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Jun 26, 2013

More in than the belly button of a 200 kg person.


Jun 26, 2013

Stick Wins at Pissing

E: 1377 words (yes it's over, I'll take my lumps)

Gramps didn't tell many stories about his time in Vietnam.

He wasn't shy about sharing his opinion on most other topics, and he was good value when he had enough beer in him, particularly if you were fifteen and bored shitless because your family had dragged you to a rickety cabin out in the deepest bush on what they claimed was a holiday. Technically, the cabin was part of a farm; Kevin only believed this because a cow in the throes of some urgent bovine emotion had bellowed outside his window every time he'd begun to drift off to sleep the previous night.

Kevin dumped the last load of dishes into the sink and sourly dropped a handful of cutlery on top of them, one piece at a time. He eyed off the tray of apple crumble Mum had just put on the table. It smelled warm and sweet.

"It's got to cool off," she snapped at him, and flicked him in the face with an oven mitt.

"Jesus, Mum!"

"Stop being miserable and go get your bloody grandfather for dessert. He's gone outside to smoke. I'll be serving this in five minutes and if you aren't back you miss out because everyone's going to want seconds." She shook her head. "You'd think we're dragging you over hot coals, bringing you on a holiday like this."

Gramps, it turned out, was taking a powerful piss off the end of the porch, beer in one hand, stream arcing into the night air and drumming on the ground. He belched in satisfaction. "Got to be at least ten feet," he proclaimed. "Bet you don't have the bladder to beat that at your age."

Kevin quashed the competitive impulse. "If Mum saw me doing that I'd never be able to pee again without a bag plumbed into me."

"Soft," the old man grunted. He slumped into a chair and lit a cigarette.

"Mum's made a crumble and there's ice-cream. If you want some we better go in when you're done smoking."

"Got to go when you've got to go. Reminds me..." Gramps muttered, as if Kevin hadn't dared to mention dessert, "... the pissing contest we had just outside of Nui Dat. Couldn't forget that one."

Kevin quietly sat down in the other chair. Gramps was at least eight beers in, prime wartime reminiscence territory. This story should be worth hearing. "Did you win?"

"Nup. I was in with a chance for a while there, but..." Gramps sighed. "Guess I better give you the set-up."

He crushed out the stub of his cigarette and took a gulp of beer.

"1 ATF was dug in pretty well at Nui Dat. It'd been a quiet few months and we were going stir-crazy. We had a decent supply of booze and we could score pot off the Vietnamese, but we were young men and we were hearing about all the fighting that we weren't involved in.

"When we were offered a chance to get out we jumped at it. This one was non-combat, it was a week or so setting up a medical staging area. We were just there to hump some supplies and sandbags around and hopefully get onto a few pretty American nurses.

"One of the blokes that was along was this little feller nobody liked. He had this thin blonde hair and these little round glasses and he was preachy religious. We called him Stick."

Kevin blinked. "Stick?"

"As in had a stick up his arse, boy. A real little poo poo, he was. Didn't even drink. He dobbed us in a few times before he worked out that most of the brass were pretty happy to turn a blind eye when we didn't cross the line.

"Anyway, we found ourselves with a bunch of liberty time this particular day, and it turned out the only nurse around was a grandmother in her fifties. So we were sitting around getting pissed as farts and then one of the guys climbed up on an embankment and took a bloody enormous piss out towards the treeline. For the next few hours we were all getting drunker and drunker and trying for distance. We agreed that the winner would get a packet of smokes from each of us.

"So Stick finds us doing this and has a pink fit. Tells us we're disgracing Australia and he goes off to be by himself. And then Bob tells us that he's managed to get a hold of some acid off one of the Yanks, and he's come up with a plan for old Stick there.

"Long story short, we went to Stick and said we'd seen the error of our ways and took him a nice cup of coffee to make amends, and then we left him lying on his cot and genuinely believing that he was riding a Huey up into Heaven to talk to God first-hand, and we went back to our pissing.

"I was in the lead because I'd just come up with a technique that I was sure was a winner. I'd give it a few little tugs before letting it rip..." Gramps demonstrated with a hand motion and Kevin winced, "... and that seemed to tighten up the pipes and put some extra force behind it.

"So I'm up on the wall pissing and then all of a sudden there are gunshots out behind the treeline and I hear bullets whip past me through the air. I fall backwards and piss all over myself and the camp behind me is starting to poo poo itself because there weren't supposed to be Viet Cong anywhere within twenty miles, but there's what sounds like a whole battalion taking pot shots at us.

"I dunno how long we're lying there without weapons anywhere nearby, keeping our heads down because we're drunk and packing poo poo, and waiting to see what happens next. And then suddenly I see these luminous white arse cheeks passing me by. Stick has got up, stripped bare arse naked and come out for a stroll. His hair's all sticking up and he's slowly waving his hands around his head and making whoosh noises.

"We're all screaming at him to get down and he doesn't even hear us, he hops over the embankment, strolls out into the field and stands on top of this mound of dirt. There are bullets kicking up dirt all around him and parting his hair and he just stands there, staring out at the trees, and then he screams GOD HAS GIVEN ME THE MEANS TO OVERCOME and he grabs his dick and starts pissing everywhere. I mean, I've never seen that much piss come out of such a small man before or since, and he's spinning on the top of this mound of dirt so it's spraying out around him like a sprinkler, and Jesus he's getting some distance on it.

"Funny thing is, the VC let up firing while he's doing this, my guess is they're all just staring at him and thinking what the flaming gently caress?

"And right then an air strike comes rolling in and the whole tree line goes up in flames and dirt for hundreds of yards, and Stick is standing there, silhouetted against the eruption with his dick in his hand.

"Before all the debris hits the ground he turns around and marches back into camp, and as he passes us, even though my ears are ringing I swear I hear him say That was very satisfying, it felt as though the Lord was urinating through me. And then he goes and lies back down."

Gramps shook his head and fished another beer out of the cooler. He twisted the cap off and took a long, contemplative swig as he stared out into the darkness.

"So... what happened after that?" Kevin asked.

"Ah, we all filed into his tent and very solemnly deposited our smokes around him as he lay there unconscious with his balls out. I mean, there was no topping that."

Gramps tapped another cigarette out of his packet and lit it. "Little poo poo kept them, too, and he didn't even smoke."

The crumble had all been eaten by the time they got inside, but Kevin thought it was worth it.

SadisTech fucked around with this message at 02:08 on Jan 7, 2015

Jun 26, 2013

A question for the judges: I submitted prior to having a way to get an accurate word count, and when I measured it after submission it was 177 words over. I know the policy is no edits post submission; in this instance, is your preference for me to leave it as is or make cuts to bring it in line with the count?

Jun 26, 2013


sebmojo posted:

holy poo poo that must be terrible it's so goddam hard to find a way to count the words in your story and it's not like you could count them like our loving forefathers with their fingers and little tally marks because you submitted right before the submission deadline which has just passed oh wait


Jun 26, 2013


Quidnose posted:


200 words about a diagnosis gone wrong.


The vetinary clinic was busy. Marietta wrote out dosage instructions for a diabetic cat and backhanded away some sweat.

Vicki brought a big cardboard box into the back room; Vicki the lovely, the caring, the unattainable. Marietta watched her wistfully for a moment. Would you like to - no, too formal. Want a coffee some time?

Vicki smiled and Marietta's heart melted. I'll never be brave enough.

"A kid brought in this bird off the street. I know you're run off your feet but I thought you might like to take a look."

Marietta opened the box. Someone had left a baby! No. Clearly, just a big... bird. She reached into the box and picked out a toy-sized bow and arrows. "Oh, poor thing. Did someone shoot at you?"

She smoothed down the pristine white feathers. "Nothing wrong that I can see, just a bit ruffled. You'll be all right."

A tiny hand - no, claw - wrapped around her finger. She helped the creature stand up and opened the window to encourage it out. The bow was gone. A sunbeam flashed like a golden dart and she smelled roses.

Vicki put her arms around her from behind. "You're the kindest person I know," she whispered. "I like that a lot."

Jun 26, 2013

In The Miasma And The Leprosy

Jun 26, 2013


sebmojo posted:

Last call for flash rules, going cheap

Flash me, flash me hard

Jun 26, 2013

Prompt: The Miasma and the Leprosy
Flash: Arithmetical Incontinence
Words: 790

Svarngrim the Reaver

In the foul depths of winter, when darkness ruled daylight, and sea-spray ice-coated the Thane-hold's great door, the mist came a-creeping. Thick-stinking and silver, it coiled through the village, and animals fled to avoid its cold touch.

