Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Locked thread
Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
In because Skyrim is for the Nords.


Jan 27, 2006

Aug 8, 2013

Yeah give me some Swedish or Norwegian wisdom or whatever, in.

Oct 30, 2016

Sailor Viy posted:

In. Give me some of that sweet Viking wisdom.

"A guest thinks him witty who mocks at a guest
and runs from his wrath away;
but none can be sure who jests at a meal
that he makes not fun among foes."

"The pine tree wastes which is perched on the hill,
nor bark nor needles shelter it;
such is the man whom none doth love;
for what should he longer live?"

ZeBourgeoisie posted:

Yeah give me some Swedish or Norwegian wisdom or whatever, in.

"sickly calf or self-willed thrall,
witch's flattery, new-slain foe,
brother's slayer, though seen on the highway,
half burned house, or horse too swift --
be never so trustful as these to trust."

Fleta Mcgurn posted:

In because Skyrim is for the Nords.

"Like an eagle swooping over old ocean,
snatching after his prey,
so comes a man into court who finds
there are few to defend his cause."

Fuubi posted:

In with a :toxx:

Let my viking blood sing forth and wrest a mediocre-ish story from my creative bosom!

"When I came ere long the war troop bold
were watching and waking all:
with burning brands and torches borne
they showed me my sorrowful way."

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

sebmojo posted:

poo poo yeah mark me down in the man skin bound tome of the cursed choosers of the slain

Okua, you may have missed mojo's mealy-mouthed mumblings

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Djeser posted:

Okua, you may have missed mojo's mealy-mouthed mumblings

Mojo are you judging or posting

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
Always gotta be special

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Sitting Here posted:

Mojo are you judging or posting

okua will decide

Oct 30, 2016

sebmojo posted:

okua will decide

Then you shall be welcomed among the judges.

Okua fucked around with this message at 18:16 on Dec 1, 2016

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Chili posted:

Beef Supreme requested I line crit this story as opposed to his brawl sub, so here it is.

This is great criticism. Thanks. Get Chili to crit your stuff.

Erogenous Beef posted:

Ok, so, on the whole, this is a decent character-driven piece. I have a few macro-level criticisms to level at it.

This is also great criticism. Thanks.

Unfortunately, I don't have time to give your brawl entry the crit it deserves, though I can offer a few general comments. When I get back from vacation, if you want a legit line-crit, I'll give you one.

Garden Variety

Overall, I quite liked this piece. I love me a good dystopia, so you had me invested right away. This idea of veganism run rampant seems a relevant idea in this era of political extremism. I think the length of this piece fits the potential depth of a dystopia focusing on veganism, however--don't really think there are many more places to go.

My main criticism stems from a lack of clarity of the motivations of your character. It's apparent from the get go that Chelsea is a hipster vegan, which you develop well through tone and the relationship with Verne. However, I felt as if her disgust at the burning of the leather was abrupt. Even though I knew she was in this movement for the cultural cachet, there was no hint that she was not fully committed to the cause. Could have used a line earlier suggesting this, or a line suggesting that perhaps she is surprised by her feelings in that moment.

I also could have used some evidence that Chelsea is secretly a meat lover, or was at one point. The use of color (a la The Giver) is a good device, and it makes sense in the context of the story. But where does the compulsion come from for her? Was she formerly a meat lover? Is it pure instinct? An answer there significantly strengthens Chelsea as a character, in my view.

Good dystopian fiction. Good joke ending. Like Chili said, it's a risk, but it lands.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Who wants a norse flash rule

Feb 25, 2014

sebmojo posted:

Who wants a norse flash rule


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

crabrock posted:

*submits thunderdome story*

*too nervous to check the thread and discover loss*

*ignores thread for days*

"fine let's get this over with*

*has 2 hours to make prompt*

the aristocrats

e: okua get on irc to judgetalk, synirc #thunderdome

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 10:08 on Dec 2, 2016

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Put it all together.
Solve the world.
One conversation at a time.


Oct 30, 2016

"Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame."

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Yes OK viking me.

Oct 30, 2016

Chairchucker posted:

Yes OK viking me.

"Herds know the hour of their going home
and turn them again from the grass;
but never is found a foolish man
who knows the measure of his maw."

Baleful Osmium Sea
Oct 31, 2016
In with the Vikings

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Oct 30, 2016

Baleful Osmium Sea posted:

In with the Vikings

"Fiercer than fire among ill friends
for five days love will burn;
bun anon 'tis quenched, when the sixth day comes,
and all friendship soon is spoiled."

"A twelfth I know: if I see in a tree
a corpse from a halter hanging,
such spells I write, and paint in runes,
that the being descends and speaks."

Aaaaaaand as of right now, signups are closed!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
:siren: just a reminder, the submission deadline is in the morning for a lot of goons. 20:00 CET is 11 AM PST and 2 PM EST. You've been warned! :siren:

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

The Guest at the Feast (1350 words)

I liked to follow groups of backpackers around, especially the ones who had lots of sex. I had wandered all over Southeast Asia like that, from Goa to Phuket, until I latched onto Francine and her friends. Francine was just your typical Euro rave girl, but Lily and Wally were deep into the psychedelic occult scene. They were on a pilgrimage to that Mecca of tropical raves: the Full Moon Party on Ko Pha Ngan. There was sex, drugs, booze, dancing—everything I liked. Everything I couldn’t have.

I’d sit with them in the beach bars and laugh along with their jokes. I’d stand in the middle of the crowd on the dancefloor and feel their sweaty bodies moving around me, moving through me. I could hear the music, but I couldn’t feel the vibrations any more.

Before I died, I’d wanted to live forever. Now, I just wanted to be alive again.

It was a few hours before sunrise in their hotel room in Haad Rin. Francine was reclining on a beanbag, two pills deep; Wally was cutting up weed and his girlfriend Lily was talking a hundred miles an hour about esotericism.

“I’m bored,” said Francine.

“You know what we should do?” said Lily. “Let’s perform a summoning.”

“What the hell are you talking about Lily?” said Francine.

Lily rifled through her stuff and came out with an Aleister Crowley book. “Summoning a spirit.”

My ears pricked up—or they would have done, if I’d had any kind of corporeal form.

“How would you like to go on the ultimate trip, Francine? Being possessed by a spirit from beyond.”

“You’re tripping, baby.”

“Nah,” said Wally, rolling his joint. “We saw someone do it, back in London.”

“You scared, Feefee?” said Lily. “I thought you said you’d try anything once.”

Francine sat up. The look in her eyes sent a thrill through me.

Twenty minutes later she was sitting in a pentagram drawn on the floor with mayonnaise. Lily was chanting in a monotone, pausing occasionally when Wally passed her the joint.

As the ritual reached its climax, the whole world started to look like a whirlpool with Francine at the bottom of it. I could have tried to swim away, but instead I dove right into her. Feelings rushed through me—breath, sweat, guts processing food. I opened my eyes.

“Oh my god,” I said in Francine’s voice. “It worked. I’m alive!” I grabbed Lily and kissed her on the lips.

