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Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)



:toxx:

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Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Let me in, please.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


The Miracle and the Sleeper
992 words

On the first day of school Marty took out his new notebook and began jotting down the lesson plan in class. He only had one goal, and it was to be at the top of his class. He sat with his back erect, ignoring the classmates who tried to talk to him, ignoring their whispers of "weirdo" and "stuck-up".

After the day had ended, everyone scurried out the doors to continue their fun, carefree lives. But for Marty, it was back to the tiny apartment his father had moved them into. The house was too big for us, he had reasoned. Now everything was too small, even without all of mom's things.

Marty deliberately sorted his notebooks after one another. He didn't really want to go home. As he dragged himself to the door, he caught a glimpse of a student sleeping in the back row. Her wavy head of hair draped over the desk like a mop.

He shook her shoulder gently. "Class is over," he said.

The girl stirred. She looked up at Marty with a wide grin. "Hi! It isn't everyday when a kind classmate wakes me up. I'm Judy."

"I'm Marty."

"Howdy, Marty. You're the new student, right?" Judy let out a long, drawn-out yawn.

"Yeah. Do you always do this?" Marty said.

"Not that I like to do it! I have a condition, it's called narco... leprosy or something."

Marty wrote it down with his tiny pen. He would look it up later. "I'm sorry."

Judy shook her head. "No, it's fine. I read somewhere that a lack of sleep will kill you, but I'll be immortal because I'm always sleeping!"

For the first time in months, Marty smiled.

"Oh, right. Is my ride outside?" Judy asked, pointing at the window. Marty walked up to it and looked down.

"There's a big car in front of the gate." He couldn't name the brand. It looked exotic.

"Ah, well. Nice to meet you, Marty." Judy hauled her things back into her pink bag. "See you tomorrow!"

Marty watched her leave. It really was time to go.

###

Judy sat behind Marty, so he didn't see her during class. But during recess she would munch on a sandwich, her desk an island while everyone else merged their desks together.

Marty walked to her. "You're not sleeping," he said.

"Gotta eat, too," Judy said, winking. "Can't drag myself to the cafeteria without falling asleep halfway."

"Am I weird?" Marty asked. Somehow, the gap between them and all the other desks lengthened.

"What made you say that?"

"I don't feel like talking to anybody. Except you." He moved in closer. "But I hear them talking about me. Say I'm weird and all."

"Don't let that get to you," Judy said. "You're okay in my book."

The bell rang. Marty realized he hadn't taken a bite of his lunch. He had been busy reviewing his notes. The lessons weren't hard at all when you have nothing else in your mind. His stomach declared its emptiness to the world, and someone snickered.

Judy pouted, and offered Marty her sandwich. "Want the rest? I'm full."

###

The next day, Marty returned to his desk to find his notebooks gone.

"Have you seen my notebooks?" He asked his seatmate. The boy only grinned mockingly.

He waited until lunchtime to wake Judy up.

"You should've told me earlier," she said, motioning Marty to come closer. "I heard something earlier today. Brad and Frances talked about stealing your notebooks because they think you can't study without them."

"I'm not helpless without notes," Marty said. It wasn't true, though. If he was studying, then he didn't need to think about eating instant noodles at home because Dad couldn't cook.

"You want them back?"

Marty nodded.

Judy gave a crazed smile. "I'll help you." She stood up and grabbed their classmate who sat next to Brad.

"Where did you guys take Marty's notebooks?" she said.

The kid quickly coughed out the the thieves' hiding place. Judy strode down the corridor, Marty following her. She opened the door to the vacant classroom with a bang. Brad and Frances were sitting on the front row, copying Marty's notes with stupid grins on their faces.

"Brad! Frances! Give back Marty's notebooks!"

"He doesn't need them!" Frances squeaked, trying to hide Marty's name from his notebook.

Brad made a defiant face. "Serves him right for being a weirdo."

Marty stepped into view. "I'm not a weirdo."

"You are! You don't talk to anyone except Judy. Everyone hates Judy. Her dad's evil."

