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God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards



Feb 25, 2014


i got an idea. i'll probably fail, but w/e.


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007





ACG, you went for a more straightforward ghost story with a light heart. Spectres, your ghosts were nestled in a more generally supernatural cult story. You both definitely wrote about ghosts and you both definitely put them in multi-tenant lodgings, so grats on your ability to follow directions, guys! Otherwise, these were very different stories. I thought both had heart, but both have some flaws. Let's unpack that, shall we?

ACG: Right, this story was relatively straightforward, which both helped and hurt. You spent too long being like "hey, hey look! Ghost things happening!" Like, the beginning was amusing and familiar to me as a long-time hotel victim. But it was a lot of words to get to the revelation that Steve is a ghost and he's helping. It's not like it was a subtle build or a surprise or anything. I would've rather the story started with Steve as a foregone conclusion, so you could jump right into how he interacts with the staff and guests. I liked the tragedy masks, and I liked how people just kinda got used to them showing up. I would've liked if Steve and Dan had developed a bit more of a raport throughout the story? Like, right now it goes: Dan doesn't know about Steve, Dan learns about Steve, Dan is vaguely accepting of Steve once Steve helps him out, Dan finds Steve's body. Which, I was so confused how/why Dan knew EXACTLY where to look. If you'd spent more time on he and Steve's relationship as characters, you could've made the ending scene feel a little less sudden. I kind of buy it; Steve throws around the drama masks and his body is under the stage. Fair enough! But Dan goes right to it.

I think it was a good call to set the whole Steve plot against the backdrop of the hotel moving, though. It added some urgency, a real need to put Steve to rest. Overall, this story was the "safer" bet of the two, though some of the banal dialog could've been exchanged for more meaningful interaction with the ghost. Overall, it was pleasant enough.

SPECTRES: Right so, I'm going to write out the plot of this because sometimes that's the best critique. You've got Lyric, who ran away from his abusive dad to join a cult that was allegedly founded by some ghost. And certain chosen ones get to meet that ghost and receive its instructions. Except they also drink some kind of crazy mind controlling qi tea. The ghost tells Sparrow to spread its message, and over the course of the story, Lyric realizes that they're trying to get everyone on Earth to drink the tea, so they can be in the cult's thrall. Then there are these other ghosts. Ghosts who cast doubt on Ashby's credibility. They appear to disagree with how things are going. There's some kind of creepy stuff, like when Lyric wakes up Nirvana, only to see Sparrow's face for a second. I didn't catch that on the first read, but it could've been some nice foreshadowing. Lyric confronts Sparrow at the end, and Sparrow is revealed to be...possibly a ghost himself? Or maybe all the ghosts are actually staticky beings from other dimensions who can interact with humans because of the qi tea. There seems to be some disagreement between the ghosts about what's going on, I think? I'm not entirely sure, actually.

I'll be honest with you, my eyes bounced off this story a little. Lyric had some humanizing moments, but there wasn't much in the way of setting description, and that made me feel like the whole story was a bit adrift in white space. It wasn't immediately clear to me that it was set on a commune, though I sorted it out easy enough. There was some world building stuff about the origin of the tea, but it kind of came too late. Some of the really Spectres-ish details didn't mesh too well with the campy hippie dialog which made up the bulk of the story.

RESULTS: All that said, I really didn't mind either of these stories. I'm going to give the win to A Classy Ghost for simplicity and directness.

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007



Fun Shoe

I'll throw my hat into the pile this week.

Jun 26, 2013



Aug 2, 2002

Baudolino posted:

June 22th 1985.


Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006

Illegal Hen


Apr 22, 2008


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Three hours and some change left to signup

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.


Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's DIE!"

Comings and Goings Crits Part 1

These are copied from the google doc, so if you've read them there, these are the same.

Out of Egypt
I’m getting too far in without knowing what’s going on or caring. I’m at “I spring into the snow and the visions dance above the trees.” Don’t really have any motivations for dog-thing or woman. I’m guessing it’s some kind of post-apocalyptic thing with ghosts? Or at least they are away from people? I dunno. The writing, in terms of prose, is good/to my taste. “The bare-mouthed wolf springs forward.” Something is happening, a conflict of sorts, because he is being attacked, but there’s just not enough interest in the characters or their long-term even for it to be really gripping. This is also the first time when you really establish what ultimate ends up being the crux of the story, that he has no mate, and she finds him one?

Not terrible, but boring.

Mundane Measures
Hmmmm. Mundanity Scores. Interesting. Why does this interest me more than blue fangs chasing a dog-thing under an awning? I guess because you have a normal thing, girl, shadows, and then a single unusual thing. Or maybe it’s just personal preference. On the other hand though, plenty could have happened in the first 3 paragraphs of the previous story to catch my interest. “She consented to the divorce and forfeited half of her assets to her now-ex-husband.” Now there hasn’t been enough further teasers or characterizations though. I liked the little descriptors of how her life is falling apart, but I’m not getting a sense of how Yin is dealing with it internally. It’s more like a newspaper article. This happened, then this happened. Not even dialogue that indicates how she personally is reacting. Or what she wants. What is she fighting for? At the end, the lack of insight into Yin makes the story too shallow.


I can’t tell if some of these typos are just b/c of date/name conventions in another language, but some of them aren’t, also missing words, but it’s not exactly unreadable despite those mistakes, so okay. Also...wife murder :( why :( wait what, and now a shady property deal? Is this a mob story with elves? Ahhhhhh why did Thomas kill Mr. Maxwell? Mr. Maxwell didn’t kill his wife, how does this protect her. Oh wait, because he was going to ruin the lake and thus the afterlife of the tree creature? Okay. Ummm, this story is clumsy and has lots of mistakes, but I guess once I put it together in my mind it does kind of make sense and people at least had motivations. Except I have no idea how Olivia betrayed Thomas because he wasn’t actually roleplaying I don’t think because he was lying about the black eye, and did she get seduced in the lake? Wait, gently caress. And also the typos. And grammar. And capitalization. Sigh. Also I’m not totally sure how the Tarot cards played into this. Teamwork? Maybe some of the more detailed meanings make sense though.


Divided by a Lemniscate

Crabrock has instilled in me a great weariness of opening lines that describe the sun. What good does it do, really? Not much good. Ditto most descriptions of villages, especially in flash fictions. Openings need to grab me. That means characters 95% of the time. Maybe, MAYBE a very unique setting. Just imagine if you had started with this instead:

“Aapo Rivlen, a Samal* in the Israel Defense Force, stood atop an Israeli hill overlooking Bi’lin and studied one of the mosques. He waited with a small unit of IDF soldiers for it to empty of the people currently praying.”

Yeah, better already. Figure out how explain Bi’Lin’s situation on the Israel/Palestine border later. Honestly, the whole first scene isn’t that interesting to me. It’s a pretty standard scene that most people have read tons of times before. It doesn’t give us enough insight into Aapo to pull us into this particular story. At the end you suggest that he’s ambivalent and even compassionate towards the Palestinian protestors, but it’s really not enough. What does he care, what does he want? He’s just a generic soldier still, a generic officer even.

I’m pretty concerned this is going to become a shallow political piece, which is going to be really meh. Also what’s with these goddamn asterix. Do you really need footnotes? UGH. I’m not sure. Eh, I don’t think it really veered into Political Creed territory, but still didn’t really do much for me.

Hell has a Beach

Oh no, another war story :( at least someone is vomiting. “the viciousness of a child shaking a snow globe.” a really weird simile. As always, I wish there was more of the character here. Jenkins wishing they had turned around and Kowalski vomiting is enough human element to keep me kind of interested, at least. “Their eardrums became instruments in the orchestra of war,” jesus christ, I hope this kind of writing doesn’t continue throughout the piece. “Jenkins took a look at the men he had served with in Africa.” This is like the “other characters” equivalent of protagonist-looks-in-the-mirror. I know I’m about to get some kind of shallow description of everyone else. In this case, I assume it’s gonna be some kind of sentimental one-liner to hopefully make me give a poo poo about these dudes when they die later in the story. Guess what, that doesn’t work. If you want me to give a poo poo when they die, you have to 1) make me give a poo poo about Jenkins (you are running out of room for that) and 2) show me that Jenkins gives a poo poo. Yeah, I don’t give a poo poo about Corporal Mason’s locket. “He emerged from his steel cocoon” -- is this the boat?

Basically, this is another generic war story with nothing to set it apart from any of the other thousands of war stories out there. Character is just a paper-thin scared-boy who decides to give’em hell after he sees some of his friends killed in battle.


Goodbye, Bucharest

Solid first line. Normal (drinks), change (going away), unusual (ghosts). Kept me reading, at least, but ultimately getting busted for drugs and losing the girl is an uninteresting end to a ghost story. Also it serves smarmy Jerry right, but I think that was probably part of the point. Waste of a good ghost IMO. This story gets weaker as the plot takes over from the fun voice in the beginning, where you are describing Jerry’s motley collection of friends and such. Ultimately though, the plot does work.

Edit: Ahahaha, I just read Bro’s critique, and he was like: noooooo why the ghosts? and I’m like noooooooo why waste the ghosts, but you’ll notice we both agree: the first paragraphs were you describe people are good, and then it becomes about losing the girl and drugs and significantly less interesting. Personally, I still like ghosts.

Competent! Not thrilling, but Competent!

The Ethics of Parasitism

I like this title. Oh boy and lawyers. What’s with all the...ellipses…? HEY SHE’S GONNA BE A VAMPIRE ISN’T SHE? AM I RIGHT? yessssssss. Is the parasite also a lawyer joke? I hope so. Voice is good enough to keep me reading even if it’s not that unique--fairly straight hardboiled cop, but it’s working with vampire femme-fatale blackmailer. I like that he knows she’s a loving monster and not the innocent dame. That’s a nice change-up on the cliche. I like that he took bribes, too. Not that ex-cop who was set up again. Dialogue falters in the confrontation with Max. Even though there’s only two guys speaking, the lack of dialogue tags makes me lose track of who’s speaking. Then there’s the thing about eating bugs. I don’t get it.

Ending is weak. Why would she let him go even if he moves to another continent. He can still blackmail her from the other side of the globe, there’s this thing called the internet. Also, after all the stuff he’s done, he dismissed becoming a vampire a little too easily. You’d already gone over the 1350 word count, so you had another 150 words to work with. You could have done a lot more to give it a more satisfying ending, even if he decided not to change.

Like this one. Sad the title didn’t double as a lawyer joke.

What's the difference between a mosquito and a lawyer?
One is a blood-sucking parasite, the other is an insect.


This one has a solid start, too. Something is up, what is it? I want to know. Also, kids in gangs, the way kids are. The story kind of plods along after that, though. There’s a lot of mush words. Almost, very, frequently, really, usually, about as much. It reads like one of my wishy-washy crits, honestly. You could make that work, but you aren’t doing it. To use it as a technique, you’d have to really pay attention to it and choose when and how you use the words. I know you didn’t because you’ve got two frequentlys within a few sentences of each other, and not repeated for effect. Just not noticed/edited well. It also doesn’t fit into your tarot card themes.

I feel like the interaction between these two characters should have an emotional impact, but it doesn’t really. It’s too bogged down in unnecessary facts and verbiage. Hmmmm… Now my thoughts are like the narrative voice of this story. I feel like I should say more. Like at the end of the story. I wish I knew what to say, but I just don’t.

The word I would use for this story is...Limp.


Hmm. Well, I did read this one straight through, so that is good. Writing is obviously okay. Biggest weakness is that it’s very...newspaper, but without even the quotes. You very much just report the action. Even Hugo’s thoughts and feelings are basically reported. In my opinion, the story would definitely be stronger if you let us into Hugo’s head more. Probably if you actualy let us hear what Stefan and Josafina said to each other. That is, more showing, less telling. You told us that Hugo came to appreciate the way Stefan and Josefina were together, THEN you show us some of the ways they were good together. It would have been much better if you had done it the other way around. SHOWN us Hugo gradually coming around. Shown us how he gradually built up to the ultimate decision to betraying what I assume was basically his life or freedom to let them get away?

The words and happenings moved easily enough to get me through this, but ultimately I think it gets filed under:

Competent. I mean, that’s a pretty good category.

my brother, among the dunes

Aiiiiiiiiii, sugar sweet. Wow, the dialogue in this is like… “I am giving a dramatic monologue. I am saying something significant and meaningful with many words.” Jesus. Check this:

“Sera! There is no doubt in my heart that the stars will guide us to the center before the next cycle of the moon! Our village will be saved yet!”
“Lost ones, may your flesh be purified by my holy blade; and your spirits put to rest by my promise that I will carry on your quest.”
“Seraphina,” she said, “you and your brother must become two halves of the same whole. He will be a dreamer, living his life finding answers in the heavens above. You will be his guardian, left behind on the earth to protect his physical form.”
“However, my boy, you are special!” The elder said. “I’m sure that you and your sister can be the ones to save us all.”
“Are you saying you don’t trust me? The stars are all that I have, and you’re saying I might be losing my grasp on even them?”
“I’m saying that I want better for you than spending the rest of your life wandering this cursed desert! I don’t want you to die alone of thirst if I make a single mistake! We don’t even know if the ruins we’re looking for actually exist!”

The narration has the same tone. I don’t think that tone fits at all with the character of the warrior, either. It’s just waaaaay too long winded.

You do a decent job of building a non-standard zombie world, and the plot is okay, but the ending, daaaamn, saccharine to the max. And the final argument kind of comes out of nowhere and then is resolved so quickly. Argument also falls into the trap of “everyone says exactly what they mean at great lengths” and then someone throws a fit and runs off. Also, I was really bummed that Seraphina chased after her brother and made what seemed to me a half-assed apology instead of actually thinking -- how HAD they actually consistently found food in the giant loving desert. It’s pretty lucky that they had come across abandoned walkers often enough, maybe her brother wasn’t actually a waste of space.

Life is a Four-Dimensional Vector Moving Towards the Future

Oh boy, it’s one of THESE stories. Oh boy, you’ve totally nailed the “wow I’m an 18 year old and I don’t know what I’m doing but I sure am having SOME DEEP loving THOUGHTS” voice. Too bad that voice is horrible and makes me want to die. I hope the whole story isn’t like this. Please god, don’t let it be like this.

Seriously, if I wanted to read this, I could have read my own journal from 15 years ago and it would have been better, because it would have been me and I’m way more interested in myself than some hypothetical generic 18 year old who doesn’t know what to do with himself (or herself) because seriously. SERIOUSLY. I HATE YOU.

This isn’t a story and I hate this. I want to DM this on principle alone.

When the Epigraph is from the Story

I’m in a bad mood now, so I’m not sure about this meta title. There’s not even an epigraph to be from the story ;____; So uhhhhhh, biggest problem in this story is that woah, ending out of nowhere. Is that a twist ending? I guess so, and it’s bad. There’s just absolutely NOTHING leading up to it. And it all relies on tropes -- the drug addict, the responsible sibling, there’s no real individuals in the story, just cardboard cutouts. Really a bummer. To pull off the twist, you can’t let us into Marcus’s head because then you’d reveal his intention to cut out. It makes his character weak and distant. You do the same thing when we see the second scene from August’s perspective, though there’s not really any reason for that.

