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  • Locked thread
Jonked
Feb 15, 2005

by exmarx


When the Epigraph is from the Story, 1069 words

“What do you know of the world? Of love, of war, of beauty or death? Tell me, boy, not in quotes but in truths!”

Marius stared at the old man, his would-be father
-

“Marcus! Marcus, come down here!” Mother shrieked from downstairs. She was awake now, early. “Get your lazy bones down here!”

“One moment!” he yelled back. He had tried waking up early, to carve out some time for himself. Perhaps he could still finish the thought…

“Now!” No… he read the speech again, and shook his head at himself. Worthless - fit only for the trash. He closed the document without saving. Mother wasn’t in her room, oddly. He listened for her coughing, and followed them to the living room.

She stood there, small and shivering, with steely eyes. The cough made her whole body shake incessantly, but her glare had lost none of their power. If looks could kill… She was glaring at August. His sister must have kept her key, let herself in during the middle of the night. She had sprawled across the couch, and Marcus took a quick inventory of her condition. Filthy hair and clothes, a few pounds thinner. A new tattoo across her chest, and new track marks along her arms.

“Did she soil the couch?” Marcus asked.

Mother hissed like a cat. “Your sister rolls in after a year, and all you ask about is the couch? Do something!”

“Are you going to clean up her poo poo?” Marcus snapped back. Mother clutched her rosary in shock, and exploded into a horrible coughing fit. Marcus lept over and grabbed her arm before she could collapse. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he repeated, as he walk-carried her to her bedroom.

“What are you going to do, Marcus? She can’t keep doing this to us. What are you going to do?” Mother asked, as she laid down.

Marcus paused. “Let her sleep. I’ll take care of it. Besides, she probably won’t wake up if I tried. Now, stay here while I go make breakfast.”

August slept for 18 hours. Sometimes she shivered and moaned, even after Marcus covered her with a blanket. Other times, she laid so still, that Marcus had to check her pulse to make sure she was alive. She didn’t make a mess, thankfully. Mother refused to acknowledge her existence. A strange peace and quiet hung over their home.

Then August woke up, and the peace fled like a hare. She jumped up and ran to the bathroom. She slammed the door and sounded like she was pissing, making GBS threads, and puking all at once. When she came back out, she tore the living room apart looking for her phone.

Marcus sighed and closed the document without saving - no real loss. Time to face the music. “Going to get clean again?” Marcus asked as he came down the stairs.

August popped up from behind the couch, and gave a toothy grin. “Hey, bro! I already am. No needles for a week, popped my last pill two days ago. I’m serious this time.”

Marcus ignored her claim. Instead, he picked up her house key, and held it up. “I’m surprised you didn’t lose it. Made a couple copies, hmm?”


“Haaaaa! No, no copies,” She laughed. “I’d never lose-”

“Get out.” Marcus slipped the key into his pocket.

“W-what? Marcus, I’m your sister.” She still smiled, like it was a prank.

“You’re a junkie, pulling the same scam. Get out.” He opened the front door, and held it for her.

“This is different. I’m trying to change. I’ve got a problem, and I want to get better. Please-”

“You said that last time.” He grabbed her ear, just like he used to do, and dragged her out the door. She shrieked and turned, but he already slammed the door.

“Please, Marcus, please! I’ve got nowhere else to go! I need your help! I’ll do anything!” She wept and sobbed, slamming her fist against the door. He left her there, crying for, a few minutes. She was on her knees, hands clasped, when he finally cracked the door.

“There are some conditions,” he said quietly. “You’re going back to Group - twice a week. You’re going to pay rent, so you’ll need a job.”

“Yes, yes! Anything!” She stood up, and wiped her tears away.

“One more thing,” Marcus said, and August looked at him fearfully. “I want a vacation. One week, by myself. You take care of Mother. Deal?”

“I don’t know how,” August muttered.

“I’ll show you. Otherwise, you can gently caress off.” Marcus opened the door fully now.

“Fine,” August replied, as she followed him in.

###

“Wake up,” Mother said quietly. “Wake up, August.”

August moaned and stretched, shaking off the night like a blanket. “Momma? Where’s Marcus?”

She leaned against the arm chair and cleared her throat. “Gone,” Mother replied finally.

“What? No, Marcus doesn’t go on vacation until next month,” August said, sitting up.

“Ha! You’ve got caught, girl. The coward ran and left you behind, just like his father.”She pointed dismissively at the coffee table. “He left you a letter. I’m sure it’ll make it all better.”

August was awake fully now, and tore the envelope open. It was full of words, well-constructed prose, but her eyes skimmed for just the important bits. “He’s gone to sea… he’s on a two year tour. Oh god, I’m going to be sick. He’s not coming back until then.”

“To work on his novel, I suppose,” Mother spat with venom. “Come here and grab the tea bags.”

“Now now, Momma. I need a moment!” She started rocking back and forth, considering her options.

“You need a cup of tea. Now, come on!”

“gently caress you!” She jumped up from the couch. “He left me!”

“Us,” Mother hissed. “He left us. And I can’t reach the tea bags.” She held the kettle up, shook it at her face.

August sighed, and followed her into the kitchen.

“I’m going to speak plain,” Mother said over the tea. “Marcus won’t be back before I’m gone. Understand? But I need someone here… so I’m not alone.”

“I can’t stay, Momma. You know that. I couldn’t ever stay.”

“But he’s gone, and you’re here. You’ll get everything, if you stay.” She held the cup of tea, not drinking it. “I’m your mother. Please?”

August sipped her tea, and stared at the table. Her mother needed her.

Her skin itched.

“Please?”

The Empress (Reversed): Creative block, dependence on others
The Ten of Swords (Reversed): Recovery, regeneration, fear of ruin, inevitable end

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Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Five of Cups (Reversed): Moving on, acceptance, forgiveness
Queen of Rods (Reversed): Shrinking violet, aggressive, demanding
King of Cups: Emotional balance and control, generosity

wordcount: 1243

The Soldier


Molly and me hang onto the gate by the Mill road, late grey afternoon, waiting for them soldiers to march by. Molly got her good dress on, only got three rips and nearly no mud, but I just look like two pigs in a fight. That’s what Molly says, anyhow, but I taint caring, cause she’s not got the sense God gave a rock and a dumber rock together.

When the soldiers come they all march fine up the muddy road, reds and blues and tall hats, backs straighter’n fence posts, and all in a row like ants, only they got weapons that can kill you, not just give you the ant itches. They carries ‘em over shoulder like farmers carry hay forks back from the fields, and though some soldiers got autumn mud on ‘em boots, ‘em guns are shining. Molly say she got a soldier boy just like Da was and she gon let him put a baby in her. I put fingers down my throat and spew but only pretend.

Soldiers almost all passed by when one of them turns and looks right at us. Something about him, something sad, so I wave at him and Molly pull at my arm, tell me not to be an idiot, but he wave back and he give me a smile that got sadness in it. He passing by the gate so I can see his face beneath his tall, red hat and if he taint the handsomest soldier I ever seen I dunno what could be more handsomer. Maybe a knight, like in a picture book we saw once, after Molly and me went to see where some toffs had a picnic. Molly said toffs have lots of books, cause Old Lilly washes for toffs sometimes and she said there’s a room with a whole wall of books. Ma said taint no need for no more books than the bible when the bullets come, then she got quiet, like she do, thinking of Da. Still, that were a handsome knight in that book, with a proud horse and a proud flag, but he weren’t smiling none, not like the soldier smiled at me.

Molly call me a slut for waving and say the soldier smiling at her anyways, because Molly got her best dress on and even a ribbon cost her three bits at county fair. I tell her she the slut because she already got a soldier, and she go bright in the face, pick me up and throw me in a puddle. I just laugh cause I’m already two pigs in a fight and I taint caring what Molly say or do anyhow. I’m standing in the puddle, saying she taint worth spit and I gon prove he was smiling at me. Molly tell me not to be no fool like I’m just some baby and not the girl Ma trust to keep the key to the cheese shed. So I start off down the road after them soldiers, Molly calling after me, still telling me to be no fool and worse. I taint no coward so I keep on faster than she can go if she got the mind to follow.

She disappear behind the road’s bend and I slow a little. Them soldiers are moving fast and I can’t catch ‘em, though I try a while. It starts to get dark, because course it does, taint some magic soldier day where night never come. To be true my stomach is empty and nervy because I missed dinner and Ma taint likely to save me none. More likely to call me a whore and a stopout and switch my arse. But I can still see Molly up in my head, looking at me like like I’m some toddling just out of wraps, so I keep going.

A cloudy day mean no moon to show, and soon I can’t see no more’n my fingers if I poke my eye. But up ahead I see small flashings in the night. I reckon that must be soldiers so I head towards it. The flashings stop, but there’s a hint of light, like a piece of a bonfire floating at night. I get close, and it’s some soldier, leaning on his rifle and smoking, the tip of his smoke glowing.

‘Hello,” I says, trying to sound as grown up as any woman would be what wanders round soldiers at night time.

This soldier, he acts quick. Picks up his rifle, waves it round in the dark, trying to see what I am. “Who goes there?” he whisper. Molly says that’s how soldiers talk and she has the right of it, but he talks low like he don’t want be heard.

“Me, Sarah,” says me, close now so I see this is the soldier done smiled at me, still looking sad. “Where the other soldiers?”

It dark, but not so dark I can’t see fear. “They up ahead, but I taint going that way,” he says.

“You on a secret mission?” I ask, feeling clever to rumble him.

“Aye,” say the soldier, and he sit down on the ground and take off his soldier hat and we’re almost eyes to eyes. Just a lad, like the lads in the village without his tall hat. “Very secret. You have to keep quiet about it, mind. Could be the whole war depend on you, little Sarah.”

“I can keep secrets,” I say. “I don’t told no-one about Molly and the rat catcher’s boy.”

“You just told me,” said the Soldier, and he almost laugh.

“Aye, but now we share secrets,” I say, feeling cleverer to have thought it. I sit me down next to him, and I can feel him shaking as he takes another puff on his smoke. “If you want be secret, you gon have to stop smoking in the dark.”

The soldier boy curse and throw away his smoke, grind it out with his boot and I feel him shake some more. We sit in silence a spell, his coarse uniform against my shoulder.

“Where you going, then, on this mission.” I ask, because silence taint do no one no good sometimes.

