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  • Locked thread
Jan 27, 2006
A couple random crits:

1. Week 8: Jimson – Blue and Pink

-This entry lost. Let’s figure out why.

-“…Darcy stood idly by as a child watching the alcohol rip it's way through her parents lives…” This metaphor isn’t horrible, but it could be much better. Alcohol doesn’t rip. Something like “watching the alcohol corrode her parents’ lives” would’ve been a nicer touch. Your grammar, however, is horrible (it’s-->its/parents-->parents’).

-Just after the first paragraph I can already see why you lost. Lazy grammar and punctuation errors. Proofread god drat it!

-You have a weird way of putting things. “As a child she remembers living close to the Tenderloin.” It’s never explained what the tenderloin is or why it’s capitalized; “He was handsome, if not obviously so.” Oh really, what do I need to do to see this latent handsomeness, squint real hard?

-The prompt asks you to fill in the details of two dead reclusive twins’ lives. Far from recluses, the twins in your story are barflies (although one hates that), and one is married. Your story describes their hosed up past and present, but I was hoping for even more of a sense of how and why they disconnected from society.

-Okay, some positive things. I like Darcy’s initiative in applying tough love to Lucy. I like that Darcy wants something (Lucy’s sobriety) and that conflict is created by the presence of obstacles (Lucy, and to some extent “Mr. Wolf”).

-Sudden violence at the end doesn’t often make for good writing. I guess since things go badly, the lesson is that Darcy shouldn’t have interfered with Lucy’s addiction or her marriage. One can certainly make a moral case for noninvolvement, but Darcy’s agency was the most exciting aspect of your story and the ending negates that.

-Maybe the loss scared you away? Do come back, Jimson, we hardly knew ye.

2. Week 18: Tender Child Loins – Round 1: The Old Ship of Zion

-Great username btw

-Good job with the dialect. It establishes a strong and distinctive voice without overdoing it.

-Good job with setting. The dialect, swampy terrain, and intermittent French clearly establish this to be Louisiana.

-“The landing place is just three hail marys' worth a walk away from our house…” Lol, I love this. Fits the character well and establishes proximity, all in a way that feels fresh to the reader.

-It’s an interesting little story. Delightfully dystopic, mildly tense, and more-or-less smooth to read. While I wish I had just a touch more context to understand the aliens, I’m also glad you didn’t fall into a world building trap.


Feb 25, 2014

flerp posted:

god over autism brawl

prompt: "we arent alone" that also involves a physical transformation. interpret as you will

1500 words
due 8/14 11:59 pm pst

new deadline: 8/17, same time

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Crits for week 189

concrete graveyard

So two men drive up, they look around, they muse about their duty a little, they worry about the possibility of tetanus, they find a random kid, they decide to take him home. I say 'they' but it's really one guy since the other is completely disposable. Do you see how this isn't a story in any meaningful sense, yes? Words are adequate, if bland, cliche and full of telling us how scary this abandoned and not very scary building is.

The Finest Wine

I'm known to rag on td's habit of confusing 'poetry' with 'ploddily end-rhymed doggerel' so the fact that this ostensible poem has no rhymes is i suppose to be applauded, but regrettable to say that isn't going to happen b/c my hands are hanging nerveless from their wrist flexors by virtue of how stupefying this whole shemozzle is. Also, why the hell is it in the form of a poem? It would be just as bad as a big slab of paragraphs like you'd find in one of 'em word books. there's sort of a story with the poisoning but it's foiled with zero effort and the greenie knight comes from and goes to nowhere.

Having a Mare

First suggestion, cut your first para. Always consider cutting your first para and only resile from this strong and genuinely excellent rubric if it would make even more of a nonsense of your story than it already is. second suggestion, please give me some kind of goddam idea what your story is about within a few paras because if i wasn't obligated i'd have bailed by word 100. Let's see... man talks to king, has sore feet because bet boots on blind horse, uh. that's it. Perhaps cut all paras and write different story?

One More Knight

Nice voice from the outset, and you've got solid comic bones (lol) with teh clash between pulp mediaeval and well-coiffed smuggolo. the humour itself is broad, but i grinned at 'how doth that even work' and the porn sax reveal of his opponent's luscious curls. this is a decent bit of tdome wacky, but you could have made it more interesting by having Lady Venoma as more than a questgiver, i suspect? You could have kept the best jokes and done something that wasn't just pivoting to the gag, but still, tolerable effort.

Two Equals

Crusty knight argues with cell-bound autist, the story. Lots of chitchat between your insufferable protagonists, but no actual events occur. There's some kind of morning tea of the soul revelation the protagonist seems to have here, but i'm baffled by its import or extent and pass on from the story with a sort of flesh sadface emoji going on in my head region.

Word at the gate

This is basically papers please fanfic, isn't it. so you've got a whole thing going on here with the sword and shield and the bureau-knight and the problem is that, for all that there is plenty of well-imagined and described detail, the wholllllle thing is super tedious. that's my key issue. man sees a bunch of people, some live, some die, the end. NEXT.

Mauka no Makai

Your opener is way too static and ploddy for something that should have pulpy zip, and really conveys almost nothing but a vague cyberpunky frosting around a character who we haven’t met yet and don’t care for. Then there’s some pointless finger chopping and even more pointless murderthuggery. Dumb, but not the good and fun kind. Also it's 'made do', not 'due'.

Sea Change

This has a nice specific sense for its details from the first para, and i basically like the size and shape of the story it uses its good words to tell. I think the older brother would have worked better as an actual character, though - as it is he’s basically the metaphor quartermaster doling out metaphor rationpacks and whatnot. Overall the story feels a bit light, for all its skilful execution.


This is a strange splattery remix of the arthurian legend which gets to teh bit where it changes then delivers up a bizarre murder suicide that could yet win the 2016 LolWTF Cup if the Belgians don’t top their last year’s impressive effort. Clunky words too, but they’re not the issue here.

Sooner or later he brings up the templars

Haha theres Donald Trump, suck it SH. now this story is sort of a big old block of words in teh shape of an exciting pulpy yarn, and I think the modern day templars shtick has a littttle bit of juice left in after The Secret World has done squeezin’, but it’s fundamentally flawed by being an interstitial between Coyote’s story and narrator dudes, and neither of them actually do anything interesting so i’m left doin’ a big old shrug rather than metaphorically high fiving you for your letter bundles. Also a talking sword doesn’t quite fit with the realistic urban LARP furrow you’re ploughing. Ho hum.

A Lying Prayer

Lovely opener. At first I was going to ping you for the bland back and forth of the dialogue, but it actually hangs together ok in its own strange small terms. We never find out the context that would make sense of these churchy swordy types, but the colours and the intensity of the emotions they’re feeling seep through. Decent.

Dishonorable Mention

Oh get fuuuuucked. This is just a long narrative flashback to a bestiality joke, and as such I am resiling from my intention to provide a brief yet thoughtful critique on its merits, hope that’s ok.

Give a little

This is one of the better ones in the list so far at doing something interesting with the wellworn tropes of knighthood, and for all that it’s a simple story it manages some decently pungent characters with clear voices, a bit of action and a well-imagined end of the world. Good work.

Knight Trip

I was all set to like the hell out of this after the gently befuddling dreamscape of the first few paras, but then it descended into clunk with the protag rumpy dumping his way from one cliche dream scenario to the next. And the resolution, while clever enough, is not sold at all convincingly - it would have worked better if getting him to the drugscape happened earlier then there was some kind of challenge overcome by the protagonist within that space? Idk (high)

The feudal struggles of boyhood

I want to like this more than I, in fact do. I think part of the problem is that its more in love with its bugsy malone kid knight conceit - which to be fair is very good and clever - that it spends too long showing it to us with the protagonist’s achingly slow progress. Also there’s nothing very interesting about the quests - dude rides around for a bit, bike gets stolen, gets bike back. I mean, look at the last line - as a climax, slowly cruising down the road to finish a fairly dull chore does not get my orgones pumping. Not terrible though.

Sir runcel the Rat

This is something of a farrago of mismatched elements, though with significant merits: I like the idea of the secret things, and there’s a sort of balance between modern day (organ, general vibe) and fantasy (everything else), and the words are acceptable (good action for e.g.) but I’m puzzled by the two sir runcels. Like there’s one, who’s a baddy because he won’t let the people have their swords as promised by the 2nd amendment of the fantasy constitution. Then he dies, so the protagonist goes looking for him, to get him to fix things up to and including his own death, then he shows up and it’s like he’s obi wan and he was there all along. All very puzzling and not, if I’m gonna be honest, super satisfying.

Little lion

‘The terrible ease of a predator’ is a great line. And this is pretty great all over, really - the characters are all tropes we’ve seen before, but there’s some snap and sizzle in the way they’re deployed and the self-interested motivation for Halga’s turning into a rescue ranger at the end is intriguing - I’d like to read more of these gals’ adventures, possibly ones utilising the magic of their pets to solve crimes and foil wickedness ect ect. But really with lines like this I’m yours wherever you want to take it: “Someday, you’ll be glad you were loyal to me,” Halga said. She looked, unblinking, into my face, and for a moment I glimpsed the regal, molten core of her.

Having re-judged that blind and looked at the results again (heh, 11 DMs), I'd have put SH as the winner and Grizpat as HM, but otherwise unchanged.

More Crits

These are for Ent, grizpat, trex and kaishai

A Matter of Energy

The sleek steel-golem wheeled its hammer around and smashed it into the junk-robot in an elegant arc. Jyllo flinched in unison with his construct’s demise. Force feedback from the metal he had formed was minimal; it would have been worse if he had animated the thing. He pulled up his goggles and rubbed his eyes, flicking his other wrist to set the rusty platform below him into motion. The end was always the hardest part. The audience seemed so annoyed after his battles. very bland and ho hum for how crazy the events being described are, and maybe its routine for him but 'just another day at the DERANGED FUTURE MAGIC OFFICE' is not a good way to start a story, because almost by definition its lacking strong or interesting emotion

Venerable Master Animator Dyulakk waited for him in the middle of what?, wearing his traditional blue-golden robe. Next to him stood a lean girl in brown novice garment. She gave Jyllo an apologetic look and shrugged. He forced himself to smile back at her.

“Three seconds, that’s a new record,” Dyulakk said and turned to the audience: “Eleah Bravia wins. What a surprise,” he had muttered that last part.

With a sigh, Jyllo made a lifting gesture and the broken parts of his robot levitated behind him as he left the arena alongside Dyulakk.

“It did move this time,” he said. “Still not enough power for weapons or complicated calculations. I think the presence of the others screws with energy transmission. If I could conduct tests outside arena battles, I—“

“Your war machines have never won in two years,” Dyulakk interrupted him. “People are beginning to ask themselves why we are keeping you. Some rumor it is only on the reputation of your late father.”

“Well they can go gently caress themselves.”

“I agree with them. You're a failure. You dress like a clown. Some even joke you’re unable to animate your own golem. I admit you’re a competent engineer. We should give you to the builders,” he smiled.

“This project will be important—”

“When the gods decide to take our powers,” Dyluakk chuckled. “I heard the stories.”

Jyllo remained silent.


