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  • Locked thread
curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

In, so I can be Friday the 13th.

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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

FRIDAY GOONS HERE IS YOUR FRIDAY FLASHRULE

That's you, Black Griffon, Noah, Phobia, Arivia, Killer-of-lawyers, Capntastic, Turtlicious, Fuubi, Mercedes, magnificent7, skwidmonster, and Curlingiron(and anyone else who signs up between now and midnight)!

It's the end of the week. I'm sick of thinking up arbitrary rules to hand out. We've got some venerable OGs in this group. Friday goons, your flashrule is simple. You must pick one of the existing rules in the thread and apply it to your own story.

I have everything listed in the prompt post. Personal flashrules are included in the signup list. There are links to the daily rules.

If you choose the Tuesday or Thursday flashrules, you get any of the applicable word bonuses. You can also choose any individual rule given out by the judges (for example, Sebmojo's ball busting flashrules). You must choose ate least one! And include it with your story when you post.

If you absolutely must have someone choose for you, I will, but I will probably choose a really lovely word for you!

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Jun 4, 2016 around 06:18

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



Sitting Here posted:

You must choose ate least one!

i'm on a diet ashole

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Chainmail Onesie posted:

So, I will right now plant my hideous flag on the Mecha genre, because why not and it's probably horrifically awkward to write concise fiction about people sitting inside giant robots' chests, pushing buttons that make the robots do things.

However, cheeky as it may be, I request that Bad Seafood assign a flash rule to me within the Mecha genre. Reasonable request or outrageous dickery? YOU DECIDE, THUNDERDOME
Your protagonist is disguised as a member of the opposite sex for plot reasons. Nobody notices.

Carcer posted:

Bad Seafood, please flash me like one of your animes.
Two of your characters are engaged in an protracted, ongoing philosophical discussion. They must still feel like people and not just mouthpieces for the views they espouse.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Week 196 Crits



Upheaval (1202)

I ASK YOU NOT TO DO ONE THING, ONE THING, AND YOU GO AND DO IT. CONGRATS, SHITDICK.

OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, you know how you could’ve made this story better? You could’ve given your protagonists any agency at all. They’re sort of interesting as people—I liked the “for China’s sake” sort of mythology you’ve included as a part of their world—but they have no control over their lives, they can’t go anywhere, and when they’re finally free, they don’t have any sort of motivation to go anywhere else. I guess hitting the globe with the shovel could count as agency, but the ending dialogue from both the guy videotaping and the two protagonists really spoils any sort of dramatic catharsis you’re going for. None of them sound like they care that much. When you have a story like this, you can still make it work if you turn your energy inward and make the reader believe that everything you’re describing is important. But yeah, making this a story reliant on its ending twist kind of hurts it from the get-go. Give yourself more of a chance in future stories by allowing yourself more of a capacity for activity within the setting.

Realism

I legitimately enjoyed this, for the most part. It wasn’t perfect, and I wouldn’t have HMed it, but I felt it did a good job at being this insular conflict that resolved by the end, and I liked some of the ways you used language to your favor, like the whole rabbit-killing scene. Everything that didn’t involve Marie being stuck alone in the woods was significantly weaker, though. I didn’t care about Tomas at all, and I think it was because their relationship got short shrift in favor of the main conflict. Maybe if you gave this more room to expand and build in a future iteration, it’d work better.
Solid effort, though.

Suns

Ok, I’m willing to put up with a lot of new signifiers in science fiction, because it’s science fiction, and you’re creating a new world out of whole cloth in a lot of ways. But when it’s all in a story this short, I get the feeling that the juice isn’t worth the squeeze—by the time I’ve tried to figure out all that you’re saying, the story’s over. It’d really help in terms of comprehensibility if there was more of an effort to ground the story in something more familiar. That being said, I didn’t hate this—I just had trouble caring about it. There’s this underlying plot of the protagonist feeling guilt over all the worlds he’s destroying, but it’s surrounded by all these rapid fluttering asides from different characters and it just lost me, almost from the beginning.

A Story of Salt

This isn’t a story, it’s a character sketch, and it’s a character sketch of someone who’s loathsome, and more importantly, cliché and uninteresting. There’s no plot or forward movement, just this sad gamer throwing a tantrum, and I don’t know who would enjoy this or be entertained by this. The descriptions of the in-game action were nice, though. Maybe if we’d stuck with that a little longer.

Gives No Shelter

You know this guy’s a sociopath, right? If we’re meant to sympathize with him, then that’s a big problem, and there’s no payoff at the end where he gets his comeuppance or feels remorse for what he’s done to the department, so it’s almost like he’s meant to be in the right, when all Dr. Deering’s done is fire a friend of his. And because there’s no sort of personal payoff to his actions, the story feels unfinished and slightly pointless. What was all this for, exactly? If there were more dimensions to your protag’s passive-aggressive wrath, then maybe he’d make for a more interesting character and one we’d want to see the downfall of. But there’s nothing that comes of it. And his revenge is categorized and brought forth in sterilized list form, which is one of the worst ways to continue a story. See me after class. (not really)

Fugue

It took me a while to come around to this story, but I really enjoyed it once I understood some of the deeper things that it was trying to accomplish. The prompt was hit adequately, and although I don’t usually enjoy time-travel stories, I feel like you did a lot of interesting and original things here, and you were able to create a complex world without going into worldbuilding territory. My least favorite part was probably the ending, to be honest—I felt like the ending time-traveler monologue was slightly unnecessarily spelling a lot of things out for me, and I would have liked the final sentence to just end on the word “life”. But the characters were fleshed out well enough for a story this length, and it was very emotionally effective. If you haven’t already, I’d definitely work on revising this and sending it out.

Four Lights

This feels like it’s an excerpt from a much longer work, and as it is, isn’t as effective as it would be if it were complete. But I was legitimately intrigued reading this. I felt like you wove in details really skillfully, and that the first half of the story was really interesting on its own merit. As a standalone work, however, the ending doesn’t really complete the story, just sort of continues it. Also, I miss a lot of character within this piece—the protag just seems like he’s a vehicle for his experiences, especially in the second half. I don’t get anything else that makes him a person other than his macabre occupation. He’s entrenched in the Authority that he once hated and there’s no hope of him escaping or reforming, so it sort of deflates the reader’s interest—unless, of course, you were to expand upon this, which in my opinion you should.

Sketches

This was my original win pick, and the reason for that was that you really got at the spirit of your prompt more than anybody else this week. This is a nasty, jagged story helmed by a nasty, jagged character that is an exploding bottle of nail polish in human form and I wanted to reward that. My other judges made some good points, however, and I agreed with them—the main point being that the ending wasn’t much of a resolution. Arguably, it’s more effective to never know what the drawing is, and to never know how she’s going to heal or not heal as a person, but it doesn’t exactly make for a satisfying conclusion. And if you think about it, except for the very last sentence, she doesn’t experience much of what you’d call “personal growth”. That was probably what cost it the win, but ultimately I enjoyed this story and thought it was executed well, especially the way certain things are held back in both the present and past settings you wrote.

Messiah in Doubt

I immediately recognized this as a sequel to your original story, the one that won, and this feels like a deleted scene to an Oscar nom, to be honest. It’s in the same vein as the first, and the character is still a strong entity, but it’s not as self-contained and crisp as the first story. There’s that moment at the end that’s incredibly symbolic and visually concise, where he can’t control the freeway traffic a second time, and this story could have used something like that. Here, both characters are well-described, but the scene’s just left sort of open-ended and vague. He leaves under his own volition, because this other guy’s not a compatible flavor of crazy to his own, and just keeps walking like he was at the beginning of the story. Hardly anything transpires, nothing makes a lasting impression on either character.

Sweetest Invectives

I can honestly say that this was the best story I’ve read of yours. The first half was one of my favorite experiences I had while reading this week, where it starts slightly uneasy and goes full-bore into disturbing. This story really does atmosphere well, and I could see everything that I was reading fairly clearly. I also liked the use of the blood-red pendant as a fulfillment of the prompt. My main issue with the story was the vagaries and inconsistency of the main character, because he just sort of accepts this new role given to him at the end of the story despite his horror at the beginning, and it doesn’t seem earned whatsoever. It feels way too easy. This is another one of those stories where some of the descriptions are just on-the-edge enough that if there was more room for elaboration, the story would be that much stronger. But yeah, solid atmosphere, spoiled by a lack of character depth and motivation, especially in the protagonist.

Twenty-Seven Isn’t Much And a Coat’s Even Less

Your greatest strength here was your intriguing and likeable characters. I liked, or at least wanted to see more of, everyone in this story. The dilemma you set up was unique and intriguing enough to carry the story forward, and I wanted to see how Darren dealt with being a fish out of water. My main sticking point with this story was that while the ending felt good, it didn’t feel enough like a resolution for me. There were issues of race and sexuality and class raised in this story that I believed, and thus I didn’t believe that shooting a hog was the cure-all for the distances between the narrator and his boyfriend’s family that the story was trying to imply it was. If there was even a hint of that unresolved conflict there, I would have felt better about the story ending the way it did, but as it was, it felt unearned. But it was most definitely still a stab at a conclusion, which was much appreciated.

Inner Space

With this story, the other tenant story, the You May Already Be A Winner story, the ghost bird story—you work with these themes of splinters, these little niggling unresolved annoyances that stick around in your characters’ lives, yet every time it feels like you fail to do something concrete with them. They’re there, and they stay there, and then the story ends. With the ghost bird story it felt, at the very least, original and striking. This, to me, was neither of those things. It felt like that Barton Fink wallpaper scene, but conveyed in a different way. And again, nothing is resolved, and the character seems sort of bland and not worth following to begin with. He climbs into the wall, and the story ends. It’s always a seamless embrace, maybe you need to try giving one of your characters room to push back.

It’s Not Okay

The scene at the beginning was really effective, I just wish there was more character depth to go with it. Maybe you could’ve kept it until the end and re-worked the beginning in some other way, because the current ending feels like a wet firecracker after the first half. Everything isn’t okay until it suddenly is, The End. Which really deflates all the tension you’d built up. It’s a perfect story, but reversed, so all the tension is at the beginning and lessens as the story goes on. And again, the characters are sort of stock and unmemorable. If they’d had more to them, this story would be more worthwhile. It’s a dog story, so I guess you thought it needed a happy ending.

Animal Welfare

It’s a scene with a lot of good details, but it’s ultimately just a scene, and I suspect you’re aware of that already. Maybe if the smell stuck with them after they left and drove them crazy, all they could smell was rotting cow flesh and cow poo poo, etc. It ended where it should’ve began.

This is not a drill

I wanted to say that the ending came out of nowhere, but I guess that’s more or less the point. You just pile explosion on top of explosion and hope that you come out the other side with a story that’s so ridiculous that it’s amazing, and it –almost- worked here. Everything was very distinct and stylistically interesting, which I appreciated, and while I wasn’t fully on board with the two big shifts at the end, I thought they worked somewhat well within the context of the story. You hit the prompt very well, and I think this would have been close to HMing this week had you submitted it on time.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

by R. Guyovich


Bad Seafood posted:

Your story takes place within the context of the dreaded tournament arc.

man this woulda been my favorite prompt ever if i got this oh well

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

anime was right posted:

man this woulda been my favorite prompt ever if i got this oh well

Flashrule: that's now your flashrule

crabrock is a judge, so while it's hilarious, i don't think he's going to do it justice

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



spectral crit: post week 200 shitposting edition

ok so im going to try critting The Rain Beneath by Maugrim from week 199. this will be rough because im in stupid mode but mostly because this story owned and i really liked it. but it technically didn't win or hm so im going to try to explore why that didn't happen and hopefully i will have some constructive thoughts.

ok so the first line sets up the story in an effective way. it's not really visceral, though, which ig is like the platonic ideal of a first line. also its the plot to that one asimov story in a sentence so it doesnt really capture how original the story is. but its a solid line that keeps me reading.

the second para does something i do which is throw in some alien sci fi terms w/o explaining them. the diff is that this is done well while usually i funk it. but judging by my exp judges are primed to crit this technique so its dangerous.

then the writing goes for a sort of economy between poetry and terse description. this is also nicely done and also characterizes the protag and his peers as like on the lookout for the lives of their fellow whatever these are.

but the story then introduces a friend for the protag and doesnt give his name either. thats cool cuz i hate names but sometimes judges take issue. i kno its arbitrary i kno dude im so sorry. if you wanna get that hm maybe you should sell out a lil.

you keep dropping little details about the society, like maybe it's a matriarchy or the moms are builders. it piques my curiosity but again the judges are like eh to this sometimes. like if you havent gotten a firm foothold they might not care. again you live by the sword die by the sword but i hate exposition too.

ok so the section where they launch off i think i can crit. basically the sense i sort of got, and that i would have pushed harder, is the bold explorers searching for the new frontier kind of vibe. like its technically there but the language is grim. it shouldnt be optimistic exactly but it should def be hopeful. and you undercut it by explicitly saying stuff like "we are pioneers," i would go more poetic with that whole idea it could be rly powerful.

stuff about mates which could be better explained cuz idk if hes like a ships mate or this is a bro love society.