“I want drugs,” I said. “I want drugs and then I want to dance and then I want sex, sex, sex.” I was understandably excited, and the molly wasn’t doing anything to calm me down.

Who are you? Came a voice from the back of my head. What are you?

Francine? I said. Listen, you don’t need to be afraid. I’m just a lonely ghost. All I want is to ride your body for a day or two and then I’ll leave.

Wow! said Francine. I can hardly believe this is happening.

Lily and Wally were whispering to each other. They stopped and looked at me. Then Wally jumped on me and held me down on the ground. Lily flipped through the book until she found another ritual and began reciting it.

Holy poo poo! Francine cried.

This ritual was a lot shorter. At the end of it I felt a sharp constriction close around my soul.
This is bad, I told Francine. I think they just trapped me inside your body.

“We did it!” Wally shouted. “We caught an actual spirit!”

Lily leaned over my prostrate body and kissed him. “We’re gonna be bloody rich, man.”

I always knew you were loving creeps! Francine shouted, unheard.

Fortunately, her body was stronger than it looked. I got one arm free and grabbed the nearest heavy object, which happened to be Wally’s bong, and smashed it over his head. He went out like a light. I threw him off me and stood up.

“You loving bitch!” Lily shouted, but she was a coward at heart. She ran out the door screaming for help.

This is bad, I said. I could get into a lot of trouble for this.

Trouble? With who?

I picked up the Crowley book and flipped through it, looking for a way to reverse the ritual, but it was all gibberish to me.

I ran to the hotel window and looked down. We were five stories up, overlooking a dirty concrete pavement.

Oh no, said Francine. Oh please not that, man. I didn’t know any of this was going to happen.

I swallowed. She was right. Killing this body would be the easiest way to get out of it, but I couldn’t do that to Francine. She was an innocent bystander, and besides, when you’ve secretly watched someone have sex a bunch of times you grow to like them.

Instead I turned to the glass table strewn with drugs and paraphernalia.

That’s it! I said. Maybe some combination of drugs can knock me loose without harming you.

OK. OK, try looking in Wally’s fanny pack, Francine told me.

I tore the pack open and tipped it out: weed, acid, ketamine... “Come on Wally,” I muttered. “You kept telling everyone how your uncle was cured of cancer by a shaman in Brazil. You must have some DMT lying around here somewhere.”

At last I happened upon a bag of crushed crystals that looked about right.

Is this DMT? I asked Francine.

She gave the psychic equivalent of a shrug. Either that or really dirty crack.

It’ll have to do.

I loaded a huge hit into a glass pipe and started searching for a lighter. Suddenly, meaty hands grabbed me from behind. Wally hadn’t been out as cold as I’d thought. We toppled through the glass table, cutting ourselves. Lily burst in the door with five or six tanned shirtless dudes behind her.

I kicked Wally in the balls and grabbed the lighter I had just seen lying on the carpet beside me. As quick as I could I put the flame to the pipe and sucked hard.

I found myself floating in an infinite spiral of darkness, facing towards a wall of kaleidoscopic light. A face made of glowing fractals emerged from the wall and regarded me with five thousand eyes.


I realised that Francine was floating beside me. I’d sent both of us way too far—all the way to the farthest edge of reality.

Holy poo poo, she said.


Wait, I said. I’m really sorry about this, but I got trapped inside her body with her. See, there was this ritual, and—

The face emitted a massive crystalline tone that sent ripples through the cosmos. Yeah, I was in big trouble.

Listen, couldn’t you just send me back as a ghost again?


Then what am I supposed to do? I think they’re going to force me to reveal the secrets of the afterlife.

The face vanished. The wall transformed into a fourth-dimensional solid, then back again.


Wait, what? said Francine. Are you saying what I think you’re saying?


We were sucked back into the spiral universe, two glowing souls plummeting through endless darkness. I reached out and grabbed Francine’s hand.

Please tell me you won’t abort me, I said.

I won’t abort you, wandering soul.

And no more drugs and alcohol until I’m born.

Francine’s spirit was awkwardly silent.

At least cut back on it a little?

Um, yeah. Yeah, I promise.

Together, we plunged back into our bodies and the world.

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.
Stealing Luck, And Something More Than Luck

1434 Words

Prompt:"Let none put faith in the first sown fruit
nor yet in his son too soon;
whim rules the child, and weather the field,
each is open to chance. “

Liam threw the Skrael across the table and called out a name, 'Jimmy Caulins'. He was the captain of the Kennedy High Eagles, representing our school in the state tournament live on TV, and he'd just stripped the ball right out of one of the other team's guys. The Skrael landed with the face showing the number twenty-seven. I scanned down the old mimeographed manual with my finger.

I read the entry out loud. “Twenty-Seven, a comic pratfall, but all is well.” Just as I finished we watched Jimmy slip on the polished wood gym floor. He dumped the ball in a wild pass to a teammate, then tried to get his hands out in front of his head, with only partial success. Our guy took a three-point shot and made it, and Jimmy jumped back up with a bloody nose and a wide grin.

“Woah,” said Liam. “It works.”

* * *

The Skrael belonged to my father. It was like a giant black die, about the size of a baseball with irregular sides that look like they shouldn't even support it. Every time I tried to count how many sides it had I lost track before finishing. Some of them were had numbers up in the thousands, though. One of them didn't have a number at all, just a white skull with tiny red crystal eyes. We found it in Dad's desk, in the locked drawer.

“What is this,” said Liam, leafing through the manual with 'Reading the Skrael' typewritten on the cover. “Jake,” he said, “This looks like some kind of Dungeons and Dragons poo poo. I think your Dad may have been a huge nerd.”

“Have been?” I said. “He's an actuary. You can't get much nerdier than that without being a notary public, and dad's got that license too.”

Liam smiled. I took a look at the pages. “But no. D&D was invented less than a hundred years ago, so Dad wouldn't care about it.”


“We didn't get a television until two years ago,” I said. “Anyhow,this looks like some kind of fortune telling thing.” I picked up the Skrael, looking at the faces as I rotated it in my hand.

* * *

“So who else?” I said.

Liam grabbed the Skrael. “Go big or go home,” he said. “Liam Giffen,”

It landed on 442. “A romance starts soon. It won't end well, but it will be worth it,” I read.

“Well of course it won't,” he said. “Only two ways a relationship can end. Either there's a messy breakup or one of you dies.”

“So who is it?” I said.


“Who do you like?”

His cheeks turned almost as red as his hair. “Like I'd tell you. Anyhow, you're stalling. Or are you afraid?” He picked up the Skrael and handed it to me.

I tossed it in my hand, then across the table. “Jake Norrin,” I said.

The Skrael bounced around the table, skidding around, coming nearly to a stop right on the face with the skull and glowing eyes. We both knew what that meant, even before we looked it up in the manual. Just before it landed, Liam pounded hard on the table. The Skrael jumped, bouncing back towards him, and landed on a face marked '884-a-22'. I flipped pages frantically looking for this heading.

