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hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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I would like to stop being bitch made and write, I'm in. Please assign me a song.

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hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Saccharine and Gasoline
1372 Words
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Victoria moved her gaze from the flowers outside the window to her husband, his head in his hands. She was the very image of Irish beauty, long red hair tied into a bun, looking divine even in her scrubs, as she prepared to leave for work. He was wearing his flame retardant gear already, his stout figure looking inflated by the thick attire. “No one would blame you if you took this year off – you lost your entire family in a single night only three weeks ago.”

Julien shook his head and furrowed his brow, “I appreciate the concern, but…” He was upset, the bruise in his mind, which was dealing with the failure that fell on the lap of the rocket engineers and launch commanders working for MilkyWays Colonial Corporation, still hurt when it was prodded. His mind had been on the race all morning, and he appreciated the escape from thinking about that horrific loss. “I’ll be fine; I need to do this. For them. This could be the year I win.”

Julien’s hands dropped and a smile played on his face, the first Victoria had seen in the last few weeks. His full beard was trimmed and combed perfectly for the event; it would be a shame to go out looking like three weeks of beer and washroom sink baths.
“I can win this year because of them. They all knew how important this was to me, and they will be cheering me on from beyond as they did in life.”

“It could also be your last year in the race, and on Earth! I’ve seen the kind of accidents that happen during that race. It’s horrible. Dr. Tellier has to prepare every year for all the people injured in the race, I couldn’t stand losing you.” Victoria set her coffee down on the counter, and walked across the room, placing one hand on his shoulder.

“It’s not a blood sport; it’s just that so many bad drivers enter every year ever since it was opened to the public. Besides, it’s already been decided, I’m going to race again this year – and this time I will win!” Julien relaxed at her touch, and turned in his chair, starting to get up.
“Okay, okay. But please be careful!” She shook her head and walked to the entryway, scooping up her keys in one hand and her clutch in the other.

“I will, I will be safer than any other year – I’ll remind you I haven’t had one accident in seven years!” He gave his wife a kiss on her forehead and gazed into her eyes for a precious second, before stepping out into the bright daylight. She left after him, and locked the door behind her.

*****

In what seemed like an instant, Julien was lost in his thoughts with a steering wheel in his hands. The sun peeked over the concrete and reflected off of his sun glasses. It poured onto the asphalt and two unending green fields, creating the kind of heat which proclaims that summer has finally arrived. The fields themselves were dotted with outrageously yellow flowers on impossibly thin stems, standing as the only non-broadcast audience to the race during this leg, running smoothly through the outskirts of France.

The interior of the sports car, however, was host to an audience of sorts, in the smiling countenance of Victoria. “You’re a fantastic driver,” came her voice, crystal clear and soothing, through the speakers, “Julien; you’re going to win! I can see you on TV, they’ve got you in second place!”

The only response he gave was a nod, snapping back into the reality of the race. “I’m going to win this for them.”

“Honey, I’m going to let you go. I will see you tonight after you win!” She closed her laptop and left the Hospital break room.

Julien hit the flashing call end button and shifted into a higher gear as the light vehicle finished ascending the hill. Moments passed, and an impossible number of miles of flowering fields did as well without interruption. It was an internal eternity, before a turn finally rushed towards the vehicle.

The green fields had been supplanted by a lake to the east and a thick forest, lush with vegetation from the spring rains, to the west. The dull, “thwop thwop thwop,” of the helicopter blades above the racers could be heard reflecting off the thick trees that guarded the forest’s innermost sanctuary, as they headed north.

Julien’s mind returned to the road and the sight of a car only a few breaths ahead of him, and stole a glance at two more right behind him, competing for the honor of third place. They threatened to overtake him if he remained complacent much longer.
“It’s now or never,” Julien said to his invisible passenger, his eyes glancing at a race marker on the side of the road. Only a few kilometers remained.

He let his foot become lead – he hoped to overtake the first place car at this very moment. His entered a trance like state, forgetting for a moment that he had lost five brothers in an instant, focusing all his attention and energy on the car ahead of him.
The first place car was operated by a woman named Lindsey Bonheur, who had had quite a run for the past few years, finishing the yearly event in first. She saw Julien’s cream vehicle approaching on her right, and smiled inwardly. This was her moment to seal another race. If she could wipe out a driver who had over extended, the remainder of the race would be won – the chaos behind would do the work for her.

She began to slow down, ever so slightly, to let him catch up to her – to lead him into the trap. The insignificant slowdown seemed like preparations for the curve in the road, only a few miles ahead, and would’ve been a reasonable reaction by any driver.
But Julien could have been fooled by the deceleration, even if it weren’t for the turn that was approaching them. He swerved around her to the right, was starting to peak the car ahead of her. The metal of the barrier between road and lake threatened to attack his car, so tight was the maneuver. It was at this moment that Lindsey accelerated, and swerved into Julien’s left flank.

Julien was pinned between the other racer’s car and the barrier of the road, and the danger of his strategy became apparent to him. He began to sweat – to realize he may have over reached. His voice was surprisingly high when he spat out, “Are you trying to win or kill me!”
His eyes made contact with hers for a fateful second and he pushed back, turning the wheel to the left, hoping that although his car was a lighter weight that there was enough inertia to turn the tables on Lindsey’s dangerous strategy. The sun became clouded for a second, and the world dimmed as the shoving match played out. Millions of people watched, breathlessly.

No one sigh of relief was louder than the one that escaped Julien’s lungs when Lindsey’s vehicle was forced to relent, to break or face the consequences of being shoved and losing control – possibly right into the dirt shoulder.

“Finally!” He choked, eyes staring into his rearview mirror, ensuring that this was indeed the current reality of the race.

A three way tie was behind him, and he had reached First. The mountainous section of the race had begun, and there would be no opportunities for them to break into his position any longer.

