Mother says the world is ending. But I was born cold.
There’s a moment, before you’re enfolded, embraced, that it’s just your patched fur and the vampire air. And in that moment I looked up and saw a glowing streak against the black. They fell on me, my Aafay, and I was crushed under the weight of their love, and all I saw was black, and all I felt was fire.
And I almost forgot.
My fur settled, aimed at the cold like an army bristling with spears. My muscles set like clay over my bones. I grew stronger. But with that strength came a hunger that filled my waking days. Hunt for energy, use my energy to hunt. Life, being alive.
In my dreams I could see it. And because in dreams you know things, things that seep in while you’re awake, but you can’t focus on them. I knew the duality of it, the two things that separated it from the black. Unlike everything else, it was falling. None of my Aafay looked up. But I was on my back, staring at the black, and I could see clearly it was falling, and it would land, land somewhere close.
The Aafay crushes me again and I wake up. But I take one other idea with me to daybreak.
But the idea is lost in the whorl of snow, one flicker in cascades of biting ice crystals. I follow it for moments before I realize I’m losing my warmth. And then it’s gone, and I look for things I can see. Sasal, flopping in bliss, tumbling into dark waters, disappearing like a stone. Uskx, who fight with demon rage as I fall upon them. Rac even, seeking to challenge God, staring into the eyes of death, never blinking.
I eat enough to survive. Always moving, looking for stasis. And when I sleep, my dreams settling over me like a shroud, I can hear my mother growling in the background. Her tones blend with the frost gales, just as terrible. The world is ending. We are losing ourselves.
This world, I think, bites, drains. Wounds you like its prey so you can’t escape it. Slips between furs to shape your skin. Underneath it’s tense, hardened, glacial. Your blood freezes and you move slow.
Is it so terrible that it might end?
So now, as life fills my head, I remember the fall, and I hang on to it, even as my body begins its asking. And I begin to move, steadily, but carefully, like the ground could swallow me at any moment.
The world has ended. I was born in fire.
I never knew anything else. Fire and moving shadows and my eyes not strong enough. I never moved, I was moved. Through chrome halls and translucent doors. Mother, carrying me. Mother and Father and me are Miaafiy. Miaafiy is looking for something. Everything is burning.
Outside, air thick with charcoal smoke. Miaffiy is coughing, crying. I know I should be breathing. I can’t. It sounds like anger now. Like fear. Thousands of Miaafiy, all losing each other. Shadows wailing, writhing, breaking.
At the end of the journey I see myself, the me that is not Miaffiy.
I know now what I saw was me. But to me it was just a spirit living in polished steel. It’s tiny and wrinkled and looks scared like I am. I open my eyes wide because it has more colour than a shadow. It opens its eyes too, and I see brilliant shades piercing me, knowing who I am, deep inside myself.
Then Miaafiy shouts, mother, father, me as one. The me in the steel slides away. I grasp for it but it is already gone and already I am forgetting it. Its knowledge of who I am. And what is left, where there was steel, where there was me, is black, empty space. It is void, it is death, and Miaafiy is pushing me inside. I scream louder, but everyone is screaming. The whole world is screaming and so I can’t hear myself. And I am pushed into space, and in the darkness there are serpents, all biting at once. There was light, now gone, now just serpents in the dark. They have me. They are still. Only black.
Time passes. I can’t feel the serpents anymore. Are they gone? I can’t feel anything. There is emptiness inside, and I know, somehow, there is emptiness outside too. We used it up because it was here for us, and then when it wasn’t, we cried. We cried for centuries, and those of us who were left, we lit fires, to burn the need.
I know one other thing, with me in the darkness.
I am falling.
The other is me. We are the same. We live in death.
When I was born my Aafay was strong. Now we are weak. I can hear it my mother’s tones, hear the death on her, all the ones that are gone now leeching them of strength. I sleep rough, the winds, chopped by glaciers, crashing through the veil. I wake before I have even slept.
Now I am following the fall.
I empty my mind of all else. I’ve never done this before. I forget about the need that it is me, for the energy of prey. For the strength of other living things. I trudge through snow that walls me in. I blink as jagged ice collides against my fur, scraping against my back and sides. It all washes together, I think, eventually. What’s part of something else becomes part of me.
I move slow. Moments like days. Glacial over centuries. Covered in frost.
It’s buried. I can only see part of it.
Closer now, treading on ice. It will break and swallow me whole.
The top is round. It peeks out of the ice like it’s hiding. I watch snow land on it. Slide down the sides to join what surrounds it. It’s stained it, I think, over time. The weight of time since my birth. Since its birth. We are the same.
I am close. I sniff it. It smells like far away.
Far away it is cold, darkness falling on barren ground.
I reach out and clasp it. It takes of me hungrily, greedily, but that is okay. It’s what I was meant for, I realize, warmth for another, not into myself. Warmth settles into you. If it’s never taken, it dies in your blood, in your bones, deep in you.
