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  • Locked thread
anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


bye

anime was right fucked around with this message at Oct 27, 2015 around 06:00

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flerp
Feb 25, 2014


he has become sentient. i for one welcome the new robot overlord of this thread

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Ask me about being the most Magnificent Bastard in EU4 Multiplayer.

Broenheim posted:

he has become sentient. i for one welcome the new robot overlord of this thread

I don't think posting is evidence of sentience tbh

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


bye

anime was right fucked around with this message at Oct 27, 2015 around 06:00

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



this is so legit omg

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Trade-offs
870 words
Economics and a protagonist who can see anything in the past but only if it occurred over 100 years ago.

I had been working with Dr George Wick on a groundbreaking stochastic economic model for over a decade. My historical knowledge was invaluable to the calibration process. So George was furious when I told him I was leaving the group. The toll had become too much for me. I could see the past, but only the distant past. And the more time I spent in the past, the more I wanted to leave the present.

I saw her in a park on an overcast day. It was October 1915, and the Great War raged on. She sat on a bench, sobbing. In her hand was a letter. I knew what was written. I had seen her brother die at the Somme. He would never know he didn't die alone, as she would never know she didn't cry alone.

My office door swung open and slammed against my bookcase, toppling loose-standing books. In marched Wick, blistering.

“Leave? You can't leave!”

“I can,” I said. “And I will.”

He advanced towards me, and his eyes flickered to the half empty bottle of Scotch on my desk. He struck the desk and pointed at me. “Are you still chugging the pills too?”

“No,” I said, my hand cradling my pocketed codeine.

“You've been watching her again,” Wick said. “I can tell, Emile.”

I shrugged.

“Why do you do it to yourself? Can't you just get the info we need and leave it at that?”

“I can't spend any more time in the past. I just can't.”

“Emile, stay with us. Just for a little while longer.”

“I can't.”

“I'll tell the dean about your office habits if you refuse to help.”

“Tell her. My care can go no lower.”

Swearing loudly, Dr Wick left. The door rebounded multiple times behind him.


A few days later, I sat in my office again. A new pill-induced warmth filled me as I held a glass of whiskey.

I saw her as she walked into a Gothic building blackened by time; the East Sussex Asylum. Her mother lay in a bed with idle eyes fixed to the ceiling. The daughter told her terrible news, the mother remained motionless. I just had to see her, the daughter, happy. Just one more time. But I was at the boundary. This was happening too recently in the past. I couldn't watch anymore. Even the present was better than this.

I dropped my drink. A hand was at my throat. My breath accelerated, and I beat the hand away. The dean stood in front of me, her brow heavy with worry. I recognized the man whose hand had been touching me. It was the doctor.

“Why are you here?” I asked despite knowing.

“You've been in a daze, your eyes just staring at nothing, for over ten minutes now, Dr Pichowsky. I feared you'd taken too many of those,” she said, pointing to my pills. She picked up my whiskey, “Or too much of this.”

“There is nothing wrong physically with Dr Pichowsky,” the doctor said. “But I think it would be wise to do some further checks at a proper medical facility.”

“I agree,” the dean said.

I didn't agree. I tried to leave using force. But as soon as blood burst from the doctor's nose I slumped to the ground. A lachrymose loathing swept through me, and then the dean helped me out of the office, making heartwarming but empty promises as we went.

En-route to the hospital, I flickered between the crying woman at the bedside of her vacant mother and my own time in the ambulance. The dean sat beside me. I wondered why; I hardly knew her.


Weeks later, I sat in a rocking chair, looking out over the fields and forests. Forbidden places for me now. I had been referred to a mental institute, mainly based on the evidence of Dr George Wick. But it wasn't helped by my frequent absences.

“You have a visitor, Emile,” an orderly said, standing behind me.

I didn't turn. I suspected it was George. And it was. He sat in the chair across from mine.

“Hey, Emile,” he said. “How are you doing?”

I remained studying prohibited places.

“Doesn't look too bad here,” he said and continued after a pause and a deep breath. “Emile, I just wanted to apologize for what happened. I didn't expect any of this to happen.”

I shrugged. “I'm just waiting.”

“Waiting?”

“I've become like a moth without light.”

Wick furrowed is brow, “Emile, are you okay?”

Time extended with silence.

“We've published the model, by the way. It's making waves. Your name is on the paper, of course.”

I shrugged. “It's useless anyway. I know it, you know it, and everyone suspects it.”

“We could still refine it. Are you still visiting her?”

“No. I can't go back. The cocktails I knock back each day keep me firmly in the present.”

“You can't go back at all?”

“No.”

He left not long after that. First, he told me some unsolicited stories about colleagues and informed me of the good health of his family. Even with his unperfected model, he seemed content. After he left, I went back to thinking about lost time and restricted topologies.

Boaz-Jachim
Sep 20, 2015

CANERE CORAM LEONE


1087 words

A growl rumbled out from the heating vents in the hall.  Since Alex and Jason were the only two around, the silence that came after the noise was even more unsettling.  It was the afternoon of their last day in middle school, and everyone else had left, but they still had to clean out their lockers.


"What was that?" Jason asked.
 

"I dunno, boiler room?" Alex said with a shrug.
 

"Sounded more like the Combine from like, Halo," Jason said.  They shared a little snort.


Jason crossed the hall, carrying a stack of looseleaf detritus from the bottom of his locker, and dumping it into the yellow trash bin.


"Gonna use the bathroom," he said over his shoulder.  Alex nodded as he tried to peel off a skate sticker without ruining it.


Jason elbowed his way into the bathroom.  He took a look out the window, down at where he'd used to line up before school in sixth grade.  That was two years ago and he already felt a hundred times more grown up.  He was going to high school next year.


As he turned to use the urinal, there was a bang loud enough to clack his teeth from behind him.  The heater grille flew across the bathroom floor. Something was on Jason's leg, pulling him backward.  He fell to the ground before he got breath in his lungs.  The world swung around him and then he was dragged down into darkness.

 

The yellowed lights above Jason gave the concrete floor and cinderblock walls the look of a stairwell.  Without much color, the shadows stood out more starkly: huge tanks and nests of pipes weaving up above him.


And then, there was the lion in front of him.  Though his felt fabric made him look like dark silk in the light, Jason knew he would look bright red in proper lighting.  This lion was the school's mascot, and he had his permanently giddy grin stretched across his too-big head.


"Hey, Jason!  How's it been?" the mascot asked.


Jason squinted up at the lion in a football jersey.  He propped himself against the wall and slowly lifted himself to his feet.


"What the heck, man?  I thought the principal fired you or something," Jason said.  They'd done a whole mascot redesign the beginning of last year, making it more like a logo and less of a felt animal suit.


"Nope!  Cause I'm not a person they couldn't really fire me, but they felt bad about throwing me out."


Jason nodded.   He thought he saw a way up from the boiler room floor.  If he could find the door, he'd make it out of here.  He ran for it.


Three paces in, a mascot suit slammed into him, tackling him sidelong. He didn't fall hard, though--the fabric cushioned his fall.  He should have remembered that mascots were inherently good at sports.


"Hey, why you gotta run off?  I wanted to catch up with you, see how you're doing!  Bet eighth grade was a great year."


The mascot got back up to his feet and helped Jason stand.  Behind him were shelves of tools, on either side were hot water tanks.  In front of him, the smiling lion. 


"Yeah, great," Jason said.  He shuffled his feet and inched backward, away from the mascot.


"Awesome!   Gonna take that Newburgh Lions pride to your high school?" His perenially-cheery voice, part coach and part enthusiastic kid, wobbled in the lion's throat.


"Oh, uh, yeah.  They're just the Raiders and the mascot is like, a knight," Jason said.  His hands found the shelf behind him and he held onto it for support.


"Hey, that sounds really cool!  Listen, I know you're going on to doing great things in high school," the lion said, putting a hand on Jason's shoulder. "But just remember me!  I remember you were super stoked to play two-hand-touch football back in fifth grade cause you thought being a Lion was awesome!"


Jason didn't want to smile, but he did.  He looked into the mascot's eyes, which were plastic and boring into his own.  There was nothing he wanted more right now than to be done with middle school, and now it was clinging to him in the worst way.  The past four years had been the most awkward he'd ever felt in his life, and he was ready to put that behind him in high school.


"So while you're being the best Raider you could be, just remember, you'll always be a Lion too,"  the mascot said, bumping Jason gently in the chest.


Everyone Jason had said goodbye to was either a classmate who'd be in high school with him, or a teacher who was sort of a little glad to see the class hassle go.  Saying goodbye,  a serious, actual goodbye, to someone who sincerely didn't want him to go, was hard.


Jason's hands had found a wrench on the shelf.  He gripped it, ready to beat a path to freedom.  It felt easier than actually saying goodbye, even if he didn't like the lion that much.  In his mind, that mascot represented all the smells of pencil-shavings and damp cafeteria food and the feeling of sitting through art class with his weird teacher who made them watch Spirited Away for a month of class and playing The Lion Sleeps Tonight for the twentieth time in music.  He wanted to just leave it all, and here it was, everything he hated, asking him for a goodbye.


"Yeah," Jason said.  There was a lump in his throat he didn't understand. "I'll remember that."


"Good!  I wouldn't be a good mascot if I didn't want to see people grow.  Now get out there and give it your best shot!" the lion said.  He patted Jason on the head.


Jason let go of the wrench and walked toward the stairs.


"Bye," he said.  He gave the mascot another glance.  Smiling, as always. The door to the boiler room swung shut behind Jason.


 

Jason came up from the stairs instead of out of the bathroom.  Alex gave him a weird look.


"Where were you?" Alex asked.


"Boiler room.  That's where they put the mascot, I guess," Jason said, shrugging.


"Really?  Thought they just tossed him.  He was so stupid," Alex said.


The lump in Jason's throat sparked.


"He's not stupid.  Your mom's stupid," Jason said.


"Halo's stupid," Alex said.  That was a step too far.


"Whatever.  He's not stupid," Jason said.  He grabbed his bag and shut his locker for good.

worlds_best_author
Aug 23, 2015


Covering the Spread
967 words

“...and coming out on the field, please welcome Michigan's own, Benjamin “Benji” Abdon!” The announcer cried over the loudspeaker. The crowd chanted “Ben-Ji! Ben-Ji! Ben-Ji!” as a six-foot tall college athlete, wearing a blue-and-yellow jersey with the name “ABDON" over the number 23, walked out onto the Michigan State field. It was a Saturday night in late November and even though Benji could see his own breath, he felt even colder. His fellow Wolverines were ready to claim victory against their longtime rivals, the red-and-grey Ohio State Buckeyes. Despite the fact that this was the most watched game in college football, Benji's mind at that moment wasn't on the game itself, but elsewhere.

***

“Go on, Benji, eat,” his older cousin Yadi encouraged him by offering him a platter of rice and yellow curry. “You’re a growing boy, after all!”

“Yadi, what do you want?” he asked.

Yadi put the platter town and smiled. “I can’t do something nice for my favorite cousin?”

“Don’t give me that,” Benji snapped and leaned in. “You’ve been nothing but trouble for me, Yadi.”

The two of them paused as their waiter served their pad thai. “How could you-”

“The time you tried to pass me as your own son to scam financial aid.”

“Yeah but-”

“Or the time you tried pinning shooting at sparrows with your dad’s pellet gun on me.”

“Benji-”

“Or how about when you tried scamming me out of Grandma’s bond?”

“Motherfucker, listen,” Yadi said and stabbed her fork into her plate of stir-fry, her immaculately drawn eyebrows narrowed. “Who snuck you into R-rated movies as a kid? Who was the one who loaned you her Mustang when you said you were ‘this close’ to scoring with your girlfriend? Who was the one who helped you when you couldn't get financial aid?”

Benji looked away and ran a hand through his spiked hair. “Yeah, I thought so,” she said. “I treat you to your favorite food and this is what I get.”

“Be honest with me then, what is it that you want?”

Yadi pushed her glasses up and sighed. “I bet against your team and-”

“Bye, Yadi,” Benji said and started to leave.

“-I did it because I knew José wants to go to college like his big brother, doesn’t he?”

Benji stopped and gripped his chair. “He looks up to his big brother and wants to be a college success, too,” Yadi pointed out and took a bite out of her curry. “But there’s no way he can afford college. And I can help with that.”

“How much could you help?”

Writing on a napkin with her makeup pencil, Yadi handed Benji a figure as his eyes grew big. “It’s not Michigan State money, though," Yadi reasoned.

“This is bullshit-how am I supposed to believe that you provide us with this much money?”

Yadi looked him in the eyes. “Because it’s me who’s asking to help”

Benji sat back down and served himself. “What do I need to do?

She smiled. “All you have to do is cover the spread.”

