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  • Locked thread
Sep 20, 2015

in, and hit me with both


Sep 20, 2015


Sitting Here posted:

Stereotype: member of the student government

Drama: Ummmmmmmmmm so I guess your best friend said some really lovely stuff behind your back.

since we're collaborating or whatever, the student government is run as a military dictatorship.

sure they're a bit draconian but they've got free pizza for lunch for all Party members

Sep 20, 2015

1437 words

I hide my phone behind my purse and check my text messages.  To any teacher, it's gibberish, but I know what it means; it's the code Grasi officers use.  Wrongthink.  Third floor reeducation hall.  I'm being called in to correct someone's thoughtcrime.

The next test comes in, telling me who's waiting for me.  My stomach clenches as I read the name: Stephanie Watts, one of my best friends.  Suddenly, everything else in the world doesn't seem so important or serious.  I raise my hand.

"Yes, Rebecca?" Mister Grange asks.

"I need to use the bathroom," I say.  As I get up, I grab my purse.

"Don't take too long.  I'll be going over this week's lab," he says.

I can't care right now.  I drift out of the classroom like I'm on a conveyor belt in a dream.

I know why Steph got brought in.  I was there, I heard her say it.

"The student government sucks.  My sister's in high school, and she says Domegrassi didn't even have a student government when she was here.  She didn't have to do the Student-Citizen's Pledge in the morning, and she says they actually did dances and stuff instead of the obedience seminars.  The only reason I'm in the Party in the first place is because of the free food at lunch," Steph told me while we were out on the track field during PE.

I reported her immediately.  If I hadn't, another Grasi agent might have heard her and reported us both for seditious speech.  And besides, I'm a good Student-Citizen; slandering the Party is like insulting me to my face.

In the halls, I walk slower than I should.  Some of the election posters are still up.  Party doctrine says that to avoid bias, candidates' identities are kept secret.  The posters have a silhouette of a head and shoulders like a bathroom sign, and on the top and bottom are the words 'VOTE: CANDIDATE ONE'.

Although I suspect  that both candidates are the same person, since First Student-Citizen Hoyt has been president for all three years I've been at Domegrassi, I'm working on eradicating that thought.  Maybe in a month or two, I won't think it any more.

In the west stairwell between the second and third floors, I report some dick graffiti.  I take a Snapchat and send it to my contact at the Truth Committee (or, as civilians know it, the yearbook committee.)  It might stay up, if it's deemed to be aligned with the causes of the Party.

I step into the reeducation hall, repurposed from a large, unused supply closet.  On hangers next to the door are papier-mâché masks appropriated from the art department, a Voidmart Super Spy Voice Changer, and robes  given to the Grasi when mock trial was officially declared to be counter to party interests and dissolved.

I put my purse down and put the outfit on.  Robe, then voice changer, then mask.  Its face is unfinished, so looking at it's like staring into a blank, yellowed-newspaper dome with two eye holes.  I can really smell the paste.

I open the door into the tight back room, and there, tied to a chair, is Steph.  Her hair is frizzed up from all the struggling, but she still manages to pull off the captive look.

"Are you serious!?" she shouts.  She jerks her shoulders hard enough that the chair jumps up onto two feet, then comes slamming back down. 

"You're going to be here until you understand the truth," I tell her.  Beneath the robe, I'm sweating and I want a drink.  If I try hard enough, maybe I can forget Steph's face, and this will be easier.

I can't, and this isn't.  When I look at her, I see her smiling with a mouth crammed full of Thin Mints.  I closed my eyes, wait, and open them.  Now I see her, hair wet, screaming next to me as we go down a water slide.

"Let me go!  Ugh, this school is the literal worst," Steph says, shifting her arms up and down, trying to break free.  She can struggle all she'd like, she's zip-tied to that chair.

"There has always been a Students' Liberation Party," I say.  I pick up the electric razor and turn it on.

"Wait—what?  No!  Come on, I didn't say anything bad!" Steph says.  I see the time Steph broke my parents' TV by swinging the Wiimote at it and we were both terrified to tell them.  I force the thought back, but it doesn't bend.

"The Students' Liberation Party exists for the good of all students," I say.  I'm barely feet from Steph now, and she's not banging around any more.  She stretches her body, trying to get as far away from me as possible.

I want to take off my mask and tell her I'm sorry.  I stand there, with the razor, thinking about it.  I want to do it.  Just do it, just for a moment.  I'm frozen while my conscience tries to overpower my loyalty.

"Okay, okay, fine!  I'm sorry!  I won't say anything bad about the Party, I promise," Steph says.  Her eyes are wide.

"The Students' Liberation Party loves you," I say.  I press the razor to her forehead and she jerks away.  I grab her chin and hold her as steady as I can.  Big clumps of black hair start falling to the ground.

"I'm sorry.  The Party is great.  I vote every quarter.  I say the pledge every day.  What do you want me to say!?" she asks.

I've lopped off her bangs and my razor hand is trembling.  The voice changer hides how my voice cracks.  I say, "I want you to say that you're loyal to the Party, that you love the Party, and that the Party has always controlled Domegrassi."

"Okay—yeah, all of that!  I'm loyal, I love the Party, they've always been there," she says.

She isn't squirming as hard, so I get a few good strokes in.

"Hey—hey, I said it!" she says.  Her cheeks burn defiantly.

I turn my masked head.  "Say it.  All of it."

So she does, and I don't stop.  She says it again, and I don't stop.  I know why I was pulled to handle this thoughtcrime: it's a test.  Prove I can do this, and the Party will trust me implicitly.  All I have to do is break my mind in two.  Easy, right?

She repeats her lines, cut with sobs.  I push her head back and dip a towel into a bowl of water, then scrub away her makeup.  There's no going back; I have to finish the job now.  It's no longer a choice for me to make, and somehow, that's comforting.  I made the choice already, or it was made for me, or maybe I made the choice years ago, joining the revolution that ended Domegrassi's first and only civics class.

I don't see Stephanie any more, I just see rehabilitation in progress.  She doesn't put up much of a fight any more, so it's easy to daub on the overbaked black eyeliner.  I even take care to give her a balanced coat of black lip gloss.

"I love the Party.  There's always been the Party.  The Party exists for the good of the students," she mumbles, head hung, staring red-eyed down at the floor.  The words come out almost jumbled, off-center and wobbling against each other.  She might not even be aware she's still speaking.

My job is done, so I put away the tools and take one last look at her.  She looks just like all the other thoughtcriminals I've punished now.  My heart's no longer racing, and I'm not sweating any more.  I hang up the mask and robe and voice changer and leave back to Earth Science.

At lunch, I sit next to Stephanie and pat her on the back and let her rest her cheek on my shoulder.  I can tell she's tried to scrub herself in the bathroom, but the message I left on her face is still clear to anyone who sees her: do not cross the Party.

"C'mon, it's okay," I tell her.  "I'll come home with you and we'll wash it off."

If I trace my thoughts carefully, I can feel the split down the middle of my mind now.  On one side, I'm Rebecca, and on the other, I'm a Grasi officer.  I feel happier than I've been since my first date with Eric from the track team.

I have always been a Grasi officer.  I smile as I comfort Stephanie.

Sep 20, 2015

Thunderdome CLXXXIII: Sorry Dad, I Was Late To The Riots

This week's prompt is the post-apocalypse.  You are going to write me stories about interesting people who want something.  I want to be specific:

1. Post-apocalypse.
Something happened, and society got messed up.  Maybe it's a medieval post-apocalypse after demons invaded.  Maybe it's a sci-fi post apocalypse and trees are turning into crystals.  Maybe it's a surreal post-apocalypse and everyone's becoming rhinoceroses.  Maybe you write Fallout fanfic and I get mad.  No stories about causing the apocalypse.  If your brains are too decadent and soft, you can ask for an apocalyptic premise and I will flash rule you.

2. Interesting people.
How are they interesting?  I don't know.  Maybe they have a sweet jacket, or a complex emotional landscape, or they can melt bones.  I don't want to read about boring people though.  And I really don't want to read about people doing boring things, like wandering around aimlessly or talking the whole time.

3. Who want something.
This can be anything, even abstract concepts, as long as it's specific.  Maybe they want to reconnect with their girlfriend.  Maybe they've been captured and want to break free.  Maybe their car got stolen.  Maybe they want to find a working god drat computer that doesn't have a cyberzombie jacked into it.  'To survive' is vague and bullshit.  Give them a specific goal.

So, write about interesting people who want something in a post-apocalyptic setting.  You have 1250 words.  Signups close on 2359 Mountain time Friday night.  Submissions close 2359 Mountain time Sunday night.  That's 2 AM Eastern, 11 PM Pacific.


