Ha ha, we all respond to the fake account like it's real.
|# ? Aug 15, 2015 21:54|
|# ? Sep 20, 2021 01:50|
Because just going "you are a fake account" is boring.
Edit: Also I didn't know CC was a fake account until someone told me in IRC after my post.
Flesnolk fucked around with this message at 23:31 on Aug 15, 2015
|# ? Aug 15, 2015 22:21|
You don't have to say anything at all.
|# ? Aug 15, 2015 22:54|
Ha ha, we all respond to the fake account like it's real.
you should fight it, djeser
|# ? Aug 15, 2015 23:02|
THIS INJUSTICE WILL NOT STAND. I DEMAND RETRIBUTION! VENGEANCE! JUSTICE!
also ^^ wattupppp ^^
|# ? Aug 15, 2015 23:09|
anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:58 on Oct 27, 2015
|# ? Aug 16, 2015 00:15|
Taken Out by the Trash
Edward reclined on the couch, eyes wide, focusing on the dancing pixels of the gaming device in his white-knuckled hands.
"Eddy, what the hell are you doing?"
Edward didn't hear his roommate's exasperated question, so absorbed was he in the game. Rock types are weak against water types! I got this! Yeah!
The 3DS was cruelly yanked from his skinny hands; Edward yelped and reached, like a man for grabbing for his own beating heart as it was torn from his chest.
Edward's roommate Ogre -- a nickname; his full name was Oscar Dorian Garbo -- looked at the toy with distaste, scratching his greasy muttonchops with thick fingers. "Jeez Eddy, it's no wonder you're single. This is what you do on Friday nights?"
Edward leapt from the couch and swiped the 3DS, landing on the floor with a graceful flourish. He turned to Ogre, free hand on his hip. "I don't judge what you do. At least I don't come home every other night with a different girl."
"You don't judge what I do 'cuz you don't know what I do," Ogre replied not unkindly. He took off his ballcap and scratched his long, lank hair. "And what I do on my time is my business -- I work for a living, you know. Mommy and daddy don't pay my rent."
"Nor do my parents pay mine," Edward said, scrawny chest puffed proudly outward. He didn't mention that they owned the house in which he and Ogre stayed -- it was irrelevant. "I earn my money."
"Doing what?" Ogre leaned in, trying not to loom over the sparsely built younger man and failing. "Seriously, I'm genuinely curious."
"I design websites," Edward said.
"Websites?" Ogre raised a brow. "That's not a big moneymaker."
"I also draw," Edward said, hesitating a little and looking away. "Erm. Patreon. I post content and people donate. I'm... I'm pretty popular."
"Can I see your stuff?" Ogre turned his head toward Edward's tablet.
"Uhm," Edward's eyes glanced about. "S-sure. Let me-"
With a speed greater than a man of his girth had any right to, Ogre snagged the tablet and flipped through the folders.
"It's in the folder marked 'recent art,'" Edward said, sounding even more nervous.
"Actually," Ogre said, "I'm kinda interested in the one labeled 'explicit 18+.'"
Ogre paused, mouth gaping. Then he looked at Edward and guffawed, flipping through the images with a broad grin. "No wonder you're paying your way -- you got talent, buddy! I mean, some of the subjects are weird-"
"They were commissioned! Really! C'mon, I gotta make money somehow!"
"-but they're all kinda samey." Ogre dropped the tablet back onto the couch and shook his head. "You get your poses and stuff from porn, don't you?"
Edward looked like a man on the verge of tears. Sensing he'd gone too far, Ogre put a friendly arm about Edward's shoulder.
"Edward, I'm gonna ask you a personal question, and I want a truthful answer. Okay? I'm your friend."
Edward looked down, his expression wretched.
"You've never been with anyone, have you? C'mon, no shame in it, some people are late bloomers." Ogre nearly sounded convincing.
"There was one girl I knew in freshman year," Edward admitted.
Ogre brightened. "Really? What's her name? Did I know her?"
"I... can't remember." Edward's eyes darted about. "She was an exchange student. Canadian."
"...I only knew her online," Edward muttered. "And I think she may have been a man. I used to give her gold on WoW."
Ogre sighed, and released Edward from his friendly, albeit musky grasp. "Eddy, I am making you my new project. Not judging your furry-robot-pony stuff, but-"
"They were commissions! I drew what I was paid to draw!" Edward adopted a tone usually reserved for defendants at Nuremberg.
"Eddy, it's about time you put yourself out there. You're handsome, talented, and you got money!" Ogre pursed his lips and looked at the tablet with a small shudder. "At least, with those drawings I sure hope you do."
"This is stupid idea," Edward muttered as he wandered through the party. "God, I'm not ready for this. Not at all."
Ogre watched Edward from his vantage point, perfectly hidden from prying eyes, a master of stealth and one with his environment.
"Dude, why you in a trash can?"
Ogre looked up from inside the beaten industrial-sized garbage can in which he hid and raised a finger to his pursed lips, shushing the partygoer before settling back down into the detritus within. The partygoer shrugged, finished his drink, lifted the can't lid, and threw the red Stylo cup into the can.
Edward looked at the sea of unfamiliar faces, lost and lonely despite the undulating beast made of chattering, laughing people that surrounded him. A crumpled, stained piece of paper smacked him in the face.
girl w/short blonde hair w/red shorts across room checkng u out go talk w/her u
Edward looked up and his eyes met those of the woman the note described, and she shot him an inviting smile. He gravitated to her, pushing through the chattering crowd like a ship through misty seas.
"Yo," she said, raising her cup in greeting. "You look lost. I'm Sandy."
"Tell her your name, dude," said a friendly nearby garbage can.
"I'm Edward," Edward said, nearly keeping his voice from breaking.
"Did the garbage can just talk?" Sandy looked at the object curiously as a hand reached out and grabbed someone's cup.
"I said nothing," the garbage can said after a long slurp. "Continue your conversation."
"Y'know what? I'm relaxed enough to let this slide. C'mon Ed, let's sit down and chat. You have any hobbies?" Sandy wasn't the most beautiful girl in the room, but her smile gripped Edward by the lungs and yanked. Hard.
"I... I draw some," he sputtered, reaching in his pocket for his phone. "Want to see?"
"Hell yeah, I used to draw too," she said, accepting the proffered phone.
Inside his can, Ogre grinned.
Hours later, Edward and Ogre sat in lawnchairs outside their house, watching the sky lighten. Ogre was covered in stains, and a banana peel had colonized his left shoulder, but he had a beer and a smile. Edward was also smiling. In fact, Ogre couldn't recall seeing Edward smile so happily.
"She gave me her number," Edward said softly, almost inaudibly. "I've never had a girl's number before."
Ogre raised his drink in salute. "Baby steps, buddy. Just don't show her your 'other' art and I think you'll be fine."
Edward gave Ogre a short glare that quickly transposed itself into a laughing fit. "No, I don't think that'll happen."
The two roommates lapsed into a long, comfortable silence as they were warmed by the rising sun.
"Thanks for being there for me."
Ogre shrugged. "I just gave you a shove. You did the rest yourself."
It was the beginning of a bright, new day.
|# ? Aug 16, 2015 03:25|
Seat of the Future
He walked out to the tarmac among the roar of a crowd, the helmet on his head muffling the sound, the voice of his breathing echoing in the enclosed space as he moved past the rows of fans. He didn't wave. Didn't turn his head. To Jacob Joye there was no crowd.
It was just him and the Skar.
She sat at the end of the column of protective barriers and police, metal wings folded in against her side, chrome body catching every ray of sunlight in an attempt to blind him. Long neck stuck out forward, placing the pilot well ahead of the wings and power plant, made of gleaming metal curves.
She was A fever dream made real. And he was going to cross the channel with her.
“And there he is, ladies and gentlemen! The wonderful Jacob Joye!” One of the radio criers pattered into a microphone, the man beside him turning the crank of a videophone.
Don't see them, he told himself. See her. Don't break contact.
“...incredible feats of bravery and skill saving lives on the front, even well past Armistice Day! And with his incredible knowledge he's done what no other man dares to attempt or recreate! Purporting to cross the Imean Channel in a single day! Five hundred and twenty three miles of open water, and back in time for dinner, folks!”
That damned 'back for dinner' line his publicist shot off a week ago was still haunting him. In all honesty, he wasn't sure if he'd make it back at all. The radio man wasn't wrong when he said that no one else dared a channel crossing in an experimental craft. But no one else was as crazy to think that this metal beast would fly, let alone faster and farther than any other plane he'd developed.
He had made his mark on the world by blowing away every competitor in aviation. Speed? His fighters could out-pace anything around by dozens of miles. Range? Three hundred and ninety miles on a single tank of fuel. Maneuver? His frames could waltz while others simply plodded along.
But it all came down to the same thing, and by the time the war was won Jacob Joye was thinking ten years ahead. When everyone could own an airfoil, and none would have even a pop-gun attached. He'd make a mark on the world large enough to cover the stain of his failures.
And the Skar was that dream. Five years of design and effort, boiled down into a beast of metal and science. Faster than a fighter, farther than a bomber, and nimble enough for ballet. And, if he could prove the concept and scale it back, as affordable as a car. If it worked.
He slipped into the seat, red leather set against chrome, pulling at the canopy latch as it swung forward. Tinted glass adding another layer of separation between him and the crowd, the mouths of the radio criers moving silently, the hiss of static filling the cockpit.
“How's it feel, champ?” Dagne's voice filled the cabin, smooth and reassuring.
“Like sitting in the lap of the future,” He said, looking up at the radio above his head. It made the cockpit ungainly, this spike protruding outward like that, but Dagny had made it work somehow. The dame was a certified sorceress with radio waves, and would probably go down in history with a name bigger than his.
“You just make sure you come back to the present, then,” She said. “Everything checking out?”
“Avionics and instrumentation are green,” Jabob replied, looking over the rows of dials. Checking pressures. Testing seals and systems. His comfort zone.
“Dance with the birds, Jacob,” Dagne said. He reached down for the throttle and control, closed his eyes and took a breath.
The beast shuddered to life, wheeled legs gliding along the ground as he applied just enough power to get her into taxi. Gentle, now, turning into the corner and pulling back to line up with the yellow dots. He felt the frame shudder around him as the engine went into idle. A pegasus, shaking at the gate and ready to fly.
He pushed the throttle forward and extended the wings, red metal foils unfolding as she picked up speed. She shook as air began to catch, passing between each 'wing', pushing up against one another as the wheels began to leave the ground. One bounce, two bounce...
He felt the legs leave the ground and pushed the throttle down, and the Skar screamed into the blue sky.
“I think one off the criers lost his hat!” Dagny laughed, her voice backed by the sound of cheers and clinking glasses from the tower bringing a smile to his lips. “Don't be surprised if WBO sends you a bill.”
“They can send it with their press boys. If I make it there and back by dinner, they'd have to fight through the mob to get it to me.”
“That's true enough,” She said, a few burps of static here and there. “That, and every industrialist in the developed world. We've already had ten representatives dialing us up.”
“We'll sort through that mess later,” He said, pulling the wings back as he set his height and began to cruise. The needle pressing against the 170 mark with rapid tick-tick-ticks as the clouds streaked above him. “It's beautiful up here, Dags.”
“I'll take your word for it,” She said, slight shake in her voice. “You know how I do with heights.”
“You know I'm ribbing you,” He replied, sending the Skar into a slight dive to push the needle against the 190 mark. “And we've past 50 miles over the record. We've hit 190, folks!”
Another cheer from the tower as more static began to cut in. “Ok, we're starting to go into the quiet zone,” He called out over the chatter. “I'll call you once I've reached land.”
He reached up and turned the volume down to a whisper, letting the sound of the static mix with the wind streaking against the canopy.
“Hear that, girl?” Jacob's hand reaching forward, rubbing the dash. “You're famous now. Heck of a birthday, eh?”
The Skar merely shuddered as the wings corrected themselves, soaring over the channel, clouds reflecting on it's surface.
“Ground Crew, do you read? This is Jacob Joye aboard the Skar, requesting landing clearance.”
“Joh, Mister Jacob,” A voice in rough common called out over the radio. “We have your fueler awaiting your arrival. State your vector.”
He gave the coordinates and heard the tower whispering to themselves. “If you're wondering,” He said, tilting the wings to make the Skar 'wave'. “Yes, that's me.”
“Sorry, sir,” The voice called. “You are cleared.”
He opened her wings wide, red steel catching the air, tail in the back helping curb the engine output and create more resistance, gliding down towards the runway. Easy now. Don't cock it up in the last leg.
He felt her shudder as the wheels touched down, wings held out wide to slow her down, coasting forward to the waiting trucks.
He pulled the canopy open, taking a breath of fresh air as he let the sunlight come in unfiltered. He'd done it.
“Excuse me, Mr. Jacob,” The voice from the tower, a squat man with a furrowed face, called from below. “What is this thing?”
“This?” He said, patting the side with a smile. “This is the future, my good man.”
|# ? Aug 16, 2015 19:44|
The Logical Extreme
Thanks both for these here crits here.
|# ? Aug 16, 2015 20:46|
Something Good May Come of It
The coffee was stale, but that’s how it was in times of war: the good things always went first. Feiger set down his cup with a barely audible clang. 50 shilling for hot water and nostalgia. Not that he couldn’t afford it. He received a very generous pension from the Kaiser’s court. But it was the principle of things.
The terrace was sparsely populated, empty tables scattered around, interspersed with the occasional patron. It was about as lively as a forest after an artillery shelling. Most other patrons were like him: well-dressed, silent, bored. If you still had the ability to sit at the cafe, you weren’t much of a rabble rouser. You were rich, and you’d watched the Kaiser’s ascension, and you’d kept your mouth shut. And you probably regretted it by now.
A yell caught Feiger’s attention. There was a commotion on the square beneath the terrace. People got up and paced over to his side, flocking to the railings to see what the noise was about. Feiger faintly turned.
Down below, policemen chased a bronze-skinned child around the square. They’d blocked the exits, but the boy was nimble, and quick. Like rabid dogs chasing a bee, the policemen found it hard to predict the boy’s movements, and not to run each other over, or into one of the many empty market stands the boy dogded around.
The show didn’t last long. Eventually they had the boy cornered at a point below Feiger’s table, just out of his sight. Batons drawn, the policemen advanced.
Feiger closed his eyes. It must have been a Roman boy. He’d be imprisoned, beaten, and sent off to the camps, or worse, forced to fight in the war against his own country. Many people had suffered the same fate. Ethnic Romans, and their friends, and supporters, and political dissenters opposing the Kaiser’s edicts, and also anyone who looked at the Kaiser funny.
Feiger had signed many of these edicts himself, back when there had still been the illusion of an elected government. Had just let things take their course, like everyone else, and now they lived empty lives in empty cities.
The boy whimpered.
“Stop this immediately.” Feiger found himself at the bottom of the stairs to the terrace. The officers froze, looked at him like he was possessed. They were annoyed by the interruption, but also, they remembered who he was.
“Step away from the boy,” he said.
“Chancellor, you don’t understand!” one of the policemen said. “This is an Italo--”
“I said: step away.” Feigers throat almost caught up, but he didn’t choke, wiped the tremble off his face, kept it steady. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to make an impression. He breathed in, expanded his chest, his feet firm on the ground. He reminded himself that he was unshakable.
“You don’t have the authority--” another policemen started.
“See if I don’t,” Feiger boomed. “See if I can’t still snip my fingers and have you out on the street by the morning.” He snipped his fingers for effect. “To hell with you! You just try and mess with Chancellor Feiger. You just try.”
The policemen went nowhere. They hung back, unsure of what to do, still assessing whether or not to beat the boy, and, probably, Feiger too.
“Come now,” Feiger said, but the boy didn’t move. His face was dirty, sweaty strands of hair hanging into his face. He stared at the ground as if he intended to kill it. Feiger grabbed the boy by the wrist. “Andiamo,” he repeated. Let’s go.
That got the boy’s attention. He stared at Feiger, shocked, and then they were already moving.
“The Kaiser will hear of this,” someone said behind them. It might have been a policeman. It might have been someone from the crowd. It didn’t matter. He’d publicly defied the purification edict. The Kaiser would hear of this.
“Send him my regards,” Feiger said.
Feiger frantically searched through discarded paperwork, half-read books and other consequences of his recent unemployment. The police could come knocking at the door at any second. Somewhere in here was his travel permit. A simple green slip that would get you past the borders. People of import had these.
As long as there still was time.
As he rummaged through the mess in his generous suite, the realization of what he’d gotten himself into slowly dawned on him. He’d defied the edict. The Kaiser. This couldn’t end well.
What had he been thinking?
The boy looked around the room in a casual manner. On a commode by the fireplace was the only picture in the suite: Feiger, next to a fair-skinned woman with ashen hair and a smile bright and radiant like the summer sun. The boy picked it up, despite his dirty hands. He mustered it, then looked around the room as if searching for her, or any traces of her. He wouldn’t find any.
“That’s my wife,” Feiger said in bad Roman. “Isabella.”
The boy gave Feiger a quizzical look.
“She was Roman.”
The boy set the picture back down.
Feiger composed himself and went back to searching. He had to see this through.
The air at the train station was foggy, and filled with the hiss of steam, the screech of metal on metal, and the noticeable absence of the once typical murmur of travelers.
Feiger shoved a bag into the boy’s hands. Time was of the essence. He repeated many things to the boy in broken Roman, spoke with his hands, repeated the instructions over and over, hammered them in to make sure they broke through the language barrier: get in the train; show the conductor your ticket, and your travel permit; rations in the bag; drink from the water; eat from the fruit; ride the train all the way to Paris; get to the Roman embassy.
“No,” Feiger finished, “I can’t come. The permit is for one person only.”
