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Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Yeah, in.

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Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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If you fail, I'm claiming all the rights to hard-boiled cyberpunk detective Singular Nacreous for a future entry.

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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[snip]

Some Strange Flea fucked around with this message at Jan 1, 2017 around 14:47

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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I hosed Big Ben
Once upon a time.

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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In with the InspiroBot prompt:
"Duty - What you must always do destroys a window to eternity"

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Duty - What you must always do destroys a window to eternity

[snip]

Some Strange Flea fucked around with this message at Dec 21, 2016 around 14:18

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Hi! This is not an entry for this week, but in the spirit of Ketchup Week, it is instead a long overdue make-up for my failure in Week 62 - Thunderdome Against Humanity.

For those of you not interested in hyperlinks, the prompt info relevant to the below is:
Everyone: Story must itself involve someone telling a story. Individual prompts are a black/white card combo from popular offend-'em-up Cards Against Humanity.
My prompt: What would grandma find disturbing, yet oddly charming? [Roofies]
Word limit: 666


Letting Go (659 Words)
I ended my eulogy with, “Always keep away from children”, and my eldest granddaughter burst into tears. I realised that we don’t know how to grieve any more. Know that I’m being very broad when I say “we”.

I want to tell you that story again, one last time: the story of how I met Larry. It’ll be different, but that’s OK. That’s the point.

---

I was waiting for an acclimation session with Doctor Roberts, and decided I was calm. I was right that time. Steady progress from a few weeks earlier, when I had been waiting for a session, decided I was calm, but overshot and landed on nihilistic. That week’s session was pointless, we both agreed, but I’d been improving gradually since.

A man sat down in the hard, plastic, bucket chair next to my own. He was plain, unassuming, draped in a rumpled jacket and with tufts of hair poking at strange angles. New patient. Probably needed a little reassuring. I opted to try small talk. Simple stuff: The weather, where we were from. Eventually we got to talking about the procedure, how long it took, if it hurt. He asked me what it felt like. Not the operation, but after. Living with the Signal, what did that feel like?

“It feels like whatever I want it to feel like.”

“Hah, guess that’s kinda the point, huh?” Larry reached his hand into his jacket. “Never really thought about that side of it, honestly, I was on board as soon as I heard I wouldn’t need these any more.” From his pocket, he revealed a small, white pill bottle, and flashed me the label:

FLUNITRAZEPAM

He had presented, for my consideration, a bottle of roofies. This, I thought, was very strange. I decided I was puzzled and wary. Still calm, but casually scanning for any blunt instruments in arms’ reach, just in case.

“Oh Jesus Christ no, sorry,” he said, his nostrils flared and his eyebrows escaping to beneath his fringe. “Those aren’t for- I didn’t mean- They’re for my insomnia. I’ve been having trouble sleeping, see, ever since that string of vicious sex cri- no, see, that’s not, ha ha, sorry, I-”

And so on.

He was unbearably awkward, and babbling, but he was scared too, and unlikely to be so for much longer. He also seemed charming and kind, and I believed those things were more likely to stick around. With all that known, I decided to take a chance. I decided I thought he was funny.

So I laughed.

---

In my eulogy, I told you what date that was, how many sessions I’d gone through, how many buttons were on Larry’s jacket. I told you a worse story, better. I recited the entire label on the bottle of pills, in all its trivial detail, breathlessly, skirting the border between loving dignity and incomprehensible sobbing. I decided that after sixty years of marriage, with three children, seven grandkids, two dogs and a house with a peach tree, that was precisely how sad I should be.

People say that when they die, you shouldn’t cry for them. They mean this as a kindness, as though grief were something that existed for the benefit of the dead. Instead, it’d become a performance among the living, which I thought equally absurd. Not immediately, not all at once, but as the months passed, I decided that I did not want to feel that way any more.

It must have seemed like I abandoned you so suddenly. Truthfully, I had. I left because leaving was easy. Moved out to a little cabin in the hills with no Signal, and spent my last years feeling. Just, feeling. Grief, regret, contentment, all arriving in their proper order, all of them mine, all of them real.

If you’re reading this, then you’ve been out there. I dearly hope that you decide to stay awhile.

It’ll be hard, but that’s OK. That’s the point.

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Just to be clear: 1500 max or min?

In with WE EXECUTED DANIEL RADCLIFFE AND LIVETWEETED ABOUT IT

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Headline: We executed Daniel Radcliffe and Live-Tweeted about it

Purely Coincidental (1498 words)
Daniel Radcliffe was eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes by the kitchen window when it burst in around him. A rock, fist-sized and jagged, slammed into his shoulder blade.