***

From under his sweat-filled helmet, Benji looked at the scoreboard: 21-25, Ohio up by four. Michigan was a scant fifteen yards away from the end zone and on their fourth and final down and only seconds on the clock. Remembering Yadi’s words, Benji knelt behind the center and called the play. “Red-22! Red-26! Hut-One!”

Center Jordan Mercer snapped the ball. Like bighorn sheep, blue and red slammed into each other. While Benji held onto the ball in his arms like a baby, his receivers flew home towards the end zone. Racing back, Benji lifted the ball high into the air before slamming it back down into his other hand, tucking it into his body, and sprinting into the fray.

“And Benji runs the ball!” The announcer shouted while Michigan crowd gasped in shock.

“gently caress are you doing?” Mercer shouted while holding back a buckeye linebacker but Benji ignored him. Bobbing and weaving, he crossed the ten-yard line and right in the path of an incoming lineman. Bracing for impact, Benji didn’t notice the semi of another Ohio linebacker rushing in his blindside. Tumbling on the ground, Benji tasted grass, dirt, and blood at the same time. His head on fire and his vision blurry, he didn't hear anything until he heard the piercing trill of the ref’s whistle. Benji could see the anguished looks in the Michigan stands and hear his coach’s incessant cursing. But his eyes and ears were focused on one person: Yadi, who was jumping up and down, cheering at the top of her lungs, smiling from ear to ear. At that moment, Benji knew. He knew exactly what her intentions were and knew exactly what he hand to do.

***

"Hey José?" Benji called his little brother as he got up the very next morning at 5AM.

"Benji?" A sleepy-voiced José answered on the other line. "What's up, big bro? I saw you lost last night."

"I know," he said as he went into the hall closet of his dorm room and pulled out a lockbox and unlocked it. Inside it was his pistol, a black-and-grey hunk of plastic which, in happier times, he let his brother use at the firing range. Benji sighed and removed himself from any doubt by checking that it was loaded before switching the safety on and putting it in his back pocket. Yadi's text was still fresh in his mind: "meet me @ starbucks 10am". But he wasn't taking any chances, he knew exactly where she lived. "José?"

"Yeah?"

"Just wanted to know that you're okay," he said.

"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" José asked. "What's wrong, Benji?"

Benji sighed. "I'm going to make sure you get what's yours," he said as he left outside into the predawn.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why didn't you invest in
Thunderdome?


Roses
486 words

Robby hated school. It was full of big, fat bullies, and homework. But he loved Mrs. Tebert’s English class. Not because of the books, but because of Mrs. Tebert.

Mrs. Tebert was beautiful. Like Action Girl, she was tall and blond, and she wore colorful dresses to work. She was always nice to Robby, even when he said something stupid, like confusing Charles Dickens with Oliver Twist. Even when his classmates snickered about how he pronounced “literary”, or when it was his turn to read but he’d lost track of the story, daydreaming in class. She always had a nice word for him. But then she was an English teacher. She probably had a lot of nice words in general.

This week they did poetry. Mrs. Tebert had told them about Shakespeare. Shakespeare had been a famous poet, one of the best. But his works were also complicated. So they’d mostly read simpler, common poems. People did poetry to convey feelings, or to paint pretty pictures inside people’s heads, or to woo each other.

Girls loved poetry, Mrs. Tebert had said. She’d looked at Robby when she’d said that.

He twisted the crumpled up paper in his hands. It had gotten damp with sweat. Everyone had been instructed to write a poem for today. Robby had spent all evening on his.

He’d read the poems they’d covered in class. He’d searched his soul, whatever that meant. He thought he knew, but he wasn’t sure. It probably involved a lot of thinking. But thinking was hard. So Robby had played videogames instead. So maybe he hadn’t worked on it all evening. But he’d worked on it a lot. And it was pretty good. Pictures. Feelings. The poem had it all. He couldn’t wait to show Mrs. Tebert what he’d written for her. Despite her angelic voice, he couldn’t wait for her to be done with the role-call.

When it was time to read the homework out aloud, his hand shot up so hard it almost tore him off his seat. She called his name. She always did it so sweetly. As if she named her favorite candy. Her favorite pupil. Robby got up. His voice shaky, throat sore, face flaring up red, he unfolded the paper. He coughed. This was it. She had to like this. He put as much emotion as possible into his reading. He wasn't sure if he didn't sound like a dumb oaf.

“Roses,” Robby said. “By Robby Dingleheimer.”

“If roses were not red,
if violets were not blue,
I would still love you.”

There was a pause. Stupid. Stupid poem. Just as he’d read it, he’d realized how stupid it was. Stupid poem. Stupid Robby. Someone in the back row giggled and called him a fag.

Mrs. Tebert smiled. “Good job, Robby.”

Robby sat back down.

Good job.

She’d smiled at him and said “Good job.”

Poetry was such a beautiful thing.

Jocoserious
Jun 9, 2014

LOOK OVER HERE!!


Flame
Prompt: Speech
712 Words

Martin's hands trembled, dripping with sweat. His paper crinkled under his grip. His entire body shook, as though there were an earthquake under him, and him alone. Standing in the barren white hallway, he couldn't even look at the door without his heart beating on his ribs like a gorilla, attempting to break free of its bodily cage. He clutched at his cross necklace, staining its shining silver and marking indents on his palm.

"Oh lord, free me from this trial. I know not if I can surpass it." His voice quaked and cracked like he was thirteen again. His mother would scold him if she knew he was calling upon the lord for such a simple task. He didn't dare imagine what his father would do...

The door opened, knocking Martin out of his daze. He had been muttering verses to himself in Latin, like a priest exorcising a demon. As the old door creaked, Martin got a glimpse of the inside, the small crowd within wearing anxious faces. Before he could make eye contact with any of them, his vision was filled with the tall, dark frame of Mr. Lee.

"You're not nervous, are you?" Mr. Lee said, his deep, rich voice filling the silent hall.

"I-I'd be lying if I said I w-wasn't, sir," Martin stammered. "It's a sin to lie, and I'm no s-sinner!" Mr. Lee's brow furrowed. He crouched down, not wanting his great height to keep them separated.

"You really think you're alone this world? You think you got all the world's problems on your shoulders?" Mr. Lee's Georgian accent made Martin feel at home, but his stern talk kept him from relaxing completely. "Just because this speech is about changing the world, doesn't mean you actually have to-- not right now at least." He smiled, anticipating Martin's response.

"I know!" Martin said, his voice raising. "But I can't just sit and take it anymore! I want to make my thoughts known, show the others how I feel, show them that they don't have to stay silent either!" He was no longer stuttering. On instinct, he lifted his hand, its height matching the strength of his voice. He thrust his index finger towards the heavens, just as Father Brown did every week in choir.

Mr. Lee watched Martin's eyes flash. Inspiration, passion, determination... and a certain something else he couldn't put his finger on. This boy had a flame in him, and Mr. Lee was confident Martin could live up to the grandiose name he was given at birth. The wise instructor placed his hands on Martin's shoulders, his wrinkled skin a near identical shade of brown to Martin's arms.

Feeling those large, imposing hands on him, Martin whimpered. His mind's eye saw his father, equally large hands gripping his shoulders with ten times the force, ready to crush his bones into dust. Like all moments however, it passed as quickly as it arrived, thanks to the warm smile and gentle eyes of his teacher.

"Even though it's not finished yet?" Martin asked, his eyebrows arching upward.

"You'll finish it someday. You're an excellent speech writer Martin, it's my job to make you an excellent speech giver." Mr. Lee responded. "Now get in there!"

Martin swallowed his fear, nodded, and made for the door. He put his hand, which had dried without him noticing, on the knob and pulled it open. Inside, he was treated with nothing but smiles from his classmates. Like a shot of adrenaline, the support of his brothers and sisters filled him with newfound energy. He entered, Mr. Lee following in after to sit at his desk. Martin approached the podium and gripped the sides-- tightly, but not too tightly. He assumed his posture and let his eyes migrate from one wall to the other. Two dozen faces, all having something very important in common.

The flame was now kindled. He cleared his throat. He blinked his eyes clear, and in that instant of darkness he saw his mother, the Lord, and the great man he was named after. He channeled the flame, letting it fuel, rather than burn. His eyes flashed. Inspiration, passion, determination... and power. Without a single extraneous word or apology, Martin began his speech.

"I have a dream..."

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

June 3rd, 6th Period
730 words


NAME: THE POD LLC
PERIOD: seven minus one

1. Name all of the countries in the world larger than the United States.

Dear Mr. Pinski To Who’m it may concern,

Misters Chase Bravo, Steven Hardlock, Kyler Fink, and Spiff-o will heretofore henceforth conduct all classroom assignments as the incorporated entity known as THE POD. THE POD need only to receive one copy of each test, for example we will consolidate our answers to this week’s geography quiz onto this paper for your convenience.

“Name all of the countries in the world larger than the united states” is a great question, THE POD often wonders about that. Thank you for asking. Because THE POD has never been to outer
2. If you were in Nebraska, which direction would you travel to get to Colorado? space, THE POD cannot guarantee your satisfaction with our answer. THE POD would like to reply to your inquiry with an esquirey, if you will? What makes a country big? Nothing is bigger than the US because the US is number one. THE POD sincerely hopes this was a helpful responce.
In reply to your 2nd question, there are many directions a person can take in life. For example a person could go west and wind up in the east! The earth is, as far as THE POD knows, round and full of airplanes. THE POD noticed that you look very tired lately, if you want to take a trip to Colorado, you should. THE POD recomends checking your preferred airline for travel advice.
3. Name the imaginary line that separates the northern and southern hemispheres.

deez nuts Scarlett Johansson Kate Arnold Bob

4. Give two reasons most major cities develop beside coasts or rivers.

THE POD takes pleasure in continuing to corespond with you. THE POD is however worried by the tone of your questions, it seems like you really need a vacation, perhaps by the beach.

5. What is the westernmost point in the continental United States? THE POD sees the look you are giving THE POD from your desk. THE POD would like to give you our more sinsere assurences that we are aware of your situation and are working round the clock to assure you take that vacation you so desperately need. THE POD is of the opinion that you would be less stressed out if you didn’t enforce a rigorous seating chart in your classes, for example the one that keeps THE POD on the opposite side of the room from our colleagues, Ms.s Kate Arnold, Robin Hudson, and Olivia Patashnik.

6. In what region do the tallest trees in the United States grow? THE POD would like to quote a native american proverb: how high does the sycamore grow, if you cut it down you will never know. THE POD is against deforestation. THE POD would like to know how high the tallest tree would grow, rest assured THE POD will direct all resources to addressing this travesty. THE POD couldn’t help but notice the long walks you take alone after school, maybe you are a nature loved like THE POD? We urge you to join us in the fight against cutting tall trees down.

7. The continental United States encompasses how many time zones?

THE POD wants to come clean w/ you about something. THE POD knows about your dating troubles. THE POD knows your Match.com profile has only had one hit recently, and that’s because it was THE POD. THE POD urges you to take 1 to 3 weeks off and maybe do a few reps while you’re at it, pull yourself back together. THE POD can bench press a total of like 1000 lbs, and THE POD looks and feels great every day. We would also like to humbly expresso that the hair dye isn’t working, but some ladies like the grey look so maybe you should play that up??? THE POD agrees you look a little bit like Richard Gere with a grocery story dye job lately, which isn't the worst but it's not the best.

Thank you for taking the time to write to THE POD, we look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' -Samuel Johnson

What Tinies Do

1100 Words

The Cavenaugh brothers shoved against the side of the couch, all together. It didn't budge. “Come on,” said Brendan. “One more try.”

“Nope,” said Josh Cavenaugh, the eldest. “It's not going anywhere. Time to go home.”

“But the prank's only half done,” said Brendan.

“Is it, though?” said Josh. “I mean, I'm no master prankster like you, but 'Principal's couch stuck in stairwell' sounds better than 'Principal's couch in his office ahead of schedule.'”

“But it-”

“Matter of fact, that last one sounds more like doing the Bigs' jobs for them. Fine this way. Let's go, boys.”

“But it isn't even stuck for them. A couple of Bigs wouldn't have any problem,” said Brendan to the distant backs of the Cavenaughs. He leaned against the the couch and sighed. “They're all gone now, Chesa.”

“I can't believe you got me into this, Brendan,” said Chesa, her voice muffled, from inside the couch.

“I've seen them move heavier,” said Brendan. “A car, even.”

“Not up this kind of grade and around a corner,” said Chesa.

“Well, you're the one who wanted to get up there in the first place. Josh wasn't wrong. Moving the couch to the office isn't much of a prank.”

“It was about what we could have done if I'd gotten in there. I could have stolen his keys and whittled copies.”

“Why not just sneak in and hide? Why use the couch?”

“There's not one hiding place in that office, not that isn't locked up. And once he has the couch he'll be locked up in there himself nights.”

“He will?”

