Weather Forecast: Heat Wave
Marina groped for the camera on her nightstand, eyes still partly closed. Settling back into her pillows, she aimed the camera directly over her head and pressed the shutter before she even looked at the day’s message.
In the ancient plaster ceiling, a series of cracks were arranged into the graceful shape of an apple bough. Some large pieces were missing, imitating the shape of ripe fruit. The tree glistened in the heavy, wet heat. Marina looked at it, unblinking, before rolling over and burying her face in Theo’s pillow beside her.
Theo had been dead for a month, but she could still smell him on the pillow.
Theo and Marina had always been too intimate for siblings. They’d cried when their mother told them they were too old to bathe together. They’d refused to be in separate classes all through elementary school. They’d even insisted on double-dating at prom. Most people thought it was sweet, maybe even that Theo was gay and Marina protective of him. Perhaps their mother had suspected what was really happening, but she had never confronted them. The twins certainly never told anyone. Mother worked, their father was dead, they lived out so far in the country there wasn’t even a road until the nineties. No one was there to watch them, and they never had to share their time with anyone else.
It had been, they decided, long enough. Both parents were now dead, and there was only the moldering house back home left to sort out. The original plan was to sell it immediately and use the money to move to Costa Rica. They would open a restaurant on the beach, take new names, and live the rest of their life in the open. They had been in perfect agreement until drove up to their childhood home.
Theo had immediately been overcome. “They don’t make houses like this anymore,” he declared, affectionately patting one of the front porch columns. “It’s not in bad shape. This antebellum style could be a tourist draw. Maybe we could start here, open a B&B in Mom’s house, and then expand to Costa Rica later?”
“gently caress off,” was all Marina could say. The heat wave was just beginning, the fluttering edge of a three-month hell. She could smell the plants boiling in the humidity. “This whole state is like being in a hot toilet. Let’s just get this over with. At least Costa Rica has beaches.”
Thus began the first month of their epilogue. For the first time, Theo and Marina couldn’t find common ground. She wanted nothing to do with the stifling, backwards town, where she had spent her adolescence in a cloud of boredom. Theo, still mourning their mother, wanted to restore his lost childhood. Neither could fully accept the idea of living in hiding anymore. The heat was oppressive, filling their mouths and making them listless. Discussions never exploded, but would merely trail off. They were too languid and disinterested to fight. The second month passed almost in silence, Marina resentfully bringing in repairmen and talking to real estate agents, Theo pointedly sulking and being deliberately uncooperative. For the first time, Marina thought it might be time to abandon her weird, twisted romantic life.
Then, the accident. The truck had a malfunctioning air conditioner, Theo forgot his sunglasses. He’d been overcome by the heat and fainted, eventually landing upside-down in the ditch. The heat did him no further favors. Marina hadn’t even been able to positively identify the body.
Since then, there was a message of cracks and condensation on the ceiling every morning. Never words, only pictures, things that would mean nothing to anyone else. Marina didn’t always understand them, either. She photographed every one, puzzling them over at night, dripping sweat onto the Formica table. They frequently seemed to be smaller pieces of a larger whole, but she could never quite understand them.
Vicious as the heat was, Marina thought she felt a cool breeze. She smiled and stretched unconsciously. She must have left the hallway fan on.
Marina wrapped the sheet around herself and walked into the hallway, but the fan was still. She turned her head sharply as another cool breeze whispered past her ear.
Silence. Just heat. Heavy, wavering heat that made Marina’s head swim. The air practically rippled.
She walked forward, hoping to feel another hit of cool air. When she stopped before the door to Theo’s childhood bedroom, she paused for a moment, then exhaled in surprise. She could see now that the cracks from her bedroom twined themselves across the hallway ceiling, leading into Theo’s old room.
She turned the doorknob.
The door didn’t open. That door didn’t lock.
Marina sat down, hard, and stared at the door. There was something inside, she knew there was. Her vision quivered with vertigo.
“Is someone there?” she called, her voice edged with fright.
There was no answer.
Marina grabbed an old umbrella from the stand next to her chair and stood up. Gingerly, she tiptoed back over to the door and poked. There was no response. Then she banged on the door, hard, and it popped open.
She jumped back in fear, but after a moment, Marina used her umbrella to ease the door all the way open.
The room was empty. Empty, and cool, and weirdly drafty.
“What the gently caress?” Marina swallowed, holding her umbrella in both hands like a club. The world around her threatened to spin out.
The plaster walls were cracked, gouged, and pitted into the shape of a massive apple tree. It was strangely lifelike, with its knotty trunk and wide branches, somehow fruiting and flowering all at once. She could almost smell the blossoms as another wave of dizziness hit her, forcing her to her knees.
Quiet, peace. The tree was cold. She could feel cool air coming from it, like a spring breeze. The weighty mantle of humidity had somehow lifted. Marina’s hair gently blew about her face as she swayed, closed her eyes, and curled up on the floor, feeling the blessed, fresh air caress her.
The world was spinning madly now, yet Marina felt light and calm. She could almost sense a pair of lips, chilled and taut, on the back of her neck. There was nothing to be afraid of, here in the apple blossoms, with a patch of soft grass for her pillow. There was no heat wave, there had never been an argument. The sticky, punishing day evaporated as Marina sank swiftly, helplessly, obliviously into sleep, enveloped by a spectral embrace.
|# ? Dec 11, 2016 11:38|
|# ? Jan 20, 2022 00:08|
Weather Forecast: Dust Storm
Flash:One of your characters is extremely wealthy
Osmond Diaz, King of Kings
Near a gray spire atop a grand castle, deep in a devastated land, the wind picked up a mote of dust. And then another.
Supreme Lord Osmond Diaz stood on his northern balcony admiring the scorched earth that he had conquered. Where once there were teeming rivers and countless farms, now only barren waste. Osmond’s military had been brutally efficient and left no one to stand against him. He walked to the eastern balcony, then southern, admiring the brutal sights. Percy, his most trusted personal guard, followed behind him awaiting any order.
“The key to my campaign’s success, dear Percy, was an inflexible and iron will. If you bow before any, then you only show them just how truly weak you are. This tower stands as a stark reminder of that philosophy. Like me, Percy, it will never bow to another.” Percy nodded at his Supreme Lord’s sage advice. Osmond always enjoyed reminiscing with Percy, he was a good, obedient audience.
Above the burned and salted earth that had once fed a civilization, a dust storm gathered. And as it grew, it traveled across the arid plains. In the dead of night it crept. And soon, it was upon Osmond Diaz’s tower.
The storm gathered around the castle grounds, creeping into every nook and cranny. It dropped sand here and there. Slowly it found its way into the deep wells and reservoirs that fed the castle. Every ounce of water became tan sludge.
In the morning, Osmond rose leisurely from his bed and picked out his finery for the day. The silk felt smooth on his callused hands. “Sir,” Percy said, entering the room, “the well has been polluted.”
“Unfortunate,” said Osmond, “I suppose we will have to ration it for the staff. Pull the bare minimum from my private reservoir.” He placed his clothing on the bed and laid out the ceremonial sword he would wear today. “Go run my bath before you do.”
Percy moved to the bath and began pumping water. The sludge crawled up the pipes. Clumps of wet sand plopped into the tub. The reservoir is compromised, thought Percy, there’s no clean water left in this castle. He swallowed dryly.
Osmond stood at the northern balcony’s closed door, looking through the window panes that adorned. The storm had made it nearly impossible to see the horizon. He heard Percy enter from the bath. “Sir, the storm has polluted the reservoir as well.” Osmond began to face Percy when a gust of wind smashed the window.
Osmond fell to the ground, feeling shards of glass prick his body. Sand coated his eyes, blinding him. He looked up, blinking, trying to see Percy. Pushing himself up, Osmond ordered Percy to seal the window. The guard quickly recovered nails and a hammer from his own quarters and then covered the window with some curtains. Osmond sat on his bed, next to his ceremonial sword. Percy worked diligently against the storm.
White crept in at the edge of Osmond’s vision. He rubbed at his eyes. “Percy,” he barked, “Go fetch a dozen staff and have them bring pails of water to me. Now.”
“My most benevolent Supreme Lord, please allows us to leave the tower,” Percy begged, “We must escape the storm.”
“If you defy my order again,” shouted Osmond, “I will personally see to your dismemberment. Go!”
