preface your stories
|# ¿ Dec 31, 2014 22:10|
|# ¿ Nov 29, 2021 09:43|
Sebmojo vs. Entenzahn
Too Much of a Bad Thing
The bass drives me mad. Thump, thump, thump thump thump. A constant rhythm that burrows into my skull, surrounds me from all sides and beats down on me. I roll over, back around, pull the pillow over my head.
It drowns out my jazz music and I need my jazz music to relax. The rage bubbles up inside me with every passing beat. Keep calm, I think, they can’t be playing music all night long.
I fish a pair of earplugs out my nightstand and put them in. Still hearing it. Maybe it’s just an earworm.
I snap my fingers close to my ears, and despair.
I don’t want to go up there.
I want to sleep. It’s midnight, I have to get up in six hours. Hit the gym. Do my chores. I have to go to work.
It’s probably the new neighbor from above. I’ve seen him on the hallway. Pierced kid in ill-fitting clothes, looking like that kinda loser that’s into weed and satanism. Probably has an altar in his living room.
loving rear end in a top hat.
Relax. Think happy thoughts. I imagine myself confronting him. “It’s too loud,” I say. And he objects, tells me it’s not that bad and I say, “Well, it’s loud to me. I don’t care how loud you think it is.” And he has to accept that. He’s not allowed to keep me up at night.
The music stops. Or did it get quieter? I focus. Is the bass still there? No. Nothing. Thank loving--
Thump, thump, thump thump thump.
I get out of bed, throw on some clothes and leave the apartment. Dull music reverberates across the hallway, like someone had opened a disco across the street. I move up a floor.
My fist hovers over his door. There’s a built-in window, light flickering behind the curtain. I hesitate. Get nervous. You never know how people react.
I take a deep breath.
I knock. Blood pounds in my ears. Thump, thump, thump thump thump. Seconds pass and a human troll doll answers the door, stoned out of his mind. Beyond the dubstep in the background there’s a soft chanting: “Ooooooooohhhh eeeehhheeeeehhhhhh…”
“Whaaa…?” my neighbor says.
“Uhm, can you like… the music’s a bit loud.”
“Can you turn it down?”
“I dunno man. It’s not that loud, is it?”
“Well, it’s loud to me.”
“Come on man.”
“Just… turn it down please. I really gotta sleep.”
His tired eyes pierce me for many beats. “Whatever,” he says. He closes the door.
My heart races. I wait, stand there uncertainly, until finally, the bass fades.
Back in my apartment the music’s gone. I lay in my bed with the biggest grin on my face.
It lasts twenty minutes.
The bass comes back with force, like it had taken a breather and now it’s ready to finish what it started.
My heart skips a beat. I slam my fists into the mattress.
He knows I’m hearing it. He loving knows. Why is he turning it back up? What’s wrong with him? How can he ignore that?
I don’t hesitate this time.
“You again,” he says. He seems on edge, jittery. His eyes dart around. The chanting is still there.
“Look, I don’t like this either,” I say.
“You can’t keep coming here.”
“Yeah, but the bass is really loud.”
“I dunno, maybe you’re just sensitive.”
I take a deep breath. “I’m here because I hope we can clear this up between each the two of us. But I don’t need to. You need to keep quiet at night. It’s the law.”
He bows past me, looks up and down the hallway.
“You calling the police?” he says.
“I don’t want to.”
He disappears inside. The music stops, and the chanting turns to a murmur. He comes back out.
“I’m Chris,” he says, and holds out his hand. I shake it.
He jerks his other arm up.
My legs are replaced with pain. I collapse on the floor. Chris stands over me, taser in hand.
The world goes black.
Thump, thump, thump thump thump.
Dubstep music bursts into my skull. I roll over, back again. My hands are tied.
I open my eyes to the gritty texture of a stone altar. I loving knew it.
There’s robed figures around me, chanting, “Droooooooooop the baaaaaaaaaaaass.” Their faces are hidden under hoods, covered by the flickering shadows of candlelights.
Chris steps forward, a smile playing over his lips. “You are not going to ruin this ritual,” he says. “We’ll--”
I roll off the altar and leg it. I dash through the cultists. A burly figure clotheslines me.
I’m pinned back to the altar.
Chris hmphs and someone hands him a bowl and a dagger. He comes closer.
Oh poo poo.
I can’t die like this. Not to loving dubstep cultists.
The edge of the dagger burns itself into my neck. It gets wet.
I live. Chris steps back and mixes the contents of the bowl, takes up an incense rod and tips it in. The mixture catches on fire. It fills the room with smoke, the smell of incense and grass and sulfur.
“Stillabunt in bass,” Chris says. “Bonum Vibes inchoare.”
He repeats the phrase, his voice growing, rising above the chants in the background. The smoke fills my conscience, races through my nostrils, the nooks and crannies inside my head, the creases in my brain. I’m dizzy. My heart slows. My breath slows.
“Stillabunt in bass! Bonum Vibes inchoare!”
The rhythm slows.
Thump. Thump. One per second. Thump. One per minute. Each hit comes more slowly, lasts longer, dragged out. I sense attack, decay, sustain, release of each beat. The single frequencies as they layer over one another to create noise. The twists and turns, highs and lows of each single frequency as they phase in and out, unfold along their sine waves.
The continuous signals turn concrete, series of beats within a beat, creaking like a broken subwoofer.
“Maggot,” the bass rasps.
“What?” My voice is hollow.
“You are tiny. Tiny ant.”
The voice slows, becomes clear.
“I am Vibes,” it says.
My entire body is rocked by an explosion of base. My teeth clatter and my stomach churns. I’m full. Slow and heavy.
Time returns to normal and bass seeps into me from all around - the soft hum of the earth turning; the faint traces of a car door slammed close two roads down; the loving dubstep.
I just want quiet.
I stagger off the altar. The bass nurtures me. Not me. Something in me. A hunger that grows with every beat.
“Drop the bass,” I growl involuntarily.
“Drop the bass,” the cultists reply.
The something in me expands, pushes my stomach outward. Every beat shatters my belly.
I don’t want his poo poo. This crap music. Why is this happening to me?
“Yes…” Vibes booms, “hate me. Despise me. Turn up the vibes.”
I can’t help it. I can only think about how all I wanted was to sleep, and get up, and get my dumb poo poo done, and now it’s two in the morning and my hard week’s work will be rewarded with these loving stoner cultists feeding me to some idiot bass deity.
“Wait,” Vibes says. “That’s enough. Enough hate.”
There’s a disturbance in the air. The cultists notice. They look at each other uneasily.
gently caress you. Look at these losers. Unemployed slackers, ruining my night, in my perfectly fine apartment that I worked for. Useless assholes worshipping a useless god. What the poo poo are you supposed to be. Dubstep god? Your dumb music will be irrelevant two years from now. It’s already a joke.
Vibes screams. It sounds like he dropped his mic. “No! Stop! Too much!”
Back in the day music was more than THUMP THUMP THUMP for five minutes. Hipster bashing his head against the keyboard. Do you get born with that kind of brain damage? Leave me out of this poo poo. Let me go home. gently caress you.
gently caress! YOU!
Vibes croaks, and my belly quivers. The bloated feeling makes way for a vacuum, sucking at my stomach.
Bass blasts out of my body. Any way it can. It fills the room with smoke and sound, blows out speakers and sends cultists to the ground holding their bleeding ears.
“Yeah! Screw you!” I yell. “And your loving music!”
I kick Chris as he spasms on the ground.
“And get a job!”
He wheezes and keels over. I don't know if he's dead. I kick him again.
It’s six in the morning. My apartment is silent. Just me, the birds and the thump thump thump of policemen walking above me. The noise and the stench and the bodies probably attracted some attention. Whatever. It’ll stop. And then I'll have peace.
My radio alarm jumps into action. Smooth jazz. I switch over to the metal channel.
I call in sick at work, roll over and sleep.
|# ¿ Jan 1, 2015 01:44|
you two are so tsundere :3
p2 disclaimer: the next 200 pages contain horrible stories. thunderdome management cannot be held accountable for any occuring brain damages, alcoholism or punched monitors. to safely browse the rest of this thread, please click the question mark left of this post
Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 10:46 on Jan 2, 2015
|# ¿ Jan 2, 2015 10:11|
sebmojammin' here brawl
An unstoppable force meets an immovable object.
Also, pick one:
The cosmic ballet
Deadline: Wed, Jan 7th, noon GMT (<- Europe)
are you just going to stand there or are you going to toxx yourselves
|# ¿ Jan 2, 2015 12:00|
oh good fifteen people submitted right before the deadline surely this means their entries will be polished and proofre
thundercrits 126 - should plot and tension be forgot
Screaming Idiot - Like Old Times
Trying to hook me with the cold start to this week’s episode of Ironside. I’ve read so many generic crime dramas feat. people, guns and edgy dialogue I just roll my eyes when someone plays this stuff straight. Goddamnit, I’m getting too old for this poo poo *slams badge and gun on the table*
Take away the Cops and Robbers LARP and there’s nothing redeeming or original. The only standouts are Andy, whose role is nebulous, and a hail of forced expository dialogue beating down on me like I was the pinata at a bad fiction party.
score: going to the same pub as every year but this time you’ll totally try the Guinness (you won’t)
Cacto - The will
Right from the get-go this throws a dozen names at me, along with a cast of characters that never makes it to the second dimension. It’s impossible to tell what’s going on or who is who and then it turns out you were just rambling along as the real conflict of the piece, the inheritance made out to the gardener, is slowly, slooooowly introduced somewhere halfway through.
Then a bunch of pointless dialogue happens and you pull an “AND THEN THEY ALL DIED LOL” twist ending without ever resolving or showing me anything that could have been interesting about your premise. A house of cards imploding in a storm of farts - truly an appropriate ending.
score: party crashers locking you out of your own studio apartment
Schneider Heim - New Habits
Recurring theme this week: rambling retirees.
It’s hard to get into your story because it isn’t upfront about what’s going on and reveals crucial information through dialogue, at a snail’s pace and in an order that initially confuses me about who plays what role. It’s not a good idea to introduce a retired and potentially still evil supervillain by first telling me how he’s now a police chief who makes the neighborhood a safer place.
