In, and I'll take an assigned glitch as well.
|# ¿ Jan 5, 2016 00:06|
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2023 08:27|
Also, the floor on this new thread is too clean and dry. Needs blood. So if you two won't (and, for that matter, even if you do), I'ma brawl Specters. He knows why.
|# ¿ Jan 5, 2016 00:13|
Post your es if you accept.
|# ¿ Jan 6, 2016 02:57|
The Troll Surgeon
"Doctor repeatedly tries and fails to suture wounds that have already healed"
So no poo poo, there I was, shipped off to the front lines the day after graduation at the Imperial School of Medicine without so much as a briefing, let alone the full course of training and instruction I'd get in an army run by actual professionals. This was during the war with the Seredim, the fourth or fifth one, I can never keep track. One of the ones we say we won.
The carriage stopped and the officer said my name, only he said 'Doctor Norris' like it rhymed with Morris, and since it's actually 'no-ree' and I'd had the title for less than eighteen hours I didn't recognize he was talking about me until the third time he said it. I knew better than to correct him. I got up, stepped outside, and found myself at the encampment of the 17th heavy infantry division.
Now the first thing a person's going to notice about the 17th is that it's an all-troll unit. Not regular infantry with troll support, but one hundred percent troll, top to bottom and front to back. These units go in and out of style, but during the fourth-or-fifth Seredim war they were very much in. Once the carriage left the only two humans around were me and the Major, and the Major never left his tent.
I grew up in farm country, out east, and then went off to Lothic City to learn medicine. You don't see many trolls in either place. I didn't know the first thing about trolls. If it hadn't been for Karkk, I'd have been completely lost. Karkk greeted me right after I got off the carriage. “You must be the new doctor,” he said. I nodded. “Let me show you around the place.”
He gave me the three-crown tour, showed me around all of the different tents and how to tell them apart once they've all been taken down and put back up a mile and a half deeper into Seredim territory. Every troll we met seemed very happy to see me. I asked him why.
“Well,” said Karkk, “If they've sent a new doctor, we're about to see action.” He wasn't wrong. We moved out that morning, and the next day, once the medical tents were raised they began to fill with casualties.
I went from bed to bed, reading each report of horrifying battlefield injuries, with needle and suture thread at hand, but each time I reached a patient they were sitting in bed without any sign of injury. I thought somebody was playing a joke on me. I asked one about the cut his chart said he had, right across his belly. “Yeah,” he said. “That one hurt a lot.”
“So where's the cut?” I asked.
“It got better.”
Finally I did find one who showed signs of injury, a soldier named Vokk whose right arm had been cut clean off. He was indeed a one-armed troll, although the stump had completely healed over as though the amputation had been professionally done months ago. “Gonna take a month to grow back,” he said. “A month on double rations.”
Like I said, I didn't know the first time about trolls. The first thing about trolls is that they regenerate, they quickly heal any wound that doesn't take their head off or cut them clean in half. I didn't know the second thing about trolls either. I learned that after the next battle.
The second thing about trolls is that if you want to really hurt them, you use fire. This being the fourth (or fifth) war, the Seladim knew this, and when they faced troll infantry they brought out the hot stuff. This time I saw real injuries among the already-healed, burns running from trivial to severe. But there was still nothing I could actually do about it. Karkk explained it to me. “Burnt tissue won't heal, even if you cut it out. Try, and the patient will bleed out. Only thing to do is wait for the skin to grow over the whole scar, bury it inside the body. That can take as long as growing a whole arm or leg back. Or sometimes the burns prove too deep and the patient dies.” Karkk was the troll equivalent of a nurse. The exact job title translates to “bone-breaker”, and that's mostly what they do: if someone starts healing in the wrong shape, they break bones and let them heal right. Truth is, that's all the doctoring a troll soldier needs.
Try telling that to the army, though. A few months in I got called in to the Major's tent. The Major's human, and for a while I thought that my main duty was to care for him if he got a papercut or something, but Karkk set me straight. The Major's orderly was a netherborn Priest managing his health needs magically. Anyhow, the Major had a problem.
“Medical supplies,” said the Major.
“What about them? I don't think we're low on anything,” I said.
“That's the problem.”
“I'm afraid I don't follow you.”
“Listen,” said the Major, leaning forward, “I don't want to tell you how to do your job. But the men back in headquarters, they believe in metrics-based management. And their chief metric for how much work a medical station is doing is the consumption of those supplies.”
“But sir,” I said, “These soldiers are trolls. They don't need-”
“Like I said,” the Major interrupted, waving his left arm, “I don't want to tell you how to do your job. But if you can't improve these numbers it's going to make us both look bad.”
I sighed. “Yes, sir.”
“Oh,” said the Major as I turned to live, “I hope I don't have to say this, but I don't want to see gauze and thread dumped in the garbage, or the latrines or the campfires.”
I started to see why the previous doctor didn't last long. I'd soon have a black mark on my career and the enmity of my superior officer as well. Finding some way to get transferred looked appealing, although the only way I could think of involved crippling injuries from an 'accident', and I didn't have something like that in me. Desertion wasn't an option. Even if wanted to join the Seredim, they wouldn't have me. Besides, who wanted to flee to a place currently under attack by several hundred trolls? It took me another week to find a solution.
It came to me when I learned the third thing about trolls. The third thing about trolls is that they can, and will eat almost anything. They can fully digest plant matter, like termites. The army knows this, and so the standard troll military ration is the most unappetizing block of fat, scraps and grains you'll ever see. This came together when I checked in Vokk. His stump now had what looked like a baby's arm growing out of it, and he was complaining mightily about his mandatory double rations. I suggested adding some of our cotton gauze to break the monotony, and he enthusiastically agreed. Soon we had a thriving little black market going in supplementary nutrition. “Dip it in beer and it tastes like beer” was our unofficial slogan.
So that was my first stint in the medical corps, getting paid junior officer's wages to be a check on the list of things some rear-echelon horsehumper thinks a fighting division needs. But that's not the best part. See, those all-troll battalions fell out of style, and stayed that way for years. But in the current conflict with the Drall Alliance, they're bringing them back. So they need someone to manage the medical staff across the whole army from headquarters, and since all of the managers from that long back are retired, they went looking for an expert. And they found me, the only doctor who managed to fulfill all of their metrics without getting caught cheating. I might not convince the general staff to do the sensible thing and let the bone-breakers handle everything, but even if I can't, well, it beats the hell out of the front.
|# ¿ Jan 11, 2016 01:42|
In, and Bowie me Sittinghere.
|# ¿ Jan 12, 2016 05:47|
I am signing up. I would like a dong. I don't care who gives it to me.
Again, if someone would give me a song that would be great. Not feeling the Bowie though.
Oh, it was a song you wanted?
|# ¿ Jan 12, 2016 19:26|
SPECTRES OF THRANGISM BRAWL
When Abelun's armies were out in the field, fighting in some war with Cruciline as they so often were, the untamed men of the Galfric Host rode down to threaten the capital city. This had happened many, many times before. Sometimes the soldiers remaining turned them away. Sometimes they reached the city, raided and looted it and left. Twice they have sacked it, leaving scarce few walls and buildings unburnt and unbroken. Excepting those few times the Host arrives in stealth, their leader always met with the King under flag of truce and challenged him to single combat. Now, unlike the debauched Cruciline tradition of duels and challenges, neither Abelun nor the Host had any truck with the use of proxies, seconds, or champions in such a duel. So as you might expect, the Abelun Kings refused that challenge. All of them but one.
King Alfred the third, called “the Well-fed” at court and “the Fat” on the streets, was not in fact nearly as large as his father had been. He could, and did, walk on his own feet, for example. But he was far from physically fit, and when he nodded and said “I accept” to Rhys' challenge everyone gasped.
“You have spirit,” bellowed Rhys. “I'll be sure to sing songs of you when I've finished running you through.”
“Not so fast,” said King Alfred. “As the challenged party I choose the terms of the contest.”
“You want to fight at a joust? Do you have a horse strong enough to sit you?”
“No,” said the King. “We shall settle the matter with by feasting.”
Rhys frowned. “How does one win at a feast?”
“The question is more how one loses. We'll eat the same courses, plate for plate, with breaks between them for necessities and for sleep between midnight and dawn. The first who cannot finish a plate, or loses hold of their guts at either fore or aft, as it were, is loser.” King Alfred grinned broadly.
“This is a most odd form of contest you propose.”
“Do you refuse?” asked the King. “Are you backing down?”
Rhys' eyes blazed. “No.”
They dickered over terms, agreeing that the Host would take thrice the usual tribute if Rhys won and would leave to raid some other city and not return in Alfred's lifetime if he won, and that the city would provide food for the host during the feast, and that to ensure that the food was not poisoned or that other treachery did not occur, the host would take hostages from the city who would eat first, to be kept with their soldiers and horses under control of Rhys's brother and lieutenant Owen. Among those hostages was Alfred's own daughter, Princess Charlotte, who was called “the Shrewd”, although some wags often dropped the last letter. The feasting began on the next morning.
The first day was a fairly standard day of feasting in King Alfred's court, starting with honey-glazed ham and eggs; a plate of fresh strawberries and melons, lightly sweetened and salted; crisped new potatoes with pepper-spiced pork sausage; and cherry-filled tarts before moving on from the breakfast courses. Enough food to feed the entire court was brought out, and eat they did, turning the matter into an informal competition. The courses continued through the day, moving to lunch plates of shrimp, cold meats, and cheeses from seven different countries, and on to dinner, steak with mushrooms and duck in a crispy lemon-almond glaze and eggplants stuffed with crab paste. Both Rhys and the king ate everything before them eagerly and they ended the day evenly matched.
The court began to drop away on the second day, as the dishes continued, never repeating. Abelun cuisine featured simple dishes with complex blends of spices. Cruciline food tended toward rich and flavorful sauce. Alfred's chef was a master of both, and a fair hand at the foods of more distant lands, and the royal larders were virtually inexhaustible. As the dishes came forward the boundaries between breakfast, lunch, and dinner faded away. A plate of prawns sauteed in butter with garlic and a hint of hot pepper was followed by flambeed bananas served with a sweet cold cheese followed by chicken in a savory chocolate sauce. The last two members of the court had their final face off, with the master of spies begging off and leaving the exiled and by this point extremely theoretical pretender to the Cruciline throne the winner of this lesser contest.
