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  • Locked thread
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
The prompt post says midnight, is it changing to noon? If so, I may not be able to pull this off.


The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

Sunday at midnight Eastern Standard for the regular prompt submissions (bottle episode). There are some other events going on that have different deadlines.

But the AM/PM thing was entirely my mistake.

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 17:21 on Jul 23, 2016

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
Ah, gotcha.


Apr 11, 2012

The Cut of Your Jib posted:

Sunday at midnight Eastern Standard for the regular prompt submissions (bottle episode). There are some other events going on that have different deadlines.

But the AM/PM thing was entirely my mistake.

As in one minute after 11:59 PM Saturday (it's now Sunday), or one minute after 11:59 PM Sunday (it's now Monday)?

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

As in it's now Monday.
So still 26 hours before the deadline. Like usual or whatever. I just copied the stuff from the last prompt and changed the dates.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Yeah, we usually just use 11:59 PM because goons are pedantic as gently caress. (Last week did the non-coastal timezone converted to pacific so could get away with on the hour...)

Apr 30, 2006
525 words

Erin stares into the Rothko and feels an ephemeral moment coming on, one that’ll lift her right out of the lukewarm stasis she’s been in for weeks. She’s about to be swallowed up into something whole and pure – it’s just a moment away.

“I’m so bored,” Holly says.

And it’s gone.

Erin heaves a sigh, all dramatic-like, and looks down at Holly, the daughter of Erin’s sister. The girl already has her mother’s emphatic eyebrows, and that always makes Erin hold back the brunt of her frustration and anger, because she knows they’ll cause the girl no end of grief in a few years.

“Let’s play a game,” Erin says.

“Can we get ice cream?”

“No. Maybe later. C’mon, let’s play a game.” Erin gestures at the exhibit room, which is busy but not crowded with aging couples. “We’re going to walk around and count how many times you hear people say things, okay? Like, um, ‘I don’t get it.’ But it’s got to be secret, okay? You can’t tell anyone you’re playing this game.” Erin realizes, halfway through this proposal, that this isn’t the kind of game you play with an eight year old, it’s the kind you play with your stoner friends who actually do ‘get it,’ but Erin really has no idea what you do with a child. Clearly you don’t take them to the MOMA.

But Holly smirks. “I’m not a baby,” she says, “I know that. But after that we can go, right?”

“It’s a dumb game,” Erin says. “Forget it.”

“No, I want to do it. I bet no one ‘gets it.’”

“You’re probably right.”

Holly leads Erin at an un-museumlike trot, and as they pass the middle aged couples Erin hears a lot of people pretending to ‘get it.’

“It’s all about form,” a bearded man says to his much younger girlfriend. “You can’t even hope to understand what Rothko was going for if you don’t understand form.” Holly and the girlfriend seem to share a moment of commiseration.

A few paintings over, a pair of sunburned tourists are frowning at the canvas, looks of consternation on their faces. Despite herself, Erin feels a leap of hope, that here they might get a “one,” but instead the couple saunters on down the hall and the two flop onto a bench.

Again and again they pass couples, all who seem on the verge of an “I don’t get it,” but none who dare to utter the words. Erin considers that maybe she’s been too cynical – or maybe that her cynicism wasn’t informed enough, that she needed to calibrate it for entry-level art snobbery instead of entry-level NYC touristry.

Holly’s still into the game, though, and at last they pass a mother and son. The son’s probably a year or two younger than Holly, but he looks into the canvas enraptured, a moment of blank peace, the same moment Erin was about to achieve before Holly (bless her heart) had snatched it away. Holly only notices that they aren’t talking, though, and she almost misses it when the mother hacks a dry smoker’s cough and mutters “I don’t get it.”

Oct 4, 2013

Old Truckers Never Die, They Just Drive Their Rigs Straight Up the Stairway to Heaven
1150 words.

The GPS doesn’t know where the hell they are. Molly’s glad they have something in common. She squints at the open road ahead, looking for a sign. Hopefully literal, but she’d take a good enough metaphor at this point. She shoulda hit the rest stop two hours ago, and it’s been four since she shoulda been sleeping, legally speaking. Molly doesn’t like fudging the books, but it’s almost corporately mandated now, ‘specially with all the drivers decades younger than her who don’t mind driving through the night so much. She hasn’t resorted to uppers like some of the other old hands have, but the cups of coffee and energy drinks littering her cab can only do so much.

“Are you satisfied with your life?” The radio crackles at her.

“Don’t worry. Trusted scientists have told us that no one is.”

“You’re not alone.”

“Isn’t that wonderful?”

“Doesn’t that make you happier?”

“Next up, some smooth jazz to help you swallow whatever the world vomits at you next.”

Molly sighs. Damned thing’s been turned off for hours, but she knows that public radio personalities aren’t the type to take “no” for an answer. Some stubborn broadcasts have followed her across a dozen state lines. She’s learned to tune them out when she needs to.

Her headlights suddenly catch a sign up ahead, the first thing to break the monotonous farmland for miles. “PLEASE. ROAD STOP.” A cold, black monolith mirrors the world, stretches into the sky. Flickering street lamps protrude from it, lighting a massive parking lot. Her GPS still isn’t picking anything up. Must be a new monolith.

Soon as Molly drives into the empty lot, haphazard parking job spreading the truck diagonally through several parking spaces, she closes her eyes, slumps in her chair. Passes out almost instantly.

Peace doesn’t last long. A minute later, she starts up as the highway in front of her explodes into a parade of lights and honking horns, a blur of constant motion that’s too frantic for her to make out any details. A young man is in her passenger seat, intently watching the procession. Looks like a John, like someone Molly’d see checking out her groceries or serving her lovely diner coffee. “The world’s passing you by, you know,” he says, staring ahead.

Molly groans, rubbing her eyes. “This look like a fuckin’ taxi service to you, kid?” John doesn’t reply. For want of an icepick, Molly digs out the next best thing, an old, unopened pack of cigs, and offers it to him.

He turns to look at her for the first time, accepts it, raises an eyebrow. Molly half expects his face to start melting or something, but no, still just a John. “Don’t want the first smoke?” he asks.

Molly shakes her head. “Life’s got its hooks in me, but if the addiction’s this bad, I sure as hell don’t wanna find out what the withdrawal feels like.”

John laughs, opening the pack and popping a cigarette into his mouth. He chews loudly, then swallows it whole. “Mm. Vintage flavoring.” He turns back to the road, which hasn’t quieted down. “Seriously, though. You know the cheap bastards barely wanna pay you, as is. They’re making self-driving cars now. How long until you’re obsolete?” He continues snacking on the cigs as he speaks.

Molly snorts, taps the GPS. “Damned thing loses its poo poo soon as you take it down a backroad. You wanna tell me that if you throw a whole bunch of computers on the road, none of them’re gonna plough straight through a preschool ‘cause they thought it was a highway ramp? Not sayin' corporate would give a drat, but people'd start complaining.”

“No one knew what a computer was, fifty years ago. We’ve only had smartphones for, what, a decade? Who’s to say that they’re not gonna perfect the tech in a coupla years?”

“If anything, they’ll probably just sneak somethin' in the fine print so they can cut our brains out, stick ‘em in a robot, have us drive for the rest of time. All our trucker experience without having to worry about any pesky poo poo like ‘sleep’ or 'salaries' gettin’ in the way of our productivity.”

“drat. I thought I was a cynic.”

“You’ve got a lotta years ahead of ya before you can match an old lady in that department, hon.”

