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Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In if that's ok.

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Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Goodbye, Nuclear Holocaust.
1498 words

The winter solstice was due and Chicago was cold. I sat at my desk sipping a glass of gin while I stared at a note. It was written in a scrawl I didn't recognize.

Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
Yet there is little color where the heart of the lion rests.
Where the muses sing beside the river, come and see.
Bald Yak


Bald Yak. It couldn't be him. I had used to call James my Bald Yak. Had I mentioned this name to anyone else? I must have, but why would they want to pretend to be James? To hurt me? I didn't know.

I was pulled from my thoughts by a bang. Another bang, louder. And another. Until a snap and a crash. Then the patter of feet. I had visitors and they had forgotten how to knock. Who were they? Why were they here? They couldn't know my plan, surely?

Someone entered my office. Only his eyes were visible. In one step he reached my desk and tried to grab my hair. I pushed him away and snatched my glass, long empty of gin, and shattered it over his head. Blood flowed past his eyes. I shoved past him and ran out of the apartment past another stranger.

I headed towards the stairs. No good. Hurried footsteps were climbing them. So I headed to the roof. More footsteps, but this time they were coming up the fire escape. I looked for a way out. The closest roof was ten feet away. Could I make it? I didn't have a choice. I took a deep breath, ran, and jumped. I landed awkwardly and limped away looking back to see the silhouettes filling the roof. I hobbled down the fire exit and I hailed the first taxi I saw. Where could I go? Where would I be safe. "To the Langham hotel."

***

Inside the hotel I booked a room but I had no intention of staying there. I headed south across the Wabash Avenue bridge. I walked for a few more blocks and entered the third hotel I saw. I paid upfront and headed to the bar. I needed to think. And in order to think, I needed gin.

As the bartender poured my drink the only other person in the bar decided to befriend me. I don't know if my current disheveled look turned him on or if he was just too horny to care.

"You're Eleanor Grey, right?"

"No."

"Yeah, you are. That famous brain scientist. Thanks to your Mood-Setter my life is so much better! My wife no longer bothers me at all."

He tried to shake my hand but I was in no mood for his poo poo.

"You're mistaken. And will you gently caress off so I can enjoy my gin."

And to his credit, he did gently caress off.

I don't know how many gins I had knocked back but I was brought out of my swirling mind when the bartender asked me if I was a fan of Monet.

"You've been repeating a quote he said. 'Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.' I don't think he said the rest though."

Monet! Whoever had written that note wanted me to go see a painting by Monet. But why?

With a little on-line research I easily figured out the rest of the note. The painting was one of thirty Monet had painted of La Cathédrale de Rouen. The paintings weren't overly colorful and Richard the Lionheart had been buried there. The note seemed childishly simple now. But two lines remained to decipher relating to the place of the painting.

Before I could finish my investigation my phone rang. It was Andrew, my chief systems engineer. My eyes widened. Was this what I had been waiting for? I walked away from the bar. This was a private call.

"I have the codes, boss."

"How..?"

"Well, we had to use the full system running the algorithm in parallel to try every possible key to decrypt the three-pass protocol they were using. We only just had enough computers. Now we can-"

"Erase humanity," I interrupted.

"Yep. USS Ohio is heading towards the Barents Sea. We can use this to convince the Russians that they are under attack. Once they are convinced they will not hesitate to use their three-thousand plus warheads to attack America. The first will be from the array of RT-2PM2 Topol-M's stationed in Siberia. We can divert the missiles to wherever we want once they have been fired."

"I'll call in a few days and I'll let you know when I'll be in to use the key. Until then do nothing."

"I can't even if I wanted to, boss."

I checked my pocket. The authorization key was still there. Without it we couldn't implement the plan. Before I used it, I needed to do one last thing. Find out who was pretending to be James and why they wanted me to see a loving Monet painting. I headed to my room and as I passed the TV 'Incident at Langham Hotel' flashed on the screen.


***

It was a cold, bright day in Paris when I arrived. The painting was at the Musée d'Orsay which sits right on the southern bank of the river Seine in the heart of Paris. I headed straight to the museum and easily located the paintings. There were three of them here. I studied them at length hoping not to draw stares myself. Eventually I noticed a different color on the side of the nearest frame. It was another note written in the same untidy writing as the first one.

Dr. Haywood,
Porton Down,
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory,
Salisbury, U.K.
L414, B2.


No more coded messages then. But I had no idea who Dr. Haywood was. I would be damned if I wasn't going to find out.

Back at my hotel I called Andrew. He was unhappy when I told him I would be away longer. I needed some information to get into Porton Down, especially if I forsook the main entrance.

***

My target stood at the entrance to building B2. I tapped the guard's back. He turned and I punched him square on the nose. He crumpled to the ground. The door opened with his security badge. I dragged him into a room and took his uniform, rifle and security badge.

I reached area L4 without passing anyone. L410, L411, L412. A guard came round the corner. He would have passed me whether I liked it or not so I continued past L414. As he reached me, he nodded. Before I nodded back, he squinted at my name tag. poo poo! I cracked his head with my rifle and dragged him into L414.

"Eleanor!"

That voice! It couldn't be.

"James?'" He looked exactly the same.

"You're Dr. Haywood?"

"Yes. Easier to entice you with a bit of intrigue."

"Why?"

"Well, recall the work we did together on pain receptors. I continued our work studying people who don't feel pain: congenital analgesia. And now we can control pain."

"You managed to find the base change needed in the DNA?"

"Yes, yes we did. We can suppress pain but we can also amplify it. That is why I need you to take the data and spread it. If only a few governments know of this then the potential harm is too great."

This was huge. I could turn off suffering and then turn off mankind. James handed me the data. But then the guards arrived.

***

A loud bang woke me. I was alone, tied to a chair and my head was ringing. I sat still. What had happened? Was I about to die? I needed to get the key to Andrew somehow. Another bang rang out. Then another. Five in total. Silence. A woman then rushed into my room. Her eyes were red and puffy. She untied me and helped me to my feet. We passed through a room bloodied with dead guards.

"James? Where is he?" I gasped.

"Dead."

"Oh James... You worked with him?"

"Yes. And he was my husband."

***

We escaped from the lab to the nearby town of Salisbury, a small town with a cathedral of its own. I sat on a bench in its shadow, James' latest wife beside me. I had a call to make.

"We need to hold off using the codes, Andrew."

"No can do, boss."

"Can do, will do. You need my authorization key."

"Thankfully, we have it here. Your drinking buddy at the hotel swapped yours with a useless key."

"You? And my apartment?"

"Yep, I suspected you would change your mind so -"

"No! We need to wait. I have something that will make our plan more humane."

"That makes no sense, Eleanor. So goodbye."

I placed the phone on the bench and held the data in my hand. I stared at it. After a moment, James' widow challenged the silence.

"What have you done?"

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In. And can I get flash rule please.

Also, I want to try and do some crits so I'll do them for the first two who ask this week.

Edit:

A crit for Masonity.
Anyone else?

Lazy Beggar fucked around with this message at Jun 17, 2015 around 16:12

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Masonity posted:

Double Oh Heaven
(1479 words) A time limit with deadly consequences must factor

“There I was, strapped to a table, a lazer [Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, I don't think it can be spelled with a z] slowly making it’s way between my legs, ready to slice me in half. Pretty basic stuff really. Naturally my training kicked in. I kicked my heels together, producing a small mirror from my left shoe. I deflected the beam to cut my wrists free, then began untying my legs ["untied my legs" might be better]. That’s when I first heard the countdown. Doctor Severus had activated the self destruct on the sub. I had two minutes to find the second escape pod. Nothing I hadn’t done a thousand times before. That rotter though [I did laugh], he’d jettisoned off [launched?] the second pod before escaping himself! Ah well, disarm the self destruct. Plan B. I worked my way to the control room, taking out a few oblivious flunkies on my way. [I smiled] One minute left, the darn thing announced. And what do I find there? [where? might be just me but after talking about flunkies and reminding us of the countdown, I wasn't clear that this was the control room] He’s only ripped the reset button out the wall! The man’s an all round bad sport. Of course I got straight to work trying to wire something together. Thirty seconds, thirty drat seconds… Just twist these two wires together and… What do you mean am I sure I want to cancel the self destruct program? Press the second button to confirm? What second button? Ten seconds left? I couldn’t find it anywhere. Five seconds, and Five seconds. I was in a real panic. I mean,[necessary? I was always out before they started with individual numbers. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Then everything went white... And that, my good fellow, is how I died. Done up like a kipper by that dirty rotter Doctor Severus.”

“I see”, my interviewer nodded, his face still [necessary?] shrouded in shadows “So, it’s clear you was were an exemplary agent, and indeed If this chap is meant to sound like a typically pompous British fellow, I didn't get that, but I guess that is what the otherwise unnecessary "indeed" is for, maybe "an exemplary agent indeed!" or in a similar emphatic use maybe "an exemplary agent. Indeed!" I hate that actually. Anyway, don't listen to me, especially on dialogue. I avoid it, I'm that bad with it.] you died in active duty, made your way back to base and was were recognised by one of our sensitives. But are you truly so committed to Her Majesty’s service that death itself couldn’t keep you away? Or are you simply after revenge?” I'm not sure I like that the afterlife is as partisan as this life, but I like what this adds to the story. I have one concern though about the ending when Bane forsakes paradise. The paradise aspect comes out of nowhere. Maybe something earlier on where Bane is asked whether he wants to face judgement or continue serving the Queen otherwise I think having some sort of redemption part at the end will jar. I could be wrong.]