On the fifth day, a small black box was brought into the chamber along with the first course, a dark sausage with scrambled eggs. “What is this?” asked Rhys, indicating the box.
“A specialty of my chef,” said Kind Alfred. “Today will be a feast of the whole.”
“One animal, prepared in many different and clever ways, sparing no part other than the head and bones. The head is in the box, of course, and will only be revealed after the day is done. He is quite clever at disguising main ingredient.”
Dish after dish followed, with meat sliced and ground, and the tripe and organ meats as well, all prepared with expert deception. There were sausages and casseroles and stir-fries, each with spices and sauces that did not completely overwhelm the meat's own flavor but brought it out and moved it in different directions. At the end of the day the box was lifted to reveal the head of a bull, a surprise to both, as the King had thought it venison and Rhys expected to see the head of a ram.
The feasting continued. King Alfred's appetite was legendary, but Rhys matched him plate for plate. In the second week they agreed to allow each other to take turns making specific requests to the chef. Rhys called for a plates of insects, ants and snails and scorpions. The chef prepared them in ginger and honey and butter and garlic “My chef can cook anything,” said King Alfred, “And can cook nothing poorly.”
Alfred in his turn called for a course of horse meat, which he had heard Rhys' people avoided. Rhys ate it without complaint. “I have eaten horse before,” he said. “In the wastes, where starvation threatened. For survival and victory, nothing is forbidden to the men of the Host.”
They challenged each other with rat-meat, with peasant's gruel and soldier's field rations. True to Alfred's words, the chef's talent made the least appealing foods not just palatable but tasty. They challenged each other with sauces as spicy as the chef was willing to make them, then with a run of chilled deserts to chill their brains. No winner emerged.
Both the practiced gourmand and the lean and hungry barbarian were human, though, and their endurance was not without limit. King Alfred could tell he did not have many more courses to go, and went to the man in command of the forces left in the city, General Erik. “Fall upon the barbarians in the dead of night,” he ordered. “Save what hostages you can, and bring Rhys's brother Owen back to the kitchens and instruct the chef to serve him up as a feast of the whole.”
General Erik was not a loyal servant of the King. After all, the generals who truly had Alfred's favor, who have good future prospects, all of those were leading the war against Cruciline. He had already sold himself to Rhys, and reported this treachery to the horse-lord as soon as he could. Rhys ordered his camp moved, stealthily, and Erik suggested a plan for further revenge. “With this attempt, the hostages are rightly forfeit,” he said. “So follow the King's plot, but substitute Princess Charlotte for your man.”
“Surely the King's own chef would never-”
“The chef trusts me as he would the King himself,” said Erik, “And when I tell him that Alfred has discovered that Charlotte was plotting to betray his father and wed herself to you, he will believe.”
“Truly?” asked Rhys.
“Charlotte resents that her younger brothers would be crowned before her, and most would believe any dark plot of her.”
“Very well,” said Rhys, and allowed Erik to put this double-cross into motion.
The feast of the whole began, and both Rhys and the King ate eagerly, believing their victory at hand. Neither was unfamiliar with the taste of human flesh. In those situations in the wastes where starvation threatened, the ban against horseflesh was not the only such taboo that was suspended. As for the King, in his youth he had a morbid curiosity on the subject, and he instructed his chef to settle it, with a suitable prisoner. The first time the chef substituted a boar, but he was caught at the act, and the King repeated his request, insisting on watching the entire preparation. Their eagerness did not quite overcome the exhaustion of their digestive tracts, and by the time of the final servings of long pork both of their guts ached mightily. They each forced the food down, thinking only of their coming moment of triumph.
When the box was finally lifted, both men gaped in shock. The head beneath was neither that of Princess Charlotte nor Owen, but rather General Erik. It was then that the two would-be-victims revealed themselves, entering the feast hall hand in hand. “We decided to make a change in the menu,” said Charlotte.
King Alfred tried to get up, but the pain in his gut stopped him. “Two changes,” said Owen.
“You're right, dear,” said Charlotte. “Since the chef would never do it himself, we decided to pre-spice the meat with a touch of poison.” Nobody laughed. It would take months before the court learned how important it was to laugh at what Charlotte though was a clever quip.
Rhys forced himself to his feet just before he completely lost control of his body, expelling partially digested food and blood – mostly blood – in geysers from both ends. King Alfred suffered the same fate seconds later. Charlotte and Rhys consolidated their power quickly and brutally. In the version of the story told to the commoners, the Host invaded and slaughtered the young male heirs before Charlotte negotiated a peace. Few believed a word, but open defiance was rare. Of course, rumor held that the youngest little prince was spirited away from the city by friends of the old regime, as it always does in these cases. The Host and the regular soldiers kept order until the ceremonies of coronation and marriage could be completed, forging a new empire that would go on to decisively defeat Cruciline and dominate the entire region. And it was many, many years before anyone even considered eating so much as a crumb in that hall.
|# ¿ Jan 14, 2016 01:40|
An Escape Velocity Needs Both Speed and Direction
There was fresh graffiti on the tunnel walls, a mural of the Skull Knights, mounting motorbikes with lance and shield, and I wondered how whoever paints those things keeps getting away with it. Then the bus came out of the tunnel and stopped and I got off and looked for Bobby.
He wasn't far, waiting by the corner with a handful of daisies. He held them out, smiled, and said “Flores para los muetros, Jasmine.”
“What the hell, Bobby,” I said. “First, are you going for Streetcar or Virginia Wolfe, and second, what the hell either way? I mean, can you get less romantic than those two?”
“Um, both? And I thought we weren't supposed to, uh...”
“That doesn't mean you need to go to the complete opposite,” I said, hugging him anyway. I knew it wasn't fair. We were in uncharted territory, about to sail off the map. We'd been best friends forever, the only two kids in school who actually liked reading books (a sad fact that probably means that the people who call us pre-centennials the worst generation ever are probably right.) Since we were both weird kids with no other local friends and our orientations lined up, getting together was inevitable. But we weren't using the L word, or anything near it. “So you solved the problem?”
“Yeah,” said Bobby, pointing to the side of the street. There was a big black car parked behind him. “Actually already had most of the solution.”
Bobby wanded his service card and the door opened. We got in. “So where are we going?”
“Nowhere,” he said, selecting an address on the interface. “To your house, technically. But the place is right here.”
“Bobby,” I said, “My house is ten minutes away by car. And your car subscription is city-local. There's isn't anywhere it can go that will take more than a half hour or so before it kicks us out. I told you we needed at least a couple hours.”
“Normally, sure,” said Bobby. “But this car doesn't think conditions are normal at all.” He brought up the city map on the car's main screen. All over the city were red bars, markers indicating closed roads, lanes, and exits. A purple line traced a route through the city, avoiding all of those lines in a labyrinthine path that spiraled through nearly every mile of highway in the loops and expressways, commuter-coffin routes and autotruck arteries that circled and crossed the city. 'Estimated Time: 150 minutes' appeared at the bottom as the car climbed up the on-ramp and the windows tinted opaque.
Privacy laws are really stupid. I mean, what kind of sense does it make to outlaw recording voices, but allow taking videos and reading everyone's lips or mapping sound from glass vibrations? Also stupid by good for us: The inside of any car is about the most private place in the country. Anything recorded there can't be decrypted and watched without a court order. Perfect.
About half of the point of all this for me, and probably all of it for Bobby was to find a way for us to have sex for the first time without a thousand cambots narcing to our parents in as much detail as the law allows before we're even finished. My moms are real conservatives. They think girls should stick to dating other girls until they're at least twenty-five. Old-fashioned nonsense from a time when boys were fertile all the time and carried diseases that didn't have vaccines. When people call us pre-centennials the worst generation ever, they're just jealous. Did I just contradict myself? Do you want the Emerson or the Whitman quote?
Anyway, I'm not going into details. I'll just say it lasted longer and was more pleasant than I'd been expecting and leave it at that. Afterward, clothes back where they belonged, sitting up, I talked to Bobby. I told him what had really been on my mind, about how badly I needed to just escape. Escape what? Everything. This town, my family. I had to go somewhere else and really be there. But just about every college and career could all be done virtually, from right here, and even if I did move to another city everything here would be as close as a fiber-optic wire. There wasn't any getting away from anything as far as I could tell. We talked about it for a long time.
“It's a tough problem,” said Bobby finally. “I'll try to work on it, but you know. There's no territory left to light out for, hasn't been for a long time.”
“Nice,” I said. “Twain or Salinger?”
“Twain or who?” said Bobby.
“J. D. Salinger. Catcher in the Rye,” I said.
“Haven't read that one yet. Should I?”
The synthetic voice of the car interrupted us. “Visual systems override,” it said. “Exit on route inaccessible. Recalculating.”
“What's going on?” I said.
“I think there's an actual closed lane in our path,” said Bobby.
“Can you switch what you did to the car off?” I asked.
“Not from inside, no.” said Bobby with a hint of panic.
“Route not found,” said the car. “Safe stopping point not found. Enabling emergency manual control.” The blank panel in front of me extruded a steering wheel as pedals emerged near my feet. “Manual control ready in 10, 9...”
I'd taken drivers ed a few years back, a vestigial rite of passage I thought I'd never use, three weeks of horror films and simulators. The neon-lit highway revealed by the de-opaquing windows bore little resemblance to the ancient roads in those simulations, and the speed of traffic was nearly twice as fast. I grabbed the wheel and waited out the countdown.
I was fine for a few seconds. Then the road curved, and I turned a bit too much, into the traffic. But the cars and trucks darted out of the way like a school of fish, dodging me and one another with grace and no collisions. I quickly got back into my lane. “We might be okay,” I said. “It takes two bad drivers to make an accident, and I'm the only one on the road.”
“Um, Jasmine?” said Bobby, “That one was pretty stupid even in Gatsby.”
“What was that?” I said. “You want to take the wheel?”