"Oh, the light was still caustic, it painted the rips in the canopy with fire, but I could see." i like this sentence and its when you hit this tone that the story rly works. it slows a little when they stop but the jagged rock imagery kind of carves out the part of yr brain that pays attn.

you kind of know nothing goods in store for anyone but thats okay.

we finally learn the protags name near the end. actually this is cool, i forgot about this. it's effective, like im like oh shoot i care about this. we lose his friend though, who's done nothing but complain, but in a weird way it makes it more tragic. if i was one of the brainless fops we call judges i mite say something sarcastic about this but i dont think id be onto anything.

so the chick expospeaks that they got shot down in flames and the idea is dropped that heaven hates them. this is a good idea and is p satisfying thematically. like you have icarus only this icarus wanted to get away from a dying earth and couldnt go anywhere but up. its cool to think about and acts as like morphine to the part of yr brain that wanted more details about their world. it sounded interesting but its all gone now, in the past of yr reading memory and the past of existence. philosophically the idea that any of it was worth anything is gone too.

but id say that maybe someone reading this would feel cheated that its not a conclusive ending. i dont think you should go for like a fully complete ending because i like the idea that you never see firsthand what the angels are capable of. BUT if you think you could pull it off (going by the prose of the story you could) it might make for a pretty compelling final moment. yr choice.

so ultimately this story was super ambitious and when you go for such specific chords it sometimes doesnt fully work for ppl. but i liked this a lot and itll stay w me for a bit.

pls dont take away my 25 wds this was a constructive post thx

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Signups are closed.

Hopefully you all know what you're supposed to be doing and do it. Your priority should be writing a good story, though.

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FLASHRULES IN YOUR SUBMISSION POST

The prompt post is mostly up to date with individual flashes and toxxes. The daily rules are linked as well. Please post them along with your stories for archiving purposes.

Arivia
Mar 17, 2011
MY SLEEP IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CHILDREN'S LIVES


Sitting Here posted:

Signups are closed.

Hopefully you all know what you're supposed to be doing and do it. Your priority should be writing a good story, though.

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FLASHRULES IN YOUR SUBMISSION POST

The prompt post is mostly up to date with individual flashes and toxxes. The daily rules are linked as well. Please post them along with your stories for archiving purposes.

I'm required to follow my flash rule when writing my story, right?

edit: I'm asking because flash rules weren't a thing really when I first did this, and they're not well-explained if at all in the OP.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Arivia posted:

I'm required to follow my flash rule when writing my story, right?

edit: I'm asking because flash rules weren't a thing really when I first did this, and they're not well-explained if at all in the OP.

Yes. The rules myself, sebmojo, and crabrock have been handing out all week are actual things we sort of expect you to incorporate when writing your story.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Arivia posted:

I'm required to follow my flash rule when writing my story, right?

lol

Maugrim
Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face



spectres of autism posted:

spectral crit: post week 200 shitposting edition

ok so im going to try critting The Rain Beneath by Maugrim from week 199.

Thank you for liking and randomly critting my story! I'm in the process of editing it and this will seriously help.

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


Prompt: Man Agonizes over Taters (Tuesday Edition)
Word Used: Zaftig

Steak and Baked Potatoes
Words: 917

I leaned back in my chair and Tom lit himself a cigar. A revolver laid on the table, and in the cabin’s dim light it gleamed like a cursed jewel. Grabbing the bottle of vodka I’d brought, I poured myself a shot.

“Mind sharing?” Tom asked.

“Only if you got another cigar.”

Tom reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a robusto with a dark, oily wrapper. I poured him a shot and traded it to him for the stick. Tom chugged the vodka and immediately went back to staring at his wristwatch with a grim expression on his face. Wisps of white smoke escaped from between his lips as he watched the hands creep closer to midnight.

“So, what’d you do before coming here?” I asked.

Tom shrugged, not taking his eyes off his watch.

“Well, I had a nice steak with baked potatoes for dinner. Bonnie cooks em up medium rare, just the way I like. What’d you have for dinner, Mel?”

“I wasn’t too hungry, so I just made a ham sandwich.”

“Yeah, I didn’t have too much of an appetite myself, but Bonnie loves to see me eat.”

Tom looked up from his watch and forced a smile.

“I feel you. Claire seemed a little worried, but I just told her that I wasn’t hungry,” I said.

“Hey, Mel, you still haven’t lit your cigar. Need a light?”

I reached into my pocket and grabbed at bare cloth.

“Don’t worry about it. I don't really have time to enjoy it anyway.”

Tom nodded. I took another shot of vodka, trying to numb myself. I could feel the people watching and waiting from outside the cabin window. The clock hit midnight.

“Alright,” I said, “let’s play.”

I stole a peek out the window. Even in the darkness their silhouettes stood out from the surrounding night. There were hundreds of them. Some were so close that you could almost see their pale eyes staring out at you. Others hid among the trees and the bushes. The rest sat in the comfort of their homes, watching live from their internet browsers.

I pictured Claire’s zaftig figure standing in our doorway. Considering the time, she was probably already cuddled up in bed. I wanted to curse myself for not telling her about my ‘game’ with Tom, but I decided that it was for the best. She deserved the bliss of ignorance.

Tom handed me the gun and I didn’t hesitate sticking it in my mouth. Muffled but excited whispers accompanied my pulling of the trigger.

Click.

I looked back at Tom, his face expressionless. He took a long draw on his cigar and exhaled a thick plume of smoke before grabbing the revolver. I looked away.

Click.

Tom traded the revolver back to me. I stuck it in my mouth again and pulled the trigger.

Click.

As I handed the gun back to Tom, I couldn’t help but notice the look in his eye. Somehow I knew that he was praying, and I knew he wasn’t praying for himself, either. I gritted my teeth as the fear drained out of me. Tom placed the gun on his temple and shut his eyes tight.

Click.

Once again Tom gave me the gun, but this time I took it with a smile.

I handled the revolver for a moment, turning it over and inspecting every inch of its blued steel form. The revolver had been our enemy for the entire evening, but it didn’t have to be. I pointed the gun at the silhouette standing closest to the window and fired.

Bang.

A deafening ring filled the cabin, but I still got to see the bastard collapse like the rotten sack of poo poo he was.

We immediately ducked under the table as bullets hailed down upon us. My bottle of vodka fell to the floor with a clang. I looked at Tom to see him on the verge of tears. He didn’t even notice me ripping a strand of cloth from my shirt with my teeth. I didn’t bother to ask for Tom’s permission when I dove into his pocket and pulled out his lighter.

The deviants who put us in this hell temporarily ceased their fire, and in that moment I dove for the bottle. I corked it with my ripped sleeve and lit it up. Summoning all the strength in my right arm, I tossed my makeshift molotov out the window and towards the bushes and trees. Screams filled the night and I could hear panicked footsteps retreating.

Tom bolted up and ran for the door. I winced at the sound of a single gunshot. He slumped over and the gunfire ceased. The way Tom’s corpse fell left it staring right at me. I tried to look away, but something about that vacant, wide-eyed expression glued my eyes in place. I hid under that table until morning, and I could only watch as Tom’s face greyed and bloated into a caricature of its former self. Even when the sun peeked over the hillside, I didn’t dare stand. I crawled out of the cabin, and I crawled along the forest’s leaf covered floor until I found a trail.

I sprinted the rest of the way home.

I’ve stocked up on guns. I still get harassing phone calls and emails, but I do my best to ignore it. Claire’s put a nice big plate of steak and baked potatoes in front of me, but I can’t eat it.

Ziji
Oct 20, 2010
Yossarian lives!

Prompt: Man agonizes of his potatoes (Wednesday)
Senses: Smell, Time
Brawl with Guiness13 (if I understand the rules right?)
~1022 Words

Full Metal Applebee's

Marvin Grouse may have been physically sitting in a booth at Applebee’s, but in his mind he never left the jungle. He sat silently, alone, browsing the menu. Marvin removed his Vietnam Veteran hat and scratched the only spot not covered in thick gray hair. Tracing the scar with his finger, he remembered the blood trickling down his ear and the heat from the machine guns being fired next to him. He remembered the nurses at the field hospital, how he promised to marry the brunette, but she never wrote him back. Memories were all he had left, of his youth spent in that humid hell and of his brothers-in-arms who were all too busy to join him at the neighborhood’s bar and grill.

Lost in thought, Marvin didn’t even notice his waitress return to the table ready to take his order. “Well sir have you made your decision?” the young girl asked, pulling a pocketbook and pen from her apron. “Yeah… I, uh, I’ll have the steak. Rare.” Marvin grunted, handing her the menu. “You get a side with that,” the waitress continued on, “coleslaw, mac and cheese, onion rings, steak fries, a baked potato, or mixed vegetables.” Marvin was caught off guard, he didn’t think he had that many options for a side dish. “Baked potato,” he answered in a panic. Before he knew what he had said it was too late, she was already gone. Baked potato? What was he thinking? Marvin held his head in his hands and wiped down on his face. His hands began to tremble and he knew what would happen but felt powerless to stop it. He grabbed the neck of his beer and took a swig, wiping his mouth with his jacket and slamming the bottle back on the table with a loud thud. Marvin stared intently across the booth at the empty seat, his hands trembling.

“Deep breath Marvin”, he repeated to himself, “just breathe like the docs said and you’ll be fine.” He let out a healthy sigh and felt his muscles loosen. He could do this, he didn’t need his war buddies or court appointed therapists to help him. Marvin knew if he stayed focused he could make it through this dinner unharmed, and without harming anyone. Marvin knew he was dead wrong the minute he smelled that baked potato. It all went to poo poo the minute he saw the gentleman bringing him his food. Within seconds Marvin was upon him, dashing out of his booth and slamming his shoulder into the poor man’s chest. The waitress who took his order screamed as the two men fell to the ground, Marvin quickly scrambling on top of the stunned waiter. As soon as he smelled that potato, he was back in Vietnam.

“Private Grouse get the gently caress over here!” Sergeant First Class Soldid shouted, the veins in his neck popping out like engorged leeches. Marvin Grouse dropped his cards and ran out of the tent. “Yes Sergeant?!” Marvin asked, standing at a half-assed parade rest while trying to catch his breath. “We just got a shipment of potatoes in,” SFC Soldid explained, his smile widening with each word, “and I want you to peel’em.” He handed Marvin a potato peeler, the sun reflecting off its stainless steel finish right into Marvin’s eyes, wide with horror. A brand new potato peeler meant only one thing. Turning to his left, his suspicions were confirmed: the truck was filled to the brim with boxes of thousands and thousands of potatoes.

For three days and three nights, Marvin peeled potatoes. He didn’t sleep, he didn’t take breaks, he simply peeled. Eating wasn’t even welcomed, as he was instructed that his only meals would be potatoes. He peeled until his hands started to bleed, then he bandaged them up and peeled some more. Everyone who heard about poor Private Grouse wondered why he didn’t just quit, but Marvin knew that SFC Soldid would have something far worse in mind than peeling potatoes if he failed. Years after the war, SFC Soldid would later find himself in the curious employ of the CIA helping to develop and perfect the art of psychological torture. Private Grouse feared him in Vietnam, and Manuel Noriega learned to fear him in Panama.

On the third night of his continued peeling, running on pure adrenaline and hatred of the potato, their forward operating base was attacked. Mortar fire rained down on the US soldiers who all scurried to their positions, firing wildly into the dark jungle surrounding them. Officers shouted out orders and NCOs shouted out contradictions, adding fuel to the fire of confusion that the defenders found themselves in. Through all this, Marvin continued to peel potatoes. His third therapist, Dr. Hubert Linsford, would argue that he had simply had a mental breakdown from all the potato peeling. Marvin would argue back that Dr. Linsford had never met SFC Soldid, and if he had then he would have known that dying was preferable to disobeying an order.

Amid the chaos, one lone Viet Cong fighter snuck his way into the mess tent. His intent was perhaps to sabotage their food stores, or maybe even just sneak around to attack from within the base. No one knows for certain, as he tripped on a rogue potato and fell into Marvin. Although caught by surprise, Marvin acted on pure instinct and pounced on the enemy; slamming his potato peeler into this throat. Blood began to pour out of the wound, but Marvin began choking him anyway, screaming as he slammed his head against the ground. Before he knew what was happening, two men who had been sitting at the bar pulled Marvin off of the unconscious waiter. Marvin stumbled backward, and was thrown into his booth by the quick acting bystanders. The waitress rushed to the waiter’s side while the manager tried to call emergency services. “It was the loving potatoes!” Marvin screamed, his bulging eyes still glazed over and saliva spewing from his mouth with each word. “It’s always the loving potatoes!”

Ziji fucked around with this message at Jun 5, 2016 around 01:48

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

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

Week 199: Buddyweek Buddycrits

All kayfabe aside, this was a deeply flawed week. No one, not even dmboogie, quite pulled off what I would consider either a complete story or a very good one. A lot of people decided to submit prologues instead of stories. I mean, multiple people literally ended their submissions this week with some variation of “and now the story begins!!!!” and I don’t know why. That’s a bad move. Don’t do that. Don’t write a prologue instead of an actual story. It’s frustrating and it leaves me mad. Especially if your prologue was legitimately interesting.

There was also an over reliance on violence this week. Violence is nice. Violence is good. Violence can move a story along. But it’s way too easy to substitute “interesting conflict and character development” with “unnecessary drawn out fight scenes.” Use it as a tool but don’t have it as a crutch. This is flash fiction. Every punch thrown, every shot fired, every detailed choreographed fight scene described needs to have a relevant, tangible reason for being included. Does it show character growth/development or is it set dressing? Is it the inevitable, explosive release of tension or is it just there to make your story cool?

