both real and imaginary.
I was expecting:

An attempt to draw a Picture of Every Possible Permutation of the Picture of Everything: The Picture of the Pictures of Everything results in the death of the artist and 24 people who just happened to be standing nearby.

You gave me:

There was one obvious way the story could have gone from the beginning, and you took it. The characters are a bit one-note and we don’t see much of their motivations (why did the woman stay with him for this long; why is he and not some other person painting this picture; etc?). If you tried a little bit harder to inject some surprise and wonder into it this could have had almost a Borgesian quality, but once again, we get something fascinating smothered under endless description of a dry-as-dust domestic dispute.

Turn to page 2.


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No Longer Flaky - Trepanation

Your article says:

quote:

After some time there was an ominous sounding schlurp and the sound of bubbling. I drew the trepan out and the gurgling continued. It sounded like air bubbles running under the skull as they were pressed out. I looked at the trepan and there was a bit of bone in it. At last!
I was expecting:

Somebody, you know, getting trepanned.

You gave me:

A story in which nobody gets trepanned. What the hell, Flaky?

Here’s the problem with this story:
- If the reader is supposed to be horrified by the prospect of trepanning an innocent kid, then you can’t have the doctor describe it clinically as a valid cure for ADD, or you at least need to provide some hint that we’re in bizarro-child-cruelty-world. What you’ve ended up doing is suspending my disbelief just enough that I’m like ‘okay, on my own planet trepanning is horrifying and barbaric, but apparently on this one it isn’t a big deal. Okay, what’s the story?’
- If the reader isn’t supposed to be horrified, then what is the story here? Parent has an unnecessary medical procedure performed on their kid - it’s a sad story, but it happens all the time, and you haven’t given us a new twist on it.

Basically I suspect you’re trying to play on the reader’s preconceptions here, but trepanning isn’t quite awful enough, and the way you’ve described it isn’t quite intense enough, for this to work as satire.

---

crabrock - The Sooterkin Affair

Your article says:

quote:

According to a contemporary account of 9 November, over the next few days he delivered "three legs of a Cat of a Tabby Colour, and one leg of a Rabbet: the guts were as a Cat's and in them were three pieces of the Back-Bone of an Eel ... The cat's feet supposed were formed in her imagination from a cat she was fond of that slept on the bed at night."
I was expecting:

She was actually giving birth to rabbit parts, but modern medical science is just keeping the truth down, man.

You gave me:

A subtly eerie albeit somewhat predictable story with a distinctive voice.

The opening is excellent. There’s something almost magical-realism about the matter-of-fact way she approaches the situation. Your control of the narrative voice really helps you out here, since it sounds both like something from a different time, and like something ‘fable-like’ or magical in nature.

‘Then my baby died’ is the worst kind of telling in the worst possible place. I understand what you were going for, but you stood to gain a really good dramatic moment by giving us a 1-line description of the sensation of having her baby die. Instead it just fell flat. Also, ‘thing that was attributed to magic but then later discredited actually did happen because of magic’ is disappointingly predictable; you write well enough to almost pull it off, but I was expecting a lot of this from the weaker writers this week. (How was I supposed to know they’d all decide to not even write about their drat topics?) Not so much from you.

Ending feels rushed; just one or two more sentences would’ve helped, although the writing is already pretty tight, so I can’t point to anything specifically you should’ve cut. Maybe a tiny bit of the interplay between the rabbit and Toft, since it was possible to ‘get it’ with less than what you wrote.

---

Schneider Heim - The Obvious Solution

Your article says:

quote:

The characters here, usually in a kind of cosplay, are drawn to represent an inanimate object or popular consumer product.
I was expecting:

The brave adventures of Thunderdome-tan and the anthropomorphic BLOOD THRONE.

You gave me:

A story involving nothing startling, interesting, or remarkable. It’s just dull and sleazy from beginning to end. Sure, he kind of gets his comeuppance at the end, but not really. Nobody changes. The wife just goes along with it? Seriously? Even if you think a sane woman would actually do that, it sure doesn’t make for an interesting story.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 5.
Your portrayal of gender isn’t aggressively terrible, but still, ugh. She’s just so passive, and he’s such a pig, and it’ll be that way forever and ever I guess?

---

Tyrannosaurus - It Means No Worries

Your article says:

I was expecting:

The sad tale of an alienated Tibetan vulture who just isn’t fast enough to get the best greebly bits.

You gave me:

The only story to succeed in depicting characters reacting to a situation, rather than the situation itself.

The first paragraph is what I want to show people when they ask how to write a first paragraph on an extremely tight word limit. It sets the background, it establishes the characters, it tells us where the plot is going, it gives us the beginnings of the tone, it’s great.

The sisters even seem to have distinct personalities from each other, which is remarkable in so few words. This is something you do very well in this story - writing dialogue that gives the impression, in a small amount of space, that real people are speaking it.

The ending is another strength - the ‘Hakuna Matata’ bit made me giggle and then feel really sad and then feel weird that this was Thunderdome and I was feeling things, and then read your story again and be really impressed. It’s a nice example of cultural references standing in for much, much bigger ideas (in this case the idea that people in the sisters’ demographic are unwillingly forming their own cultural heritage based on consumer culture, etc.).