It was very near to the back of the old manual. '884-a-22: Who cheats fate finds fate unleashed, till harrowing in fate's lands makes it right.'

“I don't think we should be playing with this any more,” said Liam. I nodded. We left it there, on the table.

On the television, we'd missed the end of the game and we saw the post-game interview. Our coach sat down with the a reporter to say the usual things about a victory. She started off, addressing him by name. “Coach Fannon, what do you-”

The Skrael leapt off the table, spun around, and clattered down onto face 532. Coach Fannon blanched and tried to control his stomach, but failed, spewing vomit onto the reporter and on live television. The manual's pages flipped themselves. '532, a poor eating habit proves embarrassing.'

I grabbed the remote, trying to turn off the set before any other names were mentioned, but I hit the channel change button instead, to a commercial for Sal Rider's used car lot. As the name was mentioned the Skrael rolled itself again, landing on 42. '42, infidelity exposed for public shaming.' I jabbed at more buttons until it turned off.

I picked it up. “We'd better put this back,” I said, heading for the desk. I jammed it into the drawer and slammed it shut, propping the char against it for good measure. I could hear it bouncing around inside the drawer violently. Then I head a crashing noise from outside.

We ran out to the front yard. Two cars had hit each other, luckily at subdivision speeds. The cars were in poor shape. The drivers were angry, angrier still from struggling out from behind their airbags, but unharmed. Two dogs being walked near the block slipped their leashes at once and ran off. Three sparrows collided head to head to head midair and dropped to the ground, dazed. And a whirlwind of air formed in my yard, picking up autumn leaves and swirling them around, forming an archway, with swirling dust forming a thick cloud within.

A car barreled down the road, our car, the olive green impala Dad still drove to work and back. He pulled into the driveway, stopped hard, and stepped outside, as angry as I'd ever seen him.

“Dad,” I said. Loud clanging thumps rose from inside the house, and in seconds the Skrael burst through a front window, moving like a bullet straight toward Liam's head. Dad jumped, reaching out, and caught it in his bare left hand, with a slight wince.

We explained what happened. He got more angry with ever word, until we got to the part when the skull nearly came up for my fortune.

“And you stopped that?” he said to Liam. Liam nodded. “Well, I thank you for that. But now one of you will have to be harrowed.”

“That doesn't sound pleasant,” said Liam.

“It's not,” said Dad. “But not deadly, either.”

“It should be me,” I said. “It was my fate-”

“To hell with that,” said Liam. He turned and stepped through the leafed archway, and didn't come out the other side.

Dad walked inside with me. “He'll come out in an hour and a day,” he said. “I'll tell his parents that he's staying over the rest of the weekend. We should talk about some things.” He explained about our family, how we're descended from the Norns and have some amount of influence over luck and fate. And then he said something that shocked me even more.

“You do know that Liam loves you, right?”

“What?” I said. “I mean, we're best friends and-”

“More, as far as his side goes at least. It's clear as glass on his face. Now, I don't have any problem if you do feel the same, but if you don't, you should let him down easy.”

“I don't,” I said, “I mean, I never really thought about- I mean, I'm not gay, but, well, I don't think I'm completely straight either.” And there it was. The rest was Dad letting me know he'd always love me, and discussion of how I'd be punished for breaking into his desk. I was pretty sure the television was history.

* * *

The next day, the portal of leaves quietly re-assembled and Liam walked out of it, stumbling a bit. His hair, eyebrows included, was pure white.

“What happened?” I said, pointing at the hair.

“Well,” he said, “The last I remember is that after the harrowing some kind of goblin offered to take away the memory of what happened in exchange for the color of my hair, and it must have been pretty bad because I jumped right on that deal in a heartbeat. Am I ugly now? Tell me if I'm ugly.”

“Actually,” I said, “I think it's pretty hot.” He blushed, which had an entirely different effect on his face without the hair to match it. I kissed him, the first serious kiss for either of us.

I knew it was going to end badly, eventually. But I knew that it would be worth it.

Jan 27, 2006
50: "The pine tree wastes which is perched on the hill,
nor bark nor needles shelter it;
such is the man whom none doth love;
for what should he longer live?"

(921 words)

Once again, Brianna was too fat to kill herself. Three-hundred-and-thirty pounds of stress had buckled her closet beam and ejected its moorings from the walls. Having dropped to the floor, Brianna sighed, used a chunk of jagged wall debris to cut the noose, then threw up her hands and gave herself to desperate laugher, obviating tears.

When she exhausted her laughter, Brianna stood, fetched her Big Gulp, and brought it to her desk across from the closet. She was enjoying the artifice of cherry and fighting carbonated heartburn flare-ups when her computer dinged. It was a Facebook message. Her dead mother.

“I know how lonely you are,” the message read.

Brianna used her off-hand to open the messenger settings and click the report button. Ever since deceased persons’ profiles had surpassed those of the living, more and more hackers had been running “Gravebook” scams: Send messages from a dead person’s profile, trust that the most vulnerable among their loved ones will abandon reason for the comfort of an apparent miracle, then claim an urgent otherworldly need for them to send money.

Brianna set her Big Gulp down next to the empty bottles that had once contained her first attempt to join her mother in death. Whatever the fatal dose was for a three-hundred-and-thirty pounder, eighty pills hadn’t been it.

Both hands now free, Brianna googled, “Best ways to die without drawing blood.”

“Hmm,” she muttered. “Helium asphyxiation. If I charge a party balloon tank to my credit card…”

Ding. “You don’t have to be lonely anymore, cabbage. I’m here for you.”

That one gave Brianna pause. Her mom did used to call her “cabbage.” Used to say she’d been “picked from the cabbage patch.” But any hacker who had dug deep enough into her mom’s profile would’ve gleaned that.

Ding. “Don’t kill yourself. I care about you too much.” Ding. “The pills, the hanging, it’s not worth it. Much better to be alive, take it from me.”

Brianna’s heart fluttered, but she would not commit to the belief. “You’re going to ask me for money, aren’t you?”

Ding. "Of course not. What does a dead person want with money? I want you to live while you still can.” Ding. “Heaven is made of nightmares. The angels beat us, make us eat their poo poo and beg for more. They make games of our genitals and sing songs boasting of the chance to torment our loved ones when they die too.” Ding. “They’re coming, I have to go. Log on to Facebook at this time five days from now. There is so much more to tell you.”

Despite an overwhelming urge to die paired with a dire concern for her late mother, Brianna endured five days longer. At the appointed time, she tried logging in to Facebook, but got redirected:

Attention: Facebook is temporarily blocked in your country as authorities investigate mass fraud.

Brianna’s throat tightened. Frantic, she looked up how to bypass the block. After some light research, she used a foreign proxy, but it was too late. Her mom was offline, not responding to messages.

Brianna stayed up all night in the hopes her mother would come back online. Eventually, she did. Brianna fired off a message. “You said you had more to tell me?”

Ding. “Yes, but there’s something I want to know first. Since I died, how did you get to a place where you want to end your life so badly?”

