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epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


I'm not a judge or a participant, I'm just a software engineer who used to write. So, sorry if posting any sort of unsolicited criticisms or thoughts about these "works" is uncouth or against the rules of your potemkin village here, but I had a few thoughts about the previous week's entries.

(That sounds rather dismissive and snarky and that's not entirely intentional, sorry)

I read the first, I don't know, six stories or so.

HalliburTown: A retarded title with such generic writing that my eyes physically glazed over. Once I got to "Venn" my mind's eye quite literally showed me a visage of your smarmy smirk while writing that name and I skipped it entirely out of disgust. Try harder.

An Old Friend: I have no idea why a) I read this one in its entirety or b) why I felt the need to actually read it carefully, but it just. so. boring. Boring caricatures of characters and an unnamed "guest" who may or may not be death Himself, oh Lordy.

They Say Fish Have No Word for Water: The title is twice as good as the story. The story is ... okay. Like that one other poster said, it makes me want to read Brave New World, but it's no Brave New World, itself.

Clap Happy: I truthfully could not discern whether your protagonist (inasmuch as a serial killer can be a protagonist) literally murdered or metaphorically murdered. Maybe that's my fault for listening to so many comic podcasts, but phrases like "I killed," "I murdered", etc are so commonplace that I honestly thought you were speaking metaphorically until you got to the bit about sawing off hands and then I actually got more bored and I quit reading it.

All That He Was: It's unfair to criticise you for this, in a way, but there's a lot of inaccuracies both about guitars and technology that removed me from the story. This was another dystopian setting that just felt ... overdone. And, man, what a boring story, though, really. Guy finds guitar, plays guitar even though against government mandate, is captured, kills self. Hold on I gotta buy a new edge for my seat, this one's all frayed!

Up Up Down Down A B A B Start
lol gently caress this story and gently caress you and gently caress your dad too

--- At this point I skipped a few because I felt like I was going to actually cry real tears in real life sitting at my desk these stories were so bad, so sorry if I skipped a good one --

Some Old Hood poo poo: I knew this would be trash by the title. Thank you for proving me right.

Now, this brings me to the first real reason I'm making this post:
Maybe Being Crazy Ain't Such a Bad Thing: This is some really, and I mean really bad loving writing. I mean, Jesus Christ. Then she passes by as she left, say a few kind words, then Dylan waves bye, and start typing away again. Someone else already pointed out what a goddamn mess this sentence is, but I promise you my eight year old writes better. What in the gently caress, proofread your poo poo!

And lastly, the second real reason I'm making this post: At this point, I felt like maybe Thunderdome was full of idiots so I skipped ahead to read some other critiques to see if any of these were actually supposed to be good. 1) At least almost everyone agrees that these stories, were, in fact, very bad. 2) It prompted me to go back and read:

Holding What is Left: I used to post and critique here a whole hell of a lot more, but it's been so long most of you probably don't know me. But this might be the most beautifully written thing I've read here. And as for the judges who said it's too short they are loving wrong and dumb and should feel very bad about just how loving dumb and wrong they are. You condense more into a sentence than these other hacks could given a piece of sidewalk chalk and the vietnam memorial to write on. (How about that for a lovely image). Three sentences in, and I know more about the characters than I know about all the other characters from all the other submissions combined. There is true heartbreak here, true voice, and just, goddamn, good job.

PEOPLE OF CC: MORE DEAD INDIAN VAMPIRES LESS OF ALL THIS OTHER poo poo, THANKS.

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epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Be rough, it's my first time.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Strike Duty, 1,497 words

“A few extra hundred bucks,” Ed thought as he pulled the tourniquet tight on his shattered leg. He had cut off one arm of his solid navy coveralls to stave off the bleeding. The fabric was not just covered in fine coal dust, it was saturated with it; this gave him pause and he considered what effect it might have on the open wound.

“Jesus! Ed, you ok?” Reggie called from the catwalk above the coal bin. Reg’s booming voice echoed but was still almost impossible to hear over the continuous roar of the powerhouse.

The “bin” Ed had fallen into was perhaps not so aptly named. It housed roughly thirty tons of lump coal. A black, smoking mountain. Ed felt the heat emanating from under him and briefly recalled what their supervisor had told them about the bin. The coal was brimming with potential energy; each chunk of coal rubbed against the other, causing thousands of points of friction.

Sometimes, the mountain would spontaneously combust.

That’s why there were hoses spooled up every twenty feet or so along the narrow catwalk that flanked either side above it, each of them connected to the 100psi water supply used throughout the powerhouse for both cleaning and extinguishing. Reg was running down the length of the catwalk, his heavy footfalls causing fine clouds of a century’s worth of coal dust to drift down over Ed. With a few dozen feet of hose looped around his shoulder, he barked orders back at Tim.

“Keep feedin’ me slack, don’t lemme get caught up or I’ll end up in with ‘im!” Reg hollered.

* * *

Tim did as he was commanded, although normally he’d never let a database administrator talk to him that way. He was the team lead. He had organized last year’s golf tourney. But he kept his mouth shut tight, just like when he was a boy and his WWII vet grandfather had told him: “Fall in line. Be quiet. There’s a time for talk and a time for action.”

And now, two nights into scab duty, with one of his junior software engineers laying on top of a mountain of smoking coal with probably a broken back or Lord-knows-what, all while some … thing … hunted them?

No, this was not the time for talk. Not at all.

* * *

Ed shook his head and cursed his dead brother. This was Mike’s fault. If Mike were still alive, Ed would … well … do something to him. Mike was always bigger and stronger than Ed.

“Eddie. Dude. The Union only strikes, like, once a decade,” Mike had said. “You’ll make time-and-a-half, every day. Work out your arms, get a nice strong back, get some … well, not exactly ‘fresh’ air. In fact, the coal dust in your lungs might take a few golden years off, but, eh.” He shrugged and snatched a fry from Ed’s plate in the corporate cafeteria.

“Uh … I’m not fat,” Ed had said. He looked down at his wiry frame, with his slight little stomach paunch. “And I don’t exactly need --”

“No, you do need the money. Everyone always needs the money. Hell, just ratchet up your 401k contribution to the max during the strike.” He paused, then pointed at his younger brother with another stolen french fry, adding, “That’s the thing, though, you never know how long it’ll be. Last strike was a fart in the wind, man. It was, uh, two? Three weeks?”

Ed tilted his head a bit and looked up, considering it. “Why the powerhouse, though? Most guys are building tires.”

Mike made a raspberry sound of dismissal. Then he leaned in, conspiratorially, ducking his head down. “The powerhouse is where it’s at. The coal’s delivered at six --”

“AM?”

Mike chuckled and silently tapped the end of his nose. “Right-o, little brother,” that motion had always said.

“-- and by noon, hell, maybe ten, we’re done shoveling it. I mean, you don’t really even ‘shovel it’, shovel it, anyway. You just sort of baby it. Make sure it falls cleanly into the hopper. On wetter days, it sticks a little.”

“I thought you didn’t work last strike.”

“I didn’t, no. It’s just what I heard,” he said. He leaned in again. Lowered his voice again. “I tell you what, too, that’s not all I heard.”

Ed got up fast, crumpled his napkin into a tight little ball and put it on his half-eaten tray of food. “Don’t, Mike. Just don’t.”

When they were kids, nothing entertained Mike like scaring Ed to death. He’d hide outside his window in their country home, late at night, when little Eddie was falling asleep, and growl deep like a monster. He made Eddie watch alien abduction documentaries and made-for-TV horror movies. All Eddie wanted to do was watch Mr. Belvedere, but Mr. Belvedere doesn’t make you wet your bed and get Mom and Dad to yell at you for being a baby -- a baby at nine years old, for Chrissakes.

Mike grabbed Ed’s wrist, hard. His eyes were serious. The familiar “I’m gonna git you, Eddie” smile was missing. “Ed,” he’d said -- not “Eddie” this time -- “it’s real. Reggie? You know, that black D.B.A.? He saw it, man. He saw it last time.”

* * *

The day the strike began was surreal. Leading up to September 27th, the idea of the union powerhouse guys, along with all three hundred union tire-builders at the factory, actually going on strike, seemed far-fetched. Even more so than an unnamed, vague ghost-beast-monster-whatever.

Even after sitting through the half-hour pow-wow with a couple dozen other scabs, even after walking behind the engineering research center, even after the rented box truck showed up full of fold-out cots that looked -- and smelled -- like they hadn’t been used since the sixties, it all seemed like vaporware. A great promise, sure, time-and-a-half twelve hour days, six days a week, with double-time on the occasional sunday (if the work warranted it), that’s one big hoverboard or flying car of a concept.