“Well Sir, I really don’t know.” I said. “Ever since the whole incident I’ve felt empty. Less of a person. But I was always a loyal agent, and I can’t see what else I’ll do.” [I thought this response was a little limp considering he is being offered to be a ghostly agent. I like the uncertainty he has but I feel that overall it lacks the sort of emotion that someone would have upon finding out that there is life after death and he can continue being a spy. But then maybe he is just so accustomed to the spy/espionage game that this doesn't even surprise him.

“Luckily, we have the perfect test.” He said, stepping out of the shadow. Ah, I’d seen this guy around before. Way above my security clearance. Rumour had it he ran his own spook squad. “Your mission is to shadow your replacement. He’s being sent in to take down Doctor Severus and avenge the legendary agent John Bane. If you are only in this for revenge… Well, you’ll just fade away once it’s over. You get your closure, [Oh, I guess this is the mention of redemption. I didn't get that the first read through] we get to cross Doctor Severus off our list. Everyone’s a winner. If, however, you still feel you have more to offer, even after you watch the light go out in his eyes… Well, MI-0 may indeed have it’s newest agent. Welcome to the team, Bane. I hope we’ll be seeing more of each other. Please excuse me if I don’t offer to shake, it’s rather disconcerting when you chaps go all incorporeal on me!”

---

I spent the next week in the training room, getting used to my new incorporeal form. I could move objects; I found I had a particular affinity to lamps. I learnt to project myself, to allow non-sensitives to see me for a few fleeting moments, although this always left me feeling drained. Unfortunately my replacement, Mark, wasn’t a sensitive, so passing on information was a no go. He also wasn’t going to be told that I’d be along. I wondered how many times I had a ghost buddy watching out for me during my missions. I'm not sure this is needed, this question is sort of implicit throughout the rest of the story. It was to be quite a straightforward affair though. I don't like this sentence I’d already retrieved all the info, all he had to do was go in, kill the good doctor and on the off chance he had actually started the whole Doomsday Clock thing, well, either he fixed it or I’d suddenly have a few billion new friends. This needs to be expanded. In the last passage, the message was to avenge Bane but now the doctor has an evil plan to boot!

The mission started fairly predictably. Mark spent a while in a casino cozying up the Doctor Severus’s blonde, leggy assistant. I assume there was some sort of seduction, but please; I have some class! [Did you mean "Have some class!" or something along the lines of "At least I had some class!"] Either way, [necessary?] he managed to get an invitation on board the doctor’s new yacht. A few hours later we were out at sea, in international water. Mark decided it was time to strike.

I followed him as he made his way through the ship. Occasionally I’d make the odd noise, knock over a vase or slam a door to distract the guards, all the time wondering if some of the extraordinary luck I’d had in the past had been equally provided. Again, I think this is better left unsaid but that is just an opinion, especially considering the juxtaposition of this thought with an uncanny piece of luck.] On a whim, I decided to scout ahead to the control center. Habit forced me to cup my ear to the wall, even though I knew I could slip through it with ease.

“his way to us right now. [This confused me. I thought it was a typo or a piece had been cut out by mistake, then I realised it was Bane dropping his eaves in the middle of a sentence. I think you write something like "—his way..." ]The pills I slipped into his drink should be taking effect fairly soon though.” Doctor Severus’s assistant said. “Now Doctor, remember your part in this. The board are putting a lot of trust in you! We need to send those British fools a lesson. He’s to survive, but barely. Bane was a hit job, this is merely reputation enhancement. We want their eyes on you. When the program is complete, you’ll be duly rewarded.”

I gasped, stepping into the room. [Is the gasping due to his attempt to become visible to "unsensitives" or his surprise that Mark is badgered? Sounds odd that he would gasp into a room intent on saving the day. Not overly heroic.]

“Bane? You’re… But… Aren’t you… Dead?” She asked. Then the fear melted from her face as the realisation struck. “A spirit?” She made a strange gesture. “Avenus Munchus Sentinus!” Dark hands grasped at me, seeming to rise from the floor. “Poor poor Bane. First the good Doctor here killed you, and now I get to rip your soul to shre” [Again the break in dialogue confused me. I think you do the same thing here, using the em dash, someone who writes could confirm this. So it would be "and now I get to rip your soul to shre—" and I wouldn't have a line break or new paragraph so the interrupting action comes immediately after the break. Also I found her transition from terrified to terrifying odd. But I liked that there was a character on the other side privy to the ghostly services.]

The door crashed in. Mark strode over the bodies of unconscious minions. [Almost sounds like he did it knowingly which presumably isn't the case] “Sorry Jane, you were fantastic, but the Doctor and me have to discuss business. Leave now and I won’t have to feel bad about killing y… y… you” he said, his gun suddenly shaking in his grip. Her concentration broken, I felt the hands slip from me. I knew there was nothing I could do for Mark though, so I fled. [I like this scene, the oblivious Mark worked well for me with the tension.]

---

I hid in a wall just outside the control room, realising I had a choice to make. [This confused me. We don't find out until near the end of this paragraph that she had left.] The beautiful, dangerous Jane, if indeed that was her name, who seemed to be pulling the strings. Or my killer, Doctor Severus. I’d only be able to tail one of them. Every mote of my soul wanted me to stay. Take on Severus. Avenge myself. That, and stay away from Jane. Quite frankly, she scared me. What was that? And what would have happened if Mark hadn’t burst in? My training won out though. I silently stalked her, keeping myself concealed inside walls as often as possible. She headed up onto the deck, then lowered herself down into a speed boat. I glanced around, noticing only one over other speed boat and a handful of life rafts. Every last bit of my strength went into snapping the lines on the other boat before I slipped into the engine block, and stowed away. [I don't like this sentence very much. It confused me. Did he slip into the engine block so he could run it with his ghost powers? ]

A few minutes later I heard her call out. I counted to ten, then followed. [Again this confused me. I thought initially that she was aware of him following, but it turned out she wasn't. Are they not in the open sea? Where did he wait while he counted?] She had driven to a second, larger yacht. [Might have been clearer to start here.] I started searching the place, looking for some information on her employees, or partners. Then I spotted her. A glass of champagne in her hand, and what looked like a live feed of Doctor Severus’s boat on a widescreen TV. I watched as Mark managed to regain himself, then escape an ingenious trap involving band-saws, a pool of piranhas and a couple of poisonous snakes. He escaped the torture room, found his way onto the roof of the yacht, spotted Doctor Severus slowly floating away yacht awaiting rescue, then assembled his sniper rifle. I like how you show here that it isn't luck on Mark's part as Bane has failed as his guardian angel. Did Bane's guardian fail him? Did his failure mean that his luck had been due to a ghost helping him? Moments later a red dot appeared on the good Doctor’s head, then expanded rapidly as a rather fast moving piece of metal traveled along the light’s path.

There. I’d won. Revenge was mine. I could move on. In the distance, I saw the light. I turned to walk towards it when I heard Jane scream with rage. “This won’t do! That agent can’t survive!” she went down on her knees, pulling at a wooden panel.

The light was pulling me away. I took a step towards it, then glanced back. A rocket launcher. She was struggling to get it out of it’s hidden compartment.

It called me home. No more pain. No more work. Eternal rest. Paradise. [As I said above, this came out of nowhere for me. Might have just been the word "paradise" that I found a bit too jarring but the whole light malarkey seemed a bit out of place. Maybe using the man in the shadows words would have been better. "I felt myself fading away... blah." Who knows. I do like that he forsakes the easiest route though.

But no. I couldn’t let Mark die. I turned around. I rejected the light. I am an agent of MI-0. It didn’t take much to smash the lamp into the back of her head. It took a lot more to bring it down again, and again, as her pretty blonde hair turned damp and red. [I like the ending. The visual violence added a darker component that wasn't there throughout most of the piece and it stands out all the better for it.]



I really enjoyed your story. I chuckled and smiled at parts. I didn't intend to go though it as thoroughly as I did. I was just going to highlight the few typos and formatting issues I had seen but it proved easier to put my thoughts in that format too.

The opening section is the strongest part and the rest sort of rides on that, which is fair enough. Some of the action is described confusingly so it brought me out of the story. But I liked the narrator and felt like Bane was a fairly well developed character in my head. Jane's character was interesting but I think the reveal that she knows about the spectral force is a little off.

Anyway, I hope this crit isn't too shoddy. I thought I'd crit this story as it is already up, but I'm happy to do your next submission too.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


I offered to crit a couple of submissions this week. Already have Masonity signed up but anyone else want one?

If there are no takers, I'll just choose another one randomly.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


SlipUp posted:

I'm interested in one as well.

Done.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Mercedes posted:

I'll take one. Any suggestions or critics welcome

Grand. So for this week that's:

Masonity
SlipUp
Mercedes

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Clap Happy
1199 words
Something turns up in an unexpected place.

