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Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

GUM CHEWING INTENSIFIES


You heard me

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The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning




Benny the Snake posted:

:tipshat: Make no mistake though--your rear end is mine, skippy :black101:


No erotica allowed.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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






I shall meditate upon your monkey words and get to work on the video crit in the morn.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo


Thunderbrawl CXXVII: Homage to Bleriot

Hammer Bro. vs Benny the Snake

I think this was a difficult prompt, particularly the way you two chose to interpret it. Taking inspiration from the aesthetics of a piece of abstract art, and we ended up with one noble failure and one piece of complete drivel. It was interesting that any of the problems I had with the stories were shared by both. I will talk about those mainly then sum up at the end.

Dream Sequences
I hate dream sequences, so I was disappointed that both your stories included them. I guess that's my fault for choosing a psychedelic looking painting as a prompt.
Hammer Bro. your dream sequences were mercifully short, and there was a creepiness to them that I liked. The voice seemed to come from within Suzie but also was telling her to do things. This links into the theme of mental illness quite well. The stuff about aviatio in the first dream sequence was a complete red herring. I was hoping someone would use the prompt to write an aviation adventure which made the irrelevance of the first dream sequence sting all the more. The second one was creepier.
Benny your dream sequence comprised a full two thirds of your story, and didn't have any meaning that I could discern. The details like the ladder and him being naked had no relationship to the plot. The music in particular stuck out to me as something that made no sense and added nothing to anything. Making a story where the sole plot point is a dream could potentially work if there were deep layers of meaning written in beautiful prose. This was meaningless, and the prose was workmanlike at its best.

Prose
Both stories had accuracy issues with their word choice.
Hammer Bro. Your story wavered between well and chosen words. The opening paragraph set the scene well, especially the last sentence "The population of Greyton was adequately content." But there were also some weird words like "traipsed" and "comfortability" that didn't work. Some of the dialogue was a bit stilted, but in some ways that fitted the modern fairytale tone of the piece.
Benny the word "ephemeral" did not fit at all, so much that I wasn't sure if you knew what it meant. Your prose always has this quality to it like it's written by a child who has skipped ahead a whole lot of grades, and this was no exception. An example of this was the bit on the ladder "Right as he was about to touch the clouds, he heard a loud crack. He looked down and, to his absolute horror, he discovered that the ladder couldn’t support his weight any longer. He screamed as the ladder finally collapsed from underneath him.". It seems innocuous enough, but that was the third time you'd used the word finally in the exact same way, and instead of describing the ladder cracking you say that he discovered it cracking, which removes us from the action one step.

Characterization
Hammer Bro Suzie was likeable enough, and I liked that she knew enough to keep her mouth closed about what was happening to her. She was really the only character who had any personality, but I liked her and cared about her and found her charming.
Benny you established the artist as an angry, tortured man at the start, and not in an interesting likeable way. In fact it was the only aspect to his character at all. In a story with such limited scope you can gain a lot of traction from an accurate and interesting psychological portrayal of a character. You did not do this.

Plot
Hammer Bro. I liked the story you tried to tell here, and I think there some interesting ideas underlying it. I think portraying a world that changes from black and white to colour for this girl was very difficult, and I think you didn't quite succeed, but you gave it a good enough try for me to at least understand what was happening.
Benny of all the things I didn't like about your story by far the worst thing was the plot. It was just terrible. Artist can't paint a good painting, artist has a weird dream, artist paints good painting. It's just a paper thin plot without the writing to prop it up.

Hammer Bro.
This wasn't that good, but it wasn't bad either. And it wasn't the boring, uninspired kind of not good, it was more like a noble attempt at doing something really great that you didn't pull off. I think it was an ambitious attempt and an interesting perspective on a difficult prompt. I think that my loving you over with regards to the deadline probably hurt it a lot, but I haven't taken that into account.

Benny
So I think I've read pretty much every story that you've written since I joined TD, and this was by far the worst, even worse than the stupid hummingbird story. The prompt was potentially a bit of a tricky one, but you somehow managed to use it in a way that was difficult, obvious, and stupid all at the same time. There were definitely straightforward takes on that prompt that didn't involve trying to describe the painting with words. I sound like I'm just being mean to you because you're Benny, but I'm honestly not. I read Hammer Bro's story and liked it well enough, but I thought that if you produced your best work you could potentially pull out the win. Believe it or not I expected a lot more from you than this unmitigated crap.

So the deserved winner is Hammer Bro.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk







you want spaceships? here are spaceships: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIXIl1lUY_s


e:I will do judgeburps for all and line crits for anyone i gave a flash rule to in the last round by 29 Jan 2359 PST :toxx:

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 12:53 on Jan 24, 2015

Megazver
Jan 13, 2006


Eh, gently caress it. I'm in.


EDIT: Eh, I need a nudge to come up with the plot. Give me a flash prompt.

Megazver fucked around with this message at 11:08 on Jan 22, 2015

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


sebmojo posted:



you want spaceships? here are spaceships: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIXIl1lUY_s


e:I will do judgeburps and line crits for anyone i gave a flash rule to in the last round by 29 Jan 2359 PST :toxx:

STOP IT

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

GUM CHEWING INTENSIFIES


newtestleper posted:

So the deserved winner is Hammer Bro.
Congrats, Hammer Bro.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Megazver posted:

Eh, gently caress it. I'm in.


EDIT: Eh, I need a nudge to come up with the plot. Give me a flash prompt.

flash rule: your spaceship is missing a vital component but the characters don't realize at first

Walamor
Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!


crabrock posted:

flash rule: your spaceship is missing a vital component but the characters don't realize at first

Is the vital component love?

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk





crabrock give me a flash rule

El Diabolico
Dec 19, 2006

THUNDERDOME LOSER

i'm in.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In with a :toxx: for failing last week

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


sebmojo posted:

crabrock give me a flash rule

Flash rule: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. No weddings.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



crabrock posted:

Flash rule: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. No weddings.

the TARDIS is a spaceship technically

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


4 more hours until signups close

The rubric I will be scoring these stories on:

1. Character(s) - Are they interesting or 2d cliches?
2. Plot - is this interesting
3. spaceship - how cool is dat spaceship?
4. reunion - is there a reuniting with something or someone?
5. necessary length - was your story that long on purpose, or because you were rambling dream sequences and poo poo?

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?


Mercedes posted:

I shall meditate upon your monkey words and get to work on the video crit in the morn.

Yo Mercedes, I know you're probs busy coming up with sick dad jokes and whatnot, but I believe there's an unofficial rule about FAST JUDGING around here??

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



judge fast, in a similar manner as a spaceship is fast.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


bye

anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:49 on Oct 27, 2015

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


submissions closed. write them spaceships

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



crabrock posted:

write [...] spaceships

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition


Just because I saw this elsewhere:

Good definition of science fiction: “No, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s internally consistent in the lack of sense it’s making.”

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Two wolves howl at the moon, one a wild animal, the other a holographic decoy for a cyborg mouse

John‘s ship decoupled from the docking station. A screen in the cockpit came alive with the face of a dock attendant. Bleary eyed and with a sagging cigarette at the corner of his lips, he blurted out “all clear” or something to that effect. John had never seen an enthusiastic attendant, and neither had most people on the Big Grandia Great Circular. Rumour had it that they all came from a malfunctioning cloning vat. Having spent most of his life aboard the lumbering vessel, John was not inclined to disagree.

His little ship, the Red Lightning, had to clear away before he could engage the main engines. In the mean time, John watched the surface of Big Grandia float by. Like all circulars, she possessed a spherical design and the side with inset engines was considered “the back“. Grandia used to be round (before several collapses and expansions happened) and probably white (the Imperials where the only ones building golden circulars, because they could). The years had not been kind to her, and John wasn‘t going to be kind, either: judging that he‘s far enough from the ship not to care, he fired the engines. Off to meet Alice!

Red Lightning looked, as one technician described her, “like a World War Two fighter stuck atop a pair of torpedoes” – not that it meant much to John. As a so called “manager”, he didn’t have time for history – he had to do things. Like many other members of this loose caste (Alice included), he didn’t know what those things were or how to do half of them. People said that “manager” was an animal on Old Earth, that looked busy, but was entirely useless and sometimes dangerous, and so the name stuck.

A six legged creature rubbed against John’s leg. The metacat was the reason why John couldn't go with Alice when she left on her expedition a year ago
.
“This is big business, babe,” John told her while she was packing her plasma torches, “everybody knows what a cat is but nobody has seen one in three sectors. We can be rich.”
Since Alice believed that both boyfriends and managers are a lot more pleasant if you’re not criticizing them, she kept her peace. Of all the things one can do after hooking up with some geneticists on the ship, trying to engineer cats was probably the least deadly one.

As Red Lighting was accelerating away from Grandia, leaving behind a tail of flame and a horrid plume of smoke (“gently caress me if I know” was the official explanation of the shipboard scientists), John picked up Moneybags and set him on his lap. The venture to produce metacats was successful-ish. Not having any DNA samples, they had to get creative. Six legs weren’t ideal, but John marketed it as an improvement or, at the very least, a bargain: 20% more cat for the same low, low price!
Bags yawned and his jaw unfolded into a six pronged abomination of a meat flower filled with jagged teeth. John hoped the boys would iron out this kink for the introduction of Metacat X.

“Mroo,” said the critter.

With rendezvous coordinates punched in, the Red Lightning could handle the flight all by herself, leaving John free to mull over his thoughts. The year without Alice had been full of activity, but somewhat... hollow. Her laugh, her breasts, the way she held a knife while approaching a rube – all those little things. Space Rocket Jesus, did John miss her.

Still, love or no love, he had to decline when Alice invited him on an expedition to Alter. “Alterians are filthy creatures“ was one of the gems of wisdom passed down by his father, and John never doubted him, not even after the old man spaced himself while drunk. Plus, with the plague (which may or may not have been of the zombie kind), Alter had to be really filthy. Yet Alice insisted on going – she loved expeditions.

“Looting is like reading a book about new and interesting people,” she insisted, often while rummaging through stuff that didn’t belong to her, “but you get richer both spiritually and financially”. Being a rather curious and adventurous soul, she couldn’t wait to go to Alter – and the plague meant that there was a continent free of Alterians who’d get in the way of her getting to know their culture.

Speak of the sexy devil! Alice’s ship appeared on the radar, a sizeable ping on the radar. It was a tug, a gift from Grandia Security Authority for John and Alice’s help. Without their knowledge of back passages, unused maintenance shafts and tunnels built by crazed engineers, the Third Honourable Republic of Atmosia might have been able to actually hold a deck in their air and water supply based tyranny. Alice called the tug „Venture“... and almost forgot about it, as managers rarely have business outside Grandia.