“I said you're amazing, Jasmine.” said Bobby. “I mean, I l-, I mean, since I found you my life's amazing, and if we don't-” The road turned sharply, and I steered too little, riding up onto the shoulders.
“We're going to be fine,” I said, trying to believe it. I could probably stay in lane and avoid trouble, but getting across three lanes of traffic, all with precision-managed bumper-to-bumper traffic at ninety-four miles an hour without causing some kind of crash seemed impossible. And I obviously couldn't drive forever.
That's when I saw them. About thirty motorcycles, all with human drivers on a road where that's been outlawed for decades. Their jackets all bore the logo – no, the coat of arms – of the Skull Knights. No lances or shields, but otherwise the group from the mural. They herded the autocars with precision, forming an empty lane flanked by half of their number on each side. Their leader took off their helmet and long, red hair flowed out, a defiant daredevil smile on her face as she signaled me forward. I gingerly guided the car between them to the off-ramp. Once we got onto the ramp, the controls retracted and the car said “Recalculating. New Route found, arriving in twenty-two minutes.”
We tried to catch our breath. “Man,” said Bobby, “I'm going to have to find a new place to sleep.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I told you I'd mostly solved the problem already. I've been using this car as a place to get away and crash for the night when my parents...” he said. “Can't do that anymore.”
“Sorry, I sometimes forget how messed up your family stuff gets. Mine's just oppressively normal.”
“All happy families are-”
“You cheat,” I said, punching him in the shoulder. “I know neither one of us has read Tolstoy.”
“Well,” said Bobby, grinning, “Not in the original Russian...” I punched him again.
I felt better than I had in months getting out of the car. Not just from the thrill of surviving an 'adventure', but just from knowing that the Skull Knights were real, had gone so far off the grid and gotten away with it. I didn't see myself becoming an outlaw biker or doing whatever outlaw bikers do these days, but it at least meant that escape was possible. If they could get away, then I could too.
|# ¿ Jan 17, 2016 23:38|
Put me in, coach.
|# ¿ Jan 18, 2016 23:34|
I want the words
Pantothenate's an anvil 'round Crabrock
His prose is weak and his ideas wack
Ock ock ock ock ock ock ock ock ock ock
A one-trick-pony writing robot schlock
And haggard 'sports the ball' from ten years back?
Pantothenate's an anvil 'round Crabrock
My words like boxing robots gonna knock
Your head clean off your body with one smack
Ock ock ock ock ock ock ock ock ock ock
This really shouldn't come as a great shock
I beat the ghost and now I'll crush this hack
Pantothenate's an anvil 'round Crabrock
My dialog's an arrow in a nock
I'll give a sample of the skills you lack:
“Ock ock.” “Ock ock?” “Ock ock, ock ock ock ock”
Just one more day until I clean your clock
I'm gonna brush you off my teeth like plaque
Pantothenate's an anvil 'round Crabrock
OCK OCK OCK OCK OCK OCK OCK OCK OCK OCK!
|# ¿ Jan 24, 2016 04:07|
The Agonizing Slowness of Light
Words: 1380 (+134 words from Sebmojo)
Gary's foothold breaks off and he's dangling by his hands, fifty meters above me and to the right. Every mountaineering instinct in me screams 'give aid', but he signals me off with a look. His position's unrecoverable. He pulls his legs up to where they're bent against the basalt face, then lets go and springs out with them at the same instant. It's the smart move. His shell might survive the two kilometer fall with a lucky landing. If he'd tried to recover and failed, it would have hit the cliff a dozen times on the way down. A smart move, but not the one I'd take. I'm not giving up, so neither can you. There's a ledge and a crack in the escarpment two hundred meters up. I climb up to it and wedge myself in, my endurance spent.
I double check my rigging and switch off. The illusion breaks and I'm aware of my own body, floating in a vat of kinesthetic smart-gel on Phobos Base. Gary's decanted by now, having a real meal in the loser's lounge. I have another dinner shot into me through the tube in my helmet before setting the rig to simulate a nice, warm bed.
Five hours of sleep and I'm up. I do some quick exercises to adjust myself to the light-speed lag: fifty milliseconds each way from Deimos to the mountain. Then I switch back to the shell, right where I left it, bracing itself into that crack on the cliff face. Bracing myself, now. I relax my muscles, swing out of the crack and resume the climb.
The shell's a human-shaped drone designed for surface work on Mars. It doesn't breathe, eat, or sleep. For the purposes of the First Martian Triathlon they're limited to the strength and speed of a human in top physical shape. If the shell experiences anything that would kill or incapacitate a human, the operator's race ends and they get a payout based on overall rank. If the shell itself suffers serious damage, they get nothing.
There were five hundred of us at the start. A message pops up: Thirty Contestants Remaining. I'm nearing the top of the cliff, after three days climbing. My equipment's mostly gone. No ropes, no rigging, just two spikes, both worn mostly blunt. I wedge one out of the rock. Instead of making a hole it knocks off a man-sized chunk of rock. I pull back, but those 50 milliseconds mean it smacks my hand before I can react. I drop the spike and am sent spinning, hitting the other side and barely keeping hold with my other hand. I'm not giving up, so you can't either. I put both hands on the hold and look at the wall where I'd been working. There's a natural handhold there. It might be stable. It is. One spike left. I can do this.
The same week I was selected for the Martian Triathlon, my brother was diagnosed with liver cancer. They gave him six months to live. It takes about eight months to get from Earth to Mars. “I know what you're thinking,” he told me. “You are going and that is that. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity-”
“And so's-” I said.
“So's watching me die? Yeah, I know which one I'd pick. If it comes to that, I'll die just fine without you. But I'm not giving up, so neither can you.”
They gave him six months, but he was still alive when I reached Phobos. Alive, but not well. I could tell he was near the end when we got to talk a while over the thirty-eight minutes and change delay of a two-way light-speed transmission. “I'm going to watch you,” he told me. “I've given the docs strict instructions to wake me up or kill me trying if I'm not conscious when you're coming down.”
The first leg of the Martian Triathlon was extreme base-jumping. Orbit to ground. Lots of different strategies: parachutes, winged gliders, insulated bouncing balls. I went with a rocket harness, which was so terrifying and joyous I forgot everything else for a while. I landed fifth closest to the target mark. Out of the five hundred, fifty-three landed without triggering the fatal injury sensors.
The second leg was the climb. After the cliff, that's a long hike up a gentle grade where the biggest danger is getting distracted. It's almost inevitable over four days, and I'm lucky that the dust pit I fall into isn't much deeper than my height. I'm not giving up. I have to scramble, nearly blind, to find an edge rough enough to climb before the shell decides I've asphyxiated
The third leg of the Martian Triathlon is coming down Olympus Mons, using whatever equipment you carried up. Nothing powered, no motors or electricity, just 'muscles' and gravity. There are lots of strategies in the twenty-six of us left. A few looked at their odds and just quit rather than risking the shell damage forfeit. Some doubled down on mountaineering gear. Most went with some variant on skiing equipment. Two brought giant hamster balls filled with impact foam. I brought a mountain bike.
Some people brought a bicycle and rappelling gear, or a bicycle and a wingsuit or glider. I'm the only one who brought only the bike. Coming down the dome, with a good downward slope and next to no air resistance I cover what took four days to walk in about as many hours. I don't go back to the cliff. I take a route over bare rock, avoiding the dustfields, to a part where Olympus Mons is only as steep as a mountain. I stop, check over the bike, disassemble it and replace every replaceable part.
The plan is so risky it would be completely insane in my own skin, probably is completely insane already considering the money at risk. As it stands my payoff would be good if my shell registers death, but if anything goes wrong it'll be torn apart and I'll get zilch. If I 'survive' this, though, I'll win outright. But this ride would be tricky in real time. With 50 milliseconds of lag, it'll take luck on top of skill.
I send the rig a command to detach the elimination gear around my groin. So far I've been able to do without sensation there, but I'll need to feel the bike from the seat to have any chance. I find a promising part of the edge of the dome, put the front wheel out, and lean forward.
It's almost no time at all before I'm traveling faster than anyone's ever been on a bicycle, dodging rocks and dropoffs, catching air and landing parallel. In a few minutes I'm at the fastest I can possible manage, keeping control with the brakes. I see what looks like smoke coming off my arms and think for a second that my shell is on fire, but there's not enough oxygen for that. No, it's all of the dust the shell has picked up being blown loose. I smile. Then it hits me – I mean, I'd known all along, but it really hits me – that I'm going to have to be doing this for hours. No stopping before the bottom.
I don't know if my brother is still alive. If news that he died reached Phobos after the race began, I won't find out until the end, lose or win. With every tough bump or landing part of me wants to just take a spill, just to know. I'm not giving up, so you can't either. I misjudge a jump, angling too high. No way to lower the wheel, so I pull up and land roughly after a flip.
The ground before me levels. I cross the invisible finish line, let the bike slide to a stop as congratulatory messages arrive from Phobos, crew and competitors alike. I kneel and wait. The last few hours felt like minutes. These minutes feel like years. The clock ticks to 19:21. He'd be watching me right now, if... Another eternity, and the clock reaches 38:42. I raise my hands in victory as I see one message from him in the flood.
|# ¿ Jan 25, 2016 03:19|
|# ¿ Jan 26, 2016 19:33|
I'll take both a stereotype and some drama.
|# ¿ Jan 27, 2016 20:26|
Re: Teacher's Lounge Biohazard Incident
Pal_Derek: Lol biohazard.
A_Hardwick: How else would you describe raw sewage?
Pal_Derek: I'd just say 'some kid took a dump in the trashcan'. At least it wasn't on the floor or in the desk.
C_Neff: Which of the three did the deed, as it were?
A_Hardwick: No way to tell. I had them each write out an explanation during detention, and didn't let them alone to make up a story, but everything they said was just nonsense and lies.
P_German: Let's see them anyway.
A_Hardwick: Like I said, they're just packs of lies.
P_German: Humor an old man.
A_Hardwick: Sending the scans now.
This is all your fault, really. I mean, everybody knows that bullies act with full support from the teachers and administration in their role in enforcing social norms. Duh. So it shouldn't have been a big shocker that when Quince Stein finally stood up to the chess-head jerks who had been making both our lives a living hell last year, it was Quince who wound up in so much trouble his parents wound up homeschooling him. So yeah, totally your fault.