Jitzu_the_Monk :toxx:
WeLandedOnTheMoon! - Flash rule: The world is freezing over, and your protagonist wants to go skiing. Just think of all that fresh powder, man.
Grizzled Patriarch
Broenheim - Flash rule: The day to day struggles of living on a cozy, tropical, island paradise after nuclear armageddon.
QuoProQuid :toxx: - Flash rule: In the post-apocalyptic-energy-crisis world, fuel is a precious commodity. So how far are you going to go to keep this awesome road trip going?
Pham Nuwen
Ceighk :toxx:
Blue Wher
Killer-of-Lawyers :toxx:
spectres of autism
CaligulaKangaroo - Flash rule: Someone must protect the people of a frontier town from one of the unspeakable horrors that now roam the West.
Ironic Twist
Pantothenate - Flash rule: Humans have lost the ability to harness heat of any sort, and no one knows why. Fires won't start, the sun no longer warms, and anything using steam or combustion (power plants, motors) no longer works. Your protagonist's motivation is righting a wrong.
Wangless Wonder
Bird Tyrant

Boaz-Jachim fucked around with this message at 11:32 on Feb 6, 2016

Sep 20, 2015


WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:


Flash rule: The world is freezing over, and your protagonist wants to go skiing. Just think of all that fresh powder, man.

Sep 20, 2015


Flash rule: The day to day struggles of living on a cozy, tropical, island paradise after nuclear armageddon.

Sep 20, 2015


QuoProQuid posted:

:toxx:ing in this week, because I'm a literal child who can't meet his commitments.

Gimme a flash rule

Flash rule: In the post-apocalyptic-energy-crisis world, fuel is a precious commodity. So how far are you going to go to keep this awesome road trip going?

Sep 20, 2015


CaligulaKangaroo posted:

Thanks for the crits!

Also, in!

Any chance I can get a flash rule?

Flash rule: Someone must protect the people of a frontier town from one of the unspeakable horrors that now roam the West.

Sep 20, 2015


Pantothenate posted:

In. And can I request a surrealist flash rule, or does that defeat the point of flash rules?

Flash rule: Humans have lost the ability to harness heat of any sort, and no one knows why. Fires won't start, the sun no longer warms, and anything using steam or combustion (power plants, motors) no longer works. Your protagonist's motivation is righting a wrong.

Sep 20, 2015


crabrock posted:

ok people can stop signing up now :cry:

In case my co-judge's blubbering confused anyone, sign ups close tomorrow night.

Sep 20, 2015

Entries have closed. Reminder: submissions close Sunday night at midnight Mountain time (11 PM Pacific/2AM Eastern.)

Write well.

Sep 20, 2015

:siren:Nine hours:siren: remain until the deadline. Remember, you left coast dweebs, it's 11 PM for you this week.

Sep 20, 2015

Submissions closed. Judges, I'll meet you in IRC when I've finished reading.

For reference, that'll probably be sometime in the evening.

Boaz-Jachim fucked around with this message at 08:57 on Feb 8, 2016

Sep 20, 2015

:siren:Thunderdome Week 183 Results:siren: - Simon Says We Have No Future, At Least In Terms Of Life On Earth

On the whole, you satisfied my thirst for the ruined world this week.  Most of the stories had at least something good to latch onto, and some stories even impressed me.

Coming back with spoils from looting the vaults are the Honorable Mentions this week:
SurreptitiousMuffin, who escaped being sacrified to a tentacle of the Old Ones.
Tyrannosaurus, who was saved from lynching by the hands of a presedential robot.
Bird Tyrant, who found companionship even after being struck by lightning.
and CaligulaKangaroo, who wrote exactly what I was hoping he would write.

Some stories were disappointing.

Swimming in the radioactive water fountain are the Dishonorable Mentions this week:
Broenheim, who tried to salvage a confusing mess of dialogue with a puppy ex machina.
and Blue Wher, who tried to write an SCP field report for one of those SCPs that's just, like, a dude.

One story was good enough that all the judges could agree: it was Pretty Good.

For an apocalypse of pools of time and disembodied heads, for the Walker who carried them, and for his desire to see the heads set free, Thranguy takes the win this week.

And finally, for his valiant service in the field of dental hygiene, YFDHippo takes the loss.

Boaz-Jachim fucked around with this message at 00:27 on Feb 10, 2016

Sep 20, 2015

Week 183 Crits

Apocalypse: Global warming combined with fuel shortage.  Check.
Interesting person: Oil tycoon with a cool car and coke habit.  Check.
Wants something: Coke, and then to kill himself.  Check.

This is pretty solid, though it feels like it takes a bit in the beginning to get its feet under itself.  You kept the worldbuilding pretty light, but at the same time the story kind of meanders a bit in the beginning before it's clear what his first motivation is.  I especially like the writing where he's getting his coke from under the bed, and the next-to-last paragraph.  Now that I think about it, good job keeping up a high-energy pace to match his coke habit.

Apocalypse: Deadly acid rain.  Check.
Interesting person: Scientist developing water purifier.  Check.
Wants something: Son.  Check.

I like your apocalypse, though I felt like the story could be better in places.  The second paragraph after the first break is one huge information dump that could have been better paced if you'd spent a bit less time on helping the kid.  That scene does establish what the device does, which is important, and it shows that she's a caring person, but it doesn't seem to further the plot a whole lot.  The biggest challenge she goes through is running from the militia in a panic and getting acid rained on as she runs to the car, which while good, is only a small part of the story.  If you were going to rewrite it, I'd say consider making the focus more on the tension of the standoff between her and the militia as a storm's approaching.

Pham Nuwen
Apocalypse: "The Collapse": unspecified, but the Pacific Northwest is split into feudal states.  Check.
Interesting person: Duke of Portland.  Check.
Wants something: Hops.  Check.

So far the three stories I've read all feel like they start off trying to figure out where they want to go, and then start going there.  I think you could cut everything from before the first scene break and intersperse the details throughout.  Would have been nice to spend more time on the tension of 'oh no, trapped in a stadium with cultists'.  I do have to commend you, though, on taking a silly premise and allowing it to exist in a real world.  I was worried it might be one big hipster joke after 'artisanal hand-crafted spear', but you used the jokes as part of the apocalyptic world, so it didn't feel like it was all just a pretense for beard oil jokes.

Apocalypse: "The Freakout": Storms that destroyed advanced human society.  Check.
Interesting person: A wanderer who collects architectural knowledge from old buildings.  Question mark?
Wants something: To look at a church.  Okay???

I don't understand this, which is a bad sign.  It seems like there's some supernatural element to it, but that's unexplained--just stuff about Gods and how he can't come back after dark.  I want to say he might be a robot, but if so it's a very vague thing. I get the sense that he's collecting this information and then uploading it somewhere but I don't know where or why.  The scene jump in the beginning is also really god drat confusing because I assumed that 'exploding with light' lead into the sunrise, so I didn't understand that it was a leap back in time.  You gave me a bunch of worldbuilding too, but none of it explained who this character is, why being from Babel is important, what he's doing, or what he wants.

Blue Wher
Apocalypse: Gamma ray burst/alien invasion.  Check.
Interesting person: Cybernetically enhanced scientist.  Check.
Wants something: To leave Earth.  Check.

This sucks.  Let me enumerate why this sucks.  Number one, it's all telling.  Every bit of it is this doctor telling me about this cool stuff he's done.  Number two, the frame story adds almost nothing.  Number three, general stupid sci-fi stuff.  Why does Earth's languages allow him to understand alien languages?  If the Dracans were human, why wouldn't he know how to build spaceships, and alternately if the Dracans were the aliens who left Earth, why would he know how to fix a hyperdrive just by looking at it?  Why would you write a story that's all dialogue?  I'm hoping this story loses because I don't want to read something worse than this.

Apocalypse: Post-energy crisis lawlessness.  Check.
Interesting person: Gang leader hunting down old world targets.  Check.
Wants something: To...not break up?  Question mark.

There's a lot of parts of this I like, but I'm not sure they add up to a convincing whole.  There's hints of the old life they had, but there's not enough to connect that with what they're doing now.  I don't know how the kids who met in college become an ecoterrorist biker gang.  The conflict seems emotionally real but disconnected from what they're actually doing; you could change the situation to someone who just sunk a whaling ship as part of an ecoterrorist cell and there'd be no functional difference other than not having the guy's corpse around.  On a surface level, it's fine, but there's not enough meat for me to enjoy it, especially when you had all the potential of a wild post-apocalyptic road trip and you turned it into a breakup story.  That idea could have worked, but in a way, the characters seem too mellow for their situation.

Caligula Kangaroo
Apocalypse: "The Dark", a creeping, landscape-eating horror.  Check.
Interesting person: Disgraced sheriff, son of a war hero.  Check.
Wants something: To live up to his name.

This was exactly what I wanted from the flash rule and I'm really drat glad.  The pacing is good, bringing in the disaster close to the top, and then establishing his motivation quickly.  The voice is subtle but present just enough to give it that dramatic Western feeling, and the ending is a great resolution: he finds his courage, and even if it kills him, he's going to hurt this thing.  The one thing I can say is that there's some proofreading mistakes, even though you had plenty of time left to get some editing in.  But saying that feels like I just got a triple XL avocado bacon cheeseburger with french fries and complaining that I wanted black forest bacon instead of applewood smoked bacon.

Apocalypse: Meningitis plague.  Check.
Interesting person: Trans teenager.  Check.
Wants something: Hormones.  Check.

