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Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





First time thunderdomer here. Also going with the snow globe vs copper.

And the word count is the max number of words, right? Not the minimum.

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Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Is it ok to post our entry now or do we have to wait until the signups are over? I'm going to be a bit busy during the weekend.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





CXCVI - Copper Vs thunderdome

Prompt:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WarNOKCnWYs

Upheaval (1202)

The universe went dark all of a sudden, signaling the next upheaval. Sure enough, the ground trembled and the glittering snow was propelled upwards, colliding with the glass dome that covered the world. The twinkling music began playing and the light returned, revealing a myriad of snow flakes swirling on their way to the ground.
The Eye of Providence appeared behind the glass dome, gazing and darting and blinking at random intervals. Then it faded back into the confines of the universe, just like it always did.
“Alright,” Fred said, poking his face beneath the pine tree's branches, “The Eye is gone, storm's over.”
The branches sprung to the sides and out came Fred, shovel in hand, sporting a brown coat and plastic boots. That was the only outfit he owned for the Eye hadn't provided any other.

The world known as 'Merry Christmas' was encompassed within a three inches long glass globe filled with a liquid atmosphere. For its inhabitants –which happened to be only two people– this was normal.
Trying to look out the globe did not yield substantial results: most things in the universe were too distant to make out accurately, displaying blurry masses of colors instead, and that's not to mention the distortion of light caused by the globe and its liquid. At the very center of Merry Christmas stood a pine tree that nearly reached the top of the globe. It wore several colored spheres on its sides and a star shaped crown at its top. Finally, an uneven circle of empty gift boxes surrounded its base. That was it, the world in its entirety.

Fred scratched his head. May crawled beneath the tree branches and dusted the snow flakes from her dress as she raised. She was shorter than Fred but had just as much of a presence, perhaps due to her peppy attitude.
“I've told you not to touch your hair, it looks messy.”
Fred ignored her and began shoveling the snow against the glass wall.
“Why do you bother doing that? Another upheaval will happen,” May reproached, “I bet the Eye doesn't even mind.”
“Why do you care about my hair? It will get messy anyway,” he paused. “We have talked about this, it's what we do. The Eye expects this from us, to care for his realm.”
“Bleh! Boring.”
May scoffed and retreated under the branches. She made her way past the area they had assigned for sleeping and sat against the tree's base, her hand caressing the letters engraved on its bark. 'Made in China' they read. According to Fred, China had been the place where The Eye of Providence created Merry Christmas. As for the name of the world itself, it had originated from the words first uttered by The Eye when the world came into existence. While some muffled sounds made their way into the world, 'Merry Christmas' had been the only two words spoken close and loud enough for them to hear clearly.
“Your lack of faith will get us in trouble one day,” said Fred, still working outside.
One of the advantages of such a tiny world was that they could always speak with each other. That, however, was also a disadvantage for they didn't have much privacy.
“How do you know? It's not like we have instructions or anything,” May replied.
“I've seen it in my dreams my dear, I know it's true.”
“For China's sake! Bringing that up again?”
“Don't use that name in vain!” Fred yelled, throwing the snow he had collected into a turbulent cloud of glittering lights.
May frowned but remained in silence.

She sat quietly with her head resting against the pine tree. The sound of rustling branches caught her attention and she turned to see Fred rushing into the hangout.
“Another upheaval. I wasn't even done!”
He hurried inside and embraced the tree with a firm grip. So did May.
There were two kinds of upheaval: In the first they would be shaken up and down violently and come to a sudden halt, usually accompanied by the twinkling music and the appearance of the Eye of Providence. In the second kind they would move swiftly in one direction and the blurry colors they could see beyond the glass globe would change, but there would be no music or Eye. This upheaval was of the second kind, which they happened to prefer. It caused less ruckus.
The movement stopped and May stood up, she picked up the shovel.
“I've got this, you take some time to rest,” she said as she abandoned the hangout.
Fred crawled onto the sleeping area and turned on his back, eyes closed, arms flexed behind his head for support. Not a minute had passed when he heard a series of blunt clanking noises. He got on his feet and ran out as fast as he could manage. Not very fast since the liquid atmosphere made movement difficult. He saw May, striking the globe with the shovel.

The universe went dark again, Fred and May froze in place but she held on to the shovel. Merry Christmas began spinning rapidly, causing the snow flakes to explode into motion and throwing Fred and May against the glass wall, centrifugal force keeping them in place as they spun.
“What have you done?” Fred yelled as he tried desperately to hold on to something.
May's only answer was a look of horror. The movement came to a sudden halt and the universe lightened up. Fred sat on the floor cupping his head between his hands while May gawked at something above her.
“What… What is that?” her voice trailed off.
“Judgment.”
“No, I mean that!”
An orange glowing liquid started pouring towards Merry Christmas. The glass globe exploded and it's water gushed out, carrying thousands of glittering snow flakes out towards the universe. May grabbed Fred's hand and pulled him just in time to avoid a smoldering drop of liquid that fell where he had been sitting. It sizzled and steamed. The powerful stream of water dragged them down a newly formed waterfall that ended on a brown and slippery liquid they would later come to know as 'mud'. Fred got up, rubbing his forehead.
“We lost our home,” he said, staring at Merry Christmas being consumed by the strange orange liquid and a yellow flickering light.
“Well… maybe but... look at all that!”
May gestured towards the universe, a place full of wondrous objects she couldn't have ever imagined. Among those things stood a gigantic man, with not one but two Eyes of Providence; a regular person for all intents and purposes, except for his humongous size. The man spoke at a black object with three long legs.
“That was awesome!” He said, “I didn't know what to do with that thing since I got it for Christmas but I'm glad I kept it around. Please subscribe to my channel and check out my other videos of things getting destroyed with copper!”
The person smiled, then got close to the black object and pushed a button. May and Fred threw a glance of confusion at each other.
“What now?” Fred asked.
May shrugged.
“I guess we could go to China?”

