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Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
In, employee. This is my first Thunderdome and I'm a little scared :ohdear:.


Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
Aisle L-8
Words: 1293

There are a lot of positives to working in the Costume Department. For one, you don't have to wear the normal employee uniform of t-shirt and shackles; you can sport one of the costumes on display. You have to pay for it yourself, but I've been working here so long that I own one of every costume that's ever hit the discount bin.

Tonight, as I trudge towards Aisle A-44- Hollywood Movie Monsters- I am dressed as a Sexy Spider Plant. Tiny plastic spider plants dangle from green-and-white-striped pasties, and more plants act as a combination belt and ra-ra skirt over a green thong. We only sold two of these last year and all employees were obligated to purchase the remainders, but I think it works for me. More interesting than an old t-shirt, anyways.

You cannot do a Sorting Shift with shoppers on the floor. By the time you reach the end of one of these cavernous aisles, at least a hundred people have blown by you and messed up all your neat arrangements. Sometimes they drag in things from other departments by accident- ghosts clinging mistily to shoppers' ankles and whispering "shhhh" at me, or poltergeists that zoop into the plastic vampire teeth and eventually cause some really weird injuries. Speaking of vampires, they tell me it's much more peaceful to sleep in this department- standing up, sandwiched between rubbery versions of their own faces and crappy copies of their luxurious capes. It doesn't sound too comfortable to me, but if someone's banging on your coffin and screaming "WAKE UP!" every few minutes, I could see how the relative quiet of the Costume Department might appeal. Vampires wake up with a good jab from a broom, but they get awfully huffy, and occasionally take a nibble at you. So rude.

That said, at least they're predictable. Last year, a bunch of vegetables somehow got mixed up with their mask counterparts in Aisle D-12 and rotted. We thought there had been another accidental zombie delivery, but it was kind of worse, because the forensic investigators we called got into a huge argument about whether you can call Belgian endive "just endive" and...well, the inspectors eventually came. I'll leave it at that.

I hate walking through Aisle A-44 alone. The masks and costumes range from cheap garbage to professional-quality, and while the expensive ones are spooky, the cheap ones are actually creepier. They almost look like they're screaming silently in pain- "I was built to be the perfect man! Why would I have bolts in my neck? Why would my face be made poorly-molded rubber that's covered in flammable paint? Help meeeeee."

Still, I have work to do, and I won't get done any faster if I procrastinate. I pick up my Official Sorting Stick and begin whacking a display of hanging Sexy Zombie Elsa costumes. I know nothing will pop out of there- the real Sexy Zombie Elsa works at the Hot Topic franchise three floors away and spends most of her time picking at scabs and pretending to still find Jack Sparrow culturally relevant- but if the cameras catch me skipping any costumes, I'll have to attend a retraining session, and those always leave unsightly red marks.

The hours limp by. I find an adorable real fairy in Aisle A-78 and send her back to her own department. I perform two quickie exorcisms on some plastic pumpkin masks and slap a "RECALL FOR DAMAGE" sticker on some cheesy "witch hand" gloves that had somehow been sculpted to be permanently flipping the bird. Other than that, it was weirdly quiet- except that I kept hearing footsteps. At first, I didn't think anything of it. Other employees occasionally walk by on their way to other departments, and sometimes Security sends a bot or a warlock down if there have been a lot of critters found during a Sorting, but I suddenly realized that I'd been hearing these whispery little footsteps for almost an hour. That was not normal at all.

I kept my training in mind, and pretended not to notice. I kept checking the costumes and rearranging messy shelves. Eventually, I started to notice a pattern- there was more than one set of footsteps. They'd pause just after I stopped walking, then pick up again exactly three seconds after I moved again. This remained consistent, no matter how quickly or slowly I moved.

I waited until I reached the Sexy Gardening Supply costumes. Their real counterparts were located so far away that they hadn't infiltrated our department in over a decade, and I felt reasonably certain there wouldn't be anything hiding there tonight. I pretended to be closely examining a rack of Slutty Sunflower costumes and then, after I thought I'd heard a single stray footstep, I whirled around and shrieked, "HA!"

Before me stood ten or twelve fellow employees. All of them looked weirdly alike, with long single braids on the women and the men in high-collared shirts under their VOIDMART IS A BUSINESS! ASK US TODAY! uniform tees. In fact, they were dressed and coiffed exactly like the Voidmart employees in the official framed photo of the original department team. They looked at me with mild eyes, seemingly peaceful, and said nothing.

"What the hell are you people doing?" I readied the Sorting Stick, trying to look menacing.

A man in front with a blond bowl cut stepped forward nervously, placing his hand on his heart. "We found her," he murmured, and the others behind him erupted into excited gasps and even a couple of small, restrained squeals. Everyone's eyes seemed to glitter with unshed tears of joy.

"What the--"

Bowl Cut cleared his throat. "Please, this is going to sound strange, but...I am Steve, and we are the employees of Aisle L-8."

Aisle L-8? "I've never been in there," I said. Wait, had anyone?

"Most employees haven't." He smiled, relaxing a bit. "Ever since Opening Day, we have remained in L-8, watching. Waiting. Fending off the demoniac creatures that haunt this place."

"We were afraid to leave," one woman added. "We took the full-size Barney costumes and used them to block off the aisle, and we've been hiding ever since."

