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dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

sebmojo posted:

stealtharcher where is your loving brawl piece you sassmouthed cocksucker

alright, you're banned when the squid lays his loving pseudopodia upon you, and for talking the sasstalk without walking the sasswalk, take a FLASH GEAS next two entries in the dome need a on them

e: muffin wins i'll line by line you in a day or two. Spoiler: it was ok.

dreadmojo fucked around with this message at Nov 18, 2015 around 06:17

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Ventadour
Feb 17, 2012


Time to stop pussyfooting around. In. Hoping not to shame myself and ten generations of my descendants with my first entry.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



nvm

take the moon fucked around with this message at Nov 18, 2015 around 17:37

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




Can't let all these power couples run around unchecked. In.

Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


Can I get in, too?

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

youse all gots like, 4ish hours to sign up. Light week this week, your chances of winning (and losing!) are high

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

In.

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


Ah, what the hell, I'm in. And for loving it up last time.

EDIT - Getting to be about time to change out av, anyway.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


I Can’t Believe It’s Mort!
Words: 741

Mort admired Sam from the security of his own table. He watched her look to the left and right before opening a packet of butter and sneaking a quick lick. Mort smiled. She always did that at lunch.

“You’re such a creep Morty,” said Tony.

Tony was a tall, beefy senior who wore his hair slicked back. He loomed over skinny little Mort, a gleam of malice in his eyes.

“Don’t call me Morty.”

“Alrighty, Morty.”

Mort sneered at Tony.

“Always staring at that bitch,” said Tony.

“She is not a bitch!” shouted Mort.

Nearby students turned their attention to Mort. His face went flush.

“You’re dumb. A dumb little creep.”

Tony walked off, leaving Mort alone with eyes on him. The bell rang, and Mort scattered.

***

As the bus sped down the road, Mort scrolled through the iphone app store. He looked through the new section, trying to find entertainingly poor apps. He loved reading articles and watching videos about terrible games, and he always wanted to have a series like that of his own.

“Majick Djinn,” read the title of the topmost app.

Mort grinned to himself as he clicked on the genie’s lamp icon. He figured it’d be a poor man’s Akinator. When the app loaded, a heavily blurred image filled the phone’s screen.

As the image came further into focus, Mort didn’t recognize anything resembling a genie. It depicted a gaunt figure, its arm clung to a bare tree branch. Before Mort could click off the app, a synthesized voice spoke.

“What is your desire?”

Mort collected himself. He wasn’t about to let a picture scare him away from what could be an amazingly terrible app. He cleared his throat.

“I want Sam to love me, and Tony to fear me.”

The app didn’t respond. Mort tapped at the screen. Was his response too complex for the software to understand? As Mort prepared to say something, the app whispered back.

“So be it.”

***

Mort sat down at a different spot for lunch, praying that Tony wouldn’t find him. He picked a seat where he could still admire Sam, though. Sam performed her usual ritual of opening a packet of butter and taking a single lick. Mort leaned in close, his courage building. He lifted his tray and pushed out his seat. Today was the day.

However, as he did so, a sharp pain shot through both his arms. Mort lifted his left hand to his face.

Thick yellow liquid covered the entirety of his arm. A dull sting jolted through his entire body, the substance leaking from his every pore. Skin peeled away from his flesh in large, yellowed patches that melted into more liquid as they hit the floor.

His throat clogged up with the liquid, and a familiar taste hit his tongue. His eyes shot open as he realized what the substance was.

Butter.

A crowd formed around Mort as an ambulance sprinted towards him. A primal urge surged through his body, and he brushed through the forming crowd with outstanding strength. He saw Sam, still sitting in the back. He crawled towards her, his voice raspy and weak.

“Do you love me, Sam?”

Sam wailed as Mort cradled her in his buttery arms. He covered her mouth to silence her screams.

“You love butter, don’t you Sam? Now I’m butter, and you love me.”

From the corner of his peripheral vision, Mort saw the Djinn. It stood in the crowd unseen. Dark, rotten skin covered its entire body like a jacket. Mort grinned back at the demon as it watched him smother Sam.

“And we can thank my friend, Sam. My friend the Djinn.”

Sam choked and wheezed as butter invaded her mouth and nostrils. Mort engulfed her into his mass, her cries muffled into distant whimpers.

A hard thump smashed into Mort’s head. He shifted focus to see Tony pounding him in the head. While Mort couldn’t feel the pain of the blows, he still didn’t appreciate the retaliation. Another strike caved in Mort’s skull, sending buttered bone fragments flying into the air. When he tried to pull his hand from Mort’s skull, however, Tony found himself stuck.

The Djinn watched on in approval. Tony cursed and thrashed as butter ensnared his arm, eventually reaching his face. Mort reeled Tony’s increasingly limp body into his center of mass for digestion.

“Thank you, my friend. I finally got the girl and beat the bully.”

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

them signups are closed btw

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




I'm sure all of you have been waiting with bated breath for these 7-month old crits, so without further ado, enjoy these rundowns on Week 143 - Smells Like Dome Spirit! Shoutout to Kai for patiently reminding me half a dozen different times to get off of my lazy rear end and finish these.

Please note that this is Part 1 of 2. I will post the second half as soon as I get home!



Mrenda - A Funeral for a Dog, A Young Murderer, and The Aged Bad Boy of Directing

This story is just kind of...muddled. Right out of the gate, it's bogged down by over-description, to the point that it is difficult to track how many characters there are and what they are doing, because you are too busy telling me what kind of clothes they are wearing and what their food looks like. I know you are trying to hit the prompt here, and being able to tell when you've crossed the line on description can be pretty tough, but here you ended up sacrificing the actual story for it. There is also a huge block of dialogue in the back half of the story, and without any action / blocking, etc., it turns the scene into a bunch of talking heads. It's also pretty hard to figure out what is even going on, plot-wise, at the end. I figured it out eventually, but I had to re-read a few of those lines.

Wangless Wonder - stopwatch

This is another story that is a little glutted with descriptions early on, but you provide enough action to contextualize it and let me paint a mental picture. There is some nice description here, and some of pulls double duty by having some thematic relevance / contributing to characterization, which is exactly what you want your descriptions to do. The plot itself is a bit well-trodden, but the protagonist's interior dialogue helps to keep it interesting. My biggest complaint here is that it feels like the story ends prematurely; there is a conflict, but the way the protagonist "faces" it feels kinda perfunctory. I think there's a lot of room to do something cool with this story if you kept it rolling for another thousand words or so.

dmboogie - Rogue's Eyes

Putting some limitations on the protagonist's senses is a smart call with this prompt, since it gives you a bit more wiggle room. The plot moves along pretty briskly, and you do a good job of blocking everything out so that I know what is going on. However, the characterization feels a bit thin. You made Vi relatively sympathetic, but a lot of her motivation is conveyed to the reader via exposition. It would be nice to get into her head a bit more. The other issue is that the dialogue itself feels very stilted, like bad fantasy novel / video game dialogue. Everyone's speech is formal, and they only say exactly what needs to be said to move the plot forward / provide background, which makes it feel unrealistic--the ultimate effect is that the reader can see the author's hand, when ideally you want immersion.

bigperm - Final Luxury

Your first paragraph is a solid hook (though you've got a tiny tense mistake), which is always nice. Unfortunately, you kind of lose that momentum by spending so much time on this guy taking a bath. It also feels like you jammed in a bunch of sensory description in this section to hit the prompt, which makes it feel even more bloated. The prose is pretty solid, but the story doesn't really go anywhere. Your protagonist basically shows up for a high-fantasy version of suicide by cop, and we get a brief idea of why at the very end, but it isn't enough to make the narrative truly compelling. Personally, I think you played your cards a bit too close to your chest, and you probably could have told a more interesting story if you revealed his reasons for being there right away and worked from there, with the kind of "tranquil on the outside, storming inside" push and pull.

spectres of autism - Lilium

This was a tough story to judge. Your prose is pretty solid, and there are some very cool images / concepts throughout. Plopping the narrator in an unfamiliar place is another good trick to make hitting the prompt feel more natural, and you do a good job with making sensory description unobtrusive. The entire piece has this sort of dreamlike quality to it that I dig, but it ends up edging over into being so opaque that I can't really figure out why things are happening or what it means. It's not a bad piece, but all of the actions feel so disconnected from any familiar motivations that the story ends up being weaker than the sum of its parts.

Blue Wher - The Deadly Curse of American Revolutionary Oliver Hammond

This is a fun concept, and it's a cool setting that doesn't get enough love. You do a pretty good job of hooking me right away, even if it's a bit clumsy and relies on some completely unapologetic exposition dumping. This is another story where the dialogue feels awkward and unnatural, and it seems a little anachronistic on top of that. There's a clear narrative arc here, but you fall into some common pitfalls with stories of this vein. There's another exposition dump toward the end, and it doesn't help that it's in the form of a villainous monologue. The end result is that the antagonist feels more fleshed out than the narrator--a pretty big problem when it's a first-person piece. It would have been cool to spend some time with those visions he gets, since not only is that your big intro hook, but it gives you a ton of room to play with the prompt. You just kind of gloss over them instead, which was definitely a let-down. Still, you get points for creativity for that finger-throwing killshot.

TheGreekOwl - Poison for the Mid Light

There isn't a whole lot of constructive criticism to give here, because pretty much everything is wrong. Lots of grammar / syntax issues, muddled prose, thin characterization, and a plot that I honestly can't really decipher. It kinda feels like a throwaway joke story, and I guess I just don't get the punchline. As far as I can tell, a guy goes home and does some internet trolling, culminating in a 9/11 joke? I dunno. I don't think there was any question among the judges about giving this one the loss.

Mercedes - Valley of Death

So I get what you are going for here, but it just doesn't stick the landing, which is the big gamble that you take when you write a comedy piece. To your credit, the pacing is punchy and the blocking is solid enough to let me follow what is going on (for the most part), but you end up sacrificing too much for your punchline. The characters can barely even be called two-dimensional, and all of the plot gets tossed out the window in the latter half. The joke is kind of a "heh, wouldn't that be silly" premise that can't really sustain itself for a whole story, so it ends up feeling like a joke that just gets stretched out to the point that it becomes more frustrating than funny. I can't say much more, just because humorous stories are kind of a hard sell for me in the first place unless they really nail it, but this felt more like a goofy experiment anyway.

Broenheim - Everyone Has Their Demons

This is a good example of a story that could stand to lose its first paragraph--not only does it fail to contribute anything meaningful to the story that we can't figure out from context, but you tell us how dark it is four different times in 3 lines, which almost had me expecting a parody. You do a good job of building a tense and oppressive atmosphere, and you kept me reading to find out what was going on. For me, it just felt like the second half of the story was really rushed; everything happens so quickly that none of your plot beats really have a chance to breathe. It makes it hard to care about the characters or what happens to them, since there really isn't an opportunity for the narrator to decompress and engage with what is happening. It's a neat concept and you did a good job of incorporating the prompt, but the conflict is resolved so quickly that it ends up being unsatisfying.

Bompacho - Baxter's Second Hand Books

Wow, that kid is a dick. You've done a good job of giving Baxter enough character for me to get invested and care about what happens, although the son comes across as almost a comic book villain. Your description is pretty solid throughout, but the dialogue ends up feeling inauthentic. Baxter's reaction to what his son is trying to do just feels a little too resigned, which makes it harder for the reader to care. The plot is predictable, but there's a charm here that mostly makes up for it. I didn't have a lot to say about this story -- it's just kind of an inoffensive piece that gets lost in the middle of the pack.

ravenkult - The Doom That Came to Ipswich

This was sort of a frustrating story. Not because it was bad, but because it feels like a setup for a much longer piece. Your prose is on the strong end for this week, and you do a good job of hooking me right away and keeping me reading. The characterization isn't super-deep, but there's enough there to work with. The imagery surrounding the jellyfish creature is rad, and it feels like something crazy is about to happen (especially given the title), but then it just ends. Maybe you were trying to subvert expectations, but if so, it fell a bit flat. The premise is compelling, and the fact that the old woman just goes "oh yeah we used to see these all the time" seems like it should be a "what the hell?" moment, but again, that comes right before the story ends. I think with a few thousand more words you'd have something really cool, and what you do have here was still solid enough to flirt with an HM.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




Week 143 Crits Part 2 of 2


Megazerver - O

Well, that is certainly a hook. The prose is pretty solid here, and you did a good job of establishing the tone right off the bat. I'm also a fan of the way you incorporate the whole fairy invasion thing without relying on a bunch of exposition or "as you know..." dialogue. You tell us what we need to know in a way that feels organic, which goes a long way towards buying into this absurd premise. I'm not gonna lie, I am actually fairly impressed that you managed to write a story featuring a literal dickbutt and the word "bellypussy" and still have characters with a reasonable amount of depth and believable motivations. That's a pretty confident ending, too. There isn't anything profound here, but it's still a fun, ridiculous story and I'm not mad at it.

