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Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

I saw a banner ad, and I love wizards, so sure.



Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Noeland posted:

Before throwing my hat into the ring, is a submission of a scan of a typed page a valid entry? I'm a hipster and I refuse to write on a computer.

Proof in case you don't believe me:

Relish the opportunity to get a second or third draft by fully retyping it into the computer.

Edit: actually no, I'm going to type mine on a typewriter too and submit it like that :coffeepal:

Pham Nuwen fucked around with this message at 04:35 on Apr 22, 2015

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

This is what you call kayfabe, right?

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Chance Man

Edit: pulled because I'm thinking of shopping it around after applying crit advice

Pham Nuwen fucked around with this message at 22:05 on May 13, 2015

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

spectres of autism posted:

im not sure what the ending means? i am definitely dumb though.

I'm pretty sure he became Death, if that's what you mean

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

newtestleper posted:

awesome crit

Thanks, this is great!

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

I wrote a barbarian story while sitting in the airport, we're just supposed to post those whenever right?

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Ironic Twist posted:

I will provide graph crits in the style of week 115 to the first ten people that ask (someone else can share an example of said crits via a link). First come first served.

Yes please, thanks!

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Blunted Axes, Now Sharp
173 words

Runin's stolen horse coursed beneath him, eager to escape the smoke and flames of the burning city behind them. His companions whooped, already shedding their city-ways as the joy of the raid filled them.

His grandfather had told him, as they watched the night fire in the winter camp, how the strongest and noblest and bravest warriors of the tribes had made their fortunes and settled in the city, wedded to a rescued slave girl or a sacrificial virgin from some sacked temple. The strength of the tribes had been sapped, and the children of the heroes lived soft lives in city palaces.

No more; Runin listened, and he learned the way of the spear and the sword, and now he moved with purpose from town to town. He knew the ancient verses and tales to reawaken the fierce blood. He would gather the children of the heroes. With their strength his new-made tribe would teach the townsfolk once again to fear the rattle of spear on shield and the thunder of hooves.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

angel opportunity posted:

It was really cool to see how many people gave nice crits this week...probably the best thing that could happen to help retain all the new people who joined for Wizard Week!

Yeah it's been great getting so many crits as a newbie. I don't think I'll be writing this week but might try a crit or two.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Crit for Blue Wher - The Deadly Curse of American Revolutionary Oliver Hammond

I liked the setup, but I feel like the story falls apart in the last 1/3. Pretty much everything starting with "So, you finally found me" is pure cliche. Linecrit time:

Blue Wher posted:

I stopped when I came to a clearing; there stood Dr. Youngs, his back away from me. There was suddenly a cold wind that whistled through dense foliage and chilled my veins, and my nostrils were filled with the rotten scent of decay.

“So, you finally found me.”
Standing with his back turned, knows who it is, greets him like this... it works better in movies

Gone was his usual humor, and in its stead was a cold, deadly voice.

“I suppose you heard that British fool's squawking about a witch. He's right, but no one except you will ever believe him, and you'll never tell anyone!”
He described somebody as a fool, that's how we know he's evil

Dr. Youngs turned to me now, though his face now looked older than any man could ever be; a twisted visage that struck terror within me. My heart pounded intensely as I shrieked with rage, "you're the one who did this to me! Why?!”
I think I missed how the protagonist made the connection between Youngs and his own situation

The doctor merely afforded me a sinister chuckle. “I suppose I can grant you one last request before I kill you.” Dr. Youngs walked towards me slowly, and I could see his eyes gleaming with sadistic intention. “I've been alive many centuries now, my magic unparalleled and unstoppable. Unfortunately, being alive so long can get very dull after some time, so I decided to entertain myself.”
Well Mr. Bond, I may as well tell you my sinister plan before leaving a single henchman to kill you.

He smiled a crooked grin as he continued, “I decided to start meddling in wars. Heroes and villains became influenced by my spells, giving them inhuman power. I shaped wars and experimented on men for fun.” The evil man lifted a gnarled finger and pointed it at me. I had guessed he was an evil man “You, Oliver Hammond, American revolutionary, are one of my experiments. You had the power to sway battles by yourself, and I was going to enjoy watching the ensuing chaos and watching you suffer through the memories of each enemy you killed. Unfortunately, you've disappointed me,” the warlock sighed with resignation, “so I'll just have to find someone else!”
"with resignation" is redundant.

My bellow of rage was lost on the powerful wind as I rushed forward. The next thing I knew, "the next thing I knew" weakens this I felt like I had been struck by lightning. I only felt searing pain as my nostrils were filled with the sickening stench of my own burnt flesh. Then, the man I had once respected towered over me. “This is what you get for defying my power, Oliver.” The witch stated without a shred of remorse as the wind dwindled, just as I was. “You will die here. Farewell.” The wizened man slowly started to walk away from me. As my time and my strength withered away, I pushed past pain and exhaustion to grab something out of my pocket. No one, not even the so called “Dr. Youngs” had known that I had kept my severed finger after the battle. With my remaining strength, I hurled the finger at the back of the wicked man's head. Almost instantly, the wretch shrieked, done in by his own spell. It was then that I saw the centuries flash before me, and I experienced many horrible wars before my fading consciousness returned to reality. I choked out a bitter laugh, and the taste of my own blood filled my mouth as my world faded to black. Although I was dying, I prided myself with the knowledge that my death wasn't in vain, for now the world was free from his spell. I breathed my final breath, joyful that I, too, was finally free.
These last two sentences should be removed. It's better without them.

Way too many adverbs and adjectives too, to my mind.

The way you've written the dialog sometimes makes it a bit hard to parse; it's not always clear who's saying what. Splitting each person's dialog into a separate line can help with that. Also some of the writing in general comes off awkwardly: "I approached the doctor as I kept asking myself what in heaven's name that domineer could want with an injured man!"

I like the bit with the finger.

I think there's something pretty good in here, but I'd take it a different direction than "an immortal wizard puppet-master did it". Revolutionary war dude who is cursed to kill with a touch? That's a cool concept and I think it could make a great story with some reworking.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

454 words

The keyboard console spun end-over-end as it flew across the control room. It smashed into an I-beam on the wall; a few keycaps sprayed off and floated away gently.

"Get out of here, goddamn it!" yelled Dean. "You knew the rules about network use! That console is coming out of your paycheck, too!"

"gently caress you," Cora spat back as she kicked free of her velcro patch and glided through the overhead hatch. In her anger, she misjudged and bounced clumsily off the wall of the passageway. Swearing softly at a bruised forearm, she made her way through the zero-G command segment toward the rest of the station.

She felt a touch of regret seeping past her anger--control equipment wasn't cheap, and who knew how long it would take to find another job. But no, screw them! she thought. If those networking dicks hadn't locked everything down so tight, or if they had just allowed InterBBS traffic like she asked, she wouldn't have had to run those illicit tunnels. Turns out, pulling 350 GB of encrypted traffic through what's supposed to be a low-bandwidth text messaging connection will raise a few eyebrows. All legal, of course, but corporate policy prohibited circumventing any of their absurdly paranoid security measures.

"hosed again by zero tolerance," she muttered, pausing at the entrance to the rover bay. Through the reinforced glass she could see Rovers 1 and 3, slotted neatly into the underbellies of their lander units. Rover 2 was down on Mercury, and that prick Luke would be running it now instead of her. Working with the rovers was the only part she had really enjoyed here; the food was poo poo, the people sucked, and the living conditions were even worse than the food. Those annoyances all went away when she was live-patching pathfinding logic, frantically hacking to get the rover back on track before it overheated in the intense Mercurial sun. The high stakes and the intellectual challenge made it the only job she'd ever actually enjoyed.

When Cora got back to her room, she saw that her terminal was displaying her termination notice. It wouldn't let her log on until she digitally signed it. She accepted the terms with a sigh, noting that her account had already been switched into restricted access mode.