The conflict of this piece, the protagonist’s inner fight of good vs evil, is superficial, forced and comes too late. It happens mostly in the form of internal monologue, and then for some reason the bad (?) guy really decides not to kill his ex-nemesis, possibly due to events that happened after his retirement and made him a better person, which we never get to see, you just kinda shove it in there and expect me to swallow it.
score: awesome fireworks display but you forgot your glasses at home
Nethilia - Out of My Life
Starts out like Cacto’s story and throws a ton of names around that don’t mean anything to me.
Your piece picks up after the intro and gets more interesting then, but I still feel like you’re holding back the main conflict, like the whole story exists to fill me in on missing backstory details instead of giving me a clear problem for your character to work on.
It doesn’t need anywhere this many characters and suffers from the overabundance. Minnie and Gabriel are both supporting cast members, and you only need one for that role. Then I don’t care about Noah because I know nothing about the guy, because you run up against the wordcount.
You’re a strong writer and it shows in the descriptive parts of your story, particularly the car ride scene and the flashback, which grows from the story very organically.
score: one bottle of champagne for twenty people
Your Sledgehammer - Two Bullets
Like most entries this week this is mostly a portrait piece, albeit a nice one. The whole theme of a hero cop falling from fame is consistent through the story and while the beginning is muddled and cheesy it does well enough in establishing your characters to see me through to the end, which is also cheesy but serviceable.
That said, it’s a very run of the mill cop drama. You rely on that, never showing me why Larry turns to the bottle because you expect me to recognize the stereotype. Which is fine, if you focus on their combined battle against his alcoholism. But you don’t show that either. Go for portrait, go for plot, but do one of them and do it right.
Also it’s kinda odd how the protagonist goes “Well we dumped your booze, my job here is done GOODBYE FOREVER (also thanks for saving my life) BYE!!!”
score: meeting an old friend at a party and they’re obviously just talking to you out of politeness
Fumblemouse - Football and Fireworks
This story only exists to surprise me with a twist ending that I see coming from a mile away. It’s nicely written, but you know that. Plotwise it’s one of the weakest stories this week. I guess there’s supposed to be something with the dude’s wife going on, like she died and now the imaginary friend is back. Okay, so what?
score: byob party, nobody brings their own booze
Sitting Here - Touch and Go and Touch Again
I have no idea what’s going on or what the plot is supposed to be. Sure, it’s two souls who are meant for each other, at different points in time, but that’s just a premise and that’s not enough.
Super confusing with all the name dropping, and especially Dasra and Nasatya, who start out in some god’s garden, then as characters in some other character’s story, who is also one of them?? and then they’re in India and then with that god again and then there’s a bunch of other characters who are also them and it’s all a simulation only it’s not.
Seriously, what’s the deal with Paris and Helena, they’re the confusing cherry on top of this clusterfuck pie.
There’s probably a neat idea somewhere, but the execution dives face first into the pavement.
score: drunk “friend” aiming fireworks at you
LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE - Penny Puncher
I liked this because I’m a plot hog and you actually had one, which is more than most other entries can say for themselves. The story of a martial artist’s rise to fame isn’t super original, but you spiced it up with fight scenes which i really liked, and his interspersed narration of his rising urge to win. Potential HM candidate for me. Alas, I'm but one puny judge.
There are two big problems: firstly, the climax is rushed as hell. You have a bunch of fights in this story, and the finale seems miniscule in comparison. Secondly, I don’t think you know what Sayid is supposed to be. Is he Alvin’s mentor? Then how does it make sense that he disappears right after Alvin’s first fight, while Alvin is still in the hospital, without saying a word? Their relationship is super unclear, but it’s also super important. Fix that.
score: meeting your high-school crush and getting wasted together, waking up next to her mom
Walamor - Decisions
A rushed piece whose only saving grace is not being as offensively toxic as our four horsemen of the crapocalypse over there. It relies heavily on hammy expository dialogue to tell a story that only begins and ends the way it does because I guess that’s how you’ve seen it on television. Their conversation isn’t realistic and the plot isn’t interesting and since all you show me is their talking heads I don’t care if they live or die or kill each other, as long as it ends.
Sorry if this sounds a tad negative, but there really is nothing redeeming about this piece other than the baseline courtesy of it having a beginning, middle and end.
score: passing out drunk before midnight
Anomalous Blowout - When You Need It Most
Out of the few entries that had magic in them yours was the only one that worked. Right from the start it’s clear that there’s something special about Mr. Hanrahan, and then the story confirms it, and then I want to see what other cool stuff he gives Alice and how she’s going to need it.
It’s a bit light on the plot side. Most of your words line up to form flashbacks, but they’re enjoyable to read and tie into a satisfying ending so I don’t mind, somehow.
It seems a little odd she doesn’t immediately jump to “oh yeah I have a whistle” and instead takes a far-fetched subconscious detour through her history with her cooky neighbor, but looking at your timeline you don’t really have a better choice of telling it.
Not the best thing I ever read, but a good showing in a week with few strong contenders.
score: raclette with friends
docbeard - Good Night, Miss Mason
The beginning is pretty tight and then it just peters out into a brownish trickle of exposition. Could have been fun as a wacky story of grandma/grandpa agents on one last mission to defeat the agency. Isn’t fun as a closeted worldbuilding piece about one character’s surprise revival and another character’s surprise death, neither of whom you give me any reason to care about.
The ending is beneath you. Character poisoning that comes out of left field - you probably ran out of time for this, but it sure is a stinker.
score: jigsaw puzzles with friends because nobody else feels like going out
Ironic Twist - Crush
There’s some yadda yadda yadda about Izzie’s mom going on but you’ve hidden any overarching message deep between the lines, like a protagonist wedged between two halves of a couch, or a scare scene between two halves of a boring story.
That small core of horror is pretty effective and further emphasized by her flashback to her abusive mother, but ultimately it comes and goes without any lasting effect. I think you’re trying to show me some reaction in the protagonist’s attitude towards her deceased mother but it’s seriously understated and I end up with no idea of what you were trying to tell me.
score: falling asleep on the couch and somebody scares you awake with a signal horn
leekster - Injury Reserve
I’m running out of synonyms for ‘bad’ so I’m going to pull a reversal and preemptively call next week’s loser the “Injury Reserve” of TD #127.
Poor proofreading (as in: none), a meandering vignette, ham-flavored prose nuggets (“And with that the clerk swept the rest of the crumbs up as quick as he could, no longer interested in killing time with the customer who maimed his teammate”), this crap slurpee is light on nutritional content and yet it doesn’t go down easy. Not quite as messy as Cacto’s, not quite as dumb as Benny’s, but aggressively boring and truly that’s the worst sin of all. Closely edged out by BIG’s compound terribleness, but by God you tried.
score: drunkenly falling down the stairs
Jonked - The Pearl
Hmm, I liked this initially. No character agency to speak of, but that’s week 126 for ya. You offered me a solid, depressing portrayal of a failed marriage and the ruined lives it contains, with the parcel scene being particularly intense and soul-crushing.
Then the pearl happens and I, like, what the gently caress man? I didn’t even get it at first, like why is he suddenly sitting at the bar? Is this an alternate universe? Kaishai suggested that the Pearl took him back in time for some reason. I dunno. It comes out of nowhere, so I don’t believe any of it. Also “his life flashed” doesn’t do anything to explain what happens and could have just as well been left out, or, preferably, replaced by something clearer.
Solid entry ruined by a poor shot at magical realism, or whatever the gently caress.
score: cool party turning into a doomsday cult orgy
kurona_bright - Stump Talk
Duller than a vegan BBQ. The supporting cast exists for no other reason than to have someone your protagonist can regurgitate their backstory to, which is also you story, which is no story at all. People wander through snow and find ghosts of the past. Some nice imagery and overall not badly written, but horribly plotted.
Only line I really enjoyed was the Terry Pratchett quote.
score: spending the evening home alone
crabrock - Waves
This needed another editing pass. It’s fine compared to what the others brought to the table but it’s far from the story it could be. I don’t get a feel for Becky #2 being a deadbeat in the beginning other than you telling me after their breakup. Then you have “Deadbeat Becky” and “Successful Overachiever Becky”, and that’s their stereotypes and they cling to them more tightly than my lips to a bottle of Barbados rum on a judging Monday.
The theme you tried to work in, lines actually being curves and Becky #1 not noticing the crookedness, that’s a nice idea, but it seems like an afterthought to what is mostly a story about a chance meeting between two former schoolmates.
score: awkward and short-lived conversation with an old friend at the bar because you have nothing to say to each other
Benny the Snake - The Christmas Truce
This was very stupid. I’d almost say hilariously stupid, but then The Christmas Truce is a very moving thing that actually happened, and I’m a little insulted at this bad ripoff, for some reason placed in present day America, peppered with atrocious dialogue, wonky characters, preachy prose and plagiarized guest stars God and Guns N' Roses.
Basically you took a good thing and everything you changed about it made it worse.
Where some stories suffered from understatement you had your theme written on your sleeves, forehead, tattooed all over your body and written on a giant billboard you chained yourself to. Like you sat down and said, “I’m going to write a piece about war, and how war is bad,” and then you just tried to cram it down my throat. Oh look, the priest has TEARS STREAMING DOWN HIS FACE. Every other line is a really obvious attempt at reader manipulation, and yes, you’re supposed to manipulate me, but you’re not supposed to be obvious about it.
It’s like you didn’t want to spend too much time on this and just went straight for the next best thing you could think of, throughout your entire story, capped by the horrible, forced ending where everyone dies, welp!
Man, Benny, please keep writing and all but this was vile. You have to try harder.
score: fireworks rocket exploding in your pants
Tyrannosaurus - Teeth and Time
I found the beginning confusing. I’m not sure who is who, or who is on the island and who goes there, or what tense we’re in, but I guess there’s a kid somewhere who isn’t supposed to go out at sea for some nebulous reason. And it goes there anyway and gets lost? And his mother flies there for seven hours to save it? Uhhh… *drools*
Then you pull a water demon out of your rear end and the mother elopes with him, leading to one of the least satisfying endings in a week that had not one, but two stories that basically ended by dropping an ACME bomb on their characters.
