My head hurts, i'm sick as gently caress, my throat is dry no matter how much water I drink. My life is misery and my writing is worse. I figure that's enough of a handicap, so in addition to the prompt, I'll take any one of you motherfuckers on. If you want an easy kill, and you're stupid enough to see one in me, let's rock.
klapman? more like krapman
|# ¿ Jan 5, 2016 06:46|
|# ¿ Jan 28, 2023 01:07|
Oh this is a not-quite-brawl? Ok I guess, I'm fine either way
Edit: so yes I am a Mercbromancer, if he'll have me.
Fuschia tude fucked around with this message at 06:30 on Jan 6, 2016
|# ¿ Jan 6, 2016 02:25|
Please Try Not to Scream
In the beginning, there was nothing. Then a blinding light pierced the darkness, and everything was pain and chaos.
* * *
New Man blinked. He was in a new place. Unfamiliar. Light from above was bright. Too bright. He looked down, climbed to his feet.
He wiggled toes. Toes wiggled. Wiggled arm. Arm wiggled. He wiggled head. Head wiggled, blurred vision. Bad idea. Try not wiggle head further.
Examined arm: dark greenish fluid surface, slightly transparent. Picked up item lying in puddle beside him: scrap of crumpled paper. Unreadable. Too blurry.
New Man stood up. Was wearing a dark heavy shawl over his shoulders. Could not remember obtaining this cloth. Who provided these to New Man?
Stepped out of the light. Another light was ahead, shining on a dark surface broken up with a line of gray. More lights visible beyond that one, in a row. Details were indiscernible, too blurry. New Man plodded forward, wet sticky steps. Had been raining lately, or perhaps flood? New Man could not say.
New Man reached the next light. Tried to remember. New Man was real, once. Had a name. Had a family. Had friends and a job. Now, there was nothing. Only dark, wet, and the lights stretching on ahead.
New Man stopped and pressed hands to the side of his head. Felt uncomfortable pressure build in his water skull. His vision focused. Could see a sign up ahead for a brief moment: NARROWS BRIDGE 1 MILE
Narrows Bridge. That’s right. He could remember someone... he had someone... in the Narrows.
A loud machine rushed past. “Poor bastard,” a voice called out from within. A small lightweight cylinder bounced off of his cloak and stuck on the back of his neck. It stayed embedded there. An offering from a fellow traveler? It might come in handy. He adjusted it to a more convenient surface.
One mile. New Man didn’t know exactly how long that was, but he had time. He walked on.
The streets stretched on to eternity. He began to see flickers of movement in bushes, noticed flecks of color and song from the trees. The first light of day streamed down from the mountains with yellow fingers outstretched. New Man could almost recognize some of these street names, he thought. And at a sign reading Willow Ct., he felt the need to turn down that road.
New Man reached a home, bulbous and distended with rooms and windows and split multilevel with rooms piled on top of rooms. The front door opened just as he neared.
“Hello,” the man said. He nodded at New Man with a glance as he walked to the vehicle parked outside the garage.
The man reached the car and stretched his arm towards the door, key in hand. Then he paused with his brow furrowed. He looked up again. New Man was still standing at the end of the driveway.
“Can I help... uh...” the rest of his question was lost somewhere in a hospital in Braintree. He dropped his arm and motioned New Man over. “Why... why don’t you come inside.”
New Man thought that sounded reasonable. He followed the man into the house.
Inside, most open surfaces were covered in paper or food. “Don’t mind the mess,” the man said, as he went for a nearby room. “We haven’t had the cleaners in yet since... oh drat.”
New Man had sat down in a chair at the great table, with a sound something like a water balloon hitting a pillow.
“You... uh... no, don’t worry about that. Do you want a cup of... No, I guess not.” He stared at the can sticking out of the translucent man’s neck.
New Man said nothing.
“Be right back.” The man from outside disappeared into the next room, then reappeared a moment later with a mug and sat down. “Right,” he said to the wet apparition seated before him. “So. Who sent you?”
Besides the opacity of his skin, he looked identical to New Man.
* * *
“You don’t know where you come from?” The man’s mouth hung open.
Newman’s head jiggled. “I was... on a bridge. I walked here. That’s all I remember.”
The man ran his hands through his hair. “I can’t believe that. To just leave you lying out there... They never said anything about this.”
Newman looked up. “Who?”
“The doctors... they said this was a very rare side effect, and most people never meet their... uh...” He looked away.
“Can it be reversed?” Newman asked.
The solid man’s face drained of all its color. “No... No, I...” He sighed. “Let’s start from the beginning. You know about the dischistectomy procedure?”
Newman burbled noncommittally.
“Right. Well, you know that—or, you should, but maybe not—I was born with a weak arm. A doctor said he could fix it, replace it with something new, better. Would work just like the old.” The man absently flexed the fingers on his left arm. “And it does. But the old arm...” He looked away. “I don’t know what they do with the old... with the pieces. They put them to use... somehow. Make the connections for the surgeon to attach on the new piece, I think. I don’t know. But people talk about escapes, of hands not done yet up and walking off, growing themselves a new body. I’ve seen pictures—” The man realized he was staring at his own face across the table. He looked away again. “And. Now. You’re here.” He sat back and closed his eyes.
Newman’s sticky jowls jostled. “What can I do, then? I don’t... I don’t want this, I want my life! I had... something!”
The man opened his eyes. “I don’t know what to tell you. I can’t give you that. Even if the surgery was reversible... even if you could go back to being... just an arm... No. I wouldn’t go back to the way things were, even if we could.”
Newman fizzled softly, then spoke, barely a whisper. “I do remember this house. We had just moved here. The kids were getting to school age and we wanted a good place for them.”
The solid man stared at him. “Yes.”
Newman nodded. A drop of condensation dripped off his nose onto the rug. “Ray.” Yes. He was Ray Ziegler. 42 Willow Ct. Wife and two kids, one more on the way “How long has it been, Ray?”
“Since... the...” The man looked at his left arm. “That was almost three years ago, now. I’m not going back, I’m not...”
But he only watched as if in slow motion as Newman jumped to his feet—sloshed, really—and reached over the table to grab Ray’s arm.
Words died in his throat. He could only watch as the dark liquid flowed over and engulfed his arm. It was warm, a bit sticky, and as it flattened and conformed to his skin it also change its color. It began to take on his skin tone.
Within minutes, it was over. The new man stood and looked out the window at the empty cul-de-sac street. Most of the cars had already left at this time of day. He wanted to change... well, everything he saw out there. But he would start small.
That reminded him. He had a call to make. He took the phone from Ray’s—his—pocket and hit the speed dial. The model was new, but hers was still the number one entry.
A woman’s voice answered. He spoke, an echo of dimly-remembered routine. “Hey Mary, it’s Ray. Is Catherine there?” He tapped the windowsill absently with his left hand. “All right, well, tell her I’m preparing for tonight and she can meet... tell her... tell her I’ll come by to drop something off later today.”
Then he scrolled through his contact list. The numbers for two schools appeared. He highlighted one of them, and pressed “Call”.
Yes, he would bring change.
|# ¿ Jan 19, 2016 04:00|
Well I hosed that up apparently. Also,
Thunderdome CLXXXI: We like bloodsports and we don't care who knows!
|# ¿ Jan 19, 2016 04:56|
The Perpetual Catastrophe that is Cassie James
It was two weeks out from the lacrosse championship and South Little Rock River High was guaranteed one of the slots. They were playing today to determine their seed, to decide who would have home field advantage.