On the podium, he stood looking as surprised as he was fearful only an hour earlier. Once the cameras had turned away, Julien realized that he achieved something fantastic. And then, at last, the agony escaped him. He hunched over, and sat down, defeated by sadness because he had nothing left to distract him. It dawned on him that he had lost the five people he had endeavored to win this for – that they would never see him with this trophy in hand, and the agony was divine.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Broenheim posted:

Also, hubris.height as the resident newbie you also get a super special line crit (that will be up in a couple of days because I have finals)!!!!!!!!!!!

I really appreciate it. Good luck with finals, I've got my fair share this week with finals, work, and school, too.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro



Many thanks for the crits on my story, it was probably more than a little bit beneath all of you. I appreciate that you took the time to give very insightful critiques that I can use in the future.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Broenheim posted:

hubris.height super sorry I couldn't get this to you sooner, i promised I'd do it a week ago, and then promised again that I'd have to you yesterday but then life got in the way so yeah, sorry

https://docs.google.com/document/d/...dit?usp=sharing

anyways if any of you chuckle-fucks want crits from last week, I'll give 'em to you if pm me or talk to me in irc. i'm only doing ones for people who ask though because im very lazy

you should definitely not worry about it, i appreciate you taking any time at all to read that super boring thing i wrote.

thanks and let me know if i can ever scratch your back

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

This week in the Thunderdome:

Nubile Hillock posted:

HOW TO RECEIVE CRITIQUES, A THUNDERDOME GUIDE:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBqTng4c2iU#t=135s

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Entenzahn posted:

hubris.height – Saccharine and Gasoline
This wasn’t irredeemably bad, just full of beginner mistakes.

...

My suggestion is to read more, and write more. But apparently you decided to end your TD career on this stunning debut piece, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Thank you for your crit. You hit the nail on the head so hard that it has shaken me to the core. I hope I haven't given the impression of having "given up" on Thunderdome! I was busy with finals and registering for classes for next semester the last couple weeks, as well as work. Honestly, I also didn't think I could write up stories that fit the last few prompts.

I love the Thunderdome, and have been mostly lurking, and definitely intend to continue competing in it.

Thanks again!

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

You know what, gently caress it, I'm in. Please give me a flash rule.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Djeser posted:

A hero with a tragic flaw, fated to lose this wager, but fighting to overcome that fate.

The Rascal Mayor
1553 words
“I don’t like the odds, Frank,” He looked up from the flimsy paper and at the other man, standing with a paper of his own in his hand, “Horse races sound are some risky business. You’ve been getting into a lot of risky business lately.”

“Look trust me, and we both get rich,” came his hushed reply, from behind darting eyes.

“I really don’t have any reason to trust you on this. It’s gambling.” He looked down at Frank with disbelief in his eyes.

Frank looked insulted for a moment, and then shook his head and held open his hand, “Just trust me on this, Clarence. I can feel it. Why the hell else did you come out here?”

Clarence shook his head, and reached into his wallet, produced everything he had – about $300 – and looked at Frank, “You better not screw this up,” he insisted, the bills still clutched in his hand even while he placed them in his friends.

Frank merely winked, grasped the money, and ran to the window, placing a bet for them both. The teller looked at him in disbelief, took the money, and handed him the tickets. “Here you go, sir, good luck – you’ll need it.”

“Thanks.” Frank turned and left, grabbed Clarence, with a sparkle of excitement and anticipation in his eyes, and they made a beeline for seats.

The race started shortly after, and both men watched as the unthinkable happened – the two horses in front fell over halfway through the race. The resulting chaos took out the next few horses, and the 7th place jockey ran out in front, took the lead and won the race. Frank looked at Clarence, smirked in his fashion, and they both left that day richer than before.

*****

“You know why I’m here, Mayor,” came the words of a stocky middle-aged bookie -- a stereotype of himself, down to the suspenders he’d borrowed from his Grandfather; the proto-bookie, no doubt.

Frank looked up from the paper on his desk, the distance in his eyes made him seem awoken from a dream, “Yeah, seemed like a sure bet.”

The mayor, himself a stocky fellow with what can best be described as a noble effort at a comb-over, said in exasperation, “Would that I could, I’d do it again.”

“It was a risky bet, and that is why you’re one of my favorite customers.”

The mayor rose from his chair and snatched a thick manila envelope from the desk from underneath a stack of papers, and slowly walked over to the other man and held it out in front of him, as if it contained severed fingers. “Everyone is wrong once in a while, can’t let it hold you back.”

The bookie simply smiled for a moment at the Mayor, but didn’t move. He just watched the mayor, his eyes watching the Mayor’s face, for the moment they both realized would come next.

“Alright, yeah. Give me the odds,” The Mayor’s burden was taken from his hands as he said this, and he turned around, headed back to his desk, “Or, better yet, just put me down for 50 grand on… Johnsmith.”

“Johnsmith? Yeah, perfect,” the bookie concealed a smile by looking down to jot down the new bet in his ledger. “Anything else?”

The mayor waved a dismissal, and sat back down behind his mahogany desk, rubbing his temples. His bookie saw himself out immediately and shut the door behind him, the whole way his free hand became lodged into his pocket, as if digging for something.

The mayor opened a drawer, pulled out a picture – a picture of him in better times, with a head of hair, with a young daughter and a smiling wife.

A sigh escaped the Mayor’s mouth, and he looked around the empty office. He set the picture down and his hand grasped the desk telephone, and he began slowly dialing. There were two short rings on the other end before the sound of a phone being fumbled across a desk filled the Mayor’s ear.

“Hello?” The voice was startled and seemed more than a little exhausted.

“You need to take a dive,” came the answer, with more than a little tone of pleading within it, “Tonight, when you fight Johnsmith.”

“Uh… What is this a shakedown? Who the hell is this?”

“It’s Frank. You need to take a dive.” The mayor reiterated, not without a tone of exhaustion.