Write more. Write better.

Chernabog:
Hit preview post before you submit please. Right off the bat you have hosed up formating and that’s never going to do you any favors.

This story, more than most this week, hit on the spirit of the prompt. That’s great! You had two buddies doing buddy stuff. And for lack of a better term, I feel like this story had “heart.” Which is nice. I can tell you put a lot of effort into making this something I’d want to read. Thank you for that.

Unfortunately, it’s just not a very good story. I can tell you’re still finding yourself as a writer. The ideas are there but you need to figure out the craft of it all. I hope you stick around because you’ll never get better by not writing. It’s just, you know, it’s like going to the gym. You won’t necessarily see immediate gains. One day you’ll just “have it” and be kind of confused where it came from (hint: it was all the practice you did in the weeks leading up to that moment).

What was good-- hit the spirit of the prompt, mostly hit the spy genre, didn’t make me want to stab my eyes out having read it

What was bad-- uhhhh…. Let’s see. Other than a throw away line about crafting a novel, there was nothing there to denote Claude a writer. This then made Travis’ motivation for doing the whole really… stupid? “Oh I just thought you needed some help hyuck hyuck.” What? Writer’s block isn’t a good motivation for a super spy to spend a mission’s budget blowing a hole in his own base. If you want Travis’s thing to be motivating Claude into action then you need a solid and, more importantly, empathetic reason for doing so. Let’s say you make Claude depressed (his wife left him, his dog died, he had both of his hand’s removed because that flesh eating virus found in lake water is back and the doctors didn’t catch it in time, whatever, doesn’t matter). Now Travis’s whole schtick is trying to push his friend into a better place rather than just making him jump through some action hoops. This gives you motivation and it sets you up to deliver a nice payoff at the end.

Hammer Bro
Oh buddy.

First of all, your names were weird. I don’t think I normally comment on names but… C’mon. Hyb. Lil. Zeus. Cypher. I think you were working inside a setting/world that you had thought a lot about. That’s a strength of your story (of which there were so few strengths). I felt like I was staring through a peephole and there was something neat on the otherside but I couldn’t figure otu what the gently caress it was. Your names didn’t make any sense. Your dialogue didn’t make any sense. Your characters had speaking patterns that didn’t match up. You gave your story a Roman title and seemed to place it in a non-descript back in the day place but then dropped a Mr. Potatohead reference. I probably should have DMd this but, like I said, I thought you spent a lot of time crafting your world. There was some heart to this story, too. Much like Chernabog’s. But you didn’t give me enough and you didn’t give me a plot and you didn’t give me growth and you left me confused.

a friendly penguin
Don’t start a story with your main character waking up. It’s boring and it’s symbolic of you, the writer, jump-starting your creative juices. Nobody wants to read that. Unsurprisingly, you spend the first quarter of your word count meandering through the setting and figuring it out exactly what it is you want to write and where you can begin. That’s rough draft stuff. Cut it. It’s unnecessary. Also, in flash fiction you’re doing yourself a bit of a disservice to begin and then immediately introduce a new character the protagonist has never met and is completely surprised by. Why? Because, one again, you’re wasting words describing boring poo poo. Start me off further down the road. I want to read something interesting so get me to the interesting parts. Not “Oh my, who… no… what are you???”

Mr. Gentleman
I got, like, maybe a third through this story and thought “Oh, yeah, oh I like this, this is probably going to win.” I like that you named the wolf Johnsteinbeck, I liked that the pig kept cutting him off, I liked everything about this until the end where… you just kind of ran out of steam. It feels like you had a really awesome, really creative idea and you were super excited to work with it and you were going crafting this interesting world with realized, motivated characters and then you didn’t know how to end it. You pulled out a gun (boring) and left me with “A Now the Real Adventure Begins!” cliffhanger (lame). I wanted more “oomf.” I needed more. Where was the payoff to all the wolf-getting-cut-off setup? I was waiting for him to get to complete his sentence. You built it up like it was an important thing, like it was a lynchpin to the story, and then didn’t do anything with it. What was the wolf seeking forgiveness for? It kind of felt like it was going to be for some terrible dark deek. Like, I dunno, killing a farmer. Fuuuuck. THAT would have been interesting! It would have totally shed a new light onto all of pig’s training if the wolf had turned on the scary all of a sudden.

OR LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE. It doesn’t have to be that he was hiding a dirty past. I just wanted more resolution. Ending flash fiction on cliffhanger is tricky at best. I think you needed like 500 more words and 24 more hours to figure out how to properly tie this all together and take home a well-deserved win.

Man, it was close to being great. Not good. Great. So close.

Marshmallow Blue
Long story short, you were too ambitious here. You had too many characters, too many different settings, too many different things you wanted to do but you couldn’t cram them all in there so you just gave me a beat by beat break down of some action sequences. Writing action without having it be meaningful (ie contributing to the growth of a character, demonstrating a character’s motivation, etc) is boring.

With that being said, I like that you shot for a bunch of buddy film tropes. That was cool to see. There’s potential here. You just need to learn how to wrangle it into something worth reading.

Write write write write.

CANNIBAL GIRLS
This wasn’t terrible. Your words had a nice easy-going lilt to them and I liked that. My major problem with this is that... nothing significant happened. There was no real change in any of the characters. It was just a sort-of-cute story with a weak punchline ending. As a great man once said-- “mediocre.”

Jick Magger
Cool premise. Pffffffft delivery. That seems to be the theme for this week. I don’t know why the streetwise corgi wasn’t more streetwise. That would have been cool to see. Nothing really happened here and it was boring. Two dogs played hooky, one ate a rat and got poisoned, neither could talk to human beings. Am I missing anything? What was the story you were trying to tell here? Could you summarize it in a blurb that would make someone want to read it? No what you wrote but rather what you wanted to have written. Do that and see where the discrepancies are.

QuoProQuid
In a story with a ghost, it’s funny to have a complaint about “suspension of disbelief.” But that’s exactly what I have. Students working on cadavers just didn’t gel with me for the world you created.

I don’t know why anything was happening here. This was very blah to me. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and the ending seemed very forced.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Spectre's crit inspired me to do a line crit of "The Rain Beneath," because I really like the story too. Maugrim, if ever you want to submit it someplace, let me know and I'll redact this line crit from the forums.

Maugrim posted:

The Rain Beneath
936 words

When the stars came out we panicked, because we had never seen stars.

The fragile glow of the overlight collapsed before the glare of pinprick holes in the sky, one then two then three then dozens., and Then the dust of the firmament rained gently, inexorably on the slime-farms and desiccated the crops and the farmers, who lay twitching in the fields as their depleted nerves sputtered and misfired. <- The original sentence you had here is beautiful, but it's too run-on. It's too clause heavy and it introduces too many new ideas for just one sentence (e.g.: overlight, firmament, slime-farms, dust-poisoned farmers).

Some we saved, those we could get to reach fast enough, rigging up mobile canopies to traverse between the shelter of the megacaps and hose them with cleansing slime, but the dust clung. They died later <--contradicts your opening with "some we saved." Sure, some were reached, some were slimed, but nobody here was saved. - days later - as their grit sacs clogged and failed, skin shrivelled, fronds sloughed off. <--So this is where you reveal the people to be nonhuman. See my note below. At this point, I'm thinking these are slug people, maybe with plant parts?

Then the oil rain began.

I was lucky: the hospital had a roof, and sat at the top of a hill. As I tended the basalt-poisoned, I heard the unfamiliar, irregular pattering and the cries of disgust from medics outside. At that time it was merely an annoyance, easily slimed away and sheltered from. But it was a new thing, a frightening thing. The firmament was failing. <--maybe "falling" would work better than "failing" here? Also, I get that the oil rain was new, but the structure of this paragraph implies that the firmament failing (or falling, take your pick) was also new, which by this time it wasn't.

*

“Everything is dying,” he said to me, uselessly, shivering with grief. The gondola was halfway built. IMO it's too jarring just to say "he". When I first read the story, I stopped here and combed the previous section to find the missing antecedent to this pronoun. That kind of wrecks the story's flow. Please consider naming the mate, or just writing something like <<Uselessly, shivering with grief, my mate said to me, "Everything is dying.">> Grats on your judicious adverb use btw.

I strung another rope through the hooks of the gas-bag. “Hold this a moment.” He wasn’t built for physical work, but it was better to keep him occupied.

He held it. “Why aren’t the mothers organising an exodus? They’re just building shelters on the hills. What if the rain never stops?”

“They’re in denial,” I told him, but I didn’t understand it either. This section is great! In few words you detail the construction of the airships, and you give the characters a goal and direction. Great economy of language here!

*

We launched amidst the oil rain, surrounded by gawpers. Others had had the same idea, but we were the first to escape. <--I don't think you need to use the past-perfect here, since others having the same idea is concurrent; indeed they are building airships as well. Slime-burners ignited, blew hot gas into the canopy. Black oil sluiced off the slime coating as the gas-bag inflated, trickled away to join the lakes in the valleys.

Your language does not have enough words for slime. See my notes below.

We rose steadily, straight up, controlling the pulsing rush of flame like the philosophers who’d first investigated the firmament a hundred years ago. They found rock, dry and coarse and abrasive; took samples, confirmed its sameness to the deep bedrock below the topslime. <--Personally I think it's more interesting if the protagonist and mate are the first people to enter the firmament. We found rock too, oily and slick; and we found light. Those pinprick stars grew large, beautiful, then dazzling, then unbearable. We tied scarves around our eyes and could see nothing but the light. We were pioneers. We were terrified.

We entered the light.

*

“We haven’t hit anything,” he said to me, pointlessly. I love my mate, but a woman would be a better adventuring companion.

“Holes in the firmament,” I said. “Perhaps we are journeying to God.”

I unfurled an arm out of the gondola. Warm air rushed past. Oil soaked the tips of my digits. I felt vibrant, on edge.

*

The light had borne us many minutes when the tearing began. The gondola shuddered and yawed, the rush of air slowed, my mate shrieked and clung. The awful brightness dimmed as the canopy draped gently over us and I braced myself for falling, falling.

We were still.

In the dark and quiet I removed my scarf. Oh, the light was still caustic, it painted the rips in the canopy with fire, but I could see. We were settled in an oily pool on a wide jut of grainy rock. I removed my mate’s scarf too, shushed his panicked questions and squatted down to think.

“What’s that noise?” he said after a while. I hadn’t been listening, but now, unfurling my fronds, I could hear it: a pulsing rumble from above. And from below, a distant shout, wordless amidst the echoes.

Up, up they came. Another balloon: another group of refugees fleeing the end of the world. We called to them as they passed, warning them of the tearing rocks, and they called back, fearful, regretful; nothing to be done for us, nothing for themselves save to ride the light into the blinding unknown.

*

I took scrapings from the rock of the ledge. It crumbled easily, releasing dust into the air before the oil seeped in to hold it. Toxic, then. I emptied the slime from the useless burner over it; that would sting, but it wouldn’t kill us. I stepped gingerly out of the broken gondola.

“Parell!” he cried. He shivered all over, fronds erect, as a scream resounded down to us. Thin scream, hysteria, breath snatched away. Starting again, closer. Blinding light, a rip yawning open, a mass tumbling through, tearing.

The gondola groaned and slid away. I lunged unseeing. Caught someone. Not my someone.

Parell!” he shrieked, tangled and tumbling, falling, falling.

”Help.” whispered the one in my arms. “My eyes...”

I dropped her to the ledge. Couldn’t think. I bound my eyes again and that was better. Bound her eyes too so she’d stop moaning, but I didn’t really care. She’d killed my mate. What did she deserve?

“There was so much light,” she whispered. Her breath was weak. I confirmed by touch: perforations in the air sacs. Dying for sure.

“Light and noise and... the angels that live in the dry dust. They hate us. They... killed us. <--This would be way cooler if it were real biblical angels and the mortals were human. Shredded us from afar. We were never meant for heaven."<--Powerful line here, good job.

*

She died some hours ago. The terrible light has faded since then. I can see the walls of the firmament around me and I wait and write because I have nothing else to do. Above me, the angels of dust sing to one another with eerie voices and command their fearful machines.<--Coolest line in the story, IMO. The fact that the angels sing an eerie celestial song is not only stylistically awesome, but functions to give them some needed characterization in a story that is (appropriately) light on characterizing the antagonists. Soon I think they will come for me.

This might sound crazy but I strongly recommend making the characters in this story human. What are stars to a non-human seeing them for the first time? What are angels to a non-human? What is "the firmament" to a people whose world is not the world of Genesis? What is the heaven they weren't meant for? The coolest thing about your story is how it subverts classical/religious myth concerning human relationships to the universe. Once you take the humanness out of it, your story loses punch. I mean, your use of a classically static and substantive firmament is brilliant. Likewise, there is beauty in the antagonists being angels who sing and who have a righteous hatred of flawed mortals; but again, the context washes out if those mortals aren't human. Are the characters plant-people? Slug-people? I think I can see why you made them non-human (under what circumstances would humans never see stars?), but I think it's worth making them "humans in an overlight setting" rather than aliens .

Overall, the story is excellent and with revision could well be worthy of publication.

Maugrim
Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face



Jitzu_the_Monk posted:

Spectre's crit inspired me to do a line crit of "The Rain Beneath," because I really like the story too.

