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StealthArcher
Jan 10, 2010

This post is a problem I can't live with. And I'm fucking dead.
- Norman "Sweetheart" Rockwel


Nap Ghost

Broenheim posted:

moon man, prompt us alrdy im dying over here

Gonna start pushing the vocal crits back the more you whine

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a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


Prompt will come when I get off school/think of one.

Edit: 4PM

a new study bible! fucked around with this message at Nov 10, 2015 around 17:30

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


StealthArcher posted:

Gonna start pushing the vocal crits back the more you whine
I wasn't in last week so imma whine on their behalf


there's something we want, we want uh the ...



you know the ...



Yes! the





















StealthArcher
Jan 10, 2010

This post is a problem I can't live with. And I'm fucking dead.
- Norman "Sweetheart" Rockwel


Nap Ghost

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I wasn't in last week so imma whine on their behalf


Saturday

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


lol where is the prompt

StealthArcher
Jan 10, 2010

This post is a problem I can't live with. And I'm fucking dead.
- Norman "Sweetheart" Rockwel


Nap Ghost

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

lol where is the prompt

Sunday

POOL IS CLOSED
Jul 14, 2011

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


Pillbug


Post the crits, grimey drawer

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


the moral of the story is that, given the tiniest amount of power possible, StealthArcher finds a way to abuse it and be a prick

where is the prompt?


brawl me you hack

StealthArcher
Jan 10, 2010

This post is a problem I can't live with. And I'm fucking dead.
- Norman "Sweetheart" Rockwel


Nap Ghost

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

the moral of the story is that, given the tiniest amount of power possible, StealthArcher finds a way to abuse it and be a prick

where is the prompt?


brawl me you hack

Limerick Brawl Accepted

Because Writing is Writing
This much remains true
My name is StealthArcher
and I loving hate you

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010



SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

the moral of the story is that, given the tiniest amount of power possible, StealthArcher finds a way to abuse it and be a prick

where is the prompt?


brawl me you hack



this is gonna require StealthArcher to actually write a story. He did that, once.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

StealthArcher posted:

Limerick Brawl Accepted

Because Writing is Writing
This much remains true
My name is StealthArcher
and I loving hate you


Punch fight

1k words, must contain two limericks, and feature a man from Nantucket, 17 Nov 2359 kiwi time

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.




quote:

Be/cause/ Wri/ting/ is/ Writ/ing this is okay, but watch where the stresses fall
This much remains true you need another 7 beat line before you transition to 5s
My name is StealthArcher 6? what the gently caress is even going on here?
and I loving hate you

This is not a limerick. It is not even close to being acceptable limerick form. There's no rhymes to speak of, and scansion is a total mess. C- see me after class.

a dick called Stealtharcher was
judge for a week. The prompt came
no faster! His flow --
pissweak. Where's the prompt?

StealthArcher
Jan 10, 2010

This post is a problem I can't live with. And I'm fucking dead.
- Norman "Sweetheart" Rockwel


Nap Ghost

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:




a dick called Stealtharcher was
judge for a week. The prompt came
no faster! His flow, man --
pissweak. Where's the prompt?

lol

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


moon man plz save us w/ the prompt

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly





The Honorable THUNDERDOME CLXXI

Okay Thunderdome, so I’ve been struggling over this prompt for the entire day. I’m really busy at work, and I spent all of last weekend sick, and my wife has a birthday on Friday. Life is stressful. I had an idea for a prompt this week, but it was overly complicated and stupid, much like my worst stories, so I am throwing it away and we are going to watch some daytime TV instead.

This prompt is simple. When you sign up, I am going to give you the synopsis of a single episode of Judge Judy. This is now the synopsis for your story. These synopses are fairly focused, although you are certainly welcome to take some liberties for the sake of storytelling. However, if you stray too far, you will be held in contempt of Thunderdome, and dealt with accordingly when judgment comes.

Now, if you watch a lot of Judge Judy, as I do, then you know that each episode contains two segments, each with a different participant and conflict. This means that while the synopses are focused, you do get a choice from a selection of two.

If you are feeling daring, and you want to attempt a courtroom gambit, you will be rewarded with an additional 150 words in your story. Playing a courtroom gambit means that you are forgoing your choice of synopsis, and that you will write about a single segment, as assigned by a judge.

Standard TD rules apply.Lastly, please don't try to write a courtroom drama here; I want the story of what happened outside of the courtroom.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

Attention potential litigants

I shouldn't have to say this, but I will; I do not want to see any courtroom scenes in your stories this week. This should not be Judge Judy fanfic, okay? Use the synopsis as the central plot of the story but add to it and modify the details as needed. Tell me a story about what happened to your characters before the courtroom and modify as needed to craft the best story with your central premise.

DO NOT WRITE A FUCKTON ABOUT LAWYERING UP!!!!!!!