This is pretty good.  The underlying plot of someone mistaking why Owen is looting a pharmacy is neat.  I like the rolling tone where the sentences blend together; it works well for that train-of-thought sort of telling.  I like the way you deal with the protagonist's emotions here, too, they feel true enough to life that I sympathize with him.  There's some parts that fall a bit flat to me, though, like the Jason Mraz line.  I don't have any clue who that is, so whatever character beat that conveyed was lost on me.  Also, the way that the woman is just so completely unsympathetic bugs me.  I know people act like that in real life, but when you put someone like that in a story with A Message, they become less of an actual character and more of a cipher for whatever they stand for.

Apocalypse: Nuclear. Check.
Interesting person: Radiation sickness person.  No check.
Wants something: To not die alone.  Check.

I'm having trouble understanding this.  There's some people on this island, I think, and Martha and Damien have come here to treat protagonist.  There's another guy at least, Christopher, and they're also treating him.  But they have to leave because there's not enough food.  I'm not sure what's going on with Christopher.  Honestly, I'm not sure what's going on with a ton of this story because it's mostly dialogue talking about leaving, staying, going, and telling, and it all blended into a big blur.  The end was good, and I liked the emotions there, but I wish I had a better grasp on what that wall of dialogue was trying to convey.  I have to say this is pretty much the opposite of what I wanted when I asked for slice-of-life on a cozy island paradise.  Canis ex machina isn't good enough to counteract the confusion.

Apocalypse: Time ran out.  Check.
Interesting person: Someone who walks around the disembodied heads.  Check.
Wants something: To give release to all the heads who want to pass on.

This is really cool. It gets a bit confusing at points--the conversation in the beginning is a bit hard to follow, and the reveal of the guy who isn't a Sikh has some weird bits, especially the flashback to setting a head free when you haven't established that that's how you set a head free.  There's also a lot of telling, but weirdly, it works in this meta way to have a bunch of literal talking heads having conversation because they can't do anything else.  The main character's motivations were a bit hazy, but they resolve really nicely at the end.  The most interesting apocalypse yet.

Apocalypse: World freezing over.  Check.
Interesting person: Junkie.  No check.
Wants something: Skis.  Check.

This started off with this cool rolling tone that I liked.  Someone who doesn't give a poo poo and just wants to have some fun is what I was hoping to get.  The tension of the standoff fading into 'oh, wait, it's too cold for fire' is also pretty fun, though I dunno if the too cold for fire makes total sense here.  You lost me on switching to the old guy on top of the roof having dementia, though.  What was the point?  And then it just ends.  You could have been a contender.

Apocalypse: Explosive jungle growth.  Check.
Interesting person: Scout who gets a new body with every death.  Check.
Wants something:  To find this general?  I guess.

There's a lot of neat ideas here but they never really resolve into a coherent hole.  I feel like this would maybe be a cool first part of a 5,000 word short story or something, but as it is, it sets up a pretty interesting world, matches it with an interesting premise, and then you spent so much time being interesting that as soon as the first thing happens, the story's over.  Wanting more is a good feeling to be left with, but I think you would have been better served by aiming for something that needed a bit less explanation.  Speaking of explanation, those two paragraphs near the beginning about the state of the world are very 'tell', since they might as well be from a history book written after the fact.  

Apocalypse: "Old Ones": monstrous gods with human cultists. Check.
Interesting person: Motorcycle.  Check.  
Wants something: Make right the death of his daughter.

This is pretty well-written and it's got a good mix of action and high concept.  The break from the trap to the action scene is a little tricky and I'm not entirely sure who did what, and the girl's sudden double-crossing is a little tricky, but overall, this was a fun read with a good voice, aside from the same character going from "hey mister" to "what the gently caress, guy" in two lines of dialogue.  I guess maybe this is supposed to be part of her trap?  If so, why does she go back to 'mister' stuff once she's bandaged up?  Anyway, small complaints for an overall good story.

Apocalypse: AI gone rogue.  Check.
Interesting person: AI gone rogue.  Check.
Wants something: To...something something humans?

Reading this, I wonder if the idea isn't that the AI that took over has had its own apocalypse and now it's slowly failing?  Having it delete all its unpleasant thoughts is a neat idea and it's the sort of flaw that would doom a computer after a long while, but at points it's unclear just what happened.  The AI is only on one continent and the humans have rebuilt elsewhere, I think.  And then at the end, the idea is that he's entirely forgotten that he had the space-based systems and is just watching his satellites fall with tragic irony, I think.  I like the voice, but I think the clarity leaves some to be desired, and it could have been closer to the prompt.

Apocalypse: Prometheus's gifts revoked.  Check.
Interesting person: Porn producer. Check.
Wants something: To save Alexandra from turning into clay.  Check.

There are two thirds of a good story in this.  The turning-into-clay thing is pretty drat horrifying and it works really well to create this sense of unease when you leave handprintts on someone and they smell like soil and their body falls off because they got too clay-like.  And ends with a joke about a porn title and Zeus saying "meh."  It's not that an anticlimax couldn't have worked, it's that your story shifted gears so hard that it left its transmission sitting on the highway.  You earned some serious pathos with that body horror and then it just all went poof.

Apocalypse: World literally poo poo. Check.
Interesting person: Multidisciplinary biologist waking up from stasis. Check.
Wants something: World to not literally be poo poo.  Check.

A captain grumps around while he explains what happened to a scientist, who then goes and does a thing and then says "ah, I've done it," and then the story ends.  You spent most of your words explaining the situation, and then in the end, it was really just "I have a plan" more than actually taking action.  Not disparaging plans, I'm just saying that a story about coming up with a plan is pretty boring.  I think you may have started with the opening line of "the world is poo poo, literally" and then wrote a story around that.  It's a valid strategy but boy it didn't work here.

Grizzled Patriarch
Apocalypse: Something something robots something something ashes.  Check.
Interesting person: A robot who wants to eat. Check.
Wants something: To eat, or to die, either way.  Check.

There's more to this story, but you didn't write it.  What are these robots?  Why are the humans dead?  Why are they hungry?  What are they hungry for, if anything?  I don't need every question answered when I'm reading a story, but when I read a story and I don't really know what's going on throughout the whole thing, that's when I feel a little upset.  Their hunger is related to the factory and the bomb but I don't have any hints as to how.  I'd like to like this story as it's got a cool tone but I can't because you didn't write enough of it, drat it.

Apocalypse: Spanish conquistadors.  Check.
Interesting person: Healer and her brother.  Check.
Wants something: To get his sister to safety.  Check.

I found this one to be pretty nice.  The use of historical color works well and definitely adds that tragic irony edge to the ending.  The tone got a little stark at times; I know you were going for a kind of formal, ceremonial sense to the way they talk, but at one point she kind of goes "I know that you, who are sick with smallpox right now, etc," and that was where it got a bit eye-rolling to me.  Aside from how everyone talked like they were straight out of the KJV, I liked what was going on well enough.

spectres of autism
Apocalypse: Penguinpocalypse.  Check.
Interesting person: Brother in fake monastic order.  Check.
Wants something: Solace.  Check.

I don't know if the penguin stuff really helps your story all that much--it's a weird idea, sure, but I think the tone of your story would have been fine without it.  That said, it was pretty cool--fairly mellow, since it's kind of all about not doing anything to this girl and then she dies, but there's a good tension going on that slowly builds up and reaches a peak--there's not exactly a traditional climax here, but I like the story arc all the same.

Apocalypse: Quantum fuckery.  Check.
Interesting person: Talented cellist.  Check.
Wants something: To play the cello, for the world to make sense.  Check.

There's a lot of asides and flowery language in here that didn't exactly work for me.  I did like the absurdist touches of people trying to make sense of the world by going reverse-bowling, though some of the little quips make less sense if you try to sort them out.  You can't drive anywhere because every car takes every possible path.  So how can you go anywhere at all, wouldn't YOU take every possible path?  Also, what Matilda wants seems pretty vague, and there's a large portion of the story (the whole thing with Matthew) where it's just about relationships and not about that core desire.

Bird Tyrant
Apocalypse: Everyone died and then just stopped.  Check.
Interesting person: Struck by lightning as a kid.  Check.
Wants something: Companionship.  Check.

The tone here is fun and I was going to say it was risky to start so far back from the actual apocalypse, but then again, the story isn't 'about' that, it's about his loneliness, so it makes sense to start where it does.  I could kind of see the girl with the lightning strike as being important as soon as I saw it, but I don't know what exactly I would have done to keep that from being 'oops, solved the story' anyway.  Still, a really good showing--liked the plot, liked the characters, and I even liked the way you slipped in how your apocalypse worked, because you told it all in the character's voice and through his experience, instead of dropping it into an expository paragraph.

Apocalypse: Everything turning into other stuff.  Check.
Interesting person: Mom with lingering regret over not being there, stuffed lion.  I'll give it a pass.
Wants something: Daughter.  Check.

The apocalypse here is pretty interesting in its abstract way, and I felt like the emotions were good and real.  It's weird to say this about this story, but I almost wish it made more sense.  I get on some level that it's supposed to be a surreal apocalypse and there's some really good images about that, but I don't know why there's a chorus as the sun starts to set, or why a cliff suddenly appears and then her daughter walks out of it, or why the house is so warm.  It's an interesting read to be sure, but it feels like there's meaning that's out of reach to the reader.