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Fuschia tude posted:

If you really have to, :justpost:

Just know you may be mocked for it.

Wouldn't expect any less from you fine lot. :v:

Kaishai posted:

You can post any time. If you proof and edit first--an important caveat--you should be no worse off than people who wait until Sunday night.
I've re-read it several times, hopefully it worked out.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





My powerful ambition is to not get a DM this week.
IN with whatever you pick.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Thranguy posted:

Havana 1953
Relationship:
Visitors: “What are we smuggling this time?”
Government: CIA case officer and double agent
Romance: What happens in Havana...
Need:
To get even...with the secret police
Location:
Seaside Malecon: Beachside grilled seafood vendor, who sees everything
Object:
Weapon: Crate of .45 US M3 “grease gun” submachine guns
Tilt:
Paranoia: The thing you stole has been stolen

Self heist - 1412 Words

I should have been like my brother, a cigar smuggler. But no, I had to go with the risky and stubborn alternative: weapons. It was never for the money or power, but for the challenge, the thrill, the danger. Doing it for its own sake, to say that I had marched towards death and conquered it. Alas I had not, so I stood in a pool of blood instead, seeping from my former crew members in a gruesome sight. They laid motionless on the concrete floors of the warehouse. At least they didn't die like the pussies I had believed them to be, managing to take out a good number of agents in what turned out to be a fair battle. The faint taste of sea breeze and blood lingered in my tongue. It was not an unfamiliar sensation, perhaps even pleasant in a way. I ignored it and pushed the last corpse over, revealing Cesar's face scrunched in pain, his death elevating the count to thirteen. I tore the keyring attached to his trousers.

It was lucky for me to be alive, not only because I had been the sole survivor, but because an opportunity had arisen: Now that the whole crew was gone I could sell the weapons and keep all the money for myself. But more importantly, I could bask in the glory alone, set myself up as an important crime lord perhaps. The sirens wailed in the distance waking me up from my trance. I reloaded my gun, ready to shoot at anything that dared approach me. The sirens passed by and I sighed, slid the gun behind my waist and headed towards the exit. My thirst for battle hadn't been quenched but it would be wiser to be gone before the cops eventually showed up.
The blood soaked keys jingled in my hand as I strode out the building. There was no hurry, the stash would wait for me just fine. When the adrenaline started to die out I felt a light pain on my arm; it had been grazed by a bullet but I was otherwise unscathed. I shrugged it off and continued.

Despite his flaws Cesar had been a decent leader, smart enough to keep the weapons away from our hideout. That's more than could be said for a lot of the morons who roamed the streets, and part of the reason I had joined his crew; he could lead, even me. But now he was dead.
By the time I traversed the eight and a half blocks to the shack the night had crept in already. Edel sat on a rocking chair by the door, holding a small drum between his legs. He was a good kid, eleven years old, still too green for my line of work but capable of working as a lookout. He stopped playing as soon as he saw me.
“Cesar sent you?” He asked.
I nodded.
“Listen kid, things got... messy. You don't have to worry about it, your job is still the same. You stay here, you stay put and don't let anybody in.”
He stared at me flatly. I handed him twenty pesos and he smiled.
I made my way to the door. The keys clinked and the bolt turned. The cabin was dusty, there was almost nothing inside. The windows were barred shut and a ragged couch sat against one of the wooden walls. I waited until the drumming resumed outside and pushed the couch a couple of feet, revealing a trapdoor beneath it. A crate with three dozen M3 sub-machine guns waited inside. I smiled, then closed the hatch.

*****

“Rice with plantains?” I asked.
“It's not ready yet.” Rosa said without looking back or stopping her steering.
Her arm still displayed the purple blotch I had caused. Hitting her was not something I enjoyed, but sometimes I simply lost my temper. Then I'd spend the whole night wondering why she kept living with a piece of poo poo like me.
“At least come say hello,” I said.
Rosa shook her head, paused, then turned to press her lips against mine. She retreated almost immediately.
“Is that blood on your shirt?”
“Just a job. I'm fine.”
She stared at me with a severe look.
“You've got to hear this though,” I said.
“I don't want to, you know how I feel about your line of work.”
“Well, you don't seem to complain when I get you nice things.”
She frowned and returned to attend her pots and pans.
“My crew is dead and the whole stash is mine, I will be rich and powerful. Maybe I could even retire after the deal comes through.”
She turned violently.
“Jesus! Your crew is dead? When will it happen to you? Because we both know that's gonna happen sooner or later.”
“Fine! If that's how you're gonna be just call me when dinner's ready. I'll be in the room.”
I picked up a rum bottle from the shelf and slammed the door behind me.

*****

My stomach churned and a headache hammered my thoughts. Rosa laid next to me, breathing calmly, the sunlight seeping from the windows caressing her black hair. I placed the empty bottle on the counter and retrieved my trousers. I checked the pockets, then the counter, the floor and the bed sheets. My breathing hastened.
“Where are they?” I screamed.
Rosa turned over sheepishly, she rubbed her eyes.
“What?”
“The keys!”
“I don't – ”
A slap across the face interrupted her halfway through the sentence. A tear slid over her red cheek.
“I don't know what you are talking about,” she cried softly.
I picked up my gun and rushed outside, heading towards the stash.