"Oh, god, those Barney costumes freak me out," I told her. "That's why I always just rush past that aisle."

"That's the idea," Bowl Cut agreed. "We've only had a few invasions in the past ten years."

"But how can you live in there? What do you eat? Where do you, um...go?"

"People drop food all the time," Bowl Cut assured me, "and Golden Bean delivers when we call." He indicated his walkie-talkie. "As for the other thing...well, we use a Barney head."

Well, that answered one of the long-standing departmental mysteries: why we occasionally find poo poo-filled Barney heads.

"Why are you telling me this?" I asked.

"We see your Voidmart Spirit," Bowl Cut said, gesturing to my costume. "You are one of the true employees. Also, you're quite skilled with your weapon."

"My Sorting Stick?"

Bowl Cut nodded. "We need someone with your strength, your ferocity, and your knowledge of the outside world. Our former leader left us for Automotive Repair and Time Travel, and none of us are as good at fighting off interlopers. If you agree to join our team and protect us, we'll accept you as our leader, and help you defend Aisle L-8. You can call the Golden Bean for food and sleep on a fine pile of Barney suits, and you'll be excused from corporate training and all of the team-building exercises. It will be a good life, a hard life, but I think you will be happy with us."

It was a strange offer, but an appealing one- no more trust falls? I drew myself up proudly and straightened my spider plant cap. "Show me to the Barney suits. I'm ready to transfer."

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

sebmojo posted:

i'll do three crits, newbies preferred. pipe up if you want one.

WITNESS ME...please.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
Crit: the Beach Boys suck, but Pacific Ocean Blue is pretty good, so you're on the right track!

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

flerp posted:

heres some crits so sh can stop being sad about nobody liking the beach boys

bringmyfishback who i think is now Fleta Mcgurn


Actually, because I didn't realize 1300 words was the limit, I thought it was the minimum and then after writing like 2500 words went "fuckkkkk."

other than that, very helpful crit, thanks. Made me laugh and feel bad about myself at the same time, which captures the SA essence well.

ETA: Might as well ask here- Is it always a HARD word limit, or can we go over by a couple hundred words? Just for future reference.

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 02:17 on Oct 26, 2016

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

Djeser posted:

The word limit is the number of words you should not exceed. If you go over the word limit, the judge is free to disqualify you. A couple hundred words is pretty significant when you're dealing with flash fiction length stories.

Gotcha, thank you.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
I'm in China, so maybe my calendar is wonky, but isn't Monday the 31st, not Sunday?

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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In. I hate birds! :smith:

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
250 words

Edited to remove published material.

Proof of submission:

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 15:16 on Nov 20, 2016

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
Who is Jay G. Jay and why do we have to F him?

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

Sitting Here posted:

i dunno, why don't you ask your mom :owned:

I would, but her mouth is full of your mom's dick.

....I might not be good at comebacks.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

Sitting Here posted:

Interprompt: A better comeback. 50 words.

Sitting Here- With a Cock In My Mouth
50 words

"ohmagrfdishkakshamashing," mumbled the elderly Egyptian lady as she knob-slobbered Sitting Here's mom's enormous meat doorhanger.

Just kidding, it was really small. So small that no comeback needed to be made. The tiny, sad dick spoke for itself, and it said "Sitting Here is adopted and Fleta Mcgurn rules."

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

newtestleper posted:

Thunderdome CCXXI Judgement.

Kotjebi by Fleta Mcgurn was a great second entry to the dome. This story made all the judges feel a thing, and was in very close contention for the win.

:aaa: thank you!

Sitting Here posted:

my mom's dick could beat your mom's dick up



Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 14:31 on Oct 31, 2016

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
IN IN IN although I know I'm gonna err on the side of being too self-consciously wacky. But whatever.

How many Surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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I'm sorry, Miss Thunderdome. I am for real. In.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
Peanut Milk
1296 words

I saw you on the peanut milk yesterday. Peanut milk! I couldn’t believe it! It was the kind with the purple lid, the good kind. I was sitting at lunch with my coworker and there you were, peeking at me from behind the giant soup tureen.

“I know that girl,” I told my coworker.

He lit a cigarette. “So loving what?”

“What’d he say?” my boss called from the other side of the table.

“The new guy says he knows the girl on the peanut milk bottle,” said the man on my right.

My boss waved his hands. “Models are all whores,” he said in a disapproving tone. “If you know her, you must have paid for her.” Everyone else roared with laughter, and I grinned, too, like a sheepish younger brother. They went back to talking, and I went back to being silent, as usual.

I wonder if you remember me?

Your classroom was next to mine, but we never talked. Our class had some kind of rivalry with the kids on the opposite side, so we were always shouting and fighting with them, and ignoring your class. You and your friends would come out of your classroom and watch us squabble sometimes. I never fought, but I would stand there and taunt people from a safe distance. My father once told me I was a coward, before he died. Would you think so? Or did you? I am, I suppose.

You always laughed. Your friends would roll their eyes or make fun of us sometimes, or just watch silently, but you always laughed. Like you knew that we were just being childish, but not in a mean way. Like you knew we’d grow out of it, and you were waiting for us to do so, so we could join you on your level.

Your eyes were so beautiful when you laughed. At least, that’s what I remember.