---

Noah - Astronaut Ice Cream

Your article said, I was expecting:

Beatosu and Goblu again. See above.

You gave me:

The aftermath of the Apocalypse, if it was portrayed as a Lifetime special.

This was an okay idea, but there’s too much meaningless interaction between the siblings, not enough that would give us a reason to care what happens to them. Basically they’re faceless cutouts that exist to get across the point, which I suppose is that the Apocalypse is really terrible and tragic and hope is meaningless? It might have been better if the futile hope of reaching Goblu - which you touch on, very briefly, at the end - actually changed them or somehow benefited them.

For once in a story I’m left feeling like I want *more* backstory and *less* character interaction, which is atypical for the Dome but still not a good thing.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 3.

Turn to page 4.


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WeLandedOnTheMoon! - H’Angus

Your article said:

quote:

On finding the monkey, some locals decided to hold an impromptu trial on the beach; since the monkey was unable to answer their questions, and many locals were unaware of what a Frenchman may look like,[citation needed] they concluded that the monkey was in fact a French sailor.
I was expecting:

The French sailor that’s actually a monkey ironically turns out to be an unusually hairy, mute French sailor after all. Oopsies!

You gave me:

A story with no apparent monkey. WHERE IS THE MONKEY, MOON

Why is Ann willing to attack Thomas on behalf of some random kid? monkey? she’s never interacted with? If it’s just because she feels sorry for it/him, we need to learn that as readers - we need to see her having some experience that leads her to feel this way. Writing is pretty meh too, there’s too much talking and overdescription, and I see where it’s trying to be dramatic, but the real drama is in the motivations behind the fight and its implications - neither of which you give us. Also, the really interesting thing here - that the kid may or may not be a monkey - isn’t really brought up. There’s a fine line between pulling one over on your readers (so that they feel deceived, i.e. by inadequate description of this monkey/child that any character who was present would have picked up on) and being artfully ambiguous/presenting an interesting mystery (which isn’t what you do here, because nobody seems to be interested in the kid’s species.)

Turn to page 3.


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Walamor - Death Coaster Live!

Your article said:

quote:

The Euthanasia Coaster is an art concept for a steel roller coaster designed to kill its passengers.
I was expecting:

Supervillain surreptitiously installs a euthanasia coaster at Six Flags just in time for the protagonist to arrive.

You gave me:

A ham-fisted satire of reality TV culture. You gotta pick one: either play it straight, or play up the ridiculous to make it parodic. Right now you’re trying to do both: you’re trying to make the reader feel this pathos of Katie’s hinted-at situation with her father and sister, and the genuine fear of the other riders; you’re also giving us the glitz and glam and trappings of reality TV in a scaled-up way. So what is this, a satire, or a heartbreaking story of self-sacrifice? I’d go with the former, after doing some serious thinking about how what you depict here is analogous to things you see IRL.

The beginning is terrible: start with her walking out to the coaster, we don’t need to hear her chatting with non-characters. The ending is also amazingly unsatisfying and unnecessary to get your point across.

Turn to page 4.


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Nikaer Drekin - Posthumous Rex

Your article said:

quote:

Through sound and video, VEGMs would, in theory, make visits to graveyards an interactive experience.
I was expecting:

900-word philosophical tract on whether Great-Grandpa is still sentient, given how terrible his audio quality is getting.

You gave me:

A story I didn’t want to like, but actually did, in the end.

You have a really good underlying idea here, or actually a couple of them: that people might represent themselves posthumously as differently from they were in life; that if dead people can speak, they might gain economic power in spite of not being human, etc. The best moment in this is where Denise tries to call her mother out on the discrepancy between what she recommends doing, and what she actually did in life. I just wanted you to take this further - why did Denise’s mother represent herself in death differently from how she was in life? What other discrepancies are there? How does Denise feel about this? As it stands, there are hints of these interesting ideas, but they never really get explored in favor of Denise’s mom yelling at her irrelevantly.

Nice choice going almost-dialogue-only, too.

---

Quidnose - Signal Noise

Your article said:

quote:

self-described sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity report responding to non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (or electromagnetic radiation) at intensities well below the limits permitted by international radiation safety standards.
I was expecting:

The government is using rogue Wi-fi signals to literally make peoples’ heads explode, but for some reason nobody notices.

You gave me:

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 4.

This is an interesting idea in principle, but it’s just completely unsurprising. Girl who can detect electromagnetic radiation detects electromagnetic radiation. She finds a bomb; the bomb explodes. There’s just nothing remarkable happening here, especially since it’s set against a backdrop where people probably die all the drat time in far more remarkable ways.

---

Kaishai - Une Mémoire des Rêves et de la Pierre

Your article said:

quote:

a French postman who spent thirty-three years of his life building Le Palais idéal (the "Ideal Palace") in Hauterives.
I was expecting:

An earthquake sent by a jealous god destroys the Palais ideal the day after Cheval’s death. It’s revealed to be covering a trapdoor that leads into a secret French bunker full of nukes.

You gave me:

An elegantly written story that you should’ve used all the drat words to properly finish, drat you.

There are lots of pretty words and emotionally evocative images here, but it’s just such a straight retelling with such a completely unsatisfying ending. And then he felt satisfied; so? Did he just spend the rest of his life looking at this nice palace? Was it weird to have completed his life’s work? Did anything change at all? What made him susceptible to this mad desire? It’s a nice telling, but you haven’t given us a lot about the guy’s inner workings, especially for a story that very much feels to exist in the guy’s head.

