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Beige
Sep 13, 2004


In for my first try at Thunderdome. I've no reason to believe I can write at all but I see others first-timers joining so I'm going to throw my hat into the ring.

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Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Screen test

1585 words.

Climbing out of the valley the city cab curved and pushed upward into cleaner air. There was green here to line the roads and rock and the houses were set apart with real gardens afforded them. Streetlights neatly arrayed led the diesel car along, skirting the edge between the city below and the upmarket apartment buildings.

The cab driver glanced in the rear view and the passenger already knew what he was thinking. He rounded a corner still wet from the rain shower and looked back again. “You know. I don’t believe I’ve ever been up here before, can you believe it?”

The passenger returned the glance and gave a courtesy “Oh, no?” and then turned back to the black window, and stared through his reflection. The small lights of the city lay out behind the treeline and beneath the road and a few miles distant. The luminescence in yellow rotating around him as the car pivoted. He looked ahead and cleared his throat. “This next one, thank you,” he said.

“Man, these places are huge. Makes you wonder who owns a place like this. Like, doctors and things,” said the driver as the car navigated its way onto the driveway.

He avoided the silent question and asked the driver how much the ride was and paid him and wished him a good night before crossing the lit courtyard and climbing the steps to the first floor apartment.

Their apartment smelt like soft fruits like a shampoo or light perfume. She could have returned late from work or about to leave for an early start. He lost track of her work days long ago. He smelled like alcohol and cigarettes and looked no better in his coloured shirt pulled out at the waist and his blazer which looked worn when he bought it used a decade ago.

It had taken him a long time to feel comfortable in this place. She settled in right away, enjoying the large rooms and beautiful view of the valley. This was her style and she wanted it right away and so they took it. After all he needed only the essentials to be satisfied and she was set on the place and she was paying.

They had lived together in the city since meeting at university where she studied media and he pursued acting. They did not care that their ground floor flat was small and uncared for. Needing only a space to live and love while they chased their respective careers the flat was adequate for young lovers out of school.

His talents hadn’t paid for this. Hers did. Being dragged up the ladder and rewarded with larger salaries they found themselves able to buy their home here out of the city. His career amounted to less that the value of the car in the garage and they each knew this.

She walked into the room with wet hair and a towel. “How did your screen test go?” she asked.

“About as well as the others,” he replied, walking over to the mini bar. He pushed the bottles around and pulled out the gin and a glass. “The whole business stinks these days. They don’t want the old style any more. They don’t know what they want at all.”

“You did try though, didn’t you?” she asked. She caught the scent of old booze on his clothes and sensed his frustration through his lethargic poise.

He finished his drink and reached for the bottle once more and hesitated and let his hand fall then turned to her. “What have you heard?” he asked in a non-accusing tone. She had friends in the business and word got around quickly these days.

“It’s just that one of the girls…” she inhaled again and continued. “They heard it didn’t go so well this time.”

“Oh, no?”

“I’m not blaming you,” she went on. “But…” she faltered for a moment, reaching for a gentle tone. “There was a monologue?” she offered, granting him a chance to explain himself.

“Yeah, I did a monologue,” he said, somewhat cheerily. “I really went all out on it. Full acting, gestures. Maximum volume.”

“Screen tests usually have a short script though, don’t they?”

“Probably. Yeah there might have been a script somewhere. They were all saying the same lines and inflecting the same words like some trash soap actor. I gave them a real fright. A touch of the old way of doing things,” he had poured another drink and was holding it up before him. His sudden burst of laughter unbalanced him and he grasped a side cabinet to steady himself. “This uppity young one walked out while they were shooting. She said I was spitting on her during my acapella rendition of the Coca Cola Christmas song.”

“The what now?”

“HOOO-LI-DAYS ARE COOMINNNG!” he was laying prostrate now and resting his empty glass on his soaked shirt. “Darling, you do love me don’t you?” he asked, righting himself with his elbows.