Judy walked up to Brad, grabbed Marty's notebook, and upturned his desk, sending him to the ground. Then she grabbed Frances by her pigtails and pulled. "What my dad does isn't your business!" she yelled.

The teachers came in to break up the fight. Judy winked at Marty as she was taken away.

###

Judy was suspended along with Brad and Frances. Marty went to their class advisor and asked for Judy's address. After class he boarded a jeepney then a tricycle to her house. It huge, with high walls. The black car was visible behind the front gate.

He pressed the button on the intercom and Judy came out, trudging up to him in her pajamas.

"Hi, Marty," Judy said. "What's up?"

"Hi, Judy. Thanks for standing up for me the other day."

"No problem. I kinda hate their guts, too."

"I brought you something," Marty said. He took out a stack of papers from his bag. "My notes."

"Aw Marty, you shouldn't have bothered," Judy said. "At this rate, I'll be repeating the year."

"Then let's make sure you don't."

"Okay!"

"Can you tell me more about your dad?" Marty said. "I have a problem with my dad, too. We could compare notes if you'd like."

"It's always about notes to you, isn't it?" Judy said, yawning. "Come inside."

Without thinking, Marty yawned, too. He had finally found a friend.

PHYSIOLOGY PRIZE: Anna Wilkinson (of the UK), Natalie Sebanz (of THE NETHERLANDS, HUNGARY, and AUSTRIA), Isabella Mandl (of AUSTRIA) and Ludwig Huber (of AUSTRIA) for their study "No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise."
REFERENCE: 'No Evidence Of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise Geochelone carbonaria," Anna Wilkinson, Natalie Sebanz, Isabella Mandl, Ludwig Huber, Current Zoology, vol. 57, no. 4, 2011. pp. 477-84.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


In, flash me with a song

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


The Cut of Your Jib posted:

a CHEESEMONGER wants to ELIMINATE THEIR RIVAL

In with a :toxx:.

An ACTION STAR wants to RAISE THEIR CUTE DAUGHTER

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Flash Rule: a CHEESEMONGER wants TO ELIMINATE THEIR RIVAL

Prisoners of Speed
870 words

Hisako sat on her white Skyline GT-R's hood, as her friends helped themselves to her snacks. She hugged her arms as the cold wind blew on the open parking lot. The Wangan expressway was close by, its hundreds of vehicles buzzing like drones.

"Love your cheddar," Shimoda said, munching on a cracker, a can of beer in his other hand.

"You'd better, it's free for The Club," Hisako said. It was an open clique, oxymorons be damned. All you needed was a tuned car and a trip around the Wangan to be welcomed among their ranks. The cars occupied the small space, but no one was racing tonight. All because of an outsider who preyed on them.

A familiar engine roared from outside, monstrous even as it idled.

It was Ghost's blue Impreza WRX STI. Nobody knew who the mysterious driver really was, for she never stepped outside her car, but The Club lived in fear of that turbocharged sound. Countless members had tried to outrun her, but no one ever came close to seeing the face behind the black helmet.

Without warning, the car sped off, heading for the Wangan. It was a challenge.

Hisako hid her grin. It was time--she had her car tuned to run against Ghost. Tonight, The Club would finally avenge itself. She stood up and went for the door.

"You don't mean to go after her, do you?" Shimoda called after her.

"We're ready for her," Hisako said, patting her car's roof. "Save some cheese for me when I get back, okay?"

###

While Hisako hated the idea of Ghost, it was her car that she loathed the most. It was the car of try-hards, and no one in The Club owned a rally car. It was ugly and unfit for the street--it belonged to the dirt track, or even the tarmac, but not in Hisako's beloved Wangan.

Ghost pulled away right after the tollgate. Her acceleration was impeccable, but Hisako's Skyline was tricked out to match the beastly STI. Hisako stepped on the gas, zooming in and out of the web of slow vehicles, keeping Ghost's taillights near and bright.

In battles like this, there were no prizes save for the thrill of the run. There were no winners or losers; only racers and quitters. Ghost's STI kept on the Wangan, not deviating to the more technical lines like C1. The Wangan was a huge straightaway, where The Club earned their infamy. They were royalty here, and Ghost was a mere bandit. Hisako's engine hummed as they approached 300 kph. The other vehicles looked stationary in comparison, Hisako passing them effortlessly.

