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The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

flerp posted:

ok ill help

ty

One more judge spot open

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SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


Sorry, question re "technology should be ancillary": do you mean you want technology to matter (as ancillary to/supporting the battle of wills) in the story, or that you just don't want it to get in the way if it is present? There's two very different interpretations of that word.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


In for my first try at Thunderdome. I've no reason to believe I can write at all but I see others first-timers joining so I'm going to throw my hat into the ring.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Sorry, question re "technology should be ancillary": do you mean you want technology to matter (as ancillary to/supporting the battle of wills) in the story, or that you just don't want it to get in the way if it is present? There's two very different interpretations of that word.

Sorry, I want the latter. You don't have to include any technology (or magic wands, etc.) unless that is an assigned topic.
Focus on your characters and not their toys (which is not to say you can't use them, even giant robots if you so choose)

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at Oct 8, 2016 around 01:28

Loutre
Jan 14, 2004

Raised by


In. Last minute sign-up ago go.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Sign-ups are now closed.

Still have an open judging spot if there are any volunteers (and before I resort to begging)

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


MEGABRAWL CLUSTERFUCK EXTRAVAGANZA!!!

I’m so happy I got to read both your stories, you pieces of poo poo. You didn’t let me down by much, but I can honestly say with some more time and polish, both the word vomit you sprayed on your computer could appear in a publication (one with low standards anyways).

Broenheim

I’ll be honest, my mind started wandering really fuckin early reading this story, but I’m sure just saying that and moving on wouldn’t benefit you.

Sitting Here

I vibed with this story fo sho my nizza. The Blooooood was creepy, in a sociopathic underlying kind of way. Where you feel like something's off about someone but you can’t really put your finger on it until they do something obvious, like murder someone and force themselves into their eyes, nose, ears and mouth like some kind of rapey Otolaryngologist .

It was easy reading most of the way through, except near the end when I had to reread a paragraph or two for clarity. Come to think of it, you’re the only writer who consistently have their MC’s bone but make it tasteful enough that no one raises an eyebrow (or anything else). Kudos to you SH.

I like reading this kind of stuff from you; rooted in reality with just enough alien to make it weird.

Broenheim again

Alright, you fucker. The one thing that I hated the most and I think killed the pacing was all the goddamn scene breaks. What the poo poo? I’ve never seen this from you! Why did you start now? It’s dumb, don’t do it again.

I never got the sense that your dream eater who was always bitching about her hunger (we loving get it) had a plausible enough motive in this story. This story needed urgency of some sort, you handsome, steely eyed, piece of horseshit. What we got was the inner musings of some alien who found someone who didn’t dream - tried to fix it, couldn’t. Went out and ate some more, complaining about her poor tummy wummy and then WOOSH the boy can dream. Yay. gently caress you.

...handsome faced bastard.

Sitting Here 9/10
Broenheim 5/10

Entenzahn posted:

in closing, it's cool to act like a cocksucker in thunderdome (we all do it), but merc next time you swing your weight around maybe dont show up several hours late to the brawl you started like some drooling thunderbabby nooblet

enten out

I should note that gently caress you.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Headhop
(1080 words)

I start the morning like my best evenings. Drunk. Might as well enjoy it before they commence the alcohol ban. Not enough to have a controlling share in most media, commodities, services. No. Headhop’s got a stake in our private lives too, “for the well-being of employees everywhere.”

Tonya, what might you be thinking right now about Headhop pretending they give a sodding care about well-being? Aw piss, there I go assuming she’s alive when I don’t have one flying fleck of evidence. I look to my bedroom mantle, the picture that shows my sister before Headhop took her for a bargaining chip. Ten years old, posing, tossing back her chestnut hair and smiling at me.

Fifteen years later, I just hope you’re at peace.

Ugh. Peace. I had almost managed a full ten minutes without thinking about Kelges and his pacifist bullshit. Turned the resistance skunkier than beer left in the sun. Kelges can’t seem to face the truth: violence against Headhop is necessary. Any company that will offer a ten-year-old as a child bride in a trade negotiation deserves all the violence we can inflict. Oh, he’ll sit there and whine about how his brother’s a cop, how some good people work for Headhop as well as the bad. He’ll talk about people just doing their job, and how there’s no sense victimizing them too. The fool doesn’t get that when collateral damage hurts, it’s just the stinging peroxide that disinfects the wound.

Slogans, sit-ins, banners, none of that bullshit worries a multinational monopoly. Nonviolence huh? Since Headhop owns the police, Headhop gets to define “violence”. At the rally tonight, they’ll label us terrorists no matter how peaceful we are, and we’ll land in jail faster than Kelges can sing Kumbaya. All I’m saying is if we’re gonna do the time, we might as well do the crime. Do some damage, raise the cost of Headhop’s tyranny. They are a business after all. Kelges be damned, this rally will be violent, and I’ll be the one to incite it.

##

I start my morning playing tennis with Sherman. Trying vainly to best my big brother helps to keep my mind off the rally. We’ll be opponents there too, but the game will be far less friendly. Sherman cares little for politics, but he has children to feed and Headhop is grateful to feed them so long as he serves as riot control.

I fail to defend against his serve. “That’s game,” Sherman announces.

We proceed to the lawn chairs and towel off the sweat from our brows.

“Listen, Kelges, you don’t have to proceed with this stunt of yours today. I’m afraid things will get violent.”

“Then it’s my job to see that that they don’t. Our opposition to Headhop is meaningful because it is broad-based, peaceful, and mainstream. The moment we get violent is the moment we alienate the public at large and stifle our moral standing.”

“What about Voprin?”

My heart plummets to think of my former protégé. “He’s been drinking more lately,” I admit. “Making accusations that Headhop was responsible for abducting his sister. I cannot promise he will be peaceful, but I will urge him so.”

##

Times Square brims with raised fists, banners, and signs. The air is thick with sweat and punctuated by the sound of drum circles and synchronized chanting. Traffic is cut-off entirely, the shops are closed down, and a wall of riot police stares menacingly at Voprin.

He’s on the make-shift platform, megaphone in hand. “When they come for you,” he shouts to the crowd while pointing at the police, “fight them all. Use debris, the handles of the signs you carry, or your bare hands if you have to. If you can light a fire, light one and burn this place to the ground.”

I climb the platform, wrest the megaphone from Voprin, and point to riot control. “My brother is in that crowd. The police are here to keep us safe. This rally is not about them, it is about holding Headhop to account for political and economic tyranny.” The crowd cheers. Voprin dives at me, apparently reaching for the megaphone, but I sidestep and let him fall off the platform. I tell the crowd, “It is our duty to remain peaceful.”

That is when the police begin firing rubber bullets. The crowd splits between those who sit, lock arms, and endure the projectiles and those who advance on the police.

I lock arms with a seated protestor and chant anti-Headhop slogans. Despite my being wholly nonthreatening, a baton wielding officer runs over, kicks and beats me. I spit blood and look up to see Sherman, in uniform, land a haymaker on the officer who is attacking me. More officers arrive to grab both of us, handcuff us, and toss us into a police van. As they close the doors on the van, I think to myself what a success this protest has been. Law enforcement attacked even those protestors who were committed to nonviolence. This will make an impact on public opinion.

##

I rub my bruised face and get my rear end back to the platform. The peaceniks are nowhere to be found. Can’t figure why, but law enforcement seems to have targeted the nonviolent ones for arrest. I yell from the platform. “Make them hurt! Make them pay for their complicity in Headhop’s crimes!”

“Voprin!” I hear a woman call my name. The sound seems to come from all around me. I look behind me and see the chestnut haired woman on the enormous digital billboard screen. “Tonya!” I call out. “Are you alright?”

“Voprin, you have to stop inciting violence.”

“But…Headhop. What they did to you…”

“They robbed me of so much. My life is a nightmare. Not a day goes by I don’t wish to keel over and gasp my last breath. It’s a nightmare, but it’s mine. And you don’t get to own my nightmare as justification for your dreams of violence.”

“I can’t just let things go on the way they’ve been going. I have an obligation to fight.”

My sister frowns. “You have an obligation to peace.”

“Are they forcing you to say this?” I ask.

The screen goes dark. I turn back to find a dejected, scattering crowd. I have failed.

##

Headhop algorithmic threat assessment

Voprin Breathwile: [risk of martyr status, medium-low; threat level, very low]. No further action required.

Kelges Durftler: [risk of martyr status, medium; threat level, potentially high]. Recommend indefinite detainment.

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

AAA


Pillbug

Moth (1449 Words)
McGuigan's cafe stood atop a cliff, overlooking the stretch of sea that led to the north coast of the mainland. Lisa sat by a window, her spiral-bound notebook laid open on a checkered tablecloth, watching the gentle glow of streetlights far off in the Monday morning haze. It was raining. Rafferty Island was a nice enough place to spend a weekend, she thought. Just long enough to appreciate the lack of stimulation, rather than feel oppressed by it. It was beyond her how anyone could actually live there, though. Maybe that was the real question.

The ferry had docked, the first since Lisa's on Friday evening, and had brought with it the man now standing by her table. "Hey," he said, "Name's Jeffrey. Wh—"

Lisa chuckled, still gazing through the window. "If you say so." She heard the tap-tap-tap of water dripping onto the vinyl tablecloth and pulled her makeshift journal onto her lap. She hoped he would get the cold or the flu or something. Actually, she hoped that the ferry would burst into flames and then sink with him on it, but that window had closed for the time being.

He slid the chair opposite her from under the table, dragging its legs across the tiles in a way no-one has ever done by accident. "Mind if I sit here?"

"Yep," she glanced over and turned up the corners of her mouth, "but don't let that stop you." Something else. Not a smile. Not for him.

As he sat down, Lisa finally took her first proper look at him. He wore a face she had never seen before. His jaw had narrowed, the scar below his left eye had disappeared and he was several inches taller than when she had last seen him. Or, rather, when they had last spoken. She had seen him dozens, maybe hundreds of times, she supposed, but always as someone else.

Question Three: Is it him?
Not really in any doubt, assuming no extenuating circumstances (e.g. Q2 on "Have you just lost it?"), but included for completeness. Who the hell else is it going to be?


He snatched up one of the menus leaning against the window, and ran the tip of his finger up and down its length. That, Lisa did recognise.

"So tell me, Daryl..."

His hand froze. Stalled. The river of prepared chit-chat had run dry right at the source and his parched lips twitched, searching for a reply. He sat, transfixed, staring at a point that had now drifted about a half-inch through the back of the menu, his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth. He was forced to vocalise something when he remembered the need to exhale, but nothing meaningful. Just a wavering, "Hmm?"

Lisa plucked a few sugar packets from a nearby bowl as an elderly gentleman arrived with a teapot, and finished her thought.

"...What brings you here?"

---

They were going to be together.

So far as he was concerned, that was the beginning and end of it. Something in his chest told him so. Something near his heart. Small, smooth, like a marble, just below where the muscles in his shoulder met his collarbone. It tingled when they were apart, like pins and needles, and led him squarely to her.

"It hurts so bad when I'm not with you," he once said, one tequila beyond one too many. "Nah, you don't get it. We're like, fuckin', connected, me 'n' you, y'know?"

They had been seeing each other for only a week, and she was not ready for that level of intimacy. Not yet. She had gotten used to other guys being cagey, cautious, looking for some excuse to keep their options open. If you surround yourself with that for years, then sure, meeting someone with conviction, someone willing to commit, no questions asked? Terrifying, he could imagine.

"Sorry, I can't, maybe some other time?" turned into, "I'm kind of busy at the moment," and then finally into silence. No-one's fault, really. The well was already poisoned, he was just a victim of circumstance. Still, no harm done. A few days, a new shirt and a fresh face, and they would be back together, good as new.

He never thought of himself as better than the other men she saw, just different. They operated within a realm of possibility that was foreign to him. A vast plain, over which they would flow, finding a path of least resistance and whatever bounty that may lead them to. They accepted failure because they could redefine success. He did not have that luxury. He had just one path, treacherous, covered with jagged rocks and loose pebbles. He would slip, graze his shins and chip his teeth. Fall, but persevere, because what else was there? He would struggle, and he would become unrecognisable but, eventually, he would overcome.

And she would be waiting.

---

Lisa's pen lay disassembled across a page strewn with sentence fragments and heavily scratched out spelling errors.

Final exams were soon, and the ranks of desks and shelves that arced around the library were brightly lit, and never empty. She hoped that being carefully positioned, several storeys high, with her back against the wall and a clear view across the pit containing the foyer, would reassure her. Anything that happened to her would be seen by someone.

But every time she glanced up over her desk, down into the lower levels of the library, somebody seemed to react. Never the same person twice, but someone would cover their eyes, or drop their head into their propped-up elbow, or turn away and disappear among the shelves. Too quickly to get a bead on, but quick enough to be noticed.

Anything that happened to her would be seen by someone.

This was not a new sensation, not unique to this building. Small things, peculiar things, followed Lisa throughout the city. A sideways glance from someone holding a door. A shadow flickering from beyond a corner. A face in a crowd that, for just a moment, stared dead straight at her. The city had seemed haunted, for weeks now, ever since—

The scabs on the back of her waist started to itch.

She looked back down at the notepad and a wave of clarity washed over her. She had not written down a coherent, complete thought in hours. That realisation, that flash of self-awareness, shone in front of her, bright neon lettering burning against a murky night sky. She needed to know. Doubt was smothering her. Whatever she was working towards, right there, right then, gathered amongst four years of colour-coded notes, principles and precedents, was lost. Or would be, soon, if she tried to go on as she was, driven to distraction by her own paranoia.

She slid the pen's ink cartridge back into its casing, pulled out a fresh, spiral-bound notebook, and wrote. Fiercely. Clearly.

Question One: Am I being watched?

She looked curiously at the rows upon rows of blank space, which seemed to stare back, and then turned up the corners of her mouth. A smile. Just for her.

And then she left.

---

Lisa sipped her tea as platefuls of fried things were set between the two of them, next to bundles of cutlery and twisted napkins. His eyebrows were pulled together above his nose. "Don't you think you... maybe…"

"No. I don't." Her eyes narrowed over the rim of the teacup.

He sighed. "Alright… Well… Have you at least forgiven me?"

"For what?" Lisa raised an eyebrow and exaggerated an offering of her palm.

He hesitated.

"You said I scared you." A subtle upward inflection on the final word suggested that this was more of a question than a statement.

"Don't flatter yourself. I spent a weekend out here just to prove for myself that all the men who stood and watched weren't something I'd invented. I think I managed to scare myself just fine, thank-you-very-much."

She looked at her watch, and then outside. The rain was dying down, and the sun had just started to break through the clouds. The ferry would be leaving shortly. She could just hop on, right now, drive the coastline all the way back to the city, and try to pick up the pieces of the life she had dropped. But she had one last question, and damned if she was leaving here without being certain of the answer.

She pinched the corner of the napkin with one hand and pulled gently, letting the knife and fork clatter onto the table.

Nine: Will he ever stop?

Small, smooth, like a marble, just below where the muscles in his shoulder met his collarbone.

Near his heart.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Glue Trap
1694 words

Doris knew she was in trouble as soon as Lenny saw the mouse. They’d been having a pleasant enough afternoon. She’d shown him the garden and he even put a token amount of interest into it, and once she’d let him talk about work, he’d even relaxed a little bit. But just when she felt comfortable enough, out came the stupid mouse, darting across the kitchen in a skittery blur, and Lenny’s calm broke. Not all at once. But his eyes started to dart off from her more than they usually did, and before long he held up one finger and said “I just want to check one thing.”