Did you want to be a model back then? I mostly remember you being good at science. I was always a mediocre student, and I honestly never cared, but I remember seeing your name when they posted class rank in the hall. You were always towards the top in your class. And you went to Hong Kong once, for a science competition. You didn’t win.

My boss decided he was finished and stood up to leave. I pretended to be looking around for my phone, and when the rest of them had crowded out of the restaurant, I grabbed the bottle.

I know I looked foolish carrying an empty bottle of peanut milk with me. The girl at the cash register gave me a strange look as I passed her. Luckily, our office is just across the street from that restaurant, so I didn’t have to go far. Rather than risk carrying the bottle into the office and getting mocked more, I sat on a bench next to the building and looked again.

You were wearing a pink puffy dress and a tall, pink plastic crown. You were smiling and surrounded by dancing cartoon peanuts. I never saw you smile like that when we were at school, with all your teeth showing.

When we first met, we didn’t talk much. I was bad at sports, so during our last year of high school, I volunteered to work at the nurse’s station during the Sports Festival instead of participating. I arrived on the first morning with no expectation of seeing you, but there you were, half-out of uniform and smiling your close-lipped, secretive smile. Like a woman waking up from a pleasant dream.

“Hello,” you said, “Do you know where Mrs. Chen is?”

I didn’t.

You turned away and went to look for her.

After two days, we started talking a bit more. You were quiet, just like I am, but we realized we both liked the music of Jay Zhou. When I think about it now, that’s not something unusual- everybody likes Jay Zhou- but we liked the same two songs best of all. You were friendlier to me after that.

On the last day, we had a real conversation, the kind of conversation you have with friends- relaxed and natural. You wanted to study biology, you said, but you didn’t want to be a doctor because you hated the idea of someone throwing up or bleeding on you. I teased you for being so squeamish and yet volunteering at the infirmary tent. You thought that was funny, and smacked me playfully on the shoulder. I liked you so much by then that your smack shot warm ripples through my body, radiating from the central disturbance, like throwing a big rock in a pond.

“Maybe we could go to Jinxi Street together sometime,” I said.

You cocked your head like a puppy, and didn’t say anything.

After the festival, had finished, and everyone was trudging back to the dorms, I left without saying goodbye.


I saw you had put your uniform jacket back on and smoothed your hair. Your friends were clustered around you, half-trailing away, and you were holding hands that girl with the enormous nose.

You smiled. This time, you smiled a little bigger than usual. Your teeth were white, much whiter than mine. “I had fun,” you told me.

“Me, too.” I swallowed, trying to elicit an answer for my earlier questions with my eyes, but you didn’t acquiesce. After a too-long moment, I said casually, “Have a nice weekend.”

“See you.” Your friend said something to you as you turned away, but I didn’t listen. My throat hurt suddenly. I felt awful.

I feel awful remembering this now. You still look like yourself, but somehow you seem unreal to me. It’s like seeing your face on a plastic label has cheapened my memory somewhat.

When I was a child, I thought the little amusement park outside of town was such a fantastic place. I could easily recall the colors in my mind, the music from the carousel; I could remember the feeling of riding a tandem bike with my mother so clearly. Sometimes, when we were sleeping four-to-a-room in the school dormitory, I’d imagine I was back there- standing in the middle of the flower gardens and spinning, just spinning freely, with no one and nothing to block my whirling body.

I went back only once as a teenager. It wasn’t as I remembered. You wouldn’t be, either.

You’re not a biologist or a doctor. I guess you’re not a mother yet. I’m sure you live in a bigger city. Most of our schoolmates didn’t go on to do anything special or interesting- I certainly didn’t- but something tells me your life is more exciting than mine. I think it would have been that way, no matter what. You’re probably not that successful, although I am happy to see that you’re gracing the good brand of peanut milk, but you’re almost definitely more successful than me. Some days, I feel like less than nothing. I know that’s common for people our age. My mother thinks I should get married, and I wish I had more interest in that, but I just don’t right now.

I wish I could ask you if you remember me. Our interactions were so few and so inconsequential. I had a crush on you, and I know you didn’t reciprocate, but I can’t help but wish that you had agreed to go to Jinxi Road with me. We never really spoke again after the Sports Festival.

You wouldn’t be the same person now, would you? I still feel like a child. Do you ever feel that way?

I suppose it’s just loneliness, making me feel so introspective.

Your bottle went in the trash, and I lit a cigarette.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
Also, I don't know if this is appropriate to announce here, but Flash Frontier selected my bird story. :unsmith:

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

Beige posted:

Nice, Fleta. They selected my story as well.

YAY! Goonflash!

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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BeefSupreme posted:

Here's a prompt: I challenge you to a Beef-off

Beef Stroganoff

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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In, please inspire me.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Death in the family this weekend. I'm out.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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In. I'll take the 12th century CE.

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 02:04 on Nov 23, 2016

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
1790 words
12th century CE

When Catherine’s fellow ward Mathilde told her that the abbess was ready to speak to her about her upcoming marriage, Catherine had been so taken aback that she’d jumped in her chair and dropped her embroidery, earning her a harsh scolding and a sharp smack to the side of her head from cantankerous Sister Marie. The other wards had giggled and Catherine, blushing furiously and almost in tears, had fled to the privy to panic in relative peace.