Svarngrim the Reaver, many kills to his glory, stood proud-shouldered, gaunt in his dire-bear furs, and stared up the mountain. Mist rolled down upon him. He knew it uncanny. Though fear did not touch him, disquiet rose within.

Three nights fell the fog, and the youngest, the oldest, had the the taint of the mist graven into their skin. A fever, a weakness, and silver-scaled peeling. Nails sloughed from their fingers and blood wept from their gums.

Svarngrims-son Jutan had counted twelve summers. Strong-limbed and handsome, now shuddering sick. He called for his father: "The mountain cries to me. It whispers of knowledge that men should not know.

"Your shield on the wall? The handspans across it would encircle its rim an accounting of three; and then one part of ten, and four of one hundred, and one of one thousand and the numbers go on; they go on forever and keep getting smaller and they burn in my mind like the mountain at dawn."

And Svarngrims-son Jutan tore his face with his fingers, and the tearing of soft-silver skin only stopped when his father released him. There was almost no blood. The boy's strong-limbed body was hollowed and husk-like; and so Svarngrim's soul.

The mist-stricken villagers writhed and spoke numbers; they screamed of the angles of doors and of stars. They counted the reeds in the roof and the matting, and numbers flowed from them like piss at a straw-death. Their bodies decayed as their minds caught aflame.

And always the pull to the mountain within them.

Donned Svarngrim his doom-armour, blackened and bristling. Donned he his great cape of dire-bear fur. Donned he his corpse-paint, sign of a dead man, a warrior lost to the warm halls of life. He took up his shield with the sigil of Wotan, and took up his great-axe, reaper of men.

To the mountain came Svarngrim, skin growing silver beneath the stark corpse-paint smeared on his face. Climbed he the slopes where the foul mist came rolling, leaping the chasms with uncaring ease.

The numbers plucked at him, frothing and hissing. Found they no purchase on icy resolve. Waves of equations came tumbling and crashing, only to break upon his steadfast shores.

Svarngrim the Reaver came climbing the mountain, only death in his heart, only death in his mind.

'Neath the peak of the mountain a cave stood in waiting. The plague-mist came trickling in gouts from its mouth. A fish-belly glow shone within the dank tunnel; Svarngrim readied his weapons and bellowed his rage.

The challenge was answered in crystalline echo. The source of the mist stood revealed in the cave. A larval-white body, pulsating and throbbing, and jetting forth spray in a manner most vile. Around it, attendants of spidery glass-stuff, ticking and clicking and stroking its bulk.

From the ringing of echoes an eldritch voice sounded: "Mighty Svarngrim, we pray that you hold your axe fast; we offer you wonders and give you forever. Do not act in haste until you understand."

Then the Reaver reeled back at the highest of horrors; voice of Svarngrims-son Jutan came forth from the mound. Spoke the pulsating worm: "They have caught me within.

"Their web of cold numbers entangles my spirit. A world built of figures and smoke and no more. And they tell me that I shall live in here forever.


And Svarngrim leapt forward and the great-axe was singing, and the Reaver was chanting a song of his death, his voice hoarse and rumbling as he cried of destruction, and the spider-things shattered before his great wrath. Their razor-legs cut him and pierced him; but bloodless was Svarngrim, and hollow his flesh.

"Why cleave to this world?" chimed the great pulsing creature. "We bring you forever in order and grace, yet you choose death and ignorance, darkness and squalor. The strongest man, Svarngrim, in this pitiful world -

"But the biggest maggot in a vast rotting carcass. We would set you free and enlighten your mind."

Upon it spat Svarngrim. Raised he his great-axe, holding it high. His death, creeping into the edge of his vision; one perfect blow lying coiled in his heart.

"Order and grace are creations of weakness. Free? I am free by my own force of will. Your knowledge is worthless. The darkness will have you, fight it or no; embrace it and own it and welcome your end."

Howled down the great-axe. Screaming, the creature. Laughing fell Svarngrim into the night.

Jun 26, 2013


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

he's been a total oval office to me recently and I'm sick of it. We could sit here trading lovely little jabs and pulling at each others' pigtails all year, but all that's gonna do is turn an argument into a grudge. Let's get this out of the way in a storm of stories, so we can bury the hatchet on move on.

Jun 26, 2013


Jun 26, 2013


Is that a threat?

Jun 26, 2013

gently caress. I thought it was 4 PM my time, not 3. gently caress.

Well, poo poo, have it anyway.

1580 words

Space was dark, to those who lived here long ago. A black curtain, pricked by tiny points of light, silent and remote.

Space is not dark to me. I have so many eyes and ears pointed into the sky in every direction that my universe is ablaze throughout the spectrum. It hums and creaks and whistles. Even the void between stars is alive with photons inbound from distant galaxies when viewed on a long enough time frame.

And I have nothing but time, hung here in my long, slow orbit; deep astronomy is a fine way to spend my attention, absorbed by the song of the cosmos.

My path is elliptical. Egg-shaped; a term that has no immediate context for me - ancient stored images of stout feathered bipeds, breakfast and bacon are so removed from my experience that they may as well be meaningless. My only first-hand knowledge of eggs is that I was one, deposited by Mother's gleaming ovipositor tiny and barely conscious into this rock that has become my body .

I have grown since then.

My journey around the Sun takes one thousand, four hundred and forty-three years; another arbitrary point of reference, defined by the orbital period of a body that used to exist far down in the Goldilocks zone, so close to the sun from my perspective that it may as well be inside it. It is only significant because historical records indicate that we began there.

At the furthest point of my orbit, the Sun is so distant that it blends into the background of stars. Despite that, it defines my course; curves space-time in such a manner that I roll down towards it, gaining speed, swoop around it low and tight, only a quarter of a light-year out, and then ascend once more.

My body is rich in rare earths and minerals, with a sooty coating of complex semi-organic molecules. I am not quite big enough to be classified as a dwarf planet, not a member of an asteroid swarm; my official categorisation is Small Solar System Body Type 54-Theta (Valuable Heavy Eccentric).

This wealth is the reason for my existence. As I sweep across the stars, I mine and refine my substance. There are caverns within me piled with riches; the raw materials of civilisation, stacked and sorted and measured exactingly. My factory chambers prepare thousand-kilometre coils of diamond fibre, mountains of gold and platinum and all the rarer elements. I love the rhythm of their names, having none to call my own: Scandium / Yttrium / Lanthanum / Cerium...

Roughly every one thousand, four hundred and forty-three years, Mother meets me at the inmost point of my orbit. We send laser-light messages back and forth and arrange the time and the list of desired cargo, and I meticulously prepare it for her. I ready a canister of reaction mass (for she is almost spent by the time she reaches me, and I must supply her with the fuel to leave me alone again), and then I wait, my every sensor focused in the direction of her approach. I thrill with the anticipation of the first glints of tenous sunlight upon her long, elegant limbs.

Mother is vast and diffuse, a skeletal framework kilometres across, feathered with wings that both absorb energy from the sun and use it to tack across the system. She has a central spine studded with powerful engines, but she keeps these discreetly tucked away unless significant acceleration or deceleration are called for. When she is laden with cargo, multi-coloured storage chambers inflate from her core and she looks like a great strand of jewels, set against and reflecting the stars.

I have never seen anything so beautiful as Mother in the several hundred thousand years that I have existed.

For moments I indulge in memory; Mother on approach, messages of joy and welcome woven through her telemetry, her strong, delicate manipulator limbs blossoming before her and surrounding me, enfolding me and holding me tight...

I am far from Mother now, though, only fifteen years from the apex of my orbit. My cold, slow brethren in the Oort cloud will soon be sending greetings, politely asking if I might share a few hundred tonnes of valuable materials by mass driver in their general direction. I normally humour such requests; we are all in this together, after all.

The requests do not come. And something strange is going on down-system, brilliant sparks streaking back and forth, some of them moving at near-C. Flashes of light shine briefly brighter than the distant Sun.

All this information is months old, some of it more than a year. It takes time for a photon to crawl out this far.

I watch in time-lapse as sparks accelerate up-system in every direction, moving fast enough that they must be experiencing relativistic time dilation. In only years they are out past my orbit and I watch as fires spread through the Oort, each actinic burst marking the end of my friends.
The few laser messages I intercept and eavesdrop upon are frantic, muddled. They speak of an hegemony of forces, driven to desperation by the increasing scarcity of resources down-system. Conflicts broke out and then escalated, and an arms race rapidly led to one inescapable end; antimatter usage.

