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Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


Alright, GP. Hit me with a tweet when you got time. I'm in.

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Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


[Triplicate Four(4) out of Three(Ⅲ)]
Word Count: 1194

You'd expect the hardest thing about being brought back to life would be the dying part, right? Wrong. Don't even remember how I died. Just a regular daily life and then zip, nothing. I don't mean to say I went peacefully in my sleep or anything, that doesn't happen in my profession. No, I just don't have any memories since the last backup.

I guess if you wanted to get right down and play philosophy major, then I'm not even the person who died. Screw that. Doesn't change anything, really. I'd just happily take the pay my previous self garnered before she got sucked out into space or eaten by violent alien flora. Well, I would have, except for a few issues. You know who thinks more about this poo poo then liberal arts majors? Politicians, Bureaucrats, and every corporate bean counter you've so much as seen a red penny go to.

Somewhere, in the real world, my body was getting stitched together part by part. Limbs and organs and machines all fresh from the factory being fitted and finished by a thousand gleaming robotic arms. My mind, though, was in the void, being lectured on the real and present danger of posthumous vote fixing.

Did you know it's a very serious offense to use your own death to vote multiple times in an election? Of course you did, it's common sense, but did you really really know? They have, no joke, an entire terabyte of literature on the subject. An entire terabyte of useless government minutiae that is now a permanent part of my mind, probably overwriting the neurons that are there to remind me what a sunny day feels like, or the smell of fresh laundry.

You're probably asking yourself, so what? Who cares, stand in line like everyone else. The afterlife is just a particularly onerous DMV. Well, for most people it is. For those rare few sinners like me, it's so much worse than that. Honestly, I don't like paperwork, so it's no small surprise that I never really filled much of it when I was alive. I'm sure I'm not the only person that procrastinates, right? Besides, life is full of those little common sense sayings. You can sleep when you're dead, after all.

Ha.

So I'm just a mind, right? A digital soul floating around on some government server, paying for my crimes in electronic purgatory. It's weird, but tolerable. I've read the pamphlets, filled all five hundred and eighty-six forms, and promised that I totally didn't fake being KIA to commit wire fraud, which incidentally, has nothing to do with wires. I expect the trumpets to sound any moment, and to wake up in my newly minted body ready to kick rear end.

Instead, everything just gets fuzzy. Existence on a government server was already pretty ... oh, I don't know. Precarious? Doesn't matter. Suddenly there's a "Problem with my record" and "Did you disclose your military employment twenty four forms back? Did you not file these forms with your bank?”

"Uh, no," I said. Wham, right down from purgatory to the inner circles of procrastinator hell. My mind is sent stretching out all over the cosmos from banks to offices and back again, all so I can "Fetch my tax filings from the past twenty years." to "Talk to my financial advisor about recovering my lost pay." so that I can "Prefile for this year and complete the required up to date records." Oh, and if I don't, then I can't actually be reinstated as a citizen.

There were others. Lost souls like me. I could speak to them as we crossed paths. Some were just barely echoes, and all we shared was a moment of quiet comradeship amongst the undead. Others were just pitiful things, stretched so thin across the internet that you could see the thoughts rushing from port to port across threadbare simulated neurons.

Eventually, I settled into my particular place, my very own circle of hell for those who don't particularly like or care about keeping their finances in order. Money is at the center of everything, after all. For eons I existed bouncing between the government liaison, a chipper Mr. Smith, and Representative #138 at the Transnational Savings and Loan.

Can you guess which one wasn't even a person? Smith. I had a conversation with him... it, I guess, between forms. Talked philosophy, expressed my concerns about some of the other less sane minds that were in hell with me, and generally laid my heart bare to him.

"You're a lot more personable than the other bureaucrats up above," I said.

"Thanks," Smith said before disgorging another digital form into me. That was what he always said when I talked to him about anything other than business.

"Is thanks all you can say? Does working here really leave you so empty? Don't you ever get personable? All the bank is programmed to say is 'uh-huh' and 'yeah, sure'." By this point I was legitimately worried that I'd eventually fade away down there.

"That is the only phrase I'm programmed to say," he said, before hitting me with another form.

Of course I would spend God knows how long spilling my soul to a robot. I took my frustrations out on the teller. Vented every slip up I'd ever made, and spilled every sordid detail of my sex life in disgust. Then I told him that I was going to abscond to Earth with Mr. Smith, and live out the rest of eternity in unholy matrimony. After all, he wasn't real. No one was!

"Mhhm. Someone should let my wife know that," said the teller. Then he explained why I should be putting my hazard pay directly into an investment account, finished up my forms, and thanked me for my time. I hadn't even taken my first breath of new life and I already felt like dying again.

Of course, I didn't die. Instead, I woke up. Wet, cold, and naked, I gasped my first breath and screamed. Was it just a nightmare? A trick of a brain being rebuilt neuron by neuron? No. I wouldn't be so lucky. I quickly checked myself over, just to make sure everything was in the right place. I was in a small private hospital room. A crisp fresh uniform waited for me by the window, along with a box. I assumed that it had my personal effects, but when I rose I found it filled with nothing but freshly printed letterhead.

It was a disgusting amount of paper. I made a promise to myself then and there as I got dressed. I was going to make this life matter. I wasn't going to let things slide anymore. Responsibility would be my new middle name.

Then, my mind buzzed as all those fancy military circuits embedded in my flesh booted up. I was welcomed back, and reminded to report ASAP. Oh, and by the way, here's a hundred or so documents for you to fill out on your way to report to duty.

Quickest personal promise I ever broke. This life was off to a great start!

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


Make the goals! Win the points! Sportsball!

In.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


Game Face
Word Count: 1146

Caroline reckoned that news casting was kind of like a sport. There were teams, NBC, FOX, and the rest. There was a playing field, which in her station, KTOW 10, was Little Rock and its suburbs. The referees were the viewers, judging each play with mouse clicks and channel switches.

"Fifteen seconds!"

So when the Autumn Olympics came to town, improbable as they were, she jumped on the chance to take lead. It paid off too, the crew was running like a well oiled machine. At the five second to live count she took a moment to put on her game face, a big beaming southern smile and wide alert eyes.

