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my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

I was super proud of Squidtentacle for joining in for the very first time last week. Although you guys scare me, I'm going to show him additional support by also trying the Thunderdome for the first time ever.

In. No crits required since I'm an idiot newperson.

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my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

The Salamander
1,160 words (sorry!)


I stood on the precipice of a smoking void. Fire came in flashes from the heart of the ashen plumes in front of me, and lapped toward me like the hot, eager tongues of a dozen predatory beasts. The scene must be impressive when viewed from a safe distance. My up close and personal perspective was too terrifying for words.

"Jim, you there? C'mon, say something." The voice prodding at me over my radio snapped me out of my paralysis. I drew a shuddering breath through my respirator before responding.

"Y-yeah...yeah, I'm here. Feet on the ground. You're sure she's in there?" It would be obvious to anyone listening to the conversation that I was looking for an excuse to abandon my mission.

"Affirmative. People saw her right here before the volcano started going nuts. I think you've got a shot at recovery, man -- there's no way she's moved." Frank sounded more confident than I felt. I shook my head as he continued, as cavalier as could be: "It'll be easy. We've done this before."

I couldn't help feeling annoyed by his attitude. "Not like this, we haven't! Let me remind you -- we're here for a salamander. Even if she stays put long enough to be grabbed, we still might go up in flames!"

Frank just laughed.

I hated him for his devil-may-care attitude, yet felt oddly grateful to him, too. Hatred was a better thing to feel than fear. It gave me the strength I needed to take the plunge. As I dove into the churning black and heat, I descended down a steep, rocky curve, and the cables connected to the back of my vest snapped tight. "Slack!" I demanded from Frank, and the tension almost immediately eased, giving me enough freedom of movement to find the crater's unstable floor.

I could hardly see a thing through my helmet's visor. Impenetrable smoke surrounded and disoriented me. After only a few minutes, I could no longer figure north from south. Was that the same fissure I'd leapt across a moment ago? Was that the same boulder I'd climbed? Even the creeping magma flows looked the same, all of them resembling oozing, black-scabbed wounds in the earth.

Frank checked in when I was too quiet for too long. "How's the O2? Your respirator keepin' up?"

I assured him I could breathe, and I could, even if it was torture. It felt like I was being cooked alive, like I was a piece of meat being turned on a spit. My fear resurged.

The ground beneath me suddenly trembled, and I went skidding toward raw red lava. Panic crushed the breath from my lungs. Not even my tether could save me; there was too much slack in the line. I dug my fingers into the ashy soil, and prayed.

I managed to stop mere inches from the blaze. My uniform's heat sensors screamed an alarm in my ears, and I could feel my helmet starting to melt. It took everything I just to get back on my feet. I called out to Frank in what sounded to me like a pathetic wheeze. "I don't think I can do this anymore! You gotta get me out, Frank. She's not -- "

It was Frank's turn to sound annoyed. "Shut up and remember the bounty, Jim. This is gonna carry us through to retirement if we're lucky, so focus up, and do your job."

Right; the bounty. It was a lot of money just to go out and rescue one lost kid, though not so much whenever you took into account that the target belonged to a mystical race of fire-starting lizards.

We'd never taken a contract from a salamander before, and there was a reason for that: it was easy to be cheated by a creature who could captivate a man's mind with a single glance. Salamanders, like most of the world's dragonids, were only civilized when it suited them. Fortunately, the mother had no interest in anything other than an honest deal.

I let my greed fuel my next footsteps in place of courage. The ungodly atmosphere still choked me, but I liked the idea of never having to do this kind of crap ever again, so I kept moving.

I found her coiled on the ground in a state of repose. The golden scales lining her serpentine body seemed to drink in the surrounding heat until they glimmered with a molten beauty. Frills and spines created a delicate defensive framework along her back and curving tail. The tail itself and her claws ended in sharp ivory. She looked like a piece of art made real.

I knew without a doubt that she'd been responsible for the volcano's sudden awakening. For all her beauty, there was a malice in her pale green eyes that I found disturbing.

"My name's Jim. Your mother sent me." I tried to sound coaxing; I think I squeaked. I'd dealt with many other magical and mundane beasts -- just nothing like this.

"Ethne." I tried her name; she snapped her teeth, and coiled tighter around herself. The volcano rumbled. "Your mother wants you to come home right now, so you understand me clearly -- I'm going to see it done." I turned my attention to my radio. "I've got her, Frank. Be ready to pull us up. Two minutes."

"Two minutes," Frank confirmed. I looked back at Ethne. She was looking back at me.

I found myself trapped under her hateful stare.

My senses switched off, and my mind went blank. For as long as I was held under that gaze, I was helpless. Ethne did to me what her mother had been too civilized to try: she brought me under her influence. I was submerged into an emotional morass that wasn't my own. Everything I felt from Ethne was alien, except for -- for --

I started to laugh.

The spell broke. My fear of my surroundings washed away. I was suddenly giddy with relief, and soft with understanding.

That wasn't malice I saw in her eyes; it was pure, adolescent petulance. Ethne wanted nothing more than to prove herself as being a capable monster who no longer required her mother's guidance and protection.

