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May 3, 2003

College Slice

I'll take a crack at this one.


May 3, 2003

College Slice

The Path

1036 words

She drew her blades, the sound impossibly loud within the confines of the cavern. "When the time comes, you will know the path" - her mother's words, spoken in her gravel voice, rang inside her head.

So long this moment had eluded her. So long she pictured it in her mind, fantasizing the possibilities within the bladesong, the cuts and slashes, the false attacks and parries, prelude to the killing blow. But always her imagination would falter before that conclusive strike, distracted by the choices, the skill she would need, the overwhelming options. The picture would fade into indecision. This was her fear, her despair. How could she win if she couldn't even find a clear path to victory within her mind?

Doubt spoke unbidden: Because you aren't ready, girl. You haven't learned enough. Like your father, you will die gasping and bleeding and making GBS threads yourself in front of those you love. The smell of it returned.

She squeezed her eyes shut and the waters parted, leaving her vision clear. She was not her father. She was not her mother,

She was Elwein.

Fifth daughter of family that no longer existed. Fifth daughter of a great Mother, born in the bowels of a bare warren far from the Center of the World. Her secret that she had been born for much more than a life in the mines. Born of a bastard she would only meet on the day of his death, but marked as a child of destiny by the followers of Mother's Church. A shameful birth. Hidden and ugly, she never knew of her noble heritage until the day her father died before her. Killed by Nov'goth. Killed by the Beast that ruled these mines.

Her world was the mines. The people of the mines were her people. And today would be the day. Their day.

Elwein raised her blades high, and a battle cry grew within her. This was her time. Time to end this life and start anew. Time to fulfill her destiny.

Forward she lunged.


Of course they bowed before her—they always did. They had done this for decades. It did not give her satisfaction or amusement to see them prostrate themselves so. She wore a smile like a scar and made eye contact with as few as she could, passing their craven forms through the districts of the mine, towards the Center. She saw them, she was there with them—but she was not one of them. Elwein did not linger. Onward she went, ever downward, ever deeper. Mother Elwein, now. Though she heard they had a different name for her.

Time and the mines had not been kind.

Since the skies turned white and the planet burned they had buried themselves in the deep. Long centuries had passed, great learnings lost, but still they lived on. Farming the green ooze that clung to the walls, scrabbling away under the harsh burn of the ultraviolet tubes. The males did only what they were allowed, starved and emaciated to cripple their strength, gaunt sinews over hollow bone their penance for what they'd done to the Earth. What hope there was came from the Church, from the Mothers. And always, always the rumble from the massive generator at the Center of the World.

Still Mother Elwein descended, her sparse white hair dirty with the dust of the mine.

Finally, the door. Iron and wood, impossibly thick, before her. On the other side, she knew, a challenge to be met, a torch to be passed.

She pushed the door open with a massive fist, and saw the face of her enemy.

It was much like her own.


Orrin was her daughter's name, an able fighter. Her blades flashed and danced and the sounds of battle rang out in the cavern. Each strike followed by a halo of sweat and the scrape of steel boots upon stone. She had prepared well. They circled warily, each unable to land a solid blow. Elwiein felt small pride in the way her daughter moved, so much like herself, before the mines had stripped her away. Turned her into what she now was—

Orrin moved, impossible quickness, and Elwein felt a blade at her throat. Hot breath in her ear.

"You know me, mother," Orrin hissed. "And why I am here. For you. To end this cycle. To free the mines." The knife pressure deepened. Elwein shifted her head and their eyes locked.

"I know," Elwein's scabrous voice rasped .

"I will not be like you. I will not become you."

"I know."

Her daughter's eyes shifted slightly. "They call you Nov'goth now. The miners. Just like before."

"I know."

"I can't forgive you. What you've done. To my father, to so many—I...I have my own destiny."

"I know."

Elwein let her body relax. It was her time.


Her face a blank mask, Nov'goth descended into the deep. Radiation alarms sang their singsong lullaby as the primitive tunnels gave way to even rougher passages and iron ladders reaching downward. There were no miners here to prostrate themselves, not in these toxic depths. For she was approaching the Center of the World, home of the great generator that powered the mines, powered all the fragile and frayed remnants of a once great civilization.

Arterial conduits blossomed from the massive steel heart before her. There was knowledge passed down through the Church: diagrams, plans. Nov'goth closed her bulbous eyes and pictured them.

That one — there. That was the cooling lifeblood to the reactor. Cut that, and it would all be cut. The mines would go dark, and with it the emaciated males, drying on their chains, the bullshit government, the miners with their crusted gray faces and dead eyes, the endless cycles of life and death and false hope, the end of this makeshift world that had become their prison, their death delayed.

But no longer. The cycle would end. The hard part already been done. This cut would be much easier than the last. She closed her eyes and thought of her mother, but she could not picture her anymore.

There were no mirrors in the mines.

She drew her blades, the sound impossibly loud within the confines of the cavern.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Colorado Gothic. Heading back into the mines for this one.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Coal Fire

1498 Words
Louisville, Colorado Gothic

"Coal killed a lot of men, you know.. Crushed 'em. Suffocated 'em. Burned 'em. But coal wasn't the worst danger in those mines. Not by a long shot."

The old man leaned away from me, crooked elbow on the bartop, and took a long, slow swig of his beer. The drooped ends of his mustache emerged coated in pale foam. He regarded me.

"I knew your grandaddy, you know."

Seeing as how I had just met this fellow and we hadn't even exchanged names this gave me a moment's pause.

'Is that right?" I asked. I tried to keep the surprise out of my voice. The fact I was on my third beer didn't help.

"Nathaniel Porter was a legend 'round these parts." He looked at me closely. "I'd even say you have his mouth. The same lines. Hard lines, but not ugly." He licked the dying foam from his mustache. "Eyes are the wrong color though."

I didn't know what to say to that, so I took a long pull on my beer. I was pretty sure I wanted nothing to do with this old man. I just wanted to get some drinks in me and head back to my motel. Nothing complicated. This guy looked complicated.

"Yeah, he was a company man through and through," the old-timer continued. "poo poo, I think he even manned the machine gun they used on the company town back during the—the troubles."

I did my best to look nonplussed. But his slate eyes locked onto mine and refused to yield.

"I don't know much about him, he died before I was born," I offered. I took another long draw off my diminishing beer. "But I've heard stories." I broke eye contact and tried to wave over the bartender, but she was busy with a loud group of women at the far end of the bar.

The old man slapped his beer down on the bar and stood upright. "But I'm being rude!" he exclaimed. "I haven't introduced myself. Name's Harlan. Harlan Lennox." He stuck out a gray liver spotted hand towards me.

"I'm Oliver. I mean, Oliver Porter," I said, taking his spindly hand in mine. I was afraid I might crush it, or catch something, so I gave his hand a delicate squeeze. But his grip was strong and my knuckles sheared painfully together.

"Pleased to meet you Oliver, " he said. "Like your grandpa, I was always a good company man. Those were tough years. But it was good to know the company always had our backs. Checks on Tuesdays, a bed to sleep in, plenty of drinks and even women if you saved up enough cash."

I finally caught the bartender's eye and she sauntered over.

"Not as good as the gold miners up the mountains, see..." he continued. His voice faded into the background as I ordered another beer.

I'd chosen this bar because it was walking distance and looked authentic. And now here was stuck with this guy -- a little too authentic. I didn't need this. Just needed to bury my dad and get back to regular life. Two more days and it'd be done and I'd be gone.

