Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
«118 »
  • Locked thread
BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


alright i'm in. I've always wanted to be a unique snowflake

but I don't want any of your free extra words

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

SkaAndScreenplays
Dec 11, 2013

by FactsAreUseless


IN:

sebmojo posted:

its just a little thing I call having a brain florp

e: flash rule for anyone who wants it, mushroom zombie apocalypse, no zombies
A sentient fungus contemplates the peculiarities of its host as folds her individuality into the fungal hive mind.

SkaAndScreenplays
Dec 11, 2013

by FactsAreUseless


IN:

sebmojo posted:

its just a little thing I call having a brain florp

e: flash rule for anyone who wants it, mushroom zombie apocalypse, no zombies
A sentient fungus contemplates the peculiarities of its host as folds her individuality into the fungal hive mind.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Clapping Larry

SkaAndScreenplays posted:

IN:

A sentient fungus contemplates the peculiarities of its host as folds her individuality into the fungal hive mind.

yes

signups closed, no more pitches

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5642

Djeser fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2017 around 20:23

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



Edit: Reworking this.

Mrenda fucked around with this message at May 5, 2017 around 17:23

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

With love's light wings did I o'er-perch these walls,
For stony limits cannot hold
H U L K A M A N I A

SUPER SUMMERSLAM
THUNDERDOME 2019


Pomegranate Seeds
https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5644&...megranate+Seeds

Thranguy fucked around with this message at Dec 7, 2017 around 01:55

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Broken Dreams

1500 words

As he did almost every night, Kid fell into the fabric of the Dream. He soared over the towering skyscrapers of Moonlight City, watching his reflection in the burnished gold facades that clad their black onyx walls. No one drove the tangled snarl of overpasses and right-of-ways that wended around (and sometimes through) the empty buildings. They hung in the air unsupported, deserted, with the milky white of the ever-present moon reflected in their polished quartz surfaces. Not a single beckoning light shone out from the close darkness between the tomb-like monoliths.

He knew he shouldn't keep Foreman waiting, but he'd never been to Factory before so he couldn't just blink there. Besides, the mysterious city had fascinated Kid ever since the first time he laid eyes on it. He lingered, floating slowly in the enormous emptiness within those faded art deco skeletons, wandering through businesses and penthouses and apartments that hungered for purpose, built from the stuff of the Dream for a people who never were. The poignancy of this thought struck him more keenly than it should have, for he did not relish the errand that brought him here this night.

Soon, Kid passed from the shrouded spires of Moonlight City into the bright grandeur of the Suspended Span, its sturdy silver cables glistening as it swayed in the warm breeze over the murky waters of the Great Aqueduct. He longed to fly past the picturesque marinas and fishing boats of Bay Beach all the way to the shores of the Sunset Sea and the welcoming alabaster opulence of the Wavebreak Hotel. He looked out that way, and for a brief moment he could almost see the myriad hot air balloons that thronged the skies there, luminous in the orange scintilla reflected from the surface of the gentle ocean. Alas; he shook away his momentary weakness and set off for cold, bleak Factory.

Kid touched down in a drift of soft, almost feathery snow. A steel sky loomed over a sprawling tableau of smokestacks and rust. The parking lot just outside Factory's wrought iron gates was empty save for a cerulean Challenger which vibrated softly while it idled. Foreman sat atop its hood pouring two steaming mugs of aromatic coffee from his thermos. Kid simultaneously relished and dreaded his meetings with the grizzled old man teaching him the ropes of this strange world; he had never in his waking life tasted such an exquisite brew, so he relished the one cup Foreman gave him and dreaded returning to a world where it didn't exist.

Foreman's thick blue work clothes and knit skullcap had already collected a nice dusting of snow by the time Kid hunkered down next to him, but the expected gruff chastisement never came. He was allowed instead to drink his coffee in peace while the relentless snow wrapped him in a blanket of muted white. Foreman glanced at his young student and laid a callused hand on his shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

“I can't believe he's done this,” whimpered Kid.

“I know.”

“There's got to be a way to bring him back, Foreman! You know what happens to people who don't dream!”

“Look, Kid. Seeker knew the job would fall to us and yet here we are. I don't know how long he'd been planning to go over to the Nightmare but the thought of you an' me didn't stop him. That's enough for me to forget I ever knew his sorry rear end.”

“He's good, though,” said Kid. “I don't want to fight him in Oldtown or the...the...”

“If he tries something like that...well let's just say that it were me who taught 'im, not the other way around...” He trailed off ominously. “It'll take both of us, though,” he continued after a moment's thought. “Did you do what I asked?”

Kid shuddered. “Yeah. It's just where you said it would be.”

“It'll be a nasty surprise for him, but it's what he deserves. Let's go.”

* * *

One moment, master and student sat in the snow, grieving together for their fallen friend. The next moment, they found themselves driving down the rain-slicked streets of idyllic Honeywell, a woodsy little neighborhood drowsing away eternity in perpetual Summer twilight. The scent of honeysuckle and cut grass drifted in through the open windows, caught by the late-afternoon breeze. The road cut into a terraced hillside and ascended onto a street of tatty dwellings overlooking town. Bright yellow light radiated from the windows and open door of the most ramshackle house in the row, and faint music and laughter echoed down into the valley below. This was Seeker's place.

Foreman let the Challenger drift to a stop and immediately phased through the door while Kid simply tweaked the Dream and appeared next to him mid stride. His teacher smiled approval at him and clapped him on the back. Kid still had trouble controlling the Dream sometimes, but Foreman excelled at guiding him and Kid flourished. They felt confident they could end the threat their erstwhile comrade represented to the sanctity of the Dream. However, for all of Foreman's wisdom and all of Kid's natural brilliance, neither of them even came close to suspecting that Seeker hadn't been caught unawares.

* * *

“Foreman! Kid! You made it!” The breeze picked up into a more forceful gust just then, tousling Seeker's soft, curly brown hair and catching his silver triskelion necklace as he pulled them both into an embrace. “Have some beers!” he exclaimed happily.

“We can't, Seeker.” Foreman's gravelly voice came out low and solemn, barely audible. “We're here because--”

“You did remember--ah yes, there they are!” The roguish young man snatched an elaborately embossed card from Kid that he hadn't been holding before. Foreman looked quizzically at a similar one that had sprung into being in his hands. “I love you both but it wouldn't be fair to let you in without them!”

“Yeah...right.” A haze of confusion settled over Kid.

“Go on inside then!” The sounds of fun and enjoyment emanating from the dilapidated old house deepened into a feverish, guttural chanting. Cloaked figures clustered around them, pushing them towards the gaping front door, now a flat sheen of liquid black.

“So this is what you've become?” Foreman's voice, thick with disgust, instantly broke Seeker's spell. White hot rage flooded Kid and burned the cobwebs from his mind.

“You mean it's actually true?” he screamed. A flurry of fists and feet erupted from him, driving Seeker to the ground under an impossible number of merciless blows. He felt the fabric of the Dream coalescing around his intent to break Seeker, and each fist that thudded into flesh hit harder than the last.

“That's enough” said Foreman, catching Kid's arm as he made ready to shatter Seeker's eye socket. “Now help me gather him up. I can't blink three people by myself and it's a long way back to Factory.”

Seeker gurgled something as they hoisted him to his feet. “What did you say, traitor?” growled Kid.

“I said...” Seeker spat a tooth into the grass with a sardonic chuckle. “I said I can blink three people.” Then he punched a hole into the Nightmare and dragged them through.

“NOW, KID!” roared Foreman into the gibbering void. Together, they wrenched control of the Nightmare away even as the nameless horrors came to strip them of their sanity. As one, they held their terrifying destination clearly in their minds, feeling its utter finality, the weight of the blasted stones, the wretchedness of its inmates. Making it real.

Seeker lay before them, illuminated by a circle of sickly green light. Red eyed things skulked in the pitch blackness just outside. A sudden piercing shriek ripped a jagged hole in the menacing hush. Seeker jerked awake.

“Where?” he spat.

“You think you're the only one been to the Nightmare?” Foreman dragged himself over to face Seeker through the bars. “You might know a little bit but I guarantee you ain't never been here. Welcome to the Dread Prison.”

Seeker's defiant sneer dissolved into horror. “You can't do this! The doctors won't know...”

“You should have thought of that before.”

“I'm in a loving coma, Foreman!” Seeker grasped frantically for the bars, accidentally lurching towards the darkness as he did so. A cacophony of hungry chittering swelled around him; he stumbled back into the light.

There was nothing else to say, so Foreman and Kid blinked away to a balloon drifting over the waters of the Sunset Sea. Watching the waves lap at the foot of the Wavebreak Hotel, they scanned the gleaming terraces of bungalows and cafes that crawled up the sides of the twin cliffs into which the Wavebreak was sculpted, nudging each other when they saw something that looked interesting.

They met there again the next night, and the night after that. Eventually, the Nightmare faded.

RandomPauI
Nov 24, 2006



Grimey Drawer

I'll probably take a forfeit. Family stuff that has been in the background is in the foreground now.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Chocolate tastes bad,
also fuck you <3

Souvenir
1343 words

Living in a shared apartment with a total stranger was exactly my idea of hell. When it turned out my new roommate was a cheerful Mormon kid who didn’t so much as drink beer, I fell further into gloom. I wanted an adventure, but I wanted it to be on slightly blurrier terms- a drunken Bangkok romp, bleary cheers with giggling Tokyo hostesses. Being stuck in a bland, dirty suburb where the only other English speaker was an excitable Jell-O enthusiast who went to bed at nine? That wasn’t at all what I had planned.

So, when Jason accidentally brought home a fistful of psilocybin mushrooms, I seized my chance.

He was yammering about his super-interesting trip to the wet market and dumping mushrooms into a colander when I noticed a flash of blue.

“Hold up!” Breathless, I counted them. Almost ten, and in a dry season- I could be hosed up for an entire day. “Do you know what these are?”

He looked at the zombie-colored fungus, then at me. “Well,” he said dryly, “You look awfully excited. I guess I got more than my money’s worth?”

I had no desire to be fired- where else but China would my fake credentials get me a job? - but I also felt bad about lying to the dope, so I just said, “Uh, yeah. I mean, these are magic mushrooms, you know?”

“And they just fell in my bag?” Jason shook his head. “China never fails to surprise me.” He stuck the colander back under the tap and started washing the mushrooms again, minus my handful of glory.

I stood there for a minute, waiting for him to tell me to flush them or something, but he just kept cleaning vegetables. Finally, I said, “So, uh, I guess I’ll throw these out.”

“Sure. Thanks, Dana.”

Once in the bathroom, I shoved the whole bunch in my mouth, trying to kill the taste with equally foul swigs of an orangey sports drink. I covered my occasional gags with running water and emerged serenely, shining with feigned virtue. I felt cool. I’d done mushrooms a time or two before; Jason would never figure it out.

Of course, about two hours later, I was lying on the floor and describing the patterns I could see in the ceiling. “An umbrella, but the umbrella keeps expanding and then melting into rain, and the rain evaporates and becomes a new umbrella, and then sometimes these neon pink dots go zooming by…”

I was beyond trying to pretend everything was normal, or worrying if Jason would call our boss. The red lights topping the neighboring buildings were bigger than watermelons, winking in and out. The floor was breathing. There were faces appearing in the dirt smudges on the walls. I was exploding in a never-ending flow of words, everything in my brain hitting my lips and jumping into Jason’s ears.

Jason just sat next to me on the couch, listening. Sometimes he would make a comment, but I was speeding around him in circles of chatter too fast to acknowledge anything. I could see the words as they shoved past my lips: ButIreallydon’thknowhowthedotsknowwheretogo!

Finally, things started slowing down, pulsing instead of speeding. I stopped babbling, dazed, my eyes feeling crystalline with unshed tears. Finally, Jason spoke. “How do you feel, Dana?”

“I’m okay.”

“Do you feel better than you did before you took the mushrooms?”

A silly question. “Yeah, man, this is great. It feels great.” I looked at him. “I should have made you try it.”

He just smiled and continued, “I noticed you don’t seem very happy here.”

“Well…”

“It’s okay. I don’t always like it here, either.”

I reached up and grabbed a throw pillow, squeezing its velour chub under my head. “You speak Chinese, though. And you know people. I only know you, and we have nothing in common.”

He didn’t seem offended. “I suppose that’s true. I’m sorry you haven’t been having a better time, though.”

“It’s just so weird here. People stare at me all the time. I went to the grocery store yesterday and an old woman went through my shopping basket. She took my drat pineapple!”

Jason laughed. “I lost a pair of running shoes that way. Little old lady grabbed them, ran off yelling about their enormous size, and disappeared.”

I laughed until I was dizzy. Then I said, “See, this is fun. Why don’t we always have fun like this?”

“You’re not usually on drugs.”

“Oh, man, I used to be.” My head lolled. “In college…when I was backpacking…man, they put weed on your pizza in Cambodia. It was crazy.”

“So why did you come here?”

I had no real answer for this question. “Just something to do, I dunno. I heard there was this great backpacking culture here, but it’s mostly in Yangshuo. I couldn’t find a job in Yangshuo.” I sat up. “Why did you come here?”

“I did my mission here. That’s the only reason I speak Chinese, actually.” Jason smiled. “I know you think this apartment is a shithole, but you should see where I lived my first year here. Nothing but mold, and the door didn’t lock properly. I used to pile books in front of it before I went to sleep.”

“Haha, did you have to go door-to-door in your shirt and tie, too?”

“No, I don’t want to go to jail for proselytizing,” he said with only minor irritation. Then he chucked a pillow at me. I screamed louder than necessary and covered my face. “I was teaching English, idiot.”

