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Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Political Reincarnation

Former Senator Harris was kneed in the groin, hard. Why'd the electorate put weight on a gradeschool door? He could see it coming every time, but couldn't wince nor cover. Disincorporated, he really couldn't do anything at all.

In life, Harris railed on judgment from above, just short of an angelic endorsement. He'd been a champion for the supposedly downtrodden holy-roller and his majority of the paranoid. The constituency appreciated Harris, a state football lineman who'd dedicated his life to politics after a booze-deyhydrated meniscal tear. A Landside victory. Party ticket, full ride. The oppositition, hooting for a free and easy vote, was silenced. A month later, the campaign crashed.

He'd done so badly that national news and the local
tabloids posted the same manner of expose: 'Senator Harris dead in sex scandal!', bolded the Times. The biggest national rag had bumped an in-depth look at the current state of Sharkboy for Harris.

He wasn't caught cheating on his wife. He remembered a confrontation with her about some issue with the kids, a stack of donation checks, one of his regular sweet girls club girls, pussy a scotch, a blue steak, more scotch, pussy, a burst in his chest, then this.

The gym clock, an old type that clicked with each minute, ratcheted. This was hell, right? His 'body', if you could call it that, coated every inch of the polling place as if it'd been spread, nerves and all, with a paint roller. Once the halogens glowed to life, he'd felt a an itchy burn that intensified to red-hot whips.

The voters lined on his backbone. Each one vilified vertebrae, mashed marrow, and garroted a ganglion. He could resonate all the existential questions in his heart, but with no mouth or ears, no one could listen or tell. Harris could see and hear with diffuse eyes and ears but his pain was universal.

With each ballot, Harris' sin-loose muscle felt like it came loose from the bone. His body was gerrymandered to an agonal pitch.

The voters at the closest booth were just the 'sort' Harris had slavered to disenfranchise. Under party politics, under the weight of fed money, a media assault, and district recarving, his campaign was simple. Harris discovered early that ignoring those without a voice barely took a try at all. A minority needed a mouth to make its case.

The line dwindled, though the ache didn't. Once all the voters had left and the lights were off, dead Harris was spiritually sucked into rest. No warning, no pain, just gone.

For the dynamic, hell is passivity.

Harris felt an incandescent burn as the door opened. Where was he? He saw the booths. A polling place. Harris hated them. Too hard to control. He remembered donations, a bloody steak, scotch, a sweet bitch off the service, and a burst in his chest. A dropped ballot lit a fire in his spine as he repeated.

EDIT: This is my sebmojo brawl, not this week's entry.

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Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


In. One's a detective on the last case of his career and one is a fatal cancer riddling his brain and lungs.

It's a Turner and Hooch concept.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Crit for the brawl with Sebmojo taking place a couple days ago:

I had pretty low hopes from this story due to the literal 'devil's advocate' playing such a big part and his rep seemingly taking three months to notice that he has horns. The passivity of your protagonist bothered me a lot, actually. He's a seasoned politician, but didn't understand that blood sacrifices and dark masses aren't really Primary material?

You tossed Anabaptists into the mix, but I have no clear meaning on how that faith applies to the story.

The story starts off with a very political bent, which I thought was pretty interesting. It'd be neat to see how the devil handles modern problems from a perspective of pure misery. Instead, you put your most interesting character in the backseat until the end of your story.

The reveal of the Devil being on some payroll lowers the stakes of the entire story and is a serious letdown of an ending. Between the beginning and end of the story, nothing actually happened besides Jimmy 'vomiting cleanly' into the basin, which I can't even understand.

It's not a bad story as I see it, but you put together a lot of cool setup and absolutely none of it is paid off. Your prose is good, but it seems at times you insert sentences just because they sound nice (I'm so guilty of this).

For example: "Then he gasped as his familiar, handsome face writhed and coiled like a bucket of worms."

As much I want to see the guy's face-bucket, this is the only detail applied in the situation. I usually enjoy your stories but I thought this one was particularly bad and there's no bias in that. Thanks for the brawl!

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


One is a burned-out detective on the last case of his career. The other is a tumor that'll break all the rules to get the job done.


In

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Whoops, don't know how much I managed to double-sub that

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


The Last Case of Detective Ford and Tumor McCoy


The car radio crackled, rousing Detective Ford from a light doze. He'd been daydreaming about his favorite episode of 'Midnight Murder Files'. He turned the volume up. A stern voice fuzzed in as a police blotter took over 'Rock you like a Hurricane' on the FM. Ford shook the sleep off and listened in.

"We have a report of an adult male, age 85, missing from home hospice. He is armed and, per his family, suffers from severe dementia." The police operator continued with a reiteration of the escapee's description. The suspect's last known location was about three blocks from Ford and Tumor McCoy.

"Sounds like it's our collar, Tumey."

Tumor McCoy had crept from a small malignancy in Ford's lung to a serious stakeholder in the man's brain. McCoy spoke up, its voice a squeaky internal monologue.

"Well gee, Detective Ford, we're on assignment! We're nabbing a drug kingpin! Why don't we let the rest of the force handle this missing fella?"

Ford agreed, sucked down his cigarette, and tossed the butt out the window. He followed it with a stream of bloody, frothy sputum and agreed with McCoy. Ford always agreed with McCoy. They were hot on the trail of a pusher known only as 'Santo'. He operated out of this neighborhood, dealing to kids. Ford ignored the blotter, even though a true maniac was on the loose.

Detective Ford's beat through his neighborhood was erratic. He and McCoy scouted sidewalks, alleys, crosswalks, and underpasses. As Ford turned a corner, McCoy spoke up. "Didja see that guy, boss!? On the corner! I think that's the old man who ran away from home!"

Ford made a three-point turn and swung back to the street where McCoy had spotted the perp. "I think I see him, McCoy." The suspect walked with a limp. Their unmarked car slowly matched his sidewalk pace. It would have been embarassing detective work, had Ford ever been an officer.

"We're got him right where we want him! Let's get 'im, Ford!"

"Patience, McCoy. You heard the blotter. We don't know what he's capable of. Have to do it by the book. Let's call him in." Ford put the car in park in the middle of the street a half block up from the limping man. He checked his department-issue pistol and buttoned his trenchcoat to the neck. Ford flicked on his police radio.