Not sure how it happened but two hours later this old guy — what was his name again? — and I were sitting in a darkened booth in the back of the tavern. By then I had a great buzz going and the gentle roar of the bar had faded away under the spell of this geezer feeding me a never-ending supply of stories about the old times. And whiskeys. Lots of whiskeys. Between the booze and his steady voice the time was melting away.

"You know all the taverns in this town used to be connected by underground tunnels," he was saying. "Back in prohibition the miners dug 'em so they could move between bars without the bosses or the police noticing."

I mustered a half-hearted grunt.

"They're still there. Never got filled back in or anything."

Well, three whiskeys later I was following this guy through the back of the tavern into a closet where a loose floorboard led to a rusted iron ladder. Cobwebs grabbed my face and arms as we climbed down. We dropped into a long, slightly sloping mineshaft just large enough to fit a man if he bent over a bit and didn't stretch out his arms. Which we didn't as we started heading downward.

He disappeared around a bend ahead, his ragged gait strangely effective in the cramped confines of the tunnel. I pulled out a lighter and held it in front of me as we descended.

I say "we" like it was both of us, but really it was me chasing his phantom figure ever downward through the twisting passages. The air was thin and my breathing became rough. My head buzzed from the whiskeys and the exertion but still I pushed on. The old guy had promised he had something to show me, a proposition that had sounded far more reasonable up in the bar. But here I was. The lighter in my hand was starting to burn so I let it die. A faint light came from the tunnel ahead — maybe we were close. I hadn't seen the old man for a couple of minutes but I could always hear the echo of his scrabbling movements. But not now. Now it was silent as a tomb.

Around a blind corner and I almost walked right into a metal door standing slightly ajar. It had a small, smoky glass window cut into the center which glowed faintly. The door was thick and the handle warm to my touch. A couple of heavy pulls and it scraped open wide enough to fit myself through. Not sure how the old man had made it through so easily.

There was a small bar table with two wooden chairs and some piles of sooty rags scattered about. The old man sat in one chair looking right at me, his face blank. The most amazing sight, however, was in the walls of the room.

They were glowing. Veins of fire ran through them, criss-crossing fingers of orange flame running from floor to ceiling. They glowered and glimmered, casting a glow over the room from all sides. It was as if this room had been carved from the middle of a giant ember.

I could feel the heat on my face, my arms. My shirt and pants burned against my skin and I drew in a short breath.

"Coal fire," the old man said. His voice buzzed in my ears. "Been burning down here for over forty years. Since well before they shut down these mines."

The old man motioned me to sit. It was hard to breath and my legs were rubber so I did. He stood and moved across the room.

"Just enough oxygen down here to keep it smoldering. I've seen these things burn for a long time, hundreds of years," he said. He looked faded now, like old wallpaper, thinner somehow. He rummaged under a pile of cloth for something and returned to the table. He set his prize down, a metal ring, smudged with soot.

The old man didn't sit. He stood there, regarding me, his face reflecting the glow of the cavern. Menacing.

"Your granddaddy's," he said, motioning to the ring. His voice came from a great distance. "A reward from the company. For his honorable service." His gray face twisting as he spat out the words. "For the killings he did."

"I—what? Killing?"

"During the strike. Oh, he killed all right. Murdered. Sealed up the mine the day after we went back. Thirty-two men. Good men. Just trying to earn a living digging coal. We shouted until our voices were gone but nobody ever came."

He motioned to the ring. "He must have done a good job selling the 'accident' to earn that. He became quite the hero with his tales of attempted rescue, how he'd spent hours and days without sleep removing rocks by hand to try to reach us. Far, far from where we actually were, of course. Became quite popular with the ladies in the town. Such a hero."

I couldn't talk, couldn't breath. A weight pressed on my chest. The old man flickered in the heat like a mirage. He hobbled over to the pile of rags and pulled them back, revealing a pile of dusty bones underneath. "Yeah your grandfather was a hero all right," he said. "But still it didn't take too many whiskeys to get him back down here into the mine ten years later. Not like your father." He walked over and kicked at another pile of rags. A soot covered hand flopped out from underneath.

I felt a scream take root inside me.

"Now you, on the other hand. It didn't very many at all."

The door closed. The old man was gone.

And the coal fire burned.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

In as employee, and I'll :toxx: for the bonus words

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Russell Saves Voidmart
1999 words
My name is Russell Rabin, and I single-handedly saved Voidmart. I've never gotten any credit, but believe me. It happened.

So it starts with this new kid working in the Box Department named Enos. Or maybe he's been here the whole time? It's hard to tell. I know that sounds strange—or maybe not because this is Voidmart we're talking about.

First of all he takes the box flats and folds them into these crazy n-dimensional shapes. They start as regular flats—I fold them all time for the customers. Only mine always come out like, well, regular looking boxes. Different sizes, and some have lids and others don't, but they're pretty much just that. Boxes. He takes the same flats, and starts folding just like I do, but things get weird quick. The box, when he's done, has a shape that I can't really wrap my head around. It's sort of there and not-there. Like I know it's a box and I should be able to see it, but I still can't. N-dimensional. Parts of it missing, but never the same parts. Makes my brain ache thinking about it.

Here's the kicker: this Enos kid is the same way. There and not-there, you know? He's quiet, doesn't bother anyone. A real serial killer type. I don't know if he was just hired, or if he was always here, he just kind of is. But also isn't. He seems real enough. But not always.

Funny thing is that a couple of the bosses are always down here talking to this kid. They've got a real hard on for him. Up and down the stairs all day long, these bosses go straight to his desk and give him packages like he's a loving UPS. What he does with them I don't know. But I'll bet you my next paycheck it has something to do with those weird boxes he makes.

So I'm thinking about all this one day—it's been pretty slow customer-wise—so I decide maybe I'll snoop around a bit and see what I can discover. It'll be tricky. Enos is hard to keep track of, considering the fact he's not entirely present to begin with. And I can't get busted. Voidmart's my life. I can't think about would happen if I lost this job and got kicked Outside.

Anyways, up walks this old lady loaded with Voidmart bags containing boxes. I can tell right away she's nuts. She lays the boxes on the counter and opens them, and there's even more boxes inside them, and more inside of them, and so on. She spouts off about how all these boxes she bought aren't going to work because they're only for physical objects — no, she wants to box up her memories, her dreams, her fears, stuff like that. I guess they're keeping her up at night. So I say to her "Hold on, I know just the guy" and page Enos over the intercom. Now this lady is a real piece of work and she's going to take a long time so I figure this is my opportunity.

As soon as Enos starts dealing with this lady I head into the back room and go straight for his locker. I pop it open (no locks here at Voidmart!) — and get to work. So I'm moving pretty quick, going through the shelves, looking under papers and stuff. He's got books with titles like Hypercubes 101, Tesseracts in Action!, and A Practical URspace Reader. Nothing interesting. But at the bottom I do find something. It's a thick book with a keyhole right in the center of the cover titled Voidmart Operations Manual. Now this is interesting. I know this book, of course—practically memorized it, to be honest. Got one in my locker. Something you get when you become a Keyholder. But Enos was no Keyholder, so why would he have one?

Just to make sure it's the same book as mine I pull out my keys and slip the key into the lock. Sure enough, it turns with a little snick and I open the cover. And guess what I find? It's not a book at all. It's one of those false books with the inside cut out where you can stash stuff. A secret box.

And it's filled with Nulcash.

In case you've been living under a rock, Nulgreens is Voidmart's main competitor. Even mentioning "Nulgreens" here is asking for a long, unpleasant visit with the bosses upstairs. Just like our Voidbux, Nulcash is the official money that the Nulgreens employees get paid in, usable only inside the store. And there's only one way to get Nulcash: you've got to be a Nulgreens employee.