“A man doesn't have a foldout couch delivered to his office if he's not expecting his wife to throw him out soon.”

“Okay,” said Brendan, dragging a backpack more than twice his side from the corner of the landing to beside the couch. “So why didn't we tell the Cavenaughs all that?”

“The Cavenaughs would have gone straight to Granny, and she'd have said the whole thing's too dangerous. Why didn't you ask me all this before you agreed to help?”

“Because I trust you, Chesa. Can I ask one more question?” Brendan opened the backpack and started looking through his tools.

“That's sweet, Brendan. Sure. Ask away.”

“Why do you want the keys? I don't see what pranks they'd be good for.”

“Brendan, why do you think we play pranks on the Bigs?”

“Tinies play pranks!” said Brendan, in a conditioned response. “It's what Tinies do!”

“It is, true,” said Chesa. “But there's a reason. What else do Tinies do to the Bigs?”

“Steal their food and drink!”

“There you go,” said Chesa. “And if all we did was steal their food and drink, they wouldn't think that it's Tinies that they have running around. They'd think it was mice, or rats. And if they thought that, they'd bring in a cat.”

Brendan shivvered. “What do the keys have to do with that?”

“They've been putting most of the good food and all of the drink under lock and key lately. We've been getting by on their garbage and scraps, but if it's just that that goes missing, again, they'll start thinking rats. They might even think they have both rats and Tinies, or ghosts, or whatever else they're thinking we are.”

“You should have told me sooner. I can think of better ways to borrow the principal's keys. But first we have to get you out of there.”

“How?” said Chesa. “The brothers decided to move it handle side down, and you can't-”

“It's just a matter of physics,” said Brendan. “And physics is just applied geometry, and geometry's my thing.”

“It is?”

“One of my best regular pranks,” said Brendan, slowly scaling the side of the couch, lifting the backpack behind him. Besides his tools, it was filled with books, exactly as much weight as he could carry. “Whenever Mr. Willard leaves problems on the blackboard overnight, I break in and answer them.”

“But you get every single one wrong.”

“Exactly!” said Brendan. “You have to know the material well to be sure to never get one right by accident.” Brendan summited the couch and walked out the the back middle edge of it. He sunk a fishing hook into the couch, measured out how much slack he needed, and threw himself and the backpack off the side. The couch tumbled over, rotating almost forty-five degrees beyond what would have been a normal sitting position had it been on a level floor rather than stairs.

“Brendan!” said Chesa. “What did you do?”

“Got the couch facing a better direction.”

“You could have killed me!”

“What? You're surrounded by cushions.”

“I'm also surrounded by tightly coiled steel springs!”

“I'm sorry, I was just-”

“Nevermind. I'm sure there wasn't any real danger. Still, give me some warning next time.”

“Okay,” said Brendan. “This part's going to take a while.” He climbed back up the couch, more quickly this time without the backpack, carrying only the hook. He wrapped the fishing line five times around the handle of the pull-out couch, tied a knot, and quickly climbed back down. Then he carried the backpack, one nearly-his-height step at a time, up to the top of the stairwell. He took from the backpack a pulley made from a broken yoyo, some nails, and a wire hanger and hung it over the top guardrail, working the line tightly into the groove.

“I'm about to pull it open,” he yelled down to Chesa. “Hold on to something. Ready?”

“Ready,” came Chesa's voice, muffled by couch and distance. Brendan released the backpack, and as it fell it provided enough force to transform couch to bed, sending cushions flying through the stairwell. Brendan collected the pulley rig and went down the stairs in a series of quick downward jumps. Chesa was waiting for him, a little rumpled. She had already untied and brought down the hook end of the fishing line.

Brendan looked at the now-opened couch, wedged tightly into the stairwell. “Now that's a prank,” he said. “Even a Tiny could barely reach the handle now. No way a Big's ever going to get enough leverage to close it.”

“They might even have to take an axe to it just to clear the stairwell,” said Chesa, smiling. The keys could wait. This was what Tinies did.

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011

ICE-MEIN


Graduation
(1017 words)

Eric, valedictorian of Westreach High, rapelled down the sheer wall of the chasm in search of illumination in the darkness below. There he would commune with the thing that dwelled below, and gain insight into his life path, in accordance with the precepts of his school.

His feet soon lost traction as the cliff face disappeared in front of him and he tumbled downwards onto an outcropping. The surface above was nothing more than a slash of light, impenetrable at the great distance. Eric shivered in the cold of the depths and cracked a glow stick from his belt. He waved it in front of him, illuminating an opening further into the old stone. With a heavy exhalation, he unclipped his rope and stepped forward.

As he walked, Eric almost wished that he had failed one of his exams. Just one, and his options would have been far more limited. He wouldn’t have had to do this. The quake had opened the chasm only fifty years ago, but it had changed everything: especially the people who descended into the depths.

The walls of the tunnel wept, rivulets forming in the smooth, glistening stone carved by centuries of groundwater, but seeming in this moment like the claw marks of a hideous, ancient beast. Eric could turn back, but that would be the worst fate of all. To be offered the chance and then to reject it would mean rejecting the order of things, to be a force of destabilization. It would mean choosing not the graduate.

The wind howled like a wounded deer, roaring from behind him and pushing him forward, ever forward, into the deeper dark that the tunnel promised. The angle of the tunnel was imperceptible to his eyes, but Eric knew he was descending, carving his path deeper into the old stone. The stone that had never seen the eyes of man, or of any of the beings that came before man that knew speech and abstract thought.

He could have focused on the trumpet, and made everything else secondary. Sure, musicians don’t make any money and his parents would have hated it, but he wouldn’t have been here, facing the void, the great nothing. If he hadn’t shown any promise at all, then his path would have been clear. But now, there was nothing but the great confusion.

And then there it was. A grand mass of petrified fungal flesh, filling a cavern that reached higher than the heavens seemed to have been. It towered over him, fragile and still and yet full of ominous potential. His legs quaked and his jaw dropped and his pores exploded in sweat. He stumbled backwards, but the wind was too great, pressing him forward even as he fell back and soon he was laying on his back, gazing up at the lichenous mass climbing above him, coating the walls in a dull grey matte textured like the folds of the human brain.

Faces seemed to emerge from the patterns of the grooves of the thing. “What,” he said. “What am I….” He trailed off, unable to find words. This was it, his final exam, the one that there was no preparation for. Whether he passed or failed, after this he was done and all that would be waiting for him was the wide world, empty and cold and uncaring and full of nothing but twisting mazes more complex than the patterns etched into the primordial stone.

The weight of the petrified mass loomed over him, pressing down upon him, pinning him, suffusing him, blanketing him in nothing but that sense of isolation and broken dreams, of the memories of youthful play and adolescent exploration and juvenile power fantasies that he had sought so long to hold onto, now nothing but dust in the proximity of this nameless thing that probed at his innermost self. He couldn’t stand it.

“What do you want from me!?” His voice echoed through the chamber into discordant shrieks that tore at his hearing.

Silence lifted him. The stone seemed to fade from his back and he found himself floating, gazing at that mass, which seemed to throb and beat with the timing of his heart, which slowed with every instant until everything was again frozen solid. He reached a hand forward, weightless in the infinite gap of space that separated him from everything and the idea of a tendril reached out through the aeons of emptiness and wrapped around his fingers.

In that instant, everything fell apart. He became aware of the passing of untold epochs, of eternities flashing before his eyes, of the insignificance of all human efforts on the cosmic scale. A shuddering gasp escaped from his lungs and he struggled in the grasp of that immense intellect. But his limbs were still and his eyes could only dart over the petrified fungus, which now seemed to pulse with an internal light.

The light spread and intensified, burning into his eyes and searing open his pupils with brilliance until everything vanished into a brilliant whiteness. Spores suffused his lungs and his flesh and he realized that he was gazing down at himself, hanging in that white void, motionless save for the occasional twitch of fingers or toes.

A voice thundered around him and, though he could not understand the language, he knew the intent and the meaning. “Lost. Alone. Confused. Open.”

“Yes,” Eric said. His voice was barely a whisper, raw and ragged in the whiteness.

“Empty inside. Aptitude sufficient. Open yourself.”

“Yes,” Eric said.

“Prophet and speaker. Knife and torch. Sage and demagogue. Spread the gospel. Bind the people. Speak the words. Join the many.”

“Yes,” Eric said. And for a moment, he felt the weight of every other living mind that had been touched by the mass, and in that moment he felt the contentment of his smallness, the glory of being just a part of a greater whole.

***

Eric’s pulled himself out of the chasm and looked to his guidance counselor, utterly calm despite the exertion. “I’m going to be a political science major.”

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Wordcount: 1097

Practice makes perfect

Friday

Toby’s fingers rolled over the keyboard, a tidal wave cresting, until he missed the final note again. He leaned back, staring at the keyboard in front of him, and nervously cracked his knuckles, the way Miss Armitage had told him not to. “Sorry.”

Simone, astride her cello, sighed like a blade slipping into Toby’s heart. “You did practice this, right?”

He couldn’t quite meet her eyes, and instead found himself unable to stop noticing that the skirt of her school uniform was riding higher than usual, displaying a distracting amount of thigh. “So many times,” he mumbled, holding up one small hand. “I just don’t have the reach.”

“Then, I dunno, tie weights to your fingers until they stretch or something.” Simone flicked her long hair in annoyance. “You said you had this. We’ve got the practical on Monday, and that’s fifty percent of our performance and teamwork grades. That’s only three days away!”

“Sorry,” repeated Toby, but the bell rang, and Simone was already unwrapping herself from her instrument. Toby took a long time to pick up and sort his sheet music, sneaking glances at her smoothing down her skirt, and walking away through the Music Studio door.

Saturday

“Jeez, bro, your hand’s looking a bit red.” David accepted the last of the joint and put it to his lips, inhaled deeply, and flicked the roach away. “What kind of exercises were these?”

Toby leaned back on the grass sward, trying to enjoy the last of the day’s sunshine. “Stretching exercises. I’ve got these small hands and keep stuffing up the piece I’ve been working on.”

David snorted. “Oh, that ‘piece’. You mean Simone.”

“Shut the hell up, David.” Toby closed his eyes and pictured Simone, the highlights in her hair, the smoothness of her face. “You don’t even know what you’re you’re talking about.”

“Sure I don’t. I saw you shoot up your hand to be her performance partner so quick you almost disconnected your shoulder. Everybody saw.” He made a kissy face. “Ooh, Simone, I’ll play with you anytime.”

“Shut...”

“I’ll tickle your ivories, baby.” David made some truly disgusting slurping noises.

“...the hell...” Toby sat up, picked up his pack and made to throw it at David’s head.

“I’ll play your mouth organ.”

Toby stopped mid-throw. “What does that even mean?”

“Damned if I know. Sounds pretty obscene though. Mate, you gotta give up on that one. Simone is so far up herself she whistles in stereo. You wanna get that girl out of your head. She’s harshing your musical zen.”

Sunday

“Play it to me,” said Toby’s mother, “play me this problem piece.”

So Toby played it, from the beginning. The first part went beautifully, even the rather complicated trills he’d spent quite some time getting down pat. The second part, more complex still, with its arresting syncopation, fell vanquished before him. Though Toby tried to push Simone out of his mind and focus on the score, the third part came to its usual crashing halt as his fingers scaled the musical mountain, rising and rising in intensity, only to fall at the final hurdle, the bum note lingering like a fart in a church.

“Something on your mind?” asked his mother

“No, it’s just my hand is too small.”

“Hmmm. There’s something my mum told me. She used to say ‘Nobody ever won a prize for keeping a secret’. Anyhow - stick at it it, you’ll get there.” She kissed him on the forehead as she left. Toby resumed his practice.

In the kitchen, her husband asked how it went.

“I think I got the message across,” said Toby’s mother.

“Did you ask about the paper?” Toby’s dad pointed at the crumpled page of refill he had found, the word “Simone” emblazoned in Biro across it in a variety of typefaces.

“Didn’t need to,” said Toby’s mother.

Day Zero - Monday

“Don’t do that,” stage-whispered Miss Armitage from the teacher’s table.

“Sorry,” said Toby, unclasping his hands. Simone frowned at him and the prickles of anxiety rose across the nape of his neck. His dry mouth made him wish for water. His bladder made him regret that wish. He’d tried to get Simone alone, to talk about things, but she’d had double physics. And now, seated on the piano stool, there was no more time to do anything.

Toby and Simone began to play.

The first part went well, Simone’s staccato string picking complimenting Toby’s runs. The second had a moment where Toby’s page turner, James from the year below, almost turned over two pages at once, but he noticed his mistake in time and both Toby and Simone reached the end of the section successfully.

The third section began and Toby, confident in his knowledge of the opening, dared a look at Simone. Her arm moved quickly, sawing the bow back and forth while her spread fingers stabbed at the strings. There was the slightest, almost magical, glow of perspiration on her forehead.