It finally sank in that it was really going to happen, as the surreal tends to cement into the real, in the dark. When the small crew of programmers and administrators had held the last hand of poker, told the last joke about how they really, really could use some beer, and had settled down on their rented cots in a closed-off maintenance shop. Ed had laid on his back and tried to be tired. Tried not hear the other men shuffling and farting and tossing and turning and snoring. They had to spend the first night in the powerhouse. The standard technique for the strike was that, on the first day of business, the faithful brotherhood would block the entrance to the factory. They’d picket out front and form a human fence. Someone would have to call a judge and get a court order to make them move, but that might not happen until noon. It was all standard operating procedure. And the coal trucks showed up at six -- AM, remember -- so in order to ensure that the rest of the factory had power tomorrow, it was up to Ed, Mike, Reggie, and Tim to make sure the coal burned.

* * *

Ed had done the math over and over again. It had become something of a mantra he’d repeat to himself while showering, or drifting to sleep. Fifty-seven k a year, twenty-six paychecks at two-point-two grand, pre-tax, that’s about twenty-seven bucks an hour. Times that by one-and-a-half and that’s about forty bucks an hour. For twenty extra hours per regular work-week (four extra hours of O.T. per day) then you tack on beautiful, beautiful Saturday, with its glorious twelve full hours of O.T. and baby you get one thousand, two hundred and eighty bucks. Extra. Per week. Not even counting double-time Sundays. Or Holidays -- pray the strike lasts long enough to see Holiday pay, Ed. Double-time-and-a-half.

But now, laying on his back, watching Reg dangle a limp hose a good ten feet overhead (too high to reach even if he could stand up), it just felt more like a few hundred extra bucks.

Somewhere past the narrow entryway into bin #1, somewhere in that labyrinthine tangle of catwalks, pipes, service elevators, hissing pumps, blackened once-yellow handrails, flickering shop lights, rusted tools, it rested or it stalked, its belly full of big brother Mike.

Ed was vaguely aware of a change in attitude from above. Reg was running the other way. Tim had disappeared somewhere. Probably ran off. The edges of Ed’s vision began to darken. He had lost a fair bit amount of blood. Reg was brandishing a spud bar like a jousting lance. The image triggered a deep memory in his brain and Ed immediately thought of an old book he read as a child. It was about a group of friends, set off on an adventure to steal gold from a dragon.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


If only Ikea actually made skull thrones.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


So far I haven't gotten any crits from anyone aside from about four sentences in IRC from BadSeafood. At this point I'll literally blow someone for some feedback on my story.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Oh, I'm sorry! Apologies to Bronheim, I actually did previously read his critique and forgotten about it. Thank you for yours, as well.

edit: "I feel like I've watched the 'making of' special feature for a movie, but only the last ten minutes of the actual movie." That sums it up so, so well. Thanks again.

epoch. fucked around with this message at Jul 16, 2015 around 16:47

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


curlingiron: Please count me in for this week.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Grandma's House
809 words


Fate’s funny. I mean, if you believe in that sort of thing. I didn’t used to. But of all the bases my husband coulda been put, they put him at Fort L.F.B. That’s just ten miles down the road from my grandma’s old farm. The farmstead was still in the family, but it had changed hands a few times between my aunts and their kids. We were never all that close to mom’s side, since her and dad moved away to the east coast before I was even born. They moved because dad was in the service, too. And I ended up with a military man, as fate would have it. When I told my mom the news, she said her sister Kathleen was getting ready to rent out the old house again and maybe I would be interested in just buying it outright. It was cheap as hell, and close. What are the odds?

The other reason we wasn’t that close with mom’s side is that my grandma, was, quote, “kind of kooky” (mom’s words). She used to tell my mom and aunts these crazy stories for bedtime, full of talking animals and palaces. She never read to them, just made up these nutty stories. But the thing was, she insisted -- til the day she died -- that the stories were true.

heard ur moving to gram’s?? my sister had texted me. hope u don’t catch somethin. they dont have loony bins anymore

lol i dont even think mom’s stories are true. prob just made it easier on her to … not see her for so long, yknow? I’d said back.

We … weren’t exactly welcomed by the Gales. They acted like we was snooty. Like we thought we was better than them for living in the east coast while they tended pigs and cows in the midwest. David would spend long, odd hours at the base, and I was left alone at grandma’s house. Even though there’d been renovations and a few of my younger cousins had started a couple families here, they left a lot of her stuff. Maybe out of respect, I guess. Mostly in the basement and the attic. Lots of boxes of old-timey farmhand clothes. I found an adorable dress, checkered blue (there’s another word for that but I can’t remember it) and I imagined my grandma wearing it around the dusty old farm when she was just little, a prim and clean dress of bright blue against a background of dusty gray, brown, gray.

I’d been telling my sister about some of the stuff I was finding … some of it was real weird. All together in this one box was some tin metal scraps, a red bow like you’d put in your hair, and just a bunch of … straw. I figured they must have used to use the straw to suck up moisture back in the day.

u should try and find her diary, my sister suggested. supposed to be just bonkers

lol dont u think i havent been trying?!

I didn’t find the diary until months later, because I had started to get bored of finding boxes with outdated shoes and old halloween costumes. She kept the diary for years, but she didn’t write in it all the time. There was some things about the depression, which was kind of interesting, and lots of, well, the usual, you know? Teenager poo poo. Drama. Pages of little doodles about some dog she had. She must have loved that thing.

But the rest of it was just as my mom had said. It got worse at it went on.

See, the thing is, grandma’s first diary entry is pretty obvious that she’s still a totally normal, sane teenager. Then she had this dream. Or a nightmare, depending on how you look at it, I guess. She wrote out, in pretty good detail, everything that happened in the dream. Wrote about how she killed not one, but two witches. And one of them witches had henchmen that were, like, a cross between a monkey and a bat. And they wore uniforms, like little mutant nazi soldiers.

But then, as time went on, she wrote more and more about the dream. Apparently, she kept having it. For several months, she had that dream every night. I can’t even imagine. Then she’d have variations of the dream, she’d wake up in a cold sweat, because she couldn’t kill the second witch. This second witch was one mean bitch. She set her one friend on fire and let her henchmen tear the other friend apart. She actually ate her little dog in front of her.

No wonder she lost her damned mind. I bet her folks would have taken her to a shrink if they lived in a city instead of godforsaken Kansas.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


In

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


County Fair
1199 words

The man leans on the rusty fence, watching his little girl Lisa ride in a hollowed out pink aluminum dog with a non-functioning steering wheel. The dog travels around and around in a jostling circle. She barely smiles. He frowns, thinking of how little she talks, even at age three. How she looks sitting on their floor, watching television: mouth agape, eyes vacant.

“Oh!” his wife practically shrieks in mock surprise. “Hi Lisa!” It startles him from his worries and he joins in, presents the little girl with an exaggerated happy face. Big clown grin, excited, surprised eyes. The toddler raises a pudgy hand in response. Her expression doesn’t change.

His wife’s arm is skeletal, the skin overtanned and stretched across her bones like jerky. Her tank top clings to her back with sweat. Little beads of it rest on her upper lip, above a bridge of bright crimson. A bundle of department store jewelry rattles like plastic around her shaking wrist. She was thin, even a little too thin for his particular taste, back when they first met online. She was masturbating in front of a webcam in her childhood bedroom at age twenty-whatever. One thing led to another, as they say, and Lisa was born a little less than a year later. Shortly after the birth, she grew more obsessed with her weight. He watches her eat her fifth Jolly Rancher of the day. He hadn’t seen her eat anything else yet.

She says something, hands him the hefty diaper bag. He mumbles “Okay” and wipes sweat from the back of his neck and off onto his stained jeans. Then she’s gone. Bathroom, probably.

God, he wants a beer. Not just any beer, but one with foam running down the side of a frosted pint glass like you only see in commercials. Lisa’s dog circles to him again and he waves again. Fake exuberance again, but weaning now. Licking at his lips, he tastes seawater. A margarita would do, too. He shakes the waxy Pepsi cup. The last of the ice melted and it makes no sound. He drops it on the dusty ground.

A teenager bounds up from behind him somewhere and he turns to watch her plant a large, somewhat sincere “daddy I need more cash” kiss on her father’s cheek. Her father is only maybe five years older than the man. He says something to her in return, and hands her some cash from his wallet. He wipes at his brow with his forearm. He and the man make eye contact and exchange a brief glance. Like looking into the future, the man thinks. Christ, the money bleeding never ends.

