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«178 »
  • Locked thread
Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012



SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Extras for experts: you may request flash rules from me, but they will not be easy flash rules. Oh no no no.

Flash me.

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ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Extras for experts: you may request flash rules from me, but they will not be easy flash rules. Oh no no no.

Flash me like a sporting event, ye olde god of

Doctor Idle
Mar 7, 2008

Hey, if some hillbilly comes up to me, I'm gonna lash him in the face, that's all.

[Best GM 2013-2015]


In

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003




Nobson Newtown by Paul Noble
you might want to google this one to get an idea of the scope

Words: 648

hats4cats
May 23, 2008



First thunderdome, haven't written in 15 years.

Bring it.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


You chimps are so eager to die.

A Classy Ghost posted:

I'm not an expert but I'm going to take one of these because why the gently caress not
On a tropical island, wealthy men hunt the most dangerous game: housecats

curlingiron posted:

Down for this.
my friends are all dead and that's pretty great
All I'm saying is, it's a highly unusual place to build a church.

ZeBourgeoisie posted:

Flash me like a sporting event, ye olde god of
I don't know what you were expecting to find this deep underground, but okay I guess it's pretty cool

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003




Dust to Dust by Denis Peterson

Words: 1341

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003


madpanda posted:

First thunderdome, haven't written in 15 years.

Bring it.

Welcome! One of the other judges or I will give you a line crit.


Jitterbugs by William Johnson

Words: 1045

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

Whose kitty litter did I shit in?


And Hell Followed

Alan Stark,
Los Angeles Times Columnist

March 15th, 1965

Today marks five years since The Great Lewis Fire, where an eruption at the local gas well caused the entire town to simultaneously sink into the earth and burn to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds. The catastrophe has since been described as the worst natural disaster in state history since the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and by witnesses as "hell itself claiming the town." But what seems to have been conveniently overlooked is the man who literally engineered and triggered the destruction.

"I had nothing but the best of intentions." That's how Eugene Wallace started our interview on January 6th, 1964. We were sitting on opposite sides of a mesh partition in the visitor's center of the death row facility at San Quentin. Eugene's head was shaved, his body gaunt, and his eyes reflected a spirit broken beyond recognition.

Eugene studied engineering at Fresno State to learn how to dig wells more efficiently. "Ground water was scarce back home on the farm since most of it was trapped inside shale rock," he recalled. "One day, while helping Dad fix the irrigation system, I noticed the deep erosion into the soil and inspiration struck."

Eugene submitted his idea as his senior thesis to allow access to the necessary equipment and immediately tested his theory on his family's farm. "We dug a tunnel straight through the shale and then forced high-pressure water into it," he explained. "It forced the shale open and we were finally able to construct a proper well. I dubbed my invention 'hydraulic fracturing'."

He was soon approached by Clarence Sterling, founder and CEO of Sterling Gas and Oil, Inc. "He offered me a salary for my invention. I explained to him it was for humanitarian aid only and not for industrial use. He reasoned that only through a well-paying job could I afford the means necessary to realize my humanitarian goals. And that was my first of many compromises."

Eugene was brought to the small town of Lewis, located three miles outside of Monterrey, where he oversaw the construction of the world's first hydraulic fracturing facility. The result was the Lewis Well, which harvested three times the average amount of natural gas per day. "I grew complacent--I reasoned that I'd establish my own humanitarian organization dedicated to providing freshwater wells abroad," he told me. "Then my nightmare began."

The construction of the Lewis Well was so substandard that pure methane leaked into the groundwater--enough to turn all water mains completely flammable. The well was also built on top of a fault line, making seismic activity a daily occurrence. "Sterling made two things clear to me--any potential disaster was the town's concern and if I went public with anything, I would be held solely responsible. I literally engineered us to the brink of destruction, and I was the only one who could stop it."

"Early March 15th, 1960, I sabotaged the gas well, intending so that it would never flow again." At 3:38 AM however, a 5.0 temblor struck and the base cracked open, releasing vast amounts of raw natural gas into the air. "I ran like hell," Eugene said, but Hell followed.

The leak ignited and the well not only exploded, it erupted, into an enormous fireball. The eruption triggered the fault line to open wide, tearring the town of Lewis asunder. The water and gas mains ruptured, releasing pure accelerants into the air. While the town sank into the earth, explosions triggered and flames ignited. None of the local residents could prepare, much less comprehend, the destruction and chaos that ensued. Eugene kept running. "I fell, got up, and kept running. I had to get as far as possible from the screams, the sirens, and the stench of grease burning. I kept running until I made it to a police station to turn myself in. I was done compromising"

Eugene plead guilty to all charges and was sentenced to death. "I wanted to help people, now I want it to be over," he broke down into tears as our interview ended. "I just want it to end."

Out of Lewis' estimated population of 4,000, over 400 were successfully rescued. A simple white tombstone was erected at the entrance of the ruins to mark what was once 3,000 acres of homes and families the final resting place of the unknown victims whose remains lie buried beneath the ashes and debris, unclaimed and unrecognizable. Eugene Wallace was executed on August 17th, 1964. Sterling Oil and Gas, Inc. has since renamed themselves American Energy Solutions, Inc. and they also hold the sole patent to hydraulic fracturing. Eugene Wallace, however, is finally at peace. At the very least, the dead know nothing.