“Guess I’ll have something to look forward to.” John burps, looking despondently at the now-empty pack. “Thanks for the conversation, and the meal. I’ll just go and shove this into the trash for you,” he says before diving out the window. Molly waits a few minutes for him to come back, just to be polite, but his type never sticks around long.

She doesn’t much feel like sleeping, now. The last of the cars on the road speeds past in the blink of an eye as Molly pulls her truck back out, and she’s alone again. She wishes it'd stay that way.

“You changed your number again,” Brad says over the CB radio. “It’s almost like you don’t wanna talk to me, baby.” His vomitous laughter hurts Molly’s ears more than the static it drags along in its wake. She silently drives on. “Aw, you haven’t been home for years, Mol, I don’t think it’s too much to just wanna hear your voice.”

“I dunno how you got the time to talk to me, Brad,” Molly says, not bothering to pick up the mic. Figures it won’t make a difference either way. “I’m sure there’s hordes of the impressionable younger women you’d obviously much rather be with.”

Brad laughs again, breaks into a coughing fit halfway through. “Aw, don’t be like that. You know you’re the only real woman in my heart. The other girls, they’re just timekillers, s’all.” Molly hits the gas, ignores the flickers of movement from the sides of her eyes, ignores whatever's banging on the trailer wall.

"Funny story, actually. One’ve them had a real bitch of a friend, didn't like the way I was eyeing her buddy up. Thought I'd follow her home, but oh, was she was good with a knife,” he hacks, and wet blood splatters onto her windows. “I’m still here, though, don't worry your little heart. It's dark and I'm bleeding, but I can still see you, babe. Hear your voice. Looks like we’re on this road for the long haul, Mol.”

“The world should’ve passed you by a long time ago,” someone says behind him.

“What? The gently caress do you think you're doing with that-” Brad screams, once, before he begins to choke, gurgling. Molly hums along to the jazz on the radio. Afterwards, her GPS finds itself and leads her to the promised rest stop. Molly pulls in, parks, drifts into a dreamless sleep.

The road looks after its own.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

spectres of autism posted:

798 words

Interim prompt: Trying to register at but it gives me a Could not open socket error . Why am I such a dumb idiot? 800 words max

Here is my Intro to Literary Analysis critique:

The journey towards the singularity is one of self-discovery, it seems. The central imagery evokes a strong recollection of 2001: A Space Odyssey with its perfect black monolith and the wormhole into infinite knowledge (or unified consciousness), and yet all that is seen through imperfect eyes.

The machine is anonymous, unforgiving, stark. The goggles are unwieldy and tinted like an old photograph. Should I be precious and nostalgic, or give in and accept what mystery lies in store? After all the violent hesitation, what’s really happening is just people communicating.

That seems like a good thing, and yet you discover that people are mostly bad at communicating. But here we are, trying. Attempting to curry favor with anonymous strangers instead of seeing actual human faces. That’s the beauty of using a kaleidoscope as a metaphor. It’s an ever changing pattern, but it’s always sliced and reflected, repeating. No new ideas, yadda, yadda. So as a metaphysical awakening, the whole thing is lovely.

It’s a little shaky when you think about Thunderdome. There’s confusion, but TD is trying to make order out of chaos. Put your thoughts out there and be judged. Poor structure will not be tolerated. I feel like I previously had kaleidoscope eyes and now I have a magnifying glass. With time, I’ll either sharpen focus or set myself on fire with it.

Then I think about IRC channels and being a little more relaxed, and it starts to make more sense as putting different facets of yourself out there (or using different software, as it were). After much pondering, however, I still don’t get the line about why I have to like the colours. I can be blown away by what I see, but no one’s obligated to be friends or even anything more than clinical and still participate. Despair and fear in one sentence soon turns to desperation to be liked and like in return.

All the self-doubt happens after a success. While it may have been a top of the garbage heap win to some, there’s no hinting at it prior, the longing excitement is the only characterization before. Winning was easy, but acceptance is hard. Maybe that’s a trite reading of the story, but nearly half is dedicated to doing something and succeeding, and it seems really easy. There’s no struggle in the assembly of the rig (original story) no hesitation and for all the doubt later, surely there must have been a long internal battle before working up the courage to post it in the first place.

There’s an epiphany there that ignores the plot problem of IRC but the resolution is a realization about humanity. Then it ends with joining the fractured collective. I had to take a couple passes at it to come up with a reading. I like it now, but maybe it’s a little too oblique. It starts with a roller coaster going up the hill, then it just floats away.

The piece starts out with a synesthesia sort of thing – feeling time and echoes and points of light vibrate in harmonics and thrum, but then that’s forgotten about by the end, and only the visual theme remains. It would have been nice to have that continue, or even have the senses scrambled once Jib gets jacked in, with a less descriptive monotone world at the start.

You also gave away the best realization about halfway through – it’s cool to stop.


Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007


Predator and prey

Prompt: Bottle episode

Words: 1197

Richard sat patiently, breathing in the cool, slightly musty air. A candle flickered on a small table; by its light Richard read from the Bible. Beside him sat his bag of tools, and before him lay the ancient stone sarcophagus.

The man in the sarcophagus was middle-aged and sickly-looking, his thick mustache unevenly trimmed, and small nicks and cuts lined his cheeks, neck, and jaw. His homespun clothing was stained and poorly-mended. Against the far wall lay a pile of dusty bones: the sarcophagus's original occupant.

Richard clicked his teeth as he looked at the hourglass near the candle. The sun would soon set. He put the book aside and readied his hammer and stake.

The man in the sarcophagus took in a hoarse gasp and sat up, eyes wide, teeth bared in a pained grimace. He met Richard's even stare with a hiss.

"Good evening," Richard said. "My name is Richard Bellamy. What's yours?"

The man looked at the thick line of salt that encircled the sarcophagus, then regarded Richard with bleary bewilderment.

"Howard," he husked. He cleared his throat.

"Thirsty?" Richard smiled politely. He gestured to a capped flask of water with a cross etched on its front

"What do you want?" Howard looked angry, and a little frightened.

"Your head, but not just yet." After a moment's examination Richard surmised the circle of salt was intact, and he put aside his tools. "First, I would like to talk to you. Get your side of the story, as it were."

Howard bared his teeth; dirty and brown, ruined by a life of bad hygiene and tobacco -- save for a pair of long, curved fangs which glistened in the weak candlelight. "What the hell sort of game are you playing at?"

Richard shook an admonishing finger. "Watch your language, sir. This is no game; I took the trouble of tracking you down and setting the proper precautions. The door is sealed with garlic bulbs and marked with the cross -- you won't be able to break it down. Not that you'd get the chance, of course, as you cannot leave your sarcophagus."

Howard's expression grew wretched. "Don't you think I have it bad enough without you mocking me?"

"If it's any comfort," Richard said with as much sympathy as he could muster, "you won't suffer any more after tonight. If you have any friends or family remaining I would be pleased to let them know you're finally at peace."

Howard gave a bitter laugh that sounded more like a sob. "Family? Lost them all to the plague, same one that got me."

Richard sat up straight at this, and rummaged for a stick of charcoal and paper. "So the plague is linked to your... condition?"

"Near as I can tell," Howard murmured. He adjusted his position and looked at Richard with jaundiced, bloodshot eyes. "Sometimes folks that catch it don't die, as such. Sometimes they get back up again, but they... well, we're thirsty, see." Tears glistened in his eyes. "Can't help it. Can't keep food down, can't drink anything but blood, sunlight hurts like hell-"

"I thought sunlight killed your kind," Richard interjected, scribbling furiously on a parchment balanced on his bible.

"It just hurts is all. Makes you wish you were dead. Doesn't matter since every morning I pass out 'round sunrise," Howard went on, regaining some composure. He sniffed. "Can't believe all those wives' tales, you know."