"Holy poo poo! -it! -it!" came an echo from the dark. The trees rustled and chirped, releasing a flock of witnesses into the night sky.

"Shut the hell up!" Em said. Not with words, but with a sudden turn of his head, furrowing of his brow, and strained clasping of his hands around his invisible tits, as Daniel Radcliffe’s bowl was launched across the countertop and out of sight, presumably joining the chorus of brittle fragments shattering against porcelain.

"Sorry," Janice whispered, "but, Jesus! Is he okay?"

The plan had gotten off to a shaky start, but her main goal of Getting Paid was still well within reach, so long as Arg had not just brained Daniel Radcliffe with a lump of granite. Over Em’s shoulder, she could see Arg stumble, his outstretched arm relaxing and dropping to his waist, face wearing an expression she could not quite place. Had Em been looking, he would have described it as one of the finest smizes he had ever seen. Janice did not know what a smize was. She may have worked it out, had she been paying closer attention, but she was briefly distracted with the notion as to how much a set of as-new lockpicks could fetch on eBay.

Em looked back as Daniel Radcliffe slumped to the floor. He was supposed to be asleep. That was the plan. He would disappear quietly from his home in the middle of the night, and re-appear a few days later, like magic. But as the show started, as the house lights came down and a surprise showing of Harry Potter and the Nocturnal Lactic Treat lit up the screen, Arg decided that night’s performance was going to be a little more improvisational. Em was cool with that. Job like this is supposed to bring a certain level of infamy, no point letting piddling poo poo like "subtlety" and "not murdering the target with a half-brick" work against that.

As the trio approached what remained of the window, Daniel Radcliffe popped back to his feet. Hunched over, arms covering his head, he made a break for the door. Janice thought she saw Arg reach for something by his hip.

The last things Daniel Radcliffe remembered were the feelings of milk and wet corn against his bare feet, a squeak, a thud, and then darkness.

---

"I told you, we are not doing an ISIS. Wh—" Janice covered her mouth and spluttered, "Why would we do that?" The atmosphere of the warehouse was made up mostly of concrete dust and the scent of damp carpet remnants. The walls were cracked and pitted, and the floor was littered with discarded pieces of chipboard and rusted nails. A spotlight hung from the rafters, gently swaying back and forth. Sitting underneath it, debris cleared from nearby, was the STEFAN she had bought from IKEA. It was affordable, functional and, most importantly, had a variety of Daniel Radcliffe’s limbs duct taped to it.

"Tellin’ ya girl, get a camera, fire our demands up on YouTube. poo poo’ll go viral in like a second." Daniel Radcliffe’s eyelids flickered. He was starting to come to. "Man, gently caress it, I’m gonna ask, uh..." Em looked blankly around the circle of light in the middle of the room. "Where the hell did Arg go?"

"He said he was going to grab a few things from the van."

Arg was in the back of the van, kneeling on the rough, wooden floor, and surrounded by clumps of his own hair. The interior lights bounced off the nicks and scratches that marked the top of his head, as he pulled up an eyebrow with one hand, and gingerly scratched at it with a disposable razor.

"Mrph!" Daniel Radcliffe was awake. "MRRRPH!" he said, louder, accompanied by an emphatic shoulder gesture which hurt more than he anticipated.

"Oh, right, this guy. Find out what he wants, I’m gonna see Arg." Em disappeared into the dark of the warehouse, and Janice relaxed a little. Maybe with the kid out pestering Arg with frivolous nonsense, she could actually think for a minute.

"MRRR-ERRPH!" repeated Daniel Radcliffe. Janice pulled the tape from his mouth.

Arg ran his palms along the bumps and contours of his skull, over his eyes, and down the ridges of his jaw. His head was smooth, hairless, the transformation almost complete. He picked up the knife and drew the steel against the bottom of his nose. On the blade, two dull circles expanded and contracted beneath his nostrils. It was time. The Dark Lord would rise once more.

"Rupert’s going to kill me, you know that, right?"

"Who?"

"Rupert."

"Who the hell is Ru—"

One loud pop. Rustling. Chirping. Witnesses.

Click-clack.

Janice winced, her heart aching from the Maserati-shaped hole developing in it. She thought about calling it quits right there. Leave him to his miserable fate and make a run for it. But there was only one door and, were those footsteps?