He was doing dread-math in his head all day about this month’s spending: A hundred bucks at WalMart for clothes and diapers and whatever else. A hundred and fifty to run the AC all drat day to keep her and the kid cool in this heat. Another twenty-five for natural gas. What were they even using gas for in the summer? Before he met his wife, his utilities were half that. Plenty of money left over for beer, the occasional dime bag. Now he doesn’t have enough for the rent which is due by the end of the week. And the next paycheck from Scalezi Construction doesn’t come for another week after.

He hears the teenager thanking her daddy again. She’s wearing cutoff white denim shorts and a bikini top. Jesus, the man thinks, watching her walk/skip away. Her rear end is like rubber. He averts his eyes, quickly, unsure of whether or not the stranger had followed his gaze.

Some part of his paternal instincts reminds him: Your kid is here and there are crowds and pay attention, please. He turns back around, waves to his little girl who rides the ride and is looking down at her lap.

That vacant stare. He hates it because it reminds him of himself. How many times had the teachers had to practically shout his name to get his attention? How many times was he tapped on the shoulder from a classmate? How many times had a grounder gone right past him in little league?

Someone is on their phone near him but not the usual idle chit-chat. The voice is alarmed, serious. He looks to his left and sees it’s the teenagers father.

“Yes,” he says. “No,” he adds. “Kate … just. Kate, I’m at the fair. I’ll get Kylie and meet you there.” He grows impatient. He sounds worried. “Kate,” he implores, growing frustrated, annoyed, “they just said she fell. I don’t know. The basement, I think.”

That’s a man talking his wife, he thinks to himself, smirking. I wonder who fell? Probably his mother. Maybe she’ll die. Then he’d be stuck with his wife and his kid. I hope his mom is okay.

Then the stranger is off the phone and he’s away into the crowd, grabbing his daughter’s tanned tone upper arm with his large hands and pulling her away from a group of boys. His mouth is loudly saying “Just come on.”

The man’s own mother is in fine health. She goes to the gym twice a week, eats well, even does some yoga. She helps watch the kid a couple days a week. Not so his wife can work, no, because she doesn’t have any actual employable skills and it’s not like he’s going to let the mother of his child get off on camera for creeps on the internet. For better or worse, she is his wife. She’s not a bad woman. She cares about the kid, even takes pretty good care of her. The kid’s okay too. They’ll figure it out. Once the kid’s out of diapers, that’s about forty bucks freed up a month. Couple years after that, she’ll get her lunches provided by the school. Maybe even his wife can get a job at the WalMart or something. The kid will be talking by then at least, the kid …

He looks up at the ride. It is still. A new group of little children are being led or carried into the little dogs by their doting, sweating parents. He looks around himself, his head swiveling from side to side. Not there. He looks up, scanning the crowd, watches the other parents pulling at the bottoms of their t-shirts to fan themselves, holding sweating bottles of water up to their foreheads. Not there. He stands on his tip toes to see nothing. Then he’s on his hands and knees, like he’s looking for a lost contact lens on the ground, but he’s looking between a forest of sunburnt calves rising out of dusty flip-flops. Like trying to see a brown deer in a woodlot of dark winter trees when he goes hunting, but instead he’s looking for a not-quite-blonde and not-quite-brown head of thin hair among caucasian legs. Not there.

He begins to call out for her, actually opens his mouth, but then his wife is there. She’s already made one quick glance to the ride and then to him, and she’s asking him “Where is she? Where’s Lisa?”

“She was on the ride,” he says.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Man pet me firm and make proud.

Woman soft and smother, must escape her grasp!

Big little-human like me. Her room smells too much like flowers. Medium little-human loves me like brother. Small little-human pulls me, hangs on me, tries to ride me.

Flags in yard scary, they hurt me. Want squirrels. Want rabbits. Want chipmunks. But flags and their pain block me!

When sun is gone man and woman let me in their soft box. I smell their feet. They smell wonderful.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


I am interested in participating.

please ban me if my story does not have a motherfucking cocksucking PLOT.

Fake edit: someone plz tell me how u write plots tia

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Trench Walkin'
1076 words

“It’s okay, Danny. Just don’t look down. Look at me,” Beth said. She squatted on the other side of the steep gully, her arms raised to her sides like she was pretending to be an airplane. “Stick out your arms like this! It’ll help keep your balance!” The drop was one foot down for each of Danny’s five years. His battered sneakers sought purchase on the slick bark of the fallen tree which bridged the gap. The tree was young, skinny, frail. Like Danny. The tree could break under pressure.

Beth was six years older than Danny. When he had started public school, she was twelve; a seasoned professional. The first day she showed him where to sit on the bus to get the most air from the windows, which kids to avoid, which teachers would be good ones and which would be mean. She had taught him to write his name and helped him with his homework in later years.

Their parents had divorced when Danny was in third grade. Danny’s father didn’t spend the sort of quality time with him that Beth did, but he would rough-house with Danny, play football in the back yard, and he and Danny would both fall asleep on the couch watching the Reds. Dan Sr. had gone west with a woman he met in a bar after a year-long affair. Their mother had to take up a second job at a pizza shop to make ends meet. Beth would prepare stovetop mac and cheese for them, ramen noodles, even bake the occasional cake. Their mother would come home, flour dust on her from toe to hair, crack open a can of beer and head straight to her room.

They spent their summers playing games that Beth invented. Games like Advanced Pelé, which was just a variation of “Keep It Up” with a light rubber ball except you could only use your knees and head, and “Karate Kick Basketball” which was basically “H.O.R.S.E.” except every time you tried to take a shot your opponent attempted to high-kick you -- this game they didn’t venture into until Danny was a teenager. “Trench Walkin’” wasn’t a game so much as it was a way to fill the afternoon. Trees had an uncanny knack of falling across these ditches to make for the perfect tightrope challenge.

He left the bank of the gully and was over a precipitous drop. He put one trembling foot in front of the other.

“Alright, you got it. Just keep at it. I gotta pee.”

“What?” Danny said, alarmed. “Where are you going?”

“Kid, I’m not gonna go in front of you. I’ll just be right over this hill.”

“Don’t Beth,” he said. His eyes were full of fear. “Just … hold it.” He started to cry. A real baby cry, but he couldn’t help it. The house was half a mile away. They were utterly alone.

She leveled her gaze at him, and spoke calmly and slowly. “You’ll be fine. I’ll be right back.” He watched her ponytail sink behind a crest of fallen leaves on the ridge.

Beth had gone off to college when Danny was twelve. They spoke on the phone almost every night but her absence was palpable. He started to get involved with some of the types of kids she had told him to avoid. By thirteen he was drinking, tagging bridges. At fourteen, one of the girls he had been having semi-regular sex with had missed her period. Although they hadn’t spoken in months, Danny called Beth at college, desperate for advice. She told him to go to Planned Parenthood with the girl, get tested. It ended up a false alarm.

“Beth!”

“What, you okay?” her voice reverberated back to him from over the hill.

“I … Yeah, I’m okay, but I slipped.”

“I’ll be right there,” she said.

She was still fussing with the button on her denim shorts when she returned, panting a little bit. Seeing her again relieved his worry and he straightened up, resumed placing one foot in front of the other.

Beth graduated college and began teaching elementary students at a public school in the city. He moved in with her and later found work at an auto body shop near the railroad tracks. Six months later, their mother died of cancer. They were alone, and although they always had been, in one way or another, now it was official. A decade later Beth was married, had two children. She named the little girl after their mother. Some time later Danny had taken over ownership of the body shop and had expanded it two locations. He married and had a son which he did not name after his father.

When Danny was 42 he was struck by a drunk driver as he walked home from his uptown shop. He was on the phone with a pizza shop, placing an order for his family. Immediately before the swerving van struck his back, he thought of his mother’s flour-dusted pinned-up mess of brown hair. The driver stumbled away down an alley and Danny’s barely-audible groans of pain were enough to alert neighborhood dogs. Soon the street was a chorus of barking dogs, front windows filled with lamplight, red and blue lights flashing in the tree-lined street like some kind of macabre dance party. He lost consciousness in the ambulance but had mustered enough energy to tell the emergency medical technicians beforehand: “Phone,” and then, “Beth.”

