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  • Locked thread
Oct 20, 2011

Lovely night, no?
Grimey Drawer

WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

Doming with the Devil Brawl

Devil's Dance
1207 Words

Matthew’s first exchange with Satan was for a pair of magic shoes which could perform any feat of feet. The only cost which the devil requested, was that Matthew dance for him sometime in the future. After ensuring that it did not cost his soul, Matthew agreed and became a world class dancer, like he always dreamed.

“Whew!” Matthew plopped down into his chair, the applause of thousands rumbling through the red curtains. Attendants swarmed him, wiping sweat, fixing makeup, and trying to remove his shoes. “No! I’ll do it myself,” he said, pushing away the kneeling attendant. He carefully removed his most holy of artefacts from his feet, then strangled them in his grip as though they were rags. If anyone else obtained them, they could learn his secret.

The kneeling attendant washed his feet. During the scrub he cried out, “Ow!” He pulled his feet back to see that one was bleeding at the arch, scrubbed too hard by the clumsy attendant. “Fired,” he declared. She argued, but he only said louder, “Fired!” She left while the rest carried on, one bandaging his foot. Discontentedly, Matthew canceled his next performance, instead choosing to rest. His feet fell off in a dream.

The next night he was fine and continued on with his performances. He made his closing leap with grace, as usual, only for the landing to bring him discomfort. When he went backstage and removes his shoe, blood trickled from both it and his feet. Such a small wound previous had doubled in size. Matthew canceled a week of performances and went to see a doctor.



“Come again?” Matthew asked.

“The soles of your feet are entirely dead tissue, like a corpse. This is the first time I’ve seen a case of gangrene which was spread so thin and evenly, so you’re lucky we don’t need to remove any part of your feet. Instead, scrapping off the bottom skin and letting it regrow should be enough. The bottom of your feet will be incredibly scarred, however,” the doctor explained.

Matthew argued with the doctor, but was eventually convinced. The scarring of his feet wouldn’t matter with his magic shoes, though he wouldn’t be able to dance for at least three months. Hundreds of thousands ‘Get Well Soon’ cards and gifts filtered through the hospital. By the second week of his stay, the hospital staff grew sick of eating his chocolates. Matthew requested to watch them burn the cards. The fire relaxed him.

His final checkup, the day before he was supposed to leave, consisted of a panicked nurse rushing from his room. Two hours later, three doctors regretfully informed him that they had not successfully removed all the dead tissue and that, to save the rest of his legs, his feet would need to be amputated at the ankle. Matthew knew of the debts supporting his lifestyle and that, without dancing, he would soon be destitute. Thus, he sued the hospital. He lost the case and his feet.


A man doesn’t go from world famous to homeless without poor financial management. The last thing he sold was his shoes, a collector item, to a rich fan. The sale stipulated that they would be only displayed, never worn, because even a homeless man has pride in his secrets. The money bought Matthew a car from Craigslist, his new home now, which he drove with false feet. What hurt him most was his fade from fame. That and the car crash.

He was bleeding, mangled, missing more than his feet, yet somehow alive. He would have thought it a miracle from God had not the devil approached him again. Matthew’s second exchange with Satan was for a bottomless magic salve which could heal any wound. “Even my feet?” Matthew asked, somehow finding breath. Even his feet, the devil explained. The only cost would be, if Matthew ever made a third exchange with him, the devil would take his soul. Scared of dying, confident that he would never make a third exchange, Matthew agreed. Satan healed him.

Fitter than he had ever been, Matthew planned to bring himself back to fame. He wouldn’t use the salve to heal others, too afraid that he would be discovered. Instead, he went to the rich fan to retrieve his shoes and, without fear of injury, dance again. To the fan, Matthew explained his healing as a miracle from God.

The fan asked for his money back. “I don’t have it, but I could pay you back after I reclaim my fame,” Matthew pleaded. The fan agreed, but on the condition that Matthew gave him a private performance. Matthew slipped on his shoes and gave his most wonderful performance yet, displaying in it the full range of suffering he earned through his ordeals. To dance again gave him purpose, gave him life. It was only a single man’s applause this time, but to Matthew it rivaled the thousands which once rumbled through the red curtains.


Soon, Matthew reclaimed the world stage. The story of his recovery, a miracle from God, brought him even greater fame. He became not just a dancer, but a spiritual symbol. He avoided a life fueled by debt and donated much of his money to charity. He ate his own lie and visited church weekly, chasing peace of soul. Good deeds transformed him from a man who once made deals with Satan to a man who felt right with God.

Yet he still impatiently waited for the day the devil would show up again, looking for that third deal. Matthew would reject him that time, no matter the cost, die if he had to and claim eternal life in heaven. He never married or started a family, fearful they would be used as leverage. He tried to find contentment in his fame, but it wasn’t the connection of love he was yearning for. His monkish lifestyle offered him more useless fame.

His dying days were at an old age, because the salve couldn’t cure what he couldn’t reach. He’d had many secret surgeries to age himself, as the salve brought him too much of a youthful appearance. With his heart hooked up to a machine, his new hospital also had to endure cards and chocolates. None of them were so cruel as to say ‘Get Well Soon’. This time he didn’t watch the cards burn, instead spending his time thumbing through his bible, praying that he might resist the final temptation he felt would come soon. His shoes were under his pillow, ready for when he had to walk to the bathroom.

Before he died in his sleep, he dreamt his last dream. In it, Satan came to him again. What he could possibly offer, Matthew wouldn’t give him a chance. Matthew said, “I accept my death.” Satan laughed and reminded him of the dance owed. Matthew reluctantly prepared to give his final performance. No need, Satan said. The devil’s body melted, twisted, a sick dance of its own. It finally shaped into the only form which could bring terror to a dying man. The rich fan. Matthew’s soul was thrown to hell, a rumble of applause following him all the way down.


Feb 25, 2014

1791 words

Personal Hell


flerp fucked around with this message at 03:09 on Jan 3, 2016

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

klapman posted:

I got permission to crit one of my old high school stories from Entenzahn, so enjoy whatever this ends up being. I think it's been about four years since I wrote it.

The Lights (3318 Words lmao gently caress)

this hurt so much for 150 words... kill me

lol this rules

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

spectres of autism posted:

When You Cant Even

A Rock Falls to the Bottom If You Can't Catch It

Thanks for the crit, clearly the best of the set.

a new study bible!
Feb 2, 2009

A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly

Devil Brawl Results

Two Tricksters- Opening is solid. I really enjoyed reading the first scene, and the devil's dialogue is appropriately devilish. I didn't care too much for the beginning of the second scene, however, as it seems to slow a little of the momentum that you create in the beginning. I think you could get away without giving a dedicated description of the city. In fact, I don't really care much for the second scene at all; I don't know. It seems better suited as an opening scene and going back after the first really slows it all down. I think that second scene would have been better used to establish Finto as some sort of master magician, because the reliance on flash powders seems a bit like a Deus Ex Machina. Still, this is a minor issue.

I had a slightly difficult time following the specifics on the transitions of ownership with regards to the prisoner's fate, and I think this comes from the ambiguous nature of what actually constitutes a fate. The story would be better served if those terms were clearly defined. Part of this comes to play as Finto discovers the same, but I think that having him try to suss it out in the story stretches your wordcount a little thin.

Overall this was enjoyable, but nothing memorable.

Devil's Dance- UYYGH... That opening line.... for shame. The second line redeems it partially, because I expected you to go somewhere athletic, but still. "After ensuring that it did not cost his soul," is a perfect place to show instead of telling by using dialogue, and you have the words to do it. There's some clumsy writing here: "When he went backstage and removes his shoe, blood trickled from both it and his feet." Read that out loud. The clumsy writing in this bogs down the good ideas that you have. Also, I was confused about the time that this story was set in, and I think it has to do with your descriptions in the opening scene. Ultimately the end was predictable, but I appreciate the attempt at portraying the devil as the trickster he should be. This just doesn't hit the mark.

Personal Hell- Not loving the slow pace at the beginning here. Your opening reminds me of a story called "The Stone Thrower," which I like more than your story. The seed of this story is probably the most interesting of the three. "A wall came crashing down outside the bar, nearing lobbing off my arm." You probably mean lopping there. Upon finishing, I like the elements in this story more than the other two, and I can see what you are going for with the motif of solitude and isolation. It's kind of an Ars Poetica in a way, which is neat. Still, this story suffers from a pacing issue. I think the intro with the neighbor is too long, and those words would be better utilized in working within Hell a little more.

For writing the most cohesive story, Entenzahn wins, although after some revisions and additional work, I think I would prefer Broenheim's.

Happy New Year, Thunderdome.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

klapman posted:

this hurt so much for 150 words... kill me

you will make a fine judge one day

e: ^^^good fast judging, thanks for the crit. nice brawl guys

Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 18:49 on Dec 31, 2015

a new study bible!
Feb 2, 2009

A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly

Thunderdome 20sexteen: Pounded in the Butt by an Unfair Crit of My Gay Dinosaur Erotica

Feb 25, 2014

Broenheim posted:


I'm offering 10 in-depth crits (not line-by-lines sorry), quote this w/ your story, offer ends once its the new year in the real world (aka PST time)

this offer is expiring in less than 10 hours so how about you guys dont be loving morons and get a free loving crit

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Tyia broenheim

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 06:59 on Jan 1, 2016

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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

Broenheim posted:

this offer is expiring in less than 10 hours so how about you guys dont be loving morons and get a free loving crit

I guess I'll take one on an old story that I always wanted more feedback on:

Also I'll return the favor if you'd like, or pay it forward, just let me know.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Broenheim posted:

this offer is expiring in less than 10 hours so how about you guys dont be loving morons and get a free loving crit

can you critique my story "Friendly Takeover", please

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Hey, Thunderdome. I know most of you guys are going to be off tomorrow and/or today, enjoying the new year and procrastinating on your TD entries, so here's my suggestion: why not read some Edgar Rice Burroughs? He's got a style that's eloquent without being purple, and he knows how to write good, solid action, even in alien worlds. Plus, he wrote about two extra colors that make you fly and create oxygen.

Here's a link to Princess of Mars, which you can click on and start reading THIS VERY MOMENT!!!! !!!! !!! !

