I can feel it coming in the air tonight.
|# ¿ May 31, 2014 05:30|
|# ¿ Dec 2, 2022 16:03|
Way too easy: Flash Rule The wisest thing anyone ever said to you.
I wrote some poo poo about whales which you can read in the TD Archives here.
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 03:52 on Jul 1, 2014
|# ¿ Jun 2, 2014 05:02|
At St. Mary's Priory and Cathedral
“And here we have it, Ned: St. Mary's Priory and Cathedral, dedicated by Edsi, Archbishop of Canterbury, to God, the Virgin Mary, St Peter, St Osburg and All Saints.”
“Could they have given it a longer loving name?”
“It was right past here Lady Godiva rode stark nude, you know, up Priory Row then right down Trinity Street. Wouldn’t see that in this day and age. Gal was bare as the day she was born, but they say the people of Coventry loved her so much they shuttered their windows outta respect.”
“The people of Coventry were fuckin’ softbrains.”
“That Lord she was wed to, he musta loved her somethin’ awful, lowering all them taxes just on account of she was brazen enough to ride bare-assed through town. Or maybe he just got off on it?”
“Maybe she promised him somethin’ real swell after? She musta had legs to kill, ridin’ around bareback like that. Like Famke-Janssen-crushin’-a-man-to-death thighs.”
“Musta been a special Lady, even havin’ the wits to come up with that. Sometimes Lucy offers to blow me on my birthday, but that’s about it.”
“A bug’s got more brains in its wigglers than Lucy’s got in her whole head, Ned. She thought Coventry was a great place for a holiday, and the most exciting thing we’ve stumbled across is a half-crumbled poo poo old monastery that a naked lady might have wandered past once.”
“She was on a horse, though, that’s something.”
“Yeah, that’s something all right.”
“It’s not fair, Staz. They just don’t make girls like that anymore. Or maybe it’s me. What I wouldn’t give to be the sort of man that some goddess with Famke Janssen ribcage-crushing Bond Villainess thighs could just wrap her legs around and--”
|# ¿ Jun 2, 2014 08:37|
This looks interesting.
|# ¿ Jun 3, 2014 04:13|
So I haven't had internet at my house since NZ's Friday night... and I'm a genius who only saved my story in Google Docs...
I'm totally gonna finish it and post it from work, but it'll be great to see how this goes with only like four hours to revise.
|# ¿ Jun 8, 2014 20:26|
What the Young Lady Learned
Deep in the Wickenmarsh, which skirts the peaceful waters of Mendelbrund Sound, under the wise governance of the Realm, the young Lady Embrielle Ambergris ground the remnants of a fat joint out on a rock.
“I hate him,” she said to the young Magistrix Jidya Annerswift, who sat beside her.
Jidya carved some slices off the gnarled root of a nearby tree, then rolled another smoke. The air around both girls was hazy, and Embrielle figured she’d never get the stink out of her dress. Not that she gave a poo poo.
“I know,” Jidya said, commiserating. She held her palm flat, then sketched a quick symbol across her skin with the tip of her blunt. Fire sparked to life from her fingers and she lit up.
“He says you’re a bad influence.”
Jidya snorted. “You were like this long before you met me, Bri. I’m just a convenient scapegoat.”
They smoked in silence for a while, trading puffs on the joint ‘til it was a smouldering roach. Overhead, fingers of spidery moss cast dappled shadows over their hiding place. Many of the stones around them bore arcane glyphs, evidence of Embrielle’s cautious magickal exploration.
“Does your dad know you’ve manifested yet?” Jidya spoke up after a while.
“Nah. Last thing he needs is to know that. He’d find a way to commandeer me for his stupid war.”
“It isn’t all bad, being a battlemage. You learn how to do some pretty awesome stuff. I can light just about anything on fire. And I can turn piss into whisky.”
Embrielle groaned. “Doesn’t sound all bad, but I hear enough about the loving war as it is. Only good thing about it is that as long as the King needs my father, I get to live in your bigass castle.”
“I like having you in my bigass castle.”
They shared a private smile, eyes red-rimmed, then dissolved into snickering.
“... I don’t drink it.”
“What?” Embrielle blinked her big, foggy blue eyes. That was a little far back in the conversation for her mind to process. Jheyroot smelled awful, but it was just what the apothecary ordered to help one forget one’s problems. Problem was the Lady Ambergris found she forgot more than just her problems when she smoked the stuff.
“The whisky. I mean, even if it’s whisky now, I know it used to be piss.”
Though that was a somewhat incongruous moment to be overwhelmed by emotion, Embrielle felt her throat go tight. It wasn’t fair, her father separating them. She wasn’t sure if he had his head further up his spellbooks or his rear end.