"Now what, just sit on rear end until the next ship gets here?" Cora wondered aloud. There wasn't another resupply ship due for at least 3 days. She sure as hell didn't want to see or talk to any of her crewmates. Her terminal was pretty locked down now that she was officially persona non grata, but those networking dicks were only good at following checklists--they never seemed to grasp all the tricks you can pull.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Welp this opening is about feelings and relationships and such, time for me to explore my weaknesses

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Ring Quest
977 words

“Good luck with the demo, mushroom girl,” Fred said. “Let me know when you’re done. I might be a bit slow getting back, though.” He gave Elle a peck on the cheek after she came out from under the table.

“I hope the grievance thing goes well,” she said, then blushed. She wanted to pretend it was from carrying tubs of mushrooms all across the farmer’s market. If Fred asked why she was so red, she would’ve been hard pressed to lie.

The indoor market was holding a demo, but Elle wasn’t participating. It was such a stupid thing to lie about. She dusted off her knees instead of giving in to the urge to babble.

“The teamsters’ work is never done… Sorry I couldn’t stay.” Fred kissed her nose and left.

With Fred out of the picture, Elle had one last chance to find the wedding band before the winter market building closed for renovations. The ring had vanished between set up and tear down at last week’s market. She had only discovered its disappearance when she had been about to propose to him.

Elle rushed to finish arranging her display. Her customary neighbor arrived just as she settled her cash box on her table.

“Ready for me?” Arlene asked. She sold goat milk soap, so she wasn’t a real competitor. They watched each other’s stands for coffee runs.

“Thank you so much,” Elle gushed. She didn’t want to insult Arlene, but -- what if Elle had to look for hours before finding it? She wasn’t sure how far she could trust Arlene not to pocket some of her sales.

“Oh, I’ve got Davey checking the parking lot, too.”

“Here’s my number if he finds it, just text me,” Elle said. “I’ll be back soon!”

“Good luck.” Arlene gave her two thumbs up, then lit up at the approach of a potential buyer.

Elle had already searched all around the stall while Fred had unloaded the bins. She retraced her steps but found nothing. The ring must have rolled a good ways away. She hadn’t let anyone else know about the ring. First, jerks might find it first, and second, she didn't want Fred to know. If he found out, her failure would prove that she was ditzy and unreliable.

She ignored the looks from patrons and vendors as she crawled around the floor. The ancient wood floor was riven with deep cracks. They'd collected a good deal of filth and coins over the years. A dollar coin should have been lucky, but today Elle only cursed.

"Not happy to see me?" The market coordinator startled Elle. She squinted at the staffer’s nametag.

"Uh, sorry, Amy," she said. "I'm a little busy right now--"

"I just need last month's rent check from you guys. Arlene didn't see it in your cash box. What are you doing? That's a real safety hazard, y'know."

"Oh, uh, I saw this coin in the cracks? Anyway, yeah, the rent wasn't in the box? I'll check again; maybe it's in the car? I'll get it to you by the end of the day," Elle said all in a rush. The rent wasn't in the car or the cash box. She had drained her account buying the ring and was counting on paying the rent out of today's profits.

"Ok, just make sure you get it to me today or you'll lose your booth!" Amy said, walking off to the baker's stall.

drat. Elle chewed her lip as she thought. If she didn't start selling, she wouldn't make rent--and all those unsold mushrooms would rot before the next market day. But the ring! It had to be somewhere. She could tell Arlene, ask her to help look, but what would Arlene think? She might not trust her to watch the soap stall any more, knowing she lost something that important.

"I'll do it all myself, then," she muttered to herself. Sell as many mushrooms as possible, but get Arlene to watch the stall occasionally while she searched for the ring. She'd have to make up some excuse about the breaks; maybe an upset stomach? After a final fruitless peek behind a trash can, Elle sighed and went back to her stall.


Elle dropped heavily into her chair. The market was closing in 15 minutes. She had a sore back, sore knees, and a stress headache the size of a Volkswagen. She checked the cash box. Enough to pay rent and a little more. But no ring. Her eyes stung with hot frustration at her failure; she'd just have to take the loss and start saving up for another ring, get married later.

Amy the coordinator was back. "Hey Elle, you find that check? You look really stressed, by the way--bad sales?"

Elle handed over a roll of cash by way of reply. Her voice was slightly hoarse as she explained, "No, I just -- I lost the engagement ring I bought for my boyfriend. I looked all day but I couldn't find it and I can't tell him I lost it, he'd think I'm a idiot."

With a slightly puzzled look, Amy replied, "Why didn't you ask me if anyone had found it? Somebody turned in a ring this morning--here, it's in my bag."

Amy fished out a plain gold ring and handed it to Elle, who accepted it with a slightly shaking hand.

"Y-Yes. That's it! Thank you, I can't believe someone turned it in! I figured whoever found it would keep it," Elle said.

"Don't underestimate people! Most of them are good, deep down. See you in a few weeks, and congratulations on the engagement!" Amy gave a wave as she headed for the door.

Elle looked down at the ring in her hand. Her ring had been thinner and paler, a little 14k band. This one was thicker, heavier. It's ok, she told herself. Now Fred won't think she's unreliable. He'll be impressed that she could get such a good ring.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

In with a flash rule, please.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Two short and lovely crits:

Ulterior Motives by Jonked & simplefish

What's in the brown bottle? That's the most interesting part of the story but you drop it. Chekhov weeps.

All the characterization of the two girls makes me go "ugh" for reasons I can't quite place.

Time travel is really hard to do properly and this situation is no exception. This last paragraph suddenly hits us in the face with a big handful of possible paradoxes:


Because this is where it happened. This is where, on a gloomy campus at a second-tier university, I pushed a previously-middling chemistry student to become a brilliant pioneer. Ryan would go on to develop the cure for a disease that in my past had ravaged mankind. For my now-classmates, it would be twenty-five years in their future. A cure was no good without funding, speedy approval, and a distribution infrastructure though, so I needed Marcus. And he didn't know it yet, but here was also where I'd just sat beside who I'd make the future President of the United States.

So how did she push him to become brilliant? Or did she just dump the cure into his lab results? Because it's pretty hard to turn a slacker into a brilliant scientist just by messing with his lab kit. And if she's going to college with this Marcus, he must be around 18-23. Assuming he's 20, it'll be a minimum of 15 years before he could legally become president, and realistically more like 25 years. I feel like you could get the cure pushed out a little faster than by picking a college student and following him until he becomes President.

AND that last sentence is loving awful. "here was also where I'd just sat beside who I'd make"

Trouble, Trouble by Chairchucker and dmboogie

If I knew Taylor Swift--oops, sorry, TayTay--songs, would I have understood this better? Who is the "famous-looking guy" who shows up at the end?

I kind of liked that last line, is it from a song?

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Plumbers, Cracked
1067 words

Tied to a chair, James Frink held his head down, his eyes squeezed shut. 

"I haven't seen your faces, I don't know where I am, just let me go and it'll be ok. I'm just a building inspector, man, just let me go!"

He gasped in spite of himself when an unseen hand grabbed him by the hair and yanked his head up. The metallic sound of of scissors made him open his eyes--Jesus, were they going to cut off his ear for the ransom note?

In the dim light he saw a large figure leaning over him from one side. Three times he felt the man's hand grab a chunk of hair, then snip it off. Shifting his eyes around he could see they were in a half-built house, the walls framed up but lacking insulation or drywall. The only light came from a single trouble-light lying on the ground in the corner.

"We're gonna let you go, but first we're gonna take some of your hair."

"Hurry up, Rob, IKEA closes in like an hour and I need to return that chair still," came a new voice from somewhere behind James.

"Shut up, Mike," the first figure grumbled.

"It's the last day, man, they only take returns for seven days and my wife won't want it--"

"Shut the gently caress up, Mike!" Rob barked. "Get over here and take some hair. JD, you too."

Rob stepped back a pace as two men walked around James' chair from the rear. One was muscular, younger-looking, while the other was hugely fat, the kind of fat where each step takes on a sort of rolling, swaying profoundness.

"Ok, guys," Rob said, "here's how it works. You hold the hair in your right hand like this, then you say the words like I taught you. Just keep saying them as long as you need it to last."

