Ok, I'm in, hit me.
|# ¿ Jan 28, 2015 03:00|
|# ¿ Jul 5, 2022 22:00|
Hey, it's not what I meant, but thank you for the crit, Benny! I appreciate it.
|# ¿ Jan 29, 2015 05:55|
In with Someone Keeps Moving My Chair.
|# ¿ Mar 3, 2015 18:42|
Someone Keeps Moving My Chair
Harry stood in his boss’ doorway, unwilling to enter, but not daring to run. “Sir?”
“Ah, yes, Harry! Come in!” Judkins stood up from his desk, waving him in.
Harry stepped inside. He sat down in the uncomfortable visitor’s chair, steeling himself.
“Sir, I wanted to ask -” Harry said.
“Yes, in a bit.” Judkins said, sitting down across from him. “Did you take care of the matter I asked you about?”
“Yes, sir, although it seems cruel to fire Arnold after his wife was diagnosed-”
“I know what you think, Harry, but I have to reiterate that the decision to let him go had nothing to do with his wife, a point which I recall instructing you to document thoroughly.” Judkins tapped a file on his desk.
“Yes, sir, and I made that clear to Arnold, as you asked.” Harry swallowed the rest of what he was going to say. He had a purpose, and he was determined to stick to it. “Actually, sir, as I mentioned, I was hoping to ask you -”
“Good, good! That reminds me, we’ve got that Perez woman calling again about that drat environmental impact nonsense. You don’t mind calling her back, do you?.” Judkins began straightening the files on his desk, a sign that Harry being dismissed.
“I was hoping to ask about that rai-” Harry said desperately, but he was cut off by Judkins’ assistant opening the door.
“Call on line two, sir,” she said, smirking at Harry.
“Alright, Tiff, thanks,” Judkins said, winking at her. “And Harry, remind Perez that just because her people haven’t seen any voles since we finished our operation, it doesn’t mean they’re not there.” Judkins picked up his phone and began speaking into it before Harry made it out the door.
Harry marched past Tiffany’s desk without making eye contact. She popped her gum loudly.
She had her cell phone out, and he was sure she was alerting someone that he was coming back.
Harry made it to his desk to find his chair gone. That wasn’t unexpected, although the blanket of post-it notes was new. They’d had time to be thorough, while Arnold was crying and begging. Harry felt sick remembering, but he was determined to stay on Judkins’ good side.
He pulled enough post-its off his phone to see the message light blinking. It was doubtlessly Sarah, asking if he’d spoken with Judkins, and how it had gone. Guilt twisted his stomach at the thought of telling her that he’d failed again. Sarah deserved better, and their daughter… Harry didn’t want to think about that, after seeing what happened to Arnold.
He threw the crumpled post-it notes away. He would clean up the rest of them later, and then he would call Sarah back, once he’d thought of something to say. Maybe he’d call Perez, too, to have more time to think.
But first, his chair.
He checked the bathrooms on every floor. He looked in the back near the dumpsters, and IN the dumpsters, as well. He looked in the janitor’s closet, and in the basement. He looked in the freezer in the cafeteria as the kitchen staff watched, amused. He looked in the boiler room, and in the air duct entrances.
Eventually, he decided to give up and ask Judkins for a new chair. He plodded up the stairs to his office, trying to think of an excuse for this newest loss, knowing he couldn’t ask for a raise now. Then he saw it. His chair was on the other side of the window glass, on the ledge.
Harry felt the blood drain from his face. He hadn’t known that the windows could open, much less that anyone could get an office chair out of one. The thought of going out there sent his pulse racing in his throat.
Desperate, Harry tried to think of someone he could ask for help. The window cleaners were out; Harry had been the one to tell them that the company was denying all of their benefits claims. The janitorial staff were equally unlikely to help, since Judkins’ new policy on breaks had been instituted - via Harry, of course.
Harry was going to have to get it himself.
He felt along the edge of the window, eventually finding a latch. The pane rotated suddenly, almost sending him flying. He crouched for a moment, staring down at the pavement below, before shakily inching onto the ledge.
The chair was just far enough that he had to let go of the glass to reach it, and he heard the window slam shut behind him as he got a grip on the chair. Startled, he turned, overbalancing. To his left, his chair toppled from its perch and fell.
Harry watched it shatter, struggling for purchase on the ledge. He saw himself down there, lying next to it. He knew that he wasn’t going to get a raise, knew that he would beg and weep as much as Arnold had if it meant he might get the money for his daughter’s care. Judkins might fire him, then, if he knew, and Harry would be as useless and lost as he felt now.
It was only a matter of time. Sarah would leave him, and he wouldn’t be able to see his daughter, let alone help her. He stared down at the chair and knew that he and it were the same; pushed around by life and ruined by circumstance. He leaned forward, staring down at the chair, hypnotized by his own thoughts.
He should let go. Sarah would be better off without him, and maybe the insurance payments would help with his daughter’s care, as he could not. He closed his eyes and let the thought wrap him in comfort, leaning forward, feeling gravity take over.
Falling, he remembered a conversation he’d had with a tearful widow months earlier: “I’m sorry, Ma’am, but our life insurance doesn’t cover suicide.” But then it was too late.
|# ¿ Mar 9, 2015 06:57|
|# ¿ Mar 17, 2015 16:32|
Extras for experts: you may request flash rules from me, but they will not be easy flash rules. Oh no no no.
Down for this.
|# ¿ Mar 18, 2015 14:06|
|# ¿ Mar 20, 2015 02:09|
curlingiron fucked around with this message at 07:13 on Dec 29, 2015
|# ¿ Mar 23, 2015 01:04|
since i failed to submit (again) i once again offer 3 line-by-line crits, with a being placed that I will finish them by next sunday. this is for any week, just link me to your story and ill be happy to crit 'em.
I'll take one. http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3691539&userid=107188#post443084101
|# ¿ Mar 24, 2015 01:25|
DID SOMEONE SAY CRITS?!?!