"And the crucifix? And mirrors? What about them?"

"Hurts to look at mirrors. Makes my head ache something fierce." Howard grimaced and looked again at the salt surrounding his coffin. "Never was a religious man. Maybe this is my punishment."

"Your accent sounds somewhat northern. Where are you from originally?"

"Wilkinshire," Howard replied after a moment's thought. "Small farming village. But after I got sick, and after my family died along with everybody else, I burned it all to the ground and came down this way hoping a doctor could treat my condition." He gave another rueful laugh. "All I found was better hunting."

"So you think of yourself as a predator?" Richard sounded pleased with himself. His surmise was correct after all.

"Can't help it, really. I can't change into a wolf or a bat or a cloud of mist like the stories -- which don't mean nothing in any case -- but I'm stronger than I used to be, and aside from stuff like sunlight and mirrors, I don't really feel pain." Howard sighed and lay back in his sarcophagus and stretched. "Get awful stiff, though. Especially when I wake up."

"So would you say that adopting the mindset of a predator makes it easier to prey upon your fellow man? Dehumanizing yourself to face the bloodshed?"

Howard sat back up and shot Richard a glare that ran liquid ice down his spine. "Funny you should say that. You're the one who's wanting to kill me when you're tired of making me squirm on your hook."

"Ah, but I'm performing a service -- to the community, to natural philosophy, and to you. I'm stopping a killer, understanding your ways, and giving you your say before I grant you peace." Richard sighed happily, rubbing his hands together. "The money I'll get from sharing my findings is merely a bonus."

"So you'll profit from torturing me?"

Richard arched a brow and got to his feet, making sure to remain well out of the salt circle. "Torturing you? I've been nothing but civil. I could have staked you where you lay, and yet I allowed you to finish your day's sleep. I have been scrupulously polite even though you are -- let's face it -- a monster."

Howard's face grew paler still, and he trembled with anger. "I watched my wife and baby girl die of the plague. I got sick because I refused to leave them alone. I come all the way down here to find treatment, and I end up having to hide out in a drat burial mound, and you have the gall to call me a monster? You bastard! You utter bastard!"

"You drink people's blood," Richard said coolly. "You spread the disease."

"I can't help it!" Howard roared, a touch of reddish froth forming at the corner of his mouth. "Get out of here and leave me be! Stop tormenting me!"

"No," Richard said, a smile returning to his lips. He looked as though he enjoyed himself. He reached into his shirt and brought out a large, gilded silver cross and raised it toward Howard with a triumphant sneer. "No more politeness! Answer my questions, or die screaming!"

Howard gave a howl of rage, leapt from his sarcophagus onto Richard's body, pinned him to the ground with a madman's vigor. Bloody froth dripped from his cracked lips as he snarled into Richard's ear.

"Warned you, didn't I? Told you to leave! You believed in tales. You didn't believe me!" Howard's jaws made horrible cracking sounds as they opened wider and wider, and Richard could only let out a hoarse gurgle as those white fingers crushed his windpipe.

Howard hissed. "And I am thirsty."

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:

A bottle story, 922 words

His Same Story

Through the glass, Detective Cardenas made his second run at Allan Gold. Doctor Campos watched.

The Detective's eyes were neon and grainy. His brain boiled. He and Mr. Gold had just come off a loop. In Campos' words, 'You go in new every time.'

Mr. Gold was shackled to the chair, the cables looped again to the table. He was shaking, but his face was composed.

Detective Cardenas flipped through the file with Campos' eyes hot on his back. Two murders. His wife and daughter, burnt up in a fire he set at home. Cardenas' headache intensified and his right eye throbbed. His lid jerked. He'd read the file in the last interview, but he couldn't remember anything after the Loop. A fresh set of eyes, but the same eyes, every time.

"Mr. Gold? You don't have an alibi for that night. Insurance policies on both your wife and daughter. Not old ones, either." Cardenas was stiff and awkward, parroting a TV cop.

Gold snarled, near-frothing. "What's that supposed to mean? I had a life, a family, and someone burned it all down. You're after me?"

Detective Cardenas was jolted from his 'sleepy-cop' act. "Tell me about that night, then, Mr. Gold."

Gold started speaking. Cardenas paraphrased it in his notebook:

'Woke to smell of smoke. Wasn't sleeping with his wife. His coughing woke the family, low smoke. Had been fighting with his wife, daughter heard it. Doesn't know what started the burn. Called upstairs, where quote 'his girls' were sleeping. Saw fire all over the staircase. Ran from house, called police twenty min. later. States he was in shock.'

Cardenas leaned close and spoke. "You have anything else to say here, Mr. Gold? The report says that there was just a little accelerant on your pants when they found you. Gasoline."

Gold was incredulous.

Your neighbor was drinking on his porch. He saw you, I quote, 'Spilling gasoline'." Cardenas closed the file. "You told him that you were filling up your mower. At 11 PM."

Gold snarled. "Oh, you're gonna bring that? That?! My wife was going to garden in the morning. I didn't want to pour gasoline. It stinks. She says it hurts the plants."

Cardenas was at a loss. There wasn't enough information about his wife in the dossier. he was tapped out and he stammered. "What can you tell me about Mrs. Gold?"

Allan Gold was indignant. "You want me to tell you about my wife?! You're supposed to be finding out who burned our loving house down!"

Gold turned his head to the side and ignored Cardenas. The detective was beaten.

Cardenas tapped the table three times. Within thirty seconds, Mr. Golds' eyes drooped. He slumped hard over the interrogation table. Then, Cardenas felt the loop.

The Detective's vision glazed and ebbed, his tongue dried, his pupils went into pinpoints. Campos, watching through the glass, waited a minute. Allan Gold laid motionless. Then, Campos strode in and shook Cardenas hard for loop 3.


Cardenas woke up in a chair on blue side of the glass. "You've been in a loop, Detective Cardenas. If you think hard, you know about this. This is your third loop, your third run at Mr. Gold."

Campos continued.

"You go in new every time."

Cardenas scratched around his eyebrows. His headache intensified. Campos spoke louder. "Detective! New Case!" At this, Cardenas snapped to attention. He was okay. There was a fresh suspect in the interrogation room and Campos pointed to him.

Campos spoke as Cardenas reeled. "Our project, Cardenas. We rewound you. Both of you and everything else. As of sixty seconds ago, the man in that room has never met you and you've never met him. We won't leave until we get his confession." Campos guided Cardenas to a thin manila file in a thick, identical pile.

"Allan Gold. Catch him in a lie, something only we know. Remember: tap three times if you're stuck, or if you have something. New loop, tap three times."

Cardenas didn't like that. He wasn't green. He was a detective. That wasn't advice for a detective. Rewound? Yes, rewound. A reset if he couldn't break the suspect, or if the suspect broke him.


The Sixth loop, the sixth briefing from Campos, the sixth read of Gold's file and Cardenas was burning. Campos' advice. His slow-roasting head. Allan. Tap three times.

Cardenas slurred as he spoke. "Hello, Mr. Gold". Gold was also in the late stages of drug stupor. Cardenas interpreted the file out loud. "Looks like you woke up to smoke, that was your report. You know, it'll stain your fingers. Marlboros?" Cardenas chuckled.

Mr. Gold stiffened and spoke. "No, not Marlboros. I don't smoke Marlboros."

Cardenas chuckled sleepily. "That's right. Can't stand Marlboros. Too much leaf. Newports. I smoke Newports." Cardenas laughed to himself and Gold looked for Campos behind the mirror glass. Cardenas' world swam, and Gold stood up.