That had occurred three days ago, and Catherine had since thought of nothing else.

In her head, she methodically recited everything she knew about her betrothed. His name was Pierre. He was nineteen. He was the second son of a medium-wealthy trader from Calais, and said to be warm-hearted and kind, but not particularly interested in matters of intellect. These were the only facts Catherine’s father had given her, and those grudgingly and with clear disdain for her feminine curiosity, but she had clung to them over the past few days, thinking warm-hearted and kind almost constantly. It was a little reassuring, but not much.

The doors to the abbess’s office opened and her assistant, plain and cheerful Sister Anne, stuck her head out. “Catherine! I’m so sorry, the black mare dropped her foal a bit earlier than expected and I had to rush out to the stables.”

Catherine stood quickly, thrusting her wild fingers behind her back. “Is the foal all right?” she asked, trying to sound pleasant and neutral.

“Mother and son are both well,” Sister Anne assured her, “But you didn’t wait all this time to talk about horse breeding, did you?” To Catherine’s horror, the nun giggled knowingly.

“She didn’t, Anne,” came the abbess’s voice from inside the room. “Please let her in, and leave us alone for a while.”

“Yes, Mother Hilde.” Sister Anne stepped aside. Catherine hesitated briefly, seized with a sudden idea to fake illness and run off- but Sister Anne raised her eyebrow and jerked her head towards the interior of the office, and thus Catherine went.

The abbess stood by the large window, the most luxurious part of her otherwise spare office. A simple table ran the length of the room and served as a desk, accompanied by two heavy, plain chairs. Mother Hilde herself wore her usual habit, but with the headdress tossed discarded on a small table by the door. Catherine blinked at this impropriety, but said nothing.

“Good morning, Catherine. Please have a seat.”

As Catherine sat, the abbess took the other heavy chair and pulled it closer to the table. “Have you eaten?”

“Not yet, Mother Hilde.”

“That’s as well, then, because you look as if you’re about to be sick. Shall I call Sister Anne back in for a dose?”

“No, Mother. Thank you for your concern.”

Mother Hilde gave Catherine a long look. The girl felt the tips of her ears begin to flush from the scrutiny. Presently, the abbess said, “As Mathilde told you, we must discuss your marriage. The terms your father gave us were that you were to be married within six months after your sixteenth birthday, and we’re rapidly approaching that date. Were you aware of this stipulation?”

Catherine nodded. Mother Hilde gave her a dark look, and she quickly rushed to speak. “I’m sorry, Mother. Yes, I knew about this.”

“Have you met your betrothed?”

“No, Mother, but I know of him.”

Mother Hilde settled a little in her chair, leaning back. “Tell me, then.”

Catherine recited her scarce handful of information, voice cracking as she came to warm-hearted and kind. Mother Hilde didn’t react immediately, but there was a look in her eyes- pity? Anger? - that made Catherine grateful for the silence.

Finally, Mother Hilde asked, “Has he ever written to you?”

Catherine blinked in surprise. “Well, no. I’m sure he can write,” she hastily added, “but he hasn’t written me.”

Mother Hilde nodded, stood, and walked to the window. “There was a time,” she said thoughtfully, “I lived for a man’s letters.”

“I’m not sure what to say, Mother Hilde.”

“I had never wished to marry,” Mother Hilde went on, a strange distance in her eyes. “I had my lover, and I was happy, but I never wished to marry him, nor any man.”

Trying to hide her shock at the abbess’s frank speech, Catherine nodded in what she hoped was a thoughtful manner. “And thus, you took the veil,” she offered meekly.

“Oh, no, girl. I took the veil because that man had his parts cut off and was thrown in an abbey of his own,” Mother Hilde said flatly.

The blush suddenly and immediately took over Catherine’s entire face, and she brought her hand to her mouth.

“I apologize for speaking so bluntly, but I wish to be clear with you, Catherine.” Mother Hilde sat back down and took Catherine’s other hand in her own. “I asked you to tell me about your future husband, and you could only supply me with a few inconsequential details.” Catherine opened her mouth to apologize, but the abbess gestured for her to be quiet. “You say he is not concerned with matters of the mind. In marriage, your duty is to follow your husband. If he wishes you to play the lute, you shall play. If he wishes you to bear him ten squalling beasts of children”- here the abbess shuddered- “Well, you shall do so. Yes?”

“Yes, I suppose.”

The abbess looked directly into Catherine’s eyes. “If he asks you to put aside your books? Your scholarly pursuits? I know you are a great reader and have what some would consider an unwomanly interest in the sciences. Are you ready to purge this from your life if your husband so asks?”

This had never occurred to Catherine. Raised in the abbey with the rather progressive Mother Hilde and fostered in various disciplines by other well-read women, Catherine had never known a time when her mind was controlled. Certainly, she was as obedient and faithful towards God as any woman of her age and upbringing, but to abandon forever her other interests to fulfill her role as a wife flushed her body with fear. Unable to respond, she simply stared at Mother Hilde.

“I’m not telling you that this will come to pass, only that it may,” Hilde told her.

“Why should he care what I do in my spare time?” Catherine asked.