I guess this works better if you’re familiar with the themes you’re alluding to (Kaishai mentioned something about sea babies? selkies??). But I’m not, and this is the worst piece I’ve seen from you so far.
score: frantically searching the streets for your posse while people are already counting down to the new year
Bad Ideas Good - Charolette
The chili flake in the diarrhea pool at the bottom of this week’s dung barrel, this story is all the other loser candidates combined: a jumbled mess with some really dumb moments, poorly plotted and riddled with errors to a point where I’m not sure if you were fully accountable while committing this atrocity.
What is going on? What’s the deal with Charlotte and why does she suddenly appear at the end? What’s the druid scene supposed to tell me, and why is there a talking snake? Why are there suddenly 50 people in his apartment? Why is he stuffing the box with the thorny C down the snake’s throat? What’s the point of any of this? Can you put the blunt down, I’m trying to talk to you.
The blocking issues are something else and make your dialogue impossible to follow. You can’t switch between people mid-paragraph. For a good guide on proper blocking, please read any story ever, except this one.
Also, there’s a typo in your title.
three linecrits, #126 only, first come first serve
Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 22:17 on Jan 6, 2015
|# ¿ Jan 6, 2015 21:53|
sebmojammin' here brawl - judgement
Hey hey hey! Thanks for playing.
Sitting Here - Aroha and Squid-eater
Hmmm yes this is nice, good even, though mostly on a second read because on my first attempt I stumble over Squid-eater. He's some kind of ominous marine demigod titan, but I don't know that and it probably doesn't help that I just read a story from you where two normal people were called Woman-Like-Deer-Path and Tusk-Cutter-Man. So then I get that he's a sea monster but I don't know if he's a giant turtle or a magic shark or whatever the gently caress until he starts drowning the village with his giant fin.
The whole placement of Squid-eater is kinda weird, really. He's lonely because his tribe died, so he goes around crushing other tribes. Aroha knows his name right from the word go, implying he's been around, yet they have to explain his backstory to her and somehow he only starts his daily tidal wave attacks at the beginning of the story. I'm not sure how you want me to imagine his music, but when I read "sad song" and "sea" I think "whale song" and how a seabird is supposed to replicate that I do not know.
Those are the inconsistencies that come up when I start poking holes into your story, but tbh they don't bother me that much because you're going for the grand scope, a wistful folk tale about a mournful titan and a girl that pities him. A portrait of loneliness but also empathy, and their consequences, framed by a story that focuses on these core themes, builds on them and ups the stakes towards a sweet resolution.
sebmojo - Simon hated his suit.
An entertaining, slick piece with a clear line of action that seems a bit shallow under the hood. All I learn about Simon is that he's kind of a pushover and I'm not sure if he's taking out his gun because he's tired of being pushed around by his evil brother or if he actually is the evil brother and just kind of a loser. You've done well describing the overt stuff, but some of the subtleties don't work for me.
Spotty prose ("Simon lowered himself carefully into a chair. The pale wood of the chair was cool" || "This was the day when it would happen." (rly?)) but you are still p. good at putting rapidfire words next to each other and I guess it mostly comes down to the nervous tone, but somehow you string me along. That said I don't know if it's a good choice to start your 500 word story with descriptions of suits and skyscrapers and then queue into a secondary character's monologue diss and a double twist ending. It's a choice that relies mostly on your strength at line-level and doesn't make for a very strong plot foundation.
The reversal on the trite gun-out-of-nowhere twist is genuinely funny, but it's also kind of a weak leg to stand on as I suspect this moment is one of the main reasons you constructed the story the way you did.
Overall a decent piece - I read through it without any pained grunts or constantly scrolling down to see how much farther I have to go. It just left me with kind of a hollow feeling, like you served slightly undercooked antipasti and bailed before the main dish.
Both pieces were above average but only one had an amount of apparent depth and focus to it that made we want to revisit it.
Judgement: Sitting Here.
|# ¿ Jan 7, 2015 13:53|
IIRC this was both Kaishai and my fourthmost favorite piece. When new people come to Thunderdome we often tell them to start with straight stories until they get it right, and I think you're getting there. Truly, the worst sin was that your plot and scenes were kinda stock, boiled down to the bare minimum encompassed by the usual stereotype of a drunken cop buddy loving himself over.
Prosewise you're still a bit clunky, but there's not really one or two overwhelming mistakes, just a mixed bag of unnecessary blemishes that could be ironed out by another editing pass while reading your story aloud. The only thing that really left a bad aftertaste were your stuffy sentences. Tense scenes need tight sentences and a gruesome murder-suicide is a bad moment to start dabbling in Lovecraftian poetry
|# ¿ Jan 8, 2015 00:23|
old thread closed, format lost (sucks 2 b u)
The Holothurian Syndrome gesundheit
Man this piece so wasn't written for me. It's a very slow burn full of vignettes and circumlocution, as I think it's supposed to be, but I'm a simple man with simple tastes - a protagonist, a goal and the rest is extras. You had some nice themes and imagery going here (leaving out the part where your evocative prose turns to rambling or pure abstract mindfuck), but as a story it's lacking for me. As if it exists to serve me a bunch of slices of life of this character, and then I'm not sure what the pie is about.
On my third read-through I'm beginning to suspect that this piece is actually about a stoner turning his life around through and for his family, but the blunt isn't brought up until past the halfway mark. Oh God, is this one of those nebulous coming-of-age-pieces I hear so much about?
You employ loooong sentences, sometimes to good, painterly effect but then with others I just fall off the track because they're so convoluted and hard to imagine. It's like wading through water. Then some dialogue is weird as hell (see above). It creates additional distance between me and the protagonists, whom I already feel about like they're from Uranus because of how weird the narration is. This distance is further emphasized when you take some key moments away from me and only show me the aftermath. I don't get to see the birth, I don't get to see the fire. Those are deliberate choices, and you still make good use of what's there mostly, but I don't know if it wouldn't have made for a stronger story the other way around.
I mean I guess you set out to write a peaceful portrait of a guy and his coming to grasp with being a father, and you still did that well because you're a good writer. For my taste it wasn't very engaging, and some parts went over my head, but I can see that it has a certain kind of substance to it and I do really like many of the images.
Man, what can I say. It's a weird piece, but most of it is well-written. I guess this is as close as I'll come to liking something like this.
e: but then I was intrigued enough to read this thrice so you win??
Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 21:51 on Jan 8, 2015
|# ¿ Jan 8, 2015 21:46|
|# ¿ Jan 8, 2015 21:50|
David almost snapped his controller in half when his runner passed the finish line. Eleven seconds over world record, just on this level. His run for the whole game was two minutes behind. The new routes sucked. He sucked. There was always that one jump he couldn’t nail, and the landing that cost him a second, and the second that snowballed into enemy spawn patterns and platform cycles that cost him even more time further down.
He knew the new proper routes. The fastest. He’d studied them ever since the record had been unceremoniously taken from him, a video on the internet proving his times inferior.
He just couldn’t make those jumps.
He hit reset and tried again. Bedsheets rustled behind him.
“When are we going to go out?” Marisol said.
“I don’t… I have to practice,” David said.
“You’ve been playing for so long.”
He’d had to. The speedrunning marathon would start in two days, at the convention here in Pamplona. He didn’t want to make an rear end of himself. He wanted his record back.
He tried the jump again. Failed.
“I thought about running with the bulls tomorrow,” she said.
David’s runner stood dumbly at the edge of a cliff, burning a hole into the screen while the hovering platforms rotated back into place. He’d missed them by half a second.
“gently caress this game,” he muttered.
The screen went black, phasing out to the bloop of a fading electrical pulse. David closed his eyes. Breathed. On the bed Marisol drummed her fingers against the remote.
“What?” he said.
“You can play video games all year. We’re on vacation.”
“That was so unnecessary.”
“Are you coming along tomorrow? I’d like that.”
“I have to practice.”
Stubborn as she was, she finally sighed, theatrically threw up her hands and slid off the bed. David didn’t ask where she was going. The door slammed shut behind her.
He got back in the game, hit reset and tried again.
Marisol was uncomfortable in her white clothes. They were a bit too tight around the legs, and waist, and she probably looked like a dumb tourist. She forced herself to stay. She’d decided to run with the bulls, and she was going to do it, and she’d do it in the traditional white garb: pants and shirts and a red waistband. It was a one-in-a-lifetime chance.
Onlookers crowded the wooden fences on the sidelines, murmuring, tiny flags and red handkerchiefs in hand. Most of the other runners were locals, tanned men and women who quipped in Spanish, laughed with each other as they stretched. She could make out a few words: bull, flight, fun. Black humor, probably. She was glad she didn’t understand it.
A signal rocket exploded above and all talk stopped. The corral gate was open. The run was about to begin. She listened for the follow-up. Tensed. Any moment now. She was ready. She would do this.
The second rocket burst and Marisol exploded forward. Cheers erupted from the sidelines, a blurry mass of people waving their flags and handkerchiefs. There were grunts behind her, around her, mixed with quick shouts, feet hitting the floor as the runners came into motion. Someone gave off a battle cry.
The quicker runners quickly closed in on her. The rush was amazing. There was danger, but she had her group. Tightly bundled. They blazed through the streets like a white flood.
The not-so-fast people caught up with her and the adrenaline rush made way for a creeping dread. What if she wasn’t going to be fast enough? She wasn’t the fittest. The trousers pinched her.
She found herself at the back of the group and panicked. White-clad runners zoomed past her, left her behind. Her heart raced. Every breath was part of a staccato bombing on her lungs, a fire that spread to her sides and all around. She slowed to a trot.
The bulls came closer. She didn’t need to look. Away from the thunder, towards the fence. Onlookers shouted for her, waved her closer. She stumbled, caught herself with a hand against the cobblestone pavement. The bulls were a rapidfire stampede, catching up. Hands reached out, through and over wooden planks. She jumped towards the fence.
