A factory in Baltimore produces vast quantities of dismal failure.
There’s a facility in Baltimore that hides amongst the scabs of ruined industry. Its facade is crumbling- the doors and fencework, rusting; however, inside, the machines are stainless steel and they’re polished and they hum delightedly as they blanket the Mid-Atlantic in catastrophe.
Hollis works a graveyard shift with a man named Kilroy. There’s a machine that vomits cigar tubes onto a conveyer belt and fills the room with the smell of ozone. The vials are filled with colored vapor, and when they pass, Hollis checks the label to ensure that the appropriate type of failure has been bottled. Romantic, medical, political, each type of failure has distinct characteristics. Kilroy double checks the recipient’s address and identity, and they do this for eight hours at a time to take home a living wage.
“Mind if I sneak out of here early?” Hollis asks. “Got a big test in the afternoon and I’d love to be able to sleep and study beforehand.”
Kilroy smiles through gapped teeth. “Aren’t you studying business, newbie?” he asks, “you been studying here for the past seven months.”
“And you’ve been studying for ten years,” Hollis says, “but you’re still a dumbass.”
Kilroy is laughing when the conveyor stops.
Their manager is a short fellow with a stilted walk named Langstrom. He calls them into his office, and two replacements fill in.
“Your manifest from yesterday was one incident short,” Langstrom says. “Looks like a massive financial loss that never reached atomization.”
“Have you checked in distribution?” Kilroy asks.
Langstrom takes a long sip of his iced tea. “Distribution doesn’t retain incidents overnight,” he says, “janitorial didn’t have anything either.”
The men are silent.
“I even checked the recipient,” Langstrom adds, “Jennifer Shiba. That name mean anything to you, Hollis?”
“Not the foggiest.”
“I’m not so sure,” Langstrom says, “but the background checks that I ran showed no connection between Shiba to either of you. It’s the only reason you’re here right now instead of out on your asses, or worse.”
Hollis’ heart feels like a spinning centrifuge in his chest, but before he has the opportunity to panic and say something stupid, Kilroy asks, “So why are we here then?”
“You’re here,” Langstrom says, “because I like the both of you. But we make failure, we don’t tolerate it. If Jessica Shiba doesn’t experience a significant financial loss soon, the big boss will take notice, and I won’t be able to protect you.”
“Why not just run the order again?” Hollis asks.
“It doesn’t work like that;” Langstrom says, “there are no do-overs.” He flicks a pad of post-it notes across the desk and there’s an address scrawled across the topmost sheet. “But I’m sure you can figure something out.”
“Why’d you take it?” Hollis asks. He cracks the window and lights a cigarette as Kilroy pulls the car beside the gas pump and gets out. His boots clomp against the concrete as he moves behind the car, pops the trunk, and begins to dig.
“Does it matter?” Kilroy asks.
“If you were planning on using it.”
Kilroy fills a can with gasoline, recoiling at the stringent fumes as they escape the spout and zigzag up his nostrils.
“Well I’m not going to use it on you, if that’s what you’re getting at.”
“I wasn’t expecting you to,” Hollis says. “But-”
Kilroy cuts in, “Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to use it.”
“Then why’d you take it?
Kilroy places the gas can in the backseat and slams the door closed.
Kilroy parks the car three houses down from Shiba’s address.
“I don’t know why I took it,” Kilroy says. “Call it boredom, I guess. Anyway, it’s mine now.” He continues, “For what it’s worth, you’ll be taking that test in twelve hours and back to work in eighteen.”
“Do you have the vial?” Hollis asks.
“Glove compartment,” Kilroy says.
Hollis plucks the tube from a nest of papers. Inside, emerald smoke swirls against the glass like a rolling fog and a dusting of particulates gather in the basin of the vial.
“I think you should use it,” Hollis says, “tonight.”
Kilroy reaches into the back and grabs the can.
“I’m just saying,” Hollis continues, “that there are ripples. This vial is what should have been. If you go starting fires, or using this later then-”
Kilroy snatches the tube from Hollis’ grasp. “How do you know what’s supposed to be?” He asks. “You heard Langstrom. Financial loss is financial loss; it’s all the same.” Kilroy opens the door and steps out into the balmy night. He leans through the open window and tosses the tube onto the seat. “Besides, we don’t even know if it’s possible to use the thing.” Hollis slides it into his pocket when Kilroy’s back is turned.
The suburbs are quiet, save for a barking dog inside one of the neighbor’s houses. Hollis and Kilroy move quickly and quietly, and the animal settles after they pass.
The houses in the neighborhood are stately colonial things with black painted shutters and front doors. “We doing the car?” Hollis asks.
Kilroy shakes his head and begins to douse the porch and hedges in gasoline. When he’s done, Hollis hammers the lighter and tosses it into the bushes. The building sounds as if it’s exhaling as the flames spread and light the place in orange. They run.
“Where’s the tube?” Kilroy asks when they get back to the car.
“It-” Hollis starts.
“Just give it to me, Hollis.”
“The tube’s gone,” Hollis says.
Kilroy’s still holding the gas can when he marches around the vehicle. “Where’d it go?” He asks.
“You know where it went,” Hollis says, nodding in the direction of the fire. “I’m sorry.”
Kilroy swings the gas can and catches Hollis across the face, sending him hard towards the asphalt. Kilroy can hear the sirens on the distance; Hollis can hear the shattering of brittle glass within his pocket.
They both hear the ignition roll over.
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 00:40|
|# ? Sep 22, 2021 17:08|
Prompt: no demons, no hellfire or brimstone, just a straightforward, hyperbole-free recruiting message about mythical/demonic/spiritual creatures
"Welcome!" said the Devil.
The room was sparsely-furnished and smelled faintly of dust and floor polish. One side of the room held a long plastic table with a small cooler half-filled with lukewarm water with cans of diet soda resting at the bottom like old suicides. Next to the case lay packages of generic sandwich cookies -- opened, stale -- and a heap of peanut butter crackers, old and broken in their wrappers. One of the fluorescent lights above flickered and a fly buzzed purposelessly about. In the center of the room was a ring of chairs, the sort designed to be easily folded away with the pesky necessity of the sitter's comfort conveniently ignored. The air conditioner made a terrific racket without actually cooling the room. In fact, it raised the temperature by a few degrees.
"I've come for the gift card." Miles held up the pink flyer which proclaimed "SELF-ACTUALIZATION SEMINAR!!! FREE SNAX AND $20 DOLLAR GIFT CARD DOOR PRIZE!! 1ST COME FIRST SERVE!!!" in bold Comic Sans.
"Oh," said the Devil, a bit deflated. "Well, you'll have to listen to me first. Have a seat, grab a soda and some snacks. There's plenty."
Miles looked at the table. The fly landed on one of the stale cookies, walked about a bit, then flew away, disinterested.
"No thanks," Miles said. He sat down.
The Devil looked hopefully to the door, sighed, then looked back at Miles. "First, let me introduce myself: I am Lucifer, the Morning Star, the Outcast Angel, the Fallen One. My titles are many and my influence knows no limit. I have whispered into the ears of kings-"
"I think I will have a soda, actually."
The Devil waited while Miles got up and snagged a diet Sam's Choice cola from the cooler, popped the top, and sipped with a cringe.
"Yes, I know they're warm, I've been waiting here all day." The Devil grumbled, then cleared his throat. "Since you're the only one in this apartment complex with the wisdom to seek me, I will offer you-"
"I'm not really interested," Miles said, voice as flat as his cola. "Look, if we could just skip to the gift card, I'd be grateful-"
"You will sit here and you will listen to me!" The Devil roared, his voice like a thunderclap, his eyes smoldering.
