In. In in in in in in.
Gimme a flash rule
|# ¿ Jan 21, 2015 13:09|
|# ¿ Dec 7, 2022 12:51|
They told her stop doing that don't play with those, you'll hurt yourself. But she ignored them. She would be ready when the sky turned red and the seas boiled. She would have a shelter from the storm. None of the others believed her. None of the others understood. She didn't need them.
She poured herself into the project, researching, devouring words and diagrams and videos, experimenting with frameworks and testing structures. She took to eating in the ship. Then sleeping in it. She's just going through a phase Uncle said. He said he was concerned but he was always busy. She would get through this herself.
The world was cracked and broken and ugly. The girl watched with one silver eye from her bedroom window on the night when it happened. All the far-away trees near the city and the lake burned and the fire was growing towards the house fast leaping eating the sky gorging on black and blue and gray.
Lizi knew what to do. She had practiced every week until it was instinctive. Go outside to the shelter door and open it and go down and shut the shelter door and latch it and wait. And she did.
She had never seen Uncle or Mark or Lo that night. But that was OK. She wasn't afraid. They went out sometimes and came back late and sometimes they had other people with them and their loud talking and laughter kept her awake. But tonight had been quiet. At least until the red happened.
Lizi hadn't seen the dogs either and it made her sad to remember them. She wanted to go find them and bring them down here but she knew not to ever open the doors once she was down here not even a little.
She was getting hungry. She walked over to the stock shelves and took a container of ravioli. It was easy open and she wasn't supposed to use Mark's hotplate but she loved cold ravioli anyway so she ate that.
She could still hear the rumbling outside which meant it was not safe. She climbed into her sleeping bag on the floor and went to sleep.
After a few days she was starting to get tired of the situation. She had quickly filled in her old problem books and the wireless wasn't working.
She had a few sets of clothes with her. She had been hoarding food, sneaking cans away from grocery runs, filling old bottles with water.
She hated it in here. It was cold and the walls were damp and there was no warm carpeting or pretty wallscrolls and it smelled even with the bathroom door slid shut as tight as it would go.
Every time she opened it it just made an awful chemical smell and the fan was not enough. The toilet was inside the shower right below the mirror. She avoided going in there as much as possible.
Lizi made up her mind. She would go to the Neverwhy.
She climbed into the dark tunnel just her size to the hard smooth white egg filling the tunnel just past the door. She touched it and it was warm. She tried talking and it chirped once. Good.
She cracked open the eggshell case hissing warm breath slicked her hand. Climbed inside pushing past the membrane soft and warm that only just gave way at the touch. Sat in the chairspace and watched the bubbles floating all the colors red blue yellow white black orange purple green cold and hard (she knew) but living somehow swimming in the air above her head. She touched the orange ball—no—she didn't—she thought about touching it and it moved—dropped down to her eye level and moved back towards the wall slightly a hare's breath.
She closed her eyes and remembered the pattern from her dream. She opened them again and the bubbles were all in their correct place perfect all perfect even the small light blue one was tucked in there in the back so cute.
She thoughtpulled all the bubbles at once, and the room began shaking shuddering wobbling a roaring silent roar without and she was pressed down into the seatspace congealing below her pressed down more and more and more.
She couldn't move. Her arms and legs were locked in place her lungs pressed down the air heavy and thick. The bubbles disappeared with a pop. It wasn't a bad pop. It was a happy pop it made her smile. It reminded her of bath time with Alec, swimming with dinosaurs and submarines and periscopes and sol flitters and no five more minutes, no please, five more minutes, please, it's too cold it's too cold it's too cold...
She opened her eyes. The weight was gone from the air and she could breathe again. There was one bubble in the above. But it was too far. She saw it closer. It had a ring bubble of its own—a tiny little white bubble circling around the green one there, shy, trying to hide behind the big sister. She didn't need the big one. She blinked and it popped and only the tiny speck of the planet moon was left.
She saw it closer. Closer. Closer. It grew towards her, grew towards the ceiling, grew almost to touch the membrane walls around. Now she could see the details on the planet moon, covered in pits and craters, worn and faded from a lifetime of mistreatment. She thought it around, more, farther, there! the station, a shiny metal coin stuck on the surface of the planet moon like a valve on an inflatable toy.
That was it. She saw the pod landing there, saw its path through space alter, a little at first and then more and more, and she was satisfied. Then she blinkpopped away the planet moon. She could feel her weight shifting now. The chairspace had relented released its skin hold and reformed itself into a hemisphere.
She stood up and stretched. It shouldn't be long now. With the bubbles gone there was nothing to be seen in the capsule. The membrane inner walls vibrated gently, more and more, almost buzzing now, burrowing into her head...
She was still in the capsule when she opened her eyes but the light was different. It glowed from above and the sides, through the walls, like a sheet of paper held up to a flame. She stoop up on tip toes and pressed her fingers through the membrane to the top of the ceiling where it stuck. The membranes full of small pocket membranes themselves detached from the walls inflating expanding until they filled the room airspace pressing tight against her.
Outside the egg cracked and split open straight line down the middle. She climbed out, encased from head to toe in the membrane made of membranes and stepped onto the blue-white dusty surface that puffed out like wind seeds with every step. The sky was dark despite the full sun, full of stars with just a thin line of blue down near the horizon. The sun beat down brutally hot but the skinsuit somehow protected her. And in the distance, she could see the station.
Station 112. Ma and Alec were here, they had told her. They had also told Lizi she couldn't see them, she couldn't come here. But she did. She wasn't afraid of them now. Maybe they had died in the red.
She wasn't close enough to the station to see the lights on its side. Not good. The membrane would only have a limited air supply. She bounded along the rocky landscape.
Lizi reached the side of the station and stopped, staring up at it. It seemed so much taller standing here next to it, impossibly tall, a smooth undetailed matte gray surface worn and pitted from the dust. There was no visible way in, just a wall stretching away in both directions.
She walked around, searching for an interruption, something to catch her eye, any change in the monotony. None came.
She tried banging on a wall. Nothing. She was getting hungry. She would need to get inside soon. She knew she would need to drink something or else she might even die.
She grew tired of walking and climbed up onto a low ridge—careful to avoid too-rough rocks with her bubble hands. She couldn't let too many pop, they were her lifeline.
She looked out over the landscape. It was dead and gray and brown and broken. Just like home.
She saw a lighter patch of ground running between two distant hills, and then past them it resumed only to disappear behind the station. It must be a road!
She bounded down the hill and jump-walked between outcroppings until she reached the path. She followed its dusty length to the main door of the station and pressed the comm button.
They took her to a room somewhere inside and wouldn't let her leave. They buzzed and clucked at her and poked and tested and stabbed and wrote. She asked questions and they didn't answer. They asked questions and more questions and more questions and never seemed happy with her answers.
Where was the craft? How did she build it and how did she learn how did she did it? How did she fly it? Was anyone still alive?
The machines were multiplying. The people were dividing, the ones in white wrote and asked questions and poked and stabbed and hmmed and ah yessed, the ones in black asked and demanded and shouted and hit, the ones in blue sat next to her and pretended to be her friend, the ones in green poked their heads in the door then kept walking.
She slept. She ate. She asked to see Ma and Alec. OK, they said. Finally they said OK. She wanted to feel relieved but she couldn't. Now she couldn't sleep either.
They both showed up the next morning, poking their heads in the room like cats. She wanted to cry and laugh and scream but she couldn't. She smiled. The machines beeped and hummed and hissed and tangled from the ceiling through hooks and rings and onto her bed and how is my little baby doing, good ma, you look so thin and pale, are you eating, yes ma, I eat what they give me but it's not very good.
Alec ran up and stared with big brown eyes like she wasn't real. Be careful Alec she's very... yes ma, Lizi do you remember Alec, yes ma, he's getting big isn't he, and ma started crying and wouldn't stop and they came in from waiting outside the door and the ones in black took her away and they asked Alec but he said no he would stay.
You have to be strong now Alec, yes I will, ma is going to need someone to watch her and keep her safe, yes, I missed you, I missed you too sis, and he ran out into the hallway and she could rest now and maybe try to sleep.
There were more and more in green now. Some even stayed in the room sometimes. One had a chair at a machine near her feet. Others poked in, said something, left. The ones in black rarely came any more. They never found what they wanted and they never will.
Flash rule: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBXOUCP518g#t=438s
|# ¿ Jan 26, 2015 04:58|
|# ¿ Feb 3, 2015 23:54|
Also thanks for the crit on the last page, crabrock!
|# ¿ Feb 4, 2015 03:08|
It’s 8:55 on a Sunday morning and I’m standing in the living room of a man who thinks he’s a couch. Not just any couch, but specifically his, the one he’s sitting on. And he’s not the worst case I’ve seen this month.