“I took things pretty hard, mom. Got depressed, gained a ton of weight. Don’t get out much anymore. Hard to get around at my size. Can’t take being this lonely.”

Ding. “But you have been taking it, cabbage. It’s been several days and you’re still here.”

“What was it you wanted to tell me five days ago?”

Ding. “To be afraid to die. No matter what you’re going through, dying is worse.” Ding. “This place is madness. I need to share more with you, but they’re coming back. The angels. Sign back on in ten days. I’ll be waiting.”

Brianna endured the ten days, then signed on. This time, no proxy needed.

“Mom, tell me more. You said they’re making you suffer? Is there any way I can help you?”

Ding. “You can help me by staying alive. You aren’t alone. I’m with you in spirit and I’m very proud of you. I’m sure your father is too.”

Brianna hung her head low. Whoever this is doesn’t know my mom got invitro. Can’t imagine the anonymous sperm donor even knows I exist, let alone has pride for me.

“Listen you scamming little poo poo, I know you aren’t my mom. What do you want from me and how did you know I tried to kill myself?”

Ding. “Oh. Hacked your webcam.” Ding “You’re right, I’m a scammer. Got huge debts to pay off. Was gonna ask for money, but saw you try to kill yourself twice.” Ding. “I’m like, a horrible person, I know that. But I wasn’t just going to let you die. Said whatever I thought would make you want to stay alive. I’m sorry.”

Brianna clicked the report option again and signed off, but she couldn’t help thinking that in a twisted sort of way, the scammer had done her a favor. I lived fifteen days longer than I’d planned. Maybe I’m strong enough to last another fifteen. She swigged her Big Gulp, waddled to her front door and walked outside. She had no thought of a destination, only finding a reason to live.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

Okua posted:

"Like an eagle swooping over old ocean,
snatching after his prey,
so comes a man into court who finds
there are few to defend his cause."

The Judgment Circle
1491 words

“Stand forward, accused.”

The guards were rough, and Aleta stumbled a bit as they muscled her towards Magistrate Argent. She recovered smoothly, and managed a graceful curtsey nonetheless. Lila sighed quietly- would it have been too much for Aleta to put aside her pride and just fall? Seem weak?- but she heard an admiring rumble in the crowd. Aleta was popular among the smallfolk, whereas the magistrate was reviled. Perhaps a show of strength was wiser, after all.

Thankfully, Lila’s part of the plan didn’t involve analysis.

Aleta rose from her curtsey and stood, her head held high.

“You are accused of performing dark magic,” intoned the beady-eyed magistrate, clutching the list of Aleta’s crimes. His fingers left visible sweat stains on the grubby paper. Clearly, the alleged crimes were frightening ones. “You are accused of consorting with demons, of lying with evil creatures to gain their power-“

“My word, is that even possible?” Aleta asked with an overwrought tone of horror. Several onlookers snickered.

The fat little man’s fat little face turned red with anger, but he continued. “-and you are accused of murdering the child of John Hardwicke through unholy means.”

The Hardwickes were the only ones standing close to Argent. They clutched each other, red-eyed, both glaring hotly at Aleta. Emma Hardwicke even directed her silent anger towards Lila for a moment before lowering her gaze.

“How do you plead?”

Aleta stood silently for a moment, then shook her head. “I can admit no guilt, as I have no knowledge of these practices.”

It was time. Lila would be expected to stand as close to Aleta as possible, being the lover of the accused, and therefore couldn’t leave her spot in the Judgment Circle. Their dogsbody, Erik, had no such obligations. He stood next to a rotting shed, just outside the circle and across from Lila. Raising her gaze to meet his, Lila tucked a strand of hair behind her left ear, then immediately turned her body directly towards Aleta. Erik, recognizing the signal, disappeared into the encroaching night.

Meanwhile, the magistrate pressed on. “You deny the charges?”

“Yes,” Aleta said bluntly. She brushed her long, blond hair away from her face.

“Yes, Your Honor,” hissed Argent’s assistant.

Aleta quirked an eyebrow and made a little bow in response. The magistrate’s face began shading to burgundy.

The magistrate’s assistant read the full list of charges, pausing after each one to leer at Aleta. She denied every one. Apparently not thrown by her recalcitrance- a cooler man than his master, by far- the assistant turned to the assembled crowd.

“Good people of Greybridge,” he called out, “Is any man or woman willing to respond to these charges on the accused’s behalf?”

As Lila had expected, several citizens stepped forward immediately. Since Aleta had started as the village herbwoman two years prior, the Greybridge had flourished. Even the animals seemed healthier. While other villages in the region watched their crops rot in the ground after two years of hard rain, Greybridge’s yield was high and the population growing steadily. In fact, the Hardwicke boy was the first baby to slip from life under Aleta’s capable watch. It was no wonder many smallfolk trusted her.

In ordinary times, surrounding towns would have merely envied Greybridge’s sudden fortune. However, the two-year blight, and Greybridge’s mysterious immunity, had brought the village under scrutiny. Some villagers did not trust herbwomen, especially not one young ones, and they spun exaggerated tales of witchcraft and darkness in the local taverns.

These stories had spread, and soon Aleta developed a reputation for black magic. The lord of Greybridge, a paranoid man, demanded his official find out for sure if the lady was a witch. Although Aleta was questioned several times by the lord’s officials, she had done nothing apparently wrong, and they could make no move against her. The death of the Hardwicke baby, living and well until Aleta held him, was the only evidence. It was very little in the way of proof, but the lord took his opportunity.

As the townspeople testified for Aleta’s honor, the magistrate changed color twice. Based on his behavior, Lila wondered if the lord had promised him extra pay in exchange for damning the witch.

Finally overcome with frustration, Argent banged his fist on the table and interrupted the latest glowing testimony. “Enough of this,” he said shortly. “No more of this topic. I would now hear from those who have witnessed this woman’s wrongdoing.”

No one moved.

“Be not afraid!” called the assistant. He drew a bulging purse from his shoulder bag and hoisted it triumphantly. “The good magistrate has sworn three crowns to each person willing to speak of this witch’s crimes.”

Aleta’s eyes widened. Lila slowly began to draw the dagger from her hidden wrist-sheath, preparing herself to strike. Three crowns was a great deal of money, more than a Greybridge man might make in a year. They had expected this tactic, but not such a sum.

Unsurprisingly, it worked. A few people stepped forward, their eyes downcast. Aleta remained cold, calm. No one coming forward could meet her defiant stare.

Just then, Lila saw an orange flash out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head slightly, using her peripheral vision, and…yes, Erik had managed it. The roof of their house was on fire. If he had done it correctly, the fire would spread from their roof to the neighbor’s home, and from there to the next. Since Aleta had come to Greybridge, more babies lived, and homes were being built closer together. It would be no trouble for the fire to travel through the village- and for the secrets in Aleta’s attic workroom to burn.

The Hardwickes were the last to make their accusation. Emma pointed, shaking, at the slim figure before her. Lila began counting backwards from one hundred.