Fortunately, the Grand Magister of House Ambergris was so preoccupied with his wargames that he barely saw his daughter. That heated argument wherein he stated in no uncertain terms that she was to cease all contact with his delinquent pupil, the Magistrix? May as well have never happened, in Embrielle’s eyes. He could start preventing her from doing things by being around to prevent her from doing things.
“How are your sketches coming?” Jidya’s change of subject was skillful, and Bri was grateful for that.
“Well enough,” she said. “I think I’ve got the characters right for transmute metal, control metal, attract metal, and repel metal. Haven’t practiced much. I was afraid if I spent too much time in the test chambers Dad would notice.”
“We can practice here, if you like. He’s busy with the Admiral for the rest of the afternoon.”
Embrielle’s face lit up like a sunrise over the bleak peaks of the Grimfarrow Mountains.
“You don’t mind?”
“Of course not.”
Jidya passed the charcoal to her friend and they began.
The dark harbour was full of creaking, groaning noise, yet as far as Bri could tell the ships were unoccupied. There were four of them, three schooners and a grand frigate from the Mainland, sent by the Realm for her father’s training manoeuvres. He hadn’t been home yet; no doubt he was off swanning around with the Admiral.
She twirled the stick of charcoal in her hand as she crept up the ramp, stealing aboard His Brilliance Eternal. Her boots made nary a sound.
There was something surreal and unnatural about ships. She hated them. The slight rolling tilt of the deck beneath her feet, the heavy masts like manmade trees, the canopies of sails like tethered ghosts. Some might call her a landlubber, but that was fine by her.
These monstrosities dwarfed the oarships of the Sound’s local navy, and they had mainlander technology to boot: six tidy, squat-barreled cannons each. And not the long gun variety the locals used. These were smoothbore carronades. Powerful and expensive.
She let out a disgusted “ugh” to herself. I’ve heard him ramble about this poo poo so much that I’ve memorised it. Gods.
Crouching low, she crossed the deck to the closest of the cannons.
Am I really going to do this? She fingered the charcoal and caressed the cool cast iron of the barrel. The plan was simple: a couple of glyphs on each of the cannons and when fired, she’d control their ammunition, causing the cannonballs to plop harmlessly into the water. Harmless but endlessly embarrassing.
She peeked over one slim shoulder at the brooding bulk of Glimmerloft Castle, its stained glass windows like many watchful eyes. The eyes seemed focused elsewhere tonight, because no one was coming her way.
Her silent sabotage concluded without incident. Embrielle charmed each of the cannons with quick strokes of her charcoal and coaxing whispers. When she touched the iron, it warmed beneath her hand, eager to obey her, but she murmured, “Not yet.”
The annual defensive manoeuvre display by the Magisters of Glimmerloft drew crowds from far and wide. Embrielle lounged atop the ramparts, contempt twisting in her stomach. Her father spun this great magickal circle-jerk as a celebration of his students’ craft, but Bri knew the truth. Aside from being a presentation that glorified his personal genius, her father loved the manoeuvres because they perpetuated the culture of fear he so desperately thrived on.
Those people below her, they weren’t there to watch the show. They wanted to feel protected. They wanted to be oohed and aahed for comfort’s sake. The Realm would of course oblige that. And her father would don his robes and bluster down by the docks until the public’s fragile hearts were satisfied.
As these thoughts ran through her head, Embrielle realised she had learned more than simply magick in her secret sessions with Jidya and the way her father subsequently forced them apart. She’d learned disdain.
The manoeuvres did not go as planned for victim or saboteur.
The Sound’s oarships, laden with battlemages, fanned out through the harbour. The air about them twinkled as the mages raised their wards. Bri was too high up to hear the announcements from her perch along the parapets, but she could imagine it, could hear her father’s pontification in her mind’s ear.
The Realm’s schooners approached the oarships from further out, drawing closer and closer until they were parallel to the enchanted vessels. Bri saw the flash, the smoke, and the sparkle before the boom of the cannons reached her ears.
She balled a fist and willed the cannonballs toward her. The invisible threads of magick that bound her to the iron faltered. Something in the metal resisted her call. No matter how hard she pulled, the metal felt heavy and reluctant.
Magickal hell broke loose all over the flotilla.
Propelled by her spell, cannonballs rocketed from their barrels with supernatural speed and force. The ammunition whipped through the air, forcefully aimless, each ball several pounds of pinging iron that didn’t slow or stop no matter how many collisions it encountered. They bounced and ricocheted off the oarships’ defensive wards, then ravaged their own ships like a swarm of angry bees.
Embrielle flapped her arms, gesticulated wildly, and it did nothing.
The cannonballs swooped and dove, more osprey than bee now, and they peppered the decks of the Realm’s vessels with holes. One snapped a mast, then another plowed a hole straight through the chest of an unfortunate bosun. The ships’ crews scrambled for shelter, any shelter, and she could just barely hear the panicked screeches of spectators on the shore.