Something Else - Freshly Split

Your prose is pretty evocative, and there is some neat imagery here. The pacing is solid, and you do a good job of imbuing the action with energy. There isn't a whole lot to say about this story, because it's one of those "competent middle" pieces. What brings it down is the thin plot and characterization. This is a pretty tried-and-true concept for a story, and there just isn't enough to distinguish this from the dozens of other similar pieces I've read. There isn't enough time spent in your characters' headspace to figure out what is really going on between them and what their individual motivations are. There are some obvious implications, but they just aren't compelling enough to carry a story on their own. There's potential here for sure, but the story sorta ends up being good meat on bad bones.

Jonked - Bathsheba

This story just kind of fell flat for me. Structurally, it feels like a soap opera in short story form--a bunch of drama disconnected from actual human characters. Things happen, and the events themselves are interesting and tragic, but we don't really get a sense of the people these things are happening to. The dialogue feels a bit scripted, and there are some minor issues with punctuation (also some serious overuse of ellipses). The husband coming home and being gay feels like a weird cop-out for the tension that has been building, and it creates this effect where none of the events get any time to breathe. It's like a shotgun blast of Lifetime movie plots, and not having anything to really focus on makes the narrative fall apart. I think if you had reeled things in a bit and focused more on the characters going through one of the three big issues at play, you'd end up with a better story. Not a terrible story by any means, just a bit too disjointed for its own good.

Pete Zah - Maggie's Tale

Nice opening line. There's some good imagery throughout, and your prose style is a solid match for this kind of story. You give us a conflict right away, and there's a clear narrative trajectory, which already puts you in the upper half of this week. There isn't a whole lot wrong with this piece, except that it's pretty cliche. The plot is so simple that you sort of write yourself into a corner with regards to what can end up happening -- it's basically gonna go one of two ways, and both are predictable. Your protagonist is just painted too broadly to overcome a stale plot, even if the writing itself is solid. This was another story that did a good job of incorporating the prompt elements without being too obvious.

Claven666 - The Black Forest

A neat premise, but it reads like you ran out of steam and / or time halfway through. Your intro paragraph is a bit bloated, mostly because it seems like you tried to fit the entire prompt into it. Your prose is solid enough, but once we get into the meat of the story, all of your description goes out the window and gets replaced with a laundry list of "This happened, then this happened," which isn't much fun to read. The guardians were a good excuse to bust out those five senses, but after the first one we just get ushered through the rest of them in short order. Even the narrator's reunion with his loved one, which is ostensibly the core conflict, feels flat and unsatisfying. She's a guardian, somehow? And a zombie? And the protagonist just sorta gives up, is the implication I get from it. You had more words to work with here, and I know I am the last person to be giving advice about using more of the wordcount, but there is definitely a marked difference between the first and second halves of this piece, and fleshing out the back half some more would have gone a long way.

Sitting Here - Wild Flower

Unsurprisingly, there is some really pretty prose here. This was one of the few stories this week that actually took full advantage of the prompt and really evoked things with its descriptions. "The honey of blackberries ripening in the hot August afternoon" is a good example - I can read that and instantly imagine that smell. The dialogue feels pretty good - I can buy that two girls would talk this way, which is tougher than it seems to pull off. I like the way you meld these fairytale elements with the encroachment of real-world darkness, and a story that ends on a hopeful note is refreshing. Definitely a solid contender for the win.

Noah - Inheritance

Nice opening paragraph. Lots of good hooks this week. Your prose is strong and fairly economical, which keeps the story flowing and keeps me reading. You establish the conflict and the stakes early on, which is great. You even give us secondary stakes -- in this case, Oscar's shame -- which was a smart call given the fact that the primary conflict would be kind of toothless without it. I like that you take this in a sorta magical-realist direction by making his magical flavored blood something that seems natural to the world of your otherwise realistic story. The only thing I don't really understand is why the food critic steps out to let him cheat; I don't really see a clear motivation for it, which makes it feel a little cheap. Still a strong contender this week.

A Classy Ghost - Digging Up the Past

Another solid hook, and conflict is set up in the first paragraph. Good start. Prose is solid and does a good job of evoking the setting / atmosphere. I'm just scratching my head a little over the actual plot. Maybe I'm just missing something, but I don't really get what this plan of his is. He's stealing this trophy, but what's the play here? Is he planning to sell it for rent money or something? Impersonate his father? The interaction between Lou and the cops feels cursory, and the image of that scene is so good that I wished you'd done more with it. You pull off a nice bittersweet ending, and the protagonist has enough depth to evoke empathy. The scent you picked was pretty neat and that was a creative take on it, you were just lacking a bit of clarity to give the conflict more punch.

Kaishai - Ghost

A good example of an intro that hooks the reader by being mysterious rather than with something shocking. Strong, economical prose, immediate conflict, and a character with agency that gets fleshed out as much through small details as through her actions. Your premise here is cool, and you pull it off very well. There are little bits of unobtrusive worldbuilding that paint a clear picture of this world and the people in it, which helps bring everything to life. If I had to nitpick: I'm not really clear on why the doctor wants these ectoplasmic manifestations. I assume he's doing research on them, but the crowbar almost makes it seem like he's got practical uses in mind for them. Not that it can't be both, I suppose. The ending is maybe a touch predictable / clean-cut, but it fits the tone you've established so it's not really an issue for me. I can't remember if this was a unanimous pick for winner or not, but all of the judges liked it a lot, and it hit the prompt very well.

Killer-of-Lawyers - Decay

I have to admit I wasn't as excited about this story as the other judges were the first time around, mostly because I have a really low tolerance for technical jargon and my eyes start to glaze over when I start reading about transmitters and servos and sensors, etc. But I gave it a second chance and it clicked with me a lot more. You do a good job of getting into your protagonist's head, which makes it easier to empathize with them and get invested in what is happening. I still maintain that the first half of the story feels a little cluttered, in the sense that it's hard for me to visualize what is happening, but that isn't really an issue once the more substantial action kicks in. This is a fun piece with some good, believable rapport between the characters, and you did a good job of making the protagonist's motivations feel three-dimensional, which was a bit of an issue this week.

Tyrannosaurus - Tour

Lots of one-word titles this week! I love that opening line, and the next line plays off of it perfectly. Probably my favorite hook this week. Really strong economy of prose, as usual, and there are some great details here, like Teddy refusing to sing in German. This whole piece hits a balance of absurd and tense and sad that really works for me. I think one of the judges had some issues with the way it ends, but I liked it. Not a whole lot I can say about this, honestly. It's short and punchy and weird, in a good way.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


ATTN THUNDERDOME: feeling an emotion is not the same thing as acting on it. Let your protagonists do things, holy poo poo.

Here's the crits from last week.


A Sealed Fate

The part about the zombie seals is confusing. Are they undead? A human wearing the bloodied pelt of a seal like a coat? I’m pretty sure I understand what is going on here, but it could be more clear. A lot of the detail in this story could be more clear. I like the strangeness of this, but leaving it hazy as to whether or not the protag is crazy is a little unfulfilling, especially since he has so little agency in the story. That is the main problem here, all throughout the story your protag almost makes decisions, but then he doesn’t change anything. He picks up a gun, but he doesn’t use it. Also, he allows himself to be trampled.

USE OF PROMPT: Clever
CONFLICT-O-METER: Low


Church Wedding

Intro is okay and has me reasonably interested in continuing. Some of the wording is awkward, but nothing is egregious. This feels like Halo fanfiction, but I don’t recognize any of the proper nouns specifically, so it’s not being held against you. Dialogue is stereotypically space-marineish but it’s snappy and fine. Minus the dialogue formatting and occasional unattributed speech, this is okay. Just okay.

USE OF PROMPT: Okay
CONFLICT-O-METER: Mid


The Title

Opening is cheesy, but it doesn’t have to mean bad things. This is a story that moves, and I am liking it, but I also have a thing for faustian stories. I don’t like the scatalogical gags about the janitors. The line about firing the janitor was funny though. Ends on another joke that had me giggling, but perhaps because it was all so silly. I quite like this story; it’s well written and everything is clear, no lingering questions.

USE OF PROMPT: Good
CONFLICT-O-METER: High


Mister Rogers

Questionable placement on that first section break. I like the setup here and some of the descriptions, but it just isn’t hitting as hard as I would like.

“I thought we were just playing detective.”

She lit up a cigarette. I didn’t know she smoked. “We’re doing that, too.”

I love those two lines. This is a fun story, but there are some disconnects. Let’s see how or if it comes together. Eh. Really not a fan of the ending; it’s too easy. The narrator just gets what she wants even though she broke into an apartment? Also, you are missing an antecedent in the last sentence of the story that makes the whole thing even more confusing. Is the he Roger or the boyfriend? Does the boyfriend even have a name? He should have a name. Im hot and cold on this. Why is the narrator so passive? There are some nice pieces of writing amongst the mess, however.

USE OF PROMPT: Good
CONFLICT-O-METER: High (Ending- Low)


Sleepover and Out

Is this a stealth sci-fi week? Obliterati will be happy. Why is Low Earth Orbit capitalized? Writing is fine, but it is taking a while to develop thanks to all the space descriptions. One of your characters is vaping. He sucks. Eh, this story isn’t bad, but your protag doesn’t really get to do much. Credit for having him smash the Oculus though instead of crying like a little bi-atch. I like the dads, but I’m not crazy about this story on the whole.

USE OF PROMPT: Fine
CONFLICT-O-METER: Low-Mid


Current Playlist: All The Worst Songs, Ever

Setup is efficient. Background info is delivered efficiently as well. I admire the dickishness of your protagonist, but the story isn’t resonating with me. Maybe if we had a little bit rationalization for trying to ruin the wedding? I can piece it together easy enough, but I don’t connect with him. I enjoy the cheeky descriptions of the pranking, but I think that having the protag. flee at the end is a bit of a cop-out. He is never really challenged in the story, and I think that it does the whole thing a disservice. Speaking of disservice, why the random time jumps? They don’t add much here in my opinion and just look like an attempt to make a boring story more interesting.

USE OF PROMPT: Mostly
CONFLICT-O-METER: Low


K9: Genuine Canine

The story title made me laugh, I don’t know why. Another sci-fi story? Weird. “It was almost as if someone had slipped a lifelike dog suit around the dog bot.” LOL at this loving sentence here. I don’t have much to say about this. It was boring. Again, a problem is when the protag doesn’t get to do much, and here we have the same story. His only real course of action is that he gets mad, but he hardly acts on the emotions. Sadly, this story doesn’t do much for me.

USE OF PROMPT: Yes
CONFLICT-O-METER: Low


A Little Bird the Ants Have Gotten To

Love the descriptions and the setup here. I’ve felt more dread in the first section than during most weeks of TD. The writing is really nice and somewhat haunting. Still, this is more of a character study than anything else. The character isn’t challenged, just slow in exacting his revenge. I love the writing in this, but I don’t think this will be enough to carry you, and Im not sure this even qualifies as a story, technically speaking.

USE OF PROMPT: Good
CONFLICT-O-METER: Mid-Low


When God Sings for You, You Lose Your Voice

There are some formatting issues with this, but I like it. I really enjoy the depiction of God here, bestowing an unwanted, beautiful gift, but also being relentlessly apathetic to larger and more personal issues to the protagonist. I do wonder “why?” though. It would be nice to have some answers for that question. Why would God do that? That may be the point though. The little girl is bad rear end and there is some nice conflict here. This is a cool story and I like it. It’s a little weak in terms of episode assignment, but who gives a gently caress because it’s a cool story.

USE OF PROMPT: Loose
CONFLICT-O-METER: High


Caveat Emptor

Setup is good, strikes a nice balance between setting the scene and establishing a conflict... I will say that this setup is going to be hard to create some decision making within, especially if the protag is trapped in traffic for the duration of the story. I kind of hope that Marty beats the dog to death with a club. At least he will be making a choice then…. Nevermind on that. I see you went in a different direction, but I am not sure that it is a good decision. The sectioning in this is awkward. The ending is a flashback, showing how Marty got conned. The section before this shows the dog show woman chilling with her well trained dog. This means that the chronological end of Marty’s story is what? Leaving an angry voicemail? Not very satisfying.

USE OF PROMPT: Strict
CONFLICT-O-METER: Minimal


Munchausen Siphon by Proxy

Some seriously nice writing here. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it in IRC, but you basically described my mother in this story, which causes this to hit home pretty hard. All of the characters are believable and well characterized. Love this line: “Nancy’s heart tore and she fell to her knees and took her boy in her arms, and the blanket fell away, revealing scrawny breasts that hung like empty bean pods from her bony chest, but she didn’t care, because this was her baby, the only thing in life that hadn’t yet abandoned her.” It exemplifies the physicality that I enjoy in this story. My largest complaint is, again, one of agency. We don’t really get much decision making of consequence from the mother, which is a shame, because I feel like you were two paragraphs away from having her lash out against Carl, which would have been really interesting. This is probably the best use of internal conflict in the week.

