gently caress, I've missed this bloodstained corner of the internet.
In with White Hole, because last time I was here I cowered out.
|# ¿ May 11, 2016 20:04|
|# ¿ Nov 29, 2022 18:25|
Your Lists Are Numbered, Punk
"'Top 20 Holding Cells You DEFINITELY Want to Miss!', maybe?" Clara muttered to herself while she crouched in the corner of the brig; typing out a few quick notes on the keyboard projected by her holo-eye. She sighed, "no. Doesn't catch the eye enough, not compared to the guy that got thrown into a Glixokian justice pit and lived to sell the story." Bastard had cornered the jail tourism market.
A glance at her fellow cellmates confirmed that the situation hadn't changed much. Some Unghra drooped, defeated, with their front tendrils weakly wrapped around the bars of the cell. A pair of Hylia in the corner desperately pecked at the wall behind them with their metallic beaks, pausing occasionally to screech at each other. The only other human was loudly questioning the nesting practices, physical prowess, and carapace care of the lone Glixok guard standing outside the cell, who in turn angrily clicked his mandibles. Not very exciting, but effective enough imagery that somebody’d be filling to pay a couple sbux for it.
Clara winked, snapping a quick photo. Under most circumstances the guards would have already disabled her holo-eye. Luckily, they were a bit preoccupied by the unstoppable, all-devouring white hole that had spontaneously appeared in the center of the space station thirty minutes ago, lazily sucking in entire sections at a time into its shining maw. No one knew what was on the other side, and no one was in any particular hurry to find out, either. An evacuation had been ordered immediately, of course, but it seemed that the thousands of prisoners on board had been overlooked, along with the grunts in charge of guarding them.
The worst part of it all, really, was how helpless she felt. Clara had always figured that she’d wind up way over her head one day, but not like this: locked in a cramped prison cell out in the fringe of civilized space. She had already gone through every step of the “10 Weird Secrets For Coping With Your Imminent, Painful Demise!” article that she had saved to her eye for easy reference, but it hadn’t helped much.
The door to the brig slid open with a cheery pneumatic hiss, revealing a new guard with an opaque riot helmet, subtly buckling under the weight of the gun they were carrying. “Hey, bud,” they said, their voice heavily distorted. “Heard ya were havin’ some trouble with a prisoner. This stasis gun’ll shut him up for a while.” The Glixok chirped, happily accepting the weapon.
As the guard heaved the stasis gun onto his shoulder and took aim at the paling prisoner, Clara realized that she had seen that model before: in the research she had done for ‘Wow! You’ll Want to Shoot the People Who Named These 12 Guns! Preferably With Their Own Guns!’ “Look out!” She shouted, yanking the man out of the way just before an absurdly large laser beam shot out, narrowly missing them and instantly disintegrating the cell bars that had been in its way. The inventor of that particular stasis gun had operated under the philosophy that the easiest way to keep a thing from changing was to completely erase it from existence.
There was a brief moment of silence as every prisoner turned to stare at the brand new gaping hole. In its surprise, the Glixok had dropped the gun on its foot, and the riot guard was nowhere to be seen. “Oi! You trying to kill me?” The human bellowed, charging at the pained Glixok and tackling him. The rest of the cell’s inhabitants followed his lead, loudly cheering as they sprinted, slithered, and slimed their ways to freedom. Clara cautiously trailed behind them.
Clara crept out through the brig door, only to let out an undignified shriek as she was snatched by the riot guard, who had been lurking just out of site. “Where do ya think you’re goin’, prisoner?” They drawled, the laziness of their words strangely at odds with their imposing appearance. Clara raised her hands in surrender.
“For the record, I thought taking unauthorized pictures of an Ax’Tularian politician was just a little illegal, not ‘arrest you so hard you need to be transferred across the galaxy’ illegal, so you’re probably better off trying to catch the real criminals, especially when the station is literally falling apart? Please?”
Unsurprisingly, the guard burst out laughing. Surprisingly, they then proceeded to release their hold on Clara and remove their helmet, casually tossing it to the floor and revealing the carefree face of a familiar woman. “Nah, you’ve got it right, kid. If I hadn’t’a stepped in, you’d’ve just been slapped with a fine. It took a lotta work to get you here, lemme tell ya, so you better praise me."
“You seriously got me arrested, Lark?!” Clara sputtered, not sure whether she was more offended or impressed. Lark’s connections were legendary in the industry, but even Clara hadn’t expected them to extend so far.
“Yeah? You ain't in jail anymore, are ya, so I don’t see the problem,” Lark said cheerily, slinging an arm around Clara. “C’mon, we gotta get you out of the prison system before we start anythin’ else. I’ll explain on the way.”
“I’d appreciate it if you’d give me some warning before snatching me halfway across the galaxy. I was researching,” Clara said, watching Lark as she bypassed the prison console’s security.
“What, researching for cutting-edge journalism like ‘Conspiracy or Coincidence?! 30 Politicians that Look Like Famous Rock Stars?’” Lark scoffed.
“...Movie stars, actually,” Clara admitted, blushing slightly. It’s not like she didn’t have any sense of professional pride, but a paycheck was a paycheck.
Lark shook her head. “Whatever. Point is, the game’s changin’, kid. You’re not gonna stand out just by taking nice pictures. D’ya really think the bored assholes that click on your article are gonna take any notice of the quality? All they’re lookin’ for is somethin’ to distract them for a minute or two. You wanna catch their attention for real, you gotta be loud.” As Lark said this, warning klaxons started to sound from the console. She turned back to Clara and grinned, “‘The 5 Most Effective Ways to gently caress Over a Space Station’, for instance.”
Chaos exploded around them as prisoners flooded out from their cells, pure weight of numbers flattening any resistance the guards could have mustered. As Clara watched, taking a near-constant stream of photos with her holo-eye, a huge chunk of the wall was torn out, sending anyone nearby flying into the white hole. “Didn’t exactly plan on this, but the white hole’s a pretty clear-cut #1 entry,” Lark laughed, shaking Clara back to reality. “C’mon. I locked down two escape pods for our getaway route.”
“Weren’t you just going to remove my name from the system?” Clara managed, overwhelmed by everything happening around her.
“I did! Just happened to wipe everyone else’s name while I was at it. Officially speaking, there’s never been any prisoners here in the history of the station. Hilarious, innit?”
Snap. Two Hylia, pecking out a guard’s eyes. Snap. Entire wings of the station, wiped cleanly from existence. Snap. The endless majesty of the white hole. Everywhere Clara looked, she saw once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunities, and photograph she did. By the time the pair managed to make their way to the pod bay Lark had promised, Clara’s holo-eye was nearly filled to its capacity.
“You got one of those two Kruk’Chel that were stranglin’ each other even as they got flung into space, right?”
“Nice. Keep it separate, we can probly throw together some pithy words about the futility of revenge an’ poo poo, make it legit journalism,” Lark grinned. “So, Clara, now that you’ve got a taste of the high life, whaddya say? With my guts and your eye, we could make one helluva team.”
“I don’t know,” Clara admitted, “violence sells, I get it, but… people are dying, Lark. Doesn’t seem right to make money off of it.”
“Just wait till ya see how much money we’re talking about, I’m sure you’ll change your- oh. poo poo.” Lark paused, one step into the bay.
“What’s up- gently caress,” Clara echoed, once she had stepped close enough to Lark to see inside. Only two pods remained in the bay, one on each side. One pointed into the safety of open space. The other, directly into the white hole. Before Clara could react, Lark reached into her sleeve and pulled out a stun baton, slamming it into Clara’s head with an electric jolt. She collapsed.
“...Sorry, kid. Didn’t mean for it to turn out this way, but I gotta look after myself first,” Lark apologized, stepping over Clara’s prone figure. “I was honestly tryin’ to give you a leg up, y’know? Deal ya into a game that actually counted, for once.” She hesitated for a moment in front of the pod, turning back to look at Clara, “I’ll list ya as a co-author in the article I’m gonna make from this. Use some of the money to build you a nice memorial…” she trailed off. Whatever legitimate regret there had been on Lark’s face slowly vanished, replaced by a self-satisfied smirk. “ ‘Course, what’s a memorial without a lil’ somethin’ to remember the deceased by? Not like you’ll be needin’ those photos, anymore.” The last thing Clara saw before she passed out was Lark casually strolling back towards her, slipping a scalpel out of her pocket.
The dull, thudding pain living in Clara’s head was quickly joined by a sharp, stabbing pain as emergency sirens started to blare around her. She sat up in a cold sweat as the blast doors descended, sealing her into the pod bay. The white hole had been hard at work while she had been sleeping, having sucked up any part of the station she could have used to try and escape.