Happy New Year you ultimate ninnies,

Mar 21, 2013

Broenheim posted:


I'm offering 10 in-depth crits (not line-by-lines sorry), quote this w/ your story, offer ends once its the new year in the real world (aka PST time)

edit: crit this one instead actually

Thanks in advance! :)

kurona_bright fucked around with this message at 00:43 on Jan 1, 2016

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Thunderdome's Gifs of 2015 (Feel Free To Use These In 2016)


Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Broenheim posted:

this offer is expiring in less than 10 hours so how about you guys dont be loving morons and get a free loving crit

How about this one?


Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.

Broenheim posted:

this offer is expiring in less than 10 hours so how about you guys dont be loving morons and get a free loving crit

Thanks blood

Feb 25, 2014

Grizzled Patriarch posted:

I guess I'll take one on an old story that I always wanted more feedback on:

Also I'll return the favor if you'd like, or pay it forward, just let me know.

crit somebody else, spread the love

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
When LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE/anime was right took his leave, all the crits he'd written in this thread left with him. The magic of Google Cache preserved two of the crit sets. I repost them here so the writers of the critiqued stories will have his feedback available for their reference.

I've done my best to get rid of the SA word filter, but a few gentle caresses may have escaped my eye.

For Week 141 ("Three May Keep a Secret, If Two of Them Are Dead"):


hello and welcome to an ahfb judge week where you get very fast judgeburps that i cant be assed to edit

Untitled and Uninterested (thehomemaster)
This was competently written except for the part that I do not loving understand what happened at all. Or why I should care.

An Escape from Potential Prison (RedTonic)
“Beth looked at her phone. It was 2:03.” Boy howdy do I care right now buddy.
“Two missed calls, two voicemails, and one unread text from mom.” This tells me everything I need to know in the first sentence without boring me. It creates a mystery and if you see there’s two missed voicemails and a text, you know a person’s phone is in question.
Passive voice passive voice passive voice also I don’t care about your protagonists lengthy backstory make something happen already.
“Beth’s gaze dropped down to her feet. Laces were still tied.” Is the second sentence necessary? Dropping gaze to feet is a cliché, why not “Beth dropped her gaze to her meticulously tight laces” or something, you get a punchy detail and an action without stumbling. Your story is plagued with this sort of problem.
Honestly this was boring and not much happened. You had a ton of real-estate, a loving AMAZING PROMPT. The tension writes itself and you get meandering with a criminal. Why is she even going there? I’m still not sold on that.

The Protagonist Was Literally A Book (spectres of autism)
You write an entire story about the characterization and desire of a book, it ends in a buzzkill, nothing happens besides that one thing, and it’s like, just not very cool.
This story reminds me of when I’m at my worst and before I learned to just avoid lovely gimmicks for the time being. Avoid lovely gimmicks for the time being.
I’m not offended just pretty bored I think.

Parking Lot Warrior (Sitting Here)
Okay, above three? See this? There is conflict established quickly. This helps me care. Conflict is not necessary, plot is not necessary, but if you meander and don’t have something that makes me give a gently caress, then fast conflict is the most tried and true method of grabbing attention.
This is well written, some shavings needed and a bit of superfluous detail, and the kid is kind of an annoying dweeb, but the payoff at the end is good. There’s motivation, characters feel realish, writing is a lot sharper. Solid story.

Stinkybeer (Bompacho)
“Ethan sat at the bar, the stench of stale beer hung in the air.” Cliché motherfucker. Can you at least not open up your stories with a cliché? Please? Dang. You will get mileage out of a strong opening line that is unique + fast conflict. Seriously. This is the easiest way to not at least make me sigh immediately and not want to read further.
Most of this just reads like a cliché, every line of dialogue is weak and too straightforward. When you write dialogue, straightforward and direct is fine, but try to inject something about the character into what they say. Either their viewpoint of the world, how they obfuscate information, what they’re willing to share without necessity. Your descriptions are straight out of every bland line of every book ever. Here’s an exercise: either with this story or another one try to rewrite every sentence in a completely different way. Not like, change the grammar, fundamentally alter how you say it.
““Fair enough.” Ethan replied, mostly because he couldn't think of how else to reply to Lucky’s story.” Just delete this. You could have forgone the information, or come up with an interesting way to break up the conversation. An awkward cough, playing with a glass, whatever.
On top of this, it all ends in a nondecision. The best part of conflict Is seeing the critical moment and how a character deals with it. You learn how a character operates when you see them facing the manslaughterer of their family. Does he kill him? Have someone else kill him? Also, why is that Lucifer? That guy didn’t seem very Lucifer-y, so it wasn’t very ambiguous. Anyway, he just doesn’t do poo poo and that’s BORING NOTHING HAPPNED HAIGHdsg94ogregldgregldgjlglad (this is part of my crit btw).

Muhamad Al-Gorelord (probably gorelord irl)
I actually had to look up that mailed had a secondary meaning here but it works well so forgive me.
“a sea of sweaty bodies pulsating as one.” Clicheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
“A cluster of outstretched hands grew out of the biomass, shot out towards Gorelord, reaching up as if he was their saviour.” Much better.
This is some hella loving good juxtaposition FYI. Thank you. It is interesting. I care about Gorelord and why he is in love. Good job.
SUDDEN PASSIVE VOICE EVERYWHERE duuuuuuude. You started so loving strong I mean maybe this was a stylistic choice? But you hosed it up dude.
Lmao the ending.
Okay this was like, good concept. I think you could have armed the reader with the fact that the record exec was making moves on GORELORD and the decision would have been more interesting. If you just cleaned up your prose and did that I think this would have been a great story, instead it dances between OK and good. Very strong opening though.
I think this is a good story to read this week for everyone because it’s got enough contrast between the good and the bad so see both in the same style and where someone could improve a wishy-washy piece into something killer.

Be Kind and Rewind My Brain to Before this Story (Killfast37)
Okay this is fast conflict. It’s not super captivating but I’m into it. I don’t know why this dude can’t sleep (and he’s clearly troubled), Dustin hosed up. Bam. I’m hooked. Why? That was fast. Other people, read this opening so you get an idea of how to at least afford attention.
Well okay this got dark real fast and I man it explains everything but I’m kind of disturbed here really. This was like just kind of depressing in a way I didn’t want but it ties in with the themes this month and ughhhh.

Big Bang Beautiful Woman (A Classy Ghost)
Ok this one started off hella funny, kinda passive tho.
Other than some stumbling and meh prose, this was a good story with a solid ending, decent conflict, kind of fun and silly.

World of Snorecraft: Aneurism (madpanda)
I don’t caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaare.
I saw the ending coming a mile away. I guess it was competent or whatever, but you didn’t need to fill out that much detail about the video game, really. Anyway. This was like, OK, I glanced through it kina quick because a lot of the details were like “I know whats happening already and its just dragging out the ending I know it’s coming” yup that guy is his dad and the emotion didn’t kick me in the gut.

Please stop copying Futurama (Paladinus)
this is the most confusing ending ive ever read and the characters suck too pretty much anyway cya
seriously who is who this isn’t clearly articulated in the end. ALSO your characters don’t really have any conflict to resolve or have anything interesting or unique about them until the very end which is the same time you broke the top bunk.

Kaishai’s obvious story because the prose is good (Definitely not kaishai)
Okay, this is like, good. Congrats. I was sort of ambivalent throughout but it was super competent so that’s cool. I an unbiased in the fact that this story is good but biased in that I didn’t much find it too fun grabbing or have any strong emotional investment, but it was like, the most well written story so kudos to that.

Twists also good depressing story
I kinda got bored in the middle, bit of meandering, but this is an excellent piece on depression and suicide. Creepy how real it is. Anyway, good story dude. (ps did you notice the character made a CHOICE at the END? Agency, woo)

Justinian ain’t done poo poo (Broenheim)
Justininian didn’t do poo poo, no agency, it was just watching the girl suffer but we had no reason to know why she suffered or any sort of like, feeling about it. She just did, then she died. Oops. Anyway, a little bit of stuff happened, it was kind of bland, but there was a story with a meh ending.

Make it RAAAAAAAAIN (tyrannoman)
This was funny and also a story so I liked it. It wasn’t too consequential and the prose was merely OK but hey stuff happened and I thought it was funny and liked he characters so good job in 700 words or whatever.

Flags (sadistech)
Kind of ambivalient, the character grew a little, changed a bit, had motivation for stuff. Ending was kind of a snooze and honestly this story was like, totally passable, just not crazy interesting or good. It hit every checkbox on “story” Needed more fireworks, (im clever)

Ughhhhh. Grunt. Zuhhh? Zugh. (Killer-of-Lawyers)
Oh First is the character. IMO you should have reworded the first sentence so it sounded like a name and not a sentence with a missing subject.
Anyway, this kind of dragged. I think you could have chunked off a lot stuff in a lot of places, I found myself skimming a lot and had to correct myself. I just think everything came out competently and there wasn’t anything that really stole my attention, but you’re kind of late in the game here so I’m naturally going to be tired. Even by forced reading though, I’m a bit ambivalient. Competent, but needs: subtraction of the dull (lots of fluf), addition of the sharp (nothing really interesting structure, pacing or prose wise).

In which I identify with a doorbot Djeser
This story was pretty cute and fun. Beem was somehow identifiable and understandable as a corporate program. That’s kind of… something? Good job. I like both the major characters and I wasn’t terribly bored. Nice. Sweet. Neato.

For Week 142 (BUT MOM, A WIZARD DID IT):


up until today, i was critting as i went. unfortunately, i have this thing called "a job" so for now all you get is 26ish burps followed by a WIZARD RATING

please note that with only one exception, your WIZARD RATING had absolutely zero impact on how i felt about your story other than maybe "was it fun". the highest WIZARD RATING may be considered the "best use of the theme this week" by myself but in reality its just the most wizardy thing that isnt "gandalf loving merlin with his pheonix hearstring staff"

please keep in mind i wrote these without any filter or without caring or really editing either. they are my train of thought as i read or just as i finished a story. you are all beautiful wizard snowlfakes, just some of you happen to be yellower than others.

here u go

angel opportunity

This was competent, if quite boring, until the end. I seriously do not understand the Janice part of the ending. Like, did he just notice her because he said the phrase? Or what. So confused.
Wizard Rating 3/5


500 words in, I don’t know anything besides your character’s occupation and that papercuts are bad and also good? Not boding well. Backstory dumps need good payoff. Anyway your protagonist is like, a book or something and all that happened was he got a papercut and learned supermagic and is confused and turned into a book. At least he had to make a decision at some point. This wasn’t crazy interesting and the point of view was weird and there was probably too much backstory but oh well.
Wizard Rating: 2.5/5


wasn’t too keen on the dialogue, but there was some good conflict here, everyone had goals, pretty straightforward and solid story. I got some decent imagery in the beginning too, but it faded pretty fast.
Wizard Rating: 3/5

Cancer Cakes

This isn’t a story this is a family guy sketch.
Wizard Rating: 2.5

Benny Profane

This story is: wizardly, amusing, and well written. I did enjoy it. It wasn’t like, spectacular but I found some true moments of amusement and an actual laugh in it. Overall I feel like your protag was a bit flat given how much space you worked with, and the backstory didn’t really do much for the plot. Otherwise, decent piece.
Wizard Rating 4.5/5


“I rolled a quarter across the knuckles on my right hand. With the left I took a yellow wallet from her purse.” This would have worked better as a single sentence because it creates both simultaneousness and grabs you faster in the story.
Anyway, you did good on a lot of things happening. The double cross was surprising (but not in a way that really makes anything good), also I guess he teleported? But also that was an asspull too. Basically your ending came out of nowhere but you’re pretty good at making things happen in a very barebones manner.
Wizard Rating: 3.5

Benny the Snake.

