Realism (1,097 words)
Ekaterina sat at the windowsill. She always sat at the windowsill. Every morning. Seven o'clock. She would sit, scribbling on some scrap of paper or another, with the same sort of unfocused but earnest glee that was the exclusive domain of the young. Crayons, with their points long dulled from her excited mashing, ground into the paper. Their wrappers, peeled back to expose more of the colored wax beneath. Drawing, always drawing. Ekaterina's "pictures" could barely be called that. A sort of pure expression of creative thought unbound by the restrictions of form. The point was in the making. The point was in the doing.
She had graduated to pencil. Ekaterina was currently attempting to sketch out her final design. Circles. Always start with circles. An oblong one, tipped on its side, with four straight cylinders jutting off it. Two on the left, two on the right. Then a smaller circle in the upper left, overlaid on top. Now she was getting somewhere. She started nudging in the shapes, cutting into them with concave angles, billowing out with convex ones. A tuft of hair here, a pointed ear there. A mane. A tail.
"...he main cafeteria," her orientation leader said perkily. She jerked out of the daydream. She hadn't been listening at all.
"So, let's split up into groups of five and introduce ourselves," Megan - Was it Megan? - continued.
This was the part of freshman orientation Ekaterina dreaded. Being an expatriate didn't help, but she was always an introvert. She always hated public speaking.
She slung her backpack on one shoulder and slouched off to a currently unfilled group, gathered around a set of desks in the far corner. They stood around, staring at each other. Shuffling from side to side, the dance of the socially maladjusted. Quick glances, that shifted away before one could even think to accuse another of being "creepy". Constant head-jerking, the attempts to seem casual and disinterested betraying how desperate they all were for initial acceptance.
A handsome boy with brown hair stepped forward. "I, uh...guess I'll start," he said uncomfortably.
"Hi. I'm Jeff Corden. I'm from Minnesota. I decided to go to Pratt because..."
He continued on, his voice fading away to a comforting drone.
Ekaterina sat, finishing up her horse drawing. A pretty good job, if she did say so herself. It certainly resembled a member of the equine family, at least, even if the legs were very spindly. She always had problems with extremities.
Time for the second half, the rider. She started the process all over again, a series of circles she overlaid onto the page. Finding her spacing, the locations for what would soon be a head, a torso, one arm, one leg. All facing left, since this was a side-on view. Soon after came the editing, defining out the amorphous blobs into human anatomy. The sort of relentless chiseling she learned from years of studied practice. This was going to be a good drawing, she could feel it.
"...jored in Literature," the black girl with the Mohawk to her right finished. Ekaterina had faded out again. She really needed to stop doing that.
The energy of the group was certainly different. The ice had broken - that's how the euphemism went, right? - and the bespectacled boy was whispering conspiratorially to the Asian woman next to him.
"Ah, thanks...Doreen?" Jeff said quizzically. Doreen nodded, half-smiling.
Jeff locked eyes with Ekaterina. A ball of ice suddenly formed in her stomach.
"So, what's your maj-"
As she sat there, adding in the graphical flourishes, a thought struck her. She tried ignoring it, to focus on getting the details of his hat just so, the placement of the hand - she was very bad at hands - just right. Making sure it clenched into a loose fist, holding the invisible reins she hadn't bothered to draw in yet. Trying to describe a certain look to his features, a certain serene placidness that mirrored - No. She put her pencil down.
She didn't know if she was going to continue this hobby. It was becoming very near to actual work. The constant, daily nature of it. There was a certain joy that had been lost, replaced with cold-hearted determination. A certain mechanical, focused seriousness had seeped in. She liked drawing, she liked art, to be sure. But she didn't know if she actually wanted to put in the work to improve.
Ekaterina stood at the metaphorical crossroads of the adolescent, unsure of which direction to go. Although she didn't possess the vocabulary to express it, she was intrinsically aware of the importance of her decision.
Ekaterina stared at the half-finished drawing. It was a pretty good likeness of Giorgi on his mare, she had to admit.
Ekaterina looked up. Out the window. There they were, Giorgi and Mariam. Every morning. Seven o'clock. He nodded to her, just like he had done every morning. For the past three years, in fact. Every day, Giorgi would ride into town on his sad little horse. On his way to work, unless it was Sunday. Then it was Church. The old widower with the big bushy mustache and the newsboy cap astride his tired mare, living his provincial life. There was a certain paradoxical nobility to the whole thing, which is probably what influenced her to draw a portrait. Well, that and how he had, without fail, always nodded to her through the windowsill. The unspoken tenderness between two close acquaintances, formed over hundreds of days of seconds-long meetings.
Ekaterina raised her hand and wav-
They all turned to look at the source of the noise. Well. All but one. The young skateboarder sheepishly extricated himself from the pile of garbage he had made. Glancing around at the dozens of people in the quad who now were staring at him appraisingly, he nodded in the universal sign of the apologetic before setting about cleaning up. Righting the trash bin. Picking up the rubbish splayed out in front of it.
"Huh," Jeff remarked. "Where was I? Oh, right."
He turned to her. "What's your major? Or are you undeclared like the rest of us slacker scum?" He grinned at the end of that line, to take the edge off the self-deprecation.
"Illustration," she responded in heavily accented English. Still a bit shaken up.
"Oh, jeez, I forgot to ask your name. Sorry."
"No, it's fine. Ekaterina."
"Ekaterina? Beautiful name." Jeff's eyes narrowed. She cringed internally, knowing his question before he asked it. "What is it, Russian or something?"
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 00:38|
|# ? Sep 21, 2021 07:19|
The Final Logs of Doctor Omega
San Marino, I Didn't Know
I wake up on an alien landscape, my last memory Fafnir, that leather-bound lunk, wrenching the Tessimal Sphere from The Moment's hands and swinging it at me like a club. Millions of dollars of research, thousands of hours of work the more adequate scientists academia can muster, smashed to pieces against my power armor before I could steal it and put it to better use.
It takes me seconds to realize where I am. The smooth but yielding ground, the tall vertical trunks swaying as they tower above, and the constantly shifting direction of gravity allow only one solution. I have not been teleported but shrunk, down to the micrometer scale, and stand on human skin. The Moment's skin, to be precise: the signature of Nega-energy my instruments register is unmistakable hers.
We were not partners. I work alone. Robots are infinitely more reliable than paid goons. Had Fafnir not arrived, we would have come to blows over the Sphere. But if we are united in one thing it is our mutual contempt for the so-called Dragon Protector of Earth, and our conflict would wait until his defeat.
Some interaction between the Tessimal Sphere, her Nega-energy, and my own tech must have caused this. Fascinating. If it could be reversed and duplicated, such a power might make me unstoppable.
I haven't eaten since I arrived here. Nor do I believe I have breathed. How could I? My atoms are on a different scale. Chemical interaction would be impossible. Instead, I am sustained by The Moment's Nega-energy. I have modified my battle-suit to store as much as possible. It's not enough to venture more than a few blocks, let alone reach my lunar sanctum.
I confess I've never made a study of her powers. The time-slicing effects of Nega-Energy are amazing. The Nega-powered modifications I've made to my boots allow me to travel at speeds that, from my own scaled down perspective, are staggering. No, impossible, even. At my current scale, to travel from arm to head in less than a minute requires perceived speeds many times the speed of light.
I have built cameras from the ruins of my helmet. I arrive at her eyes and place them at the corners, wide lenses that capture what she sees. She is not aware of my presence at all, and is formulating new plans daily. Then I go within. Inside The Moment, through the maze of her bloodstream to her brain.
I am not sure what my intentions were. I understand the so-called mysteries of the human brain. From that position, I could have operated most mortals like marionettes. But The Moment has no ordinary mind. No, it is magnificent. The activity dwarfs even my own, with Nega-energy time manipulation in constant operation. I am humbled, and saddened at the loss to science when she chose to devote this sublime instrument instead to strategy. But also frustrated. No control, communication, nor even understanding is possible.
Battle is joined. All of The Moment's plans were useless, as that Aryan lizard-man Fafnir has somehow blundered into her arctic lair. I zoom across her body to her arms. I've calculated the safest place for me: the region between her skin and the Atlantean wristbands that channel her Nega-energy. The bands are as close to indestructible as any material. I brace myself and watch the battle through her eyes.
And what a battle it is! She fights with precision and grace, countering Fafnir's clumsy attacks. It is only his brutish strength and endurance that makes it a fight at all. When Fafnir does connect the blow sends them through walls, outside, onto a landscape of ice, melting and steaming from the heat emanating from Fafnir's body. The dance between them, her full of skill and him completely without, would be comic were it not for its intensity. I see a deep, despairing anger in Fafnir's eyes, something he never once showed in our battles. There is something personal and hateful in him, some history he lets rise to the surface here, far from the public eye.