Now of course this sets off all kinds of alarm bells inside my head. Why would Enos be stashing enemy currency inside his locker? I start hearing footsteps so I close the book and toss it back into the locker. I duck behind a stack of boxes when around the corner comes Enos. And he's not alone.

One of the bosses is with him.

She's one of the ones I mentioned earlier, who I keep seeing delivering packages to Enos. Really ugly. Skin a pale greenish cast, eyes all buggy like they're ready to pop out of her head. I peek between two boxes and can see that she's got another one of those packages in her mitts.

"Excellent, young man," she hisses. "You've done so very well. Our work is almost complete. Once you send this final package we can escape this hellhole."

"Fantastic," Enos says. "Although I might miss this place a bit. It's been very...lucrative."

She snorts. "I can't wait for this to be over. We need to get out of this dump before it poisons us. Look at this horrible rash I've gotten."

At first I think she's talking about the Box Department and I'm little pissed. But then I realize she's talking about Voidmart itself and I feel a rage deep in my core.

Nobody talks about Voidmart like that.

Enos goes to his locker and puts the package inside. "I'll send this one through a wormhole as soon as possible," he says. "I've got to finish up with this lady first."

"Fine. Just don't delay," the boss says in a raspy wheeze, and their footsteps recede as they head back to the sales floor.

My head is swimming. Spies? In the Box Department? All my Voidmart training screams REPORT THIS IMMEDIATELY. But to who? Bosses are involved — who can I trust? Can I trust anyone?

I head back to Enos' locker. Open it up and pull out this package. It's an unlabeled manila folder stuffed with papers. Untwist the string and I pull out the first few sheets. Each one has a big red "TOP SECRET" stamp across the top. Some look like maps, or blueprints, while others are copies of corporate memos describing Voidmart security procedures, door lock combinations, instructions for powering down the Furnace, et cetera.

Exactly the sort of intel someone might want if they're planning a takeover of Voidmart.

It all made sense. Somehow those boxes Enos makes were like wormholes. He puts the stolen documents in one side of the box and on the other side someone far away pulls them out. And I had a strong suspicion who and where that was.

Nulgreens. Those bastards.

That rage I mentioned earlier? Double it. An attack on Voidmart is an attack on me and everything I stand for. I knew I couldn't trust anyone but myself. I needed to save Voidmart. Save my home.

Luckily the rest of that day is pretty quiet which gives me time to mentally prepare. Enos is back at his workstation, casually folding another one of those n-dimensional boxes. No doubt to send that final package to his Nulgreens overlords. He takes the box and disappears into the back room. That's my cue.

I yank hard on the fire alarm and the Box Department plunges into a cacaphony of flashing lights and alarm bells. Through the chaos the calm, commanding tones of the Voice cuts through. "There has been a fire emergency reported. Please move to the nearest emergency exit. There has been a fire emergency...."

Enos follows the masses out of the Box Department. I linger behind, and when the coast is clear I sneak into the back room. The box is sitting on the workbench. It's shape warps my brain and can't say for sure where or what it really is. But I have to trust myself.

I take deep breath and put my hands on the box. It shifts and shimmers, hypercubes and tesseracts blooming and disappearing beneath my hands. I close my eyes, which helps a little. Feeling the surface of the box I find a hinge, pull it open and jam my head inside.

And open my eyes.

The disorientation is so intense I instantly regret it. The ur-space spins and twists around me and I want to puke. Focus. Not easy to do when you've got a three-dimensional brain in an n-dimensional space. But eventually things start to coalesce and make some sense. I can cross my eyes and squint and my location sort of swims in and out.

I'm in a small office. The walls are covered with maps, blueprints, photos of Voidmart execs, scribbled numbers and notes on scraps of paper thumbtacked on top of each other. Lines of red marker criss-cross the walls of the room, making a maze of connections between all the stolen intel. It obvious what I'm seeing: a war room. Invasion planning. I see the blank manila folder sitting on the desk — Enos' final package. The office door opens and a man walks in wearing the ugly, ill-fitting powder blue uniform of a Nulgreens executive. He looks up and his eyes lock on mine. I'm not sure if he can even see me but I pull my head back instinctively. I blink, back in the real world. The box shimmers before me.

Now I'm no expert in hyperdimensional physics or anything, but what I saw was clear. The war room, and all the intel within it, were inside the box. So if I want to get rid of it all and save Voidmart, the solution was simple.

Destroy the box.

By now the fire alarms have shut off and I can hear people coming back into the Box Department. I have to act fast so I grab the box and I run.

Straight around a corner and into Enos. When he sees what I'm carrying his eyes go wide and his mouth opens.

"Traitor!" I shout because it's the only thing I can think to say. I'm too focused on keeping a grip on the box. It's twisting, shifting shapes in my arms, sliding in and out of reality. I'm running as hard as I can towards the center of the store. Enos is running after me but he doesn't know the store like I do. Voidmart is my home, my life, my everything. He won't catch me.

I dodge through aisles not found on any blueprints. I duck through departments that are only rumors. And I make it to the center of the store, prize in hand. I rip the cover off the Drain. A howling, sucking sound comes from beneath the floor. The Drain is hungry and eager to feed.

I look up and lock eyes with Enos. He is flickering, present and not-present. .He dives towards me.

"Nulgreens delende est," I whisper as I step aside and let the box slip from my hands.

Enos gets one hand on the box but that's it. The drain pulls them both down into a gaping maw. There's a brief change in pitch, then the howling continues as before.

The Drain has been fed.

I stand up, dust off my slacks, and adjust my name tag.

Time to get back to work in the Box Department.

*edited just to add the title

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 05:15 on Oct 24, 2016

May 3, 2003

College Slice

I would love a critique. I'll try to give a couple when I get a chance.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Have a crit

Moxie - The Secret Edge

I like the upbeat tone. It's silly and the idea of the guy naming and having relationships with his knives isn't bad per se. Execution needs a lot of work. The paragraph with Sinbad and Julius was awkward and left me wondering that the hell was going on. What was Julius' joke? That he'd reflected the old woman's hair? Odd and jarring.

The dialogue between Jeff and Martha is seriously bad. Take out all the descriptors and just listen to the words:


"Hey Jeff," / "What's up?" / "Uh, you want anything to eat? I'm headed over to Prepared Foods for some takeout." / "No thanks! My lunch isn't til 3." / "It's past three." / "Oh...I guess I'll have whatever you're having." / "I'll get you something you like."
How are we advancing the plot here or saying anything the reader should care about? It's just filler. I guess you're trying to introduce the later love interest but man that was a boring conversation. All the blocking and description made it even more plodding. Maybe have them say something interesting?

So the blade somehow psychically tells him that Martha likes him? The rest gets very confusing. Here's an example of what I mean:


I could still see the brilliant afterimage of its secret. He had sliced my ocular nerve from three yards away! I hoped it was permanent. I jumped again as a tiny voice said my name from the artery.
What? Who is he, the knife? Why do you hope you're permanently blinded? Is this a metaphor? Why is Martha's voice described as "tiny?" and why does it come out of nowhere at the end of this paragraph? I hope it made more sense in your head than it does on paper.

Also agreed with earlier crit that he should get the knives at the end. Otherwise what's the point? The knife gave him the "secret" so he could meet his quota - there's no payoff otherwise.

Not the worst idea for a story, has some potential. But the trite dialogue, confusing internal monologue, and clunky prose detracts from the story. I'd suggest a rewrite from the point of view of the Atomic Knife. At least that character had some motivation and agency.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

SkaAndScreenplays posted:


Was looking forward to this entry. Did not disappoint. A little proofreading needed, but legit laughed at a few spots and it kicked rear end.