Maybe Jerry wasn't the worst of them but he sure was one of them, so when he came wanting to hire me as a math tutor at first I thought I'd just laugh in his face, but then I got a better idea. I took his money and filled his head full of shortcuts that never actually work and could barely keep myself from laughing out loud when he got the lowest grade in the class. I didn't quite think through that we both had a free period right after.
I was making a run for it when I ran into Violet. “Whatcha doing?” she said.
“Trying to not get stomped by Jerry Danes,” I said.
“Oh, I don't like him,” she said. “I can help.” She walked up to the teacher's lounge. “Go on, in here.”
“But it's locked-” I said, then stopped, because when I turned the knob the door just came open. I locked it behind me.
As for what you're really asking about, it was there when I got there. It wasn't a few more minutes before Jerry and Larson showed up with a key and then I pretty much had to hide behind Violet until Mr. Hardwick showed up.
I don't know why people think that chess is a nerd thing. There's no math in it, no science. Just strategy, practice, and the pure will to win. So, yeah, my grades aren't doing so hot in those courses, and even though coach can keep me on the football and basketball teams pretty much no matter what, being able to keep going in the Chess Club was in some serious
So, yeah, I looked up Aiden. Heard he was doing tutoring work, so if he needs money and I need help, well, I probably owed him one anyways. Back last year, before I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, me and the guys used to give him a pretty hard time. I've been trying to be better, but when that little creep stabbed me right in the back like that, tricking me into failing even worse than before, I couldn't let that slide. No way somebody like him gets to put one over on me.
I chased Aiden down the halls and saw him ducking into the Teacher's Lounge. He thought he was safe, but that just meant he was pinned down. Earlier in the day I'd seen Larson coming out of there. I tracked him down and sure enough, he had a set of keys. He didn't want to help at first, but changed his mind when I told him there was going to be a fight. Got back to the door, saw Aiden was still there, check and mate.
So, yeah, it was there when I got there. I didn't even see it, but I could smell it. Violet was there too, and I don't imagine either of them would have done it in front of the other so it was probably there before they got there too. I tried to talk Violet into stepping aside, but she wouldn't budge and it's not like I was going to shove a girl around to get to him. Besides, I was starting to have second thoughts about the whole thing. Maybe I should try turning the other cheek and all that, be a better person. On the other hand, I was also angry enough to punch a wall. And that's when Mr. Hardwick opened the door behind us.
It was there when I got there. The second time. I was in there earlier because Mr. German had accidentally taken Ms. Neff's lunch from the fridge in there and sent be down to bring it back, and it wasn't there then. That's why I had the keys. I was going to give them back next period, like usual.
But then Jerry Danes comes up to me and is all “I need to get into the Teacher's Lounge, now”. He's not a person you want to say no to, but I tried. Then he told me what he wanted it for, and I couldn't resist.
See, there's two types of people in the Drama club. First, there's the quote-unquote actors, which are just the most popular people in the school because that's what keeps the seats filled. And then there's the stage crew, like me. And the second best thing about being in the stage crew, right after getting to wear all black without people thinking you're goth, is that you get to watch the drama. Not the crap on stage, but what happens at the opening and closing night parties, which is where about seventy-five percent of all of the break-ups, blow-outs, and random regrettable make-outs happen. Sometimes we even get to take part, join the conversations, stir up the sh- Oh, sorry. Too soon?
There hasn't been a proper fight at Domegrassi in months, and here I was getting offered a front row seat. So okay, I let him in. But nothing actually happened, and then Mr. Hardwick came along and sent all four of us to detention.
A_Hardwick: See what I mean? Useless lies.
P_German: Where's the other one?
A_Hardwick: There is no other one. There were three students in the lounge, and three in detention. There is no student named 'Violet' on the rolls. Like I said, lying.
Pal_Derek: Yeah, it's like some kind of running joke with the kids here, talking about this imaginary kid called Violet Carlin or something, like she's a real person. Been going on all year.
P_German: There was a Violet Starling, would have been in the class of 1986. Tragic thing. Vanished without a trace right here in school, between classes, and no one ever saw her again
Pal_Derek: That's probably how it got started, then. Someone's parents or uncle or aunt or something told them that story, and they ran with it.
C_Neff: Is what Larson said true? Did you send him down to bring back my lunch?
P_German: I don't think so. I can't say for certain. I have used him for that sort of thing before. He's always been fairly reliable. I thought he wanted the supply room key today to get some tape for the set construction or whatever they do.
A_Hardwick: I'd say he's lying too up against anyone else here's memory, but...
Pal_Derek: Okay, I think I know what happened here. Yes, they're all lying, but that's mostly because nobody likes a snitch.
Pal_Derek: What probably happened is that they went in there to fight, but then the Aiden kid got so scared he poo poo his pants and Jerry figured that was enough punishment, so they kept watch while he emptied his underwear into the trash and didn't have to carry the whole load home.
Pal_Derek: Lucky it was a mostly hard and dry one. At least the kids seem to be getting enough fiber. Anyway, he probably has suffered enough, so just let this one ride.
Pal_Derek: And get Jerry a real tutor and let him take a makeup test. Coach will be all over me if his players can't get their chess.
P_German: You know, a couple of days ago I thought I did see Violet Starling, out of the corner of my eye.
A_Hardwick: Can we take up the subject of mandatory retirement during our next meeting?
A_Hardwick: Not. Joking.
|# ¿ Feb 1, 2016 02:16|
The living will envy the dead (since the dead can't read horrible stories).
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2016 19:12|
The Very Last Moment
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 18:17 on Apr 30, 2016
|# ¿ Feb 7, 2016 23:15|
I've had this prompt in my pocket for a few months, with the seasonal flavoring changing as time goes by. So for this week, what with the action happening over Valentines Day Weekend, I guess I could call it a love letter to the Dome itself, but honestly, it fits more as a new years idea. Too bad the timing didn't work for that. If only...
GOON HAY FAT CHOY!
Thunderdome CLXXXIV: The 2015teen/Year of the Ram Great White Elephant Prompt Exchange
Over this last year of Thunderdome there have been an awful lot of failures. And a lot of those failures left perfectly good individualized prompt unused. Let's find some of then a good home: it's time for a good old White Elephant gift exchange.
The Rules: When you sign up, take one of the prompts on the list. First come, first served. I recommend you don't pick a prompt from one of your own failures or a prompt you originally assigned yourself, let someone else take a go. You only have to use the individualized part of the prompt, not the theme of the week they came from in those cases where there is a difference. (For example, if you get a city, you don't have to have it being attacked by a Kaiju. If you take a food, it doesn't have to get someone in trouble. And so on.)
Since there are an absolute ton of these things, starting from Thursday 11:59 Pacific Time up to the close of entries Friday, if you're already in you can grab a second prompt from the table. And, much like someone might stuff a into the box of an unwanted gift at an office White Elephant gift exchange, each prompt that didn't go in the first round comes with 200 extra words. If you waited until Friday to sign up, you can only get one, so early.
But That's Not All: In addition to this table full of unused prompts, I've got this here bag full of unused flash rules, and if you want, I'll give you a random one. Flash rules also come with a 200 word bounty, but you've got to yourself if you want one. (These are Flash rules that were assigned to people who failed that week and thus may have killed stories, so I don't want anyone taking them lightly.)
1300(plus up to 400 in potential bounties) Words, no Erotica, no Fanfic, tell an actual story, probably use characters and conflict and stuff like that. Also, since this is all about using these old prompts and rules, I'm going to care more than judges usually do about how well you use them. Also, let me say right here that stories that in any way depend on the reader knowing what the prompt is extratextually are going to be frowned upon.
Embarassingly late edit:
Deadline to signup is Friday 11:59 PM Pacific Time
Deadline to submit is Sunday 11:59 PM Pacific Time
Entrants and their Prompts:
spectres of autism: 105) Yoko no Hijo (Fear) ( http://www.spellsofmagic.com/spells/trick_spells/invisibility_spells/12847/page.html ) Flash: Your father's dying words have never seemed so relevant
bluesman: 45) I Palindrome I (TMBG) and 41) House of Cards by Zinaida Serebriakova
Surreptitious Muffin: 90) The moon's my constant mistress, / And the lonely owl my marrow; / The flaming drake and the night crow make / Me music to my sorrow.
Fuschia tude: 116) Young, orphaned animals and children come to you. They remain your tireless obedient companions until they can't anymore.
kurona bright:7) A man's jealousy leads him to murder his lover.
crabrock:59) Magical Realism and Historical Fiction and 117) Your magic ages you a bit more each time you use it, but you will never die Flash: Your story must involve someone going from point A to point B. Point B must be somehow important to the story.
ZeBourgeosie:11) Astor Man Told Deputies He is Creator, Owns World
YDFHippo:84) The Fisherman and His Wife
Ceighk:57) Lost World Children's Fantasy or Space Opera Eco-Thriller and 48) Jelly
QuoProQuid:14) Bloody revenge in ancient Rome, with the emphasis on the bloody.
Titus82:5) A man tried to balance love and war, but sacrifices everything for love.
Tyrannosaurus:28) Fabulist Wuxia or Multicultural Spy-Fi
Grizzled Patriarch:34) Gold mourning ring with a painted eye http://www.britishmuseum.org/explor...ith_a_pain.aspx
Noah:104) Yearning for the Yellow Cities
God Over Djinn:67) Paranormal Noir and 89) The Lawyer and the Devil
Ironic Twist:16) Broadway Boogie-Woogie, 1942 by Piet Mondrain and 92) They sliced the cake and found more Krugerrands with every slice. | Gold in Every Slice by Superb Owls - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2671
Blue Wher:53) Latvia 2015 Eurovision
After The War:24) Don't Let's Start (TMBG)
December Octopodes:113) You're the wizard of that ol' swamp magic. Fiddles in the bayou, will-o-wisp lights hovering over bogs. You can call dark, beautiful, or terrible things from the mud, loam, and stagnant water.