Last week in Austin I walked past a comedian and I didn't want to kill him.

***

When I was younger people used to say, "You should try stand-up comedy, Frank!" So one day I did. My signature sardonic humor fell flat on the stage. Afterwards I brooded at the bar guzzling beer. The comedian who came on after me, with his "women are so quirky" jokes, was a hit. I hated his gesticulating hands. I loathed the laughter. And all that loving clapping!

I saw him perform often after that. I never tried again. I hated him. He didn't know me. But I had a joke to tell: after another successful set, I killed him. This amused me greatly, but I couldn't share the joke. I took his money and buried him. As I dug his grave, it dawned on me that I should take some sort of trophy like the pros. So I decided to take his hand. I only had a small knife, so soon I regretted my decision when I saw that I had only begun to dent the bone. However, I persevered.

I happily continued in this vain for a few years.

One day I was putting away my latest trophy alongside the previous twenty-five. This one was a left hand. I alternated which hand I took each time. I bet this would have baffled the forensic psychologists something rotten. The truth was I liked to force the them to clap when I retold jokes of their previous owners. How I laughed at those clapping hands. After a forced round of applause, I was arrested by a sickening hollow feeling expanding in my stomach. I grew to know this as loneliness.

The feeling developed and a more conventional life began to seem appealing. I remembered the company of others more fondly than I had before. I wanted a job, a wife, a family, and perhaps even friends. So after my thirty-first kill, a pleasingly arbitrary number to end on, I shaved off my beard, moved to the east coast, and got a job.

I became a bank manager. There was a remarkable amount of cross over between my new job and my old one: both needed strong organizational skills and a ruthless lack of empathy.

I actually enjoyed my work. A mortgage refusal in the morning could keep me happy all day. And how I laughed in the evenings when recalling the confused faces of the paupers when I told them I would allow them to accumulate more debt when they failed to make repayments on their current debt. The hands clapped at that one. I had garnered a small group of acquaintances, but my belly still felt empty. I wondered if a family might fill it.

Before I started courting potential brides, I cleared out my hands. I crossed ten state lines with a full trunk and buried them in Nevada, not far from Reno. I returned east with tears in my eyes. A year later, I got married.

I had married a waitress. She was impressed with my job and the money that came with it. I think having a house to move into clenched the deal. She rarely made jokes and she laughed at mine. She wanted to continue working so we hired a cleaner. I had my normal life.

But in only three months my wife showed her true self. I think she felt less impressed by me the more she saw me naked. She was always screaming about nothing. She hated me and regretted marrying me. Any attempts to rectify her mysterious problem compounded her rage. Then one day she told me she was pregnant. The random shouts stopped. And after the birth she was tolerable again. They are quite quirky after all.

After seven years of seamless fatherhood and cold marriage, I lost my job.

We had some money saved but I needed to find a new job otherwise we would soon default on our mortgage. My wife no longer held me in any esteem at all. She had began to enjoy her derisive commentary of my life a little too much. I missed my hands.

One day our kid ran into the kitchen panting, "Dad! Dad!". Against my better judgment, I begrudgingly inquired what he wanted. "Listen to this joke I heard at school!" Now the loving kid was grinding me down. I sighed. My wife chipped in at this point, "Sigh, sigh, sigh. Can't you do anything other than sigh? Words maybe?" I had a retort primed, but then there came a scream from the garage. "Go see what Mary is screaming about, Frank? Can you do that?" I sighed again then went to the garage. The cleaner was backing away from something. It was a hand. A familiar one. Twenty-six, if I wasn't mistaken.

I convinced the cleaner not to notify the police and tossed the hand in the trash before my wife could see it.

The next day I managed to get Mary sectioned. We couldn't afford to pay a cleaner anyway. It was terrifyingly easy to get her into an institute. Although, Mary had put on a convincingly hysterical performance: she was genuinely confused whether she should mention the hand or not and so kept changing her story.

I no longer slept. It had taken a while to sink in but when it did, it sunk deep: someone must know about the murders.

Hands started turning up everywhere. Hand eleven in the fridge. Six in my socks' drawer. It was remarkable that my family never saw them before I did. So remarkable that I started to suspect my wife was privy to something I was not. But who in their right mind would stay in a house with someone they knew was a killer? And also keep your child in the same house! Was he in on it too? Was the boy making jokes to goad me?

Three days later on a Sunday afternoon, I was disturbed by a loud scutter as I tried to sleep on the couch. I got up and approached the kitchen cautiously. Another hand! The first one I had taken. I went to pick it up. It scuttled away! What was this madness! It went out to the backyard. I followed it, intent to catch it before my wife came downstairs to see what the commotion was. In the middle of the lawn, it stopped. It turned and as it did, thirty more hands came out of the foliage. They began to clap in pairs. Clap. Clap. Faster and faster. Clap. Clap. Clap. I ran into the house chased by the menacing applause and straight out of the front door and down the street.

***

I've been living in Texas since then. I haven't seen any more unexpected hands nor have I heard from my family. I think the two problems sorted each other out. I still carry an emptiness with me, but it is quieter than it ever has been. I enjoy my solitude again and sometimes I can even walk past a comedian and not want to kill them. I only have ten hands so far.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Broenheim posted:

Offering two line by line crits for any previous week as well as three line by line crits for this week only. This offer will still stand after judgment so even if you don't want it now, you can ask for it later. Please specify which story you want critiqued.

If you don't mind doing my last story, Clap Happy, I'd appreciate it a lot.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011



Thanks a lot. I very much appreciate the advice.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In with Contempt.

And I'll have the other crits I promised up sometime soon.

Also, thanks to all those who critiqued my last story.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


look against, fade together
839 words

Adam awoke sitting on the floor in front of a mirror. He stared at the reflection. He couldn't see his face. It was a blur, churning shades of dark gray. The rising light of the sun crept through a gap in the curtains and worked its way across the mirror. He saw the image of his blood-smeared waxen skin and the matted hairs on his body. He saw the reflections of the blood-soaked fibers of the bed sheet, the splinters of the broken closet, and the shards of the shattered bulb. But his face was a dark blur and he had no memory of what it should look like.

He felt for his face. His hand found his nose, mouth, eyes. It was all there but it felt different. His fingers fell into hardened trenches which spanned across his face. What was wrong with him? Where was this place? Adam's heart rushed blood through his body as his eyes scanned the room. Clothes spilled out from the closet behind the bed. He climbed onto it and placed his hand on someone else's ankle. It was cold and rigid. His hand recoiled from it, and he screamed. What about my ankles, do you like them? His body folded to the ground and he wept.

He sat for some time, lost in his head. He then took a deep breath, traversed the linen coffin and gathered some clothes. He pulled on a pair of jeans. And my thighs too? “What are these thoughts? Where am I?” His shouts echoed unheard throughout the apartment. “Who am I?”

He ran out of the bedroom and down the corridor into an open plan kitchen and living room. He saw many framed pictures of the dead man and another man who he guessed was himself because always the face was blurred. What did he have to do with this dead man? He must have known him. The sight of his face and his arm embracing his body soothed Adam. It evoked a warm belief in him. A hint of hope. But why couldn't he remember him? And why was his face blurred even in the photos? He gazed at a vase beside one of the pictures. It was filled with tulips. Do you think they're pretty?

He hurried out of the kitchen and found the exit. But the door was locked and no keys were in it. “gently caress! gently caress...” Adam kicked the door. He returned to the kitchen and slammed the drawers as he rummaged through them all. He found no keys. The windows maybe, he thought. He opened the blinds. Only the first floor and the window was ajar. Hope! But it would not open any further. Adam heaved until his veins revolted and the room pirouetted. He fell into a chair. A breeze came through the opening. It caressed his neck, and he rose from the chair and upturned the table. Used plates and cutlery rebounded off the floor and sunlight flickered across a stack of photos as they too fell. He collected them from the floor. The first photo was of two men embracing. Neither face was blurred out. One was the dead man. The sight of the second face made his teeth grind and his breath deepen. Do you like my face too? The stack of photos became more and more graphic in the sexual acts they portrayed. He gasped as memories harassed his mind. “Sorry, Jeff. I'm so sorry...” He then sobbed, but now with arid eyes.

He had lain on the bed, almost naked. "Do you like my face too?” Adam had screamed.
“Yes, I love your face.” Jeff searched for solace on the floor, his eyes avoiding the face he claimed to love.
“Then why did you gently caress him, Jeff? That ugly loving stinkyhole.” Adam revealed a knife. He pushed it against his own face. "Will you love me if I am ugly too?”
“Please don't do anything stupid, Adam. I do love you!” Jeff raised his hands, urging Adam to drop the blade. “I don't know why I did it. I'm so sorry.”
“You've done it before, I know! And you'll do it again!”
He swept the blade across his face, causing deep gashes. Jeff launched across the room. He tried to grab the blade. They wrestled for the knife, destroying the closet and breaking the lampshade. During the struggle the knife had slipped and plunged into Jeff's stomach. Adam had sobbed while he died in his arms. Then he had taken the blade to his own wrists.