---

Phobia - For the Last Time We Are Not Calling It a Gay Bomb!

Your article says:

quote:

the theories involve discharging female sex pheromones over enemy forces in order to make them sexually attracted to each other.

I was expecting:

Diffuser-wielding terrorists in chastity belts.

You gave me:

Well, at least something happened, even though it was buried at the end of hundreds of words of expository dialogue.

I’m not going to expound on whether this is offensive or not. It’d be fine if it was an interesting and/or well-written story, because you as the author aren’t promoting any hideously offensive opinions as far as I can tell, although some things you have your characters say made the entire IRC channel cringe.
There was absolutely no need to spend paragraph after paragraph having your faceless characters, one of whom may or may not have a vagina, expound upon the origin and nature of the gay bomb. Give us a chance to figure out what the thing is and does on our own, by giving it to us in the context of a story. This was the most egregious example of ‘your story could have been exciting - maybe not great, but exciting - but you managed to make it completely dull’ this week.

Also, your characters are indistinguishable from each other. Read Ty’s story if you want a lesson in how to fix this.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 4.


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Meinberg - Distortions

Your article says:

quote:

the Tempest-style game was released to the public in 1981, and caused its players to go insane, causing them to suffer from intense stress, horrific nightmares, and even suicidal tendencies.
I was expecting:

A player of Polybius goes insane, suffers from intense stress, horrific nightmares, and even suicidal tendencies.

You gave me:

A really, really, really bad first line. And the rest of the story ain’t much better.

Stuff just keeps happening to your protagonist. She doesn’t seem to feel about it or be affected by it whatsoever, and the hallucinations, etc. don’t even become a plot point until it’s too late for them to matter. Cut the exposition at the beginning; reveal that she’s been playing this game without spending 300 words describing it (especially since the gameplay is irrelevant to your plot).

Turn to page 4.

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SurreptitiousMuffin - Crow-Marm the Librarian

Your article says:

quote:

The presence of the archetype is explained by Christine Williams by the fact that librarianship is a traditionally female occupation, far from traditional ideas of masculinity. She writes that male librarians will often use "Conan the Librarian" cartoons to assert their masculinity and reaffirm male hegemony.
I was expecting:

Genderswapped Conan stomping some fools over late fees.

You gave me:

A funny story with colorful, distinctive writing and some nice references.

I like the level of detail you put in; every reference feels both realistic and meaningful. Unfortunately, you may have to cut some of it to fit more character development within a word limit as tight as this. Where this story suffers is in being divided into two scenes (feels really jarring, for a number of reasons), and in that there isn’t much impact or change - it’s ‘just’ a light, silly yarn. Compared to Ty’s piece, this felt very fluffy.

The story is fast-moving and actually deals with occurrences, rather than people talking, which put you on the top of the pile to begin with. You have a nice way of making each event seem to naturally follow from the previous, without dumping a bunch of exposition on top of us. Everybody who I yelled at about ‘trusting your reader’ should read this story.

---

Fanky Malloons - The Hum

Your article says:

quote:

a persistent and invasive low-frequency humming, rumbling, or droning noise not audible to all people
I was expecting:

The hum is actually just the guy in the cubicle next to me humming, like, really loud. SHUT UP STEVE

You gave me:

A total rush job, with the bones of a nice story.

Lots of mechanical problems here, but I’m sure you’re already aware of them and would’ve corrected them if you had any time to work. The idea isn’t bad, and the telling is good, but the order that you present certain things feels a bit scrambled (probably because you were writing facts as you thought of them), and there needed to be more of a sense that the events described either 1. have occurred, or 2. have been contemplated by the characters. Right now a lot of it reads like Fanky Malloons telling us facts about Oscar; some of them need to be described and/or contextualized better.

Overall though not bad, this would’ve stood a chance at least to get HM if you didn’t have to write it so fast.

---

Jay O - And I Knew

Your article said:

quote:

An odd-eyed cat is a white cat with one blue eye and one eye of either green, yellow, or brown.

I was expecting:

Scientists argue over how to classify a cat with three eyes: One blue, one gold, and one glowing red one in the middle of its forehead.

You gave me:

A ridiculously overwrought story about nerds in an everyday situation. Your 'visions based on the cat's eyes' gambit failed because there's no justification for it, either within or external to the story. It's this remarkable thing that's happening, so if the story doesn't even attempt to justify it, the characters at least need to worry about it, instead of taking it at face value. Also because it throws how quotidian the rest of the story is into stark relief.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 4.

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J. Comrade - Mary Doughal came from Cork

Your article said:

quote:

Winchester came to believe her family and fortune were haunted by the ghosts of people who had fallen victim to Winchester rifles, and that only by moving West and continuously building them a house could she appease these spirits.

I was expecting:

A 900-word apology letter. Yours sincerely, Mary Winchester.

You gave me:

I don't even get what's happening here. Maybe I'm just tired, but seriously, what's going on in this story? Did the builder have something to do with the legend of the Winchester House, or did he just happen to be a psychopath? Wait, is the narrator even one of the builders, or just someone who sympathizes with them? If there's a connection here, I'm missing it. Give us a little more.