Boy are you lucky that I know a lot of things about subway travel in NYC. And by lucky I mean literally everything that has happened would not happen in a crowd. Also you defied your prompt. It was designed to make sure NO ONE GOT HURT and you loving killed a cop. Great loving job dude. Anyway, this is not how cops do things sorry. Also your characters were incredibly flat, but on the plus side, I understood everything that happened and things actually did happen. Conflict wasn’t hot but it was marginally there. Also the singing parts were groan inducing. Also according to both word and the archive you went over the word limit btw (not including title either)
Wizard Rating 1.5


This was fun, things happened, people changed. Overall this was a fundamentally good story that was enjoyable at its core. I felt a little bored during the dragging dragon scene, but otherwise it’s not especially great or inspiring, but other than the drag it was an easy read that I mostly enjoyed.
Wizard Rating 4/5


I don’t much care for why your dude is racing, honestly? Like, prize money. Cool. Nice. Okay, I think this is a really good example of “why motivation matters” to characters. Why do the traditionalists want to… do a thing to that boss guy? That’s nice. I care about the boss a little, he seems like a nice guy, your clueless wizard is aight, he’s a functional object, but not much of a person. There were simply not enough human elements here. Everyone felt like a puppet. I also got kind of bored toward the end. This isn’t a particularly bad or good story though and things happened in lieu of me caring.
Wizard Rating: 3

Jay O

First of all I will say right now: if you gently caress up the minutiae of how dumb time travel is I’m cutting you a bit of slack. Time travel is always stupid to write about. Just give me a good story.
So far? This is just talking heads. This isn’t particularly a bad thing. You can gleam a good story out of talking heads. Both characters have motivations going into the conversation and try and earn information out of one or the other (or both), and both characters reveal themselves through the conversation.
This has none of that. I am bored.
Anyway the ending was kind of easy to see coming. His recollection of the past was better than the other. I feel like you could have done something way more interesting, but gently caress time travel. I’m going easy on you but this story was ungodly bland but at least it worked within the constraints of time travel.
Wizard Rating 1.5


More talking heads. This time out of necessity. This story ended very abruptly. It would have been more interesting for a master of conversation steering to also be good at talking people out of things. You know, without magic. I dunno. Anyway, all the questions and stuff, it seems like this wizard should have been prepared and then he broke under a lot of pressure. Seems like kind of an idiot. Still, both characters had clear motivations and it was doofy. I didn’t hate reading it, just, bad ending. Where did they get a pocket dimension. Why didn’t we know about more magic then? What did other magic do and how is it powerful with regards to the government having it. Etc.
Wizard rating 4/5

Ironic twist

I was halfway through this story way too confused and I have no idea where the wail originated from. The Diau thing? The protag? I’m lost on this, once I figured there was a wail this became much more readable but the origin of it made me scratch my head a few times dude. One sentence would have fixed this. This was pretty fun to read, you’re really good at imagery, using just enough detail to paint a good picture without bloating up your stories. The details felt a little loose story-wise. I’m not quite following the culture or anything here but that’s okay. It was fun.
Wizard Rating: 1.5/5


This one is easier to nitpick than the rest of your stories. It was a bit difficult to discern some events due to a lack of details. Marion’s death was punctuated in a way that sounded like it could have been many things. It didn’t seem that important until later on. The creature’s reaction to spells and how they happened were a bit weak. Finally, the words he came across in the graveyard took me three reads to figure out what was going on. Also, it sounded like the protag teleported far away but was back in the library initially. Early on I wasn’t sure if it was in or outside, or what was going on at all with who he was chasing or why up until the confrontation. This is pretty lame for you Kaishai, IMO, but at least:
I gave a gently caress about the characters. The plot made sense, nothing hung. poo poo happened, clear and obvious conflict. More importantly unlike all of the other stories I’ve read so far I really enjoyed the ending and how it was paced.
Wizard Rating: 3.5/5


This is confusing as poo poo. Not sure who’s where or how any of this is happening. A lot of my previous confusions this week seem to related to a weird lack of detail somewhere, but here? Nothing seems to be explained properly. The dream sequence was kind of interesting, but there was a lot of fluff IMO. Also you managed to overdescribe a lot of situations by stating a “this is a thing is happening” and then “here are the reasons the thing is happening, the thing is happening” (swamp detail, inability to breathe). I didn’t like, hate it though? It was just like hard to follow and your characters were p weak.
Wizard rating 3.5/5

Okay thank you for the fast break in the melancholy. From your prompt I was like “this is going to be so depressing” and then bam. A literal wizard. Thank you for being fun and keeping your wizards wizardly.
This juxtaposition of a weird wizard with jars doing something weird at a boring/depressing/serious thing is very captivating. You were toeing the line before but as much as I want some literal wizards this week, Merlin, c’mon?
Anyway there was like, zero reason or Ana to kill him? And uh, the ending was kind of weak. Otherwise this was really fun up until the climax which kind of was like eh emotionally, but fun to read. Anyway, this was the most enjoyable story, even if it wasn’t the best.
Wizard Rating 4.5/5 (.5 subtracted for the name merlin)


This is stupid. It is incredibly funny, but it is also incredibly stupid. Also your wizard. You did not waste my attention, but you wasted my soul. There was conflict and fun, but good god this was embarrassing to read.
Wizard Rating: 4

Grizzled Patriarch

This one kind of dragged but the character felt pretty real. The ending was pretty nice but honestly it kind of dragged even if the prose was cute and fluffy. I want to say I liked this, but there is so little wizardry. Like, this would have done a lot better in other weeks, but it’s a slow burn with a mild smile as the payoff. Not bad, but this is an outlier this week in terms of prompt, and is so closely off prompt without being so that I’m actually taking points off.
wizard rating: 1.5


Man you REALLY phoned it in. Your sentences are so barebones and you made a few errors so far. Kind of pulling me out. Anyway, that was kind of a neat journey, so the gods robbed him of his ability to hear the sound since he wanted to become a god by using it? That’s like, sorta neat, I guess. There was a speck of conflict, but I dunno why anything happened or cared really. Took me a moment to realize why the assassins were coming too, so you almost eluded me with subtlety there (he just killed a dude I guess?) Otherwise kind of ok story, super passive.
Wizard Rating: 4/5

a classy ghost
Fun story. There are legit wizards doing legit wizard things. It’s like, a wizard drug deal, and then there’s a gun chase scene except with magic wands. Nothing lingered, and the very end was actually nice. In terms of outright wizardry + story quality, this was excellent. Fun and enjoyable through and through. My only problem is the characters felt a bit on the weak side, save the protagonist. Also, the puppy magic thing was kind of like, out of nowhere, but if you foreshadowed this this would have been very very good.
5 Glorious Wizard Points

Crazy salamander

Well, things happened, you opened ok, then it just kind of turned into a hot mess. I don’t care about anyone, and it’s boring, and the dialogue is awful. Also, there’s some wizardy.
Wizard Rating 2

Dr. kloctopussy
This was a slow burn with an interesting character. There was conflict, change, things happened, decisions were made. By all accounts, a solid story. Very low on the wizardy-ness, but plenty of magic and a weird dark turn without pushing the grotesque to an extreme made it cool.
Wizard Rating: 3

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
in, after I get :vince:'d

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Djeser posted:

Thunderdome's Gifs of 2015 (Feel Free To Use These In 2016)

Kaishai posted:

When LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE/anime was right took his leave, all the crits he'd written in this thread left with him. The magic of Google Cache preserved two of the crit sets. I repost them here so the writers of the critiqued stories will have his feedback available for their reference.

I've done my best to get rid of the SA word filter, but a few gentle caresses may have escaped my eye.

For Week 141 ("Three May Keep a Secret, If Two of Them Are Dead"):

For Week 142 (BUT MOM, A WIZARD DID IT):

Thanks, you guys are neat

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
in, but only because i want to hurt Ent

Apr 22, 2008

In for breaking promises to Ent.

Sep 6, 2012
Its 11:59 where I'm at, hopefully not too late to sign up?

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

unwantedplatypus posted:

Its 11:59 where I'm at, hopefully not too late to sign up?

only if you somehow live in a bizarro version of pacific standard time bucko

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
:siren: sign-ups are closed :siren:

sucks to be you if you didn't sign up

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

crabrock posted:

:siren: Brawl: WherMonster :siren:

due: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 11:59 pm EST.

Does anyone remember this fight? crabrock gave me leave to judge it in his stead, so here are results before the thread closes. The task of deciding between the two wasn't difficult. Neither story was terrific, but only one was about a guy so busy being boring that he missed the chance to do anything else.

:siren: skwidmonster vs. Blue Wher: Astonishingly Meta Thunderbrawl Results! :siren:

THE PROMPT: "Too little, too late."

THE WINNER: The victory goes to skwidmonster for a flawed story of random superpowers in which, nevertheless, things occurred.

Blue Wher: "Blue Wher vs Skwidmonster Brawl"

Your posts in the thread confirm my recollection that you were coaxed to submit something rather than forfeiting again. It showed. Was this all you could think of? The world's dullest guy living the world's dullest life, screwing up in the world's dullest way while neglecting to shower? Okay, yes, there was almost something kind of meaningful to it all, maybe. Brandon's wasted day was a miniature reflection of his wasted life; his failure in hygiene probably reflected a lack of effort on a larger scale that fed into and was possibly the source of his misery. He created his own unhappiness by being so busy purposefully burning his time with tedious non-tasks that he forgot about something that could have been a pleasure. The situation had a snake-eating-its-tail quality that made it seem less completely empty on reflection--but it was still a total bore. Fiction in which dull people do dull things dully is never worth reading, ever.