Toby returned his attention to his keyboard. He had the piece practically memorised after so many run-throughs, so he willed himself to focus on the music, the sensations at his fingertips, the sounds of his piano and Simone’s cello drawing together, the way each note and chord followed the previous, the way the patterns resolved, made sense, told a story.

So involved was he that he barely noticed the finale had begun. When he did, he felt panic flicker inside him, as he followed the score across its tumultuous, treacherous, roiling seas, but he squashed it into an invisible ball. Then, on the verge of cresting the final wave, he stretched his small hand to the limit of its breadth and pressed a black piano key.

Unfortunately, it was the wrong one.

Simone looked at him, her face inscrutable, as her bow drew out its final note.

The same note.

The sounds of two instruments hung in the air together, perfectly in tune, until they faded away completely.

Tuesday

“So, I was thinking about it over the weekend,” said Simone, sitting on the wooden courtyard bench as the basketball team frolicked dexterously before them. “You always seem to hit the same note, and even if it’s the wrong one, at least it’s in the right key. So I planned ahead. Couldn’t let my favourite piano player suffer alone. I mean - they’ll notice we fluffed it, but we’re bound to get extra points for teamwork.” She smiled at Toby.

Toby didn’t say anything, but his hand in hers felt entirely the right size.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.




Junior Has the Spirits
(835 words)


*snip*

See Archive

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at Dec 30, 2015 around 17:04

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



1101 Words

Janne navigates the labyrinthine halls with the pomposity of the victorious Theseus. She needs no string, no breadcrumb trail to follow, in this, her celebratory exit. Janne’s haughtiness is justified; the minotaur is dead, left bloody and carved within a maze of her own creation, a two thousand word analysis of the Greek classics in Mr. Hartline’s Enhanced World Literature class.

Janne thumbs the screen of her FocusOn, hovering over a triumphal ode from her favorite custom playlist, The 4.0 Mix. Once her finger presses play, the device automatically adjusts her music appreciation levels, boosting her rhythm comprehension and melodic interpretation neural pathways to preset levels, before beaming the song directly into her ear canal.

On her way to Enhanced Math, Janne stops to wash her hands, and in the restroom, girls dressed in suburban-couture preen in the shadows of their own reflections until the warning bell urges them on. They remain undeterred.

Janne recognizes one of them, Sarah Melick, a pretty girl with the plumpest lips she’d ever seen. Years ago, the two were classmates, before Janne’s mother scored the promotion to VP and decided that yes, a FocusOn was worth the pricetag. Janne lingers by the sink, watching her former friend flick black minerals along her eyelashes. Sarah was never going to light the world on fire, Janne thinks, before sadly wondering if all dumb girls are vapid.

Janne arrives with a minute to spare and settles into her desk. Before she can tell the music to stop, an advertisement, sharp and cacophonous, kills the tune and edges her impulsivity levels by one notch.

“Sweet Dreamz, the world’s number one game, now available on FocusOn devices!”

On her device, polygonal candies bonk the heads of unsuspecting trolls and goblins, sending dazzling particles flying offscreen. Janne sighs loud enough to catch the attention of Lisa Maravich, her plain jane desk neighbor.

“Has this caustic malaise befallen your FocusOn?” she asks whilst flashing the screen to Lisa.

Lisa just gives her a look and says, “I think you need to dial down your English settings.”

And Janne has to remind herself that Lisa is one of the slowest students in the Enhanced Academics Program.

“Anyway,” Lisa says, “I use Manage Mind. It doesn’t have wifi, so I don’t get ads.”

Janne hammers on the close icon at the top of the ad, but the screen doesn’t respond until seconds later, when the image disappears in fractured quadrants. Janne selects the mental acuity adjustment app, needing to set her levels for the next course, but the unit is unresponsive.

“Okay students,” Ms. Hollis announces as she distributes worksheets to the heads of each row, “complete the warm-up, and I’ll collect the papers for a grade in five minutes.”

Janne looks at the warm-up activity. It’s only Algebra; she knows this, but with her English acuity maxed, Janne’s brain is a one-way express train, speeding away from any mathematical junction and leaving all numbers and symbols in the blurry periphery.

Next to her, Lisa Maravich scribbles intently.

“Four minutes remaining,” Ms. Hollis announces.

Janne checks her FocusOn and, finally, the acuity adjustment system greets her. She drags the English slider to her normal levels, but the lagginess of the device and her heavy thumb drag it far lower than what she’d intended.

“Dang,” she mutters.

There isn’t time to wait for the device to catch up, so Janne slides her thumb northward, trying to move past the History, Geography, and Geology settings to Mathematics, but still the FocusOn chugs.

She taps the screen in her frustration, inadvertently moving the General Knowledge slider several notches lower.

“poo poo,” Janne laments, “loving ad.” She taps Lisa Maravich on the leg. “Can you please help me with this poo poo?” Janne asks.

Lisa Maravich recoils at Janne’s touch and only shushes in response, “I’m trying to work.”

The paper is filled with letters, numbers, and symbols that Janne is sure she comprehends, but working through the problem, only one step, stated at the bottom of the page, is clear to her. Solve for X.

“Three Minutes!”

Lisa Maravich is a bitch. She’s always been a bitch. A stuck up, broke rear end, affirmative action, poser bitch, with her low-rent, government sponsored, Manage Mind. Janne knows this, and notices that Lisa wears the same dingy, band hoodie every day. Then, Janne wonders why a broke bitch like Lisa was ever admitted into the EAP program in the first place.

Janne leans across the aisle, “look, Lisa, this loving thing isn’t working, like, at all and-”

“Miss Stenson,” her teacher begins, “is there a problem?”

Janne bumbles, “my FocusOn isn’t working and it’s making me feel bad and-”

Ms. Hollis stands from her desk and approaches Janne’s row and says, “those sound like excuses, young lady.”

“I know,” Janne responds lamely, “can I at least take a moment in the bathroom?”

“Not now,” her teacher says. “Two minutes remain!”

Janne sinks into her desk, pressing the tip of her pencil against the page impotently. She glances to her neighbor, trying to parse the symbols from Lisa’s page. Janne copies what she can before Lisa notices and flips her warm-up sheet over, which sends all of Janne’s blood rushing to her face in embarrassment. Cheating off Lisa Maravich, she thought, how sad.

Janne recreates the remaining scribbles from Lisa’s sheet to the best of her recollection and carries the paper to Ms. Hollis’ desk along with her hall pass. Ms. Hollis looks the response over, after shoving her rimless glasses up the bridge of her nose.

“Really? This is nonsense,” she says.

“I don’t want to puke on the floor,” Janne responds.

“Pen?” Ms. Hollis asks while holding open her pudgy hand.

In the hallway, Janne feels a vibration in her pocket. Her FocusOn is illuminated, a message on the screen: Battery Critical- 2% Remaining: Saving All Systems Before Shutdown.

“loving great,” Janne says.

Janne doesn’t use the facilities; instead, she locks herself in a stall and cries. The thought of returning to that hostile place kills her.

The tears do a number on her eyes, and while Janne is carefully drying them, she remembers a tube of gifted lipstick in her purse and wonders how it would look on her warm skin. At least Ms. Hollis couldn’t tell Janne that she chose the wrong shade of lipstick.

She gets it.

Next to the shade of Vanilla Rose, Janne finds the charger for her FocusOn. Minutes later, Janne restores her settings and looks into the mirror and flashes a pale pink smile. She knows that sometimes a hard reboot is necessary.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Holes (1097 words)

Something is eating Laura alive. This morning, she stood at the bus station until every bus had come and gone twice and a driver she'd never seen before hopped down from her seat and asked Laura, "Honey, do you need me to call someone?" Overnight, the thing in her head had eaten the memory of the bus she'd taken to campus for 12 years. "No," she said, so sharply that the driver shook her head as she turned away. The Thing wanted Laura to cry, or scream, or throw herself to the ground. Instead she called Theo, and when he asked why she needed a ride to campus, she told him that she just wanted to see his handsome face again. The tumor wouldn't say that, Laura thought. So it must have been me.

The tumor likes the taste of names. Sitting in the department head's office, smelling on his breath the onion bagel he always eats for breakfast, she remembers the title of his last book but not what his mother calls him. If she must, she decides, she'll just call him Dr. Larkin. She published her dissertation before he left high school, but he won't notice the irony. He makes his grad students call him Doctor, she remembers, and wants to laugh. Or maybe it's the Thing that would have her laugh in his jowly face instead of later, at home, over dinner with Theo. "Let me get right to the point, Laura," he's saying. "What the hell is going on in English 104?"

Laura searches her lacework of a memory. English 104 is her freshman literature survey, her single class in her last semester. "You can't just give up that easily," Theo said, when she told him she was retiring. "Congratulations," said the other adjuncts, incuriously. They don't know about the Thing. After hearing that for the tenth time, she snapped: "How old do you think I am?" The Thing has made her skin dry and her eyes glassy. She looks in the mirror and thinks to herself, hag. But Larkin (Roger? Robert?) is looking at her expectantly, and she needs to decide what Laura would say.

"Learning, mainly," she tries. Before the last syllable leaves her mouth, she knows that she's let the tumor speak for her again. The Laura who faithfully taught English Lit every semester for 16 years, never asking for so much as a faculty parking spot, is not a sarcastic soul. Quiet, yes, bookish, romantic, even, given to quoting her favorite novels unattributed. Stubborn, maybe, but not nasty. But the day before they found the tumor, she and Theo had such a fight that he slept on the couch for the first time in 22 years. About what, she can't remember: the Thing took that memory too. Every time she speaks it's there, now, trying to speak for her. Irritability. Mood swings. Changes in personality.

Larkin isn't smiling: he prefers people who let themselves be trampled. "Hah," he says, but it isn't quite a laugh. "Well it does seem, Laura, that there are many unhappy students in this particular class." He clears his throat. "So I've heard."

The tumor hasn't swallowed Don DeLillo, or The Razor's Edge, or "Why I Live at the P.O." Laura still remembers every work of fiction she's taught. She can still lecture, although every week lecturing feels a little more like flying a plane: she has to stay above her stall speed or risk crashing. But what of it? She never used to teach from notes, and now she does. Is it a crime, though, to go from extraordinary to ordinary? So what else has changed? Only everything, she thinks. The first time she taught a class, she wasn't so naïve as to think that she could change her students: grad school had taken care of that. Nonetheless, over the next 40 semesters, she had abandoned more ideals than she'd ever known she had. A student lied about his mother's death, and Laura stopped believing excuses, but on Larkin's orders, she didn't stop accepting them. A student complained about her grade, and Laura changed it, and went home and cursed herself but didn't change it back. A favorite student copied her term paper from a dusty old journal in the library, and Laura quietly stopped letting herself have favorites. But she remembers a conversation with Theo in the oncologist's waiting room, the same day that she decided that this would be her last semester. "I think I had it right to begin with," she said. "I'm done managing students. One more semester, and I'm going to try just teaching them. We're just going to read books well and talk about them."

The funny thing was, it worked. At home, the Thing swallowed her soul by inches. She'd find herself looking at her wedding album, unable to place the people standing next to her in the pictures. Or she'd catch herself in the hallway with a box of Band-Aids and a fleeting feeling of inexplicable urgency, and Theo would have to tell her, hours later, that he'd cut his thumb peeling carrots. But in front of her classroom, the Thing was silent, and Laura herself could speak.

And now there have been complaints.

Larkin is talking again. "...don't know how to calculate their grades..." she catches. "...more information about what to expect on the final..." Laura has had a headache for the last six months. "And are you not using the standard Freshman Lit syllabus? Because we've standardized it for a reason..."

Laura is staring at Larkin, she realizes, with a look on her face like her life is ending.

"...very unusual to hear this sort of thing about you, of all people, Laura, after so long with no issues," he says. He peers at her. With uncharacteristic gentleness, he adds: "is everything okay? Is there something new going on that I need to know about?"

Laura thinks, for a moment, about those 40 semesters of teaching. She imagines that the Thing is thinking too, in some dark corner of her brain. It would make an easy scapegoat, wouldn't it? Wouldn't it be simple enough to blame this last semester on the tumor in her head? After all, hasn't she been different lately? Who becomes an optimist at 47?

"Nothing's wrong," she says, and stands up, looking down at ruddy, self-satisfied Larkin. She doesn't know what she's going to say until she says it, but when she does, she's pretty sure it's Laura speaking. "I just think you're an rear end in a top hat."

She smiles all the way home.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Attention, students! You'll get a zero if you don't turn in your papers within one hour!

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



Soul
1097 words

I didn’t notice anything weird was going on in choir class because I was busy trying to figure out if Kirstie liked me.