I covered my face. “Everything sucks here,” I said through my fingers. My elbows weighed ten tons. “It’s so loving dirty and gross and everyone sounds like they’re screaming. I thought I could handle it, but I don’t think Asia works for me without drugs.”

“Is that why you came here?”

“I guess. I mean, I thought having a regular job would kind of straighten me out, and China seemed remote enough that I couldn’t really imagine being high here.”

“So, you wanted to stop?”

“I wanted to be able to enjoy myself without chemicals, but I don’t seem to be capable of it. I’ve been high for basically ten years. I need money, like, stability…” I trailed off and blinked before looking back at Jason. “Yeah, that’s really it. I needed some stability. I thought I could trade one for the other.”

“Would it be better for you if I moved out?”

I sat up suddenly. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I heard you complaining about me to your friend on Skype the other night.”

Ashamed, I looked at my hands. They looked old under the lovely fluorescent lights. “I should keep my mouth shut.”

“Or your voice down,” Jason said mildly. “It’s not the first time someone’s called me a shithead, anyways.”

I sighed and cracked my neck. The little neon tentacles in my brain were starting to tickle less. “Look, man, I’m sorry. I didn’t give you much of a chance. I’m not exactly the type of person who hangs out with religious people.”

“I don’t spend a lot of time with burnouts, myself. But while you’re vulnerable, I want to tell you this: I’m willing to show you around town and help you readjust to a new reality, if you’re okay with never doing this again. I really don’t want to end up in Chinese prison.”

“I can try.”

All I remember after that is waking up on the floor, my face smashed on the fake wood and covered in drool. My mouth tasted like a foot. I sat up, threw the pillow onto the couch, and stumbled into my actual bedroom.

On the nightstand, a glass of water. Propped against it, a Polaroid picture of my hosed-up, sleepy face. Underneath, Jason had written “It can only get better from here!” in thick black Sharpie.

Smug rear end in a top hat. I’m gonna get a shot of him taking a shower when he least expects it.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should!

td19


archived.

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at Oct 31, 2017 around 22:06

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

Mycometempsychosis
(1489 words)

They are old and worn out. Long travel has dulled their senses. The Nucleus is slow, reluctant.

But they are close. They smell hope in the wavelengths as they cross the ether.

They are close.


#

"Ladies first," Daniel said. He smirked and gestured towards the open hatch and the black emptiness beyond.

What an rear end. Rebeca closed her eyes within the bubble of her helmet. Eight days was far to long to spend trapped in a tin can with anyone, let alone him.

She grabbed the handle, pulled herself through, and looked up to get her bearings. Looming across the void at the far end of the tether was the mysterious object they'd been sent to investigate: the Mandrake.

Spotted by telescopes just two months ago, it was assumed to be another rock destined to pass harmlessly between the Earth and Moon. It was cataloged, given a number—MDRK2021—and largely ignored. Until it did something very unusual.

It changed course.

A small correction, but one that put it on a trajectory to perfectly enter Earth orbit. A combination of doubt, panic, and euphoria swept the globe. Every telescope rotated to get a better view of the object. They revealed an object that clearly wasn't an asteroid or comet. Just a blurry half-kilometer long oblong object of indistinct shape and composition. No evidence of any sort of propulsion. No further changes in course. No response to any attempt to signal it. An incoming cosmic mystery.

With the object just twenty-two days from Earth intercept missions were scrambled. China's rocket exploded on the pad and a Russian ship was still days from arrival. The Tallon Aerospace/NASA partnership took just eight days from launch to rendezvous with the Mandrake—and its success made Daniel Tallon even more insufferable than usual..

Up close, it revealed itself to most resemble a giant, oblong ball of spaghetti. Fibrous tendrils criss-crossed the surface in a riot of reds, oranges, and yellows. More ropey strands protruded from the surface in lazy arcs, like the pilli of a giant bacterium, pulled by the gravity of the sun. Ground-penetrating radar gave few clues about what was beneath the network of fibers, only hinting at hollowed spaces within.

That's where Rebeca wanted to go. Inside. To find out what the hell this thing was. And, if necessary, destroy it.

She pulled herself along the tether. Daniel was close behind, breathing heavily in her earpiece. Soon they were close enough that the loose tendrils floated around them like a static forest. They were thin, maybe a centimeter in diameter, shimmering in warm-colored hues under her headlamp. Without a wind to rustle them they stayed frozen in the hard vacuum.

Surface in reach, Rebeca's gloved hand tentatively pressed on a tendril on the Mandrake. Surprisingly, it wasn't frozen solid at all; it yielded under her touch like it was made of rubber. She could pull it slightly, separating it from the tangle of fibers beneath, and use it as a handhold.

With a deep breath she let go of the tether and began crawling across the surface of Mandrake.

"Creepy stuff," Daniel spoke from behind her. "Feels like garden hoses."

Rebeca turned. Daniel was pulling hard at one of the tendrils, yanking it free from the mass.

"Jesus, Daniel. Don't be a child."

Daniel Tallon had made his money on Internet startups, then founded his own fledgling space tourism company. He was an overgrown child with money and a functional manned spacecraft—something NASA was unable to provide. His legion of Twitter and Instagram followers were no doubt following his every move. He and Rebeca were the only crew — the passenger compartment was crammed full with scientific and military equipment. And explosives.

"Of course," Daniel said. He adjusted his helmet cam, punched some keystrokes on his personal comm unit, and looked up. "Half the planet Earth is watching us, Rebeca, four billion people. Wave and say hello."

She ignored him, turned, and continued moving towards the posterior end of the Mandrake. Radar indicated there was a void there just a few meters beneath the surface. Maybe even some sort of entry point. Failing that, her laser cutter might have to do the trick.

She moved quickly across the surface, years of NASA training finally put to use. Zero-g. It was exhilarating. Long hours in the pool, practicing, and even longer hours getting her engineering doctorate. And then the space shuttle program had shut down, and she feared she'd never get her chance. She married, had a child. But then she finally got the call.

The surface curved away beneath her. They'd reached the posterior end of the Mandrake. She grabbed a tendril, swung herself around and—-

Daniel plowed into her, momentum carrying them both forward, breaking her grip. They tumbled away from the surface, towards empty space. A loose tendril flashed in front of her and she grabbed it. It snapped, chunky fluids spilling out in droplets, but she managed to snag the broken end, and stopped their momentum. Daniel's breath was frantic in her earpiece.

She pulled them both back to the surface of the Mandrake. Safely on the surface, she allowed herself a moment to gather herself.

Time to find an entry point.

"Holy poo poo, Rebeca! Look up!" Daniel said.

She did. The loose tendrils were in motion, curving down towards them. Retracting.

Daniel started moving, scrambling frantically back towards the tether.

For once he had a good idea. But then she felt her stomach drop. The Mandrake seemed to quiver, the mass of tentacles on it's surface shifting. It was waking up. A sudden tug and it pulled her inward, the surface caving under her, drawing her in. She let go, tried to push away, but the retracting tendrils blocked her escape. She fell into the mass of shivering, writhing tentacles, pulled down, deep, into the blackness, and squeezed.

Screaming, helmet fogged, warning chimes and static in her ears, she was absorbed into the Mandrake.

#

The fibers loosened and disgorged her into a dark cavity. Rebeca shone her headlamp around. Tendrils covered every surface. A mycelium—the word sprung to mind from Biology class. The tangled web of fibers that made up the body of a fungus. Sharing nutrients, energy, ever-growing within their food supply. Alive. Every surface was thick with fibers writhing and twitching in slow motion.

She fought down the claustrophobia and the panic. She needed to investigate, and find a way out. To survive.

Her headlamp revealed a large, wriggling mass in center of the chamber. She kicked off towards it.

Her comm crackled with static. "...Rebeca...do you...copy...are you....holy poo poo..."

"Daniel, where are you?" She repeated herself several times before he replied.

"...on surface... heading back...tether..."

"Don't leave me, Daniel. Don't you loving leave me."

He didn't reply.

She reached the mass in the center, grabbing it to slow her momentum. The tendrils shifted under her grip. From here in the center she could illuminate the entire cavity with her headlamp. Against the far wall the texture looked different. Lumpy. Bulging.

She felt a sudden pressure on her hand. She looked down in horror—the pulsing mass had encircled her hand, was moving up her arm. She pulled back in alarm. The fibers slid away, revealing something buried beneath the mass.

Rebeca clicked her laser cutter and drew it across the tendrils. They split apart, retracting from the sudden heat to reveal a smooth, gray mass. They pulled back further and at the top of the mass a head appeared, disc-like eyes and other openings of less obvious purpose. An alien face. Tendrils kept pulling back, revealing more, snaking out of orifices all over the gray alien body, releasing it from their hold. The dry alien corpse drifted away.

Rebeca watched this transformation in shock, floating just above. Only she wasn't floating anymore. The tendrils had quietly wrapped their way around her legs, upwards towards the torso. Her suit beeped in her ears: "Material breached. Suit compromised. Material breached..."

They were inside the suit. Inside her.

She felt the tendrils work up her chest, towards her head, her face.

She screamed.

#

They taste the salts of the solar wind.

They smell the light reflected from the blue planet ahead.

Energy courses through them, fibers awakening, reaching out, stretching with new life. A fresh Nucleus has taken control. They shiver with the promise of life, of rebirth.

An irritant moves across their surface. A pulse, then it is gone, ejected into the ether. They feel its panic but only for a instant and the moment is lost. There is no past, only present. And the promise of a future.

The core is flush with fruited spores, ready to germinate on a new substrate. The Nucleus knows of their new home.

For this blue planet has always been her home.

Together, they will return to claim what is rightfully theirs.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


I don’t know what it means when

We buried Albie in the front yard. He was very tall but then we put him horizontal and he was just as short as the rest of us; it was an even-ing. I think that’s where the word evening comes from: the time of day when everybody is bent double, and nobody stands any taller than anybody else. Albie worked construction most of his life, and by the time he died his hands were really hosed up.

We put him in the dirt like he wanted, and sprinkled seeds over him, and we drank beer (European poo poo, real high-quality) while the sun went down. RIP Albie, he was tall, he liked to play XBox, he owed me $20 but I won’t hold it against him.

We grew a garden on him. He was good fertiliser, I guess because he was so big. Some of the plants were fragile/bold/yellow. Some were vast and red, like dawn. Some were white and painful, like staring at the sun. They grew in and out of each other -- a jumble of stems and cups and caps; lillies and roses and fly agaric and whatever the gently caress.

He still talks to me, I think. Sometimes I hear whispering from the garden at night but I can never make out what it says. It’s sounds, and they’re language-sounds, and I hear them with my ears but they never quite reach the rest of me.

I guess it’s maladaptive but whatever, man, who gives a gently caress? I went to a therapist once and all I learnt was that beer costs less than counselling, and I can barely afford either of ‘em. When the wind goes through the garden’s tangle of green-and-poo poo it makes me think there’s something to be heard. There’s a language to their colours and stems too, and I just gotta work it out -- once I know what Albie’s got to say, the world will unfold like what-you-call-’ems in Spring.

You want to know what happens next? Tough titty. Why’s there always gotta be a next? Why’s the world a big staircase that we trudge up and up until our knees hurt, and our lungs burn and–

There’s an answer, I think.

It’s written in the garden, and spoken on the wind. I just gotta keep my ears open, and my eyes sharp.

There’s an answer, I think.

There’s an answer, I think.

(you gotta say it three times or it don’t count. There’s rules; there's always structures you can't see)

but you knew that already.

My boy Karl Marx would have something to say. He’d be all “man that’s hosed up, Albie’s a SYMBOL for the workers. He’s a downtrodden lumpyprole who died for loving nothing– “

–no, poo poo uuuuuuugh I mean he didn’t die for nothing he died for something, I just haven’t figured it out yet. He knows, though. He’s tryna tell me, and I’ll tell you too when I figure it out. There’s colours in the garden and they hurt to look at, but I do it for Albie.

but you knew that already.

We buried Albie in the front yard. He was tall, now he’s not. He knows why he died, I think; he’s tryna tell me. The sun set on him, and it was an even-ing, and his hands were all hosed up. There’s a point to all of this, I swear, I just haven’t figured it out yet.

but you knew that alr

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Aaaaaaand, it's gone!

Chili fucked around with this message at Jan 2, 2018 around 11:40

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I Forgot What's Real and What's Not as I Fall Farther and Farther into the Bullshit World I Made for Myself
1200 Words


I went over to the neighbor’s to complain because their Christmas lights were still up past Easter. The chickens they raised ran around all night long under the multi-colored bulbs, and I’m sure, to someone, it felt right.

She came to the screen door, and her kid was hugging her knee as I voiced my aversion to the lights. “I don’t mind that you have them up,” I said, “You might consider turning them off at night, is all. It’s April, I don’t think people usually have their lights on this late.”

That tow-haired kid clung to his mother’s thigh as she replied, “Hey, gently caress-face. I’ll keep the lights up as long as I want.” The little kid was neither shocked nor chagrined. His lips were a little chapped around the corners as I got red in the face.

“What’s your name, buddy?” I asked.

“Don’t you loving talk to my kid,” was her shield.

“Just take your lights down. Or switch to all monochrome. Before I call the borough council.” It was reasonable. She laughed, and slammed the storm door shut.

It took two campaigns before James was elected to the council (he made sure everyone knew how much his billboard in front of the Wal-Mart cost), and through sheer force of will, it was only a matter of months before he was the President. Billboard James was still closeted, but he was open at the community theater. Or rather, Ted—his professor boyfriend— was.

Ted was a normal guy. We’d have cast parties over there and he’d slop the meatballs marinated in hot sauce and grape jelly down his shirt. James would make him go change, and their schnauzers would escape the sliding glass door and chug their little legs over the perfectly manicured grass until they couldn’t run anymore. It was always in eyeshot. We’d run after them and collect the little fuzz-tubes before they made it out of the development.