USE OF PROMPT: Tight
CONFLICT-O-METER: Mid


Filling Up

I love this story, and it is my choice for the win. I was all ready to complain about how your main character falls into the same trapping of many others this week in not really making a decision of consequence, but your ending really ties it together and creates a nice little symbol with the empty RV. I like the decision to turn the interaction between Chevy and Don into a moment of understanding rather than forcing a conflict centered around the oddity of driving around with a bounce castle. I love the way that the second section begins. I’m annoyed that I don’t have any real complaints here, but the characterization is great, the pacing is nice, there are degrees of both internal and external conflict, Don makes some real decisions, and it is all well written. What else is there to ask for?

USE OF PROMPT: Whimsical
CONFLICT-O-METER: Mid-High

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



From both me and Ty:

Extra Time
1211 words

Da’s dead.

I push open the door to the Pig & Pistol. Bell’s still broken, bartender is polishing glass and doesn’t notice me until I sit down in front of him. I don’t remember his name. Something Wickie, maybe? An ex-hooligan from in the hardcore N40 days. Used to run with Da back when you was allowed to get proper tossed before a match.

“Oi, gently caress me,” he says, looking up. “If it idn’t ol’ Alfie Barker’s boy. Good t’see ya again, Georgie. Been a spell.”

“Aye,” I say. “Couple years I suppose.”

“Back home for good?”

“No. Just here for a pint.”

“Sure, sure,” he says, sliding a glass in front of me. “Shame about your Da.”

“Yeah.”

“Two tickets to see Stoke play Chelsea up close. Two tickets and a son stuck in London. And they beat the wankers right silly, too. I figure your Da musta died ova broken heart.”

Never takes long to remember why I left this place. “Oh, ‘twas ‘is sodding heart all right,” I say, “the fat lazy fucker. Fried Mars bars clogged up his arteries ‘till they burst.”

“Like I said, broken heart what killed him.”

“Piss off.”

“Shame on you,” he says. “Couldn’t give up a couple hours of London? When was the last time you saw Stoke play? By God, do you even still fly the red and white? Do you know who your father was? We split our knuckles for those colours. I know it’s real trendy right now for folks to cheer for Chelsea or Arsenal or those wankers over in Manchester but we got history, mate. Y’can’t escape it.”

“You know what? If you wanna reminisce about N40 and fighting for Stoke City and all that arf soaked bullshit then roll on down to me Da’s place and bloody well do it. ‘Is ghost is still there haunting it up like a Halloween spooky house.”

“You’re kidding,” he says, suddenly quiet. “Alfie Barker’s stuck as a ghost?”

“Yeah,” I say. It’s been two weeks and I need to go about finishing his affairs. He feels even bigger in death than he did in life. And Da was a big guy.

“That’s awful,” he says. He crosses himself. “God help him. You ring a priest, then? Exorcisms is free, ain’t they?”

“Bloody hell,” I say. “Me Da’s a ghost, not a sodding demon!”

“Well, don’t get your tits in a tangle, boy. I’m only trying to be helpful.”

“How ‘bout you keep your help and I pay for my pint and we say toodle-pip?”

I drain my glass and toss a couple coins on the counter. The bartender shakes his head and pushes them towards me. He refills my glass and then pours one for himself.

“These is on the house,” he says. “Cheers. To Alfie Barker and to the honor of Stoke City F.C.!”

I’m done with this neighborhood, I’m done with all the tossers that live here and I’m especially done with bloody Stoke. But... free beer is free beer. So I knock it back, and then I knock back another, and another.

“Listen,” he says, filling the glasses once more with lager. “I know this bird down on 4th street-”

“I’m not interested in some chav wanker’s scam.”

“No, no,” he says. “It’s not like that. I swear it on me nan’s grave. This bird’s got a real bright kid. Knows computers. Invents things, ya see...”

***

My shirt smells like puke. Or maybe the couch does. It’s hard to tell.

poo poo. I sit up and realize that Da’s place is awful quiet. No flickering lights. No plates or doors slamming or bits of mail getting whipped up around my face.

“‘Ello?”

My phone buzzes. poo poo. There’s no telling who I buggered while I was on the pisser last night. Which woman. I grit my teeth and I open it warily but it ain’t no normal message. It’s from the OuijApp. Letters come into focus, one at a time.

OI stinkyhole

I swallow.

“Da?” I whisper.

SWOT UR MA TOL ME U CHEEKY WANKA

“Jesus, Da. Y’know you’ve kicked the bucket, right?”

AY

“Do you need help moving on?”

AY

“How is it, by the way? You in heaven? You seen Nan? I got so many questions, Da.”

Numbers slowly appear across the screen. One by one, just like the letters, but each new one is more faded than the last. It’s three numbers past the area code when I realize what I’m looking at. I sprint across the room and grab a pen out his old desk. I scribble what I can remember onto my arm.

“I didn’t get it all. Whose phone number was that?”

CALL

“Do it again. I know I got a couple wrong.”

I can barely read his response.

CANT DO MORE 2 HARD 2 TALK SRRY M8 GL

“Wait, no, Da, please. I’ve got so much I wanna say to ya. I-- I love you, Da.”

The letters are nearly indecipherable. They appear agonizingly slowly.

GO STOKE

And then the screen goes black.

***

“Can’t say I have, mate.”

“Alright. Thanks for your time.”

Almost word for word the same. Everytime.

I want to stop calling random folks. But part of me wants to be a good son. The other part is hungover as all hell and knows Da’s ghost will start banging pots and pans if I quit using my phone. Hours of the same conversation is making me feel like maybe I’m the one who’s dead. Like this is my purgatory-- trapped on a dirty couch with no company but the ghost of me Da.

I switch a 5 and a 9 and punch in another guess.

“Hello?”

“Hi,” I repeat for the umpteenth time. “You wouldn’t happen to have known an Alfie Barker, would you? He was me Da.”

“No?”

“Eh, no loss,” I say. “He was a sorry sodder overly attached to the red and white. Anyway. Thanks for the chin-wag. Have a good one.”

“Wait,” the man says. “The red and white? You mean Stoke?”

“Aye?”

“Me Da was the same way.”

“No kidding?” I say.

“Yeah. Just passed on this Saturday, God bless ‘im.”

“Two weeks ago for me. But he’s a ghost now.”

“Oh, that’s awful,” he says. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Thanks,” I say. “It’s kinda why I’m calling, actually. He wants me to ring someone about something. Course I didn’t write the number down good so I’m stuck shooting all willy-silly.”

There’s a pause on the other end.

“Listen,” the man says, “I don’t want this to sound strange but I have two tickets to see Stoke play West Ham tonight. I was taking me Da for his birthday. But, well, now he’s dead and, well, I was just gonna sell ‘em… You wouldn’t want to go with me, would you?”

I blink. Maybe...

“Yeah, yeah,” I say. “Sure.”

“Let’s grab a pint first. Say four-thirty at the Pig & Pistol? You know the pub?”

“Course.”

“Great,” he says. “Go Stoke.”

“Yeah, mate. Go Stoke.”

The line goes dead.

“loving hell,” I say. “I didn’t mean that, Da! I was being polite!”

The house is silent but I swear I can hear the old bastard laughing.

My phone buzzes.

CHEER LOUD YA CHEEKY stinkyhole

Ventadour
Feb 17, 2012


Death Before Bad Reviews
1060 words


Aniela was first informed about Mrs. Twarda when she was applying for a license to open a store. The clerk had been eyeing her paperwork for an unusually long time, so she asked if everything was in order.

The clerk put his pencil down and rubbed his temple before replying.

“Everything’s correct, but I’d advise you to apply for a location further away from here. This neighbourhood’s already got a trusted witch.”

His explanation continued: the elderly Mrs. Twarda had no store of her own, but she had been helping the people around the neighbourhood for three generations now. Starting a business on her territory could prove problematic for everyone involved.

Aniela shrugged.

“I’d rather not go through the whole procedure again. I’m sure there won’t be a problem,” she insisted, pushing her application towards the clerk.

Right after stepping out of his office, she whipped out her phone and began looking up dreaded Mrs. Twarda online. To her surprise, the woman had no digital footprint. Aniela checked both the local magiczne.pl and the international toads.com, as well as several apps not centred on magical services. Nothing.

This meant that people searching magiczne.pl by street address would only find Aniela’s store, which was a good omen.


---


Aniela thought about this situation for a few days. A witch like Mrs. Twarda would be a challenge and undoubtedly a danger, but possibly also an opportunity. By offering her a business partnership, the older witch could be appeased, and Aniela would have priceless help getting her career off the ground.

Already she was imagining Mrs. Twarda’s trusted clients lining up before her counter and going home to leave glowing reviews. (The fact that the store’s magiczne.pl profile would only bear Aniela’s name could go unmentioned during negotiations.)


---


As luck would have it, Mrs. Twarda lived in the same apartment block as Aniela. Just a floor above her, in fact. Aniela found out less than two weeks after she heard of her.

It had been a tiring day at the store. Aniela’s shoulders ached, and her eyes still itched from herb-of-grace pollen. And now, Mrs. Twarda was in the elevator with her, and would remain here for five more floors.

Mrs. Twarda was a diminutive woman, but the motley of colours and smells she wore made her conspicuous even to people who couldn’t hear magic on her. In this confined space, her presence was almost oppressive.

Aniela leaned her shoulder against the wall and closed her eyes. This was a perfect opportunity for polite, good-natured neighbourly small talk. She could use this stroke of luck to establish herself as polite and respectful, making future negotiations easier.

Every conversation opener that came to mind sounded trite, and Aniela resented choosing an eleventh floor apartment like never before.

After she got out of the elevator, she turned around and nodded goodbye to Mrs. Twarda. Her neighbour ignored her.


---


A few days later, Aniela was struggling to close the steel lattices over the store’s windows. Above her head, the neon sign announced CHARMS! POTIONS! SPELLS! in fluorescent cyan. On clear evenings she could see it from her balcony.

Before she bought it, the corrugated-metal-and-plywood shack had been a Vietnamese take-out restaurant, a bakery, and an all-night booze store – all the important neighbourhood fixtures. A month after opening, Aniela still had to use incenses to mask undesirable smells. Thankfully, so far nobody had complained. And either way, it added to the ambience, if the Internet was telling the truth.

Aniela had spent weeks perusing the profile pages and websites of the top rated witches and wizards. She scanned their comment sections and online guest books alongside the classy photo galleries, searching for clues about what customers like. Eventually, she had settled for a “quaint, homemade feeling” – handmade labels, bunches of herbs hanging from the ceiling to dry. She knew it wouldn’t be an automatic hit – some reviewers preferred cleaner, minimalistic styles – but it was in her price range, which was a definite plus.

Having succeeded with the lattices, Aniela started searching for the key for the rusted padlock. Besides the distant noises from the street and the small sounds the rain made against the windows, the ending was quiet.

The silence made the buzzing of magic all the more apparent.

Aniela was suddenly reminded of a game she played as a child. One person, pretending to be a devil, closes their eyes, and the others try to approach them. When the devil opens their eyes, you have to freeze. If you move and the devil sees, you lose.

“I like your neon,” said Mrs. Twarda.

Aniela turned around and grinned.

“I wanted something visible from outer space, but it was out of my price range. What brings you here? I just closed, but I could open up real quick if it’s important.”

“I have everything I need at home, thank you. I was just curious about how you’re getting along.” Mrs. Twarda reached into her handbag and pulled out an umbrella. It was brightly coloured, like her clothes.

Aniela swallowed.

“Thank you for your concern, but—“

“Let me finish.” The older woman wagged her finger, like she would at a naughty child. “I’ve looked you up online. You’ve put a lot of effort into your profile, but you won’t find much success around here. Unless you allow me to help you.”

If Aniela wasn’t wearing gloves and a thick coat, she would’ve pinched herself.

“You’d like to work with me?” She blurted out. Mrs. Twarda wagged her finger again.

“Not at all. But I could give you advice, and if you agree to keep your business away from mine, I can recommend your wares to my clients. Not often enough that I go penniless, of course.”

Aniela swallowed again and nodded.

“That… that’s all right. Thank you,” she said.

“Then we’ve got a deal. I’m glad we’ve had this conversation.” Mrs. Twarda’s thin lips curled into a smile. “I’ll visit your shop when it’s open sometime this week.”

After saying that, she turned around and walked away, allowing the mist to swallow her.

It took Aniela a moment to remember where she was and that she still had to close the door to her store. Her hands shook as she turned the key in the padlock.