The other side of the trench was an arms reach away. In his haste to reach the other side he put his arms down, overconfident. His right foot slipped and he went over, scrambling with his left hand to grab the fallen tree. It missed. His knee connected with a small outcropping of rock and he screamed out in pain but it stopped his freefall. The tree above was a foot out of his reach, and the drop was another three feet down. He looked: there were more rocks there. He squeezed his eyes shut. In his left hand he felt a cold wet rock. The moss on it was soft, slippery. He reached up his other hand to the sky.

He felt her firm grip and he opened his eyes. The bright fluorescent hospital lights were as bright as the sun. The light enveloped her face, angelic.

“It’s okay, kid. I got you,” she said. “I got you.”

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.




"I like the red ones," she said.

Foster struggled to keep his eyes from rolling out of his head. Instead he was silent.

They were standing side by side, in front of the 37th ten foot square of solid color, framed in matte black under a single light bulb, in the long hallway over an abandoned turnpike. They had 23 more minutes to go. Sixty squares of color. One square per minute. This was art hour. Foster and Gladys had the 5:12pm slot. Music hour was at 7:12pm. They were free to sit on the ground between the mandated culture sessions.

She bravely leaned out of her place beside him to see his face. "What? What color do you like? Let me guess: blue?" She returned to his side, smug. They had only been assigned Procreation Partners for a few weeks but she was already beginning to understand him. Such a typical grey haired white male. Blue.

"These ... these squares aren't art." His teeth were clenched.

She gave a little sniff out of her nose. Lowering her voice, then, because conversation is not generally permitted during art hour for fear of a discourse breaking out, she said, "Well it's certainly not music!"

He sighed. Heavily. "Real art," he began, taking a moment to reconsider telling her any of this, "isn't just a goddamn square of color."

She audibly gasped at his profanity. "Mr. Bacchus!"

He could not hold himself back. "Real art combines colors, makes you feel something --"

She began to scream.

"It represents life! It makes life worth living!"

Heavy bootfalls echoed down the hallway.

"This is art! I am art!"

She covered her face with her hands to keep from being covered in too much red.


-- sent from my iPhone lol

epoch. fucked around with this message at Aug 4, 2015 around 00:02

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Thank you so loving much, docbeard, that was a great critique.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


I have to travel to DC for a couple days for work so I can't make any promises but ask your drat dirty robot a question for me anyway.

Edit -- maybe I have reading comprehension problems but what exactly are we supposed to do with the sentence we get? Are we required to use the sentence verbatim? Because that would be cool.

epoch. fucked around with this message at Aug 5, 2015 around 11:46

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


In. Thrill me.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

Team Sloth represent. Chillest team.

~WeLandedOnTheMoon!420Kush

i was gonna empty-quote this. you know, to concur your point. then i realized broham is on our team and i realized we're not the chillest team. more like the team with the most gaybos.

bro, ima let you keep your poo poo prompt (because it is poo poo; as referenced by its own title "poo poo prompt") but i offer you my prompt, anyway. come at me, you dirty redacted. let's go head-to-head on this poo poo.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


I'm just gonna say this once: If your lust story gives me an actual boner, I will give you a line-by-line critique of anything you loving want that you have written*

* up to 5,000 words.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


SLOTH: the moment between being asleep and waking up why can't it last forever

Aspiration
1,180 words

You have arrived at your destination, Marc’s phone announced.

“Really?” he said aloud in his empty car. The Englewood street terminated in an informal dead-end. No posted sign nor intersection, the asphalt merely crumbled away atop the original cobblestone. An anonymous brick building loomed over a decrepit home.

He double-checked the address his friend had texted him, scrolling past his rave reviews of the sort of designer drugs this Gallipot guy was known for. Neither building had an address. Marc considered that the little crack house, although probably not Gallipot’s house, would probably have at least some mushrooms, maybe even a little DMT, which his online research had implied would perhaps do the trick. However, this guy with the obviously fake name sold experimental drugs to the likes of Pfizer, Merck, Libby, et al; he certainly would have set up shop in a building like the big one.

Marc went inside. The first floor was desolate, enormous in its emptiness.

“Hello?” A mouse scurried away from Marc’s echo. He walked up to the elevator shaft in the middle of the room and took the elevator to the only other labeled floor.

There were no windows on this floor but it was awash in clean white light. A neat row of empty pastel plastic chairs lined the hallway to a half-circle desk. The elevator chimed a pleasant tone.

A receptionist looked up from her Macbook. “Mr. Pemberton?”

He nodded.

She gestured to a frosted glass door and Marc opened it a bit, asking, “Uh, Mr. Gallipot?”

“Charles, please,” Gallipot corrected him, not looking up from his computer. Marc stood silent for a moment. Charles finished tapping at his keyboard and instructed Marc to close the door.

Marc was given forty pages of legal disclaimers, drug interactions, and possible side-effects. As Marc pretended to give the documents serious consideration, he also pretended to give Gallipot’s questions their due credence. They were the standard fair, mostly; history of cancer in the family, nicotine, alcohol, and recreational drug use. Then a few non-standard questions.

“Hallucinations?”

“No.”

“Recent death in the family?”

“No.”

“Other recent trauma?”

“No.”

“Mr. Pembleton, you’re positively certain that nothing bad has happened to you in the past few months? Loss of a pet, or relationship?”

“Yep,” Marc lied. “Just … you know,” he shrugged. “Need the money. It’s a paying research gig, right?”

Gallipot smiled, handing over an envelope. Inside were six thin stamp-sized translucent sheets like film stock.

#

Penelope had given up on Marc eleven months ago. They had been together for seven years, having met in highschool.

She received her undergrad in biology in three years. Marc worked at Target and got really, really good at Call of Duty.

She graduated from medical school cum laude a few years later. Marc got a pit bull and named it Boss.

Marc pontificated on the great distinction between laziness and apathy. TestYourIQFree.com proved him to have a 142 IQ. He had six (6!) unfinished novels on his gaming PC. All variations of great to tremendous, they were. He could always go back to school for something in the STEM field. He was great at hacking, he’d bragged.

But there comes a time when the flesh of potential rots away and all that is left is the dry skeleton of inadequacy. Shortly after Penelope had shared a rather lengthy rotation of eighteen-hour shifts at St. Elizabeth’s with Mr. Goddamned Interloper, she’d left Marc.

Marc lay in his unmade bed on his stomach, the pillow trapped tightly under one fleshy bicep. The lingering fizzy, soda and bubble-gum taste of the first sheet of Pomp faded on his tongue. A rectangle of twilight dissolved on the unswept carpet, blacking out chip crumbs and cat hair.

“You sure you want Pomp, not Gog?” Gallipot had asked him earlier that day.

“Pomp is the one for the period of lucid dreaming right before you wake up, right?”

“Pomp enhances and promotes hypnopompia, Mr. Pembleton. First page.” He had gestured to the stack of papers. “Gog is its analog, of course. The period right before you begin to fall asleep.”

“That’s the one. Hippo … pomp.”

Marc rolled over and stared at the blank dark ceiling.

Their breakup was beautiful. She had caressed him, held him. Had cared for him like a stray since he was a boy and she was a girl. Tears cut a shiny river on her impeccable makeup. Her hair dangled above him like the final curtain and she had uttered to him a promise: “You know that place between sleep and awake? That’s where you’ll find me. That’s where I’ll always love you.”

Having said this, she left, carrying the last box of her things and her wonderful clean smell with her.

He would text her from time to time, make routine comments of her trips with Mr. Goddamn Interloper. Rock climbing, skiing. “Looks like fun, Pen!” he wrote on a video she had posted online of the two of them snorkeling off the coast of Cozumel. He had nightmares of her being eaten by sharks, being caught in shipwrecks and drowning. No one ever drowned playing videogames.

She once said to him, shortly before it all fell apart, if he would just get a steady job like an adult, they could be together. She gave him every opportunity she could, she said. She loved him and would always love him, she had said, but she needed to love herself, to allow herself to have a full life. He was a boat anchor.

His eyelids fluttered, and he succumbed to sleep.

#

A great weight was upon him and his clothes stuck to him. He screamed and a flurry of great bubbles rose up from his mouth. An apathetic jellyfish ascended towards the ceiling light fixture. He tried to sit up and his body spun sideways in the buoyancy of the seawater that filled his apartment. His lungs were empty from his scream and he reflexively inhaled a glassful of brine. His eyes were those of a caught fish, flopping on a boat deck; utter confusion and panic and stark terror.

Marc swam to the ceiling of his bedroom only to find the water filled all the way to the plaster, not an inch of air. Something slick brushed his arm and he recoiled. He looked and saw an inky cloud of familiar hair suspended before him. Her.