And that’s when he started poking around under the sink cupboards, his frown getting deeper and more pronounced with each little crawlspace he poked his nose into.

“Mom,” he said, “why didn’t you tell me you were living with an infestation?”

“I didn’t want to trouble you.” She folded her hands in a symbol of matronly innocence. If Lenny was feeling charitable, it would have softened him, but ever since his divorce there wasn’t much soft left in him. Now he ignored her and dug through the pantry, hoisting up food containers with a half-panicked anxiety. “You don’t have to worry about me, Lenny,” she said. “I’m taking care of myself.”

“Well, obviously not,” he said, dangling a bag of rice with a hole eaten through it in front of him. Doris frowned at the narrow stream of rice making a mess all over the floor, and having made his point, Lenny actually cottoned on to the embarrassment this time. As he swept up the rice, he said, more quietly: “It’s tough for anyone to live alone. God, after Monica, I myself was, well, despondent.”

---

As he rehashed the self-indulgent, self-help jargon filled dissolution of his marriage, Doris remembered the first time she’d really seen her son for the man he’d eventually become. He’d been thirteen and he’d just rooted up all of the weeds in her garden on a day off from school. She’d known, on one level, that it was something a lonely child did, a fit of manic conscientiousness, a show from a child too uptight to act out the way Normal Kids did. And yet when he’d come home to find Lenny dirt-pocked and sweaty next to a heap of weeds (and yes, some flowers, some vegetables that hadn’t flowered yet), she felt a sense of pride, the kind of pride and love that mothers and dog owners were supposed to feel.

But the next day Lenny’s hands erupted in an angry rash, either from the friction or from touching something he couldn’t. And Doris, who felt it crucial to make sure Lenny didn’t learn the wrong lesson, packed him up into the family car and drove him forty-five minutes to the ice cream shop Lenny loved. Because it was important that he learn that hard work, spontaneously performed, was a good thing, something worthy of reward. Even if you did get blisters.

Lenny had two scoops of chocolate, plain chocolate. Doris asked him if he wanted to get anything more adventurous, given the liberty of two scoops she’d allowed him, but that gentle prodding only led to him looking down, shaking his head. And halfway home he vomited all over the back seat, throwing up so much ice cream and the shreds of any lesson she’d tried to reward. She’d felt guilty for weeks, and that was before there was any cache in guilty parenting.

And then, a month later, Lenny’d done it again, weeded the garden with another few hours of selfless diligence.

No matter what she did, he’d be okay.

---

“I just have this image of you getting sick from eating mouse droppings and then not calling until you’re sick enough,” Lenny was saying. He’d probably blame her inattention on dementia, but just like he didn’t care much about her garden, she had ceased to care about his marital problems. She was simply unwilling to put in the effort anymore. There was only so much compassion (then sympathy, then tolerance) she could put the last years of her energy into.

Maybe they didn’t tell you this, but Doris suspected there was a time limit on motherly instincts. No one was built to mother for fifty years.

“I’ll call an exterminator,” Doris said. She made a show of yawning. “Oh my,” she said, looking at the wall clock, “I think it’s time for a nap.”

“Mom.”

“I get it. You’re worried. That’s sweet. Thank you.” Again she tried the nun’s hand-fold, the show of preternatural calm. Go on, she might have said. Make the pitch. Tell me why this one lapse in housekeeping means that I should go live in a home. But she wouldn’t broach the topic first. Lenny would have to be the villain. Let it offend his dainty respectibilities. “You know what,” she said, “maybe I’ll adopt a cat.”

Lenny’s face contorted. “It’s not just the mouse thing, Mom. Look, I didn’t want to bring this up, but you know what last week was?”

This was a genuine stumper for Doris. Lenny’s birthday was three months ago, and she’d been sure to call him then -- Lenny could pull up the call logs on her phone, and the call would be right there. What else could he be referring to?

“You missed your appointment with Dr. Paolino. For the third time in a row. I’m glad they called me, because otherwise I wouldn’t have known that you’re just not taking care of yourself.”

“I’m not seeing Dr. Paolino anymore.” Which was a lie -- god forbid, she’d missed a few appointments, just maintenance appointments on her medication regimen -- but she wasn’t going to let him dig in his toes on this one. “And Lenny, my health is my own business.”

“Your own business? Oh, Jesus. Do you know who’s there to fix the paperwork with the Medicare people every time something goes wrong? It’s been me. You need to hear the conversation I had the other day.”

---

Her least favorite memory of Lenny was when he started going by “Leo,” and started treating her with outright hostility when she deigned to call him by the name she’d been calling him his whole life. Christmas dinners where, an eggnog or two in, she’d let the “Lenny” slip and immediately he’d suck the joy out of the room with an unsmiling “That’s not my name.”

It was this Lenny she’d seen more and more over the year, this humorless, all-business Lenny. You couldn’t rely on him to preserve a good mood, or to keep the peace, or to let a little thing go.

He would, inevitably, collect it all.

---

“...and that was just one, call number one, of the phone calls I made that day -- for you -- that took more than thirty minutes out of my day. It’s what happens when you don’t make your healthcare your own business.”

“You treat me like I’m a child,” Doris said. “I hope you don’t think of me that way.”

“I make a point,” Lenny said (oh, he was so pretentious!), “to treat everyone exactly how they act. And if what you’re telling me is true, that you decided the doctor who manages your ability to breathe was just wrong for you, and you put no effort into finding someone else, then Mom, you’re acting like a child.”

If it weren’t for the way he settled into smugness once he’d finished, she might have kept her composure, might have told him how interesting it was that he saw things like that but in actuality she was doing just fine. But it was the way he took a seat, straddling a chair, like he’d just won something important, that finally broke that taut rope she’d kept wrapped around herself.

“Spending so much time planning your mother’s life,” she said, “means you’re acting like a child too.”

---

And yet she still loved Lenny. She was proud of him when he graduated his high school as salutatorian, when he’d made it into Cornell Law, when he’d made partner in one of the top practices in Newark. And he was never one of those children who didn’t have time for their mothers once they had a successful career -- although, just like her, he’d totally written off his father (good riddance.)

It’s just that as the years went on, she realized she was speaking less and less, and he was talking more and more, and asking only the most perfunctory questions.

And it was only very recently -- maybe too late -- she’d realized she needed a change.

---

She’d unfolded her hands. “You’re not the only one taking care of me. I have friends. There’s a boy next door who checks in on me and does errands for me. You don’t need to do everything for me.” She took a breath. “I don’t want you to do everything for me.”

Her instincts told her to look away, to avoid her son’s face, the anger, the contempt, the humor. But Lenny’s face was sheathed in the kind of infinite patience that she’d grown so accustomed to.

“The point is,” he said, “no matter who’s there, things are getting missed. I’d feel so much better, and I’m sure all those people would too, if you went to live somewhere where other people could look out for you.”

“No. That’s my decision, no.” She bit down on the customary “thank you.” Not this time, she decided.

Lenny shook his head. He looked about to speak, but seemed to think better of it.

With the nasty business done, Doris stretched, and told Lenny about the show she’d seen off-Broadway recently. The normal things, like she hadn’t just surpassed the limits that had always been there. She brought out dessert -- a torte that the helper boy had brought over a few days ago -- and they’d both eaten it, while Lenny too lapsed back into conversation.

And then, before she’d even had a chance to clear the table, he came up behind her, lifted her up, and carried her to his car.

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

The Cut of Your Jib posted:

Sign-ups are now closed.

Still have an open judging spot if there are any volunteers (and before I resort to begging)

I judge all of you on a regular basis, but due to a strange quirk of scheduling I'm free to do it in an official capacity.

'magine I have to dust off an IRC client or somethin'.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' -Samuel Johnson

An Argument of Wizards

1432 Words

Professor Gallpepper had no friends among his peers at the Crosswind University of the Esoteric Arts, and an ample supply of enemies mortal and petty. His death had even been the result of a proper duel, witnessed and agreed. Tonight should be, Professor Aurelius thought, a day of guilty glee poorly concealed behind official mourning. Official solemnity, he corrected himself. Nobody could have even faked mourning. If only that Fistibulus lad hadn't been so damned clever.

Professor Liverthatch's chair careened into the hall, damaging the door frame in a glancing collision. It circled and spun, with the professor tightly gripping the armrests before slamming into the ground in the only empty spot in the collected wizards' formation. Backwards. “Am I late?” said Liverthatch, He launched his chair straight up, spun it around, and dropped it loudly back into place. “Have the charges been read?”

“No,” said Aurelius

“Great,” said Liverthatch. “Let's get to it. What did he do?”

“His famous project, the so-called sorcerous intellect, beat Professor Gallpepper in a duel,” said Professor Bramblenip.

“That's not possible!” said Liverthatch. “Isn't it?”

“It is not,” said Bramblenip. He counted out on his fingers as he continued. “To cast the dueling spells requires a soul. Fistibulus's device, as he has described it, cannot have one. Therefore he must be lying about its design, no doubt to hide the use of forbidden magical arts.”

“Or simple fraud,” added Professor Glistapher. “Could be he was just controlling it the whole time.”

“That thing beat me at chess four games out of five,” said Bramblenip. “Fistibulus couldn't beat me on my worst day. Dark arts, has to be. Either there's a ghost in there or a demon.”

“None of my divinations on the device detected any sign of either,” said Liverthatch. “We can hardly proceed without proof.”

“Logical inevitability is proof,” said Bramblenip. “And besides, I wouldn't trust your divinations to read tomorrow's breakfast menu. A smart wizard like Fistibulus could easily shroud your sight.”

“An insult!,” said Liverthatch, standing up in his chair. “You're all witnesses. I demand satisfaction!”

“Very well,” said Bramblenip. “Figs at dawn, with a case of brandy stakes?”

“I haven't been up at dawn in three decades,” said Liverthatch. His chair lifted off the ground and floated to the space directly in front of Bramblenip. “Figs now!” He reached out an arm and a bowl of figs rocketed from the kitchens to the hall. Each of the two wizards selected a fig and pierced it with a toothpick. The fruits transformed and came to life and began fencing using the picks as though they were wooden swords.

“Perhaps we could acquire some proof?” said Glistapher as the figs circled one another. “Dismantle the device to more thoroughly investigate the source of its soul?”

“A wizard who tried that would be subject to lethal challenge from the device,” said Aurelius “Do you think you would do any better than Gallpepper?” Bramblenip's fig scored a hit, slashing a gash into the opposing fig that leaked juice and seeds.

“Perhaps that isn't the ideal solution, then, no,” said Glistapher. Liverthatch's fig lured its opponent a fraction of an inch too close, and struck deep with its toothpick. It slashed back and forth and split Bramblenip's fig in two. The halves of the defeated fig fell to the ground. Liverthatch danced in place on his chair.

Eventually they began to vote. After three ballots tied four to four on the side issue of whether Necromancy or Diabolism was the appropriate charge, a motion to simply consider a general 'magical arts forbidden under pain of death' charge was made, which narrowly passed. Then the actual vote on the verdict began. The first ballot was only just barely in favor of guilt, but as the day went on, with no break for dinner and every last fig in the bowl consumed by one wizard or another, more and more wizards changed their vote to 'guilty' until Aurelius was the only holdout.

“Come on,” said Bramblenip. “I can smell the dessert puddings from here. We just need one more vote to settle this without giving the brat recourse to duel.”

“I just don't believe that Fistibulus would be involved with that kind of magic,” said Aurelius

“But you agree that there is no other way-” said Bramblenip.

“Actually,” interrupted Professora Widdershins, floating into the room on a pair of pillows that supported each of her feet, “There is another possibility.”

“What are you doing here?” said Bramblenip. “The conclave rules clearly state-”

“The conclave rules only exclude women because there hasn't been a conclave in eighty years and nobody has bothered to update them.” said Widdershins.

“Still, the rules are the rules,” said Bramblenip.

“Don't worry,” said Widdershins. “I don't intend to try to vote. But I would like to remind you all that there is another means by which a wizard, or more precisely two wizards, can produce a soul without necromantic or diabolic activity.”

“What?” said Liverthatch. “How come I've never heard-”

“She's talking about sex, you boneless ninny,” said Bramblenip.

“Indeed,” said Widdershins. “And any natural process can be manipulated by the right form of magic.”

“Tantra?” said Aurelius “Surely that's forbidden here as well.”

“It is,” said Glistapher. “But not as harshly. Not on pain of death. The penalty is, let me think, ah, yes, a five-year celibacy geas.”

“Are you claiming personal knowledge of Fistibulus's innocence, Professora?” asked Bramblenip with a leer.

“Personal...How dare you?” said Widdershins.

“Is that a challenge?”

“It is.”

“Very well. Chess, speed. And the stakes will be...” said Bramblenip. “Loser to teach classes next week in the nude” Widdershins glared at him. “Oh, very well, in their underwear.”

“Your students will be most grateful for that change,” said Widdershins, magically calling forth a board. The pieces began to move at the commands of the two wizards, without pause. After a quick battle over the center the board was nearly empty and the last few pieces chased each other across the board in a long endgame where Bramblenip tried valiantly but in vain to force a stalemate.

The new charge did not receive a majority either. Aurelius held out, still unwilling to convict with so much uncertainty. One by one, other wizards moved to acquittal. “I mean, keeping Crosswinds pure of the dark arts is one thing,” explained Glistapher, “But trying to keep the students from having sex? After we've gone and started admitting women? A lost cause, people.”

“It was a lost cause long before that,” said Liverthatch.

“Oh, for the love of-” said Bramblenip. “Fine. Release the silence charms from the accused and I'll challenge him myself. I'm sure he's not nearly as good as he's been hyped up to be, and besides, it's not like I've got much to lose.”

Aurelius gestured and Fistibulus stretched, grinned, and said “Challenge accepted. Pure magic combat to first blood. Shall we to the dueling chamber?”

Widdershins floated up to Bramblenip and whispered something in his ear. Bramblenip blanched, then dourly piloted his chair out of the hall behind Fistibulus.

“Now,” said Aurelius, “What are we going to do with the device? If it has a soul we can't very well allow it to be used as a parlor trick.”

“It seems to have some talent for magic,” said Widdershins. “Perhaps we should enroll it as a student?”

“I. Would. Like. That.,” said the device in its strange and halting way. Aurelius had forgotten that it had been under the same silence charm.

“Then that's that,” said Aurelius “Glistapher, you can find funds for a tuition waiver for a student with a unique background, yes?” Glistapher nodded. Aurelius turned back to Widdershins. “What exactly did you say to Bramblenip there?”

Widdershins smiled wickedly. “Oh, not much. I just reminded him that the celibacy geas also applies to, ah, solitary activity.”

“You mean-”

“Unless he somehow manages to defeat the strongest dueling mage Crosswinds has seen in more than a century, he won't be able to-”

“Polish his wand?”

“Exactly. For the next five years.”

Decorum, Aurelius thought, ought to prevent wizards from sporting a broad and silly grin at the misfortune of a colleague, especially in the aftermath of the death of another of their own. But wizards were, as a rule, not particularly good at decorum.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Screen test

1585 words.

Climbing out of the valley the city cab curved and pushed upward into cleaner air. There was green here to line the roads and rock and the houses were set apart with real gardens afforded them. Streetlights neatly arrayed led the diesel car along, skirting the edge between the city below and the upmarket apartment buildings.

The cab driver glanced in the rear view and the passenger already knew what he was thinking. He rounded a corner still wet from the rain shower and looked back again. “You know. I don’t believe I’ve ever been up here before, can you believe it?”