Why even tell her about the vacation thing if he was just going to leave for a long time anyway? Why not just walk out as soon as she showed up, why trick her into staying? Why does he even think she’ll stay and if he doesn’t, why wait for her to come. Ugggghhhhhhhh.


Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 05:20 on Oct 17, 2015

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's DIE!"

Comings and Goings Crits Part 2

These are copies from the Google Doc, so if you read them there, well, these are the same.

The Soldier

Voooooooiiiice yay. “she’s not got the sense God gave a rock and a dumber rock together.” Yessssssss. Still kind of dragging though. The voice is a little bit overwhelming and not much is happening, even with her chasing after the soldiers, really. I wish there was a little more emotion in the rivalry (?) between her and Molly. I don’t really see why she has to go chasing down the road to prove anything, and not turn back. It seems just...really dumb right now. And not understandable-in-character dumb, just inexplicable-but-necessary-for-plot dumb.
Him confessing he was deserting was really dumb, too. Seeeeeriously. Another writer falling prey to “everyone says exactly what they mean, what they want, and what they are going to do.” Alas.

I don’t know.

The Clock Strikes Midnight

This appears to be a comedic meeting of actual bombs. Okay. This is cute, just on the concept. Some of the dialogue is witty. The “you started it my friend” is not much of a reveal, but I’m not sure it even matters, given the nature of the thing. Not totally sure of the importance of the last bit -- I guess the Russian missile saves half of the target city by convincing the US missile to only target half and then shutting himself off?

This piece is cute and not much else, but I enjoyed reading it. If you were going for a grand statement on the futility of war or how having a bunch of weapons pointed at everyone just leads to spirals of destruction, too bad.

For Lack of Trying

Spoooooooky Mound. So, here’s the thing: I don’t like to be frightened, so I don’t read a lot of horror. If it fails, it’s hokey, and if it succeeds, it’s frightening. So it’s a no-win proposition for me. Your falling on the hokey side right now. A spooky mound is absorbing cows (I assume. If something else is happening to the cows, then it’s just a disapointing set up at this point), but I don’t really care. I’m trying to think of what would make this something I care about. If the farmer really needed the cows because he was broke? If he had kids that played in the meadow? I’m not sure. What actually makes something scary? I think one thing that helps is having a character who the reader cares about and can be scared. I don’t care about the farmer. I don’t care when he is absorbed.

You probably needed to use more time and more words.


The Cost of Existence

Man there are a LOT of war stories this week. OH MAN. A discussion on the philosophy of the motivations of war. Help me. Okay, soooooo, this is a lot of exposition-by-way-of-dialogue. And it’s hella boring. Gah I scrolled down and this whole story looks to be long-winded exposition dialogue ;____; I really hope it gets better. I feel like this first scene was a reaaaaaaally long winded way of establishing 3 simple facts: 1) Humans made robots or cyborgs or something to fight wars for them, 2) the robots/cyborgs/something rebelled and are now about to defeat humans, 3) this dude used to sleep with one of them who is now the ambassador. Surely that could have been done faster and in a more interesting manner. drat that was a boring and mostly pointless conversation.

And all the action in the second scene was basically long-winded dialogue, tooooooo. Surely there is a better way to tell this story, even if this is the story you wanted to tell, daaaamn. This reads like a movie script almost, but still with too much dialogue. You didn’t make use of the best part of writing: being able to get into a character’s head. You kind of forced it on yourself, in a way, since you had to POV switch at the end after Kingston gets his head cut off, but IMO you could have done that and still spent most of the time telling the story from Kingston’s perspective and given us a bit more of his character. Or told the story from Hexa’s perspective the entire time, even if you had to give away her betrayal from the beginning. That’s not always a bad thing, you know. Hanging on to a betrayal until the end is often cheap and lazy.


The pun of the first line kind of threw me, instead of engaging me. I expected Bria to literally be a plant for the next few paragraphs. After that misstep though, the first scene picked up. I really liked Bria waiting for a “sign” to startle her into dropping her engagement ring, and then intentionally dropping it. Universally understandable without being cliche. The rest of the story was a bit of a disappointment after that. I wish there were more clear moments of that rare humanity. There’s room for it, too, obviously, in the word count, and in the scenes.

Plot-wise, you’ve got Danny cheating, but also leaving immediately to go to Bria’s rescue, you could have added something there. He’s a cad, but also not completely callous. She has a good reason to want out, if she knows. I’m partially disappointed by that, in a way. I wish it was just her own lack of satisfaction rather than there needing to be this clear indication that it’s justified. Like, any reason for hesitation is justified when it comes to marriage, and I feel like there’s this constant need to excuse decisions to leave people. But I think you could have at least played up Danny’s own complicated feelings in a more satisfying way.

Ditto with her ambivalence while they are looking for the ring. She was looking for a sign to discard it, but then doesn’t actually call it off when he is there. She seems mollified, or at least to lose her courage when he is there reassuring her. A missed opportunity. You ran out of time, I assume. Really unfortunate, but I still like it.

This is an example of what I have said re: I’d rather read a 1500 word story than a 1000 word story. Another 500 words could have made this story excellent.

Mixed feelings due to incompleteness, mostly good.


First paragraph of this is REALLY intriguing. I like the way these characters are developing, too. Really fleshing them out with simply sketched details. “Dad frequently wonders when Mom will get that happy, pregnant glow. That beatific and mysterious radiance that a lifetime of books and movies have promised him.” drat. “There is no best-selling pre or post natal care book that Mom hasn’t read. There will be time for those gushy, lovey feelings later, she tells herself. What she isn’t ready to admit is, she’s terrified of the involuntary love that she’ll feel when I’m born.” Yeah. Oh drat this whole paragraph. Oh please, don’t let this story go bad on me. Pretty please.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I think it gets a little bit lost in itself, and stays basically the same for too long. There’s not actually much of an escalation of conflict. There’s certainly some tension between the two parents, and some uncertainty on the part of the unborn baby, but not exactly conflict. I wouldn’t like a bunch of increasingly angry arguments leading up to a miscarriage, that’s not what I mean. Maybe, just maybe, if the unborn baby had seen the other slip into the clouds earlier, and had started to look at the clouds earlier? I’m not sure. It’s beautifully written and I love the description of the parents and their differences and how their lives don’t quite fit together.


As the Crows Fly

A girl fighting a monster :3 At “She trailed the monster across yellow grass streaked with rust where it had run.” -- so far this is straight YA fantasy/action and not poorly done. If you can wrap it up neatly (without it just being “girl kills a monster”) in the word count, power to you. If you make it more than that, I will be pretty stoked.

Ah well, it ended up being just “girl kills a monster,” but executed all right. There’s nothing to make this a stand-alone story instead of a scene out of a larger work. Reyal isn’t much of a character and there’s not much to the setting other than bad-rear end feather capes. It was well done, and this is my jam, so if you write anything else about this character or in this world that is also about YA girl characters, let me read it.

Competent, A++ pandering, too bad not quite a complete story, IMO. Is it? I dunno, maybe the other judges will think so. Now I’m not sure. Really just seems like an action scene even though it makes all the other dudes declare her queen. Shouldn’t her mom be queen though.

A Fever of Thyself

Yah, characters. That mysterious thing I call “voice.” I...hahaha.


Personal Savior

Yeah, down with this concept 100%. Especially the part where she thinks “Awkward.” This is an old trope. A really old trope. The only way to pull it off is personality of the character. So far, this one is working for me. VOICE. Voooooiiiiiiiiiiiice. Look at how well we are in her head. We are reading exactly how she is thinking. I love it. I loooooooooove it. She is like a real person so quickly. It works so well. This might be a love her or hate her character, but I really like it. If so, A++ pandering. You nailed it again (the pandering).

You nailed the action, good for you, way to improve. Please write something longer so this scene has some loving context.

This was fun. FUN.


I really have to question the wisdom of starting any story with someone staring at a computer screen. Especially a computer screen doing nothing. It’s like a double dose of nothing happening. I….. am I reading an angry nerd story???????? I just read something about spittle. 1) Wtf kind of mom just wanders off when she has a fight with her son? 2) Who the gently caress still plays Plants vs. Zombies?

Okay, I think there’s a way in which a teenage son could have the only serious fight with his mom on the night before he leaves for college, but uh… it would have to be told differently than it was in this story. Probably the biggest problem is that the argument lacks any subtlety whatsoever. Teens aren’t exactly known for their subtlety, but there should be something more leading up to the boiling-over rage. Also...Angry teen, yawn.

Edit: I could have read my high school journals for this poo poo.

The First Time Always Hurts

Good first line. I liked the lawyer bit a lot, probably obviously. Probably could have kept going. Last line was real meh, not a good ending, but time and stuff.


Really good first few paragraphs, but then quickly devolves into really boring nothingness and the end is just that same obnoxious Choice bullshit set-up that I really hate. I REALLY hate that. Or, at least I think it’s that Choice thing that I hate -- the false choice, where he dies at the end anyway, and all that mattered was he made the wrong choice? Normally it’s you get to choose between killing one random person and you get a ton of money and you choose the money and then you go to hell, and I hate that one b/c it’s probably better to take a billion dollars and buy a bunch of malaria nets and donate to medical research and save tons of lives at the expense of one random life, right? Like, I’m not even going to critique your story because I just hate the concept. Also there’s nothing else to critique b/c it’s just a woman in a suit and a dying dude talking in weird-rear end financial speak about accounts that probably mean sin, but who gives a poo poo about this random dude’s soul? Not me, sir. Or ma’am.

gently caress you. I could have read my high school journals for this poo poo.

The Magician's Pupil

I like magicians who ride motorcycles.
“They’ll be ample time in the morning to ask after your sons.”
there’ll be? or maybe that’s just for color?
“The scarf was brilliant, gold and crimson.” So either Gryffindor or USC. I’m hoping USC. Go Trojans.
All of his doings in the village are REALLY boring. Seriously, I don’t care that he is wandering around distributing charms. Or that everyone is following him. All of these attitudes were sufficiently established, basically nothing interesting is happening at this point, it’s all filler. All that matters is that he’s going to accept an apprentice and it’s gonna be Sasha probably and nothing else matters. Ugh. Make something else happen.
The other thing that happened wasn’t good enough! It’s also that old gag, man, what is that myth, where they catch the moon in the lake? there are other ones, too. It’s not a bad one, the drawing is not a bad version of it. If you do a better lead up, it could work.

The problem here is that everything is on the surface, so you end up wasting a bunch of words on boring, obvious stuff. Everything is far too straightforward and neither of the main characters actually become interesting. It’s perfectly clear from the beginning what’s going to happen, but you never manage to make us care. I’ll try to give you a more detailed crit later, because this is the kind of thing that I should really dig.

This should have been A++ Pandering! Boooooo! (that means I should like it, FYI)

Taste Test

This one is DQed for being way late.
“There was a letter on the table, with the school's on it.” The school’s what???? :(
Biggest problem with this story is that it’s a bunch of clipped dialogue. For me, there’s not enough of what Tess is thinking. Getting into a character’s head is the great strength of writing over other formats. This is like transcribing a movie. Or even just reading a screen play.

I like the use of food as a way to “test” the potential step-mom, but at the same time, there is still the problem of dialogue being too on-the-nose. Especially combined with the nearly-only-dialogue, it makes the story extremely shallow. I do like the last line where she apologizes to her mom.

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 05:22 on Oct 17, 2015

Mar 21, 2013


Grimey Drawer


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


we got a quality group this week, bring your A-game

Aug 2, 2002

Paging tyran to thread. Did you forget about SPORTS?

Feb 25, 2014


Crits for Tarot Card Week Part 1

This is in judgemode, so all crits start with titles

The title that starts with Egypt and goes wayyyyyyy too long.

While Reading Notes:

You submitted this two days before the deadlines. Probably not a good idea. Your title also blows a big hard one. Right when I read it, I’m thinking “poo poo, this is going to be another story where the author is purple prosey and tries to be all cute and I’m gonna barf today, gently caress.” Your title blows for multiple. First, read it out loud. “Out of Egypt, into the great laugh of mankind, and I shake the snow from my feet as I run.” It reads awful, the shift from into the great laugh into and I shake is awkward, and that last part runs on for too long. “Out of Egypt,” on its own, is a fine title with no context of the story. Nothing too special, but it’s a title, it’s fine. “into the great laugh of mankind.” Wtf does that even mean. So, someone gets out of egypt and then into the great laugh of mankind? What in the flying gently caress is a laugh of mankind? Like, huh? Then how do I go into that? There’s metaphors, and there’s things that make absolutely no sense. “and I shake the snow from my feet as I run.” That construction is so awkward. It’s so wordy, and does too much, and tries to say too much, and doesn’t make any sense since you already used Egypt, so wtf, why is there snow? I have so many complaints about your title, and I HAVEN'T EVEN READ YOUR STORY YET. gently caress, this title is so completely awful. Even long winded titles are usually bad because you want it to be short and snappy and get the reader’s interest because it has an interesting idea or phrasing, not overly long and stupid.


Blue-white fingers scrape my cheeks and orange jaws snap at my flanks. The snow flies behind me as the shimmering spirits chase me. With one last push, I'm under the awning. She opens the door and reaches down and unbuckles my harness. I knock her over and lick her face and wag my tail. I'm glad to come inside, away from the visions until tomorrow.

Wtf, why are finger scraping his chest, and orange jaws? What is happening? Where am I? What is going on here????????? I’m so confused.

Stop using triadic structured sentences. They are too wordy and they don’t flow right, especially if you keep using them. Using them too much puts so much attention onto them that it’s hard to not notice, and when I start noticing, that’s a bad thing.


As I lie in bed, she tells me about California, where the sun shone all day and you couldn't see your breath outside.

clearly, she’s only heard about California, because it still gets cold here, and if you’ve been to SF you’d lol at the idea of the sun shining all day. (i’m anticipating that dockloc will say something along these lines. bay area goon squad represent).


In the morning, she hums while she packs notebooks and scrap metal and a single letter into my sled.

You see, here’s where your triadic sentences gets you in trouble. When you make your sentences like this, I start glancing over your words, and it turns out, this single letter is really important to the plot of your story, but because it doesn’t seem to be significant in your sentence, I don’t notice it or pay much mind to it. Don’t do this. Make the important stuff clear.

STOP DOING thing and thing and thing SENTENCES. gently caress. IT IS SO ANNOYING. Like, they’re not even grammatically correct. It goes, thing, thing, and thing. Jesus christ.


She pushes two pills from the bottle down her throat, drapes the blanket over her shoulders, and opens the letter.

Holy poo poo, three things in a sentence that’s grammatically correct!?