Penelope, it worked, I’m here, the drugs worked, he thought.

Smiling underwater, he grasped her shoulders and spun her over but her face was slack-jawed and her eyes had been eaten by the fish and her lips were blue coral.

He screamed himself awake. His clothes were still wet but his Pomp-induced sleep paralysis had vanished and he realized it was not seawater but sweat.

“It worked,” he said to his empty apartment, raising his arms in triumph. She had been real, he had found her just where she said she would be. The next dose, hopefully, she would be alive on a sandy beach. In a bikini. And they could be together.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Spin me like a record, baby.

Edit: never mind, I like that one.

epoch. fucked around with this message at Aug 25, 2015 around 15:09

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


You know, there's nothing in the prompt post that prevents me from writing Grimdark Scooby Doo fanfiction.

Just. Sayin.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


sebmojo posted:

? well

e: also, spin me again trex.

I've only read two so far. No luck yet not even a chub.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Hey, thought this might be a good place to share this.

Escape Artists, Inc's 4th flash fiction contest is starting soon.

http://pseudopod.org/2015/07/20/ffc...e-dream-master/

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Wolfe Farm Meats
970 words
Grimdark Amateur Detective

“Now, I ask ye, what sort of vile devil could do such a thing? I’m only left with one sow, and she’s a runt, at that, an’ one heffer with a half dried tit. How’m I s’posed to feed my loyal, lovely patrons such as y’self with drat near all my stock hung, bled from the rafters? Hung like the Lord Himself, they was.

“I apologize, Miss, I don’t mean to interrupt yer meal, and, again, I promise ye, yer steak’ll be out shortly. I’sorry for having such talk, but put y’self in my boots, imagine y’self finding … no, no, I mustn’t. I’ll spare ye the gory bits. They’s far too wicked for words.

“I just feel it my duty to explain the situation to folks. Once you hear what I been through, I pray you’ll understand why I had to raise the price, and I think you’ll find the price to be just right. It hurts my old heart to raise the price on such good Christian folks as y’self. Everythin’ here’s from my farmstead. Always been. Always will. Even churn my butter, unlike that Mr. Pete.”

Upon saying her sole competitor’s name, a one Mr. Pete Rimbald, who owns a small bar and restaurant a bit down the lane, she spits a wad of tan mucus onto the wooden floor.

“I did first figure it to be him. Decimate the competition, force folks like y’self to eat them chewy slabs of ham on a baguette he calls a ... what does he call it? A ‘Crock Monster’?

“Right, ‘swhat I said. Turned out not to be him, anyway. He was at Mass, right where he should’a been. At least I can say that much for the man. Father himself vouched for Mr. Pete, he did.

“That immediately got me ta thinkin, y’know? Do you want more coffee dear? Let me fetch it.”

She walks off to the back, her wide hips rocking the heavy wooden chairs of the small dark restaurant. A heavy grey canopy of clouds blanket the rolling hills of the village without.

“Where was I, love? Ah yes. So who wasn’t at Mass? That’s what I set to figure out. I’d find out who wasn’t there. Let me explain:

“Every mornin’, before the sun’s fully up, I tend to my sweets. Take them their food for the day. Why, yes, Miss, I’m not ashamed to admit I loved my animals. Must sound queer to hear a butcher such as m’self use that word, ‘love’, but it’s the Lord’s truth, it is. Sometimes I even talk to ‘em! I know! Such a silly thing, but, you know, ever since my poor Leopold met his fate ...”

She pauses, two curved reflections of the dingy windows in her eyes as she looks outside, remembering.

“Leopold weren’t the greatest man and I sometimes felt he more fond of the drink than of m’self. Times were tough. But then I suppose times are always tough, dear. Can I tell you a deep, dark secret, love? Every night, I pray to God they find his remains. Any part of him at all. So I can bury it in his plot, have something solid to hold onto. The constables told me they almost always find something, even if he was consumed, taken by beasts. Not my Leo. Like someone wanted him to stay gone.

“Anyway. My livestock, they did, truly, bring me joy. And I used ta check on ‘em every morning, take them their stock, long before I washed myself up for Mass. And Sunday was just the same. And they was all there. Alive, they was, dear. Last I seen em, just as lively and happy as you drat well please! So I asked Father right then and there if he could tell me who else wasn’t at Mass on Sunday but he wouldn’t say. He seemed afraid. Afraid!

“No, no, dear, I didn’t think he was afraid of me, but that got me thinkin’, you know, who might he be afraid of?

“The witch of the woods”, she says, crossing herself quickly.

“How foolish of me to ever have considered it were anyone else. I just try not to think of that wretched creature. I won’t use her Christian name, no, dear. Folks say she fornicates with young unmarried men. That she sleeps out in the woods outside of her little shack out there, except in the winters. That she drinks the blood of animals. Worse things than that, even.

“Before I left the chuch, I knelt and I prayed harder than I think I ever prayed. Harder than when they rounded up the search parties to find my dear Leo, if I can admit such a horrid truth. Then I set right out into the woods, still in my church best, to confront that vile beast of a woman. This was one week, later, to the day.

“‘Fore I even reached her front door, I seen a young man out, choppin’ firewood, and he took off like lightning! I don’t know why, precisely, but I like to think that seein’ me gave him the courage to break free of her wicked spell and that he set right off to seek reconciliation with the Lord.

“I confronted that evil woman. At first, she didn’t wouldn’t admit ta anything, a course. But some stern convincing was all she needed.”

She lays a meat tenderizer on the wooden table. Its handle is stained dark wine like a cask. The head is tarnished but the spikes are sharp teeth.

“Ye want to know another secret, Miss? That, there, is the reason my meats are softer than that sod Pete’s. Ye have to coax the meat. Break it down.

Let me go’n get that steak for ye. I promise ye, it’ll be divine.”

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Thyrork posted:

Feeling Repentant because your entry this week is poo poo? I know I am, and I have just the cure for post-posting blues! Why its mercilessly tearing into your fellows of course!

http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...5#post449103287

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?week=159

Pick your sin group and write a critblurb for every other story within! What, you didn't join in the orgy? What are you, some kind of prude? WELL CONGRATULATIONS ANYWAY, because now you get to pick a group! Rip and tear into your sin of choice!

Its more productive then trying to post edgy FJGJ pictures!


Sloth
(Appropriate because I'm doing this instead of working, LOL!!11)

For each entry, I will say one nice thing (or more) about it, even if I hated it and it was trash.

Sleep, a Song, then Sleep Again
You need to work on syntax. You have dialogue without attribution, sentences without periods, "feel" instead of "fell" that caused me to read the sentence three times. Other poo poo that just doesn't sound or flow nice. Read your stuff out loud; that will help. Between these pretty basic oversights it's clear you either a) didn't care and/or b) didn't proofread (see a). As for the story, there's no real conflict, no real reason to care about these animal characters. I get this sense you couldn't come up with a way to hamfist a sloth into your story, but, since you toxxed, you just wrote a story about animals but it never really spoke to you, so it didn't give you much impetus to care about it.

Nice thing: Some decent prose at the very end, there.

- - - - - - - -

Paper Jam
Oddly enough, I like the idea of a story of a Community-esque roomful of writers trying to pitch ideas for a sketch show. What I would have liked even more would have been a story. Absolutely flummoxed as to how this got an HM. The whole navel-gazing aspect of TD in-jokes and blah blah blah was just, well, lazy. Which, okay, har-har, I get it. Sloth. "That's the point!", you say. It's not a story.

Nice thing: The writing was still quite good, and I found it flowed very well.

- - - - - - - -

Would You Please Step Into the Box
Why doesn't your title have a question mark?! Your story is well-written, has a plot, an interesting setting, and an actual ending. newt said he didn't see what was "sloth" about this, but I'd wager that trading your soul in exchange for lovely parlor magic tricks if the very definition of lazy, so ... ??? Now, I must say, if I were judging, I wouldn't have HM'd this, either, because your prompt was "gently caress it; good enough," and that particular aspect I felt was totally devoid, here.

NIce thing: I already said enough nice things, gently caress you.

- - - - - - - -

Aspiration
OMG THIS STORY WAS AMAZING AND YOUR BALLS SHOULD BE IN A MUSEUM

- - - - - - - -

Saved by the Bear

quote:

But who will come to replace my batteries?

haha, oh man. I literally, physically, cringed reading that line. This story was pretty dumb and uninteresting and your protagonist is a loser that the reader can't be bothered to give a poo poo about. The conflict is, um, buying batteries I guess? Try this: Summarize your story into a sentence. Do you want to read that story? Of course you don't. Write a more engaging story. Oh, almost forgot: Take a look at your first paragraph. Now delete it. Look, your story is wholly unchanged.

