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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Over 400 authors. Over 3000 stories. Over 3 million words.

Thunderdome 2012
Thunderdome 2013
Thunderdome 2014


hi what’s this stupid megathread i keep seeing every year?

Thunderdome is more than just a weekly flash fiction contest. However, we can’t tell you how much more, or in what way, because we’re all terrible writers because gently caress you, gently caress you, and especially gently caress you (the one in the back, almost didn't see you there) .

right that sounds good, how do i participate?

Step 1: Read the prompt post.
Step 2: Read the prompt post again.
Step 3: Make a signup post by the signup deadline in the prompt post.
Step 4: Write a story that fits the prompt and follows the specified guidelines (e.g., whatever the judge told you to do, you gently caress).
Step 5: Post your story by the submission deadline.

Bonus step: Watch the judges writhe in agony as they read your terrible goon wordsnot.

All story posts are final. No edits, no take-backsies. Once you’ve submitted, your rear end is riding the train full speed to Fistville. The judges MIGHT use lube, assuming you don’t try to sneak back in and edit your entry.

The winner of each week becomes the boss judge and chooses the next week’s prompt. They will also select two co-judges. Easy as two birds in the bush when in Rome. You’ll still find a way to gently caress it up, but that’s fine.

The judges will be there to shout at you, every step of the way.

The loser gets a free avatar!

Participants in the thread may also be challenged to participate in brawls, which are covered in detail in the second post.

im feeling kinda judgy

Ius Iudicis: Judge’s right, judge’s responsibility, judge’s law.

:siren:New judges: Read this.:siren:

Judging involves a lot of reading, writing, and being shouted at by impatient goons. Judges should be people who’ve participated in at least a few rounds of Thunderdome. Judges should NOT be people who literally disappear into the jungle when it’s their time to make the call. Judges should be prepared to offer some sort of critique for the week they judge.

Why would I even want to win, you’re asking yourself. Well. As the boss judge, you get to pretty much make the rules for a week. You are basically the Judge Dredd of one tiny bit of internet for 5-7 days of your life, which, for most of you, will be the single most impressive achievement you manage in your piddling, nugatory existences.

And finally,


Three shalt be the number of judges, and the number of judges shall be three.
Four shalt not judge, nor either shall those judging number two, excepting that thou then include a third.
Five is right out.

Please see the post below this one for information on judging brawls.

what if I want to really annoy the judges/everyone in the thread??

Good question! There are lots of ways to be annoying.

*Posting your story in quote tags. You evil heartless bastards love doing this for some unfathomable reason. It makes it harder for our nice friendly archivists to save your word diarrhea forever and ever.

*Prefacing your story with a big dumb apology or explanation. Your submission should contain a title, a word count, and a story. gently caress you.

*If you never have time to write critiques, consider NOT volunteering to judge. Critique is what keeps this perpetual poo poo train rolling.

*Derailing the thread by responding directly to critique. You can go to Fiction Advice and Discussion or The Fiction Farm to request additional critique or to discuss critique you receive in the Thunderdome thread.

*Unfunny shitposting. Funny shitposting is welcome, but are you so sure you’ve got what it takes?

*Fanfiction, unless otherwise specified, is still a reason to have your face slapped into ugly little pieces. WE ARE HUGE NERDS AND WE WILL KNOW FANFIC.

*Failure to submit means you are terrible. if you enter then fail to submit a story you should :toxx: yourself on your next entry to stop your terribleness growing until it encircles the earth.

*If you goony fucks want to write your “Dear Penthouse” letters in your private time that’s fine, but so help me if your erotica makes its way into this thread I will find you and personally subject you to torments which will destroy all traces of your libido.

*Don’t be a big crybaby. Understand Kayfabe. Thunderdome is what it is because we can all come out, guns blazing, and lay down our best forums disses. Kayfabe means no one has to pull any punches in their critiques. That said, there’s a difference between showmanship and being an utter dick. Don’t be a dick, but actually since you’re going to gently caress it up and be a dick anyway: gently caress you in advance, you poo poo-brained neckbearded little Shaitans.

If you have anymore questions, consider popping into #Thunderdome on synIRC instead of blithering on in the thread.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 21:36 on Jan 4, 2016


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Screaming Idiot posted:

Happy new year, everyone! May your stories have words in them!

happy newyear every one

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

sebmojo posted:

your mum is a newyear (butt mum)

this is america we don't have mums here sorry

except your mum, she comes over a lot

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

sebmojo posted:

it's because you have a lot of pies (she's pretty fat, it's glandular)

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
tbh i know mojo is pulling his punches with the thread sass

if he gets too cheeky he know's he'd have to back it up with his feeble fiction words

ha ha

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Entenzahn posted:

sebmojammin' here brawl
An unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

Also, pick one:
The cosmic ballet

Deadline: Wed, Jan 7th, noon GMT (<- Europe)
Wordcount: 501

are you just going to stand there or are you going to toxx yourselves

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you, I :toxx: myself

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Screaming Idiot posted:

Ay. Ayyyyy. I'mma cutchu. I'mma cutchu good, mang. Chu don't know.

chu don't fukkin know

*puts my arm companionably around your shoulder*

ME: what in tar-loving-nation do you think your doing

U: uh just making a kayfabe ma'am

ME: *looks at ur kayfabe, it is a sad snowman melting in the sun* :eyepop:

U: :downs:

ME: tell u what son. I want you to give me 200 of the poo poo-talkinest, smack-downiest words you ever mustered out of your sorry thought hole. I want you to diss me bro. Or mojo. Or whoever. just make it tough and mean and pull no punches. THAT'S AN ORDER.

U: r u being srious

ME: *pulls down sunglasses* im always serious. YOU HAVE 48 HOURS.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Screaming Idiot posted:

Nothing to lose but weakness.