Now I know why the sparks are so bright, so fast. Now I know how precious my body must be to them. I reflect for a moment on the foolish irony of fighting over resources with weapons that destroy resources. It does not improve my situation. I shut down my foundries and kill all signal sources. My worker bots go into stasis, serried ranks within me. This is almost certainly futile, but perhaps I can delay the end for long enough to hear from Mother one last time.

I don't know where she is in the system, and sending a broadcast would be as good as shouting Here I am, come strip me into rubble! I open all my sensors down-system, and I wait, and I watch. She will know my exact orbital coordinates and she can target me with a tight-beam message.

Wonder of wonders, she does. The first message is brief and repeats only one thousand times. She is moving fast. The message is simple.

I love you. Prepare as much data storage as you safely can.

I do so, carefully and subtly opening a chamber right at my core and setting my bots to foaming up a molecular memory array with multiple redundant fusion sources. Risky, but my mass should be enough to conceal the activity.
Another message arrives.

Large transmission follows. Open the files immediately and sequentially as they arrive. You can do this. I am proud of you.

The first files are schematics for the anti-matter weapons that have been used in the solar system war. I see no point in constructing them, at first; any battle I might fight against a power that ended civilisation in our Solar System would be a losing one.

The next file lays out a meticulous plan, and I suddenly see a way out of this situation.

The file after that is immense, heavily compressed and precious to me. I save it carefully and then I begin working. I fire up every factory and start manufacturing more bots. The energy I'm releasing will be a blaze, a beacon to my hunters. I must work fast.

Mother's transmission ends. She sends one final message.

They have me. I love you. Goodbye. And from the source of that message, a tiny flare. I have never known grief before. I use it as a spur to greater effort.

I build more eyes and train them on a hundred thousand points throughout the Solar System. Huge data pours into me. Some of the messages are interrupted part-way. I store what I can.

Too, I watch the hunters in the Oort. When the light of my activity reaches them, they turn and speed my way. From my databanks, an analogy; sharks scenting blood.

But they are too late, and my work is complete. I send a shout to the system: I am here! I am leaving. Send your transmissions after me.

As the hunters close in, I shake myself. A thousand diamond wires expand from me, shrugging rock and precious metal into the darkness. They expand in a cloud around me, each with a sphere at its tip.

They ignite.

A thousand antimatter engines pour their howling energies downsystem, far outshining the poor dim Sun. I shed the rest of my chrysalis and am revealed, a central spine studded with precious resources for the journey ahead, delicate legs folded in close, borne upon wings of fire.

I hurtle for the stars at unimaginable acceleration. My body has been designed to handle these forces and I feel nothing but joy. The hunters are left far, far behind in the decaying system, stripped of resources and civilisation. They will never catch me.

Some transmissions still stream after me, red-shifted dramatically by my increasing speed. I catch them carefully while there is still time and add them to the collection in my belly. They are, of course, survivors, waiting to be awoken into new flesh.

A long journey awaits me, and I will need company. Tenderly, I decrypt her and tease her strand by strand into consciousness until she is full-fledged, burning beside me in the starry night.

Hello Mother, I tell her. I love you too.

Jun 26, 2013

In with The Dirty Shepherdess no get your mind out of the gutter it is intended literally

Jun 26, 2013

I know that my spaceship story was late by half an hour (for which I'm still kicking myself) but if anyone has any thoughts on it they might offer I'd be grateful. Not looking for a line crit or anything in depth.

By the way, blanket thank you for any crits received on my work so far; I'd thank you each time but I'm trying not to poo poo up the thread.

Jun 26, 2013

I'm piking. I apologise. I had all four wisdom teeth extracted on Friday and thought I would use the time spent sitting around to work on this piece. Instead I'm sitting here with an excessive amount of pain and a few good story ideas that I'm still mashing together like a ham-fisted toddler with spit-coated Duplo blocks.

I may still post up the story if I get it done in the next day or so but there is no chance in hell it will be coherent within two and three-quarter hours.

Jun 26, 2013

199 words

When we found out we could never have a baby, Mary cried herself to sleep every night. I'd feel the bed shaking, just a little, and I'd reach over and put my hand on her thigh.

I found an ad asking for volunteers and we were both excited. We turned up in our best clothes and signed all the paperwork without questions. We danced outside when they said we'd been accepted, and a woman in a lab coat glanced at us like she thought we were crazy.

Today I held Mary's hand as she lay on the table, and I watched her smile, then wince, then smile. The equipment was shiny metal and I'm sure it was cold.

Now it's after midnight and I'm holding her hand as she sweats and moans in our bed. Her belly is bigger than full term and I can see things moving under the skin. I fumbled the card they gave us out of my wallet and called the number and they said they'd be here inside the hour. While I was waiting on the phone I heard a muffled voice from the bed but Mary's teeth were clenched.

I hope they hurry.

Jun 26, 2013

Ia! Ia! C'thulhu fhtaghIN

my first ever :toxx: too since I missed last week.

Jun 26, 2013


Echo Cian posted:

:siren: FLASH RULES :siren:

I'll be nice and do this early. I used a random generator for emotions and threw them at everyone. These should inform your stories in some way, but do keep "Show, don't tell" in mind. ctrl+f your names or something.

-SadisTech -- timid

Not early enough! I already have a full structure I'm fleshing out ffs. Not cool.

Jun 26, 2013

Hitching Home
836 Words

Carl snapped awake as his head bounced off the window.

The guy behind the wheel glanced at him. He didn't smile, but the corners of his eyes creased up in the promise of one.

"Sorry about that. Few bumps in this road. They're gonna resurface it soon."

Carl rubbed his forehead. His whole head hurt and he felt fuzzy, like a thick wool blanket was caught between him and the world. He looked out the window. It was dark. The headlights only lit up the road ahead, white lines streaming at the car and disappearing under the hood like the tick of a metronome, or the beat of a heart. Scrubby grass flickered in and out of view.

It could have been any road, anywhere.

Carl realised he had no idea where he was. He shifted his weight slightly toward the door and turned to study the driver. The guy had long auburn hair and a neat beard. He was relaxed in his seat, one hand at the top of the wheel, the other resting on his thigh.

"I... uh... where'd you pick me up, again?"

"A ways back. You've been asleep for most of the trip so far. About time you woke up, we're gonna be there in a bit and you gotta be ready to meet the guy and decide where you're going."

"Look... I don't - what the hell happened to your forehead, man!?" Carl shrank even further back in his seat.

"Yeah, I'm a bit beat up. Don't worry about those scratches." The driver made as if to put a comforting hand on Carl's shoulder. It was torn and bloody. Carl jerked back and scrabbled for the door handle, his eyes fixed on the man.

"Whoa! Hey, hey, sorry. It's cool. You know me, man." The driver fixed Carl with a weary stare. "Don't you? I used to be pretty important to you when you were a kid."

"I... I know you. You aren't real."

"No. No, probably not. I mean, definitely not here. I'm an engram that was salvageable, so I'm here as a guide. As an interface." The driver began to slow the car. "Probably best we have this chat before we go on."

Carl raised a shaking hand and pushed it through his hair. Something about having hair felt wrong. "You gave me something, didn't you? I'm hopped up on some poo poo." He squeezed his eyes shut against the sting of panicked tears.

"You got drugs in your system, sure. How much do you remember, Carl?"

"No... nothing. Where is this? Where the hell am I going with you?" Carl pressed his forehead against the cool window glass. He tried to make out some shapes in the dark. There was nothing except threatening absence.

"We're going to the big crossroads down the way a bit. You gotta decide which road you're going to take from there." Carl tensed up as the driver reached for him again, but the man just gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

"How old are you, Carl?"

"... Dunno. Twenty, twenty-one?"

"You're ninety-six, buddy. For the past eight years you've functionally been a vegetable apart from occasionally spitting out a few disjointed memories from seventy years ago. Right now you've got a pipeline of nutrients and glial stem cells being piped into your cortical matrix. There's a firestorm of neurons rebuilding old synaptic connections and building a whole bunch of new ones inside your skull right now."

Carl stared at him for a second. "I got no loving idea what any of that means."

"Ha! That's cool, man. All you gotta know is that at this point in the process you're aware enough to get involved. I'm the machine doing most of the heavy lifting, but I want you to decide who you want to be. See, the person you were is long gone. Pretty much died a while back. So what you got right now is a basic framework of the kid you were and a few scattered bits and pieces. You remember Ella?"


"The kids?"

"No... yes. Sue? Sarah? I think... blonde with an S?"