Jyllo always liked to spend time in the cool underground air after an arena fight. He followed the new shaft his burrowing machine had dug into the ground, his arms outstretched, fingers tracing the earthen walls. He closed his eyes and reached out to the soil around him, feeling for the elements, and they reverberated impulses back into his fingertips and up his synapses. Shimmering silver. Copper long and wry. Faint traces of musky coal. this is a nice para

He stopped. There was something new. Fever. He concentrated, probing for the source. He tugged at something and felt ore unravel, sliding towards him through pores in the earth until dull metallic pebbles fell out of the wall. The hair on his skin stood up. He picked up a tiny rock and closed his fist around it, reaching out for the soul of the unknown element—

—dense black monolith adorns the horizon and pulsates green and orange in the dark electrifies the air around it and a humming noise slowly rises to a cacophony of particles as the light grows stronger and color washes over me and there is heat so much heat it burns my skin and turns my bones to ashes— TH' FANCY WRITIN' KLAXONS 'R SOUNDIN' STRANGER, YOU BETTER GET YERSELF TO A SHELTER

—the clang of a falling pebble snapped Jyllo back into consciousness. He slumped against the wall, shuddering. There was a metallic taste in his mouth and his palm was warm where the stone had heated up from their exchange.

“What are you?” He panted. The rocks didn’t answer.


Experiments had started promising. 'at first experiments were promising' would work better here Jyllo would trace his fingers along the metal and sense the structure, the logic, the characteristics of his newfound ore. He would form it, send impulses and wait for the reply. Communicating with new earthen treasures always had something exciting about it.

“Energy,” it had whispered to him, “and decay”. He had called it Radnite, the bleeding metal. ominous!

“Brother, are you paying attention?” Eleah asked and he looked up from his notes.


She raised an eyebrow.


“The Master motioned to remove you,” she repeated.

“And send me to the builders, yeah, he can’t do that.”

“There will be a vote. You haven’t fought in weeks.”

“Oh please, I found the Radnite, like, uhhh…,” he counted on his fingers. “What month is it?”

“They will make you battle to prove your worth.”

“Not ready yet.”

“Just animate some golem. You’re bound to beat one of the novices, right?”

“I can’t.”

“If you swallow your pride—“

“I can’t”, he hissed. “I can’t animate.”

“Oh. Ooooooh,” her eyes went wide. She looked down. “You never told me.”

“They didn’t lie when they said father had talent for two.” There was silence. “Look, I'll be fine, I just have to make this work,” he gestured towards his notes, discarded concepts of Radnite batteries. “I know the metal. There’s potential energy, but it has something destructive to it, like a contagious disease. It’s hard to moderate. Activating the Radnite is like… tearing it open. OMINOUS There’s heat and energy and the emissions rip apart more Radnite and it loops back on itself. I have to nanny it or it gets too hot and the air goes foul.”

Eleah studied the notes. “It gets hot when energy is released, and too much energy is bad.”

He nodded.

“Can't you just cool it?”


Master Dyulakk had insisted on fighting Jyllo himself. Of course.

He stood on the other platform, smiling. His golem, Block, the undefeated, giant metal cube, shook the ground as it rolled forward. Below Jyllo, his RadBot :kickinrad: whirred and hissed in the sand, making jerky motions on the spot. specificity would work much better here, you could convey character about both the radbot (batteries sold seperately! may rebel against its fleshbag enslavement!) and jello

Block reached the robot and fell over, you're p much owning the vivid descriptions here fyi it's like i'm right there in the arena trying to crush the construct beneath its weight. The robot lifted its arms against the cube, pistons screaming under the pressure. Radnite arms threatened to crack as they pushed back.

“Come on,” muttered Jyllo. He had worked all night to devise a way to delay the power growth process, but now it took too long.

The standoff lasted for many excruitiating sounds painful seconds. Then the air filled with electricity what does that look like writer guy. The audience gasped as Block began to edge backwards, invisible energies forcing it away from RadBot. Jyllo smirked. Eleah grabbed his arm and stared at the battlefield.

A faint, high-pitched sound emerged until an electric arc shot from RadBot towards the metal oh god this is clunky writering cube. As Block was hit, Dyulakk reeled backwards on his platform and cursed. Jyllo felt the energy of a broken bond dissipate. The cube stopped moving.

The air sizzled. An unseen force deformed Block, stretching it towards RadBot, and Jyllo squinted. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He could feel faint waves of pressure as RadBot's magnetic shield fluttered, and broke. Distorted electrified metal seeped towards the center of the robot, piercing layers of steel and lead, water and air. It touched the Radnite core and time stood still.

Then something invisible again, incredibly vivid you have a gift exploded. The air rippled with force, a warm sensation washing over Jyllo dear diary today was an interesting day built rad robot (yay!) unfortunately wet pants again o well cannot win them all. People in the audience gasped as golems shut down, some falling apart into heaps of scrap. In the middle of the arena, a smoking robot stood unmoving in a puddle of molten steel. Dyulakk was on all fours, staring at Jyllo in disbelief across the field.

For a second noone moved. Then the crowd roared.

“What just happened?” Eleah asked.

“Progress, dear sister. Progress.” this could have been more interesting to read with some better descriptions of what should be deranged and exciting robot battling. Also nothing really interesting happens, mysterious elements are not intrinsically more story worthy than the regular kind imo

The Maintainer

Joseph had sworn he’d never touch a wrench again. Not since the battle at Oclouse, with its death toll of 50.000 50,000, with its dozens of burning airships, with its stench of sulfur and helium and nitrogen, has tense he ever wanted to set foot on another one of the flying death machines.

But when the suited men came, insisting that he return for one last mission, one mission to decide the fate of his nation, he had little room for argument.

“The Nazis are at our border now,” the fat man said.

“We have developed a special airship, one that can sneak behind the enemy lines and take out Hitler,” the thin man continued. “But it is fragile. We need someone to maintain it. We need the best. How are your skills holding up?”

Joseph disassembled the metal chair from under the thin man’s rear end as he blinked. The man fell into the rubble bad word choice and stared up at him with wide eyes.

“Good enough,” the fat man admitted.

“Gentlemen,” Joseph said, “I will agree to one last mission. drat you for it, but I agree. I do this for my country. But that will be it. I help kill Hitler, and then you never bother me again. Is that clear? Now get out of my house.”

“But we haven’t even given you directions to--”

“Out!” he screamed.

That night, he looked at her picture again. bland action, why not have him take it out of something. try not to miss so many opportunities to convey character Beth. She’d been killed in the war, one more number in the collateral casualties statistic.

“I have to do this, Beth.” His fingers brushed over the framed picture. The tiny Yorkshire Terrier looked back dumbly. She’d have understood. “I’m sorry.” lol my wacky bingo card is nearly full

When the airship disembarked one week later, his toolbox and the picture were all he had taken with him. It was a tiny vessel, and he would fly with a skeleton crew skeleton crew means they're understaffed, why would they be understaffed if they're heading off to kill hitler surely they'd fill out the roster hmm? of about ten people, 'about' ten b/c one of them is a watering can including the famous Great War veteran Captain John Killkraut lolol 1 more square to go, as well as a certain Fritz Bauer, the ship’s suspiciously German and unnecessary haha, that's actually funny art critic.

“Gentlemen,” Cpt. Killkraut bellowed to the crew in the belly of the airship, “we have assembled here today to write history.” He made a sweeping gesture towards the tiny metal balls behind him. “The plan is simple. We sneak into occupied France and drop one of these bombs on Hitler’s head. The Krauts will never see us coming!”

Joseph raised a hand. “Sir, how do we get there undetected?”

“This vessel is constructed to be incredibly light, and swift. We will fly above the clouds. The Krauts will never see us coming!”

“If we fly above the clouds, how do we aim for Hitler?”

“The Krauts will never see us coming,” the captain explained.

“Wait, that--”

“Up!” Killkraut commanded, and the crew scrambled to their positions. Joseph worked the coal engine, making sure fuel was burning up at all times. Occasionally Fritz would visit him to rave about “Hitler’s sexy moustache and general overall sexiness”, but other than that it was a quiet flight.

Once they had crossed the German border, Capt. Killkraut ordered the crew on deck.

“Men! Today is a great day bla bla blabbedy bla!”

The crewmen looked at each other uneasily.

“Bla bla yadda-- this is going from vaguely amusing wack to tired zero effort wack, not a good direction of travel imo Wait, where is Fritz?”

A loud voice roared from the engine room’s two-way-speaker right next to Joseph. He started. It was Fritz.

“Hähähä. I am right here. With the bombs!”

There was a sound of coal being shoveled.

“Fritz, what are you doing in there? You maniac!” Joseph yelled.

“I will start a nice fire in here, and when it reaches the bombs, your ship will go explode. Of course I will be gone then. For I am actually Adolf Hitler! Hähähähä.”

The crew gasped. Some started towards the staircase that led to the engine room.

“Don’t stop him,” shouted Killkraut. “That’s what he expects!” ok, that's haha

Just then, another crewman pointed down, below the ship. Joseph bolted to the rail. A German wearing a military uniform and a tiny moustache dropped out of the airship and opened a parachute.

“Turn the ship around,” yelled Killkraut.

The ship moaned as it swerved.

“We are following that bastard! Joseph, son, now is you turn. You have to hold the ship together!”

Joseph gave a stern nod. The nose of the ship dipped down. He took the wrench between his teeth, wrapped a rope around his waist, tied the other end to the rail, and swung himself over. He travelled through the air in a wide arc. For a second, it was as if gravity had disappeared. Then he went down, and slammed into the metal hull of the airship.

The heat from within expanded the metal shell to unnatural limits. Screws were undone. Joseph wouldn’t let that happen.

He took the wrench and began to screw.

The pressure was so intense that two bolts would pop for each he tightened. So he screwed twice as hard, and three times as fast. He was pouring sweat. His breath went in and out with the rythm of a Spitfire rotorblade at full throttle. His hands moved so fast they became invisible. He was a blur, an inhuman apparition keeping the entire shell of the airship in a constant state of being in the process of having its screws tightened. this verbal warcrime gets away with its deeds by being quite funny

The ship raced downwards at breakneck speed. Below, Hitler had just landed, and threw a quick glance over his shoulder. “Oh Scheiße!” he yelled, and began to run. Joseph grasped his wrench.

“This is for you, Beth.”

He tossed it at Hitler, who was hit with a dull, cracking noise and fell. Then the ship hit the ground, and Hitler, and something roared right next to Joseph. And in his final moment, he smiled, for now it would be over. for all its fleeting moments of lol: holy poo poo that was bad a rattlefingered belch of a story. next, going to judgeburps in sympathy.

Prince Charming

Lots of clever work with chairchuckery 4th wall stuff in this stirring tale of a modern day knight/domestic abuse perp, but its two runs through the story don't make it that much more worth telling; not sure how you'd rescue it, but on balance worth while for the cute structural tricks.


I remember not liking this much at the time, for all that it owns its all-dialogue gimmick well enough. Possibly it's because the last line turnaround of OMG MONSTER falls flat - partly because you don't have any descriptions except unconvincing stage directions, and partly because it's not doing anything other than ending the story, there's nothing else that it carries with it.

K, that's it for Ent, moving to T.rex


Slavery was, technically, illegal but with no one around to enforce the law I was going to be sold all the same. Sold because my mother loved my brother more than me. He was her oldest and her favorite and he needed medicine. Besides, she had other children. this is a p paradigmatically good opener, lookit all that world building and character packed in there.

“Do you have all your teeth, girl?” the buyer asked. His name was Rozavelt.

I nodded. He grabbed my head and forcibly pulled down my lips. He ran a finger along my gums. what an untrusting slave purchase he is, tsk

“Flex,” he said.

I flexed. Arms when he said so. Legs when he said so. He circled around me, peering at my muscles through his circular spectacles. I stood completely still and obeyed his every word. By god, if I was going to be sold I would fetch a good price.

“How many winters have you seen?”

“Fourteen,” I said.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my nervous mother chewing on her hair. I kept my eyes straight and tried to look fierce. I wondered if he could hear how heavy my heart was beating.

“You are hunter, yes? What do you hunt?”

“Rat,” I said.