“Yes. Don’t you think you ought to polish up your method though? Bring it a little more into line with what the producers are actually looking for?” she asked.

“The producers don’t know good acting when it’s in front of them and they are filming it and it is bellowed into their faces. They don’t want acting. They want the kind of person who follows a drat script and stands on the taped out crosses on the floor. Someone who follows ‘instruction.”

“So you’re saying that want an ac…”

“I know how to act, darling.”

“I heard you were looking at the camera on purpose.”

“Did ‘one of the girls’ tell you that too?” he said, swinging out his free arm with as much stage presence as he could remember learning from college. “Rules are meant to be broken. So I winked at the camera a couple of times. It’s how I interpreted my character.” He paced from the mini bar to the window and looked into the dark.

“You ought to be taking your career a little more seriously,” she pleaded. “It’s your dream and you should be nurturing it, not pissing it away.”

Her reflection placed her in the middle of the room and he dared not turn around. It was beginning to sound like an intervention on his lifestyle; an argument a long time coming. Despite her reassurances through the years he’d always felt he was letting her down. He was no bread winner nor did he feel he contributed more than a fraction she did.

In the beginning he believed he had charmed her with the flagrant impetuousness of his youth but as the years passed it was becoming markedly less tangible to him what it was that kept her around. And so he had fallen into maintaining his roguish pseudo thespian persona in lieu of money or pride. It was wearing thin with age and while she was steadily progressing her career it was painfully apparent to him that he remained stilted in the past and having no notion of how to remedy the situation he grew only more stubborn.

She had moved into bathroom now and was brushing her hair. The short conflict was over, she knew. He would not pursue it and she would not want him to. Part of what made their relationship endure for the decade it had was that they each never felt obliged to press the other into doing what they did not want to. But still she harboured thoughts against him that she wished she did not.

The clothes she had laid out were folded on a kitchen chair and when she walked through to collect them she saw that he had gone to bed. She dressed and checked her face in the mirror in the hall. There was a corded phone attached to the wall beside the mirror and she picked up the receiver and looked back into the mirror. Then she dialled a phone number from memory.

“Hello?” she said as she patted down her hair. “It’s me.”

“I want you to give him a part. Any part. You have the final call, please.”



“No, please. I won’t ask any more favours. I want you to do this for me.”



“But that’s practically background. You’re the producer.”



“I guess. Well, thank you. Wait, a condition? What do you want?”



She put a hand to her forehead and closed her eyes. Not again. Anything but that. She caught her own eye in the mirror and turned away. “Yes. Ok. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

The taxi weaved its way down the edge of the hills. Gaps in the treeline showed glimpses of the city rising up to meet her. Street lines crossing in thick orange, the neon lights of the night. She could almost taste the air from up here and she was descending into it. She thought of that old flat they shared as they matured together.

“He lives back then because I was drawn to him,” she thought. Her breath condensed on the window and she swallowed. “Acting the fool is all he can do. I know that he fears losing me should he change his ways so he persists with the humiliation. For me.”

“You know,” said the driver. “I always wonder what kind of people live up here. Like, doctors and things.”

She wasn’t listening. “And I cannot ask him to change for me. So I do this. For him.”

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Thank you so much for the crits. I aim to improve my writing for the sake of those who have to read it.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


I'm in too.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


To reiterate, I'm in with some English gothic.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


I reluctantly withdraw. Several irl things are eating away at my time and I can't realistically produce anything for Thunderdome in time.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


What's a Toxx?

edit: I get the idea it's a punishment if you fail to follow through with something. But what's the punishment in Thunderdome?

Beige fucked around with this message at Oct 17, 2016 around 21:08

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Thanks for the answers.