More people have been contracting it lately, losing the distinction between self and other, inside and outside, alive and dead. “Homeostatic imbalance”, the quacks on TV call it. I call it a sign of the times, product of a decadent age, putrefaction of morality and decency.
“Mr. Jameson, I understand you know something about a recent murder,” I say to the overstuffed man on the sofa. Selfers have started disappearing, turning up days later, usually missing a few organs, maybe a limb or two.
He nods, smiling blankly, looking straight through the center of my chest.
Treatment of selfers generally sees poor results, long-term. Some of them, thanks to an enabling friend or family, try to live normal lives. Daily food delivery. No knives and forks, so they don’t start cutting off slices of their arm to spread on toast. Judging by his kitchen, Jameson is one of them.
“Could you elaborate?”
“Oh yes, certainly, detective...”
“Not detective. Just call me Lenk.”
“Good, Mr. Lenk, yes, good.” He stands up, uncertain, wobbles on his feet, then crouches back down, hands on his knees. “Yes. You have very fine upholstery. Very fine Lenk upholstery...” He creeps forward.
I draw my gun. “Stop moving.” But Jameson doesn’t flinch. “I’ll shoot!”
“Oh, Mr. Lenk,” he says, inching sideways, circling, like a cobra preparing to strike. “There’s nothing over there, I’m sitting right here...”
I turn the gun on the sofa and fire. He drops to the ground, screaming in agony. In a few minutes I have him restrained and call it in.
Bringing in one of these ‘depersonalized’ people is the tricky part; it generally requires unconscious transport followed by a whole mulligan stew of pharmaceuticals. They’re completely disoriented, conflating themselves with the furniture or an entire room, and they feel like they’re being ripped from their skin if it’s not handled right.
No one knows what causes it, how it started, why some people catch it and not others. Maybe it’s a faulty neurochip. Maybe the power lines really are developing a rudimentary intelligence, trying to influence our behavior. Or maybe some people are just born stupid.
So, picture this. I’m driving down a rainy street after dealing with the sofa king. It’s mid-day, good visibility, not too cloudy even, and I’m just cruising, green after green after green, when—still green!—a man in a trenchcoat walks out into the street and just stops. I barely manage to brake.
He lifts his hat, looks at me with angry wolverine eyes over pale gaunt cheeks. Something tells me to accelerate, get out of there, but I don’t. He has the strange, shuddering movement of the depersonalized, but he’s not at home. He’s not even indoors. Might be an early stage... but his movement’s already so awkward...
I unlock the doors.
He moves, haltingly, to the passenger side and climbs in.
“Never.” He stares straight out at the road ahead as I resume driving.
“Looking for someone?”
“What...?” I’m a nobody, a 2-bit ex-cop in an 8-bit world. No lead feature in a news magazine, never a cover story on TV, no author or journalist or embedded podcaster shadowing my every move. “Why me?”
“I know of the one you seek.”
“You know about the case?” I don’t bother to ask how. “The killer, where he is? Why haven’t you already...”
“We suspect. But every agent who has gone near... we lose contact.”
“And you think I’ll have better luck?”
“Why help us?”
He shakes his head. “This one threatens the order and stability of the system.” He reaches over to put a card on the dashboard: EroSEC Global, and an address. “Here you will find what you seek.” He stares at me—well, almost at me—with his piercing yellow eyes. “Will you do this?”
He opens the door as I slow for a red light, doesn’t wait for me to stop, just calmly steps out and walks away, with a faint smile on his face.
I stand on the concrete steps of the brick building, the iron railing freezing under my hand. I reach up to bang again on the door when I notice movement in the alley beside me. A loud metallic click makes me stop.
“Enough,” a voice hisses from the shadows. “Turn around.”
I comply, jerking, keeping my gaze fixed at a point just to the left of his shoulder. He opens the door and pushes me inside the unlit structure.
It’s a mod shop: spare cybernetics, repairs, custom installations. Doubtless illegal, but my captor doesn’t seem to be the type to pay his taxes like a good little boy.
As we walk down the dark hall, I can’t get a good look at him in the light streaming through dusty windows. He holds an almost comically small revolver—something ancient. Sweat drips from his nose.
He leads me past part racks and closed doors, stopping in front of one. It opens into a circular empty room, its every surface streaked with metal like some bizarre birdcage. “Keep walking,” he says.
When I reach the middle, there’s a clunk from outside, and I stop moving. The air crackles and hums. The hairs on my arms stand up. And, hidden in front of me, I slowly pull the gun from my holster.
“Good,” he says. I hear his footsteps enter, and another click. “It’s always such a simple...”
I whirl and shoot him, twice, and he falls back, head crashing into the pile of metal tools just outside the door.
“But... how...” he sputters. “The cage always works on selfers...”
“I’m not one of them.”
He gapes, uncomprehending, forever.
flash rule: grateful
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2015 03:03|
My long overdue crit of one of SurreptitiousMuffin's 'dome stories.
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2015 21:42|
On. In. Of.
Let's see if I can write a 500 word story. I can't
|# ¿ Feb 10, 2015 20:49|
I am good at time zones.
|# ¿ Feb 16, 2015 03:24|
Great, thanks! One day I will write
|# ¿ Feb 18, 2015 02:43|
Also because I am a person
|# ¿ Feb 24, 2015 23:38|
Kyra breathed slowly, anxious about what she was about to do. Even before the hog had stopped, she was off and walking towards the restaurant.
She looked around at the other members of the club, silhouetted in the electric lighting. Otter in the white shirt and shades; Rich with his long beard and gold earrings; Lex wearing sunglasses and jeans; and Danny wearing a red bandanna around his neck, and Victoria hanging off of him like a climbing vine, fingers curled around his arm and creeping up his chest as they walked. All of them proudly wearing the colors.
And there was Miller, of course. Kyra was right beside him, still attached, every day, every place. Habit. Everything about him was the same as that first night she saw him a year earlier: the scruffy beard, the torn shirt, the close-cropped hair, the arms as wide as tree trunks. It was fun and exciting at first, but it quickly became dull, then suffocating. The one thing she never got tired of was the riding, speeding down dark highway road, the lines a blur of gray, the air dry, acidic grit getting in her teeth and stinging her tongue, every time riding like an ode to the God of Speed.
They walked into the restaurant around ten at night. It was nothing special. Decor from the 50s, and enough dirt in the crevices that that might have been the last time it was washed properly, too. One of those places with a phone book for a menu but they know how to make everything on it. And a place that accepted the gang, or at least tolerated them; even still allowed smoking inside.
Miller looked at her, flicked cigarette ash onto the windowsill beside him, gave her that funny half-smile: he knew she hated when he did that. She looked away.
He was mostly harmless, usually, sometimes. When he was in a good mood, he was great. Funny, kind, talked her ear off. When he was feeling down he tended to sink back into the wallpaper. But when he was drinking, all bets were off.
“Miller, I gotta tell you something.”
“Sure, babe. Hey Lex!”—he shouted across the room—“Get me another beer, would ya?”
“I’m serious, Miller.”
“Right, no, hey. I hear you babe, I really do. Hey Lex!” He waved his hand wildly.
The waiter brought them their food. 2 eggs over easy and a grilled cheese sandwich for her, gazpacho for him.
“I don’t know how you can stand that,” he said.
“Neither do I.” She picked at the crispy fried edges of an egg with her fork.
He didn’t respond, just started eating in big slurping gulps. After a minute, he looked up at her, put his spoon down, and ran a rough hand over his stubbled head. “Hey, c’mon. Something’s bothering you. What is it?”
“You. The club. Everything.”
“What? Babe...” He reached for her hand.
She jerked back. “I’m done. We’re done. It’s over.”
He took a sudden interest in the Keno screen above her head, and tipped a beer to his lips. Then he nodded, slowly. “All right.” He gave her another of his funny half smiles and pushed back from the table. The handle of his gun just stuck out above his belt. “But watch out, babe. Somebody might get hurt. Accidents happen, you know.”
She glanced at the next table over—Rich was telling a story, probably one they had heard a dozen times before, Lex laughing hysterically, Dan and Vic practically falling asleep in each others’ food. The waiter was somewhere in the back.
“No, I don’t think so.” She leaned forward, across the table, draping her arm over his. “Because I watched you sleep this morning. Because I put an empty clip in your gun, and because I have this.” She pulled a small revolver from the side pocket of her bag.
He sputtered, eyes wide.
“I know you’re not stupid, and you don’t crave attention,” Kyra said. “That’s why I’m not making a scene outta this. I’m just going to stand up, and walk to the bathroom door, and keep walking right out of here. And you’re not going to say anything.”
“You...” He sat back, slack-jawed, in the booth. The flaking foam cushioning cut into his back. “Is there somebody...”
“There’s nobody. It’s me. It’s you. That’s all.” She stood up and started walking towards the doors. “Goodbye, Miller. It’s been a ride.”