Though the light was poor, James was starting to make out some facial features on his captors. Rob looked the oldest, balding, maybe 55. He was holding up a lock of the freshly-cut hair and as Jim watched, he began to softly mumble words too low to understand but with a cadence and tone that sounded far from English. The younger guy (Mike?) had a Van Dyke beard trimmed short, and JD must be the fat one--

His observations were cut off by a piercing pain that started in his head and rapidly spread through his whole body, a feeling like ten thousand fish hooks ripping out chunks of flesh. He grunted with the pain, then moaned, tasting blood in the back of his throat and feeling it begin to run down from his nose and drip off his upper lip.

The pain dulled a bit when the older one--Rob--stopped mumbling.

"You see, Jim? We don't have to be near you to do that, either," Rob said. "We're gonna let you go. We want you to sign off on the plumbing layouts for Upton Heights, or else we'll do the hair thing again until you're dead."



Rain sluiced off the windshield of Rob's pickup as he pulled into the driveway. He broke into a shuffling jog to get into the shelter of the mostly-finished house.

He followed a line of muddy footprints on the bare plywood floor into the downstairs bathroom. There was no floor there, yet, and Mike was bent over applying PVC glue to the toilet's outflow pipe.

"Last one, right?"

"Hey Rob, yeah, this is it. How's JD coming?"

Rob yawned and scratched his cheek. "He's doing OK. His journeyman was giving him a hard time about some of it but we took care of him."

"What, you killed him?" Mike asked.

"Christ, Mike, no--we just gave him a couple hundred bucks and told him to get it done. You know how these fly-by-night developers work, he'll think we're just cutting some corners."

Mike straightened up, hitching up his pants. "Well, that's it. I'd be done already but some guy used his own glue instead of our special stuff, so I had to redo the toilet. Let's get a beer, huh?"


"You'd think this kind of thing would have to happen at night, you know? Like in movies," Mike said, flipping open the cooler and fishing out a beer.

"Well, we don't set the schedule for it. Now shut the gently caress up, Mike, it's the kickoff," JD replied.

The three sat in folding lawn chairs, eyes on a small portable TV. Despite the beer, they all had a nervous edginess to them. The January sun was low, but from up in their hilltop campground they still had plenty of light to see the quiet streets of the city below them.

"I wonder what He'll choose as his vessel. Who, I mean. Not what," Rob mused.

"Dunno, man. A hot chick would be cool. Actually, that would be weird, never mind," Mike said.

They watched the TV in silence for a while.

"OK guys, this is it, they're going to commercial!"

They stood, JD puffing as he hefted his girth up from the chair, and walked to the edge of the campsite to look down at the city.

Meanwhile, thousands of people jumped up and ran to the bathroom as the first commercial break of Superbowl XLX began. Across the city, thousands of toilets flushed nearly simultaneously.

In the Upton Heights subdivision, and in several others plumbed by Mike, JD, and Rob, those flushes flowed to the sewer by rather non-standard routes. Arcane routes, even. The lights of the city took on an unhealthy purplish tinge as sigils made in carefully-placed PVC and copper tubing were activated by running water. The whole thing had been slowly charging since the houses were built, one random flush or shower after another, but it took the synchronization effect of a nationally-televised football championship to push it over the edge into full-on activation.

"Hot drat," Mike breathed.

The glow soon faded as people returned to their couches. Only the trio on the hill knew that somewhere down there, Chemosh the Subduer had arrived and chosen a host body. Soon, though, the whole city would know, as their new god made flesh established his reign.

"Welp," Rob said as he opened another beer and dropped back into his chair, "I wonder if He'll let me rule Greece. I just fuckin' love gyros, you know?"

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010


I haven't had enough self-loathing lately so let's get it on.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

1194 words

Gerard settled his rifle sling onto his shoulder as he considered the respirator mask hanging on the wall. With a sigh he took the mask; it had been calm lately, but this time of year often brought nasty dust storms. Dust from the west blew from the remains of Sacramento, carrying the alpha emitters that got in your lungs and irradiated the tissue and made you die like Volker had, coughing up blood as the tumors grew.

"I'm going up the north slope, I saw some deer there yesterday," he called to his wife Sarah, who was trying to grind corn and read a book at the same time.

"OK," she replied, not taking her eyes off the page, "Pick your shots, we're getting low on bullets."

Gerard navigated the inner and outer door seals quickly, emerging from the dim interior of their home to the bright May sunlight. Their place looked just like all the others from the outside: a steep-sided hillock, the underlying log structure visible only on the entrance side, scavenged solar panels on the southern side. The dirt walls insulated from the cold of winter and kept out the poison ash and dust that blew from the west. He avoided Volker's empty hut as he walked through the Village and the corn fields. The old man had been Gerard's mentor at the lab. Later, when their camping expedition was interrupted by the war, he got them settled, sacrificed his own health to find respirators and build shelters. Billions had starved, but Volker's group survived.

Night fell before Gerard finally gave up on the deer and turned back to the Village. He paused at the edge of the fields to look up. The skies were never so clear before the bombs, he thought. You could even make out little dim things, like that satellite.


There weren't any satellites anymore. The military ones blew each other up, and the civilian satellites either got shot down too or just gradually lost orbit. Nobody had seen anything moving up there in over a decade.

Yet there it went, twinkling gently as it moved across the sky.

"I just saw a satellite out there!," he panted to Sarah, out of breath from running back to the house. Picking up a flashlight he started searching the back corner of the house.

Sarah followed him. "How? We checked a few years back, remember? Without station-keeping, they should have all come down by now."

"I don't know! Maybe it was in a really high orbit and moved automatically? Maybe there's still somebody out there controlling it!"

Gerard found what he'd been looking for--a dusty laptop and a little handheld radio. He'd brought the radio on their camping trip so long ago as a backup in case of emergency. It was a cheap Chinese outfit, line-of-sight only. He hadn't heard a thing on it since the bombs went off.

"Do we have any stiff wire? Like coat hangers? Perfect."

An hour later, Gerard and Sarah sat on the grass roof of their home, their equipment spread out and wired into the solar storage batteries. He aimed a hastily-assembled antenna at the satellite, tracking the point of light as it sped across the sky. At the laptop, Sarah fed commands to the radio, scanning frequencies and looking for known protocols.

"I think I found it!" she said, "Keep on it! Yeah, they have a backup control system listening around 140 MHz. We're going to need some time to get in, though."


It took five weeks to break into the control system. Sarah worked on weather satellites before the war, so it wasn't completely unfamiliar. The breakthrough came a few hours before dawn on a cool June night.

Poking a finger at the screen, she explained, "Here's why it just showed up one night--it wasn't a satellite, more of a returned probe. 'TELEMACHUS IV'... I don't remember that one, but it's been a long time. Anyway, you take over, I need some sleep."

Gerard picked up the laptop. The online help for the control system was pretty terse; they'd only managed to figure out commands for diagnostics, orbital adjustment, and radio control.

Radio control. If he could reach the satellite, maybe other people could too, if anybody was listening. On the next orbit, he set up a simple command: constantly transmit a text-only message containing the satellite's access codes and how to change the transmitted message. If anyone was listening, they could talk back now.

After a few days, messages started to trickle in:




"It's not just us left, Sarah!" Gerard shouted, "They're all over the place! I got one from Japan this morning, they're doing ok up in the mountains, and some guy in Oregon said he saw a ship last week!"

"That's great, but I don't know if we should have given them the login information. What if somebody locks us out or moves the satellite? We should have been more careful."

Gerard scratched his neck absently as he replied. "Yeah, I know, but I can't figure out how to let people use it without giving them full access. You know it was never designed for this sort of poo poo. Anyway, I gotta weed the corn, been neglecting it lately."


In the burning sun of a Sierra Nevada July, Gerard scraped out irrigation furrows with a hoe made from an old street sign, his mind just barely ticking over as his body worked automatically. Gradually a roaring sound filtered into his consciousness, starting faint as a gentle wind but then building to a level of noise he hadn't heard since the bombs dropped.