“Her,” Emma Hardwicke said, her voice strangled. By the light of the torches around her, her long nose and tired eyes looked sharp and raptorlike. “She took my babe in her arms, my baby boy…” She choked. “I never even touched my baby before this hellwife sucked his soul out! Sucked it out and fed on it, before even I could stand up!” As her voice rose to a shriek, John Hardwicke held on to his wife, weeping as he restrained her. “I will see you burn! You will burn tonight!”

“No,” Aleta said, as Erik breached the border of the judgment circle and Lila counted one. “You will.”

Just then, a scream came from somewhere at the back of the crowd. “Fire!” Lila heard. “Fire by the square!”

The timing was perfect. As the guard dropped her arm in shock, Aleta whirled and kicked him in the stomach, winding him. Erik dashed past her and shoved a bag into her hand. As the boy dashed back into the crowd, losing himself in the confusion, Lila leapt forward as well with her dagger drawn.

“Now!” she screamed, slashing the palm of her left hand. She dove towards Aleta, bloody hand outstretched, shielding her eyes with her arm.

Aleta threw the bag down with all her might, shattering the vessels inside.

The resulting light was brighter than daylight, disorienting the onlookers. Lila heard screams as she reached out and wiped her blood across Aleta’s breast. Her hair suddenly whipped up in a terrific wind and she braced herself, waiting for the light to fade. She heard a woman’s shout change into a harsh raptor’s scream.

Stumbling and blinded, the townspeople failed to witness Aleta’s transformation.

By the time they had regained their wits, Lila sat astride a magnificent griffin, her scarf looped around its neck as a makeshift handle. People staggered, incredulous, gaping. Lila had to laugh at their animalistic shock. “Not a very grateful lot, are you?” she had time to say.

Aleta took off.

The beating of her enormous wings drowned out most of the screams. Lila flattened her body against the muscular back, holding on desperately as Aleta shot into the sky. Briefly, she prayed that Erik would manage to collect the crowns she’d hidden for him. The boy had done beautifully. She hoped he would make it far away from Greybridge.

Aleta leveled out, spreading her magnificent wings so that Lila could move up to her shoulder.

“Well done, my love,” she yelled against the wind.

Aleta dipped a wing in acknowledgment.

Lila looked around for Castle Marius. Far to their right, she saw a faint glow- the castle town? It must have been. Marius Castle Town was the first landmark on their route to freedom. She shivered a bit, and grinned.

She patted Aleta on the right side of her outstretched neck. The griffin obligingly turned right, crying out triumphantly when she saw the lights before her. Lila knew then that they would be safe.

“Well done,” Lila said again. This time, her words were lost in the wind.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Okua posted:

"Herds know the hour of their going home
and turn them again from the grass;
but never is found a foolish man
who knows the measure of his maw."

Actually the Stomach is Way Bigger than the Eyes, I Mean That’s Just Basic Anatomy 1495 words

“Do we have to go to Cowboy Randy’s?” I dunno why I bothered asking the question. I knew the answer was yes, and I knew why.

It was Dad’s birthday. Every year on Dad’s birthday, we went to Cowboy Randy’s Steakhouse. Every year, Dad attempted the Cowboy Randy’s Big Steak Challenge. Every year, Dad fell short. Sometimes, he projectile ‘fell short’ all over the floor of Cowboy Randy’s Steakhouse. This had been the case for as long as I could remember; Dad’s relationship with the Cowboy Randy’s Big Steak Challenge predated those he had with any of his children.

“It’s only once a year, Mary,” said Mum. “Your father deserves to pick where we have dinner tonight.”


We sat at the same table every year. We were ushered to our table by a man in a cowboy suit.

A grown man.

Wearing a cowboy suit.

“Howdy pardners,” he said, “I’m Cowboy Randy, and welcome to my Steakhouse. Can I offer any of you likely looking wranglers something to wet your whistle?”

I don’t know what kind of cowboy movies this idiot had been watching.

We got a jug of water for the table. Mum looked at the wine list for about a minute before sighing deeply and saying, “You know what, just water will be fine.” Yeah, she knew she was going to be driving home while dad either stuck his head out the window or hugged his knees.

After a while, Cowboy Randy came back to take our food orders. I ordered a schnitzel, Tod ordered the ribs, Mum ordered a salad for herself and a small pizza for Kristen. Kristen was young enough that she did not yet understand the pattern that Dad’s annual birthday dinner followed, so she was excited about eating out and having a whole pizza to herself. Dad pretended to think about his order, then turned to Cowboy Randy and said “Now, what’s this Big Steak Challenge you’ve got here?”

“Ah,” said Cowboy Randy. “That’s only for our hungriest buckaroos. One kilogram of finest Cowboy Randy’s steak with a generous helping of Cowboy Fries, all washed down with a mug of our finest ale. Anyone who can get through it all in half an hour gets their photo on the Cowboy Randy’s Big Buckaroos photo wall, and a free shirt to commemorate their victory!”

Dad nodded. “I’m always up for a challenge. I’ll try that, please.”

Cowboy Randy nodded, read our order back to us, and then swaggered away to deliver our orders to the kitchen.


“I’ve definitely got it, this year,” said Dad.

“I’m sure you’ll give it your best,” said Mum.

“It’s all about eating everything in the right order and keeping a steady rhythm,” said Dad.

“I saw a doco about professional eaters,” said Tod. “Can you believe people make a career out of competitive eating?”

Dad shook his head. “I think that would take the joy out of it.”

I nodded. “You really need the down time to let yourself forget how unpleasant it tastes on the way back up.”

Mum frowned and shook her head at me, but Dad didn’t hear; he was distracted as Cowboy Randy returned with the first of the orders. Kristen got her pizza and Mum her salad. It was just after Cowboy Randy went back into the kitchen for the remaining orders that the windows facing the service station across the road were smashed in.

As the glass shattered inwards, three figures tumbled in. Two dive rolled in, winding up in a crouch with shotguns pointed in front of them. The third, the one in the middle, jumped through feet first, like a fly kick, and landed on both feet with two submachineguns pointed out in front. All three figures were wearing balaclavas, which is weird because it was Summer, which is definitely not balaclava weather at all. That last figure said in a loud, deep male voice, “Oi! Give us all your money!”

As none of the staff were in the dining area of the restaurant at the time, there wasn’t any immediate response. Then Cowboy Randy came out with the last three meals.

I’ve always been impressed with how waiters can carry more meals than they have hands. It’s not really an important narrative point, I just think it’s super cool and worth commenting on.

“Oi you,” said the figure again, “give us all your money or we’ll bash you!”

“Howdy pardners,” said Cowboy Randy, to his credit refusing to drop character even under duress. “Just let me serve these cowpokes their meals and I’ll get right to you thieving varmints.”

No doubt taken aback by being addressed as varmints, the balaclava wearing trio patiently waited while Cowboy Randy gave me my schnitzel, Tod his ribs and Dad his colossal meal.