"This is Detective Ford. We have eyes on a missing person reported earlier. Officer McCoy and I are responding." Ford and McCoy left the car idling as they drew their gun, just like on TV. They hid behind an oak bordering the sidewalk. Ford and McCoy snuck a glance at the limping man advancing toward them and the detective's stomach turned.

This was no lost old man. The limp was inconsistent, a fake. He carried a silver briefcase at his side and was dressed in a sharp black suit with a modern cut. He had a trimmed goatee. A textbook villain. Santo. Tumor McCoy fed Ford these images, the real world distorted through a lens of malignancy. Detective Ford cocked their pistol and waited.

Luis Ruiz, on his way back from the market, had noticed an old Dodge swerving down his block. He'd brought a canvas bag from home for groceries, now filled with some chicken, greens, milk, and a slice of dulce de leche cake for his wife. He'd slowed his walk when the car parked in the middle of his street. An unshaven man in a tartan bathrobe had crawled out of the door in mock stealth. Ruiz's eyes narrowed as he watched that old man try and hide behind a narrow oak.

The man leaned out from the tree. Ruiz had just been concerned about the stalled car until he saw the driver. Then, he was scared. He'd heard about the missing, dangerous man over the grocery store's PA. Ruiz took his time walking, though his milk was getting warm.

Ford, through McCoy's tumorous filter, saw their kingpin.

At this distance, Ruiz could hear Ford. The filthy man took turns speaking in a falsetto, affecting a low growl, and talking directly into the yellowed collar of his bathrobe as if someone was listening.

"This is Detective Ford requesting backup. We have Santo in our sights. I repeat, we have Santo in our sights." Tumor McCoy spoke up. "You don't need backup! You're the best cop on the force!" With that encouragement, Ford spun out from his cover and levelled his handgun at the most dangerous drug dealer on the east coast. His heart thundered as it tried to give more blood than it could.

Ruiz stopped cold while his brain caught up with his eyes. The old man had left the false cover of the tree and levelled a rusted revolver at Ruiz.

"Hands up, Santo!"

Ruiz couldn't hear a word, his eyes focused on the barrel. The old man's hand shook, though he couldn't miss at that distance. McCoy spoke up. "Take the shot, captain!"

The barrel lit up.

The shot went feet over Ruiz's head, but it had taken whatever the old man had left. The recoil sent Ford to the pavement. When Ruiz braved opening his eyes, Ford was flat on his back. The gun, a relic, had come apart in the old man's hand at its first shot in fifty years. Luis Ruiz could have called the police, but he ran into an alley, a head of broccoli tumbling from his bag.

Tumor McCoy and the shot taxed Ford's metabolism and seized his heart. As Ruiz disappeared into the alley, Ford laid on the concrete, his breath a hot, anxious rattle.

"Did we get 'em, McCoy? Did we stop the bad guys, Tumey?"

"You got 'em, Detective Ford. You got 'em."

The paramedics found him the next morning.

An emaciated old man in a stained bathrobe, missing from his family. He'd held a shattered great war pistol in his right hand. He'd laid his left hand on his temple, on McCoy. Ford's smile, his death mask, was sublime in satisfaction. Case closed.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Didn't see your last post, Ty.

Prompt was

'One's a detective on the last case of his career, one's a tumor riddling his lungs and brain'.

900-something words.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


This is the worst slapfight on the internet. Someone pull out someone's weave already instead of this will they won't they bullshit.

I can't participate in this brawl because my writing is too monumentally lovely and even I'm embarrassed just reading this thread.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


sebmojo posted:

bullshit: i'm overriding muffins dumb rule, you're in

I'm down

gently caress you, Muffin.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Making up rules and writing all high and mighty. You think you're Ernest Hemingway or some bullshit, you're Barely Honest Hemingway


I'm putting my hands in the meat grinder, you pathetic bitch. I hope you like the sausage that comes out

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Thanks for the crits SH and Jitzu!


All of the above still stands

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I am not reading a single story from a person who enters under this rule. If you want it so bad, you can read and judge those ones.

and of course, all the others. Welcome to the high table, underling.

NO gently caress YOU DAD

Seriously Muffin, you're pathetic. The best comparison I can make to your cheapshit sense of power is a general manager at a failing Wal-Mart. Tell me how close I got to reality.


I'm in this week. I'll be phone typing it during my move to Houston but SM being a bronzed bitch is my impetus.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Dang, surprise entry into thunderbrawl. Don't be gentle, SB

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Titus82 posted:

TITUSFLERP BRAWL ENTRY (otherwise known as the winner.)

The Death Of Punk Rock.
Word Count: 599


Did you write this completely ironically? have you ever heard a punk song or been to a punk show in your life?

Black FLAG, not FLAGG
There's never been a band called Riot Grrrl, you idiot. It's a punk movement.
It's spelled 'Jefe', not "Hefe'

If punk wasn't dead already (it's not, stupid) you put the final nail in the coffin.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


People putting up lighters at a punk show? Oh my loving god, dude. That's only acceptable if the band jokes through a half-rear end cover of Freebird and everyone in the crowd does it ironically. I hope these posts have been enlightening and I hope you never listen to or write about music ever, ever, ever again.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


I think I'll finally have a home tomorrow. In for this week, phonepostin from the Best Western Bayou Inn and Suites, LA. I haven't written a word in a week. Gimme some thunder, judges.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Oh yeah, flash rule. Any judge, any rule. I'm too burned to be more specific. Gimme a challenge

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


As failure-penance for notposting, I'll crit up the first three replies. I expect that this AMAZING OFFER will go quickly so call now.

No seriously, I'll put some effort into it.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Chili posted:

Me please! Oh, nevermind missed it :/

Naw, you're good. You acted now so you got four for the price of three.


I am losing the thread on this QVC analogy. Anyhow, I'll have the crits up by the end of the day

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Chainmail Onesie posted:

Flash Rule: No character may speak (sebmojo)
Flash Rule: Thursday Flash Rule (Anime- Mecha Genre) - word limit increased to 1300
Flash Rule: Your protagonist is disguised as a member of the opposite sex for plot reasons. Nobody notices. (Bad Seafood) (NB: I done hosed up on this one, shame on me)

Pursuit
1293 words


Chainmail Onesie:

I'm going to intentionally leave a couple of things out of this crit. I'm disregarding that you didn't get to that third rule. I'm also generally not criticizing grammar because it can be hard to tell poor grammar from stylistic choice. That said, you really need to work on your use of pronouns. A story with one primary character shouldn't be ambiguous. Your use of the word 'it' is especially confusing. The clarity would benefit you a lot.