More importantly, the now empty socket where her holo-eye had been hurt almost as much as it had when she had first lost her real eye. Clara slumped. She’d kept everything on there. Every photo, every article, every scrap of an idea she’d ever had, gone along with half her vision.
What the hell could she do, now? Even if a passing ship miraculously happened to pick her up before the white hole did, what came next? Would she forfeit any amount of time in the sun she could have ever hoped to achieve, penniless; stuck watching Lark’s rise to the top? As she published Clara’s photos? Getting direct revenge was out of the question, she was too smart, too tough, too well-connected.
No. She’d have to do this Lark’s way. She needed something big. Something new and bold, something no one had ever seen before. There was still the one pod left, aimed directly at the white hole. Sure, other people had been sucked in, but none of them had entered it on purpose. They were surprised and exposed, unprepared for whatever lay on the other side. With the pod's protection, though, Clara might have a real chance.
Clara strapped herself in and slammed the launch button, a manic grin on her face. “Try topping ‘Secrets of the Universe Exposed! True Stories from a White Hole Survivor!"’, motherfucker.” The thrusters ignited, sending her flying into infinity.
|# ¿ May 15, 2016 20:44|
One's an ancient city that has developed its own consciousness over the centuries. The other's an aged street cleaner.
|# ¿ May 16, 2016 22:04|
One’s an obsessive overachiever running for Class President and the other’s a middle-aged ghost with an axe to grind.
“You’re wasting your youth, kid,” Keith complained as he floated past me, frowning at the simple poster I was attaching to the board.
“I’m not wasting it. I am investing it,” I muttered, carefully securing the paper with my stapler. School had been out for a couple hours, and aside from the occasional club straggler, no one was around to hear me talk to what everyone else would see as a seemingly empty hallway. Didn’t mean I was going to take any chances, however.
“Alex, I’ve been rotting longer than you’ve been living. You can trust me when I say that student government doesn’t matter a goddamn bit, especially when you’re a freshman,” Keith said, having gotten bored of flying in circles around me; electing to instead settle down and lean against the wall next to me. I was impressed, honestly, by the calculated effort it must have took for him to position himself in a way that he didn’t accidentally phase through the wall and look like a complete dork. I guess ghosts have a lot of time to work on their image.
I took out my ruler to triple-check that everything was tidy and level, then took a step back to admire my work. “Please, vote Alexander Brooke as your freshman class representative,” the poster said in large, friendly letters, featuring a picture of me giving my heartiest thumbs up. Unprofessional, but my friends had said I should try to “not look like you have a stick up your rear end, haha sorry Alex, seriously though maybe try smiling a bit,” and I took that advice to heart.
Keith made an exaggerated show of checking the gold watch on his wrist. “It’s getting late, kid. This watch says you’re about, oh, thirty years overdue for a break. Listen to your friendly undead educator and go home. You’re gonna spend the next four years of your life in this school, I don’t see why you need to waste your free time here, too.”
I shook my head, pointing to the respectable stack of posters I still had with me. “Not yet. I’ve mapped out every single board in this school that allows student postings, and I’ll need to put all of these up tonight. Getting your name out early is the most important part of an election.”
“I was afraid you’d say that,” Keith sighed, but he followed me regardless, complaining under his nonexistent breath all the while.
Sometimes, it can be hard to pick the dead out of a crowd. When you’re surrounded by people, you can never be quite sure if your elbow really passed entirely through the woman next to you, or if you’ve just got really bad depth perception. Other times, the only difficult part is not bursting into laughter when the well-dressed gentleman that you thought was a teacher in the back of the auditorium starts loudly swearing at the principal’s welcome speech without anyone else noticing.
While I was familiarizing myself with the school that first week, I came across a framed newspaper article in an out-of-the-way hallway, memorializing an english teacher that had died thirty years ago in the process of saving an elementary-schooler from a truck that had carelessly blown through an intersection.
Keith was hard to miss. He spent most of his time haunting the classroom of the teacher who had replaced him, keeping up a vulgar running critique of his teaching style; which honestly made it pretty difficult to concentrate. Other times he would just float through the halls, wistfully looking at the gathering groups of students.
As much as I’d like to say that I had first approached him out of the goodness of my heart for how lonely he looked, I had really just gotten fed up by his constant chatter. I came up to him one day after school, when the classroom had long since been deserted. “I failed the pop quiz we had today because of your noise, you know.”
He rolled his eyes. “It’s not like you’d be any better off if you could actually hear that old fart - holy poo poo, you can see me?”
Ever since then, Keith made sure to “keep an eye on me so I don’t work myself to death.” I didn’t mind too much, the man could clearly use the company. “Seriously, kid, what do you think you’re getting outta this?” He asked me one evening, as I was working on my election paperwork. “The way I see it, you’re giving up hours of your free time so you can pretend to be doing something important?”
“The thing is,” I said, setting down my pen so as to not accidentally smudge the paper, “Even just ‘pretending to do something important’ looks good on a scholarship application, especially if I manage to do it for four years straight. I know I’m just a freshman, but If I want any hope of getting into and through college without drowning in debt, I need to get your foot in the door at some point, don’t I?
Keith seemed legitimately taken aback. “Well, drat. Shows how out of touch I am. I’ve heard so many of you students working hard for their futures, but it never seemed real to me, y’know? I’ve been stuck in this school for so long that nothing inside of it seemed to matter, anymore.”
“Looks like you’ve got a lot of things to relearn, teacher.”
Ever since that evening, Keith ceased his complaining, instead electing to become my honorary campaign advisor, offering the wisdom of his many years observing the school.
A month later, the election results had come in, and I had won in a landslide. Keith and I lounged in the english classroom, celebrating our victory.
“We did it, kid. Whaddya say we go get some celebratory coffee? You drink it, I drink its ghost,” Keith said from in front of the chalkboard, having failed to convince me to vandalize it.
“I don’t think that’s how anything has ever worked- uh, have you always looked that… shiny?”
Keith followed my startled gaze, curiously looking himself over as his entire body began to glow. “Huh. That’s new.” He laughed, without a trace of sarcasm or bitterness. “Guess all I needed was to make a bit of a difference for one last student. God, that’s embarrassingly sincere of me,” he sighed as the light enveloping him intensified.
“Guess you still had a teacher’s spirit.”
Keith snorted. “I spent how long trying to get you to develop a sense of humor, and you drop that stinker of a pun on me now?” He was smiling despite himself, the warmth of it blinding in both a metaphorical and literal sense. The last thing I heard Keith say was “Good luck, Alex. I’m sure you won’t waste your youth,” and with a final flash he passed on.
|# ¿ May 23, 2016 08:53|
THUNDERDOME WEEK CXCIX: EVERYBODY KNOWS poo poo'S hosed
Jesus christ, Thunderdome. Jesus fornicating christ. How the hell did you chucklefucks all manage to screw up badly enough to let me on the throne when no one else was looking?????????
In honor of this colossal miscarriage of good taste, this week's theme is everything going entirely to hell. Your castle is burning and the king's just been decapitated, your spaceship's been blown to poo poo and the life support system just failed, I dunno, the loving sun just blew up. I don't care if it's at the beginning, end, or middle of your story, but when all is said and done, it needs to be clear that everything is terrible and not going to get better anytime soon.
No fanfiction, erotica, google docs, poetry. Remember that just because life's gone to poo poo doesn't mean that your STORY has to be poo poo too, okay?
Signup Deadline: Midnight EST on Friday
Submission Deadline: Midnight EST on Sunday
Word Limit: 1000 words.
spectres of autism
a friendly penguin
Carl Killer Miller
dmboogie fucked around with this message at 04:18 on May 28, 2016
|# ¿ May 23, 2016 23:15|
I'm still not over the fact that you fuckers set the bar low enough for me to casually step over it and walk right in to the slaughterhouse.
|# ¿ May 24, 2016 02:42|
I'm glad that everyone's getting hyped up for the prompt, but you weren't supposed to make the thread an apocalyptic shithole, people
|# ¿ May 24, 2016 19:07|
Can I get clarification on what no "google docs" means? Are we not supposed to use that word processor for some reason?
All it means is that when you're not allowed to submit your story by posting a link to a google doc instead of copying the text to the thread.
|# ¿ May 27, 2016 15:27|
^Welp. Shame on me for not slamming the door on time.
Everyone else, signups are closed. Write words that won't make me and my fellow judges want the world to be set on fire.
|# ¿ May 28, 2016 04:17|
Submissions are closed.
Toxxes and failures, you have until I wake up on Monday to submit. You'll be DQed but I'll still at least comment on your piece.
|# ¿ May 30, 2016 04:06|
Submissions are closed.
That's a wrap on DQ time, not that it matters since none of you failures actually managed to submit.
