Our office is in full swing, and unfortunately, I find that terrifying.
|# ¿ Jul 26, 2016 02:20|
|# ¿ Oct 1, 2022 07:28|
Our office is in full swing, and unfortunately, I find that terrifying.
Inertia (998 words)
Jon wanted to get off this ride. The walls of the office groaned and shook, dislodging plaster and motivational posters. And Craig was there. Of course Craig was there.
The Grand Majesty, an award-winning assemblage of high-tensile cables and concrete, was no longer grand nor majestic. Steel tendrils grasped at the skyline, whipping chunks of concrete into the air.
Thirty seconds ago, the architectural marvel was intact. At the top, fourteen stories up the stunted cone of a building, was the pièce de résistance - a dramatic circular outcrop. It was held in place by perfectly engineered cables and counterweights, balanced by a large concrete arch that ran up the opposite side of the building.
Jon had followed Craig here to escape the party down the hall. Standing next to a large bronze statue of Rutherford Industries’ founder, he’d marvelled at the panoramic arc of toughened glass.
Now the view was a kaleidoscopic whirl of blue and grey and white and speed. The clipped circle spinning like a top and crunching against the building.
Jon always thought Craig was a bit of a tool, the kind of person who finds their way into management through determined lingering. But Craig led a team in the IT department and Jon desperately wanted in, this was an opening. It hadn’t been going well, Craig kept calling Jon “Jeff” and Jon was pretty certain he’d been confused with someone else.
Craig had decided to demonstrate to Jon how sound the cabling was. It should have been sound enough to take a swift, unfortunately placed kick to one of the locking clamps. It wasn’t.
The terrifying rotation of the office started to slow as the two central cables ran out of intertwining to do.
“Why didn’t you stop me? I mean, the engineers should ha - I.. You wait here and I’ll go get someone.”
Wow. Apparently Craig hadn’t climbed the corporate ladder through staying power alone.
“H..hey, what do you mean by ‘we’? I mean, there was a pretty clear warning sign, and you kicked i..”
“Jeff. Please. This is an emergency situation, so if you’d just let me take charge instead of trying to undermine me, I’ll get us out safely.”
Craig, I hate you. I hate you so much. I’m going to die because of you and architectural hubris. You can’t even get my name right and I’m going to die and it’s your fault.
The office slowly accelerated in the opposite direction as the cabling untwisted. Jon felt a tearing and then a crunch through the floor as it tilted sharply. He looked out the window at the accelerating backdrop of building/ocean/building and could see that they were also descending.
Craig had frozen and wasn’t doing Jon any favours.
“Craig! Grab that rail, now.”
Craig lurched toward the viewing platform’s guard rail and held himself against it. Craig didn’t look confident that a guard rail would save him from the fall, but it was the best Jon could do on short notice. At least Craig would be out of the way.
Jon needed to stall the office’s descent. He couldn’t exactly grab the cables to slow them down, so maybe there was something outs- the Arch! If he could shift the weight of the circle, maybe they’d roll around?
He looked at bronze Roger Rutherford. Bronze Roger looked out across the office, unperturbed by the unfolding disaster. Jon staggered to the outer wall.
Jon hit Roger at full tilt, leaping at the last moment and wrapping himself around Roger’s chest like an awkward koala. Roger toppled over onto his side, landing on Jon’s forearm. Jon screamed in pain, but through the haze he saw centrifugal force take Roger and roll him toward the outer walls.
Jon, clutching the now vacant base of the statue with his one good arm, watched Roger now roll with purpose, bouncing violently toward the outer wall. As it crashed against the wood panelling, Jon felt the direction of the office shift.
The office swung around the outside of the building and Jon’s knuckles went white. It had started to slow as the cables began to wind themselves again, tearing a ragged scar down and now around the side of the Grand Majesty toward the brilliant white counterweight arch.
The office thundered into the arch. Jon was airborne, and then suddenly not. He slammed into the back of a couch, bounced slightly and found himself lying on the cold, sloped marble floor. Craig seemed to have done little better, and looked just as dazed as Jon felt.
The office had stopped its rampage, lodging itself between the building and the counterweight. They could walk straight out what was left of the panoramic windows into the fresh hole in the second floor staff cafeteria wall.
“Come on Craig, we can get out this way.”
After hours, the place was empty. Craig and Jon clambered down into the main building and onto firm, flat footing.