“You’re kidding right? The mob’ll have my head.” The voice in the phone shook imperceptibly, barely a note, at the word ‘mob’.

“I’ll have your head if you don’t take the god-damned dive. How many years have I protected your dog fighting business? You know how hard it is to keep the Sherriff to go on ignoring that kind of obvious infraction during an election year?” The mayor whispered intensely, and his hands started pointing through the air at the ghosts of deals past.

“Look, that isn’t really your problem, is it? You predicted a horse race, and you think that means you can call in a favor every year? You should’ve stopped gambling there.” The voice over the phone sounded like a head being shaken and mostly piteous.

“Besides, I made a deal with the mob years ago; they’ve got my shady dealings controlled in good faith. I’m pretty sure the Sherriff is under their control too,” The voice in the receiver had gained confidence upon reflecting on this fact, “I needn’t remind you that I covered for you during your first election, too. Was there anything else, Mayor?”

“Look, we’ve known each other for years now, Clarence. Right? I need you to do this for me. I’m not built to keep doing this political poo poo, I want out. This is my chance. My family’s chance. I can start my business with this kind of capital.”

A moment of silence passed on the other end of the phone, and finally the receiver sighed at last, “Look, I’d love to help you. But, you made your bed years ago. Now you gotta sleep in it. I don’t think you’re going to make the transition from Mayor to Entrepreneur, anyway.”

“Fine, if you’re going to do me like that, I guess you’re going to do me like that. I’ll see you around then.” The mayor hung the phone up, gingerly, and stood up.

The day’s light was starting to fade as he left his office, and locked the door behind him. He looked around and confirmed that his secretary and staff had left for the day, all the lights off in the offices except for the dim lights that would lead him outside. He reached into his pocket and looked at his cellphone for a moment, before flipping it open. “Gotta do it the hard way I guess.”

*****

Frank glanced at his watch as he got out of his car, did the math on how long before the match started. It wasn’t but an hour, and as he entered his home and grabbed his mail from the entranceway table, he found his mind troubled. “I’m sure this will work out for me,” he whispered, his confidence failing as the sentence resolved.

His eyes scanned over the envelopes, and a sigh escaped his lips when he saw an envelop from his daughters school. "Bad news or another bill... It can be both."

Moments later he was absorbed into the TV, the match having just started. Every punch sent a reaction into Frank, a twist or turn that he felt as an impact. The first round ended with no clear winner, and the Mayor looking exasperated.

He looked at his watch, and found it had only been a couple of hours since his second phone call, and returned his attention to the TV, the third round starting. Just in time to witness Clarence delivering a punch to Johnsmith that sent him reeling. The younger fighter backed into the corner, and shook it off eventually, and went back in swinging. A moment later, Clarence delivered another punch, with some concentrated effort, for he was looking very much fatigued, as if he had spent the last half hour running nonstop. A little color had drained from his face, and he looked sick. But the hit connected, and Johnsmith fell down like a sack of bricks.

“What the…”

The mayor couldn’t make sense of it – it was a good hook, but it wasn’t the kind that knocks a man out cold, he thought. Then it caught his eye – there was blood coming from Johnsmith’s inner ear, the shaking intensified, and paramedics were rushing to the ring. The match was over – the money was lost. Just as the paramedics picked up Johnsmith, Clarence hit the ground, vomit spattering the ring.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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Hocus Pocus posted:

hubris.height
The Rascal Mayor

you're a saint, thanks for taking the time to read it. thanks again for having some great crits.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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For the Summer Blockbusters, I will write crits for 3 randomly selected stories. I plan to pick them from what is posted by Sunday at 3pm CST.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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this is the best thing every time i'm reminded of it

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Thank you for the crits! I really appreciate that you took the time to do that.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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missed the thunderdome podcast question, but feel free to crit any of my works

i really don't think they're bad enough to be entertaining but thats for you to decide

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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crabrock posted:

6 minute wait for next train at dtx?

Ain't no thing with keytar bear at your side.


this story writes itself

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Thanks for the crit! I'll follow up on that "homework".

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Parents Sacrifice
299 Words

Joe took a hit, just as the bell rang, and crawled back to his corner. His cornerman was shouting, but Joe was imaging another place. In his mind, Joe handed the waitress an untouched menu. Across from him, his son was relaying a semester’s stories.

“I have you around till August, right?” Joe asked.

“Yeah! With your help, right?”

“Of course, sport. Are you going to visit friends while you’re here?”

Summer plans were recited. Joe’s eyes moved across the customers, and found his target. He turned his attention back to his son. “Want to take the car? Go ahead,” Joe fished the keys out, “I need the exercise.”

Joe visited the other table after sending his son off with a hug. Except for a flip phone and half an order of sunny side up, it was bare. “Anything for me, Dave?”

“What’s that I hear? The waves washing up?” Dave smiled slyly as he folded his paper, “I’m here, aren’t I? I’ve got an event you can get in on, but I dunno about this. It’s gonna cost you, Joey. Ain’t talkin’ about money. Been a minute since you was prize fighting.”

“Hows the prize? You got my bet on me?” Joe reflected on the remainder of brighter days he was betting with.

“Yeah.” The vibrating of the phone on the table was a loud ring, and Joe found himself back in the ring, bright lights shining down on him.

Joe stood, his eyes again in the glare and took up a defensive stance for an incoming blow. Joe blocked it, but heard a sickening snap. Joe reacted instantly, swinging with his other arm. His opponent, distracted by the audible snap, didn’t react to block the hit. It connected, the bell rung, and Joe smiled through the pain.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Cache Cab posted:

I wish to be in this week, if that's ok with the thunderdome illuminati. I don't know why I bother, since they will just call me names anyway. Oh well.

I think that most people will just call you stupid for wanting to write a story in less than 24 hours.

docbeard posted:

A reminder that signups will close when I wake up tomorrow morning.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Sitting Here posted:

Signups are a different thing than submissions. Mr. Cab actually has all weekend to perfect his peerless prose.