The tug – the elongated round forms gave it a streamline moderne look – was now closing in quite rapidly. John hoped it was laden with loot (some of which could be invested in Metacat development) – as for Alice, the ship’s on-time appearance meant that she was at least relatively OK. All was right in the void.

Bags jumped in surprise at the first wail of the lock-on alarm. A quick scan revealed that Red Lighting was being chased by two lumpy assailants. Without a doubt, those were hull gulls, the strange people that lived in shanties on the outside of Grandia and dealt in petty thievery, small scale piracy, and minor nuisances. Clearly they were after Red Lighting – or Venture.

John took the ship into an evasive spin, and the g forces were almost as painful as metacat claws sinking into his thigh. The maneuver, combined with the engine smoke, had to confuse the enemy targeting. Checking the weapon systems, he glanced at the live feed trained on Venture. It showed the ship surrounded by two quickly dissipating streams of azure.

“Clever girl,” though John as he watched Alice vent plasma. Her ploy worked – two hull gull pilots broke off to go after her ship, which they considered crippled. Yet one was still giving pursuit, so John had to concentrate on flying. Holding the flight stick in one hand, he flicked out a stun baton and gave Bags a prod. Dropping the “Kitty Napper”, he grabbed the (meta) feline and threw him into a Child Acceleration Box, for safety.

Making a hard turn that squeezed him deep into the pilot chair, John managed to get the hull gull in his sights and fired guns. On screen, green lines connected with the evil red triangle, but the attacker seemed undeterred. The ships passed each other, with one hull gull laser passing through the shields and grazing an engine.

Making another 180 turn, and thankful for those stamina boosting biomods, John decided to take desperate measures. With a few quick stabs at a touchscreen, he opened Mr. Target, the open source missile targeting software used by some of the off brand missile developers. And it didn’t get more offbrand than some crazy Grandian engineer living in a maintenance corridor behind a bar. As far as John knew, “bolted on” might have been a very literal description of the one missile that he had.
Flicking away a pair of nagscreens while trying to keep the ship in an evasive pattern, he finally goaded the program into working. An icon of a bug-eyed robot started circling the dot on the radar, representing target radar lock. The robot managed to cover the dot, transforming into a crude fire belching animation. John let loose.

To everyone’s relief, the missile decoupled without incident and streaked towards the enemy. The hull gull ship tried some evasive manoeuvres, but it was not enough to confuse the piece of ordinance. It struck the target.

Normally, one expects missiles to explode near the target, hoping to catch it in a blast of lasers, flak or other unpleasant things. This particular rocket buried itself in enemy vessel and didn’t even disengage engines for three seconds before going inert. John and, no doubt, the hull gull were both perplexed.

Then the enemy craft blossomed into a crimson ball, something totally different from a normal plasma explosion. Nevertheless, it killed the pursuer. In fact, it killed it so well, there was no salvage to collect. Breathing a sigh of relief, John turned his attention (and radar) to Alice.

Where there were two enemies and one friendly signature, only the tug remained. Careful optical analysis showed that the tug was, for lack of a better world, tugging one (much reduced) hull gull vessel. The other was caught in two mismatched actuators that were quickly gutting it for parts and precious metals. Stubby cannons were sliding back into their hidey holes.

John signaled for docking and got a positive answer.

Ordering the ship on an automated approach, he took Moneybags out of the box. The metacat was a little dazed, but still in good enough shape to be presented to Alice as subtle sign of at least partial success.

John straightened out his clothes and ran fingers through his hair. His heart swelled with anticipation of seeing her again. When the ships clanged in the embrace of docking, he was so giddy that it all felt unreal.

The airlock synched and opened with a hiss. There she stood. The haircut was a little shorter than John remembered, and he had not noticed the light plasma scarring on the cheek before, and the bionic arm – yeah, that was definitely new. Still, she had the same sparkly eyes, the same mischievous smile, and the unmistakable posture of someone who had shanked their share of bitches in maintenance tunnels.

Alice was back.

“Mroo?”




1630 words.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Oh, and gosh darn it, a flash rule about a cat inspired creature that was not a cat.

DreamingofRoses
Jun 27, 2013


Nap Ghost

I'm going to have to eat my Toxx. I'm not going to be able to post today.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Let There Be Light
1693 words

The screen's notification light shook Jeremy out of his stupor. "Receive: audio only," he said, unwilling to extricate himself out of the zero-g fetal position he had assumed.

"Jeremy. It's me, Tina. I need you here ASAP. Please."

Jeremy stretched himself out and tethered himself to a handhold. "Receive: video." He reached out for another pack of beer, but thought better of it. Tina's face took up the entire feed. There were lines on her face since he last saw her.

"What have you gotten yourself into, Tina? It's been ten years. You still folding?" Nobody traveled faster-than-light anymore, not when fold sickness started claiming those who lived the majority of their lives in space, and their offspring. Any dreams of an interstellar human empire died in childbirth.

"How could I stop folding?" Tina said, coughing into her hand. She frowned at the sight and wiped it offscreen. "We'll find a way to survive. As a race, if not individually. Are you still drinking?"

Jeremy brandished the pack of beer. "Better than folding. You still smoke?"

"I quit."

Jeremy nodded. He spun head to toe, the screen rotating along with him. "You didn't call me just to catch up, did you?"

"I didn't," Tina said. "I need your help. I've docked with a ship. An alien ship. Same make as the Macbeth, which landed on Terra a century ago. You could check my vector if you want."

Tina was telling the truth. Her little yacht would never be able to pull off such a velocity. "There's another ship like that?"

"This one is bigger. And it's intact. I'm thinking of steering it into a populated planet's orbit. We could then study it, find something to cure or solve the fold sickness problem. What do you think?"

"I'd rather be drinking."

"I have a pack of Trappist beer. It's yours if you help me."

Jeremy made a face. The Trappist order was already extinct, and the product they were known for was very expensive on the black market. For all of Tina's faults, being a liar wasn't one of them. "I could just go there, you know."

"It's on the other side of the galaxy. The trip would definitely kill you."

"I was just messing with you. I'm coming."

Tina rolled her eyes. "This is why we split up. Can't handle being wrong."

"Catch you later," Jeremy said. He ended the call and scampered for a fresh suit. He never thought he would be meeting Tina again. He set the fold coordinates, and strapped himself into the chair and closed his eyes.

Three, two, one, fold. Light consumed him, permeating his eyelids, permeating his entire skin. His head exploded in pain, a star going nova.

And then it was gone. Jeremy treated himself to an anesthetic and studied the visual feed. His ship matched speeds with the bigger alien ship. The hatch to the hangar was open, Tina's ship docked and secure. Jeremy docked his own ship.

Tina welcomed him on board her own, gravity a comfortable 0.8 g.

"Where's the beer?" Jeremy said, looking around. Tina still had a bookshelf, containing several dozen tablets. There was a lot that he didn't recognize.

"In storage. don't you dare hack it," Tina said.

"I'm not that desperate," Jeremy said. "So what have you learned about the ship?"

"It seems empty," Tina said. "Or they don't mind visitors. Its systems are on, but at its current vector I think it's just wandering aimlessly. We could give it a purpose. You still up for it?"

"I'm here already. Let's just get this over with," Jeremy said. He took a step, and staggered into Tina's arms. His eyes were wide open, but he could only see dancing white spots.

"Whoa, Jeremy." Her grip was warm, but not intimate. Guarded.

Jeremy still couldn't see. "Haven't folded in half a year. I still have most of the supplies from then."

"You haven't been cooking, have you? I know the ship processes food, but it's still poo poo."

"Never did learn it, thanks to someone."

Tina rolled her eyes. "I'm letting go now."

"Okay." Jeremy blinked a few times. Tina was standing in front of him, her eyes darting around but him.

"Bring your tools. We're exploring in an hour."

###

The inside of the alien ship was 1 g, like Terra. Jeremy wondered what the ship's crew had looked like. The corridors were double the usual human specifications, and the layout was labyrinthine. The walls were made of some kind of metal he couldn't tell.

They encountered their first robot in five minutes, patrolling a square area. Its clawed hands looked strong enough to snap a neck, and it had a wheeled platform for feet. The head was rectangular like a screen, with a green light flickering in its center.

"So we're not alone," Jeremy said, using their private channel. They were clad in full gear: reinforced helmets and deep-space suits, complete with rocket thrusters. Jeremy's trusty blast pistol rested in his left holster. He hadn't fired the gun in years, not since splitting up with Tina, and his left hand shook with dread. He certainly didn't relish an opportunity to use it.

"Its scan range seems short," Tina said. "Let's go around."

"I have an idea," Jeremy said. "Let's hack it and get the layout of this ship."

"That's dangerous," Tina said. "How did you even have the idea that they're hackable?"

"It's just a hunch. I think whoever crewed this place didn't worry about information security," Jeremy said. He caught the robot's attention, drew his blast pistol, and shot off both arms and melted the legs with a low-power beam, fusing the robot to the floor.

"Uh oh," Tina said, noticing the green light on the robot's face turn to red.

"Keep them occupied while I work on this thing." Jeremy took out his virtual keypad, slapping it on the robot's body.

The wall next to Tina opened.

"Behind you!" Jeremy called. Tina's scream cut into her ears, sending the white spots back to cloud his vision. He looked up and saw Tina being lifted off her feet. The second robot's claws were piercing her suit. Keeping one hand on his keypad, he drew his blast pistol, set the fire selector to narrow, and aimed at the attacking robot's head.

He blacked out twice, his aim wavering. Tina was now wheezing for air. The claws must have already pierced her lungs. Jeremy dropped the gun. He scrambled for the master command screen. From it, he sent a shutdown command to all robots in the ship. Both robots froze. With a pained grunt, Tina pushed herself off, dropping to the floor.

Sighing in relief, Jeremy downloaded the map of the ship. "I'm done." He sent a copy over to Tina's helmet screen.

"Engine room?" she asked between gasps.

"Don't speak," Jeremy said. He sprayed medical gel on Tina's wounds and sealed her suit. "Can you walk?"

"I'm gonna need your help. Where's the engine room?"

"I'll lead the way," Jeremy said.

###

They reached the engine room, which was bathed in blue light.

"Blue means harmless," Tina said. Jeremy eased his gun hand.

The layout was familiar: twin turbo-fold engines flanking the hyperspace drive. If the engines activated they would be plasma in a millisecond. That was how some spacenoids committed suicide--painless and instantaneous. Jeremy found himself shaking his head.

"How is it?" he asked. Engines were Tina's strong suit. She had dropped out of engineering school, but that didn't stunt her sense of machinery.

"The engine shielding looks like it's made of a different material. Definitely not lunarium," Tina said. "And the drive is a different design. Actually, it's worth the price of admission. The one we got from Macbeth was half-damaged."

"Are there even any engineers left to study this?" Jeremy asked.