Click-clack.

Definitely. Footsteps. She doubted whoever fired that shot would just watch as she fled into the night and, if not out, where else was there to go? She paced around the glowing island, not daring to venture into the gloom, searching for the most solid piece of board, with the longest, rustiest nails in it.

Click-clack.

Arg was here, probing the light with the barrel of his gun, before creeping in himself. He was draped in a black cloak, fashioned from what appeared to be a king size bedsheet with a hole cut in it. It dragged limply along the ground behind him, collecting the garbage strewn across the room into a neat pile beneath. Resting on his head was a scuffed hat, conical, with a wide circular brim, and covered in silver tinfoil stars. His eyebrows were missing, and a bread knife was embedded behind his nose, just beneath his eyes, with dark smears running across its length.

"MINNER PO—" He coughed and spat to the side. "PONNER." Arg spoke with the cadence and articulation of an upper-class goose being waterboarded. "FAA-NA-NEE, WE MEE A-HMM". He lowered the gun to point at the seated Daniel Radcliffe. Janice slipped between the two. After the days of planning to get here, and the grave disappointment of seeing that plan go to hell in a complete travesty of an evening, she was not going to watch her payday take a bullet to the skull. She demanded more. She demanded that, at the very, very least, she would get that bullet first.

"OH HO!" Arg's cheeks pushed up against the spine of the knife. "WA HA WEE HEAH?" His inflection suggested he was angling for some spirited banter, but Janice said nothing. This was a stalling tactic, partly. Mostly, she had no idea what could be said. Instead, she glanced down at her salvaged nail bat. No way to get close enough from here for a solid swing. Maybe a decent throw? She raised the bat to her shoulders. He frowned, and raised the gun to her head.

For a moment, they froze, silent, but for the hum of the fluorescent light overhead, sailing in a pocket of light through an ocean of darkness. Three people in a snowglobe.

Then, a fourth burst through the glass. Their blood-soaked hand emerged from over Arg's shoulder, wrapped its fingers around the hilt of the knife, and pulled. There was a wet, hollow crack, as his nose detached and flew through the air, spinning, sending thick, red globules flying into the dark.

Arg fell to the ground. Behind him, Em, bloodied knife in one hand and clutching his stomach with the other, quickly followed, plunging the knife into Arg's back as he fell. Janice ran to them, taking care to avoid stepping on anyone's nose. Em's shirt was covered in blood, pouring from a bullet wound from his gut. He was not going to make it.

Her hands hovered over Em, fluttering back and forth between his wound and his face. "Sorry, I can't— There's nothing I—"

He caught her hands mid-air. "Nah, girl, don't worry. This is my story. See this mess, right here? This is how I get mine. Going viral." He wheezed out a light chuckle. "You see him?" he said, nodding to the man taped to the chair. "That's how you get yours."

Moments passed. Em passed. Janice stared at Daniel Radcliffe, the last dregs of this disaster, looking back down at her. But it wasn't all for naught, not yet. There was still a chance. Still some way she could make this work.

He saw her eyes harden.

"No, please I— HELP! HEEEEELP!"

She scooped the gun from Arg's hand, put the tape back over Daniel Radcliffe's mouth, and started dragging at the back of the STEFAN.

Janice was going to do an ISIS.

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Quantum-punk, please.

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Quantumpunk
[snip]

Some Strange Flea fucked around with this message at Dec 21, 2016 around 14:19

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Pillbug

Daeres - Tooth Fairy
I saw you mention in the IRC this would have been your third DM had you got one this week (although you avoided that this week, congrats!). Off the back of that, I was thinking of doing a line crit of your story, but figured it'd be a little more helpful if I talked a little more generally.

Something I thought about while reading your piece is that things are very direct, and that you did not dwell on things for very long. This can be a good thing, and I think your choice of first-person present tense goes a fair way to establishing that tone, but I think here it left everything feeling a little flat.

I'm going to talk a lot about change over the course of this, please bear with me!

Your story is about the first time that someone is doing something horrible, something that they anticipate doing for a while. That's interesting! That's a point of change. It's something that's worth talking about, so talk about that change, and how your characters are impacted by that change. What does it mean? Question it.

For example, let's take your character's circumstances. She says, "We both know I’m desperate for money, otherwise I wouldn’t be here." So, she does not have money, present-tense. Why is that the case? Did she ever have money? If she did, does she not any more? Why not? If she didn't, what is the pressing need for it now? She has made the some-might-say severe decision to pull teeth from human skulls, but why only just now? What is it about now that makes this story happen?