The passenger returned the glance and gave a courtesy “Oh, no?” and then turned back to the black window, and stared through his reflection. The small lights of the city lay out behind the treeline and beneath the road and a few miles distant. The luminescence in yellow rotating around him as the car pivoted. He looked ahead and cleared his throat. “This next one, thank you,” he said.

“Man, these places are huge. Makes you wonder who owns a place like this. Like, doctors and things,” said the driver as the car navigated its way onto the driveway.

He avoided the silent question and asked the driver how much the ride was and paid him and wished him a good night before crossing the lit courtyard and climbing the steps to the first floor apartment.

Their apartment smelt like soft fruits like a shampoo or light perfume. She could have returned late from work or about to leave for an early start. He lost track of her work days long ago. He smelled like alcohol and cigarettes and looked no better in his coloured shirt pulled out at the waist and his blazer which looked worn when he bought it used a decade ago.

It had taken him a long time to feel comfortable in this place. She settled in right away, enjoying the large rooms and beautiful view of the valley. This was her style and she wanted it right away and so they took it. After all he needed only the essentials to be satisfied and she was set on the place and she was paying.

They had lived together in the city since meeting at university where she studied media and he pursued acting. They did not care that their ground floor flat was small and uncared for. Needing only a space to live and love while they chased their respective careers the flat was adequate for young lovers out of school.

His talents hadn’t paid for this. Hers did. Being dragged up the ladder and rewarded with larger salaries they found themselves able to buy their home here out of the city. His career amounted to less that the value of the car in the garage and they each knew this.

She walked into the room with wet hair and a towel. “How did your screen test go?” she asked.

“About as well as the others,” he replied, walking over to the mini bar. He pushed the bottles around and pulled out the gin and a glass. “The whole business stinks these days. They don’t want the old style any more. They don’t know what they want at all.”

“You did try though, didn’t you?” she asked. She caught the scent of old booze on his clothes and sensed his frustration through his lethargic poise.

He finished his drink and reached for the bottle once more and hesitated and let his hand fall then turned to her. “What have you heard?” he asked in a non-accusing tone. She had friends in the business and word got around quickly these days.

“It’s just that one of the girls…” she inhaled again and continued. “They heard it didn’t go so well this time.”

“Oh, no?”

“I’m not blaming you,” she went on. “But…” she faltered for a moment, reaching for a gentle tone. “There was a monologue?” she offered, granting him a chance to explain himself.

“Yeah, I did a monologue,” he said, somewhat cheerily. “I really went all out on it. Full acting, gestures. Maximum volume.”

“Screen tests usually have a short script though, don’t they?”

“Probably. Yeah there might have been a script somewhere. They were all saying the same lines and inflecting the same words like some trash soap actor. I gave them a real fright. A touch of the old way of doing things,” he had poured another drink and was holding it up before him. His sudden burst of laughter unbalanced him and he grasped a side cabinet to steady himself. “This uppity young one walked out while they were shooting. She said I was spitting on her during my acapella rendition of the Coca Cola Christmas song.”

“The what now?”

“HOOO-LI-DAYS ARE COOMINNNG!” he was laying prostrate now and resting his empty glass on his soaked shirt. “Darling, you do love me don’t you?” he asked, righting himself with his elbows.

“Yes. Don’t you think you ought to polish up your method though? Bring it a little more into line with what the producers are actually looking for?” she asked.

“The producers don’t know good acting when it’s in front of them and they are filming it and it is bellowed into their faces. They don’t want acting. They want the kind of person who follows a drat script and stands on the taped out crosses on the floor. Someone who follows ‘instruction.”

“So you’re saying that want an ac…”

“I know how to act, darling.”

“I heard you were looking at the camera on purpose.”

“Did ‘one of the girls’ tell you that too?” he said, swinging out his free arm with as much stage presence as he could remember learning from college. “Rules are meant to be broken. So I winked at the camera a couple of times. It’s how I interpreted my character.” He paced from the mini bar to the window and looked into the dark.

“You ought to be taking your career a little more seriously,” she pleaded. “It’s your dream and you should be nurturing it, not pissing it away.”

Her reflection placed her in the middle of the room and he dared not turn around. It was beginning to sound like an intervention on his lifestyle; an argument a long time coming. Despite her reassurances through the years he’d always felt he was letting her down. He was no bread winner nor did he feel he contributed more than a fraction she did.

In the beginning he believed he had charmed her with the flagrant impetuousness of his youth but as the years passed it was becoming markedly less tangible to him what it was that kept her around. And so he had fallen into maintaining his roguish pseudo thespian persona in lieu of money or pride. It was wearing thin with age and while she was steadily progressing her career it was painfully apparent to him that he remained stilted in the past and having no notion of how to remedy the situation he grew only more stubborn.

She had moved into bathroom now and was brushing her hair. The short conflict was over, she knew. He would not pursue it and she would not want him to. Part of what made their relationship endure for the decade it had was that they each never felt obliged to press the other into doing what they did not want to. But still she harboured thoughts against him that she wished she did not.

The clothes she had laid out were folded on a kitchen chair and when she walked through to collect them she saw that he had gone to bed. She dressed and checked her face in the mirror in the hall. There was a corded phone attached to the wall beside the mirror and she picked up the receiver and looked back into the mirror. Then she dialled a phone number from memory.

“Hello?” she said as she patted down her hair. “It’s me.”

“I want you to give him a part. Any part. You have the final call, please.”



“No, please. I won’t ask any more favours. I want you to do this for me.”



“But that’s practically background. You’re the producer.”



“I guess. Well, thank you. Wait, a condition? What do you want?”



She put a hand to her forehead and closed her eyes. Not again. Anything but that. She caught her own eye in the mirror and turned away. “Yes. Ok. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

The taxi weaved its way down the edge of the hills. Gaps in the treeline showed glimpses of the city rising up to meet her. Street lines crossing in thick orange, the neon lights of the night. She could almost taste the air from up here and she was descending into it. She thought of that old flat they shared as they matured together.

“He lives back then because I was drawn to him,” she thought. Her breath condensed on the window and she swallowed. “Acting the fool is all he can do. I know that he fears losing me should he change his ways so he persists with the humiliation. For me.”

“You know,” said the driver. “I always wonder what kind of people live up here. Like, doctors and things.”

She wasn’t listening. “And I cannot ask him to change for me. So I do this. For him.”

Daeres
Sep 4, 2011


First Contact

1407 words

One morning, curious signals tickled the Aemete hive mind in the ear. Little whispers from a distant star, so faint they could be mistaken for cosmic static. Almost as soon as they were detected they disappeared. But the hive mind noticed. The hive mind waited.

The signals finally returned after two weeks. The Aemete was ready, and analysed the transmissions thoroughly. There could be no doubt about it. Somewhere, not so far away, was a new interstellar civilization. The Aemete chittered with excitement, then remembered there were protocols about this sort of thing. However tedious, the niceties had to be observed.

The Aemete reached out to its peers. Unfathomable, impossible energies were hurled across the galaxy in their effort to communicate. However, there was no response at first, even after they’d tried twelve different intergalactic civilizations. The Aemete were patient. They waited. If they had possessed thumbs, they’d have twiddled them. Then, at last, there was an answer. The Nexian construct sent the following reply.

“Oh, it’s you.”

Unperturbed, the Aemete pressed on.
“So, turns out there’s a Lum category civilization in our neighborhood. Just confirmed it today.”
“Oh, you did? Well done.”
“Given the treaty and everything, we thought we’d best reach out to someone as soon as possible.”
“Quite right, quite right.”
“Looks like it’s us and you. As we recall, it’s your turn to lead FC this time.”
“Well, my recollection is that it’s your turn, but let’s not squabble over such petty details. I’ll provide the ship, and lead the First Contact. Let’s rendezvous in the Soon sector.”
The entirety of the hive mind rolled their compound eyes. Even in quantum communications the Nexian always managed to sound so officious.

Five years later, the expedition was launched. The Nexian had dubbed its consciousness into one of its robotic drones, the Aemete was sending a trio of worker caste drones to carry the hive mind to the intended destination. They were travelling in a ship specially constructed to accommodate both sets of ‘ambassadors’, which would arrive at its destination after a few days of hypertranslation transit. The optimistically named FiCoExSh-9998213 thus set off on its journey, carrying with it many hopes for the future.

It was a few hours into hypertranslation before the travellers resorted to conversation. One of the Aemete’s drones tapped its chitinous claw on a surface awkwardly.
“So when was the last time you contacted Roc-0? He’s been asking about you, you know.”
“I’ve been very busy, not all of us have the spare time to go around discovering new civilizations or chatting to sentient stars you know.” said the Nexian-dub, not looking up from its control console.
“Come on Nexy, don’t be like that. He’s getting on, you know, getting near to Stage 6 in his lifecycle. It wouldn’t hurt you to drop him a message.”
“Don’t call me Nexy unless you want me calling you Ammy.”
“We hate being called Ammy…”
Not for the first time, the Nexian wished it had given its drones the ability to smirk.

Not long afterwards, the Aemete drones started synchronised dancing.
“Must you do that?” asked the Nexian-dub.
“We’re capable of ordering the exact behaviour of nine trillion drones across three separate star systems, of overseeing quadrillions of calculations per second about absolutely everything. No, we don’t have to do that, but even a hive mind gets bored.” chittered the Aemete.
“Well, I’d really rather that you didn’t do that please.”
“Fine.”
“Good.”

As the ship approached its destination, the original signal, the whisper, grew into something much louder, and many other signals that had been lost to the void started coming into focus. The data that was coming in began to cause great excitement.
“Are you seeing this Nexy? There’s more than just communication bursts being demonstrated here, there’s complex visual and audio communications too.”
“Of course I am, I’m seeing exactly the same data you are.”
“What a strange species, we can barely make any sense out of most of this.”
“It’s not like most of what you say makes sense either.” said the Nexian-dub under its breath.
“I’m glad we decided to pursue this course of action, this is a fascinating form of consciousness.”
“As am I.” said the Nexian-dub with sincerity, much to its surprise. Despite the odiousness of the Aemete, it was finding itself increasingly certain that this had been a good idea. Its misgivings had proven inaccurate it seemed.

The data continued to become more and more intense as the hypertranslation neared completion. Only two hours were left of transit, and now almost every transmission this interstellar civilization had ever made was being detected and analysed. That was where the trouble began.
“Nexy, are you seeing these intensifying data transmission patterns?” The Aemete drones began chattering, as if highly excited.
“I am, they are after all quite obvious on all the readings.” said the Nexian-dub in its usual dull monotone.
“We feel there’s only one realistic cause of something like this, and that’s some kind of civilization-wide intercommunication network.”
“That seems reasonable… where are you going with this.”
“We think it logical to conclude that this civilization is a cybernetic hive-mind organism, we and you should proceed with First Contact accordingly.”

Despite the complexity of its processing, designed in every way to emulate a star-system spanning artificial intelligence, the Nexian-dub was temporarily lost for words.
“Okay, hold on there. Firstly, that’s a rather hasty conclusion to come to before we’ve even met the civilization in question. Secondly, I thought you asked me to be in charge of this First Contact situation, shouldn’t I be the one making the decisions about how we approach this?” said the Nexian-dub.
“Oh, so being in charge of this FC scenario means you’re not listening to well informed suggestions?” The three Aemete drones began to hiss.
“I will most certainly listen to any well informed suggestions you make, please let me know when you decide to start sharing any with me.” A harsh, electronic quality started creeping into the Nexian drone’s communications processor.

“What’s your evidence for disagreeing with our assessment?” The hissing from the worker drones grew louder.
“The lack of data.” said the Nexian-dub.
“That’s not the only reason. I can tell you’re reluctant to consider the idea that this is a hive-minded organism at all.”
“But there really isn’t any data to directly support that theory!”
“Just admit that you don’t want us to be right!” The Aemete drones screeched.
“It’s not that I don’t want you to be right, it’s that I don’t think that you are!”
“Admit it!”
“Oh grow up!”
“Admit it!”

“Here we go, it’s just like how it was last time…” said the Nexian-dub, ignoring its console entirely and turning to face the three drones.
“Don’t you dare say it’s like how things went with species 3991…” The drones’ screeching grew even louder.
“This is exactly how it went with species 3991!”
“This is nothing like the same!”
“You thought that 3991 were hive-minded because of their patterns of intercommunication via neural transmitters, you dissected one of them to see how they worked, they destroyed the envoy craft with fusion weaponry!”
“That was an honest mistake! We’re not proposing we dissect one of these creatures, we’re just suggesting that hive-mind behaviour is likely and to prepare accordingly! You think we always assume a new species is hive-minded, don’t you?”
“Yes I do!”
“And because we’re the ones that said it, that means it’s likely untrue, that it’s not worth considering!”
“Absolutely correct!”

The screeching stopped. The compound eyes of the three worker drones switched from blue to red. Their pincers opened. They began advancing on the Nexian drone, claws casually slicing into the decking below with no heed for internal damage to the ship.
“Okay, I lost my temper a little, let’s not do anything rash Aemete.” said the Nexian-dub, backing away. The Aemete drones kept coming.
“Let’s be reasonable about this.”
Those claws really are very sharp.
“Ammy?”
“We hate that name.”

If any humans had been in possession of an achronal neutrino telescope at that moment, they might have seen a great explosion of some kind, some four lightyears away. They would have worried about its cause and its meaning, perhaps for decades and decades, arming themselves in fear of what lay lurking out in the void. But they didn’t. So they didn’t.

Thus ended the First Aemete-Nexian expedition to the Humans.

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Authorial Intent
Word Count: 742

You are Marcus:
You’re sitting at your desk, feeling guilty about the murder at the end of chapter three. You tell yourself it was necessary. Inevitable. Your fingers itch for a revival, but you’re writing in the realm of realism. You can’t just go and resurrect some quirky guy you’re feeling extra attached to. So, you write him a back story. It’s mostly useless garbage about not liking popcorn, and girls he’s fondled and poo poo, but it makes you feel a little less awful about offing him so early in. You sit there thinking about him, and all the characters just like him you loved but couldn’t keep. You wonder if maybe you could have helped him hang on for just a few more pages, but you know that’s not how it works. Kill them while you can, keep them if you can’t (yet). You know they all die eventually, even if you don’t do them the honor of spilling out all the gory details. Irrelevance is a cancer all its own.

You are Yahweh:
You’re sitting at your desk, feeling guilty about not murdering Marcus at the end of volume three, chapter two-thousand-sixteen. You tell yourself it wasn’t necessary. Avoidable. You probably should have killed the bastard, but gently caress man, you just made his personality too interesting. If you’ve ever really created any characters in your image Marcus sure as poo poo is the one. You question if maybe you’ve invested just a little too much of yourself in him, but gently caress it, sometimes your voice just creeps into a character and refuses to get out. You figure it won’t really be all that unnatural to use him for commentary purposes. He’s just sitting there not really doing anything other than thinking about the process anyhow.

You are Marcus (Again):
You wonder if you’re irrelevant, too. Like you’re just some stupid character in some long-winded book God decided to write for all his buddies. Like they’re up there in heaven (which is probably just a code word for some lovely pub) and they’re all drinking and smoking and making bets on who can write the better apocalypse. And the guy to your creator’s left is talking poo poo to the girl on the right, saying her world building skills suck rear end. And she’s leaning back in the chair with the uneven legs saying, why don’t you go gently caress yourself? And the cocky motherfucker on the left is saying, why don’t you gently caress me, and she’s saying she doesn’t do fantasy. All the while God, your God, almighty author of Tales of the Earth, is just sitting there between the two, drumming his fingers on the table and trying to figure out whether or not he should kill you off or let you tell his side of the story.