Prompt: I GROW A loving SPINE

Words: 200

I'm Screaming Idiot. I chose this username myself, because if people are going to insult me, I'm going to loving own it. Am I clever, talented, or even particularly intelligent? I wish I was, but I'm not. But I got one thing none of you -- not a goddamn one of you -- have: desperation.

Weird thing to be proud of, isn't it? gently caress you. Desperation is my drive to improve, to churn out words worth reading. For you, writing's a hobby. For me, writing's all I have -- all I need.

I see people bitch and moan about inspiration. They can swallow a bag of dicks, inspiration isn't something that just happens; you have to make it happen. You have to grab it by the throat, hold it against the wall, stare it in the eye, force it to bend to your will. Don't be inspiration's bitch. MAKE INSPIRATION YOUR BITCH.

Life sucks. People suck. Our goals as writers is to use that to our advantage, to tell pretty lies and ugly truths all at once. gently caress your petty vendettas -- I want to get good.

oh my child.

you unfathomably pedestrian scrub. you think you're desperate? you ever been staring down the barrel of a sunday night while naked and spattered with liquor and TV dinner slop, no ideas in your head except a burgeoning sense that you derive all personal meaning from a loving internet thread, and yet you've somehow hosed that up too? Do you debase yourself with drugs and sordid acquaintances just so you can suck pitifully at some fragment of ragged emotion from that spent cigarette butt you call your soul?

Look at you. Bright-eyed, bushy-tailed. You're a soft-handed, smooth-skinned baby in this game of abject desperation to be heard. Your words are the tinkling of a toast at a party that no one attended. You are the mole busy in his hole while loving civilization burgeons and withers above you with protracted, agonized screams. You know nothing of the depravity of true desperation.

Welcome to loving thunderdome, now go get some blood on your sneakers.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Your Sledgehammer posted:

In Which I Do What Screaming Idiot Should Have Done
238 words

Mojo and SH are the worst threadparents ever. They gave babby a gun and like any curious toddler, babby turned it on himself. Props to Screaming Idiot for living up to his username and fulfilling the Dome’s “thread newbie does something loving stupid before the first entry deadline even passes” clause.

It is five o’ clock on New Year’s Eve. Sitting Here is just putting the finishing touches on her most enduring contribution to every Dome thread: the OP. Cackling with glee, she imagines the year’s worth of tyranny and subjugation she will put the Dome’s residents through (RIP Cache Cab). Days from now, she will peer into her folder full of pretty stories without endings, pick one at random, and hit submit. At least your OP had an ending, SH, so good job I guess.

Meanwhile, in Australia, New Zealand, or some other island full of rejects, scumbags, felons, and sheep fuckers, Mojo is preparing to become the very first cyborg. His doctor finally grew tired of his increasingly hysterical demands for a cybernetic penis pump, so now his little weenie will be permanently fixed and he’ll no longer have to rely on crushing skulls in the Dome for a sense of manliness and validation.

Also, I went over on the word count. If you have a problem with it, go gently caress yourself with a rusty trombone.

getting warmer but you couldn't cook a hot dog over these burns right now

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Screaming Idiot posted:

You're All Worthless Cunts.

Prompt: gently caress you.

Words: 199

I tried to be reasonable, but 'reasonable' doesn't register to you smegma-chugging Neanderthals. Fine.

You're jerking off to whatever no-name magazine nobody gives a gently caress about, others are improving themselves of love for the craft. You miserable jackasses spew bullshit between bouts of pretentious cocksucking, I hone my talent into something of worth. When I sit at home in my tub, half-finished bottle of wine in one hand, razor knife in the other, the only thought that keeps me from finishing one and using the other is the possibility I might get good.

You guys ever go through that? gently caress no, most of you assholes sit in warm houses, food in your fridge, hope for tomorrow. You can afford to wring your hands about rivalries and brawls -- petty poo poo.

gently caress you, I'm above that. There's nothing you worthless cunts can say to me I haven't said a million times in my head, no threats worse than those I've made to myself daily, no punishments worse than what I inflict upon myself every hour.

My life is loving miserable, and I exist purely out of spite. Bring on the blood.

Hrm this is all a bit better even if it's still self depreca


not rly ilu guys :3:


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Touch and Go and Touch Again

Nasatya and Dasra first met in the eternal gardens on Brahma's chest, where the trees and flowers gently rise and fall with the eldest god’s deep, slumbering breaths.

They met again on Earth, as Woman-Like-Deer-Path and Tusk-Cutter-Man in the last glacial period. Their lives moved at the beautifully brutal pace of the paleolithic, sweating together on the hunt and between the bed furs.

They met again as Hephaistion and Alexander of Macedonia.

They met again in December of 1914, as Niles York--British infantry--and Anselm Krause--a German Sergeant--during a football game in no man’s land. When the call was given to go back to the trenches, York slipped a pack of cigarettes into Krause’s jacket pocket. Neither saw each other again that time; neither survived 1916.


“In 1967, Nasatya was called Susie Sometimes. She was twenty-two years old and lived deep in the heart of Zeitgeist, America, working at a nicotine-stained watering hole. Dasra, known then as Jack Dallas, would stumble in every night with his malcontent and electrified posse of post-beat, post-Kennedy poets, and they would thump their chests and exhale stanzas like smoke. Once, Jack leapt up onto a tabletop and started reading an excerpt from Story of the Eye, stomping over table after table, spilling drinks until his worn leather boots were slick with beer and liquor.

“...The horror and despair at so much bloody flesh, nauseating in part, and in part very beautiful, was fairly equivalent to our usual impression upon seeing one another,” Jack read in a voice like narrow thunder. As he finished and sank silently into his chair, the bar erupted with hoots and hollers and stomps. Susie Sometimes clapped fast and fervent. Jack noticed. When Susie bent over his table to gather the spilled glasses, Jack put a gentle hand on her wrist--”

“And then they sped off to Makeout Peak in Jack’s T-bird and vowed to go steady forever,” said Paris, and further silenced Helena with a kiss. Helena rolled away to the other side of the tousled bed, holding her notebook to her chest.

