Is your cabal good?
|# ? Mar 25, 2016 01:30|
|# ? Nov 26, 2022 15:02|
In is the condition in which I am.
|# ? Mar 25, 2016 03:23|
I'll judge this, 500 words, 29 march 2359 PST, prompt: beginnings are such delicate times. Toxx up.
I've got no problem writing this prompt and losing, but if I toxx do I get banned if I lose?
Never has a newbie acting like a sore-losing little poo poo elicited such constructive responses from bitter vets.
I like the TD but I don't really have ten bucks to spend if I arbitrarily lose to some semi-literate chump who's mouthing off for no reason. Can't even get my goddamn name right and it's three letters. If it's just a toxx to do the tale and submit something, then gently caress yeah count me in. I'd be happy to wail on someone who's decrying both newbies and bitter vets without being either one himself.
I hope this constructive reply helps with your perspective, newtestleper:
Every one of your stories is a bad faith argument for the value of fiction as literature. I hope your reply here doesn't call me out on the phrase 'wail on,' fuckface.
Thranguy set me straight
Carl Killer Miller fucked around with this message at 04:23 on Mar 25, 2016
|# ? Mar 25, 2016 04:02|
I've got no problem writing this prompt and losing, but if I toxx do I get banned if I lose?
it's just if you fail to post
on ya, sonia
|# ? Mar 25, 2016 04:38|
I like this guy.
Stay angry forever, y'all.
|# ? Mar 25, 2016 12:24|
angry publishing is the best publishing
|# ? Mar 25, 2016 21:10|
A Little Under 6 Hours Left to Sign Up!
|# ? Mar 25, 2016 22:16|
|# ? Mar 26, 2016 04:22|
Almost forgot, Signups are Closed!
Please write good words
|# ? Mar 26, 2016 05:13|
I come back to the channel for one day and now I'm throwing my hat IN.
I just noticed I wasn't in the list but I posted before signups closed. Can I still do this?
Or, if I'm not in, can I post the story I wrote anyway?
ExtraNoise fucked around with this message at 05:07 on Mar 27, 2016
|# ? Mar 27, 2016 04:28|
I just noticed I wasn't in the list but I posted before signups closed. Can I still do this?
|# ? Mar 27, 2016 04:33|
KK Short story 59
Part 1 (449 words)
I fell to my knees, begging him to not hurt Moira. “No! Please…you loving monster!” I screamed.
The mustachioed man winked at me. Moira was shaking with fright, trying to push away the knife he held to her throat. Her butchered red hair lay in shambles around her.
“Just do it kid. Go back to the date March twenty-seventh, nineteen eighty-five, and teach yourself how to travel through time. Moira will be right here for when you get back and succeed,” the evil man proclaimed.
“Just let her go! She has nothing to do with everything that has happened between you and I!” I said, getting back to my feet.
“Time’s wasting, you got five seconds. Just think about the time, and tra-“ he was cut off by the temporal vortex taking me. I couldn’t really control when I jumped. Just thinking of a date was sufficient.
I was back in my old apartment. Dirty clothes all over the ground, the crappy kitchen covered in dirty dishes. I heard myself eating cereal and watching TV in the living room. I quickly dug through the cabinets, finding the ingredients for time-travel.
“Hello? Who’s there?” I heard myself shout from the living room. Milk, dry spaghetti noodles, a canister of Uranium-235, chicken ramen packets, and a cup of water. I quickly through them into a bowl and began mixing them frantically. We had to save her. We had to save the love of my life. I quickly remembered the exact date we had met. June 29th, 1986. The most memorable day in my life.
My past-self walked into the kitchen. I heard the bowl of cereal fall to the ground, smashing into pieces. I spun around with the mixture. “There’s no time to explain. I’m your future self. Just drink this,” I said frantically, handing him the green glowing substance.
“Um, no?” My past self said, backing away. Oh right I had to tie him down. I quickly kick out his knee caps and grab the rope from the bedroom while he’s on the ground screaming in pain.
“THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE IS WAITING FOR YOU STUPID. DRINK IT. ITS ALL READY HAPPENED. I DID IT, NOW YOU WILL TOO,” I screamed while tying him to a chair. He refused to open his mouth so I slapped him until he was too dazed to fight me. The mixture poured down his throat.
While he was processing what was happening, I looked into his eyes. “Stop the mustachio man. Change your future,” I said.
Pained and confused expressions formed on his face while I watched. “June 29th, 1986…June 29th,1986…June 29th, 1986…” I kept repeating until he disappeared into a temporal vortex.
Part 2 (392 words)
I waited here on the corner. That’s what he told me to do. Sometimes the things he comes up with were so stupid. But I couldn’t complain, I was rich beyond anything I could’ve imagined. I’d wait another week here if I could win the lottery again.
“Hello? Are you who I’m here to meet?” A man said behind me. I turned, and immediately gave him the biggest smile in the world. He looked very familiar and handsome. This wasn’t so bad.
I approached him and stared into his eyes, trying to make him fall in love with me. “My name is Moira. I was waiting for my ride, but wow, I don’t know how to explain it, but I just feel like you’re pretty important to me,” I said, trying my best to fake amazement. Nothing really amazed me anymore.
The man started crying. “I don’t know what’s going on, a man told me I would meet the love of my life here. Do you know what’s going on?” He asked, taking my hands in his.
I shook my head, feigning innocence. “Whatever is going on, I’m ok with it if I can spend the rest of my life with you,” I said. I pulled him closer and kissed him. He disappeared with a weird puff of smoke.
I sighed and lit a cigarette. I walked over to the warehouse where he was waiting for me. He was slow clapping.
“My my, Moira, you’ve really outdone yourself,” the mustachioed man complimented me. I walked past him, enjoying my cigarette.
“Whatever. Where’s my payment,” I said.
“Now now, is that anyway to treat your lord and savior? The one who lets you win lottery after lottery? You’re going to marry that man,” He said.
I laughed. Whatever. “As long as I get to do whatever I want, I’ll do it,” I said.
“You’re also going to wear this red wig, right now,” he said, pulling out a long horse hair wig. It looked so fake. I just shrugged and put it on.
He immediately grabbed me and spun me around, putting a knife to my throat. I was so surprised and tried to fight him off. The other man was here.
“No! Please! You loving monster!” He screamed, falling to his knees.
Part 3 (464 words)
I pressed my hand up against the cold glass. The earth was in turmoil. I watched the magma roil out from the crust of the earth, covering the planet. He was there. Hundreds of him. Trying to save the planet in time. I smiled. There was no changing the past.
He was finally here. I snapped my fingers. Two past version of me grabbed him. “What? Where am I?” He yelled. I turned around, nodding. “YOU! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!” He screamed.
“Today is the end, John. The end of the earth. The end of the world. The end of humanity. Step closer to the viewport and witness the destruction of the earth,” I said, waving the guards to bring him closer.
The earth was beginning to crack. The multiple Johns were disappearing as less and less land was available to help out on. The entire earth was crumbling inward. The molten lava was shooting off into space. One hemisphere began to explode, the other trembling. The earth exploded.
“NOOOOOOO” John screamed. He began crying. I was laughing.
“Give up John. Everything has happened, and nothing will change. Everything is pointless. You are on one timeline, and there’s nothing you can do,” I said, turning to him.
“I will find a way! I WILL STOP YOU! YOU MONSTER! How could you destroy humanity?” He asked.
“C’mon John, you’ve seen the past. You’ve seen me take all those dumb college girls to 72,000 BC and gently caress the poo poo out of them. Leave them in the past to learn how to make fire and create civilization. You’ve seen how it starts, and now you’ve just witnessed the end. You haven’t been able to change anything. There’s no point to any of this. I created mankind, and I destroyed it. No meaning in our existence,” I said with contempt, walking in a circle around him.
“I WILL stop you. You hold me down and make me watch every time I try to stop you. You’re always there. But I’ll outsmart you one day. You can’t be everywhere at once,” John replied.
I laughed. “I know where you will always be. Because I am you,” I said, ripping my fake mustache off.
John’s face contorted into obvious pain. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” He wailed. This was the greatest moment. The one I had been waiting for all this time.
“Now watch the end in front of you. Watch how you will die,” I said, pulling a pistol out of my belt. I pointed it to my head.
“Why? Why did you do all of this? Why did you torture me? Why did you destroy the earth?” He pleaded with me.
I smirked. “You’ll figure it out one day. See ya in the future, Johnny Boy,” I said.
I pulled the trigger.
|# ? Mar 27, 2016 18:44|
Small Tragedies Take No Blame
I feel like I can see the future.
It is a quarter after three again. That mote of time that exists after the end of the school day and before afternoon cartoons where I stare through the tempered glass of an economy car. After cartoons, the evening hours will come again. They had a habit of it.
I hate the evening hours.
Pops is at the wheel, tapping a rhythm with his knuckles to that honky-tonk poo poo he listens to. The sad songs—and the songs where women sing—he has no love for. But if it’s a song you could line-dance to, Pops will knuckle that steering wheel like a spaz that somehow found himself on a drumline.
On the drive home I like to pretend Meridian Street is a giant ramp. You see, it’s straight all through the valley, and when it cuts up the hill two miles south it looks like one of those Hot Wheels chutes that launches cars into orbit. Space is where I want to be, between the stars and nebulae and quasars. I learned all about them in school. When I told Pops about it he told me I was a space cadet alright, and that if I ever wanted to amount to anything I better help him work on The Truck (a 1964 Ford P.O.S. that permanently resides in our garage) and learn me at least one drat life skill before I turned ten.