Judgement will come.
|# ¿ May 30, 2016 16:11|
WEEK CXCIX JUDGEMENT
The ashes have settled and we've buried our dead. The storm's past, Thunderdome, and I'll have to say you weathered it pretty goddamn well. There was a lot of good stuff this week. I guess human misery is a perfect fit for the arena.
First, let's take a moment to remember those who didn't make it. ZeBourgeoisie wrote an otherwise forgettable story that took a drastic turn into the "literally hosed" with a side dish of lizard porn. Jitzu_the_Monk had an unfocused, much too on-the-nose piece that features a literal Trump dictatorship. We'll put a Dishonorable Mention on both of their graves.
Those two at least had bodies to bury. Not so for Chili, who told us a poorly formatted story about one-dimensional characters, leaden with grammatical errors and probably the worst non-violent ending the 'dome's seen in a while. You've lost, Chili, but the bright side of being disintegrated is that there's nowhere to go from here but up. If you're serious, stick around and build yourself a new body out of words and bloodied steel.
Now, on to happier matters. Many of you survived, hale and hearty, with a few new metal as gently caress stories to tell your descendants. Sitting Here gave us an effective portrait of depression and desperation as everything falls apart around you. Kaishai deftly managed the transition between her story's innocent, idyllic first half and grim, visceral second half. QuoProQuid told us a vivid story of family and mental illness while confusing all the judges with his *((*))* scene transitions, seriously dude what the gently caress was up with that. Tyrannosaurus brought a refreshingly lighthearted piece with good character chemistry and humor that still gets some good punches in. flerp's story was only on prompt if you squinted and it took me a couple readthroughs to realize it was related at all, but goddamn was it so gorgeous that I ultimately didn't care. These five intrepid souls get Honorable Mentions.
One man, however, stood above the rest, unscathed and a monument to quality. Grizzled Patriarch, with his simple but very effective story of a husband and wife trying to communicate through a language barrier while the apocalypse slowly encroaches, will triumphantly sit atop the blood throne for week 201. As something special is being cooked up for week 200, please let Sitting Here or the thread or someone know if that'll be a problem.
Blood Queen, spotlight's yours.
dmboogie fucked around with this message at 22:16 on May 30, 2016
|# ¿ May 30, 2016 21:37|
Week 199 Crits
Catastrophe: Alien lizardmen.
I do like the descriptions of the lizard folk, but that’s really all this story has going for it. Your (nameless, dammit) protagonist is a complete non-entity, and while being forcibly married to an alien is a pretty bad way to end up, the concept isn’t given enough time to be anything more than a “huh. That happened.” completely out of left field. Low pile, possible DM.
How hosed: Literally hosed. Hey, somebody’d probably be into it. Also, tons of people died but that doesn’t really seem matter.
Catastrophe: Spring cleaning.
The dialogue is snappy and does a good job at establishing the history between Joel and Swanze. I like the way the man in the raincoat is set up at the beginning of the story, and he gives the ending an excellent sense of menace, and I loved how tired Joel felt in general. High pile, possible HM.
How hosed: Had time to say their prayers, at least.
Catastrophe: Binge eating?
Okay. Uh. So, Molly’s in what I assume is a youth mental institution for an eating disorder? That’s an alright foundation for a story, but unfortunately it doesn’t really go anywhere. We don’t learn anything else about Molly other than what I just typed, and Kitty is a completely one dimensional villain. Why did she feel the need to lock Molly in the kitchen? We get told that Molly was bullied by other students, but that’s it.
Their relationship isn’t established enough to make the betrayal meaningful, and “Kitty just hosed with Molly because she’s a bad person” isn’t compelling. Finally, I find it hard to believe that Molly could be trapped in the kitchen in the first place. Were there seriously no other doors? No way to call for help? You make the CCC’s staff seem really incompetent, and I’m not sure that’s what you were going for. Also, there’s a lot of proofreading and formatting errors. DM/Possible loss.
How hosed: Eating disorders are a serious problem but I don’t see how Molly is much worse off at the end of the story than she was at the beginning, to be honest.
Catastrophe: A shattered family.
Using a second-person perspective is a risk, but it really paid off here, making everything feel infinitely more personal. This is a very mundane, very real tragedy, and it paints a vivid picture of desperation and spiraling depression. One niggling thing: the daughter’s internet cult things is barely touched upon, and thus seems kinda random, along with seeming like a Slenderman reference. HM/Possible win.
How hosed: Given a miracle and a few decades, you might become a human being again.
Catastrophe: The machines have taken over.
Huh, another second-person story. I was kinda iffy on it at first, but once I hit the change in perspective it made the twist even more effective, imo. The story does a good job of humanizing (ha) Jack, which is good because “you” feel more like a plot device than a character. I’m guessing that was the point? Still, having the first three thirds of your story be basically exposition hurt. The “using humans at batteries ending” seemed cliche at first, but when I went back and reread Jack’s speech about why the machines need humans, it was a good enough explanation for me to warm up to it. Mid pile.
How hosed: “You” no longer exist.
Catastrophe: Death of the king, death of the law.
First off, I really like the concept of commoners having to deal with the ramifications of political king-fuckery, but I think the execution fell a bit flat. Jessup’s character of a retired criminal with a penchant for speeches is interesting, but I find it really hard to believe that he would know enough of the prophecy to be able to believably pass himself and Sammy off as the chosen ones, but somehow not know about the whole “cast out without aid” part?
Other nitpicks: there’s a decent amount of grammatical mistakes, mostly involving missing punctuation. I also don’t really like how you mentioned Jessup’s wife exactly once in the beginning of the story and then completely neglected the whole “my wife was kidnapped” thing, and I found it gross and unnecessary to mention Sammy’s mother being raped in a throwaway line. Just saying she had been killed would be leagues better imo. Lower mid-pile.
How hosed: I mean, it’s not the greatest situation, but Jessup was established to be kind of a badass, and there really wasn’t anything left for him in town anyway.
The Rain Beneath
Catastrophe: The sky is falling? The sky broke? Idk man
Your characters are alien in a very cool and creative way, and the prose is gorgeous, but unfortunately it’s also purple in the sense that I don’t have a clear idea of what actually happened. Why did the gondola tear? How did Parell’s mate die? I get the impression that something fell and broke the rock they were landed on, but I have no idea if that’s accurate. The angels of dust are cool, imagery wise, but I have no idea if I’m supposed to know what they actually are. The “Your language does not have enough words for slime.” line legitimately made me laugh, at least! High-pile.
How hosed: I don’t know how it’s happening, but I’m pretty sure that this civilization is going to die.
I really don’t know how to feel about this one. The conflict’s supposed to be that neuroshaping is making people less emotional, but the last article has the most emotionally charged language out of all of them? What the hell’s even going on in the third article? (The Trump reference was much too on-the-nose.) How did this obviously harmful technique become publicly widespread without years of testing for harmful side effects? Is the plot seriously that making people less emotional will lead to them electing Trump? This piece raises a lot of questions but doesn’t answer anything, and I’m really just left confused. Low-pile, possible DM.
How hosed: Trump dystopia, 2023.
Catastrophe: Ambiguity. Snow?
I was worried that this was going to go down a ~zombie apocalypse~ route, but I’m glad it left things ambiguous. I liked the “cozy apocalypse” tone, but it felt a bit forced. There isn’t that much to Jeri’s character other than “in denial” and the ending was so obvious that it didn’t really affect me. Mid pile.
How hosed: Already hosed. Jeri’s got food, at least.
Catastrophe: Funnily enough, doldrums.
All in all, I liked this story a lot. I was hoping that people would take the “darkest before the dawn” approach to poo poo loving up, and you managed to endear both Harding and Kimball enough to me that I was legitimately relieved when both of them made it out alive, while still leaving their ultimate fate ambiguous enough to still be on-prompt. Harding accepting his hanging was an especially powerful moment. High pile/possible HM.
How hosed: We’ll see when they get to London, I guess.
Catastrophe: Snow, again.
Even though nothing really happens, you painted a pretty good picture of what’d it be like to trudge through snow-hell Britain. Unfortunately, that picture is “kinda boring.” I think going with a trio of characters with this word limit was a bit risky, and it ultimately lead to characterization being spread a little thinly between the three. Kennan complains, Steffie swears at Kennan, Fionn leads? Thin as it was, I did enjoy the dynamic between the three, and I’d love to see you expand on this concept with more words to work with. Mid pile.
How hosed: It’s a long road to Waterford.
Falling to Pieces
Catastrophe: oh poo poo oh gently caress why.
Well, uh, this piece does a really good job at being gross and unpleasant and body-horror galore, so good job on that, but it also means I don’t want to look at it any longer than I have to. I don’t know what it is, the present tense, maybe, but something about the sentence structure gives everything a very rushed and stream of consciousness feel, which fitted. The ending is a case where ending with protag death/violence actually fits I guess??? God I don’t want to think about this anymore. Higher mid-pile.