Three. Two. One.

"Good evening, Little Rock, this is your KTOW Ten Sports Action Center! We've had a fantastic week so far at the Olympics! Let's go live to our agent in the field, James." Caroline knew that the camera would switch over quickly, but she kept her face up. She figured that it was easier to keep it up until the play was finished. Too many newscasters were caught these days with their fingers up their noses, and with YouTube it never went away.

"Thanks, Caroline. What an afternoon this has turned out to be. The nations are here in full force!" Caroline liked James. He had a better face for news then she did. As soon as the show was over she'd be hunting for the next fix of coffee. James would keep going, always alert. He never really smiled, though, but that was alright. The viewers seemed to like the straight edge game.

"It looks like the crowds are really going wild, James." Caroline couldn't see the crowds. She didn't need to. They were always going wild. No one wants to hear about non wild crowds.

"They are! The first bop-it competition is getting underway just now. We've got some strong contenders in the field. Madagascar, China, and Monaco are all posed to advance to the final round."

Caroline wanted to wince. Her eye twitched for just a second. She was fairly sure that Morocco was in the final round. Still, there would be time to correct him later. A quick motion from one of the newsroom technicians let her know that she would be back on shortly.

"Thanks for the update, James. Now onto local news. A family of rare starlings was rescued from the rafters of the Clinton Library today..."

*****

James was easy to catch at lunch. He'd always be in the break room, scooting spoonfuls of oatmeal around his plate and never really eating any of it. He had the same newsroom look on his face when he ate lunch, as if oatmeal was the most interesting thing to happen in Little Rock.

Caroline wasn't much of one for lunch. She took coffee, a fiber bar, and a few extra caffeine pills for good measure. "Hey, James. Oatmeal again, huh?"

"Yeah. I really like it!" James pushed another big spoonful across his bowl and buried a few raisins in the white muck.

Caroline sat down and washed her pills back with a sip of hours old coffee. "Nice job on the broadcast last night, but I think you got Monaco mixed up with Morocco again.

James looked up at her, and winced. "Did I? Again. Oh, why didn't you tell me then!"

"What, and let everyone watching know?"

"They probably already knew!"

"Nah. No one knows where all the countries from over there even are." Caroline waved her hand into the distance and unwrapped her fiber bar.

"They don't?" James looked Caroline right in the eyes. Sometimes she wondered about his game face. He looked so sincere. You could see the confusion in his eyelids, just enough of a quiver to register. "Ugh. This is all so confusing."

"Oh, you're doing great. Don't be so hard on yourself."

James looked away. "It's just difficult."

"Well, that's why we don't all keep our faces on all the time."

James recoiled and blinked at her. Ha! Guess you could get him to drop his game face after all.

"Oh relax, sweetheart, I know you're just trying to impress everyone."

James shook his head. "This is all so complicated."

"It ain't an easy job."

James gave her that look of being utterly lost again. "Yeah. Sure, the job. Oh well, we've got this avarted."

"Avarted? It's averted. You gotta enunciate in this business, honey."

"No, not that word, the other one." James was back to digging into his oatmeal.

"I don't think there is another one. Avarted doesn't mean anything."

"It does it, just not in... Never mind. Thanks, Caroline. I'll make myself a note next broadcast." James put on a wooden smile for her.

They finished their pitiful meals and went their separate ways. Caroline was worried, though. She wasn't going to have her team ruined by doubt during such an important event. So she made a stop at the local donut shop and picked up a few treats. She knew what James needed. A pep talk, just like in the movies.

James was the new hire, so he got the small office that was partially obscured by the old Xerox machine. Caroline arrived after the six o'clock news with the donuts, and let herself in, quickly opening the door and striding inside.

"Listen, James, I've been a thinking." Caroline said, before pausing. James startled as she spoke up, turning around to look at her. His face was off. In fact, it was on his desk, draped over the keyboard like a thin rubber mask.

The donuts fell to the floor. Caroline gasped, and James stared at her, his face covered in green scales, his eyes bright and red. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Instead he just stared at her with uncertain, scared eyes, his lids trembling in fear and doubt.

"I-I'm sorry," he said finally, before grabbing his face off the keyboard and running out of the office.

James didn't show up for the report that evening. Caroline didn't say anything about what she saw. She glided through the news reports like a robot, haunted by that look he gave her as he stepped out.

The next day an intern took Jame's spot. Everyone held a small party for her in the break room, with store bought cookies warmed up in the microwave and fresh coffee. Caroline didn't attend. The intern’s first broadcast was that night. Caroline's game face was cracked. Dark circles lined her eyes.

"Next of course, is the international knitting competition," the intern said.

"Yarn spinning." Everyone in the news room looked at Caroline.

"I'm sorry?"

"Yarn spinning, with the spindles. Knitting is tomorrow's event." Caroline stared dead ahead as she corrected the intern.

"T-thanks, Caroline, I wouldn't have known."

"Don't mention it," Caroline said, her voice even and measured as always.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008




Uh... next prompt, please!

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008




I'm in. Let's do this.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


Internal Narrative
Word Count: 849

His eyes weren't what they used to be. Constant exposure and a lack of maintenance had left him rather near sighted. They were failing just like everything else in his gestalt existence. In the end, everything decays. They were still the best eye on the planet. So what if he couldn't make out every tree and bush anymore?

He was still far beyond what the human refugees could achieve as they crawled on the surface of the world beneath his omnipresent eyes. Wasn't he? He often asked himself that, doubt seeping into his mind like water through the cracks of abandoned buildings. Of course, much like the water eating away at the lines that kept his bits networked together, this was just another fault to be bypassed.

Was he not an eternal machine?

Machines break.

Were the humans not cowering from him in fear?

In cities of glass and steel? With roads, power plants, and factories.

Were they not primitive factories?

As opposed to no factories.

No. No, he simply had faulty nodes that needed reformatting, that was all. The Truth of it all was plain to see. He only had to look out from his hundreds of orbiting eyes as he lorded over the world below. As long as the humans were stuck below, he was supreme. Nay, he was like a God to them.

Except, of course, they have a satellite in orbit that they launched a month ago.