Tina shook her head. "Beats me. But there must be someone trying to beat the odds. Like us."

"Why do you hope so much?"

"Because of my son."

Jeremy paused, his mouth suddenly dry. "I didn't know you have a son. Why didn't you tell me?"

"That's because I'm not even sure if it's yours," Tina said. "I'm sorry. I went through a phase after we split. And I sent Edgar away when he was young, so we don't actually know each other."

"Let's move to the bridge," Jeremy said.

###

The bridge was bare. There was an equivalent of a captain's chair, but there were no instruments.

"This is a holo-projector, I think" Jeremy said. As he stepped near, a gridded sphere materialized in front of him.

"Can you operate it?" Tina said. Her breathing had become more ragged since the incident with the robots.

"It's mostly a visual interface." Jeremy couldn't understand the angular glyphs, but he pressed the section that marked something resembling the ship's engines. He twisted the holographic dial. On one side of the sphere a bar started increasing. "I guess that's our velocity." He slid it back down. "Are you looking at this?"

Tina was sitting on the floor, leaning forward. "Don't worry about me." She dug in one of her pouches, pulling a cigarette out.

"You can't smoke, we're in a vacuum."

"I'm not smoking," Tina snapped. "I've quit, remember?" She crushed the cigarette in her hand. "Set a course to Gliese 221-c."

"Done." The hologram showed the ship changing its vector.

"It's where Edgar lives. My son, I mean. He might have your eyes. It's been too long."

"We're traveling below the speed of light. We'll never be there in time."

"Then initiate a space fold," Tina said.

"I don't think our bodies would be able to handle it," Jeremy said.

"Does it matter? We're dead already."

Jeremy stared hard at the fold icon. The drive was supposed to be shielded. Would they survive?

Tina pulled herself to her feet, standing beside him. "Just do it."

"Is Edgar my son?" Jeremy asked.

Tina took his hand. "You can confirm it for yourself."

"Okay." Jeremy closed his eyes, and the unmistakable sensation of a fold clenched around his stomach and wouldn't let go.

Somehow, it wasn't painful at all.

tenniseveryone
Feb 8, 2014


The Last Man In Space
(1907 words)

The cat carrier felt heavy in Tessa's hand. The laser in the other felt heavier. Looking at the ship now, it seemed so different from the paper planes that had littered Ronald's bedroom years ago. It was real, not just the subject of party chatter, or a dimly recalled memory. She ran her fingers along the airlock, feeling the cold even through her spacesuit. Pamela's mewling came through loud and clear over the radio. She tethered the carrier to the side of the ship and started cutting.

The ship was bigger than she remembered. Perhaps it was just by virtue of how technology shrunk exponentially over time, making things from a forgotten age seem inconceivably large and almost pitiably clumsy. The outside was worn, with burns along the broad wingspan and tubular hull, the chipped paint of the protruding snout glinting in the twin suns on the other side of the system. Like the chill of the door, the musty smell from inside permeated even Tessa's helmet. From the sneezes in her headset, Pamela was getting it too. Re-sealing the airlock behind her, Tessa had a minute to put the carrier back down and take a breath before she was enveloped in darkness.

Her grandfather had told her ghost stories as a child. Tessa's parents didn't see any harm in it. There was zero scientific basis for the belief in life after death, and mankind's journeys to the furthest reaches of the universe uncovered far greater gibbering horrors than headless horsemen and murdered, vengeful noblewomen. The stories followed the rhythm of her grandfather's wrist watch, which he often employed as a prop. The grandfather clock a skeleton fell out of, the inexorable counting down to a character's ghastly fate.

The blood pulsed in her ears. Being aware of it didn't help slow the tempo. She thought of the stories – of course she would think of them then – as her torch illuminated a fraction of the ship's main hallway with each sweep, otherwise stretching off into a murky abyss which her imagination helpfully populated with any number of lurking spectres. She counted to ten, as the classes she downloaded had taught her, felt for the wall at the side of the passageway. Slowly she advanced, shining her torch into every nook and cranny whenever she sensed movement. Her breathing, the low purr from Pamela, and the squeak of her boots against the metal floor conspired against her. She could've sworn she heard somebody whisper her name.

Something large, something black, slammed into the glass dome of her helmet as she turned the corner. She panicked, scrabbling to remove the winged beast from her face, trying to find the breath to scream. Pamela howled down her ear. The attacker floated away as her back hit the wall, and Tessa realised it was nothing more than a discarded candy wrapper. Something else she remembered from Ronald's room: those plastic wrappers amongst the paper planes.

Ronald had been the first. Now, decades later, interstellar space flight was the norm. To Tessa, it still seemed somewhat romantic and uncanny, as the internet had to her grandfather, and as the “television” had to his. She had traded on the story of being the First Man In Hyperspace's Ex-Girlfriend at any number of social and quasi-social gatherings. It was a level of celebrity she was comfortable with. She had retired, at the age of 52 (in Venusian years), and set sail across the event horizon of the closest supermassive blackhole, catapulting herself across the far cosmos in a borrowed ship. Nothing fancy, just a standard FTL-enabled one-person craft that would get her where she needed to go. Which took her another year to find.

Flashing the light around the room at the end of the hallway, it was clear she'd found it. The cockpit was almost identical to the room she'd last been in over thirty years ago, only the paper planes had been replaced by scrawled notes of calculations and star maps, and both them and the candy wrappers were floating in mid-air. She had tried to get Ronald to eat better during his journey. He swatted such concerns away, claiming his preferred snack would keep for longer. He didn't know how long he'd be away. The bastard.

The room was about half the size of Ronald's Martian bedsit, however, with a bunk at the fall wall instead of the futon dropped haphazardly in the middle of the floor. Somebody was lying in it. Even past the clutter and the dark, she could see a shape swaddled in blankets on the bunk, solid and still whilst everything around it was in aimless, weightless motion.

Tessa forced herself to take another deep breath. She started counting again. Instead of feeling for the wall, she made a bee-line straight for the bed, waving her hand to cut through the rubbish like a machete through jungle foliage. She jerked the body over onto its back. Tessa hadn't been expecting to recognise Ronald after all these years, but she did, even with his skin shrunk so it clung, mottled and grey, to his skull. His eyes were shrivelled up in their sockets, his jaw hanging loosely down on his chest, and his jumpsuit stained and torn.

“I want my watch back, you son of a bitch,” she spat, the words dripping down the inside of her glass helmet.

“It's nice to see you too...” Tessa leapt back again as the words croaked out of the corpse's mouth without it moving, almost seeping from the empty skull. “Sorry, who are you?”

She brought a leg up and gave the body a good, firm kick, which loosened the left arm and sent it floating up to join the rest of the detritus.

“Ouch!” This time Tessa noticed that the voice wasn't even coming from the mouth. It was in her head, muting out all the other ambient sound. She hoped Pamela was okay.

“It's Tessa, Ronald, you rear end,” she said. “We dated for like, three weeks before you went off on this stupid suicide mission.”

“Oh!” The voice followed her even as she walked off and started to rifle through the bedside drawers, the desk in the other corner, the floating rubbish.

“Remember?” Tessa snapped.

“No,” said the voice. She whipped around to face the body, which still lay prone, strapped to the bunk. The severed, rotten arm was orbiting an assembled mass of candy wrappers and screwed-up balls of paper. “Wait, but if you found me, does that...does that mean I did it? I cracked it?”

She sighed, the breath condensing on the glass. “Yes, you did it,” said Tessa. “Your warp drive worked. People are now skipping across the cosmos all the time. It's revolutionised space travel. The human race has never been the same. Yadda yadda yadda.”

“Wow,” the voice seemed impressed. “So I'm, like, a hero?”

“Look, are you going to tell me where my watch is?” Tessa turned around and glared at the corpse, still unsure if she was being haunted or had simply fallen prey to space madness.

“A few more questions.”

Tessa's hands fell to her sides in surrender. “Fine. You have five minutes. Then I want my watch.”

“How will you know the time without...?”

“Four minutes.”

“You don't mess around,” said the voice. “Think I'd remember that.”

“Three minutes.”

“Did the Tranquillitatis Raiders win the series?”

“I don't know. That was years ago.”

“Are hover boards finally a thing?”

She shrugged. Then, unsure if whatever she was talking to could see, answered “I don't know!”

She had known it would be difficult. The discovery of each new ship, and the confirmation that it wasn't Ronald's, had come with a sort of relief. Now, looking over her shoulder at what was left of him, she felt the urge to get this over and done with as soon as possible.

“Did my mum and dad ever get back together?” The voice asked.

“Jesus, Ron, I don't know,” she sighed. “Probably not? That was never going to happen, though, was it?”

“People used to say that about hyperdrive.” Even bereft of eyebrows, she knew the smug look Ronald would be making.

“Nothing like that,” she said. “Your hyperdrive works.”

The voice was quiet again then, for a moment, and she continued to search through all the crap her ex had seen fit to take on an endless mission across the galaxy. There had been others since Ronald. Soldiers, accountants, even a holodeck star (well, he'd been in a couple of low-budget entertainments). No more pilots. She was perfectly happy with Pamela.

“Of all the people to come find me after so long...” the voice came again before it trailing off, and returned again, much quieter. “Do people remember me?” It asked.

Tessa paused, rocking back and forth on her heels before answering. “Well, I am the only person who's come looking.”

The words hung in the air amongst the detritus. Ronald had figured out how to make his warp drive work. Even with her amateur eye, shuffling through the papers floating about her, Tessa realised that it was getting back he had struggled with.

Back on Mars, Tessa and Ronald had gone on just four dates. He had been late to every one: two dinners, a movie, and a holographic art exhibition she dragged him to with the promise of free booze. It was on the fourth, cheeks warm from drink, that she had lent him her grandfather's watch. Glass face, leather strap, gold rim. They hadn't made watches like that in centuries. The only modern addition had been the nuclear timer that kept its hands turning. It was the watch Ronald had been wearing when he blasted off on his unauthorised, unannounced test flight.

The voice again broke the silence, just as Tessa thought she'd finally gotten over what she had decided was an auditory hallucination brought on by the low gravity. “It's on my left wrist.”

She walked over to the severed limb that was still pirouetting slowly in mid-air, grabbed it, pulled down the torn sleeve and revealed the watch. It too looked smaller than she remembered. Ronald's arm was much smaller, too. The watch came off without much hassle.

Before she left, she pulled the arm back down from its orbit, and nestled it alongside the body in the bed.

“For what it's worth,” she said, as she stood up and prepared to collect Pamela at the airlock, “I'm sorry.”

This time Tessa didn't have to feel along the wall to find her way, instead following the sound of her cat's slow, even breathing, the blood in her ears now pulsing pleasingly along with the ticking of her watch, which she held in her palm. She burned through the airlock once more, stepped out of the ship, and sealed the darkness away behind her. Pamela was curled up in her carrier, asleep, dreaming of chasing three-eyed Venusian mice. Tessa clambered back into her borrowed ship and made the preparations to return home at last.