Good show on turning up to the fight, but you didn't land any punches.

skwidmonster: "Andele"

Mingling the goofy and the dark is a difficult task, and you did a halfway-decent job of it. The phrase "strange, puttering stream of fucks" alone earned you some forgiveness for your sins. All the late-in-the-game exposition still weighed the story down, Mr. Clean's old-radish breath was weird, the Antiques Roadshow joke misfired, you messed up your tenses more than once (most notably in the last line), and you misspelled "Malaysia." You should have proofread more closely and not left in the likes of "A a woman." I thought initially that the vagrant lady was the one spewing fucks everywhere; your wording could have been more clear. Mistakes were made, is what I'm saying. Carmichael entertained me, however, and his answer to the task Mr. Clean gave him followed naturally from his personality and abilities as shown. So did his final flight. I don't know how many brawls you would have won with this piece, but it's very possible you would have had the victory in this one even if Blue Wher hadn't more or less defeated himself. You should be proud! Wherever you are.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 08:43 on Jan 5, 2016

Feb 25, 2014
New Years Crits

Djeser - Emil who did something w/ her face

I remember I read the first line of this and kind of smirked/smiled/laughed/had a reaction because I know you hate your face. That doesn’t really mean anything in the story, but it’s just a fun little thing for me to note. However, the first two paragraphs set up conflict right from the start. He hates his face, he’s getting a new one. There’s some characterization in his desire, so that’s also good.

I enjoyed this for what it was but I wish there was more significance to all the other moments. It’s just like “hey, here’s this thing” and then “hey, here’s another thing” and then “hey, this other thing happened” and I’m left wondering why each moment is incredibly important. I think the angle of “he gets a new face, but what matters isn’t how it looks, but what it means” can be explored more from the offset and thus add into the other moments. It does feel a little hollow that the entire story was mostly about becoming more attractive so I think you can make Emil more sympathetic by exploring what his true desire is for another face. Based on the ending, it doesn’t seem to be his face he’s upset with (he got another ugly face) but he’s more upset that he doesn’t have any cool stories or moments in his life. I think if you make THAT the main objective then it becomes an interesting story especially in a fantasy story. I can imagine someone living in a fantasy story with a bunch of legends and heroes would want something cool to tell people, so he uses finding a new face as an excuse to go exploring.

I want more impact from the moments as well. The first one happens and then he doesn’t really get affected in anyway. He sees a spider made out of bones or something but it’s like… why does that matter? Not just in the story sense, but for Emil. Like, does that force him to do something, to try and do something. Usually in stories like these, you have moments to test your character but I’m not sure how exactly Emil is being tested if that’s even your intention. They just feel there, like you had to put in filler for your flash fiction, which is a bad idea. Maybe there’s some significance I’m missing, so make that more obvious if that’s the case (Or don’t, I’m extremely dense when it comes to basic ideas).

I generally regard Thunderdome as a place for drafts, and for this one, I see a lot of potential. This is already a decent story, nothing spectacular, but still quite good. There’s a lot of ideas and themes you can touch upon. What it means to have your face, what it means in a world where you can replace your face with something else, the purpose of looks and why it matters, etc. etc. There’s something here for sure, and there’s a lot you can do with it. I think it just needs latch onto a certain idea and focus and expand and explore one idea and moment, or become a longer piece that explores multiple issue. Still good. Prose is quite solid, not a lot of complaints on my part. Read comfortably.

Sebmojo - Teamwork

Your second sentence has so many adjectives it’s bizarre. The first issue I have is interest. I actually got bored by the second paragraph and skipped to GP’s story, so even though is before his story, I read his first.


“It is then that the flung boot hit him in the head, and everything starts to happen very fast.”

This is both weird and I think passive? I’m always bad at recognizing passive by its technicality, just on how it sounds. A quick rewrite of


“Then a boot hit him in the head.”

Uses 1) less words 2) is immediate (“and everything starts to happen very fast” does not speed up your story, it actually slows it down quite a lot. It’s actually telling because you can show how everything goes fast by how you describe it and the cadence of the next sentences) and 3) sounds significantly less awkward. It feels like you were trying to be fancy with this sentence but it doesn’t quite work.

Your description in the next paragraph is fine. It shows the escalation of a bar fight, but then you decide, for some reason, to be break it up with “In short: chaos.” where I’m starting to feel some action. Remember that little thing about killing your babies? Do it right there. It’s even worse than useless, it fucks up your whole paragraph.

Awfully coincidental that the brother says “dont fall into a crevasse” and then hey, the brother falls into a crevasse, wouldn’t you say? That was so predictable that I was left unsurprised.

I’m left with almost zero thoughts of this story. It moves and it does things but it feels like it lacks any heart or dedication to the ideas or themes or characters of this story. The brother is a drunk and the narrator made a promise to his mother to keep his brother. Jesus christ, what is with mothers always making their sons promise to keep their siblings safe? It’s like writers can’t justify why a brother might want to save their siblings except “momma told me to.” anyways, I don’t really give a poo poo about your character, your writing, for the most part besides the few hiccups at the beginning is decent (side note - “gently caress you big brother, you were always Mama’s favourite because she could control you. She’s not controlling anyone now.” is absolutely trash). I just, don’t feel anything for this story. Maybe if you expanded the relationship or did, idk, something. Made these characters feel real and made the story feel real. As it stands, this story feels like a story (and not a very good one). It goes through all the notes and when I’m left reading, I feel like I’ve read this a hundred times.

Grizzled Patriach - The Soul is like a Cellar

I liked this until I got to the end which is common issue with you, I find. It’s well written and I’m immediately interested in the story and I want to know. I really, really, really, like, so desperately want to know more. Why is Joseph so desperate to be absolved? What does this mean to him? I’m curious about the sin-eater, everything in this story, but I don’t get to learn really anything.

Let’s take it from the start. Joseph wants to be called up, presumably to be absolved. He watches a lady gets called up. Then he visits the sin-eater at another time, and they talk for a while, and I think I’m supposed to get more significance out of this conversation then I got. Then, he waits again and doesn’t called up, wanting to be called up. Do you see the problem? Joseph wants to be called up at the beginning, he wants to be called up at the end. There’s no change, your character stays the same throughout the entire story.

I want to love this story. It’s so well written, it’s incredible. I’m drawn in immediately and I want to know more. You write wonderfully, but I always feel like you flounder whenever you have to get into the meat of your stories. Joseph, as a character, feels rather blank and hollow. All I know is that he wants to see the sin-eater for whatever reason. But I’m left feeling like I don’t know him, I don’t know this world, and I didn’t learn anything from this story. There’s an inclination, an idea, a definite beauty in everything you make, but you never go the full way. It’s like a beautiful ring someone buys at the spur of the moment. Sure, it’s pretty, but it doesn’t really mean anything. I’d rather take a cheaper, less beautiful ring if it meant something.

You have so many words to work with, and you keep doing this after people have told you to use all your words and make actual endings, that I’m starting to believe that isn’t that you don’t want to create endings, but rather, you don’t know how to. I’d like to see you at least try, because I’m feeling like with a lot of your stories you do the similar things without really trying to mix it up. I want to see you try to get out of your comfort zone and really push your stories to the limits of what they can be, because I’m certain that you will create some absolutely fantastic stories. You have great ideas and a lot of your stories I love what you’re talking about, but you never commit. Did somebody break your heart? Is that why you’re so scared? Regardless, I want to see more from you because I feel disappointed whenever I read some of your stories, which IMO, isn’t a good feeling.

Ironic Twist

gently caress YOU

Kurona_bright - Lost Cause

Oh god, 3 characters in 3 paragraphs. You know, I don’t like two of these characters, which I think you’re well aware of. But, here’s the thing, unlikable characters generally are not good because I don’t like them so I don’t care about them and then i dont care about the story.


“He pulled one of the detonators he'd used last night and”

and? and? and what???? Were you going for an effect here or what?

I’m starting to feel redundant here but there’s no investment for me here. I don’t like 66% of your characters, and Arnold is just not that interesting, nor is this story. Monster is attacking, blow it up, doesn’t work, run away. There’s nothing unique or interesting about this story that makes me want to keep reading it. It’s not a bad story, let that be known. Plot is there, prose is readable but not like, wow. But it’s just there and it exists and there’s nothing more to it. There needs to be something in a story that does something to engage the reader, and “blowing up a monster” isn’t enough. Readers want something more, and you’re not offering it here with this story. Think about the three elements of stories that are usually present - character, plot, and prose. Now, you want all three, but generally, I find that a good story generally has at least one of those aspects working for it. They might have a really engaging character, or an interesting plot, or beautiful prose. Ideally, you’d want all three of those aspects, but let’s not get crazy here. Your story doesn’t offer anything except workmanlike for all three aspects of a story, so I don’t feel anything.

Mercedes - Marching to the beat of your own drum

The constant interruptions of Tommy are just that, interruptions. If this story was told straight, then the pacing would be much better. Otherwise, this was a fun little story told with a pretty interesting voice and a plot that kept up the pace (despite the interruption). I’m left wanting a bit more conclusiveness to the story, but you were probably restrained by the word count. As a beginning to a short story, I would definitely keep reading since it seems really fun. Some of the humor doesn’t quite hit as it should, but thankfully your story is fun and the humor tries to add to the story rather than being the sole feature of your story (which is something I have a problem with some of your stories). I really don’t have a lot of problem with this story besides thinking this should be longer and expanded so you can put in a real ending. I’m happy you didn’t try to shoehorn in an ending and just kept going straight with it start to finish.

This was fun. Sometimes, that’s all we want.

Aug 27, 2012

this char is good
The Night Winds (1546 words, +150 from self crit)

We made the promise in a run-down shantytown off the coast of Shatiki. The sun flamed large in the west, all burnished gold; it glinted off his false tooth and hurt my eyes. Through our evening long talk we found that we both had a secret route, only known by one other who would always pass by in the distance.

Smart men, we were, and found ourselves laughing along at our unexpected joke. Long after the booze had sent our crews to the beds, we stared up at the stars burning in the sky. “When we pass, we'll raise and lower our flags. Give the boys a workout!” I shrugged, and drank again.