I never told him about wanting to go to the stars again after that, and I think I never will. But every day after school I gaze down Meridian Street and imagine I’m in one of those high-speed rockets, zipping past cars and then hitting the ramp at the end and up and up and up and up past the clouds into space, leaving the world behind. Captain Adam Bryant, they’d say to me through the headset, good luck and Godspeed to you on your mission. The world could stay behind me for all I care. It and all of its people. The self-centered adults and the dark lonely nights and the selfish rich kids at school. And Pops. And his liquor.
The bottle is already open. And even if I couldn’t smell it, I could see it sticking out from between his leg and the door. Those drat hairy knuckles of his would be tapping out a rhythm on my skull before I went to sleep tonight. I feel like I can see the future.
Look at me.
Just look at me. Do I look like a fuckin idiot to you?
So why’s it some goddam teenager thinks he can get a fast one by me using his father’s license? Like I can’t tell the difference between them? Sure, Mr. James Bryant, it looks like you lost some weight since this photo was taken! Good for you! And your hair’s really filled out again! Using that new Rogaine stuff I keep seeing on the television? And your new sudden interest in some rock-n-roll group called the Foo Fighters? Well that’s a nice tee-shirt you’ve got there with their name on it, oh yeah, but I would have taken you for liking country western when I saw your sweaty fat rear end in here last week. poo poo’s sure as hell changed, ain’t it? Must be all that modern medicine. It's a goddam miracle is what it is.
You had your shitstain of a son with you last week too, if I remember correctly. And I do remember correctly. How do I know? Because that little shitstain is standing in front of me right now, holding out a six-pack of Budweiser, a twenty dollar bill, and your goddam license.
But listen, money’s money. I’ve got morals. And I was always taught not to judge a man, especially a president of these United States. Especially not Andy Jackson. No, sir. And times are tough now that that sax-playing democrat’s sitting in the Oval Office. Recession’s just around the corner, I can feel it. So I’ll take his twenty and tell him to get the hell out of my store. We’ll call it a liquid compromise, if you get my meaning. And that tee-shirt wearing sonofabitch can go and get loaded and barf his guts out and learn his goddam lesson because if the shitstain is stealing your license at half-past noon on a school-day, Mr. James Bryant, then chances are you don’t really give two fucks anyway.
A kid’s gotta go make his own mistakes, I always say. Only way he’ll learn.
Adam, the drops of dew are catching the morning sun on your basalt headstone. They look like stars.
I knew you always wanted to go to space but in most ways I didn’t really care. Chances are you’d never get there and what was the point of inflating a man’s head like a balloon if you were just going to let the world come along and pop it later. That would do no good.
I don’t consider myself a monster, even if you did. I might have been misguided when I was younger, but aren’t we all? Why do you get to feel so Goddamn righteous (Lord, forgive me) when I’m the one that has to live with seeing the outcome of this mess? When I’m the one that keeps getting to grow up and repenting for my sins? We weren’t so different in the end, except that I never succumbed to the alcoholism like you. Doesn’t that make me the man you always wanted me to be? I’ve forgiven myself and—Adam, if you were still alive—I think you’d probably have forgiven me by now, too. I’m sure of it.
Listen, the Warden’s calling me back to the van. He’s doing me a special favor, letting me come here and all, you have to understand. I’d love to stay here and catch up, but he says we have to be back to the Pen before Sunday services. If you hadn’t ratted on me, I might have had more time to stay, more time to talk. You’re not blameless in this. It’s your fault that I have to leave now, really. Maybe you even deserved a few of those black eyes you made me admit to during the trial.
Could you forgive me? Would it even matter if you did?
|# ? Mar 27, 2016 21:09|
Still need a couple of co-judges for this week! If you've ever wanted to rain down hellfire on all the bad words, step right up.
|# ? Mar 27, 2016 21:39|
To End All Promises
Braden stood at the altar, facing his bride. He was waiting for marital bliss to sweep over him like a wholesome, cleansing tide and wash away the crusty stain of memories left over from his bachelor party (and the night before the bachelor party. And in his office, with not-his-wife bent over his desk. And…).
The minister was speaking another language, underwater. The wedding guests were a muddy blur. Omaya was blank, nearly invisible behind her white veil.
Against all reason, she loved him. Braden knew this, and it filled him with awe. Every time he pulled out of some strange woman, he swore it would be his last affair. Marriage was supposed to be the promise to end all those promises, but Braden could only feel the tightness of his collar and the rigid fit of his suit jacket.
“Braden and Omaya have chosen to write their own vows,” the minister said, and gestured that the ring-bearer should come forward.
“I object,” said a nasally voice from the vague sea of pews. It might’ve been Braden’s own guilty conscience, but no--there was Kyle Strawn, Omaya’s long-time friend and hopeless devotee. His cheeks were flushed a splotchy red and his hands were balled up at his sides.
“This isn’t a movie wedding, young man,” the minister said with a touch of amusement in his voice. “If you don’t believe these two can legally marry each other, there are official chan--”
“Everyone in this room knows Omaya deserves better,” Kyle said. No one in the church opted to confirm or deny the declaration. Someone blew their nose.
Bradon felt an itch in his gums, the same feeling he got just before digging in to a choice cut of steak. He put an arm around Omaya’s shoulders and pulled her close. The veil did not hide her profile from him. He saw her eyes; they were wide with wonder. There was a slight upward curl at the corner of her lips. It was like arabic, that curl. Or kanji, or hieroglyphics. Something inscrutable. The subtle shape of pink mouth and pale skin was more troubling than Kyle’s echoing diatribe.
“He’s a loving cheater,” Kyle said, just as Braden thought, Be a loving husband, idiot. Everything in the church was crystal clear. Kyle’s mouth flapped in slow motion.
Bradon swept Omaya’s veil aside. She inhaled sharply through clenched teeth. Bradon lifted her chin with one finger, kissed her, ignored the way her eyes frosted over. Then he lunged for Kyle.
As soon as he stood up, Kyle felt approximately one billion miles away from his body. He glanced at Jessica for encouragement, but her face was neutral, her eyes focused on the couple at the front of the chapel.
There hadn’t been time to come up with a properly scathing speech. Jessica--Omaya’s best friend, aside from Kyle--pulled him aside just before the ceremony and hissed in his ear: You’re the only one who’s got the balls to stop this shitshow now.
It’d taken more than half the ceremony to get up the nerve. A million barbed declarations ran through Kyle’s mind. But his thoughts landed on his tongue in an unusable jumble of words, and what came out was
And now Bradon was barreling toward him like a tan, angry bear in a rented tuxedo vest. Kyle was an astronaut watching a hurricane system sweep across the gulf of mexico. I just wrecked Omaya’s wedding and now I’m going to get knocked down and beat to death in a church.
There was a narrow moment filled with fearful gasps and shocked faces. Jessica had her hands over her mouth. Omaya was shouting at Braden, and the minister was calling for peace.
The back of Kyle’s skull collided with the floor. Bradon was on top of him, two hundred and thirty pounds of Crossfit-sculpted rage.
“You’re a jealous little poo poo,” the groom growled. “You don’t know anything about her. She was never into you, got it?”
“I know she deserves better than this alpha male bullshit,” Kyle said, wheezing under Bradon’s weight. Aside from the shrill ringing in his ears, things were going better than he could’ve hoped for. He didn’t mind looking like a wuss if it made the other guy look like a brute.
There was a rustling of fabric and a murmur from the guests. Kyle lifted his head and peered around Braden’s bulk. Omaya descended from the altar, the white of her dress made blinding by pale, slanting light from the tall chapel windows. Like an elf queen, Kyle thought. Braden looked over his shoulder, an inquisitive expression on his dumb, blunt face.
She gathered up her dress and stepped around the two men, her eyes fixed on the door at the end of the aisle. Bradon shoved himself off of Kyle and called after his bride. Kyle rolled over onto his stomach, just in time to see Omaya disappear into the wall of daylight outside the church.
I’ll make you happy, he thought, resting his chin on the musty church floor. When you’re ready, I’ll be here to make you happy.
“You didn’t tell me you were going to put Kyle up to it,” Omaya said, combing her fingers through her salt-tangled hair. She’d waited until they were on Catalina Island to broach the topic of the wedding.
“If I didn’t tell you, you couldn’t tell me not to do it,” Jessica said. “And it was a plausible scenario. Dude has been obsessed with you since high school.”
The two women lounged side by side in hotel pool chairs, matching daiquiris on the table between them. The water was full of tan, lean swimmers, and the air smelled like wood smoke and barbecue. Omaya felt like she could breathe deeper, as though she’d shed some invisible corset. She rolled onto her side and looked up at Jessica.
“It was a top level scheme. But I seriously thought Braden was going to kill him for a second.”
Jessica picked at her fingernail polish. “Yeah, well. Better Kyle than you.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“It would’ve been my fault. I shouldn’t have asked--I should’ve just called the whole thing off instead of putting you up to some Machiavellian bullshit.”
Jessica dusted flecks of pink nail polish off her thighs and stretched out on her side, facing Omaya. “Yeah, but then Bradon would’ve cancelled your honeymoon reservations. Plus, I love Machiavellian bullshit.”