“Here,” said the apparent leader of the would-be thieves. “That steak’s huge. You sure you can handle it?”

Dad shrugged. “This is not my first rodeo.”

“That’s the spirit,” said Cowboy Randy. He set a mug of ale down next to Dad’s meal, then pulled out a stopwatch, saying, “Your time starts now.”

“Eh?” asked the balaclava leader.

“It’s the Cowboy Randy’s Big Steak Challenge,” said Cowboy Randy. He pointed over to the photo wall. “He’s competing to join the ranks of our Big Buckaroos.”

“Oh yeah,” said balaclava. “You know, I used to be able to put away a meal or two. Hook me up with one of those, I reckon I could outeat this turkey.”

“Uh, boss,” said one of the others, “I’m not sure we really have time for this.”

“No,” said the other, “I thought we were just going to grab the cash and leave.”

Balaclava frowned, turned and looked at them. “Is that so,” he asked. Then he shot them both in the head. “Insubordination!” he said. He shook his head. “They’ve really got to learn to appreciate the finer things in life.”

“Hmmm,” said Cowboy Randy, “you know, by a strange coincidence I think we actually have a spare of those meals back there, let me just check, all right?” Even under the circumstances, he returned to the kitchen with a swagger. Somehow, it made me feel better to know that no matter what, Cowboy Randy would always be Cowboy Randy.

“I’ll wait until yours gets here before I start, then, shall I?” said Dad. He always was competitive.

“Jolly good,” said balaclava.

Cowboy Randy was gone less than a minute before he returned from the kitchen with another huge meal. He shook his head. “Would you believe it, it turns out the cook accidentally made two of these. What are the odds?” He presented the meal to balaclava with a flourish, and set down the ale next to it.


Dad settled into an easy rhythm. First the chips, interspersed with sips from the mug of ale. Balaclava had pulled up the balaclava in question to uncover his mouth, and seemed to have started on the steak. I kept an eye on the two of them, but also ate my schnitzel, because for all of my complaints about Cowboy Randy’s Steakhouse, their schnitzel was fantastic. And I was hungry. I ate my schnitzel in about the time it took Dad to eat the chips and down half of his ale, and balaclava to polish off the steak. It was at this point that it became apparent that Dad’s was probably the superior tactic.

The only three people left eating were Dad, who was starting on the steak, balaclava, who was part way through the chips but appeared to be struggling, and Todd, who was just finishing the ribs.

Hey, they were massive ribs.

As Dad got halfway through the steak, he slowed down a bit, but still seemed relatively comfortable. Balaclava, by contrast, looked slightly unwell. “You know,” said Dad, “if you can’t finish it, you can probably ask for a doggie bag.”

Balaclava pointed one of his guns at Dad. “I’ve got this. Worry about your own meal, old man.”

Dad shrugged and kept eating.

The police busted through the window that faced the parking lot just as Dad swallowed down the last bite of steak. Balaclava was violently ill all over his guns, and didn’t put up much resistance as the police detained him and gingerly removed his guns from him and put them into barf bags.

“You know,” said Cowboy Randy, “the front door wasn’t locked or anything. It’s totally fine to come in that way.” The police took away balaclava and the bodies of his accomplices.

“Now,” said Dad, “about that Big Buckaroo photo wall.”

“Sorry,” said Cowboy Randy, “you were three minutes over.”


Dad didn’t seem too disappointed on the drive home. As Mum said to him, “There’s always next year.” And besides, if he hadn’t waited for balaclava to start, he totally would’ve had it.

May 3, 2003

Who wants to live


College Slice

"Like the love of women whose thoughts are lies
is the driving un-roughshod o'er slippery ice
of a two year old, ill-tamed and gay;
or in a wild wind steering a helmless ship,
or the lame catching reindeer in the rime-thawed fell."

1486 words

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 23:00 on Dec 31, 2016

Baleful Osmium Sea
Oct 31, 2016
51: Fiercer than fire among ill friends
for five days love will burn;
bun anon 'tis quenched, when the sixth day comes,
and all friendship soon is spoiled.


First Contact By a Species that Speaks Almost Entirely In Metaphors

When the first day came, we stumbled into bed, punch drunk on the scent of each other. I created the universe around us and you sealed it shut against the world. Our holds were fast, our promises soul-deep and everlasting. From chaos we made ordering in a priority.

When the second day came it arrived with alarm clocks and telephones, tugging at us with everyday gravity. But we were creatures of light and air, and our gossamer wings carried us high above such ephemera. We swooped and spun and called to one another across the infinite skies - I heard you and you heard me and in all our lives we had never been heard so loudly and so clear. The light drifted into twilight, so we nestled in the tops of trees and fell asleep to the sounds of angels singing.

When the third day came - the wheedling world was knocking and scratching at the door, trying its best to topple us from our precious, precarious nest. We laughed and ate cold pizza and stood on one leg like the birds we had been until we fell, still laughing, to the ground. We named the country we'd fallen into a name of our own devising, and stared across its green pastures at distant towers. Ivory and brick, they were places of work that we could not ignore forever. We dared each other to be the first to depart, and one of us must have succumbed. Our hands let go. We were going to meet later, but something came up, and the universe I created and you made hermetically perfect began to crumble at some invisible point halfway between us.

When the fourth day came, I woke up at my place, and you woke up at yours. You left a million message on my phone, and I left half a million in reply. The earth flew around the sun, a miracle of physics on its four billionth tour of duty. I had chicken sandwiches for lunch. We met on sacred ground, but whether it was sacred to you or me I cannot recall. It was then that they crawled out of the woodwork, all the tiny, spiky things we hadn't noticed. Has your smile always been lopsided? I swear I brushed my teeth today. We looked into our crumbling universe, like a crystal ball, and saw planets and stars, orbiting each other from safe distances. We talked about whether we could live there. Would the atmosphere be sufficient? Might the cosmic radiation kill us or merely mutate our children into nightmares?

When the fifth day came we met for drinks on the beach above the placid ocean. We imagined swimming, how refreshing to tread water in the lukewarm sea. We smiled a lot, and said little, but somehow we resolved anew to pursue this strange thing that had befallen us. As we sat on the balcony, watching the rippling sunset, a leviathan burst upward from the dreaming sea. For a moment it was beautiful, gigantic and awe-inspiring. But it just floated there in the middle of the harbour, watching us with a slimy eye, covered in stinking seaweed and razor-shelled molluscs . We pledged to ignore its stench for as long as possible. I survived until the cocktails arrived, then gagged, and made my excuses, and left.

When the sixth day came, we had both grown too tired to lie. Silently we broke the last seals and tore the sagging universe in two. I stowed my half somewhere quiet and small, to look at on a future, but distant, rainy day. I found a way to go that I could call mine, and you found one too. We stapled on tears and smiles as we swore beneath our breath and spat wistfully at each other's backs. There was a darkness in you that I wish I'd seen earlier. An animal darkness, feral, and cruel. I named it with my own name.