You are Yahweh (Again):
You’re not even sure you want to tell your side of the story. Who would really want to read about that poo poo? You’re just some guy like all the other guys with an ink pen and coffee stains on his teeth and a nervous habit of biting his nails. You’re just a guy who goes to the pub on Sundays and orders an ale and broods over a draft and tries to tune out all the poo poo all your friends say that you don’t want to hear. All of them have got these successful worlds to brag about all bound up. Like being a creator comes naturally to them. Like they’ve got the constructs of a hundred worlds all sketched out in their head. Like they’ve got all eternity to dick around in their realms. But you’re just sitting there, trying to go unnoticed with your one manuscript that you’ve been writing since the dawn of time. And they’re making jokes about you. Like how you’re so hung up on some little square named Marcus when you ought to have snuffed out all of mankind and moved on a long time ago.

It Doesn’t Matter Who You Are:
You’re sitting there (it doesn’t matter where) and you’re realizing that if you are just some pathetic pawn in some sick gently caress’s mind then it doesn’t really matter what you think after all. So you take the pen and you write it down, all of it, every single thought you did or didn’t have. You just write it and say it’s the word of God and don’t give a gently caress who gets it.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why didn't you invest in
Thunderdome?


POLICE COPS EPISODE ONE: DETECTIVE JACK COLBY DOESN'T PLAY BY THE RULES
983 words

Detective Jack Colby slammed open the door, stomped up to Chief McSlate’s desk and slapped his badge and gun on the table.

“You’re a loose cannon, Colby,” McSlate said. “Turn in your-- wait a second.”

“I’m sick of it, chief. I’m not doing this spiel anymore.”

The sigh went out of McSlate like hot air out of the Hindenburg. This would be another one of those talks. Slowly, with the careful deliberation of a man suddenly finding himself in the middle of a minefield, he opened the drawer on his desk, pulled out a towel, wiped the bald spot on his head, put the towel back in, opened another drawer, pulled out a bottle of whiskey, remembered he hadn’t yet shut the first drawer, shut the first drawer, and took a swig from his whiskey bottle so hard half of it landed on his cheap pinstripe suit. “Aw drat.” He went for the first drawer again.

“Chief!”

“Oh.” He wiped away at his suit. He couldn’t tell if he was working on the spilt whiskey or one of the other old, dried out blots of juices and condiments. He couldn’t tell why he bothered either. “Want a drink? I think it’s Jack Daniel’s. I don’t know, there’s no label. I got it at a garage sale.”

Colby’s response was an impassive stare. He didn’t seem thirsty.

“Could also be motor oil. It’s pretty bad.”

“I can’t do this anymore,” Colby said. It spilled out of him like he’d popped a zit that had been left to swelling for a few days too long, frustration bubbling up and finally bursting through the surface. “Same worn-out poo poo every time we bust a narco op. I know, local proceedings, chief’s discretion and all. It was funny at first. But with all due respect, this is not what I signed up for. Why can’t I just submit a report like they do in every other department?”

“Well, maybe if you weren’t such a loose cannon--”

“Chief, please, I’m serious. If this isn’t going to work out I’m going to have to ask for my transfer.”

That gave McSlate pause. Detective Jack Colby was one of his best men. Narco thugs called him the “Magician”, because ever since he’d hired on to the force, the dealers of this town had seen their money vanish before their eyes. So maybe he didn’t like following local procedure. But damnit, he got results.

“I swear to God,” Colby said, “if you’re thinking to yourself about how I get results right now--”

McSlate slammed his fist on the table. “The rules are there for a reason, Jim.”

“Jack.”

“Alright, look…” McSlate’s hand froze in the air, loosely pointed in Colby’s direction, a placating gesture that seemed a little more pointless with every second that he didn’t say anything.

He closed the drawers on his desk again.

“This is a waste of time,” Colby said. “Why don’t you just tell me what the problem is? Talk to me, chief.”

The truth was, McSlate didn’t know what to say. He’d just always preferred to do things without a paper trail. That’s why he was seen as a little “eccentric” by this colleagues and subordinates, although the latter didn’t seem to mind a little wiggle room in the bureaucratic aspects of police work, unless they were busy little overachievers like good old Jim here. But it was hard to go by the book when you couldn’t read. And McSlate couldn’t. Like, literally couldn’t read. To be honest, he was a little surprised Colby still hadn’t figured out--

“You can’t read, can you chief?”

“Hu puh puh, excuse me? A police chief that can’t read?” He brought up the towel again. “That’s just silly.”

“What does it say on that badge?”

“That’s… uhh…” McSlate stammered, desperately looking for a way out, until a smug smile crept over his face. “I can’t say, it’s too far away.”

Colby picked up the badge and threw it across the table.

Like everything Colby owned, it had been polished to perfection. It was a glistening golden shield with a shining star in the middle, from the facets of which ten red-faced McSlate’s stared back at their original, then proceeded to wipe their faces with a towel. They were framed by arcane symbols, probably letters because it was impossible to make out what they said. So the chief did what he could do best: he remembered what he’d seen on television.

“It says… it says… ‘to serve and… protection’?”

Colby’s stare had turned cold and steely, a gun of a look, locked and loaded and ready to fire. “Protection?”

“Are you interrogating me?”

“Look, just admit that--”

“Because in that case let me just turn on my desk lamp real quick and--”

“Can we just…” Colby said, “can we do this? Can we please just do this and go home? Martha is making meatloaf tonight. I tell you how she gets when she handles that much meat.”

There was an opening. A man in a hurry was a man ready to compromise. “One report, just this once, and I’m not going to pretend to read it.”

Colby seemed to muse on that offer. Then, slowly, he bowed forward, dragged the badge back towards himself, picked it up along with his gun and put everything back where it belonged. He wasn’t satisfied. His body language had all the vigor and enthusiasm of a man who’d just been convicted to punching himself in the crotch a dozen times. He bowed forward again, dragged the whiskey bottle towards him, and took a big gulp.

Finally, he nodded.

And moments later, when he’d left, door slamming shut behind him, Chief McSlate wiped his face one last time, leaned back in his swivel chair, took his badge off his chest and said to his own reflection: “McSlate, you’re a loose bureaucrat. But damnit, you get results.”

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Someday, this poo poo may be included in a volume of bad stories.

Chili fucked around with this message at Jan 1, 2017 around 07:18

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


removed for publishing stuff

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at Nov 26, 2016 around 10:17

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

by Nyc_Tattoo


Vows
554 words

The six-shooter bucked in his hand and he watched Henry slide off the horse into a lifeless heap on the dirt. Brett cringed, spat blood, and looked over at her, blood on her hands and her faced streaked with tears. Somehow he’d always known it’d come to this, though he never imagined it’d be this bad.

“It was just one time, I don’ know why he took it so serious!” Alice keened.

“Don’t matter now, you’ve got us both killed anyway,” Brett said.

Brett knew Henry wasn’t the only one, either. He’d seen her holding hands with one of the Ruess boys two months before they’d wed, and he’d figured her a cheater then.

This Henry fella must’ve took it hard when she told him she wasn’t going to ditch me, Brett thought. Henry had caught them just a few miles outside of town as they headed to Alice’s mother’s house. He unloaded the whole pistol in a fit of rage, killing both their horses and giving both Brett and Alice gutshots that’d be mortal if they didn’t get back to town quick. And Brett knew that Henry’s little horse could only carry one of them.

He’d just wished that Henry had better aim. Least that way Brett wouldn’t have to make a decision now.

Brett chewed idly at his thumb, then slowly took his wedding band off and flung it into the dirt. Alice sobbed.

“You know I’m sorry, and you know I love you more than anyone else,” she said.

“You’re always sorry,” Brett grunted.

“If I thought it’d come to this, I wouldn’t have done it,” she said, more to herself than anyone else.

“No need for both of use to pay for your mistake,” Brett said. He rolled onto his side so he could see her better.

He looked deep into those same brown eyes he fell in love with five years ago. He loved her even though she was a mess, and always would. Until death do them part.

“You’d better get on if you know what’s good for you,” Brett said.

Fresh tears streamed down her cheeks. “Really?” she asked. “You don’t mean that.”

“Get,” he said.

“You were the only one I knew would never leave. I can’t imagine a life without you,” she said through ragged breaths. “It was my fault, and I’m the one who should stay.”

Those brown eyes smiling up at him on their wedding day. He knew full well the heartache he was signing up for then, and now it was time to see it through.
He turned the gun on her. “Alice, you listen here. If you don’t get, I’ll put another one in both of us, and I swear I got better aim than your boy over there,” he said.

He watched the color drain out of her face as his rebuke sunk in. “Take this to remember me by,” he said, and flung the ring in her face.

She crawled to the horse and painfully hauled herself up. She looked at him a last time, and her tears had run dry. Maybe she was just glad she’d live, or maybe her love had been an act in the first place, Brett thought.

“You deserved better than me,” she said.

“I know,” he muttered.

She turned and rode away.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Vin
1711 words

It seemed to Vin that his first memory was of hot, thick darkness, and a voice. Mewling. Pleading. Guided by pure instinct, he’d groped his way toward that voice. As it grew louder, the darkness became thinner, cooler. Then came the firestorm of sensory information. Fists raining down on him like apocalypse, linoleum under his little knees, his little hands raised to fend off the attack.

I don’t have hands, he’d thought. Then: What are hands?

“YOU KNOW BETTER!” boomed a big voice, a voice that matched the power behind those merciless fists. “YOU GO TO BED WHEN I SAY.”

“I don’t know I don’t know Idon’tknooow,” said Vin’s mouth. The voice that came out was small, high-pitched. That was when Vin became aware of his other, the original resident of the little body he now occupied. Her name was Jamie. Everything hurt. Her eyes were shut against the fury that occupied every inch of her senses.

What is this? Vin demanded. Why is this happening to us? He’d never known pain, but there was something intrinsically wrong with a small little body being overcome by a bigger one. Jamie couldn’t or wouldn’t answer him. As her outer voice begged for mercy and promised she’d be good, her inner voice keened grief and confusion.

Vin stepped forward. He opened her eyes. They were in a narrow galley-style kitchen, a pocket dimension of clutter and decay. Their assailant was a rotund man wearing a stained blue sweatshirt that bore the words TEXAS RANGERS. Ignoring the percussive blows to their head and shoulders, Vin balled up one of Jamie’s little fists and socked the man in his round gut. It probably hurt Vin and Jamie more than it hurt Jamie’s dad, but it was enough to give the big man pause.

What now? Vin had asked Jamie.

Run, she’d whispered.

.

Jamie had come a long way since the day she turned up at the neighbor’s house, bruised and bloodied. The hospital, the foster homes, and her eventual emancipation were like a half-forgotten childhood dream. She was thirty now, had a decent job as a graveyard manager at a trendy twenty-four hour gastropub.

Vin was the only thing she still carried from those days. Vin, as in Vin Diesel, as in the thick-necked action movie teddy bear. Jamie wasn’t an idiot. She knew the real actor was out there, aged and retired, sure, but still very much his own person, and very much unaware of Jamie’s existence. But she’d grown up on his movies, so it made sense that he would come to her as the archetype of strength and protection in her time of need.

For twenty years, Vin had been her only friend. But every now and then, she’d get a hankering for something different than friendship.

What’re we doing? he asked in his gravely thought-voice.

“You know we’re going to a boy’s house,” Jamie said, taking one last look in the mirror. “It’s not like you don’t read my emails.”

Vin didn’t reply, but Jamie felt a surge of disappointment like vertigo.

“If you don’t behave, I’m going to get us blackout drunk and make you front while we barf,” Jamie warned him. She gathered up her jacket and headed for the front door.

What? You’re gonna make me deal with the brunt of your poor decision making? How unlike you.

“And if you keep being a sass-mouth, I’m gonna make us watch weird porn when we get home.”

Better than watching some guy gently caress you and never call again.

They were outside now, on a busy city sidewalk. Jamie switched to her inner voice. Tell you what, she said. I think I need another controlling man in my life. Why don’t you take over and make all my decisions for me? When Jamie thought about it, in that small corner of her mind where Vin couldn’t see, she kind of liked that the men she dated were mostly one-and-done-type guys. A man who served his purpose and disappeared was a novelty.

Vin gave her the silent treatment for the rest of the walk, though she could feel him fuming. His anger was like something decaying at the bottom of a pond, releasing bubbles of gas that send ripples through the placid surface of her consciousness.

.

Her date’s name was Cayden. His loft apartment was all exposed concrete, chrome fixtures, and tastefully-framed minimalist art. There was a slight hint of bleach in the air, which Jamie found comforting. Growing up in squalor with an addict made you appreciate the relative proximity of cleanliness to godliness.

Oh good, we’re going to bone a control freak, Vin said. At least make sure he’s not into breath play.

He’ll be into whatever I say he’s into, Jamie replied.

Cayden poured them each a glass of wine, then beckoned her to join him on the cream-colored leather sofa. There was a shameless hunger in his eyes as he watched her take a sip.

Jamie felt her hand reach for the hem of her minidress and hike it up to expose more of her thighs. Just helping things along, Vin said bitterly. Jamie shoved him aside and pulled her skirt back down. Cayden raised his eyebrows, but didn’t acknowledge it.

They drank their wine and talked about this and that. Their jobs. The weather. They gradually moved from small talk to flirty talk, laughing over past flings and awkward hookups. Jamie drained her wine and Cayden poured her another.

Something’s not right. Vin’s gravely voice was distant, muffled as though by water. I think he put something in our drink.

Nice try. Maybe I should save him the trouble and tell him we’re down to gently caress, Jamie replied dreamily. She’d had two glasses of wine on an empty stomach. Of course she felt a little woozy. Of course the edges of things were a little fuzzier. And anyway, James Brown had hit the nail on the head when he penned It’s a Man’s Man’s World. Jamie was just happy when they took pleasure instead of offering pain.

She was on her feet before she realized that Vin had taken over. “Sorry,” her mouth said, “I gotta go.”

Cayden filled her vision, his face warped and spread like she was viewing him through a fisheye lens. In her periphery, the walls pulsed and flexed.

“You’re not in any condition to walk anywhere,” he said in a low, even voice. “Let me call you a cab.”

gently caress OFF, Jamie said. She tried to shove Vin aside like she always did, but the liquor and who-knows-what-else made her feel like her consciousness was weighted down with cinder blocks. I don’t care what he does. I don’t care. I just want to feel someone that isn’t you inside of me. I don’t care.

“That would be real swell,” her mouth said in reply to Cayden’s offer. He went for the phone. She sank back down onto the couch.

There’s some poo poo you can’t force me to watch, Vin said. Maybe I don’t consent. Did you ever think of that?

“I never asked you to be a part of me,” Jamie said, just before a sharp blow to the back of her head obliterated all argument.

.

Vin was alone. There was darkness, then the smell of bleach cutting through that darkness like a white-hot knife made of acid. Jamie’s arms were bound behind him. He opened Jamie’s eyes, found they were naked and on their back in a bathtub. Up above, the white ceiling was splotched with mildew.

Not such a clean-freak after all, he thought. A rueful laugh escaped Jamie’s lips. The laugh drew the attention of Cayden. He appeared out of Jamie’s periphery, loomed over Jamie’s body like a thunderhead.

“You make another sound, I’m going to hurt you more than you can imagine,” Cayden said in that same low, even voice.