The STI's obscene rear wing loomed. Hisako felt a wave of revulsion--I'm better than her, she thought. No, anyone from The Club was better than Ghost. It was merely up to her to prove it. She eyed the tachometer, its needle steadily approaching the red line.

"I'll show you who rules the streets," Hisako whispered. Her Skyline was almost up to the STI's nose. 310... 315... 320! Ghost was lagging, receding from her side mirror.

"I did it!"

Hisako's engine blew out silently. A sound that could only come from hell followed, along with gray smoke rising from the edges of her hood that clouded her view. Hisako applied the brakes, doing all she could to keep her car from spinning out. Ghost overtook her. But instead of fading into the lost horizon, she matched Hisako's dwindling speed.

She's guiding me with her taillights! Hisako thought, as she carefully brought her car to a full stop along the shoulder.

Hisako turned on the hazard lights and got out of the car. She didn't even know where to start. Her Skyline was also her delivery car. She was screwed on so many levels.

"Hey." It was Ghost, walking towards her. She was wearing that signature black helmet of hers.

Hisako glowered at her rival. "Did you come to taunt me?" But Ghost never stopped to help others, who destroyed their cars to catch up to her. "I could've brought my car here alone." She only half-believed those words.

"You passed me," Ghost said.

"Only for a moment."

"That might be true. But you were the fastest tonight." Ghost took off her helmet and undid her hair, which fell to her waist. Her skin was almost snow-white that Hisako couldn't help but stare...

"Why do you drive? For what reasons do you risk your life out here?" Hisako said. No one from The Club had ever talked to Ghost. Who was she?

"The same reasons as you. You and I, we're alike: we both want to be the best." Ghost gave her a smile, then turned and walked away.

"Wait!" Hisako fumbled for a sliver of conversation, anything to keep Ghost from leaving. "Do you like cheese?"

Ghost stopped. "I don't particularly hate it, I'd say."

"Then come visit The Club. My cheddars are the best!"

Ghost gave her a sideways smile. "I'll think about it."

It took the STI's start-up sound to jolt Hisako back to her senses.

She looked at her own blown-out car, then to Ghost's, as it zipped through the traffic.

Someday.

"I'll be waiting," she said to the wind.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


In, also with

Week 149 crits, part 2

Megazver - BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR
This would've been nice but it ended abruptly and unsatisfyingly. Does Dakota save the day? Don't leave us hanging! I quite liked the dinosaur's dialogue. I think the exposition in the beginning could've been reworked into the rest of the story, it's too big of an infodump.

s7ndicat33 - IT WAS A HOT DAY IN JUNE
Boring story. Too much military detail bogged the pacing down. Frank's motivation wasn't given satisfactory context and he comes off as an unsympathetic loony. The ending is rushed and weird? This was a pain to read.

Cache Cab - The Termolenator
Very brisk, almost breathless in pacing. The ridiculousness of the mole people was done rather well. Other than that I don't really have much to say. I liked the ending.

Grizzled Patriarch - Kevin Costner on the Tarmac
I didn't think this was very blockbuster-y, but that's about the worst thing I could say about this story. I liked the last scene (although it's a bit melodramatic), the protagonist didn't need that kind of characterization but it sure did help elevate him into A Character, and not just some bodyguard.

Ironic Twist - On The Low End Of The Dial
Exposition done neatly to give action more words. Wendy's betrayal came out of the left field, which I liked less, but this is otherwise a strong story that earns its mention.

SlipUp - The Last Hunt
Lots of proofreading errors soured the reading experience. Learn the difference between "breath" and "breathe". There's lots of action, which is good, but there's not enough grounding in characterization to really make it worthwhile. The first scene is wooden and a tad bit too long.

Lazy Beggar - Goodbye, Nuclear Holocaust.
This was ridiculous in not a good way. Eleanor, brain scientist, does secret agent stuff without explanation. It was really off-putting and the doomsday plot whizzed by without trying to endear me to anything. Why does Eleanor want to erase humanity? Where did she get all those skills? Why should we give a drat? The ending is also unsatisfying, like it just cuts off.

