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Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Wait, were there really only five of them?

Poofarts.

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spectres of autism
Feb 12, 2011

~it's like people say we're all gonna die
but me it's different i'm not trying to be alive~




idk but tyrannosaurus gets an extension

prolly anyone else does if they pm me a good reason i did want to read things

gl goons

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.


Mischief in the deep Creeps (1262 words)

Verhov, clad in work pants and a synthleather jacket on account of the chill, had stopped paying attention to his homework feed a long time ago. He was attaching the last wires of his brand new boost coupler to his rather old hoverbike when he heard the whine of another bike peaking to a halt behind him. Hopping off and stumbling as he landed, was his very best friend and investigative partner Pauk. Verhov hadn't seen Pauk this excited since they rigged an AI to shout principal Dunter's poetry all over school, and if Pauk sat on something even more exciting, he just knew they were on the cusp of an even better adventure.

"I found a signal," said Pauk, "Something real strange and real strong."

"A signal?"

Where Verhov had gone for a boost coupler, Pauk had picked up a full signal booster suite, it was a strange choice, Verhov had thought at the time, but obviously Pauk was onto something.

"Short wavelength, hard to pick up with all the habs in the way, but definitely there!"

Pauk activated the holo on his hoverbike, casting a map on the dirty hab wall beside them.

"Now see, we're right here," he said, and pointed to a spot on the map, "And the signal is coming from all the way down there."

Pauk elongated the 'a' in 'all' as he trailed his finger downwards and even further downwards. Verhov felt a chill down his spine, completely unrelated to the temperature.

"Hey Pauk."

"Yeah."

"That right there is the Creeps."

Pauk paused for a minute, then he turned to Verhov and grinned.

"I know."

Verhov's grin wasn't quite as convincing.

-

The steady hum of their hoverbikes sounded stranger and more hollow the deeper they got, as relatively clean habs were exchanged with broken down units and collapsed tunnels. Verhov had tucked a scarf around his neck, Pauk seemed to need neither food nor water, completely committed to the trail.

"We're halfway there, just about," Pauk said over the closenet.

"Thank the Coder, I thought we were going in circles."

"You're gonna wish you were!"

The voice was not Pauk, but it was coming in across their closenet. It was gruff, rough and spoke of some real questionable life choices.

"Now wait just a minute," said Pauk, as they heard the growling buzz of a hover-hog behind them, "Who is this."

"What you kids are pretending to be," said the voice, "A real treasure hunter."

The growl turned into a roar as the hog sped up behind them, Verhov cast a glance behind him, seeing only headlight. Furtive fear was replaced with grim determination, as Verhov knew just what to do.

"Hey Pauk, I think my recent purchase will come in handy as well."

And with that, he spun up his boost coupler and engaged the turbo thrusters, feeling the bike kick underneath him, engine turning from a whine to a scream. A sharp u-turn brought him in line with the blinding headlight, and he sped up, buzzing past the treasure hunter with a mean speed. Pauk, meanwhile, had taken advantage of the distraction and slipped into a side corridor, and soon found a direct route to the signal. With a few deft moves, free from distractions, he disconnected the treasure hunter from their closenet and ensured that Verhov would find his way back to him after his daring distraction.

Verhov was running circles around the treasure hunter, vectoring up and down and in the diagonal as the goon tried to draw a bead, when he was absolutely sure that Pauk had got away, he tilted every booster back and launched down a random corridor, treasure hunter hot on his heels. He could see pings on his dashboards from the goon trying to break into their closenet, but Pauk had done a good job, and besides, Verhov imagined the scoundrel had nothing nice to say. A tilt here, a boost there, a side tunnel, and suddenly, Verhov realized, he was alone.

"Well then," he said to himself, configuring the guidance system for Pauk's signal, "Time to get back to it."

-

He found Pauk in a hallway, bike on idle staring into a darkened hall beyond.

"This is it," he said, as he spotted Verhov's HUD signal, "It's in there somewhere."

"Lights on, I guess," said Verhov.

They moved in, Pauk fidgeting with something, Verhov scanning the room, panning the headlights across the vast span.

"I don't think I-".

And then he saw it, obsidian against the darkness, a strange black shape.

"Oh Coder, said Pauk, leaning back in his seat, "Jackpot."

Against a wall, a hulk and a shadow of what it once were, was a black spaceship from the Great War. A solitary diode blinked on and off, nestled in some fold of the design. Maybe some automated process that had reached its assigned time, maybe a glitch, in any case the source of the signal.

"Nobody's seen one of these in a century," said Verhov, "Maybe even more!"

"It's... Incredible."

"It's also mine!" said the treasure hunter, speeding full tilt into the room. He'd done away with the closenet and was blasting his voice from a speaker unit on the hog.

"Oh bother," said Pauk, "He had to find us at some point, didn't he."

"I will admit," said Verhov, "I didn't really think of the fact that he was heading this way anyway."

"Well I am the thinker."

"That you are."

They heard a loud mechanical click, and watched in horror as a pair of magblasters extended from either side of the hog.

"If I off ya down here," screamed the speaker, "Is the perfect scene for a murder. Perfect! Once I kill the signal, there won't be a living soul here for another century."

Pauk toggled the closenet access, and allowed the treasure hunter access.

"Well the thing is," he said, "While you were busy chasing after my friend, and making threats right now, I've been merging the blackship signal, our own, and piggybacking that on your private closenet, seeing as you gave me ample access back when we, well, first met."

The sound of the magblasters warming up had Verhov paralyzed in fear, and he was wondering what in the name of the Coder Pauk were thinking.

"Let's just say," said Pauk, "The signal is mighty amplified, and someone's been listening in."

And at last Verhov heard the sound of sirens coming down the hallway, and the chattering of stun rounds filling the room. The treasure hunter had time to yelp before he was entangled in wirenets and zapped by stunners, and the magblasters went of harmlessly, blasting a section of wall to dust on the far side of the hall.

Pauk almost fell of the bike in relief, Verhov put his feet on the dashboard and whistled.

-

The treasure hunter was far less intimidating in person. A shot, balding man with an unkempt beard, he screamed and sputtered as the ultracops dragged him from the landed hog. Pauk and Verhov enjoyed a cold energy floater, explaining the whole adventure to a stunned ultracop sergeant.

"Hey kids," screamed the treasure hunter, struggling against the cops, "You won, fair and square. You better make use of this, you're gonna get rich."

"Oh no," said Verhov, you've got it all wrong. We don't work for ourselves."

And with a kick to his dashboard, the hoverbike holo stuttered to life, projecting a rotating badge in the air.

"You, my good man, are dealing with Pauk Dunder and Verhov Jones, Kid Curators."

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

Two Brothers and a Tiger Named Buddha
1800 words

--see archive--

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at Jan 2, 2017 around 15:14

spectres of autism
Feb 12, 2011

~it's like people say we're all gonna die
but me it's different i'm not trying to be alive~




black griffon is in too

if all the stories are good ill make it rain hms

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

spectres of autism posted:


if all the stories are good

LOL

spectres of autism
Feb 12, 2011

~it's like people say we're all gonna die
but me it's different i'm not trying to be alive~




going 2 sleep gn td

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003


Black Griffon posted:


Need-to-know


I enjoyed this a lot. I am sorry I could not present it with fitting competition.

You have surfed back into the dome, using my corpse as a board.

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.


We'll meet again, on another battlefield, and when that time comes, we'll have a real fight.

sebmojo posted:

This was a vicious slab of words that screamed up, swung the back wheels around and dropped off the Point before haring off into the distance roadrunner style. Hitting the wordcount exactly was gravy. You could have smashed Newt just by writing POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP on the screen because he didn't bother to show, but he'd have had a put in a story that was well above his average to beat this.