The thundering noise was everywhere. Screams. Gasps.
Something massive slammed into her.
Pain, and darkness.
She breathed in. He breathed out.
The tube stuck out of Marisol’s neck where the bull had pierced her, a plastic tumor growing from her throat, sucking and blowing, in and out. It wasn’t painful. Just foreign. She didn’t open her eyes, but she knew David was in the room. She pretended to be asleep. Let him pity her a bit longer. That should teach him.
David sat next to her, and the sound of the breathing machine reminded him of Darth Vader. He forced himself to think serious thoughts. He’d been at her side all day, because he knew he was supposed to. Every now and then his mind drifted back to the reset button in their hotel room, the blocks and dots, the runner and his obstacles and their pixelated dance, narrowly avoiding each other on a run like clockwork. It was good that Marisol was alive, but it sucked that she’d had to get hurt.
“Sorry, sir. You can’t stay the night.” The nurse had appeared out of nowhere. “Only family members.”
“Oh,” David said. “Are you sure?” He reached for the backpack on the floor. It was light, mostly empty and void of sleepover suppliances.
“I’m afraid so,” the nurse said.
When David brushed Marisol’s forehead her jaw tightened and the muscles in her belly clenched. He didn’t notice. In his thoughts, he was already running again.
She only relaxed when his steps moved away from her. Her charade had worked. He’d come back tomorrow, and she could be awake.
David looked back into the room. Marisol breathed, in and out. She’d be fine. Surely.
He left, and both of them were glad for it.
|# ¿ Jan 12, 2015 02:04|
Pick me a prompt and make it snazzy.
who wants a flesh rule
CAN I PLEASE HAVE A FLASH ROOL KIND SIR
|# ¿ Jan 13, 2015 10:05|
Duran realized the spell had gone wrong about a heartbeat before Kilo. His friend stared back at him wide-eyed, and they both stopped singing their incantations, and Kilo dashed for the runes Duran had laid out, their engravings glooming in a wrong, fowl green.
The rift opened with a sigh.
An invisible force hammered Duran into the stone wall. Dark fog engulfed him, filled his nostrils with smoke and sulfur, rushed into his brain, an overdose of shock and adrenaline. His mouth was wet. It tasted like iron.
The rift emerged as a faint acid glow from the fog. Screams zoomed through the room, ooohs and aaahs of souls escaping through the gateway. Two bright, glowing embers wavered towards Duran. They stopped within inches and a demonic tongue clicked and hummed, the netherworld language of insults.
“I am Gozmorrag, He Who Sees,” the apparition said. “You have served me well. For that, you shall die a quick death.”
The claws flashed through the air, but stopped short. It took Duran a second to realize that the defense had been his. The demon’s embers hovered about uncertainly, and Duran pushed them back with a shout.
He jumped off to the side, fumbled along the wall as the stench intruded his thoughts, dragged at his conscience. Heavy steps followed him. A deep laugh. “Impressive,” the demon said. Through the fog, Duran got hold of someone’s arm. The darkness weighed him down. It dimmed his thoughts, filled them with brimstone and nightmares. The last thing that went through his head before he passed out was, away.
He awoke on a barren field. Kilo had the gravest look on his face.
“I’ve hit the books.” Kilo whispered. “Gozmorrag, He Who Sees. Leads an army of ghouls. They suck the life out of you, make you one of them: an empty vessel that contains a writhing, burning soul. Your own portable hell.”
Duran waved a finger towards the bartender. Research. As if they were going to do, what? The Demon Lord had almost squashed them.
“We can send him back like most other demons.” Kilo hefted the book onto the counter and pointed at the underlined passages. “It takes the summoners, that’s us, and the rune that binds him here. We could also try to straight-up kill him, but let’s be realistic.”
The bottle came sliding across the counter. Duran poured it all into his mug.
“So what do you say?” Kilo said.
“I’m still just a fukken peasant boy,” Duran said. He hefted the mug and chugged it all down in one go.
Kilo made a face and put the book aside. “I should have checked the engravings. I was responsible for you, so we both hosed up. Let’s fix this.”
“Sorcerer that can’t properly spell.” Duran waggled his finger towards the barkeeper again. “Imagine that.”
The bottle came up, but Kilo intercepted it. “Focus. We need to fix this.”
“How? The war has begun. The mages won’t have us. There’s a bounty on our heads. How are we going to fix anything? We’re worthless.” He reached for the bottle, but Kilo dragged it away. “I’m worthless.”
An uncomfortable silence settled over them. Soon, Kilo gave up and retreated to his studies, and Duran to his mug.
They went separate ways the next day. Kilo towards the warzone, to study Gozmorrag’s armies, Duran away, just away. They hugged goodbye. Duran didn’t expect to ever see his friend again.
They met half a year later.
The demonic hordes had made quick progress. Duran had tried to elude the fighting, hoping the mages and imperial armies would take care of business, or at least drag it out for everyone else to enjoy a few more years. But no matter what place he’d drifted to, it had gone up in flames.
The hordes caught up with him in the village of Gerakh, but it was Kilo that found him first.
“They are coming after you, you know?” he said, scaring Duran out of his sleep.
“What do you mean?” Duran said.
“Gozmorrag knows. He looks for us.”
“So what do we do?”
“The ghouls are almost here.”
“I know where Gozmorrag commands his armies. I learned it only takes our tongues to banish him. I learned much. But truly, you have always been the stronger mage. Only one of us can go. So I am going to tell you what to do. You are going to travel to his base, and you are going to get caught, and then you will banish him.”
“You are going to have to kill me.”
Duran’s mouth was wet. It tasted like iron. The ghouls dragged him along the marble floor leading up to Gozmorrag’s iron throne. A deep laugh erupted from the Demon Lord.
“I recognize you, Duran. Where is your friend?”
“He is dead.”
A smile played over Gozmorrag’s lips. He inclined his head. “You speak the truth.”
“I know you can tell.”
“Have you come to kill me?”
More laughter. “You are a gifted mage, I grant you that. Well then.” He stood from his throne and stomped towards Duran.
“I offer you my soul for a bargain,” Duran said.
The Demon Lord stopped. “I can take your soul anyway.”
“You could turn me into one of these… mangled husks. But that’s not what you want, is it?”
“Hmph! What do you have in mind?”
“I want to see the rune. Mine. I want to curse it with my dying breath.”
Ozmorrag cocked his head. “Truly.”
The rune still glowed, fowl, green. Duran took the pickled tongue of Kilo from his mantle and spoke the words, staring straight into Ozmorrag’s glowing ember eyes. The Demon Lord roared with fury, clawed at Duran’s face. Better get used to the pain.
“Your soul is mine, wizard,” Gozmorrag said. “I will take you with me.”
“I will be coming,” Duran said, “but you will be going back.”
He laughed all the way to hell.
|# ¿ Jan 18, 2015 23:59|
goal: 0 wins in this thread
|# ¿ Jan 20, 2015 01:52|
I'm on board.
|# ¿ Jan 20, 2015 07:34|
This story has been decomissioned and I'll come back and rub it in everyone's faces once it has been published. Especially yours, crabrock.
Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 02:22 on Jan 1, 2016
|# ¿ Jan 26, 2015 01:06|
in with peter pan
|# ¿ Jan 28, 2015 08:28|
but it's the disney fairy tale version
|# ¿ Jan 28, 2015 08:51|
ok fine then just give me something
|# ¿ Jan 28, 2015 08:52|
Make a Wish
“Three wishes,” the stone whispered to Farah. “Three wishes.” She turned the pebble between her fingers, the blue-speckled rock smooth on her skin. She’d found it in the gardens, amongst dahlias and jasmines, and it spoke to her and her only.
She’d tried to find out more about the peculiar stone, but her husband, Prince Kamir, had found her in the library and dragged the book right away from her. “Women do not concern themselves with such things,” he’d said. “You should read something more jovial, if at all. Why are you not in the gardens? The sun is beautiful and so are you.”
“Of course, beloved,” Farah said, and did as she was told.
That night, Farah admired the view from her chamber more than ever: the lights of city dancing in the distance below, far beyond the palace walls. The blue-speckled stone gleamed at her from the bedside table. She held it close to her chest. “Three wishes,” it whispered, and she whispered back, “I wish to be taken away from here.”
The stone was silent for a while, then hummed. “Two wishes,” it said. “Two wishes.”
The next day a minstrel visited their court. His name was Cuvo the Magnificent and he sung to them of faraway lands and ancient times. He was a handsome fellow, and his tales made Farah’s heart leap, yet Prince Kamir seemed to listen more out of politeness than interest: his eyelids dropped with each verse, and soon he excused himself, as he had business to attend to.
Farah stayed behind and asked questions of the minstrel: had he really been to that place, or had these things really transpired, or had there really been a giant called Ognobar who hurled a mountain at the gods? “Of course!” Cuvo said to each of these questions, and put his hand on his heart with a wink. ”All is real, and Cuvo only speaks true.”
“If only,” Farah said, “if only I could see these places.”
“Ah, my beautiful hostess, if only I could show you.”
There were things in the minstrel's eyes she had seen in many other men - hope, intrigue and a bit of lust. “Would you truly?” Farah said, and she already knew the answer. She lowered her voice. “So meet me at the garden by midnight, and we shall escape.”
The suggestion took Cuvo quite aback. “But mistress, this humble minstrel would never--”
“It will be worth your while, I swear,” she said, and smiled, and she knew she had him right then.
They left the palace under cover of the night, shrouding Farah in the guise of rags and mud. Cuvo was as good an actor as he was a bard, and he spoke for both of them: he was a drunk philanderer and she some silent whore. The guards had no reason to keep them from leaving. The minstrel led her right out, and they left the city the same night.
She stayed at Cuvo's side, and their new life together turned out quite exciting. Together they wandered from town to town, along bustling trade lanes where they met jovial merchants on their wagons, or grim-looking mercenaries in gleaming armors, or simple peasant folk travelling the roads. Cuvo showed her all kinds of places, markets with their smells and sounds, pubs and smoke-filled dens where he would perform at night, for change and a bed and a warm meal for each of them.