Osmond watched the vague outline of Percy leave. His lenses shriveled as his vision left him. In a blind stupor, Osmond clutched his sword. It gave him some semblance of confidence.
But this shattered as the other windows in his chamber broke. The storm picked up shards of glass and tossed them all towards the center of the room where Osmond sat helplessly. Transparent daggers cut at his arms, legs, and face.
Screaming at the storm, Osmond struck out with his sword. He became a whirling dervish. As he fought against the storm, it danced around him. More pieces of glass cut away his flesh. Sand dug into his wounds, scratching away skin and muddying his blood. Osmond raged against the storm until exhaustion overtook him. He fell to the ground. Sand slowly gathered around his body.
As the storm consumed Osmond, it continued to grow around the tower. Each grain slashed at the stones, cutting it bit by bit. Slowly the tower eroded. Every crevice filled with sand. Stones creaked against the weight as granule after granule fell to rest on the floor. The storm climbed higher and higher into the heavens.
Percy stood at the edge of the forest, staring into the shadowy woods. He looked over the cadre of defectors, traitors, and cowards who had joined him in escaping the storm and the Supreme Lord’s wrath. It had been hours since they escaped both but Percy still trembled. His body was rigid with fright.
“Look yonder!” shouted one of the brigands Percy now traveled with, “That bastard’s tower’s falling.” Percy turned to the castle. The tower had snapped in half and was falling. Percy recalled Osmond’s last order, the demand to return with water. He swallowed hard. He must be dead, he thought, he must be.
Percy’s body gradually lost its tension as relief washed over him. A strong wind blew from the woods. The trees’ branches bent and waved. The wind pushed Percy but he allowed himself to sway with it.
|# ? Dec 11, 2016 17:26|
Frozen Out (1,057 words)
Papa Winter stood on his porch, eating his customary breakfast of chilled cream, and admired his handiwork: Freezytown slumbered peacefully under a foot of flakes. At his feet snuffled his faithful pet woodchuck, Phil. Up his front drive thumped Frosty the Snowmayor, but Winter's smile faded when he saw the snowman's guest: his neighbor Esther Bunny.
"Ho, Papa Winter!" Frosty lifted his hat and duffed snow from it.
"Ho, mayor. You needn't come all this way to thank me."
"We didn't," huffed Esther. She shivered, hugged herself with her paws and tried to keep her teeth from chattering. "Tell him, mayor."
Frosty's coal-black eyes shifted from the bunny to the old gentleman on the porch, who had set down his bowl of cream and crossed his arms. "There's been some talk, Winter, about how you've been handling the weather. Complaints."
Complaints? Winter looked over the town all snuggled up in frozen blankets, a few warm candles glowing in windows. The pink of dawn glinted on snowdrifts, and there was nothing in the sky but a happy cloudlets. It was positively Christmasy. "I've always turned storms to snow, mayor. I'm a weatherman. It's what I do."
"And it's high time we had a change," sniffed the bunny. "No sense in pretending to be frozen in time."
"It's what the young people want, you see." Frosty offered a sympathetic smile.
Winter regarded them icily. "You're letting me go."
"And not a moment too soon," said the bunny.
"Now now, Esther," said Frosty, then nodded to the old man. "Think of it as a vacation. Go south, perhaps, enjoy the winter of your years."
Glacially, Papa Winter took Phil inside, pulled on his coat and clapped a hat-shaped cloud onto his head. "You'll regret this," he said, then bid Frosty good day, offered Esther no more than a frigid glance and skiied out of town on legs nimbler than his years suggested.
Thunder rumbled in the distance. A vast black cloud ringed the horizon around Freezytown, and the wind snatched at Frosty's hat as he bumbled into Esther's coffeeshop. It was hot in here, too hot; he dabbed at his forehead and was horrified to see water trickling down his hand, but he had a job to do.
He didn't really want to see the bunny, but he had to. In the few months since Papa Winter had gone, the political climate had changed and he'd watched his constituency steadily melt away. A "green" party had sprouted, and its root seemed to be here, in this little shop.
"Esther, might I have a word?"
The bunny peered imperiously at him through her horn-rimmed glasses, then nodded. "You don't look well, mayor. Want some coffee?"
He didn't doubt it. His necktie hung limply on his gaunt frame; he'd been losing weight at an alarming clip, and his hand nervously rapped on the countertop. "Vanilla, please. Iced."
"We don't serve cold things here," she said and handed him a steaming mug.
"Oh, well." He didn't want to be impolite and tipped it back. The bitter drink stung; he felt like his insides were melting, and he set it down. "We have a problem, Esther. There's another storm coming, you see, and they tell me you're going to let it hail."
"I'm the weatherbunny now," she said. "What I do with the storms is my decision."
"Surely you can't, though! The igloos and icehouses aren't built for that."
"It's not my fault some old fogies haven't felt the way the winds are blowing. Now shoo, you're dripping on my carpet."
Frosty hurried out of the horribly hot shop and headed for his office. An icicle crashed onto the sidewalk behind him, and then a spray of unfrozen rain blasted him. The street was a river, and waterlogged sleighs floated past. He fought back tears; the whole town was washing away before his eyes.
He tried the door to his office, but it was locked. His secretary shook her head and said, "Sorry, sir. Weatherbunny's in charge now that the storm's approaching, and she's said you're not to be let in."
Deposed already! Frosty sagged. There was only one person who could possibly fix this, and he regretted sending the poor old man away. The former snowmayor reached for the phone. "Let me make a call, at least."
The secretary poked her nose over her book, Making It Rain by Donald Soak. "No can do."
Balls of ice smashed against the walls, pounding them like the fists of an angry mob as Frosty tore through Papa Winter's things. It had not been a good Friday for the snowmayor. Down below, gingerbread houses collapsed beneath the relentless hail and, despite Frosty's pleas, Esther Bunny refused to stop the storm, saying only that the town would rise again.
From the corner came a chattering, and Phil burrowed out from beneath the sofa. The whistlepig circled Frosty, rubbed against the snowman and squeaked.
Frosty gave Phil a pat. "Sorry, boy. I don't know where he's gone either," he said, and then he realized what he had to do.
The snowmayor searched the house and found an old oil lamp and matches, lit it, and hoisted the light high over the groundhog. Phil glanced down, sprinted back under the sofa and at just that moment the front door banged open.
"I'm home," said Papa Winter. He glanced at Frosty, then at the hailstorm outside. "Seems you've gotten yourself in a proper fix, mayor. Need you really torture poor Phil just to find me? I have a Snapchat, you know." The old man snapped his fingers, and in a moment the pounding hail stopped and delightful snowflakes drifted lazily down from the sky.
They went out on the porch, and Frosty took off his hat. "You've saved the town again, Papa."
Winter shrugged and pointed across the road, where a furious Esther emerged from her shop and slipped on a patch of black ice. "You've got six weeks to deal with this, mayor."
"Six weeks? Good heavens, man. At this rate, it'll be summer."
"Indeed, mayor, and I've a mind to take that vacation you offered." Papa Winter smiled. "I hear New Zealand will be nice about then."
|# ? Dec 11, 2016 21:13|
Ash - 857 words
Flash: Story must involve a small dog
(*Edited only because I forgot wordcount*).
On August 16th, an old man named David shot his dog while I watched. It happened so quickly, and I did not stop him. I have no hands or voice, no body. Out there in the woods, I just surrounded the two bodies, one living and one dead, with air - because my name when people knew it was Notos and Auster and many others, and I am wind.
It is hard to interact with people and change their world in any meaningful way. I have grown used to moving the clouds around, running through the grass and taking care of nature and being satisfied with that. Only this time, as the first flies settled on the corpse, I wanted change. I wished things had been different. Sometimes I change from gentle to violent and back - I shrink or swell depending on sun and sea and the great mechanisms of this earth. I felt change coming now, as David picked up the strange body of the dog I knew well, groaning as his joint ached from uncountable age-related sicknesses. He headed back towards his car. I followed, looking at the dog.
It was a mess of an animal. It was the sum of all the breeds found on David’s farm, with ears and paws from wilder things mixed into the bloodline decades ago, if not before. It was fourteen, but had genes from the stone age and wolf-traits that I recognized - and still it was so small. Old like me.
It’s only sin was a limp it had developed. It had started to whine and had become useless for hunting. I had drifted above the vet clinic and heard the late arguments, but I did not understand what the voices below meant by mercy.
