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Cartridgeblowers
Jan 3, 2006

Super Mario Bros 3


Hi, I'm trying to keep with my New Year's Resolution to write more so I want to participate in Thunderdome. I'm in with the 1900s.

Cartridgeblowers fucked around with this message at 02:55 on Feb 1, 2014

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Cartridgeblowers
Jan 3, 2006

Super Mario Bros 3


A Town Called Freedom 1900s (1905 specifically), 937 words

Let me tell you about Freedom, Mississippi. There ain’t one person here who stepped out of this town in forty years. Forty years the three families that run the houses have sat upon on their porches and for forty years they lied to us. I know this because my pappy taught me to read. Ain’t much to read around here, sure, but at least I know.

No stars tonight. It’s perfect. I reach for something that can hold me.

It was something like five years ago now that the salesman came to town. The McGhees and the Robinsons and the Pelletiers were real suspicious of the man. He had a fancy carriage and two horses of his own that he drove into town with. The salesman had a thick mustache and a hat almost as tall as he was. He told the men of the families that he wanted to sell them a wonderful new device. It would make cleaning so much easier: a motorized dirt sucking machine that would turn an hour long chore into a few moments of time.

Mr. Pelletier was the first to speak up, with his French accent pouring out of his slimy mouth like gumbo. He told the man they had workers to clean the houses and they didn’t need to buy no fancy pants motorized machine from England. Mr. McGhee was a bit nicer, asking the old fellow to stay the night as they considered his offer. I poured them tea and the salesman’s glance met my own.

I pull myself up. Ground’s below me now. Foot seems to fit right in between the wood.

That night as the salesman slept in his little room next to Mr. Robinson’s three youngsters, I found myself unable to sleep. I was curious, you see. It was another thing that set me apart from my peers in the town. I wanted to see the metal dirt sucking machine myself, especially since it was me who had to clean their filthy floors most times. Mr. McGhee’s oldest was on watch that night and he was always easiest to sneak by.

Near the stables I found the salesman’s carriage. On the side was painted in big, gold letters: “MARVIN’S MARVELOUS MECHANICAL MAINTENANCE.” Seems he was a travelling salesman, but I’d only heard about them from my pappy. In my twenty years in Freedom I ain’t never seen a traveler of any kind come into town. I wanted to know more, so I did what came natural: I opened the door.

Tip of the moon’s peeking out from behind the magnolias. I can almost peer over the side now. Didn’t know there was a stream out here. Probably good fish inside.

I searched inside the carriage and found a box in the back full of various metal parts: hoses and wires and even some tiny wheels. Nothing I recognized, anyway. In the front were a smattering of papers – they were a light golden color and had dark printed text on them. In the middle of a few of the paper strips were photographs, another thing I’d only really heard about. On a few of the papers in big letters was written “The Daily Clarion-Ledger.”

I read through the papers as if a man possessed. Some of the papers talked about a word I’d never heard but when I read it I couldn’t help but say it aloud.

“Freedman.”

It almost sounded like the name of our city, but it was more personal. It felt good to say. I kept reading and hours passed me by. As I heard the first rooster crow, I stuffed as many of the papers as I could in my overalls and snuck back to bed.

Part of my hand reaches out past the top of my climb and for the first time I feel the air of another world. I’m halfway there.

Later that day the masters gave us three bags to bury in the garden. One of the bags had a protrusion not unlike a top hat. A few of us knew what it was, but what could we do? Disobey out masters? It was the first time I’d ever thought of such a thing. A few of the others chopped up and burned the wood from the stables. The metal parts were buried, too. The horses were fed to us, uncooked.

Each night from then on I read as much of the papers as I could, in secret of course. New words and phrases filled my head: “Freedmen.” “Emancipation.” “Civil War.” Apparently that had ended almost twenty years before I was born. The President had died. Why didn’t they tell us these things? As I absorbed more information, I started forming more questions. This kept up until finally, tragically, I realized I knew the answers.

I’m almost over the fence when I hear a whispered shout. I look to see dear Rose, bless her heart, who breaks her back every day for the masters’ ungrateful brats. She looks at me with longing eyes.