One of the lessons I'm really learning from thunderdome is paring down my words. It was sort of a revelation, but while passages like

"
Eva sighed, staring blankly into the auxiliary display at her hip. The letters flickered up at her, pixelated green-on-black amidst the white glare of the cockpitís central screens. She looked up, squinting through her flight helmet at the radar overlay on her right. Like her radio and magnetometer readouts, it did nothing but gargle noise at her, completely defeated by her pursuerís electronic warfare module."

are really fun to write and let you flex your vocab muscles, they can get very tedious to read. I had this problem throughout your story. Like some guy said, Brevity, soul wit etc etc etc.

Content-wise, I felt that in a story that should be centered around action, nothing really happened. I understand that while a bang bang pow story also gets boring after a while, the word limit would have let you pack in action without wearing out your welcome. I'm also not a fan of the Potato ex machina that you ended the story on. It came out of nowhere. I was engaged by the 'prototype' angle, but you dropped it (like a hot potato)

I think you should have embraced the ridiculousness of the genre a little more instead of contorting your story to fit it. It's not bad, but it's not something I'd read again.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


dmboogie posted:

Monday prompt, "Man agonizes over his tornadoes."

A Plague a' Your Thatched-Roof Cottages
1012 words




First off, I guess Jill's a man? Or is Hank the one agonizing over tornadoes? The prompts this week were kinda hard to follow but I think you got one with very literal elements and elements up for interpretation. You mixed em up.

All said, I liked Jill as a protagonist. You did a good job in making her a little bit relatable as well as larger-than-life and that's a difficult balance to achieve. It helped that the world you set this in had a good dose of beleivable fantasy to it. However, it's really easy to get caught up and overextend that fantasy. For example, a passage like this:

'
The tornadoes grew increasingly frequent and difficult to dodge as she traveled. After Jillís third dayís walk her pack was snatched by the wind, forcing her to wrestle several boars to death along the way in order to feed herself, clear a rockslide from the mountain trail with her bare hands, and headbutt a goat to establish her dominance. Other than that, her journey was uneventful.'

gets really close to that line, then crosses it in the second-to-last sentence. That last sentence is unforgiveable. I get that it's supposed to be cutesy and a little tongue-in-cheek but it's so old that it should be bronzed by now.

Her encounter with the stormlord was sort of interesting. Whether you did it consciously or not, I like that the two characters in positions of power (Hank and stormlord) have a setup that's commisurate to their importance to the story. Unfortunately, the 'twist', if you want to call it that, is awful. Hank and the town seem distressed by the tornado situation, but they also have a solution prepared, so it seems like they've dealt with this exact problem before, which I'd assume Jill has heard of. That's where you lost me.

You took a risk with the ending of this story and unfortunately it didn't pay off. It tries to carry this 'what if god was one of us?' theme, but I loving hate that song. Like a lot of the stories this week, the ending feels rushed. There was a good way to write that ending, but you didn't hit the mark. The last couple of sentences are also completely unnecessary and work against you.

I wouldn't read this again and I'd probably give it a DM if I had the jizz to do so. Good elements, botched delivery.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Chili posted:

Climbing the ladder, bottom of the barrel to DM aw yiss.

Mang, you got rid of that loser avatar fast.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Muffin's megabrawl entry:

Our Home in Pune (986 words)


My parents tell me that the return to our motherland was a tradition born out of the diaspora of the 1980's, when our communities were afraid. There wasn't money, there weren't connections, and only as much culture as could fit in a suitcase. They worked hard and networked, but in their minds nothing could replace home. So, when they saved from their first paychecks, my mother as a bank teller and my father at a slaughterhouse, it was for tickets back to India. They bought one ticket at first, they tell me, just so one of them could hold me on the flight. They eventually afforded two. Pune was a small town in the then, a quaint village hours from Mumbai.

I went again when I was seven. It was the first trip I remembered. Aji and Baba's house was mortared stone next to a river river choked with mud. I'd heard all about my grandparents by then and had even spoken to them over scratchy 1980's phone cards. My parents asked my teacher for two weeks off, which was granted easily. I don't know what they said to her, but from her expression upon the approval, she knew about the importance of the timing of this trip. If I had known more, then, I'd have taken the sadness in her eyes to mean that she knew about Baba, too.

Baba, my grandfather, was built up as a strong man, a pioneer, a genius with two doctorates in philosophy. He was our family's bedrock and an avatar of wisdom. He was a role model I'd never met in a country I didn't know. When I saw him I bawled as only a hysterical child can. His eyes were milky and opaque, blind. He carried a cane, though Aji, my grandmother, had to put it in his hands. My father smelled of mitchum and gold bond. Baba's room stank of sickness. There was a reek of ammonia in the air and a crust around his eyes and nose. I ran up their stone staircase as the two of them struggled to follow me. Halfway up, I looked down. Baba was sitting on the landing, unsure of his direction. Aji tried to walk up, struggling on each step. I cried harder and continued up the stairs until I was out of their view and they were out of mine.

That was my first time upstairs. I saw a bedroom, perfectly clean, but without any use. A fine layer of India's choking dust had settled over everything. The sterility and neglect confused me even more until I looked down the steps. Aji had given up halfway and was rubbing her hip. Baba had been guided to a chair by my father and was rubbing his temple. They hadn't been upstairs in their own home in weeks, or months, or years. My parents were at a loss.

I walked down the steps and joined Aji, sitting close on the step where she'd given up. Without any words, she opened her purse and took out a small book of puzzles. There was an Indian-cartoon Nosferatu on the cover, asking his bats to fill letters in his word game. She turned to a random page. My face was still hot and red. She put an arm around me as everyone else shifted uneasily, except Baba. He sat, hunched and dejected. I would have cried again at what I had done to him if it wasn't for Aji's arm. We worked through those puzzles until I'd calmed. Then she made me fresh papadum, dried from potatoes she'd grown herself and accompanied by a green mango pickle, made from the tree that leaned onto their roof and shook down fruit with every rainstorm. Aji's personal selection of the mangoes on the roof was a point of pride.