Looking at the description of the act itself: She is moving from "having never done a thing", to "having done a thing, once". What does that change mean? Bearing in mind that it is your character's first time sticking her hand into a corpse's mouth, what stands out to her? What sort of expectations did she have? What surprises her? If she's a little jaded, maybe what does not surprise her at all?

More narrowly: There are two teeth missing, so she gets "four less coins", but that's abstract. Again, this can tie back into her circumstances. What does "four less coins" actually mean to her? In a very short amount of time, she has essentially lost four coins that she thought she had, but what is she really losing, and how does that discovery feel?

Even on a very small scale, taking a single action as an example: "I set the pliers around a molar. I pull, and I pull, and I pull. Out the tooth comes, the blood around its roots dark." Resistance, and a struggle. Then, a release. But what changed? A crack in the skull? A slip of the hands? Did she stumble?

I think what I'm trying to say is: What questions can you ask yourself about what's going on, what's changing, at any given point in your story? And then, from that, which answers do you think are interesting? I'm not suggesting that you need to make all of these explicit in your writing (You yourself may not necessarily want to go into the grisly details of breaking off pieces of a dude's skull, for example!), but I don't think it can hurt to have these sorts of details available to you as you think about your piece, to give it a little more texture if you think it needs it.

One last thing: I mentioned near the top that you picked an interesting time to write about. The decision to stop having never done a thing. That's a good one, for sure, but I want to suggest that you maybe brushed against a slightly more interesting one with the line, "It still takes all my strength not to smash his skull in with my pliers."

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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In. Please and thank you.

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Moth (1449 Words)
McGuigan's cafe stood atop a cliff, overlooking the stretch of sea that led to the north coast of the mainland. Lisa sat by a window, her spiral-bound notebook laid open on a checkered tablecloth, watching the gentle glow of streetlights far off in the Monday morning haze. It was raining. Rafferty Island was a nice enough place to spend a weekend, she thought. Just long enough to appreciate the lack of stimulation, rather than feel oppressed by it. It was beyond her how anyone could actually live there, though. Maybe that was the real question.

The ferry had docked, the first since Lisa's on Friday evening, and had brought with it the man now standing by her table. "Hey," he said, "Name's Jeffrey. Wh—"

Lisa chuckled, still gazing through the window. "If you say so." She heard the tap-tap-tap of water dripping onto the vinyl tablecloth and pulled her makeshift journal onto her lap. She hoped he would get the cold or the flu or something. Actually, she hoped that the ferry would burst into flames and then sink with him on it, but that window had closed for the time being.

He slid the chair opposite her from under the table, dragging its legs across the tiles in a way no-one has ever done by accident. "Mind if I sit here?"

"Yep," she glanced over and turned up the corners of her mouth, "but don't let that stop you." Something else. Not a smile. Not for him.

As he sat down, Lisa finally took her first proper look at him. He wore a face she had never seen before. His jaw had narrowed, the scar below his left eye had disappeared and he was several inches taller than when she had last seen him. Or, rather, when they had last spoken. She had seen him dozens, maybe hundreds of times, she supposed, but always as someone else.

Question Three: Is it him?
Not really in any doubt, assuming no extenuating circumstances (e.g. Q2 on "Have you just lost it?"), but included for completeness. Who the hell else is it going to be?


He snatched up one of the menus leaning against the window, and ran the tip of his finger up and down its length. That, Lisa did recognise.

"So tell me, Daryl..."

His hand froze. Stalled. The river of prepared chit-chat had run dry right at the source and his parched lips twitched, searching for a reply. He sat, transfixed, staring at a point that had now drifted about a half-inch through the back of the menu, his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth. He was forced to vocalise something when he remembered the need to exhale, but nothing meaningful. Just a wavering, "Hmm?"

Lisa plucked a few sugar packets from a nearby bowl as an elderly gentleman arrived with a teapot, and finished her thought.

"...What brings you here?"

---

They were going to be together.

So far as he was concerned, that was the beginning and end of it. Something in his chest told him so. Something near his heart. Small, smooth, like a marble, just below where the muscles in his shoulder met his collarbone. It tingled when they were apart, like pins and needles, and led him squarely to her.

"It hurts so bad when I'm not with you," he once said, one tequila beyond one too many. "Nah, you don't get it. We're like, fuckin', connected, me 'n' you, y'know?"