The morning came, their boat was still being patched in the harbor, mine was heavy with cargo. “I'll be seeing you again.” I said, and he nodded. The Lipstung set out to sea, most of the lads blinking off their hangovers, and our hearts as steady as the waters.

Weeks passed. The Lipstung sailed to Kletanu, was unloaded and laden once more. The route was good, slipping through the only calm waters in the midst of the Weeping Winds, constant no matter the season. This made our time good, and our finances better still.

I walked the cobbles of Kletanu, scattered as they were. The harbor and the inner city both were well colonized by then, but only dust and beggars laid between them. Still, for those with an open ear and a careful step, the Grotto was a trove of information.

Whispers rattled the alleys, but talk of the Lipstung's crew was thin on the ground. There were quiet suspicions, but no outright accusations. The Navy would eventually want the route, first by money and then by blood. But while their dogs were sniffing, they hadn't barked. A few more months then, perhaps a year or two.

The men came back from carousing, their faces red and their white teeth gleaming in the torchlight. I turned upon the deck, staring out to sea. Without looking, I spoke. “They've not let anything slip.”

“Aye, captain.” I had a reputation in those days, and a sordid one. He was my first mate, not just because he was tough and smart, but because he could speak to me for longer than a grunt. “They know what would come if they failed, y'know, and no warm night is worth a cold eternity.” I laughed harshly; he heard the dismissal in it.

The night was long and thick with heat, and the morning departure came as a relief. With the endless sea surrounding us, the days once more passed into weeks, the calming routines of seafaring lulling me into a wakeful rest. One day, around noontime, the shadow appeared on the horizon.

I looked away and tapped the shoulder of one of the new boys. “You, go bring the flag down, and put it back up again.” He grinned, thinking it a joke, but my steady gaze convinced him in moments. I sat down to my lunch, all oranges and hardtack, and waited for a response. It came, I smiled, and soon we'd passed eachother by. It was nice, having such simple conversation.

Ponds pour into rivers, rivers into great lakes, and time followed suit. The temperature hardly changed with the months there, and the winter was only just less stifling than the summer. It would prove harsh regardless.

The clattering and shouts of Shatiki graced me for what would be the last time. My first mate came again, i've forgotten his name, but he came and said “We can't do this again.” I nodded, and barked out some order, and he left with a scowl.

Staring at the placid waters, I found that my heart wasn't half so still. It was a meaningless communication, but over the months our ships would greet eachother in the same way, our flags dancing merrily whether day or night. Perhaps that's all the talk I could handle back then, but whatever the case, our route had become dearly important to me.

As the sun sank once more into the western shore, I wondered when it had become our route.

One more sleepless night on shore, and finally it was time to put out again. I felt haggard as I stared out to the sea, but grateful for the fresh sea air on my skin. “This is the last trip.” I said to the creaking deck at my back.

The waves were just as peaceful as ever; I hated them for it. I knew I had to sell my charts, that we'd taken too long as it was, but that didn't stop my teeth grinding. If he'd sold them, that other man with the teeth of a pirate, the rumors wouldn't be speaking of the Lipstung.

So the days passed, each second a minute and each minute an eternity. When I wasn't barking senseless orders on the deck, I was drinking. The crew grew restless, and though no mutiny was spoken of, my shouts were dismissed more often than not. This would drive me to greater anger and stupidity. I don't care to speak of those days.

Finally, during another crimson sunset, a shadow appeared. I shouted for the boy to grab the flag; they might have ignored my other orders, but this one was easy, and made me happier than most anything else. As I waited for the response, something bothered me; too big, I thought.

The pirate toothed man's ship was large, but what appeared on the horizon was like a pair of shoes, I pondered. I thought about it very deeply, reaching depths of metaphor that had never been plumbed before, in an attempt to ignore the piracy before me. I snapped. “Arms!” I shouted. “On the horizon!”

Nobody stirred. I followed the gaze of the crew to the helm, where the first mate watched me carefully. “You sure, captain? Y'said we're merchants now, and now we're back to the work?”

My brains stirred, plowing through seas rougher than any i'd seen. “The Navy!” I barked, my eyes narrowed in fury. “As is they'll be pissed, but we come back with a merchant galley and a bunch of pirate heads, and they'll be happy enough.”

The first mate and I stared at eachother a long time. As arguments went it wasn't a good one, but I suppose something in my eyes convinced him. “Aye, you heard 'im then. Grab your arms and prepare to board!”

I climbed the stairs on shaking legs, and clapped my hands on his shoulder. “I'll give ya some of my pay.” He shook off my grip with a scowl and joined the rest of them. I grabbed my gear; two scimitars from some exotic port. Wasn't much good with them, but they made for a good scare and they had edge enough for killing.

The moon hung just over the horizon, its pale light near useless. Our lanterns on port and starboard were doused quietly, the sail dropped in favor of oars, closer and closer we came, we were there.

Death strikes hard and swift, and that is where I failed. Every time my blades came down it was with a hesitation; did I recognize this man? Which crew? In that night alone I earned half of the scars I carry to this day, and by the time the sun rose my face, ruined as it was, was only the prologue to my body's suffering.

Captain to captain we stood, soaked in blood, admiring a pale sun. “You didn't send the signal.” I spoke, my voice rough. He didn't respond. “This is the last time this will work, you know.” Again silence, this time unbroken for a long while.

“I will sell it in Shatiki.” It could have been an hour later, when he spoke.

In a flash, my scimitar was at his throat. “You scheming little-! Very well, then i'll sell at Kletanu!”

He looked at me for a long time, a wan smile on his lips despite the blade at his throat. I lowered my blade, shoving it roughly back into its strap. “There's a third ship here now.” I said, my eyes half-closed.

“Not a bad start for a fleet, I should think.” That cocky expression and the slur to his voice reminded me of days long past, of blood women and wine. “I at Shatiki, you at Kletanu, we sell our charts and meet here. We signal, gather our ships, weapons ready and waiting.”

It shouldn't have been a happy thought. I should have been ashamed even as I swaggered into the Navy's office, when we set sail with our merchant comrades, or that night after our devil's festival of drink and murder. Instead, my friend and I sat with our backs to eachother on the deck, sharing a bottle of booze.

“The Night Winds.” I said suddenly, and he jerked awake from a sleep I hadn't noticed.

“Wha? For what?”

I smacked the ship's – our ship's – deck with feeling. “This little fucker. We won her that windy night, so why not?” He muttered vague approval before drifting back into sleep, and I finished the bottle myself. It wouldn't be good, but it might be better.

Sep 6, 2012
Lasting Peace (1,271 words)

A kraut bullet killed him, Pierre, my beloved. I drop the letter, hands trembling. Every day I sit at my desk and torture myself with this ritual. Some days I’m able to re-read his last letter. Others I stop halfway through, crying and grieving. I read and I read that damned letter and only one sentence ever sticks in my mind, “Home before Christmas.” Today is worse. Maybe not worse, but something is off. My eyes dart toward the bottle of valium but, in a rare show of will, my hands do not.

Why has today been worse? I feel a deep throbbing wound inside my heart, like a trapped rat gnawing its way to the surface. This is nothing new. So why is today different? I grab the bottle and throw it against the wall. How can a drug replace a person? Didn’t I promise to stay faithful? The plastic bottle hits the wall and falls to the floor, unaffected by my futile attempt at destruction.

A kraut bullet killed him in the autumn of 1918 during a routine patrol along the trenches. A hidden machine gun opened fire on his squad. He didn’t duck fast enough. Shot in the head. They say it was a quick death. He wouldn’t have had time to feel pain, as if that’s supposed to comfort me. “Slipped through my fingers,” I mumble. A month later the war was over. This was a year ago, but the rat’s constant gnawing keeps the wound fresh.

When Pierre had to leave, I stood there at the train station like a loyal maid, kissing him goodbye. He promised he would come right back to me after the war; said he would regale me with tales of heroics. I replied that I’d wait for him, await his arrival at that very station, and ask him about the sights of Berlin and the German countryside. I was stupid.

Nobody knew the war would be like this. Most women in town were proud to see their relatives and friends march to war. Anabelle, my dearest friend, received the first notice. Her brother died of dysentery. I tried to comfort her, told her she should be proud of her brother. Of how he died for France, and died for us. I didn’t understand. I should have, but I didn’t. Her brother crapped himself to death. We drifted apart afterwards. I don’t blame her; I was stupid.

Then the other notices came in, one by one remorse replaced pride. Death in battle took on a new meaning. To do battle is no longer some glorious act; to hold back the waves of Huns for the safety of France. Nowadays soldiers crap themselves to death, or die gurgling in their own blood in the midst of yellow fog, or instead are hanged for insubordination. Old war songs and stories took on a macabre meaning, a reminder of our own failure of foresight. Was war ever glorious, or were we simply blind to its horrors?

It didn’t matter to the papers or the politicians. For them war was still the fun distraction it had always been. In truth I wondered at times if everyone in this town was simply unpatriotic or craven. But no, having to bury your sons and brothers is not cowardice. Regardless, the insanity continued until…Verdun… I think was the name? I can’t even imagine…

Not like it mattered for Pierre.

I snap out of these thoughts and catch myself staring at the Valium. Any other day I would have swallowed a pill by now. But today is different. Pierre risked his life and fought the Germans. He could have dodged the draft or deserted. Why then can’t I resist a pill? This reasoning never stopped me before and, truthfully, it isn’t stopping me now. Something else inside of me is.

I turn back to my desk, head in my hands. If only I could find some meaning in his death! Pierre didn’t die for nothing. He couldn’t have! But nobody’s answer has ever satisfied me. The women tell me he died for his country. The priests tell me he died for god’s plan. The veterans, when I ask them, give no reply. I try and stash the insidious thought deep inside my mind but regardless it always claws its way out.

I’m going nowhere with this, it’s obvious. I get up from the desk, find a cigar and lighter, and sit down by an old stack of newspapers. Most of the papers are from the war. Every week I’d sit down and analyze the war sections; hoping for good news. No, that’s not true. I was reading for some reassurance that Pierre was safe. I marked down every time his unit was mentioned. It didn’t matter; ink on a paper can’t stop a kraut bullet.