Gold and Campos shared little high-fives and giddy glances.

Campos spoke first. "It was about waking up to smoke? We can tie him to the cigarette butt. You're incredible."

Doctor Gold laughed while peeling the 'wire' off of the slumbering Cardenas. "Doctor Campos, I can't believe this worked. Looping? Genius.". The false listening device drew away from Cardenas' body, exposing an inch of intravenous tubing. "What, methadone and mephedrone? A remote controlled bedtime cocktail?"

Campos tossed the drug remote onto the table and cracked a bottle of champagne with an institute-branded corkscrew.

"To continued success in the field of interrogation, Doctor Gold."

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
When you Know The Price

1200 words

protag overhears one side of a phone call or mishears an eavesdropped conversation

The key-card had the room number written on it in black permanent marker, and beneath that the figure: $10,000.00. Terry jammed it into the slot. The light flashed green. She opened the door. Anton was waiting, lounging on the bed in green silk pajamas over black boxers. He had the scene prepared: room service champagne on ice, oysters and shrimp cocktails.

“Shall we begin?” he said. “Or should we wait for Sarah?”

“Sarah won't be coming,” said Terry.


“I saw her toss your card in the trash.”

“Interesting,” said Anton. “Back in high school I always thought that she was, of the two of you, the more whoreish.”

Terry winced. “Do you have to say-”

“You're too smart to pretend this is anything other than what it is,” said Anton. “Yes. It is all a bit barbaric, I admit, but it's part of what makes this work for me. For tonight, at least, you are a whore. My whore.”

“In that case,” said Terry, curling a wicked grin, “Show me the money first.”

Anton laughed, the practiced, unconvincing fake she remembered. “Very well.” He stood up and lifted a small suitcase onto a hotel room chair, then opened it up. It was full of cash, more than ten thousand, far more. And resting on top of the stacked and wrapped twenties was a revolver with a sound suppressor attached to the barrel.

“What the hell is that for?” said Terry.

Anton clicked his tongue and picked up the gun. Good trigger discipline at least, Terry noticed. “It was supposed to be a surprise. For afterward. A chance to increase your earnings. Russian roulette, solitaire. No respins, double your money each pull.”

“And you think I would-”

“You?” said Anton. “Maybe not. Sarah, maybe. Others have. You don't think you're the first girl from my past who's taken my offer, do you? Often, the combination of greed and self-loathing makes it quite appealing.”

“And you think you'd just walk away if it goes off? I'm surprised nobody's turned it on you.”

“You may not quite understand what kind of rich I am, Terry,” said Anton. “Not the kind that goes with famous. The quiet kind. The dirty kind, filthy. I can call on someone to make corpses vanish without trace. You cannot. You would go to jail, never get to spend a dime.”

“You know what I think?” said Terry. “I think you're bluffing. No bullet at all, or maybe a dud.”

“We can put that to the test, if you like. Afterward. What I think is that you are stalling. Enough. Strip,” said Anton, setting the gun down with the room service. “Now, whore.”

Terry was stalling. She slowly pulled off her shirt, revealing a bra, red but otherwise utilitarian. She tossed the shirt casually. It landed right on the food tray. Great she thought. All this and cocktail sauce stains too. She made a show of kicking off her heels, one at a time, not watching the door the whole time. Anton gestured impatiently. Terry reached for her pants. The door opened up.

“What the hell?” said Anton. “Mitch?” Mitchell was a big guy, now and then. Back in the day he was a bully and a clown. He hadn't changed much. When Terry fished Sarah's card out of the trash and explained everything, he was on board immediately for another prank on a creepy nerd, maybe taking some money off of him too.

Anton leaped up, springing off the bed with rage in his eyes. He charged at Mitch, arms flailing. Mitch sucker-punched him square in the face. There was a sickening crack and Anton was knocked back onto the bed. He looked wrong. He groaned, coughed.

“Um, guys,” he said, weakly. “I can't- oh, God, I can't feel my legs. Or my arms. Oh God. Guys, you need to call a hospital. Guys. Guys. Oh God Oh God.”

Terry and Mitch looked at each other, at the suitcase full of money, at Anton. Mitch looked at the pillow. Terry nodded, picked it up, shoved it onto Anton's face, Anton's smug and panicked face. He didn't struggle long.

“Quick,” said Terry, “Stand him up.”

“What?” said Mitch. He followed the instructions, though, pulling Anton upright, leaning him against the wall and keeping him balanced. “Why?”

“Don't you watch tv?” said Terry. “We can make it look like he hanged himself, but his blood needs to go to his feet, not his back.”

“Oh,” said Mitch. “Pretty smart, Terr.”

Terry pulled the sheet off the bed and started rolling and twisting along the diagonal, making a nice, thick rope. She tried to remember a suitable knot.

The hotel phone rang. They froze. It rang again. And again. Mitch picked it up. “Hello,” he said, doing Anton's voice. He'd been good at that in school, and in just a few hours at the reunion he'd picked up the changes from twenty years.

“Actually, yes.”

Terry worked the makeshift noose onto the closet hanger bar as Mitch talked.

“Sooner or later.”


“That's what I said.”

Mitch hung up the phone, grabbed Anton with both hands and dragged him toward the closet.

“Who was that?” asked Terry as they worked Anton's head into the loop.

“One of Anton's people. He'll be coming around to clean up. Don't know how he'll react to this.” Terry pointed his thumb at the apparent hanging. “But I figured it was worth a shot.”

Terry walked back to the bed to grab her shirt. “What was all that about 'two'?”

“Yeah,” said Mitch. “About that.” He positioned himself between Terry and the door.

“What's going on?”

“I found out something about myself today,” said Mitch. “Turns out I'm willing to murder an old acquaintance for half a suitcase full of cash.”

“We both are,” said Terry, keeping eye contact.

“So do the math. Also, I figure the only way I get caught on this is if you talk. Sorry about this,” Mitch said, but a leering grin formed on his face as he advanced.

Terry grabbed the gun, aimed it at Mitch's chest, and pulled the trigger. Click. Again. Click. Mitch had frozen when he saw the gun, but now he realized he still had a chance. He launched himself toward her. Pull. Click. Pull.

The silenced pistol popped. The bullet tore through Mitch. Clean shot. Center of mass. Mitch went down.

Terry wiped the gun clean and put it on the tray. She gathered her clothes and the suitcase. She took two stacks out, tossed them onto a table, hoping nobody else know about Anton's side bets, how much money he'd brought. She looked at the scene. It told a story, a story about sexual experimentation, regret, self-hate, murder, suicide. She hoped Anton's man would buy it and cover it up. Even if he didn't, she'd drive all night and be three states away with three hundred thousand dollars to go on the run with before anyone even thought to look for her.

Mar 21, 2010
removed for publishing stuff

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

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

One half hour until the submission deadline.

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 07:16 on Jan 1, 2017

Feb 15, 2005
Sorry, dropping out this week.

Social Studies 3rd Period
Oct 31, 2012


C7ty1 posted:

In and :toxx: for my string of terrible failures, goddammit. Also will take a flash.

Call it. Be back when I'm not (as) terriblebrains, TD!

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

Submissions for Week 207 now closed.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool
interprompt: weeds (not weed)

419 words

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:

A Garden in her Mind (149 words)

My mother grew beautiful things for years. Her mimosas would tickle my face and her jasmines brought a wonderful scent to our backyard. When I was twelve she branched into roses. Our patio was alive with color and the buzzing of bees and my mother, ever-present. She'd coo to her plants and I could tell it hurt her when she cut them back for the winter.