“Jeff, I’m going to have to tell Kevin that you attacked his statue”
Obviously firm ground was giving Craig some of his bluster back.
“Wait a minute Craig, you’re the one who -”
“Jeff. The damage that you did to that office is irreparable. You can’t expect me t-”
“That I did?! Craig, I just saved our lives. What the hell, man?”
“Man? Jeff, you will address me with the appropriate tone, you -”
Jon had made some decisions about his desire to work in IT at Rutherford over the last five minutes. He had one more to make. He balled his fist around all the bubbling rage and used it to make a career limiting decision about Craig's face.
Craig dropped to the floor. Jon propped him against the gash in the wall.
He crossed the darkened room and stepped into the stairwell. As the door closed behind him he could hear a mixture of expensive, angry and concerned footsteps clipping down the hallway toward Craig in the cafeteria.
gently caress you, Craig.
|# ¿ Jul 31, 2016 23:29|
A GHOST wants to HOST A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR A PAL
A SENTIENT HOUSE wants to RUN A MARATHON.
|# ¿ Aug 2, 2016 21:13|
(A GHOST wants to HOST A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR A PAL)
Samuel wanted to throw James a birthday party.
This would be difficult. Samuel had been dead for some time. James wasn't dead, but Samuel’s demise meant they weren't nearly as close as they used to be.
James wasn't even aware it was his birthday. He'd lived to a ripe age, and everybody who knew him well enough to remind him was in the ground. And Gods know, he wouldn't remember himself.
They called him Old Jim these days. Not the sort of old man the young’uns would dare each other to steal chickens from - but not the sort who'd hand out ears of corn with a smile either. Just an old man who went from home to the inn and then back again once it got dark.
Time moves in odd ways when you are a ghost. Samuel remembered watching James turn into Old Jim, but it still felt like yesterday they were young men in their prime. He could still smell the damp pine of their hunting days.
James deserved a good birthday party.
Samuel wouldn't have to go far to find everyone. The air was thick with ghosts here. People died fast in Willow's End. People died fast everywhere these days.
“Who wants to come to a party for James?”
Some hands went up. Some moans of recognition from the roiling cloud of ghosts that occupied the village square. Gathering places were lousy with ghosts. They follow their loved ones, get distracted and wind up here out of habit. Samuel had hoped he’d get a better reaction than this.
“You know, Old Jim. James son of James and Heather. They sold fish here.”
More murmurs and moans. More than last time though, more hands too. Ghosts don’t use words when they don’t have to. Some forget how. Not Samuel. Lad came out talking and death wasn’t going to stop him.
“Alright, well we’re throwing him a party for his birthday. Put the word out. He’s been out the womb sixty harvests and is starting to look like one of us. James’ place is up the other end of town, just along the creek a bit. Small place, bit hermit-like. We’ll meet there tonight, when he gets home from the Inn.”
Ethereal nods. A general hubbub of consent. One audible grumble.
Bart the farmer had forgotten how to speak over the years since becoming a ghost. He definitely hadn’t forgotten how to grumble. Samuel knew what the grumble meant too. If Bart could talk he would be saying something like “A party for that miserable wretch James!? You jest, Samuel. The night you and James stole from me you doomed my family. I should have killed him the same as I did you.”
Bart the farmer would have said all that, but he couldn’t. Ghosts that cling to a grudge lose other parts of themselves faster. So it was a grumble. There’s a power in a worked-up ghost though. Not enough to cross over, but enough to base ghost stories on.
Samuel would have to be wary of Bart. Parties weren’t very good if someone at the party wanted to kill the guest of honour. They were exciting, but not generally regarded as successes. Samuel wanted this party to be a success.
A good party needs food and drink. Ghosts could magick up whatever they needed because for them it was really just for show, but James would require a good ale and a hunk of bird. Samuel pondered this. It’s difficult for ghosts to get supplies from more solid sources.
If a ghost wanted food for mortals, they need to find a suitable helper. Humans generally aren’t suitable. It takes a certain susceptibility to psychic influence, and people tend to build that up over time. This many ghosts floating around they need to block out the background noise.
No, Samuel needed a being further down the pecking order. This was going to make the ale tricky, but a cat or a dog near the inn should be able to help him with a drumstick.
Two hours - including a very frustrating 45 minutes with goat and a stolen flask - later, Samuel had his party supplies. The timing could not have been better. James would be home in half an hour and ghosts had started to arrive.