Fafnir lunges, off-balance, with his left hand. The Moment grabs it with both of hers, twisting and pulling. The bone gives way. I can almost hear the snap despite the silence of my microscale world. She blasts it with concentrated Nega-energy and it withers. She rips it off his body. It would make a fine trophy of the fight, and Fafnir will be months regenerating. His eyes go red and he enters a berserk rage, sweeping his right hand, claws extended, across The Moment's midsection.
I feel like I'm in an earthquake as her whole body shudders. She looks down for a second and I see how bad the wound is. Fafnir moves in closer, a killing look on his face.
I have never known any invention that would not be improved by the addition of lasers, and my eye-cameras are no exception. Single shot, for emergencies, I fire them straight into the monster's eyes. They're so tiny that all they do is cause an instant's flinch, but that's as much time as The Moment needs to launch herself to the skies. Fafnir tries to follow, but he needs to breathe, so cannot follow her far.
The Moment floats through space, unconscious. Her wounds are mostly healed, but the process has drained her reserves of Nega-Energy to nearly nothing. I've plotted our course, though, and, amazingly enough, it will take us not just to the moon but to the very doorstep of my own lunar hideout. Could it be that she has been aware of me all this time? I will have to ask, once I am restored to normal size. In my laboratory, that task should be trivial.
We strike the lunar surface at full speed. The impact causes fresh wounds and reopens old ones. The Moment's Nega-Energy works mightily fixing them, completely exhausting itself, every new erg generated going to protect her from the vacuum's ravages. Her heart stops.
I should hurry to my labs, restore myself before the Nega-energy in my battle-suit and my cells runs out. But instead I find myself moving the other way, into her body, through the strangely still arteries, straight to her motionless heart. I release the Nega-energy in my suit. It starts to quiver, to fibrillate, but refuses to beat.
I send a command to the computers in my lab, ordering them to open all of my files to The Moment should she enter, starting with these logs. With my decades of carefully hoarded tech and her powers and brilliant strategic mind, she will be unstoppable. If this works. I'm not sure how I even know how to do it, but I relax something and the Nega-Energy flows out of my body. I feel my atoms melt away. It's surprisingly painless. Her heart beats, then beats again. There is barely enough of me left for one final thought:
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 00:48|
Looking for Paradise
Austria: ZOË - "Loin d'ici"
The pilgrims had camped on either side of the sacred meadow, as per tradition. The priest made sure of the locations before going on about how the field was the goddess’s temple, ‘the oaks and sycamores form the buttresses of this holy structure, the sky above us the ceiling of her cathedral!’
The lieutenant had thought all of it was horseshit, but she stayed silent. She was a professional, and now wasn’t the time to break ranks. The pilgrims had made it this far, and she owed it to them to at least respect the trial they’d come so far for.
They had been on the road for a long time heading to this place, the extent of the drought only made clearer by every mile. They’d spent months on dusty roads, often skirting around the dessicated corpses of animals, or occasionally, of people. The wildfires that scarred the land lead to detours and even more time on the road. Not all the pilgrims had made it.
The meadow seemed a mirage when they first arrived. The air was cool and the sun gentle. The flowers took them all by surprise. The pilgrims had run through the field, trampling the hyacinths, wood violets and buttercups. Several found their robes caught in flowering brambles or hung on the thorns of wild roses. Butterflies and honeybees were so numerous it was almost impossible to tell plant from insect. They laughed and fell among the flowers, and it was little wonder. None of them had seen so much life before.
“They said we’d find paradise here.” The lieutenant’s lover had said. Neither of them had run into the field as the others had, staying instead under the shade of the oaks at the meadow’s border.
“They did.” The lieutenant replied before she set to making camp. The sun wouldn’t be up for much longer.
The goddess was angry, the priest had reminded them more than once on the way to the meadow. Her people had grown complacent in the bounty she’d bestowed on them and abandoned the sacred rites and rituals of thanks for far too long. It was justice that plague and drought and fire had scoured the land. ‘This pilgrimage is a desperate measure, yes,’ he would say and the pilgrims would nod sullenly, ‘but aren’t the sins of the people so great that it is necessary?’
The lieutenant’s lover was one of the pilgrims. She’d been selected by lottery as her town’s representative. More than once she’d attempted to flee into the scrubland and each time the lieutenant had retrieved her. They’d come together slowly over the course of weeks, and her now-lover had stopped running away.
The few days before the ceremony went quickly. The lieutenant had been busy watching the pilgrims for signs of desertion and refused to abandon her post, no matter how many times her lover begged for them to slip into the trees together, if only for a few precious moments.
Just before dawn on the day of the ceremony the priest returned from the other pilgrim camp. His attendants — pilgrims themselves — had mostly prepared the group for the day’s events. Everyone wore loose light robes, flowers picked from the fields wound in their hair and brier thorns braided around their arms.
The lieutenant was almost finished handing them the daggers they would need and walked to her lover last. “Stay close to me,” she whispered and handed the woman a weapon before taking her place behind the group.
The priest commanded them them to go toward the center of the meadow where the other group was already walking, attended by their own soldier. The wind had picked up from a gentle breeze to something more frantic and it only grew wilder as they reached the middle of the field. By the time each group stopped, forming lines only fifteen feet apart, flower petals were being torn from stems and tossed through the air.
“We make this sacrifice,” the priest bellowed into the wind, voice cracking with the effort, “in the unspeakable name of the goddess who brings us death that she might give us life once more.”
He went on for a few more minutes of liturgy that the lieutenant ignored. She was watching the other soldier. He was imposing, armored in full plate which seemed entirely foolish to her. It was far to bulky to go running after pilgrims in, and yet he’d either worn or carried it with him the entire way here. She brushed a flower petal from her face to hide a smile.
No one had run by the time the priest had finished the last prayer. He stepped back from the two lines of pilgrims and rang a small bell, and chaos broke loose.
The two lines lunged at each other clumsily, a few pilgrims tripped over the dry bones of the last sacrifices, joining them on the ground and soon after in death. The screaming started before the first dagger was buried into a fallen woman’s chest.
One young man had held back from the initial charge and she saw the fear in his eyes. Good. He dropped his dagger and took off for the forest, the soldier was soon after him but hindered by his armor he stood almost no chance of catching the boy.
The lieutenant ran toward the priest, her lover breaking off from the melee to follow beside her. The man started to scream, something about the sacred power of blood, but stopped when the lieutenant’s sword found its way to his heart.
Almost as soon as it had started the violence ended and the wind stopped.The pilgrims all lay dead or dying, the blood splattered flowers around them shuddering despite the still air.
Over sobs of pain, the lieutenant and her lover heard a scream from the edge of the meadow. A moment later the armored man reappeared, walking calmly towards them. The closer he came the hotter the sun blazed from the horizon. Neither of them moved.
“Hubris,” a voice came, at first she thought from under the man’s helmet, but, no. The voice came from everywhere. “Was hubris not your greatest sin? Did hubris not lead you to these bloody tributes?”
The lieutenant leveled her sword at the man — or whatever it was that was in the armor. Her lover stayed close, placing a hand on her shoulder.
The thing laughed and the armor started to split and peel apart like burning paper. For the briefest moment, she saw a woman there in a flash of smoke and blinding light. The stars themselves crowned her head and her body was white fire. And then she was gone, only a pile of ash where the armor had been.
“Go on, then.” The voice continued,from everywhere and nowhere, “see how long you live without my help.”
“We will,” the lieutenant’s lover said, soft yet resolute, "we will."
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 00:55|
a new study bible! fucked around with this message at 04:49 on Jan 1, 2017
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 00:57|
The Dance, the Dress, their Dream, and the Sun (678 words)
Iliona's leg had never cramped, not in sixty years, but lately her knee creaked and popped like a bonfire with each press of the pedal and turn of the loom. She had been working since dawn. Today's craggy brown orb in the grey sky hit the cross in the home's only windowpane and Beata nudged slowly through the front door. She couldn't disturb Iliona. The competition was in two days and her mother needed concentration. They'd been talking less and less as it approached and had reached an easy silence. The loom sat silent for a moment, the woven garment hidden in a beaten tartan.
Beata was mousy, made even tinier by her bulky cloak. She passed wordlessly into her father's office, hanging her jacket as she went. Her father had been gone a long time, but he'd left them this home, a few bundles of long-gone money, and a mirror. A real one, reflecting glass. A relic. Beata had passed into the office without seeing what her mother was making. Iliona asked her daughter for this, early on, and Beata had obliged. It kept the loom regular.