Mother Hilde struggled. “Many a wise woman has been ruined through accusations of witchcraft. Or beaten for seeming smarter than her lord husband.” The old nun sneered. “I’ve fostered hundreds of girls here, Catherine, and not all of them benefited from the education I gave them. Several were destroyed utterly.” Her mouth quirked.

Emboldened, Catherine asked, “And yourself?”

“Oh, I could not have married my lover, and I dislike babies, so it has been well enough for me,” Hilde said casually, although again her eyes blurred. “I am a scholar, and proud to be one, and I would never wish to do aught else. Not all your foster-sisters feel the same way, of course, and many would envy you a comfortable marriage.” The abbess paused. “However, your father has recently written me with some news that may alter your plans.”

“Has he canceled the betrothal?” Relief and shame pricked Catherine equally.

“No.” Mother Hilde opened the drawer of her desk and pulled out a letter, sealed with Catherine’s father’s mark. “Shall I read it to you? The most important part, anyways?” Catherine nodded her assent, and Mother Hilde read, “’I have recently been blessed with an unexpected inheritance, and as such my Catherine’s marriage is no longer vital for our family’s fortunes.” Hilde ignored Catherine’s answering gasp of shock, and continued. “’I am aware of her indifference to the union, and as she has been thriving in your abbey these years, I would like to extend to her a choice, if you will allow it.” Hilde looked directly into Catherine’s eyes as she read, “If my daughter wishes to pledge her troth to Almighty God instead, and remain within the walls of your abbey, I will permit it.”

Wild thoughts streaked through Catherine’s head. She could stay in the abbey? She could remain with her friends, and her books, and pursue whatever subject she fancied? When the other girls left, would she be old and alone? Oh, everyone would think she had been spurned by Pierre, how shameful, but then again what would it matter, if she never returned to her home? What about children? Did she want children?

Mother Hilde watched Catherine stumble between realizations, her face softer and more sympathetic than usual. “You don’t have to choose this minute,” she said gently.

“I…” Catherine groped with the right words. “I never expected to choose.”

Hilde nodded knowingly.

“It might be a good marriage,” Catherine said eagerly, looking into Hilde’s sharp blue eyes. She sank a little. “Oh, but he might be a beast. I don’t know any men besides my father and he’s not the kind of man I’d want to marry.”

Hilde said nothing.

“What do you think, Mother?” Catherine asked boldly.

The abbess sighed. “Child, it’s not for me to say.” She looked tired, every bit of her age. “I knew a good man once, and couldn’t keep him. Mayhap your story would have a happier ending. And, again, mayhap not.”

“I don’t know what to do,” Catherine said plainly.

“None of us really know what to do, Catherine. Life is a series of unknowable consequences.”

Catherine stayed silent for a few moments, thinking. She saw in her mind’s eye her friends, her kitten, her garden. She saw her father. She saw herself holding a child in her arms. She saw a man’s face, and it was cruel. She saw a man’s face, and it smiled.

The nervousness abated somewhat. Catherine stood, smoothing the folds of her gown. “I’ll honor the original arrangement,” she said quietly.

“You’re certain?”

“No,” Catherine said plainly, “But I understand that I have a choice, and I wish to honor that choice by taking a new path.”

Mother Hilde smiled. “An adventure, of sorts.”

“Yes, Mother.”

The abbess sighed. “Very well. I’ll write your father immediately. No doubt he’ll have you sent back home soon, so please arrange with the other fosterlings to shift your duties.

“Yes, Mother.” The flush was dying down. “Is there anything else you wished to speak of?”

“No. You may go.”

Catherine turned, feeling both excited and terrified, and opened the door, but Mother Hilde called her back.

Catherine turned back to the abbess. “One more thing, my dear. Good luck and happiness to you.”

“Thank you, Mother,” Catherine said softly, and left.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

Chili posted:

Interprompt :siren: WITH A PRIZE :siren:

Everyone has from right now, until judgement is rendered, to take up to 500 words and write a story about a black sheep. It can be a literal black sheep if you’re a disphit, but what I’m looking for is a character who just doesn’t fit in with their peers. They should want something and/or try to do something.

Also as a means of inspiration, use this song:

Space Baby
499 words

After the two boys were marched into Ms. Jeffries’s office and ordered into chairs at opposite ends of the room, they glared at each other. Joey was about to silently mouth “space baby” again, prompting Sam to attack him, but his timing was off- Ms. Jeffries was already entering the office.

She sat and gave both boys a very unpleasant look. Joey just huffed a little and slid down in his chair, but Sam was looking nervous. What a jerk.

“Sam, would you like to tell me what happened?”

“He was calling me names,” Sam began.

“It’s not calling names when it’s the truth!” Joey interjected.

The principal ignored him. “Please continue, Sam.”

“He was calling me names for no reason,” Sam whined. “He just came up to me and Steve and AJ and called me the same stupid thing he always calls me.”

Ms. Jeffries raised an eyebrow at Joey. “What do you call him?”

“The truth!”


“I call him Space Baby, because is a space baby!” Joey said hotly, then added, “AND he said the f-word.”

“Dude, stop bothering me,” Sam said. “I don’t know why you keep doing this, but STOP IT.”

The principal looked at them both silently, until even Joey started to sweat.

“Joey, what’s a space baby?” Her voice was cool.

He kicked his feet in consternation.