Baba stayed in the corner, cane in hand, until late that night. He came to me shakily, arm around Aji. I could see the hurt in his face, but he told me he was proud. His grandson had a sweet heart and he thanked God for that. Our culture celebrated work and knowledge out of necessity. When we left Pune for home, Aji hugged me so close and gave me the puzzle-book for the journey. I hugged Baba, ignoring the smell and his hesitation. He held me close and cried softly.

Baba passed away a year after my visit, almost to the day. I came back to India at fifteen, back to Pune. My grandmother welcomed me there, alone. On my first night I went upstairs again for the American bathroom. Now, there was a thick layer of dust there. The next morning I walked out of the fire escape to the roof. It was littered with green mangoes from a tree that leaned over it. I recalled the large jar sitting on the mantle, British-made and still hard to find at the time, that had a crust on the rim from disuse. My grandmother had scooped from it the last time I'd visited. There wasn't a pickle anymore. I gathered a shirtfull of fruit and walked them down. My grandmother had started up the stairs after me, but had only made it to the small stone landing, five steps down from where she'd sat rubbing her hip years earlier.

That night, we cut the mangoes into eighths for a pickle. Then, we finished the puzzles I'd left in the book. She reminded me that 'color' had a 'u' in the middle and we laughed together.

Aji is still there and we talk every week. I can almost feel the softness of her saree and the scent of fresh jasmine over the phone. She is a strong woman, a role model, and the proof that while my parents left India, our lifeblood still pumped in that town, in that house, in our language, and in our love.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Chili posted:

Man, I am just a thread making GBS threads catalyst. I'm gonna keep getting into brawls and I'm not very good at this yet.



ARF.

Let's throw down. SB, still up to judge?

Carl Killer Miller fucked around with this message at 00:00 on Jun 13, 2016

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


In with Corn Flakes

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Ironic Twist posted:

Hey so this may or may not be a regular thing depending on how popular it is, BUT:

THUNDERDOME BOOK CLUB



I'm in. I'll pick up the book tonight.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Week 202, cereals. Corn flakes (100 cal per serving)

Doctor Kellogg's Prescription - 818 words

Franklin walked through the door at half past five. Madge was at the stove and David, like always, was upstairs. Franklin dropped his briefcase and a grocery bag, hard. He looked to Madge. "Is David at it again?"

Madge looked at her husband with concern and turned off the burner. "Well, his door's been closed. I've heard the bed creaking, Franklin. Not for long, but it creaked." The two sat at the kitchen table, face-to-face.

"I've got an idea, Madge. An idea from a Doctor, a real one, a holy man. Something that'll fix David." Madge frowned. Franklin had expected more support. A lot more. He'd been raised in the church and his wife was clearly not taking their son's wasted seed seriously enough. This new 'passion' of David's had to end.

"He was an innovator, a pioneer. Doctor Kellogg, the cereal man. He had experience with cases like this, where a boy spends all his time on his pecker. Kellogg spent his whole life on boys' peckers." Madge hesitated again and Franklin continued, faster and harder.

"I'm tired of you having to clean semen from his sheets, Madge! His room stinks like old oysters, and the creaking, and the slapping! The ceilings are too thin here, Madge! Too thin!" Franklin's floodgates had opened, but he edged them shut just as quickly.

Madge and Franklin sat at the kitchen table, silent, until the creaking srarted again. In Franklin's mind, it was accompanied by a wet, sinful slapping. It stopped a few minutes in. The boy was dedicated.

Franklin opened his grocery bag and showed Madge the half-dozen boxes of Corn Flakes inside. Then, over the course of a half-hour, he explained his plan. They'd murder David's sexuality with Dr. Kellogg's sanitarium prescription of cornflakes for every meal.

"Franklin, are you sure? All of us? And this Doctor Kellogg proved that his flakes would stop David's, um, problem?" Franklin's smile was smug, patronizing, and frankly lovely. "We have to do it as a family. No more spilled, Madge. Kellogg was a cock professional. Trust him, trust me."

-

At eight, they called David to dinner: three large bowls of anti-masturbatory cornflakes and a pitcher of whole milk. From his expression, David had clearly been expecting Taco Thursday.

Franklin spoke first. "David, I've read on good authority that three daily meals of corn flakes embolden the body and cure the spirit". He was confident, quoting directly from Doctor Kellogg's hundred-year-old notes. David was confused, but dug in anyhow. He even asked for a second bowl, to Franklin's delight.

In bed, Franklin laid his arm over Madge's breast. She started to turn away, but settled. Through the ceiling, he heard David's bed creak. Slow, then faster. After about a minute, the sound stopped. Franklin throught he heard a loud exhalation, but it could have just been in his mind. Boy needed more flakes.

-

After a week, Franklin hadn't noticed a change in David's ceiling creaking rhythm. The family meals had become silent. Madge shoved spoon after spoon of cornflakes for completion, then headed to bed. Eight days in, Franklin had enough. He'd tried to run his hand down Madge's thigh, to rub her back, but she was tense all over. Tonight, he kissed the back of her neck. She turned to him.

"Have you thought about maybe, just maybe talking to David about this? Telling him you're worried, involving him at all?"

Franklin grunted.

This is ridiculous! Doctor Kellogg? A hundred years ago? There's a goddamn Rooster on the box, Franklin.

Franklin stared at her blankly.

"A cock on the box, Franklin! A cock!" Madge turned over and away from her husband. Franklin laid on his back, eyes open. A few minutes later, he heard a creaking amping to a crescendo, punctuated by a loud sigh. He didn't sleep.

-

Two weeks into the family's diet, David was robust and Franklin was crumbling. Madge was silent. David finished his dinner just as Madge did. Franklin stirred his into a mush. He'd started hitting the burrito truck after work nearly a week ago.

He followed Madge into the bedroom after dumping the cereal. She was awake, reading. David was upstairs, long gone. She ignored him, even as he changed into pajamas in front of her. Franklin took his time, waiting for the inevitable creaking, but it didn't come. He pointed to the ceiling and tapped Madge's leg with a smile. She looked up from her novel impassively, then back down.