Apocalypse: Unspecified.  Check, ish.
Interesting person: Teddy Roosevelt animatronic. Check.
Wants something: To help this guy. Check.

This was pretty fun, though it only nominally touches on the apocalypse--I guess that's the only way to pair the lawless wild west setting with a Teddy Roosevelt robot, though.  The dialogue-via-quotes was pretty interesting and led to a nice chemistry between them despite the obvious constraints.  I'm not entirely sure why he's helping out this guy, aside from the fact that he's presumably against lynching, but hey, it was amusing.

Ironic Twist
Apocalypse: Everyone turned into stars.  Check.
Interesting person: A star.  Check. 
Wants something: To apologize to her daughter.  Check.

This is really interesting, though it feels almost too abstract to be an apocalypse.  The world is over, though, so fine, I'll go with that.  It's interesting and an neat way to explore the emotional resonance of regretting saying something that you wanted to be able to take back.  There's some joke to make about writers reducing people to spheres of emotion, but anyway, nice job.

Apocalypse: What
Interesting person: ?????
Wants something: ??????????

what the gently caress am I reading

Sep 20, 2015

Rise, Sir Jachin

Sep 20, 2015

I finally recovered from the bullshit you put me through last time.

I'm only in this week because it means I won't be forced to judge the next one when I win.

Sep 20, 2015


Sitting Here posted:

You will quote this post

Taste and Hunger.

Sep 20, 2015

Wednesday rules:
Brawl vs Obliterati
Sense of taste, secondary sense of hunger

By the Grace of God grow Potatoes
809 words

Father Silvestris stood at the steps to the courtyard. A bowl of hot stew was in his hand, and before him was his werewolf. By its stature and countenance, it was a beast; by robe and tonsure, a monk.

"You didn't touch your collation, Brother Thomas," he said, to the werewolf's back. His breath curled in the cold air like the rising steam from the stew.

"It's potatoes and water," Thomas said, a bitter rumble.

Silvestris looked at the bowl and turned the spoon once. Chunks of potato tumbled over each other. "There's other ingredients, I'm sure."

Thomas turned and looked Silvestris in the eye. Even though the Father stood six steps above Thomas, their heads were level. "There's no meat," he said.

Silvestris said, "It's Lent."

Thomas's chest rose and fell faster. He turned to fully face Silvestris, heavy footsteps on the solid stone. Silvestris had never been able to read expressions of his face. They were never human. But he could recognize the curled lip and bared fang. He quietly set the bowl of stew on the stone volute by the stairs.

"I've been withering for two weeks. I need to eat something," Thomas said.

"There's stew," Silvestris said. That wasn't what Thomas meant, and he knew it.

"I want meat," Thomas growled. Silvestris reached down to adjust the belt around his waist. Thomas hunched, then sprung at him. With a slip of the hand, Silvestris loosened his belt and slung it through the air like a lasso. It snapped across Thomas's muzzle, pulling him sideways. He staggered on his feet, hands curled, lips peeled back.

Silvestris still wore his placid expression, but now a sternness wrinkled his brow. He let his rope belt hang by his side, arms lowered. He meant to add no anger of his own to Thomas's rage. Inwardly, he wished he could run, to lock the friary doors and turn Thomas out. Those were selfish and lazy desires, a test to prove his faith. "No one else eats meat during Lent. Why should you get to?" he asked.

"Because I'm not a man!" Thomas cried. He lunged again, swinging his claws as if to grab Silvestris. He ducked and swung his rope high in the air. The clap of paws and wheezing snarl came from above him, followed by all the weight of a beast collapsing on top of him. Silvestris moved while Thomas was dazed, twisting his belt through its own loop. As Thomas reared back, Silvestris held onto the ends of the rope, which tugged the loop tighter around Thomas's neck.

Even with the rope about him, Thomas was strong enough to stand and to pull Silvestris to his feet with him. His breath was tight and ragged. If Thomas had been fighting for his life, Silvestris was sure he would have been torn open by now. But this was not desperate violence, it was a blind, deaf, senseless rage.

As Thomas swiped with his claws, Thomas stepped to the side and leaned low. With a powerful tug of his own, he whipped the rope, and Thomas with it, around his body. Thomas's own momentum spun him through the air. The ground swirled up and slammed into his chest and chin, followed by Silvestris's knee in his back. He had a blister-tight grip on the rope, tugging on it and pushing with his knee at the same time. His hold squeezed the breath from Thomas's lungs.

"You can reason, so you have a soul, so you're a man," Silvestris said, as the fight wheezed out of Thomas's body. "So no, you can't eat meat during Lent."

Thomas's growling stopped abruptly, and became soft, rumbling sobs that made Silvestris's knee bob up and down. He lifted himself off of the werewolf's back. Thomas stayed on the ground, ears folded back against his head like a remorseful hound.

"Come on, stand up," Silvestris said, trying to heave him up by the shoulder.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he whined, slumping himself up to his feet. He tugged at his robe like some guilty child. "That was anger, and gluttony, and—"

Silvestris shook his head. "Don't worry. You'll have something to talk about at confession."

"You're not mad?" Thomas asked.

The bowl of stew was in Silvestris's hand, held out toward Thomas. It no longer steamed and the broth clumped around the potatoes, starting to congeal. "Not if you eat your meal."

Thomas took the bowl and spoon. He visibly fought the wrinkling of his lips as he scooped up a spoonful, then stuffed it into his mouth. He chewed deliberately, then swallowed slowly. He looked up at Silvestris for a sign of approval, but he was just quietly watching Thomas.

The werewolf shoved another spoonful of cold potato stew into his mouth. And then another. And another, until the bowl was bare.

Sep 20, 2015

My Opinions of Your Stories
Based On Their First Paragraphs

edit to add: A short first paragraph isn't inherently bad, but it means I couldn't say a whole lot about your story, so if I say that, it's not a criticism, it's just me pointing out that's why I can't say much.

ZeBourgeoisie: Generically western, but might be interesting. "gleamed like a cursed jewel" is poorly executed as a metaphor. I don't know what a cursed jewel looks like, or what you're trying to say about the gun by saying that.

Ziji: Relatively interesting juxtaposition. 'My friends are all too busy' is a strange emotion considering, as a vet, some of his friends are likely dead. Working Applebee's tagline in at the end is dumb.

Chili: Bland, but at least it sets up a conflict. I was worried when you started with a question about being stuck in a room because that's a super generic start, but you fleshed it out more by the end. If they're working backstage or in a theater or at a studio, I wouldn't call it so much a "room" as one of those other things.

a friendly penguin: Even counting the first actual line, I'm bored.

Black Griffon: Passive, but reasonably interesting. It makes me wonder why Anja is in an abandoned school, so you accomplished the job of making me want to read more.

Chernabog: At least stuff happens. Prose is a bit dry, but too short to get much more without violating my first-paragraph rule.

Guiness13: You lost a point for starting by waking up, then gained ten points for the last line of that paragraph. You get the first :unsmith: of the day, congrats.

Hammer Bro.: Short, but interestingish. I do want to know more, but I don't know why the last line is important.

Screaming Idiot: This was three sentences when it should have been at least five. Please comma splice less. Also, I'm bored. It's all telling and like ten different sci-fi tropes crammed into a blob without character of its own.

sparksbloom: Intriguingly gross. I want to know more. Have an :unsmith:.

dmboogie: First line's tone feels a bit different from the rest, but I appreciate the comic rhythm after that. Not quite :unsmith:-worthy, but if I was a judge, this would make me feel hopeful for the rest of the story.

Carcer: I'm bummed out and also kind of bored.

Pippin: The intensity of something so simple is intriguing, as well as 'there wasn't enough time'. What's he racing against? I'll never know.

Mercedes: Intense but I don't know what's going on yet. Hopefully that gets resolved soon. One paragraph only, though.

QuidProQuid: Grabs at my emotions in a way that most of these haven't so far, but not enough to make me go "ooh what's up here?".

Entenzahn: A bit bland but you set up a conflict in one paragraph so good on you.

Benny Profane: Despite nothing much happening, you've got a good mumblecore tone to the first line.

Chainmail Onesie: For someone who had her communications jammed and is being chased by someone, she seems more put out than actually upset. Eva spends this whole paragraph looking at stuff.

Titus82: I have to hope this is a setup to some creepy bedtime-story-type horror, like the moon is a blister on your cheek that bursts into spiders and then he finds that his dog wasn't licking his hands at all!!!

Fuschia tude: Reasonably compelling, but too short to get a further read.

Tyrannosaurus: Aww. Passivity works all right here because it sounds like he's still in shock.

Ironic Twist: Might be cool, might not be, it's only fifteen words long so I can't say.

magnificent7: Okay this is six words, at least 'fight' is one of the words so that's a conflict, I guess.

flerp: I hope this is either someone's religious screed based on his knowledge of god via potatoes, or that god is a character in this story.