Ok, I’m Done Reading Now:

Surprisingly, your story isn’t completely awful. However, it misses one crucial little detail, why the gently caress do I care? Like, cool, you got a dog story. I love dog stories. But also the dog is like a super dog who’s really smart? I can actually see this working as a poem, to be honest. You have some nice imagery, but you fall in love with the imagery that you forget that you’re supposed to write characters. Also, your imagery is mostly useless, as in, does not advance the plot at all. It’s an obstacle, but you spend an inordinate amount of time on the one obstacle that it becomes long winded. You could really capture something in these images and give us something nice in a poem. HOWEVER this isn’t a poem. This is a story. As a story, I have no reason to care. You spend so much time on these visions or spirits or whatever the gently caress they are, but you have no character. You have this chick who owns the dog, and the dog, and they do things that I don’t understand why. So, I was confused the first time through, because you didn’t express that the dog was delivering mail to the other guys. So the dog delivers mail to these guys because ? and then he goes back and the girl is dying because ? and then the girl tries to get a girl dog because apparently the dog was lonely and wanted kids and the girl knew that?????????? except that was never set up early in your story and it being the resolution feels inadequate because that apparently was the conflict? Or was it the conflict? I mean, what is the conflict? That the girl is dying? Because she doesn’t look very dying to me in the first part. Also, the dog doesn’t do anything to help, so maybe it’s the dog wrestling with the spirits, which are like his inner doubts, but I have no clue why he has his doubts. And then he doesn’t even really beat his inner fears, just the girl finds some dog far away for this dog to gently caress (also lol that this makes me think that the dog wants to gently caress the protag because if that’s intentional lololololololol go kill yourself), and the dog doesn’t do anything, so it feels lame because the resolution happens for him, rather than because of him. Also, lol, good luck to that dog getting to that place eight days away. That’s one hell of a trip in a frozen post apocalyptic wasteland where he relies on people to get food. That dog’s gonna die getting there.

I know it may sound like I hate your story, which I kind of do, but there’s something here. Your prose has a lot of potential (I’m not saying it’s loving magic or anything, but you have a good understanding of how to make images), but you feel very much in love with certain ideas and don’t know how to kill your babies. Like you had those visions in your head and spent so much time ejaculating out every word that you forgot that the climax isn’t satisfying without any buildup. Like, cool, you have this image, but you spend all your time on it and don’t let the character or plot shine. Those elements, the character and plot, feel like an afterthought when they should be the forefront of your story. These images can work if they complement the story, but as it stands, they feel like the focus of your story, and it’s weaker because of that.

0.5 :shittydog:s out of 10. Middle. (You have to understand, this dog is really, really, really good, so even getting a partial dog is an achievement).

Mundane Measure

Another early submission but apparently you had an excuse of being a dumb idiot, so great work there I guess.

While Reading Notes:


Yin realized one Wednesday that an odd shadow in her front yard was not an ordinary shadow.

Hmmmm, an odd shadow was not an ordinary shadow, interesting. It’d be great if I knew why that shadow was odd when you describe. Maybe, if you showed me why the shadow was odd, then you wouldn’t have to tell me it wasn’t an ordinary shadow.


She figured this out not because the shadow’s changes didn’t map to light sources or objects, but because when she checked her Mundanity Score, it had ticked down a point. 799.

Do not, I repeat, do not tell me what didn’t happen. I don’t care what didn’t, tell me what did happen. For example say “The shadow wasn’t odd because all it did was act like a normal shadow. No, it was odd because when she checked…”

What does the opening paragraph have to do with the second line. “Hey, there is a strange shadow” to “oh, now I’m not getting a promotion.” How do those connect? It makes no sense. Ok, it kind of makes sense after reading it all, but it needs to be more clear that the Mundanity Score is referring to Yin, rather than referring to the shadow. When the shadow is being called odd, and something’s Mundanity Score is going down and I have no context for it, I’m going to assume the shadow’s Mundanity Score is going down.

Hmmmmm, four paragraphs, I don’t see why I care.


She argued with her husband every night about leaving. Now that she had been blocked from the COO job, their finances couldn’t take the hit from relocating. The loan terms would be too unfavorable because of their low scores. No one would buy a house with a lurking shadow on the property. She did not want to move to her in-laws’ place; adult children were not meant to be dependent on their parents. Besides, her mother-in-law hated Yin, and this was her house. She would not be chased from it.

Yes, this is fascinating riveting stuff about the logistics of moving. I am so compelled and want to keep reading this boring stuff literally about mundanity. I wish killing yourself was mundane so your story would do it. Also, lol that mother-in-law hates the wife. Can we stop with that trope? We’ve done that a million times that you don’t even have to loving say it anymore.
Holy poo poo, this is so boring. Like wtf, you are detailing all the boring crap that people do in life for some loving reason. I don’t want to read about someone selling their poo poo because they have poor credit. I want to read about things happening that are interesting.


Frost rimed the copper mug it gripped in its oddly detailed hands.

I have no clue what any of this means. Proofread. I don’t care if you’re hurting, the reader comes first! Don’t make your readers feel pain from reading your story.

Ending blows. Shadow comes in, predictably, and is sentient or something? Idk don’t care.

Ok, I’m Done Reading Now:

This story is downright awful. I know it’s you Redtonic, and I know you can write better than this. One of the problems is that your protagonist is reactive rather than proactive. Everything that happens in this story happens because of something outside of the protagonist, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because proactive protagonist are hard to do in a flash, she does pretty much nothing to try to resolve her situation. She just sits back, lets her life go to poo poo without any effort. She does nothing to fight back the shadow, does nothing to try get her life into control, she just stabilizes it as best she can (and as cliche as she can) until it eventually falls apart. Also, making your story about the mundane may have been a bad choice because the mundane is usually boring and idk about you, but I like reading about interesting stuff. Everything in this story is boring. The shadow is boring when it shouldn’t be, the entire story is like the most generic “oh no im poor now” story with all the events happening exactly how they should without the protagonist doing anything about it, then the ending comes along and resolves nothing. Also, there’s like no point in having it be called a Mundanity Score. It could just be called a credit score and the shadow for some reason drops your credit rating. It’s not even a metaphor if it’s exactly the same thing. There’s no character either. She just takes everything going to poo poo and doesn’t have any emotions or feelings or action against it. No personality at all.

2 :geno:s out of 10. DM or loss. thank DANCE WITH ME for saving your rear end.


Reading Notes:

The interview is the most generic police interviewing guy that probably did kill his wife. It’s boring too and feels unnecessary.

I audibly laughed when I read “her weakness sickens me.” No one says that. That is not a thing normal human beings say or write.

God, what are you doing? Your switching between interviews, diaries, and regular prose? Can you stick to one thing instead of forcing me to go back and forth and figure out wtf you’re trying to say?


Thomas waited for a chance to talk to Mr Maxwell about taking time off. He could hear him and his sons arguing inside Maxwell`s office. He peeped inside the door, which was slightly open. “What are we to do with this area boys? Maxwell senior pointed at a map over the woodlands . His sons were like him all dressed in workmen`s overalls.. “ I say we clear cut it all, sell the timber and build another slaughter house there. Frank his youngest responded «I have just heard back from the county, they claim this area lies outside our property. They`ll sue if we try to clear it.” Maxwell laughed and said “I won`t be bullied. The property limits are described perfectly well in the deed”. We`ll just fight them in court if we need to”. His sons looked at each other askance “Father that`s a risky strategy. Even if we win it will make us look bad. People love going on walks around the lake. Besides, it was dear to mother”.” Jonah the eldest son spoke up” She would not have wanted this”.“ Enough! “ Maxwell exclaimed” I don`t understand you boys, your mother drowned herself in that lake. How could you have any love for it?”. “ I don`t know why father, but I often go there to think. I feel closer to her there”. Jonah said.
“ Well I don`t give drat. We will be clearing that whole area and draining the lake next summer, end of discussion!”.

I have no words. This is a mess. The dialogue is outright awful, but worse of all, I can’t even figure out what is dialogue and what isn’t. There’s like three guys talking but it’s all one paragraph! Like, wtf, this grammar is all wrong and horrible and woooooooooooow.


Wtf was that?


Ok, I’m Done Reading Now:

lolololololololololololol. This is horrendous, this is stupid, this has a million grammar mistakes, a stupid story that fuses a bunch of different medias for no loving reason. This is a complete mess that the best advice I can give for you is to never do any of the things you did in this story ever again. There’s no character, the plot is bare bones and has the dude murdering that one guy for seemingly no reason (I figured out that he was going to tear down the lake, so then the ghosts would be sad but the leap in logic is so loving extreme and baffling and comes completely out of nowhere). Then there’s a twist-like ending. gently caress. Like, I really have no words for this story. It is so god awful in everything it does that I would have to write like 3 pages breaking this down as to why it is so bad. Jesus

-100000 :butt:s out of 10. Lose.

Ok for reals now, I’m on judgemode.

Divided by a Lemniscate

Reading Notes:

Don’t open with the sun jesus christ. Don’t give me measurements either, who loving cares exactly how many feets/inches/whatever anything is.

Oh god, an I/P story, this is going to go swell.

Something about this writing is off. I feel very disconnected, possibly because it’s passive? I’d have to do a line by line to pinpoint more exactly why I feel this way, but I’m not quite sure. I think the word choices are pretty weak for the situation, like I don’t quite get the feeling that this is an actual protest and I’m not getting a good feeling of character.

Bleh, the second scene blows. The dialogue feels too on-nose, just saying everything the characters feel. Try to capture more of what people say in-between what we say. For example, people don’t say “I just want to be a good Jew, follow the Torah. But I feel that my position in the IDF prevents me from doing so”. People say “I feel like this job, it’s not helping much,” or something that isn’t doesn’t just explicitly say everything and specifically what they feel.

Ok, I’m Done Reading Now:

This isn’t awful, I will admit. Like I said earlier, your prose feels very detached at moments where I should feel engaged. Your characters aren’t brilliantly compelling, and they don’t have much to them besides a few points, but they at least have kind of personalities I guess? It’s not too compelling of a read, what with the mediocre prose and not too interesting characters, but it has a plot, it has things happening, and kind of has themes. I think you need to push character harder in this story, and it might actually be good.

4 :fireman:s out of 10. Middle

Hell Has a Beach

Reading Notes

Slow down with the metaphors and similes, we’ve got like three in like five paragraphs. Also, I kind of wish the metaphors were doing more. I like the snowglobe simile, but I think it needs to have more thematic resonance with the story. The wolf simile is obvious and boring. The eardrum metaphor is decent I guess, but it isn’t too interesting. Try to space them out more and make them really odd and thematically stronger.

Ok, look, this is something I haven’t seen a lot in Thunderdome, but I’ve seen it in a couple stories this week, but you have to be conscious of how many times you use a literary device like similes/metaphors because once you start using them too much, instead of them being startling or interesting, I start to focus on them and I stop noticing what the metaphor/simile is doing and noticing that it is another goddamn metaphor/simile jesus christ come up with something new!!!

A non-ending, fantastic.

Ok, I’m Done Reading Now

You have some nice imagery, but it feels pretty paint by the number metaphor of war is hell. Also, you have like no character. I think the part of Kowolski or whatever the gently caress his name is being killed was supposed to be meaningful, but I literally felt nothing when I read he died because all I knew was that 1) he was seasick and 2) he had a special handkerchief. That doesn’t make a character. Also, your main character wasn’t a character either because I can’t think of one character trait for him besides “soldier.” He views war as hell, but I mean, I think most soldiers think that??? or he didn’t have a particularly unique outlook on how war is hell to him personally, so it doesn’t resonate.

5 :derp:s out of 10. Middle

Goodbye Bucharest

I got bored and started doing my crits in IRC because :shrug: why not

[01:36] <Broenheim> three paragraphs in and bucharest is rly good already
[01:36] <morningbell> its downhill from there (Bro note: this is true)
[01:38] <Broenheim> why are there ghosts in this story?
[01:38] <KillerofLawyers> Because every story needs ghosts.
[01:38] <Broenheim> i disagree
[01:41] <Broenheim> man, this story shouldve just been about people drinking and having a good time rather than about dumb ghosts and poo poo
[01:42] <Broenheim> wait did this dude just explode into cocaine or something?
[01:43] <Broenheim> wait what is this ending?
[01:43] <Broenheim> ughhhhh this story had so many good moments
[01:44] <Broenheim> but then it's a bunch of weird dumb nonsense for no reason
[01:44] <Broenheim> why you do this to me ? Unknown ?

[01:46] <Broenheim> no, it looks his coke just exploded in his jacket, but he's covered in white dust somehow
[01:46] <Broenheim> though it wasnt set up at all and then all of sudden he's covered in white dust after being attack by ghost lady so im like ????????

Real Crit:

This story had some great moments. I loved, absolutely loved, how you characterized these people. The opening three paragraphs were a ton of fun, with some great character details and I was with you and wanted to keep reading. But then ghosts? And then, oh the guy has coke for some reason. And then the ending was… what? Like that came out of nowhere that he had coke, and then cops, and I’m like, what is the focus of this story? Is it about cool guys chilling out and having a party, spooky ghosts, trying to get laid, or about drugs? I have no loving clue and I have a feeling you don’t either. So, try to focus this a bit more. This could be a really fun story since there’s a lot of fun poo poo in it, just drop the ghosts because gently caress ghosts. They don’t fit in this story. Make a story about trying to get laid with a bunch of friends because I think that’s more your style. Or, keep the ghosts, and make the story about ghosts. Either way, stick with one idea.

5.5 :ghost:s out of 10. Middle

The Ethics of Parasitism

[01:50] <Broenheim> ok one more story
[01:50] <Broenheim> ethics in video game journalism
[01:50] <Broenheim> i mean parasitism
[01:51] <Broenheim> there are five ellipses in the first paragraph
[01:51] <Broenheim> plz kill me
[01:51] <Broenheim> ughhh then he even points out that the ellipses/pauses are annoying but then why the gently caress did you leave them in your story?
[01:52] <Broenheim> anddddddddd vampires
[01:52] <Broenheim> at least they're up front
[01:54] <Broenheim> and PoV shifts
[01:58] <KillerofLawyers> Welp, time for more sub level zero.
[01:59] <Broenheim> ok, not PoV shift, just out of order
[01:59] <Broenheim> not as lovely, but still lovely
[01:59] <KillerofLawyers> There's a ton of stories that do things out of order.
[02:00] <Broenheim> this doesnt do it well because i thought 1) i thought it was a PoV shift
[02:00] <Broenheim> 2) i didn't know the narrator was previously a cop, then it was a cop scene
[02:01] <Broenheim> i had no reason to suspect it was out of order and was about the narrator based on the previous scene
[02:01] <KillerofLawyers> Oh, ok. You mean in that particular story. I thought you meant that you just didn't like time shifts.
[02:03] <Broenheim> im not a fan of time shifts, but it's like PoV shifts and the like, in that most writers don't know how to do them, but a good writer can make them work

Real Crits

Idk, I wasn’t very interested in this story. None of your characters are very interesting, just kind of generic private investigator or something? I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t really give a poo poo about anybody or anything in this. It’s kind of just generic “kind of dirty ex-cop takes on one last job and has to kill his old friend, who is a jerk now” but with vampires but that doesn’t add anything to the story and could’ve easily been taken out and replaced with some other plot detail. There’s no real relationship between these characters, no connection they have to each other, so when they all start interacting, it falls flat on its rear end and is boring. Your writing is ok, there’s some exposition in that’s lame, but I want more character interactions. I want to feel what your characters are feeling because right now, I feel nothing at all reading your story.

4.5 :drac:s out of 10. Middle


Reading Notes

Four paragraphs in. Bored. Nothing happening.

gently caress, make things happen. Please.