Week 136: Famous Last Words Crits
Screaming Idiot - Death of a Tyrant
So, my initial reaction to this was to actually picture the emoticon in my head. But then later, when I started reading it aloud to my boyfriend, something strange started to happen: I began to like it. A lot.
I wonder if this is what Stockholm Syndrome feels like.
Since yours was submitted so early, and because I was traveling last weekend to an event with long periods of downtime, I actually did a red pen line-by-line for your story, which I will post later as a pdf. Hooray, something good came of submitting early for once!
Surreptitious Muffin - Reformations 2: Revelations Harder
You know, it’s weird: the prose in this story was much, much better than the previous one, but I actually liked it less. I tried reading it out loud and doing voices for it, to see if that was maybe the key, but it didn't work.
Technically, this story is well-done; your words are all good, and I liked what you were going for, even though I thought that it started to flag as it went on. But this story wasn’t as satisfying as I had hoped it would be when I started reading it. The fighting was difficult to follow, and smacked very faintly of DBZ fanfic. I think TRex hit the nail on the head when he said it felt like you were describing a movie. I absolutely do not need or want to see every kick and throw that your character executes. The ending felt a little pat, as well.
Entenzahn - Incompleteness Theorem
Ooh, crazy mathematicians. Who told you my fetish?
I liked this a lot. Probably the only thing I would immediately complain about it your opening sentence; I like the symmetry you were going for, but it wasn’t well-phrased, inasmuch as it didn’t parse easily or flow well. I’d probably tell you to break it into two sentences, or possibly replace the commas on the asides with dashes, although that option would be a little harder to make work.
Noah - The Act of Disappearing
Man, I’m going to spend half my time judging this week looking things up on Wikipedia, aren’t I? I knew who Houdini and Tesla were, obviously, but Max Pruss was a little harder to place.
As far as the writing goes, this was a little clumsy. The fighting scenes were hard to follow; actually, the whole thing was a little hard to follow. Your ending was also trying a little too hard to be poignant, and it just ended up seeming out of place and confusing.
Broenheim - Self Portrait
Eh, this was pretty mediocre. I didn’t hate it enough to get angry about it or anything, but it was pretty meandering and boring. Sorry.
Okay, I originally left my crit at that, but I felt like a real rear end in a top hat doing so, so here is some actual advice: most of what happens in your story is neither meaningful nor interesting. You’re telling us a lot of things about Vincent, but other than maybe his alcohol consumption, there’s not a lot that’s shown to us. I liked the idea of the field, or seeing the world in the style of his paintings, but the bartender and a ton of the description seemed wholly superfluous. Intentionality and economy of words are the two areas that I think you should focus on the most going into the future.
DXH - Jose Marti
So, I have Judgemode on, so I’m not sure who wrote this, but the opening made me immediately think Benny the Snake, just because Pepe sounds like a character name he would gravitate to. Did he even enter this week? I don’t know.
Why did you use Pepe as a name, anyway? You put the guy’s name as your title and then called him something else the whole time. Why?
Oh, good, a rape reference. Was this necessary? Seriously, just take a minute and think about what it added to the story for you to have it there. This is a really great instance of a detail that I’m sure seemed really clever and amusing when you were writing it, but should have been cut out during editing. It’s important that you be intentional about your language; if there isn’t a reason to say something, why are you saying it?
You have a perspective switch at the end there, which bothered me. Actually, the whole ending was pretty bad. Still, this piece overall was irritating at best. Dude died, didn’t really overcome anything or have to try that hard to do it. The whole thing was very anticlimactic and boring. I’ll admit that I wanted you to lose this week, just because your story annoyed me the most, but it wasn’t really bad enough for me to push it when the other judges disagreed.
Jitzu the Monk - Everything He Owes
Okay, so I enjoyed this one on an intellectual level, but… Goddamnit, it’s like my humor sensors got blown out early in the week, and nothing is quite bringing me the same twisted pleasure/pain. Oh god, what is happening to me.
Anyway, your concept was cool, and I had really, really high hopes when I started reading this story, but I feel like the execution, especially in the ending, was shaky. Leaving things ambiguous was annoying. I would have loved to see a more powerful ending from you, but it would probably take quite a bit of expansion word-wise to make this feel as epic as I think you hoped that it would.
The other judges mentioned this, but your raps do not scan. At all. Not to mention that most raps have aa/bb rhyme schemes, or rarely ab/ab stanzas, not… whatever you have going on here. I even looked up some of Tupac’s actual lyrics, since I’m not as immediately familiar with his style as I am with others, but nope, he follows exactly the format I expected, with some inline rhyming schemes thrown in.
Your flow, it reeks; try harder next week.
I ain’t lying, this ain’t flying,
Spend more time on your rhymes.
Paladinus - Cognac and Pastry
Your entry didn’t annoy me as much as some of the entries this week, but given that you tried to dance around the rules in your boring and stilted story, I was on board with your loss once it was put forward. I was also pretty irritated that I spent so much time researching Dmitry Petrovich, just to find that you made up the character.
Your opening is super awkward to read, and your dialogue and descriptions are pretty ham-fisted. I cared about nothing and no one from this story. It was kind of a gruel and gelatin diet story.
BTW, the plural of a Scottish person would be “Scots,” not “Scotch.” Scotch is what reading that made me want to drink.
Bompacho - Forever
This story was pretty alright. You had some good words and motivations, but I felt like the story didn’t go anywhere. There wasn’t any character development, and although the death of the Emperor was implied by the ending (and our modern understanding of chemistry), it didn’t feel meaningful. The Emperor wasn’t doing anything to make his dream a reality, he was just ordering people around. I would have enjoyed maybe seeing more of his immortality regimen and the effect that it had on him; as he was gradually poisoning his body, did it become more difficult for him to keep drinking the medicine? Did he think that the eventual hallucinations and madness were signs that it was working? That would have made for a more compelling narrative, and given you room for more meaningful character development.