Cassie James would have the spotlight today, she could feel it. She was clumsy and gawky, all arms and legs, but on the field the awkwardness dropped away and she could really fly. The wind whipped through hair as she ran—she passed the ball—her teammate caught it—she threw for the goal—score.
“Good play, Lynn,” she said as they filed off the field after the match. But it hadn’t been enough. They still lost by two points. Coach hardly even acknowledged her after the game.
Blood roared in Cassie’s ears. Time to shower and get ready for math class. The next session bell rang just as she was getting her things together. When she went out, Raoul was standing on the other side of the hallway. Raoul, tall and handsome, with the hard chin and sharp eyebrows. Raoul who had never said a word to her. She was going to talk to him right now.
He looked over as she walked up, with no recognition in his eye. Someone standing in the group with him said something and they all started laughing. Her cheeks burning, she kept walking to class like she never noticed him.
The day dragged on. At last she could trudge home, crawl into bed and drown in her pillows.
Cassie launched herself into training after that. Lived for workouts and lifting. Watched her diet like a raptor stalking its prey. When her family went out for dinner, she had a salad with extra chicken.
She roped her brothers into playing with her. Dave practiced passing and Mike was the goalie. Those sessions rarely lasted more than an hour before they got too cold or tired and went back inside. After one particularly muddy outcome on a rainy afternoon, she was banned from enlisting her brothers in any more games during the school week.
But that wasn’t enough to slow her down. She rounded up the neighborhood to take their place. Even when the neighborhood kids weren’t available, she kept practicing on her own. She set up a target in her room and would practice with soft balls any free time she had, day or night.
Finally, it was the day of the title match. She went into the game with a steel determination. She picked up scraps of rubber from the field and rubbed them between her fingers as the players lined up for the toss-off.
Then they were off. Her school didn’t have the ball. She tried to stay at the front of the line, nudging teammates and opponents alike to get into advantageous position. Not enough to catch the ref’s eye.
Five minutes later, she had her chance. Sticks clashed between players and the ball popped free. She scooped it up and took off across the field, cradling the ball in her stick.
Two big defenders rushed at her from the goal line. She dodged one, just brushing under her jersey. The other slowed down, taking a moment to adjust, just enough time for Cassie to shoot the ball. The goalie was a split second too slow to react. They had first blood.
“Nice playing out there,” Coach Abheimer said when she came off the field. She nodded, sat down, drank the Gatorade. Waited for him to call her back in. One play passed. The quarter ran down.
“Hey, Coach,” she said, as she walked up to him standing on the sidelines. He waved her off.
“Not now, James,” he said. “You did good this week in practice. Don’t worry, I’m waiting for the right time to put you in.”
That time finally came late in the third quarter. “Can I count on you, James?”
“Easy, Coach.” She flashed him a smile. “It’ll be a snap.”
They were down by two points, then three. She never had a chance to get the ball. Nearly had her stick on it at one point, just close enough to feel it bounce off.
Finally, she saw the ball knocked free near her, and she dove for it.
So did a midfielder on the other team. They were both tripped up and her momentum sent her hard onto the other player’s stick.
Cassie lay on the ground for a few seconds. She tried to climb to her feet, using her arm to prop herself up, and the pain was a cargo train tackling her back to the ground.
It was a snap, all right. What happened next was a blur. She remembered later having heard a popping sound at the first impact. It turned out that was her arm: broken in three places.
But maybe it wasn’t all bad. There was a spread of cards set up on the table by her bed, but she only cared about one of them. It was a get well card, and written at the bottom, in an angular scrawl: If you need to talk—and he wrote his number—Raoul. She remembered him looking down at her on the field, asking if she was all right.
Maybe, if she didn’t win, at least she had something to show for it. She picked up her phone with her good hand and started to dial.
-288 words to Crabrock
|# ¿ Jan 25, 2016 04:50|
Thank you Blue Wher and Broenheim!
|# ¿ Jan 27, 2016 15:02|
also am in with
I don't want to know what week it's from
Young, orphaned animals and children come to you. They remain your tireless obedient companions until they can't anymore.
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2016 07:16|
High-Intensity Circuit Training
116) Young, orphaned animals and children come to you. They remain your tireless obedient companions until they can't anymore.
It was nearly lunch break when Noah Stanley came across the first child. He’d been sent to investigate the recent sporadic power surges. While checking the conduits from the main reactor to the south backup, he turned a corner to find a small boy mid-tunnel.
“How’d you get down here?”
The boy didn’t answer. He scratched at his head with a dirty hand.
“OK.” Noah continued down the line, verifying point integrity and recording wire condition. The boy followed, staring. At the end of the tunnel, Noah turned back. “I’m done here. I’m heading back.” The boy kept following.
Noah lived in a tiny crew quarter container, two levels higher. Despite his earlier lack of success, he tried more questions.
“Do your parents know you’re down here?” No one could bring children into the access tunnels.
“How did you find us?” The system wasn’t on any map.
The boy only stared.
The boy nodded.
Noah went to the cold storage and made sandwiches.
They ate in silence. The boy seemed small. Maybe four years old.
Afterwards, Noah stood up. “Let’s go find who you belong to.”
He opened the door to see another child standing outside. A girl, a bit taller than the boy, pouting at him.
“Where did you—”
“Give me back my brother!” She grabbed the boy from the doorway and stomped off.
“Hell of a thing,” Noah said. He went inside to gear back up for work.
Noah didn’t go long without more unusual companions. That afternoon, he found a wall swarming with bees.
Strange. He checked—carefully—the wire conditions. No damage, no gnawing on the lines. He marked it and moved on.
That evening, his doorstep was covered in slugs. He gingerly stepped over them to slink inside.
The next morning, Noah half expected to find a new array of animals outside the door.
Instead, the two children were there waiting.
“We talked about it.” The girl crossed her arms. “And we decided to help you.”
The boy still only stared at Noah.
“You... what?” Noah gave her a bemused look. She didn’t seem much older than her brother, maybe a couple of inches taller, wearing a pale yellow dress that seemed out of place and a blue bow in her hair. “I don’t understand.”
She rolled her eyes. “The electrics. Come on.” She grabbed his rough, calloused fingers in her hand and started pulling. “Show us the problem.”
“The surges?” He started walking. “Thing is, there’s no pattern to ‘em. There and gone in a second.”
The girl nodded sagely. “Let’s go find one, then.”
“I don’t think—”
The boy giggled and ran off ahead.
Noah stopped. “Shouldn’t we look after him?”
“No. He’s chasing something. Maybe what we’re looking for.”
“What’s your name?”
“Where’re you from?”
She gave him a strange look. “Where’re you?”
“Omaha. I work here! This is my job!”
They walked in silence, through darkness interspersed with weak recessed lighting. A buzzing sound grew up ahead—mechanical buzzing. No sound he would expect in normal operations.
He turned on his light and kept moving. The beam slid over the culprits: two seagulls, nesting directly in the conduit.
“Not possible,” Noah muttered.
“Why not?” Lyssa hung back. “They have as much right to live here as you do.”
“No, but... we’re too far underground... not even near any water!”
“They must be so lost and afraid.”
Noah stepped forward. The birds gave a warning hiss. “It’s OK,” he said softly. “But you have to move.”