Word Count: 1200 (1350 with a courtroom gambit)
Signups Close: Friday- 11:59 PM PST
Submissions Due: Sunday- 11:59 PM PST

Judies
WLOTM
Obliterati
Entenzahn

Defendants
1) Grizzled Patriarch
2) Broenheim
3) Lazy Beggar
4) Sitting Here
5) Thranguy
6) BoldFrankensteinMir
7) Killer-of-Lawyers
8) brotherly
9) Claven666
10) God Over Djinn
11) IcebergUniversity
12) Propaganda Machine
13) docbeard
14) C7ty1
15) crabrock
16) jon joe

a new study bible! fucked around with this message at Nov 14, 2015 around 00:14

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




In.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


hey moony, my thanks for you putting the prompt up is that you get to read one of my stories.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In with a gambit.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Toxx up, kids.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

ALRIGHT YOU WITLESS GORMLESS MOTHERFUCKS

I may have been dethroned, but that's only so I can rise again and reign in perpetuity. Join me, brave losertars, and let us make our bloody mark on the history of this dome with weapons forged in the fires of our shame. Let us drown the meek and unscarred in the seething ocean of our own spilled blood.

in. and i'll take your goddamned gambit.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



S17E9
"A man says his ex-lover vandalized his car and lied about the paternity of her child; a former friend sues for damages resulting from the online sale of a fake designer watch."

Broenheim posted:

hey moony, my thanks for you putting the prompt up is that you get to read one of my stories.

S16E260
"Gospel singers argue over clothing and payment for services; a tenant denies growing marijuana in the backyard and says his landlady locked him out illegally."

Lazy Beggar posted:

In with a gambit.

S18E217
"A clubbing incident leads to an ambush and the vandalism of a car."


Sitting Here posted:

ALRIGHT YOU WITLESS GORMLESS MOTHERFUCKS

I may have been dethroned, but that's only so I can rise again and reign in perpetuity. Join me, brave losertars, and let us make our bloody mark on the history of this dome with weapons forged in the fires of our shame. Let us drown the meek and unscarred in the seething ocean of our own spilled blood.

in. and i'll take your goddamned gambit.

S18E196
"A woman sues her son for living expenses after he undergoes a kidney transplant"

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


Attention potential litigants

I shouldn't have to say this, but I will; I do not want to see any courtroom scenes in your stories this week. This should not be Judge Judy fanfic, okay? Use the synopsis as the central plot of the story but add to it and modify the details as needed. Tell me a story about what happened to your characters before the courtroom and modify as needed to craft the best story with your central premise.

DO NOT WRITE A FUCKTON ABOUT LAWYERING UP!!!!!!!

a new study bible! fucked around with this message at Nov 10, 2015 around 22:15

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

In. Gambit; choices are overrated.

BoldFrankensteinMir
Jul 28, 2006

Darn! Darn! Darn!


In, please.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In.

brotherly
Aug 20, 2014

directed by the aol-seeing eye


In

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


Thranguy posted:

In. Gambit; choices are overrated.

S18E248
"A miscarriage days before a wedding leads to a dispute between the grieving newlyweds and a disgruntled DJ"


S18E222
"A woman says a young man tried to pawn off a phony smog certificate when she purchased a car from him; a party-bus driver ejects a young girl after an altercation, saying she damaged the bus; ex-friends feud over a video-game console."


S19E6
"Video evidence shows an angry man kicking his neighbor's vegetables and memorial to a cat; a young man denies owing his two mothers for a loan, rent and property damage."

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



S19E129
Parking lot frustration results in assault and a dental bill. A man sues his ex for false arrest, stealing and damaging his property.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Dear Honorable Judge Presiding:

In. My client would also like to share some equities with you in the form of a courtroom gambit.

I thank you for your courtesy and for this assignment.

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


Claven666 posted:

Dear Honorable Judge Presiding:

In. My client would also like to share some equities with you in the form of a courtroom gambit.

I thank you for your courtesy and for this assignment.

S19E187
"a man tries to explain why he sold a boat to a woman when the title wasn't in his name."

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


in

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Ironic Twist posted:

OBLITERATI-BROENHEIM MEME BRAWL

Prompt: Make a story out of this:



...and a meme of your choice.

Word limit: 2000
Deadline: 2359 EST Tuesday, Nov. 10
No: Fanfic, nonfic, erotica

Ironic Twist posted:

God-Over-Here Brawl

Your main character must find something, and then lose it again. Your main character must also dance at some point in the story.

Max 2000 words. Deadline: Tuesday, Nov 10th, 2359 PST

Due in 5ish and 8ish hours, respectively.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



S20E36
"A young boy unintentionally runs into a pizza delivery driver's car while he is running around in the street playing; a man says he asked his new girlfriend for money to enroll in truck-driving school and for living expenses after he lost at a casino."

IcebergUniversity
Jun 23, 2015

by zen death robot


In with a

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



S20E48
"While her sister claims that she broke in and stole her possessions, a woman maintains that her nephew shot her in the head with a BB gun; a man says that he wanted to help his ex by purchasing him a computer, which his ex maintains was a gift."