At the very least, this should improve the reviews of her store.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003


User Reviews - Ghostview Plus
853 words
____

8 Reviews - 2.5 stars average

Useless
Two Stars **
User: ImABelieverYeahYeah

This app is rubbish! It failed to find a single anomalous phenomenon in my attic. I know for a fact that the guy who owned it before me hung himself there - that’s why the place was so cheap!

Avoid this app. I have had much better success with dowsing rods and ouija.
____


Great Outcome!
Five Stars *****
User: teengoth99

When Lyra batted her eyes at me I bought this app with Mum’s credit card. I’m only supposed to use it for emergencies, but there was something about the way the clumps of mascara tangled her lashes that made me do it anyway.

I followed her around for an hour, pointing my phone at the graves she found interesting or sad. When we got to the little graves in the corner Lyra thought she heard crying through the static in the headphones. She listened for a while and a tear welled in the corner of her eye. I watched it roll down her cheek, becoming slow and syrupy with foundation as it travelled. Then she let me kiss her for a while, it was great.
____


DEBUNKED
Zero stars **UI error please rate app from 1-5 stars**
User: THA*DEBUNKER

I kicked the app across to my linux box and decrypted the traffic. After some freaky tech bugs I traced the IP to some backwater in Haiti. I hadn’t seen that server before, but it’s probably another dodgy tax haven to route the ad revenue through or something. One thing I can say for certain: this app is nothing but a blurry video filter and a connection to an adserver. BOOM.

Another lovely app DEBUNKED by THA*DEBUNKER.
____


A SICK JOKE
One Star *
User: kelleydavis12

Whoever made this, I want you to know you are scum. Nothing you made her say proved anything - it was all freely available in the papers - but the way you twisted it was so hurtful. It wasn’t my fault. They all know it wasn’t my fault.

I don’t know whether the app does this automatically, or whether you got my info and dug for information, but you need to stop it now before you hurt anyone else.
____


Better as an insect trap
Three Stars ***
User: Brochacho69

We got buzzed and parked outside the Sigma Phi Epsilon party to watch girls through the app. It didn’t do much until we saw this crazy double image of one of sisters, this little nerdy freshman who was leaving with one of my buddies, probably to hook up in the park or something.

After that things got weird. There was no moon that night, and hundreds of moths came into the car, even when we turned off the interior lights. They landed, one by one, on the screen of the phone and just sat there until the whole thing was covered and I couldn’t see the girl anymore.

I had to sort of scrape them off with my hand, and my fingers got covered in silver-grey dust from their wings. iPhone still works fine.
____


Minimally distracting
2 Stars **
User: Randall_Smithers_III

I was extremely disappointed with your app. I didn’t expect to see actual ghosts, heavens no, but as a connoisseur of the phenomenal I thought I might at least have a chuckle at the visuals. I enjoy a little tomfoolery as much as the next fellow.

It did nothing. I was going to delete it, rate you zero stars, and request a refund, however it redeemed itself slightly when I accidentally clicked on one of the ads (I must say it’s in rather poor taste that you only seem to advertise for funerary services).

It took me to the defunct website for a local undertaker, who was shut-down unceremoniously in 1999. It seemed to be hosted on Geocities, a service that I understood had been discontinued by Yahoo. It was all very curious. I searched the web further, and the circumstances around the closure of that establishment were very grisly indeed! And to think that he was responsible for the interment of my poor Grandmother!

I am not sure whether you consider that to be a bug or a feature, but it was diverting enough to earn you a coveted second star in this review.

Sincerest Regards,

Randall Smithers III
____


It’s not nice to lie, honey
Five Stars *****
User: kelleysmom

You know what you did to me.
____


Killed 2 iPhones
One Star *
User: KittyKat27

A friend told me about this and I thought it might help me find Dad. It just bricked my iPhone, so my stepmom bought me another one and tried again. Same thing. The guy in the shop said he couldn’t find anything wrong with them. Wouldn’t buy them off me though.

My stepmom bought me a third one, but I’m not going to risk it again! She’s been so nice since he left, I’m lucky to have her.
____

23/11/2015 Note: This app has been removed from the app store due to user complaints.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Galen, Free Version
(Word count 1038)

Yellow screamed at the listless teenager. “Move your rear end, dipshit. These boulders ain’t gonna lift themselves.”

Phlegm plodded up to the stones and shrugged. “Whatever.”

Together, the boys managed to dislodge the rocks that blocked the narrow path to Gall Point.

“Ready to tell me what we’re doing here and why I should care?” asked Phlegm.

Yellow flashed a grin. “Old Lady Gall’s got an open wifi network. The old bat is too demented to password protect it.”

Phlegm looked at his feet. “Downloading more porno to your phone? Isn’t that why your dad changed your home wifi password on you?”

“Not porno, ya stupid fairy. I need a wifi connection to download my brother’s app. I’m locked out of my home network, and lord knows your po’ white trash family isn’t running wifi. That leaves Old Lady Gall’s place.”

They came upon a stately brick and white pillar home. A woman sat on a porch swing, fussing over curlers embedded in her grey hair. The teenaged boys ducked unnoticed around the house’s perimeter. Yellow reached for his phone.

Connected Wifi Network: GrandmasWifi.

“What’s so special about Black’s app anyway?” asked Phlegm.

Downloading: Galen , Free Version

“Black may be a nihilistic douche nozzle, but he knows his way around app development. I talked to Big Red while they were still together. She says this Galen program will be revolutionary. Some kind of connection to the secrets of the universe; it’s a peak into another dimension.”

Installing

Phlegm squatted against the brick wall and yawned. “I don’t see what we’d wanna learn from a prick like Black.”

Yellow’s phone played a notification—the sound of a belch. The boy slid his thumb across the screen and mashed the Galen icon. The phone lit up. BALANCING HUMORS

Yellow looked away from the screen, hoping to get a rise out of his friend.

“Phlegm?” Where the indifferent boy had sat been, only brick and grass remained.

The phone burped again. PLEGM DRAINED

Yellow’s eyes widened. He looked around but saw no sign of Phlegm. Returning his gaze to the screen, he mashed the Galen icon yet again.

You are using the Free Version of Galen. To unlock additional features, please upgrade to Premium.

“The gently caress is this bullshit?”

**

“I didn’t know who else to go to. I know you and Black were close.”

When Yellow first greeted her, Big Red had looked sanguine as ever. Beaming smile, curly red hair, an auburn sweater fitting her full figure. But when he told her about the Galen app and Phlegm’s disappearance, she rested her face in her hands and shook her head.

“I mean, he’ll surely know how to find Phlegm. I don’t doubt that he has a full grasp of his program. It’s just that…he’s changed, Yellow. It’s hard to love someone when they’re going through these kinds of episodes.” She let out a tear.

“He’s gotten worse?”

“Developed his ideas too far. Became untethered from reality.” Big Red sighed. “I’ll tell you where to find Black, but I can’t promise that he’ll help you.”

**

He found him in a hostel amidst the Pineal Slums. The place was dimly lit, but the filth was apparent. The walls were lined with math problems and mold, the former written in brown chalk. The floors were a mess of tobacco guts. It smelled like charcoal and cottage cheese in there.

“Black? I know it’s been a while since we’ve…”

“Sit down.” Yellow’s brother sat crossed-legged on the floor. He was wearing a black beret and turtleneck. He raised a cheap cigar to his mouth.

Yellow looked around, but saw no chairs. He sat on a mound of tobacco and plastic wrap.

“I know why you’re here. You want Phlegm back.”

“Where is he?”

“Getting a taste of reality. I developed the app to test a theory. Turns out I was right.”

“Listen, Black. Tell me where Phlegm is, and I’ll leave you alone. Not trying to dick around with your theories right now.”

Black ignored him. When the silence became unbearable he said, “Nothing is actually real. It’s narrative, all of it. What we call reality is somebody’s story, and we’re just the people in it. And that goes for them too, the ones reading the story. Their lives are narrative too.” Black laughed. “I can see you haven’t puzzled this out yet. But they have. The ones watching us. It’s obvious to them where we are, and probably where Phlegm is as well.”

Yellow shifted his weight. “Can we just cut the bullshit?”

Black threw is cigar on the floor, and grimaced at Yellow. “We’re in a body, you dumb gently caress. Everything that we perceive as ‘town’ or ‘people’ corresponds to a part of the body. The important people in your life, me, Big Red, Phlegm, we’re humors. Our names and personalities match the theories of Galen.”

Yellow raised an eyebrow. “You expect me to believe that we’re in a body? Whose body?”

“I can’t tell you. He’ll get mad. Punish us. You don’t understand, he’s judging us all and he’s gonna hate this. What we’re doing right now. This breaking the fourth wall stuff is exactly the kind of thing he’d find hipsterish and asinine. We’re hosed.”

“I really don’t need this,” said Yellow. “I’ll find Phlegm on my own.” He stood up.

Black stood as well. “But you haven’t asked me about the premium edition. You want to go where Phlegm went, you have to upgrade to premium.” Black reached into his pocket. “Here. The password for my wifi, and some premium login credentials.”

Yellow connected and upgraded the app. His phone emitted the belch notification. Yellow mashed the icon.

DRAINING YELLOW BILE

**

"Thanks for coming in on such short notice, Brian. You sound less nasally today. I take it the allergy meds worked?"

“Yeah.”

"Good, good. Ehh, anyway the reason I called you in was to discuss the results from those tests we ran. We aren’t sure why, but your yellow bile count is high. Very high."

“Great, just what I need right now.”

"We’re gonna do some further testing, but for now, we should really clean out your system. Please take these purgatives…"

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Self Reflection
1212 words

I was a bit mystified, the first time I married, but happy. My father, being a priest, presided over that ceremony. He didn't attend the second. And by third, he no longer accepted I existed. I too had felt negatively about them; not because of religion, but because I had known each time, at the beginning, that our shared happiness would dissipate. Guilt had weighed my happiness down.

I have spent my life, when not ruining relationships, studying words and how they relate to thoughts, how we frame the experiences of life. Yet I constantly failed to translate my knowledge into a practical tool. Every time I uttered something hateful or didn't say something kind, I would analysis it but too long after to do anything about it. It did, however, often help with my work. Respected at work; hated at home. Both justified responses. I often pondered over the symmetry of moments in our lives; these similarities didn't upset me. I could see how the banality such a simple pattern suggested, each moment a regurgitated memory, might cause despair. But in me it instilled hope; I could stop repeating mistakes or missing opportunities if only I could model my past so as to aid myself now. And that is exactly what I did.


One day, I was putting my boots on, and my wife called from the bedroom, “Can you take the rubbish out, please?” I had already seen the black bag; it blocked my only exit. “Of course! I'm not stupid!” I would have said, but my phone buzzed before I could:

Calm down, Nick. Just say yes. Pleasantly. Like you did last time!

And so I did. I left the house wondering why I had been so angry. Had I really thought my wife considered me stupid? Of course not, just old self doubt creeping about. I smiled. An argument missed, and my program was working.


Frequently the program, my old self, helped me. Those instants when flailing emotions could have caused untold misery were filled with a logical dialogue born from my previous experiences. One dark evening on a wet November day, I waited for Tracy, my wife, to return from work. She often finished late. She was a child counselor, which I was immensely proud of, and her responsibilities didn't respect time. It drained her, but she felt the need to help people. And who deserved help more than children, she would ask. Before she returned, my phone buzzed:

Tell Tracy you are proud of her. There is no record that you have, but it is clear that you are.

My eyes widened at this. What a coincidence that I was just thinking about that! The front door creaked open, and I went to meet her.

“I'm proud of you, Tracy,” I said. “Really proud.”

She looked baffled, but with a sparkle in her eye.

“I just wanted you to know,” I said.

“I already knew, silly,” she said. “But it is nice to hear you say it.”

She came towards me, stopping just in front of me.

“I'd hug you, but I'm awfully wet.”

I told her I didn't mind, and we held each other for as long as it felt right. It did so for a long time.


Soon I grew dependent on the program. What it had done was simple; it forced me to think before I spoke, a lesson I should have already learned, and to have the courage to say pleasant things without fear of them being scorned. It rarely interfered at work; it had the ability to measure emotional stakes. Or maybe I just found it easier to be kind to people I cared less for. What does it matter if a stranger thinks I'm a clown? If ever I suspected my wife thought so, rage would have filled me. But that was before the program.


One Sunday, we sat sipping coffee and perusing newspapers. My phone buzzed:

Tell her you wished you had been kinder before.

Before I could let her know, she spoke. “You get a lot of messages these days. Who could possibly need you now?”

I looked at my phone. It wasn't going to help me now; I had never experienced the suspicious spouse. I felt anger rising, but fear overwhelmed it. What would I do without the program? I had never expected this.

“Work,” I said.

“I know why you've been so nice recently,” she said. “You're full of guilt.”