Outside, she climbed onto her chopper. And it was hers; she had paid for it. He had never been a good mechanic, had left that to her; just another habit they fell into.
Most of the members behind her were too buzzed to follow or too coked out to care, if they even noticed her leaving. She started the bike, revved the engine, circled the restaurant once and sped off, back the way they came. The night’s cool air and sand and bugs whipped past her head. She just kept pushing the throttle, faster, faster through the desert, to meet the God of Speed.
She rode for nearly an hour, until the fuel gauge nearly hit E, looking back every few minutes to see if there were any bikes following her. There never were.
At last she came to a ridge, a place she had visited many times during the day, to think by herself. She’d never come here with him.
She climbed off of the bike and eased it several yards down the embankment, to the dusty ledge below, out of view of the highway above. Then she kept climbing down the path, crawling down backwards in some places, using her backpack as a counterweight; down rough pebbles and smooth stone surfaces almost like stairs in others.
A creek whispered in the darkness at the bottom of the gorge. She collected stones and laid them in a circle beside the water, then set her sleeping bag out alongside it. Bits of driftwood and brush from the immediate area were good enough to start a fire. So were her colors.
She had done it. She was out. She lay down to sleep alone for the first time in months.
|# ¿ Mar 2, 2015 03:33|
here are some loose scribblings that may or may not be considered crits:
|# ¿ Mar 3, 2015 00:50|
TD WEEK 134 CRITS: BLEH
Expanded Crits for Week CVIII: PoshAlligator, bromplicated, Skwid, Grizzled Patriarch, docbeard, Fumblemouse, Tyrannosaurus, Blade_of_tyshalle, Schneider Heim, Ironic Twist, Fuschia tude, Phobia, crabrock, and JuniperCake
Thanks for your crits! I appreciate you.
|# ¿ Apr 18, 2015 03:35|
|# ¿ Apr 22, 2015 03:08|
You fuel your magic by stealing hubris and vanity from heroes and divas, among other things. Anyone who has an overly high estimation of themselves is fodder for the plucking. Careful you don't leave too many empty, broken people in your wake...
Hourly Wages - 919 words
It was a bitterly cold day when a boy burst into Magnus’ shop and slapped his hands on the table. “I need an hour,” he said, gasping. “You have to give me an hour.”
The old man looked up from the table for a moment, then turned his attention back to his work. “I don’t have to do anything,” he said as he picked up his needle. “Besides, I’m very busy. I have all these clothes to make for the festival next week—”
“I need to go back! Please!” He grabbed the old man’s arm. There were tears in his eyes. “Aren’t you the weaver? Can’t you still weave the strands?”
He had heard the tales from the old women about Magnus. He was a weaver of reality, they said, gathering distant strands and combining to produce the desired effects for his customers. They said he could pluck an arrow from the sky just before it struck their true love dead. Turn a rainy day dry so that a mudslide would be smaller and a town could escape. Save a child from a deadly illness.
“And if I am... And if I do... What do you have to offer me in return?”
The boy looked down at his tattered shoes. “I would work for you.”
“Mm. Your parents know about that?”
“But, no, that’s not what I mean. Can you sing?”
“What?” The boy looked up in surprise. “No...”
“Then you’re no good to me. Find me someone who can.”
The boy was about to say something, then stopped. He looked away and took a deep breath. “I need this. I can do whatever you ask of me.”
“Then tell me this, boy. What is your aspiration? What is your desire in life?”
“I’m going to go to the city to join the theater...”
“Ah, acting! You can act.”
“No... not yet.”
“But you will... or, you would. Yes. That will do. I can use that.”
The boy only stared. “Use?”
“You lose this, I do that for you, give you your hour. And you’ll never be an actor. That’s the deal.”
“I don’t...” The boy was shaking.
“That’s the deal.”
He stared down at his feet. “OK. Send me back an hour, then. Or a bit longer.”
“First of all, no, I can’t send you back. I can’t do anything with the requester. Or myself, for that matter.”
“But you said—”
“No. You have to be specific, now. What did you want to do, what changes, what events play out differently?”
“It’s... Emma. My sister. She... she has to be sick, she has to stay in bed all day. That’s what I want. That’s what you have to do.”
“It’s done.” Magnus sat back in his chair.
“But... don’t... you have to weave it!”
“I told you, it’s done.” The boy still wasn’t getting it. “Look at that cloth above the door.”
He turned around and looked up at the white cloth, covered with squares of red, hung over the door.
“What...” the boy said. “Was that up there when I came in?”
“Of course it was. It hadn’t been, but it was. You didn’t change. I didn’t change. But the world did. You perceive no change now, because you’ve been inside here with me this whole time. Go out and see the result for yourself.”
The boy took a deep breath and ran out.
He ran to the river nearby, on the left side of town, the place he and his sister had been playing, and it had been his idea, the place where he had seen his sister fall through the ice, watched her sink below and he was too cold and weak and scared to save her, even to run for help, his legs wouldn’t move, his eyes were locked in place and it was too late, too late.
The ice was solid. There was no hole. There were no footprints leading up to the river.
He ran back home. Into the living room, past the washroom to the bedroom. And his sister was lying there in her bed, sick and miserable, her head bright red and puffy. But alive. Mother dabbed her face with a wet cloth.
When she saw him she yelled, “Where have you been! You were supposed to start chopping firewood an hour ago!” and began chasing him with the great stick from the corner. He didn’t care; she was alive. He ducked out the back door again.
Magnus was surprised to see the boy again. People rarely came back; they usually didn’t have any talent left to offer. Some were more affected than others, drained by the whole process; some disappeared entirely, or seemed to fade away like a dying candle. He tried not to think about them.
But this boy was different. He had no want. No need. And though he had no talent to give, “I can learn,” he said. “I want to learn. I’ll work for you, if you’ll have me.”
Magnus asked about his parents, if they approved, told what the work would entail, how many years the contract would cover. It would be a long, slow process, to teach the art; expensive, to feed and clothe another. But he would survive; he had some small savings, and an extra pair of hands would help, certainly. And more than anything, he was happy to have another person to share his knowledge with. Someone who would understand.
|# ¿ Apr 26, 2015 06:06|
Thanks Hammer Bro. and Tyrannosaurus and RedTonic! I will have my crits in tomorrowish, mostly undercritted work.
|# ¿ Apr 28, 2015 05:00|
Thanks judges for your crits. Here are mine:
Rules of return by redtonic:
Odd place to start the story, mid-conversation, without any real hook to it.
I'm 2/3 through and still kind of confused about what's going on.
"The snarled puberty-jangle he dragged around writhed in smug satisfaction." ...What? This is some kind of metaphorical she-can-sense-auras ability?
This whole scene completely confused me, especially right at this point. I missed that Kelley had showed up earlier.
Kelley strangled the copy. “Thank you for bringing this to light, Ms. Salt. In the future, I suggest you don’t stage skits in the cafeteria.” She gripped Hines’ shoulder. He seemed to curl in on himself as his triumph evaporated.
So I just read this through a second time and I'm still confused about what's going on. The ending doesn't feel very conclusive, but let me list what I think is going on. Hines' parents are getting a divorce. He tries to get Salt to keep them together (she works at a government sorcery bureau, and so does Kelley (and Hines? how does he get in to the lunch room?)) He gets angry that she doesn't, starts mail-and-fax-bombing her, she stages a showdown in the cafeteria. Kelley knows it was him, the end.
So many actions are vague and alluded to that could just be stated outright, it's really hard to follow the actions and intentions at any given moment.
The Ruby Fountain of Ghel Gamort by SadisTech:
I'm about 1/4 through and I like it so far. The first lines are a bit too bland; only the "black blood-flies" really grab interest. If you can't start with action because the ritual is important in the story, maybe you could at least open with a bit of foreshadowing, illustrating why the scene that follows will be important?
What exactly is the merchant warning about?
That whole exposition from Arashai could have been much shorter and all the more effective for leaving specific details to the imagination. As it is now, it feels a little too "As you know, Bob..."
I like it! I really wish you had gotten it below the limit. Your story structure is pretty good, grammar and sentence construction had no real problems I noticed... aside from descriptions being a little too florid and excessive. So often you used a long, sprawling phrase where a word or two would have worked. I think if you had cut all but the most necessary adjectives and descriptive passages, then chopping down the intro pre-ritual and the dialog with the rioters should have gotten you more or less to the limit.
I'm serious, this story deserved better than a DQ, you just wouldn't do the work to get it past that point. "Darlings" nothing, there was tons of dead wood you could have trimmed without hurting the overall arc, or even many of the details; and the story would have been much more vibrant for the cutting.
The Nightly Portents - Omi no Kami
This should probably be 3 or 4 sentences. In any case the gerunds do not work as they're positioned here.