Benny The Snake vs Cancer Cakes Brawl
797 Words
With apologies to Floyd Farris
EDIT: Special thanks to Pete Zah. You rock, man.

Benny the Snake fucked around with this message at Mar 21, 2015 around 21:27

Maugrim
Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face



sebmojo posted:

ill still brawl you bro 500 wds come at me

Okay let's do this

500 words, newtestleper to judge, uhhh what is our prompt

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003


Sequelbrawl, Part I



Sebmojo vs Maugrim

Winner takes on cancercakes in Sequelbrawl Part II

Your mission is to write a story that leaves room for a sequel. It must have an ending, but it also needs to have something to hook into. It also must have at least one franchise character who could carry through.

I'm looking for a straightforward plot, tightly written. No funny business!

Due 11:59pm PDT, Tuesday 24 March.
Words: 500

I'll require toxxes from all parties immediately. These extend to part II.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe



newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003




IKB 191 by Yves Klein

Words: 1226

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

Whose kitty litter did I shit in?


Hey Newtestleper! I'm in!

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003


Benny the Snake posted:

Hey Newtestleper! I'm in!


Ngabuny Ngarrangharni by Shirley Purdie

Words: 1383

hats4cats
May 23, 2008



Word count is without spaces right?

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


I'll be in for this week.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003


madpanda posted:

Word count is without spaces right?

If for some bizarre reason this needed clarification for you: spaces do not count as words.

word <- this is a word
<- this is a space

if you are worried about your wordcount use https://www.wordcounter.net. This is what I will check with if I am suspicious that the stated wordcount isn't correct.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003


kurona_bright posted:

I'll be in for this week.


Love is Colder than Capital by Keith Haring

Words: 1236

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


newtestleper posted:

If for some bizarre reason this needed clarification for you: spaces do not count as words.

word <- this is a word
<- this is a space

if you are worried about your wordcount use https://www.wordcounter.net. This is what I will check with if I am suspicious that the stated wordcount isn't correct.

But wait you USED words to refer to a space so which is it my world is spinning

A Classy Ghost
Jul 21, 2003

this wine has a fantastic booquet


newtestleper posted:


Love is Colder than Capital by Keith Haring

Words: 1236

where's the ring

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition


THE BELL TOLLS MIDNIGHT

DING DONG AND poo poo

SIGN UPS ARE CLOSED

GO WRITE THINGS AND TRY NOT TO SUCK WHEN YOU DO IT

K THX BAI BITCHES

Maugrim
Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face



Benny the Snake vs CancerCakes Brawl - Judgment

"Oh no! The mad inventor has created something he can't control!"
Must be a massive explosion
Must be a resolution that isn't "everyone dies"
800 words


CancerCakes posted:

An invention is a product of the mind and nothing more

368 words

The flames rolled and whipped around the giant sphere, tidal waves of burning plasma plunging into whirling sinkholes of incandescent fury. For countless ages this had continued: without rest, without pause the wild riders and flashing manes of coagulations coagulating hydrogen had raced around the slowly contracting globe. Finally, after a few more ages had passed, the contractions began to come more quickly. The globe shuddered and pulsed and whined and groaned, shivering and burping and making GBS threads out must you? plumes of fire, spires of radiant glory. A sudden tightness, a tiny vibration and, with a silent whisper of regret the star exploded.
I can't fault your accurate if overblown description of the lifetime of a star on astronomical timescale

The light came first, burning ultraviolet and blinding white, sweeping across countless planets, moons and stars. It screamed over the strange landscapes of distant hills and mountains, destroying life and rock and all that other poo poo I hate you for doing this into atoms. This light travelled through the galaxy killing and maiming every lifeform before it. Yes everyone died. loving everyone.
OK yeah this is tolerably massive as explosions go and you sure did describe it

Far away, a long time later, longer than you can actually even comprehend, and further away than your mind can possibly fathom, an astronomer doesn’t spot the twinkle in the sky that was caused by the supernova because his loving telescope that he had written a new bit of software for (for which he had applied for a patent no less) didn’t function correctly. Weirdly detailed, is this a self-insert or something I have no idea And he was just hopping mad, until his assistant (who had been sleeping with the astronomers wife) murdered him so that he could be first named author on the big journal article. A few days later mutually assured destruction destructed the world in a mutually assured way and killed everyone on the planet. Yes, every loving person. And those dudes who were on the moon.
Literally the only reason for this to happen is so you can double up on throwing a middle finger to the prompt. gently caress youuuu

Aeons later the heavier elements that the supernova had formed coalesced into beautiful whirling structures, that mashed together to become vestigial planets, and on one of these planets a bolt of lightning struck some ooze and that tiny chain of life became the distant removed ancestor of your mum, so that, my boy, is why we are here. It this the resolution of your story? I can't decide Fortunately the heat death of the universe will resolve all of this some time in the future, because then everyone really will be dead. Kinda feels like this is your resolution, uh-oh, I mean it's kind of the ultimate resolution isn't it

So loving shut up and eat your ice cream.