I didn’t notice some notes were in different places or that the other kids were hitting strange octaves when they sang. I didn’t notice that Mr. Cosgrove was taking notes, though later, I was told, he had been. At the time the kids thought he was just grading their performance.

I was stuck on the Kirstie question those days. She had a way of taking up all my attention.

“When girls headlock you and pull your hair, it means they like you,” Myles said. I had left out in telling how she punched my arm and it really hurt. I was pretty sure that as a boy, I wasn’t allowed to feel pain.

Kirstie was an enigma. Short-cut hair, boy clothes, and an attitude that adults described as “precocious”. But I thought maybe her viciousness was a defense mechanism. When it came to grades, she made us look like kindergarteners and we all knew it. She was probably just striking first.

So Myles stopped talking about Battle-Yos long enough to say, “here comes your girlfriend,” and before I could react she’s struck again, the headlock ninja. Ripping at my hair like a native savage in a pulp western.

But instead of a war cry, she sang this old song. Years later I looked it up. It’s a soul song, 1960, The Miracles.

Don’tcha know I sit around with my head hanging down…

And her voice really was beautiful. It sounded like lemonade tastes, lemonade on a hot day with just the right amount of sugar.

But all I could focus on was my hair being ripped right out of the follicles.

When I got home I had my mom shave my head. “It’s the new style,” I told her.

That was about when everyone’s grades started going up. Everyone’s but mine.

Most parents were thrilled, but a few were skeptical. “Myles has been a D student his whole life,” his mom said. “Let me see those tests.”

“Then she said I was cheating,” Myles sid. “How could I possibly know how to identify the Hecke algebra of a reductive group using the Satake equivalence? I was like, no biggie, mom. Hey, check out my new technique. I make it hover above my opponent before aerodynamically driving down in a Kesa-giri cutting motion.”

“Use it on Kirstie,” I said. Kirstie had adapted to my shaved head by wrenching the headlock into a stranglehold.

Don’tcha know I sit around with my head hanging down…

“I am forbidden,” he said, “to use a Battle-Yo against an innocent.”

My dad wanted to know why my grades weren’t going up. I told him it was a battle to get out of bed, that the walk to school felt like I was making it through molasses.

“Kids these days,” he said. “What tiny problem is flummoxing your overemotional adolescent brain?”

“Girl trouble,” I didn’t say.

I spent a couple of weeks alternating between headlocks and the guidance office. In other classes I stared at a fixed point on the ceiling, because all I saw when I looked around were kids pointing and laughing, and when I was looking in her general direction, Kirstie tying an imaginary noose.

And in choir class she pierced through the chorus like the Sword of Skelos through the wizard Zafra. The other kids would all falter, crack, gasp for breath, but her voice poured into my ears and sloshed around in my brain.

Finally Mr. Cosgrove asked me to stay late. Kirstie slammed into me as she filed outside.

“Is something wrong?” he asked, scratching his unkempt grey hair. “You’re not even trying to hit the high note in the seventh bar.”

And I couldn’t keep it in anymore. I told him that every day I wished I hadn’t woken up. That I would rather be anyone else. I said that eventually I was locking myself in my room and never coming out. I told him how when Kirstie tortured me, she sang some dumb song that even my parents had probably never heard of.

“Did you say she sings?” he asked, his eyebrows creasing.

I nod.

“I told them,” he said exasperatedly. “I told them the risks.”

I asked what he was talking about and he gently guided me out the door.

The next day I told Myles I wanted to get into Battle-Yos. Did he have any he could spare?

“I just won this one off a a kid from a lower grade,” he said. I could tell he was excited to have someone else to talk about the sport with.

I took it from him.

“It’s one of the heavy ones,” he said.

I didn’t know any special techniques, but I figured I could just brain her.

She was sitting under the shade of the apple tree at the far end of the schoolyard. As I walked up to her the early autumn wind felt cold against my scalp.

When she saw me she started singing.

And I wonder, who is loving you?” she sang, higher pitched than normal, but still lemonade. Freshly squeezed.

And I saw rainbows bursting out from marshmallow clouds. The apple tree waved at me with a friendly smile, eyes and mouth hollowed out in the bark. Pixies were dancing around me, giggling, sprinkling me with magic dust, protecting me from bad things.

“I’m sorry,” Kirstie said.

I dropped the Battle-Yo. The pixies gathered around it and started talking excitedly.

“Uh,” I said, “what’s happening?”

“If you hit the right frequencies,” she said, “the human voice can stimulate neural cells to behave in certain ways. That’s what we’ve been doing in choir class. That’s what I’ve been doing to you.”

“Do I have to keep shaving my head?” I asked.

“Go away,” she said.

I left her the Battle-Yo. When I looked back she was playing with it.

“You gave it to your girlfriend,” Myles said. “You're such a chump.” A pixie sitting on my shoulder laughed.

Kirstie eventually told someone that Mr. Cosgrove was conducting weird voice experiments with his choir. “What a nut,” my mom said when the story came out.

I wasn’t so sure.

I’m still not sure. I work in integrated marketing now, in a cubicle, one of hundreds on the floor. The company installed speakers in the ceiling, the sound carrying throughout the whole space. Every day, from morning till night, the radio blares the latest pop hits.

Productivity is up.

Benny Profane
Feb 23, 2012



http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?...n+Value+Theorem

Benny Profane fucked around with this message at Dec 30, 2015 around 19:35

ghost crow
Jul 9, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Losertown (1101 words)

Claudia was beginning to regret her choice in using ghosts for a primary source. It was amazing how long they could talk once such inconvenient needs such as breathing were out of the way. The one in front of her had been talking for close to an hour. He didn’t seem to notice she had stopped taking notes ten minutes ago.

“You see it was completely unfair. Bringing dragons to a war, who have ever heard of such a thing? Very ungentlemanly I say –“

“I think that will be enough for today.” Claudia interrupted. The last thing she needed was for him to go on another tirade about the drat dragons. “We can continue tomorrow at the same time if that’s alright with you, uh, Gligor…”

“The Terrible. Gligor the Terrible.”

“Right. Gligor the Terrible.” She wrote the name at the end of her notes and closed the notebook pointedly.

“Well alright then.” He looked disappointed, or at least as disappointed as someone could look with an axe in the middle of his face, but dissipated without further argument.

Claudia sighed and rubbed her eye. Close to five hours in total listening to bitter droning ghosts and she still was only halfway through her history thesis. This better get her graduation with honors.

“I don’t know how you can listen to those old gas bags without falling asleep.”

Claudia jumped in surprise and looked up at Alicia. Alicia’s antennas waved in amusement as Claudia glared at her.

“Oh don’t give me that look. Come on one eye we’re going to be late for alchemy.”

Claudia stood up and groaned as she flexed muscles tense from writing notes for hours.

“I’m going to die of boredom and become a ghost myself if I have to listen to much more.” She admitted.

“I don’t know why you couldn’t do your history thesis on something normal like magic law or dragons.”

“I wanted to do something inventive. Nobody thinks to write about the losers in history.”

“Gee given how bitter and boring the losers are I wonder why no one wanted to write about them.” Claudia rolled her eye but didn’t say anything as she followed Alicia to class.

****

“Come on just go up and say something to him.”

“I don’t want to. It’d be too embarrassing.”

“Oh come on he’s just Jeremy not the freakin’ lead singer of Spook Boys.”

“He doesn’t even know I exist Alicia, what’s the point?”

“Well how is he supposed to know who you are if you don’t at least try to talk to him?”

Claudia remained stubborn. It’s not like he would even give her the time of day even if she talked to him. Jeremy was popular and did cool things like get his horns pierced and spell his eyes to change color depending on the weather. Claudia was just…well Claudia. Better just to try and forget about him.

Later though, when she caught Sarah Mantell and Jeremy kissing in the courtyard outside the alchemy classroom, she felt as though someone had punched her in the gut.

***

…The battle of Dagor’s Keep was a turning point in the … and was the first time a king had ever employed dragon mercenaries in a war against a neighboring kingdom...

What did Jeremy even see in Sarah? She wasn’t particularly smart or interesting. She wasn’t even that pretty.

…I have decided to concentrate on the testimony…writing down for the first time the oral history of the ghosts who fought and died on the wrong side on that fateful day…

Sarah thought she was all that because her parents finally got the money to remove that witch’s hex from her nose. All she did was preen and show off how normal looking her face is now. She was, in Claudia’s informed opinion, deeply boring.

…Gligor the Terrible questioned the ethics of using dragon mercenaries in war, calling it ‘ungentlemanly’ and ‘unfair’…it is important to have a multitude of viewpoints in historical discourse…

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that boring Sarah got Jeremy. Claudia got perfect marks. She was slated to go to one of the best magical academies in the country when she graduated high school.

It wasn’t fair.

***
“I mean really Sarah doesn’t even look that much better with her new nose anyways. Personally I thought the pig nose suited her.” Claudia said before she bit into her sandwich. She sat with Alicia in the shade of their favorite tree on campus, where they always ate lunch.

“Uh huh.” Alicia said noncommittally, crunching seeds with her mandibles.

“I mean at least she wasn’t a stuck up bitch with her old nose. Who does she think she is, thinking she is good enough for Jeremy?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Claudia frowned. “You don’t sound like you care very much.”

Alicia clacked her mandibles in frustration. “Witch’s tits Claudia why should I care? You didn’t even want to talk to Jeremy and now you’re angry because he’s with some other girl? All you’ve been doing the past couple of days have been bitching and moaning.”

“You’re supposed to be my friend. You’re supposed to care.” Claudia said bitterly.

“I am your friend. But it’s hard to listen to you when you’re going on like…like…”

“Like what? Like a loser?” Claudia got up and threw her sandwich in the trash.

“Claudia I didn’t say –“

Claudia was already gone.

***

Claudia didn’t talk to Alicia for days. Instead she holed up in the library to work on her thesis every free moment she had.

Her head filled with the words of fallen soldiers, bitter generals, anguished knights. She felt like she understood them. It was hard being the unnoticed ones, the ones people don’t write books about or care about.

I wonder why no one wanted to write about them.

Claudia shook her head. Alicia didn’t understand. She had no reason to be bitter, she would never be alone like Claudia was.

One day at the library Claudia fell asleep. She dreamt there were a line of ghosts, and she was at the front. She spoke bitterly to the student in front of her.

“It’s not fair, Sarah was a stuck up bitch, it wasn’t fair, why should she get Jeremy…”

Claudia jerked awake in cold sweat. poo poo. Had she been that much of an rear end? She hastily gathered up her things and left the library.

***

The next day Claudia stuck her chin up and walked through the halls. She stopped in front of Jeremy and stuck out her hand.

“Hi I’m Claudia, we have alchemy together.”

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


New Year, new thread!

Killer-of-Lawyers fucked around with this message at Jan 4, 2016 around 17:53

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013



This Ceramic Sunset's For You
1051 words


The portal flash outlined Jude’s surroundings for a split second before it faded, leaving only the ghost of light in his eyes and the darkness around him. He paused. Closed his eyes. Inhaled his first breath from the new world, the first breath any man had ever taken there. His friends back at the university would have mocked his sentimentality, but even after a year as a grad student, the job still hadn’t lost its idealistic sheen.

Jude still remembered his fascination with space when he was young, fervently memorizing constellations and nebulae in the hopes of visiting them, one day. Remembered the day he had torn down a childhood’s worth of NASA posters down from his bedroom wall when news of the very first portal spread, and the recruitment drive for the world’s best and brightest to map them out began.

After one last moment’s reflection Jude opened his eyes and switched on his environmental suit’s flashlight. Basking in the moment was all well and good, but there was work to be done. He walked carefully, the light revealing cavern walls around him, thankfully with even footing all around. Portal technology had progressed far enough to avoid spitting explorers out inside a wall or fifty feet above the ground, but there was nothing stopping the careless from proceeding to stumble off a cliff afterward.

You could easily pinpoint the moment where Jude transformed from an average student to one who aced every exam, spending late nights chaining himself to his studies: during the world’s first livestream of a portal expedition. The new world was beautiful and still; the air free of birdsong and buzzing insects. Jude saw the untouched forests, spread for miles in every direction, and pledged to himself that he would step foot there, one day.

The cave floor gradually began to slope upward, and Jude adjusted the heavy pack on his shoulders. He was there only to take some initial readings, in and out quick before the day was done. Thousands of explorers like him were sent out to thousands of new worlds at any given day. With infinity before you, why waste time familiarizing yourself with every inch of a new world before moving on? The next one could have everything you were looking for within sight of the portal, after all.

Unsurprisingly, the prospect of literally infinite resources had every government, every corporation in the world scrambling in what was to become known as the “parallel race”. Even with the required knowledge, however; the materials required to construct and control a new portal were so prohibitively rare that only the most well-connected institutions could even hope to get their hands on one. The portal at Jude’s own MIT was one of only three in the entire United States.