The wandering minstrel was quite smitten by Farah, and from what little money he had left he’d buy her presents, sweets and exotic fruits like she’d had in the palace. “Good against homesickness,” he’d say, and wink. And yet, she didn’t miss the palace at all.
Instead she took to exploring the streets, more and more often on her own, while Cuvo performed elsewhere. As much as she enjoyed listening to him, she’d soon learned all his stories by hard. He didn’t seem to mind, at first. They still spent the days together, laughing and joking and dancing, and at the end of each night she came back to lay with him, for she really felt deeply for him.
But the distance began to grow. It was superficial at first: Cuvo stopped bringing presents. He introduced her to people, but he did so half-heartedly, and conversations often moved on without her. Some nights he didn’t even join her in bed, and she woke up to Cuvo fully clothed and reeking of mead. Sometimes he wasn't there at all.
One night the festivities downstairs were so loud that she woke from her sleep, and Cuvo wasn’t there. She found him in the tavern hall, his face buried in the bosom of another wench. Farah’s fury stuck in her throat, pushed down by the dread of a broken heart. She slinked back off into her room, unnoticed.
That night she clutched her stone closely to her chest, and she made her second wish. “I wish for Cuvo to stay with me,” she said. And the stone hummed, and whispered, “One wish. One wish.”
“Your child will be a healthy one,” the doctor said. “Praise the gods!”
“Praise them indeed,” Farah said. She stroked her belly and smiled at Cuvo, who faintly raised the corners of his mouth back at her.
They stayed together as a couple, although the rings under Cuvo's eyes, the brief statements that made up most of their conversations, made it clear that it was more out of duty than love. He didn’t bother to cover up his nightly exploits anymore. He was away all day performing for money, and Farah would spend the nights home alone, looking up into the stars, wondering when her man would come home and stink of alcohol and women.
They'd gotten themselves a clay hut, and after many weeks in the same city Farah's sense of adventure had waned. The crowded streets, their colorful markets and exotic visitors, she knew them too well. She investigated the back alleys instead, places she hadn’t dared going to before. It was here that she found the spice merchant.
He was eloquent and pompous, and he spoke to her of lucid dreams so real that life seemed a cheap illusion. He presented her with a pipe, and a pack of herbs. Dreamgrass, he called it.
The coming weeks turned into a haze. The dreamgrass showed her a new world, like lifting the veil of a shadow theater and looking at the lights beyond. She barely noticed Cuvo coming and going. They only spoke to fight about the money they didn’t have, money that had mysteriously started disappearing.
“I’ll hold on to it,” Cuvo said. “Women are bad with money. I should have known.”
But Farah couldn’t live without the dreamgrass. So she sold the only thing she had left.
Patrons were easily found. The city was full of desperate men, and she was still beautiful. With each suitor she earned enough for a few more specks of dreamgrass, and each day she consumed a little more of it.
She never learned if it was the roughness of her patrons, or the dreamgrass, or maybe just the grief that had silently nagged at her from within, but one day she woke up to bloody bedsheets, her skirt glistening red. Cuvo wasn’t there. She dragged herself to the doctor alone, and returned a teary-eyed wreck.
Her baby was gone. Cuvo said nothing at that. There was nothing to say.
That night, the whisper of the blue-speckled stone rang louder than ever. “One wish,” it said. “One wish.” She clutched it to her chest and said, “I wish to go home.”
The stone hummed, and then it spoke no more.
The royal guards found them next morning, the door to their room bursting to splinters as the armored men forced their entry. Cuvo barely got out of bed, slurring insults at the intruders, his fist raised to a half-hearted punch in broken stupor before he went down, blood travelling from his nose in a wide arc back to the steel fist that had shattered it. Farah clutched the sheets to her chest and froze, and stared off into the distance.
It was the last she’d ever seen of Cuvo. They were taken back to the royal palace in different wagons, tried before different courts. Him before a judge, her before the Prince, who chided her and had her lashed for her infidelity. But she survived. The great Prince Kamir could not afford to publicly execute his wife.
Cuvo wasn’t quite as lucky. She didn’t attend his beheading. Instead she hid in her bed, sheets over her head, rocking back and forth and finally crying herself to sleep.
When all was over, the flickering lights in the city below had lost any meaning. She spent her days in the garden, far away from windows, books and tales. She surrounded herself with the scents of the flowers now, the jasmine and dahlias. Some of them faintly remembered her of the smell of dreamgrass. That was behind her. Outside. The palace walls shielded her from the outside.
The blue-speckled stone was smooth and cool in her hand. It said nothing.
She threw it across the wall, into the outside world.
They deserved each other.
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2015 01:17|
Farmer Joe's Special
"To grow is just to shrink a diff'rent way,"
the pumpkin said and shriveled. Farmer Joe
did not agree and shoveled heaps of dung
atop the squash who retched from the odor.
"Enough," it said. "I get your point, you lout!"
"Do you agree to grow from here on out?"
The pumpkin did, and so it rose anew,
growing and inflating from the dirt,
until the farmer once woke up to find,
his farm squashed by the pumpkin's orange skirt.
The moral of this lesson simply be:
don't lose your poo poo because you disagree.
|# ¿ Feb 3, 2015 10:42|
|# ¿ Feb 3, 2015 23:29|
|# ¿ Feb 3, 2015 23:49|
Deadeye Deadbeat Blues
The black guy still sits on my bench at the crossroads, looking off into the sky with tired eyes. I mean, I guess it’s not really my bench. I just liked having it for myself. And now I’m standing here, and the notepad burns a hole in my pocket that gets bigger with every passing car and I really just want to sit down on my bench and start taking notes.
I wonder if it’d be awkward to sit down next to him, here in the middle of nowhere. It probably wouldn’t. I’m just a tired passerby. I sit down.
The guy shuffles. “You went past yesterday,” he says, and something in me simultaneously sighs and screams.
“Uhh… yeah, sorry.” I pull out my notepad, lean back uncomfortably and start collecting the license plates of passing cars as if he wasn’t there, as if this was some super important task I’d have to focus on. But knowing there’s this body next to me, breathing, moving – it’s like trying to ignore a stingy mosquito.
I get hungry by noon, so I open my suitcase, its felt interior barren save for a sandwich and some water bottles.
“From your missus?” the guy says, and I grunt a response as I dig my teeth into my lunch. He goes silent again, then pulls out something shiny, leads it to his mouth and starts playing a shrill sound, furious, rude, shrieking in a rhythm that gallops in time with his blues harp jerking back and forth.
The sound annoys me, and to be honest I feel kinda stupid sitting here next to this guy, in the middle of nowhere, adding to my dumb license plate collection. I get up.
“Sorry,” the man says. “My music bother you?”
“You gonna be back tomorrow?”
“Sure,” I say. And then I pretty much have to, because I promised.
The next day I sit down on the bench and the guy nods to me and I nod back because I don’t want to be rude. “Name’s Barry,” he says, and I introduce myself as Nigel, which is wrong, but I don’t know the guy.
“I hope you don’t mind me,” he says. “Figure this was your bench before I came along?”
“It’s for anyone,” I say.
“So... you’re on vacation here?”
“I’m just passing through.” His eyes wander down to my suitcase and a gentle smile grows on his face. “You work here?”
My face must have run red, so he quickly adds: “Sorry. None a my business.”
“And you?” I say.
He smiles sadly and lifts his harp to his lips. I wait for the harsh shrieks to return, but instead he plays it slow, a heart-wrenching blues that doesn’t seem to have any lyrics. It starts out gentle, the whine of the harmonica soon building up to passionate cries, a prayer aimed heavenward.
“I used to have a problem with alcohol,” he says when he’s done playing and wound down. “Been a poo poo father, too. Never around when they needed me, never sober. I tried to make up for it. So we grab a bite one night, and it gets late, and I have one or two more beers than I should. And I drive us back home, a little tired, a little drunk and the liquor takes over.
“They said my wife, my daughter felt nothing. But I've seen the scratch marks on the polish where someone had tried to claw herself out of the wreck. And yet I’m here, still breathing.”
“Oh. Uhm, I’m sorry,” I say.
“I’ve told this story often since. Sometimes it feels good to confess.”
“I see.” I look to the ground.
“That’s fine,” he says and leads the harp back to his lips. “Whenever you’re ready.”
I feel like an rear end in a top hat all day, night and morning. When I get back to Barry it pours right out of me.
“I lost my job,” I say.
The expression on his face turns grave and he nods and listens. I sit down.
“You know how sometimes you have bad news for someone and you just can’t bring yourself to tell them right now and then?” I say. “You just lock up, and then you pretend everything’s fine. And you keep doing it, waiting for the right moment that never comes, until the lie comes easier to you than the truth.
“I never told my wife. It’s been three weeks, me sitting out on this bench in the middle of nowhere, making these loving notes, and I know it will come crashing down on me. But I can’t go back and confess to her, not on top of all the other stuff I couldn’t tell her in the first place. And it kills me. You know, she’s my wife. I love her. I’m just a loving coward.”
“She does seem to make great sandwiches,” Barry says.
“She’s great. Not because of the sandwiches. But yeah, that too.”
“You know what I’m thinking?” Barry says.
“We both failed the people we love.”
“But you still got a chance to make it right,” he says, and moves the harp back up to his lips and starts playing.
I return the next day and I hear Barry’s harp from a mile away.
“How’d it go?” he says.
“I’m here to say goodbye. No more walks for me.”
“You told her?”
“She got pretty mad. We’ll be working on things, I guess.”
“But… if you ever want to stop by--”
“Actually, I think I’ll be moving on.”
The awkward silence returns and now I wish he’d play some music. Give us something to listen to.
“You feel better?” he says.
“I don’t want to lose my family.”
“Well,” he says, “that’s always the thing.” He raises the harp to his lips. “At least you’ll know you tried.” And then he plays one last time. And I sit and listen to his bleeding heart.