However, I was looking for one edition in particular, one from the end of the war. After a few minutes of searching, I fish it out and read the headline, “The War to End All Wars!” Right below is a picture of Paris, wild with celebration. Nobody had celebrated that day in this town. I throw it back on the pile and sit there silently for a while. Finally, a realization hits me. I may have found a purpose! The rat’s gnawing dulls, and I gather the will to go back to my desk. From a cupboard I pull out a dusty leather-bound journal. I flip to the last entry, July 28 1914. I’ve had this for God knows how long. I used to write in it so frequently, my thoughts, feelings, and musings. How weird it feels, to have a five year gap, as though those years were stolen from me. I sigh, “Well, it certainly feels like the last year has been.”

I begin writing, “Pierre did not die for country or god. He died for me, for humanity, and for our children. He and his generation shed their blood so future generations may recoil from war and strife. I will always remember that he went to war, so my children won’t have to.” I stopped for a moment, looking at what I had written. Such a simple message, why hadn’t I thought of this before? I continue, “I think I can find some peace in this sentiment, enough peace so that I may move on with my life.” I stop myself from continuing. I want to keep my promise, but how can I move on if I don’t let go? I stand there for a few minutes, frustration building, before another resolution comes to mind. I take a breath and continue, “Pierre, promised to return. I believe I will see him again, in some other time, either in heaven or that other place. I in return, will remain faithful when we meet again. In the meantime...” I pause before continuing “I have a life to live. A kraut bullet killed him. I will not let it kill me.”

The shackles have loosened and I can start to heal. I look out the window and realize, my god, just how open the world is. Why did I feel so claustrophobic before? I’m certainly not trapped in this room. Many of my relatives are still alive and well; I don’t need to feel alone! I grab a piece of paper from the cupboard. The rat’s gnawing dies down, still present, but losing its hold over me. I feel the beginnings of joy kindle in my heart. It is the start of a new age for man, surely! I begin writing, “Dear Anabelle…

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Kaishai posted:

In compliance with an agreement between the relevant parties, the deadline for this brawl is now Sunday, January 3, 11:59pm USA Central Standard Time.

A reminder for sebmojo and Benny Profane: You have three hours and forty-three minutes. Use them wisely.

Jul 19, 2011

I'm out.

Profane Accessory
Feb 23, 2012

Kaishai posted:

Grinchbrawl: O Christmas Tree

As I Stood Dying
994 words

They come for me just after noon. There are four of the beasts, two large and two small, wrapped in bright colors like summer flowers, trudging through the snow. Three walk past me, but one of the small ones, lagging behind, stops before me. It bats snow from my branches, tugs at my foliage with a wrapped paw, and bleats to its packmates. The other three turn and shuffle back towards me. One of the tall ones extends a flat yellow tendril from my root to my crown, then nods to the other tall one. That one tightens its grip on a toxic orange weapon, an arc of metal with a jagged blade stretched across it, and kneels in the snow by my trunk.

The metal teeth bite cold and deep into my flesh. I am only ten years old, and my bark is still thin. The pain is beyond anything I have ever experienced, like a hundred beetles boring though my green wood. When the blade strikes my tender cambium, I feel the fragile conduits to my roots snap like twigs, and the pores on my leaves clamp closed. The saw bites further, and soon my cambium is completely severed, my lifeline to the soil ended, and throughout my body I feel a horrible shriveling pain. The saw approaches the opposite edge of my trunk, the pain distant and dull compared to the electric shriek in my leaves, and I am falling into the soft snow. Its whiteness melds with the sky, and I feel the world lengthen.

When I become aware again, I am far from my home and my roots. My severed trunk has been affixed by means of sharp metal spikes to a pair of crossed boards, formed from the trunk of one of my kind. The snow is gone from my branches, and I stand in the corner of a stuffy warm cave. All around me stand strange objects fashioned from the corpses of other trees, horrible geometries rendered in polished trunk wood. The beasts call to one another in alternately harsh and gulping tones as they open containers filled with pliable tangles of dark green tendrils and brightly colored globes. These are draped ceremoniously from my branches. Tiny metal hooks crumple my leaves, and the tendrils are used to bind my limbs at uncomfortable angles. One object seems to have special importance to the beasts, covered in cruel-looking points and gaudy flaked metal; as one of the tall beasts removes this from its container, the other beasts bare their teeth and clap their forelimbs together. The tall beast takes this final decoration and with slow, horrible force presses it down upon my crown, crushing the partly desiccated tissue of my meristem, my most delicate and sensitive organ, with its terrible metal talons.

The light abruptly dims within the cave, and then tiny flames spring forth from the green tendril along its length, and for a moment I am terrified that I am on fire. But the flames are cold and contained: I do not burn. My initial relief quickly gives way to confusion: if I am not to burn, then for what purpose have these beasts brought me here? They form a circle around me, their voices thrumming crudely, their tones somewhere in between those of a bird and those of a frog. When their ritual is complete, they leave me, alone in the darkness, festooned with lights, burning coldly in the corner.


Many days have passed. Still I stand. Still I am not dead. My leaves have lost their water. The beasts visit me each day to sit at my base or adjust the position of the baubles they have hung on my slowly dying body. And yet, for all the time I have spent among these creatures in their lair, I feel that I have gained no understanding of their purpose. Why have they brought me here? Why do they delight so much in observing my death? I understand the beetle; it would destroy me so that it might live. But what purpose do I serve for these hairless animals? Why do they delight in my gradual, horrible death?


My awareness comes and goes, and I am no longer certain of how much time has passed, only certain that I have little left. The ritual of my death has progressed; I am surrounded by wrapped blocks, their colors impossibly bright. My leaves are thin and papery. My branches are weak. It is before daybreak, and as the sun rises I pray, once again, that today might be the day that I die.

The beasts descend to my chamber. The little ones shriek and tear into the blocks savagely, like bear cubs digging for termites. One of the taller ones kneels before a stone alcove, setting flame to a pile of rough hewn limbs of my kind. As the flame takes those dismembered trunks and branches, I yearn with all of my being that I could join them, to finally bring an end to this horrible farce. I wish with the shriveled remainder of my livelihood for an errant spark to jump from the burning pile and land among my dried limbs, that I might become engulfed in flames, and burn the lair of these horrid creatures, and achieve some small revenge against them.

I imagine the beasts wreathed in flame, clawing at the walls in a futile attempt to escape from my righteous blaze.

But no spark comes.


I am dying, finally. The ornaments have been stripped away, and the ground below me is littered with broken pieces of my body. I am carried outside, across a tiny snowy plain. I am laid down on my side, and the snow feels wonderful and soothing. And, for a time, I am alone in the cold, and happier than I can ever remember being.

All is quiet. As the light of the day fades, I drift away alongside.

Wangless Wonder
May 27, 2009
The Ballad of Einar (1398 words)

The sun’s glare reflected off the sword’s razor edge and onto Einar’s eyes, clouding the kneeling form of the herald that held it solemnly before him. Einar slammed the door shut. There was no need for locks or bars on the doors of the Lord of the Northern Reaches, so Einar tipped over a nearby barrel of mead to block the herald’s way. The barrel promptly burst open, spilling its contents over the floor and coating the prone form of Einar’s loyal guard Dolf in thick golden ale that he proceeded to instinctively lap from the floor in between bouts of snoring.

Einar ran.

He was out of breath by the time he made it back up the steps to his chambers and considered his options. Too fat for the window. Too fat for the wardrobe. Too many whores under the bed, and only children hide from their fears under beds and Einar, Lord of the Northern Reaches, was a man. Men, they faced their fears head-on, killed them with a deft ax throw before they had a chance to react, and buried their bodies in a tree hollow in the Forest of Meek Hauntings before anyone was the wiser. Hearing footsteps echoing from the wooden stairwell behind him, Einar picked up Brynjar, Ax That Split Mountains and Slayed Dragons, mighty relic of his forefathers, and removed half a lemon from its rusting edge before hefting it above his head and and aiming it towards the doorway, arm shaking under the weight.

The footsteps came slowly, as if the herald knew the fear their sound struck in Einar. He wore bells in his beard like a southern rear end in a top hat and he was far enough up the steps that Einar could hear their chime. That beard would be jingling in hell soon, Einar thought. He tensed as he saw the herald coming through the doorway. He was young, handsome and had broad shoulders that made him sidle through the doorway sideways. He still held the sword before him on open palms. Einar roared and let loose the ax. It flipped majestically through the air once and fell embedded to the floor a few feet away from Einar, bits of lemon and onion scattering the wood between them. Einar froze, looking at the ax with wide eyes. The herald looked from the ax to Einar with a raised eyebrow. The whores woke and screamed and covered themselves in Einar’s fine furs and linens as they filed out of the room. Halvar, Einar’s donkey, awoke with a frightened whinny and Einar met his eyes and silently begged him to please, pummel this man with your hooves, distract him with your beautiful mane, but the beast always looked out for number one, it’s why Einar respected him. Einar locked eyes with the herald, and smiled with quivering lips.

“Welcome to the Northern Reaches!”

The herald pursed his lips. “Right,” he said, beard jingling as he shook his head. “Einar Einarson, Lord of The Northern Reaches, I come bearing the sword of King Erik the Great, Uniter of Clans, and with a a pro-“, he paused as Halvar trundled past him on unsure legs and crashed loudly down the stairwell. The herald cleared his throat. “A proclamation: We are at war. All lords will gather at the hamlet of Kadvarag and from there stage an all-out assault on-“

“Look, I get it, there aren’t many other reasons why a strange man with a jingly beard would come to my door to offer a sword,” Einar said, a button popping off his robe as he stood. “I will send Erik some men.”

“Your presence is required, Lord.” said the herald through gritted teeth.

“That won’t do. Who will look after the Northern Reaches? What if we’re attacked?”

“Attacked by whom? For what? The Northern Reaches have never known battle under our banner for a reason. You boast no resources, natural or man-made, you are an indefensible staging ground, your women are hideous; all you have is an old name and an older ax.”

“Careful, boy.” Einar said, stepping close to the herald. “I love every cold rock and hideous bitch in these lands, and will not see them insulted in my home!”

The sword’s edge was red with blood where the herald gripped it. “My Lord, you swore the oath. You knelt before the King and kissed the sword. Need I remind you what the punishment is?”

Einar grew pale. He had kissed many things in his time, and that damned sword had the second worst repercussions of them all.

“What is to be my role in this war?” he said.


“That can mean a great deal in these times.” Einar said, recalling his Hallucinogen Testing and Human Flight Engineering special force. They had dashed themselves nobly against the rocks at the bottom of End-Of-All-Things Cliff, and Einar was willing to order more men to the same for the war effort. “What, exactly, is my role?”

