Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Locked thread
Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Someone I know keeps going "try Thunderdome!" so here I am, trying Thunderdome. Generate a prompt, please.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Maugrim posted:

God's Venomous Bitter Dragonflame

Also what the gently caress is a contingent toxx.

Maybe it means "ban me if the story sucks?"

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


gently caress. I was so close but I forgot about GMT because I was too into sharpening it up. Well, I'll take my lumps for loving up and put up a toxx for the next prompt I join, maybe keep writing this necromancer story for my own use.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


So last time I joined one of these I totally hosed up, "Killing the Necromancer" is still sitting around somewhere collecting dust. I might finally finish it and try for a redemption sometime. Until then, in, give me a flash rule if you want, and I'll even toxx for finishing this time if necessary.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


REDEMPTION GO

Digging Deeper
1473 words

In the darkness below, Tunneler rides felt at once too long and too short, the hollow earth on all sides streaking past quickly enough timekeeping was a fool’s errand. Lamps hung from repurposed cartilage overhead, stringing down the corridor, but their light was only enough to render the interior a dull orange, barely reflecting off the windows carved into the beast’s sides. Back in whatever Imperial bureau administered the things, they were still figuring out how much they could light the insides without another Explosion of ‘83, and every shuddering turn sent dancing shadows throughout the passengers’ compartments.

Mathias would have preferred darkness, really, as those dim lights somehow always managed to glint right off Alexios’ teeth when he smiled. He hadn’t stopped smiling, in the way a shark could be said to smile as it moved in to strike, since two golems had shoved Mathias and his two companions into the booth. On the edge of Mathias’ hearing, the Tunneler let out a rumbling groan as its pilot forced a turn, and Alexios examined his nails with a click of disapproval, letting the silence linger until the lamp over their heads stopped swaying.

“I seem to remember sending you three on a very simple task,” he said, looking up from his hand to the four figures crammed together on the bench opposite him. He flicked from one to the other, before he stared Mathias in the face, his deep brown eyes all the darker contrasted with the red of his robes and dyed gold of his skin. “You were to visit a certain thanatologist, one Kaveh, yes? To discuss certain business I had with him?”

“That’s, ah, yes, we went to see Mr. Kaveh as you said.” He’d been hired as the talker of the group, the number-runner, the one who could show anyone that everything they did was oh-so-very-legal-thank-you-very-much, but the words had to be pulled from his throat like an anchor jammed on a reef. “We discussed your proposal thoroughly.”

“Thoroughly indeed.” Alexios let out a low, chittering laugh. “Perhaps too thoroughly? Did I say to be rough with him? That any harm were to befall this man? Indeed, that there was any need to go armed at all?”

“No…”

“Then why,” and now he rested his hands onto the onyx table, carefully trimmed nails digging into the stone, “do I hear his mountain home has been laid to waste? How does a discussion about experimental materials result in wanton slaughter? In blowing up a cave?”

“Now, it was hardly our fault --” that was the 6’7” orc in the middle of the bench, with the lute. Belgrath by name. Alexios jerked his head away from Mathias and the gold skin of his face split apart in an instant, eight red eyes fixing the orc in their stare. His fangs parted and the screech was as if tiny daggers were being jammed into the men’s ears, leaving Belgrath to recoil in his seat and Mathias to cry out, elbows slamming onto the onyx as his hands covered the sides of his head. A moment felt closer to an hour, then the blackness retreated and the face reformed. Alexios was looking at him again.

“Answer soon, please. Oh, and do finish your plate, if you would.”

Mathias couldn’t, the bit of lamb he’d been offered tasted entirely too much like a human nose, and the bits of runny egg poking from his omelette looked too like brains after a hammer came down on the skull. That he knew those comparisons now had his stomach doing a backflip. “He wasn’t interested, not at all. We tried to talk sense to him.”

“Sense indeed. What then?”

“Well,” Mathias looked to the orc, only to get a nod. No lifeline was going to be tossed to him, just tell the spider what he wanted to know. “This thanatologist not only wanted no part of business with you, Mr. Alexios, he, well, insulted Belgrath’s poetry. The poem of friendship you gave us, in fact. Called it the worst he’d ever heard, and that he would - Belgrath?”

The orc chuckled, a sound not unlike wind knocking over an oak. No regrets for pulping a man’s head. “Said he’d personally take my lute, bludgeon us with it, then make you eat it, if you ever contacted ‘im again. Matty boy here wanted to calm him down but he called the guards. After that it got a bit… bloody. Kel had to put my arm back on, and there wasn’t any putting Kaveh back together.”