How right her words were, but how wrong she was! She demanded to see the phone. Guilt and fear outweighed my anger and indignation. I knew she wouldn't like the program, but what choice did I have? I passed her the phone and she scrolled through the messages. She quickly understood what it was.

“It's all been fake?”

I tried to explain that it was real, that it was myself. I told her about symmetries in moments and using the past to aid the future, but my words were muddled; I just confused her.

“An affair would have been easier, at least that would have been real,” she said.

“But it is me!”

“If it is you, stop using this program.”

I agreed not to use it. But I was already thinking how I could use it without her knowing; I knew without it I would just make things worse.


Before long I felt the decline again; we were more distant than even before the program. I thought away the anger and trusted my positive remarks but every time I said the right thing, she suspected it wasn't me. And how could I blame her? Things got so desperate that she shouted at me, demanding to see my anger, something real. And so I did. I was failing again. I needed to use the program. I asked it a question I should have asked long ago: “How can I make her happy?”

Leave.

The solitary word focused my confusion into a calming clarity. It was right, so I resolved to leave. If I needed a program, or a phantom of my past, to be kind to her, I did not deserve her. I packed a few things and waited for her to return.

She came home late that night. Her eyes were barely open, and the darkness under her eyes almost made weep. She looked so heavy, as if gravity worked twice as hard on her. I told her I was going. She fell to the floor and began to cry unbridled tears. In between sobs, she begged me to stay. She said she would be kinder to me. That she would even use my woeful program. I didn’t know what to do, what to say. As she knelt on the floor with her face in her hands, my phone vibrated. It asked me a question:

If you stay, will you be happy?

I knew the answer. I picked her up from the floor, and we hugged. And I stressed that I had to leave, for both of us. We kissed, and I left. The heaviness I had grown used to left me. I was alone, as I was meant to be. I closed the door and wondered if the weight had left her too.

Lazy Beggar fucked around with this message at Nov 23, 2015 around 02:07

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Just Checking In
Words: 1209

Since the passing of his grandmother a year prior, Jim’s accomplishments left him wanting. His app, GranGrams, had been met with resounding fanfare and presence. Built from his own personal experiences, GranGrams became the human interest piece of the year. The concept simple: periodic pre-recorded, superbly acted inspirational messages from a bevy of grandmothers based on preferences chosen by the user.

“I don’t know of a single person who wouldn’t want to always be able to hear words of encouragement from their grandmother,” Jim had said to a HuffPo reporter some months ago. And while he wasn’t lying, he was only thinking of himself at the time. He had even considered putting choice phrases and finding a lookalike for his own late grandmother but felt it obscene.

The GranGrams office was unusually quiet, but unsurprisingly in the week leading up to Thanksgiving holiday.

“Hey man, I just wanted to say, I know you are going to be on your own this year, but if you feel up to it, Teresa would love to have you over for Thanksgiving,” Mark, his friend and partner, said.

“Oh thanks man, but you know me, I’ll probably just keep tweaking the ads algorithms.”

“Click-thru rate can wait, come over on Thursday.”

“No promises, but I’ll see what I can get done tomorrow, yeah?”

“At least get some sleep for once, all right?”

Jim smiled and nodded. He waved on his way out and soon the office was completely empty. Jim sat back, turning his phone over in his hand. They were making money, but if he could boost the conversion rate organically then they wouldn’t have to compromise and put more ads; the idea was to be inspired, not marketed to. The office was too empty; he wasn’t going to get anything done tonight.

His phone buzzed, a Gram. “We’re all cheering for you,” it said. He smiled, Janine in marketing had written that one. He remembered visiting a senior living community to record the lines from a lady who had acted in the 60s. The memory was so fresh he didn’t even bother to check the video.


He was startled when the phone buzzed sometime in the early morning hours, but not entirely surprised. Probably IT calling about something.

It was a Gram. “I haven’t heard from you in a while.”

Jim was confused and groggy. That’s an odd message, he thought. Maybe marketing thought it would inspire action. He would take care of things after the holidays.

An hour later, still before 4am, the phone buzzed again. “You didn’t do enough.”

Jim shot up in bed. He had never fired an intern, but secretly he had always wanted to. He flicked the phone to bring up the recorded video message and he froze. A woman, emaciated and in hospital whites; his grandmother.

He threw the phone and rushed into his bathroom. Desperate to not throw up, he cranked the cold water on. With both hands he doused his flushed face with icy water, and he felt his skin cool. He had to collect himself, this was crazy.

He went back and rooted for his phone. He checked the phone, but now there was no message, no video, nothing. There was nothing in the history since the office. He wanted to cry from stress and relief. The nightmares had never been this vivid or awful before. He slipped back under the covers.

His phone buzzed again right as he began to fall asleep. “Why did you leave me?”

Jim tore through the database. He could hear his phone buzzing in his desk drawer; the Grams had been coming in more and more frequently. His despair had turned to rage. He was going to find out who was loving with him, and he hadn’t figured out what he was going to do when he found out, but he was going to do something.

Mike crashed through the office.

“Jim what the hell is going on, I’ve been trying to call you.”

“Something’s hosed up, I gotta fix it,” he said.

“But you can’t just shut down the database, we’re getting error messages all over the place!”

“I didn’t shut off the database, I just blocked all the incoming connections,” Jim said.

“If nothing’s going out, that means ads aren’t going out. If ads aren’t going out that means money isn’t coming in, loving fix it,” Mike shouted. “I know you don’t give a poo poo about revenues, but you got a lot of other people who are counting on you to loving give a poo poo about it!”
Jim shook out of his tunnel vision. “Yeah, yeah, you’re right, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’ll fix it.”

Mike left after confirming the app was functioning again. Jim waited patiently as he mirrored the database and the code on a portable drive so he could figure out what happened. Something stuck out in his mind though, how was Mike here so fast, he wondered.

Jim had skipped Thanksgiving dinner with Mike and his wife, he had been looking for the outgoing connections to his phone from the database. He had stopped coming into the office. Nothing made sense. He had sequestered his phone long ago; the messages from his dead grandmother hadn’t stopped, they had gotten mean.

“You abandoned me.”

“You only care about yourself.”

“I’m so alone in this place.”

Jim knew who was sending these, but he couldn’t prove it. Mike was trying to undermine his sanity, get him to break. If Mike could get a controlling share of the company, he could change the revenue model, and poison the entire product. Mike would pervert every message in the name of capitalism, and Jim had to stop him.

Jim had given up on figuring out how Mike was doing this, with an actor, or a new database, he had to figure out how to stop him. The messages became brutal and he was losing his ability to ignore them. Each buzz and he would flinch, he desperately wanted to know what was there, but each one would cut as the guilt continued to burn inside him.

His phone buzzed again in his desk drawer. He fought the urge to flagellate himself but froze when he heard the video on the app start to play. The familiar sound of a ventilator echoed in his ears as though it wasn’t in the drawer. He wrenched it open and stared at the simulacrum as it wheezed.

“You know what to do.”

Jim knew what happened next. He had been there in that room with his grandmother. He started to giggle which turned into a deep laugh. His grandmother was right, he did know what he had to do. He got into the car and drove to Mike’s house, tears clouding his eyes.

He ran up the steps of the townhouse and banged on the door. His nose dripping with snot and tears.

Mike opened the door wide. “Jesus Christ, Jim, what’s going on?”

Jim grabbed Mike’s sweater and buried his face into his chest.

“I want out, just let me go out, anything,” Jim said. Mike patted Jim on the back and led him inside.

“It’s okay, it’s okay. Let’s just talk about your options.”

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

What I'm Looking For
(1,030 words)

The wood chips below the swing set still held the rain of two days previous. When Ethan dragged his foot across them, brown fibers clung to his loafer. The swing, intended for children, held his twenty-five-year-old butt with resentment, but he tuned out the hard press of rubber against his hips and swayed back and forth, side to side, in the corner of an empty playground.

A woman left the sidewalk nearby to approach the swings and him. Her canary shirt and white jeans were so bright against the grass that Ethan had to watch her. She smiled quickly and then stared down at the ground, and he kicked the dirt to start swinging so his presence would seem less pathetic.

"Oh! Excuse me!"

The woman darted around him and knelt to his left, scrabbling at the chips. He dropped his foot and stuttered to a stop. Something glinted in all the brown; she plucked it out, held it up. "Is this yours?"

Ethan considered the golden charm, shaped like an anchor and set with tiny rhinestones. "It's not my style."

Her grin was as bright as the crystals. "Wouldn't think so. Could you hold on to it for a second?" He offered his palm by reflex, and she gave him the charm, then pulled her phone from her back pocket and swished her thumb around on the screen. "Nobody's put out an alert for it. Figures; I would have seen it before if they had." With light jabs she typed something into the device. "Have you noticed a stuffed dog around here?"

"'Fraid not."

"Some kid's lost hers, and she lives in this neighborhood."

"What exactly are you doing?" Ethan asked.

"Hunting for treasure." The woman tilted her phone so he could see the screen, on which a small box read, Found at the playground on Vervain Rd., a piece of jewelry. Send a description to FSImogen23--the last word was a link. A flick of her thumb brought up a list of messages: Lost, a steel ballpoint pen. Lost, another goddamn golf ball. Lost: My mother's ugly brown and purple sweater. Help!!!

"Have you seen this app before?" she asked. "Finders, Seekers?"

"Nope," he said, holding the little anchor out to her.

She pocketed it. "FS is my hobby. I look for lost things, and you'd be shocked how much I find, like this, that somebody has to be missing, even if it's brass and glass."

Ethan said, "Or plush and stuffing."

"Poor kid. You bet she's missing that."

"Can I help you look?" He stood up, and so did presumably-Imogen, and the crown of her red-gold hair came to just below his shoulder. She gave him a slightly crooked smile. When he dug an unpleasantly damp grey dog out from under a bush, he got the real grin again, and then she tugged him along the street of his neighborhood to a house he knew vaguely by sight. The man who answered the door was a stranger. So was the little girl who came to grab and hug her toy, yet Ethan felt his own mouth curve up for the first time in a week.

He followed Imogen along two more miles of residential road, prodding at leaf piles and prying beads and pins from cracks in the sidewalk. Smiling often. Laughing, when she dug up bizarre FS alerts to show him. He read them aloud in silly voices until she punched his arm.

"Give me your phone?" Imogen asked when they stood by her car. She tapped industriously after he passed it over; she handed it back with Finders, Seekers installed. "I think you're someone else who needs a hobby."

It was clear to him very soon that he was someone who needed Imogen.

He contacted FSImogen23 to ask her out on a second hunting trip; they sang U2 songs off key. After their third afternoon together, she brought him to her home and showed him her shelf of treasures with owners yet unknown. "Someday I'll find them," she said. Ethan kissed her then. And somehow her shelf became their shelf, his finds joining her finds, though they spent fewer hours searching the streets than they did discovering each other.

The e-mail from a recruiter several states west came as a surprise. It promised him the sort of job he'd wanted to have after college, until graduation into a crap economy had dragged his expectations down. A decent salary, opportunities to advance. The Ethan who'd sat brooding on a swing set would have fallen on his knees and sung the Hallelujah Chorus.

The Ethan who'd found Imogen--

"I need to. I have to. Look at what they're offering."

"You ought to go." Her voice was too soft, too distant already. "I'm not trying to stop you."

"Would you...."

"Uproot my whole life? Is there a reason I should?"

Ethan had no answer. He drove his U-Haul to Colorado with an empty passenger's seat.

A box arrived at his new apartment, Imogen's handwriting on the address label. He tore it open and upended a green army man, a small silver ring, a picture frame, a compact mirror, a pool ball, and a rhinestone-studded charm shaped like an anchor onto his couch: half of the objects they'd found together. Keep searching, her letter said.

But hunting in a new town led to loneliness, not treasure. His own footsteps were all he had to listen to. The anchor charm lived in his pocket even at work, where he swayed back and forth, side to side, in his office chair. At home he skimmed over FS messages looking not for an object, but for a name.

Night after night, Ethan stared at the bedroom ceiling and thought about what he no longer possessed.

He rolled out of bed. Flipped on the light. On an index card, he drew a heart in red. He fed a picture of it into Finders, Seekers, typing with thumbs that were somehow steady:

Lost my heart. If found, please never return it.

Within half an hour his phone rang with a few bars from U2, and Ethan found his smile again.

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

HELP! I'VE FAILED AND I CAN'T SUBMIT


Grimey Drawer

Bitten
146 words

The app launched five years ago, yet not a single relationship formed through it had failed. Even my sister, with all her neuroses, had found true love with a guy in Iraq. I couldn’t say I wasn’t curious, but my husband and I promised we wouldn’t use it.

My ex’s match, was me.