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2015 00:08|
thunderdomerdome 132 economy of prompt
Signups: Friday, 13th Feb 2015, 23.59 CET
Submissions: Sunday, 15th Feb 2015, 23.59 CET
PEOPLE WHO WILL LONGINGLY STARE AT THEIR LIQUOR CABINET BY MONDAY NIGHT:
The Saddest Rhino
LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE
Bad Ideas Good
A Classy Ghost
Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 22:36 on Feb 13, 2015
|# ¿ Feb 10, 2015 06:37|
Signups are closed
|# ¿ Feb 13, 2015 23:00|
Submissions are closed
Hand in your stories within a reasonable timeframe and I might still read and crit them. Obliterati, you have until I wake up before I call in the toxx.
vvv lol. ok. last one. let it be said that entenzahn is a merciful judge
Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 23:07 on Feb 15, 2015
|# ¿ Feb 15, 2015 23:00|
Week 132 Judgement - The protagonist dies at the end
I’m a little surprised. The prompt was wide open and the word count low so naturally I expected a truckload of pebble-sized drivel washing over me, but this week wasn’t bad. In fact it was… okay? *looks to his cojudges, next to Rhino’s empty chair Sitting Here make a so-so gesture* Yes! Yes, it was okay! *claps* Come on, a round of applause, everyone. This is for you, you honorable mentions:
Ironic Twist, who finished a close second with his strong POV of a blind man waking up to madness;
SurreptitiousMuffin, for the solid portrayal of a rotten world run by a corrupted police force;
sebmojo, who mercifully spared us the gun violence and went for the wonderfully written aftermath;
Savagely_Random, because DINOIRSAURS™
Don’t stop now! We still have on more to go. This week’s winner, the capo, the shadow that stalks the night because, like any other domer, he probably started writing on a sunday evening, the one and only Fumblemouse, who wrote a strong tragedy with few words that even a surprise protagonist shooting couldn’t ruin.
Okay. That’s enough. You can stop clapping. Dishonorable mentions:
ZeBourgeoisie: We had many stock noir shootout stories this week, but out of all of them, yours stood out as the most aimless one.
leekster: This was better than other stories I’ve seen of you, but not good and also your grammar issues made my cojudges froth at their mouths.
I silently shake my head at this week’s loser: perpetulance, and their confusing mess of a story about a junkie who goes around killing off dealers for dope, or maybe he only killed this one dealer as a special occasion, anyway, what’s important is the dope.
Finally, SadisTech, contagonist, Bad Ideas Good, Fuschia tude, starr, blue squares, CommissarMega, BashGhouse and JuniperCake, I can only assume that the thought of my impeding merciless judgement made you curl up like a ball and cry when you were supposed to submit your stories, or maybe the deadline was just too harsh for you to finish those mighty 500 words, and for that I apologize.
Fumblemouse, THE STAGE IS YOURS!
|# ¿ Feb 17, 2015 02:28|
Week 132 crits - Less is Noir
This was decent. Nothing to hate or love, but a bunch of entries we liked and a lot we were lukewarm on. There were some nice hooks and lots of complete plots, so that was very good. Little rambling, modest amounts of world building, many endings that ended at the end, and, most importantly, the majority of stories didn’t bore us.
That said, writing 500-word stories is hard, and even though some of you stepped up your game, you really have to be on top of it here. Make every word count. Tick off all the boxes: have a plot where something happens; be clear about it; make me care. Not more, not less. Remember what de Saint-Exupery said about perfection.
Action is always nice and I’m a big sucker for popcorn reading, but at such a tight limit, 200 words about a gunfight are loving ballast. Unfortunately a lot of stories went exactly there: a revolver, a bookie/thug/detective, a bang and someone died. That’s okay. I asked for it, we all knew it was coming. But take a look at the top picks and tell me what they did differently. Innovate. Twist the formula. And make me care. Don’t sacrifice your character’s personal arc for a shootout scene. It’s a bad trade.
ZeBourgeoisie – Old Tony
Random murder chase story
This was a tight piece. It’s a shame it boiled down to “Dude walks in on a murder and gives chase and gets shot.” I don’t know why any of this happened. By that I mean I don’t know why any of these characters did any of the things they did, but I also mean I don’t get why you wrote this story. What were you trying to tell me? It just seems so random. There were other stories that were just noir shootouts, but this one had no cohesion.
Ends with the protagonist getting shot. The first of many??? (yes)
Screaming Idiot – One Last Bottle Before I Go
Reminiscent barfly story
Reads like the synopsis to a longer story. There’s a plot somewhere in the background, but you give me the debrief and the coda. Not sure how I feel about this. You could just pick a pivotal scene, happening in the now, to speak for the story as a whole. Maybe that’s what you tried here, but then I don’t think you made a good pick; we just watch this guy sit on the bar and be sad. Lots of cliches, but you do make the voice work. I liked the prose. Mediocre idea nicely executed.
He He. Executed. Get it?
hotsoupdinner – Detention
Hardboiled school drama. This was a good attempt at something different, and easy to read. I would have liked if you’d pronounced the fear on Tracy’s part, or found some other way to give this more of an emotional, personal impact. As it is I didn’t really feel much except I guess Tracy got a bit annoyed. Also the teacher talks odd. That said, it was slick and complete and had a nice ending line. It was fine.
Ironic Twist – Alley
Blind dude murder scene
I liked this a lot. Your characters have distinct personalities that shine through with little effort on your part. The final realisation is very effective, especially after you’ve made Yarboro the sympathetic one. It’s pretty vignetty, but it creates a nice mood and a dark final picture.
What takes away from this is the passivity of the protagonist - exposition happens and then he wakes up and realizes that his buddy is dead. Still, this was much better than any of your other stories I’ve critted. It was always clear what was going on and I cared about the actors.
I would also like to really point out that these guys have some phenomenal names.
SurreptitiousMuffin – English Rose
True Detective meets Constable Xinling
Yes Muffin, that’s right. I remember that story. I also think it was better than this one. Your writing isn’t quite so clear and for a scene that hints at a lot of things it doesn’t always get its point across. The phone threw me off the most. It’s just so weird that he takes it out right then and there, and I’m not sure to what end. The coverup in general is just so loving obvious that it verges on the comical.
When I gave the story some more time and really made sure to work out the details it unfolded like a beautiful origami crane, but this is Thunderdome and your target audience (me) is dumb and hates to read so keep that in mind.
Jitzu_the_Monk – Tuesday at Work
Back in the day I yelled at you for being too obvious but now I feel like you’re overcompensating because I have no idea what you’re on to with this piece. I guess the chronology is in reverse, but it’s so badly implemented that I didn’t realize it for a while and even now I’m not sure what’s going on. Why did you choose to begin and end the story where you did? Why is the woman jumping, what’s the protagonist’s role and who is the man with the booze? I think there’s something about people getting what they deserve here, but the woman’s role is too vague and important at the same time. First we see her commit suicide and then the story is suddenly about the man’s promotion as he gushes at her from the other side of the street?
It’s kinda like Muffin’s story, only when I take the time to work out the details it implodes into a shameful pile of confetti.
Savagely_Random – The Long Nightfall
Dinoirsaurs (yes I’m using that pun again)
This was hella cool and an original take on the old cliches. I’m not sure about your choice of protagonist, as Ajax doesn’t overcome any significant challenges or learn anything about himself in the process - this piece might have been better from Milo’s perspective who shows some signs of internal conflict. It was also a bit too wordy and overt in places, which is a loving sin at 500 words. Still: nice idea, well played. An HM I didn’t have to fight for.
Jagermonster – All In
A recurring theme this week were slick action pieces that lacked personality. This is the epitome. Like, it’s nice, and the action is there and I get what’s going on, both physically and thematically, but I don’t care much about the guy and he seems to overcome his adversaries pretty easily. First he’s some nerdy bookie and suddenly he plays the PD and the mob against each other and kills them all, no sweat babe. It’s a solid entry, but shallow.
Schneider Heim – Nori is just an anagram for Noir
Confusing japanese lesbian proposal story
This was messy, from the purple prose in the beginning to the part where I kept confusing Nori and Miki because their names are so similar and they’re both females and one of them also goes by another wacky nickname. Didn’t care much for the pacing either - Nori is looking for black yarn and I don’t know why and it’s like, this is a 500 word story get to the point. And then it’s a proposal. And she accepts. THE END. Cute but it didn’t rock my boat.
Guiness13 – Rescue
Paper-filled envelope story
This had a complete arc but it wasn’t particularly inspired. I don’t care much about the protagonist and I never see his girlfriend so I don’t know if I’m supposed to show some kind of reaction at the news of her untimely demise, but I don’t. Another conflict that’s resolved by a dude with a revolver shooting people. At least he doesn’t get far with it, so it’s realistic. One more for the death reel.
Benny Profane – Sardines
Dame’s rise and fall
My co-judges liked this a lot and I can’t deny that it was a strong contender for an HM, but something about it bothered me. At first I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I’m pretty sure it’s the voice, or more precisely, the lack of emotion in it. You came up with a very complete story arc, and the writing is good and it holds my interest, but at the end I’m left unsatisfied, like there was some emotional journey taking place and I was left out. Because really, stuff happens, and some of it is pretty drastic, but the narrator never shows any emotion, it’s just this grizzled dame coldly recounting her life story and I never feel much obliged to root for anyone here.
It was strong, but the competition was stronger.
Grizzled Patriarch – The Old Breed
Let’s start with the good: you manage to creep me out because the whole thing where the protagonist is suddenly dying and paralyzed and can’t tell anyone about it genuinely makes me shiver. It’s a situation straight from our nightmares and nobody wants to be in it, so that makes it easy to relate and feel for the guy.
But it’s pretty random. It’s just an accident that happens, and then the aftermath drags on, and on, and he’s lying there until the story runs out of words and ends in the middle, leaving me with what feels like more of a bizarre creepypasta than a noir story. I don’t know where you could have taken this, but you should have thought of something.
leekster – Drowning in It
This is a vast improvement over the last story I’ve judged from you. There’s a character with a motivation, the conflict is personal and warrants emotional investment, and it begins and ends when it’s supposed to. It’s complete and the situation is actually interesting. However, your prose drags it down a bit - too wordy in the beginning, to messy in the end. It also takes too long to get to the point. The part where she yells at her ring throws me off - you’re trying to be dramatic here, but it doesn’t seem like something she would actually do.