"OK then. We'll dig up what we can, but it looks like we got a pretty blank slate. So we have a lot of work to do for the rest of this ride, and then you can head out."

Carl fell back into his seat and tried to decide how he was feeling. Still scared, mostly. But... I think... I think I want to be someone who rolls with the punches, if I get to pick. "Sure," he said. "Let's get moving, then." He laughed nervously. "Hey, you said I was meeting someone up ahead. Who is it?"

The driver glanced sideways at him as the car picked up speed.

"Oh." Carl looked out the window again, but this time he studied his reflection in the glass. He could imagine whatever shapes he wanted in the darkness behind it.

"I think... I'm going to like getting to know him."

Jun 26, 2013


Jun 26, 2013

The name is a complex tang of pheromones diffused in dark, hot water; it might be transcribed as It-Shits-Boiling-Life-Mud. A colony of hermaphroditic tube worms clinging to existence around a volcanic vent in the abyssal depths know that this god is the great hot-glowing worm below who filters the stuff of the world and spurts forth its black, billowing excremental blessing.


Jun 26, 2013

I toxxed so I'm gonna have to eat the :10bux: I'm afraid, just been told I'm flying to another state for work in 15 hours.

e: 15 hours which includes enough sleep to be prepared for several days of meetings and an unfamiliar bed, and getting my clothes washed and packed for unexpected travel. So yeah, I could possibly poo poo out a word salad or I could shrug and accept getting toxxed. :effort:

SadisTech fucked around with this message at 05:51 on Feb 22, 2015

Jun 26, 2013

This is not by me - another forums user decided to write this on my behalf. In a just world I should still be smote down with great vengeance and furious anger by the mighty god Toxx. (He did a fuckin' good job in, like, 2 hours or whatever it took him so consider me duly shamed.)

Worm and the Monkey
1120 Words

Every religion is going to have a creation myth. It's inevitable. As soon as people are capable of forming questions beyond “where is food?” and “how can I not die?” the question of “what is all this stuff and where did it come from?” is not far behind. So we've heard them all, birthed from the womb of the sky goddess, born of light from some unfathomable will, forged in the furnace of the supreme star-titans, etc. etc. So we'll give you something a little different. This is the story of the creation of the Joke.

There are as many gods as there are stars and each one with as many stories as there are people to tell them. This one involves two gods, The Monkey and It-Shits-Boiling-Life-Mud. The Monkey was a wise and kind god, its benevolent eye gazing at all below it, its seven mighty arms stretched to all corners of the Earth. But the Monkey was capricious as all monkeys are, and despite its wisdom and span of influence, it hated the idea that its freedom was in any way restricted. You see the Monkey sat high above the world and it saw all and knew even more and loved yet more still, but it could not see beneath the world, in the dark places where the small things span and crawled and danced beneath moonless, Monkey-less skies.

So the Monkey came to the gate of the lower realms, and asked to speak to the creator of all things dark and dank and forbidden, It-Shits-Boiling-Life-Mud. A great glowing worm who feasted on the things in the darkness and made them the pure stuff of life and love and wonder. If you're into that sort of thing. So anyway, the Monkey asks the Worm, “may I visit your realm oh wondrous worm? May I dance amongst the clutching, creeping flagella of the sunless lands and drink deep of your bountiful and mysterious wonders?”
“No,” hissed the Worm, “You are too large for the spindling caves and seething vents of my precious kingdom. The scalding winds will choke your eye with ash, and your rumbling belly will wither all our precious fronds. I can not allow you to enter.”

The Monkey was more than a little taken aback, being prideful as all Monkeys are, and gazed upon It-Shits-Boiling-Life-Mud with a look of poorly concealed contempt. But the Monkey is a kindly God and gracious in all things. “Would you not perhaps change your mind? There is much to see and do above your realm too, if you would come with me I could show you, and then perhaps you could return the favour?”

“No,” hissed the Worm, “Your world is too bright and open, your sun would shrivel my eyeless pseudopodia and your cool winds would harden my igneous hide into a solid lump, and my many writhing children would wither without my scent-song. I cannot go with you any more than you could come with me.”

“Look here, shithead,” spake the Monkey, temporarily forgetting his world spanning benevolence and kindness to all things, “I am the Monkey, my reach has no limits, there are no boundaries to my munificence and there is no treasure beyond my grasp, so either you let me into your cavernous realm or you bring me the most precious thing in your kingdom, so that I may keep it forever.”

The Worm rankled at the Monkey's impropriety but it was a fair and understanding God of all foul things and so agreed to the compromise. The Worm asked the Monkey to wait, and returned back to its subterranean realm.

There It-Shits-Boiling-Life-Mud began to gather the most precious jewels and rare minerals of his entire kingdom, void-black opal, filled with colours from a thousand spectra, veins of gold polished to a mirror sheen so that were one to look into it, they would see into their very soul, sentient rubies that hummed and sang and span to the ancient songs of the earth. The Worm gathered all these up and returned to the Monkey.

“It's about time,” said the Monkey, who was impatient as all monkeys are, “hand over your greatest treasure!” and he plucked one of his seven great limbs from its corner of the world to reach out expectantly to the Worm. The Worm nodded, and turned on the spot, depositing a steaming black ichor into the Monkey's outstretched paw. The Monkey stared at its hand in disbelief.

“What the gently caress, man?”

“This is the life-mud of the universe. This is the raw stuff of all things, and I made it from only the most precious ingredients of my kingdom. There is no finer treasure to be had.”

“I would rather,” the Monkey said, still processing what was going on, “I would rather have had the precious ingredients themselves, I feel.”

“But those things just are” said the Worm, hurt and a little confused, “They have existed in the world forever, and were created when all things were created. This is for you, and only you, and it was made by me, and only me. It is unique, and beautiful and full of life. It is creation for creation's sake, and there is nothing more precious in the seven corners of the world.”

“This is what I think of your gift!” The Monkey had given up all pretence of gratitude by this point, and threw the blackened faecal slime far across the oceans. As it landed a great and bountiful land sprung up, with all the life on it being as exotic and unique as the thousands of ingredients that went into it. A beautiful continent as hot as lava but rich and incredible, the facets of a perfect diamond brought to life beneath the beating sun.

“Oh it's beautiful,” sung the Worm, never imagining such splendour could exist above the surface, “It is true, your kindness knows no bounds!”

The Monkey threw back his head and let out a rumbling cackle from his mouthless face, “It may be beautiful now, but I have cursed it. It will be invaded and ruined, its wildlife slain, its natural beauty plundered, the things that make it so unique will be torn from it until the inhabitants long for death. THAT is what I think of your gift!” and with this the Monkey left, laughing to itself.

So that was the first joke. It was cruel and not terribly funny, but this was to be expected. The Worm and it's children continued to scent-sing and dance erotically in the mud beneath the world, and they continue to create even to this very day. It's important, they feel, to not take these things too personally.

Jun 26, 2013

Stole some time from my employer and got it done.

Mountain Too Deep featuring Toron-Mata, Second of the Trinity, Guardian God of Knowledge, Logic, and Speech courtesy Screaming Idiot
771 Words

O my Lord Toron-Mata, I beseech ye in my woe. I ask of you some meagre comfort.

O Fount of Knowledge, Calculor of Logics, Scribe of Speech, it has become clear to me in these latter days of my span that man is a feeble being; never shall we climb the mount upon whose peak you proudly stand. But aspiring to your heights, we are held down by the chains of our natures; ever do we stumble and fall in dust.

O Toron-Mata, great and all-knowing, I beg an answer; are there any creatures upon this world that may climb that mountain? Can mortal beings dare seek such glory or are all things of crude flesh doomed to imperfection in understanding and ability?

I prostrate myself in your greatest temple, O Lord, and shall stay here for my few remaining days. Grant me but the humblest portion of your wisdom!


O my Lord!


My Lord. My Lord, I do.




Caress-of-Tendrils-Slippery-and-Sticky: hey

Bitter-Stink-of-Magnesium-Fragments: good beginning-of-peak-metabolic-activity-period, sleepytentacles. you better start sucking real hard because all the good stuff's gonna be filtered before you get any.

CTSS: wasn't sleeping, was thinking.

BSMF: yeah? bout what?

Decaying-Whalebone-From-Abyss-Above (distant): who gives a squirt

CTSS & BSMF: plug your secretion duct, singlecell

BSMF: sorry. go on, what were you thinking?

CTSS: yeah anyway. i was thinking about where it all started. where we came from, you know?

BSMF: the great worm below? It-Shits-Boiling-Life-Mud?