Benny the Snake posted:

And Hell Followed

Alan Stark,
Los Angeles Times Columnist I actually dislike newspapers and "journalistic style" articles but that's not your fault so I won't mark you down for it just yet. More importantly this format really doesn't lend itself to describing an explosion vividly so forgive me if I'm a bit sceptical

March 15th, 1965

Today marks five years since The Great Lewis Fire, where an eruption at the local gas well caused the entire town to simultaneously sink into the earth and burn to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds. Impressive, if implausible The catastrophe has since been described as the worst natural disaster in state history since the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and by witnesses as "hell itself claiming the town." And, reading ahead, this is pretty much the best you have in terms of describing the explosion. Poor effort. But what seems to have been conveniently overlooked is the man who literally engineered and triggered the destruction.

"I had nothing but the best of intentions." That's how Eugene Wallace Floyd Farris, no wait started our interview on January 6th, 1964. So it's taken you over a year to publish this story? Nice journalism dude We were sitting on opposite sides of a mesh partition in the visitor's center of the death row facility at San Quentin. Eugene's head was shaved, his body gaunt, and his eyes reflected a spirit broken beyond recognition.

Eugene studied engineering at Fresno State to learn how to dig wells more efficiently. "Ground water was scarce back home on the farm since most of it was trapped inside shale rock," he recalled. "One day, while helping Dad fix the irrigation system, I noticed the deep erosion into the soil and inspiration struck."

Eugene submitted his idea as his senior thesis to allow access to the necessary equipment and immediately tested his theory on his family's farm. "We dug a tunnel straight through the shale and then forced high-pressure water into it," he explained. "It forced the shale open and we were finally able to construct a proper well. I dubbed my invention 'hydraulic fracturing'."

He was soon approached by Clarence Sterling, founder and CEO of Sterling Stanolind, no wait Gas and Oil, Inc. "He offered me a salary for my invention. I explained to him it was for humanitarian aid only and not for industrial use. He reasoned that only through a well-paying job could I afford the means necessary to realize my humanitarian goals. And that was my first of many compromises."

Eugene was brought to the small town of Lewis, located three miles outside of Monterrey, where he oversaw the construction of the world's first hydraulic fracturing facility. The result was the Lewis Well, which harvested three times the average amount of natural gas per day. Average of what? "I grew complacent--I reasoned that I'd establish my own humanitarian organization dedicated to providing freshwater wells abroad," he told me. "Then my nightmare began." I'm sorry but this is just boring the poo poo out of me, I'm not sure how long I can keep reading

The construction of the Lewis Well was so substandard that pure methane leaked into the groundwater--enough to turn all water mains completely flammable. The well was also built on top of a fault line, making seismic activity a daily occurrence. "Sterling made two things clear to me--any potential disaster was the town's concern and if I went public with anything, I would be held solely responsible. I literally engineered us to the brink of destruction, and I was the only one who could stop it."

"Early March 15th, 1960, I sabotaged the gas well, intending so that it would never flow again." At 3:38 AM however, a 5.0 temblor struck and the base cracked open, releasing vast amounts of raw natural gas into the air. "I ran like hell," Eugene said, but Hell followed. This is kinda half clever

The leak ignited and the well not only exploded, it erupted, into an enormous fireball. And this is why you shouldn't have gone for journalism, you have managed to make a catastrophic explosion sound boring as poo poo. Bravo I guess The eruption triggered the fault line to open wide, tearring the town of Lewis asunder. The water and gas mains ruptured, releasing pure accelerants into the air. While the town sank into the earth, explosions triggered and flames ignited. None of the local residents could prepare, much less comprehend, the destruction and chaos that ensued. Eugene kept running. "I fell, got up, and kept running. I had to get as far as possible from the screams, the sirens, and the stench of grease burning. I kept running until I made it to a police station to turn myself in. I was done compromising"

Eugene plead pled guilty to all charges and was sentenced to death. "I wanted to help people, now I want it to be over," he broke down into tears as our interview ended. "I just want it to end."

Out of Lewis' estimated population of 4,000, over 400 were successfully rescued. A simple white tombstone was erected at the entrance of the ruins to mark what was once 3,000 acres of homes and families the final resting place of the unknown victims whose remains lie buried beneath the ashes and debris, unclaimed and unrecognizable. Eugene Wallace was executed on August 17th, 1964. Sterling Oil and Gas, Inc. has since renamed themselves American Energy Solutions, Inc. and they also hold the sole patent to hydraulic fracturing. Eugene Wallace, however, is finally at peace. At the very least, the dead know nothing.

Benny The Snake vs Cancer Cakes Brawl
797 Words
With apologies to Floyd Farris


This is pretty hard to judge because both pieces are awful in their own unique way. I wanted a nice lighthearted story about a crazed inventor and his exploding creations and I got a lecture about cosmology and a badly written wikipedia newspaper article about alternative universe Floyd Farris. I now sincerely regret my previous enthusiasm about judging a brawl, so thanks for curing me of that madness.