Turn to page 1.

Turn to page 4.
[b]

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at Jan 28, 2014 around 00:01

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


The Farce (996 words)

At eight I had only two desires. The first was for the fog-grey Schwinn in the Macy’s window, a window splotted with the nose-prints of a thousand speed-mad boys. The second was to see, just once, the Vigneau brothers win a cycle race.

From the first time I snuck in amongst the chiffonned gentry, I had loved those underdogs - Adolphe and Aubert - helplessly. That my last attempt had ended in a bum’s-rush from the velodrome only made me love them more.

Thus, when my father came home that Friday with three tickets to the six-day race, unrumpled and smelling like clean sweat, I was less skeptical than I might have been. “We’re about to make a lot of dough, Lillian,” he said, grabbing my mother by the waist. “I have it on good authority that ol’ Gormie and Duke are in a winning mood tonight. Go fetch your pin money.” He winked at me.

Gormie and Duke. The Vigneaus’ hard-boiled rivals were swept off by their entourage after every race, never signing an autograph. But to protest was to risk my ticket, so I packed into the trolley unspeaking. My father dickered with the bookie, my mother bought me a Baby Ruth; when my father returned, I hid it under my coat. He insisted on shaking my hand. I drew away with a quarter in my palm.

“Go bet that on Gormie and Duke,” he said, “and you stand to double it.” I gawped. A half-dollar would have the Schwinn on layaway.

Yet at the bookie’s window I hesitated. I pictured moustachioed Adolphe, galvanizing the crowd from his brother’s shoulders. Lanky Aubert, who had once plucked a two-foot splinter from his own thigh after a crash. I had threatened newsboys for a glimpse of their names on the sports page.

I glanced back at my parents. “Twenty-five cents on the Vigneaus,” I whispered. Then I hid the ticket in my unused watch-pocket.

The track shone orange, its corners pitched to forty degrees. “So they can take the turns faster,” I hissed to my father, who shushed me unseeingly.

Of the six days of a race - two-man teams trading twelve-hour shifts - these last two hours were the most fraught. The score-men raised their placards: 16,210 laps for the Vigneaus; five down for those brutes, Gormie and Duke. “Any minute now,” said my father, and settled in with his opera glasses.

Aubert, spokes and steel, flashed past with the pack. A long-haul strategy, then. If the finish came to a mad rush, wiry Adolphe could out-race his brother. But Aubert, he could ride as fast and steady as an Appaloosa ran.

Yet: Aubert was slowing.

It was barely perceptible at first. Riders sighed and sat back from the rivet. In Aubert’s wake they were tentative, unwilling to abandon their lazy positions: slipstreamed, plotting their next attacks unseen. But slowly Aubert slackened: bewildered racers slid past, glancing back, until the peloton shat him out like he’d been oiled.

A murmur arose. “What’s wrong with Vigneau? Is he ill?” His soigneur ran to the sideline with a flask of strychnine, but Aubert waved him off. I plucked at my buttons. Perhaps he’d pick up a better position when they lapped him. My father smiled greasily.

But Aubert was not satisfied to simply lag. He dawdled. In ten laps he was moving at a canter, and when the pack passed him again, he slowed to a trot. My father’s hand dampened my suit-coat shoulder. “What’s wrong with this little prick?” he asked. “Is he trying to make fools out of us?”

Aubert’s pace became parody. At each lapping he made sweeping gestures: after you, monsieurs. As he finally twanged into a mid-course trackstand - twitching on that verge between speed and stillness - the soigneur dragged Adolphe from their infield encampment by his armpits. They pantomimed like film stars. SOIGNEUR: Hands in air, supplicating. ADOLPHE: Head shaking, struggling to rise. “He’s been doped,” my mother whispered. “Those imbeciles doped him?” roared my father. “In front of five thousand people! This is a farce!”

“Ride, Aubert!” I howled with the crowd. And that Viszla of a man obliged us. He propped one foot on the handlebars, pedaling furiously with the other. Then a series of bunny-hops. Then he hobbled along like a child on a dandy-horse. Then, to wild applause, a wheelie. Gormie, unwatched, gained his twenty-fourth uncertain lap.

At the last straightaway mad Aubert clambered up - one foot on the saddle, one on the top tube - and stood, fists pumping. And in this absurd triumphant wobbling fashion he passed the finish line. Thirty laps back.

We roared. We leapt from the grandstand. I slipped my father’s hand and dove in. Aubert Vigneau, already tucked in a cloud of flash-powder. Gormie and Duke - the champions - giving their disquisition to a single journalist.

Aubert was salt-streaked collarbone to navel. “Yes, yes. I have ridden quite poorly indeed,” he was saying. And he was half-turned before a newsman grabbed his bicep.

“Mister Vig-now.” The name mangled. I cringed. “Aren’t you ashamed, to have engendered such a farce?”

And Aubert blinked, turning back.

“No.The only men who should feel shame,” he said, “are those who requested a farce and were angry to see one.”

My father never asked about that twenty-five cent ticket. In return I did him a courtesy as well, untacking my favorite poster (gleaming steel, Adolphe and Aubert with upturned cap-brims - “Vigneau and Vigneau, gone in a flash!”) and hiding it in my roll-top desk. I never did ask how much he made from Gormie’s win.

