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Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' -Samuel Johnson

The Skull Beneath


1185 words

Laura Bennix, as everybody knew, was the deathworker of Half Moon Bay, California.  The citizens of that town took pride in her presence, even though very few of them could, if asked, tell you what, exactly, a deathworker did, or was, or could even speculate as to what national origin a name like 'Bennix’ might indicate. They would be hard pressed to come up with a single additional piece of information concerning Laura, apart from the fact that she was single.  At the moment, Laura was engaged in conversation with a blue whale named Louis.  While nobody in Half Moon Bay would have guessed that in particular, those who knew her best, the various neighbors, librarians, waitstaff and bartenders of the town, would not have doubted it for an instant if you told them, although they would have imagined the conversation to be carried out mostly in gesture and assumption, with song and with dance.

“There’s a death coming,” said Louis, in perfect English with a slight Texas drawl.  “A big one, five skulls swimming on eight ink-black legs.”

Laura sighed.  “You’re sure?”  She should have known.  Louis didn’t come around just to socialize, not in the winter at least.  The whale nodded, and the wake from that nod nearly capsized Laura’s speedboat.  “How soon?”

“Two days,” said the whale.  He dove into the sea and left Laura to her work.  Two days.  Five skulls.  It was going to be a busy weekend.

* * *

Most places don't have a deathworker. They aren't very common.  So when a big death comes to them it hits all at once. A massive automobile accident. An apartment fire. A mass shooting.

Early in her career, Laura had some questions about this, along the vein of free will and such.  One of her deaths, a tall death with wings of fire and ebon skin, explained it to her.

“The men who lose control of the chariot or who start the brawl are the cause, are fully to blame. Their paths call us to them.”

“And when I do my work?” she asked.

“You change their minds,” said the death.  “How can you call a will free if their minds cannot change?”

* * *

Laura returned to the sea two days later.  She knew exactly where to go. The water-death rose out of the waves, and she trembled.  She began her offering.

“Jacoby Forrest,” she said, holding up the skull. It was not the one he would be buried with the next morning. It was his other skull,clean and white as pearl.  Jacoby had been ill, and in pain. He saw the arrival of the deathworker as a blessing, and welcomed her touch, grabbed her hand and pressed it to his forehead. She wished more were as him, envied the deathworkers of towns with enough people so ready to go.

“Peter Hawk.” The second second skull was black and grease-shiny, as though it was made of tar. It was solid, and it made a small splash as it hit the water.  She found Peter in the prison.  He cowered in the back of his cell as the guards opened the door, screaming for his lawyer.  “Dumb-rear end fool,” jeered the inmate in the adjacent cell, “No lawyer going to stop her.”  He was right.  Peter sold drugs, hard drugs, meth and heroin, and sold to middle schoolers. Guilty, by Laura's standards, which were far more stringent than the law’s. She touched his head, took what she came for, and left the building.

“Miranda Sykes.” A maroon skull with blue veins.  She begged for Laura to pass her by. She offered bribes. Laura had been least sure about her, up until the moment Miranda offered to give Laura her own children in her place. Then she knew that the stories of decadence and neglect that had led her to this house were true. Her finger jabbed out and she fell dead.  Laura hoped Miranda's daughter would be better off in care of the state. She knew things wouldn't be, couldn't be worse.

The fourth skull was small, dark grey, shades swirling and unformed. She whispered the name. “Darren Sykes.”

“You're here for me too,” the boy had said.  He didn't look a day older than thirteen.

“Do you think so?” said Laura.

“You have to know about the squirrels,” said Darren.  She did. Staked to the ground, vivisected, four at least, four that weren't found first by other animals.  “And I know what that means.”

“It's not a sure thing. You could get help-”

“I have dreams. About my mother. About my little sister. And it-” Darren swallowed hard. “It felt great.” Laura's hand started to move. “Is that what it's like for you?”

She pulled back. “No,” she said. “There's some satisfaction, in doing it right. In making something random and cruel into something closer to justice. But there's no pleasure in the killing.”  Not for the deathworkers who lasted, at least. The ones who didn't, some of them started to like the killing too much, or to like the power, to start making their choices based on personal grudges or abstracted political theories.

Darren coughed.  She had been lost in thought for minutes. “I think,” he said, crying, nearly choking, “I think I'm ready now.”  Laura nodded, and touched his head.

“That's four,” said the skull-faced death. “Where is the last?”

Laura dove into the water. That was always the way. The last skull was the deathworker's own, usually refused, in favor of other kindnesses to lonely ancient Death.

All of the deaths were Death, were the same person. But they reflected different desires, different needs. The fire deaths came for long and intellectual debates. The earth deaths shared pleasantly empty conversation over exquisite meals. The air deaths played games, chess or go or showdown poker.

And the water deaths were all about the physical act of love, had been from the beginning.