Ok, I’m Done Now:

Exposition, the story. Everything that happens in this story is so disconnected and boring because your character is relaying it to us from the past. I don’t feel engaged in the slightest. You characterize the protag and the other kid decently, so good work there I guess, but this story has nothing going on and I was bored the whole way through. The sunflowers are weird since they feel like they want to be a theme in your story, but they don’t seem to have any emotional resonance in the story, just kind of thrown in as an out of place detail. There’s some things happening, aka, where the protag hits some kids, but that’s about it. There’s no real overarching conflict, since it wanes from bullies to the relationship between the protag and the boy to kids dealing with the build up of war, that I don’t know exactly where this story is going. I think if you placed us in a moment rather than some kind of weird exposition/story telling narrator that this could work better. Right now, it’s boring as all hell.


Reading Notes

“Sits in the dark… green glow.” Hmmmm, a green glow isn’t very dark, know what I mean?

Welp, I read through the whole way without having to write anything, so, good work there I guess.

Ok, I’m Done Reading Now:

This is weird. This story works in spite of itself. The main character is incredibly passive, just watching these people without interacting, so it feels like a wrong choice to have this as a narrator. It kind of works at the end, but still, it feels wrong. Also, your character feels super creepy and I’m really happy you didn’t detail the boning because then it’d get super pervy. The biggest issue, I think, is that the shift from Hugo being jealous of them to liking them happens out of nowhere. He watches them for a while, a girl who is obviously fond of constantly loving (I presume) some other dude that he hates, and he likes it? I mean, lol, the cuck meme. The writing is strong at most places, although there are a lot of moments that happen just because you tell it. “Hugo’s jealousy had cooled, to the point that he was ashamed of ever having felt it, and he had come to grow fond of the two of them, together.” That should not be told to us, that should be shown. The ending is decent, predictable, but I think that Control needed to be understood more. Like, why did Control take so long to arrest this guy if he’s Maximum Pertinence? I get that Control is a Big Brother like, but I don’t quite understand it completely. Anyways, this story did keep my interest. Hugo was characterized well, although the shifts in personality need to take more time and for you really show it to us rather than say “oh, he’s not jealous anymore.” I like the girl, she had some cool characterization, though I kind of wish she did more rather than just being a pretty girl Hugo likes. What if the girl was the smuggler instead of being a perfect pretty face for Hugo to jack off to? That’d be more interesting, especially because the smuggler isn’t very interesting as a character and would add depth to the girl when she lacks a good amount of depth. Then you could work with Hugo having to wonder if he should defy Control because he likes this girl, or get her arrested because she’s a criminal. Oh well, I’m not here to tell you how to write your story, just spit balling idea.

6.5 :nsa:s out of 10. The best story so far, but probably not an HM imo.

Feb 25, 2014


tarot card week part2

my brother, among the dunes

While Reading Notes

Wow that opening line is way too long and I have no idea what “the path” is or any context.


“Sera! There is no doubt in my heart that the stars will guide us to the center before the next cycle of the moon! Our village will be saved yet!”

Thunderdome, thunderdome, thunderdome. When will you ever learn how people talk? I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

The Forsaken? Wtf is this, Warcraft? And they’re undead too, lololololol.

This dialogue is so loving obvious, god drat it. Stop with that. Please. People don’t just say things like “you and your brother must become two halves of the same whole. He will be a dreamer, living his life finding answers in the heavens above. You will be his guardian, left behind on the earth to protect his physical form.” I don’t give a poo poo if you’re doing some stupid fable tone or whatever because even then, not everyone talks like this.

lol your protag is loving stupid. It’s so obvious they’re sending the kid out to be killed into the desert and the protag’s like “oh my little brother looks happy so I’m gonna go with him into the desert and die with him because he’s happy.” gently caress, that’s so stupid.

drat, how’d they survive for two years?

I don’t think any of your dialogue ends with periods. it’s always exclamation marks. Fun fact: if you start using something a lot, the effect is lost.


“I… I haven’t actually accomplished anything?” He whispered, curling up and hugging his knees. “This entire time, I’ve just been a burden to you?” I took a tentative step towards him, extending my hand, but he drew away from me. “Just… leave me alone. Please.”

Well, that was a quick revelation. Happened pretty suddenly for a delusional idiot with his head in the clouds.

And then a sitcom ending where everybody learned a valuable lesson but in reality, nothing changed.

Ok, I’m Done Now:

This was dumb and bad. The dialogue was atrocious, most of this story is exposition, and I do not care at all. I think you were trying to make the little brother endearing, but he was just dumb, and the sister was was supposed to be practical, but she was still p. dumb in letting her clearly mentally challenged brother go on a stupid loving quest that was just to get rid of him. Like, christ, wtf was that? Anyways, I was bored, had no reason to care about the characters.

3 :downswords:s of 10. possible DM.

Life is a Four Dimensional Vector Moving Towards the Future

What kind of AP English class has you write a letter to future self, that’s like, freshman english or middle school english.

I can’t give an honest critique of this tbh. Your hitting a little too close to home. This isn’t really a story, I like it because, yeah, you p. much wrote me both now and in the past. But it isn’t a story, just like a diary entry. I won’t let this DM or loss or anything (at least, I’ll try), but this isn’t something you critique. It feels too genuine and personal for me to say anything about.

indeterminate out of 10.

When the Epigraph is from the Story

Reading Notes:

Oh god, please don’t be meta.

Why are you using a cliche phrase like “if looks can kill,” gently caress.

Ok, I’m Done Reading Now:

Uh huh… I think I liked this? The dialogue is good at some parts, but the last scene, where things should be really good and top notch, feels a bit ham fisted and obvious. I think this is because you don’t have the side characters, the sister and mother, fully fleshed out yet, so you give them kind of generic dialogue. Also, please, why is it always “he left, just like his father.” That’s done sooooooooooooooo much, do something else for once. You characterize a dysfunctional family pretty well. There’s this honestness, this unwillingness of this story to sugar coat thing, that I really enjoy. Everyone’s kind of a piece of poo poo, but it works, because in real life, everyone is kind of a piece of poo poo. I sympathize, although I don’t wholly agree, with Marcus. Leaving her mom with a drug addict seems like a lovely thing to do, but it’s believable to me. Though one odd thing is that I don’t feel like Marcus is an adult because his mom calls him lazy bones and he lives with his mom. I feel like you could’ve give a bit more nuance to the junkie sister, she feels a bit generic. However, I read this from start to finish without really stopping, and it was an interesting read. It’s not perfect, and it needs work to flesh out the side characters more, but it’s a story that doesn’t pull any punches and I like that. You have Marcus down pretty well.

7.5 :stonk:s out of 10. Possible HM.

The Soldier

Reading Notes:

“taint caring.” i’ve been taint cared again!

I’m so bored and this dialect is getting in the way, i have to keep re-reading poo poo and it’s taking way too long.

I’m Done Reading Now:

The intro goes on wayyyyyy too long, but the ending’s interesting. The handle on dialogue at that final scene is very well done, it’s actually good dialogue for once in a lifetime. Still, nothing really happens, and your protagonist doesn’t really do anything. Why not make the main character the soldier defecting from the army. Why is this girl your main character? All your character does is talk to a person, which isn’t very interesting. You choose the wrong perspective imo, and it’s really boring because of that.

6 :thumbsup: out of 10 (i cant think of any good smilies for this). Middle.

The Clock Strikes Midnight

Why do we have two israelis story this week???

Done Reading Now:

I liked this, the dialogue isn’t terrible, although a bit obvious. I don’t feel too compelled by these characters overall. The pacing feels a bit off, not a lot happens for quite a while besides a lot of talking. Idk, something about this story leaves me at a lose for words. I get what you’re trying to do, and you achieve it to an extent, and while I was interested, I don’t think it was that great. It’s good, but I think it needs more action.

5 :supaburn:s out of 10

For Lack of Trying

Reading Notes:

Why do metaphorical things always seem to move? It’s so weird that everyone does that.


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.

What, why? This comes completely out of nowhere.

Ok, I’m Done Reading Now

Hi Grizzled Patriarch, i’m about 90% sure it’s you. I mean, this is a p. obvious metaphor for cancer, and it’s kind of cool, but I think this would better as a prose poem or a regular poem than a story. I don’t have much care about the main character and the character just seems to do things without much rhyme or reason to them, like they fell like “well, I need my character to drop a coin on it, so ehhhhh, he’ll just do it” and it feels weird. Idk, I liked the imagery, but I just didn’t really care about most of this story. There’s no real plot or character or story elements and not a lot happens. This isn’t a very good story, unfortunately, although the writing is pretty strong, but not enough to really elevate this into anything more.

6 :weed:s out of 10. Middle.

The Cost of Existence

Reading Notes

Sweet, opening with boring dialogue.

And the exposition about robo-ambassador, yay.

Wow i’m bored.

I’m going on a limb, and I’m not sure why, but I have a feeling this is KoL’s story.

I’m Done Reading Now:

I do not caaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee at all. I don’t who this people are, who their races are, why the gently caress any of this happening, anything whatsoever. I am so bored and this is a stupid sci-fi plot for no reason that has nothing interesting going on cause it is only talking and its boring and stupid and for christ’s sake people please make me care, I want to care, I want to not be bored, BUT I KEEP BEING BOREDDDDDD PLEASE STOP BEING BORING DEAR GOD.

3 :robolove:s out of 10. Possible DM.


This is the best story so far, and I have a feeling it’s either Kaishai or Ironic Twist (he might be mixing me up with his line breaks, or is he in? idk), leaning more towards Kaishai. The first scene was well done, the second scene was a bit meh, but it made the third scene a lot more interesting. I wish the resolution resolved things. Like, I have no idea what is going to happen. Is she going to let go, or is she going to be back? Though there’s a lot of things I like. I like the flowers, I like how the guy says he’s going to buy back everything, that he thinks if he keeps buying her what she wants, he gets to keep her while he’s loving on the side. The relationship is strained in an odd way, and the details are well placed. It’s just a shame that the ending resolves nothing about this, doesn’t give me any answers to the questions I have lingering. This needs to be expanded and I’ll really like this story. Still, good work.

8.5 :bernget:s out of 10. Win. (Win so far).


This is interesting, and it has a certain charm to it. I wouldn’t say this is the best story, since I think the protagonist is pretty passive for my taste, but it’s an interesting perspective explored through an interesting manner with interesting, nuanced characters. I think this is Sitting Here’s (oh wait, I just remembered that she submitted later sooooooo maybe I’m wrong here. Still, emulated sh’s style p. well, so that’s good). I did like this story, though I think love-lies-bleeding is a better story, this still works in an odd unique way that I can’t help but like it. Still, there was a moment while reading this, that if this was spruced up a bit, especially in the ending, and making the character’s decision much more active, that I see this being published because there’s a certain beauty to this that I like. It’s cool and creative. I think a direction this could be taken is that it becomes the child choice to leave or not and set that up earlier. It also meanders about at points, so it needs to be tightened up.

8 :sever:s out of 10. HM.

As the Crows Fly

Things happened! You had a character doing things that make sense that also relate to their characters! I have never been so excited in my life for people to tell a loving basic story!!! Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But don’t get too happy because this wasn’t amazing. The ending, of the character feeling alone, doesn’t make sense because I never got that there was a theme of loneliness at all in the story. You should probably explore the relationship between the king and her daughter (and you should also make it crystal loving clear that the king is the protag’s dad because you switch between king and father that I wasn’t sure if they were two separate characters or the same people at first), so then when he dies, I feel sad, and when she avenges him, I feel happy, and when she becomes queen, but with her father dead, I feel bittersweet. Explore these relationships. Still, you told an ACTUAL STORY so, I’m proud of you ? Unknown ?

6.5 :derptiel:s out of 10 (the only bird smilie). Middle.

A Fever of Thyself

Reading Notes:

Noooooooooooo don’t use vague pronouns in the opening, pleasssseeeeee. Though it is an interesting opener.

Done Reading Now

Ok, so this is either Twist or GP, not sure. This is also WTF the story. Like, weird things just start happening because metaphors, but like, why? Like, sure, this is a weird story, but the weirdness just seems to be there, an arbitrary creation on the part of the writer, rather than feeling natural. The weirdness is almost too on-point, like it’s so perfectly weird in how it represents everything she feels. Also, the dude acts like a loving dog for some reason? Like, things are just happening for some reason, and I’m just screaming WHYYYYYYYYY. I get that it’s a metaphor, but even then, I want some logic to it, some kind of sense, rather than this weird poo poo that I have. It operates on 0 logic. Like divorce, makes sense, but then the guy stays in the house, and the girl lets him stay? like, that doesn’t make sense at all, and feels arbitrary, like you had to keep him in there to do what you wanted to do. It just feels so unnatural. Anyways, the writing is strong and there is some character, it’s just this feels like an incredibly contrived story that I didn’t enjoy as much as I should. Being weird doesn’t give you a pass on basic story structure and making some kind of sense. It feels very clear to me that this story is written, that the things happen because somebody willed them to happen then happening because of an internal logic. I want to compare this to For Lack of Trying, because that was a metaphor story too, but it operated on a simple logic. The mound of moss is a tumor. The things that happened to the moss and what it did made sense based on that. In this, things are happening oddly for no real underlying logic. The guy stays in the house because ?. The house grows in size because ?. Things happen without a because and it hurts the story. Anyways, that’s a long rant because I feel like this story should be good and that I’m feel like I’m wrong in not liking this story, but here’s my reasonings.

6.5 :shrug:s out of 10. Middle.

Personal Savior

Oh wait, nvm on that KoL earlier, this is his. I remember him talking about italics and poo poo in IRC.

This is just kind of pulpy sci-fi nonsense with like a kind of wacky plot of trying to save yourself? but it’s kind of just dumb. Like, it’s kind of fun I guess, and it has like a conflict and barebones character, but it doesn’t do anything else. It’s just a silly little story that I personally would never read on my spare time, and it doesn’t really do much else that’s interesting or unique, just a generic sci-fi plot that tries at some points to be funny I guess, but never does. There’s no interesting characters, or really anything else substantial to itself then “here is a sci-fi story with laser guns shooting each other also clones.” Kind of boring.

5 :mediocre:s out 10. Middle.

The First Time Always Hurt3

Lol wtf is this poo poo? I don’t…. this isn’t a plot, there’s no character really, this feels like a last minute :toxx: entry. This wasn’t funny, or interesting, or anything. It’s nothing, the story. Incredible, really.

2 :quig:s out of 10. DM.


This is very human. I like that, although not much happens. The mom leaving for a while was weird, since it felt kind of surreal in that she kind of disappeared, but she just left for a while. This isn’t a substantial story, just a nice, well realized moment in somebody’s life that has some good weight to it. I don’t have much to say, since this is so simple. It’s good for what it is. Do note that I’m a big fan of this kind of stuff, and I thought it was believable so :shrug:

7.5 :ohdear:s out of 10. Possible HM.


Wow, you made making a contract to come back to life p. boring. So much dialogue and talking and bleh, I don’t give a poo poo. There’s some interesting stuff in here, but I don’t get a good feeling of this character. Why is it that he’s not doing everything right, and why does he get the Extension. All these proper nouns are weird and confusing and could’ve been explained better, or just been more clear up front like “you gonna die,” rather than having all this technical jargon. I wish I knew this character better, or maybe show him doing things with his new found life, or something rather than banal talking. Also, I have no idea why there is a scene break and then I have no clue what is happening in the second scene, though I think it’s a normal extension of the sound scene and you just made a mistake and slipped out of first person or called the lady a dude. Idk, that’s pretty confusing.