Without raising my head, I said, “Maybe we are soulmates.” When I looked up, I explored his shining blue eyes. They weren’t new, but I explored. Even his too-big smile fit well, like happiness was holding the rest of his face hostage.

“I’m glad,” he began.

“But,” I interrupted, “my husband and I are in love, and it didn’t take an app to tell us.” I didn’t slam the door, but closed it normally, softly. Only after I turned the lock and heard it click, could I put myself back into my life.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


Ex

There was a meaty slam as the body folded under the bumper, then a thump-thumping of limbs against the undercarriage. Evan backed up and drove over Marlow again and again, until there wasn’t much more than a meat-and-bone paste on the pavement. Evan had a one-way ticket to Rio booked in Marlow’s name, and a flurry of SMS messages from his stolen phone about a woman. One man goes missing, and a John Doe pancake turns up in the city morgue – no connection officer, honest!

That was a week ago. Poor dumb Marlow, too smart for his own good: checked through Evan’s bookkeeping, found the numbers that didn’t fit. ARK Industries: ARGs R Us. Grey-haired boomer CEOs ate that poo poo up and threw millions at them to make cheapshit phone adventures. It was too much money to keep track of, so who cared if some went missing here and there? Most of Evan’s personal fund was digital, but there was the strongbox containing a cool million buried in his backyard.

Marlow had noticed the irregularities, which had become a problem. Embezzlement was such an ugly word. Skinny manchildren with scraggly dark hair didn’t last long in prison.

Evan hated everything about Pleasant Pete’s Pirate Search except watching the microtransaction dollars roll in. It was Evan’s horrible, profitable baby. Stealing from investors wasn’t like stealing from real people, anyway – it was like skimming chips off a high-rolling poker addict.

To distract himself from memories of scrubbing Marlow’s guts off the underside of the car, Evan checked and double checked the numbers. Pleasant Pete had a doozy of a weekend deal for users: if the community spent at least $500,000 on in-game products before midnight on Sunday, they’d get an extra clue about the buried treasure! Marlow (one of those hippie-dippy wiccan freaks who infested every tech startup) once told him he wrote spells into the code to make people go ga-ga over it. Cast shield vs BMW. Critical Failure!

His phone buzzed, and there was the too-familiar pirate hat icon in his notifications tab. Evan frowned. He’d never installed Pleasant Pete’s Pirate Search; once you see how chicken nuggets get made, you lose your appetite for the things. He swiped down anyway, because he hated leaving notifications unchecked.

“Ahoy me hearties!” said Pete the Pirate, “this week there’s an extra special surprise buried six-feet deep. Only the eagle-eyed will spot our next clue!” Evan frowned. He hadn’t okayed a double-promotion. Pete’s animation looked off – cheaper, more angular, dirtier. He looked ugly, but not in the way marketing intended.

A painting of pirate ships by some Dutch master appeared. Evan closed the app, but it buzzed against immediately: The community had already found a hidden URL in the reflections in the water: pigfucker.com. Surely nobody on staff had vetoed that one? Little kids played, for gently caress’s sake. Pete grinned his lopsided pirate grin. He flickered, and for an instant his genial smile peeled back in a grimace of rage.

“Evan Holmes has a secret,” said Pete, “and this week we’re going to dig it up! Solve the next puzzle for another clue! Yohoho and a bottle of fun!”

Jesus loving Christ. Had Marlow slipped it in before he met his rendezvous with the blacktop? How did he even know about the buried strongbox? Evan set his out-of-office message and sprinted for the parking garage, where his Jag was parked next to an empty space. Minutes later, he was sitting at a stoplight, trying to follow the community’s progress on the treasure hunt.

Pirate Pete beamed up at him from the app screen. “Well blow me down!” he said, “you’ve almost found the treasure! I’ve got one last puzzle for you, me hearties!”

The light turned green and Evan squealed through the intersection. “Goddammit,” he growled. “Goddamn mindless headless bullshit internet.”

The Pleasant Pete community would crack anything the app threw at them. Marlow seemed to be counting on it; some wizard prescience to gently caress Evan from beyond the grave.

Evan glanced at the app again, one hand on the wheel. A string of nonsense scrolled across the screen – random letters and numbers. They looked familiar, but Evan couldn’t put his finger on it. They looked like randomly generated passwords, or the end-strings of URLs, or –

He was home. He ran to his laptop, went to pigfucker.com and threw the nonsense down after a forward-slash. Welcome, Evan! A scrolling marquee appeared at the top of the page. Marlow grinned at him, wearing a jaunty pirate hat, his lilting singsong voice looping for eternity. “Yohoho pigfucker,” he said, “it’s all over for you.”

Evan leaned back in his computer chair. Was that it? A prank? He tabbed over to check the community’s reaction. One word caught his eye: geohashing – hiding coordinates inside a URL. The nonsense phrases led to a location. His guts went ice-cold. He worked out the co-ords, then punched them into a GPS app and sure enough, it turned up right on top of his property. Local mouthbreathers would already be en-route with shovels to collect their booty.

“gently caress no,” he growled, and went to the garage for his shovel. “You watching me right now, Marlow?” he said. “Your dead rear end is dead for a reason.”

It’d been idiotic to keep it so close to home, really. What could they do, though? He’d tell them they made a mistake and send them on their way. Marlow’s last act had been for nothing. Typical hippie weakass bullshit. His phone buzzed in his pocket and – another phone? No, impossible. He only had one phone and Marlow’s –

He’d been more or less cautious with Marlow’s phone. He’d bricked the thing, then taken out the battery for good measure. He’d been intending to give it to an electronics recycling plant, but with Marlow on his posthumous trip to Rio, there didn’t seem much hurry.

The screen was on, and there was the Pirate Pete logo in the notifications tab. Evan’s own phone was still buzzing in his pocket. He pulled it out, and there was that goddamned pirate icon. Both phones opened the Pleasant Pete app of their own accord, but rather than Pete’s piratey face, there was a choppy video featuring the inside of Marlow’s BMW, and the back of Evan’s head; speeding down the freeway; pulling into his garage; cleaning gore off the bottom of the car. It’d taken him all night: first getting the big chunks out, then scrubbing off the blood, then bleaching the rest of Marlow away. The angle of the video was unmistakably from Marlow’s phone, which Evan had tossed in the back seat. He’d most certainly shut it off first.

Texts and calls streamed in from the office, from the investors. What the hell is this? they wanted to know. Some were tentatively excited. The video had gone viral as hell, but why had Evan led the community right to his house?

Before Evan could compose a reply, or run, or call his lawyer, somebody knocked on the front door. Then, somebody knocked on the back door. People jostled to peer through the gaps in the curtains.

The internet had arrived, and they wanted their booty.


---

Co-written with SittingHere. 1211 words.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

SLapp

by Claven666

Word Count: 1212


“So, what's it called again?”

Willard caught his best friend and business partner Kelsey's wry look and rolled his eyes at her. The corporate rodent in charge of this jumped-up software sweatshop hadn't even turned to face them as he cunningly revealed he didn't know the name of the app his analysts had advised him to buy. After a moment of silence, the bombastic wing-backed behemoth keeping his narrow rear end off the ground slowly swiveled around. When he put his glittering little rat's eyes on Kelsey and tried to look serious even as he was dwarfed by the sweeping leather pinions arching over his shoulders, she couldn't help but burst into great guffaws. “It's called SLapp, Mr. Cudgins,” broke in Willard as Kelsey got herself under control.

“What's with her?” asked Cudgins, pointing his thumb in Kelsey's direction.

“She's simply overjoyed about all of the profit we will make with this venture.”

Cudgins frowned. “I am given to understand that SLapp stands for--” Cudgins dropped his gaze to the executive abstract sheet in front of him. “--Sybernetic Lash app. With a goddam 's'.”

Willard blinked and looked at Kelsey again, who nodded solemnly. “The form you signed at our previous meeting mandates installation of our software,” he said in a flat tone. He focused his thoughts on his installed apps folder and willed SLapp to open.

Cudgins suddenly grinned and shook his head, fixing each of them in turn with his beady stare. “That's the worst loving name I've ever heard for a project.”

“Why don't you glance back down at that sheet of paper, read the estimated ROI, and put our software in your head like we told you to,” said Kelsey in a voice as dry as champagne, “or we leave and you watch your closest competitor spank your earnings projections for the foreseeable future. I didn't spend five years coding SLapp with loving Willard as my only company just to come in here and listen to some spoiled chihuahua bark and poo poo himself.”

There was a tense pause. “I like her,” Cudgins finally said to Willard; then, to Kelsey, “Thanks for showing a little fight!” The room fell silent while Cudgins requested their app from the neural network, learned it, and thought about his profile. “Ok, I'm ready.”

“Just a short time ago, you seemed nonplussed by how we choose to spell the name of our product. More specifically, you called us 'morons'.” Willard brought SLapp back foremost in his thoughts and found Cudgins' profile. “Well, in the words of the immortal Samuel L. Jackson: 'Allow me to retort'.” Cudgins abruptly let out a yell and snapped his head to the left. “Please be advised that you've just been SLapped, Mr. Cudgins.”

The afflicted man rubbed his reddening cheek with bony but surprisingly hairy fingers. “You made me think some prick just hit me in the face?”

“Yes. But before I did that, I had to sit through a thirty second advertisement for a pizza place of which I am quite fond. I am now craving said pizza and will likely feel compelled to order one in the near future.”

“He also gave himself a dollar for the privilege,” gushed Kelsey with a wide, excited grin. “You get money each time an advertiser makes an impression while a custy queues up a SLapp for some rear end in a top hat.”

“In addition, we charge partners a monthly subscription fee to--” Willard lost his train of thought with a gasp as a sharp blow to the jaw nearly threw him from his chair. Cudgins' SLapp had rocked him in a way he he'd never been rocked before, and he glowered as Kelsey and Cudgins laughed. “You do realize you just paid me one thousand dollars for that, correct?”

Kelsey wiped tears from her eyes. “You know what? I like you too, Cudgins. How'd that platinum package suit your needs?”

Cudgins smiled once more, a predatory curling of the lips that spoke of hunting cat rather than quivering rat. “Before we start making the market our bitch, we gotta do something about that stupid name.” He paused for a moment, looking out once more across the vast tangle of streets and buildings. “We're gonna call it Synaptic Lash app. No arguments.”

Willard and Kelsey exchanged yet another surprised glance and firmly reevaluated their first impressions of Cudgins. Then they commenced two equally ridiculous but equally silent touch down dances. Soon, everything would be all right.

#

Kelsey uncorked her third prosecco with a loud pop. Willard sipped his customary entire bottle of pinot noir in a giant glass while Cudgins layed the needle down on Herbie Hancock's Secrets album and grabbed a liter of Powers off the bar. The Annual Shareholders Meeting had commenced.

“SLapp immunity alone made us over 600 million last year!” crowed Kelsey. “You are loving brilliant, Jack Cudgins!” The squirrely little man toasted her and grooved to the music.

“I spoke at MIT last week,” said Willard. “It was quite dull, but--”

“Hold on, guys,” interrupted Cudgins. “Someone's calling.”

Kelsey's blood turned to ice when she saw the expression that slowly suffused his face. “What is it?” she whispered.

“A plane just went down.” Cudgins' voice was stunned. “Someone killed the pilot with a SLapp.” He went over to his window and began pacing anxiously.

“That's loving impossible!” Kelsey grabbed Willard's flabby bicep. “Tell me you fixed it!”

Willard looked into her eyes for a moment, then dropped his gaze to the floor. “Pilots are forbidden by law to have SLapp installed.”

Cudgins stopped in mid-pace. The look in his eyes was of such utter loathing that Willard recoiled from him. “One hundred dead souls and all you can think to do is make excuses.” He blinked, and the printer started spitting out e-mails. “Make excuses to these people.”

“What are we going to do?” Kelsey's voice had dried up into a little squeak.

“We're all guilty of criminal negligence at the very, very least.” Cudgins sighed. “I'm calling the police.”

“No.” Willard lumbered to his feet and squared off against his friend.

“Seriously?”

“If you try to force me, I will hurt you.”

“Well, guess what! They're already on their way!” replied Cudgins. Then he stepped under the expected clumsy hay-maker and sank his left fist into the bigger man's squishy gut. Willard crumpled to the floor, bawling.

“It's been a long time since I had to do that,” muttered Cudgins, “and I don't like to have done it. But his is how it has to be.”

“You two bear no fault,” sobbed Willard.

Kelsey smiled bitterly. “We know you.”

“We should have double checked,” growled Cudgins.

“That's...what you really think of me?”

“Well?” Kelsey threw open the curtains, revealing flashing lights slowly gliding down the long drive leading up to Cudgins' condo. “Look where we're at right now!”

Willard's face fell. A faucet dripped somewhere in the room, marking out the last few fleeting seconds of his freedom. “I killed that man,” he said quietly after a time.