It felt like a good party. The sea of ghosts bubbled in the small quarters. They spilled out through the walls and up the path. Samuel was pleased. The guests were pleased too. There was a general thrum of contentment emanating from James’ house now.
Ghosts are sensitive to emotions. They can feel them the way humans can smell hot food. Such a pleasant gathering is bound to draw curious visitors. It is also bound to draw the attention of ghosts who hold grudges. Bart was drawn, and he brought tidings of ill will.
James trudged up the path along the creek. He passed a goat gently head-butting a tree on his way, but besides that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He wasn’t aware that he was walking through a hundred ghosts gathered in his honor. All turning to greet him and raising their flagons.
Samuel stood on the doorstep with his arms stretched wide and James passed straight through him. James walked in to the sounds of a loud ghost cheer and lit a candle. Ghost cheers sound like silence. He collapsed onto the small straw mattress in the corner and slept the sleep of a man who’s had a skinful.
Bart heard the loud ghost cheer. Ghost cheers don’t sound like silence when you are a ghost. Already angered, he was rolling through furious and into incandescent. Other ghosts could see Bart coming. He’d taken on an orange, turbulent glow. Animals could sense him and knew to steer clear. The goat turned and ran.
Samuel saw Bart and groaned. This would not be good for the party.
He ran down the path toward the orange Bart.
“Bart, please, let’s just let bygones be bygones, yes? There’s no reason to hold a grudge this long - James is old now, you’re talking about something we did as youngsters”
Bart grumbled. Samuel knew what grumbles meant. Ghosts can hurt other ghosts. With this much rage, ghosts might even be able to hurt people. Samuel strode toward Bart and tried to punch him in the mouth. Bart had fought people more often than Samuel in his lifetime. Bart saw it coming and swept Samuel aside and into the creek with a mighty backhand.
Bart’s growing orange glow carved a broad swathe through the party’s guests to James’ door. Then he was inside the lodgings and roaring at James’ slumbering frame. James dreamt frightful dreams.
Worked into a frenzy, Bart had begun to gain some influence over his surroundings. Curtains were blown by a strong wind. James’ meagre furnishings shook with Bart’s anger. James stirred, but with so much ale in him it would take nothing less than a stampede through his front door.
Bart shook James’ candle to the ground. It had been a dry season, and the crops would suffer for it. James’ hut suffered for it. The fire spread quickly. This was now a bad party.
Samuel rushed into the room and knelt at James’ side. Ghosts cannot shake people awake. Even if they really want to. James was going to die here. This was a terrible party.
James’ ghost stood in front of Samuel. His face lit up.
“Happy birthday, James.” Samuel beamed.
James saw Bart.
“Oh, right - yes. James, we need to run. Now.”
And they ran. They ran like young men in their prime. James could smell the damp pine.
|# ¿ Aug 8, 2016 00:37|
Hit me with some employee flavour.
|# ¿ Oct 18, 2016 06:24|
|# ¿ Oct 26, 2016 18:11|
The lights went out last August.
It took a while to realise the extent of the outage, but within a week we knew from friends of relatives of friends of travelers that the whole of New Zealand was disconnected.
Next to my wife in bed, we could both hear how the sounds had changed. At night the ocean sounded louder, closer.
The boats had stopped bringing in oil, and the rigs shut down. Soon the sounds of engines dwindled and our cars became little more than decoration, uncomfortable rooms mounted on rubber.
Jobs changed too. We found new ways to be useful. I left my job at the council and started a vegetable garden. My wife and son spent the afternoons outside with me, tending the seedlings in our newly turned back garden.
We heard sounds that had always been there more clearly - the animal and insect sounds, wind through trees. My son said he could hear the way the breeze wove between the individual branches.
Most of all: the birds. The air filled with birdsong, the sound rushing in to fill the vacuum like wine into a glass. Harmonies, counter-melodies, a whole choir of voices tumbling over each other. A perfect, chaotic symphony.
And at the heart of the arrangement was their message. We all came to hear it in our own time.