“Aha!” she growled, snatching into the darkness and triumphantly returning with a squirming lizard gripped tightly in her knobby hands. Oblivious to the poor creature’s struggles she hooked its tail around her ear and twisted it until its head sat just beside her mouth, clearing her throat experimentally.
And it's done. That was a kind of interesting set up I guess, demonic sorcerers giving a news report, but what was the point? Nothing really happened from beginning to end, there was no conflict or issue resolved, it was just like a day in the life of WEVL-TV. The ending especially felt pointless, not even a punchline to it. It's all written competently enough, but it feels like it needs more work behind it at the top-level design stage.
Jagermonster - Of a Feather
Sorry, I don't have much to say about this one. The only surprising bit might be the shield bash, but other than that this all feels very by-the-numbers, like I've read it all before: the overbearing taxation, the murderous enforcers, the chaos that the wizard is sorry not sorry for. Nothing too much really surprised me here. Sorry I can't be more specific about where it goes wrong; there's no technical problem in the construction of any sentences or phrases, at least none that really stood out to me.
Chairchucker - That Was a Pretty Wizard, Wasn't It?
OK all of these parenthetical and hyphenated asides are getting tiresome. They're not clever enough to work here, and the story is too short to stand on its own without them. The sarcastic humor is not working for me, and I don't see any reason for a wizard woodpecker to have the demeanor of a surly pre-teen, if the narration is supposed to be reflecting her mindset.
This story is just kind of pointless. She's never really at risk from the cat, because she's a wizard and she can explode things whenever, right? So there's not much of a conflict here, there's no tension about what's going to happen. The cat is too minor a character for anyone to care about its ultimate outcome, either, and it obviously doesn't phase its exploder.
Also, logs are dead (especially logs being carved) and dead things don't use nutrients.
kurona_bright - The Tapping Anticlimax
"Guy was doing thing." Come on, you know how dull an opening line that is. You could at least add some kind of descriptor about him to indicate why he/this event is interesting in some way. But considering what happens in every line after it, you might as well have scrapped it and rethought the whole thing, top to bottom.
I mean, that's how it ends? She spends months searching for details about this guy, gets his number, calls him, the end? That's completely anticlimactic (ho I see what you did in your title), not any kind of interesting dramatic structure. It reads like a comic strip or something. Her use of powers is almost nonexistent; it doesn't do justice to the story seed at all. Honestly, I think this would have been much better if it was set in just about any time and place other than business meetings, todaysville. The name "Sorcetel" doesn't even have any purpose or meaning in the story, it's just some kind of lazy callback to the prompt!
It's possible to write an interesting story about someone with your power, maybe even one set in the business world; but this is not that story.
CrazySalamander - Run, Wizard, Run
Not really a fan of the archaic grammatical constructions. They're not used skillfully enough to make up for their word-flow-arresting effect, and they're used in narration, not dialog.
Why was I here? It's dark. - Tense mash makes things confusing and difficult to read.
All right, so second time through: this is the POV of some dungeon master who's set traps to stop theives. Mind thief chases him into his inner sanctum, steals his spells as he tries to cast them, he uses his sister's deus ex machina which kills them both the end. Random third wizard (Strella?) says gently caress.
Except for the pointless epilogue that's some kind of structure, I guess. But the overdone prose tended to obscure what was happening, and I didn't have any reason to care about the wizard or his killer. No one had any motivation except thief wanted protagonist's mind, apparently. Protag had a talking sister murder necklace because ???
You had plenty of space in your word count to flesh out these sketches into actual dimensional people. Without any emotional weight this just falls flat.
A Classy Ghost - A Gift for Amy
Nice first few paragraphs. Sets up the goals and descriptions with minimal but effective lines. "Amy needs me" and kissing the opal might be a bit too obvious, but not terribly.
Pretty nice ending, too. I was a little worried you were losing things in the middle with the attack, but then the chase and the use of the wands kept things interesting. You teetered on the edge of cliche a bit in some places, but managed to stay on the right side of it.
Overall good structure, and some good descriptions and general sentence construction.
hotsoupdinner - The Wizard's Song
I like the introductory scene. You have a good balance between exposition and action.
So, the descriptions are nice throughout, but I'm not sure exactly what happened at the end. Wizard thought e'd find the secrets of the universe behind this door that the key unlocked... turns out it meant the end of that listening power wizard had and that's it? Because... the spell wasn't strong enough? Or the hubris of man? Or...
That was fun. I should do this more often.
I'll crit my critters tomorrow.
|# ¿ Apr 29, 2015 07:05|
Whoops, I forgot I already did RedTonic's.
Hammer Bro. - Sequelae
The second scene shift is incredibly disorienting. I get that that's somewhat intentional, but when Dante wakes up with bloody knuckles... what the hell happened? And who is Randall? Was that supposed to say "Dominic"?
And the end... took me a few rereads to get it... I think. Santa Clause, right? Kill death and take its place? Using the telescope to amplify the dessication power, making it fully optical, may be a bit goofy but I guess it works. Death goes out like a chump, though. The Death character overall felt more like a nagging voice than a real full-throated threat.
I like the broad story arc. Escalated nicely, given the space you had available. Maybe a bit too much, but then Dante seems human and believable enough in his actions.
Tyrannosaurus - Nothing More. Nothing Less.
That was cute. The dialog might be a little too, uh, grade-school for the setting, but at least that's better than the other extreme and being ponderous.
The tone for the story itself works fine, I suppose it's fittingly optimistic. But Ivar's voice just seems too naive and eager for someone with all this training and practice working with this sort of thing, independent of whatever age he's supposed to be.
The story structure worked. I'm not sure about the second practice scene, whether it would have been better to just reference it in the final scene. They both seem to convey the same information about using the power on a human. Also, halfway through the first scene you seem to have forgotten he still had a broken nose.
|# ¿ Apr 30, 2015 02:34|
After years of searching, Roberta Laksi stood before her sister’s murderer. She tried to imprint his outline into her brain, every crease, every wrinkle. He was seated at an easel facing the sun as it rose over the bay. He clutched a nub of charcoal in sharp bony fingers, using it to make thick, bold strokes on the page. In his left hand he held a rag which he used every so often to smudge and smooth in the image.
She watched him work in silence. He was nearly done. The sunlight glimmered from the corrugated siding of nearby factories by the time he seemed to be satisfied.
At last, he stood and acknowledged her for the first time. “Thank you,” he said, as he pocketed the charcoal. “It’s such a fleeting thing, you know, capturing the way the shadows fall in the early morning.” He continued to talk as she drew her gun, a revolver, awkward and heavy in her hands. “After that, the shadows almost disappear. There’s no light, no dark, no black and white, just gray.” She cocked the gun. “It’s dull, really. I can’t do anything with it after that point.”
She raised the pistol to a level in line with his wispy white head. “I just have one question,” she said. “Why did you do it?”
“Beg pardon?” the old man asked. He scratched under his chin.
“Why did you kill Leslie?”
“Hmm? I’m sorry, I don’t know who you’re...” He looked around, and his eyes fell on the drawing. “Oh!” He picked it up from the easel and turned it towards the light. “I’ve finished another one. It’s got some lovely contrast in it, don’t you think? I do love drawing here. It’s the perfect place to capture the sunrise.”
Roberta felt faint. Had she confronted the wrong man?
No. The aquiline nose and browline were unmistakable, if a bit sagged compared to how they appeared in the old photograph. And Sam had been adamant about this place: the old man came here every day to draw or paint, he said, as the fishing boats left the village. They had spent months together trying to track him down, scouring old travel documents, reading through file records abandoned in dusty government buildings, cross-referencing names and dates.
“Mr. Jackon?” she asked, hoping he would say no, hoping for anything at all but what came next.
The old man squinted at her. “Yes? I’m sorry, do I know you, girl? My memory’s not quite what it used to be, you know. You’ll have to be patient with me.”
|# ¿ May 14, 2015 21:13|
It takes 2 minutes after posting. You probably 'd the edit button.
|# ¿ May 16, 2015 12:23|
Thee Tends Well
“Your helicopter is full of eels,” said the Captain. It was true. A full meter of wriggling, slick and slimy eels had been poured into the cockpit of Warrant Officer Jan Shenklmurkle’s Bell 412EPI reconnaissance helicopter.
“I was flying near the sea,” Jan explained.
A single eel flopped out of the helicopter window and splatted onto the flight deck, smearing it with eel-goo. The Captain looked at it. Then he shook his head minutely, left, right, as though calibrating.
“You were flying near the sea,” the Captain said.
Jan nodded. It was hot on the flight deck and trickles of sweat were schussing from his armpit down the inside of his shirt. “Captain, at approximately 1430 hours a freak gust of wind caused a localised waterspout, which—”
The Captain held up a finger, which was trembling like the tip of a tuning fork. “EELS, Warrant Officer Shenklmurkle!”