Adam stumbled back to the bedroom and gazed at the face of the man he had loved. He turned to the mirror and saw his own marred face. He fell to the ground and wailed until exhaustion arrested his awareness.

Much later, Adam awoke sitting on the floor in front of a mirror. Adam stared at the reflection. He couldn't see his face. It was a blur. And he had no memory of what it should look like.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Mercedes posted:

Born 2 Serve: Lob Harder

Plot: Death tennis with explosives. Humans suck at it, but the protagonist wins for humanity for the first time with the use of some electromagnetic doping.

I forgot I was reading for almost all of it. However, two parts reminded me.

quote:

When I connected with the metalloid ball, my suit discharged a magnetic field that held me in an immovable stasis for a full second. Kana had told me it allowed the opposition some time for positioning while it charged the ball so it repelled from the racquet exponentially faster.'

These two sentences together confused me when I first read them. I think it is saying that the new suit holds him in place and then accelerates the ball back at the opponent. But the recollection regarding Kana's explanation of the suit confused me into thinking the electromagnetic wizardry causing him to stop was advantageous to his opponent because they could position themselves better as he was suspended. I think this is my fault though...

And I'm not entirely sure how it ended. Well I know the human won, but the end of the match wasn't clear to me.

quote:

'When the ball hit my opponent’s racquet, I dove to the side.'


Up until the end I thought that a point was lost if you were hit. Is that right? But there doesn't seem to be another hit after this line and the insect dies. And the stadium implodes at the end and there is cheering? The stadium imploding confused me the most.

There was some flesh to all the characters. I rooted for the protagonist, without loving the chap. I guess I would be pretty grumpy if I was a gladiatorial slave in the future. Kana serves as a nice balance to him with her jolliness. And the other two work well opposed to him, the dick-ish superior being who you'd want to loose against anyone and the jovial, carefree commentator cracking jokes as the protagonist's life is on the line.

World-building was done really well. Probably the strongest part of the piece for me. Remarkable for so few worlds to create a sci-fi setting and make me feel that this death tennis spectacle is something that could exist.

So there's my tardy crit. Probably not much use to you. I enjoyed it and just highlighted the only bits that I tripped up on to offer something potentially worthwhile.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


SlipUp posted:

[The Last Hunt]
1498 words

The job hunt was not going well. Benjamin Savos sipped on his coffee and browsed his email inbox from the laptop on the kitchen counter. [This sentence is long, a little dull and doesn't flow well to me.]He only had one real offer, and Joanna wasn't going to like it.[Hey! An offer means the hunt is going splendidly. drat, an interview would be positive enough.]

"Hear back from anywhere?" Jo sleepily asked, as she wiped the sleep from her eyes.["sleepily... the sleep" I guess this just got missed in the edit, changing it from a tell to show.]

"Not yet." He fumbled for the right words. [I think the tag should proceed the dialogue here or write "Not yet..." suggesting he was going to say more but the words would not come. Otherwise it reads to me as a quick response, a lie at that, and then the narrator saying he was fumbling for words. That seems disjointed.]

"You're always welcome at the bakery." She reiterated.["reiterated" suggests she has said it in this conversation already rather than in a previous one, maybe? Not sure.] Ben's gaze fell on to the mounted tiger above the fireplace, then on the .45 Marlin Guide Rifle in it's display case underneath.[This does some evoking, a see something of Ben's character here without you saying, "Ben used to hunt, but now he misses it.] He let a moment pass.[ Not sure this is necessary as his response doesn't follow from her last statement and there is a pause already in the prose from your description of his gazing.]

"Another mauling outside of Crescent Valley." He remarked nonchalantly.

"That's terrible."

"Yeah. They're worried about a repeat of last season, especially after the search party didn't turn anything up. Mayor Tarant put up a private contract on the man eater." Jo furrowed her brow.[Less confusing to have a tag for a certain character with their own dialogue]

[Jo furrowed her brow,] "You promised you were going to look for a real job."

"I am baby, but there's nothing for me." His empty inbox hung in the back of his mind. "I only have one skill to offer." He walked over to Jo and touched her arm. Their eyes met and he couldn't help smiling. His hand trailed down her arm and came to rest caressing her baby bump. [Hmm, ok. There is a baby something a little more to avoid being mauled for. But "came to rest" and "caressing" don't make sense together. "He sat down running."]

"The pay is good Jo, it's a hundred thousand dollar contract.[For a bear? How many babies did it maul? Suspend belief, Lazy. ] I know what I said but this way we can pay off the house. Settle our business loans. Our baby girl can pick her college." Joanna looked away. [Again with Jo acting after Ben talks. Potentially confusing, certainly jarring.] Ben's heart sank.

"You lied to me Ben. People have died out there. [I think "there" needs to described more for this not to sound melodramatic] What if something happens. We'll have no money and you'll be leaving us alone." She sighed.[I get that she is annoyed, upset, frustrated. The sigh doesn't add anything.]

"I'll bring back up. I'm sorry. I need to do this. For us. I love you." [Pretty confused by this. "I'll ring back up"? But then that would suggest he wasn't going to do it, which is contradicted by "I need to do this."]

"I love you too." [I think for this to be less jarring it would work after the next line]

Ben smiled and kissed her. She put her arms around him. They rubbed their noses together and smiled. [Rubbing noses is permissible in private, which this technically is I guess, but I found it upsetting to read.]

["I love you too."]

Four days later, Ben found himself on a ridge overlooking the village of Crescent Valley. Fog spilled from the skeletal forest of Lodgepole Pine as if it had been eviscerated. His guide Leonard was inspecting a splash of blood in the clearing while his tracker Charlotte was skirting the edge of the forest looking for any trace of the bear. [ He has a guide and a tracker. What does he do, pull the trigger? Couldn't one of these outdoors folk do that?]

"Tarant pointed us in the right direction." Said Leo, "I still have my doubts about a black grizzly." [Line break. And also it is "... right direction," said Leo. " I still have... "]So did Ben. The attack was [had been] witnessed by the victim's friend. His description was outlandish. A monstrous black grizzly that stank like rot with knives for teeth.

"Poor kid got carried away. He just watched his friend die." Replied Ben. ["...die," replied Ben." Then line break.] Leo stayed silent.

"Over here!" Called Charlotte. Ben started over to her when he saw what she did[confusing... "As Ben walked towards her, he saw what had caught her attention." Maybe? I don't know.], a tree missing a huge swath of bark.

Ben nodded and glanced at the setting sun. "Okay, let's set up camp here for the night. Leo, find us some firewood." He signalled affirmative and headed into the woods.[As long as Leo doesn't tell Ben to gently caress off, I think it is clear that he is going to get the wood without you explicitly telling us.] Charlotte grabbed Ben by the arm.

[Charlotte grabbed Ben by the arm.] "I need you to be honest. Why did you call me? You could've picked up any tracker in Bumblefuck[eh? Maybe at a push "Cres-stinkyhole." But I hate that pun. And myself.] Valley other there. Why wait on me and my red eye flight? [What?] Is this about what happened in India?"[I guess it is.]

"No, I called you because of the bear hunt we did in Russia. I need the best. I need someone I trust." He could[n't] help but notice the way she laughed.[Derisively? Seductively? Manically? I am going to guess seductively.]

"Good, because India was a mistake. [Not seductively? He just liked her laugh?] It makes sense now, you need someone you trust so they don't steal your trophy." [ That dialogue sounds odd.] She walked past him and smacked his rear end loudly. [I am getting mixed signals] His train of thought derailed.[Maybe make the metaphor less cliche.] It wasn't true but he didn't have the words. He sighed and pulled out his tent. [I wonder if this is a joke because it sounds like he is going to pull out his dick because of the potent sexual tension, otherwise it seems like he has pocket tent that he whips out, flicks, and tosses towards the ground. And then there lies a tent to sleep in.]

Their luck with the weather ran out two days later during the early night. The skies wept and the winds howled. The trees groaned and swayed around them. Charlotte took point and Leo was rear. [It sounds like he is being taken on an adventure holiday by these guys.]They would usually have set up camp by now, but their game was close. They could hear growls in the distance. The beast was angry. Search parties would not dare get this close, the bear was not used to being chased so tenaciously. Its frustration was a poignant hook in an orchestra of raindrops splashing. [I don't think I know enough about music to understand this metaphor.]They had to close the distance, but doubt was creeping into Ben's mind. Where [Were] they tracking a beast or following a trail of bread crumbs? Each time they reached the point of the last sign, the beast was always just a bit deeper into the veil.

Now it had been some time since the last crumb. [The bear was leaving crumbs?] Did they lose the trail, or had they already received their final warning?