"As long as we can keep it short. I need to pick up some cat food." Miles sipped. "For my cat."
The Devil narrowed his eyes, then wilted. "Look, I'll level with you -- no demons, no hellfire or brimstone, just a hyperbole-free recruiting message. I want you, Miles Ellis-"
Miles choked on his soda, partially out of surprise. "How'd you know my name?"
"I'm the Devil," said the Devil.
"Oh," said Miles.
"I want you, Miles Ellis, to join me, to spread word of my power. For every soul you can convert, you will be given-"
"Does this mean you want my soul too?"
"Yes. I'm the Devil," said the Devil.
Miles frowned. "I don't believe in souls. I'm an atheist, I'm afraid."
The Devil stroked his goatee and smiled toothily, unaware of the fragment of cookie clinging to the corner of his mouth and the crumbs on his black turtleneck sweater. "That's fine. Sure, you people are ruining everything for us, but hey, if you give me something you don't believe you have, you come out on top. So what do you say?"
"Still doesn't feel right." Miles took another sip of his soda and cringed.
"Okay, fine, don't give me your soul," the Devil said. "If you can get me the souls of others, though, and get them to gathering souls for me-"
"Are you with Cutco or Amway?" Miles's voice went low, and embers flickered in his eyes.
"No! God, no!" The Devil sighed. "Good organizations, though. drat good. Wish I'd thought of them myself."
Miles got up and threw the half-empty can into the trash can, and the Devil winced because there wasn't a bag in it and he'd have to clean it or he wouldn't get his deposit back on the room.
"Sorry, but I don't see myself being a part of this. Can I have my gift card now?" Miles held out his hand.
The Devil glared and dug into his fanny pack, pulling out a small paper envelope. He sniffled and handed it to Miles with bad grace. "Here!" And then a bit more kindly, "And have a soda and a pack of crackers for the road."
Miles slipped the envelope into his pocket and took neither cracker nor soda, intent for the door.
The Devil got to his feet and grabbed a broom from the corner. "Say, you don't want to help me clean up, do you?"
Miles exited the building, where he breathed in the hot summer air with relief, the smell of rain thick. Clouds gathered above and blocked the sunlight while in the distance thunder rolled.
Miles reached into his pocket as he walked back to his apartment and pulled out the envelope. Quivering fingers tore it open and with burgeoning horror he laid eyes upon the ancient lettering on the dread relic within.
"BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO," it read.
Miles fell to his knees and roared at the heavens as the clouds burst open and showered him with mournful tears. In the deep, booming thunder Miles heard the Devil's mirth.
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 01:52|
I'm out this week.
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 02:19|
There is a lighthouse in St Petersburg that is infinitely large.
The onion-domes of the cathedrals gleamed with all the joy of the confectioner’s shop window, jars filled with swirling sweets every color of the rainbow, paralyzing in their enticement, each crying out to be the one that finally pries that acrid kopek from sweaty clutches. The monolith loomed over all, a licorice whip that rose beyond the clouds, a gap in the smile of the heavens.
Vasily Veronin selection was made long ago. For him, choice was an illusion, a distraction. It was only a matter of waiting until he was old enough to appreciate the pungency of the aniseed. Now, it was time.
Never before had he been this close. As a child, it was always on the horizon, just out of reach. Here he stood, staring at a sable sky, the tower stretching beyond sight in all directions, a void that might be the edge of the world. With a determined breath, he stepped through.
Within arms reach dangled a rope, its strands spiraling upward until it faded from vision. He spun around, but the rope was always in front of him, waiting, beckoning. Beyond it and below him was darkness.
He climbed. The rope creaked as though it moored the last vessel in the harbor awaiting its turn in drydock. High above, a single pinprick of light betrayed the umbra of this obelisk, a camera obscura that might reveal the face of God.
Hours melted away as he shimmied ever upward. When he felt his consciousness abandon him, he locked his arms and legs around the rope and slept.
Drip, drip, drip. Droplets of water bounced off the top of his head. He brushed them away. Drip, drip, drip, they continued. The annoyance startled him into wakefulness and he snatched at the droplets only to catch something more corporeal, a hand, outstretched finger tapping on his head.
There was a quiet yelp above him as the hand was yanked away, and he looked up to stare into human eyes only inches away from his own. The woman was upside down, as though she had abseiled face-first from heaven. Both clung tightly to the rope, postures reflected like the polished surface of a placid pool.
She spoke, her utterances sharp and foreign. English, he thought. He shrugged and shook his head. “Do you speak Russian,” he asked, and she too shook her head.
Vasily pointed toward the light in the distance past her feet. She looked in the direction of his gesture, at the warm pinpoint, then gestured past his feet in turn. Far below, a tiny glow flickered like a faraway star, same as the one he climbed towards. Impossible. He knew where he came from, and the start was dark.
His face snapped back to hers, and she met his panicked gaze with a thin smile. “I’m Molly Mitchell,” she whispered, and from somewhere deep inside, Vasily understood.
“Ever since I was small,” he said, “I’ve been drawn to this place. Why? Do you know what it is?”
Molly pursed her lips. “Slow down. What’s your name?”
“We seem to be at an impasse, Vasily Veronin. You’re in my way, and I’m in yours.”
“You could climb down over me.”
“If I fell, would you catch me? I might pull you off the rope.”
His gaze flicked down to catch a glimpse of the abyss. “What if I’m going the wrong way? Perhaps I need to climb down with you.”
“I’m climbing up,” she said.
Vasily pressed his forehead against the rope, eyes clenched..
Molly asked, “What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know,” he huffed. The coarse weave bit into his palms and fingertips. He tried to calm his quickened breath.
Molly’s voice was cool as she reminisced, “I’ve always seen this lighthouse. So bright it used to keep me up at night, sometimes. And when I’d ask about it, my mother would say that’s the sun, or that’s the moon. Eventually, I realized that they couldn’t see it. No one could. But there it was, always on the coast. Always lighting the harbor.”
“But it’s black, a giant shadow, a great nothingness,” Vasily interrupted.
“Not to me.”
He looked up. Her face softened, and crinkles formed at the corners of her pale eyes as she smiled. For a moment, she looked very old.
Vasily’s throat caught, and tears welled. Soon they were flowing freely, warm streams trickling up his forehead, through a few soft curls of shaggy hair, droplets forming before splashing up on to Molly’s kind face.
He struggled with the words, “I’m the one who’s upside-down.”
“It doesn’t matter.” She smirked a little. “You don’t need to hold the rope so tightly.”
He laughed as he snuffled, brushing the tears away with his sleeve. “I’m glad to know you, Molly Mitchell.”
“You too, Vasily Veronin.” Her eyes were steady as he let go of the rope.
The light that was so distant only a moment ago converged upon him in a torrent of lemon drops and peppermint starlights, popping candy crackling, swirls and sparkles and haloes rippling around him. He stretched and twisted to boardwalk taffy.
The world was at once clear and brittle, snapping cinnamon hard-crack, and thick, malleable caramel. It was all the same, just a little nudge here and there and transformation. Something new, ready to be put on display in a fresh glass jar, some spangly treat to sate the appetite or whet it for more.
He saw potentials, bubbling and boiling syrup waiting to be molded to his whims and flights of fancy. It could be anything, and his giddiness was on the cusp of overwhelming. As illuminated possibilities folded in and enveloped him, Vasily Veronin knew one thing for certain, he was done with licorice.
Through it all, he saw a gleaming smile, rays reflecting and refracting through him. Molly Mitchell let go of the rope, arms outstretched, satisfied. She had found the lighthouse and made it even brighter.