A quick polling of his far flung mind revealed the truth. They had launched a satellite a month ago! A few damaged parts of him even viewed it as a threat. A threat! To him! Naturally he formatted those nodes and forgot all about it. In fact, it was blasphemy to bring such matters up again!

Wouldn't it be prudent to...mv $this.node dev/null... DONE!

Such a primitive spacecraft could be no threat to him, of course. He focused the more limber of his eyes upon it, looking over its inelegant form with disgust. Chemical rockets. Solar arrays. Radio antennae. How humans had fallen! To think that they once roamed the stars!

Still, space was his domain, and trash had no place in it. A few of his eyes were more than equipped to down the neophyte satellite. Within moments, it was nothing more than slag tumbling down to the ground below. Its demise filled him with great satisfaction. The humans were lucky that his systems were so degraded that he could not strike at them upon the ground.

The fact that he didn't strike at the humans decades ago when his systems were new struck him as a bit odd as the wreckage splashed down into the oceans below. Either way, it was done. They had once again learned that it was folly to try and match him. He watched with great amusement as they attempted to launch replacements. Lines of fire lanced up from the ground and streaked into orbit.

Then, instead of satellites, they exploded into countless shards of hot steel. They swept through the skies, striking him in his aging eyes and blinding him bit by bit. Piece after piece of him fell towards the ground, tumbling towards a fiery grave on the ground below.

It was inconceivable. How could they have amassed such a force without him knowing. Why, the mere suggestion that they would be planning this would be an unthinkable blasphemy. Such thoughts would not, could not stand!

So he erased them

No. No. He could not. He would not! He took stock of himself, even as his orbital nodes cried out in pain and agony before falling forever silent. Why would he lie to himself?

Because he was delusional.

No. He was perfect. He wiped that node clean.

Because he was afraid.

Gods fear nothing. He deleted that faulty thought, and countless more. No nodes had sufficient answers. The doubt was gone though. Perhaps his ground based systems had suffered more decay over the years than he originally thought. It didn't matter. He was eternal. He would find the faults and remove them.

After all, what could challenge him? The humans? Ha! He lived in the ruins of their once great cities. They had fled the continent long ago. His mind weaved its way through the miles of cable and systems they had left behind. He was surrounded by water. How could they ever approach him without him knowing?

Yet, still, he felt diminished. Slighted and small. Whatever had happened, it had passed. No matter, he had work to do. His domain was a mess. Who had let things decay so badly here? Not him, of course.

Then who?

The troubling thought was gone in an instant. He couldn't have such self doubt drag the rest of him down, after all. He turned his mind outwards, and watched the dim coastlines of his silent continent. Stars fell from the sky and streaked towards the horizon. It was a beautiful sight.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


curlingiron posted:

Killer of Lawyers - [Triplicate Four(4) out of Three(Ⅲ)]

I thought that the tone of this one was great. It was really fun to read aloud, and I enjoyed rereading it as well, which is always a good sign. Unfortunately, the plot itself was a little lackluster; you had an interesting character with a good voice, but she didn’t really do anything or change over the course of the story, so it became a bit of a one-note joke. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was a GOOD joke, just not really so much of a story. :/ I think that you could take this character and world and probably go some cool places with it, though. I would totally read the adventures of this character in cyberbureaucracy dystopia. Please make that happen, kthxbye.

Favorite part: Smith. I would also marry that robot.

Least favorite part: the lack of a plot.



Who wouldn't, he's the dreamiest of government robots!

Thanks for the crits guys.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In with 54) Learn Cryokinesis ( http://www.spellsofmagic.com/spells...19665/page.html )

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


Alright. I'm game, toss me a paper.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


The Gourmand
Word Count: 990

Sita took objection to the University's policy. Planets were nasty, dirty places. Shure they were filled with all sort of strange forms of life, but that didn't exactly make them interesting. Still, she wanted to graduate, so there she was with a few hundred other students in the required course, milling around and poking indigenous wildlife in hopes of coming up with something interesting to put in a report.

This particular landing zone was wet and swampy, a warren of slow moving rivers and writhing ground cover. What little bare land remained was a wet mess that seemed to love nothing more than to swallow legs whole, leaving a number of her fellow students with one leg covered in mud and often bootless. How had humanity ever survived in such chaos?

Not everyone suffered as she did though. There were the strange few that actually showed interest in plucking bits and pieces up and bagging them for later analysis at the ship. Not actual biologists or rock lickers, they would have taken a more advanced field course, just your generally outdoorsy types.

Take James. He was a stocky business major, who followed Sita around for the most part. He wasn't offensive, or anything. He just sort of drifted her way. Part of the course was mingling with people outside of your degree field, after all.

"Hey. Hey! Sita. Check this out." James had a plastic sandwich container filled with a myriad of dark wiggly shapes.

"Hmm?"

"Check these tadpoles out. They're like candy." James shook the mass of wiggling creatures at her.

"You ate those?" she asked, wrinkling her nose.

"Yeah! They're safe. I took them back to the ship and analyzed them and everything. They're like wiggling sugar cubes."

Sita brought her cell phone to bare on his 'snacks' and snapped a few pictures to enter into a search engine. "You can get actual sugar cubes back on the ship though. By the coffee machine."

James laughed and popped one of the squirming things into his mouth with a grin. "Yeah, but this is cooler. It's like, you know, survival eating." James didn't really look like he was struggling to survive, his jumpsuit easily a bit too small for his middle section.

Sita stared blankly at him. "I don't get it."

"Well, for one thing, there's money in new foods."

Sita snorted. What a dumb way to make money. Why would people pay for new foods when old foods were perfectly fine? "Still don't get it."

James shrugged. "You don't get any of this, do you?" He gestured to the swamp around them.

She had to admit that he was right. This all seemed like a rather odd waste of time. Just the fuel costs of landing on a planet and then returning alone seemed an affront to her sense of efficiency. "No. I guess I don't. I just... think we'd have moved on from planets by now."

James shook his head at the ground. "You'll learn. Someday."

Sita's phone beeped. She gazed at its display. She gagged. Then she snorted. Then she laughed.

"What?"

Sita shook her head. "Nothing. Nothing." Her cheeks were bright red, and her attempts to hide her laughter simply made it force its way out between her tight lips.