Lazy Beggar 112) You see the flow of information between people and things like a series of intersecting roads or rivers. You aren't all-knowing; rather, you see information when it's in transit between informer and informee. Sometimes, if you're very careful, you can dam or change the flow. and 35) Grimdark Urban Fantasy
SteveHarveyOswald: 114) You're a real wizard in the kitchen. That's not hyperbole, you're a wizard and you use your magic in food. Your dishes are literally magical, like potions except with more shiitake mushrooms. The freshest ingredients cause the strongest effect.
Skwidmonster: 96) Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance
Sitting Here: 98) Venice (The Books)
Killer of Lawyers: 54) Learn Cryokinesis ( http://www.spellsofmagic.com/spells/weather_spells/snow_storm_spells/19665/page.html )
Jon Joe: 9) A young boy unintentionally runs into a pizza deliver driver's car while he is running around in the street playing or a man says he asked his new girlfriend for money to enroll in truck-driving school and for living expenses after he lost at a casino AND 58) Love is Colder than Capital by Keith Haring Flash Rule: (Egg Rule): We bet on what's inside the egg, and it keeps making that weird ticking, but it just won't hatch no matter what.
The Table of unclaimed of Misfit Prompts:
1) A bright light shines on me from the ceiling. | Gambit by Entenzahn - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2101%A0
3) A king gives up his kingdom to his daughters and then gives up his mind
4) A king is usurped and the usurper takes the throne.
6) A man tries to explain why he sold a boat to a woman when the title wasn't in his name
8) A peasant rebellion is incited by a noble house
10) An overgenerous man finds out who his true friends are once he runs out of money.
12) Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge by El Lissitzky
13) Belgium 2015 Eurovision
17) Busan, South Korea
18) By a knight of ghosts and shadows / I summoned am to tourney / Ten leagues beyond the wide world's end- / Methinks it is no journey.
19) Chicken Parma
20) Chicken Tikka Masala
21) Damper (the food, not the adjective)
22) Destroy it, destroy the ship. | A Lucky Break by sebmojo - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=868
23) Doha, Qatar
25) DOOM BOX came after the baby-nuke. | DOOM BOX by twinkle cave - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=843
26) Dude what the hell are you doing, calm down, Daniel said. | What Comes Next by Noah - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2499
27) Epilogue (The Books)
29) Foreign Country and Western (The Books)
30) Getting the Done Job (The Books)
31) Gilded brass astrolabe, made by Humphrey Cole
32) Glenrowan by Sir Sidney Nolan
33) Gold earrings shaped like wild goat heads
38) Hansel and Gretel
39) He said that he wanted me (the Librarian) more than his wife. I just found his website where he's selling my books.
40) High Fantasy and Ghosts/Hauntings
41) House of Cards by Zinaida Serebriakova
42) I imagine your paymasters knew this. | Roaches by HaitianDivorce - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=911
43) I killed a man
44) I knew my brother's pain would intensify for a few moments, but that pain would promote healing. | Insufferable Commandments of the Pagan Shrine by hotsoupdinner - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3140
46) Ireland 2011 Eurovision
47) Isfahan, Iran
49) Judy is Your Viet Nam (TMBG)
50) Killing the Necromancer
51) King Thrushbeard
52) Last Brimstone Of The Tombs Of Blistering Procreation
55) Leiden, Netherlands
56) Little Brother and Little Sister
58) Love is Colder than Capital by Keith Haring
60) Manilla, Phillipines
61) Men Hunting Wild Boar Painting http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/asia/m/men_hunting_wild_boar,_paintin.aspx
62) Mostly it'd be a formality, but if we have any other incidents it would certainly be useful to have you. | Making Friends Over Syrup by Nikaer Drekin - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=1092
63) Multicultural Military/War Fiction
64) No Mind Technique (http://www.spellsofmagic.com/spells/luck_spells/wish_spells/12802/page.html )
65) Ngabuny Ngarrangharni by Shirley Purdie
68) Perth, Australia
69) Pied Piper of Hamelin
70) Power corrupts the substitute duke who tries to seduce the sister of a condemned man
72) Read, Eat, Sleep (The Books)
73) Rejkjavik, Iceland
74) Russia 2012 Eurovision
75) San Antonio, Texas
76) Send the scouts out, Mahdi… But he didn't. | When Judas saved Jesus. by Cache Cab - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2249
77) So drink to Tom of Bedlam / Go fill the seas in barrels / I'll drink it all, well brewed with gall / And maudlin drunk I'll quarrel.
78) sometimes I say awkward things at parties on purpose
79) Space Western Romantic Comedy
80) Spain 2015 Eurovision
81) Stone Cold Coup d'Etat (TMBG)
82) Sweden 2015 Eurovision
83) The Dirty Shepardess
85) The French can be forgiven a little risqué clothing. | Diplomacy by SquirrelFace - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3646
86) The Geographer by Varmeer
88) The Golden Bird
91) The palsy plagues my pulses / When I prig your pigs or pullen / Your culvers take, or matchless make / Your Chanticleer or sullen.
93) Thirty Incoming (The Books)
94) Tiger Riding Ukelele Man by Henri Rousseau
97) Valencia, Spain
99) Video evidence shows an angry man kicking his neighbor's vegetables and memorial to a cat or a young man denies owing his two mothers for a loan, rent, and property damage
100) While her sister claims that she broke in and stole her possessions, a woman maintains that her nephew shot her in the head with a BB gun or a man say that he wanted to help his ex by purchasing him a computer, which his ex maintains was a gift.
101) While you don't know how to do the electric slide, you do have the ability to manipulate any sort of electrical current.
103) Xanthic Leviathan of Battles
106) You are the love wizard. You can hurl the fires of passion at your enemies. You can make lovers burn with yearning until their skin crinkles off their bones. You can invoke the impossible sweetness of young love. Where there is passion, fidelity, infidelity, romance, or devotion, you have the power to do terrible or wonderful things. Truly, love is all you need.
107) You can copy the shape of any man or beast, but if the original dies while you're mimicking their form, so do you.
108) You can distill souls into tinctures and potions and sigils and charms, leaving the body intact. You cannot give back what you've taken, however.
109) You can instantly strike any emotion into the hearts of those around you, but you can't control the effect it has.
110) You have the power to enforce any promise to its fullest extent, even if the promiser no longer wants to be obligated to their vow. Doubt, injury, and death are no obstact for your power.
111) You need to deposit this money into your account. | Deposits by SadisTech - http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3415
115) You're a sea-faring wizard. You are strongest out on the open ocean, where the call of wind and waves is loudest. Your sails will always be full and taur, and should you ever take up surfing, your waves will always be sweet. You can direct the ocean air and water to some extent, but you're always mindful that the seas have minds of their own.
118) Your power relies on intense visualization, which allows you to bring objects or beings out of your mind and into the world. Small, simple things are easier. Large or elaborate things can take a toll. Your meditations can be empowered by a rare, enchanting form of music
(Notes: I deliberately left out the rewrite week and the Tarot readings for reasons. Also, I'd like to thank the judges last year who edited these things into their prompt post and give the finger to the ones who didn't.)
TL (boy howdy), DR:
* Pick one of these that nobody else has when you sign in.
* There'll be an optional second round Friday for bonus words.
* You may ask for a Flash rule for more words, but you gotta toxx.
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 02:05 on Feb 15, 2016
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2016 06:30|
Your father's dying words have never seemed so relevant
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2016 06:44|
I will take 59) Magical Realism and Historical Fiction
Your story must involve someone going from point A to point B. Point B must be somehow important to the story.
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2016 07:27|
In. Someone officialish give me a number.
104) Yearning for the Yellow Cities
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2016 17:15|
give me a flash rule
We never set out to be kings but here we are
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2016 23:21|
In, and please assign me a prompt as I am too much of a babby to pick for myself...
53) Latvia 2015 Eurovision
|# ¿ Feb 10, 2016 04:37|
A bit under 12 Hours before the second round for prompt pickups begins, so if you want the chance at two rad prompts and the extra words that go with it, you should get in soon.
(You can still get in on Friday, but will only be able to take a single prompt.)
In other news, if you toxxed for the week but didn't explicitly request a flash rule (+words), I haven't given you one. If that's you and you wanted one (or if you didn't then but have changed your mind), let me know.
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 18:52 on Feb 13, 2016
|# ¿ Feb 11, 2016 20:10|
People already in who want to can now select a second prompt and receive 200 additional words.
I've edited them in now, but the prompt originally didn't have the deadlines. As you probably expect, entries close Friday 11:59 Pacific and Submission Sunday 11:59 Pacific. If you're not in, you can still get in. All you've missed is the chance for the extra prompt.
|# ¿ Feb 12, 2016 08:04|
In with a
One or more of us might regret this, but...
9) A young boy unintentionally runs into a pizza deliver driver's car while he is running around in the street playing or a man says he asked his new girlfriend for money to enroll in truck-driving school and for living expenses after he lost at a casino
58) Love is Colder than Capital by Keith Haring
Flash Rule (Egg Rule): We bet on what's inside the egg, and it keeps making that weird ticking, but it just won't hatch no matter what.
|# ¿ Feb 13, 2016 06:55|
Signups are now closed.
Lots of cool prompts and combinations taken. You've had plenty of opportunity to decide just what level of constraint to apply and pick directions that hopefully match up with your strengths or your current interests. I have wildly unrealistic high expectations for your stories.
|# ¿ Feb 13, 2016 08:06|
Submissions Now Closed
I understand that there's one toxx out. They have until tomorrow morning, 9 AM pacific time to submit something and avoid the axe. I'll crit any other DQs submitted in that timeframe as well.
|# ¿ Feb 15, 2016 08:09|
Week 184 Results
So, that was a week of stories characterized by proofreading failure as much as anything else. The good thing is that the vast majority of you made good use of all of those recycled prompts. Some of you even wrote good stories with them. More of you wrote bad ones, alas. Technical issues and proofreading failures were rampant this week, as well as more structural ones.
Dishonorable Mentions go to:
Titus82's The Gates of Mercy
Lazy Beggar's Neglected Survival
QuoProQuid's Thus Always to Tyrants
God Over Djinn's How the Devil Got His Claws into Jack O'Kent
After The War's They Want What They're Not
And the loss goes to Skwidmonster's Come Back
Not everything was bad, though. There were some good stories as well, thankfully.