***I'll be without internet until August 3rd, CarlKillerMiller will post my next prompt, in the unlikely event that I win the throne. If the winner wants a cake/birthday themed prompt, contact him. Winner is free to modify it.***
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 02:36|
Submission deadline was supposed to be in about 20 mins, but I hosed up and I understand if people thought they had an extra day; I'm extending the deadline a full 24 hours so nobody gets caught out. Submitting before the earlier deadline (imminent) is awesome and makes me like you a lot, but it's not mandatory.
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 03:42|
Words of Wood and Blood
Quote: A yew tree whispers to an archivist: "I feel so scared."
Hoofbeats on the forest path were Ansiel's first warning of visitors: the young king and his guards, their horses' coats dark with sweat. The king studied Ansiel, noticing--no doubt of it--his ink-stained cuffs and twig-snagged hair. "You are the Archivist?"
Ansiel bowed. "I am, Majesty."
"I want to know the long-term causes of this war with Corroba, the entire history of our countries' relationship."
Ansiel led the men deep into the Archive wood, beyond broad, towering oaks and fat yews that had gone silent in the presence of strangers. The particular yew Ansiel sought lived a mile in, close to the forest's heart, within sight of an enormous stump marked by words. The tree's lowest boughs curved toward the loam, and Ansiel touched one. Its needles rustled to acknowledge him. "Tell us of Corroba," he said, and the whispering began.
The history trees remembered all they'd been told in the thousands of years they had lived. They held the names and sins of monarchs past. They remembered the count of dead on a battlefield long after Time had chewed the written tally to dust. This yew had told Ansiel about diplomatic decisions made ages before his birth, and it relayed them now by shaping the air that blew through its arms into a slow, soft voice that Ansiel loved.
The king, however, started pacing half an hour into the recital. "My time is short. I'll come back in three days for a report my advisors can read." He stopped beside the word-scarred stump. "What happened here?"
Thank you, Ansiel told the yew with a gentle tap on its branch. "Lightning, Majesty. A sore loss."
"We still have the knowledge, I believe," the king said. "Three days. Remember."
Ansiel brought his blanket and writing board, bread and lantern, vellum and ink to the foot of the yew and bent his whole mind to the king's order, yet the tree's murmur couldn't be hurried. He filled his pages with small script. He slept for only an hour here and there. On the third day, his report was nevertheless incomplete, and ice sat in his belly.
The king brought more men with him on his return visit. "No matter," he said, pushing Ansiel's unfinished work back into his hands. "My grandfather showed me when I was a boy what was done with the dead tree, the pages made from its pulp and the words they already contained. These men will get me what I need."
They carried axes.
Ansiel threw himself in front of the shivering yew, but a woodcutter grabbed his arms, pulled him to the side, and held him there to watch as limbs were chopped away. The tree screamed while it had the boughs to do it. Its killers shuddered and cut faster, reducing thousands of years to lumber. Sap rose to the surface of the exposed wood in the form of meaningless fragments: Corroba--landslide killed--economic factors--seven dukes voted against--
It took hours. In the end Ansiel heard the head woodcutter mutter to the king, "It'll take so long to haul all this home, treat it, and press it that you won't gain any time, sire. I say it again. This is pointless."
"I've no choice now." The king turned and gestured for Ansiel to be released. Ansiel's arms ached, but the tears on his face were for a different pain. "You'll have a copy of the book," the king said, discomfort changing his tone.
What did it matter? The king rode away, and his men loaded the yew's corpse onto sledges, and Ansiel was left with a raw stump and hundreds of silent trees that didn't answer when he touched them, begged them to speak. If they never spoke again, he couldn't blame them. So long a life, ended so needlessly. Nor would men remember the yew.
A new shipment of vellum arrived at his house in the morning, the crates stamped with the royal seal. Ansiel hunched over the pages, writing his memories of all the Archive's trees. The words seemed dull and inadequate to him. More than that, he began to wonder who would remember the calf on whose skin he wrote.
Only one material could tell the world all he knew of the trees. Only one would answer the yew's sacrifice with like kind. Only one would be payment for his failure. The knife he used to scrape parchment was thankfully keen.
It sliced a thinner sheet than Ansiel had imagined possible from his left thigh, and the blood that spilled clung to the skin as words describing sinuous boughs and flickering moonlight. The skin of his left arm conveyed the leaf-and-needle chorus. His stomach told of acorns eaten and planted: the saplings that would remember tomorrow. Yet there was more. He pared himself down in layers until muscle replaced epidermis, and the histories went on.
There was pain, of course; there was agony while he still had flesh, but the more he cut, the less he felt, until his mind was free to read. Then his native fascination carried him through.
He had to stop at the last and gather the pages in what remained of his arms. The ink was red; his bones were white. Ansiel stumbled to the Archive's heart, to the stump of the yew, and laid his book there--for the next Archivist and perhaps the next after, short-lived humans all.
Collapsing to the loam, Ansiel closed his eyes. Slow, soft voices whispered above him, telling each other his story.
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 03:59|
Happyville, 871 words
Life at Techshed includes company ski trips, wine tastings, beer Fridays, and work-abroad opportunities like our company trip to happyville.
"Haven't you noticed, Frank? It happens every single time. People go off to that retreat, and they come back... different. Weirdly into the whole corporate culture," Eddy said quietly.
Frank swiveled around in his chair and looked at his cubicle mate. "I notice everyone who goes off to Happyville gets a promotion when they come back. Everyone. You think I'm turning that down, Eddy?"
"Like Kowalski?" Eddy said, tilting his head towards the Sales Accounts manager. "He's got a loving Masters, man. Why the hell is he still working a job like that? Hell, I'm more qualified for that job."
"Maybe he likes the benefits," Frank replied without much conviction.
"Maybe. Or maybe it has something to do that that weird hunted look he has in his eyes all the time. Like he's freaking out about something and trying to put up a strong front," Eddy said. He loved conspiracy theories, nothing in the world gave him more pleasure.
"Quiet now," Frank replied.
Kowalski was sauntering over, awkwardly, like someone who was supposed to act casual in a high school play. His grin was a little too wide, but the smile didn't reach his eyes. No, Frank couldn't help but notice his hunted eyes. Kowalski draped his arm over the wall of a cubicle in a way that seemed odd and slightly uncomfortable. "Afternoon, fellas! Looking forward to end of the work week? Ha, T.G.I.F., am I right or what!"
"Sure am, sir," Frank replied. "Just finishing up a few things."
"Say, Frank! Didn't I hear that you got invited to Happyville with the rest of the veeps? Must be exciting, but don't have too much fun!" Kowalski tried to give a conspiratorial wink, but ended up just blinking slightly out of sync.
"Y-yeah, I'm going. Mister Anders thought it would be good for me..." Frank said, trying to smile back.
"Hey, you know the corporate motto - "What's good for me is good for the company!" See you there!" Kowalski made a clicking noise and pointed a finger gun at Frank, and then did his strange awkward saunter off.
"I'm telling you man, don't go," Eddy whispered. "Seriously, that's not normal behavior."
"That's because Kowalski isn't normal. Maybe that's why he can't find a job anywhere else. See you on Monday, Eddy."
"Frank! So glad you decided to join us."
"Thanks, Mister Anders, I'm-" Frank started.
"Frank, Frank, Frank! No need for formality! You're among friends here. Call me Jacob, and let me introduce you to my friend Marcus here." Mister Anders - Jacob - had a wide grin on his face... but those same dead eyes as Kowalski. But Frank's attention moved away from that as he realized who 'Marcus' was.
"Mister Arcuras! It's a real honor, sir." Frank shook the offered hand.
"Call me Marcus, Frank! Here at Happyville, I'm not your CEO, I'm your friend. Isn't that right Jacob?"