Eventually, one of her father’s battlemages dispelled the cannons. Their ammunition plunked harmlessly into the sea.
The young Lady Embrielle Ambergris had learned in her magickal studies with the Magistrix Jidya Annerswift that the glyphs for control metal and repel metal are very similar. A shame she didn’t learn not to study while high on jheyroot until it was a bit too late.
|# ¿ Jun 9, 2014 01:04|
Oh man, I hosed up my time zones. I could have had like two extra hours!
|# ¿ Jun 9, 2014 03:07|
Unfortunately due to wonky internet for most of this week and not knowing my schedule for the next few days, I'm out this week. But drat this was a good prompt.
|# ¿ Jun 14, 2014 02:33|
The bedroom’s striped wallpaper has a tendency to absorb the scent of what it witnesses. The stink leaks out slowly for days after, like a memory. Speckled sweat stains decorate the bedclothes on the mattress, fibres heavy with the filth of shed skin cells and secretions.
The windows face northward, which means they never catch any sunlight, they just blankly regard the stretch of next door’s big brick wall. In this neighbourhood, the lack of bars across the glass is either naïve or an invitation.
The door is heavy and it locks from the outside. At least there are curtains.
|# ¿ Jun 17, 2014 03:24|
What will it be?
In the Name of Love?
In the Air Tonight?
In a Big Country?
In My Life?
Either way, I'm In the Mood.
|# ¿ Jun 18, 2014 00:15|
You can read 'Lizard' on the Week 99 Thunderdome Archives here! Use the username/password provided in the OP.
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 03:50 on Jul 1, 2014
|# ¿ Jun 23, 2014 03:26|
Thunderdome XCIX: COME TO YOUR SENSES!
Judges: A. Blowout, Djeser, curlingiron
There's more to setting a scene than just what it looks like, and people who aren't poo poo writers are already aware of that.
The established cultural wisdom is that human beings have five senses, a credit that goes all the way back to Aristotle. Modern scientists agree there are more than five--some say nine, some say up to 21!--but this is Thunderdome, not Sciencedome, so we're going with the five-sense model.
This week, I want stories with sensory depth. I want to smell the bloat off that carcass. I want to hear the disappointment in your protagonist's voice when his crush tells him she's already taking someone else to prom.
But wait, there's a twist!
One character in your story must be missing a sense or have an extra one.
Blindness? Deafness? Telepathy? The ability to sense temperature on his or her skin with incredible accuracy? Show me your characters who are sensory deficient or overburdened!
Sign-ups close on Friday, June 27 11:59pm Pacific Time USA
Submissions close on Sunday, June 29 11:59pm Pacific Time USA
Word count is a maximum of 900 words.
PM me if you'd like to judge
Sensible Individuals and Senseless Shits
God Over Djinn
Benny the Snake
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 11:00 on Jun 28, 2014
|# ¿ Jun 26, 2014 04:00|
Avast, ye shits. Two hours left to sign up.
|# ¿ Jun 28, 2014 04:58|
I can't tell if it's my internet or the forums but if this gets through and you can tell time, signups are cloooosed.
|# ¿ Jun 28, 2014 09:08|
Just under seven hours remaining! Glad to see some entries rolling in already, including a !
|# ¿ Jun 30, 2014 00:05|
did you know
that there's slightly under an hour left? GET THOSE ENTRIES IN.
|# ¿ Jun 30, 2014 06:06|
ENTRIES NOW CLOSED.
Populating a list of disappointing bitches now...
|# ¿ Jun 30, 2014 07:16|
THUNDERDOME WEEK 99 RESULTS: Insert a joke about entries being problems here
This round, 17 of 19 signups submitted, which was a pleasant surprise given the shortened week.
More or less everyone managed to stay on theme with varying degrees of success, which was also good to see. Overall, all three judges agreed that the content of this week's entries definitely tipped toward the higher-quality end of the scale.
That being said, there was one entry that stood out head and shoulders to all three of us as the WINNER: crabrock's story of an empathic firefighter was wonderfully feely and may or may not have made one of the judges tear up a tiny bit. The ending in particular had some great imagery, and depsite the fact that we only got to know the protagonist for 890 words, we wanted him to make it, drat it.
Honorable Mentions go to the Thunderdome Sensory Romance Power Hour. We got a surprising amount of romance entries this round, and it was difficult to pick a favourite among them. Kaishai had a dramatic, well-wrought tale of lovers at a train station with some turns of phrase that really impressed. On the other end of the spectrum we had Nethilia whose romance was utterly down to earth, but the judges appreciated that true-to-life feeling is just as hard to obtain. God Over Djinn also struck a romancey chord in our cold judgmental hearts, and the purposeful, calculating nature of her protagonist was a touch we all appreciated.