My great-grandparents owned that land before it was commoditized. They had a log cabin and no running water until the 1970s when the mall started construction across the street from them and they were forced to get plumbing.

They died and I’m still not sure how we didn’t make out on the real estate. All I can figure is my grandparents believed in the Christian goodness of people and got taken advantage of. My brother just got baptized; not because he really wanted to, but because he is marrying a Catholic girl, and it was a requirement. You don’t have to become Catholic, just get baptized.

He made a good speech (they call it Testimony) and there was a Christian Rock Band backing him up as he talked about God and salvation. Then he got dunked and the minister held the same handkerchief over his mouth that he did twenty baptismal recipients before. The power of Christ prevents disease, the pastor said. But it was still gross.

‘Don’t look closely into, else you’ll find something you won’t like.’ Gramps said. And when James came around to solicit votes, he was conflicted. My Dad was part of the nativity scene, and he had full yellow-face makeup and false buck-teeth as Gaspar, the Eastern Wise-Man. It was like Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But my Dad saw nothing wrong with the proceedings. He never would.

James said, “it isn’t worth it,” but it didn’t really matter. My sister had thrown the mushrooms, hallucinogenic caps, in the cauldron of apple cider. Pops stalled at the manger and his guyliner ran under the tears that welled up in the corner of his faux-Oriental eye. “Dad? You OK?” she asked, and there really wasn’t any recovery. He was already hugging the goat and tossing the manger hay. Everybody was commenting on how realistic his performance was.

I just wanted to get on James’s good side and that meant mostly watching and loving True Blood. Easy enough, I suppose, since Sookie’s brother was a piece. Bad actor, sure, but drat, a cheese grater with a heart of gold. Every time I slipped away from the wholesome racism my Dad was serving to hit the decadence of gay professor street (and that really a thing) I had to give a little nod to Joe Manganiello, that werewolf fox-gently caress stripper, Pittsburgh born and bred.

And I feel like I might poot in the name of Jesus Christ, but it’s just a limp little toot, nothing to be proud of. My nieces turn the game into a “no contest.” They hold their summer dresses tight around their butts so you can see the vibrations. Fart at will. Their Mom, my sister, is not happy, as they giggle and fart their way through Tom’s baptism.

Neighbor lady took down her lights. “Dad, you cool with that?” It could have been me, or my sister who asked that, it didn’t really matter Dad was more than cool with that, he was hot for that.

Fu-huh-uh-huh-huh-uh-ah-uh huck you. It’s a hymn of some sort. The kind my Dad and his new lady were singing every Sunday after Bible Study. The kind they took seriously, and Moms would jab at them with.

Pops almost ended it all. He meandered up on the porch of my rude little neighbor and shot their bug zapper out with his old duck-hunting shotgun. He hit the pigeon full square, and it was almost like a video game, except people forget how genuinely tasty pigeons are.

I broke my tooth being angry at my neighbor. The chip fell into her chicken coop. She thought that was fun, even though I had some tooth metaphor with the hard enamel coating over a soft root poo poo I wanted to shout at her, she didn’t care.

I remembered James’s billboard. His smug face hung over everybody,

And I lay down on the porch, it’s nearly eighty degrees fahrenheit out, and I see that flickering monstrosity next door because she turned every single light on and none of my connections helped except to get them to hang around the porch and watch with me, tripping ever so slightly, on mushrooms and raw sexuality. Pretending to baptize each other in the first rain of the season, the rain we desperately need.
Tippity-tap coolness. Sheets to dribbles to the taps on tin and the outside-the-house squickle we all know as water sliding down the gutter. The rain fades. Pops is way in to The Davinci Code and all that stuff, there’s no need to dig any further when it comes to the struggle of words and faith.

My whole head is swimming, and it’s one hundred percent this fucklife that makes me live it one second at a time.

I ain’t about to cause any trouble till Pops puts the train together and it’s missing a piece so I start scouring the yard and find a bit of track in the rear end-face’s chicken coop. I grab it and the squacks just rail and rail as Pops throws a couple eggs in the skillet. Ninety-five percent of fertilized eggs die, so, gently caress off. We ate breakfast.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Edit: Archive now

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Dec 7, 2017 around 05:36

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

The Cornerstone Bandits
(906 words)

“On the count of three Mister Fitzgerald! Three! You hear me!? I’m going to give the police the go-ahead to break this barricade down and they are going to scrape your hide from my hospital. What do you think the children think when they hear about you hiding in the cancer wing? What do you think there parents think?!” Lola yelled.

No answer yet again. The figures of several Thrones-one of the different spheres of angels that made up heaven’s hierarchy-stared wide-eyed from the polished lacquer of the doorframe.

The hospital director Lola Davis coughed into her arm. She hadn’t yelled like that since her third divorce proceedings. She spun around and gave the police the go ahead. Three cops approached the doorway in step with each other. One took out small malleable pellets of wet clay. He stuck them to the hinges with fat shriveled fingers.

Lola addressed the sergeant who was standing back watching the other three, “It took long enough for the NYPD to respond. I didn’t need a negotiator. I needed this!”

She spread her arms and air-embraced the three men. Little wires were attached to the clay by man with thin fingertips. Lola cocked her head and studied the process.

“I expected a ram. Is that going to hurt the surrounding area? Because the pediatrician's offices are above us.”

The sergeant slowly turned his head to look at Lola. She felt a shudder go up her spine. The way his neck moved was inhuman. She looked into his eyes. The pupils had an unusual tint. It reminded her of rusty screws under the shallow surface of water.

A slow smile creaked out of his face. “It will be fine Miss Davis. We are only here to take care of Mister Fitzgerald and his creation.”

She stepped away from him in instinctive disgust. The man was inherently unnatural. The largest of the three policemen spoke to the clay setter as he sniffed at the air noisily.

“Leak. We must stand back in formation.” He said between snorts of air.

He pushed a rolled up clod into the lock and spat on the floor, “Got it Mite” the clay setter said.

The fuse setter reeled a cord back to the sergeant, “Here you are Mister Rust.”

The sergeant nodded and Lola gritted her teeth at the shrill metallic scrape. Rust connected the wires to a plastic box on his belt. Lola didn’t see a gun on it. Or a taser for that matter. It didn’t have anything an officer should have.

Rust said to the little-fingered officer, “You do good work Burns. “ The little-fingered man gave him a flitting smile.

Lola asked, “Are you actually policemen?”

“We are police. Mr. Fitzgerald is who we are policing as well as the cancer ward he built. The same ward I believe you want to be torn down. Correct?”

She felt a numbness cross over her chest and responded,“Yes. We’ve had incidents with Mr. Fitzgerald. He interfered with the building process and did not provide most contractual obligations that were set when he took on designing it.”

Rust questioned her in his soft rasp voice. “Go on.”

She was not longer speaking voluntarily, “It was a beautiful design, but it used the budget in ways it was not supposed too. This is a hospital, not a place to leave a final legacy when you’re going senile.”

Rust whispered, “Why would you think he was going senile? “

“He claimed he could build something that withstood time. That a dream had occurred to him and that this was his last chance to build it. It was metaphysical nonsense. He said to me during his presentation of the wing:

Lola. The patients will be stabilized by this place. Since time does not rule it nor shall it rule their lives.

I had planned to have him taken off the premises the next day and the wing broken down to regain costs via materials but he had secured himself inside. He thought someone was coming after him.”

She was crying. Her voice sputtered out into long gasps as she found air. The words that left her mouth had been pulled out by these creatures.

Rust nodded slowly. “I just wanted to double check that you had your story straight. He is indeed insane.”

He pointed at the elevator to the wing and motioned her to leave. She ran to the sliding doors and frantically pressed the up button. A series of pops went off behind her. Don’t you look. Don’t look at what’s behind you.

She heard a scream from behind her.

“No! Leave that alone! You monsters! I made this! You can’t take it away!”

Wood creaked and metal whined. She heard the flaps of insect wings and rusted chains grinding over wood. Water spilled behind her and lapped at her blue heels. The elevator opened and she rushed into it.

She took a look behind her despite her fear. A single glance through the closing elevator doors and Lola would never sleep well again.

An old architect had claimed to have built a place free from time. Now there was a perfectly round void. The open air of the city blew splinters and the husks of termites across the elevator entry.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


The Ideal Husband
1189 Words

Dani stood at the back window, admiring the view: her man, Johnathan, shirtless, toned and muscular, glistening in the afternoon sun, pushing a lawnmower around their backyard. The rhythmic chop of the mower blades conjured images of white-picket living in her mind. They didn’t have the fence, but they had almost everything else. She turned and looked over the kitchen and living room. Both were spotless, marred by neither an ounce of dust nor a single misplaced item. 12 fresh-cut roses, vibrant green and deep crimson, sat in a vase on the table.

“Welcome home, Danielle.” She hadn’t noticed the mower stop, nor heard the door open behind her. She turned to see Johnathan standing just inside the doorway.

She cringed. “I hate it when you call me that.”

Johnathan tilted his head and stared at Dani, nonplussed. “I’m sorry. You’ve never mentioned it before. What would you prefer I call you?”

Dani closed her eyes. “Call me… It doesn’t matter. That’s not the point.” She took a deep breath, shrugged her shoulders, and fixed a smile on her face. Johnathan remained blank-faced. Her smile turned to a smirk. “Once you’re done with the yard, clean-up and meet me in the bedroom.”

This request, Johnathan understood. He returned her smirk and flashed his eyes at her. “Sure.”

----------

Dani panted with exertion as she rested astride Johnathan. She ran her fingers over chest. His body had nary a blemish—no scars, no tattoos, no birthmarks. He was smiling up at her, his mouth filled with two rows of pearly whites straighter than piano keys.

“Let’s make a baby.”

The words hung in the air, held aloft for just a moment, weightless, as if neither of them could yet provide the words with gravity. That ended when Johnathan spoke.

“You know we can’t.” He settled his hands atop hers. He gave her a soft smile. “You know I can’t. Not yet. Perhaps in a few years, after they make some more technological advancements.”

Her words and his now crashed over Dani like a rogue wave. Her shoulders slumped, her eyes dropped. Her hands trailed down his torso in one last search for some defect, and found none. She had found his fault, of course, but she would have preferred a visible one. She rolled off Johnathan. “Just hold me, please.”

Johnathan complied without hesitation. “Of course.”

----------

The next morning, a soft whistling filtered through the open bedroom door. Dani’s eyelids fluttered open gently. She could smell fresh coffee percolating. She rose and slipped into her robe, hung over the door. Her clothes for the day were set out for her, as well. Johnathan was meticulous.

“Good morning,” she said as she entered the kitchen. Johnathan stood by the stove, showered, dressed, and well put together. His hand gripped a skillet, and as she watched he flipped an omelet: up, over, down, perfect.

“Good morning,” he replied. “I made your favorite this morning. Egg whites, spinach, tomato, feta cheese. It will be ready in two minutes.” He smiled at her, a wide, earnest smile.

Dani grabbed her phone from the counter and sat down at the table. One new message: her mother. Only her mother left voicemails anymore. It was five minutes long. She tuned out after the first. Once it ended, she huffed and rolled her eyes.

“Something wrong?” Johnathan asked from the kitchen.

“Just my mother.” She set her phone down and went to stand next to Johnathan, who was plating the omelet and pouring coffee. “She has some guy she wants me to meet up with. Still, doesn’t approve of… You. Of us. She’s upset I haven’t given her the wedding she’s wanted since I was a little child. Sad I haven’t given her…” Dani’s hands went to her belly, then dropped back to her side.

“Sad you haven’t given her what?”

“Nothing. Don’t worry about her.”

“I still haven’t met her.” He set the food down on the counter and turned to Dani. “We’ve been together for over a year, now. I would like to meet her, to get to know your family, if you think it would be alright.”

“I don’t.” She turned away.

“Okay. Whatever you think is best, Danielle. Come on; breakfast is ready.”

She flinched. “I told you…” She stopped, knowing it was pointless to press on something he couldn’t understand. She shook her head. “Don’t you ever get upset? Mad?” Her voice rose steadily like the wind before a storm. “Doesn’t anything ever bother you? Don’t you have any preferences? Don’t you ever make any mistakes?”

“Would you like me to make mistakes? It’s not in my nature, but I can try.”

“gently caress!” she howled, her voice the full-throated roar of a tornado. It touched down only for a moment, though, then her calm returned. She turned to Johnathan. “Put the coffee in my mug and fix me a bagel. I’ll eat on the way to work.”

----------

Dani stood in the doorway to the kitchen, perfectly still. She had arrived home from work a few minutes early and had entered the house silently, wanting to watch Johnathan unnoticed. She made no noise, no movements. He noticed her anyway. Standing at the sink washing vegetables, he half-turned, and said, “Danielle, could you bring me a knife? I’ve got something great planned for dinner.”

Dani moved only slightly, mere fractions of inches, and yet there was a noticeable shift in her demeanor, in her posture, in the set of her face. Her eyes faded from clear blue sky to roiling ocean depths. Her hair became a blazing corona of golden fire. Her shoulders tightened, and her fingers curled into fists.

“Of course, dear.”

She floated to the knife rack and unsheathed the large chef’s knife. She turned it over in her hands, admiring the polished finish, the perfect balance, the sharpened edge (Johnathan’s handiwork). The edge nicked her palm. Blood welled slowly from the tiny cut. Dani stared at it blankly, then grabbed the knife handle in her bloody palm. She turned and slid up behind Johnathan. He turned to face her.

She thrust the knife into the flesh below his right pectoral. She watched as a translucent blue fluid poured from the gash. She thrust the knife again. A flap of shirt and skin fell open, revealing wires and ceramic bones and more blue fluid.

Johnathan stared down at the open wound in his chest. His faced remained neutral. “This will take time to repair.”