“Don’t!” Lyssa cried.
He turned to her. “They can’t stay here. They could disturb operations, or dig into the wires, electrocute themselves, shut down this whole quadrant. Do you want that?”
She looked away. “No...”
Noah laid his toolbag open on the floor. Then he carefully picked up the gulls, nest and all. One of the birds crouched down low in the nest. The other glared at him and hissed at every jostle.
He set them inside the bag, then picked it up. “Let’s get them somewhere safe.”
“...Maybe.” For some reason, he didn’t want to sneak the birds onto the surface elevator. He didn’t want to have to explain them to the guard or the inspector. Or to his boss, for that matter.
At home, Noah set up a space on top of the heater for the nest, and laid out some food scraps from earlier. Then he left the door cracked open, just in case.
“Now,” he said, “shouldn’t we find your brother?”
“I know where he might be,” Lyssa said.
They passed swarms of butterflies. A whole wall was covered in beetles. One tunnel was completely blocked by a particularly large, intransigent sheep.
“He must not be down there,” Lyssa said.
Noah shrugged. He followed her back to make a different turn.
The next tunnel was covered in spiders. “Careful,” Lyssa said. But they somehow always scattered away from his foot as he walked, only hitting hard-packed earth.
Every creature they passed was moving in the opposite direction.
“This is the way.” Lyssa nodded.
Noah considered reporting these unusual animals. But he didn’t move for his signaller.
The pulsating buzz grew louder, a palpable force reverberating in the walls. Noah turned the corner and gasped.
Draped across three conduits, lounging like a satisfied cat, was a giant lizard, dark as a moonless night. It stretched from the lines nearly to the ceiling, with great bulging yellow eyes that followed them as they approached. Every so often it bit the conduit and blinked, and a whining sound emanated from the walls. The air was thick with ozone.
“The surges.” Noah stared. “We’ll... have to stop that.”
Lyssa clutched his arm. “Don’t hurt him!”
“Do you... know this thing?”
She frowned and looked away.
“Right.” Noah rooted through his toolbag, then set a few things on the floor. “Not much spare wiring. Gotta be careful... If this goes bad, it could down the whole quadrant.”
He went to work, staying well away from the lizard. It followed him with one eye, keeping the other locked on Lyssa.
First, he had to clamp the main line. Then he sent a shunt to the ground to dissipate excess energy.
“Now, the other side.”
But the creature growled as he approached—even along the far wall—a low rumble that set the lights flickering.
“Lyssa, you’re small... Can you take this across, to the panel beyond that... thing?” He handed her a long metal tool. “I need it put on just like here, and clamp it tight.”
Lyssa looked at him, then at the lizard, and shivered... but she nodded. The lizard’s eyes followed her as she passed, but it remained silent.
Soon, she called, “OK!”
Noah switched on the inverter. The lines between him and Lyssa went dark.
The lizard shook its head, like a giant waking for the first time. It shudder-jumped to the floor, then stalked towards Lyssa on the far side.
But she didn’t.
Noah tried to make sense of it later. After he had gone back to his room to sleep, exhausted from searching the tunnels, and found the birds gone. They left some dishes in the sink and a note thanking him for a place to crash.
Lyssa never ran or yelled. The creature had advanced to her, until she was obscured behind its bulk. But when Noah turned on his light, he thought he saw two dark shapes moving down into the tunnel.
That didn’t go in his report. Or the insect swarms, or the strange children who seemed to know the tunnels better than he did. But after he replaced and reactivated the line, he kept the damaged section with the three-inch bite marks. He wanted to remember.
|# ¿ Feb 15, 2016 06:21|
Hey Pam Nuwen and Thranguy! Thank you for crits, critters!
|# ¿ Feb 17, 2016 05:44|
Crabrock, when you say this:
"This is dialog," she said. This is an example of not dialog. And because the stuff in the quotes is shorter than the stuff outside of them, Crabrock would fail this post.
|# ¿ Mar 31, 2016 05:33|
in and flash
|# ¿ Apr 12, 2016 02:41|
The Dry Times
The drought cut black streaks into the community and everyone who worked the land. And when the rain came at last, it was in torrents that flooded the fields and washed out roads across the county.
When they went out to inspect the damage to the land the next day, Tom and Rae found a white egg the size of a quarter lying in the sand under the fence by the swollen river.
They considered it and debated what to do, but eventually decided to leave it alone, in case its owner might return. They moved on inspecting the property. Money was tight, and there was always more work to do, and now all this damage to fix on top of that.
The next day, they found that the egg had been joined by a partner. Each egg had the same pearl white shell, the same tiny orange speckles dusted around its surface, the same half-buried location in the sand.
But the surrounding sand seemed undisturbed. No footprints to reveal who might have left it there. Only Tom and his wife’s own, from the day before.
“How curious,” Rae said.
“Mmm.” Tom rolled a grass stalk between his teeth.
The next day, when he came out to feed the animals, he noticed that there were now four small speckled eggs perched in the shadow of the fence.
Tom took one of the eggs inside to put it in the refrigerator. He wanted to see if it might behave any differently if he cooked it for breakfast, he told his wife. She nodded sagely from behind her murder mystery.
But when it had developed a partner the next morning, a second egg chilling beside it, he had the first inkling it might be something unusual.
They fried up like any other, though. A faint taste of sulfur, but rich and creamy nonetheless.
And there were half a dozen now in that hollow by the creek, arranged roughly in a circle. They were developing in interesting ways, too—starting to show some differentiation. Orange ridges protruded from their surface, small dull orange crenellations stretching towards the sky.
Then he went to move the stock, and the immediate needs of the farm took priority over investigating. He didn’t think of them again for several days.
But when he came to move the cows in the nearby corral, he noticed they were behaving strangely. The animals kicked and bayed whenever they came to one the edge of their fence, and he remembered the eggs. Sure enough, they were just visible on the other side of the dirt road, a small pile of white and orange eggs.
“Oh, calm down, ladies,” he said. “They’re not going to bother you.” He watched one paw at a post, again and again, its eyes glazed and staring intently. He shook his head. He decided to shutter the field and move them to another corral. No sense growing sour milk.
The next day the pile had grown to reach the first rung of the fence. He called a wildlife expert to get an idea of what might be going on.
“I can’t imagine,” she said. “I’ll be there some time tomorrow morning.”
Dr. Willoughsby showed up the next day after lunch. By then, the pile stretched nearly to reach the second rung of the fence, pushing out in every direction like spiky tendrils. Several of them sat on the very edge of the bank, threatening to slip down into the stream. Judging by the tracks running down the sandy bank, it looked like some already had.
She came with a giant shaggy gray dog nearly as tall as she was. It reminded Tom of a wolf and he shuddered.
“Trying to see if he has a reaction,” see said. “He's my test animal.”
Tom took her to the eggs. The dog didn't seem to show any interest in them. In fact, he whined and tried to run away.
“I’m not sure exactly what species these are,” Dr. Willoughsby said as she peered at one through a handheld magnifying device. “These ridges are sharp and regular, and the orange is so stark. I’ve never seen one of these around here.”
“And the numbers?”
She gave him a sidelong glance. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I weren’t standing in front of this pile. I still half suspect you had a shipment dumped here.”
“No tire tracks.”
“Dumped a big crate, then.” She rubbed her eyes. “No, in some way I can’t imagine… I think your numbers are doubling every day. If I could, I’d like to set a camera and light on these overnight.”