Omaya smiled, her cheeks stiff and dry from a day of snorkeling. “I didn’t call anyone before we got on the plane. I just...went. I don’t know what’s waiting for me when I get back.”
“The life you want to have.”
“Not if my family has anything to do with it.”
“You won’t be happy as long as you think you have to please them.”
Omaya shifted so she was on her back and stared up at the empty sky through the tint of her sunglasses. “I think all my problems come from listening to people who wanna tell me what will or won’t make me happy, you know?”
“Hey,” Jessica said, “Come stay with me after this. I’ll scare ‘em all off.”
Omaya pursed her lips. She could feel that corset tightening again, just a little. “You can’t fix my life,” she said. “Let’s just pretend we’ll always be here by the ocean, drinking these drinks, having this afternoon.”
“Cheers to that,” Jessica said, raising her drink. Omaya decided to overlook the disappointment in her voice. As long as she was beside the ocean, she could pretend it all away: Braden, her family. Anything. She’d pick it all up at the baggage claim when she got back home.
Overhead, a white gull floated on invisible thermals against the blue sky, nearly motionless, like a piece on a movie set.
|# ? Mar 27, 2016 21:44|
one of you sharts step up and help the man judge
|# ? Mar 27, 2016 22:20|
sparksbloom fucked around with this message at 23:34 on Jan 1, 2017
|# ? Mar 27, 2016 23:01|
one of you sharts step up and help the man judge
youre not my mom
|# ? Mar 27, 2016 23:20|
youre not my mom
just FYI prospective judge, you get to own the poo poo out of flerp. you get an official warrant and everything
|# ? Mar 27, 2016 23:37|
yeah but everyone does that anyways
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 00:13|
Doors Locked and Windows Painted Shut
1369 Words (403/467/499)
God help me.
I hurry from my bedroom to the bathroom and back again. poo poo. poo poo. poo poo! My body feels huge and my face looks like a fire truck. I can’t do this. I can’t make myself want that boy any more than Mom wants Pop. Where are my good jeans? Will they even fit?
The mirror lets me down. Why do I even care how I look? He won’t. Pop says I have to look and act my best, like a lady. Not that Mom ever bothers these days. She has her old man pants and her acrylic knick-knacks while Pop spends his Johnny Walker Wednesdays at the Legion. Classes suck the life out of me, but I still keep my grades somewhere above average. All that work just to come home and watch after my brothers and sisters. Cook for them. Help with homework. Go to bed. Every day I wish I could wake up somewhere else.
I find the jeans half under the bed and have to lay flat on my back to zip them up. Now I can’t breathe. Nothing like a little discomfort to put things in perspective. Pop taught me that every night he came home too affectionate to find his own bed. My thighs are strong, but my will is stronger. I won’t let him forget it.
Mom spoons Jell-o salad into those chipped all to poo poo crystal parfait glasses out in the kitchen. No one outside this house knows how she got pregnant with me so Pop would marry her, take his little bird away from that hell of a hole she grew up in. “You goin’ out, Birdie?” she asks.
“Don’t call me that.”
Mom smiles wide enough to show her fillings. “Have a nice time.”
The front door sticks in the summer, but Pop keeps it locked when we’re home. Better safe than sorry. The air outside feels heavy and my breath hitches tight under my blouse. I tell myself I can do this. Boys always want me soft to start and rough at the end. I saw it in his eyes when he asked me to dance. His hands never strayed, but I could taste the want. His car pulls into the drive and the lights fill my head with fire. One time. That’s all it takes.
Don’t gently caress this up.
* * * * *
Two days ago, I failed my first college class and I didn’t know how to tell anyone. Threw my scores in the burning barrel around back of the dorm where all the boys smoked and drank from bottles. Sometimes I thought high school would be it for me, but Dad made things clear I didn’t have much of a choice. A failing grade meant I had to take the class again. Over summer quarter.
I decided not to face Dad that day, not in my condition. He kept the Walking Stick in the cabinet next to the bed in the spare. I didn’t know what to do with a whole bottle, so I poured about half into a metal thermos and stashed it in the back seat of the Skylark. The one Dad used green house paint to cover the rust and the passenger side windows still won’t come unstuck. I drove out to the practice field behind the high school, parked behind the bleachers. Took two sips and poured the rest out. What a failure.
The Legion hosted a dance every Monday. Dad hardly thought himself a war hero, but he served. I graduated with some of the guys bound to be there and figured they might take pity on a fellow Purple Rider down on his luck.
Three beers later, I shuffled across the floor with an angel of a blonde, held on so tight I swore in her ear I’d never let go. She smiled. Smiled so damned big I thought she’d run away with me that night. “What’s your name?” I asked.
Her eyes widened, bright and clear. “Wanda Elizabeth.”
I pull into the driveway at just after eight on Wednesday.“How’s my Wanda Elizabeth?” I ask as she slides onto the front seat and pulls the door closed.
She glances at me sideways then sets her eyes forward. “Please drive.”
I take a mental inventory of all the things I need. Comb. Breath mints. Condoms. I pull the Skylark onto a field road by the reservoir and park. All the jumbled up thoughts in my head turn to her. I’d kissed some girls before, felt a few boobs, but tonight promises so much I don’t know what to do next. “You look pretty tonight,” I say, sweating through my shirt.
Wanda’s smile creeps slow across her lips. “Kiss me.” She puts my hands where she wants them and I keep my lips moving. Until my jaw starts to ache and I pull back.
Wanda frowns. “What?”
“I really like you, I just. I want to slow down some.”
Wanda’s head turns toward the silo lights in the distance. “Take me home, Danny.”
Three tries. The Skylark won’t turn over.
* * * * *
You’re going to find one day telling a man he can’t have what’s coming to him’ll leave you staring down the wrong end of his gun, Pete Friebel. You know he earned it. Warren wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and it comes back dry. He reaches under the seat for a small, metal flask and downs three gulps. “Cocksucker.”
The Riviera idles half a block from the Legion. You can’t let this kind of poo poo slide, Old Man. Before you know it, Pete’s telling you “no” an hour out from last call. You’ve taken worse from better. Next time you ought to tell him what’s what instead of standing there like a goddam statue.
Warren pulls away from the curb. You’ll see. Everything will work itself out. You’ll come home just like always and Bevvie Mae’ll have a bologna sandwich and a glass of milk waiting for you in the icebox. Nothing to get your poo poo bent over. Now drive yourself steady on home.
Two red lights blink back and forth as a bell rings and the crossing arm lowers across the tracks. Warren slows up, slams his palms on the wheel. poo poo-gently caress, Danny! How could you let the Old Man down like that? Failing class? What’s four years of school when he put two in the Pacific? Shot those men dead as anything, beat the life from them with his bare hands when he ran out of bullets? Warren’s eyes unfocus until the blinking lights smear bloody across the windshield.
Point is, Son, he wasn’t a coward then and he won’t be in the morning. Now it’s your turn to face what’s coming. Warren tromps the pedal as the crossing arm clears the hardtop. Just keep it up, Son. You’re a better man than--
Warren chokes back a sob, squints. Clears his throat until it hurts. Boy just needs to learn, that’s all. Maybe you should tell him. Set him down and tell him you know how it feels working hard and still coming up short. The Riviera lists toward the yellow line. Maybe tell him what you can’t seem to when he’s close enough to hold.
A figure appears on the crest of the road, barely a blip on Warren’s blurred, runny-nosed drift left of center. Now you’re seeing things. Should’ve quit when Pete cut you off, Old Man. He sees a young woman wearing jeans, no jacket. Hugging herself against the wind. He slows the Riviera, window half way, and wipes his face with his hand. “You been crying, miss?”
The woman stops, eyes wide and bright. “Do I know you?”
“Do now.” About time you did a good thing for once, Old Man. Even if you’re home a few minutes late, you’ll have a lunchmeat sandwich and a frosty glass waiting for you.
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 00:14|
1176 Total Words
Martin puts the ring on Clara's finger. There's a rough spot on the inside where a small chip broke off, when he was prying out the stone. It scratches her, just enough to trace a red line, not deep enough to bleed.
“What the Devil?” she says.
“The stone was a bust,” says Martin. “That demon-goat thing's eye was just a hunk of colored glass. But I thought the setting would work okay as a ring. So will you marry me, Clara?”
“With Jade instead of gold and no diamond? What kind of girl do you think I am?”
“I can get you another ring,” says Martin. Clara takes it off, sets it down on her jewel box.
“When you do,” says Clara, “I'll get you another answer.”
He does. They marry on the first day of the twentieth century in a Lutheran church outside of town. Neither of them are believers. Martin breaks his vows during the reception, with Clara's older sister Alice. Spinster Alice up from Indiana, Hussy Alice yielding freely in the coat closet. She comes up to Chicago after the honeymoon. She carries on with Martin for months before they're caught. Clara confronts Alice with sharp words at her apartment. Clara confronts Martin with the kitchen knife at home, driving her point home twenty-nine times.
Clara comes back from the hardware store with shovel and lime and finds Alice standing over the body. The smell of gin is overwhelming. Alice drops a bottle, which shatters on the hard kitchen floor. “How could you?” she whispers.
“He deserved it,” says Clara, crossing her arms.
“If you didn't want him,” starts Alice.
“You only ever wanted him to spite me”
“I'll show you spite,” says Alice. She strikes a match and lets it drop to the ground. The alcohol, in pools and soaked-through newspaper, catches at once. The carpet Clara's standing on lights quickly. Alice planned to die with her sister. As Clara screams Alice changes her mind, too late to make any difference.