I never expected to feel anything so human from something so not. It made me remember my own youth, and the many times I'd acted out in an attempt to find my place in the world.

"I get it."

Now that we understood each other, the rest was easy. Ethne relented to the harness I rigged around her slender torso and forelegs. She let herself be lifted from the frenzied hellscape she'd created, and to be secured inside the belly of our helicopter. Frank seemed surprised by her calm behavior, but I only shrugged at his questions.

Still dizzy over my mission's odd turn, I peeled back my scorched helmet and nodded at Frank. "Take us home."

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

I was having real trouble trimming my word count. Very sorry for the first-time failure. I'm sure I'll try again next week.

I hope to receive a crit or two despite the length issue.

Also, I seek mercy from the court. Squidtentacles' post edit was totally my fault.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Thanks for the crit, Jitzu! I'll take your advice to heart.

I'm in for this week. Sounds like a fun prompt.

sebmojo posted:

Literally noone cares, just enter again and write better words this time.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

I signed up for this week, but I'm going to have to flip it into an OUT because I'm starting a new job this week that's surprisingly exhausting my brain. Sorry about that, I'll next time I can sign up or something.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Djeser posted:

Cool thanks for the tips!!

Do better next time and I'll do 18%, honey.

i don't understand your post at all

my cat is norris fucked around with this message at Aug 18, 2016 around 00:42

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Hi I'm an idiot, do I need to crit anything since I've submitted once?

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

I just meant in general.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

These are some really fun stories. I mean that in the best way.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

In with No. 72, "You Will Not Escape."

As promised with my last sign-up, consider this a .

Let's hope I can get under that word count this time.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Prompt: Capricho No. 72

Claudia and the Black Wood
1000 Words

Their voices called to her from the heart of the Black Wood.

"Never go to the Black Wood," everyone said. The warning was oft concluded in a terse whisper, as if the speaker meant to avoid attracting attention. "They'll find you, and They'll keep you."

The tiny village where Claudia lived was planted close to the Black Wood, yet not close enough to provoke whatever dangers had founded the grim mantra. That was what everyone believed, anyway. The voices proved otherwise.

Who were They, anyway? No one could provide a horrible enough definition to diminish Claudia's curiosity, so when the voices began, she didn't know why she should be afraid. She was only a little girl, after all; no more than six years old. What danger could these voices present to someone so small?

Mother's reaction was more frightening than the voices, really. Claudia asked about what she was hearing, and Mother, spurred to hysterics, tried to beat the hearing from her daughter. Father's intervention saved Claudia's life, but neither Father's love nor Mother's fear could end Their whispering. At least the assault had given Claudia a good reason to fear the voices. If Mother had reacted thus, what might someone else do?

The village priest was the first to declare Claudia damned. He came to her home at Father's behest. His holy Word and droning prayers brought comfort, at first, but as They began to understand his intentions, Their sibilant whispers ascended into a shrieking din of howling violence. Claudia could not bear the sound. It tore at her as easily as a wolf's claws would sunder the priest's soft flesh. Made afraid by what he saw in Claudia, the priest forgot his vows to heal the suffering, and -- cursing their souls to the deepest Hells -- abandoned her and her family to their Godless fates. None of them were permitted to attend services after that.

Claudia's teacher was the next to turn. Ten years old and so hounded by Their words that sleep became impossible, she'd often drift off in the midst of her lessons. Her teacher tried to shame Claudia into wakefulness, and then tried the lash, but neither tactic could surmount Claudia's exhaustion. Claudia was soon after banished from classes.

The look on her teacher's face was no less cruel than the priest's cutting words. It was an expression Claudia was coming to recognize. No matter how kind and well-mannered she behaved, she was given hatred in return. The market man shunned her from his store. The seamstress refused to spin any wool Claudia touched. Even the simple-minded goat-herder stopped speaking to Claudia, and turned his back to her when she walked past his field.

When they started throwing more than just insults at Claudia's back, Father forbade her from leaving home. She would be safer at home, he claimed, even if it meant she would have no distraction from Their voices.

It was no better at home. Mother had no tolerance for the difficulties imposed by Claudia's condition. One day, she packed her belongings in a cart, and left for Grandmother's house three villages to the east. Father was rendered distraught, and he spoke little to Claudia thereafter. His silence was terrible. In the void left behind by Father's spoiled love, Their voices found a new route into Claudia's soul and mind, and Their voices became louder than ever before.

Their whispers burrowed through her like maggots through meat.

At fifteen years old and isolated from any kind of mercy or compassion, Claudia began to understand Their words.

Come to us.

They spoke of the inimitable beauty of the Black Wood. They recited poems describing dark nights and deep peace. More than that, They sang to her a lullaby of comfort and companionship, promising to replace the aching loneliness of her life with the endless eternity of Their love.

For the first time since she was a very little girl, Claudia's curiosity about Them stirred anew.