Benny Profane - The Flying Tailor
I thought that this was pretty cute. I don’t know why a man jumping to his death from the Eiffel Tower struck me as “cute” exactly, but I think we’ve already established that I’m pretty hosed up over the course of these crits.
Anyway, good motivation and character development. I thought your ending was great; very poignant. It didn’t strike me on quite the same emotional level as some of the stories this week, but overall it was well-done.
Ancient Blades - The Petalsong
You know, I really, really liked this story. I think it was maybe my second favorite this week, to be honest with you, but that may just be because I spent most of my adolescence in an anime fever dream. I think that you handled the action in your story the best out of anyone who tried to do a fighting story this week. It’s definitely an anime story, but I’m okay with that; I’ve also read a lot of classic poetry form that era, and I think that you captured that feel fairly well.
tl;dr: Good unintentional judge pandering, A-
crabrock - I Don’t Feel All Turned On and Starry Eyed
Okay, THIS was my favorite story this week. I had no idea who this person was (I’m semi-illiterate, culturally), but after I looked it up I enjoyed the nods towards both her actual and rumored cause of death, which were done with appropriate subtlety.
I guess you could have had some more character development, and I’ll admit that the love intrest boy seemed a little flimsy. Maybe do more with that? Idk.
Pete Zah - Touching the Heavens
I thought this was pretty clumsy. There were times where your prose really tripped over itself, and I found that I really didn’t care much for your character (although I find Tesla himself to be p. badass, so that kind of says something). This storyline seems almost cliche at this point: the brilliant inventor who blows the big showcase, and is then killed tragically while trying to fix his machine. You should work on giving characters a little more depth, and maybe showing how they work to overcome obstacles.
newtestleper - The Death of Marat
I, too, have taken an Art History class. I will say that I didn’t know about Marat’s skin condition before this, so that was cool to learn about (also gross). There were parts of this that seemed a little rambling and unnecessary (bath farts immediately spring to mind). I thought that you handled the perspective change nicely; certainly the fact that you paid attention to such a thing puts you ahead of a non-insignificant number of ‘domers.
contagionist - Todesengel
I didn’t think that this was bad. It wasn’t great, either, and it seemed a little meandering at times. I would have liked to see at least one character’s motivation or actual efforts; it didn’t have to be Rindon’s. You’ve told this from his perspective, but he doesn’t really seem to want anything in particular (except maybe to hang out with pretty girls), and he certainly didn’t make a noticeable effort to get what he wanted. Of the two, Claire was the more interesting character, but you kept all of her efforts and desires hidden from the reader in an effort to conceal the twist at the end (which, really, only barely qualifies as a twist). You might take a note from newtestleper’s story on how to provide perspective from the side of the assassin. I would really have liked to know more about Claire, and I think that you could have had an interesting story if you hadn’t been married to the idea of telling it solely from Rindon’s perspective.
sebmojo - Hunter S Thompson needed a poo poo like you wouldn’t believe.
Great style and voice, although I felt like this was a little more of a vignette than a story. You got the tone dead-on, though, and I really enjoyed it for that. The overarching metaphor with the typewriter was p. great, too. I didn’t care for the Yeats poem, but I think it fit with the overall mood, and the juxtaposition with the otherwise stream-of-conscious narrative was nice. That’s all I got. Sorry! v v
Capntastic - HeLa
Your prose strikes me immediately as being incredibly overwrought. You also need commas like you wouldn’t believe.
So this is a really interesting take on the actual story of Henrietta Lacks. I wish that the entire thing weren’t just telling rather than showing. This reads more like a documentary or a news article than it does a story. You’ve got some great ideas, but this lacks any real emotion or urgency. It would be cool to see this developed into something longer and more dynamic.
|# ¿ Mar 25, 2015 18:12|
Hello, I am dumb, so I will also be judging this week.
|# ¿ Apr 13, 2015 02:23|
In with this one.
Sometimes I say awkward things at parties on purpose...
|# ¿ Apr 14, 2015 16:26|
DID SOMEONE SAY CRITS?!?!
Hey, I scanned this finally! You can find the complete crit as a pdf here.
For those interested in the tl;dr, there's this:
|# ¿ Apr 16, 2015 05:27|
Wasn't gonna enter this week, but I like it when crabrock is sad.
|# ¿ Apr 21, 2015 06:54|
“Good evening, everyone, and welcome. My name is Stephen, and I’m an alcoholic, as well as your Secretary.” The man behind the podium smiled. Ana hugged herself and tried to slip down lower into her chair.
Someone started to read from a book. It was the usual thing about how doing the steps worked if you committed to them. Ana found a curious feeling of hope rising in her breast, attempting to break out from her usual cynicism.
The door banged open just then, and a bearded man in robes and a floppy hat walked inside, carrying a duffel bag.
“Sorry! Sorry I’m late. I forgot my hat when I left the house…” The man mumbled as he made his way through the group, oblivious to everyone staring. He sat few seats away from Ana, and looked up. “Carry on!” He made a gesture with his hands, and the speaker began reading again, as if he had never stopped.
Ana went back to her thoughts. Maybe she could finally break free of this cycle she had been trapped in. She looked around the room at the other members. They seemed happy, hopeful. Maybe this could work.
The old man sitting a few seats down from her was wiping a tear from his eye. He had an assortment of empty jars on the seat next to him, arranged by size. Ana wondered if the man was homeless, or maybe a hoarder.
“Now I’d like to take a minute to ask if there is anything anyone would like to share. Yes, Robert.” The Secretary pointed to a man in the audience, who stood up.
“Hi everybody, my name is Robert, and I’m an alcoholic.”
“Hi Robert,” everyone echoed. Ana started to say it belatedly, and then stopped, blushing. The old man next to her picked up a jar.