Black Griffon Wins

thanks for the crit.

spectres of autism
Feb 12, 2011

~it's like people say we're all gonna die
but me it's different i'm not trying to be alive~




judge post

ok ill do this quick cuz phones almost dead. not a bad week gj goons i enjoyed yr words penetrating my oculars

no dms most stories were ok. the loser is flerp w dreams high up above. this was super short, barely a story and not rly on prompt. sry dude.

candybrain by hammer bros gets a hm. not perfectly written but a neat subversive idea that held my interest

the winner is two brothers and a tiger named buddha by tyrannosaurus. good chars and arcs and prose that was better than the other stuff this week

the king of the jurassic is now the king of td. please use yr tiny arms to type a prompt now

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



Shivs and shanks out y’all lets get poo poo bloody as gently caress this is a hate week. Sign ups are gonna consist of calling another domer out. Rip ‘em for what they do too much-- quirks, styles, themes, characters, whatever-- and then do it loving better. Imitation isn’t flattery here. It’s a goddamn bloodsport.

1400 words.
Closing times are midnight EST.
Theme: “Never again”

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


sitting here i am so absolutely sick of your candy rear end, namby pamby, floaty clouds-and-cuckoos dreamy fantasy-land bullshit. write me something that actually makes me feel things, rather than just making me faintly nostalgic for the things i used to doodle on the covers of my notebooks in grade 7. please.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

I'm calling djinn out. I am so absolutely sick of your namby pamby misunderstood I'm-too-smart-for-the-dome bullshit. David Foster Wallace is dead dumbass, and guess what, he didn't reincarnate into your lovely fiction.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007


I'm calling out chi(l)(l)li.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


alright spectres youre poo poo always makes 0 loving sense with a nice little splattering of random weeaboo crap. every one of your story feels like an in joke that we're not a part of but it's a perfect representation for the joke you call your writing.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

CarlKillerMiller, your dysgraphic dumpster fire of pronoun confusing diatribulous babble is an abomination to the dome. Watch and marvel as I, a man with just four total submissions, only one of which avoided DM'ing/Losing, shows you how it's done with a fresh idea that's easy to follow and hits like a sack of bricks.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Chairchucker your cutesy low affect poo poo is a rusted bike you've pedalled for years until people are all ohhhh look he can pedal isn't he clever even though his bike is retarded

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Hey Ironic Twist l'm pretty tired of slogging through your comically bleak, torture porn filled, pointlessly framed stories. You're like an unpublished pulp writer from the 40s who thinks he's a great modernist and none of his friends will call him on it because he's just come back from the war and aww, doesn't the poor guy deserve a break?

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Yams Fan

Entry for Muffin's Megabrawl

Do You Know What Happens Next? 1446 words

They put me into the body of a hummingbird and gave me one million heartbeats to live. I see myself reflected in my love’s glasses, a grey sorrowful creature, and my tiny body shudders in horror and I look away and don’t get to the best part, don’t get to her eyes. But I remember them. They are the deep blue of the first moment of twilight. They would be the colour of wind, if wind had colour.

I perch atop the excavator’s dipper arm, and watch Laura in the cabin as she fumbles with the controls, yelps when the engine rumbles to life. Her high-vis vest is too large and her hardhat sits askew. A young construction worker, square-jawed and handsome, stands beside her wearing a half-smile. I want to swoop down and pluck the bastard’s eyes out, but instead I draw air into my pin-size lungs and then let it go, sing as loud as I can. Look up, Laura! See me! Hear how I sing! But the engine’s rumble drowns out my sad song and Laura does not look.

All I want in the world is for her to see me and recognise who I am.

A million heartbeats, for a hummingbird, is but a couple of hours. That’s enough time to see the park torn apart, to see the elms ripped from the soil, the lake drained, the clubhouse crushed to rubble. Her excavator jerks into motion, and I fly alongside while she scars the grass with dirty tire-marks. Laura rolls beneath a row of trees, under which we used to walk on the way back from the liquor store. Laura trundles past the bench on which I first told her that I loved her. The handsome young man walks after her, giving her a thumbs-up when she looks his way. I am a poo poo at his head, but it goes wide.

I wonder what Laura is thinking. Is she remembering our kisses by the park lake, our hands in each other’s pockets? Are those memories locked away in a chest too painful to open, or does some sliver of hope within her still live?

I fly to an eucalyptus tree and a black crow perches beside me, regards me with dull red eyes.

“Do you know what happens next?” he says.

I cannot reply. I do not know bird speech, so instead I let out a string of shrill tweets. Beneath us. Laura’s excavator rolls towards a freshly-painted rotunda. The young construction worker takes off his helmet and fixes his well-cut hair.

#

I have a quarter of a million heartbeats left.

I do not understand why they put me into the body of a bird and ordered Laura to be a demolition worker. Was it personalised sadistic cruelty, or practical and pragmatic punishment? There are more construction workers scattered around the park. There are old men, middle-aged women, children no older than sixteen, all in work-clothes and vests, destroying and dismantling everything around them. They used to be something, before. Doctors, bus drivers, students, mothers, friends. Now they wield axes and they tear grass from the earth in unison. We did not notice the world going mad at first, though the signs were there. The world was a kindly grandfather who suffered a stroke and awoke a drooling idiot, and still we sang soothing words while he spewed profanity and pissed his pants.

We descended into insanity gradually, almost purposefully. Incomprehensible nonsense in the newspapers, an illegible cacophony on the television. Armed police filled street corners and unhappy conversations hovered around dinner tables. An ice cream company bought the transport network and replaced all trams with ice-cream trucks. Education was outsourced to an off-shore company and schools turned into offices, children. They converted the airport into a mall, the only shops selling bathroom fittings and toilet seats. The community radio station was mandated by law to play Chopin’s funeral march on loop.

At first we chalked it down to the strangeness of the twenty-first millennium. But then letters arrived, telling everyone to pack one change of clean clothes and head for the nearest school or sports stadium or gymnasium. I knew what this meant, but Laura insisted there was a misunderstanding. They - that nameless, italicised They - were only monsters to other people. Never to us.

Laura’s trying to lift the excavator’s dipper arm beside the rotunda, now. The machine is a drunk trying to fit house-keys into a lock. Her face contorts in frustration, and I flit onto the edge of the excavator’s cabin and sing, again: Laura! Laura! But she pays me no heed. How long has passed since we left our apartment at dusk, duffle bags on shoulders, our hearts pounding vivacissimo? She’d squeeze my hand each time it trembled. She whistled You Are My Sunshine to calm me.

Don’t be afraid, she said — we’ll be together. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you.

The handsome young man leaps into the cab alongside her, lays his hand on top of hers on a big black lever. The cabin swings around, and the excavator’s arm smashed into the rotunda top. I take flight, and the freshly-pained white roof crashes to the ground.

I land on a gnarled elm and the black crow draws up beside me once more.

“Do you know what happens next?” he says.

#

There are only ten thousand heartbeats left and Laura still has not seen me.

The destruction of the park nears conclusion. A kid hacks at a sapling with a hatchet. One pretty girls helps another climb atop a hydraulic breaker. A crew of old ladies hoist wrecking ball beside the toilet block.

The black crow is alongside me again, and I wish I could ask him — why don’t the people stop? There are no guards or police. Everybody could drop everything and go home.

But I cannot talk, and the crow can, and he does. “Do you know what happens next?”

Laura and the young man sit side-by-side on a workbench. My love is pale, hunched over a steel cup of coffee. Steam rises and fogs up her glasses. The rotunda is in ruins and the excavator stands atop the rubble, its arm raised like a flag atop a conquered fortress.

I sing again, sing as loud as I can but the young man is talking and she’s looking at him intently. They sit far too close together.

Oh, I know what happens next! So I swoop down and aim at his head, but he turns and I strike his hard-hat and glance off. Laura yelps and her mug falls onto the grass, coffee spilling over her boots. The man says something. They both laugh nervously.

I have a thousand heartbeats left. Less than a minute.