Jude squinted as the cave began to brighten. Though he was momentarily blinded by the light streaming through its entrance, it still came as a relief to him. No known explorers had ever been lost to anything except their own careless mistakes, but the same quiet that was soothing in the morning light was unnerving in the moonlight. Jude could never stop himself from expecting a twig to snap, a bush to rustle, any sound that would announce the fact that he was not alone.

After all, for all that was unique about the new worlds, they all shared one thing in common: no forms of fauna had ever been discovered to inhabit them, nor had any traces of previous human habitation been found, apart from an occasional lead that without fail turned out to be the result of a poorly thought out student prank.

As Jude drew closer to the entrance, he noticed the light begin to flicker in an erratic fashion, far more than could be attributed to the movement of trees in the wind. The closer he approached, the faster it flickered; until it vanished with a final flash, leaving him momentarily stunned.

When the stars in Jude’s eyes cleared, he looked up to see that daylight was not at all what he had first seen. The sky was black, the ground barren and rocky, featureless plains broken up only by the mouths of other caves. Strange, glowing wisps littered the world, floating in the air seemingly at random.

However, as he watched, it became clear that the wisps moved with purpose. Some would lazily circle around one another; others would dance intricate circling patterns in the sky. Taken as a whole, it was a never-ending blur of motion, a light show more beautiful than Jude had ever seen in a planetarium.

His first instinct was to rush back to the university and immediately report his findings. Jude would become famous, the man who discovered the first known life on another world, the man who paved the way for every single scientific advance to follow. He would fulfill the dreams of his younger self, live up to the ambition that drove him to that day.

Before Jude could turn to rush back to the portal, however, the wisps as a whole began to move, leaving him transfixed. One by one, they ceased what they were doing, hovering in place. Then, as a whole, they shot up into the distant sky, gathering together, joined by a countless stream of wisps that stretched across the horizon. Soon, every wisp had found its place, leaving only what appeared to be a dim sun in the sky. Jude bathed in the light of the most beautiful thing he had ever witnessed.

Right then, he decided that he would never tell another soul what he had seen, or do anything that would put that living sun at risk. Jude dreamed of being an explorer, never a Columbus. He had nothing but faith in his fellow researchers, but eventually, word would spread. Someone would get careless. The sun would fade, never to shine again on that particular chunk of the universe.

Jude sighed. The report would be easy enough to falsify. After all, who would ever expect an explorer to lie about not finding anything of use? With the daily hurricane of reports, no one would give his a second glance. After one final glance at the sky, he turned and left the untainted world behind.

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Ask me about being the most Magnificent Bastard in EU4 Multiplayer.

To Hell With The Laws, Away An Bile Yer Heid
997 words


He ambushes me in a quiet corridor halfway through my lunchtime circuit. He is not supposed to be here. I know all the nooks and crannies of this place. I know the disused classrooms, the forgotten cupboards: I know the traffic patterns, their ebb and flow plotted against time. Nobody is supposed to be here. He opens his mouth and utters the worst three words in the Universe.

“Martin, let's talk.”

I've tried talking. If it had worked I wouldn't have spent my six months here perfecting my circuit. Words are weapons, that's all. I like to tell myself that I am ahead of the curve in knowing that. I should be grateful for the chance to learn it so young.

I say nothing.

“I'm not going to give up, Martin,” Mr. Doe says. He smiles, I think, under the thick teacher beard. “I'll get you yet.”

I'm out of options. I mumble, I nod. Same as last week. It seems enough: my English teacher strides off, his sharp shoes shrieking on the burnished marble. I'm not going to join Mr. Doe's creative writing society, no matter how many times he asks. I have enough problems. I want to go home, back to reading Asimov. The Three Laws don't apply out here.

I hunch down under my oversize blazer with the red trims and resume my course, accelerating.

#

Mr. Doe delayed me by ninety seconds and I pay for it. Lunch Group Three intercepts me outside the Latin block and this week's call goes up. I walk faster but I can't outrun sound. It's Wednesday, so the chorus is getting tighter, the tune taking shape.

“Negative, negative negative. Negative, negative negative!”

I try to ignore it. After all, they're right. I've been reading Hawking. He talks about feedback loops. The appearance of negativity makes me a target. Being a target causes negativity. Appearance begets reality; reality begets appearance. It's just maths. I'm good at maths.

I shouldn't complain. It's only words. This is a posh school. Where I grew up the playground argument was 'my da can batter your da'. Here, it goes 'my father could buy your father'. He probably could. I don't have a right to complain. I'm here on a scholarship. I should be grateful. And now I know: words are weapons.

I pass through the doors and exhale. All clear. You'd have to be real negative to hide in Latin block during lunch. I find my way to the storeroom the janitor never locks. It stinks of ink and the yellowing of paper. I have a little chair built out of old jotters. I curl up and pull out my lunch.

There's a knock on the door. I freeze. If they've found me-

“Martin?” It's Mr. Doe. He's following me. It gets worse when they take an interest. He opens the door and looks down at my nest. “Nice place you've got here.”

I open my mouth. “I know what you're gonnae say. That you'll talk tae them, and anyway it disnae matter because kids who work hard at school get tae run the world.”

He crouches down beside me, clearing a space. “No,” he says, “I'm not going to tell you that. You're not stupid.” He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a book. The name on the cover is Michael Doe. I realise teachers have first names. “All I'm going to tell you is - to hell with them.” He shrugs, and tousles his unkempt hair. “Don't tell anyone I said that.” He passes the book over. “It's not great, but it's mine.” I take it.

He stands back up. “I'm not going to make you come to the society,” he says, “but don't let them decide for you.” He steps out, and closes the door gently behind him.

I grew up on everything. I read the newspaper, I tore through the post. I devoured my da's old books: science fiction; historical; pulp; yellowing on shelves and in boxes and in cupboards and behind the sofa. Stashed in the bathroom, piled on the stairs, hidden under the sink, I consumed them all.

Now, I read Mr. Doe's book. It's okay. There's a hero, and a villain, and a plot and a goal. The usual, but this time it isn't something that I've found. It's something that's been made. The words do things, for reasons. I turn pages. With effort, I force myself to slow down. This isn't something to scan. It's something to read. The bell rings. Maths.

To hell with Maths.

#

Salvor Hardin, Asimov's Foundation hero, first Mayor of Terminus and master strategist, once said: “an atom-blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways.”

It's Thursday. I'm not on my usual circuit. I pass Modern Languages and a crowd comes down the stairs ahead of me. I'm out of position. The laughing starts, and the taunts go up. “He's going to ignore us,” one drawls. “That's the sensible thing to do, isn't it?” Guffaws. Only posh folk can guffaw.

“Get tae gently caress,” I say, and the crowd goes wild. It's the moment they've all been waiting for.

“Fight! Fight!” They've never seen a fight in their lives. I suppose I'm meant to bring them one. The mob shifts, and a circle forms around me. I walk straight through it.

I pull a book from my pocket. Asimov. It opens on another maxim of Hardin's: “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” I carry on. Catcalls and jeers fire all around me. They miss.

I walk through the chaos of lunch hour. The Latin block swarms with Year Twos heading out to freedom. I open the storeroom and walk in. I wedge a broom under the handle, sit down, and pull a jotter from the stack beneath me. If I'm going to Mr. Doe's creative writing society, I'm going to have to bring something. So I tell a story. It's not great, but it's mine.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


Ovum
(1,090 words)

Her lecture hall was packed again. Professor Rhys knew that by next class, it would be half-empty. The students weren’t here to learn the Genetics of Caudata Reproduction; they were here to gawk. At her.

So what if I’m a freak show, she reminded herself. Only the research matters.

The humidity rose as more and more students crowded in, moisture evaporating off their bare, slick skin. They wore nothing except maybe a few gold rings on their long padded fingers, but Rhys wore a rust-colored scarf slung across her hips and it chafed against her damp skin. Most Caudata thought the scarf just another part of her strangeness. Today it hid the bandages that caught the periodic bleeding between her legs. Would it come this time? It wasn’t consistent anymore.

Rhys scanned the auditorium. Mostly students from the four Major Clans of the Caudata—giant families, each member related in a web of parent, offspring, cousins. The Clans were proud of their heritage, perhaps inordinately so. Olm, Kappa, Shrove, Kokartus. They could afford the most food, so had the most children, so could afford the most food again. Over time their lineages dominated the egg pools, and by extension the empire.

Rhys pulled up the first slide: a stylized diagram of a Caudata ovum.

“This is how every Caudata life begins,” she said. She pointed first to the lone set of chromosomes on the right side of the ovum. “The individual’s DNA,” then to the comparatively huge cluster on the left, “and the Lineage DNA Cluster. Chromosomes from every parent in the direct line of the offspring.”

In the diagram, the number of lineage DNA strands had been greatly reduced for clarity. Otherwise, even with a Minor Clan ovum, the Lineage DNA Cluster would have overwhelmed the entire screen. It was a nightmare to untangle, even with their most delicate instruments.

“When spawning is triggered, a strand from the Lineage DNA cluster combines with a strand from the Individual DNA to create the Offspring DNA. That is the scope of this class, understood? We do not cover the division of cells to form the egg sack, the deposit into the egg pools, squirm-form competition, evolution phase, none of it. Two groups of DNA, combination, new DNA. Any questions?”

“I have a question, Human.” The voice slid lazily from the back of the classroom. The classroom was suddenly perfectly silent, but Professor Rhys didn’t let her irritation show. There was always someone who tried to throw the name, if it was a name, in her face. The word written on the cryochamber in the rusted-out piece of space scrap they’d found her in. Who she was, what she was, no one knew. They’d let her pick a Caudata name when she passed her primaries, and she had. She did not, obviously, have a clan name.

“It’s Professor Rhys,” she said, feeling her calm slip a little as she examined the student who spoke. Same pink blush around the gills and three-dot pattern above the right ear. A second later and her netlink confirmed it, Dela Kokartus, offspring of Professor Naish Kokartus. As if dealing with the professor at the Funding Meeting tonight wasn’t bad enough. Rhys wondered if Naish had put her up to this.

“My parent says you only have your own DNA inside your eggs,” Dela said.

Professor Rhys froze. There was an audible gasp from the rest of the class, and a few students even squeaked. What Dela said wasn’t just an insult, it was unthinkable. It was also—or at least had been—confidential. She supposed her reaction had already confirmed the truth. Rhys sorted through possible responses. Wringing Dela’s fat, slippery neck kept floating unhelpfully to the top.

“This is a class on Caudata Reproduction,” she finally said. “Not my own.”

“I don’t think you could teach that one, Professor Rhys,” Dela said, chuckling.

Rhys was grateful none of the other students laughed.

***

Rhys sat at the Funding Meeting, barely hearing the other speakers, focusing on not banging her knee against the table as her leg bounced nervously up and down. Time to present her research proposal. She believed an existing technique could be modified to transfer a strand of DNA from one ovum to another.

“Why in the blazes would anyone want to do that?” Naish Kokartus exclaimed, her face turning dark blue. Professor Rhys rather liked it that color.

“It would allow you to create a much deeper and stronger pool of Lineage DNA,” Rhys explained calmly. She had been planning this pitch for months. “Instead of being limited to the DNA passed directly from parent to offspring, you could contribute material selected from especially strong cousins, for example. It could significantly increase offspring chances of surviving squirm-form competition.”

She looked at the members of the Funding Committee and let out a relieved breath. Several were nodding, clearly thinking how they could use this technology to their Clan’s advantage. Professor Svad Bedeguar, an overeager physicist from a minor clan piped up.

“Could this be used to transfer DNA between different clans?”

Rhys felt her heart sink. Why did the idiot have to ask that? “Possibly,” she hedged.

Suspicious murmurs rumbled around the table. None of the Major Clans wanted a Minor Clan gaining access to their genetic material. Then, Rhys saw the nasty gleam in Naish’s eye.

“And what about you, Human?” she said. “Do you think you could finally spawn?”

Everyone stared at her.

“Thank you for the presentation,” the chairman said, before Rhys could answer. “We’ll inform you of our decision.”

***

Rhys walked back to her room on shaky legs. She sat in the examination chair as it automatically recorded her weight, pulse, blood pressure, and dozens of other measurements. She allowed her finger to be pricked and blood samples to be taken. They were labeled, ticketed, and sent off to someone else’s lab for someone else’s research.

She went to the toilet and unwrapped her bandages. Only a few spots of blood. The blood had something to do with it. She was running out of time. She put on a fresh wrap and set down at her large netlink screen. She looked, for the millionth time, at the blown-up image of her torso, of that strange, empty pocket inside her lined with blood. An egg pool inside her, she thought. She zoomed in to the single tiny ovum, floating in the vast emptiness, and inside, only her. A spaceship with a single passenger.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Control
1070 words

The great war began when German was ten years old. It ended five days later with the destruction of the defense fleet and the devastation of every planet in the system.