<3

V useful crits, thank you. I'll probably poke you about this some time we're both on IRC.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

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

Chili fucked around with this message at Jan 1, 2017 around 07:13

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

Did you FAIL THUNDERDOME Entenzahn? Don't worry, here's an example on how to write!

The Crane, the Drifter and/or the ARRRRgly – result

Jitzu wrote a slick, to-the-point, western kung-fu action scene. Sparksbloom turned up 22 minutes late with a soggy serving of something-something-gay-pirates.

Jitzu wins.

Crits:

Jitzu_the_Monk posted:

Brawl with sparksbloom:

Retrieving The Graph
(1,265 Words)

“Let’s skip the bullshit and just admit we’re gonna betray each other.” This is a good start because it hints at conflict in an interesting way. it's also a good way to make me side with your protagonist, since her buddy openly plans betraying her.

This was one messed up Buddhist. I asked him, “Ain’t you people s’pposed to have morals?”

“Better to get it out in the open, Pat. The moment we stop needing each other, we’ll try to take The Graph for ourselves. More money in it that way. I am under no illusions.”

My name ain’t Pat. It’s Patriot Jefferson Davis McCloud, but Mauricio called me whatever he felt like. I done met my share a’ freaks drifting around doin’ jobs, but never one like him. Guy was some kinda Mexican, but said he didn’t speak no Spanish. Came from someplace called “Rio Degenerato,” or some poo poo, but he’d studied in Bangkok. Real pill that guy, but one thing I’ll say for him, the man could bust out Muay Thai something fierce. i like this so far. the voice is solid and firmly places me in a western setting, mauricio is a good idea for a character and I know what's up.

“Well poo poo, Mauricio, you might could be onta sumpthin’. Maybe I oughtta start tryn’a sit cross legged and pretend to fall asleep like you do. See what illusions I can dispel.” I sassed the guy, but at least he done me the courtesy of bein’ honest. Still, I was stewin’. Orders were return The Graph to the boss, not swipe it for our own selves. the one thing I will say is that you don't want to use the apostrophe inflationary. I get that it's one way of establishin' an accent but use it t'often an' it gets annoyin' t'read.

Anyhow, we passed ‘bout thirty or so Harleys parked in the lot. That I expected. Rest of it was filled with station wagons an’ poo poo, and I couldn’t figure why ‘till I saw the sign. “Daughters of the American Revolution Bingo Night – Hosted by Hell’s Angels.” We was gonna have more’n bikers to deal with, but I wasn’t about to hit no old ladies. kinda balked at this part because I didn't expect the setting to be modern enough for a Hell's Angels biker gang.

Got to the entrance, saw six Angels smoking outside. Mauricio turns to me and says, “You deal with them. I need to meditate.” Had a good laugh at the sarcasm ‘til I saw his face. It wasn’t sarcasm. Zen boy set himself on the ground while I walked up to the bikers.

Alright, we're getting to the fight part now and while I think it's mostly decent, you have a tendency to get lost in the detail. You don't need to describe every single movement. Sometimes less is more. That reminds me of a fight scene Muffin once wrote wherein he just said "his kung fu was sudden, slick and baller". You don't have to be that general, just keep in mind that abstraction is a thing and it works. Also, if you describe actions, keep it snappy, and be creative with your words. I'll try to highlight some tiny details that could be changed.

One turned to his buddies and said, “Get a load of this.” Another whistled. “Members only,” said a third. When I walked past the first two, one of the others stiff-armed me in the chest I tried to walk past and was stiff-armed in the chest. So I lifted my right heel and dug into an Angel behind me. Caught him hard in the back of the knee. (how do you kick somebody behind you in the back of the knee?) Then a swift repeat on the left. Only four bikers left standing, but they came swinging. I sidestepped the first a haymaker,. then crouched low. Thing about bikers, most of them are old and fat. That means weak knees, and a more’n likely reluctance to bend the lower back. I propped myself up, my hands planted on the ground behind me. Then and raised my legs, and starting cuttin’ them at the knees. One, two of them dropped. Couple more circled ‘round me, like they was gonna boot me from behind. So I swept my leg around, tripped one, then the other. and dusted them off the floor. (or some fancy-rear end bs I don't know just play around with the language more, it sounds a bit technical and dry the way you do it.)

Only after they was all down did Mauricio stand up, scoop my wig off the ground, and hand it back. I didn’t even know it had slipped. A natural brunette, I didn’t choose blonde to match my five-o’clock shadow. Just feel prettier that way. that's another good way of making me relate to your protagonist, is to have her do the hard work while mauricio watches.

Well, these bikers weren’t goin’ anywheres with busted knees. Problem was I should’a busted their mouths too. Mauricio and I walked into the bingo hall, and before the door shut behind us, one of them outside bikers shouted, “FIGHT! Don’t let ‘em near The Graph!” okay, now the escalation, i like this too. the thing with the old ladies is a bit odd and i'm not sure why it's relevant but whatever, it's fun I guess.

The room erupted. Old ladies clutched their pearls and wailed. I half expected the old birds to soil their Depends. The bikers, maybe twenty of them, stomped over from the bingo board, fists clenched. None of them fuckers was cute, which made it easier to smash them up. I decked the first one head on, then again for the next. The third was too fast. Caught me by the neck and slammed me against the wall, squeezing tighter all the while.

Mauricio let out a call so loud, the room’s attention turned to him. He charged at the bikers. But instead of running straight through them, he pivoted and, ran up the wall and bounced off knee-first. Then he sprung himself off it, with his knee outstretched. That took out another three Angels or so.

While my strangler was distracted, I grabbed his pinky finger and snapped it back, full force. He let off, and I pummeled the bastard ‘til he didn’t look human. Most the old ladies had run out the door by now, but a few of them went after Mauricio, swinging purses. He had his hands full with the Angels, but Zen boy knew how to maneuver. He kept spinnin’ round, smashing bikers with his elbows and knees. At one point this burly looking Angel caught his arm, so Mauricio knocked heads with him, put the guy right out. this for example is a pretty good para. it's punchy and doesn't gently caress around, and gives me a good general idea of how mauricio fights.

A couple more dirtbags charged me, so I grabbed a bingo table, held it against me and broadsided them. By that time, Mauricio had grappled the last biker to the ground. He pressed on the side of the guy’s neck ‘til he passed out. The couple old ladies that hadn’t fled were hitting Mauricio with their purses, but I could tell it wasn’t hurting him none. We brushed them off and made our way down a stairwell to the bar. The one old bartender there surrendered right off. That’s when I gazed upon it. Framed on the wall behind the bar, hung The Graph.

“Hank Williams,” I read out loud. “Hooey, that’s one ‘spensive autograph. The boss is gonna be glad to get this one back.” I checked a mirror on a wall. “Hmm. All that fightin’ and I still look good.” Then I saw "Then I saw" is probably one of the most cancerous things you could write in a story next to literally the word cancer Mauricio’s reflection looming behind me. The guy was looking all bug eyed; he had this menacing kinda aspect. menacing kinda aspect is hard to imagine visually, come up with a better way of describing it “Well, we gonna get this over with?”

I shot an elbow back at Mauricio, but he dodged it. When I spun around to throw a punch, he backflipped away onto a pool table. I rushed the table, but quick as can be, the Mexican done picked up billiard balls and started lobbing them at my face. The third one crashed into my mouth, shattering a bunch of teeth on the way in. I spit, then reached up to the pool table, hoping to grab one of Mauricio’s feet. He raised his forearm up, elbow bent, and brought it straight down to clock me with a sharp one. Then he jumped to ground level, and spun around to knee me in the gut. I wish there was a bit more attitude to this. This is what I mean when I say that your fight scenes have a tendency to read dry and technical. Your protagonist is getting her rear end kicked and all she does is describe what physically happens as if she was reading it from a manual. Say something like "motherfucker was slippery like a Potamac eel" or whatever the gently caress. That said it's cool that Mauricio is an actual challenge that she has to overcome. It makes for a good finale.

I brought both arms around to guard my torso, then dropped to my knees in a daze. Mauricio turned, walked to the bar, hopped over it, and grabbed The Graph. Looked like I would have only one shot at this, so I removed a heel, focused real hard, and wound up. When Mauricio jumped back over the bar and started for the stairwell, I rocketed the heel smack dab into his groin. As he bent over, The Graph slid out his hand. The glass framing shattered, but the paper was intact. I slipped out of the other heel, then ran up to Mauricio. More’n likely broke the man’s jaw with the uppercut I landed. He was down for the count.

I walked back to the mirror, Graph in hand. Felt sorry for myself over my face being so banged up. But when I reached into my bra and brought out my lipstick to paint myself real nice, I started to feel better. The boss was about to pay me one hell of a bonus. Figured I might could buy myself some ‘spensive new heels. I expected the protagonist to be male. I'm not sure if you went for a dumb gender twist punchline ending or if you just wrote the story weird. I'm pretty sure you made the gender ambiguous on purpose. I'm not sure why. I feel like the ending only exists so you can say "PSYCHE SHE'S ACTUALLY A WOMAN LOL" and, uh, well, ok. Otherwise I don't get why this story ends with her taking lipstick out her bra and talking about heels. I don't know. It's a weird last para. Weird and bad. Don't do this again, ever.


So yeah, as noted in my linecrit this is okay popcorn reading. I was with the protagonist. I wanted to know how it ends. My eyes didn't trail off the screen. You could still improve it in places, especially I wish you would play with the language a bit more when describing these big fights. Also I feel like your voice was much thicker in the beginning than in the end. But it was decent enough, and it had a good voice.

The ending was kind of a copout and I feel like you could have used those leftover words to give the story a bit more gravitas, alas. You wrote a good story. You won. Congrats dude.



sparksbloom posted:

brawl with Jitzu

Two-Cross
1,495 words

It was hard to see in the tree-filtered moonlight, but Wilcox and the young smuggler, Niko, made their way down into the gorge, stepping gingerly around the loose rocks. It had taken a lean couple months for Wilcox to attempt something this risky, but there were better, more trusted hired guns in these rough parts. I'm tripping over this sentence. What does it man that there are "trusted guns in these parts"? How does it relate to Wilcox not attempting anything? Every few minutes, the fear struck Wilcox that maybe someone had followed the two of them. Perhaps Two-Cross Clancy’s network of brigands had spotted their sad little dinghy from afar, and his men were littering the dark place in the gorge, ready to lunge. This intro is meh. You know what you're supposed to do (get me interested) and by God you try but two people walking around a ravine for unexplained reasons with some abstract danger lurking somewhere, maybe, is not enough.

But Niko was confident they hadn’t been followed. “ You’ve got to trust me,” Niko said, squeezing Wilcox’s hand. “The light’s bad tonight. No one could have seen us.”

“Fine,” Wilcox whispered. He noticed the narrowing walls of the gorge, and he knelt down and squinted at the inky forms of rock. "the inky forms of rock". what the f-- at least call them "inky rock forms". There’s be no way to find Two-Cross’s cave without an annoying level of trial-and-error.

The two of them scrambled down a steep outcropping, but Wilcox slid on a slick rock, twisted his ankle hard, and scraped his elbow against an exposed stone edge. His gun clattered down the rocks, out of sight. Wilcox swore under his breath. Niko hurried over and put a hand on Wilcox’s back, helping him out. I get this far before I'm bored. Part of that is because I still don't know what precisely we're doing here, part of that is because your prose is rather cumbersome and makes me want to play Overwatch instead. Having people wander around a ravine and constantly stumble/fall/lose poo poo is hard to write in an interesting way.

“You’re all right?”

“Hurts like a motherfucker,” Wilcox said, “but I can walk, it’s fine.” He rose to his feet with Niko’s help, his foot erupting with pain as soon as he put his weight on it. Niko offered his shoulder to Wilcox, but Wilcox pushed him away, sucking his teeth. “I’m fine. Take care of yourself.”

Alright so when I say your prose is cumbersome, this paragraph is a god example. Why not "Niko pulled him up and his foot exploded with pain. There wasn't enough air in the goddamn world for him to suck in. Motherfucker. It would be a long limp to the cave." It's still a bit hammy but I think it's better, because what you do is basically a bunch of blocking instructions: "A does B. C tries to help A up. A shoves C away. A gets up. C moves his hands in a forward fashion. A moves closer to C, also moving his hand in a forward fashion." It's all these really simple, tiny movements that are mostly irrelevant to us because they don't transport any attitude, aren't interesting to read, and all the relevant information they convey can be presented in a more interesting manner. It's hard. I know. I did my fair share of lovely blocking. You need to learn how to be a bit more playful with the language. Also read more.

They searched in silence for what felt like hours. Along the steep cliff, the two of them felt around, shifting rocks, and digging about for the narrow crawlspace where Two-Cross had stashed the treasure. But in the dark the process was slow, and with the ankle injury, Wilcox spent most of the search on his knees.

---- On second thought, I think you could improve the story a lot just by starting it right here. It saves us the aimless looking around and it conveys almost all the information that we got up to this point ---

The moon dimmed behind a cloud, smothering the faint light that had sustained their search so far. “gently caress it,” Niko said, “we’re turning on the lantern.”

“We’re not,” Wilcox said. “We’re patient. Smarter than that.”

“There’s no way we were followed,” Niko said. “But if we keep groping around here, the sun’s going to catch us on the way back. And you’re going to slow us down with that foot.”