“I’ll kill you with your goddamn loofah,” Vin said, and swung both of his feet up to deliver an awkward kick to the side of Cayden’s head.

loving bitch! Should’ve stayed knocked out,” Cayden howled, clutching at his left temple. With action-hero speed, Vin maneuvered onto his knees in the empty tub. He bashed his forehead into Cayden’s sent the man sprawling onto his back. On the floor, next to the toilet, was an array of knives and saws arrayed on a ratty towel.

Head spinning, Vin willed Jamie’s body to clamor to its feet. It did, though their head spun and the walls still pulsed and heaved like lungs.

Just let it go, dude. Jamie’s voice was ragged and soft in their mind. I don’t care. I really don’t care. Let’s just go to sleep.

You’re not exactly in a condition to make that call, Vin growled.

I’m the only one who can make that call, Jamie said. I’m sick of being a lonely, two-brained weirdo. I’m tired.

They sank back down to their knees in the tub.

Then let me live our life, Vin said. I’ve always wanted the best for us, even if you think we don’t deserve it.

We’re dead anyway. I don’t want it to hurt any more than it has to.

The exchange took no more than two seconds, but it was enough time for Cayden to recover. He reached for one of his knives, brought it down on Jamie’s chest--

Vin caught his wrist with Jamie’s hand. Her manicured nails glistened candyapple red. The blade had just nicked her chest; a trickle of blood ran down the length of her sternum. Their eyes locked with Cayden’s.

Once upon a time, Jamie made Vin watch every movie, every single work that his namesake had been in. He knew all the lines, all the moves, every nuance of the actor’s swagger.

“You break her heart, I’ll break your neck,” Vin said, and threw Cayden backward hard enough that the would-be killer’s skull collided with the corner of the artisanal granite counter top. Cayden collapsed to the floor, convulsing like a dying prey animal.

Jamie was speechless in their mind.

“See? I always thought you were wasting your potential,” Vin said. He stepped out of the bathtub, squatted down, and used one of Cayden’s knives to saw at the rope binding their wrists.

SkaAndScreenplays
Dec 11, 2013


The Art Of War: 860 Words
“Daaaaaamn!” Merf’s enthusiasm did nothing to quell the rage boiling up inside of Fist.

“You you wouldn’t be so hype if someone bit on you like this.” Fist’s reply was accompanied by a sweeping gesture to the source of his frustration. The wall behind him, previously home to one of the oldest and best murals in the city was now painted black. The name NOPE! emblazoned in white and gold straight letter.

“Nah unk, you ain’t even got bit on,” Zorro chimed in as he lit up a smoke, “You got mauled. Don’t even try to act like that ain’t a burner.”

“Who the gently caress is Nope anyways?” Fist was indignant, “I haven’t seen this clown up anywhere else in the city. Who the gently caress is he to step to me like this?”

“Who the gently caress is you to complain about it?” Merf interjected, “Now is we out here to bitch or is we out here to bomb?”

“Yeah, let’s get to it.” Fist sighed, “It’s one just one piece and we’re all-city. I ain’t gonna let some toy get under my skin.”

The vandal squad made their way into the night. The rattle of spray cans foretold their arrival at every new spot. The hiss of aerosol preceded their swift departure. For hours they walked up and down the streets of Cream City. Leaving their names on every choice wall, bus shelter and mailbox they passed.

“Alright, I’m packing it in.” Fist said through a yawn. “I got work in like 8 hours.”

“You sure you don’t wanna hit one more spot,” Merf pointed at a billboard and smirked, “You gonna bite back or nope?”

Fist didn’t have the energy or willpower to resist the offer. Like a beacon of opportunity he saw NOPE! sprayed in block letters on the forehead of some smug local politician. Pulling himself up the ladder with a backpack full of paint was no mean feat. He took a moment to catch his breath as he reached the platform. Fist carefully wrote his name over this new rival’s, adding a crown to the head of his piece and the politician for good measure. He stepped back, making certain that anyone who saw his work would also be able to read the name below as well.

“That poo poo’s hot yo!” Zorro yelled from somewhere below.

“I ain’t done yet.” Fist said as he pulled out an ink mop. In dripping red letters he scrawled Don’t start none, won’t be none!” just before sliding down the ladder and calling it a night.

It was on the bus to work that afternoon that Fist knew he had made an enemy. The gold-line was his turf. It had been for nearly as long as he’d been bombing. Every tag he’d made had gone over. An endless stream of taunts mocking him for a night of work now wasted.

The call box on State & Hawley; NOPE!

The bridge on Harmonee & Harwood; NOPE!

The bus shelter outside the zoo on Bluemound; NOPE!

The amount of damage his invisible enemy had done was absolutely astonishing. Most of it had to have been in broad daylight two. Fist knew what he had to do. He was going to have to fight for each and every spot in his city.

The months that followed were a war of attrition. The proliferation of graffiti in the city was driven by FIST and NOPE, but their public war inspired dozens of others to donate art to the public forum. Fist had had enough when he found another of his best pieces replaced by that all familiar NOPE! painted into the sole of a boot. He wasn’t about to let that first sleight slide any longer.

Fist found himself alone at the place where it all began. He snapped a couple pictures of the piece he was about to write over. Zorro was right, he thought, it is a straight burner. Whatever… Time to do some damage. The rattle of the paint can broke the silence as he stepped up to the wall.

“What in the gently caress do you think you’re doing mate?” The voice was unfamiliar, female, distinctly Australian. Fist turned to put a face to it.

“Eh, I’m just painting this wall. Is that not a thing where you’re from?” He wasn’t quite sure why he’d phrased it that way.

“Nah mate, it definitely is, and that’s my wall.” The words confirmed what Fist already suspected. So this was NOPE...

“Must not have the same rules from back on your penal colony then.” He said, voice dripping in snark. “Cause I was up on this longer than you’ve been in this country.”

“Fist?” His nemesis asked.

“Nope?” Fist laughed at the unintended meaning.

“poo poo, this was a black wall when I hit it. If I’d have known.” Her tone was sincerely apologetic.”

“Oh gently caress, that means I went over you for like… no reason.” Fist choked back his pride. “poo poo, I’m sorry.”

“Eh, I can’t say it ain’t been fun.” Nope replied.

“Hell, this is awkward,” Fist tossed a can to the stranger, “I’m not good at apologies, so gently caress it. Wanna go bombing?”

Blastinus
Feb 28, 2010

Let's see what fate has in store.



Shit.


A Typical Denny's Lunch Hour - 1093 words

High noon at Denny’s, two men were seated at a table; the first young, tall and lanky, the second middle-aged, stocky and shorter. Some oldies rock song was playing, only to be drowned out by a screeching toddler in the booth next to them. It didn’t really matter. Neither of them was paying attention anyway.

“I’ll have the iced tea, please. No lemon,” the tall man ordered. By all accounts, he was overdressed for the venue, just a necktie short of business professional, his short brown hair impeccably combed. This was only natural, since he was on break from an accounting firm just downtown.

The accountant stared over at his counterpart, still engrossed in the menu. He seemed a bit more sensibly dressed for a family diner, wearing a green polo shirt and tan khakis. His head reminded the accountant of a fuzzy cantaloupe, and he wondered if this guy was military or police. Maybe he was just a bodybuilder.

“And for you, sir?” the waiter asked, not impolitely, but with the air of someone who really had to be somewhere else. Seconds passed, and then the waiter sighed and said “I’ll come back later.”

Silence reigned over the table. The toddler went up an octave.

“I hate it when they try to rush you,” the thick-set man finally spoke. “I suppose introductions are in order,” he said, leaning back in his seat, insofar as these wooden blocks would actually bend, that is. His harsh blue eyes pierced through the accountant’s forehead. “You start.”

“Me?” The scrawny young man slapped his hand down. “You’re the one who called me here! How’d you even get my number anyway?”

“That’s a great question.” The stocky man began counting on his numbers. “Truth be told, I already know your name, where you work, even why you don’t like lemon in your tea. Yeah, I know a lot about you, Nathan.”

If there was color in his face to begin with, Nathan, or Nate as he preferred to be called, would have gone pale at that point. He almost rose to his feet, but the other man’s gaze drove him downward. “Who are you?” Nathan demanded, wondering if he should start begging for his life.

“Call me Archie. Here’s my card.” Archie pulled out a brown leather wallet, remarkably mundane-looking, and slid a business card across the table to the accountant. Nate read it, looked at Archie, read it again, and groaned.

Archie finally betrayed a smile. “My daughter tells me that you don’t want to talk to me.”

“I-I have to use the bathroom.”

“Sit.” Nathan stayed seated. “Mind telling me why?”

“Why…why what?”

“Why not talk to me? Afraid I’ll say no?”

“N-No. I just…“

“Are we ready to order?” the waiter cut in, placing the iced tea.

“I’ll have a coffee. Bold.”

“Alright. How about the entrees?” The waiter turned to Nathan who was gripping the table like he might fall through the floor. Pursing his lips, he said “In a bit, then?”

“Y-yeah,” Nathan stammered and waited for the waiter to amble off. “When…when a guy looks like…you know…”

“Deep breaths, son. Relax.”

“Alright,” he sighed, running his hands down his face. “Fine, yes. I thought you were going to say no. I mean, she’s told me stories. You know, about you. I don’t hunt, I don’t fish. I figured you’d call me a wuss, tell me I was no good for your daughter, that she needed a ‘real man’ and are you even listening?”

The whole time Nathan was talking, Archie was reading the menu again. Once the stream of words had stopped, he gave a sideways glance at his prospective son-in-law. “Well, you’re right about one thing,” he grumbled, looking at the prices on burgers. “But it’s not just because you look like you’re a hundred pounds in the rain.”

“Huh?”

Archie slapped the menu down and leveled a finger in Nate’s face. “Let me tell you something. If you think that you know better than my daughter how to handle your relationship, you’ve got another thing coming.”

“What are you talking about?” Staring sideways, Nathan noticed that the parents of the crying child had left their own problems behind and were watching this conversation with rapt interest.

“My daughter would have been proud to bring you home, you bastard! Steady job, nice car, okay kid. We’d have been glad to have you as a son. But you had to go and say it.” He put on a squeaky, mincing voice. “’We don’t have to tell your parents. It can just be the two of us.’ Bullshit!” Nathan recoiled back at the sudden exclamation. “You just didn’t want to face the possibility that we wouldn’t let you have her; that you couldn’t have a beautiful, talented girl who, for god knows what reason, thought you were actually worth something!”

From out of nowhere, something stirred within this accountant’s scrawny frame. Before he knew it, he’d sprung to his feet and was shouting, “Oh yeah? Well maybe your daughter doesn’t need someone telling her who she can and can’t marry! She doesn’t even live with you anymore, so why is this any of your business?”

“She made it my business! Who do you think I heard it from?” Archie had risen as well, only to hear that all-too-familiar voice from behind.

“Your coffee, sir?”

“Oh right. Thanks.” Slowly falling into his chair, coffee cup in hand, Archie let the waiter bolt for safety before continuing. “You hurt her feelings, you know that?” Archie sighed. “Hurt her bad.”

“I didn’t mean to,” Nate muttered, pouring sweetener into his tea. “It wasn’t like I was saying we’d elope or anything.”

Archie poured some sugar packets into his coffee, took a sip, and put some more in, “So, you’re gonna apologize to her, right?”

“I mean, I guess I have to.”

“Wrong answer. You gonna do it or not?”

“Uh, yeah, I mean sure. Of course I will.”

“And then?”

“I don’t know. I guess that-“

Archie shot another piercing look.

“I mean, I’m GOING TO talk with her. See what she wants to do.”

“Good plan. Always good to listen.” Another sip of coffee. Another sip of tea.

“So…” Nathan volunteered, “Does this mean we’re cool?”

Archie smirked and swirled his cup around. “Well, you’re still a wimp, but there’s some hope for you. We’re doing separate checks, right?”

Nathan opened his mouth in protest, and shrugged. “Yeah, sure. I’ll handle the tip.”

“Better not be a big one. This coffee tastes like poo poo.”

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


ok im closing entries

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

Fjgj

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

ty flerp

It's going to be about 24 hours from now until judgment is rendered.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


Late crit but

Ska and Screenplays - Terrible Purpose
This story made me more than a little mad. Proofreading errors and a hard-to-follow story that I must give a bit of a stretch to fit the prompt. You tease who Justice is but ultimately blueball us on a reveal, and that's disappointing.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Sitting Here posted:

Ent: 6.25/10
Merc: 5/10

Mercedes posted:

Sitting Here 9/10
Broenheim 5/10

flerp posted:

Ent: 4/10
Merc: 5/10

Entenzahn posted:

flerp - 4/10
sh - 6/10

Entenmerc Flerpinghere brawl results!

SH total: 15
Ent total: 10.25
Merc total: 10
Flerp total: 9

That means me and Ent win. Yay! Except really, we all lose because we had to read each other's writing. Let that be a lesson to all of us.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

Thunderdome 2016teen: Really, we all lose because we had to read each other's writing.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

RESULTS - THUNDERDOME WEEK 218 - DUEL NATURE

***Thanks to Hammer Bro. for stepping in at the last minute as the third judge.***

There wasn't a whole lot to get excited about this week. A lot of stories had good turns of phrase or an interesting premise that got wasted on ham-fisted dialogue or straightforward moralizing.

But one story stood out for all of us, and so I'm passing the baton back to SurrpetitiousMuffin. Congrats on the win.

ND 52 takes TV reruns as a coping mechanism for a father and son moving on from tragedy. Strong symbolism with the deprecated road signs packages the whole thing nicely.

For writing in a clear genre voice, Your Sledgehammer earns an HM.

Vows wasn't perfect, but it hit all the notes for pulp cowboy fiction.

Unfortunately, Daeres gets a DM for First Contact.

It was just too much gobbledygook for a punchline that's been done a thousand times. It really could have been half this length or less and still had the same point. If you rewrote this after watching some Twilight Zone episodes or something I think it would be more successful. Less Star Trek speak and more about the issue would have helped.

The dialogue formatting made it a little tough to read, so that didn't do you any favors. Put an extra line break between them for readability.

And finally, another rookie gets eaten by Thunderdome.

Beige is the LOSER for Screen Test.

I don't know if you ran out of time or what, because the beginning of this starts out fine. Then it's like your brain melted half-way through.

The actor character is such a pill I can't understand why his sugarmama would want to support him at all, let alone sleep with a producer to get him a part. None of it is very realistic, and I can give a pass to inaccuracies in the auditioning world, but this guy is just too much. The worst part though, are the woman's rationalizations. It's the most convoluted way to say "he's living in the past because he's afraid of losing me."

Keep at it though. Another week and different characters and you might climb out of the basement.

More detailed crits from all of us in the next couple days.

SurreptitiousMuffin - WINNER
Your Sledgehammer - HM
Daeres - DM
Beige - LOSER

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Ham-based crits!

Jitzu_the_Monk

Your first paragraph does well. It establishes the desperation of a main character, taps into the anti-establishment zeitgeist, and gives me a reason to empathize with him.

Tragically, you immediately move on to ham-fisted exposition. I do not have nearly enough empathy for the protagonist yet to endure this much Telling and repetition. I already got that he hates Headhop, and considering how encyclopedic it is you might've been better off without mention of the sister.

That means you could've saved 293 words of my life. I'll never get those back.

More exposition in Scene Two, this time in the form of dialogue nobody would ever say. "Hey, remember how right now I'm judging you because I made a Big Mistake? Let's come back to that later."

The third scene advances what little plot there is, but it's so dry and uninteresting I have trouble forming thoughts about it. I have trouble forming thoughts in proximity to it. It feels aggressively uninteresting.

The fourth scene also falls flat. More exposition, this time from an even less developed character. The twist(?) ending is about as far from Orwellian as one can get.