Few people travelled by railway these days. Their train stayed in the station for a good while, during all of which Feiger remained, looking around, at the entrances, at the child, making sure nobody would come and drag the boy off before the train had left. He sent a silent prayer heavenwards. Maybe, just maybe, this would work. Maybe nobody would notice.
The whistle ripped him out of his thoughts. The train huffed, and edged forward, and then it moved faster, and then it rode off, and disappeared on the horizon, and finally, Feiger breathed out.
He was done.
The coffee was objectively of the same quality as it had been in the morning. Yet, it tasted fresh as a new day. He stirred it, and the spoon bounced off the cup, ringing it, again and again. It was a dainty, tiny sound, but also insistent. A sound that wanted to be heard. He took another sip. Yes, this was it. The greatest coffee he’d ever had.
The policemen had the grace to wait until he was finished. They didn’t come rushing in, batons drawn. They lined up, and watched as Feiger sipped on his cup, and unfortunately, they also waited for him to call the waiter, and to pay the bill. Respect was a double-edged sword.
Finally, as Feiger stared off into the setting sun, one policeman stepped forward and blankly said, “You are under arrest.”
Feiger left a generous tip, and, head held high, stood from his seat to let himself be arrested.
|# ? Aug 16, 2015 22:36|
The report is almost completely filled out out, everything squared away except for a large blank space preceded by four words: 'List All Fatalities Below.' It's been that way for hours.
- - -
“Carl,” said Jeremy, “Don't you think it's about time we talked about the Douglass problem?”
“I'm a problem now?” Douglass said from behind us both. We turned around to face him. “I'd say its the SMT that's the problem, and it's long past time we all didn't just talk about it and did something.”
“The safety committee has already addressed your concerns, Douglass,” said Jeremy. “They're unanimous in finding them baseless.”
“If they did that, then they're being irresponsible,” said Douglass. “Worse. Negligent. Criminal.”
“Now you know that's not true,” said Jeremy, his voice drifting up and down in pitch in his particular tuneless manner. “We're fully compliant with all Federal and State laws.”
“Laws you helped write,” said Douglass. “You're going to get people killed.”
“It's your own design,” said Jeremy. “There wouldn't be an SMT without your brilliant, brilliant work.”
“And I'm telling you that if we can't at least triple the safety and monitoring budgets I can't have anything to do with it.”
“I'm sorry you feel that way,” said Jeremy. “Carl, would you please escort-”
“Don't bother,” said Douglass. “I know the way out.”
I had to follow him down anyway, of course. And that was the last time I, or anyone else for that matter, saw the greatest engineer of this generation for at least ten years.
- - -
There had been reports of, well, something living down in the side tunnels and chambers of Sixty Mile almost since before the construction had finished. Something lurking in the shadows, performing unscheduled minor repairs, and stealing the lunchboxes of maintenance and security workers on long shifts. Nothing ever showed up on the cameras, so most of the other security people thought it was just some kind of urban legend. I had my own idea, obviously. The descriptions matched up: tall, skinny, quiet, fast. We actually had to do something about it when the new kid, Reggie, noticed the glitches in the security tapes. They had patterns, patterns that could be used to do a narrow search, so Reggie and I took a cart out to the station at mile 23 to see what we'd find down there.
“This is the place, you know,” I said to Reggie. “The one that gave him the nightmares.” I'd explained my theory during the slow drive out.
“How do you know?”
“Eventually someone from the company came round to check out his house. He had a whole wall full of charts, covered up with scribbling and arrows and lines, and right at the center of it was a big red circle right around here.”
“Anybody ever figure out why?”
“Reggie, nobody took him seriously at that point. Thought he was just an obsessed burn-out. A couple of scientists took a brief look, but they didn't see anything.”
“Carl,” said Reggie, “I don't know if I believe any of this. Are you just messing with me?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, there's no way someone could really be living down here, not for years. No water, no food, no place to, well...”
“Food I'll give you. Nowhere near enough stolen lunches to keep a person going. But the others, well, you're wrong. There's still plumbing from when-”
I was interrupted by the earthquake. Magnitude 6.6, we found out later. Shook the little cart so much I couldn't steer around the falling rocks.
- - -
I came to a few minutes later. Reggie was out too, but he was breathing regularly. The emergency lights had kicked in, actually a little brighter than the regular ones but casting everything in pale green. I pulled myself out of the cart, hurt, bruised, but not bleeding. Then I went to call in help, but my phone wasn't getting any signal. It should have. Wired cell relays were part of the emergency systems.
“There's a break in the main fiber.” It was unmistakably Douglass' voice, coming from right behind me. I turned around. He wasn't nearly the kind of savage thing the witness reports had suggested. He had grown a long beard, but it was neatly trimmed, and he wore clean and nearly new denim, jeans and a jacket. If he was living down here, he'd figured out a way to do it with most of the comforts of civilization. “Two breaks, actually. But that's not the worst of the problem.”
He walked, towards the main tracks. Reggie was stirring, still groggy and barely able to walk. I followed, helping Reggie along. “Then what is-”
“The roof's not stable. This was the weak point of the whole tunnel. That kind of force, over that much distance, no possible way to harden the whole thing enough.” Sure enough, there was a rumbling from above, and rocks fell from the ceiling. It wasn't a total collapse, but the rocks that hit us were heavy enough to sting. Ahead of us we heard a loud, ringing clang, as a huge boulder fell right on the main westbound track.
Reggie went limp. He'd been struck by a bigger rock than any of the ones that hit me or Douglass, tearing a bloody gash in his shoulder. No major vessels gushing, but likely a broken bone. He wasn't going anywhere on his own power anytime soon. It was then that we heard the noise, engines and whistles and screaming hydraulic brakes.
“What's the time?” shouted Douglass.
“2:33,” I said. I tried to do the math in my head, but Douglass beat me to the answer.
“Assuming the afternoon line started braking half a minute after the quake,” he said, “I'll still be going at least sixty miles an hour when it reaches here, and...Get to shelter! Now!”
I would have, but there wasn't much shelter to be had and moving Reggie was still a bad idea. So I stood there and watched as Douglass jumped down to the tracks and shouldered into the boulder, using all of the weight and leverage he could muster. And I'll be damned if the thing didn't start to budge. Not much, and it didn't look like enough to make a difference as the passenger train bearing down grew louder and louder with the rock still only barely moving. Then the beam from its headlight shone right on Douglass and the rock he shoved hard again and it began to roll, off one rail and then the other with Douglass tumbling after it.
- - -
That train hit something, that's for certain. It didn't hit the rock, obviously, since Reggie, myself, and everyone on board are still around to talk about it. And it didn't hit Douglass head on. There wasn't any body to be found, no smear of crushed remains. But I clearly heard it hit something, and could anyone survive even a glancing blow from something that big and fast?
My email beeps. I check it. A routine shift report from the cleanup crews. One of them complaining of a stolen lunchbox.
I smile, move my pen to the blank space, and write the word 'none'.
|# ? Aug 16, 2015 23:13|
I forget - is this forum searchable on Google?
"It exudes strong magnetism from all over. It controls three small units called Mini-Noses."
Flashrule: "your story must include rad facial hair"
The Magnet Machine
Langham raised the glass of stout to his mouth as he surveyed the rest of the packed bar. Foam speckled his dark red beard as he lowered the glass. He wiped it clean with his jacket sleeve.
His hand brushed against the silver chain around his neck. He pulled up the case attached to it. He stared inside, his eyes following around, darting back and forth.
The gaslamp by the door fluttered as it opened wide, and Langham looked up. A group of men walked in. At the front, with slicked black hair and a smooth face – Jebidiah Cassius became the only man in the room to look at home in a suit.
“Thought you were dead, old friend,” Cassius nodded in greeting.
“So did I,” said Langham. “Old friend,” he added, through teeth.
“Terribly sorry to hear about Susan and that whole business. I hope you got my messages. If there’s anything I can do--”
“I got your letters.”
“You two were doing good work. It’s a dangerous business sometimes this.”
Cassius sighed as the bartended handed him his scotch.
“She was always the type to take risks”, he continued. “Even when she was with me. I suppose leaving with you was just one of those risks. Just one that didn’t work out.”
“I know you think she owed you something, but she didn’t--“
“She was one of the best scientists I’ve ever met. But if you think I didn’t have a hand in her research then you’re blind.” He downed the scotch.
The large double doors opened and the crowd began to move into the auditorium.
“I’m glad you’re presenting today.” Cassius pushed the empty glass away. “You’ve been out of the game for a while now. The difference between what we’ve done and you and Susan’s unfinished project will make it even easier to sell our design.”
Cassius started to walk into the crowd, before turning to look back at Langham, eyes staring at his facial hair. “You could have at least cleaned up for this, couldn’t you?”
* * *
Eventually Cassius stepped onto the stage, looking out to the people before him while a veiled device was rolled forward by two other men.
“Gentlemen,” he began. “The future is coming – and it lies in energy. Gas,” he gestured at the gas lamps lighting the room, “is on the way out. We’ve already seen proposed solutions tonight – but no answer. Not, that is, until now.” He stepped back and pulled the sheet down.
Langham tightened his grip on the arm of his seat. He recognised the machine.
Three steel pillars were arranged in a triangle, their angling together in a pyramid shape. The base of each pillar was fitted with various dials, and large cases housing the machinery within. All three were linked by a wire to a round capsule in the middle – the battery.
Langham consulted his case again.
Inside was a compass. The needle was moving back and forth wildly, back and forth, jerkily and erratically, past the gilded letters of the compass points. The thin layer of glass covering it was etched with minute symbols.
“It’s definitely our battery design,” he muttered, biting his lip.
The needle seemed to move faster now, back and forth.
“If he’s managed to get those plans – then the regulators will --” He paled.
The needle slowed to a stop. Then it started back up, slower, swinging from point to point.
“I know, I know,” he groaned.
He took the stairs down to the stage two at a time.
“The regulators,” Langham called.
With a glance from Cassius doormen were blocking the steps to the stage.
“Performing perfectly in testing, Langham. Please.” The doormen began to take him away. Cassius looked over. “Let him stay – he should see this.”
He stepped over to the console of the nearest pillar. All three pillars began to hum as he turned a dial.
“Magnetic energy is around us all the time,” he called to the audience over the noise. The whole earth has a magnetic force. All that energy – and what do we use it for?”
The humming grew louder, and the wooden stage began to shake. A metal clanking, three metal rings of varying thickness around the battery capsule began to rise up, sparks flying from them, until they were suspended in the air. They began to move into one another, spinning.
“It’s working. I’m drawing energy from the magnetic force, with zero loss.”
Cassius began to dial it down.
But the machine wasn’t stopping. It still grew in tempo, shaking the stage.
“It appears to be stuck.”
The metal rings were whirring so fast now they seemed not to be moving at all, a metal orb.
The crowd grew quiet. Even over the machine the sound of a crack could be heard – a splinter suddenly appearing in the battery. Then it shattered.
A fierce wind blew back from the stage, causing those left standing to fall back hard in their seats.
Langham pushed back the distracted guards.
“All the pillars need to be depowered at the same time.
Langham reached the unmanned console and began to power it down. The levers were slow. He glanced at the bright light in the centre of the stage. Pulses of energy were flying out of it regularly. He had to grip the metal to stay put.
A large pulse of energy shook the stage. Wood began to splinter. The battery fell lopsided, sinking into the cracking wood.
Cassius lost his grip, and was flung back into the audience on a wave of energy, his pitiful screaming being added to the rest of the crowd.
“It’s no use, Susan.”
The compass fell open against his shirt. He looked down, at the spinning dial.
“You think it will work again?” he asked? “But everyone will see.” He looked back at the battery, and then at the helpless audience, pinned to their seats. “I guess there’s not a lot of choice.”
Langham reached inside his inner pocket. A glass vial, filled with something grey. He smashed the top against the console, then spilled the fine powder over his beard, spitting out the metal taste that touched his lips.
“Go, Susan, do it,” he yelled.
He winced in pain as he felt his whiskers tugging at his skin, the iron filings mixing with his hair, seeping into his DNA.
His red hair began to stretch outward, slowly at first, before picking up speed. He tried to ignore the dull pain and concentrate on pushing the lever down and disengaging the energy throughput. It began to hum down.
He glanced side to side to see his red and grey hair streaking out around him in a semi-circle, pushing down at the levers on the other consoles.
The rings began to slow. He continued to push, both down and out at the same time.
The rings clanked to the floor.
He breathed out deeply. He felt his hair begin to reign in once more.
He turned to the crowd. Cassius was out cold in the front row.
Langham pulled out the compass and looked closely at the etching in the glass. “I know, he said – we did it.”
His beard was now all back with him, still streaked with grey.
The crowd stood up once more, and began to applaud.
Langham bowed, the compass falling forward with him, pulling slightly on his neck.
My initial draft of this was about 1750. I hope it doesn't show too much, as I like some of the cut-downs
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 00:11|
Why Cat Has Nine Lives.
Nethilia fucked around with this message at 05:09 on Jan 1, 2016
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 00:21|
The Anniversary Intruder
Krystal and Robbie tumbled through the front door, a frenetic tangle of groping hands and limber pink tongues and long, pale necks. It had been a tough year, but the anniversary dinner felt like it was their first date, before Robbie started working the night shift five nights a week, before they fought over utility bills and whose turn it was to do the dishes and before Robbie had stormed out of the house and gone to god knows where and reappeared a week later as if nothing had ever happened. Once they were inside, Krystal pulled away and turned on the bedroom eyes. She said, “I’ve got a present for you. I’ll go upstairs and put it on. Wait five minutes and then come find me.”
Robbie started through the dark hallway to the kitchen. Always important to hydrate, especially for a loving stud, he thought. He opened the refrigerator and reached for a High Life when he saw a reflection glinting in his peripheral vision. Two shining white orbs hovered a few inches off the ground, and as he adjusted to the light, a furry, squirrel-sized body came into view around them. He shut the fridge door and sidled to the light switch like a cop making his way to a jumper on a window ledge. A flip of the switch revealed that, somehow, a skunk had gotten into the house.
“Oh, poo poo,” Robbie shouted. The skunk stared him down, motionless.
Krystal darted to the top of the stairs. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” he called back. “Stay upstairs!”
She bounded down the staircase and rushed to the kitchen in a lacy purple bra and thong. Too nice to have come from Victoria’s Secret. He would have appreciated it under different circumstances. “Oh my God, is that a loving skunk? You have to get it out of here!” She shuddered and rose on her tiptoes, as if one false step could make the floorboards give way to a hidden pool of toxic sludge. “Oh God, get it ouuuuuut!”
Robbie opened the back door and waited for the skunk to make his exit, but the skunk seemed comfortable where it was. “Come on fella,” Robbie said, in a voice you’d use to call a dog over for a walk. He made a shooing motion, to no avail.
“I’m going to chase it out. Stay behind me,” said Robbie, through clenched teeth. He edged around the room to position the skunk between himself and the door, raised his arms like a grappler going for a collar-and-elbow tie up, and advanced on the intruder. It darted between Robbie’s legs and further into the house, causing Krystal to shriek and climb on the kitchen counter. The skunk weaved through the maple legs of the dining table and onto the tweed couch tearing the upholstery with its long claws. Robbie dropped into a squat and peered into the skunk’s black eyes, and it hissed at him.
“Leave it alone, it’s going to spray you with skunk juice,” Krystal said.
The skunk, perched on the arm of the living room sofa, performed a handstand and pointed its tail straight at Robbie’s eyes, its fanned tail resembling a king cobra about to strike. It would have been kind of cute, if not for what came next. A sulfurous aerosol jet of sticky pig poo poo, ammonia, and rotten eggs coated his right side from head to waist, matting his hair and trickling down into his ear. He tried to scream in surprise, but the porterhouse and twice-baked potato from an hour ago clawed their way up his throat and splattered onto the hardwood. With red eyes and a dizzy head, Robbie stumbled to the closet and groped for the Louisville Slugger he kept in case of home invaders. Found it. Choked up on the bat.
“Robbie, stop it,” Krystal said, her voice trembling. “Just call animal control. We’ll go to a hotel.”
The skunk hissed and scampered under the sofa. “No, I’m going to take care of this little bastard right now,” Robbie said through clenched teeth. He dropped down on all fours and jammed the bat under the sofa to flush out the skunk. It tumbled acrobatically under the coffee table, and Robbie’s head clunked off the corner of the coffee table as he dove in pursuit. It opened up a gash, and a narrow ribbon of blood ran down his forehead. He sat dumbfounded on the floor for a moment. “Goddammit, how did it even get in here?” He brought the bat down on the table, smashing a framed photo from their wedding. The impact flung shards of glass across the room, twinkling like snowflakes.
“Robbie! What the gently caress,” Krystal cried. He righted himself, and took a Mudville-sized swing that connected, not with the skunk, which easily bounded away from the attack, but a ceramic teapot painted with rainbow-colored birds and plants, which Krystal’s parents had brought them from a trip to England. The pot shattered into a million pieces. “Quit breaking poo poo!” If the mood hadn’t been ruined by the smell, it certainly was now.
Robbie’s face was fully flushed as he chased the skunk through the house, blinded and delirious, tripping over the furniture, letting loose with swings that missed the mark again and again. Three, four, five strikes, you’re out. But the sixth, a golf swing, caught the animal in the head with a crack as it tried to dart past Robbie again. It sailed through the air and thudded against the wall, squeaking pitifully. He scooped it up in one hand and shouted in its face, “How do you like that, fucker?”
“Enough! It’s just an animal, and it’s scared, and you’re scaring me,” Krystal said. She was crying. But his breath came fast and hot, his heart pounded in his head, his blurred vision went totally black. She tried to pry loose Robbie’s grip, but he pulled away and punched the skunk hard in the face. It stopped wriggling in his hand, and he let it drop to the floor, a limp pile. His whole body was trembling.