It's me, I'm the idiot. Sorry Mr. Cab!

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

SadisTech posted:

Orbituary
1499 words

First of the three crits I promised.

First, by Office’s count there are 1614 words – you should change whatever application you’re using to count them. I’m not going to run through the story and highlight parts that could have been removed. I think that you could probably do that pretty easily.
Things I liked:

-The action
It was easy to follow and interesting, I genuinely enjoyed the ride through space conflicts, and the planetary ones are done in a very good way

-Interactions between Characters
Venna and Dace did not seem stilted, I liked the dynamic between them. They seem to know each other from years of experience. Sounds like there is a kind of mutual interest that is hinted at between them.

Things I disliked:

-The ending
I’m not sure what kind of ship Dace was in. At first I thought it was an escape pod, which I think might have worked better for your story, but then he explains it’s a remnant of the ship, and he’s lost his helmet and has been patching it up. Additionally, there’s no atmosphere generation remaining, so he’s been out there a while. The question is, then, why is he able to open the door, with atmosphere being low already, without instantly being turned inside out?
Its kind of a happy convenience that Venna was able to find a way to survive for what sounds like a number of weeks in her suit that was built, ostensibly, for repairing the exterior of the hull. Unless, of course, the ending was a hallucination, which should probably have been made more clear, somehow.

-I hate the names of everything
I’m sorry, and its not your fault, it doesn’t rip me from the story, but the names for things and people are so Pop Sci-Fi it hurts.

-The Plot could have been told in a more linear fashion
It wouldn’t have detracted anything from the story to have put the part where he is floating and waiting for rescue all at the end, I think. Its not that the parts where he is thinking have any bearing on the flashbacks we are exposed to. I listed this under dislike, but I really am indifferent to it. I think that if a story can be told linearly without ruining anything its probably best to do so. Like, obviously Memento isn’t gonna be told linearly, it would ruin it, but the Fifth Element is, and that’s fine. It also makes the end sound more like it has something to do with the beginning when done that way. Overall, it feels like the whole plot was kind of silly too, because why was a guy with top secret information just hanging out at the dock, with a terminal that was hooked into the network to release ships?

On the whole I liked your story more than almost anything I've written, though, so I say good job!

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

s7indicate3 posted:

IT WAS A HOT DAY IN JUNE

1315 words

I wanted to like your story, because the idea of the President becoming deluded by the members of his staff and forcing a military coup is interesting at its face. Unfortunately, you become so bogged down in describing every loving moment of what its like to be a sniper that by the time Frank gets shot, I was hoping that Nathan would turn the pistol on me and then himself and end the loving thing.

The Good:

-A good plot idea
I liked it, if it had been better executed I would’ve liked to read more of it. I want to know about the journey that took them to that moment, and how Frank fit into it, and less about Frank inhaling and exhaling

-Characters sound like what they are
I’m not sure what else to say about generic military sniper I and II other than that they seemed like Snipers, and that’s what they needed to seem like. Not a lot of cursory details are given about them, except that one is experienced and the other isn’t, but it works in this story.

The Bad:

-The Character of Nathan turns into an idiot?
At the end of the story, Nathan is dropping all the lemons he is unable to hold because he runs into the Secret Service, who knew about this whole thing, I guess, and are totally cool with how it worked out.

-I inhale deeply, and focus my attention
-My attention is like a cool lagoon in the summer, moving listlessly against the shore
-While the lagoon of my attention laps up on the shore, I emit a low hum, the low hum is
-The low hum is the wind moving across the clear blue liquid of my attention
I think you know what I’m driving at. I hated this, it made me hate your entire story and I ended up just speed reading it to get through it by the point where things began to resolve themselves.

Keep it up though, because I think if you work at it you got chops, kid.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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theblunderbuss posted:

Honour Among Thieves, or Two Short Fights And Some Filler
1,488 words

OK, so I’ve finished reading this, and I’m not entirely sure how to put into words exactly what I feel is wrong with this story. The character of the narration and the charm of the way its written wears out its welcome at about 75% of the way in. I’m not sure how they are on an iceberg after the titanic sinks, I’m not sure why they’re having a conversation. I’m not sure why the Titanic is sinking and they don’t really have anything to say about it. Is it the actual Titanic, or is the character just trying to be cheeky? That’s part of the problem with the narration joking with the reader, it’s really hard to know what is real. The joke becomes what the setting is, without some kind of clear communication like looking at the name of the boat in the distance.

The Good:

-Charming Narration
I really liked how the main character was paling about with the reader, I think that there are a few genuinely good moments in the way the character thinks that are fun to read.

-Opening Action had me smiling
It was fun to read and it had a lot of fun stuff in it. It’s the highlight of the entire story.

The Bad:

-Ending
I’m not sure what your ending is. The main character doesn’t kill her, and he just chills on an ice berg with this lady and her two unconscious goons, presumably while the boat is sinking nearby?

-The middle
There isn’t really an explanation for how leaving behind a pearl necklace is setting them up, and I’m not sure why they had to just jump from the window, if they had some kind of entrance plan in the first place that wasn’t just walking in the front door? Even if they didn’t, presumably whoever set them up would have police crawling around all over the outside of the building too.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I have a sneaking suspicion that Cache Cab is not entirely sincere about his posting at this point

if they are not they have met with a surprising amount of success for being pretty low effort

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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Broenheim posted:

this but to everyone who responds to crits

please always thank your crit people or have a meltdown but never in between imho

i'm the new guy tho

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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these are good insults so far, and i am insulted and shamed at my inability to write a mean thing.

keep going, these are the best stories so far.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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Whoops, forgot which forum I was poo poo posting in. Apologies, I didn't mean to expose everyone to that kind of filth.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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Nope

It's Monday morning, and when I open the door and sit down, I count the minutes until I am hailed by the smell of warm farts when you say hello. You'll start by describing to me, in graphic detail, what is without a doubt, the least interesting story about camping since the movie Without a Paddle. I wish that you had seen stars before being put behind bars, Betty.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

kurona_bright posted:

That looks like Etrian Odyssey art. Is it Etrian Odyssey art? (nerd trap sprung )

It must be.