SurreptitiousMuffin: I like it, good combination of urgency and a bit of imagery. Although it didn't get me right away, on reflection, you get an :unsmith:

mistaya: Oof, starting with dialogue is risky, but I guess this makes me want to know more.

Obliterati: Bit flowery at places but at the same time, it's an interesting idea. I want to know what's up with grampa's iron business.

Mr Gentleman: I can't think of a good burn using Arthur Conan Doyle's name because I snoozed through this entire thing.

specres of autism: Interesting if short.

Killer-of-Lawyers: I want a story about exponential potatoes but I don't know if this is going to deliver.

skwidmonster: Too short to say much, but hey, conflict.

The Saddest Rhino: Explosions are cool, "the disarrayed crashings" is dumb.

Boaz-Jachim: What the gently caress is this nonsense eternal loser -1/10

Noah: You'd get an :unsmith: but it's about missing testicles so :smith: is more appropriate. Where's his balls?

curlingiron: Okay, I guess the conflict is dad vs daughter's lack of enthusiasm.

Kaishai: I feel like the fact that they kept doing it in the potatoes was a bit weird, but okay. It's an interesting sorta-magic situation set up here.

Paladinus: Zzz

Dr. Kloctopussy: I hope "glamour" and "as young as ever" are literal and not figurative.

Thranguy: Wow why is this guy a dick to a prisoner?

Fuubi: That's a really awkward sentence. It reaches back to put an action before the dialogue when you could just put it before the dialogue and avoid having to day "who had just barked".

Bad Seafood: Creepy and reminds me of the latest Oglaf about the avocado incubus. :unsmith:

Capntastic: I have no clue what any of this is and cannot pronounce your character's name, even theoretically inside my head.

Marshmallow Blue: Fairly basic, but you've got a potential source of conflict established, at least.

Boaz-Jachim fucked around with this message at 22:12 on Jun 6, 2016

Sep 20, 2015


People responding to crits posted:

mnam mlam mmm um mmm lmmm ammm mam nna unnn mlum nam

Sep 20, 2015


Chili posted:

Bring it on and stuff.

ZeBourgeoisie posted:

You sound like a real rear end in a top hat. "If I had any clout."


If you have any balls, fight me.

Hi, I'm your judge for this brawl.

You're going to write a fantasy story. However, the roles are reversed: the monster is the hero, and the evil being they have to slay is a valiant knight.

1250 words, due 1 AM Mountain time, Friday June 17.

You may ask to be assigned a monster. I don't want to read monster manual entries; if you give me an infodump on your monster's traits, you'll lose.

Sep 20, 2015

A Terrible Knightbrawl: Results

Chili posted:

Count Chocula's Lament
1200 Words
I asked for a monster (protagonist) fighting a knight (antagonist). I don't see a knight. This would be fine if you had given me something interesting in its place, but this entire story doesn't work. Here are the ways that it doesn't work:
  • The first third is useless introduction that adds nothing to the story.
  • The support group for monsters isn't relevant to the plot.
  • It's all presented as a monologue
  • It's all telling, zero showing.
  • Because it's all telling, I'm not invested in the character's feelings and I don't care that he got called Count Chocula.
  • His attempt at revenge makes him look like a jerk. I should sympathize with a main character, not think they're an rear end in a top hat.
  • Compared to the vampire's overreaction, the mayor almost doesn't care that he's been turned.
  • I don't buy the emotional turn from predatory revenge to weeping ninny.
  • He's saying all this with the mayor present? God that's awkward.
  • The moral at the end is dumb.
I've seen stories written all in-voice work, but this keeps me at such an emotional distance that it was like reading the stage directions for a melodrama without knowing any of the words: people just moving in and out, looking offended, sad, remorseful, but without any actual emotion. I'm not saying you need to tell me how characters are feeling, and I'm not saying they need to act out dramatically, but I want to be able to see their emotion without being told "I was offended" or "I was sad". I don't think you could have told this whole story within the word count, but you could maybe have managed the kidnapping of the guy's son and subsequent turning of the father within 1200 words and still have made it actually meaningful.

ZeBourgeoisie posted:

I'm Tired and Busy but Don't Want a Ban
Words: 543
I mean, clearly zero effort went into this so I feel stupid even trying to crit it, but your tenses are all over the place, you used "knight's" as a plural noun, you named a king after a Seinfeld character, you tried to use the words "ichor" and "skedaddle" in a story that wasn't about Appalachian rednecks discovering a Lovecraftian horror, your main character is a cliche with zero motivation, and the only stakes (kidnapped daughter) don't even matter and get resolved offscreen.

ZeBourgeoisie was closer to what I asked for, which was a fight between a knight and a monster from the monster's perspective. But he put zero effort in and his execution and proofreading was terrible. Chili skimmed the prompt and gave me a long, boring story, but at least his story wasn't riddled with proofing errors. Execution, however, also terrible.

Nobody wins, least of all me. I'm upset that I remembered I was judging this.

Sep 20, 2015

In with


Erowid Recruiter ‏@erowidrecruiter
Goblins, Murgos, Viashinos, Skull Bearers, Trolls, Gnolls, and a team that’s as passionate as you

Sep 20, 2015

I'm out this week.

Sep 20, 2015


Thranguy posted:



In, :toxx: for last week.


Sep 20, 2015


Blessed is the wolf which the man eats, and the wolf becomes man
1398 words

When he reached the base of the hill, the penitent werewolf turned. The evening flicker of candlelight lit the monastery's windows. The wind blowing down the hill chilled him through his friar's robe and winter pelt. He waited, ears raised, until he heard what may have been a Kyrie eleison. With one last blessing, Brother Thomas turned away from his home of thirty years, and set out through the snow.

The smells of the village at the base of the hill would have made any man hungry, let alone one with a wolf's nose. The smell of roasted vegetables made him think of Father Silvestris, the man with the strength and will to bring a hungry young wolf to heel. The man who he'd fed, once time had made him too weak to stand. The man who had been buried in hard January soil not two weeks past. The man whose office some of the brothers thought he should have.

The village was quiet and twilight quick. Even he in his wild coat was cold, and the only man he saw on his way through was a woodsman, at the far edge of the village. The sound of chopping was slow and regular, until Thomas came along the road by the woodsman's fence. The look on the man's face was of reluctant respect. In his youth, that look had annoyed Thomas, but the years had smoothed him over like water across a stone. It was the best he could expect of anyone, upon seeing the beast he was.

The village's fields gave way to forest, and the road shrunk to a path. Already, Thomas missed the smells of food almost as much as food itself. He had eaten no more than usual before leaving, planning to fast on his pilgrimage. He would not let himself be elected abbot, he had told the brothers, until he knew the character of his animal nature. Though his body twisted his stomach this way and that, making it growl out, he continued onward. In the stillness of night, he rested under an evergreen tree. Thomas woke as the sun broke low through the branches. For another full day, he walked, until he could neither hear nor smell any sign of man. On a small rise, he found a stone to sit upon, and there he waited.

In the hagiographies he had read, they had not spoken about the pain of hunger, or the fatigue. Thomas knew both well, but knowing them didn't make them any lesser. By his third day of contemplation, he felt haggard and bent, as if his waist were not enough to hold him up. It was late in the afternoon. He had already once closed his eyes and opened them to find it was hours later, and he had fallen over. This time, as he closed his eyes, he smelled flesh. His ears raised, and he heard the paff-paff of something small moving through snow. He opened one eye, without moving. On the ground in front of his seat, perhaps fifteen feet away, was a white rabbit.

Was it a temptation, or a gift from god? While his human nature considered, his animal nature sprung. He pounced from the rock into the snow, kicking up thick clods and puffs of powder. The rabbit sprang forward, and Thomas gave chase. It dashed one way, then the next, springing through the snow. Thomas followed after, bumping against tree and bush on all fours. His eyes widened and drool rolled from the corners of his mouth as he neared the rabbit. He could feel the warmth it left on his hoary whiskers and opened his jaws to snap.

Thomas twisted away at the last second. His fangs snapped at air and he fell into the snow, cold and dripping into his fur. His breath clouded the air above him. He let out a creaking howl, throwing his pain and hunger up into his lungs. As it faded into the winter air, two howls came back to him, each folding over the other. He had spent so little time as a wolf; he didn't know what they meant, but he wanted to find them. He rose to his feet, choosing to stay on his hands and feet, as it took less energy than standing. First, he followed the sound, then the smell led him closer. Two wolves, and something more. The chill couldn't hide the scent of blood on the wind.

On the slope of a hill, Thomas found them, two wolves flanking a hart whose belly was red with blood. Its rear legs had slumped beneath it. As Thomas came upon it, its front legs gave out, too, and it fell on its side in the snow. The wolves turned to look at Thomas, ears folded back and lips wrinkled. To their eyes, he must have been no more than a large, old wolf. He snarled back at them and let out two sharp barks. The nearer one stamped the ground and snapped at the air, but the farther one began to back away. The first hesitated for a moment, torn between following its mate, and challenging the old beast that was trying to take its prey. Thomas looked it straight in the eyes until it turned and vanished among the trees.