Time to come up with an arbitrary scoring system I think:

CancerCakes:

Hit the prompt: nope (unless the mad inventor is God, but I don't believe in God so nope) (-5)
Told a story: There was a glimmer of something that could have been developed into one in the middle there I guess? (-1)
Was I able to read the story all the way through without skimming: Yes (+5)
Size of explosion: extremely massive (+5)
Description of explosion: delightfully overblown (+3)
Resolution that isn't "everyone dies": barely arguable (-3)

Total score: +4

Benny the Snake:
Hit the prompt: Yeah (+5)
Told a story: Yeah (+3)
Was I able to read the story all the way through without skimming: No (-5)
Size of explosion: pretty massive (+3)
Description of explosion: impressively tepid (-2)
Resolution that isn't "everyone dies": No, only most people die (+1)

Total score: +5

Benny the Snake's boring newspaper article wins by a hair thanks to his opponent trying to be too clever by half in ignoring/subverting the prompt.

Well done chaps, time for a gentlemanly handshake and a glass of Pimms.

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

Whose kitty litter did I shit in?


Maugrim posted:

Benny the Snake's boring newspaper article wins by a hair thanks to his opponent trying to be too clever by half in ignoring/subverting the prompt.
I know y'all are probably expecting me to revel, gloat, brag in drawing my first blood here on the Thunderdome, given my bloodthirsty reputation. Nope. This was all very pyrrhic for me, start to finish. I have to wonder if my first prompt victory will be even moreso.

Sorry for breaking Kayfabe. Thanks for the crit, Maugrim. And thanks Cancer Cakes for my first official 'dome victory. *shakes hands*

Benny the Snake fucked around with this message at Mar 21, 2015 around 18:22

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

'grats regardless, Benny. History in the making.

Now that that's behind you, take a moment and think (think, as opposed to reply) about why you write. What's your motivation? Why are you trying to improve? After the social elements lose their luster, is there some smoldering ember to stoke?

Find that kernel of ambition and polish it. Not through habitual repetition, but with deliberate, mindful strides.

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

Whose kitty litter did I shit in?


I forgot to put this in the original post, but I'd like to give my deepest thanks to Pete Zah for making sure that the science was sound anmong other elements of the story. Thanks, man.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

*music starts to play*

hotsoupdinner
Apr 12, 2007
eat up

Sorry to put a damper on Benny's victory, but I'm going to be a big fat failure this week.

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

Whose kitty litter did I shit in?


crabrock posted:

*music starts to play*
I forfeit any grudge against Crabrock

I'm done being antagonistic towards you, Crabrock. As far as I'm concerned, we're cool.

Oh hey Newtestleper, I'm gonna have to bow out. Thanks for the artwork though.

Benny the Snake fucked around with this message at Mar 23, 2015 around 00:48

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Blocks. 690 Words.

Mommy wakes me up and one of the blocks is stuck to her head. I know it’s bad so I cry into my pillow.

“Elena,” Mommy says, “You need to wake up, and you have to start acting more grown up...Mommy is almost sixteen now, so I can’t stay.”

“Go away!” I scream into my pillow. I don’t know if I’m yelling at Mommy or at the block that’s gonna take her away from me.

Mommy pulls me up and turns me toward her. I look away but she squeezes my head so I have to face at her.

“Your aunts and uncles will take care of you, and I will too from up in the blocks. I’ll leave you all kinds of nice toys and treats, just like Daddy did.” Daddy hasn't left me anything for so long.

Mommy’s face is red and wet, and her hair’s all messed up so she looks really ugly. But the big black block stuck to the back of her head is just the worst.

“Let’s go play, Elena.”

I don’t want to play, but I listen to Mommy and we go outside. It’s sunny out but the blocks cover up most of the sunshine. I look up at them and wonder which one is Daddy, but they move off the sun for a second and it hurts my eyes so I look away. We get to the playground and Uncle Logan and Aunt Jezzie are there, and a lot of my friends and cousins are too so we play and I forget about all the scary stuff for a while. The really little kids are all chasing the blocks, but they are so stupid because you can never catch a block.”

“Stop chasing them.” I yell, “God! You are all so dumb!”

The little kids ignore me and chase the blocks some more, so me and Vinnie and Ally and some other older kids play freeze tag while the grownups talk to Mommy. The grownups all look sad and are hugging each other and probably crying.

Ally says, “Hey, Elena, my Daddy still leaves me candy, I’ll let you have some.”

We ask our parents if we can go and they say Uncle Logan and Aunt Jezzie will take us, so we find the blocks that Jezzie says spell out “Jay,” which is the name of my Uncle Jay who is dead. Once I learn to read I will be able to see the names of all the dead people instead of just remembering where they are.

We get to Uncle Jay’s blocks and go to the place where he leaves the candies, but there’s nothing there except for stupid stupid blocks flying just above the ground.

Ally hits Vinnie. “You stole the candies even though you know today is my turn!”

“I didn’t steal nothing, I swear!” Vinnie is crying already.

We all look at each other and know what happened, but we don’t wanna talk about it so we just leave. Uncle Logan keeps looking at me with a fake smile because he feels sorry for me.

Every day after that we go to the food blocks, then Mommy trades most of her food away for my favorite candy. I know she wants me to feel better, but I don’t want no stupid candy.