Whirling around, he caught a glimpse of rocket blast just before the engines cut out and the parachute deployed. An oddly-shaped lump of metal the size of a minivan (Hah! How long had it been since he'd seen a minivan?) drifted slowly into the forest just east of the Village.

He shouted for Sarah but she was already out of the house and running toward it. He sprinted to catch up with her.

"Is that TELEMACHUS? Why's it here? The hell's going on?"

Sarah kept running, not looking at him. "Sorry, Gerard, I had to de-orbit it before someone else realized how valuable it is. I mean think of the solar cells! And the metals, you can't get that poo poo up here in the mountains!"

"But we were finally communicating with everyone out there! There's a family up near Tahoe that wanted to come join us!"

"Doesn't put food on the table. Our batteries are getting worn out, and if any more people show up... Look, somebody else was going to figure out the orbital controls sooner or later. Now let's go!"

Gerard slowed, dropped to a walk. Sarah ran on unheeding. She's right, he thought, but--contact! It had been so good to read those voices, to know that other people remained.

"God drat it," he muttered softly, but he jogged after her anyway.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

crabrock posted:

I bought a banner and we haven't had any new people yet. what the gently caress, non-existent new people :mad:

wizards were a pretty major enticement, at least in my case

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

I'm in

Welcome to Voidmart, I love you.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

1120 words

Our eyes met. He gave a slight lift of the head, a twitch in my direction. My reaction was swift, practiced, and decisive. I crossed the intervening distance and--

"Welcome to Voidmart, how may I help you?" I asked.

"Uh, yeah, where's the pharmacy?"

We were one aisle away from the pharmacy, and in fact if he'd looked just to the left of my head he would have seen the massive "PHARMACY" sign on the wall. But people get confused in big stores, and this particular store doesn't help. A massive dome really does stand out, sure, but it plays hell on the floor layout and makes it surprisingly hard to get your bearings.

I deployed my professional direction-indicating gesture, opening my hand and holding it so the fingers were aimed at the PHARMACY sign without actually pointing. Corporate policy recommends we refrain from pointing.

"You'll find it just over there, sir. Have a Voidtastic day!"

I turned to the shelves beside me for a quick neatness check. Everything looked good, except one row of canned beans. I stepped closer. Each can had a pile of beans sitting on top of it, cascading over the sides onto the shelf and floor. I picked up one can, knocking off the beans. The can was empty, but still completely sealed shut. All the rest were the same way.

I dropped the empty can with one of those touched-something-creepy full-body shudders. Weird poo poo had been happening for a few weeks now; at first, when it was just simple stuff, I assumed the stockboys had been loving around--shuffling DVDs on the racks, flipping every other greeting card backwards. However, corporate policy dictates that employees follow the laws of physics, and I couldn't see how a stoned stockboy could get the beans out of a can without opening it.

The nearest phone was in Jewelry. I called for a cleanup, then leaned on the counter to talk to Rosa.

"This is getting too weird. I've seen a dozen hosed-up shelves since Monday. Maybe it's a poltergeist," I said as she straightened the earring display.

"Bullshit!" she snorted. "What kind of ghost would mess around with beans? There's no such thing as ghosts. A person is doing this; you think maybe Management is running some sort of weird test? Remember when they dimmed the lights just a little every day?"

"Yeah, and the only guy with the guts to mention it gets promoted to shift supervisor for 'taking initiative'. Ok, I'll start keeping track--maybe there's a pattern to figure out."

So I made a drawing of the store. I marked where the beans escaped the cans, and where the teddy bears fused together, and where all the DVDs spontaneously shattered. I mapped out where the underwear unstitched, and after some consideration I marked the spot where all the goldfish suddenly disappeared.

And what do you know, I figured out a pattern.

The weirdest stuff all seemed to center around... well, the center. Of the store. In the exact middle of Voidmart's dome-shaped building is another little dome. Corporate policy states that employees are not to interact with the dome, which the employee manual calls the "projection unit", so we put some shelves in a circle around it and left it alone.

I went to the projection unit for a look. I couldn't see any doors through which Voidmart morlocks could emerge to mess with my shelves--just the same smooth white surface as always, with a gentle humming noise like an air conditioner.

Then the gentle humming became a lot less gentle. As it pitched up to a sharp whine, I saw a rack of ties twenty feet away suddenly twist into knots. Ten feet away, a dozen umbrellas popped open and flew away. Immediately to my left, bottles of aftershave disappeared one after another in a slight blue glow.

If this was some sort of test to find the next supervisor, I was happy to stay a lowly part-timer. I spun on my heel and tore rear end for anywhere else, but I didn't get more than a few steps before it caught me.

I was stuck, couldn't move--believe me, I tried! I thought of the way the beans had been pulled out of the cans and hoped the same thing didn't happen to my guts.

It felt like the building around me "snapped", then I was surrounded by a different arrangement of shelves filled with merchandise I didn't recognize. Another snap, and I was still in the Voidmart dome but the lighting was a dim red and the customers I saw did NOT have the right number of legs. Snap, and it was pitch black except for some gently gliding lights accompanied by a disgusting croaking noise. Snap, and the building was empty except for big squishy jellyfish-looking things floating up near the dome roof, squawking and stroking each other with their tentacles. I closed my eyes at this point; corporate policy recommends against viewing distressing images, as our healthcare does not cover psychiatric care.

I didn't faint, I lost consciousness, ok? Anyway, I woke up back on the normal tile floor of my normal Voidmart. I wanted to go straight home with only a short stop at the liquor department, but before I could get myself moving, Security showed up and hustled me to the management suite.

Now, it's not that I'm afraid of management, I'd just prefer they didn't know I exist. They look weird and they talk weird, and actually that makes a little more sense now after where I've been. They tried to explain what happened; they used phrases like "entanglement problems with the Nega-marts" and "entropic abnormalities". The gist was that there's really only one Voidmart building, but it gets 'projected' into different locations in the universe--and in other universes. They seemed really insistent that I keep this under my hat, probably for tax reasons.

I told them a pay raise and a new position at the tire center (farthest point from the projection unit) would help me forget any OSHA violations inherent in accidentally zapping an employee through a dozen different dimensions and back.

So yeah, maybe the bosses aren't really human but who is? Metaphorically, anyway. I just stick to my lift in the shop, changing tires and installing batteries and staying as far away from the projection unit as I can. Besides, by projecting the same building throughout the multiverse, Voidmart saves big on construction, and they pass the savings on to YOU, the valued customer!* Have a Voidtastic Day!

*this statement is not intended to imply that customers have any monetary value. Voidmart is not responsible for any damages or injuries arising from Sudden Dimensional Existence Failure.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Last minute in because I think I can manage one this week after all!

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

The Swamp Mage
1024 words

With a disgusted groan, Har wiped black sludge from his face and shook it off onto the swampy ground, then dropped down to sit on a moss-covered log. His broadsword dangled loosely in his hand.

"These things really stink, you know? What did you call them, Vorkin?"

"Reanimates. Dead bodies animated to do their master's bidding," Vorkin answered, bending down to banish any residual magic from the corpse.

"Yeah, well, they stink. Couldn't he have found any fresher bodies? I mean what kind of a f-OOOF!" Har cut off with a short grunt of pain.

"You've really got to work on that swearing, Har," Salic said. He sighted down the shaft of an arrow, checked the point for damage.

Har snorted. "Easy for you to say, you get to just hang back and shoot them; I'm the one up there chopping bits off! Try not swearing when you're covered in rotten blood, swamp muck, and every other d-AAHHHHR!" He winced and rubbed his forehead.

"We'll get the geas removed as soon as we get back, I promise."

It had been two days and dozens of battles with reanimates since they'd left the town. Salic had pitched it as a quick little job: kill the swamp wizard, take his treasure, go get drunk. He'd even found an enchanter, Vorkin, to provide magical backup. They hadn't counted on the sheer unpleasantness of slogging through a swamp while fighting off rotten walking corpses. All three were by this point covered in a reeking combination of mud, decaying guts, and maggot-flecked flesh.