May 3, 2003

College Slice


May 3, 2003

College Slice

Echoes over the Water

246 words

Decaying leaves and bird dung scent the air. Your son sits in the front, gun on his lap. Thin, like the reedy willows that surround the boat.

"How much longer?" he asks.

You say nothing. The willows bend and crack before the bow of the boat. Insects vibrate the air.

Soon the reeds clear and before you is open water. Birds tumble over the lake, their calls echoing and redoubling as they dance and spin. You raise your gun.

"Dad. Wait."

He looks at you. Frail, his skin drawn tight. Five rounds of chemo, but it wasn't enough. Just like before.

"Not this time," he says.

You shift your weight and the boat sways. He puts a hand on the gunwale, unsteady. Eyes wide.

You want to tell him everything will be all right. That this won't be the last trip. Tomorrow will be better. That you love him. But your chest is tight. You can't breathe.

"Look at them, Dad. They don't deserve this."

The birds are beautiful and alive. And he's right. None of us do.

"Let's just watch them," he says. "This time."

He turns to watch the birds.

Memories of your father — you as a child, the same boat, the same lake. Then later, his body a twisted scar on white linens, his mind torn by cancer and morphine.

You close your eyes. The trigger feels cold in the dawn air.

Nobody deserves this.

A shot echoes over the lake. Then another.




Edited because I screwed up imgur for my proof

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 04:38 on Oct 31, 2016

May 3, 2003

College Slice


May 3, 2003

College Slice

Here's some short critiques on some short stories.

SurreptitiousMuffin - Under the sun

Nice imagery, and I really loved the idea of the two cultures both believing that birds ferry the souls of the dead. It had some well crafted prose but I wish you'd done more with this idea. Obviously with the low word count it's going to be a snapshot but I still think there could have been more done in terms of plot and development.

J.A.B.C. - War on the Wings

The writing is fine and it grabbed my attention right off the bat.. But I guess I don't really understand the motivation of the main character — why does he choose to stay, other than "drama"? It sounds like there's no birds left to protect, although it's kind of ambiguous if there are other animals there or not. There's a lot of shouting and emotion, but it's dulled by all the extra words you use that could easily be cut out.

Jitzu_the_Monk - Doping

It took me a few reads to unpack this one, and a quick googling of what vinkensport is. So overall the story is fine, the father's drug use and the girl's lack of eating as how they deal with the mother's death is an interesting reveal at the end. I felt like I had to work too hard to get that payoff though, obscured as it was through the details of the bird competition and blood test.

a friendly penguin - Passenger Pigeons

Started well, the migration metaphor was sort of interesting. But it never really went anywhere, then the jarring jump to the car accident scene threw me off completely. I guess the idea you were getting across was the pointlessness of our daily routines, but then the random pigeon and car accident and nothing really tied together.

ZeBourgeoisie - Something Innate

I liked this one. The boy's little micro-journey through parenting the baby bird was tidy and well executed. I just wanted one more line at the end where maybe he shows some empathy with his father, or in some other way ties together these two relationships. The last line isn't strong enough to make that happen, which I think was your goal.

Mercedes - The Ineffable Mr. Bancroft

I liked the tone and story was fine. It did have some overly long sentences that would be punchier if you'd broken them up. The characters were cutouts, even Mr. Bancroft. Give me a reason to care about them.

anime was right - From Loaf to Crumbs

A tough one to decipher. The prose is fine. My guess is that Richard gets some kind of brain damage in an accident involving Johanna and Pat and then he gets stuck in an endless routine feeding the ducks. Whatever the actually story is, it's very obtuse so open to a lot of interpretation.

Hammer Bro. - The Feast

Funny and well written, even if it broke the fanfic rule. Equal parts horrifying and hilarious, the gradual reveal perfectly executed.

Fleta McGurn - Kotjebi

Another somewhat obtuse entry. On first read I thought they were vagrant children, but the swallow imagery is clever and woven nicely throughout, so I wasn't entirely sure. The ambiguity and the clear division between the 'swallows' and the foreign teacher and her friends is powerful. A really good entry.

widespread - Squawk at Night

I don't really get the point of this one. Out of nowhere the bird she rescued speaks to her, why? The backstory about the bird rescue is irrelevant and doesn't address the main idea of the story (the bird talking). Instead the most important element of the story seems tacked onto the end without much thought or explanation. You should try varying your sentence length more. Way too many of them have the same structure: clause comma clause. Clause comma clause. The entire third paragraph is written this way.

The Cut of Your Jib - Pin Feathers

I liked everything about this one. Great imagery in the opening paragraph. I'm a sucker for those melancholy 'lost dreams of childhood' pieces and it's done well.

Crab Destroyer - Cuckoo

There's nary a bird or avian metaphor in sight other than the title, so not sure how this fits the prompt. Carl is immensely unlikeable and tragically he is really the only character in the story. The writing is relatively straightforward and lacking any depth., like a newspaper account of events. Could perhaps be improved by a first person perspective.

Ironic Twist - Oh

First half was great, the opening line cleverly reveals the motive and the menacing intent of this not so chance encounter. The second part slogged, however, and I had to go back and re-read it several times to attempt to understand. There's some odd imagery ("...groups of five unrelated circles, black holes eating each other" and "...the capital letter clawed out from the guts of the alphabet") that popped out of nowhere and didn't seem to fit with the narrative. Final line is strong but seems isolated from the rest of the piece.

Some Strange Flea - Legion

Your prose is too thick with adverbs and adjectives, cut them out and replace with stronger verbs and nouns. The concept of the man with bird vision is pretty cool, but nothing is really done with it except 'here come the birds to claim their price' which doesn't really give it much plot. In the end it's just old man being attacked by birds.

flerp - Twittering Machines

The mechanical birds are very well described and I enjoyed the pacing and prose in this one. "Playstation controllers dangle from their claws" I found jarring, I think because of the brand name. And the last line was unsatisfying. It seemed overly specific about where the birds were going to crash, didn't seem necessary. Overall really cool imagery and I enjoyed it.

Sitting Here - Deep Sky

Beautifully written, my favorite by far. You so perfectly describe the inverted perspective of your sea-crow. As it watches the human sink (or rise) to the hydrothermal vent its silent observation is moving and quite mystical. Very vivid and well executed.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Under the Maelstrom
749 words.

Back in those days we survived thanks to our symbionts, because we didn't have any blood. You wouldn't understand, liquid-filled as you are. Perhaps you are horrified by how we lived, and I'm not saying it was ideal — sometimes they would pick the most inopportune times to emerge. I'd lean in to my beautiful Llamaria, her red lips ever so slightly parted in invitation, and they would spill from my mouth, wings beating and mandibles cracking, to sip the cool carboniferous air, and the moment would be lost.

But we needed them, and they needed us.

Llamaria and I shared a simple home, no television or electricity, but always clean and warm. We were young, bright-eyed, and together. Our companions came and went between us without a care, scurrying and fluttering over and inside us, as our bodies intertwined and we danced and sang and made love. We had everything then, in that time of innocence. We had peace, bright conversation, and swirling music. Our symbionts delivered nutrients and shepherded waste from our bodies. But most of all we had each other.

The day everything changed we were out for a walk. Ferns reached out and tickled us as we passed. A one-winged bird landed on my shoulder, pecking furiously at the insects that travere my parchment skin. They would not be missed, for I had a belly full of larvae, pupae forever rising in my throat. I saw your grimace there. But it was just how we lived back then — we had no blood.