The war was over, but small groups organized pockets of resistance. Not on the planets against the occupiers directly; that would be suicide. But above. They were developing a new weapon, madmen putting their lives at risk to fight for an ideal. And they were desperately scouring the population for people with certain abilities. German joined them at fifteen, as soon as they would take him. When he was young and eager.

The rebels were searching for controllers, able to withstand rigorous training due to high physical demands and years of conditioning. He was chosen for this first group to receive training as a controller.

German spent hours every day reading the reports and technical schematics sent to his comms device. The drills and testing continued even now, here in the rear end-end of the universe, and they were graded by some off-world bureaucrat functionary who had never met him or even knew his name.

He had a bank of screens to watch and control with multiple inputs. He would control one at a time, with simple commands: turn, thrust forward, back, fire. But the system adjusted to a change in focus in a split second. Just focus on a different drone and it occupied his awareness, he had control of its systems, saw what it saw.

“Go here. Take out that beacon.” The voice of his instructor rang out hollowly in his helmet, disembodied and squeezed dry and dusty from the static of relativistic distortion. He thought, once, and the craft fired. The beacon blew up into a glimmering spray of shrapnel. “Good job—now bring it home.”

He set them on a return course to the relay point. It would be a week or more until a supply craft or larger ship would arrive, or cross their path, and recover them. They could lie in wait, deactivated in small near undetectable line across space, monitoring and lying in wait for unaware enemy. But then they would need to scramble many eyes to control them—hence his class.

He moved to another drone and the previous dropped back to AI-assist. It could follow simple orders, fight back if attacked, but not smart enough to make detailed plans or fly complex paths. Too rigid. That’s where the controllers came in.

The first drone was set off on its new trajectory. German pulsed through each of his group in turn to head them towards their new targets. Then he finally shut down his console. The whirring fans stopped and he sat for a moment in dark silence.

Then he opened the hatch and stepped out into neon-drenched smog.

He walked past rows of shops closed for the night. A few eyes stared at him from above paused broom handles.

German looked in noodle shops and barbecues as he walked past. So far, all he passed were closed. It must be later than he thought.

He had no one to talk with, anyway. He had nothing in common with the locals. He barely spoke the language, and they were mostly afraid of foreigners. He was warned not to speak about his work or the training. The force just provided the apartment and this control site, tucked down in between two squat concrete buildings.

His stomach growled in anger as he reached his apartment. He had no food, and no way to get any here.

That was exactly why he had been posted here, because the area was so undeveloped: nothing to interfere with control signals from the planet’s surface. The program was a secret, training carried out from obscure isolated locations to keep it secret and minimize damage if any member was discovered.

It was his fault his storage cooler was empty, of course. Feeding himself, keeping it stocked and supplied from the weekly provided funds, was his own responsibility. But he still wasn’t used to such a sleepy town.

He popped a tranquilizer and climbed into bed. Sleep was slow in coming and he slept in fits.

He was interrupted before dawn by a message on his signal watch. He activated it and brought up the message.

GET IN NOW

---

He climbed into his seat in the rented room and took a few seconds to try to rub the sleep from his eyes. He popped a stimulant gum tab into his mouth. Then he turned on the console. A dozen screens flickered to life.

His training instructor was already on. His pockmarked face glowered out of the comms screen. “German – there you are! We have a problem. We lost contact with two of your units. Can you reach numbers fifty-nine and twenty via the relay? The moon is probably too far out of range.”

“Yes, Chief.”

German tried to reach them. He went through the list until he found one of the missing craft, then the other. He couldn’t see or feel anything wrong with them.

“Got them.”

“Are they near the others?” The instructor’s face looked pensive.

He scanned the space around one, then the other. “I can’t see any of the others.”

“Do they have the same heading?”

“They should. I gave the same target coordinates...” He looked around. Something felt off. He jumped to one of the others in the known group to confirm. “No. No, these stars are different.”

“German, send me complete star charts from each vessel. We need to get this fixed fast.”

German sighed. It was going to be a long night.

---

His communicator buzzed with a message from another student. Era. He hadn’t seen her since the initial training on his homeworld, months ago, since he was posted here and she was sent to Delta B. “Is everything all right?” she had written. He didn’t want to answer. He turned over to try to sleep.

The communicator buzzed again just after he dropped off. “COME IN NOW” was all it said. He flung it out the window. Most likely it would shatter on the cold ground below.

He had been saving most of his funds for months. Enough to take him off-world, somewhere he could lay low and hope not to run into any familiar faces. Except for one. He just might head for Delta B.

But first, he would sleep.

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

The turtle moves.


Fun Shoe

You are Mine

Prompt: Foreign Language Class

Words: 1101


Look at your pale, lovely fingers; you've chewed your nails to the quick. Nasty habit, but I won't judge, because I love you.

Look to the teacher, the learned one, the one speaking so gently, so kindly to you and the others. He looks like such a dreadful man, with his pale skin and greasy black hair, but his smile is genuine, and his voice is warm and sweet. Like honeymint tea.

That reminds me! You had quite a bit of it last night before bed, didn't you? I remember. You sat there in your cold little cell, candles guttering in the draft, your eyes narrowed in the near-dark of the room as you studied and read aloud those obscure little symbols on the parchment. That was kind of the professor to loan it to you, wasn't it? You're his favorite, yes you are, and that is why I've come to you!

No. Don't open your mouth. Sit and be a good girl. Be quiet; the lesson continues. It would be rude to interrupt the professor. What was his name? Remind me, girl.

his name is coal professor jeremiah coal coal-black pitch-black full of hatred full of hatred god help me

Oh! And to your left! That's Tommy Payson, isn't it? You're sweet on him, yes you are, yes you are. I remember you crawling beneath the tattered sheets on your straw-stuffed mattress and whispering his name under your breath as you sinned, but that's all right, because I forgive you and I love you.

You're frightened, aren't you? Of me, the little voice in your mind? It's all right. They're all afraid at first, but soon they realize they have nothing to fear -- only the unloved fear.

And you are loved.

You were falling behind in your grades, were you not? And you were so scared your father -- ever the proud baron -- would bring you home to face the lash if you failed, weren't you? Professor Coal sympathized with you -- he truly is a good, kind man and he saw your potential.

That's why he gave you the "tutoring," why he taught you those special syllables, and how to speak the sounds of the letters on that old, old parchment. Never you mind what the words mean, girl. It's enough that you said them.

And yes, those words were written in blood. The book those pages were torn from was written in it entirely, in fact, and some of those pages had some intricate illustrations -- and it took a lot of blood to ink them indeed. Whose blood was it, you might wonder? Nobody important. Nobody loved.

Nobody like you.

Turn your gaze about the room. Look at the other students.

oh god help me monsters they're monsters they're rotting their skin is sloughing away i can smell it i can taste it i want to vomit

Swallow back the bile, girl. It's all right -- you're seeing them as they truly are. They're rotten inside, yes they are, and you and I will clean them. Even little Tommy, with his cornsilk hair and ocean-blue eyes and milk-toothed smile. You want him, but he is rotten and he is unloved and he will be first.

Look to Professor Coal. Smile back at him and nod your head. Nod again.

Good girl. You are loved.

We begin tonight.


***


"Janette," Tommy says, delight flashing in those pretty blue eyes you worship, "I didn't expect visitors tonight. Please, come in!"

Yes, go into his chamber. It's much nicer than yours, isn't it? He's low-born, the son of a trader and a traitor -- a smuggler of goods to your father's enemies -- but he has money. Dirty money. Gold coins soaked in blood.

Put down the tray. Offer him the larger mug, the steaming one. Sweet honeymint tea, spiced with the herbs I had you gather during your walk, the ones you couldn't touch with your bare hands.

"Tommy," I say through your soft, pretty lips, turning them into a comely smile, "I've watched you since the day we met in Coal's class -- your skill with tongues is amazing!"

Look at him! Look at his expression! The incubus reveals himself! See how he leans toward you, filthy lust plain on his low-born features. You are the daughter of a baron!

"I'm a bit of a cunning linguist." Such an awful joke, but you will smile anyway. He takes a sip from his tea and sits upon his bed, bidding you to sit with him. The stink of his growing need comes from him in waves. "Did you come for some... tutoring?"

Nod now. "Professor Coal taught me how to say these words, but... I don't know what they mean." He sees the parchment in your hand and creases his forehead.

"...and I shall welcome Him so that I might prepare sacrifices for His rebirth," he translates. Oh, see his wanton expression melt into sweet, sweet fear! "God above, Janette, did you actually say this aloud? This-"

"Finish your tea." I shall allow him a glimpse of my true shape -- a gift.

You see it too, don't you? See how my flesh flows over my bones, the writhing of millions of delicate parasites gratefully chewing at the ever-renewing decay, and the gentle, warm flickers of light in my hollow eye sockets.

god help me it's inside me it's inside me writhing eating rotting it hurts it hurts IT HURTS

I am the Angel of Renewal, girl. The dear professor was my last disciple. But now I have your flesh, and you will help me sacrifice the sinners and wretches of this school, and I will lead the chosen into salvation.

Ah, little Tommy has ceased breathing. Those blue eyes you loved so much have filled with blood until near-bursting, and that fair skin is now deathly pale, save for the swollen violet boils along his neck. And that tongue! He'll make no more foolish double-entendres with that pustule-ridden appendage!

Kiss his forehead, girl, and gather the mugs -- don't spill the larger one! -- and we will take them to the kitchens to be washed. Thoroughly. Tomorrow we will take more lives, and I shall grow stronger, and then I will grow within you.

Soon I will have no more need of you, girl. But you will still be loved. You will still be very, very special to me.

I love you, mother. I love you.

And soon you will love me, too.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Submissions for Week CLXV: Back to School are now CLOSED!

When the last bell rang, Broenheim, Ironic Twist, Mercedes, Froglight, Echo Cian, Ovaltine, and Illuen were nowhere to be seen. I fear the zeroes they've earned will tank their GPAs, but at least the professors' pens have plenty of fresh, red ink. Broenheim, you have two hours to meet your before I call the truancy officer.

We'll now retreat to the teachers' lounge to decide which of you deserve to pass. Expect the bad news no earlier than Monday night, quite possibly on Tuesday.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


Flash Rules: Chemistry, has to have a chemical that my characters share but isn’t commonly shared by people (or in this case, atoms).

Words Count: 1047

How Argon Lost His Nobility, Then Himself

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?...2C+Then+Himself

flerp fucked around with this message at Oct 19, 2015 around 06:43

Froglight
Oct 4, 2010





Ugh, school is hard.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Thunderdome Week CLXV Results: Back to School

The good news, class, is that most of you rode the tepid middle of the bell curve. That's also the bad news. More stories were unremarkably bad than unremarkably good, and almost all were as exciting and memorable as a bowl of white rice. Thank heaven for bright students who enjoy casting everyone else into the shade.

THE WINNER AND TEACHERS' PET: Dr. Kloctopussy! Report to the Dean's office! Thanks to your skillful rendition of a stranger in a strange land, you'll have a teaching role next semester--God help you.

THE HONOR ROLL: God Over Djinn, who captured academia and explored the silver lining to a slow death, and Screaming Idiot, who took Foreign Language in an unexpected direction and experimented with narrative voice to some success, earned a B+ each.

THE LOSER, WHO MUST SIT IN THE CORNER WITH A CONICAL CAP: Why, Fuschia tude? Why did you blow your original flash rule off completely? Why did you fumble your second flash rule by leaving why German was in trouble unclear? Why, oh, why did you try to rewrite Ender's Game?

IN DETENTION: Your twist ending left two of three judges cursing your name, Jocoserious. We encourage you to enroll in the next semester and use your not-that-bad sentences to better purpose.

There goes the final bell. Enjoy your vacation, however long it lasts!

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Oct 7, 2015 around 03:08

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


Prompt: Comings and Goings

Life is full of entrances and exits. People walk into our lives, or we walk into theirs. We arrive. We leave. Some movements are insignificant, some earth-shattering. And you never know which is which until it's too late. Unless, of course, you know sooner.

quote:

Door: Why it's simply impassible!
Alice: Why, don't you mean impossible?
Door: No, I do mean impassible. (chuckles) Nothing's impossible!
― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Your story this week should be about comings or goings. (Surprise!!) Or both. Meeting/Parting. Birth/Death. Opening doors/Closing gates. Interpret broadly and let your imagination wander.

Additionally, for every entrant I will draw a 3 card Tarot spread. The traditional reading of this spread is 1) Past 2) Present 3) Future, but that's not how things work in THUNDERDOME.

Your starting word limit is 1250 words. You must use at least one of your three Tarot cards (in its drawn orientation) in your story. If you use two, your word count is increased to 1350. If you use all three, it is increased to 1500. Use of cards can also be interpreted broadly, but honestly tarot cards are pretty broad already so that shouldn't be much of a problem. Be sure to tell us which cards you used when you post the story.