Things have been getting worse for a few years. When her mind started to go, her garden reflected it. At first, her beloved babies grew wild, ran rampant over a crumbling porch. Then, her babies died.

When I see her these days, she's tending to weeds. Se has the same love in her heart for them. They're spiky, unfriendly, and scentless, but she loves them. I don't have it in me to tell her, but why would I? I think in her heart she still sees roses and posies and and colorful, wonderful things.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

:siren: Week 207 - Bottle Your Rage [recap and head judge critiques] :siren:

Winner – ICU by SurreptitiousMuffin (crisp story about love and loss, nothing groundbreaking in terms of plot, but it’s a really good read.)

HM -- Old Truckers Never Die, They Just Drive Their Rigs Straight Up the Stairway to Heaven by dmboogie (A little opaque at first, and some clunky lines, but many interpretations when you dig in.)

DM -- His Same Story by Carl Killer Miller (big problems with your plot device, and clues are hidden from the audience. Entire middle is cut from the story leading to nonsensical resolution)

terre packet posted:

Parlour Delivery

LOSER -- Parlour Delivery by terre packet (Lame stakes, half-baked world, one dimensional characters, and paragraphs that introduce unresolved plot points)


terre packet
Parlour Delivery

This is kind of a jumbled mess that moves too fast. I sort of get the Harry Potter meets Brazil vibe going on, but the first thing I thought of is If tech is advanced enough that offices are flying around like cable cars, why don’t they have a paperless office? Even if you keep the paper environment, some clever ways to prevent messes in the galleys of ships have been used for hundreds of years. I guess it was just to get the Legolas moment of riding the wave of papers like a boss.

I think the office setting was vivid enough, but I’m really not clear on what this is all about. He sees a woman who looks like a giant version of his ex, but that’s only an off-hand comment that really doesn’t serve any purpose. Why was she there? Why does she look like the other woman? The ex- has unfortunate name of Erin so it must be the art snob from the other story. Courier got off easy on that account, at least.

The courier seems like a normal dude who’s in this fantasy world, so his sense of wonderment should have been more in the forefront. There’s a significant amount devoted to mundane delivery business and trying to poach a hotshot messenger, while weird stuff is left vague and ill-defined. The audience surrogate has blinders on, only concerned about the piece of paper and not about the nutso environment.

You cut off spider guy before he explains what the contract was even about. Is this a deal with the devil? The courier might lament that he was an unwitting pawn in some game. If it was mundane, the point of these flying offices is to inspire marketing, so a contract is the most boring thing about that world. A supernatural Don Draper wouldn’t be a bad thing.

I’m also not sure why the spider boss had to wrap up the messenger, surely there’s a way to get from office to office without having to get cocooned and dropped? The messenger made it up there in the first place. I read the title, and it would have been great to actually have the delivery guy fly to the office, but he’s actually released with a friendly goodbye, so the spider and the fly relationship doesn’t even fit. There’s no tension or sinister undertones that he’s in danger. He’s expected to return to his home base. Or was that a bad quip and the message is his dead body? It’s not clear, so the first thought after the conclusion is ‘huh?’ Bad way to end a story.

You threw in just enough details for me to feel let down when nothing is really explained or fleshed out, and the plot is the most mundane adventure of paperwork woes with unexplained stakes. If only there was one magic turn of phrase or some interesting discovery, you would have stayed out of the basement. Bummer.

Old Truckers Never Die, They Just Drive Their Rigs Straight Up the Stairway to Heaven

[After talking with Jitzu, I’ve reconsidered this one – some of my response I stand by, especially with clunkers like ‘vomit’ but I can see a couple different entry points for dream and sleep, or that the entire thing is one big waking dream and Molly never actually falls completely asleep and is hallucinating.

Another possible reading is where Molly is asleep at the wheel and thinks about future and past (or professional and private), then maybe scrapes some guiderails before waking up again and pulling in to an actual rest stop.

Or the GPS signal is Jesus and that’s when she actually went to heaven and the title is a big trick because she dead.

So this puppy is more complex than I first gave it credit for, but there might be some value in my initial comments. I’m leaving them, since I definitely thought it was messy on first read, and probably wouldn’t have read it a second time if not judging. It needs a little polish to help with accessibility or something.]

***** my initial reading impulses******

You pushed the pedal to the floor with the dream logic, but I don’t think I understand much of this. It’s so confused. Radio playing is an indicator of a dream state right off the bat, but it seems like she’s really awake and pulling in to the rest stop. PLEASE. ROAD STOP. That’s dream gibberish if I ever heard it.

I don’t fault a trucker for listening to smooth jazz, but even in a dream, what jazz DJ would say ‘swallow vomit?’ I kind of want to call in to Ira Glass just so he’ll read that line on the air. You echo (possibly accidentally) the vomitous laughter at the end, so is this Molly taking care of Brad by killing him?

I can’t figure out if the names are intentional or not, a woman named Molly that refuses to do drugs was a nice touch, but then the John who isn’t a john was a let down. Truckers and prostitutes are a symbiotic ecosystem all its own. Then Brad gets stabbed. So, uh, maybe?

Anyway, the thing about dream logic is that you should supply a key so the reader can work it all out. You have the cigarettes and they’re usually a symbol of death, but then you specifically call them vintage. He should have rummaged around and found an old forgotten pack in the glove box that only had a couple stale Marlboros inside. I don’t get why the pack is unopened. Molly should have said she quit a while back rather than that awful line about withdrawal.

So I take them as a symbol of the past, and this guy eats the past as he talks about Molly becoming obsolete. That makes sense to me, but it’s so straightforward. If she’s dreaming, then a little body horror about turning into a machine wouldn’t be out of place. The conversation is clear if a little heavy handed. If he’s supposed to be eating death, then I dunno, he’s an angel saving her?

Molly wakes up after this but it seems like it’s still a dream. The blocking is all a jumble. Brad’s in another truck, and John killed him because he was stalking Molly? But things bang on her truck and blood spatters on her windows, so she didn’t see Brad’s truck on the road?

A story about a trucker stalker would have been fine, or a conversation between a hitchhiker and a driver. There’s too much going on and it’s not explained well.
So confusion aside, the dialogue is pretty stilted. I guess a trucker might say ‘hon’ but that’s usually reserved for the sassy waitress at the diner, which she clearly is not. When someone wakes up with a stranger in the passenger seat, you sure as hell don’t start with “This ain’t a taxi, kid.” For sure that’s a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ scenario.

Easy to understand dimestore philosophy surrounded by some muddled dream scenes.

Screaming Idiot
Predator and prey

Welp. If you’re going to subvert vampire folklore, may as well toss it all in the garbage. This is fine, and the whole thing plays with it, but the simplest question is the one that gets Van Helsing in a tizzy. Of course the mindset of a predator helps you kill other people. There’s nothing supernatural in that. You specifically mention natural philosophy, so I read that as a nebbishy bookworm type who would be far more interested in the actual minutiae of how this zomb-pire works, not whether thinking like a serial killer helps you act like a serial killer.

Richard starts out reading the Bible, apparently for pleasure or comfort. Usually the scientist monster hunter isn’t also the religious zealot/priest. Then he adds in that he’s greedy, and sadistic, and prone to torturing someone. With every sentence about this guy he’s a different character, the whole monster hunting gang rolled into one. He’s a schizophrenic mishmash of characterization that literally rubs his hands together in anticipation while he . . . sighs happily?

Why does Howard, the self-aware monster who says outright ‘don’t believe old wives’ tales,’ live in a sarcophagus? The UK has extensive caves, and tons of abandoned structures. There’s no need to sleep in a tomb, especially considering this isn’t his grave – he evicted some old bones to take the spot.