Wilcox’s ankle twinged. “Fine,” Wilcox said. “Your way. We’ll get our bearings, and then we’ll snuff it out.” You don't need to keep reminding me of who says what. I'll just assume the two protagonists keep talking to each other.

Niko lit the lantern, and the cliff bloomed with light and detail. A few dozen yards down, Wilcox spotted it – the dangling stalactite, the sword of Damocles that Clancy had liked so much way back then. With his bearings back, Wilcox snuffed out the lantern and felt his way over toward the treasure stash. Even in the dimmest light, he retained the photo image of the marker, and once under it, he felt his way down to the boulder Two-Cross had put in front of the crawl space. okay, so it's not all bad news, this is the part where it gets a bit more interesting again, because now we're at a treasure cave and there's a tangible sense of danger thanks to the lantern scene.

On Wilcox’s orders, Niko gave the boulder a heave, and it tumbled over, cleaving in two with a resonant crack. what the gently caress how does the boulder just break on its own???

“Don’t look at me like that,” Niko said. “I can’t see you, but I know you’re looking at me like I killed a child. Just go, get the necklace, and make us rich.” wait what necklace?

“I don’t want the money. I’m finishing up old business.” wait, what business? DON'T HIDE YOUR PROTAGONIST'S INTENTIONS FROM YOUR READER. BAD SPARKSBLOOM! BAD

“Okay,” Niko said, “make me rich.” He kissed Wilcox and leaned back, cross-armed, against the cliff wall. Then Wilcox lowered his head and shimmied into the low space hidden behind the boulder. A few feet down, the cave grew more spacious, enough, at least, for Wilcox to sit up and feel around on the sandy ground. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Maybe Two-Cross had beat him here; but no, Wilcox had always been the sentimental one. Two-Cross was too awash in bounty to waste time on a mere memento of something long gone. of WHAT gone

Then Wilcox’s fingers closed on a dirty, rusty chain, and it led to the still smooth pendant the two of them had lodged her all those years ago. The feeling of victory seized him come up with something more evocative than that, and for the first time in a while, he smiled.

Then (WHY) a bright light spilled into the crawlspace. A muffled grunt from outside, then a damp sound. And man you really have a thing for linking words or sth something rolled under the crawlspace. Something hairy. Something warm. Something wet. new para here. horrible moment, drag it out, make the reader TASTE the loving FEAR A head.

Niko.

Without thinking, Wilcox shimmied back out of the crawlspace, through a slick trail of Niko’s blood. Of course there was an ambush waiting, he knew. But might as well be ambushed – might as well go out in a glorious last stand – than be starved at, fired at, or cornered. Christ, how had he not heard anything until it was too late?

Knowing full well a blade might fall to knock his own head off, Wilcox squirmed out of the crawlspace and whipped to the left. Sure enough, someone’s dagger dragged across his back, you're at the action scene now stop stuffing your sentences dullard ripping his coat and leaving a bloody gash. With his good foot, Wilcox angled a kick up toward the arm of the assailant, but only managed to graze his hip. Instinctually, Wilcox reached for his gun before he remembered dropping it down to the ground below. dude come on you don't need to remind us that you set this up, just have him grab thin air, or have him never bring a gun in the first place because what's the point if he instantly loses it only so you can remind me later that he'd lost it The pirate moved in closer, straddling Wilcox and, drawing the blade on Wilcox’s his (use pronouns more - I know it's kind of messy when there's a lot of action and everyone is a dude but still) throat, pinning him against the cliff wall.

“The captain wants to see you,” the pirate said.

Wilcox’s eyes fell on the headless body next to them. “No thanks,” he said, “I think we need a little distance.”

He grabbed at the pirate’s legs, what and the man stumbled and fell, dropping the dagger, which slid down a deep crevice next to them. Bracing himself for the pain, Wilcox hoisted himself onto his legs, placing the boot of his good foot down on the pirate’s throat. Tbh I think these sentences are a bit too long for what's supposed to be a quick action move. Cut them up maybe, or rephrase. Also it reads a bit formulaic when two sentences in a row end on a gerund phrase. That's certainly not what you want for your action scene.

“Where’s Clancy?” asked Wilcox.

“gently caress off,” the pirate said. “I ain’t telling you anything.” He struggled against Wilcox’s boot, but Wilcox held firm, even though the pain of his injured ankle clouded his thoughts.

“Thought you’d have more resolve,” said a familiar voice, and the six-and-a-half foot captain leapt down from a high rock, drew a sword, and cut open the pirate’s stomach. Okay, no. I don't really know that Clancy and Wilcox are familiar with each other, so you have to name him. Also his grand entrance is not very imposing. This is a threatening guy! Here's how I might try to do it: "Captain Clancy lept down a rock. Even after all these years the man was still built like a loving warship, huge and fast and hung with enough weaponry to make the HMS Victory call him 'a little overkill'". Basically, play around with the language more. Have fun! A lot of these scenes read like you're bored describing them, like you're ticking off checkboxes one physical movement at a time instead of writing a bitchin' story. “Isn’t that what you wanted? Resolve? Justice?”

Wilcox looked up – he hated that, always looking up this is one of the good parts of this story because it's a relatable feeling, but you don't make any other use of it – and forced himself to meet Clancy’s eyes. “You camped here. Of course you did.”

“You’re a sentimental motherfucker. It’s two years exactly since you walked away.” Clancy walked in a half-circle around the gasping, twitching, gushing pirate. The pirate’s gleaming lantern cast twin shadows from Clancy and his sword, shadows that ran all the way across the chasm. Wilcox drew back, stepping out of reach of Clancy’s reach.

“You remembered too,” Wilcox said.

“I remember every loose end,” Clancy said, stepping closer. “Comes with the business.” WHAT'S THE LOOSE END

He swiped at Wilcox a few times – playing with him. Wilcox retrieved the necklace from his pocket, dangling the pendant from the chain in front of him. “You want this?” Wilcox asked.

“Not particularly,” Clancy said, still approaching.

Wilcox would be cornered before long if he didn’t do something, anything. He swung the necklace above his head, eyebrows raised, still taking slow steps backwards.

“I don’t care for trinkets,” Clancy said. “Unless someone’s willing to pay. And no one’s going to pay for that piece of trash I used to get into your pants.” He smiled. “That was fun, wasn’t it?” I still don't get it. So the two of them hosed, and that's why Wilcox wants the pendant... and that's why Clancy wants to kill him? State your intentions arbhsgh

Wilcox stumbled, his hurt foot twisting again, as he fell backwards over something. The nausea took him – Niko’s headless body. Clancy grinned and took a few more practice strokes.

In desperation ,
That's kinda weak, make me feel it by describing how threatening the Captain is, or how Wilcox loses hope. Wilcox tossed the necklace in an arc, over Clancy’s head, beyond the pirate’s still twitching body, I'm sorry but the way you just kinda insert his twitching body here makes it seem super comical. like, i completely forgot about this guy and then he's just there like ARSGHAGHGH BOO lol and onto the lantern, which smashed and rendered the chasm in utter darkness once again. Please make this more concise. You have the long travel of the pendant, but then, BOOM. Impact. It smashed. Darkness. Clancy snarled, breaking into a run and landing a barrage of sword strokes on the cave wall, while Wilcox rolled away. The foot ached so much after the second trauma that standing would be close to impossible, but at least in darkness there was some sort of equality between them.

A scraping filled the air. “I’m going to find you,” Clancy said. “I suppose you’ve learned something about dirty tricks from our time together, hm?” Wilcox supposed Clancy was sweeping the ground with his sword, looking for him. To distract him, Wilcox tore off one of his boots and tossed it down the chasm. Still, the sweeping grew closer, and Wilcox huddled into a tight ball.

The sword point cut into his leg.

“Here we are,” Clancy said, and, bracing for the deadly cut, Wilcox heaved a rock in front of him as a shield. Clancy’s sword clanged off of the rock, he stumbled, and there was a second, sickening crack. Wait. The big bad just STUMBLED TO DEATH? Waaaa...? At least let Wilcox find the gun he dropped before, or sth, anything other than "uh-oh looks like clumsy Big Bad killed himself " dude come on.

Too easy, Wilcox thought. so basically wilcox is one of those people who get carried by their team in DOTA and then post "ez" when they win. god what a fucker But before long, dawn would rise, and with it Clancy’s crew – and here he was, immobile, alone, and unprotected. ending picture is pretty decent, would make me want to read more if the rest of the story was better

I think my line-crit already says everything but to sum it up again: I wish you would have done more with the prose, it came off as kind of unimaginative, like you had a good plot in mind but not enough ideas for the presentation. I also wish you would have, at some point, preferably at the start, told me why any of this happens, instead of little by little revealing that it's actually about a pendant, but never why.

I also think you whiffed the prompt. It just reads like a pirate story. You were supposed to pick two, not one. Then Jitzu also had better action scenes. Not perfect mind you, but he only had to beat "people climb through ravines" and he wrote about a cowboy and a kung fu master beating up bikers at bingo night.

I appreciate that your story went for a bit more substance than "bar brawl", but sadly it didn't do a good enough job of conveying any of the important motivations or backstories. Anyway, thanks for writing and be on time next time you big ol' doofus!

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.




Week 198 Crits - Part 2 of 2

sparksbloom - Hold the Bees

This started out super promising - both T-Rex and I figured it would be a win candidate when we started reading. Conflict is established right away, you've got a nice, subtle narrative voice going, prose is clean, and there's a surreal setup that immediately makes me want to keep reading.

You introduce a second character, but I'm not sure you really do enough with her to justify taking away space that could be used to flesh out the narrator, since their goal is the same and having two of them doesn't really add much to the story aside from at the very end, which is where things fall apart anyway. Also a little confused as to why she's so hilariously bad at sculpting these miniatures if it's "all she knows."

The ending just feels really rushed to me. You do a good job of setting the scene and establishing some tension, but then when the action starts, it's all moving so quickly and with so little insight into what the characters are thinking / feeling that it all feels sorta weightless. The way everything comes together is a bit disappointing - the dialogue shifts and feels a lot more wooden, and I'm not sure what the deal is with the Stork conjuring up the baby and just swallowing it again. I think I see what you wanted to do there, but you really need to make the narrator react to it, or it just seems out of left field, especially since a few lines later he basically calls all the effort he's put into getting a baby "silly."

I dunno, it feels like a happy-ever-after ending crammed into a couple paragraphs between two characters that have essentially just met. There's just not enough meat to get me invested or give the action any punch, but I could see this working in a significantly longer piece if you ever fleshed it out.

Thranguy - Comrade Rusty and the God

Strong opening hook, evocative prose and a good example of getting attention with a jarring shift.

You spend a lot of time on a setup that you toss away with a single line, which I'm a little torn on. I think it's funny, but afterward the whole "spy in a child's body" thing isn't really relevant anymore, which makes it feel a little unnecessary.

Dialogue is snappy and realistic enough, hits that Buddy Movie banter angle pretty well, although some if it is edging a bit into "as you know..." territory. If he's had dealings with the god before (especially a god of information), the bragging about past exploits / skill at finding things is something they probably both already know. There's lots of neat little touches here - I like the tattoo on the back of Sinner's head, for example - and you do a good job of balancing out the action and the dialogue to keep a nice pace without overcrowding things. However, this is another week that ends in a cliffhanger that sets up a larger scene. This is a particular problem in this story because you don't resolve the conflict that you already have before dumping them into another one off-screen; the reader doesn't find out if he finds the "stick" or survives the ambush. Ending it on the line "No better way to start a new adventure" is basically saying "there's a more interesting story here, but you don't get to see it."

Jitzu the Monk - Cherry Grindon Park

This was a weird one to judge - it didn't click for me, but there's not a lot in particular that's wrong with it. The biggest issue is that I think your story needs to start almost where it ends, because the bulk of it, while well-written, isn't nearly as compelling as the last third or so. You do need some backstory to make the setup make sense, but there's probably a way to move the timeline up and still get that in there somehow.

The kid who needs a ride is sort of a sub-conflict, and there are genuine stakes if the narrator gets caught, but it never feels like that's an actual risk so it ends up being a regular ol' car ride. The kid's voice also feels a little inconsistent if he's meant to be eight - especially when he's talking about Cherry Grindon and the centrifuge.

Virtually all of the emotional / dramatic payoff is backloaded in this piece, and because of that, we don't really get enough time to let the impact of what has happened truly breathe. The dad has some surface reactions and a couple thoughts that I think you did well - it feels like how people really think when they are in shock, instead of going way overboard / melodramatic like a lot of people tend to do with stories like this. It's another story where there just isn't enough actual conflict in the story itself to drive things - there's plenty of it on the periphery, but it never becomes the focus like it needs to.

mistaya & Echo Cian - Rattus Nobiles

First of all, props to you and Echo for being the only people to actually buddy up for buddy week.

The opening is really heavy on physical description, which doesn't make for a good hook. I'd cut that first paragraph completely and figure out a more organic way to fit in description throughout the story. The story is also a bit frontloaded with backstory, which is admittedly important + story-relevant information. The bit with bringing a girl over and seeing a nosebleed is a nice touch - maybe not the most original thing in a "reformed vampire" story, but it establishes the kind of person he is, and it's a nice humanizing moment.

The banter is good - a little exposition heavy in some places, but for the most part it's disguised well. This was one of the better stories this week in terms of dialogue that felt like it was pulled out of an actual buddy movie.