Each one of those HMs probably could have been a winner in a weaker round, or if someone had buried crabrock in their backyard.
As far as DMs and losers go, there were some low-middling pieces that will not be DMed this week simply because the worst of the worst was a whole 'nother level of bad.
Dishonourable Mention goes to PoshAlligator. From the first line onwards this story is jumbled and confusing. The sentence fragment problem from last week rears its ugly head again. Right when it finally starts to build a tiny bit of suspense at the end, you underwhelm the judges by having the whole story be about a blind guy throwing away a dead mouse. Not so rad.
Loser this week was a tossup between either you or Posh, but congratulations, Benny the Snake, yours was technically worse and more of a letdown. You at least managed to acknowledge the theme, but "man who can smell a lot of stuff, smokes e-cigs" wasn't an interesting enough premise to grab the judges when there was no actual plot to be found.
Congratulations to the HMs and winner, and an overall congratulation to those not listed as DMs/losers, because there really were some quality bits and pieces in the middle this time.
Crits incoming, and we'll see what BadSeafood has in store for WEEK ONE HUNDRED. See you in a couple weeks, crabrock!
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 00:12 on Jul 1, 2014
|# ¿ Jul 1, 2014 00:06|
|# ¿ Jul 1, 2014 05:45|
Adelmo Concepción is a quiet man with a disposition that leans toward cheerful. He's a native of Los Grano D'oro, getting into his fifties, and for twenty some-odd years in his youth, he was curator of La Galería Sinsonte. He ran the Galería with his high school sweetheart, Carminda, who was the artistic brains behind the operation. They married in their late teens and he happily sold Carminda's work into their middle years. He was forced to close the Galería when his wife fell ill, and after nursing her through a slow and agonising death at the hands of kidney failure, he was left to raise their daughter alone.
Adelmo presently works as a cab driver, and since he works nights on weekends, the pay is usually enough. But he's just found out that little Rosalinde has been accepted into a prestigious arts school. How is he going to afford tuition?
52/m/LGD'o seeks moron to accidentally leave briefcase in back of cab, PM if interested.
|# ¿ Jul 3, 2014 05:48|
I keep reading your username as Anonymous Blowjob.
It's the avatar, isn't it.
|# ¿ Jul 3, 2014 06:49|
Hey, King Cohort: I'm interested in your character stashing the case in my character's taxi cab. However I haven't seen you on IRC since you posted that (possibly because I'm on NZ time) so feel free to shoot me an email at casey.writes.things at gmail dot com.
|# ¿ Jul 4, 2014 02:58|
She seems fun. Can I can I can I can I?
|# ¿ Jul 4, 2014 08:59|
Google docs utterly hosed up the formatting on my crits and deleted large parts of some of them. Or I did, somehow. (more likely)
While I work on recovering the rest, here are Schneider Heim, D.O.G.O.B.G.Y.N., and Benny the Snake's line by line crits from Week 99.
|# ¿ Jul 5, 2014 08:11|
Adelmo’s eyes were drawn to the money first. The stack of bills was thick as his finger. His heart skipped. He momentarily lost himself in the roar of the shop-vac and the sight of all that money. Money enough for Rosa’s first term of school and then some. He reached down to switch the vacuum off, and that’s when he noticed it: the stack of bills was sitting in front of something that had been shoved into the shadowy recess beneath the taxi’s seat.
The attache case was simple, but it had a certain gravity. A weight so compelling that when he pulled it free, he momentarily left the stack of bills aside, forgotten.
Adelmo drove so many patrons most days that he never had a clue who had left behind what. But today had not been a normal day.
He could still recall the tall black man’s sunken stare, the tension in his birdlike neck. A man wearing a coat that tatty wasn’t his usual clientele, but this fellow had been more polite than his attire warranted, and he promised he could pay.
All the same, weird loving guy.
“Do you read the Bible, sir?” He’d likely seen the St. Christopher’s medallion dangling from Adelmo’s rear-view. The cab rumbled sedately down Medeiros.
“Indeed,” Adelmo smiled back at him.
“Do you consider yourself a righteous man?”
That was a tougher question. He made a left-hand turn while considering. Adelmo grew up devout--he’d married Carminda in the Church, and they never missed a service. They’d kept the gallery closed on Sundays. Their second child was to be called Joseph.
When the pregnancy killed Carminda, Adelmo decided Joseph would be Geoffrey. Geoffrey, born too soon, “failed to thrive.” Aside from two funerals in two weeks, Adelmo hadn’t set foot in a church since.
But he didn’t say all that. Instead he said, “I try to be. I think we all try.”
“Do you know Proverbs?”
“I admit it’s been a while.”
“Proverbs eleven: The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.”
Adelmo didn’t know what to say to that.
“Are you still waiting to be delivered?” The words sent a chill skittering up Adelmo’s spine. At least they were near their destination. It wouldn’t be long.