I'm in, really looking forward to avoiding writing fanfiction. I'll take a flash rule.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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Bad Seafood posted:

THIS WAS NOT THE PARTY YOU ASKED FOR, BUT IT'S THE ONE YOU'VE GOT. SORRY.



hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

A Sword Story
It's not the party you want, but it's the party you got.
1493 words

The sword knew why it did this to himself so many years ago. Mostly he it was a fear of death. Of course, he had done it under the guise of saving the kingdom. Unfortunately, the sword ran out of things to think about decades ago. It’s probably been hundreds of years since the last festival brought visitors to his cathedral turned tomb.

Today, however, visitors had returned to his tomb. No doubt to fulfill the prophecy. The torch light in the hall was visible, and the sword shouted, “In here! Come forth adventurers!”

The only response to this was the unified surprise of four voices. One was female, two male, and the fourth was merely the sound of a creaky floorboard amplified, though it seemed as more excited than surprised.

A short goblin lass looked over to Professor Phillip Britz (no relation to the Davisport Britz family), “What was that?”

“Hmm… Well, Muriel, I think that is what I hired you to bring me to.”

An ethereal form moved past them and into the chamber, making the sound of wind through bamboo.

“Yes! At long last you’ve arrived, great heroes!”

There was a moment of silence, and the party began to move into the wide space of the former chapel, joining the soldier’s ghost which had preceded them, led by the half-elf cartographer. He was followed by Professor Britz and the Goblin.

Montgomery set down his satchel and put away his tools, “Great Heroes? Pfft… Greatest thing Phil’s done was convince people that his work has academic merit.”

Phillip Britz glared at Montgomery as they entered the room, before breaking into a smile.

“Well, go ahead. This is what we came for, professor,” Muriel urged.

“Yes, uh... very well then.”

Britz grabbed hold of the sword and picked it up, “I can’t believe it is real, it sounded like such a farce!”

“Yes. I am real. If the story we passed down has reached you, then it is time for you to kill the monster below! I assure you it was no farce.”

“Hmm… Interesting, it has a working mouth, but no voice box. Eyes, too. Seems like this is the sword that was written about. Seems odd that they could see how to seal a man in a sword but not run a society.”

“Did you hear me?”

“I wonder if they used alchemy, or some other methods… Or maybe the sword gained sentience by some others means?”

“Professor…”

“Ho, I bet we could pull the essences out of this blade—“

“Quiet! It was alchemy, and you need to listen, this is important!”

The ghost put a hand on the professor’s shoulder, and made the noise of a window pane being assaulted by the limbs of a tree.

“Ack! What is that… oh, yeah. Right.”

“Forgot about the ghost again? Still scares you like when we first ran into it.”

“Hmm… Well, it’s a ghost. Right, Monty? We should get out of here, we got the sword, now.”

“You aren’t going anywhere, except deeper. The beast Lilith awaits, and she must be dealt with!”

Muriel stepped forward, “No-no, you didn’t pay me nearly enough to help you with that professor. Chief says we don’t go this deep, much less deeper.”

“Uhmmm-hmm…. No, we need to keep going. If this part of the legend is true, then there are more artifacts even deeper,” He stroked a magnificent beard as he spoke, looking at the sword in torchlight.

“What’s the worst that could happen? Let’s take the sword and go, the last thing I need--”

“Ah, ah, ah! I’ll double your pay, and tutor your children at the Academy. Personally.”

Muriel put a finger up, mouth open, then tilted her head for a moment. Enthusiastically, she nodded.

“Ah-ha. Great. So now, the legends were truer than I thought! Who can wield a sword?” Professor Britz turned around and found a sea of blank faces in front of him.

His looked over the cartographer, clutching a bag of maps and gridded paper, and the goblin lass, with a bow over her shoulder and sighed. The blankest face of them all moved forward, beckoned with one hand. Yhe noise it made was similar to an ocean wave lapping up onto a beach.

“What’s this? Four of you and the ghost is the only one who can wield a sword? That will never work. How are we going to fight a demon?”

Dead silence answered the swords doubts. “I suppose we don’t really have a choice, do we?”

The ghost held the sword and looked at it, making the sound of wind moving through trees.

“If that’s settled, there’s a door in the back of the chamber. Look for a slot next to the statue on the right, and put me into it.”

“Well, gonna make a bundle off of these maps when we’re done! Maybe there is some merit to your research, Phil.”

They did as instructed, and a chamber opened up before them, dust filling the air. After a simultaneous sneeze they continued forward. Muriel took point with a torch, darting through the caves that branched off them, trying to find the path.

Montgomery tried to map and keep up, “How deep does this go? Any idea how they built it?”

“It goes quite a ways, we had to hit the Leyline to seal the beast.“

The path was eerie and dim even by torchlight, and not even a slime interrupted their journey. Along the way Muriel was able to kill a handful of Tunnelers.

“At least we’ll be able to eat,” smiling, she pulled an arrow out of the thick juicy bug, “It’s really not bad!”

*--*

“This is it, at last! Thrust me into that monster, and the future will be safe.”

“Hmm… Perhaps we should take a look at the monster first, we could—“

“I’m sure you’ll get a close enough look, now put down some signs, we’ve got a beast to kill!”

The coiled half-lady, half-worm was in the corner of the suddenly expansive cave they entered.

Muriel set an arrow in her bow, “I’d prefer if we got this done with quickly.”

A noise like slippers on a wood floor answered, and the ghost soldier stepped forward, sword in hand. The bundle of flesh in began to stir and let out a roar that raised the temperature in the room orders of magnitude.