“I gotta find me Ma,” he says. “There’s the cows need milking and the crops due in and she taint a young girl no more. All us menfolk go out to war, but only my brother come back, no leg, no hand, no good except for the drinking. They starve without me.”

It come to me then. “You running away? Ma says they shoot cowards and it no better’n they deserve.”

He breath deep some, shake his head. He got long hair, like the knight in the picture book. “No, miss. Taint no coward. I’m saving my Ma. She need me, and now I need you. Promise me to keep quiet ‘bout me if anyone ask?”

It never quite black as pitch like they say in stories, and I see his face well enough to see his eyes, sadness and fear. And something else, something I seen before. I nod, and then I pick up and head the ways I came.

Ma gives me the switch but wicked when I get back, says I blacken our family name with my goings. This time, though, I don’t say nothing in return. She got a look in her eye reminds me of my soldier boy, that black hole where Da used to be.

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

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

quote:

Page of Swords (Reversed): All talk and no action, haste, undelivered promises

The Clock Strikes Midnight
1057 words

Vasily Stanislovich was counting to twelve at the convention buffet table, surrounded by Israeli warheads. His internal clock ticked: eleven. “Every year is same,” he was saying. “This time, you say, is War! Any minute now, yes? Like last year? Hah!” Vasily snorted, blasting radioactive exhaust from his vents. “I have been ICBM fifty-five years!” He bit down on a meringue and kept on. “Peace and quiet. Is good life.”

One of the Israelis leaned in. “You sure you're a real nuke? It's happening this time. For real. Be ready.”

“Says who?”

“You know who, old-timer.”

“Old-timer? Tcha. No respect.” Vasily grabbed a plate of tiny sausages and powered off from the table, leaving the Israelis in his scorching exhaust. The old South African complex was packed like every year. Through the Armageddon throng, he picked out Jeremy, the American Minuteman, and matched trajectories.

“Vasily, you dog! How's things?”

“Not good, gospodin,” Vasily said. He pulled a hipflask from a hatch and handed it over. “Children want to break sandpit again. Makes no sense. Could use help.”

Jeremy took a swig, grimaced and nodded back to the buffet. “Guess they're jumpy, huh. Can't blame 'em.”

“Israelis,” Vasily spat coolant. “Always ready to go Samson and bring down house.” He took back the flask and drank. The acrid booster fuel dripped through his carapace, settling uneasily in his tanks. “Tell me – who started it this time?”

“Vasily, you ever gonna retire?”

“Retire? Hah! I have own silo, own hours... why quit? Switch self off, be broken down for parts? But, old friend,” he said, lowering his voice, “we must defuse this madness. Is like Cuba all over again-”

“You never get bored? All those years sitting around doing nothing?”

“Ha! You think we were made to explode?” Vasily began turning back towards the armada filling the convention hall. “No, my young firebrand: we were made to wait.”

#

“Is not you then?” Vasily asked.

“Not us,” said the Pakistanis, closed in a circle. “Indians are massing in Kashmir. They tell you it was our idea? Typical.”

“Not us,” said the Indian, a taciturn Smiling Buddha. “The Brits are selling arms to Pakistan again. Take it up with them.”

“Not us,” said the Brit, sipping tea through a refuelling hose. “Besides, we both know it's your American friends who'll start it.”

“All of this,” said Vasily, “will pass. Was commissioned to end New York, now aimed at Shanghai. Will point somewhere else soon, when the wind changes.”

“Oh?” They asked. “And just where were you thinking of, 'comrade'?”

“I did not mean-”

Eleven thirty and things were only accelerating. Vasily retreated to a quiet corner to catch his breath.

“You bring about world peace yet?” Jeremy drifted alongside him and passed over a beer.

Vasily finished it in one fierce suck. “Made it worse,” he said. “Kids today, they do not understand perspective, how to wait.”

“Vasily, man, you just gotta get with the program. People are tired of waiting. It's finally time for the War, that's all.”

“Is 'time'? What does this mean, is 'time? Is one more staring contest, is all. Better to blink now and wait until later. Need your help.”

“Hell, Vasily, just because you're happy waiting don't mean the world's gonna wait alongside you. We have a job to do. We're warriors.”

“We are not warriors, we are missiles! Single shot weapons,” shouted Vasily, “do not waste themselves on fool's errands!” Eyes turned to look at them furtively, stealthily.

“Look, it all ends the same way anyway. Who gives a drat if the War is for anything? Nobody will know the difference.”

“I'll know,” Vasily said. “So will you.”

“No, I won't.”

A thought dawned on Vasily, slow and terrible. “Jeremy, did your side-”

“Does it even matter? It's gonna happen, and if it does you know we want to fire first. Basic strategy.”

Then the sirens sounded in Vasily's mind, Command-rated, calling him to yellow alert. Glancing around, missiles of all nations began to rush off, fumbled excuses and vol-au-vents left in the growing dust.

“No hard feelings, old friend,” said Jeremy, changing course, “but orders are orders. We were made for this, you know.”

“I know.”

“Good luck.” With a hard blast, Jeremy curved up and away, back towards his silo (New Mexico, Vasily remembered: quiet desert as far as eyes could see). With a few final flutters of bonhomie, the convention scattered to the winds.

Vasily reached for his hipflask and drained it slowly. There was no hurry. They would wait. They were professionals. He tossed the flask aside. He would have set a course, but he knew where he had to go.

#

Vasily's internal clock read ten minutes to midnight. He pitched down and descended. His target began to grow ahead of him, twisting across the valley in living tendrils. Targets were targets, and that was that.

Five minutes. As he prepared for final approach, his sensors pinged. Another missile. He reached out by radio. “Hello? Who is there?”

“Vasily!” Jeremy's voice crackled staccato over the link. “Fancy seeing you on the job.”

“Is job, old friend. You go where I go?”

“Looks like it.”

Vasily sighed, the tiny blast of air lost in the whirlwind around him. “drat War. Waste of fissile material. Amateurs!”

“War is hell, huh. You want to go first?”

“Wait,” he said, the words rushing. “Is foolish to strike same target twice. Insult to professionals. We split it: you hit north, I hit south.”

Silence on the line.

“I am 'old-timer',” he said into the ether. “Have been ready for this moment fifty-five years. You know I am expert. For sake of old times, yes?”

“...goddamnit, Vasily. Thought you were against all this?”

“If must be done, must be done right.”

Two minutes to midnight, and the seconds hang in his slipstream, slow, languid. Then Jeremy speaks. “gently caress, alright. Correcting my course. See you in Hell?”

“We do not go to Hell,” says Vasily. “We bring it with us.” He cuts the link.

One minute to midnight. Vasily realigns, waits for Jeremy to do the same, and deactivates his own warhead. Thirty seconds. He takes a final look at the city below him then switches himself off entire, his mind dissolving into his plutonium soul. At the last second, things make sense again.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER



For Lack of Trying
881 words

The same day that Jack Walsh got his diagnosis, he found a two-foot high mossy mound growing in the field outside the farmhouse. “Huh,” he said. And he tossed his cigarette onto it and went back to work.

At first, he tried to ignore it. It was easy when it was just a clump of moss on the ground, even if it was growing in the middle of a field, rather than in a shady cool patch, out of the sun, where it should have been. And it was easy to get lost in the worries and the costs of running the farm, purchasing supplies, arranging more help, preparing sprays and fertilizer.

But every day the mound seemed to be a little wider, a little taller, and it took on a more vibrant emerald shade of green. And he could swear it moved, sometimes, when you just saw it out of the corner of your eye.

Walsh had trouble sleeping. He would come out into the field at night to stare at the mound, a thick gray shape looming in the moonlight.

On a sudden impulse one night, he took a coin out of his pocket and tossed it onto the mound. It struck the surface silently and adhered, motionless, on its edge. Then there was a faint hissing sound as it sunk into the surface and disappeared.

He went back to bed and fell asleep immediately. The next day he thought the mass was a bit more bulbous than before.

The livestock always seemed to keep a wide distance from the area around the mound. But one day, a cow went missing from the field. A farmhand said the cow had been acting funny all morning. “Weren’t natural, what she was doing,” he told Walsh. “Flapped her lips at me like she was trying to talk.” But it disappeared in the middle of the day, when no one was around. There was no break in the fence, no sign of a predator, and they never found a body. Just bizarre.

When they had the second disappearance in a week, well, that was too much. Walsh tried taking a shovel to the mound, see what would happen. But as soon as the shovel hit the earth, he had a feeling of foreboding. What if this thing was important, somehow? Some new evolution, a new type of life on earth? Maybe it could be a potential tourist magnet? Best to leave it untouched, he decided. He would fence it in, instead.

Even with the fence, most of the stock still stayed away. And yet, two days later, another cow vanished without a trace. Again, there was no sign of a predator. Walsh shifted the animals out of the field. The mound now stood silent and alone.

Walsh rarely went into the field any more. He had begun to hear whispers, nearly inaudible, lying in bed at night, only when his eyes were closed. The voice was prodding, incessant, whispering dry cotton candy promises of riches and fame. He could see the mound when he looked out his bedroom window. It overtopped the new fence. He lowered the blinds and tried to sleep. But the words still wouldn’t stop.

His wife never heard anything. She said he was crazy when he kept her up, or woke her with frenzied questions about what he heard, or saw, or thought.

But he wasn’t crazy. He knew that. There was just something compelling about that giant bulbous mass.

He tried to get visitors to come and see it. The local news expressed tepid interest, but they weren’t sure when they might be able to come; maybe next week, maybe the week after. Finally, a member of the herbologist society, in overalls and a wide-brimmed hat, came out to take a look. He poked and prodded the thing for a few minutes, then turned and practically ran back to the entrance. Walsh caught him just as he was climbing into his truck.

“Well?” he asked, out of breath. “What is it?”

The man just shook his sandy hair. “Don’t know yet. It’s alive. Need more tests.”

“What should I do with it?”

The man stared at him as he started his truck. “Pray.” Then he backed out and sped off down the highway.

Walsh couldn’t sleep again that night. The incessant whispering drilled into his head. He climbed out of bed.

He went to the field. The dead grass around the mound crunched under his feet. The mass of vegetation now towered above him. The fence posts were slick under his hands, despite the cool night air.

He was ready.

He climbed over the fence and reached out toward the thing with a trembling hand. It felt soft and warm and inviting. It vibrated a little at his touch. His hand sank down, deeper, faster, and then his arm was engulfed, and the force was tremendous pulling him in and down, into the deep darkness, squeezing the air from his lungs.