So we’re subverting both vampire lore and who’s the real monster here? But the zomb-pire still quips as he kills rather than showing some remorse. If you wanted to really drive it home, then Howard should be sad but powerless to resist eating this douchebag.

Dialogue is overblown and melodramatic. It doesn’t help make a scene tense when sentences are silly. Just try saying “You're the one who's wanting to kill me when you're tired of making me squirm on your hook” out loud. It’s like you translated it from another language. Yikes. (Maybe you did? Hopefully you can use ESL as an excuse.) It’s all wordy for wordiness sake. Try imagining it as a movie and recite the dialogue. Schlock has a style and sadly, you nailed it.

Same deal with contradictory descriptions like ‘liquid ice.’ Can’t be both.

Surmise is used a couple times in rapid succession, and it really stuck out to me. It’s a word that always sounds like a hundred dollar word whether you’re using it correctly or not.

Some punctuation errors, but small potatoes compared to the rest.

Carl Killer Miller
His Same Story

It’s really hard to write good detective scenes, and you gave yourself a problem with this looping business. It’s not capitalized until it is, then isn’t again. You use ‘loop’ to mean actual loops of rope right at the beginning. After a little confusion, I get the premise. Now on to a game of cat and mouse. But cops don’t work this way, resetting an interrogation is bad because the main tool they have is time. Wear you down, get you to slip up or make a mistake. Say something you didn’t mean to say.

There’s no point in starting questioning from the beginning each time.
If this were action man and Mr. Assassin’s Creed was trying to stop this arsonist, that would be different. Your device hurts you. And since they apparently have to drug the detainee and disallow lawyers, I guess there’s no due process in this world, so why go through all the sci-fi effort? Just beat it out of him or judge him Dredd-style.

The crime details are super vague, and I get that you want to dole them out, but it still doesn’t make sense. A cigarette after filling up your lawn mower is dumb but it could happen. Unfortunately, that can easily be claimed an accident. Super flimsy to get a murder one charge. (I don’t understand the too much leaf bit, does he enjoy smoking stems and filler?)

I don’t know if you just trimmed the entire middle out for word count or what, because you fast-forwarded through these clues by skipping some time loops. Might have salvaged the story if we saw each loop and where the detective succeeded and failed. He was beaten at the start by a suspect yelling at him. If this guy isn’t ‘rookie on the first day’ then he’s the worst detective I’ve ever seen. He’s not green, he says exactly that, so he’s just a crap investigator, and I’m baffled as to why he’s the one chosen for this experiment.

You might have gone a different way with the old hat competing with a rookie who has new methods, and that might have been interesting. Or a detective who doesn’t even realize he’s part of an experiment and works it out somehow by talking to the suspect. There are a couple twists that could have been neat, and instead you chose the most clichéd one: the suspect was actually running the test. Honestly, I don’t even understand this – there’s a reveal that the detective is being sedated against his will. But he’s a willing participant even if he’s grumpy about it, so why is this genius? If it was necessary for the testing, the other scientist dude would have already known about it. Oh, I re-read, it’s methadone and mephedrone, but my point still stands and now I guarantee some lucky reader has tried this combo of street drugs and not had the same effects as the hapless detective. I guess short-term memory loss is listed as a side effect of methadone, but if you’re not big into drug culture, make up your own drug names for weird science.

Another tip I have is about the similarity between character names: Cardenas and Campos. If I’m just reading a novel for pleasure, I might skim a little or tune out when I’m reading a crime novel, and it gets confusing when I’m a little glassy-eyed. Give your characters distinctly different names. It’ll help 99% of your readers.

There’s some sloppiness, like typing out the word ‘quote’ and “We rewound you. Both of you and everything else.” Tense mismatches and other errors run through it, so it reads amateurish. Could have used another proofing pass or three.

Quip: The only loop I want right now is a noose.

When you Know The Price

Sometimes a guy can be too scummy, and the price too low. I think I would have walked on ten grand when that guy said “you’re my whore.” And if he’s Warren Buffett rich, then he’s a cheapskate of the highest order and I would have negotiated a much higher price before ever showing up.

If Terry knew about the Russian roulette side bets, then Anton’s henchmen definitely do. I’m actually surprised that there wasn’t a bodyguard stationed outside the room.
I guess you wanted to make Terry the brains by working out the hanging bit, but Anton was just punched in the face hard enough to break his neck, then smothered. I guess a shattered face and shooting a guy counts as sexual experimentation, but when a boss gets offed by a call girl, it’s never the end of the story. As Anton’s ‘cleaner,’ I’d be way suspicious. It would have made more sense to just stage a robbery and in Anton’s dying moment he shot his assailant. A more believable scenario that might satisfy a lieutenant. All this sexual stuff raises more questions.

You may want to hide the internal thoughts of a Terry character until the twist is revealed. I’m in her headspace and thinking about the cocktail sauce seemed really weird and I was focused on that paragraph for quite a while until I gave up and got to the double cross and went “oh, OK.” After Mitch comes in and she has the upper hand it would have been a good moment for her to notice her shirt on the room service tray. Same with the trigger discipline bit. Hinting that she’s cool and collected dissolves the tension.

Why do people always have to get joy out of killing an old friend? Mitch is pulling the old triple cross, but he could have just done it for the money. He didn’t have to leer at her while doing it. I mean he only signed up to prank the guy, yet he ends up willing to murder two high school chums for less than half a mil. I mean, what was their prank going to be? Also, you can’t sucker punch someone when they’re charging at you. I think even the class bully would show remorse over breaking a nerd’s spine. Even a misogynistic pig nerd, but they just carry on like they’re professional crooks. The two pranksters were too smooth when things went wrong.

So I dunno, I could follow this just fine and wasn’t confused by any of the prose, but the characters were just murder machines. Follow up should be Sarah playing Russian roulette by herself at the reunion.

Quip: Oh look, here’s my noose.

Think and Wish

So uh, I don’t really understand this research program – wouldn’t someone tracking ice thickness be interested in conservation? I get that this particular person might be a human calculator, but the mandate to not interfere doesn’t really make any sense. If there wasn’t that brief mention of the cub just before, I would have thought this was a Star Trek prime directive scenario, not a human scientist.

I feel like this ended where it should have started. Math geek who never had a pet now has to deal with nursing a wild, and potentially dangerous, animal back to health under the nose of a cranky boss and you could call it Pet Sounds since she has a polar bear hidden in her kitchen when the boss makes a surprise inspection.

You have conflicting thoughts and actions with your main character. Even though she’s apparently a loner, she smiles, listens to fun music, has a sense of humor, and yet is worried about having a flawless record of not helping injured animals in the environment she’s studying. She only cares about the data.

Even her supervisor greets her with a “hey, girl!” This is not the greeting of someone who would be upset about saving a baby animal. Oh, this is a corporation? I thought it was a PhD program? I guess a corporate researcher who prides herself on learning nothing new for four years can still be a PhD candidate. Either way, bosses don’t tell you to relax by saying your co-workers have all violated protocols way worse than you have, least of all corporate overlords.

Smith Power Researchers – this whole job, by which Ramona defines herself, is confusing. Why is she measuring the ice? The antagonist is just a face on the screen who isn’t even upset, really. She just shrugs.

It’s so weird to have someone be afraid of doing something that is objectively good (if naïve), and have all other characters be opposed to it in what is ostensibly our modern world (and I looked up the Sloop John B lyrics, and I don’t get what’s so funny – there’s the ’I want to go home’ bit, but Ramona is home, she’s eschewed normal life for her secluded existence).

We empathize with Ramona, but the whole scenario is unrealistically contrived such that the entire world is against our hero.