I'm giving a brief, generic interpretation of each card, taken from here: http://www.biddytarot.com/tarot-card-meanings/
If you want a lot more, check this resource: http://www.learntarot.com/cards.htm

As always, I'm more interested in good writing than in weighing exactly how much you used a rule, but you can't just make a half-assed reference to a card to get more words. You're going to be significantly better off writing a tighter, more focused story than trying to add something irrelevant for 25 words to get another 125, right? You have to really embrace the card to make it worthwhile. Please don't just write extra bad words

quote:

Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
― Anais Nin

Also, this will be my last Thunderdome until I finish the novel I am working on, so everyone join to make my life miserable while you have the chance.

quote:

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel:
Sign Up: 11:59 PST Friday
Submit: 11:59 PST Sunday
Word Count: 1250 - 1500
Judges: DocKloc, Broenheim, sebmojo

Welcome to Danger Friend Thunderzone:
Morning Bell
Meinberg
curlingiron
ZeBourgeoisie
Obliterati
Thranguy
krona_bright
SkaAndScreenplays
Sitting Here
Tyrannosaurus
worlds_best_author
Chairchucker
HellishWhiskers
Lazy Beggar
Screaming Idiot
Entenzhan
Killer-Of-Lawyers
Boaz-Joachim
Jonked
RedTonic
Jocoserious
Schneider Heim
Wingless Wonder
Nika
Benny Profane
Grizzled Patriarch
Fuschia tude
Ironic Twist
Dmboogie
ghost crow
fumblemouse
Baudolino
CARRIERHASARRIVED
Bad Seafood
Ravenkult
Kaishai

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at Oct 10, 2015 around 07:07

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

judgeburps:

school sweating & crushes week crits

1st- too much telling, too short, not enough answers, not enough uniqueness. Premise could have been interesting. you don’t get an extra 250 words. bad investment. shoulda shorted yourself.

2nd-allegories don't really work when you tell me exactly what it is. Personified nostalgia could have been done better and more subtly.

3rd-you seem to use words that aren’t quite right. did his helmet really FILL with sweat? or was it just kinda sweaty inside? a lot of your sentences have this weird quality. like you’re trying too hard. this story is bad. are you benny?

4th-wtf is with the weird tense here? it’s in past, past perfect, with a smattering of “today,” etc. it’s weird. also this story is weird. i don’t like it.

5th-jfc what is with all the sweat this week? exposition is purple, dialogue is laughable. thanks m knight shyamai hatedlan. you took a boring story that was basically a prolonged description of a nervous kid and then went HA IT WAS MLK THE WHOLE TIME. plz die. I wanted this for the loss, so count yourself lucky. it was very close.

6th-i’m not sure what this is. it is pretty bad though, but if writing experimental poo poo that is bad is a sin, then i cannot cast this stone.

7th-is this at hogwarts or something? wtf are the bigs and the tinies? why is it relevant? what’s with all the poo poo about a cat? this is one of your “not good” stories. the dialogue is pretty boring too, especially toward the end.

8th-take a step back from your story and look at it as a whole, instead of the words. do you see any patterns? Almost all of your sentences are “clause, clause,” and all of your paragraphs (at least the first 2/3rds) are the same length. It is very monotonous and really starts to just kind of bleed together. it’s very hard to read and keep paying attention. I’m a fan of simple sentences, but this is a little overboard. furthermore, i’m just reading like “ok he’s going to go talk to some beast below” and that’s all i know and it’s really not enough for me to keep reading paragraph after paragraph of him going down into a cave. i just kind of skimmed and got to the end and it looks like a cheesy joke? i hate this.

9th-your first sentence imagery confuses the gently caress outta me. u know tsunamis don’t crest, right? anyway some parts of this are good, but it suffers from “how did the main char bring about this ending at all?” nothing he did really mattered, ‘cause she handled everything. he just kinda creeped on her while she fixed poo poo.

10rd-nice vignette, too bad it doesn’t really go anyway. it’s a good intro to a story i’d read though.

11th-i want to like this, but i feel like the overall story is a little lacking. a girl learns to… embrace materialism? has she never gone without her focusOn ever? just feeling dumb made her realize that makeup is cool? overall, what is the big change here, what is the main reason for this story? cause it got lost in the details, but still, this is the best thing i’ve read so far this week probably.

12ith-”The tumor likes the taste of names.” is the best line in your story and you should have opened with it imo. mainly the first three paragraphs are very concerned with making sure i know she has memory loss and a tumor. there is also quite a bit of telling. you can easily show mood swings/irritability. that big fat paragraph speaks to me. ha. i like this story for what it is, but i think it could be better. the parts i like are the internal monologues that actually contribute to the feelings of losing herself before she had the tumor, and finding herself with it. you spend way too much time on symptoms of the tumor that could be spent on showing me how she interacts with people and how people interact with her. I wanted this for the win, but it didn’t happen.

13ve-i don’t really understand what was happening in this story.

14st-ha. well, you met the gently caress out of the prompt. your dialogue needs to be edited to be snappier, and more focused. lose the lame jesus joke, cut out a lot of the interjections, and you’d have enough words that the ending didn’t come so suddenly.

15th-you met the prompt, but man am i just sick of crush drama this week. the premise is serviceable, but the execution was pretty dull.

16st-what a weird, pointless story. also engineers and interns aren’t really school based...

17nth-ok? this is like slice of life in an explorer. the fact that he’s at a school seems shoehorned in, as getting an education doesn’t seem to really fit in with anything about the story. then he’s just like “oh cool, guess i won’t tell people about this.” the end. it’s all world building, and very little story.

18nd-i want to like this, but don’t have the mental wherewithal to understand wtf is going on for parts of it. is he like, autistic or something?

19th-interesting, and i’m all for all the science poo poo, but it wasn’t clear enough on why she didn’t know how humans worked and why she was even a prof there at the lizard school. 100% A+ pandering tho.

20rd-what.

21th-ok. this is boring at the end. but up until that point you had my intrigue, and i was really hoping you’d go somewhere neat with it. instead it felt like a disney villain or something. other judges liked it more than i did, but tbh i was just happy to be done with the week.

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Prompt: Write a story that doesn't suck

That's an unreasonably difficult prompt.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


bye

anime was right fucked around with this message at Oct 27, 2015 around 06:00

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

School Week Judgeburps: I Don't Know, Either


Trade-Offs

I… guess this was okay? I dunno, I really didn’t care about anything that was happening. I had some minor pathos for the girl the main character was watching, but the model/academic stuff made no sense. The climactic scene didn’t really land, and your ending was pretty “eh,” but you… Had stuff happen, I guess? IDK, man.


1087 words

This was weird and creepy, and not in a good way. Also, you apparently couldn’t decide if middle school was two or four years long (it’s three years long, for the record, even if it’s the junior high model). I couldn’t tell if you were going for scary or poignant, but you failed at both. Also, your dialogue is bad and you should feel bad. Just because the kids clutter their actual speech with “like” does not mean that you really need to put it in there. I voted to DM, but was overruled.


Covering the Spread

I… don’t get this story. I’m sorry. I also really, really don’t care. This was confusing and hamfisted. Everyone in your story was either awful or incredibly gullible. Sometimes both!


Roses

Your character is a stupid caricature and I hate this story. Not even a story. Barely a vignette. I don’t care about this, but in a bland and apathetic way.


Flame

Oh my god, loving twist ending I HATE YOU SO MUCH. HATEHATEHATEHATE

To give you a little more feedback, you're a little clunky, and the twist ending is an easy mistake for a newbie to make. I think that if you clean up your act you'll do fine in the Dome, you just have some common errors to mend.


June 3rd, 6th Period

Okay, gonna come clean, I knew this was you, sh, despite judgemode, mainly entirely because of THE POD. Specifically, how I told you that you should write about THE POD in irc.

I’m probably biased, but this story made me laugh, and made me feel better after a lovely week/weekend/evening. It’s fluffy, and dumb, and I like it. I also couldn't make it through 10 minutes talking to kids about an experiment involving bouncy balls without losing my poo poo laughing, though, so maybe take that into account.


What Tinies Do

Technically, physics is applied calculus, not geometry, but there’s quite a bit of trig in there, too, so I’ll let this one slide.

Okay, this is a pretty classic example of “thing happen, so what.” I guess there’s something going on with Bigs versus Tinies, kind of like the Borrowers or something? I don’t know, I think you really overreached on this one, and it didn’t much work out for you.


Graduation

I liked the ending on this one. Your prose in general was pretty okay, but at times seemed somehow both flat and overwrought. I didn’t really feel Eric’s fear at all. This was the first story with an odd premise this week that I was into, so good job on that. I would have liked to see a little more emotion out of this, but otherwise a reasonably solid piece.


Practice Makes Perfect

P. sure most cello players don’t wear skirts for exactly this reason.

I actually like this, but I think it lacks a little bit of magic for me. I dunno. Good job with writing an actual story, though.


Junior Has the Spirits

These are some really, really good words. I wish that you had written an ending to go with them. Or a narrative arc.


LESS-THAN-OR-EQUAL-TO-SYMBOL-STORY

Hmm. Okay, I see what you were going for. I don’t hate your story quite as much as I did before I finished, BUT (and this is a very hard but, much as I am a hard rear end) your story has no point. Literally, these were just some words about TECHNOLOGY. I’m not even sure I completely get what you were trying for at the end, there.


Holes

I liked this one, although it seemed short. The sentence about compromises we make as we continue teaching really resonated with me; I am guessing you have either taught, or are close to someone who has. I would have liked a little more out of this story, but it was strong for this week (which, to be fair, isn’t saying much).


Soul

Yo, “headlock” is not a verb, fyi.

Uh. Hm. I don’t know about this. You’re doing that thing again, where you go for the big, weird ideas, and it isn’t quite landing, although this is still a far cry from the weirdest poo poo you’ve done.

Yes, spectres, I could tell this was you. To be fair, I’m pretty sure that it was because of your flash rule, but once I figured that out it was obvious.


Mean Value Theorem

I probably should have warned everyone that if you got a math flash rule and your story conflict is that Math Is Hard, I will likely look disfavorably on you. It’s not your fault, really, it’s just that it’s easy; math is the Subject that is Hard. Everyone knows that Math Is Hard, and there is clearly Nothing That Can Be Done for you if you are Bad At Math.

Easy.

...Although I do enjoy that your rugby player understands the MVT.

Anyway, personal vendettas opinions aside: this wasn’t much of a story, was it? Same issues as several others: what is different at the end of the story than the beginning? What have we learned here?

I mean, besides some stuff about calculus from Wikipedia.


Losertown

Hmm, okay, this is a cool motif. I don’t love it, and it’s a little loud in it’s axe-grinding, but it’s decent enough. I will ask you, though - what did their being magical chimera (?) add to the story?


Order of Authorship Determined by Proximity

AND THOSE ALIENS WERE HUMANS!!!



Again, I neither hate nor love this piece.


This Ceramic Sunset’s For You

I HATE to mention this but… How are plants growing without something to pollinate them? You mention trees, but there wouldn’t BE trees if… Ugh, nevermind.

Hmm, but you know, I like the seed of this otherwise. I’d love to see it expanded a bit, maybe some interaction with the glowy wisps. You were close to the wordcount, but not enough to justify the brevity on the important parts you have going here. I wish that you’d spent less time on background information, and more on discovery and interaction with the really interesting part of your story.


To Hell With The Laws, Away An Bile Yer Heid

Hmm, okay. I guess? I don’t know man, everything this week tastes like overboiled potatoes. :/


Ovum

Ooh, this one was pretty cool. I think you did a really good job with a difficult flash rule, especially considering that the way it reads would lead me to very silly conclusions.


Control

What the hell? This didn’t meet either of your flash rules. I see no art, and I have no loving idea why your protagonist is in trouble. What happened? Why? Why would you do this? Whyyyyyy??


You are Mine

This was neat. The tense was a little difficult to parse at times, especially in juxtaposition with the dialogue, but I like the narrator voice. The oral sex joke was poorly placed and somewhat anachronistic for the time period it felt like you were trying for.


How Argon Lost His Nobility, Then Himself

Man, what the poo poo is this. I would vote to DQ you for disobeying your flash rule, since this seemed to be a pretty obvious drug metaphor, but that would require me to actually figure out what the gently caress happened here, and you’re already DQd.

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Yams Fan

In

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011

ICE-MEIN


In

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:


everyone join to make my life miserable while you have the chance.


Never said I never did anything for you.

In!

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ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


George Carlin posted:

... Or you take the bomb and stick it in the little hole in a guy's dick. Yeah, a bomb in a dick! He wouldn't know if he was coming or going!

Also in.

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