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


GOD loving DAMNIT GOD gently caress MEMES JESUS CHRIST brawl

701 words

Hey Refs, You’d Forget Your Glasses?

flerp fucked around with this message at Dec 29, 2015 around 03:48

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


god over djinn vs sitting here thunderbrawl where we write stories with words in 'em

In defense of the wandering dead (2500 words)

The body of Guillermo de Luca washed up on shore, still hot with the dregs of a terrible fever. The shades of old women huddled around it. The hems of their dressing gowns brushed its skin. They laughed amongst themselves. Jumped off the boat before it got here, eh? I reckon him a restless soul for sure.

Guillermo tested each limb, dragged himself painfully to his feet, and began to walk. Where d'ye suppose you're headed then, young man? someone called after him, but Guillermo did not turn. They didn't follow. They were only wights, and they vanished with the next strong wind.

A milky sun floated just above the horizon, and a nameless restlessness drove Guillermo towards it. He walked through brush, then pebbles, then sand. If he had thought to inventory his memories, he would have found them stripped bare, his mind hollowed out as if by fire. The landscape grew flatter and paler as he walked.

He looked up, and a woman with goat's eyes was standing before him.

You may not wander here, she said, and he felt her voice inside his tired bones.

"What will I find if I do?" he said.

What do you think you'll find? the psychopomp asked.

"Only death," he said, and he suddenly knew himself for a man who did not fear death. He smiled at the thought. The psychopomp, obeying some indiscernible cue, bowed her head and stepped aside.

Guillermo walked, and he came to a place that he had seen at the end of his life. He was standing in a sun-cracked market square. Across from him, dark-skinned people in sarongs huddled around a dead or dying man. Their bare footprints passed in and out of the pool of blood. Guillermo wondered whether he had been shot, until he felt the weight of the gun in his hand. He had shot another man, then. The locals looked at Guillermo with horror, but made no move to detain him. They were too afraid. They were afraid of the disease he had brought from the jungle, he realized. It was killing him even then. He had lacked the strength to brush the flies from his skin.

He remembered the name of the man he had shot: Orion. With Orion dead at last, he had nothing more to fear, whether in this life or at the end of it. He smiled again, feeling a terrible relief.

Before he could die a second time, he walked on.

Guillermo came to the edge of a marsh. Bloated, half-sunken trees bobbed around him like the bodies of drowned men. He had seen a body once, after drowning, though he could not remember where or who. The skin had been mottled white and purple, and when the body had been moved it had split and sloughed off in sheets. For years thereafter he had suffered dreams where his body swelled or shriveled or burst. The marsh pulsed with things against which human skin was no armor. Yet now, he did not feel afraid.

Guillermo had followed the man Orion there, not so long ago. He had spent three days encamped on the outskirts, wishing that he would wake up and his map would no longer show a route through the marsh. On the fourth day, he threw away his fear and gave chase. He left the marsh with both less and more than he entered with: he had caught the fever that would turn his skin yellow, parch his lips, shrivel his limbs, and kill him. He had shed the terror of deformity that had dogged him. And his hands had nearly closed around Orion's throat.

Guillermo walked easily into the marsh. He needed no map, this second time through.

He walked until his feet should have bled and his throat should have burned. He saw the shades of a few true friends he'd met on the road. He never saw the shadow of Orion, but he walked through the scenes of a dozen near-misses - pubs the hunted man had left an hour before Guillermo had arrived; hotel rooms he'd checked out of a moment too early. Guillermo's heart thrilled with the memory of the chase. He came to the ocean that he had once crossed by boat, when Orion had fled the continent. Guillermo remembered crossing the gangplank to his boat, trembling. Now, in death, he leapt fearless from the rocky bank and swam. He walked through the trainyards and factories where his arms had grown hard as steel and his pockets had filled with the coin that he spent on his travels. Now he smiled as he walked, and he whistled a half-remembered song, and the milky never-setting sun seemed almost warm.

He could just make out a town in the far distance. He stopped whistling while he squinted at it, trying to place it in his memories, and when he continued he found that he didn't care to take up the tune again. Even at this distance, the town seemed the most cheerless place he'd ever seen. A little canal ran through a copse of moldering clay-brick buildings, each leaning on its neighbor like an old woman on her cane. The place seemed somehow deformed, and as he came closer, he saw that what ran in the canal was not water, but something tarry and black. Empty boats sat in it like beetles stuck in glue.

He walked slowly onwards, suddenly conscious of the breath that no longer filled his lungs. The little town almost seemed to reach out to him, and as its arms started to embrace him, he finally placed it. This was the town he'd spent his first twenty-three years in, before he began his hunt for Orion. He had never once come back.

Clay-brick buildings shifted in the sand. Guillermo could not tell if he was traveling forward into the town, or if it was sweeping closed around him. Some alleys opened before him, and others slid shut, and he was swept along. Old men and older women watched him silently from rocking-chairs on their porches.

He looked up, and suddenly knew where his journey ended. He fell to his knees in the street, unable to carry on. The building that loomed before him was not the little house he'd shared with his mother. It was the building where he and his wife had rented their first and only home, and he knew what he might find inside, and though Guillermo had already died once, at that moment he felt as if he might again.