“I’m an idiot, aren’t I?” she said to the wall.

Paris scooted over, molded herself against Helena’s back. “You really wrote all that ‘cause of me?” she asked.

“You,” Helena said.

Paris waited. The afternoon light crept across the dingy room, making dust motes and cassette tape cases sparkle briefly.

“You make me feel like I remember things that never happened.”

“Am I your muse?” Paris said, her lips brushing against Helena’s ear.

Helena rolled over so they were eye to eye, nose to nose. Their breath was a singular thing, heavy and damp. “You’re more like a map home.”


Nasatya spotted Dasra by the green water at the Banganga Tank. The Mumbai skyline was a glass and gunmetal contradiction to the contemplative stone steps and placid waters in the foreground. Nasatya let her sandals clack on the steps as she approached Dasra. He didn’t look up from his tablet.

“It’s uncommon to see a young man come to such an old place,” said Nasatya.

“It’s a place to be away from my wife and stay out of trouble,” replied Dasra. His finger swiped lazily across the screen. Nasatya sat down several feet away.

“Have we met before?”

At that, Dasra looked up. Their eyes met. Nasatya breathed deep and felt the wordless rush of memories flow between them, as cutting and powerful as an underground river. It was the experience of catching up to a memory of the future, of tracing a wave’s path all the way back to the first shore it ever kissed.

Dasra frowned and went back to his tablet. “Sorry, don’t think so.”

Nasatya flinched like she’d been slapped. A stony cold crept down from her cheeks to her neck, and black spots swarmed at the corners of her eyes. “Are, are you sure?” she breathed. She’d watched him for weeks. She knew him. He was hers, and she was his.

“Are you going to faint?” He’d set the tablet down and was watching her with distant concern.

“I don’t know,” she said, leaning back against the step above her. The sky spun slowly on its axis overhead.

“I didn’t mean to offend you,” Dasra said. He was closer now. His arms were around her. He let Nasatya rest her head against his chest.

“Would your wife consider this trouble?” Nasatya murmured against the solid heat of his body.

Dasra stiffened, but didn’t push her away. After a long moment he said, “some think marital bliss is being together forever, never apart. You know wildflowers?”

Nasatya nodded.

“Well,” Dasra said, “try growing wildflowers if you’re always trampling down the soil. You’ll have a sad, barren garden. But let the soil stay loose, let it soak in the rain and the air, and your garden will surprise you.”

He gently detached himself from Nasatya. When their eyes met again, the alternating current of shared memory was still there, but subdued to a trickle.

“I leave my wife in the afternoon so she can surprise me when I come home in the evening. And she’s happy to see me after I’ve been gone, I think.”

Nasatya lowered her head. “It was my mistake,” she said.

When Dasra had gone, Nasatya sat for a long time by the Tank. Soon, night fell and hazy city light made the sky an inscrutable black blanket.

“Aah,” Nasatya moaned, her eyes closed. He was hers! She knew it the way her lungs knew air from water. She was his. He knew it, but was in denial.

The water in the Banganga Tank was black as the sky. She almost didn’t see the disturbance on its surface. Curious, she crouched down on the lowest step at water’s edge.

Enough, someone whispered in her ear from a thousand light years away.

Tears of relief poured from her eyes and fell into the growing whirlpool forming in the Tank. “My map home,” she whispered before springing headfirst into the churning water.


Natasha opened her eyes, found David already awake and watching her. The nanite and oxygen-laden isolation fluid drained away, leaving them slick and naked and still entwined in the dream tank.

Soft light and soft voices from beyond the plexiglass. The heaviness of her true body. The lingering sense of psychic overlap with David. Her mind processed these things at a snail’s pace, but David’s eyes were sharp and true and real, and they held her attention like a parent comforting a child after a nightmare.

The tank’s lid swished open. Soft towels descended from above, gently patting the pair dry. Any remaining nanites would, of course, have been remotely deactivated at the end of the sim, harmless as sand.

Natasha let soft-spoken caretakers help her up out of the tank and into a robe. She looked through the floor-to-ceiling windows, which afforded a penthouse view of the city beyond: whimsical towers with staggered floors and private forests for every household; the whole metropolis pulsing and thinking, alive with nanites. Nothing forbidden to anyone, no food or delicacy or entertainment out of reach.

In a word, paradise.

She looked back across the room, saw David accepting water from the caretakers. Already, her heart hurt to be near him again. She savored the feeling, the multitude of emotions. Romantic longing was a flavor she thought had left her palate when youth left her body.

David caught her watching him. Knowing passed between them, a private signal on a private frequency.


The garden on Brahma’s chest rises and falls; leaves flutter with his breath. Nasatya and Dasra duck mischieviously through the trees, an endless game of touch-and-go. Their laughter rises like incense to Brahma’s ears, and the eldest god smiles in his sleep.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 03:12 on Jan 5, 2015

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

leekster posted:

I'll do your next one and your current one nubile.

And that's a good idea. I just like n to offer in case anyone really wants one. Thanks everybody.

I wouldn't mind a crit on my story from this week unless you're already at 3, i'm not really following the math

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


sh: can win the thunderdome numerous times, cannot count to three

im a righter not a mather

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Entenzahn posted:

sebmojammin' here brawl
An unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

Also, pick one:
The cosmic ballet

Deadline: Wed, Jan 7th, noon GMT (<- Europe)
Wordcount: 501

are you just going to stand there or are you going to toxx yourselves

Aroha and Squid-eater
500 words

It started with an eerie song in the dead of night. While her sisters clapped their hands over their ears or buried their heads under their bedfurs, Aroha crawled out of their tent and stole down to the beach. Squid-eater was crying, but why? Aroha huddled deep in her sealskin cloak beside the sea and mimicked the sea monster's sad song, soft and quiet in her throat.