He crawled into bed next to Madge and tried his usual move, a hand up the thigh. He tried to cup her breast when she shook him off and turned on him. She was stern. "You know what, Franklin? I'm just not in the mood." He couldn't protest before she turned off the table lamp.

Franklin laid there for a while feeling impotent, again unable to sleep.

Upstairs, David's creaking started.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


I'm in. Give me a flash rule if you wouldn't mind. I'm not going to torture you with 2000 words.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Teen Mysteries - Flash Rule: 'Japanese Silk'

Family Fabric - 1524 words

"I need a fabric that feels soft but heavy. Something to wrap up in." Detective Verde was at a fabric store for the first time in his life. The cashier looked at him quizzically.

"Sir, could you be more specific?"

The detective paused, out of his element. "Nothing with a wild pattern, no crazy colors. It's got to be easy on the eyes. And heavy. Did I mention that?"

She smiled and nodded toward the back of the store. "Let me see what I can do, sir." She came back a few minutes later with a bolt of cloth, printed in a muted series of greys. "This, sir, is Japanese silk. It clings, it has weight, and just look at the pattern!" She fanned her fingers over the fabric for effect. "How much will you need?"

Detective Verde bought the bolt for his son. He wished Eileen were still here, to help him. Verde placed the bolt gingerly in the backseat of his car, then hid it under his coat.

Michael had classes and therapy late tonight, then it was home for his favorite, chicken nuggets on Monday with Dad. As he drove, he thought back to his first year with Michael. Verde had to do it alone. The obstetrician passed him the baby, swaddled in bright blue, but with tears in his eyes. Eileen's labor had been hard. Just as she had given the world Michael, her body gave out. Her heart couldn't handle it. Thinking about that night grew a pit in Verde's stomach, like it did every Monday. And, like every Monday, seeing his boy waiting for dad filled that pit.

Michael climbed into his father's car. He was usually nonverbal after his sessions but he'd open up after a few nuggets and this week's case. At dinner, the two sat across from each other. Verde chewed on his nuggets slowly as he waited for Michael to broach the subject. Like clockwork, it came.

"What's the mystery this week, dad?"

Michael was short on words but long on routine.

"It's a big one, son. I got a call from the chief this morning, said he wanted to put his best man on it." Verde paused. This part of the speech was always the same. Michael needed that routine. It brought him alive.

Verde extended a hand toward Michael, who touched it and smiled. It had been going on for months on end, but this slice of normalcy, this sign that his son loved him shook him.

"All we have is a codeword, Detective Michael." Verde paused for effect. "Japanese Silk". Michael grimaced in what Verde hoped was deep thought and not the start of a fit. Verde continued. "We only have one piece of evidence and I checked it out this morning. I need your help, son."

Verde cleaned up after dinner as Michael fidgeted with excitement, like his engine had turned over. Verde placed a sealed tupperware on the floor and cracked it open for Michael. It was full to the brim with beans of different colors and sizes. Verde sat next to Michael as he sorted the beans by color, the boy's eyes alive with excitement. He wasn't facing a corner, wasn't shut down. Verde watched and thought.

The cases had started when Michael was eight. For the first time, Verde couldn't connect to his son. By four or so, Verde could tell that something was different about Michael. He wouldn't share, but he'd give his toys to the other children and retreat to a corner. Crying was contagious at daycare, but Michael never caught it. He stared expressionless, as his teachers said. He'd felt helpless and alone then, not like a detective should feel. Watching his boy now, though, Verde felt like he was doing something right. Like a father.

Michael sorted quickly. It was, as his therapist said, a 'solitary engagement activity'. He looked up to his father, five piles of beans arranged in order of size. Verde smiled. He spent his off-hours at work on these puzzles for Michael and the payoff was so, so warm.

"Dad? I made the piles and I have a clue!" Verde waited. "I divided them all! 45, 39, 31, 25, 19!". Verde watched as Michael mouthed the numbers to himself. That was enough for tonight.

"You know, Michael? Every good detective needs his rest. Otherwise how'd he handle his next case? Even I'm not sure where to go from here!" Michael wanted another lead, to continue. He tapped his fingers on the wall until Verde scooped him up. Michael put his arms around dad's neck and let Verde put him to bed.

The next day, Verde came in holding a small safe. Michael's bus picked him up on Tuesdays and Verde had time to set up. After holding Michael the night before, he'd thought of Eileen and let that carry him to sleep. So, he cleaned up the beans and set the safe in their place.

When Michael's bus pulled to the corner, he was whispering the numbers under his breath and making sure to step twice and only twice on each square of sidewalk. When Verde opened the door, though, Michael lit up. Dinner was forgotten as the boy went to work on the safe. Verde heard Michael whisper:

"45, 39, 31, 25, 19."

The boy turned the dial. Verde had read that tactile perception was key to his development. The safe clicked open and Michael was taken aback. There was no Japanese silk, only a sheaf of papers. Each had a man's face, hand-drawn. Verde had paid the department's sketch artist after-hours time for them. The expressions were distinct: a frown, a smile, a toothy grin, disgust, and a half-dozen others.

Verde sat with Michael next to the safe. As his son withdrew the pictures, Verde helped him to identify the expression on each face. Michael struggled with sadness and anger, but he was learning smiles. They went through the stack twice. Partway through their first run, Michael placed his hand on Verde's.

However, at the end of their investigation Michael wasn't anywhere closer to solving the mystery. Verde gave him a nudge in the direction of the safe. Michael pawed through it again, retrieving a slim strip of fabric that Verde had cut from the bolt.

Verde saw Michael hold the fabric, confused. Then, his son began to rub the thin grey strip across his own cheek. They had dinner after that, without many words, but as Verde put Michael to bed that night he noticed the boy holding that thin strip close to his belly. Verde stroked his hair. "I'm going to tell the chief what you saw in all of those sketches tomorrow, Michael. We're gonna get to the bottom of the mystery of the Japanese Silk." Michael clung to the strip closer. Verde watched until his son was asleep.