"That's right, Marcus," Jacob replied. "But a few things first before we start this lovely weekend. Friends don't record friends having fun, you know, maintain our professional reputations. So if you could just put your personal belongings over in that locker there..."
The room was bare, with concrete walls and a heavy door. Frank was sitting in the middle of the room in a hard metal chair, with a single light hanging above him.
"What the hell...?" Frank tried to say, but instead all that came out was strange mumbles. There was something on his shirt... vomit, probably. He didn't remember that, or how he ended up here. His mouth was dry, and his head felt like it was full of cotton. For some reason, his eyes refused to focus.
Marcus opened the steel door and entered, followed by Jacob pushing a TV cart. Neither man was smiling.
"Good morning, Frank. Not feeling so good, are we?" Marcus said, his voice a mixture of smug and contempt. He handed Frank a water bottle, and the young man quickly gulped it down.
"What... what happened?" Frank managed to croak out.
Jacob pressed play, a hazy low grade video started playing. Frank realized he was watching himself, probably from last night.
"We drugged you. Apropril, a bit popular as a date rape drug, very illegal in the US. Makes you very suggestible." On the screen, Frank appeared to partying hard. Like a cliche, he was snorting cocaine off the rear end of, presumably, a prostitute.
"We got it all on video, Frank. And we'll use it if you ever stop being a good, loyal TechShop employee. We'll send it to your family, job recruiters, anybody and everybody. It's blackmail, Frank, and now we own you. You work for TechShop - and only TechShop." Marcus leaned in real close, and gave a predatory grin. "What do you say to that, friend?"
The action on the TV had proceeded - the prostitution didn't seem to be a willing participant.
"All of this... is just to keep quality workers?" Frank asked. "Jesus, I'm so relieved. I thought you were a cult or something."
"You...what? And you still came?" Marcus asked, perplexed.
"It's a tough job market out there," Frank replied with a shrug. "Glad to know you guys didn't look at my Facebook profile during my college years though."
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 04:12|
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
I wasn’t worth going back for.
They were young and thought they loved each other. But I screamed when I was hungry. It’s bad when you’re empty, stomach pushing in and I didn’t know what I wanted.
So they took me to the dark forest and left me when the wolves began to howl. Their giggles disappeared into the underbrush. I stood in a thick patch and listened to the wolves. They were talking about me.
And I felt something crawling on me, bristling the skin of my neck, climbing across the hair there, disappearing into my tangled flop. I didn’t let it be there, but my neck tickled, and I forgot about the hungry wolves.
I’m out there running wild, night air on my knotted fur. When I can’t feel it I remember it’s not real, that I’m sharing the wolf body for the Hallows. But I’m totemic. The other kids are just vessels for dreams they chose themselves. Sad spacemen looking up at the stars. Princesses crying because someone called them ugly. Superheroes that jump up and down, trying to fly.
I’m a wild one and tonight I’ll kiss the moon.
I get candy. But you don’t get candy ‘cause you’re fierce. It’s because adults look at you from a couple feet above and think you’re funny. I offer my candy to the pale thing in the sky but she won’t take it. It doesn’t mean anything and I put my bag down and glare at it. Then I pick it up and take it with me again.
The peaks are black at night. Like shadows you could push away, but no one does. They wall in the town like a fortress. Wall me in with hollows. There’s no one real here. Where are my wolves? Where are my wild ones?
My parents aren’t wild ones. They try to ruffle my fur. I run, clutching my candy to me, while they laugh. I run upstairs to be closer to the moon. My lady’s beauty never fades. They swallow her but in the end they let her go. You can’t hold her against you for long.
I air kiss the moon and get in bed and pull the sheets up. And I hope when I dream I see the wild wolves, and we all run together, and eat the children who aren’t themselves.
I open my eyes. When I sleep I’m just floating in nothingness and it’s a waste of time. The spiders are with me now, moving up and down my arms. They tickle and I laugh. I laugh and see I’m the forest again. The cold feels like knives that whisper into my guts.
The wolves are running wild. Their fur looks black in the forest light. Their muscles strain, haunches tight, but she’s the fiercest. She howls first and when they howl they’re howling with her, deep and long, a song for the pale thing.
I hate wolves, but the spiders hate them more, and as they blot out my blank flesh I think it’s them moving me. As the wolves get close they stiffen, stop. Circle me, heads low, eyes set on me as they move.
A wolf that dreams she’s a child. Her fur is spiked, jagged. Cuts up the shrieking air. Her eyes are black slits and I feel them slicing me. Her paws mark the ground. They all do, digging and scuffing in the murk.
But this my dream now. The spiders pull my fingers up and the murk moves, swamping against bone claws. Everything tenses. The babies start to climb mountains of cartilage, crawling up fur and muscle to the sky.
They have far to go. But they’ve already rooted the wolves to the ground, buried their feet in writhing mass. The wolves can’t move. Veins tauten, fur bristles, but the babies of the ground will swallow them like they swallowed me.
She howls, a low sound like an avalanche. The babies are at her thighs. She starts to rip at them. Fur fluffs into the air, catches night air drifts as she tears and snaps. Pain in her snarls as she hits skin but she doesn’t stop. The pack doesn’t stop either. The sound of their pain threads the air, slips between pine branches and laces through my black fingers.
It hungers the spiders.
I can feel it all over. Billions of pricks of pain like stars in the sky. Needles making a tapestry of blood and nerve. I’m not supposed to feel things. Spiders on my skin and under it, exploring me with clamping jaws. Tasting the inner skin, liking it, going faster. Burrowing in, eating the mulch. Is that like candy?
The wolves are still howling. Black spiders on black fur. Twisting out. There’s a heavy fog in the forest, blurring all the darks together. It’s right to dissolve like this. To find the deep part of us, the part that’s real when everything else is eaten away. I want to be happy with her but when I look at her slit eyes, her bared teeth, I know she’s angry.
But it’s happening, I tell her. We’re dissolving together.
My breakfast cereal haunts me. Letters spell out obscene words from languages long forgot. Outside my pale lady is gone. The peaks are sun-tipped aglow.
After the hallows life is muted. Everyone’s cast off the things they think they are. They’re with the real. The real is going to school, looking twice before you cross the street. Listen to things older people tell you. Racked by sickness and fear, they tell you how to end up like them.
It’s like dust is falling on me from another time. All over me so my skin is speckled. Lots of tiny motes, clogging my skin, falling through holes. I feel slower, like I’m weighed down by other people’s disappointment.
And something moves across my brain, careful, like it’s trying not to trip.
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 04:13|
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 10:54|
400 hundred words
in Seattle there is an orchid with the power to create the future
A Flower is a Flower No Matter How Many Petals You Rip Off
flerp fucked around with this message at 17:49 on Aug 21, 2016
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 16:33|
993 words - Prompt: Frustrated, I jello-walked back to the next generation payment platform
Maxim was perched on a coffee table with his legs crossed in front of him. ‘Lavio is not PayPal,’ he declared.
It might have been the Stimulert, or that he hadn’t left the office in 24 hours, or the worry he would soon be faced with a question he knew he couldn’t answer, but Nazeem was really starting to wish his boss hadn’t called him over for a ‘chat’ at 8AM on the day Nazeem turned 30.
‘Lavio is not WorldPay.’
Around them, the rest of the Lavio team hunched at their workstations or nestled in beanbags with their laptops. Half of them hadn’t slept. All of them were on Stimulert. Ciaran must have made a killing.
‘Lavio is not Bitcoin.’
Lavio was due to launch in just two weeks, but aside from Maxim no one really knew what it did. Initially pitched as a ‘next generation payment platform’, its functionality in transferring funds had gotten increasingly buried under whatever Maxim currently considered ‘next generation’.