The sun and moon pranced across the sky as we walked. Snakes sang to us from the trees and scaly birds scurried from our footsteps.

The sky darkened.

"Look out!" Llamaria said, her voice butterflies — for those were her symbionts, forever chasing around her in swirling clouds of color and light — and I looked up and saw the moon now danced alone. The sun was gone, blotted out by a blackened mass falling towards us.

I grabbed her hand and together we ran, an explosion of butterflies and winged beetles in our wake. We burst from the fern-forest onto a wide beach before a dark ocean.

"To the water!" a chorus of clams sang from the shallows. "Before it's too late!"

A flash, and the sky birthed white streaks that split the clouds and ignited the thicket behind us.

I pulled my bride towards the ocean. "Come my love! It's the only way!"

She fought me, protesting. Scabrous appendages dug deep into my skin, mouth, eyes. Butterflies battered me with their gentle fury. I stumbled.

"We can't," Llamara cried. "They'll die."

The beach shook and the sky roared. She was right. We would have to leave them behind.

You can't imagine the pain of this choice, I am sure. To you it would be obvious: take shelter in the ocean, seek protection in the waves. Leave behind the chattering swarm. But I was not of the ocean like you are. Could you live without your blood? Would you dare to make that choice?

Her hand ripped away. Blinded, I fell towards the water. The undertow grabbed my ankle and I plunged into the deep. The jabbering mass screamed as they were torn away from me. Brine filled my mouth, my throat, and doused the maggot rabble at my core.

I tried to call to my love, my Llamaria, but without my beetles I could form no sound. The salt sea choked me, filled me until I thought I would surely burst. I was ponderous, heavy, burdened by a new density. I sank into the blackness.

The chattering and rustling and clicking that had been my life's chorus was gone. But not totally silent — new sounds, the heavy thrum of aquatic beasts calling to their loved ones, the murmur of the tides and the roar of distant currents. It was new and wonderful.

Mouth wide open, the water filled me. It expanded, filling the vessels and tributaries of my body, bringing sustenance to parched tissue. I became one with the sea and this new lifeblood. For the first time I was alone, divided from my symbionts. But I was full.

I had to tell her! I pushed upwards, my new strength easily dividing the water. I crested the roiling surface, the beach before me, but Llamaria was gone. In her place a lone butterfly sat on a rock, drying its wings under a maelstrom sky. Alone.

And for the first time, I wept.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

In with a flash rule please.

May 3, 2003

College Slice


May 3, 2003

College Slice

Oops I thought it was midnight PST - I'll take my DQ and post anyways.

Prompt: Flying with the turkeys

Flying with the Turkeys
1460 words.

I've got time up here in the shack so I thought I'd pass some of it writing.

You probably know what I'm up to. I ain't bragging or nothing, but you're drat sure there's nobody makes shine as good as me. You know how good it is. City water don't make whiskey worth a poo poo, all those drat chemicals. So I gotta get up into the mountains and find a little stream, set up here.

JB's with me, we got the wash barrel started today. Hauling those bags of corn and sugar make my drat knees hurt. And I'm always looking out for those feds. Fuckers been following me but I don't reckon they know where we're at this time.

Darling, there's so much I wanna say about what happened, but it's getting dark now.

Built the furnace. Real hard work, took all day to get it packed into the hill. Otherwise JB and I been playing cards while we wait for the wash to work through. Hotter than hell up here so it shouldn't take no time.

Saw some turkeys out when I was gathering wood. Fixing to take my gun out tomorrow and see if I can pop one. Bet they'll taste fine with some drop biscuits. Can't live on beans and jerky alone while I'm up here. The work's too hard for that poo poo.

Hope you're keeping well. I know when I last saw you I was drunker than hell and meaner than hell too. You know I care about you darling, and I'm sorry for what I've done.

Wouldn't you know a turkey was walking right through camp first light so I grabbed my gun and that was that. JB wanted to go to town and pick up some fixings but I said naw let's just spit it and eat it. We cleaned it and tossed it on the fire tonight. Got the whiskey and JB got his banjo going. You know that boy can't play for poo poo but the hill music got into me and I danced like an all round fool.

Made me think of you, and us. I do miss you darling. How we were.

Then I heard some trucks down on the road so we shushed up quick. Don't need the attention.

We tucked in and I started thinking. About JB. Why did he want to go to town? The boy's been acting funny. Hard to say why but it's got my hackles up. I'll keep a close eye. Could be working with the feds.

Still waiting on the wash. Shouldn't be more than a day or two now.

This waiting can be a bitch but when I'm writing I do feel like I am talking right to you. Passes the time. It takes me a long time to find the words and get them on the paper. You know I never did much writing. I wish you could write me back, but I know you can't.

Been itchy lately. Not my skin but in my head. Thoughts are always buzzing around, about the feds, about getting caught. I can't do another trip upstate. You know I can't. Then I hear JB talking when he was out taking a piss. Who talks when they're pissing? He's hiding something, darling. I know it.

Don't know why I keep doing this. But I do love my shine. Guess its in my blood.

Wash is starting to clear so we can start running the still tomorrow I reckon.

JB was splitting wood all morning and it gave me a loving headache. So I yelled at him and we got into a real serious row. Now I'm not too spry or smart and you know how my joints are. So when he came toward me what choice did I have? I grabbed my gun and he took off and that was that. Fella plain up and split, spitting and cursing at me the whole while. So it's just me now. And now I gotta run this drat still by myself.

Gonna give the wash one more day to work. Gotta a feeling this might be my last run. Want to make it real good.

Woke up and it's raining like poo poo. No matter, gotta load up the wood and get her running. Barrel this big is gonna take two or three days, maybe longer now I'm all alone up here. Well, me and the turkeys. Keep seeing them all around camp. I'll keep my gun nearby in case any of 'em get close enough. Even an old bootlegger like me gets sick of beans and jerky after a time.

At least the rain will hide the smoke so those drat feds don't find me.

Took most of the day but she's a running fine now, thumping away. Gotta run slow. Run your whiskey hot it makes it meaner than hell. Burn your throat out. Collecting early runnings now. Can't drink too much of that poo poo. Papa used to call it 'block and tackle' whiskey 'cause it'd make a man walk a block and wanna tackle the first fellow he sees.

Darling, being alone here is hard. I've gotta swap jars, keep the fire right, keep an eye out for leaks and paste 'em up. Got me running up and down this drat hill and my bones are aching that's for drat sure. It's getting late. I'm starting to get tired but I won't get any sleep tonight. Or tomorrow night even.

Dark and cold now. A little shine should warm me up. Gonna be a long night.

And it's still drat raining.

Jar 9
First light. Or maybe not, could be a searchlight. Maybe it's middle of the night and the feds are here. Not sure. Best keep my gun with me either way. Got real tired so I've been sipping for a while now. It's got me mighty fuzzy but that's okay, keeps me awake. Gotta tend the still. God drat clouds and rain, I don't know if it's morning or night. Marking time with the jars now.

Jar 12
Swear I saw JB in the woods, sneaking around. Bastard thought I didn't see him but I did. Always knew he was working with those drat feds. Gave a yell and he scooted off.

I'll use the gun next time.

Jar 14
Wish I could get some sleep. This job's too drat hard. At least I got the shine to keep company. Keep filling them jars, tasting as I go. They're getting real smooth now.

Still drat raining.