Iliona, as she wove, saw Beata flip and tumble in her memories, spinning among the weeds with innate grace as she grew into a woman. These images transposed themselves from Iliona's vision onto her weave. One night, in from the haul, Iliona dragged a long, thin, wooden beam into the office. She'd nailed it horizontally to the wall. The next day, Beata began to practice from a book Iliona had pulled from the trash years ago.
In the office, Beata was transformed. She'd drawn her hair into a tight bun and now balanced flawlessly on one toe. her legs in parallel with the wall. She gazed into the mirror, constantly checking her own poise. Beata's muscles were hewn from steel with the delicacy of soapstone. As the sun set, she changed back into her cloak and moved, ordinary again, to a small burner and stirred the soup.
Iliona had set the table. Two bowls, two spoons, one ladle, mismatched and all worn. They were still silent, but even with the anxiety of the room, that was usual. Iliona's grandmother had a yellow sun, warm and easy, rise every day. When it was gone, the family had stopped praying before meals. It was hard to pray for pure sunrise when everyone expected a last sunset.
After dinner, Iliona slept at her loom while Beata cleaned. The girl laid a second greatshawl on the floor, curled, and slept.
The next day's weak grey sun hit the cross in the windowpane and Iliona smiled. She'd left the tartan hanging from a hook in the wall. She rose from the loom just as Beata entered and saw her mother's handiwork. Iliona's daughter's breath caught and the dam burst.
Eyes brimming, Beata stared at the competition dress and struggled to recover the words she'd lost in their months of near-pure labor. Its threads were the last of the real sun, woven to her form. A million sequins glinted and flared even though the light was beaten and weak. Its feathers were broad and exotic, tribal and strong. And the tiara, the peak, was crafted with such delicacy that only Iliona's face could tear Beata's gaze from it.
Yet, she couldn't articulate this flood of impressions. By this time, Iliona had risen from the loom and now stood close to her daughter. As Beata stammered, Iliona croaked in a voice limp from disuse:
"When I heard the floorboards creak, I pressed the loom. You never stopped dancing, Beata, and I never stopped weaving."
Beata could only string five words:
"It was all for us, Mother"
Though the dress was a beacon on the loom, Beata's vision was blacked into her mother's shoulder as they held each other close, temporarily wordless again. That night before dinner, for the first time in generations, they knew that with their hope, their love, and faith, the sun would rise. Mother and daughter held hands, looked to the sky, and prayed.
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 02:18|
Atlanta, 1959 - 992 Words
I rounded the corner on Maple & Currant and all of a sudden Billie fuckin Warsaw. I almost went over the front my handlebars I had to stop so fast what with her sittin in the middle of the goddamn road, grinnin and lookin like the smug rear end prick she was.
I was on my way to meet up with Terry at the pitcher show so I didn’t have time to deal with no Billie. But bein the Christian I was I knew I should give it a chance to reason with her slow rear end before I made a show of force with it. “Get out of the way, you knucklehead, or you’re gon lose a tooth,” I spat, very matter of fact.
Billie was’n movin. She leaned on the front of her own bike like she owned the goddamned road. “Where you gwan ‘n all of a hurry Charelene?”
“Ain’t none of your gee dee business, Billie.” I shifted my weight on the seat, impatient and annoyed. “Let me by and go home or to hell now.”
Billie got off her bike an’ started walkin’ towards me. My fight or flight kicked in real good but I stood where I was like Custer on the hill. I wasn’t gonna let no Billie fuckin Warsaw see me shakin in my boots.
“If’n you wanna pass through me, you gots ta answer these questions three.” She did a wiggle of her rear end and bowed her head deep at me. She had a funky rear end crew cut and the top of her hair was cut funny. It made her look like she was baldin’, like some kind of little old man, if little old men were stinky and dirty and couldn’ do their times tables no good.
I raised an eyebrow. “What you talkin’ bout, Billie?”
She looked up at me with another poo poo eatin grin. “They’s riddles. Like in the Hoo-bit.”
“Eff your Hoo-bit and let me by right now,” I said, twirlin’ my bike pedal impatiently.
She ignored me and smoothed her greasy hair back, then pulled a ball of paper from her pocket. “Riddle the first: ‘Word ain’t key to me. I can’t think that eazly. If you keep that energy, Gipsy sounds like a symphony.’” She crumpled the paper up and grinned. “What am I?”
I scowled. “Is that even English, Warsaw?”
“It’s a riddle, dumbass, you gotta figure it out.” She hopped from one foot to the other like some kind of fat angel baby who had popped her first fuckin arrow in an rear end somewhere. “What am I? What am I? What am I?”
“Shut up and let me think.” I tried to turn the words round in my head but they all jumbled up. “Read it again.”
She unrolled her ball, slowly and proudly. “’Word ain’t key to me. I can’t think that eazly—‘”
“Yeah, that much I got.”
She continued. “’If you keep that energy, Gipsy sounds like a symphony.’”
I scrunched up my face again in frustration. “Where’n the hell did you get this crap anyway?”
She puffed up her chest. “Wrote it m’self.”
“Oh, well why didn’t you say so in the first place? You’re an idiot, that’s what you are.” I laughed, an she glared back at me. “What, ain’t that the right answer?”
She spat in front of me. “Piss off, Charlene Abbot. You have to make a real guess.”
I spat back in front of her. “Piss off right back, Billie Warsaw. You ain’t queen of this here road. It’s a free effin country. Now you let me by.”
She crossed her arms and stood like the fattest statue ever made. “Answer the effin riddle. I worked hard on it.”
“Oh, did you? Worked all night on it, huh, just to get out here and piss me off? Fat Billie Warsaw slaves all night on what she thinks is a gee dee masterpiece piece for the ages.” I laughed at her face. “How long’d it take you Billie, huh? Three hours? Four?”
She hesitated. “That’s not—“
“FIVE?” I laughed and laughed and laughed. Billie just stood there. “Sweet bleedin Jesus, five fuckin hours it takes you to write four tiny rear end lines and they ain’t even in English! Some fuckin poet you are.”
She scowled at me. “You shut up, Charlene.”
“Get the gently caress out of my way, Billie, you’re making me late to my date, ok?”
Her face fell. “…you got a date?”
“Yeah, I got a fuckin date an you keepin me here with your stupid rear end limerick.” I was really on a roll now, Billie fuckin Warsaw had really gotten me goin. “You know what a date is, Billie?” I put on airs and put my pinkies out. “It’s what civilized fuckin people do with folks they think is pretty. You ever been on a date, Billie?”
Billie was starin at the road. “No.”
“Maybe take a bath and skip the gee dee donut in the mornin and someone’ll take pity on your ugly rear end.” I spat at her one last time. “Now get out of my fuckin way. I ain’t gonna ask again.”
Billie was real quiet. She stood there lookin at the street for a good minute not sayin nothin. I thought maybe she was workin up if she was gonna deck me or not but all of a sudden she jumped on her bike and rode away like a bat outta hell. I called after her, all sorts of things I won’t repeat here. Then I rode rode as fast as I could to the pitchers and made it by the five fifteen showin. Terry didn’t show, that fucker, but the pitcher was good so I din’t care too much.
I was twelve then an I din’t know much bout love, but I knew lots bout loss in the comin week cause they pulled Billie fuckin Warsaw from the river two days next.
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 03:14|
Medusa or the Lotus Eaters
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 15:12 on Jan 2, 2017
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 03:28|
They came for the children.
There’s more to it than that – there always is. In the end, the end is all that matters: they came for the children. Two fae: two by two, in blood-red coats, with their hair styled into cruel golden horns. The old stories were wrong - horseshoes and milk outside the door did nothing. The old stories were wrong - they didn’t want our children for themselves.
When a cuckoo places its eggs in another bird’s nest, it doesn’t steal the eggs away to raise them as its own. That seems obvious, so why did we think different of the fae? They are beautiful and walk on two legs, but they are animals just like us. They don’t need youth or laughter: they need a warm nest for their brood, so they can flit off and hunt and gently caress and do whatever else they do in the deepest autumn night. They’re parasites, but they are so beautiful.
They took Willem, the baker’s little boy, and smashed his skull against the stony ground. His brain left a grey-and-grey streak painted across the dirt, with fragile eggshell-shapes of skull scattered throughout the grisly trail. Willem's father fought, and then Willem's father wasn’t. They didn’t kill him - they only kill for fun. They unmade him. All they left was a cowled shadow in the shape of a man - one of dozens that followed them in a spectral procession. It made no sound, but we knew was screaming.
They left as swift as they’d come - all shadows in red and gold as the forest swallowed them whole.
And in each crib, they left a single golden-haired child, with blood-red eyes. Willem’s mother screamed at us to destroy them, but we couldn’t: they were so very fragile, and beautiful. The fae fathers knew this, of course --
they came for the children.