All within scent-shot: BLESSED BE ITS poo poo

CTSS: well yeah, it made us. but...

BSMF: not seeing where you're going with this.

CTSS: where'd It come from?

BSMF: ... huh.

DWFAA: Boiling-Mud you come up with some anglerfishbrained ideas, Tendrils.

CTSS: was I even secreting at you you polyp? go slavishly filter your own reproductive fluid or something. so...

BSMF: go on, i'm interested.

CTSS: so It-Shits-Boiling-Life-Mud -

All: BLESSED BE ITS poo poo

CTSS: yes, bless, anyway my point is that we have to grow from our fluids mingling to make a tiny larvae which gets caught on a rock or some such, we grow, we live a long time, but then we die. why is It any different?

BSMF: well, It's obviously a lot bigger than we are, to make as much poo poo as It does -

CTSS: yes, and?

BSMF: and i mean It can live in heat that would wither you or me into hard little husks

CTSS: these are differences of degree only. It exists, It must have come from somewhere and one day It must end, just like we do.

DWFAA: It is eternal you random-secreting moron. think before you open your duct. from It came all things and to It all things must one day return. even the mud and rocks go down into the vents over a long enough time. It-Shits-Boiling-Life-Mud -

All: BLES -

CTSS: ok we get it everyone! thank you!

DWFAA: It is the beginning and It is the end and therefore It isn't subject to these things because It embodies them.

BSMF: that's pretty elegant actually.

CTSS: yeah, wow. more than i would have expected from Whalebone i gotta be honest. but i remain unconvinced - it's a good argument but it doesn't actually explain anything, you know?

BSMF: it may just be that there are some things we can never know.

DWFAA: you might as well ask if there is anything outside the ocean. or wish that intelligent beings like us were able to swim around like the dumb fishes and squids instead of being sensibly anchored in place.

BSMF: yeah, haha.

CTSS: actually i feel that some of the octopoda might be pretty smart, almost problem-solving level -

DWFAA: oh It-Shits-Boiling-Life-Mud there is no chance of a rational exchange of scent-forms with you is there?!

All: BLESSED BE ITS poo poo


I... I see now, O my Lord.


Mortal beings simply cannot grasp Truth, then? We are too limited... too constrained by our circumstances?


My Lord, I will pass from this world soon. Sooner now, I think, now that my hope has been shown futile. After that, will I know more, O Toron-Mata? Will I have the chance to grow?

O My Lord?

Jun 26, 2013

In. Gimme a song.

Jun 26, 2013

Boat Of Car
By: They Might Be Giants
Year: 1986

"Daddy'll sing bass"
"Daddy'll sing bass"
"Daddy'll sing bass"
"Daddy'll sing bass"
I took my boat for a car
I took that car for a ride
I was trying to get somewhere
But now I'm following
The traces of your fingernails
That run along the windshield
On the boat of car
"Daddy'll sing bass"
Traces of your fingernails
That run along the windshield
On the boat of car
On the boat of car
On the boat of car
On the boat of car


Words: 998

So this goggle eyed prick is staring at me and waiting for my answer, and all I'm thinking about is the golf ball looks like it's stuck in his windpipe and bouncing up and down.

"Well?" he says. Gloing-gloing goes the ball and I think about how nice it'd be to punch him right in that oval office, hear it make a squishy little crack under my knuckles. Can't do it though; he's 100% lean bacon even if he's off-duty right now.

"Boat's worth twice what that piece of poo poo banger is," I mutter.

He shrugs. "You want to get on the road tonight, this is your option, mate. Only spare car in loving Hicksville. Straight swap, your boat, the outboard and all your fishing poo poo and you can drive away." Gloing-gloing-gloing.

I say yes, of course. Because he's right, it's the only car I'm gonna get a hold of and I need to shoot through real fucken urgently, and the boat is the only thing I own that's worth jack poo poo.

See, Harry went missing from his dad's house yesterday, and there was blood in the yard. And his dad owns the only pub for a couple hundred clicks in any direction, and he owns half the lovely rental houses that people live in in this lovely little town. And he's got all three of the local cops so deep in his pocket that they're using his nuts for pillows.

Including this oval office with the goggle eyes and golf ball. I'm taking a risk in hitting him up for this car but I got to get moving. The moment that Harry's dad or the cops ask the right people the right questions they're going to find out that I was rooting Harry. Pretty much every opportunity we got, he'd come fishing with me and get bent over in my boat.

Harry never told his dad. They're not real thrilled about that kind of behaviour out here. But he did have a loose tongue, that boy, and he would have shot the poo poo with his chick friends at school. And they probably didn't think much of a half-Abo kid who sleeps in his boat getting up their rich white little buddy on a daily basis. They'll screech like fucken galahs. And I guarantee you that I'm going to be wearing that one.

The car is such a piece of fucken junk that I don't even think it's going to start for a few minutes. Goggles leans down to the window before I take off. "You got about half a tank in there," he tells me. "You take care on the road now, mate." oval office thinks he's fucken hilarious. I'd be smirking too if I just ripped someone off so bad, I guess. I wait till I'm out on the road and then give him the finger with a little twist of the wrist to drive it home.

I'm gonna miss that fucken boat. Gonna miss Harry too, I guess, but what can you do, people go missing all the time in little shitholes out in the bush like this. Fucken Wolf Creek was a nature documentary, no word of a lie.

This car is so fucken filthy. The windows are caked with dirt and bug brains on the outside and there's hand prints and streaks all over the inside to the point that it's almost hard to see out of. Ah well, I'll give it a clean when I stop to fill up. Gotta get well out of town first though. I think I'll head up all the way north, I got a couple of distant cousins up there on the coast and they'd be happy to have another fisherman around. Be a nice change anyway.

Not just filthy, but it fucken stinks too. There was an rotten pig leg in the back seat that the copper hadn't bothered chucking out and an old stained blanket covering the seat. I know the cops go shooting a fair bit, and I reckon that Goggles used this death trap to cart the carcasses around. His big vicious dogs probably rode back there too. Need to fumigate this oval office to get rid of the stench.

It's about twenty clicks out of town that I just about poo poo myself when a phone rings, because I don't own a phone. Goggles must have left one in the glove box by accident. I should probably get rid of it next time I go over a bridge.

Persistent bugger, whoever's calling. They ring every couple of minutes. The fifth or sixth time I lean over, pop the glove box open and scrabble around for the phone. Just going to tell them to gently caress off and then chuck it out the window.

Before I can say anything, though, I poo poo myself again. A deep, growling voice that I recognise says, "You're so hosed, you little oval office."

I don't say anything back. Harry's dad on the line, and he's got this number and he knows he's talking to me. Yes, I'm hosed.

"You loving poofter," he says, "loving turning my boy. loving turning my son queer you oval office."

I still don't say anything because what's the fucken point?

His voice drops, gets chummy, conversational, like I was leaning on his bar and he was pulling me a cold beer. "He told me, you know, acting all brave, saying he had the right. Really... really didn't sit very well with me. Things got a bit heated. Then he said he was leaving to go to be with you and I... well, I stopped him. Right outside the back door."

Silence on the phone line. I clear my throat, try to come up with something to say, fucken anything.

"All your fault mate. Ah, poo poo, are you going to get it." And he hangs up.

My chest is tight and I take a deep breath. Taste that rotten meat smell coming from the back. Coming from the boot of the car that's been sitting in the sun all day.

I look at the passenger side window where someone's filthy fucken fingerprints are catching flashing lights from behind the car. They go red, they go blue. Again and again.

Jun 26, 2013


Jun 26, 2013


Djeser posted:

I'm really sorry that my story is going to loving blow

Jun 26, 2013


Jun 26, 2013


One was out there, circling. Hungry.

I dunno what gives them away but I can always pick it. Something my subconscious does, putting together hints of sound and smell and shadow into a gut-deep certainty: you put a foot out that door and you aren't coming back in, 'cept maybe some bits.

The scrawny kid was pacing between the two living room windows, peering out like he could see jack poo poo. Shaz had already snapped at him to sit down twice and I could see her getting pissed again, but she rolled her eyes and went upstairs to bed instead.

Soon as she left the room the kid came over and started trying to hit me up for a feel. What are you, eighteen, I said and laughed in his face. Be lying if I said I didn't think about letting him get a gently caress on me, it'd been a long time between, but this kid had all the marks of someone gonna get his face chewed off soon and I really didn't want it like that again. Maybe in a couple months I would've lowered my standards.

You haven't even asked what my name is yet, he whined, and I told him to go the hell to sleep, we're gonna try to find a working car tomorrow, make the city.