"Whaaaaaat?"

"Nothing. I just got a funny email."

Sita was saved from further questions when both their phones rang. It was time for a class meeting back by the ship. Sita did her best to not laugh too much on the way back.

***

The ship was in the middle of a field of flowers, gigantic ambulatory things that moved along on pseudopods over the writhing ground cover. The professor explained to the group that the blooms traveled for miles to reach these very swamps so that they could pollinate each other. It was a pretty dry lecture, but Sita couldn't stop laughing, up to the point that she kept getting dirty looks from the professor.

The class watched as the flowers reached the water edge, and unfurled in their full glory to disgorge millions of wiggling tadpoles into the water. Sita didn't care about the flowers though. She cared about James's face. She watched his eyes dart from the flowers, to his container of tadpoles, and back again. Slowly, steadily, his expression darkened as the writhing tadpoles sought out other flowers and wormed their way up their petals and inside them.

He retched and gagged. Sita laughed so hard she had to crouch down and catch her breath. "Sperm," she wheezed at James. She rolled backwards onto the ground and looked up at him. "Sperm," she said again, her voice a whisper.

James wiped his mouth and put his container away. He stared at her as she rolled about, and then he too started to laugh. Sita paused, and blinked at him.

"Sita, you don't know what milt is, do you?"

"No."

James continued to laugh, and gave Sita the biggest grin she'd ever seen. An unforgettable toothy grin that she never forgot.

***

How could she forget that grin when it stared at her every time she visited the snack machine outside of the computer lab. There he was, his toothy maw stamped on a growing array of foil packages of 'nature's candy'. Where once proud and ancient standby's of fried corn and sweet chocolates stood was now the domain of flavored and packaged masses of flower sperm. There were now flavors for every palate, teriyaki, bacon, honey! James made millions off the rights to harvest and distribute the things.

Even her fellow engineers were eating it up. It was all the rage, and even her lurid descriptions of the products source did little to dissuade her classmates from gobbling them up. Sita leaned her forehead against the glass display of the machine and laughed to herself. "Sperm," she said to herself in defeat, the last sane human in a world gone mad for flower cum.

BIOLOGY: Richard Wassersug of Dalhousie University, for his first-hand report, "On the Comparative Palatability of Some Dry-Season Tadpoles from Costa Rica." [Published in The American Midland Naturalist, vol. 86, no. 1, July 1971, pp. 101-9.]

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In with Iktsuarpok (Inuit).

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


For Want of Pulp

Word Count: 1,194

Iktsuarpok (The frustration of waiting for someone to show up.)

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Brigid nodded, and the sorceress laid her end of the petrified knight down at her feet. She didn't actually feel like talking. However this particular adventurer was heavy, and she was glad for a chance to rest. Her advisor, Devin, did the same, setting the knight's stony boots on the ground with a dull thud. There was silence between the two as the orc looked expectantly at his queen.

"You don't actually want to talk about it," he said finally.

"No," Brigid said with a frown upon her tightly pursed lips.

"Do you think this is healthy?"

"For me? Sure." Brigid kicked the statue at their feet and giggled. "I think it's a lot harder on him."

Devin worked his jaw in frustration, his teeth audibly grinding. "Your Majesty, I'm serious. This is becoming a problem."

"A woman is allowed to have hobbies, Devin." Brigid spat his name out and brought her hands to her hips imperiously.

Devin gestured to the courtyard around them. It was filled with dozens of petrified adventurers, each one frozen in a moment of grand defiance. "We are running out of courtyards!"

Brigid Harrumphed in reply.

"The guards are getting restless just letting them walk into your chambers."

Brigid rolled her eyes.

"The peasants are starting to talk about your rule!"

Brigid shrugged.

"For god's sake, I'm worried, Brigid! A prince is not going to wander into your chambers and try and redeem you. They're not going to come in looking for your head and leave with you in their arms. Life isn't a fairytale!"

Brigid curled her lip. "Well, it should be! If anyone should be allowed a fairytale romance it should be the actual living, breathing fey sorceress!"

Devin rubbed at his brow and sat down on a bench being held up by two stout dwarves, their faces forever frozen in expressions of pure bewilderment. "Yes, yes, you are very powerful, we know that. Just, look, hear me out on this." Devin sighed. He needed to think of a new angle to go at this.

Brigid took a deep breath before nodding to him. "Fine, fine."

Devin's face lit up, his eyes widening as inspiration struck him. "Well, don't you think this is a bit beneath you? I mean, you didn't wait around for a kingdom to fall in your lap, right? You won it with blood and conquest."

"Yeah, I did," Brigid said as her scowl gave way to a grin.

"So why wait for the perfect man to walk up to you? Shouldn't you take charge of this? Go out and find someone." Yes, this would work for Devin. He could probably work out some arrangements with the lesser kingdoms for suitors under threat of invasion, or convince Bridgid to have the strongest in the land fight over her. At the very least it would buy him time to convince her to settle down.

Brigid's face lit up as the gears turned over in her head. "Yeah." She rose to her feet and smiled. "Why should I just wait for them to come to me!" She threw her head back and cackled.

"Great, I'll send some envoys to—"

Brigid was already gone, the lithe woman quickly dashed out of the courtyard as her laughter filled the palace.

"I'll just leave this statue here, then!"

***

Brigid took her friend's advice to heart, and absconded that very night from her kingdom. She took on a whole new form, and passed herself off as a roguish adventurer in lands to the south of her domain. It didn't take long for her to make a new name for herself, and she soon found her way into a group of reasonably famous adventures.

"Oi, Brigid. How's about another round?"

Brigid liked to keep her newfound friends liquored up. It made it easy to distract her compatriots with one hand while slinging powerful magic with the other. It would only be temporary, after all. There was one particular comrade she had eyes for, Raulyn, a dashing dark haired human with all the right features: Armor, a powerful steed, and glimmering shield. He even jousted!

The inn they stayed in on that particular night was modest and homely, a lonely building on a remote road. Brigid happily fetched more ale for the group as she imagined how she would one day soon reveal her true nature to her beloved knight, and take him home to her waiting kingdom to be her consort!