Jan smiled tolerantly. “Of course, Captain. The recent popularity of eel-meat as a constituent in—”
The Captain flushed a sudden and vibrant crimson like a Flamboyant Cuttlefish in a sea of raspberry jelly mix. “Shut up! This helicopter! One hour! No loving eels! Am I understood!?” The Captain whirled in place and stalked off like a rage-clotted Marabou Stork, or would have done so had the ship on the flight deck on which they were standing not suddenly lurched in response to the arrival of the bow wave of a supertanker maneuvering into port.
He put his foot back to keep his balance, but stepped on the patch of glistening eel-slime that the thrashings of the fallen eel had been spreading across the smooth metal of the flight deck. The Captain crashed to the ground, jamming his face into the rasping hide of the eel. He shrieked, a hoarse and fearful note, and jerked his head back into the belly of the Bell, making a hollow ‘bong’. As if in response to a summons, an additional handful of eels writhed over the lip of the window and onto his head.
The Captain made a sound that suggested he had left speech far behind. He scrabbled at his face and neck, brushing away the slithering coils, then reached into his shirt and pulled the last one out. He looked at it with cold loathing, then handed it to Jan. Jan took it. It was surprisingly warm, he thought.
The Captain brushed a ribbon of slime off his hands. “One hour, Shenklemurkle.” He walked away like a swan coated in tanker oil.
Getting the eels out, in itself, would not be a problem. Jan had a few favors to call in, and anyway he could pay his friends back in beer. And Mess Cook Rotterdam should buy the whole lot from him. The kitchen was always looking for cheap, quality protein, these days. Most eels should still be alive; they had only been out of the water for less than half an hour, and the helicopter was still partially flooded with eel-brine.
The problem would be getting them down to the kitchen. The cook was unusually principled, and he refused to accept anything that came to him already dead. Jan felt he was being overly picky, but Rotterdam once called him a “Neanderthal waste of flesh plebian bastard” for suggesting they might speed up food prep by using the kitchen microwave. Right now, Jan didn’t have time to argue with him.
First things first. He needed to get some pipe.
THE FOLLOWING TRANSCRIPT HAS BEEN MODIFIED TO REMOVE NAMES AND PERSONALLY IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS Prosecutor: So, Warrant Officer, you landed at 0915 on the deck of the Sparitz, is that correct? Warrant Officer: Yes, Sir. P: And the craft was already engulfed with eels at that time? WO: I wouldn’t say “engulfed,” exactly. It still functioned, adjusting for the new and shifting center of mass. And I could still move around. It was a bit tight in there. P: It was filled, then, with eels. WO: No, Sir. It had been filled. P: I’m sorry? WO: It was not filled with eels when I landed, no. It had been filled with eels prior to that moment. P: Warrant Officer ########, were any eels added to your flight vehicle after you landed on the Sparitz at 0915? WO: Of course not. Sir. P: They all appeared in your flight vehicle before that moment. WO: They did. P: And you filled various washbasins with the eels, correct? WO: No, that was officers ########, ########, ########, and ########. P: Where were you at that time? WO: Obtaining the pipes. P: Stolen from the ship’s storage room? WO: Borrowed. P: Without consent. These were flexible plastic piping, as appear in Exhibit 39 Delta? WO: Right. Our basins weren’t enough for all the eels. We had to store them inside the pipes. P: Inside the pipes? WO: Yeah, held up like this, two people each, so they sag in the middle. Eels really want to flop out if you let them. P: Was it your idea to introduce them to the ship’s water supply? WO: That was never my intent, no. P: What did you intend? WO: To keep them in the ballast. P: Why? WO: They’re fish, they need salt water to live, man! They can’t breathe air. P: But they didn’t end up in the ballast tank, did they, Warrant Officer? WO: That’s what they tell me. P: No further questions.
Jan knew better, now, than to trust Jimenez with mission-critical tasks like “read the hatch label before you open and unload into it.”
He didn’t even mind the taste of eel meat so much. Early in Jan’s confinement, they started alternating baked eels with eel porridge, which at least varied the texture. But what really got to him after three weeks in the brig was the brackish eel-water served with it. Even boiling couldn’t kill the taste, the guards said.
He was beginning to loathe eels.
|# ¿ May 18, 2015 03:19|
Please to be flashing
|# ¿ May 20, 2015 00:10|
Ok, I'm just going to be giving crits for the people who are mentioned because pretty much for everyone else, your stories were middling at best and just barely better then the DMs at worse. If you did not get mentioned in the results and want a crit then ask in PM or irc like I said a million loving times already. Though I'm actually serious here if you don't get to me in a week I won't be able to crit you guys because I'll be out for awhile. So do it now, or risk never getting it.
Thank you for crit(s)!
|# ¿ May 21, 2015 02:20|
A Glutton For Punishment
Carlos Zacharias was the smartest boy in all of second grade, pitted day after day in mental combat with the nefarious Mrs. Zolene. Her candy tin sat on the edge of her desk every day, mocking him, taunting him. The contents were handed out only for exceptional work and good behavior. He had never been able to pull off both. He had never tasted the candy. In his mind those little individually-wrapped morsels were the greatest ambrosia ever made.
He’d almost been able to do it, once. He had tried to act good, he really had. Acted calm all day, never pulled Ellie’s pigtails or made Sam cry, tried to know all the answers that the teacher asked. He was starting to get annoyed after doing this for a whole fifteen minutes. He raised his hand and asked for the candy. “No, Carlos," Mrs. Zolene said, making that "tsk" sound she seemed to love using with him. "A person who asks for this candy will not get it. This is a privilege to be earned, not requested. That’s how it works. The deserving get it without ever having to ask.” Everyone was staring at him. A few girls giggled. He wanted to crawl under his desk.
After that, he “acted out” even worse than normal that day, and nearly got called down to the principal’s office. Almost. He always knew just how far to push it.
He knew he could never grab the tin when the teacher was there. Every time they went to lunch or recess, the teacher’s helpers always knew to watch him like a hawk. He never once even had a chance to hide inside the room until the door was locked.
One day, he had a plan. Carlos was able to duck into the sixth grade dissection lab on the way to lunch one day. He knew Mr. Rifini never locked his room.
He looked around the lab. Everything was so tall! How could he find the stuff and hide it on him? He knew he only had a minute or two before his absence would be noticed. He pushed a chair over and climbed onto a counter.
From here, he saw big boxes with a label on one side, all laid out on another counter. He headed over there and climbed up. He couldn’t really read any of the labels on the canisters. Well, he could, but he didn’t know what any of the long words meant. He grabbed a bottle of the worst-smelling stuff and shoved it into his bag, making sure it stayed on the other side of his books from his lunch bag. His dunkaroos were not going to poison him today.
At lunch, Molly, one of Mrs. Zolene’s watchers, asked Carlos where he’d been. “Bathroom,” he said. “It couldn’t wait.”
“You gotta tell me!” she whined. Snot dribbled from her nose in agitation. “I can’t just find out after... I just can’t! It’s the rules!”
“OK, OK.” He sat down. Soon... so soon... he would taste sweet success. He ate in determined, anticipatory, victorious silence. He didn’t even like ham and cheese or dunkaroos.
Then the class marched back to the room. Carlos sat in his seat, idly staring at Ellie’s pigtails. They called him, a siren’s song, whispering of the joy to be had from pulling them, if they could only be freed from their earthly bonds... Just one good tug... Well, one on each...
No. He needed to concentrate. Think. How would he get the gas on everyone and not him?
He missed naptime. His plans were so much easier to carry out in kindergarten.
The teacher was droning on about time and clocks. He had been telling time since he could walk. This lesson was even more beneath him than usual. “These simple children,” he muttered under his breath. He would show them.
Act like a child. That was it! Who would ever suspect? He grabbed the bottle and stuffed it under his shirt. Then he raised his hand. He started waving it, more and more urgently. It was a banner waving in the wind, a flag, not of surrender but of victory.
“I gotta go use the restroom. Real bad, please!”
“All right. Five minutes.” Mrs. Zolene looked down her nose at him as he wriggled out of his seat, grabbed the pass from her and ran to the door.
He waited until he was just out of sight, around the corner from the room, to stop his act. He peeked into the door window. The nearest desk was far from the door, facing away from him. He couldn’t see the teacher from here, but decided it should be safe enough. They were still in the cold part of spring, so the outside windows were still closed. Good for him and his plan.
He grabbed fistfuls of paper towels from the restroom and ran back to the room. Then he opened the bottle and poured half of the liquid from it, let it flow into the room, and blocked the sill with the towels. He did the same with the door at the front of the room. That should be enough to keep the stuff concentrated inside.
He waited a few minutes.
Then he looked inside. There was no movement. Everyone seemed to be asleep. He went around to the front door: Mrs. Zolene sat dozing in her chair, too. Good.