Orion had been a thief. He was among that rare breed of men who are brutes but not fools. He had piercing blue eyes, set into a face like a broken boulder. They never knew what had brought him down on their village, but he had taken up residence there in the summer of Guillermo's twenty-third year. With his modest habits and his careful selection of marks, he lived comfortably wherever he cared to.

Guillermo barely noticed the man. He had just married, and Roxanna was the only thing he had ever wanted in life. He was blind to all else. Guillermo was a pale, flabby young man who worked in a bakery, poorly. And unless Roxanna was mad, or foolish, or playing a prank, Guillermo was the luckiest man on earth: she was lighthearted where he was serious; she was open where he mistrusted everyone he met. Guillermo was petrified of dancing, but he sometimes would, for her. She was a wonderful dancer.

Orion was a wonderful dancer, too.

Roxanna let him take her to a dance while Guillermo worked overnight. The idea of protesting this didn't cross Guillermo's mind until much later: he had fallen in something even more than love. Something that Roxanna said to Orion, that night, must have shown her as an easy mark. He must have figured that he could make off with both her body and her family heirlooms. Like the fool she sometimes was, she must have fought him.

Guillermo saw her body in the morning, swollen like a bruise, floating in a foot of tepid water in their claw-footed bathtub. He grabbed at her, tried to pull her out, and felt her skin slipping from the dead flesh under his fingers. It sloughed off her body in sheets. Guillermo had never returned to the flat after that, and he never looked at a lake or a river or a bathtub again without flinching, not for many years. He spent that night at his mother's house, not sleeping, but gently nursing a small and restless flame that was growing inside of him. It wasn't quite a different man who left the next week to chase down Orion, but it was a man who didn't care to stay the same.

He opened the door with a trembling hand and stepped inside. A heavy candlestick lay on the carpet in the entryway, and he remembered the feel of it in his hand. He had picked it up and stumbled down the stairs, wailing, as though he might be able to catch Orion leaving. He picked it up again. Its weight was a small comfort, and he imagined himself clubbing Orion with it, sending him off to some second, darker death. Perhaps that was the restless need that had driven him along. Or perhaps some sickness in him had driven him back to see Roxanna's body, over and over again.

He touched the door of the flat, then jerked his hand away, then before he could think better of it, pushed it open too quickly, almost stumbling inside.

He fell into a warm and well-lit place, redolent with cooking-smells, and into a woman's arms.

His wife held Guillermo up until he no longer thought he would collapse, and then he still clutched her in his arms, his face buried in her hair. "You're here," she said, and her voice had its same old lightness and warmth, and Guillermo's heart nearly juddered out of its stasis. "I knew you'd come someday, but still, I can hardly believe it."

"You were - I saw you, in the bathroom -"

"Let's not speak of such horrible things," she said. "I died, and you have died as well, and now we are dead together, although you're a little older than I am, now." She laughed. Even the wallpaper was the same, a crisp and cheerful blue that they' d decided on together. "We'll have enough time for stories later," she said. "Dance with me. I want to hold you."

She switched on the radio, and Guillermo took her in his arms, and they danced. "I hardly know what to say," he said.

"You're a better dancer than you were before," she said, laughing. "Have you been practicing with other women?"

"No, no, of course not."

She raised a finger to his lips. "I'm only joking. Here, let's have another song."

Much later, she drew the curtains. They lay in their feather bed and spoke of this and that. Guillermo's body, accustomed to sleeping in cheap hotels and on the softest bits of earth he could find, screamed in protest. Something else in him still cried out to wander onwards. He tamped it down.

" Mama is here, and she's well again," she was saying, "and your Nana, and your cousin Michael too, although I haven't seen him. And Mr. MacAllen, if you remember, that sweet man who used to run the grocery downstairs. It took some getting used to, realizing that I wasn't in the sort of Heaven they talk about in church, and it's a bit grim, really, but it really isn't so awful here, now that I have you. Will you stay here with me, forever? Will you please promise me that?"

"I promise," Guillermo whispered, exploring the tautness of her skin with his fingers. Yet he had barely heard her. He was a hair's breadth from naming his uneasiness. "What did you say about Michael?"

"That he's here," she said. "But I haven't seen him yet, he just died a few months back. They keep a ledger, though, in City Hall, with all the names. I hate to look at it, though, I was always waiting for your name to turn up, and it seemed so cruel to hope you'd die before you were old. But your Nana reads it, and she told me, last she came by."

Guillermo supposed that the dead never needed to sleep. Yet she did fall asleep, and he held her for a long time. He wasn't sure how to fall asleep, himself, and he studied Roxanna instead. She was still twenty-one years old. Her hair still fell in golden curls down to her collarbones, and she still covered her mouth with one hand when she laughed, and her cooking was still awful. He kissed the freckle just below her right eye, then slipped his arm out from under her shoulders and walked outside. She seemed so terribly, beautifully young.