I lost my first Thunderdome attempt two weeks ago and I backed out of last week's round. Therefore I'm in as a customer with a self-imposed for redemption.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


This week's prompt is so much fun. I'm really looking forward to reading the submissions. The character designations are equally exciting. Praise Sitting Here.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Retail Therapy
(1681 words)

“Let’s see now, little lady, how about this fully-automated self-teaching friendBOT? It clings to your arm when you acknowledge it!” declared the Voidmart sales assistant in an exceptionally well rehearsed voice which sounded equal parts spunky and peachy.

Alexandra giggled at the writhing nest of metal held out for her to consider. Her smile was as sweet as she was, now that she allowed it to show. The nervous teenager was quickly greeted at the door by a floor member who was trained to alleviate feelings of agoraphobia (some sufferers were not even aware they had it until they entered the Voidmart).

The sales assistant pursed her lips in a pantomime exaggeration of thinking hard. “I can see you have a discerning taste. I like that! But I spent four years studying psychology of persuasion at Voidmart Tech,” she said with honest pride, tapping a finger on the small badge on her chest. If a customer were inclined to lean in and read the tiny text on the badge they would see the words “Buy more” embossed in pretty letters. The other, larger badge read “Harmony”.

Alexandra tilted her head in genuine deliberation. She had come to the leviathan mega-store carrying her modest savings and shyly admitted that she wanted to buy a friend. But then, as now, she had nothing specific in mind. Only the vague notion that she would know it to be the right item when she saw it. “I… I’m not sure what I want.” she said. The nervousness seeping back into her voice.

Harmony donned a sympathetic expression which might even have been sincere. “Not a problem, sweetheart. We’ll find you a perfect buddy in no time at all. It’s my job after all; I’m trained for it.” As she spoke she carefully stepped to the side, revealing the Non-threatening Furry Mammal department in the distance. The Clandestine Engagements module syllabus came flooding back to her mind. She subtly bent her right arm at the elbow and was making small stroking motions down her forearm with her left hand. Straining to maintain friendly eye contact with the teenage girl she began to imitate a soft purring sound.

For reasons Alexandra could not explain her subconscious was flooding images into her mind and all of a sudden she knew exactly what she wanted. “I want a Furry Mammal,” she said, feeling almost compelled to say the words. “A non-threatening one, specifically.”

“Excellent choice!” said Harmony, beaming with satisfaction. She turned and held out a hand in the direction of the pet section in the distance. “As a matter of fact our fuzzy little delights are waiting for you just over there.” She appeared to give a small surveillance dronelet a slight nod before leading Alexandra along the broad aisle, leaving the plethora of electronic creatures in their wake.

Alexandra looked about at some of the other customers. A middle aged couple were wearing matching red blazers, accompanying a restless child and a chillingly still infant. The man was studying a note or shopping list while the woman was freestyle rapping.

As they walked the beeper at Harmony’s hip gave a softly audible tone. She tilted the device on her belt and gave a stifled cough and redoubled her effort of smiling as charmingly as she could muster. The message read “Company mandated audits of departments 7b,7d, 9a and 10q. Brace for TRUTH and immediate rectification - Assistant to CEO “ Harmony caught her breath and continued leading the way along the aisle.

From the distance came the sounds of a commotion. A crash of metal and breaking glass followed by desperate screaming. Harmony backed up to the shelving at the side and braced herself, clenching her fists and setting her jaw. Whatever was causing the awful distress was approaching; fresh shouts and wailing getting closer. The huge lights suspended above were dimming and beginning to sway back and forth. A deep rumble shook the girls and resonated within their chests and the ground beneath them was rising and falling as if they stood on the belly of some unsettled behemoth.

Within moments a wave of something enveloped the area, visible only by the swiftly moving barrier of a lensing effect passing through the store. The woman and girl stood in the reality field and they immediately buckled to the floor. Harmony’s joyful expression was now a twisted gurning of pain and terror. Alexandra fared no better for she rolled to her hands and knees and was pulling her hair out screaming “I'm so lonely! I need a friend. I need a friend. Take my money and make it stop. I can't live. Sedate me!”