“This land is ours, we were, we are and we will be – even after you’re gone.”
|# ¿ Oct 30, 2016 21:20|
Proof of submission.
|# ¿ Oct 30, 2016 22:03|
Interprompt: A better comeback. 50 words.
|# ¿ Oct 31, 2016 08:03|
|# ¿ Dec 6, 2016 20:31|
Weather Forecast: Drought
Round White Pebbles
steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at 20:37 on Dec 31, 2016
|# ¿ Dec 12, 2016 05:30|
Thunderdome CCXXVIII - Unqualified
This week's theme is ineptitude - I want you to write a story about it all going pear-shaped for a protagonist in over their head.
Maybe they talked their way into it, maybe they were promoted - maybe they thought they could do whatever it is they want to do but are now confronted by the sudden crushing realisation they don't know what they are doing. Today is the day they deal with it.
Your character is inept and they know it - and it's all gone Pete Tong. Let's party.
Flash rules available, have deputised co-judge Sebmojo to hand them out too. Looking for a third judge.
Word limit: 800 words
Sign-up deadline: Friday, December 16, 11:59 PM EST
Submission deadline: Sunday, December 18, 11:59 PM EST
Watching it all go wrong
Baleful Osmium Sea
steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at 23:33 on Dec 16, 2016
|# ¿ Dec 13, 2016 05:10|
Lurk more. Kayfabe more. Word-fight those who would second-guess you. Feed the engine with your words.
Let's get this train back on the tracks - mojo and I need a third judge to join us.
e: Chairchucker volunteered. Panel is complete.
steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at 09:50 on Dec 14, 2016
|# ¿ Dec 14, 2016 09:29|
In room twenty-six a nurse looked at him with cold undersea eyes.
In. Flash, please.
(Pieces of murder fall slow as opal chips through glycerine. )
Incompetence is my area of expertise, though I could use a flash of inspiration.
|# ¿ Dec 14, 2016 10:53|
I know you were all waiting with bated breath for my return. In. Flash.
Anyone who has ever looked into a mirror knows what this crime is and what it means in terms of lost control when the reflection no longer obeys...
|# ¿ Dec 14, 2016 22:00|
|# ¿ Dec 17, 2016 05:18|
|# ¿ Dec 19, 2016 05:22|
Thunderdome Week CCXXVIII Results: Unqualified
As a reasonably inexperienced judge, I felt I had to cool my jets occasionally and defer to the wisdom of my co-judges. Not so, turns out we’re on the same page. Word limits are hard and get DQs, and y'all wrote a bunch of mediocre stories this week.
The Thunderdome soufflé we ate had a great, sunken, soggy middle. Digging around at the edges though, we found a couple of spoonfuls of delight. THE WINNER is Erogenous Beef for the wonderful tale of Samuel Slopbucket. You had us at psychic murder-fungus.
Tasting nearly as good, but not quite because your prompt was about the consumption of putrid black flesh, Thranguy gets an Honorable Mention. Super bold move with your perspective, but excellent use of the prompt and flashrule.
Losing patience for the metaphor like I did with a bunch of these stories, we find ourselves with the not very good bits of the soufflé. Dishonorable Mention goes to widespread. There was a lot of middle-of-the-road this week, but with an anticlimactic ending this unfortunately didn’t manage to fade into the pack.
Which brings us to THE LOSER. GenJoe’s story of what not to do if a stranger dies on your doorstep didn’t satisfy. While widespread was picked off for momentarily separating from the herd, this charged in the other direction. The “Crazy man texts dead man’s mother and makes her think he’s still alive” cannon was primed and ready to deliver a payload of pathos or hijinx, but you got to it too late and there was soggy soufflé all over the wick.
More terrible mixed metaphors will arrive tomorrow with my crits.
|# ¿ Dec 19, 2016 11:09|
Crits ahoy. Most of these will be judge burps, but I’ll expend effort where I think it’s worth it. Mrenda gets a few more lines than most because a) it was first and b) out of respect for the relentless crits of everyone else’s stuff.
Mrenda - The Jester's Sickness
This story came in super early, and probably could have used a little bit more cooking time. It’s not a terrible story, but it was the first of many that sat squarely in the middle of the pack - some extra editing time, some breathing space, and you could have kicked it up a notch.
To pick up a few standouts - I thought Medea was a nice subtle touch, but then you rolled in with Romeo and Juliet at the end, which felt super unsubtle. Like, gimme some Godot, some Antigone, something a little less obvious? Make it more of a knowing wink between Marie and Alton, reflective of the other works you mention.