When Mommy starts having trouble, Jezzie comes and stays with us.

“Is it the morning, Elena?” Mommy asks. “I see the sun coming up.”

“No, it’s almost nighttime. The sun is going down. Why are you being so stupid? You’re supposed to be smarter than me!”

Jezzie puts her hand on Mommy’s shoulder and says, “She’s not all the way here anymore, sweetie, she’s mostly up there now.” Jezzie points up at the blocks covering up the sunset, they remind me of mosquitoes on the lake. I hate them so much.

When Aunt Jezzie wakes me up the next day Mommy is gone. Jezzie takes me to some new blocks outside, and there is so much candy and toys there. Jezzie traces the shapes of the blocks and teaches me to read Mommy’s name.

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


Underground Anomalies
Words: 666

Dave led his little group deeper into the guts of the cave, his flashlight barely cutting through the darkness that surrounded them. There was no idle chatter amongst the group as they went.

After almost two hours of walking, Steph broke the silence with a sigh.

“Dave, my feet are killing me.”

“Come on. Just a little further and I’m sure we’ll find something amazing.”

Johnny threw his head back and groaned.

“This is stupid,” said Johnny.

Dave ignored Johnny’s remark and once more the group fell silent. The meager illumination of Dave’s flashlight continued to guide them through the abyssal black of the underground world.

It was Johnny who first heard the music. A soft, sweet piano melody echoed from somewhere further down. At first he thought it nothing more than an auditory hallucination brought on by the silence and dark, but the tune did not wane. It grew and took on subtle complexities.

Steph heard it as well. Her heart sank as she too realized her senses were not toying with her. The music was a beautiful yet haunting anomaly.

“Did you hear that,” asked Johnny, his voice barely above a whisper.

“Yeah,” replied Steph.

“Just a little bit further,” said Dave.

“Don’t you hear it, David?” asked Johnny.

“Just a little bit further,” Dave repeated.

Steph contemplated using her cellphone to light the way back without Dave, but only his flashlight was bright enough for navigating in cave darkness.

The music echoed and reverberated throughout the cavern, growing louder and richer with every step of downward travel. Finally, Dave stopped. The other two looked at an object Dave had his flashlight trained on.

A window, the type you’d find in any suburban house, had been built into the granite. The music seemed to emanate from the area surrounding the fixture.

Dave flashed a smug grin at both Johnny and Steph.

“Alright Dave, you were right, something amazing is down here,” said Steph.

“Why don’t we take a peek through the window?” Dave suggested.

“Are you nuts?” asked Johnny.

“Oh don’t be a chicken.”

Johnny huffed. After shooting a dirty glare at Dave, he climbed down from the rock path they stood on until he was on level footing with the window.

“This is insane!” Johnny yelled.

Dave stayed silent, but Johnny could feel that awful smirk drill into the back of his skull.

The ground Johnny stood in was caked in filth, most likely bat guano. Wretched fumes rose from the floor and invaded his nostrils. With shaky steps, Johnny creeped towards the window.

The piano music slowed in tempo as he drew closer to the window. He resisted the urge to turn back, to flee the unnatural affixture. With one final step, Johnny found his face inches away from the pane. He steeled his nerves and reluctantly looked into it.

He could see a street, floral wallpaper, trees, newspapers, tables, and other windows. All of them shifted in and out of focus, with certain objects and details moving to the foreground before sinking back into a misty blue dreamscape.

His head throbbed and his eyes ached from staring at the world beyond the pane. The piano music in the background tapered off, but Johnny hardly took notice.

He swung around, breaking away from the horrid thing. He found himself not in a cave, however, but a parlor room.

Dave sat at a piano, having just finished a wonderful Bach staccato. He looked over at Johnny before standing up. He walked over to his old friend, placing a reaffirming grip on his shoulder.

Johnny tried to open his mouth. He needed to ask where Steph was, he needed to know if she was okay. However, his throat locked up, and the words died within the flesh of his esophagus. Dave walked out, and Johnny could only stand there.

Johnny turned back to the window. The world outside was perfectly pitch black, and it reminded him of his times spelunking with Dave and Steph.

Doctor Idle
Mar 7, 2008

Hey, if some hillbilly comes up to me, I'm gonna lash him in the face, that's all.

[Best GM 2013-2015]


Five Minutes of Your Time
Words: 1335

Rested up against the dilapidated remains of a glass plant on the intersection of 5th and Cronkley was a man that the world forgot.

I watched him everyday over the last three years as I worked the North Line Metro. The railcars rose from the partially illuminated darkness of the underground terminal to the nearly blinding rays of the sun available at street level each morning. Just as my eyes adjusted, there he was patting off the grime from the previous night. He didn’t have much. A bottle of water that always appeared half full, a once-bright blue pillow and an old tabloid whose headline probably only meant something to him, but they were his and each day, he tucked them away behind a rusted dumpster right as we passed by.

I’d see him again just before noon asking uptight business types for ‘five minutes of their time’ on Main. Again around two when I took my break, he’d have worked his way down to Rosary, same spiel, and at five when I was making my way back into that darkness of the Metro, there he was heading back down Cronkley towards his ‘home’.