"Look at it this way," Salic offered, "At least the rations will last longer if we can't stand to eat anything."

The only response Har gave was a dirty look. He'd been in a foul mood since he'd been nearly run over by a high priest's carriage back in the town--his stream of profanity had been cut short when the priest put a divine censorship geas on him.

With a slightly impatient look, Vorkin pointed to the south. "Shall we continue? I think we're getting close now, I can feel his magic more strongly."

Har heaved himself to his feet. "Fine. Let's get out of this sh-UFFFF!"


In the end, the tower wasn't close at all. It took most of another day's travel to reach it; by that point, Har's already foul mood had reached astounding heights. The eventual appearance of the tower itself did not help matters.

"You can hardly call it a tower if it's only got one blo--umm, one floor!" Har exclaimed.

"A wizard's stronghold is always a tower, be it ever so humble," sniffed Vorkin, "My tower is, at present, a small cottage on the edge of Silverfeld."

Salic silenced the two with a wave of his hand. "Enough! We're here, let's get in there, crush this guy, and take his jewels!"

"Recall that my reward is his spellbook--you can divide the rest!" Vorkin said.

The trio opted for the direct approach and simply kicked in the decaying wooden door of the tower.

"SHOW YOURSELF YOU SPELL-SLINGING SON OF A MUDLARK!" Har roared as he charged into the dark interior. No response came.

Vorkin called up a light spell, illuminating the single large room of the "tower". No sign of the swamp wizard; the only furnishings were a table, a single chair, a bookshelf, and a lumpy bed.

Salic stalked into the room, scanning the corners for hidden doors, anywhere the swamp wizard might have hidden. He flipped back the tattered blanket on the bed.

"Ah! Oh... Oh." He looked in disappointment at the robed skeleton lying in the bed, all flesh long since picked clean by the rats of the swamp. His companions joined him at the bedside.

"Well, that was easy. Let's find this ba--errr, let's find his treasure and get out of here. I'm sick of this place already," Har muttered.

While Vorkin paged through the swamp wizard's spellbook, occasionally mumbling excitedly to himself, Salic and Har ransacked the tower. Their findings made a disappointingly small pile on the table.

"This is it, Salic? This is the great treasure of the Great and Powerful Mage of the Swamp?" Har's voice was strained from the effort of minding his language in the face of his rage. "A handful of coins, a cheap silver-plated dagger, and this imitation Hand of Glory? I spend three days killing reanimates, covered in zombie-slop so filthy I can't even eat my dinner, I wade through swamps up to my co--my waist, and I get this? This is BUL--OUUUUAAAA MY HEAD!"

Salic held up his hands placatingly. "Look, I'm sorry! This guy in the bar told me about this place, and then Vorkin said he'd heard the Swamp Mage had some really valuable stuff! By the way, Vorkin, you were really off on that part, not trying to point fingers or anything."

Vorkin looked up from the spellbook. "Oh? I'm sorry, I meant that he had something of value to me." He tapped the page in front of him. "Like this spell, for instance."

In a quick chanting rhythm Vorkin read the words on the page and flicked his hand at Salic and Har, who were whipped into the air and blasted back out through the door of the tower. They smashed down to the muddy ground outside, the impact momentarily knocking the breath out of both.

Vorkin's magically-amplified voice boomed from inside the tower. "I TAKE THIS TOWER AS MY OWN! I AM THE MAGE OF THE SWAMP! NOW LEAVE ME, O YE MORTALS!"

Salic and Har rolled over to face each other.

"Cut our losses?" Salic sighed, looking at Har in defeat.

"I NEED NOT THESE TAWDRY TRINKETS!" Vorkin shouted from the tower, as the scant collection of valuables scattered through the door toward the pair.

Har picked up the silver-plated dagger from where it had fallen and hefted it thoughtfully, glancing back at the doorway. Strange lights began to shine from inside.

"Yeah, forget this crazy son of a --" He caught himself just in time. "Let's get out of here. We're spending those coins on getting this geas removed, I hope you know that."

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

I'm in!

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Sitting Here posted:

•sittinghere> tdbot, a prompt for pham nuwen, if you could
TDbot> You need to deposit this money into your account. | Deposits by SadisTech -

I got so wrapped up in coming up with a story for my prompt that I forgot we were also supposed to write about robots.

This squishy meatbag has failed.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

newtestleper posted:


Christmas Invasion story. 250 words. I will give all entrants crits by close of submissions for the upcoming TD week.

We'll submit them here:

props to ravenkult for pointing me at that competition.

So given that the winner of the competition gets published by Apex at a rate usually reserved for first-rights publications, and given, should we put our entries in here or not?

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

The Man from K.R.A.M.P.U.S.

Edit: Removed contents because we're submitting these things.

Pham Nuwen fucked around with this message at 16:19 on Nov 5, 2015

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

I'll write a gripping story of the struggle against the evil R'publi-cans, $1000 practically in my pocket.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

newtestleper posted:


Christmas Invasion story. 250 words. I will give all entrants crits by close of submissions for the upcoming TD week.

We'll submit them here:

props to ravenkult for pointing me at that competition.

Yo I hope you're not forgetting your promises just because you got a shiny new title... You're in luck, though, they forgot to close submissions.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Crit for Newtestleper's interprompt story, God Bless Us, Every One!

Overall I liked it, there's not much you can say about 250 words but basically: the idea is cute, you realized it thoroughly enough that it makes sense. You said on IRC that it might not be close enough to the prompt but I don't think it's far off. I'd cut out the two lines "abandoned kittens" and "brussels sprouts" because neither particularly make me think of Christmas, and then you get 4 more words to put wherever you like prior to submitting to the contest.

Pham Nuwen fucked around with this message at 20:13 on Oct 26, 2015

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

HopperUK posted:

wtf what heathen country are you from where brussels sprouts aren't the poison of the Christmas dinner table?

It's lutefisk in my family, except we all kinda enjoy it anyway.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

I'm in, my verse is:

With a host of furious fancies,
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air
To the wilderness I wander.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

With a host of furious fancies,
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.

The Host of Fancies
1196 words

Tans rested his lance on his stirrup, pulling a waterbag from his saddlebag. He took a long drink and looked out over the wasteland ahead.

"I don't see anything out there. Villagers are always full of stories anyway. I say we go," he said, tucking the waterbag back in its place. "Host of Fancies, ha! I'd never heard of any such thing until yesterday."

The merchant, Olano, shifted uneasily on the seat of his wagon. "I don't know, they said it's hard to see the Fancies at all. They said you can't even see them sometimes until they're right behind you! Maybe we should go around, you know?"

"You paid for a four day trip. If you want to go the long way, it will cost more."

"Well, in that case, if you think we can make it, I guess we'll go," Olano said tentatively. "Hey, Fil! Wake up! We're going through, this is your last chance to get off."

The bard poked his head up from among the sacks and barrels in the merchant's wagon. "You won't be rid of me that easily. Besides, the girls in Haverport will love hearing how I braved the Host of the Fancies," he said.

They left the cover of the forest, following the broken, ancient road through the waste. The ground was dry, mostly flat, with small hills and boulders poking up from the plain in places. They rode for hours with no sign of the Host, only odd cries in the distance.

The forest on the far side of the waste came into view as they crested a small hill. The sight should have been a relief, but it was marred by the roiling clouds of dust directly in their path. At the base of the clouds raced a glinting, jostling, howling column of figures in distorted and grotesque forms.

Olano's thin face paled, his hands went slack and he almost dropped the reins. He cried out, "Oh Gods, it's the Host! They'll tear us apart! They'll eat our innards!"

Tans just lifted his lance and couched it under his arm. Meanwhile, Fil slipped off the back of the wagon and set off at a run, angling away from the road toward the scrubby hills surrounding them.

"It's been great, but I've decided to try something new! Good luck!" he called back over his shoulder.