The next day was the same, with the bus, the walk, everything up to the carpet. Michael could usually wait until after dinner for updates to the case. He wouldn't speak for hours after leaving daycare or therapy, upset by the stimulation. Today, though, Michael couldn't wait. Verde sat him down on the sofa.

"Michael, I've got a special mission for you today." Verde saw him lean forward with anticipation, so different from the mild catatonia of his daily life, or of the other mysteries. Verde continued. "It's straight from the chief."

Gingerly, Verde placed a blindfold around Michael's eyes. He was afraid this would agitate his son, but instead Michael settled into it.

Just after work, Verde had stopped back at the same fabric shop and bought samples of five other textiles, each of a texture distinct from the Japanese Silk. Sitting close, Verde spoke softly to his son. "We almost have this figured out, Michael. The crook is bringing Japanese Silk into the country, but we can't tell which cloth it is. Can you help?" The mystery had lost some of the thread, but it was complemented by Michael's enthusiasm.

Verde placed each of the samples, Japanese Silk included, in front of Michael. he held each one, some scratchy, some not. Some were delicate and easy to pull apart and some had ragged edges. Michael held each one to his face, rubbing them against his cheeks while blindfolded. Verde smiled as his son chose the Japanese Silk.

Before removing the blindfold, Verde retrieved the bolt of cloth from the closet. He unwound the blindfold and offered the bolt to his son. Michael caressed it, feeling the cloth's weight, its cling, its embrace. For now, the case was forgotten.

There was never a real crime at home to solve for Verde, only the mystery of Michael. As his son instinctively wrapped himself in heavy, grey Japanese silk, unwound from the bolt, he extended a hand toward his father. Verde sat with him on the floor, cradling his son, wrapped in beautiful fibers, feeling weighted and secure. For the first time, Michael fell asleep in his father's arms. After a half-hour, Verde fell asleep. Together, they cradled each other on the ground, father and son.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


I'm calling out chi(l)(l)li.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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




I'm in. Lemme try and sub a thing this week and not continue collapsing into myself. Send me your worst pronoun, masterjudge.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Titus82 posted:

Are you calling me fat?

No, I am.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Titus82 posted:

I have a thyroid condition.


I'm going to go eat some puddin'

Pizza rolls aren't a thyroid condition, dawg.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


spectres of autism posted:

this word sux

if you flash me a better word i will use it five times five times five times five times five times

I'm looking forward to your story using 'nacreous' three thousand one hundred and twenty five times. I hope your hyphen game is strong.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Three Stories in a Tightening World

Word: Sclerotic, 1182 words

Susan took a tentative step from her bed. Her feet still worked, but extending her arms was hard, now. She focused on it over everything else, though it cracked like popcorn a minute into the microwave. It started a week after Tim. She'd been fired yesterday. Couldn't pull an espresso.

She'd met Tim at a bar down the street from the coffeehouse. When she walked in, their eyes met. He was handsome, gorgeous, and bought her a manhattan. He didn't turn from the barstool as she sat next to him. After a few words and a few laughs he weakly threw an arm around her shoulders. She remembered that moment distinctly. A string of fireworks popped in his every joint as she looked into his eyes.

They hosed on her old futon. He was hard before, hard during, and hard after, like he couldn't drop it. Tim knew he had it that night.

---

Rajeev burst into the train car after the bars, along with his friends. They were drunk and high on night-fumes. They moved slowly, for Nitin and Arvind's cramps. He saw a slim, fair girl at the end of the train and gave a rallying cry.

His friends had stopped cold after pulling her top down, but he'd dragged her off the train at the next stop, kissing her all over. When Rajeev turned his head to her shoulder, she jammed her knee into his groin and ran. He saw her escape with a torn skirt and a left leg limp, her saliva still on his lips.

That night he laid awake, waiting. His lungs bloomed in his chest without resistance, his trachea conducting the breath regular, his pleura free and easy. Any minute, the cops would kick his door in. Life over, locked up.

---

Matthew was bumped from his ten AM flight to twelve, for weather conditions. That could mean anything these days. He looked down at his paper. Another article about the sclerotic plague. An editorial about literal and figurative freezing of the hands, all the muscles turned to collagen. Heavy on prose. He was afraid being in a tube of people, but his family was in Nashville. He flew private, the only option for moving these days. Common carriers had shut down a month ago.

There were sixteen passengers on jumpseats. When the engines whirled to life, the man to Matthew's left sneezed.

***

Susan crouched in a corner, faking drunk. The bar, like most of them, didn't allow sclerotics. She used the last of her strength to look graceful for the bouncers. Tim was serving at the bar. The man who had hosed her and ruined her life. He wasn't twirling any bottles, just stiffly pouring a line of whiskey cokes.

She focused on looking like she was rallying. Ready for another shot. In a mirror on the wall, she looked at Tim serving. Susan came to her feet, her thighs cracking and her knees burning. She was locking up. The plan was going to poo poo.

Her arm kept creaking, rasping, moaning. Tim saw it and tried to turn away, but she'd seen the sweat on his brow after pouring four drinks. His facade was breaking. He kept trying to turn and fell. His right leg flexed and his left didn't.

Sarah threw herself on the bar. The five whiskey-cokes shook, two splashing out. She was a slab of solid fiber, nearly crystallized mid-leap. She stared daggers at her infector and crawled.

----

Rajeev spent most of his nights in bed, now. He was terrified that the girl he'd sharked would come after him. Every day, he'd crawl into bed and breathe fast and hot. He'd begun to sclerose about a week after that beautiful girl.

That first night, he'd kissed his mother and father goodnight. When Rajeev was young he'd done it every night. The next morning his parents woke up at six. Their old joints creaked under the humidity.

Rajeev laid in bed, frozen in fear. He'd done wrong, he knew it. He played sick to his parents, clutching his stomach and fake-heaving when they made eye contact.

Two weeks into his act, Rajeev woke on his own. His mother hadn't shaken him gently for morning tea. He looked to the closed door. His mother shut it at night and opened it when the air was clear, long before he normally awoke. He crept out of bed, joints popping and cracking, and pulled the knob. He put his entire weight behind it, all emaciated after a week of the sclerosis. His left shoulder ripped out of joint as the door came open.