Nice thing: Uhhh. You covered Sloth. You covered "Oddly pleasant cuddling", which, I will give you, okay, that is a tough prompt.

- - - - - - - -

The Gentlewoman Caller
Syntax again. Y'all motherfuckers need to proofread. Y'all also need to learn some basic poo poo. Let me show you what I mean, in your case:

quote:

“Don't know why they call me that, only one of the three of them applies.” <-- THIS SHOULD BE A COMMA she growled, standing up slowly.
“Ov- over there. On the desk.”<-- THIS, TOO, SHOULD BE A COMMA the maid squeaked.
“But why here? Lord Taylor is barely worth working for, never mind robbing from!” her <-- THIS WORD SHOULD BE CAPITALIZED. IT'S THE FIRST WORD IN A SENTENCE, RIGHT?tone was so filled with contempt it surprised Cass for a moment.

loving fourth-grade English, here. Also, you overuse exclamation points. A lot. I mean, a LOT! You know what a lot of exclamation points make a story sound like? Like it was written by an eight year old. My daughter uses them a lot. She, still, uses them far less than you. Lastly: This story needs proofreading. "But you already bitched about my grammar, I get it!" you shriek. No, I mean, for pacing and word usage and economy of prose. You waste a lot of time getting to the point and you could cut things. Then other things are confusing and could be revised for clarity.

Proofread. Do it. It's good for you.

Nice thing: A heist is an underused story element, I guess. The prose concerned with the knife to the maid's throat, I felt that was well done. The pacing and word usage, it read very well. I could tell you enjoyed writing that part. You sounded bored in other parts.

- - - - - - - -

missing story by Jitzu the Monk
Your story sucks and you suck and you should die irl.

Nice thing: I was getting really sick of critiquing so thank you for being a loving LOSER FAILURE DORK



In closing, I want to point out that no one stole my flash prompt because THEY FUCKIN SCARED LITTLE BITCHES.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Thanks for the in depth crit Bro!

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


This is a gently caressin cool prompt.

edit: Gaiman's story about Bradbury made me cry. If it doesn't make you cry, please, consider CHOKING TO DEATH ON YOUR SUBWAY(R) SANDWICH, FOR YOU ARE A HEARTLESS PEDERAST.

epoch. fucked around with this message at Sep 1, 2015 around 17:48

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Thanks for the crit, sh. You got my plot completely wrong but that's my fault

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


newtestleper posted:

epoch and jon joe you are disgusting pieces of slime and I hope you don't live to respond to another td crit

I sincerely apologize for having committed the sin of responding to a critique. I only wanted to admit my own failure at clearly conveying the plot.

As penance, I am offering three line-by-line critiques. First come, first served.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


And thank you Thyrork for the sloth crit.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


skwidmonster posted:

This is was pretty lovely. A line-by of my story for Sin Week (Night Swimming, Wrath) would probably make up for it though.

Your wish is my command.

'Night Swimming' by skwidmonster posted:

I’m big. I’ve always been big. Most people who have what I have, they’re sickly and short and their bones are brittle. But I’m the rare exception, because I definitely have it and I’m definitely the complete opposite.

And I say rare in the sense that they tell me I’m the only case in existence.

And in history.
This was a good opening and it wrapped me in pretty well. The rhythm of the voice was natural. However, after finishing the story, I thought back to the opening, wondering what importance it had. I guess it's because the father isn't physically capable of lifting the man. It's clear enough, I guess, but I think you could have driven this point home while simultaneously adding some conflict by making the boy resist his father's demands, and his father telling him that he couldn't do it alone. That sort of thing.

Gee Willikers, right?This particular line doesn't fit the overall tone.

It was rough on my dad, growing up. He carries the gene for what’s called Lekman’s Syndrome. He has these spindly fingers and arms and a compressed spine. I was taller than him at age nine and I could out-lift him at around five. He was never a big man, but he hid his smallness.

“C’mon, Brick,” he said one night, eying me sideways, “let’s drive for a while. Hop in the bed.”

I was about fourteen at the time. When I wasn’t able to fit in the Jeep anymore, my dad sold it and bought this little pickup and had a buddy work on the suspension. I found an abandoned car seat in an alley one day and he strapped it down to the bed. It was actually comfortable. I always imagined I was being drawn by horses in my own private carriage or something.
Okay, this is a little confusing. He's too big of a teenager to fit into a Jeep? He's that large? Jeeps aren't tiny. Also I can't quite suss out how you strap down a car bucket seat to a pickup bed. Consider bolts, instead.

There were four bags of concrete sitting around my seat.

“What’s this for?”

My dad lit a cigarette, the flame reflecting off the bill of his cap and making his face glow red. Nice image. Sort of ... 'hellishly ominous', hopefully that was the intent.

“Just a little project.”

I climbed over the dusty paper bags. I had to cross my legs to sit because one stack was right against my seat.

It didn’t take long for me to figure the route. We were making for Charlie Hosselman’s. That worried me. As did the way the truck drifted to the left and jerked softly back to the lane every few minutes.

“Where we headed, Dad?” I called through the open window. He turned on the radio. Tom Petty drowned me out. Break Down. He nodded his head along and mumbled the chorus on a monotone.Reminds me of riding shotgun in my own dad's pickup listening to classic rock. Thanks for that.

Charlie Hossleman ran a Chrysler dealership over in Peoria. All I really knew about him then was that he’d gone to high school with my dad and then married my aunt. Apparently he’d known my mom, too. Not that I’d ever ask about my mom.

Anyway, Mr. Hossleman had a— I guess you’d call it an estate— down south of town, overlooking the river. It was modest enough, probably, but enormous and luxuriant by our standards. He even had a pond and a little waterfall running into it.

I caught a glimpse of silver out of the corner of my eye and turned just in time to see my dad’s head tilt back down. We were on the dirt roads now, and dust kept stinging my nostrils. We moseyed up to a lone stop sign and my dad killed the engine.

He adjusted the rearview to look at me through the open window.

He took a shaky breath and stared out the window to his left for a minute. Then he swiveled strange word choice, here his red eyes back to the mirror.

“When that rat sonofabitch stuck it to my sister twenty years ago, I swore to sweet baby Jesus himself that I would end him if she ended up hurting. And I told him that. He knew it. Then she got— and he took her to that clinic—“ He looked down.
This was just a bit too expository for my liking. Lead the reader on a bit more instead of showing all your cards like this.

“Point is, he deserves a good whipping. Yeah, we get it, you already said that. And I can’t give it too him. And I couldn’t ask you to give it to him. So this is about the next worst thing and it doesn’t come close.” I could see his hand on the wheel in the dashboard light, his too-thin fingers hanging from the wheel by the tips.This isn't a bad image but it's also totally pointless. Could do without it.

“Your aunt is hurting, Ricky. You’re too young for me to tell you how, but he’s been hurting her bad the past couple of years. And we can’t hurt him back, but we can make him suffer.”Again, you sort of already said all this, y'know?

He started up the car again, and we didn’t talk any more even as he pulled up to the gate.


* * * *

He stumbled back after an hour and a half of me waiting in the truck. The bottle of scotch he had taken with him was missing.

“Showtime, Brick.”

“What are we doing?”

He scoffed and shook his head, like I was the drunk one.

“Grab the concrete and let’s move. I got the stick.”

I pulled a couple of bags of concrete onto my shoulders and followed him up the red stone walkway.

It was Quikset, and the pond was only about half full. I guess my dad had turned off the hose on his way inside. Swimming in a sort of frantic way were three gorgeous koi fish, one calico, one orange, and one black. They still had plenty water, but they could sense something was different.

My dad took the knife on his pocket tool and slit open the top of the first bag.

“Wait, dad, the fish are— What are you doing?'

“Get the stick.”

I stood looking at him for a second.

“Brick, Goddammit.” You actually aren't supposed to capitalize the G, here.

I got the stick and started stirring.

He emptied all four bags into the koi pond. Every so often the surface would break and I’d see the gasping maw of one of the desperately beautiful fish Really good line. I’d look over at the defunct waterfall and pretend I couldn’t feel their bodies banging on the stick.Also a good detail

After about the second bag they stopped coming up.

When Dad was happy with the consistency, I followed him inside and up into Mr. Hassleman’s bedroom. Hassleman was a flabby man, wide shoulders like a linebacker, his thin hair sticking up from his widow’s peak. He was still in his clothes. His chest rose with each long, nasally walrus breath.