“I know what happens next,” the black crow says.

I know what happens, too, crow.

I charge at it and drive my beak into its eye.I thrash my wings, filled of rage and injustice, ad my heart races and my heartbeats count down and there is a sick pleasure as the bird cries in pain. But a hummingbird is tiny, and my adversary dwarfs me. He strikes back, his beak slamming into me like an excavator’s dipper, and there’s a hot pain in my side and black fathers in my face, and I try to scream but a bird can not. I turn to flee, but my left wing won’t obey. My world is a storm of feathers and agony. I plunge to the ground.

And I land at Laura’s feet, in coffee-covered grass. I have only a handful of heartbeats left. At least I will die beside her.

“The poor thing, look!” she says. Her voice sounds distant, as if underwater.

“Don’t touch it,” comes the man’s voice, but she’s already kneeling down beside me, concern on her face, and I see my own reflection in her glasses again, and behind it, her irides are still the clearest blue. Ten heartbeats left. Tears well in her eyelids.

My heart skips a beat, stops. Ten heartbeats left.

Laura’s bottom lip trembles and my heart contracts. Beats once. Pauses.

Nine heartbeats left.

Laura is weeping now, and I draw my last ever breath (eight) and sing the song she whistled on our last day together, when we walked out of our apartment and lost our world forever, I sing You Are My Sunshine for you Laura (seven six five) and my love’s tears fall like soft rain upon me (four three two) and she whispers my name (one)

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Tyrannosaurus posted:

Sign ups are gonna consist of calling another domer out. Rip ‘em for what they do too much-- quirks, styles, themes, characters, whatever-
I thought that's what TD has been all along? Kind of the whole fun of it.

Isn't there a place to submit our garbage in the event that we didn't finish on time? I want to finish/post my story from last week, just because.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

magnificent7 posted:

I thought that's what TD has been all along? Kind of the whole fun of it.

Isn't there a place to submit our garbage in the event that we didn't finish on time? I want to finish/post my story from last week, just because.

here. just call it a redemption and you'll get your failure taken away.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

Megabrawl round two (vs sparksbloom)

Blue Fork, Texas

They're the one
1079 Words

Silas Cameron rode the dusty circuit between Houston and San Francisco in a two-horse wagon. The side of the wagon, in big white letters against a red background, advertised his name and profession: 'Dealer in Intangibles'.

Silas was a tall gaunt man. His dog, Issac, was small and round and black and stayed inside the wagon, growling at anyone who dared try to peek within as Silas pulled in to Blue Fork, population 64.

Silas had a special deal for the people of Blue Fork. He had a stack of cards with him, each one hand-written, and on each card, he explained, after working a few wonders and miracles to establish his bonafides, was written the name of one person it the town's one true soul's mate.

“Now,” he explained, “A few of these cards are blank. Now you might think that a blank card might mean that one is a truly unlovable man or woman, but I tell you that is not the case. There may be a few, a few so foully stained that there does not exist anyone who might make for them a happy partner in crime, but no such person lives in Blue Fork. No, what a blank card means is there there is a person supremely well-suited, a perfect mate, but that that person will never be with them, not no matter what they do. It's a sad thing, it is, but I have to say that most of humanity lives a perfectly fulfilling life without ever meeting their one true soul's mate. There's no shame in a solitary life, or in settling for less, or even in joining the priesthood.”

The townsfolk were interested. Better to know, they figured, even if they were a blank card. And the price was cheap. All Silas asked for was one true confession, never to be told again. Silas heard the petty and great sins of everyone in the town, and handed out the cards. He did not hear the things he had hoped to hear.

Silas left just after handing out the cards. He didn't need to see what happened for himself.

* * *

Most of the single people in the town were confused when they read the names. Names they had never heard. The more well-traveled among them recognized a few, and one by one they left to meet these strangers. They did not return.

Frank Larkin and Richard Wells found they had each other's names on their cards. This was not a time when such things were looked kindly on, so they denied and denied, so hard that they found themselves dueling in the streets. It hardly matters who shot the other and who wound up shooting themselves. They were not the only duelists in town those days. There were men whose cards were blank but whose wives' were not.

Dex and Susie Blanchard and Martha and Owen Rexall discovered that each of them had married the wrong person. It was not a huge surprise to any of the four. Both affairs were ongoing and not entirely secret. There was a long and difficult discussion, mostly concerning the disposition of the infant children whose paternity was impossible to clearly discern. Of course, there was only one possible answer to the question. They sorted themselves into their one true pairings and left town, Dex and Martha heading East and Owen and Susie West, traveling far enough to escape their pasts.

Some of the names on the cards were the names of the dead. To the old, widows and widowers in fact even if not in law, this was a comfort that helped to ease their final years. For the young it was anything but. Three such committed suicide by hanging, drowning, and the bottle. One joined the army and fought in the Great Plains and Mexico, but the wars refused to kill him and he retired an old soldier in Michigan. Two more left, seeking solace in money if love was to be denied them. They both turned to outlawry to seek their fortune and eventually met again staring down the barrels of their guns. One died that day and the other hung in two weeks.

Some new couples' stories ended well enough, two people who had overlooked each other for years coming to see how perfect they were for each other. They left town quickly after. The jealous gazes from the blank-cards and those still waiting to find the face that goes with a name were too much to bear.

And so the town became a village, and then a small farm, and finally a tiny homestead, run by a family of three. The mother and the father died of age and the century they were living in, and the daughter ran the farm alone for a time. Then one day a railroad scout came through. He had hoped to place a stop, perhaps, but there was not enough left to support one. But the farmer caught his eye, and he asked her to come away with him. She agreed, without even asking for his name. She had known it since she could read, after all.

* * *

Silas Cameron was the first white man in the Americas. This was before 'white' was even a concept.. But he was Roman, and that was already basically the same thing. Long ago he sold his mortality to a despairing goddess of Olympus and had been traveling ever since.

Before Blue Fork was Brollice, the last village of a slowly dying tribe. It was one of Silas' favorite stops on his circuit, until one time he arrived too late, after a massacre by the men who would soon build and settle a town. The oldest, wisest man still clung to life when Silas arrived.

“My friend,” he said, “How shall I avenge you? What shall I do to the ones who did this?”

“No,” said the man in the last words ever spoken in that language. “Give them only love.”

* * *

It wasn't for many circuits around the American Southwest that his path once again led to Blue Fork, home now only to the dust and to the dead. Silas knew his old friend would not have approved of his actions. But he had follow his wish, to letter though not to spirit, and for him, that was enough. He gave a slight approving smile as he surveyed the abandoned shops and houses. Isaac ventured from the wagon to relieve himself before they both resumed their journey.

spectres of autism
Feb 12, 2011

~it's like people say we're all gonna die
but me it's different i'm not trying to be alive~




im calling out flerp because yr actually p good prose goes to waste on stories about dogs and other breezy calorie lite stuff that hit w the impact of someone slowly whooshing air in front of yr face

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



Tyrannosaurus thinks that because he can whisk through dialogue and rush out some Emotional Teen Issues a half-hour before the deadline it means he doesn't have to actually try.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Megabrawl round 2
vs. Thranguy
They're the one


Casting and Molding

The producers were telling Katie that she was going to give Jamie the part, but that wasn’t going to happen. His whole beefcake, barrel-chested thing was fine for modeling underwear, but not nearly sleek and suave enough to lead her movie, which she’d already decided was going to be the best romantic comedy of the decade. Her movie was going to make people feel things in their heart, not their thighs.

“That’s enough,” Katie said, when he’d finally finished reading his lines. God, he talked slower than a stroke victim on Ambien.

“Thanks for coming in. We’ll get back to you.”

Jamie opened and closed his mouth. “Excuse me?”

“You can go.”

“Nicola Preston promised me I had this.“

“I really can’t comment on that. Thanks for your time.”