Honorable Mentions for:
Bleusman's Monster Movies
Sittinghere's The Show
Crabrock's The Train to Charlotte
And the winner is
Ironic Twist's Where The Devil Says Goodnight
|# ¿ Feb 16, 2016 08:21|
|# ¿ Feb 16, 2016 16:50|
TD 184 Crits
For me, this week, there wasn't much of a middle. With a very small number of exceptions, either I liked or disliked each story. As the other judges have mentioned, there were a lot of stories with technical/proofreading problems this week.
The Gates of Mercy
Opening has some striking imagery but is more than a bit overwritten. Comma between 'body” and “and” shouldn't be there. The ending is a tonal shift, jarring but not quite jarring enough if that's what you're going for.
: This is an amazingly awkward sentence. Almost any possible change you could imagine making would improve it. 'Breathe' rather than 'breath' in last section opening. Sort of feel like his not caring about his brother makes the inclusion of that character and death not even worth doing, and that there's more than a little unintentional creepiness in the central relationship. (He is a direct subordinate, and isn't given very much agency in relationship-related decision-making.) Possible DM .
It was at once a source of continued frustration and one of endearment.
Prompt use: strong. Maybe a little too strong: if these people are trying to impress each other, Shakespeare seems a bit weak to come up so many times.
The Man Who Made Noodles
“slide” should be “slid”, not a great sign. Otherwise, opening is interesting in spite of itself. “less farther” doesn't work. The shift in which Ten-Style stops being an elder master and morphs into Lee's brother doesn't really work. It doesn't work as a shocking twist, so it should have been established much earlier or done away with entirely. I sort of feel like you decided that they were brothers halfway through writing the story and didn't bother to go back and establish that fact any earlier. Could have used a solid proofing run. But overall, I liked the story, and had it as a Possible HM.
Prompt use: perfect.
Not a big fan of “I loved when she was around.” Not incorrect, but not as sharp as it should be. Overall, the opening section works, I'm interested in seeing where this goes. And it goes fairly well, all things considered. I think the story might have been a bit better served by gendering the narrator a little earlier than you did, just because mother-son and mother-daughter relationships are very different and getting forward which one you're writing about would help. A longer version could show her denying that she said 'go ahead', which would be stronger I think, would also help with the disconnect between the version of the mother in the first scene and the rest of the story. This was my personal favorite of the week's stories.
Prompt Use: strong with two prompts.
Regarding Amelia's Hands
A very impersonal opening, sort of deprotagonizing the putative protagonist. Semicolon in an ugly sentence: “;however,” is a trainwreck that stops the thought cold. “her hands” should probably be “they”. Okay, this is a very weird, heightened-reality world. Sort of cute. The transition to the really weird romance is the weakest part. I was charmed more than others by the weirder stories this week, and had it as a possible HM.
Prompt Use: I see what you did there. Generally good. Flash rule use was a bit forced.
The opening paints a picture, a disturbing and powerful one, but in a very odd order. “disembodied” probably isn't the right word for a leg. “my cursed loudly”? The narrator's self-loathing is contageous, by which I mean I'm hating him, not myself. But that too. I feel like I was promised a resolution to the actual mystery by the way this was structured, and didn't get it. Probable DM
Prompt Use: Well, I appreciate the use of literal meathooks in a Grimdark setting. Fair overall.
Thus Always to Tyrants
The opening is overdone, and all over the place tense-wise. Not a good idea to have it focus on a character other than the protagonist and not even mention him at all. I don't think that god-emperors and religious taboos against drinking co-existed...? Yeah, this is pre-Christian. Heaven should be olympus. The idea that this guy is going to get to be emperor by assassination is somewhere between unsupported and silly. Suicide endings are almost never not awful. This was my least favorite of the week.
Prompt Use: Poor. I don't really see a revenge motive.
The Ocean's Sorry, He Really Is
Interesting opening. Another impersonalized main character, which may be a poor choice to go along with having a sentient ocean as the other character. Another self-loathing narrator as well. I think that this story could have done with a lot more whimsey, or depth. (It sort of feels like a Jonathan Coulton song without the charm.) Something major is missing. The Ocean needs to be less, uh, shallow. Its anger issues should be a part of its character, not something that it's passively watching happen to itself. Possible DM.
Prompt Use: Okay with the painting, pretty weak with the song.
How the Devil Got His Claws into Jack o'Kent
Opening is strong, making promises. Semicolons, the second one worse than the first. Detective work is contract, so it's a fee rather than a salary that this guy would be doubling. If the landlady and her terrier don't become important, I'm going to deeply question why we need that detail. Over-noiring it. After all those flourishes, the actual action sequence, this chase to the office gets almost elided? The ending doesn't really pay off the opening promise, either. Or make much sense I mean, keeping the same names makes zero sense with the devil still following. Doesn't really answer the title's promise either. A wizard who's known to be dead, and wants to keep being known to be dead probably shouldn't be publicly soliciting new business, and “I lied at the beginning because I want people to think this thing but I'm telling the truth to the exact same people at the end of the story” again makes zero sense. Possible DM.
Prompt Use: Very strong, again possibly too strong with the noir part.
Interesting opening. The shift from the hypothetical 'could' to something that just happened is a bit jarring. “Martin had always been the better aim”-ugh. I'm not caring about these vandals after eight paragraphs, make me care sooner. Graph startiing “now, every street” is a mess. Ditto “he had been before” in next. The jump from arrest to trial is odd. Lots of technical, editing problems, and not enough character. Possible DM.
Prompt Use: Strong
They Want What They're Not
Not digging the impersonal opening. By the third paragraph I'm seeing that someone may be being too literal with their prompt. So there's an interesting idea here, but the impersonality keeps it from landing and the excessive promptyness seems forced and annoying. Another possible DM. I feel like the girl is right: his heart condition doesn't really seem to matter regarding his actions.
Prompt Use: Excessive.
Where The Devil Says Goodnight
Interesting opening. Those musicians sure are troopers. A little too slow to introduce conflict. Switching viewpoints halfway through, risky. Aviva had torn the closet apart paragraph needs work. Deeply flawed, sort of feels like three scenes from a larger work that makes a lot more sense. But unlike some others I get the feeling that there is a way to make sense. Getting the relationships all established earlier would help. This feels a little like the last 3 scenes from a game of the RPG Fiasco, in a good way. Probable HM.
Prompt Use: Very good, I'm feeling it on the painting, strong on the other as well.
Okay, this is a weird one. Truman showesque? Okay, so by the end of this I'm not at all sure what's just happened. I think that it's less Truman show than performance art, although I don't know why he had to do the blackout and butt ball thing to communicate directly with the audience in that case, or how he could have arranged either under the panopticon setting, or why he'd have to pre-announce to get them to follow him to Portland. My guess is that he would have had to have set all this up at the very beginning, had the sphere made before starting and arranged for the blackout on that particular day, then quickly retrieved it and inserted it during that short window of not being observed But I sort of liked it anyway, probable HM.
Prompt Use: Yeah, I can see it, more the video than the song.
High-Intensity Circuit Training
The opening is a bit flat. Story is staying that way, not giving me a reason to care about the action when Noah doesn't care about what's happening with these kids. The brids are writing notes?? So, strange things happen, related to animals, to a really boring guy, who hangs out with a mystery girl until she either is eaten by or runs off with a giant lizard. And he's still really boring. On the DM list.
Prompt Use: Good.
Inauspicious opening. Non-prompt-induced dead brother. Bad punctuation in the first paragraph. Lotta semicolons, which doesn't quite fit with the voice. I sort of like this one in spite of itself. At least the dead relative is the focus of the story rather than something gratuitous. HM list, maybe even win contender.
Prompt Use: Very Good
Every Gambling Man
Opening is a bit too introspective, general, tell-y and not enough action-y and specifics to the character. Okay, so I didn't hate this. The overly-introspective narrator persisted throughout, but at least you got a character across. Juan is a cypher, though. (Is he the Devil, maybe?). I feel like a stronger version would have revealed what was actually in the egg, possibly had a few rounds of egg bets fully played out before, even, although word count may have stopped that. One of the few on my middle list. (I think that this was the only story that had a no mention vote from all three judges.)
Prompt Use: High Degree of Difficulty here, and you mostly nailed it. Not feeling the painting as much as the rest, but the strong use of the flash and the well-handled use of the first prompt work well.
Opening is a bit weak. No characters, no conflict, maybe a weak mystery, maybe not even that. Overuse of dashes? “narcotized” is an odd word. Another overly introspective narrator, but at the same time we really don't learn a thing about why he's so, well, off. No sense of what he does for a living, why he has so much time on his hands, or even, really, what it is about this portrait that so oddly speaks to him. He's oddly incurious about it's provenance, too. You would think he would want to know where it came from, why the museum found it worth displaying, that sort of thing. With a ton of words left over this feels incomplete. Probably on the DM list
Prompt Use: Strong
Powerful opening. So the narrator is probably a cat (possibly a dog at this point, but I'll say string=cat.) You may have remembered in IRC that I'm really skeptical about the whole idea that there are mammals who can't perceive time, but I have no problem suspending disbelief for this story's conceit. Sort of losing the thread in the second section, but this is still powerful stuff. Okay, so I liked this one. I didn't quite get everything, what's exactly going on in the threshold trip, what the beast exactly is, but I get enough to see the shape of the story. On my HM list, was in fact my second favorite.
Prompt Use: Good.
Impersonal opening, again. This time with characters who do wind up getting names. Mercy is a strongly feminine name, apparently on a male character? If not, that second paragraph is a muddle. Hal's cursing standards are very strange, being willing to take the lord's name in vain and all. The cat driving the van is very strange and tonally odd. This is one without much of a plot: our protagonist does nothing useful, just hangs around ineffectually until someone else saves them. I could see this working better as a short film than it does as a story, actually. DM.
Prompt Use: When this prompt came around the first time, back in Tyranonsaurs's genres week, I couldn't help thinking of that line from Blues Brothers, the bar that had both kinds of music, Country and Western. But you've broken these down and put them back together in a way that probably led you to some of the story's trouble but was still fairly interesting, so I'm going to say Very Good here.