How hosed: aaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
I Have Evolved My Progeny As It Pleased Me
Catastrophe: Nukes, I guess.
I feel like this gets a bit navel-gazey at times, and it’s also got too much techno-babble. Throwing a bunch of made-up terms at the reader isn’t really something you want to do for a 1000 word story. Not much really happens beyond your (nameless, godDAMMIT) protagonist musing on the nature of the universe, but the prose and the conflict between Reality and Fatestry are both well-written enough that it works out, imo. The narrator’s ex is a pretty interesting character especially, for the screentime she has. High pile.
How hosed: The future refused to change.
The Rest is Violence
Catastrophe: ludicrous corruption
Well, the title was accurate at least. It’s an unpleasant story about unpleasant people, but the narrative of a dude doing increasing heinous poo poo until he eventually draws the line works, imo. I found the intro unfortunate in the sense that you’re using something that happens all-too-often in the real world as part of an otherwise over-the-top noir story. Mid-high pile.
How hosed: Four less murderers in the world, at least.
Check Engine Light On
Catastrophe: Screaming in space
A good story about staring death in the face. Ray and Satyam have good chemistry, and the last line is effective. The “knockoff reality TV” line felt jarringly out of place, though, especially since it’s a pretty important element that is mentioned exactly once. I think it might have worked better if it had been a legit space mission that just went wrong because space is loving dangerous? I dunno. Mid-high pile.
How hosed: Black-box blues.
I’m sorry, but you’re hosed
Catastrophe: Either the iron bull or the flaying knife.
Well, that’s an unfortunately straightforward title. It’s a monologue, but a pretty effective one. Lennard is characterized well enough through the little we hear about him, and though I really wasn’t feeling the torturer’s character at first, the paragraph where he explained his motivations actually got me feeling sorry for the poor bastard. Unfortunately, he’s still a huge prick that I’d rather not have spent a story with. Mid-high pile.
How hosed: See the title.
My Brother’s Keeper
Catastrophe: Careless driving.
Goddamn did you succeed in making a (nameless, dammit) loathsome protagonist, but you managed to flesh him out enough that I can see why he framed his brother. The (ALSO nameless, seriously, just giving him a name would actually save you words) brother is also sympathetic, and thankfully not one-dimensionally mentally ill. HM, possible win.
How hosed: It was his fault, all of it.
I'll have the rest up within the next couple of days.
|# ¿ May 30, 2016 23:26|
I'm getting in on the ground floor.
|# ¿ May 30, 2016 23:45|
Noun me, SH.
|# ¿ Jun 2, 2016 21:27|
Yeah you can always fail, and just toxx the next time you write to make your problems go away.
stop giving lovely advice and write, nerdlinger
|# ¿ Jun 3, 2016 19:39|
no, toxxing is the right thing to do. it's saying
Yeah you can always fail
that blows. im fully aware of my status as a shitlord already tyvm
|# ¿ Jun 3, 2016 19:52|
Monday prompt, "Man agonizes over his tornadoes."
A Plague a' Your Thatched-Roof Cottages
Jill’s earliest memories were of huddling around the fire in the village center with her siblings, listening to the village elders tell tales of the many plagues they had weathered. There were, of course, the classic plagues of toads or locusts, but occasionally the gods would mix it up a bit with a plague of aesthetically pleasing sunrises, or a plague of fluffy animals with knowing eyes. One particularly bad year there was a plague of abstract fiery retributions, followed immediately after by a plague of fertility to make it up to the survivors once the gods realized they had actually meant to smite the village to the west.
None of this prepared her for the plague of miniature tornadoes that came in the spring of her 16th year. They struck without warning, small yet strangely fierce. Jill’s father’s potato crop that she had spent hours under the sun caring for had been wholly uprooted, along with Mayor Hank’s herd of sheep, who had bleated helplessly as the wind carried them off past the horizon.
The day after, while Jill was dejectedly slouching outside of her cottage, Hank struggled to drag a heavy-looking crate into the center of town. She disinterestedly watched him for nearly ten minutes until he finally gave up halfway to his destination. Clearing his throat, he hopped atop the makeshift podium to address the villagers, many of whom had similarly begun lying around in depressed heaps after their crops had been destroyed.
“Y’all, we have clearly offended the gods again!” Hank declared. “Now that ain’t exactly rare ‘round here,” he paused for a moment, ready to dodge out of the way of a lightning bolt in case anyone was listening, “but this? This’s somethin’ else. Someone’s gotta go up the mountain and make an offerin’, or we’ll lose everything!” It was known that the closer to the heavens you were, the more likely the gods were to listen, provided you shouted loudly enough.
No one stood up. Seeing the desperation in Hank’s eyes, Jill sighed and approached him. “I’ll do it, Mayor. Stupid wind took Pa’s taters, and that just ain’t right.”
Hank hesitated. “Yer a brave girl, Jill, but ain’t ya a bit young- woah!” Jill picked up the crate, mayor and all, with only a quiet “Hup” of effort. She carefully lifted it above her head, making sure not to dislodge Hank, and held it there a few moments for emphasis.
After she gently set the crate back down, Hank hopped down and nodded solemnly. “We’ll get a travelin’ pack together for ya. Go see the wise ‘un for the offerin’.” Suddenly, people around them started screaming and diving out of the way as another tornado came through, barely missing Hank and taking the box with it. “You should probably hurry,” Hank managed, patting Jill on the back. “May the gods that ain’t mad at the moment be with ya.”
Jill walked, keeping a confused eye on the foul-smelling substance inside the flask the Wise One had given her. Jill had asked how it was anywhere near a respectable offering, but only received cackling in response and decided it wasn’t worth pressing the issue.
The tornadoes grew increasingly frequent and difficult to dodge as she traveled. After Jill’s third day’s walk her pack was snatched by the wind, forcing her to wrestle several boars to death along the way in order to feed herself, clear a rockslide from the mountain trail with her bare hands, and headbutt a goat to establish her dominance. Other than that, her journey was uneventful.
No one had told Jill what to say once she actually made it to the summit, so she had to improvise. “Erm, hi, all y’all almighty ones,” she shouted, presenting the tribute flask above her head. “We're mighty sorry for whatever we did to offend ya! Just tell us where we went wrong and it ain’t gonna happen again, cross my heart!”
A choir of angelic trumpets sounded, and Jill watched awestruck as a piercing light appeared from the heavens. A bearded man in a white robe elegantly descended. Jill hadn’t expected the ruler of the pantheon, the lord of storms, Stormlord to personally answer her plea. She dropped to one knee, head bowed.
“THIS IS ABOUT THE TORNADOES, ISN’T IT.” Stormlord bellowed, his shouts sounding sheepish and stuffy. “THAT ISN’T YOUR FAULT ACTUALLY, SORRY.” Jill took this as a cue to look. Up close, Stormlord looked rather unimpressive. His face was flushed, and he was audibly sniffling.
“It isn’t, yer lordship?” Jill asked, trying to avoid staring.
“NO. I-ACHOO,” Stormlord sneezed, and through some miraculous instinct Jill sidestepped out of the way as a tornado burst out from his mouth, blowing down the mountain and out of sight. “IT’S MY ALLERGIES. THEY MAKE A MOCKERY OF MY POWER, AND ALCHEMY DUCHESS REFUSES TO HELP BECAUSE I MADE FUN OF HER COMPLEXION CENTURIES AGO.”
“Bad spring for pollen,” Jill agreed, deciding it was wisest to refrain from commenting on the last bit. “The wise ‘un told me to offer this to you, milordship,” she said, holding out the flask. Stormlord quizzically leaned forward, reaching out to grasp the flask between two gigantic fingers. After a moment’s inspection, he grinned.
“A WISE ONE INDEED! THIS BREW WILL CURE WHAT AILS ME! I MUST REWARD YOU FOR THIS. WHAT DO YOU DESIRE?”
“Well, yer stormliness,” Jill said, “yer awful sneezes -beggin yer pardon- have destroyed our taters, and I ain’t sure we’ll be able to grow more by winter.”
“SAY NO MORE! FAREWELL, STRONG ONE! HA HA HA!” Stormlord’s laugh echoed as he ascended back up to his heavenly home while the divine trumpets played in reverse. Jill stared blankly at the sky for a minute, then shrugged and headed home.
Jill had a peaceful homecoming, discounting the troll she had to throw through a bridge, and when she returned to her village she was greeted with a hero’s welcome by a populace in the midst of a plague of potatoes.
|# ¿ Jun 5, 2016 20:44|
As failure-penance for notposting, I'll crit up the first three replies. I expect that this AMAZING OFFER will go quickly so call now.
I'd appreciate it, thank you!
|# ¿ Jun 6, 2016 14:57|
WEEK 199 CRITS
These aren't the crits you're looking for right now, but here's the last chunk of them anyway.