Now, to the deer. It was on its side, kicking with its hooves, eyes rolling madly. A deep gash had cut across its stomach, and with each beat of its frantic heart, more blood stained the snow. Here, eat: the prey is already caught. The hunger tore at his stomach and drew him toward the blood. Thomas swallowed back the drool, but couldn't stop panting. He put his paws on the deer's flank, and it nearly kicked him in the stomach. Its fur felt warmer than a fire. Thomas's damp breath blew across the tawny fur and white fur and blood-drenched fur. He pressed his tongue to the deer's gash and licked. His fangs trembled and his claws ached to dig into its hide. He swallowed, then lapped at the hart's side again. It twitched and snorted and he felt the muscles move under its skin, but it was too weak to get to its feet. A hoof caught him in the thigh. Thomas bent over, teeth bared, then relaxed and let out a deep breath.

The more he licked the deer's wounds, the less it fought him. Its trembling heart had slowed, and so had its bleeding. It seemed to care less that Thomas smelled and looked like its enemy, and only that Thomas was warm. As the sun dipped lower and the day grew colder, it huddled against Thomas for warmth. When the fatigue finally took him, he rested his head against the hart's warm neck.

When Thomas woke, he was cold. He raised his head and turned to look. The deer's eyes were shut, as if it had been sleeping. Thomas still felt the pain of hunger. There was no miraculous bliss to soothe him, but no anxious desperation either. Maybe it was just the confidence of a certain meal that kept him calm. He stripped one of its legs bare, and ate of its flank, but left the rest for the two wolves. He could still smell them on the wind, and they would need the meat more than he. There was nothing he knew in the words of man to say as a prayer for the hart, so instead he howled. As he followed a snow-cold stream down the hill, he wondered if there were a God of beasts, like the God of man.

Three long days later, he was back at the door of the monastery, let in, and given a fresh frock and seat by the fire before the other monks asked him what had happened. He told his story, as plainly as he could. When he was done, one of the older brothers, who had known him since he was young and impetuous, asked, "So do you believe you have God's grace now?"

"I don't know," Thomas said. All he could do was speak the truth.

The brothers held the election early in February. In March, the bishop at Tricassae ordained Father Thomas. And in January, Thomas took his second pilgrimage into the wilderness, to seek out the God of beasts.

Sep 20, 2015


Sep 20, 2015

Prompt: Biopunk
How I Got My Dad To Stop Worrying And Love Tolerate Rugby
1675 words

Amy's legs ate up the pitch. She tore across the grass with the ball against her chest, eyes on nothing but the goalposts. And then she was knocked sideways with all the force of Megan being super jealous that she got to do all the penalty kicks now. Amy hit the ground: knee, shoulder, cheek. The world snapped sideways. She tossed the ball forward, then shoved herself up to her feet. By the time she was up, Megan, in her blue pennie, was already after the ball. She took a moment to roll her ankles and flex her dumb awkward hoof-toes.

Yeah, she had bison legs. Yeah, it made her great at rugby. Yeah, she hadn't told her parents. About the rugby thing, that was.

Amy twisted her neck to the right, then to the left. She was about to run back into the game when she caught a white pick-up truck in the corner of her eye. Her dad's truck. A whole bunch of totally implausible options hit her. What if she just kept playing forever? Or just pretended like she wasn't there? Or just rewound time a little to tell her coach that she wasn't going to be able to make it today?

But she was stuck in the real world. She jogged over to the bleachers and mumbled something to the coach about her dad being here, then grabbed her bag off the bench and set off on the long, grass-cracked sidewalk to the parking lot.

Amy swung the door open and hopped into the passenger seat. "Hi, dad," she said. Everything felt so real right now that it wasn't real any more, like taking a test: all white paper and number two pencils and quiet.

"I got off work early. You weren't at home," her dad said. He took up most of everything from the center console left. Like how gas fills up whatever you put it into, he and his hair filled up whatever space there was. It wasn't a constant thing either, his hair--it came in mangy patches where human and bison teamed up to say 'yeah, put hair here'. His teeth and jaw hadn't been on the same wavelength, so his mouth was human-shaped, but just way too full of teeth. Or tooth. Or whatever. Splice biology was weird.

"Yeah, sorry," Amy said.

"I figured maybe you were studying late," he said. The truck grumbled as he put it into park and backed up along the gravel.

"Nnnope. I'm doing rugby." Her tone was like she was telling a bad joke.

There was a pause. Amy looked up; her dad was looking down. She followed his eyes. Her green athletic socks had sagged so that her curly-haired calves were visible. "And you're not shaving your legs?" he asked, though it wasn't a question. Amy looked down at her shoes and pulled her socks up higher. He continued, "I don't get it. You've got those inserts for your shoes. You can stand like a normie. And you don't shave your god drat hairy legs."

"They make the socks itch," Amy said. She wasn't facing her dad; she was looking out the window at the trees whipping by.

"Y'know, I'm sorry. I figured you'd be fine. There's stuff I could have taken to keep you--"

Amy's head snapped back toward her father. "Jesus christ, Dad, I'm fine with my legs. You're the one with the issues."

Her dad made that sigh that said 'I know more about this than you do'. "You keep up this jock stuff, you're gonna be the woman who can do sports because she's got splice legs. All you're gonna be is your genes. Why don't you do science or something, make people respect you for your brain?"

They pulled to a stop next to a stand with a couple picnic tables outside. Amy had her arms folded, slumped against the door, and had gone quiet. Her dad looked at her and said, "I just don't want you doing rugby, okay?"

"You haven't even seen me play," Amy said.

Her dad snorted and popped the door open. The whole truck bounced up on one side as he climbed out. Amy stared out at the road, watching the late afternoon light against the trees and hearing the rush of cicadas from outside. The truck slouched again, and her dad climbed back in, holding out a waffle cone with a swirl of pink ice cream in it. Amy looked from the cone to her dad's face, with his way-too-many-teeth smile. He had a cone of mint chocolate chip for himself. His bushy eyebrows raised and his grin widened. "Come on. Doesn't the strawberry queen want her tower?"

Amy got flashbacks of her eighth birthday party. All strawberry-themed. Everything. She was never going to be able to live that down. Her cheeks went hot and she sunk down in her seat. "Dad, I'm not eight," she complained as she took the cone from him.

Once they had both soothed their feelings with cold sugar, they brokered a truce: one game. He'd hold judgement until he actually saw her play.


The lights lit up the field and the bleachers like they were the only thing that was real. Everything else floated in the haze of night. The game was on in only a few minutes, and Amy's dad still hadn't shown up. And he was pretty visible, too, since he was like seven feet tall counting his hair. On the bench, Amy stuck her feet into the inserts that let her wear regular shoes, then laced up the front tight--double-knotted, too. She checked the time, then got up to take another look at the bleachers. No sign of him--but just beyond the fence, at the edge of the light, the hood of a white pick-up truck.

Amy knocked on the window until her dad rolled it down. "You can see a lot better if you actually get out of the car," she said.

"I'm fine here," he said with a shrug.

Amy leaned against the side of the car, getting a bit of its kicked-up dirt on her arms. Whatever, she was going to be getting slammed into the dirt in a few minutes. "Dad, no one cares that you work on a farm, no one cares that you're a splice. You're just my dad here to watch me."

"I'm fine right here," he said again. Amy did not have time for this argument again.


It was the second half, and they were on defense. Amy hung back toward the goal--not because she was trying some long defense game, but because she needed a breath. Up ahead of her, a tackle, and then a pile starting to form over the ball. Megan caught Amy's eye. She gave one brief forward nod to Amy, then jogged up to the ruck. Amy moved forward, checking the field ahead, then back at Megan, shuffling behind the cluster of girls on top of the ball. Then--a flash of white between Megan's legs. The ball in her hands, then falling toward her foot. Amy leaned forward and let out a thick snort.

The ball arched high up into the air. Amy blew past Megan, racing across the field. She might as well have had a red bullseye painted on her rear end because behind her, like three girls on the other team broke off after her. Bits of dirt flew up in her wake as she sprinted, checked over her shoulder, saw the ball hanging in the air like it was stationary. No, it was coming down, right at her. Her arm snapped tight around the ball, but pausing had given the other team enough time to catch up to her.

One girl dove and missed; Amy started running. The next got her arms around Amy and started to drag her down, but couldn't hold on and tumbled off. The last one bared down on Amy with a fury hot in her eyes. Amy broke into an all-out sprint, sucking in ragged breaths as she closed the distance toward the goal.

Then, bam. Now that was a real tackle. Like running into a tree trunk, except the tree's also running at top speed and wants to slam you into the dirt. She tumbled with the other girl onto the ground, and in the whirl of blazing lights and the dark sky, she caught sight of a green jersey and heaved the ball in that direction. For a moment, she breathed, then hauled herself up onto her shoulders to see Megan skidding across the goal line and shoving the ball into the grass. She could feel the bruise on her back already forming as she stood up. Before she jogged back to get ready for the conversion, she spotted, lurking in the shade by the side of the bleachers, the outline of her father. Hah. She knew he couldn't see a thing from all the way out by the road.