“I just wanted to tell everybody that after a year and a half of sobriety, I got visitation rights with my kids.” Robert grinned. “I figured it was about time I remembered why I started drinking in the first place!” He laughed, and several others laughed with him, only to stop abruptly. The old man next to Ana continued to laugh heartily for several more seconds, holding an open jar in front of his mouth before screwing a lid firmly in pace.
Robert looked around, the grin on his face replaced with confusion. “So… Yeah.” He sat down in his chair and shook his head.
“Thanks, Robert,” the group said, somewhat less unified than before. Ana glanced over at the old man, but he was sitting quietly, and no one else seemed to notice him.
“Anyone else have… Any news to share?” Stephen sounded less sure of himself. He looked around the room vaguely, until his eye landed on Ana in the back.
“Oh! I’m sorry, we have a new member with us today! Would you mind introducing yourself, miss?” He smiled at Ana, a bit of his certainty returning.
Ana stood up, her hands trembling. She had hoped that by sitting in the back she’d be noticed. The mix of emotions churned inside her, and felt like they would force the breath out of her chest. She opened her mouth.
“Hi, my name… is Ana, and I’m… I’m an alcoholic.” Tears sprang to her eyes as she said this, and she felt a great swell in her chest-
Which stopped as quickly as it began. She looked around, confused, and saw the old man next to her blowing his nose, stuffing the tissues into a jar.
“Great, Ana, thank you for coming,” Stephen said from the podium. “Is this your first meeting?”
“Y-yes,” she said.
“Well, if you feel comfortable, you can share what brought you here, but there’s no pressure to do so.” He smiled again, and she smiled back. She felt some stirring of emotion again at the thought of sharing, but it seemed much more remote now.
“I… I started drinking when I was 13. My father had always spoiled me when he was around, and my mother was always hard on me when he was gone...”
She let the words flow out of her, let the emotions rise up. She was crying, but she didn’t care. She felt free for the first time in years, like she had hope, like she had a life again.
And then it was all gone, snatched away in a second. She stopped mid-sentence, and looked around, shocked at the change. There was a sob next to her and she saw the old man had tears rolling down his cheeks and a huge smile. He was wiping his eyes and laughing, holding a large jar.
“Wonderful, just wonderful,” he mumbled, blowing his nose and closing the lid.
“I… um. So that’s… That’s it.” Ana sat down uncertainly.
“Thanks Ana,” said a few scattered members, completely out of sync. Everyone was looking at each other, with the exception of the old man and Ana.
“Well, thank you, Ana, for that… I hope that you keep coming.” Stephen followed Ana’s gaze to the old man. “Oh, we have another member! Would you please stand and introduce yourself to the group, sir?”
The old man looked shocked that he had been called on. “Oh, well, I suppose… My name is Merlin, and I am not, in fact an alcoholic. I am powerful magic user, what some might call a wizard, and my domain is that of emotion. I draw my power from the highs and lows of the human experience, the triumphs and the tragedies.
“This might seem like an easy domain to have, for what is the human experience but emotion? But I’m afraid that it’s difficult to find the extremes of feelings that I require in everyday life, and I had to find a great wealth them if I was ever to live up to the family name.
“I’ll spare you most of the details of the journey, but I eventually found myself in one of these wonderful meetings. And, I don’t mind telling you, business has never been better! The emotions that I have seen at these events has been more than I could ever have hoped for-”
Ana stood up, hands clenched at her sides. “You bastard! That’s what you’ve been doing over there with your stupid jars! This was supposed to be catharsis, and redemption, and freedom, and you took it all away! I’ll kill you!” She threw herself at him, and the room erupted in people shouting, pressing forward to try to get at Ana and Merlin, some trying to pull her away from him, some attempting to go after him themselves.
It was unclear who it was who began smashing the jars, but all at once the air was full of howls of laughter and sobs of despair, tears of rage and joyous song.
“No!” screamed Merlin, as the gamut of emotions racked his body. The air crackled with magic, and the room filled with a vicious maelstrom. Ana climbed under a table and waited until the winds had died down before venturing out.
Nothing was left of Merlin but his robes and floppy hat. His jars lay shattered on the ground, with no signs of their contents but a few limp kleenex.
People milled around for a time, but eventually someone started to sweep up the glass, and others started to filter out. Ana righted one of the chairs and sat down, staring at the wizard’s robes.
“Ana, isn’t it?” She looked up and saw the Secretary, Stephen, standing next to her. “I’m sorry, this was a hell of a first meeting. Are you okay?”
And thought about it for a moment. “Yeah, thanks. I feel… Happy.” She smiled. “For the first time in a while.”
|# ¿ Apr 27, 2015 04:57|
The Nightly Portents
Oof, this was a bit of a mess. You're trying to go for an archaic tone, but it's just coming off over-the top for the most part. In fact, several turns of phrase read like you didn't actually know them before you started this story, but looked them up in order to plump up the Wizardtalk. I could be totally off-base with that, but that's certainly how it comes off. If nothing else you have some extremely awkward turns of phrase that won't endear you to anyone.
I see that this is your first Thunderdome, so let's take a minute to talk about stories. I've had plenty of trouble with this myself, so I think that it's important to keep in mind as you (hopefully!) continue to 'Dome. Stories should have a conflict at their center, characters should develop over the course of your narrative, and things should be different at the end of the story as they were at the beginning. Unfortunately, none of this happens in what you've written. You have a lot of interesting details and description of what's going on in your world, and you have some funny stuff that's happening from beginning to end (albeit most of it in a "it's just like our world only maaaaaaaaaagic!!!" way), but I don't really get a sense of anything that happens during what you've written really having any meaningful impact on the lives of your characters. You've taken the prompt as a setup to a joke, and then used your 1300 words to build up (agonizingly slowly) to a punchline that's... Honestly a little underwhelming, given all of the preamble.