Jamie’s face spasmed, as if he were about to unleash a torrent of emotion, but it passed. He nodded curtly at Katie before turning and departing in a huffy trot. Goodness, Katie thought – the entitlement! If you gave a man muscles and symmetry, he came to believe he didn’t need anything else.

She knew there’d be hell to pay. There always was when she stood up for herself.

---

Katie was surprised; it took Nicola at least an hour to call. She’d wrapped up the auditions by then, and when she finally called, Katie was at the store, shopping for sheets.

“Hi, Katie. I just got a call from our mutual friend. He seems to think you’ve disrespected him. I’m really hoping you can reassure me he’s just got post-audition jitters.”

“I respected him just as much as I respect any other actor.”

“Oh, Christ. I thought we had an understanding.”

“He’s not the one, Nicola. No passion. Just generic white boy smolder. You need to see him read these lines. He’s flat. He’s bored. He is a black hole of charisma.”

Nicola sighed, a big harrumph. “You’ve been very reliable, Katie. Everyone speaks very fondly of your work. Your loyalty. We thought you’d be able to play ball with the chain of command. Pound-for-pound, Jamie Dorr is the most marketable commodity around. Please please please call him today and let him know he has the part.”

“This is seriously non-negotiable for you? You’re totally beholden to a wooden actor because he’s on the cover of a few magazines and you think, what, the hordes of horny middle-aged women will be falling over themselves to see the movie just for him?”

“You’re a director, Katie. Direct. Or we’ll find someone else who will.”

---

She gave Jamie the call that evening. He didn’t even have the grace to act surprised, and though he professed gratitude, the lugubrious “thank you very much” only enraged Katie even more. Sure, she was working for the studio, making their movie with their script, but she’d expected some trust, some control. But Nicola and the others seemed intent in wrenching it all away from her.

She could stage a coup. She still had the numbers for the other, more promising actors she’d wanted to consider. The ones with a proven track record on film, not underwear ads. It’d put her directorship at risk, sure, bu directing a movie loaded with dead weight would put her career at risk.

gently caress it, she thought. She pulled up the list of the other candidates. Then she started making calls.

---

She’d audition one or two people a day in the early morning hours before shooting started. Every single actor was better than Jamie Dorr – better at talking, better physicality, just more of that essential pow factor. But she didn’t just want “better.” Nicola already knew there was “better,” and she could say no to that, but she couldn’t say no to the one, the essential, irreplaceable, Platonic Ideal of a rom-com hero that’d touch the weepy heart of America.

Katie just hoped she’d find him soon. Jamie had just mumbled his way through an excruciating table read. She wasn’t the only one annoyed with him. The co-stars, especially the female lead, grew more and more pallid after every line Jamie read. And once the read came to its putteriong close, the atmosphere wasn’t the buzzing anticipation she’d seen in her past productions, but more of the teeth-gritted, we’ve-just-gotta-get-through-this attitude she’d seen when she worked retail.

Nicola nudged her as they were filing out. “Good luck,” she said. “And I’m sorry.”

---

The first few days of shooting were interminable, take after take of unusable material.

At first she tried patience, kindness. “A little bit more energy,” she’d say. “C’mon, I know you’ve got it in you.” But he’d lumber past these directions, and give an identical lazy, empty take. He sapped the energy from the co-stars, and they too grew flat and dull.

Thirty-some sleepy takes into one scene, Katie’s veneer of tolerance finally snapped. “Passion, goddammit,” she said, striding up to him, seizing his shoulders and pivoting him toward the co-star, “you love this woman. You love her. You love her so much it keeps you up at night and it makes you grind your teeth into powder. Show me that you feel something.”

“I’m trying, okay? Really, I--”

“Unless you’re incapable of feeling anything, and Jesus, I wouldn’t put that past you, you’re not trying hard enough. Give me a line. Any line. With urgency and feeling. Please do some acting.”

He turned his head to Katie in elephantine confusion, but again Katie twisted his shoulders back to his co-star. Jamie cleared his throat. “You’re a really special person and I don’t want to lose you because of some misunderstanding,” he said.

“This is the person you’re dedicating your life to. The person who means absolutely everything to you. Your one and only, who’s made just for you. Again.”

A smidgeon of anxiety crossed Jamie’s face, and he repeated the line, faster this time. It sounded a touch more human. Just a touch.

“I guess that was better. Like you’ve promoted her from your least favorite sister to your second favorite. But this is your lover. Again.”

He repeated it again, and despite herself, she was starting to believe it. At the end of the day, they’d gotten some usable footage, especially when you accounted for the swelling score that’d take the edge off of the rougher parts. Katie was gathering her things, sending some emails on her phone to other candidates, when Jamie came over and tapped her shoulder.

“Yeah?” she said, not looking up.

“I just wanted to say, um, thanks for working with me.” He scratched his ear. “I know you didn’t really want me. But I really appreciate your advice. Tough love and all that.”

Katie met his glance and tried not to let any of her guilt show on her face. “You’re welcome,” she said. “See you tomorrow.”

---

And then she found him – the curly-haired, charming, swift-tongued modern Cary Grant type that she’d wanted all along. He even had some modeling history if that’s what the producers really wanted, but when he read the monologue, Katie nearly got chills. Not that the script really offered any material for chills – but at least the suggestion of chills.

Katie emailed the audition tape to Nicola once they’d finished. “OPEN IMMEDIATELY,” she’d written in the subject line.

By the time she got to the set, she hadn’t gotten a response, and Katie figured Nicola had made a diplomatic decision to ignore her impertinence. But twenty minutes into shooting, Nicola walked onto the set and pulled Jamie aside.

Katie held her breath, hardly daring to hope. But a few minutes later, Jamie, his face red and eyes puffy, stormed through the set. He flipped the bird at Katie as he walked by. She couldn’t help but feel glee, even if it was muddied by guilt.

“Not much of a gentleman,” Nicola said, resting a hand on Katie’s shoulder.

“You’re going with my guy?” Katie said.

“Nope,” Nicola said, “I just told Jamie you’re plotting to replace him.”

Katie closed her eyes. “What? Why?”

“Well, I know you were having trouble getting a passionate performance from him, so I thought we’d provoke him.”

“You didn’t think the guy in the audition tape was any better than Jamie? You were at the table read. You’ve seen the dailies. You know he’s a problem.”

“Oh, no, your guy’s a better actor. Cute, too. But we don’t just get to drop everything because you’ve found something better. That’s not how this works. Christ, Katie, he’s under contract. Dropping him for an unknown isn’t just going to cost us an audience, it’s going to cost the studio millions in legal fees.”

The reality of the cage sunk in, and Katie’s heart fell as her gaze fell on a dejected Jamie, eating a bagel.

“Cheer up,” Nicola said to Katie, gesturing to Jamie. “Look at all those hidden depths.”

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


OH GOD OKAY I HAVE BEEN LAZY

BELATED MEGABRAWL ROUND 1 CRITS


Newtestleper

A very tight, elegant piece. I'm a sucker for the beautiful end of the world, and this pulls it off with a lot of style. It's a really nice mix of impressionist-y broad strokes and more grounded descriptions that work together to reinforce each other. I also really like how intentionally-chosen a lot of the language feels: stuff like "carbon triplicate" reinforces both the themes and the physicality of the thing really well.

Sebmojo

More lists! Who woulda guessed that would be the slightly-overused trope this week. I did recommend Calvino, I guess. I liked this though - it does a lot with very little in terms of words. It's amazing how much material there is between the lines, and how so much of the story is unsaid-yet-clear. The more clinical format with your prose renders the whole thing kinda dreamlike, while remaining very intense.

Oxxi

I think this is a little performative and overwritten; it's trying so drat hard to be pretty that it comes off a little empty. The language is beautiful, but there's so very much of it in the service of very little content - check out Mojo's piece for the polar opposite. Dial back the baroque-ness a bit and you'll really be onto something though.