The Train to Charlotte
Opening has three good lines, but horrible flow between them to the point of non-sequitur. Third graph, dirty twice in a row. 'speak it to my face' not a human utterance. 'at its leisure'? “you wouldn't be able to pull”-that's a bizarre mixed metaphor thing, even for in character. I want to like this one-the prose is entertaining enough, and the main character sort of pops. But his motivations are a muddle. He needs to get to Charlotte, wants to travel in luxury, but can't restrain himself from provoking duels, says in his narrative that he wants to kill confederates but goes out of his way to take them out nonlethally. In my small middle pile, with flaws balancing charms very closely.
Prompt Use: 3 out of 4 are excellent, but, well, at risk of reigniting past conflicts, a nearly total miss on Magical Realism. You really can't have a narrator who understands and practices magic in a rationalistic manner and still fall in that genre. “Henry didn't have the luxury of a millennium buffer” is a line that can't exist in a MR context. Apart from that area, very strong.
An Envelope of Bills
The opening is a bit generic, 'mere' is one of those removable adverbs, and I don't think the dash structure helps things. The dash splices keep on going, almost always badly. There's a time jump 'back to the present' a present that hasn't really been established, with a very confusing 'he' that it takes a lot of thought to find an antecedent for. 'his eyes narrows'-should be 'narrow'. This has some technical problems, but the story is relatively strong. Probably no mention.
Prompt use: Strong
|# ¿ Feb 16, 2016 19:28|
The Mob of Darts: An Oral History
Sarah King, Student
“I was picking my dad up from the bar–he had one of his early afternoon drunks on–and as soon as he walked out the door he looked up to the sky, stared right into the cloud of Darts hovering above and shouted 'Y'know what's wrong with this country today? Too many damned immigrants, that's what.' Obligingly, a dozen or so Darts broke off and headed towards him.
“It isn't even like he meant it. I mean, when he was like that he'd just say something offensive at random, not directed any anyone, never using the hard slurs. Just whatever he was sure would get him hit by a handful of those paper planes, let him feel something through the haze or prove that he wasn't intimidated or whatever. As usual, he laughed as the first two hit. Then the third one, grazing his cheek, drew blood.
“Paper cuts were a risk he always ran, but this was more than that, deep and bloody and painful. Another Dart slashed open his right arm and he started bleeding hard. Then two more came right at him and buried themselves inside his neck and chest. I started screaming and calling for an ambulance. It was probably already too late, even if one had shown up.
“It's a miracle nothing I said called down more Darts, coming at me.”
Elijah Carver, Infosecurity Consultant
“You have to understand that Smartpaper was a security disaster from day one. Hermetrix rolled it out as a free fabricator template right after the first-gen fabs hit the market, as part of some inscrutable startup business model, and the firmware was laughably insecure. Early hackers turned the distributed identification system on its head, making each piece erase the unique identification number of each other piece.
“The addressing code was the most innovative feature of the platform. While limited to a small number of characters, users could specify a name, a place, or a set of actions like 'anyone who says these words', and a powerful distributed network executed them almost perfectly. Then someone else learned that putting two ampersands after the address made the planes crash into the target rather than landing gracefully. So almost immediately after release they stopped being a novel communications medium and turned into a tool for regulating public language, and a powerful tool for anonymous personal harassment targeting anyone who couldn't afford an expensive block-box.
“The second set of hacks, years later, the ones that started the Riot, worked on even more serious security holes. One of the army of Smartpaper hobbyists managed to break through the virtual layer and directly access the hardware itself. They could greatly strengthen the Darts, ramp their microscale engines into overdrive, sharpen the edge to nearly monomolecular. And they could override the blocking signal.”
Melissa Chin, Social Activist
“As a publicly political woman without a block-box, I already knew plenty about paper plane avoidance. Some of my, ah, following were already pretty murderous, even before. One of them posted a video talking about how much he hoped his planes hit me while I was on my bicycle, in traffic.
“I've pretty much stopped riding the bike.
“I was in my car, with just enough window tints and a license plate I was pretty sure hadn't been doxxed yet. And when things went all to hell, when the planes started attacking people who surely had blockers up like cops and paramedics and just about anyone still out on the streets, I stayed in the car. When they started going for the tires on moving vehicles I stopped, got my head out of sight, and watched with the mirrors. So that's how I managed to see the Eyeball Gang in action.
“There were five of them, dressed head to toe in cloth covered with pictures of eyes, leaving not a single square centimeter without one, and the Darts left them alone. I hear it was a safety thing, so deep in the code that the hackers hadn't turned it off yet. Darts don't hit people in the eyes.
“I don't know–and neither does anyone else, no matter what they say–if they were part of the hack, or had inside knowledge, or were just really quick on the uptake, but they were taking full advantage, swaggering down the street, guns out, emptying drugstores and jewelry stores and armored trucks. Part of me wishes I'd been bold enough to come at them with a bottle of motor oil or something and put them back at the mercy of the planes. A bigger part of me wishes I had some of those eyeball threads and could have been out there smashing the system and taking my cut alongside them.”
Quincy Gull, Ethicist
“People ask me all the time if I was surprised by what happened. My best answer is that I shouldn't have been. I mean, almost everyone had their own little list of people who, as it were, would none of them be missed. People made clever utilitarian arguments on how supremely ethical it would be to murder the swing vote that would have put into power a party that would fight an unjust war, or lose a just one, and thought of them as strange contrarian facts rather than refutations of utilitarianism. Rhetorical deployments of firing squads,or tar-and-feather mobs with the lament that we do not live in a lawless or violently revolutionary time had shown no sign of ever going out of style.
“Darts couldn't be traced. Smartpaper famously didn't hold fingerprints or any kind of DNA-bearing debris. That realization, that until some technical solution was found committing a perfect murder took but a little more effort than sending a nasty instant message, hit hundreds of millions of people at once. Even if only a fraction of a percent of them were too tempted to resist, each one could launch a great many Darts. And so they did, and as the casualties mounted arguments of tribal self-defense pulled even more people in. The Eye Cloaks held things off for about a day, before someone patched in a more sophisticated visual filter that saw through the illusion. Glass-targeting Darts made indoor spaces unsafe. Wheel-targeting Darts stopped people from fleeing to unpopulated areas or those towns lucky enough to have thunderstorms displacing their cloud of Darts. By the end, the numbers were staggering, rivaling a World War or the Spanish Flu, even before accounting for the plagues and civil wars in its wake.
“How many were guilty? Was it really just a small fraction of humanity that were only not murders for fear of failure or punishment? I think we need to believe that. Let some future generation seek the truth, if it matters to them.”
Sarah King, Student
“I was out gathering food with some of my new friends from the shelter–literally, a cold war fallout shelter–trying to make good time while the rain kept pouring down strong enough to keep the Darts away. The rain helped with the smell, too. Not so much with the rats. Canned goods only, to be safe. There weren't enough people alive and willing to go out looting, even in the storm, for supplies to be scarce yet.
“On the way back, way to far from the shelter, the rain stopped and the sky opened up and I could see the sun and a rainbow and my heart nearly stopped. I could also see the white paper cloud of planes, silently cruising back into town too fast to outrun. Then Nikki–she lost both her parents on the first day too, and she's three years younger than me, so I'd been taking care of her–pointed to something in the other direction.
“It was another cloud of planes, not in white paper but red and blue. Not Darts. Harriers. The Darts were too small and agile for real fighter planes to fight, and they could and did defend themselves against helicopters, but against the new drones their own size, with actual weapons on that scale to use against them, they were defenseless. The final air battle of the Riot of Darts looked like fireworks, and the shreds of the enemy rained down on us like confetti.”
|# ¿ Feb 22, 2016 04:06|
Yeah, this is just not happening for me this week. I'm out.
Yeah, I'll take the fantasy week crit, http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3784&title=Four+of+Five+Come+Down+Vesh+Mountain%2C+Carrying+with+them+Divine-Ordained+Change
|# ¿ Feb 22, 2016 08:40|
"Duck!" screamed my friend Joe.
"Wait," I said, "Do you mean that I should lower my head, or are you pointing out a nearby corkscrew-penised waterfowl?"
Then the frozen duck hit me in the head and gave me a concussion.
Moral: Don't create ambiguity when you don't have to.
|# ¿ Feb 22, 2016 18:18|
In, for Science!
|# ¿ Feb 23, 2016 00:56|
No poo poo
BIOLOGY: W. Brian Sweeney, Brian Krafte-Jacobs, Jeffrey W. Britton, and Wayne Hansen, for their breakthrough study, "The Constipated Serviceman: Prevalence Among Deployed US Troops," and especially for their numerical analysis of bowel movement frequency. [Published in "Military Medicine," vol. 158, August, 1993, pp. 346-348.]
Terry was not happy, which meant that none of us were happy. What's more, the reason Sgt. Terrance wasn't happy was that he was stopped up, constipated, unable to properly move his bowels, which meant that one of us was going to die, soon.
It started right after we reached Huế. A couple nights running Terry was in the latrine, grunting and groaning for hours before coming out less happy than he came in. Then we went out on patrol and we got ambushed and Texas Eddie takes a bullet to the head, depriving poker night of its resident chump. That evening, Terry was in the latrine making sounds so pleased we'd have thought he was getting laid in there but for the occasional bratts and plops of him doing his business.
We wouldn't have thought much of It if it didn't happen again the next week. Terry got blocked, Airhead got blown to bits checking out a booby-trapped Charlie corpse and nobody had to listen to him going on about model planes again. After that, Terry's intestines worked just fine.
The pattern held up a third time, with Ugly Garber, who didn't actually get turned down by the local whores. He did have to pay double most of the time though. Then a fourth time as Two-Beers McGee got himself shot by a VC who couldn't have been older than twelve, and by then we all knew the score. I'm not usually superstitious, but I could see a pattern when it just about smacked me in the face.
Only us poor saps under Terry's command counted. We had a visit from the Platoon's new lieutenant, fresh out of the academy, and even though Terry was right as rain in the gut at the time he managed to let a sniper see his stripes and take the shot
The next time Terry's plumbing got clogged we all got cautious. I mean, really cautious. And it worked. We stayed alive, and Terry's distress grew and grew and grew.