Your characters aren't really interacting with each other or contesting directly -- instead they're both talking to me, the reader, about their goals which happen to be in conflict. I didn't write this prompt so we could have wooden characters think aloud at us. Actually, I didn't write this prompt at all, but I don't think that's what Jib had in mind when he wrote it, either. You were supposed to get into the heads of the protagonists, that way their actions would be justifiable and relatable. Instead you gave us First Person Present Tense, which at best only serves to make the narrative more confusing. It also adds a weird, inappropriate sense of urgency to something I caren't one whit about.

Rotisserie Breakfast Sausage

Some Strange Flea

I like the mood established by the first paragraph. It's contemplative. I don't want to point out all of the individual details you've employed, but you've really got a knack for them. Almost nothing felt inappropriate or wasteful, hard to do in a limited word-count, and a few of them ("in a way no-one has ever done by accident") resonate quite strongly.

The "Not a smile. Not for him." line does a fantastic job of implying backstory and getting me interested in its resolution. I know that there's history and stubbornness, but I don't know what or why.

On my first readthrough I can't tell if the male protagonist has physically matured (narrower jaw, healed scar, taller) or if something more exotic (robots or reincarnation?) is going on -- he was using a different name for reasons unknown.

I like his rationalizations -- he comes off as probably in the wrong but relatable. The imagery of his singular path of trials is probably the most impactful piece of prose for me. While he could come across as a (n android?) stalker, instead he is shackled with tragic determination.

Lisa's metaphorical paragraph was the only point where you started to lose me. There are enough unresolved implications right before it that I want to digest them (actually want to know more; that's rare in the 'dome) and so the visual imagery feels distracting. My brain is still trying to work out the significance of the scabs on her back.

But you get me right back with Question One. Enough so that I scrolled up to re-read questions two and three.

The last scene brings some resolution, but it leaves a lot of things open. Which is what I like most about this piece -- it's evocative.

But there also isn't enough on the hook that I want to try to puzzle it out myself. It's the kind of thing I'd probably look up spoilers for, and then retroactively appreciate it based on how well they paid off. I also think my head's in a slightly weird place right now because I won't let go of the idea that they've all had some kind of cybernetic alterations performed on them. You link very specific physical locations with their motivating feelings, and it seems to me like more significance was intended than mere suggestive imagery.

A Savory Pork Chop eaten at a Mystery Dinner Theater with Seasonings I Can't Quite Identify but also I'm Distracted

sparksbloom

I stumbled a bit in the opening scene. Other than "matronly" (and perhaps the name "Doris"), you didn't convey that Doris was old. So I start off thinking they're comparably-aged adults, and when Lenny is crawling around in the cupboards and calls her "mom", I downgrade him to a youngster, despite the previous mention of his work-talk. Lenny also sounds like a kid's name.

So when you say "ever since his divorce there wasn't much soft left in him", first I think that it's a good line for painlessly establishing some backstory. Then I realize you said "his divorce", and I'm confused. He can't have divorced his mom, and in my head he's too young to have been married.

It's a weird tangent, but we had an implicit failure in communication between writer and reader. I think I liked the details well enough, but my attention has been by this point thoroughly diverted.

Things are cleared up entirely on the next scene, but I lost my momentum before I got there. I think you swapped a "she" with "he" on that paragraph, which isn't helping my sense of stability. Also "couldn't" -> "shouldn't"? Those feel like odd errors in the otherwise smooth (my distraction notwithstanding) narrative.

While I like the "Maybe they didn't tell you this" line in theory, its placement is jarring. I'm under the impression that this scene should be from Lenny's point of view (maybe biased by the similar structure adopted by the previous stories), so something that's first directed at me (with "you") then from Doris' point of view (coupled with a few odd word choices and apparent editing errors prior) makes it another tripwire.

You're starting to win me over with the introduction of plausible senility. Now both characters are in conflict and their motivations feel sensible.

I'm glad you agree that Lenny is a kid's name, enough so that you worked it into the narrative. Though he still sounds like a bit of a pain in the neck even from his own dialogue.

I do like what you've done with the ending. I empathize more greatly with Doris, but then Leo just up and steals victory. I feel like I would've enjoyed this story decently if I didn't hit so many stumbling blocks; there is a decent amount of heart to it.

Ribs left Directly Over the Fire for Too Long

Thranguy

An acceptable first paragraph. I like the silliness of the names, although I feel like I've read "Fistibulus" before.

The silliness has yet to let me down, though I was hoping their duel was actually merely the eating of figs, or some other ritual evolved into obscurity. The humorous tension between the formality implied by wizards and professors compared with their actions is satisfying.

Feels appropriate and perhaps commentary-y that they're voting on his charges, then immediately voting on the verdict themselves.

Got an audible laugh out of the big punchline.

I don't have a lot to say about this piece, but that's a good thing. You were going for some silly humor and you succeeded. The mental imagery is pleasant, and there was ample will-dueling. Plus I liked all of the characters involved, even if they were mostly one-dimensional. But the point of the story wasn't characterization.

Pepperoni from the Pack while the Pizza is Cooking

Beige

Oh dear. This one needs some work. I thought I was losing my brains due to fatigue, which perhaps I am, but there are a whole slew of awkward phrases and run-on sentences and passive voices in this piece. Since you're new, I'll opine on it line-by-line:

Beige posted:

Screen test

1585 words.

Climbing out of the valley the city cab curved and pushed upward into cleaner air. Awkward, but normally passable. Except that we're all salty and jaded in the Thunderdome. In flash fiction, and our modern world of ADD, people can't be bothered to read something unless it hooks them immediately. Sometimes that can be accomplished in the first paragraph, but it's best to try to hook the reader in with the first sentence. Especially when: There was green here to line the roads and rock and the houses were set apart with real gardens afforded them. Passive voice, odd construction, run-on sentence or maybe it's just missing a few words that would assist with my reading-comprehension. Streetlights neatly arrayed led the diesel car along, skirting the edge between the city below and the upmarket apartment buildings.

The cab driver glanced in the rear view and the passenger already knew what he was thinking. By not naming your character ("the passenger"), you're distancing us from him. That's not what you want in a sympathy piece. He rounded a corner still wet from the rain shower and looked back again. “You know. I don’t believe I’ve ever been up here before, can you believe it?”

The passenger returned the glance and gave a courtesy “Oh, no?” and then turned back to the black window, and stared through his reflection. Meandering sentence. The small lights of the city lay out behind the treeline and beneath the road and a few miles distant. Weird and clunky The luminescence in yellow rotating around him as the car pivoted. Oof. Is English not your first language? He looked ahead and cleared his throat. “This next one, thank you,” he said.

“Man, these places are huge. Makes you wonder who owns a place like this. Like, doctors and things,” said the driver as the car navigated its way onto the driveway. Saying no more about "navigated", I don't really buy that a taxi driver would say, "Whoa, seems like only weirdos would go to that stop you're going to. Don't forget to tip."

He avoided the silent question and asked the driver how much the ride was and paid him and wished him a good night before crossing the lit courtyard and climbing the steps to the first floor apartment. Four "and"s, zero commas!

Their apartment smelt like soft fruits like a shampoo or light perfume. Like... like? She could have returned late from work or about to leave for an early start. Bad construction, and again you're distancing me from the second protagonist. He lost track of her work days long ago. [/b]Work schedule?[/b] He smelled like alcohol and cigarettes and looked no better in his coloured shirt pulled out at the waist and his blazer which looked worn when he bought it used a decade ago. Three "and"s, zero commas, and I had to scroll to the right to complete that sentence.

It had taken him a long time to feel comfortable in this place. She settled in right away, enjoying the large rooms and beautiful view of the valley. This was her style and she wanted it right away and so they took it. While less clunky than many of the other sentences, it's expository. You're just declaring things in an encyclopedic fashion, which makes for very dry reading. One of the most common pieces of advice when starting out is, "Show, don't tell." You could've achieved much greater impact if "He pulled his coat tighter about him, as if the thin fabric could protect him from the yawing emptiness of a three thousand square foot apartment." Now we know he's uncomfortable and lives in a big place, but it's been presented in a much more engaging fashion. After all he needed only the essentials to be satisfied and she was set on the place and she was paying. Awkwardly written. Also, I only need some calories for dinner, but am I going to complain if a roommate serves up a heaping pile of spaghetti? Your sentence doesn't even convey what you want it to, which is that the male protagonist is uncomfortable in opulence.

They had lived together in the city since meeting at university where she studied media and he pursued acting. They did not care that their ground floor flat was small and uncared for. Needing only a space to live and love while they chased their respective careers the flat was adequate for young lovers out of school. Again, very dryly descriptive. Also minor awkwardness that I don't really want to point out every instance of. Another good rule for starts: don't start sentences with -ing verbs. I don't know why most novice writers are attracted to it, but the common usage generally creates a stumbling block of awkward tense.

His talents hadn’t paid for this. Hers did. Being dragged up the ladder and rewarded with larger salaries they found themselves able to buy their home here out of the city. His career amounted to less that the value of the car in the garage and they each knew this. This is the first paragraph that gives me a glimmer of hope, but it's buried quite deeply. I'll talk more about what worked outside the line-crit.

She walked into the room with wet hair and a towel. “How did your screen test go?” she asked.

“About as well as the others,” he replied, walking over to the mini bar. He pushed the bottles around and pulled out the gin and a glass. “The whole business stinks these days. They don’t want the old style any more. They don’t know what they want at all.” Your dialogue is all right. This sounds like how people would talk, which is a good step up from most of your descriptive prose.

“You did try though, didn’t you?” she asked. She caught the scent of old booze on his clothes and sensed his frustration through his lethargic poise.

He finished his drink drat, that was quick. and reached for the bottle once more and hesitated and let his hand fall then turned to her. Ands without interruption. “What have you heard?” he asked in a non-accusing tone. She had friends in the business and word got around quickly these days.

“It’s just that one of the girls…” she inhaled again and continued. “They heard it didn’t go so well this time.”

“Oh, no?”

“I’m not blaming you,” she went on. “But…” she faltered for a moment, reaching for a gentle tone. “There was a monologue?” she offered, granting him a chance to explain himself. Right now I feel a little bit of sympathy for her, as she really does want to believe the best out of him. Even if neither of them have names.

“Yeah, I did a monologue,” he said, somewhat cheerily. “I really went all out on it. Full acting, gestures. Maximum volume.”

“Screen tests usually have a short script though, don’t they?” I'm not familiar enough with acting lingo to be confident that monologues imply unscripted, so this doesn't come across as clearly as it could.

“Probably. Yeah there might have been a script somewhere. They were all saying the same lines and inflecting the same words like some trash soap actor. I gave them a real fright. A touch of the old way of doing things,” he had poured another drink and was holding it up before him. The dialogue and the actions should be two separate sentences here. They are not directly related. Also I had forlornly hoped, when you said "fright", that the protagonists were ghosts and a screen check involved haunting old antenna-based televisions, whereas all the modern ghosts just sneak in product placement or something disappointingly pedestrian. His sudden burst of laughter unbalanced him and he grasped a side cabinet to steady himself. You say "His sudden burst of laughter" as though I should've been familiar with it. “This uppity young one walked out while they were shooting. She said I was spitting on her during my acapella rendition of the Coca Cola Christmas song.”

“The what now?”

“HOOO-LI-DAYS ARE COOMINNNG!” he was laying prostrate now and resting his empty glass on his soaked shirt. Wasn't that supposed to be "Santa Claus is coming"? “Darling, you do love me don’t you?” he asked, righting himself with his elbows. I will say that you're careful to keep subsequent dialogue in the same paragraph restricted to the same character.

“Yes. Don’t you think you ought to polish up your method though? Bring it a little more into line with what the producers are actually looking for?” she asked.

“The producers don’t know good acting when it’s in front of them and they are filming it and it is bellowed into their faces. They don’t want acting. They want the kind of person who follows a drat script and stands on the taped out crosses on the floor. Someone who follows ‘instruction.” I get that you're demonstrating his lack of self-awareness but it seems hard to swallow that someone could say something like that in what I perceive to be all-seriousness. "They want someone competent."

“So you’re saying that want an ac…”

“I know how to act, darling.”

“I heard you were looking at the camera on purpose.”

“Did ‘one of the girls’ tell you that too?” he said, swinging out his free arm with as much stage presence as he could remember learning from college. In my mind he's still laying prostrate when he does this. That's a funny mental image, but I don't think it's what you intended. “Rules are meant to be broken. So I winked at the camera a couple of times. It’s how I interpreted my character.” He paced from the mini bar to the window and looked into the dark.

“You ought to be taking your career a little more seriously,” she pleaded. “It’s your dream and you should be nurturing it, not pissing it away.”

Her reflection placed her in the middle of the room and he dared not turn around. It was beginning to sound like an intervention on his lifestyle; an argument a long time coming. No comments yet because all of that read decently well. Despite her reassurances through the years he’d always felt he was letting her down. This may be the first bit of sentiment that allows me to empathize with him. He seems to be the primary protagonist, but there's been very little for me to identify with. Wanting to please others and perhaps perceiving failure is a relatable quality. He was no bread winner nor did he feel he contributed more than a fraction she did.

In the beginning he believed he had charmed her with the flagrant impetuousness of his youth but as the years passed it was becoming markedly less tangible to him what it was that kept her around. That's a decent sentiment. I don't know how attached to it you are, but if significantly, the lyrics of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDsS2_f4Gag capture it quite well in my opinion. And so he had fallen into maintaining his roguish pseudo thespian persona in lieu of money or pride. This is the bit that gives me some hope for you as a writer. That feels like a reasonably insightful observation about human beings. It was wearing thin with age and while she was steadily progressing her career it was painfully apparent to him that he remained stilted in the past and having no notion of how to remedy the situation he grew only more stubborn. Again a run-on, but at least one with a sentiment that I can empathize with.

She had moved into bathroom now and was brushing her hair. The short conflict was over, she knew. He would not pursue it and she would not want him to. Part of what made their relationship endure for the decade it had was that they each never felt obliged to press the other into doing what they did not want to. But still she harboured thoughts against him that she wished she did not. I haven't paid close attention, but both times I've read it this paragraph has tripped me up slightly. I feel like the rest of the story has been narrated predominantly from his point of view, and this slips in with a little omniscience about her thoughts.

The clothes she had laid out were folded on a kitchen chair and when she walked through to collect them she saw that he had gone to bed. Feels like an abrupt jump forward in time. She dressed and checked her face in the mirror in the hall. There was a corded phone attached to the wall beside the mirror and she picked up the receiver and looked back into the mirror. Why a corded phone? That implies that there are cordless phones elsewhere. Otherwise it's just a phone. Then she dialled a phone number from memory.

“Hello?” she said as she patted down her hair. “It’s me.”

“I want you to give him a part. Any part. You have the final call, please.”



“No, please. I won’t ask any more favours. I want you to do this for me.”



“But that’s practically background. You’re the producer.”



“I guess. Well, thank you. Wait, a condition? What do you want?”



That stuff all reads fine. Sometimes one-sided phone calls are treacherous, but I'm not bothered by this one.

She put a hand to her forehead and closed her eyes. Not again. Anything but that. She caught her own eye in the mirror and turned away. “Yes. Ok. I’ll be there in half an hour.” So I assume she's offering sexual favors. It seems like she was preparing to do so when she started brushing her hair at night. Yet I'm simultaneously supposed to believe that she's surprised and appalled by what she prepared to do?