Dani’s hand snaked out and picked up the skillet Johnathan had set out. She swung it hard and connected with Johnathan’s head. He staggered. She swung again. His eyes began to twitch. She swung again. He dropped to the floor. She swung again. He stopped moving.

Dani stood over his body. She took out her phone and dialed a number. After a few moments, a voice answered. “Hello. I need a new model. My current one had an accident.” Dani said. She looked down at Johnathan. Blue fluid continued to trickle out of his wounds. “I’ll need to make a few adjustments to the order, first.”

flerp
Feb 25, 2014



883 words

Home is where investigators first go when you die

flerp fucked around with this message at Oct 11, 2017 around 21:14

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Clapping Larry

jfc you failfucks

I'm going to leave subs open until i wake up tomorrow if any of you sorry animals wants to sheepishly sneak an entry in

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Clapping Larry

Hrm. well. Subs closed a while ago.

Newtestleper, you have until 3AM PST (so, less than 12 hours from now) to submit a story to clear your If not, yr banned

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Clapping Larry

AW poo poo WE'RE GOING OFF THE GRID POSTIN CRITS BEFORE JUDGMENT WHAAAAAT

This is my week i do what i want. Mostly I ignored any issues with spelling, grammar, basic mechanics, and etc. If I have a lot to say about your story, that's either very good or very bad. if I don't have a lot to say, that means you're probly somewhere in the middle.


djeser

Good character study. While much of this person's internal mythos is slightly opaque to me, it was internally consistent in a way that didn't feel like "LOL look at the crazy person." Every detail, no matter how bizarre, felt very intentional and purposeful. I smiled when she kind of scoffed (in her way) at chemtrail conspiracies. I liked the wry humor in how she handled the convenience store clerk's idle chitchat. While the prose is visually jarring, I still felt like the setting and context were clear, and I felt the story moved at a good pace. I liked some of the little details. Your use of the Pelagia figure was interesting. Full disclosure, I am a broke-brained child of the internet era so I basically have to google things every 30 seconds when I judge. That led me to the wikipedia page about Saint Pelagia, and the bit of legend where she dies while living as an ascetic recluse seemed to fit your character, even if it didn't explain the Pelagia entity. I could be totally off with that interpretation, or maybe I'm not studied enough to see other parallels, but in any case it enriched the reading experience for me.

I liked the ending, too. Part of me wants to take it literally, to believe that this character DID read all the signs and was in communion with some benevolent entity. It would be nice if she was transported to another world where her brains were healthy and she wasn't afraid and isolated. But another neat detail that I learned in my googlings was that sodium poisoning is apparently somewhat common in mentally ill populations. So it seems likely that her final moments were the result of her very high salt intake, in which case her "clarity" could be the result of coma or death.

Overall, this is a very strong entry and very much in line with what I was looking for this week.


Mrenda

This had things I liked and things I wasn't as fond of. I liked the sense of existing relationships I got from this story. Even simple lines like

quote:

She had the same clipped, assured tone as when she would smugly explain, “The responsibility of work brings me immense personal satisfaction.”

do a lot to bring these characters into focus. It's very easy for me to make a projection about what the relationships between these family members might've been like over the years. I thought the worldbuilding, such as it is, was well done. This is obviously a world that's somewhat different than ours; people are living scarce, austere lives even though they have all the near-future, first world accouterments. Grace wants to provide for them in an immediate, tangible way. It contrasts nicely with her father and sister's outlook, I think. They are doing work that, yes, sort of benefits people, I guess. But they don't seem interested in using their wealth and research to directly benefit the people in their community. I mean, Grace's dad can gift her entire orchards and crops, but he seems actively averse to providing directly for the people in his town except, apparently, when he gets to get "puffed up" on benevolence. Even though Grace wants to do the right thing, she can't really escape her father's influence, which means that even her good intentions are underscored by his elitism and callousness. I understand and connect with her frustration. Especially since it seems like she would be happier if she didn't have the obligations of a child of wealth. She just wants to look after plants and feed people.

I think some of the narrative could've been condensed. This is fine for an early draft, but if you were going to edit this, you'd want to focus on refining some of the narrative/exposition. The longer paragraphs tend to contain a lot of information, and sometimes it doesn't always unspool smoothly. Here's an example:

quote:

Danny was one of the few people she would talk to with regularity, outside of internet friends from horticulture communities. The village wasn’t welcoming, but she wanted to contribute. No-one there cared for the child of a millionaire swanning about, which is why it was Danny who sold everything spare from what she grew. Danny knew everything about everything and had a finger in every villager’s pie. To Grace’s father’s dismay he’d even talk artificial intelligence with him. Whenever Danny delivered a batch of seeds, or fertiliser to the teenaged Grace he’d make sure to seek out her father, and wind him up with a pet theory on computer science. After Danny left her father would roar about laymen intruding on his work. Grace delighted in sharing any insight on gardening she’d discovered with Danny. The extra delight was how her talkative glee annoyed her prideful father.

This paragraph is all about Danny, which is good. We get a picture of his role in Grace's life. But I think this information could be presented more smoothly, in fewer words. Like, for those first three sentences, you could say something like...."Grace sold everything she grew to Danny, because Danny was the only person in town who didn't scoff at the generosity of a millionaire's daughter." Or something. That might not be a great example, but there are ways to blend all the information together in a succinct and fluid way. From a storytelling perspective, the quoted paragraph is doing its job. I have a very clear picture of what Danny's role in this situation is. Aesthetically, I felt it could've been condensed and even stylized a bit. Which is a great position to be in if you're gonna redraft a story.

I'm struggling with this crit a little. As I write this, I'm sitting back and pondering what the story is actually about. Grace doesn't seem ungrateful, but there's something kind of...circular about her stubbornness. It seems important to her that the long trip to the hospital isn't predicated on her family's wealth and influence. But...she also seems genuinely grateful for her gardens and the opportunities they provide. She apparently resents that her father favored extravagant gifts over real communication, but in that case, it seems like she ought to use any means available to take advantage of the small window for communication she has left. Her reasoning for not doing so is slightly unclear.

I dunno. Hit me up in IRC if you wanna talk about it more.


Thrangles

I was left wanting more of some stuff and less of other stuff. You've got a healthy dollop of interesting worldbuilding on top of a soggy biscuit of plot with a garnish of semi-likable characters. I feel like you could've completely ditched the "young love" angle of this story. You used too many words on Izzie and Percy sneaking off and making out, and on their mild disagreement over what to do with the money. Honestly, this could've just been a story about a young woman and her kid brother finding trouble, then realizing perhaps the Hungry Folk weren't quite as grotesque as previously believed. I don't know Izzie and Percy well enough to lament the end of their summer fling. The more interesting part of that arc, to me, is Izzie realizing that 1) if she eats too much of the mushroom food, she won't be able to leave its deliciousness behind and escape to the city like she wants and 2) that she can be a really fuckin' good chef. I enjoyed that she went on to use real food in fancy restaurants; that was more interesting to me than the flimflam about small town romance.

Had you ditched Percy and just thrown Izzie and her brother into the conflict with the hungry folk, you could've spent more time with those characters. As it is, you don't have enough words to do much other than have your tresspassin' teens gawk at the way these outsiders live. You're a good writer, so most of this wasn't a chore to read, but a lot of the dialog verged on "as you know, Bob." You've got 5 speaking roles in a small space, which I think sorta forced you to use dialog to explain your setting. And it was an interesting setting with cool details! But I wasn't too fond of the delivery.

The fungus food was a cool, realistic near future element. It's entirely possible that sometime soon we'll see fungal substitutes for all kinds of food. I wasn't entirely sure why the mushrooms were only grown by outsiders, though. It seems everyone else eats factory-made synthetic food, but why would society eschew a semi-natural, readily available food source? And then there was Izzie's comment about the crows watching them. I wanted to know more about that, too! Did crows cooperate with the hungry folk somehow? It stuck out because it was an interesting line, but then it didn't come up again.

Anyway, this was interesting, but the execution isn't completely there.


Radical and BADical!

Oh man. This story tugs at my heartstrings, though not because of anything in the plot or narrative itself, exactly. This reminds me of why I always wanted to write. I'd go to sleep at night and dream about all this fantastical stuff, then wake up and be sad it wasn't real. Sometimes the dreams were scary or horrifying, sometimes they were unspeakably wonderful in ways that were hard to describe when I woke up. Dreams are weird because stuff can be meaningful simply by virtue of existing. Like, once I dreamed about seeing this bird hovering outside of a window. And that fuckin bird, man; it was everything. I couldn't have told you why, but the entirety of the dream was just me, digging the hell out of this all-encompassing god-bird. It was a cool dream, but wouldn't make a very exciting story.

Which brings me to your story. There are a lot of cool descriptions. It seems like you had a ton of fun talking about all of the whimsy and shimmer and wonder in your setting. Unfortunately, maybe it was a little too much fun? Kid spends far too long traveling across the dreamscape to meet Foreman. So, like, while there are a lot of pretty words describing all this neat dream stuff, it starts to get a little tedious when I want the story to explain what Kid is up to and why he's meeting Foreman. Just like in my bird dream, I'm "seeing" all this cool stuff, but there isn't enough context to let me know the stakes of the story. It's not enough just to throw me into a scintillating dreamscape. As it is, the plot goes like this:

"Look at all this pretty dream stuff" --> "Why did our friend betray us!?" --> confrontation with the Bad Guy, because that's what protagonists do, I guess --> Bad Guy is disposed of with relatively little difficulty, everyone goes home (oh yeah and scary nightmare monsters n poo poo)

Here's all the stuff I'm note sure about : What exactly do these people do within this dream world? Are Foreman, Kid, and Seeker the only "conscious" dreamers there? Is it their job to protect the dream world from nightmares? Or does Seeker's betrayal force Kid and Foreman to go above and beyond the call of duty? Are all comatose people trapped in nightmarish cells? Or just the evil ones? What does Seeker gain from luring Foreman and Kid into a nightmare? etc etc etc

As it is, you've got a lot of description, a little explanation, and then a fight sequence with a bad guy i know almost nothing about.

Let's talk about the writing itself. The narrative voice goes back and forth between what I would describe as a "modern" tone and a very archaic, overwrought tone. I'll contrast two lines, so you can see what I mean:

quote:

He knew he shouldn't keep Foreman waiting, but he'd never been to Factory before so he couldn't just blink there. Besides, the mysterious city had fascinated Kid ever since the first time he laid eyes on it.

vs

quote:

The poignancy of this thought struck him more keenly than it should have, for he did not relish the errand that brought him here this night.

In the second quote, I've bolded the bits that make the prose feel affected and overwrought. I think the first quote is your more natural voice, and the second one is you forcing a writing voice that sounds, well, kinda purple. This purple prose happened less later on in the story, when your characters were doing poo poo and talking to each other.

Overall, i liked what you were trying to go for, but the writing and the pacing of the story left a bit to be desired.


Fleta

Aw. I read this story in one easy gulp. A burnout takes mushrooms in China and finds out her teetotaler mormon roommate is perhaps more chill than she previously knew. I dig it. I actually found myself enjoying the descriptions of Dana's trip, in spite of my warnings against trip reports in the prompt. And that's because you incorporated it well! Yay!

This story is as light as it is good, so my critiques will be kind of slim. Now, I know Mormons have a reputation for being incredibly cheerful and friendly, and that fits with my own personal experience when I've encountered Mormon folks (generally speaking). Jason seemed a little too good to be true, though. Like, his whole role in the story is basically to reveal the depth of empathy and understanding he felt for Dana. He understands her suffering, has preemptively forgiven her for talking poo poo about him, and is prepared to help her find a place in a country she doesn't feel at home in. It reads like a slightly edgy made-for-christian-TV movie.

Hmm, that's a little bit harsh. The final lines are a little bit feisty, which is good because I was a little afraid Dana had, like, hallucinated her way into a Mormon Chick Tract. I got the sense that sharing an honest, empathetic moment with Jason really did open her up to a productive friendship. So that was cool. But obviously that one encounter isn't going to completely change Dana's outlook, or her desire to get hosed up to deal with things. So I guess I would sum this up like: a fun little moment of realism between two people that borders on saccharine, but not so much that I rolled my eyes.


Tyrannosaurus

You are playing a dangerous game with this story, Mr. Trex. This is body horror, but it's not over the top, and the fungus is, i suppose, not explicitly malicious. Where this story really shines, obviously, is the relationship between the characters. Mae and Winston's deep love for each other is apparent, and it contrasts nicely with the disturbing mass that is taking over Mae's head. You could replace the fungal growth with something more banal and still have a story about a man coping with the bodily indignities that his wife suffers. His solution to Mae's self consciousness was adorable and incredibly sweet.

My only critique is really the uuuuh ending. It's got a distinctly magical realism feeling to it, whereas the rest of the story could've easily been low key scifi. I wasn't sure what to do with the final image, whether I was supposed to take it literally or not. It was an abrupt change to the feel of the story. I kiiiind of see a parallel between him shaving his mustache (which had been a part of him for years) and him pulling open his torso, I guess. If I squint. He literally shaved a part of himself off for his wife's comfort. Every day, he has to set his own feelings aside and do things that he finds gross or disturbing. All for love. So I guess I can sort of see how the final scene reflects that. Unless there's something I'm missing. I dunno.

Good piece overall, though.


Hawklad

Okay, first of all, I'm kind of impressed that you managed to fit a relatively complete plot arc in the word count. When I started reading this, I was like, "oh nooo, there's too much backstory and chitchat for this to go anywhere." But this is basically story-shaped. There's the initial encounter. Then poo poo gets real. Finally, there's revelation and resolution, of a sort.