6 :choco:s out of 10.

The Magician’s Pupil

A magician coming in on a motorcycle is p. cool.

Idk, I enjoyed this, but something about it is odd. The prose is pretty weird, in that it is kind of confusing at points and I’m not 100% sure what is happening at certain moments. The magician just feels like a classic mysterious wizard type character, but he’s fun enough, and enough things happen that it’s cool. The resolution is a bit obvious, as well as the whole story, but obvious isn’t the worst thing in the world, just not going to get you any higher.

6.5 :shopkeeper:s out of 10. Middle.

Aug 8, 2013


The Salesman
Words: 1182

My daughter sprinted down the sidewalk, giggling madly. I chased after her, unable to keep myself from smiling along. As I ran to scoop her up, I couldn’t help but notice an overweight, well-dressed man standing at the neighbor’s doorstep.

He wore a dark blue business suit and thick rimmed glasses and had short, well combed black hair. His appearance looked so out of place that I stopped and stared at him for a moment. Something about him seemed off in a fundamental way; something about his posture. He held himself in a slumped, yet stiff, manner, almost like a robot. I think he caught me looking at him, because he looked over his shoulder with this bizarre expression that looked like a combination of shock and interest.

I strengthened my grip on my daughter. My pace quickened in spite of myself. I think I saw him leering at me over his shoulder as I made my way home. Once I stepped inside I still felt watched. I kept my daughter close for the remainder of the afternoon.

That evening I forgot about my encounter with the odd man. I suffer from chronic migraines, and I could feel one coming on around eight. Getting rest and fighting off those hell-headaches was more important than stressing about some weird salesman. When I crawled into bed, I swiftly drifted off into a dreamless sleep.

I woke up with a pounding head to my cellphone ringing. With a grunt I fumbled my hand over my dresser trying to find the damned thing. An unfamiliar phone number greeted me, and at four in the morning. Usually I don’t pick-up unknown numbers, but I wanted to give the jackass on the other end a good tongue lashing. To my disappointment, a robotic voice answered.

“Hello, Mr. Anderson. We’ve feel that you’re fit for our corporation and will be sending a representative to your residence right away.”

The call ended with that. I stared at the phone, head still pounding with an oncoming migraine. Although the call confused me, I couldn’t be assed to really care, so I laid back down.

“Daddy, there’s someone at the door!”

I dragged myself out of bed, the crushing pain of the migraine having mostly subsided. Someone pounded at the living room door.

“I’m coming!” I yelled as I made my way down stairs.

As I opened the door, I saw him: the overweight salesman. He smiled weakly. He didn’t speak, just looked at me with fishy eyes as he stood there.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

He shifted for a second before speaking in a hushed tone.

“I’ve recommended you to my supervisor. He agrees that you’re a better fit than the client I visited yesterday..”

“Better fit for what?”

The salesman just turned and left.

“Better fit for what?!” I yelled.

He ignored me as he hopped into a black Pontiac and sped away.

The entire afternoon I spent locked in the house. I half expected a squad of shady characters to come and drag me off to be turned into a robotic, glass-eyed salesman. I cradled my daughter and prayed that, whatever happened to me, she’d be alright. Why did they have to pick me, because I looked at the fucker funny?

Around five another migraine flared up. I held my head in my hands, too afraid to lie down. Shadows floated around the edges of my vision as the migraine worsened. The horrid pain crushed my skull while my body begged for rest. The idea of sleep, of letting my guard down, terrified me. I could almost see the salesman spying through the window, with his ‘supervisor’ lurking somewhere behind him.

All they needed was for me to sleep.

I retreated to my room. After locking the door behind me, I closed the blinds and sat in the darkness. The pain began to dull, albeit only slightly. I relaxed, then a few moments later I managed to lay down. Before I could drift into sleep, however, I sensed something in the darkness.

I opened my eyes to see a man looming over my bed. In the dark I could only make out his silhouette. He stood well over six feet tall, with a skinny profile. My migraine dulled at the sight of him. In fact, my entire body went numb.

He shifted over to the window and drew the curtains. Orange sunlight flooded the room. From the back I saw his tattered, dusty suit. His skin was translucent, displaying pulsing veins and twitching muscles underneath. He gazed out the window for a few moments before speaking in a whisper.

“Beautiful day, isn’t it Mr. Anderson?”

My body lay motionless. The man didn’t turn when he spoke again.

“Harold informed that you’re a prime candidate. Now, Harold is one of my best associates, so his recommendation holds quite a bit of weight.”

The creature seemed to glide over to me from the window. His transparent skin gave him a skeletal appearance, with bugged-out, glassed over eyes. If he had normal skin, he might’ve passed for a normal, bald old man. He grasped my left arm, feeling it up and down. His touch felt hot and slimey, as though he were covered in a thick mucus.

“Even with such a high recommendation, I’ll need to do an inspection.”

The creature produced a scalpel from his pocket. In one quick motion, he sliced down my forearm. Thick blood poured from the wound as a dulled pain resonated throughout my body. He prodded at my muscle tissue with both the scalpel and his fingers, sending stinging jolts up my spine.

“Promising, Mr. Anderson, promising.”

I tried to scream, to bellow for help. However, every sound I tried to make caught in my throat. The creature placed the scalpel back in his pocket, trading it out for a thick thread and needle.

“Let’s get you back together, Mr. Anderson.”

As he sewed my arm closed, I felt the numbing effect wear off. The pain shot through me like hot embers, scorching along my spinal column. Regardless, my body remained frozen in place, helplessly paralysed at the mercy of this ungodly thing.

Upon finishing his stitching, the creature leaned towards me and whispered right in my ear. His breath was steam against my ears, but his words chilled me.

“You’re hired.”

With that, I blacked out.

My phone rang at four in the morning. For a moment I just laid there, unable to do much of anything. I worked up the strength to grab it, all while an ache flowed through my left arm. The memory of the surgery gradually returned, and I hesitated to answer the phone. Looking at the number, I knew it was him.

Still, I needed to know. The robotic voice greeted me once again.

“Hello, Mr. Anderson. Congratulations on becoming part of the team!”

The call ended with that. I don’t know when or where he’ll reappear. Hell, I’m not exactly sure what he wants. All I know is that migraines are the last thing on my mind.

Jul 14, 2011

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


Posting ScreamingIdiot's entry on his behalf, because his forums probation won't expire before his work shift begins.

Nature's Blessing

Prompt: Daylight horror

Words: 1200

The sun's golden fingers caressed the forest like a loving mother, and trees and bushes drank in her warmth with gratitude. A strangled cry echoed, momentarily disturbing the forest's tranquility, but like all things, it was swallowed by the endless sea of green.

"You guys hear that?" David paused and looked about, then took a deep breath and set down his pack.

Jamie took a drink of water from her canteen and wiped sweat from her forehead. It was a cool, beautiful day, but the exertion was getting to them all. "Probably a bird."

"Awful loud for a bird," muttered Greg as he grunted under the weight of his baggage. Despite being the most out of shape of the group, he carried the most at his own behest -- he needed the exercise. "How long 'til we can set up camp? My dogs are barkin' something fierce."

"As soon as we find a good place." Jamie looked around and looked ahead and saw a clearing at the top of a hill not too far from their current position. "How 'bout up there?"

They trudged up the hill to the clearing, and Greg dropped his pack beside a rock and sat, reaching down to clutch his feet through his boots and grumbling. David and Jamie walked around the clearing, noting how barren the ground seemed.

"Looks like this place had a fire not too long ago," David said, digging his toe in the ground. "The soil looks healthy, but there's not much growth. What do you think? A few weeks, maybe?"

"Who cares?" Greg go to his feet and steadied himself on the boulder, stretching his aching legs. "Let's eat already, I feel wobbly."

As the sun went down they built a small fire in the barren, rocky center of the clearing, and cooked a small, unsatisfying meal. Greg grumbled and paced awkwardly about the clearing.

"Shoulda brought some fruit or something," Greg muttered. "And not that dried poo poo. Raspberries, maybe."

"Then pack some next time," Jamie said sharply, rolling out her sleeping bag. "You've done nothing but whine since we left yesterday morning. I don't even know why we brought you along."

"That's enough," David said, reclining against the rock Greg had been sitting on earlier. He fiddled with his phone and grunted. "And of course there's no service out here. Typical!"

"Oh, hey-hey!" Greg spied a glint that reflected the reddish light of the setting sun, and he slowly got to his knees before a clump of scrub brush. A tangle of blackened branches reached from the mass, and held within them was a cluster of large, juicy-looking berries. "Ask and ye shall receive!"

Greg plucked the berries and held them in his hat, and then he took them back to the others. "These look okay to you guys? I don't wanna eat anything that'll give me the shits."

"You packed a case and a half of toilet paper, you'll be fine," David said as he took a berry an examined it in the waning light. He squeezed it gently, and it oozed a thick, dark-red juice that smelled faintly salty. He tasted it, smacked his lips, and ate the berry and licked his fingers clean. "And so are these berries. Nice find! Jamie, come try some!"

Jamie got up from her sleeping bag and stepped over to her two cousins, watching with an arched brow as they gorged themselves on the berries. "What are they?"

"Hell if I know," David said. "But you know the saying, 'the nose knows,' and these smell and taste okay..."

"Better than okay," Greg said, mouth full. "I wanna save a couple to look up -- I wanna know where I can buy these. They'd make one helluva pie."

Jamie reached into the hat and took a berry. It was as large as a cherry tomato, with faint bumps and ridges. It was a dark red, oddly warm to the touch. She smelled it, popped it into her mouth, and bit down.

The taste was somehow familiar, and the berry's texture was almost meaty-

"Oh god," she said, spitting the chewed mess into her hand and holding back bile. "Jesus Christ, look! Look!"

There was a tooth in the remains of the berry, and a quick survey with her tongue revealed that hers were all present. The others looked up from the rapidly dwindling pile of berries at the mess in her hand.

"Looks like a seed," David grunted, going back to the berries.

"Have some more berries, you'll feel better," Greg said, his mouth full and dribbling. Blood-red juice dripped from the corner of his mouth, unheeded.

Jamie threw the mess aside and wiped her hands clean on her pants. Her mouth tingled where the juice had touched, and part of her wanted to try another berry, but she decided against it. Maybe it was just her imagination -- she was tired.

She found herself crawling into her sleeping bag and falling immediately to sleep, worries melting away in the wake of her exhaustion. But even as she gave in to sleep, she still heard chewing and grunting.


The harsh light of the dawn tore Jamie's eyes open, and she screamed at what she saw.

Their bags were torn apart and their contents scattered. Their clothes were gone, shredded to rags and used to beat out the remnants of the fire. Her sleeping bag had been torn open, and she lay on the barren ground. Nearby her cousins stood, staring gape-mouthed at the rising sun. When they spoke, it was with voices that were not their own.

"It rises, brother, it rises and it shines for us, for us," David said, his voice a low, slurring gurgle.

"She shines us and warms us," Greg said oddly, as though something was wriggling in his mouth. "We greet the day and drink the light, and spread the seed."

They turned to face Jamie and she screamed again as she saw their naked, bloated bodies covered with oozing sores. Something moved beneath their skin, wriggling like maggots, and she saw greenish tendrils peek through the rotting wounds. Greg's lower jaw was completely gone, replaced with dozens of the horrible tendrils, each bristling with more of those bloody berries. David's mouth leaked bile and pus and sap, mixing together into a noxious, syrupy mess that dribbled down his naked body in glistening rivulets. They stumbled toward her on awkward, bent legs, their pupils wide and lightless.

A thought struck Jamie: Fire. Yesterday David mentioned the clearing had burned, and now she knew why. She reached for the pile of torn fabric that had been Greg's pack and looked through the remaining pockets as the two plant-ridden things shambled toward her, and she let out a cry as she found the matches. She grabbed a nearby roll of toilet paper and set it aflame, then threw it.

They screamed as the fire touched them, and she threw more flaming rolls. But they leapt on top of her, holding tight as the flame consumed them.

Jamie's screams ceased. In time, her remains also bore fruit.

ghost crow
Jul 9, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo

925 words

Amelia was blinded by white. The motionless noon sun bore down into her like an angry watcher, reflecting off white dunes that stretched into the horizon. She winced and turned on the shades in her helmet as she climbed out of the shuttle.

She clicked on her comm device. “Alright I’ve landed.”

A burst of static and Tala’s voice was in her ear “Sweet okay. I’ve uploaded the coordinates to the artifact in your helmet. It shouldn’t be too far with the dragonfly.”

Amelia looked around. There was no plant or animal life as far as she could see, just the dazzlingly endless dunes and the oppressive eye of the sun above.

“Are you sure there’s anything here? Seems pretty barren to me.”

“This is definitely the place. Just as the broker described. Look babe you’re going to have to be quick. Who knows who else has been tipped off about this place? Just get to the artifact, collect what you can and get back to the shuttle as quickly as you can.”


“I’ll see you soon.” Another burst of static and Tala was gone.

Amelia unfurled the dragonfly from its case. The wings snapped open and thrummed with power. She climbed in and took off in the direction her navigational system pointed her too.


An hour later she saw her first glimpse of the obelisk.

At first it was just a black point on the horizon. As she got closer it resolved into an intimidating structure, its form vividly black against the white of the landscape. She guessed it was about two or three hours away by dragonfly, and it was massive.

“Tala how the hell are we supposed to get this thing onto the ship?”

“Don’t worry, we only need a sample from it. The buyer isn’t interested in the structure. How far are you?”

“About three hours I –“ Amelia thought she saw a dark form in her periphery. She looked to the left but saw only the white dunes passing by. There were no shadows.

“Amelia are you there?”

“Yeah sorry I just thought I saw something –“

She felt something press against her back and gasped. She veered the dragonfly up sharply in surprise. It whined with the effort and then fell silent altogether. The horizon tilted and she only had time to give one small shout of surprise before her back slammed into the sand.


Amelia didn’t know how long she was out for. She became aware of blinding light that resolved itself as the sun glaring down into her visor. She coughed and turned over. She could see the dragonfly in front of her half buried in the sand. It was broken.

“poo poo. poo poo.” She wheezed. Her helmet was undamaged but her mouth felt dry and parched. She struggled to her feet.

“Tala? Tala are you there?” She was met with static. Her comm was down. A quick check showed her nav system was gone as well.

The obelisk loomed in front of her, an ominous landmark. She thought she could hike to it. Tala would surely send the other shuttle to try and find her.

She got up, checking her rations. She took a sip of precious water and started trudging up a dune.

There was no wind or clouds. The sun was still, bearing down on her with an oppressive heat. The obelisk seemed to peer at her. She couldn’t tell if she was getting closer to it. There was no sound but Amelia thought she could hear a deep hum emanating from the ground. It seemed to seep into her bones. She caught herself humming along with it.

She didn’t know how long she walked when she finally realized she needed some rest. The harsh sunlight left no indication of time or place. Only the obelisk slowly growing larger gave her any idea that she was moving. She set up her tent and crawled inside and fell into fitful sleep.