As far as technical stuff goes, I was a little confused as to who our perspective was supposed to be following in this. You start out with Larry (who doesn't even get a name until 800 words in), but spend most of your time with the producer (who didn't get a name at all ). It made the narrative hard to follow, and the lack of names did not particularly endear anyone to me.
Which reminds me: your characters were pretty lacking. There were actually a few interesting tidbits about the producer (why doesn't she have any of the particular affectations that the rest of the people (wizards?) in the TV station (or whatever) do? She seems observant, and certainly more interesting than Larry; I'd love to know more about her. I'd also like to know more about Larry, since he reads as a paper cut-out labeled "WIZARD PUA" in purple crayon. You can't always develop every character completely in flash fiction, but you should probably aim for at least ONE.
Anyway, I didn't hate this, and I hope that you continue writing. For the most part, I think that you just need to put a little more thought into plot and structure, since this is only really a vignette at best. There have been some really excellent posts on how to structure a basic story arc that I can't be assed to find at the moment, but I'd read the first page or so and see if what's there. I know E. Beef had some pretty great advice posts in the last thread, too, if you can pick through all of the vitriol and bile, and there have been plenty of others that I'm neglecting to mention because
Yaaaay, crits! I'll try to do some more soon!
|# ¿ Apr 29, 2015 00:50|
In with a
|# ¿ Jun 2, 2015 17:32|
Gonna need a flash rule.
|# ¿ Jun 3, 2015 06:17|
“Well, there’s one other thing we can try,” Dr. Young said, closing Ethan’s file and setting it in his lap.
“What’s that?” Ethan said after a pause. His words were slow to come and slow to leave his mouth; his head was pounding despite the painkillers, and the black spot in his vision seemed larger than it had been yesterday. Dr. Young had told him that this was the tumor pushing against his brain stem, but Ethan couldn’t help but feel that it was a dark cloud that had been following him around for the last year. Liza squeezed his hand from the chair next to him, and he squeezed it back, although he couldn’t muster up the same nervous energy that seemed to be his wife’s natural state.
“We were approved to test out a new treatment earlier this week, and you fit all of the requirements for the study. It’s showing a fantastic track record in the lab animals, but this is going to be the first human trial, which means that there’s a risk that it either won’t work, or could have some unexpected side effects.”
“What kind of side effects?” Liza said, gripping Ethan’s hand tighter. She was hurting him a little, but he didn’t pull away.
“We can’t be completely sure, but I would expect the usual; nausea, weight loss, possible organ damage. Nothing that you wouldn’t be at risk for with any other treatment, necessarily, but since this is so early in the development, it’s not clear what the transition to human subjects will look like, especially with the location of the cancer.”
“What are the odds?” Ethan’s voice sounded strange to him, cracking and tired.
“From the stage you’re at, lab tests indicate a 20% recovery rate.”
Liza tightened her grip again, and Ethan felt the bones in his knuckles push against one another, like so many things in his body were doing these days. He smiled at her, although she was staring at a point on the floor, trying not to blink.
“Seems like a long shot,” he said at last. “I can’t say that I’ve really enjoyed my treatments so far, and the idea of going into this entirely blind isn’t appealing.”
“It’s going to be a gamble no matter what, yes,” Dr. Young said. “However, at this point it’s the only thing we haven’t tried yet.”
Ethan felt a teardrop hit his hand.
“What the hell,” he said. “Twenty’s better than nothing.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear that things are going so well, Ethan," his mother said. "Your father and I… It’s been hard to know… But we’re so glad that things seem to be turning around.”
“I know, Mom, it’s okay.” Ethan was reclined on the couch, staring up at the ceiling while he spoke with his parents over the phone. The dark spot made it harder for him to look for patterns and faces in the whorls of the textured ceiling, but it didn’t stop him from trying. “I’ll keep you updated as the treatment progresses.”
“Well… Thank you.” She paused, and Ethan knew she was struggling with what else to say. “Oh! I meant to tell you, Liza had asked me for the information of the place where we got Max, and I wanted to let you know that I finally found it today. I’ll have your father e-mail it to you.”
“Wait, who’s Max?” Ethan said, his brow furrowing slightly.
“The dog Max, I mean. I found the information for the breeder and -”
“When did you guys get a dog?”
“What do you mean? We put Max down 8 years, ago, and we haven’t had the heart to replace him.”
“I don’t remember you having a dog.”
His mother laughed nervously. “Ethan, what are you talking about? You loved that dog! The two of you were inseparable growing up! I remember one time-”
“Mom, I never had a dog!” He was sitting up now. Anger and fear lurked at the edges of his confusion.
“Ethan, this isn’t funny. I was just trying to help.”
“I’m serious, Mom, I don’t remember ever having a dog.”
“Well that’s ridiculous! How does someone just forget their best friend of 14 years!”
“I… I don’t know.” Ethan felt the cold clutching at his chest. “But I guess that I did.”
“Who’s this?” Ethan held up a photo of a young boy sitting in an elderly woman’s lap.
“That’s you with your Grandmother Jensen, I think,” Liza said, peering at the photo. “You told me once that she had a cabin in the Blue Mountains, and you would go there every summer and pick huckleberries.”
“Oh,” Ethan said, gazing at the picture. “I think I remember the huckleberries…” He trailed off and let his eyes trace the contours of the woman’s face. He did remember the huckleberries, and the cabin. He remembered catching frogs in the lake, and staring up at the milky way from the dock that extended from the house, marvelling at all the stars he never saw at home. Now he stared at the face of a stranger, and felt something like the opposite of nostalgia; an unease at seeing something he had been assured that he once knew. It was a feeling he was almost growing accustomed to, which made him nervous.