The taxi weaved its way down the edge of the hills. Gaps in the treeline showed glimpses of the city rising up to meet her. Street lines crossing in thick orange, the neon lights of the night. Descriptive prose still needs work. She could almost taste the air from up here and she was descending into it. She thought of that old flat they shared as they matured together.

“He lives back then because I was drawn to him,” she thought. Huh? Her breath condensed on the window and she swallowed. “Acting the fool is all he can do. I know that he fears losing me should he change his ways so he persists with the humiliation. For me.” This does not match how I understand humans to behave. They're both clearly unhappy with his situation so he fears improving his situation because they might be less happy with an improvement? Also nobody thinks in such a declarative fashion. That's painfully clearly there for the reader's benefit.

“You know,” said the driver. “I always wonder what kind of people live up here. Like, doctors and things.”

She wasn’t listening. “And I cannot ask him to change for me. So I do this. For him.” Again, no. You've offered no redeeming qualities for her attraction to him other than that he used to be charming and now he's not. People don't sell themselves for those kinds of memories. I can't swallow your ending premise.

Now, I've kind of forgotten where I was going with the overall commentary. You display a few decent insights into human behavior toward the end, but then absolutely baffle me with the actions of your characters at the end. Which, considering the premise of your story (a two-person character drama), is especially harmful. Also there was very little battling of wills here -- they both kind of want the same thing for him but he's too cowardly to go for it so she gets slightly irritated.

One question which is worth pondering is Why do you write? I can surmise a few possible areas of personal attachment to the story, but I could just be inferring those. It may benefit you to hone in on what most attracts you to your rough draft and try to expand upon that. If you were aiming for a character who feared failure and therefore self-sabotaged, drum that up. I realize there were some prompt constraints, but having an unsympathetic (and oh yeah, unnamed) protagonist really takes away from it.

Also name your protagonists.

A Frozen Dinner with Pasta in White Sauce and For Some Reason a Tomato on top which Looks Good After Rationalization but then You Bite Into It And Find Out It's Actually HAM

Daeres

I like outer space, so I'm with you after the first paragraph.

The "...there was no response..." line is a bit clunky. At first plus twelve civilizations in the same sentence? I do like the "they would've twiddled them" line, though.

Double-space between your paragraphs, which includes between dialogue.

The human organ analogue is less amusing the second time around. Which contributes to the fact that you're starting to lose me with the space jargon immediately afterward.

It doesn't quite make sense to me that (she)'d hate being called Ammy. Just the way the entities have been anthropomorphized, I feel like Ammy is a she who wants a little more intimacy from Nexy (he).

Ick, formatting.

I'm having trouble slogging through the schoolyard blame game. The first paragraph/section/blob of is was all right, the second one is grating. Ender's Game nod?

Bleh. So. There's some conflict of sorts, but it doesn't feel like a proper battle of wills. More like a temper-tantrum. Also it was clear you were leading to humanity/internet being the new device the whole time.

I can see an attempt at humor there and parts of it worked but the formatting and my patience level (somewhat biased by having to have read all of the stories before yours) did it no favors.

Bacon Past the Point in which it has Induced a Headache. But Still More Bacon

llamaguccii

Huh, second person. I'll reserve judgment on that for a moment.

The thoughts in the first paragraph resonate with me; I've read a few interesting meditations on the responsibilities an author has to their characters, couched in the trappings of religion, also within the context of the narrative. I don't necessarily feel for Marcus, partially second person's doing, but I'm at least thinking.

A minor chuckle from Yaweh's perspective. Perhaps we've read some of the same books. I don't think this will stand well with the general reading crowd and I'm not sure how inherently meritorious it is but it fits my current mood and agrees (but possibly inherits much of its enjoyability) from my preexisting sensibilities.

I can't tell if this was meant to be an insulting piece but I find it thought-inspiring and moderately amusing. Though it's more of a presentation of a concept than a proper story, not terribly on-prompt, and lacking in external conflict. But you did ruminate on an idea I am interested in.

A Hot Dog Marinaded in Whatever Was In The Pantry

Entenzahn

I do have a soft spot for bad television, so I hope you don't disappoint me.

Hmm. I've got mixed feelings after reading it. I did enjoy some of the ad absurdum, but about halfway through my disbelief could be suspended no longer. I get that these are supposed to be caricatures, but I only have so much tolerance for extremity.

There was really only one note to this story, and you held it longer than I liked. Which is unfortunate, because it's actually more of a story and more on-prompt than a lot of the competition, but by the end it didn't leave a good taste in my mouth.

An Entire Slim Jim

Chili

The action of this piece is a nice change of pace from all the other stories thus far, so I'm not sure if it's because of context or for other reasons that I didn't appreciate the stab at humor with the "other left". That and I don't know how Seth is communicating with him, but I feel like it would need to be something extravagant like an intercom with GPS or video because I didn't get the sense that he was running alongside but I can't otherwise see how he'd be so aware of Davey's position.

It might be a reading comprehension problem, given my current state-of-brain, but this feels a little abstract and ill-defined thus far, which isn't great for an action scene.

I appreciate the contrast you've developed by describing a kids' game in terms of actual war, but the dissonance created by that causes problems. The humor and the dialogue felt very inappropriate, and while I suspected Davey might be a kid (kid's name), that created a sense of distracted disharmony more than whatever effect you were going for.

I am smiling at the premise of a black kid at a Jewish camp, and you do a good job of coming from the perspective (I imagine) a Jewish youth would have in that situation.

I've been drinking this down no problems and am just taking a pause at the break because you've done a very good job setting up your protagonist's motivation (Seth's is still a bit weak) and I am legitimately looking forward to whatever Davey's plan is.

Ahh. I think the most satisfying part of the piece was the line about Nathan in '92. It really hits the priorities of childhood on the head. The ending was also nice, though I have a little trouble believing that Max would take his entire troupe outside to get Davey. It seems like too much effort when they could easily either bust him right there or pelt him on his way out.

Slightly contrived ending, but overall enjoyable, and actually a story, which is sadly lacking this week.

The Second Bite of Honey-Glazed Ham

SurreptitiousMuffin

Heh. So. I'm from The South. Parts of your dialect felt fine, but other bits stuck out at me with varying degrees of discrepancy. I'm not sure if I adjusted to your piece with time or it got better (or maybe I just got absorbed in the story) but it bothered me less as I continued reading.

Very strong piece. I feel for both of the characters and their plight. Strangely enough, I also used to watch Sliders, so your alternate-world references feel extra tight to me.

I don't have much else to say about this one other than that it found its mark despite the uncanny valley of mannerisms, except that I was a little confused with the "home" they were supposed to be returning to. Don't they not own that house anymore? To where are they returning?

Maybe a re-read would clarify that but I'm happy to savor this piece as it exists in my memory.

First Exposure to Bacon Weave, which happened to be In Person

Your Sledgehammer

The "her" in your first paragraph is confusing, since you haven't previously referenced any females. "Both of 'use'"? Come on.

Blegh. I'm hoping this was a low effort piece in a hurry, as the editing would suggest. I had trouble staying focused, and it wasn't even 600 words. But it was both melodramatic and uninteresting. I didn't care about the characters; their situation was too specific and too trite to garner empathy.

I feel like I just walked past a television that had a low-budged community college reproduction of some contemporary soap opera but with western trappings. Except that I was forced to watch all of it. Fortunately it was only a commercial.

Ham Hocks that you Didn't Even Boil

Sitting Here

I like where I think you're going with this but I was confused at first because I had no doubt that you were describing the birth of a kitten. And then fists. But I still continued for a few more paragraphs thinking that a kitten had somehow possessed-bonded-aged-up with its owner. I blame the word "mewling".

The longer I pause the less willing I am to slide past the abusive-for-no-reason father. It's just been done too much, I suppose. I do like the characters you're establishing and the way in which you're establishing them. I just worry the father was a MacGuffin.

Heh. I read "graveyard manager" and thought, "Okay, so Vin's a ghost." Then "at a trendy twenty-four hour gastropub" and thought, "That's an interesting graveyard which also serves food." I think I've been reading too much Neil Gaimain.

Vin Diesel, eh? That's a quirky and possibly charming touch. Certainly I wish to know more. Nice pond imagery.

No, additiction doesn't absolve the father of abusive-for-no-reason. That part still rankles.

I'm getting a distinct "Uh-oh" at the drugs, and need to Sit Upright.

I was just off-balance enough by the oddity of the story that I was willing to believe it would go in an odd direction when Jamie wanted to surrender, so I was totally on board when Vin manned up. That's what he does. He is very manly. Also the build up to his action movie line is fantastic. Of course he knows all his own lines, but that's not incongruent at all given the strange nature of the tale, which I have totally accepted.

There were a couple of hiccups ("prey animal" just doesn't read well to me), but this was fun. Probably the clearest and most direct battle of wills, a nice interpretation of getting inside their head, and a wide range of emotions: amusement, tension, action, empathy, charm. And best of all, it was unique.

Oktoberfest Links from Germany Made In Accordance with 400 Year Old Law

SkaAndScreenplays

Them's some odd names. I realize it's deliberate, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I'm not sure if the tagging terminology is accurate, but some of it is confusing, especially combined with the names and the slang. I'm starting to acclimate to your cadence, but we're off on the wrong foot.

You build up some tension then immediately "months that followed" it away.

Huh, what? I'm not buying the misunderstanding. Or rather, I don't care about it. This piece is awkward and disjoint and I don't buy that someone would drop such build up aggrievances, even if they were perceived, after one whiff of the truth. People don't work that way.

Also the big twist is a deliberate letdown. "Hey these two people are really gonna go at it. Just kidding, haha!" Not satisfying to read.

Prosciutto that was Put Back In The Fridge With The Bag Torn Open Even Though It Was Clearly Self-Sealing But Now It's Been Open For a Day

Agh, no, I'm still angry. How is that a battle of wills? You neutered the conflict!

Blastinus

Hmm, a first timer, right? This was decent for a first timer. Not as good as what the old hands generally deliver, but a few nice parts and certainly way better than most starting out.

Blastinus posted:

A Typical Denny's Lunch Hour - 1093 words

High noon at Denny’s, two men were seated at a table; the first young, tall and lanky, the second middle-aged, stocky and shorter. Some oldies rock song was playing, only to be drowned out by a screeching toddler in the booth next to them. It didn’t really matter. Neither of them was paying attention anyway. It sets the stage perfunctorily but doesn't really grab me.

“I’ll have the iced tea, please. No lemon,” the tall man ordered. By all accounts, he was overdressed for the venue, just a necktie short of business professional, his short brown hair impeccably combed. Okay, more details. Haven't lost me yet. This was only natural, since he was on break from an accounting firm just downtown. [/b]Though this line reads poorly to me. Maybe I've passed the threshold for exposition by now.[/b]

The accountant stared over at his counterpart, still engrossed in the menu. A "who was" wouldn't go amiss here. He seemed a bit more sensibly dressed for a family diner, wearing a green polo shirt and tan khakis. Getting tired of the details His head reminded the accountant of a fuzzy cantaloupe although this one is interesting, and he wondered if this guy was military or police. Maybe he was just a bodybuilder.

“And for you, sir?” the waiter asked, not impolitely, but with the air of someone who really had to be somewhere else. Seconds passed, and then the waiter sighed and said “I’ll come back later.” Realistic but pedestrian detail. It does work into the overall characterization, though.

Silence reigned over the table. Don't like this wording. The toddler went up an octave. Do like this detail.

“I hate it when they try to rush you,” the thick-set man finally spoke. “I suppose introductions are in order,” he said, leaning back in his seat, insofar as these wooden blocks would actually bend, that is. His harsh blue eyes pierced through the accountant’s forehead. “You start.” Here's a more interesting character. He's breaking a couple of social norms and has a bit of mystery and power about him.

“Me?” The scrawny young man slapped his hand down. “You’re the one who called me here! How’d you even get my number anyway?”

“That’s a great question.” The stocky man began counting on his numbers. “Truth be told, I already know your name, where you work, even why you don’t like lemon in your tea. Yeah, I know a lot about you, Nathan.” Story could go in a number of ways here.

If there was color in his face to begin with, Nathan, or Nate as he preferred to be called Could've just called him Nate as the narrator and I would've got it., would have gone pale at that point. He almost rose to his feet, but the other man’s gaze drove him downward. Feels a little too exaggerated. “Who are you?” Nathan demanded, wondering if he should start begging for his life. In a way you're implying that the father is the narrator. Or that Nathan prefers Nate but nobody calls him that.

“Call me Archie. Here’s my card.” Archie pulled out a brown leather wallet, remarkably mundane-looking, and slid a business card across the table to the accountant. Nate read it, looked at Archie, read it again, and groaned.

Archie finally betrayed a smile. “My daughter tells me that you don’t want to talk to me.”

“I-I have to use the bathroom.” I don't buy it. That's too cowardly a response for someone who has clearly been trapped and was just eye-tied down to a chair. Doesn't feel realistic.

“Sit.” Nathan stayed seated. “Mind telling me why?”

“Why…why what?”

“Why not talk to me? Afraid I’ll say no?”

“N-No. I just…“

“Are we ready to order?” the waiter cut in, placing the iced tea.

“I’ll have a coffee. Bold.”

“Alright. How about the entrees?” The waiter turned to Nathan who was gripping the table like he might fall through the floor. Pursing his lips, he said “In a bit, then?” I could see this inversion coming and it's a little too stilted to be satisfying.

“Y-yeah,” Nathan stammered and waited for the waiter to amble off. “When…when a guy looks like…you know…”

“Deep breaths, son. Relax.”

“Alright,” he sighed, running his hands down his face. “Fine, yes. I thought you were going to say no. I mean, she’s told me stories. You know, about you. I don’t hunt, I don’t fish. I figured you’d call me a wuss, tell me I was no good for your daughter, that she needed a ‘real man’ and are you even listening?” I just can't buy in to Nathan as a character. Nobody's that cowardly, not for those reasons.

The whole time Nathan was talking, Archie was reading the menu again. Once the stream of words had stopped, he gave a sideways glance at his prospective son-in-law. “Well, you’re right about one thing,” he grumbled, looking at the prices on burgers. “But it’s not just because you look like you’re a hundred pounds in the rain.”

“Huh?”

Archie slapped the menu down and leveled a finger in Nate’s face. “Let me tell you something. If you think that you know better than my daughter how to handle your relationship, you’ve got another thing coming.”

“What are you talking about?” Staring sideways, Nathan noticed that the parents of the crying child had left their own problems behind and were watching this conversation with rapt interest. A bit ham-fisted. I like the thought, but not the execution.

“My daughter would have been proud to bring you home, you bastard! Steady job, nice car, okay kid. This could be read as Nathan having an okay kid of his own. We’d have been glad to have you as a son. But you had to go and say it.” He put on a squeaky, mincing voice. “’We don’t have to tell your parents. It can just be the two of us.’ Bullshit!” Nathan recoiled back at the sudden exclamation. “You just didn’t want to face the possibility that we wouldn’t let you have her; that you couldn’t have a beautiful, talented girl who, for god knows what reason, thought you were actually worth something!” I also don't believe that's how the daughter would react. Betray no hint of her offense but bring it up so thoroughly to the father. If she's anything like her father, she would've said something about that remark right then and there, and Nathan would've either backpedaled or tried to mollify her.

From out of nowhere, something stirred within this accountant’s scrawny frame. Would've served better with more dramatic actions that demonstrate this instead of just telling me this. Before he knew it, he’d sprung to his feet and was shouting, “Oh yeah? Well maybe your daughter doesn’t need someone telling her who she can and can’t marry! She doesn’t even live with you anymore, so why is this any of your business?” While the dialogue is still stilted, I do feel a bit of the intensity you were going for.