Your self-tickle para took a few reads to work out what was happening. I thought she’d attacked Sally, and suddenly realised that Sally was also sick on the first read. I think you inserted an alternate name for your character by accident at one point - or at least it reads that way. I felt the demented penguin shenanigans belied a massive lack of self-awareness. Marie knew she was a rubbish clown, but it was like she’d put up a barrier in her head that stopped her figuring out why? Same with the starjumps.
I think I can see where you were pointing with the charm bracelet, but it’s a terrible present for a child. I guess it’s the social pressures of maintaining relationships with rich friends whilst being poor, but you’re relying on reader to paste over the cracks with keeping up appearances tropes. Also, felt like you cut some lines about a reading Marie was meant to be at? Single ref doesn’t stand on its own, so better to shave that complexity out altogether if you don’t have room to expand on it.
Jagermonster - Ride of the White Knight
This slid pretty close to the bottom of the middle pack for me. A couple of things kept it out of DM range - the para about him acting out the palm strike helped bring Justin into view pretty clearly. The whole thing was a bit LOL NICE GUYS, but you managed to sketch out a solid character in the space you had. If you’ve got a trope like this, try and flip it a bit harder, not just explain how lovely white knights/nice guys(™) are. I think most of us already know.
Hawklad - Tribal Wisdom
So this went from “ooh, this feels a bit racist” to “oh, I guess it’s just the protag being a bit racist” to “I’m pretty sure this is a trope that’s being played very straight”. Chief criticism, medical intervention team to rescue the muppet isn’t going to be able to fix this dude’s pipes - unless he’s planning on taking that team hostage, and that team’s rescue team, and so on until the engineering staff he needs are the only people available to go on rescue missions.
You worked your flashrule in, and your ‘the City’ idea made more sense knowing it. I read through without flashrules on though, and it just read as a bunch of useless setting that didn’t really need to be there. Middle.
Chili - Dangling
I started nitpicking within the first para. If 19 tamers failed before you, you are the 20th tamer. You’re not the 20th to fail yet, but maybe that’s a detail that you need to use words to explain.
I liked what you did here though. I feel educated in griffin husbandry, which reflects your protag’s bookish approach well. It took too drat long to make me care though, you missed your opening punch so it took a while to get exciting again. Middle. Basically if you didn’t get an HM or DM or a Win or Lose, you’re in the middle. I’m going to stop saying middle now.
Entenzahn - But I smiled
Well this was emotionally manipulative, wasn’t it? A number of good lines, particularly the opener. Don’t know whether you meant fir or fern in para 3, but you didn’t manage either.
To be honest, I was pretty happy that you tried this with the prompt. The character had all the imposter syndrome of being thrown in the deep end, and was aware that they were doing a lovely job - but I guess it felt a little too obvious when you hit us with BUT SUDDENLY I WASN’T RUBBISH AT THIS ANYMORE in the voice of a kindergarten teacher at storytime.
Benny Profane - The Entertainment
Relatively unique take on Huxley’s Brave New World. Would like to see these ideas unpacked further.
Things just kind of happen around Wembley, apart stalling his need to act and delivering one instruction to the men in the break room. Also, the threat didn’t seem to fit the setting you’d put me in - was he just poo poo at threats? Or did he have the power to inflict gruesome deaths? I don’t know. I should know by reading your story though.
Baleful Osmium Sea - Turning Lock
This was sitting up the top end of the pack for me - it just didn’t quite have enough to pop it up to the HM winner’s level. I fell into reading this as GrimDarkFuture pretty fast, so I enjoyed the way you tied it off.
I’m going to bed now. More crits coming tomorrow evening.
|# ¿ Dec 20, 2016 10:05|
|# ¿ Dec 21, 2016 19:33|
|# ¿ Dec 27, 2016 23:32|
In with quit farting so much. Because there are real problems facing our society today, and they all have to do with poots.
|# ¿ Dec 27, 2016 23:34|
In w/ Get ‘er Done (Stop Procrastinating)
|# ¿ Dec 27, 2016 23:35|
In with Get a Mentor
|# ¿ Dec 27, 2016 23:37|
In with encourage my kids more.
|# ¿ Dec 28, 2016 05:21|
Gotta try to not fail at some point. In with Get a Pet.
|# ¿ Dec 28, 2016 05:23|
|# ¿ Dec 30, 2016 04:10|
|# ¿ Oct 1, 2022 07:28|
they're all terrible and you should feel terrible
|# ¿ Jan 2, 2017 21:02|