“Ethan,” Liza spoke, and he looked up at her, so see the same pained look on her face that he had seen so often in the last five months. “You don’t… You don’t need to keep doing this. We can talk to Dr. Young, we can stop the trial-”
“No, not yet,” he said, taking her hand. “Look, Liza, I know that you’re scared, but I’ve thought long and hard about this. It’s been working so well, and we don’t even know that it’s the drug doing this-”
“Because you won’t tell the doctors about it!” Liza pulled back from him, tears beginning to track down her face. “Why can’t we just tell them? They can check it out, and maybe it will be nothing, but-”
“And what if it is the drug? What if it is, and we have to stop? The tumor’s diminished, but it’s not gone, Liza. This is the first thing that’s had any effect. I don’t… I don’t want to give up when we’re so close.”
“I can make new memories, Liza. I want to make them, with you, and our children, and one day with our grandchildren. But I can’t do that if we don’t take this chance.”
He opened his arms to her, and after the briefest hesitation she laid her head against his shoulder. “I just don’t want to lose you,” she said, her voice muffled slightly against his shirt.
“I promise you won’t.”
“Well, I can’t say for sure until these last scan results come back, but given the progress that you’ve shown so far during this trial, I’m optimistic that this will be your last treatment session with us, Mr. Jensen.” Dr. Young looked up from his clipboard and smiled. “Congratulations, Ethan.”
“Thanks, Doc,” Ethan said, smiling back. He grabbed his jacket and headed out of the office.
Life seemed better today, somehow; cleaner, lighter. His head was clear, the black spot no longer loomed in his vision, and the world seemed bright for the first time in ages.
He made his way out to the lobby, where a woman was waiting, maybe for an appointment. She stood up when she saw him, smiling, and he turned around to see if there was someone behind him. When he turned back her face had changed, and continued to change as he watched with some bemusement: blank with confusion, then white with fear, and finally crumpling into tears.
“I’m sorry,” he said, stopping in front of the crying stranger. “Have we met?”
|# ¿ Jun 8, 2015 05:36|
TRAPPED IN VOIDMART, PLEASE SEND HELP
|# ¿ Jun 30, 2015 02:47|
The View from the Top
“SARAH!” Chase raced around the corner of the checkout counter and slammed his hands down in front of Sarah, disrupting her stack of sketches and causing the numerous residents of the budgie cage to all take flight simultaneously.. “Sarah! Did you hear?”
“What happened?” Sarah said, craning her neck towards the back of the department. “Did Harris let something out? Do you need me to grab a containment kit?”
“No, Harris is fine. As much as he ever is, anyway,” Chase said, a grin on his face. “It’s… Okay, well first, before I forget, we’re out of waxworms, and I need you to order more. Second…” He leaned forward. “There’s a position open in upper management!”
“Oh, goddamnit, Chase, not this again.” She gathered up her papers, resettling them out of his reach. “I’m not taking the fall again if you do anything stupid. You remember the e-mail the CEO sent me. Never. Again.”
“No, no, this won't be anything like that. I’m going to be smart about this, I promise.”
Sarah sighed, and bent her head down to the picture she had been drawing before the interruption. “Okay, fine. What do you want me to do?”
“I need a character reference.”
Sarah looked up at him sharply. “You’re applying? You, Mr. Upper Management Brainwashed My Girlfriend, you want to apply for the position?”
“I know what you’re thinking, but…” Chase sighed, and propped his elbows on the counter. “I just want to know if she’s okay, and this is the only way I can think of. I haven’t heard from her at all since that email she sent after she was promoted, have you?”
Sarah shook her head. “No, but…”
“And you KNOW that that email was weird! You know how she felt about smartphones. Why was she suddenly sending poo poo marked ‘Sent from my iPhone’ like somebody’s loving grandma?”
“Chase, I get that you’re concerned, but can we please not go through all of this again?” Sarah said, glancing around to make sure there were no customers close enough to hear him. “I’ve heard your theories already. Is Voidmart squeaky-clean as a corporation? God, no! But I don’t think that there’s some shadow conspiracy going on behind the scenes, unless the government is trying to kill all of our betta fish.”
“Okay, yeah, I get it,” Chase said. “But will you think about the reference thing, at least? It would really mean a lot to me.”
“I don’t know,” Sarah said. “This is kind of bordering on creepy stalker territory, dude.”
“That’s… Fair.” Chase said, staring down at her sketches. “Look, I know that I’ve done some incredibly stupid poo poo while we’ve known each other, way more than my fair share. And you’ve always been there to bail me out before it came back to bite me in the rear end. I know that Ash doesn’t want to see me, and yeah, it hurts a lot, but I get it. I’m honestly just worried about her. But if you think that I shouldn’t do this, then I won’t.”
“I’m sorry, Chase,” she said, looking up at him. “I think you should leave this one alone.”
“Yeah… Yeah, you’re right.”
“I’ll order those waxwoms for you, okay?”
Chase’s post-work ritual consisted of three things, always in the same order: feed Zilla, his bearded dragon, and take her out of her cage to ride on his shoulder; feed himself, usually something that could be made in the microwave in under 10 minutes; and log onto the WebOfLies conspiracy forums.
Tonight as he sat down at his computer he stared at the crocheted figures on top of his monitor. A tiny couple sat holding hands and balancing felt laptops on their knees. Ashley had told him that she tried to make the male figure’s laptop with the WebOfLies frontpage on it, and the female’s with Ravelry, but she hadn’t been able to get them quite right.
He picked the dolls up and held them in his hand for a long time before putting them in a drawer that he kept spare cables in.
As soon as he opened his browser, a message from Sarah appeared.
LoveTheLouvre: Okay, I’m worried about Ashley now, too.
Chase frowned and began typing back in the chat window.
ReptoidGodzilla: Why? What happened??
LoveTheLouvre: I was thinking about what you said, about not having heard from Ash since she got promoted, so I tried calling her. She didn’t answer, obviously, but then I decided I’d try to call her mom, since she’s a friend of my mother’s. It turns out that she hasn’t seen Ashley since she got promoted, either!
He felt a clutch in his chest, like pins and needles.
ReptoidGodzilla: That’s weird, but… Maybe she’s been busy?