SkaAndScreenplays - Iron Pony
Good action. Setting could've used some more spice, though. Show more of the IRTF's fearsomeness instead of telling us about it. I'm a bit iffy on why Ria trusted the bike to reach her friends, wasn't it an old model? There were some proofreading errors I noticed.

Entenzahn - Captain Hank Rockford’s Space Adventures Episode 1 – Rescue of the Damsel Princess
This would've been an enjoyable romp if not for the twist. It felt like you thought playing the whole action-hero-rescues-the-princess trope was too cliche so you added the twist for its own sake. I wasn't expecting it, and the story's title suggested a straightforward story. Anyway, the narrative voice was funny and I enjoyed the protagonist, all things considered.

newtestleper - Stockholm East Africa
I thought this was an idiot plot with the most incompetent pirates ever. The attempt at an emotional connection (Maako pleading to be killed) was laughable, and... strange. Who is going to kill him? Why? Also, firing a gun is hard. It rags on my suspension of disbelief that Simon was able to figure it out and kill people with his stolen rifle.

Jonked - An Investigator, An Accountant, and a Fistful of Bullets
It looks like you had fun writing this. That's good. What isn't good is that you seemed to have neglected to keep your readers from being confused. I could only follow half of the hard-boiled cyberpunk narration, making this read like Shadowrun fanfiction. Unsatisfying ending--twist left me sighing. I liked Flores, though.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


From Capes to Cameras
931 words

Ahmed Al-Khaldi stood at the head of the table, addressing his fellow heroes.

"Thanks for coming here on such a short notice. I have an important announcement to make."

Silence. Several heroes started to sweat, the smell picked up by Ahmed's hyper-senses.

"No, it's not some world-ending scenario, rest assured. It's just... I'm resigning from active duty, due to personal reasons," Ahmed said.

Rainbow Ranger's arms were crossed, his goggles turning a shade of yellow. "I would like to know these personal reasons, Dyna-Man."

"Neal!" Stargazer said.

"It's fine, Illyana," Ahmed said. "Saving lives and fighting villains is important work, but it has left me empty and unfulfilled. I'll still use my powers for good, but this won't be my full-time job anymore."

"So what could possibly be more important to you?" Rainbow Ranger asked.

Ahmed smiled. He produced a black rectangular object from under the table. He held the camera at arm's length, like a tourist would. "It's beautiful, isn't it? I got this from the proceeds of my old costume's auction."

"You don't mean..." Stargazer said, at a loss for words.

"I've decided," Ahmed said. "I'm going to be a photographer. Say cheese!"

And with that, Ahmed Al-Khaldi took his first photograph.

###

At the studio, Ahmed's model frowned at her face staring from the LCD preview.

"I don't like that shot."

"What's wrong with it?" Ahmed asked.

The model bit her lip. "Can't you see? The perspective is unflattering, and it looks like I'm missing an arm. It's a bad shot."

"But your face here is beautiful," Ahmed said, his big green eyes meaning it. Everyone was beautiful. That was why he became a photographer in the first place. Heck, even General Gnarlax himself could schedule a photoshoot and Ahmed would gladly oblige, provided that he behaved.

"I don't like that shot. It's not going into my portfolio," the model said. "I could take better pictures," she muttered, which Ahmed pretended not to hear.

"Okay, let's try again." Ahmed walked back to his camera.

The model threw an exasperated sigh and smiled again.

###

After the shoot, Ahmed took to the streets to clear his mind from the stress of work. The spontaneity of street photography appealed to him, and he enjoyed capturing candid smiles. After having protected the peace for so long, it felt like a well-deserved retirement.

He spotted a father and son bonding in an outdoor cafe. The man was watching the boy, who was carefully drinking a cup of hot chocolate. Ahmed thought the mixture of joy and apprehension in the father's face made for a good expression. He lifted the camera to his eye, framed the two faces inside a nearby arch, and snapped a photo.