I can hear it. In myself. We are the same, it says.
And I know now to look up. Up at the black sky. But it isn’t black anymore. It shines in bursts of light, bursts of energy. What it has taken from me is now there and I know eventually it will take all of me. Up in the sky, where the colours dance together while we only hope.
We will die, it says.
No, I say. We will be born.
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 03:36|
|# ? Sep 22, 2021 18:54|
Song: Shaking Through
Messiah en Route
I’m on a roll. I can feel it. I wonder if the other passengers can sense it: I am a meteor. I am fire. I am the word. I’m on my way to Washington DC, to confront the mouthpieces of cosmic dissonance on their own turf.
When I board the Greyhound bus, does the driver give me a small, knowing smile and a nod of respect? Does he know he holds the reins of the chariot of change? Or is he just an unwitting conduit for a more cosmic sort of affirmation? These are the strange new questions I have to ask myself every day. I had this revelation, see? That I’m sort of the center of it all. A vehicle for the will of the universe.
The road winds through mountains, then desert, then fields of grain and corn. It’s midday and the sky is bleached pale blue by a hot, merciless sun. I rest my forehead against the window. I can feel the frenetic destiny of all these crops. Harvesting. Processing. Refining. Packaging. Chewing. Molding.
Everyone on the bus is sitting doubled up except me. I got an open seat to my right.
The thing you should know about me is, I want good things for the world. I really do. Having ultimate power could corrupt the wrong person, but not me. I was born for it. Built for it.
The other thing you should know about me, in light of those facts, is that I am going to congress to do a civilian filibuster to save the world.
The bus breaks down on Interstate 80, just outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. We limp over to the side of the freeway and I think, cool, this is happening for a reason, or it wouldn’t be happening at all. I look around the bus, out my window, trying to see what destiny has in mind for me here. At first, everyone just sits in their seats, like this is a minor inconvenience and we’re gonna keep rolling any minute. But we sit there, and sit there, and sit there, and soon iPhones are dying and a very agitated vibe is filling the bus.
The bus driver senses the increasingly hostile mood, so he says, “Anyone who wants a smoke break can step outside, just as long as you stay on the grass and off the highway. We’ve got a technician en route.” And most people are pretty thrilled to get some fresh air, at least, so I follow them outside to see if there’s someone I’m meant to talk to.
There’s a likely looking guy sitting in the scrubby freeway-side grass. The wind trails its fingers through his dark hair. I feel so good and purposeful as I approach him, like, woah dude, you are going to look back on this and realize you were talking to your savior. Maybe he’ll want to be the Mary Magdalene to my Jesus. No, I scold myself, you can’t go on some “look how holy I am” trip.
I’ve been standing a few feet away from the guy, kind of looking at him for longer than is typically advisable, so he says, “Hi?”
“Where you headed to?” I ask.
“Des Moines,” he says, nodding toward the east, toward Iowa.
“Ah, shoot,” I say, lowering myself onto the grass next to him. “You were on the home stretch.”
“Yeah, it’s just been that sort of trip,” he says. “Bullshit at every turn.”
“Did you ever think,” I say, “it’s because you’re not supposed to go there? Sometimes you gotta listen to the universe.”
He laughs. “gently caress the universe, then.”
It’s okay. Vehement disbelievers are just people who want to be proven wrong. Here we are, sitting beside our broke down carriage in a land of flat and verdant emptiness. We're basically in a living parable.
“The universe wants the best for us, it really does,” I say.
“Yeah, that’s why it’s always hurting us and killing us,” he says, looking away from me.
“Hey, hey,” I say, “I’m gonna end all that. I’m going to fix it all. I’m sorry I didn’t start sooner, I really am. But trust in me.”
“No one person can fix this world,” he says, and I feel like he’s missed my point. I’m THE One. “Maybe no amount of people can fix it. Maybe it’s un-unfuckable.”
I stand up. “I’m gonna show you something,” I say. I’m going to give you something to have faith in.
I turn my back to the highway and close my eyes. Traffic is a coarse roar behind me as evening commuters head into Lincoln. I take a step backward, toward the river of sound.
“What’re you doing?” he asks. There’s genuine panic in his voice.
I take another step. And another. Wheels skid on concrete. The roar fades. Now, there is only the idle purr of engines, waiting. I open my eyes when I reach the middle of the road, and there they are before me: a neat row of obedient drivers, all with vague, dreamy looks on their faces. I could make them sit there all day, if I wanted, letting gridlock build up for miles.
I laugh with sheer exhilaration--this is my first miracle--and spread my arms and walk backward, all the way to the opposite shoulder. With a flourish, I wave traffic forward, and they carry on like nothing happened. The guy is on his feet now. He’s got his hands knotted in his hair like, what the hell? And I’m just standing there like, this the hell.