I guess my issue with this is like...the only thing that differentiates this from a standard Alien Encounter scifi story (for me) is the fungal element. I liked the mechanic of the "ship". Unfortunately, I don't think we're meant to be happy about what happens to Rebecca. She certainly isn't. Since this week is all about poo poo I like, I feel comfortable saying that I would've enjoyed the story more if Rebecca had, somehow, come to a voluntary arrangement with the vessel. Maybe it could've interfaced with her somehow, showed her how much it missed its home on Earth. Or something. Ya know?

I am not sure Daniel being a total dick added much to this story. If you were writing a screenplay, i think a character like Daniel would work well. But this is a flash fiction piece, and I think it would've been better if you'd focused a bit more on the most interesting part of the story, which was the fungal entity.

I can't tooootally love this, since your fungus was kind of a dick, but it's overall a decent piece of writing.


Muffin

You certainly do like your circular ruminations on madness and obsession. Interesting descriptions. I like that the narrator wasn't all gibbering nonsense--I got a sense of who he might've been before all this sorry business with Albie.

You could interpret this a lot of ways. Maybe the narrator knows more about Albie's fate than he cares to admit, and the guilt has caused his brain to try and see a purpose or a message where there isn't one. Maybe Albie was involved in something sinister and magical, and now it's speaking through his bones and the flowers that fed off his body. I dunno. I'm sure you, as the writer, had an intention with this piece, but I'm enjoying all the various interpretations that i can come up with.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to feel upon finishing this story. I guess I'm interested in the concept. I like the imagery. But I'm left wanting something more. Maybe that's the point--the narrator himself kind of accuses the reader of needing a point to the story, after all. But then he himself is consumed by the need to find an answer to the questions posed by Albie's death and the words in the garden. So, in a way, the reader is put in the narrator's shoes; I'm peering into madness, trying to figure out what it all means. And I think that is what you were going for. Or not! But I choose to see it that way because it makes me like the story more.


Chili

This is the first story that really attempted to illustrate a non-human perspective. I think the result is mixed. Waldo is some sort of clothing--I assume a jacket, or a sweatshirt? The description of its "tensile spine" threw me off because I can't think of a piece of clothing that you'd describe as having a spine. Anyway, Waldo is a beloved article of clothing for a while, but then is eventually outgrown or forgotten. Waldo ends up in a dumpster (or something) and someone seems to rifle through its pockets, hoping to find something of value, but there's nothing, and Waldo has a bit of a lonely ending to its journey.

It's a sad story. It's not the best of the week, but I appreciate that you made me feel a little bit of a connection to this vague item of apparel. When I was a kid, I always felt tremendously guilty about disposing of old or worn out clothing, and this story kind of vindicates my child self. While I am not sure that this is a satisfying read in and of itself, it doesn't overstay its welcome and is a good exercise in generating empathy for a "being" that isn't remotely human. I like that you didn't over-anthropomorphize Waldo.

I dunno what I'd do with this piece if I were you. While there are things I appreciate about it as a writer, I don't think it would be terribly satisfying for a casual reader. I would put this firmly in the camp of "neat writing exercise" and move on.


Jibs

Oh man. Not sure what to say about this one. It was like one long, unbroken camera shot that kind of pans around a bunch of disjointed fragments of suburban life. Everything feels jumbled up, detached from all time and coherence. Banal things feel slightly sinister. People fart at a baptism. A dad portrays a racially insensitive caricature for a nativity scene. Nothing is sacred and nothing makes sense.

I can't really tell if the point of this story is that everyone in this small town got dosed with mushrooms, or what. That's certainly a factor at one point in the story, but I'm not sure how much of the disjointedness is meant to be attributed to the mushrooms in the punch bowl. I think what happened is....no, I'm not sure. Hmmm. I feel like you told a linear story, then chopped it up, stirred the pieces around, and cobbled it back together in its present form. The one thread of plot that stays coherent throughout the story is the issue of the neighbor who won't take down the Christmas lights. It seems that the narrator invited some friends over to help her get the neighbor to take the lights down, but they all ended up tripping out instead. Ultimately, Pops solves the problem by shooting down the neighbor's bug zapper. I think?

This isn't exactly a terrible read, but there's so much going on and i feel like I need to literally put the story in a doc and rearrange it line by line so I can get the coherent version, if there is one. but I think that's deliberate. The story gets more and more disjointed as it goes on, meandering back and forth between different moments with little rhyme or reason. I get the sense that the narrator finds her town pretty absurd, even when she's not tripping on mushrooms.

because I'm a child, I really enjoyed:

quote:

And I feel like I might poot in the name of Jesus Christ, but it’s just a limp little toot, nothing to be proud of. My nieces turn the game into a “no contest.” They hold their summer dresses tight around their butts so you can see the vibrations. Fart at will. Their Mom, my sister, is not happy, as they giggle and fart their way through Tom’s baptism.

I'm interested in this story, even if I don't think I'm putting it together very well. Which is partly on you, as the writer; if you meant for me to fully understand this, you failed. If you didn't, then uh, good job I guess.


Uranium Phoenix

Conceptually, I like this. I like the symbiote and what it does. Then the story kind of....coasted on that idea. There were parts of the story that I think were supposed to make me feel for Evelyn. Like when she's crying because everyone else has fungus symbiotes and her pink one is suddenly fodder for mockery. The thing literally put her skull back together! It just seemed like such an arbitrary moment in the story, like it only existed to remind the reader that your character is Different and Special.

I don't buy Evelyn's roommate's response to the description of Evelyn's dreams. Like, dreams can be crazy as poo poo. I've never met someone who's like "no, dreams are just parts of your day all scrambled up." Because they can literally be whatever. So it's another moment where the narrative is hitting me over the head with LOOK HOW DIFFERENT AND SPECIAL SHE IS. And then, to no one's surprise, it turns out the dreams are actually a message. And Evelyn, being the perfect little protagonist that she is, wastes no time in carrying out her symbiote's wish and delivering it back to the ocean of its ancestry. Which makes me feel like the stakes were kind of low, if she could just ditch something that had been a part of her for so long.

I get it. Evelyn letting go of her symbiote is meant to parallel a mother letting go of her adult daughter. But the sentimentality is layered on soooo thick and it just doesn't work for me.

in terms of the writing, I felt like it was mostly heads talking in white space. People and objects kind of materialize as needed. That's not to say that it's confusing or unclear in any way, just very sterile. I don't get any sense of the setting, outside of the dreamscape in Evelyn's head. There was nothing that suggested what her life was like when she wasn't actively thinking about her symbiote. I was curious about the rest of the world--what are the symbiotes for, when they're not repairing the skulls of ten year olds? Why do other people have them? Can you replace one after it's left/died? Or did Evelyn experience something utterly new when her symbiote chose to leave?

I feel like there were more interesting ways to approach this plot, is what I'm trying to say.


Jay W. Friks

Hey, your formatting looks normal! Good job.

I thought this was kind of a fun, Twilight Zone-ish little vignette. I think I would've liked a little more interaction with Mr. Fitzgerald himself, or at least a little more description of this hospital wing that stands outside of time. As it is, I thought you set up kind of a fun, sinister vibe with the cops who are obviously not what they seem. And the last image, with Lola glancing back into nothingness as splinters and bug bits swirl around in the wind, was good. I appreciated that Lola, in trying to do the "right" thing, has brought about the destruction of something truly amazing. I enjoyed the implication that Lola had brushed up against a conflict that is much, much larger than she knows.

At just over half your allotted word count, this story doesn't linger overlong. I feel that you could've used some more words to tell us more about the hospital or give a little more insight into Mr. Fitzgerald. Something. I dunno.


BeefSupreme

I went from being more or less interested in this plot to thinking "holy poo poo this lady is dumb as hell." She's dating some kind of android or something, but is dumb enough to think it's going to be as charmingly flawed as a human??? And her solution is to kill him, instead of, I dunno, sending him back to the factory?

Like, I would think "understanding that your living sex doll can't make babies" would be a prerequisite for even buying one of these dudes. I'd also think part of the purchasing process would be to calibrate the robo-dude to his new owner...er...partner? I want to know more about the ethics of this society where androids are being sold as viable yet (apparently) disposable partners. But all we get is a glimpse into one selfish person's dysfunctional relationship with her robot. And we don't even see any fallout or consequences. Was he sapient? Does killing him count as murder?

The more I think about this, the more I don't understand why any of this is happening. Even if she's frustrated, why kill the thing? And like, in that final scene, when she's ordering a new android, she talks about making some "adjustments" to her order, which suggests that some kind of calibration IS possible.

Mostly, i just want a totally different story. Maybe she wants to ditch her robot boyfriend for a guy who can make babies with her, but she doesn't have the heart to kill him or send him back to the factory. So she ditches him way out in the middle of nowhere, hoping that once he's far away from her, he'll wander off and figure out how to exist on his own. Maybe he always finds her, no matter where she goes, prompting her to begin to see him as this stalker that she's justified in killing. SOMETHING. Nothing in this story justifies the events that unfold, is what I'm trying to say.


flerp

Flerpo my dude, I want to have a conversation with you about the word 'just'. As in:

quote:

He just looked at the walls and went to bed.

They just watched him, his shirt splattered with colors.

His hands just kept moving, even when he slept on the floor.

It's a little quirk of yours I've noticed over the course of TD. When 'just' is used that way, it usually means that the author is not 100% confident in the action being described. I'm not sure how to explain it myself, tbh. But the word 'just', as you've used it here, can almost always be removed from the sentence.

But onto the story itself. I think I more or less like this; a divorced father is estranged from his family, and expresses his anger and grief through frantically painting the walls of an old house until he ultimately gives up and kills himself. And the walls have to helplessly bear witness to this. I have a little bit of an affection for this story because the subject matter touches some poo poo that's personal to me. There are a lot of people who, alienated from their family and loved ones, live out their final, isolated days in grief and rage before taking their own lives. And we see all this happen through the "eyes" of an innocent bystander--the house itself.

The walls were somewhat anthropomorphized, which sometimes annoys me, but in this case I think it serves the plot. I also enjoyed your approach to the "outsider art" idea; this man's paintings are true outsider art, since they don't exist for anyone in particular and are a raw expression of (apparently) suicidal depression.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Apr 18, 2017 around 00:28

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Sitting Here posted:

AW poo poo WE'RE GOING OFF THE GRID POSTIN CRITS BEFORE JUDGMENT WHAAAAAT

TY for the crits!

flerp
Feb 25, 2014



fjgj

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



Uranium Phoenix posted:

TY for the crits!


Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Chocolate tastes bad,
also fuck you <3

Uranium Phoenix posted:

TY for the crits!

Seriously good crits.

Judge Fudge is good judge.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Clapping Larry

judgment

will happen roughly 5 hours from this posting.

Until then, your interprompt is to crit a story from this week. More crits is good crits!

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



Crits for Appease SittingHere Week.

Djeser posted:

WARNING-To-All-Human-Races-To-EMBRACE-REPTILIAN-TRANSMISSIONS-Via-Sodium-Chloride-Pathways-Against-ARACHNID-WORLD-ORDER-ATTEMPTING-TO-SPIRITUALLY-IMPRISON-ALL-HUMAN-RACES
(990 words)

This was a dense read with the stylistic choices, but it still came across with a touch of lightness with the occasional normality bleeding through the protags madness. It came across as more an experiment in form and writing style than it did a story. For it to really work for me you'd need to step up the occasional signs of normality and let me see how the protag is placed within the world. Giving me some insight on her situation related to an external world view of them. That was the big let down for me. While you did achieve in getting across the delusion, it was a little too coherent and not evenly guided by the problems it would cause for the person. As a reader I didn't feel any emotional connection, or sympathy for the subject of the story. That comes across as an authorial choice because what you did write came across well, and well directed, but it was disappointing for me because the skill shown in doing so was obvious, but the empathetic relationship that would really elevate it wasn't there. You hinted at it in the end, but it wasn't strong enough to really show it. As an experiment in writing and style it was very worthwhile, and I enjoyed that, but as a telling piece of writing about a situation it fell short. I'd like to have some connection and insight on the protagonist, but it just wasn't there.

Thranguy posted:

Pomegranate Seeds

The surface level of this story was well told. I understood the progression of the plot, and the significance of their situation in the altered world. However the significance and poignancy of the characters situation wasn't telling enough for me to really ground their situation in a human level connection. The immediate story was enjoyable, but the emotional relationship wasn't strong enough. It didn't make me think anything of the situation where characters learn to understand the people they're afraid of, learn to understand their place in the world, learn about growing up, growing apart, yet still retaining a connection. The story was competently told, but the human insight in it was lacking. The simple narrative level of the story was enjoyable, and easily understood but the universality of human experience didn't come across. I'd like to have seen how their situation, learning and revelation could relate to a real world situation for me. The story needed to work as an analogue for ideas of human growth and development, but it didn't work at that layered level for me. If you could set the story progression more in the emotions of the characters, or have their encounter be more telling on a symbolic and semiotic level it would have much more impact.


You spent a lot of time establishing the dream world at the beginning of the story, but you didn't use that to take me anywhere. The first few paragraphs seemed like an effort in purple prose, but it wasn't establishing the significance of the world, or even any surreality I'm familiar with in dreams. Compounding this was the disconnect in their actions, where you were speaking with a significance using ideas that you hadn't established earlier in the text, or connected to the vitality or reality of the setting, and that came across as disjointed. I didn't enjoy the world, I didn't feel any connection in the characters, and I didn't feel any urgency in the task. The prose to me was very heavily influenced by the setting of the story, with story-centric stylistic choices seemingly important, but the story didn't have any purchase with me for it to work. Really, it was just a fight between some people and it was reliant on the dream world setting to carry it, but you didn't establish any reason for me to care about it. It all came across as rather "floaty" like any dream you don't fully have a grasp on, and that's fleeting in many ways but that also has a lot of significance in the moment. It read like you were too caught up in the feeling of dreams as you wrote it, and not connected enough with how that feeling in the writing translates to a reader that doesn't have the emotional buy in you have as a writer. Maybe it was too solemn, and somber, the impact that you were seemingly trying for didn't come across for me with what was really a plot and problem for the characters that didn't have any tension or weight, and was impacted by disjointed prose that might pass for the feeling of a disjointed dream.