There were red strands of organic material hanging from the lights and shelving and the floor was spongy and moist like compact scarlet moss, or meat. Strange figures moved in the distance crossing from corridor to corridor and they appeared to look this way and that as if in inspection. The sales assistant was the picture of despair. Her perfect cheekbones now wet with tears. She lay quivering at the bottom of a shelf which held hardcover tomes of “Comprehending Infinity - For the Strong Mind” and “The Honest Intentions of ‘Them’.”

One of the figures rounded the corner close to the pair and approached. Alexandra gazed up at the thing and found that she could not focus on its form. It appeared to her as a black void, absent of colour and diffuse in shape, only vaguely rectangular and upright. The inspector paused as it passed and seemed to regard them. It gave a slight tilt and bobbed down and then up again before drifting onward toward the array of sonic bidets.

Alexandra was now whispering an erratic stream of consciousness as she scratched at the bloody floor. “My dearest friend. I let you go, forgive me, I am sorry. You are dead and I am alive in this hell. I deserve it all. Forgive me.” Then her face took on an expression of disgust and her salivating lips spat out “You got what you deserved, you woeful bitch! Rot in your filthy box. Lay in the dank prison I prepared for you. Did you enjoy your slow poison? Ha!”

Curled up and crying, Harmony stared at the girl with wide eyes and her fingers pried at her own teeth. Her jaw flapped open and closed against her fingertips, her body in war with itself. All around there sounded a series of loud popping followed by a crackling, electric hissing. Then the beeper at Harmony’s belt pinged once more and this time it displayed the message “Exceptional work, Harmony. Model worker. Could do better - CEO”

All sound ceased. The strange figures glowed purple and pink and diffused into the air. In the next aisle somebody was gasping and the sound of hands slapping skin pattered in the otherwise soundless air. A hot mist formed and condensed into bubbling droplets which hung in the air. Moments passed with only the strained gasping noise of some desperate soul before a second pulse of the lensing permeated the vast building. And all returned to the way it was.

The heels on Harmony’s perfect shoes click-clicked as she walked briskly along. Alexandra’s purse lay on the floor a few paces back. She must have dropped it. She scooped it up and jogged after the sales assistant.

As they approached the selection of fluffy and playful critters a large horse walked across the path. On its back was a tall man wearing a wide-brimmed hat and dirty jeans. His lips were cracked and peeling and under shadow his dark face was mean. He halted the horse in the middle of the main aisle ahead of Alexandra and Harmony and turned his head to look down at them.

“Agua” he said.

Alexandra gazed at him. She thought he looked like a cattle driver might look after crossing a hard desert. Both he and his horse appeared exhausted; the beast's massive hooves chipped and dusty.

When Harmony addressed him she wore her familiar wide smile and her voice was as chirpy and sweet as ever. “Straight on, sir,” she said, motioning to her right. “Barely two miles along. A natural spring runs alongside the path there.”

He raised his head and looked into the distance. Then he looked at Alexandra and then at Harmony and paused as if in careful thought. “The girl yonder’s a witch,” he said. He gave Alex a glance then touched the brim of his hat and kicked his heels into the great horse's ribs and rode on raising small clouds of dust with each step on the impeccable floor.

“Is this true?” asked Harmony, this time with genuine curiosity.

“Yes it is,” replied Alexandra, looking at her feet. “I felt embarrassed to tell you. You might think I was peculiar.” she continued keeping her head bowed.

Harmony’s shoulders drooped and she tilted her head to one side in sincere sympathy. “Oh, my dear. You needn't feel bad about it. I don't think you're peculiar at all. I've encountered all kinds of people in this job.

------

At the immense entrance of the Voidmart there came the cheerful faces of the masses and some of them were personally greeted by floor staff while other, more experienced shoppers headed for various departments. With less mobility yet far more determination those who had purchased their goods hurried out under the ominous portcullis. The radiant sunlight shone in through the floor-to-ceiling front windows and was quickly extinguished before it had reached the floor. Business was booming.