Catastrophe: A single bullet.
I like the gist of this story, but I feel like it ultimately falls flat. Your prose is pretty, but kinda stilted. Your sentence structure breaks into a bunch of short sentences a few times, like the second paragraph, and it breaks up the flow of your words too much, imo.
Lauren’s biggest character trait seems to be that she’s completely devoted to The Saint, but since there isn’t really much to the Saint other than him being basically Jesus, it leaves her feeling pretty flat. You do have some nice details, like the flower crown and the singing, but it still isn’t enough for me to get a solid read on anyone. For a story centered around Lauren’s emotions, the fact that she’s monologuing after the fact puts too much distance from everything for any of it to really hit. The ending fits the story well, but I couldn’t really take the “but I’m not loving saint” line seriously. Mid-pile.
How hosed: I don’t think your messiah wanted a martyr.
The Shape Of Human Hearts
Catastrophe: Shining brightly.
I feel like this story showcases the best way to handle sci-fi in flash fiction. There are enough details about the setting (the ration chute, the translation collars) to give us a good picture of what things are like without every getting bogged down in technobabble or other exposition, and none of it takes the focus away from what’s ultimately a very basic, human conflict. The relationship between Hamid and Connie is incredibly sweet, as is the way they deal with their communication breakdown.
My only real complaint is that for a world-ending disaster, the wall of light isn’t very present in the story. It’s effectively introduced in the first paragraph, but because it’s not mentioned again until the second-to-last paragraph I had to go back and reread to remember what you were talking about. You had about 200 words to spare, I feel like it would have been best to sprinkle in a couple more references to the light in the main body of your story.
How hosed: Soon they’ll just be silhouettes.
A Plea to the Little Bird
Catastrophe: Barely present.
More of a prose poem than a story, but your prose is beautiful so I don’t really care. The image of a musician sitting a campfire, scribbling down song lyrics to try and hold onto as much of their passion as possible is strong and absolutely fits the spirit of the prompt, if not the letter. Still, I really would have preferred if you had made the catastrophe more present. The single line hinting at it is effective, but also easily missed on a first read.
How hosed: Hell if I know. There’s wolves nearby, I guess.
Poor Little Terry
Catastrophe: Ship’s gone down.
Gotta admit, your first paragraph made me until I read further on and realized what you were going for. You took a big risk in that this sort of story sinks or swims depending on how well you can pull off the style, and the consistent capitalizations and repetitions give poor little terry a strong enough voice to carry the story, even if the substance is a bit lacking.
I liked the last section on its own merits, but I don’t know how necessary it was in the greater scheme of the story? It doesn’t give us any new information except for further hammering in how far gone Terry is, which the rest of the story never exactly left in doubt. Mid-high pile.
How hosed: Death cometh in the end for all (of course). But how it happens is all the difference (of course).
In the highways, in the hedges
It was nice to read something mostly light-hearted this week! I appreciated this piece’s sense of humor, and the banter between the siblings makes their relationship very believable. I like the way you flesh out the god-hosed setting with casual references to goatmen and fallen skyscrapers, and the ending’s a complete punch in the gut. I don’t have much else to say, really, this was a pretty close candidate for winner.
How hosed: If the weather ever withers up your vine, Jacob knows a ladder you can climb.
On Soft, Dark Wings
Catastrophe: A butterfly’s effect.
drat, this one hurt. The idealized, picture-esque first half of the story was so pleasant that I forgot to watch out for the second shoe to drop, and drop it did. The transition to the bad times half of the story was incredibly jarring and effective, especially when you go back and catch the foreshadowing. Ian was a well-characterized kid, especially his confused crying after tearing up the butterfly.
How hosed: Too many for one boy to catch and out of his reach far too late.
Catastrophe: Fire, fire.
Apparently you wrote this in like two hours so I’m just gonna acknowledge the proofreading elephant in the room this once and then move on. I do like Henry’s characterization, especially his last words to Priscilla, and his relationship with Janet is a promising start for something interesting. Unfortunately, while I was lenient with the prompt for a lot of entries this week, this story is actually the opposite of the prompt, which I can’t really ignore. There’s never any real sense of danger from the fire and Henry is actually better off at the end of the story than he was before. It did manage to keep my attention the entire way through, so props for that. Mid-pile.
How hosed: I mean, I assume they’ll have dinner first.
Catastrophe: War, what is it good for.
I like a lot of the concepts you’ve put down here, but none of it is really fleshed out at all. A bandit who’s been press-ganged into military service is a cool idea for a protagonist, but Brooke has literally one line of dialogue. She apparently did something cool to a gryphon, according to one of the nameless, generic knights who don’t really matter to the story at all, but as that was offscreen Brooke’s basically a complete blank slate. The rest of the problems basically follow from that: sure, fighting an eternal war against the legions of hell is a pretty metal concept, but when you’re seeing it through the eyes of a complete cipher there’s no weight to anything.
You’ve got a lot of proofreading errors, too. You switch between past and present tense a couple times, and you’re inconsistent with the way you punctuate dialogue, too. Some advice: when you’re writing flash fiction, focus on your characters first, not the setting. 1000 words isn’t a lot at all, and no matter how cool an idea for a world you have, it won’t count for much if there isn’t a reason for us to care. A good character will carry a short piece much further than anything but the best world-building. Low-pile.
How hosed: And what will happen? Will I dream? I am too scared to close my eyes.
|# ¿ Jun 8, 2016 01:56|
Megabrawl vs Ironic Twist
Old With The Sea
The ocean births them, crawling naked and fully formed onto the rocky shores, and claims them at the end. Between, there are centuries of labor and love and invention and inspiration, but the sea surrounds and swallows both extremes of life.
As autumn decays into winter and leaves drift to the now-barren earth and rot, the drunken choruses in the tavern begin to take on a melancholic air. The oldest patrons, skin still as smooth as the day they washed up on the coast, sing wistful songs of the gray ocean tides while the younger folk scoff and toast to eternity.
The bartender idly scrubs her counter, watching those who have imbibed too much spirit and song. She has no intention of losing paying customers to the westward call of the sea, the call that sends those who answer stumbling blindly into the rainy night, never to be seen again if not caught by caring eyes. It whispers to her, too, as she lies awake during the quietest hours, but it had begun a mere ten years ago and remained only a nuisance.
The elderly do not trouble her this night. A swaying young braggart, supported both figuratively and literally by those around him, tells all who will listen of a genius friend of a friend, an inventor who has spent his life perfecting a means to conquer the end itself, a vessel to at last discover what lay beyond the ocean. All he needs are brave souls to lend him labor. The bartender laughs. Most don’t. By week’s end, seven men and women leave.
Decades pass. Leaves rot, drunkards sing, braggarts boast of new breakthroughs, new geniuses. She laughs, people leave. The bartender hopes, wherever they go, whatever they find, that they are not afraid.
The scholar makes his centennial visit to the coastline, steps leadened by packs full of equipment. The rope is tight around his waist, the other end held by the shaking hands of his assistant, who staunchly refuses to face the sea. No matter. The scholar takes his measurements, treading carefully to avoid touching the water. This close, the cry is almost deafening, but he is determined to see things through, the eternity words carved into his skin a faithful reminder.
An hour later, his work is done, and the scholar leaves with his relieved assistant. The road back to the university is long, and the scholar ponders his findings. His last visit, the sea had risen by a single foot. This time, it had been six. He fears the implications. His ears fill with crashing waves, the truth on his flesh itches, and he knows his work is not yet done.
They will not die.
Thus preaches the caravan leader as their small party trudges ever eastward. They all carry the memory of someone who has succumbed to the ocean song, someone who had once whispered eternity words like “love”. They all fear the power that can break such an oath. The great cities are years behind them, replaced by explorer’s outposts and secluded hermitages. Sometimes, they come across one of a like, desperate kind, and they are welcomed to the procession. Most who watch simply pity them. Still they march, repeating their only promise.
They will not die.
As they reach the dark sands where none other dare to tread, their leader shrieks and claws at her ears, ripping out bloody chunks of cartilage before her followers subdue her. Come morning, she is smiling as she rips their waterskins to shreds and stabs countless holes through their barrels. The caravan continues into the unknown, even as their eyes dry up and they shrivel and become shrunk-skinned. They are secure in the only truth that matters.
They can not die.
The lighthouse keeper decided long ago that he would grow old with the sea. He does not flee the ocean, nor does he seek its embrace. Instead he grows uniquely gray and wrinkled along the coastline as years refuse to pass him by.
His is not a lonely existence, the light atop his tower sees to that. The newly formed collapse upon the shore, only to see a warm glow in the distance, and are drawn to it. They find the keeper waiting with a fire, soft clothing, and friendly advice to help them find their way. “The world is beautiful,” he encourages them, and they listen. After they leave he paints portraits of them and hangs them in his lighthouse, hoping to preserve their wonder.