Jar 17
Nodded off there a spell. Woke up, the fire's near out and my jar's running over. Shine spilled right into the mud. This job's too hard for one person. Maybe JB will come back. Keep looking in the woods but no signs. Gotta keep going, keep running this god damned still. Its so dark and so cold up here now, even the shine can't keep me warm. Need to keep moving, stay awake.

Jar 21
Time isn't working the way it should. I feel all stretched, like I got chiggers crawling on me. Goddamn turkeys have moved into camp, they're all over the still, the barrel, the jars. I can't keep 'em away no more. The big one, he keeps asking me to come with them. I say I can't go, I gotta tend the still. Gotta keep myself warm. Gotta make my shine. Wish I could sleep but I can't. Too late for that now.

Jar 27
Darling I'm so sorry. I saw you there, in the woods. I didn't understand at first. I'm sorry I shouted. Never should done that, you know I'm missing the hell out of you since they put you in the ground. I'm sorry I yelled at you, scared you. Sorry for what I done.

Please come back.

Jar 33
Lights in the woods. Dozens of them. Voices. God drat feds found me. Gonna take all my shine. Put me upstate. I can't go, you know that darling. But they're coming for me.

Getting closer. More voices. I hear my name. The turkeys start running. And I gotta run, too. They flap their wings and now their circling me, flying, feathers and claws and mud and I grab my gun and start shooting. I'm shooting but they're too drat fast, too many of them, all around me. More shooting and then I don't have the gun no more and I'm flying with them, up, up into the trees, towards the moon.

I gotta get out. I gotta find you. Maybe they know where are.

Darling, I'm coming to be with you. And there won't be no shouting or shooting this time.

I promise.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

In. I'll take a crack at 12,000 BC.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Prompt: 12,000 BC

The Warrior and the Beast
1748 words

Kuruk raised his spear and screamed at the unrelenting sky. He cursed his dead grandmother and her dead gods, the snow that whipped him and the cold that passed through him as though he were already a ghost. He cursed his furs and oilskins, his empty quiver, and the useless charms around his neck. But most of all he cursed himself and his stupid, childish hope.

Kuruk would die here. Alone on this this ice floe, adrift. He would be swallowed by the black waves and freeze, drowned by the endless cold ocean, erased from this life and swept into the next. A rush of frigid water, lungs flooded, pressed down, down into the deep where the whales dive, into the cold abyss below this living world. That's how he would die.

But that wasn't why he cursed.


His grandmother, the shaman, had chosen him. It was a great honor to be the Warrior, the one sent to rescue Mother Sun and bring her back from the clutches of the Raven god. To take his canoe down the Great River, to climb the Great World-Tree that separates the living from the gods, and free her. Raven played his game every winter, pulling her lower and lower to the edge of the Earth, robbing his people of her warmth and light. They endured, as they always had. But this winter Raven had stolen the caribou and the foxes and the hares and nearly every other living animal from the forests as well, and now the people starved. So a Warrior was chosen, and it was him. He alone they would make the journey to the spirit world and free the Sun and the beasts once and for all. Put an end the cruelty of Raven and his long, cold winters.

He wasn't the first Warrior, but Kuruk was sure that he'd be the last.

So on the shortest day of the year — Mother Sun had barely poked her head above the horizon — he boarded his ruddy canoe and floated the Great River towards the sea. Flags and people lined the riverbanks to wave him on, chanted prayers and ululations to wish him good fortune.

Days and nights he floated, and then there were no more people, only ice, great rafts of ice clogging the river and making it nearly impassible. And then he reached the end, where the liquid water of the Great River was no more, only slushy ice and snow and he was forced to abandon the canoe completely. That he didn't yet see the Great World-Tree didn't bother him. There had been no trees at all now for many many days, just the cold gray of faded light over the endless snow pack. With no river to guide him he set out across the pack ice towards where Mother Sun rose each day, briefly, for surely in that direction would lie the Tree.

Kuruk ran when he could. He moved quickly across across the heaving, creaking sea ice, leaping across fissures and gulleys, always in motion, staying ahead of the cold. And if the ice floes had become more precarious, more ever-shifting and spread out, it didn't slow him down either. For he was the Warrior, and he had his destiny.

When at last his muscles could propel him no more, he laid down on his furs and closed his eyes. A short rest, and when Mother Sun reappeared he would begin anew. But he'd slept long, too long, and when he awoke the currents of the great ocean had taken him. Now he was adrift, alone. A prisoner on a frozen raft .

And so he cursed. He cursed because he had failed, and in doing so failed his people. Failed his gods and failed his destiny.


Kuruk was about to dive into the inky blackness when the great beast appeared.

The storm had passed. The sky spirits were dancing in blues and greens across the northern sky and the seas blessedly calm.

He knew that to stay adrift at the mercy of the currents was a sure death. Better to die fighting, chasing a faint hope that he could swim from ice floe to ice floe and eventually to land, or at least back onto the solid pack ice. So when a distant iceberg appeared in the gray light he stripped off his furs and oilskins, walked to the edge, and prepared to dive.

But then the beast surfaced, oily black and silver skin breaking the water, its clenched fist blowhole sending a blast of hot steam into his face. The smell hit him like a punch, a pungent mix of fishiness and farts, a smell he could taste in his mouth and Kuruk stumbled backwards, feet slipping, falling flat on his back. This is how it ends, he thought, and in his mind he pictured the mighty leviathan capsizing the ice floe, pitching him right into its cavernous maw.

But that didn't happen. At least not right away. Instead the great beast slid back below the waves, gone in a heartbeat. Kuruk got his legs beneath him and stood, unsteady. He imagined the beast diving deep below the ice, then turning and swimming powerfully up from below, using its blunt head and mindless hunger to smash the ice and launch him into the air and then down into the water, into his gullet. He took a wide stance, bracing himself, spear ready. For whatever this beast had in mind Kuruk was the Warrior. And the Warrior would not go down so easily.

Long minutes passed. Kuruk shifted his weight from side to side to keep his muscles from cramping. But no explosion from below came, and when the beast surfaced again, it was slightly farther from the ice floe. It's eye regarded him calmly. Then it was gone, diving again. Kuruk relaxed his muscles. Did it even see him as prey? What do whales eat? Certainly not people.

And then it was upon him, a rush of roiling water and sound, and the beast's blunt snout burst onto the edge of the ice floe, pulling it down with its incredible weight, and the whole ice raft tipped and Kuruk was sliding down towards the beast, nothing to grab onto and no purchase to be found on the slick ice. Scrambling, desperate, he tried to slow his fall but only fell faster. Just as he was about to slam into its massive head the great whale turned to the side, easing the weight on the tilted ice, and it tipped back up, stopping his slide. And again he saw the calm ram's eye of the whale, watching him, then it slipped below the waves and all was still.

All thoughts of swimming or reaching land or the Great World-Tree and Raven's trickery evaporated, his existence distilled down to a much simpler proposition: Kill this beast, or be killed trying. So Kuruk dressed, carefully scanning the water, never setting down his spear. It was a long wait before the whale appeared again. When Kuruk finally heard the blast-breath behind him he spun, spear poised, but the whale was beyond his range so he could only watch as it slid again beneath the surface.

Time passed this way. Hour, days? Kuruk was not sure for Raven had won and the sun would never again look upon this part of the world. He piled his furs in the center of the ice raft and ate the last of his dried venison. He named the beast Abyssalar, after the devourer-god, for surely it had been sent to devour the Warrior. And just like that evil spirit, Abyssalar played tricks, ever appearing and submerging, splashing him, toying with him, driving him mad with anger. This went on for longer than he could tell.