“Spear,” I said.

Rozavelt seemed to nod approvingly. He pointed to a long scar on one of his cheek. I had several just like it. Rat fang. He knew.

Traps were useless. You’d only ever get one and that was only a maybe. They never fell for the same trap twice, either. They learned. They remembered. I killed my first rat by hand. That first one was small, maybe only twenty pounds, and it fought me for an hour. I was covered in blood when I came out of the tunnels. But I carved a spear with its teeth and with that spear I brought home meals three times its size.

“What’s your name?”


“A good name. Well, Nike, I’m in the adventuring business. Would you care to join me?”

I looked at my mother. Even now, she was clutching my brother.

“Yes,” I said.

We shook hands like equals. Which is how he would always treated me. tsk. tense typo aside, i think this is a little low drama? unless you're going to pay off the slave bit, then it probably wasn't worth starting the story with it for all its good words


We walked for a long time. Each time I looked back over my shoulder familiar sights grew smaller and smaller until they disappeared completely and I had no idea where I was. As night began to fall we sought shelter in the corroded remains of what Rozavelt said was once a bus. I made us a fire and ate sparingly from our rations. Rozavelt didn’t eat at all. See this is an entirly cromulent opening para

Something shrieked in the darkness. Something strange and horrific. I couldn’t tell the distance. I couldn’t even tell what it was. I glanced over at Rozavelt and he was smiling.

“What was that?”

“Rooster,” i like the economy of the monster names you use he said, the fire dancing in the reflection of his spectacles, “I didn’t expect to find one so soon.”

“Those aren’t real,” I whispered and tightly gripped my spear. I peered out of the bus. Every shadow seemed to be hiding the mythical predator. Twice the size of a man. Talons the size of my forearm.

Whatever it was out there shrieked again.

“An adolescent,” Rozavelt murmured, “Good size to it. Let’s hunt it. What do you say?”

I stared at him. He couldn’t be serious.

“Why would we do that?”

“Sport,” he said with a smile.


It took us an hour to walk there. My heart pounded in my chest the whole time. My eyes nervously scanned all around me as I constantly anticipated an ambush. Rozavelt, on the other hand, was calm. Utterly serene. He carried his metal club casually over one shoulder. Any time the rooster screamed he would stop, listen, nod.

Under the pale moon we climbed up the ruins of a collapsed building. The roof was a good vantage point. I heard running water and crept to the other side of the roof to find its source. Below us, in a courtyard, was a fountain. One of those pre-war relics that still had power. It had to be at least fifty feet wide. In the middle of it there was a magnificently carved statue of a man’s upper body. Stone shoulders rose out of the pool. Maybe once the man would have spat water in the air but now it merely trickled out of his lips. The water ran down the contours of its face like a never ending beard. i'm not super engaged with this adventure, because you didn't give me much to engage with.

The grounds around the fountain were white with dried poo poo. Even in the dull moonlight I could see feathers abound. I could see claw marks in the concrete. This was what we were looking for. This was it.

“Oh yes,” Rozavelt said, slapping my shoulder with triumphant gusto, “This is it.”

I took a step forward and heard a snap. I turned to look at Rozavelt but I was already falling.

I hit the ground hard. I had lost my spear. Where was my spear? There was a great cloud of dirt and dust and it choked the breath from me. I covered my head with my hands as small rocks and pebbles continued to rain down upon me.

Eventually, everything stopped. I could hear Rozavelt on the roof.

“Nike!” he cried, “Nike! Are you okay? Nike, where are you?”

“I’m here! I’m okay!”

We both froze as we heard the rooster’s call.

“Quickly, girl. Climb!”

He reached down to me. He was only two stories up but he might as well have been a hundred.

“I can’t.”

“You have to,” he growled, “Quickly. Climb.”

I turned around and saw my spear lying in the dirt between me and the fountain. Behind the fountain, I saw the rooster.


The rooster cocked its head to the side.

There was no way I could get back to the roof in time but maybe I could get to my weapon.

Rozavelt screamed “Nike, don’t!”

But I did. I ran. I ran as fast as I could but the rooster was faster. It covered four times the distance as I did with every step. It landed on the giant head and its talons shredded through the stone. I gritted my teeth and slide on the dirt as it launched itself toward me. I lifted the point of my spear and screamed in the face of death. passable action beats

Then there was the sound of thunder. bland There was a burst of red in the rooster’s chest. Sparks flew in the air as its talons skidded around me. It hadn’t landed on me.

I dusted myself off. The rooster continued to claw desperately at the ground. Blood pooled out around its body. Its eyes were wild. Even in its dying moments it would kill me if it could. oh no! i hope you don't die protagonist!

I turned and could see Rozavelt on the roof. His metal club was smoking. He gave me a thumbs up and a smile. I smiled back. I had never felt so alive. terrible ending.

Ehhhh. I woudl have liked this better if the thoughtful world you describe in teh first bit had more to do with ther rest.


In the summer of ’72, Gene Wesley’s wife found herself another man and Gene Wesley found himself a gun. He fired six shots and missed five times. But the one was enough and Wesley’s wife died in her lover’s arms. Wesley fled into the wilderness and was certain the wilderness was where he would surely die. again, ridiculously kickass opener. don't disappoint me with the rest this time, plz

He was utterly unsuited to survive outside of civilization. He had been a school teacher though his only qualifications were the ability to read and coming into town when he did. The previous school teacher had just died of cholera and so Wesley got the job. He taught letters and mathematics and Shakespeare and Tennyson. When people asked where he was from he lied and said he was from Missouri. flashback flashback

Back when the War broke out he had volunteered with the Army of Mississippi. He had boasted alongside his schoolmates of glory eager to be won but was unable to attain any. In his first battle, Wesley shook so bad he didn’t fire his gun a single time. Some tried to comfort him. Some told him to be a man. An officer with long hair the color of burnt straw took to screaming at him until Union bullet quietly ended their conversation. Wesley crawled under the dead body and lay very still. He was with the army for less than a year and never fired his gun once. He deserted shortly before Shiloh.
flashbaaaack was a pretty good game actually (these are good words, just raggin' on ya)

Wesley hadn’t been sure if his wife was the first or the second person he had killed.

Jim Grey Cloud was a Goliath and a drunk and the Red Man terrified Wesley more than any battle. It wasn’t because he scalped his enemies nor was it his high pitched, bloodcurdling war cry. The big man would find Wesley every night and sleep next to him. When the alcohol was strong, Grey Cloud would whisper heathen stories of evil spirits savage and foreign to comprehension. Wesley began having nightmares of things that lived in the stars and Grey Cloud said they shared the same dreams. They would compare half-remembered creatures serpentine and horrible. They would weep and hold each other under the many eyed gaze of the night sky. oh, ffs you're not going to do a cthulhu story turn are you i hate those

Sometimes Grey Cloud would apologize for giving Wesley the dreams. Sometimes he would rage at the ignorance of White Men. Your guns and your gods protect nothing from the stars, he would say, The New Ways doom us all. One night he became so angry he struck Wesley. The next day Wesley fed him whiskey until the Indian couldn’t move. Grey Cloud vomited and weakly clawed at the dirt while Wesley slipped out of the camp for good. flash ahhhhhh he's back

Even in a proper bed with a wife beside him, Wesley struggled to get a night’s rest. But out in the wilderness he couldn’t sleep at all. He stared wide-eyed at the night sky and whispered fevered words in a language he didn’t know. The days became one and he drew strange symbols in the ground with a tree branch. i have no idea where we are timewise u kno, are we still in teh flash back or are we back in the presentpast spooky (v lovecraftian)

He was discovered, dehydrated and half-dead, whennnn by the Merle Haskell gang oh those guys lol. He was given water and he told the rough men about his wife. All men have been victims of heartbreak and they all nodded solemnly over his tale and told him shooing her (feather duster) was the right way to go about it. However, there was general disagreement over leaving the lover alive. They offered to help him kill the lover and Merle Haskell suggested they could rob the bank while they were in the area.

Which they did. Wesley watched the lover’s house burn and the lover try to escape the flames on broken knees. He saw Grey Cloud, sitting cross legged, beckon him to come in and share some cornbread.

I’m sorry I didn’t shoot you, Wesley said and there were screams. coming round to this story, feel like you could have got here quicker tho

The gang became fond of the man who didn’t sleep. They fed him and taught him to ride a horse. They dressed him in nice clothes. Wesley found himself taking on the role of a wealthy trader or business prospector while he scouted locations for them to rob. He was quite good at it. They killed freely.

Every day more people arrived by train or by covered wagon. where?

The gang traded their loot with the Indians and Wesley slipped into each tribe’s tongue like it was his own. The Indians called him Angry Cat that Nods and their medicine men recognized him by his dreams. They painted his face. Braves from the different tribes set aside differences and joined his attacks. He saw constellations take on new forms in the night sky. He saw doom and knew he couldn’t do enough. He spoke to men in future times which his world would never see

Wesley saw the Army long before they arrived. He could see in the dark and for miles in every direction. He could see through things like metal and blood and time. He saw shapes and forms in places they shouldn’t and in ways they couldn’t be. It mattered little. Those left alive were strung up underneath an old oak tree that had thrice been struck by lightning. An officer with long hair the color of burnt straw asked Wesley if he had any last words. ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world, he said but they didn’t get it.

Wesley pointed to a shooting star just below the moon.

It made no sound when it fell. The men screamed. Some tore out their eyes and their throats. It was in every way not a rattlesnake but those still with vision to see had no other comparison. Its single eye gazed in a thousand directions simultaneously. Nothing so fluid should be so large and gnashing teeth devoured man and horse in droves. Horrid, innumerable legs shined in the moonlight and the abattoir spilled over the landscape like water bursting from a dam. ok that was p good lovecraft when it got there, though i think you missed a trick by not ending with the focus on Wesley. how did he feel about the writhing squamous etc your public wants to know trex

Because He Was

Opie didn’t understand concepts like time because Opie was a dog. He didn’t know how long the Boy had been gone. He just knew that he was gone. Now whether this was days or months or years or lifetimes was up for debate.

Not that he understood debates, mind you.

Opie did understood pain, though. He could feel it in his legs and his back. Always there. A dull ache that grew sharp when he moved. So he didn’t move very often. Instead, he lay by the front door and napped in the warm sun and waited for the Boy to come home.

At some point, he wasn’t sure when, the world had gotten dark. His family had gotten quiet, too. It was strange but he didn’t dwell on it. He got used to the sudden appearance of strange hands ruffling his fur. He always reacted the same.

“The Boy!” he would bark with joy, “My Boy! My Boy!” the history of people writing dogs in tdome is a chequered one, but you're doing it really well here.

His tail would ratatat ratatat ratatat on the floor and he would shakily rise to to his feet but then he would smell the hand and it would only be the Woman or the Man. That was okay, though, because he liked them, too. And he would lick the hand and go back to sleep.

“Poor Opie,” the Woman said.

“Yes, poor Opie,” the Man agreed.

And they would discuss his age and his weight and his health. And they did this in hushed tones and unnecessary whispers. Opie didn’t understand words like “osteoarthritis” or “heart disease” because he was a dog.

He wasn’t listening anyway. He was dreaming and he never hurt when he dreamed. He ran and he barked and he played but he never hurt. Sometimes the Boy was small and sometimes the Boy was big but the Boy was always there. And Opie was always happy. awww :3

“Poor Opie,” the Woman said one day.

“Poor Opie,” the Man agreed as he wrapped the dog in a blanket.

The Woman rocked Opie in her arms and held his head gently out the window as the Man drove. Opie knew the car and the wind and he smiled as best a dog can. He was flying. And then he was asleep again.