The man, upon hearing the shutter, looked straight at Ahmed. Frowning, he stood up and confronted him. "Excuse me?"

Ahmed smiled back. "You have a beautiful smile," he said, showing the man a preview of his photo.

"I don't want to be photographed. Delete that or I'll call the cops on you."

The photo was quite good, but one had to respect the rights of people being photographed. It was a shame, but Ahmed decided to comply with the man's request. "There, it's gone. Have a nice day, sir."

"Hmph." The man went back to his seat. Ahmed went on his way, but not before hearing a snatch of their conversation.

"Dad? I thought he looked familiar. I think that was--"

"Dyna-Man would never violate your privacy. He's just some creep."

The words stung. Ahmed found that he couldn't take any more street photographs after the incident. He wandered into a park and sat on a bench, staring at the clear sky. There wasn't even an interesting cloud formation to capture.

His shutter finger twitched in frustration. He knew that photography was hard and that he did not possess the innate talent for it. Sometimes fighting General Gnarlax felt easier than doing a photoshoot. Being a hero seemed like something he was born for, but it did not nourish his soul as it did for others. He secretly envied some of his fellow heroes for that.

A fire truck passed, its sirens blaring. Ahmed had heard that sound many times before, but it carried an ominous tone. What if the firemen couldn't arrive in time? He followed the truck a couple of blocks until he saw the burning apartment building, about ready to collapse. People were filing out, ducking and screaming.

"Someone's still inside!"

Ahmed concentrated with his hyper-senses to find the trapped person. Before the firemen could even disembark, Ahmed was already scaling the stairs with all haste. On the top floor he found a woman slumped on the banister, the fire quickly spreading around her.

Ahmed picked her up, shielding her as the ceiling came crashing down.

###

The woman woke up coughing. She was covered in soot, but was otherwise unharmed.

"Are you okay?" Ahmed said, kneeling by her side. His clothes were singed from the fire, a small price for the life he had saved.

"I guess I am..." The woman sat up, squinting at the siren lights. The firemen were containing the inferno, having already secured the area. "Thanks for saving me. And, um, sorry for your shirt."

"I just did what I had to do," Ahmed said. "Say, could you do me a favor, please?"

"Sure!" The woman beamed despite her misfortune.

"Can I take your picture? I think you're really beautiful."

"Really?"

Smiling, Ahmed took out his camera.

The woman smiled back, and Ahmed Al-Khaldi took his best photograph yet.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


In with Mechapunk.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Genre: Mechapunk

Test Flight
1077 words

Inside their underground hideout, Noa fashioned the metal massive face by hand, using tools lost through time and recreated for the sole purpose of perfecting humanity's last hope. The super mechanoid Iron Bearer needed to have a human face. It had to show the alien enemy that humanity wasn't about to be beaten.

After hours of labor, Noa mounted the face on Iron Bearer's empty visage, finally completing their life's work. It was fifty meters tall and painted blue and red and yellow. Its head sported a horned helmet akin to the great warlords of old. Iron Bearer was a one-mech army capable of taking on the horde of Uriels invading the Earth.

"Iron Bearer, activate!" Noa said, their voice echoing throughout the vast chamber. The super mechanoid's eyes glowed green, and it straightened with a mighty rumble of gears and servos functioning with clockwork precision. Noa touched their bracelet, summoning a personal warphole leading directly into Iron Bearer's cockpit. It was time to save the world.

###

Iron Bearer emerged out of its warphole and into a raging battle in a ruined metropolis. Tyr-type combat mechs were forming a defensive line, holding out against the swarm of insectoid Uriels threatening to break through and overwhelm the last Federation flagship, the Palace Athena. The radio picked up allied chatter, frantic and desperate.

"Storm Platoon wiped out! Rogue Platoon down to half strength!"

"Where the hell are the reinforcements? What's Devil Blue doing?"

Iron Bearer stood in front of the enemy charge and lifted its arms. "Chain Rocket Punch!" Noa commanded. Iron Bearer's fists blasted forth, connected to its body by chains of memory metals. Iron Bearer's attack stopped the enemy in its tracks, setting a chain explosion that decimated the Uriel force. Inside the cockpit, dimming filters activated to dampen the brilliant conflagration and prevent any ocular damage.