I believe Adolphe became a bricklayer. As for Aubert I do not know for sure. I have heard that he enlisted, though I reckon him too old for that by now. Nonetheless I check the dog tags of each long-limbed, reddish-haired body that comes through my tent. Honest men are rare enough as it is.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards



Bravo!

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


helium

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards



Hey Flaky, if CC is being a big baby, I'm always down for a rematch.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Nothing to see here!

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at Feb 17, 2014 around 22:23

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Thunderdome LXXX: "Why don't you ask your huge cock?"

Tell me a story about your life. It can be poignant, it can be hilarious, it can be sad, whatever you like. What it can't be is self-deprecating or self-aggrandizing (unless you want to lose).

Q: Is it okay if I just make some poo poo up?

A: You'll only be cheating yourself. That said, I welcome stories that are metaphorical, hyperbolic, or otherwise magical.

Q: Nothing interesting has ever happened to me.

A: Then write about something uninteresting, and use the magic of writing to make it worthwhile.

Word count: 1300. Please don't use them all unless you have to.

Time zone: PST.

Deadlines: Signups - Friday 10pm, entries - Sunday 10pm.

Nota bene: If your story contains one whiff of whiny woe-is-me bullshit, I will give you something to be sad about. You have been warned.

Your honorable judges
- me
- the ferocious Tyrannosaurus
- the gracious Fanky Malloons

---

Cold blooded killas

No Longer Flaky
docbeard
Noah
Djeser
Paladinus
Meinberg
Mad Wack
Whalley - something valuable gets destroyed. Not depressing
Starter Wiggin
Quidnose
WeLandedOnTheMoon! - protagonist is holding something
Little Mac
Sitting Here
crabrock
Mister Morn
Huntersoninski
The Leper Colon V - someone gets something they don't deserve
sebmojo
Iron Crowned
Crab Destroyer
Xenocides
Jay O
Jeep
systran
Entenzahn
curlingiron - at/around a dinner table
DreamingofRoses
Ugly In The Morning
Ursine Asylum
Nettle Soup
Black Griffon
Mercedes
Comrade Black
Sparrow - Genghis Khan
elfdude
Lead out in cuffs
SurreptitiousMuffin - has a valid excuse involving internet censorship, banks, airplanes, and a loving volcano
Erogenous Beef - Sodom Has No Pause Button
Barracuda Bang!
Walamor
Fumblemouse
Palisader
Nikaer Drekin - something that hasn't happened yet
Anathema Device
Jonked
Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi
Jeza
NewsGunkie
Benny the Snake
Kaishai
Arkane
Joda

(51)

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at Feb 15, 2014 around 06:16

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


My prompt made Blood Queen Sitting Here swoon , my work here is done.

(And Flaky, I'm comin for ya, better get those big boy trousers on.)

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


The Leper Colon V posted:

In. I keep backing out every time I don't do this, so !

And if you're up for it, GoD, can I have a flashrule?

Flash rule: In your story, someone gets something they don't deserve.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


You are one brave sonofabitch.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

I'd appreciate being flashed.

Oh wouldn't you just.

Flash rule, thanks to Djeser: Your protagonist is holding an object, and cannot put it down for the duration of the story.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Whalley posted:

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

Flash rule: something valuable gets destroyed.

My husband told me to give you 'has to be Transformers-themed'. Be grateful.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


You're welcome to write depressing if you can do it without being mopey, maudlin, first-worldy, angsty, pathetic, or dull. If it makes me cry, more power to ya, that means you made me care about your story which is a good start. If it belongs in e/n, judgment will not be kind.

E: 'you' means everyone but Whalley.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


One crit, on request.

quote:

Jay O - Salvage

The crows called out when they saw Martin coming up the hill. He could hear them, even through the drum and roll of the rain off his poncho's orange hood, and it sounded to him like laughter at his expense. He cursed at them under his breath, and he cursed the mud harder. It was a slog to plow uphill one foot at a time, dropping to his hands every few minutes to shove against the sliding downhill muck when his boots got sucked under and trapped. He wasn't here because he wanted to be.Lame hook: Ooooh, why is this faceless character standing on a hill? (Good hook: He's here for a reason that the reader isn't equipped to fully understand yet, and thus wants to know more about.)

Schloop! Tripped again. Martin smashed into the ground face first. He could feel the cold, wet clumps of jagged earth pressing into his belly and rainwater pouring in little rivulets down his pants. He pulled himself to his feet, yanked his shirt down, and hissed more swears.This is evocative and lyrically written, sure, but save your pretty images for the emotional heart of the story, not some random guy walking up a hill. You could've got him up to the top of that hill in two lines.

Then he saw what he had come for, yards ahead of him, and his throat tightened.

"Sh-poo poo. poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo..."

Martin kept chanting his sutra of poo poo cute. as he clambered up the soggy grass and soil to the Tinhouse. It wasn't made of tin, really, but that's what he and the guys had called it back in high school. Corrugated tin roof, rusty tin panels on the walls, so it was a Tinhouse, right? But the carcass of their old haunt, underneath the tin-skin, was all just wood, and rotten wood after years of neglect. A wave of mud had slammed through the back of the Tinhouse. Water streamed down the hillside and through this new back door, blocked only a little by the trunk of a gnarly dead elm tree that grew behind the shed. again, way way way way way too much here. Trust your readers: they need fewer words to picture a scene than you'd think, especially if they're the right words. Martin knew it must be flooded inside. He'd hiked all the way up here for nothing.