Even with the tent she felt stripped and bared by the sun. It seemed to pierce her very being, entering every crevasse of her body. She dreamed she was bleached and small and white and swallowed by the landscape. She dreamed of an obelisk so dark it seemed to absorb all light that touched it. It seemed to bulge out in the middle, almost as if it was gestating. The bulge rippled and expanded until with a wet plop a dark fetal form was expelled from it.

The form got up and walked to her tent. It slipped inside and pressed itself against her. It sent a probing alien tongue into her ear, its fingers sinking into her skin.

Amelia jerked awake in a cold sweat. Her tongue felt swollen in her mouth. She felt like she had dry cotton stuffed in her mouth.


She walked until her feet cracked and bled inside her suit. She walked and could not stop walking. The hum had reached deep inside her body, propelling her forward, allowing no rest. She was almost crawling when she reached the obelisk.

It was so dark it seemed to absorb light inside of it. It rippled as if it was waiting. For her.

“I’m sorry Tala.” She croaked. She placed her hands against the warm stone and watched as they slowly sank inside.

When Tala touched down in the shuttle there were only the dunes and the sun and the obelisk in front of her. It bulged in the middle as if gestating.

Jun 9, 2014


Snow Blind
1,575 Words

I thought it would be fun to tell ghosts stories that night. Everyone was on edge after what happened to the cameraman. I thought some tall tales around the fire would help everyone relax. I have to admit, it wasn't very smart telling a story about "The Abominable Snowman." The Sherpa didn't think it was very entertaining.

My brother just looked at me and shook his head. God forbid I try to have some fun on this expedition. Climbing Everest was his dream. I wanted nothing to do with it. But how I could say no to him? We've been rock climbing partners since high school. But this was different. This wasn't the cliffs back home. This mountain is a deathtrap, I tried to tell him. He wouldn't listen. Mom encouraged him. Dad wasn't around to tell him how much of an idiot he was.

After my story was met with glares colder than the snow, I went into my tent. My own little walk of shame. I regretted leaving the fire, but I couldn't go back after that display. The Sherpa had looked at me like I sneezed in his food. He had muttered something under his breath, a prayer maybe? They are pretty superstitious.

Once changed into my nightclothes, I reached under my sleeping bag and felt around. My hand found icy steel. Nine millimeter. Small enough to sneak into camp under my jacket. I don't know why I brought it. It's the last thing you would need in a place like this. Unless you got stuck in a ravine somewhere and wanted the easy way out. Dad always said come prepared for anything.

The cameraman flashed into my head. His face when he felt his ankle snap in the wrong direction. The way his eyes darted around as he grasped at the ice, trying to find a grip. His scream as he fell off the edge. I hope it was instant. No one deserves to get trapped here. I shivered. It's just the cold. I tucked into my sleeping bag and forced my eyes shut. I never bothered to learn the poor bastard's name.


I woke up the next morning in a bad mood. I got dressed, shoved the gun into the folds of my jacket, and walked out into the morning sun. My still-crusty eyes were met by blinding light. The sun had just begun to peek over the mountain, turning the snow from mild blue to burning white. I shoved my sunglasses on and sighed. I knew that even squinting during the day without glasses would give me aches and pains for the rest of the trip. Just one more item on the list.

My brother emerged from his tent with a similar groggy gait. His glasses were already on. I couldn't tell if his eyes carried the determination he started with, or the same bitter unease that mine had.

"Still pretty cold, huh?" I said. No response. He didn't even look at me. He headed to the center of camp, barking orders at the crew. The early birds were packing up their tents. This is supposed to be our last day going up.

A crew member came over and handed me a cup of coffee. I thanked him by immediately taking a sip. Up here, the burn didn't even register. I just wanted warmth in my belly. As I took another sip, I saw the Sherpa catch my brother by the arm and shout at him. The wind was picking up and I couldn't hear the conversation through the layers of wool around my head.

"What's going on?" I asked the crewman.

"Sherpa wants us to wait another day," he replied.

"Another day? We're almost at the peak! Why wait now?" I couldn't believe it. The weather had been kind enough to get us up here ahead of schedule. I was not about to spend an unnecessary day on this mountain.

"Something's got him spooked. Evil spirits in the wind or something," the crewman said.

I just shook my head and started packing my stuff. We were going to hit that peak today, just to spite the Sherpa. And to get out of this cold.


We should've listened to the Sherpa. We barely made it a hundred feet up when the wind got violent. We had to set up a support line to climb the slope. Each member of the crew inched forward, single file, squeezing the rope between their tightly gloved hands. Oxygen was getting scarce. I focused on my breathing, keeping my eyes on the ground. The wind was buffeting us head on like a god's palm, forcing us back.

"Keep at it! Just a little more to the next plateau!" My brother hollered, forcing his feet through the snow. My legs felt a thousand pounds. I could barely breath.

The wind blasted to the side. Whiplash twisted my head like a cork. I swear I felt something crack. The wind was impossibly powerful, like it was trying to pick us all up and throw us down the mountain. A few crewmen screamed. My brother looked back at us, his form a bloated silhouette against the shining sun. I think he said "Hang on." I had to read his lips because I couldn't hear him over the sound of the line snapping.


I awoke on my back. The sky was still overcast but I could see the sun blazing behind the clouds. I sat up and noticed the wind had died down, but there wasn't a person in sight. I was in an empty field of snow, a valley with no visible edges. I tried to stand, but my right leg sent a furious pain through my body. It throbbed in time with my head. I checked my clothes and found no blood. The snow had cushioned the fall, but not enough to prevent the bone from breaking in multiple places.

The back of my head was an icebox. The world started to spin in blinding shades of white. The ground and sky mixed into a single color, an all-encompassing wall of nothingness. I waved my arms around, as though it would dispel the dizziness. I leaned on my bad leg by accident and twisted around as I fell to one knee. The twist sent an shot of pain up my spine, knocking the air out of me. As I sat leaned forward, breathing ragged breaths, I tried to regain focus. I had just enough self-awareness to realize my sunglasses were gone. I clenched my eyelids shut on reflex. My eyes burned behind their lids. I saw white where there should've been black. The damage had been done. It was still too cold.


I picked a direction and limped. Walking around blind was the worst idea I'd had yet, but I didn't have much of a choice. Part of me hoped I would find someone, anyone, out in the white. Another part hoped I would just limp my way off a cliff.

I eventually hit a wall. I opened my scarred eyes enough to see that I had hit an overhang. Shade. Mild blue I could look at. I sat down with my back to the void and took five.

The overhang was awfully large, almost cave-like. There were some gray "things" further down the wall, jutting out of the snow. My eyes were too sore to make out exactly what they were. The bones of some doomed climber perhaps. I let myself fall backwards and tried to sleep. It was silent except for the occasional crunch of snow, but my belly forced me to stay awake. It demanded sustenance. Not to mention that weird smell...

A puff of hot air hit my face. An exhale. It smelled like wet dog and raw meat swirled into one invading stench. Another puff. Then another. Despite the freezing temperature, I felt a bead of sweat form on my forehead. My strained heart quickened its beats. I opened one eye and saw an eye. A black, beady eye. A vertical pupil like a goat. Surrounded by thick, matted fur, the same color as the landscape. A flat, ape-like nose. Lips peeled back in aggression. A full set of teeth with canines the size of a finger. Stained red.

I jerked up against my body's objections. I threw myself against the wall and saw the creature's full shape. Eight feet tall. It roared at me. It lifted one massive arm, and with claws at the ready, it slashed at my face. I hit the ground again. The snow gave a nice cool sensation against my now burning cheek. Blood dripped from four clean gashes. Just barely missed my eye.

I shoved my arm into my coat and grabbed metal. I whipped out the nine millimeter and pumped the entire clip into the beast's torso. One round must have hit its heart. It fell to the ground, face down in a groaning heap, gushing crimson onto the snow.

I dropped the gun and held my bloody face in a daze. The slash had knocked my hood back, allowing the frosty air to nip at my ears. My hair stuck to my head, slick with sweat. The sun shone high above the clouds. It wasn't even high noon. The monster's body gave off an offensive odor and radiated heat. I crawled towards it with my eyes closed. At least now I'll be warm.

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006

Illegal Hen

Morning Bell fucked around with this message at 07:46 on Oct 20, 2015

Jul 2, 2007

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

Eyes on me
1274 words


“I'll catch you after work.”

Grant waved dismissively to Terry as the elevator doors closed, making his way down the hall and back into the cubicle farm. Right at the copy machine, take the second left, and then the third right back into his corporate prison cell. The pictures he had posted on the overhead shelves and the walls were background noise at this point, pieces of static interspersing the constant dull gray landscape. Not even the massive windows, looking out fourteen stories above the rest of downtown, helped make the place any less dismal.

He switched his monitor back on, put his fingers to the keys and finally noticed the unmarked white envelope someone had left there. Someone must have felt lazy designing the office party invites, he thought to himself as he pulled out a small piece of paper.

The first thing his eyes caught was a mess of lines and curves, intersecting and turning in on themselves in ways that made his head hurt. Past that was a poorly written note:

Welcome to the game!

“The hell is this?” Grant said, tossing it into the paper bin before logging back on to read over next month's reports. He made it halfway down the page before a scream pulled him back to reality.

He made his way towards the scream, others making it there before him. He heard someone puking. A woman cursed at her cellphone. He turned the corner and saw a group of co-workers standing outside one cubicle, faces pale, not looking up to acknowledge his existence as he moved closer.

David was just another person Grant had worked with, one of the many faces that shuffled in and out of this office from time to time. He never thought much of the guy, in all honesty.

Now, a heavy, rusted spike jutted out from David's chest. Blood had gushed upwards past the rounded tip, covered his chest and hands and lap. His tie was bound in a makeshift gag. His eyes were rolled up in his head.

Grant felt his mouth go dry. He'd never seen a dead body this close before. He couldn't breathe. How did this happen? He stumbled back against a cubicle wall, a co-worker's arm helping him stand. What was going on?

“Now that I have your attention, ladies and gentlemen,” A voice called out from every cubicle. “We can get this little game started!”

Grant held onto the top of the cubicle wall, catching his breath as the crowd began to mutter and look about. “Poor David Tenenbaum, am I right, guys and gals? He was just another contestant in today's game, but you just had to go and ignore my invitations. Had to get you all focused somehow.”

“The gently caress do you want from us?” One of them shouted. Grant thought it might be Mike from the voice, but he couldn't keep his vision straight.

“Ah, I suppose the rules weren't that clear,” The voice chuckled. “Well, all of you are now contestants in a fun, bloody little pastime of mine. You see, one of your co-workers, somewhere on this floor, is my accomplice. They are the ones who gave David his spiffy new look, and it's your job to find out who it is before he does the same to the rest of you.”

Phil, or at least he thought his name was Phil, turned and ran towards the fire escape. “Oh, I wouldn't try that!” The voice called out, stopping the portly man in his tracks. “I mean, who knows if I routed the power for the alarm to the door handle? Or maybe I just hooked up a car battery and set the switch to close once the door opens up? Well, you don't know, but that's sort of the point!”

“Now, you'd all best start looking! Who knows what sort of scheme my friend is planning!”

The voice cut out with a static pop, replaced by uncertain muttering. It was an elaborate prank of some kind. Some sort of deep-cover team building set up by management. Whatever they thought, it couldn't be real. It was why their cell phones wouldn't dial out, or why the office phones were all dead, or why the elevator call buttons wouldn't work.

Grant was with a group near the elevators, discovering the dead buttons when a short, sharp cry rang out from another cubicle. A woman this time, a knife stuck in her windpipe, face down on her keyboard as blood leaked from between the muscle and metal.

“Stick together!” A voice shouted from above the sobs. “They can't get us if we stick together. And someone's going to figure out something's wrong. We just have to wait it out.”

“But what happens if the killer gets out?”

“We'll let the police deal with them,” He said back. “And we can't help them if we're dead.”

Grant and a few other co-workers nodded and began to pair up. He found himself paired with the man who first had the idea, a shorter guy with a receding hairline. His handshake was firm, but his hands were soft.

“Frank,” he said curtly, looking around here and there. “Any luck with your cell phone?”

“Nope. A couple of people were thinking about making a big sign to put over the windows, though.”

“People won't see it past the mirror finish,” He said. “Well, as long as we keep calm and just wait, someone will be up the fire escape to disarm whatever this guy has going. Then the cops come in, do their thing, and they catch this rear end in a top hat.”

Grant looked over at the large windows and never felt quite so alone.

“Hey, I'm going to use the bathroom, alright?” Frank said, tapping him on the elbow before he started to walk, Grant following behind him. He was right about that, at least. He was honestly surprised it was taking as long as it was.

He finished washing his hands when the door to Frank's stall swung open with a heavy thud. “Frank?”

Frank lunged at him with the broken half of a pair of scissors, the blade digging into his shoulder. His arm went limp as he slumped against the wall, looking up at the small man towering over him.

“Well, that was fun! But your friend was right,” A strangely familiar voice spoke from Frank's mouth. “The cops will be here soon. And no one expects the wounded survivor.” Frank grinned, bringing the scissors up to his neck.

“What are...”

“Ah, ah. You remember my little invitation, right? That sigil I left for everyone in my welcome note? Good, good, now...”

Grant could see that strange, squiggling object on the paper. His eyes began to hurt, staring into Frank's crazed eyes as that blade slipped between the ribs.

“Just keep your eyes on me.”



Terry made his way up to the ambulance, looking inside to see his friend being tended to by one of the EMTs. “Dude, I heard about what happened. Are you going to be alright?”

Grant smiled and looked over at his friend. “I'll be right as rain, man. Just got to let this arm heal up over a few weeks.” He said, patting the arm for emphasis before the doors closed and they pulled out into traffic.

He couldn't imagine that this time would have gone so well. But here he was in a youthful body, slightly damaged, and with his own connections and friendships in case things went downhill.

And all before dinner. Yes, this time had gone quite well.