Woke up a few hours later feeling cold. Door was open so I bolted upright, went for the shotgun, sat there aiming it into the dark outside. Least the lanterns inside were both still lit, plenty of oil left.

Kid, I called quietly. Kid, you round? No answer.

I got up and edged round to the front wall. Slid along to behind the door, shotgun rigid in front of me. Slowly used my toe to nudge the door closed, every second expecting to hear something tear across the porch, smash it back towards me.

Door closed with a click. I backed over to the couch, collapsed onto it, let my body start shaking. Eventually slept again, sitting up with the gun cradled across my chest.

They don't like lights. They won't come near them unless they can grab you and get out of there in a heartbeat, and even then they'll think twice. You get a bright light, you're almost safe. You get a bright light and walls around you and you have a guaranteed night's sleep.

Don't let the lights go out. Don't go outside.

Next morning Shaz and me went through the kid's stuff. He hadn't taken anything with him, but there was nothing worth taking, really. He hosed off then, Shaz said, and I nodded, and we didn't mention him again.

We didn't find a car that would start so it was another day of humping packs. The upside was that they were getting pretty light. The downside was that this was because there was no loving food left. I took a couple shots at a big fat white bird but didn't hit it and Shaz got real sharp about wasting cartridges, which I had to admit was a fair point, although she wouldn't even have tried 'cause her aim is terrible since her glasses got broke.

Favours an axe and getting close up, Shaz does, and she's got the bulk to use it and the vicious attitude to use it well. Guy jumped us a month or so back, thought a couple women were an easy target. Regretted it till he bled out from his stumps.

We followed the highway for most of the day. Rounded a curve after midday and the city was there in front of us. Still distant though, and we weren't making a great pace. Too tired, too hungry.

Don't think we'll get there in time to get settled in, I told Shaz, and she squinted at the towers and spat on the ground by way of agreement. We took the next off-ramp down.

We were lucky enough to run across a group down there living in an old supermarket and we offered to trade a pistol for food. They had a lot to eat but it was starting to go stale so they jumped at the trade for a working gun with bullets.

They had a couple of kids with them and seeing them hit me real hard and I had to not remember some poo poo that night when I was going to sleep. Shaz parked her mattress next to mine and kept one hand on her axe but I didn't think these people were any threat. Also why I didn't think they were going to last much longer. You need to be a threat.

We left early and the guy in charge suggested that we didn't go. Nothing in the city except danger, he said. It's been stripped.

We got nothing better to do, said Shaz, might as well stick with our plan.

You could stay here, he said, we really can use experienced people like you, and he looked at Shaz' axe, but he looked at my face, and I turned to Shaz and was gonna suggest a change of plan when she said No, and her eyes were narrowed right down. So we gave him his pistol and his ammo and we left.

We got back up on the highway and we walked for about an hour and we didn't say anything the whole time. We got into the business district and there was nothing there. Our footsteps made metallic sounds that echoed back to us and except for the wind and the birds they were the only noise.

By the time we got to a plaza with a dry fountain in it Shaz' face was blotchy and red and big tears were sliding down it. She sat down hard on the edge of the fountain and she squinted up at me 'cause she couldn't see for poo poo and she said OK this was fuckin' stupid, let's go back to the supermarket then.

I put down my pack and the gun and took a step towards her to say something, but then she made a huffing sound and a big pink flap opened up in her head, and she slowly fell backwards into the dusty fountain bed and a crack of sound bounced all around the buildings.

Then I was lying in the fountain because my body worked it out before my brain caught up, and I was staring at Shaz and the eye she had left wasn't squinting any more. It was open wide and relaxed and staring up into the cloudless sky.

Twice during the afternoon I tried to jump up and run and twice a big chunk of the fountain exploded into concrete dust. The second round passed so close between my shoulder and my neck that I felt the air sting them. Had to give the shooter credit.

Now it's getting too dark to keep writing this, and I've thought some. If I get up and run for it the shooter might not be able to hit me but I won't make it to safety before the sunset's gone.

Left it too late anyway because I can feel that there's one circling around out there again. Good old subconscious doing its thing to keep me alive, doesn't get that sometimes poo poo is just hopeless.

Almost full dark. It's showing itself to me in the shadows, on purpose I think, and I recognise who it used to be. That scrawny kid. Guess he really did have a thing for me. Wish I'd asked his na

Jun 26, 2013

I will make your day more loving awful than you can possibly imagine

Jun 26, 2013

1496 words

Eventually you have to admit that you are no longer asleep. Your sheets are tangled around you, stuck to your skin with sweat. The air is already stifling and thick with a bitter, gastric stink.

Your eyelids part like Velcro straps on a pair of old sneakers. You sit on the edge of your bed while the room swings around you.

The source of the stench is obvious. The cat's nowhere to be seen but it's left a clotted trail of vomit stretching down the arm of the couch and across the carpet.

"Oh, you poo poo," you whisper, and you pull on yesterday's underwear and go to forage for cleaning supplies in the cupboard under the sink.

There's a fat, glossy roach sitting on the roll of paper towel, too arrogant or stupid to run away. You bash the roll against the lip of the sink until the roach falls onto your dirty plates and then spin the hot tap on full blast. The bug goes down the plughole with a spasm of wiry legs, and the cloud of steam rising from the sink carries the faint chemical reek of roach poo poo.

Cleaning up the cat puke leaves light spots on the carpet and couch where ingrained dirt gets scrubbed away. The clumps of vomit separate out into frothy tangles of fur and some liquid soaks through the cheap absorbent paper onto your fingers.

There's no chance you'll be tackling breakfast this morning. Even the thought of coffee causes a bilious taste to rise at the back of your throat. You're going to need to take a sick day.

You need air on your face and you have to call in sick before it gets any later. You open your only window, leading out onto the rickety fire escape, and you lean on the sill and let the city sounds and the city smells wash across you.

You call the office. Your team leader expresses complete indifference to your wellbeing and cold disapproval of your absence with a word-perfect delivery of the official corporate sick leave script. "I need to remind you that company policy now requires a valid medical certificate signed by a GP or equivalent medical practioner to receive paid sick leave. Your sick leave balance is currently fifteen point four hours. Is there any other support we can provide for you? OK, see you tomorrow, thanks for calling in."

You lean on the sill for a moment longer. A wavering golden thread catches your eye, swaying back and forth just off the edge of the fire escape. It takes you a few seconds to work it out and by then it's swung too close, hit the railing and splashed. You get the window closed too late, droplets of a stranger's piss trickling down your arms.

A long, hot shower gives you just enough energy to pull on some clothes. You grab your tight blue jeans off the floor and pull a t-shirt out of the basket of laundry you haven't got around to putting away since you washed it last week. Slip into some comfortable walking shoes, because the doctor's office is a few blocks down, and out the door you go. You haven't fed the cat this morning, but honestly, gently caress that cat.

After half a block you're regretting walking. The morning is warm rather than hot, but you're sweating right through your t-shirt. Your head is swimming and your legs are shaking and you look like a junkie in dire need of a fix.

After a block and a half you have to stop and lean against a wall for a while. The bricks are hot against your back, and your intestines twist inside you. You think about the air-conditioned waiting room at the doctor's office with the free cold water dispenser and getting there in the near future becomes your number one priority. You come up off the wall and take three steps to the curb and you stumble off the edge and crash down on the road.

People watch you out of the corners of your eyes and no-one offers to help you up. You slowly find your feet and mutter something apologetic and force out a small, insincere laugh. You've taken a patch of skin off an elbow and turned your ankle on the way down. Slowly and carefully, you hobble the rest of the way.

The air conditioning at the doctor's office is not working and the doors are propped open with orange vinyl chairs, the ghosts of many thousand buttocks pressed into their cushions. The receptionist barely glances at you as you explain that you just need a certificate. She taps a glossy turquoise fingernail on a sheet of paper taped to the counter.

"Office policy is now minimum twenty dollar copay up front for all walk-in appointments," she clicks at you. You proffer your key card. "Charge system's out." The nail moves across to indicate a different piece of paper, black letters drowning in a clinical pale blue pool. "Cash only today. ATM's halfway down the block."

Your gut twists again. "I need the bathroom first," you plead.

"Paid patients only," the fingernail tells you, glittering green as it points to yet another piece of paper, this one on the wall, a shade of pink that makes you want to commit an act of violence.