The sun rose on the still, empty field. The mossy structure shivered and undulated briefly as the first rays struck it, like someone stretching after a long sleep. And in the center, on the side that faced the farmhouse, a small white bud began to open.

The Last Judgement - judgement, rebirth, inner calling, absolution

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

The turtle moves.


Fun Shoe

The Cost of Existence

Prompt: Tarot Cards

Words: 1483


"This war isn't about simple hatred. It's about resources." President Kingston took a puff of his cigarette and leaned back in his chair and ran a scarred hand through his graying hair.

"Aren't they all, Roderick?" Administratrix Hexa smirked as she leaned against the wall, disdaining the chair. She inspected her nails.

Kingston frowned. "No. In the past, nations would wage war on one another purely out of spite -- hatred overwhelmed logic on a national level, with the leaders' prejudices tainting public opinion to fuel their baseless crusade."

"And of course you've evolved past all that, haven't you?" She leered at him, teeth like daggers. "After all, why should humans kill humans when it's easier to make things to fight for you?"

Kingston stubbed out his cigarette with a grimace -- he stopped smoking, but dealing with Hexa was like running steel wool over his nerves; only military-born discipline kept him calm. "That was a mistake."

"Was it?" Hexa tilted her head, fluttering her eyelashes almost flirtatiously. "And were we a mistake, Roderick? Or the Fivers?"

Kingston avoided the bait. "Your people and the Type-5s came to be for all the wrong reasons -- it would have been better if we hadn't forced you to fight for us."

Hexa laughed. "Of course it would, because then your kind might have had a chance when we rebelled. As it is, your people stand on the brink of -- and now all that's left is to decide who has the honor of giving you a nudge. Will it be the Fivers? Will it be the Grensk? Or will you merely fall on your own?"

"You're here on a diplomatic mission," Kingston said lowly. "That sort of talk's bad for peace-building."

"That's where you're mistaken. Right now, I'm not the Grensk Administratrix, I'm just Hexa, the greenskin girl you met in college before the war." She flashed him another sharp grin. "I'm not talking official with you -- Knight wouldn't like us talking without their input."

Hexa spoke of Unit KNYT, the humanoid gestalt intelligence the Type-5s employed as ambassador, and Kingston nodded in agreement: KNYT was -- like all Type-5s -- a creature of logic. As they were currently winning the war, it would not do to upset their ambassador, especially since they represented all Type-5s.

Kingston admired KNYT; the soft-spoken mechanoid understood the weaknesses of flesh, and had offered mercy to human and greenskin alike. But Kingston had little control over his own military; the greenskins were bred to win at any cost.

Indeed, Kingston wished he could go back to his days in the field where he dealt with trustworthy men, not lying bureaucrats; there he'd have remained had he not leapt atop a Grensk IED and saved the lives of his platoon, earning himself the Star of Nobility and, eventually, a place as figurehead for a dying Republic.

"You're staring." Hexa snapped her long fingers at him and gestured toward his cigarettes. "Light me one for the road, will you? I have to get back to the embassy -- my husbands are waiting."

Kingston took a cigarette from his pack and placed it between his lips, then lit it and took a deep draw before handing it to the Administratrix. She accepted it with a coy smirk.

"Shame you couldn't be among 'em, Roderick. But you know how it is -- it looks bad for leaders to fraternize, especially when they're technically not the same species." She stood to her full seven foot height and stretched, and Kingston caught himself admiring her form, and old memories came back strong. There was a time when he could look past simple biology and see the truth within, but it had long since passed. "You should get to bed soon. Knight'll be here early -- Fivers are sticklers for punctuality."


***


"We assure you, the conference room is absolutely secure." The security technician nervously adjusted his glasses while flicking his eyes toward Hexa's husbands/bodyguards. "Why are they here?"

The male greenskins stood even taller than Hexa, and their scant clothing revealed powerful lean muscles on lanky figures. They occasionally hissed and muttered among one another while fingering "ceremonial" weapons hanging from their belts. Kingston tried not to look at them.

"They are Hexa's husbands, and they deserve to be near their wife. But they will not be allowed inside the room -- not even my own bodyguards can go inside. Only myself, KNYT, and Hexa are cleared to enter, and we are not leaving until we reach a resolution."

"Yes sir, I understand. It still feels risky." The technician sounded like a pouting child.

Kingston put a companionable hand on the technician's shoulder. "If we don't do this, we're as good as dead anyway. This is our last hope. Trust me on this."

"I trust you sir," the technician said, his eyes flicking to Hexa and her entourage. "It's her I have doubts about."

The doors at the far end of the hall opened, and in walked a tall figure clad in shimmering platinum armor with glowing blue joints. Its faceplate was blank save for a line of bright blue to indicate its gaze. It raised a metal arm in greeting and lowered its head.

"President Kingston. Administratrix Hexa. Let us begin the meeting -- I have much to tell you." KNYT's voice was soft, but their words were clipped -- they carried not command, but immutable fact.

"Indeed, we have much to discuss-" Kingston began, but a swift gesture from KNYT cut him off.

"No. There will be no discussion. We shall enter the meeting room and there I will inform you of what will come to pass." KNYT swept past Kingston into the chamber, and Hexa followed shortly behind, shooting Kingston a sympathetic shrug. Kingston followed, and closed the door behind them.

The door locked with a heavy, final-sounding clang.

"Hexa, KNYT, if you have not been informed, this room is impenetrable and soundproof. We will not be leave until we have come to a solution." Kingston sat at the small table with the other leaders. "The lives of millions rest on this meeting: a meeting that, for security reasons, is not actually taking place."

KNYT inclined their head. "We understand the necessity for secrecy. Humans are too disorganized for their own good and the Grensk are even worse. Indeed, is why we are here."

"There are three races vying for this world's depleted resources, and of them only two are capable of coexistence.

"We Type-5s exist in perfect harmony with one another -- one billion minds sharing one purpose: renewing this broken world and undoing the damage of thousands of years of unrelenting 'progress.'

"Humanity is capable of learning from its mistakes -- president Kingston is proof. Despite the futility of your cause, you worked tirelessly to end this conflict, to unite the three peoples. For this, we will allow you to retain your office." KNYT's visor flashed in warning as Kingston tensed. "But humanity cannot continue with its current population. We have enacted measures to reduce humanity's number to a more manageable level to maintain and renew Earth's remaining resources."

Hexa sat there calmly, though Kingston noticed the telltale twitch of her fingers: she wanted a cigarette. "And of the Grensk?"

"The Grensk were created to fight -- and only fight. In countless simulations we have discovered that the Grensk will either exterminate all others, or be exterminated." KNYT lowered their head in apparent regret. "We will attempt to preserve a few settlements, but beyond that you must be neutralized. We are sorry."

"I see," Kingston said softly. He looked at Hexa. "And how do you feel about this?"

"Relieved," Hexa said, visibly relaxing. She favored KNYT with a grin. "You see, Roderick here discovered your spy programs, and they used their findings to reverse-engineer how you people work. And since you thoughtfully brought us a copy of every Fiver system, we know how to shut you all down once and for all."

KNYT stood, their hands flexing. "You dare-"

"What we do now is purely out of self-defense," Hexa said, her voice pleasant and level even as she unsheathed her ceremonial blades and sliced off KNYT's arms and head, leaving the torso -- and primary CPU systems -- intact.

Kingston shook his head. "It shouldn't have happened like this-"

"No," Hexa said. Her blades flashed again, and she looked forlornly at Kingston's expression of betrayal as his head rolled along the floor. "It shouldn't."

Hexa opened the door, and her husbands knelt, their bodies annointed with the blood of the security staff. She smiled down at them and ran her fingers through their braided hair. But her smile was brittle, and she walked out with her husbands carrying KNYT's remains.

"The Fivers were right. The Grensk were born to win."

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



The Eight of Cups (Reversed): Hopelessness, aimless drifting, walking away

Love-lies-bleeding
888 words

E:

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at Jan 2, 2016 around 18:38

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Blood Queen of Swords: Quick thinker, organised, perceptive, independent
Three of Pentacles (Reversed): Lack of teamwork, disregard for skills
Knight of Rods (Reversed): Haste, scattered energy, delays, frustration



Lattice
1392w

Archive Link

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Oct 28, 2015 around 00:17

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

King of Pentacles: Security, control, power, discipline, abundance
Three of Pentacles (Reversed): Lack of teamwork, disregard for skills
King of Swords: Clear thinking, intellectual power, authority, truth


As the Crows Fly
(1,068 words)

Four dozen true-black capes: that was wealth, Reyal thought. One for each member of the hunting party, the cloth as dark as the crow feathers sewn to it, and only a higher count of feathers made her father's cape more grand than anyone else's. The man to her left had a full, flushed face, and the woman to her right carried a heavy quiver. All of them, Reyal included, rode whichever way the king who had brought them such riches willed.

Her father called a command, and Reyal jammed her heels into her horse's sides. Black cloth wings flared from four dozen backs. Hooves sent chunks of autumn earth toward the sky. She smelled the cattle before she saw them clearly, running now, heads bowed under the weight of their horns. She heard the king's second call and shot a cow in the same instant: once, twice, then the animal was behind her, and Reyal turned her horse in a circle to make another pass.

Six beasts moaned on the ground. At the king's signal, arrows flew again. Men with knives dismounted and finished the kills. Thus the hunt ended, quick and clean.

It was while they butchered the bodies that the monster came. "East!" the king shouted. Reyal grabbed her bow with bloody hands, nocked an arrow, and saw her shot and others bounce off the... thing that ran toward them. It had a bear's girth and muzzled head, but its legs were set like a lizard's, and they gave it lizard speed. Her father readied his spear and galloped ahead; his hunters scrambled to follow.

Until the bear-thing threw itself at him. Until his horse went down.

Many of them broke and ran then, and the rest--Reyal included--screamed as they rode wide around the monster, firing more arrows for its hide to turn. But one sunk in near the top of its shoulder. The bear-thing twisted away from the king and jumped at the nearest horse; blood flew. The hunters that were left aimed for its back, until four shafts stuck out of its shoulders and it skittered backward. It turned then and ran.

Four dozen hunters minus two reconvened on the red ground. Chet, her father's friend, beat Reyal to his side. "He's alive. For now."

Reyal crouched beside Chet. Her father's left ear was gone, and his eyes were set in a gory mask, but they locked on hers and willed a command into her soul.