Forecasts heralded my coming in many places, but I was too focused on these woods. Earlier, I had scared the birds and led them to the poor dog, letting it show its remaining enthusiasm for the hunt, but it did not run, could not overcome the handicap it suffered. It collapsed in a pile of pained fur, mouth open, eyes glassy. I knew its life would be over soon, but I thought that someone with hands might pick it up and hold it. Take it home.
Blood ran into the murky water in the woods. Not bird-blood. A different scent. A furrow formed between David’s brows. A hole shot through my patterns of gusts and breezes; a gunshot in me.
I gathered myself over the course of David’s car ride back, carried along with the slipstream.
Smoke rose above the crematorium towards evening. I stayed for a while, twisting the black plume into spirals before I abandoned it and went to David’s house. It was a place full of dogs-sounds that I carried down towards the road and the outskirts of the nearby village – at that point all that was left was the faint echoes of barks. Big boulders littered the ground, as old as me.
The dog was in a porcelain urn on the mantelpiece.
From the other side of a glass pane, I saw David pat the head of a much larger, younger dog. I was afraid that that dog should stumble and fall and break a leg. Then this thing started to happen inside me. The forecasts were slowly coming true. Something cold and warm within me met above the house; I grew and shook.
I have newer names than those in Greek and Latin – and some I only use at certain times. At that moment, I had a name in English.
I was Tornado.
Me and David both moved quickly – he tried to save all the things that mattered to him, such as his dogs, a few items from a drawer, and his own life. He had a shelter and the dogs were smart. I didn’t think about them much.
I thought about the urn and the windows and the doors and smashed all of it to pieces. I soared and lifted all the things I had destroyed with me, invited them to be a part of this bigger and greater thing I had become.
Now, the dog was everywhere. Despite its small size, it filled the house. It was with me in a mess of whirling ashes.
The dog was in me, rising above the house and drifting away. It was on the news as parts of the wind that I was, headed east. It was in clouds. It would be in clouds for weeks and even longer in the atmosphere. Tomorrow, it would be dust-motes in the bright sunlight. It would be in David’s lungs. In dogs not yet born. In wolves. Without a body, it was just carbon and hydrogen and smaller amounts of other things that I was made of, too.
I did something almost equivalent to taking a deep breath. Warm and cold air collided, expanded, caused sounds like groaning and whispering and communication audible to David in his shelter and then -
Then I was satisfied at last when the dog-atoms scattered everywhere across the plains and deep into the woods.
|# ? Dec 11, 2016 21:13|
Cold Snap -1166 words
Richard had just put the finishing touches on the crib when he heard Colette call for him. He stepped through the open wall of the still-unfinished barn. He shielded his eyes from the pre-noon sun as it beat down on his small orchard. Richard saw Colette as she walked through the rows of orange trees. When she grew close he saw the swell of her belly beneath her simple dress. Her one arm cradled it absent-mindedly. He had made a fine crib, Richard thought to himself. And they had made a fine baby to place in it.
He strode to her and kissed her. He placed his hand on hers, and hoped to feel a kick. Then he took her hand and guided her to the unfinished barn.
“I have something to show you,” he said.
She ran her fingers along his work and he was proud. Not a single nail or screw had been used. Each piece fit perfectly into the others. It was a work of engineering (a word Richard understood in practice, but not name) and skill (a word Richard did understand).
“Richard,” she said, “there is cold coming.”
“It’s still warm, and will be yet through the season,” Richard said, thankful for the California sun that scorched his skin red but also would brought forth the orange harvest late in the year.
“The wind is changing.”
Richard knew a change of wind at that time of year was disastrous. If the harvest were to freeze before they had a chance to gather it…
“Are you sure?” He didn’t allow himself to show the fear he felt.
“I saw it and I can feel it,” she said. And Richard trusted her absolutely.
After noon the wind changed completely. It carried with it promises of frost. He walked through the grove. Richard and Colette had planted every tree themselves and had tended them for four whole years. This was in addition to the years they had scrimped and saved every piece of money in order to buy the land. This season the trees would finally produce their first fruit.
If Richard could prevent them from freezing.
Richard was no fool. Colette read the almanac to him as it came out. He listened to her nightly before bed as she brought him wisdom from the outside world. They had prepared for winter. Each tree was already wrapped with corn husk and twine. They had spent an entire two days blanketing each individual tree in expectation of what passed for winter in those parts.
Already he felt a chill he had never felt since coming to that land. He and Colette set to work. They rolled what barrels they had between the rows. It was too early in the season, they did not have enough fuel to burn to protect the entire orchard. But they could save the most promising rows. He didn’t allow himself to think of his rotten luck. He let the work overwhelm him.
The sun was setting when he set the first fire in a barrel. Colette had placed the pans on top of the barrels. Then she filled the pans with water as the fire roared beneath them. The cold water sputtered and danced when it hit the hot pan. Soon the pans had filled. A thin steam like a ghost wafted off the pans, lit from below by the fire.
Colette had explained to Richard once how the air traded heat with the steam in order to protect the fragile trees. Richard hadn’t understood it, same as he didn’t understand many things Colette told him.
Richard checked his wood supply. Most of what grew nearby was scrub and brush. It was dry, but it would burn quickly.
“We don’t have enough to last the night.”
“What if we were to cut the weakest of the trees and use them to protect the strong?”
As much as the thought terrified him, the suggestion was a sound one. But there was no time with which to chop down a single tree, much less to dry the wood out for burning.
The question in his mind became a game of what is better. Was it better to keep the trees wrapped or should he use the dried corn husks as fuel for fires to heat steam in the groves?
Colette, as always, seemed to read his mind. She rushed into the house and when she returned she labored under every single scrap of clothing or linen or blanket within the house. They wrapped the trees with these and added the corn husks to their dwindling supply of wood.
Richard and Colette sweated as they worked. The flames were so hot that it was hard to imagine that the majority of the orchard, which they had abandoned to the cold, had already turned to frost.
“It’s not enough,” Colette said. And it wasn’t.
Next came the furniture. The table, their scant two chairs. The frame of their bed. All things Richard had formed with his two hands. They could sit on the floor, eat on the floor, sleep on the floor. It mattered not to Richard. Present hardships were nothing to him. He watched Colette work. She moved with strength and purpose. He stared in wonder. He considered the child within her. Yes, he thought, present hardships mean nothing with the promises of the future. And the future was in this orchard.
As Richard smashed his belongings into kindling a prayer formed in his mind. Please. Please let this be enough. Please no more. We’ve sacrificed enough. The fire gleamed off the globes of the oranges, which glistened as they collected steam. Colette gathered more water. Blisters formed on both their hands.
When the furniture burned through, they tore boards from the unfinished barn. It was past midnight. They took everything but the skeleton, the support beams that could not easily be dismantled. The barn could be rebuilt, he told himself. It hadn’t even been finished in the first place. But his rationalizations failed him. It was harder and harder to convince himself. There were so many fires. If it had been the next year he could’ve used money from this harvest to hire hands that would help him. Then everything could be saved and he without him having torn his life apart.
But best not concentrate on what-could-be, he thought. He needed more fuel. The was only one more thing to burn: the crib. He had to, yet he hated himself for it. He yanked it apart, broke the perfect joints, shattered the slats. He carried it to the orchard like a dead thing. He fed the broken crib to the flames.
Richard and Colette tended to the trees until the sky turned pink with dawn. He examined the oranges. Not yet ripe, but they had not frozen in the night. He hoped it was was worth it.
“The wind is starting to change,” Colette said. And Richard felt that it was true.
|# ? Dec 11, 2016 21:25|
Pray for Rain
flerp fucked around with this message at 21:02 on Dec 26, 2016
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 00:15|
Weather Forecast: Overcast Skies
Work Count: 821
On the day my father died it rained. More than that, it poured. I sat, knees to chest, in the closet, next to his shoes. They were so much bigger than my own. I was barefoot and the carpet was soft. I wanted to sleep there, tucked between his briefcases, and pretend I wasn’t a fatherless boy. My mother found me. I don’t know how. I sat very still and never cried. I just kept staring into those dark little holes in his shoes and listening to the pitter patter on the roof shillings of the house we would soon be forced out of.