“Tell me what a space baby is.” Her voice was hotter.

“It’s…” Suddenly, Joey didn’t want to say.

“He thinks we’re aliens because of a game we played when we were little,” Sam supplied. “Everyone else grew UP,” he continued pointedly, “But Joey is still pretending, because he’s the real baby!”

“It’s not pretend,” Joey whispered.

“Oh, my god! Yes, it is!” Sam said. “You are such a freak. Grow up.”

Ms. Jeffries held up her hand and stopped him. “Sam, go sit with Mrs. Johansson. I’ll talk to you in a minute.”

After Sam had huffed out of the room, Ms. Jeffries asked quietly, “Joey, when did you last see your dad?”

Something stung behind his eyes. “He’s on a space mission, he’s not coming back for a while,” Joey said haughtily. “He’s thousands of light years away, and he’s very busy, you know.”

The principal looked like she wanted to say something comforting. Joey hated that the most.

Finally, she sighed. “I have to call your mom about this, Joey.”

“Fine!” he said. “Whatever. She won’t pick up,” he added.

Ms. Jeffries sighed and rubbed her forehead. “She might not, actually,” she said. Joey had an odd feeling she wasn’t talking to him.

After she dismissed him, Joey made a horrible face at Sam, who had since been joined by his friends in the office. The other boy didn’t see him, but some older girls did, and they seemed to find it hilarious. Joey ducked his head and swerved into the bathroom. He felt sick.

He had really liked the space baby game. It was the last game they’d played before his father left.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

guys am I doing Thunderdome right

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

newtestleper posted:

Who's to say prompts are male?

Their preferred pronouns are actually Prompt, Promptself, and Promptzir.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
Prompt: What happened to Okua?
Flash rule: Must involve bears and and a can of soda. I will choose which bear. You can choose the soda.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

flerp posted:




:ohdear: THIS IS HARDER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK. This place. This prompt. This...dome of thunderous scriveners.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
there is no prompt for me

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

A Good Bearre

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
In because Skyrim is for the Nords.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

Okua posted:

"Like an eagle swooping over old ocean,
snatching after his prey,
so comes a man into court who finds
there are few to defend his cause."

The Judgment Circle
1491 words

“Stand forward, accused.”

The guards were rough, and Aleta stumbled a bit as they muscled her towards Magistrate Argent. She recovered smoothly, and managed a graceful curtsey nonetheless. Lila sighed quietly- would it have been too much for Aleta to put aside her pride and just fall? Seem weak?- but she heard an admiring rumble in the crowd. Aleta was popular among the smallfolk, whereas the magistrate was reviled. Perhaps a show of strength was wiser, after all.

Thankfully, Lila’s part of the plan didn’t involve analysis.

Aleta rose from her curtsey and stood, her head held high.

“You are accused of performing dark magic,” intoned the beady-eyed magistrate, clutching the list of Aleta’s crimes. His fingers left visible sweat stains on the grubby paper. Clearly, the alleged crimes were frightening ones. “You are accused of consorting with demons, of lying with evil creatures to gain their power-“

“My word, is that even possible?” Aleta asked with an overwrought tone of horror. Several onlookers snickered.

The fat little man’s fat little face turned red with anger, but he continued. “-and you are accused of murdering the child of John Hardwicke through unholy means.”

The Hardwickes were the only ones standing close to Argent. They clutched each other, red-eyed, both glaring hotly at Aleta. Emma Hardwicke even directed her silent anger towards Lila for a moment before lowering her gaze.

“How do you plead?”

Aleta stood silently for a moment, then shook her head. “I can admit no guilt, as I have no knowledge of these practices.”

It was time. Lila would be expected to stand as close to Aleta as possible, being the lover of the accused, and therefore couldn’t leave her spot in the Judgment Circle. Their dogsbody, Erik, had no such obligations. He stood next to a rotting shed, just outside the circle and across from Lila. Raising her gaze to meet his, Lila tucked a strand of hair behind her left ear, then immediately turned her body directly towards Aleta. Erik, recognizing the signal, disappeared into the encroaching night.

Meanwhile, the magistrate pressed on. “You deny the charges?”

“Yes,” Aleta said bluntly. She brushed her long, blond hair away from her face.

“Yes, Your Honor,” hissed Argent’s assistant.

Aleta quirked an eyebrow and made a little bow in response. The magistrate’s face began shading to burgundy.

The magistrate’s assistant read the full list of charges, pausing after each one to leer at Aleta. She denied every one. Apparently not thrown by her recalcitrance- a cooler man than his master, by far- the assistant turned to the assembled crowd.

“Good people of Greybridge,” he called out, “Is any man or woman willing to respond to these charges on the accused’s behalf?”

As Lila had expected, several citizens stepped forward immediately. Since Aleta had started as the village herbwoman two years prior, the Greybridge had flourished. Even the animals seemed healthier. While other villages in the region watched their crops rot in the ground after two years of hard rain, Greybridge’s yield was high and the population growing steadily. In fact, the Hardwicke boy was the first baby to slip from life under Aleta’s capable watch. It was no wonder many smallfolk trusted her.

In ordinary times, surrounding towns would have merely envied Greybridge’s sudden fortune. However, the two-year blight, and Greybridge’s mysterious immunity, had brought the village under scrutiny. Some villagers did not trust herbwomen, especially not one young ones, and they spun exaggerated tales of witchcraft and darkness in the local taverns.