“Wake up child! The monster is stirring up a tidal wave!” Aroha’s grandmother was already half-dragging her up the beach. It was just past dawn. Aroha gained her footing, blearily perceived her tribesfolk sprinting up the low inland hills in the distance. She looked back at the sea; sure enough, there was Squid-eater, swimming back and forth across the horizon, thrashing his giant tailfin. The water rose up into a wall that quickly closed in on the island.

Aroha tore away from her grandmother and ran knee-deep into the ocean. She sang louder than she’d ever sang before, low and wordless and mournful. Squid-eater’s own sad song. The wall of water didn’t stop, but it split so twin waves crashed harmlessly onto the land on either side of Aroha’s village.

Aroha collapsed into the shallow water. Her awed tribespeople were there to lift her out and carry her to bed.

“It’s said across the island that Squid-eater’s tribe died of a pox,” Aroha heard someone whisper as they laid her down to recuperate. That’s why you were crying, she thought. Squid-eater was a great immortal guardian of the seas, and every guardian needed a tribe to whom they could dispense wisdom and guidance. It would be a tragedy to live forever and have no one to love or look after.

That night, Squid-eater sang his sad song again, but Aroha was too weak to go to the shore and sing back to him. By morning, the seas were once again churning with Squid-eater’s rage.

With her grandmother’s help, Aroha hobbled out onto the beach.

“Squid-eater!” she called over the turbulent ocean sounds. “Come be guardian of our tribe, and suffer loneliness no more!”

Squid-eater was curious. He hauled himself as close to the shallows as his titanic body would allow. “Guardians must be kin to the tribe,” he rumbled.

Aroha stood up straight, spread her arms wide, and walked the rest of the way to water. “Become my husband,” she said. Ignoring her grandmother’s cries, Aroha waded chest-deep into the ocean. “What do you say, lonely one?”

Squid-eater regarded her with one lagoon-sized eye. “I accept,” he said, and Aroha disappeared under the surface. The seamonster wiggled out of the shallows, back into the depths. Aroha wasn’t seen again, and Squid-eater only appeared at a distance, patrolling the seas, as guardians do.

Fishermen said they sometimes saw a beautiful seabird fluttering about his great head, singing a sad, beautiful song that made all the lads put down their nets for the tears in their eyes. The seas had never been so calm.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Crits are cool, you are cool.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Anomalous Blowout posted:

If you ask to be the third judge, all your wildest dreams will come true!


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Anomalous Blowout posted:

:allears: Hey bb, what u doin tonight

Ohhh not much just reading a bunch of terrible stories.

I hear poo poo makes good fuel for a fire, gonna get cozy in the judging chamber

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Maugrim posted:

Then use the dictionary definition of Xanthic which is "yellowish" you illiterate nematode

:swoon: :allears: :swoon:

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
:siren:Week 127 Crits:siren:

Keeping these short and to-the-point this week.


This is okay. It’s a funny story with decent imagery. But then, all war-fic seems to be either “war is hell” or “war is sometimes funny in a grim way.” This accomplished the latter well enough. I winced at the last line. I didn’t really see the point in couching the actual story inside family slice of life. It really didn’t add much.

December Octopodes

Oh. A Rosa Flores story. The first paragraph is really muddled. I’m not sure whether your narrator is inside the house or not, and plopping a line of unattributed dialog in the middle of all of it doesn’t help things. Also, your first line makes no sense. Choking on ash doesn’t have a smell. Smoke does. But choking is a feeling. The pacing is actually kind of okay, but the premise of this guy just charging into the camp is pretty ridiculous. At least he died at the end.

Screaming Idiot

This is actually okay, but I don’t think you handled the ‘writing about a writer’ thing too well. At least he wasn’t the protagonist. The whole bit at the end where he’s like “oh BTW i sold my novel and they want sequels” feels really disingenuous. I almost wish you’d used an entirely different subplot, because the fighting plot was decent.

Benny the Snake

Well, you already know I have a working theory about you, Benny. You’re some kind of social experiment. Maybe your gimmick is to fictionalize how-to manuals and encyclopedia articles. I can’t even fathom. Anyway, this one is decently written, though I feel like the ending has the poignance of an emotional freight train plummeting off the rails into hamfist canyon. No disrespect.


Why is a drinking contest deciding the captain? OH OKAY, it’s a truth serum drinking contest. Why is an impromptu truth serum drinking contest deciding who’s captain? It wasn’t really clear to me how or why Kip won, initially. His glass disappearing in a “shower of polygons” made me think he’d only faked drinking, but I guess not? Drinking more truth serum at the end was reeeeally stupid. Like everything about this plot, such as it is, is predicated on me, the reader, taking your word for it.


Congrats, you stepped on a story landmine. I personally hate stories where the characters are animals all named Lion and Hyena and Dust Bunny and Dung Beetle or whatever. Your tone puts me in the mind of “How the Leopard Got its Spots” or whatever, but this isn’t an origin myth or a just-so story. Hmm lets see, the least trustworthy animal (the hyena in this case) goes and tricks all the other animals. The end. I don’t know man, the writing itself isn’t bad, it’s just the content of the story :(


Okay, unlike some of the stories I’ve read this week, you’ve really tried to make your chosen location important and apparent in your story. I think the tone is the problem. Because the narrator is relating all of this to us in a really casual voice, I felt very removed from the scenes and the city in general. You have description, but it’s all fairly utilitarian. the “short-statured” man from Hong Kong? You did much better with the Dutch guy. The “sex” scene was way too goony. And your courtesan talks/thinks suspiciously like a Goon. Basically, change up your voice, make your writing more immediate, use more specific and hard-working adjectives, and check yourself when you wander into goony territory.