Feb 25, 2014


1104 words

You Didn’t Deserve All This Gray

flerp fucked around with this message at 17:12 on Oct 28, 2015

A Classy Ghost
Jul 21, 2003

this wine has a fantastic booquet

so a couple of months ago i failed week 160 because I decided not to post what I had written

this is what I wrote that I am now posting as the worst possible redemption for that week


The apocalypse had happened and now it was after that. Explodius kicked aside a piece of rusted metal and there was a mutant under it. Explodius used his salvaged pistol to shoot the mutant in its weak spot, its head. The mutant’s head exploded and it died in a very metal fashion. Explodius nodded and then went back to the nearby post-apocalyptic town. He was done with his job of hunting mutants in the wasteland, the land that was now wasted in this grim future. The town was in a bad state because the apocalypse had happened, it used to be nicer but you could barely tell now. Explodius walked into the main store and asked the clerk for cigaripods, they were a post-apocalyptic version of cigarettes; not as good, but people put up with them because there was nothing better. The clerk gave Explodius a box of cigaripods; it was a repurposed tea box because no factories made branded boxes here in the post-apocalyptic future, the future that exists after the apocalypse happened (the bad one). The clerk said it was five buttons. Buttons are the post-apocalyptic currency, highly sought after because people’s pants keep falling down. Explodius pointed his salvaged pistol at the clerk with one hand and held his pants up with the other. He was holding his pants up because he didn’t have any buttons; this is also the reason why he was holding up the clerk instead of purchasing the cigaripods. You might wonder why he was holding up the clerk and not paying, since he had a mutant hunting job and thus should have money. Unfortunately the mutant hunting job was just Explodius’ dream job and no one actually employed him to do it. The clerk was so scared that a lil bit of pee squirted out his penis. The clerk gave the cigaripods to Explodius and also all of his buttons. Explodius had to reach over to grab the buttons so his pants fell down. Explodius crab-walked out of the store with his pants around his ankles and his salvaged gun pointed at the clerk. Once outside Explodius quickly pulled his pants up and stuffed the buttons in one pocket. He did not have time to sew one on just yet. Because the buttons were all in one pocket his pants now sagged sideways and it looked weird. A kid in the street pointed at Explodius and said hey mister you look weird. Explodius almost shot the kid but then remember when he was a kid himself and thought better of it. The kid and Explodius exchanged a look and the kid understood the wisdom that Explodius wanted to share with him. The kid bowed and Explodius did not shoot him. Explodius considered the innocence of youth and decided he should be innocent too. Explodius walked back into the store and paid the clerk for the cigaripods. The clerk was so grateful he held Explodius’ pants up while Explodius sewed a button on. Then the clerk realized he had been fooled, Explodius had paid for the cigaripods with the same buttons he had stolen! The clerk wrestled the pistol out of Explodius’ hand and pointed it at him. Explodius felt bad and understood the clerk’s decision. The clerk had had a rough childhood and Explodius could tell because of his newfound connection with his inner child. Explodius just sat there while the clerk called the post-apocalyptic police because this was all still happening after the apocalypse in case you forgot, and then the post-apocalyptic police took him to jail. And so ends the ballad of Explodius Hitler, mutant hunter and last human survivor of the raid on Dirt Town that happened earlier than this story took place but not so early that it was before the apocalypse.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Thanks, Bro and Ock! Broock.

Jun 26, 2013



1596 words

They can’t be everywhere, I tell myself.

I look at my children sleeping. Emily has her arm around her little brother, gathering him in close. Jack’s head rises and falls in time with her breath. It’s been years since they’ve shown such simple affection for one another. Extremity will do that, I suppose.

It’s airless in this metal shed, and while I should be sleeping, getting rested for this evening, there is no chance of that. So I’ll write, instead. Tell the story of how my husband died.

It started with a strange rain. It was a lovely morning but purple-grey clouds blew over suddenly, in defiance of the forecast. I cursed, because the herds were all out in the far paddocks and my husband John was out tending them.

The rain lashed down in fat drops that shattered on the ground and left behind great streaky snail trails glistening on the mud and a faint metallic smell.

The children came out on the porch and stared at them. “Awesome,” said Jack.

“Don’t touch it,” I told him.

“It looks like chemicals,” said Emily, with all the wisdom of her thirteen years. “It might be dangerous.”

“Dad’s out there,” said Jack.

“He’ll be in the pickup,” I said. “He’ll be fine.”

John pulled up in the drive a few hours later. The storm was long gone but the air was still hot and damp.

He pushed in through the screen door and went to the sink, leant on the edge and filled himself a glass of water. His hair and shirt were covered with dried shiny runnels from the rain.

“Think it’s ok to drink the tap water?” I asked him.

“Course it is,” he said.

“Cows ok in that rain?”

“Why wouldn’t they be?” He raised a hand to his shirt and rubbed at the streaks. “Just brushes off, look. Goes straight to dust you can’t even see. It’ll all be gone tomorrow.”

As he swiped at it I smelled that metallic smell again. “But what is it? They haven’t said anything on the TV or radio.”

“Don’t know. Don’t care. It’s not a problem unless we hear that it is one. Going to go shower now and then sit for a while. By myself.”

“I’ll keep the kids busy, then,” I said. He grunted and left the room.

While I was making dinner that evening Jack went out to play with the dogs. I made him put on shoes and told him not to touch anything much that had the rain-shine still on it. He was only outside for a couple of minutes before he came back in, wide-eyed.

“Come look at this,” he said.

He led me out and pointed at the lawn. “What?” I asked him.

“Get closer,” he said. “They aren’t real big yet.”

“Well I’ll be,” I said. There were tiny bright mushrooms pushing their way up every few inches. I stood up and looked around the lawn. It was covered in them. The drive, too, in amongst the gravel.

“I think the stuff in the rain was mushroom seeds,” said Jack. “What d’you call them, spores, that’s it. They look like dust.”

“I think you’re right,” I said.

“Could they be poisonous?” he asked.

I pulled a handkerchief out of my pocket, bent down and carefully pulled up one of the mushrooms in it. “We’ll have a look on the internet,” I told him. “See if we can identify them. For tonight, bring the dogs inside, OK?”

The tiny mushroom had a long, slender stalk. It was striped pale grey and white in a way that looked almost like muscle fibre. The cap was broad and slightly concave, curled up at the edges. The top was glossy and silver, almost mirror-perfect. I could find nothing like it online. I poked it with the tip of a pencil to see how hard it was and I could almost have sworn that the stem twitched. I poked it again and there was no movement I could detect.

Emily looked up from her tablet. “Everyone else around here has them coming up, too,” she said. “There’s lots of photos on Facebook. Did you know that they reflect in the dark like cat eyes? How freaky.” She held up an image that showed a field of a million tiny points of light. If not for the tufty grass around them it could have been the night sky. “The internet’s really slow though. It just took, like, three minutes to load up this picture.”

I heard John curse and thump from the living room. “Goddamn TV’s all blotchy.”

“It’s digital corruption,” Emily said. “Something’s messing with the signal.” She looked at me significantly. “I bet I know what.”

“Well, it’s dinnertime now anyway,” I said. “Nothing much we can do about it this evening. I’m sure we’ll know more tomorrow.”

If we’d loaded into the car, right then, and just got gone… but who can say what would have happened. Might have been even worse.


I woke up just after dawn with Jack prodding my shoulder. John was long since gone.

“Phone’s out,” said Jack. “Internet too. TV isn’t working and the radio’s just getting mostly static.”

I yawned and tried to wrap my head around that for a moment. Jack wasn’t going to let me sit, though.

“You got to get up,” he said, and tugged at my arm. “Come on.”

Emily was sitting at the kitchen bench. She stared at me and Jack, her face drawn. “What..” I started to ask, but she simply jerked her head toward the door. I let Jack pull me to it.

It was bright out. Fiercely, blindingly bright. Much, much too bright for the time of day. I raised a hand to shield my eyes and peered out through the screen, and my gut lurched as I started to make sense of what I was seeing.

Past the edge of the porch, the world turned to mirrored glass. The ground was a sea of shimmering circles of varying size, all slightly cupped, all swaying very gently in the breeze. Trees and bushes stuck up here and there, and the family car stood out from among them in the drive, but most of my yard was hidden by silver.

A broken trail of mushrooms led away from the porch stairs over to the drive, and a wide swathe of clear ground marked the drive down to the gate. John must have kicked his way through and headed out to the paddocks.

“Dad went to check on the herds,” said Jack. “I asked him not to but he just ran out anyway.” I looked at him and shook my head, lost for words.

“They’re moving by themselves,” Emily said, her voice faint. My first reflex was to dismiss the thought as ridiculous, but then I looked back at the trees. There was no wind. I looked at the mushrooms. They swayed back and forth, just ever so slightly, in unison.

I stepped back from the screen door and shut the wooden door against the glare. I sat down at the table and pressed my hands together under my chin. I hadn’t really formulated a coherent thought yet.

Emily came over to me. She bent down and looked me in the eyes. “What will it be like out there,” she asked, “at midday, when the sun is all the way up?”

I looked at her. “Have you tried calling your father’s mobile?”

“There’s no reception.”

I closed my eyes. “Don’t go outside.”

It grew brighter outside. Jack came back at around 10 AM. I heard the pickup coming up the drive and the kids and I pressed ourselves against the kitchen window.

He was driving fast. He slammed on the brakes up near the house and the pickup skidded on fibrous, slippery mushroom pulp and turned sideways, fetching up against the corner of the house with a crunch. The red paint on the truck was blistered and peeling.

I heard John shout, something about “Cows… cooked!” He looked out of the cab and saw us at the window. “Get back!” he shouted. “Don’t come…”

He flared, then, as a wave of movement spread out through the mushrooms lining the yard. They flexed sinuously then snapped into position, perfectly angled to reflect the sunlight into one terrible concentrated point of heat and light. The pickup door glowed and John disappeared and the kids and I screamed and fell back from the window as the lacy kitchen curtain started to char.

We huddled in the living room, silent, until it was night. Then we collected a few things and loaded ourselves and the dogs into the family car. The mushrooms trembled a little as we passed between them but they weren’t coordinated in the dark.

We drove for most of the evening and the whole time, the hills to either side of the tarmac road were blazing with reflected moonlight. We saw headlights in the distance a couple of times but we never crossed paths with them and the radio stayed dead. When I thought dawn was about an hour off I pulled off the road into someone’s big storage shed and pulled the metal door securely closed behind us.

We’re going for the coast. These things can’t grow on water. Maybe we’ll find more people to be with, maybe we can find some kind of solution. There has to be some sort of fungicide that will take them down.

Until then, we’re trapped in the night. The day is dead.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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

Under a Thin Layer of Skin (780 words)

Della needed a cigarette, so when the tour guide stopped to point out some kind of songbird, she let herself slip behind.

She’d sat down and fished a fresh pack out of her jacket when the flower caught her eye. It was growing from a tree stump, sprouting right out of a crack in the middle like some postcard picture. But it was shedding light—the colors changed depending on how she looked at it. Each petal an oilslick rainbow.

Della reached out, felt a sting in her thumb, jammed her finger in her mouth. She hadn’t seen the thorns. She squeezed her fingertip and watched a bright drop of blood bead up. She snapped a quick picture of the flower. Maybe she’d come back out when it got dark, see if she could spot it from the trail, glowing in the brush. Her little secret.


There was a turkey sandwich in the mini-fridge, but Della wasn’t hungry. The cat was still yowling outside her window—a half-wild mouser that stalked around the campground, begging for scraps. Della tore off a corner of the sandwich and opened the window. The cat was sitting next to the fire pit. She could see the slats of its ribs. She tossed it a bit of turkey but the cat only hunkered down in the tall grass and wouldn’t come any closer.

“Fine then, you little bastard.”

The smell of honeysuckle drifted in through the window and something about the smell of it made Della feel homesick, misplaced. She drew the curtains and decided to take a bath.

For a long time she just floated there. Her arms and legs felt heavy. She was sweating, but it wasn’t just the water. There was a sort of heat under her skin, a venomous warmth that she could almost feel pumping through her veins, slowly, congealing like sap. It made her feel so happy that she could hardly stand it. She lay there grinning, looking up at ceiling tiles blurred through her tears. She let her face slip under the surface and held her breath for as long as she could. When she sat back up, she found herself bringing handfuls of water to her lips. She didn’t care that it was warm. She’d never been thirstier.


Della flung the curtains open again and stretched out catlike on the mattress. The feeling that had come over her in the tub—a rapturous, almost painful ecstasy—hadn’t left her. She rolled back and forth on the bed, listening to the sound of water sloshing in her belly, which only made her happier. So good and full. She lay in the sunlight, letting the heat purl off of her in waves, and closed her eyes.

It was only noon when she woke. Her hand was throbbing. She blinked until the room came back into focus. The wooden paneling and the amateurish forest mural on the opposite wall. She held up her hand, studied the splinter that poked out of her thumb. The skin around it had turned an ugly shade of purple.

Della held her hand over the sink. She worked at the splinter with tweezers, but it only seemed to keep coming, until there was nearly half a foot of it, pale and bloodless. She threw the tweezers and tugged at it with her free hand. Her thumb bulged. Another splinter pushed up under her cuticle, lifted the nail away. There was no pain.

Dim awareness of her phone on the nightstand. The need to call someone, a doctor, anyone. Della turned toward the bedroom and felt her foot pivot in place. It was a swollen mass now, a snarl of splinters that she had to drag behind her like a club.

She fell, started to crawl toward the bed, pulling herself forward with knotted arms. Toward the square of sunlight on the sheets. Every fearful thought fled her, becoming so remote in an instant that she could scarcely imagine any feeling but joy, to be so alive and so full of love.


Four knocks before the campground’s housekeeper opens the door, only a crack at first, and then wider, when he takes off his cap and stands at the threshold, trying to understand. The tree has grown there overnight. Pale, moon-white bark, with roots that snake across the carpet and climb the wood paneling. It has swallowed up the bed, punched through the mattress. Its boughs strain against the ceiling, lean toward the open window and the sunlight pouring through. No leaves at all. Only a flower, just the one, whose color seems to change each time he looks at it.

Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo

The Reddleman on the Barrow
Some number of words what I ain't done counted but are well under that there limit

There were so many places to lie amid the heath. Or so it seemed to Effie Clarendon, when her corset felt tight and her petticoat caught on the brambles. So many places beyond the rising barrows. So many places, just off the crazed and crumbling paths, where the gorse and heather grew high and dense, enough to hide from passersby. So many, many secluded spots to feel the spring sun on her skin, just barely warm, like fresh milk.

What ill fortune, then, to choose that coppice on that day, the day the reddleman came, the whole of his aspect ochre-stained. He forced his clydesdale and cart through the wiry shrubs and stopped afore her slumbering figure, her eyelids fluttering open from the heavy hoof-fall.

“‘Scuse me, m’lady, but you’re in my way” said the reddleman, seemingly unperturbed by Effie’s starkness. She woke fully, and looked up at him from the ground, her eyes wide.

She couldn’t speak. At first it was because of the shame, and then anger. How dare a wandering commoner such as he lay eyes on a lady like her? She resolved not to give him the satisfaction of seeing her blush or hide.

“How dare you gaze at me, peasant?” she said, spitting the words with haughty venom. He had the sun behind him, and between the glare and the ruddy pigment imbued into every crevice of his face she could not make out his features. Even his hair was the colour of old blood. He remained unmoved, chewing on a straw that hung rakishly from his lips.

“I ain’t gazing nowhere, m’lady,” he said, “just found myself lost in the brambles on the way to Puddleston. Hear there’s a flock or two there in need of marking.” He gestured to his cart, as if she were too ignorant to know of his trade.

She wasn’t sure if it was his impertinence that caused her ire, or his seeming lack of care for the sight of her exposed flesh. Regardless she decided then that this reddleman was not going to peddle his wares in Puddleston. Besides, there was something off about him, a kind of dreamy carelessness that sent a shiver down her naked spine. She pointed west, back where he’d come from.

“It’s that way. Now go.” She thought for a second. “If you tell anyone of this meeting my Father will ruin you.”

“If it’s all the same, I think I’ll be heading up the barrow. I can spare a little time to get a good look over the countryside,” he replied, peering over Effie’s head, his shadow pointing like the shadow from the sun-dial.

“You won’t find any shepherd’s up there” she protested, seeing that her ruse would be destroyed. But he dug his heels into the horse’s doughty flank, and off he set, barely faster than a walk, a lackadaisical earthen gnomon baking in the pale afternoon light.