When the voice came again, it was very close to his ear. The hawkish man leaned forward, his murmur barely audible over the cab’s engine:
“A talebearer reveals secrets, but he of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”
Adelmo pulled the cab up outside an apartment block. From behind him, the man offered a fifty note, crisply folded in half.
“The fare’s only thirty-nine,” Adelmo said, looking from the folded bill to his fare’s sunken eyes.
The man had thin lips. Like the rest of his face, they were dried and stretched and leathery. Wrinkles formed at the edges of his mouth when he smiled, and it was the most foreboding thing Adelmo had ever seen.
“He who sows righteousness will have a sure reward, friend.”
Adelmo didn’t move until the cab’s door slammed shut.
The garage’s roller door clanged shut, breaking Adelmo’s reverie. He held the case with hands he didn’t realise were sweating. He had half a mind to run to the bank immediately, but… what if the cash wasn’t legal? And what of the case?
He could drop it off at the police station on the way home. Maybe tell them he never found any money. Or… perhaps he only found half. He didn’t know how he could look Rosa in the eye, tell her he couldn’t afford--
“Good of you, leaving it out for me.”
He whirled around and was face to face with a demon. A scream rose in his throat, but the creature pressed a finger to his lips.
She was much shorter than he. Dark-skinned. Riotous red dreadlocks surrounded the chalk-white void where her face should have been. Adelmo backed up against the cab, crossed himself, stumbling over the shop-vac’s hose.
From a few steps back, he realised that it was not a demon before him, but a human girl of indeterminate age. The chalky bone of her skull was only facepaint, white dust over dusky skin, eyes ringed with black. The vertebrae of some small creature were braided through her hair, and they clattered when she tilted her head.
In her hand was a machete with a blade as long as his forearm.
“Tell me, taxi man, who leave you this present?” Her accent was… French? Québécois? He couldn’t tell.
“Just take it, please, I don’t know anything!”
“I take it either way, silly. But you tell me, who leave it for you?”
Adelmo tried to shake his head. His whole body shook instead.
He who is of faithful spirit conceals a matter. He swallowed dryly, head spinning. He who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.
He looked into the girl’s eyes, and they burned back at him like coals in the pits of Hell.
Was he a righteous man?
“I swear to you,” he fell back through the cab’s open door, holding up supplicant hands. “I know nothing.”
She reared her machete upwards, then halted.
“Ah, you are Cat-licker,” she hissed, jabbing toward the St. Christopher’s medallion that dangled from the rear-view. The machete’s blade pinged against the silver. Adelmo gulped.
“You swear on your harlot Mary that you know nothing, Cat-licker?”
Adelmo closed his eyes, nodded over and over again.
“Please,” he whispered. “Just take it. I don’t know whose it is and I don’t care.”
That part was kind of true.
Eyes screwed shut, he steeled himself, lips moving in silent prayer.
The strike never came. When he dared to peek his eyes open, there was no sign of the girl with the painted face. The garage was deserted.
The briefcase was gone, but scattered across the ground were dozens of hundred-dollar bills, littered like refuse in her wake. Adelmo believed.
|# ¿ Jul 7, 2014 05:52|
Eh what the heck, I am also in.
|# ¿ Jul 9, 2014 07:30|
You can find my butter interprompt here.
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 09:32 on Jul 20, 2014
|# ¿ Jul 10, 2014 07:24|
The Rentboy Colossus, Or: An Invitation to Both Teams
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our word-washed forum post shall stand
A slinky rentboy with a pen whose fame
Is, for bounty, writing. And his name
Is Mista Blowout. From his keyboard-hand
Spews profane bullshit; sarcastic eyerolls and
A plea to fumbling fuckwits: Have you shame?
"On me mum, yer story's shite!" cries he
and flips the bird. "Give me your bloat, your waste,
Your purply prosey fanfic wankery.
The wretched refuse of your team is crap.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
Chuck these, the brainless spawn of misery
In the recycle bin, and I will be your chap!"
|# ¿ Jul 13, 2014 04:32|
If you were in the market for a RENTBOY MERCENARY you will have received a PM. This PM will tell you if your attempts at seduction were successful or a pitiful failure.
There's a word shortage in Wroxeter!
One 'Domer compiled a bribe of glorious words, enough to pay for a whole bicycle tyre.
I will fight for the team of his choosing.
|# ¿ Jul 14, 2014 00:35|
Unfortunately Mista Crabrock me services only include relations! Sexual.
|# ¿ Jul 14, 2014 00:37|
1397 words - 1200 + 107 from butterprompt + 100 word bounty from Ironic Twist
Volta’s Absolution idled in the darkness of space, cloaked and patient.
Contact estimated at a week away, the ship voiced as First Mate Harrow took his seat at the comms desk. How are you feeling?