Edel was nowhere to be seen and the cabin entrance was slightly open, the keys still attached to the knob. I retrieved my gun and kicked the door in, splinters flying everywhere. There was no one inside. The couch had been moved to the side and the hatch was wide open, empty. Normally I would have gone into a smashing frenzy, destroying whatever happened to be in front of me, but unfortunately there was nothing for me to destroy in that place. I kicked one of the walls and cursed. Perhaps it had been a CIA fucker or somebody from another crew.

The rundown houses passed me by as I ran, the hot and heavy breeze trying to slow down my progress. Edel played soccer with other kids in a makeshift field. When he saw me he sprinted away but there was no chance for him to outrun an adult. I caught up with him and grabbed his shirt, dragging him against the wall of a cabin.
“Where are the weapons?”
He didn't answer, his face frozen in horror.
“Where?” I repeated.
“Don't know. The woman came for them yesterday. I swear.”
“What woman?”
“She said she was with you. She said I could leave.”
“You moron! I'll deal with you later,” I said, then threw him to the side and sprinted towards my house.

By the time I made it back I was weary and covered in sweat. Rosa waited at the front porch, sitting on the wooden staircase.
“What did you do?” I yelled.
“I threw them into the sea.”
Her answer took me aback.
“You did what?”
“You heard me,” she said, “now you can stop dealing for good. Your crew is dead. Right?”
“That was our entire future you dumb whore!”
I pulled my gun by the barrel and raised it in the air, ready to strike her down with a single blow. She didn't flinch or move.
“Don't,” she said softly, “you've hurt me enough.”
It was strange, I had never stopped halfway through one of my anger fits but something was different this time. Something about her calm defiance echoed within me. My head shook from side to side.
“This is who I am, I can't stop.”
She sighed in disappointment. I lowered the gun.
“And to think I was about to beat you, I wish I had died on that gunfight.”
Rosa looked into my eyes causing me to flinch. I started to retreat, leaving a dust cloud behind me.
“They are buried in the backyard,” her voice said, “at least I tried.”
I stopped.
“Don't be mistaken,” she continued, “you have made your choice, I've made mine.”
My chest ached within but a smile appeared on my face; she would be fine.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Oh well, I guess I succeeded in not getting a DM... Unfortunately for the judges I don't want to quit yet so they will have to keep suffering my words until I git gud or grow tired.

One's a disgraceful fiction writer trying to make a living. The other's a talented corporate spy.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Thanks for the crit Thranguy, it will be helpful.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Chernabog posted:

One's a disgraceful fiction writer trying to make a living. The other's a talented corporate spy.

Corporate fiction - 1246

“I just need you to be yourself,” Travis said.
Claude nervously rolled a pizza crumb between his fingers. It had already turned gray.
“Umm... I don't know if I can do that.”
“What kind of answer is that? You literally do it all the time. Just act natural and nobody will pay attention to you.”
“Gee, thanks.” Claude said, then threw the crumb into his mouth.
Travis recoiled in disgust.
“Come on, you know what I meant. You'll get some cash and maybe some inspiration for your next novel. Plus, you get to help me.”
Claude stroked his goatee.
“So let's get this straight: I pretend to be IT, plug the flash drive into the server and walk out. You handle the rest.”
“That's right,” Travis replied.
“But I know nothing of this spying poo poo. What if I screw up?”
Travis stared silently at Claude.
“Okay, okay, fine. I'll do it. But let it be known that this plan is a 'Travisty' of my values.”
Travis slumped on the couch.
“You are hopeless, man.”

*****

Claude stretched his blazer, it made him uncomfortable, he was used to worn down hoodies that didn't fit. He looked up at the ominous tower that stood before him and his physical discomfort was suddenly squelched.
“Ready?” Travis asked.
Claude looked at his hands, they were covered in sweat.
“Nope.”
“Alright then!” Travis said as he strolled forward, “just stick to the plan.”
Claude nodded reluctantly and retrieved Travis' identification card, displaying his slick black hair and smug smile.
“Go,” Travis ordered.
Claude walked with an air of confidence, even managing to impress Travis. Then he opened his mouth.
“This day is most excellent, good sir,” he said to the man guarding the entrance.
The guard threw a glance of confusion at Claude who just smiled awkwardly and scurried into the lobby. He slid Travis' ID over the reader and passed though the revolving bars, dropping the card behind him as he had been instructed. Simultaneously, Travis tripped and let his briefcase crash against the floor sending dozens of papers flying into the air. The guard behind the counter rushed in to help.
“Are you alright?” the guard asked as he handed him his ID.
Travis nodded, gathered his papers and moved towards the revolving bars. A red light blinked.
“These things never work.” he said, then passed the key again with the same result.
“Go ahead this time but get it checked by someone from IT,” the guard said.
A green light appeared and Travis pushed through.
“I thought you were toast,” Claude said.
“Nah, you just need to act like the big cheese and all the doors will open,” Travis paused, “by the way, I need someone from IT to check this out.”
Travis chuckled and tossed him the card. Claude frowned.
“Very funny.”
“I need to go get the codes now, you know what to do,” Travis said.

Travis hit the elevator button and entered. Claude waited for seven minutes and called the elevator.

Claude strode across the corridor, counting the number of doors he had passed. Four, five, six. 'Server room' the glass door read, perhaps redundantly for the black boxes and their colored blinking lights made that easily apparent. Claude slid the key card over the sensor and the door opened. He glanced to ensure he was alone and stepped in, his hands trembled.
“Okay, this should be easy,” he muttered.
He attempted to retrieve the flash drive but his quivering hand responded poorly and dropped it on his foot which made it slide under one of the servers.
“God dammit!”
Claude knelt and reached below. A sudden sharp pain shot up from his fingers and he screamed. He pulled his hand and a mouse trap came along, his fingers throbbing. He removed it and tried with the other hand, recovering the drive successfully this time. He plugged it right away before anything else could happen and sighed, feeling both pain and relief. All that was left was for him to leave the premises.