This story was the easiest to read of what I've read so far. The writing was coherent, and the progression of what happened all made sense. I could picture the situation and setting quite easily. There was nothing challenging me in the way you told it, or what you were establishing with no complex ideas that drew me out of what you were saying with your writing. This is generally a really good thing, the flow of a story being well set and translated to a reader, but in this case it was because the story wasn't tackling any big idea, a strange setting, or a complex emotion. You could have tackled a complex emotion, the duality of the character's thoughts towards their roommate between when she was high, and when she was sober, but you just had her forget everything, and return to being a dickhead (or at least I feel you wanted her to be a dickhead.) There was plenty of room to show a struggle in the protagonist's character, and ground the story in a personal difficulty between conflicting ideas and motivations in one person, but you didn't press that at all. Using the mushrooms to show two sides of a person is great, but the changes between the two situations didn't make up for my lack of care for the person. She had no motivation or drive to achieve any change, or desire to better her situation. It just set two scenes against each other, leaving any take away up to the reader. The big problem for me is that I didn't feel any regret, disappointment, or sympathy for the character, or even anger at them for missing an opportunity for growth and keeping on being a dick. The story really seems like you had an idea for that, but didn't detach yourself enough from the draft you submitted to see any humanity in it, rather than a simple, but easily scanned story. This could be brought up a few levels by adding some pathos and allowing the reader to gain some empathy for someone in it. Even focusing more on the roommate, and elevating his part of the story might work. Show his anger, frustration or disappointment. Making me feel sympathy for him, maybe even telling the story from his point of view. It's a finely told story, but I didn't relate much, or even hate or be angered enough by the protagonist to get what I would have liked from it.

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Winston Undressed

This was a nicely poignant story right until the end. The black mould on someone's head allowed a light touch where a real life illness might demand a more sombre approach, with a little more severity. It was also disgusting enough to be evocative, and you could lean into that because of the not-real illness, without risk of faux pas compared to something someone could really suffer from. I had fully bought into it, and was looking forward to a solid ending that would tie up the situation, or make some judgement on it. It's just the surreal step didn't work for me. You already had established the one alternate reality situation with the head fungus, and I can accept that, then you threw in another aspect about pulling flesh off, and him not seeming too bothered by it. It's an added unreality that was never grounded anywhere in the story, or hinted at other than I already know we're in an another reality. The situation we were in established something I accepted, quite readily and made me feel for the character, then the ending added something new and I didn't know what to make of it. It taints the rest of the story because it has me asking questions of something I had accepted, but it doesn't provide any answers other than, "this is a different world." It doesn't say anything to me even on a symbolic level. It's just layering a situation I don't understand on top of one I had to accept for no real pay off. This may very well connect for other readers, but for me it came out of nowhere. The story didn't need it over giving a straight ending with an emotional tie-in. If there was something in the surreality that did connect with me, it could work, but it seems like a gamble that's not necessary.

Hawklad posted:

Mycometempsychosis

This had all the elements of a well told story, but really the focus was too much on giving me details that seemed superfluous, and at the cost of the core of what I saw in the whole piece. It's definitely something I do as well, and I felt it in the story that I wrote this week with having to give enough detail and examples of what was happening to the protagonist, and not being able to focus enough on the feel of the story, or the emotions and drive of the storytelling. Your prose was perfunctory rather than impactful, telling or evocative. For me there were details that didn't need to be there, like her being at odds with the billionaire space tourist man. You gave him more feeling than you did the spaghetti mushroom ball. And her fight seemed to be with him, rather than trepidation at the mystery or wonder of the comet-like thing. It would work better for me if she was at odds with the situation, rather than at odds with a fellow astronaut who served no real purpose. The story, although easy to follow and understand didn't seem to have its priorities in the right place. It was like the style of the story was one thing, and the telling of the story was set in another feeling. For me you really had to embody the tension, awe and even a sense of foreboding in the writing, which didn't come across. The idea is solid and I appreciated it, but the approach to telling it fell short.

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I don’t know what it means when

I enjoyed the meditative aspect of this. Just someone letting flow with their thoughts, and almost eulogising their friend. It had a strong voice. And even though I didn't particularly like the particular, it was distinct enough for me to have an idea about the speaker in my mind. His reading into the signs of the garden, the mystical and spiritual aspect of it was nice. My big problem with it is the purpose of it, which sets it apart from and in many ways above a lot of the stories I've already read this week. At least in immediate ambition and lofty goal. While the other stories were set in a narrative dealing with a situation (mostly) or telling me something, this left me riding on the effect of his rumination and shared feeling I took from it. It didn't make me ask questions about anything, it didn't make me feel like I should question anything about larger issues, or my own situation. It was a far bolder attempt at prognostication than any other story so far, but it didn't achieve that feeling in me that makes me stop and address what could come from it, either for the character or me as a reader. I think you need to add some doubt or conflict to the person speaking. There needs to be a question or desire embedded in his thought process for it to carry over to me. You achieved the voice of someone potentially posing those questions, and you achieved the mood necessary for those questions to be prompted in the prose, but there was nothing posed in the entire piece. I felt like I should have those questions, the feeling of the piece set me up for them, but nothing of the story prompted them. For me it just needs a little more direct emotion, or doubt, or forcefulness about a situation from the character.

Chili posted:

Week CCXLV


As One

This is a bold choice of story, but it didn't do anything for me. A mystery item speaking of how it's used, but there's no personification of emotion or desire in the prose. The writing is as unfeeling as an object. Maybe the object is obvious, but while I have a feeling of what it is it seems irrelevant. I have no need to know about it, or understand anything about its purpose or existence. I can imagine a story like this working as a commentary on humanity, seeing the world through a person's use of things, or wasting of resources. I didn't see any comment on anything here. This just feels like a writing exercise in giving a viewpoint to something non-real, but there's no view or voice to it. The decision not to give it an identity in saying what it actually is seems like your trying to add work for the reader to stand in for a story with purpose or a position on something. At first I felt like a meaning would develop as the story progressed, but when it didn't I didn't feel any attachment to anything you wrote. It's a risk of a story, and it could very well work for some readers, but it didn't for me.

The Cut of Your Jib posted:

I Forgot What's Real and What's Not as I Fall Farther and Farther into the Bullshit World I Made for Myself
1200 Words

I have no idea what is going on in this story. I read it very slowly, trying to piece together the relationship between the characters, the bits of the setting, the animals, and the occurrences. Paragraphs lope from one subject to another. It seems all to be sit in a world that's connected to its other parts but I can't decipher why they're connected, other than they reference each other. There doesn't seem to be a reasoning to why they're relevant to each other. I could read it again, but I'm not sure I want to sit down with a pen and paper mapping out each piece's relevance to another. It's only typing this up that I've looked at the title, and I guess that makes some sense of it. It's a bullshit world that's not real. It needs to be real for a reader though, even any unreality of it. I was two thirds of the way through the story and my idea of whose voice it was in was still jumping around. I didn't know who was telling the story. There seems to be tense changes. Some elements of the story are established and then fall away only to come up in asides later. Maybe it's experimental storytelling with simple prose that makes sense on an immediate level, but it just left me confused about what I should be looking for. I guess it's just a woman dealing with her lovely situation, and thinking of things going on around her. There's no thread to draw me through the whole progression of your writing though. There's no stable reality for me to latch onto and judge everything else by. Maybe this could work, but for me you'd really have to establish the voice of the storyteller with a much firmer hand. There is definitely writing that challenges a reader to summit its ambition, but this is more a cliff of incomprehensibility.


There was a nice sensitivity to this, flitting at the little ideas of the protagonist's world. As I read on it built up its tone, in a way similar to the character's aging. The ocean scene the seeming climax and then a nice denouement with the phone call to the mother. I have some appreciation for grounding it entirely in the protagonists viewpoint, and the ending being a revelation that there was some effect of the early implanted symbiote, and it being out of the ordinary without the protag's realisation. The few hints at her otherness were soft, and I appreciated them thinking back on the story. It was well told, with a nice pace and a building sense of significance, but because it was so set in the character's view I didn't understand any urgency or struggle as I read it. The reconnection at the end with her mother didn't pay off as a need I felt had to be addressed, rather it coloured a retrospective view of the story. The whole story felt too light for me, and too delicate as though you didn't want to stake out any real issues. It came across as too suggestive after a full read through, rather than elements of it being declarative, and I feel it needs some firm declaration of an issue of significance. The prose was enjoyable and easily read. Everything worked in it, but it still felt lacking. It really feels like this needs more writing for it to work, with more areas where we can see some conflict, or problematic aspect to the protagonist's life. The change at the end didn't pay off enough for me because I didn't see any need for a change, and it seems the character didn't desire it, and she wasn't aware of anyone else's desire for it. It's a fine balancing act, because the soft touch really helped the story, it was just a little too soft for me and didn't establish enough of a stake in what was happening.

Maybe having a little more contrast would help. It worked really well in not overstating the immensity of any one thing personal to someone, and you erred on the side of understatement which is a lot more satisfying than blowing out the other side and making importance of something that isn't that important, or notable. This needs some fine tuning to have more of a striking effect, but it's very solid in what it's done. I just enjoyed it more writing a critique of it, than I did thinking back on it after I read it. There's too much work expected from me to read into it, when without giving the critique it wouldn't have attracted that attention from me.

Jay W. Friks posted:

The Cornerstone Bandits

Despite a fantastical premise, this is a perfectly mundane story. There was no real progression, tension, or resolution to it, other than me looking to see where you took the fantastic elements. When it starts off she's just dealing with a senile doctor, but you as an author strongly show there's something more to it. However you don't give any sense of realisation of horror to the character who's experiencing the story. I didn't vicariously experience anything she experienced, and I was detached the whole way through, just reading to see what happened. And what happened was she saw something monstrous and was scared. There was another story like that this week, Fleta McGurn's space asteroidal noodle story, and I have the same criticisms for your story as that, but more pronounced. You didn't set up any sense of foreboding or horror, there was no feeling of how untoward the situation was, and you didn't show any increasing fear as the situation become progressively more terrifying, or intimidating. I'd like to feel something as I read, but nothing in this story made me feel anything. You did set me up to wonder what I was going on, but even then you didn't really say anything interesting about it. It's just a MacGuffin Bad Thing. With one "normal" person involved if I could be drawn into some of their panic or worry, or feel their escalating terror it would do a lot, but this read like a police operation with supernatural fluff. Like I said, I did want to see what was happening when the emotion of the piece didn't pay off, but the idea behind it didn't pay off either. You did well in making me pose that question to the story, you just didn't answer it in a way I appreciated.

BeefSupreme posted:

The Ideal Husband

If I really push myself I can see some depth here contrasting the humanity of a robot versus the humanity of someone who marries a robot whose purpose is to fulfill their desires. It's a real stretch though. The woman in this comes across as vapid and vacuous, which could be a good thing but there was no sense of awareness in her thoughts, or from the story as a commentary on her. The characterisation of the person was too empty, empty enough that she didn't seem real. There was no sense of doubt from her, which in a way is reinforced by her ordering another husbandbot, but there was also no sense of her delusion, or hubris in doing the same thing over and over. If I was given some justification for her motives, and maybe that's what you were going with with her mother's phone call I might have more of a connection. The story was well told, and it flowed well enough that I could follow its progression, which is the reason I'm looking for a greater depth from it. You've managed the surface level of the story very well, but you haven't given it any meaning beyond it. I think you either need to step up the sociopathy of the protagonist, or set her desire against a more telling backdrop, or give her an internal conflict. When she says she wants a baby, the husband says that she knows she can't have that with him/it. If you could establish a reason for her to make those mistakes, a reason for her to believe in the perfection it might allow for a greater fall for her. It could give more impact to her disappointment. There's no need for likable characters, or even characters that you can really relate to, but this story didn't give me any connection to them. It was a well told story, that didn't bring about any feelings for me, or make me question anything. Good words hiding an emptiness, and with the emptiness of the robohusband and protag I tried to search for a depth of meaning to it, but it didn't work for me.

flerp posted:

883 words

Home is where investigators first go when you die

Looking at this from the wall's point of view really seems like a contrivance, and adhering to a prompt with a technicality rather than creating something embodying the prompt. For me the story would be no different if it was told from the third person point of view, with no interaction and just description. You're just starting every paragraph with, "If the walls could forget..." The walls are entirely passive, and not able to do anything. This is the nature of walls, to a degree because you've given them personhood, but there's no action or ability for them to do anything because they're simple observers and that's a facet the storytelling at your control that I felt was a let down. It doesn't have the impact of a watching family member, seeing someone destruct and feeling unable to act, because we know the walls can't act, and there's no sense of despair or any feeling of impotence from the walls at not being able to act. Nor is there an anger at their nature of being entirely voyeuristic. You've given the walls a voice, but you haven't let that voice speak or act in anyway. You haven't let them recoil at their nature of being unable to act. You've made them half a person, but haven't given them enough insight or critical ability to self reflect. It seemed like a halfway house, where the man's actions are supposed to speak, but I'm seeing it from the walls' perspective and I don't have any understanding of the walls' turmoil. Some self analysis on the wall's thoughts, you writing them as more passive, distant and uncaring, maybe even flippant due to their nature, or boosting their awareness to give them stronger feelings could work. You weren't strong enough with personifying the walls, either as an entity somewhat alien to humanity, or personifying them with more humanity for it to really work for me. There was no clutching feeling for me with the story, especially with a subject so serious.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


Sitting Here posted:

Mostly, i just want a totally different story

Mrenda posted:

Good words hiding an emptiness

oh tgod i dont have to worry about winning thanks for taking that burden off my shoulders

phew

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



lazy critting!!!

muffin forgot to finish the title by surreptitious

feel like there's a voice to read this in but it's passing over my head and coming out weird. like a kid who's also drinking and talking about hosed up hands. feel like there's something to this but maybe the point is that the something to this is out there and it's one of those metapoints where you do something weird on purpose to be like 'life is weird'. the evening thing didn't make sense to me until i sat on it.

chili's rear end won

this is pretty and sad but i read it like three times and i'm not sure if waldo is pants or a teddy bear or what. i think it's something to do with pants.

jay w frisk goes to the cornerstone creamery

this is cool but the biggest problem is that it's kinda telly. lola mostly just relates what happened to the Weird Cops and then they do some surreal things off camera. there's plot stuff too that feels extra like lola trying to tear the wing down for materials (like do you make that much money off of demolition?) i got weird but i wanted weirder.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Chocolate tastes bad,
also fuck you <3

flerp:
I liked the idea that Francis tried to work through his family issues through art, but ultimately failed due to a lack of perseverance and/or training. That struck me as very real. I also enjoyed the anthropomorphizing of the walls themselves. That’s something I used to wonder about as a child, and still kind of wonder about. I also liked the description of his hands and how they felt calloused and cold to the walls. Since walls typically feel colder and harder than our bodies, it really made the “character” of the walls seem real to me.