They had been seeing each other for only a week, and she was not ready for that level of intimacy. Not yet. She had gotten used to other guys being cagey, cautious, looking for some excuse to keep their options open. If you surround yourself with that for years, then sure, meeting someone with conviction, someone willing to commit, no questions asked? Terrifying, he could imagine.

"Sorry, I can't, maybe some other time?" turned into, "I'm kind of busy at the moment," and then finally into silence. No-one's fault, really. The well was already poisoned, he was just a victim of circumstance. Still, no harm done. A few days, a new shirt and a fresh face, and they would be back together, good as new.

He never thought of himself as better than the other men she saw, just different. They operated within a realm of possibility that was foreign to him. A vast plain, over which they would flow, finding a path of least resistance and whatever bounty that may lead them to. They accepted failure because they could redefine success. He did not have that luxury. He had just one path, treacherous, covered with jagged rocks and loose pebbles. He would slip, graze his shins and chip his teeth. Fall, but persevere, because what else was there? He would struggle, and he would become unrecognisable but, eventually, he would overcome.

And she would be waiting.

---

Lisa's pen lay disassembled across a page strewn with sentence fragments and heavily scratched out spelling errors.

Final exams were soon, and the ranks of desks and shelves that arced around the library were brightly lit, and never empty. She hoped that being carefully positioned, several storeys high, with her back against the wall and a clear view across the pit containing the foyer, would reassure her. Anything that happened to her would be seen by someone.

But every time she glanced up over her desk, down into the lower levels of the library, somebody seemed to react. Never the same person twice, but someone would cover their eyes, or drop their head into their propped-up elbow, or turn away and disappear among the shelves. Too quickly to get a bead on, but quick enough to be noticed.

Anything that happened to her would be seen by someone.

This was not a new sensation, not unique to this building. Small things, peculiar things, followed Lisa throughout the city. A sideways glance from someone holding a door. A shadow flickering from beyond a corner. A face in a crowd that, for just a moment, stared dead straight at her. The city had seemed haunted, for weeks now, ever since—

The scabs on the back of her waist started to itch.

She looked back down at the notepad and a wave of clarity washed over her. She had not written down a coherent, complete thought in hours. That realisation, that flash of self-awareness, shone in front of her, bright neon lettering burning against a murky night sky. She needed to know. Doubt was smothering her. Whatever she was working towards, right there, right then, gathered amongst four years of colour-coded notes, principles and precedents, was lost. Or would be, soon, if she tried to go on as she was, driven to distraction by her own paranoia.

She slid the pen's ink cartridge back into its casing, pulled out a fresh, spiral-bound notebook, and wrote. Fiercely. Clearly.

Question One: Am I being watched?

She looked curiously at the rows upon rows of blank space, which seemed to stare back, and then turned up the corners of her mouth. A smile. Just for her.

And then she left.

---

Lisa sipped her tea as platefuls of fried things were set between the two of them, next to bundles of cutlery and twisted napkins. His eyebrows were pulled together above his nose. "Don't you think you... maybe…"

"No. I don't." Her eyes narrowed over the rim of the teacup.

He sighed. "Alright… Well… Have you at least forgiven me?"

"For what?" Lisa raised an eyebrow and exaggerated an offering of her palm.

He hesitated.

"You said I scared you." A subtle upward inflection on the final word suggested that this was more of a question than a statement.

"Don't flatter yourself. I spent a weekend out here just to prove for myself that all the men who stood and watched weren't something I'd invented. I think I managed to scare myself just fine, thank-you-very-much."

She looked at her watch, and then outside. The rain was dying down, and the sun had just started to break through the clouds. The ferry would be leaving shortly. She could just hop on, right now, drive the coastline all the way back to the city, and try to pick up the pieces of the life she had dropped. But she had one last question, and damned if she was leaving here without being certain of the answer.

She pinched the corner of the napkin with one hand and pulled gently, letting the knife and fork clatter onto the table.

Nine: Will he ever stop?

Small, smooth, like a marble, just below where the muscles in his shoulder met his collarbone.

Near his heart.

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Pillbug

Sure yes okay, I'd like to bird please wait there's no sign-up deadline, why am I doing this?

Whatever. In

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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Pillbug

[snip]

Some Strange Flea fucked around with this message at Nov 13, 2016 around 16:17

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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I was hesitant this week but those music choices are really getting me pumped the gently caress up.

Let's do this thing.

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Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

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ay yo toot toot

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