My mother found me, but I don’t think she really saw her youngest child sitting there, among her dead husband’s shoes, barefoot and cold. Her eyes scanned my body until they rose above my head and lingered at the height where my father’s face should have been. She pulled a dress shirt from the rod above me and left me in the darkness. Thunder rumbled outside and a flash of lightening illuminated the shape of my mother through the crack in the closet door. I saw her sink into the side of the bed she never slept on until her body was consumed by the covers of grief. The sound of her sobs drowned out the storm.
When my mother died I was in Arizona, at college. It was hot, which was nothing unusual, but as I read the text from my older brother who had never left home, I staggered under the weight of Santa Ana winds only native to our home town. The bus ride was long, stifling. I didn’t want to see her body so I drank Tequila in the tiny backyard littered by broken lawn chairs and faded children’s toys, watching my brother’s kids chase each other with a water hose.
When my brother asked me to stay with them after the funeral my voice came out flat and dry, like the wind. He drove me to the airport in the sane beat up station wagon my mom got after the debt piled up and the bank repossessed, our car, our house, our lives. I picked at the cracked upholstery and pretended not to notice how many times the car turned over outside the Greyhound station.
“You know, Javier, you don’t have to go to that school,” he said, cranking the key.
“You and me, we can go somewhere new. We can,” he tried again, “we can go to New York. Florida. Hell, we can go to Alaska. Any of those places on those post cards you used to pin to the wall. Martha will watch the kids for a few days. I’ll take some time off from the auto-shop.”
“I’ve got to get back, Carlos.” The engine refused to yield.
“What’s the rush? That’s an art school, man. With talent like yours, you don’t need some school telling you how to make your mark.” He looked tired. Older than I remembered. He smiled, a broken half-assed clip of hope I remembered seeing when we were kids and I still believed in dreams.
“Thanks, Carlos. I mean it, but I’ve got to go.” I grabbed my backpack and ran. I ran from my brother and the car that wouldn’t start and the hometown where my parents were buried and the plots on either side of their graves reserved for my brother and me. I left him, standing, one leg out of the car, the other inside it, wanting to run after me and not knowing how. But then I heard the car start and he got back in and drove away, back to the life I was supposed to have.
I took a seat next to the window and pulled out my sketch book with the charcoal pencil shoved in the binding from my backpack. I looked out at the sky. It was grey, overcast. It was just as inspiring as it always had been to me. Dark and brooding, the sky didn’t make any promises. It just looked down on me and I looked back at it, a sad understanding passing between us. It wasn’t beautiful, but I loved it. I loved it because I loved myself. I loved that I didn’t cry, torrents of rain. I loved that I didn’t scorch, others with my hatred.
I bit the back end of the pencil, hesitating above the unblemished surface of the page. Yes, I was apathetic. Yes, I was grey. Yet, unlike the brother I left behind, with his fully illustrated life of sorrow and dead ends, I didn’t hate myself, or my life, or what the world had done to me.
I could love myself because I knew like the storm, the guilt for leaving would pass.
I knew I was an unfinished sketch.
As the bus pulled away, I pushed the pencil down and made a new mark.
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 01:12|
forecast: heavy fog
word count: 880
Vanessa won’t go outside and even though I tell her it’s fine, a few minutes won’t kill her, why not take a peek at the sun before it’s choked off entirely, she stays inside in the basement, reading a stack of New Yorkers that Dad left behind. Some people are like that: paralyzed. I’m not, though, I can’t just stop because then I’ll start sinking into the quicksand, so instead I’m a volunteer medic, I’ve been driving around town and strapping oxygen masks on the poor folks that can’t afford them.
Vanessa tells me it’s a waste, giving the less fortunate a couple hours of relief before they’re back to struggling for air. Cruel, even. I ask her what she’s doing to help, and she puts down the magazine and tells me there’s no point fighting entropy. She says the fog’s going to get thicker. She says it’ll creep into even the well-fortified places, that even the privileged won’t be able to escape it by the end of the month.
“We’re resilient,” I tell her. “We’ll find a way.”
“It’s possible,” she says, “for things to be so hosed up, we can’t find a way.”
“That’s not now,” I tell her. “If it was all over, we’d know. We can scramble back.” I place a hand on the back of her neck, and she resists. “But we’ve got to stop folks from dying first.”
I don’t stop folks from dying. This is a convenient fiction, but I need those -- convenient fictions -- if I’m going to keep Vanessa from the edge, if I have any hope of tearing her away from those stacks of magazines. She points to an article from a few years back, something about a gas leak from an oil pipeline, and hands it to me like a religious tract. This blank, empty, I-told-you-so certainty. I tell her no one knows the fog came from the pipeline, that there’s hundreds of explanations, a good dozen of them niche theories of divine retribution, but plenty of them plausible. I like the one about an earthquake releasing the gasses into the atmosphere from an unforseen fissure.
“Nobody’s fault,” I tell Vanessa.
It’s hard to come up with the soothing explanations when I’m passing the corpses of the folks I helped yesterday. Today even sweet, strong Declan, who in better days showed me pictures of his SCUBA diving exploits and even recently met me each day with a defiant smile -- even he’s passed on, been choked out of his last breaths. I don’t safe getting out of the ambulance long enough to bury him, but I say a prayer, even though I don’t believe in God anymore. (I tell Vanessa to pray, I tell her God is good, but she sees right through me, and why shouldn’t she?)
I still have my regulars. Gloria and her child, a sickly toddler, huddle in the basement of an abandoned house. I greet them with a beaming grin, and give them their masks, and they thank me, they pass on some of the Mac ‘n’ Cheese boxes they’ve scavenged from their sojourn a few towns north. Later I visit Ralph, who’s pushing ninety and who’s able to troop the fog out better than the athletes. He still lives on the second floor of the bungalow he raised he family in, and it makes me wonder why Ralph gets to live carelessly and the carpet of others don’t get to live carefully. I regret giving him another mask -- at this rate, the ambulance will be out of oxygen by the end of the month -- but Ralph is one of those people who just might think of something.
You never know.
On the way home, I catch sight of every telephone pole only just before I pass it. It’s impossible to drive safely in the fog, so I’m glad there’s no other cars on the road. But I start thinking -- what if I drove into one of those telephone poles? The ambulance is build like a tank, so I’d survive, but then maybe I could just curl up with Vanessa in the basement, pass magazines back and forth, and share little nuggets of cynicism.
But people are counting on me. For just a little while longer.
Whenever I return to the basement, and I find Vanessa sleeping there, I always worry that the fog has slipped in somehow, that it’s waged war against the battened window panes and won, and then I don’t know what I’d do. So I shake her awake, every single time, until she says “I’m here,” and I say “God bless you,” because I don’t know any other words, and then she usually rolls over and falls asleep.
In the furthest corner of the basement I curl up with an old battery-operated shortwave radio and listen on the lowest volume for some optimism to feed off of. There’s a lot of forlorn music, a lot of droll listings of casualties, but it takes me almost a half an hour to find what I’m looking for. Through the radio waves, cutting through the toxic fog from who knows where straight into my basement, comes a very confident alto straining at “O Holy Night.”
It’s so imperfect I could die.
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 03:00|
Despite all his recent graffiti, Jake still couldn't quite draw a swastika. The one he had spray painted on the sidewalk in front of the youth center looked so much like a fancy X the neighborhood kids had busted up the concrete and dug down deep looking for buried treasure. The "feet" just never ended up pointing the right way. Jake splashed more gasoline out of his can onto to the dry grass. These swastikas didn't need to be perfect. His unwelcome neighbors would get the message.
Jake could still picture their smug Mexican faces as they lectured him on not cutting in line at the Piggly Wiggly.
"We're from Guatemala," the little boy had said.
"Like which Mexican country matters,” Jake had said, pushing past him to the register. “Y’all cut right into this country. So don’t lecture me."
"Somos refugiados," the old woman had said.
"We're refugees," the boy had said. "We have asylum."
"Refugees my rear end," Jake said aloud to himself as he now prowled around their property. In the moon's faint light he splashed out more gasoline in a crude swastika pattern. Jake's grandfather didn't fight Nazis in World War 2 so some Mexicans could invade and make Jake feel like an alien in his own drat country.
Jake had said as much to those Mexican Guata-whatevers. And what had they said in return? Some nonsense about wind.
"El viento," the father had started ranting in gibberish.
The boy had chimed in with American translation. "The wind scatters all. People have migrated around forever even when they don't want to. Especially when they don't want to. Artificial boundaries cannot stop it."