The only thing I wish you’d included is just a smidge more information about why Francis and his daughter had a lovely relationship- her reaction to his suicide read to me like disgust, which works, but from the rest of the story, all I can glean is that he had an acrimonious relationship with his mother’s daughter and that things seemed to have happened recently, because said daughter is still angry about it. Is she mentally ill, and that’s why she’s being such a bitch about what happened? Is Francis? Did finally give up after years of frustrations, or was his suicide a spur of the moment kind of deal?
Overall, an engaging story that made me feel sad and sorry for everyone involved.

BeefSupreme:
I’m impressed that you took the Stepford Spouse trope and managed to keep it interesting, while highlighting problems that a woman might really have in this situation. I found myself nodding and agreeing with Dani’s reactions to Jonathan’s bland perfection, and sympathizing with her. I absolutely hate romantic comedies and anything with a “perfect man” character, so I was really grooving on the realism here.

quote:

Dani moved only slightly, mere fractions of inches, and yet there was a noticeable shift in her demeanor, in her posture, in the set of her face. Her eyes faded from clear blue sky to roiling ocean depths. Her hair became a blazing corona of golden fire. Her shoulders tightened, and her fingers curled into fists.
This doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the prose; I’m not sure why. Most of the writing is simple and straightforward, but this is pretty flowery.

I like that she murdered him at the end instead of just deactivating him.

In general, I think you did a good job making the surreal feel real. Ooof, say that three times fast.
btw would eat the gently caress out of that omelet right now

Jay W. Friks
I’m sorry, I teach ESL writing, so please understand that it’s my job to tell you that your punctuation bugs me. I am not looking at it in this crit, but arrrrrrrgh. Commas!

Basically, this story suffers from a surfeit of backstory, and from unnecessary details. Why does Rust make Lola go through her story again when he’s allegedly part of an emergency response team, whether he’s actually police or not? Why do I need to know that the water lapped at Lola’s blue heels; does it matter that they are blue? Why isn’t the pediatric wing evacuated if they’re setting off explosives beneath it? If this is meant to be a dream, then it’s not immediately clear to me, as there’s nothing to indicate that except a feeling of unreality.

I feel like you have the makings of a very interesting book here. I would absolutely read a novel about a hospital administrator dealing with spooky poo poo and a mad architect who constructs a physical and supernatural legacy in her hospital. The bones of the story are strong, but the soft tissue needs to be rearranged. Please don’t take this crit as me making GBS threads on you, because if you write a book based on this I will 100% buy a copy. I just feel that the mechanical problems bring it down.

quote:

The figures of several Thrones-one of the different spheres of angels that made up heaven’s hierarchy-stared wide-eyed from the polished lacquer of the doorframe.

I want to highlight this sentence. I don’t know if “Thrones” is significant in some way to the story; I would wager that it is, because it’s capitalized, but there is no indication otherwise. I had to google what an angelic hierarchy was before I could understand most of this sentence; I didn’t know they were arranged in spheres and I don’t understand why it’s significant to the story. Are thrones also spheres? I may be asking dumb questions because I don’t have much of a background in Abrahamic religions, but if I have that issue with your story, someone else might, too. You could have left it at “figures of several Thrones stared from the lacquered door.” I would have understood that Thrones had some level of important, that the door was shiny, that we were probably talking about a carving. Everything else is something you could excise while editing- doors, not doorframe (unless you are talking about a lintel?). “Lacquer” and “polished” serve the same purpose here and you could eliminate one. “Staring’ and “wide-eyed,” again, essentially serve the same purpose.

tl;dr- Edit the gently caress out of this and write a longer story, because I would like to read that.

Uranium Phoenix
This was a cool-as-hell concept. The way Evelyn named her symbiote and introduced her to her class was very much what a kid would do. I also liked that you didn’t waste words explaining why symbiotes are common in the world of your story; you just established it as commonplace right away.

I both liked and disliked that Coralline disengaged from Evelyn as she grew older. I took it as a natural step in the life of symbiote and host. However, this is the one place in the story I did wish I had a teensy bit more info- I suppose Evelyn isn’t going to die, but I was surprised there were no physiological ramifications from the symbiote disengaging from her brain. I did like the description of the saltwater touching her newly-exposed head and giving her a shock, though.

Another thing I enjoyed in this story was the descriptions of Evelyn’s dreams, how she started paying more attention to them and researching why her dreams were different from most peoples’. It also made me hungry.

I don’t have much to say; this was an interesting story incorporating a lot of skillful imagery, and I enjoyed it.

Cut of Your Jib

quote:

I Forgot What's Real and What's Not as I Fall Farther and Farther into the Bullshit World I Made for Myself
I love this title because it feels like something I would have angrily written in my Livejournal, back in the day. It made me smile. As did your description of schnauzers as “little fuzz-tubes.”

Oh, and this:

quote:

And I feel like I might poot in the name of Jesus Christ, but it’s just a limp little toot, nothing to be proud of. My nieces turn the game into a “no contest.” They hold their summer dresses tight around their butts so you can see the vibrations. Fart at will. Their Mom, my sister, is not happy, as they giggle and fart their way through Tom’s baptism.

HA!

This story is sort of arrestingly weird. I don’t exactly know what’s going on, or why, but your writing is sufficiently funny and varied to make it entertaining. I think the one change I would make is to structure it a little bit. My impression is that the narrator is describing the bullshit world in which he (?) is trapped, but I don’t really understand how he feels about it. The title suggests he is angry, the story suggests he is not. Does it matter? Maybe not.
Overall, this seems more like a series of random thoughts, but they are sufficiently interesting thoughts.

Chili
This depressed the poo poo out of me. Poor Waldo.

This is solid and I don’t really have anything to add. I’m just really impressed that you managed to tell a complex, detailed, and interesting story in so few words. Kickin’ rad.

SurrepetitiousMuffin
This entry was weirdly similar to Cut of Your Jib’s, but I think it’s more effective as a proper story. I understand who the narrator is, who his friends are, what kind of life they lead. This also depressed me, because I think 90% of the people I grew up with are leading this kind of apathetic life. It seemed a very likely thing to me, that someone would think and talk like this.

I enjoyed the narrator’s meandering, laissez-faire search for meaning, as well as his reference to Marx. Again, that reads “rural yahoo with a good brain and intellectual curiosity, but no opportunity” in a way that is personally relevant to me, and seems realistic.

Hawklad
I’m imagining Daniel as Richard Branson…

The movie plays out in my head easily: Daniel as Richard Branson, although I suppose for the movie Robert Downey Jr. would work better. Rebeca is someone hot but bland-looking- Jessica Biel? No, let’s give it to Jessica Chastain; she’ll do a better job when the alien lifeform puts her back on earth and she starts acting weird. Sigourney Weaver should have a cameo, maybe as the President.
Anyways.

According to James Alan Gardner, mushrooms do well in space, so I enjoyed the idea of a sentient mycoform. As for the writing itself, I think you gave a sufficiently fleshed-out background without frontloading the story (this is usually my problem, so I applaud you). I understand the characters right away, too: Rebeca is a dutiful overachiever, Daniel is a space butthole.

I’ll tell you the same thing I told Senor Friks: if you write a book based on this concept, I will buy and read it.

Tyrannosaurus
This is well-written and the concept is creepy as gently caress, but I feel like it would have benefited from a bit more horror or detail about the ickiness and a bit less personal reflection on Winston’s part. It was well done, but I simply don’t care about Winston’s thoughts because I’m too busy wanting more information about Mae’s hideous head growth. I did feel very sad and sorry for the couple; if this was written as a metaphor for dealing with a partner’s terminal illness, it would be very moving, but I wasn’t completely sure that’s what you were going for. If it was meant to be a horror story, it does a great job of selling the characters as people, but it needs a bit more oomph on the horror end.

Fleta Mcgurn
u suck ho
I am interested to see who thinks Dana is a boy and who thinks he/she is a girl. I imagined the character as male.

Radical and BADical
This should win, in my worthless opinion.

Thranguy
Or maybe this should win.

Both of the above stories are so good that I simply don’t have anything useful to say, just WOW and NICE and COOL and and they were both excellent. Impressed down to my socks.

Mrenda
Distracting punctuation issues.

This story strikes a nice balance between establishing the society and culture in which the main characters live, and detailing the relationships between the characters. Reading Grace and Marianne’s interactions gave me an immediate impression as to who they are as people, their relationship, and the history of their relationship. I’m also impressed at how well you managed to communicate the father’s personality without him even appearing in the narrative. Grace is interesting and I connected with her in a way that I usually never do for quiet characters.

I’m really drawn to the setting of this story; would be interested in exploring it further.

Djeser
owwww my eyes but I LOVE IT

Once I attuned myself to the rhythm of the main character’s thoughts, I enjoyed it. I feel like she’s thinking in circles, but deliberate circles- crazy not-crazy. I found myself aching to know more about the arachnid overlords (but not really because I am terrified of spiders). I also liked how her thoughts were going between sea and land, in a way. This was a risky move, but I think you pulled it off. I laughed really hard when she tells the cashier she’s going to gently caress her arachnid lesbian girlfriend; imagining that scene with the cashier shocked and creeped out, and the narrator like bitch u don’t even know how hard imma gently caress that arachnid bitch. Very interesting entry.


OKAY DONE. Thanks for helping me avoid 90 minutes of work; poo poo’s slow today.
e: whoa typos

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at Apr 18, 2017 around 05:29

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



Fleta Mcgurn posted:

Fleta Mcgurn
u suck ho
I am interested to see who thinks Dana is a boy and who thinks he/she is a girl. I imagined the character as male.

I initially thought Dana was male (with my referrals to them as a dickhead in my crit. A shameful gendering of insult.) But I read SH's crit, and realised I know of far more Dana's who are female and the only male Dana I know is from the UFC. Although to be fair two of the non-real life female Dana's I know are from the Eurovision. It didn't change my perception of the story, and I still think they're butt who should face up to reality without taking reality bending drugs. But the strength of Eurovision performance names pushed me to change pronouns because I thought I was misgendering a protagonist based on faulty beliefs about gendered names wasn't a good thing.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Chocolate tastes bad,
also fuck you <3

Mrenda posted:

I initially thought Dana was male (with my referrals to them as a dickhead in my crit. A shameful gendering of insult.) But I read SH's crit, and realised I know of far more Dana's who are female and the only male Dana I know is from the UFC. Although to be fair two of the non-real life female Dana's I know are from the Eurovision. It didn't change my perception of the story, and I still think they're butt who should face up to reality without taking reality bending drugs. But the strength of Eurovision performance names pushed me to change pronouns because I thought I was misgendering a protagonist based on faulty beliefs about gendered names wasn't a good thing.

It's cool; I deliberately left it ambiguous. I call girls dickheads all the time.

Eurovision rules, that is all.


e: I couldn't decide if Waldo was a pair of pants or a bag.

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at Apr 18, 2017 around 04:46

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


I have some crits and thoughts too, I'll try not to rehash what SH said too much. Most or all of the stories this week I thought were pretty good.

Djeser

The first time I read this I had no idea what the hell was going on and I was like whaaaaaaaaat. Then I reread it more carefully, and discussed it with another judge, and I was like oooooooooh. At first I didn't really like the gimmick but once I took a bit to parse it I thought this was a really clever, well-delivered story. I'm divided on whether I had to stop and take a minute to figure it out is a good thing or a bad thing, but a) minus points for making a judge feel stupid :P and b) the story was definitely worth the effort. The reader might be taken out of the story by how much they have to parse all the craziness, but I liked it.


Mrenda

Seconding SH's idea that this story kinda feels like it goes in circles re: Grace's stubbornness and all. I agree with a lot of what she said actually so I'll keep my observations a little brief. There were a few points it felt like it dragged on because I was like "OK, I get it already" but on the whole I thought this was solid. I liked the picture you drew of this world people were living in, stuff like the possible negative consequences of a seemingly good cause like universal basic income, and of the people in it. I could see this playing out as like, part of an episode of an anthology TV series or something, and everyone felt pretty well-realised if that makes sense. Like these were actual people and I could see how they had affected each other's lives and how their histories with each other affected their actions in the story. I kind of feel like Grace maybe had too many chances to go back on her refusal to visit her father, which started to feel like labouring the point? But overall, condense the prose a bit and I think this is good.