Amy climbed up into the passenger seat. Her back made a little ker-krnk. She smiled, but kept it small to keep her lip from splitting again. Ball to the face: not a great way to end her first game, but hey, it happens. "So how'd you like it?"

Her dad took in a deep breath. "It's intense. And drat if you're not good." She felt the pause he took press against her chest. "...but that doesn't make me comfortable with it. I mean, getting yourself hurt is one thing, but you're gonna make people judge you." He reached for the ignition and started up the truck, then stared off at the headlights for a few moments more. "I'll think about it. Ice cream?" he asked.

"Aaactually," Amy said, sliding off the seat, "Megan's mom is taking the team out for pizza. Cause first game, and all. She'll drop me off back home," she said. She swung the door shut, then waved over the window. As Amy walked back toward the field, she smiled until her lip started bleeding again.

Sep 20, 2015

In. :toxx:

Sep 20, 2015

Seeking gold, he wakes the dragon
1200 words

The stone came from Iram, from that ruined city of lofty pillars. Across the desert of al-Sham, then the Mediterranean, then the Atlantic, until it reached my home in Providence. It is white and pitted, no more than eight inches long and five wide. One side is flat and bears a fragmentary inscription in Aramaic; the other sides are raw stone.

My experiments were slow at first, owing to a difficult court case for which I was the prosecutor. While during the day, I sought to prove that the governor's nephew had engaged in misconduct with a young woman of standing, in my evenings I sought to prove that this stone did nothing. I was skeptical, as any good alchemist should be, and the tales of Iram's pillars, made not by the hands of men, seemed more like hermetic fancy.

I began to wake with weak limbs and a pale complexion. The blush of health would return to me while I worked at my office, but each night upon returning home, it was as if it began anew. No closed windows nor stale air nor chemical left unbottled was the cause. Perhaps the stone meant to force me away, but now that I knew that some power lay within, I dedicated myself to learning what it could do. The ailment that the stone forced upon me was nothing next to my own curiosity.

It first happened with water. In the course of cleaning off residue from an earlier experiment, I poured water across the top of the stone, and noted that the pool around it seemed larger than what the cup had contained. With two cups of equal size, I was able to prove that more water rolled off the stone than I had poured onto it. Next I tested it with pellets of gold. I dropped a handful on top of the stone, and clattering down its sides came a small pile: each time a pellet struck the stone, it rolled off in two directions at once. I had started with five pellets, and by the time they settled, I could count at least thirty.

I couldn't stay in my laboratory; I had to breathe fresh air and see the sky. I walked out along the streets, tracing a mindless path through Providence as I thought of the possibilities, the dangers, the sheer thrill of discovery. When I returned home, I was still in a daze, such that when I saw only five pellets of gold sitting next to the stone, I thought perhaps I had only had a dream. But when I sprinkled them over the stone again, they reappeared in multitudes. I sat, waiting, watching to see what metamorphosis had reduced their number again. Fifty-two minutes passed from their duplication until they vanished, leaving only the originals. I knew I had to find a way to extend this effect, to allow these copies to last.

My malady worsened, and my time away from home did less to solve it. One morning, my stomach was so weak that I vomited, and nearly considered staying home from work. But I set out for my office regardless, as the trial was nearing and I needed to be ready, even though it seemed so trivial now. Not long after I had entered my office, I had what the word 'vision' fails to encompass; I was not at the office, but taking a walk out toward the country, in order to raise my constitution. I could at one moment recall when I had sat down at my desk, and at the next the wooden fenceposts and the smell of wet soil as I passed a farm. The memories ran over top of each other, as if simultaneous.

A day later, I saw myself. In the morning before leaving home, I decided to examine the stone for any changes. I was halfway down the stairs when I heard a noise, and turned, and there at the top I stood, fixing my buttons, then turning to leave. I checked my stopwatch, then examined the stone--there was no difference in its appearance, but I felt a sense of unease, as if I should come no closer to it. I waited at home, until my stopwatch had counted fifty-two minutes, and then without ceremony or warning, I was in my chair in my office, in the middle of reading a written statement. My memories of staying home and those of leaving were each as vivid in my mind.

I did not know what force was feeding the stone, but its power grew. I understood now that it did not duplicate so much as create possibility. I could deal myself a hand of playing cards and watch the faces flicker in and out in front of me. I could wake up and find myself still in bed, as well as in the washroom, as well as eating breakfast, and then all at once I would have done everything: my stubble was clean and my stomach full and yet I was still in bed, with the memories of five different selves throbbing inside my skull.

It was only in the service of experimentation that I invited my client, the young woman, to my house. To discuss the trial next week, I told her. I fetched her from her house and escorted her to mine, and began to talk in earnest. The color left her cheeks after perhaps twenty minutes, and a moment later, the noise of conversation came from the parlor. She startled and I curious, we peered in to find ourselves having tea and a more casual conversation. Then, with a crash of china, another she came running from the kitchen, while another I raved like a madman and chased after her. From upstairs came impassioned cries--her own--and thumping.

After the period had elapsed, she found herself scraped and bruised, in a panic, in the streets near Saint Joseph's Church, while I found myself still at home, as if nothing untoward had happened. I cannot count how many possible-selves there were that day. I know some of what I did to her, and she knows too, and my only solace is that such dizzying multiplicity makes any account of that day such a mess that no jury would believe.

My punishment is my memory of all the possibilities in which I have died. In each, I wake up again. Iram of the Pillars stands around me, climbing higher, higher into the dark sky above, with nothing but sand stretching away for eternity. I run, or I cry, or I call out, but the empty dread and lofty pillars made not by the hands of men always swallow me whole.

Across the Seekonk and the Taunton, I buried the stone. As deep as I could dig, five feet down into the soil. There are nothing but fields and pastures near it, and perhaps without my vital essence to draw from, it will become no more than stone again. I write this not to exonerate myself, but in hopes that, if I do not return to put a final end to this stone, someone else may.

Sep 20, 2015

I always regretted joining too late for the first Voidmart.


Sep 20, 2015

In, :toxx:, and flash rule please.

Sep 20, 2015


Boaz-Jachim fucked around with this message at 01:22 on Nov 30, 2016

Sep 20, 2015

Week #223 Crits: Hate Mail

Fleta McGurn: Peanut Milk
This isn't so much a story as a reflection, and I felt the strain of trying to wrap it into an epistolary format. I figured it wasn't something he was actually going to send to her based on the way he was being descriptive--much more like he's recalling memories than like he's trying to remind someone of a shared experience. Not a whole lot happens here, and mumblecore can be nice but it doesn't grab me and the prose is good but nothing super exciting.

Rating: A bottle of purple-cap peanut milk: not fancy, but at least you won't have to milk the Planters peanut again.

N. Senada: I love you I'm sorry
I feel like there's going to be a lot of this in these stories. I know an emotional event happened just recently and people are processing it through fiction but I'm kind of fatigued about this right now. So, just going by the story itself, the transition from texts from Rachel to email to Rachel wasn't clear enough to me, so I wasn't sure if I was reading something else she'd written or what. Also this isn't much of a story either, it's more of a build-up to a revelation at the end. Which isn't bad, it's just not that present or compelling. But I bet I'm going to get a lot of that this week too.

Rating: Cafeteria pizza that you eat because it's pizza, even if it's made of cardboard and processed cheese foods.

Boaz-Jachim: Remember, I will always be your Hunter in the night Sky
At least this one was short. The repeated structure on and off is kind of hokey, and while it works for the first refrain it doesn't really land for most of the others. I didn't get a clear sense of the world, or what spirit-sickness was, which fucks with the pacing since it all happens near the end. The setting is hard to pin down too, and it feels more like this was weird for the sake of being artsy and weird than actually meaningful.

If you asked me, I think the author of this story wrote it mainly to avoid getting toxx banned.

Rating: A plate of Buffalo Wild Wings. Tingles as it goes down, but shoots through you in minutes.

Okua: To a Seaside Wall
Epistolary formats seem tricky to write a whole story in, since the character has to either have already reached their conclusion (and thus it's foregone) or haven't yet reached it and thus it's not an ending. The whole island-science thing feels like it's infantilizing her a little, which probably wasn't your intention, but it does make her seem younger than she's probably meant to be. Then again, she is sending letters to someone who's dead, so maybe she's just more whimsical. I did like this, though I wished there was more of a clear resolution to it one way or another.

Rating: A crisply folded sand dollar to take to the river bank.

Baleful Osmium Sea: Bottled Immortality
I'm not sure whether or not to take this seriously, because on one hand, your characters are Elwyn Alphonse and Nathaniel Bottomsly, but on the other hand, nothing particularly amusing happens, beyond standard foppishness. I kept waiting for some turn to come, but there wasn't a point where something happened that was that unexpected. He knows a poet, the poet is into alchemy. The poet doesn't like fame. He invents a device to make him immortal, and gives his last poem to his friend, who throws it into the sea. No real struggle or arc there, which is a shame, because I could tell you put work into the elaborate prose.