Then I see the driver come round the bus. He makes an all aboard! sort of gesture, and now I notice faint puffs of exhaust coming out of the muffler. The bus, by some counter-miracle or act of sabotage, has come back to life.
My guy looks between me and the driver, then shakes his head and disappears around the side of the bus. I try to wade back through the rush of commuters, but my feet won’t step across that thick white line.
“Stop,” I shout at traffic. But the white water crush of death machines hurtles by, oblivious and indifferent.
There is a faint crackle of tires on pebbles on concrete. The bus is pulling away. I can see my Mary Magdalene--no, my Judas--in the window. He’s not looking at me.
Heat distorts the air above the highway and sweat makes dust stick to my skin. Jesus spent forty days and nights in the desert. Well, I can spend four hours hoofing it to the next station. The spirit has driven me onto this freeway shoulder. Every would-be savior needs a little tribulation.
I turn my back to the sun and set my eyes on the eastern horizon. No more games. No more miracles. The universe needs me in Washington, DC, and I will not be led into temptation again.
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 03:37|
The Cicada, Grief
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 15:11 on Jan 2, 2017
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 03:38|
Now, Sky was a sightless eye, enveloping Earth in its blind and broken womb, but there was once a time when Sky could see Earth.
Before Earth had lit itself aflame in the anger of its birth, sending spirals of furious heat towards Sky, dulling Sky’s depths into thin, polished glass that only reflected the cold oceans and lakes, struck out at Sky in the fury of its newfound existence—there was once a time when Sky watched over Earth, still sleeping, still in its infancy, soft rumblings echoing up from the dirt in the wake of dreams and nightmares. Sky descended down and curled up next to Earth in its slumber, sent gusts of wind across its barren planes, whistling through the shards of rock leaning against each other in the first ever attempt at a lullaby, counted with shapeless fingers the veins of magma running hot underneath Earth’s thick skin. Waited for the joyous birthday, the culmination of everything that had ever been, the moment when Sky would finally be happy.
Mariani shut his eyes, but he could still hear the noises Rosales made as he slurped the cold water from the canteen, mouthful by mouthful. Animalistic slurps, like a pig snuffling through a trough of rotten vegetables. Droplets trickling down an undulating Adam’s apple.
In that moment, they were the most horrific sounds he’d ever heard.
Rosales took a last swig, then put the canteen into his pocket and cleared his throat. Mariani looked up just in time to see the weathered hiking boot slam into his ribs, the kick rolling him onto his back, desert dust in his scraggly hair. He looked up at the clear blue sky, tried to suck all of it into his lungs at once.
“Get up,” said Rosales, wiping sweat off his forehead with one hand, cocking the pistol with the other. “Else I shoot you and the buzzards eat you and poo poo you back out.”
Mariani sat up, then hoisted himself to his feet, coughing through cracked lips.
They were well into Sierra County, at least twenty miles into the Jornada Del Muerto—Journey of the Dead Man. 90 miles of desert, no water, no shade, only freedom if he could survive the entire way. Rosales had slid his tongue over the Spanish syllables like the name of an ex-lover—back when he’d proposed the one-sided agreement.
Rosales and the Boss had ransacked his hotel room, stepping over his bloody, unconscious body to find any traces of the angel dust or the money he could’ve sold it for. They’d found none of it. They’d caught the last trace of the name Mariani Ness before he could remove it from New Mexico. Unfortunately, that last trace was his entire body and the blood within it, and now Rosales intended to wring it free of all—
“Capital,” Rosales had said to him as he’d stared out at the hill of rocks in front of Paraje Perrillo, the gun barrel digging into his spine. “We deal in capital, down here. Drugs. Money. Information. You can sell me your soul, but I can’t sell it to anyone else. I need capital.”
Mariani could hear the distant cawing of a bird circling above. He looked up to try and find it, then yelped in pain as Rosales kicked at the back of his kneecap, crashed to the desert floor.
Looking up at the sky, he thought he could see Ailin’s face for a merciful second, before Rosales loomed over him.
“Let’s take a walk,” said Rosales, standing over him. Rosales had a large backpack slung over his well-tanned shoulders, a wide-brimmed hat shading his eyes. He unwrapped a Clif bar, bit into it as he nudged Mariani with the tip of his boot. “We’ll see if you’re still worth something.”
Now, Sky was a sightless eye, enveloping Earth in its blind and broken womb, an eye made of glass polished by flame, faraway, cold, unflinching, silent.
If there was any bitterness, any animosity towards the Earth that had rejected it on sight so long ago, the Earth that had blinded its own steadfast guardian—it had all dissipated over time, like smoke from an unfed and dwindling fire, cast off into the winds that now roamed Earth’s surface. And for a while the anger subsumed to sadness, until that too, dwindled.
Whatever sadness was left only manifested in tears, which every so often burst forth, whenever Sky could hear the people that lived their lives scuttling across the Earth’s skin like frail insects, people made from Earth’s own design: cruel and short-tempered and bursting with the desire to destroy.