‘No, those are other things,’ said Maxim. ‘And none of them are Lavio.’
The Stimulert made Nazeem anxious keep working. His legs felt like jelly. He had slipped his hand into his pocket to scratch his thigh, but as his fingers probed the itch he felt the flesh give way beneath the fabric.
‘Lavio means Lavio,’ Maxim continued. ‘Lavio is Lavio. And Lavio needs full social media integration - including Pictogram.' Finding a small hole in his pocket, Nazeem had managed to stick his little finger into his leg up to the first knuckle. It felt warm. ‘So, how have you been getting on?’
‘I’m sorry,’ said Nazeem vaguely. Fortunately the Stimulert made it easy to ignore the feeling that something had gone terribly wrong inside his trousers. More important was that he needed Maxim to like him. A bad reference from his first job in the industry could end his career before it began.
‘Come on, Naz!’ Maxim interrupted. ‘Social is the future. Pictogram is what makes Lavio Lavio. We’re counting on you - we can’t delay the launch. Can you get it working?’
‘I’m making progress,’ Nazeem lied. It shouldn’t have been difficult to let users upload images of their transactions to Pictogram, regardless of whether anyone would, but whatever Nazeem tried the two applications refused to cooperate. ‘Give me one more day, okay?’
The lie stuck. ‘Okay, Naz,’ said Maxim, ‘I trust you. Just don’t leave ‘til it’s done, alright?’
Frustrated, Nazeem wobbled back to his desk. He hadn’t expected Maxim to remember his birthday, but acknowledging he had worked 40 hours already that week would have gone a long way. At least it was nearly over. Whether Lavio dropped with Pictogram or without it, Nazeem’s contract would expire and he could find a better job - if one existed.
He covertly necked another capsule as he sank into his seat. Illegal as it was necessary, Stimulert made productivity euphoric. Nazeem could forget physiological niggles along with the passage of time and submerge himself wholly into his work. Without Stimulert, workers and businesses alike struggled to compete.
Something pressed on his shoulder. Ciaran squatted beside him, resting his hand on Nazeem for balance. ‘Working hard?’ he laughed.
‘Yeah, I was just…’ Nazeem began.
Ciaran leant in closer. ‘Listen, man,’ he said softly. ‘You feeling okay?’
The clock on Nazeem’s desktop read 12:04. How long had Ciaran been there? ‘Yeah, I guess,’ he said. ‘Why?’
‘Good. Well, it’s probably nothing,’ Ciaran whispered, ‘but if you have any of that last packet left, I maybe wouldn’t take it. Just in case, you know?’
‘The Stimulert?’ said Nazeem. ‘In case what?’ He slipped the blister pack Ciaran had given him yesterday morning from his trouser pocket. Empty. ‘Got any more?’
Then three things happened in succession. At the far side of the office, somebody screamed. Then something squelched in Nazeem’s body. Then Ciaran screamed, staring in shock at his hand on Nazeem’s shoulder. In Nazeem’s shoulder. Nazeem’s shirt was puckered around Ciaran’s wrist like an orifice, seeping pink fluid. Nazeem’s shoulder had collapsed like a sinkhole.
‘Get it out!’ Ciaran shouted.
Panicking, Nazeem started to unbutton his shirt. His chest was mottled with patches of shiny, translucent, pink - and not just the skin. Probing it with a finger, Nazeem saw his new flesh ran through him in seams.
‘Oh my God,’ said Ciaran.
He wasn’t looking at Nazeem. His hand still submerged in Nazeem’s shoulder, Ciaran stared in fear to the other side of the room where, at the centre of a slowly widening circle of onlookers, a shiny, pink pile oozed across the carpet tiles. Except for an outstretched arm brandishing a some papers it was the size and shape of a haystack, and from its rounded peak slowly slipped the flat, stretched face of a woman Nazeem knew as ‘Jenny from Marketing’. Though her mouth was full behind her parted lips, from somewhere inside her a voice bubbled out: ‘I have those printouts you wanted!’
Then Nazeem’s spine gave way and his body spilled from his chair. Turning into a jelly wasn’t as bad as he had anticipated. Really, he thought, the biggest inconvenience was that he could no longer reach the keyboard. The desire to work was overpowering. His mind felt faster than ever. Crawling on the floor, he felt godlike.
One by one, the rest of the Lavio team burst into goo around him, everyone who’d had Stimulert from Ciaran’s last batch. Soon only Maxim remained standing. ‘We’ll never make release now!’ he cried, jumping on a coffee table.
The oozes knew what to do. Fearing Maxim would stop them from working, they crawled over to him and drowned him in themselves, their bodies mingling as they did so. Maxim dispatched, the ooze gathered the laptops around itself in a circle and started prodding at the keys with countless jelly fingers. But it had bigger plans than making Lavio.
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 17:15|
Prompt: in Seattle there is an orchid with the power to create the future
And so the Orchid
edit: out for submission!
Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 01:22 on Aug 10, 2016
|# ? Aug 1, 2016 19:36|
Prompt: Housewives are housewives because of “them.”
I’m Not Here to Make Friends
Birthdays. I can handle everything except his birthdays. It’s when the illusion of this place seems most thin. It’s when the pretenses of his reality show fall apart. It’s when the Bachelor reveals himself for what he really is. It’s a reminder that we’re still no closer to leaving this hell.
I see him in the corner of my eye, dressed in a sky blue suit jacket, hair perfectly arranged despite the heat. His skin seems ageless, but the women around him look haggard. Concealer can hide the dark circles under our eyes but not the exhaustion and nervous sweat.
As the Bachelor gives a dazzling smile to a nearby camera, a dark-haired woman deposits her Gucci bag on the table nearest me. I pick it up and make my way towards the refreshments table. When I’m sure he’s not looking, I slosh its contents out into the punch bowl. Bleach. The drink turns a noxious green.
A woman sits nearby. She has platinum blonde hair and a dazed, drugged-out expression. She says nothing as I shove the bag into her lap and scoop some of the spiked drink into a party cup. My fingers ache and burn.
I will not stay here another year. I will not be another disposable woman.
I saunter towards the Bachelor, cup in hand. I tell myself that a man that kidnaps women for an elaborate dating show is too self-absorbed to detect danger. I tell myself that people who are violent and ruthless deserve violent and ruthless ends. I tell myself not to think about what happens next.
There is no escape from this place.
The Bachelor sees me, but there’s something in his eyes that make me stop. The film crew buzzes past, insect-like with their many dark lenses. The Bachelor likes attention, but there’s too many here for this to be a normal party.
There’s a heavy lump in my throat. Something's about to happen.
“Ladies,” says the Bachelor. He talks less like a warden than a high school counselor. His perfect teeth gleam in the sun. “I want to thank you all for yet another wonderful birthday.”
He pauses and the cameramen swarm us for reaction shots. Their lights turn the lawn a strange, ghostly hue. A few women muster up smiles, ignoring the peeled-back AstroTurf, concrete, and wire just out of frame. The heaviness swells inside me. I grip the party cup.
“But, as you know, one of you must be eliminated. Tonight.” He says this as though it were a regular occurrence. The last elimination was over two months ago. He made us watch while armed guards dragged a woman off into the woods for trying to escape out a bathroom window. The elimination before that took place over a year ago, after one of the girls was caught using the outdoor fireplace for smoke signals.
The irregularity of these eliminations is always jarring, but I’m not sure if it’s pre-planned or ad-hoc. I look down at my party cup. The drink is the inviting shade of antifreeze.