Not bad. I read this all in one go. Some stories it takes two or three tries to get through, but not this one. My main critique is the ending. It’s satisfying enough, but you built up the tension about the competition pretty well, so I wanted to know who won! Pretty strong piece though. Welcome to Thunderdome.

Jick Magger

This was decently written and depressiing. I can’t think of any major flaws in the story, but watch your tenses, man.


In years past, hunters would return to the village with what seemed like mountains of seal, but as the ice has receded farther north, so too has their prey.

Both instances of “has” in that paragraph should be “had”. Other than that, this was fairly decent.

Nubile Hillock

This was pretty cool and different. I’m used to your action-packed cyberpunk stories, so this was a cool change of pace. I liked the whole beginning. I was a little confused when you started mentioning she/her though, and it took me a bit to realize that this guy was thinking about his dead wife. That’s one trend of yours I’ve noticed, you’ll kind of throw in these details that are too much of a non sequitur for me to instantly understand what you mean. Still, I figured it out. I like how you wove the computer, the wife, and the steppe vacation together. I was a bit confused by the end of the story. I don’t think you mention that the bus stopped or anything, so when there was suddenly firelight and singing, I was confused. But the good qualities of the story shined through, and I thought this was an interesting offering from you this week.


So, a dude sabotages a sort of cyber Magic the Gathering contest to try and make big bucks off of physical cards? That’s...a bit silly, but it almost worked. You kind of held back for too long, I would’ve liked more hints that the protag was up to something. Like, all this dissembling to get your protagonist into the convention and down to the server control thing, and then he just does what he came there to do? Even when it seems like there’ll be an obstacle (everything being in Japanese), he just goes with it and it’s fine. Other than that, this was okay.


This isn’t really a story, bro. It’s a scene. It’s not a terribly done scene, exactly, but it’s pointless. Instead of feeling surprised or annoyed at the random dude with a knife at the end, I was just like, REALLY? I don’t know why this dude is running for the train, and so when he doesn’t make it, it’s like….okay?


TD Fanfic. Funny fanfic, fanfic that tickles my particular fancy. Works pretty well as a stand-alone piece, though I can’t be entirely objective about it. Needs more slashfic IMO. Way to pander to the ladies of the dome.


I can’t think of much to say about this, other than it might have won in a weaker week. As it stands, I suspect the reason this HMed is because, while it’s very good, it was a little less action-packed than the other contenders for the win. Your characters were strong and the pathos was good. Well done!


The biggest flaw for me in this piece was the relationship between David and Marisol, which is unfortunately a rather fundamental issue. Their relationship felt too contemptuous to me, no redeeming aspect at all. I liked the scene with the running of the bulls, but the hospital scene felt just pointlessly sad, like Marisol was a martyr to David’s gaming addiction. Which I think was kind of the point? But none of it sat quite right, though the writing was pretty good.


Ah, man. This just hit the spot for me this week. The descriptions of the narrator’s cheeses, how he would fold feelings into them, was spot on. Everything about it felt natural, not forced. The twist at the end, with the protagonist letting his wife die, was surprising but not out of left field. Well done, a genuinely pleasant read.

Schneider Heim

The action was good. The backstory almost verged on being too convoluted, and I wasn’t too sure about your placement of the flashback, but it worked. It definitely served to make me care about the race. By the time your protagonist has to make the choice to give up the race or save her half-step-brother, I felt like I knew her character well enough that the choice to save Henrik seemed natural.


I sort of liked how you weren’t like, THIS GUY IS A WASHED-UP ICE SCULPTOR from the very beginning. I was curious what sort of event he was off to, and the semi-reveal that it was all has-been ice sculptors was great. I laughed a bit when Donnie won by defiantly carving an ice block. It all rounded off nicely, and this was yet another piece that probably have won a less strong week. You already know you’re good, though. I think you matched your subject to your writing voice really well this week.


Not your best bro. First of all, the descriptions of Las Vegas are pretty super cliche. Second, I thought the actual story--your protag working his way up the brackets--was lacking. I mean, we wins until he loses. And then the winner is a cheat. The last paragraph, where the protagonist gives the cheater his comeuppance, just read like tacked-on ShitThatDidn’tHappen.txt.


This was a cool/fun story about an eagle-taming girl proving herself to the male hunters. This was yeeet another piece that could’ve HMed in a different week, but we had to stop ourselves somewhere. I enjoyed Bayaarmaa’s victory; there was enough of a moment there where it was uncertain whether she would succeed, so when her eagle surprised everyone by killing a wolf, it was a satisfying turn around. This could be the beginning to a cool adventure novel IMO.


This was a really visceral and tense interrogation scene, and I really wanted to know the actual relationships between the characters, but ??!!. It’s like a TV thriller got interrupted mid episode. Like I don’t think you gave us enough information to extrapolate each character’s role. Which was a shame, because it was some good writing throughout.

Morning Bell

The whole “time is a dot not an arrow” thing was really effective. This was a little dense for me, and I wasn’t overfond of the voice (you seemed to really Tell the story rather than let me feel it), but the emotional weight of it still came through. It has the potential to be quite cinematic though, with some editing.

Bad Ideas Good

I really didn’t like the first paragraph. Who’s narrating? Why not use those words to develop your characters? Because all I really know about Luc and Rodi is that they are racing each other. When Luc basically throws the race to help Rodi, I’m taking your word for it that this character would do that sort of thing. Your last sentence is noticeably weak; if you end your story on “...and then he decided he never wanted to be in [place] again, you haven’t done enough character development. See Schneider Heim’s story this week for a pretty good example of almost the exact same plot.