The ring is pocketed by an enterprising arson investigator. It is never entered in the logs. He sells it to a pawnbroker who loses it at poker, three of a kind falling to a Jack-high Hearts flush.
Gaze Fixed Forward
Jerome took bribes. Why not? He was corrupt
And no one in the city was his match
In crossing between both sides of the law
As cop and as enforcer of bad debts
One day, to let a miscreant escape
A beating and the state, he took the ring.
He swore he'd never wear a wedding ring.
Whenever some girl's virtue he'd corrupt
He'd always make a clean and fast escape
Until with Isabel he'd met his match
Her father was a man who paid all debts
And so his boss became father-in-law
A man can't marry mob and serve the law
So he gave up the badge and kissed the ring
And as he rose in rank assumed new debts
Supporting lifestyles lavishly corrupt:
What sister Anna had Iz had to match
And versa vice, a trap without escape.
One night Anna climbed up the fire escape
“I'm breaking in. You gonna call the law”
“Or light me up?” He found and stuck a match
He barely heard the phone's persistent ring
Engaged in conduct morally corrupt
And freely, blindly took on karmic debts.
The pattern met, some force put paid those debts
Isabel caught her sister mid-escape
Her seed of violence grew in soil corrupt
And, as though bound by unbent nature's law
Did murder as before beheld the ring
Her soul and will deformed to fit, to match.
As Anna, trembling, held the burning match
And tried to blow it out, thinking on debts
And reasons for to live that didn't ring
With any truth, attempting an escape
Burnt fingertips and by gravity's law
It fell, her soul not suicide-corrupt
Each pattern-match will fall 'til the escape
That pays all debts is found by sacred law:
A love so true the ring cannot corrupt.
I open the box and see the jade ring. Clarise is on the phone.
“It has a bit of a story to it. It's haunted.” she says.
“Haunted?” I say.
“Or maybe cursed. It's got this thing where every couple of decades the owner steps out with their wife's sister and then they all kill each other and set things on fire.”
“You don't really believe it.”
“Of course not. I mean, half of the stories can't even be verified. It's just urban folklore around people who just left town and fires caused by someones greasy rags. Just a big pile of confirmation bias.”
“You're absolutely sure,” I say. There's something I don't like about the look it.
“Do you think I'd buy it if it could kill us all?”
“Besides, you already know that magic ring or no I'd kill you if you did step out.” It's true. Or a running joke. I'm never sure.
“Anyhow, Val's happily married.”
“Oh, you didn't know?”
“Val and Gavin was always, well, a sort of a beard situation, and now that Gavin can marry for real, it's over. All but the paperwork.”
“Wait, Gavin's gay?”
“Wasn't that obvious?”
“No,” I say. “I mean, yes, but, I don't know. I thought 'nobody's that stereotypically-'”
“Listen,” she says, “I've got to go. I'll be home Tuesday night. Love you.”
I sit, staring at it. I'm afraid of it, even more because fear isn't my first impulse.
I was in love with Valerie first. We grew up close friends, and I always wanted more. But Clarise fell for me, hard, while Val was dating... Jimmy Becket? Or was it Terrence Myers? And Clarise was fun, and a great friend and partner, and then Valerie was married too and whatever lingering feelings I had were buried so deep they didn't even come out in my dreams. But now, after all I just heard, the biggest worst idea that ring represents isn't that I'd wind up dead but that I might have a chance with Val.
It's raining hard tonight. There's a knock at the door. It's Val, wet and sad and so happy to see me all at once. I reach out to guide her in out of the rain and she somehow winds up pressed against me. I know about the ring. Nobody else did. That counts for something, right? I can run away, crush the thing to powder, or best yet, just not do anything. Pull away, get her a cup of hot tea and some dry clothes and a taxi to a hotel. But we're kissing instead, and it's everything I'd ever hoped it would be and more. Even if I can't do anything, a part of me thinks, this is worth it. I know that part is wrong, dead wrong, but it just gets stronger and stronger.
And I'm lost.
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 00:27|
Roy 392 words
She should have been home an hour ago. Dinner sits on the stove uneaten. You sit at the table with your fist pressed into your cheek, waiting. It’s the third time this week.
It’s been this way ever since the firm let you go. Tina spends all day on her feet for minimum wage, then comes home and bitches that you haven’t done anything, no matter how clean the house is. You’ve held off foreclosure, but the pile of bills on the table grows daily.
You notice the quiet and straighten in your chair. You can’t remember the last time you heard Jack’s laughter. You bolt to the back door and stare out at an empty yard with a frozen heart. The woods loom at the edge of your property, and the sun does not shine through the canopy. It is a wall of shadow.
“Jack!” Your voice echoes and is swallowed up by the woods. You hear no response.
You glance back at the stove. The clock reads five past eight. Only an hour until the sun sets. And Tina could be home any minute.
You sprint toward the woods screaming Jack’s name. After two hundred feet, you’re swallowed by dim twilight.
You cross a narrow deer-path and turn to follow it. There’s no reason to believe it’s the right way, but something in the bare soil packed solid underfoot pulls you along. You run despite the low-hanging branches whipping your face. A trickle of blood blurs the vision of your left eye.
You come to an empty clearing and stop, hands braced on your knees. Jack sits Indian-style before a large black rock, jagged and sharp. He caresses the edges with his fingers and giggles. His head is turned like he’s listening to something.
You take a step forward and his head snaps up. He grins wide when he sees you and leans back from the rock.
“Christ, Jackie, you had me so worried.” You bend, pick him up. “Let’s get home before mommy sees we’re gone!”
You never see the jagged rock in his hands. There’s a blur of motion as his arm whips up, then an explosion of white.
You lie on your back and stare up into Jackie’s blank eyes. He grins and raises the rock over his head.
“I love you daddy!”
The rock comes down.
Tina 493 words
Coming home was never easy. Don’t get me wrong, my feet ached and I looked forward to sitting down in Roy’s tattered old chair. But my heart ached every time I saw the place since he died.
I came in and tossed my purse on the dinner table. Jackie’s backpack hung off one of the chairs. I tossed a frozen pizza in the oven, set the alarm, and headed upstairs to let him know dinner would be ready soon. I opened his door to find Rita Billings, naked, back arched, on his bed, with his face between her legs.
I screamed “Oh!” and spun to face the hall. Rita screamed herself, and I heard them both scurry to find their clothes. My face flushed deep red.
“Damnit Jack! I told you, you aren’t allowed to have girls over when I’m not home!”
Rita pushed past me, her face gray, and she fled down the stairs. The door slammed. I turned to find Jack sitting on the bed with his face in his hands.
“I’m sorry, ma. I know, and I’m sorry.”
“Sorry doesn’t cut it, Jack. We’ll talk in a bit. I need to go cool off. Turn off the pizza when it buzzes, will you?”
I didn’t wait for his answer. A moment later I was deep in the woods, kicking through tangles of vines and branches.
“Damnit, Roy!” I snapped a thin branch from a tree and whipped the trunk. “drat you for leaving, you dumb clumsy gently caress!” I hit the tree until the branch snapped and sagged against the scored bark.
I don’t know how long I wandered. When I found the clearing, the sun was well on its way down. A big, black rock jutted out from the grass. It had been years since I came out here, but that rock looked the same. Something balanced on its top. I stepped closer. It was a skull, some sort of rodent. Something crunched underfoot. Skulls ringed the stone, a new circle every few feet. There were dozens of them. I pressed a hand over my mouth and my knees gave out. I plopped onto the grass next to the stone, not far from where they’d found Roy. I heaved a few breaths and then tried to stand, using the rock for support.
When I touched it, my vision went black. Images flashed in my head and were gone. I stood naked with blood red lines curving under my breasts and down my sternum. I held a wriggling cat and bit deeply into its guts as it yowled and scratched. I knelt over Roy’s corpse, green and rotting, and slipped his boney fingers inside me.
I snatched back my hand, screaming, and scrambled away. I hit a tree and stopped, squeezed my eyes shut, and sobbed until the visions faded. When I opened my eyes, Jack stood before me. He held a huge knife.
“You shouldn’t have come out here, mom.”
Jack 478 words
Roy sat at the table with paper and crayons. His tongue poked out the side of his mouth as he drew. Jack sat across from him and watched.
“Grandpa?” The boy waited until Jack said, “Yes?” “Mommy said your mommy ran away when you were a little boy. Is that true?”
“Kind of. I wasn’t a little boy, but she did leave when I was very young.”
“Why?” He’d stopped coloring and stared up at Jack with big eyes.
“Wish I knew, Baloo.” Jack hauled himself up. “I want to show you something. You up for a walk?”
Roy was at the back door before Jack could take a step, bouncing in anticipation. Jack laughed.
“Just take it easy. The old man doesn’t move like he used to.”
The air in the woods was cool and damp, the soil still moist from the last rain. Still, Jack made decent progress. They made the clearing in an hour.
The boy stopped at the edge of the clearing, staring down at something by his feet.
“Grandpa? What’s that?” He pointed.
“Looks like an old raccoon skull.” Jack clapped the boy on the arm and winked.
“There’s more. They’re all around!” Roy stepped back. “I want to go home.”