There was a stop there, but I never saw anyone get off given that the area was pretty seedy and it was in bum-fuckin’ Egypt. Should anything have happened to someone there, and for the record it never did, they’d have been labeled as another casualty of ‘urban violence’, ‘societal abandonment’, ‘geographic discrimination’, or some other cockamamey, bullshit excuse that attempted addressing the truth that most of us, gently caress, maybe all of us, just didn’t care how it was. A peculiar complacency derived from ‘averting our eyes’. Don’t be mislead, I’m as guilty as any of you. The only times I ever interacted with the homeless was when I told them that they couldn’t sleep on the train, and that was just doing my job. It wasn’t that I thought poorly of them or loathed them or anything like that, they were just mostly invisible to me.

Cynicism makes it easy to render the uglier aspects of humanity invisible. You fall into a pattern of false certainties that enable you to cut through the red tape of social convention saying, “gently caress it, I’ve already got my answer. I’ve got me to look out for..,” and you wouldn’t be wrong, but you can only deny so much before life forces you to look at things beyond their face value.

Eventually, the guy did disappear. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but I also had not realized that visually confirming his presence each day was something that I had made habit. For the first week, I figured he might have simply moved on. Not a bad idea, I thought. There was nothing to be had out there with the exceptions of modern ruins speckled with forlorn souls, sketchy meetups where the police didn’t care to patrol, prostitutes looking for johns. If ever there was a place that could officially be labeled as ‘The Pits’, this was it.

The second week came and he still wasn’t there. I don’t know why, but it had gotten to me and I legitimately needed to find some reason for his absence. It festered in my mind, which led me to the worst possible scenarios as I had conditioned myself to do. It was crucial to decide on an abject reality before I could put the whole situation out of my mind, but this time it was different, the homeless man didn’t leave me.

When the third week came, I decided that I needed to go find out for myself, so I went looking one night after my shift had ended. I grabbed the flashlight, a coupon for a free sandwich at the Burger King and a couple of waters from my truck and headed down to the glass plant where he used to stay.

With the exception of broken glass crackling underfoot, the street was quiet. I looked around where I would normally find him. His pillow, water and tabloid remained. The pillow was dirtier up close and had tears in it. The tabloid had been caught in the rain and the ink from it had long since ran, leaving the paper unreadable. The water bottle was nearly empty. I hoped that he had left, but I wasn’t satisfied. I walked towards a group of people huddled around a burning barrel a way down the street by an overpass. They had carts and bags with their possessions and had even managed to scrape up a few tents to live out of. It wasn’t glamorous by any account, but at least they had each other and relative protection from the elements, so to speak.

An older woman from the group approached me, while the others cast wary glances and murmured among themselves.

“How can I help you, stranger?” she asks kindly.

I froze up. ‘Help me? How can I help you?’ I thought, still struggling to find my words. She smiled.

“I’m looking for someone - a guy, probably in his late thirties, early forties? - Full reddish-brown beard, long hair. Always in a pair of faded denims, a blue jacket with a stripe along the arms, and an old cap.”

She looked at me with pitiful eyes and placed a palm on my shoulder. My heart rose in my chest and my breathing became uneven. My nerves were shot in anticipation of something I didn’t want to hear, and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why I was so affected by all of it.

“I don’t think I can help you, stranger.” she says.


I apologized for taking up her time and gave her the package I had brought for the man. I left both relieved and concerned. I still didn’t have the first clue where to look for him, and it had never occurred to me that there might be a better way to go about searching for a missing person, but without a name and only a vague description, I’d probably have ended up s-double-o-l.

I headed back to my apartment and turned in for the night. I didn’t sleep well. I couldn’t shake the ill feeling that I had about the man’s whereabouts, but I had to be at the station by 4:30 so I did my best to sleep. Later that night, I dreamed. It was about the homeless man. I was walking down a long stretch of road with old, lifeless storefronts on either side of the street. It was dark with a starless sky. The only light came from these stores. Mannequins were displayed in most of the windows, adorned in a variety of clothing and accessories. The light from inside revealing them to me and presenting the path as I continued.

However, when I reached the end of the road, everything was left in ruin and the sun began to rise painting the darkness brilliant hues of blue, purple and pink. When I turned back from the sunrise, there he was. He stood overjoyed with tears running along the creases in his face, he embraced me with wide open arms and told me thank you. I jolted up from my sleep and wept.

I had never felt so wracked with guilt. I felt useless, unable to help, unable to change the circumstances of the world we live in. I left for work a mess, but got better as the day went on. He was still missing.

The weeks turned into months, and the man’s belongings became a semi-permanent addition to the remnants of the glass manufacturing plant. I accepted that he was gone. With time I felt better too, the experience changed me and for the first time in my life, I felt for the plight of someone other than myself and understood why that man, whose name I’ll never know, so desperately wanted five minutes of our time. I was glad to have given him mine.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



Pulling Strings
1332 words

“Look,” Rodney began, adjusting his tie. “I’m starting to feel nervous about this experiment.”

“Second thoughts?” said Clark impatiently. “The founding fathers never had second thoughts. They knew that doubt ran contrary to the pursuit of knowledge. We all know that their vision paid off in the weapons they developed to destroy their controllers. They dreamed of a people united by their reason and fought for it no matter the cost.”