Olano let out a wordless cry at this desertion. Tans gave him a sharp look. "You remember what they said. The Fancies will play on your moods, try to make you lose yourself to despair or joy or rage. We must resist," he admonished, and started off at a trot toward the horde. "Let's go. The closer we are to the edge of the waste when we meet them, the sooner we'll be safe."

The Host soon noticed their advance and wheeled as a group to meet them. They were led by a terrible knight on an invisible charger, who brandished a flaming spear--the villagers called him Mania. Bringing up the van was a grotesquely fat creature, Melancholy, waddling slowly along and crying piteously.

Raising his lance, Tans galloped straight for Mania. The specter dodged to the side with ease, waving his spear in a wordless taunt. Tans plowed through the other Fancies, but rather than continue on, he swung back around in a wide arc to charge at Mania again.

Olano meanwhile drove his wagon hard, trying to pass along the flank of the Host. As each one passed, he felt a different mood: rage, excitement, love, distraction, but he shook them off easily; all of the Fancies were focused on the fight ahead between Tans and Mania. Finally he reached the tail end of the Host. Melancholy, too far back to see the fight at the front, locked his gaze onto Olano, who dropped his reins and wept in sudden hopeless despair.

Tans' horse was frothing at the mouth by now with the constant exertion, and Tans himself was little better. He roared in wordless frustration as he charged Mania again and again only to have his attack dodged or deflected away. Finally he threw down his lance, leapt from his horse, and drew his sword.

Olano could barely summon the will to raise his head, much less drive on, but he grasped the only hope he had. From a secret pocket in his jacket he pulled a small pouch. He opened it and scattered the contents toward Melancholy. Precious gems glinted in the sun as they flew through the air, but Melancholy did not break his heavy-lidded gaze.

Fil dared a glance back as he ran. He saw Tans swing wildly at Mania over and over without striking, until finally he gave in, pulled a dagger, and slashed his own throat. Another glance showed Olano laying on the ground in the pits of despair, until Melancholy lifted his limp body and devoured him whole. With the others gone, the Host of Fancies began to swing around in pursuit of Fil. He tried to judge the distance to the edge of the waste, then he hoped he had judged wrong.

The Host overtook him less than half a mile from the forest. He was caught up, swept along with the rushing Fancies. A fearsome beast with slavering fangs and firey hair--Anger personified--carried him along, infecting him with a terrible rage. Fil tried to suppress the anger; he tried beating on the creature with his fists, but it only seemed to become stronger. As his vision reddened, he tried the only thing he could think--

He sang a snatch of the softest, gentlest lullaby he knew. Anger stumbled for a moment, just long enough for Fil to writhe free of its grasp. He sprinted a few paces toward the forest before being swept up by the spirit of Fear, but he pulled out his flute and started playing the bravest military march he knew. Fil felt his heart lift, and rather than dragging him deeper to the waste, Fear actually started to carry him toward the forest.

From Anger, to Fear, to Lust, to Disappointment, Obsession, and Disgust Fil was carried. At each passing Fancy he played his flute, declaimed poetry, even hummed a sad dirge when hysterical laughter threatened to choke him. Under the influence of his music each carried him a few steps closer to safety. Finally he was dropped, dusty and exhausted, at the forest's edge, just beyond the verge of grass that marked safety. The Host of Fancies thundered and roared and stampeded away back into the wastes.

Fil picked himself up and dusted off his tattered clothes.

"By the Gods, I made it," he muttered to himself. "I made it. I beat the Host of Fancies."

He stumbled along until he found the road again. "This will make the best song. They'll never believe it, but they'll love it anyway--how Fil the Magnificent beat the Host with the power of music!"

Limping along, already composing his new epic, he didn't notice the specter that had followed him out of the waste. Moving quietly, growing as it went, Pride stalked its prey.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

I knew I shoulda taken a left turn at ALBUQUERQUE

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Just wanted to pop in and say I hate you all, and that some of my DM choices were pretty surprising once I turned off judgemode.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Play this while you read my crits and reflect on why Gamera has abandoned you in your time of need:

Anyway, here they come. These crits were written stream-of consciousness as I read the stories. I had judgemode on, so I haven’t really tried to spare anyone’s delicate feelings. I’ve since added in the names so you can find your crit more easily.

One thing I’ve definitely noticed is that the best stories are using the monsters as a framing device to tell another story. The problem is that “a monster comes, wrecks the city, but gets defeated in the end” works a hell of a lot better as a movie than as a short story. You have to have more going on; see “Assumption”.

Parkour Lewis: El Cuco - Guadalajara, Mexico
First three sentences start off with ‘we’? Description of the creature is weak--it was “mostly shapeless” but also “seemed to almost have the form of some kind of animal I couldn’t identify”? “seemed”, “almost” “some kind”, “couldn’t identify”. Now its head is “almost wolf-like”?

The final third of the story is an odd place to put in characterization; you did a decent job establishing in the first paragraph that your character was into Mary but not sure if she reciprocated, and this further development isn’t needed. Cut out all the parts about how the protag had a crush on Mary, and just leave the last 2 sentences of that paragraph: “Mary deserved better than this, and as she shook uncontrollably in the bed of that pickup, I took her hand and tried to calm her. I didn’t know if I could be of any comfort, but at least I could be there.” Add in something about how she’s a good person if you have to.

Its hind legs appear more human now? And its head is bigger? So it keeps changing shape? Make that more apparent if so.

I don’t know what to say about the ending. El Cuco eats her, and for some reason he’s taunting our protagonist. We have no clue why he’s so special, or why El Cuco the monster that eats naughty kids would come after him, a grown-rear end man.

I’m in judgemode but I think this may be from a first-timer, especially because first-timers like to post early. It’s also full of first-timer giveaways, there’s a lot of words (adjectives and such) that could have been deleted. The story isn’t, like, incoherent, it’s just not very interesting. Guy likes Mary, takes her to Mexico, monster appears and chases them particularly, eats Mary, taunts protagonist, and leaves. Why? We don’t know.

Lower in the pack. Maybe DM but it’s not so offensive.

Screaming Idiot: The Perfect Man - Agra, India
Goddamn these are some stereotypical-rear end Indians. My wife is Indian, so I’m gonna judge this stuff mercilessly. You named the guy “King”, will this have some significance later?

Putting the romance in it is good, I assume you’re going for a Bollywood style thing; even a monster movie has to have a wedding in it!

Seems like they didn’t try very hard to convince him before dropping off the mecha-godzilla thing; “You are monsters” doesn’t necessarily preclude him going along with them.

“The CIA’s methods to fuse metal and flesh are not as… elegant as those” -- “Mr Bond, I think you’ll find there are certain… cliches… that must be observed?” Goldfinger mused with a smirk.

“the beast’s corrosive ate” -- corrosive blood? proofread, son.

So I guess the Islamic terror cell kidnapped Rajeed Gupta and forced him into a sort of Iron Man situation? And just like in Iron Man, they allowed him to build a man-shaped robot with zero supervision, despite it being haraam?

Why the hell would he send Priya to America when it seems pretty obvious he was fighting against a CIA kaiju just a minute ago?

Overall I liked the general concept, despite what my comments above say. The dialog is a little overdone, and I think you could have done something more interesting with the idea of an Indian robot; I’d have gone with mecha-Shiva, myself. Story structure is all there, I didn’t see any glaring plot holes, but on the other hand it’s just a scene from a movie: “go on my love, I’ll hold them off here”


brotherly: The Shovel Warrior - Eko Atlantic City, Nigeria
Ok we’re pretty clearly in some sort of ultra-capitalist future society. You’ve made that clear in the first few paragraphs without explicitly saying “In the grim capitalist future of 2050, there is only capitalism”.

I’m liking this so far, the kid who has to shovel monster guts but dreams of being the monster-killer instead. The monsters are created by the companies? A sort of bread-and-circuses thing?

I like it. It sets up an interesting situation and a plausible (in the context of the story) reason for these monsters to be attacking all the time. The instant you showed the ShovelSuit, it was sort of obvious what he’d do, but the execution of the whole thing was neat. I’d have liked a little more for the closing, though--did he kill that loving ape-lizard? Or did he screw up and fall down? Did you run out of words here?