He went out the server room and glanced at his hand, it was now red. He walked a couple of steps and a voice called from behind.
“Hey! You are IT right?” Can you come over for a sec?”
Claude pretended not to hear and continued walking but a delicate hand grabbed his shoulder. He gulped.
“So... I was just working and suddenly my computer froze. It must be a virus or something.”
A short woman with business attire stood expectantly behind him.
“Well, then?” She asked impatiently.
“Eh, sure,” Claude uttered, “I just need to check the GK16 plugin and debug the port withholder first. I'll be right back with you.”
“No.”
“No?”
“No. You guys always make up excuses, do it now.”
She grabbed Claude by the arm and dragged him towards her office. The computer received them with a faint blue glow. Claude pushed his glasses up with his healthy hand.
“Yes, I see. You might want to come back later, this will take a while.”
“I'll just wait here.” She responded.
“Have you tried-”
“What the hell are you doing?” Travis' voice yelled.
Claude turned to see him waiting at the door, his shirt displaying a big bloodstain on the side of his stomach. Claude opened his mouth to speak but Travis interrupted him again.
“Run! Now!”
Claude hesitated, then ran after Travis who was now opening the door to the emergency staircase. They rushed down the stairs and a door burst open above them, then a gunshot sound echoed through the chamber. And another.
“What the gently caress?” Claude screamed.
Travis didn't answer and continued running down until he reached the lobby. The people turned in shock as the two men burst out the emergency door.
“Freeze!” One of the guards yelled behind them.
They ignored him and ran out the building, continuing along the street until they reached an alley. It was a dead end. The screams of the guards got stronger and stronger.
“We've got to jump over the wall,” Travis said.
Claude shook his head. Travis interlaced his fingers and nodded. He boosted Claude up who then lifted Travis despite the pain on his busted fingers.

*****

Claude slammed the door to his apartment open.
“That ruled! Did you see that? Those loving guards chasing us and then we were all badass and...”
Travis smiled, then slumped on the couch with his hand on his bloodied stomach.
“Oh poo poo, I forgot about that,” Claude said, “we should take you to a hospital.”
“No, I'm fine. It's just a flesh wound,” he coughed.
“No way, you need a doctor.”
Travis shook his head.
“Booze? Weed? For the pain at least,” Claude said.
“Trust me, I'm fine.”
“Don't mind if I do then,” Claude said as he opened a drawer. “So what did we steal anyway?”
Travis pulled out a small plastic packet from his pocket which he crushed in his fist, causing a red gooey liquid to drip from it. He laughed.
“Nothing. That's where I work. I just wanted to cheer you up, to give you a small adventure.”
“They let you do all that?”
Travis shrugged.
“What about the guards? And the gunshots?”
“Blanks. And they will send us the security footage later, it will be hilarious. I need to see how that happened,” he said pointing at Claude's hand.
“You bastard!” he paused, “but at least I'm getting paid.”
Travis grimaced.
“About that...”

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Thanks for the crits.

IN (not the brawl)

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Falling to pieces - 940 words.

My right arm lays twelve feet away from me. It just fell out of its socket without any warning or pain, leaving a black hole in its place. A sense of strangeness washes over me as I realize I can still feel and command it. Without a body to guide it though, it just twitches and flops like a fish on the ground. I feel the urge to stop and take it but my time is running out so I continue riding my bicycle as best as I can manage with a single arm.

A car crashes against a store behind me but I don't turn anymore, it's the sixth or seventh in a while and I've lost count already. A part of me hopes that one of those cars will swerve and crush me putting me out of my misery. I could end it immediately by killing myself but I need to find Zoe and my feet keep pedaling. I don't know what awaits me or what I'll do once I get there but thinking about her keeps driving me forward. This ordeal might just be a freak accident of the universe or a twisted joke from a higher being but I simply cannot afford to abandon hope.

It appears as if constant motion slows down the process of dismemberment. The people who hid have fallen apart already, forming horrific piles of severed limbs that twirl and crawl over the ground. They somehow remain alive despite being split into dozens of hole-riddled pieces. Their moans and groans and scratches and thumps still echo within my ears. On the other hand there is the possibility that I'm completely mistaken and this is not a matter of motion, but of will. Perhaps even of pure randomness.

A man runs out from a burning house. He has no lips or jaw so his eyes do all the screaming. His leg separates from his body and he falls. I stop beside him and he opens his eyes widely, begging me to kill him. Or at least, that's what I choose to believe. I grab a piece of crooked metal and jab his head but skulls turn out to be sturdier than I had anticipated and the only thing I manage is to scrape the scalp off his head. He cringes and gurgles so I hastily stab again, this time aiming at his eye. The metal pierces cleanly and he slumps motionless against the cold concrete.

A dog's head crawls awkwardly towards me. That poor animal has no clue what's going on, probably for the better. He even looks happy with his tongue flopping about. As I look at him my ear falls off and I get jolted back into reality. I have lost too much time already, my life is expiring soon and there is no more room for worthless speculation or mercy.

The town hall appears before me and it looks just like everything else: black piles of smoke emanate from crashed cars and limbs without owners thrash from side to side. There are also corpses of lucky bastards who killed themselves. I drop the bike and run towards the entrance but as soon as I get to the door an unbearable pain interrupts me. I look at the ground attempting to find what piece has fallen from my body but there is nothing around. The pain persists and my gaze turns to the empty space where my right arm had been: something must have crushed it. I feel like I'm going to faint but I push through the pain and make my way to the staircase jumping over several body parts that wander aimlessly along the hallway.