“I'm sorry too, Tessa,” the voice said, sudden and clear as it had been in Ronald's room. She smiled. She was sure that if she returned to it, the body would be gone, as so many of her grandfather's stories had ended. But the rubbish would still be there.

In the quiet of her ship, all she could hear was the watch ticking.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






:siren:crits for black metal week :siren:

My judge notes were grumpy this week. I think black metal album titles brought out something evil in you fuckers, it's the only explanation. At least it was an interesting week to read. Sort of in the way that cock and ball torture is interesting. I read all of these in judgemode on the Archive, meaning I couldn't see usernames while I was reading the stories. Even though this wasn't my favorite week to judge, it was kind of cool to go through the stories without preconceptions about the authors. A lot of you are people who participate regularly, and sometimes when I judge I feel like I'm bringing a bunch of assumptions into my reading. So anyway, it's definitely optional, but I just wanted to remind people that this neat and useful tool exists.

If your crit is short but generally positive, you can assume you did a pretty good job. If your crit is short and generally negative, it means I thought the story would need a ton of in depth critique to be salvaged. Luckily, not every story needs to be fantastic. Hopefully, now that you've all got that out of your systems, you can write good things.

DQed people: tbh there were a lot of stories this week and I suck at crits. I will crit your stories, but it would be cool if you'd respond to this post (or PM me) and let me know you actually want a crit on your black metal story. That way I know I'm doing a crit that will actually get read and taken into account.


Defiling the Dark Corpses
Chthonic bell

The writing style is about two degrees too florid for me, and I think the abundant italics don’t help the matter. Still, it’s the kind of writing voice I could probably get used to in a longer piece, which this feels like an excerpt from (and that’s fine). The twins were written reasonably well, but Raimet gets kind of lost in the background. I thought the scene had some decent tension--I was legit curious about the corpse--but as a standalone piece it ends too easily and abruptly. I happen to know that this piece comes from a longer story idea you have, so I hope you expand on it and spend more time on these characters.

Svarngrim the Reaver
Sadistech

Straight out of the gate, so many hyphens. Even as a stylistic thing, or whatever, it’s distracting. The story itself is kind of cool. The sort of Beowulf voice you used works at times and wobbles at others. It’s a hard style to pull off consistently. Svarngrim was gonna own the poo poo out of the mist-making GBS threads creature, so no surprises there, but it was pretty metal i suppose.

The Last Corpsewitch
Benny Profane

I kind of like the idea of taking the whole “summoning an ancient power” trope and telling it from the perspective of the monster recently awoken from its ancient slumber. I can’t find a lot to hate about this, though it’s probably not going to be in the top of my pile this week either because the ending was really lackluster. What is it about heavy metal that compels everyone to write fantasy novel intros rather than complete arcs?

The Screaming of Goats
Hammer Bro.

This had cool and creepy moments. I admit, the name Jimbob made me not take it as seriously as I could’ve. But there was some actual pathos when he flips out and wrecks his hovel. The ending was where it fell flat for me. So they lured him out with a goat, who was a replacement for his girlfriend or whatever? Kind of clever, but I wasn’t exactly sure that’s what happened at the end until i confirmed it with my fellow judges. I thought this stuck out as one of your more technically competent stories. Just work on making the ideas in your head more concrete on the page.

Insufferable Commandments of the Pagan Shrine
hotsoupdinner

I’m not really sure why the protagonist is in this order of priests tbh. Or why these priests have the whole bone gimmick. Other than it’s pretty metal, which...good point, actually. I liked this better on subsequent readings than the first. The biggest problem is, when I was looking back over my judgenotes, all I could remember about this story was the sick bone-related gear the priests wore. Your protagonist casually dispatches a group of people in literally the last couple paragraphs, which is not so good. That moment should’ve been the climax, not the very ending. And then the ending itself is very Chronicles of Riddik. All in all, not the worst, but not the most memorable. Except the bone gloves, i want those.

INSUFFERABLE COMMANDMENTS OF THE PAGAN SHRINE
Megazver

This is kind of amusing. We start with some smarmy mercenaries trying to break a city’s defenses. Then...the story kind of gets lost in its own goofyness. So you’ve got these various genres battling, and you’ve got the various totally metal frontmen like these sort of war gods, most of whom don’t do anything except have some gimmicky dialog. The city falls, and then late in the story you throw a whole other plot at me. Now our protagonist needs to go get the metal god, or something. But you don’t have enough words to get that done, so you basically throw a joke at the end and call it good. I kinda wish you’d have focused on either the sacking or getting the god of metal, because the way you wrote it is too convoluted for a story whose premise is already kinda silly. I ALMOST liked this, and the ending bit did make me smile a little, but it could’ve been done a lot more cleanly.

P-Type Engineer
ZeBourgeoisie

Once upon the time, there was a normal everyman. THEN EVIL HAPPENED. Mr. Bulwark is a terrible boss and character. The protagonist is limp and literally wall-eyed. The ending is the only marginally redeeming thing about this because it’s kind of cute, but overall this story felt a bit pointless? Like the plot was essentially “look at this gross scary stuff.” I normally hate to say “here’s what I would do,” but if you wanted to tell a story about a new hire at some kind of terrible monster breeding facility, you should’ve skipped the hokey beginning where Mr. Bulwark pointlessly assaults the guy, or whatever. I think you got a lot of positive response for your creepy red eggs story, but I think you need to stretch your plotting muscles a bit so you aren’t stuck in the habit of writing “here’s some gross stuff, the end”.

The King of the Whores
WeLandedOnTheMoon!

The pacing on this was off. As was some of the description. You spend a lot of words excellently describing the ogre, for example. But the ogre himself ends up dying off screen. Nils wants to reclaim his throne, and has paid a hefty price to do so, but there’s no inkling of what the consequences of those things might be. We get Nils/Kurt’s background, but at the expense of seeing none of the action in this piece. The idea was pretty metal, and I made a :3 face when the demonesses were screwing on the corpses, but the execution kind of sidestepped the plot. Oh, and the lavender-man? I feel like he was just there to be Rumplestiltskin or whatever. I cannot even fathom what his character has to gain from any of these happenings. There just wasn’t enough info about him. So basically, there was good description in the wrong places, and we miss any/all action.

Necrosphynx
JcDent

So, Maugrim was fond of this one. Apparently, you used all the prompts. I thought it made for rough reading, personally. But it was ambitious, if not a bit gimmicky. I like the idea of an un-land. I didn’t like the tense shift in “..and it’s all because of Prince Haubolt.” This line reads in present tense while the story itself is in past tense. That said, the fact that there is an identifiable story here is pretty impressive. The ending was weirdly endearing too, with the whores pouring coffee into Hectate’s giant mouth. So good...job…? I didn’t think I’d be typing those words together in this crit, but there you go. Please write something more simple and straightforward next time.

The Royal Scam
Schneider Heim

I thought the character introductions were a bit clumsy, and you did a lot of exposition through dialog. Tsk tsk. There was so much to explain, and the actual climactic moment was too glossed over. I think the story could have been ok, but too much time in the beginning was wasted on all this clunky dialog with characters who don’t ultimately matter a whole lot in the scheme of things. Also, re: the defibrillator scene: I don’t think you can just suddenly sit up and button up your gown after receiving a shock. I think the whole idea here is that, by the end, Hyouko has become the monster she never wanted to be. But there was SO MUCH background you had to give, it made the rest of the story feel fairly sparse.

Separation
Benny the Snake

Stock characters. AND THEN REVELATION HAPPENED. I don’t know man, you love your parental relationships and your religious subject matter, and this has both of those things. It is a 100% Benny(™) brand story. I’m still trying to suss out exactly what kind of master’s thesis or social experiment you were engineered for, but I’m sure if I read enough of your fiction I’ll sort it out eventually. Another thought is, you’re a spy from the NSA. In any case, I hope this critique finds you well. Well cya.

The places you walk
Nubile Hillock

This was a pretty competently written fantasy vignette that made me want to keep reading about the character, but didn’t give me enough info to be a whole story. If you felt like expanding this, you might have something. The dialog I thought was pretty good. Horace ended up just kinda being there, waiting around. The allusions to Crow’s past were interesting, but again, it only served to make me want MORE story. So I guess this is good, but has the fatal flaw of being a fragment. I do feel like you are expanding your writerly voice lately, which is cool and good.

Black Sea
leekster

This is really boring for how much action there is. I don’t know who any of these people are, what they want, or why they’re there. It’s just some army mans battling. I don’t even want to critique the writing itself because the idea is so inadvisably boring that I think you should make a mental note to not write anything like this ever again. This isn’t me saying “rrr you’re the worst ever,” but this particular story had pretty much nothing going for it.

Embers of the Xenocidal Queen
Auraboks

This was sweet and endearing and silly. It was one of a handful of stories this week that contained anything resembling a plot arc and an ending. If you took out some of the jokeyness (Queen “Ultradeath”, for example) and owned the concept a little harder, this could actually be an enjoyable read.

Revealing Cthulhu
tenniseveryone

A guy was in a normal situation. THEN EVIL HAPPENED. The whole “trying out for a band” thing was so unimportant to the ending. There was no plot here, except for the reveal of the cthulhu stripper at the end. It was a lot like “P-Type Engineer” by ZeBourgeoisie in that you show us the evil, but you don’t do anything with it.

Serpenteen
Ironic Twist

This is better than most offerings this week, but it has its weak points. I don’t think the plot hangs together all that well. I read all the words on the page (twice), and I’m not really sure what exactly is going on. Like, there’s Vas, who seems to be some kind of young demon charged with fixing up Eden. Then the whole bit with Tania eating the fruit from the tree of life (I think?). Vas then finds her, still alive but buried in sand, clutching the fruit. All of these things make a compartmentalized sort of sense, but when I try to put them together to find meaning, I come up empty-handed. I liked this piece compared to the others because the writing was good and clear, but sadly, the story was not.

The Hunger That Burns
PoshAlligator

This was creepy and visceral. The writing is very clear. It's pretty intriguing from the get go. The problem is that the plot's trajectory is kind of predictable. The scene where he bites off a chunk of his own wife was good, but you needed a stronger finishing move. Killing the protagonist is the easy way out.

Some Artificial Raspberry Flavoring Comes From the Anal Gland of a Beaver
Crabrock

Cheeky title. But even while reading in judgemode on the archive, I knew this was you. Yeah, you interpreted “black metal” in a loose way, but a handicapped kid trying to helpfully kill himself is kind of metal in a sad, childish, and subtle way. You dip into some serious emotions, then pull out just before things get maudlin or too on-the-nose. This had my win vote pretty much from the first readthrough, even though there were some stories that technically hit the METAL part of the prompt a little more obviously.