The ledger in City Hall was more slender than he'd expected, only a folio really, with a black leather binding and rice-paper pages. It seemed to only record Guillermo's own dead. He supposed that the elderly people who languished on their porches would find a much thicker book in its place. He ran a finger down the list of names: Roxanna de Luca. A few dozen schoolmates and traveling companions. A handful of authors and artists he'd loved, and others he hadn't. The woman across the street who had, in his youth, always given him the heel of a fresh loaf of bread. His mother. His father. And not Orion.

Not Orion, who had somehow survived. Guillermo, unbidden, had a vision of the man sitting in one of the pubs he'd spent so many nights in himself, telling the tale of the time he'd been shot and lived. Orion was a whisky drinker, like himself.

Guillermo was not angry, and he was not afraid. He felt only something that might have been sadness, and might have been something very much like sadness. He thought about slipping back into bed with his dead, beautiful wife, who floated softly in a sea of time, fifteen years distant from Guillermo. It seemed even further, like an eternity. Like a lifetime.

He left City Hall, and walked away.

The woman with goat's eyes stood before him, stark against the pale sand. You may not wander here, she said.

"I will not wander," Guillermo said. "I'm going to find a man. I've found him once already, and it may take some time to find him again, but find him I will."

And then?

" I'll return to you, with my arm around his shoulders."

The psychopomp nodded once, and stepped aside to let Guillermo pass. Guillermo set his eye on the sun and walked towards it, through sand and brush and pebbles, until it began to set.

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

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

U Mad Bro? the brawl


The Laws of the Game

1363 words

I'm chased off the pitch by the booing of fifty thousand people, so thick and so deep my eardrums hum. It's when I watch the replay that I make up my mind. They're right: it's another terrible call. The defender gets the ball, not the man, but I don't see that. I whistle for the penalty and the crowd snarls. I cut the video and dial the number. The phone rings. And rings. And rings. It echoes in my dank dressing room.

There's a banging on my door. Even before I open it, I know it's the home manager. Flemoth Town are in the relegation zone now. “Open up!” I close the phone and go to the door. Shields is red in the face, like he'd played the ninety minutes himself. “I'm lodging a formal complaint,” he says. “In all my years, I've never seen a worse decision.”

“You said that last time, sir.”

“Don't loving remind me. My job's on the line because of you.” He slams the door. He won't get it overturned. Not how football works. But it's another black mark on him. And on me. At least he has the Cup Final to look forward to. The kids would say that 'haters gonna hate', but I'm not young any more. I'm old. Too old.

I dial the number, and this time it connects.

#

First there was goal-line technology. Was that ball across the line or not? Whole seasons, entire businesses, turning on the dimes of single decisions. Turned out the question of whether or not a ball was in one place or another place was, well, not hard. But still I called wrong. It wasn't good enough. I wasn't good enough.

I make it home unrecognised and shed the tracksuit. I don't bother changing out of my black referee's kit: I just step on the treadmill and start running. I don't go jogging any more. Wherever I run in London, someone knows my face and remembers my failures.

The phone rings. I don't stop running, but I answer. It's my doctor.

“Mark, what is this surgery you've booked? I told you your ligaments needed rest.”

“It's elective,” I say, pounding rubber. My right leg twinges. “And it's not about that.”

“I can see that much. Mark, this is serious. You really shouldn't-”

I hang up on him and turn up the speed. I tear forwards in place, the fastest man on the pitch. I push myself, until my leg gives out from under me and I tumble to the floor of my flat. I sit there for a minute, cursing. Can't do anything right.

#

When I was a lad, and balls were kicked around in streets and in parks and in back gardens, I was never much of a player. It was too physical, too messy. Shoves, trips and mud were the order of those days. But I knew The Laws of the Game. I'd read them, each and every edition. The referee's Bible, the holy writ of sportsmanship.

I don't know why they let me, but I did it. I stopped play, called the fouls and broke up the fights. They were halcyon days, running under rainfall, where I set things right. The game was beautiful. There were rules.

Now, under floodlights, I apply The Laws and the crowd sings the old classic 'Cheerio'. If you don't know it, it goes like this:

Cheerio, cheerio, cheerio
Cheerio, cheerio, cheerioo-o


The defender's not having it. “loving nothing in it,” he shouts. “Didn't touch him.”

My new eyes feed me the replay again, and I patch into the TV cameras for good measure. He bloody well did touch him. It's a cruncher of a tackle, taking the boy's legs away. I hold the red card higher, body straight like a ruler, the defender's dismissal beyond debate.

“Bollocks!” The defender bullrushes me. Time slows, vectors layer on my vision, and I twist aside. Pain flares up my leg: he falls face first onto the grass and the crowd starts to laugh. I make a big show of writing this down, gritting back the pain. Two match ban, probably. I don't need my little referee's book any more: all the fouls, misdemeanors, incidents, go into the little black book in my head, filed by match and time, ready for upload.

He rises, glaring. I turn my back on him, blow the whistle and set up the free kick. He skulks off behind me to jeers.

This time, when it's all over, I jog off the pitch unnoticed. My dressing room is quiet, ordered. There's a knock on the door. It's Shields again. “Look, sorry about my lad out there. Wasn't acceptable – I'll be letting him know.”