The rage stripped him bare. Tired, hungry, thirsty, but most of all cold, Kuruk decided it was time to end this game. He crawled to the edge of the ice, facing outward, spear ready, scanning the black water. The beast would surface and he would fling his spear into its ever-watching eye and that will be the end of it. The end of it all.

But Abyssalar did not appear. Kuruk waited, still, but always shivering. A coldness at his core, the wind-horse in his soul slowing, dying. But he kept watch.

When at last the beast surfaced, not ten body lengths before him, he let fly the spear. But his frozen muscles betrayed him and the spear glanced off the creature's spongy hide and it was swallowed by the black ocean. Gone forever.

His face a mask of rage and tears, Kuruk rolled onto his back and howled at the sky. How could all the spirits have forsaken him? From up high, Mother Sun and Sister Moon, to down deep, to the very Mammoth upon who's back the world rested, they all abandoned him. He howled again with the very last of his voice, desperation and fear and anger.

And his call was answered.

A deep, booming moan shook the ice and sky. It rattled his bones and teeth, thrummed in his chest. Kuruk rolled over and there was Abyssalar, close enough to reach out and touch, right at the edge of the ice. Again, that eye watched him, so near he could count the eyelashes. What did he see in that eye? What did his own eyes show?

Another great bellowing moan, a blast of fish-breath, and the great beast slipped away beneath the waves.


When at last the land appeared Kuruk knew he had died. He was dreaming the dreams of the dead, his wind-horse galloping upwards into the spirit world. This new land was teeming with caribou, with foxes and hares and mammoth, and it was green and verdant and alive. Salmon, red and pink flashes glimmering in every stream, so thick he could walk across their backs to the other side. The smell of rich peat and the sounds of seals and walrus and every type of mammal surrounded him and he gazed around in wonder at this riot of color and life.

The currents of the black ocean and the spirit wind had brought him here, to this place where Mother Sun had returned. The Raven god had no power in this new land. The ice raft was gone, and Kuruk stood on the rocky beach in dry furs and warm oilskins.

And took his first steps into this new world.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Vikings?? By Muspel's cleansing fire I'm IN!

May 3, 2003

College Slice

"Like the love of women whose thoughts are lies
is the driving un-roughshod o'er slippery ice
of a two year old, ill-tamed and gay;
or in a wild wind steering a helmless ship,
or the lame catching reindeer in the rime-thawed fell."

1486 words

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 23:00 on Dec 31, 2016

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Thunderdome CCXXVII - It was a Dark and Stormy Night....

This week's theme is Meteorological Events! You sign up, I'll give you the weather forecast for your story. It might be a squall, heat wave, hurricane, or something more esoteric. The weather must affect your story in some important and direct way—don't just have Sally gaze out the window at some snowflakes during a quiet moment of inner monologue. The weather acts as a silent protagonist, driving the plot and the choices faced by your characters.

I will hand out flash rules upon request.

Word Limit: 1200 words

Sign-up Deadline: Friday, December 9th, 11:59:59 MST
Submission Deadline: Sunday, December 11th, 11:59:59 MST

Judges: Hawklad, newtestleper

Precious Snowflakes:
Fleta Mcgurn
Benny Profane
sparksbloom (Toxx)
Erogenous Beef (I think? I don't speak Nord)
N. Senada

Oscar Wilde posted:

“Pray don't talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me quite nervous.”

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 17:09 on Dec 8, 2016

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Frankly, I'm surprised it took you all so long to recognize my genius.

Weather Forecast: Acid Rain

Weather Forecast: Heat Wave

Weather Forecast: Tornado

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 03:06 on Dec 6, 2016

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Weather Forecast: Extreme Fog:

Weather Forecast: Avalanche

Thranguy posted:

In., and I'll take one of them flashes.

Weather Forecast::Volcanic Eruption
Flash Rule: Your story must have a happy ending.

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Weather Forecast: Blizzard

Weather Forecast: Lightning

Okua posted:

In with a flash rule.

Weather Forecast: Tornado
Your story must involve a small dog.

Erogenous Beef posted:

Ég er in, þrátt fyrir ensku þýðingunni úr trúr Íslensku. Helvitis fokking útlendingar.

Weather Forecast: Hail

N. Senada posted:

In with a flash, please.

Weather Forecast: Dust Storm
One of your characters is extremely wealthy

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Weather Forecast: Hurricane

Weather Forecast: Cold Snap

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Weather Forecast: Drought

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Weather Forecast: Thundersnow

Weather Forecast: Heavy rain

Weather Forecast: n/m judging this week

widespread posted:

You know what, in. Two weeks off feels like enough time for a break.

I guess Flash Rule me, too.

Weather Forecast: Freezing Rain
Your story is set in the future.

Weather Forecast: Firestorm

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 16:20 on Dec 8, 2016

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Also, appreciate the crits, Sitting Here!

...and is this the appropriate time to start groveling for judges?

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 17:51 on Dec 7, 2016

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Weather Forecast: Rainbows

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Weather Forecast: Aurora Borealis

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Maigius posted:

I'm in with a flash rule!

Weather Forecast: Sleet
Your story must involve some kind of a sport or sporting event.

llamaguccii posted:

In because my last final is on Saturday!

Weather Forecast: Overcast skies

Flesnolk posted:

In. Flash.

My finals are next week and I have a paper that's due Saturday so I guess this is hard mode.
Weather Forecast: Flooding
A gun is fired.

newtestleper posted:

I'll judge. Some stuff has come up that has made entering not very convenient but judging would be good.

Awesome thanks! Anyone else up for it?

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Signups closed. Write like the wind!

May 3, 2003

College Slice

crabrock posted:

You're going to get a lot of farts

That was already assured.

How about that third judge, huh?

May 3, 2003

College Slice

newtestleper send me a pm when you get a chance with your email (or however you want to communicate about judging).

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Submissions closed. See you tomorrow for JUDGING.

May 3, 2003

College Slice


Big thanks to newtestleper for helping out with the judging this week. Overall we both thought this round was a fog of mediocrity broken only by a few small rays of sunshine. And LOTS of proofreading errors. Lets work on that for next week!

Starting at the bottom, we have two DM's to hand out.
Fleta McGurn for a telly story featuring a thoroughly unlikeable protagonist and the apple-obsessed ghost of her twin/brother/lover.
Erogenous Beef for a pointless and twee children's story with terrible dialogue and a dumb ending.

We also have two HM's to award.
GenJoe for a well written story of a young woman unable to let go of the past and without direction for the future. Good prose and some good proofreading also!
Tyrannosaurus for a sweet story with solid dialogue - something that stood out in a week lacking it otherwise.

The winner this week is steeltoedsneakers! His story pulled both of the judges in with vivid imagery and great prose. Wonderful job and good luck judging this week!

Which brings us sadly to the loser, N. Senada. His clumsy retelling of the myth of Ozymandias featured trite prose, grammatical errors, and just too many words.

Thanks for all the entries and as always, eternal shame on those who failed to submit!

May 3, 2003

College Slice

Crits for week 227

GenJoe - Misgivings

Melancholy and wistful, the little vignettes of a young woman unable to let go of her past and without direction for the future are earnest and well written. I do wish we maybe had seen something of a change in Rebecca, maybe even a glimmer of hope to make her a bit more interesting, give her a bit more agency. Although I suppose that's the point of your story, that she is lacking those qualities and stuck in neutral. Overall an effective and well written piece.