Alexios looked at them both as if they had turned into oxen and stampeded all over his home. Then he glanced to the third figure, in the blood-spattered scalemail, his boots on the table as if it were mere bloodwood. The one that hadn’t so much as budged when he’d screamed earlier. His mouth hung open for a long second, before Kel swung his legs back under to sit up properly. Mathias could hear stone scraping under the spider’s suddenly much tighter grip. “And you, quiet one,” Alexios said the words as if he’d rather leap across the table and wring Kel’s neck. “You have nothing to say for your little band?”

“They say it how it happened.” Kel scratched at his goatee, still lounging in his seat as if this were a tavern by the road. “Insult my bard, sure, it’s funny the shade of green he goes.”

“Oi!”

“Sorry Bell, but you know it’s true.” His companion shrugged off, Kel looked back to an Alexios whose face was starting to split again. “You draw steel on me, though, and c’mon Lexie, since when do I stand for that? Business is business, but you don’t pay us to die.”

The seam disappeared and Alexios’ hands went to his temples, digging into hair too slick and too dark to be entirely human. Nobody spoke for a time, the grind of a Tunneler’s belly along dirt and stone and steel rail the only sound between them. Alexios stared at them, Kel stared back, while Mathias looked to his own hands and Belgrath eyed the door. Black lips curled back just long enough for the light to catch on teeth yet again, before a long hissing sigh broke the silence. Alexios reached one hand into his robes and withdrew a pouch of coins he all but threw directly at Kel’s head. He looked almost disappointed when it was caught.

“It’s half of what we said, but you lot? You are lucky you get anything. Just get out of my booth.”

***

“Told you two I knew how to handle him.”

“You could have said something a lot sooner, then.”

Belgrath had vanished into the throngs around them, bellowing back some promise about meeting them at the Golden Mare. The gauntleted hand on Mathias’ shoulder was as much to guide him as to reassure him, through crowds that spoke every language he’d heard of and many he hadn’t. A vendor hollered something at them about fish and sphoungata in Aetterian only for Kel to shoo him away.

“You’re too wound up about this stuff. Lexie knows if he gets a reputation for eating his employees, people aren’t going to show up for work any more.”

“If you haven’t noticed,” and there Mathias had to step over a Zinthra’s tail as it haggled over silks, “‘dungeon crawling’ isn’t my usual line of work. I’m used to much less murder.”

“Hey now, that was self defence. And you’re not half bad at it in a pinch. Bell thought some bookish half-elf was just gonna be a burden, and you can laugh in his face about it now.” Mathias shuddered, but Kel didn’t seem to notice. They matched each other in height but the former paladin seemed much taller right now, as he stared right through the crowds milling around them. “Besides, think of the stories you can tell now that you’re back. Way better than that schola of yours.”

“Unlike someone, I don’t live to impress people with war stories.”

That earned him a laugh, a clap on the back, and, he realised with a start, the pouch Alexios had given them, dropped into his hand without a moment’s ceremony. Kel walked ahead of him, the rattle of his armour just about inaudible over the sounds of the city.

“You didn’t sign on with us because the money was better, that’s for sure. Come on, Bell’s going to complain if we don’t hurry up; you want to be late to celebrating your first real mission?”

Obviously it was one of those questions that wasn’t meant to get an answer, by the way Kel vanished into the crowd, leaving Mathias to run after him. None of this, he was quite sure, had been covered in his contract.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Choo.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


I hate hate. Hate would be too strong a word for this interprompt and the thread implosion it's causing, but there is definitely disgruntlement.

Flesnolk fucked around with this message at Jul 14, 2015 around 05:51

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Hey guys, this is Schneider Heim's story, but he can't get on the forums before the deadline so I'm posting it for him.

The Ballpen of Truth
998 words

I check my English essay at home, and I find out that something's really wrong with my ballpen. Whatever I had written was replaced by the following:

I really like Julius Aquino, even if I couldn't care less about basketball. It's because he's in the top ten and he's really cute? idk

Cue Mrs. Abella's angry red remarks and a big, fat 65% on the paper. I wrote my thoughts about early American literature, but I was thinking about Julius the whole time. I look at my ten-peso black ballpen, bought from the campus bookstore after losing the last one. Thank goodness I haven't used it on anything else. Yet.

I find an unused notebook, and write my name in it. I close it, count to three, and open the cover. The text changed.

I don't believe this

Oookay. I try it a few more times, thinking of things I like: mangoes, math, and Julius. The page is filled with his name.

Pop quiz: If you find a magic ballpen that reveals one's innermost thoughts, what do you do with it? For me, the answer's obvious.

###

It's easy to steal the pens lying on his desk. Julius sits directly in front of me, and no one would ever suspect Maria Clara Ramirez, class topnotcher, to be capable of petty theft. Hah!