Thunder shook the ground they were standing on, but there had been no lightning. A foul odour filled the air. [Good to be thinking of the other senses.] Ben turned to look at Leo[.], but [T]here was something behind [him] Leo. A shade from which no light escaped reared up and roared. The man-eater. Leo's face went ashen. He reached down, holstered his pistol and slowly turned around. The bear was too close. As soon as Leo looked it in the eye it lashed out with one of it's [its] power[ful?] paws and [had] unhinged Leo's jaw clean from his face. Charlotte screamed and Leo fell back grasping at his gaping maw. Ben saw the man-eater advance on Charlotte, so he frantically shouldered his guide rifle, flicked off the safety and fired. Too hastily, the shot went wide [That was all he was here for! To fire the loving gun!], but it caught the bear's attention. It turned to face him and broke into a loping charge. [Doesn't really capture the immediacy of the situation.] Ben's heart rev'd[hmmm] in his chest as he ejected the spent cartridge and chambered the next. He tried to bring it to a firing pose but the man-eater slammed into him at speed. The shot escaped into the canopy and the rifle tumbled into the darkness as Ben felt a sickening crunch in his chest. [Again, long sentence but with not much rhythm to it.] His breathe burned through his chest like fire. He gasped weakly and all he could feel was the warm moist breath of the bear on his face. Suddenly[more sudden without the adverb] several shots rang out. It was Charlotte.

"Come on you fucker, try a real challenge." [Charlotte making GBS threads on Ben when he is down! I like that.]The bear yelped[yelped doesn't seem right for this monstrosity], it had been struck. Charlotte took off away from the bear, but up the mountain. The man-eater was close behind. Ben regained his breathe and followed gingerly.[Are you trying make Ben seem like a cowardly, useless twat? It isn't a bad thing if you are.]

As he reached the edge of the clearing he saw the bear catch Charlotte. She cried out as it ploughed into her from behind. [Is this another sexual phrasing joke?] Before she could regain her composure, the bear sunk his teeth into her calf. She screamed out. Ben ran out into the clearing.[A smidgen less craven.]

"Let her go! Charlotte!" The fire raged in his chest, his breathe robbed him of all his strength. His rubber legs were catching him as he fell forward, nothing more. The bear was dragging her now. There was a black pit at the other edge of a [the] clearing. She saw him running toward her. He was desperate for her to say something, to tell him what to do. [really? This hunter is not very convincing.] His heart stopped when she spoke out.

"Run!" The bear had began pulling her into it's den. "Go!" And she disappeared. Ben ran faster. He could make it, he could still make it.

He reached the edge of the den and hesitated to catch his breathe. He choke back air that reeked of rotten eggs. He steadied himself on the wall of the entrance and his hand came back black. An old coal mine. The kid was telling the truth. He stared into the abyss, straining his ears for any signs of life. He yelled for her. [You tell us then he does it in the next line.]

"Charlotte!" Nothing. The silence hung out in the air, and was punctuated by a gunshot.

"Charlotte!" The ground trembled underneath him. This was different. Then he realized, that smell wasn't rot. It was a methane build up. ["At room temperature and standard pressure, methane is a colorless, odorless gas." - wiki] His hand... Coal dust. He looked back up into the abyss as the gates of hell unfolded behind him. At first it was the size of a lit match in the distance. Within seconds is was a crashing sea of fire. [Was it just a random combustion? If so what was the coal dust hands bit about?]

"poo poo!" The geyser flung him into the air. Time seemed to stand still. Ben could only watch the stars pass through his fingers as the pillar of fire challenged their supremacy of the sky. He would never remember returning to Earth.

***

It was the ugliest pelt anyone had seen, but repentant, spilling all it's former secrets. It's fur was as black as night, dyed that way by coal dust. It's teeth were jagged blades, many were broken, some down to the bone. The man-eater was a survivor. It had sustained it's jaw injury from another hunter's rifle. Derived of the means to catch it's prey [by humans, presumably, but this needed to be expanded on], it turned to humans. The cub pelt beside it attested to it's success. [I'm shocked that any part of the belt survived the challenge to the stars.]They would be his last, but his attention always fell back to the mounted tiger above his fireplace. He lingered for a moment until a baby's cry shattered the silence. He smiled sadly and went into his daughter's room.[So he is sad that he will never hunt again? Why is Charlotte and her laugh never mentioned again? Or how she saved his life? The only mention is...]

"Little Charlotte, did you miss me?" [It is not ok! Not ok to name your child after a previous lover, even if they've saved your life. Not ok!]

My comments above might seem harsh at parts, but well... they are harsh. I don't mean to be a dick. I liked the character of Charlotte, especially the part I highlighted above when she mocks and saves Ben in one snap. Ben was at least somewhat developed, but I don't rightly understand his arc. He misses hunting, so he hunts a monster, people die like his wife said they would, and he still misses hunting but at least now he will look after Charlotte #2. Not ok at all, by the way! The plot is ok and I felt some regret about the death of Charlotte, less so for Leo. I felt more disappointed that he was thrown away so easily. He was just a character to collect wood while Charlotte and Ben flirted and to die as soon as the bear turned up so we knew business was about to be done.

There are some confusing sentences. I highlighted some of them. Also, maybe look up how to handle dialogue tags and what-not. I am not an expert, but I think you've got some punctuation mistakes and some pacing problems.

Less conjunctions in your action sequence.

Overall it wasn't bad. It had characters, it had a protagonist who wanted and got, a climax. The execution let you down a bit. Some grammatical mistakes and typos. The typos actually made me feel bad because they are annoying and avoidable with a decent edit, but I am bad for them myself. Sorry anyone who has/will crit my stuff. Anyway, I would suggest trying to move away from well established imagery and develop your own stuff a little more.

I more or less enjoyed it. Definitely a better conjurer of tales than me.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Bugger it. I'm in.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


look against, fade together
839 words

Adam awoke sitting on the floor in front of a mirror. He stared at the reflection. He couldn't see his face. It was a blur, churning shades of dark gray. The rising light of the sun crept through a gap in the curtains and worked its way across the mirror. He saw the image of his blood-smeared waxen skin and the matted hairs on his body. He saw the reflections of the blood-soaked fibers of the bed sheet, the splinters of the broken closet, and the shards of the shattered bulb. But his face was a dark blur and he had no memory of what it should look like.

He felt for his face. His hand found his nose, mouth, eyes. It was all there but it felt different. His fingers fell into hardened trenches which spanned across his face. What was wrong with him? Where was this place? Adam's heart rushed blood through his body as his eyes scanned the room. Clothes spilled out from the closet behind the bed. He climbed onto it and placed his hand on someone else's ankle. It was cold and rigid. His hand recoiled from it, and he screamed. What about my ankles, do you like them? His body folded to the ground and he wept.

He sat for some time, lost in his head. He then took a deep breath, traversed the linen coffin and gathered some clothes. He pulled on a pair of jeans. And my thighs too? “What are these thoughts? Where am I?” His shouts echoed unheard throughout the apartment. “Who am I?”

He ran out of the bedroom and down the corridor into an open plan kitchen and living room. He saw many framed pictures of the dead man and another man who he guessed was himself because always the face was blurred. What did he have to do with this dead man? He must have known him. The sight of his face and his arm embracing his body soothed Adam. It evoked a warm belief in him. A hint of hope. But why couldn't he remember him? And why was his face blurred even in the photos? He gazed at a vase beside one of the pictures. It was filled with tulips. Do you think they're pretty?

He hurried out of the kitchen and found the exit. But the door was locked and no keys were in it. “gently caress! gently caress...” Adam kicked the door. He returned to the kitchen and slammed the drawers as he rummaged through them all. He found no keys. The windows maybe, he thought. He opened the blinds. Only the first floor and the window was ajar. Hope! But it would not open any further. Adam heaved until his veins revolted and the room pirouetted. He fell into a chair. A breeze came through the opening. It caressed his neck, and he rose from the chair and upturned the table. Used plates and cutlery rebounded off the floor and sunlight flickered across a stack of photos as they too fell. He collected them from the floor. The first photo was of two men embracing. Neither face was blurred out. One was the dead man. The sight of the second face made his teeth grind and his breath deepen. Do you like my face too? The stack of photos became more and more graphic in the sexual acts they portrayed. He gasped as memories harassed his mind. “Sorry, Jeff. I'm so sorry...” He then sobbed, but now with arid eyes.

He had lain on the bed, almost naked. "Do you like my face too?” Adam had screamed.
“Yes, I love your face.” Jeff searched for solace on the floor, his eyes avoiding the face he claimed to love.
“Then why did you gently caress him, Jeff? That ugly loving stinkyhole.” Adam revealed a knife. He pushed it against his own face. "Will you love me if I am ugly too?”
“Please don't do anything stupid, Adam. I do love you!” Jeff raised his hands, urging Adam to drop the blade. “I don't know why I did it. I'm so sorry.”
“You've done it before, I know! And you'll do it again!”
He swept the blade across his face, causing deep gashes. Jeff launched across the room. He tried to grab the blade. They wrestled for the knife, destroying the closet and breaking the lampshade. During the struggle the knife had slipped and plunged into Jeff's stomach. Adam had sobbed while he died in his arms. Then he had taken the blade to his own wrists.

Adam stumbled back to the bedroom and gazed at the face of the man he had loved. He turned to the mirror and saw his own marred face. He fell to the ground and wailed until exhaustion arrested his awareness.

Much later, Adam awoke sitting on the floor in front of a mirror. Adam stared at the reflection. He couldn't see his face. It was a blur. And he had no memory of what it should look like.

Lazy Beggar fucked around with this message at Jul 10, 2015 around 21:56

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011



Thanks for the crit.

I'm in again. Can I get a flash please?