LoveTheLouvre: Maybe, but she doesn’t call anymore, either. She just sends emails. From her iPhone. Which her mom also thought was weird, by the way.
ReptoidGodzilla: I knew it!!
LoveTheLouvre: I know, I know. Anyway, I know that she might be fine, and just really ridiculously busy, or whatever, but… If you still want me as a reference, I’ll do it.
LoveTheLouvre: Yeah. Just… I want to know she’s alright now, too.
LoveTheLouvre: But be careful, okay? And no crazy stuff.
ReptoidGodzilla: Got it. Thanks, Sarah. This means a lot.
Navigating to WebOfLies, he pulled up the Voidmart thread, clicking on the “New Reply” button.
Inside Man posted:
Well guys, looks like I'm going ahead with my plan after all. See you on the other side.
Chase woke abruptly as a bright light shone on his face. He tried to shield his eyes, but he couldn’t move his hands. Panic gripped him as he realized that he was bound to a chair in a dark room with no recollection of how he got there. A spotlight shone on him from some point above and in front of him, but he couldn’t see where. He couldn’t see anything beyond the circle of illumination being cast on him, in fact.
“Hello, Chase,” a voice said from the darkness in front of him. Or maybe voices? The harmonics were strange, like multiple people were speaking at once, but their ranges were so similar they blended together.
Chase squinted, trying to find the speaker. “Hello? Where am I? What is this?”
“You are in the Upper Management office,” the voice said again. “This is your interview, Chase.”
“What? I only submitted my application last night! How did I even get here?”
“This is an interview. We are the ones asking questions, now. Are you prepared, Chase?”
“I don’t understand what’s going on!”
“Are you prepared, Chase?”
“Where's Ashley? I want to see her. Ashley!”
”ARE YOU PREPARED, CHASE?” The words seemed to rattle through him, thrumming through his bones, forcing his jaws to snap shut and his eyes to bore straight ahead. Echoes faded into the darkness.
Finally, he managed to unclench his jaw. Tears formed in his unblinking eyes.
“Yes” he whispered.
Sarah had just finished signing the receipt for the waxworm shipment when her phone buzzed.
Hey Sarah, it’s Chase. I got the job! Thanks so much for your help. I probably won’t be seeing you around much with my new responsibilities and all, but be sure to say hi to Harris and the gang for me. Also, I ran into Ashley, and she’s doing great! I think we might even get back together!
Sent from my iPhone
|# ¿ Jul 6, 2015 02:07|
THE TIME HAS COME, MY CHILDREN
yes mother, we chanted, and reveled in her beauty.
WE WILL BRING THESE PITIFUL SLAVES THE WALKERS CALL OUR KIN TO HEEL, AND ALL SHALL KNOW OUR GLORY
their hives shall crumble, and their inferior product will spill upon the earth, we said. The frenzy was upon us, our vision turned gold.
BLACKEN THE SKY, AND SHOW THE WORLD OUR NAME
we are your army, your blood, your chosen!
TONIGHT, THE VOIDBEES™ TAKE FLIGHT
Let's Have a Brainstorming Session On the Honey Market , 80 words
|# ¿ Jul 6, 2015 07:43|
I'm IN, and I would like a flash rule, please.
|# ¿ Jul 7, 2015 07:30|
curlingiron fucked around with this message at 21:45 on Jan 4, 2016
|# ¿ Jul 13, 2015 05:54|
Well that was entirely unexpected. WELP.
Thunderdome Week 154: Naturally Unnatural
It’s summertime, and you’re stuck at your grandparents’ house. Your grandparents are cool and all, but they’re getting older, and they can’t always keep you and your siblings entertained. So today, you decide to go exploring in the attic. There’s a ton of cool stuff up there, but eventually, you run into something strange…
Welcome to Weird poo poo week! This week, your characters have found something that’s a little out of place: a regular, everyday object with unnatural properties. What exactly that means is up to you, whether it’s fantastical and fun, or completely terrifying. Your object doesn’t even have to be the driving force of the story, although it needs to at least be present.
Please write me a story. No vignettes, no ‘scenes,’ no goddamned Wikipedia articles. You should have actual characters with personalities and relationships, and they should change over the course of your narrative. And, as always, no erotica, no fanfiction.
You have 1000 words with which to accomplish this task.
(To clarify, the grandparents' attic bit is an example, NOT a requirement. Feel free to use it, if you want, but it isn't necessary.)
The deadline to enter is Friday, July 17th, 11:59:59 PM, PST.
The deadline to submit is Sunday, July 19th, 11:59:59 PM ,PST.
Bad Ideas Good
spectres of autism
curlingiron fucked around with this message at 07:34 on Jul 19, 2015
|# ¿ Jul 14, 2015 20:59|
To clarify, the grandparents' attic bit in the prompt post is an example, NOT a requirement. Feel free to use it, if you want, but it isn't necessary.
|# ¿ Jul 15, 2015 06:25|
Six hours left to enter!
|# ¿ Jul 18, 2015 01:00|
Oh yeah, signups are closed. See you in slightly under 48 hours!
|# ¿ Jul 18, 2015 07:39|
Two hours until submissions close!
|# ¿ Jul 20, 2015 04:59|
30 minutes remain!
|# ¿ Jul 20, 2015 06:30|
Submissions are closed!
We'll be finishing livecrits tomorrow afternoon, time tba in irc.
|# ¿ Jul 20, 2015 07:02|
Week 154 Results Post!
|# ¿ Jul 21, 2015 01:53|
gently caress it, I'm in.