“Thank you,” I say. “There'll be a ban though.”

“Quite right too,” he says. “It was a disgraceful tackle.”

I close the door and limp over to my bag. I pull out the phone and make another call. The wetware works perfectly, but it's not enough.

#

My phone rings when I get home. My performance has been noticed. I've jumped up the league table. I'll be handling the Cup Final. It's the biggest match I've ever had. I run myself a bath and relax, letting my leg soften up for the surgery.

The phone rings again. My doctor again.

“I can't recommend this sort of invasive surgery, Mark. You're pushing yourself too hard. Have you considered rejection?”

“I'm not rejecting it.”

“I mean your body, Mark! These things are never simple. As your doctor, I can honestly say I have no idea what will happen.”

“It's okay,” I say. “They're going to power up the wetware stuff too. Make sure I'm at my best.”

“Isn't it working? You should take it out.”

“It's not good enough.” I hang up and soak in the warm water. Haters gonna hate, I'm told.

#

Wembley Stadium holds ninety thousand people. Each and every one of them waits for me to act. I breathe in slowly, savouring the moment. Then I blow the whistle and it kicks off. I engage the wetware and the world crawls. Waves roll across the grass as the breeze passes. The crowd rocks from side to side.

The leg is almost too good. I force myself to slow down, to stay alongside the play. But I can anticipate: I see every possible pass, the lines of every run, the trajectory of the goal coming in thirty-seven seconds - no - the striker is half a centimetre offside. I stop play.

I can see everything. My peripheral vision is perfect. Every call is bang on. My grip is iron. The Laws are sovereign. I blow the whistle again. And again. And again.

It starts to rain during half time. The game kicks back off, muddier now, the ball skidding on wet grass.

Five minutes to go, and no goals. Everything to play for. Flemoth Town lift the ball forward. Their opponents fall back, trying to form a line, but it's not good enough. Play surges on through the gaps, advancing on the penalty area, and I accelerate to keep up.

Too much speed. I slip on the slick muck and I fall. Face down, I hear the crowd roar as one. “Penalty!” The cry goes up, loud and fierce.

I stand back up and ninety thousand eyes look to me.

The Laws are clear in this situation. I cannot give a penalty. I didn't see the incident. If I didn't see it, it didn't happen. Play on.

And yet, I don't need to see it. I bring up the TV cameras. There's no good angle. There's a tackle, but is it clean? I don't know. Players on both sides are piling up around me. They shout, they roar. The crowd grows restless. The moment stretches.

I mute them and I run back time. If the ball is here, therefore it was there, and there, and on and on and on: it's nothing but trajectories and vectors, with a dash of tactical nous.

I am beyond The Laws. I set things right. I signal the penalty, and Wembley erupts. I point to the spot. Haters gonna hate.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

God Over Djinning Here Brawl

Figure Eight
2500 words


After the funeral, Cecile tore apart her home looking for her mother’s necklace. She searched every conceivable box, drawer, and pocket. She turned over her daughter’s room and her husband’s den of gaming consoles and unstrung guitars. Then she booked a plane ticket back to Portland, Oregon.

Her mother’s house was empty of everything except the cool, quiet smells of fresh paint. A ‘For Sale’ sign had sprung up on the front lawn. The necklace was there, she was sure of it. In some corner or stuck behind a loose baseboard. She climbed the stairs, which still made a familiar arpeggio of creaks, and pushed open her mother’s bedroom door with the same sense of trepidation she’d had as a child. The hardwood floor was glossy and immaculate, all the scuffs and dents having been sanded and polished away. There was a hint of shoe leather and rose water and morning breath, but that was all that remained of Cecile’s mother. The necklace wasn’t there.

She met Todd at a pawn shop after fruitless conversations with lawyer and realtor who’d handled her mother’s affairs.

“Has anyone sold you anything like this?” she asked, and slid a photograph of the necklace--a gold figure eight inlaid with roses on a delicate chain--across the glass display case that served as a counter.

Todd barely glanced at it, said, “Nope.”

Cecile slid it closer to him. “Would you mind actually looking at it?”

Todd leaned over the counter and looked into her face. “I saw. I’d remember something like that.”

Cecile felt a flash of irritated suspicion. Maybe he had purchased the necklace from some thief, or one of the movers, and didn’t want to admit his complicity in the crime. Maybe he’d already sold it. But he held her gaze as if her eyes were a ship and he was the mooring.

“Tell you what,” he said. “You leave your number, I’ll give you a call if it shows up.”

“Would you really?” Cecile said. “How likely is that?”

Todd shrugged. “There’re a lot of pawn and consignment shops around here. But lots of people come to me first, ‘cause I know the real value of stuff. I pay what things are worth.”

Cecile looked down at the display case. There was a treasure trove inside, velvet boxes filled with heavy rings and ornate pendants and things studded with diamonds and gems, each bearing a handwritten price tag. It occurred to her that every treasure had been carried into the shop by a person whose need outweighed their sentimentality.