Krystal climbed down off the counter and poked at the skunk. “You killed it.” He paused for a moment, then collapsed on the sofa with his head in his hands. Krystal came to him, taking care not to cut her bare feet on the sharp debris, and put his head in her lap. A few drops of blood spurted between his fingers and onto the purple thong. In the pale light, even through bleary eyes, she had never looked more beautiful to him, a merciful angel.
“I’m sorry, baby. I don’t know why I got so angry.” he said. A long pause. “You know that’s not like me.”
“I know.” Krystal nodded and stroked his matted, reeking hair, in the way one might pet a sick dog that’s minutes from being put down. The odor was overpowering, but she barely noticed. “It’s okay. Shh, it’s okay,” she said, and tried hard to believe it.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 01:18|
The Dream Talkers
Flash Rule: My character's indecision lands him in a situation
The sun was setting over the old farmhouse, its paint peeling and most of the few remaining shutters hanging at odd angles, as the white Cadillac pulled into the long driveway, the aging suspension creaking as it made its way down the dirt path. It seemed to take forever to make it to the yard, where Frank killed the engine. The flat land out here played hell with perception.
“I don’t know, Frank,” Jimmy said for the hundredth time in the last forty-eight hours, “this isn’t our usual mark. We only bilk rich assholes, remember?”
“Yeah, I remember. That was back when we didn’t have to worry about having the money to even make it to the next town to con those rich assholes. We haven’t had a good score in nearly six months, man. We need this. You know it. We’ll send her a gift once we get a job going again.”
“Okay, okay…I get it. Let’s just get it over with, and get out of here.” Jimmy replied with a sigh. “It just don’t feel right.”
“I could give a rat’s rear end what you feel right now, Jimmy. What I need from you is to be Runs With Moon and back up your old medicine man. We’ve got us some dreams to catch.” Frank reached behind him and pulled his feathered hat and necklace from the back seat, completing the Dreams Of Wolves illusion.
Jimmy popped the trunk and gathered the supplies. Materials for weaving dreamcatchers, a native flute, a tomahawk pipe, and other items. You never knew what you might need to sell the mark on your authenticity, after all. The Amazing Dreams Of Wolves, Lakota Medicine Man! Cure Nightmares! Send messages to loved ones in comas! Contact the Spirit World! Bring blessing on your family! They’d sold this line so many times, it was becoming second nature. Still, something seemed off about this one. They never got contacted by poor old women in dilapidated farmhouses…their prices were just too high.
Piling everything into an authentic, hand-sewn deerskin sack, he joined Frank and they crossed the yard together, the scrub grass looking even browner than he was used to out here in Satan’s rear end in a top hat. Thankfully, the sun had passed behind the house and they were able to walk in the shade to the porch, though it was still much too hot for Jimmy’s tastes.
But it’s a dry heat! he thought to himself, and stifled a laugh at the absurdity of the adage. A hundred and nine is a hundred and nine, whether you’re in Atlanta or Albuquerque.
As Frank prepared to knock on the door, Jimmy got out a sage bundle and lit it, waving the smoldering herbs around and “singing” in a low voice. The door opened before Frank’s knuckles made contact, and they saw their client for the first time. Short, barely five feet if that, and bone thin. She kept her iron grey hair in a tight bun, giving her a severe look belied by her smile and the laugh lines around her eyes.
“Oh, you boys must be the dream talkers! I heard you pull in, and was hoping. But, then, who else would it be? A woman my age doesn’t get too many visitors. No, the time when suitors were lined up at the door are long past for me!” she finished with a dry laugh, and motioned for the men to enter.
“Yes, ma’am,” he began in his best Native accent, sweeping his hat from his head as he entered, “we are the Spirit Talkers of the Lakota tribe, descended from the Ojibwe Elders. I’m Dreams Of Wolves, and this is my apprentice Runs With Moon. Now, Mrs. Stogsdill, I believe you’ve been having some trouble with nightmares?”
“Oh, please, call me Martha! I’m too old to stand on such formality. Yes, I’ve been plagued by nightmares for the last three years, ever since my Harold passed,” Martha crossed herself as she said this, and sat on her old fashioned couch, it’s floral patterns clashing with…well, with everything, “I’ve tried just about everything. You boys are my last hope…and I think the Lord will forgive me for resorting to the ways of the Indians. He helps those that help themselves, after all!”
Jimmy had to shake his head, clearing his sinuses of the smoke from the herbs. He could have sworn he heard another name when Martha gave hers. As if someone had whispered it from just behind him: Asibikaashi.
When he looked over, Martha was staring at him intently. To be honest, she was creeping him out a bit.
“Our people know that all gods are of the same tribe, Mrs. Stogsdill. I’m sure we’ll be able to help you. Our methods have been passed down for thousands of years, and rarely fail. Now, if you would just watch at my necklace and listen to my voice, I need you to walk with me to the Dream World.”
Frank was wasting no time, already moving in for the hypnotism. Jimmy had never decided if it was the hypnotism that convinced their clients not to come after them, or just the fear of embarrassment if people found out they’d been fleeced. Probably more of the latter than the former. Jimmy believed in hypnotism about as much as he believed in their spirit talking.
It seemed to be having an effect on Martha, however, as her eyes lost focus and her breathing slowed. Oddly, she still seemed to be staring right at Jimmy. The feeling that they shouldn’t be here came back full force, and he tensed his muscles to run as his fight or flight instincts kicked in. Something was very wrong here, though Frank didn’t seem to notice.
Listen to those instincts, Wasichu, the voice came again, that whispering from just behind him, there’s still hope for you, I can smell it on your heart. If you go now, I will not take you, and I will not follow.
“Jimmy, what the gently caress,” Frank’s voice, hushed so as not to break the trance, snapped him out of whatever that was, “get upstairs and check her room. She has to have valuables here, somewhere. Jewelry or old civil war money or…something!”
Jimmy hesitated, suddenly unsure of what to do. This wasn’t right. They were robbing a poor old lady, and that went against everything he stood for. Still, Frank was right. They desperately needed a break. And what kind of crazy person listened to imaginary voices?
Still undecided, Jimmy turned to make his case to Frank, but saw that Frank was now standing stock still, his eyes unfocused and far away. His face and hands twitched and he let out a long, low sound of fear. Behind him, Martha stood with her hands on his head. Taller now, she looked almost menacing. Her limbs bent at strange angles, and her eyes seeming to become multifaceted.
“Too late, Wasichu,” he saw her teeth had been replaced with two long, black fangs that grew as she spoke, “you had your chance, and you showed your heart. Your affront to my children is at an end.”
Jimmy felt his bladder let go, soaking his crotch with the warm wetness of urine before he fell, still staring into her eyes, and as he hit the ground and looked around, he saw he was no longer in an old farmhouse, but in his worst nightmare.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 01:53|
Samuel paced across his patio in a valiant, pointless struggle against his foe. Every trick in the book ultimately failed him, but the fighter in him yearned to eke out even a few minutes more before his inevitable surrender. Already, Samuel felt the presence of his enemy, felt it sneaking up to drag him into the abyss he so utterly feared. Deciding it better to face his defeat with dignity instead of collapsing on the spot, Samuel deposited himself into his rocking chair. He reached for his coffee, but his hand failed to even make it halfway before sleep finally took him down.
Pedestrians mostly failed to notice the man snoring on the second floor patio, but word spread quickly to his neighbors. Headphones and earplugs plugged in. Stereos and televisions turned up. Conversations in progress at the time did anything they could to avoid discussing the nice old man in 6B that screamed and cried every few days - so unfortunate, what a pity, shame about his wife, did you see the game last night? Samuel remained trapped in his tormenting dreams, sobbing an old man's grief the world refused to acknowledge.
Samuel woke the next morning with a puddle of drool in his lap. Collecting the paper left on his patio, he moved through the drudgery of his morning routine. With his needs tended to, the kids outside his door yelled out and his first pot of coffee on the way, Samuel sat down and flipped through the paper. He flipped past the scores, past the stocks, and ignored the funnies - even Haggar and Snoopy couldn't make him smile. Samuel turned to the ads, looking for anything that promised hope. He'd tried two therapists, a hypnotist, a priest and even some drat hippy's sweat lodge - the last one, at least, made him feel something: filthy.
An advertisement on page three caught his eye:
Nightmares got YOU down?
Can't dream your way out of - or into - a paper bag?
We can help.
NO APPOINTMENT NEEDED
NO QUESTIONS ASKED
CASH PAYMENT UPFRONT
Samuel almost passed over it, the overly artistic and garishly pink font turning him off. The title kept nagging at him, though, reminding him of the dream catchers that hung in nearly every corner of his apartment crammed with such remedies. Deciding his dignity was spiraling down the drain anyway, Samuel scribbled down the address and gathered what cash was left in the jar marked for swears and the jar marked for the Greece trip - and made his way downtown.
Within seconds of arriving, Samuel found things to complain about.
"Can't you change this music?" he said to the receptionist, who obliged the old man happily - only to reveal that every other track on the playlist was just as soft, calming as the last.
"Don't you have somewhere to wait that ain't so - so - so drat pink?" he snapped, and again the receptionist begged Samuel's pardon.
"Don't you have somethin' not so soft?" he said and pulled himself out of his comfy chair for the fifth time in three minutes. Samuel threw his hands up in frustration and began to pace, already feeling driven to his favored last resort to stave off the enemy. It nearly got the jump on him twice on the bus ride over to the Dream Catcher.
"K., Samuel? The Catcher will see you now."
Samuel grumbled one final time at the receptionist on his way to the tiny back room. His mood only soured from bad to worse, forced to walk through quite the thick pink hazy material, only to find himself in a room filled with the stuff. The fog machine hidden somewhere leaving a pink mist on the floor sure didn't help Samuel, either. The temptation to march right out rose in him, but since he traveled so far...
A table sat in the middle of the room, and Samuel joined the room's other occupant, glad to feel a stool beneath his rear end instead of those overly plush chairs. The robed man barely seemed to notice Samuel's entrance, seeming more entranced with the act of balancing his cigarette holder - complete with unlit cigarette.
Samuel opened his mouth to speak-
"No questions asked, no answers given,"-and was cut short. The strange little man moved as if to take a drag from his cigarette, then turned the holder around and offered it to Samuel. "Please. After you. It is the reason you are here, yes."
Hesitating, Samuel took the offered implement. Something about the entire experience unnerved him, and a quick glance behind him confirmed his suspicion that the fog machine had clearly gone overboard with the mist filling the room. But had the door always been so far away? Feeling rather foolish at doing so with an unlit cigarette attached, Samuel brought the holder to his lips.
He coughed, violently. A dark cloud of smoke spewed from his lips, and the robed man lunged across the table, trapping the belched cloud of smoke within a glass container, the lid screwed down tight. But Samuel barely had time to process the series of events, still coughing when the jar was turned on him, the black smoke blown right back in his face.
Samuel slumped onto the table.
The dream is the same as it always is.
Samuel paces. The clock in the corner ticks. The numbers mean nothing to him. The minutes fade to hours and back again every time he looks up. 10:30 PM or 6:30 AM, the doctor comes out all the same, and Samuel can see in his face the results of the operation.
He holds his wife's hand for the final time. Again. He whispers her name, begs God to bring her back and to take him instead But for the first time, a sense of deja vu strikes him, just as he notices the pink mist seeping in from the door and windows.
This is a dream.
This is a dream.
Samuel doesn't even consider the thought of ressurecting her. Why would he defile his darling so, especially within his mind? No, he holds her hand tight and brings it to his lips, whispering the goodbyes he only now dares to utter, weeks after her death. Finally, the tears come.
The robed man gathered his payment, jarring up the smoke escaping from Samuel once more - pink, instead of black.
For his part, Samuel woke feeling properly rested for the first time in weeks from his nap, left momentarily disoriented as his mind struggled to make sense of things. He glanced at the pigeons gathered around the park bench and fed them. Samuel laughed, and readied himself to head home.
"Hope you little guys didn't mind me talking in my sleep, heh!"
Samuel couldn't wait to visit her grave.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 02:56|
Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 19:31 on Dec 30, 2015
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 03:45|
Isa Bakker entered the sprawling manor with a confident ease, a lightness to her step and a smile on her lips, putting forth the image of perfect ease. The staff members that she passed had no idea what her real purpose was for being in the manor, and so she made her way without comment to Meyers’ private gallery. The statue she had been sent to find was just past that door, and with it, the paycheque from the Kenyan government for its safe return.
She smiled a bit more brightly to the guard standing outside the door to the gallery, and flashed him her badge. He leaned in for a closer look at the badge, and said, “What’s your reason for en-”
But before he could finish, Isa slammed her fist down into the side of the guard’s head, sending him rocking to the side. In an instant, she brought her left foot up, connecting with the bottom of the guard’s chin, and leaving him sprawling, unconscious, on the floor. Moving swiftly, she knelt down beside him and removed his key ring.
She had sources on the inside, and so was able to identify the right key for the gallery door, by the brand. She slipped in quietly, making sure to lock the door behind her before looking over the gallery. Her sources did not prepare her for what lay within. She had been expecting something in the model of a museum, white and antiseptic. Instead, everything was cast in low purple, lighting glass-encased displays from beneath, forming chaotic, yet geometric rows, some elaborate pattern that she could only begin to grasp at.
And so she began to move from case to case, searching out the statue, manually checking each display. She came up short, though, at the sight of a painting, the brush stroke and and expressive portraiture denoting it clearly as a Frans Hols: and one she was not familiar with. She reached a hand forward and touched the glass of the display, her breath catching for a moment in her throat.
She remembered summer days studying art history, youthful exuberance, long philosophical discussions lasting into the early hours of the morning. She remembered first kisses and the warmth of the sun on her skin, and when the world seemed open to everything. And she remembered the smiling and laughing faces of Frans Hols watching over everything.
But she tore herself away and continued on her search.
She spiralled inwards towards the center of the gallery, and nearly arrived at the very middle when the statue finally came into her sight. Immediately, she pulled a hair pin from her bun and set to work on the lock at the bottom of the case. Sweat lightly beaded on her forehead, she knew it wouldn’t be long before someone noticed that the guard was down, and then more security, or even the police, would be brought in.
And so, she breathed a sigh of relief as finally the case gave an audible click as the lock came undone. Her heart sunk, though, as that click was followed immediately by the cocking of a gun directly behind her head. She lifted her hands up slowly, placing them behind her head, instinct telling her to seem docile at the moment. A wizened voice croaked from behind, and Meyers said, “That’s enough, young lady. Now, stand up, slowly….”
She complied with the order and turned to face Meyers. The old man sat in a wheelchair, his face marred with wrinkles and spots, his pale, almost milky eyes covered in thick lenses, and in his hand, surprisingly steady for a man of his age, was an extremely large hand gun. “You know, young lady,” Meyers said, “Back in my day, it was considered quite rude to apprehend a person’s belongings. I’d be well within my rights to fire on such a villain, wouldn’t you say?”
“I’m not sure that’s legal, actually,” Isa said. Her expression remained blank, but before before Meyers could respond, she spun out with a kick, sending the gun flying off into the darkness of the gallery. Meyers’ eyes popped open wide, seeming to absorb all of the light within the room, and his hands moved to the wheels of his chair. Again, Isa moved faster than he could react and dashed in, grabbing his hands and pinning them against the armrests of his chair.
Meyers sputtered and struggled, but could not overcome Isa’s grasp. “You’re not going to tell anyone I was here, old man,” she spat the last two words. “You’re not supposed to have that statue, and I’m not going to let you bury it someplace where it can’t be returned to its rightful owners.”
“Rightful owners!” Meyers said. “There’s no such thing. I have it, my family has had it for generations, by all rights it is mine. Who are you to try and take it from me?”
Isa shook her head and leaned in a bit closer, to meet Meyers eye-to-eye. “I’m just a woman with a job.”
“Ah, payment,” Meyers said with a grin. “I understand that quite well. I can meet what you’re being paid. Double it, even!”
Isa snorted and gripped Meyer’s hands harder, until he squirmed in his chair. “It’s not about the money, it’s about what’s right!”
“Oh, a gentlewoman thief? How nouveau!” Meyers coughed until phlem splattered out onto Isa’s shirt. “But I can tell there is something you want, even if it’s not money.” His eyes sparkled then, crystalline in the purple illumination. “The Hols. I’ll let you have them.”
Isa’s grip faltered, but Meyers remained still, gazing at her with those eyes. “No,” she said. “I can’t. I have a responsibility, and the return of a cultural artifact is more important than my own desires!”
Meyers’ grin turned up at the corners of his lips, a cruel smirk. “Ah, but if you don’t accept my offer, I will burn the paintings.”
Isa froze completely then. She could escape with the statue hidden in her satchel, but there was no way that she could sneak the paintings out. The strength drained from her body and she slumped down. With a laugh, Meyers turned his chair and rolled out of the gallery, leaving her kneeling on the floor.
Ultimately, there was no choice. She pushed herself to her feet and walked over to the case she had just opened and retrieved the statue. The Hols might burn, but she had a job, and there were people who needed her help.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 04:08|
Thanks Enten for crit.
Hmm. I like this guy's voice, he's ridiculous in every way without being grating. The problem is that there's no real character arc and the resolution of the conflict is practically a deus ex machina (only it's "robot attacks, everybody dies").
The Sky Castle
I liked it. You set up everything well, and the robot war was nicely clear but subtle. Only thing is that Loop felt undefined in the beginning: leaving The Professor behind seemed pointless and random.
Pretending You're Lead: Robot Impersonation in Five Simple Steps
I like the structure, a set of vignettes. I was going to say you don't have enough story structure here, but then you do have an opening and a closing. I think it's enough. You have some silly spelling/missing word mistakes here and there that detract from the understanding, though.