The light also draws those who seek the ocean, one last curiosity before they wade into the deep. The keeper greets these with a fire, warm food, and a sympathetic ear, hoping to convince them to remain landlocked souls, at least for a while longer. Some listen, and thank him. Most don’t. “There’s no more beauty in this world,” they tell him, speaking their final eternity words with the assurance of centuries. They bid him farewell, each humming the same melody he has grown to loathe, and melt away into the waters. After they are gone, he paints portraits of them and hangs them in his lighthouse, in memoriam.
He cries, sometimes, staring at the two lines of portraits side by side, and hopes to find answers.
|# ¿ Jun 10, 2016 19:48|
vs Newt, absence makes the heart grow fonder
The Rough Equivalent of Our Mantra "Something Is Better Than Nothing Except When Nothing Is Better Than Something" Sped up and Looped for Six Continuous Hours
In the abstract, we haven’t changed. All we’ve done is swap out our meaningful glances and sometimes-awkward silences for a ridiculous anxiety when I see “Typing…” on the bottom of my Skype client for more than a minute, my mind full of fantasies of words like “this isn’t working” dropping my stomach like a falling star; while in reality she just hasn’t slept for a day and is struggling with how the gently caress to spell “metaphorically.”
I’ve never understood people who characterize the heart as a romantic. All it’s concerned about is stability, industriously beating and beating on inside your breast just to keep you alive while trying to ignore or at least compensate for your stupid brain when it does the exclamation point thing when a reminder of someone you care about pops into your view, beating faster with a sigh while you smile and watch the inconsequential cat video they shared. If my heart was a person, I think it’d be a tired office drone who has to constantly pick up for the work their drunken boss piles on them, wanting to quit but knowing their salary’s the only thing keeping them alive and knowing nothing will ever change because their boss’s dad goes fishing with the CEO on the weekends.
Now that she lives a full twenty-four hours of driving away, we desperately grasp at every spare moment throughout the day we have to talk. She keeps me updated on how the professor shut down that loud dumbass in her Databases class, I vent to her about every arrogant rear end in a top hat that comes into my family’s restaurant. We try to compensate for our separation with a live running commentary on our lives. Hell, sometimes it works.
Whenever I think of her my mind turns into a living highlight reel, filling in the cracks with nostalgia. I remember the warmth of her skin and how inseparable we were when she came to visit over spring break, not the tears and frigidity back when Mom first got sick and I told her I couldn’t run away with her after all, after I trampled over her dreams of escaping our lovely town together. Eventually she understood, but she couldn’t postpone her own future any longer. I understood too. It didn’t make that first week apart any easier, or any of the months that followed.
Over the months of her absence, I feel the memory of a real person gradually fade away, shifting into an ideal that shines bright as a diamond and is twice as unbreakable, and I wonder if she views me the same way. I wonder how much it’ll hurt when the pedestals we’ve built collapse under us.
|# ¿ Jun 28, 2016 22:54|
|# ¿ Jul 4, 2016 05:29|
an epitaph for the blameless heathens
773 words, "blasphemous"
Ilius lives in the cracks of Jonathan Prince the blasphemer's house, peeks in through the blinds after the sun sets, lurks in the corners of unlit rooms, tallies up every minute of his borrowed existence that he does not dedicate to repaying the debt he owes to his creator. Ilius knows that one day Jonathan will shrivel and collapse under the weight and his unhallowed soul will rot along with his body, but it is not his fault.
Underneath the floorboards, Ilius listens as Jonathan forms a congregation with his fellows, consuming their listless spirit and philosophizing about what everything’s really fuckin’ about, man late into the night. Ilius wishes that they could save these foolish youths, to speak the truth and lay their purposes out before them, but their mouth is sewn shut and their wings are clipped.
Centuries ago, Ilius had stood before the last keepers of the faith and sounded the three horns of binding to rally them for the coming battle. They fought well, they fought with belief and righteousness behind them, but the witch hunters did not falter; even as the burning tears of their creator fell from the sky and smote them. They stepped over the eternally screaming corpses of their dead (hateful, blasphemous souls rotted through long ago) with blood dripping from the iron in their gazes.
After the sacred texts had been set aflame and blessed artifacts shattered, Ilius watched from the shadows cast by the last believer's pyre and wept. After the pain became too much to bear and she was undone, after the ashes settled, Ilius held her soul that had been tempered by years of devotion in their hands. They had whispered a prayer before preparing to devour it, to chew and tear and break every last bond until her consciousness was released and scattered to the stars.
Grief had made Ilius careless. A bright-eyed inquisitor with a silver blade that had returned to salt the earth cried out an alarm, and her companions were more than eager to help slay the demon she had found. The unholy sword robbed Ilius of their strength, and they were overwhelmed. When the witch hunters discovered they could not kill Ilius, they were content to slash and maim, to rip out their tongue so they would never again whisper blasphemous rumours, to tear their wings so they could never return to the heavens that had spat them out among the living.
Eventually, the hunters discarded Ilius, content with their work. The broken angel fell into a deep sleep, fading into the shadows of their cell. When they woke, feeble and crawling on the filthy earth back to the pyre, every trace of their beloved follower’s soul had faded.
Ilius would walk the earth for years afterwards in search of any remnants of their faith, for without the angel’s rending deliverance, within the prison of their souls the deceased wake up to an infinite nothingness. Adrift for eternity without sensation or change, their minds decay until nothing resembling a thinking person remains.
When it became clear that the old ways had truly died out, Ilius sought to themself recreate the holy texts that had been handed down by their creator, but the burning runes needed for the rituals that would purify one’s soul turned mortal paper to ashes in Ilius’s hands.
With no one left to speak the truths of the universe, the world was covered in a growing layer of rotting, unsanctified souls, person after person sentenced to an infinity of hellish nothingness for breaking laws that have not been spoken for generations. Ilius will oftentimes attempt to devour them regardless, in hopes that the universe would show mercy, but they shatter their teeth and remain whole and eternally scalding in their stomach. Children are the only souls spared, as they have not lived for long enough for the residual sin of their universe to gather upon them.
Ilius stands watch over Jonathan Prince the blasphemer as he sleeps, passed out on his couch, and hopes that their presence alone will be enough to awaken some form of ancestral memory within him, even if it remains just a passing dream. They pray, hoping that their creator will turn their gaze back towards the world they have abandoned.
If God has simply moved on, if their will is to allow Ilius’s people to drown in a dark sea of souls and birth a new civilization that would not repay God’s conditional love with fire, then Ilius hopes only that their happiness will last.
The growing amount of black holes in the universe suggests otherwise.
|# ¿ Jul 11, 2016 01:52|
I'm looking forward to seeing what I'm in for.
|# ¿ Jul 12, 2016 06:30|
Jungle/It Belongs in a Museum!
I Belong in a Museum, Dammit!
“Y’know, when I put ‘one week of private eye training’ on my resume, I didn’t expect anyone to actually take it seriously,” Ben griped, struggling to free his boot from the mud it was stuck in.
“Why’d ya only go for one week? Sounds a helluva lot more fun than your current gig,” Lark said, lightly walking circles around the struggling Ben.
“It was an online course. There was a free trial and I was bored.” Ben triumphantly freed his boot with a hearty splortch, but was knocked over by the resulting force. He sighed. “I took the museum curator job so I wouldn’t end up rear end-deep in mud on a lovely alien jungle.”
“Weird.” Lark laughed, making no attempt to help him up.
The week before, Ben had felt a looming presence as he worked to catalogue the museum’s newest artifacts.
“Benjamin, my boy.” His boss boomed, placing a heavy hand on his shoulder. “You’re the most adventurous man on the force.”
Ben sweated nervously. “Me? I mean, Kevin from accounting would audit Death-”
“You’re the only one I can trust with this, son.” Boss said, subtly tightening his grip. “The Platinum Albatross of Zoxor was stolen by space pirates on its way here. It’s the centerpiece of the “Pretty Cool Birds” exhibition we’re opening next week. I need that bird back.”
“I’ve hired a freelancer to help, so make sure she doesn’t pull anything funny, alright? You’re our only hope, kiddo.”
They had met up at the spaceport, where Lark had been lounging under a holo-sign reading “Ship Reserved for a Huge Nerd.” She waved him over. “Sup. The cargo’s tracking beacon touched down in the jungles of Orzera before going cold. A pirate buddy of mine slipped me the coordinates of a black market warehouse down there, we gotta go before they get the chance to ship it off-planet. You good with a gun?”
“Hold up, hold up!” Ben stammered. “I’m sorry about all this but I really have no idea what I’m doing! The most violent thing I’ve ever done was step on an Ant-Sized Deathbot when the janitor activated it! You’re better off without me.”