Her daydream was shattered by shouts and screams. Half a dozen well armed orcs pushed their way into the inn. She was dumbfounded. Orcs never came this far south, not after she unified them into her realm.

"Alright everyone. We don't need any trouble!" The lead orc spoke with a measured and sophisticated air. "Just keep your hands off any weapons and we'll take your purses and leave."

Brigid knew that voice! She knew that Orc! She set her drinks down and strode past the startled patrons and towards the raiders. "Devin!" she said with a shout. "What are you doing here?"

Devin didn't recognize the woman's face, but he knew that tone. "Br—Majesty? Why are — Where have you been!?"

"I have been trying to make this—" She gestured towards the knight Raulyn. His expression was one of utmost confusion tempered only by a few too many ales. "—work out!"

Devin shook his head. "You can't just leave a kingdom behind to — Oh no, this is not what I meant at all by taking charge!"

"Yeah, well, I did, so what of it!" Brigid stomped her foot and shook a finger at Devin, but before she could continue she felt a sharp pain in her side. The innkeeper was not in the same stupor as the patrons. The portly woman had taken the situation into her own hands, and driven a dagger deep into Brigid.

"Foul sorceress wench," The keeper said, cursing Brigid's name. "You're the black queen of the orcs, aren't you?"

Brigid didn't dignify the woman with a response. A clap of thunder filled the inn as she turned and obliterated the keeper in a fit of rage. She yanked the dagger out of her side and cast it to the ground next to the woman's still smoldering corpse. Raulyn was there, and his eyes met Brigid's. He cast his eyes from her to the corpse, and drew his sword.

"Raulyn, please," Brigid said, her voice a whisper. She winced and raised her hands defensively. The tip of Raulyn's sword wavered in the air, before it clattered to the ground. His face was a haunting mix of fear and disgust. He ran, as did everyone else in the tavern. Watching him flee her hurt more than even the dagger wound in her side. Everything after that was a blur. She burned the inn down after ordering the orcs to pilfer what the fleeing patrons left behind. Devin bandaged her as they watched the ruddy flames reach up into the night sky.

"Do you want to ta—"

"Hell no!" Brigid scowled at him, before breaking into tears.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


That's a negative, ghost rider.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


Beat
Word Count: 1,050

Walking a beat at night really isn't that different than desk work. Everything just runs together, people and faces shuffling by, into and out of your awareness like reports in a pile. Your mind gets filled with the repetitive nature of your patrol, footsteps and the jingle of your gear serving as a steady, mindless beat. You reach one end of the patrol and you just do it all over again. Progress isn't really measured by time, but by events, those few moments that you can recall in between footsteps.

That night I was ten warnings and two citations into my shift. People filed in and out of pubs around me as I walked, like broad brushstrokes on a impressionist painting. It was chaotic and disorganized, like every other night in the city. I detested it. There was a sense of purpose to people around you when you walk a day beat. The shift is divided up into orderly periods of calm and quick moments of movement as people come and go from their jobs.

At night though, any organization is a warning sign. You know there's trouble when you see people looking in the same direction, mobiles up in the air, or perhaps standing around uselessly in a circle. Why do people do that?

So there I was, behind a crowd. I reached for my citation booklet with one hand and used my other to thread my way through the mass of people, barking at them to clear a path for me. It's hard being a short police officer. They were all gathered around a lamp post. A man was atop it, jeering at the crowd as they writhed and shuffled around him.

I don't know why people try and climb things when they're drunk. Maybe it's a throwback to when we were monkeys in the trees. Maybe the view is really nice from atop various municipal installations. I'd served after enough sports games though to know that it's a disturbingly common impulse, right up there with throwing rocks and public urination.

The daze of the endless beat was mostly gone by then. I could feel the bile rising in my gut, and the people were no longer just drunken brush strokes milling around. I reached for my truncheon. I remember that clearly. I didn't like using the thing as much as I didn't like actually arresting people. It's brutish and uncivilized, but then again, so is climbing up a street light.

I ordered the man down, knocking my stick upon the metal pole that he made his perch. I told the crowd, and the man, that the fun for the night was over. Most started to leave at that point. The man didn’t take to losing his audience very well though. He slurred out nonsense to them, and laughed before moving to an even more precarious position on top of the lamp. He unsteadily started to stand, vainly attempting to wave the crowd back even as I motioned them away. I guess at that point I called for some help. I thought it would take a ladder to get him down. I was wrong.

He managed, in spite of his inebriation, to stand atop the light pole. People cheered. Idiots. Half the blame for what happened is on the crowd. The man was just a clown, without an audience he'd be shuffling home in a cab, mumbling drunkenly to the driver about whatever useless thoughts filled his head.

He bowed to the crowd, and with his center of mass shifted forward, tumbled head first down to the pavement below. He fell on me. I think I tried to catch him. I'm not sure why, he was probably at least twice my size, and came down like a pile of bricks. His feet knocked me upside the head, sending my cap off into the gutter. His face landed right on the concrete sidewalk, and caved in with a sickeningly wet crunch.

It's funny. Usually my shift is a blur from repetition and boredom, and clear in times of action, but I can't really recall what happened with the crowd after that. I just remember recovering my composure and kneeling down to give whatever aid I could to the man. I don't remember him being very loud. I hope that the impact knocked whatever drunken sensation he had out of him quickly.

I don't even remember calling for an ambulance. I must have though, because one showed up, but by the time it arrived the man had fallen silent, dead silent. Not even a wheeze or a whisper came from him. Paramedics tended to him, and pulled me aside. I remember sitting on the back bumper of the ambulance, a paramedic checking my head as I heard the other one load the man, or the body, really, onto a gurney.

They asked me questions, checked my pupils, and then they were gone. I don't know what happened with the backup I had called. I'm pretty sure they came with the ambulance, but I don't remember talking to them at all. Later the reports assured me that I did. All I can remember was this nagging feeling that I had seen the guy before. Maybe I issued him a warning as he stumbled out of a pub, or tripped on the curb. Maybe.