My dad motioned for me to pick him up. I stared and shook my head, not quite understanding or believing. He motioned again, and I did it.

He led me impatiently down the stairs and to the edge of the pond.

“Dad, I—“

“Put that pigfucker in.”

“I can’t kill anyone, Dad—“

“From the waist down. We’ll leave one hand free so he can call someone once the roofies wear off.”

Dad set a phone down, maybe a foot out of his reach.

“Roofies like the date-surprise sex drug?”

His eyebrows shot up, then he laughed. “poo poo, you sure are growing up.”
This was a pretty good way of developing character between the two of em.

I looked into the grey sludge, thinking about the suffocated fish.
So, here's another clarity thing. He and his father are inside the man's bedroom now, right? Then what "grey sludge" are they looking into? Into the pond below? And since this is an estate, the pond is down a couple floors, maybe across half an acre of landscaping or so, right?

“He’s so proud of those loving things,” my dad mused, reading my thoughts. “Paid thousands for them and keeps them in this temperature-controlled tank. He feeds them silk worms or some horseshit. Treats them like children. Then he goes and makes my sister get a coat hanger and get her insides all mushed up so she can’t— telling me they miscarried, and— and when I think of that healthy baby that could have been—“
Ehhh...this is also a bit too expository, like, "I can see the wires that the writer is holding up on this characters marrionette frame". Also, clarity again: Are the fish kept in the koi pond or are they kept in a temperature-controlled tank? Fish don't take well to well to being moved all the time. I guess you meant "raises them in this temperature-controlled tank"?

He stops.

He’s thinking about me. And he’s thinking about Mom. And how my enormous head and shoulders were too much for her. And how it was his decision to keep me.
Psychic distance of the narrator. How does your fourteen year old protag narrator know what his father is thinking of? This is important. Once again, I can see the wires.

“Put him in.”

I did, pretending neither of us were crying.

This was a good story and the writing was mechanically very competent. There were some nice images and turns of phrase. I'd love to talk with you about this further if any of my thoughts are unclear.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Camp Holloway
1,225 words

Every man in my family’s been in the service, going as far back as anyone knows. My father was in the great war. I’ve been told we fought for the US before it was even a country. Just a glimmer in a slaveowner’s eye. It must be in our blood.

One night when I was about fourteen I came home long after supper and my father was up waiting for me. Cigarette smoke and cognac hung in the air. He was sitting in perfect dark and each long draw he took made orange light blossom on his face. He asked me if I’d heard of the Tuskegee Airmen. I didn’t even know what to say. He’d been telling me he was one of them my whole life. Why was he asking such an obvious question? He explained to me that night that he wasn’t a member of the Airmen, but of the Experiment.

Folks didn’t know to expect a war after the Maddox got hit. But my dad and I could see it coming. You get an ear for the distinct timber of sabre-rattling, you get an eye to read between the lines of foreign policy talk. My father’s late-night stories about the syphilis experiments and his father’s death in WWI had been a warning, his own personal and private analog of Owen’s "Dulce et Decorum est", and I had no intention of serving in the military thereafter. But the Gulf of Tonkin was the ruination of my dental practice plans. I suppose it ruined a lot of folks’ plans. After Tonkin, we knew the draft was imminent -- so, instead, I volunteered.

My degree allowed me to avoid infantry; most of the boys drafted went straight to the front line. Low ranking glorified meatshields. But I was a 22 year old man and I had a medical degree. In dentistry, yes, but beggars can’t be choosers. After basic I went straight to Nha Trang AB.

For most of the autumn of 64 it was exactly as I’d hoped -- mostly dealing with non-combat related ailments, I even got to fix the occasional busted filling. I didn’t know one damned thing about Vietnam before I went, hardly any of us did. But I got myself hooked pretty good on ca fe sua da, pho, and these little grilled chickens they had. It was, if I’m being honest, like a vacation with free on-the-job training in dentistry.

But by January of 65 the dead and dying started coming in waves. Turns out, pulling out bullets isn’t altogether different from extracting teeth. There’s just a lot more blood. I developed something of a skill of it and they decided that me and Chisolm, this kid from some cornfield, were better suited for hotter spots. I was sent to Camp Holloway, one of two bases in Pleiku, this village in rice country way north of Saigon. I had tried my damndest to avoid precisely that type of poo poo, but there I was, creeping through the jungle under the cover of night. Every step I took into the soggy ground I half-expected to be met with firm resistance, to hear the tell-tale click of a landmine under my boot. I would have done anything to go home. The vacation was over.

Chisolm had whatever sort of guts I lacked. He intended to play college football, said he was one hell of a offensive lineman. I could see that. I think the brass saw to it that he would be my own personal grunt. Like a bodyguard. He was just the sort of proper redneck to relish infantry enough to fake his age. I swear that boy wasn’t a day over sixteen, but he was a brick house, and he had my back. Called me friend of the family to my face, but had my back nonetheless. I don’t think he knew much better, anyway. The night the VC attacked Camp Holloway, Chis had rolled out of his bunk so fast -- I was barely awake and he was in full dress, hunkered behind the door, M16 sighted up. It was just shy of 0200, but right then I had no idea the time or place or sight or sound. Infantry grunts had previously told me they experienced a heightened awareness when in a particularly nasty situation. I just felt overwhelmed. There was but one thing on my mind: Run. Get away.

I was lacing my boots and somehow buttoning my shirt all at once and Chis saw what I was doing. He didn’t say a word, just held up one free hand that said one thing: Sit tight. Outside our bunks was all-out chaos. It sounded to me that we’d been dropped straight into a hot pot full of popping corn. The distinct rattly discharge of AKs was predominant. We didn’t return much fire. They’d caught us completely offguard. Out the window, while I ducked behind my bed, I saw a mass of fire reflected in the glass dome windshield of one of the Iroquois. The glass cracked in a spider-webbing pattern, spreading, then the whole chopper burst. I ducked my head down to avoid any shrapnel, but the chopper was half a ball field away.

At some point, Chis barged out into the gunfire and let ‘em have it. Over time, the gunfire and explosions of sabotaged aircraft died down. The rest of us in the bunk waited it out like a retreating storm.

After about an hour our CO came in and told us what had happened: VC had cut through the perimeter fences. They’d tripped the electrical guard wire but that went unnoticed by whoever was on watch. Then they just opened up, firing their AK-47s, blowing up ten choppers, damaging dozens others. They’d slunk back off into the dark jungle the moment we had started to get our bearings and stand up for ourselves. Throughout the next few early hours of morning, I learned more details: almost two hundred wounded, five dead, two dying. One of the wounded was Chisolm. A round had shattered his tibia. I doubt he ever got to play college ball.

One of the five was a nurse, so I had dozens of wounded boys on my shoulders, many in critical condition. One died with my hand in his abdomen. I was stupidly trying to use my hands as a tourniquet on his mesenteric artery; it was like throttling an eel. His eyes were big, fearful, and angry. He was looking past me at an empty space in front of one of the choppers that continued to glow like hot coals. He choked his last words to Death himself, through thick blood and bile: “gently caress you.”

#

MEDEVACs started taking away the wounded, a few at a time. Then they began to evacuate the whole base. Every couple days would be another briefing from central, detailing the names of the people that were going home. Without fail, the same clause would be on the sheet: Non-essential personnel only. I laid awake at night, trying to come up with schemes to get out; self-mutilation, sabotage of critical care systems. But Chisolm’s stoicism in the face of his own injuries and loss inspired me. We still had dozens wounded, like him, and they needed constant care. I was essential personnel. I didn’t need the goddamn army but they needed me.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Thanks for crit djeser.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Somebody already stole my lame Beck joke, (and they did a better job of it), and I wanted to take the week off, and I'm busy traveling so WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.



haha, gently caress. uh ... conflict of interest! judge interference! something!

I shall do my best.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Hey thanks for your input, GlyphGryph.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.



Thank you for keeping me honest. Since I dragged my feet so terribly on this, I'm critiquing each Lust story.

Sins & Stones by Morning Bell
This was a nice story with a pretty interesting setting, but I can't shake two things about it that I don't like: 1) It's boring. Not in a sense of action, but the writing. It's not bad, it's not detached. I'd say it's even pretty accurate for the genre. Problem is, I hate that genre. So. That might just be on me. 2) I feel like you're covering far, far too much ground for flash fiction. The way in which the affair lead to this entire bloody uprising, etc, it's just sort of very Emily Bronte, you know? So, on the one hand, if that was your target: Congratulations! You hit it. I just don't like it. Oh on more thing: I like your word usage. You have a deep vocabulary (or a fine thesaurus).