Alexandra and Harmony stood in the centre of the maelstrom and said their goodbyes. The young witch was smiling as they hugged and a large beetle familiar at her side gently sucked on her toes. In fact it was trying to devour her but it's tiny mandibles were not yet fully formed.

“Thank you ever so much, Harmony. My little Caco-scarab will make the ideal friend for me.” said Alexandra.

“I was born to serve,” replied Harmony in honest literality.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Kaishai posted:

To be fair, we focus on the negative end, so it's only every DM and loss that we read. Anything else is a bonus, and whether that's less horrifying or more is a question I leave to the philosophers.

Thanks to you three for featuring my story (and my apologies for producing it). You were very helpful, and kind.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


sebmojo posted:

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

I'd very much appreciate some critique.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


I cannot follow simple instructions. We write a 250 word story with the prompt "birds" and submit it both here and to the website provided?

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Alright, I'm in.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Morning Coffee (233 words)

My coffee is cooling and I am watching the pigeon beside me on the pavement. It is a grey morning and cold gusts leaf through my open newspaper on the table. Part-time job vacancies circled in pencil. Obituaries. I was twenty pence short for the coffee but the girl let me off. She knows my circumstance.

I hope this pigeon’s life is more than roosting and foraging for food. I tip the crumbs from my finished plate onto the floor and the bird walks closer and pecks at them. Pigeons have a bad name but I am more sympathetic to them. Would it feel feel content with a fuller stomach; respite with more time to roost?

The cafe sign blows over on the street corner and it breaks my reverie. I cannot make rent this week. My daughter despises me. My wife was buried before I could make amends. My coffee is cold.

I wonder if birds can recognise people. This pigeon - could I pick it out from a throng? And would it come back to me when I return tomorrow if I could provide it with crumbs?

I look in through the window and see the girl at the counter. I accept her food each morning but I insist on paying for the coffee. She is kind to me and when she sees me in the streets she smiles and says hello.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


my cat is norris posted:

Woo good work everyone!

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


In

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


I'll say it right out: I don't understand surrealism in the same way I don't understand jazz music. I can recognise it when I read/hear it and even appreciate it but when it comes to picking up the pen/saxophone it's apparent that the methods of producing it are beyond me.

You know what I mean? Does anyone have some surreal short stories which would make good learning examples?

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


In with

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

Beige
Sep 13, 2004



This is wonderful. Both the story and the reading. Please say there are more.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Kaishai posted:

You can find the Thunderdome readings of which I'm aware here.

These aren't working for me. I'm getting 404s. I'm eager to power through the whole collection. Who runs the site?

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


crabrock posted:

nobody really.

try now, they should work.

Excellent, thanks.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Nice, Fleta. They selected my story as well.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


In

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Animal: Bear
Flash rule: Wants to steal tasty snacks

The Bear and the Snake (1059 words)

It was nighttime in the woods and the bear woke up feeling hungry. What he wanted was a tasty treat and he knew just where to find one. While out walking a few days ago he came across a group of humans who had set up a small camp alongside the lake at the bottom of the mountain. The bear had only to wander down the path to reach the lake so he set out to get his treats.

The bear had barely left his cave under the gap in the rocks when he came across a snake, coiled up in the bushes at the side of the path. The snake hissed and writhed and said to the bear, “Just where might a bear be going at this time of day in this late season?”

“I woke up hungry,” replied the bear. “I am going to fetch a tasty treat from the camp next to the lake.”

The snake hissed while she took a moment to formulate a plan. “Listen to me, bear,” she whispered. “With my help I can make it very easy for you to get your treat. Those humans at the camp will surely be unhappy to see you at their tents and hampers and would surely fend you off. I can help you if you would take me with you.”

“Why, I suppose you are right,” said the bear. “But what might you ask in return?”