“Were you interested in a replacement?” Todd asked.

Cecile looked up sharply. “I was just thinking,” she said, “people have to be pretty desperate to sell these kinds of things.”

Todd looked at her for a long moment, then turned to the wall behind him, where an acoustic guitar was mounted. He took it carefully in his hands and strummed a soft, sad chord.

“This guitar? Guy who sold it to me played it for the first girl he ever loved. He taught himself to play, just to impress her.” He played a few more drawn out, melancholy chords, his fingers falling across the strings like branches brushing the surface of a placid pond.

“He told you this?”

“No.” Todd clamped his fingers down on the neck of the guitar, strangling his simple song, and placed it back on its mounting. “This guy got a little older, fell out of love, and realized he didn’t actually care much for playing guitar. It was a symbol of a naive, chaotic time in his life.”

“So, what--do you make up stories for all the stuff that winds up in your shop?” Cecile picked up the photo of the necklace and held it up in front of his face. “What would you tell yourself about this, then?”

Todd took the picture and tucked it into his shirt pocket. “I’ll let you know, if I ever see it.” He slid a pad of paper and a pen across the counter. Cecille frowned--she only had one physical copy of the photo--then scribbled her name and phone number down.

It was only as she stepped out into the drizzly Portland afternoon that she realized she trusted Todd. She decided to skip the taxi and walk back to her hotel, and the rain made her think of his hands on the guitar.

-

Without the photo or any sort of lead, Cecile gave herself permission to simply wait. She waited in the old discount movie theater, where some Terry Gilliam film was playing. She waited in the hookah lounge she’d hung out in when she was old enough to smoke but not to drink, and left with a rushing, uncomfortable nicotine high. She waited in Washington Park with a joint procured from some kids who could’ve been her own friends fifteen years before. She thought of the guitar, of disenchantment, of the places she’d been and the things she’d taken from them. She twisted her wedding ring around on her finger and wondered what sort of story Todd would tell himself about it, were she to sell it to him.

She woke up with a headache and no missed calls on her phone. She’d spent two whole days haunting her old loitering spots, certain that Todd would miraculously turn up with the necklace. She looked up the number to the pawn shop and called, intending to get the photo back so she could show it around elsewhere. She chastised herself while waiting for Todd to answer; why had she put all her eggs in one unknown basket?

An unfamiliar woman’s voice answered. “Todd? Nah, he’s out and about,” she said.

“Can you tell him to call Cecile when he gets back?”

“You’re the chick with the necklace, right?” There was a mischievous smile in the woman’s voice.

“Why?”

“He’s downtown, probably ninth and Taylor or thereabouts, talking to the bums and crustpunks about some necklace some pretty lady is looking for,” she said.

Cecile breathed sharply into the receiver. “Now? He’s down there now? For me?”

“He knows what these things are worth,” the woman said, then, “Oops, got a customer. Bye, now.” Cecile’s phone chimed a sad tone and the call disconnected. She wasted no time, pulling on her shoes and jacket and bounding out the door before she had time to think. The early spring drizzle was endlessly persistent. She grabbed a cab from the hotel to downtown, thinking the whole time of Todd out in the rain, searching, trying to help her. The thought filled made her cheeks flush red and her stomach flip.

She found Todd huddled under the narrow eaves of a coffee cart in Director park, sipping from a paper cup filled with black coffee. The park could only be loosely described as such. There was a large, circular fountain and a lot of open concrete where a few people huddled under tarps or soggy cardboard shelters.

When he saw her, he breathed her name in a way that brought her up short. And there it was in his hand: the necklace, its chain tangled in his fingers like spiderweb, the gold and rose colored pendant like a rebellious drop of fire in a world gone grey.

“Thank you,” she said, her voice catching in her throat a little. She reached for the necklace, but somehow found her hands clasped around his. And what should’ve been a series of simple gestures--reach out, take the necklace, pocket it--turned into a prolonged moment of looking and touching.

Without breaking eye contact, Todd said, “Would you like to hear the story this necklace tells me?”

And Cecile tried to say, no thanks, I should be getting back to my hotel, but instead she said, “Yes, please.”

And Todd smiled and gently detangled his hand from hers, leaving behind the necklace and the memory of heat. “Meet me later tonight? by the cherry trees on the hill on the west side of town?” Cecile nodded; she knew the place well. Winter was ebbing, and the trees would just be starting to bloom.

It was only after they parted ways and Cecile was staring into her reflection in the hotel bathroom mirror that she realized it was going to be a dark, stormy night by the looks of things. The monotonous grey hadn’t let up since she’d arrive in Portland. She knew what she was doing. She was meeting a strange man in a garden at night. She was neglecting to call her husband to tell him about it. She was wondering if perhaps Todd would bring along the unwanted guitar.

-

The clouds dissolved and the moon rose as Cecile made her way up the hill toward the cherry trees. Todd was there, hanging a camping lantern from a branch above a bench. The palest, tenderest blossoms were beginning to open like shy little heralds of spring. Cecile wore her mother’s necklace, and the gold figure eight was warm against her skin.