Ironic Twist

This was gross and emotional and moving and terrifying. Good job! It was really close to the win. The only thing *I* thought was contrived was the whole marriage flashback. But the other judges liked it, so I think that was just me. Everything else worked flawlessly, though. The brothers’ relationship, the swimming metaphor, Janne’s way of explaining his competitive streak with his brother. Good wordslinging, partner.


I don’t know how likely any of this is. I guess the whole story is predicated on Dieter being able to just up and switch teams right before a major game. I don’t know if that’s a thing, but my limited understand of sprot makes me think that players have to have contracts and stuff. But anyway. This was mostly ok, and Dieter realizing the error of his ways was satisfying enough. The very last line was way too on-the-nose, though.

Grizzled Patriarch

I feel like this was supposed to be tense, but I didn’t quite feel it. I get that the whole “competition” was as much as test of bravery as it was a means to get home, but it seems idiotic to run past a sniper one by one. SOMEONE was going to get shot. I, the reader, knew it, even if the characters were somehow convinced they might all make it. Otherwise, not bad. Certainly not a weak piece, but its zazz levels were somewhat low.


This is so blah blah blah blaaah for a short, quick piece. I don’t learn anything about the narrator that makes me care about this *specific* story. What I was able to gather is that he’s watching some revolutionary poo poo go down in Tehran while trying to rescue his allies. But instead, a tank happens, and everything is fine. The End. Your subject matter was all coherent and familiar enough that I could follow it, but too brief and too generic for me to care. I think there was the seed of a more complete idea here, but I suspect you left it to the last moment.


My first thought was you’ve got too many characters here. Like, 3 is too many for the first scene. By the time they’d made their decision about who was going where, I had to remind myself who the main character was. There’s some hint at a deeper plot, with the protagonist constantly replaying her mean mom’s voice in her head. But it’s not really important to the rest of the story. Then the protag sees some cliff divers who don’t die, and decides to make up with her mom or something? I dunno, too much fluff in this. It buries the REAL plot, which is the protagonist’s issues with her mom.


You knew i love the word kerfuffle didn’t you, panderer??.! This was fun in the beginning, tense at the end. The only thing was, I didn’t get much of a sense for your narrator other than he was more cautious and very intent on looking out for his brother. I would have sacrificed that fight at the beginning to add more onto the end, also. But let me guess you wrote this super fast at 11:58 PM PST because for some reason you refuse to offer me anything but half-thought fripperies that are all the more infuriating because I can see that, with a tiny bit more effort, they could be most excellent indeed. In conclusion, this was good but do better next time, gently caress you.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Nah, you'll be alright. Weeks where the judge says "sign up and get a thing" ("handout weeks") tend to have a huge number of signups, but also a huge number of failures. There's going to be a ton of people who were more interested in seeing what your generator spat out than actually writing a story. Last time I ran one it had something like 10-15 failures.

well, until you came along and jinxed it you ruinous luck-stealing swine

I don't care if every last one of you submits, just make it something worth YOUR time, and by extension, my time.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Martello posted:

this is unironically one of the best things you've written in the dome

i mean that in all seriousness, with zero irony

that's what unironically means btw

this but unironically

Would anyone like a flash rule? I just have the one, but I'd be willing to part with it for the price of one (1) non-lovely story

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Fumblemouse posted:

Yeah, Ok

drat! Will you take an IOU?

I'm willing to extend a line of credit, with interest of course.

Flash Rule: Your story must involve someone going from point A to point B. Point B must be somehow important to the story.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Shut Up And Write

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
I'm gonna add a preemptive Shut The gently caress Up to the OP i think it's solid advice for everyone


Due to science, I need everyone to participate in a survey. Go to and choose your favorite prompt. Then write 200 words inspired by it.

Please include the prompt you use, though. I'm genuinely curious what people like best.

edit: if you just want to post which prompt you think is the coolest, that's fine too.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 02:09 on Jan 19, 2015

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

blue squares posted:

no one gives a gently caress

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
*carefully crafts an instructional manual for navigating interstellar space in a scientifically viable spaceship*

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Quidnose posted:

What the gently caress is happening to this thread.

Everyone screamed THERE'S TOO MANY RULES when I asked them what they didn't like about the last thread. So now I get to spend the rest of the year hearing THERE AREN'T ENOUGH RULES HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO POST IN THIS THREAD WITHOUT A LITERAL HAND UP MY rear end CONTROLLING ME LIKE A RETARDED MEAT PUPPET

I will murder the poo poo out of this thread I swear

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 00:53 on Jan 21, 2015

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
seriously im having a meltdown about how loving unfunny most of you are

I wish I could brawl you all at once im so mad

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

sebmojo posted:

That's simply splendid, do go on.

NOOOOOOOO sheriff you're only making the blather stronger

you evil traitorous bastard

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
:siren:crits for black metal week :siren:

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

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

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

Defiling the Dark Corpses
Chthonic bell

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

Svarngrim the Reaver

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

The Last Corpsewitch
Benny Profane

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

The Screaming of Goats
Hammer Bro.

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

Insufferable Commandments of the Pagan Shrine

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


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

P-Type Engineer

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

The King of the Whores

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


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

The Royal Scam
Schneider Heim

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

Benny the Snake

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

The places you walk
Nubile Hillock

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

Black Sea

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

Embers of the Xenocidal Queen

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

Revealing Cthulhu

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

Ironic Twist

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

The Hunger That Burns

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

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

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

Revenge of the Crimson King

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

Screaming Idiot

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

The Body of the Host
Grizzled Patriarch

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

The Farewell

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

Its Fire Torments It

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

The Baker of Lagash
Bad Ideas Good

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

The Citadel of Dwarves

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

Screaming at Hectate

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

Glorious Altars of the Blood-Red Insanity
Doctor Idle

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


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

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
The Threads Behind Everything
1996 words

Samairah was the first of her class to arrive at the Hard to Port Wine. Holograms projected like pillars of light from the floor. One or two were tuned to newscasts, most displayed Welcome Martian Alumni Class Of 2206! in dancing letters. The bartender haunted his post wearily. The bar was one of many aboard the Shangri-La. The cruiseliner was the Planet Disney of wild reunions and grad parties, a roving interstellar spring break that never ended.