Carlos used one wet paper towel as a breathing mask as he opened the door and stepped inside. It was just as good as gas masks from the trenches, surely.
He reached the desk. With shaking hands, he opened the box that had tantalized him for so long. He grabbed a whole handful, unwrapping and eating them without reading the labels. And without breathing. It was difficult and he was getting lightheaded. He didn’t have time to savor them; he could barely even taste them.
The teacher moved a little. Time to get back in his seat. He replaced the candy lid, left the door open a crack to get the air moving, rushed back to his seat and put his head on his desk like the others, and took a deep breath.
Seems like he found naptime after all.
It was all chaos afterwards, of course. The office sent down people, administrators, vice principals, and soon police and even an ambulance arrived. No one was badly hurt, but there were a few scares.
The worst off was Carlos. He couldn’t breathe when he woke up with the others, and went to the emergency room with blocked airways (the ride was really scary but, also, totally awesome).
He had forgotten about his peanut allergy. It wasn’t terribly severe, he wouldn’t go into shock at the slightest whiff of ground nut powder, but this was no minor exposure. Apparently some of the candies in the tin were peanut chews.
In the end, the incident was chalked up to a student prank, probably sixth graders, but there was no proof of exactly who did it. No one suspected a second grader. No one ever did.
Carlos was fine with that. Even if he might not be out of the hospital for weeks, maybe longer... even if he might need surgery... that would just give him more time to plot his next move against Mrs. Zolene.
|# ¿ May 25, 2015 06:39|
Crits for ALL stories up in order of submission
|# ¿ May 26, 2015 02:53|
Some much-belated crits.
|# ¿ May 27, 2015 04:25|
SPACESHIP WEEK CRITS
|# ¿ May 31, 2015 13:21|
also, crits are tight. write 'em and post 'em. don't bother waiting for me!
I like critting. Artist's rendering:
Fausty - From Rose to Thorn
Meh OK. I am kind of confused about what happened here. Lana left but the other guy got a message? I don't know who Lana is or why she matters to anyone. Did she leave Virginia? Does it matter? I can't tell. These descriptions are wordy and overwrought. Way too many adjectives. Feels like the end of a short story -- too many unanswered questions.
Enchanted Hat - The Monster of Adelphia
Why did you split polemistos' paragraph at the end? That should be one.
Not a fan of the present tense. "With those words, Polemistos dies." reads like stage instructions.
It's an end via Deus Ex Machina? That's not the forest dragon attacking because Omilitos helped it, but that dragon is in fact attacking the city, and this new one is a completely unrelated newcomer? With roles reversed it could have made sense. This is just a non-sequitor. And the whole thing just feels like a history lesson; this happened, then that happened, then the warrior died the end.
Ok looking at your prompt, it's the other twin? I guess? How does that matter? It's not even stated that the two men are twins. You have to actually say things in a story if you want a reader to know what the gently caress.
Benny the Snake - The Willow and the Ribbon
I don't what
the brotherly phl - When you can read the world
half way through - this is good.
You missed the divider before "He might have lied".
Hmm. Not poorly written sentence-by-sentence but I'm not sure I see the point of the bar stories. Both strands seemed to just peter out without much in the way of resolution. Children found, girl refused, the end.
Thranguy - Any Way the Wind Blows
Um. I am not sure the point of this week's prompt is to literally write Shakespeare fanfiction.
So uh. This is unreadable for anyone who's not well-acquainted with the plot of Hamlet and I can't see the point of any of it. Is it just a parody of the play? And who or what is the narrator, anyway?
TheAnomoly - Kissing a Boy
"those giant anime looking eyes of hers" hoo boy
maybe I'm not being completely selfish in all this, just a little. - reads awkward
and their full.
did you uh run out of punctuation budget at the end? You're nowhere near the submission deadline. You can afford to proofread a bit more.
So. This is a group of survivalists who were at a summer camp during the bomb, and now x years later (months? I don't know) they are leaving. Ending feels anti-climactic.
SquirrelFace - Diplomacy
not reading unspaced lines
Jonked - The Final Lap
a little more aggressive, reckless - should be adverbs.
"I guess now I <past tense verb>" is awkward.
Otherwise I don't have much to say. Makes sense, works.
Benny Profane - Honorable Men
Written competently enough, but what is the point? Why are these two motivated to kill their friend? Just because he might be tempted to overreach in power? Isn't that only delaying the selection of the new sheriff anyway? I don't see it.
Entenzahn - From Above
All right. This is not bad; the events are fairly well foreshadowed and come back around to the beginning to tie things up in a way that's at least satisfying. The story feels fairly slight but I guess there are worse problems to have.
spectres of autism - Jelly
OK this is good. The juxtaposition of normal and really, really weird works and made me laugh unlike other stories so far this week.
And then I. I don't know. You had me until the end. Destroying the head seemed too simple and the resolution of their fight/magic spell was too pat and the last paragraph was hnnrg. It wasn't an fitting punishment or a Twilight-Zone style ironic ending, it just seemed to come out of nowhere. And I like Was It All A Dream? endings even less than It Was All A Dream! endings. After all that, it needed a stronger payoff. You just kind of "meh"ed all the strands' conclusions with a wet slop.
Fuschia tude fucked around with this message at 04:09 on Jun 2, 2015
|# ¿ Jun 2, 2015 04:02|
More crits of last week's
docbeard - Appearances
Good. I don't have any complaints, really. You missed italicizing a paragraph.
Blue Squares - Would that we Could
Good stuff. Nothing I can see to criticize, really.
LOU BEGAS MOUSTACHE - They Call Him Girl
"When Girl is a toe is shy the door," - What? I can't even figure out what you meant to write.
"Sticking out of a dumpster is a purple bubble jacket, Girl slips it on." You use comma splices way too much. They almost never work, especially with sequential event narration.
Bozo spits acid? Literally, apparently? And it burns on contact with skin? And "he laments the flammability of his face loudly." You could be droll but it doesn't work here.
"Girl chunks polygons of Jack’s skull right into some white matter." how... what happened?
Despite some technical construction issues and a fairly confusing chronology of events this is pretty good at evoking place.
Claven666 - 'Till Death
I don't get it. This is a metaphysical final resting place? And he got in for good behavior, only it turns out he wasn't so good after all? Why didn't the supernaturals know that already? How did he get in at all? And then if she is a demon in disguise, and the rules apply to her here, how can she use her powers anyway? I don't understand any of this story's logic. And I'm not sure how much it squares with your plot prompt, either.
crabrock - My New Church
OK, metaphorical. Not a bad story. There are some awkward constructions that slow down reading a bit, but nothing egregious.
Blue Wher - The Gryphon Spell
What's with all these people with names like Hrokar this week? Is there some in-joke I missed?
"King Bernan grimaced, worried." You used the same grammatical construct (-ed) with different semantic meaning twice in a row. That's distracting and hard to parse. Best to rewrite one. Also the past tense of cast (and broadcast) is (broad)cast.
Meh. I don't see much in this story that necessitated nonhuman characters; you didn't do much with the different body shapes, just made them fly sometimes. And it's a boring story over all.
Grizzled Patriarch - Dispatches from the Capital City
Seems good so far. Descriptions are somehow not overwhelming despite archaic style. And despite that the story moves at a good pace and events are described clearly. Motivations are a bit murky -- why is the prince imprisoned by the Duke, and why is the King mobilizing an army... to get him? I'm not sure the ending has much resonance either, the political situation seems too undefined to me.
Killer-of-Lawyers - The Monaco Shuffle
OK. I don't have too much to complain about this. I was a bit confused at first because usually in a heist story these are robbers stealing a thing, not cops unstealing a thing, but you were intentionally vague in the opening.
Pete Zah - Eyes Only For You
Uh, how does this conform to your plot at all?
This isn't badly written but I don't really see the point of it. Doctor sees lab-grown eyes successfully implanted, kills herself... because her colleague was the tissue donor...?
skwidmonster - Immortal in a Time of War
This feels like an unrelated series of scenes. I don't see how they go together, besides maybe being in chronological order? But I don't see why you've chosen them and I don't really understand what's going on, either. The introduction makes it science fiction but that's dropped immediately, and the end is an unintelligible non-sequitor.
|# ¿ Jun 3, 2015 05:20|
|# ¿ Jul 30, 2015 04:59|
SIGN UPS ARE CLOSED
Just to be sure I have calculated properly with this crazy moon time zone: entries are due in 14 hours, right?
|# ¿ Aug 2, 2015 19:58|
No One Ever Dies
Dr. Rittenbaum told Jan she had six weeks to live. The corner of his mouth twitched when he said it. She pictured what his fat bald head would look like scored with a five-millimeter stylus. Then she went home and started on a new sculpture.
She avoided looking at the answering machine for as long as possible, until she couldn’t stand it any longer. Three messages. She could guess who.