The monster swiped at the ghost soldier, and seemed to do no damage to him. The soldier responded in kind, swinging the sentient blade at the beast and barely making an impact on it. “Oh no, this won’t do at all,” As he was swung at the target.

The professor swas hidden and safe in an alcove, furiously taking notes as the battle waged, “Ahh.. hmm… so the beast is… very well then!”

The goblin girl shook her head, notched an arrow, and fired. It connected, but the impact was neglible.

“Ohhh.. just keep swinging, you will get him eventually,” cheered Montgomery, from somewhere near Phillip.

This was answered by the creak of a door opening on rusty hinges and the battle continued.

“Swing me harder! The beast must die today!”

The swings were not getting any harder. The fight was going to be a long one, and even Lillith seemed frustrated with it, wailing as she attempted to wound the ghost.

“We should all go, I don’t think that this battle will end soon.”

“Aah.. No, go ahead! I must make notes of this.”

“Suit yourself. I’ll go, Muriel.”

The sword was silent as it was used to attack the beast like a dull razor.

“We'll set up camp. I made note of a room with one entrance.”

They rested over the next two days that the ghost and the beast did battle. Eventually they awoke to the sound of a boulder falling down a cliff, and rushed into the Leyline Chamber to find the beast a pile of blood, and the sword stuck in it.

“It’s finally over,” said the voice of the sword, exasperation clear to hear.

“So, now we take the sword back to the Academy and live off the riches, right, Phil?”

A bright light burst through the chamber, and the ghost, beast, and sword vanished, absorbing in trails into the Leyline that ran through the room.

From deeper in the chamber the sword’s voice called out, “Not quite! But I can teach you what I know,” the bearer of the voice stepped forward, now originating from a human, “But first, we’ve got to fight the other Leyline beasts!”

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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I hate the system that mandates I be a wage-slave, but respect its effectiveness in keeping a civilized society.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

INTERPROMPT: WHAT IS THE HAPPIEST THING YOU KNOW

When I wake up on a Saturday morning, and the sun shines (just barely) through my window, illuminating the path to my favorite chair. That moment when the coffee has been brewed and the TV set to the correct input, and I'm just holding the controller of choice. Right before the logo pops up on the screen and I take a sip.

That's the happiest thing I know.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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Is that an avatar handed out in one of the sub-forums, or does this guy just get a million name changes and post everywhere?

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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Work and such keeping me busy this week, but I'll try to crit some stories picked at random like the last time I did this.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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epoch. posted:

Grandma's House
809 words


Fate’s funny. I mean, if you believe in that sort of thing. I didn’t used to. But of all the bases my husband coulda been put, they put him at Fort L.F.B. That’s just ten miles down the road from my grandma’s old farm. The farmstead was still in the family, but it had changed hands a few times between my aunts and their kids. We were never all that close to mom’s side, since her and dad moved away to the east coast before I was even born. They moved because dad was in the service, too. And I ended up with a military man, as fate would have it. When I told my mom the news, she said her sister Kathleen was getting ready to rent out the old house again and maybe I would be interested in just buying it outright. It was cheap as hell, and close. What are the odds?

The other reason we wasn’t that close with mom’s side is that my grandma, was, quote, “kind of kooky” (mom’s words). She used to tell my mom and aunts these crazy stories for bedtime, full of talking animals and palaces This isn't that crazy. Almost every story told to kids has talking animals. I know what you were trying to say, but the way you said it makes it sound like animal stories are crazy.. She never read to them, just made up these nutty stories. But the thing was, she insisted -- til the day she died -- that the stories were true.

heard ur moving to gram’s?? my sister had texted me. hope u don’t catch somethin. they dont have loony bins anymore

lol i dont even think mom’s stories are true. prob just made it easier on her to … not see her for so long, yknow? I’d said back.

We … weren’t exactly welcomed by the Gales. Does the Gales presence ever become relevant to the story? They acted like we was snooty. Like we thought we waswere (unless you were suddenly introducing the accent into the narration for the first and only time) better than them for living in the east coast while they tended pigs and cows in the midwest. David would spend long, odd hours at the base, and I was left alone at grandma’s house. Even though there’d been renovations and a few of my younger cousins had started a couple families here, they left a lot of her stuff. Maybe out of respect, I guess. Mostly in the basement and the attic. Lots of boxes of old-timey farmhand clothes. I found an adorable dress, checkered blue (there’s another word for that but I can’t remember it) and I imagined my grandma wearing it around the dusty old farm when she was just little, a prim and clean dress of bright blue against a background of dusty gray, brown, gray.

I’d been telling my sister about some of the stuff I was finding … some of it was real weird. All together in this one box was some tin metal scraps, a red bow like you’d put in your hair, and just a bunch of … straw. I figured they must have used to use the straw to suck up moisture back in the day.

u should try and find her diary, my sister suggested. supposed to be just bonkers

lol dont u think i havent been trying?!

I didn’t find the diary until months later, because I had started to get bored of with finding boxes with outdated shoes and old halloween costumes. She kept the diary for years, but she didn’t write in it all the time. There was some things about the depression, which was kind of interesting, and lots of, well, the usual, you know? Teenager poo poo. Drama. Pages of little doodles about some dog she had. She must have loved that thing.

But the rest of it was just as my mom had said. It got worse at it went on.

See, the thing is, grandma’s first diary entry is pretty obvious that she’s still a totally normal, sane teenager. Then she had this dream. Or a nightmare, depending on how you look at it, I guess. She wrote out, in pretty good detail, everything that happened in the dream. Wrote about how she killed not one, but two witches. And one of them witches had henchmen that were, like, a cross between a monkey and a bat. And they wore uniforms, like little mutant nazi soldiers. Without a why as to why she went from normal to insane, the story falls completely flat.