A grin split Noa's face. This was it. They were taking the fight to the enemy. Whereas the Federation forces tried to prevent defeat at all costs, Noa would seize victory instead.

The Uriels' advanced AI compelled them to retreat, bringing back combat data to their extraterrestrial masters in order to refine their forces. Noa was confident that the war would be won before they could adapt to Iron Bearer. And if they ever did, they'd just have to make it even better.

Iron Bearer's wayward fists returned, and Noa faced the mechs they had saved. "We are Iron Bearer, and we are here to save the Earth and defeat the Uriels' masters."

A blue mech landed on a dilapidated building, bringing itself to Iron Bearer's eye-level. It was an Odin-type commander unit, piloted by the renowned ace Devil Blue. The mech pointed its vibro-bladecannon at Iron Bearer.

Admiral Lee's voice boomed from the Palace Athena's speakers. "Stand down and surrender your mech and its blueprints to the Federation forces. Any resistance on your part shall be treated as a hostile action."

"We are Iron Bearer, pilot and mech," Noa replied. "We will fight and win the war, with or without you." They had half-expected this. The Earth was under global martial law, and the Federation was becoming desperate. Still, it was worth a try to get the Federation on their side.

"All units, engage," Devil Blue said. The Tyrs started shooting, and the Odin charged with its weapon.

"Evasive maneuvers!" Noa commanded. Iron Bearer activated its thrusters, its AI evading both Devil Blue and the Federation forces' gunfire with reflexes that no human could match. Iron Bearer grabbed the Odin's sword arm, crushing it.

"I've got you," Devil Blue said, activating a vibro-blade in his mech's foot and slashing it at Iron Bearer's face. The armor held unyielding, but Noa felt a pang of uncertainty. Was there a flaw in Iron Bearer's defensive systems? If it had been a stronger attack...

Iron Bearer's alarms went off, showering the cockpit in red light. The Palace Athena had fired its Grand Cannon at them. Its output was comparable to Iron Bearer's core reactor, and could prove the only weapon in the galaxy that could damage the super mechanoid. But what troubled Noa more was the fact that Admiral Lee was willing to sacrifice Devil Blue, the best pilot he had, to destroy a threat.

If Iron Bearer could not save one soul, then it could not save everyone. Noa would not let a single human die on their watch. "Shield at maximum output!"

Iron Bearer unleashed a spherical shield of green light, directing its strongest point at the center of the Grand Cannon's firing path. The cockpit readings were off the scale, and Iron Bearer's output decreased dramatically as it protected the Odin and itself.

The blast broke through the shield and struck both mechs. Devil Blue lifted his own shield, which crumbled in an instant. Noa rushed to save him by turning Iron Bearer's back to receive the rest of the blast.

Iron Bearer stood on a smoking crater, down to one knee. The Odin was all but disintegrated, save for its cockpit block.

"Prepare to fire again," Admiral Lee said. The Palace Athena's prow shone with a brilliant pink light. Noa seized the chance by opening a warphole to safety, carrying Devil Blue's cockpit with them.

###

Noa opened the cockpit of Devil Blue's mech. The ace pilot was unconscious. They pulled out his respirator and gasped. Devil Blue's face was half-covered in cybernetics. What's the Federation been doing with its pilots? they thought. They put him in the medical bay and placed him under the care of servo-mechs.

Noa sat in front of Iron Bearer, which looked no less for wear. Their weapon wasn't perfected yet. Noa would have to keep improving Iron Bearer. Its first sortie wasn't a failure, but it wasn't exactly a smashing success, either. The shields would have to be improved, the defensive algorithms tweaked, among a dozen other things. But there was a remaining breakthrough needed.

Noa was primarily an engineer, not a pilot. What if all the automatic systems failed during a fight? What if the fire control system broke down, or the voice command module got damaged? Iron Bearer needed a proper pilot.