Jake would stop it
Lights flickered through the windows of the house down the hill. Good. They were still awake and watching TV. Maybe they would see the fire rolling down at them, the big flaming symbols of white pride Jake would unleash. A gust of wind caught the bill of Jake's baseball cap. He slapped a hand over his head to stop it from blowing off. He fished his matches out of his pocket.
In the parking lot Jake had stopped his truck in front of their little beat up Hyundai. He had given the whole family the finger then peeled out. At the first stoplight they had caught up to him. The older ones had stared ahead. The little boy had glared at him in defiant silence. At the next light they had ended up next to each other too. And the next and the next. It turned out they were his neighbors. The Mexicans lived just a few hundred feet downhill from his trailer.
Jake turned his back to their house to shield his matches from the wind. He dragged one across the book's rough strip. He stared at the little dancing flame and wondered what it must have been like to discover fire. It was probably a white man who first figured out how to bang rocks together or whatever to make it. It had probably been stolen by the lesser races.
Jake titled the lit match against the others and they ignited with a flaring sizzle. He dropped them in the gasoline soaked brush. The fire followed Jake's design, creating a kind of curvy, hooked X. It spread along the dry grass until it found another of Jake's gasoline swastikas and ignited. Then it went AWOL. Instead of going downhill like it was supposed to, the fire went up.
"poo poo," Jake said, as a steady current of air sent the fire further and further uphill. "No, no, no." He took off running for his trailer.
Somewhere downhill a door slammed. Jake could hear shouting over his own harried breath. He glanced back to see the flames now fanning out and creeping toward him. The dark figures of his neighbors appeared at its edges. He charged into his home to save his valuables.
Jake was still slinging rifles over his shoulder when dark tendrils of smoke started creeping through the cracks of his trailer. He kicked the door open to find a hellscape roaring all around him. He doubled back and clamored over his couch to the window. Through the dirty glass he spied his Mexican neighbors, buckets in hand, no doubt there to loot him.
“You gently caress off!” Jake called out to the marauders as he slid the window open. One of the Mexicans dumped her loot bucket out, sending a small splash of water into the flaming brush.
Jake pushed his upper torso out of the window. He twisted around to angle a gun through the opening only for another to get wedged against the wall. He craned his neck around to his truck. Flames danced all around it. The hose he had used to siphon gasoline still danged from the tank.
A hand grabbed Jake’s arm. A dark figure had thrown a blanket down underneath the window. The man stomped at the flames now licking out from underneath the trailer
“Vamonos!” the man said. He unsheathed a long serrated blade.
Jake whimpered, but before he could plead for his life, the Mexican cut through the rifle straps keeping Jake wedged in the window. Jake tumbled down to the hard earth. Rough hands grabbed Jake’s collar and hoisted him up again.
Jake stumbled through smoldering brush for a few steps until a force knocked him and his attacker forward onto their faces. Roaring filled Jake’s head. Debris rained down through the trees. His truck’s smoking side view mirror landed with a plunk in front of Jake. Jake felt himself being dragged forward again. Again both Jake and the man dragging him were knocked flat.
A pillar of fire reached up toward the trees setting branches ablaze. Dark smoke blotted out the light of the flames. Jake guessed his trailer’s propane tank had gone up. More hands grabbed Jake and the man who had tried to gut Jake with a knife. The Mexican family dragged them to the dirt road, away from the inferno.
The little boy wrapped his arms around his father’s neck.
Flames enveloped Jake’s trailer. The fire swirled around caught in an updraft. “This would be pretty badass,” Jake said, “if everything I owned wasn’t being burnt all to poo poo.”
The Mexican man started speaking his gibberish.
The little boy translated. “After my father stood up to the drug gangs in our neighborhood they burnt down our store. Then they set fire to our house. We fled north and started over. It is possible to start over here. You can do anything in this country.”
Flashing blue and red lights appeared down the road. The police car skidded to a halt when it caught Jake and the Mexicans in its headlights. One deputy shouted into the radio. The other burst out of car, his hand on the weapon at his hip.
“What the hell is going on here?”
Jake considered the little boy’s words. He cleared his throat and stepped forward. “This family . . .” he looked back to the huddled Mexicans, the flames spiraling up behind them. “These Mexicans burnt my loving house down!”
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 03:15|
newtestleper send me a pm when you get a chance with your email (or however you want to communicate about judging).
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 05:10|
Weather Forecast: Drought
Round White Pebbles
steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at 20:37 on Dec 31, 2016
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 05:30|
Nobody Could Think of a Good Hashtag, Though
Prompt: Volcanic Eruption
Flash Rule: A Happy Ending
Fafnir smelled trouble, over the salt surf and slightly sulfuric smoke coming off the mountain. All was well with his other senses. He saw the surfers riding the waves in, heard the ocean and the low seismic rumbles of the mountain, felt the warm sun and the prickling of his slowly regenerating wing-stubs on his back.
“If you're here for a fight,” he said without turning around, “Can it wait a few days? I'm on vacation.”
“No.” It was a young woman's voice. “What made you think-”
Farnir turned around. “I can smell your dad's powers and weapons on you,” he said. “You're the new Dragonslayer, right?” She nodded. “So why else would you track me down?”
“Honesty,” she said, “I still don't get why you and he fought so much. I mean, you're both heroes, right.”
“What they tell me,” said Fafnir.
“I never knew him, you know. Didn't even know who he was until I woke up with powers and the Sharpest Sword and Unbreakable Shield crashing through my window. I guess I just wanted to talk to someone who did.”
“All right, Grab a couple of beers and sit down- wait, you are old enough to-”
“I'm twenty-five,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Also, like more than half of both of our twitter followers have been shipping us since I went public, a sort of Buffy/Angel kind of thing, so I thought I should at least meet you.”
“Let's make a deal: I'll pretend to understand more than half of those words if you promise not to explain them.”
* * *
“Thing about your father, he was a bit of an rear end in a top hat. Also gullible as hell, ready to believe whatever anyone pretending to be with the government said about me. Blamed me for his own father's death, which is fair, but your grandfather, the first Dragonslayer, was a loving Nazi so I've never even felt bad about that one. And a couple of times your dad was possessed by his dad's ghost.”
* * *
“I mean, I knew Mom had a wild life before I came around, was a major cape-chaser, but I never knew which one she managed to catch. So why here?”
“Why did you go here for your vacation?”
“Oh,” said Fafnir. “Well, I spent a year or so here back in the seventies. Got cursed, transformed into a human with no powers, so I laid low. Watched the beach. Learned to surf. Just about the only thing I missed when it wore off.”
“Why can't you surf now?”
“Too heavy. I'd sink the board.” Fafnir sat up. “You hear that?” The Dragonslayer shook her head. “Someone in trouble, on the slope.” He ran toward the mountain slope, and she followed.
* * *
“God drat it,” said Fafnir. “Recording. Got to be some kind of trap.” Sure enough, four orange-metal robots stepped out from behind a small outcropping and attacked.
The Dragonslayer swung the Sharpest Sword at one, taking it in the arm. The blade stuck in, and the robot fired a laser beam from its other hand at her. “That stings!” she said.
“Then use your shield,” said Fafnir, punching one of the robots in the chest. The metal dented, then reformed. “None of you ever did use the shield enough.”
“Say,” she said, “After this is over, you want to grab dinner or something?”
“Are you asking me on a date?” asked Fafnir, pulling on a robotic arm, stretching it a few inches but not getting it loose.
“Wouldn't want to disappoint the fans,” she said, wrenching her sword free.
“You don't want to go out with me. My track record there ain't good.”
“Please,” said the Dragonslayer as she sliced off the robot's laser finger, “Out of us, I'm the disaster.”
“Nora Wilde, first girl I met in modern times. Dead.” Fafnir leaped into a robot, knocking it down and standing on its chest.
“Cory Grisham. First guy I dumped, killed himself two weeks later. Mentioned me three times in the note.”
“Liz Cole. Died, then undead, then regular dead again.”
“Sam Ligget. Dumped me for his quarterback, came back saying he thought he might be bi, then decided he was all the way gay.”
“Ravenshadow. Joined up with her ex and became a supervillain.” Fafnir, still standing on the robot's torso, grabbed an arm and started pulling.
“George Gamil, Ed Blevin, March Loris. Same deal, without the super-” She brought the shield up and bashed one robot into another. “These are pretty tough for robots, aren't they?”