So I thought this piece was flawed but solid. What signed your DM-warrant was a strong competition and also my co-judges hated your grammatical/tense issues. Still, you’re improving. Keep ‘em coming.
perpetulance – One Day at a Time
Much like the kinda nerdy, voluminous kid at school this story tries too hard to be cool. The prose is very slick and competent, but I don’t get what’s going on in the background. Is he just driving around killing dealers for drugs? Is he doing it regularly or is this a one-time job? What are you trying to tell me with this? The conflict is solved through violence, and the protagonist just kinda breezes through it, so it’s like, you give him a pseudo-hurdle to jump over and he pats himself on the back and goes back to play with his hard-earned dope. He’s not a hero, he’s not a tragic figure I can relate to, he’s just a junkie who kills a dealer on a whim, illustrating nothing.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the worst piece ever, but somebody had to take the fall and your story was at the same time one of the messiest and shallow. Don’t do drugs, kids.
Fumblemouse – Encroaching
Child abuse story
I liked this a lot. The scene shift is weird at first but you employ it densely enough to turn it into a stylistic instrument. The prose is super efficient. The end of the first scene is a particularly good example of how to use few words to hit the reader like a truck without being too obvious - I’m left to fill in the horrible gaps myself, but you make it easy for me.
The protagonist is likeable, each scene has a point and the pace is brisk and enjoyable. I’m left with the story of a tragic life in a dark, dark world. The twist protagonist shooting was pretty trite and I know you could have come up with a more original downer ending had you really wanted to, but otherwise this story ticks all the boxes. Congratulations on your victory, it’s well-deserved.
LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE – Watching The Watsons
This is a nice twist, but the way you’ve written it kinda depends on playing hide-and-seek with the reader. Savagely_Random wrote a dino noir story and it worked because he took his idea and developed it in front of me. You hide yours from me, and then I get a vague, weirdly worded noire cliche so you can hold out on your punchline until I realize halfway in that the detective is a dog!!! lol!!
Then you have a hidden punchline within the hidden punchline, where it turns out the dog, we didn’t actually know was a dog at that point, hadn’t been attacked by something big, though we'd had no frame of reference as to what we should have expected him to have been attacked by, but instead it was a dog, and the dog was attacked by a tiny spider-- do you have a headache yet
A better dog story than most I have read, but it played its cards too close to its chest.
Walamor – The Best of Intentions
Mhhh yeah this is pretty cool. It’s a full story, the setting is original for noir and the characters are likeable and well-rounded. Jaime’s goal is noble, so I can relate to it, and Beth sticks with him for better or worse, so I like her too. The beginning immediately creates a sense of urgency and it slowly builds from there, showing us what exactly is at stake, and why.
Why didn’t this make the HM cut? Because there were stories we agreed on more readily. Also I guess tense problems, though they didn’t bother me personally. Either way, this was very good and leagues above your old acquaintance story. Well done.
crabrock – Murder Beneath the Mountain
This was decent plotwise, but the writing was messy and unclear in spots. Passive voice, awkward sentence structures, purple prose - I feel like you tried a too hard to be fancy, at the expense of clarity. It made the setup and the flight scene hard to follow, for me at least.
So I don’t know what a fault line is, but I took from the story that digging too close to it gets people killed. Didn’t the diggers know this? At first I suspected the foreman somehow blew up his guys on purpose, because everybody immediately turned around and tried to kill him back. The pacing was nice and after deciphering the flight scene I’d say so was the action, though I would have liked to see some emotional reaction to the explosion other than “Okay, time to leg it.”
Clear theme - getting too greedy doesn’t go well - and an ending that makes sense but leaves me with kind of a hollow feeling. I don’t think the protagonist learned much from this other than to keep his savings in an offshore bank account.
newtestleper – Dirty Lucre
I don’t know much about Italian gangs or language so I was confused on my first read-through - is Cancro an Italian gang? It kinda looks like Camorra. What does the medicine and cancer have to do with anything? Is Cancro cancer? Are they the cancer mafia? What kind of business model is this? By now I think the Italian mafia somehow spreads cancer, though I’m still not sure how or why, only that they seem to make money with it? You know what, whatever.
The real conflict, the cop taking the bribe, was clear enough and nicely done. The pacing was slow, but that’s okay. Cool ending. A competent piece overall, but the clarity issues dragged it down away from HM range. It was a good attempt.
Djeser – Inga: Investigator, Retriever, and Rogue For Hire
Djeser you fucker. The beginning was so cool and I was ready to shower you with candy-colored comedy accolades. You could have been a made man!! But then the whole secret agent thingy dragged on and on, petering out into a long-winded bar scene that went from fun to pointless and lead into a very hollow ending. Cool, the kobold got his gold. Why do I care? But Entenzahn, it’s D&D noir! Waste of potential if you ask me.
Still. Best opening.
A Classy Ghost – Footprints
This is a lot like the dog noir story - you have a neat idea, but then you realize that it’s not enough to stand on its own leg, so instead of taking it somewhere interesting you hide it from me so you can confuse me with *words* and surprise me with the punchline. Oh poo poo, it was funny all along!! Because he was hunting bigfoot
Slick prose and the ending kinda hints at the story this could have been, and it would have been hella cool, but you should have done it, and committed to it.
Also, who the gently caress is she?
Capntastic – Apple Pie
My mind wants to blank out halfway through every time I read this. It’s a 500 word flash fic story and you keep bombarding me with detailed impressions of the scenery - I want you to get to the point! Show me the action! And then you do it, and you show me ALL OF IT. You jump around between ideas, locales and times so quickly I have to hold on until my brain-knuckles turn white and my brain goes “Noooo mooooreeeee” (because it’s hard to be heard over the harsh winds you see) and I start losing my sense over where I am or who’s there with me.
There’s a decent story here but you need to untangle it.
sebmojo – Black wedding
Irish gangst-- wait, nevermind
Originally I was a bit muffled that you jumped over the pivotal scene - the shooting of the priest - but then we already had our fair share of gun violence this week and what you showed me was so well written, so honest and gritty, I just had to enjoy it. What I liked most about this is that it feels so real. The people feel real. And it’s still got that noir tinge to it. Well done.
Main caveat is that the revelation comes so late. It verges on a twist ending, but you keep the pace up so it kinda works with the mystery approach it’s taking.
Obliterati – Just One More
<SaddestRhino> obilerati wrote philip marlowe fanfic and i'm like?????????????????????
This didn’t really go anywhere either. You were already disqualified but Jesus Christ dude.
Wangless Wonder – Ladysmith
Cop murdered by wife story
Yeah, nice piece. I’m not sure if it’s an exposition extravaganza or a story within a story - dancing on thin ice here, bud! Also you have a twist ending but it kinda works because the story that comes before still stands on its own and is in fact enriched by the revelation. I still think it would be better without, but that’s fine, have it your way. Prose is real nice. A solid entry with a faint twist on the cliche. Decent, especially for a first story.
That’s it. No questions? Good. It was a mercifully short week so I’ll do a line crit for anyone who asks.
Never say I don’t do anything for you.
|# ¿ Feb 17, 2015 23:04|
Mendora – The Moon Goddess. She casts her faint light into the darkness. Those surrounded by the night pray to her, as do those looking for hope, or hidden truths.
|# ¿ Feb 17, 2015 23:48|
What a lovely god
he named it after me so it's cool
|# ¿ Feb 19, 2015 00:18|
Gods: Mendora, Alothaa, God of Winter, (Ma'indo, Lawgiver)
Apothekon’s spear was heavy.
Heavy, because the incline was steep and his weight dragged him down. Heavy, because a great task lay ahead, the fate of his people weighing on his shoulders.
Heavy, because he did not want to use it.
His brother Etheus awaited him at the peak, preparing ritual implements - incense neatly laid out, herbs mixed and ground in bowls. A goat was bound to a wooden post, waiting for the slaughter. The accursed golden charm dangled from a chain on Etheus’s neck, infusing the air with a wrongness that made the surroundings feel dirty. He didn’t look up when Apothekon called out his name, but he did laugh.
“Finally, the prodigy has come to stop me,” Etheus said. “Which one sent you?”
“The raven told me of your madness.”
“Ma’indo, the old arbiter? I’m sure he gave you some stern talking to, so you'd take this quest.”
“Is it sin to slay your brother, when he too is a sinner? I never keep up with their fancy rules.” He chuckled. “Wonder what the Lawgiver has to say about that.”
Etheus had been young and innocent once. They’d discovered rivers and hollow tree stumps together, sparred with their wooden swords, pretended to be demigods ruling over barren patches of land. That had been before the charm had driven their father mad, and done the same to him. But even now - surely the old Etheus must have still been there, somewhere. If only he could have been reached.
Apothekon’s spear tumbled to the ground as he knelt before his brother.
“Please. I come to you not as an enemy. Think about what you are doing. To banish the Gods - what will come of the world? No light, no hope, no knowledge. You will plunge us all into darkness.”
“The Gods are the darkness.” Etheus held up his pendant, its faint glow distorting the air around it as he came closer. He could have used it to annihilate Apothekon as soon as the spear had left his fist - and yet he hadn’t. That alone gave him hope. He could still save Etheus.
“You shouldn’t have let go of your spear,” Etheus said, and touched Apothekon by the shoulder.
Red stone walls surrounded him from all sides. He recognized the place - Ugula, a canyon maze far away from the hills, rumoured to have starved many a lost wanderer. He had conquered this place before, but now time was dear, and Apothekon had to find his way back quickly. So he knelt, and he prayed to Alothaa, Goddess of the Lost, so that he might strike a bargain. And the goddess replied, her voice a faint murmur of shifting sands and tumbling pebbles, echoing one word, and one word only: “Sacrifice. Sacrifice. Sacrifice.”