Todd didn’t say anything, just indicated she should sit beside him on the bench. She left a generous amount of space between them and he made no attempt to reach across it. “Your mother,” he said, his voice low and gravelly. “Was she a quiet woman?”

“More so as she got older,” Cecile said. “She kind of curled in around herself, then hardened.”

“And the necklace? Did she always wear it?”

Cecile touched the pendant. “Not--not always, no.” She squinted out at the cityscape. “There was a time she didn’t wear it, when I was little. But then, it was just always there. I guess my dad gave it to her at some point.”

“So, you’re not sure?”

“No, but--when did I tell you this belonged to my mother? I didn’t, did I?” She leaned away from Todd, looking at him with renewed suspicion. “You always knew who it belonged to. You had it this whole time!”

Todd laughed quietly, one soft little puff of air. “Yeah, I took some random old lady’s trinket on the off-chance her cute daughter would show up looking for it. Or,” he held up one finger, “The necklace told me its story. Neither of those things sound likely, but one of them is the truth.”

Cecile folded her arms. “Fine, then. Who gave her the necklace?”

“A lover,” Todd said simply. “A lady lover, whose name your mom probably took to her grave.” He reached out and tapped the pendant. “This necklace is the story of freedom and contentment she felt when they were together. I think...she didn’t want you to have it, didn’t want you to wonder about where it came from.”

Cecile closed her eyes, partly to block out Todd’s persistent stare, partly so she could summon memories of her childhood. Her mother; tightlipped and stoic. Her father; indifferent, or maybe it only seemed that way. Cecile hadn’t thought much of the days where her mother was an hour late picking her up from daycare, or the nights when her father slept on the couch with his work clothes on.

When had the necklace appeared? It featured in almost every family photograph, even the holiday portraits. It had devastated Cecile to discover she’d lost something that had been so much a part of her mother. It’d been enough to make her drop hundreds of dollars on a last minute flight to Portland. And yet she’d not ever considered what the necklace might’ve represented to her mother.

“They would dance together,” Todd said, yanking her out of a backward spiral of memories. “Your mom and the other woman. They’d hold each other and laugh and try to recall the waltz steps they’d learned as girls.” He closed his eyes, tilted his head back, and began to hum a slow, stately song. Cecile could see them: two women, their hair short, their dresses sleeveless and knee-length. Spinning slowly around an unfamiliar living room, looking into each other’s eyes, their girlish giggles receding into heady silence.

“Do you know these things about all the stuff you touch?” Cecile asked.

Todd stopped humming, opened one eye. “Naw, most stuff is just stuff. White noise. Objects inherit the stories they occupy.” He looked out at the city, his head bobbing slowly as if he were still hearing the waltz.

Cecile had a powerful urge to ask Todd to dance, so she did. She let him pull her to her feet and against his chest. His fingers closed around her left hand, around her wedding ring, though if he felt the slow, stagnant story therein, he didn’t give any indication.

“You lead, I hum,” he said into her ear. Cecile’s heart thumped against the pendant. She guided them through a couple of clumsy, hesitant steps; it had been a long time since her mother had danced with her to old-fashioned sunday morning jazz. Once they found a rhythm, Todd started to hum. His voice had the rich, amber tones of a french horn or cello. Their shadows bobbed and spun in the lantern light, and now Cecile could almost hear the ghost of a backing band under Todd’s smooth baritone. She leaned further into him, and he ran his hand up the divot of her spine to caress her neck.

There was most certainly a moment where they looked long and hard into each other’s eyes, their faces just inches apart, each of them aware that the other would not stop a kiss, if it were initiated. But neither made the first move.

The music stopped. Todd wrapped Cecile in a tight hug, then held her at arm’s length, hands on her shoulders.

“Thank you for letting me share this with you,” he said.

“My flight home is tomorrow,” Cecile blurted. “I live in Omaha now. With my husband. And daughter.”

“Then we best get you back to your hotel,” Todd said. He retrieved the lantern from the tree and lit the way back to the main road, where they parted ways with one last quick, rough hug and a brusque goodbye. Cecile twisted her wedding ring around her finger the whole walk back, wondering how its story was going to end.

It wasn’t until she reached airport security early the next morning that she realized the necklace was gone. She took off her belt and shoes, then reached for the chain’s clasp and found only bare skin. There was the ghost of a sensation, the memory of fluttering fingers on the back of her neck. Todd’s fingers. And then she understood. She would’ve never been able to wear the necklace. It was a sigil of a sad, secret love that she had no right to bear.

Perhaps after her daughter went to college. Perhaps after the house filled with an unabidable silence that neither she nor her husband could ignore. Perhaps then she would come back for the pendant, and the man who knew its story, and they’d waltz again under the cherry trees.

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StealthArcher
Jan 10, 2010

This post is a problem I can't live with. And I'm fucking dead.
- Norman "Sweetheart" Rockwel


Nap Ghost

sebmojo posted:

Toxx up, kids.

LIMERICK BRAWL

to IN

to WIN

Stack em up Muffin.

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

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