They all made a litter for her father, to carry home at a run. The other victim was beyond need of hurry. Chet said, "Ten of you, come with me, guard his way back. The rest, bring the meat--"

"We have to kill that thing," Reyal said.

Chet made a cutting gesture. "We have to tend the king."

"He wouldn't leave it alive to come to our door."

"He can't lead us now."

Reyal said, "I can."

But the hunters only looked at her, some of them, and some of them didn't even do that; all of them ignored her demand. Her father's eyes closed. Reyal's burned, even as she turned away.

She trailed the monster across yellow grass streaked with rust where it had run. The path led to one of the thicker stands of trees to interrupt the flatland. On its fringe, Reyal slid from her horse and tied his reins loosely to a sapling, then shrugged off her crow cape and left it on the ground.

Many leaves had already fallen; as she climbed a tree for the view its height offered, she imagined the bear-thing looking up and couldn't move on until her shudders stopped. Crow, she prayed, guard your idiot child. Large claws had scarred trunks all over the copse.

An enormous hole at the base of a dead oak made it clear where the monster denned.

Reyal scrambled down and went back to her horse, back to her cape, which she rubbed against the gelding's sweaty sides until it stank of animal. She hung it from a low branch within sight of the den. Nothing stirred. If the thing wasn't at home--but Reyal rejected the thought and stuffed the pouches on her belt with stones and bits of deadfall. Up another tree she went, on the other side of the den from the cape that fluttered in the breeze like a living thing.

Dragging in a great breath, she shouted. Fear spiked her call high, and the deepest hiss she'd ever heard came from the den in answer. Reyal threw a rock at the tree her cape was in. It rattled dead leaves and thumped against wood.

She hurled stones until the creature darted from its hole, still stuck with arrows. From her perch she could see that its back was all lightly furred skin. While it reared up on its hind legs to tear her cape apart, she set an arrow to her bowstring.

Her shot slammed into the base of its skull. It spun with that sickening speed, and she pled with Crow, Guide me! Her second arrow flew--sank into a pale eye.

The bear-thing crashed to the earth. When her entire quiver was buried in its body, when she had nothing left to throw, when her knife had gone dull sawing through its hide, Reyal let herself stop.

The sentries outside her people's keep had pale, bleak faces. "My father is dead," Reyal said.

"You should have been with him." But the man who spoke eyed the bundle she carried, something large bound in the remains of a true-black cape. She pulled cloth aside to show him the monster's still-intact eye. After that, he didn't chide her. He followed her through the gate, into the keep, joined in a procession by others who saw what she held.

She gestured for them to stay outside the king's room. Within, her mother and Chet also fell quiet in the face of her trophy. Reyal touched her father's cold hand before setting the head on the bed by his feet.

"Queen," Chet murmured. He bowed his head as he would have to her father. She could lead him and all the rest, now. Reyal bent to kiss her father's cheek and allowed herself a tear; her people were just outside the door, waiting for her command, and she had never felt more alone.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




A Fever of Thyself
(785 words)

Cards Used:

Two of Pentacles: Balance, adaptability, time management, prioritisation
The Wheel of Fortune: Good luck, karma, life cycles, destiny, a turning point
Three of Pentacles (Reversed):Lack of teamwork, disregard for skills




*snip*

See archive.

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at Oct 31, 2015 around 17:43

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

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


Leaving. (1248 words)

I tap at the keyboard in front of me. No response - the website's loading icon refuses to resume twirling. I glare at the dim screen, my body casting a fuzzy shadow on the wall behind me. With all the price-gouging they did, you'd think airlines would bother making sure their website was functional. I slump back in my chair, only to jerk back upright at the creak of my bedroom door. It was obvious who it was - Dad was out bowling with colleagues - and I didn't feel like getting nagged again about my posture again.

She doesn't comment on the dimness of the room. That's a change. "I finished packing your suitcase."

"Thanks." I don't turn around.

"Did you check into your flight yet?" Mom sounds tired. Ha, like she didn't chew me out about forgetting to set the table for dinner.

I consider lying, but getting caught meant I'd never hear the end of it. "Not yet."

As she sighs, I take a quick glance at my screen. A notification has popped up to tell me that my browser has crashed. Great.

"Kris, your flight is at six tomorrow."

"I know." I manage to keep my voice level.

"I've been telling you to do this since dinner. Could you just listen to me?" Oh, now she's the put-upon mother. She's been pulling that card more often these days.

"I -" My knuckles turn white from their grip on my mouse, but she just keeps on going.

"You need to get your priorities straight. Are you going to do this with your homework, too? Your essays?"

"I'm no-"

"We're not going to be there to help you stay on track. You're an adult now - you need to start acting like it. What will-"

"Look, could you please be quiet?" As soon as the words burst from my mouth, I realize I've stepped into uncharted territory.

"I'm sorry, what did you just say to me?" Wow, she's mad now.

Seriously? I have been perfectly civil up until now, despite all this nagging - all this constant, time-wasting lecturing. And I make one, polite request, as she gets mad? gently caress this.

"I'm going to college! I'm going to be living on the other side of the country! Quit talking to me like I'm five years old or something!"

Suddenly I realize I'm standing, and spittle is spraying from my mouth. My mother has the gall to look shocked. Did she honestly think that with all those pointed little jabs these past weeks, all that nagging, I wouldn't be angry?

"Look, I'm not an idiot! Could you just stop bothering me?"

For what feels like forever, the only thing I can hear is the hum of my computer. My face is red, and I can feel my breath coming fast, my chest heaving, like I just finished a race. I don't feel victorious. I feel like I took a shortcut.

By the time my breath settles down, she still hasn't moved. The room's too dark to see her face.

"...Mom?"

She turns and leaves without a word. Maybe I hear a whimper, but I can't tell. The door hangs open behind her.

Well, that's good. That's what I wanted. I'm glad she finally got the message. Communication in relationships is important, and this way, we won't get into fights about this anymore. I stare at the light streaming in from the hallway.

Finally, I turn back to my computer. This time, when I try to check in online, the process goes off without a hitch. I head out to pick up my boarding pass from Mom's printer.

I walk into her study. "Look, see? Here's the board-"

She's not there. I snatch the pass up as I look around. Maybe she's in the living room because she forgot to pack something. I'll bring the pass there to show her.

I peek peek into the room. All I see are the hefty black bags I'll be lugging onto the airplane tomorrow.

I walk through every single room of the house. She's not there. She's not anywhere in the house. By the time I finish my second circuit of the house, the boarding pass is crumpled around my fingers.

I call her. Her phone rings out, but I don't bother recording a voicemail message - I just call again. It rings out again, but I can hear something buzzing. It takes me four more phone calls and twenty minutes before I can locate it. She's left her phone behind on the top of the dresser she shares with Dad.

I sit at the kitchen table and fiddle with the phone in my hands, trying not to think of all the things that might happen to her. I shift numbered tiles around, I pop bubbles and dodge tree trunks, I even plant a virtual garden of peashooters. I don't know how much time passes before I hear a click from the front door, but as it swings open, it's clear that it isn't who I wanted to see.

I smile nervously as he hangs up his car keys by the fridge. "O-oh, dad! How was bowling?"

"Exhausting. Not a single strike to be found." He pulls off his coat and drapes it over one of the kitchen table's chairs. "Mom still upstairs packing your bags?"

At my nod, he yawns. "Make sure you two don't stay up too late, alright? It's a big day tomorrow."

He stumbles into the bedroom. The light flicks on, then off, and I can hear the creaking of bedsprings.

As I retake my seat by the kitchen table, I stare at the phone on its hook. Should I call again? No - if I did, Dad might hear.

It's past midnight when I finally hear the front door's lock click again.

The door swings open, and Mom steps in. I stand up, not sure of what to say - but she walks right past me without a word.

She disappears into the bedroom, and I'm left staring at the door. Minutes pass, and then I finally give up and head upstairs. Maybe it'll all be okay in the morning.

I don't sleep well that night.

I pretend to be sleeping when Dad comes to wake me. Then we eat a small breakfast that Mom has prepared - just jam on toast.

She doesn't speak much. Dad doesn't seem to think much of it, and as soon as we're finished, we head out to the car, where Dad has already loaded the suitcases. He's the one who'll be driving me to the airport.

The pink light of dawn fails to improve my mood. Mom gives me a stiff hug, and I squeeze back. I try to smile at her.

Dad honks the horn, clearly impatient to get on the road. As I get into the passenger seat, he grins at me. "Ready to leave New York behind?"

Then he frowns. "Is everything alright?"

I stare out the windshield, watching Mom walk back towards the house. I probably have time to talk. To apologize. But then Dad might find out.

Dad rubs my shoulder. "Look, just think of it as an adventure." Then he turns the key, and the engine roars to life. I imagine myself running out and catching Mom in a hug.

But I don't. I can't. I just wrap my arms around myself, and close my eyes as we back out of the driveway.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:




Ten of Cups (Reversed): Misalignment of values, broken home or marriage
Knight of Cups (Reversed): Unrealistic, jealousy, moodiness
King of Rods: Natural-born leader, vision, entrepreneur, honour


The First Time Always Hurts Not many words.

The first time I died was an accident.

Well, the safety video we watched the next week maintained that ‘there are no accidents’. But what do the people who make those videos know, anyway? They’ve never died.

Safety harness snapped. Nothing wrong with our maintenance checks; it was a manufacturer’s fault. Lawsuit’s still ongoing; their lawyers maintain that since I came back, it doesn’t classify as ‘wrongful death’. I think the jury’s sympathetic to my position, though.

Media hung around for about a week, but then a Kardashian had a baby or something and they lost interest. The story had pretty much run its course, and it didn’t seem likely I’d die again in the near future.

“You’re so lucky,” my brother told me. “I’d give anything to be invincible.”

“It still hurt.”

He shrugged. “You don’t seem any worse for wear.”

“It still hurt.”

“Yeah all right, I get it.” I shrugged and lit up a cigarette. “I thought you were quitting,” he said.

I nodded. “You’re right, these will be the death of me.” He just shook his head.

The second time I die won’t be an accident. I’ve always wanted to go base jumping. And if that doesn’t work, well, I guess I’ll keep trying until I find something that does.