Entenzahn

This brawl was very light on comedy, and this piece was a nice change of pace. Like the best comedy, it has elements of sincere emotion as a counterpoint, with both things playing off each other. I'm not 100% sure what to make of the piece as a whole --I don't really get what you're trying to say with it-- but it scratches an itch and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Morningbell

This is what Carl Killer Miller's piece could've been with a little more attention to detail. It's both punchy and delicate, and the softness serves to accentuate the hardness - it reminded me of Vonnegut in that way: this quite gentle descriptions of conflict that hit harder than any GRIMDARK BLOODFEST ever could. That was a recurring element in the successful entries this week: they had two very different forces working in the piece, and the tension between them made the thing really pop.

Also you were in super early we will never meet in RL but if we do I owe you a beer or a slice of pie or something.

Curlingiron


This reminded me of Invisible Cities, or The City & the City - it's a deeper exploration of what a city is as an organism. I've always been a sucker for that, because it's true and it's not something we see written about enough. There's some tense errors that probably need looking at, but it's a lively piece that hums with energy and I really enjoyed it.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

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


megabrawl v curlingiron, love is blind

The Green Fairy and the Blind Eyes
1993 words

What little of the woman’s face had remained was covered in bandages, and what wasn’t covered in bandages was a volcanic wasteland of scars and burn wounds. She had no nose, only one ear, and generally bore no resemblance to Catlana. At first, Diego wanted to ask if there had been some kind of mistake, if this had been a prank, a cruel joke; but he didn’t. Because underneath the wounds, there was his wife, sad eyes reaching out for him as if carefully probing for any comfort he could give.

“She was very lucky,” the doctor said.

“Diego.” Cat’s voice was hoarse, raspy, like the insides of her throat had been replaced with sandpaper. He noticed he was still standing in the entrance, and she must have noticed too. He closed the distance almost a bit too quick, not sure if he should take her hands or if the contact would hurt her. They looked at each other, or more she looked at him while he looked somewhere, not finding the words.

“Is it bad?” she said. A hopeless question, shot out as some kind of last resort, a question she already knew the answer to. He stroked her cheek, but only barely, a formality of a touch like breath on her bandages, and she didn’t cry, but then the fire may have damaged that part of her face as well. Maybe she’d never cry again.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ve done something stupid.”

“Cat. It’s not your fault”

“I ran back inside.”

They’d told him about the fire, but not much else. He stopped what he was doing, put both hands on the bed’s railing. “Why?”

“I tried to get the pictures.”

The photo books. There had been at least a dozen in their house, filled to the brim with Cat’s portraits, shot by Diego, all over the world. A lot of work had gone into these. Sure, he knew that. And yes, Cat had always liked them, perhaps a bit too much.

“I’m hideous,” she said. “Aren’t I?”

“No.”

It was a lie. Here was the thing though: the lie was not intentional. From the first time he’d conceived the word, he’d honestly intended on cheering up his wife. In fact, he was probably more surprised by the dishonesty in his voice than anyone else. But there he was. And say one thing for Cat, she knew her husband, and she knew when he was telling the truth, and when he wasn’t.

Something went out of her eyes, like someone inside had just turned off the lights. She twisted her head, much as she could, and said: “I don’t want you to see me like that.”

“But--”

“I don’t want you to see me like that.” Her voice quivered. Tiny blood spots appeared on the bandages around her hands as she dug her fingers into the linen. And just like that the doctor carefully guided Diego out of the room. Said Cat needed rest. Said she couldn’t get too excited.

Come back tomorrow.

Diego only managed to say, “I love you,” before he was ushered out. But at least he was honest about that.

#

Come back tomorrow hadn’t worked. Not for him, not for her. Neither the days after. He couldn’t change what he saw. He couldn’t change what she wanted him to see. He didn’t bother lying about it, because Cat was still Cat, and she wasn’t stupid. So he usually didn’t say anything much. He didn’t even know what to think anymore.

He wondered if it was right to keep coming. Being awake must have been painful for Cat, and he certainly wasn’t worth her time.

He spent his nights in their half-burnt-out house, going over what was left of their photo books, leaning into his scorched recliner in a living room cluttered with paint containers, rubble and torn-off, blackened wallpaper. Cat hadn’t managed to save the pictures, but some of them had only burned partially. It was nice to remember the way things had been. The smiles.

The house repairs came along, and one day the handymen found an absinthe set in the attic. They mentioned it because it looked old and fancy, a simple glass jar with four faucets coming out of it, resting on an squiggly, interwoven pedestal. They wanted to know what it was.

“A birthday present,” Diego said, and set it on the table next to the recliner.

That evening, as he browsed through the photo books once more, he was accompanied by a constant drip, absinthe flowing through the faucet, onto a sugar cube, through a slotted spoon and into the small chalice below. It was a hollow and meager kind of drip, like dew in a damp underground cave.

All of the pictures were of Cat. Beautiful Cat. She could have been a model. She’d had the face of a fairy and eyes bright like summer. She could have graced billboards in Monaco, dresses in Paris, magazine covers all over New York City, but that wasn’t her. She’d only ever modeled for one person, and that had been Diego. Whenever his job as photographer had brought them somewhere new, they’d had their own little photoshoots.

He wondered if he should bring Cat the books. Or maybe that would just be more salt in the wound. He didn’t know. He felt so stupid these days.

The absinthe drips sounded fuller, richer. The glass was filled to the halfway mark. He closed the faucet and took a swig. It was strong stuff, but also sickly sweet. Herbs. Anise. They say absinthe gives people crazy ideas. Maybe that was just what he needed. He drank it up, set the chalice back in its place and opened the faucet again.

Few pictures had survived the fire, and he must have gone through them a hundred times since then, but he still couldn’t stop himself. Eventually, the memories of that beautiful face, that cheerful woman, would fade, replaced by the bitter, miserable, broken husk that Cat had become. He was to blame for that. Maybe it wasn’t his fault, but he was to blame.

Pictures from Pamplona, Spain, where they’d run with the bulls. On the photo, Cat posed in the traditional white runner’s uniform, red handkerchief around her neck. A pose that screamed ‘Ready to run’. Pictures from Suffolk, England, where Diego had worked on a private project of his. A park in the background, Tulips and poppies and birches to the sides. Somewhere she’d gotten a bowler hat. She laughed.

He drank more absinthe. The alcohol didn’t sting as much this time.

Suffolk. He’d been working on a piece about a woman there. The woman had used drain cleaner to etch her eyes out. Not for any particular reason. Just wanted to be blind. Crazy, but she’d gotten her wish. From him, she’d even gotten her own portrait series. Diego had called it “Blind Eyes.” Kind of a hammy name.

Still. Makes you think.

He emptied the chalice again.

Before blinding herself, the woman in Suffolk had taught herself to read braille, and practiced walking with thick, opaque shades. That kind of careful preparation had something admirable about it. But how much time was there…

The house was a construction site. There were enough buckets with acidic toxins in them to taint the oceans forever.

He set the chalice to his lips, sniffled, put it back down again. He had three thoughts:

1. Diego could never see Cat for anything else than what she was.

2. She would never be able to accept that.

3. The longer he waited, the more it all faded from him.

He put the chalice back up to his lips and drank. The woman back in Suffolk, she had used drain cleaner. He didn’t have that. There wasn’t much use for cleaning the drains, not in this house, not anymore.

But he had paint cleaner.

There were four warning labels on the back: Corrosive, Oxidising, Harmful, Flammable. He screwed open the lid. The clear substance smelt like a chemical punch in the face, like an oil refinery had accidentally drunk multiple gallons of nail polish and puked it out all over you. He went back to the faucet, had another glass of absinthe. This was a bad idea. But what else was there? He could see the future: nothing would change. He’d continue to be repulsed, much as he loved Cat, and she’d continue to despise him for it, and herself, and everyone around her. It would end in tears. No matter what.