Samairah blinked the UI in her right eye to augment mode.

The last time she’d been aboard the Shangri-La, the Port Wine was dark and molten with gyrating bodies and lasciviously dancing holo-strippers. She set the UI augment to overlay the empty bar with panoramic photos from that night, and suddenly she was sitting in a dim room full of ghosts. The people around her were frozen mid step, their arms and legs banded with glowing costume tech. What faces Samariah could discern were ecstatic and vacant.

Except Chand’s.

It was while taking the picture that she’d spotted him. In a crowd of feral spring breakers, his salt-and-pepper beard and dark, sober eyes were a beacon. She’d blinked away her camera app, watched him approach her.

“I’m organizing a mutiny,” he’d said. “I’m going to absolutely insist on eight o’clock bedtimes for everyone.”

Samariah raised her glass. “I’ll toast to that. But whose eight o’clock? You got Martians, Titanians, Earthers, and Lunas aboard. To name a few.”

Chand shrugged. “Whichever eight o’clock happens earliest.” He was older than she usually liked, looked at her with more familiarity than she usually liked. The conversation was a slight, fluttering piece of fabric in the wind of unspoken attraction between them. Samariah fell into his eyes, then his bed, then into a depression once they made planetfall and he disappeared into the disembarking crowd.

She blinked away the past. Other alumni trickled into the Port Wine, executives and lawyers by the look of them. Not her people.

Samairah tossed back the last of her cocktail. Why had she come so early? Chand’s face appeared in her mind, sharper than a photo augment. He’d definitely be too old by now, she chastised herself. She slid off her bar stool and went out into the wide corridor that connected the bars and the guest rooms. There was a church-like stillness in the hall. The walls flickered between white sand beaches and various event announcements. Samaira sank onto a bench set in a small alcove and let her head fall back against the wall.

She looked up at the sound of footsteps, and for a moment, her heart soared.

His hair was sleek and black, his eyes earnest and sad. He had no beard. Maybe he only looked older than he was back then, Samairah thought. But, no. This man was half her age at the oldest. He passed by her alcove without seeing her. Shaving didn’t shave off twenty whole years.

"We are now passing through the Kapteyn Gate. If you experience dizziness, please lie down and ping guest services for assistance. Next stop: Kepler-3," said the ship’s AI cheerfully. Samairah barely heard the announcement.

Just as she stepped out into the corridor, just as the young man looked back at her over his shoulder, the ship heaved--

Samairah opened her eyes. Her left temple and cheekbone throbbed against the milky white floor. The young man stood over her, a silhouette against red emergency lights above. The animated walls were dead and grey.

“?” said the young man. There were words, but they came in a jumble of inquisitive sounds. Samairah saw a wispy phantom of herself get up off the floor and take the young man’s hand. Another shadow-self wandered listlessly down the hall and sank onto the bench in the alcove. Her UI smeared flickering nonsense characters across her right eye.

“?” Samairah said. What happened? But her mouth was numb. The words piled on top of themselves like a derailed train.

The young man offered a helping hand. Hadn’t he just helped her up? That hasn’t happened yet. She let him pull her to her feet. Their phantoms were a dozen yards down the hall, still hand in hand, drifting toward something...something that filled the end of the corridor like a corrupted shadow. Something colorless and impossible. It bent time and space around itself like water circling a drain.

Samariah tugged on the young man’s hand--we shouldn’t go there!--until he looked at her. Their eyes met. Superclusters collided. Vertigo washed over Samairah. She was going to be sick.

His eyes were two receding tunnels, one boring into the past, one into the future. She saw him as a bubbly toddler, as a shy boy, as a thoughtful young man with eyes dark as beetle shells and a disposition like the depths of an underground lake.

She saw him mature. He would receive accolades for his work in theoretical physics. He would allow himself a slight smile of pride, then return to his lab and write equations that would change space travel and human history forever.

He would meet a brilliant woman two decades his senior, whose health was failing, and they would become almost more-than-friends. He would get her the best medical care in the solar system. They would correspond over lightyears as he traveled unprecedented distances across interstellar space, making his theories reality.

The woman would send him one last transmission from her sickbed on Mars: “You’ll find the time. I know you will.”

He would rush back to Mars just in time to help arrange her funeral. He would put a ragged bouquet of hand-picked forget-me-nots on her grave. He would look wizened and grey by the time he reached forty, but those dark eyes would stay sharp and fixed on one singular goal: find the time.

He would attack the problem of time, a fisherman trying to tame the ocean itself.

And, after many years, he would find the place where all timelines intersect all other timelines. He would follow one of those threads to a place and time where his companion was young and lively again. He would find her on the Shangri-la, see her taking photos of the glowing, slick-skinned crowd at the Port Wine, and she’d see him seeing her, and then--

Samairah jerked her head back to break the connection. Her hand was still nested deep in the young man’s hand, as though some unbreakable magnetism bound their atoms together. The walls rippled and breathed around them. The door to the Hard to Port Wine slid open and more phantoms poured out: spectral executives and lawyers, all their pasts and futures trailing after them in the form of enraged spouses and harems of mistresses.

And down at the end of the long hallway, the terrible something yawned like it was intent on inhaling the corridor, the people, the ship, the universe.

The young man tugged her hand. Samairah looked at him sideways, afraid to meet his eyes again. He reached out, gently turned her chin so they were eye to eye once more, and time blossomed like a lotus flower.

She saw herself, from Chand’s perspective, in the Port Wine. He would insert himself into her past so that, when the time came, when his younger self serendipitously passed Samairah aboard the Shangri-la, she would know him.