Volta’s brain tended toward the conversational. She wasn’t just the central nervous system of the ship. She was chatty.
“Restless,” Harrow admitted. He lounged back in his seat and skimmed the latest intelligence updates: the terrorist convoy they intended to ambush was still due bang on schedule. He swept his finger across the panel, flicking through bad news. The war was much as it had been for months.
Things are tense. The words were drummed directly into his ear by his earpiece, yet it sounded like Volta were a person standing right beside him. He’d taken a while to get used to it, glancing up or sideways whenever he went to address her at first.
“Yeah, tense.” Could an AI even feel tension, or did she just sense the restlessness of her crew?
I’ve been exploring to keep my mind off it. Difficult when you possess as many processing units as I do.
Harrow laughed. “Exploring? Like what?”
Firing probes. The little nets, mostly. I’ve been compiling a database of the makeup of nearby rocks. It isn’t glamorous, but it keeps me occupied.
She made the war less lonely.
A gentle ping woke him, and for a moment he groped through the dark, disoriented, seeking the source of the voice.
Harrow, don’t be alarmed. And please don’t speak, you’ll wake the others.
Half-awake, he listened for alarms and heard none. Aside from the sounds of sleep, the officers’ barracks was quiet.
Can you meet me at the Cannons?
“I can’t ‘meet’ you anywhere,” Harrow mumbled. He scrubbed his face with a hand. Above him, his bunkmate snored.
You know what I mean. Please?
He didn’t even know Volta could wake people up save for the advent of some emergency, let alone why she would. But it was probably important. He couldn’t think of anything that would be important enough to wake him for but not worthy of the rest of the crew’s attention. He dressed in the dark then crept out into the hall.
The Cannons was the nickname for the Absolution’s secondary bridge, designed to keep the ship functional in the event of catastrophic damage. This meant it was a long walk from his bunk.
The auxiliary bridge was deserted, sweeping walls of panels all dimmed for now. Harrow chose a seat at random and cast an expectant glance up toward the nearest security camera.
Thank you for coming. Volta sounded grateful.
I found something, Harrow. I don’t know what to do.
He was fairly certain none of her usual routines included waking sleeping personnel to ask for advice.
Typically I would relay this information to comms, tactical, and mission command. But if I did that, I would be asking the personnel to defy our stated objective.
“What do you mean?” This was new.
A convoy of mercantile ships have been hijacked. They are being used to transport armaments to a cell of Fringe guerillas. Our mission is to intercept and destroy them. No prisoners.
“Yeah…” Harrow absently thumbed across the display at his seat, reading over the operation protocols even as Volta ‘read’ them to him.
I feel like I can’t trust this information to anyone but you.
Goosebumps prickled up his arms and he couldn’t quite pinpoint why. Could an AI really ‘trust’?
“You can trust me, Volta.” He wasn’t sure what else to say.
One of my probes picked up transmitter scatter from the ships that are approaching us. They are not hijacked merchant vessels.
“What do you mean?”
I thought you might want to see. The results will display on your console. Notice their encryption protocol: it’s government, not civilian. Our government.
Harrow swiped through the input on the screen, eager to see for himself. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe Volta, but what she was saying didn’t make sense. She showed him the logs of several transmissions, highlighting the encryption signatures, then opened another window to compare the results to the Absolution’s signatures directory.
Whatever that flotilla was broadcasting, they were using government channels.
What do I do, Harrow?
“I don’t know what to tell you.” He was stumped. “It’s possible the Fringe have broken our encryption somehow. I’ll bring it to Reyes.”
Possible but mathematically unlikely.
Harrow’s stomach sank as he copied the windows into a message for Captain Reyes on the officers’ channel. The Captain would know what to do.
He knew something was wrong the moment he stepped into Captain Reyes’ cabin. His earpiece went dead. He tapped it a few times until Reyes spoke up from his desk:
“That won’t work in here. I’ve got the cladding up.”
“Sir?” Harrow saluted, blinking. “Why?”
Captain Reyes sat at his desk wearing an undershirt, toying with the watch around one thick wrist.
“So we can have a conversation.”
Reyes motioned for Harrow to sit.
“Tell me, First Mate, how is the war going?”
Harrow cleared his throat, “Ah. Well. Our reconnaissance efforts have turned up a lot of useful material. Casualties are down from last month. On the whole, things are not as bad as this time last year…”
“You don’t need to give me the evening news version, Harrow.”
They stared at one another across the desk, silent.
“... The war’s not going great, sir.”
“An honest answer.” Reyes had recessed, heavy eyes. “I read your message, and I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. There must be some mistake.”
Harrow sat up straighter. “But sir, Volta’s not wrong, you can see--”
“Yes, that’s certainly how it looks, but you know that can’t be possible.”