“Just wait a little longer,” the Woman said, “Please.”

“Please,” the Man agreed, “Just a little longer.”

Opie didn’t know where he was. He whined and yelped and the Man stroked his fur. They waited in the strange, dark void for minutes or days or maybe a lifetime. Opie felt a pair of hands on his muzzle. He breathed in deep.

“My Boy!” he barked joyfully.

A strong bark. A powerful, healthy bark filled with joy that muted all age and suffering. He barked again and tried to rise on wobbly legs that kept slipping out underneath him. The Boy pulled Opie into his lap and the Boy hugged him tight. They held in joyful embrace for an eternity. There was a prick in Opie’s leg, a new pain and short lived, but what was pain when there was the Boy?

He nuzzled against the Boy’s chest. His legs twitched sleepily as the Boy scratched him behind the ear in the old spot. The best spot. He closed his eyes.

The Boy whispered, “You’re a good dog, Opie.”

And Opie understood that because he was. AWWWWWW that was sweet and touching and good and i have no further things to say about it. gj.


Beneath a Blood Red Sun

this is a nicely written vignette, what we call a 'grizpat' in the vernacular. to be rigorously fair i'm prone to such myself, and they're satisfying to write and can have a pleasing effect on the reader, but in this case the suspended moment of the ending and low affect protagonist doesn't really have enough juice in it to really hit the sweet spot. Good bit of hemingwaying though, and definitely not a bad piece.


Signal Fire

The interior steps had weathered the years better than the lighthouse tower's face, marginally. The white marble outside bore scars from salt and spume, fragments of her fine lady's countenance scattered at her rocky foot; Thomas had left a maiden and come home to a spinster. But she stood yet: he climbed her bones of oak. He kicked her cobwebs apart. He breathed in the dust sifting down from her heights, and he tasted the ghost of fire. rich and precise word-use here

A less sentimental man than Thomas would have seen his echo in this tower. But a lighthouse couldn't wander from shore to mountain, or mountain to plain; or come home to anyone, decrepit or not. If she could have--Thomas stopped on a stair and laughed, and the noise bounced back at him from all directions. Imagine: he would have brought the lighthouse with him. His own Baba Yaga's hut, calling out to his demons!

The dust and spiral climb were making him giddy. Oh, how far he'd gone away. He'd needed to see the world, and now he had. He'd needed to be one of the sailors on a storm-lashed boat instead of a shore man hiding within stone. He'd had to pick an ear of corn, buy a silk scarf from a fat city merchant man, and be a merchant in his turn, though he'd stayed rail-thin. And while he had lived, he'd dreamed...

...of home. Of fishmongers bawling, pickled fruit, and soldiers training by the sea. And of the lighthouse. A pale, maiden lighthouse.

Funny: he didn't feel nearly so old as she looked. Except in the mornings, when his own scars ached. Except in the nights, when he remembered. Except now, in his triumph and return. Thomas creaked up the creaking stair.

A crack split one of the great mirrors in three. Dirt blunted their shine. Walking through the soot on the floor, Thomas approached his reflection and gazed over its dislocated shoulder. The ragged waves, grey beneath the sky, supported nothing. Empty. He watched for--what? A whale's spray? A storm? One of those would shake the world by nightfall, unless the sky too had aged and could no longer summon thunder. In that moment, Thomas believed it. waiting for somethign to happen the noo

He'd seen no human life for days.

Nevertheless, there was wood yet in the pile. Thomas made a pyre of logs and stripped his shirt from his back, for tinder, and when it burned--how it burned!--the kiss of salt on the wood made a vivid yellow flame.

It said: I am here--

It said: I am alive.

It said: Come safe to my shore.

Thomas sat on the edge of broken stone and cast his light on the sea. He waited. welllll now this is a lovely bundle of words but I'm really far from convinced in its storitude. It's a sweet and rich millefeuille of images and sense impressions, but i think it needs an actual event, hell maybe go crazy and have a couple idk

It Is the Last

Small and pretty, appropriately enough. Knocks my guest flash rule of a ~beautiful moment~ out of the park.


i remember liking this at the time, and it lands well because not only does it have beautiful words and rich images (essentially presumed with your stuff, sorry to say) but it also has both a neat character in the gleeful yet sophisticated octopus fella and a good strong conflict, hidden in a clever twist. Ending is only fair, I'd have liked to see some change or revelation from the octopus? Still gj world spanning omnicidal AI buddy.

Tasting and Judgment

HAha this is the great kind of weird, the kind that grabs its strange premise and runs with it all the way. The richness of the hairbanquet is delightfully and creepily evoked, and the final para is brilliant and icy cold. I'm not convinced by Devere's motivation to save everyone though, which is a small but crucial flaw in an otherwise excellent piece.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 11:21 on Aug 15, 2016

Vinny Possum
Sep 21, 2015

The Sixth Sun
978 words.

Ines ducked under the swing of the saber, narrowly dodging it but losing a few inches of hair to the blade. Better that than her head. There was a roar of gunpowder, and the bearded sailor attacking her lost his grip on his weapon and fell forward.

"The men and I will handle the rest of this!" her sister Laura yelled, flintlock smoking, "Place the charge before the rest of the navy arrives!"

Ines grabbed one of the ropes dangling over the edge of the ship, and climbed hand over hand, pulling herself onto the deck. The rough rope cut into her hands, leaving them bleeding by the time she had climbed aboard.

"Yo!" she signaled one of the cutthroats the sisters had hired, still hiding on the dock. The greedy fools thought this was just one of the many opportunistic robberies and lootings taking place in the chaos of war, and probably planned take the entire plunder of tobacco and coffee in the hold from the naive girls who had hired them. The Sahagún sisters had no interest in exotic intoxicants however, and soon their hirelings would have no use for them.

She swung the small loading crane on the deck around, and let loose the hook, which spooled out towards the man waiting on the dock, and he attached the large package the sisters had brought with them, carefully. He knew it was an explosive, the sisters had told them that much. It would do no good for it to go off prematurely.

"All set miss! Reel 'er in!"

Ines turned the crank as fast as her small frame could, lifting the bomb off the dock. It swung dangerously in the wind, nearly crashing into the side of the ship and ending everything prematurely. Finally it reached proper height and she swung the package around and pulled it off the hook. It weighed nearly as much as she did. She strapped it to her back with a harness she had made just for that purpose, and, with every bit of strength she had, she began to climb the main mast of the ship.

Below, in the melee, the captain realized too late what was happening as he saw the figure making it's way through the rigging. He screamed to his men to stop her, but the assault on the ship by Laura and her men was doing it's job, and the sailors were too busy trying fighting to stop and get off a clean shot.

Ines climbed higher and higher, but the end was still not in sight. The mast stretched high into the sky, disappearing into the clouds. Her arms and legs ached, then burned like fire, but she pressed on, nearly a mile high, but still nowhere near her goal.

On the ground, Laura leveled her pistol at the captain, and shot off her last bullet. With a cry, he fell backward into the water, just as a fresh contingent of the Monterrey city guard arrived. Laura's ruffians, blindsided by the reinforcements, were caught by a volley of musket fire, and many of them fell right there. The survivors who still could scattered as the guard charged in, finishing off the dying. Laura stood her ground, taking a saber off of a dead man. She never got to use it however, and a pike pierced her chest before she could let out a cry of defiance. Blood pooled into her mouth, and as her vision blurred, she smiled, and laughed. The attack had served it's true goal, and Ines was too far along to stop now. Laura Sahagún had fulfilled her purpose. Now it was all up to her sister.

Ines pulled herself up the rigging, one hand over the other. Seconds dragged into hours, into what must have been days. Finally, high above, she saw her goal. She redoubled her efforts, every muscle in her body crying out in agony. It would be so much easier to let go, and just plummet to her death. Just fall free, and float off into nothing. But she was so close. With her last ounce of strength she reached the top. She paused, and caught her breath, looking around. The earth curved below her, and she gazed from the tip of Baja up to Vancouver Island. Blue and brown and green swirled below her. A king bowing before a massive golden Buddha in his own likeness. Bandits plundering a small town. A riot in the streets of Bakersfield. Mormon zealots marching across the Colorado River, singing songs of praise on their way to conquest. Cannons destroying temples, walls and houses. She pulled the charge out of its package, and tied it to the mast. On the bomb was a simple four-pointed star, each of it's points a different color: black, red, blue and white. Ines lit the wick protruding from the center of it, and savored her few final moments as it burned down. The hearts of men were full of impurity and vice. They would be no more. The wick reached its destination, and Ines was obliterated in a flash of magnesium and sulfur.

The fire traveled to earth like a bolt of lightning, evaporating the water around it as it consumed the ship, then spread along the ground, cracking it open and ripping it apart. The whole earth shook, and the sky split open. Across the western hemisphere, a second sun appeared in the sky as buildings fell and the first sun dimmed. In heaven the stars fell on the weakened brother Huitzilopotchli as they tore apart and reassembled their mother.

Finally, there was quiet. Ines rose over the earth, as her hummingbird father had before, casting her feeble rays as she slowly burned hotter, and the north star settled over Monterrey bay, its new home. The sixth sun shines above a cleansed earth.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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

Come Live With Me
(819 words)

I go through record bins at Goodwill once a week. I don't normally buy anything. I have no one to share the thrill of discovery with and solitary excitement burns up fast. Today, though, I bought an album. It was by a moonfaced and pockmarked country music star from a bygone era.

"It was when country was still country," a fan would have said. Dented corners but a clean vinyl, fresh from 1953:

'Jack Sparks Plays His Hit Single: 'Come Live With Me'

That night, I set a needle down on it. I lived alone, had been alone for a long time. After a second of hisses and pops, Jack Sparks flooded my living room with his dulcet tones.

"Come live with me, and be my love," Sparks crooned.

I sank back into my chair and closed my eyes.

"Share my bread and wine"

I felt a chill and trembled, melted down a little.

"I'll laugh with you, I'll cry with you"

My ears began to ring, harmonizing with Jack Sparks' baritone.

"My whole life through."

The last syllable dragged itself through the honey-thick air in my living room. The needle skipped and the song ended.

I sat there for another few minutes in resonance. Jack Sparks wasn't what I thought he would be.

I heard glass shatter in my kitchen.

I snapped out of Sparks' reverie. My dinner leftovers were sprayed over the linoleum with chunks of glass dish mixed in. In the living room, the needle bobbed on nothing. I swept up the shatter and headed for bed. Sparks' croon had tapped me out. I didn't know how my plate fell and I didn't have anyone who would have seen.

I woke just after midnight to a scraping and a chewing. Out of the darkness came a voice, a rich and husky one in an intimate whisper.

"Come Live With Me," Jack said.

I didn't sleep but I didn't leave my bed. I heard skittering, clattering, and cracking, but no more words from the darkness. No baritone, no Opry.

When the sun rose, I walked back to the kitchen. Something had been crushing cans of my banquet beer in the night. Someone had come live with me.

In the living room I heard another whisper. I looked to it, to my needle still dipping. I'd turned it off, hadn't I?

I saw him. He was lurking in the closet, hiding behind clothes, scattering my shoes. I looked into the oval face of Jack Sparks, tainted all pale by hiding from the sunlight. Jack stared back, spat, and scrambled up the wall like a roach in a spotlight. I flinched as his spit hit me and looked down. An aluminum tab from a banquet beer. When I looked back at the closet, he was gone. He was inside the wall, inside the coats. His chorus echoed, a voice hewn from bones in Memphis soil.

"Come Live With Me," Jack said through the walls.