Erection Factor: Zero. Maybe if I was into guys, but I doubt it.

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Her Caged Song by dmboogie
I don't know, man, this is just ... pussy-footed. You know? It's something that's been bothering me an awful lot lately because, well, you just don't have that many words to really play with. So when you beat around the bush it's just annoying. Out with it already.

you posted:

The keep’s holding chambers had never much been to Asha’s liking; too sterile and brightly lit. So?The juxtaposition of what she thought a prison ought to be (damp, dark and grimy)unnecessary and the reality always unsettled her whenever she kept watch there. So? Also: Why? Guard duty was tiring enough as it was, but she supposed that it wouldn’t do for any precious merchandise what does this mean to come down with a venereal disease before delivery. Delivery of what? What the gently caress are you on about?

Do you see what I mean? If the words themselves were just, more ... I don't know, more interesting then I'd be intrigued enough by your loving coyness to read on. But instead my brain is like "PLEASE GIVE ME A DISTRACTION OH LOOK A FLY OH LOOK I SMELL COFFEE I SHOULD GET SOME OH LOOK I HEAR JURASSIC PARK FROM THE OTHER ROOM AND I SHOULD WATCH THAT WITH MY SON INSTEAD THIS STORY IS BOOOORING". Sorry, my brain is an rear end in a top hat.

Erection Factor: Zero. Where was the lust? Despite my very cursory critique, I did, in fact, read the whole thing, but didn't detect one hit of sexy musk.

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The Opening of Rodeo Hercules by Benny Profane
This story was loving ridiculous. Too ridiculous. Was there a point other than to say "Heh, robots. Heh, jizz. Heh, who cares."?

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Loomer by spectres of autism
I read this story probably three times. I think, if I remember correctly, because it was the first Lust story, and I truly did intend on reading them all at some point or another. This story was, okay. It was also rather pointless. The entire angle of the narrator addressing the reader in this wrap-around story of the reader trying to pick up the narrator at a bar, or whatever? That part didn't matter. At all. It didn't assist the story, merely added a level of confusion because you barely mentioned it in the beginning, and then return to it at the end, and by then I've been thinking about spiders and webs and then when I get there, to the end, I'm just all, "Huh? Oh. Right, yeah. Whatever."

Also I have to ask you this: Did you recently read Karen Russel's Reeling for the Empire? Because this story is awfully similar. Just curious. If you haven't, you should! It's very good.

Erection Factor: One (there are out of ten). Only because I felt the writing was pretty good.

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Aptera by Hopper UK
This story should have gotten an HM, in my opinion. I liked it quite a bit. I've always been a fan of the sirens story. Nothing really too much say here, Hopper. I wish there was more, and I wish it was just a tad more "direct" (see my pussy-footing comments on a dmboogie's story.

Erection Factor: Two. Sirens are hawt.

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Rainmaker by docbeard
This was ... confusing. They're in what's left of the Post Office, but then they're ostensibly outdoors and camping and eating beans heated over the fire but then they're instantly in a truck and the truck swerves and it's going to crash but no it doesn't. There's some stuff about dreaming, later, but really by the time the reader makes it there his head is swimming with odd breaks in logic and time and it just doesn't make any sense at all. I wouldn't mind an explanation at all. I wanted to like it, I think there's something there, but damned if I can figure it out.

Erection Factor: Confused.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Meat Loaf
1,011 words

Originally: Energy by sebmojo

This guy, he’s fresh off the boat. From where, I cannot say. Some remote island. One of those tiny nation-states you’ve never heard of that are represented by just two or three people during the Olympic Parade of Nations and you say to yourself, “I’ve never even heard of Tabouli. Isn’t that a chip dip?” Except that’s not right, either. His island is so remote that they wouldn’t compete in the Olympics at all. There’s probably a scant peppering of barely-human savages there, not a country so much as a casual gathering on a chunk of dirt in the dark blue sea. He reminds me so much of Queequeg that I call him that behind his back. I consider calling him that to his face; the odds that he’s read Melville’s masterpiece are quite slim.

His first day in the office, I can’t help but notice how poorly his button-up shirt fits him. “Big & Tall” stores aren’t made for guys like him, they’re made for flabby bikers and truckers. It’s tight like Saran Wrap over his back, the upper buttons of the front pulling apart like he’s got breasts beneath. There’s not an ounce of fat on him, I swear you can see the muscular definition beneath the lavender cotton/poly blend. The color, though, oddly sets off his dark olive skin and bright indigenous tattoos.

He’s been looking at me since a little before noon. No, I shouldn’t say “looking”. More like “leering”. It’s made me quite uncomfortable and I hope that soon HR will call him away to sign more papers or watch another sexual harassment video.

“Dirk,” he says to me. “Do you want … lunch?” He says the last word like he’s unsure of whether or not it’s the right word. I look at the clock. It’s well past 2 PM and I realize only just then that I didn’t even take a lunch break. I start to speak but my heart is in my throat. I try to think of some excuse, quickly, and tell him I have an energy bar. I should have lied and said I had plans with my wife. poo poo.

He thinks I’m lying, probably because his island instincts pick up on my fear. Or he can smell it, like a wolf. So I show it to him. One of many that I keep from a box of forty in my desk.

“Mr Dirk! That is not food! That is why Mr Dirk small like woman. Man need real food. Meat, Mr Dirk. We require meat!”

The next thing I know he is out of his seat and practically carrying me through the doors and into the summer heat. The brick-lined alleyway is a pizza oven. I can feel the summer sun cooking my skin. I wonder where he’s taking me.

“Do … do you have a place in mind? What sort of food do you like?”

“Mr Dirk show me,” he says.

“Mr, uh, Phburhuth, is it? Sorry, I struggle with the pronunciation. I don’t usually eat out. I don’t know what’s down this way. If I go out for lunch I go across the river. There are more restaurants over there. Please, Mr Purrbooth, where are we going? Tell me.”

“Behind blue box,” he says to me, and he juts out his chin as if to point to the dumpster at the end of the alley.

“That … that is not an eating place.”

“It is. Mr Dirk is food.”

I try to stop our quickening pace towards my fly-covered demise. My oxfords scuff on the worn asphalt.

“What do you mean?” I ask, and I don’t know why I ask, because it’s obvious.

“I hunger. I have not yet eaten this week. Man is best food.”

I crane my neck to look up at his black silhouette in front of the sun which is set high in the sky above us like an oven light.

“Whatever do you mean?!”

He stops. We stop. He grasps both of my shoulders and wheels me around to face him. His head tilts slightly to the side like a hound. He bends down to look me in the eyes and his brown cueball of a head eclipses the sun. He bears his teeth, half smiling, half menacing.

“I smash your head with brick and eat you,” he says. His eyes are alight with desire. I see a fine line of drool forming at the corner of his mouth. It’s all too clear he is serious. I panic, I try to think of something to say, some way out of this.

“I would distinctly prefer, Mr Furrbutt, that you do not eat me?” I don’t intend for it to come out as a question but my voice cracks and squeaks.

He can’t figure me out. He’s frozen for a moment. Miraculously, it seems I’ve stumbled upon some sort of salvation strategy.

“Why is not?”

“Because. Because … you can eat animals instead?”

He straightens up, grabs me again, the dumpster grows larger. A trash bag leaks a black liquid onto the street and it sizzles there. “No,” he says as he drags me along. “Only man.”

“Wait!” I shout. “You can’t do this. It is against the law.”

“What law?”

“Mr Pitherbuff, your employment. You are a junior paralegal at Fisk and Fisk. I am Dirk Fisk. I am your boss, firstly. Secondly, our business is the law. You cannot eat your boss. You cannot break the law.”

We stop again. His massive shoulders slump. “I don’t get money?”

“Worse. You go to prison. Jail. There … there is no sunlight in jail. No good food. You … you would wither away in jail. You would look like me.”

He gives my words serious consideration, and it seems he has given up. He says, “Mr Dirk, I hunger still.”

“I have plenty more energy bars back at the office, Mr --”

“Olaf,” he says. His eyes are a deep ocean of melancholy, like a man upon waking, whose dreams are no more. “Call me Olaf.”

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epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


sebmojo posted:

Meat Loaf by epoch
[...] you could cut the first para. Always cut the first para, then put it back if it's not better (you won't put it back)

This is cool advice. Thanks for the crit, sebmojo.

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