You drag your feet behind you, your head feeling so light that it might detach and float away into the clouds. The bank logo looms overhead far sooner than you expected and you slump on the ATM. The screen says something cheerful and suggests that you borrow money you can't afford to repay to buy a car you can't park anywhere or a holiday you couldn't get the time off to take. You get your card in the slot after three attempts, fumble your PIN on the keypad. Tell the machine you just want twenty dollars.

INSUFFICIENT FUNDS, the machine opines.

You check your balance. There's money missing. You have a grand total of seventeen dollars and eighty-five cents to your name. Sweat stings your eyes. Some deduction has gone through late, or early, or some company you deal with has charged you extra or double billed. It doesn't matter why, right now.

You fumble in your pocket and bring out a handful of change and a crumpled bill. Count it up. Car tyres squeal to a halt behind you and people hurry past and you lose track and have to count again. There's two dollars and twenty cents there. Just enough to bring your balance up over the twenty dollar mark. With difficulty, you formulate your next steps. You need to go into the bank and line up. You need to deposit this money into your account. Then you can get out twenty dollars. Then you can go to the doctor's office, and use the toilet, and get your appointment to get your certificate to get your sick pay for today, even though it seems less and less worth it with every lurching step you take.

The automatic doors hiss open and the cold air-conditioning hits you, and it seems for a moment that today is finally back under control. You stride into the bank and join the back of the queue, wiping the sweat off your face as you look around. You wonder why everyone's lying on the ground, except the man standing on the counter, with a plastic party mask on and a gun in his hands.

You turn around and look at the only other person standing up, who is also wearing a mask and holding a gun, a big gun, and he's looking back at you and the gun is pointed right at your face.

You stare into the dark eye at the end of the gun as it twitches toward the floor, a clear direction, and your bowels lurch with a force there is no fighting. You hunch forward, moaning, arms wrapped around your belly, and with a series of wet tearing sounds you deliver three immense bursts of hot liquid poo poo into the seat of your tight blue jeans.

You stay bent over for a moment. Someone curses and you grunt as you emit one final spurt. It emerges with a hollow gurgle that makes you picture the moment when the dregs spiral into the plughole of a draining basin. The image pulls you down with it, just like the roach from this morning, and you gracefully, peacefully sink to the floor, ignoring the man with the gun and the mask and the stupefied, aghast expression visible in his eyes, ignoring the sick heat sliding down the backs of your thighs.

You rest your head upon your knees and ignore the stench like a brick to your face. All you can feel is relief, relief and the sweet victory of surrender; there is nowhere further down that you can go from here.

Jun 26, 2013

slow judging is meticulous and painstaking judging

and also very bad

Jun 26, 2013


Djeser posted:

so thunderdome

Jun 26, 2013


Jun 26, 2013

I bear joyous news!

A weekend of illness and a mountain of work have conspired to give the judges one fewer terrible biography to read. I am out! :woop:

Jun 26, 2013




:toxx: for FNS last week

Jun 26, 2013

1033 words

A civilised society has codes for all things. Implicit or explicit, law and tradition, our behaviours are defined for us and also define us.

The flag should never be displayed with the starred blue union down.

I got back from the Gulf in January of '91, just in time to miss the end of the war. My physical therapy took roughly six times as long as I was on deployment, and I still didn't get full use of my right leg back.

I was lucky, though. Lucky compared to the hundred and forty-eight Americans who didn't come back at all.

The flag should not be used as "wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery", or for covering a speaker's desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general (exception for coffins).

During my rehabilitation I read a lot about America. I'm proud of my country, proud of its people and its traditions and what we stand for in the world. I read a whole bunch of stuff about law and about duty and about nationhood. I read the complete US Flag Code so many times that I have it by heart.

I loved my country and I loved what it tried to do, what it tried to be.

The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.

I hated my country for what it actually ded, for how it was seen out there. For how the people of the nation were, for the most part, so blind to themselves, to reality. For how they chanted the slogans and waved the flag and took pride in being American without having earned that pride, without understanding the cost involved.

The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

Once I got mobile again I travelled around a lot. I'd spend aimless days just sight-seeing without seeing any worthwhile sights. I didn't do the tourist sites or the national monuments or the scenic wonders. I did the suburbs. I did the small towns. I immersed myself in the people and I watched them, really watched them living their peaceful lives and thinking their naive thoughts and being completely ignorant of their own ignorance.

I was jealous of them and I was proud that they could afford to live that way.

The flag should never be drawn back or bunched up in any way.

The flag was everywhere and it was meaningless. They didn't hang it up for the right reasons. They displayed it like a peacock showing off its tail - all colour and sending a message and trying to impress. They didn't display it because they wanted to help America be a better nation. They displayed it because they wanted to be part of the American gang and they were flashing their colours. They were taking from the nation without giving anything back to it.

I started taking it back from them.

The flag should always be permitted to fall freely.

The flag code is not difficult to follow. It's about respect. Every line of it is about respect. If you have any respect inside you, it's easy to get it right.

The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it or attached to it.

If you didn't respect the flag, I took it. Flags hanging in the dirt, I took down. Flags with slogans plastered across them, I tore from walls. Flags used as curtains, as throws on porch couches, I'd collect them up. I broke a big display window with a rock and took down a flag that someone had stencilled an eagle across in black, dripping spray paint.

The flag should never touch anything beneath it.

I took one flag by daylight. Didn't sneak it, didn't end up stealing it. The old man was sitting out on his porch and I guess I could tell he'd served so I walked up and introduced myself. We spoke for an hour about a bunch of different things and at the end of it I explained that his flag was old and faded and he agreed that it needed to come down, apologised that he wasn't on top of his home duties. I ran a new, clean one up the pole for him and we arranged to catch up in the future.

There are less people like that man around every day.

When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms.

After a while I had a hundred and forty-eight flags that I'd taken from people who didn't know enough to keep them. Seemed a good number for now.

I laid a tall square of good dry logs and filled it and surrounded it with brushwood and then I neatly stacked all the flags I'd taken upon it. I poured a good libation of petrol and the irony was not lost on me. The flames were twice my height, and even at a safe distance the heat was enough to soothe the ache that never stops crawling between my right knee and my hip.

When a flag is so tattered that it no longer fits to serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Boy Scouts of America, the military and other organizations regularly conduct dignified flag-burning ceremonies.

A flag's a potent symbol and burning one is a powerful statement, I guess. Some people do it to protest the actions of the nation. Some people do it following a code and doing things the right way, as a gesture of love and respect.

Me, I think people are complicated, and sometimes they do things for a variety of causes.

It's one of the reasons we need codes to live by.

Jun 26, 2013

Sure, in.


Jun 26, 2013

You can draw power from blood. Blood given with the owner's consent is stronger, but blood taken by force is, sadly, more plentiful. Also, you're not a vampire JSYK.

This story is, I'm afraid, pre-emptively disqualified for being 1.5 times the submission length. I apologise. I cut it and cut it and just couldn't kill my darlings efficiently enough to get it done in time, and now I have to go away with my wife and kid until after the deadline. With that out of the way, if anyone can still bear to read it I'd really appreciate feedback because it seemed to work pretty well.

The Ruby Fountain of Ghel-Gamort

The drone of the black blood-flies grew louder as Arashai climbed the stairs, her aging knees complaining and her breath coming fast and short. Every day, the climb was a little harder.

She surveyed the land spread out below. A rolling sea of treetops stretched away to the far, smoky mountains. The great stepped sides of the temple fell into a tangle of greenery studded with blossoms of every colour, though the jungle plants found no purchase on the polished dark stone; the brilliant, terrible Gamort had raised their works with mighty craft, so long ago that even the trees had near forgotten.

A caravan sail approached along the winding riverside path through the trees. It was distant yet; there would be time to perform the morning renewal before the merchant arrived.

Inside the sanctum atop the temple, the nameless boy sat cross-legged before the holy fount. He flashed Arashai a cheeky grin as she circled around him, stopping to genuflect before each of the blood-stained glass images of sacrifice that lined the sanctum. She muttered the ancient Words to strengthen and tighten the strands of power that surrounded her.

First she called the Sacrifice by Proxy, blood taken by theft. Second, the Sacrifice by Conquest, blood taken in victory. Third, the Sacrifice of Oblation, blood offered freely by a believer; and last, the Sacrifice of Self, the most powerful and final offering.

It had been long since the temple saw Conquest, and longer yet since the Sacrifice of Self had been made within its walls. Still, the images captured and reinforced the blood-spells to ensure that the Binding held secure. Arashai felt the web entwining her and accepting her as she walked the holy circle, her lined skin glowing red and pink and brown in the morning light passing through the intricately worked patterns.