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 04:17|
Ridley woke up after midnight to the smell of pond scum and blood. The garbage bag duct-taped over the back-room window kept the moonlight out, but he could still see perfectly.
The odor of fresh blood clouded his thoughts. His mind was a field mouse, picked up and batted about by cat paws made of touch and smell and taste. He dug his unkempt fingernails into the mattress. Where was it? Where was it coming from?
The pile of blankets in the far corner shifted, and Ridley stood up, eyes locked in defense.
This was his place. No one else’s. His.
Ridley crouched low, his pale, stubby legs poking out from the bottom of his boxer shorts. He reached over and lifted a blanket from the pile—
—and staggered back, the odor furrowing into his nostrils now, the odor of corn alcohol and verdigris and—
—cherry lemonade, the kind they sold at the A&P down near Lake Lanier, back when him and Daddy and Jossy would drag the cooler down to the lakeshore and Jossy would sit next to him while he hid under the picnic blanket and feed him Slim Jims, he had to hide so that it wasn’t like the one time when those other kids came, called him names AND threw sticks and stones at him, it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair that they smelled and tasted even better—
Blood ran down the lady’s face as she slept, eyes shrouded in purple bruises. He reached forward again, towards her face, towards the dripping blood. He bit down on his lower lip hard, grabbed her arm instead. A sick feeling settled in his stomach as he looked at the bracelet around her wrist.
The knocking at the front door made him snap his head back up.
Less cat paws this time—more gargoyle talons.
Ridley clenched his teeth, made a low rumbling growl. The hair at the base of his neck prickled.
He couldn’t move. He wouldn’t. Had to hide. Had to.
Joslyn was sitting at the dinnertable scrubbing the bits of leftover venison off of Rid’s plate when she heard the pounding at the cabin’s front door.
Before she could move, it swung open, and a tall woman slid in under the doorframe, wavy red hair flowing down over her blouse. A broad-shouldered man stomped in after her. “Hello,” the woman sang, staring off into space.
Joslyn rocketed up from her chair. “What the hell—who are you and whose house do you think this is?” she said.
The woman turned toward Joslyn and gave her a grand smile, her mouth full of white teeth. She was in her thirties, twenty years Joslyn’s junior and as wiry as Joslyn was stout. “You must be the landlady,” she said. “We’re looking for a guest.”
“No, you’re looking for a kick in the rear end, is what you’re looking for,” said Joslyn, fire in her eyes. “You think you can just waltz on up into a stranger’s home?”
The woman looked away from Joslyn as if she hadn’t heard. “Morris, you check to see if there’s a basement or an attic. I’ll check all the closets.” She inhaled deep through her nose, like she could smell dinner on the stove. “I know that bitch is in here. I can smell—“
She stopped, whipped her head back towards Joslyn at the click of the rifle hammer.
It hadn’t moved from its place under the mantelpiece in a while, it had dust on the top and soot on the bottom, but she kept it oiled and loaded like her Daddy’d showed her.
Both of them transformed at once, in a snap of sinew and sloughing skin, fangs flashing in the firelight. She took two quick steps back, her hands trembling.
“Leave her alone,” said Joslyn. “She ain’t no harm to you. She’s only a child.”
“She crossed me,” said Redhead, now a red-pelted wolf, creeping forward towards Joslyn with Morris at her side. “You don’t disrespect me and live. I’m sure even someone of your intelligence understands that logic.”
“Back up,” said Joslyn, right hand gripping the stock of the rifle tight. “Back up or I unload this silver right into you. Understand that.”
“You can’t afford silver, you piece of backwoods trash,” said Morris in a jagged voice.
“Just rich enough for your blood, you dog,” she spat.
He sprang forward, teeth bared.
The impact sent her sprawling back against the mantel. Morris flew back in the opposite direction, blood pouring out of the wound in his sternum.
Joslyn swung the rifle barrel back to the redhead, but she was already upon her. Suddenly Joslyn had her back to the floor, staring up into the wolf’s drooling maw, her claws digging into her chest.
A sharp howl split the air.
The redhead looked up as Ridley lunged forward and crammed his fist between her jaws. The wolf’s face lit up in surprise—and then pain, as flames curled up around her snout, singing her fur, melting her eyes. He held his fist in place until the redhead stopped moving, half her head gone. Ridley drew his fist back, skin bubbling on his knuckles. A tangle of burnt silver dropped from his hand to the floor.
Joslyn looked up and saw the girl standing in the doorway of Ridley’s room, watching in disbelief.
“He took my charm bracelet,” said the girl, grabbing her bare wrist.
Joslyn laughed, a dry cackle. “That means he likes you.” She kicked at the redhead’s body. “Now, are you gonna keep standing there? We got a job to finish.”
“Do you have to do all that?” said the girl, her dress fluttering against her knees.
Joslyn was threading the severed wolf heads together with fishing line, a silver charm dangling above each of their tongues. The minnows and crawfish were already picking apart their bodies.
“Rid finds things, I make sure things stay lost.” She shrugged. “Like my Daddy. They can keep him company.” It was a half-lie. Her Daddy had sent himself down to the bottom the lake, tied himself to a tree trunk and left her to look after Ridley. But it was safer for the girl to stay scared, rather than curious.
“Thanks for—taking me in,” the girl said. “They—“ She stopped, looked towards the woods.
At the edge of the treeline, where Joslyn’s baby brother had been standing before, a wolf sat licking its paws, the early sunlight glowing over its bristly back, its fur patched and faded like the bark of the sycamore trees.
Joslyn stepped forward and said: “If I was you, I’d do myself a favor and get lost on my own. Without any help. Bus station’s thataway.”
“The sun—it does that to him?” said the girl.
“Yep.” Joslyn chuckled. “He’s always been a peculiar one.”
Ridley limped toward Joslyn’s side, his front-right paw dragging, eyes bright and hard. They watched the girl leave until the last scrap of her yellow dress was swallowed up by green.
“You miss her already, you sap,” said Joslyn.
“No,” said Ridley, brushing up against Joslyn’s side.
Joslyn snorted. “Liar.”
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 04:26|
Thirty minutes left! Don't let France, Turkey, Macedonia, Moldova, Australia, or Spain down!
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 04:39|
Silence (1129 words)
You can find the story here.
Melusine fucked around with this message at 07:37 on May 3, 2016
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 04:59|
Submissions for Week CXCIV: Only Mr. God Knows Why are now CLOSED!
Did somebody spike the refreshments in the Green Room? flerp, newtestleper, sparksbloom, Djeser, and FouRPlaY have brought shame upon the countries they represent by failing to show up on stage, with or without clothing, with or without wolves. I would call on Moldova's stripper cops to bring these perps in, but I have some doubts about their efficacy in the task.
Those braver souls who joined in our celebration of song and spectacle have our thanks! Watch for your scores some time between Monday night and Tuesday evening.
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 05:24|
Intermission interprompt: Do Falsetto Dubstep Dracula justice in 300 words or fewer.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 05:37 on Apr 25, 2016
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 05:30|
im gonna redeem myself by saturday april 30st midnight pst
flerp fucked around with this message at 05:52 on Apr 25, 2016
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 05:44|
im gonna redeem myself by saturday april 31st midnight pst
yes, post your story on a day that doesn't exist pls
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 05:50|
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 05:51|
yes, post your story on a day that doesn't exist pls
This was a good Columbo
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 14:17|
Week 193 crits
So, my plan was to write down my reactions on a first read, then go back and critique the parts I didn't get to. Luckily, you guys kept your stories interesting enough that I read almost all of them all the way through (with the exception of Thranguy, but he had a cool story buried under an ill-advised intro so I felt a bit bad about that, even). That means my initial reactions ended up being more like critiques. I went back and added retrospective notes as needed, but my first impressions make up the bulk of these critiques. So, if you read these in my judgedoc while I was live critting, there may not be a whole lot more. But I tried to add some comments to stories I felt needed them.
So the mayor is kind of dumb because he’s...a lion? This has a simplistic sort of charm to it so far, but it’s going to have to do something kind of profound if it wants to be more than a cute story with a lion mayor.
“Some of my best friends are dragons” is like a huge wink at the audience: Hey, hey guys, guess what, it’s like the real world only there are animal people and dragons in addition to humans and airplanes! I’m oddly still interested, but I’m not sure if it’s in a good way at this point. It’s more of a harumphy, scoffing sort of interest. I want to see if this running joke goes somewhere less obvious.
Okay, I’m kind of mad I read this whole thing. I’m not going to scold you too hard on magical realism, because I’m no expert, but this is just local politics except with animals instead of people. The ending is limp because Farmer Stu just gets eaten with no ceremony. And this dragon and lion are just like, lol we sure are animal people. Shoot.