I reach Zoe's office at last and the door is closed. I attempt to open it but something is stuck behind it. My left eye pops out of my face, eyelids and everything. It rolls through the ground and stares at my feet while the eye on my face still looks at the door. The double vision makes me dizzy and I helplessly turn to puke. After recovering I close my left eye -which I can still control- and manage to focus and pick it up. It won't stick to my face anymore though, so I do the only thing that will let me continue without distractions: crush it under my foot. The pain is excruciating.

The office door trembles rhythmically after every one of my kicks, giving in bit by bit until there is finally a space for me to enter. I squeeze in and sidestep the desk that had been holding the door shut. Before me lays a mound of Zoe's limbs, writhing and breathing as if it were made of worms. One of her green eyes looks at me from the floor, it begins shedding tears. I pick up her lips to kiss them one last time and they reciprocate the motion.

I push the desk away and place her featureless head against the door frame. I slam the door shut with all of my might, spraying the office with blood and brains. I'm left with no time to weep as my chest gets torn from my waist and I crumble onto the gore, my joints splitting from each other and turning me into another pile of bones and flesh. My remaining eye happens to land facing a picture of Zoe and I, sparing me from witnessing my own demise.

Hours pass, then days. Thirst, hunger, silence and pain are my only companions. The world becomes a blur and it pulls me into the dark nothingness as my consciousness fades away.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Why not. In.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





crabrock posted:

Grammar Mercy: -1 Mistake

For the first person to quote this, I will ignore one grammar mistake in your story that I would have otherwise held against you.

Sup.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





I'll take a flash rule as well, I need something to blame for my terrible story.

Also thanks for the crits!

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Tuesday words:
perspicacious
mellifluous
ambrosia
juxtapose

Flash rule: A person gets crushed by an avalanche of ironic consumer goods.

A very potato miracle - 1197 words.

Asher lifted the kitchen blinds with his fingers and peeked out the window. Boris was drawing closer. He rushed towards the door and glanced through the peephole, then opened it before Boris could get a chance to knock.

“What do you want now?” Asher barked.

Boris greeted him with a perspicacious smile.

“To wish you good luck, we both know you'll need it.”

“Last year was a fluke. You stole my recipe!”

“Which I still cooked better than you” Boris paused, then grinned further. “Maybe this time you should try to make real latkes instead of those... run-of-the-mill hash browns.”

“I'd love to erase your smug face right now but I'll leave that for tomorrow,” Asher said.

“Fine. But maybe you should save yourself the embarrassment and let the experts cook.”

Boris bowed and walked away.

This year would be different, Asher had practiced and perfected his recipe. He had measured the perfect ingredient ratios, temperatures and timings. He had memorized the steps down to a tee. And most importantly, Boris hadn't been able to get his dirty claws on his recipe, unlike the previous year when he tore it from Asher's recipe book during a barbecue.
Asher returned to the kitchen and opened the pantry, moved boxes and cans aside, knelt on the floor, looked at the top shelves, then froze.

“Rivkah? Dear? Where are the potatoes?”

“Oh! I mashed them for my dinner with the girls. Help yourself,” the voice came from the upper story.

“Rivkah! I told you they were for the contest!”

“There will be another one next year, honey. Or just go to Sammy's and get more.”

He shook his head and sighed. Thirteen years of marriage had taught him that arguing with Rivkah was pointless.

*****

Asher walked quickly through the aisles until he reached the produce section. To his dismay the russet potatoes had all been taken already. The Hanukkah latke cook-off was very popular in his community and potatoes usually ran out. He could use other kinds of potato but they would not yield the same results, they were not starchy enough. On the other hand he could attempt to look elsewhere but there was no guarantee that he'd find them and still have time to prep. Instead he walked reluctantly towards the petite potatoes and grabbed a few pounds, then proceeded to check out.

As he exited the building he saw two people arguing next to a display shelf. Asher recognized one of them as Gabriel, a mediocre cook-off rival. He pushed a cart with four paper bags full of russet potatoes.

“Sell me one! Don't be a dick, you don't need that many,” the man said.

Gabriel shook his head, then smiled.

“I'm just playing the game. Better luck next time.”

The man's face turned red and he grabbed a bag from the cart.

“What the gently caress?” Gabriel yelled as he tried to wrestle the bag away.

The man overpowered Gabriel and yanked the bag but his shirt got caught with one of the bolts of the display, pulling it towards them. An avalanche of safety equipment crushed the two men.

“Dear God!” Asher yelled as he rushed towards the accident.

He pushed the shelf and threw the fallen items aside. Both men were undoubtedly dead. Asher gasped and retreated towards the circle of people that had gathered around. A mall guard yelled a few feet away.

“Listen everyone! Please step aside!”

Asher walked a couple of steps backwards and bumped against Gabriel's cart which had been pushed away when the shelf fell. He glanced suspiciously at both sides and grabbed the handlebar after making sure all the gazes were focused on the accident. The guard turned towards him.

“Hey, you!”

Asher's eyes opened wide.

“You saw the whole thing?

“Um… yeah.”

“Stay here so you can tell the cops what happened.”

He nodded and gripped the cart tightly.

*****

A six feet hanukkiah stood at the front of the park with its nine arms spread evenly, a light bulb crowning each one. Dozens of tents surrounded the park with the judges table at the very end. Asher placed a tray with raw latkes next to his electric stove.

“Here to lose? Or are you going to kill me too?” Boris yelled, then burst out laughing as he continued towards his station.