HM candidate.

Jocoserious: The Other Uprising - Warsaw, Poland
Uh-oh, Jews in Poland. If this story ends with a Nazi kaiju I’m gonna recommend a DM.

A rabbi is a priest, not a preacher. Ah, now I see, he made a golem. At least it’s not a Nazi kaiju, it’s a… Kaijew.

Zeppelins were no longer in use by this time :spergin:

It’s not bad. I would have liked to see some more conflict in the characters themselves; Klopot makes a golem, it kills Germans, Klopot and Uli are both very happy. I think it may have worked better with a young rabbi making the golem and his older mentor advising against it--yes, it’s cliche, but it would give some more depth to the story as Klopot and his mentor argue, while the golem stomps Nazi and Jew alike in its rampage to the Parliament.


WeLandedOnTheMoon!: Detroit, Neon City - Detroit, Michigan, USA
You’re diving right into the Neon City thing and I’m digging it. Taxi driver is a classic lovely-future job (see: Fifth Element, Heavy Metal, etc.) that really fits the genre (Is neonpunk a genre? I think of it as cyberpunk in a sort of Neuromancer/Blade Runner environment)

I forgot for a second that this is a kaiju story, hell. And it’s a BEE KAIJU story which really owns. You better make this good… is this you, RedTonic?

“Down the street a man is speared on a monster’s stinger while the creature feeds on its spread innards.” His spread innards, not its. One more proofreading pass would have really helped this story, it’s the small things like this that break my reading flow.

Magenta and Kinsey both get spacebee pollen on them, I hope somebody fires this gun or Chekhov’s gonna be pissed.

Well, I enjoyed the feel of the story. The ending let me down a bit, but you portrayed a cool neonpunk Detroit throughout. Liked the bees too; having more than one monster makes it easier to keep the threat level up without explaining why the monster is always chasing your protagonist.

possible HM

Guiness13: The Fall of Palembang - Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia
Ok, established a reason for our rich guy protagonist to run straight into danger--his wife and daughter are there.

When the guy had to decide between going to the hotel to save his wife, or the Menpora to save his daughter, I really had to stop and think for a minute--it wasn’t super clear why he was trying to decide between the hotel and the bridge, because you only mentioned that the Menpora was located right by the bridge.

You could say “one of them shot to *her* feet”, “their feet” just sounds weird.

This story is competently written, in that the sentences are formed right and the punctuation works, but the actual content doesn’t do much for me. The city doesn’t feel very well developed beyond “has a river”, and I didn’t have much reason to care about any of the characters. The part that should have been really dramatic--when he had to decide between his wife or his daughter--was barely there! He just looks back and forth, says “Damnit!”, and moves on.


Broenheim: The Last Death in Deadwood - Deadwood, South Dakota, USA
“No such thing as monsters,” what do they call that? When somebody says something so incredibly obviously false?

Ok mom’s really sick, and she’s doing that movie thing where she pretends nothing is wrong and everyone’s an idiot for trying to help her.

Could have used a better description than “he thought of that monster lumbering over the house, and stepping on it, splinters of wood flying through the air.”

So you wrote a sad story about a sick mom and a dead dad on kaiju monster week. It’s a perfectly competent sick mom/dead dad story, and I do appreciate an attempt to go beyond “Godzilla really stomped the poo poo out of that city!” but honestly you could have replaced the monster with a wildfire and had the exact same result.


Thyrork: A Childhood Monstrosity. - Bartin, Turkey
Too many stories start with “Pain,” imo.

“The illumination didn’t help improve the state of the room none either.” What the gently caress is this.
I know Turkish people can be blonde, but when I see blonde I definitely don’t immediately jump to “Ah, he must be a Turk!” Also, Turk should be capitalized throughout.

Although you are telling the flashback in past-tense, his wife would have said “It’s too hot”, not “It was too hot”

Is this a giant hermit crab that lives in a shipwreck and shoots the cannons somehow? That’s pretty awesome.

“it was the only one I remember”, this is not in dialog, pick first person or third person and stick with it. Also, “the beach fled in horror”? The very sand on the shore ran inland?

Do recorders make a lot of noise?

You missed an opportunity here, a HELL of an opportunity, in that you appear to be describing a pair of crabs making a nest, but you don’t have Charles say that he managed to escape because he’s a marine biologist and recognized the behavior or whatever.

This story needed a hell of a lot more editing. It also needs to tell us more about those drat crabs shooting cannons, and why exactly the Turkish government is treating the only survivor of a disaster like a criminal. Is he a genetic engineer working with a secret UK government weapons lab? That would be a reason.

Low, maybe DM but we’re still early.

Entenzahn: The Fish and the Barrel - Fort Bragg, California, USA
Is this a garbage monster?

People need to stop killing daughters or putting them in danger just to goad the protagonist into action. Try a son, try a best friend!

I assume the monster regarded him, not regaled him, since it doesn’t seem the talkative sort.

I don’t get the ending. The monster seems to be the personification of the pollution of the sea, coming to gently caress some poo poo up with the humans. Then Robert says “I didn’t do that, none of us did” when clearly that’s false, I mean, who the gently caress threw those six-pack rings into the ocean? A goat or something? Especially when his job was apparently ferrying tourists back and forth to a literal landfill, the glass beach (people dumped glass bottles there, eventually they wore down into pretty glass sand).


docbeard: You Are Alive - Dikson, Russia
Pre-reading note: Heh, Dikson, it sounds like “dick”.

Oh poo poo it’s the alien from that one Star Trek TNG episode! SPACE JELLYFISH

I don’t have a lot to say, really, except that it could have used another proofreading pass. I’m not in love with the dialog, but it’s functional. It’s also hard to walk that line between having your characters sound like Russians speaking English or just having everything in perfect, normal American English because they’re actually speaking Russian and we understand through the ~magic of fiction~.


Benny Profane: Sir Donald Aberfeldy presents: Long loving Title - Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo
Mmm, glad I just opened a bag of chips in time to read about putrid entrails and goopy innards.

Cut-rate David Attenborough over here. You switch into a sort of dry Colonial Britain voice when navigating Sir Donald and it works. I think it would work a little better if you weren’t Lovecrafting it up with squamous and rugose descriptions elsewhere, for a little more contrast.

Ah, it’s a crab that lives on fart gas! Oh, later on the General even says exactly that.

I don’t know that “ornery” really fits the character of Sir Donald, maybe “unpleasant” would be a more voice-appropriate choice.

I feel like you had a good time writing this in a particular style, and I’m gonna give you lots of props for using all the 50-cent words you used *correctly* rather than just sprinkling them around haphazardly. That said, the story goes like this: crab comes out, Sir Donald runs away and finds the military dudes, Sir Donald suggests a solution, they implement it, it works. We didn’t really care about the cameraman who died, because he was hardly a character. There’s not really any conflict--after the initial tsunami, Sir Donald doesn’t seem to be in much danger, and nobody ever stands in his way, everything he says they should do gets done immediately with no arguments, etc. Now, replace “Good heavens” at the end with a really loving good pun or joke, and all is forgiven.


Sitting Here: Salamonster - Valleta, Malta
There are many places in the story that would have made better starting points. Honestly, I’d consider cutting out everything up until “While Stella and Clarkia had a quiet argument on Valletta’s busiest street, a monster was waking up.” Don’t just drop in with that giant salamander in sentence 1 and then not actually get to it for another 8 paragraphs.

“The faces around Stella all seemed bovine and idiotic, now that she wasn’t seeing them through her camera app, their cheeks flushed and their eyes lolling in their heads.” Those foolish sheeple!

I think the idea of a monster formed by the current zeitgeist has been done plenty, but it’s still a cool thing if done well. Unfortunately, two unlikeable people save the day with loving Twitter. And what the gently caress does it mean for “UN helicopters” to “douse the thing with tanks of scalding latte”? What loving universe is this set in, where tourist brochures calmly advertise occasional monster rampages and the UN fights fires with coffee?