Revenge-Filled Hentai-Stealing SexBots! The Savior of Anime Appears!
What the gently caress is a slovish? Did you mean Slavish? Slovenly?
You used 'started' twice in two sentences and then the anime has immediately ended. Why did you spend those sentences on its if the content's clearly not important?
I'm not sure what happened here at the end. The bots became so smart that their one weakness was someone talking to them like they were real human beings?
This got better as it went on but it really dragged in the beginning. I'm not sure making the robot the viewpoint character was the best idea. It's bland and uninteresting, and the DM is the only other real character but doesn't show much personality, either.
This is very pretty writing but I'm not quite sure exactly what is going on. I think he's a robot, they're all robots now, no more humans? Pandora is a robot that somehow tapped into some memory from her creators and somehow ascended to become a techno-blob dictator, and at the end she destroys the non-believers...?
Paragraph 2: You put his speech right next to her action marker. Needs a "he said" tag or similar in the middle.
You just applied subtext to subtext (because none of these eyes are actually talking). You're mixing your figures of speech and it's not really working. There's a lot of little errors and extraneous words throughout but you can find those. (I mean, an audible crunch? what other kind is there?)
The real problem with this piece is tone. The opening is bizarre (why is she (allowed) there?), the attack is mawkish, overwrought, and too detailed and explicit, the robot is unmotivated which I guess is your point but when it's your second of two major characters that's not a good thing. It basically leads up to the ending not being cathartic at all, just a kind of 'huh. that happens.' like a Tarantino jump cut. It feels like the first 90% is over-bloated window dressing for the last 10% where the interesting things happen... or would, if you wrote them. You jump over the interesting points where the character changen and just out a ream of backstory for her instead.
We Will Be Brave For the New World
Kind of interesting, but dull. She teaches the computer about what the world was like, therefore it decides to rebuild it, the end. It feels like the sole problem is introduced and solved in the first third of the story and the remaining two-thirds is epilogue--a cheery utopian two-thirds, too, which is especially stark thanks to the unbalanced story structure.
The intro was interesting. Much more than what came after.
For the bot fight my eyes just glazed over. You spend way too many words writing long compound sentences to convey quick events. To write fast action, if you're not going for a specific stylistic effect (and I can't see that you are) you want quick, punchy sentences. Yes, it's a stylistic preference, but what you have here is just bland boring gray overstuffed stentences. Almost any change would be an improvement.
I don't understand what happened at the end at all. I guess you were just going for the generic unexplained scary movie twist ending? But this isn't a movie so a jump scare doesn't work.
Care and Feeding
It's a cute role reversal story I guess. You do a good job using pet-verbs and nouns to otherize the situation. I don't know why the humans are acting like pets though.
Don't neglect your appliances
This feels like a joke stretched to fill
Um. "Shocking"? I'm not sure what's going on, especially at the end (this is a refrain this week). Too much vagueness and hinting and not enough describing what is actually happening. I mean more than the second-by-second events; you can hint things, but things are not even being hinted here.
Good description, good internal voice of ... . It's a nice understated setting and ... felt pretty believable and real in her motivations.
Andrew just keeps acting dumber and I'm not sure why the doctor and headquarters would go along with letting Nadia in in that state. Did he hide what had happened? ... started feeling kind of dumb as the last of her story played out, too. "I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I did any of it" tends to lose its effectiveness as an excuse over the course of hours after the adrenaline has worn off.
Duck, Duck, Goose
OK, yes. It's silly and over the top and it's a robot-spy murder mystery. Things actually happen and are resolved. It seems like the parts should make it great but... it isn't. I don't know, somehow they don't quite come together in a way that made me really pay attention as I was reading. I missed Maria's tell the first time through. It's a bit subtle; she thinks she's fitting in?
A Gift for Emily
Could use a stronger opening line. Set up why the finding the voice is meaningful, rather than 2 paragraphs in.
I'm not quite sure who J18 is - household appliance, I guess some servant bot, feels he owes her? That's the only motivation I can see.
No real complaints, though. Nice and understated.
Andy, Alphie, and Robby
OK, yeah, you know what you did. I assume you know what a story and character development are, too.
The bizarre thing is you telegraphed the 'shock' ending in giant burning magenta letters in the middle of the story.
Blurg you do this thing. "Noun verbs, its noun verbing." Why! Why do you do this thing in the middle of a normal paragraph! What is wrong with "Noun verbs. Noun verbs." Unless you are using a specific grammatical structure gambit (you aren't) you should not do this fancy poo poo that obscures what is actually happening. That goes for so, so many of the writers this week.
Beyond that it is a nice story, though. You do more interesting things here than a lot of other stories this week. I enjoyed it.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 04:11|
And Edward Would, Too.
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 03:24 on Jan 8, 2016
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 04:53|
Rho had never seen a healthier-looking drug addict in his life.
The way his father had painted it on the phone, his brother Zain was “visiting” with him for a week because of “drug-related problems.” He’d spent the time leading up to Zain’s arrival preparing for pockmarks, sallow eyes, and pauses scattered like small sinkholes throughout each conversation.
But as Rho gave his younger brother an informal tour of the SAGE-II, he kept looking back at Zain, or the person who said he was Zain. This guy had Zain’s face, but now it was on a jacked, blonde-maned juggernaut. He had to wedge himself through the narrow corridors of the SAGE-II like a clenched fist through a steel sleeve.
“That about covers it,” said Rho, stopping in front of the communal bedroom door. “There’s a loveseat back in the common area, but I can pull out a cot for you if you want,” Rho said, drumming his thin fingers across his right thigh.
Zain was staring out of one of the portholes at the edge of the ship. They were at eye level with the clouds, the ground a mile below. “You sure we can’t get shocked in here?” Zain said.
“Every Station for Atmospheric Gathering of Electricity is insulated with a high-tech layer of shock reducing polymers,” recited Rho from memory. “You have a higher chance of being struck by lightning nine times when you’re on the ground than getting a zap on the pinky when you’re in here.”
His brother turned toward him. “You sound like you know what you’re talking about, dude.”
It was the first time that Zain had looked him in the eyes since liftoff, and there was an untethered spaciness in Zain’s stare that made Rho wring the hem of his captain’s shirt. Now Rho knew for sure. “That—that’s all you wanted to know?”
“Welcome aboard, then,” said Rho, forcing a smile. “I’ll be at the controls if you need me.”
Rho turned and walked back down the corridor, descending daylight flitting across his face as he went, his footfalls light and quick. If I can keep him alive until we touch down, Rho thought, I’ve done my job.
Three days passed like white noise, the crackling of the static field on the roof soundtracking the monotony.
Rho sat in front of the main controls and drummed his fingers against his armrest as he thought of Zain, thought of how different they looked from each other now. Rho’d peered at him from around corners at times, peeked past doorjambs, trying to look inside what Zain’s life had turned into. He wasn’t trying to avoid him, exactly—he was just trying to check on his brother without being caught.
The few times they’d spoken, it was in terse bursts, greetings and salutations. Rho understood that this was his penance for drifting away from his brother in the first place—that his brother wasn’t safe on the ground anymore. This was part of his “healing process”, as his dad said.
A flashing red message popped up on his screen: Thunderstorm Approaching. Surge Imminent. Initiate All Safeguards.
Rho flipped a few switches in succession, then stood up and walked towards the rear of the station. Time to do a quick headcount.
He peeked his head into the common room and saw the four other crewmembers: three were playing dominoes, and the old mechanic named Ojeda was banging the side of the television and cursing the staticky screen in Spanish. Rho nodded, then turned toward the bedroom. “Hey, Zain?” he said as he walked in.
No answer. The bedroom was empty.
Rho frowned. He had never seen Zain anywhere but the common area and the bedroom, and there weren’t that many other places he could—
His gaze drifted to the end of the hall, and his thoughts splintered apart.
He looked at the ladder leading up to the ceiling hatch, marked with CAUTION: AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.
No, thought Rho. He wouldn’t.
Maybe a sober Zain wouldn’t, sure. Those eyes he’d looked into that afternoon? They could and would do a whole lot of things.
Rho leapt forward and clambered up towards the hatch, throwing it open. He hauled himself up and onto the roof.
A glistening silver field swayed in front of him, the size of a baseball diamond. Ten-foot-tall metal antennae were clumped together by the thousands, too thick to see through, soaking up the static energy as the air rustled through it, molecules brushing against molecules. Rho pictured Zain sitting in the middle of those silver cilia, arms waving in sync, pupils as large as hubcaps.
He stuck his arm out and waded through the metal stalks, feeling a light buzzing sensation. They were safe to touch now, but once that grey cloud made its way over—
“Zain!” Rho shouted as the wind began to rush past him, stepping tightly through the waves of chrome. They were swaying back and forth over his head, taunting him as every particle in his body vibrated. “Zain!” he yelled again, the name torn out of his mouth by the approaching storm.
He spun back around and suddenly slammed into Zain’s thick chest.
Rho staggered back against the thick strands of metal. Zain was yelling something that Rho couldn’t hear over the wind. “What?” Rho yelled.
Zain rushed towards Rho, picked him up and slung him over his shoulder, and turned back towards the edge of the ship. “Put me down!” Zain yelled, clawing at his back. He gritted his eyes shut, expecting Zain to take him in his thick arms and toss him over the side—
And then he heard the hatch door clank shut above him.
They dropped to the floor, and Rho wriggled out of his brother’s arms, yelling “What do you think you were doing up there? Are you on drugs right loving now? Do you even understand any of the words coming out of my mouth?”
Rho rocked on his heels, rapidly tapped his fingertips against his thighs, panted through gritted teeth. “You know—I blame Dad. If there was ever a dumber idea, in the history of dumb ideas, than to send a practicing drug addict up into a million-dollar energy station, all for some kind of happy-horseshit healing process—“
“Is that what Dad told you?” said Zain.
“What?” said Rho. He tried to focus on Zain’s face, but it kept forming and reforming in front of him. Rho shook his head. “What did you say?”
“Dad sent me here to look after you, bro,” said Zain. “He said he was worried about you, that you wouldn’t get off the ship anymore. Said a whole bunch of stuff about side effects, heart problems, paranoia—”
“Wha—“ Rho rubbed his eyes. “He—told you—”
“He told me you needed help, yeah.” Zain clasped his hands together. “If anyone’s drugged out, it’s you, man. Wacked out on electricity.” Zain sighed. “He said that if you don’t leave with me, he’s having you carried out of here bound to a stretcher.”
“He’s—“ Rho’s hands were shaking. “He’s—lying. You’re lying. Lying. Everyone’s lying. Lying—“
“Rho, please. Don’t.”
That stare was in Zain’s eyes again. Rho couldn’t, wouldn’t look at it. He staggered away, back down the hall towards his control panel, towards where he was supposed to be. Lightning flashed through the portholes, sending beams of light through the darkened hallway. He didn’t break his stride for a second.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 05:00|
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 21:56 on Jan 2, 2016
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 05:30|
The Desert's Milk, 1144 words
“I could pick off one of those bastards from here,” Roy said. He shrugged the rifle off his shoulder, and held it loosely in front of him. “He isn’t even moving.”
“And then what, Private?” Ewan replied. “You haven’t got enough bullets for all of them. Besides, they’re just following.” The Arabian sun beat down on them, burning and cracking the young military officer’s skin. He had been a fair skinned man, back home in Oxford, prim and proper. A few hard days of survival had taken that image away.
“We’re clearly lost. They’re waiting to slit our throats.” Still, Roy slung the rifle back over his shoulder and followed behind his commander. Every now and then, he’d look back to see if they were still following. ‘They’ were at least three men, although certainly many more, wearing long, black robes that covered them from top to bottom. Unlike the typical native Arab, none of them seemed to have horses. Always, they were very careful to keep their distance.
“They can’t be from too far away, right?” Roy said. “If they’re on foot like us. We could follow them back to their camp - they’ll have water there.”
Ewan stopped and looked back at him. “They know the land. We wouldn’t be able to keep up with them. Our best bet is to keep on moving, like we have been.”
“Not if they’re wounded,” Roy said, quietly. He was the older of the two men, strangely enough. He was a proper Welshman, born and raised in Tryweryn valley before his army days. Rank only trumped seniority so much in this situation, and he shrugged the rifle off his shoulder again.
“Fine,” Ewan said, giving into the inevitable outcome. With one smooth motion, Roy brought the rifle to bear and cracked one off at the strange men in black. The one man was thrown to the ground by the force of the bullet, while his two companions disappeared behind cover. Ewan had barely taken two steps forward before the downed man jumped up and ran off.
“You missed him,” Ewan said.
“Like hell,” Roy replied. “This is some devilry here.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter either way, he’s clearly not wounded enough. We’ve got to keep moving before night falls. I don’t think we’ll find any water today.” Ewan turned, and kept on walking towards the distant rock formation.
It was dark in the cave formation. Neither men had the energy to scourge up firewood, and the results seemed doubtful anyway. Instead, they sat near the back with eyes on the entrance. Roy had his rifle at the ready, waiting for the outline of a man at the cave entrance. Ewan kept his pistol holstered for now, but both men were tense.
“You should get some rest,” Roy said. “I’ll take first shift.”
“We shouldn’t have shot them,” Ewan replied. “Now they’re hostile. Letting us hear them but not see them. They’re playing with us.”
“Only reason to follow us is to pick our pockets once we croak. Wasn’t any worse than shooting a vulture,” Roy said. “Get some sleep, sir. I’ll be here.
Ewan tried to keep his wits about him, but it was no use. With the bag over his head and constant jostling, he was completely disorientated. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway - they had his hands and feet tightly bound. He tried to hear some sound, some hint of Roy’s condition, but that was useless. The general hubbub and sound of men talking was too much.
“Bring forward the recruits!” A loud, aristocratic voice said in English, before two sets of arms lifted him up and put him before a fire. They pulled the bag away from their heads, and Ewan gave a childish shriek.
“Demons!” Roy hollered. The thought had passed through Ewan’s mind as well. The strange men of the desert had attacked them after Ewan dozed off, and he never got a chance to see them or fight back. Now, in the lighting of the fire pit, their visage made his stomach turn.
Their captives, to the man, were dessicated corpses. Grinning skulls with empty eye sockets stared at them, with dried leathery skin giving them the barest hint of humanity. The monster in front of them, clearly their leader, was a profane mockery of man - a mummified corpse, sitting and chatting as if it was a Sunday brunch.
Ewan and Roy looked to each other in terror. Ewan expected a verbal lashing from the enlisted man after falling asleep during his shift. Instead, the hows of their capture seemed like the least of Roy’s worries - the man was more focused on saying prayers and scooting away from the dead around him.
“Dead men of the desert, we greet you,” spoke the mummy leader.
“We’re not dead! You are!” Roy shouted back.
“On the contrary, my good man. We have escaped death, as you’ll notice we’re still moving. You, however, were lost in the desert with no food, no water, and no shelter. I honestly doubt you’d have survived tomorrow.”
“You could have helped us,” Ewan said quietly.
“Not really our thing, Mister…?” The corpse tried to make his rotten face form an inquisitive look. It only half failed.
“I’m Ewan Brookes,” he replied. “And that’s Roy Llewellyn.”
“Ah. We’ve got a few Llewellyns in the unit, we’ll introduce you after you’re recruited.”
“Recruited?” Roy shrieked, incensed. “Into WHAT? Your barbarian death cult?”
A complete silence settled over over the group. Slowly, the leader stood up, tall and regal despite the missing flesh. He shook off the robes, revealing the ragged and torn uniform of a British corporal.
“We are not Arabs,” the leader said emphatically. “And we are not dead.”
“Yes, um, about that,” Ewan stammered. “I was hoping for some answers?”
The mummy turned his eyeless sockets from Roy to Ewan, then clapped his hands. Knives flashed, and suddenly the ropes around their hands and feet were gone. Seconds later, two wineskins filled with some sort of white fluid were thrust into their hands.
“You are the dead men of the desert, of proper British stock. As such, we’re offering you an alternative from the death in the desert that is your destined fate. Drink this, and you’ll live forever here, as one of us.”
“I’m not sure why’d I do that,” Roy said. “Seems a bit blasphemous.”
“Oh, well, if you think you’re all right with the Good Lord, we’ll be happy to let you die. I mean, if you’re so sure you’re in Saint Peter’s big book, with no sinful deeds that might make you a bit hesitant.”
Roy and Ewan gave each other a look. There had been a lot of whores in Damascus.
“I’ll drink if you drink, Sir.” Roy finally said.
Ewan nodded, and put the wineskin to his lips.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 05:52|
Give Me a Home - 1109 words
Banishment. The penalty for theft. Only when you get caught though.
The latest village I’d been run out of was Hollow Creek. Before that was Trinmoore, I’d forgotten most of the names of the places before that.
After six weeks in the wilderness I was tired and in dire need of a good meal.
It happened the same way every time. Find a town, steal meals, get caught, get thrown out. No-one would ever give a stranger a job in most of these places since the only reason people left their hometowns was for trading, war or banishment. I didn’t look like much of a merchant with only the clothes on my back. I didn’t have an army behind me either, so people would generally put two and two together.
Without a map I’d gotten lost about four weeks ago when I strayed of the cart roads to take a poo poo in the woods, I got spun around and now I was wandering blindly across the land.
I’d been walking down hill into a vast valley. The sun was setting and unless I could find a suitable place to sleep for the night. I’d have to start running again when the beasts came out to hunt.
I heard the howls carry across the wind. They sounded far away, they always sounded far away. Right up until the beasts snap at your heels, hungry for blood. They’d been chasing me all night. I kept running, the long grass of the plains whipped my face, a bug was snared in my beard, and blood trickled from the split in my forehead blinding my right eye.