He would stow himself aboard the Shangri-la, waiting for the moment when young Chand would turn around and see Samairah. Just when the ship passed through the Kapteyn Gate and, for a microsecond, touched that infinite and singular place behind time where all threads meet. He would creep out of his hiding place in a maintenance passage, pry a panel off an access terminal, and make a slight adjustment to the ship’s heading. Not so much that the AI couldn’t correct for it. Just enough to knock the ship a hair off course, prolong its journey through the timeless place between gates.

Samairah blinked and was back in the corridor. Young Chand’s eyes were just eyes. Phantom-selves poured out of them, flowing like a translucent river toward the something; time’s gravity pulling them ahead of themselves, toward whatever lay on the other side of the mystery.

She let Chand lead her down the hall. Other passenger’s phantoms toddled by as children or bent elders. The something crackled and spat and twisted the world as they approached it. When Chand looked into her eyes, did he see what was on the other side of the distortion? Was that why he led her so calmly toward something that the animal part of her brain screamed and bawled at?

As they approached the something, Samairah could see a shadow somewhere behind it or in the midst of it. The crackling and spitting noises wove over and under each other, melting into a tone. Then a voice.

“...have to get in or...won’t mean anything...hurry, dammit.”

Young Chand faltered at the threshold of the distortion. The voice from inside the something was his voice, only older and a little deeper. And who was prepared to meet their own future? But Samairah only knew that the man inside the distortion had challenged the laws of the universe to bring her there. She squeezed young Chand’s hand, and they passed into the something.

From inside, the distortion was a transparent dome. Outside the dome, the ship warped and spasmed like a detuned television set. Terrified people ran by, then rubberbanded back to their starting point.

Old Chand stood before them, arms clasped behind his back. His beard was long, his eyes sunken.

“Samairah,” he breathed. Then he shook his head. “There’s no time. There will be. But right now, you two need to kiss each other. You need to be, to be kissing each other when the ship exits through the Kepler Gate.”

Young Chand’s mouthed opened and closed wordlessly. He stared at old Chand.

“But it’s you, you’re the one I know and want,” Samairah said. Her hand was still in young Chand’s; she let go, took a step toward old Chand.

“You’ll meet me again, when he is older and wiser,” old Chand said, nodding at young Chand. He kicked a boxy, esoteric-looking device at his feet. “This generates a small field of ‘clean’ time. When the ship enters normal space again, in about twenty seconds, you two will step into a new timeline.”

“Because if we fall in love in our native time, you’d never need to go back in time to bring us together,” young Chand said. He’d shaken off the daze of shock.

“You won’t remember any of this. Which is why you need to be in each other’s arms.” Old Chand’s cheeks reddened. “It was the only way I could think of.”

“What’ll happen to you?” said Samairah.

Old Chand looked at her steadily. “This man that I am should never have existed. He should’ve loved you when you were young and vibrant. Ten seconds. Please.”

“Samairah.” Young Chand took her hand again. “I’ve seen so much. When I looked into your eyes in the hall, I saw--”

“I know,” Samairah said. Then her mouth was on Chand’s, and his arms were around her, a perfect circle.

“Three. Two. One.”

The Shangri-la lurched back into normal space. The cabin lights came back up, the red emergency lights faded.

“Now arriving at Kepler-3” said the AI.

Samairah pulled away from the man she’d been kissing.

“I’m so sorry,” she said.

“No, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have…” the young man’s brow furrowed. “Or did you kiss me?”

“You know,” said Samairah, “I have no idea.” She looked around, found herself in the corridor outside the Hard to Port. “One too many cocktails? Only I don’t feel drunk.”

“My name’s Chand. I figure I ought to tell you, since. You know.”


“Care to have a drink and suss all this out?”

“You know, I think I’d love to.”

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Judging update: Martello, still the worst dad ever

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Benny the Snake posted:

folk tales
fairy tales

Your answer is hidden within your question

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Black Metal Week crit for Your Sledgehammer

(note: My offer is still open to DQed people from that week to request a crit if you want one)

The Acolyte

So a man is in a trashcan being forced to say terrible things, and then another man says a terrible thing and the crowd of hecklers turns on him. Then the protagonist tiptoes away. I can only imagine him creeping cartoonishly offstage while staccato, ascending piano notes play each time he takes a dramatic sneak step.

But so ok, then you shift gears and inform us, in a lot of detail, that he's actually a cult victim in some Scientology compound. He packs for his trip and we learn his background in detail, and then he walks up to a fence, AND THEN! a conflict appears. In the form of a cigar smoking guy. Only he just lets the protagonist go. Helps him, in fact. The end. So the story is, "A guy walks out of a place." The background stuff doesn't even give a clue why he was in The Hole, or really what The Hole is. I assume it's like some sort of prison or shaming facility, but there's not much to go on. He just walks out, so it can't be too locked down. And like I said, I've got no clue why he's there. Disagreeing with Scientology I guess? But that's his only real character trait.

Scientology is also pretty low-hanging fruit in terms of "stuff your reader will instantly feel negatively about."

You should've introduced David earlier. I mean, you mention him, but without any context whatsoever. Why not show the protagonist in The Hole. Have David come talk to him. Maybe David is the devout leader, but privately, to his prisoner, he gives small signs that he's not feeling so zealous about body thetans anymore. Then when the protagonist makes his escape and finds David at the fence, there'd be some genuine tension, and it would be a pleasant surprise when David lets him go.

I kinda hate saying "this is what I think you should've done," but honestly plot was really unbalanced and didn't really feel like a standalone sequence of events.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 09:00 on Jan 29, 2015

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

this isn't an 'in' post fyi

e: i just thought you should know so you can fix it

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Benny the Snake posted:

Aw, why are mom and dad fighting again? :smith:

This isn't E/N

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