Retrospective notes: OOOoooh it’s a Chairchucker story. Usually I pick up on that even in judgemode, but something about this came too close to sounding like a sincere but green attempt at storytelling. Which is weird cause I usually love your stories and their fun takes on the prompts.
There’s so much I want to crit about this right off the bat.
“It's open.” Crane finally called. He almost smiled when the man jumped.
Get rid of “finally” and “almost”, geeze. I can already see how this sort of wordiness is gonna be a problem.
I also have a feeling that this week is brought to us by Pixar. How many hard luck dragons just trying to get by am I going to see, I wonder?
...Okay and just before you lost me, you kinda snagged me back with the revelation that the missing dame is a star. Right. You have my attention again, don’t gently caress this up.
Whelp, I finished it. It was kinda sweet? I know I told you guys there had to be a dragon, but having the PI incidentally be a dragon wasn’t the best way I could think of complying to that requirement, especially for this piece. The writing got more solid as the story went on, like you found your stride.
Retrospective notes: My cojudges pointed out that any sweetness or originality in this piece is sort of offset by the fact that all this guy’s problems are resolved in a conversation. That’s forgivable when you only have 1000 words, but you have infinity words. You could’ve taken the reader into your world. And the PI dragon seemed pointless. Nothing too exciting happened with that.
I sort of get the style thing you’re going for here. This elaborate run-on sentence that sets up this wedding scene, only to punctuate it by having a dragon crash the ceremony. But the language and details aren’t pulling it off all the way. I’m going to give you one more paragraph to grab me.
Class please take out your #2 flames.
Sorry, I feel like there is a clever writer behind this story, but I just don’t want to keep reading it right now. I’ll come back to this crit.
Retrospective notes:...okay. I actually read the whole story, and loved what it was trying to do. It was super ambitious, and I feel like you could’ve used even MORE words to flesh out some of the fantastical characters and events. Like, you went big, may as well have gone all the way big. I’ve read stories like this elsewhere--pocket sized fantasy epics--and I generally like the style. I just really wish the beginning hadn’t been so hard to get through, because I ended up enjoying a lot of stuff about this story. I didn’t like the numbered flame attacks, though. It hurt the tone of the story IMO.
Miss Maron’s 3rd Grade Class
Right off the bat, that whole first paragraph makes me smile. This is auspicious.
I forgot to write commentary cause I’m fairly engrossed. Something is clearly not right in this 3rd grade class.
There are a few dips and wobbles where you add a little too much exposition, but FYI I haven’t stopped yet. There’s something grotesque and endearing about this.
Hmmm. You really took advantage of the lack of word count right up until the ending. I feel like, given limitless words, you needed to have a more conclusive ending.
This was easy to read all the way through, though, so good job.
Retrospective notes: I don’t know how I feel about the main villain being sort of revealed at the end, then setting the characters up for further adventures. In a vacuum, it’s not bad writing, but as a flash story, I don’t have quite enough info to project what will happen to them. This was a fun story, though, and the gradual reveal that these “3rd graders” are actually adults with suppressed maturity was really cool.
The Boy who Couldn’t do Anything Right
Wait, so at the beginning his mom is trying to suppress a smile at his failure. Then she’s inconsolable because they’re about to give him to a dragon? Some wobbly characterization right off the bat. I am sort of holding onto a wisp of faint interest at this point.
IDK if “mustered” means what you think it means. Or what I think it means? Some odd language here and there, though the descriptions often border on pleasant.
Really hoping this dragon isn’t about to teach this kid some heartwarming lesson about belonging.
Wait, is he as tall as three houses, or ten men? Are those things the same height???
Getting precariously close to some sort of heartwarming something aaahhh
Okay, I kind of like the way Fenten’s odd “curse” works, but the whole dragon thing was so predictable I mainly finished the story to see how right I was.
Retrospective notes: This was almost up for an HM. I think what we shied away from was...the ending was sweet, but easy to see coming. I think, given the lack of word constraints, you could’ve taken the time to come up with a more nuanced message?
The first couple sentences are phrased really weird. Like, I want to stop and rewrite them. But okay. 11:11 wishes come true, neat.
I have a guess: only fantastical, innocent wishes come true, but not selfish ones that undermine people’s will. Heads up, I will probably stop reading if it goes too much that way. (retrospective note: good job on not doing that, but wtf that ending)
I think you mixed up Morgan and Alexis.
I mean, I relate to this girl, but I want her to do a little more than wish and resent.
I...oh. Oooh. Huh. Whelp,
So wait, was Oliver trying to kill himself? Was the plan for the dragon to kill Morgan so she’d stop clogging up 11:11 with her selfish obsessive wishes? The ending just took this confusing, morbid turn and idk if I like it.
You, Me, and the Body
Total personal pet peeve but: I just hate flash fiction names. For some reason, Frank/Tom/Bill/Tony etc are all names that make me feel less connected to the character. That’s not your fault, or even a valid crit, but it IS coloring my reading of this story, so sorry.
I feel like this is a lot of “Frank is dead and his ghost is talking to...some crime guy.” I get it.
Skimming now to see if they do anything interesting at the hospital.
Nnnnnope, Frank is basically boned and now him and our nameless protagonist are going to go off and have hilarious ghostly crime hijinks together. Heads up, I mainly finished this because it was so short.
Retrospective notes: This is one of those stories that's hard to crit because I want it to do something fundamentally different than it did. Have the protagonist drop Frank off at the hospital way sooner, then realize that doesn't free him from Frank's ghost. THEN go on to show what wacky hijinks they get up to. As is, the whole story is basically an argument, and anything interesting about this scenario is mostly left to the imagination. There's one major reveal in the dialog: that Frank's own uncle put the narrator up to murdering him. Cool. This story just needed a broader scope. Like, Frank's kid? It would've been a lot more emotionally effective if Frank had actually seen his kid after he died, when he couldn't interact with his family anymore. Stuff like that.
Monday Night Meltdown
Okay, I kind of like the conceit of monsters taking over MMA or wrestling or whatever this is. But holy butts I am skimming now, looking for something that isn’t basically narration of a WWE match but LOOK MONSTERS.
Please tell me there’s something else.
...Do labyrinth stone men have taints???
Okay I skimmed to the end and the minotaur won. Cool, i was so heavily invested in that.
You can’t just write straight up action with a million characters unless you’re also doing something clever with it. Maybe you were, but that wasn’t apparent on my first read. It mainly read like a lot of monsters hitting each other, only it’s in words and not a JJ Abrams movie.
Retrospective notes: This crit sucks because I don’t really have a lot to say other than “don’t write a flash fiction story that’s only action and narration of that action.” I mean, you can if you want, but if you read published short fiction, you won’t find a lot of pure action unless there’s another dimension to it.
This is a Story About Anxiety
Oh cool, my kind of story!
I’m into the concept so far. I kind of want at least some sort of “visual” impression of this world between the cracks, but he(she?) doesn’t want to look at it. Still, it’s hard having absolutely no sense of the surroundings, until the staircase is mentioned, at least. But that comes out of nowhere. Not fatal issues, but it’s that stuff that makes my eyes skim, looking for some concrete description to ground myself in. Overall I’m digging this, though.
Oh ok, there we go. Alternate universe metro station. Cool.
IDK, post apocalyptic Earth isn’t quite the mind-shattering horror I’d sort of started expecting, but ok. Walking through a dead future would be pretty scary. You just took a lot of words to fess up to it, so the revelation didn’t seem as profound.
Kind of dig the parallel between like...fear of this dead future and anxiety. The line about when you KNOW something without any evidence. It’s kind of like how panic can make you absolutely sure you’re about to die, even if you have someone telling you you’re ok. But oh man something cool better happen soon or I’m gonna get bored.
This was neat, and I finished it, but it really didn’t leave me with anything more than the question I started with: what is this timeless world between the cracks? There was something really remote about the action, even when this whole city is crumbling around her.
Arms Bent Back Until They Break
These tense shifts in the first paragraph are...intense. Ewww.
“His black hair is a swirl of unkempt hair” wow these metaphors, wow.
I’m basically meleeing my way through a mess of awkward prose right now, but these twisty people are oddly compelling. This is running on sheer strangeness.
Okay seriously, whoever wrote this just straight up didn’t edit, or something. I’m still going, but :|
Okay. I actually liked this living expression of grief. This felt the most like “magical realism” as I understand it, and the way you included the dragon was pretty elegant. But holy poo poo dude, edit!!!!
Waiting for the Lightning
GP if this is you, so help me
Writing is good. Magical elements are realistic and not overstated. I would read 1000 more words of this writing, but it’s not there! It’s a cool little vignette, but it’s not dynamic enough to have any staying power in my mind. It’s the kind of thing where, if I were reading a lit mag instead of judging a lot of fiction, I’d go, huh, neat.