And on the seventh day, we went to war. But nobody could say if it was good.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Okua posted:

"A twelfth I know: if I see in a tree
a corpse from a halter hanging,
such spells I write, and paint in runes,
that the being descends and speaks."

The Dead of Winter
(982 words)

Read it in the archive.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 18:46 on Jan 1, 2017

Apr 12, 2006
Could someone do me a favor and copy paste my story from a Google doc? I can't seem to do it from my phone

Apr 12, 2006

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.

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Could someone do me a favor and copy paste my story from a Google doc? I can't seem to do it from my phone

"Cattle die and kinsmen die,
thyself too soon must die,
but one thing never, I ween, will die, --
the doom on each one dead."

The Girl Who Slept With Everyone

Sitting in the church, watching those in mourning approach the casket, watching those who had loved Vincent weep, I became was all too keenly aware of my little black innapriorate dress. It was the only black thing I had but it was too short. There was too much exposed skin. I wished that I had gone to the thrift store like I’d planned instead of chainsmoking Camel Lights in my bed. Instead of making a mountain of empty cartons on my nightstand while I read and reread, grief-drunk, our favorite poetry. On the sheetless mattress with a cigarette between my lips and the ratty notebook where we’d scribbled our beloved lines in my hands I was able to turn Vincent into Shrodinger’s lover-- a wisp, a memory neither alive nor dead-- and it was wonderfully, beautifully bohemian. I thought I was an artist back then because I smoked a lot and read a little and was always late on my rent.

I sat down in a pew in front of his friends from law school. They didn’t recognize me. They didn’t grieve, either. Not out loud. Masculinity is such a timid, fragile thing for insecure men. Vincent’s friends swapped lewd stories instead. Of places they’d partied. Money they’d wasted. Laws they’d broken. Girls they’d been with. Anything and everything but their feelings.

“Was he still loving that girl?” one of them asked.

“Which girl?”

“I don’t remember her name. The girl who slept with everyone.”

“Probably. Vinnie was always a sucker for hippy chicks.”

“Girl was a tight lay.”

And they all agreed because they’d all slept with me. They didn’t remember my name, though. I was just ‘The Girl Who Slept With Everyone.’ Even if I was the star of many of their stories. They didn’t remember my name.


“Why are you still sleeping around?” Vincent asked me. It ruined the moment.

“Because I’m single,” I said. “Duh.” I rolled over the bare mattress and grabbed my lighter and my cigarettes off the nightstand. He stared up at the glow-in-the-dark stars I’d stuck to the ceiling to give my apartment a little more character.

“Well. You should stop,” he said.

I grinned. “Are you getting jealous? That’s a little ironic, don’t you think?”

“We should get married. Let’s get married.”

I laughed and fell back onto my pillow and lit my cigarette.

“Let’s get married,” he repeated. “I’m serious.”

“You’re already married.”

“I’ll get a divorce,” he said. “I don’t love her.” The room was suddenly still. Even the fan seemed frozen in place. I watched the muscles in Vincent’s jaw tighten as his lips moved, searched, struggled to find the words to express himself. I bit my tongue. I didn’t dare move. I didn’t want ruin the epiphany. It’s only after sex that men are one hundred percent honest. And not even for very long. You have this brief post-orgasm window where their minds are clear and their hearts are unburdened and all the insecurities forced upon them by society are gone and they can be truthful. It’s an incredible thing to witness. “I- I’ve never loved her,” he admitted. He draped his arm over my belly and hooked his fingers around my waist and he squeezed me against his chest and he buried his face in my hair. And he cried.

I exhaled a cloud of smoke towards the glowing green stars.


“I’m sorry for your loss,” I said.

Vincent’s wife was pretty in upper class mousy way. Even with her tear streaked cheeks. There just was something dainty about the way she patted her eyes. Something that made you want to protect her. She was like so many other wives of brash, successful men-- quiet and demure and small. Her black dress was appropriate for a funeral. Vincent used to tell me, in between sessions of splintering my bed’s headboard against the brickwall of my lovely studio apartment, that they married because it was a “good connection.” Two old money families. Her father was a Congressman. She was six years my elder. Six years Vincent’s junior. Always and forever between us. And one day they’d bury her next to him.

“Thank you,” she said. She took my hands and I squeezed them. She didn’t recognize me. She didn’t know my name, either.

“Did you know Vincent wanted to be an actor?” I asked.

She blinked.

“There’s no money in it, though,” I said. “And his parents thought it a waste of a good education. Which I suppose is true.”

“I- I wasn’t aware. I’m sorry. How do you know Vincent again?”

“I met him when he was in law school.” Which wasn’t a lie.


“Vinnie was my best friend,” the lawyer sobbed. He was drunk. He took an awkward step towards me, over corrected too far backwards, and collapsed with a thud onto the linoleum floor. He covered his face with his hands. I pulled up my underwear and pulled down my dress and I leaned against the stall door.

“Cigarette?” I offered.

But the lawyer just cried. Wept. He was in the throws of his epiphany. His Great Moment of Understanding. It was what he should have done earlier at the funeral. After a moment, he wiped his red eyes and looked up at me.

“You’re not supposed to smoke in here,” he whispered.

“I’m not supposed to do a lot things,” I said. “Tell me more about Vincent.”

The lawyer nodded and then burst into tears.


I fingered through our notepad for poems about loss or grief or sorrow but we only ever wrote down ones about love. I never realized that. I needed to get a new notebook. They didn’t feel the same anymore. I had two cigarettes left. Maybe when I ran down to buy a new pack. I lay down and I thought about how he was gone and it struck me quite suddenly that I had loved Vincent. I wished he was there to witness me realize it. My epiphany.

Jan 18, 2015

"When I came ere long the war troop bold
were watching and waking all:
with burning brands and torches borne
they showed me my sorrowful way."

The Ragged Man

1480 words.

The day the ragged man entered our town, we did not yet know our comfortable existence would soon be at an end. We had lived our lives off of those lesser than us, and we had fattened our wallets, and ourselves, on the hard toil and suffering of others.

Our town was the richest, most prosperous in our lands, and our economy fueled by export of precious metals and gems. We were a utopia in the eyes of our neighbors, with an image of clean streets and healthy children and well-mannered people.

This was all true, of course. We were healthier, better educated, and we had a rightful sense of superiority. We were simply better than the rest of the rabble that populated the world outside our gates.

Now, the source of our good favor was the mountain at which foot our town was situated. An outsider would have been amazed at the riches that were hauled from our mines daily. The gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones that came out by the cart load would have left them breathless. Watching this raw treasure be processed into rings, necklaces, goblets, and other immensly valuable items in our masterful workshops would have left them stupified. And then, of course, the fact that they were outsiders would have left them in chains, pulling a cart, or digging deep inside the mountain.

You see, our dark little secret, the true fuel of our economy, was the slaves that worked in our mines. Some were people that came seeking refuge from the wilderness outside. Others were people that were caught by our raiding parties that scoured the hinterland. Wherever they came from, they were never seen again.