“I'll go mess up his ingredients” Rivkah said.

Asher extended his arm in front of her, he knew she would follow through if he didn't stop her.

“Don't, I want to beat him fair and square.”

Rivkah crossed her arms.

“Fine. You do make great latkes though,” she said, then kissed him on the cheek.

Asher threw eight latkes into the frying pans. His hands moved with masterful precision as he added spices and flipped the potato pancakes without missing a beat. The spatula gleamed with every stroke, its clinking against the pan producing mellifluous sounds. He glanced at the clock and removed the golden latkes, setting them to dry on a paper towel. At last he separated them into plates and garnished with mint leaves and apple sauce spirals.

“Beautiful!” Rivkah exclaimed.

*****

“Perhaps it is missing a bit of salt,” Said the third judge.

The others nodded and the woman stepped back.

“Now, Asher, please come forward.”

Despite his nervousness he did as commanded, he placed a dish in front of each judge. While the actual challenge was in the cooking he never felt nervous until the judging phase began, when he couldn't do anything to change the outcome anymore. Perhaps it was the fact that he had nothing to focus on. The judges sank their forks into the latkes.

“Exquisite. Pure ambrosia,” said the first one.

“The texture is great. The salty and sweet flavors juxtapose perfectly. Is that cinnamon I taste?” Said another judge as she raised her head to look at Asher.

“Indeed.”

“Very well.”

As Asher walked back into the crowd he grinned at Boris who stared at him with a serious look. He returned to cook for the crowd who went wild over his latkes.

“Can we get your attention please?” The speakers blasted.

Asher served the last batch of latkes and joined the rest of the contestants.

“In third place we have Rina Mendelsberg, give it up for her!” The judge screamed through the microphone.

A plump woman walked up the stairs and received her ribbon with a smile.

“In second place...” “Asher Grabinski!”

Asher joined Rina and recived his second place ribbon. Boris smiled and clapped mockingly. Asher ignored him and took his prize with pride.

“And at last our big winner...”

A drum-roll blasted from the speakers.

“Bernard Valnicovich!”

Boris threw his arms in the air but brought them down immediately. Asher saw him yell and curse even though he couldn't make out his words. A man stepped on the podium.

“Grats!” Asher said as he shook Bernard's hand.

“You have to let me try your recipe, it must be glorious,” he replied.

The three winners raised their arms in victory, then stepped down to enjoy delicious snacks with their families. Perhaps Asher had not won, but he had defeated Boris and enjoyed the journey.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Thanks for the crits Tyr!

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Mr Gentleman posted:



The Curious Matter of the Nattily-Dressed Man (1023 words)

During my long partnership with my sister Khloe, amongst our more intriguing adventures was our investigation of the nattily-dressed man, a matter that was revealed to the public this week. Whilst I typically defer to our television producers to recount our adventures, I could not in good conscience remain silent over their portrayal of these events. For they focused on lurid details, providing little instruction on the virtues of deductive reasoning. As perceptive viewers know, our adventures are not far-fetched series of unlikely occurrences, but rather the results of principled deduction—even when premised on something as unexpected as potatoes! Let us now journey back to that fateful summer day.

#

Khloe and I had recently defeated the machinations of a sinister Parisian (an event so grotesque the world remains unready for public disclosure) and planned to recover at our estate in Bakersfield, a hamlet north of Los Angeles. Early during our journey, we broke for lunch in the village of T—n at a ‘fast food’ establishment named I—t. (We suspect our viewers are intimately familiar with its yellow arrow logo and famed ‘secret menu’.) The village, despite its inhabitants’ coarse peasant stock, had prospered from being located in a mountain gap through which a highway passed. The astonishing heat that day had driven the villagers to take refuge in the local shopping mall, leaving the streets deserted.

As we approached the entrance of I—t, a nattily-dressed man emerged, holding a white paper bag. He shuffled slowly towards the unseen rear parking lot, where his vehicle presumably rested.

‘His buttons reveal foreign birth,’ I remarked to Khloe. ‘His creases suggest nervousness.’ I struggled to concentrate in the heat. Why do they care so much about this random person?

‘Intriguing,’ replied Khloe. ‘Now let us eat.’

The restaurant was barren but for a lone attendant who also served as the cook. So as to be seen by the public, we elected to take our meal ‘to go’ and drove to the mall. I partook in crisp french fries, hard and ridged to the touch with a texture resembling cracklings. Now refreshed, we took a constitutional through the mall, mingling with local fans. A few hours passed before we returned to our automobile, whereupon we discovered a local constable waiting.

‘Are you the famed sisters?’ cried the constable, in obvious distress. ‘I recognized the sigil upon your vehicle.’

‘We are, good constable,’ I assured him.

He beamed. ‘What fortune! We require assistance.’ He led us back to I—t and then to the rear parking lot. Spilling from the open door of an automobile was the body of the nattily-dressed man from earlier, his expression twisted into a horrifying grimace. He was unquestionably deceased. The restaurant manager watched nervously from nearby.

‘This man was Gaspar Lemieux,’ said the constable, holding up a passport.

‘The famed Belgian food critic?’ cried Khloe. ‘He suffers from crippling introversion.’

‘We contacted his secretary,’ replied the constable. ‘He’d recently improved somewhat and was touring this region.’

‘Lips inflamed,’ I said, ‘and throat still swollen. Clearly an allergic reaction. He passed agonizingly.

‘His severe peanut allergy is well known,’ offered Khloe. I have some trouble believing she is THAT acquainted with this man, especially since they didn't recognize him earlier.

‘A terrible accident!’ exclaimed the constable.