Another thing you did really well was having a main, plot-based conflict in additional to an interpersonal conflict and even a couple peripheral conflicts that all work together to flesh these characters out and shed some light onto their motivations. This kind of dramatic layering is hard to pull off in flash fiction, and it always makes a story feel more real. The action when they confront the cultist is well-paced, though there are some minor clarity issues when things start getting really hectic. Satisfying resolution, though, and some nice tension when it looks like they might end up fighting each other. This story almost ends with that same kind of "see what happens next time!" vibe that a lot of people fell into this week, but I can forgive that because there was actually a full narrative arc in the rest of the piece.

Fuschia tude - French Leave

A little exposition-heavy in the beginning, and it's told in a pretty impersonal way that sucks some of the impact out of it. I think you could cut right to the chase and let us piece the setting together from context, especially since the larger scale of the war isn't really what's important here. You do a good job of creating atmosphere with it, though - especially that subtle current of paranoia that shows up all over this piece.

The dialogue feels a little stilted at first - I think a lot of people have the tendency to overdo the more "proper" speech patterns when working with anything historical, and it usually makes the language feel scripted and unnatural. You get better about this as the story settles into a groove, though.

I would like to see more characterization - it's hard to get a read on them as people, since so much of the story hinges on dialogue and description that is building the setting rather than the characters. They have a goal and there's some conflict, which is good, but because I don't see how they are responding to it / processing it on a personal level, it just feels like I'm sorta drifting through the story. There isn't any emotional momentum to drive things forward. I think you are also being a bit too coy with what they're after - there are some papers they need, but they don't actually get mentioned until pretty late into the story, and we never find out what they actually are, so it basically becomes a sort of McGuffin object, where it's important because you say it is, and because it drives the plot forward. This is also yet another story this week that feels like it's setting up a larger, more exciting chain of events.

Carl Killer Miller - The Last Case of Detective Ford and Tumor McCoy

Opening paragraph is a little weak - you could cut it and jump right into establishing the conflict via radio for a better hook.

I like that you just set up this character dynamic matter-of-factly with a single line about the tumor's origin. It's a goofy premise, but it works because you just put it out there and get on with it, instead of spending time trying to coax the reader into suspending disbelief. You also do a good job of giving both characters distinctive voices, which is pretty crucial when they are occupying the same body.

Like a lot of stories this week, you lean a little heavily on expository dialogue / description in a few places where it isn't really necessary, but oddly enough the biggest issue is clarity in the back half of the story, where you've got perspective shifts, multiple names getting thrown around, and some action that could use better blocking to get a picture of what's going on. I like how there's just enough ambiguity to make it seem like Ruiz might possibly be the guy missing from hospice for a moment - it plants a tiny seed of doubt that makes the reveal at the end a little less predictable. I kinda wish you'd played your cards a little closer to your chest - at first you can almost buy that Ford is actually a working detective with a tumor that nobody else knows about yet, but about halfway through it becomes clear that he's just delusional, so you can kind of see where the story is heading. You do include enough action in between those points to keep me reading, though.

This is a big improvement of the last story of yours that I judged, so you should be proud of that. You did a good job of pulling the lens a little closer to the characters and making it feel more personal.

dmboogie - Teach's Spirit

Strong opening hook - saying Keith "floated" past the narrator immediately makes it clear that something unnatural is going on, without being overly blunt about it or killing the pacing to explain. Good example of word economy doing some heavy lifting.

Solid narrative voice, and you do a good job of immediately establishing characterization through dialogue and actions. The weary cynic + bright-eyed optimist combo is well-worn buddy movie ground, but that's kind of the point, and you do enough interesting things with the dynamic to justify it.

It takes maybe a little too long to get into the meat of the story, but there's some good details peppered throughout. I like that you give Keith some small moments to breathe, like when he's critiquing another teacher's methods, to prove that he cares a bit more than he's letting on. It makes the story arc feel more authentic. The ending feels earned, and because it comes from a place of genuine character growth, it's satisfying and heartwarming in that sorta schlocky-but-sincere way that buddy movies shoot for. Not a lot else to say about this piece, honestly!

Entenzahn - Aftershow

This would have easily been in contention for the win if you'd submitted on time, dammit.

Conflict established right out of the gate, strong characters with distinct voices and mannerisms, evocative prose that mixes a neat setting with a noir vibe that works surprisingly well. Bodo's inability to not pull pranks, combined with his really flat, disaffected line delivery, is great.

Pacing is solid - it drags a little bit in the middle, but you close things out with an entertaining, frantic action setpiece that plays off of both characters' identities, which is neat. It's another story that ends with a setup for a sequel, but like a couple others this week, the fact that you actually have a decent arc in the rest of the story, which well-realized characters and some strong prose chops to back it up, makes it a lot less egregious.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Thanks for the linecrit and judgement, Entenzahn.

skwidmonster
Mar 31, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Blue Wher posted:

I'm in, so you can boil me mash me stick me in a stew


Dear Blue Wher,

This memo is to inform you that you will be using the word "callithumpian" in your story. Please enjoy this flashrule, and rest in the knowledge that my motivation is purely random.

Suck a D,
skwidmonster

skwidmonster
Mar 31, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Also, in for Monday's prompt, but can I request a sebmojo flash?

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Man agonizes over potato - Tuesday Rule
Words: eclectic, gestalt

Still Life

Word Count: 1058

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?...itle=Still+Life

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at Aug 29, 2016 around 00:14

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005

Now, in the quantum moment before the closure, when all become one. One moment left. One point of space and time. I know who you are.

You are destiny.


Tuesday says: euclidean, ambrosia, phantasmagoria, tantamount.

Damien
(1089)

In the hallways and in the libraries there is quiet now. On the soft fields of dust covering hardwood desks and tabletops there's a calm she hasn't felt in years. Anja stands in the doorway, the mild wind from outside tracing patterns on the unswept floors.

"Damien?"

She calls out, as soft as she used to. The quiet remains.

"Wait here, watch the back."

The soldiers behind her spread out, sergeant calling out orders. She enters, and closes the door behind her.

"Damien."

He would have replied the first time, it's not a question any more. She realizes she never truly believed she would find him. Anja, shoulders relaxed but far more tense, unbuckles sword and pepper-box, leaves it on the side-table where mother would leave lemonade or grape juice when the days were hot. Ambrosia to Anja and her brother after long days of exploration or-

She realizes that she's long lost in thought, straightens up, counts to ten. Leaves weapons behind in the foyer as she starts towards Damien's study.

-

The hedges outside are overgrown, bushes previously perfectly trimmed and spread out across the gardens have grown together like bloated cities are wont to do. Creatures that would have scuttled away at the sound of footsteps have grown bold, and as the soldiers make a perimeter they watch and sting and hiss.

Something else watches too, something that moves not through the euclidean spaces we call home, but upon the surfaces that vibrates within and above all things. It folds in over itself again and again as it moves closer to the house, sending faint whispers through the grass, shivers in spines and the sudden death of vermin.

One soldier, far too deep in the garden, notices that the buzzing of insects has stopped, and the creature leaves him no time to scream.

-

The dust fills the room as Anja shakes the journal, giving birth to beams of light in the haze by the window.Behind her, the rest of the house waits with a legion of memories, but she keeps them at bay. She sits down by Damien's old desk, leaning back, hearing the familiar creaking of his chair, a sound she hasn't heard in three decades.

Eyes closed, just for a moment, just to let her mind follow her body. She's ready to open his journal, she's not ready.

"The blight in Warvan has lasted for half a year today. Thousands are dead, I had venison and raw fish for lunch today."

-

It makes me sick, to be honest, but there is a strange, symbiotic nightmare of a relationship I've entered into, I know that. Should the blight end next month, it will be because I've fed senators and high-scientists with venison and raw fish and oysters and what have you, and they've given me the funds I need to solve this.

And I will be the one who solves it, I know that, none but me realize the significance of the strange-sights. With an expedition funded, I've practically solved it already.

In any case, I'm far too deep in to back out by now, doing so would be tantamount to treason. They trust me too much, and I've promised what they probably consider far too much.

-

It feeds on the soldier, tasting flesh it hasn't tasted for a long time, learning history and language and everything it needs. The creature enjoys this man more than any elk or brigand or farmer, until her name and face enters its mind.

The remaining soldiers are dead in the span of a scream.

-

The potatoes look entirely normal for a day or two after harvest, we've found no traces of pathogen during growth. It is unlike any blight I've ever seen, and it frustrates me immensely. The meeting with senator Jodvan went to hell, he's an imbecile, and a waste of gold truffles and duck. No matter, I've secured enough funding for an expedition with a skeleton crew. If my next two meetings end the same way as Jodvan's, I'll proceed with the bare minimums.

I have too much riding on this.

-

As she flips the last page over, she's reached her old bedroom. The quiet has grown thick as molasses, covering her memories. There's a single line on the last page.

"The meetings failed, they're all idiots, I'm leaving tomorrow."

Anja opens the window, moth-eaten curtains fluttering in the sudden wind, afternoon sun casting strange shadows through the strips of cloth, like absurdist phantasmagoria. The book is left on her bed, turned to the last page and that last line of text.

There is something else.

This she realizes from the corner of her eye just as she understand that the spots of red outside the window are her soldiers.

There is something else in the book.

Anja turns, rushes out into the hallway, back towards the foyer.

It's not writing, not in any sense of the word, but it's still written in the book. Like space itself duplicated and smeared upon reality, cracks spilling words like rivers flowing upwards.

It says, "I did it, I saved us."

-

Anja knows its him, she doesn't know how, but just as an apple will fall when dropped, Damien is the force that fills the foyer.

"Damien."

She looks at her weapons, knowing that neither sword nor gun will save her.

Save you? You've saved us all, you found me.

"How many people have you killed Damien?"

Enough. I've been waiting for you, looking for you, but I can't leave. They made me the ward of this place, and I have no choice but to ward it.

"So you're dead," Anja sits down, hands on her knees, "I never believed in ghosts, but that's it, isn't it.

The creature pauses with the taste of time stopping, and then shifts, turns, swims. A shape takes form on the dusty floor, with a voice like dead water.

"I found the solution," says Damien, "I was too busy trying to fix the blight, fix the potatoes, not realizing the obvious answer."

Anja feels the rest of the creatures closing in around her, claws around her neurons.

"They didn't know what they were doing with me, with you, it'll be different. I can't leave this place, with you, it will be different."

Her body is a memory, her mind an archaic artifact. She's falling into the depths of everything. Her voice is gone, her eyes, but she can see him.

Damien.

She says.

Black Griffon fucked around with this message at Jun 4, 2016 around 23:18

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

skwidmonster posted:

Also, in for Monday's prompt, but can I request a sebmojo flash?

flash rule last place at the retard race

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

sebmojo posted:

flash rule last place at the retard race

this post is personally offensive to me

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Sitting Here posted:

this post is personally offensive to me

Your a personally offensive to me

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

ALSO I'M A JUDGE

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007



Tuesday words:
perspicacious
mellifluous
ambrosia
juxtapose

Flash rule: A person gets crushed by an avalanche of ironic consumer goods.

A very potato miracle - 1197 words.

Asher lifted the kitchen blinds with his fingers and peeked out the window. Boris was drawing closer. He rushed towards the door and glanced through the peephole, then opened it before Boris could get a chance to knock.

“What do you want now?” Asher barked.

Boris greeted him with a perspicacious smile.

“To wish you good luck, we both know you'll need it.”

“Last year was a fluke. You stole my recipe!”

“Which I still cooked better than you” Boris paused, then grinned further. “Maybe this time you should try to make real latkes instead of those... run-of-the-mill hash browns.”

“I'd love to erase your smug face right now but I'll leave that for tomorrow,” Asher said.

“Fine. But maybe you should save yourself the embarrassment and let the experts cook.”

Boris bowed and walked away.

This year would be different, Asher had practiced and perfected his recipe. He had measured the perfect ingredient ratios, temperatures and timings. He had memorized the steps down to a tee. And most importantly, Boris hadn't been able to get his dirty claws on his recipe, unlike the previous year when he tore it from Asher's recipe book during a barbecue.
Asher returned to the kitchen and opened the pantry, moved boxes and cans aside, knelt on the floor, looked at the top shelves, then froze.

“Rivkah? Dear? Where are the potatoes?”

“Oh! I mashed them for my dinner with the girls. Help yourself,” the voice came from the upper story.

“Rivkah! I told you they were for the contest!”

“There will be another one next year, honey. Or just go to Sammy's and get more.”

He shook his head and sighed. Thirteen years of marriage had taught him that arguing with Rivkah was pointless.

*****

Asher walked quickly through the aisles until he reached the produce section. To his dismay the russet potatoes had all been taken already. The Hanukkah latke cook-off was very popular in his community and potatoes usually ran out. He could use other kinds of potato but they would not yield the same results, they were not starchy enough. On the other hand he could attempt to look elsewhere but there was no guarantee that he'd find them and still have time to prep. Instead he walked reluctantly towards the petite potatoes and grabbed a few pounds, then proceeded to check out.

As he exited the building he saw two people arguing next to a display shelf. Asher recognized one of them as Gabriel, a mediocre cook-off rival. He pushed a cart with four paper bags full of russet potatoes.

“Sell me one! Don't be a dick, you don't need that many,” the man said.

Gabriel shook his head, then smiled.

“I'm just playing the game. Better luck next time.”