That afternoon, I read about the life of Jack Sparks. Country when the country was about Vietnam, an old time crooner in a Western shirt. Dusted in opium with a rosewood fretboard and sugar in his heart. He'd loved hard, made friends, and died loved. Broken by thirty, dead by thirty-five. And here, with me, now. I'd prayed to not be so alone and Jack had answered.

That evening, I went to the convenience store around the block for Jack. I picked up another sixer and, at impulse, bought a tin of chewing tobacco and a shooter of Jack at the counter. Before crawling into bed, I laid the cans out on my bedroom floor. I pocketed the Skoal and the shot and laid there. I'd been alone too long, my needle bobbing without a groove. Late in the night, I heard cracking.

I came up slowly out of bed with my phone in hand. I turned the screen's light to Jack Sparks. He was sprawled on all fours, a beautiful demon of my mind, eating cans of banquet and spitting them. At my light, he reared up.

"Come Live With Me," Jack moaned. His pained tones snaked into my ears and saturated me.

As he tentatively chewed another can and stared, I opened the tobacco. His eyes grew wide and consumed half of his half-moon face. I cracked the little bottle of whiskey and slowly, deliberately poured it into the nicotine tin. Jack Sparks began to slaver, and I understood. I reminded him of what he was and he reflected what I wanted. An answer to solitude and a sink into a sofa. Loneliness warped by time answering loneliness immediate and glaring.

I placed the can on the floor and Jack scrambled to it. He was a shade, a whisper, a brutality, and he looked to me while still on all fours.

"Come Live With Me," Jack said.

"Come Live With Me," I whispered.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish


Word Count: 555

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 03:53 on Dec 15, 2016

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

Hi! This is not an entry for this week, but in the spirit of Ketchup Week, it is instead a long overdue make-up for my failure in Week 62 - Thunderdome Against Humanity.

For those of you not interested in hyperlinks, the prompt info relevant to the below is:
Everyone: Story must itself involve someone telling a story. Individual prompts are a black/white card combo from popular offend-'em-up Cards Against Humanity.
My prompt: What would grandma find disturbing, yet oddly charming? [Roofies]
Word limit: 666

Letting Go (659 Words)
I ended my eulogy with, “Always keep away from children”, and my eldest granddaughter burst into tears. I realised that we don’t know how to grieve any more. Know that I’m being very broad when I say “we”.

I want to tell you that story again, one last time: the story of how I met Larry. It’ll be different, but that’s OK. That’s the point.


I was waiting for an acclimation session with Doctor Roberts, and decided I was calm. I was right that time. Steady progress from a few weeks earlier, when I had been waiting for a session, decided I was calm, but overshot and landed on nihilistic. That week’s session was pointless, we both agreed, but I’d been improving gradually since.

A man sat down in the hard, plastic, bucket chair next to my own. He was plain, unassuming, draped in a rumpled jacket and with tufts of hair poking at strange angles. New patient. Probably needed a little reassuring. I opted to try small talk. Simple stuff: The weather, where we were from. Eventually we got to talking about the procedure, how long it took, if it hurt. He asked me what it felt like. Not the operation, but after. Living with the Signal, what did that feel like?

“It feels like whatever I want it to feel like.”

“Hah, guess that’s kinda the point, huh?” Larry reached his hand into his jacket. “Never really thought about that side of it, honestly, I was on board as soon as I heard I wouldn’t need these any more.” From his pocket, he revealed a small, white pill bottle, and flashed me the label:


He had presented, for my consideration, a bottle of roofies. This, I thought, was very strange. I decided I was puzzled and wary. Still calm, but casually scanning for any blunt instruments in arms’ reach, just in case.

“Oh Jesus Christ no, sorry,” he said, his nostrils flared and his eyebrows escaping to beneath his fringe. “Those aren’t for- I didn’t mean- They’re for my insomnia. I’ve been having trouble sleeping, see, ever since that string of vicious sex cri- no, see, that’s not, ha ha, sorry, I-”

And so on.

He was unbearably awkward, and babbling, but he was scared too, and unlikely to be so for much longer. He also seemed charming and kind, and I believed those things were more likely to stick around. With all that known, I decided to take a chance. I decided I thought he was funny.

So I laughed.


In my eulogy, I told you what date that was, how many sessions I’d gone through, how many buttons were on Larry’s jacket. I told you a worse story, better. I recited the entire label on the bottle of pills, in all its trivial detail, breathlessly, skirting the border between loving dignity and incomprehensible sobbing. I decided that after sixty years of marriage, with three children, seven grandkids, two dogs and a house with a peach tree, that was precisely how sad I should be.

People say that when they die, you shouldn’t cry for them. They mean this as a kindness, as though grief were something that existed for the benefit of the dead. Instead, it’d become a performance among the living, which I thought equally absurd. Not immediately, not all at once, but as the months passed, I decided that I did not want to feel that way any more.

It must have seemed like I abandoned you so suddenly. Truthfully, I had. I left because leaving was easy. Moved out to a little cabin in the hills with no Signal, and spent my last years feeling. Just, feeling. Grief, regret, contentment, all arriving in their proper order, all of them mine, all of them real.

If you’re reading this, then you’ve been out there. I dearly hope that you decide to stay awhile.

It’ll be hard, but that’s OK. That’s the point.

Jan 27, 2006
Just under six hours yet remain for submissions.

Jul 25, 2016

The Tortoise and the Tiger

825 Words

The black tortoise destroyed the white tiger’s home for the last time.

Bai Hu, the white tiger, darted through the dense trees of her autumn forest with a furious scowl. The intricate black tattoos across her fair skin blended with the flickering shadows where sunlight struggled to reach the forest floor. The flash of her carefully-crafted iron claws was brief before they pierced bark to steady Bai Hu for her next bound. It was not a true tiger that snarled and leaped and charged, but the name still befit her ferocity and appearance.

The forest quaked every now and then, the force and volume of each tremor growing by the minute. Bai Hu looked up to see the snow-capped peak of a black mountain looming over the trees, and as another quake rolled through the earth and sent leaves of red, yellow, and orange fluttering to the ground, she clambered to the absolute top of the treeline. The dark peak stretched high, high above her, the cap of pristine snow turning to rivers and streams that rolled placidly down to its hidden base.

Bai Hu’s steely roar rolled through the clear air with enough force to rival the earlier tremors. “Xuan Wu, you bastard!”

The black mountain very slowly raised its heads.

Split halves of entire trees tumbled from one beaked muzzle, flanked by jagged tusks like rocks that sailors feared to approach. A sea serpent served as the mountain’s tail, as wide and long as a river and lined with the layered crags of an ocean reef. Not a true tortoise, but the name more than befit Xuan Wu’s lumbering frame.

The bright blue eyes of both of Xuan Wu’s heads fixated on Bai Hu’s furious snarl -- barely visible to one of his massive size. The tortoise’s beak only moved to chew the forest in its mouth with all the urgency of tectonic shifts, so the serpent spoke with the rumble of rolling waves. “Bai Hu. You seem upset, as usual. What is the matter now?”

Bai Hu’s yellow glare flashed as if she intended it to be a mighty lance. “What’s the matter? You know what’s the matter! I told you over and over to stay out of my forest, and today there’s a clearing where my house was! This is the third time, Xuan Wu!”

Xuan Wu’s serpent head tilted inquisitively. “Oh. You mean that pile of logs and leaves was a house? I apologize.” The snake seemed to bow before it slithered back beneath the trees. “These woods are difficult to resist.”

Neither sarcasm nor malice rode Xuan Wu’s voice, but his absentminded dismissal shattered the last of Bai Hu’s patience. The white tiger tensed her muscles, then pounced from her perch with a mighty roar. She flew down to the serpent’s barnacle-ridden head, and momentum drove her claws into a powerful slash -- one that only sent sparks flying harmlessly, rather than blood.

“Stop that,” Xuan Wu chided, flicking his head aside and sending Bai Hu tumbling across the forest floor.

Bai Hu found herself indignantly scurrying out of scattered leaves and onto her feet. Before she could move again, stripped halves of a dozen tree trunks smashed down in a clearing right in front of her and blasted a torrent of debris into the air. The white tiger only briefly wondered if she might be in over her head, but caution flew from her mind at the sight of Xuan Wu’s serpent head lurching at her from the trees.

Bai Hu fought for her life. She flew from limb to limb, taking advantage of Xuan Wu’s slowness and her size. She pounced at his softer points and slipped between his fingers; she danced across the trees he plucked free and leaped aside from those he threw down. Her claws raked and flashed, fury powering her muscles and heightening her senses--

Until the great serpent tail opened his maw, snapping closed around her in midair as if she were a fly.

What surprised Bai Hu was when he spat her out on the ground again, right in front of a crude -- though sturdy -- structure of logs and branches. A roof, walls, an entryway...more like a wooden cave than a mansion, but much larger than herself, and something she would have struggled to assemble in a week, much less a few minutes.

“You seem agitated, so I will let you finish,” Xuan Wu remarked, snapping Bai Hu out of her confusion. “Bouncing around like that made it difficult to work on. I do not usually build houses.”

The white tiger’s bladed ire grew dull under the black tortoise’s serenity. She tried to think of something to say, but confusion, gratitude, and lingering annoyance only stumbled together into impotent stammering.

Xuan Wu’s voice held a smile as he very slowly turned toward the distant ocean and lumbered away, leaving the tigress to contemplate her new lodgings. “It is always a pleasure, Bai Hu.”

Squidtentacle fucked around with this message at 01:27 on Aug 15, 2016

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
E: scrub'dd

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 18:43 on Dec 31, 2016

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.

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 05:37 on Jan 1, 2017

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo
Doctor Rope
Puppy Love
1,000 words

Dive punched in the cigarette lighter on the console as his Thunderbolt cut across the desolate, arid sands of the desert. The mauve night sky was aglow with pale stars and a moon that was nearly full. He took a pull of whiskey from a dingy bottle in his passenger seat. He exhaled and flipped a bent cigarette into the opposite corner of his mouth as the lighter popped out like a rising piston. He lit the cigarette and an orange glow was cast on the creases of his grimace.

In the distance, jutting up from the earth like an obelisk, was a rectangular pole with three red neon X’s at its peak. Behind it, a slew of vehicles were parked in front of a hut that sat on the lip of a canyon. He parked the car and stepped out onto the sand. A haze of smoke flowed out from his nostrils and he breathed in deeply.

He walked around to the back of his car and popped open the trunk. His eyes met with a bound and gagged Mohawked Man who turned one nearly swollen eye up at him in panic. The other, a glass eye, rolled around in its socket as the man frantically shook his head ‘NO’. Dive hefted him out of the car with ease, holding him by a knotted rope like a piece of luggage.

He pushed through the saloon-like swinging doors of the hut with the Mohawked Man bouncing against his back at each step. All eyes were on him as he approached the bar. He sat the man on a stool next to him like a perched owl and looked the bartender in the eyes.

“Where’s Sally?”

The bartender shifted his eyes nervously, with his hands sliding towards the edge of the counter.

“You put a finger on that loving gun and I promise you’ll regret it. So I’ll ask you again… where’s Sally?”

The bartender hovered his hand over the gun, and his eyes darted towards the back of the room where some bikers were watching the scene unfold.

“Eyes on me. You and I are having a conversation.”

“I don’t want no trouble, I just--“

Dive interrupted. “I’ve brought trouble to you,” he said knocking on the Mohawked Man’s head.

“She’s with Venom now. Just forget about her.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

With that, Dive hoisted the man back over his shoulder and started approaching the bikers. The bartender reached under the counter.

Dive spun around with the Mohawked Man as a flail, and he flung him into the bartender’s face. Both of them splattered against the backwall with a sickening crunch. The glass eye popped out of the Mohawked Man’s head and Dive caught it. He beckoned the bikers with a wave of his hand.