More than just old ‘coon skulls, if you dig. Jack smiled a small, private smile. He stepped over to the rock, now overgrown with dead leaves and wild grass. With a wince, he eased himself down to the grass beside it. He pried a jagged stone from the soil.
“Hey Baloo. Come on over. I want to show you something.”
Roy shook his head and slunk back into the trees.
“I’m scared, Grandpa. I want to go home.”
Jack smiled. “It’s alright. They’re just old bones. They can’t hurt you.”
Roy took a few hesitant steps, gnawing his lip. Jack sighed and forced a smile.
“Come on!” Jack urged him on. “I’m gonna need a hand up, anyway.”
Roy edged his way over. The second he was close enough, Jack snapped a hand out and clamped down on his wrist. He yanked the boy close. Roy tugged and pulled, but Jack’s hands were practiced, their grip tight despite arthritis.
He shoved the boys hand down onto the rock. Roy’s eyes went blank and he sagged to the ground.
When he came to, he grinned wide. His eyes were feral.
Jack put the stone in Roy’s hands.
“Your mother will be here soon. Do you want to show her what we found?”
“Yes! Can we go get her?” He took a step back toward the house.
“Of course!” Jack started to rise. He got as far as his hands and knees when the world exploded into white sparks. Something trickled into his eyes.
“I saw it, Grandpa.” Roy’s breath was hot in his ear. “Saw everything you did!” Another crash, and then blackness.
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 00:53|
I'll help judge this pile, if you still need judges.
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 01:09|
I'll help judge this pile, if you still need judges.
Also, Roughly three hours left to get stories in!
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 01:12|
yeah but everyone does that anyways
more people own broenheim than a major corporation
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 01:17|
more people own broenheim than a major corporation
also here's my entry
flerp fucked around with this message at 00:45 on May 30, 2016
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 01:34|
Word count: 467
A chair creaked back and forth rhythmically in the shadow of a hearth’s fire. It eased onto its haunches and to its toes, while the fire chattered away under breath. A woman was wrapped in a tattered quilt that was frayed from old use not typical of other blankets. She hummed an old sea chantey that kept time with the rocking; eyes glistening with the start of tears. The withered face cracked a smile as they pulled the quilt to their nose and giving a last deep inhale.
Dusk hovered over the dock side while lanterns swayed back and forth and mens’ calls carried over the waves.
Amongst the bustle, the carrying of supplies, the orders, the shuffling footsteps, a couple stood as far from the loading deck as they could. The shorter of the two was wrapped in a freshly made quilt, to keep the late spring winds from chilling her too much. She raised a hand to the man’s cheek, cupping his jaw while she looked him in the eyes. He stared back, for only a moment before pulling her tightly into an embrace. The blanket was shed, handed over to the gentleman as a final parting gift. There were no words to be said, for they had been spoken and repeated days before. There was a final call from the crew, and the man ran off, blanket in hand to face his life ahead.
Days went by, nights were long. Letters were exchanged when they could, each received having the words read line by line in slow absorption. Until they stopped. Until all that returned was the quilt, no longer fresh and vibrant with dyed cloth. Its color was faded, stained with dirt and smelled of sweat, blood, and salt. It came with a letter wrapped inside thefolds.
“We’re heading home, Ana-belle. The months at sea were worth it, delivering that cargo. We will have enough to live comfortably, for you, for myself, for our beautiful child when they come. They will be strong like their father, beautiful, like their mother. We will be the happiest people have ever seen. Don’t you fret any more, darling. I’m coming home. I’m coming home!”
Laughter rang in the hallways like little chimes that dangled in the breeze. A small, frail child ran over to an old, but sturdy, rocking chair that was occupied by a young woman stitching a patch onto a quilt that covered her legs.
“I have something for you, dear. It was your Grandfather’s, and your Grandmother’s. I feel you are old enough now, child. It is old, so be careful; cherish it, as they cherished each other. Take it with you on your adventures, wherever you go.”
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 01:35|
Never get between a fat manchild and the last set of Star Wars lego. You learned that the hard way today.
Okay. It’s not like you had much of a choice. Christmas is around the corner and your son knows what he wants. Even worse, so does your wife, and she will roast your balls on the fireplace if you gently caress that one up. Possibly even put them up on display above it. Show them to all your friends when they’re coming around. “These used to be my husband’s once. Alas, last Christmas…”
So. It did probably seem like a good idea, at the time, to literally fight another man over a set of legos. And to be fair, he looked a lot like bipedal pudding, so it stood to reason that the fight would be short, and easy, and if you had known that this was going take more than a gentle tug on the box you might have looked for another hill to die on.
But you didn’t, and as it happens when pushes come to shoves, somebody got hurt. Many people got hurt. Many more people got hurt than have a right to get hurt in a toy store, over a set of Star Wars lego.
“Why are you in here?” says the burly man sitting next to you on the bench, and you swallow and say, “shanked a biatch.” He is not convinced. And that is coming from the only person in America that hasn’t yet had a chance to see the video of your Great Marble Avalanche, trending under the hashtag #hurricaneManchild.
Towards the end of said video, a sweaty you wades through a shiny, colourful floor of marbles and injured shoppers, barely quick enough to avoid the basement-dwelling mammal at your back. There are incomprehensible grunts and shouts, and a panting figure closely resembling you yells something about “Mah leggos.” You don’t remember that. The video ends as you disappear around the corner. Just seconds later you will run to the cashier and pay for the lego set, thus completing what constitutes a legal transaction, and, in fact, probably your only legal action that day, no matter how often you will insist towards the perplexed cashier that you’re going to “help fix this mess.”
“Was it worth it?” the burly man next to you says. You look up from the box of LEGO on your lap, follow his gaze and realize that the Great Marble Avalanche plays on TV. A sinister knowledge stirs in you, phantom goose bumps growing on your genitals. Your wife watches TV this time of the day.
“Friend,” you say, “here’s the cold hard truth about Christmas: no matter what you do, you’re hosed.”
You give the box a shake.
“But at least I have LEGO.”
“We can’t make this work anymore,” Miranda says and you agree. You’ve gone over the numbers a dozen times: the buffer between your household’s income and expenses has always been thin enough to slice a piece of bread and spread some discount “butter” on top, but now the district’s forcing you to renovate your old house and no matter what kind of generous payment plan you’ll take: you’ll have to sell some stuff.
“What about Robby’s old toys?” she says.
“I don’t think he minds.”
It is true. Robby is 24 years old. He probably plays with girls these days.
And yet, you are reluctant. There are memories here: that rainy day when Robby and you built the Alien Spaceship w/ Two Pilots and Scientist, and you couldn’t find the piece that closes off the prow so you looked through the entire room, and the entire house, before you found it two days later when you took the dog for a walk (that was when you realized the little bugger had a thing for plastic, but that’s a whole different story). Or that one time when it was two days before Christmas and you shopped for Star Wars lego so hard it got you prison time.
Maybe it’s nostalgia, but something in you stirs, like a tiny little children’s heart beating inside your big, manly man’s heart.
“I should make sure that the sets are still complete,” you say.
You set up your base in the attic. You start with the spaceship. You’re not sure if you ever replaced the prow piece or if you just washed it off and threw it back into the box after you’d found it.
As you build, you think about calling Robby, but you never get past the first half of his number before you decide that he’s probably just going to laugh in your face. So you stay up in the attic alone, and you build, castles and robots, space bases and mining outposts, every evening, until you are done, and you know which sets are complete, and which ones aren’t, and which ones are a pain in the rear end to build (surprisingly, a lot).
But as you move to box your creations up again, tears well up in your eyes, and within them, kaleidoscopes of possibilities: like a castle… with a space robot on top!
And then another week goes by, and the sets aren’t so tidy anymore.
“Dad?” Robby says.
“Oh. Hi, son.” You’re trying to get between him and the lego, but the lego is everywhere, so it kind of doesn’t work.
“Mom said you’ve gone crazy and I should talk to you.”
“I was going to sort through your old sets but… I guess I got a little carried away.”
“I see that,” he says. He looks at the castle with the space robot on top. He tries hard not to smile, but you notice.
“Maybe I could help,” he says.
A dark corner in a dark alley was not a reassuring place to do business. Robert nervously played with the keys in his pocket, lined them up between his fingers. Because that was what the laser-gun-wielding criminals of Rodham City feared most: pudgy mid-forties who cosplayed Wolverine.
“You da boy who want dat leggo,” a voice said from a shadowy spot inside the dark corner.
“Can you please come out I can’t see very well in the dark,” Robert said.
The guy shuffled out into the twilight, looking sleazy like a night in a Nu Las Vegas strip club, unshaven and dressed in an undershirt and bootstrapped camo pants. He had a box of Star Wars lego wedged under his armpit.
“Dis prime stuff,” he said.
Robert took the box and wiped the grease off. Anakin Skywalker Pod Racer. That was it. He’d been looking for this thing for months. Ever since Emperor Clinton had outlawed fun, lego had been hard to get by.
“You’re not a cop, are you?” Robert said.
“Nah,” the sleazy guy said as he took Robert’s money. “Private law enforcer.”
Robert clicked his heels together and his rocket boots sprung to action. He exploded into the sky as enforcer sirens flared up below him.
Two rocket jumpers gave chase. They danced through the night sky, stars above and lights beyond and laser fire in the middle. Luckily Robert was a pro at Dodge Dogde Revolution. He ducked back down into the streets below and shielded the precious lego box with his body as he propelled himself into a heap of trash bags. It was still fine. The two enforcers landed behind him, but one of them had a harder time of it than the other, judging from the crunchy noises.