‘Surely a food critic would be mindful of allergies,’ I said, frowning. The bag Mssr Lemieux had held lay near his foot. I unrolled it and found only a wrapped hamburger. ‘His meal remains untouched,’ I murmured, ‘as well as nutless.’ I felt the bag’s interior and his hands. Something began to glimmer in my mind. <-- This is leading towards the explanation of the murder but instead goes on to describe other things.

‘This is a twenty tweet problem,’ I said, removing my mobile from my purse. The weather was cooling and my thinking sharpened. I thought of the french fries from earlier and their crispness; of how salt prickled my fingers and hot grease dribbled down my palms. The sky was dark by the time I looked up. This paragraph doesn't add anything to the story and it gets repeated later when it actually becomes relevant.

‘Murder,’ I whispered.

#

We gathered indoors. ‘A man succumbs to a food allergy,’ I began. ‘But without eating. How?’

‘Sprayed with peanut crumbs,’ offered Khloe.

‘There exist myriad outlandish possibilities,’ I replied. ‘Let us apply the deductive principle of simplicity—we presume he ate peanuts.’ Khloe nodded.

‘From where?’ asked the constable.

‘The effects of various cooking oils on vegetables is an interest of mine,’ I continued. ‘I’ve authored a website on the subject.’ I began pacing. ‘As we know, I—t is famed not only for freshness, but also its unusual french fries. They are soft, distinctly limp in feel, chewy— unique properties imparted by being fried in cottonseed oil.’

‘Yes,’ agreed the manager. ‘They’re quite controversial.’

‘But the french fries I purchased today were hard, crispy, ridged; they felt like cracklings.’ The manager’s eyes widened. ‘The inimitable marks of peanut oil, sinisterly substituted by someone.’ I frowned. ‘Being foreign—and possibly affected by heat and hunger, as my own faculties were impaired by the same—poor Mssr Lemieux remained unsuspecting.’

‘His bag contained no french fries,’ the constable protested.

‘Precisely why this is murder, not an accident,’ I replied. ‘The culprit surmised that Mssr Lemieux, being painfully introverted, would drive elsewhere to eat alone. But as is common practice , he sampled a french fry in his vehicle before departing. His early death surprised the murderer, who subsequently removed the evidence. Examine the receipts; I’ve no doubt you’ll find Mssr Lemieux purchased french fries.’ I sighed. ‘The lone attendant from earlier. We must have barely missed him.’
She seems to make a lot of assumptions that just happen to be right. More evidence would be neat

‘He’s a new hire,’ cried the manager, ‘and ended his shift prematurely today. That’s when I came and discovered the body.’

‘What an unlikely plot,’ said the constable grimly. ‘Let us seek this murderer.’

What occurred afterwards is well known, having been depicted in gruesome detail by our producers—how the attendant was unmasked as the Belgian french fry restaurateur Mario Guzman, who had been slighted by Mssr Lemieux; the subsequent pursuit through the mall; and his painful last stand, nude and covered with peanut oil, in a room full of potatoes. Why?

Whilst I appreciate the titillating spectacle of these later events, they were simply the natural consequences of what began with the potatoes. With that, it suffices to state the virtues of deductive reasoning, applied rigorously, have been demonstrated once more.

Congratulations! You are the lucky winner of one (1) crit which I picked at random.

I realize the language is intentionally stuffy... but why? It doesn't seem to serve any purpose other than a gimmick and throughout the whole thing I kept getting distracted by it, especially because it is set in modern times. It's not clear if this is some sort of reality TV or just a tongue-in-cheek detective drama.
The mystery is a bit dull and the logic raw in some places, but all in all I think you captured the 'procedural' show vibe on it. It might have been fun to put more things at stake here and making it harder for the protagonists to solve the crime since they had basically no resistance.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





a friendly penguin posted:

Critiquing:


This reads like a bad holiday movie. I’m sure you meant the holiday movie part, what with the title and all, but I’m also sure you didn’t want it to be bad. It might be worse than bad though because in bad holiday movies, the protagonist usually learns a lesson while also triumphing over the hubristic antagonist albeit in a ham-fisted way. Your main character doesn’t go through any growth or have any change at all.

I also have a hard time believing much of what happens in the story. The likelihood that his wife would use his prized potatoes without a second thought but also be willing to sabotage someone else’s entry is low. The time constraints you put on Asher to not be able to find russet potatoes at a different store but yet he has time to answer all of the police questions in a double homicide doesn’t work either. The possibility that two men are actually killed by falling safety equipment (oh the irony) in a shopping center is so outside the realm of belief, that my interest also died right there. (I know it was a flash rule, but… meh.)

Your story needs better obstacles than the ones you have set up and they need to actually feel real. All of the problems you set up for your character are either unbelievable or easily overcome. All of your characters are flat. Asher shows no emotion, even when he wins and Boris doesn’t. His humility at the end is meaningless since it juxtaposes nothing. His lack of concern for two people who died, including someone he actually knew, in fact points to him as likely having no feelings whatsoever.

But I think I’m putting more thought into this than you did. It is a story, there is a beginning, middle and end. There are characters. But those two things are where you stopped. You need to go a little further in developing your whole work. Asking some basic questions like: What does this story show? Who would my characters be in other situations? What do I want to accomplish with this story and have I done it?
:negative: oh well.... maybe next time. Thanks for the crit.



IN with

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Ibexaz posted:

In for my first ever Thunderdome piece, and my first piece of fiction in over five years. Let's hope I don't royally gently caress up!



Don't worry, if you do you can get a sick avatar like this one.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007





Oh man, another DM. I think I might be going at this the wrong way by forcing myself to write genres that I don't particularly care about. Next week I will probably fare better.