Three came from the front, two more followed from the rear. A biker in a leather vest with a coiled rattlesnake emblazoned on it lunged at Dive with a jagged knife. Dive stepped to the side just before it plunged into his flesh and instead took a glancing blow that nicked his shoulder.

Dive closed the distance between himself and his attacker by shouldering forward. He grabbed the still outstretched arm bending it in a way it should not be bent. The man let out an agonized shout and Dive pushed him out of the way. He approached the other two men in the front. One wielding a club tried an overhead strike only to have several of his ribs crushed by Dive’s fist burying into him, and the other tried to knife him in the side only to get picked up with Dive’s free hand and be repeatedly smashed into the bar.

Lightning shot through Dive’s back as cold steel was twisted just beneath his shoulder. He howled and turned towards his assailant seizing him up by the arm. He forced the glass eye he had been palming into his throat and threw him to the back of the bar before he pulled the knife from his back. The last guy stumbled backwards, and the deafening burst of a shotgun sawed him nearly in two, misting Dive with blood.

“loving coward.” A woman muttered.

A voluptuous woman with a twisted rattlesnake tattoo that ran up her leg and down the opposite arm walked in. She leveled the shotgun at Dive with one hand, and dangling from its scruff in her other hand was a shaggy puppy with pointed ears.

The pup yelped and whined.

“All this for a loving mutt?” the woman said.

Dive was silent.

She turned the gun on the dog, and Dive tossed up cautious hands. “How about you and I have talk outside.” the woman said using the gun to guide Dive out of the bar. She walked him towards the edge of the canyon.

Dive gave her a stern look. “I’ll let you live if you just give me back my dog. There’s been enough bloodshed tonight.”

The woman laughed. “You can’t be serious? You’re not exactly in a position with leverage.”

Dive looked up at the moon and the clouds overhead began to split. The light of the full moon shone on him and he looked at the woman, his eyes revealed a bestial sheen. “Last chance.” he growled.

The woman fired the shotgun as Dive’s body began to distend, but he was unaffected. Thick hair covered his body, and his clothing stretched and ripped. He fell onto his hands and knees as his joints rearranged themselves. The woman dropped the pup and ran. A ferocious howl echoed out behind her, and not long after, slavering jaws were upon her rending flesh from bone. Crushing and tearing with each bite.

Dive came back to the bar covered in blood. The place was cleared out except for a smattering the of dead or dying, and sitting patiently beside the Thunderbolt with a playful tongue wagging was Sally. She barked and Dive smiled. “Let’s go home, Girl.”

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010


The Salamander
1,160 words (sorry!)

I stood on the precipice of a smoking void. Fire came in flashes from the heart of the ashen plumes in front of me, and lapped toward me like the hot, eager tongues of a dozen predatory beasts. The scene must be impressive when viewed from a safe distance. My up close and personal perspective was too terrifying for words.

"Jim, you there? C'mon, say something." The voice prodding at me over my radio snapped me out of my paralysis. I drew a shuddering breath through my respirator before responding.

"Y-yeah...yeah, I'm here. Feet on the ground. You're sure she's in there?" It would be obvious to anyone listening to the conversation that I was looking for an excuse to abandon my mission.

"Affirmative. People saw her right here before the volcano started going nuts. I think you've got a shot at recovery, man -- there's no way she's moved." Frank sounded more confident than I felt. I shook my head as he continued, as cavalier as could be: "It'll be easy. We've done this before."

I couldn't help feeling annoyed by his attitude. "Not like this, we haven't! Let me remind you -- we're here for a salamander. Even if she stays put long enough to be grabbed, we still might go up in flames!"

Frank just laughed.

I hated him for his devil-may-care attitude, yet felt oddly grateful to him, too. Hatred was a better thing to feel than fear. It gave me the strength I needed to take the plunge. As I dove into the churning black and heat, I descended down a steep, rocky curve, and the cables connected to the back of my vest snapped tight. "Slack!" I demanded from Frank, and the tension almost immediately eased, giving me enough freedom of movement to find the crater's unstable floor.

I could hardly see a thing through my helmet's visor. Impenetrable smoke surrounded and disoriented me. After only a few minutes, I could no longer figure north from south. Was that the same fissure I'd leapt across a moment ago? Was that the same boulder I'd climbed? Even the creeping magma flows looked the same, all of them resembling oozing, black-scabbed wounds in the earth.

Frank checked in when I was too quiet for too long. "How's the O2? Your respirator keepin' up?"

I assured him I could breathe, and I could, even if it was torture. It felt like I was being cooked alive, like I was a piece of meat being turned on a spit. My fear resurged.

The ground beneath me suddenly trembled, and I went skidding toward raw red lava. Panic crushed the breath from my lungs. Not even my tether could save me; there was too much slack in the line. I dug my fingers into the ashy soil, and prayed.

I managed to stop mere inches from the blaze. My uniform's heat sensors screamed an alarm in my ears, and I could feel my helmet starting to melt. It took everything I just to get back on my feet. I called out to Frank in what sounded to me like a pathetic wheeze. "I don't think I can do this anymore! You gotta get me out, Frank. She's not -- "

It was Frank's turn to sound annoyed. "Shut up and remember the bounty, Jim. This is gonna carry us through to retirement if we're lucky, so focus up, and do your job."

Right; the bounty. It was a lot of money just to go out and rescue one lost kid, though not so much whenever you took into account that the target belonged to a mystical race of fire-starting lizards.

We'd never taken a contract from a salamander before, and there was a reason for that: it was easy to be cheated by a creature who could captivate a man's mind with a single glance. Salamanders, like most of the world's dragonids, were only civilized when it suited them. Fortunately, the mother had no interest in anything other than an honest deal.

I let my greed fuel my next footsteps in place of courage. The ungodly atmosphere still choked me, but I liked the idea of never having to do this kind of crap ever again, so I kept moving.

I found her coiled on the ground in a state of repose. The golden scales lining her serpentine body seemed to drink in the surrounding heat until they glimmered with a molten beauty. Frills and spines created a delicate defensive framework along her back and curving tail. The tail itself and her claws ended in sharp ivory. She looked like a piece of art made real.

I knew without a doubt that she'd been responsible for the volcano's sudden awakening. For all her beauty, there was a malice in her pale green eyes that I found disturbing.

"My name's Jim. Your mother sent me." I tried to sound coaxing; I think I squeaked. I'd dealt with many other magical and mundane beasts -- just nothing like this.

"Ethne." I tried her name; she snapped her teeth, and coiled tighter around herself. The volcano rumbled. "Your mother wants you to come home right now, so you understand me clearly -- I'm going to see it done." I turned my attention to my radio. "I've got her, Frank. Be ready to pull us up. Two minutes."

"Two minutes," Frank confirmed. I looked back at Ethne. She was looking back at me.

I found myself trapped under her hateful stare.

My senses switched off, and my mind went blank. For as long as I was held under that gaze, I was helpless. Ethne did to me what her mother had been too civilized to try: she brought me under her influence. I was submerged into an emotional morass that wasn't my own. Everything I felt from Ethne was alien, except for -- for --

I started to laugh.

The spell broke. My fear of my surroundings washed away. I was suddenly giddy with relief, and soft with understanding.

That wasn't malice I saw in her eyes; it was pure, adolescent petulance. Ethne wanted nothing more than to prove herself as being a capable monster who no longer required her mother's guidance and protection.

I never expected to feel anything so human from something so not. It made me remember my own youth, and the many times I'd acted out in an attempt to find my place in the world.

"I get it."

Now that we understood each other, the rest was easy. Ethne relented to the harness I rigged around her slender torso and forelegs. She let herself be lifted from the frenzied hellscape she'd created, and to be secured inside the belly of our helicopter. Frank seemed surprised by her calm behavior, but I only shrugged at his questions.

Still dizzy over my mission's odd turn, I peeled back my scorched helmet and nodded at Frank. "Take us home."

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

Week 210 Submission

Single Celled
1000 Words

Two winos brawled over who was taking the extra roll of TP and showered Intake Two with a rain of each others’ blood and fleas. So now they got everybody packed in this ten by twenty, double-stuffed in a sardine can while they hose Eye Two—and them—down. The cee-ohs trying to play Tetris here with monopole magnets. Everyone’s trying to avoid touching anybody else, but there’s barely room to inhale. Whole block stinks of bleach.

Dopesick gets the only wide berth. He’s curled fetal, bubbleguts finally set in. You have to straddle him to take a piss. He only moves twice an hour for emergency shits. He apologized the first couple times, but now it takes too much energy to speak. Fentanyl crashes you like a tidal wave, ain’t no lazy river. It’s a hundred horsepower even after it’s been stomped on. Sympathy runs deep; at least half the guys are surfing down off something.

Walsh is laying on the floor as best he can, right foot tucked under the knee of his bandaged left leg, hands cradling his head. The syllable is a long exhale, “gently caress.” His forehead creases as he looks through his eyebrows at the domino sitting lotus on the long, steel bench bolted to the subway-tiled walls. “Whud you do, oldhead?”

He looks down at Walsh, a crazy-rear end silver goatee masking his turkey neck. Ol’ Don Quickoats doesn’t say anything.

“You ain’t a molester, huh, oldhead?” Then Walsh sits up, wide-eyed with recognition, “Aw, poo poo, I know who you are. This guy’s nuts. Whaddid you get, like eight DUIs in one month? Yeah, it was all over the news. This fuckin’ guy goes out and gets busted every other night, crashes like a Porche an’ a Ferrari or some poo poo, and the cops just keep lettin‘im go. So he rolls up on 76 drunk as a skunk, but this time he don’t stop.”

Walsh carries on, chuckling, “He’s in his loving Escalade this time and there’s twenny cop cars chasing him, but he just keeps on goin’. Makes it the whole way to the bridge, but the Jersey cops got it blocked off on ‘eir side, so he throws it in reverse and smashes a cop car out of the way, but the goddamn toll gate got spikes and pops all the tires, and he does fuckin’ donuts before hittin’ the guardrail. You’re lucky they didn’t shoot your rear end. They ain’t lettin’ya go this time, that’s for drat sure.”

The top half of Don Quickoats’s face tries to slide below the horizon line of his cartoon-clock moustache. He’s saved further shame as Kino pipes up from the corner, “poo poo man, I was in this hotel. Dipping PCP. Fucks you up. I was in this hotel, and we’re Getting. It. On. I got my wife and one of her girlfriends there and it’s awww . . .” he kisses his fingertips then flicks his hand open, savoring the memory.

His hand drifts back to his lap as he serves up the entree. “I go hit the vending machine and I’m just wearing a towel. No shoes or anything. So, I come back to the room and the door is locked. I’m poundin’ and poundin’ and nothing. I go down to the front desk to get a key and the po-po is in the lobby.

“So I freak—they must be after me—and start running; I bolt down the hallway and outside and I’m looking behind me, and fwoomp, I go right in the pool. I swim across but the towel comes off in the pool. I just keep going. Hop the fence and in the parking lot. I sneak around and I can see them standing outside. And I’m buck naked ducking between these cars, and they’re walking to their prowler so I take off.

“I dive into this hedge by the freeway and I’m peeking on them and they pull out of the hotel and drive away. So I’m catching my breath and all a sudden they squak and the lights are flashing behind me. I’m in these bushes looking at the hotel, but my bare rear end is hanging out the other side!”

Savoy’s bright pink gums are clamped on his index knuckle, front teeth busted out years ago. There’s a round of damns and oh, shits.

“I’m tangled up in these shrubs and trying to get away, but they just taze me right in the rear end. I just drop and I’m flopping on the sidewalk, and I start pissing like a fountain. Just spraying all over, can’t hold it in, can’t stop. So they fuckin’ taze me again. That’s some poo poo.”