And nothing else could make Sky weep from its one blind eye, nothing but the sadness of what Sky had unknowingly wrought.
“Get up,” said Rosales.
Mariani laid on his stomach, smelling the grimy sweetness of the clay. He planted a hand on the ground, and tried to lift himself up. His head made it a foot from the dirt before his wrist buckled, sending him back to onto his stomach with a whud. Air puffed in and out from his hoarse throat.
It was late in the evening, the last bit of sunlight leaving over the horizon, and there was no city in sight. It hurt Mariani to lick his lips, to shake his head, to open his eyes.
“You have no sense, do you, boy?” he heard Rosales say.
Rosales drew his right boot back for another kick to the ribs, but stopped short. He laughed as Mariani jerked away, expecting more pain. “No sense whatsoever. Just tell me who you gave the money to, and maybe I’ll let you have a quick sip.”
And Mariani started to laugh along with Rosales.
Rosales quickly frowned, looked down at the man at his feet, sun-baked and dehydrated and near-death—and laughing, louder now. “What in the hell—”
You have no sense.
It was what Ailin told him all the time, whether they were kissing passionately or throwing metal ashtrays at each other. Whether it was the first night he’d met her at that edge-of-town biker bar or as she was preparing to leave his worthless rear end forever, money in her pocket, a child in her belly. You have no sense, boy.
I sold it all when I met you, he’d always say.
Mariani let out another strangled laugh, right as the bolt of lightning sliced across the sky.
Rosales looked up as the first raindrop hit his forehead, then blinked as more followed, coming down in scatters, then sheets, growing thicker and thicker. “Oh for gently caress’s sake,” he groaned, fat raindrops pinging off the nickel-plated gun as he leveled it at Mariani’s head, tilted up towards the stormclouds.
Mariani wasn’t looking, only drinking greedily from the darkened sky. The rain softened and numbed his limbs until he couldn’t feel anymore, until the blankets of fresh water felt like cool breeze off the Pacific Ocean, and the roar from the barrel of the gun was just the wind surging through a jet engine, carrying Ailin safely to the East Coast.
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 03:42|
but not me in
crabrock fucked around with this message at 05:55 on Jun 14, 2016
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 03:56|
Submissions are closed!
In honor of the experience I'm about to have reading your stories, here's a bonus R.E.M. song:
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 04:02|
I throw myself upon the mercies of the judges
Temptations, 995 words
Joshua stood in hidden in the dark alleyway. It was sheltered, somewhat, from cold driving rain, but he still rammed his hands into his pockets and shivered. He’d have to move soon, either out into light or back the way he came. The fires of damnation ahead, or the cold walk back to faithfulness. Staying here just meant he’d soak through, standing next to a dumpster.
He stared at the Marigold Theatre, old and rundown but still glorious. It had always captured his imagination, the way the gold trim and bright neon lights caught the eye. Even as a child, even as his father had warned him, he stared at it.
“Don’t step foot in that demonic place,” his father had warned him. “Not unless cheap thrills from those pornographic films are worth your immortal soul. Those gay Hollywood heretics will burn for their perversion, and you’ll burn along with them if you let them tempt you.” Joshua had never asked his father about the Marigold Theatre again. His father wasn’t a man to repeat himself.
He had believed his father for years. Everyone else saw the Marigold as gaudy place that showed old boring movies no one watched, and the occasional student film festival. He had been mildly embarrassed at the time, feeling ignorant and stupid.
Joshua took a few steps forward, out of the darkness. He didn’t see Rebecca, and wondered if she had changed her mind - a convenient excuse, a simple solution to the dilemma. No, she was probably waiting inside, wondering where he was along with everyone else. With exaggerated confidence, he strode forward.
He tried to ignore the old poster, with William Defoe wearing a crown of thorns.
“You made it!” Rebecca called out, sitting alone in the lobbby. “I was starting to think you’d stand me up and I’d see it all alone. Jeez, you’re soaked through!”
“Sorry,” Joshua replied. “My father- I couldn’t get a ride. I had to walk.”
“Well, I guess that’s a good excuse. You can hang your jacket up over there, Frank will keep an eye on it,” she said, pointing to a coat rack. “The rest of the Cinema Club was busy, so it’s just us. A shame, really, I wanted you to mee them. Oh well, I already got our tickets.”
“Oh, okay. I would have bought mine…” He started, but Rebecca waved him off.
“Free movie passes with one guest. One of the employee perks.” She grinned at him.
“Oh… I didn’t realize you worked here.” Joshua never had much of a poker face, and he didn’t have one now. Rebecca clearly saw whatever he was showing on his face. Disappointment? He wasn’t sure how he felt, about this young woman working in this ‘pit of sin.’ Why did he care?