“She made it my business! Who do you think I heard it from?” Archie had risen as well, only to hear that all-too-familiar voice from behind.

“Your coffee, sir?”

“Oh right. Thanks.” Slowly falling into his chair, coffee cup in hand, Archie let the waiter bolt for safety before continuing. “You hurt her feelings, you know that?” Archie sighed. “Hurt her bad.” Somehow he didn't know that. Or so I'm supposed to believe.

“I didn’t mean to,” Nate muttered, pouring sweetener into his tea. “It wasn’t like I was saying we’d elope or anything.”

Archie poured some sugar packets into his coffee, took a sip, and put some more in, “So, you’re gonna apologize to her, right?”

“I mean, I guess I have to.”

“Wrong answer. You gonna do it or not?” I'm not super fond of this simpering the first time.

“Uh, yeah, I mean sure. Of course I will.”

“And then?”

“I don’t know. I guess that-“

Archie shot another piercing look.

“I mean, I’m GOING TO talk with her. See what she wants to do.” So the pattern does not please me.

“Good plan. Always good to listen.” Another sip of coffee. Another sip of tea.

“So…” Nathan volunteered, “Does this mean we’re cool?”

Archie smirked and swirled his cup around. “Well, you’re still a wimp, but there’s some hope for you. We’re doing separate checks, right?” This is both too easy but also I'm almost completely detached from your characters. Certainly from Nathan, with whom I don't empathize or sympathize or even really believe could exist. And the father's more of a non-entity to me by this point; the conflict was interpersonal drama and I didn't care about the people.

Nathan opened his mouth in protest, and shrugged. “Yeah, sure. I’ll handle the tip.”

“Better not be a big one. This coffee tastes like poo poo.”

Doesn't hold up as well to scrutiny as it did when I was just glazing over it. Why should I as a reader enjoy this story? The primary protagonist is unbelievable and unlikeable, I'm not even sure I can say he experienced character growth at the end (more he was just cowed into acquiescence), and the Denny's details were adequate but you know I don't really like being in Denny's in real life.

Probably the 4AM Bacon at Denny's but I Don't Want to Find Out

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


Preemptively in.

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Thanks for the crit and fast judging. Also, in for whatever the prompt ends up being.

Edit: Lake County, CA Gothic

llamaguccii fucked around with this message at Oct 11, 2016 around 19:42

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007

DOUBLE BEEF ACTION

Free writing critiques? I'm in. When do y'all put up the next prompt?

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

BeefSupreme posted:

Free writing critiques? I'm in. When do y'all put up the next prompt?

Winner of previous week chooses the next writing prompt, so as soon as they see it and write a new post.

There's info on the first post of this thread that anybody new should read and take to heart.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


Flerpressions (i didnt do judgemode) btw im not reading that last one because it was submitted like an hour and a half after entry closed

Jitzu
-read this at the tournament (i was at a fighting game tournament if u were confused)
-boring af
-dont start story like its normal then do a weird thing where like the narrator is the character narrating w/ their voice v off putting
-too many names
-exposition
-”fool”
-dont care
-fight the bad guys -> tennis??? Wtf???
-perspective shift? Wtf?
-dialogue bad
-hate this
-didnt you alrdy write a lovely story about a revolution
-responding to prompt, not telling a good story
-idk who is narrating. Too many names.
-confusing af
-like theres nothing here to make me CAAARRREEEEEE
-low, maybe DM? Week feels bad atm
-DM for god awful dialogue

Flea
-also read while at tourney
-first para, why do i care?
-protag’s bit of a dick, huh?
-why care?
-what?
-stop - explain some of your poo poo tia
-first scene should be cut and reworked
-why care
-why do i care
-didnt get the answer
-creepy thing follows girl, kinda interesting idea. Personification (prob not right word but u know what i mean) of like how dudes creep on girls and stare at them, but who cares? Certainly not me and you didnt explain why i should
-what does the title mean? Is the creepy thing a moth or someting?
-high middle for this week, maybe HM but i dont want it to HM because its not v good

Sparksbloom
-dialogue is quite bad
-i dont like either of these people
-i was thinking the whole way “why do i care?” did i get the answer? Nah
-yeah i dont really understand this story from the perspective of “why did you think this was an interesting story to tell?” like it follows the prompt sure but like maybe tell me an interesting story? With u know compelling characters, interesting circumstances, something cool or w/e.
-not terrible but just dull + uninteresting
-middle

Thranguy
-tbh im not in the mood for a cheeky story about wizards
-you have three names in your opening paragraph jfc
-and then theres a FOURTH ONE IN THE NEXT LINE COME THE gently caress ON
-proofread
-ugh im gonna have to deal with humor now huh
-there are too many names i cannot figure out what you are trying to say
-what is this device what the gently caress is going on
-is it me? Am i just literally incapable of understanding stories right now or are all of you idiots just loving it up?
-”an insult!,” are you loving kidding me thranguy. loving christ you know better than this. Im legit this close to stopping. gently caress dude.
-figs why what i dont get it
-i dont understand
-hahahahaha sex
-back in the day, a good old friend used to say “you cannot pin a story entirely on dialogue.” guess what you did?
-you know better dude.
-too caught up in dialogue didnt write anything interesting
-like write about robot going through wizard school thatd be a way better story
-not funny not interesting a bunch of boring nonsense
-DM maybe? Idk all of these stories are trash
-DM because i hate this

Beige
-oh dear
-this needs a line crit but atm i cant do it but im gonna try later tanks hammer.
-get on with it
-prose is p bad, but the story’s p meh. Like yeah dude’s a bad actor, wont change, girl cant do anything to make him change. P boring and also who cares?
-and then ending is like super bad and also problematic and also doesnt do anything because everyone is in the same position they started in so who gives a god drat gently caress.
-dm most prob but then like i kinda accepted that this was going to be bad and it maybe wasnt so bad??? idk
-yea sorry DM/lose

Daeras
-oh hey a kind of interesting opener????? Thats a thing writers can do????
-why make them wait and then have the signal come in so quickly? No point
-also “week” is a weird phrase to use since i think this in space so how can you define something as a week in space???
-whyyyyyyy do you people think i can read your loving minds because man im so confused
-”Nexian” “Lum” “Aemete” these words mean nothing i hate them i hate you
-is this meant to be funny?
-yeah i guess the whole point is that “what if hiveminds are like awkward people” which is uhhhh both not lol and also i want to repeat this a million times over
IF YOUR STORY IS JUST A SINGLE JOKE IT IS NOT A STORY. IT IS A JOKE OVER A THOUSAND WORDS. IT IS NOT FUNNY
That’s all
-shifting perspective to Nexian randomly wtf
-its like that one rick and morty episode where they meet the collective hivemind but instead of being funny and having a lot of variety and being generally interesting this story sucks
-too much dialogue
-ITS THE SAME THING THIS STORY IS SAYING THE SAME THING HIVEMINDS ARE ACTING LIKE TEENAGERS OK DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT JESUS loving CHRIST
-look a little bit of me wants to DM all of these stories
-yeah DM gently caress u

llamagucci
-im not marcus tho
-i really dont want to read a writer writing about a writer writing
-this just confused me more than anything but i think it might be ok??? I wasnt like really mad while reading it so its not terrible i guessssssssssssssss but not good.
-yeah i dont get it i was just mostly confused ‘cause of me being like two different people and i just had a hard time wrapping my head around this for whatever reason.
-theres like, something missing in this that i cant put my finger on. Like, i WANT to like this story, but with the shifting perspective, i feel distanced and its hard to like… get attached? I feel what you’re saying, and like this story is like up my alley, but there’s something with the way it’s written
- i think the beginning is tonally off with the ending. It starts kinda carefree with the first two scenes and then it shifts into like being really harsh kinda suddenly.
-i really really want to like this story but like… i dont think its there yet.
-middle???? I can see this going either way (but not like lose/win more like HM/DM)

Ent
-i loving hate you for that 4th paragraph. I hate you i hate you i hate you i so so so loving hate you
-your jokes arent funny god damnit
-i dont even understand why is the plot about a police chief that cant read im so lost this isnt real life is over
-i think theres like a thing where its like a 60% probability that life is a simulation which i think they might be right because i dont want to believe theres a reality where u wrote a story about a police chief that cant read and thought yeah im gonna sub that to td and people will like it
-this story is a joke and kinda like that joke where your friend starts it and he says something and laughs and you laugh along not because its actually funny but because your friend’s laughing and you dont want to be rude.
-i hate it when u take the piss ent it feels like a waste of mine and yours time. You can write better we both know this so plz dont do this to me when im judging again ok cool thank you.
-middle

Muffin
-skipped some i know dont give a gently caress im gonna get to you nerds
-kinda lame, pacing is way off
-cut your drat first paragraph, using second person and poo poo when the rest of your story’s third, loving amateur poo poo right there
-The whole 52 and wormhole stuff didnt rly work 4 me bcause like it felt like it was trying too hard to be a theme. Like, it’s kind of like with a joke, when you try really really hard to be funny, you aren’t funny, but when you act like it’s not a joke, then it becomes funny. It’s the same thing with that, you tried too hard to make that stuff a theme that it became too obvious that it felt unnatural and forced.
-its too cool clean like yeah man this state route is like my world rn. life isnt this clean it feels faked, unnatural, aka not good.
-otherwise, this story’s like the sadness equivalent of chips, it’s non-offensive, does some stuff, brings in some emotions, but like, i never felt like it really meant anything, you know? Like hell halfway through the story i was thinking this was a divorce story but nah its a dead wife story. But idk man, this was lacking that like power of needing to be written. It feels less like you HAD to tell this story, but rather, it was an easy story to write. And because of that it felt like it was going through the motions of sad short story rather than being like it’s own unique entity.
-this is alright, prob the best i’ve read this day, but it’s lacking and a little bit lame.
-HM/win

Chili
-did u rly have to loving explain capture the flag to me?
-why is everyone’s dialogue so loving bad
-more exposition gently caress me
-bleh this story wasnt good
-what was the point? seth? max? Who’s the focus? Very unclear.
-felt insubstantial - ok cool capture the flag but is that all youve got?
-i just felt like there wasnt any like, bigger motivation to this story. Yeah sure, you can write a story about kids playing capture the flag but like so what?
-ending was where it got interesting. how does max react? what r the consequences? u can maybe say something here.
-middle

My Sledgehammer
-pronouns in opening lines ughhhhh
-whys brett spitting out blood? oh it got explained nvm
-brett’s dialogue = alright. alice’s = not good
-nice lil aftermath of a story, dealing with the consequences of a decision, i like that myself as a writer/reader. always found this stuff more interesting then the buildup
-character development is good but w/o a good starting point for the character, the development isnt as impactful
-still, it’s a nice little bit of a story (and it is a story because there is a conflict with a resolution and gently caress anyone that says anything that’s 500 words is a vignette because it can be a story) with some good impact. Maybe a little melodramatic but i respect work done in 500 words that showed both a character, a story, a history of the characters, and a resolution with a bit of character development.
-its not amazing, but it’s a good showing. A little more would’ve been good, spicing up alice’s dialogue wouldve been a godsend, and a little more time with the protag might’ve helped out.
-HM/win???

SH
-”seemed” why not just “was”?
-all caps
-sh plzzzzzzzzzz why r u missing spaces
-im lost
-ok nvm im feeling this a bit
-lol teddy bear named vin diesel
-ok yeah shut up after that tho
-i dont get the hostility where did this come from
-i still dont get why they hate each other so much
-”action-hero” is not a good adj 4 this situation
-ughhhhh i actually kinda hate this now. jamies too depressed
-i feel like we needed more context or like understanding of why jamie hates vin so much besides how “controlling” he is. i guess the issue is that we dont really see vin be that controlling. when he does control in the story its uhhhhhh for p good reasons like not getting date raped/murdered.
-jamies not v sympathetic either i dont get why shes all like i wanna die esp because like if she dies vin dies too. thats rude of her imo
-this just irks me in those ways that i cant feel like attached to the story. I want to like it but it drags me away and i cant rly overlook that jamie just feels hollow to me. I dont ever see why she’s the way she is.
-also their wrists were bound during the action scene? what?
-middle

Ska
-banksy story i see
-”two” come the gently caress on
-subject matter is cool i dig it a something a lil different
-wow what a loving god awful ending
-i was thinking through this that ok you have an alright conflict but like whats the point? what r u trying to say? i was hoping the ending would tie it all up, make me think something but nope it was all like “opps nvm none of this story and things this character did mattered.”
-also this was just like “dude graffitis poo poo for awhile” which is just so insubstantial and the ending fails and this story sucks
-middle

Blastinus
-i suggest not submitting an hour and a half after the submission deadline

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Thank you so much for the crits. I aim to improve my writing for the sake of those who have to read it.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


Thunderdome CCXIX: coz wer goffik



Halloween is almost upon us, so it's time to get a little spoooooooooky with one of my favourite genres: gothic. Well poo poo, what does that mean?

quote:

In Gothic literature, the authors wanted to expose the problems they saw in society. The authors wrote fiction, but included supernatural and romantic elements. They were often stories of hauntings, death, darkness and madness. Some of the more well-known examples of this genre are Frankenstein and Dracula.
We're talking about peeling back the wallpaper and getting a good look at the rot underneath. Monsters are often metaphors for various human sins, or simply bring out the worst in the story's human characters. Gothic literature is often regional: while British novels are often set in barren whistling moors, American authors liked to set them in crumbling mansions in the bayou.

There's been some discussion online recently about what California Gothic would look like, or Australian Gothic, or Argentinian Gothic, and that's where we're going this week: I want you to write ____________ gothic, where the blank space is wherever you come from. Think about the nastiness lurking beneath your hometown, and write a story that rips away the mask to show us the rotten teeth and jaundiced skin beneath.

There are two flash rules, and any number of people may claim them. Please indicate whether you're taking one when you sign up.

Flash #1: Halloween is a time of year when the walls between worlds are thinner. Write a story about somebody who stumbles across another world that is only a breath away.
Flash #2 (THE WISE BLOOD INSANITY CHALLENGE): no supernatural elements, no horror - find another way to get the elements of the genre across.

Word Limit: 1500
Signups: 11:59pm Friday 14th PST
Submissions: 11:59pm Sunday 16th PST

The muttering elders:
Muffin
Chili
Jitzu

The brave/damned:
Rhino: Malaysia
J.A.B.C: Midwest/Kansas
HereComesEverybody: ?, Flash #2
my cat is norris: Pittsburgh, Flash #1
Beige: England
Blastinus: (?)St Louis(?)
Guiness13: Ypsilanti, Michigan
Hammer Bro: Silicon Valley
Sitting Here: Washington State
Kumatron: Midwest/St Louis
Flerp: Brentwood, California
Fubbi: Sweden, Flash #1
SkaAndScreenplays: Milkwaukee, Flash #1
ZeBourgeoisie: Ohio
Thranguy: Chattanooga, Flash #1
a friendly penguin: Appalachia
Your Sledgehammer: Texas
Sparksbloom: New England
Jibs: Pennsyltucky
Sebmojo: Wai-Mapihi
newtestleper: Te Waipounamu
Sailor Viy: Australia
widespread: Carlsbad, California
BeefSupreme: Danville, California
Entenzahn: Vienna
Electric Owl: Toronto
kurona_bright: Silicon Valley
Tyrannosaurus: Hawaii
Hawklad: Colorado
Kaishai: Indiana

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at Oct 15, 2016 around 23:47

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning


k in i gues

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Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Thanks for the crits!

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