“Be fast or be dead Jarah.” my brother’s words echoed through my head. I was always the fastest. The treeline was close. I’d be safe soon.
I heard snarls and heavy footfalls behind me.
I burst through the long grass into the forest. Not far now, there’s no way they’d get me once I was well up the trunk of one of the a merani trees I’d seen from the top of the valley.
One grew ahead, thick vines were winding up the sides of it, strangling it in a competition for the sunlight that would soon crest the horizon. I grasped at the sides and clambered up.
As I looked back the beasts came crashing through the underbrush with terrifying speed. One of them hit the base of the tree, scratching and clambering up the trunk, it sank its teeth into my leg, I screamed and kicked at it with my free leg. The weight of the animal caused my grip to slip slightly. Its retractable claws dug into the soft, green wood. Something whistled past my ear.
No. Not past it. Through it.
A spear sank into the left eye socket of the beast. It jaws fell open away from my leg. Its claws retracted, all except for one. It hung limply from the side of the tree. Its neck arched back, over extended from the weight of the spear.
A rope net dropped to me. Exhausted, I slid myself into it slowly. Whoever was above in the treetops began lifting me to safety.
My vision closed in. It all went black.
When I awoke, my leg hurt. I sat up slowly. The teeth marks had been sutured using bull ant heads. I was glad I had been unconscious for that.
I looked out through a lattice of entangled vines to be blinded for a moment by the glare of the sun reflecting off the tiny droplets of morning dew that were slowly beading together.
I wasn’t home. This was another, larger town, built high in the trees. There were roads of thin, intertwining branches leading from treetop to treetop spanning out over what appeared to be the entire roof forest. The huts were constructed in a similar manner. Vines twisted upwards out of tree branch floors and had been woven into sheltered canopies.
These people, whoever they were, hadn’t built this city. They’d grown it.
I tried to stand and collapsed in a pile on the ground. A young, blonde woman carrying a bowl of water ran into the room spilling some before she reached me.
“Don’t move, you’ll reopen your wounds!” she said, her accent was sharp and nasal like she was speaking with something stuck to the roof of her mouth.
“Please, I’ll be okay. I need a walking stick. Something to lean on.” I replied. I could tell by the look on her face that she was baffled by my accent too.
She disappeared without a word and came back with a spear, passing it to me. I leaned on it heavily and limped my way out into the tree city courtyard to take a better look.
“I’m Jarah” I introduced myself. “What is this place?” I asked her.
“My name is Cela. This is Leaftop. Our home.” she replied.
“I see. And you people built all this?” I continued to question her.
“We don’t really build, we just guide the trees to grow in a way that’s beneficial for us. It’s much safer up here at night than being on the ground with the Blackbeasts.” She answered nodding towards the wounds on on my leg and I didn’t doubt her.
We’d walked around the central street of Leaftop in a full circle. Some kids ran past a market stall grabbing a pile of fruit and kept running. I stood awestruck as the shop keep smiled and waved instead of chasing the little thieves.
“Woah, Woah! No place is this nice. Those kids just stole from that merchant and he doesn’t even care” I exclaimed
“They are not stealing. They take their fair share and go. Everyone here works and everyone and everyone who works may take something. That man provides fruit, one of the children there helps weave vines and I-” she paused and grabbed an apple from the stand and tossed it to me before adding “Teach the children.”
“So I guess I’m gonna owe you guys pretty big for pulling me out of trouble down there?” I asked.
“You get better first. Then we can find a role for you if you wish to stay. What is it you do where you are from Jarah?” Cela asked.
I’d never had a job. I’d been stealing to live as long as I could remember, but this was too sweet a deal to lose. Free food, free bedding. But all I knew how to do was be fast on my feet.
“I’m a messenger” I said.
It was a start, and all it had cost me was a good chunk of my left ear.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 06:18|
Signor Ugolino Sings the Blues
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 17:02 on Dec 30, 2015
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 06:18|
She was trying to do her homework and the boy with the black hole eyes was staring over her shoulder. He had been doing this for some time.
It was a reading comprehension test. “What was Cluny the Scourge’s motivation?” read the question. In her mind she heard her teacher’s droning voice.
“He wanted to conquer Redwall Abbey because…” and here she thought for a second. “He was evil,” she wrote finally.
“That’s not a motivation,” the boy said.
That did it. She spun around and shoved him away. “What do you know about anything?” she asked. “All you know how to do is creep me out.”
“You won’t learn anything,” the boy said, “if you don’t answer it right.”
She ignored him. “Even Cluny isn’t as creepy as you,” she said, “and he’s a giant rat. You know why you’re creepier? Because Cluny at least has one eye. You don’t have any.”
She gave him her best glare, all 90 pounds of her straining in fury.
He backed away. Then, looking around nervously, he sat in the far corner of the room, arms around his knees.
She moved towards the door.
“Be careful on the stairs,” the boy blurted out.
She slammed the door behind her as she left.
She took the stairs two at a time. Her parents were in their usual place, sitting on the couch watching T.V. The screen was zoomed in on a man’s face. It was so close up that he seemed distorted, his opening, closing mouth almost leaving the frame. Her parents were paying rapt attention.
“The boy with the black hole eyes is bothering me again,” she said loudly.
Her dad didn’t look up, but her mom gave her a look of concern, so for a moment her hopes skyrocketed, before her mom said, “are you and your imaginary friend having a tiff?”
She struggled to stay calm. “He’s not my imaginary friend! He’s a weird ghost, or something, and he won’t leave me alone!”
“Honey,” her mom said, “our daughter has such a big imagination.”
The whole time her dad had been focused on the T.V. screen.
“What he doesn’t understand,” her dad said, “is that this economic system is prejudiced against people of colour. It’s a system that labels them ‘thugs’ and then kills them without reservation.”
Her mom gave her a quick smile before refocusing her attention to join her dad’s.
She stomped back upstairs. The boy was staring out her window at the stars. Without saying anything she climbed into her bed and pulled the covers all the way over her head. When she woke up, the rat warlord who had haunted her dreams still fresh in the half-sleep, the boy had not moved. The sunlight was streaming in but he didn’t cast a shadow.
Soon the black hole eyes were everywhere.
They were on a classmate. What was his name? Tommy? Billy? Something stupid. He sat a couple seats behind her on the left. When she glanced around the room he was staring at her with black hole eyes, a dumb little grin on his face.
They were on her friends as they played in the schoolyard. They skipped rope, two by two, double dutch. When they asked her to play, the black hole eyes seemed to suck everything that was good out of their smiles. She shook her head and sat by herself, eating her lunch, thinking.
Soon all her classmates had them. A whole classroom of black-eyed children. Occasionally one would turn to look at her and smile. Not all at once, but eventually she thought that every kid in the class had looked at her. Every time one did she felt like someone was shining a flashlight in her face.
But her teacher didn’t have them.
Her teacher had written some questions on the board and then seated herself behind her desk, staying there, reading a book. Tess hadn’t bothered to answer any of them. She had been too distracted by the kids all around her with black hole eyes.
They were on the lady who sat on the sidewalk on the way home, leaves rustling about her like pet birds. The lady looked up at her and smiled but she could feel the black hole eyes piercing her.
When she opened the door her parents were where they always were. She stood there for a few seconds, watching the back of their heads. Please turn around, she thought
The air felt heavy and stale.
She moved towards them. Focusing on her mom’s long tresses, her dad’s hair cut short and businesslike on the back of his neck. It seemed to her that her feet made absolutely no sound. She paused behind them, so close she could reach out and touch them.
She stamped on the floor as loudly as she could.
Nothing. Like the sound had been drowned out by the chattering voices coming from the screen. Her parents had not budged even a centimetre.
She slowly inched around the couch.
Now she saw them in profile. Her dad’s awkward nose, her mom’s dainty earring. She saw their clothes, noticed, for some reason, their socks. One gray pair, one black.
She scooted around in a sudden movement, directly in front, in between, so she could see both of them.
Normal. Her mom’s green eyes, her dad’s brown.
“Honey,” her mom said, “could you move? You’re blocking the screen.”
As she went into her room, her hands were shaking, so that she had to stand still and breathe slowly to get them to stop.
“Are you okay?” the boy asked.
“Shut up!” she said. “Don’t ask me how I feel. You care too much, you know that? You care too much and my parents don’t care at all and nobody cares the right amount!”
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“I want you gone,” she said. “I want you to leave. How do I send you back to wherever you came from?”
“I don’t remember where I come from,” he said. “I don’t remember how I got here.”
“What do you remember?” she asked in exasperation.
“I remember waiting,” he said.
That threw her, something in his tone cutting right through her impatience. She took a second to adjust.
“Waiting?” she asked.
“For someone or something. For a long time.”
He looked like how she felt when there were no stars in the sky.
It wasn’t fair to other people, was it, she found herself thinking. To go through life not noticing anything.
She was fixated now on his eyes. The eyes that had started all this. You could drop a stone in those eyes, she thought, and never hear it hit bottom. How had she never seen that?
“I never meant to bother anyone,” he said. “I can’t help it.”
One day, she thought, there will be a world where everyone pays attention. I’ll be a part of it. My eyes will be black like everyone else’s. My head will be a hole and I’ll fill it with everything around me. With everyone.
“it’s not so bad,” she said. “Really.”
She smiled at him then, and moved over to her bookshelf. “The next one in the series is about Mathias’ son, Mattimeo.”
“Is Mathias a good parent?” the boy asked, his face brightening.
“Let’s find out,” she said. She took the book from the shelf, opened it, and began to read.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 06:22|
New Year, new thread!
Killer-of-Lawyers fucked around with this message at 17:52 on Jan 4, 2016
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 06:34|
A Flour-Type Bug (1075 words)
Flour spilled out onto the kitchen floor as Morgan staggered back, trying not to retch.
Something crawled across one of her feet and she screamed, kicking out frantically. After a second of panicked flailing, she backed out of Vivian's kitchen and gulped in huge, calming breaths. What the hell were those things doing in the flour?
Then she saw the mess she had made and groaned. There was no way to clean this up before her sister returned from the post office, since she didn't know where Vivian kept the cleaning supplies. And it wasn't like Morgan needed to aggravate Vivian further - she had been fairly irritable from the moment Morgan had showed up at her doorstep.
Well, she could at least do something. Forcibly ignoring the queasiness of her stomach, Morgan grabbed Vivian's kitchen rag from its position by the sink, wet it a bit, and began mopping up the floor. The bugs that had startled her into making the mess skittered about, but were inexorably swept up along with the flour.
Morgan had just managed to herd most of the flour into a neat, squirming pile when she heard the apartment's front door click open. Morgan froze, then stood up, brushing off her pants. Time to face the music.
"I'm back," Vivian called out. She walked over to the stairs, glanced up, and when she finally saw Morgan, frowned at her fidgeting in the mouth of the kitchen. "I thought I asked you to stay upstairs until I returned."
Morgan looked down and scratched the back of her head. "I was just poking around in the cupboards to see if you had anything else we could throw into the mix, when I saw that - hey!"
Vivian had pushed past her and was now staring down at the offending pile of flour and bugs on the floor.
"I'm really sorry about this." Morgan tried her best to sound properly apologetic.
"Don't worry about it. Can you fetch the dustpan from the hallway closet?"
"Sure!" As soon as the overly-enthusiastic response left her mouth, Morgan winced.
When she returned, Vivian was carefully folding up the bag that Morgan had spilled out across the floor. While Morgan watched in muted horror, she clipped it shut and put it back up into the cupboard.
She finally found her voice. "Vivian, what are you doing?"
Vivian's shoulders hunched up defensively, but her tone was flat. "What I'm doing is not wasting food."
"It's contaminated! It'll make you sick!" Morgan
"It's perfectly safe to eat." Vivian's shoulders were practically by her ears at this point, and her fingers gripped the edge of her kitchen counter in a white-knuckled grip. "Could you sweep up the mess you made into the garbage, please?"
Morgan swore Vivian had put an emphasis on the you. It was her fault, but - "Are we really going to pretend like there weren't bugs in that?"
Vivian's fingers gripped the counter's edge in a white knuckled grip. "Look, if weevils were poisonous, sailors would've gone extinct centuries ago."
Morgan blinked, but retorted, "It's still disgusting! Just buy a new bag!"
"Can we just drop this." Her tone was flat to the point of being insulting, but Vivian rarely sounded this exhausted.
Something was very clearly wrong. "Vivian?" Her voice came out more tender than she would've liked - Vivian hated being pitied.
Vivian glared at her, finally making eye contact. "What?" she snapped out.
"Is everything okay?" The following silence sounded deafening to Morgan's ears.
When Vivian finally managed to respond, it was like an explosion. "Is everything okay?" She practically swelled with rage. "I ask you to stay upstairs until I come back, but when I do return, it's to flour all over my kitchen floor!"
Morgan flinched. Whenever Vivian got like this, she practically took up the entire room with her presence.
"I know you really want to play the part of 'Angelic Younger Sister', but how about you mind your own god-drat business?"
Morgan felt like she'd been punched in the stomach. She choked out, "I'm sorry I made a mess in your kitchen. It's just that I-I thought I could put together some mug cake before you got back."
"Mug cake." Vivian's tone was flat. Morgan didn't dare make eye contact, but simply stared at the floor.
"Yeah," Morgan said. "I guess that was pretty stupid, wasn't it? I'm sorry I made a mess in your home." She looked off to the side. "If you want me to go back to Mom and Dad's, I can."
When no acerbic response came, Morgan looked back at Vivian. She was staring at her, eyes narrowed, and head cocked to the side.
"Do I have something on my face?"
"No, no. Nothing like that." Vivian sighed and studied the handle on one of her cupboards. "I'm sorry too. For yelling at you. It's just that - " She twisted her hands together and went silent.
Morgan finally prompted, "It's just that what?"
"That bag of flour was supposed to last me until my next paycheck."
After quietly digesting this piece of information, Morgan offered, "Throw it out. I'll buy you a new one."
"I don't need your charity." Vivian slumped against the kitchen counter, then mumbled. "And even if you did, it'd just get infected again. You pretty much have to go nuclear to get rid of them."
"Let me help." When Vivian looked up in surprise, Morgan realized just how urgent her tone had been. "You're my sister. I'm not counting debts, and you shouldn't either."
When Vivian opened her mouth to protest, Morgan cut her off again. "Think of it as paying rent, if it makes it better."
The seconds stretched out between them. Until...
"Fine. But not right now, okay?" Vivian smiled weakly at Morgan. "I'm a bit wiped at the moment."
"Sure! Do you want to finish up that episode from earlier?"
"Actually, as much as I like seeing dorks get electrocuted..." Vivian trailed off, then said tentatively, "Do you think we could try out that mug cake recipe you were going to make?"
At Morgan's hesitation, she clarified, "I have a sifter. Apparently that's what people in the old days used it for."
A couple more seconds passed. Vivian said, "If you don't want to-"
"No, don't worry about it." Morgan grinned at Vivian. "It sounds kind of cool, even if it's also really gross. Just let me clean this up first."
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 06:46|
The rest of life
Word Count: 1044
The great jungle cat stretched languorously across a mossy bend, sunlight beaming down on its chest. It's left front paw hung beneath a fuzzy fern, allowing small drops of water to occasionally splash it. The sun moved slowly across the skies, and in the distance a strange piping could be heard. The cat started to turn in the sunlight, and Darren woke up. He had fallen asleep on his front porch again, and by the look of the sun it must have been for over an hour. On his left was his table, a half drunk glass of ensure turning to powder. He shifted his weight, and realized that he was no longer alone in his chair. His Granddaughter rested gently against his left side, a small unsteady stream of drool pooling on the back of his hand. His daughter could be heard practicing inside the house, the sounds of Bach's Badinerie from the Suite in B minor drifting out the screen door onto the porch.
He was glad to have his daughter move in, even though he knew how hard it must be for her. He turned his head slowly and looked across the street. His neighbor stood in her front yard, glaring at him. She wouldn't approve of anyone under 50 in the neighborhood, least of all a single mother and her little girl. Oh well, let the old bitty steam in her own yard, his house had felt empty since his wife had died. He looked past his girl at the other table and saw the remains of her sandwich and a half empty glass of milk. Definitely his granddaughter. He looked at the sun as it approached the horizon, and knew it would be a beautiful sunset.
The great jungle cat lay in the grass, allowing the long green stalks to lay across its warm belly. It stretched itself out against the blankets, and Darren again awoke. This time he was in his bed, the glass of ensure actually emptied before he'd gone to sleep. His granddaughter again lay against his stomach, sleeping peacefully. He had always slept oddly, stretched out across the bed, his body making a strong curve from one corner of the bed to the other. His height practically required it, and his wife had always just put a pillow against arm and slept straight across the far side of the bed. When he'd been young and a new father, his daughter had slept between them, in the same place his granddaughter now slept, nestled against his belly and laying to the far corner, touching his stomach and his wifes feet. He felt like he should get up and move her to her own bed, but he liked the memories she brought up, so instead he reached into the night stand without moving her and grabbed another ensure. He drank it quickly and quietly, then the great jungle cat again hid among the grasses and ferns of its home.
His daughter was practicing with the symphony today, and his granddaughter was at preschool. Most of his friends had long since passed on, so he didn't understand why he was awake on the couch when he should be sleeping. He looked out the peephole and saw the woman from across the street. She was scowling at him through his door, practically radiating an intense anger. He opened the door without removing the chain, and looked out at the woman. For the first time he noticed she had a crooked lean, and her black ruffled dress flared out, giving her comical crow like appearance. She looked at him, glaring at him for a what seemed like forever. His stomach rumbled, and he wondered how long it had been since breakfast. He looked down at the woman, and she looked back at him. He sighed for a minute, wondering how to best get back to his nap, when he had an idea. He reached over to his table and grabbed a ticket to his granddaughters dance recital and handed her one through the door. She looked shocked for a minute, then hobbled back to her own yard. He shut the door and went back to sleep, and this time the great jungle cat rolled among the hills of ancient jungles, the still young sun looking calmly at the jungle king.