And when a character thinks she’s flawless, don’t have another character blurt it out. Yeesh. Eyeroll.


This is a straightforward narrative. You open with a mention of a Rothko and it only gets worse from there. You could have played with form and constructed the narrative in some interesting way that would bring to mind abstract impressionism when reading. That might have made the subject matter more palatable.

Erin is totally unlikeable, and that makes the story a slog. The little girl doesn’t learn about ‘getting it’ before you embark on the snobbery game. She could have given a lesson to Holly about what art is supposed to do (that would have at least been interesting, especially when it’s a snooty hipster trying to relate to a kid), and instead it’s an introduction to being an rear end in a top hat.

It’s tough to talk about paintings without using pictures, but you could have at least given us more than a moment of blank peace. I don’t really want to go to a museum for the hope of getting zombified by the art. It should either challenge you, or make you marvel at the skill and craftsmanship. If you want bliss, the transcendent moment happens to a tertiary character, so we don’t get anything from the art you seem so in love with. Someone else does.

There are two scenes from movies that immediately spring to mind, that would work as a tight art-centered piece that you could have used as a template: When Cameron from Ferris Bueller sees the Seurat and gets drawn in realizing that the closer he gets to the painting, the emptier the faces become. The second is Godard’s Bande à Part where the kids run through the Louvre trying to break the record. One has deep meaning for the character; the other is an irreverent scene in a holy place. I would rather read about the stoner friends try to make meaning out of sloppily painted squares.

Near as I can tell, the arc is: snob takes kid to museum. Kid is bored. Snob doesn’t know how to explain art, but feeling superior is fun. Starts to worry that maybe people do get it, then at the last second: phew, I’m still better than these rubes. Rather than let Holly witness another kid experience something, the snob game overshadows it. It’s vile.

And the eyebrows – I guess that’s an Emelia Clarke reference? I’m not sure if she’s jealous or wants to pluck the kid, but it’s weird.

You avoided a DM by the skin of your teeth. I am told you were trying something here. Your prose wasn't confusing, but I hated every word of it. Maybe I even took away the opposite meaning that you intended, but I've read it a few times and there's no joy nor playfulness in the game.

Why would I want to read anything about a cynic in the traditional Greek sense that doesn’t teach me a drat thing about the subject and embraces the snobbery? I am angry that I had to read it, and not only do I hate Rothko even more, I hate squares and colors now, too.


I’m not much for Hallmark stories, but this is well constructed and clear. The sweet relief of going in to the light is something I’m dreaming about right now.
The little stream-of-consciousness interludes sound like actual thoughts. Becca and Annie are well defined and contrasted.

The Morse code tapper is a cheesy, but nice device and it helps fill in the detail of this friendship. What’s more, it actually gets used to add some characterization. If I were writing it, maybe the only thing I would have done differently was had the beeps of the monitor do the Morse code rather than pounding on the wall, but that’s really me just trying to find something to suggest.

It’s a nice little piece, and like a friendly ghost or an old trucker, it gets to go to heaven.

:siren: Week 207 Winner – ICU by SurreptitiousMuffin :siren:

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 20:46 on Jul 25, 2016

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
Well done with the crits, and thanks for the judging!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Jan 27, 2006
Week 207 crits – Bottle Episode week

It was bit of a rough week, but not the worst I’ve ever judged. I both read and critted all of these in judgemode. Then later I went back to match names with story titles. When I write “where you lost me,” that doesn’t mean I stopped reading there, it means that’s where I began to dislike the story.

1. Parlour Delivery – terre packet

-Opening sentence captured my attention. Good job with that.

-The glib humor of your opening paragraph sets an appropriately amusing tone.

-“gave Devin a frustrated look” – It would be even better if you showed me specifically how his face contorted to express frustration, rather than just told me it was a frustrated look.

-Who is Erin, why does Marie resemble her, and what relevance does any of this have to your story? It really detracts from your piece that you drop this relationship loose end, but never tie it up or integrate it with the rest of the story.

-“It heaved clerks, filing cabinets, crests of paper toward Mr. Wisely and Devin” – Uhhh, who is Mr. Wisely? It’s the end of your story and yet this name appears for the first time.

-I get that your story is a comedy and we readers are supposed to suspend our disbelief, but that suspension has its limits. Your story crosses those limits. The idea of an office that gets repeatedly impacted by incoming offices is more funny-strange than funny-haha, though I think with more carefully planned outlining, you might’ve pulled it off.

-The biggest problem with your story is the randomness. Things just happen for no apparent reason, like the Erin/Marie connection, the boss being a spider, and the boss cocoon-transporting Devin rather than letting him use a more conventional route. It helps when readers have a clearer sense of an author’s reasons behind adding flourishes like this to a story. The arbitrary nature of the story reads to me like you were kinda just winging it.

Where you lost me: The second crash.

Vote: Loss

2. Presence – sparksbloom

-The idea of a bottle episode seems to imply a full story rather than a vignette.

-This story has a rather pretentious air to it, and neither character is especially likable.

-It’s really tough to crit this, because it’s so-so as a vignette. If you’re going to stick to just describing one quick scene, it’s nice for that one scene to be remarkable in some way. Maybe we get a glimpse of some compelling characters, maybe there is an extraordinary premise, or maybe the prose is especially illustrative in depicting a setting. At first, I questioned whether this would take a sci-fi turn because of the “stasis” metaphor at the beginning. But your vignette is a rather mundane trip to the MOMA. There’s not much glaringly wrong with it. Just that this is a contest and if you wanted to compete, you needed to have something stand out.

Where you lost me: Nowhere in particular.

3. Old Truckers Never Die, They Just Drive Their Rigs Straight Up the Stairway to Heaven – dmboogie

-Great opening paragraph. You establishing the narrator’s voice well. You also make me care about Molly by pointing out how the trucking industry exploits its drivers, especially older ones.

-My interpretation is that Molly is never actually sleeping here, but is plagued by hallucinations due to sleep-deprivation.

-You do a good job of mood-setting here. I can feel the crushing weight of Molly’s circumstances and insecurities, as expressed through her hallucinations.

-The ending seems appropriate. Molly can only drive right through her hardships, and if the road is her only friend then maybe the problems of the road can stifle her personal problems. It’s a sad outcome, a lovely life on the road eclipsing a lovely life off the road, but it fits well with the tone of the piece. Good job.

Where you lost me: You didn’t.

Voted: HM

4. Predator and prey – Screaming Idiot

-The issue with this story is that I must have read it a thousand times by now. That is, the “what if the vampire is the real victim” angle has been done so much it is now cliché. Here you have all the tropes: the smug and overzealous vampire hunter, a vampire who can’t help his own nature and who warns the hunter of what’s to come. The reader does somewhat feel for Howard, and Richard seems to have had it coming, but sadly the story is too worn really to have punch. On the plus side, you hit the prompt on the head, so pat yourself on the back for that.

Where you lost me: The premise, sorry to say.

5. His Same Story – Carl Killer Miller

-A couple proofreading errors, missing quotes, etc.

-There are six loops, but other than Cardenas getting progressively more tired, I’m not sure what each individual loop accomplishes above and beyond the previous ones.

-This story works okay I guess. It keeps the reader going through a little bit of mystery. I found myself compelled to continue on in order to find out whether Gold committed the murders, as well as to learn about looping. The twist is predictable, but it does flesh out the concept of looping in an appropriate way. Grading on a curve this week, I thought you did a middling job. But the other judges have very legitimate gripes with the story, with which I cannot disagree.

Where you lost me: You didn’t.