I stare at my newly-bought slumbook with glee, its first entry filled up with my own details, using a non-magic pen.

When Julius gets back to his seat, I tap the back of his shoulder with the slumbook.

"Hi. Wanna write on it?" I ask.

"I didn't figure you for a slumbook person," Julius says, smiling (kyaa!).

"Well, I guess I need to... know my classmates more, right?" His eyes are the color of milk chocolate. I try not to think of the implications.

Julius looks at his desk and frowns. "Now where are my pens..."

"Use mine." I pass the magic ballpen to him, and he quickly starts writing.

I think of learning Julius's innermost thoughts. What's his favorite food? His favorite subject? Does he have a crush? It would be really cool if he actually crushed on me, too, but let's face it--no one gives me a second glance. It's lonely at the top.

Julius presses the slumbook and pen back to my eager hands. It's as if his smile never left his face. I mouth a word of thanks and hide my grin until he's facing the blackboard.

I open the slumbook to his page. Sure enough, the magic ballpen altered whatever he had written there, turning them into the truth. All of the lines were filled with the same sentence:

I want to die.

I just stare at Julius's back, but he doesn't look back. The rest of the day is a blur. Julius recites a few times, finds a pen on his own, and eats lunch with his friends. I steal glances at him all day, but his smile doesn't crack. How? Why?

What would make him want to kill himself?

###

I text the driver that I won't be taking the school bus home. I run after Julius, who's walking to the tricycle stand at the foot of the hill.

I discreetly tug his sleeve.

"Ramirez? Need something?" He's surprised to see me.

I walk closer and say to his face, "Please don't kill yourself."

Julius blinks, his milk chocolate-colored eyes registering shame. He pulls me away. "How did you know that? I... I haven't told anyone."

I take out my slumbook and show him what he had written.

Julius's shoulders slump. "But that's not what I wrote."

"It's the ballpen," I say. I explain what it does, and Julius shakes his head, but he doesn't dispute me.

"Why shouldn't I just disappear? Dad wouldn't have to put up with a burden and a disappointment anymore."

I didn't know Julius had so many issues. What do you say to someone who's given up on living?

"Crepes!" I blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. "The crepe stand at Robinson's has a buy one take one sale. We could split the cost, or I could treat you if you want! Just don't... don't do it..."

I'm not really good at this. But Julius's smile is back, and he's laughing softly, and somehow I don't need the pen to tell me how he's feeling. "Okay, let's have crepes."

"Promise me you won't kill yourself first."

"Promise."

###

The crepes tasted as good as I thought they'd be. I got a mango crepe and Julius got blueberry. We look like a couple, sitting on a bench in the center of the mall.

"I needed this," Julius says. He finishes the last of his crepe and sips his iced tea.

"So, can you tell me what's up?" I ask.

Julius winces. "I'm only playing basketball because Dad used to. I'd rather study, really. Maybe even beat your ranking."

"You've got a long road ahead of you, grasshopper," I say.

"Yeah. It would suck to lose the athletic scholarship, though... Dad's really gonna kill me for that."

"Then maybe you could turn it into an academic scholarship."

"Heh, that's a good idea." Julius checks his watch. "I need to go." He stands up.

"Let's eat crepes again tomorrow," I say. "And if you ever need someone to talk to... just give me a call?" I write my landline number on the crepe wrapper and pass it to him.

Julius takes out his phone, looks at the wrapper, and laughs. "This explains a lot. Use another pen?" He returns it.

The crepe was so delicious and I like you!!

I want to cry. But I write my number with my other pen. Julius saves it in his phone.

"Can I borrow the magic pen, too?"

"Sure." My voice is dead, and I'm prepared for the incoming rejection.

Thank you, Ramirez.

I break into a smile. "Call me Clara."

I can't wait to get home.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Who's a good boy?

You are!

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


I'll give it a shot.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Three Hours for One
1122 words

The opera had ended after Ryan passed Worcester, and he was stuck with NEPR’s host blathering about some fundraiser or other in that voice which embodied walking through quicksand. The Mass Pike stretched ahead of him for at least another hour, June’s sun glinting off legions of glass and metal, the other motorists who only existed when he weaved into gaps or slowed to keep safe distance, depressing the brake as if sinking a knife into his own gut. He slipped past and around a Corvette and SUV, dancing into then out of the passing lane, only for an 18-wheeler to drop his speed to a 65 that might as well have been 30, but he didn’t truly see them. Six years of driving did the work for him, every signal and acceleration and turn of the wheel, while his brain turned reality to light catching in auburn hair, a white smile that brightened the world better than any star, a flashing messenger tab that grabbed his heart with the fist of Hercules only to release it just as quickly.

“Sure, I’d love to meet you in person.”