He shrugged. He had some extension lines.
What they found on the video was extraordinary. Soon after midnight, each egg in turn began to shake and rotate in place. Then it seemed to bulge and distend until a duplicate egg popped out beside it.
“Fascinating,” Willoughsby said. “These seem to be undergoing mitosis.” They were all orange now, solid brilliant orange and covered in sharp spines like a puffer fish. This posed some difficulty in picking them up.
But Rae took what she could and brought them inside.
“We have to get money, Tom,” she said with a shake of her hand as if to tell him to stop asking questions before he had even started.
“What are you doing with those?” He eyed the counter and its pile of spiky orange eggs from his reading chair.
“I just made a few phone calls,” she said. “Go back to sleep.”
Tom harumphed and closed his eyes.
He awoke to find the kitchen half-full of eggs. The spines dug into the countertops and adhered to the walls. He tried to move past to the door and brushed against an egg. It cut his skin and slid off, skittering across the countertop and over the edge. He expected a wet slap, but it embedded into the floor.
Breaking the eggs for breakfast seemed like a distant memory. And anyway, the anchor was coming for a story today. They had to keep them around for now. He eyed the orange mass uneasily from above his coffee until it was time.
The door opened and all hell broke loose.
Camera and lights, gaffer and rigging crew trampled all over the house and nearly broke a window. The only place off-limits was the kitchen, covered in orange spiky spheres like an asthmatic’s nightmare.
And when they turned the cameras on, one of the eggs began to shudder and crack. A scaly arm popped out. Then a head. It looked around, sniffed the air twice, then breathed out a gout of flame.
All the other eggs burst into flames like bags of napalm.
|# ¿ Apr 18, 2016 07:00|
Gonna help you all procrastinate with some crits from The Worst Week (#193)
Thank you Maugrim!
|# ¿ May 3, 2016 04:40|
Is it ok to post our entry now or do we have to wait until the signups are over? I'm going to be a bit busy during the weekend.
If you really have to,
Just know you may be mocked for it. Traditionally, more time spent working on a thing has produced better results. Only one first-posted entry in nearly four years of Thunderdome history has ever won.
|# ¿ May 6, 2016 16:42|
In w/ Last Frontier
|# ¿ May 11, 2016 15:24|
The Road to Riches
“Nic, baby, I’m going to make us rich.”
She didn’t look up from her writing. “Not now, Dale. I’ve almost got this.” But she knew it was futile.
He kept talking. He always did. “I’ve got a connection, see, the best, most beautiful wood you ever laid eyes on, logs wide as me, maybe wider!” His eyes popped open for one brief comical moment. “Don’t that sound glorious?”
“Sure does. But what’s the catch?”
“Catch? Aw, honey, you don’t...”
Her look stopped him like a freight train.
“Fine. Catch is it don’t belong to us, exactly. But that’s no big deal, these people are hardly using it and they shouldn’t be in there anyway rightly to think of it, being protected park land and all. No, I’d say we’re practically doing a public service.”
Nic rolled her eyes, but as usual, a morbid curiosity compelled her to ask for more information. “So, what’s the plan?”
“We wait for them to leave for the night, then sneak in there and load up the truck.”
Nic stared at him. “You, uh, you got some friends in mind, Dale?”
He stared back at her, eyes all mystified. “How’s that?”
“Dale, have you been practicing lifting tons of wood on your own? Cause I believe my deadlift is a bit lacking.”
“Aw hell Nic, how do you think them Raestlin boys move it around themselves? They got like cranes and all, move it real easy like.”
“So, even if once you get that stack of wood out, where you going with it? Can’t just walk into a lumber shop and sell a truckload of raw logs.”
“Don’t you worry about that. Frank knows a guy knows a guy. He’ll be able to help.”
Frank Warner was a cop, but the good kind of cop, willing to look the other way if you cut him in on the deal. And he’d helped Dale out on a few of his plans in the past. He was running a speed trap when Dale called.
“I’m not going to be able to help you, here,” Frank said. “Feds’d be on my rear end in a hot minute. Already looking over my shoulder after last month’s catch. They’re poring through my finances. I got to stay low down, at least for now. You know.”
“Listen, Frank, please. I got no other way. My disability check barely lasts half the month. I can hardly feed Zeke and they’re threatening to repossess my truck.”
“Maybe they should. Would stop you from this hell-dumb thing your set on.”
“I got to do it, Frank. I’m hurting real bad. Don’t you know nobody who got I need for wood and maybe won’t care where it came from?”
Frank looked out over the road. No one had driven past for ten minutes. “Yeah, all right. Try Wood & Leather Supply out by Route 1. They might take it. But you’ll have to haul it there yourself. They don’t make deliveries.”
“Christ Frank, that’s a long way to... all right. Well, thanks.”
Breaking onto the work site, well after midnight, was easy enough. The chainlink fence and gate was easy enough to get around, he just rammed straight through. No guards or cameras around anywhere, as far as Dale could tell.
Then he found the first problem: there were no keys in the crane or other crawlers on the site. “poo poo. I didn’t expect that. You know how to hotwire, Nic?”
“No, Dale, I do not know how to hotwire a Caterpillar.”
After spending a few minutes poking around in the frigid damp of near-morning, she retreated back into the residual heat of the truck.
Soon, she was nearly nodding off in her seat. She yelled out of the window. “Dale, you find anything?”
His head appear outside at the driver’s side window a moment later. “Gimme a little longer,” he said. “I wanna search the trailers. Maybe I’ll find keys in one of them.”
“Dale Ripland, I am about to put this thing in reverse and back it into the river. Freezing to death would be preferable to the slow cold torture you are putting me through.”
“Just... just a little longer. Please.”
“You got five minutes to find what you need before I take this truck and get out of here, with or without you.”
“Uh huh, uh huh, right. I’ll be back.” He ducked away.
His head popped up a second later. “What’d you say?” he asked her.
“No. No, it’s not you. There’s someone coming up the road. poo poo, kill the engine, the headlights, Nic get out of there—”
Enrico and his crew didn’t bother to investigate the camp up close. They just saw movement and started shooting.
Someone was in the truck. They fired again.
They walked up to it, slowly, watching. Nothing. Steam hissed from holes in the hood. Rico came to the open door and peered inside. A woman covered in blood, slumped down behind the dash.
He went to shut the door, then thought better of it. He moved in to check around her—she had a whittling knife in her pocket, a phone in the other. That was it.
“All right, Jack, I think we found it.”
Jack was at the far end of the truck. Rico waved him over.
Then he realized he wasn’t Jack—plaid shirt, no hat—and the blast to his chest was an even bigger surprise.
“A quick death is too good for you bastards,” Dale said to the man bleeding out on the gravel road.
He watched until the bleeding stopped.
Then crouched down and searched the man's pockets. For once that night, he found a set of keys.
He climbed into their small black compact and booked out of there.
When Dale showed up at the diner that morning, Frank knew there’d be trouble. Even before he noticed the dark stains on the man’s clothes.
Dale nodded at Frank from the door.
Frank stood up and paid for his food, half eaten on the plate. He knew what he owed.
Dale fixed him with a distant, vacant stare as he walked up. The stare of the condemned man. “Officer.”
“Why don’t we go for a walk.” Frank stepped out into the sun. “How you doing, Dale?”
Dale only stared at the road in front of him with red dry eyes.