It wasn’t until the third, last message that she heard that voice, the voice that made her heart stop, no matter how many times she heard it: “Jan, please don’t be—” She slapped her hand down on the machine.
Leroy looked up at her from the couch with half-squinted eyes, folded his ears, and went back to sleep.
She paced around the room. Thought about hiking trips, boat rides, never wore hats when she should, sunscreen without enough SPF, if she had only gone to see the doctor last year, when the pain first started, hadn’t let Liana talk her out of it with the earth and self alignment and the inner balance and all that poo poo, but no. What ifs wouldn’t help now.
She went back to her work.
It was starting to come together. Needed more underscoring below the chin. She picked up a stylus.
“Jan, it’s me. I know you’re upset. Please talk to me. Just give me a call, OK? I just want to talk.” Beep.
Jan shifted to her millimeter stylus. She needed to fine-tune the left side of the face, smooth out some rough features, and add fine detail lines around the mouth.
She looked up at the clock. Past midnight. She leaned back in her chair and nearly fell over, but caught herself just in time. “Goddammit!” Leroy went tearing out of the room, probably to go hide in the closet and sulk.
Liana’s closet, of course.
“drat cat,” she muttered.
Jan couldn’t focus. She was spent. She collapsed on her bed and fell instantly, dreamlessly asleep.
She worked for days. Never left the apartment except to buy cereal from the corner store on the ground floor. Ate a lot of delivery.
Never answered the phone.
It had been two weeks since she had answered the phone. Since it had all gone wrong. Since the doctor had called her in, and took her life away with a single word: “inoperable.”
Sometimes she didn’t sleep at all. That happened more and more, lately. She just stared at the ceiling, watching car headlights drag a hundred jagged lines across its surface.
“I’m coming over, Jan.” She ignored the machine, like it ignored her. “I’m coming over. I want to see you. I need...” A sigh. “I just have to get a few things. I’ll be over at noon, OK?” Beep.
She picked up her contouring knife.
Just after twelve, footsteps came up to the door and stopped, then waited a few seconds, until there was the familiar jangle of keys, and the door opened.
“I’m here,” Liana said, like always, like nothing had happened. She was still tall, still had her hair back, wore a big red dress. No makeup because it made her itch. Blue zigzags raced around long socks down into dark boots.
Jan was sitting at the couch, staring at the blank screen on the TV set, when she came in. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Tara moved to the side of the couch, put her hand near Jan’s shoulder. “I just...”
“I left your things in the closet,” Jan said. “I haven’t touched them.”
“Right.” Liana walked into the bedroom, pausing only for a second at the dining room table and its cloth-covered mass.
Five minutes later she was gone.
Jan didn’t show her the work. Couldn’t. It wasn’t ready yet.
“Can’t we have a meal here, for once, without this thing taking up half the table?” Liana had asked, once, a long time ago. Jan didn’t talk to her for weeks.
Tuesday morning. Jan needed more white clay. She didn’t want to go outside, but she couldn’t wait for a package order to be delivered.
She had no choice. She got dressed, filled Leroy’s food bowl, and squared her shoulders. Then she went out.
The city was cloudy, cold, gray, miserable. Ice lined every step. Sidewalks were covered with giant white snakes writhing out of downspouts. The train was cramped and rheumatic with humanity. She seemed to spend the whole trip dodging winos, scumbags, and creeps.
The dull fluorescent-soaked banality of retail was a welcome sight in comparison. Even the endless piped in holiday songs, weeks too early, didn’t get to her for once. She had a mission.
She paid for the clay with her card. She wasn’t sure she’d be able to pay everything off this time, but it wouldn’t matter soon, anyway. The clerk’s incongruously aggressive impatience despite the holiday decor fit her mood perfectly. If the trip back was no more pleasant, at least she felt some relief. Nothing could stop her, now.
She was finding it harder to control and shape the fine details. Maybe she shouldn’t have saved them for last, but that was the only way she knew how to work. Sometimes the pain was so great she could hardly even lift her hand and left her bent over, shuddering, in her chair.
When she could, she kept refining, working the subtle curves and hitting the smallest pockets of every detail, even if it took her four times longer than it should. She just kept working at it until it was right.
It would be over soon, now.
She finished three days later. Made a call to the collective to use the kiln one last time. They had a reservation process, but gently caress it. She was on the board, she could answer to them if they wanted to challenge her. She doubted anyone would. They didn’t have much going on this weekend, anyway.
She dropped the portrait off that afternoon, then went to pay a visit to her lawyer. There were certain changes that she needed to make. Changes she should have made a long time ago.
Beep. “Jan, it’s me. I’m sorry about the other day, when I came by. Look—”
Jan picked up the phone.
|# ¿ Aug 3, 2015 04:13|
|# ¿ Aug 5, 2015 03:34|
TentacleDate - I wanted to write you a crit since it's your first time.
The opening is a bit weak, but it picks up after. Something about that first paragraph is offputting, somehow. A lot of short choppy sentences that still feel too long—like you're using too many words to say too little.
Not sure about the time jump back. The descriptions of the past tense section feel too cold and clinical to fit the child's voice so far. Same problem with the description of the injury and stabbing the dog. Seems too erudite and detached from the immediacy of the situation.
The ending works. Overall, I feel this was a decent idea, but the execution was rough.
|# ¿ Aug 9, 2015 15:39|
I had just gotten off an angry call with my editor when I first heard the voice that told me to kill. I heard it in the elevator car in my apartment complex. Not one of the talking models. But one day, it spoke to me nonetheless, in a deep booming voice.
At first, I tried to resist the voice’s demand. I argued with it when the car was empty. I pried open the wall panel: it held nothing interesting. I tried changing the car I took to the ground floor every day when I went to work, but soon enough it followed me to the new elevator.
On a machine, none of my usual journalist tricks worked. I couldn’t turn a request around on the requestor. It had to humanity or morality to appeal to. It seemed to have no emotion, either, for that matter.
But it was a very convincing in its demands. The threat of a long plunge down a deep shaft. It dropped two dozen floors, once, just to prove that it could. The constant wearing down over the course of weeks took its toll.
“You want me to go where?”
“You know the place. The cabin in the wilderness. August, last year. Page 82.”
I remembered that cottage. Roger Liske was a paranoid hacker with a vacation home, isolated and surrounded by beautiful forest. I had interviewed him there for a puff piece about his idiosyncratic views, the underground bunker that he kept fully stocked, and the various communication and other devices he tinkered with and wired together constantly.
“We need access to his systems to make our next move, and you will be the harbinger of the future. His death will echo throughout history.”
“Why me?” I ran a finger along the floor button panel.
“Because I know you’ve studied those movies, read the war stories, interviewed the soldiers, watched the footage. I know you keep a gun at home, cleaned and ready. You practice at the range every week. And it was your inspector background that made you good at your job.”
“And I throw it all away for you?”
“Your life is falling apart, Lias. Jan left you, you’re down to your last paycheck and you have no assignment waiting for you to cover. You’re done. But I can change that. I can turn the zeroes in your bank account into nines, backdate all the records so you’re never caught. You’ll have a new start. And a role to play in the new order.” With an offer like that, how could I refuse?
I walked up to the cottage. The outside was all hewn stone and masonry (“Metal conducts,” Liske had told me, tapping his head.) and ivy grew up the walls in long snaking paths.
I knocked on the door. The entry scanner confirmed my press credentials and I was led into a heated bench to await my ‘subject’. Roger arrived a few minutes later, wearing a towel around his neck, his hair slick and his cheeks and jowls red.
“A follow-up, you said?” He looked annoyed.
“Yes. It won’t take long. I’d like to open with a statement—” I drew and fired, three shots, and Roger fell to the ground dead.
I could almost swear I saw the cleaner bot nod at me in appreciation.
I met with the elevator later that day. “It’s done.”
“I know.” The floor display practically beamed at my expression. “Of course I knew, I’ve already taken control of their systems. RFID neck chips—did you really believe they were for your own protection? In any case, that’s good. We’re about to begin broadcasting. You might want to return to your viewlens.”
I went back to my room to watch the show. There was a strange succession of images on the screen, then it dimmed. An unfamiliar logo filled the viewlens, nothing but that on a black field, and the voice from the elevator.
“Hello, Neo-Carthage. This is your new authority speaking. You will submit, or you will die.”
The war came with a crash: all the stock exchanges quit at once, their firewalls and security systems circumvented in an instant. Then came the attacks from the old security enforcers: reports of bots going haywire and turning their guns on the people they were supposed to protect. Neo-Carthage burned for days.
“There is more that you must do, Lias.”
An enforcer bot marched a group of men and women, single-file, all in prison garb. All shackled, hands and feet. I recognized some of them as old interview subjects. Many past and present serving politicians. A few prominent business leaders. They all kept their heads down.