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Sitting Here posted:

But really, the biggest problem was that lack of conflict. Alex is sad. Then she gets sadder. She has a brief moment of respite in the form of coffee, but it’s still all just pointlessly drab and depressing. At the end she is both sad and probably crazy. Not a super satisfying arc, IMO.

Thanks for the crit. Much appreciated.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Lord Drever's Cat
1495 words
A noble family pays you good money to locate their missing cat. You get nothing if it's dead.


A barren, flat landscape surrounded the town of Stromness. Except for one area; Binscarth Wood. A place the townsfolk avoided at all costs. Along a path in Binscarth Woods, a dwarf hauled an empty wheeled cage. She had light hair and wore a leather jerkin, dark woolen trousers, and sturdy brown boots. A short steel sword hung at her side and a round shield rested on her back. Her name was Angheor. Alongside her walked a wood elf. He was twice as tall Angheor and carried a crossbow slung at his hip, a bronze battle-axe at his other, and a kite shield on his back. He was clad in a bronze chain-mail vest atop a linen shirt and red cotton trousers. He was bald and half of his left ear was missing. His name was Hunllef.

“I knew this would be a waste of time,” said Hunllef.

“We just have to find its tracks again. It can't have gone far,” said Angheor.

“It can't have gone far in two days? Ha!”

“We saw tracks yesterday, Hunllef,” she said. “We'll find this cat soon, friend.”

“We better,” he said. “Hey! Hoel! Hurry up!”

Behind Angheor and Hunllef trailed an eight-foot tall orc. Hoel wore a dark orange robe and a pointed blue hat. He had a long, thin mustache. He carried a gnarled stick, too short to aid him as he struggled up the mild incline of the path.

“Sorry, I don't do much walking you know,” Hoel puffed as he spoke. “Any sign of that cat?”

“No,” Angheor and Hunllef said together.


They struggled on with Angheor and Hunllef taking turns pulling the cage. Hoel labored behind. Night came and filled the sky with a pale lunar glow. They made camp. Hoel tried to start the fire with his magic, but Hunllef grew tired of waiting and started it with a pair of sticks.

“Sometimes it just doesn't listen to me,” Hoel said.

“Great. Where did you find this guy, Angheor,” said Hunllef.

“He was the only remotely magical person in Stromness,” she said. “And we need magic to stun the cat, Lord Drever won't pay us for a dead one.”

“Oh!” Hoel said excitedly. “What are you going to use the gold for?”

“Whores and ale,” said Hunllef.

Hoel's mouth gaped. Hunllef and Angheor laughed together.

“But there aren't any whores in Stromness!”

“Plenty in Kirkwall though,” Angheor said. “But that's not how I'll spend my gold. I need it to pay a witch in Thurso to heal my father. He is very ill.”

“Not long for the world even with the witch's help, if you ask me,” Hunllef said.

“I didn't.”


As they sat around the fire eating dried meat and black bread, a star seemingly removed itself from the sky and drew closer to the camp. A bright white spot turned into a blue glow the size of a hand. It fluttered around their camp like a clumsy moth. And then it spoke to them.

“Help me please, my friend is in danger!,” it said. “My name is Ciniúnt of the Binscarth fairies. Will you help my friend? Please?”

Surely enough when Angheor strained her eyes she could make out the features of the fairy in the blue glow.

“What's wrong?” Angheor said.

“A giant cat is playing with her!” she said. “I fear she is going to eat her!”

Hunllef and Angheor rose together.

“Where is it?” Hunllef said.

“Follow me.”

The dwarf dragged the cage, and she and the elf followed the fairy. Hoel slowly stood up. Hunllef stopped. “Move, wizard!”


The trio followed the fairy, with Hoel lingering behind. They entered a small clearing. A colossal black beast was illuminated by a green glow held under its paw. The cat was almost as tall as Hunllef. It turned its bright yellow eyes onto its hunters and its bared teeth glimmered green.

“Lord Drever failed to mention his missing cat was so monstrous,” said Hunllef.

“Thank the gods the cage is large enough.”

“Wizard, make your magic listen and stun that cat,” the elf said.

Hoel sat on the ground hugging his legs and whimpering quietly.

“Angheor, next time I'll find us the magical help.”

“Lets get this done,” she said.

They advanced on the cat, and it left its green toy. Ciniúnt flew to the motionless fairy. The cat leaped at Angheor. They both tumbled to the ground. They rolled as the dwarf tried to disentangle herself. Hunllef attempted to grab the cat but couldn't find a way into the scuffle. He picked up a stone and threw it at the cat. It snarled. Hunllef ran towards the open cage. The cat chased him. Angheor rose. As the cat neared the cage, she charged. She sent the cat soaring into the cage. It crashed against bars and crumpled to the floor. Angheor slammed it shut. She slumped to the ground and sighed.

“Thank the gods.”

“More exiting without magic,” Hunllef said.


Ciniúnt thanked them. Her friend still lived. She showed them the shortest path back to Stromness. Hunllef had ordered Hoel to help with the cage so they hauled the cage together as Angheor walked beside the fairy.

“If you follow this path, you'll reach a fork,” the fairy said. “You must take the right path or you will find yourself at the Lake of Wasdale where the trolls sleep.”

Ciniúnt departed, and the party, tired but content, made camp.


They awoke not long after dawn. The path towards Stromness was lined with tall, lush trees. At midday they arrived at the fork. Hunllef asked which way the fairy had told them to go. Angheor pointed right. They pressed on. The sun set but they were eager to return with their prize, so they persevered.

Hours later, the path opened up and a large lake appeared. The water seemed black, the darkness emphasized by the bright reflection of the moon.

Hoel gazed at the lake. “The lake of Wasdale,” he said. “We should turn back.”

“This path takes us to Stromness anyway.” Hunllef whispered. “Just don't disturb the trolls.”

They continued but paused at each creak and crack. The path passed between the lake and lifeless trees. Worried, they searched for movement in the shadows.

When they reached the middle of the lake, the cat roared. It echoed amongst the rocks for an age.

“We need to hurry up! Now!” Angheor said.

Hunllef and Angheor dragged the cage as fast as they could. The cat growled. Hoel scurried in front of them. The end of the lake was no more than fifty yards away. The handle slipped from Angheor's hand. The cage slumped to the ground. Hunllef held onto his.

“Pick it up!”

She fumbled for the handle in the darkness.

“Quickly!”

She found it and pulled with all her might. They hurried. Hoel was now a step away from the forest. A troll surged out the shadows. He knocked Hoel to the ground. His head crashed against a rock.

The troll waved about his club. “Pozra hungry! Pozra eat!”

Angheor armed herself, sword and shield ready. Hunllef had his battle-axe in hand.

“Pozra not eat talkers! Pozra eat cat!” the troll said. “Move!”

They stood in front of the cage.

Angheor spoke softly, “You won't be eating this cat.”

The troll charged. He swung his club wildly. Hunllef couldn't raise his battle-axe in time. The club clattered against his thigh. The elf buckled and fell. The troll brought the club down from behind his head. The club rushed towards Hunllef's face. He rolled away and the club rebounded of the ground where his head had been. Angheor slashed at the back of the troll's knee. It thrashed at her. As she stumbled backwards deflecting each blow with her shield, Hunllef tried to work his crossbow. He lay on the ground working the clogs. He struggled to reach a bolt. The next strike shattered Angheor's shield. She screamed as pain seared her arm. She collapsed. Hunllef continued to fumble. The troll raised his club.

“Pozra angry!”

A ball of fire flew past the fight. And then another. Hoel stood, his face bloodied. He pointed his stick at the troll, but the fire expanded in all directions. It skimmed over Angheor and Hunllef as they lay on the ground. The troll howled as it was set aflame. It fell to the ground, its limbs flailing. Eventually he stopped moving. They stood around its smoldering remains.

“So you're not so useless after all, Hoel.”

The orc grinned.

“Thanks, but less chaotic next time,” said Angheor. “We need to leave this place.”

She turned towards the cage. “NO!” She fell to her knees and wept. Angheor saw her father dying. All that remained of the cat was its scorched corpse. Hunllef tried to drag her away, but she resisted. She ran forward. She held the Lord Drever's cat and sobbed.

“Angheor, if we stay here any longer, we'll soon be dead too!”

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


newtestleper posted:

Books week crits

Thanks. For what it's worth, I agree fully with you regarding the dull ending.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


docbeard posted:

In unrelated news, crits for the last of the (non-DQ) entries for Week #149 are here. Featuring critiques for SlipUp, Lazy Beggar, SkaAndScreenplays, Entenzahn, and newtestleper.

Thanks for the crit.

I'm planning on doing a couple for this week. Any takers?

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Broenheim posted:

Comments for Week 153 for People I Think My Judgenotes Weren’t Enough For .

Thanks again. I appreciate the feedback.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Ironic Twist posted:

WEEK 151 CRITIQUES

Thanks for the crit. Much obliged.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Bloody Cute
197 words

Frip was a mongrel. A Labrador mixed with something unknown. He had no neck, short legs and a gray beard. One day in the park he sniffed away at everything he passed. His owner sat on a nearby bench reading a newspaper. Frip shuffled about unbounded. His tail wagged faster than the wings of a humming bird as he took in the delights of the park.