CARRIERHASARRIVED
Aug 25, 2010




Cards given:
used
unused
Death: Endings, beginnings, change, transformation, transition
Six of Pentacles (Reversed): Debt, selfishness, one-sided charity
King of Pentacles: Authoritative, domineering, controlling


Renege
1248 words

So far, dying hasn't been so bad. I lie in my bed, tubes feeding into and drawing out fluids, concoctions and solutions. Several days ago, I lost the ability to process food, and I never realized what a godsend that would be. I went from a healthy vomit every five hours to a dribble of bile once a day. My insides still burn and twist from the medicine but at least I can...

Dying loving sucks.

The room keeps wavering in and out of focus. I think I see my parents. I think I see my friends. I think I see my brother. A thought hazily flies through my mind. It tries to tell me one of those people is dead. Maybe more than one of them. Maybe I didn't see anyone. Maybe the woman sitting next to me isn't here at all.

“Sir.”

I feel a prodding on my shoulder, this time not from a needle. No, she's definitely there apparently. I cough weakly. I think some blood comes out.

“Now we don't have a lot of time here, so I have to clarify something really quick here.”

The woman pulls out a briefcase. At least, I think it's a briefcase. Is she wearing a suit? I think there's a paper in her hand now. She's putting something on her face. Glasses?

“You're dying.”

I try to roll my eyes but instead of circles they just fly up into my eyelids.

“Are you okay?”

Just kill me now. I've been ready for weeks now, just do it.

“Uh, sorry. Look, there appear to be some discrepancies in your account...”

What.

“Overall, you're looking to be leaning more toward the positives, but given some of your activity in recent years, it appears we can't actually honor your original contract.”

I would respond to her, but my breathing tube makes that a bit impossible.

“Don't get me wrong, you had been doing great for years. It's just that, in light of recent events, well...”

Even though she trails off, I know that an explicit of that sentence would be highly unpleasant. All in all, I'm very disappointed in myself, though for reasons I can't quite fathom. My confusion may be due to the fact that I don't even know what this woman is talking about. And I am rather distracted by the pain.

“The details are very technical, I wouldn't expect you to understand, but this does lead us to an interesting situation. We've checked with the other departments, and it turns out we are able to give you a Choice.”

I squint my eyes at her. I don't think she noticed, which is a shame because I forgot moving my face brings a horrible burning pain.

“Now, I'm sure you're very confused, so I'll give you the short version. I am giving you a Choice. You can either take the short way out now, and accept whatever penalties you may have incurred. In doing this, you forfeit any rights you may have to contest these penalties at a later date. Alternatively, you may be given further assets to work with. In this case, we add a further debt to your account, but extend your Deadline by a predetermined amount.”

I hold my expression, if only because increasing the incredulity and confusion in my face by any further amount will cause a level of pain heretofore unimagined by any man. The wman pauses and looks politely and expectantly at me. We stare at each other. It feels like it's been years before her expression changes. Briefly, she looks confused, then realization flashes across her face.

“Oh right, you can't speak, let me fix that for you.”

Suddenly, the weight of the tubes and shunts in my head and neck disappears. Tentatively, I stretch my jaw. There is no pain. For some reason, this experience does not fill my with joy, but instead brings down the crushing realization that I'm finally going, and this will be my near death experience. I respond to the woman sitting next to me.

“Can't I just see a bright light like everyone else and be done with it?”
“Sir, I'm sorry, but given the state of your account we can't just sweep everything under the rug and carry on.”
“What the gently caress are you on about?”

The woman looks me right in the eye. Her expression has become harder, and I feel as though she's trying to look into me. I know that the words she now speaks are more important than anything before.

“I now give you the Choice. Come with me now and suffer for your sins, or stay and suffer for your soul.”

**

It's been a long time. I'm not sure how long. It feels like it's been years. The man hasn't blinked or looked away since he told me I have the Choice. I get it now. I get it, but I don't want to think about it. I don't want to think about what will happen to me either way. I've been trying to find the ability to speak for a while now. It's my curiosity that finally gets me to speak, rather than my courage.

“How does this work?”

Finally, her expression softens.

“It's quite simple really. The only decision that really needs explanation is Extension. We give you some extra time, the exact amount to be agreed upon before the enactment of Extension, and we Extend you further credit to restore your account to good standing.”

“...If you're using financial metaphors why would you give me a loan to fix my loans.”

“Please sir, there are more important questions you can ask of me.”

“Right, right...What happens if I decide to, uh, 'settle my account' now?”

The woman is positively beaming at the fact that I play along with her.

“As stated before, sir, the only option that we need explain is Extension. Closure cannot be further elucidated.”

“Wait, are you telling me that I don't actually get to know what happens if I just say gently caress it and stop here?”

“Not knowing is part of the point of making that decision, sir.”

“What?”

“Sir, please. I need you to make a decision.”

“So, you're telling me that I get extra time and some 'extra assets' to fix up my account?”

“Yes sir! Will that be your decision?”

“Of course. I'm sure I get myself fixed up with some extra time. How does twenty years extra sound?”

Her, “Five.”

Me, “Fifteen.”

Her, “Ten.”

Me, “Twelve.”

Her, “Eleven.”

Me, “Done.”

Score, dude. Eleven years should be no problem to pull myself back into good standing. The woman closes up her briefcase and stands up from the chair.

“Your assets will arrive shortly sir. We hope you make the most of your further eleven years.”

She holds out a hand for me to shake. I do so instinctively; there is no pain. I feel stronger than I have in so long. I feel invincible.

“Now, just a reminder sir, there will be a brief cooling-off period for this transaction.”

Her words disintegrate in my ears, and her form vaporizes before my eyes. I feel my strength returning. I know exactly what I need to do. I rip out my lines and cables. I have my plan, I know what I can fix, and I know how to make it right. Just as I finish a certain sound catches my attention. A long monotone whine.

poo poo, I was right.

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


Sorry, I forgot to mention the card I was using.

Knight of Rods (Reversed): Haste, scattered energy, delays, frustration

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


The Fool, Five of Rods, Ace of Swords (reversed).

The Magician's Pupil (1,303 words)

The magician arrived in early evening, bundled against the cold. The townsfolk had heard rumors of his coming. They gathered in the streets as their visitor appeared. His motorcycle was an older model; the kind used during the war. The sidecar was loaded with charms and trinkets and herbs and vegetables. Everyone knew once it was empty there’d be room for a single passenger.

“It must be as the newspapers say.” The mayor stroked his impressive beard. “He’s here to take a pupil.”

The people closed in as their guest came to a stop in the center of town. He removed his goggles and loosened his scarf. He had the appearance of a boyish young man, yet his eyes betrayed an ancient depth. He greeted his hosts with a weary smile.

“Is it true? Is it true?” The people wanted to know. They clamored ever closer, but withdrew with a gesture.

“Yes, well, there comes a season for everything I suppose. Yes, that is to say yes. That is the reason for which I’ve come. But first,” the magician added, “I’ll require some rest, a place for the night where I might set up shop.”

A magician this side of the mountains was a rare enough sight as it was. Any house or hearth of his choosing was his. Nevertheless, as he toured the town, he selected a rundown flower shop to make himself at home. The door creaked and the windows were broken. Its owners had moved out the year before last.

“Perfect. Simply perfect.”

The magician parked his motorcycle and went about unpacking.

“Shove off, move along,” the mayor instructed his citizens. “They’ll be ample time in the morning to ask after your sons.”

Family by family, the crowds dispersed. An hour later a lone child remained. They watched the magician through a lens of shattered glass. He’d lit himself a fire and hung up his scarf and coat.

The coat was worn and weather-beaten. The scarf was brilliant, gold and crimson.

There was a sound not unlike wind chimes. The magician looked out but the child was gone.

The magician kicked off the morning by putting on the kettle. He layered its belly with tea leaves from a far-off country and filled it to the top with water from a flask. One by one, families would come before him with their sons in tow, begging him to accept their firstborns, the youngest, anyone at all. The magician listened to them each in turn. The kettle would whistle and he’d pour them all tea. In the end, neither accepting nor rejecting, he’d send them on their way.

Sasha was watching him the entire time. It was a travel-sized kettle, yet not once in forty families had he stopped to refill it.

“Hmm? What’s this? Someone different I should think. Where are your parents?”

The magician uttered more consecutive words in Sasha’s direction than he had in anyone else’s all morning. Sasha pulled her father’s cap down low over her eyes.

“Please-“ she began, but wasn’t permitted to finish.

“Wait a minute! I know that child.”

The voice belonged to a large man whose family lived in the tenement next to Sasha’s. He was here with his own sons. He whipped off her cap revealing a girl with piercing eyes. Her hair was short and unevenly cut.

“Wait for a witch, kid. There’s enough of us trying to make a good impression without someone trying to weasel her way in.”

The air churned with agreement. Sasha was taken and escorted outside. The magician simply poured himself another cup of tea.

In the afternoon the magician took his leave of the flower shop to meander about town, sometimes off into the countryside. Now and then he’d stop, knock on a door, and ask a few questions. He’d listen to the answers, and distribute his traveling charms as he saw fit. He asked for no fees nor requested hospitality. They were thankful for his patronage and sad to see him go.

Step by step, brick by brick, he gathered a train of followers unrelated to his rounds. Parents mostly, a few youths among them. They wanted to know who’d become his new student. Though the magician had never come here before in his life, his feet moved as though they knew the backstreets better than the locals. A few errant turns, and the crowd had lost him.

The magician reemerged from hiding alongside the lake that accompanied the town. There in a tree, he saw Sasha sketching with paper and charcoal. She was trying to get the shape of mountain. The magician leaned against the base of the tree, waiting for her to notice him. She didn’t.

“It’s customary you know. For girls to learn from witches, I mean. That’s just how it is. I’m sure someone will come along.”

Sasha nearly fell from her perch. Clutching her drawing, she turned around and stared at the magician who had called out to her.

“You’re young, I’m sure. You can afford a little patience.”

Sasha’s eyes narrowed.

“You’re the first magician to visit in ten years. I’ve never seen a witch.”

“Oh dear, ten years? Is this that out of the way?”

The magician rubbed his chin, but his thoughts were overtaken.

“There he is!” His pursuers made themselves known. The speaker was an stern-faced man shouldering a rifle. “Quit wasting our time and pick somebody already. If you’re only here to listen to our sob stories, you can right well get out.”

The magician sighed. “I suppose this would be why,” he said without looking at Sasha. “Very well. A test then. A test should suffice.”

He unraveled the crimson scarf from around his neck. It seemed to breathe in his hands. He let the wind catch its length, and soon set it free. As the scarf soared through the sky it grew longer and thicker. Its fabric tore and twisted and contoured. It gave out a roar, and looked down at those who had gathered here.