6. When you Know The Price – Thranguy

-“ ‘Interesting,’ said Anton. ‘Back in high school I always thought that she was, of the two of you, the more whoreish.’ ” – Lol, real charmer that Anton.

-The writing feels rather adolescent.

-Anton was so rich he could have potentially gotten away with secreting away a Russian roulette victim’s body away from a hotel room?

-“He looked wrong.” – Ehh…real descriptive, pal.

-“Anton leaped up, springing off the bed with rage in his eyes. He charged at Mitch, arms flailing.” – Odd that Anton has decided to attack Mitch just for showing up unexpectedly. How would Anton know at this point that Mitch was aiming to rob him? And since Anton has decided to attack Mitch, why isn’t he using the gun, at least as a threat if not for real?

-If the story is modern enough to have hotel key cards, wouldn’t the hotel also have surveillance video? Seems like Mitch and Terry would have to do more than make it look like a suicide in order to try to get away with murdering Anton. They would probably have been seen entering and leaving the building, and maybe even in the corridor outside Anton’s room, wouldn’t they?

-Vonnegut had this informal rule of writing: give the reader someone to root for. He himself used to violate it on occasion, but I found myself wishing that one of your characters was likeable or at least relatable in some way.

-So the creepy rich pervert and the high school thug end up the victims, and the duplicitous “whore” (your word) gets away. Frankly, this story rubs me the wrong way. It’s outlandish, puerile, has hints of misogyny, and is poorly thought out.

-Still don’t know who you are at the time of this writing, but I’m going to assume you’re newish to TD. Please stick around and develop your craft. I’ve been harsh with this crit, but to be fair I’ve written stories way worse than yours. Keep at it!

Voted: DM or Loss

Where you lost me: At Russian roulette.

7. ICU – SurreptitiousMuffin

-Some proofreading errors. “she [was] covered in bruises, with some sorta life-support jammed down her throat…”; “The words weren’t received, of course the[y] weren’t.”

-The prose is beautifully written, descriptive, and poetic.

-Great job. The story is sweet, but not cloying. You succeeded at making me care about these characters. I find an example of this kind of friendship to be comforting. My OCD won’t let me ignore those proofreading errors, but apart from that the story is well done.

Where you lost me: You didn’t.

Voted: Win

8. Think and Wish – Chili

-Not bad. I like how you demonstrate that Ramona is feeling guilty because of two opposing values, being an ideal scientist vs being a good person. I empathize with Ramona’s guilt, which tells me that you succeeded in communicating her internal conflict. The ending works for me as well; I’m glad you gave it a clear resolution.

-My only criticism is how “easy” the conflict is. Ramona has to make a decision. So she does. End of story. As such, there isn’t much to make for an appreciable climax or to make the story memorable. Still, it was in the top half of stories this week, IMO.

Where you lost me: You didn’t.

Feb 25, 2014

Mar 21, 2010
:siren: Week CCVIII: Upper-Class Tweet of the Year :siren:

Where would we be without Twitter? Probably in a very similar place, but knowing slightly less about what famous people are thinking on the toilet. This week, you're being given your choice of two twitter bots and an inspirational quote mangler - you need to take a single ridiculous quote from one of these accounts, then turn it into a story. Your choices are:

1) Inspirobot
2) Magical Realism Bot
3) Erowid Recruiter

Please post your quote when you sign up. It doesn't need to inform every single aspect of your story, but it does need to be obvious how you got to the story from there.

Word Count: 1000
Signups: 29th of July, 11:59pm EST
Deadline: August 1st 11:59pm EST

Judges: SMuffin,Thranguy, Chili

spectres of autism: The ghost of a child visits a small town in Colorado. On All Hallow's Eve it places spiders into every little girl's mind
flerp: in Seattle there is an orchid with the power to create the future
Sitting Here: in Seattle there is an orchid with the power to create the future
terre packet: Just because you’re a cyborg, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not last
sebmojo: we're building a virtualization layer on top of my limbs :toxx:
Jonked: Life at Techshed includes company ski trips, wine tastings, beer Fridays, and work-abroad opportunities like our company trip to happyville. :toxx:
steeltoedsneakers: our office is in full swing, and unfortunately, I find that terrifying.
Carl Killer Miller: Next Step: Please let me know if this grotesque pile of waste is coming from me
Boaz-Jachim: Goblins, Murgos, Viashinos, Skull Bearers, Trolls, Gnolls, and a team that’s as passionate as you
a friendly penguin: a witch is chewing gum is a golden meadow
Some Strange Flea: Duty - What you must always do destroys a window to eternity
Ceighk: Frustrated, I jello-walked back to the next generation payment platform.
The Cut of Your Jib: There is a lighthouse in St Petersburg that is infinitely large.
CANNIBAL GIRLS: A factory in Baltimore produces vast quantities of dismal failure. :toxx:
LITERALLY MY FETISH: An entrepreneur is murdered. The murderer turns out to be Alice in Wonderland.
tunapirate: A croissant suddenly appears beside you. It has escaped from a panopticon in Bangkok.
Screaming Idiot: no demons, no hellfire or brimstone, just a straightforward, hyperbole-free recruitment message about mythical/demonic/spiritual creatures.
Ironic Twist: A girl has a terrible headache. A doctor informs her there is a sundial inside her hippocampus.
QuoProQuid: Housewives are housewives because of <<them>>. :toxx:
Kaishai: a yew tree whispers to an archivist: "I feel so scared".
starr: an angel is singing in a glass labyrinth. :toxx:

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at 05:39 on Jul 30, 2016

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo
in w "The ghost of a child visits a small town in Colorado. On All Hallow's Eve it places spiders into every little girl's mind." from @magicalrealismbot

Feb 25, 2014
in with

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Just a reminder, TD's birthday is August 5th. So whoever wins this week should I dunno, make sure next week's prompt is actually good??

dammit that will never happen, i guess i better be in with--

OH WTF YOU rear end in a top hat

can I fight flerp for this prompt so that the honor of my fair city isn't besmirched?

Mar 21, 2010

Sitting Here posted:

can I fight flerp for this prompt so that the honor of my fair city isn't besmirched?
Cannot lah.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

im gonna do it. I'm going to use that prompt. eat my shorts. I'll take a 500 word penalty in exchange.

Mar 21, 2010

Sitting Here posted:

im gonna do it. I'm going to use that prompt. eat my shorts. I'll take a 500 word penalty in exchange.
600 word penalty.

Feb 25, 2014
cant wait to read 400 words of sad girl in seattle

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

600 word penalty.

The head judge is fair and wise

flerp posted:

cant wait to read 400 words of sad girl in seattle

lol as if you read

Feb 25, 2014

Sitting Here posted:

lol as if you read

*nods slowly* it looks im the one thats been owned

Mar 21, 2010

flerp posted:

*nods slowly* it looks im the one thats been owned
Lol -600 words

Nov 24, 2007
Thanks for the crits! I'm in for this week too.

“Just because you’re a cyborg, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not last”, from InspiroBot.

Feb 25, 2014

flerp posted:

*nods slowly* it looks im the one thats been owned

Mar 21, 2010
FLASH RULE: we like trash talk in the 'dome, but this poo poo is weak. Any entrant this week (except SH and Flerp, who are locked in mortal combat) may earn +140 words for dropping a sickass burn on another entrant but BEWARE, if your burn is weak, you lose 140 words. Your burn must be 140 characters or less, and be posted in the thread (not in your story).

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at 00:15 on Jul 26, 2016


take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo

terre packet posted:

Thanks for the crits! I'm in for this week too.

“Just because you’re a cyborg, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not last”, from InspiroBot.

u had no trouble being last last week

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