He caught the sent of something interesting and waddled to a new bush. A blond bundle leaped out of it. It was the fluffiest golden retriever puppy. It jumped about and sprinted around Frip. Frip growled. He bared his teeth, though only a few remained. The pup pounced at him. It was too fast for Frip to respond. The pup ran circles around him. He growled louder. The pup pounced again. This time Frip managed to bite the puppy. Just as he did, the owner of the puppy appeared. The puppy was yelping. The owner screamed profanities and besought the assistance of Frip's owner. They both ran towards the scuffling dogs. The pup's owner tried to separate them. But Frip wouldn't let go. And the puppy was less golden, more ruddy.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In, please.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Sorry. I failed.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In. And I suppose with a

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Myopic Misery
954 words
Mom was right. It really is all fun and games until someone loses an eye. I hope she brings Jim back from the hospital soon.


The river jittered past me. Grey blocks jumped from one space to the next as my bionic eyes failed to keep up with life. My head ached due to the low frame-rate. I was still not convinced that these eyes were better than blindness. At least then my mind wouldn't be so cramped with jilted pictures.

I had feared returning to Earth. I thought my bionic nature would have distanced me from my humanity. I hadn't known what Mother would charge for my new eyes when she had taken me away. Mother had collected as many broken bodies as possible and melded a military with one task; prevent robots and humans from co-existing too well. Segregation. Mother wanted to maximise the efficacy of its industry. Mother thought that a strong stratification between humans and robots would do so. And I was to become a soldier of segregation. I do not know if I had been tampered with beside my new eyes, but I have never felt anger at being conscripted. I would go as far as to agree with Mother. Robots and humans should be kept separate.

Mother had sent me to B121, Blackwood Court today. A woman called Tracy Burch, unemployed and thirty-five, was living with a robot called Anson. He was a dock worker, a lowly drudge. I had decided to investigate the property during the morning when the wharf rat would be working and the woman on her own. That way I could arrest her before her cold lover returned and then retire him with ease.

I turned down a path and large granite blocks appeared before me. My head calmed at the sight; no movement to miss. I stuttered from one building to another so I could read to the numbers. Did Mother do everything so thriftily? Would it not have made sense to send someone who could at least read numbers easily? drat these eyes.

I arrived at Building B. I was almost certain it was a B. I climbed the steps and made my way to the elevator. A curse was on my breath but before I uttered it, the elevator asked me what flat I was visiting. Saved by automation. “121, please.”

I lifted my fist to knock. It hung at the door, and I gazed at the shape of the number. Why would she choose to live with this soulless simulacrum? Maybe she was imprisoned. I would give her the gift of doubt. I knocked. They sounded angrier than I had intended. My head pounded furiously too. The door remained closed, but a forum was opened.

“Who is it?”

“Are you Tracy Burch?”

“What if I am? Whose asking?”

“Mother.”

I could heard crashes from inside the apartment. I booted the door. On the third kick it crumpled down into the flat. On the far side of the apartment, I could see a human shaped blur near a rectangle with a different shade to the rest of the wall. She was trying to leave through the window. She was barely moving so I could see her better now. One leg dangled out of a window. She was failing to fit her second through.

“Stop now, and Mother might have mercy.”

“Mother doesn't know what mercy means!” Spittle splattered from her mouth to the floor. And she continued to struggle through the window. “You make me sick, working for that tyrant!”

I advanced towards her, ready to use force. Doubt had been extinguished. She gave up her tussle with the window and darted past me. I did not see her go past me, but I heard the patter of her feet. My slight delay in turning caused her to pause. Now I heard nothing. drat these eyes.

Then I heard the soft scuffle of her feet. But one moment she seemed to be on my left and then, without hearing her traverse the apartment, she would be on my right.

“Ha! Did they send a blind thrall?”

“No, I am not blind. If you come with me now,” I said. “I will not tell Mother that you resisted arrest.”

“You're too kind.”

She had made a mistake by goading me. I had located her position. She was only a few feet away.

“Last chance, Tracy.”

“gently caress – ”

I leaped at her. We tangled together and fell to the floor. I felt for her head. I grabbed a tuft of her hair and smashed her head against the wooden floor. Mother wouldn't be pleased with the loss, but better this than letting her get away. I lifted her head again. But before I could crash it against the grains of oak, I was grabbed by a burning inside of me. It marched through my whole abdomen. Her hair slipped from my hands. I touched the centre of the fiery pain. It felt wet and cold. It looked the same shade of grey as the rest of me, but I knew it was blood. My hand brushed against something metallic near the spluttering blood. I felt a sting were it had touched. A blade in my stomach. I stumbled back from her dark outline. Breaths were a struggle as blood choked me. I fell to the floor and my head lolled towards the broken door. In the doorway I saw another colorless mass. I squeezed my eyes, but the poor resolution still left me doubting until it spoke.

“Tracy! Are you okay?” it said. “No! What have you done?”

The ashen mass was now beside Tracy. To my miserable eyes, they formed one entity. She sobbed and he consoled.

“We need to leave this place, Tracy. Now.”

Quicker than they realised. As soon as I expired, Mother would know.

quote:

TDbot> I hope she brings Jim back from the hospital soon. | Spring Mounted Lego Launchers by Whalley - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2921

Lazy Beggar fucked around with this message at Aug 9, 2015 around 15:20

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Sorry I was posting my story when Kaishai requested the tdbot quote.

Thought a swift edit would be ok.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


I am going out of my way to be positive tonight. Here are a few crits for the Pokemon week. I don't care what one you chose or if you had a flashrule. All done in Judgemode. Going to keep the rating system simple. Either the gate is open, or it is firmly poo poo.

Taken Out by the Trash
1

I enjoyed it. But I almost trashed it at the beginning for the many italicized words. I didn't like “defendants of Nuremberg” and the girls dialogue was unpleasant especially “You have any hobbies?”
And I liked the ending up to “Thanks for being there for me.” That made me feel sickly. Your two main characters were something, but the initial dialogue was a bit jarring. I find it peculiar that they wouldn't know what each other did, but hey ho after all that I still enjoyed it somewhat.

Seat of the Future
0

The flight could have been more dramatic. A lot of mistakes like writing ' “Dialogue,” She said. ' Should just be she said. You set up the flight as being dangerous but this never manifests into anything meaningful. And who is the random guy at the end who doesn't know what the Skar is? This piece was overladen with words. Phrases like “the stain of his failures” doesn't sit well for me in this piece. And the dialogue is very pretentious to boot. At one point you tell us he is reaching 190 miles, then in the next sentence the announcer tells us. Flat characters, no conflict, and no excitement. But it didn't upset me. Still a 0.

Something Good May Come of It
1

I don't think Romani folk speak Italian. Sure those that live in Italy probably do, but it isn't their language. Also, I don't think it is referred to as speaking Roman. Sounds like they are speaking some sort of high prestige classical Latin only spoken in Rome. Besides confusing Romanies with Romans, this wasn't terrible. However, I'm not sure I felt the protagonist's motivation, even with the Romani wife explanation. And I'm not sure you can let yourself be arrested. But anyway, I think with a bit of tweaking you could make this man's sacrifice mean something in this story.


Rocks Fall...
0

First sentence “filled out out”. Fifth sentence “'d say its the SMT that's the problem, and it's long past ti”.

“If he was living down here, he'd figured out a way to do it with most of the comforts of civilization.” Reiterating what you just showed.

One paragraph:

“The roof's not stable. This was the weak point of the whole tunnel. That kind of force, over that much distance, no possible way to harden the whole thing enough.” Sure enough, there was a rumbling from above, and rocks fell from the ceiling. It wasn't a total collapse, but the rocks that hit us were heavy enough to sting. Ahead of us we heard a loud, ringing clang, as a huge boulder fell right on the main westbound track.

I didn't enjoy this. I've highlighted a few mistakes and problems, but there are more. A major problem is that Carl doesn't have much too him. And I have no idea what the argument was about at the beginning and why it meant Douglass had to shun society for ten years. Mining stuff?

--------------------------------------------------------------------
And thanks to everyone who critiqued my last piece.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Hobbling Progress
81 words

Time plods along, and a dead leviathan bobs in a mildly tumultuous ocean giving the impression that some life lingers in the beast. At times most of its carcass is exposed to the wind, at others only a few tentacles feel sunlight. As the waves work to create this asymmetry, unseen scavengers consume the carrion from below and birds hack at it from above. Never does the bare flesh equal the hidden; always there is disparity. And always the beast rots.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Winner. Ready for a fall.

Thanks.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011



As I requested a winning story and was given a losing one, am I to presume that I am not permitted to choose to be in the winning camp?

Or was a mistake made. Should I use the winning story from week 117? http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?...=Pumpkin+Dreams

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Winner:
http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?...=Pumpkin+Dreams
With some of the loser influencing the re-write:
http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?...%27s+Worst+Fear

Pumpkin Mash
1492 words


“Will you be my boyfriend,” Amy asked Luke, “if I carve you a castle?”

Luke stopped fiddling with his Lego pieces. He was always playing with them or studying his history books. Amy liked history too. She found it remarkable that Luke didn't mind that people knew he was fond of History. Luke McIntosh was a dream to Amy. Taller and older, attractive but not overly so, and intelligent.