Tyrannosaurus - Nobody Wants to Die Here in the Strip Club

The breezy tone sort of works for this piece, given the shallowness of the characters and the setting. But my main criticism of this story is the protag is just an inert object who just kind of passively stutters and staggers around not knowing what to say, getting pushed around by Percy, and not really impacting the plot or other characters at all. Then in the second half the story we get a shift into white privilege, which makes a better story but seems clumsy give the breezy tone established earlier. Also some proof-reading errors stood out to me. My co-judge liked this one more than I did.

Benny Profane - All That's Left

I really wanted to like this one more than I did. The concept of this family at war all shoved together in the cellar and forced to hash out their differences should make for a tense but ultimately satisfying story. But I felt like there were too many words in all the wrong places. Not enough attention was given to the central conflict, with the three of them stuck in the cellar. What led them to eventually hold hands down there? Why is this teenager following in the footsteps of his father and why would the mom tolerate it? Everyone just sort of smiles and chuckles and none of it is directly addressed. I think there's some potential in these conflicts for an engaging story. I'd run through it again and chop out the unnecessary bits and flesh out those main conflicts.

Thranguy - Hashtag

This one didn't grab me. I found both characters fairly irritating and the while the banter was somewhat amusing in parts, it wasn't enough to carry the story. Particularly grating was the list of past lovers during the robot battle. I guess the final act of surfing the lava flow was pretty metal but that was the only image that really stuck out in my mind. I was confused about the central conflict in this one, as it shifted from between the dragon and the Dragonslayer to being both of them against the Robots/Tower for no discernible reason. Then the robots just...disappeared?

steeltoedsneakers - Round White Pebbles

Vivid bleak and melancholy imagery. The writing is strong and you do an excellent job of conveying the emotion of the piece through his flashbacks and the imagery. The metaphor of the river was well done. I had a hard time picturing it at the end, however — maybe it was your use of "suspended across the riverbed" that made it sound like it was static; or at least that's how I imagined it. Not very river-like - more like a lake or murky pond. Was that intentional? And the people shuffling mindlessly and zombie-like up the riverbed towards the river definitely made me not sure if the river was a force of good or evil. So for me that made the ending even more ambiguous. Overall really liked this piece.

Jagermonster - Viento

Okay so I have to admit a little guilty pleasure at liking this one. Jake is obviously unlikeable and bigoted trash but his antics and biases were amusing. The idea of the little boy delivering the moral message at the end and Jake's response was very funny. The writing was tight and the action sequence clear and believable. Apparently I have a soft spot for the redneck stereotype because I was thoroughly entertained by Jake and how he viewed this nice family who in the end were only out to help him.

sparksbloom - Good Cheer

It's good although there' are a few proofreading errors. My only beef is that nothing really happens in the story. The mystery fog is there, the protag drives around delivering masks, we get a few little vignettes about his patients, and the sense of impending despair and doom. All delivered fairly well, and I think this would work as an introduction to a longer story, but as it stands it's a little too light on plot for my tastes.

llamaguccii - Unfinished Sketch

Started strong but it fizzled as it went along. Liked the opening scene and the paragraph at the end where you tie in the overcast sky with Javier. But some of the rest of it was a little thin and there were some misplaced commas and proofreading errors (why did he go to the airport to catch a bus?). And then just running off was weird and came out of nowhere. But not a terrible story...a solid middle of the road choice for me.

flerp - Pray for Rain

First of all the word you are looking for is "orchard," not "orchid." Different things entirely. There were a few more jarring errors, like when Sarah briefly became a man when "He handed him the pencil and grinned." I was also confused about the two scraps of paper - the original one was a drawing that he did, but the second was something she drew. I felt like they were supposed to be the same one but maybe not? But overall you did well with a tough prompt. Some very nice touches throughout and the ending was very strong.

hotsoupdinner - Cold Snap

The language feels stilted and excessive, and too melodramatic for my tastes. The story takes too long to get started. It finally gets interesting once he starts chopping up his own possessions to save the orchard. I think more could have been done with that, because the idea of the guy burning all his material possessions (that he seems so proud of) in sacrifice to save the future (ripening fruit, unborn baby) has some meat to it. I would have brought the story to that point much sooner and then examined the effect it has on him with greater depth. The last line I'm not a fan of, except as a callback to the same line near the beginning — but it's not strong enough to hang the end of the story on.

Okua - Ash

Props for doing something different with this story. It is not easy to use the POV of the wind itself. You do a decent job of getting into the mind of the wind, but after a good opener the story did not really hold my attention through the middle section. I don't really understand the motivation of the wind, it seems to be just blowing around, weirdly fixated on this dead dog,. I suppose it is trying to give the little pooch a proper funeral? You allude earlier in the story to how it's hard for the wind to change things, and now it wants change, but it's a little nebulous and unfocused regarding what this actually accomplishes. The old guy already put the dog in an urn it's not like he left it out in the woods to rot. But anyway good try with a tough prompt/flash rule combo.

Erogenous Beef - Frozen Out

Cute but vapid. Some good use of language and it was an enjoyable read. The dialogue was pretty vapid. I really didn't like the ending. Papa Winter just randomly shows up after being excommunicated? Snapchat? Why six weeks? New Zealand? So jarring. Overall you didn't attempt too much with this story so it's hard to write a super detailed crit. I did like this one a bit more than my co-judge so there's that.

N. Senada - Osmond Diaz

Not awesome, very clunky language. Like at the end: "Percy’s body gradually lost its tension as relief washed over him" is a lot of words to say "Percy relaxed." Not sure why Osmond went blind, was that the wrath of some vengeful dust god? What was his crime, other than hubris? Plus Osmond was kind of a wuss. You describe his a having "calloused hands" but he seems more like a dandy with his silk sheets, ceremonial sword, and constant bathing. I think the real Ozymandias would have put up a better fight against this unknown dust god antagonist (which also begs the question - who is this god? Why was he so angry?). The writing could use an editing pass to chop out all the extra words.

Fleta McGurn - Malus Domestica

Okay so the ghost of her twin brother/lover comes back in the form of a plaster apple tree and either saves her from the heat wave or kills her so she can be with him. I guess it's sort of interesting that they are twins and also lovers but boy do you have to tread lightly with that. I never developed any sympathy at all for Marina, she's not a like-able character, so I'm not really rooting for this relationship to work out. There was a long section of exposition in the middle that tuned me out. I also didn't get the significance of the apple tree. Why apples?

Farcaster - To Capture the Clouds

This story should have 'captured' me more than it did. It just took sooo long to get going. And then when it did they went up in the balloon and....failed. I know he saw how pretty Iceland was but that was a pretty lovely consolation prize. The writing was okay, if a little stilted and telly in spots, but my main beef was with the emptiness of the story. And you exceeded the word count, which might have been a clue that you needed to take an axe to the prose.

widespread - Hovering Away

The concept of future man crashing his hovercar in the woods and being forced to survive without all his technological trappings at first got me interested, but then that wasn't the plot after all and instead we got a jarring and irrelevant dream sequence followed by a bunch of gee-whiz techno stuff that just wasn't all that interesting and then he ends up in outer space. And so many words! I mean


Peter reached into his pocket. He pulled out a glowing prism of light that had a button in the center of it. Pressing this button, the prism revealed itself to be a smart phone. Acting fast, he dialed 9-1-1.
Read that again and see if you can't say the same thing in five words. Also, who is Peter? Where was he going? Why should I care about him?

May 3, 2003

College Slice

In and flash me please!


May 3, 2003

College Slice

I'll brawl with Mrenda. Reading 17,167 of your lovely garbage words in about three hours (while at work) and then writing brilliant, detailed, and incisive critiques (as I did) should be all the preparation I need. :toxx: me.

edit: and no worries Fleta

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 08:09 on Dec 14, 2016

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