A wide grin spanned the snake’s diamond-shaped head and she flicked her tail casually. “For this favour I ask nothing of you at all. Only that I come with you into the camp where you can take your treats.”

The bear accepted and together the pair made their way along the path towards the lake. “I wonder what tasty treats I will find down at the camp,” wondered the bear out loud.

“I don’t care,” replied the snake as she slithered, looking ahead.

They reached the end of the woods and the reflected sunlight shone through the gaps in the trees as it came off the lake. Then the vibrant colours of the tents moved into view and distant voices carried into the treeline, unintelligible to the beasts. They came out of the trees above the lakeside and slid down a steep and worn path, the bear’s claws pulling up shallow grass roots and boring brown channels into the soil beneath.

One large tent with a smaller tent on each side stood with their backs to the animals and beyond, crudely erected in a bed of pebbles was a stack of fallen branches, meant for a fire as yet unlit. Two humans played in the water, laughing and splashing. Several other voices sounded but their owners were unseen. They were inside the large tent.

The bear and the snake approached the camp; the snake was hissing softly as she glided rapidly forward and her head darted left and right to take in the whole site; the bear bounded eagerly for the centre, he could definitely smell delicious treats now. They closed in on the rear of the tents and the snake darted to the left, the bear hopped to the right.

Into the bear’s view came a wonderful sight: a low wooden table laden with fruits and vegetables and meats. The bear didn’t know it but the humans intended that the food be cooked and shared among themselves. Instead he thought only of eating every bite he could fit into his stomach. In a final expression of joy the bear leaped into the air and landed beside the table whereupon he gorged himself on the delicious bounty. The meats were thick and raw and he tore at them with glee. The fruits burst with juices and their pulp trailed from the bear’s salivating jaws. Oh, it was bliss!

It did not take long for the belly of the bear to become full and content and he turned and rolled back to rest against the table. Relieved of his terrible hunger and subsequent manic feasting he sighed and looked back towards the tents. He saw three humans in front of the recently and rapidly evacuated large tent. The nearest human was bent at the waist and short of breath; hands on knees and vomiting. The next was hopping from foot to foot with their arms flailing in dumb panic.

By far the most animated human was stepping about in huge strides as if each leg were controlled independently by separate entities with wholly foreign intentions. Their torso was writhing forwards and backwards and from side to side and their hands were raised to their sweating neck which, with her small eyes of golden fire burning and unblinking at the bear, the snake currently occupied.

She was coiled tightly around the human’s neck as it struggled vainly to tuck its fingers between its neck and her scaled belly. The snake had buried her poisonous fangs deep into the human’s neck and was pumping venom into it.

The bear was shocked. “What are you doing that for, snake?” he asked.

“Shut up, bear, I’m busy” replied the snake. “You stay out of this!” The flailing human had bravely, foolishly, reached out a hand to their stricken friend in a weak attempt of removing the snake from their neck. With ferocity and grace the snake loosened her grasp on her human and transferred to the wrist of the fool.

“That’s a bit much, isn’t it?” asked the bear.

The snake shrugged somehow but didn’t reply.

The humans from the lake had heard the commotion and saw the bear at their camp and one of them had ran ashore. It was a male and it was waving its arms and making a lot of noise in an attempt at looking fearsome. The bear stood erect, dwarfing the human, and swatted at its head with his paw. The human hit the floor immediately, raising a splash of pebbles.

Then the bear took to four legs once more and walked back up to the steep path and into the woods. Feeling his stomach nicely filled his thoughts now turned to his home and to the long sleep he now desired. He walked the long path home and set down to sleep a long sleep and not once since the lakeside did he think of the snake.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


In. 7th century AD, please.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


prompt

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Beige
Sep 13, 2004


belated

Beige
Sep 13, 2004



prompt, prompt

prompt?

Beige
Sep 13, 2004



Finally, someone said it.

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Beige
Sep 13, 2004


In

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