“Well?” He says. The Bachelor's boyish charm suddenly contorts. His clear, accentless English becomes thick and choppy. He seems impatient with his own spectacle. “Does anyone wanna say something or should I start handing out roses?”
The lawn is sweltering. I’m not sure if I should look guilty or defiant, if I should advance or retreat. I’m not even sure if this suicide mission can even be called a plan.
“Can I say something?”
I turn my head. It’s the blonde woman, but the drugged expression is gone. She lumbers forward, seeming somehow firm in spite of her spindly legs and overlarge bracelets. If there was a plan, it’s dead now.
“Of course, Dedra’” he says, reverting back to his natural, saccharine self. He oozes with artificial charm. “What would you like to say?”
“I just…” She looks up at him. Her face is demure and ingénue but there’s a sharpness in her eyes. Her stare could gut someone. Gently but firmly, she takes the tainted cup from my hand. Several other women, armed with heavy bags and sharply manicured nails step forward.
The Bachelor is now at the center of a ring. The prisoners stand on one end. At the other end is the film crew, dead-faced and passive. The hot lawn pulses with potential violence.
No more planning. No more cunning. Dedra doesn’t even give herself time for a quip.
Instead, we fall on the Bachelor. All teeth and hair and nails. Someone pours bleach into his mouth. I feel the gruff hands of a cameraman or a bodyguard, but he’s not able to stop me from clawing at his eyes. Someone wraps their bag around the Bachelor’s throat, silencing his boyish screams.
Hard hands yank at me again, pulling me away from the carnage. I try to twist away but find myself face-to-face with a small, heavy-set man with a clipboard.
“Wow, that was quite the finale! I knew you all were planning something, but I didn’t expect drama like that!” The guards on either side are expressionless, but the man seems to be beaming.
I say nothing. My mouth opens and closes.
He claps me on the shoulder. “Anyways, I’m sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to thank you for playing your part. You’ve been a great contestant. We’ll see you here for next season!”
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 01:57|
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 22:03 on Jan 2, 2017
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 02:59|
you have just under an hour to get your submissions in
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 03:08|
Prompt: A croissant suddenly appears beside you. It has escaped from a panopticon in Bangkok.
Linda Who is Bad at Puns
“I’m going to need you to get over the fact that I’m a talking croissant, Linda. Your eternal happiness is at stake,” the talking croissant said.
She hadn’t dropped acid in over a year, and she hadn’t smoked since the end of the school year. Nonetheless, here was a talking croissant. It didn’t have a mouth and it wasn’t moving, but there was definitely sound coming from it.
“Do you want to be alone forever, Linda? We are on a very tight schedule.”
She had eaten the leftovers of the pasta she had made for herself last night for lunch. There was no way it had gone bad in just one night.
“Linda, for Christ’s sake”—Linda could have sworn the pastry gave a short hop—“do you even have anything better to do?”
Before she could answer, the bus lurched to a stop and the croissant slid off the chair and onto Linda’s bag. She heard the wrenching of unoiled machinery and looked up at the opening door. No one was there and the bus was still empty except for Linda, the bus driver, and the talking croissant.
Linda sighed. “No,” she answered, “I don’t have anything better to do.”
“Good!” the croissant said. “Now, if you don’t mind, could you put me back on my seat?”
Linda started to nod, but stopped herself halfway through because she wasn’t certain if croissants that could talk could also see. She leaned over and picked up the croissant gingerly. It was warm and soft, almost as if it had been pulled from the oven only minutes beforehand and not at all as if it had been sitting on a bus-seat on a winter afternoon.
“I understand that this is all a bit ludicrous, with me being a talking croissant and the like.” The croissant spoke with a certain practiced ease. “You’re going to have to trust me, though.”
The bus came to another stop. Linda looked up at the door again, but it was just a traffic light. “I’m not certain I can trust a talking croissant that popped into existence next to me only five minutes ago,” she said.
“Look, Linda, I don’t have any answers for you. I don’t know why I’m a talking croissant. I don’t know how I got to be on this bus seat. What I do know is that seven minutes ago I was about to be eaten by a prison guard in Thailand, and I’m rather pleased that didn’t happen. I also know that we have to get off in two stops if we’re going to make our schedule, and I know we won’t unless you trust me.”
It was snowing outside, and the sun was below the horizon, and it wasn’t a short walk from two-stops-from-now to her apartment. On the other hand, Linda couldn’t remember the last time she did something really dumb—maybe the last time she smoked, but school felt like another lifetime. The croissant would make, at the very least, a good story.
“What were you doing in Thailand?” she asked.
“Same thing I’m doing here,” it said, “helping people find each other. It’s what I do. I also help dogs find other dogs, sometimes.”
Linda furled her brow. “Do you bark at the dogs?”
The croissant scoffed. “I’m a talking croissant Linda, not Cesar Milan.”
“I don’t think he barks at dogs,” she said.
“I don’t think he asks stupid questions, either.”
The bus came to another stop. The doors opened again, and Linda looked up. An older man got onto the bus and, holding on the poles as he walked, moved to the back.
“I’m not actually alone, you know.” Linda whispered. “I have a cat.”
“You’re a dog person and you always have been and you hate that cat, Linda,” the croissant whispered back. “We’re going to find something better than a cat.” The bus hit a pothole, and the croissant jumped precariously close to the edge. Linda moved it back.
“And it’s going to have a better name than Paw-rack Oba-meow,” the croissant continued. “That’s not even a good pun, Linda.”
Linda couldn’t think of a good comeback so they sat in silence until the bus announced that it was approaching the next stop.
“Do you have a name?” Linda asked the croissant. She looked over at the old man to see if he had heard her, but he was staring vacantly out the window.
“You can’t small-talk you’re way out of getting off of this bus at this stop.”
“I have a cat,” she repeated.
“You hate that loving cat,” the croissant said. “Don’t settle for the cat, Linda.”
The bus pulled over and came to a stop.
“Get up, Linda,” the croissant said.
Linda turned to face the old man, but he was still staring out the window. He looked like he was either bored or sad but she couldn’t tell and—
“Linda, get off of the bus.”
The doors began to groan close.
Linda pinched the bridge of her nose. “gently caress,” she muttered, and she got out of her seat. She grabbed her bag off of the ground and grabbed the croissant and hustled down the bus and shouted “Wait!” and “Sorry!” and, panting, pushed open the rear doors.
It was colder than she had expected outside. The bus, as soon as she was out the door, lurched back into the street, leaving an exasperated Linda clutching her bag with one hand and the croissant with the other.
“Right on time!” the croissant said. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
As if on cue, a strong gust of wind slammed into Linda, who cursed and staggered and drop the croissant and then cursed some more. She turned to pick it back up. There was a boy standing there, bent over the croissant.
“Huh,” he said. “What a waste of a good croissant!” He was cute.
Linda shrugged. “Que será, será,” she replied.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 03:59|
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 04:08|
WEEK 208 RESULTS: UPPER-CLASS TWEET OF THE YEAR
And so, as summer fades into fall, so too does FJ fall into GJ. This week was actually very strong - so strong that we decided to scrap DMs, because the DMs would've been pretty mid-tier in another week. Honourable Mentions: a friendly penguin, Some Strange Flea, Kaishai, PALE SPECTRES, flerp and Sebmojo. Kaishai very nearly stole the win yet again - her piece was beautiful, evocative and mystical; in other words, Kaishai wrote it. The result was balanced on a knife-edge but in the end she couldn't quite pip week 208's champion: SittingHere; a punchier piece that used all of its shorter wordcount to gorgeous effect.