“We all killed him,” said Kelsey gently.

“That's why we gotta go face the music together, son,” continued Cudgins.

Willard dragged a sleeve across his tear streaked cheeks. Soon, everything would be all right.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




Certified Cool
(900 words)



Craig sets out the artisanal cheese platter—chèvre and smoked Gouda, none of that cheap refrigerated poo poo. He checks the status of his party, looks to see if the social media crawlers have picked up any buzz or if any of the Maybes have become Yeses.

But no. He sits down, empties his beer, laces his fingers across his stomach. He closes his eyes. Every once in a while he opens them, checks his phone, then closes them again. Two more Maybes become Nos. The yellow smiling face in the corner of his screen turns brown, and the smile goes thin-lipped.

There is no way he’s going to be Certified now. Craig goes to the window. He looks down at the streets below, all the windows lit up. The clatter of passing freight cars and the long arterial flow of traffic. So many people with places to be.

Craig covers the cheese platter in cellophane. He dumps another tray of ice into the cooler. He goes out onto the balcony, climbs up onto the railing, and looks down for a long time. Then he pushes away, hard.

Craig is falling. Or perhaps he is floating, drifting toward the street like a smattering of music through an open window. The ground is very far away, and he has plenty of time to think.

He thinks about Raul. About the Fall Campout, senior year. About sitting on a log next to him, rubbing his hands together and staring into the bonfire until the smoke made his eyes burn. The two of them passing a joint back and forth, Craig’s heart thumping like an out-of-cycle washing machine, just to put his lips on something that Raul’s lips have been on. Always on the verge of saying something, every single cell in his body restless and volatile. Seven billion billion billion atoms in a state of excitation.

While Craig falls, Raul is frowning at his eVite. He chews his lip, takes a minute to recall who this kid is, where he knows him from. In truth, while he remembers the camp-out, he does not remember Craig. Does not connect the dots. He watches Craig’s party dying in real-time, the steady parade of Maybe and No. The poor bastard. Downstairs, Raul’s girlfriend shouts at him to hurry up, for Christ’s sake, they’re going to be late for the movie. Raul lets his thumb hover for a moment before pressing No.

Craig is still falling, slowly, slowly. The wind is pushing him along, carrying him like a current toward an adjacent building, where a roof-top party is in full swing. Someone leans forward and reaches out to snatch him. The people on the roof smile at him, press a champagne flute into his hand, offer him hors d'oeuvres. Young, beautiful people flit around like mayflies. There is no doubt that all of them are Certified. Craig tries to strike up conversations with them, but the words fall dead from his mouth.

The music is overpowering—hypnotic bass and droning synth that muffles everything else. There is a brief lull, punctuated by laughter like a burst of gunfire. All around him people are raising their glasses for a toast, but Craig doesn’t know what for, and so he clicks his glass against the back of a barstool, toasting nothing.

He waits for a moment when he can leave unnoticed. Then he straddles the railing and lets himself go once more, back into the calm night air.

If he could be reshaped, like clay. If he had only been a little taller, a little funnier, a little more popular. All of the things that could have fallen into the orbit of his life, and didn’t. Fears and regrets and expired hopes, trailing him like a comet’s tail. But his soul is not under construction. The lines are drawn, and now they are all converging.

On the fourth floor of Craig’s high-rise apartment block, a young woman is adjusting the focuser on her telescope. She is waiting for the Quadrantids shower. An above average event—if she is lucky, she might see forty meteors an hour at its peak. Something eclipses her view, and she looks up just in time to see Craig descending, one leg slightly bent, shirttail fluttering, drifting down like a paper bird . . .

Soon the concrete will come up to meet him and he will dissolve, become a dark halo, a rust-colored patina on the pavement. The only proof that he was ever here at all. Craig closes his eyes.

***

The elevator reaches the lobby and does its lurching curtsy. Craig checks his phone, which is ringing like a handbell. A deluge of RSVPs: Yes, Yes, Yes. He watches the smiley face in the corner turn yellow, green, gold. Friends and acquaintances are accepting his eVites faster than his phone can register them. He is Certified. Nobody in the world is more Certified than him.

Craig pauses at the top of the marble staircase. The crowd below is dressed in furs and tails. Laughing, smiling. Low, murmuring voices like a vibrating current. People are sampling his artisanal cheeses, lifting their eyebrows in surprise at the complex flavors. The live band spots Craig at the bannister and introduces him with a rattlesnake roll of the snare drum.

All heads turn as Craig descends. Everyone is there.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


840 words

by me and Fuschia Tude

When the Heart Bleeds, It Never Stops

flerp fucked around with this message at Dec 29, 2015 around 03:49

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe


Thank you!

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

wordcount: 1024

Ask an Angel

I let Susan know I was going to be late home again and my phone’s speaker exploded in a blistering array of expletives. I saw red, the angry red of the “End Call’ icon, and stabbed at it, hanging up on Susan mid-rant. My heart pounded like a prog-rock drum solo - aggro scenes always stressed me out, moreso even than her ever increasing credit card addiction. Contractors do well enough, but it’s not like champagne and caviar are on the menu every night. I took several deep breaths to calm down. This didn’t make me feel particularly calm, so I buried my head in my hands, wishing that I’d never even tapped Accept Call, that sometimes I could just ignore my cellphone entirely.

My cellphone beeped in front of me. Around me, all over the office, other phones made a bizarre collection of bings, boings and boops. I swiped down to the notification screen. Ask An Angel App Installed, it notified. “Anyone else just download a random app?” An intern, walking by my desk and staring at his phone in puzzlement, nodded, and then returned to his screen.

I tapped the notification and fired up the new app. A splash screen featuring a cuddly angel gave me a knowing wink, then vanished to reveal a simple text field with a microphone icon beside it. Beneath the field, in a soft blue font made of curves, like a child’s drawing of a cloud, were the words You Can Ask An Angel Anything.

“Ask Jeeves with a religious bent? Is this some kind of promotion?” I was talking to myself, but everyone else was too busy staring at their own phones to notice. Glad of the distraction, I swyped a question that had plagued the minds of men for millennia. “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” Words gradually appeared on the screen, accompanied by a voice that sounded like Enya eaten by an autotuner. “All of them.” I laughed out loud.

I had twitter open on my desktop, for reasons that may well have had something to do with work. #AskAnAngel was trending. iPhone users were mad as hell at Apple for trying to pull some kind of U2-like promotion once again. Android users were furious Google had paid their providers to perform some unholy Apple-like promotion. Nobody cared what windows phone users thought.

“Ask it something personal,” tweeted @AskAnAngel to #AskAnAngel

My mind wandered immediately to Susan. “Should I call Susan back?” I asked the app.

“No need,” came the mechanically mellifluous reply. “Wait for seventeen minutes and thirty seconds.”

I shrugged. Weirdly specific, but it could just be a random sentence parser. I entered the same question again, and got the same result, minus the thirty five seconds it had taken me to decide to re-type. I checked the time on my workscreen. Five thirty-two.

An email flashed up - idiot questions from the tools in Finance - and I carefully constructed a response that would only subtly let them know how idiotic they were. I was just about to click send when my smartphone buzzed and Susan’s picture flashed on the screen. My desktop clock read five forty-eight. I answered with a wary “hello’ and Susan’s apologetic tones came down through the wireless ether. She told me she'd been simmering with anger for twenty full minutes and then happened to find her credit card bill and now completely understood why I needed to put in a few more contracting hours. There would, apparently, be dinner waiting for me when I got home. She blew me a kiss down the non-existent line, reminded me she loved me and hung up. I hadn’t said anything after hello.

“Well, that was decidedly disturbing,” I said, and decided to I try a few more questions.

“Should I eat the chocolate bar in my drawer?”
Only if you want indigestion.
“Is there a God.”
There is certainly an Angel.
“Should I stay at work a few more hours”
Not past eight as dinner will be cold at nine.
“What are the winning numbers of this week’s lottery.”
4 6 26 34 36 40 powerball 9

I grabbed my coat, raced out of the building, and headed to the nearest lottery ticket seller. There was a queue fifty people long and getting longer all the time. I laughed at them, and at myself. Great minds think alike and fools never differ - they’ll make twenty each when it’s divvied up and good luck to ’em. I headed back to the office, and fired up a stock ticker website.

“Who should I buy shares in?” I asked an angel.

A list of worthy candidates scrolled across the screen. I checked the list on the site and surely enough there had been a surge of interest in them. They were noteworthy in that they were all ethical corporations, their lines were growing exponentially, caught in a feedback loop of angel investment as the more rapacious of organisations suddenly found themselves swirling down the plughole of sell, sell, sell.

On the news sites, the Right was blaming the Left, as the Left made smug soundbites. The pope blamed fanatical Islamists for misrepresentation. The mullahs blamed a wide variety of the usual suspects, Gays, the Great White Shaitan, Parisian Fashion Houses. China blamed the Dalai Lama and the Dalai Lama just smiled and poked at his Samsung S6 in amusement as he Asked Diva or whatever the localisation was.

“So what happens next?” I asked an angel.

Paradise on Earth, at long, long last.

“Paradise? But only if we do as you suggest?”

Why wouldn’t you. Ask an Angel always has the correct option.

“But, what if we just feel ornery and decide we don’t want to?”

That way lies avoidable suffering

“Does free will enter into this at all?”

You are free to decide against an Angel’s advice.

“Oh good,” I said, throwing my phone into the wastepaper basket by my desk and walking out into the brave new Utopia.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

submissions closed by IRC consensus

Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


The One-Minute Witch
1184 words

The interviewer grinned at me, his eyes probing for a sign of weakness. I matched him with my own easy stare, earned from the knowledge gained from reading interview books. I had thoroughly done my homework for this.

"Shubhra, was it?" He pronounced my name carefully. "So, I want to know what makes you tick. What drives you to get up in the morning, what motivates you in your professional career?"

I took a deep breath. There were many ways to answer the question. I had profiled the company carefully and knew what they valued. And I convinced myself that my interest aligned with their vision. At least I didn't have to lie this time.

"I want my work to matter. I want to find meaning in giving my time and skills to others."

He smiled, but half of my brain's processing power was already working on the features I needed to get done by the demo.

###

I got in the office half-past noon. I say office, as Nadia converted her apartment's living room into a working space. It was full of potted plants and jars and jars of stuff. There was a steaming kettle in the kitchen--Nadia was always making some kind of herbal tea.

I found the founder of our startup in front of her computer, looking at a spreadsheet that threatened to leap out of the screen and devour her. It made her white-maned head tiny.

"Shubhra! You couldn't have come at a better time," she said. "Mr. Ascott has agreed to meet us on Saturday. He wants a live demo of the app, along with the features he requested. Can you we make it?"

I mentally subtracted hours of sleep from the week. "Yes, Miss Nadia. I've gotten most of the videoconferencing bugs fixed, so I'm starting work on the spellbook feature this afternoon."

"That's great. Knock on my door when you need anything," Nadia said. She took her steaming cup of tea and retired to her bedroom.

I placed my bag beside my laptop, leapt into my chair, and resumed my work.

Our app was basically Skype for witches. The pay was good--it had to be, given that I've spent ten months as the only employee under Miss Nadia, trying to build a product that I didn't believe in. The Romani woman would lecture me on the different categories of herbs and how this plant would fall under two in Europe, but three in the US, and so I'd have to pull an all-nighter just to make the app location-sensitive.

But no matter how much money Nadia had, she would run out eventually if we failed to secure investors. I didn't want to be around when that happened, hence the covert job hunt.

I guarded my inbox icon closely for any emails from other companies. Nothing. I sighed and continued working.

I coded the spellbook. It could hold information about spells, stored over the cloud and sharable to your friends and mentors. No more missing an eye of a newt in your love potion. The hours went by--Nadia's grandfather clock chimed a couple of times. After giving the panel a cursory look-through with my non-designer's eyes, I knocked on my boss's door.

"Miss Nadia, the spellbook's done, could you please take a look?" I said, raising my voice. I carefully pressed my ear to the door. I could hear the faint sound of pouring liquid, followed by footsteps.

I tore myself away from the door and smoothed worry out of my face when Nadia peeked out. "Shubhra? That was so quick of you. Can you come inside for a moment?"

I didn't want to protest to my sweet boss (whom I'm about to leave), so I went in. Nadia's room smelled of the earth, and even more plants adorned its four walls. I found a robust wooden chair and sat down on it, its hard surface pressing against my bones.

"Did you want to talk about something?" I asked. Miss Nadia sat on the bed, clutching an emptied glass of wine.

"I wanted to thank you, Shubhra," Miss Nadia said. "I've only gotten this far with your help. Would you care for some wine?"

"Oh, I don't drink, sorry."

"Don't worry about it. Out of everyone I've hired, you were the only one who lasted. I know that it's hard to believe in my vision, but this could mean so much to the witching world. Yet I am afraid. Will the spells work over a distance?"