“Yeah, I feel that some days, too,” Frank said. “How’s your...” He thought better of asking about his ex. “No, how’s Nic? How’s she doing?”
He eyed the bulge under Dale’s shirt, something tucked into his pants. He hadn’t known Dale to carry before.
Dale looked up then, slowly, up to his face. “You don’t know?”
“Jesus. You don’t.” He started laughing.
“What don’t I know, Dale?”
The man only laughed harder, doubled over, at his question. “I tell you what, Frank, I thought I had this all figured up. You set up this thing last night—”
“I didn’t set up anything!”
“—and you tip off Rico about it—”
“Dale, that’s crazy—”
“Let me finish,” Dale said, low and quiet.
They were near the patrol car, parked on the side of the street. Still in sight of the diner. He could stall. “Go ahead.”
“Why you did that, I didn’t know. Maybe you got a reward for it, maybe just got tired of working with me. Maybe your internal investigators really are heating up like you say and you wanted a little problem cleaned up?”
“Don’t matter. Nic’s dead, Frank. Rico and his goons shot up the truck before I could even start loading it. Were expecting us.”
“Where are those men now, Dale?”
“Right where I shot them, I reckon.”
Was he telling the truth? Frank couldn’t be sure. He hadn’t heard of any shootings on the scanner. But if it was in an isolated location, with no one around...
“Look, Dale. I’ve known you a long time.” They were almost at the car. “I don’t want anything bad to happen. So why don’t you put the gun down and we’ll go from there.”
“Slowly.” Frank had his hand on his hip, touching the service pistol on his belt.
“Nic finished her manuscript last night. You believe that?”
“I don’t want to ask you again, Dale.”
“It’s good, too. She was going to send it out to publishers soon. Once it’s all typed up and pretty, you know.”
“I’m going to count to three.”
“Her first novel. We weren’t expecting to strike it rich or nothing, you know, but it would have been a nice thing.”
“One.” Frank unlatched his gun.
“Just part of her process, you know, her way to adjust to life here, she told me.”
“Two.” Frank drew his pistol.
“Said she finally got it, just last week. Said she knew what she had to do, got what she needed, I guess, to finish it. I don’t really understand it. How that whole thing works. I never could write real good. Not like her.”
Dale leaned forward on hood of the squad, stretching his hands out in front of him with his head down on the hood. “I’m just done, Frank,” he said.
He didn’t move as Frank edged closer and took out his cuffs. Not even when he slapped them on Dale.
“Jesus, Dale, you had me scared shitless.” Frank set Dale’s gun on top of the car and leaned against the side of it next to him.
“I just... if you had been involved...”
“You what? You’d have killed me? You think they wouldn’t track you down, wouldn’t know you from your truck? Then what? Then you’re not just wanted, you’re a cop killer felon! Christ, you’re a dumbass! That’s why I stopped fishing with you, and your dumb rear end always trying to pass off illegal catch, not to mention your lovely skiff almost capsizing every time.”
Dale sighed. “So, now what?”
“Now, we’re going to take a ride.”
|# ¿ May 16, 2016 07:01|
Thanks for the crit, Thranguy!
One's a discouraged oyster farmer with an axe to grind. The other is a quiet, meticulous miniature artist.
|# ¿ May 17, 2016 00:15|
Anyone want to pair up with me or w/e? Message me here or IRC
(how does word sharing work anyway, if someone needs more they can take from the other?)
|# ¿ May 18, 2016 05:53|
goons i need your help
I'm voting Seb. His story made me smile sincerely. Muffin's only made me smile ironically.
|# ¿ May 22, 2016 05:30|
The war was a slow grind of daily indignities, and the rout of the defence forces brought everything to a head. When they heard the occupying soldiers were headed their way, Rosario and Philippe decided they had had enough. They made some arrangements, sold the few possessions they had left, and fled their coastal town.
They traveled on foot when they had to, hitched rides on farm trucks and sympathetic couriers, stayed anywhere that would let them.
In a few days they had reached the border of Béarn, and so had the army.
The pair ran through bombed fields as planes screamed above. They sheltered inside an empty farm house that still had most of its roof intact.
“I don't know how you can trust Professor Port,” Philippe said after the engines above died down to a distant roar. “The man clearly has some kind of ulterior motives.”
“You just say that reflexively,” Rosario shot back. “You project your own insecurities on others. It is not cute.” She licked her thumb and rubbed a spot of ash and soot from Philippe's head.
“Hey, stop that.” He wriggled away from her and walked up to the sink. It was still full of dirty dishes, somehow not broken, unlike most of the furniture in the other rooms, destroyed in the bombardments. “I just don’t trust him.”
“You don’t trust anyone, Philippe.”
“I shouldn’t! They don’t deserve it.”
She rubbed his arm. “But he’s the best hope we have to escape.”
“How far is it to Saint-Jean-de-Luz?”
“A hundred kilometers past the crossroads.”
Philippe peered through the kitchen window. The ground outside was scattered with broken bits and shrapnel. The odd crater from artillery and bombing strikes marked the ruined farmland like pustules. There had been a battle here, maybe more than one. And the area was still unsafe. It was best to move in the dark. They would wait until sundown to avoid any patrols.
They put together a meal, some food brought with them, others scrounged from within the house: canned vegetables and a peculiar hard biscuit. But compared to the fare they had been eating over the last few days, it was ambrosia. They packed several more cans in Philippe’s bag.
They moved into the road under the cover of night. A tense hush fell over the pavement. It was no longer sweltering for once, and even the insects were mercifully quiet and mostly absent.
The forest loomed before them. “How will we know your friend Port out here?” Philippe asked. “We can’t risk giving away our position with lights or radio.”
Rosario nodded and pulled him forward. “I have a call—a whistle. Won’t draw too much attention.”
“I hope not.” Philippe absently patted the revolver at his belt as he walked.
They reached the forest. Everything was deathly still, despite the warm summer air. Their only companions were the odd rustling from the trees—owls, Philippe told himself. There was no breeze.
“Come on—forward—” Rosario beckoned him on. “The crossroad is coming up.”
She came to the crossroads, put her fingers in her mouth, and whistled, a low and quavering sound. Then she looked around for lights—but of course, they wouldn’t be used out in the open, making tempting targets for the bombers.
She tried again, but there was still no response.
“What did I tell you?” Philippe asked through a dark cigarette cloud.
“Don’t smoke out here. They’ll see you.” She crossed her arms. Then she pushed forward into the wet dark limbs away from the road.
“I’ll, uh, keep watch,” Philippe said. He took another drag.
She pushed, deeper into the undergrowth, circling around the crossroad. There was still no sign.
Then she found him.
Port was lying in a ravine off the main trail, breathing heavily. His overcoat and shirt were soaked in blood. He must have been shot several times.
His eyes rolled when he saw her and he tried to sit up.
“No, don’t!” Rosario touched his head, gently.
“I knew we couldn’t trust him,” Philippe said beside her. He cursed and started to walk away. “Our only hope, and he had to...” He stopped and turned, staring intently at the man soaked in mud and blood. “Does he have the papers?”
Rosario ignored him. “It’s ok. You need something? Water?”
The man nodded, hacking wet up into the night.
She gave him the contents of her canteen, filled from the well at the farmhouse that afternoon.
Philippe started pacing. “I don’t like this, Rosario. Who found him? What did he say?”