She looked away, and lead him into the screening room. The place was empty besides them, and the quiet was oppressive. “Well,” Rebecca said, trying to break the awkward silence. “Uh, well. The movie should be starting soon. I’m sort of surprised you never seen it, actually. I thought you were a big Scorsese fan. You had a lot to say about his other movies yesterday.”
“My family is… very religious. Uh,” Joshua replied. He opened his mouth, trying to elaborate, to expand, explain why he shouldn’t be here in a way that wouldn’t offend her. “Yeah,” he finished meekly.
“Oh… I could see why that could be a problem,” Rebecca replied. “How did you…? Um, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“I saw Hugo with my nephew,” he said. “It was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater, actually. I asked my uncle about it, afterwards. Turns out he was a big fan too, I think his son was just an excuse. He gave me copies of Raging Bull and Goodfellas to borrow, all the classics.”
“Ha! Not a bad introduction to cinema, all in all. But not this one?” she asked.
“No,” he replied.
“Because the violence and profanity of Goodfellas made me queasy even as I loved every minute. I had nightmares about God judging me, I was so burdened by guilt, but I couldn’t stop watching and rewatching them. And when I read the name of the movie, I knew it was blasphemy, heresy beyond reason. I didn’t even ask my uncle if he had a copy, afraid that he’d say yes, afraid that my father had been right about him the entire time, that he was a godless man who had stolen my aunt away from the Lord,” he didn’t say.
“Like I said, my family is very religious,” he said instead. “I was pretty conflicted about watching it.”
“Well, I’m glad you came,” Rebecca said, smiling. “It’s one of my favorites.”
“You’ve seen it before?” Joshua asked, but the lights started to dim as the movie began.
“Are you okay?” Rebecca asked, concerned.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Joshua replied, desperately trying to wipe the tears away. “Just a little… I’m fine. Sorry, I’m sort of ruining things.”
“No, no!” She said, pulling a tissue out of her purse. “It’s okay! I’m sorry the movie upset you, I know it’s a bit much. I shouldn’t have suggested it. I mean, I know you’re religious.”
He took the tissue and breathed deeply, trying to get himself under control. “It’s not that. I’m just… It… it provoked a response, I guess. Sorry, I’m being pathetic.”
She slipped her hand into his, and squeezed it. “You don’t have to pretend to like it. I won’t be hurt.”
Her hands were so soft, so smooth. Something roiled inside him, making him feel sick in a way that was strangely pleasant. The devil would be attractive, his father always said. “I liked it. I’m glad I came. I wasn’t expecting it, is all.”
She squeezed again. “You should join the Cinema Club. I’d like it if you came. We meet after school on Thursdays.”
“Okay,” he said.
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 04:21|
you're not DQed (any further late stories will be DQed)
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 04:29|
Ah hell. Well, I'm posting anyway.
Song - Orange Crush
In the early morning, Henry’s line gave up their last bits of warmth in spastic, little puffs. The officers across from the breathed at regular deep intervals, producing mighty clouds. Henry did his best to emulate the latter. He felt like his lungs were caught in a vise, and each intake of cold air clamped them a little tighter. His fingers ached, not yet numb. He wanted to bring them up to his mouth, but he didn’t dare raise his arms unbidden. Instead, he focused his energy on trying to dig his toes into the packed dirt. It didn’t work.
The officers would start from left to right. He didn’t want to turn his head to count, but there were at least fifteen people between him and the start of the line. He would get some sense of his chances before it was his turn.
They approached the first person.
“What are you?” asked the officer.
“A butcher,” said a man.
The officers ordered him out of line. Group one. They moved on to the next person. No words were spoken. Straight into group one. Henry risked a glance. It was a boy, maybe 15. The next in line was an older gentlemen. He was a tailor, and the first member of group two. Henry concluded that group one probably stood a better chance than group two. He didn’t intend to be a part of either.
The officers continued down the line, processing a dentist, a librarian, and a bar tender. Henry said a silent prayer in thanks. None of the others had seen what he had. That, or they weren’t stupid enough to attempt it. If too many people had tried, the ruse would be obvious.
His fingers and toes didn’t hurt anymore. He couldn’t feel them anymore. Getting caught would be cause for death, but this was only autumn. Freezing to death would be just as bad as execution.
That didn’t stop the doubts. Would he be able to perform an assigned task? Would they ask him questions? Could he provide acceptable answers? Were his hands to rough or smooth? Would one of the others betray him? Was there an easier lie to tell? Could he leave the others behind? He didn’t have good answers for any of them. Against these questions were two certainties:
Mechanics worked in a factory.
The factory workers had a uniform.
The officers approached him. He directed his eyes towards his feet. They were grey, with flecks of dirt all over.
“What are you?” they asked.
He hadn’t realized that he was holding his breath. The officers paused. Then one grabbed his shoulder and pulled him out of line.