“Alouishis,” she calls to me, “you’ll come back for us, right? You promise?” I look down at her weathered face. I’m above her but still the same.

“With a goddamned army if I have to,” I reply.

When my feet hit the ground, I’m free. For the first time in forty years a man from Freedom is free. I cross the stream and walk the countless miles towards civilization. When I come back, I swear in my bones that none of my people will be lied to again. At long last, Freedom will have some truth.

Cartridgeblowers
Jan 3, 2006

Super Mario Bros 3


In with Oxygen.

Cartridgeblowers
Jan 3, 2006

Super Mario Bros 3


Room to Breathe Element: Oxygen, 1132 words

“So, you think I should talk to her?” Emmett asked, slumping into his chair. He glanced across the room to Esther, who was vacantly staring into a screen. Her short brown hair was bunned up underneath her hat, allowing Emmett to fully take in the profile of the girl he had longed after for months now.

“What better time than the present?” asked Chet, shoving his friend in the shoulder. Emmett winced – he was weak and bruised easily. He let out a small breath as his chair spun around with the shove. “Listen, pal, I’m just going to be honest with you: say something to her or stop whining about it! I, for one, am a bit tired of it.”

Emmett sighed. “But won’t it make things awkward?” he asked. “What if she says no? What if she says yes and I’m just boring? Or a wet blanket? What if she just doesn’t like me at all?”

“If every man deliberated so much before talking to a lady we’d be a much less populous planet, rest assured.” Chet removed his hat, rolled it up in his massive hands, and slapped Emmett on the back.

“Go get ‘er, tiger.”

Emmett stood but he felt light-headed. He held on to a bar above him as he walked over toward where Esther was sitting, still lost in the blinking lights and subtle beeps emanating from the panel in front of her. Emmett cleared his throat and then, after an awkward silence, said Esther’s name aloud.

“Oh, hey Emmett,” she smiled. Her smile was soft and subdued, but he could see his reflection in her glittering teeth. How did she keep them so white, he wondered? She stared at him and he thought he might drown in her ocean eyes. He shuffled his feet from side to side and then stopped, placing his hands in his pockets. He turned his face away from her hypnosis.

“Do you want to-” he stammered, words falling out like water dripping through a sieve, “do you want to maybe have- have lunch together? Today, I mean.” Suddenly the sieve broke the water poured in like a dam had been keeping the ocean in check: “Imeanwedon’thavetodoittodaybutImeanifyouwanttoandImeanifyoudon’tthat’sokaytooImeanyoucantakesometimeandthinkaboutitunlessyoualreadyknow-“

Esther giggled and shushed him. “Sure, I could eat. I’m off duty in an hour. Sound good?” Emmett took a second to fully process her response, perhaps sucking the loose words back in to his now-empty brain. His face lit up and he nodded wildly.

“An hour,” he gasped.

After fifty-eight minutes of frenzied pacing, stopped only by what Emmett could only describe as a moment where the reality of the situation had hit him and turned the world upside down, Emmett grabbed his lunch card and began walking toward the cafeteria.

Esther was already there when Emmett arrived and he plopped his tray down in front of hers. The cafeteria was empty, which was not a common occurrence. He kicked his feet in the small layer of water on the floor. Emmett chalked up another win for fate. As he twirled his fork around the spaghetti, Emmett made an attempt at small talk.

“So,” he said, fear overcoming his confidence once more, “what do you, er, do here?”

“Radar, mostly,” she replied, wiping sauce from her chin with a wet nap. “Though sometimes they’ve got me on comms. I’m not super-interested in that kind of stuff. What’d you do before, Emmett?”

“Before?” he echoed. His socks seemed drenched with sweat.

“Yeah, before they put you down here. What’d you do?”

“Well, I was a dentist,” he said proudly, moments before realizing that was the lamest thing he could’ve said. In his mind he scolded himself, thinking he should have said racecar driver instead.

“And you gave up being a dentist for this?” She took a swig of milk.

“It’s not as exciting as it sounds,” he replied. Emmett’s face lit up. He’d made a joke! She even giggled a bit. Was he actually charming? No one had ever described Emmett as charming, or even really funny, but he was very glad that she might think he was.