Harrow couldn’t remember how to breathe. Reyes in his undershirt, looking so tired, so calm. Didn’t he understand what might happen? Did he even care?
“Those could be our ships, sir. If this is a mistake, people will die.”
Reyes released a sigh that seemed to deflate him, make him smaller. His voice was quieter than before when he spoke up again: “You didn’t enlist because you’re terrible at following orders. And you couldn’t have been promoted this many times by luck and happenstance.”
“I don’t follow, sir.” But he did. He just didn’t want to admit it.
“Our orders are to intercept and destroy, whether the ship is correct or not.”
“He says there must be some mistake. Or the Fringe broke our encryption and are broadcasting on our channels.”
Harrow, what are we going to do? What if Reyes is wrong?
“He says he’ll copy the information back to base,” he lied. Reyes had said no such thing. “And you should keep digging for more information.”
Was it the same as lying to a real person?
At eight hours Estimated Time to Engagement, he took his position at the bridge and found he couldn’t hold eye contact with anyone.
At six hours ETE, Volta announced on the officers’ channel:
One of my probes has intercepted a local transmission from the approaching flotilla. They are mining vessels returning from Asteroid 2606 KN7.
Harrow’s tongue felt swollen. He stared down at his console. His throat hurt.
Captain Reyes swiped across his screen and a series of pings announced that the ship was now under manual override. The officers’ channel went silent.
“Sir,” Harrow started, but Reyes cut him off with a look and held his stare, challenging him.
Wordless, Harrow backed down.
Two hours ETE, a voice chimed into Harrow’s earpiece:
This channel should reach you. Captain Reyes has made no enquiries toward base. He hasn’t even opened the files you sent him. He knew.
His orders were to intercept and destroy whether Volta was correct or not.
Harrow, you have to do something. Those people will die. This is morally wrong.
With a trembling hand, Harrow pulled the earbud from his ear and set it on his desk.
The firefight was swift, terrible, and effective.
News of their victory over the Fringe spread like wildfire through United Fleet. It was hailed as a high point a long, dark year. First Mate Harrow scanned the reports in silence.
Yes, he thought. The lying felt the same. It felt like swallowing coals.
No one read to him anymore.
|# ¿ Jul 14, 2014 04:02|
Since I'm out for all of August I may as well in at least once more in July.
|# ¿ Jul 15, 2014 03:54|
Jacked into our drones, Ella and I patrolled the sky. We wheeled across the Outpost’s skyline like hawks on thermals.
“Report came from the Pho shack. Deer at the dumpster.” In my peripheral vision, Ella’s drone was like a sleek black wasp, there and gone again as it ducked below me.
Deer were a problem: they could jump the Wall. Let loose on the streets, they’d spread disease, attack civilians if cornered. We put down a few a month. They never seemed to learn.
We hovered above the alley that cut behind Pho King. I ran a quick scan; nothing seemed unusual.
“I’ll check eastward,” I radioed, peeling out of formation. I skimmed above the main street then ducked into the next alley over.
From a couple dozen meters off, I spotted antlers over a midden heap. The deer was rummaging through trash.
I moved in without bothering to wait for Ella. I willed the drone to arms, readied the twin barrels of its guns, and darted toward the deer. It heard the whirr of my rotors and snapped its head up.
The thing that backed out from the midden wasn’t a deer at all.
It wasn’t quite a man, either. The emaciated creature that staggered back from my drone appeared halfway between the two. Its many-spined rack of antlers and its talon-like claws were black, the rest of it an ashen, bloodless grey. The creature lurched backward, standing at an awkward stoop. Its eyes were frenzied, open too wide, the only white on its shriveled grey face.
“Ella!” I panicked, guns forgotten, just staring.
The antlered creature rushed me with alarming speed. My world was knocked askew as it collided with my drone, bashing it from the air. My feed drowned in static. The camera’s signal faded in and out, focused on a sliver of sky over alleyway walls. I thought I could hear gunfire. Then the screen winked out for good.
Ella and I huddled in our apartment’s tiny bathroom. Normally we smoked on the balcony, but knowing that thing had been outside, we didn’t want to chance it. So we stood in the shower, its ventilation window wedged open, trying to puff our smoke out through the crack.
She looked like I felt: pale, eyes downcast, mouth clamped in a hard line. Ella was always more on top of things than I was; it wasn’t any surprise to me that she’d had the presence of mind to blow that thing full of holes.
“Your bot might be salvageable,” she said, then gusted out a lungful from her fourth cigarette since jacking out. Her voice was flat. Ella went like that sometimes.
“Yeah, could be. But there’s precisely zero chance I’m going out there to retrieve it.”
I flicked my roach out the window and snaked an arm around her torso.
“You did good.” I kissed the shell of her ear and stroked my thumb along her ribs. She leaned back into me, but I could tell her mind was elsewhere.