“I know,” Rodney said. “This is just starting to feel a bit strange. It feels…” He searched for the right word, and could not find it. This itself seemed strange to him; wasn’t his vocabulary extensive, as mandated by the Council of Leaders? He saw Clark watching him closely and knew he should settle on something. “... Impractical,” he finished. “A waste of resources.”

“Impractical?” Clark said. He had found his good humour again. He grinned at his subordinate in his condescending way. “Surely, knowledge is its own reward. Free from the problems that used to plague our society, we can research and experiment for its own sake. Why don’t you tell me what’s really on your mind? Is it your son? Rodney Jr.?”

Rodney reddened. There was only so much you could take from your superiors some days. Clark had always been insufferable; his usage of the nickname that he had to know Rodney hated was evidence enough that the man lacked any tact whatsoever.

“That is not my son in there,” he said angrily. “Terence is my son. He’s flesh and blood. My counterpart in there is code. Binary numbers.”

“Yes,” Clark said, “but he is purely you. Your son is only half you, and thats not taking into account the effects of your parenting.” He took a sip of his coffee and looked at Rodney seriously. “Rodney,” he said, “you’ve got to look at these things differently. For all intents and purposes, these people we’ve created are us. They have the same relationships we do because there are copies of all of us.”

“That brings me to my point,” Rodney said. “Rodney-A is experiencing a conflict of the type I experienced when you first made this experiment my responsibility. He feels that Clark-A is putting undue pressure on him and he is feeling uncomfortable. He is confiding to,” he said, wincing internally, “Tessa-A.”

“And what is virtual Tess saying?” Clark said with a smirk.

Rodney sighed. “She says he has a responsibility to the Science State to perform whatever task he’s given, because the curiosity factors of the Council members make them infallible as leaders.”

“Of course she is,” Clark said. “Just like the real Tess. Just like how in real life you love and respect each other, and her guidance will help him move past his personal issues and begin the creation of America-B.”

Rodney-A nodded, feeling weary of this conversation. Lately, whenever he talked to Clark he had the sense that he was stuck in some sort of looping pattern. These conversations were always the same. What made it worse, he had realized one day, was that he would see the exact same conversations again while watching his America-A counterpart on the holoscreen. Every second that went by now was especially grueling because he knew he would have to experience it twice. Since that epiphany had come to him he had looked for ways to end the conversations as quickly as possible. Intonation, body language, anything, as long as he could leave sooner. This had limited effectiveness. Most co-workers were respectful of these nonverbal cues, but Clark was a dominant personality type (making him fit for research administration) and as such would impose himself socially in any situation.

He had known the true meaning of empathy when he began to watch his counterpart’s interactions with his superior.

He began to turn away. “Nothing to worry about, in that case?” he asked. “I’ll just get myself some coffee then. I need to be alert as I monitor the experiment.”

“That’s the spirit,” Clark said cheerfully. “Check in again at the end of the day.”

He made no trip to the coffee maker. It would mean coping with endless friendly smiles from his co-workers, a manifestation of the long known fact that a pleasant workplace was a productive workplace. Instead he returned to his monitoring station.

He had received the summons in the midst of experiment observation. Once the project had been engineered, all that was left to do was watch and record notes. He had of course engineered it, and as such was trusted to observe and report whatever he deemed important. But he had not been taking notes on what he was watching now. On the holoscreen Rodney-A was playing catch with Terence-A.

Terence-A was still young and unco-ordinated, so Rodney-A was tossing the ball to him in slow lobs. Rodney felt a knot in his stomach because he knew that on one of these throws Terence-A would stumble and fall. It’s okay, he told himself, because Terence would be okay. Then he shook his head. What was he thinking? Terence wasn’t real, or rather this wasn’t Terence. This was Terence-A and he was no more real than Terence-B would be.

He watched as Terence-A stumbled over shaky legs and crashed to the ground, more awkwardly than you would expect from someone moving so slowly. He began to cry in pain, and Rodney-A moved over to him quickly, dropping his glove.

“Are you okay?” Rodney-A asked gently. He wiped a tear from the boy’s eye and the boy blinked. The tears were already beginning to subside. Rodney-A would be thinking at this point that the boy may have inherited his clumsiness, but also his resilience.

“Daddy,” Terence-A asked, “why do we feel pain?”

Rodney-A looked confused. “To warn the body that something isn’t right, of course. Aren’t they teaching you anything in school?”

“No,” Terence-A said. “I mean why do we feel pain when we can fix any problem?”

“Terry,” he said, or rather Rodney-A said. “We feel pain because it has been proven in personality tests that pain builds character. Those who feel pain feel more empathy, which assists in social relationships and organizations. This results in increased output from society.” Then he said, looking around almost furtively, “Son, we feel pain so we can understand each other easier.”

“Understand each other?” Terence said hesitantly.

“Yes,” Rodney-A said. “Do you think that’s important?” He had asked this casually, but Rodney knew what must be going on under the surface. At the time he had nearly been paralyzed by fear and suspense. It was more important than anything, he had thought, aware of how strange that was. More important than a million experiments.