Robert ran out onto main street, which was deserted in this shady part of town since the poor people had all been outsourced to China. But the running was not as quick as the rocket boots so the enforcer caught up with him, slamming into him from behind. Robert found himself on his back, the enforcer sitting on top of him, shoving the gun in his face.
Robert wolverined him.
The enforcer recoiled, yelped like a beaten puppy. Robert didn’t wait to check what damage he’d done. He clicked his heels back together and launched metabolized rocket fuel into the villain’s face as he propelled himself along the street and then up and away.
His father’s hospital room was warm, and well-lit, and would have overall been much nicer than the dark alley if it wouldn’t have necessitated his father’s hospitalization. Robert placed the box on his father’s nightstand.
“Lego?” His dad chuckled, then stopped himself from laughing with a pained grimace. “Isn’t that illegal?”
“We used to build this together, remember?”
“Yeah,” he said.
“Look, I know you’ve got a lot to do, what with the cancer and all. But maybe, I thought…”
“Son,” his father said, “you were drat right.”
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 02:38|
*** (394 words)
The infant heir Francisco was a darling from the moment his mother, the Queen Isabella, introduced him to the court. He was the cherubic darling of the ladies and roundly affirmed as a boy of royal stock by the Dukes.
He was trained in language, art, philosophy, and combat by his father, King Ricardo II. As his only son and thus the only recipient of the divine right passed from God to King to heir, Ricardo encouraged the boy in every endeavor.
Francisco was introduced to Maria at sixteen. She was his first cousin, Isabella's niece, and a daughter of a high duke in the King's court. The bloodline and the divine right made their union obvious. Their first child was stillborn, a limp and transcluent corpse heaved from Maria six months into their marriage. Their second child, a boy and the heir, was a spitting image of his father.
While his stature, a congenital four and a half feet, excluded him from the personal arts of war Francisco had grown into a truly gifted politician. He had the king's ear by fifteen and had all but supplanted the chief ministers by twenty.
A week after King Ricardo fell ill of a toxicity of his humours, the newly-crowned Fransisco II took the throne. One night soon after, candlelit in his imperial quarters, King Ricardo handed the family blade, the symbol of their station, to his son, then passed quietly in his sleep.
King Ricardo was buried with full royal honors as his son and the new king grieved in seclusion for a single day. Then, Francisco II began his kingship with a fervor, the family blade always at his side and dangling just inches from the ground. Francisco's wisdom was celebrated and the hearts of his people swelled as he brought them health, wealth, freedom, and prosperity.
When he was buried next to his father, the funeral's resplendence was only surpassed by the raw emotion of Francisco II's people. His queen and people wept and wailed over their passed liege. Francisco was a father to each family under his rule, as ever-present and nourishing as the sun. Francisco's son, a wise but more fragile ruler than the former king, was gifted the crown the next day.
Francisco's heirs would feed on he fuel of his star until it shrank to a heatless, heartless neutron.
*** (486 words)
Manuel was named after his legendary ancestor, the founder of the kingdom, a dominion which had grown considerably since Ricardo had passed the family saber to Francisco nearly 200 years ago. As had become family custom, he was joined at birth with Isabella as his future queen. By design, the infant girl was a direct descendent of Francisco II, a niece of two dukes, and, bizarrely, an aunt of a junior minister. As was becoming family custom, Manuel's mother, the queen, died in childbirth.
He was coronated hastily after the death of his father, as he carried the only blue blood of the line. The proud blood of Francisco and his forebears, with its investment in purity, concentrated to a genetic poison. Manuel's subjects had noticed generations of weakening kings, even with the rare and unpredictable spike of regal talent. Yet, no cause was identified to this effect. There was, after all, the divine right.
King Manuel III was born with a crook in his right wrist, a left leg a full three inches shorter than the right, and muscles always inching to atrophy. He could no longer hold the family blade due to these inborn deformations. After brief and exasperated ministerial discussion, the splendid blued steel blade was removed and the bare hilt presented to the King. Manuel held it weakly, a scepter without a touch of regency.
The new liege, as he grew, reacted to the physical curses of his birth with a streak of cruelty and holistic anger made exponentially more dangerous by his station. While Manuel III styled himself a politician and commander, the psychology of his inability to hold one sword forced a thousand into the hands of his people for the purpose of pillage, looting, and destruction.
Two years into Manuel III's rule, he fell ill. His ministers insisted that it was simple overindulgence, but the King was convinced he'd been poisoned. He turned his innate paranoia onto his people and punished them with impunity, satisfied to treat them as flies in a jar. The genetic component of empathy seemed to have been bred out of the royal blood and his people began to sleep with creeping unease, nauseous in worry.
When Queen Isabella was fifteen, they had tried for an heir. Their first child came out both small, weak, sick, and female, so they tried again. They produced an heir who would be King, a boy mirroring his father's poor constitution. Isabella died in apoplexy as the boy was delivered.
The King died just as suddenly. He'd woken, clutched his chest, then fallen back, never to awaken. His procession carried the token resplendence of his predecessors', but the cries, wails, and emotion were absent. Many of the cloistered King Manuel III's subjects were seeing him for the first time in years, their lord's skin waxy from seclusion and glinting sickly in the sun as he was carried to rest.
*** (498 words)
Anacleto III was coronated while still jaundiced from prematurity. His birth was a gamble taken by the court, as a live heir had become a blessing from the now-casual stillborn. His mother died in childbirth, as was tradition in their line. The family bloodline was an ouroboros, unable to deposit waste, only to consume and re-consume.
Anacleto, in all his deformation, was presented to the courtiers. He babbled unintelligibly and continuously at each desk, but without any mirth. He'd been born with a tongue twice as large as normal, leaving his ceaseless speech accompanied by steady twin rivulets of saliva from his permanently gaping mouth.
His growth arrested at a scoliosed four feet. Neither of his hands, inbred to unbreakable rigor, could grasp the scepter, once the heirloom sword. After a ministerial discussion eerily similar to one held before his ancestor Manuel II, the hilt of the treasured family blade was remounted to hang passively around Anacleto III's neck. The King hunched from its weight.
Anacleto had only one real responsibility: to produce an heir. The King was unable. After a rote attempt by the queen, his ministers first tried a professional courtesan, then a seasoned matron, only ending with a dribble of impotent, chalky semen. There would be no heir. The King did not receive the news well.
Anacleto, in a blind rage with his penis still hanging free, hobbled rapidly from his chambers to the court. The first courtier of many to look at the exposed and raving King received the brunt of Anacleto's genetically unbridled rage. The courtier in question had spent his entire life serving the Royal line, as had his father. He was an educated man with a love for his kingdom.
The heirloom necklace was driven into the courtier's face in a flurry of gore as the King used the treasured symbol of his Royal office on the courtier. Anacleto continued to strike, screeching and drooling, until he was pulled away.
This event seemed to absolve the subjects of any illusions of just rule. Their entire faith in leadership was based on the bloodline. Without an heir, public mistrust swung hard against the seemingly-always hidden monarch. Bolstered by the absence of an heir apparent, the king's chief advisors met under cover of darkness. By the late morning, Anacleto was led by hand to the finality awaiting him in Royal chambers.
The minister at the king's door had little recollection of Anacleto's forebears, other than the stories of their ultimate degeneration passed orally through the generations of the court. The minister said a small prayer to the memory of Francisco, led Anacleto in, then closed and locked the chamber door.
Anacleto III wound his short life down, pushing miniature cannons under his own spittle behind a locked door. He would never know that he was the last of a proud line, nor that his kingdom, in staggers and heaves, would cast off the poison blood of regency and look once more to prosperity.
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 03:13|
Everything Comes from the Ocean; Three Stories of Expression
Your Heart Will Tell You What Your Head Doesn't Want To Believe
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 15:09 on Jan 2, 2017
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 03:21|
Word Count: 1476
Word Count: 484
“Why didn’t you make a coat out of it?”
Smoke puffed from my mouth along with the question. The bursar had taste; the cigars weren’t terrible.
“There’s no need for a coat in the rainforest,” the bursar replied. “Besides, we were leagues away from any tailors.”
My eyes lingered on the scaled skin hanging on the north wall of his den. Somehow it gleamed greenly in the candlelight as though still moist with river water.
“And you had nothing but a hatchet and machete? Not even a pistol?” I tried to make my eyes gleam imploringly as I asked. So far he seemed quite enamored with my sinless persona.
“It was more than enough. Back then, I could’ve wrestled the thing with my bare hands and he’d’ve submitted. I was strong as a giant back then.” Henry Goodling the bursar laughed with the weight of nostalgia then stood and made his way toward the wine cabinet. He pulled something from the top shelf without looking.
As he poured, I tried to count all the things that gleamed in the room behind his back. I smelled the age of the books on his shelf and listened to the bell tones of his wine glasses cut from crystal. The air in this house felt rich against my skin.
“You know,” he turned, “I have never met a woman who could keep up with me whilst drinking and smoking. So far, you alone have that distinction.” I reached out for the glass he offered me and replied, “Then you can’t have met too many interesting women.”
I looked again at the crocodile’s skin on the wall. It was obviously much older than Henry Goodling, the mendacious braggart. The methods used to preserve it looked absolutely ancient. Yet, the color suggested if one ran a hand over its ridges, the skin would writhe as though pining for its original owner.