----

Matthew sped home. This was the exact situation he'd worked to avoid, any possibility of bringing it home, of killing his family. The roads were bad, worse every day. There was a car with its driver stuck, dead and gone. Or rarer, buckled in and still in the worst of it, gripping the wheel and moaning through cornhusk lungs. He knew it would get this bad. It was the moment he'd prepared for, whether it came through a nuclear blast, or poison gas, or a plague that froze the world.

He pulled a surgical mask from his glove compartment and fastened it as he drove. Their neighborhood had been bad before but today things were so much worse than he'd imagined. It had hit fast and hard. He must have gotten a different strain from that sneeze. Well, he assumed. It went from an STD to salivary in no time. It had to be aerosolized by now.

Matthew pulled into his driveway and ran to the door, then stopped. He'd installed a keypad when news of the plague hit. But he'd heard the sneeze. His girls were in there, and Ela. If he sneezed, hugged them, or kissed Ela then all this, the steel in the doors, the reinforcement of the siding, turning his house into a permanent bug-out-bag would have been for nothing.

Matthew stretched out next to the reinforced door, silent. Every few hours, he flexed his leg and waited for a pop.

***

Tim crawled, but Susan crawled faster. Her body was sclerosing and her tongue was numb. Within inches of Tim, she stabbed concrete hands into his abdomen. She climbed up his body, using each finger as a foothold. She came to a freeze with her fingers making gore of his face.

-----

Rajeev's feet were still fairly nimble. Their apartment was small. His mother was standing there, her face chalky and contorted. His father was around the corner, another burnt frame. She looked confused, wondering how they'd become so sick when they locked the door so often. Rajeev knew. He kissed her.

-----

Matthew didn't see anyone for two days. He didn't sneeze, didn't even snuffle. He stayed plastered to the side of their home in a camera blind spot. He'd been flexing and turning there. No crackling, no bursts. After 48 hours, he keyed open the door. Ela was there. He pulled the front door shut as his daughters ran up the stairs.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


This sounds awesome-fun. I'm in.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Location/Mission: Desert/This was supposed to be a simple job!

At the Velocity of the Sun

"Stella-Six is lush. And we're going." Eyerman advanced the screen, displaying a slideshow of steaming jungles, rich grasslands, and pure green valleys. "The whole planet is a paradise."

The mission was easy, he explained. A pleasure cruise with the objective of making contact with first team and harvesting sustainable species for culture. The kind of trip you put in for after busting ten years in craters.

Captain Eyerman closed the shipboard meeting, but gestured for Doctor Arias to hang around. Arias wasn't second in command, but he was Eyerman's confidante. The doctor came to the podium and they spoke freely.

"I need you to look at this, doc. It's the last image they sent over." Arias looked into the Captain's personal display as Eyerman continued. "They sent it a year ago, Arias. What do you see?"

"Switchgrass. And sand?"

Eyerman flicked to another slide apart from his general presentation and spoke. "What if there wasn't good land or good soil?"

There were white-hot dunes on the screen.

Arias spoke up. "This is a year from first landing?" Eyerman nodded and spoke.

"Something's wrong, Arias. So, by authority, we've had a sudden change of crew. A few essential members got shuffled around. Look at your log before we leave tomorrow."

After the meeting, Arias looked down at the new dossiers in his cabin. Their civilian liason had a crew cut. The new informations officer had his right eye burnt out. The galley chief was certified in demolitions.

---

For official purposes, they had 24 hours on orbit above Stella-Six, but the time was all wrong. The sun spun around the torched planet. Eyerman fixed his eye on a peak and waited for a full rotation. Five minutes later, he'd seen one.

Eyerman sent a message home, far away from Stella. Their superiors responded in a day, while the crew observed the new desert.

"Investigate our investment, full measures."

Their landing site was a port established by the first people at the edge of a green sea. The water was fresh, clear, and cool. They touched down on what was the shore, now a gentle hill in a maw of sand. The settlers had been on Stella a year. Where was the sea?

Arias disembarked softly. The mound they landed on was eroded rock, concrete, worn into pebbles by erosion. Arias picked up a handful and watched it sprinkle down. Eyerman, standing ten feet away, made the same conclusion. Nothing and no one would erode in a year. They made camp as the sky dimmed.

---

The sun rose again seven hours later without a trace of the whirling they'd seen in orbit. Slow and easy, just like home.

Hitton and Troise were on patrol last night and they were mostly gone. Mostly, as Hitton's arm was still holding his rifle. Arias performed an autopsy on that limb. Hitton's humerus was ripped out of joint, dirtily. Their camp contracted. Then, a week from their landing with no forward progress, they caught a break.

One of their perimeter men had shot one in the night. Arias took it for autopsy, with Captain Eyerman at his shoulder. Arias performed a laparotomy, an incision straight down the middle. On a view of the thing's insides, Eyerman stumbled back. Arias peered into the corpse.

It wasn't a person, not anymore. But there were traces. He had lungs, but lobed and sprawling and filtering dust. The heart was enormous, grown to pump blood against the dirt in his veins. A shot through the right side of its chest had caught a bloated ventricle.

The muscle of his forearm bore a broken, worn dogtag attached with a single nail. It was pitted, beaten, and in the thing's death grip a family heirloom. A last link to home. Arias read it aloud to Eyerman.

"Corporal Torres".

Arias moved on. An outsized liver to handle the toxic wastewater. Short intestines for short meals, no distinct small or large bowel. No appendix. Its skin was dark brown with a sheen for the sun. It wasn't Corporal Torres and had never met him but it loved what Torres was.

Arias sat with Eyerman after a full scrub, the ship all settled into a comforter of rock. Arias spoke. "The company knew this place was wrong when they sent us out here." He paused. "So, the samples we were supposed to collect?"

Eyerman nodded and spoke, looking up on his back. "You worked on one a few minutes ago." Arias exhaled and laid back. He looked into the unblemished night sky, noticing for the first time that there should have been more stars.

---

In that week, they lost almost all of the crew. All gone in the night, never returning from patrol. Arias and Eyerman slept back to back in shifts, now. They'd found more of those tan things, dead, near the blood and guts of their men.