Which means we come to the loser. Taking a pretty good first 2/3 then making GBS threads all over itself in a glorious anticlimax, was Jonked with Happyville. Probably coulda scraped by unnoticed in a worse week, but TD was on their game and "lol businessmen like hookers and blow" was just about the worst and laziest thing you could've done with the premise.
Over to you, Blood Queen.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 04:33|
Season 4, Episode 1: WHAT DO YOU GET A DOME THAT HAS EVERYTHING??
Oh geeze. Okay. Oh poo poo. Hey guys, can we talk outside for a minute? Thanks. See, it's Thunderdome's birthday and I haven't thought of a gift! I mean, we could get TD lovely words like we did last year, but I'm pretty sure it has enough of those already. Four years. Four fuckin' years, and I still have no idea what to get this goddamn dome, but I'm sure we can come up with something together.
OH oh oh oh oh OOOOH. I know. Thunderdome loves flashrules.
When you make your 'in' post, you will come up with a flashrule for the person who signs up after you. Obviously, your story has to involve the flashrule you receive from the person who signs up before you. Yes, yes, i know, goons are terrible and bad at things. Never fear! I've come up with a simple formula to make this as goon-proof as possible!
Flashrules will look like this:
[CHARACTER] wants [THING].
Examples would be something like
A DOG BREEDER wants to WIN A BEAUTY CONTEST
A QUADRIPLEGIC PERSON wants to WIPE THEIR OWN rear end FOR ONCE
A SINGLE PARENT wants to GO TO NEPTUNE
A FLOWER wants to BRING DOWN A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT
and so on.
The first person to sign up may choose one of the four examples I just gave. Every 'in' post must contain a flashrule in the above format. Be as wild and ridiculous as you want. I will be looking for evidence that you used the character and conflict you were provided. Since I know you're all going to try and gently caress each other over as hard as possible, I will make allowances for loose interpretations as long as I can more or less see the CHARACTER and WANT in your story.
Signup deadline: 11:59:59 PM on Thunderdome's birthday (Friday, August 5th)
Submission deadline: 11:59:59 PM on Sunday, August 7th
Word count: I honestly don't care but I'll stop reading if I get bored.
Some rear end in a top hat
Killer-of-Lawyers - A SINGLE PARENT wants to GO TO NEPTUNE
tunapirate - A ROBOT wants to UNDERSTAND FAST FOOD
terre packet - A DOG wants to EXPERIENCE SELF-DOUBT
Paladinus - A RETIRED BOXER wants to LOOK GOOD IN PINK
Jitzu_the_Monk - AN ALIEN wants to HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS
Chili - A LATE-NINETEENTH CENTURY RABBI wants to CURE INSANITY
a friendly penguin - A ROADIE wants to SAVE THE WORLD
Zerbra23 - A CAVEMAN wants to GO BACK TO A SIMPLER TIME
Tyrannosaurus - A CLOWN wants to BE A PRIVATE EYE
Jonked - A CLOWN wants to BE A PRIVATE EYE
flerp - A YOUNG MAN wants to NOT DIE IN THE WILDERNESS
Thranguy - in an UNCLE wants to FLY TO THE MOON
Boaz-Jachim - A WEREWOLF wants to WIN AN ELECTION
Squidtentacle - AN ASSASSIN wants to MARRY THEIR MARK
Pippin - A DEMON wants to JOIN THE MILITARY
Bad Seafood - A HELICOPTER PILOT wants to CREATE THE PERFECT PAINTING
dmboogie - A LOOSE CANNON COP wants to BALANCE THE BUDGET OF A SMALL COUNTRY
steeltoedsneakers - A GHOST wants to HOST A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR A PAL
sparksbloom - A SENTIENT HOUSE wants to RUN A MARATHON
CANNIBAL GIRLS - A MUSIC TEACHER wants to REGAIN THEIR HEARING
Carl Killer Miller - A TIME TRAVELER wants THE WORLD'S BEST "DEATH ROW DINNER"
ZeBourgeoisie - A TIME TRAVELER wants THE WORLD'S BEST "DEATH ROW DINNER"
Flesnolk - A GIANT SPIDER wants to MEET THEIR FAVORITE BOYBAND
SurreptitiousMuffin - A GRIZZLY BEAR wants to RUN FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
PALE SPECTRES - an EIGHTH-DIMENSION CONSCIOUSNESS HIVE FLOATING IN FREE SPACE wants to COLONISE A HUMAN BODY
sebmojo - a DEMON wants to TAKE CARE OF YOU
Meeple - a LIGHT AIRCRAFT that wants to WRITE POETRY
Entenzahn - ONE OR MORE BEES (swarm optional) that want(s) FAME AND FORTUNE
QuoProQuid - the VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA wants to PAINT THE WHITE HOUSE A DIFFERENT COLOR
kuribo - Now, tell me about the SPY that wants to win a COUNTY FAIR BAKING COMPETITION
The Cut of Your Jib - a WAITER who wants to JOIN THE CIRCUS vs A DOG who wants to BE A MAN
Schneider Heim - a CHEESEMONGER wants to ELIMINATE THEIR RIVAL
Ironic Twist - An ACTION STAR wants to RAISE THEIR CUTE DAUGHTER
Kaishai - A LIBRARIAN wants to CREATE A SOVEREIGN STATE
Screaming Idiot - A DICTATOR wants to MARRY A WHALE
Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 01:12 on Aug 8, 2016
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 05:34|
In. Taking a Single Parent wants to go to Neptune.
A ROBOT wants to UNDERSTAND FAST FOOD
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 05:38|
I came here for an avatar and I'm not leaving until I get it
A DOG wants to EXPERIENCE SELF-DOUBT.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 06:02|
In. With a for jumping ship last week.
A RETIRED BOXER wants to LOOK GOOD IN PINK
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 09:27|
AN ALIEN wants to HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 10:58|
A LATE-NINETEENTH CENTURY RABBI wants to CURE INSANITY.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 11:11|
I'll snag this.
A ROADIE wants to SAVE THE WORLD.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 13:18|
A CAVEMAN wants to GO BACK TO A SIMPLER TIME.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 13:25|
I was wondering if someone was waiting around for a new one. Enjoy!
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 13:30|
A CLOWN wants to BE A PRIVATE EYE.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 14:19|
In. A DOG wants to BE A MAN.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 15:50|
A YOUNG MAN wants to NOT DIE IN THE WILDERNESS
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 15:56|
in an UNCLE wants to FLY TO THE MOON
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 15:57|
in an UNCLE wants to FLY TO THE MOON
A WEREWOLF wants to WIN AN ELECTION
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 16:29|
In, for last week.
AN ASSASSIN wants to MARRY THEIR MARK
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 16:34|
In, for last week.
A DEMON wants to JOIN THE MILITARY
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 16:43|
Gotta keep up this writing lark if I wanna get anywhere, in!
A HELICOPTER PILOT wants to CREATE THE PERFECT PAINTING
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 17:06|
I'll be commandeering that helicopter. In.
A LOOSE CANNON COP wants to BALANCE THE BUDGET OF A SMALL COUNTRY.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 19:43|
I'll be commandeering that helicopter. In.
They may be a loose cop, but they get the job done, dammit! In.
A GHOST wants to HOST A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR A PAL
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 20:12|
Weird Tweetbot Week Crits
As Muffin said, this was a pretty good week overall. A lot of people went with single-character stories, which probably has a lot to do with one of the structures of MRbot tweets that a lot of people gravitated to. Between the prompts and the word count, people wrote a lot of sort of fluffy pieces, often pleasant but not particularly substantial, but that's a better way to land in the middle than most, so good job.
On to the specifics:
Carl Killer Miller's Baby, we're Not Defined by Old Times.
“We're” should be capitalized and you shouldn't put the period in the title.