“Follow,” the officer said, without releasing his grip. He escorted Henry to a building across the compound. The building groaned with the sound of metal on metal. A factory, no doubt producing something for the war effort.
Twenty minutes later, Henry had shoes, numbers, and a spot on the assembly line. Some metal contraption was placed in front of him with three loose bolts in a vertical line. He was supposed to tighten each of them. It was doable. He could manage this. He couldn’t bring himself to breathe easy though. He thought of the other two groups.
The work was simple, but even in this role his inexperience hampered him. He could feel the supervisor’s attention on him and his work. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, but it was apparent that he held up the line. He hadn’t sold the illusion yet.
“Ten turns,” said the worker next to him, never looking up.
“It should take ten quarter-turns to tighten a bolt. Measure how far you turn.”
Henry complied. Using a regulated turn length did make things easier. Every now and again, he still let the wrench get away from him, and he was still the slowest on the line, but if he focused on the task, he didn’t leave the next person in line waiting for very long. After an hour or two, he could even let his mind wander and let the rhythm of the work keep him on task.
At three hours, he reveled in being warm enough to produce sweat. At four, he decided that sweat made it hard to keep a grip on the wrench. At five, he wanted to take off his shirt and wrap it around the wrench handle. At six, his arm burned. At seven, his body started to refuse commands to move. At eight, he wondered if he should have taken his chances and admitted to being a grocer. Those doubts stayed with him for another three hours of hard labor.
After work, officers escorted the factory laborers to a crowded barracks, where they ate and slept. Henry suspected that their stew contained boiled water and no other ingredients, but he didn’t raise the complaint. Instead, he “ate” and did his best to prepare for the next day. He didn’t think his arm could take another day, much less a week.
His partner on the line, the one who gave him advice, sat next to him.
“Try to keep your arm moving,” he said, “It will help with the soreness.”
“It’s already sore,” Henry said.
“Wait until tomorrow.”
“I think I’ll try my left hand tomorrow.”
“You’d better be good with both hands then.”
“I’m Henry, by the way.”
“I don’t care.”
“Do people not share their names?”
“Sometimes they do. Max shared his name with everyone.”
“He was a good man. He could make people forget where they were and what they were doing. He was fast, too.”
“He’s gone, now?”
“He fell ill. You’re his replacement.”
Henry said nothing. He didn’t sense malice in the words, but he knew better than to press for further details. That said, he didn’t feel any guilt for Max either. He was sick, and he was slowing down the line. Henry was healthy. He had more to give.
“Get some rest Henry,” the other man said, “We need you, tomorrow.”
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 04:38|
word count: 739
It’s been this way for a while now. So long that it’s like a second culture to us.
Growing pompous and arrogant: “Build it bigger and stronger!” Until we’re such a name that no one dares to question us, our authority, our conglomerate of ideals. Yet, they dare. I don’t understand. I don’t understand at all.
“Out of the frying pan, and straight to the loving oven, David.” I spat out the butt of my cigarette to the ground, crushing it with the heel of my boot. “I swear to God, I don’t get paid enough for this. The recognition is good and all but Christ all mighty, if the cards are dealt wrong we might as well all kick the block from under us.”
“Don’t be such a downer, Eric. You saw how we dealt with those Japs. Those Commies don’t stand a chance! How many times you gonna bring this up?”
I rubbed my temples. We’ve had this argument too many times for me to count. But it was weighing especially hard on me tonight. It seems that every instance of warfare all it takes is who has the bigger gun. And whoever has the bigger gun has the most at stake. But it seems everyone has balls of steel this time around. A strange reverberance of self righteousness, maybe. An echo chamber of delusion.
“I guess... I don’t understand. I’ve got kids, you know? I have a family. I have--”
“Look, man. I get it. I have those things too. But you think if we can just sit here like sitting ducks?”
Tiredly, I stared at him in earnest. He glared like his usual self. Prideful, but I think that’s just how the entire country felt. Pride. Something I don’t think I have, or ever will understand. You can’t glamorize war, you can’t make death pretty. In a sense though, I feel he was right.
This poo poo was everywhere, though. In our movies, in our politics, in our school systems. It spread. It was like a viral disease and everyone caught the fear-- fear choked with pride and stubbornness. And all we do is keep making weapons that could destroy everyone not just the countries at war; if that doesn’t wreak of conceit, I have no idea what would!
I lit another cigarette and bore my eyes into the cement beneath me. David shuffled forward, lighting his own cigarette, and taking a long drag. It was his tell when he was stressed.
“Let me tell you something, Eric. We didn’t enlist for nothing. There is something to fight for, right? Don’t act like some whiney civilian because we’re all scared, man. Whether you want to admit it or not. Your hoity toity anti-war schtick is getting annoying. Just do your drat job like the rest of us. If tomorrow we’re all dead, then that’s that, alright?”
There was another long inhale and a huffy sigh with the smoke swirling around him as he did so.