"Wait."is he talking to himself?

With level ground under his feet again, Martin shot around to the back of the shed and breathed a sigh of relief. The torrent of mud from above had crumpled in the back of the Tinhouse, but it had also formed a dam, forcing the water and muck to fork along the sides of the shack's outer walls and splash down the hill. Gave me a lot of trouble on the way up, he thought. But if the Tinhouse wasn't flooded, maybe some stuff could be salvaged. okay, I'm starting to see the issue here. You have this very complicated physicality in the scene, like you're picturing a very specific image of how the whole hill, mud, etc. with the tinhouse is set up. but the point isn't to package the image that you have in your own head and give it to the reader, it's to guide the reader to develop their own images.

Martin tore open the front door. Some water rushed out, and the floor warped under his feet, but it wasn't Atlantis in here yet.neat image. The gamebooks should all be on the second shelf in the corner. All Wizards of the Coast stuff, most of them with original sheets, some with the supplemental stuff. oh god here comes parade of the nerds. I see what you're trying to do, but this stuff just sticks out so much when you add it as incidentals. Gamebooks aren't 'background'-y enough (compared to, say, board games, or, idk, regular books) that your reader won't start expecting the story to be about them.

Martin shuffled off the backpack he'd been carrying--another high-school relic--and piled every one of them inside. The guy at the comic store said 750 flat for the whole lot. Some of these looked real old...could be less than they were worth...definitely less, the more he thought about it. But he was already a week behind on rent. Too late to think about eBay. Comic store guy could pay him that day, if he was still there. Martin left, what, 40 minutes ago? So 40 minutes back?<< this might have happened in a real world scenario, but it's not relevant to the story you're trying to tell. veracity is not all-important. Also, you could basically have started the story here and it would've ended up the same.

drat rain. drat mudslide. drat bills. drat--

Martin realized he was staring at a few pepperings of metal in the muck at his boots. They weren't rocks, too oddly shaped and...familiar? He fished one out of the earthy slime. Tin. It had a little head, lopsided arms, and big clumpy feet melting into a bigger clumpy stand. The little tin staff was made too thin and the end had snapped off at some point. Oh. That's right. He made these.

The books belonged to Chris, originally. He was a good DM. He took the game seriously without forcing anyone else to. This figurine was made for him. It didn't look like much, but it was supposed to be a god-thing, with a beard and a staff. That's all Martin did in high school. He played D&D and he made little figures. see, this just makes him sound boring. but you could make this a meaningful emotional thing easily. why didn't he do normal stuff in high school? can that reason come up elsewhere in the story? There was more than enough tin left over from making the Tinhouse, and it was easy to heat and bend while everyone else was tallying numbers or arguing semantics. Chris was a bland-lookin' guy and he always DM'ed. He didn't have a game character, so Martin was proud of what he had come up with for him. Bland or not, Chris was the only guy in the group who had a girl. Still did! They were married now, with a kid. He seemed happy now. don't tell me about Chris if he isn't a character.

Thunder rattled the shack's ruffled roof and snapped Martin back to reality. He really should get going, but...were there more of his figures in here? This storm was probably going to wash away most of the Tinhouse. They'd all be gone.

Martin set his backpack down and started picking through the sludge like a sandpiper for all the little treasures he'd made.

There was Mark, a dwarf. The baby of the group, they used to pick on him for needing a ride all the time. He was graduating college this year.

This rusty one was Eddie, a mage. He flaked on half their meetings, but he was funny, so they kept inviting him. Graduate school now, engaged.

So does he still hang out with these guys? A good story might be the story of how Martin feels like he's been left behind by them as they grew up.

Martin pawed through the mud for six more minutes, but his own figurine never turned up. Whatever. He could be running out of time, and a one-inch tin ranger smushed together by a high-school dropout wasn't worth anything. He slung his old backpack over his shoulder and schlepped back out through the slop, bracing himself for a long leg-locked trek back through a torrent of muddy water.

"Caw-caw-caw-awk!"

Martin froze. Crows collected shiny things, didn't they? He looked up at the dead elm behind the shack, full of dead nests. There was something dull amidst one little clump of twigs, copper wire, and earth.

The rain was coming down harder now. His muscles ached and his lungs burned. The way down might even be slower than the way up.

He dropped the backpack and swung his leg into the crook of the tree. It pinched his foot, secure but a little painful, and he hoisted himself up to the swaying, soggy nest about ten feet up.
There were bits of wire, glass, and metal laced throughout the melting nest, but all Martin saw was Ranger Thranmoor, leader of the Timberland Warriors. He twirled the tiny hero between his thick fingers.

Hey buddy. It's been eight years.

It wasn't going to pay his bills this month. He might not have an apartment to bring it back to for long. But... and finally we get the emotional heart of the story, 95% of the way through. This isn't a carrot to dangle over your reader's head, it should be present the whole time.

The wave of mud from the mount above him rushed down almost silently, but the force was incredible. It shook the thick elm. It swallowed his backpack. It swept away two crows as five others screamed and took flight. It swelled to six inches below his shaking feet before stopping. He could walk from the tree to the Tinhouse roof on the new ground. So he did, quivering in shock. more excessive irrelevant physical detail.