The old professor shook his head weakly. “No... nothing.”
“Do you know who they were?” Rosario asked.
Port gasped. His words came quiet and rasping. “Didn’t see... were... French supply truck...” He broke into coughing.
“There’s nothing we can do, Rose. Take the papers and let’s go.”
She took the package from inside his jacket. Only a corner of the leather case had been hit, and it hung by a thread. The papers inside were still intact.
“Thank you,” she said. She closed her eyes. They had no first aid supplies.
Port looked up at Philippe and screamed, hoarse and voiceless, agony written bright orange on his face.
“Can you... Can you do something?” Rosario asked.
“What?” Philippe said.
She looked at the gun he carried.
“No. Rosario, I only have six spare bullets after these are through. No more. I can’t afford to waste them on someone who’s dead anyway—”
“R... Rose...” The dying man’s voice was just a whisper. “I... Right ankle...”
She checked. Just above his sock, a small automatic pistol was strapped to his leg. It wouldn’t have much stopping power, but it still would pack a surprising punch.
Rosario took the gun. Then she looked up. “Philippe...”
He only stared at her. Then he turned away.
She put the gun up to Port’s temple and pulled the trigger.
They kept moving. They came to a clearing in the trees. These papers were what they had been hoping for for so long. Philippe opened the case and pulled out the documents to examine them in the light of the waxing moon.
Then he started to laugh.
“What is it?” Rosario asked.
“These papers. They’re not signed! They’re no good to us without an official signature!” He shook his head in wonder.
“Well,” Rosario said. “I suppose we just keep moving, then. Like we have been.”
“Yes.” Philippe was quiet for a time, then he turned back to her. “How is your Basque?”
|# ¿ May 23, 2016 05:45|
Free Crits, Week 198 – Buddy Week. Part II, stories 9-15.
|# ¿ May 25, 2016 05:05|
There's a spelling mistake (aging), a conjugation error (sit) and generally the punctuation is just a mess.
What is this?
Rockers sit. They don't sits. Or sat, for that matter; it's not a tense issue, the whole story is in the present tense.
It is a convoluted 19th century sentence structure. But it's not ungrammatical.
|# ¿ May 28, 2016 23:31|
I yam to jam
|# ¿ May 31, 2016 05:41|
Hello yes I Hello I am sight I think?
Marhsmallow Blue, you are writing about anime. Fuschia Tude, please report to the thread
(much like my writing)
|# ¿ Jun 3, 2016 05:42|
Week 198 Crits - Part 2 of 2
|# ¿ Jun 5, 2016 05:28|
Wednesday flashrule: Sight and Pain
As I sit in the cafeteria at an empty table I know only two things: Potato is the greatest thing known to man. And I have no potatoes.
My potato ration was dutifully received for the week of Five in the Third Year of Councilor Clark. He did not take my potatoes. He does not live here, I think. I have never seen him in these tunnels or working in the grow-pits. He is only on the screens.
No. It was some more pernicious thief. Someone who stole into my dwelling during the sleep-cycle and absconded with all my nutritive wealth. Someone who had the ability to carry out more than fifty potatoes all at once and remove them without ever once waking me.
Mine is not a large dwelling. I do not sleep far from the door, as there is little room. We all have equal dwellings, of course.
Potatoes are not mere sustenance as every child knows. They provide light or Power when wires are attached with the Metals. They are fuel and construction material.
I go for a purposeful walk. I find Worm Raiser Farank in the tunnel to the Health Station. I inquire with him as to the whereabouts of my potatoes. I am not well-received and inquire more vigorously. Farank protests with his fists and I magnanimously give way that he might move on as is his wont.
The side of the head hurts but it is nothing compared to the hunger-pain. I have not eaten today. I have no potato. Potato is all. Potato is life.
The tunnels are dark due to the Rationing. There is little Power now to go around and around, and so we must all make sacrifices for the good of the Hole System. I wish I had a potato-light to see by. But I have no potato.
I come to the Health Station.
There are no potatoes inside.
I inquire with the Head Nurse Roberts as to potential whereabouts of my Potatoes. He says no, there are no potatoes here and he has not seen my potatoes. I thank him and continue searching under the desks and inside the cabinets. Head Nurse Roberts requests that I leave. I thank him and look in the Sick-Rooms.
The patients are not hiding potatoes, probably. They have no pockets being worn. I am led out of the Health Station by Head Nurse Roberts by the arm. It leaves dark red marks on my arm. The marks take several painful minutes to recede.
I continue down the tunnel. Now it opens onto the Research Lab. We are not allowed into the Research Lab. They say we will contaminate the samples and ruin the research. How can we contaminate the samples? I am not sick. I am fine. The research is for the good of the community and improving the Lives. How can we ruin the research?
I tap vigorously on the glass of the Research Lab. I can see potatoes in the Research Lab. They are on the tables in the middle of the room. They are not my potatoes, they are blue. But I am hungry and I am not thinking so clearly when I am hungry.
An angry face appears in the window. She looks like she is yelling at me but there is no sound. I watch her yell for a minute.
I point at the potatoes. This makes her mad and she makes the mouth-movements again.
I have not found my potatoes, still.
I continue down the tunnel. It curves back towards the common area.
I pass a woman with a bundle. I have seen her in the grow-pits, I think. I inquire with her as to my potatoes and receive no response. I request to please examine the contents of that parcel, louder. She is not happy and swings the bag at my head. I dodge it mostly and grab it and now I have the bag. I start to run. I do not have a destination.
I reach the common area and look around. The light is low, even here: we must all make the sacrifices. Some people are sitting and looking at me and the bag I hold over my head. I take it to a seating area and sit down and open it. It is full of hard thin boxy things with some shiny straight lines on one side of them.
They are not credit chits? But something like big credit chits? I am confused.
I go to my dwelling. It is not my sleep-cycle but I return to bed regardless. I am not, will not be productive today. Possibly I can trade these big chits for potatoes? Surely there is someone who has excess potatoes but yet longs for big lineated chits.
I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling. Sleep eventually comes like the thief in the night who stole my potatoes.
There is a strange sound. Again. Banging. I climb out of bed. Someone is banging on the door.
I open it. People burst through and surround me and pull me to the ground. I express my displeasure. I receive a knee on the neck in response. I can see nothing but dirty footprints on my floor.
I keep my displeasure to myself. I am a “thief” and a “danger to the community”, they say.
I am a “victim” and an “aggrieved party,” I explain.
But I am bound in biting tight restraints and silenced. I am marched out of my home in full view of the colony. The people stare and the people loathe. Likewise.
I am brought to the Health Station and the Health Injections are brought to me. The needles stab. I do not like this but I avoid much complaint. The bindings have made sure of this. My arms grow heavy my head drops I just wanted to know who took my potatoes? I’ll find my potatoes... one day... one day...
|# ¿ Jun 6, 2016 02:01|
|# ¿ Jun 8, 2016 01:14|
In with Weet-Bix (105 calories).
eat it kiwis
|# ¿ Jun 14, 2016 05:23|
THUNDERDOME CCII: THUNDER-O-S!
So when is thing due. when is signups
|# ¿ Jun 15, 2016 05:41|
Thank you and sitting here
|# ¿ Jun 19, 2016 18:33|
In with Weet-Bix (105 calories).
Flaked Wheat and Spilled Milk
“No, I won’t eat that muesli.” A small hand slams down on the table. Spoons rattle. “I want Weet-Bix.”