The dance recital was, from Darren's point of view, perfect. His granddaughter was in some kind of teal dress, her hair up in two buns. She moved with energy and confidence the other dancers didn't have, probably because they'd had an excellent dinner – he'd cooked steak and home grown peas, baked beans, plus he'd used the bread oven to make a fresh loaf of sourdough that he'd toasted in the upper oven with a little bit of butter and garlic. He'd also baked a blueberry pie for desert, and Mary Crow, the woman across the street, had brought home made ice cream. Two scoops atop each piece of pie, and they'd had the perfect dinner. Now his granddaughter danced across the floor while the other four year olds looked around unsure of themselves. He slumped back in his chair, his body going limp as his granddaughters class was replaced with the older girls. If he leaned his head just a little to the left, he could see her whirling around backstage, dancing out her boundless energy.
Mary thanked him for the invitation, and walked into her house with a crooked grin. Darren smiled as he walked inside and opened the fridge, preparing three more pieces of pie with ice cream on top. Three generations of his family sat around his kitchen table eating pie, his granddaughter laughing the same way his daughter once did. His daughter was smiling the impish smile that had always reminded him of his wife, and he knew that wherever she was his wife was smiling that smile too.
The great jungle cat stretched itself out against alabaster white walls while the sun smiled warmly upon it. Soon it would be joined by a giant sloth, and the two would lay against one another and enjoy the warmth together. For now, though, it knew that its family was basking in a warmth all their own.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 06:47|
Meera the selkie chased her skin to the horizon and beyond.
A down-on-his-luck sailor had found her sealskin while she’d been moonbathing on the rocky green shores of Eire. But rather than take her as his wife, the sailor used the skin to bargain his way into a high stakes bet. He lost.
The young man who’d won Meera’s sealskin was called Aiden. Aiden knew only that he’d won a fine pelt. He used the sealskin and what coin he had to buy his way onto a Spanish ship headed for some exotic new world across the ocean. And the captain of that ship, he’d thought the pelt would make a convincing gift for whatever savage kings they encountered across the sea, so he’d tossed it in the hold, along with a few other trinkets and a whole armory of swords.
Meera chased down the Spanish fleet, goaded by the call of her sealskin. Even without her webbed feet, she was a better and stronger swimmer than any human. When she got too far from shore, whales and dolphins brought her kelp and squid to eat, and let her sleep on their backs at night.
A selkie was meant to have her sealskin or her husband. To be in possession of neither was unthinkable.
The fleet came to a stop just off a white sand shoreline dotted with palms. The Spanish ferried themselves and their trinkets and their swords to land. Swarthy, dark-eyed locals watched with wary curiosity, and the wind that stirred their hair smelled of strange fruits.
Meera swam to shore, took her first steps on soft sand some distance away from human eyes. She covered herself best as she could with her knee-length auburn hair and watched the disembarking sailors, looking for Aiden, listening for the sweet, silent call of her sealskin. But there’d been nearly three hundred men aboard the Spanish ships, and Meera didn’t have an eye for human faces. The sky went dark and cookfires flared bright on the sand. The mix of Spanish spices and native flowers on the air made Meera hurt for the grey-green comfort of her fierce, cold home-sea.
As night fell, she dared to creep closer to the Spaniards. She could feel her skin somewhere on the shore, which made Meera too bold. Big, rough sailor’s hands grabbed her, wrestled her into the darkness beyond the clot of cookfires. He murmured things in Spanish, his voice heavy with lust and danger.
Aiden, by unlikely coincidence, was relieving himself a short distance away. Meera managed to cry out once before the Spanish sailor covered her mouth. Aiden knew the ways of sailors in new lands, knew that to interfere would start a beef with not just the sailor but his friends, too. But he heard something in Meera’s cry, some hint of preternatural beauty and grace, or perhaps he heard the knell of fate itself. Whatever the reason, he yanked up his trousers and ran to confront the sailor.
Selkies are surprisingly strong when they haven’t just been taken by surprise. The sailor turned when he heard Aiden, and Meera kicked backwards, shattering one of the Spaniard’s kneecaps with her bare foot. Aiden saw Meera, thought of the sealskin he’d traded for passage, and realized what he’d given up.
“And so I finally get to meet my husband,” Meera said, crossing her arms.
Aiden opened his mouth to tell the truth of it, that Meera was by all rights the captain’s wife, but the Spanish sailor let out a bellow of pain that summoned his fellows. And so instead, Aiden said, “go hide in the water, then meet me at dawn.”
Meera complied, fled to the safety of unfamiliar waters, but Aiden didn’t come in the morning. The Spanish accused him of communing with harpies and sirens. The wounded sailor’s friends had tied Aiden up and left him with the cargo for the captain to deal with.
The captain hadn’t attained his rank by being oblivious. When the injured crewman described a woman of preternatural beauty and strength, he thought of the sealskin, and understood that he had a wife, should he want one. He looked thoughtfully out at the water and licked his lips. But there were more pressing demands than pleasure. There was conquest. There was empire.
Aiden was handy for lifting heavy things. The inland trek to Tenochtitlan would require a certain amount of grunt work, so the captain ordered Aiden’s release.
Meera had no choice but to follow the Spanish inland, to the great, subdued city of Tenochtitlan. Its districts were divided by numerous irrigation canals, and the city itself crouched over a massive lake. Meera hid in the cloudy canal water, marveling at the odd taste of ripe mud and algae. She saw frilled axolotl salamanders, and felt a sort of kinship toward the amphibious creatures. They slipped in and out of the water just as easy as a selkie, though they didn’t have to shed their skins to do so.
The axolotls must’ve felt some kinship as well; one of them warned Meera, they are looking for you. And sure enough, the Spanish came with nets and sticks, and trolled the lake and canals like fishermen. Among them was Aiden, who couldn’t stand the thought of the captain taking Meera for his wife.
By then, Meera had grown callous to the call of her sealskin. She’d seen more in a few months than any of her kind had seen in whole lifetimes, had even come to like the thick darkness of the lake beneath the city. The axolotls had heard rumors of other fantastical places: a river that went for thousands of miles, and swallowed the forests when it rained; a cold place far to the south, where icebergs drifted like castles on the sea. Meera wanted to see it all, wanted to make all the waters of the world her new skin.
She was able to avoid the Spaniards for days. Once, Aiden caught a glimpse of her, and directed the rowboat elsewhere. But there were only so many places to hide in a lake, and the Spaniards soon enlisted the help of the locals. Meera was cornered beneath a rotting dock with nets on every side. She locked eyes with Aiden, who knew that Meera was not a creature who belonged in the bed of a conquistador.
Selkies die so rarely that it’s almost never spoken of in the pods. And so Meera wasn’t afraid when Aiden flung himself from the rowboat, hunting knife in hand. She wasn’t afraid when he held her against him in the water--for a moment, it was almost a husband’s touch--and drew the knife across her throat.
Meera had the curious sensation of her entire self pouring out of one thing and into another. Her human form folded in on itself like an empty wineskin, and her true essence gushed into the lake, clear and warm and free like summer rain.
She laughed and swirled playfully around her axolotl friends. It had been so easy, so obvious! The answer hadn’t been in donning a skin, but in shedding all skin, and becoming one with the water. She made herself into a current and whisked Aiden away from the Spaniards, leaving them only her empty skin.
Aiden gave himself up to the current, asked the water that was Meera, “where are we going?”
And she replied, “everywhere.”
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 06:49|
A fisherman brought Prince Hughes the first of the lies, written on cloth rolled up inside a clouded glass bottle. The coarse material had come from someone's shirt or trousers, but the ink was strong. Nine thousand men died on Gehen Field because the king was a fool.
The prince's thumb prodded the crust of beeswax still on the bottle's mouth. "You broke the seal," he said to the fisherman. "You read this?"
"Doesn't mean much to me. Thought it might to you, my lord."
Hughes gave the man coins and sent him away. Alone, he read the rest of a report of his father's ineptitude, of soldiers sacrificed in a battle that hadn't needed to be fought. All of it was false, he knew. All of it was treason. And he thought he recognized the hand.
Hughes put a bounty on such messages--quietly. He paid sailors for bottles found at sea, extra if they could tell him approximately where. The tight, cramped script was always the same, but the letters made different grim assertions about the king and his court: cowardice; war funds in private coffers; collusion with enemies.
For each bottle he drew a dot on a map. After a year of collecting, the lines he drew to connect and confine the dots suggested where the source might be found.
The sun was low when the prince's ship came in sight of the high grey cliffs of a scraggy island, a place without a shore--and yet--Hughes squinted through the eyepiece of his telescope. Holes pocked the rock wall, just above and below the tide line. One would admit a man.
The ship's captain said, "Highness, this is as close as we can get. The rocks around that place eat ships and spit out bones."
"Then I'll want the dinghy," Hughes said.
The oar handles rasped against his sword calluses as he drove the little boat toward the island. Dusk dimmed the light while he was still threading the rocky teeth that protected the cliffs, and he knew what would happen before it did: the boat hit stone lightly, but not lightly enough, and then he was swimming with nothing left to protect him if the ocean should push him forward.
But he made it--spitting salt water, he scrabbled at the cliff. His fingers weaseled into cracks and gripped slight protrusions; he sidled until he found a path that nature alone hadn't made. Its ledges were deeper, helped along by a knife, and Hughes pulled himself up to the level of the large hole in the island's face.
It stank of smoke, salt, fish oil, human, and ink. The lantern casting light from the cave's furthest recess was only a bowl of rendered fat. A patched dinghy took up much of the space, pieces of ship salvage--including a crate of bottles--ate half the rest, and what remained was occupied by a woman with a gun.
Hughes held up his empty hands. The pistol remained trained on his chest. "You wouldn't chase me here to talk, Hughes," the woman said, "unless you idolize your father less than you used to."
"You remember me."
"It hasn't been that long, whatever it feels like."
In his memory Lucia was tall, proud, and always immaculate, standing beside his father as his military advisor. Hair that had been sleek six years before hung in lank and salt-burdened tendrils. He'd never seen her out of uniform, certainly not in a shirt and trousers probably stolen from a dead sailor, the latter belted with fraying rope. The brand his father had set on her face pulled at her left eye and her mouth.
But the gun--that was as well kept as ever.
Hughes said, "My father let you live. To keep spreading treason is poor repayment."
The unscarred corner of Lucia's mouth twitched. "He meant me to die. I escaped, Prince. All the lies I ever told were for the king, in his service, and his problem was that I knew they were lies. My memory frightened him."
"How would you know? The people who taught you, what did they know? None of them are too close to the king, I'm sure of that. Tell me if I'm wrong."
He couldn't lie to her; that hypocrisy would turn his stomach.
Lucia said, "If you won't listen to anything you don't want to believe, you're his copy in waiting. Your people would thank me if they knew." She aimed the gun at his head.
Hughes rushed her. She didn't fire. Instead she slammed her forehead into his nose before their torsos collided, and he grabbed her arm, pounding it against the wall of the cave. She stomped his foot and shoved him backward. He twisted to ram his shoulder into her chest. The light flared and shook as the oil in the bowl rippled. He drove her arm against stone again, and her pistol fell.
He pulled his knife from his belt and shoved it up under her ribs, the way she'd taught him long ago.
He checked her gun, afterward. A bullet waited in the chamber. He threw the pistol into the sea along with Lucia.
When the moonrise and the high tide came, he took her boat and rowed out to the ship that waited, with a bundle of coarse cloth pages beside him and doubt spreading through his mind like a cloud of ink in water.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 06:50|
Todd sat at his desk, tucked away in the back corner of the classroom. He specifically chose the desk that morning, planning to hide away there for the rest of the school year.
Hiding always seemed to be one of Todd’s main instincts. He lived much of his short life trying to avoid any potential conflict, and yet he somehow managed to make an enemy on the first day of school.
“Alright class, please stay in your seats until the bell rings.”
Had he known how his day was going to go, he would have chosen the desk closest to the door. Even the slightest head start seemed invaluable.
His heart was pounding and his eyes were darting back and forth between the clock above the blackboard and out the window next to him.
He had replayed the scene at recess over and over in his head, trying to figure out what exactly it was he had done to inspire such anger. He spent most of the break reading by himself under a tree.
Well, maybe he wasn’t entirely blameless. He came to his first day at his new school wearing a Zelda shirt, dark purple jeans, and lime green running shoes. That combined with the whole reading alone at recess thing, one could argue he was practically asking for trouble with the stereotypical school bully.
Finally, the bell sounded and Todd jumped to his feet.
“Alright, now remember class, questions one through twelve from section eight are due tomorrow morning.”
Todd had no idea what questions his teacher was referring to. Ever since the incident at recess, the only thing occupying his thoughts was how he’s going to avoid the beating that was promised to him.
He had planned to be up and out before the rest of his class but instead found himself near the back of the line, slowly filing out anxiously with the rest of the students.
When he finally reached the hallway, he broke into a full tilt sprint towards the exit facing the school’s field.
As he burst through the doors, he couldn’t help but remember learning about the fight or flight response. He stood on the edge of the curb for a moment, considering his options.
“Hey, where ya goin’ loser?” Todd heard that terrible voice call out from behind him.
Flight it was.
Without looking back, Todd took off across the field and onto the pathway that lead through the woods and out to the neighbourhood where Todd lived. The plan was to just run home, but it was too risky now. The last thing Todd needed was for this knuckle dragger knowing where he lived. He took one look back, and saw the boy waddling across the field at an alarming rate.
Todd scrambled down off the path, into the woods. He pushed his way through what seemed like an endless amount of bare trees and bushes, each with sharp branches that smacked at him.
Then, the flurry of branches and thorns ended and Todd found himself in a small clearing with a single giant tree sat in the middle of it. The trunk of the tree was massive, as were the branches that jutted out and upward away from its heart, giving the tree an almost wineglass like shape, and creating what looked like a perfect hiding spot.
Todd ran to the tree, leaped and landed one foot against the bark of its trunk. He got enough traction to propel himself up and grab onto one of the branches. He pulled himself up over the branch, then plopped down into the shallow pile of leaves, dirt, and twigs that were cupped up in the middle of the tree.
He crouched there, cradled up in the crotch of the tree, between the thick branches that went up and surrounded him, like a cage with oversize bars. He waited.
Maybe he left?
He pushed himself up to look around, and felt something hard and round under him. He cleared away the dirt and leaves revealing what looked like a handle. Todd brought himself to his feet, stood back onto one of the branches, reached down and grabbed the handle. He pulled as hard as he could.
The top of the trunk flung open, revealing a hollow that seemed to go back down to the base of the tree. “What the…” Todd said a little too loud.
“Oh, Todd? Is that you hiding out there?”
The sound of branches breaking and leaves rustling filled the silence.
“Oh god, no.”
He looked back down into the darkness and briefly considered just leaping in, before he noticed that there was a makeshift ladder on the interior wall of the trunk. He stepped down and found his footing on one of the steps, then reached up gently closing the tree’s obviously man-made lid above him.
He stopped about halfway down inside the tree’s trunk, afraid to move. Afraid of making too much noise, but also afraid of what could be at the bottom.
He heard the muffled rustling growing louder. Then it stopped.
Todd was frozen, holding himself tight up against the bark. Luckily, he wasn’t claustrophobic.
“Whatever... I’ll see you tomorrow, dork!”
Then the rustling started again, this time gradually getting quieter. Todd’s heartbeat finally began to come back to something resembling a normal rhythm.
He took out his phone and opened his flashlight app. He shined the light down into the darkness, revealing what looked like a dirt floor. It was obviously further down than the height of the trunk.
Curiosity would probably get the better of most kids, but Todd wasn’t really the curious type. He headed back up towards the exit, then climbed back out to the top of the tree. As he closed the door beneath him, he could hear multiple voices getting closer.
“poo poo!” Todd whispered, as he crouched back down, burying his face in the leaves in a pathetic attempt to blend in with the rest of the tree.
“Hey, someone’s up in our tree!” he heard a female voice shout.
“Hey, who’s up there?” a boy’s voice this time.
Todd didn’t respond.
“Hey kid, we could see those neon shoes from a mile away.”
“Yeah, wrong shoes to wear if you’re playing hide and seek!” another voice chimed in.
Todd’s heart sank. He raised his head and looked down between the branches at the three children looking up at him. He recognized them from his class.
“Hey man, what are you doing up there? Hiding or something?” the smaller boy asked.
“Yeah, hiding I guess.”
“Who ya hidin’ from?”
“Don’t know his name, but he’s massive and has the face of a bulldog.”
The three kids all laughed.
“Yeah, nobody really likes him. He’s a total jerk.” the small one said. “Well I’m Jacob, this is my brother Tim, and that’s our friend Tracy. What’s your name?”
“Uh… I’m Todd.”
“So, you’re new to this school huh?” Tracy asked.
“Yeah, new to this whole town actually.”
Jacob walked up to the tree, neck craned up at Todd. “I found the strangest thing here the other day. Well, I guess you found it too. Did you go down there?”
“No way, too creepy, man.”
“Yeah, exactly. Didn’t want to go down there myself, so I told these two about it.” Jacob’s eyes were wide with excitement. “You should check it out with us, Todd.”
“Y-yeah... that sounds fun.” Todd said, smiling for the first time all day.