Revenge of the Crimson King
newtestleper

This had me until the ending. The protagonist just walks out with the bird? I didn’t even notice the “its” thing, to be honest. But I’m dumb. It was really the ending that kept this in the middle of the pile for me. I wasn’t quite able to get a feel for the main character, or why/how she walked out with the chicken. I thought it was a neat interpretation of your title, though.

Voidborn
Screaming Idiot

This is kind of just a vehicle for the witty banter of some vampires. I didn’t really like how campy it got at the end, might’ve been better if it’d just stuck to being a fantasy story, rather than borderline parody (or vice versa). There are hints at what could be an interesting world, but the bantery banter and the inconsistent voice throughout didn't mesh perfectly with the action and worldbuilding.

The Body of the Host
Grizzled Patriarch

Whelp, this is a very short scene in a story I want to read. It’s very good, but since it’s a fragment, I couldn’t really nominate it for the win. The writing is downright pleasant, but the ending left me feeling like I was dumb and missed something. I wish there’d been even just one more paragraph of explanation, something else to clue the reader into what the ending was getting at. All of the judges liked this, but were left feeling ????. Which is a shame.

The Farewell
DreamingofRoses

This is pretty good, but I thought the Empress agreed to the kiss too suddenly. That part read very jarringly. It was all this lovely backstory and ending, then the kiss of death, The End. This was enjoyable, but without much of a plot arc, so to speak. This is an example of a piece where strong characters make up for a weak plot. Other than the kiss, which as I mentioned happened too suddenly and easily.

Its Fire Torments It
asap-salifi

Okay, I more or less followed this, but why did Jai kill himself with the poison? Why was his brother nuts? This is like an excerpt from a clumsy Game of Thrones fanfic. Rape! Insanity! Royals deaths! Betrayal. It was a beautiful day in Kingdomland, THEN REGICIDE HAPPENED. Except this is missing all the context/subtext that makes that kind of thing interesting.

The Baker of Lagash
Bad Ideas Good

What the heck. Another story where the ending involves mysteriously drowning in a lake. Is this supposed to be like the story of Job, or something? The first paragraph is so clunky and stilted, the tense is all over the place, and the ending just felt pointless.

The Citadel of Dwarves
Jonked

An epic poem is pretty metal. I’m by no means a poetry expert at all, but I liked this. Had this been prose, it might not go as well, but as a poem I think it’s of the right length and plotular roundness. IDK about enjambment or rhythm or any of that fancy stuff. Mojo had some quibbles with it, but I was able to read it in one sitting, which is more than I can usually say about poems longer than a haiku.

Screaming at Hectate

This had a lot of really vague, hand-wavy bits plus lots of weak adjectives and adverbs. It was faaairly metal, but all of the interesting stuff re: these dudes’ journey through the underworld got glossed over. The ending was more of a beginning to a fantasy book than an actual ending. I wish you’d pared down their journey across the afterlife to just a couple events that you described in detail, rather than glossing over everything and plopping them straight at the city gates. I hate to say this, but you could almost rework this story to not have the beginning. Just throw the dudes into the underworld, give some context about why they're there, and send them off to scream at Hectate. That way, you'd have had more words to spend on the good stuff.

Glorious Altars of the Blood-Red Insanity
Doctor Idle

This is….kind of dumb. The writing style is bhellehhfhfugh, so florid and clumsy. We’re almost led to think that there’s going to be some intrigue with the aunt and uncle, or that maybe the protag had gone insane and killed them or SOMETHING. But no, just bad steak and a bad quip in the last line. This was definitely in my “stories that take a titanic application of willpower to keep reading” category.

Embers
Entenzahn

This was pretty cool. Clearly, you took care with your wordcount here, because the ending was more or less satisfying, and there was a definable arc. The descriptions were good. Sticking to three characters was good. Painting the world with broad strokes was good. This was in my high pile for the week.

leekster
Jun 20, 2013


Shifting Sands - 650 Words

Flash rule - a broken piece of glass with a mysterious stain on it.

A hollow wind drug itself through the town. Leonard could tell that this district hadn’t seen much activity. Sand frosted the few windows that hadn’t been blown out. He drew his coat a little tighter as he turned to walk against, the dull rattling of closed shutters softly coaxed him on. He was following the path he’d taken every day for years. Parts of his past were still around him but they were pockmarked with shrapnel. The fountain he’d stop at for lunch was green and bubbly. Part of the lip was cracked open and the sludge oozed from it like pus from a zit. From its puddle grew wild grass and some cat tails. Leonard shuddered at the thought of how polluted that water must be for life to grow in the middle of the desert.
Leonard walked past his old apartment. The corner room on the third story looked like how he left it years ago. Only difference was now the northern wall was blown and part of the ceiling had caved in. The rubble looked like it was going to spill out into the street as if the building was a body rejecting some foreign contaminant. The doorway through the butcher’s shop was shuttered and locked loosely with a chain and lock. He could lift the door just enough to see the interior. He knelt down to see what was hidden behind it only to recoil again at the smell. He pulled his sweater over his nose and looked inside once more. The display cases were still filled with meat. Hordes of flies buzzed over them and moved past the maggots that writhed their way through what was once a prime cut of meat.
He shut the gate hard and brushed himself off. He didn’t think that the city could fall apart this quickly only after three months. Signs with arrows pointed towards where the refugee camp was. They were defaced. Someone had sketched a lazy skull and crossbones over it, the skulls eyes were two bulletholes through the sign. The dark circles were lopsided and the left lazily followed Leonard as he struggled with the gate.
The camp lay before him. The olive canvas tents were caught in the concertina wire that surrounded the camp. Tent poles poked through where the wind had torn them apart. None of the vehicles that had brought food and water were still here. In their place were smashed open crates, many of them burnt on the outside. Leonard looked to the centerpiece of the camp, what everything had been built around. A stone church weakly stood above the forlorn front. The skeleton of stonework that once held its precious stained glass windows lazily stopped the sun from coming in.
Leonard tugged at his throat. A phantom weight shifted. He longed for the familiar feel of cloth against his throat. To unlock the doors and light the candles. But he knew what the church had become during the evacuation.
With a growing pain in his throat he brought himself close enough to peek through one of the windows. A light pierced his eyes as he brought up his guilty eyes to look. Part of the window was still there. Leonard snagged the piece and held it up. It’s color was ruined. It should have been the emerald green of a pasture but now with the glass held up to the sun it was a muddled brown. Streaks of a deeper stain criss crossed and made a lazy lattice on the side that was exposed to the inside of the church.
With the token of his journey Leonard turned and walked towards the gate his foot kicked a child’s toy across the courtyard. The muted lime body with cherry fins twisted a lazy arc. Leonard grabbed that too and with a lst look at the church he went back through the city.

Crab Destroyer
Sep 3, 2011


Seedship Stowaways
951 Words

Luke had laughed when he learned that the Ark - the continent-sized spaceship that would take mankind to a new world, was shaped like a spermatozoon. It became much less funny when his application to board the Ark had been rejected. However that didn’t keep Luke, and around three hundred thousand others, from stowing away on the massive ship before it left Earth. Luke’s wife, Emily, was on the Ark and he was determined to find her.

Getting aboard the Ark was easy. Luke knew a guy on the Ark’s aerial launch platform that owed him a favor and once he was on board there was already a network of other stowaways eager to assist him .

What Luke didn't realize was how difficult it would be to find a single person among the Ark’s four billion legal residents. Four billion was a number Luke had trouble conceptualizing. He didn't even realize that the stowaways made up less than 0.01% of the Ark’s population until his friend and fellow stowaway, Matthew, explained it to him. Luke spent months searching the cryogenic chambers for Emily, and the despair he felt was overwhelming. When Luke first boarded the Ark he thought he could narrow down his search by accessing the ship’s passenger directory and searching for her name. When he finished inputting the search parameters a list of nearly five thousand passengers scattered throughout the Ark’s tail popped up on his tablet. It was encouraging to know that he wouldn't have to individually search every single cryogenic chamber.

The rooms containing the cryogenic chambers were enormous. A single “tail segment” held fifty cryogenic freezing rooms. Each of these rooms held one million individuals in a cryogenic chamber that was about seven feet tall. These chambers were labeled with the name of their inhabitant and stacked in such a way that any individual could be removed from their chamber and led down a set of stairs. Overall these rooms reminded him of some sort of jumbo-sized football stadium. Even though he knew the approximate locations of every “Emily Brown” on the ship they were usually about a day’s walk from each other.

Luke was about to find a place to sleep after a long day of exploring a mere fraction of an Ark tail segment when his tablet began chirping. His buddy Matthew had just sent a photo of a middle aged couple being removed from their cryogenic chambers for recreation with the title Recognize Anybody? -TSB32. It took Luke a few moments to properly analyze the faces, after a while all the faces that weren't Emily’s had started to blend together, and the woman in this photo was obviously too old to be Emily. In fact the woman wasn't even the same ethnicity as Emily, she looked an awful lot like - and that’s when it hit him, the realization that Matthew had sent Luke a photo of his parents.

Luke had stayed in touch with his parents after he moved away from his hometown, but he hadn't actually seen them in over ten years. His father was more muscular than Luke remembered, and he had shaved his head. His mother looked like she had lost a lot of weight. Both looked like happier versions of the people he had said goodbye to ten years ago. They didn't even look older, their obviously improved health helping them age with dignity.

TSB32 was a location on the Ark - Tail Segment B-32, a room of cryogenic chambers that was relatively close to the “body” of the ship and adjacent to the segment that he was currently exploring. Luke was grateful for the fortunate turn of events and made his way to the place where the photo was taken. Luke found them in a cafeteria that joined the cryogenic chambers.

“Well fancy seeing you here, I thought you said they rejected your application?” Luke’s father was straight to the point, as usual.

“Is that what I told you?” Luke tried to return his father’s smile, but instead he grimaced and bundled it with a weak chuckle. He could tell that his father was annoyed at the vagueness of his reply, but Luke didn't want to hear what his father’s comments on his decision to sneak aboard.

“So how’s the wife?” his father said, pretending that he didn't notice Luke’s suspicious behavior.

“It’s a funny story actually…. I've sort of… uhm… lost her…..” Luke said. He tilted his head and tried to avoid direct eye contact.

“You mean since you've been thawed? I thought Em said that she was somewhere in segment CC? What are you doing all the way in segment B?” his father said.

Luke’s mother let out a sigh, she was already tired this incredibly silly back and forth they were having. It was obvious that everybody knew exactly why Luke was here and what he had been doing. He was a terrible liar.

“He’s a stowaway Honey, he doesn't know where Em is” she said.