As long as he saw her, it would end in tears.

Before he knew it, the open paint cleaner was held high above his head, by his own hands. He forced himself to open his eyes, turned the container, slowly, hesitating, contents inside sploshing about. This was a bad idea. This was a bad idea. The woman in Suffolk didn’t do it on her own. She wanted to be blind. She had help. She was prepared. This was a bad idea.

He closed his eyes. This was a bad idea. The more he thought about it, the more it seemed like he shouldn’t do it.

Cat…

He opened his eyes back up and turned the container downwards. For a split-second, the contents spilled out towards him.

The burn hit his face.

The burn was in his eyes.

He screamed. The light went out of the world. The cleaner burned his face. His hand shot up to to wipe it off, and then they burned as well. Fire. Fire all over. He stumbled over the canister, landed in the spilt cleaning agent, pushed himself back up, a pain in his eyes like a swarm of angry bees, all over his face, wavering through him like they’d invaded every hole of his body to cause agony within, eat him up from the inside, pain, burn, needles, pain, all the way through him, wavering, he stumbled, fell forward, screaming, burning, face burning, lungs burning, burning, burning, burning. Glass crashed. He fell again, tiny little daggers stabbing into his hands as he caught himself on the carpet, crawling further forward, his screams weakening, interspersed with begging, for help, for oblivion, anything, so long as it stopped, quaking hands moving him forward, forward, into darkness, darkness and pain, please God make the pain stop please make it stop please, he crawled along the wall, half-crying, half-yelling, into another door, smooth wood, and he tore down the handle and crawled, choking and crying and convulsing in pain, his eyes, his goddamn eyes, he went out the door, a journey into nothing, into fresh air, and he broke down on the pavement, and his screams rose up again and he screamed and screamed until his voice gave out.

#

Constant darkness was hard to get used to.

They’d given him a walking cane to go out on his own, but he still preferred to have the doctors take the lead, guide him down the hallway, hands on his shoulders. He’d get used to going on his own. Just not today. Not now.

He recognized Cat’s room before he was fully inside. Her breathing. Faint traces of hazelnut and violet perfume. A constant beep-beep-beep in the background. There was movement – she’d shifted on her bed.

“Diego. What--” From the sound of her voice, she was sitting upright. He tried to speak, but nothing came out. Instead, he let go of his stick and stumbled forwards, towards her, confused, drunk, flailing his arms like a toddler running for his mommy. He found a cold steel railing. Rigid cloth beneath the bars, rustling as he touched it. A hard, cracked hand touched his own.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “I did something stupid.”

There was no answer, just a series of chokes and sobs. He ran his fingers across her face, and she twitched.

The scars and cracks were still there, but the tears had returned.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

hey muffin im posting on behalf of Spectres of Autism for your megabrawl thing or whatever

ghost heart
1368 words

She never creates, only consumes.

At this point the videos play themselves. The internet knows her too well. Frames burn into her retinas as her heart beats irregular, like it’s trying to edit them.

Benign Arrythmia v-loggers. Beaters.

She lets them play. Addicted to other perspectives on the so intensely personal. The broken clock that mistimes her blood.

Right now the girl on screen has short hair she’s dyed snow white, set against caramel eyes. Alexis listens as the girl tells her things she already knows.

“-still sucks when it skips beats. One time I was trying to sleep and every time my eyes closed it happened. Then when I finally slept my alarm woke me up.”

The girl signs off with the memetic closing. “Beaters,” she says, “beat the clock, okay?” Then her face blips out and there’s a quick dark circle and a void where Alexis’ heart should be. A new face and her heart spazzes and she holds her chest like always. Her heart is a crying infant on as the Beater on screen calls his a neutron bomb. His cam makes his eyes red.

Different eyes, different skin. Same messed up heart.

Sometime while mainlining clips she falls asleep.

***

It's Stranford High '04, chilling with Glenn in the stairwell. Musk of his leather jacket, never washed. Middle fingers to the sheeple pouring downstairs like water from a tap. Like they've got somewhere to be, like school is a thing you should care about if you have more than two brain cells rubbing against each other.

He's working on his poetry. The stuff that he never lets her see but haunts her fascination like a ghost in the eaves. She usually backs off but now the connection between them is pulsing with a few minutes in the backseat of his Chinese assembled replica Thunderbird. She's his muse and together they're showing this machine their teeth, lean on spirit food, staying hungry.

So she flows herself over his shoulder and before he notices she's read enough key phrases like "sun-kissed hair" and "curves like waving seas" to let her know this poem is about head cheerleader Cherly Spillers and she feels the vacuum inside her, death starting there and singularity-ing outward until there are gaps between her cells to match the ones between beats. Her breathing stops because there's nothing in her to make air into life. Her thoughts jam up like cars on a hot wheels intersection.

As she watches her heart loops out till it’s out of the dream reel frame.

***

End scene as she wakes up. 9 a.m. and it's still dark.

Internet before breakfast and today's no exception. No one's sure what’s happening but some theories float to the surface of the comment scum pond. Gradual slowdown of earth rotation has finally made a noticeable break in the daylight cycle. The sun's sinking because of a space-time quantum break underneath it. A fog from another galaxy has totally swallowed it.

All these theories could be disproven by NASA or any other authority but no one's telling them anything. Does it even matter? Everything in cities is lit up 24/7 and people have flashlight phones.

She goes to buy soap, having subsisted on body wash for the past week. As she walks by streetlight she realizes for the first time how boring stars are, how little she's ever been affected by them.

The dude working the counter is about average attractiveness. He's tapping furiously at his phone and looks up only when she slams the soap down on the candy wrapper strewn countertop. "You need it," he says, taking her crisp folded paper and giving her an dull scored coin.

"Hacking ARPANET?" she says.

"So you know what the base foundation structure of the internet is called,” he says. “You’re still a chick and you don’t know jack about hacking.” Her heart's needle scours the record. She has to fight for her next breath with everything she's got. She chokes as she grabs the soap, package grating against the skin of her fingers. Stumbles away as the dude mutters something under his breath.

It's only when she collapses against the curb almost a body's length away from the door that she notices that without the sun or the moon, the sky looks like a badly programmed video game. She lies there and imagines the stars are ones and the spaces between them are zeroes and everything's glitching because the code is uneven.

***

On her screen she can see past the beater to her own reflection. The Beater signs off, a new face with gleaming chrome braces. She sails over the black fade with something approaching contentment. But what materializes isn't another serious looking teenager. It's some dude in a lab coat and he looks like he's been through a few quantum breaks himself. Like he's primed to take that final leap from genius to madness but wants to drop some knowledge before he goes.

He's holding some kind of shriveled white lump. Against the grainy low res it looks like a hole in reality, ridges and bumps breaking through, cutting into the man's hand and cancelling out everything behind it.

"This," the man says, "is a ghost heart. It's a heart that's been decultured. This means it can be seeded with anyone's cells, making it perfect for transplants. Making it perfect for anyone who's heart doesn't work the way it's supposed to."

Perfect for me, she thinks. She can hear her own breathing and tells it not to stop. The video stutters as it buffers. The man's expression, already intense, breaks up as the loading bar cuts through the blocky pixels.

The screen goes black, an error message. She hits refresh and the site 404s. From behind the wall that separates her from her neighbour she hears profane screaming.

Hackers, she thinks.

***

When night falls she falls asleep after her heartbeat stays even for a half hour. She dreams of the ghost heart, of pulling it into her, phasing it through her breastplate, but she feels it against her backbone, cold and clammy, and then it’s slipped out the other side, and falls to the ground, rolls, is still.

When she wakes up the sun is back. She checks. Her heart is beating. Benign, she thinks.

But it skips every once in awhile, people sleeping in as it throws off their body clock. There's no real pattern, skips separated by a handful of days, a week, sometimes no time at all, 48 hours of darkness. People adjust. They live. Suicide rates go up but only by a few percentage points.