Edit: Oh, I realised a little quibble I had with your story's world. The scarcity of jobs - wouldn't there still be plenty of work for those that want it?

Thranguy

A bit too expositiony, and I feel like there was a bit of indecision as to what the story actually was. The young love arc felt a bit extraneous, I agree with SH on that. There's some interesting stuff here, in your protagonist's arc and the world you imply, but I think another go-around would have to be a little more specific in focus so that the overall story has a bit more room to grow.


Radical and BADical!

I'm a sucker for pretty prose, so I liked reading this one, even if I do see where SH is coming from when she says some of the prose is overwrought. The pacing felt a bit rushed, and while obviously huge exposition dumps are bad, I kind of wished you'd let the story catch its breath and give us more of an idea of what's going on and, frankly, why we should care. Who are these people? What are the blinks? What's with the dream trips? Why is it significant that the bad guy is in a coma? Who, exactly, did the bad guy betray and for what? There's no real feeling of what the stakes actually are here, especially since the actual confrontation with the villain is kind of abrupt and anticlimactic. I feel like this is meant to be a larger story and had important sections carved out to fit the wordcount.


Fleta

I wish this story had given me more to sink my teeth into, it's pretty light, but it isn't bad. I'm just having a hard time thinking of stuff to say about it and I vaguely feel like it could be even better. I liked the moment Dana and Jason had, it felt like real people having a real conversation, even if here and there Jason had flashes of being too good to be true. As a self contained, personal story, though, I think it works. Not everything needs to be monsters and world-ending threats after all. I think the story would've been improved by more conflict, even if it's just more internal struggle from Dana, but as it is it isn't awful or anything.


Tyrannosaurus

This was great right up to the end. The end though, that... not so much (side note: props for the fact your title actually foreshadows the ending). You did a great job illustrating the fantastical body horror with the cancerous fungus thing, I could practically see (and feel a bit revolted by, honestly) the fungal infection as it spread, and I was pretty hooked with how you developed Mae and Winston's relationship and how much they mean to each other. Bravo, encore, all that. The ending was a big stumbling block though, because while I can see how it ties in thematically with the rest of the story - to the point I consider it a little on the nose in fact - it's a really hard left turn into surrealism that I feel comes a little abruptly without much in the way of buildup (there is some, I'll grant, but see my note on tying in thematically), and doesn't really wrap up or resolve the story so much as stop it. It's one hell of a shocking visual but I feel like that does the story a disservice.


Hawklad

This would work a bit better as a larger story, or maybe even a script or something. I could definitely see it as like a short film or the prologue to a longer one. You did manage to get a whole plot arc in, and some decent characterisation, but I feel like the story runs up against its wordcount in some ways that don't let it develop as much as it could; there's a lot of detail that doesn't need to be in there, and I feel like a bit too much attention is paid to Dennis and a bit too little to the space mushroom comet thing they're supposed to be exploring. I know that comes up when Dennis just straight up leaves Rebecca to die (missed opportunity to humanise the dude whose entire personality is "dickhead internet billionaire" by the way! You could have done something interesting with him but you just didn't) but there's points where it feels like misplaced emphasis and takes away words that could have been dedicated to the weird alien monster. Ironically, for all that I felt told rather than shown, with most of those said details. Like SH said, too, it's basically standard first contact stuff except the evil alien is some kind of fungus. It's decently written and delivered and I like how it all comes together as a coherent arc, but I feel like it didn't do a lot to rise out of that mould. Not bad at all, but stumbled at enough points I can't call it great or anything.

I might come back to this crit because I feel like I got a bit jumbled up and contradicted myself at points. Critting a crit?


Muffin

I like how this one got meta and conflated the reader's and narrator's desire for answers. I vaguely feel like I didn't entirely "get" this story, but there was enough there, and implied, to make for an interesting hook. Plus, tying back into the first thing I said, you created a sense of wanting more and I feel like that was maybe intentional to make the reader/narrator connection? It's a good hook and left me with a vague sense of dissatisfaction, curiosity, and desire to see more, which is great if that was intentional and not so much if it wasn't. I will say to me it sort of felt more like a meditation than a narrative? But hey, writing is writing.

Chili

I think you did yourself a big disservice by sticking to such a small wordcount, and since a few people I talked to and saw talk in IRC had no idea what the hell Waldo was (a wallet) I feel like I have to ding you for lack of clarity. This feels in a lot of ways more like an experiment than a story, though the picture it paints is an effective one. Props for the non-human perspective, and for trying something new, but it didn't really land at all for me. It was a thing that happened from the perspective of a thing, and there wasn't any real meat there.

Jibs

Too incoherent. I'll probably elaborate on this later but that's basically how I felt reading the story. A jumbled up mess of stuff happening that nicely illustrates how absurd living in a town can be, but left me going "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh?" Maybe I'm just an idiot.

Uranium Phoenix

This is another one where my enjoyment of the prose and some of the themes at play made me like reading it even though I could see the issues at play. I like a lot of the core ideas here, although I do wonder to some extent if the time jumps do the story a disservice; I feel like they both help it and hinder it. I also feel like as the story went on it kept raising all these questions about the setting that never got a satisfactory answer. What are the symbiotes? Does everyone get them? Why? Are they temporary, given Evelyn just up and lets hers leave at the end? If you can just take these things off whenever you want and off they go, what's the purpose of them exactly? How does sticking a sea fungus to your head fix your skull, and why would the kids suddenly make fun of her once they got their own? Why would she care, given it literally saved her life? (Well, she's a teen in that part of the story, but...) A lot of stuff seems like it gets introduced and just left there while the story moves on, without really sinking its teeth in. Like we'll just take stuff as given because Evelyn is The Protagonist. I didn't really get a sense that there was much of an actual conflict here, either, until there suddenly was, and even then there wasn't like a feeling of mystery or tension or anything. Her weird dreams turn out to be a message from the symbiote, because of course they do, and without much in the way of internal conflict she goes to the ocean and lets it go, because of course she does, and while I kind of like how it ties back to her mother and the conversation they had as Evelyn went off to college, the whole thing felt a bit cliché. I got the feeling that the ideas in the story were presented to us, the reader, and we were given the task of really building something out of it. I liked a lot of the imagery and thematic content as presented, but feel like they could have been sharpened up.

Also, yeah, ditch the "talking heads" stuff SH mentioned.

Jay W. Friks

I liked the initial hook and some of the prose, and this is another one I feel would be better as part of a bigger story than this format. That said, there's not a lot here that really invests me, as much as I'm curious about the clearly supernatural stuff going on there's not really much in the way of apparent tension or stakes. Stuff like the colour of the doctor's heels seems like pointless detail, too. I feel like you either didn't have enough room to make this story what it could be, or you were going for a sort of unreal, dreamy vibe that landed too well and made me feel really disconnected from everything that was happening.I liked the idea of this random doctor at a random hospital having come up against something far bigger than she can imagine, but the story didn't really draw me in so much as just toss that stuff down all matter-of-fact. We don't even really get a sense of what your protagonist is thinking or feeling through this, it's just kind of... there. I didn't like the mention of the pediatric wing either; putting kids in potential danger is a huge shortcut for making the reader care.


BeefSupreme

Honestly, I didn't like this one. I thought it was a boring reverse-Stepford situation with a protagonist who was honestly kind of a dim bulb and with whom I couldn't really relate. That breakfast scene made me hungry/gave me the urge to cook, gotta admit. I understood the emotional beats you were trying to hit, but those just didn't hit for me, and though I understand how you were trying to build up to it I thought the jump to murder wasn't really developed enough to be a good payoff as opposed to a "HA! MURDER!" kind of thing. Also I guessed way ahead of time that she was going to murder the robo-husband, so it would've been nice to take the story in a less predictable direction.


flerp

Too much "just", and while repetition is a valid literary device I don't feel like it helped much here. I connect with the core idea enough to elevate this story to being pretty good, although I think in some places it falls flat. I feel like an impartial observer to all this, which can work but there has to be some kind of tie there. Maybe if the personification of the walls had more of an emotional kick, and/or was tied more closely with the character's outsider art project? There's a sense of helplessness here, as the walls can only bear witness to this man totally self-destructing, and if you'd taken that and run with it instead of just leaving it there I feel like this would be a lot more powerful.

Flesnolk fucked around with this message at Apr 18, 2017 around 10:17

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007


I could have sworn I heard something about fjgj but I guess not

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


paging moderator SebMoLo to the thread.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Sitting Here, Mrenda, Fleta McGurn and Flesnolk:

Thank you all so much for the crits. I took something from each one and you have no idea how much I appreciate the thought you all put into them. Thank you.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



Sitting Here posted:

judgment

will happen roughly 5 hours from this posting.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014



fjgj

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Crits

Djeser: I honestly really liked this story even though I took one look at the style and was like "gently caress this". However, I forced myself to parse the craziness and I'm glad I did. The chaos inside the protag's mind is amazingly consistent, and it is easier than it looks to pick up the thread of the overarching story. My main problem with this story, as is often the case with my own writing, is that nothing actually happens. Our character suffers a psychotic break and kills herself, I think? The ending was pretty ambiguous, but I get that because you kind of set yourself up to walk a fine line between more obvious exposition and subtle order within the craziness. You couldn't just come out and say "and then she threw herself into a body of water that just happened to be nearby and drownded" because the story demands a different touch but I think the ending fell too far on the other side. Or was that whole thing supposed to be a metaphor for her giving in to the insanity and just being completely swept away by it? I can't figure it out.

Mrenda: Once again, I began reading the first couple of paragraphs and was like "hell no", mostly because there is some clumsy writing in there and a few grammatical errors. In fact, I think the whole story is kind of plagued by the same problems as the opening all throughout. However, you picked a topic that is very, very near and dear to my heart: massive wealth/opportunity inequality. I'm thinking it's basic socialism for the have-nots and ultra-libertarian for the haves? Either way, you've done a great job of describing the situation (and it is a pretty scary one) without really hitting people over the head with it. The problem is I kind of hate both sisters and their dad seems like kind of cock as well, on top of the fact that there is no real goal in the story. Basically, Rich Dad is dying, rich sister wants deliberately poor sister who is poor out of protest to see him, she doesn't really give a poo poo because...reasons that aren't included in the story really...so she doesn't see him and we close the story with a childishly bitter mental dig against him. So we have a setting, 3 completely unsympathetic characters and a description of some excuses on poor sister's part that could easily be overcome if she wasn't so hell bent on taking a principled stand out of shame. There is some blisteringly smart political commentary going on behind the scenes but it is mostly in the stuff you left unsaid, and nothing really happens anyway so it is hard to retain interest and discover that message.

Thranguy: I have to say I loving loved this story. It reminded me of the very first times I picked up one of my Dad's Asimov's or a Weird Tales back when I was a young sprout and really discovered my love of F&SF. As in Mrenda's story, the inevitable fall-out from hyper-captialism is the brush with which you seem to have painted the lives of your characters. The little touches you added here and there that fleshed out the setting were good, and I'm pretty sure I've read a lot of the Faerie-folk stories that you took inspiration from. However, I had a hard time with this particular bit of writing:

Thranguy posted:

“Synth don’t count,” said Tuesday. “So that just leaves, what, shrimp on Fridays?”

“Shrimp on birthdays,” I said.

“Poor thing,” he said. “We may make room for a bit more shellfish than once a week, but not for a whole kid. So you’ll have to pay what you owe some other way.”


First: I feel like you forgot to edit this because no one I know has a birthday every week, so I'm already a little taken out of the story because these two statements don't match up to me and I honestly don't know what "We may have shellfish more than once a week but not for a whole kid" is even supposed to mean. Second, why does Tuesday and his group get to keep the kid? I mean, I know Fey lore pretty well so I feel like I have an idea what you were going for, but people who don't know the unwritten rules of Arcadia are just not going to be able to follow this part because they're not going to know that your life is forfeit if you trespass in Arcadia without an invitation or take from the Fey or mess something of theirs up. Also, where was the conflict or goal?

Fleta McGurn: The premise of your story was fantastic, I was thinking "So, we have the classic Odd Couple situation and psychedelics are involved. This should be hilarious...I hope Fleta has done mushrooms before..." Honestly, the events should have written themselves because we've all read stories like this, cliched as they often turn out to be, so I like the fact that the straight man didn't get dosed. But then nothing really happens, funny or otherwise! Protag does drugs and realizes that their room-mate isn't such a bad guy and actually has a personality beyond being a religious teetotaler. The writing in this story is very solid, nothing really jumped out at me as being clunky or wrong and I enjoyed how it flowed but it was kind of like coming into a Lifetime Original Movie about 20 minutes from the end. Don't get me wrong; I loving love LOMs (I Know My First Name is Steven is a goddamn classic) so you should take that as a compliment but I would kinda liked to have seen more build-up between the two main characters before the eventual resolution of "drugs helped me expand my mind enough to accept that the fundy I pre-judged is a multi-faceted and kind person".

Tyrannosaurus: I loved this story as well for a lot of the same reasons I loved Thranguy's; I could easily see myself come across this story in an Asimov's. It was well written, it flowed well and I got a little squicked about the body-horror in a very pleasant sort of way. You lost me at the end, though. Is the mold benevolent? Is the mold a parasite? Why would he assist this lifeform by feeding it? What is it actually doing to his wife besides consuming her and converting her to more mold? Why is he hastening that progress? Then I reached the last little bit and I'm completely lost. Is it a metaphor for taking a long hard look at yourself? The way it's written I feel like he actually pulled himself apart. Like I said, I'm not sure what you were going for here, I just feel really drat sad about what happened prior to reaching the end. As soon as I start thinking about how confusing the situation is, however, the story loses that impact for me.

  • Locked thread
«118 »