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Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007






Grim callings - 1185

Death appeared before the watchtower with a musket resting on her shoulder, she raised her hollow eye sockets to meet my gaze. She did not need speak a word for I knew the purpose of her visit. I nodded and lowered the bridge. The gate's steel bars bent to the sides as she passed through, reforming their shape afterward.

The first time I stood watch I had hesitated: Who in their right mind would let Death through? I thought I'd stand up to her, that I'd stop her. But it was the others or me – she had made that clear. To oppose her was certain doom.

Despite everything she stood for, I respected her. Not out of fear, but out of responsibility. She had a thankless job which she fulfilled dutifully. Not like a soldier who did as commanded, no. More like a force of nature that simply did what it was supposed to, what it was meant to. She didn't pick or choose, treating noblemen and beggars alike. She acted and got results, made things happen.

A gunshot broke the silence of the night. Death hovered back though the gate a few minutes later.

“Why do you need the bridge?” I asked.

She turned her bony head towards me. It was impossible to read her emotions, if there were any whatsoever, she had no skin or muscles to display them.

“I do not. Just seems right.”

“Why the musket? I thought you'd use something more... classic,” I said.

“Times change.”

She shrugged, then glided into the woods.

***

“You are burning up!” I said.

Anna pushed a bucket towards me. I submerged a towel in the cold water and wrung it over Maxim's forehead. A plague had hit the town a couple of weeks before and people began falling sick left and right. Death's visits had increased ever since.

“Thanks Yuri, but you two should stop wasting your time. I'm as good as dead,” he coughed.

I sighed and shook my head.

“We won't give up on you brother. Anna will take care of you while I work.”

She nodded.


The streets had never been particularly lively at those hours of the night but there had always been something going on: drunks brawling, a beggar playing the guitar or a couple kissing in a dark alley. Now they were completely deserted. I strolled through the empty road until I reached my post, then sat by the edge of the tower like I always did. It was a calm night, mist floated slowly over the ground. Hours passed and the skeletal figure finally appeared.

“You're late today,” I said.

“Never late,” Death answered, “where I need to be, when I need to be.”

“Are you here for Maxim?”

She shook her head.

“No. Not yet. Soon.”

“Can't you let him live? At least for a bit longer, he's still young.”

She shook her head once more.

“Cannot. Where I need to be-”

“Yes, yes. When you need to be,” I interrupted, then lowered the bridge, “go on then.”

She glided towards the gate but stopped before crossing.

“You can though.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Southern caves. Purple mushroom. Beware of beast lest I take you next.”

She entered the city and the all-familiar gunshot echoed through the distant mountains. She returned and placed her musket against the wall.

“Take this,” she said, “bring back, one piece.”

***

Alek the town mayor twirled his beard as he thought.

“I will not put my men in danger Yuri,” he said, “This is madness! How can you trust Death? She comes and takes our people every day.”

“That's what she does. We can't blame her for that.”

“Bullshit! We have enough problems as it is, I can't risk more people.”

“Fine. I'll go alone then.”

Alek shook his head.

“You are mad son, completely mad. But do what you must.”


Making my way through the woods was difficult, the mud slowed my progress and every so often I had to stop and hack the branches with the bayonet. The rocky entrance appeared beyond the trees. With torch and musket in hand I descended, the thick air and darkness threatening to asphyxiate me.

A brown and furry silhouette breathed deeply at the bottom of the cavern, slumbering. I held my breath and moved as quietly as I could manage, circling the cavern to pick up as many mushrooms as my pouches could hold. They were easy to spot, their bright colors stood out against the dark rocks.

The bear growled. I turned to see her raising up and fired the musket instinctively, getting her at the side of the neck. The shot nearly left me deaf but it managed to injure and stun her momentarily. I reached for more ammunition but the bear knocked the musket out of my hand with her powerful claws. While the torch posed no real threat for the beast I attacked anyway hoping to scare her away. She retreated but then pounced, knocking me down. I twisted in place and retrieved the musket. As I turned back the bear bit my shoulder, the pain nearly rendering me unconscious. I gathered all the might I had left and rammed the bayonet on the side of her head, causing blood to rain over me while her body slumped limply to the side. My vision got blurry, I passed out.


I woke up in the cave still. The torch had died but Death's unearthly glow illuminated the chamber.

“I guess I failed,” I said with difficulty.

Death ignored me. She lowered the musket and fired at the bear. There was no physical reaction, no wound or blood-spray. Instead, a blue mist-like substance emerged from the would-be wound and was sucked into Death's eye sockets in a whirlwind of motion.

“Here for her. And this,” she said, raising the musket.

“Why did you help me?”

“You not afraid, you asked. Most people do not dare,” she paused, “I take lives when they need to be taken. My purpose. All lives, eventually. Life duration inconsequential, to me.”

Her lower jaw opened slightly giving the impression of a smile.

“Next time friend,” she said, then vanished.

***

Anna sutured the wound on my shoulder, I winced after every stitch.

“Fantastic! Now I have to take care of not one but two sick brothers,” Anna said.

“Leave the complaining to me. I was almost eaten by a bear.”

“Stop it both of you. The plague is under control now and we are all alive. That's what matters,” Maxim said, still resting in his bed.

Anna mumbled something but I was unable to make out her words, she finished suturing. I frowned.

“It wasn't that bad. Was it?” She said.

“It's not that,” I said.

She crossed her arms and grimaced.

“What then?”

“I'll miss her.”

“Death? Are you serious?” She paced back and forth inside the room, then stopped, “I guess you will see her again someday. At least once. But I don't want to think about that, not now.”

She was right, we had the rest of our lives ahead.

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