The internet changes. The military works overtime to reinforce and rework ARPANET. Whole complexes of workers who want commenters to finally just shut up. As information begins to occupy every molecule of reality the whole world changes too. Every inch of things does something, is a display on which something happens. Or is a button that triggers something to happen somewhere else. People are cast in moving lights which in the dark flicker over their face like candle flames, whipping and dancing and slicing their faces into jagged multicoloured sections. By night people are kaleidoscopes. In sunlight their faces are living rashes.

The new world triggers something called Neo Epilepsy, a condition that makes it hard for the afflicted to go outside. They make video logs which you can stream from anywhere so you'll know if they're in trouble or not. The Beaters, always obscure, lose trending ground to the Neoleptics.

But she gets a routine that shows off her heartbeat and when her heart skips a beat it dances out there in the dark, in the place only people she knows can see it. You can only find real beauty in the dark. In the sun’s absence she and the other Beaters hold their breath in unison, watch their heartbeats dance together, as everyone else on Earth sees only the moving patterns on the surface, the patchwork rhythms strung together, looking for something in their hollowed grasp of life that isn't there.

Ghost hearts wavering in and out of time, beating in chaotic frenzies and silent gasps, disharmonic.

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013



vs Newt, absence makes the heart grow fonder

The Rough Equivalent of Our Mantra "Something Is Better Than Nothing Except When Nothing Is Better Than Something" Sped up and Looped for Six Continuous Hours
449 words


In the abstract, we haven’t changed. All we’ve done is swap out our meaningful glances and sometimes-awkward silences for a ridiculous anxiety when I see “Typing…” on the bottom of my Skype client for more than a minute, my mind full of fantasies of words like “this isn’t working” dropping my stomach like a falling star; while in reality she just hasn’t slept for a day and is struggling with how the gently caress to spell “metaphorically.”

I’ve never understood people who characterize the heart as a romantic. All it’s concerned about is stability, industriously beating and beating on inside your breast just to keep you alive while trying to ignore or at least compensate for your stupid brain when it does the exclamation point thing when a reminder of someone you care about pops into your view, beating faster with a sigh while you smile and watch the inconsequential cat video they shared. If my heart was a person, I think it’d be a tired office drone who has to constantly pick up for the work their drunken boss piles on them, wanting to quit but knowing their salary’s the only thing keeping them alive and knowing nothing will ever change because their boss’s dad goes fishing with the CEO on the weekends.

Now that she lives a full twenty-four hours of driving away, we desperately grasp at every spare moment throughout the day we have to talk. She keeps me updated on how the professor shut down that loud dumbass in her Databases class, I vent to her about every arrogant rear end in a top hat that comes into my family’s restaurant. We try to compensate for our separation with a live running commentary on our lives. Hell, sometimes it works.

Whenever I think of her my mind turns into a living highlight reel, filling in the cracks with nostalgia. I remember the warmth of her skin and how inseparable we were when she came to visit over spring break, not the tears and frigidity back when Mom first got sick and I told her I couldn’t run away with her after all, after I trampled over her dreams of escaping our lovely town together. Eventually she understood, but she couldn’t postpone her own future any longer. I understood too. It didn’t make that first week apart any easier, or any of the months that followed.

Over the months of her absence, I feel the memory of a real person gradually fade away, shifting into an ideal that shines bright as a diamond and is twice as unbreakable, and I wonder if she views me the same way. I wonder how much it’ll hurt when the pedestals we’ve built collapse under us.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

Megabrawl vs. Ent -- Love is Blind

Love Letter
910 Words


Dear Mama,

I know that you’re worried about me, but I promise you that I’m fine. In fact, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been! I know that you’re nervous because of the trouble I’ve gotten myself into before, but this is nothing like that - this time it’s real. Your little girl is in love!

I can’t wait for you to meet him, Mama, I just know that you’ll be as much in love with him as I am. Kyle is the kindest, gentlest, soul that I ever met, and I can tell that he’s as crazy about me as I am about him. I know you’re always saying that I’m too much of a romantic for my own good, but he’s even more of one! He treats me like a princess, Mama. In fact, after our first date he sent a dozen roses to me at work! You should have seen all of the other girls in the office, they were so jealous! He’s always doing little things like that, to make me feel special. Everyone tells me how lucky I am to be with him, and I really feel blessed that he chose me.

Oh, and he’s such a gentleman, Mama, even Gram would approve! He likes to say how old-fashioned he is, and it’s true! He’s always holding doors open for me and giving my order to the waiter when we go out to eat. He even insisted that I quit my job, since he wants to be the one to take care of me. He says that I’m his most precious treasure, and he doesn’t want to share me with anyone else! I know that I always said that I wanted a career, but I love being a homemaker so much now that I have the chance to do it!

I know you’re probably worried that he’s another hoodlum or layabout like those boys I dated before, but Mama, Kyle’s not like that at all! He’s got a real good job, and he’s such a hard worker! Most days when he gets home, he’s so worn out that it’s all he can do to just sit on the couch and watch some TV to relax. I don’t mind, though! I like to take care of him, and I’m grateful for all the hard work that he does. He puts so much pressure on himself, it’s no wonder he gets a little cranky after work! The people at his shop don’t appreciate him like they should, but he’s the one running the place, really. He’s looking for an even better job right now, and boy won’t they all be sorry when he quits!

One of the sweetest things about him is how vulnerable he is - he broke down and cried once when we were having some dumb argument! I don’t even remember what it was about now - it was probably some silly little thing that I got upset over, you know how we women can be. He’s been hurt in the past, and I can tell that it really scares him how much he cares about me, and that makes it hard for him sometimes. But I know just how wonderful he is, and I know that I can show him that he can trust me. I wish I could meet those girls who done him wrong, Mama, I really do!

I can tell that Kyle makes me a better person every day. He helps me to be my best self, to be a nicer, more considerate person, to be sensitive to the needs of others, to be more feminine, and to be humble. There were so many things that I used to do that I never even thought about, but Kyle showed me how unkind I was really being! I know that you think that I see the world through rose-colored glasses, Mama, and I know that relationships take work and dedication, but I want to be there for Kyle, to be there for him and be what he needs.

But Mama, can you do me a favor? Marcus called a few times, you know Marcus. And I told Kyle that there was nothing going on between us, that he and I have been friends since we were kids, but he got pretty jealous. You know how I said that he’d been hurt before, and I wouldn’t ever want to do anything to hurt Kyle, so I told Marcus that maybe he shouldn’t call anymore. Kyle was so upset last time he punched a hole in the wall, and I know that he was just worried about things, but he has really mad. If you could tell Marcus that I’m sorry, and we can get together again just as soon as I’ve shown Kyle that he can trust me. He really is a sweetheart, and I know once he understands just how much I love him he won’t get so jealous anymore.

I can’t wait for you to meet him, Mama, I know you’re going to love him. I’m so sorry we got married without telling anybody, but money is tight, and neither of us wanted to wait. We’re saving up now, and as soon as we can we’re gonna have a giant ceremony, so you and Papa and Gram can all come and see how happy we are together! I know you’ll all love him just as much as I do.

(In) Love!
Katy

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


hey, kurona bright. you write a lot of high fantasy worlds, but you spend too much time on world-building and not enough time on plot. you probably shouldn't do that!

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

buddy crits pt2

sparksbloom
I’m not sure where your inspiration came from but you should hit up the mine again because this was such a wonderfully bizarre surreal little story. Characters were motivated and/or interesting (I loved the guards). You had a nice, easy to read tone with just enough tension underneath to make it captivating. I think you just didn’t know how to end it. Or you ran out of words. Or you ran out of time. Or you just ran out of steam. Or all of the above. Because your conclusion felt so weak compared to everything else.