Now Terry wasn't the sort who'd check himself into a field hospital so long as his arms, legs, head, and cock were all still attached. So he kept going through the pain. On that third day, while we're trying to advance another block through that damned city, Terry yelled “Sniper!” just before I heard a shot and Eyeball was bleeding out in the middle of the street. Eyeball was the squad fuckup, strung out on heroin most days, more likely to shoot a civilian than an actual enemy soldier, just plain unreliable without constant supervision. We spent the rest of the day getting into position to recover his body without taking fire, but it turned out the sniper was already long gone.
That put the squad down to just five, counting Terry. All long-timers. I was on my third tour. Was going to just do one and out when I got drafted and get back home to my girl and our two black Labs, but a month before I was supposed to go home I find out she's left me for the veterinarian and taken both my dogs with her, so with nothing to go back to I stayed in the service. People called me Two-Dogs, which meant I got to bring out the old Indian Name gag whenever we got new recruits. Jersey Eddie got disowned when he volunteered, Turner thought his special girl in the cathouse was going to marry him at the end of the war, and Smokes actually believed in the justice of the cause, stopping godless Communism for Nixon, General Motors, and the red, white and blue.
The next time Terry stopped being able to answer nature's call, he tried to hide it, but we were all completely attuned to his digestive tract as part of our survival skills. We knew the score. We kept extra vigilant while Terry pushed us to move faster. Again, three days into his blockage we were out on the streets and Terry yelled “Sniper!”, but this time I didn't look to the possible nests across the street but back at Terry, and I saw him aim his rifle at Jersey Eddie and shoot the guy right in the head. I was stunned, and barely managed to get my head down fast enough when Charlie showed up and started an actual firefight right then and there.
I told the others what I'd seen. They eventually believed me, even Smokes, but we all knew that nobody outside the squad would, not for a second. Terry had juice, had all the right friends and even though we were understaffed and losing men we were taking streets and blocks faster than some squads at full numbers. Nobody up the chain was going to believe any story where the motivation depended on Terry's prophetic bunged-up bunghole. Wasn't long before we learned that Terry'd stopped making GBS threads once again.
So there we were, Terry not happy and someone about to die. We did what had to be done. On day two of the latest bout of constipation, Turner was the one who called out a nonexistent sniper and when Terry turned around, I shot him right in the back of the neck.
Most people know these days that when a person dies, they usually poo poo themselves, piss themselves too. Not Terry. Whatever was keeping it all inside didn't let up just because he died. And as it happens, the three of us all made it through the end of our tours and went home. We're all still alive. Smokes is in prison these days, probably will be for the rest of his life, and Turner's been fighting bone cancer for the last two years, but we're all still kicking for now. Which I figure means that whatever pit of Hell Terry's in right now, he still hasn't been able to take a poo poo in getting on up to fifty years now, and that suits me just fine.
|# ¿ Feb 29, 2016 02:24|
I'm the Wolf-head helmet.
I'm the second judge.
|# ¿ Mar 3, 2016 05:19|
|# ¿ Mar 8, 2016 05:01|
Week 187 Crits of various size
Let's preface this by talking about names. Use them. About half of the stories this week did not name their protagonists. Many of those did not name a single character. Now, sometimes a first-person narrator can do without a name and no particular harm is done, but less so when in third person and when every character doesn't get a name. Going nameless makes a story that much more impersonal, and there's only one story in this batch that feels like it was doing that on purpose (and that story had a lot of other problems besides.) Also, when you do have named characters, get those names down early and clearly.
Rathlord: Baby (Prompt in wrong place)
Case in point: One of the few advantages third person narration has over first person in flash fiction is that it allows the author to unobtrusively name the main characters. It's always a shame when this is just thrown away. The impersonality caused by naming no one is a liability. Second graf, too much description in the negative, too much past perfect, especially the last line.
Not much there there, not an auspicious start to the week. In my Low pile, but not low enough to DM.
Sparksbloom: Don't Give Up
Another crushing narrator, but much better done in this opening than the last. There's a very annoying on-the-noseness of the fake titles in this one.
The narrator doesn't get named until very late, seven paragraphs in, which is okay in and of itself. In first person narration the narrator can't be confused with anyone else and ought to have enough internal voice that lacking a name shouldn't hurt too much. The problem is that when you name late, you're also gendering the narrator late-and this is a problem you had in the last story of yours I critted as well. Keeping the action in your story in a limbo between two different sets of social gender dynamics, or, worse, leading your reader to make the wrong choice and then have to go back and revise their model, well, that's something that, if done really really well, might be the entire point of a good story. But when it's not the main point of the story, it's just going to get in the way.
I didn't like this one. I mean, it's written competently enough, but the ending doesn't work for me. It seems to be erasing the stakes of the story. I don't hate it either, it was on my No Mention list.
Flerp: A Talk With The Dead Over A Glass of Cold Water
More nameless characters. “whenever he picked” is awful. Both the narration and the characters are using the word “like” way, way too much. Another story in which very little happens, but in this field “very little” is at least better than “nothing at all.
Killer-of-Lawyers: For Want of Pulp
Finally, some named protagonists. But it's done awkwardly. In the second sentence, It's impossible to guess immediately if Brigid, 'the sorceress', and 'the knight' are two or three people, and if two, which of the others is redundant. Not a good thing in an opening. By the end of the paragraph, it looks like the 'petrified' was literal and definitely not Brigid, but we introduce 'the orc', 'Devin', and 'the Queen' and could be dealing with 2-5 active characters plus a stone knight.
Should be 'adventurers' not adventures after the break. This story is in a classic TD failure mode, attempted comedy with only homeopathic amounts of humor, another pile of nothing, bad enough to DM. Avoids the loss mostly by virtue of actually having the basic elements of a plot.
Guiness13: All that Remained Were Ashes
When Death is first described in this story, he's wearing a sweatshirt, which is interesting, tonally off enough to make this Death not quite the standard model. Then, later in the story, Death is wearing a sweater instead. This inconsistency is annoying enough, but the real problem is that that's the most interesting thing in the whole story. When will someone show up with a story with some actual story in it? No mention.
Ironic Twist: Agoraphobe
Interesting opening; holding 'second person narrator' to the end of a long sentence like that is a weird choice, but maybe the good kind of weird? This is another story in which very little happens, but at least it's little rather than nothing and it is well written enough to overcome. My clear win candidate for the week.
Tyrannosaurus: Wild Bears Do Not Smoke
Takes a bit too long to resolve whether these are literal bears or children playing at being bears. Otherwise, another very strong story. Things actually happen, the comedy beats work, the shift from them to the tragic is the right kind of jarring, which is sometihng very, very few td stories have managed. HM candidate.
Newtestleper: In The Old Slow Water
And we're back to the land of the nameless, with a very short piece. And a strange, multi-fruit tree. And next to nothing happening. And more than a little bit of overwrittenness/purple prose. I had his right at the DM/No Mention border.
Hotsoupdinner: A Tree
More nameless characters, although at least the central character gets one. Tenses don't quite work. You know how the typical editing advice in irc is “remove the first paragraph”? This is a story that should have taken that advice. The second paragraph is just so much stronger, as an opening. I'm not sure you need any of the details in that first paragraph, but if you do, they can come out later. This was on my HM list, and I think that the version that started in the right place might have actually gotten it.
Grizzled Patriarch: The Kindness of Strangers
Sadly, my first thought is Streetcar! (from the Simpsons) rather than the original looking at the title. Namelessness! The title doesn't really go anywhere. Things sort of happen in this one, but there's not enough character or agency to call them a plot; might work as part of a larger work I guess. Another story on my middle list.
Crabrock: The Unlikeness of Two Identical Snowflakes
You know what would make two identical snowflakes distinguishable? If you gave at least one of them a name. Just saying, here. Also if something happened in the story, that would be nice. Another no mention.
Bird Tyrant: Time is Nothing
This one makes the other second person narrative's late introduction look positively prompt. Very dark. More nameless characters (although this is the one where the namelessness is deliberate and serves some purpose), more very little happening-abused girl plans to run off with ghost when she's of age, by which she means she will drown herself in a lake. But we don't even see her making the decision here, or any interactions with the second person ghost, just a tiny slice of a miserable life in which literally nothing happens. This was on my DM list from the start, and my opinion of it kept on dropping.
Carl Killer Miller: Missive:
Starts way too slowly for a story of this size, I think. I resent being made to decode for the story, especially a line with a wrong-seeming unaprostroped 'itd' in it. There's a lot of excessive detail early on, which eats up your wordcount to the point where the ending is rushed and doesn't work. Speaking of wordcount, I don't see Russian culture here so unless this is someone with week 100 bonus words at play this should be a DQ. I had it down for the rare DM/DQ.
Ghost Crow: Aware
Another story that is making me spend more time on it than it is worth, causing resentment. I eventually managed to make some sense of it by assuming that it's out of order, maybe, that the virus was earlier and ruined her life, that the major was part of her recovery from that, and that the suicide in the middle of the story is successful? Can't make much sense out of it any other way, and beyond that is little more than a pile of cyberpunk/80's scifi stale tropes. Was originally my Loss pick.
A Tin of Beans: Tingo
Alex collapses onto the couch, staring up at the ceiling for several minutes. There’s a spot up there that looks like dried blood. It’s been there ever since she moved in. She tried to clean it, once, but when she looks up while standing on a ladder she gets horrible vertigo, so she’d given up.
The tenses in this paragraph are causing me physical harm.
Very similar to the other story with the same word, but not nearly as good. The ending is rushed, and that's where what's happening passes from believable to absurd, the place where you really need to sell it, and you don't. In the other story the supernatural element makes the idea actually work. Here, all you have is a nearly superhuman degree of spinelessness in the narrator to carry it. Probably would have been on my no mention list had it been submitted on time.
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 19:59 on Mar 8, 2016
|# ¿ Mar 8, 2016 18:36|
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 04:02 on Jan 1, 2017
|# ¿ Mar 14, 2016 04:30|
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2023 08:27|
|# ¿ Mar 15, 2016 03:18|