The more she thought the more she knew she couldn’t let him reach the crest of the barrow, the druidic hillock that provided the perfect vantage down to the village. She didn’t think he’d say anything to the gentleman farmers who would purchase his dye, but there was a fresh batch of cider in the public house, and god knows what he could say after a few pints of the heady local brew.

She had no time to dress, so she clutched her garments to her front and hurried after him. He must have been able to hear her, yet he didn’t look back. How many times in his life had he the chance to study the smooth skin of a gentlelady such as herself? She picked up a pebble and threw it. It bounced off his cart with a loud rap. Still he didn’t move.

As the barrow rose she could feel the breeze raise goose-pimples on her skin - it was always unnaturally cold and windy up there. On the solstice the commoners raised pyres and danced furious dances. She watched them from the window of her bedroom, tiny silhouettes shifting and spiralling like will o’ the wisps. Then she’d dream she was there, drinking in the bacchanal, burning piles of thorny scrub, drinking dandelion wine and losing herself in the warmth of the flame. She slept well those nights, but today the barrow was uninviting, more barren and more unforgiving than even the lower heath.

Then she thought of what her father would say if he found out about her daytime lounging, and cried out in anger and terror. Just as they reached the top of the hill, where her top floor window came into view, Effie found the biggest rock she could lift and loften it through the air. It struck the reddleman, and his blood ran, thick and dirty with reddle, from the back of his head. As she leaped on him she wondered what she would think if she had been at her window, watching a pale naked woman on a man, red like the devil, stoving his head with a rock.

Apr 22, 2008

New Year, new thread!

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

Mar 21, 2013


Grimey Drawer


The wedding of Form and Void

I slammed on the brakes, and my Volvo skidded into the single car park that was miraculously still available. Within seconds I was out the car door and sprinting up the path that led to the Botanical Gardens, regretting my lateness and chronic inability to give up fags with every wheezy step .

Once within its faux-Roman walls, myriad paths went every which way, up hills and down dales. I stopped a moment and lit a cigarette, which usually gives me time to think, but now was only to readjust my nicotine levels in my favour. Consulting the map James had emailed me last night along with his begging request to be his last minute Best Man gave me some directional clues but none to help me figure out why I’d been asked at all. I hadn’t seen James in years, not since ‘Varsity, when he’d been a stand-offish, bookish, type who would occasionally rant about Crowley and Nietzsche after a glass and a half of cider at the Student Union. Apparently his first choice for BM duties had dropped out for vague reasons he didn’t wish to go into. I’d emailed him right back - “You had me at free booze and bridesmaids!” - two things he hadn’t actually mentioned, but hope sprang eternal.

I traced the quickest route to the hedge maze. “Who the hell gets married in a maze?” I asked nobody in particular, alternately puffing and map-reading like the world’s worst orienteer. “Is it a metaphor?”

Nobody answered me, which was fortunate, because there was no time to chat. I determined what I hoped would be the quickest route, stubbed out my fag and started running again. Past the kiddies playground with the wobbly ducks on giant springs, past the duck pond with the less wobbly, more actually swimmy ducks, and finally to the entrance of the maze itself - the crowning glory of the Gardens. The entrance was a single gate, carved lions and dragons twisting round each other in family-friendly licentiousness and surrounded by four-meter hedges.

There were signs of wedding activity around the entrance to the maze. A “Private Function” sign. A velvet rope like they have in front of sitcom nightclubs. A large man dressed like a butler waiting outside it. There was no queue; I could only assume that everyone else was shamefully on time and had already gone inside. I re-tucked in my dress shirt, slung my jacket jauntily over my shoulder to allow my pits to dry, and approached the man, who asked to see my invite. I flashed him my map printout which had a lovely, yet cheap-looking, version of a proper invitation at the bottom (font by Corsiva). He gave me a toothy grin, then indicated the way forward with a slight bow. I thanked him, and moved toward the maze. Chancing a backward glance, I caught the butler watching me, and I swear the man was licking his lips. Gods above, good help may be hard to find, but I’m sure a tongue like that could reach a few hard-to-get corners.

Once inside the maze, things took a bad turn. The map of the Gardens had kept the mystery of the Maze’s solution firmly out of its innards. I decided to keep my right hand lightly on the leafy branches of the maze wall, and trace my way around. Looking at the grass, muddy after last night’s rain, I decided a brisk walk was the optimum speed and began to walk, briskly.

The path curled and curled again, back and forth over itself. I followed leafy arches into leafy bowers, and marvelled at the occasional piece of statuary - lots of little red riding hoods and little boys blue, all alabaster in complexion, along with the occasional big bad wolf munching down heartily on a hock of ham. My choice must have been inspired because soon I rounded a particularly leafy corner and found the maze opening into its center - a small yet delightful meadow.

The scene itself was picture perfect, though a cursory scan detected a number of oddities. There were two blocks of chairs on either side of a long aisle. One of them, the bride’s side, was completely completely full of folks dressed in their best bib and tucker to judge by the alarming number of hats and bonnets. The other, where the Groom’s family and friends would ostensibly reside, had nary a bum on a seat. In front there was a daisy strewn, gazebo-y contraption, where James stood, alongside a man in a dress whom I assumed was the chaplain because surely James would have let me know if it was that kind of wedding. Thankfully, there was no sign of the bride yet. Tradition was still good for something, apparently.

I made to hurry down the aisle, but as soon as I took a step along it every single head on the Bride’s side turned to look at me. I have never seen a less enthused bunch of faces, silently judging me like I just made a mess on the carpet. I smiled, waved, and shuffled along an empty row on the Groom’s side, then made my way along the maze’s inner wall round towards the gazebo and James.

“‘Lo, James,” I said, casual as anything. He looked the same as ever, only his ratty beard had filled out a little, and his eyes had sunken an inch or so into his skull.

“Frank! You made it,” said James, a look of profound relief on his face. I guessed that here was a man for whom his wedding day had not so far gone swimmingly. He introduced me to the Chaplain, who nodded at me without words.

“Bit of a shocking turnout, mate.” I gestured at the empty pews behind me on the Groom’s side.

James waved the matter aside. “They don’t understand. But I knew you would. You of all people, Frank, you’d understand. Marriage is unknown alchemy!”

“Amen and right you are, J,” I agreed. Then, after a moment of thought, “Uh - understand what, precisely?”

“That sometimes you have to look into the Abyss, Frank! But there’s no time to explain. Here.” He handed me two jewellery boxes. “The rings.”

“Ah - yes,” I said. “Very important things for a Best Man, them.” I opened one. Inside was a rusted piece of barbed wire, twisted into a loop. The second was exactly the same. “Oh. Er. Lovely.”

James ignored me. Somewhere, music had started up, if you could call it music. I looked around for musicians, or a boombox, but the tuneless caterwauling came from nowhere visible. James was lost in wonder at the vision at far end of the aisle.

I followed his gaze. Through the entrance to the maze came a veiled figure, dressed in white. White what, however, was not a question I could answer. At first I thought it was bandages, dangling from her randomly, then, perhaps some sort of shroud, torn in various places. The bride carried a bouquet of flowers, but even from this distance I could tell that particular arrangement had seen better days.

“Jeez, mate,” I stage whispered, “Last chance for freedom. Wouldn’t be a proper best man if I didn’t have a motor to hand for a quick getaway. Just say the word and its beersies down at the Claridge. First round’s on me.” Again, James ignored me.

All the bride’s family swivelled around in their seats as she came down the aisle. Now that I really looked, I could see that many of their outfits were similarly tattered in appearance. I watched their faces come into view as they turned toward me. Impassive as stone, every single one of them. Not single smile or teary eye in the place. One great aunt was drooling.

Now the bride was almost upon us. Her shroud-dress, wreathed in a tangle of shadows despite the noon-day sun, covered her feet, and made it look like she floated up the steps of the stage. Her veil was a thick lace, or something very much like it. It glistened like a spider web coated in morning dew. I suddenly became very sure I didn’t want to see what was underneath.

I backed away, only to find the chaplain was there, blocking my path, grabbing my arm. “Now let us sing,” he said, leaning in towards me, and he began screaming at the top of his lungs, right in my face with breath like day-old spew. The assembled guests joined in - a deafening, ear-piercing shrieking from all sides. Every single man-jack of them. I was stunned into submission, my feet locked to the floor.

The chaplain released me. “Let us begin,” he said.

The entire meadow fell deathly quiet.

The bride lifted her veil.

I remembered James, at varsity, struggling to grow a beard, standing atop the balcony of the Union gesticulating and quoting someone or other at the top of his lungs. I even remembered the words. “And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” Seemed like so much undergrad toss at the time.

But here, beneath the veil of the bride was just such an abyss. Formless and void. Empty and yearning. I stared into it, and I could feel it staring into me, feel it longing, grasping, and pulling. I gazed into the abyss and our eyes met.

Bridesmaids be damned, I wanted to kiss the bride.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

(900 words)

Shade from leaves flickered through Peter's windshield, spattering his hand that steered the wheel; the other held coffee that had grown lukewarm. He tilted the dregs onto his tongue and savored them. His drive to nothing and away from everything had taken him to the suburbs, and he'd made enough turns to be delightfully ignorant of his location. It hardly mattered. The trees did, red and gold and splendid under light that came from a source other than fluorescent tubes.

Peter swung his car onto the next street he met. Autumnhold St., said the blue-and-white sign, and that struck his fancy so well that he parked on the roadside just past the turn and got out to walk.

His boots shattered drifts of dried, curling oak leaves. The yards to either side of him were seas of dead foliage. Up the road, a slim figure--a girl?--whirled around and around with her arms outstretched, kicking up cascades of yellow and brown. Peter tried the maneuver on a pile to his right. A smell rose, the musk of the woods, and he remembered how to grin as he breathed it in deep. "Hello!" he called to the stranger.

She spun out of sight without answering, leaving him alone with fall.

How quiet it was: the breeze rattled the boughs and sent loose leaves racing toward him, but that was all the sound. The children that belonged to the big houses must have been at school, although--Peter checked his watch--three-thirty seemed late. No dogs. No birds. Peter slowed his amble and listened hard. The wind kicked up, and leaves chattered on the asphalt.

Now that he'd noticed the silence, he noticed the stillness, too, because he'd passed a dozen yards and all had been empty. He stopped by a truck that had its own dead mantle. The other cars he could see were the same, now that he looked, shrouded in brown with a few splashes of maple red. A leaf tapped him on the head and caught in his hair; a second struck his hand as he brushed the first away; a car could be covered fast in such a shower, he supposed.

Yet the glow of the sun through the boughs cheered him less than it had. Peter considered the driveway he stood beside, or the patches of it that were visible. He crunched toward its house.


Peter turned in the direction of the voice and the woman who owned it: woman she was, not girl, ankle-deep in leaves and smiling. Her hair, her eyes, and her skin were like them in color, rich shades of tan. "I did hear you before," she said. "Can I walk with you?"

He'd forgotten again how to grin, but he managed a smile. "Please."

She reached and took his hand, and he let her, because her living presence made him feel like a fool and relieved to be so. She said, "I love to be out in the breeze myself. I have to dance when it gets going. Do you dance--?"

"Peter," he supplied. "Not in years and years. You live somewhere around here?"

"Yes, of course. It's my neighborhood." Her mouth was warmly red, but her fingers were chilled. Peter wrapped them in his as best he could. "It's never more beautiful than this, and if you tell me anywhere is, I'll know you lie."

"It's... peaceful."

Her lips curved more. She smelled as sweet and as musky as the leaves--he wanted to lean closer to her; he wanted to pull away.

The breeze came, whipping her hair around her face, and she grabbed his other hand. She started to spin, and he spun too, in wide circles that churned the trees' litter and left him dizzy and laughing without knowing why. Then his arm was around the waist of the woman, his hand was on her shoulder, and they kept going around and around while she dug her cold fingers into his arms and pressed cold kisses to his jaw. Her eyes were mottled with flecks like mold.

When she pushed him, Peter was too unsteady to stop from falling back onto a leaf pile.

When he sank into the debris, when more tore free of the branches above and blotted out the sun, he thought for a moment that gravity was to blame.

He'd been holding a woman, but now he held decay and death, and it pressed against him: grey crust salted his mouth with rot. Cicada cases wriggled on his face, empty legs breaking in his eyelashes. Fuzzy galls pushed into his cheeks and ears until they burst and the insects scuttled free; his hands clutched at dried tags of fur and skin; the rattle of the leaves mocked him as they smothered him in musk. Peter screamed, and they filled his mouth. He fought a weight already almost too great. He rolled, thrashed, shoved, kicked--

Saw light--

He lunged for it and broke out. He staggered, then ran for his car against the wind. Leaves swirled around Peter one last time as he tore rubber from the tires getting off that road. Their chattering would not leave him.

On the highway south two weeks later with all he owned in a U-Haul, headed for a city where the trees were never supposed to change, Peter heard it still: autumn's laughter.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Deadline has passed, 13/16, not too shabby

Aug 8, 2013


To my dear friends the Judges.

Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo


Christmas Invasion story. 250 words. I will give all entrants crits by close of submissions for the upcoming TD week.

We'll submit them here:

props to ravenkult for pointing me at that competition.

Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo

God Bless Us, Every One!
250 words

A pudgy ghost hand tugged at Scrooge’s sleeve.

“You’re not done yet. I’m the ghost of Christmas pudding. Boo.”

The corpulent apparition took him to a kitchen of brushed aluminium and linoleum. Tiny Tim slumped over the dining table, his face smeared with cranberry sauce, lashings of custard congealing on his reindeer-patterned cardigan.

“Not so tiny, is he?”

Indeed, the child, once skinny, had become corpulent, swollen from a preponderance of mince pies and brandy butter. He seemed to levitate like a blimp, folds of fat hung over the arms and back of the chair, obscuring it from view. Suddenly he clutched at his chest and convulsed violently.

“That’s not ideal,” said Scrooge, turning to the ghost. “Wait, who are you?”

“The ghost of boxing day sales.”

This phantom was dressed in torn trackpants and a bum-bag. Scrooge found himself in a mall, cornered against a roller shutter that bulged inwards from the force of a frothing press of shoppers. Flecks of warm spittle caught in his beard, and brandished credit cards pressed against his skin like knives. The shutter gave out, and just before he was trampled he found himself back home. The room was filled with ghosts, overlapping and coalescing into a milky fog. They spoke together, clamoring to be heard over the rest.

“I’m the ghost of drunk angry uncles.”

“...the ghost of factory farmed turkey.”

“...of scented candles.”

“...abandoned kittens”

“ sprouts.”


“BAH HUMBUG,” shouted Scrooge. He kicked the Christmas tree, and went to bed.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

newtestleper posted:


Christmas Invasion story. 250 words. I will give all entrants crits by close of submissions for the upcoming TD week.

We'll submit them here:

props to ravenkult for pointing me at that competition.

So given that the winner of the competition gets published by Apex at a rate usually reserved for first-rights publications, and given, should we put our entries in here or not?

Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo

Pham Nuwen posted:

should we put our entries in here or not?

Yes you should, and then edit them out when you submit.

Jan 6, 2015

Hey I want to be *in* for this interprompt, can I join?


Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo

teleolurian posted:

Hey I want to be *in* for this interprompt, can I join?

I will give your interprompt an in-depth crit if you toxx to enter and submit for the 'dome proper next prompt.

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