“Well, obviously.” Lark rolled her eyes. “I knew what I was getting into when I asked your boss to send one of his goons along for the ride.”
“Why!?” Ben asked, aghast.
“I thought it’d be funny. You’ll probably get a raise if you survive, so stop whining and follow me,” she said, dragging him along.
“So, you’re freelance,” Ben said, gingerly stepping over a notorious Ozeran “trip you and then strangle you a lot” living vine.
“Yup.” Lark said, using a laser machete to cut through the brush in front of them.
“A freelance what?”
“Anything. There’s a lotta work out there for a woman with a gun, ship, and flexible morals.”
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t emphasize that last bit,” Ben said, narrowly avoiding tripping into another vine. “You’re the only thing keeping me alive out here.”
Lark laughed. “Just a joke, kid. Don’t get your glasses in a knot-” she was interrupted by an ear-splitting, ferocious roar. The two looked up to see a Giger perched in a nearby tree. It looked a lot like a tiger, except glowing neon-green, and also currently pouncing on Lark. She swore, managing to stab the machete deep into the Giger’s head, but the beast didn’t slow down. The machete slid across the jungle ground as Lark struggled to keep the creature’s massive teeth from biting her head off.
Ben’s curating life flashed before his eyes, and he remembered the “Alien Creatures That Look a Lot Like Earth Creatures, God is Uncreative” exhibit he had worked overtime on. The voice of the museum’s automated tour guide that he listened to over and over for hours on goddamn end echoed in his head, “Oddly enough, the Giger’s brain is located in its back right paw!”
Bellowing heroically, Ben dived for the machete and stabbed it into the creature’s brain. With a final howl, it went limp. “Yeah!” Ben shouted, only to be hoisted up by a strangling vine that had crept up behind him. As he choked he saw Lark shove the dead Giger off of her, draw her gun, and sever the vine with a clean shot. Ben fell facedown in the mud.
When he picked himself up, spitting out dirt and wiping filth from his eyes, he saw Lark extending a hand to him. This was the first time he had seen her without a condescending smirk on her face. “Christ, you’ve got some guts, Ben. Thanks.”
Ben took Lark’s hand. “I might actually be cut out for this work.”
“Maybe, yeah.” Lark grinned to herself.
With Ben’s wildlife knowledge and Lark’s experience, they were able to fight their way through the rest of the jungle until the warehouse was in sight. For the sake of Ben not getting them both shot by space criminals, Lark went to steal back the Albatross on her own. She returned shortly after, bird in hand.
“Y’know, what’d ya say to going into business for ourselves after this?” Lark said by way of greeting. “This bird’s gotta be worth some cash, but I’m not gonna break a contract. There’s a whole universe of shiny birds out there, though, and with your knowledge and my everything else, we’d be rich.”
Ben shook his head. “I doubt you’ll accept ‘that’s illegal!’ as a valid argument, so I’m just gonna say that I take my actual job seriously. It might not be the most glamorous work, but museums are important.”
“That’s your only complaint, huh?” Lark looked contemplative for a moment, then shrugged. “I was kidding, anyway. C’mon, let’s go.”
Boss’s slap on the back nearly knocked Ben across the room. “Fantastic work, son! You’ll be promoted for this!”
“Thank you, sir, it’s an honor-” Ben started before his boss cut him off again.
“You did so well that it’d be a waste for you to rot behind a desk! I’m making you the head of our new exhibit acquisition/recovery department! I’ve talked with Lark already, and she’s agreed to sign on as your partner.”
“Oh. That’s wonderful,” Ben said, grinning manically. One of his eyes started twitching.
“I told ya that we’re gonna go far, kid.” Lark said, sauntering up to Ben and slinging an arm around his shoulder. She laughed, and after a moment he joined her. Their cackles echoed throughout the museum.
|# ¿ Jul 18, 2016 01:36|
Also, a question: would the cab of a moving vehicle count as a single room?
|# ¿ Jul 19, 2016 20:16|
Old Truckers Never Die, They Just Drive Their Rigs Straight Up the Stairway to Heaven
The GPS doesn’t know where the hell they are. Molly’s glad they have something in common. She squints at the open road ahead, looking for a sign. Hopefully literal, but she’d take a good enough metaphor at this point. She shoulda hit the rest stop two hours ago, and it’s been four since she shoulda been sleeping, legally speaking. Molly doesn’t like fudging the books, but it’s almost corporately mandated now, ‘specially with all the drivers decades younger than her who don’t mind driving through the night so much. She hasn’t resorted to uppers like some of the other old hands have, but the cups of coffee and energy drinks littering her cab can only do so much.
“Are you satisfied with your life?” The radio crackles at her.
“Don’t worry. Trusted scientists have told us that no one is.”
“You’re not alone.”
“Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Doesn’t that make you happier?”
“Next up, some smooth jazz to help you swallow whatever the world vomits at you next.”
Molly sighs. Damned thing’s been turned off for hours, but she knows that public radio personalities aren’t the type to take “no” for an answer. Some stubborn broadcasts have followed her across a dozen state lines. She’s learned to tune them out when she needs to.
Her headlights suddenly catch a sign up ahead, the first thing to break the monotonous farmland for miles. “PLEASE. ROAD STOP.” A cold, black monolith mirrors the world, stretches into the sky. Flickering street lamps protrude from it, lighting a massive parking lot. Her GPS still isn’t picking anything up. Must be a new monolith.
Soon as Molly drives into the empty lot, haphazard parking job spreading the truck diagonally through several parking spaces, she closes her eyes, slumps in her chair. Passes out almost instantly.
Peace doesn’t last long. A minute later, she starts up as the highway in front of her explodes into a parade of lights and honking horns, a blur of constant motion that’s too frantic for her to make out any details. A young man is in her passenger seat, intently watching the procession. Looks like a John, like someone Molly’d see checking out her groceries or serving her lovely diner coffee. “The world’s passing you by, you know,” he says, staring ahead.
Molly groans, rubbing her eyes. “This look like a fuckin’ taxi service to you, kid?” John doesn’t reply. For want of an icepick, Molly digs out the next best thing, an old, unopened pack of cigs, and offers it to him.
He turns to look at her for the first time, accepts it, raises an eyebrow. Molly half expects his face to start melting or something, but no, still just a John. “Don’t want the first smoke?” he asks.
Molly shakes her head. “Life’s got its hooks in me, but if the addiction’s this bad, I sure as hell don’t wanna find out what the withdrawal feels like.”
John laughs, opening the pack and popping a cigarette into his mouth. He chews loudly, then swallows it whole. “Mm. Vintage flavoring.” He turns back to the road, which hasn’t quieted down. “Seriously, though. You know the cheap bastards barely wanna pay you, as is. They’re making self-driving cars now. How long until you’re obsolete?” He continues snacking on the cigs as he speaks.
Molly snorts, taps the GPS. “Damned thing loses its poo poo soon as you take it down a backroad. You wanna tell me that if you throw a whole bunch of computers on the road, none of them’re gonna plough straight through a preschool ‘cause they thought it was a highway ramp? Not sayin' corporate would give a drat, but people'd start complaining.”
“No one knew what a computer was, fifty years ago. We’ve only had smartphones for, what, a decade? Who’s to say that they’re not gonna perfect the tech in a coupla years?”
“If anything, they’ll probably just sneak somethin' in the fine print so they can cut our brains out, stick ‘em in a robot, have us drive for the rest of time. All our trucker experience without having to worry about any pesky poo poo like ‘sleep’ or 'salaries' gettin’ in the way of our productivity.”
“drat. I thought I was a cynic.”
“You’ve got a lotta years ahead of ya before you can match an old lady in that department, hon.”
“Guess I’ll have something to look forward to.” John burps, looking despondently at the now-empty pack. “Thanks for the conversation, and the meal. I’ll just go and shove this into the trash for you,” he says before diving out the window. Molly waits a few minutes for him to come back, just to be polite, but his type never sticks around long.
She doesn’t much feel like sleeping, now. The last of the cars on the road speeds past in the blink of an eye as Molly pulls her truck back out, and she’s alone again. She wishes it'd stay that way.
“You changed your number again,” Brad says over the CB radio. “It’s almost like you don’t wanna talk to me, baby.” His vomitous laughter hurts Molly’s ears more than the static it drags along in its wake. She silently drives on. “Aw, you haven’t been home for years, Mol, I don’t think it’s too much to just wanna hear your voice.”
“I dunno how you got the time to talk to me, Brad,” Molly says, not bothering to pick up the mic. Figures it won’t make a difference either way. “I’m sure there’s hordes of the impressionable younger women you’d obviously much rather be with.”