Martin sat on the roof with Thranmoor until the rain stopped. When his heart finally stopped racing, he tightened his bootlaces and prepared to head home.

This story is suffering from anecdote syndrome. It's like you have this extremely accurate image of a series of things that happened, and are going to describe them to the reader so precisely that there's no room left for doubt. But then you haven't considered what you're trying to communicate. Ask yourself: what is this story about? If the answer is 'a guy gathering some figurines during a monsoon', blah. If the answer is something else, then get rid of the tedious descriptivewords and put that 'something else' into the story, instead of making me peer around the edges for it.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Sitting Here posted:

Due date: Thursday, February 13th at 11:59:59 PM, PST

Sitting Here posted:

Djinn and Flakey, just about 9.533.5 hours remain for you to get the dream police up in my head.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


I have to work tonight and tomorrow, getting this in on time is gonna be a close thing.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


curlingiron posted:

Okay, I think I need a flash rule, since the more I think about it, the more the story I wanted to tell becomes an Amusing Anecdote. Also I apparently work better under constraints, or something.

Your story takes place at/around a dinner table.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


God Over Djinn versus No Longer Flaky DREAMBRAWL

Intellectual Property (1497 words)

The dream sat on Hal’s desk, glittering insolently. Four hours of meticulous copyright searches, cross-referencing every iota of content against GoogleSoft’s intellectual property database, and even SIGMUND was doing a good facsimile of frustration: there was absolutely nothing, as far as Hal could tell, that he could place a claim on. He tossed his Glasses onto his desk.

“What, you lose your streak?” said his cubemate.

“Don’t even ask,” said Hal.

He’d been half a day from beating his record. Two hundred and eighty-six dreams in a row had returned a chime of automatic success from Siggy’s dream-drive. Hal had the happy message memorized: GoogleSoft property automatically identified (p>0.9999). Refer for manual claim arbitration. Then pneumatics whooshed them off to the interns, who pinged their counterparts at Sony-Mars, requesting 82% of profits from this dream, 54% from that.

But now this intransigent dream blinked softly, reflecting off of Hal’s latest Employee of the Week award. Not only did it defy SIGMUND’s auto-characterization, Hal’s manual searches had yielded zero GoogleSoft content. Not a single McDonalds, no Pixar characters, no scenes from any Spielberg movies, no Beatles soundtrack, nothing inspired by SexTube or Super Mario Brothers. Two possible conclusions, both dire: maybe Hal had stumbled upon the very first dream composed entirely of Sony-Mars-inspired content, no GoogleSoft whatsoever. Or, Hal had made his first mistake in eighteen years at the IP office. Either, he realized with dread, would require a trip to middle management.

Sweat trickled from under Hal’s shirtsleeves as Rachida reconfirmed SIGMUND’s calculations. Over her shoulder, he could just make out the error messages: No match, no match, no match. He composed a look of empathetic corporate horror. But when Rachida turned to him, she was grinning ferally. “Do you realize what we’re looking at here, Hal?” she said. “Think: who would only dream about Sony-Mars stuff?”

Hal strained for ideas. His brain felt whitewashed, the satisfying back-and-forth patter with cheerful SIGMUND winking away in the sunlight. “Somebody who lives in the Sony-Mars compound?” he offered.

“Dream a little bigger, Hal. Even they go out to see a movie once in a while. No,” said Rachida, voice lowering, “what we’re looking at here is something more important. This is obviously a Sony-Mars experiment, and they were sloppy enough to let it end up in our dreamcatchers. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Suddenly, Hal no longer felt like a worm on a rainy sidewalk.

“Hal, I’m putting you in charge of this. You’ve always done good, clean work. Figure out exactly what Sony-Mars content is in there. And get a lead on the dreamer, too. Put together a report, and we’ll take it upstairs tomorrow morning.”

The prospect of doing a good job made Hal shiver with delight. There was just enough space on his cubicle wall for another award. He might even win them the inter-departmental pizza-party contest.

His cubemate cursed him amicably when she heard the news. She hoped the dream turned out extra-porny, she told him. “That’s statistically unlikely,” he said. “Since the SexTube merger, I’ve hardly seen more than -”

“Stop pontificating,” she said. “Go work on your special project, you big man.”

Three hours later, Hal’s eyes focused and defocused as Siggy thrummed out yet another row of unsatisfying results: No match identified for Sony-Mars property (p<0.025). Sony-Mars liked to obfuscate their feature-sets: hunting down their property in a dream was like doing Hal’s day job blindfolded and backwards. He sighed, and requested a full automated analysis.

475 minutes remaining, read the projector. Then the timer twitched slightly and ticked over: 478 minutes remaining. Hal gazed glazedly at the report’s header: Complete Analysis of Dream #A46C0, Dreamer identity: ___________.

Well, he could start with that. Identities of dreamers were nominally anonymous, at least until the dream was ported and packaged for sale, but in practice they were forfeit: anybody who’d discussed last night’s dream on GoogleSoft Plus had already been cross-referenced, name, voice-print, and all. Siggy Gibbs-sampled furiously, causing a soothing vibrating sensation in Hal’s temples. As the day-shift interns paraded out of the building like so many ducklings, Hal found himself dozing off.