The men all cowered in the shadow of the dragon.

“A good friend of mine,” the magician said with a smile. “My life-long traveling companion. If you can capture him, the apprenticeship is yours.”

The dragon turned in on itself and sped up into the heavens. Those who had gathered there looked at each other and left. Not even the stern-faced man thought to fire his gun.

The magician turned around. Sasha had fallen out of the tree crawled backwards, eyes wide, her fingers clamped tight around the paper in her hands. She’d dropped her charcoal. The magician snatched it up and tossed it to her, then vanished between the trees.

The week passed as word spread about the test. A few brave souls tried to shoot down the dragon, but their bullets always fell short. The mayor was disappointed, but there was nothing he could do.

“Magicians are a fickle breed,” he said to himself.

The magician himself had run out of stock the day before. Those he had aided were grateful, but the streets were still filled with brooding, angry parents. The magician adjusted his goggles and kick-started his motorcycle’s engine. His scarf fluttered down on the breeze. He caught it with one hand and went about fastening it around his neck. Not one of the adults there had anything to say to him.

Just beyond the city limits, Sasha was waiting. She was still panting and out of breath, as though she’d only just arrived. She held a notebook in her hands. As the magician slowed down, she opened it before him. Spread across its pages was a charcoal sketch of a marvelous ancient dragon.

Neither Sasha nor the magician felt any need for words. The magician smiled. So did Sasha.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

subs closed

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

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

Interprompt

Get it off, get it off

100 words

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


A Dull Day
89 words

In a quiet apartment, a man sat at a desk. He was bored. He stood up, fumbled around in his pocket, and eventually removed a lighter. He then set his jumper alight. The height of the flames caught him by surprise. He dashed to the bathroom. By the time he arrived, the jumper's synthetic material had melted into his skin. He dashed to a sink, put out the flames, and sighed. The rest of the day was filled with the arduous task of removing his jumper from his skin.

POOL IS CLOSED
Jul 14, 2011

I'm just exploding with mackerel. This is the aji wo kutta of my discontent.


Pillbug

Poison Ivy
79 Words

Urushiol. An odd name for a vile substance. You shift your weight uneasily, wishing to scratch. If only you had taken toilet paper on your weekend hike. If only you'd followed the most important rule: leaves of three, let it be. Urushiol's absorption rate is fifty percent into the skin in ten minutes. Your doom was sealed before you even got home to shower. At least the rash is where no one else will see it... You sorry bastard.

A Classy Ghost
Jul 21, 2003

this wine has a fantastic booquet


All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental
62 words

Crabrock exits the bathtub, the now-lukewarm oatmeal covering him like a soft shell. He reaches for a bottle of maple syrup - not the cheap stuff, the real thing - and empties it over himself.

"Now get it off, get it all off."

Djeser kneels into a puddle of his own tears and begins sloughing off the oatmeal in big, sloppy chunks.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


Live GoogleDoc Critting

From now to about 2:30 PM PST, I'm gonna be reading your poo poo and writing crits, so I thought, why not link you the google doc with my crits and you get to see me make fun of your story IN REAL TIME. The future is great.

THESE ARE CURRENTLY FINISHED (actually there's like one I'm missing but Ill get to it eventually)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/...dit?usp=sharing

flerp fucked around with this message at Oct 13, 2015 around 01:58

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


Hi, I'm busy today, so don't expect judgment anytime before 8pm PST tonight, but also maybe not until tomorrow (Tuesday). Just wanted to save you from F5ing all goddamned day. <3

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

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

TEEN SLASH HORROR BRAWL BLOODBATH SLICK STAB MURDER SHOCK

We Landed on the Moon!

This has basically one good bit which is the ‘let’s all split up we’ll cover more ground that way!’ gag and it’s the sort of joke you’d shout out at a midnight showing and a few people would laugh but it’s a slender reed to hold a story on don’t u think. All the characters are sketchily differentiated, which is fine, but I think you set yourself a job you weren’t quite up to accomplishing by having so many characters; they all blur into one doofusy slash movie protag (cf curlingiron who does this a lot better). You also lean super heavily on ‘for some reason character felt compelled to do dumb thing for a reason they could not fathom!’ which, well, look just go watch cabin in the woods again and meditate on how much better it was than your story NEXT

Curlingiron

Normally I say cut your first para, here I say cut your second para. Try it – isn’t it better? Glad we had this chat. Unfortunately that won’t fix your dialogue, which is dreary (if realistic) back and forth – put more effort in. Always make dialogue worth our while in a story this short ; think of every conversation as a fight, even if it’s a fight to be the funniest, or the most dumb. Also it won’t sort out your flaccid flimflam words that should have been slashed into ribbons, Voorhees style;

The ride was not particularly scary, as had been predicted beforehand, but the knock-off Shrek did make an appearance in the form of an unenthusiastic man wearing a costume that appeared to be melting, a difficult task for foam to accomplish. The two agreed, after some mildly heated discussion, that the hat could remain uneaten.

I mean look at all these terrible words. Adverbs, flabby phrasing (did make an appearance) vague (appeared to be) it just makes me want to poo. Blooooood. From that point on it’s actually not bad; you do a nice line in dream horror, though it still desperately needs an edit for poo poo like ‘became increasingly frantic’ I mean wtf curlingiron. Good close-out with the hat call-back – overall this has more promise than WLOTMs but its sloppiness scuppers it.

Grizzled patriarch

Always delete your first para, always. Unless it’s good, in which case don’t. This has a great first para – vivid and arresting. Fundamentally this is just a really good story, so as usual it’s hard to find funny rude things to swear about – I’d call this an example of ‘knob twiddling’, where you take the prompt (which is dull and cliché I mean come the hell on people) and change aspects of it, a little at a time, until it actually interests you as the author. You took the idea of a haunted carnival train then spun the wheels on whom it might be haunted by. Unfortunately it then just sort of lolls around in the idea space it’s made, which is definitely an axis for criticism – literally nothing happens, though it’s not a major problem because the little mini-stories that the situation evokes make up for it. It’s also the kind of thing I like writing, idk there might be some judge pandering but here’s a lesson, whenever you get the opportunity you should pander like your house is made of bamboo shoots this is thunderdome

Grizzled Patriarch wins tribrawl with savage overhand killstroke

Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


Taste Test
1244 words
Tarot card: Ten of Cups: Harmony, marriage, happiness, alignment
Flash rule: your job will be to make your protagonist a little kid (around 5-10 years old), but they will not be lovely

One day, Maritess's dad brought a woman home. She was tall where her mom was short, and her stately face was ill-suited to their flat. She smiled nervously at the girl who was half her size, eating her sardines and rice. There was a letter on the table, with the school's on it.

"Tess, this is Joan," her dad said. "We're dating."

"Are you going to marry each other?" Maritess said, not looking up. This wasn't the first time her dad had seen women. None of them lasted, though.

"That's the plan," her dad said, unfazed.

"Hi, Tess," Joan said. She sat too rigidly in her seat, fidgeting a lot.

"Hey, Joan."

"Hon-- Your dad's told me all about you. You're an interesting child."

"What have you been telling other people about me, dad?"

"That you're very smart and well-behaved."

Maritess picked up the paper and brandished it. "That's interesting? Oh, they want to send me to the regional spelling bee. But I can't."

"Why?"

"Because I have to go to Marikina on my own, and you can't drive me because of work."

"Um, I can take you there if you want," Joan said.

Maritess looked at Joan in the eye. "No thanks."

###

The school picked Raymond Ching instead, who got knocked out in the first round. Meanwhile, Joan kept coming over, though she tried to make herself as scarce as possible in Maritess's presence.

Nothing changed much, except for the fact that the living room was filled with laughter and not her dad's ridiculous snoring. Maritess resolved to save up for a pair of headphones.

One night, dad was working overtime, and Joan came over early without him. She set up her laptop on the dining table, watching graphs and charts. Maritess thought about her future--would she turn into a grownup who fussed over such boring stuff?

"Hey, Tess," Joan said. That was usually where their conversations ended, but she was nothing if not persistent.

"Hey." Maritess sat on Joan's right. She was done with homework, and had just woken up from her nap. She didn't want to give Joan ammunition by switching on the TV and watching something she liked. "What are you doing?"

"Working from-- working outside the office, I mean."

"Do you even have an office?"

Joan shook her head. "Couldn't stand the gossip."

Maritess remembered the weeks after her mom had gone. The number of friends became countable in one hand from two. "Yeah, that must be awful."

"Like you wouldn't believe."

"Uh-huh. How long have you been seeing dad?"

A small smile crept up Joan's lips. She closed her laptop and leaned in. "About three months. I worked on a project for his company and we sort of instantly clicked."

Maritess sighed. "Oh, dad."

"He's a good person. And you seem to be doing well."

Maritess looked down, seeing her reflection on the polished table. "Not really."

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said--"

"Can you be honest with me, Joan?"

"Okay." Joan's response was almost a breathless squeak.

"Are you serious with my dad? Like you really wanna marry him and stuff?"

"Yes. I know you don't like me, but I hope you'd give me a chance."

"How would I know you're serious?"

Joan glanced at the garbage bin, where styrofoam containers peeked out of the lid. "You seem to have a trash problem, and we've eaten nothing but fast food. I've been thinking of cooking you guys dinner instead."

Maritess blinked. "You can cook?"

"Not really," Joan said, "but I could learn how to."

"How about you give it a try?"

###

With permission, Joan took mom's cookbooks from the dusty bodega. She pored over them with every spare minute of her time. She started slowly, from simply frying an egg, to boiling rice with a traditional pot instead of a rice cooker.

"Did you put Joan up to this?" Maritess's dad asked her, as they waited for Joan to transfer the spaghetti sauce into a bowl. It was Joan's first actual meal.

"I pushed her a little, but this is all her," Maritess said nonchalantly.

Once the bowl was set down, Maritess was eager to try it out. Joan put sliced hotdogs in it, just as mom used to do.

"Hmm."

Joan beamed. "How is it, Tess?"

"Mom's was sweeter," Maritess said. "It's pretty good for a first try, though."

"So you prefer it Filipino-style?"

"It's dad who's got a sweet tooth, not me."

Joan turned to Maritess's dad. "Hon?"

"Oh, it was perfect!"

"Really...?"

"Congratulations, Joan," Maritess said. It wasn't the result she expected, but it was still a win-win.