As the bursar’s guest, a traveler whose arranged taxi seemed to have misplaced itself, I kept him well entertained and made sure he drank just as much as I did. I held my breath at intervals to flush my cheeks with blood. I stumbled as I rose to use his water closet. Little did he know I’d been drinking since my early years, and had probably twice the tolerance of the big man.
When I started back from the water closet, a low grunting snore greeted me from the direction of the den. The old fool.
From my sensible travel bags, I gathered my rope, knife, and a long cylindrical leather bag, and replaced the empty vial of morphine.
When he woke, tied to a chair and groggy from the morphine, he would find himself one crocodile skin and a whole roomful of trinkets poorer, with nothing to show for it but a fake name and the description of a girl wearing a wig and a stolen dress.
Word Count: 492
The songbird’s voice bounced through the trees, blessing the branches and leaves with its music. The bird was a plain one, by rainforest standards, but his chest shone with a most vivid teal. Some of his brethren had brighter yellow in their tail feathers or heads as brilliant as blood, but none could compare to the shining glory of his breast.
He burst through a patch of wide leaves and happened upon a long stretch of river so wide it split the canopy like a canyon. Sun slanted through the clouds and illuminated the water with silver. The songbird’s mating call became a high whistle of ecstasy, and he dove and skipped across the rippling mirror of water.
All was silent.
The songbird glided across a wide, flat expanse where the long branches and vines on the river trees dappled the sun with shadow. A lone log meandered along the center of the river, and the songbird alighted upon it.
The log turned its head and glanced at the songbird. A spray of water puffed from the log’s nostrils. The songbird froze, gaze locked with an eye that was only slightly smaller than his own head.
The eye winked.
The songbird blinked twice, rapidly and confusedly.
The log dipped its head back into the water.
The songbird puffed out his chest, coasting along the surface of the river on his steed, the mighty Crocodile.
The two sailed together as the sun buried itself beneath the trees, the songbird voicing his chirruping mating call at intervals and the Crocodile responding with a puff of his nostrils.
Then there were drums.
The Crocodile must have felt them thrum through the water. He dove beneath the surface, surprising the teal-breasted avian. Water splashed around his wings as he frantically flapped and took off. He could barely see the shadow of the Crocodile cruising the river below the surface, but he could see where the shadow’s path lead; to a large raft crewed by strange bare mammals.
One of the mammals spotted the Crocodile’s fading V of a wake, and the drummer accelerated his rhythm so that it was at once inviting and frenzied. The others prepared a woven net and a couple of long spears tipped with sharpened stone.
The mammals heaved the net in one synchronized movement over the shadow, and the encumbered Crocodile burst through the surface of the river.
His size struck the songbird with total awe. The Crocodile’s maw was wrapped tight in one end of the net, which held fast despite his head snapping back and forth to free himself. The spearsmen thrust again and again, into his belly, into his neck, into his side. He squirmed as the others hauled him onto the raft.
The songbird threatened to dive bomb one of them, but lost his nerve before he got too close, instead singing a final goodbye to his brief friend and winging off to a more pleasant safety.
Word Count: 500
Nick St. Jerome wakes up an hour late for office hours with a bottle of Canadian Club soaking into his bare mattress. His shoes are unimpressed.
Nick hops out of bed and tosses a ragged towel on the whisky. He flaps the wrinkles out of one of the shirts on the floor, squeezes into an old pair of slacks, and shoves his feet and yesterday’s socks into the indignant pair of crocodile skin shoes. This pair of shoes tells a story of the affluence once afforded to Nick St. Jerome, Ph.D. It’s the last thing he owns that does.
The shoes enjoy the clammy morning air whipping by on the streetcar. Nick dashes into a gutter puddle when he hops off, and for an instant the shoes are back in the blue Nile, hunting for prey. Nick curses the day and the god watching over it.
There are three men waiting for him at Nick’s office door.
Well, one man, two bodyguards.
“Nicholas St. Jerome?” the man being guarded says. His shoes are brightly polished leather. Nick’s shoes think they’re tacky.
“You’ve got him. And you’re Len Tirell?” Nick ventures. The name is a familiar one. He’s a union man, advisor to the mayor, and has a minor side job as head of the Irish mob.
Len gestures toward the door. “After you.” The bodyguards wait outside.
Nick offers Len a drink, Len says “Whisky rocks.”
Nick says, “No rocks. I usually go to the corner store to get some after lunch.”
Len scoffs. “Neat then.” He lights up a cigarette, and Nick’s shoes notice despite his silver case, the man rolls his own.
“I’ll get down to it,” Len says as he sits. “I’m a man of information. I thrive off of knowing things about certain people and places, secret things. But sometimes,” his stare intensifies here, “people don’t want to tell me things. Things I need to know.”
Nick’s mouth is kind of half-open as he listens. His shoes would tell him he looked moronic if they could speak.
“I need something that’ll make people give me good information. Make sure there aren’t any spyers and liars in my crew. That something you can find for me?” Len’s staring at Nick from underneath his eyebrows.
Nick starts to say something, then uncrosses his legs. His right heel taps the floor beneath the desk nervously. He’s thinking.
“Thalomoxyhydrin,” Nick says. “We call it a candor inducer. Some of the funnier guys call it a truth serum.”
Nick’s lying better than his shoes have ever seen.
“I can get it, depending on your offer.”
Len crosses his legs and leans back. “Ten thousand,” he says.
Nick’s leg stops jackhammering. He, too, leans back.
“It’ll be in aspirin bottles,” Nick says. “Nobody will tell the difference.”
There’s a pause.
Len stands. Nick follows.
“It’s a deal,” Len says.
Nick St. Jerome, Ph.D., just sold aspirin to a mob boss at a nine hundred percent markup, and his shoes couldn’t be prouder.
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 03:33|
Three Left in Omaha
Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 03:29 on Apr 16, 2016
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 03:48|
Loaded Up and Trucked Away
Kyle and Andrea had snuck out of dinner on the last day of camp and hidden in the same ravine where Tanner Shelby had gotten stung by bees.
“We’ll be safe here,” said Kyle.
Andrea scanned the shaded sky for yellow flurries, but saw none. “What if the bees come back?”
“They won’t. They had a truck with smoke and a vacuum and everything.”
“There are a lot of dead ones on the ground,” she said.
Thousands of carasases littered the forest floor, as if a massive battle had taken place in the canopy. Whole bees, half bees, bits of legs and wings scattered among the ferns and needles.
“It’s ok,” said Kyle. “They got the queen, and they’ll take her somewhere nice, and she’ll start a whole new hive.”
“Maybe I should sting somebody,” said Andrea. She buried her face into Kyle’s Camp Siskiyou sweatshirt.
They sat like that for a while. Past dinner. Past the time where the counselors walked outside and yelled their names. Past the screaming of the fire whistle to assemble all the campers. Past the arrival of fire trucks and police cars. Past sunset.
They fell asleep there, nestled into the large divot left behind by a fallen giant.
“I found them!” called a voice behind the blinding light. Kyle squinted and held his hand up to his face.
He shooked Andrea awake. “Run!” he urged.
She didn’t make it more than a few steps in her stupor before a man overtook her and snatched her up in his big arms. She screamed and kicked, clawed at the man’s fingers and even tried to bite him, but he was too strong.
“You can’t let her alone with him!” Kyle told the counselor.
“It’s ok, that’s her dad.”
“That’s why,” said Kyle. He shook free of the counselor and ran to his cabin.
His bunkmates tried to give him high fives; they made pelvic thrusting motions and whistled. Sam smacked him on the back with a force belied by his meager age. “Smart move Belinsky: goin’ after the broken ones.”
“We didn’t do anything!”
“Then where’d you get that big ol’ hicky? From the janitor?”
The cabin laughed in chorus, and Kyle looked out the window, across the field where he’d first seen Andrea standing across from him during the morning flag salute.
“Kyle the janitor fucker!” Sam said, and everybody laughed harder.
Andrea’s father brought her out to the station wagon, tossed her in the back, and drove away.
The boys of cabin 5 forgot about Kyle when a large rat tried to sneak a cookie from Fat Barry’s duffle.
Kyle laid in his bunk, looking at a piece of paper Andrea had given him in the forest. It was her address, crudely written, but legible. As soon as he got home, he would write her a letter. He would write to her everyday. Then, when he was old enough, he’d go find her, and take her some place nice.
The Skeletal Postmaster
Though Lester Hould had been dead for 32 years, Claire never stopped hoping to find him. Sometimes she’d go months without thinking about the cold case, when she was inundated with claims of stolen packages or stamp fraud.
But a missing postal worker was a real challenge. The type of thing she’d joined the United States Postal Investigators to do. Crack a case like that, and you’d get your own task force. There was a whole world of mail-related malfeasance out there. Drug rings, jewel smuggling, one task force had even caught a guy shipping alligators from Florida up to a purse factory in Canada.
Though technically the motto about “nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” didn’t pertain to somebody of her rank, Claire couldn’t wait for it to dry up before chasing down her latest lead on Lester Hould’s whereabouts. She kicked the tires of her mud-stuck jeep and wished she had.
Still, she wasn’t an idiot. She only traveled along official USPS routes, and she could catch a ride from a courier in the morning.