“Why the gently caress did you enlist in the first place? Tell me. Because it doesn’t make any loving sense that you’d be preaching while the rest of us are trying to keep our loved one’s safe.”
That was a tough question. One that I had to think about quite a lot in my time here.
“I don’t know. Not any more. Not since my little girl writes about the drills they do at school. Not since things have escalated like they have. I thought I had all the answers, you know?”
David turned to the side, visibly chewing on the end of his cigarette, his eyebrows furrowed with thought, rather than annoyance. “No one has the answers any more. You enlisted to die and die we will.”
He walked off with that, spitting out the gnawed remains of his cig. He raised his hand in a half attempt of a wave, head bowed, shuffling along like he always had.
I thought I always had the answers. I thought maybe by joining the army I could make a difference. But I now know it isn’t as easy as that. Perhaps it is I who was running on the fumes of self importance. Now, look where I am.
Bound to serve or bound to die.
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 04:40|
What, does nobody post FJGJ these days
Thread's gone downhill since I was last here
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 15:57|
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 16:16|
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 16:17|
I'm not good with acronyms. Can you please elaborate?
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 16:35|
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 16:42|
we're too lazy to do it in the thread; we do it in IRC all day long.
anyway, for those of you who care about this sort of thing: the archive can now store your crits!
Go to your author page, which looks a little different now. Hover over the options for that story and see all the actions you can take with that story. Favorite and Lock have been moved here as well (now favorited stories show up as a yellow background). You can hide/favorite off-prompt stories now, too.
The third option is crits. Click it to be taken to your crit page for that story.
Click the "add new" link, click the person that gave you the crit, paste in the crit, and save it. If you're ahead of the curve and we don't have the crit count archived yet, you can just type in the name of the Critter.
And blamo, there you go. Now you can see your crits. You'll see all the crits on one page, and you can edit the crit by clicking the person's name.
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 16:46|
I think I broke it crabs. I added one crit for one of my stories and now I can't add a second for the same story.
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 17:38|
WHATD YOU DO
nah, that does seem to be an issue. i'll check on it when i get home. of course i tested inputing 1 crit and was like "it works!"
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 19:34|
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 19:38|
No editing, DQ
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 20:24|
No editing, DQ
ill dq ur face
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 20:26|
WHATD YOU DO
While you're at it please could you add a way to fix it when you gently caress up and attribute a crit to the wrong person? Asking for a friend.
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 20:55|
I'm not good with acronyms. Can you please elaborate?
Ur mum is a please elaborate
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 23:16|
Thunderdome Week CXCII Results: Really Entertaining Minific
This was a pretty middle of the road week. People tried interesting things and usually didn’t pull them off very well. Many of you seemed to believe dialogue week never ended and hung large portions of your story on long conversations. And I really wish more of you had done more interesting things with the songs – there were a lot of very glancing interpretations, and that hurt a couple of you this week.
DMs this week go to Jonked, who wrote a conversation that didn’t go anywhere, Entenzahn, who got bogged down in worldbuilding, and Carl Killer Miller, who wrote a pretty clumsy frame story.
Our loser is spectres of autism. The judges found his story almost entirely incomprehensible.
A singular HM goes to Grizzled Patriarch. We liked the pathos in the story and really felt for the central relationship here.
And our winner is Sitting Here, who wrote a really enjoyable, light story that won us over with the charismatic voice and the really compelling ambiguity – and did all of this while using one of the most difficult songs this week.
Hit us with the prompt, SH!
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 23:26|
I wasn't a judge so these aren't real crits. They're just
When I got bored:
If That’s What It Takes
“Another woman elbowed him in the ribs.” Seemed like it might have been a cool setting but idk
Cool. Read the whole thing.
Ain’t No Girl Like Me
Also cool. Read the whole thing.
The Beat That’s in Every Blast
Read the whole thing because the setting was interesting and I kept expecting it to get better but it didn’t.
“Doting grandfathers can.” Why tell a story within in a story in a short story competition? I don’t know. It could be done well, I guess. It wasn’t here.
Men Over Mission
Read the whole thing. Nice setting.
“Walled city.” Lots of ash. Got it. Spooky. it wasn't spooky
The Free Radical
“Never had Dominic felt so useless.” It all started to blur here and I didn’t care so I stopped reading.
Mother in the Radio
“Phil listens to him because it’s his son.” Present tense felt wrong and I didn’t like it
“To want to, but not be able to.” The casual flippance of the overly brutal childhood did little for my pallet. Nice opening though.
I got to Rebirth before I was like “wtf am I reading here?” No idea.
Messiah en Route
Cool voice. Cool visuals with the traffic. Read the whole thing.
The Cicada, Grief
Wow. Fun read. Got through it all. Great job, whoever you are. I can totally see all the nuances you put into this.