Thranguy
Cut your opening paragraph goddamnit why am I continuously harping on this poo poo and why does noone ever listen gently caress

Paragraph 1 -- you, the writer, don’t really know where you’re at yet and you’re just describing poo poo and it’s simultaneously unnecessary and ruins an opportunity for a helluva punch in p3
Paragraph 2 -- Boom. Right from the bat I know something is up. Don’t know what but I’m interested. That’s called a hook. Sweet.
Paragraph 3 -- ahhh my god the bit about looking for “Ruslan Stregovitch, born 1912, not Chip Sawyer, age nine” would have been loving gold if you’d just cut your opener

Everything else kind of sucks and you tried to cram too much into too little space. Or maybe I was just pissed off I dunno.

Your tone was wrong. I don’t know how to describe it. Neither of your characters spoke in what I would consider an “appropriate” manner for what they were supposed to be. That was jarring.

Jitzu_the_monk
The kid wasn’t a believable kid. And when that’s half your story it pretty much kills it right there. Also, I’m not sure what the plot was supposed to be. What was the story you were trying to tell here and why didn’t it better make it to the page?

Mistaya and Echo Cian
You guys were the only two that actually buddied up and I probably should have just HM’d you for that without taking anything else into account. But I didn’t.

This was super solidly above average. Like, I dunno, an 82 of a hundred. It’s a B but it’s not a great B and it’s pretty close to a C but I didn’t hate it and I actually kinda liked it and I could see where you wanted to go with it. But, between the two of you, this should have been a lot cleaner. Maybe you didn’t feel comfortable editing the other person’s poo poo I dunno. The story was nice. I liked the characters. This was just rough and needed to be edited a few times.

Fuschia tude
Here’s what I liked: descriptions, dialogue, tone, setting
Here’s what I disliked: missing the prompt (who was supposed to be who?), vague motivation, lovely cliff hanger ending that can’t really even be called that

This wasn’t a story. It wasn’t even a vignette. It’s the middle section of something much larger. I’d prefer the first two and in that order.

Carl Killer Miller
Cool idea. Keep chipping away at this writing thing. Your story had heart you just need to figure out how to get the craft down. For instance, you shouldn’t have given so much away so early. Lead me along a little. Ask people in IRC for help. Read everything Oxxidation has submitted.

dmboogie
Solid relationship. Good characterizations. Really nice ghost stuff (When you’re surrounded by people, you can never be quite sure if your elbow really passed entirely through the woman next to you, or if you’ve just got really bad depth perception). Could use a little motivation for both characters and maybe more of an arc but a pleasant read that I enjoyed and was glad I looked over. Nice job.

Entenzahn
This was great and I liked pretty much everything about it. Probably would have taken the win if you hadn’t been disqualified.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

if anyone is skulking around on the sidelines going, gee I want to enter but this prompt is too tough and scary for me, I will think up TD disses for you FYI

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


On behalf of the embattled and embanned newt, here's his brawl entry

Engagement
590 words

Down the end of the counter are the cabinets with no price tags, where the ignominy of haggling is still real. The sapphires remind me of Jacqui’s eyes; the rubies of her hair, but I ignore them and bring my finger down above the emeralds. My hot breath fogs the glass. I can smell it coming back at me.

No one approaches me. They’ve been avoiding eye contact the whole time, wishing away my existence.

“Excuse me,” the words come out quieter than I meant them, “I’d like to have a look at this one please. If that’s okay.”

The saleswoman, the older one, takes out the tray of rings from under the greasy mark left by my fingertip. She picks up the ring and hands it to me, her movements slower than could ever be natural. She doesn’t let her reluctance show on her face at all. Remarkable. You’d think it would make sense, that the people who spend their money on fine jewels wouldn’t have any left for other things- new clothes, hot showers, toothpaste. Turns out it doesn’t work like that.

***

I’m making quinoa pomegranate salad for dinner. It’s Jacqui’s favourite, and healthy too. Helps maintain her figure. I’m not partial to it myself, my tastes are simpler, so I pick up a couple of cans of the baked beans with the little sausages in them as well. When I check out I punch in the code for oats. Gotta scrimp and save to afford the best.

***

It takes me a while to make the salad. I’m not a great cook, but I’m learning fast. Seeing the guts of the pomegranate fall out onto a plate makes my stomach turn a little, but it’s worth it.

I can hear Jacqui in the next room. She’s thumping around, dancing or doing aerobics or juggling. Practicing a skill. She’s very skillful. I sometimes wonder what she sees in me, when she could have anyone.

I plate it up beautifully, with the little seeds arranged in a love heart. I struggle with words, so I try to express myself through the meals I make for her. Then I place the little ring box in the middle, surrounded by whole grains, spring onions, and mint leaves. Tonight’s the night.

The thumping gets louder and faster. She must be really enjoying that dance, because I can hear her yelp in delight. It makes me happy to know that she’s happy. But then I hear a man’s voice, joining hers, and it’s an ugly grunting sound, and not only is it ugly but it makes her voice ugly. I take the plate into the living room and stare at the wall between our apartments, and throw it at the wall. The ring comes out of its box and falls down among the remnants of the meals I’ve been cooking her for weeks- lying beside furry pieces of kale, shards of smashed flatware, and a rack of lamb that’s long turned green despite the perfect job I did of frenching the bones last Thursday. She does this to me Every. Single. Time. A pomeganate seed slides down wall, leaving a bright red trail on the beige paint.

I stalk out of my apartment and down the corridor. I knock hard on her door, yell through the keyhole for the bitch to shut the gently caress up, then run back into my living room and slide the deadbolt behind me. A pomegranate seed slides down the wall, leaving a bright red trail in the beige paint.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


FINAL CRITS ROUND 1

Twist

This was beautifully written, but I felt like it was a little too in love with its own weirdness and forgot what it was trying to do. It could beat a worse entry and certainly wouldn't DM during the weekly, but it suffers a pretty bad case of "it's beautiful, so what?" Most of the successful pieces this week had a real tension in them, while this feels like a souffle collapsing. No plot doesn't mean no conflict.

DmBoogie

This is wonderfully mythic. It hits the gutsy/dreamlike combo that good Magical Realism relies on dead on. I feel similarly about this piece and Morning Bell's - it has a gentle way of handling quite upsetting images, and it gains a real tension from that lacuna between its words and its ideas.

Also I am IN for this week BAUDOLINO I am calling you out. Every story you write is a glimpse into your weird sex-starved-and-crazed psyche and there's not even the humour of a golden bean in it. It's 2016teen and it's about time somebody kicked your rear end.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


removed for publishing stuff

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at Nov 26, 2016 around 10:16

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

Muffin I'm calling you out.

1st, for writing intense, well-crafted, nigh-poetic prose and then wasting it on silly premises or boring quasi-confessional bits and the like.

2nd, because 'Surreptitious' is a word that looks wrong even when spelled correctly,

and most importantly, 3rd, for willfully and deliberately ignoring the proper rules for the use of capital letters in story titles. Case in point, see above.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

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


I'm calling out notorious Ideas Guy Grizzled Patriarch so I can huff paint all weekend and write a 300 word premise about some bizarre bullshit like the ghost girl living in my toilet brush or whatever the gently caress oh but the words are so PRETTY

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.


Sitting Here posted:

if anyone is skulking around on the sidelines going, gee I want to enter but this prompt is too tough and scary for me, I will think up TD disses for you FYI

I've been away for too long and all the good one's are taken. Help me Sitting Here.

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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Black Griffon posted:

I've been away for too long and all the good one's are taken. Help me Sitting Here.

well you know, I heard Djeser couldn't write a human character to save his life, unless it was an overly gregarious door A.I. or a bidet who just wants to find friendship in the buttholes it cleanses. Look at me im djeser I have an encyclopedic knowledge of tropes and plot devices but I'm only going to submit like 30% of the time hur hur hurrr also I'm a pokemon.

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