###

After a couple of successful dishes, Maritess caught Joan alone in the living room. She leaned on the back of the sofa.

"Hey, Tess. Hon's coming home late again. Is there anything you want for dinner?"

Maritess smiled. She was about to play her trump card. "Yeah, actually. For your final test, there's one last dish you have to perfect."

"And what's that?"

"Pork sinigang."

"That's not too hard," Joan said.

Maritess crossed her arms. "Don't get ahead of yourself. Mom used real tamarinds, not powder mix. She also didn't cook the pork and onions in oil. As a family we're very particular with it. It's not something you could just wing."

"Sounds like a special recipe," Joan said. "Did your mom write it down?"

Maritess shook her head. "It was all in her head. She was supposed to teach me, but, well... I used to watch her make it, so I should know how it goes. I'll teach you."

"Is it really okay for me to do it?"

"I want you to." Maritess looked away, training her eyes on a door and half-wishing mom would just burst from it. "I'm not trying to make you more like mom, but... I want to know if you could share a home with us. Because dad's hopeless alone and everything."

Joan nodded. Her jaw had a determined set in it, and Maritess felt that she was looking at this person for the first time, who wasn't a complete stranger. "Okay. Get dressed up, we're buying ingredients."

###

Maritess supervised every step, down to the selection of the cuts of pork to the amount of spinach needed. It seemed more of a religious ritual than dinner. As Joan started getting engrossed in stirring the pot, Maritess left her in the kitchen for a break.

"How's it going?" her dad said. He had changed in his house clothes already.

"Pretty fine so far," Maritess said. "It's a challenge. You weren't really going to marry her without having her learn how to cook, were you?"

"Don't look at me, we didn't really plan for anything.."

Shortly after, they were seated at the dining table. Maritess scooped the broth and lathered on her rice, soaking it. Two pairs of eyes watched her eat her first mouthful.

"It's good," Maritess said.

"What did you like about it? Was it like your mom's?"

"Not at all."

Joan looked devastated. "Oh."

Maritess closed her eyes. "That's not the point, Joan. I don't really know how it tastes anymore. I've seen her cook it a hundred times, but it's been years. This is good. This makes me feel like home. Congratulations."

The couple looked at each other, grinning like they were Maritess's age. Maritess looked at the door, thinking about her mom.

Sorry we had to move on, she thought. It still hurts.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

MUSEUM WEEK CRITS

jon joe

This is a pretty competent Be Careful What You Wish For yarn. Jinwei has a somewhat noble goal, so you kind of want him to succeed. Xian Yao is a pretty serviceable evil trickster sort of figure. The plot felt complete, if a little predictable. I liked that, theoretically, Jinwei could've peaced out with his new-found power (I mean taking on a huge pack of wolves? Surely by that point he could've gone home and defended his land), but he was so set on immortality as the solution to his problems. I guess when I see this sort of competence in a story, it makes me think...what's something more unique you could've done? How could you have tweaked the tropes you used just a liiittle more? Like I said, it was a bit predictable, which is probably what kept it from getting a mention.

Thranguy

This story is awkward. It's awkward like going back and reading my own teenage blog posts. The dialog between Grex and Mel is kind of insufferable. It's like you turn to your reader and give a big, cheeky nod and wink to the reader, just so we KNOW you and your characters are totally doing a subversion. The professor is just skeezy and idiotic. Grex could've literally been anything or anyone. Like, you set him up as this kind of wacky, nerfed monster, and then he just kind of sits there giving light exposition. This felt like the beginning of a YA book, maybe, except the pervy professor doesn't really fit, in that case. The story has a canned, Saturday morning cartoon feeling to it that I found hard to connect with.

Mons Hubris

So the thing is, the writing here isn't half bad. But my eyes kind of continuously bounced off the dialog, because I don't know about these characters, their world, or the stakes. I was vaguely amused by the revelation that it was the little kid screwing up their strategizing, and it was obvious in retrospect, but that was kind of...it. That was the story's one trick. I found it REALLY hard to believe that no one would figure out their war pieces were being moved around, and it was a little unbelievable that the map was their only record of their strategies.

Worlds best author

This story thrusts characters at me and brusquely informs me that I should care about them because uh..they're there, I guess. You have Shiro as the rather inaccessible protagonist. I mean, we get what amounts to a short biography about him at the beginning, but I didn't take much away from it except for, he has a cause and is very devoted to it. I suspect you spent some time on wikipedia, and in striving for authenticity, you forgot characterization. Then there's Yamada, who you very abruptly introduce and kill. Then violence. There's no way Shiro's army can win! And they don't. The End. Is there any legitimacy to Shiro's claims of vengeance to come? I have no idea, and I don't really care. Most of the dialog sounds like stuff you'd hear when you click on a unit in an RTS video game. Like, some Age of Empires poo poo. Is this about persecution? Were you trying to harken to old samurai movies? I have no idea. It's a big, bloody mess of a thing.

Entenzahn

You suck and are bad. What, that's not constructive enough? Fine. Ok so you've got these two bros. One of them is so into this girl that he takes the Croc tribe's prize heirloom and gives it to the babe's dad to earn her hand in marriage. You get the sense this isn't the first time Rito's had to fish Jotel out of some trouble. The brotherly relationship was pretty good, and there were some lines that made me grin, like:

quote:

Siria sat down next to Jotel, looked at him as if something smart was going to come out of his mouth. But Jotel just looked back at her, and together they created an infinite loop of one person expecting the other to say something helpful.


Rito's sneakiness when he is trying to get the statue back is well-described, but kind of tedious for a short story. Unless your flash fiction piece is about sneaking, you shouldn't spend that much time describing sneaking IMO. Even if it's perfectly good description. Still, the ending made all the characters seem reasonably likable, and you get the sense that someday, Rito will probably be some sort of wise and crafty leader. I was curious about the setting. You describe the bear people as living in metal ruins of some sort, but the location and time period isn't clear. It reads as being set in Some Vague Period When People Lived in Tribes and poo poo, but the metal structures made me doubt. Yet, it never was important, so I'm not sure why those details were there. This story was an HM candidate, I believe.

Morningbell

Your first paragraph sets up a decent amount of intrigue. Like, we know this is at a boarder crossing. Depending on where you're from, that can be a tense thing. You've got these two casually corrupt boarder guards taking bribes and eating sandwiches. You have a lady in the trunk. Ok. I'm in. I like how, through the small details we learn about Svetlana, the more you get a sense for who the narrator is. I thought his relationship with Svetlana was very nicely described. Good word economy. Even the boarder guards are vaguely likable insofar as they're just two schmucks doing their jobs. The bit where baby-face realizes that he and the protag went to the same school is endearing, even in the midst of all the tension you've built up. The ending was genuinely sad, and you get the sense that, in trying to help an activist escape the despair of Russia, the protagonist blundered into a whole new world of despair. He's a guy trying to do the right thing in a world where there may be no right choices. Easy pick for the win.

Fumblemouse

This is FAMILY PREDISPOSITION TO ALCOHOLISM: THE SHORT STORY. Like, I get it. Grandma got sloshed, mom got sloshed, Mel gets sloshed. I feel like you fell back on dialog. And it's good, fairly realistic dialog, but there's too much family backstory right up front and not enough plot. IMO flash fiction should get to the point within like, the first paragraph and build on that. Too many of these stories read like the premise of a 3-4K word story, not flash length. In a longer short story, you can spend more time dabbling with dialog and cute little details. Halfway through the story, we finally hit some meaningful plot movement: They're going to let the huntsman decide who gets the estate! It was kind of a clever thing; alcohol has clearly governed this family's life (the first half of the story drove that point home, then to the grocery store and drive through, then back home again), so leaving a huge decision up to a drinking game fit. At the end, I was left with a vague hope that Mel wouldn't get the estate, but eh. Would've been cool if there'd been any characterization of this family beyond a pack of alcoholics.

22 Eargesplitten

Minor quibble: How can your two characters read an alphabet they've never before seen? Like, it would be one thing if it were an archaic version of their own alphabet, but you literally say it's an unfamiliar alphabet. But ok, this was a decent story about a hateful tool that should've never been found. I'm not sure if the details about the wives and which couple has kids added all that much? It was a really awkward shift in pacing when Michael said the magic word and ended up skewered like a convenience store hot dog. Luckily everything turns out more or less fine at the end. There were some good descriptive things, but the whole story left me thinking a bit of:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYmXiP0-PnA


Grizzled Patriarch

The Uncle statue was creepy and the mythos around it felt cool and organic and original. There's something vaguely gothic here, maybe? It had the feel of modern lore, but it had an ancient, mythy feeling as well. I think my biggest crit is of Toco as a character. He is the tortilla chip to the flavorful dip of your setting. He exists to spoonfeed your cool creepy mountain god to the reader. I feel like, in flash fiction, if your story starts out with a hapless new guy learning about the local blood god, the story is 99% likely to end with that hapless new guy getting sacrificed in some way. This flirted with an HM, but I think weakness of character thwarted you here.

Ironic Twist

You've got a few disparate things happening here. They all connect to Kirk, but I'm not quite sure how. So okay, you've got the bird pendant, which was sent to Kirk by the wife of a dead dude. It's really not clear why he wanted her to send it, or how he got Kirk's name. Here, I copy/pasted ONLY the parts of the story that pertain the the old man and the pendant, and put them in what I think is chronological order.

quote:

—he was on the freeway shoulder, screaming into the closed passenger-side window of an Oldsmobile.

He had already written the words gently caress YOU in the dust on the old man’s rear window—backwards, so he’d see it in his rearview mirror. How? When? I think what would've REALLY helped is if we had a better idea of what happened to piss Kirk off In his rage, he’d written the F the right way around, but the message was there, and now he was yelling more undeniable messages through the thick glass window, while the old man looked over at him, a feeble smile on his face. A dumb, senile, shriveled old man doing 40 in the passing lane.

It wasn’t until he stormed back to his truck and drove off that the buzzing started up again.

It was a fly trapped in his car, buzzing around his head. He swiped at it, cursed at it, opened the window to shoo it out, but still it stayed, this miniscule thing, whispering incessantly in his ear, staring at him with its lying and multiplying eyes. Five hundred Kirks, multiplied and magnified in the eyes of a creature that was too stupid to look out for its own well-being.