Siggy’s chipper pinging startled him awake, blinking. Hal’s name and corporate identity signifier flashed on the screen: Harold Jonathan “Hal” Mullins-Kilpatrick, 0xB668AD4.

For ten seconds doze-addled Hal failed, open-jawed, to internalize. “What?” he said to the dark and empty cubicle bank. “It wasn’t my dream, Siggy, don’t play weird pranks.” He thumped himself on the side of the head, wondering what being hacked by Sony-Mars felt like.

He had SIGMUND rerun the dreamer-identification algorithms. Twice. Then anger set in. Hal Googled the main line for Sony-Mars’s corporate office, tapped in the number, erased it, tapped it in again, and hung up as soon as the line buzzclicked into action. It couldn’t have been him. He hadn’t even had a dream since college. If he could just find one fingerprint of GoogleSoft or Sony-Mars -- then something dinged.

Siggy was offering results he’d been background-processing. “Okay, let’s see what they managed to get into my head,” said Hal, feeling bile slide up his esophagus.

No whole or partial Sony-Mars corporate property detected (p < 0.0008). Recommending exclusive proprietary claim.

Hal had a sudden vision: reaching into his ear with a dental pick, yanking out the offensive dream, and presenting it to Rachida, who’d reward him with a private parking space.

Viewing someone else’s dream prior to porting meant risking a nasty neuronal-incompatibility fever. But if the dream was actually his own, he realized, what risk was there? Hal grabbed an immersion helmet, overrode, for the first time, Siggy’s complaints about signature approval, and took a deep breath.

When he opened his eyes, he was shivering on a wild moor. Gorse and heather grabbed at his pants-cuffs. Grouse chattered in the distance. I’ve never seen anything like this, Hal thought, although it does look a bit like a Peter Jackson flick - and he stretched out a shaking hand, and touched the horizon.

In all directions he was bounded at arm’s-length: the distant trees, the horizon, the sky, as if they were projected to a screen three feet from his face. Hal whimpered. He poked a patch of sky with one finger, and then leaned on it, and pushed - and broke through with a crunch, collapsing to his knees on a moor very much like the one he’d left, but sunnier, and with more room to breathe.

He was holding, he realized, a bundle of planks. He felt their weight in his arms, rough and warm. And when he looked at his feet they were bare, and he was standing, sinking into soft ground, in the center of a tamped-dirt square. And Hal heaved the planks to the ground, and began to build.

Lats and deltoids unfurled from years of aggressive ergonomicity. The fog burned away and Hal began to sweat. He looked at his chest, and his PlastiFiber dress shirt was gone. He looked at his hands and they were gloveless and calloused. The planks stayed nailless in place, held by faith. Hal clambered upwards, staying astride the swaying tower that rose from his hands. It towered as he built beneath him upwards and dizzyingly upwards, until the brown grassblades became a carpet became a solid wave of color a thousand feet below, until the sun became a mirror, a billion radiant LED pinpoints.

And Hal reached out a hand and created. He painted the sky in a salmon-and-tangerine sunset unlike anything he had seen in a film, and he spattered the ground with villages like nothing from a Sony-Mars commercial, with wells filled with icewater he’d never tasted in a GoogleSoft franchisee restaurant, and he constructed laughing children he had never seen in sitcoms, and he gave them homes and made them love and hate and fight and weep and sing. And oh, that singing. Oh, those songs that Hal had never heard before. He stood atop his tower and stretched out his arms and conducted a chorus of a thousand improvisations.

And he woke up gasping on the manicured carpet (proprietary nylon-polypropylene blend) next to his Aeron desk chair (longstanding GoogleSoft subsidiary). He clutched the immersion helmet to his chest like a child, not knowing when it had fallen off. He lay under the half-strength nighttime fluorescents, listening to the burble of night-shift interns downstairs.

“Siggy?” he said.

Ready for prompt, responded SIGMUND, who suddenly sounded very much like a computer going through machine-learning routines. Somewhere, a cursor blinked.

“Nevermind,” said Hal. “Log out.”

Hal walked out into a glorious Tuesday-morning sunrise, clutching his Employee of the Week placard under an armpit. He dropped it into a trash compactor under the industrial dream-catchers, where it made a satisfying glass-crunch. Maybe, he thought, he’d buy a notebook. Could you still buy notebooks these days, or was that just something he’d seen in movies?

Regardless, Hal thought, he’d like to write down that dream.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Nikaer Drekin posted:

Aaaghh I guess I'll be in for this one. A flash rule would be welcome, too!

Flash rule: Your story centers on something that hasn't happened yet.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


With half an hour to go, we're looking at a new Thunderdome record for entries (currently at 50, not counting Muffin). Get yo name in now, and don't flake out.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Will Benny the Snake win us over with the heartwarming tale of 'what I was thinking when I called in hungover to work'? Will his faithful supporters from E/N put their money where their mouths are? Will a Toxx clause be enough to make Leper Colon stop talking and write a god drat story? Will Baudolino put a comma inside some quotation marks? Find out next time, on As the Dome Turns.

Signups are closed. Good luck, combatants. You'll need it. See you Sunday at 10pm, the Lord's own time zone (PST).

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at Feb 15, 2014 around 19:24

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God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards



Be still, my heart

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