“Yeah,” said Fafnir. “Circuitry, Alchemy, and Sorcery. Babel tech, this has to be The Tower's trap.” The arm pulled loose, and he started swinging it at the robot's head. “Where was I? Right. The Moment. Supervillain all along.”
“Bill Baker. Same.”
“Well, he dealt cocaine. What's the Tower want from this? I mean, these things couldn't actually beat you-”
She was interrupted by an explosion that would have liquified her eardrums before she got the Dragonslayer's powers, as the mountain erupted.
“drat!” said Fafnir. He looked at the outcropping the robots had hidden behind. Not tall enough. He grabbed the stone and lifted, using all of his draconic strength to pull a chuck of stone out of the mountainside. The lava, flowing in waves faster than natural, parted around it and left them safe for the moment.
“So, um,” said the Dragonslayer. “How dangerous is lava? I mean, to us.”
“Dangerous enough to kill you. You or just about anyone short of the Paragon Family. Me, well, worse than death. I fell into lava once. Burned to the bones, then kept trying to regenerate for centuries with no space to grow. When people finally cracked those rocks and brought me back, I went full-on berserk, killed everyone for miles around.”
“Yep. Now, turns out they were all loving Nazis, so I don't lose much sleep over it or nothing. We're in some trouble here. Too far to jump to safety, and this rock isn't going to survive the next wave.”
“Is there going to be a next wave?” asked the Dragonslayer. An explosion from the mountain answered her question. “I have an idea.”
* * *
Fafnir shot the curl, surfing the wave of lava with the young blonde Dragonslayer on her back, riding her Unbreakable shield on the molten earth, the joy of it outweighing the burning sting of the occasional droplet of lava.
They reached the water where the molten rock turned merely scorching and got down.
“Lots of people going to need help,” said Fafnir. “You go left, I'll go right.”
“Gotcha,” said the Dragonslayer, handing him a card. “Here's my contact. When you track down the Tower, call me. My fight too.”
“Sure,” said Fafnir.
“Great, Faffie, it's a date!”
Faffie? “It's not a-” he said, but she was out of hearing, especially after the blasts. He smelled trouble, speeding away.
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 05:42|
All That’s Left
Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 21:41 on Dec 31, 2016
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 05:55|
Nobody Wants to Die Here in the Strip Club
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 15:22 on Jan 2, 2017
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 06:59|
My mother and I, whenever it was still daylight out, would sit down next to the bathtub and watch our two rubber ships collide with each other. The rules were this: if a ship hit the side of the other ship, then it was “sunk”, and you could only touch the water around your ship and not the ship itself. Mine was a little blue tug-boat that had a grinning face on its smokestack, and my mother’s was a kayak with a rubber duck situated inside of it. We called the game “Splash Boat.”
Conventional wisdom says that, during a storm, you’re supposed to keep the bathtub full for drinking water, but my mother would always use it to keep the toilets running — things are much better for morale that way. If the water wasn’t running for more than a week or so, we would dump a jug of water back into the bathtub. We called this “The Filling of the Arena.”
My mom’s been gone for four years now and I’m still here. She bought this house in the eighties and had lived there ever since, raising me as an only-child. She passed when I was nineteen.
This year’s storm, if you’ve been listening to Jay’s latest ad on the radio, is going to be the worst one in two decades. Jay makes a killing during storm season, and he’ll admit to it, too, but only if he likes you and you catch him outside of the store.
“Honestly, it’s the booze that really sells. People’ll go crazy after a few days with nothing to pass the time with.”
This neighborhood is old. During a storm, we’re the first to lose power, and the last to get it back — power outages here are measured in weeks instead of days. One or two houses a year just plain don’t make it past the season.
Sometimes, I’ll tell myself that I’ll just wait for it to be this house’s turn, that it’ll get washed away and then things will work out from there; honestly, though, it’s the idea of what’s next that really frightens me to the core.
I drove to Jay’s the day before the storm was meant to hit. Jay stood there at the front of the store and I could see the back of his balding head. He was directing a group of shoppers towards an impossibly tall pallet of water bottles — it was stacked so high that people had been pulling out cases from the middle, like a Jenga tower. I reached the canned-food aisle and the shelves were picked empty, so one of the stock boys grabbed a box from the back for me.
Jay now stood near the registers, next to a crate of liquor. We made eye contact as I was checking out, and he made a “come-on” face and gestured towards the alcohol. I took the two twenty-dollar bills out of my pocket and pointed at the box of food with them. He knew me well enough to know that was all I had with me.
“Alright, alright. Take this one, it’ll be on me.” he said, handing me a bottle of vodka. I thanked him, paid for my food, and headed for the parking lot, but he caught me again on my way out.
“Hey, Rebecca,” he said. “How’s your place holding up?”
“Same as always. Things are good.”
“You know, that house isn’t going to be there forever. Your mother bought that place ages ago — and houses around here don’t tend to last as long as that one has.”
“Have you ever thought about selling it?”
“Sell it and do what?”
“You could go to school with that money.”
“…And then do what?”
“Then you can get a job…”
“I have a job.”
“You can get a job that you actually like.”
I looked around the store — the tower of water pallets was about ready to buckle.
“I’m not so sure that those jobs even exist, Jay.”
It started to rain on my way home, and by the time I arrived, the wind had picked up and the clouds had started to fold in on themselves. It would be hours before things got any worse, but this would be the last time that I’d be outside for a few days. The neighborhood doesn’t usually flood, but live-wires do like to snap, and they’re hidden quite well by the puddles that form after the storm.
I went inside and prepped the fridge by putting it on its coldest setting, and then I poured a dixie cup of the vodka. It burned the back of my throat, but it was warm in my chest and things felt good shortly after. I brought the cup with me upstairs to the bathroom.
I opened the faucet valve. It began to hiss, and then white-water rushed out of it in a steady stream. I fetched the tug-boat and the duck-in-a-kayak from their shelf and placed them in the water — the duck at the end of the tub, and the tug-boat in front of the stream of water, which propelled it outwards. I took another drink from the cup and then put it down on the floor in front of me. The tug-boat had started veering off course into a crash-trajectory with the side of the tub.
My mother used to say to me: “There’s a big world out there, Becca. Don’t you worry so much about the small things; you’ll have much bigger problems when all of it’s yours.”
I think about those words often, except I keep substituting the word “World” with “Home” and it makes me feel a little better.
The tug-boat sat motionless, anchored to the side of the bathtub. The wind outside howled fiercely for a moment.
There’s something in me that knows this isn’t what she meant by that.
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 07:05|
Submissions closed. See you tomorrow for JUDGING.
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 07:09|
PROM oh wait oh geez sorry I think I messed up there haha whoops. You want to go again or just--yeah I'll just--yeah
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 07:24|
gently caress, I can't reach the IRC to let them know of my late posting but ah well here's a latepost that's a DQ. I'm fine with that.
Hovering Away (Word Count: 1076 words)
Prompt: Freezing Rain.
FLASH RULE: It's set in the FFFFFUTURE.
The rain had started to pelt Peter’s hovercar. The radio did mention a possible hail storm that day, but the chance was low enough to consider non-consequential. Needless to say, this didn’t stop the hovering vehicle from speeding down the roadways. As Peter tried to use the windshield wipers, he found that they eventually stuck to a rain drop.
“What the hell?” he asked himself. “Is the rain freezing?!”
With all this newly-formed ice on his windshield, Peter couldn’t see much. But his speed kept the same, even if it was unsafe for this weather.
“In two miles, make a right turn,” an automated voice spoke through the car’s internal speaker system.
“At least I’m close to home. Just hope I can get there and ride this storm out,” Peter mumbled.
As if on cue, the hovercar started to wobble. The rain had started sticking to the car’s anti-gravity pads that stuck out from the chassis. Yet still, Peter’s foot was on the acceleration pedal.
“In one mile, make a right turn.”
A crackling sound could be heard over the speakers. The freezing rain had managed to seep through the cracks of Peter’s carbon fiber hood. The electronics were in the process of being fried. Peter couldn’t help but panic and fear for his safety, despite going unreasonably fast in the rain.