That one message made his decision for him, turned a “maybe” for an event in Cambridge to a “definitely going,” and at two in the afternoon he’d left Loudonville for 787 and I-90, dressed like he had a job interview and filling the air with his best cologne. The rearview mirror had almost seen more use checking his hair than checking traffic. More than two hours later his mind was still wrapped in the parries and counterthrusts of hypothetical conversations, the puzzling on perfect icebreakers, the need to be cool without trying to be cool, even with Quicksand Voice giving way to chamber music that might as well not have a name and instincts keeping track of the phantom vehicles around him.

The Impala’s tank was half empty as he came up on Natick Plaza, and it was only half-formed thoughts of the inevitable drive home that dragged him, groaning, off the turnpike and into the service station, where he pulled up next to a Gulf pump with a huff before trudging inside. He ignored assorted travellers and shoppers as if he could walk through them, making a beeline for the rest stop bathroom where he parked in front of the first mirror he saw and examined himself. Fix the part, it’s sloppy from hours in the car. Should he have worn contacts instead? What would she think of his eyes, or his nose? Pull your shoulders back, try to jut your chin out more. You don’t want to look unmanly. Does she have a type? No idea.

He stormed out of the bathroom worse than when he’d come in, the spectre of potential disapproval twisting his intestines in knots, stopping for a Coke and a Cliff bar before remembering why he was there. The clerk was old, portly, a Korean War veteran according to his cap, and his small talk washed over Ryan like a midsummer rain, just enough to make one wish for an umbrella.

“$15 on Pump 2, regular gas.” The only words of consequence in the whole deal, to Ryan. He paid to fuel car and body, and left without so much as returning the clerk’s “good day,” wrenched open the Coke’s cap almost before he was through the door.

“Share a Coke with Cara,” the label said, and Ryan almost choked on his first sip by laughing. Her name was half his passwords now and kept following him wherever he went, in his thoughts or before his eyes. Maybe he’d show the bottle to her when he got there, make some joke about having forgotten to share, and hear laughter that sustained him better than water.

#

When night fell over Cambridge, Ryan had already spent hours there, waiting and moving up and down Mass Ave. Change for the parking metre shifted about in his pocket, and the city’s Saturday evening blurred and flitted about him, energetic but aimless. The event wasn’t for another hour, as far as he knew Cara was still at work, and he’d had a meal at the Tavern at the Square and watched the Red Sox lose. Their season was probably over if they didn’t start getting insanely lucky.

He didn’t know what he was looking for, maybe a way to kill the time, but he hadn’t found it. His loafers came up and down, up and down, touching off the stones in the sidewalk, and the city was a lifeless grey despite all the light and sound. Maybe he’d go back to his car and read? His phone was charging and he’d found a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare for ten dollars, which currently rested on the Impala’s front passenger seat. There was always buying another drink, maybe seeing if any good bands played at the Cantab Lounge.

He was returning to the car, walking a block past the bookstore, when a flash of white passed his peripheral vision and returned colour to the city. He turned, and right there was the woman he’d seen in so many pictures and youtube videos, an electronic cigarette between two fingers, unaware of him. The same features that stopped his heart on Facebook hit him like a sledgehammer between the eyes in person, and he gaped after her as she went into the distance. He watched the way her dress flattered her curves.

Go after her? Say something?

Maybe she’d be annoyed, or think he was a creep.

But she obviously didn’t know he was there.

What if she doesn’t end up going, and he never saw her again?

Ryan unrooted himself and flowed around faceless passerby, up the block and around the corner, and when he caught another glimpse of her it would have been easier to lift and throw a bus than to untrap the words from his throat but he hurried up to her all the same.

“Hey, Cara?” He managed it, and she turned, and all manner of possibilities rushed into his brain, all of them bad. She’d be weirded out, she’d run off, she’d tell him to go away. There was a second, and then recognition, a smile that reached her eyes and shone like the sun.

“Oh God, Ryan? Sorry, I didn’t see you!” In a heartbeat her arms were around her and he was aware how much smaller she was than him, before the warmth of her body against his and the ring of her voice washed away his thoughts. They headed back to the venue together and he couldn’t say what they talked about, only that it felt the easiest thing to him in all the world.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Dunno if I'll join up this week, but I'll dramatic read a story or two if people want.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Grr. Bark. Woof. Good dog.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Not to mention all you have to do to sign up is say you're in and you have all week to say that one two-letter word. People write on Saturday and Sunday all the time.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Because just going "you are a fake account" is boring.

Edit: Also I didn't know CC was a fake account until someone told me in IRC after my post.

Flesnolk fucked around with this message at Aug 15, 2015 around 23:31

  • Locked thread