“No,” she stifled her giggle under bread and the echoes of screams, “I meant that it probably paid a lot. Most of us signed up for this because we needed the money. So if not that, then why?”

“I dunno, seemed fun.” Emmett thought for a moment on his words and then realized he never did come to a conclusion as to why he’d signed up. It was fate that brought him here.

“Oh yeah, big fun,” Esther laughed again. When she laughed her autumn hair curled a bit. Emmett tried not to get distracted counting the curls but he couldn’t help it. After ten seconds of silence, words fired forth like a torpedo. He shifted in his wet chair and took a bite of his meal.

“What’d you do before?” he asked, tomato sauce flying from his mouth onto the table.

“Just college, mostly,” she sighed. “I wanted to be a lot of things. I- I don’t dream much anymore.” She reached her hand across the table and intertwined her fingers with Emmett’s. Her glossy fingernails sparkled in the swirling red lights. Their eyes met. “Chet told me about you, a long time ago. I’ve been hoping you’d ask me out for a while now.”

Emmett smiled and was about to say something when Chet burst into the room. He sloshed through the waist-high water and slammed his fists down on the aluminum table.

“Esther,” he growled, “this is your fault!”

“Her fault?!” Emmett exclaimed, standing up with a splash. “Our date’s going so well, pal. Why’re you ruining this?” Emmett looked down at the water is it untucked his shirt. “What’d you say you did again, Esther?”

“Radar,” she smiled, finishing her milk and dropping it into the drink.

“If you hadn’t been on this date. If someone had been on the radar,” Chet moaned. “Now we’re done for. We’re sunk, quite literally.”

There was a flush silence as the water reached their shoulders. Chet rolled his eyes and dove his head under the water, perhaps hoping to die in a room where he wasn’t absolutely furious at everyone inside. Emmett looked up at Esther.

“So, not a boring first date,” he smiled. Shards of torpedo floated into the cafeteria and up between them. She leaned forward and rested her head on some metal.

“I’ve had worse,” she laughed. “Everyone’ll be gone soon, and what about us?” Emmett was finally coming to the realization that she was probably really terrible at her job. She sighed again, the water enveloping her chin. They could feel the air thinning.

“We’ll always have the bottom of the ocean,” Emmett smiled.

They embraced as the submarine fell silent.

Cartridgeblowers
Jan 3, 2006

Super Mario Bros 3


In.

Cartridgeblowers
Jan 3, 2006

Super Mario Bros 3


Last Date Word Count: 1266

By the end of the night, as we stood in the rain, I finally realized how I could put my feelings into words. We moved closer to one another and as my lips parted I realized I was etching poetry into stone.

A week before, I had been contacted by a girl on OKCupid. I had just had a date from the site not too long before that and it had been pretty terrible, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try again. Internet dating just didn’t seem to be for me. That said, she contacted me so I thought it polite to reply back. We chatted off and on for a while before I finally relented and asked if she wanted to meet up. She did.

Looking over an internet dating profile is a lot like comparison shopping for people: It’s pretty loving weird. Nevertheless, I’d taken the time to tirelessly scour her profile so I was sure that I knew what I was getting into. While we didn’t share a lot of common interests, I quickly scolded myself for daring to be so picky, despite the OKCupid test giving us a mere “C” rating. She asked what I wanted to do.

For some reason dinner and a movie is a dating cliché. I, being inexperienced as I was, thought that was just “Go-to date #1.” Of course, those of us with slightly more experience know you never go to a movie on the first date – you need communication to begin before you can be comfortable in each other’s silence. I stupidly gave her a list of movies that were out that I wanted to see and asked which she was interested in. She didn’t pick the romantic comedy. She didn’t pick the crappy action movie.

She picked Inglourious Basterds.

I was okay with this. I really wanted to see that movie. I resolved to pick her up at 6:30 for an 8:00 show and it was officially a date. It was a cool Sunday afternoon when I pulled up to her house. I decided that perhaps it was best if we got slightly more acquainted before going out, so we’ve got time to talk. She invited me in: she was blonde and a little plump, but still very cute. About a foot shorter than me. At least her pictures weren’t fakes. Her name was Kirstea, pronounced like “Kirstie” but spelled like her mom had never left Georgia before.