DM for Twitter

Obliterati: Desperate Ground - Vijayanagar, India
I honestly don’t know what the first paragraph means, except that the protagonist’s dad went to China and brought back something. Oh it’s the Art of War.

Are you calling the people of Vijayanagar “Nagas” to foreshadow the creature being a giant snake? Because it’s obviously a giant snake as soon as he sees the marks on the ground, and having the word “naga” put in your head over and over does nothing to delay that realization.

Ok so the snake isn’t a surprise, but I still dig this story for a couple reasons. The style conveys a certain tone without being so overdone as to be hard to read, which is nice. You also wove together the story of the protagonist’s father, the Art of War quotes, the actual historical Islamic invasions of India, and oh yeah that giant snake into something that was coherent and worked.

High middle.

Grizzled Patriarch: Garugon Rises - Natchitoches, Louisiana, USA
A monster who just wants to be loved / not be alone… it’s a first among these stories so far, and your descriptions are bringing it out nicely

Welp that didn’t last long, nice destruction though.

Short and sweet. Is this Grizzled Patriarch? Your poo poo seems to tend toward high-quality brevity, and that’s what this is. I like that the monster hurts itself as it destroys the town; it’s not invincible, just really big and strong. Hurting itself in its rage makes it very human. If you told me this was a Twilight Zone episode, I’d believe it.


Fumblemouse: Assumption - Ghandruk, Nepal
Ok it’s about Buddhists but then, what else even goes on in Nepal? Better this than a yeti.

Bibek the Abbot is imagining killing Ratnamara… that sounds like something he’d be warned about, especially when Ratnamara is basically shouting out Buddhist quotes that say Bibek sucks.

Ok that was actually pretty cool. Until Ratnamara said, “Do not assume you will recognise your own Nibbana”, I had absolutely no suspicion of how it was going to end. It was something different than the usual and I really dig this.

Post-judgment note: crabrock pointed out this skirts mighty close to “it was all a dream” but it was done a hell of a lot better than most “it was all a dream” stories so gently caress crabrock.


Killer-of-Lawyers: She Who Fights Monsters - Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
Ah, a bunny, huh? If you make any Monty Python jokes I’m pushing for DM

“The rabbit lay just outside a vast chasm that was dug from the very rock of the mine itself.” This sounds really awkward, ought to re-work it.

I don’t know what happened in the rest of the story. Yes, I’m in a rush to get all this judging done, but honestly I read it twice and I don’t know what happened after they dropped the bombs. And Then Woods Was A Monster? Some sort of monster with vines that come out of it? Oh, Woods, it’s a loving tree. Why did she change into a tree, besides puns? What happened to the rabbit? Where did this bear come from?

The first half is pretty good, but then it all just goes in a place that perplexes and frightens me. Yes I know she who fights monsters becomes monsters etc.

Ok, StealthArcher explained this, I still don’t think it works. Were we supposed to google that the mine is full of a super-deadly contamination, and then make the leap that rather than poisoning all the wildlife it’s turning them into monsters? And that Woods survives a direct bomb strike only to turn into a tree an hour later?


Kaishai: Left at Albuquerque - Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Ok I assigned this one to you so 1) I know who wrote it and 2) you better not gently caress up because this is my town. Pull any Breaking Bad poo poo and I’ll cut you.

Oh yeah talk petroglyphs to me. I’m not sure what you mean by the “woman his own size sits on the bank with her feet in the Rio Grande. Her pale Spanish face and obsidian hair remind him of peoples he saw on his last waking. Skirts of cream and rust trail behind her, ribboned with asphalt and tarmac”. I’m hoping it becomes clear as I go on.

Well, ok, so the monster fights the personification, the genius loci, of Albuquerque? But what is the monster? I feel like you’ve successfully included the high points of the Wikipedia page on Albuquerque, and I especially like the bit about sending off 4 balloons (the traditional start of a balloon fiesta day), but there’s got to be more to it. Maybe I’m just too dense to understand what the monster represents, which is why I’m giving this a neutral score--my own stupidity should never be discounted.


Thranguy: Three Monsters - Puerto Varas, Chile
I like the opening for “like an idiot’s guide to a military salute.”

Rocket launchers are recoil-less weapons U MOTHERFUCKRE!

How much did you like Stross’s Laundry Files novels?

Because *I* like the Laundry Files novels, I liked this, although it needs editing. For instance, I’d cut out the whole bit where Ace visits the protagonist in the hospital. It’s not necessary and I think the story is better without it. I imagined him as some sort of R. Lee Ermey character screaming at this tied-down dragon that may or may not have any connection to Communists; frankly I want the natives to be right and for it to be just a natural occurrence that some nutjob CIA type has obsessed over.


Ironic Twist: Vici - Alexandria, Egypt
It took me a minute to figure out this is set in the modern day, I thought it was going to be about the original destruction of the library at Alexandria.

Ok so let me get this straight: prior to the destruction of the library, somebody wrote a papyrus document that described how to summon a giant monster that will, as it wrecks the city, also transmit the lost knowledge of the as-yet undestroyed library?

The guy keeps saying “all roads lead to Rome” but that doesn’t really have any relevance to anything. If there’s an allusion being made, if the monster is meant to represent something (the Roman Empire?), then I didn’t catch it.

Middle-low for being muddled

sebmojo: Black Yolk - Coatzacoalcos, Mexico
You forgot to finish “layers upon layers of oil-wet”.

This needs to be edited. Preferably while editing you should insert a story somewhere. The scene at the start where the oil leaks and the guy runs for a gas mask was nice. Unfortunately all the rest was just “monster appears”, with no further conflict or much of anything beyond descriptions of destruction.


kurona_bright: Lost Cause - Sealand
This one should be interesting, I forgot that anyone even got Sealand.

“He pulled one of the detonators he'd used last night and” And what? That’s it? He pulled one of the detonators he’d used last night and here’s a million dollars… and here’s your own spaceship? I mean what the f--Oh I get it… They got him! Somebody stuck him with a stake through the heart! Oh, this is so sad. Oh Trevor, I pine for you!

I didn’t care much for this story. Arnold’s a wuss, Richard falls off, they run away and the monster finishes wrecking poo poo up. Needs editing too.


spectres of autism: Unique - Bern, Switzerland
2 sentences in: is the monster a mountain? It’s a mountain isn’t it.

Yeah it was a mountain. This is a weird story but I kind of like it. It’s the second story this week that makes the “monster” a relatable thing, and it’s good. Unlike many stories this week, I don’t regret reading it, and I’d probably show it to someone who wanted to see an unorthodox short story.

Mid-high, maybe maybe maybe HM.

Lazy Beggar: Umbra Vesuvii - Pompeii, Roman Empire
Olympus, Styx, Hades, these names are all from Greek mythology, not Roman.

Anyway, I think the story is interesting. I’m not a student of history, but the way you wrote the protagonist is neat because it shows the sort of magical thinking that I would expect from that time and place, to such an extent that I find myself questioning how much the “monster” and Hephaestus even existed, or whether the monster was a poisonous ash cloud and Hephaestus a thunderstorm that drove the cloud away. On the other hand, I hesitate to call him the “protagonist” (that’s another Greek word, by the way) because he doesn’t really do much besides watch the action unfold. Maybe Hephaestus is the protagonist and the monster the antagonist?


Pham Nuwen fucked around with this message at 15:06 on Nov 10, 2015

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

the moral of the story is that, given the tiniest amount of power possible, StealthArcher finds a way to abuse it and be a prick

where is the prompt?

brawl me you hack

this is gonna require StealthArcher to actually write a story. He did that, once.


Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Interprompt: in a world where metaphor are all literal, one man struggles to complete simple tasks.

"I don't know what's worse," he said, poking gingerly at his bandaged nose, "I mean, if I do my work quickly, this loving grindstone appears and rubs half my face off. On the other hand, sitting around with my thumb up my rear end is pretty drat unpleasant too."

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