“OK, Robbie, but we’re out,” I explain. For the third time.
Robbie’s eight years old and a real hard case. Seems formed out of fish bones and scruffy hair. I don’t know what to do with a ten-year-old. I never really did, with him. But I have to make do now, after what happened.
I have plans for us for the weekend: museum (‘cause it’s free), beach (also free), play some footie. Something to get us to Monday and school again. But first things first.
He’s got to eat his muesli.
“I don’t want it.”
“Why not? You never had a problem eating it before, mate.”
“I want that.” His eyes snap up and he points to the box of Weet-Bix tucked into a corner above the fridge.
His mum had liked to eat Weet-Bix with peanut butter. She always kept a biscuit bagged up in her purse, no matter where she went. That’s the last box she bought. She took the first one from the box before she got in the car, that one morning.
I don’t say any of that.
“No, that one’s Dad’s. How about some eggs, yeah? You like scrambled eggs. And sausage, aye?”
“I don’t want eggs. I don’t want sausage. I want Weet-Bix.”
“No! It’s not an option, all right? There’s none left. It’s an empty box. Now let’s move on.” I look around the kitchen. “How about toast and jam?”
No response. He sits glumly in his chair, kicking the table leg.
“Right. Well, let me know when you want a feed. I’m going to relax in the music room. Then we’re going to the museum this afternoon, so you will be eating lunch. Give it a think, aye?” I need to go cool down.
Rob’s a good kid, I think. We’ve had it tough lately, trying to put food on the table, taking whatever odd jobs I can find. Shifts at Woolie’s have been drying up lately. I know it must be hard on the kid. I don’t want it like that but it is.
I switch off the music player and walk back into the kitchen. “Hey Robbo, sorry about earlier—”
He’s half-way through a bowl of Weet-Bix with milk. He looks up at me, then back down at the bowl.
“What’d I tell you about those??” I don’t think. I fling the bowl across the room. Milk splatters across the hardwood.
Robbie doesn’t respond. He just stares at the table.
“What did I tell you?” I’m in his face, now. The boy’s provoking me.
“You said it was empty!” He’s mad.
“That... was your mum’s! That was her last box! How could you do this?”
Robbie pushes away from the table and walks out. The door slams. I hardly notice.
I sit in his seat. Face down on the table. Nose first.
Robbie would be coming back. He always does. But for the first time I can remember—since the accident—I break down and cry.
|# ¿ Jun 20, 2016 03:28|
There’s a cinematic pulp caper spin to this story, and I think the story’s workable. It just needs to focus on the core dynamic here, especially at this length. The story doesn’t work right now because its structure makes it very hard to invest in what’s going to happen. Narrowing the focus and including more descriptive blocking (and tightening up the mechanical issues) would do a lot to make this story work.
Thanks! Huh, I didn't even remember this story at first, I had it mixed up with my next one.
Paying it forward for ... kurona_bright:
Eh. I'm left without much more understanding after reading the story than I did before. Nothing is really given any weight: what did Tom do? Why does it matter that his name is cleared? Who is Ray and what is this place and why is he protecting it? Municipal something? Why are both characters immortal, and unable to recognize each other or this fact, except actually they can and they do?
Not to mention the fact that the protagonist is immortal takes all stakes away because what's the worst that can happen?
You have some nice turns of phrase sometimes, but this really needs a restructuring, focusing on making all the facts clear. Right now it's just muddled.
|# ¿ Jun 21, 2016 03:05|
buddy crits pt2
|# ¿ Jun 30, 2016 05:16|
Thunderdome Week 206: WHIZZ! Bang! POW! Thunderdome!
In me, me, thank
|# ¿ Jul 13, 2016 03:37|
You want me to rewrite my first Thunderdome story? Well if you insist...
|# ¿ Jul 14, 2016 01:39|
Protect this with your life! in the Jungles of Yucatán.
“Take this.” The old man pressed a gold cross on a silver chain into the boy’s fingers. His hands were dry and rough like sandpaper. Air rasped in his throat.
“And one more thing. Iker. He’s your brother, you know you have to protect him, now. Watch out for him...”
The boy nodded and rubbed away tears.
¤ ¤ ¤
José Maracaibo worked for a construction firm in his hometown. He was overseeing the excavation into one of the cenotes, from a chamber just above. Communities had used them as a natural source of water for centuries, if not longer.
He peered into the screen, showing mostly darkness. Somewhere down there, the bore drill was cutting into the earth.
“You find the face of God in there yet?” It was his brother Iker, wearing his usual smirk. “You stare into it enough.” Iker was the reason José joined this company, to keep an eye on him. Why he didn’t go off to university.
“Nah bro, just looks like the devil’s rear end in a top hat.”
Iker laughed and sat back on the floor. But there was a sudden rumbling from deep below, and José’s feed cut out.
“poo poo,” he said. “We’re going to have to go see what happened down there.”
“I’ll do it.” Iker jumped up. “It’ll give me something to do.”
José was sending the command to move the driller out of the way. “Wait!” he cried, looking up. But Iker was already gone. He double-checked that everything was locked, then followed.
¤ ¤ ¤
José shone his flashlight around the hole. Steam hissed from the borer like a wounded cat. There was nothing visible here, just dark and wet. A sluice stream ran down the side of the borehole.
No sign of his brother. The tunnel dead-ended here, at the sharply sloping hole the machine had been digging. “Don’t tell me you fell down there and killed yourself...”
With his light, he could just barely make out a surface, far down the borehole. They had apparently broken through into a cavern, one that didn’t appear on any map.
“Iker!” he called down. “Are you down there, you son of a bitch?”
He inspected the hole. The edges crumbled, and water leaked from the side nearest the entrance.
José sighed. He had a long rope here. The digger would serve as an anchor.
Slowly, he began to lower himself.
He approached the cavern proper. It was much bigger than he first thought, falling off to darkness in every direction. The rope ended just above the corner of a ledge. He swung, nearly there... and dropped.
He hit the ledge hard, stopped his sliding with his hands. The rock’s surface was rough and jagged. There was something caught in the side of the ledge: a piece of white cloth with black dots. Iker’s bandana. He had been here.
José called out again. Still nothing.
He circled the ledge. There was another one lower down, maybe six feet or so. And it looked like there was a passage leading away from it, into the wall of the cavern. He lowered himself down, gritted his teeth at the strain, and let go. Stalagmites snapped under his feet.
He turned his flashlight on the space around him. There was movement in the depths, writhing in some impossible way, like crowds in a music concert, but all silent. They were millions of small dark fronds, like undersea anemones, gently swaying in the air as if buffeted by invisible winds.
José shuddered. He ducked into the passage.
The tunnel curved, circled around, but always descending. The air grew warm and humid.
As he came to a turn, there was a flickering light up ahead. José turned off his flashlight; he had just enough light to see by. Some vibrating deep hum was coming from ahead. He moved to the opening and looked out into another huge cavern.
Natural pillars supported a massive ceiling, wider than a stadium. The walls were dotted with alcoves and ledges. Torchlights cast weird dancing fields of light and shadows across their surfaces. The ground was packed full of... children? All small, similar haircut, little clothing. And all of them were looking away from his opening, all facing the stone platform on the opposite side of the room, carved from dark cubes of stone. And there, on top, surrounded by more of these strange people, his brother Iker.