“You will take this and stab our enemies with it.” the herald said, gesturing with the sword. “Lords lead from the front.”

Einar clicked his teeth. “And I would be with.. my own men?”

“Absolutely,” said the herald. “If your man in front fights as furiously as he sucks mead from the floorboards, this war will be over in no time.”

“You forget yourself!” Einar bellowed. “I am lord of the northern reaches, herald!”

“I am no herald,” the man said. “I am Erik Erikson, and I have come as my father’s eyes, ears, and sword.” He brought the point of the blade to Einar’s throat, and followed it downwards as Einar collapsed to his knees. “I see a man who has not been dragged through the streets and burned as fuel in his own lands only because he controls the wheat and mead. I see a man shrouded in corpulence leading an existence of excess and degeneracy. I see a man abandoned by man, beast and ax. Bow your head, I will end a dirty life with a clean death.”

Einar’s face burned and his heart pumped in his chest and his britches would have moistened were he wearing any. For three generations, no one had spoken to an Einar this way. His grandfather had won the north by the strength of his ax and his father had ruled with an iron fist and boiled all dissidents alive in their own soup and he, Einar III, had set up a very beneficial trade agreement with local tribesmen for huge quantities of incredibly strong booze, which he shared openly with his people, sometimes. He knew didn’t respect him, but they liked him, probably, and for Einar that had been enough.

“You are right.” Einar said, bowing his head. “But do my people the justice of seeing this work done. They deserve that much.”

Erik paused for a long time, sword hefted in a warrior’s stance over his head, then nodded. “Pick up the ax, if you still can. A Lord should still be given a warrior’s death.”

Einar stood and picked up Brynjar, and allowed himself a small smile at seeing the prince still keep a safe distance between them. They made their way down the steps and through the door and were met by a large crowd, drat near the whole town by the look and smell of them.

“Good people,” said Erik. “I have come to rid you of your p-“

His words cut off in a startled shout as Dolf clubbed him over the head like baby seal. Sven, a hard-faced leatherworker, raised a pint glass to Einar, downed it, and dragged the prince off into the woods by his feet. "We didn't see nothin',” he said.

The townsfolk looked excitedly to Einar. He stood, raised Brynjar, Ax That Split Mountains and Slayed Dragons, mighty relic of his forefathers, and brought it down on a fresh cask of ale. The contents gushed out all over the townsfolk in a misty drizzle, and they opened their mouths and held up their flasks to collect it. More casks were opened and a whole barrel was poured out for Halvar, and Odin and his Einherjar were there blasting casks open with bolts of lightning, and no one was unceremoniously decapitated in the room they shared with a donkey, least of all Einar.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
1292 words

Mia sat wedged in the rust-rimmed bucket over the well and stared out at the dying evergreen trees on the far edge of her family’s old backyard, trying not to look into Evan’s eyes as he spoke to her. If she looked into his eyes, she knew, she would call everything off and they would head back across two states to their apartment, safe as safe could be.

She shut her eyes tight as he kept going: “…so when you improbably and inevitably find your sister, or whatever you’re looking for down there, just call out, and I’ll slowly pull one or both of you up, unless either the old, frayed rope or the bucket breaks, in which case you’re absolutely hosed—“

“None of this makes sense, Evan,” she said, her eyes still shut.

“That’s what I’ve been saying all along, Mia.”

“No, and I’m saying that I already know that.” She lolled her head back, and the bucket swayed. “The awful thoughts don’t make sense, the nightmares don’t make sense, the way she disappeared doesn’t make sense. None of it was ever supposed to.”

“Then what does make sense?” said Evan.

His voice carried through the October air like a spark in a haystack. She could hear birds chirping high above her, their tiny cries spiking across the dead grass towards the cold emptiness within her. No matter where in the yard you stood, the rustling wind made it seem like you were perched on the edge of a cliff, caused your heart to rocket up to your throat like a buoy released from under water.

“Follow-the-leader,” said Mia.


“Follow-the-leader,” she repeated. The rope felt freezing in her hands. “I played that game with my sister when we were younger. She was older, so she was always the leader. She’d run through mud puddles, anthills, piles of dog poo poo, anything to get me to stop following so she would win. I always thought that if we had broken glass windows or burning bushes on our property, she would’ve ran through those too, just to see if I’d follow her.”

The birds stopped chirping, leaving the yard silent.

After a moment, she heard Evan say, “Did she usually win?”

“That was never the point,” said Mia.

She opened her eyes. The world was white and intrusive.

“You can lower me down now,” Mia said. “Just make sure that you’re here when I need to come back up.”

He sighed. She closed her eyes again, and waited.

After a few seconds, she felt the bucket jerk downward, inch-by-inch, the coil of knotted rope unfurling above her as she descended, the stone walls slowly surrounding her.

When she finally opened her eyes, she didn’t know how much time had passed.

The circle of white light above her had shrunk to the size of a quarter, and her neck hurt from straining further up to look at it.

It was another game they played together—stare at the sun until the other one looked away. The things kids did to themselves, despite the horror stories their parents told them about blindness and frozen faces and drowned children with bellies full of peanut butter and jelly.

For some reason Mia was always the last one to look away, while Sonia teared up and accused her younger sister of cheating. Mia would always frantically apologize just to keep Sonia from getting her revenge in one way or another, even though she didn’t know why or how someone would cheat at looking at the sun too long. She was just better at it.

That was what her thoughts kept coming back to, after Sonia found their mother dead, and once again after Sonia just—disappeared. Her father spared her from any of the details—what door of the house did Sonia open? How did their mother kill herself? How long did it take Sonia to break away and run to the phone to call the police, and did she make it before everything she saw caught up with her? None of it was ever allowed for her, and it made her wish that she’d been the one to open the door, because she knew she was stronger.

She would’ve done whatever her sister told her to do. She wouldn’t have looked away.

Mia felt the walls dissolve away before she heard or saw anything.

Without the light to see, she could understand that she was inside a much larger space than she’d been before, curtains of black smoke whirling around her body. She felt microscopic. The light above her shrunk to a pinprick, and the bucket kept sinking lower.

The black smoke slithered over the bare skin of her upper body, arm hairs tingling with the soft susurrations she could just barely hear. Her hands tightened around the weathered rope as she looked into the darkness. She was far down, impossibly far down, and still the bucket kept going lower and lower—

“I knew you’d come.”

The placid voice was like a shotgun blast.

A scream tore through Mia’s body as she nearly fell backwards, hands fumbling for the rope.

“Who are you?” she shouted.

“Sonia remembers you,” the voice responded. “Sonia still has much love for you.”

“Are you Sonia?” she said, her voice trembling.

“I am Sonia,” said the voice. “I am many people.”

Mia looked back up towards the pinprick of light, the place where the well opened to the sky. The light danced above her like an after-image, flitted to one side every time she tried to look at it.

The bucket was still descending.

She dug her fingertips harder into the rope.

“Maybe I am you,” the voice said.

Mia couldn’t feel her fingers anymore. She bent forward and bit down on the rope, tasted husk and dirt and dampness in her mouth, felt the pain in her mouth jar her to alertness.

“Please, Mia,” said the voice. “Follow me.”

Mia couldn’t see the tears flowing from her eyes. She could barely feel them on her face. “I’m scared,” she said.

“I know. It’s okay. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Follow me.”

In one swift motion, she let go of the rope, and let herself fall.

She expected the ground to rush up to meet her, but it never came.

The tips of her fingers and toes disappeared into the smoke. Then her hands and feet. Then the smoke crawled up her arms and legs.

A millisecond before she felt everything, she felt nothing at all.

“This is downright nuts, son,” said Jameson.

Evan looked up at the white-haired man, who kept idly dusting the snow off his plaid jacket. “They never found her,” said Evan, his throat tight.

“They never found ‘er ‘cause she wasn’t down there,” Jameson said. He hacked up a wad of phlegm and spat it into the open well. There was no sound, and then a slight plip as it hit stone. “What do you suppose you’re goin’ to find?”

Evan said nothing, just stared into the black maw below him. Snowflakes fell from the blank sky, fluttering down, down, and out of sight. The air was icy and silent, as it had been three months ago.

“I have to try,” said Evan. He looked up at his uncle with reddened eyes.

Jameson stepped back, raised his hands. “Whatever you say, sonny,” said Jameson. He blew hot air onto his hands, then shoved them inside his jacket. Then he nodded his head at the bucket. “Old thing can’t be too safe, though.”

“It’s safe enough,” said Evan. “Just—“ He took a long, wavering breath. “Just make sure you pull me up when I yell for you, promise?”

“I promise,” said Jameson. “Don’t worry.”

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Seventeen And a Half Broken Promises

Words: 1397

In a better place now

Which is to say, the archives.

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 20:33 on Jan 4, 2016

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Saint Nicholas of the Embers

The night fell, like ashes from a cigarette. Traumber, elf of the lower reaches, watched it crumble as it hit the floor. It was the eleventh night and he had one day to live.

He had his favourite bauble, as they all did: his was a purple sphere of glass with gold thread. He tapped it a few times, making it thrum. The sound was familiar and he smiled at the memories. Then he nodded. It was stupid, and impossible but he would do it anyway. He clambered back up to the branch where his needle-sister Dolett was waiting in the blinking crimson and green vinelight, cross-legged and frown-laden. She saw the purpose in his eyes and it hit her like a fist. They shared a breath, then he tilted his head to one side, spread his hands.

"I'm coming with you," she said.

Traumber grabbed a strand of tinsel and swung down and around her, grabbing the thick twig between his legs on the upswing. "What?" He was hanging upside down from the branch. "You're the one who said it was stupid, and impossible".

Dolett crouched. Her eyes glittered blue in the light from the vine. "It's dumb, too. But I'd hate to be proved right and not be there to crow, brother. Come on. She won't know what hit her." She put out her hand.

Four branches up they met a troll. It squatted athwart the thick central trunk, breathing in spluttering pants that made its flabby stomach quiver. There was no way past.

Dolett spoke first. "Good Eleventh to you, treefellow. We seek passage."

The troll opened a slit eye. There were no vinelights nearby and its bulk was shrouded in shadow. "gently caress off," it said.

Dolett tensed, and was about to fling back an angry retort when Traumber put his hand on her shoulder. "Sir troll. Perhaps we could help each other. There is a sweetcane that the giants left, one branch down and vinewards. We are climbing to recruit more of our people to retrieve it."