“In a q-quarter mile, make a- KRZZZ- a left t-t-t-t-t-“ The automated voice finally gave out, around the same time the anti-grav pads did. Peter’s car then tumbled down onto the misshapen asphalt below, creating a display of excessive sparks and horrid metal-to-ground grinding noises. The whole body veered off the road, continuing its crash course into the forests beyond. Before Peter even realized just how screwed he was, his head smashed against the chromium alloy steering wheel.
In his mind, he saw a house in the country side. Peter was standing just outside of the home, in the same clothes he had on the moment he crashed. He walked forward, entering the front door.
“Peter! So good to see you, dear,” a female voice called out. The voice’s owner appeared to be of elderly age, complete with wrinkles and short gray hair. However, she was wearing gray clothes, and her head had no face.
“Good to see you too, mama,” Peter responded, as if nothing was wrong. He gave the figure a solid hug before walking into the door behind the two. This door would lead to the dining room, where a set of six plates were placed. Silverware lined the sides of the plates, as if in preparation for a meal.
“Dinner will be ready in just a minute. I’ve one more thing to prepare.” Soft humming could be heard emanating from another door. After a minute, the figure came out of the door with a covered tray in her hands.
“Oh mama, you always make the best meals.” Peter sniffed the air that permeated from the tray. It smelled like turkey or pot roast. The smells were indistinguishable to him.
“Why yes I do. And here’s yours.” The tray was placed in front of him, with the cover being lifted. On the tray was Peter’s severed head, complete with gashes and blood marks.
“Mm-mm. Looks delicious too!” Peter picked up a fork, and began to jab at the head’s eyes.
The car was a smoldering wreck of alloys and carbon fiber. Black smoke billowed from what was once a pristine engine. One of the anti-gravity pads was lodged in a nearby tree. Inside, Peter pulled himself off of the chromium alloy wheel. He looked terrible, what with his face bearing a gash on it. Looking to the door nearest him, he realized he could escape due to how the door survived the extreme impact. In one hard shove, Peter found himself on the ground. A cough got some blood out of his mouth, as he tried to stand up. Walking away from his ruined ride- not to mention being pelted by ice at odd intervals- Peter reached into his pocket. He pulled out a glowing prism of light that had a button in the center of it. Pressing this button, the prism revealed itself to be a smart phone. Acting fast, he dialed 9-1-1.
“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” A voice spoke on the phone.
“My car’s totaled, and I sustained several injuries,” Peter replied.
Just then, the sound of a camera flipping on could be heard. The phone’s front camera was forcibly activated, complete with a blinding flash.
“Uh, sir. Your injuries have the potential to be fatal. I’m sending you a wormhole ambulance.”
“Thank you, officer.”
As if on cue, a portal appeared near the wreck. Out of it came a hovering ambulance, back end first. The back doors opened, with a paramedic popping out to retrieve Peter. The paramedic had on an exo-skeleton, which seemed to attribute to his sudden burst of strength. Peter was then carried into the ambulance and placed on the stretcher. The ambulance then hovered through the portal it had appeared through, complete with a blip to signify the wormhole closure.
Hours had past. Peter’s mind had officially ceased to work properly. The images of the homestead and his meal couldn’t come back to him. It was as if fate gave him death for being a lousy driver.
“Wake up, Peter,” a female voice called out, seemingly in echo.
Peter’s eyes slowly opened. His surroundings were completely white, barring the machinery to the left of him.
“Good, he’s still with us. Feeling okay?”
“Yeah, I am,” Peter replied in a groan. “What happened?”
“That’s great. But um… good news and bad news. Good news is you’re healthy once more. Bad news is, we had to put emergency cranial implants into your head. Your brain was too far damaged to be usable.”
“Oh, that’s not good.”
“While you can function, you’ll have to undergo treatment to re-familiarize yourself to your previous life. Should take a few seconds for the most part.”
“Sounds good, doc.”
“But for now, rest easy. We’ll get you home soon.”
The curtains that made up Peter’s all-white area were pulled aside, revealing a window to Peter’s left. The window let Peter view an infinitely black space, dotted with stars. Earth could barely be seen from this view, with its blue glow seeping forth from the bottom.
Peter gave a nod at this view before returning his head to his pillow.
|# ? Dec 12, 2016 08:02|
JUDGEMENT - Thunderdome CCXXVII
Big thanks to newtestleper for helping out with the judging this week. Overall we both thought this round was a fog of mediocrity broken only by a few small rays of sunshine. And LOTS of proofreading errors. Lets work on that for next week!
Starting at the bottom, we have two DM's to hand out.
Fleta McGurn for a telly story featuring a thoroughly unlikeable protagonist and the apple-obsessed ghost of her twin/brother/lover.
Erogenous Beef for a pointless and twee children's story with terrible dialogue and a dumb ending.
We also have two HM's to award.
GenJoe for a well written story of a young woman unable to let go of the past and without direction for the future. Good prose and some good proofreading also!
Tyrannosaurus for a sweet story with solid dialogue - something that stood out in a week lacking it otherwise.
The winner this week is steeltoedsneakers! His story pulled both of the judges in with vivid imagery and great prose. Wonderful job and good luck judging this week!
Which brings us sadly to the loser, N. Senada. His clumsy retelling of the myth of Ozymandias featured trite prose, grammatical errors, and just too many words.
Thanks for all the entries and as always, eternal shame on those who failed to submit!
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 03:31|
awww poo poo whatup
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 03:56|
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 04:12|
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 04:28|
Thunderdome CCXXVIII - Unqualified
This week's theme is ineptitude - I want you to write a story about it all going pear-shaped for a protagonist in over their head.
Maybe they talked their way into it, maybe they were promoted - maybe they thought they could do whatever it is they want to do but are now confronted by the sudden crushing realisation they don't know what they are doing. Today is the day they deal with it.
Your character is inept and they know it - and it's all gone Pete Tong. Let's party.
Flash rules available, have deputised co-judge Sebmojo to hand them out too. Looking for a third judge.
Word limit: 800 words
Sign-up deadline: Friday, December 16, 11:59 PM EST
Submission deadline: Sunday, December 18, 11:59 PM EST
Watching it all go wrong
Baleful Osmium Sea
steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at 23:33 on Dec 16, 2016
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 05:10|
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 05:14|
Oh man that's an awesome prompt. I am in.
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 05:24|
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 05:29|
What an ironic prompt. In.
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 05:33|
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 05:39|
In. and I'll take a flash rule from one of you.
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 07:36|
In. and I'll take a flash rule from one of you.
my flash rules will be taken from here, quotes from OG skag ninja william motherfuckin burroughs' masterwork naked lunch. If you don't like your quote you may reroll, but be warned you will get two quotes as a replacement.
don't particularly care how you use them but if I can't tell the connection I'll probably push for a DM.
Several Meat Eaters lay in vomit, too weak to move. (The Black Meat is like a tainted cheese, overpoweringly delicious and nauseating so that the eaters eat and vomit and eat again until they fall exhausted.)
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 08:05|
Is that the smallest wordcount we've seen in Thunderdome? It feels like it. Anyway, in, flash rule please. I'll also work on a redemption for the past week, it was not a good idea to sign up during finals week.
Edit: I'm apparently toxxing for the redemption.
Edit edit: Correction: toxx for the week.
Flesnolk fucked around with this message at 19:47 on Dec 13, 2016
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 10:09|
Is that the smallest wordcount we've seen in Thunderdome? It feels like it. Anyway, in, flash rule please. I'll also work on a redemption for the past week, it was not a good idea to sign up during finals week.
toxx up fella
cooked in drained crank case oil
and since i failed as well, here's a to crit every story in each week that I fail in
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 10:14|
In, and I'd like a flash rule from Big Willie B.
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 13:05|
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 13:28|
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 15:06|
Crits for week 227
GenJoe - Misgivings
Melancholy and wistful, the little vignettes of a young woman unable to let go of her past and without direction for the future are earnest and well written. I do wish we maybe had seen something of a change in Rebecca, maybe even a glimmer of hope to make her a bit more interesting, give her a bit more agency. Although I suppose that's the point of your story, that she is lacking those qualities and stuck in neutral. Overall an effective and well written piece.
Tyrannosaurus - Nobody Wants to Die Here in the Strip Club
The breezy tone sort of works for this piece, given the shallowness of the characters and the setting. But my main criticism of this story is the protag is just an inert object who just kind of passively stutters and staggers around not knowing what to say, getting pushed around by Percy, and not really impacting the plot or other characters at all. Then in the second half the story we get a shift into white privilege, which makes a better story but seems clumsy give the breezy tone established earlier. Also some proof-reading errors stood out to me. My co-judge liked this one more than I did.