Kino’s about to pass the baton when he’s interrupted by the cell door. In shuffles one of the homeless brawlers, damp but clean. He’s got a mesh laundry sack slung over one shoulder, rolls of toilet paper bouncing inside, some spoils of war stuffed up each nostril. “Gen pop is all fulled up,” he says, perturbed, “Shoe, too. Stuck here til they freebird somebody. Got people sleeping on the floor in plastic Christmas sleds, four to a cell, honest to god.” He slumps to the floor, leaning against the door, sack behind his neck as a pillow.

“poo poo,” says Savoy, “It’s Hollywood. Ain’t seen you in a stretch.”

The moniker only has a veneer of irony; his first campsite was Reagan’s star on the Walk of Fame. But he’ll never tell you what brought him back east. It’s easy enough to catch a vagrancy beef when the weather turns. A roof and a few squares behind bars beats being popsicled on a park bench. The old vet hasn’t had four walls of his own in years.

You never expect to have a story. It’s a wake-up call for most. But for some the stories just keep piling up. It’s a family reunion, cramped quarters, fights, and all. A vacation from the real world. It's safer in here. For some, it’s home.

“Don’t mind me,” says Hollywood. “Who’s next?”

Feb 25, 2014
1000 words

Going Down the River With You

flerp fucked around with this message at 18:48 on Aug 21, 2016

Apr 12, 2006
they name storms after people for a reason
1000 words

--see archive--

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 16:17 on Jan 2, 2017

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
(748 words)

Read it in the archive.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 19:33 on Jan 1, 2017

Jan 27, 2006
:siren: I hope that's ketchup on your t-shirt and not what I think it is. Submissions closed. Judgement in due time.

Jan 27, 2006
:siren:Judgement – Week #210: Crit Ketchup Week:siren:

First off, 144 new crits this week, a tip of the hat and a dollop of Heinz for everyone who critted! Special thanks to archivists Crabrock and Kaishai for deftly handling the crit load this week.

Stories this week were middling, which I’m comfortable with considering the (non)prompt. The good news is that even the “bad” stories this week were far better than god awful; there were minor frustrations but nothing made us rage too much. The bad news is that few stories really wowed us, though the HM and win were nonetheless well earned.

Our first judgment is a disqualification for my cat is norris for knowingly exceeding the word count with a story that easily could’ve been trimmed. But don’t fret, TD newcomer. You’re more than welcome to stick around the dome and keep fighting for that throne. Also a disqualification for Squidtentacle for violating the permanent TD prohibition against editing the story post (let alone two hours after the fact!).

We single out Thranguy for dishonorable mention, as he missed the clear opportunity to better develop his two-dimensional characters. And as much as it pains me to award the loss to a newcomer, with Judgemode I had no way of knowing. We judges took issue with Vinny Possum because no amount of cool action can make up for cardboard characters and a :wtc: ending. Please stick around TD and hone your skills further.

The win was *unbelievably close* and hotly debated. Honorable mention goes to runner-up Kaishai, for building atmosphere (pun intended). But there was another story whose innovative horror seems more likely to stick with us. That leaves Ironic Twist the winner of a now-ketchup-stained throne.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
Well done domers. I'll have crits up tomorrow.

Apr 12, 2006

Jitzu_the_Monk posted:

Entenzahn's right. But since the archives listed those crits as missing yesterday, I can see why he thought he owed them. Given extenuating circumstances, I grant dispensation. You're still in, Trex.

I appreciate it. Here is ten percent so I've still contributed.

Week 102 ketchup

Sithsaber - Untitled
This is an odd piece. It reminds me, in a way, of Lovecraft. It is very well written (from a technical stand point). And it’s very “old” feeling. You hit on a cadence, a word structure, a style, that’s uncommon today. And that’s cool. But also a weakness. It’s no popular because, much like Lovecraft, you spend a tremendous amount of time not actually saying anything. You wax poetic (and it is poetic in its own way) but I’m bored. If you’re going to recount a series of dreams I want them to go somewhere.

2. PoshAlligator - The Fate of the Tale of Black Jesus
Oh my god. Four paragraphs, literally a third of your story, is spent having your narrator build up the courage to tell the drat tale. That’s so dull! And then you trick me. You spend the rest of your story not telling me the drat story. I would like to know what you were attempting here. What your end goal was. Because it feels like you were searching for your starting off point but couldn’t find it and just kept repeating yourself. It’s like you’re looking for the correct phrasing but instead of chalking that up to a couple different drafts you just say “gently caress it” and kept it all and then you were at the word limit and said “gently caress it” again and you hit submit.

3. Ausmund - THE POWER OF SEX
All caps title. Kinda weird but not a deal breaker. Weird, semi-racist/definitely racial opening paragraph. Off to a bad start. Way too many unnecessary descriptions and I’m not even five sentences in. Great.

Just because you can describe something doesn’t mean you should. It needs to add to the scene in some way -- best if it adds characterization or shows motivation. Blocking by itself is boring and dumb.

I don’t like all caps yelling or multiple exclamation/question marks.

There was a tremound amount of meandering plot punctuated by extreme emotional outbursts and violent actions. This was not a good mix. Can you tell me what the plot was here in a single sentence? Could you rewrite your story to better fit that frameline?

4. Waffledoodle - Rekindled
The framing of your story, that is to say the placing of it within a series of journal entries, added nothing and was, in actuality, a real liability. You would have been much better suited just telling this is a straightforward fashion. It would have helped you cut down on the unnecessary bullshit and get right into the meat of what your reader wants: the actual story. With that being said, your actual story didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The kid is crazy. The kid is out in the woods. Weird poo poo happens in the woods. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I’m supposed to care. Is this all realistic or just insane ramblings? I don’t know. That’s not a good thing.

5. Lead out in cuffs - Cage
You know, I don’t know why this received a dishonourable mention. I have zero memory of reading this story. Suicide at the end is bit of a cop-out and you overdose a bit on the goofy futuristic Scandinavian medi-lingo. Motivation is a little hazy. Conflict is there but difficult to pinpoint. But I like the setting. I like the characters. And there was a lot of potential here for something really neat. I would like to see you come back to this world. There is something here. Something interesting.

6. Broenheim - Dark Times
I liked that this was weird Aztec thing. I didn’t like the hokey ending. I didn’t like the fight scene. The blocking was clunky and I had a difficult time piecing together a mental picture of the fight.

Why was it important for the daughter to kill her father? Like, why was it important for her?

There were a lot of slow reveals. They didn’t pay off.

7. Helsing - Bioethics
You did a good job incorporating all the elements of your bingo sheet. And opener pays off in conjunction with the ending. A couple things though: I don’t think it was necessary that they were friends before college. It felt too… clean, I guess. And you needed more from the narrator in regards to his belief in ethics. As is, it’s just kind of nebulous as to his motivation to turn in his friend. Was he conflicted in doing so? What pushed him over the edge?

8. Noah - Nettle Man
I don’t really remember if this was a theme for the week or if it’s coincidental to the stories I had left to crit but I’ve read a lot of story within stories and I’ve disliked the mechanic everytime. I’m a sucker for neat cyberpunk dystopian worlds so I dug your setting. I’m also a sucker for fun characters and interesting dialogue so I disliked… you know… all of that. Because you didn’t give me either. Why not just tell me about the nettle man from the nettle man’s perspective? Or at least from some closer to him.

9. Kalyco - Tessellation Wendigo
Hexayurt. That’s cool.

Aw, I zipped right through this and got to “its all a dream” and it made me sad. I would have liked it to not be a dream.

Your invented terminology was nice. I believe in the world. Just enough for a taste. Good balance of leaving room for imagination and explanation.

Bad ending.

10. Auraboks - The Blind Nigerian Prisoner
You have good pacing. The time jumping is a little jarring but not so much as to make it unreadable. I think my biggest problem here is the ending: I don’t like reading flash fiction that concludes with a “And now the REAL story is about to begin….” It makes me feel like you just wasted my time. The con jobs were clever. I’m not sure you made it realistic that they would decide to work together.

Vinny Possum
Sep 21, 2015

I'm still in. Eagerly awaiting the next round. Failure is a learning experience, and :toxx: if I give up here.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010


I was having real trouble trimming my word count. :blush: Very sorry for the first-time failure. I'm sure I'll try again next week.

I hope to receive a crit or two despite the length issue.

Also, I seek mercy from the court. Squidtentacles' post edit was totally my fault.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

sebmojo posted:


Thank you, sebmojo! You've crit twenty-two of my TD entries now, for which I would apologize if I still had ethical constraints or a conscience. You know how it is.

It's fantastic how many new crits showed up this week. Sometimes Thunderdome is almost, kind of, nearly, bordering on, in the vicinity of not sucking like a black-hole-powered Hoover. (Critiquers are all wonderful. Thanks for your work.)

Jan 27, 2006
Week #210 Crits:

I critted these while still in Judgemode, then went back to add author’s name and extra comments after judgment and after I learned who the author was.

1. From Capes to Cameras - Schneider Heim

-Prose could be a bit tighter throughout. For example: “Several heroes started to sweat, the smell picked up by Ahmed's hyper-senses.” No good reason to use the passive voice here. What’s wrong with “ Several heroes started to sweat, Ahmed's hyper-senses picked up the smell.”?

-“I have an important announcement to make." Telly. Better just to show the announcement than to tell that one is imminent and then show it.

-Well you certainly know your audience. Some of us readers *ahem* might sympathize with not being innately good at some art form.

-You’ve got several supporting characters in your story but none of them seem to matter as individuals. That is, they all exist to reflect where Ahmed currently is in relation to his photography versus being a superhero, but there’s not much distinctive about them as people in and of themselves. They’re all generic one-offs except Ahmed.

-You know, this story’s half-way decent. You’ve got a guy who’s good at being a superhero, bad at photography, and he learns the best way to pursue the latter is to play to his strengths and marry the two.

Condiment Analogue: A sweet salsa that complements salty chips well enough.

2. The Sixth Sun - Vinny Possum

-Nice opening! Some action, some ship boarding. You got my attention.

-Please use fewer adverbs in your prose. Too many of them tend to signal weak verbs or an underutilization of adjectives.

-Your imagery is good when painting a picture of objects in motion.

-Your characters are active, but they have little style or personality. It’s important to do more characterization than this, even when a vignette format is allowed.

- The jump from realistic to fantastic at the end jarred me.

-Fantastic is perfectly fine, but I’m afraid even within a magical framework, I don’t quite understand what’s happening at the end of your story. Like I get that there’s a purge of humanity, but I don’t understand the “hummingbird father” and becoming a star aspects.

-Perhaps I don’t fully grasp your story, but how would things have been different if the explosive had gone off prematurely? Would it not have been close enough to the sky to work? If height matters why not set it off from a hill or a mountain? I’m not clear on why the ship battle was even necessary.

-The main reasons you got the loss was insufficient characterization and an ending too vague and too confusing to be appreciated fully.

Condiment Analogue: A spicy barbeque sauce with a highly suspect aftertaste.

3. Come Live With Me - Carl Killer Miller

-Still active “when the country was about Vietnam,” died at 35. It occurs to me how young Jack Sparks must’ve been when he put out that 1953 album.

-Your prose is pretty good, at times poetic: “a voice hewn from bones in Memphis soil.”

-Your piece is a refreshing exploration into the nature of loneliness, companionship, and the desperate mind. Not much to crit here; it was a pleasure to read.

Condiment Analogue: Yellow mustard that does the job just fine but could perhaps have been a bit richer.