These stories had spread, and soon Aleta developed a reputation for black magic. The lord of Greybridge, a paranoid man, demanded his official find out for sure if the lady was a witch. Although Aleta was questioned several times by the lord’s officials, she had done nothing apparently wrong, and they could make no move against her. The death of the Hardwicke baby, living and well until Aleta held him, was the only evidence. It was very little in the way of proof, but the lord took his opportunity.

As the townspeople testified for Aleta’s honor, the magistrate changed color twice. Based on his behavior, Lila wondered if the lord had promised him extra pay in exchange for damning the witch.

Finally overcome with frustration, Argent banged his fist on the table and interrupted the latest glowing testimony. “Enough of this,” he said shortly. “No more of this topic. I would now hear from those who have witnessed this woman’s wrongdoing.”

No one moved.

“Be not afraid!” called the assistant. He drew a bulging purse from his shoulder bag and hoisted it triumphantly. “The good magistrate has sworn three crowns to each person willing to speak of this witch’s crimes.”

Aleta’s eyes widened. Lila slowly began to draw the dagger from her hidden wrist-sheath, preparing herself to strike. Three crowns was a great deal of money, more than a Greybridge man might make in a year. They had expected this tactic, but not such a sum.

Unsurprisingly, it worked. A few people stepped forward, their eyes downcast. Aleta remained cold, calm. No one coming forward could meet her defiant stare.

Just then, Lila saw an orange flash out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head slightly, using her peripheral vision, and…yes, Erik had managed it. The roof of their house was on fire. If he had done it correctly, the fire would spread from their roof to the neighbor’s home, and from there to the next. Since Aleta had come to Greybridge, more babies lived, and homes were being built closer together. It would be no trouble for the fire to travel through the village- and for the secrets in Aleta’s attic workroom to burn.

The Hardwickes were the last to make their accusation. Emma pointed, shaking, at the slim figure before her. Lila began counting backwards from one hundred.

“Her,” Emma Hardwicke said, her voice strangled. By the light of the torches around her, her long nose and tired eyes looked sharp and raptorlike. “She took my babe in her arms, my baby boy…” She choked. “I never even touched my baby before this hellwife sucked his soul out! Sucked it out and fed on it, before even I could stand up!” As her voice rose to a shriek, John Hardwicke held on to his wife, weeping as he restrained her. “I will see you burn! You will burn tonight!”

“No,” Aleta said, as Erik breached the border of the judgment circle and Lila counted one. “You will.”

Just then, a scream came from somewhere at the back of the crowd. “Fire!” Lila heard. “Fire by the square!”

The timing was perfect. As the guard dropped her arm in shock, Aleta whirled and kicked him in the stomach, winding him. Erik dashed past her and shoved a bag into her hand. As the boy dashed back into the crowd, losing himself in the confusion, Lila leapt forward as well with her dagger drawn.

“Now!” she screamed, slashing the palm of her left hand. She dove towards Aleta, bloody hand outstretched, shielding her eyes with her arm.

Aleta threw the bag down with all her might, shattering the vessels inside.

The resulting light was brighter than daylight, disorienting the onlookers. Lila heard screams as she reached out and wiped her blood across Aleta’s breast. Her hair suddenly whipped up in a terrific wind and she braced herself, waiting for the light to fade. She heard a woman’s shout change into a harsh raptor’s scream.

Stumbling and blinded, the townspeople failed to witness Aleta’s transformation.

By the time they had regained their wits, Lila sat astride a magnificent griffin, her scarf looped around its neck as a makeshift handle. People staggered, incredulous, gaping. Lila had to laugh at their animalistic shock. “Not a very grateful lot, are you?” she had time to say.

Aleta took off.

The beating of her enormous wings drowned out most of the screams. Lila flattened her body against the muscular back, holding on desperately as Aleta shot into the sky. Briefly, she prayed that Erik would manage to collect the crowns she’d hidden for him. The boy had done beautifully. She hoped he would make it far away from Greybridge.

Aleta leveled out, spreading her magnificent wings so that Lila could move up to her shoulder.

“Well done, my love,” she yelled against the wind.

Aleta dipped a wing in acknowledgment.

Lila looked around for Castle Marius. Far to their right, she saw a faint glow- the castle town? It must have been. Marius Castle Town was the first landmark on their route to freedom. She shivered a bit, and grinned.

She patted Aleta on the right side of her outstretched neck. The griffin obligingly turned right, crying out triumphantly when she saw the lights before her. Lila knew then that they would be safe.

“Well done,” Lila said again. This time, her words were lost in the wind.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

Hawklad posted:

Weather Forecast: Heat Wave

Malus Domestica
1093 words

Marina groped for the camera on her nightstand, eyes still partly closed. Settling back into her pillows, she aimed the camera directly over her head and pressed the shutter before she even looked at the day’s message.

In the ancient plaster ceiling, a series of cracks were arranged into the graceful shape of an apple bough. Some large pieces were missing, imitating the shape of ripe fruit. The tree glistened in the heavy, wet heat. Marina looked at it, unblinking, before rolling over and burying her face in Theo’s pillow beside her.