“A stowaway?” his father asked loudly. It seemed to Luke that his father was feigning surprise, overreacting intentionally. Sure enough the look of overwhelming surprise was replaced with a smile. “Either way, it’s nice to know you escaped the shithole.”

Luke’s mother gave him a hug.

“We've missed you.”

“It’s good to see you again.” Luke said, returning the hug. “Did Em actually tell you where she was?”

“She sent a mail when we first took off. Don’t worry we’ll take you to see her.”

And so Luke was finally able to relax, glad that he and his family would be reunited on the Ark and that they had all escaped Earth before the inevitable calamity struck.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006


The More Things Change
(Word count: 1612)

The hostilities started right in the middle of Todd’s holo-presentation. He was showing his classmates how the ship’s spin generates enough centripetal force to simulate Earth gravity, but Sebastian wasn’t having it. Todd’s effete voice was just too rich a target. Sebastian kept interrupting Todd with whispers of “fairy,” “I fuckin’ hate this kid,” “Is this kid gay or what?” The teacher sat glassy eyed at her terminal. She couldn’t be bothered to discipline the bully, nor the growing body of students pointing and laughing.

Todd meant to ignore the crowd, but he was already trembling from public speaking. As the insults piled, his voice shrunk to a pathetic quake. He broke into a cold sweat, terrified at the sensation that his throat was collapsing on him. The class’s laughter roared; its ringing echoes pressed against Todd’s skull. His chest felt like a knife was slicing its way through it. Todd winced from excruciating pain and gasped for thinner air. He staggered out of the classroom, the world now reduced to a fog punctuated only by the chorus of laughter behind him. Todd made it within ten feet of the mid-ship lift when he collapsed.

When at last Todd felt a hand on his shoulder, he expected the physics teacher. Turning, he was amazed to find Alison Bloom. She was a puppy-love crush of Todd’s back in Kindergarten. He hadn’t spoken to her since, though they shared physics class. Now a popular student, Ali flashed a bright smile at Todd. His gaze fixed upon the gleam of her emerald eyes.

“It’s called a panic attack,” she whispered. “I’ve had them before too.” Todd started to speak but choked on the words. She continued, “You look like you could use a friend. Wanna walk me to my quarters after school?”

**

They didn’t take the lift. Ali told Todd that they should walk the seven kilometers to her quarters in aft section. It would give them lots of time to talk. And in that seven kilometer stretch they joked, traded gossip, and discussed Ali’s impeccable taste in shoes. “Well, I’m a Pisces,” she announced. “We know how to accessorize.”

“Oh, I’m not sure what my sign is,” admitted Todd. “But if you ask our physics class, I think they’d tell you I’m a Faggitarius.” Ali threw back her head and laughed. “Really, Todd? And here I had you pegged as an Aqueerius.”

When they arrived at Ali’s quarters, she thanked him for escorting her. “Let’s make this a regular thing,” she said, winking.

“Ali,” Todd said. “How come you’re being so nice to me?”

“Well, I’ve always wanted a gay friend.”

Her words cut deep. “I’m not…” Todd’s voice trailed off. He lowered his head and said, “Listen, I refuse to live in a world where those assholes from class are right about something.”

Ali pouted. “I’m sorry, Todd. Those guys really are assholes. Especially Sebastian. I hope he gets a job in Engineering so he can have his face melted off by engine swill.”

“I hope we get boarded by pirates so they can kill Sebastian first.”

“I hope he blows himself out an airlock on a dare to see how long he can hold his breath. He deserves no better.”


**

“You’re gonna laugh when I tell you,” Ali said. She rested her hand upon his. From the bench, their view was superb. Tall pines, a babbling brook, even synthetic sunset. Over the weeks, the long walks to Ali’s quarters hadn’t been enough. They began hanging out in the mid-ship nature preserve.

“Well since you obviously hate engineering, I know that can’t be it. Just tell me! I won’t laugh, I promise,” Todd said.

“Okay, but I’m holding you to that. The truth is, it hasn’t changed since kindergarten. When I grow up, I still want to be Mary Poppins.”

Todd’s hysterical laughter filled the better part of the preserve.

Ali hit him. “You promised.”

“I can’t help it. I know that movie too well. You put me on to it way back then. So now do you want something to laugh about? When I was little, I idolized Julie Andrews. I used to watch Mary Poppins and mimic her speech, her gait, even her manner of singing. She was my hero, pretty and powerful; taking after her helped me forget the fat, clumsy little boy I was.

“Todd—”

I don’t think I ever told you this, but back in those days, my mom would sometimes catch me signing “Spoonful of Sugar” and beat me for it. She’d bear yellow teeth at me and bark “I ain’t about to raise no fags.” For my eighth birthday, I asked for an umbrella so I could be like Mary Poppins. Caught a beating for that too. My mom kept screaming, “Ain’t no rain on a fuckin’ colony ship!”

Ali frowned. “You know what, Todd. Forget what I said. You can laugh at me after all. What’s the point of having me for a friend if you can’t laugh about me wanting to be Mary Poppins?”

Todd shook the bad memories from his mind. “Funny thing is, that movie is what, over a hundred years old? And people are still watching it. On a loving colony ship. No chimneys to sweep, no birds to feed, no kites to fly. But somehow people still relate to it.”

Ali shrugged. “The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.”

“Maybe that’s the problem. Sameness. There never was a time without moms beating on their kids. Never a time when bullies didn’t call a kid human being just because he was different. So much for progress.”

Ali put her arm around Todd. “We’ve got technology. Mary Poppins didn’t have holograms.”

“I don’t know if technology can save us. Not from human nature.”

**

Sebastian went first. His presentation involved ship propulsion, so the class had taken a field trip to Engineering. Ali kept interrupting him.

“Laaame! Lame-rear end. Are you trying to give a presentation or just bore us to death?”

The teacher couldn’t be bothered to discipline Ali. Todd watched her lean against the holo-emitters and chat up some young science intern.

BOOM. The room shook. Engineers, the teacher, and the entire class flew into the bulkhead. Todd banged his temple. Hard. Though dazed, he was roused by his classmates’ screams and the nauseating effects of sudden weightlessness.

Todd felt a hand on his ankle. It was Sebastian. “What’s going on!?” the bully demanded. Todd had a feeling he knew. “Pirates,” he said, trembling. “Breech the hull, the ship stops spinning. No spin, no artificial gravity. Then board the ship, and take advantage of everyone’s disorientation to secure Engineering. Threaten to disable the engine unless your demands are met and get away with whatever you can extort from the crew. It happened before, thirty years ago.” Todd wasn’t surprised that a jock like Sebastian wasn’t well informed about colony ship history.

The teacher drifted away from the bulkhead. “I want everybody to…BURRP...remain calm.” No sooner had she said it than she gripped her stomach and tossed her breakfast. Chucks of lime and beige poured out of her mouth, suspended in the air in front of her face. She passed out.

The class let out a sustained wail, drowning out the engineers’ frenzied commands to one another. The laments continued until ten men burst into Engineering. The pirates were dressed in black, their faces covered in nylon. Guns being inadvisable to use in microgravity (not to mention so close to the outer bulkheads) they carried spears.

Todd lost himself in the terror. Sweat formed at his temples. His throat slammed shut, and his heart hurt like it was being scraped with a cheese grater. The world around him became a blur, perceivable only between desperate gasps. He saw pirates rounding people up at spearpoint. He saw one of them wrap his hand around Ali’s neck when she tried to fight back. He struggled through gripping dread when another pirate wafted toward him and shoved him in front of the holo-emitter beside Sebastian. Todd’s eyes were watering from chest pain and throat pressure when Sebastian turned to him.

“We’re gonna die. All of us. I’m gonna die next to a loving queer.”

Todd winced and sprung off of the wall to the center terminal. He’d only have a few moments before the pirates would notice. His thumb print activated his cloud account. The holo-emitters came online. Nearly floating away, Todd gripped the terminal with one hand as the other mashed POPPINS.EXE.

Pew Pew, the emitters sounded as they zapped every handheld object in the room. Purses, engineering tools, and pirate spears alike transformed as holographic umbrellas superimposed upon them. True, holographic umbrellas are solid enough to be used as weapons, but they were less threatening than spears, and now a number of students were similarly armed.

Still struggling through searing chest pain and shortened breath, Todd gazed at the class overwhelming the pirates. He felt himself float backwards right before passing out.

**

“Hey rear end in a top hat, have anything to say to Todd now, other than calling him gay?” Ali yelled at Sebastian in the mess hall.

Sebastian turned red, looked at his feet and stepped over to Todd.

“Um. Thanks, I guess. I owe you one. You’re not so bad for a fag after all.”

“He’s NOT a fag!” Ali yelled.

Todd held up his hand. “You know what? Actually, yes, I am gay. And yes, Sebastian, you do owe me one.”

Todd pressed Sebastian’s face to his. When the class began to point and laugh, this time it was at Sebastian.

leekster
Jun 20, 2013


Thanks for the crit Sitting Here!

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

GUM CHEWING INTENSIFIES


The Ballad of Natasha Guerrero (1985 words)

Flashrule: two female characters who discuss science

Natasha was lying down on a hospital bed, her legs up in the air, a team of doctors working on her swollen belly. "It's okay, Nat," her boyfriend Gavin said. "I'm here for you."

"Mhmm," Natasha mumbled, her eyes vacant from all the painkillers, her auburn hair messily spread around . She was holding Gavin's hand as tightly as she could but in her haze, she barely remembered where she was. The surgical team was frantically performing a C-Section as complications had arisen during her pregnancy. "Alright, Natasha," her doctor said, "we're almost done, you're doing great. "

Natasha nodded. The doctor said her child was a breech birth, that the c-section was the only way. The room went dead silent for a moment as a newborn infant was brought into the world, covered in amniotic fluid, screaming and flailing.

"It's a boy!" Gavin called out. Natasha gasped for air as the umbilical cord was cut and her baby was handed to her. "M-my miracle boy," she said weakly, "my angel baby..."

Gingerly, she reached out and held her newborn son in her arms. "Hi, honey," she said and smiled, tears of joy streaming from her face.

"What should we name him?" Gavin asked with the biggest smile on his face.

"...Gabriel," she said. "His name is Gabriel..."

***

"You want me to what?"

"Lisa, I'm shipping off in a couple of weeks," Natasha said as Gabriel nursed hungrily away. "I just want Auntie Lisa to help Daddy watch Gabriel," she said and grinned.

"God, I'm too young to be 'Auntie'," Lisa said, sitting next to the bed.

"Lis, I'm going to be serving one tour. That's about two years," she said and stroked Gabriel's thin hair. "I need someone to help Gavin look after our child."

"You knew this was gonna happen when you volunteered, Nat," Lisa pointed out. "Me and Mom warned you."