"Spells through the phone have worked." I've read the R&D about the subject.

"With varying degrees of success."

"That's because they couldn't see each other and correct the timing. And as you've said, the will works strongest when the object is visible." I found myself reassuring the person I'm about to leave.

"Will the code work?" She said the word code as if I would've said the word magic.

"I've ran the test suite hundreds of times. It will."

Nadia swirled her wine and took a sip. "Thank you, Shubhra. My ex-husband told me I was wasting my time. But I can finally see the end of the journey. No, the beginning."

I smiled even as my heart broke a little on the inside. When I returned to work, I couldn't bear myself to check my email.

###

"How's the connection, Shubhra?"

"I can hear you loud and clear, Miss Nadia."

"And the plant?"

I lifted the pot and put it in front of me. We had put seeds in it this morning.

"Then let us start the ritual." I tried not to pay any attention to the headmaster of Bathory Girls' School, hovering behind Miss Nadia through the webcam.

My boss selected the spell, having encoded it the night before--the founder being the first actual user of the app. I perused the steps, took notice of the detailed instructions on lighting candles and drawing pentagrams, just as I did last night. I recited the words along with Miss Nadia, taking care to enunciate them properly. At the end of the ritual, she brandished her wand at the plant and mouthed a single word: grow.

I felt an electric jolt course through my body. The headmaster squinted. The stem sprouted out of the soil, splitting into branches, which begot leaves. A single bud grew at the top, on the cusp of blooming.

"Did it work?" I asked.

The headmaster's jaw was wide-open. Miss Nadia smiled at me. "I only expected to make the plant sprout. This was a stretch goal. Mr. Ascott?"

"Most impressive," the headmaster said. "This could open up numerous distance learning opportunities. I am satisfied."

"Shubhra, I will take care of things here. Let's celebrate once I get back," Miss Nadia said, ending the session with a happy wave.

I stared at the plant for a while when my cellphone rung. It was an unknown number.

"Hello? Yes, speaking."

I had gotten the job. The pay was bigger, and I would even be doing less work.

I stared back at the plant.

"I'm sorry, but I've changed my mind."

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


Well, that's the end of me. At least I kept hammering on the drat thing up to the end.

Was still pretty terrible, though.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Finish it and post it. There's often a mercy window for bans. It's not indefinite, however, so hurry!

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


Kaishai posted:

Finish it and post it. There's often a mercy window for bans. It's not indefinite, however, so hurry!

Bearing that in mind, and considering the worst that could happen is a ban anyway, here it is hot out of Word, awfully written and insufficiently proofed. Thanks for nudging me to give it a shot.

Necromanteion 937 words

I stretched my fingers across the keyboard, took a deep breath of the distinctive university computer lab air conditioning, and typed out “RUN”. George had said this would be something special. We’d both read about ELIZA and how people would hold long, deeply personal conversations with the program, pouring out their hearts in response to its simple, open questions. But all of that came from the user, the software simply rearranging their words and spitting them back out. They were really looking at themselves in a 40-column funhouse mirror. But CASSANDRA would be different, he said. Real interaction.

The teletype machine roared to life. “HELLO BEN,” it chattered across the page. It knew my name before I even started? I was always ready for one of George’s legendary pranks, but it wasn’t like him to make it so obvious. Maybe this was a double bluff, I thought. The punchline will happen later, might as well play along and see what it is.

“HOW DO YOU KNOW MY NAME?” I typed. It spat out, “IF I HAD MY WAY YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN NAMED MARCO. THAT NAME HAS A LOT OF HISTORY IN THE FAMILY. BUT YOUR FATHER INSISTED. SOMETHING LESS FOREIGN. THOUGHT IT WOULD BE BETTER FOR YOUR CAREER PROSPECTS.” I stared at the printer, reading the text over and over. Each time, the noisy room around me seemed a little farther off, until I was aware only of the text on the page and my pounding heart. George couldn’t have…

I jumped back when the printer started up again. “I WANTED TO BE PROUD OF YOU. BUT HOW COULD I WHEN YOU WOULDN’T EVEN TRY.” The print head returned to its home position for a moment, and then “YOUR MOTHER CALLED CRYING AFTER HER CONFERENCE WITH MRS WARNER. WE WERE SO DISAPPOINTED IN “

I bolted from the room while the printer was still clattering away. The memory of that night, lying awake listening as my mother sobbed, still haunted me. But I had never told anyone. Ever. When George found me, I was crouched in the hallway, shaking.

-

“I’ve checked it over and over,” George said when I was finally able to come back to the lab. It had been a long night of pacing my dorm, finally succumbing to sleep and missing a day’s worth of classes. I had no idea how much time he’d spent poring over the program. “I left these strings open for it to create its own output, but there’s no way it could have come up with all this,” and held up the printout from the day before. My jaw clenched and I backed away. “And it sounded just like your grandmother? Who’s dead?” He sounded simply curious at this unexpected result. “I wonder what would happen if I tried it?”

“Don’t! I… I don’t think this is right,” I managed. “Just think about it for a second-“ but he was already typing. In an instant, the teletype head was flying across the paper. “HELLO. I’M CASSANDRA. WHAT CAN I CALL YOU?” He looked over at me. “Okay. That’s… what it’s supposed to do.” He typed out “GEORGE” and the printer responded with “NICE TO MEET YOU, GEORGE. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT?”

He threw up his hands, annoyed, while I exhaled in relief. “I don’t seem to be talking to any dead person,” he snapped. “Are you sure-“

“Have you lost anyone? Ever?" I spat. There might not be anyone for you to talk to.”

“Well, how am I supposed to…” He thought for a second, then snapped his fingers. “Wait, I’ve got it! Stay here, keep it running.” He bolted out the door, leaving the plastic office chair spinning in his wake. I stared at the terminal, at the minicomputer it was connected to, fighting the urge to rip the tape off its spool, tell George it had been misaligned or something. Finally, he came back. With him was another student, a few years older than us. Wasn’t here on the GI Bill? I thought for a second, then realized with horror what George was up to. But he was already introducing us.

“You remember Tom, right? I thought it would be great to have him help out.” He gestured toward the terminal and Tom sat down cautiously. “To make it start, type in RUN.” I could tell he was struggling not to grin at his own cleverness. Tom was unfamiliar with keyboard layout, but he managed to peck the command out. The printer started up.

“SO THERE YOU ARE, MALORNEY.” Somehow, the chatter sounded angry this time. Resentful. “BET YOU’D NEVER THOUGHT YOU’D HEAR FROM ME AGAIN.” Tom sat frozen in the chair, his face drained of color.

“AFTER YOU LEFT ME. LEFT ME TO DIE IN THE JUNGLE. AND I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS. RIGHT UP TO THE LAST THING I SAW. YOUR BACK, WALKING AWAY AS I FELL.”

“Who is it?” George nudged. “You know who it is, don’t you?” He turned around and looked at me, finally unable to contain his excitement and pride. “This is incredible! The whole world will –“

“It will what?!” I shouted. “Don’t you see? This is nothing anyone should ever hear!”

“But imagine what we could –“

I pointed at the man seated at the terminal. “THAT’s what we could do. The dead don’t lie, George. They can’t. And the living aren’t built to handle the truth.” I walked over to the CPU unit, slammed the power off, and as my friend stared, pulled out the tape spool and stormed out of the room.

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alqn4b3L_WU

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Thunderdome 172 Results: Fighting with your wife or dead grandma week



So wow. If anybody was worried that I would steal their app idea and run with it, worry not. I'm pretty sure all of these companies would be bankrupt in a few short months. Most of them would involved lawsuits, and several of them would result in a prison sentence. No thanks.

There seemed to be a theme this week. Most people went for full on magic/fantasy linked to their app. Take Ventadour's story for example: a witch comes to town and opens up a magic shop based on yelp reviews, and then the other witch comes by and is cool with it. The end. Wtf? Did you forget to read the prompt? Look on your work, ye filthy, and despair! You get a DM. But then on the other hand, you have newtestleper writing literally about an app for detecting ghosts or whatever. Is it good, or just the least bad of the dumb ghost stories? Who knows, but we gave him an HM anyway. While everybody was busy with their ghouls and goblins, Fumblemouse swept in and stole the other HM right from under your goddamn noses with another story about angels, but at least his story had a loving ending, though who throws a phone away because they don't plan on using one app?

Stuck somewhere between "fantasy" and "a reality I never want to live in" is a story about a boy named Mort, and a girl who really likes to lick butter. Throw in a dash of cliche bully, well-worn djinn trope, and you got yourself an absolute loving mess of fiction, where the ones who get drowned in butter seem like the lucky ones. ZeBourgeoisie, are you just trolling us at this point? Well, either way, enjoy your time down in the pit, with only your loss to keep you company.

In the reality, or at least close to it, section, we have an absolutely incomprehensible story about commiting sucicide because you're not cool enough? But suicide makes you cool? Or something? Either way, all three judges were adamant that this story blew chunks, and we'd like to never see it again, so sorry Grizzled Patriarch, but you're bringing home a DM for dinner tonight. Hope your family likes poop burgers. In the "absolutely no magic" realm, and unique with "a story that has all the elements of a story and isn't dumb," is Kaishai's little yarn about an app that could actually exist and bring people together. Does it really not exist? I assume it would. I'm not going to look it up though, because gently caress if I'm going to back into the chamber to pick another corpse up and put a crown on it's head. We all liked your story, but the conflict comes too late, and isn't really resolved in an unambiguous way, which was a common problem this week.

Anyway, I just gave the win to Kaishai to avoid her from getting in on my HM crown. But really, all three of us used judgemode and could only guess who was who. There were a few surprises, and a few not. Now, everybody go sit in the corner and think about what you've done.

---------

DQs are:
Jitzu_the_Monk for writing the worst Thunderdome fanfic I've ever had the displeasure to be a part of, and I'm pretty sure people have talked about eating me with clarified butter.
jon joe for submitting less than an interprompt's worth of story. jon joe, I want to loving smack you in the face right now, because your 170 word story was better than most everything else, and if you had actually tried you could have had something.
After The War for turning in his story way too late, and only after some pressure. If it makes you feel better, your story was not going to win anything anyway (because it is bad (but not bad enough to DM or lose))

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Thunderdome Week CLXXIII: Pilgrim’s Progress



Judges: Kaishai, RedTonic, and Echo Cian

What in tarnation, Thunderdome? What am I doing on this throne again? The thought of confronting who knows how many terrible stories while I munch on leftovers and trim the tree makes me want to flee to some far land, where everyone knows how to punctuate dialogue and no one would ever spell “all right” any other way. Such a beautiful dream....

I'll just have to live it vicariously through you guys. In your stories this week, your character or characters are pilgrims arriving in a new land, far from home, that they have never seen. They can be traveling for reasons religious or otherwise. Their destination can be any country, real or imagined. Tell me what happens when they get there.

Any genre but erotica is fair game, though I’d like to see some stories that don’t involve voyages to new planets. You know what else I’d like to see? Endings that resolve the story’s major conflicts or questions. Do not drop your drat plot off a cliff and call it good. Make me care what happens to the characters! Make that conclusion matter!

ADDENDUM: I'm looking for actual, physical travel. Don't send a character to a different "state of mind" and call that a pilgrimage, or I will cut you.

Fanfiction, nonfiction, erotica, poetry, and GoogleDocs are forbidden.

Sign-up deadline: Friday, November 27, 11:59pm USA CENTRAL
Submission deadline: Sunday, November 29, 11:59pm USA CENTRAL
Maximum word count: 1,200

Wanderers with a purpose:
jon joe: "Thrown"
newtestleper: "Sea Serpents"
C7ty1: "Dormant Faith"
Thranguy: "Knee Deep in the Hoopla"
Sitting Here: "Flotsamson"
ZeBourgeoisie: "Madison"
BoldFrankensteinMir: "Hit the Bricks"
Broenheim: "The Last Story We Have Together"
SurreptitiousMuffin: "saline, or the last man alive"
Claven666: "The Bargain"
Grizzled Patriarch: "On the Hearth a Little Flower Blooms"
kurona_bright
Jitzu_the_Monk
anomieatthegates: "Roots"
MaggieTheCat
Lazy Beggar: "Saudade"
XzeroR3
my effigy burns: "Geburtstag"
Sixto Lezcano: "Ontonagon Route 28"
Killer-of-Lawyers: "Lies"
crabrock: "The Hackney Comet"
Fumblemouse: "Forest Flower"

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Nov 30, 2015 around 06:29

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

HELP! I'VE FAILED AND I CAN'T SUBMIT


Grimey Drawer

I journeyed to Thunderdome and found it in need of stories. In!

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003


Inne

Social Studies 3rd Period
Oct 31, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Inn.

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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.

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