They started compiling a list using their bracelet. The first item was to make a second cockpit seat. But that was the easy part. Noa would have to convince Devil Blue to fight alongside them, and while they didn't relish the undertaking, it needed to be done.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Soul, South America.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Psychedelic Soul / The Andes

Soul/Off
1285 words

Joleen peered at the village through her binoculars. She still had a long descent ahead, and this was all but another village to go to. She absently felt her backpack tug at her shoulders, where all her worldly possessions fit snugly. She had quit her job at Wall Street, sold off everything she couldn't carry, and embarked on this journey to bring her father back. With renewed vigor, she continued her descent at a renewed pace, almost reckless, hoping against hope that she could finally reach the end of her quest.

A full hour later, she reached the base of the mountain. She made contact with a villager, who was sleeping underneath a tree.

"Hi," she said, starting with English. "Does Funky live in this village?"

"The Chief?" the villager said, breaking into a smile. Joleen's eyes lighted up. "We don't get enough visitors. Please come with me."

Joleen was in a somber mood as she reached the village. What was she going to say to her father to convince him to go back to civilization with her? He used to be a saxophonist for a soul band. She used to attend their gigs with her mother. When mom passed on, she had no one but her father left. But one day, he decided to quit the band and leave for the Andes. God knows what got into his mind.

The villager led her to a large hut in the center of the village. Joleen went through a bright-colored curtain, unprepared for what she might face. A man with graying hair sat in the center of the room, flanked by no less than three adoring young women.

"Daddy!" Joleen said.

"Joleen?" Funky replied. "My girl?"

"I can't believe you, daddy!" Joleen said, struggling to find the words. "You know that mom passed on, but you do this?"

"My girl, I can explain," Funky said. "Your mom wouldn't be smiling in Heaven if I wasn't happy on Earth." The women, who were barely out of their teens, snuggled closer to Funky.

"What about the band?"

"It was a mistake."

"The wonderful music you made was a mistake?"

Funky shook his head. "The evil, consumerist soul that had permeated every pore of the music industry is a mistake. That's why I'm here, Joleen. I traveled the world, found this humble village, and now it's doing mighty fine because of me!"

"I know that the world is screwed up, dad, but you and your talents should be out there, changing the world for the better."

"This is changing the world for the better, girl," Funky said.

Joleen frowned. "Stop calling me girl. I'm twenty-eight."

Funky sighed. "Joleen, you're welcome to stay here, girl, but I ain't leaving."

"I swear, daddy, you'll regret this," Joleen said. She turned around contemptuously and left.

###

Fifteen years ago, Joleen was in a front-row seat at a The Psycho Metrics gig. Her father was the saxophonist, and he applied soulful solos and complemented the guitar riffs with his own tunes.

After the gig ended and the groupies dispersed, Joleen and her mom approached Funky, their starstruck eyes threatening to go nova. Joleen's mom hugged Funky, as the girl precociously watched the band pack up their things.

"When I grow up, I wanna be a saxophonist," Joleen said.

"Well girl, you gotta practice," Funky said.

"Can I hold it, daddy? Your saxophone?"

Funky hesitated, then gave his precious instrument to his daughter. Joleen had watched her father perform countless times. She fumbled a bit with the holes, then managed a clean B-flat sound.

"Whoa!" Funky said.

Joleen followed with a D, then an F, forming a chord.

"This kid is insane, yo," he said.

"She's your daughter, of course," Joleen's mom said, beaming.

###

At three AM in the morning Joleen rose, playing her saxophone in an ever-repeating solo as she traipsed through the village. People shambled out of their homes, half-awake and in a trance from the otherworldly music. They formed a crowd, following Joleen wherever she went.

Joleen took them to the mountains. Ill-equipped and in their bedclothes, the villagers followed, seemingly uncaring about the harsh conditions.

She had left a note on Funky's hut: I have your villagers. Follow me south, to the mountains, if you want them to live.

###

Funky put on his worn cloak and saxophone case, the only things left of his former life, and ran to where Joleen told him to. It had been almost an eternity since he crossed the Andes and stumbled upon this idyllic village. He was not going to let anyone disturb the peace, daughter or not.