Retrospective note: AAAAHHHhaaahaha you motherfucker <3 This is the kind of story that I might put on my shelf like a Faberge egg, or something. This writing style works well for you in the publishing world, so I'm not going to knock it. But it would've been cool, in a week with no limits, to spend a lot more time with your narrative voice.
I Didn’t Start the Fire
this is giving me kind of a cool retro future vibe.
I’m kind of faintly half-smiling at the absurdity of this.
ITS ITS ITS ITS ITS
Hahaha so are these people chemical gremlins? I am genuinely enjoying this btw
OH MY GOD
Ahahahahahahahaa gently caress you
Retrospective note: gently caress you
Okay, this is barely over 300 words. You better do something in-loving-credible.
Neat. A sip of magical puddle water lets the protagonist see across time, from the perspective of a baptism, a swimming pool, and a cup of tea.
I like what this story does, but I’m left with a little bit of like...Hm. Not sure how to put it. I think there’s actually quite a lot going on here, little keyhole views into this person’s future, little hints about the life they’ll have.
I think it needs an edit for some wording? No grammatical stuff, really, just some editing and tidying. Something this short has to be extra sharp. I’m actually surprised at how much thinking i’m doing about it, but I am not sure if it’s strong enough to be an HM contender or anything.
Harper and the Rails
Well aint this a rosy cheeked little adventure, so far. We’ve got our strong willed runaway bride to be and our two loveable misfits with questionable pasts.
You better do something cool quick, though, cause after that cutesy little opener, I’m wanting something that will subvert the happy go lucky whimsical adventure vibes I’m getting.
...Okay cool. This was a nice rounded little adventure. It’s kind of lacking that, you know, hard-to-define something that makes it magical realism. It’s more a semi-modern fantasy with a couple of mythy characters thrown in. I didn’t really like that the small shrewd guy ended up evil and the big, seemingly dumb guy ended up being good-hearted. There was nothing really surprising there. But Keane's development was rewarding, and George's demise was well-earned. Although he went from being dubious to straight up evil really fast. Attempting to rape Harper, threatening Keane with the electric chair...i guess that stuff is alluded to a little bit, given how he treats Keane. But it felt like a lot of villainy piled onto the end.
It was written well enough that I finished, no problem. Easy HM this week.
Retrospective notes: I'm kind of revising my opinion on the "magical realness" of it. You've got two possibly mythological creatures trying to get by like hobos, and at no point does the story ever break face and go "these sure are magical guys, huh?" You refer to them as "monsters", but that has more to do with deeds and appearance, even though it's kind of a nod to the fact that there's something not quite ordinary about the pare Harper meets on the train.
I’m not really sure why you buried the lead of dragons under kind of a routine, ho-hum “flash fiction character has a case of the Mondays” intro. I’m trusting you to make all that stuff seem important later. Is she a hooker or something? IDK, I guess I better keep reading to find out!!!
Okay, she’s a hooker who gives dragons out like STDs. Neat.
Right. This was bizarre and lovely. Another story that, in my opinion, really internalized the unofficial Thunderdome definition of magical realism as “the physics of emotion”. This might be my favorite use of dragons so far, too.
Retrospective notes: I was a little dubious about the onramp to this story, but after I thought about it more, I think it shows how you took pains to establish the realism, then smoothly introduce the dragons.
Okay, so this has kind of a steep learning curve. Right off the bat, there are a lot of names and implied relationships. The general alienness of the insectoid characters adds to the complexity too. But okay, our guy is looking for someone, and there are enough interesting-sounding characters on the horizon that I want to keep going.
I am still shaky on the nature of this world, but the ant noir is kinda cool.
Okay. I read all of this, and technically I understand all of the events that happened in the story. But what about the girl-ant that the protag was looking for? She was kind of the impetus for him trying to gain access to this weird sort of...back alley ascension, which was actually the ant giving himself to the godlike dragonfly to be consumed while flying toward the sun. Which is very cool. Is the implication she did the same thing, and he’s trying to follow her?
I think I would’ve liked to learn more about the queen, why the protag thinks she’s dying, etc. And the character the protag was looking for. I think I needed just like, one moment or paragraph that grounded me in the world a little bit. When you go all metaphorical and abstract, and your characters are very far removed from humans, I think it’s important to draw a really crisp, clear picture of what is “normal” for your characters.
...how do ants smoke cigarettes???
I do like the sense that this is sort of an ant vision quest. Pushing against the boundaries of your society, questioning the eternal hive-dream of your queen. Looking for one thing, finding a different thing in the form of a grizzly release from the mortal coil. I was almost waiting for an insect version of plato’s cave, or something.
Interesting. Also, a dragonfly as the “dragon” :3
Scales and Fire
“Harry Munt” might be the least pleasant name of the week. Like I’m pretty sure only something like “Olga Moist” would be worse. Anyway.
This is either Sebmojo or someone trying to do a mojo impression. ROUGH WEEK MATE HAVE A BEER INNIT SRY ‘BOUT THAT DRAGON CHEERS NO WORRIES
Okay, I think this is...is...about something. Trying to put it into words. It’s that feeling of vindicated rage you feel when you imagine telling someone you love what-for, “winning” the argument. It feels good and salient in your head, but in reality it makes a mess, and you can’t take it back. I feel like this guy got his infernal mess made for him, before he could go home and do any damage. I like this story because it works whether you want to take it literally, in which case it’s kind of a silly story, or deeply metaphorically, in which case it speaks to something true about anger and relationships.
Like Recipes for Love
I think these two characters are fairly likable off the bat, which is good because so far, most of this piece is them talking. It’s a little too much “do the sensible thing” “Nooooooooo I can’t”, but it’s charming enough so far.
Everyone ends up pretty and witty and gaaaaaay. This was sweet but, I mean, there was no question in my mind that these two girls were going to end up together. Nicely written, but it progresses in kind of a straight line to the end.
Serpent in the Nest
This opens with a sweet, intimate scene that introduces some intrigue. I’m feeling this so far.
Ok, I get it, something is amiss. Dawn is gone and people are asking the protag the same questions. I think this part would feel more natural if like...there were at least one line of dialog illustrating the sorts of questions his coworkers are asking? Or something? Kind of nitpicky, but it goes from very real and intimate to sort of glossing things over. But not in a succinct way, if that makes sense. Sometimes in flash fiction you have to summarize events for brevity, but in this case, you didn’t have a word limit, so you could’ve been a little more detailed here. I guess the conversation with the nameless older lady kind of does what I’m talking about, but that comes after all the glossing.
So the gist is, like, a guy notices he’s got egg-shaped life lines and then gets trapped in some weird horrifying metaphor and then...he’s just boned? The words and imagery is cool. I wanted there to be something a little more...something. Like, the fact that all his phone calls went to Comcast, his bank, the line for his student loans? I thought that was going to go somewhere more profound than it did.
I’m left with this feeling like, sucks to be that guy who got trapped inside a bleak metaphor. I think there was a really good mood here, but all the metaphorical/magical stuff needed to coalesce into something just a liiiiittle bit more meaningful? I think it’s there, it just needed to be teased out a little more. And that’s the trouble with this sort of thing; it’s hard to know what’s apparent to the reader, how they’re interpreting the imagery.
The Family Business
Um okay? There were a pair of snarky resurrectionists. THEN EVIL HAPPENED.
Retrospective notes: Okay, this lost, so I feel like I should write more. But it’s hard to say a whole lot about it. The beginning is two characters talking, and it’s part exposition, part blather, and that doesn’t make me like it one bit. We learn that these two sisters think they're better than suburbanite sheeple, and wouldn't be caught dead (lol) dying somewhere that wasn't epic or poetic. Ugh. The second part is them performing a resurrection, or something, but I have literally no clue what's going on with the dragon. Okay here's my best guess: they're trying to pull this dead guy back from the afterlife (Cataclysm?) without bringing the dragon with him. But then I guess they DO bring the dragon into the living world, and RIP, it's the end of days. There was nothing satisfying about this; even the other two vignettes this week were compelling in their own way. This reads like the truncated version of a scene from someone's novel, but it's not a novel I want to read.
The Dry Times
This was easy to get through because I was compelled by the mystery of the eggs. It felt cheapened by the dragon popping out at the end. I’m not sure how I wanted the mystery to resolve, but a couple lines of last-minute destruction were not what I was hoping for.
Retrospective notes: I'm still frustrated with this story. I LOVED the mystery. I hated how it resolved. By giving you guys as many words as you needed, I was hoping to avoid endings like this, where an interesting premise is shattered by a sloppy ending. I can think of about a billion other ways you could've resolved the egg thing, and even included a dragon, but you kind of negated any intrigue this story had with that ending. For shame, Fuschia. For shame.