Eyerman's gut roiled again as Arias carved through another of the dead ones. He had to step away when Arias looked into its lungs. The Doctor wanted to compare them to a slide he'd prepared and set in the ship lab. Arias mounted the slide when the ground shook. Under the microscope, Arias saw a miasma of cells, three nuclei apiece. He enhanced the image as the ground behind him cracked. The DNA was ribboned and sprawling in little tentacles. It had evolved, been bullied by a baking world.

Behind him, the beast crawled from the sand. It carved into Eyerman. Arias had his scalpel at hand and pointed it at the monster. It looked at him, the scalpel, Arias again, it grinned, and it tore out Eyerman's throat. The descendant of the first people smiled wide, knowing what it had done. Some things passed down directly. Arias dropped the scalpel.

---

The next team came down gazing at the whirling star. They settled into the dust next to Captain Eyerman's craft. It was a husk now, with its wings chewed by the desert winds. In the night, the forward team saw a heaving shape. A brute with eight arms, eyeless and naked. Their onboard medic performed the study. The morphology was eerily familiar but the organs were blooming. There was a dogtag chained through the muscle of its chest. It was pitted, eaten away by sand and wind and time. Physician: Arias.

1061 words

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


IN sweet prompt

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Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


A bottle story, 922 words

His Same Story

Through the glass, Detective Cardenas made his second run at Allan Gold. Doctor Campos watched.

The Detective's eyes were neon and grainy. His brain boiled. He and Mr. Gold had just come off a loop. In Campos' words, 'You go in new every time.'

Mr. Gold was shackled to the chair, the cables looped again to the table. He was shaking, but his face was composed.

Detective Cardenas flipped through the file with Campos' eyes hot on his back. Two murders. His wife and daughter, burnt up in a fire he set at home. Cardenas' headache intensified and his right eye throbbed. His lid jerked. He'd read the file in the last interview, but he couldn't remember anything after the Loop. A fresh set of eyes, but the same eyes, every time.

"Mr. Gold? You don't have an alibi for that night. Insurance policies on both your wife and daughter. Not old ones, either." Cardenas was stiff and awkward, parroting a TV cop.

Gold snarled, near-frothing. "What's that supposed to mean? I had a life, a family, and someone burned it all down. You're after me?"

Detective Cardenas was jolted from his 'sleepy-cop' act. "Tell me about that night, then, Mr. Gold."

Gold started speaking. Cardenas paraphrased it in his notebook:

'Woke to smell of smoke. Wasn't sleeping with his wife. His coughing woke the family, low smoke. Had been fighting with his wife, daughter heard it. Doesn't know what started the burn. Called upstairs, where quote 'his girls' were sleeping. Saw fire all over the staircase. Ran from house, called police twenty min. later. States he was in shock.'

Cardenas leaned close and spoke. "You have anything else to say here, Mr. Gold? The report says that there was just a little accelerant on your pants when they found you. Gasoline."

Gold was incredulous.

Your neighbor was drinking on his porch. He saw you, I quote, 'Spilling gasoline'." Cardenas closed the file. "You told him that you were filling up your mower. At 11 PM."

Gold snarled. "Oh, you're gonna bring that? That?! My wife was going to garden in the morning. I didn't want to pour gasoline. It stinks. She says it hurts the plants."

Cardenas was at a loss. There wasn't enough information about his wife in the dossier. he was tapped out and he stammered. "What can you tell me about Mrs. Gold?"

Allan Gold was indignant. "You want me to tell you about my wife?! You're supposed to be finding out who burned our loving house down!"

Gold turned his head to the side and ignored Cardenas. The detective was beaten.

Cardenas tapped the table three times. Within thirty seconds, Mr. Golds' eyes drooped. He slumped hard over the interrogation table. Then, Cardenas felt the loop.

The Detective's vision glazed and ebbed, his tongue dried, his pupils went into pinpoints. Campos, watching through the glass, waited a minute. Allan Gold laid motionless. Then, Campos strode in and shook Cardenas hard for loop 3.

---

Cardenas woke up in a chair on blue side of the glass. "You've been in a loop, Detective Cardenas. If you think hard, you know about this. This is your third loop, your third run at Mr. Gold."

Campos continued.

"You go in new every time."

Cardenas scratched around his eyebrows. His headache intensified. Campos spoke louder. "Detective! New Case!" At this, Cardenas snapped to attention. He was okay. There was a fresh suspect in the interrogation room and Campos pointed to him.

Campos spoke as Cardenas reeled. "Our project, Cardenas. We rewound you. Both of you and everything else. As of sixty seconds ago, the man in that room has never met you and you've never met him. We won't leave until we get his confession." Campos guided Cardenas to a thin manila file in a thick, identical pile.

"Allan Gold. Catch him in a lie, something only we know. Remember: tap three times if you're stuck, or if you have something. New loop, tap three times."

Cardenas didn't like that. He wasn't green. He was a detective. That wasn't advice for a detective. Rewound? Yes, rewound. A reset if he couldn't break the suspect, or if the suspect broke him.

---

The Sixth loop, the sixth briefing from Campos, the sixth read of Gold's file and Cardenas was burning. Campos' advice. His slow-roasting head. Allan. Tap three times.

Cardenas slurred as he spoke. "Hello, Mr. Gold". Gold was also in the late stages of drug stupor. Cardenas interpreted the file out loud. "Looks like you woke up to smoke, that was your report. You know, it'll stain your fingers. Marlboros?" Cardenas chuckled.

Mr. Gold stiffened and spoke. "No, not Marlboros. I don't smoke Marlboros."

Cardenas chuckled sleepily. "That's right. Can't stand Marlboros. Too much leaf. Newports. I smoke Newports." Cardenas laughed to himself and Gold looked for Campos behind the mirror glass. Cardenas' world swam, and Gold stood up.

Gold and Campos shared little high-fives and giddy glances.

Campos spoke first. "It was about waking up to smoke? We can tie him to the cigarette butt. You're incredible."

Doctor Gold laughed while peeling the 'wire' off of the slumbering Cardenas. "Doctor Campos, I can't believe this worked. Looping? Genius.". The false listening device drew away from Cardenas' body, exposing an inch of intravenous tubing. "What, methadone and mephedrone? A remote controlled bedtime cocktail?"

Campos tossed the drug remote onto the table and cracked a bottle of champagne with an institute-branded corkscrew.

"To continued success in the field of interrogation, Doctor Gold."

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