A cry died, choked in his throat. He had to do something! He had his little revolver with him, as usual. “You never know,” he always said. But it would be useless to fight so many.
There was movement and aggravated voices coming from the alcoves above. José must have been seen. He decided now was his time to move. He walked out into the crowd and called out—“Hey, Iker!”
The strange people around him jumped and moved away instantly, chattering in a language he had never heard. His brother looked up, then his head fell down once more. Had he heard him?
Some bigger people—they still only came up to his shoulders—started to march him to the dais. They were wordless, emotionless. Their eyes avoided him.
José walked onto the wide flat platform at the back of the cavern. His brother was tied to a wall in the back by some set of lines—were they vines?
“I’ll get you out,” he told his brother.
A big man, covered in black and white paint, took plodding steps forward, and José moved. He took aim at this man who must be the leader.
No reaction. Not even a flinch.
He dropped his revolver at the last second and shot at his feet. He missed, hit only stone, not exactly his intent. But there was a great shower of sparks and stone chips rained down over the crowd. The painted man cried out and jumped back.
The guards that had led José up here looked at each other uneasily. The crowd began to mutter and moved away from the platform.
He untied his brother and Iker nearly fell to his knees before he steadied him. “Can you walk?” he asked.
“Yes...” Iker stood, swaying, when José let go.
The two began to walk.
Then the painted man charged, screaming and brandishing a club studded with small black blades. José whirled and grabbed the man—Iker wobbled but stayed upright—wrapped his arm around the man’s neck and ground his elbow into the man’s arm until he dropped the club. He kept his gun on the man as he edged down, with him under one arm, and Iker leaning on the other.
The crowd parted. By the time they reached the tunnel, the cavern was neartly empty.
“Keep him?” José asked. The man chattered at them, something angry and visceral, like a caged animal.
“I think... no,” Iker said. José kicked the man out into the hall, and they ran.
¤ ¤ ¤
“I don’t think I can make that,” Iker said to José, staring at the ledge above.
“I can jump and pull you up.”
“You won’t reach.” Iker looked around wildly. Shouting and clattering noise grew from the tunnel.
José tried it anyway. He reached down—“Take my hand!”
Iker stared. “I can’t!”
“Iker! I am not leaving you!” Then José had an idea. He undid and whipped off his belt. “Grab it!”
Iker took one look down and jumped for it. He hung, swinging, twisting in the air as the tunnel disgorged people. Then, with a grunt, José wrenched him up to the ledge.
They both lay panting on the cold stone.
“They can’t jump that, can they?”
“I don’t think so,” José replied.
“You really come down that rope?”
“I did. Hope you can climb, because I’m worn out.”
“Brother, I need to sleep about a week after this,” Iker said. But he took to his feet.
José started to climb. Iker waited for the rope to swing back to him, then joined his brother in climbing.
The people below spit and shouted, waving hands or clubs. One tried to jump for the ledge, his fingers just touching the surface, before falling and disappearing into the field of soft writhing things below. His cry was muffled, cut short.
José reached the top, waited for his brother to put his hands on the mouth of the hole, and wound the rope up behind him.
“So, what do you think?” José asked. “Will this one work for water?”
|# ¿ Jul 18, 2016 05:59|
Week 206 Crits
Thank you for your critique.
|# ¿ Jul 20, 2016 03:02|
Thank you for the crit!
|# ¿ Aug 16, 2016 06:26|
To Make an Omelet
Rosa first found Egg the day she broke her leg. It was the day she was supposed to have her photograph taken with Mummy. She ran off and hid in the garden, listening as the cries of her name grew quieter and less insistent.
Rosa crawled out of her hiding place under the porch by the old tree and climbed into its branches. She remembered thinking what an odd thing it was to see a white egg perched so high up in the branches, and no nest around. It was only just visible, obscured by the branches above her. But when she tried to reposition herself to get a better view, she couldn’t. It was like it disappeared. And just as she was getting comfortable she would see it again, on a branch out of the corner of her eye.
There was such a nice breeze that day, and the sun shining through the leaves was so inviting. There was no worrying about her dress or keeping her hair straight and clean and tidy up here. She stretched out on one of the wide branches and fell asleep.
When Rosa next woke up, she was in bed, but she couldn’t move. Her leg was in a cast. She looked around and saw a little white egg sitting on the sill by the window. She reached over to touch it and it moved.
It wobbled like jello and scooted out of her grasp. This was a new development and she wasn’t sure what to do with it at first. She had never encountered an egg with its own free will before.
Rosa quickly grew tired of lying in bed. She picked up the thermometer from the bedside table and threw it in the direction of the egg, a small act of defiance. Mummy would yell at her, but she didn’t care.
But something happened. The thermometer never hit the egg, or the wall behind it. Instead, the egg moved. A pale yellow appendage, almost a hand, reached out from the egg and enveloped the glass tube.
“Ha!” Rosa cried. The egg slowly floated over to the window and deposited the thermometer on the sill. Then it zipped away out of sight.
“Oh, where are you going?” Rosa asked.
The egg appeared a moment later with a plush rabbit—her favorite. “Mr. Jandal!” She snuggled her face into its course fur. Within minutes, she was asleep.
The egg shimmered above her bed.
Egg was around Rosa almost constantly over the next few weeks. It was a small white oval, about the size of her fist or a bit larger, floating a few feet off the ground. She talked to it, and it would move around, bobbing in the air slightly as if it understood what she was saying.
Egg had the habit of turning into other things whenever she felt a need—folding in on itself and unwrapping, exposing its golden yellow center for a moment as its outsides reconfigured. Then it assembled itself into its new form, serving as a knife for jam or a missing teacup. “You’re so very helpful, Egg,” she said, and topped up Big Dolly and Little Dolly's cups.
He never complained, never asked for food or water. She didn’t think to ask how he lived. He simply was.
Egg always seemed to hide whenever adults were around—Mummy came with food or the doctor paid a visit. They talked at her, gave food and water, moved and poked and pulled and shifted her, explained exercises she would need to perform to help build her strength, then left. And Egg would pop out of some corner of the room after a minute or two.
“Egg, do you want to go outside and play?” He turned into a yellow ring, slowly rotating end over end, in the middle of the room. “I don’t know what that means.” She sighed.
By now, her cast was off; she could stand, unsteady on her crutches. She wasn’t supposed to be standing too much. She was standing too much. She didn’t care.
“I do so wish you could talk. I could learn some real things about the world outside, what you do when you’re not here with me.”
Egg, back in his white oval shape, floated down to eye level and stayed there, silently wobbling in front of her.
But Rosa was outside the next day. She went out furtively, at first, but Mummy wasn’t too angry when she found out, and decided that the exercise might be good for her.
Rosa tried running in the garden and fell down; got up and tried again; fell again. But she quickly recovered her stride, and was moving again nearly as fast as walking.
The doctor was amazed at her progress.
She saw Egg less and less. She shifted to needing only one crutch, and Mummy said soon she could walk without it. (She did that sometimes, anyway. But it was too tiring to walk for long without it.) One day, she realized it had been days since she had seen him.
Rosa pushed that aside. School was starting soon, and she needed to get ready. She had to look nice for her photograph.
|# ¿ Aug 22, 2016 04:01|
|# ¿ Jan 28, 2023 01:07|
To Make an Omelet
Thanx for crit spex
|# ¿ Aug 23, 2016 03:47|