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 18:18|
thanks for the crits sh
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 19:32|
Thanks for the crits!
|# ? Apr 25, 2016 21:21|
Thunderdome Week CXCIV Results: Only Mr. God Knows Why
But his phone today is out of range.
I cannot, therefore, ask Mr. God why three stories out of eleven ended in sudden character suicide while another forgot that endings were a thing. Only too many of this year's songs finished on a sour note, making it ironic that the show itself saved the best for last.
THE WINNER: Welcome to Thunderdome and the Thunderthrone, Daphnaie! Your story of robotic friendship in a time of crisis pleased all three judges and was thus the easy winner. Although it was more solid than outstanding, it delivered a clear, coherent narrative, the flaws in which were relatively minor.
THE LOSER is the other new arrival, Toxxupation, whose sketch of a daydreaming teen wouldn't have landed him in this spot if it'd had anything like a conclusion at all. We couldn't justify giving the fecal crown to anything else, no matter how we tried.
DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: Count your blessings, DurianGray. Resolving your story--sort of--saved you. Otherwise the incomprehensible motivations and actions of your nameless characters would surely have done you in. Thranguy, you used your song in a clever way, but the heavy technobabble made your plot a chore to follow. I didn't care about The Moment or her Nega-energy, so I couldn't connect with the protagonist's fascination.
Thank you for another year of musical mayhem, Thunderdome! Daphnaie, visit #thunderdome on IRC if you have any questions about how this judging thing works; the robe and gavel are now yours!
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 02:59|
Silence (1140 words)
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 03:02|
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 03:02|
spectres should prolly sleep more crit of Realism by Toxxicupation
ok so this looks like some sort of social study mixed w dreamy reveries. for i think this idea to work you need to be like, really vivid and also kind of technical in your description of social encounters. since these are like, p static situations the pace kind of slows way down as you read the descriptions, because nobody's really doing anything concrete or reactionary. basically anything that slows the prose down is prolly bad, so adverbs like "perkily" should prolly go.
the other thing is that generally by the time ppl start doing secondary school stuff social stuff gets a lot more complicated. cuz high school is the desperate struggle for acceptance thing and by secondary school people have diversified like way more socially. i mean im gay for analyzing it this far but university is more of a expanding rainbow prism where a nonzero percentage of people realize they can just get lost and get wasted and who cares about orientations. or they aggressively hit on ppl or maybe even theyre well rounded socially and have already picked both majors. my point is basically that by the time people hit these things sometimes they dont give af or w/e and your description of these chars kind of make them sound like only the introverts bothered to show up to the social function.
im prolly gonna split this crit into art/reverie stuff and social scene stuff and ill come back to the social scene stuff l8r.
ok so the most interesting stuff is prolly the art/reverie/daydream bits. you kind of lose it a bit with some awkward themery like i think theres some kind of parallel between her art and her personal development, like putting a shape to yr soul as you grow or some less bad way of describing that. unfortunately you talk about this in a quick two paragraphs that seem melded together in time. like in the space of a nanosecond she dropped her abstract stuff and went for concrete shapes. like pure expressions of creative thought and then bam shapes cut with concave and convex angles. im not sure which of those are which but i kno thats geometry action rite after "no form, man."
so by the next bit she seems to definitively be some kind of rly dope artist. the only problem is unless im reading this stuff wrong shes still like eight or whatever. so i dont care if shes a prodigy or whatever but its a rly harsh transition in artistic development.
social scene. omg a cool handsome dude is talking to her. this is cool but also suddenly the whole vibe has like shifted. its kind of weird to suddenly have all the social tension break esp since theoretically social tension equals reader tension, i mean why else am i reading.
"metaphorical crossroads of the adolescent" this is not poetic since it literally uses the word 'metaphorical.' dont do this it kind of sux.
but then you drop the Giorgi and Miriam thing. this is kind of trying to be the emotional core of the story unless im feeling things wrong. hes a slave to his somewhat depressing routine but hes propelled thru this life by his trusty horse. it could be a metaphor for a million things but my brain never rly has time to get going because its just one paragraph and ive been reading about mohawk girls and dudes w glasses and kind of awkward social stuff ive already experienced a million times.
"he grinned at the end of that line, to take the edge off the self deprecation." im not totally autistic, i sort of kno why ppl do things. also that sentence is long and kind of boring.
ok so the ending. i think its actually breaking my brain. is the twist that Georgia and Giorgi sound like each other. how can they possibly be related. if its not that then what is the significance of that nationality? do ppl from minnesota hate ppl from georgia? why? i feel like the answer is possibly that im missing something so ill let it slide and acknowledge i might be dumb.
but yeah i would work the prose way harder, make the art arc smoother, and try to deal less in awkward social cliches.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 03:42|
My samebrains brother spectres of autism wants to brawl and I am ready to bring my top-tier weird game and own him.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 04:16|
My samebrains brother spectres of autism wants to brawl and I am ready to bring my top-tier weird game and own him.
basically i will run this so some1 step up so i can toxx already
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 04:37|
Thunderdome Week CXCV: Inverse World
Me, Thranguy, and curlingiron.
Let's go deceptively simple with this week's prompt: Take the tone and/or theme of one of your previous Thunderdome entries and clearly invert it in.
For example, if the original story is a melancholic tale of a deteriorating friendship, maybe try for the cheerful mending or forming of one. If you use your very first Thunderdome piece you get 1200 words, otherwise you get 1000. For the love of god don't just rewrite the original story, and bonus points if you spin, uh, "straw" into gold this time around. If this is your first Thunderdome, let me know and I'll provide someone else's Thunderdome piece for you to use.
Make sure you include a link to the original story, plus say what tone/theme you're about to invert so that at least we don't have to puzzle that out.
No fanfiction, no nonfiction, no erotica, no poetry, no GoogleDocs, etc etc.
Sign-up deadline: Friday, April 29, 11:59pm USA CENTRAL
Submission deadline: Sunday, May 1, 11:59pm USA CENTRAL
Word count: 1200 if you use your very first Thunderdome piece, 1000 if you don't.
– Goodpancakes : Original
– Carl Killer Miller
– a friendly penguin : Original
– sparksbloom (TOXX)
– flerp (TOXX)
– Jonked : Original
– SurreptitiousMuffin : Original
– Ironic Twist : Original
– ThatGuyStoneSoup : Original
Melusine fucked around with this message at 01:39 on May 3, 2016
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 07:51|
I'll do one. First thunder dome. Send me a story
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 08:03|
My samebrains brother spectres of autism wants to brawl and I am ready to bring my top-tier weird game and own him.
a brawl where you two write good stories
just tell me a loving story about a character i give a poo poo about. that character is commonly inanimate, but it can move and do poo poo because fiction. your character wants something and does things to get that thing. etc. etc. write good, be crazy if you want to, but make me care.
spectres - i want you to focus on clarity. i dont want to go "huh?" too often in the story and be confused. dont play your cards too close to your hands, im a loving idiot. make me care and be clear as loving pool water.
djeser - idk i havent read any of your stuff lately so idk what i dont like about your stuff so dont gently caress up and dont write about an ai, write about a rock or something idk. no ai things or something thats p. much an ai but isnt technically an ai. oh yeah and dont write about a vending machine you alrdy did that
also toxx for me lads
Due Wednesday May 11th at midnight PST
flerp fucked around with this message at 06:15 on May 2, 2016
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 08:06|
time to go loving obtuse since you didn't say not to
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 08:58|
Sry, it's for my garbage loss story Dust Dust Dust All Night
Carl Killer Miller fucked around with this message at 21:42 on Apr 26, 2016
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 11:10|
Goddamnit. This is too good an opportunity to pass up. I'm in.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 11:21|
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 12:59|
Preface: I was pretty tired (read, 3 hours of sleep and after 7 hours of work) when I judged and these are a lot grumpier than I usually am for what wasn’t that awful of a week. I think all but the winning entry had some sort of pretty core problem. You got an idiot who can’t handle subtlety on his worst day. That said, many of these issues were brought up by the other judges so this preface is probably worthless. BTW these were mostly written during reading unless I breezed through your story so pretty much any comment is around a point where I got frustrated, bored, or snapped out of your story.
YOU MADE ME DO THIS
First part: Really not really getting any sort of spark with these characters even if there’s some clear motivation. They just sort of feel like disassociated lumps. Finally got interested after getting 1/3 in with the petting zoo hook.
Should have ended the convo at “That turkey is twerking”. That’s the joke. Adding commentary to the funny part is bad. Much like youtube celebrities. Turking was not the punchline.