Already soak through her suit, and no hope of rescue til the morning, she set out to find the rusted out mail truck some kids had told their parents about. It was only a few miles up the road. Claire walked along the muddy trail. The rain was warm, and besides getting in her eyes a few times, wasn’t much of a nuscience.
After a few hours of hiking, she reached the old covered bridge described in her report. She looked over the edge, into the ravine. Water gushed through the narrow gap under the bridge, the creek swollen with rain. She climbed down to the waters edge. Once down, she immediately regretted her decision. She pictured the trees giving out, and them finding her body washed up on some farm. Corpses never look good when that happens. She shuddered, but the trees’ roots held fast, and she made her way upstream to where the trees thickened.
Tucked just away from the view of the road was an old mail carrier. One of those that looked like they were the retarded cousin of the space shuttle. Sliding doors, and the steering wheel on the wrong side for American cars. How Lester had made it that far upstream was another mystery unto itself, but sure enough, there he was, a skeleton holding on to the steering wheel like he could still finish his route.
Claire climbed into the back and found one bag of mail, still in its NorRain® USPS sack.
She spent the night in her own jeep, the one without skeletons, and hitched a ride back to the office the next morning. After cataloguing all the mail, she had the honor of finally delivering it to its destination: the USPS guarantee. She picked up the first item: a blank postcard save the address and name: Andrea Wexler.
Claire would get it home.
Life is Moldy Lemons
Andrea sat on her porch and watched the bees flitter from flower to flower. The trailer was quiet since her mom had gone. Well, that wasn’t fair, she thought. Her mom had died, but Andrea was almost jealous. She thought of it as leaving. As escape. She wanted to leave too, but had nowhere to go.
She squinted at the trail of dust making its way to her. It reminded her of the old cartoons she used to watch, where the roadrunner zipped along the road, leaving trails of dust. She assumed that made her the coyote. She sighed.
A white car emblazoned with the eagle logo of the USPS pulled up, and a smart-looking lady got out. The lady looked down at a piece of paper in her hands, then up at Andrea’s trailer.
“This 3924 Honey road?” she asked.
Andrea nodded. “Yup, but I still bet you got the wrong address. Nobody important has any business out here.”
The lady shrugged and walked up to the porch. “You don’t happen to know an Andrea Wexler, do you?”
“Wish I didn’t.”
The two women locked eyes.
“Well, I have a postcard here for here.”
Andrea reached out for the postcard with a small lump in her throat. It could be a thousand things: a rich uncle leaving her an inheritance, an old high school enemy looking to settle things with a fight, or even just a wrong address. It’d still be the most exciting thing she’d experienced in years.
Her hands shook as she took it. Then she turned it over. She flipped it back and forth several times. “Well, I didn’t expect that,” she said.
Claire apologized, got back into her car, and drove off.
Andrea sat with the blank postcard for a while, thinking how appropriate it was. Who would do a thing like that anyway? She’d never given anybody her address as far as she could remember. Not since that summer when she’d given that boy--
She stopped rocking. She remembered the boy she’d met at camp, the one she’d wanted to kiss, but was too afraid to. The one who had made her feel special. The boy she’d sat across from in their science lesson on making invisible ink.
Andrea stood up and ran into her house. A mushy lemon sat in the egg drawer of her refrigerator. It was good enough. She squeezed it on the dirty postcard, and teared up as the words started to appear in sloppy, childish handwriting.
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 04:01|
Dismas locked an arm around her neck. It was strange - Sophie had been choked to death six times so far, but she still hadn't shook the instinctive, desperate clawing at her throat.
"Sorry. Nothing personal." He'd said that every time, too.
Sophie finally pushed down her panic long enough to get out, "Liar."
"Oh?" Dismas' tone was infuriatingly casual, as if he currently wasn't keeping her in a sleeper hold - but the fact she was still conscious spoke volumes. Air crept back into her lungs.
Sophie considered her options. Last time, she'd started with, *I know about James*. It hadn't ended well - which is to say, it ended up with her waking up last Sunday for the seventh time, gulping air through a raw throat. So she tried, "I know why you stopped working for the mayor."
"And I know why you're working for him again."
"Get to the point." He tightened his hold, just a little, and another wave of dizziness rolled over her. But she was still conscious.
"I-I know where they're keeping him." In a burst of panic, she got out, "I can help!"
Finally, finally, she could breathe. He still had his arms wrapped around her neck, though.
A brief silence, then he asked, "How?"
Sophie didn't know how to respond. She'd never gotten this far before. "Well, I could give you the address. And then you can go rescue him."
It sounded bad, even to her.
Dismas snorted. "How would I get in? How would I get us both out?"
The truth was, Sophie hadn't thought of that. It'd taken her two cycles to even figure out where the mayor had been hiding him.
And now she'd been silent for too long. Dismas sighed, and Sophia closed her eyes.
Which is why she shrieked - just a little - when he let her go. "Tell me where he is."
She gave him the address. He nodded, then froze. "Someone's coming."
"Someone's here." A deep voice spoke from behind them.
They both spun around, and Sophia's stomach dropped out from underneath her.
"Mayor Breke. How nice to see you again." She tried grinning, she had the distinct feeling she was grimacing instead.
If it had been only him, Dismas might've taken him down. But as good as he was, Sophia didn't think he could handle three of Breke's goons at once.
"I can't say the feeling is mutual. If I was feeling curious, I would ask how you uncovered that address." He smiled at her, and produced a slim, single-button remote from his pocket. "But I'm not curious today."
He pressed, and held the button. A hoarse scream emanated from hidden, tinny speakers - and Sophia could feel Dismas flinch.
"I'll stop when she's dead." He looked over at Dismas, and after a couple seconds, Dismas nodded.
She turned to run, but Dismas had already grabbed her arm.
Sophie woke up Saturday morning, and pressed trembling fingers to her throat.
James forced himself upright, leaning on the wall for support. Dismas glanced back at him, then doubled back. James smiled at him as Dismas propped him up, and then continued on, just a couple paces behind the woman who'd helped Dismas come rescue him. The lamp she carried cast uneven light on the walls.
It had been a pretty miserable week - sleeping on the hard concrete of the basement Breke had thrown him into had left his back painfully stiff, and James swore he could feel the beginnings of a dehydration headache.
"So who did you say your name was?"
She didn't look back at him. "Sophie."
James raised an eyebrow at Dismas. He shrugged, then asked in a low tone, "Can you move any faster?"
"I don't think so." James winced. He'd never been the most athletic of people, but feeling this weak was unnerving.
Dismas squeezed his shoulder, then stiffened. James found himself sprawled out over the floor, with Dismas draped over him - usually a mutually enjoyable positiom, but definitely not now. Especially because his ears were still ringing with the crack of a gunshot.
"Dismas!" He was still breathing, which was good. What wasn't good was that gurgling he could hear from him.
"Goddamn it." Sophie glared off into the darkness. "Breke, you bastard."
"What can I say? You've forced my hand. Now, let me ask you -"
"I am not going through this asinine conversation again!"
As James stared at her, Sophie put the pistol she was holding to her forehead.
"What are you doi-"
Dismas gingerly made his way up to where Sophie stood by Breke's corpse. There was very little left that was recognizable.
He still didn't trust her. How could he? No journalist should be able to move or fight like that - but there she was. It was bizarre, and he had no idea how she'd managed to acquire those skills.
But still. He owed her a favor.
He told her this, and she laughed, wiping the blood from her cheeks. "Don't worry about it. Just go back to James."
"What are you going to do now?"
"I have honestly no idea." She'd laughed again, and shooed him off. "It's Sunday, right?"
"It should be."
"Good, good." She'd looked down at her hands, and wiped them clean on her jeans. "I'm good."
Then she shooed him off, giving him a fairly ineffectual shove to help him along.
He didn't see her again.
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 04:11|
newtestleper fucked around with this message at 10:36 on Jan 7, 2017
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 04:24|
Oh yeah I should probably close this huh.
Expect results tomorrow evening, most likely.
|# ? Mar 28, 2016 05:19|
This was an interesting week. The mid-pile this week was huge, and it was hard to pick HMs because none of us could agree on stories, and everyone felt that most stories had one part that was much, much weaker than the others. Finally, what we ended up deciding was to HM specific sections of stories we felt strongly about. In order avoid making Kai tear her hair out, we're just gonna count these as full HMs for the purpose of archiving.
Without further ado:
The Loser this week was KK Short Story 59 by Khris Kruel for a piece with weak dialogue and thin characterization that falls into all of the common pitfalls of a time travel flash fiction story.
A DM goes to Carl Killer Miller for a story that has potential and is well-written, but ultimately ends up being far too dry and distant from the characters and their motivations.
HMs go to Thranguy for taking a big risk that paid off with a rad, well-crafted sestina, Ironic Twist for a strong, very well-written, and touchingly human opening, and flerp for one of the most ambitious takes on the prompt this week, with some strong imagery, some cool shifts in perspective, and a genuinely touching middle.
Which leaves the winner this week: Crabrock, whose story all three judges picked for the win by a large margin. A touching story that made really strong use of the prompt and had strong characterization / motivations to make everything compelling and interconnected. Congrats!
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 02:12 on Mar 29, 2016
|# ? Mar 29, 2016 02:07|
|# ? Mar 29, 2016 02:11|
|# ? Nov 26, 2022 15:02|
I humbly accept my loss and blame the fact I had never read a time travel fiction story and wanted to see what I could do.
Will do better next time
|# ? Mar 29, 2016 02:17|