“Its newfound existence.” I realized that sentence was never gonna end and I was gonna have to start back from the beginning to figure out what was going on and I didn’t want to.
but not me in
Read the whole thing. This didn’t do it for me. The composition felt… clumsy? I was left with a “what the gently caress” but not the kind you were going for.
Read the whole thing
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 23:46|
Week 193: the worst week
There is no word limit. I'll stop if I get bored.
The genre is magical realism. It's up to you, the thread, to sort out for yourselves wtf magical realism even is.
There must be a dragon (interpret this as loosely as you wish).
Ask for flashrules at your own risk.
Signup deadline: Friday, April 15th at 11:59 PM PST
Submission deadline: Sunday, April 17th and 11:59 PM PST
spectres of autism
Carl Killer Miller
Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 06:33 on Apr 16, 2016
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 23:47|
in for my 100th thunderdome entry.
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 23:49|
im gonna write the worst thing just for you
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 23:50|
in, flash plox
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 23:51|
In. Flash me.
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 23:53|
I never really clicked with the whole genre until I saw somebody describe it like this in an essay
DEFINITION OF MAGICAL REALISM: in a world where metaphors are literal ...
|# ? Apr 11, 2016 23:58|
in for my 100th thunderdome entry.
murderous look of hatred,--
"Die, then, both of you!" he cried. "You, vile abortion, the proof of my shame--and you," he said to Gabrielle, "miserable strumpet with the viper tongue, who has poisoned my house."
These words struck home to the hearts of the two children the terror that already surcharged them. At the moment when Etienne saw the huge hand of his father raising a weapon upon Gabrielle he died, and Gabrielle fell dead in striving to retain him.
The old man left them, and closed the door violently, saying to Mademoiselle de Grandlieu:--
"I will marry you myself!"
im gonna write the worst thing just for you
his squire so like my gossip, Tom Cecial? And if that be enchantment, as your worship says, was there no other pair in the world for them to take the likeness of?"
"It is all," said Don Quixote, "a scheme and plot of the malignant magicians that persecute me, who, foreseeing that I was to be victorious in the conflict, arranged that the vanquished knight should display the countenance of my friend the bachelor, in order that the friendship I bear him should interpose to stay the edge of my sword and might of my arm, and temper the just wrath of my heart; so that he who sought to take my life by fraud and falsehood should save his own. And to prove it, thou knowest already, Sancho, by experience which
in, flash plox
"I didn't know before," said Tip, looking at the
154 Woggle-Bug with a puzzled expression, "that insects wore clothes."
"Nor do they, in their natural state," returned the stranger. "But in the course of my wanderings I had the good fortune to save the ninth life of a tailor -- tailors having, like cats, nine lives, as you probably know. The fellow was exceedingly grateful, for had he lost that ninth life it would have been the end of him; so he begged permission to furnish me with the stylish costume I now wear. It fits very nicely, does it not?" and the Woggle-Bug stood up and turned himself around slowly, that all might examine
In. Flash me.
clinging to the mast of his vessel; now, as I invoke the memory of past years, I feel that I would make the same choice again. No other guiding principle is so safe, or leads to such rich reward. The spectacle of your life, which, for all the romance and poetry with which you invest it, still remains based on nothing but a ruthless selfishness, has helped to strengthen my convictions. This is the last time I shall speak to you in this way; but I could not refrain from once more pleading with you when I found that your happiness had been proof against the most searching of all trials.
And one more point I must urge on you, suggested by my meditations on your retirement. Life, whether of the body or the heart, consists in
|# ? Apr 12, 2016 00:02|
in a world of pathetic fallacy, sittinghere just made the most pathetic fallacy
|# ? Apr 12, 2016 00:02|
In light of the horrors I produced the last time I asked you for a flash rule I AM TOTALLY ASKING YOU FOR A FLASH RULE.
|# ? Apr 12, 2016 00:03|
this is the only part of your post i can see, sorry
|# ? Apr 12, 2016 00:03|
|# ? Apr 12, 2016 00:04|
ALGERNON. What on earth do you do there?
JACK. [Pulling off his gloves.] When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people. It is excessively boring.
ALGERNON. And who are the people you amuse?
JACK. [Airily.] Oh, neighbours, neighbours.
ALGERNON. Got nice neighbours in your part of Shropshire?
JACK. Perfectly horrid! Never speak to one of them.
ALGERNON. How immensely you must amuse them! [Goes over and takes sandwich.] By the way, Shropshire is your county, is it not?
JACK. Eh? Shropshire? Yes, of course. Hallo! Why all these
|# ? Apr 12, 2016 00:06|
In, flash, and I challenge grizpat to take my flash rule too I will crush u
|# ? Apr 12, 2016 00:07|
In, flash, and I challenge grizpat to take my flash rule too I will crush u
|# ? Apr 12, 2016 00:09|
|# ? Sep 22, 2021 18:54|
In, I'll take a flash.
|# ? Apr 12, 2016 00:12|