He spotted a glimpse of the villagers climbing up, unmindful of the thin air or the drop below. He picked up the pace.

Funky reached Joleen's camp after two hours of frantic climbing.

"Wish you'd use that sense of responsibility to raise me," Joleen said, playing a tune to get the villagers up. They formed a neat square between her and the cliff.

"But you grew up just fine, Joleen," Funky said. "I'd have made a bad father. I mean, I wasn't really around in the first place."

"It's a little too late for regret, don't you think?" Joleen said. "All I'm asking you is to come back with me. Reform the band. Touch lives. Right your wrongs."

"I already am doing that," Funky said. "Don't hurt them, please."

"This is all on you, daddy," Joleen said. She put the sax's mouthpiece on and started playing a tune. The villagers turned about face and started walking towards the cliff.

Funky got his own saxophone out of its case and played a counter-melody, which prompted the villagers to stop in their tracks. He continued the tune, layering notes and outdoing Joleen's own tune to save his people. The villagers took a collective step backwards.

Joleen fought back Funky's counterattack with her own solo. The villagers retraced their steps to unwitting suicide.

Perspiring, Funky poured his heart and soul into his tune. He trilled a loud, soulful note, shattering Joleen's hold on the villagers, save for one kid, who was closest to the precipice. Funky ran past Joleen and pulled the child away, but the ground was slippery and he went past the ledge. He grabbed the saxophone as it fell but failed to secure a hold on the ledge...

Joleen held on to his outstretched hand. "Help me!" she yelled, and the villagers helped her pull their chief up to safety.

Panting, Funky lay on the rocky ground. "Ain't ever gonna do that again," he said.

Joleen was aware of everyone's eyes on her. "So, are you gonna push me off the cliff instead?" she said.

The boy's father took a step forward. His hands were wide apart in a gesture of non-violence. "The Chief wouldn't want that, and neither do we."

"Joleen." Funky lay a gentle hand on her shoulder. "I suppose we gotta talk once we're back in the village."

Joleen looked at the rising sun. "Yeah."

###

"I'm thinking of going back to my job," Joleen said. "Managing funds wasn't too bad." They were drinking tea brewed by one of Funky's wives.

"I've no idea how money works, but it looks like you've got a knack for it," Funky said. "And your sax?"

Joleen's hand twitched. "I'm afraid to touch it again. I might... you know. Do bad things with it."

"It's a gift, Joleen. You use it to do the right thing."

Joleen took a long sip of her tea. It tasted just like home, wherever it was.

"I'd like to stay for another day, daddy," she said. "I wanna play with you again."

"No tricks this time," Funky said, grinning.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Doing up to three crits this week, give me a holler if you want.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


QuoProQuid - Dinner With the Parents
This was a light and enjoyable read. The protagonist's struggle was absolutely relatable and it was funny all throughout. My quibble is that the protagonist doesn't do much, and his thoughts do the heavy lifting for him. Making him act more would've made the story pop so much more and increase the dramatic tension (as Astrid's mom doesn't seem to be a mind-reader).

Chili - A Cold Night In Basque Country
I liked this, it had sort of a The Monkey's Paw vibe to it. The weak point, I think, is how Amaia met Kisin, it lacked oomph and felt a bit forced, though their interaction was pretty solid. The twist was rather predictable, but it wasn't bad. Ends well.

Electric Owl - And the House is On Fire
You wrote a Goon Story. You know, that story where a goon does gross things, and that's pretty much the point. I haven't found anything good to read, and this doesn't change that. In your story, a person is shown to be gross, then he dies, the end. That is not enjoyable. I urge you to break down your story idea into a plot and think whether people could enjoy reading it. This shouldn't have made it past that test. You have good prose, I'd give you that, but I wish you used it on a better story.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Doing 3 crits. Any takers?

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Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Late crit but

Ska and Screenplays - Terrible Purpose
This story made me more than a little mad. Proofreading errors and a hard-to-follow story that I must give a bit of a stretch to fit the prompt. You tease who Justice is but ultimately blueball us on a reveal, and that's disappointing.

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