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 06:58|
it's midnight here and i'm tired so i'm closing it so i dont have to read anymore of your dumb pokéstories
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 07:18|
|# ? Aug 17, 2015 07:21|
Pokemon are fun. Well, pokemon are fun when they aren’t eating a stranger’s dreams, wearing their mothers’ skulls like hats, or stealing kids away and floating them off to some bad place. This week, I asked you to write about pokemon. Thankfully, each of you did that. I also asked you to write about pokemon minus the Pokemon. Most of you did that. Ultimately, there were a few stories this week that reminded your judges, Obliterati, Broenheim, Flesnolk, and myself, that pokemon are fun.
One story did that better than the others, and it was written by sebmojo. He is our winner for the week.
Furthermore, there were two stories submitted this week that also did a good job. We liked these quite a bit, just less than Seb’s. Those stories were written by Nethilia and Tyrannosaurus. They are our Honorable Mentions for the week.
I would like to take a moment to say that the judges really liked elements of many of the stories this week, but for most of those stories there was one element or nagging question which kept us from truly embracing it. There were even likable elements in many of our Dishonorable Mentions this week.
Speaking of dishonorable, Screaming Idiot is Dishonorably Disqualified for including a direct reference to the Pokemon videogame and ignoring his flash rule. Some of the judges did find Ogre to be endearing; however, your nerd draws hentai for a living and wasn’t lovable.
Continuing in the dishonorable train, PoshAlligator, Mons Hubris, J.A.B.C, Thranguy, and Bompacho all receive dishonorable mentions for this week. These stories DM for different reasons, but they generally fall into the categories of No Conflict or Infodump, with an occasional What the gently caress? thrown in. Like I said, there were likable elements in many of these stories, but they are otherwise fundamentally flawed.
There was one story this week, as there is every week, that made us judges wish that a balloon would come by and carry us away to hell. It would, certainly, be more fun than reading this specific story again. That story belonged to TheAnomaly. TheAnomaly chose a pokemon that spends 99 percent of his life sleeping and his story reflected that. He was successful. This isn’t a good thing.
Let’s go ahead and release the pokemon now.
Thank you to all the entrants this week. Now, Sebmojo, it seems that the throne is calling again. Perhaps you should take a listen and share...
a new study bible! fucked around with this message at 00:03 on Aug 18, 2015
|# ? Aug 18, 2015 00:01|
Taken Out by the Trash (Screaming Idiot)
Flash rule: Your main character is a nerd. He must be endearing, likable and not weird.
Opening line: gently caress you for making the story about video games. People called it and the first story you do it. fuuuuccccckkkkk i hope this isn’t a theme. AND ITS loving POKEMON. Ok it’s not about loving pokemon but why is that the opening. Ok, actually let’s talk about openings, specifically opening lines.
Edward reclined on the couch, eyes wide, focusing on the dancing pixels of the gaming device in his white-knuckled hands.
From this opening line my thoughts are this story (or at least the first scene) will be about video games. This story involves no video games in any of its plots so why is this here? Why did you waste your opening line, the most important loving line in your story, for a useless detail? Your first line, ideally, should at least give us some information about the plot. The best first lines are those that set up the conflict immediately. Like, maybe, “Ogre ran into my room and tore the 3DS out of my hand.” Right there, we have a basic conflict, with the immediate conflict being protag needs to get the 3DS back, and then we get some details about the relationship between the Ogre and the protag, i.e. it’s a poo poo relationship, and maybe the story would focus on that (that would make the most sense). Instead, a dumb detail that has no baring on the story at all. Anyways, gently caress this story.
Characters - Ogre is a stupid cliche character gently caress. Ogre becomes nice for no loving reason. Like he sees the porn drawing and he’s like “man, this is a kid I could totally like and be friends with” when the first thing I’d do is get the gently caress out of the room. But Ogre’s shift into liking the protag is stupid. Ogre I just don’t get. Is he supposed to be an rear end in a top hat? Someone I like? The comedic relief? No loving clue, all I know is that I don’t like him. Good thing that girl also liked drawing or protag would’ve been hosed. Also girl has like no character. Protag notes are in flash rule section. all the characters are stereotypes and stupid.
Plot - so character is playing pokemon and then douchebag roommate comes and then he likes at the kid’s fetish drawings? wtf why is this a plot? oh, it’s a getting laid story now (i know it’s not, but it’s fundamentally the same thing). not a very good one. it’s just stupid and pretty boring. i dont really know what this story is about until the second scene because it involves Ogre talking to the protag and my first instinct is this will be a story about Ogre and protag becoming friends, possibly bonding over porn. And that kind of happens, but it has no conflict because you set up “Ogre does not like protag” and then it is immediately resolved by “protag has drawing skills so now Ogre is impressed and they are buds yay!” Then you shift into the socially inept protag having to get his first girl, but that doesn’t have any tension because he never struggles with it. He acts awkward around the party for a paragraph and then he talks to a girl then he needs to be reminded to say his name and then boom, success, with the success being a contrivance (if that girl didn’t like drawing then protag would’ve been boned). No tension, no reason to root for the characters, plot lines that mean nothing (stuff about money, the porn stuff never comes into play, the guy didn’t even need to be in a garbage can, etc.). Just absolute poo poo, but at least it’s a plot.
Prose - “not unkindly” so kindly. gently caress off with double negatives. No dialogue tag in for the “party-goer” so I’m lost as to who's saying it. Wait, maybe it was the protag? Idk. and your attempt at comedy with Ogre shushing the party-goer landed like a loving plane crash that somehow didn’t even get up in the air. “the can’t lid.” loving proofread what the gently caress. You submitted early. If you had any excuse - for the record, you never have an excuse for not proofreading - it evaporates when you submit early. You got a chuckle out of me from “said the garbage can” because it was so nonchalantly written that it was kind of absurd, but then your other attempts at humor are so forced and awkward that it pains me to read. Your attempts at humor reminds me very much of how people try to over explain their jokes. Like they try to make their jokes obvious because you're afraid people aren’t going to laugh because they don’t get it, but if you make things so obvious, they fall completely. Subtly is the key to comedy (this coming from the guy who just wrote about sexbots stealing anime). Especially in writing where if you give loving detail to the humor people won’t laugh. Dialogue was not good at all. Adverbs, words used just to move people move around but with no character, terrible attempts at comedy.
Interpretation of the ‘mon - There was a guy in a garbage can. Man, that’s super lame, do something a little more creative. Maybe I could make an interpretation that Ogre was a poisonous pile of trash, but idk, doesn’t seem like what you were going for. Or maybe you interpreted as making it so your story was trash. C
Flash rule - “endearing” does not mean that he’s an awkward idiot who has never gotten a date and draws porn. The whole point of the flash rule was to make you write a character who has a stereotype and twist those around so that you character feels like not a stereotype because here’s the thing, people are not stereotypes. Also did you miss the “not weird” part because drawing porn is something I’d call weird but idk maybe that’s just me.
Seat of the Future (J.A.B.C)
Flash rule: Your story cannot be sad and no one can be killed. except for a magnemite, that’s the one exception. no fanfict btw.
Opening line: A bit confusing, though it does set up some character and gives a little hint to what the conflict is, although I’m not completely sure what it is.
Characters: Blah, generic scientist man does generic scientist thing and talks to some girl. Whatever, don’t care.
Plot: Guy makes flying machine, flies it, then it lands. What a loving bore. No tension, no conflict, everything just works out cleanly. Why did you write this story? There was no point in it at all.
Prose: People, proofread. You capitalized A for no reason. “walked out among the roar of a crowd,” among doesn’t feel right in that sentence. To maybe? “the voice of his breathing” or maybe just his breathing? Exposition in both dialogue and monologue! Exciting! Oh wait exposition isn’t. “You just make sure you come back to the present, then,” She said. If you are using a tag, do not capitalize words unless they are proper nouns. She should not be capitalized. Ughhh these dialogue mistakes are so annoying.
Interpretation of the ‘mon: gently caress off, you named the thing Skar. I hate you. Other than that, eh. Just literally the pokemon but not actually the pokemon.
Flash rule: Welp, it wasn’t sad so good job!
Something Good May Come of It (Entenzahn)
Opening paragraph: meh. establishes setting, but conflict and character development are weak. No conflict really besides “war” but it’s not clear what the war is or why it’s important to the character or even that’ll mean anything in the story.
Characters: Fairly decent. The boy probably could’ve gotten a bit more characterization, but Feiger was overall a good character that I enjoyed.
Plot: Nothing ground breaking. It was interesting and moved along nicely, although the ending felt a bit weak even though it was realistic.
Prose: Don’t really know why they would use people to fight against their own country. Seems like a terrible idea to give somebody a weapon that hates your army and country, but idk. I enjoyed it, some of the writing was good, though it was mostly just passable and readable and didn’t assault my eyes.
Interpretation of the ‘mon: So I think you went with the pokemon’s abilities (Run Away and Serene Grace, maybe Rattled when he realizes what he does) which is more creative than other people’s but that’s about it.
Rocks Fall… (Thranguy)
Opening paragraph: It’s interesting, but it’s very clear as to what will happen in the story. It’s not bad, but I wish it had more clarity with what the conflict will be and who will be a part of the story.
Characters: I have no loving clue. Narrator has no personality, Reggie has none either, everyone is just there to exist and push the plot along.
Plot: Wtf is this second scene? Three people boringly talked about some safety regulations or whatever the gently caress. Who cares??? Oh now Douglass is now a great engineer. Ty for telling me that. People talk forever and then characters finally do something but it means nothing because I have no reason to care.
Prose: loving exposition in the beginning of the third paragraph. loving shoot me. So much talking no anything happening. That last section action writing was unclear and hard for me to follow that I had no clue how big the boulder was because it seemed to be big but this dude could push it easy. Also, I thought he got hit, but I guess he didn’t. Idk, just some vague writing. Also so much god drat talking for the first like 75% of the story and it’s so boring.
Interpretation of the ‘mon: Not really sure since it seems like the poké is actually alive. But it’s ok.
The Magnet Machine (PoshAlligator)
Flash rule: rad facial hair
Opening paragraph: Completely useless. Great work! Ok it gives setting, probably the least important thing for me to know.
Plot: Boring opening of people talking about poo poo I have no interest in. Wtf beard powers. This was just so boring. Like, wow. So bored I don’t even want to talk about it and just forget.
Prose: loving proofread. You're missing a quotation mark. And a bunch of other things. Missing tag, hard to follow who’s talking, dull descriptions. So boring.
Interpretation of the ‘mon: Ok.
flash rule: There.
Why Cat Has Nine Lives (Nethila)
Opening paragraph: It’s really good as it tells me character and even sets up loosely a conflict. The only issue is this - “a silver Fox was born with a tail just like her” which I don’t really understand as a construction. How is a tail just like her?
Characters: Pretty decent although a bit one dimensional. Fox seemed pretty stupid, but maybe that’s because of arrogance. Idk, seems a bit unreasonable to say that.
Plot: It was ok. I just wasn’t feeling it. There was some leaps in logic that didn’t make sense. The tails having a mind of their own didn’t really make sense especially because animals could trade them away, and then why would it do that the tails of the other animals never went back to the other animals and only for cat?
Prose: Fable-like tone that I like. It’s a bit telling due to the style, but overall it’s alright, but could’ve been better. Just the tone kind of made me feel disconnected and it told a lot rather then showed which was lame and felt a bit easy.
Interpretation of the ‘mon: Decent. I thought it was pretty clever.
Director’s Commentary: At this point I got bored so I stopped doing this format because omg so loving boring.
The Anniversary Intruder (Mons Hubris)
opinion: what? a story about murdering a skunk. the prose leans between way too purple (particularly the opening) and some decent bits. But the plot and characters are stupid. The little bits I get from the protag make me hate him, and the plot is just... dumb. Like all it is is that he kills a skunk with no development besides the end.
Dream Talkers (Devorum)
Opinion: not great. Opening half was garbage, all the dialogue was way too long and boring. It had an interesting premise and went a direction that was unexpected, but then it did absolute poo poo with it. It just ends without... anything really. Dudes shows up at an old lady's house to rob her, then she's a big demon and... nothing. Disappointing really. Characters weren't particularly compelling and lacked personalities besides being swindlers. Just so much loving talking. Can we get stories that don't have people talking on and on, like that's the one thing I want.
Characters: meh. just kind of a generic old dude who can’t get over his wife, not much development on that front.
Plot: decent, but not really that engaging. The dreams just kinda go away without any complications. A bit too easy.
Interpretation of the ‘mon: Pretty good actually, the pink mist and dream stuff was well utilized I think.
A Civilization (Benny Profane)
This wasn't awful, just a little bland. The idea of rabbits/joeys having an advanced society and hanging people is kind of cute/funny but it's never really treated as anything other then "oh they're like humans but they're animals" so it doesn't do much to help the story. The story just felt bland, Flopsy had some character, but wasn't all that interesting and didn't keep me involved and the plot was just ehhhhh and didn't do much for me. Lots of talking again, but it's not TOO bad, especially because things happened, I just wished they'd happen quicker. And even then, not that much happened and it didn’t have a lot of impact nor any reason for me to care. Prose was alright, nothing really exceptional, just very average. Really average is just the word for this story it feels like. cute idea that devolved into basically a generic "i have to do my duty” story but with hands replaced with paws
Just Business (Meinberg)
I liked the opening quite a bit, but then it kind of peters out. The dialogue between the old dude and protag is ehhh, and then the conflict was weird and while I understood it, it didn't feel... right? I'm not quite sure what the statue is or why it's important, so the decision to go with the statue over the Hols is odd because I don't know what the hell it is besides possibly a Kenyan artifact. The stakes weren't clear and because of that her decision feels lame. Character was alright especially during the opening, but the ending was just blah. Especially with her falling to her knees because she couldn't make a decision. Feels very cliche. Bit of a disappointment.
Also possible pandering to me for some reason??? Anyways the girl is dumb, gently caress a stupid Kenyan artifact, get the Hols out of there. That's like way more important. Art history bias here.
And Edward Would, Too (Tyrannosaurus)
enjoyable. but holy poo poo man, those accents were not a good idea. it made it way too hard to read and was overdone, and really added nothing to the story in general. It wasn't anything too amazing, but I liked it and thought it was good. The opening parts were a bit dull but once it got towards the ending it really started going and I was genuinely interested in the characters. it just lacked… something. I just didn’t feel especially engaged with the story and it felt kind of by the numbers. It was well written, just kind of safe and predictable.
Charged (Ironic Twist)
I enjoyed it for a bit, then it sort of just kept going without doing anything and then twist ending and I'm just left think "meh." It had a great start that I was interested in, but it failed on its ending and I wanted something more then "actually maybe the protag is the drug addict!" Which then begs the question why the gently caress is Zain on the top of the blimp thing? If Zain was high, that's fine, but if the protag is supposed to be the druggie, then wtf. Felt like some artificial tension. Idk. Good opening that had me genuinely interested and just goes on without doing much and then has not an awful ending just kind of lame and stupid. No real character development either, just kind of keeps moving forward without much of anything.
lol this was great. I loved it. The dialogue was stupid, the premise was stupid, the resolution stupid, but perfectly so. Something is so great about this man wanting to eat somebody and then him being told it's against the law and that just makes him stop. It's cool, it's fun, I liked it a lot, probably my favorite this week. This just entertained me the whole way through and that’s more than I can say for about every other story. Funny thing is that this story is a complete story. Conflict, resolution, even a character arc. Wow.
The Desert’s Milk (Jonked)
Entire first two scenes could've been cut. Interesting premise but idk, just kind of fell flat. Characters weren't all that interesting and they just kind of accept turning into zombies, wished that fleshed out more. Resolution was just too easy, no real conflict, just kind of there, not really entertaining at all.
Give Me a Home (Bompacho)
Nothing happens. Guy goes into a communist utopia up in the trees and then they talk for a while and then the end. Boring, stupid, no conflict, not a story. Same thing as JABC’s.
Signor Ugolino Sings the Blues (Grizzled Patriarch)
liked the premise, very unique, well written, though it didn't feel like much of a conflict unfortunately. just kind of a vignette of this weird world that was entertaining and I liked it. the lack of conflict killed it here. it just couldn’t be a story, and it needed more meat rather then just being a cool idea. also pokemon interpretation is very very loose but w/e i dont really care that much.
Haunted (spectres of autism)
I get a "Harvester" (a weird rear end video game if you don't know) feel from this. It's a lot of set up and I was really hoping this would pay off and it kind of did, but not enough. Some of the dialogue was good, some of it was bad. It's a strange story, and I don't know if it's good or bad, all I know is that I don't hate it. I didn’t like how you told us what she wanted rather then show us, and it just kind of moved on without much of a conflict. It just kept moving forward and had a neat idea, but the idea didn’t really mean much at the end of the story which was disappointing. I wanted a bit more. The boy needed some more characterization and the girl was ok as a character.
Bone and Stone (Killer-of-Lawyers)
Ummmmm, gently caress, I have to write a crit for this. Uhhhh, let’s see, some chick leads these dudes and finds her buddy then. Then he discovers his ex killed her and she’s like “nah, gently caress you and don’t come back.” Idk, just didn’t give a poo poo whatsoever. Things happened, ok prose, just it meandered and whatever, these characters aren’t too interesting. How the gently caress do you get a named called First anyways if you’re the first person. I mean, unless you were literally the first living person, maybe, but it doesn’t seem that way. Also, she apparently saved the dudes and then they acted like dicks to her besides one guy? Why are those guys dicks if she saved them from loving cannibals??? Idk just a weird, not really anything to say story.
A Flour-Type Bug (Kurona_bright)
meh, kind of boring, but at least there's some kind of character development though it came really easy and just kind of happened without much reason. The resolution was just some simple and easy that it just felt fake and boring.