Theo had been dead for a month, but she could still smell him on the pillow.

Theo and Marina had always been too intimate for siblings. They’d cried when their mother told them they were too old to bathe together. They’d refused to be in separate classes all through elementary school. They’d even insisted on double-dating at prom. Most people thought it was sweet, maybe even that Theo was gay and Marina protective of him. Perhaps their mother had suspected what was really happening, but she had never confronted them. The twins certainly never told anyone. Mother worked, their father was dead, they lived out so far in the country there wasn’t even a road until the nineties. No one was there to watch them, and they never had to share their time with anyone else.

It had been, they decided, long enough. Both parents were now dead, and there was only the moldering house back home left to sort out. The original plan was to sell it immediately and use the money to move to Costa Rica. They would open a restaurant on the beach, take new names, and live the rest of their life in the open. They had been in perfect agreement until drove up to their childhood home.

Theo had immediately been overcome. “They don’t make houses like this anymore,” he declared, affectionately patting one of the front porch columns. “It’s not in bad shape. This antebellum style could be a tourist draw. Maybe we could start here, open a B&B in Mom’s house, and then expand to Costa Rica later?”

“gently caress off,” was all Marina could say. The heat wave was just beginning, the fluttering edge of a three-month hell. She could smell the plants boiling in the humidity. “This whole state is like being in a hot toilet. Let’s just get this over with. At least Costa Rica has beaches.”

Thus began the first month of their epilogue. For the first time, Theo and Marina couldn’t find common ground. She wanted nothing to do with the stifling, backwards town, where she had spent her adolescence in a cloud of boredom. Theo, still mourning their mother, wanted to restore his lost childhood. Neither could fully accept the idea of living in hiding anymore. The heat was oppressive, filling their mouths and making them listless. Discussions never exploded, but would merely trail off. They were too languid and disinterested to fight. The second month passed almost in silence, Marina resentfully bringing in repairmen and talking to real estate agents, Theo pointedly sulking and being deliberately uncooperative. For the first time, Marina thought it might be time to abandon her weird, twisted romantic life.

Then, the accident. The truck had a malfunctioning air conditioner, Theo forgot his sunglasses. He’d been overcome by the heat and fainted, eventually landing upside-down in the ditch. The heat did him no further favors. Marina hadn’t even been able to positively identify the body.

Since then, there was a message of cracks and condensation on the ceiling every morning. Never words, only pictures, things that would mean nothing to anyone else. Marina didn’t always understand them, either. She photographed every one, puzzling them over at night, dripping sweat onto the Formica table. They frequently seemed to be smaller pieces of a larger whole, but she could never quite understand them.

Vicious as the heat was, Marina thought she felt a cool breeze. She smiled and stretched unconsciously. She must have left the hallway fan on.

Marina wrapped the sheet around herself and walked into the hallway, but the fan was still. She turned her head sharply as another cool breeze whispered past her ear.

Silence. Just heat. Heavy, wavering heat that made Marina’s head swim. The air practically rippled.

She walked forward, hoping to feel another hit of cool air. When she stopped before the door to Theo’s childhood bedroom, she paused for a moment, then exhaled in surprise. She could see now that the cracks from her bedroom twined themselves across the hallway ceiling, leading into Theo’s old room.

She turned the doorknob.

The door didn’t open. That door didn’t lock.

Marina sat down, hard, and stared at the door. There was something inside, she knew there was. Her vision quivered with vertigo.

“Is someone there?” she called, her voice edged with fright.

There was no answer.

Marina grabbed an old umbrella from the stand next to her chair and stood up. Gingerly, she tiptoed back over to the door and poked. There was no response. Then she banged on the door, hard, and it popped open.

She jumped back in fear, but after a moment, Marina used her umbrella to ease the door all the way open.

The room was empty. Empty, and cool, and weirdly drafty.

“What the gently caress?” Marina swallowed, holding her umbrella in both hands like a club. The world around her threatened to spin out.

The plaster walls were cracked, gouged, and pitted into the shape of a massive apple tree. It was strangely lifelike, with its knotty trunk and wide branches, somehow fruiting and flowering all at once. She could almost smell the blossoms as another wave of dizziness hit her, forcing her to her knees.

Quiet, peace. The tree was cold. She could feel cool air coming from it, like a spring breeze. The weighty mantle of humidity had somehow lifted. Marina’s hair gently blew about her face as she swayed, closed her eyes, and curled up on the floor, feeling the blessed, fresh air caress her.

The world was spinning madly now, yet Marina felt light and calm. She could almost sense a pair of lips, chilled and taut, on the back of her neck. There was nothing to be afraid of, here in the apple blossoms, with a patch of soft grass for her pillow. There was no heat wave, there had never been an argument. The sticky, punishing day evaporated as Marina sank swiftly, helplessly, obliviously into sleep, enveloped by a spectral embrace.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
What an ironic prompt. In.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

hotsoupdinner posted:

Nobody cares.

Actually, I do! Mrenda's critique was quite a bit more helpful. :downs:

That said, let's ALL not pick on people who are willing to do crits. It takes time and effort that a lot of us aren't able or willing to expend.


Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

you come over here and say that *readies nunchuks*

e: sorry, hawklad, wasn't trying to be a dick to you by saying that.

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 07:45 on Dec 14, 2016

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