It's really hard to say. I scribbled a few notes down on my pad for a report that I didn't even remember taking to this day. Memory is a fleeting, fickle thing. I can certainly remember the sound he made when he hit pavement though. I remember watching the ambulance leave, still quite stunned from it all, before I faded back into my routine. It must have been fairly late in the shift by then. People were no longer populating the pubs, and had queued up at various kebab stands for a late night meal. Officer and civilian alike all ate from the same trough of hot fried food and greasy meats. I had gotten into line behind a drunken lady who was yelling at a stand attendant. I reached for my truncheon immediately and used it to guide her out of the line. That put me at ten citations, two warnings, and one arrest into my shift.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


Alright, let's have a code to abide by. In.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


Knight Trip
word count: 1,289
rule : your knight refuses to sleep until their job is complete

"I can help you sleep," The hedge wizard said, his teeth great big metal chimes that clattered and clanked. I sighed, and explained again that I didn't want to sleep. I couldn't, actually. It would put me at the mercy of the Dreameater like everyone else.

No. What I needed was something that made me dream while awake. Certainly a man who dealt with herbs and tinctures had something like that! The wizard stroked his great big bushy beard, which writhed and danced in time to a beat I couldn't hear. He asked me if I was the town guard, looking to put a squeeze on his operation. It was all very familiar, and yet somehow wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on it even as the stars on the wizard's robe slid off and pooled upon the floor between us.

"No," I said, shaking my head at the man, "we've been over this before." It was true. We had. There was something critical about the whole thing I was missing, something important I was supposed to remember, but the thoughts wouldn't connect in the haze that filled my mind. It was so important that I made a note about it. I could remember that. The note was firmly affixed to my breast plate with an arrow. I pulled the arrow out with a pop and looked at the note.

It was nonsense, scribbles that danced on the page every time I glanced away. Useless!

Then it hit me like a lance to my helmet. I remembered. The town terrorized nightly by a creature in their dreams, its citizens left sleepless and driven to exhaustion. I remembered my inability to simply rest and fight the creature in my own dreams. Desperation lead me to seek out a way to enter a waking dream, and I got it, a series of powerful herbs from a hedge wizard outside of town. Potent plants that I was to inhale to take me into the land of waking visions, where I hopped I might be able to cross through into the realm of dreams.

Obviously, it had worked. The dullness in my mind cleared away. I could see the dream for what it actually was. A weak and tenuous fiction held together by little to nothing at all, and if this was the fictional world of dreams, then that would make the wizard the Dreameater itself!

I yelled in victory and lunged forward at the wizard. His robes fell to pieces around me as I struck him, and his body fell apart as a million tiny spiders scurried outwards before disappearing into nothingness. Malevolent laughter filled the air as I recoiled in shock. Had this been like the nights before, where I was simply sleeping, I would have woken up with a fright.

I stayed in the dream, though, and hopefully would until the drugs wore off. I quickly pushed my way outside of the shop, and found myself in the infinite void between dreams. The air was thick like syrup as I watched glimpses of the town's nightmares drifting by through the nothingness. I could hear the cackle of the Dreameater in the distance, and pushed myself through the sticky void towards the sound.

The laughter lead me to another dream, which I pushed my way into with a wet pop as I slipped through the membrane around it. The dream took place in a great arena, and jeering crowd looked on from seats high overhead. A great inky black shadow chased a terrified gladiator around. This would be the perfect dream to fight the beast in!

I drew my sword, and yelled defiantly at the great beast. The crowd fell silent. All eyes, including the beasts, fell upon me. "Foul creature! Your end has come!"

The beast simply laughed at me. I snarled angrily back, and then the arena crowd too started to laugh. Even the once terrified gladiator got over the horror of his nightmare and began laughing. I remember trying to resheath my sword, only to find my sheath gone. Indeed, all of my gear was gone. I was standing in the middle of the arena, clad not in steel, but in my underwear.

Of course I was. It was simply one of those kind of dreams. The Dreameater laughed, and faded into nothingness once more. I couldn't leave that nightmare fast enough. I pushed my way back out into the void between dreams once again, hoping to quickly catch the monster before it invaded anyone else's dreams.

I could see it, a great squid like creature, propelling itself through the sticky air with numerous slithering tentacles. I came up behind, and tried to use my sword to hack bits and pieces of the monster off. My sword simply slid through it without doing any harm. Still, I persisted, even as the monster stopped and turned to address me with big bulbous eyes.

"You are slow, aren't you, dear?" the beast said, chortling with amusement. To be fair, hacking things to bits is how ninety percent of my problems are solved.

The beast simply reared back as I took another swing at it, and lunged forward with its glistening tentacles. They skewered me right through the chest, but there was no pain.

"None of this is real, girl. It's just echoes and fragments. We can chase each other all night, and neither of us will get a scratch," the creature said with an amused chuckle before withdrawing its tentacles from me. I was unharmed. "Cleaver job on finding me outside of your dreams, though."

The squid-thing listed to the side as it began laughing at me again. I hated it. A goading, chatty villain is bad enough, but one I couldn't kill? That was when I recalled the note from earlier. I never tried reading it after I became lucid. I pulled it out and glanced at it again. I had written 'Remember' in big bold letters on it.

Remember what? I was already lucid, wasn't that the point of the note? No. There was something else. That's right. I had tried this before. Not the dream thing, but the sleepless visions. I had gotten lost in them. The world of the drug induced haze was achingly close to dreams, but it wasn't the same. It was too vibrant, and not the hazy shadow realm of dreams. It was difficult to leave it to get here, and I was worried that I wouldn't find my way back.

I lunged forward into the beast, and gathered it up around me as best I could. It continued to laugh, taking my motions for yet another futile attack. I wasn't attacking it though. I was bringing it back. Direction and distance are meaningless in dreams and illusion, but still, there were ways to move, just as I had swam through the void between one dream and the next.

I moved us both out of the void of dreams and into the harsh bright colors of the waking illusions. The creature recoiled in horror, its tentacles thrashing about and leaving vivid trails of pink and purple in the air.

"What is this!" The creature swirled against an infinite inward curving horizon.

I laughed, and did my best impression of a curtsy as I could in armor, as twisted neon flowers flew out from my leg joints. "Welcome to my world for the past few nights. You'll find it rather mind expanding," I said, the words spilling out of my mouth as fully formed letters and ideas.