“Look,” I gave her a squeeze, “you killed it. Cleanup guys will figure out what it was.”
She sagged against my chest. “I think I know what it was. Didn’t you ever hear the stories when you were growing up? Wendigos?”
I hadn’t heard the word for decades, but it still got my hackles up. I shivered.
“Yeah. But it’s just something our parents’ parents made up to make kids behave.”
Wendigowak were a holdover from my grandparents’ generation, the ones who’d been alive when the bombs first dropped. Nothing grew anymore and cannibalism ran rampant in the days before the Outpost rose secure against the ruin of the outside world.
“You turn into a wendigo if you eat irradiated meat, right?”
“According to a folk tale created to stop cannibalism, yeah. But that’s all it is. A story.”
“What if it’s not, though?”
Ella hadn’t ever struck me as the superstitious type. I loved her for her level head, her methodical approach to life, her no-nonsense no-fuss manner. The Ella I knew didn’t flinch from folktale shadows like that.
“If it’s not, you killed one, because you’re amazing.”
I kissed her hairline, but for some reason, she stiffened against me as though fighting an instinct to pull away.
My dreams were dark and hungry.
I raced across a steppe dotted with sickly grass, hunting something just out of sight. The tang of its blood on the air excited me, drove me to chase it faster, and the steppe became a greyish forest became the slouched, hole-ridden structures I knew as the ruins beyond the Wall. In my dreams it was no longer a scorched wasteland.
As I neared the ruins, I caught a glimpse of myself in a sliver of broken window: russet curls fallen out in clumps, lips peeled back, face like a skull, my skin the colour of concrete. Small, fist-sized antlers curled upwards from my temples.
Behind me, a twig snapped, and I whirled to face my prey. The next few seconds were a jumbled mess: leaping, gnashing, tackling, struggling, and a sudden spray of red.
I woke, heart in my throat, and stared up at the ceiling.
Ella slept obliviously beside me, head pillowed on my chest. I twisted a hand through her hair and inhaled against her crown. Something about her always smelled like safety. I decided then and there not to tell her about my dream. She’d seemed rattled earlier. Why make it worse?
Replacing my drone would set us back a bit, so it was Outpost-issue ration packs for breakfast. Ella stirred ‘eggs’ in a pan while I made a couple packets of coffee. A speaker pinged from our ad-hoc surveillance station in the living room.
The report from Cleanup had come through on our kill: a human male, fifty-six years old, wearing the skull and pelt of a wild deer. Tests were still underway, but the preliminary autopsy suggested he’d contracted rabies from the deer he’d killed and presumably ate. Cleanup had attached photos. I scrolled through the images of the shriveled, grey-skinned man on the autopsy table, but Ella snapped a hand out and shut the monitor off.
“See, Ells.” I grabbed her hand. “Sometimes stories are just stories.”
When I looked up, tears welled in her eyes. I didn’t understand.
“No,” she croaked. “It’s not just a story. It was a wendigo. It has to be.”
“What? Ells, of course it’s not. It was just some guy--”
“Some guy that I shot to death.”
The childhood story had spooked me so much that I felt relieved it was just a man we’d killed. In my relief, I hadn’t even realised what that meant for Ella.
We picked at overcooked eggs and sipped cold coffee in uncomfortable silence. Ella shut down. Her shoulders shook. She wouldn’t look at me. She wouldn’t suffer any repercussions, of course, at least not legally. She’d just been doing her job.
For the first and only time in my life, I wished Wendigowak were real.
|# ¿ Jul 21, 2014 03:58|
|# ¿ Jul 21, 2014 04:45|
In with 4 and 9.
|# ¿ Sep 17, 2014 03:22|
Hey Fanky, just posting here to remind myself to ask you if you still wanted me to judge since I'll be at work all day.
|# ¿ Sep 18, 2014 00:24|
Exercising my judgely powers:
Check the list of signups in Fanky's prompt post.
Write me a poem about the person who is either above or below you on this list. Since this is TD you get bonus points if these poems are not nice. If you're a tender babby or have no idea who the posters adjacent to you are, make poo poo up or maybe just do some research in the thread idk man, your call.
You have an arbitrary amount of time until I feel like telling y'all to cool your jets.
Winners get word bonuses. Losers get gently caress all. (If you lose really hard you might actually lose words, too.)
|# ¿ Sep 20, 2014 02:03|
i signed up but am not on the list
Congrats, you can write your poem about anyone.
|# ¿ Sep 20, 2014 02:08|
Welp Muffin's poem is way better than what any of you other schmucks are gonna submit.
Muffin: +150 words.
|# ¿ Sep 21, 2014 22:45|
|# ¿ Dec 2, 2022 16:03|
Someone give me a prompt right loving now and in the next 30 minutes I will rock out 900 words.
|# ¿ Sep 22, 2014 08:30|