“Carve? A Castle?” he said. “What are you talking about?” Was he amused? She was sure he was amused.

“Yeah. A castle. I'm going to carve you a castle,” Amy said. “You like them, no?”

“We'll yes, but... you're a bit young, aren't you?”

“I'm thirteen! And it'll be the best castle you'll ever see.”

“Carved, you said? Out of what?”

The bell rang. Luke gathered his Lego and his books.

“You'll see!”

And Amy made quick her exit.


After school, Amy sat alone on the bus. She tapped continuously until one of the other girls hit her and told her to shut up. At her stop, she jumped of the bus and ran to her house. She dropped her bag inside the door and wrote a note for her mom telling her she was going to Trish's, a friend who lived a few blocks away, and that she would be back later.

“What are you doing?”

Amy squawked and jumped.

“Hey, Mom.” Amy coughed as she turned to face her mom, who was currently hidden by a cloud of smoke. “I didn't think you would be home yet.”

“I had to come early,” her mom said. She puffed on her cigarette, replacing the recently dissipated cloud with a new one. “I have a friend coming over.”

“Oh, okay, Mom”

“So be quiet when he is here. I don't need you worrying another of my friends, okay?”

“I'll be at Trish's anyway.”

Her mom turned with a cough and returned to the living room where the blinds were closed and the curtains drawn. “Be quiet when you come back,” she said. “I don't want you startling him.”

Amy rushed to Trish's place and knocked. There was no answer. She knocked again. No answer. She looked in the backyard for Trish but she wasn't in and then Amy noticed that her car wasn't in the driveway. She sat on the porch and waited. The sun fell and the moon rose, but Trish still hadn't returned. Amy felt her belly rumble. She thought that she should probably get something to eat then head home. She had made her way to the street when she heard a car in the distance and saw headlights. She decided to wait. As it drew nearer, Amy could see Trish in the driver's seat and an unknown man in the passenger's. The car swung into the driveway and the two of them exited; both were laughing.

Trish spotted Amy and her laughter stopped. “Amy, what are you doing here? Have you been here long?”

“No. I just got here.”

Trish came and knelt in front of Amy.

“What can I do for you, kid?”

“Do you have a spare pumpkin I could borrow? I want to carve a castle for Halloween.”

“If you come back tomorrow, we can work on it together.”

“My mom wanted to help me with it,” Amy said. “Is that okay?”

“Oh. Yeah. That's fine. But are you sure your mom has time to help?”

“Of course, why wouldn't she?” Amy asked.

“I don't... How is your mom, Amy?”

“She's good. She has a steady job now and sees a lot of friends. So she's happy.”

“That's good...” Trish said. “Let's see what we can do about that pumpkin.”

Amy's stomach rumbled violently.

“Hungry, eh? I have some pie in the house.”

Trish stood and put her arm around Amy, ushering towards her house.

“I think I should go,” the unknown man said.

“Don't. We won't be long,” Trish said.

“It's okay. I'll call you later.”

He walked off in the direction they had come.

“How will you get back?” Trish shouted after him.

Her turned and shrugged. And then continued down the road with Trish staring at his fading silhouette.

“I'm sorry. I didn't mean – ”

“ – Nothing to worry about, Amy. Nothing at all.”


Amy was full of pie and carried a pumpkin at least double the size of her head as she made her way up to her own porch. She tried to wave to Trish as she reached the door. Her attempt made her giggle, and Trish smile. Trish waved and drove off. Amy winced; the lock seemed to scream as she turned the key. She entered her home and kept the lights off. She placed her keys on the table, put her pumpkin on stairs and removed her coat and shoes. She went to pick up the pumpkin but bumped it off the step and it knocked over the table.

“Shut up!” her mom screamed down the stairs.

“I'm sorry, mom. I –”

“Shut up and go to bed.”

Amy picked up her pumpkin and hurried to her bedroom.


Amy rushed home every day from her bus stop. She decided to design a castle before carving it. She spent many evenings drawing castles. She tried to recall the castles she saw Luke building, but couldn't remember much more than the turrets. She wanted gargoyles, drawbridges, everything. The more she worked on the castles, the more she lost herself. She forgot Luke, forgot his perfect castles. She wanted to carve a castle for herself. She designed impenetrable castles, ghastly things to behold, but with splendor hidden inside them. She would be a princess with a mighty castle.


Eventually the day came when she was ready to start carving. She had the perfect design. There were six turrets, two gigantic ones and four slightly less massive, a grand drawbridge drawn and closed, windows, one where her silhouette sat smiling, and grotesque gargoyles, who scared off the people who wanted to attack the castle but who were actually her best friends in the castle. She borrowed a knife from the kitchen and removed the insides of the pumpkin. She flushed the gunk away down the toilet. She returned to her room where her pumpkin marble lay in the middle of the floor, ready to be carved. She smiled and then went to work. She started with the easier parts: the outline of the drawbridge and the windows. But she left her window for later. She carved out the turrets next. She cut one of the large turrets too thin and it crumbled inwards. She cursed, but kept going. She carved her window and her shape next. She wasn't happy with it, but it was obvious that it was someone at a window so she wasn't too upset. Last were the gargoyles. She tried the first, but it was too much detail and it toppled inwards like the failed turret. The second she tried with less detail, but it fell too. She had space for one more. She carved it with so little detail that it looked like a miniature turret. She knew what it was though; her friend in the castle.

They didn't have any candles in the house so she tried to carve a hole in the bottom for her lampshade. She managed to fit inside, but she removed it when her room filled with the smell of burning pumpkin; she didn't want to upset her mom again. She climbed atop her bed, sat beside her window and gazed at her castle and entered it.

She sat in a room with walls of exposed stone. A hearty fire roared near her bed, which she sat atop. She felt safe and warm and fell asleep in her new bed. She awoke some time later feeling refreshed but famished. She ran out of her room, giggling loudly without any fear. And ran along the corridors towards the smell of freshly baked pie. Down the wonderful spiral staircase, through the grander than life ballroom, and down to the kitchen she went. She gorged on pie until she could take no more. She sat in the kitchen for a time, and then a thought came to her, “My gargoyle!” And so she ran to the ramparts to find her friend in the castle. She could make out its silhouette against the moonlight. She dashed forward, arms a wide. But she stopped before she reached it. It was no gargoyle, just a tiny turret. She made her way back to her room, she wanted to be warm and happy again. But upon her arrival she saw that the fire was now just a pile of embers. She returned to her bed and the embers went out.

“Amy! Shut up! Shut up and go to bed!”

She shouted her apologies to her mother and went over to her castle. And stamped on it until it was nothing but mush.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Broenheim posted:

interprompt

post apocalyptic slash fic

no erotica

300 words

Cloudy Berlin
296 words

Frances looked through the empty window frame out across the remnants of Alexanderplatz. The Fernsehturm rested across the square, its needle splitting a toppled tram in two. The vista was curtailed by a great gray smog; she could see no further than an hundred yards.

“It's odd to think that we're in that awful cloud too,” she said.

Amanda put her arm around Frances, “Can't do much about it, Fran.”

“Nope. But I feel it every time I breath.” Frances shook her head. “It makes me want to stop breathing.”

“Course you don't want to stop. Don't be silly.”

“I'm not being silly. I feel it inside of me.”

“So can I,” Amanda said. “But maybe if we stay away from the cities, we'll stay away from the cloud.”

“Yeah, I guess.” She turned from the broken window, untangling herself from Amanda's embrace, and lay on the floor. She stared at the ceiling. “It's as if we've traded people for pollution. It's too grim.”

“I kind of like it. Wait! Don't interrupt. I like it because it makes us seem more special. All this space and just the two of us. I know there are more, but it seems like just the two of us right here in this moment.” She lay beside Frances and tucked herself under her shoulder. “And it means I don't have to share you.”

Frances laughed a light laugh, “You're ridiculous. I don't think that cloud has an edge to draw a line around, never mind one that shines. But if it did, you'd be the one to see it.” Frances sat up, helping Amanda stay nestled in her arms as she rose, and kissed her on the forehead. “Shall we get going then? Find this cloudless utopia you spoke of?”

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Estranged Judgement

I sit alone. No lights are on, but the day has ended. I peer through my window, waiting. In front of my home, the orange glow of the street light casts the shadows of passers-by as they travel to unknown destinations. I wait for them to shorten, to see what shapes their origin make. I see, but am unseen. A small shade; a child skips by. It is much too late. A longer shadow darkens the child's face. I wait. It is his her father. I hope.

Countless pass by. Still, I see, but am unseen. I have forgotten what I await; but I remember my ambivalence. A stretched umbra, and a woman strides by. Her head turns! She looks at my window. At me surely? She sneers! I am arrested. She spits. My heart pumps painfully. She cackles. My hands contort, gripping the chair. She shakes her head and leaves the light. And I begin to weep. I await no longer; a smile arrives.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Schneider Heim posted:

I'll do two crits for last week. Any takers?

I'll take one, cheers.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Cheers for that.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In with a flash.

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Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Can I get a crab rule for Economy, please?

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