Benny Profane - All That's Left
I really wanted to like this one more than I did. The concept of this family at war all shoved together in the cellar and forced to hash out their differences should make for a tense but ultimately satisfying story. But I felt like there were too many words in all the wrong places. Not enough attention was given to the central conflict, with the three of them stuck in the cellar. What led them to eventually hold hands down there? Why is this teenager following in the footsteps of his father and why would the mom tolerate it? Everyone just sort of smiles and chuckles and none of it is directly addressed. I think there's some potential in these conflicts for an engaging story. I'd run through it again and chop out the unnecessary bits and flesh out those main conflicts.
Thranguy - Hashtag
This one didn't grab me. I found both characters fairly irritating and the while the banter was somewhat amusing in parts, it wasn't enough to carry the story. Particularly grating was the list of past lovers during the robot battle. I guess the final act of surfing the lava flow was pretty metal but that was the only image that really stuck out in my mind. I was confused about the central conflict in this one, as it shifted from between the dragon and the Dragonslayer to being both of them against the Robots/Tower for no discernible reason. Then the robots just...disappeared?
steeltoedsneakers - Round White Pebbles
Vivid bleak and melancholy imagery. The writing is strong and you do an excellent job of conveying the emotion of the piece through his flashbacks and the imagery. The metaphor of the river was well done. I had a hard time picturing it at the end, however — maybe it was your use of "suspended across the riverbed" that made it sound like it was static; or at least that's how I imagined it. Not very river-like - more like a lake or murky pond. Was that intentional? And the people shuffling mindlessly and zombie-like up the riverbed towards the river definitely made me not sure if the river was a force of good or evil. So for me that made the ending even more ambiguous. Overall really liked this piece.
Jagermonster - Viento
Okay so I have to admit a little guilty pleasure at liking this one. Jake is obviously unlikeable and bigoted trash but his antics and biases were amusing. The idea of the little boy delivering the moral message at the end and Jake's response was very funny. The writing was tight and the action sequence clear and believable. Apparently I have a soft spot for the redneck stereotype because I was thoroughly entertained by Jake and how he viewed this nice family who in the end were only out to help him.
sparksbloom - Good Cheer
It's good although there' are a few proofreading errors. My only beef is that nothing really happens in the story. The mystery fog is there, the protag drives around delivering masks, we get a few little vignettes about his patients, and the sense of impending despair and doom. All delivered fairly well, and I think this would work as an introduction to a longer story, but as it stands it's a little too light on plot for my tastes.
llamaguccii - Unfinished Sketch
Started strong but it fizzled as it went along. Liked the opening scene and the paragraph at the end where you tie in the overcast sky with Javier. But some of the rest of it was a little thin and there were some misplaced commas and proofreading errors (why did he go to the airport to catch a bus?). And then just running off was weird and came out of nowhere. But not a terrible story...a solid middle of the road choice for me.
flerp - Pray for Rain
First of all the word you are looking for is "orchard," not "orchid." Different things entirely. There were a few more jarring errors, like when Sarah briefly became a man when "He handed him the pencil and grinned." I was also confused about the two scraps of paper - the original one was a drawing that he did, but the second was something she drew. I felt like they were supposed to be the same one but maybe not? But overall you did well with a tough prompt. Some very nice touches throughout and the ending was very strong.
hotsoupdinner - Cold Snap
The language feels stilted and excessive, and too melodramatic for my tastes. The story takes too long to get started. It finally gets interesting once he starts chopping up his own possessions to save the orchard. I think more could have been done with that, because the idea of the guy burning all his material possessions (that he seems so proud of) in sacrifice to save the future (ripening fruit, unborn baby) has some meat to it. I would have brought the story to that point much sooner and then examined the effect it has on him with greater depth. The last line I'm not a fan of, except as a callback to the same line near the beginning — but it's not strong enough to hang the end of the story on.
Okua - Ash
Props for doing something different with this story. It is not easy to use the POV of the wind itself. You do a decent job of getting into the mind of the wind, but after a good opener the story did not really hold my attention through the middle section. I don't really understand the motivation of the wind, it seems to be just blowing around, weirdly fixated on this dead dog,. I suppose it is trying to give the little pooch a proper funeral? You allude earlier in the story to how it's hard for the wind to change things, and now it wants change, but it's a little nebulous and unfocused regarding what this actually accomplishes. The old guy already put the dog in an urn it's not like he left it out in the woods to rot. But anyway good try with a tough prompt/flash rule combo.
Erogenous Beef - Frozen Out
Cute but vapid. Some good use of language and it was an enjoyable read. The dialogue was pretty vapid. I really didn't like the ending. Papa Winter just randomly shows up after being excommunicated? Snapchat? Why six weeks? New Zealand? So jarring. Overall you didn't attempt too much with this story so it's hard to write a super detailed crit. I did like this one a bit more than my co-judge so there's that.
N. Senada - Osmond Diaz
Not awesome, very clunky language. Like at the end: "Percy’s body gradually lost its tension as relief washed over him" is a lot of words to say "Percy relaxed." Not sure why Osmond went blind, was that the wrath of some vengeful dust god? What was his crime, other than hubris? Plus Osmond was kind of a wuss. You describe his a having "calloused hands" but he seems more like a dandy with his silk sheets, ceremonial sword, and constant bathing. I think the real Ozymandias would have put up a better fight against this unknown dust god antagonist (which also begs the question - who is this god? Why was he so angry?). The writing could use an editing pass to chop out all the extra words.
Fleta McGurn - Malus Domestica
Okay so the ghost of her twin brother/lover comes back in the form of a plaster apple tree and either saves her from the heat wave or kills her so she can be with him. I guess it's sort of interesting that they are twins and also lovers but boy do you have to tread lightly with that. I never developed any sympathy at all for Marina, she's not a like-able character, so I'm not really rooting for this relationship to work out. There was a long section of exposition in the middle that tuned me out. I also didn't get the significance of the apple tree. Why apples?
Farcaster - To Capture the Clouds
This story should have 'captured' me more than it did. It just took sooo long to get going. And then when it did they went up in the balloon and....failed. I know he saw how pretty Iceland was but that was a pretty lovely consolation prize. The writing was okay, if a little stilted and telly in spots, but my main beef was with the emptiness of the story. And you exceeded the word count, which might have been a clue that you needed to take an axe to the prose.
widespread - Hovering Away
The concept of future man crashing his hovercar in the woods and being forced to survive without all his technological trappings at first got me interested, but then that wasn't the plot after all and instead we got a jarring and irrelevant dream sequence followed by a bunch of gee-whiz techno stuff that just wasn't all that interesting and then he ends up in outer space. And so many words! I mean
Read that again and see if you can't say the same thing in five words. Also, who is Peter? Where was he going? Why should I care about him?
Peter reached into his pocket. He pulled out a glowing prism of light that had a button in the center of it. Pressing this button, the prism revealed itself to be a smart phone. Acting fast, he dialed 9-1-1.
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 16:12|
In and flash me please!
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 16:43|
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 18:05|
In and flash me please!
All houses in the City are joined. Houses of sod — high mountain Mongols blink in smokey doorways — houses of bamboo and teak, houses of adobe, stone and red brick, South Pacific and Maori houses, houses in trees and river boats, wood houses one hundred feet long sheltering entire tribes, houses of boxes and corrugated iron where old men sit in rotten rags cooking down canned heat, great rusty iron racks rising two hundred feet in the air from swamps and rubbish with perilous partitions built on multi-levelled platforms, and hammocks swinging over the void.
In, and I'd like a flash rule from Big Willie B.
Benway traces a pattern in the air with his hand and a door swings open. We step through and the door closes. A long ward gleaming with stainless steel, white tile floors, glass brick walls. Beds along one wall. No one smokes, no one reads, no one talks.
|# ? Dec 13, 2016 21:10|
|# ? Jan 20, 2022 00:08|
And, "in," in the sense that I've already written my entry, and will sit on it for a few days and hopefully not forget to submit it.
So now I'll go back and read the last week's entries to see my this week's entry is so completely different to the millieu of the Thunderdome that I have to write a new entry. That I hope I don't forget to submit.
|# ? Dec 14, 2016 02:03|