We lived very comfortable lives, each adult only having to work a few days every month, either as slave guards, or in the trade depots, which were the only places in our town accessable to outsiders. We would trade for food and other goods that were necessary to sustain our rich lives with outside traders there. That was our only real contact with the outside world, unless you were part of the raiders.

Then one day, as the sun was setting beyond the hills outside our west gates, the ragged man appeared.
I had been lotted to work at the western trade depot, and me and my mates were sitting in the shade of the walls watching the traders unload the last of the food carts. It had been a hot day, and though the last rays of the day were shining through the open gates, the heat had not yet abated.

”hell of a heatwave,” Carl, one of my mates, said before taking a swig from the bag of crystal water. ”If those brutes won't hurry up with the unloading, I have a mind to haul them off to the mines myself.”

”Hey, exnay on that kind of talk now,” Roger, the foreman, said, taking the bag from Carl and glancing at the outsiders. ”We don't need rumors spreading.”

”No worries, Boss! They are too awed by our town to notice,” I said.

We watched the rest of the unloading in silence, and then, as Roger walked up to pay the merchants, we prepared the gates for closing. Suddenly, Carl gave off a shout, and pointed at the empty cart. Out of the back of the cart, where he had been hidden behind some barrels until now, a raggedy man descended.

The man was quickly surrounded by some of the guards, and the rest of us hurried to close our gates. The merchants started to complain, but soon got quiet as some of the guards rounded them up as well.

With the merchants and the strange man herded together by the guards, Roger stepped up. One of the merchants started shouting, but Roger gave him a hard slap that sent him to the ground.

”You,” he said, pointing at the downed merchant. ”Who gave you permission to bring an unauthorized person inside our walls?”

”We've never seen him before!” one of the other merchants shouted. ”He must have snuck on when we loaded the carts.”

”Be as it may,” Roger said. ”You brought him in, and now we have to deal with him.”

He turned to the ragged figure, but the third of the merchants suddenly piped up.

”So can we go? We did not know, and we have a long road ahead of us.”

Roger looked down at the groud, seemingly in thought. ”I think,” he started, ”that you will meet with an 'accident'. We need to explain your disappearances, and I think a pack of hinterbeasts, or maybe a raider attack, should be sufficient. Those usually won't leave any bodies to trace. Guards, take them to the slave holes.”

The merchants stood dumbfounded as they listened to roger, and something in his voice must have muted them because they did not even give a sound as they were herded away by the guards, through the throng of people that had started to gather in the trade depot.

”Now, our mysterious stranger,” Roger continued, as he stepped up to the man. ”Who are you, and why have you come here?”

At first, the man stood completely still, not reacting to Roger's question. Then he slowly lifted his head and met Rogers gaze. His voice suddenly boomed out, and as he spoke, he looked at each and every one of the crowd that had gathered.

”Your days of opulence are numbered! The Lords of the Lands and Skies have so decreed! They have sent forth their troops to free those oppressed, and to seize these lands that you strip in your greed! I am their herald! I am here, not to show you mercy, or a chance of redemption, but to give you time to wallow in despair! Soon they will come, with torches and flares to cleanse these lands of your stench! Those of you not struck down will be forever branded as the murdering filth you are! Years from now this town will only be remembered as a nightmare tale to frighten children! So have the Lords of the Lands and Skies decreed!”

We were stunned. Not just his outburst, but the command in his voice had us frozen where we stood, and noone moved a muscle to stop his proclamation. After he stopped, the silence was palpable amongst the crowd.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, a cry of rage slowly rose from the crowd, and it suddenly turned into a mob as it descended on the man as he stood in silence with his eyes closed. The people were furious, and the man was soon buried under the people as the hit and kicked over and over again.

The man did not utter a sound as he was brutaly ripped apart by the angry mob. And soon, as the people started to calm down, there were hardly a man left of him.

As the result of their actions dawned on the people, me included, as I had been just as vicious as the rest, the mob dispersed, with some cluching their stomachs, and other emptying theirs on the streets.

Such carnage had never before been seen in the history of our town!

As reason came back to us, we realised we had just dealt with a madman, and, though it had been needlessly brutal, we had been justified. As such, most of us paid no heed to the man's words, and we went back to our daily lives.

It was not long after, when the memory of our actions had started to fade, and we would joke about the craziness of his words, that the ragged man's prophecy came true.

From the earth itself came the first wave. A hellish army made of dirt and rocks, wielding massive torches that gushed with magma as they swung them at people and houses without abandon. The destruction was complete, and I was only saved from the initial carnage by hiding deep in a well with my family.

While the first wave was burning our people and our homes, a second wave of angel-like beings descended from the heavens. They were grabbing people and flying away with them, and I, too, was teken by one of these winged creatures.

My terror was complete, and I confess I do not remember much of what happened next, save for the intense pain as something was pressed against my forehead.

When I came to, I was lying in the ditch where you found me. The rest of my story, how I was dragged in front of your Magistrate, you already know. My life has been a sin, I know that now, and by the brand of a murderer on my forehead, I seek penance by your grace.

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.
Judges pls blame me and google (google docs dept) for the formatting in Ty's story, thanks.

Oct 30, 2016

Okay, submissions are closed!
As it stands now it looks like I'll read and get on IRC tomorrow, late afternoon/evening in GMT, for judging :black101:

Oct 30, 2016

:siren: Thunderdome Week 226 Results :siren:

The winner of this week is Hawklad - Enjoyable to read. Good tension, nice language and it fits the prompt very well. Good luck with judging!

HM goes to Baleful Osmium Sea for basically being different and having cool imagery that made even a long, extended metaphor worth reading. Clear connection with the prompt.

This week's loser is Sailor Viy. The entry seemed unfocused. Too many clashing ideas at the expense of characterization makes it the weakest of the bunch.

Nothing meriting a dishonorable mention. All in all, there was not much debate between judges and a fairly even field with nothing truly terrible. :v:

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Congratulations Hawklaprooooooommmpt!

May 3, 2003

Who wants to live


College Slice
Thunderdome CCXXVII - It was a Dark and Stormy Night....

This week's theme is Meteorological Events! You sign up, I'll give you the weather forecast for your story. It might be a squall, heat wave, hurricane, or something more esoteric. The weather must affect your story in some important and direct way—don't just have Sally gaze out the window at some snowflakes during a quiet moment of inner monologue. The weather acts as a silent protagonist, driving the plot and the choices faced by your characters.

I will hand out flash rules upon request.

Word Limit: 1200 words

Sign-up Deadline: Friday, December 9th, 11:59:59 MST
Submission Deadline: Sunday, December 11th, 11:59:59 MST

Judges: Hawklad, newtestleper

Precious Snowflakes:
Fleta Mcgurn
Benny Profane
sparksbloom (Toxx)
Erogenous Beef (I think? I don't speak Nord)
N. Senada

Oscar Wilde posted:

“Pray don't talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me quite nervous.”

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 17:09 on Dec 8, 2016


Feb 25, 2014

  • Locked thread