The man's face turned red and he grabbed a bag from the cart.

“What the gently caress?” Gabriel yelled as he tried to wrestle the bag away.

The man overpowered Gabriel and yanked the bag but his shirt got caught with one of the bolts of the display, pulling it towards them. An avalanche of safety equipment crushed the two men.

“Dear God!” Asher yelled as he rushed towards the accident.

He pushed the shelf and threw the fallen items aside. Both men were undoubtedly dead. Asher gasped and retreated towards the circle of people that had gathered around. A mall guard yelled a few feet away.

“Listen everyone! Please step aside!”

Asher walked a couple of steps backwards and bumped against Gabriel's cart which had been pushed away when the shelf fell. He glanced suspiciously at both sides and grabbed the handlebar after making sure all the gazes were focused on the accident. The guard turned towards him.

“Hey, you!”

Asher's eyes opened wide.

“You saw the whole thing?

“Um… yeah.”

“Stay here so you can tell the cops what happened.”

He nodded and gripped the cart tightly.

*****

A six feet hanukkiah stood at the front of the park with its nine arms spread evenly, a light bulb crowning each one. Dozens of tents surrounded the park with the judges table at the very end. Asher placed a tray with raw latkes next to his electric stove.

“Here to lose? Or are you going to kill me too?” Boris yelled, then burst out laughing as he continued towards his station.

“I'll go mess up his ingredients” Rivkah said.

Asher extended his arm in front of her, he knew she would follow through if he didn't stop her.

“Don't, I want to beat him fair and square.”

Rivkah crossed her arms.

“Fine. You do make great latkes though,” she said, then kissed him on the cheek.

Asher threw eight latkes into the frying pans. His hands moved with masterful precision as he added spices and flipped the potato pancakes without missing a beat. The spatula gleamed with every stroke, its clinking against the pan producing mellifluous sounds. He glanced at the clock and removed the golden latkes, setting them to dry on a paper towel. At last he separated them into plates and garnished with mint leaves and apple sauce spirals.

“Beautiful!” Rivkah exclaimed.

*****

“Perhaps it is missing a bit of salt,” Said the third judge.

The others nodded and the woman stepped back.

“Now, Asher, please come forward.”

Despite his nervousness he did as commanded, he placed a dish in front of each judge. While the actual challenge was in the cooking he never felt nervous until the judging phase began, when he couldn't do anything to change the outcome anymore. Perhaps it was the fact that he had nothing to focus on. The judges sank their forks into the latkes.

“Exquisite. Pure ambrosia,” said the first one.

“The texture is great. The salty and sweet flavors juxtapose perfectly. Is that cinnamon I taste?” Said another judge as she raised her head to look at Asher.

“Indeed.”

“Very well.”

As Asher walked back into the crowd he grinned at Boris who stared at him with a serious look. He returned to cook for the crowd who went wild over his latkes.

“Can we get your attention please?” The speakers blasted.

Asher served the last batch of latkes and joined the rest of the contestants.

“In third place we have Rina Mendelsberg, give it up for her!” The judge screamed through the microphone.

A plump woman walked up the stairs and received her ribbon with a smile.

“In second place...” “Asher Grabinski!”

Asher joined Rina and recived his second place ribbon. Boris smiled and clapped mockingly. Asher ignored him and took his prize with pride.

“And at last our big winner...”

A drum-roll blasted from the speakers.

“Bernard Valnicovich!”

Boris threw his arms in the air but brought them down immediately. Asher saw him yell and curse even though he couldn't make out his words. A man stepped on the podium.

“Grats!” Asher said as he shook Bernard's hand.

“You have to let me try your recipe, it must be glorious,” he replied.

The three winners raised their arms in victory, then stepped down to enjoy delicious snacks with their families. Perhaps Asher had not won, but he had defeated Boris and enjoyed the journey.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

crabrock posted:

ALSO I'M A JUDGE

hi a judge, im hungry

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Grizzled Patriarch posted:

Week 198 Crits - Part 2 of 2

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Illegal Hen

Early entry for Muffin's megabrawl.

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/brawls.php?story=422

Morning Bell fucked around with this message at Jun 20, 2016 around 03:10

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

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

Sitting Here posted:

BONUS DEAL: Anyone who es this week can pick one(1) word from this list and FORCE one(1) other entrant to use it. Again, that's ANYONE who es, and they can inflict the word on anyone else who's in this week.

Dear Bad Seafood,

I can't help but feel like your presence in the Thursday group inspired Sitting Here to bestow upon us all the anime bullshit of which I've now had to spend my personal free time reading up about. So, it is with great pleasure that I present to our hallowed judges a for the week and it is with even greater pleasure that I award to you early this Sunday morning a gift in the form of the word "callithumpian."

Sincerely eat a dick,
Tyrannosaurus

Guiness13
Feb 17, 2007

The best angel of all.

Prompt: A man agonizes over his potatoes
Wednesday Flash: Senses of Smell and Hunger, brawl vs Ziji

Hope Takes Root 960 words

The worst part about waking up was the smell. Before I opened my eyes, even before the pain slid back into place, it greeted me. A thick, wet, sour smell. Rotting meat. Rotting me.

The scenery hadn’t changed much in the last forty-eight hours. I still lay on the crumpled ceiling of the jeep. My femur still jutted from my leg, although the skin had turned green and foul smelling pus leaked from the wound. Rick still dangled from the driver’s seat, hanging limp against the seat belt with a purple, bulging face. His intestines draped from a gash in his stomach.

It couldn’t be much past dawn, but the interior of the jeep shimmered with heat. Rick stank, and the humidity magnified the smell until it was all encompassing. I’d thought, after the first day, that I’d get used to it. I remembered the hippo house at the zoo when I was a boy. It reeked like wet poo poo when I walked in, but by the time I left I’d stopped noticing. Rick beat out the hippos.

My stomach squelched and I grimaced at the pang of hunger. I looked over at the small sack sitting just under Rick. I could see the potatoes through the loose opening. I’d intended to sell them when we reached the village. Now they were covered with blood and god knows what fluids from Rick’s body. I let out a long sigh and stared at them.

I could reach them, if I tried. Moving would mean the burning pain in my leg and hips would be stoked to a white hot rage, but they were just a couple feet away. I licked my cracked lips. I tore my eyes away from the potatoes and looked out the window.

Not much had changed there, either. I could see the sharp incline of the mountain we’d fallen from. Trees and foliage obscured the rest. If I moved my face closer to the window, I could smell a faint trace of the blooming orchids. I spent a lot of time with my face close to the window.

#

I woke up and blinked. The sun had risen to its zenith, and the jeep sweltered. I couldn’t remember falling asleep. Something liquid dripped and spattered over and over. I turned my head.

A dingy brown liquid dripped from Rick’s hair and hands onto the potatoes. The sack was damp, and each drop hit with a liquid smack. The smell had swollen in the heat. Putrefying skunks would have been preferable. At the same time, my stomach growled at the sight of the bag.

“No.” I twisted away. Pain flared in my hips, and I screamed through gritted teeth. I lay there panting, staring up at my seat, breathing through my mouth as much as I could. The smell coated my tongue, and I was glad my mouth was too dry to swallow.

At first, I didn’t recognize the sound of the engine. All I heard was a distant purr. I slowed my breathing and strained to hear. By the time I heard the wheels grinding on the dirt road somewhere above us, I’d pulled my head out the open window. I could smell the trees, the flowers, and the faint tang of gasoline.

My memories of the crash itself were scattered. I remembered Rick screaming as he pumped the brakes and the sudden weightless feeling that made my stomach leap into my chest. After that, just noise. I had no idea if we’d gone through a guardrail or how much evidence of our fall there would be on the road.

“Hey!” The scream tore at my throat, but I kept it up. “Hey! Down here! Help!”

I screamed until all I could produce was a formless yowl that left the taste of blood in my mouth. The sound of the wheels never stopped. A dust cloud blew out from the mountain way above me. An hour later, the car came by again. I had just as much luck. I clenched my jaw and forced myself back inside.

I gagged as the smell overtook me. I twisted onto my side and a thin gruel of bile spilled from my mouth. It smelled like rancid wine and blood. My throat burned. I lay back down and sobbed until I passed out.

#

My stomach woke me up. It gurgled and growled constantly. It felt like someone had jammed a vacuum hose down my throat and sucked out my insides.

I looked over at the sack. A dark stain had covered most of it. Only a thin strip of the brown burlap showed at the bottom. I stared for a long time.

The bag squelched when I grabbed it, and my hand was coated with a greasy liquid. It left a rust-colored smear when I dragged it over. The rank smell of rotten meat and poo poo baked in the humid July heat engulfed me. My throat clenched. I grabbed a potato. It was discolored and coated with slime, and it squished in my grip. The white flesh beneath the skin was stained brown. I flung it away.

The next was the same. And the next. After I’d thrown five out of easy reach, I started piling the rejects close by. Just in case.

Not one of them was unstained. They sat in a pile, each dented where my fingers had sank into their surface, each browned and reeking.

My stomach screamed for food.

I kept thinking about the car. They’d be back. We were expected two days ago. They’d be looking for us. They had to.

I picked up the least stained potato. The smell of it rolled my stomach. I reached up and pinched my nose shut and bit into it.

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Tipua (1000 words)

The Waka drifted to a stop half a league from harbor. Its sails were tattered, its hold depleted, and its crew exsanguinated. No one knew why Tangaroa sent the boats back.

Sonorous bells gathered the townsfolk -- everyone over sixteen assembled under threat of drowning. The Chosen died the real death, but The Drowned came back vengeful. Avaricious. Silent.

Rongo suppressed a shudder as he reached into the cauldron. The cold ivory of washed-up bones slid between his fingers until one found purchase. He closed his hand around it and reverently, gingerly removed it.

All eyes bore down on his fist. Rongo took a ragged breath and opened his hand: the black bone.

The crowd erupted, quivered, and departed. Rongo remained rooted to that very spot, as though he could escape his fate by melding into the earth. The fallen bones intermingled with the seawrack at his feet. His empty hand remained open. During the hours of his catatonia, kūmara vines visibly encroached upon the town square. Someone would have to fight them back before the next assembly, but that someone would not be Rongo.

He was freed from all duties but one.

---

Raw fingertips scratched angry red welts in his whiskers.

"Another?"

Toi had been an irascible chatterbox in life, though many years of death had mellowed him out considerably.

Rongo ran his tongue across the coarse plaque of his remaining teeth. "Stronger."

Toi shrugged, knocked the neck off of a particularly grimy bottle, and tilted it over Rongo's cup.

Rongo tossed it back in one quick motion and luxuriated as its toxic fires deadened nerve cells throughout his body. He didn't care if the numbness was permanent. The captain got free waipiro for a reason.

---

A week later The Waka had been refitted and it was time to go. He had enlisted one crewman and coerced two others.

Two Enforcers, naked and hairless, wrapped their massive hands around him. One on each bicep. The sudden change in blood pressure intensified the throbbing in his head; Rongo giggled at the sensation.

His crew openly traded glances of fear and disgust. Their captain wasn't a coward, he was just too drunk to board.

The Enforcers dropped Rongo off at the wheel, saluted, and returned to shore.

"Fffirst mate Rātā!" Rongo bellowed.

"Yes, captain?"

"Have we got the grog?"

"Aye."

"And the moonshine?"

"Aye."

"And the waipiro? Three barrels of waipiro?"

"Aye."

"Then let us be off!"

"Aye-aye," Rātā responded. The crew shuffled to their stations.

---

For three days they sailed in darkness, for none had the heart to set the day-lights. During this time the captain hardly drank a drop. The crew was encouraged. During this time the captain ate none of his kūmara. The crew was disheartened.

The South Island materialized in the distance, and adrenaline galvanized the crew. The band of ogres that roamed this island had been raiding the mainland with increasing savagery. Already Rongo's town had more dead than living. But at least the ogres hadn't invaded since the town started mobilizing against them.

They docked quietly, and Rongo put his finger to his lips. He hadn't shared his plans and the crew was too afraid to ask, but follow-the-captain seemed as reasonable a strategy as any. Rongo pointed at the gangway, and the crew lowered it as somberly as a casket. Rongo pointed at a barrel of spirits then upward, and two crewman lifted the barrel. He tiptoed down the gangway and motioned over his shoulder, and they followed.

Rongo led them two cables inland, then pointed to a glistening patch of loam. His crewmen planted their barrel. Without a word of explanation, Rongo returned to the ship.

They repeated this process until every keg was packed in a tight circle on the marshy soil. Exhaustion blunted the crew's apprehension, though Rātā remained chary. Rongo returned to the ship for his uneaten kūmara, then trekked back to their circle of casks.

Rongo upended his burden while the crew watched silently. They returned to the ship, and Rongo raised the gangway. He crept back to the helm, pointed at stations, and gave the signal to depart.

Rātā's eyes bulged as he gasped. Here was an act of clear cowardice in premeditated sobriety. "An offering? You cannot placate--"

Rongo backhanded Rātā so hard that the first mate nearly crumpled. Recovering, Rātā turned to Rongo and drew another breath.

Rongo shoved his hand on Rātā's mouth and thrust his gaze down to the primal part of Rātā's brain which demanded animal obedience. Rātā deflated.

Gesturing northward, they sailed away from the island in silence. Once they had passed a comfortable distance, Rātā asked, "Why are we fleeing? We cannot return home except through victory."