Father -- seated at the house table, his head in his hands -- stirred enough to watch Claudia leave their small home, though not enough to try and stop her leaving. The last she saw of him was the hard shape of his weary frown lit by flickering candlelight. The image of him vanished behind the front door as it closed behind Claudia.

The ground was cool and damp beneath her bare feet. Twigs, pebbles, and cobblestones should have made her journey inelegant and painful, yet she traveled immune to any obstacle no matter how large, as if Their voices wrapped her body in unassailable armor. She drifted through the dark village, seeing but not caring for the landmarks of her life. The school. The shop. The church. The cart that had taken Mother away. She'd so badly wanted to be accepted by the life the village promised.

The spurning and hatred she'd gotten instead no longer seemed so painful.

No one stopped her on the road; everyone was asleep. Nothing blocked her path; Their promises kept it clear. The Black Wood loomed before her, and, unafraid, Claudia stepped into its midst, surrendering to the great darkness that awaited.

She felt Their wings stir the wind. They surrounded her, Their claws tugging at her hands and the skirt of her nightgown, pulling her along with the impatient excitement of children. Their fat, furred bodies created detestable shadows between the trees, but she felt no disgust toward Them, and no repulsion at Their pursing lips and flaring nostrils. Their voices were beautiful, Their darkness comforting, and Their love more real than anything she had ever experienced.

They invited her to dance, and Claudia -- dizzied and euphoric -- began to twirl with a grace she didn't know she possessed.

Claudia never did appear in the village again, though late at night, beneath the light of the fullest moon, if one listened closely enough, her joyful whispers could be heard beckoning all who could hear to the heart of the Black Wood.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Thanks for the crits! Sorry to see myself on the DM list, though I guess it's not surprising, given my status as Complete Amateur.

I'm not sure the Thunderdome format is for me. I'll probably try for one more before going back to just reading for awhile.

Edit: Not that you've all scared me off or anything, I'm just thinking I need more practice.

my cat is norris fucked around with this message at Sep 19, 2016 around 13:13

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

s7indicate3 posted:

sure

Also, same. I'll give 3 ppl crits

Me, please?

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice


Thank you!

Sitting Here posted:

uh TD is just for practice, it's a big writing dojo where we hand out mentions to add stakes (because any good plot needs stakes).

I just meant "practice" as in writing for myself more than writing for an audience or for critique. It's not something I do much of at all. vv

my cat is norris fucked around with this message at Sep 20, 2016 around 11:27

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Sitting Here posted:

what is this pathetic showing, did a video game come out this week or something

Sorry, busy week for me.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Mister Bates posted:

I've never done Thunderdome before, but gently caress it, first time for everything. If I suck at least it'll be a learning experience.

In.

Good luck!

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Thank you very much, Sitting Here!

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Gonna give it a shot. In.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

In. Taking Flash Rule #1. Not toxxing myself despite missing last week's deadline, as life has been super unpredictable this month and I'm not sure what's going on this week. Gonna give it my best shot, though!

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

I'm from Pittsburgh. I guess I'm writing yinzer gothic.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Came down with cold, not going to make deadline. Toxx forthcoming at my next available sign up.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Crab Destroyer posted:

Ethical Cannibalism - 620 words

A short short critique for a short short story:

- Proofread for punctuation and basic grammar errors before posting. You've got some missing and misplaced punctuation that could have been easily fixed.

- I appreciated the brevity of the action. There may have been too much exposition. Some fluff in your story kind of detracted from the potential intensity of the scene.

- I liked the ending. I guess some might see it as a little cliche, but I legitimately didn't see it coming since I was envisioning your character as being more heroic. vv

I came away feeling as if something was missing from your story, though I still enjoyed it enough to share my thoughts.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

In.



my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Vultures
(247 Words)

The ground beneath my feet is hot as an iron skillet and just as hard. My toes touch upon it, and I can feel them blister; my heels drag across it, and I can feel them crack. My blood seeps from my sore and weary feet, and with every smear I leave behind me, I trudge deeper into Death's domain.

The sun has scorched away the world's color. All I can see are endless fields of unrelenting white.

The trees I pass are brittle and dead. The wind groans between their skeletal branches; my breath groans between my ragged lips. They and I tremble with shared frailty.

The mirage of my lady shimmers on the horizon with her hand open to me in supplication. My fingers are too shrunken to bear my wedding band. I carry it anyway; it's no more burdensome than the despair I've carried since the day she vanished.

I search the white sky for something other than grief.

Shadows dance above me in a slow spinning waltz. Their movement captivates me. Their seduction invites me to forget my pain. My body does not find the ground so unforgiving.

If I have failed to find my lady, I have at least managed to find my comfort.

One by one the shadows descend. Their great wings blanket me in soothing darkness. The sharpness of their beaks cuts the misery from my flesh. I do not cry out at being consumed; I am being given mercy.

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my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

YO THIS CHALLENGE WAS SUPER HARD. It's very difficult to cram a story into 250 words and I'm super proud of everyone who's meeting this goal!!

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

Woo good work everyone!

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my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat



College Slice

ENCOURAGEMENT: I can't join in this week; however, I look forward to reading everything that's being written for Flerp's cool prompt.

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