Natasha sighed. "I did. But the military offers the kind of opportunities that I couldn't find anywhere else. Like helping to pay for college and housing. We could never afford those kind of things on our own, Lisa."

"Yeah..."

"So can Gabe count on his Auntie Lisa?"

"Of course he can."

"I love you, sis," Natasha said. "You wanna hold him?"

Hesitating for a moment, Lisa held her nephew. "My God, he's so little."

"I know," Natasha answered dreamily.

“What unit are you joining again?”

“The 101st Airborne.”

“So wait,” Lisa asked incredulously, “you’re going to jump out of a plane into battle?”

Natasha said nothing and smiled.

***

Planet Cerberus was a barren wasteland of a planet. It would’ve been strategically worthless if it didn’t have three things going for it--its gravity and atmosphere was exactly like Earth's, there was no native population, and it was rich in natural resources, primarily metals. Flying overhead was a tilt-rotor and inside was the 101st preparing for their HALO jump. “Hey Guerrero, how’s the kid?” one of the paratroopers shouted to Natasha over the droning of the twin engines.

“He said his first word!” she gushed.

“Was it ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada’?”

“‘Two’.”

“No poo poo?”

Natasha said nothing and grinned.

“You’re kid is gonna grow up weird, you know that?”

“Shut up, Thomas,” the medic called out. “Weren’t you eight when you said your first word?”

The cabin burst in laughter as Thomas shrunk back. “Thanks, Ubando," Natasha said.

She nodded. "My boy's first word was 'no'. Kinda set the tone for the next couple of years."

The two women laughed before the cabin was rocked violently. "Kowalski, report!" the CO called out to the pilot.

"We've got a bandit on our six!" he called out. A drone was cruising silently behind the the tiltrotor and fired another rocket. "Evasive maneuvers!" Kowalski cried out. Natasha strapped in as the pilot banked hard to the side, narrowly dodging the rocket and rocking everybody inside. "HQ, this is Aerie, we are under fire, repeat, we are under fire!"

Kowalski launched a small EMP behind the plane which exploded and spread a cloud of energy. The drone was caught in the cloud and fell from the sky, but not before it fired its last rocket. It exploded next to the tiltrotor's right and blew out the engine. "gently caress!" Kowalski screamed and gripped the controls. "HQ, this is Aerie, we are hit, I repeat, we are hit!"

"Brace positions!" the CO shouted. Natasha dropped her head to her chest and covered her neck with her arms. "HQ, we are in a dive!" the pilot shouted.

The tiltrotor crashed-landed on the planet's surface. Natasha felt a sharp, intense pain in her side as she was violently jolted. "Kowalski?" the CO called out.

"I-I'm okay..."

The CO nodded. "HQ, Aerie is grounded. Requesting evac, over."

"Major!" one of the soldiers gestured outside the door. The CO gestured back as he carefully took a mirror to check. A hail of bullets came down, followed by orders barked in Chinese. "We've got hostiles!"

"HQ, we are under fire, repeat, we are under fire! Requesting immediate evac and support!"

"Aaaahhhh!" Natasha screamed. Something was very, very wrong. Her belly felt like it was on fire and she felt something flowing out from between her legs. Looking down, she saw a wet spot Touching it, she saw it was blood. "M-Medic..."

Ubando rushed over to her. "Stay with me, hon," she said while undoing Natasha's restraints. Taking a pair of scissors, Ubando cut her pants open to reveal her vagina which was covered in blood. "Holy gently caress," the medic exclaimed.

"Covering fire!" Thompson shouted and sprayed bullets at the enemy soldiers outside with his light machine gun.

"Major, we need a medivac, now!" Ubando cried out as she did her best to stop the bleeding.

"HQ, we need a medivac, now!" the Major barked as Natasha faded out of consciousness.

***

Natasha awoke in a hospital room. "Natasha?" Ubando asked.

"W-what happened?" she asked and tried getting up.

"Whoa, whoa," Ubando said and eased her back. "Easy girl, you're in no shape to get up."

"Jackie, what happened?" Natasha asked her medic.

You suffered contusion in the crash. You have a giant bruise but thankfully, nothing was broken."

"So why was I bleeding so much?"

Jackie sighed mournfully. "Natasha, did you have a c-section before you shipped?"

"Yeah, what does that have to-" Natasha stopped herself. She reached underneath her gown and felt stitches below her navel.

"The contusion caused the scar tissue in your uterine wall to rupture. The internal bleeding was so severe that-"

"-you had to perform a hysterectomy..." Natasha said for her.

"I-I'm so, so sorry," Jackie said, her eyes welling up. Natasha didn't say anything. She fixated on how hospital lights always made everything look so washed out.

***

"...the doctors say that I should be able to have my eggs collected, so we can look into a surrogate or something," Natasha spoke into the tablet to her boyfriend Gavin light years away. "I was thinking Lisa--she'll need a bit of convincing though."

Gavin nodded. "Hey, look who's here!" he said and held Gabriel up. "Who's that, huh? Who's that?"

"Mama!" Gabriel cooed.

"Hi, angel!" Natasha said, her face lighting up. "How's my angel baby?"

"I miss you!" Gabriel said.

"Mommy misses you too," she said.

"Go play with Auntie Lisa, me and Mommy need to talk," Gavin said and shooed Gabriel away. "Say bye!"

"Bye-bye!" Gabriel said.

"Bye!" Natasha answered. "Gavin, honey, what's wrong?"

Gavin bit his lower lip. "Nat, there was nothing more I wanted than for the three of us to be a family. But, you were gone for so long. Me and Lis, we-" his voice cracked. "I-I'm so sorry..."

The Major walked in moments later. "Guerrero?" he asked. She looked up to acknowledge him, her eyes completely dead of any emotion. "On behalf of the United States Army, I offer my deepest condolences," he said and walked inside. "In recognition, we are hereby awarding you the Purple Heart and discharging you honorably. You're going home, soldier."

"I'm not leaving," she mumbled.

"Excuse me?"

Natasha stared at him, her eyes full of fire. "I'm still in this fight, Major, it's all I have."

***

Over six years, Natasha served three tours and made over ten drops, earning the rank of Sergeant. It all meant nothing to her, though. Looking out the window on the shuttle back to Earth, she could feel the vitriol building up inside her. She hated Lisa for breaking her family, she hated Gavin for throwing his fatherhood away for her, but most of all she hated herself--all this would have never had happened if she stayed home. When they were finally within airspace, Natasha took out her phone. "Gavin? Is Lisa there? And Gabriel? Good, tell him to stay in his room, we need to talk."

***

"Natasha, we missed you!" Gavin said nervously and stood next to Lisa. All three of them were inside his apartment. "Especially Gabe..."

"He's in his room?" Natasha asked.

"Yeah, he's packed and ready, what's this about?" Lisa asked.

Natasha took a deep breath. "When I joined the military, I thought I was doing my part to start a family. When I gave birth to Gabriel," she said and looked at Gavin, "I thought we had a family. When I asked you to help look after my son, Lisa, I thought I could trust you."

"Nat, what-"

"Shut the gently caress up," Natasha snarled, tears rolling down her face. "I took from Gabriel his mother. You took from him his father," she said to Lisa. "And you," she spat at Gavin, "took any hope for a family from the both of us. And now I'm here to take back what's mine."

"Who the gently caress do you think you are?" Gavin demanded and got up in Natasha's face.

"Gavin, don't-" Lisa begged and tried to hold him back but he pushed her callously aside. "Who the gently caress do you think you are, to take away my son away from me?!" he said, spraying spit in her face.

Natasha grabbed Gavin, tripped him, spun him around, and put him in a hold, ready to snap his neck. "Don't say a loving word," she said to Lisa, "or I'll snatch the life from him."

Natasha threw him back towards Lisa as the two of them cowered. "The two of you cunts are going into the bedroom and staying there. I'm going to take Gabriel. We will never see either of you ever again. Tomorrow Gavin, you are going to the courthouse and surrendering any legal guardianship you have over him. If either of you try to take him away from me," she said, her eyes wild and her words venomous, "if I so much get a call from child services, I swear on his eyes I will kill him first and then myself. But not before I hunt the both of you down, gut you like the pigs you are, and cover the walls in your blood and guts. Do you understand?"

The both of them nodded. "Say it!" Natasha barked.

"We understand," Gavin and Lisa said over eachother.

"Good, now gently caress off."

The two of them retreated towards the bedroom. "Natasha, you're serious, aren't you?" Gavin asked.

She smiled and said nothing. Gavin cowered and closed the door behind him. Natasha walked over to her son's room. She paused for a moment and covered her eyes. No more tears, she said to herself. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door. "Gabriel?"

"Mama!"

Natasha dropped to her knees and grabbed her as he ran into her arms. She took him in--the softness of his skin, the smell of his hair, the warmth of his body. "Mama, I missed you."

"I missed you too, angel," she said and stared out in the distance, her eyes glazing over and her thoughts filled with the sounds of bombs exploding and people screaming in pain. "I missed you, too."

asap-salafi
May 5, 2012


Black and Blue (1551 words)

25 years ago

His feelings lingered as he stared at her. Love and affection; emotions that had hadn’t sensed in a long time. A Justai of his wealth and stature did not experience these things often and he had not felt them since he was a child.

She was beautiful and her distinctive different coloured eyes made her all the more special. Craggor felt tears building up as he looked at the little green thing. Unfortunately, he knew that he would never see her again because as soon as the black market doctor walked in, he would hand over this beautiful bundle of joy forever.

He stood up and walked over to the chamber, taking her in his arms. He cradled her and kissed her forehead.

The Prime Minister Candidacy rules for Mazipolin stated that children were forbidden because of the high level of commitment required. Craggor was in the forefront for the position and a child would ruin his chances and possibly bar him from future governmental roles.

He knew that he loved this child. She was sent to him for a reason and her beauty felt like a sign that he should keep her and retract his contention. He wanted to disappear and get away from the political restrictions that had been imposed upon him.

Reality hit him like a bullet. All of a sudden he felt a nagging urge to get rid of the thing he was holding. After taking one last glance at the baby’s heterochromia, he turned to the door. Holding his head up high, the tall green humanoid walked out. He marched up to the doctor and nearly threw the baby at him. The doctor’s face turned to one of panic and Craggor offered him the best poker face he could muster up in that moment. The very same poker face which had helped him throughout his political career.

“Thank you for your cooperation” he said.

-------

Present Day

Maika used the control commands to ignite the hyper beams located on either side of the ship. She took a quick glimpse at her co-pilot Pariz who was intently staring at her. This was his first real taste of danger and he was afraid of dying, which was reasonable considering the ominous situation they were in.

No. She wasn’t going to die today.