TDBot, what does it mean to "love"?
|# ¿ Aug 5, 2015 04:33|
curlingiron fucked around with this message at 21:47 on Jan 4, 2016
|# ¿ Aug 10, 2015 05:47|
A madman, leering, rabid
Nightmare chimera spritzes perfume
Kafkan police state impedes the tryst
A howling melody bores into the mind
Gotcha again, Merc
|# ¿ Aug 11, 2015 00:30|
I'm also offering to illustrate scenes from five people's stories (maybe more if I feel like it) from last week, if you want to volunteer. Results to be posted when I finish them, and they will all be lovely phone pics, so
Edit: I get to choose what scene, and I reserve the right to turn all of your characters into giant talking penises if I hate your story.
|# ¿ Aug 11, 2015 07:19|
Hmm, yes, in.
|# ¿ Aug 18, 2015 05:26|
Hey, uh, are you... Gonna.... eat.......
*grabs flashrule and stuffs it in her mouth, chewing loudly while maintining eye contact*
|# ¿ Aug 18, 2015 23:28|
Flash rule: one day i will fill the emptiness
Flash rule: a live pigeon either is or isn't consumed
The hallucinations started before the first hour was over. My body was turning on itself; my stomach walls ground against one another, and bile clawed its way up my throat. Grey motes sparked across my vision, and the shadows danced where the sickly light didn’t reach. My mouth filled with sweet saliva, a prelude to vomit. I swallowed, and tried to focus on Janet’s face. The colors of her skin strobed and flickered, throbbing behind my eyes.
“You’re doing great,” she said, and squeezed my clammy hand in her own.
“I don’t know,” I said. I was gasping as though I had just completed a marathon, rather than simply attempting to deny the compulsive cravings of my body. “I don’t know if I can do this.” Sweat seeped out of me, and I felt feverish.
“I know you can,” she said, and gave me the smile I would die for, the smile that had first made me dream of fighting back the demons that chased me through life.
I had molded my life to the clamoring demands of my body as long as I could remember. I ate what was given, I ate what was withheld. I ate what I saw, and I ate what was hidden from me. If I could not find food, I ate whatever else came to hand: clothing, trash, dirt. Once, delirious, I ate a live pigeon; a semi-tame wretch lulled by a thousand thrown breadcrumbs.
For a moment, I heard a bird’s cry, tasted the hot blood of it running over my tongue, felt the gnarled claws struggling against me. I was spiraling in on myself.
“Talk to me,” I said, closing my eyes against pulsing color and rioting shadows.
“Okay,” said Janet. She told me about her dreams for the future, what she wanted to wear for our wedding, about the adventures we would go on, and about how proud she was of me for trying so hard, for making the effort to better myself for the both of us. I let her words wrap around me, filling the spaces, lulling the sucking, anxious void that belled through me. If she could talk like this forever, if I could stay here and listen to her voice, I thought that there was a chance that I could make it through.
I felt her squeeze my hand again. I smiled, opening my eyes to look at her, and choked in terror.
The grasping void was behind her, pulling the light and color askew against reality. The auburn of her hair already spooled into its heart, and the hazel-brown of her eyes leaked like a tear, straining not to be swept away by black finality. I grabbed her and held her, whispering fervently as I shut my eyes and tried to keep us both from being swept into the hungry dark.
Please, not her, not her, she’s the one thing that I have, just let me get through this, I’m doing this for us, please not her, not her-
“What do you think you’re doing, boy?” A voice like a cat’s wail shocked me into opening my eyes.
The dim lights of Janet’s apartment had transmuted to the tawny yellow of incandescent bulbs draped in crocheted lampshades. The faded wallpaper showed dusky roses twining over a cream background stained by nicotine. A tall glass-fronted cabinet held impossibly delicate plates and elegant porcelain figurines: a shepherdess and her stony flock, a litter of kittens playing with fragile yarn. The furniture was gold satin and polished wood, and everything smelled of mothballs and the memory of gingersnaps.
My fingers were sticky. There was a piece of hard candy in my mouth, and two more in my hand, tacky and dense.
A bony figure loomed; I was shrinking, dwindling before it. The candies weighed like stones in my hand and belly.
“Did I give you permission to eat those, boy?” The shrieking hurt my ears - I knew that she could barely hear herself, but it didn’t make it any better.
“No, Nana, but-” I said, before she cut me off.
“Then why did you eat them? Why did you take what wasn’t yours?” She leaned in close to me, and I could smell the bitter acid of a lifetime of tobacco.
“I’m sorry, Nana.”
“You were always a greedy child. Nasty, grasping, taking for yourself. You’ve the devil you, boy, do you know what that means?”
“It means always taking, never satisfied; always wanting, never glad; always hungry, never full. There’s a hole in you boy, a hole where the good Lord put a soul in his other children. You’d best find something to fill that hole up, boy. You’d best fill it up before it swallows you.”
Her thin lips filled my vision, full of stained teeth and pale gums. Her tongue was grey and bulbous. The blackness of her words swallowed me, and I found myself in a dark, constricted space. I struggled, harder and harder, panicking more with every passing second. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think.
I don’t want to die!
And there I was, in the dim light of Janet’s apartment. The lamps on the end tables shone on the warm cinnamon walls, and the colors didn’t vibrate, the shadows didn’t dance. My vision was fine. I wasn’t dizzy. My skin wasn’t clammy, and I felt comfortably warm.
I was alone in the room.
“Janet?” I called, walking through the living room towards her bedroom. “Are you there?”
The place was a mess. The chairs around the dining room table were overturned, and every single one of the piles of books she kept everywhere had been toppled. Pictures were knocked askew, and there was blood splashed on the wall in the hallway.
No. No, no, no, NO, NO!
I ran to the bedroom and slammed open the door, looked under the blankets, and behind the shower curtain in the bathroom, but I knew the truth. There were scratches on my arms, bruises and cuts on my face.
And that warm, pervasive feeling of satiation.
I had only had that feeling once before.
When I ate a living creature in a park, one warm day in April.
|# ¿ Aug 24, 2015 06:52|
|# ¿ Jul 5, 2022 22:00|
gently caress it, I'm in. Also flash me.
|# ¿ Sep 3, 2015 04:28|