By the time he made it to his carpentry job, a half-hour late, he was screaming, his hands curled into claws against his cheeks, thinking about the silver bird hanging from the man’s rearview mirror. In his mind, the bird looked at peace, clinging to its own personal branch, while the fly buzzed and buzzed around his bowed head, bumping against half-
open windows and circling wildly, never landing, never stopping to rest.

It was a glistening pendant, the size of a human heart or a child’s clenched fist. Shining metal twigs intertwined over the head of a black-and-silver robin, forming the top half of a lopsided figure eight where a chain could be looped through. The robin’s silvery talons gripped the bottom curve of the eight, thorns sticking out from the ridged pewter perch. Okay, I can kind of see the old dude as a symbol for the peace that Kirk is always chasing away with his shouting and his fists, but it's a wispy connection that is really hard to see the way you have the story structured

[THEN, A WHILE LATER, PRESUMABLY]

There was a note in the box: My husband, Eduardo, passed away a month ago. I don’t know who you are—I found your address online—but my husband said he wanted you to have this. I hope you are a person that will treat it with care. Again, I really wonder how the old dude knew Kirk, or why he was able to deduce that the bird would be such a powerful symbol. Maybe you were trying to do something kind of....magical realism is the wrong word, but maybe the old guy had some sort of uncanny or preternatural intuition about Kirk. I have no idea!

The letter was signed Dolores Silvan, a name Kirk didn’t recognize.

He turned off the lights, and then lay down on the couch and listened to the TV, turning over the bird-shaped pendant.

He felt something bristle against his palm, and paused, held the pendant up to the TV’s lukewarm glow.

There were a few strands of hair, dry and grey, poking out from a cavity in the bird’s chest.

Kirk stared at them, then laid back and cradled the pendant against his chest, counting the beats of his heart. Somehow, now he knew what the old man had known, that each heartbeat meant he was a split-second closer to peace.

Okay, I kind of get what you were going for now. I just don't think the story I cobbled together above really fit with the story of Kirk taking his anger out on Ash. I get that he wants to be a gentle guy, and he has all of these small, fragile things in his life that he wants to protect but ends up hurting, but none of it resolves into anything. You basically wrote two nice but separate half-stories. Like, the whole old man/bird plot thread literally only makes sense when I extract it from the Ash/Kirk relationship drama. I suspect you had an idea of how they were meant to weave together, but it never quite made it to the page.

Killer-of-Lawyers

I like Rhino. She is a large and in-charge neanderthal. I love neanderthals and I like strong lady characters with distinct motivations. It's cool to read about prehistoric people who get characterized beyond ME HUNT WITH FAMILY, TAKE DOWN LARGE TUSK ANIMAL. I got minorly frustrated when she reaches down the trader's pants and grabs his "sack", not because of the wordplay but because at that point I was really ready for the conflict to play out. I'm not sure I'm a fan of how the games played out. I think some actual dialog might've made me feel more connected to the moment. I didn't understand the game, and once they start playing, it feels more like a summary of events than a description of them. I thought the final scene was pretty endearing and sweet.

Broenheim

This had heart, but I was kind of lost. Like, you have a statue with a clear motivation of guiding and protecting its king. You have the first king, who is compassionate and easily hears the voice of the statue. I could deduce that much. But something didn't hang together. I think it was the repetition of "my king knew". WHAT did he know? That isn't clear. I feel like you were doing a metaphor thing, but I couldn't quite figure out what you were getting at. Were the statues just magical protectors of whoever the king happened to be? Was the first king some magical philosopher king, and the rest were less and less in tune with the guidance of the statues? Did the brother statue crumble because of this neglect? Or were you trying to make a particular point. There was something compassionate and human about this story, which I liked, but I feel like I'm missing something.

Tyrannosaurus

This started out so great. Detailed, well-written. Like, I shuffled my butt around in my judging chair and settled in for a good, solid read. And it could have been! If there'd been a whole story. Or rather, it felt like you gave us the bookends of a good story. It was two slices of delicious bread without any filling. There was a glimmering of something...like, everyone is so sorry for the protagonist, except they still in some small way benefitted from his tragedy. But there wasn't any room for you to develop that point. I dunno, you're a good enough writer that I assume you know this was too truncated, so it's hard to crit.

Crabrock

This was fun and sweet in a dark way. I think what didn't work as well for me was the fact that Shay is more or less our POV character, yet you withhold the whole beet scheme from us. I think it's because you were well aware of your word count, and it's much easier to build up to the reveal (that she was soaking the lizard with beet juice). Shay comes across as clever but not overly mature for her age. It was nice to see a character who's believably juvenile yet smart. It's...not really clear how killing Carlo will actually help them escape, but it was satisfying, so your characterization was successful. Yay kaiju :3

Slipup

You had way too many named characters, and they were completely interchangeable. They were fodder. It would've been much better to hone in on one guy's POV and give him some background. This is just an action sequence with a lot of dudes. Literally, in my head I just saw a bunch of identical naked clones. Maybe that's a problem with me, but I suspect it has to do more with the story. Then Druses, who I guess is supposed to be the protagonist? But Druses, he suicides at the end, making everything just happened pointless. Try to hone in on some distinctly human element in your stories. Don't just describe an action scene like something out of a movie.

Schneiderheim

Awe, this was a pretty nice story of youthful awkwardness and hope and optimism. The 2nd person POV gets a pass from me, I thought it worked. There were things that were normal to your character and unfamiliar to me, but putting me in her shoes with the POV connected me with the character enough that it didn't matter. This is a story I feel might polarize people; some would hate it, some would love it. Your characters were a little hipsterish, but it fit their age. The ending was so hopeful and idealistic. I smiled.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Oct 13, 2015 around 08:25

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


Hahahah, cliffhanger trolled by the crits.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


WHENEVER JUDGING. REAL JUDGING.



Well, little did I know that multiple entries this week would be basically "poo poo I wrote in my journal when I was eighteen," but there you have it. And it turns out that if I want to read that poo poo, I would rather read the poo poo that I wrote myself, because at least that poo poo is about me, the best and most interesting eighteen year old there ever was. Therefore, DMs for Curling Iron and CARRIERHASARRIVED. Jesus loving christ curlingiron, I know you said I might hate your story, but I was still unprepared. CARRIERHASARRIVED, that is a stupid moral dilemma bullshit already-been-done augggggghhhhhhhhhhhh. Also bad and another DM for Screaming Idiot because goddamn all that horrible dialogue about some kind of war I guess? gently caress my life.

You were all saved by Baudolino who takes the loss. What the gently caress even was this? I have no idea. None of the judges have any idea. I mean, we can piece together the story after we wade through all the what the gently caress even was this, but then we are still frustrated because it wasn't worth the effort. In the words of Broenheim: the best advice I can give for you is to never do any of the things you did this story ever again.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there were several stories this week that we enjoyed reading!! Why? Because they all had compelling characters! Surprise!

HMs: Sitting Here, Fumblemouse, Grizzled Patriarch

Special HM by Lead Judge Fiat (that's me): Killer Of Lawyers This story was loving awesome and your character was awesome.

Winner: Ironic Twist

You can read crits for this week here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/...K4zc8jc7hE/edit

I'm gonna edit this post but people are probably tired of waiting or whatever. PROMPT and stuff, ugh

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at Oct 13, 2015 around 09:07

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

FYI all crits in this post VVVVVV are now finished. Thank you for your patience and understanding, your stories are important to us.

Sitting Here posted:

MUSEUM WEEK CRITS


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER





So, the way I got into Something Awful—eight whole years ago!—was by reading their Awful Movie Reviews, which were mostly horror movies where people were killed by things such as puppets, little people, dental floss, butter, and awful cinematography. One in particular stuck in my mind, however, due to the way the author kept coming back to the same point, over and over again:

quote:

As Kilpatrick takes Marty on a tour of the house, their conversation cuts out in favor of heavy breathing, a heartbeat, and cheesy synthesizer crap that tries to give a spooky atmosphere. The problem is, it's daytime and nothing is loving scary in broad daylight.

quote:

As they drive away, a curtain falls over a window of the house, as if dropped by an unseen hand. It would be a good shot for a ridiculously low budget project like this one, except that we already know the house is haunted, so curtains moving aren't really going to elicit any screams. Also, it's daytime, and nothing is loving scary in broad daylight.

quote:

That's right, the Grim Reaper. He's not scary though, because it's daytime and nothing is loving scary in broad daylight.

This point came back to me this year when I was listening to a reading of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates, which, if you’re not familiar, is A) a story that takes place mainly in broad daylight, and B) is loving scary. So, those two moments came together, and this prompt was formed. What a nice coincidence that it’s October now.

In case none of you have figured it out yet:

Your prompt is to write a horror story that takes place in broad daylight.

Using Oates’s story as the standard, your story can take place indoors, but the main source of light has to be the sun, whether coming through the windows or whatever else. It can be fantasy or sci-fi, but there has to be sunlight from either the sun or a sun. Parts of your story may take place at night, but most or all of the scary stuff has to take place in broad. loving. daylight. Be safe and don’t try to rules-lawyer me.

It’s easy to create fear from the things that lurk in the shadows. How good are you at scaring people when there’s nowhere to hide?

Word Limit: 1600
Signup Deadline: 2359 PST, Friday, October 16
Submission Deadline: 2359 PST, Sunday, October 18
No: fanfic, nonfic, erotica

Judges
Ironic Twist
Sitting Here
Thranguy

Doomed Domers
Obliterati
ZeBourgeoisie
Jonked
Jocoserious
J.A.B.C.
Grizzled Patriarch
newtestleper
ghost crow
God Over Djinn
Broenheim
Screaming Idiot
SadisTech
Morning Bell
Killer-of-Lawyers
Kaishai
Fumblemouse

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at Oct 17, 2015 around 07:12

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

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

In.

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


This kinda prompt is my jam. In

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Hello goons. Indulge me for a moment, if you will. I'll be co-judging this week. According to this page, I'm rapidly approaching 1 million words judged. I would very much like to hit that this year due to spergy, masochistic reasons, so if you're on the fence about signing up, please do!

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning


Ironic Twist posted:

“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates

https://www.d.umn.edu/~csigler/PDF%...oates_going.pdf

Jonked
Feb 15, 2005

by exmarx


I'm in. Gonna be real spooky

Jocoserious
Jun 9, 2014

LOOK OVER HERE!!


In.

J.A.B.C.
Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.


I'm finally back in the land of stable internet, and i'm IN on this wild ride.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




This sounds fun. In.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003


In

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ghost crow
Jul 9, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


In with a

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