But then, as time went on, she wrote more and more about the dream. Apparently, she kept having it. For several months, she had that dream every night. I can’t even imagine. Then she’d have variations of the dream, she’d wake up in a cold sweat, because she couldn’t kill the second witch. This second witch was one mean bitch. She set her one friend on fire and let her henchmen tear the other friend apart. She actually ate her little dog in front of her.

No wonder she lost her damned mind. I bet her folks would have taken her to a shrink if they lived in a city instead of godforsaken Kansas.

I'm not gonna evaluate how well you met the prompt this week (you didn't very well). I will, however, evaluate how well you wrote a story. As far as I can see, you didn't really tell us a story. As it stands, there's not really a resolution, and nothing really to get closure on. I guess, in a way, if the story is, "We moved back to a place I grew up and found my Granny's diary. We thought she was crazy and it turned out she was," then you accomplished that at least. But it doesn't really lead anywhere. That said, I liked it in a sort of way, until the end, when I realized that it wasn't going to go any place.

The whole "text message written how they were received" is something I'm not a fan of, unless the characters misinterpreting it or struggling to read it is important in some way, especially because almost all cell phones auto-correct spelling and lack of capitalization now (I know this from shitposting on my phone a lot). Additionally, the text message dialogue, at the end especially, doesn't really do anything, or accomplish anything.

Character wise, it seems like you have got the person searching for a diary, the sister, and the Grandmother. I guess I kind of got a feel for the mind of the person searching for the diary, but it was pretty shallow and superficial, and her motivations for digging through the attic and diary are kind of nebulous at best.

My comments throughout the story are in bold.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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Broenheim posted:

1000 words

Yarn Dog

This is a good story, and it meets the prompt for this week. I felt like you laid on the sadness gravy a little too thick, though. The mother comes off as just mean-spirited and cruel for the sake of being these things, or maybe just vindictive. She pulls a 180 in two lines, though, which is weird. It read like, from the way the character had been presented, she would have flipped her poo poo and burned the dog in a fireplace. I'm almost certain this is where you were going to go with this story until you decided that that was even too much sad gravy for your dead Grandmother potatoes.

That said, I liked it and think this is one of the best things I've read in the Thunderdome. I'm mostly pissed at you because I am envious of your wordsmithing. You were actually able to get me to think, "Awww, how sad," at what is either the story of a boy with his grandma's magic needle, or a budding (and permanent) hallucination psychosis. I don't have any linecrits because I could not improve the way your story was written.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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Bad Ideas Good posted:

A Promised Land

446 words

(They were) No. gently caress you. This isn't a rock ballad. You don't get to exclude words and then add them in parenthesis. Hoisted, contained over the riverbed, the Monster said he would skin them dead. I heard him speak on the priorities of the weak and helpless. Hopeful misdirection is honey to the flies of desperation, it was a promise; long have the stories been told of a city made of gold in the heart of this jungle. What are you even trying to communicate? What exactly is happening here? Is the monster that got taken out of the bay a Sociology professor? A promise it was: Bundle your things, gather your kin, we will find our salvation from this famine and abandon this infertile soil. I legitmately had to stop reading right here 4 times. I could not bear the idea of continuing on.

--------###----------

The mask of Ranu, God of Generals, was ceremonial, worn on holidays in celebration of the Gods that protected the people of Archino City. It was a dark red wood, with a sharp nose and deep eye sockets. Nobody knew why the mask had constricted as it had, gnarled wooden fingers extended, intersecting and digging into the back of the Monster’s head and under his chin. Probably as a way to escape this story. I seriously have no idea who or what and why this introduction to a scene change is talking about. Or why when the Monster looks at you, the false eyes of the mask would always stare into yours, and then you lose what you were just about to say. Why blood would sometimes drip from the nose of the mask and the corners of the Monster’s mouth. Nobody knew why the Monster no longer slept, but instead looked up at the stars all night, and whisper strange words. In the mornings, he would say he had spoken with the Gods, and he would look into all of us, and we would follow him.

Stories of a quiet young lad were told with equal parts comfort and concern, for the first few years. But all stories have stopped being told long ago.

--------###--------

There once was a man from Archino, who was to leave for Dolode. Upon his departure he consulted the Gods on the safest way to travel. “Always keep an arrow notched,” said Kanoi, God of the hunt. “Follow the river, life will always be there,” said Maldine, Goddess of water. “A subordinate’s life is not his to keep,” said Ranu, God of Generals.

--------###--------

The Monster approached the traitors, who were enclosed in wooden hands over the river. They had conspired to take the mass of us away from the Monster, but he had spoken with the Gods, and so, as explained, they were doomed to fail.

Rock in hand he stepped to each of them, and broke them; Fingers, then hands, then heads. A whisper lingered in his ears, it’s for the best. Broken bodies were skinned and dropped in the river, it’s for the best. A proclamation to the rest of the camp, hands and face covered in blood, it’s for the best.

Nobody knows what’s best, so again the Monster leads us into the jungle. What. Why. How. When?

I picked this story, in all honesty, because I saw it was the shortest. I thought to myself, "This is gonna be really easy. I can just pound this out and look like I contribute a lot to the Thunderdome." But this is without a doubt that hardest thing I have attempted to read. I'm not sure what is being said here or why. I could not force myself to keep track of who was saying what and why. I think that if you had used a few hundred more words to give the story from a different perspective, I could possibly begin to understand why you wrote it.

The prompt clearly states that you were to write a story. With characters and motivations and growth throughout. I don't even know that this qualifies as a collection of scenes. This is incomprehensible on two rereads. I guess if I had to give you advice, I would say that you shouldn't hide what you're trying to write about. You might have the most interesting story on the planet hidden in there (you don't). But because of the way it is written, I have absolutely no motivation to dig through and figure it out. There is no incentive in anything presented, no mystery deep enough, for a reader to go, "Oh, something very deep and interesting is happening here". That's in addition to the fact that nothing deep is happening.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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Bad Ideas Good posted:

A Promised Land

446 words


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQCU36pkH7c

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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I don't have time to write, but I will be handing out some random crits again.