So, this one is not remotely subtle. You could probably cut it mercilessly and still get everything across, because everything gets nailed in twice or three times.
There are some major problems with point-of-view here: not only does the narration switch blithely between points of view (traditional head-hopping, already bad), it also pops in and out of a single character, sometimes privy to their thoughts and sometimes not.
This is also a strange parallel world in which advertisers are willing to show actual (stage) poo poo in a commercial advertising their products. It's not clear if the networks are willing to show it or if it's supposed to be straight-to-viral thing, but either way, deeply strange. And also a world in which Shakespearean actors are not only famous, but notable for playing supporting roles like Laertes...
Low, probably just above DM-level. (14/16 on my list, i.e. the 14th-best story (3rd worst) of 16)
a friendly penguin's Conservationist
Overwritten, purple prose. There's an interesting idea early on, with the forest being the enemy of the meadow-witch. But it sort of falls apart at the end. You would think that if her power were dependent on the woods somebody would have told her.
On the theme of strange parallel worlds, this is one in which medieval-ish roads work completely differently than they did historically. In actual history, people didn't just build roads on spec, they observed the place where the horse and foot traffic was already going and put the stones there. If there was any use for this road, people would already be travelling through this meadow.
There's not really enough to this character to sustain a one-hander like this (the roadbuilder doesn't count.)
Low, probably above DM-level (13/16)
Some Strange Flea's Other People
Interesting title, suggest Sartrean Hell. Story delivers something along those lines.
This was a good one. Another one-hander, but this time the main character has more than enough substance to carry it. An awful person and father whose personal Hell was to see his son getting along just fine without him, but possibly so awful as to reject that strongly enough to escape as a demon/zombie/monster. Should be 'loath to', not 'loathe'. The bit about rabid dogs reads literal the first time through. There may be a better way to present it to make the narrator's bigotry apparent enough for that not to happen.
High, possible win contender (3/16)
This story starts off rough. I think that the decision to tell the beginning in a sort of jumbled order, alternating between office politics and disaster survival was probably the wrong one, and that a version that just tells this story linearly could be much better. There's probably a way to make the business with the wrong-naming a little less overstated.
The action bits are not as clear as they could be, but once the story is well underway the character business almost carries me through it.
Middle, middle-high (8/16)
CANNIBAL GIRLS's Disassembly
Your second sentence is, grammar-wise, a mess, with the misuse of both the dash and the semicolon just making things worse. The imagery of the opener is solid, though.
This one had potential. There are some interesting ideas, and there are some passably drawn characters. But they just don't connect. I don't really get any particular sense of what these two people want, and how those needs are driving the action, why they're doing this incredibly risky things, both in the context of the real world and that of magically-real failco.
Screaming Idiot's Temptation
Two 'withs' too close together, possibly replace one with a comma? Of course the Devil uses Comic Sans. Given how much product name-checking you're doing, it's strange that you can't do it for Hydrox. Or the third-string sandwich cookie, if your a Hydrox person yourself.
Cute, fluffy. Not too much there there, though. Middle, maybe middle high. (9/16)
The Cut of Your Jib's The Lighthouse
..Veronin's selection... I think.
This is a story of parts that don't really fit together well. There some good character work, some interesting (occasionally overwritten) candyland imagery, and the interesting dilemma of the two climbers meeting at the middle. But the ending doesn't really work for me, and none of the good parts really fit together at all.
Kaishai's Words of Wood and Blood
Another good one. The early middle feels a bit rushed, possibly unavoidably due to the wordcount, but I'd have preferred the King to have a bit more character, a bit less straw-manishness behind his choices. Lampshading the fact that his plan is stupid and won't work doesn't help things one little bit.
Still, high. (4/16)
So, a lot of bad dialog, involving people telling each other things they both already know and or saying things no human being would ever say. There's an interesting setup going on behind it, and I was a bit interested to see where you went with it. Unfortunately, the place that you went was cliche-land and an unfunny attempted punchline.
Very low, probably loss contender from the day one stories. (16/16)
PALE SPECTRES's Wolf Spider
Another highly likeable one-character story. Sort of. At least, the story wants to equate the various versions-feral child, raised by wolves and/or spiders and the trick-or-treating girl. Anyhow, excellent prose with some interesting ideas going along with it. Not quite as much of a plot/character arc as I might want, but at this length that's understandable.
I've seen this structure before from you, with a strange, nonhuman point of view (either an alien or an animal or something usually) that's also somehow a small child in a 'real-world' setting, usually eating a meal with their parents. Watch out that this pattern doesn't become a storytelling rut; having succeeded so well with this story, it's probably served its purpose.
High. My win pick (1/16)
flerp's A Flower is a Flower No Matter How Many Petals You Rip Off
An orchid successfully growing from a sidewalk crack is probably less likely than any one of the fantastic things that are about to happen. 'smelt' is a very odd choice.
So, the prose here is nice, and doing a strange magical realism single-character vignette thing is an understandable choice given the wordcount limits you got yourself into, but the logic doesn't quite work for me, even in a dream-logic kind of sense. The story doesn't lead me to buy either the title or the ending.
Middle-high, though. (6/16)
Ceighk's Crunch Time
I like this line enough that it's probably going to bump the entire story up a rank or two just based on it alone. But the story isn't all that good. The prose is clear, at least, but the characters are mostly interchangable and generic and the plot sort of twists in an unsatisfying way. A story this short can't really afford red herrings, and as it stands both the nature of Lavio and the problem with Pictogram stand out as setups that don't pay off when the story shifts into cosmic horror drug trip mode.
Fortunately the Stimulert made it easy to ignore the feeling that something had gone terribly wrong inside his trousers.
Low, elevated a bit by that one line. (12/16)
Sittinghere's And so the Orchid
I don't like the feel of “must've”, and you weren't even tight on wordcount. “must have” just works better, cadence-wise, in my opinion. Other than that, this is a tight piece of effective prose that does a lot with its extremely small wordcount, telling both the a personal family story and a larger one of societal collapse all from the point of view of an orchid with quantum immortality going on.
Very high. (2/16)
QuoProQuid's I'm Not Here to Make Friends
Barely competent prose in service of a pointlessly unpleasant little story. One problem that hurts it even more is that it doesn't quite seem sure what it is: at some points it feels like it's something supernatural, a story set in a literal reality show hell. At others it wants to feel like something more grounded, a hell-on-earth constructed by a fairly unlikely conspiracy, and at still others it wants to be satire, set in a world where the worst aspects of such shows are elevated to absurdity.
Pretty low. (15/16)
I like the second paragraph far more than it deserves.
This is a very good, well written scene. The ending tries to resolve too much, and, I think, ultimately fails, though. If these kinds of deals were so easy to get out of, well, it sort of breaks the kind of world and story in which such deals get made.
Still, highish (5/16)
tunapirate's Linda, Who is Bad at Puns
I think that you went a bit too hard on the repetition of 'talking croissant'. I expect you were going for the running gag humor-through-repitition effect, but that's not going to be pulled off in a piece this short. (You need to be able to vary the length of delay between repetitions, to make the unpredictable, and there's just not enough room to do that here.)
Like a french savory pastry, this was fluffy and mostly air. Fairly pleasant but it doesn't really do anything, and ends in a sort of perfunctory and predictable manner.
Middle, maybe middle-high. (7/16)
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 21:22 on Aug 2, 2016
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 20:31|
A GHOST wants to HOST A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR A PAL
A SENTIENT HOUSE wants to RUN A MARATHON.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 21:13|
|# ? Sep 22, 2021 17:08|
A MUSIC TEACHER wants to REGAIN THEIR HEARING.
|# ? Aug 2, 2016 21:25|