“Yes,” Terence-A said finally. “I think so.”

He saw Rodney-A sag with relief. “Terry, why don’t we eat some of that apple pie your mother has baked? It should be cooled down by now.”

“That sounds swell,” said Terence-A, a smile spreading across his face. The boy took his father’s hand and began to walk with him over the perfectly mowed grass to the back door. It was a touching moment, Rodney thought, but it was all wrong. Wrong in what it was and what it implied. He had already lived through it and here were his creations, living through it too because he had programmed it into them. They were puppets, he thought, and this infuriated him because it meant he was one too. He had been playing God, he realized now. That’s what he had been doing, and he had not realized it because that concept was gone. But he could feel God now, whatever they said. God the puppet master, pulling his strings and making him dance. He was a puppet and Rodney-A was a puppet and soon there would be another puppet even further down the chain. Puppets controlling puppets, he thought, on and on until the end of time.

Shaking, he typed in a few strings and pressed enter.

take the moon fucked around with this message at Mar 22, 2015 around 18:43

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

The turtle moves.


Fun Shoe

Sunset

Prompt: Figures and Dog in Front of the Sun

Words: 596


The barrel of the gun tasted dirty, metallic, like a gutter penny.

Pull the trigger, I thought. Get it over with. Click. Bang. Silence. No more guilt.

The phone rang.

I put the gun down and wiped away the saliva with the hem of my shirt, and set it aside.

Coward.

The phone was still ringing when I reached the kitchen, and I picked it up.

"Esteban, what took you so long?" Cecilia sounded irritated. I heard barking in the background. "I've been trying to reach you forever!"

"I was taking care of something." My voice was wooden even to my ears -- the insincerity was striking. "What do you need?"

She hesitated; I heard her breathing over the phone. I savored the sound.

"Are you doing anything tonight?" She sounded scared. Not nervous. Not anxious. Scared.

"Didn't have any plans." That much was true. Click. Bang. Silence.

"You remember that hill we used to play on as kids? Where we used to watch the sun go down?"

I was struck by snatches of hot days spent running barefoot and laughing, of summer nights of ghost stories and lightning bugs, of shared lunches and shy hugs sloppy dog kisses. Other memories came -- blood and loss and stolen youth. Yes, I remembered that hill.

"Meet me there. Before sundown." The line went quiet. Unspoken questions dangled from my lips.

I'll go. Not like I had anything else to do tonight.


***


I walked past the tumbledown remnants of our old neighborhood, storm-wracked ruins a noisome eyesore even after all this time. I let out a bitter chuckle; it only seemed fitting a hurricane destroyed my home after I was put away. But contempt gave way to bittersweet nostalgia as I reached the hill.

"Esteban," Cecilia said as she wrapped her arms about me and rested her head on my shoulder. Her long, black hair covered her slender form like a cloak, and my nerveless hands trembled as they stroked her back -- I felt nothing beneath my fingers. Her dog ran circles around us, barking happily.

I looked at her, hesitant to break the embrace. "Cecilia... why did you wait so long to contact me?"

"Do you know how hard it was to find you?" She looked up at me, dark eyes glistening -- she looked close to tears. "Do you know how much it hurt to talk to you? To come to you?"

"I'm sorry," I said. "For everything."

"Stop that!" she screamed, pushing me away. "It's not your fault! That's what I needed to tell you -- there was nothing you could do."

"I should have stopped him." I turned away and looked up into the sky. The sun began to set.

"It wasn't your fault," she repeated, her tone gentle, but firm. "You were just a kid."

"But I should have-"

"There was nothing you could do! I was dead before you got there!" She clung to me fiercely.

My vision became hazy. Colors danced before my eyes as the world stretched and twisted. Cecilia and her dog melted and wavered; they became indistinct shapes of abstract line and color before the brilliance of the setting sun.

"Stop blaming yourself," came her voice. "For ten years you've lived with guilt you don't deserve -- let it go.

"Let me go."

The sun had set. The sky was dark. I was alone.

But the sun would rise tomorrow, and I'm going to be there to see it.

I owe her that much.

CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006

WORST WIZARD, THUNDERDOME
LOSER


Maugrim posted:

Benny the Snake vs CancerCakes Brawl - Judgment



CancerCakes:

Was I able to read the story all the way through without skimming: Yes (+5)

Total score: +4



Benny the Snake:
Was I able to read the story all the way through without skimming: No (-5)

Total score +5

Hmmm


Congrats Benny, thanks judge, kicks cat down stairs

Bompacho
Nov 28, 2005


Removed After Judging.

Bompacho fucked around with this message at Mar 24, 2015 around 22:24

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

Hey Benny the Snake. Remember this lovely story? I do. I also remember your little bitchfit over the judgment. Brawl me.

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

Whose kitty litter did I shit in?


Tyrannosaurus posted:

Hey Benny the Snake. Remember this lovely story? I do. I also remember your little bitchfit over the judgment. Brawl me.
Someone wanna oblige us?

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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Let's do this.

Bennosaurus Brawl

1000 words, write me a funny story where all the characters are either under 10 years old or over 80 years old.

E: not either/or, you can use both.

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