The troll opened both eyes. They glimmered sickly in the dim light. "The sweetcanes are all gone," it said.

Dolett glanced at Traumber. "This one was wall-side. The giants missed it."

The troll drew in a deep satisfied breath. "One down and vinewards, you say?"

Traumber pointed randomly into the glittering gloom below them. "Yes, you can almost see it. It was the biggest I've ever seen, all green and red and white."

Well," said the troll, "I'd hate to stand in the way of a community endeavour. On your way, little folk." It raised a leg, then an arm, and began sliding down the trunk, licking its lips. "I'll, uh, keep it safe for you."

"Thank you so much," said Dolett over her shoulder as they clambered up the trunk. "You're terribly thoughtful."

They managed to hold in their laughter for another two branches, then clutched each other as they guffawed. Dolett was the first to quieten. "He'll not let us past, you know."

Traumber shrugged. "Not planning on coming back."

Dolett looked up. The Angel was glittering golden above them, only a few branches away. The stick-tie that held her to the Tree was clearly visible. "I've always heard she wasn't tied on with bauble thread like the rest of them. Guess it will be good to know for sure, hey?" Her voice was brave.

"Come on," said Traumber. "Nearly there."

Up close the Angel was beautiful and terrifying. She bent her head to look at them, and plucked a single note on the lute in her hands. The note carried meaning, somehow, formed into words in Traumber's head and he knew from looking at Dolett's wide eyes that she could hear too. "What do you wish, little elves?"

"We..." Traumber said, then hesitated. Then he felt Dolett's hand in his, and felt strong again. "We don't want to, to end."

Another note. The Angel's face was a perfect golden mask. "That is the law of the Saint, little elf. For ten years you work, then until the twelfth night you see what you have wrought."

"But it's not fair," said Traumber. "A single Christmas? Do the giants even know we're here? We want something more!"

The Angel inclined its head fractionally. "There is no breaking of Saint Nicholas' Law, little ones. Your fire is spent and your ember will be quenched."

Dolett shouted, sudden and loud in Traumber's ear. "But you go on! how is that fair!?"

The Angel hesitated, for so long that Traumber thought their audience was over and had started to sickly wonder at his path back down to await his end.

Then, a single quiet note. "there is ... one way, though you might not like it well... Gather some of the thread that binds me, and I will tell you more."


Two days later the Wilsons were taking down the tree. Sarah and Nigel were squabbling over the best way to fold the lights. Mr Wilson held up a couple of dangling ornaments to his wife. "Who gave us these, sweetheart? I don't recognise them."

Mary Wilson blinked from her position in the middle of a Sargasso of tinsel. "No idea. Oh, they're sweet. Put them in the bauble box and we can put them up next year."

Mr Wilson held the two ornaments up, dangling on their golden thread. Then he laid them down to sleep for another long yuleyear.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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

Scar Tissue
(866 words)


See Archive

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 00:21 on Jan 5, 2016

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
I am not out, but I will be late.

Apr 22, 2008

New Year, new thread!

Killer-of-Lawyers fucked around with this message at 18:54 on Jan 4, 2016


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
High Maintenance
1400 words

Mr. Schipper’s ire filled the hotel lobby like a small tempest. “I was told, dammit. I was told I’d been guaranteed room 422. Do you think I come here to have promises thrown back in my face? Is that the kind of place you’re running these days?”

The focus of Mr. Schipper’s ire was Linnea, the Salish Inn’s office manager. Linnea had arrived at the inn earlier that day to find her staff had given Mr. Schipper’s favored room way to another guest. As the old man showered her in spittle potpourried with halitosis, she envisioned the tedious punitive work she was going to assign to the desk agent who’d hosed it all up.

“There was an emergency maintenance issue in room 422, Mr. Schipper,” Linnea said. No one ever questioned the vague emergency maintenance issue. “However, I’ve prepared a suite for you at no extra charge. And,” she pulled an envelope from inside her blazer, “We’re providing you and Mrs. Schipper with a pair of theater tickets.”

Nevermind that the suite had, in fact, been under maintenance. Just three hours before, it’d been completely torn apart in preparation of some minor sprinkler repairs. Her maintenance guys had refurnished the suite with heroic speed, but not without skepticism. Something about pressure in the sprinkler pipes. Linnea wasn’t sure; she was paid to look after the staff and the guests, not the aged and aching bones of the building.

Mr. Schipper stared at the envelope containing the movie tickets, and Linnea thought she saw his lip quiver. “I don’t want your goddamned tickets. Don’t got time to waste on movie. I want our room. The one we’ve always had.”

“Look. We screwed up. And if you hate this room, I’ll comp your stay and guarantee that you’ll never, ever have to stay in the wrong room again. Deal?” Linnea said. Another impossible promise for another day.

Mr. Schipper pointed at her with one finger like a knobby rapier, said, “This place gets worse every year you work here, you know that? You tread water, that’s it. Some people used to think of the Salish Inn as their second home, but you run it like a Motel 6.”

Knowing that Schipper was trying to provoke her didn’t stop Linnea’s cheeks from flushing. She looked over his shoulder, past his heavily seamed and bitter face. Beyond the lobby’s picture windows, a ferry chugged lazily across the bay, probably full of relaxed tourists going to buy kitschy antiques from Whidbey island. Linnea forced a smile, because she couldn’t trust herself to reply without a tremor in her voice.

“Bah,” Schipper said, making a dismissive gesture. “Have one of your guys park my car and bring up my things.” He shuffled off toward the elevator, and Linnea let out a long, shaky breath.

Juan, the most senior member of her front desk staff, sidled up next to her. “So, my bad,” he said. “But there was this woman and--”

“How many memos, Juan?”

“She switched rooms five times in one hour, I swear. She’s one of those people who just steamrolls the word ‘no’ right out of your vocabulary.”

“How many memos did I send?”

“Alright. You sent three memos, plus you flagged Mr. Schipper’s reservation “Do Not Move". But--”

“And you went ahead and ignored them.”

“Well, so what? Skipper got a suite out of it. I’d be stoked.”

“It’s not about that. It’s never about that.” Linnea leaned against the front desk and pinched the bridge of her nose. “It’s about guest expectations versus reality. The front desk exists to ease the existential tension between the two. This is like, Hotels 101 stuff.”

A jingle of keys announced Ernie, the hotel’s chief of maintenance. He approached the front desk wringing his hands. “Hey boss, you’re really using that room tonight?”

“I didn’t have you guys put it back together for nothing. Remind me to buy you all lunch tomorrow, by the way,” Linnea said. You never wanted to be totally on a maintenance chief’s bad side, and she knew she was pushing it.

“I think it’s not so good,” Ernie said. “The fire inspector said if possible we shouldn’t use the room. Could spring a leak.”

“Well,” Linnea threw her hands up in the air, “It was fine last night. It’ll probably be fine tonight. That’s all I need.”

“It’ll probably be fine,” the maintenance chief echoed, looking doubtful.

Two hours later, the lobby was quiet. Outside, the sun was like a fiery ferry boat headed for the horizon.

“Hey,” Juan said to Linnea.

“No chatting. I’m still unhappy with you,” Linnea said, not looking up from her paperwork.

“Did you ever see Mrs. Schipper come in?”

That did make Linnea look up. “Actually, no. Never saw her.”

“Do you think it’s, you know, all fine? Maybe she didn’t feel like coming along this time?”

Linnea shrugged. She didn’t want to wonder too hard about Mrs. Schipper’s whereabouts, because that was getting dangerously close to caring about Mr. Schipper, and she wasn’t in the mood for that just then.

“She’s probably--”

There was a click, then a whine from the fire panel on the wall.

“Oh gently caress,” Linnea said.

Breeee! Breeee! Breeee! The fire alarm filled the whole hotel. Immediately, the desk phone started ringing with calls from upstairs. Juan went for the phone (“Yes ma’am, this is a real alarm. Yes, you’ll need to leave the building for your safety”) while Linnea investigated the fire panel’s display, which read:


Schipper’s suite. Linnea howled wordless frustration and ran for the stairs, up the six storeys, to the old man’s room.

“Mr. Schipper,” she called, pounding on his door. “Mr. Schipper, I’m so, so sorry. I’m coming in. We’re going to get you and your things out of there.”

When there was no answer, Linnea used her master key to open the door, and there was Mr. Schipper, sitting on the couch wearing only a bathrobe and a vacant stare. He didn’t react to her entrance, didn’t seem to acknowledge the water falling on him like rain from the broken sprinkler above. He was clutching something to his chest, some oblong shape wrapped loosely in a rain jacket.


“I need to keep her dry,” Mr. Schipper said. His voice was flat and quiet. Linnea crept forward into the room, not wanting to upset the old man even more than the sprinkler had.

“Keep who dry, sir?”

There was a bottle of champagne chilling in ice on the coffee table, along with two fluted glasses. The glasses were filling with water, and the room was awake with wet dripping and pattering sounds.

Mr. Schipper pulled the raincoat aside just enough for Linnea to see that he clutched an urn.

“Oh,” Linnea said. “Would that be that Mrs. Schipper?”

“I promised her I’d come to our place and scatter her ashes over the bay,” he murmured, still not looking at Linnea.

“Why don’t you come on out of here, Mr. Schipper? I’ll find you a dry robe.”

No,” Mr. Schipper snapped, then, softer, “No. This is good. This is right.” He looked up at Linnea with watery blue eyes. “I flew here in first class. Alone. I drove here alone in a rented Jaguar. At home, I drink cocktails alone in my therapeutic jetted tub. But this, this is the first time that the things around me feel like the things inside of me.” He tilted his head back and closed his eyes, letting the rain from the sprinkler fall on his face and run down the channels age had carved in his skin.

Linnea hesitated, then knelt down beside Mr. and Mrs. Schipper. “You know,” she said, “The hotel is right on the water. If you were to, say, go up onto the roof, the wind would probably see that Mrs. Schipper made it safely out to sea.”

Mr. Schipper opened his eyes and looked at her, this time with confusion and disbelief. “You can get me up there?”

Linnea grinned and dangled the master key between two fingers. “If we hurry, we can catch the sunset.”

“She’d like that,” Mr. Schipper said, and a faint smile tugged at the corners of his thin lips. “You’re not so bad, girl. Don’t listen to any grumpy old men who tell you otherwise.”

“I’ll take that under advisement, sir.”

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