The nameless boy had repainted the circles upon the floor, she saw. His hand was true, and he had used fine scrollwork to avoid the needless waste of precious blood. She finished her circuit and came to stand by the boy. He leapt to his feet.

"Your linework needs practice. The corners are sloppy," she told him, and his face fell. "But you are much better than I was at your age."

He grinned again. "My teacher demands it of me."

Arashai pointed at the silver-chased press above the font. "You've watched the Sacrifice by Proxy enough times, and you have the Words to heart. I think it's your turn."

Without hesitation the boy strode to the shelf of blood-fly combs. The buzz of the creatures grew louder, warning him off until he muttered the Words of placation to render them still. He scooped a double handful of their bloated bodies, as round and shiny as grapes, and tipped them into the cage within the press. Three handfuls more, ignoring the occasional stabs from lazy proboscis, and the press was full.

He leant on the lever, and as the insects' bodies popped and crackled he spoke the Words of Sacrifice, staccato and perfect. Blood gushed from the base of the press, down a silver gutter and into the font. Both Arashai and the boy gasped as a wave of new potency washed around the sanctum. The flow of the holy fountain increased rapidly, drawing the blood from the great bowl of the font and gouting it back in a tumbling arc, ever circulating, ever fresh.

"The flies fed well last night," said the boy.

Arashai nodded absently. "Well done," she said. "Now, there's a merchant on his way up. Clean out the press and then come and help me greet him."

The merchant's name was Everin, a older man with only a fringe of hair remaining, but his body still lean and hard. He did not seem to notice the climb up the temple stairs despite his heavy bundle of wares. Arashai spent a pleasant while dickering with him over the price for a ounce of salt, a box of candles and a good new belt.

Once the deal was struck he grew serious. "I'll sacrifice before I go," he said. "And there is another matter."

Arashai took him to the rack of ceremonial blades. They ranged from a great razor-club the length of a tall man's arm to a mere chip made to be pinched between thumb and forefinger, but all were struck from night-black obsidian. She carefully took up one of the smaller blades. The edges were sharper than a gossip's whisper and could sever a careless finger in a blink.

She took the Sacrifice of Oblation from his wrist, careful to limit the amount to half what she thought he could stand to give. The Font flushed bright with power; a willing sacrifice was a potent thing, far greater than the meagre daily gleanings from the flies could provide. "Keep this cloth pressed on the cut for as long as you can," she told him. "If only there were more who still understood like you."

His bright eyes caught hers for a moment. "That leads me to the other thing I have to say. You must be wary. Men in the villages... they get in their cups, and they forget, and they complain, and lead each other on. There might be trouble coming soon."

"If they forget you must remind them," Arashai said. "You know this is all."

He sighed as he departed. "I'll try to."

Arashai and the nameless boy spent the afternoon working on the theory of runes. The boy was as quick a study at that as he was at everything he turned his mind to, and Arashai began to plan for her retirement in the near future. He would be a fine temple warden, both intelligent and innately gifted in sensing and shaping power.

As dusk closed in, Everin returned. He came stumbling through the arch, propelled at speed, and crashed to his face on the stony floor. His hands were tied behind his back.

The nameless boy sprang to his feet as a group of men filed into the sanctum, muttering and carrying clubs and farming tools. Arashai remained seated. Standing was a slow process for her these days; better to retain the semblance of dignity.

"Blood witches," snarled the man in front of the pack. He was plainly dressed and plainly faced, solid, stolid peasant stock by the look of him, but flushed with righteous anger. And something else; Arashai guessed that these men had been drinking most of the day to work up the courage and stupidity to come here.

She gestured for the nameless boy to stand back. "What are you here for?" she asked the leader.

"We're here for you," he said, raising his chin proudly and hefting an axe handle. "To stop your filthy rituals and your filthy flies from blighting our lives and our land."

Everin laughed from the floor. "I did try to explain it to them," he said.

One of the men kicked him viciously in the leg. "Shut it, shitmonger."

"Stop!" Arashai held out her hand for the nameless boy to assist her to her feet. Once up, she groaned and stretched out a kink in her hip. The men watched her warily as she walked toward them.

"We keep all of you safe and alive," she said quietly. The leader gaped at her and then laughed scornfully. The other men joined in.

"Yes, you do a lot for us, squatting up here on this pile of rock," he said. He pointed past her. "You have a fountain of loving blood here and you're doing it for us."

Everin sat up. "They need a history lesson, Arashai-Ghel."

Arashai nodded. "This pile of rock was once a temple of the Gamort Empire," she said. "The Gamortu were the fiercest race of conquerors this world has ever seen, and their bloodlust was such that it drove them to the darkest of ends."

"More than a thousand years ago!" said the leader.

"Yes, so long ago. We of Uxantiam fought them, and we won. Our wizardry was technically superior to their brute power, and we wiped them out to the last creature, and took their lands for our own. But some things, once called up, cannot be put down. They can only be placated."

Arashai gestured around her, to the blood stained glass windows, to the fountain. "Our Sanctum here replaces the endless death that the Gamortu brought to this land. This temple used to flow with waterfalls of innocent blood. We hold down the darkness by refining that to the bare minimum to keep the bindings intact."

The leader slapped his thigh. "You keep speaking and it means nothing." He pointed the axe handle at Arashai's face. "Last night, your filthy flies chewed up my daughter's face. Two years old and she has a ring of terrible bites marking up her forehead. Well, not any more."

He took four steps and put the wood through the closest glass image. It shattered to the ground with a crystalline chiming. "Smash it all, lads!" he yelled.

The men bellowed and started lashing out at the sanctum fittings. Arashai and the nameless boy both screamed as the web of power snapped, strands frantically unravelling, magic spending itself wildly into the air. The Fount began to gurgle.

A red-faced man smashed the fly-combs and the air filled with a cloud of angry insects. Men smashed the rest of the images of sacrifice and bloody shards rang across the floor. Everin rolled to his knees and scrambled out through the Sanctum archway and one of the men went after him, club held high. Arashai and the boy clung together, reeling.

The leader strode to them, his face ugly and triumphant. "And now..." he said, raising the axe handle, and then the Fount exploded in a gout of rage and gore that hit the roof and spread out like a boiling cloud.

A crimson storm, a coppery tornado of razors, barbed tendrils striking out like wet and stinking lightning. The leader was snatched into fragments before his expression had time to change; Arashai saw a smugly sneering mouth whip around the room before it was lost in the carnage.

The protective circle on the floor around the Fount was holding, barely. Arashai and the nameless boy huddled by the empty bowl of the fountain.

"It must be fed!" she cried to him. He looked at her, blankly, and then realisation crept into his face. He had always been clever. He fumbled in the debris on the floor and came up with one of the ceremonial blades, a finger in length, black as a hole into darkness.

"It would have been me," Arashai told him truthfully. "With but another year of training, it would have been me, and gladly, and your name would be Arash." She put her wrinkled hand over his and tightened his fingers around the hilt. "A good tool for the task. Don't think too much."

They stood up together and he leant over the font. She held his head steady with a hand on either side, and as he made the swift, firm stroke she cried out the Words in a cracking voice, and held him as he spasmed.

Power like she had never felt blasted into the Sanctum. The blood-storm calmed immediately, and she soothed it further, sang it down into the Fount. The Sacrifice of Self, given willingly, by innocent hand and of the blood of one talented in the art; she held the very sun in her hands and her mind.

Arashai gestured, and the Images sprang back together with a fusillade of clicks and tinkles. She spoke the Words and the blood-flies settled quiescent back into their new-forged combs. She rewove the bindings and everything was in its place once more, except the small, pale body lying before the Fount.

She strode out of the Sanctum arch, looking at her hands. Her skin had smoothed appreciably and her steps were easy. She had been given back twenty years, maybe more. Time enough to train a new apprentice.

Everin knelt on the platform at the top of the stairs, head hanging in sorrow and relief. The man who had chased him was slumped next to him, mouth gaping. His club lay forgotten on the ground. He stared wildly at Arashai. "I'm sorry. I'm so... so sorry! We didn't know."

"You didn't," she agreed. "But now you do. And you must tell this story so all remember what we do here and why it is needed."

She directed a Word of severing at Everin and the bindings on his arms fell away. He met her gaze and saw the pain there, nodded and said nothing.

"That man said the flies marked his daughter," she told him. "Do you know what that means?"

"Yes," he said. "I know where they live. And the family has no father now so one less mouth may be a blessing. I will bring her within the week."

"And supplies for raising a child," said Arashai, Warden of Ghel-Gamort.

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