Anyway this made me laugh and it was stupid. So so so incredibly stupid (and so Eurovision). I was pretty distant from it all, dialogue needs work, seemed like a bit too much telling and not showing going on at the beginning.
I like these words but so far they’re going nowhere and I’m pretty far in! Also, WTF is with that cutoff? “he main cafeteria” was that an interruption or was “he main cafeteria” a real phrase because that makes no sense in any context so I’m guessing it was a cutoff in which case just write the whole word I’m just assuming this is a typo tho. Okay further down again you do the ellipses interruption DON’T DO THAT USE A DASH. If you use the ellipses it feels like the sentence is fading in already so you don’t need to cut off the beginning of the word unless it’s a harsh cut anyway this made me angry because its stupid don’t do it. Anyway I liked the little blurbs but holy poo poo nothing happened and I don’t understand why she’s fading in and out and basically I hate everything about this besides the blurby nice things which were fun and cute to read. This is mostly nice writing devoid of much context or plot, though the character sort of works, barely. Just like, work on structure or something because you can clearly write a sentence (despite my one lengthy nitpick which wasn’t that influential on my decision to put this low). Again, the biggest sin here was a complete and utter lack of resolution or story to speak of, no real point A to point B.
The Final Logs of Doctor Omega
This person is a character with a motivation, not amazing but I’m surprised I worked through your technobabble coherently so good job there since I’m easily confused and angered. I don’t get why The Moment is a person and I hate this name for a person because I’m a goon. Why are the moment and Fafnir fighting? Because of the orb? Or is there another reason? IDK. This is weird. This guy is just watching stuff now and it’s kinda boring. “The monster”? Again, the nebulous nature of sci-fi is you have to overexplain everything just a little bit. Not a lot. Just enough. This is too foreign to understand imo. The ending uhhhhhh, I mean, okay, sure, but I thought the orb destroying thing was way less emotionally impactful and the protag didn’t feel upset about being tiny really? Was that the goal? I thought the motivation was fix being tiny I guess but that didn’t’ seem to be the case towards the end. Not really digging this and there wasn’t enough ham to grab me. I expected this to work in a totally different direction from the otherwise decent opening. A shame.
Looking for Paradise
Lots of setting not a lot happening but I have good pictures in my brain thank you and there is a mystery hung above my head with the ritual (I wanna know what it is) but other than that ehh? Could be better. Character pretty bland.
Would would would would don’t say would. They did or they didn’t unless something happened more than once or there’s a condition which wasn’t presented.
More passive language aaa quit it. No reason to use it here. This story already lacks bite.
Names help sell interpersonal relationships btw. Again, there’s a lot of things here I think are fine choices when done for a reason but none of this feels like it was done for a reason. Passive language can be used to disarm a sentence or give it length to build. Would is best served for conditional reasons (“whenever we stopped john would say he had to pee”) but can often be omitted. Masking names can create mystery or because a character doesn’t know them. Use these things intelligently.
Anyway, I’m not following the ending and I read this twice? Like, okay, the lieutenant wanted to end the rituals? Was there a reason? What was the sin here that made the weird god angry? Why did she wait until the murder ritual started? If she hated the god or whatever, was it because she saved the lady? That really didn’t feel like it was sold well. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Things happened without a justification for them as far as I can tell. Really liked this story otherwise which is a shame… I think like, maybe a sentence or two got cut somewhere, or you were being WAAAAAAAAAY too subtle because this was ALMOST something.
It’s Not The Dark That Kills You
Opening two paragraphs. Orange through the treelines: this is very confusing. I have no idea if they’re inside or outside, since they’re in a cellar? Maybe? I’m guessing inside, how does a treeline affect something here. Are the trees in the cellar? Is it through a window? (I’ve never seen a cellar staircase with a window before ever…) Bleh.
Soil, so, outside? IM MORE CONFUSED.
I legit cannot block this. Making poo poo up in my head now.
Good way of naturally introducing twins.
Okay, once this gets going, it’s actually a good little thing. Something insightful about two characters and what makes them different, I guess one is “evil” but not really, when the other one is paranoid he’ll actually be evil. That’s cute. I liked it. Holy poo poo that beginning was rough though. Less ambiguity there and this would have been a winner IMO?
The Dance, the Dress, their Dream, and the Sun
This is starting okay, I think, but now I’m confused on who I’m following. Best to stick to one POV even in 3rd person. Practice what from a book? How do you take images of a growing woman and turn them into a wave? 3rd paragraph is wonky AF.
Oh, ballet. Make that more clear earlier, sillyface.
And you totally took an interesting sounding concept and just like.. what? Practicing dance and making a dress for a competition, draining the power of the sun to… hope the sun rises again? What did they do with it. Ughhhhhhhh this was legit great too and it deflated into nothing. They payoff should be something tangible??? They worked hard and felt more together because of it but like…… they worked hard towards a completely different goal? Sigh.
This was cute and there was like, a conflict which was pretty dialogue driven, and then… wow. That ending was out of nowhere. Was the riddle supposed to foreshadow this because seriously I am not solving a riddle to get a story sorry. Anyway uh, this should have ended completely differently but was good until then. If you really wanted to make that part of the story you really should have alluded to it. Actually, this is like if you took the core elements of a Benny the Snake story and polished them and made them more subtle. Buncha stupid punks spouting dumb dialogue (that I liked in this case) and ends in death.
I liked this more than the other judges because I’m a weirdo, but basically to me this is the best example of setting up two core elements of a story and having a very good ending (solving the riddle later and getting a different perspective on the bully after besting them) and instead the riddle was the song lyrics and the ending was just like… came outta nowhere.
GJ, Thunderdome. Never change.
Medusa or the Lotus Eaters
Not sure which perspective im supposed to be in here. Johns? Guessing John. That was kinda hard to figure out, but eh, not the worst sin this week. Okay, this was really confusing until I made it halfway through. I thought Melissa was dead, then wasn’t (but not in a hey this is unnatural sort of way) until the dreaming part. Once I hit that mark it became a lot less confusing, but you really could have made this a lot more flashy if you made that difference clearer, I think? Like, don’t get me wrong, this is probably the first attempt at subtlety that may have worked so far this week.
“The car rolled through town. It was an uneventful Sunday until it wasn’t.”
Don’t do this.
Okay, this was probably the best suicide ending I’ve read in a while. I’m PRETTY SURE I’ve like, seen a story like this hit for hit somewhere, that or it’s just an amalgamation of really uncreative things, but poo poo, you pulled it off. A coherent story with actual characters and a laugh out loud moment. GOOD JOB.
This had tonal issues and fixing them, along with the clarity problems at the beginning and maybe alluding a little more to the afterlife and spending a couple more sentences on the ending probably would have made it the clear winner here because it had a lot more to work with than the actual winner at the foundations.
This was a good little thing but it really wasn’t a story, but jesus at least there was nothing stupidly wrong with it. Good job.
So wait, is the bruised girl the little one from before? Why was she called lady then? Or is it a different character if so where did the girl come from? Who’s knocking? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. There’s like two or three missing connections here that would otherwise make this story great. So was it the little girls mom or something? WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE LOOKING FOR HER AND WHY ARE THEY WEREWOLVES JGIDuea90yjgafgjlskdafdsa. This is otherwise fantastic but YALL REALLY NEED TO WORK ON CLARITY THIS WEEK JFC WHEN I READ STORIES TWICE AND CANT FIGURE poo poo OUT YOU ALL GOT PROBLEMS FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS.
This was solid. The middle was a little bit of a drag (barely tho) and the robots were robots in name only (though I’m going to guess this was to buy a fast us vs them sort of situation to spend more time with the characters which is a fine gambit). This hits every beat on rhythm and it’s very well paced, IMO. That said, it’s a bit tonally flat and I felt way more distant and cold on it than other pieces this week. Given that there was nothing outright stupid and I understood everything clearly though and how broken several other stories were you basically won a marathon by not tripping and falling on your face. Congratulations!
anime was right fucked around with this message at 13:12 on Apr 26, 2016
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 13:01|
I'll do one. First thunder dome. Send me a story
Here you go, the winner of Thunderdome CIII: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3598931&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=120#post432759710
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 13:09|
Yo can I pretend that this is my first dome and just rewrite someone else's story?
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 14:15|
Yo can I pretend that this is my first dome and just rewrite someone else's story?
Sorry, no can do. It seems like you've got a few different entries to choose from though, so you should be okay
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 14:27|
Count me in but this is my first Thunderdome (curse my husband for throwing me in) so I am requesting a story to invert.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 14:30|
Sorry, no can do. It seems like you've got a few different entries to choose from though, so you should be okay
BRB registering an alt.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 14:43|
|# ? Sep 21, 2021 07:19|
I'd also like to do some crits for the first three people who take me up on it. Any week is fine.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 14:46|