Her house was a nice, old brick manor. She revealed that she was actually house sitting for a friend, but he was at work. I mentioned that the house was within walking distance of a pretty nice area with lots to do, so she could be doing worse. She recoiled at that notion.

“I could never walk there,” she replied. “Definitely not at night.”

“Yeah?” I said. “Not a lot of streetlights, I guess.”

“Plus there’s a lot of black people in the neighborhood, so…”

I froze as she walked into the bathroom to fix her hair. The words echoed in my brain. Had she really just said that? Maybe I misheard her. No one would actually just come right out and say that, right? I took note of the situation. Sure, I’m white. She’s white. We’re in the South. The thoughts flowed out of my head as she returned and I lost myself in conversation again. As she came out, she was accompanied by a very large Great Dane who jumped onto me and began sniffing and licking me pretty fast.

Now the date was getting somewhere.

“He seems pretty friendly,” I said, playing with the pup.

“Yeah, he’s friendly to most people, but he barks at black people a lot.” She smiled, also playing with the dog. “I wish my dog back home only barked at black people.”

I hadn’t been hearing things. Oh God, I hadn’t. I wasn’t really sure what protocol was. Maybe she was making a joke, I tried to rationalize. Sure, a really bad one with company she couldn’t possibly know well enough to gauge whether or not they’d be offended by it, but a joke nonetheless. She was finally ready to go and by God so was I.

The drive to the theater was rather uneventful. I did my best to make entertaining conversation with someone I wasn’t sure I wanted to be around anymore. I kept making excuses, though. I wanted the date to be a success. Kirstea had other plans.

We settled into our seats, the theater itself mostly empty save for a few scattered groups. If you’ve never seen the film I don’t want to spoil too much, but it’s a Tarantino film so some heavy violence was to be expected. The acts on screen made Kirstea flinch and complain – as if she had no idea what movie she had chosen. However, when Shosanna appeared the mood changed quickly.

In the film, the character of Shosanna owns a movie house in Paris and is secretly plotting against the Nazis coming to visit her theater. The projectionist, Marcel, is her co-conspirator and also her secret lover.

Marcel is also black.

When Shosanna and Marcel kissed, it seemed something had ruptured within Kirstea. She began to look physically ill. She made sounds as if she were retching and heaving. The on-screen kiss of an interracial couple so disgusted her that she needed to make it clear to me and everyone else around us that she was, in fact, not happy with it. For some reason, she was okay with being very public with her disdain for such a relationship.

The rest of the movie was a blur. I don’t remember anything else from my experience in the theater (I would later watch the film at home – I loved it). When we exited, a downpour had begun outside. A thunderstorm that matched the anger I had at the person standing next to me. I couldn’t just leave, though – I was her ride.

I drove her home in silence, the thunder our only conversation piece. I played it off like I needed to concentrate on the road. We arrived outside her house and she got out of the car. I wasn’t sure what to do. I remember the exact thought in my head: “How do I end this without being openly hostile?” I exited my car and stood with her in the rain.

“We should do this again sometime,” she said, no hint of irony in her voice. “Maybe next time we could do a different type of movie.”

“Ha, sure,” I replied. I wanted to scream “you picked the movie!” I kept it inside.

She stepped closer to me. I was frozen, my thoughts running now. Why is she stepping closer to me? She can’t possibly want to kiss me. I don’t want her to kiss me. I moved closer, as if by instinct, and suddenly my arms shot out.

A hug. Three pats. Then the last thing I’d ever say to her, etched in both our memories forever.

“You’re a… good person,” I lied. “Goodnight!”

I drove away. When she texted me later about my half-hearted hug, I couldn’t bring myself to reply. I didn’t try online dating again. I realized it was just too dangerous. You might meet a rapist or a criminal or, like me, you just might meet a racist.

My best friend Joe, a black man, and his wife, a white woman, were sad. They were hoping I’d bring Kirstea by for lunch. I think they wanted to see her throw it up.

Cartridgeblowers
Jan 3, 2006

Super Mario Bros 3


In

Cartridgeblowers
Jan 3, 2006

Super Mario Bros 3


Spaceman and Robot, 744 Words, based on Set 6807: Space Scooter With Robot
Flash Rule: "There is darkness in the deep. Interpret and incorporate."