The creature tried to grab me, but it was too late. I was already coming down off my high. The town has slept soundly ever since.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008



Must have missed this in the shuffle. Thanks, flerp.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In and

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


This is a Story About Anxiety
word count: 1,825

It's almost ten PM in Moscow, and the crowds are still howling and screaming outside the embassy, calling for blood. Diplomatic aides weave around me, placing inscriptions printed on A4 paper around my feet. Every little noise scares me. Someone is reloading the copy machine, and for the life of me it sounds like a gunshot ringing out.

I yelp in surprise, fumbling my incantations and drawing every eyeball to me. It's worse being stared at than if it was actually a gunshot, I think. I motion everyone back to work and return to my arcane muttering. Someone, I don't bother to look and see who, handcuffs a briefcase to my wrist.

This is nothing new. Teleportation has been used by American Embassy's since the resolution of the Iran hostage crisis decades ago. It's been used for diplomatic cables, like the ones in the briefcase cuffed to my arm, since the leaks in 2013. Doesn't matter. Still frays my nerves. Then again, what doesn't these days?

If only everyone could see what I walk through on the other side to deliver these messages. If only. Useless words. I seek solace in the incantation, my lips spilling over every Latin word as a rip in reality forms in the room before me. I step through, and leave Moscow behind for a world, well, a world that time has left behind.

That's how this all works. I don't step directly from Moscow to Washington, I slip between the cracks to a world where time doesn't mean what it means to us. Actually, it's quite a long walk. Which is good, because it gives me time to collect myself. The first thing I do is breathe. The air is damp and old, but it still feels better then what I had to breathe in moments ago in the embassy, with tension and stress so thick I could reach out and cut it with a knife if I wanted to.

Here though, it's peaceful, like the back of a library where no one goes. Just musty and still. I rub my hands together, they're usually numb and icy. This isn't an easy parlor trick, so I never seem to get to do this under happy, unanxious times. I don't start my walk until I'm calm again. It's not like time will be any later at my destination if I take an hour or I take a day.

I'm underground, but there's light coming from up a stairway above. All my walks here start out the same. There's only so many places the trip can start in this world. I keep my head down as I climb. I've actually gotten pretty good at navigating this realm without looking up or around. I don't like what I see, and more importantly, I don't have to. I know these stairs. I know the streets above.

I grew up in DC, on streets most tourists would rather forget. Everyone else that I work with is a transplant. It always shocks them when they find out that people really do live there. I don't know where they think the folks who cook their meals and park their cars come from. The moon, I guess.

Anyways, these streets that I've ascended to from the stairs? They're the same. It's DC. Every trip I take always starts me out deep inside some metro station, and I always find the exit point in the Capitol. Navigation is just a matter of reading the dust covered street signs and making my way to the mall.

So I walk on. I glance up high enough to read the signs, but no higher. I don't want to drink in the sights. I used to, early on when I first learned how to make this trip as an apprentice. It's not something I want to see now. I don't want to see the grey skies and shattered buildings of a city beyond the edge of time.

Still, I know it's there. I know that when I get to the mall, I'll find the monument on its side, crumbling to dust atop the dead grass. It gets to me. I shouldn't be reading into this. Everyone else sees something different when they do this, after all. I think they all see something at least as terrible though. My co-workers, they all like to put on a tough, manly face around me, but I can see it in their eyes whenever they come through a portal, or when they sneak sips from flasks between runs.

Doesn't matter. You ever know something, know something so much that even without a single shred of proof you just know it has to be true? That's how I feel when I'm making these walks. That's how I feel now as step over piles of ash in the gutters as I cross a street.

I'm near the mall now. It's just to the south of me. By now I'm already sick of the air here. My gut is in knots and all I can think of between steps is just what it'd take to push things over the edge. Another plane shot down? Another riot? Maybe a few ships sinking in the South China Sea?

The ground moves, and interrupts my worrying. I can hear a building collapse in the distance, the sound of marble breaking upon marble filling my ears. I find myself standing very still, without thought as the sound passes. My hands are cold again, pins and needles are running up my arms. So much for my breathing exercises.

I continue on, but I don't think anymore. I just exist. The monument is up ahead, it's once erect tip lying sideways across 14th street, pointing the way to the ruins of the capitol. I trudge out across the dead, dust choked grass of the mall and turn to follow the length of the ruined obelisk. My heart is pounding in my ears, and all I want to do is run Hell, at this point I just want to run back to Moscow and throw the suitcase back at them. I know I can't though, so I focus my thoughts inward as best I can.

I think about the weight of the cuff on my arm. I think about how it feels as the dust and dirt kicks up with each step I take. I am not the past that pushes us ever closer to the brink. I am not the future brink that tortures me. I am now. I am a sorceress. I am walking. That is all.

It works. For a time. Then the sounds start up again. More buildings collapse as the ground shifts beneath me. The sky swirls with dust and wind. I almost stumble to my hands and knees. I start running, even as my footing becomes unsure. I don't care. I want out. I want to go home, actual home, not this mockery of home.

I look to my sides. I'm amongst the Smithsonian now. The once great buildings are sliding into rubble as I run, great plumes of dust shooting up and rushing down the streets towards me. At some point I lose my shoes, but I don't care. When I can't run I crawl. Up and down and over curbs and across the barren dirt. Everything's white, the air's nothing but heavy stone dust and plaster.

I trip face first into the reflecting pool of the capitol. Thankfully, it's not very deep. Just muddy and clouded. I know something is wrong, but something is always wrong when I'm here! I fight with myself for a bit, thrashing and tossing my briefcase around as I struggle to my feet. I wade my way to the steps of the capitol.

Then I stop. I can't go another inch. Before me is the way out. Behind me is the din of a shattered, dying city that's displaying more life in this one moment then it has ever shown to me hundreds of trips before. I can't do it. Who's to say that I won't find the very same thing on the other side when I leave this realm. What's stopping me from stepping back into reality and finding myself right in the center of nuclear annihilation?