“I wish nothing more than to find my brother. All other directions are useless to me. I will abandon to you all my dreams, all my goals and hopes but this one, if you guide me where I need to go today.”
The murmur faded, and Apothekon was filled with calm, a dead weight filling him from within. He had a singular purpose, and that purpose was to find his brother, and he knew exactly where to go.
“You have some nerve to come back here,” Etheus said upon Apothekon’s return. “Maybe you should just pick up that spear and get it over with, save yourself the trouble.”
“The Gods have helped me find you. They are kind, and fair.”
“You’re droing they’re bidding. They probably made you pay for it.”
“This charm. Think of what it did to our father. He didn't see clear, and neither do you.”
Etheus paused for a second. He stomped closer, the charm disappearing in his clenched fist. “I remember what it did,” he said. And what the gods did, and their henchmen, and this spear. I remember every day." He grabbed Apothekon by the shoulder once more.
Harsh winds pulled at Apothekon from all directions, the frost burning his skin, biting into it, burrowing itself deep down into his core. The mountaintop of Glamoros was closer than the maze, but the sun was setting and time was running out. He could not afford to be slowed down by the harsh winds. So he knelt again, and prayed. He prayed to the winds, to the snow and the and cold, he prayed for respite, and the wind answered, a distant howl spoken by the blind God of Winter himself.
“A sacrifice,” it echoed.
“Winter is dark and blind,” Apothekon said. “It is no justice that a God so magnificent should be thusly hindered, when a mere human is not. I offer my sight to you, that I may be worthy of your assistance.” And the winds subsided before the world around him turned to black. And with his eyesight gone the cold stopped biting, and Apothekon thanked the God of Winter for his guidance and went forth through the cold.
Etheus’s laughter pierced the sweltering heat that emanated from the rotten charm. It sounded more uncertain now. Hesitant.
“You insist on coming back,” he said. “Why?”
“Because I still hope. Hope may never die. Without hope, we are nothing.”
“Hope.” Etheus all but spat out the word. “I had hope once. Father is dead. You are the enemy. I have no more hope. I have a purpose. Finish me, or get out of my way.”
The pain in his voice was too much to bear for Apothekon. A final time, he knelt. He fumbled for his spear, his fingertips brushing the smooth wood, reaching, clutching the staff. He pointed the tip skywards. Owls hooted in the distance. Wolves howled at the moon. The nocturnal voices of Mendora - Moon Goddess, matron of the light in the dark - were demanding a sacrifice.
“Please return hope to my brother,” he said. “Please shine your light where he only sees darkness.”
“Too much,” the owls hooted. “Too much.”
“Then I shall offer the greatest sacrifice. For I know the moon chases the sun, and so I shall offer you mine. My fire, my inner candle. Return hope to my brother, and my light is yours, oh Goddess of the Moon.”
And the crickets chirped, and the wolves howled, and as the goddess accepted his offer, Apothekon tumbled to the ground, his spear rolling off down the slope.
“Brother,” Etheus said, his voiced changed. It wavered, broke, dripping sadness. “Brother, what have you done?”
A stone fell into the dirt. Apothekon smiled. It was done. Boots crunched through the dirt before Etheus knelt next to him.
“The Gods, they may not be selfless,” Apothekon said. “But you may be. Never forget that.”
“By the Gods. I won't.“
Apothekon stared heavenward. For a moment, he could've sworn he could make out the moon benath the darkness. He nodded slowly, and closed his tired, empty eyes, while his brother silently wept.
And so Apothekon gave his life on that hill, and his sacrifice awakened Etheus the Peacemaker, and for all eternity he shall be known as Apothekon, Champion of Hope. And humanity shall always march onward, guided by his undying light.
|# ¿ Feb 23, 2015 02:20|
interprompt: the bumbling victory of the forces of evil
200 words - will grade and maybe crit (a little)
|# ¿ Feb 23, 2015 10:37|
Wow, what a tw--
what a twi--- pfchchchchch...
WHAT A TWIST
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2015 20:43|
|# ¿ Feb 25, 2015 12:16|
oh yeah that interprempt thing
Humor is always a slippery slope ( ) but I would have liked this more if you would have really built up the final confrontation to end with the hero dying accidentially, which wouldn't have been the most refined joke in the world, but I would have liked it more than what you did, which is exactly the same only you start telling the joke after it happened.
Rating: two noodles
|# ¿ Feb 27, 2015 00:06|
DON'T LISTEN TO THEIR LIES this story was actually the best. ever. gently caress you, im keeping it
WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP
Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 02:24 on Jan 1, 2016
|# ¿ Mar 2, 2015 00:42|
|# ¿ Mar 3, 2015 01:08|
In. This is your chance to fulfill your lifelong dream of having me write a story about a TMBG song of your choice, so make it count!
|# ¿ Mar 3, 2015 10:59|
Offering three (3) line crits for my pitiful failure last week. Just link me your story and ill give it it you.
I'd love a second opinion on my piece Atlantis.
Like, literally second, because the cojudges for that week hosed off to Nokritistan.
|# ¿ Mar 4, 2015 23:05|
|# ¿ Nov 29, 2021 09:43|
The Curious Undeath of Grumpy Old Mr. Sanders
Grumpy old Mr. Sanders clenched his jaw, grasped the edge of the kitchen table with all his feeble might and refused to die. Never mind the cramps in his legs, the spinning walls, the shallow breath. His heart thumped, and thump-thump-thumped and then it gave out, but he still sat there, staring indignantly at the wife who’d poisoned him.
“That’s not fair,” she said. “You should be dead.”
“Hrmpfh!” Mr. Sanders said.
He’d noticed a slight lack of tender love in the few years since their marriage, but this felt a bit crass. It’s not like she couldn’t have waited for him to go on his own. Besides, he still had places to be. That was the worst about it – the sheer rudeness! But then she’d always been inconsiderate.
“Babs would have finished the job properly,” he said, and spat out a piece of tissue. Lung maybe. The thumping noise of his unconscious wife hitting the ground made him cackle gleefully.
Death arrived, a miasmatic black cloud that stood up into a tall cloak, towering over him, charging the air with rot and decay - just being near him made Mr. Sanders’s hands feel dirty. “I am Death,” the robed figure thundered. “Your life has been claimed. Come with me, now!”
“Or else what,” Mr. Sanders said. “You’re going to kill me?”
Death’s bony, pointed finger stopped mid-air, where it hovered uncertainly.
“Mr. Sanders,” Death said, leaning on his manifested scythe, “I know this doesn’t seem very fair to you. Here you go just living out your final days in peace and then this… woman… punches your ticket to a premature fare along the way of all flesh.” He put an amicable arm around old Mr. Sanders, who clenched his jaw even tighter and shifted in his chair like an unruly child setting in for the long haul.
“I sympathize,” Death said, “but here’s the problem: there’s others. Same deal as you. All the time. Now, imagine I let you live. So the next guy who gets poisoned also wants to live, because fair’s fair, right? And then someone completely else dies of a heart attack, and it’s like, ‘Oh, but you let these two guys go, so why not me?’ And before you know it nobody dies anymore and you can probably see why we can’t have that. So why don’t we just do this nice and clean and you come along now?”
Mr. Sanders glared straight up into the black void beneath Death’s hood and said: “I want to speak the manager.”
“Oh.” Mr. Sanders could hear Death roll his eyes. “Her.”
God manifested in a ray of light, her white beard waving in a wind that only existed to beef up the pomp of her entrance. She made a sweeping introductory bow and, to Mr. Sanders’s great amusement, stumbled over his unconscious wife.
“Mr. Sanders,” she said, pulling herself back up along the kitchen table, “what seems to be the problem?”
“This hokey-pokey rascal over there.” Mr. Sanders pointed a thumb at Death. “Tell him to stop badgering honest folk.”
“Mr. Death is a respected employee of this universe. He’s only doing his job. This would all be much easier if you--”
“Alright, I’m coming.”
“Oh.” God was taken quite aback by grumpy old Mr. Sanders’s sudden compliance. She smiled, but the way she did it screamed well thanks for calling me for this bullshit.
“...for a price.”
God threw a glance towards Death, who made a gently caress-if-I-know-gesture. The annoyance in her groan charged the air so heavily it peeled the paint off the walls and spread through the building, the block and the entire town, up to a point where five streets over a character completely unrelated to this story sighed and decided to divorce his wife.
“What do you want then?” God said.
“I want… to see the Grand Canyon.”
“The Grand Canyon. And you will come along?”
“That’s what I said.”
And then they were there. The canyon stretched out far into the distance, furrows and hills and piles of stone shining red in the setting sun. Mighty rock layered on top of mighty rock, in all sizes and formations, a maze of continental plates flexing their muscles. A show of force from a force of nature - forever engraved into Earth’s shell.
It was the first time Mr. Sanders had smiled in a long time.
“Happy?” God said.
“If you don’t mind me asking, Mr. Sanders…what’s the deal here?”
“Babs…” he said.
“My first wife. Barbara. A good one. Would have never poisoned me.”
“She’d always wanted to see the canyon. Always badgering me about it. ‘Let’s go to the canyon. Let’s just pack our things and drive there.’ But we never got around to it. I was a busy man you see, and this place was so far away. She… passed too soon.”
“Before she died, I had to promise I’d come here. At least see that drat canyon for myself.”
“And then you never did?”
“I thought I still had time. You know how it is.”
God absent-mindedly stroked her beard and nodded. Mr. Sanders stared back out into the landscape, amused wrinkles forming around his eyes despite his best efforts. “I think you did a pretty good job here if you don’t mind me saying.”
“Thanks,” God said. She hesitated, but then she added: “You seem an okay guy, actually. Like, I don’t know, but I’d be fine if you wanted to live a little longer?”
There was no reply. God turned, and next to her grumpy old Mr. Sanders didn’t look so grumpy anymore. He stared into the setting canyon sun with peace in his eyes, and behind them, Mr. Sanders was quite gone.
“That’s okay,” God said, and turned back towards the sunset. “Give Babs my regards.”
|# ¿ Mar 9, 2015 01:06|