The rest of life (TheAnomaly)
Holy poo poo this is a baffling rear end story. This is like the most boring story in the world. Guy sleeps, then wakes up to granddaughter sleeping next to him, then that happens again, and then the lady shows up at his door and they stare awkwardly for a while and then he hands her a recital ticket for some reason, and then recital, then back to sleep. gently caress this was so boring I almost feel asleep, but I kept reading utterly baffled as to why anyone would write this story. Like, at least try to entertain in some way. This just didn’t even seem to want to entertain, just give me a boring rear end story about some sleepy dude.
Sealskinned (Sitting Here)
I enjoyed this one, but it had problems. It had a lot of things happening but they all felt underdeveloped and it just felt directionless and had no idea what you were trying to make your story. It’s like a fable, but it’s somewhere between an origin story, a “little mermaid” type story, and… idk something else. It needed to be more solid in what it was trying to say because while I liked it, there were just so many ideas and none of them were developed enough for me to really say that I enjoyed it completely.
Ink Clouds (Kaishai)
I wasn’t a big fan of this. The big problem was that there are these lies (or are they???) being spread around about the king, but I have no idea who this king is and why I should care if there are lies being spread about him. Sure, the protag does, but like, is the king good or bad? Am I supposed to root for him. I wanted something more specific of the lies, there were snippets, but they were predictable. Like “king has sent us to die” and “wastes money on war” has been done a million times over, I wish it was something more than that. The writing was good, but I didn’t care much for the characters so their struggles just weren’t important. The kid just wanted to defend his father and that was about his character, and while there’s a beginning of a character arc, nothing comes of it. Oh well.
Bleh. The protag is decently characterized but not much happens. Beginning is him freaking out over a bully, runs away, then finds a MAGICAL WORLD, but then the end. This needed to get to its idea faster and then flesh out that idea rather then stop writing before the interesting part.
|# ? Aug 18, 2015 00:07|
Obliterati's crits of rage, Week CLVIII
All in all a meh week. I did these in judgemode and they are in submission order. I also basically ignored the poo poo out of your Pokemon in most cases, so unfortunately for you I was grading solely on how good your story was. This week's theme is 'why? Why is nothing happening in this story?'
Spoilers: I do not find out why
Taken Out by the Trash
Goddamnit how hard was it to grok 'no actual Pokemon'? What did this do for the story, man? Now you're not just DM'd, you're DQ'd.
Worst bit is I argued to spare you until I considered the flash rule. Your Ogre character is alright, if we exclude how he wants to be some kind of gently caress-san to an 'endearing' nerd who apparently draws furry porn on DeviantArt or something (this is not my idea of endearing but maybe I'm a prude). Other than that though this is a series of events, which I suppose could have put you somewhere in the middle of the pack. This story kinda sits on the edge of farce, with the weird-rear end drawings and a guy radioing instructions from a bin, but never quite tips over into it properly. I'd say it had to either tone that up or down.
Seat of the Future
Nothing happens! What is this story about other than 'well Skarmory is a metal bird, better have some of that in there, hey planes are metal and bird-like'? Why should I care about these characters? Nothing happens, goddamnit! Nothing!
Something Good May Come of It
See, this is a story in which things actually happen. The problem is, most of these events and decisions seem really forced, which is a shame because I want to like this story. Your main man has his reasons for suddenly going 'you know what, gently caress your society' but we only hear about them in any way afterwards so it feels more like you shoved that in to explain something after the fact. Judges agreed that the problem here is why this stuff happens now. Why is this kid the one he saves? Basically this story needs more why.
Also this title is hackneyed as all hell.
Never split titles like this ever again.
Also, get to the point. This story almost entirely takes place in the final third. You don't need the first third to tell us that an engineer exists and he's ragin' against the system. There's so much talking that you have to interrupt yourself with a goddamn earthquake. Speaking of which:
I was interrupted by the earthquake.
That's the only relevant sentence in the paragraph. Do we really need to know it was 6.6? No. Was that Richter Scale? Who cares? Does the earthquake interrupting not sufficiently imply that some difficulties have been encountered? It bloody well should. Your protag has just been interrupted by an earthquake. He should stop talking for a second.
Fewer words, more content. Show don't tell.
The Magnet Machine
Your protag and antag are indistinguishable. I don't know who's saying what when: if you're not going to use 'X said' and 'Y said' your characters need to have distinctive voices that clearly delineate who's who. That's hard, so just attribute your dialogue.
This is a common theme in this story: I barely have any idea what is happening. Why does Susan matter other than being dramatically dead in the background somewhere? Why does one of these guys have a magic beard? What is the deal with the compass? All these and more baffle me.
Why Cat Has Nine Lives
So yes this is cliché but fable is probably the one style where you can get away with that – hell, it's almost expected. My main beef is the title's bait and switch: this story isn't really about the cat, and the little bit at the end feels tacked-on, like you titled this in advance and realised late on that it didn't work. Common roles for cats in mythology include 'that guy on the sidelines taunting the protag': if Cat had had a more active role like that earlier in the story in addition to what's already there, I think it would head off my objection. You could possibly also cut some of the trades mentioned, as they go on a bit long.
Still, I liked this one. Voice is maintained throughout, and, radically for this week, there is character development and also actual events and that's nice
The Anniversary Intruder
I keep asking this today: why is this happening? Where is the conflict? Is murdering a skunk a metaphor for their dead, stinky relationship? Krystal does nothing here but occasionally break up a colossal paragraph of animal cruelty with a variant on 'don't do that'. This plot is just... what is this? Graphic is not a free pass to good.
The Dream Talkers
This story is just kinda flat.
I get annoyed by the phrase 'seemed to'. You use this a lot, and it's not a substitute for confusion, or uncertainty, or anything like it. It's just wasting words to hedge your bets. Commit to your descriptions.
I like your first two sentences. What you're going for there is good, but the rest of the paragraph's a waste of time and words. Tighten it up!
This story falls down on what it is he's actually afraid of. It's a very cliché fear, and it's not really foreshadowed beyond it being bad and scary. The Dream Catchers themselves are just a little short of deus ex machina – who are they? What are their motives? There's no immediate conflict in this story, but there could be one.
This story's sole conflict appears to go like this: “oh no, enforcing the law might not be the best decision! However, it's the law so uh I guess we're going to enforce it anyhow.”
In the end this story feels like some words to pad out the mildly amusing discovery that I'm reading the gritty reboot of Watership Down. You don't do anything with this. They're just people with adorable little noses. Why are they rabbits and kangaroos at all? What does it achieve other than a literal interpretation of your prompt? This story would be identical with human characters, is what I'm saying.
It also bothers me that your protag sits out the final conflict and yet you're trying to give him a good send-off. This is a stereotypically British captain, right? The traditional form is to die with the men, don't you know. You could keep much of the end scene as a battle prep rather than walking out to straight-up die. I don't hugely care that Thumper is dead.
I literally am an archaeologist, so I got the 'cultural repatriation, also gently caress colonialism' angle but there's nothing here to hang it on. This is a shame because gently caress every pre-60s archaeologist and every private collector, they are the worst humans. If this was what you were going for, you had a lot to work with!
Sadly it is not worked with. There's a bog-standard cat burglar story in here but that repatriation, that settling of ancient debts, ought to be your angle and it ought to be worked hard. Why does she sympathise with the Kenyan government's agenda? That part where she makes the choice to stick with it is obviously the crowning moment of the piece, but it doesn't really hit home because all we have is her asserting that it's the right thing to do. The old guy doesn't really have a personality beyond 'nefarious', he oscillates between madly possessive of and almost nonchalant about his artefacts, and the whole thing edges on melodrama (who drops to their knees when confronted with choices about art?).
This all being said, the basic notes are hit. Character has goal, obstacles emerge, character makes choice (and choice is set up in advance), is arguably developed. This is not a bad story.
And Edward Would, Too.
You're going to hear this a bunch: goddamn these accents are annoying. They make it harder to follow for no real gain. This being said, this is a Magikarp story alright. I feel for the lameness of your protag, and therefore I care when he makes good, just like in the kid's cartoon I was too cool to watch.
A few minor points: when “A smile slowly creeped across Kai’s face” it didn't feel like we had time to watch something creep slowly. It's a shame because the moment is good, it's just a little off. I also think your final sentence is unnecessary: the penultimate one does the job just fine. Otherwise I got nothin' brudda.
Credit where it's due: I'm a massive nerd for first sentences and this was one of the best this week. It's short, it's sharp, it immediately poses a quandary, and it gets resolved at the end. So far so good.
Problem is it kinda wobbles around a bit. So sure oh my goodness the protag was the addict all along, but then what the hell is his brother doing blundering around dangerous parts of the ship? This is a really important question: the whole plot hangs on this, and whilst at one pass it might go unnoticed anyone really reading this will instantly wonder what I'm wondering.
What does it say when the strongest story uses half the word count? Two things: firstly, goddamnit it people stop infodumping start writing, secondly goddamnit people don't count your words, make your words count. Look at the little energy bar callback: it's been set up specifically so it can be called back at the end and it's funny. The setup works twice because not only does it set it up, Olaf's response builds character. It took maybe forty words.
I do like this though. Olaf's such a comically naïve cannibal. The whole thing is completely daft, but it starts daft, it finishes daft, its daftness is internally consistent. I feel like the law and lawyers angle is a little underplayed – Dirk could get more assertive when he's getting his law on seeing as Olaf might be a cannibal, but he ain't no lawbreaker.
The Desert's Milk
Premise: good. Execution: not.
This story takes far too long to get going, and when it finally does everything happens very suddenly. We don't need several paragraphs of being followed, skirmishing, etc. It feels like you thought the same, in truth, because you've forced a sudden and arbitrary jump from all that to 'oh poo poo, captured by zombies'. From there we end up with our main characters, who until now have no backstories, suddenly realising they were not moral people and as such an eternity rolling around undead in the desert seems like an upgrade. It's not a conflict if the characters don't really see it as much of one. In the end, this was one of the many stories this week where I asked myself “why?” and answer came there none.
Your characters don't really talk like British soldiers of any period either, which is disappointing because you could have had barrels of fun with a upper-class Brit zombie (if nothing else, think of all the 'stiff upper lip' jokes! That one's on the house).
Give Me a Home
Nothing happens! Guy runs about in forest, is saved by magic anarchists. Why? Where is the conflict? Why do I care about this guy who by his own admission is a petty thief and criminal?
Signor Ugolino Sings the Blues
This is the second 'strange twist on an office environment' story of the week and I like this one too. Maybe I just hate offices.
This is also another example of my favourite thing in all the world, opening sentences. Sixteen words in, and we already have the entire setting down pat and enough mystery to keep reading.
The whole Clara thing doesn't really grab me: it seems like it's playing out in the background, like it's not really relevant to the story at all. It looks like this is supposed to be the conflict, but as it fades away the story becomes a vignette. With a stronger conflict this was an HM.
This was another one of the stories that I didn't really get. I don't know what the eyes are about, I don't know what the kid's about, and I don't get the parents or their brief contribution to a post-racial America. I can spot some character development when the girl learns to stop being so self-centred for a minute (for serious, a big deal with kids), which lifts you above the DM ceiling.
Bone and Stone
At least you did your research!
I almost feel like you did too much research. There are bits of this that sound like they're showing off information you just learned (though yes, broadly accurate, good on you for moving beyond the Neandertal stereotypes). You repeat one little factoid about spear designs like three times. Trust your audience: they heard it the first time. Mostly this stuff just drags down your pacing.
The confrontation itself doesn't really deliver. Is First a different person because of this story? Is there any resolution here?
A Flour-Type Bug
There is so much dialogue in here, Christ. Seriously, there's far too much. Look for ways to convey things without resorting to your characters just saying them out loud. On top of this, your opening is a lot of prose telling us your protag is scared of her sister. Don't tell us this! Show us this! In how they behave, in what they do! If you've ever read, say, 1950s SF? The exact opposite of that. Yes, I'm including Asimov.
The rest of life
I knew this was the loss as soon as I saw the size of the paragraphs (fat like Snorlax amirite). Shittonnes of the passive voice:
His daughter could be heard practicing inside,
This is too many words and it's part of why the passive voice sucks. It just bulks out your story for no real gain (again, Snorlax amirite, I played Pokemon Blue). She “could be heard”? By who? She “was”: I've just saved you two words. Try and dial down the purple prose – go for short sharp sentences. The precise Bach piece doesn't matter unless it's going to do something in the piece. For the same reason, use adjectives sparingly.
On top of this, nothing happens! Where is the conflict? Why do I care about these people and their lives? Spoilers: I don't.
Goddamnit, selkies are a Scots myth not Irish, I cannot possibly crit this fairly
Frankly irrelevant quibbling aside, however, this isn't bad at all, though it kinda drags on in the middle. The whole journey to Tenochtitlan could be sped up, I think.
I'm conflicted on the ending. Prose-wise, it's sharp and cute and I like it. It's just that it feels like the 'killing' comes from nowhere and I kinda have to gloss over it for the conclusion to work.
Minor point: how does a Spanish captain know the arcana of Celtic coastal mythology?
You know what this feels like? It feels like half of a 'pupil bests mentor' story. There are parts of this that hint at and presuppose an educational, teaching aspect here, and it seems like the explanation for why she chooses not to fire. So why don't we have more of this? How did Hughes learn how to make killing thrusts from this woman and yet not be sure she'd remember him?
Your prompt is used well. The story opens, closes, and revolves around ink, yet it doesn't seem obtrusive. It's that nagging feeling of there being one missing paragraph somewhere that keeps me from pushing for an HM.
'The unpopular kid at school' is a well-worked trope and it's really hard to do something new with it. This was not that moment. Stuff actually happens, which raises you out of DM territory this week, but there's no central thread, there's nothing the character overcomes, and the actual meat of the story appears and inexplicably befriends the character basically just as the credits are spooling up. I straight up don't care about these kids or their lives or whatever poo poo it is they found. You haven't given me enough time or enough content for it.
I will also do three line-by-lines on request
|# ? Aug 18, 2015 00:07|
I gave a lot of dms for love prompt. Here's some bonus crits for those people.
...Is clearly inspired by your pokemon: Yes
…Does not literally include a pokemon or similar creature: Yes
When people in IRC were worried about their word counts I kept giving them the same advice-- cut your opening paragraph. The reason I tell people this is because it’s typically pretty meandering. If you write chronologically (ie start writing from the beginning of the story) then you’re probably still “finding” yourself in those beginning 100-250 words. You have an idea but you don’t really know how to get to the good stuff yet so you toss some filler poo poo in and call it a day.
You could have cut your first quarter of this and been fine. There had been reports of, well, something living down in the side tunnels blah blah is much more engaging. Your current fatality report opener is okay but that second section really bogs things down. I don’t have any real hook to the story yet and you’re already throwing in a flashback. And, honestly, the fatality report bookends could probably go to. I doesn’t really work the way you want to and it also raises the question as to why the report was left blank for “hours” if the dude just needed to fill in “zero.” That set up an unnecessary let down because I liked the story you had in the middle (it was interesting and an easy read). Cutting things down from both ends would let you flesh out the tasty meaty middle. I like tasty. I don’t like boring.
Oh, yeah, I loving hated your title. Watevas.
spectres of autism
...Is clearly inspired by your pokemon: Yes
…Does not literally include a pokemon or similar creature: You’re probably in the clear
Wow. This is, like, an amazing improvement from what I read for love week. This was so clean. So crisp. So easy to read. Excellent prose. Nice descriptions. Pretty believable dialogue. I feel like you had the “little kid” narration voice that so many people shoot for and miss. I really enjoyed this up until the end where I felt like there was going to be this awesome payoff where all of your writing peaked and instead I got a kind of disappointing my-parents-suck-lets-escape-into-a-book type thing. Oh well. Still way better than the last thing I read. Good job.
Also- hey! Redwall! Man, I loved those books as a kid.
...Is clearly inspired by your pokemon: Yes
…Does not literally include a pokemon or similar creature: Yes
You probably needed to make Roy and Ewan Catholic. And then point that out. Because protestants don’t need a priest for the absolution of sins so if they were super duper against becoming undead for purely religious purposes then that takes care of that. Just clean up your loose ends when you can I guess.
Overall, this was an easier read that love week. That’s good. Unfortunately, your dialogue is clunky and this didn’t really feel like a stand alone story. It is an interesting world though so that’s good, too. I just felt like I was reading the beginning of something bigger. What was the conflict? Can you point out the character development? It was just x happens, y happens, z happens, end of story.
Lot of whores in Damascus. Great line.
...Is clearly inspired by your pokemon: Yes
…Does not literally include a pokemon or similar creature: Yes
Just a couple little things. You went way under the word limit again and I would have liked to have had some backstory fleshed out. The prince’s motivation could have been more thoroughly laid out as could his relationship with the woman in the cave. It’s not clear why she didn’t shoot. Beautiful ending line.
...Is clearly inspired by your pokemon: Nope
…Does not literally include a pokemon or similar creature: Yes
I would be interested to hear how wigglytuff inspired your story. Did you choose wigglytuff or was it assigned? Why wouldn’t you choose, like, weevil or something?
This is still pretty meandering. Not as bad as your love week story but you don’t get to the point fast enough. Your homework for next week: I want to know what the conflict of your story is by the end of your opening paragraph.
Dialogue is okay. You get clunk by adding descriptors to every “said.” Just let your words breathe. Don’t tell us what your characters are feeling. Show us.
|# ? Aug 18, 2015 00:15|
Thanks for the crits. I don't necessarily need a line by line critique because I know there are some problems, but I was trying to work with the idea of a person seeing someone they care about doing something really vile and I couldn't quite figure out how to get there. If anybody has any suggestions to that end that would be cool.
|# ? Aug 18, 2015 00:17|
|# ? Sep 20, 2021 01:50|
THIS INJUSTICE WILL NOT STAND. I DEMAND RETRIBUTION! VENGEANCE! JUSTICE!
|# ? Aug 18, 2015 00:23|