The communications array was fried, that much was sure. Chuck dug his boots into the caked sand and dropped to one knee next to his ride. His gloves were chubby and holding the screwdriver felt like holding a pin surrounded by a bag of marshmallows.

“Anything wrong, Chuck?” asked Rod, sidling up next to his partner. “What happened here? Hit by a rock again?”

“Yeah,” Chuck sighed. “You wanna try this? I can barely hold onto the danged thing.”

“Sure thing, Chuck!”

Chuck sat in the sand, his butt refusing to sink lower to the ground. He gripped onto the ground beneath him as he watched Rod quickly whirl the screwdriver into position and remove the scooter’s faceplate. Rod seemed to almost hum happily as he inspected the innards of the scooter and, finally, turned back to his friend.

“This one’s a no go, Chuck,” Rod sighed. “Sorry, pal.”

Chuck nodded his head, his yellow helmet rocking back and forth on its attachments. He slumped against the scooter. Rod sped next to him and leaned against him. Chuck felt heavy and weightless at the same time.

“They might still send someone,” Rod beeped. “You never know!”

“They won’t, actually. Against protocol. It’s far too dangerous to try and recover someone out here. It’s okay, though. We’re trained for this and I’m a cautionary tale, you know? When I run out of air – or maybe I’ll just take my helmet off-“

“Chuck, no.”

“When I finally die, they’ll know not to try again. It was a failure! We’re just not ready to live here yet.” Chuck looked over a nearby dune and watched the waning Earth rise over it. He could make out Australia and Asia and even a little bit of Africa. Chuck wept.

“Man, it’s beautiful,” said Chuck, closing his eyes as if to shield them from what might be his final glimpse. Chuck opened his eyes again. “You know, even before wanting to travel, I wanted to do this, you know? I did my due diligence. I knew what space was like. So did the people who designed this mission - they knew too. We knew what to expect: the deepest darkness and harsh environs. Enough to kill just about anybody.”

Chuck spread his arms and held them high in the air, despairing to the nothingness that surrounded them. “Hooray! I’m anybody!”

The astronaut moved his fingers to the buttons on the side of his helmet and prepared to press down, to let space take him. It would be quicker than just running out of air. Less painful, he hoped. It was a foregone conclusion, so why delay?

“Don’t.”

Rod placed his clawed hand in Chuck’s. Servos and motors were enveloped by silence, but Chuck could still hear Rod’s voice pleading, begging. Rod was a service robot, sent to be of assistant to any spaceman who left on his lonesome. Rod was his, built to help him in any situation. Chuck knew he couldn’t be helped.

“They’re not coming for me, either,” said Rod. His voice came through the speakers more monotone than ever – the fake intonations meant to simulate happiness and chipperness were fading. “Chuck, you’re going to die out here and, eventually, I will too.” Chuck looked down at Rod. The robot stared at the moon’s surface.

“I’m solar powered, though. It’ll be maybe months – years – before my joints harden from uselessness. It’ll be a long time before I’m allowed to stop. Chuck, I’m your assistant, but please. You’re my friend.

“Stay with me.”

Chuck froze. He held Rod’s metal hand in his and it felt just like the screwdriver in that he couldn’t really feel much of anything. Rod could feel, though. Rod had been there for him the first two times the scooter had broken down and Rod had been there ever since the mission had started, a year and a half ago. The little robot had called him his friend. Chuck realize he wasn’t wrong. He picked up Rod and set him on his lap.

“Okay,” he said, “I’ll stay.”

So Chuck stayed. On the surface of the moon a machine and his best friend laid down and died together. Rod’s batteries finally gave out after a few years, but in that time he never moved – not once. There was no reason to. There is still darkness in the deep, for certain, but there is also friendship, preserved forever next to all the stars in the sky.

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Cartridgeblowers
Jan 3, 2006

Super Mario Bros 3


True Story 23 Words

Dad died suddenly on my sixteenth birthday. The PlayStation RPG Maker was still the worst gift I got that year. I'm still mourning.

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