Brad laughs again, breaks into a coughing fit halfway through. “Aw, don’t be like that. You know you’re the only real woman in my heart. The other girls, they’re just timekillers, s’all.” Molly hits the gas, ignores the flickers of movement from the sides of her eyes, ignores whatever's banging on the trailer wall.
"Funny story, actually. One’ve them had a real bitch of a friend, didn't like the way I was eyeing her buddy up. Thought I'd follow her home, but oh, was she was good with a knife,” he hacks, and wet blood splatters onto her windows. “I’m still here, though, don't worry your little heart. It's dark and I'm bleeding, but I can still see you, babe. Hear your voice. Looks like we’re on this road for the long haul, Mol.”
“The world should’ve passed you by a long time ago,” someone says behind him.
“What? The gently caress do you think you're doing with that-” Brad screams, once, before he begins to choke, gurgling. Molly hums along to the jazz on the radio. Afterwards, her GPS finds itself and leads her to the promised rest stop. Molly pulls in, parks, drifts into a dreamless sleep.
The road looks after its own.
|# ¿ Jul 24, 2016 04:19|
I'll be commandeering that helicopter. In.
They may be a loose cop, but they get the job done, dammit! In.
A GHOST wants to HOST A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR A PAL
|# ¿ Aug 2, 2016 20:12|
A LOOSE CANNON COP wants to BALANCE THE BUDGET OF A SMALL COUNTRY
it's a metaphor for procrastination
Wizards. Can’t live without them, can’t live within a 50-mile radius of them, can’t send a friendly suggestion to the one with the biggest hat that maybe, just maybe, they might want to pay their taxes more than once a century without them throwing a tantrum.
To defend our fair city’s coffers against the insipid societal poison known as “tax evasion,” I’ve gone to the dankest crypts, the dampest swamps, the darkest dungeons inhabited by creatures that casually sidle into your nightmares and make themselves at home until you come home in the morning to find them passed them out on your bedroom floor and you get in a screaming row about what they’re doing with their lives. Much to the displeasure of all sorts of undead abominations and dragons, “Plundering in self-defense” was made a legal (and thus taxable) source of income after the king got drunk with his court philosophers and decided that, if it was legal for adventurers to kill a monster and steal its loot, that monster bloody well had the right to rob the adventurer’s corpse for all it was worth without anyone making a fuss about it.
Monsters are a lot like humans, in the sense that they’re apt to lose their bleedin’ minds when a representative from the king comes to diplomatically inform them that they are obligated to hand over a percentage of their hoard, no no I’m not just trying to steal it, you get to keep most of it, honest, oh god help me I’m on fire and or bleeding from every orifice and or a zombie now. Amateurs. It might take an army of exorcists, arson, or a strategically placed-mime, but I always get the job done, dammit.
‘Course, that was back when the capital hadn’t been sucked into a pocket dimension where everything was tinted vaguely purple, and also separated at random into islands of land drifting throughout the infinite void. The locals didn’t waste any time declaring themselves the rulers of their respective chunks, figuring that if this was just how reality was going to be now, they may as well make the most of it. I was the treasurer of The Glorious Kingdom of The Space Between Knight Avenue and Two Other, Less Important Streets by default, since no one wants to take the position with actual responsibility when you can have an equally grand time shouting at people and feeling good about yourself.
“Knight Avenue's the longest street here, so it’s just common sense that we be in charge, yeah?” Tim, the owner of The Rusty Plow, asked.
“Your arse, it does. Half your street wound up over there, didn’t it?” A generic citizen said, pointing at a nearby island, floating about 50 feet away. “How’re we supposed to know you ain’t gonna team up so you can control both islands?”
“Having fun over there, Tim? Try making me pay off my tab now, ya miserly bastard!” A man called from the other island, laughing and waving. Tim started shouting at him, much to his heckler’s amusement. I had to step in once Tim resorted to chucking things, ‘cause his aim isn't that great and being “swallowed by the infinite void” isn’t covered by any of the non-forbidden insurance guilds.
While I was dealing with that, several raving, roving anti-wizard mobs had passed us by, chanting anti-magic slogans loudly enough so they could show the world that they meant business, and quietly enough so that any actual wizards wouldn’t hear them and take offense. One of their members had slipped out of the crowd and made his way to me. “Well, this is a right proper mess.” The scrawny woman wearing a fake beard and a star-patterned bathrobe remarked, elegantly smoking a bubble pipe.
“Hey! Isn’t she a wizard?” A not particularly bright mobber shouted.
“I dunno. Am I a wizard, Tim?” The wizard asked.
Tim tore his gaze from his arch-nemesis on their neighboring island to glare at the wizard for a moment. “Not until you’ve paid off your tab, you aren’t.”
“Glad to hear it.” She turned to me, extending a slightly damp hand. “My name’s Mary Lin, if you make any comments about wizard humor I’ll zap you with a bolt of static electricity. I heard you’re the police-auditor-slash-treasurer.”
“Yeah,” I said, shaking her hand. “Most people try to get away from me if they know my job.”
“Well, I think we need to audit reality right now.” Mary tried to make a dramatic gesture with her pipe, but fumbled it, dropping it into the void. She stared into it and sighed. “Starting with writing a check for that pipe.”
“Can you actually do that?”
Mary mumbled a few unpronounceable words, and we were off in a bright flash of light. When it faded, we were in a dimly-lit waiting room that smelled faintly of sulfur, packed to the brim with bearded men and women. “Welcome to the Reality Complaint Office.” A bored receptionist said to us, smiling with all six of her fanged mouths. “Please take a number and we’ll be with you shortly, assuming that both you and reality have similar definitions of the word shortly, and in fact the concept of time itself, we are not legally responsible for any misunderstandings this discrepancy may cause, please have a seat on the black hole over there.”
We did. It was comfortable, other than the fact that it felt like the entirety of our bodies and our nebulous souls were being constantly compressed and torn like delicious noodles. Nice back support, though. Our number was a blank card painted an unpleasant shade of yellow. Mary made small talk with a woman who was sitting on a nearby sun. Tasteful lute compositions played in our minds at a volume just slightly below deafening.
I blinked and we were standing in a blank white room.
“Please unfuck, reality.” We said in unison.
“Okay,” Reality said in a chorus composed of the voice of every person I have met in my life, also writing the word over and over on the walls as the concept of things being pretty alright in the end filled our brains, like when your day wasn’t perfect and you had to talk to an rear end in a top hat for a while but then you made a pun you were very proud of and you saw a cool dog and we sighed contentedly, and then it was over.
“Congratulations,” Mary told me as we stood in the unfucked city street, Tim wrestling with the tab-dodger in the background.
“I literally did nothing that entire time?”
“You existed. That’d hard enough, in my opinion.”
“That’s a pretty poo poo cop-out.”
“Fair enough.” We shrugged at each other and went on with our lives.
|# ¿ Aug 8, 2016 06:37|
That's an interesting way of inviting me to a brawl but I guess I accept.
Jonked - A CLOWN wants to BE A PRIVATE EYE
Grudge matches ain't fun if your grudge is aimed in the wrong direction.
|# ¿ Aug 8, 2016 06:39|
|# ¿ Aug 8, 2016 07:39|
Been a while, and birds are rad.
|# ¿ Oct 26, 2016 20:40|
Gray Wave Symphony
When she hears the seagulls cry, miles inland, the sailor knows she was never meant to escape the ocean’s call. After that first night aboard, with shore a fading memory amongst the black waters, she had stolen a dinghy and fled; cursing the salt-tongued fools who had lured her past the coast of the ocean that stretched for years across the western horizon.
Once her flimsy vessel reaches her familiar rocky shores days later, she collapses; feels the sturdy weight of the earth beneath her. All too soon the rising tide nips at her ankles and she flees eastward.
Weary, she wakes the next day in a distant inn to gullscreams and the bartender’s whispers of ill omens. The boasting youths around the table, displaying their blueprints for a grand ship, scoff and claim that the birds have simply come to wish them luck on their maiden voyage. The sailor remembers the toast she had made with her crew, shouting their eternity words “We’ll be the first. We will find the ocean’s end. We will find the answer.” When she opens her mouth to dissuade them, the gulls drown out her words.
Hour by hour, they begin to drown out her mind; shrill, longing cries that let her know she is missed. The ground sways under her feet. She blinks, tasting salt; finds herself on the shore; staring out towards the endless sea.
As she wades deeper, she can only hear the crashing waves and her own humming oceansong.
|# ¿ Oct 30, 2016 21:31|
|# ¿ Nov 29, 2022 18:25|
and yeah, if you haven't got the email yet it shouldn't be long - pipe up with your results, thunderdome represeeeeeeEEEEEeeennnnntttt
Mine got rejected, but they said they liked it and that it made their shortlist.
|# ¿ Nov 13, 2016 21:46|