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hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



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My promised reviews coming through.

Screaming Idiot posted:

The Sweat Adds Flavor

Prompt: Heat

The frozen patties clacked onto the grill like coasters, spatters of grease popping about. Rick the grillman ignored the stinging pains on his forearm -- they'd fade soon enough, and blisters would heal. The omnipresent sweat that stung his eyes and left rich salt deposits on his grease-stiffened uniform shirt was much worse.I instantly don't give a poo poo about any of this. Any of it. The similie of "frozen patties clacked onto the grill like coasters" isn't the worlds most natural, and sounds really akward

"Hey, y'all're holdin' on nuggets again, Rick."

The imbecilic drawl came from Billy, one of the sandwich assemblers and to Rick, the platonic ideal of the drug-hazed burnout. He reeked of Axe body spray, sweat, and stale weed.

The grillman checked the trays in the heating cabinets and made a low noise of annoyance in the back of his throat when he saw they were lit. Lit trays were supposed to be full trays, but of course, Billy had drawn from each until they were empty, and hadn't said a word until it was too late. Rick considered saying something, but thought better of it; arguing with Billy was like arguing with a dog, only most dogs didn't reply with half-baked non sequiturs.Is Rick the kind of character who would reflect on a concept like a non-sequitur?

Rick was a doughy man, dour and angry, but he cared. Unfortunately, it meant he was never satisfied; he was punctual, meticulous, irritable. He kept his grill and his utensils spotlessly clean and his trays full of fresh food.

Except when people like Billy worked, of course. Billy spent more time blathering about Clash of Clans and weed and old westerns than he spent paying attention to which trays he pulled from, making things hard for Rick.Probably could've just cut this line, we already knew Billy doesn't keep track of the trays. I'm tried of Rick and Billy, and I wish Rick would just kill Billy and himself. I know you think, "Mission Accomplished, I have set up my characters." You are wrong. gently caress you.

"I tell you the good news?" Billy shot Rick a lopsided grin, bloodshot brown eyes glistening unhealthily, like veiny boiled eggs. His voice was as slick and as irritating as the grease popping from Rick's grill. "They're makin' me a manager."

Rick froze as he was setting up another tray of nuggets for the fryer. Billy? A manager? Rick had worked for nearly three years without so much as a nickel raise, while Billy had been there less than four months and they were making him a manager? Sweat dripped from the lank brown curls beneath Rick's threadbare hat and into his eyes, but he barely noticed it. Rage boiled up his throat like bile, and his knuckles whitened about the frozen bag of nuggets in his hand.

"Well, congratulations! I'm glad to hear it; you've always been a hard worker." Rick turned toward Billy with a rictus smile. Rick wasn't lying about that last part -- Billy might have been as sharp as a sack of rotten potatoes, but the man didn't slack. As long as the managers were watching. "When do you get your shirt and tie, you think?"

"Next week, after we get paid," Billy answered, puffing his chest and smiling with pride. Pride.

The ignorant bastard was proud. The idiot didn't realize that they worked in fast food, one step above slavery. They were failures as human beings, the lowest of the low. They worked in the heat and grease and anger for little pay and not enough hours. Rick in particular barely paid his rent, and he'd long ago given up the idea of buying groceries -- what he couldn't get with food stamps, he scavenged from the wastebins at work. Bills were paid roulette-style. But he did his best, worked as hard as he was able, and did his job. He didn't know any other way.This works better if you phrase it as someones thought, maybe Rick reflecting on things, instead of kind of just being you talking about the shame and plight of fast food workers as the narrator.

Billy did as well, but he did it flashily -- he did it to be seen. He called out orders he'd finished loud enough for the pizza place next door to hear. He always snuck in between people and their jobs and did them himself, although rather sloppily. He gave orders to the newbies -- mostly kids on their summer break. The orders were wrong, mind, and the kids got in trouble for it -- "No, you're not supposed to wash off meat that falls to the floor, where'd you hear that?" -- but Billy smirked, because He Knew Better.

And he was proud. Not of a job done well, but convinced that what he did was right, simply because he did it. Rick wanted to throttle the bastard. Instead, Rick throttled the bastard inside; he shoved his hate down, stuffed it somewhere deep, and made nuggets while Billy chatted up a front-line girl ten years too young for him.


As they drove through the humid night, Billy looked to Rick.

"You don't like me," Billy said, turning his gaze back to the road.

"What? That's not true," Rick said, shame prickling his spine. Yes it is.

"You don't think I should be a manager." Billy sighed. "You're a lot smarter than I am. But this job's all I got. My daddy's proud of the work I do."

Rick was silent.

"I'm gonna try my best, Rick. I'm gonna do my best to deserve it."

Rick said nothing.

"Also, I think I just passed up your house." Rick turned his neck and looked behind them.

Rick let out a chuckle despite himself

Maybe Billy wasn't so bad.Uggghhhh.....

Your simplistic and pitiful portrayal of fast food employees aside, I hate both of your characters. I resent that Rick is, in the end, able to go, "Well, gosh darn, he's a good guy who tries," in spite of Billy having done nothing to earn his respect within the context of the story except give him a ride home. The only reason I know the difference between the characters is that there are labels to everything, the story would not be able to stand without their names next to things because they're pretty shallow characters. The story doesn't really have a central conflict at all? It's not particularly a story, just kind of a sequence of events that open with someone that we are supposed to relate or like being upset about someone else getting promoted, and then in the end getting a ride home and liking the guy suddenly. This story gets a C for effort and a D for being a story. The characters are just a straight up failure, in my estimation. Bold are my comments, and I cut out the entire middle of it because it was bland and I couldn't even think of a way to be mean about it.

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