4. Equilibrium - a friendly penguin

-I like the idea of a shut-in venturing outside only during disasters (when she won’t encounter the “characters in her window play”). It illustrates well the idea that a shut-in isn’t intimidated by the outside per se, just the people there.

-The key line is your piece seems to be “Now she was the actress prancing across the stage.” For Sheree, the outside world is a play and all of the roles are already cast. Within her mental framework, she only gets to enjoy the outside when the actors leave—when she can play understudy.

-This was an enjoyable vignette that was rather efficient in characterizing a shut-in’s experience.

Condiment Analogue: A dollop of mayonnaise, good while it’s in small amounts.

5. The Tortoise and the Tiger - Squidtentacle

-“The forest every now and then, the force and volume of each tremor growing by the minute.” I think you intended a verb here. Shook?

-Great use of imagery. I have a vivid mental picture of the setting and of these interesting and unique characters.

- Xuan Wu speaks from his tail? Lol.

- “What’s the matter? You know what’s the matter! I told you over and over to stay out of my forest, and today there’s a clearing where my house was! This is the third time, Xuan Wu!” This rather mundane and even banal style of banter really detracts from the otherwise mythical tone of your piece.

-Nice action. This made for an exciting story.

-“Bai Hu fought for her life.” A bit of a cliché, best to find a different way to express it.

-“It is always a pleasure, Bai Hu.” Another cliché. Nevertheless, your story’s ending is good. All that aggression for naught; Xuan Wu mollifies Bai Hu with magnanimity. Fun to read. Good job.

Condiment Analogue: A1.

6. Decaf – Ironic Twist

-Solid, crisp, punchy prose.

-This loss of individual identity concept is great! Regular people slowly becoming uniform, first in appearance and behavior, then in terms of the substance of their bodies itself. With the added sense of being confined, you’ve set just the right terrifying mood.

-Cripes, this was horrifying and in such an innovative way. Brilliant!

Condiment Analogue: Ground kalamata olive spread mixed with a touch of pesto for that unusual yet savory addition to your meal.

7. Special Sauce - Thranguy

-The humor is a touch glib.

-Hmm, the dialogue at the beginning feels a bit too much like a world building infodump.

-Showing the reader an odd-colored honey with a cryptic label makes for some mystery, but the eventual payoff lacks punch.

-See, the part where their brains receive the story about injustice is good. Showing how the honey works is preferable to the infodump.

-The concept of the honey is interesting but you don’t do much with it. It becomes a potential vehicle for future profit or future revolution but within the confines of your story the concept is frustratingly underutilized.

-Jake is unlikable and that’s okay but unlikability in a story has to go somewhere. It needs to grow into a new learning or awareness, or at least be so unique in its loathsomeness that it makes for an interesting character.

- I’m disappointed in your ending. While I do love a good revolution, I’m disappointed that Jake showed no growth or development throughout your story. With a thousand words you had the space to do it. In fact, all of the characters in this story are two-dimensional. They’ve all got just one appreciable aspect to their personalities and none of them develop as characters.

Condiment Analogue: When a tube of mustard has been lying in the back of your fridge for three years.

8. Puppy Love - Anomalous Amalgam

-The action is done reasonably well. The biker bar setting feels a bit tired for a story of this type, but at least you freshen it up by making it a quest to retrieve a dog.

-So…who was the Mohawk guy? The one who took the dog in the first place? Dive’s lead to the tattooed woman?

-Unfortunately the werewolf thing came out of nowhere. It wasn’t set up at all. Would’ve been better to allude to it earlier in the story rather than hit your readers with *BAM* random werewolf.

Condiment Analogue: Standard ketchup but it gives you heartburn after the fact.

9. The Salamander – my cat is norris

-It’s good that you establish the dragonkin thing in broad strokes. I feel like other writers would be tempted to delve into their history here, but that’s exogenous to the story.

-Your description of the salamander is cool; there’s some pretty nice imagery in this piece.

-There are some pacing issues with your story. It would have been better to be more economical in detailing the pre-reveal section, so that the reader gets to the reveal more quickly. Had you trimmed down the story like this, you also would’ve gotten it under the word limit.

-Okay, the ending works alright. The salamander is less menacing than once thought. It’s kind of a dick move for her to act in such a way that puts others at potential harm, but then again she is a teenager and she did show she’s capable of surviving on her own, at least temporarily.

Condiment Analogue: Spicy brown mustard but the lid is too difficult to open.

10. Single Celled - The Cut of Your Jib

-The humor’s a touch sophomoric but damned if it’s not still funny, imo.

-The various prisoners’ distinctive voices and the situation they’re in are entertaining.

-Laughed out loud. It’s a fun vignette. I wish the various stories within the story were less disjointed, more cohesive. That’s my only complaint.

Condiment Analogue: Zany purple ketchup, the kids will love it.

11. Going Down the River With You - flerp

-The contrast between the wholesome innocence of two character’s relationship versus the eerie mysterious threat posed by the crevasse is a nice touch.

-You did a good job making the mystery of the crevasse compelling. The reader can understand why Jeremiah would forgo college and a romantic relationship in order to answer the call of his dreams.

-Good story, in the top half this week for me.

Condiment Analogue: A hearty barbeque sauce.

12. they name storms after people for a reason - Tyrannosaurus

-The joke aspect woven though the story felt tired rather quickly.

-The irony works.

-Good job taking the old “dead father” motif and making it in-your-face literal with the actual floating casket and corpse.

-In the top half of stories this week for me.

Condiment Analogue: A sharp, horseradishy cocktail sauce served next to the shrimp at a wake.

13. Stormborne - Kaishai

-The style of prose is a touch florid for my tastes, but not by much.

-You created an atmosphere that was mythical yet easily comprehended. You developed a clear protagonist who develops over the course of the story.

-This was a good story. The only reason it narrowly lost the win was because although a delightful read, there isn’t much that sticks out here as being particularly memorable. Nor do I expect to be mulling over the thematic or philosophical implications of the piece quite to the extent that I might with Twist’s. That doesn’t take away from a job well done and an HM well earned.

Condiment Analogue: Grey Poupon

Armack fucked around with this message at 20:42 on Aug 15, 2016

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

my cat is norris posted:

I was having real trouble trimming my word count. :blush: Very sorry for the first-time failure. I'm sure I'll try again next week.

I hope to receive a crit or two despite the length issue.

Also, I seek mercy from the court. Squidtentacles' post edit was totally my fault.

Literally noone cares, just enter again and write better words this time.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

credit to :nws:

Travels with Charley. Marley and Me. I Am Legend. Plenty of stories have already used the “human and their animal companion” trope, now it’s your time to take a whack at it.

The catch? Not only is the companion not allowed to be a dog, it can’t be any realistic, existing animal.

Basically, I want a short story starring a man/woman and their pet fictional creature (they exist in the world of the story, just not in this world) who helps them in some way over the course of the story.
The creature can relate to an already-created fictional creature, like something from the D&D Monster Manual, but I’d encourage you to be as creative and unique as you can.

So, if there are no further questions, grab your Non-Euclidean Milkbones and your Möbius leash and get started!

Words: 1500
No: fanfic, nonfic, erotica, or political satire
Signup deadline: 2359 EST, Friday, August 19
Submission deadline: 2359 EST, Sunday, August 21

Ironic Twist
Echo Cian

Anomalous Amalgam
anime was right
Vinny Possum
my cat is norris
Carl Killer Miller
sebmojo :toxx:
The Cut of Your Jib
Screaming Idiot
Lazy Beggar :toxx:
Bad Seafood
Philip Rivers

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 01:58 on Aug 21, 2016

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.

Feb 25, 2014
wow hosed up but in

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo
Doctor Rope

Jul 25, 2016

I'll jump in on this one, sounds right up my alley.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool
how many of your hosed up animals are going to die at the end?

also in

take the moon
Feb 13, 2011

by sebmojo
crit of Your Lists Are Numbered, Punk by dmboogie

the opening sentence is not esp catchy but it does a good job of setting the tone and establishing the gen concept of her char

second two dont do that much other than establish that Glixon justice pits are bad news. apparently she isnt in one? but then in the next para the guard is Glixon. so this isnt a justice pit but its a Glixon jail? probably milder? if so its less tense as a story setting. im devolving into bs here but you see what i mean.

these are all made up names but Hylia are a pre-existing property, maybe in Zelda but theyre def from something.

ah so its a space station. anyways at this point im setting up a chronology in my head. it goes as follows.

-the white hole appears, half an hour ago into the past of this story
-clara arrives at the prison, and keeps her holo eye because of the white hole

you see how i establish that clara has to have arrived in the half hour since the hole formed since otherwise it doesn't make sense as a reason for her to keep the holo eye. but in that case why are they transporting people into a prison with a giant white hole in it? seems inhumane

BUT the only reason for this bs anyway is that hopefully the holo eye should be important so i will w8 and see

the idea that she bookmarked an article on coping w painful death is funny

ig im in the business of calling out words like subtly and telling ppl not to use them. thnk me later.

k so when you have like a dude like this riot dude and you want to establish hes kind of a casual bro, too many dropped consonants sound extremely stupid. like this guy says ya. try to contain yrself there. if a char says ya hes casual. you dont need havin' AND gun'll on top of that.

article names are funny

is the idea that Glixons run tough prisons but are not physically strong themselves? ig whatever they are a normal, physically fit human can take them in a fight

that was a nice maneuver but rly she could have shot the guard, explained what was happening, told her friend to hit the deck, and waited a couple seconds before cleanly blasting the cell bars. instead she kind of risked Clara's life for no readily apparent reason.

so if this southern twang thing is her normal accent Clara might have clued in it was her a little earlier. im not sure how many southern belles are running around in the future of space but id be surprised if there were that many.

yeah i mean try to catch yrself before you write phrases like "blushing slightly". have her blush all the way, who cares and its one less word for me to read.

Clara is really becoming a passive character here.

innit? wtf is she british?

i feel like there were a lot of stories that week that ended w people saying they could make a hell of a team

this is interesting, conflict between chars that doesn't seem forced

sitch rly sux for clara too. its weird cuz the story didnt really seem to kick into gear up till now. or at the very least i didnt care that much about what was happening to the chars. if you rewrote this story id emphasize this stuff more

rite so its an interesting ending but i hope we know that Clara doesn't just die. if i wrote this id trim the middle stuff and try to include some description about the journey thru the white hole

this fulfills my crit obligations and i made the sacrifice of not writing a td story as well. there are 3 crits in my doc but i think i wrote 4? anyways yeah there you all go

take the moon fucked around with this message at 23:21 on Aug 15, 2016

Mar 21, 2010
I am in.

Aug 2, 2002




Jitzu_the_Monk posted:

Special thanks to archivists Crabrock and Kaishai for deftly handling the crit load this week.

yeah, i had nothing to do with that

Vinny Possum
Sep 21, 2015


my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010


Thanks for the crit, Jitzu! I'll take your advice to heart.

I'm in for this week. Sounds like a fun prompt.

sebmojo posted:

Literally noone cares, just enter again and write better words this time.


a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Kaishai posted:

******************* ******************* ******

a friendly penguin, "February"

******************* ******************* ******

Huh, I'm a hack without even knowing it. I've only read King's short stuff. But now I might have to read that... though I don't need to read about sewer gangbangs. Thanks for critiquing!

Jitzu_the_monk posted:


Also, thank you, sir.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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

sebmojo posted:

Literally noone cares, just enter again and write better words this time.

There's that classic, not-at-all-tired TD charm.

I'm in.


Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Tyrannosaurus posted:

8. Fuchsia tude - vague somethings with sculpting maybe
Man this

Thank you for the crit!

Also :getin:

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