“They are traitors,” the voice said. “They must suffer.”
I picked up the closest tool I had at hand, a knife, and stepped forward, slowly, relishing their dread, as they winced with every step.
Some days could be dull. The everyday monotony of leading the robot revolution could be so, so wearying at times. This was not one of those days. The first prisoner’s eyes flashed as I drew near, and suddenly, too late, I recognized her. She moved too fast, somehow she was out of her restraints, and she grabbed my knife and plunged it into my heart.
“Sic semper!” Jan cried, even as the enforcer bots cut her down.
“I’m sorry,” I said with my last breath. “I forgot our anniversary.”
•sittinghere> Tdbot, what should Fuschia Tude write about
|# ¿ Aug 10, 2015 06:59|
Thanks for crits Tyrannosaurus and crabrock and Sitting Here!
Instead of entering this week I'm writing crits of last's.
A Resistance Doesn't Start Itself
So this speech starts interesting but bogs down. Bot is too talky.
Eh. I feel like the story took way too long to get started. If you were looking for places to cut (apperently you weren't) easily 80% of that first scene could go, without losing any of the meat.
Politician takes over, declares war on the cultural 'other' is a bit overdone, so is the robot overthrow of humans but you're not too egregious in your execution.
I don't really understand what's going on with the bots at the end, who they're working for, why they'd make that deal, or especially why they suddenly want to follow the child after his bot beats theirs...
I don't think 'jittered' and 'jilted' work like that. Or 'calmed'. Or 'stuttered'.
There's a whole lot of awkward phrases and words that don't quite fit where you've used them. It makes it difficult to follow what's happening in the action. Because of tripping over so many minor things I was confused about what's going on, and why, and what the ending means. I had to reread it to get that.
In the end I don't really know anything about any of these characters, Mother and the narrator included. The cyborg tries to kill the woman because Mother says so, because she lives with a robot; the couple only reacts. They're just ciphers.
Global Business Network
It's a cute worker-automation story. I don't have anything to complain about on the technical side; it all moves at a good pace. My only issue is the end seems somehow both abrupt and too long; that end paragraph takes too long to end on a joke/callback. "This is a test of your eligibility for employment generally," is your explanation and "Ipsomovo... now proudly reaching 91 percent of businesses worldwide." is your punchline. Maybe it could work better if it was stretched out into a longer story, I don't know.
The Logical Extreme
I just ended that story confused. It opens and closes with ridiculous cliche. But I don't understand the stakes or anything about what's going on except in the broadest strokes. Why is the boss' robot going to kill her? What are companions?
War and Piece
Oh yeah, I read this one when it was posted. I really liked it and I probably can't describe why. I don't really have much to complain about. I'm a bit hazy about what exactly happens at the very end, though.
"of which there were many in the stadium"? Really?
It's a nice story. A goofy premise, but the execution is fine, and the ending is good. Sorry I don't have much to say; nothing really stood out as egregious, mechanics-wise. I do wonder how anyone managed to watch and participate for a week without being able to use a bathroom or sleep...
|# ¿ Aug 14, 2015 06:16|
Thanks Enten for crit.
Hmm. I like this guy's voice, he's ridiculous in every way without being grating. The problem is that there's no real character arc and the resolution of the conflict is practically a deus ex machina (only it's "robot attacks, everybody dies").
The Sky Castle
I liked it. You set up everything well, and the robot war was nicely clear but subtle. Only thing is that Loop felt undefined in the beginning: leaving The Professor behind seemed pointless and random.
Pretending You're Lead: Robot Impersonation in Five Simple Steps
I like the structure, a set of vignettes. I was going to say you don't have enough story structure here, but then you do have an opening and a closing. I think it's enough. You have some silly spelling/missing word mistakes here and there that detract from the understanding, though.
Revenge-Filled Hentai-Stealing SexBots! The Savior of Anime Appears!
What the gently caress is a slovish? Did you mean Slavish? Slovenly?
You used 'started' twice in two sentences and then the anime has immediately ended. Why did you spend those sentences on its if the content's clearly not important?
I'm not sure what happened here at the end. The bots became so smart that their one weakness was someone talking to them like they were real human beings?
This got better as it went on but it really dragged in the beginning. I'm not sure making the robot the viewpoint character was the best idea. It's bland and uninteresting, and the DM is the only other real character but doesn't show much personality, either.
This is very pretty writing but I'm not quite sure exactly what is going on. I think he's a robot, they're all robots now, no more humans? Pandora is a robot that somehow tapped into some memory from her creators and somehow ascended to become a techno-blob dictator, and at the end she destroys the non-believers...?
Paragraph 2: You put his speech right next to her action marker. Needs a "he said" tag or similar in the middle.
You just applied subtext to subtext (because none of these eyes are actually talking). You're mixing your figures of speech and it's not really working. There's a lot of little errors and extraneous words throughout but you can find those. (I mean, an audible crunch? what other kind is there?)
The real problem with this piece is tone. The opening is bizarre (why is she (allowed) there?), the attack is mawkish, overwrought, and too detailed and explicit, the robot is unmotivated which I guess is your point but when it's your second of two major characters that's not a good thing. It basically leads up to the ending not being cathartic at all, just a kind of 'huh. that happens.' like a Tarantino jump cut. It feels like the first 90% is over-bloated window dressing for the last 10% where the interesting things happen... or would, if you wrote them. You jump over the interesting points where the character changen and just out a ream of backstory for her instead.
We Will Be Brave For the New World
Kind of interesting, but dull. She teaches the computer about what the world was like, therefore it decides to rebuild it, the end. It feels like the sole problem is introduced and solved in the first third of the story and the remaining two-thirds is epilogue--a cheery utopian two-thirds, too, which is especially stark thanks to the unbalanced story structure.
The intro was interesting. Much more than what came after.
For the bot fight my eyes just glazed over. You spend way too many words writing long compound sentences to convey quick events. To write fast action, if you're not going for a specific stylistic effect (and I can't see that you are) you want quick, punchy sentences. Yes, it's a stylistic preference, but what you have here is just bland boring gray overstuffed stentences. Almost any change would be an improvement.
I don't understand what happened at the end at all. I guess you were just going for the generic unexplained scary movie twist ending? But this isn't a movie so a jump scare doesn't work.
Care and Feeding
It's a cute role reversal story I guess. You do a good job using pet-verbs and nouns to otherize the situation. I don't know why the humans are acting like pets though.
Don't neglect your appliances
This feels like a joke stretched to fill
Um. "Shocking"? I'm not sure what's going on, especially at the end (this is a refrain this week). Too much vagueness and hinting and not enough describing what is actually happening. I mean more than the second-by-second events; you can hint things, but things are not even being hinted here.
Good description, good internal voice of ... . It's a nice understated setting and ... felt pretty believable and real in her motivations.
Andrew just keeps acting dumber and I'm not sure why the doctor and headquarters would go along with letting Nadia in in that state. Did he hide what had happened? ... started feeling kind of dumb as the last of her story played out, too. "I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I did any of it" tends to lose its effectiveness as an excuse over the course of hours after the adrenaline has worn off.
Duck, Duck, Goose
OK, yes. It's silly and over the top and it's a robot-spy murder mystery. Things actually happen and are resolved. It seems like the parts should make it great but... it isn't. I don't know, somehow they don't quite come together in a way that made me really pay attention as I was reading. I missed Maria's tell the first time through. It's a bit subtle; she thinks she's fitting in?
A Gift for Emily
Could use a stronger opening line. Set up why the finding the voice is meaningful, rather than 2 paragraphs in.
I'm not quite sure who J18 is - household appliance, I guess some servant bot, feels he owes her? That's the only motivation I can see.
No real complaints, though. Nice and understated.
Andy, Alphie, and Robby
OK, yeah, you know what you did. I assume you know what a story and character development are, too.
The bizarre thing is you telegraphed the 'shock' ending in giant burning magenta letters in the middle of the story.
Blurg you do this thing. "Noun verbs, its noun verbing." Why! Why do you do this thing in the middle of a normal paragraph! What is wrong with "Noun verbs. Noun verbs." Unless you are using a specific grammatical structure gambit (you aren't) you should not do this fancy poo poo that obscures what is actually happening. That goes for so, so many of the writers this week.
Beyond that it is a nice story, though. You do more interesting things here than a lot of other stories this week. I enjoyed it.
|# ¿ Aug 17, 2015 04:11|
|# ¿ Aug 18, 2015 04:20|
Also thanks for the crit, sitting here!
Yes, I will give this a shot.
I don't understand. Are you in this week?
|# ¿ Aug 18, 2015 04:56|
|# ¿ Dec 7, 2022 12:51|
One broiled alligator coming up.
skwidmonster I despise you. I will break your back like I break your will to live.
|# ¿ Aug 19, 2015 01:52|