"And victory we shall have," Rongo said. "Once that island is out of sight, drop anchor. There we shall wait for two cycles."

"But we'll starve!"

"Obey me in this, or captain your own fate." Rongo crossed his arms and looked away; the conversation was over. Did they have to abandon all the alcohol?

---

Two days with no food and limited water left the crew feeble and desperate. They would have mutinied if there were even a glimmer of hope, but the ogres would kill them on sight, and at this point so would their townsmen. Sprawled across the deck, Rongo croaked, "Cut anchor and sail southward."

The crew struggled to obey, and the instant they were in motion everyone collapsed back into prostration. An hour passed in agony, then the ship ran aground with a terrible roar. They could hide no longer; this was the end.

Rātā slumped his torso over the railing so he could face his demise head-on. Demise was not what he saw.

The island was inundated with kūmara. Gargantuan ogres, normally so fierce and facile, stumbled about and tripped over the vines.

"What?" Rātā asked.

Rongo broke into a gap-toothed grin. "Gentlemen, tonight we feast! Kūmara 'til you vomit, and waipiro if you find some. But not too much."

Man agonizes over potatoes. Drunk captain of a warship. Touch and thirst.

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

The turtle moves.


Fun Shoe

Small Potatoes

Prompt: Man animegonizes over potatoes

Words: 1000


As space battles go, it wasn't exciting; it was over entirely too quickly. Autonomous Dominion pirate drones swarmed over the lone colonial freighter, others entangling surprised GUSC escort mechs and exploding, taking out the stunned pilots within. Within moments the freighter's crew was dead also, pirate drones entwined with its guiding systems, driving the ghost ship to a destination unknown.

In a mech damaged beyond repair, the lone survivor screamed with rage into the endless night.


***


"Hey, we got a distress call coming through."

"Let it ring, Goddard," Kota said, leaning back in his chair and eyeing the navigation screen with growing irritation. "Probably some poor little rich boy who forgot to refuel at the last station."

"It's Space Corps encryption, Kota," Goddard said, deep voice prying like a crowbar at Kota's reluctance. "Could be important."

"Every unit of fuel burned without cargo is zenny wasted," Kota muttered, but he brought up the message on the main screen. He read it with growing concern until, with a growl, he changed course. Not even Kota would leave someone to die in space, GUSC lapdog or no.

"Our holds wouldn't be empty if you'd checked your sources," said Goddard. The big man's arms were crossed as he leaned back and glared at Kota. "That's what you get for trusting DiGriz the Rat."

"How could I know that old drunkard was gonna screw us?" Kota growled with feeling. "Whatever. We pick up the space-borne fuzz, then shake him down for a reward and charge for time wasted."

"Nice sentiment, Captain Generous. Going to foreclose on an orphanage next, or will you twirl your mustache first?"

A chirrup from the instrumentation showed they were at the distress call's source. Kota sighed..

"Neither. I gotta go to the bay doors and roll out the red carpet for our guest." Kota scratched the stubble on his cheek and stumbled out of the cockpit, grumbling all the while. "Be a peach and man the consoles."

Kota ignored Goddard's sharp reply and went down to the docking bay where he was just in time to see the massive double-doors grate open, and the half-wrecked remnants of a humanoid GUSC combat escort mech pass through the weak force barrier and collapse, its remaining leg buckling under. A hatch on the mech's back popped open and a small, bulky figure scuttled out, hitting the floor with a heavy thud. It thudded over, every rapid footfall loud and echoing as she walked past Goddard's own maintenance mech.

Kota looked down, flabbergasted, then leaned forward, hands resting on his thighs. "What the hell is a child doing here?"

At that, the figure's gloved hand shot out and grabbed Kota's testicles, clenching furiously while the other unsealed its helmet and threw it to the floor. The revealed face was that of a woman with long pink hair styled into two pigtails, limp with sweat. She would have been almost pretty, were it not for the fury that contorted her features.

"I am Sergeant Misi Aoi of the GUSC," she hissed through gritted teeth, her fingers giving an extra twist. "And I am not in the mood for your poo poo."

Kota could only gasp and squeal in agony.

Misi released Kota and unzipped her spacesuit, kicking it aside and swishing past him, tiny feet sounding strangely heavy on the metal floor. After recovering his breath, he followed.

Goddard nodded a greeting to the both of them as they arrived. "I read your credentials. Welcome aboard, Sergeant. We'll be happy to drop you off at the nearest station-"

"For a reward," Kota snarled, cutting off Goddard's statement.

"You'll get your reward," Misi said with a dismissive wave of her tiny hand. "But you're not dropping me off anywhere. We have cargo to reclaim, and I just deputized your asses." She hopped her petite form into Kota's chair, which gave a heavy groan of distress, and began entering coordinates into the console. Before she could finalize the command, Kota swiveled her about, his face a rictus of anger.

"See here, midget," Kota sneered, poking a stiff finger into Misi's chest -- which was like trying to poke a bulkhead, "we have a destination to get to and cargo to pick up. If we're late, we lose everything. Are you willing to compensate us?"

"I wouldn't do that," Goddard muttered at Kota. "Not only is she a sergeant, she's from a high-G world -- she's three times stronger and denser than a regular human being. She could break you."

"Your friend tells the truth," Misi spat. "And yes, you greedy little worm, I promised you compensation... upon successful reclamation of the stolen cargo. I am authorized to offer you-"

"Half," Kota interrupted.

Misi raised pink eyebrows. "What?"

"We want half the cargo. If it's that important, we want half of it, or at least its value in zenny." Kota stood tall and crossed his arms and looked pleased with himself. "I know your type. Anything you offer will be small potatoes in comparison."

Misi furrowed her brow in thought, then sighed. "A quarter. The Space Corps is authorized to write off twenty-five percent of the cargo -- and that better be enough, because I'll be damned if those mindless drones make off with the loot. I won't let my men die in vain."

"Done!" Kota said triumphantly, grinning at Goddard as the older man smacked his forehead. "While we're on the way, I'll have the repair units get your mech up and running-"

"No good," Misi said. "But I saw you had an old Ball I could use."

Goddard frowned. "You wanna go after pirates with a hull maintenance mech?"

Misi grinned nastily. "At this point, I'm willing to hurl myself at them armed with a sharp stick and I'm pissed enough to succeed. Your Ball will be adequate."

Hours later -- as Kota paced, muttering darkly to himself -- they had arrived at the drones' last known coordinates, and Misi let out a whoop.

"We caught the bastards! We're not too late!" she cheered, hurling herself down to the bay. The two men made no move to stop her, watching through cameras as she suited up and boarded the spheroid mech. It rolled through the open bay doors and drifted in the void of space, then one of its omnidirectional boosters hurled it toward the pirate drones wrapped about the remnants of the freighter.

"Would you look at that," Goddard breathed, watching the action through the ship's cameras. Kota stared.

The Ball extended arc-tipped manipulators, neatly slicing away encroaching pirate tendrils and arcing across the drones' control modules. Misi used the pirates' own speed against them -- robbed of their tentacles, deafened and blind, they collided with one another in a chain-reaction of explosions, gobbets of burning shrapnel speeding in every direction. But the Ball was impervious -- what it lacked in speed it made up for in shielding, and Misi was content to let the drones destroy one another until all that was left was to burn away the few latched tick-like to the derelict freighter.

Hours later, the two ships docked, and once life support systems were restored to the damaged freighter, Misi led Kota through the ruined corridor to the cargo bay. Goddard, still aboard their ship, observed via a hovering camera.

"Here you go," Misi said brightly, gesturing grandly at the crates and burlap sacks within. "A quarter of these are allllllll yours! Thanks for the lift, citizen!"

"Potatoes," Kota stammered, face fishbelly-pale, jaw dropped. "Tons and tons and tons of... of... potatoes."

Goddard's face projected from the camera, and he examined the weighty spuds carefully, then burst into deep belly-laughs.

"Look on the bright side, Kota!" Tears streamed down his face as he fought to control himself. "At least they're not small potatoes!"

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

The turtle moves.


Fun Shoe

Gah, forgot to edit the wordcount of my entry. It's 1312 words -- 1000 for the base, 300 extra from Sitting Here, and 25 from Sebmojo.

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sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Tuesday flash: “lackadaisical,” +50
When Life Gives You Potatoes
1,017 words

At first I thought they were warts, and let me tell you, it sucked then, too. But then the warts kept growing, and one day when I was in the check-out line at Wal-Mart, one of them tore loose from my backside and landed with a solid thud on the floor.

“You’re going to have to pay for that,” the cashier said, and when I looked down I saw the unripe potato just lying there. I tried to protest, but just try explaining the spontaneous generation of potatoes to an exhausted superstore clerk and see how far that gets you.

At first it was just one or two potatoes a day. But before long I was filling small bowls, then big bowls, then milk crates, and finally whole bushels. Potato after potato pouring forth into a world that, frankly, already has too many potatoes for its own good. And I’ve lost my appetite for them, too, which I suppose is a fringe benefit, since I’d really don’t need the carbs. But the worst part was the shame of going out in public, praying that the taters would hold on until I’d found a bathroom or broom closet, but inevitably I’d end up blushing mightily as a stray spud shook itself loose and plunked on the ground behind me.

I became sort of a shut-in. My boss was too happy to enable me. I’d shed half a dozen Yukon Golds at a client meeting, and – surprise – we didn’t keep those clients. She said it’d probably be better if I took care of my health issues and worked from home, and that’s what I’d been doing, writing my reports, only going outside to get my mail. After a few weeks, though, my garage was piled high with potato-stuffed milk crates, and I was getting stir crazy. I couldn’t let the potatoes just go to waste, so I found a farmer’s market, and that Sunday I loaded up my minivan with all the potatoes it could carry.

I got to the market early on a cool, overcast morning. Soon after I’d settled, another merchant settled in right next to my booth, laying out a lavish display of sweet potatoes. I was grumbling to myself that they’d put me so close to my competition – everyone knows sweet potatoes are much more hip than regular old potatoes – when the sun came out, and my neighbor took off her coat and pulled her arms back in a lackadaisical stretch. I gasped. From her elbows, shoulders, armpits and knees grew manicured sprouts, and I felt the warm blush of kinship.

We locked eyes, but at that moment a particularly plump potato loosed itself from my navel and spilled onto the floor. I blushed and looked away, but she didn’t laugh.

“It’s a pain, isn’t it?” she said.

“Tell me about it. I used to love hash browns. Now they make me sick.”

“Yeah, I liked sweet potato fries, too. Not anymore. I’m Emma,” she said, shaking my hand.

“Dale,” I said, but a spasm crossed her face and she’d stopped listening. Instead, she grasped the sprout on her elbow and yanked a sweet potato out. Her skin closed up behind it, leaving the tiniest green bud in the sprout’s place.

“Doesn’t that hurt?” That was one thing, at least: my potato problem was totally painless. A little itchy, because sometimes I got ants, but it was never painful.

“Oh, yeah. Like pulling teeth. That’s why I said it was ‘a pain.’ What did you think I meant?”

“It’s just really awkward, right? I feel incontinent. It creeps people out.”

“Really? I think it’s kind of a cool party trick. You just have to own it. Find a way to make it work for you.”

I frowned, feeling more alone that ever. Emma's affliction was obviously the better deal. What’s a pockmarked schlub hemorrhaging potatoes to a beautiful woman blossoming with sweet potato shoots? I’d take a little pain if it meant I didn’t have to feel so gross all the time.

“Excuse me?” a bespectacled old lady said. I plastered a smile on my face.

“Hey there,” I said, “what can I get for you?”

“I was just curious if these potatoes were ethically sourced,” she said. “Are they organic?”

“Oh, yeah. No pesticides. All natural. Supernatural, even.”

She took a couple of baskets of fingerling potatoes, and I was just about to take her money when a mammoth russet potato dropped from my armpit, plopping on the dirt beneath me.

“Are you selling potatoes,” she asked, “that you’ve… excreted?”

I blushed. “They’re perfectly safe to eat. Besides, you’re going to wash and peel them anyway, right? What’s the difference?”

“You don’t understand why people might have an issue eating food that came from your armpit?”

“I, um…” I turned and looked at Emma, and to my surprise she’d assembled quite a crowd around her. In fact, she’d borrowed one of my milk crates, standing on top of it so she’d be seen. With a magician’s flair, she gestured to the sprout on her knee.

“This fresh sweet potato starts at two dollars,” she said. “Anyone for two dollars?”

“Two dollars!”

“I’ve got this gentleman for two dollars. Who’s in for three dollars?”

“Three dollars!”

“Five dollars!”

“Ten!”

“Twenty!” called the elderly woman at my stand.

I looked at her in exasperation. “What makes that any different from what I’m doing?” I asked her.

The lady frowned and harrumphed. “Well, she doesn’t seem so… so seedy about it, I suppose. And also it has a lower glycemic index.”

I blinked, and then the idea hit me. Of course. How had I not thought of that before? “Ma’am,” I said, “you’ve given me a wonderful idea.”

---

It’s one-of-a-kind. It’s unusual. It’s not for the sophisticated, sipping in lounges. It’s not for frat boys, mixing it with Arnold Palmer in a college dorm room. But for the weirdos, the outcasts, the slightly Satanic, it’s just the thing. Smooth, refreshing, and yeah – maybe a little seedy.

It’s Ad Carno vodka. Drink responsibly.

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