Rating: A tea doily that doesn't do anything but is very nice to look at.

a new study bible!: Comfort and Security
Hey, this was good and it was a story. Good job. It started off with a sentimental tone that wasn't quite working for me, but it builds (after a wait that did feel kind of long) to a great paranoid weirdness. It's not horror and it's not unreal, it's just gently unsettling in a pretty satisfying way, and the contrast between his tone and what he's saying and the fact that this is supposed to be his cover letter all works for me.

Rating: A trip to Disneyland when all you expected was Universal Studios.

Hammer Bro.: Nigh
The little-kid voice grated on me, but I thought the joke at the end was amusing enough. It's good that it was short, because joke stories that run on too long are always really rough to listen to. I think that the next-to-last paragraph is a little on-the-nose, but I don't know. Maybe other people wouldn't have picked it up without bopping them over the head with the whole satan thing.

Rating: Krampus doesn't put coal in your stocking or cut off your head or whatever it is he's supposed to do. I'm not from Norwegia, I don't know.

Thanguy: Lean That Way Forever
Back to things that are questionably stories, but definitely an interesting world and a compelling perspective. Read the whole thing all the way through, and while the lich thing leaves me scratching my head just a bit I thought it was an overall enjoyable read. Here, the voice of being written as a letter managed to keep the expository worldbuilding from becoming too much of an infodump.

Rating: Words words words.

Jay W. Friks: Deadline Imminent-Please Open Immediately
While I don't agree with your protagonist on a lot of things, I did find the introduction compelling enough to keep reading through it and he does feel sincere in his own beliefs. I was expecting something a bit more self-aggrandizing to be the explanation, but actually the fact that he just owns up to it was enough of a play on my expectations that it worked for me.

Rating: A Pontiac sedan with four-wheel drive.

SkaAndScreenplays: 99 Songs of Revolution
I'm not sure if this is meant to be a joke or not because if I believe the flash rule, I'm left assuming that he's going to go out, drink ten gallons of rice milk, and pull out his car's headlights. If I don't, then it's barely anything with an arc at all. At least N. Senada's had a structure to it and characters and stuff.

Rating: Just a normal jug of milk. Why is everyone getting weird with milk this week? Just milk out of a cow's big pink milk nipples.

Tyrannosaurus: To Open On The Day You Graduate Highschool
This was pretty sweet, and I don't have a lot more to say about it. Again, the potential story-ness is lessened by the fact that it's all epistolary, which is fine, but the ending seems odd to me. It provides context but doesn't really wrap things up in any way. It's where the story stops but it doesn't feel like that's where it ends, you know?

Rating: The happiest most huggable IED in the world.

Kaishai: Discovery
Cool, one of what, three actual stories this week? It reminds me most of the cosmic lich one, what with the strange metahuman stuff going on, but this is a lot more personal, the Gone Home to that one's Jupiter Ascending. It was pleasant, and interesting, and I don't have a whole lot more I can dig out of it. Like I said a lot earlier on, the epistolary format makes it very hard to end strong, I think, because things have either been concluded for a while or are still ongoing, and this one falls into the latter category. There's more to hear, but the story stopped there.

Rating: Gneiss.

Sep 20, 2015

Week #223 Crits: For the Widows in Thunderdome, for the DQs in Ypsilanti

Hawklad: Flying with the Turkeys
I had a sense that you were going for some kind of horror fairly early on since you dropped clues about something being wrong. I wasn't sure if it was going to be mundane or not, and even now I'm not sure if he's drunk and crazy or if there really are strange things happening. Considering that this DQed, I'm willing to assume that maybe you didn't have time to write the ending you were planning to, or something. Regardless, it feels like the story builds and builds and then flies off at the end to vanish into the distance without really giving any closure. The reveal that she's dead near the end is a bit of a twist, but since it's not actually that relevant to the plot that doesn't bother me. This doesn't really read like someone who's writing, though. It sounds like a transcript of speech. There's a bit too many colloquialisms for writing--even for a stilling hillbilly.

Rating: There's a reason why the rare ould mountain dew is rare.

widespread: My Old Friend Needs A Hand
The ambiguousness of this in the beginning bothered me, because it felt like it was going to stay abstract--which I wouldn't have liked, I'm glad it ended up concrete--but there's no real reason to hide what he's doing. I really like the image of a nuclear launch operator who treats the launch button like a friend, but you disconnected the idea of anthropomorphizing the button in the first paragraph from the point when you say what it is near the end. The point of view of a depressed launch operator is a good idea, but the part where you would have been able to explore that, I was still trying to figure out what button he was pressing.

Rating: The squad of dolphins that guards the USA's nuclear arsenal.

BeefSupreme: Protect the Future
So the future thing was tricky for me to pick up on, since there's so many things that are grounded in modern-day reality. Being grounded isn't a bad thing, but I was imagining a very normal suburban setting until suddenly it's in the future and we're meeting aliens. A little something to insinuate that this isn't the real world would have helped prepare me for the sudden Avatar-ness. Aside from that, the trouble with focusing so much on Charlie is that he doesn't really do anything. This is formatted more like a traditional story than others this week, but at the same time, Charlie just reads a letter and looks at a flash drive--he makes a choice, yeah, but that's pretty much the last line and then it ends.

Rating: A used VHS of Starship Troopers.

Sep 20, 2015

Thunderdome CCXXIV: I Wanna Dome You Like An Animal

This week, you're going to write stories about beasts, whether mythological or mundane. When you sign up, you may choose a beast to write about, or have me choose one for you. If you don't say anything, I'm going to assume you want me to choose for you. If you choose some bullshit that's basically a human like a vampire or an elf, I'm going to give you a better beast. The beast doesn't have to be your protagonist, but must at least be an important character.

Everyone will get a flash rule to help inspire them.

Genre is wide open: realism, historical, fantasy, fable, sci-fi, poetry, whatever.

Word count is 1100 words.

Signups close at 11 PM Pacific on Friday.
Submissions close at 11 PM Pacific on Sunday.



Erogenous Beef (Centaur)
SkaAndScreenplays (Manticore)
widespread (Minotaur)
The Cut of Your Jib (Falcon) :toxx:
Chairchucker (Sphinx)
Third Emperor (Cockroaches)
Fleta Mcgurn (Horse)
N. Senada (Kobold)
sparksbloom (Coyote)
BeefSupreme (Dog)
Baleful Osmium Sea (Gargoyle)
Guiness13 (Chimera)
Chili (Tiger)
Electric Owl (Sasquatch)
Sailor Viy (Bison)
Jay W. Friks (A Bao A Qu)
flerp (Platypus)
Entenzahn (Dragon)
Beige (Bear)
Hugoon Chavez (Erinyes)
Fuubi (Tyrannosaurus rex)
Chainmail Onesie (Zebra)
a new study bible! (Pigs)
llamagucci (Black Shuck)
Farchanter (Donkey)
Club Sandwich (Smilodon)
Ironic Twist (Raijū)

Boaz-Jachim fucked around with this message at 01:53 on Nov 18, 2016

Sep 20, 2015


SkaAndScreenplays posted:

With a Manticore
Flash rule: Takes pride in its sharpshooting ability.

widespread posted:

Lemme tell you about my favorite beast, the mINotaur.

And yes, I'm choosing that beast.
Flash rule: The minotaur wants to be a sculptor.

The Cut of Your Jib posted:

In: flash and beast me

:toxx: for blowing the last deadline
Falcon. Flash rule: Trouble on a scouting mission.

Sphinx. Flash rule: Would love to be doing anything other than guarding this tomb.

ThirdEmperor posted:

In with cockroaches.
Flash rule: "I love you, but I have a secret...I'm cockroaches."

Fleta Mcgurn posted:

In, please inspire me.
Horse. Flash rule: Heroic horse, cowardly rider.

Boaz-Jachim fucked around with this message at 05:04 on Nov 16, 2016

Sep 20, 2015


N. Senada posted:

In, requesting beast and flash rule.
Kobold. Flash rule: Gets into trouble trying to prove itself.

sparksbloom posted:

In. And don't miss:
Coyote. Flash rule: Struggles to be trusted.

Erogenous Beef posted:

I don't care that the next prompt isn't up yet. Preemptively in, whatever it may be.
Centaur. Flash rule: A power struggle.

Dog. Flash rule: There's a mystery afoot.

Gargoyle. Flash rule: Trying to attract new residents.

Guiness13 posted:

In. Beast me
Since Ska changed his mind:
Chimera. Flash rule: Its heads disagree over a small matter.

Chili posted:

In. Throw a tiger my way, please and thank you.
Flash rule: The hunter doesn't know what he's really hunting.

Electric Owl posted:

IN w/ a Sasquatch
Flash rule: Addicted to human hair care products.


Sep 20, 2015


Sailor Viy posted:

In with a Bison.
Flash rule: A moment of peace between predator and prey.

Flash rule: What does the A Bao A Qu eat?

Side note: It's hard to go wrong with a beast from the Book of Imaginary Beings.

flerp posted:

im in with a platypus :toxx:
Flash rule: Baffled by your own body.

Entenzahn posted:

In, dragon
Flash rule: A challenging interspecies relationship.

Bear. Flash rule: Wants to steal tasty snacks.

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