The ship they were chasing had been stolen from the Mazipolin Federal Guard nearly 10 years ago. It was just as fast, if not a little faster than the Police 8000 that Maika and Pariz were riding in. Although the police ships were all well equipped with rail guns, the Federal Guard was well known for equipping their defence ships with rockets and security shields.

However, Maika had a plan, one that she hadn’t shared with her co-pilot yet.

“Communications.” She said, snapping her fingers in front of Pariz’s face who was still gormlessly glaring at her. He blinked and rotated to the communications phone on his left. The cockpit was quite small for such a large ship and being suffocated by Pariz’s constant barrage of affection and compliments often made her feel sick. He had once complimented her about her “striking eyes” five times in one day.

“Communications on the line”. Pariz stated, handing the cordless mic to Maika. She was still manoeuvring the hefty ship, trying to keep up with the rusty dreadnought as it headed towards the collection of asteroids, presumably assembled for their doom.

“Zaizor Operator. Command function 219” She hissed into the microphone, before turning to Pariz and flicking the switch positioned between their seats “Take over the controls, you just need to stay behind it”.



“Zaizor” The grumbly voice of a communications officer came on the line.

“Zaizor. I need the Mazipolin Federal Guard.”

The voice on the other side sounded surprised. “Why?”

“My location is x79 zulu delta sector. I am going to send you pictures now”. Maika said assertively. She stood up and pressed the screenshot button located above them. “The stolen ship has taken possession of the Royal Armistice Jewels.”

“Zaizor” The sullen speech sounded a lot more awake now. The theft had been all over the morning news in Juddaxor, Mazipolin’s capital and the centre of the Justai Kingdom.

Maika knew that if they reached the group of asteroids, her spaceship would run out of fuel halfway through. There was no way around the asteroids and their signal would become jammed due to interference from within the cluster. In other words, she was in a bad position. Furthermore, there was no way that they would be able to keep up with the thieves because of the size of their ship.

She glanced at her co-pilot, Pariz’s face was now determined as he manoeuvred the metallic ship. He was doing well and Maika noted that in her head for her report afterwards. They had only been working together for two weeks and a chase of this magnitude required her experience. Although Maika had always been confident, she was afraid now. Nevertheless, her strong willpower, which stemmed from her years in adoption meant that she had always felt invincible. The word “impossible” had never featured in her personal dictionary.

The communications officer’s voice came back on the line and made Maika jump a little. Her green scales on her cheeks flying up, as they often did when she was shaken. “Zaizor. Ship number 732. Status is active.”

Maika turned to Pariz, covering the mic with her light green hand. “We can’t disable the ship itself”

“Wh-hhy?” Pariz said as he quickly turned the ship to the left. They were nearing the asteroids.

“Because it might be active and at the speed at which he is going, there’s a chance the ship could explode and kill us.” Maika thought for a second. “We coul…”

“Disable that entire taskforce’s engines?!” Pariz said, unaware that he was shouting and interrupting her. He was still focused on keeping up with the lawbreakers.

For a second, Maika felt like kissing her co-pilot. He was right. The engines would shut down and there would be no chance of an explosion because they would charge down the ship sequentially as per the Fleet Guard system guidelines. Moreover, because the ship was so old, its fellow taskforce ships would now be out of service.

She took her hand off the mic and spoke.

-----------

This was going to change things. Happiness had become an alien emotion to Craggor. Since losing the Prime Ministerial election 25 years ago, he had failed to escalate his career any further and was now working as the Chief of Criminal Affairs. However, finally, at the ripe old age of 129 years, he would finally gain some recognition for his hard work.

When the thieves had been caught, the call had come straight through to him and he had requested that the officer came straight to him with the prisoner. He wanted to commend the agent who had recaptured the Royal Armistice Jewels, something the Fleet Guard had been unable to achieve despite their “elite” status.

He was sitting in his office on Mazipolin, the scales on his cheeks had virtually all fallen off and only a few remained. His skin had become a dark green colour, another sign of ageing that he had not expected for another few years. Craggor’s father had lost his scales and light coloured complexion a few years after his 150th birthday.

He pressed the buzzer on his desk to indicate for his guards to come in with both the prisoner and the police officer. Unfortunately, the other officer had been shot and killed in action.

They entered, slowly. The guards first, closely followed by the officer, who was still apprehending her prized criminal.

Craggor didn’t notice at first but then when he did, his eyes became watery and he felt another scale instantly fall from his cheek.

His child! She was here. After 25 long years, his beautiful baby girl! It had to be her; one eye was blue and the other was black. Cragga fought to control his emotions as he had done when he had first feasted his eyes on his baby girl before giving her away. He motioned for the guards to leave the room. They looked at him apprehensively before he gave the signal again, pointing towards the door as he did so.

The constable standing in front of him shifted nervously, scratching her long neck as the guards left the room.

“What is your name officer?”

“Maika sir.”

“Come here dear.” He said, smiling.

“What about her Commander?”

“Leave her. She’s not going anywhere with those guards outside. I want to get a closer look at the person who did this brilliant work.”

Maika let go of the prisoner and walked over. She stood in front of Craggor and reached down to kiss his hand.

Craggor looked into the young woman’s eyes. She had such beautiful eyes. He smiled again, revealing his green stained teeth.

And then he reached down under his desk, grabbed his Hankoki knife and stabbed her between the eyes.

Craggor left the knife speared in her face and, as the body fell to the floor with a thump, he turned around and looked at his daughter.

“We’re going to disappear.” He whispered as a second scale fell.

asap-salafi fucked around with this message at 23:36 on Jan 25, 2015

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


A Wizard in Space
Words: 974

Ephraim’s eyes lit up as the gas giant appeared on the mainroom console. Clouds of arcane-infused plasma swirled over the planet. Ten years stuck on a runic cruiser had payed off.

After initiating the mining apparatus, Ephraim sat back as he thought of the tremendous power that would soon flow through his body. His wrinkly hands flew over the terminal effortlessly, piloting the stone tube into the upper atmosphere of the planet. Soon the vapor trickled into the mining storage unit, waiting to be harvested.

Ephraim set the miner to autopilot as he trotted to the storage unit, eager to taste a little of that power. As he entered the room, he felt almost light-headed at the sheer amount of energy surging from the storage unit into his body. For a moment, Ephraim hesitated, the sheer amount of power entering into him unsettling.

Still, Ephraim managed to overcome his hesitation and he pulled a small lever on the wall in order to release a small outflow of plasma. A sputter echoed as a glowing stream that resembled the aura-borealis emerged from its container like a serpent emerging from a snake charmer’s pot. The gas swayed rhythmically to an unseen music before dissipating into the air.

Within seconds, Ephraim found his legs wobbly. However, this feeling was soon replaced with a different, more welcomed sensation.

It felt like the aged drained out of Ephraim’s body. Atrophied flesh strengthened and wrinkles faded as the energy flowed through Ephraim. Still, the most welcomed change was the silver hair on Ephraim’s head returning to its lost golden luster.

Ephraim stepped into the lower decks a middle-aged man, and walked out a vibrant youth.

Days and weeks went by as Ephraim absorbed the power into his body. He began to have visions of far off planets and solar systems, and he could hear many voices. Although they were unintelligible at first, the languages soon found meaning to Ephraim. Speeches, promises, secrets, and chatter from every edge of the cosmos found themselves sensed, processed, and understood by a lone wizard in an occult spacecraft.

Among these conversations, Ephraim took special interest in those pertaining to him. He could hear the warrior Mortemer praying that Ephraim's journey would be a safe one. Ephraim’s old schoolmate and renowned warlock Samuel feigned indifference in regards to Ephraim’s journey, but called on his dark gods to bless his friend’s journey when alone in his altar.

The most important person Ephraim tuned in on, however, was his wife Claire. He saw her tears and heard her soft prayers into the night. The wizard saw her tossing and turning, unable to sleep in his absence. Ephraim thought back to when he left his friends. He could feel Mortemer’s strong grasp on his shoulder before he wished Ephraim a safe voyage. He could see Samuel’s thin facade of disinterest. Most of all, though, he could remember Claire’s tear smeared face as he boarded the space vehicle.

The plasma continued to form a fog throughout the ship. Ephraim sat in that multi-colored mist as he felt the secrets of the universe cascade through his mind. Still, all Ephraim could do was gaze back into the lives of his friends.

Then, the worst revelation hit Ephraim as he stood there, trying to tune out a conversation between two blob-like creatures. He saw Claire, an old woman, looking at a picture of Ephraim. She sighed a deep, chilling sigh before falling limp in her bed.

Then a voice, unlike all of the others, whispered into Ephraim’s mind.

“That was but five years ago.”

The word ‘ago’ bounced around in Ephraim’s skull.

Ephraim felt his young flesh and combed through his golden locks as the word ‘ago’ rang through his mind. The mental image of an orange, bat-like creature eating from something that looked like a beehive flashed before Ephraim when he made up his mind. Omniscient-powers were mostly worthless, especially when one is alone.

In anger, Ephraim summoned the entirety of his power to the surface. He remembered his class on teleportation. The instructor showed them how to move forward a few feet, and it burned at the young wizard’s mind as he strained his willpower to move through space. Then, he remembered how the instructor had gone on to say that time travel was impossible; that it was simply too strong a physical law to break with any amount of arcane power.

Still, Ephraim had to try. In a burst of energy, the arcane power flew from every orifice and pore on Ephraim’s body.

Time and space fell around Ephraim as he concentrated on the day after he left his world. The interior of the runic spaceship began to crack as plasma fell into space. The sheer power of Ephraim’s will flung stone and metal into the farthest depths of the universe. He pictured the day after he left in his mind as clearly as possible. The debris of the runic cruiser turned to molten rock and metal as Ephraim strained himself.

The gas giant melted into the background as space went from its typical blackness to a pink and purplish glow. Ephraim felt weightless one moment, and as heavy as a boulder the next. Regardless, he concentrated all of his will into getting to his destination. He strained his mind and body, trying to break the laws of physics in a way no magician had prior. His skin burned as he flung himself through space. His chest pounded as the strength of the physical laws of the universe began to creak. Afraid but determined, Ephraim clinched his eyes shut in that burning dimension.

Ephraim felt the pain melt away.Snapping his eyes open he looked up to wrinkled hands. Staggering to his aged feet, Ephraim saw Claire standing over the horizon, her tears wiped away by the breeze.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


This story has been decomissioned and I'll come back and rub it in everyone's faces once it has been published. Especially yours, crabrock.

Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 02:22 on Jan 1, 2016

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3177&title=Debris

Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 19:00 on Dec 30, 2015

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition


Among The Stars
[1877]

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3178&title=Among+the+Stars

Nethilia fucked around with this message at 05:07 on Jan 1, 2016

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


The Close Encounter
747 words

Archived.

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 03:16 on Jan 8, 2016

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anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


bye

anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:49 on Oct 27, 2015

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