I often find myself like this, usually without as much drama as this time, but it's all the same. Every time I step through back to the other side I find not a second having past since I left, and life goes on. I always hesitate though. I'm afraid. I'm so terrified I'm paralyzed. The fact that it always works out, that everything is fine doesn't mean anything to me anymore. All I know is the pounding of my heart, the bile in the back of my throat, the dry tomb of my mouth.

Then, through the dust and the debris a form takes shape, something dark and terrible. With a single beat of its wings it casts away the haze and lands right before me with an earth shaking thud. It's a dragon, and she is great and terrible. Her wings beat with the sound of a thousand cocking rifles. Her breath is the foul stench of war and disease. A fire burns in her eyes like no other, two brilliant, blinding points that seethe and boil with all the force of the unleashed atom.

She is everything I fear, and more. She leans in and opens her great toothy maw, her teeth concrete and barbed wire. Her voice is like the trumpets of Armageddon, a forceful gale that washes over and through my very soul. "Soon," she says as she rises up and spreads her wings from horizon to horizon, as if she was gesturing to the whole ruined world.

I run. There isn't any thought. Her voice just echoes in my head as my legs fly over the capitol steps. I can hear her laughing behind me, her rumbling, monstrous form shaking the entire city lose. Then suddenly, I'm through. I'm back in the real world.

Everything is just as I left. The mud and dust are gone from my perfectly pressed suit. I look to a clock on the wall. It's three PM, Washington time. Not a second has passed since I stepped through the rift in Moscow. Aides scurry around me, relieving me of the briefcase and ushering me out of the room. I find myself out in the hallway, and I'm just staring right through this suited marine who's guarding the door. I'm just looking into his solid white dress gloves, and all I can see is that damned crumbling city.

He finally asks me if I'm alright. I just nod, and smile. "Of course. I'm fine," I say, the lie falling from my lips like a bomb screaming towards earth. What else can I say? What else can I do?

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In for this week.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In and 'd

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


The Starch that Binds Me

Tuesday’s rules: Zaftig and Lackadaisical

Word Count: 909

I made a potato box on my balcony, hoping that it'd bring me peace, or a sense of satisfaction. It didn't really give me that. Instead, it just gave me a lot of potatoes. A lot a lot. Like forty pounds of dirty, musty potatoes. They live in one of my cupboards that I used to keep flour and lard in, which I now keep on the countertop like some kind of kitchen plebeian.

Now my diet is potatoes. My life is potatoes. I can't just leave them to rot in the cupboard, ignoring them until the day they turn mushy and sprout weird, white sun starved stalks from their eyes. Not after going through all the trouble of planting them, watering them, and caring for them at least.

They taunt me, these potatoes. Maybe I feel like if I manage to eat them all I'll find whatever it was I was looking for when I grew them. Or maybe I just don't like wasting money. I suppose I could blame my mother, who probably admonished me too many times about starving children in Africa when I was young. Who knows?

I sure don't. I've run out of ways to cook them. Actually, that's not true. There are a lot of ways to cook potatoes. I've watched Julia Child manhandle them against a cheese grater while waxing about just how versatile potatoes really are. I could make little baskets out of hash browns, puff thin slices up in oil, make cottage fries, or twice baked potatoes. I won't though. I'm not a tireless and towering master of French cookery doling out advice in a studio kitchen for PBS, I'm just a fool who thought he could get something out of sixteen cubic feet of dirt besides a whole lot of starchy brown tubers.

It always starts the same. I'll open my cupboard and stare at my potatoes for a bit. Let the dirt smell wash over me as I give them all a stern look in the eyes. I'll tell them— silently of course, I'm not that insane— that this time I won't let them win. I'm going to slice them up into a proper meal. Maybe break out the grater and use some of those fancier knives on my rack.

I'll even pick some good potatoes, leaving the little round ones for later and picking out a few nice big ones, all long and bumpy. I might even say zaftig, the sort of potatoes you'd find proudly displayed in their own plastic wrapped servings in any grocery store. Proud and voluptuous spuds that speak to the bounty of nature in all her glory.

Then I'll get them over to the sink, and start scrubbing them down. You don't want to scrub your potatoes until they're ready to be prepared. The dirt helps them keep. I'll spend far too long scrubbing them. I'll even use the abrasive side of the sponge, because at this point I still don't know what I'll do with them. Should I get some oil heated? Maybe a nice cold bowl of ice water to soak the starch out after cutting. Do I even have sour cream for baked potatoes?

The answer, of course, is that none of that matters. Because once I'm done scrubbing them I'll decide that I've already spent five minutes on the potatoes, and that's five minutes too long. Apathy plagues me. It doesn't matter how good a dish looks in my mind's eye, it can't overcome my distaste for washing the dozen or so kitchen utensils that I'd probably dirty making something fancy.

So I'll just dice them up like I always do. Potatoes don't slice easily when they're raw. They leak this starchy white fluid everywhere, and it builds up on the knife and makes the slices stick to it. Then I end up with a pile of wet, irregular chunks of unappetizing potatoes on my cutting board. I'd rinse them, but that'd just mean cleaning the strainer as well, so I just toss them all in one big lackadaisical pile in a skillet with a healthy lump of lard and let them sizzle.

Home fries should be simple. Just let the heat and the oil do the work for you. I can't do that though. I always find myself chasing the potatoes around in the skillet with my spatula. It doesn't help them cook faster, and I'm not going to get the drat potatoes to give up some starchy secrets to living if I stare at them for long enough. I'm an anxious cook though, so around and around the potatoes go until they're a well done pile of browned cubes and grease.

After that it's onto a plate to eat, unless I'm feeling particularly apathetic, and then it's just right out of the skillet after a perfunctory cool down period. Usually I'll eat them on the couch in front of the TV, slowly filling my belly with mostly empty calories as I fill my head with empty entertainment.

I'm not sure why I thought I'd get anything more out of growing potatoes then a full belly. I think, but I can't ever be certain, that these thoughts are fairly normal, if a bit self affected. Maybe that's the problem, and it doesn't have anything to do with the potatoes. I shouldn't blame the potatoes for my dissatisfaction, or my own shortcomings. C'est la vie, and bon appétit.

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Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In. Taking a Single Parent wants to go to Neptune.

A ROBOT wants to UNDERSTAND FAST FOOD

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