* * *

They were sailing on Homer’s wine-dark sea and then they weren't, she, an old maid of eighteen years, her father, his new wife, and their infant child. No longer above the water but below, with many-armed death coming fast. She swam to him, begged with water filling her throat for mercy. She saw kindness, already felt the beginnings of love, though that may have been the start of drowning. He kissed her, skull jaw and teeth warm on her lips, then nodded. She made it to shore, carrying her half-brother, still miraculously alive, breathing. A fire death came soon to explain the details and perform the rituals and ceremony, to make it official.

* * *

When Laura entered the water her lower half transformed to match his, the lower half of an octopus, tentacles shining white. They kissed, then coupled, an abstract tangle of black and white and joy.

The term for her role wasn't always 'deathworker’. For the first few thousand years of her life, Laura and those like her were instead known as deathwives. She preferred the new name. It was, perhaps, less accurate, less true, but only in ways that weren't anyone else's business.


Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome

How to Die in the Arms of a Merman
1658 words

Edited out of thread; available on the archive

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at Jan 1, 2018 around 02:12

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning

<1,500 words

The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2017 around 01:25

Apr 30, 2006

1,144 words

Online I don’t tell anyone I’m a merman. I let them get disappointed. The last one was Kelsey. We matched on Tinder and we sent jokes back and forth. She loved sailing so I told her she should take me sailing sometime. Little did she know I didn’t want to go sailing after all. We made plans for dinner at a Moroccan place but I didn’t go. I made a video for YouTube where I talked about my two pineapples a day diet. I’m passionate about fitness, and I’m passionate about my brand.

I’m also passionate about making plans. That’s why I liked Kelsey, because we would make a lot of plans. She got mad at me for not showing up. She said Seth are you coming and I said I’m here just look harder. Then she didn’t respond to me. I asked her if she’d forgive me and give me another chance. I told her she scared me because she was beautiful. She asked if I was really fourteen years old. She said once she thought she was building a really close connection to a guy she met on a roleplaying forum, but it turned out he was fourteen years old and she was twenty-six. I said no I wasn’t fourteen and I offered to show her ID, but she said no I don’t even care. Then I said are you free next weekend for sailing lessons. Then I said that four more times. The last time she sent me an address.

What time, I ask her.

Sometimes the people at the beach see me on my phone. They take pictures. The children want to take selfies with me. I let them, and then I make sure they get my business card, which has my YouTube account and my Instagram. But I worry they might make comments about me being a merman. I lay awake at night and worry they will spoil the whole game. I just don’t think anyone would take my fitness tips seriously if they knew I was a merman. I think they would say These fitness tips aren’t for me because I’m not a merman, and maybe our biology is different.

Then one day BuzzFeed posts a link to a video called “MEREMAN [sic] SIGHTING” and it’s a couple of teenagers playing Marco Polo with me. The people in the comments say I am a guy in a suit. That’s the majority opinion. A smaller minority suggests I am an alien.

And some people who watch that video recognize me and they start sending me messages. The hardcore fans realize they have never seen me from the waist down and soon all the fans are trying to see my feet, which I don’t have. I ignore it and post a couple videos about the supplements I take, but the fans are merciless. They want to see me run a mile on shore. They organize a campaign where if I am to run a mile, they will donate several thousand dollars to a charity that feeds malnourished kids. But, like I said, I love making plans, so I say Yes I will run the mile. What time?

The day comes and goes. There are a lot of haters. Then one day a fan shows up at the beach. He’s a tattooed guy in his twenties. He says Hey are you the Two Pineapples A Day guy. I say I’ve never heard of him.

Hey, he says. You are a merman.

It’s true. He takes pictures, and I guess the malnourished kids get fed after all, because he did this. I don’t know, some people were talking about it in the comments, and I didn’t want to read the whole thing.

It’s time for me to disengage anyway. Unplug. I have been routinely skipping sailing lessons with Kelsey. I don’t go to them but I apologizes. She gets mad at me, but I remind her I’m not fourteen, so she forgives me. I’ve started to hide underwater and watch her show up to sailing lessons. I’m thinking of proposing, soon.

Sometimes I think about throwing my phone into the ocean, and that means no more plans with Kelsey, no more adoring crowds yelling Hey Seth I love your abs, no profile in the New Yorker someday. I could just get a new phone, anyway. I think about getting a new phone to film myself throwing my old phone in the ocean and posting it six months later, when the controversy dies down and fossilizes into urban legend.

Instead I make a video, still filmed from the waist up, where I tell my fans I’ll be having a meet-and-greet in Kansas City. I even look up a real location in Kansas City and call the promoters. They send me a contract and tell me that they will pay me three million dollars to make my first ever public performance. I sign the contract, which is one of my favorite parts of making plans.

The day of the meet-and-greet I don’t go, and I'm working on a new video when a wave of fans come by the beach and start chanting. It scares me, and they’re making a lot of noise, so I dive under the water. I wish they’d just go away. I know this is a part of being famous, having to please people, but I just want to talk about pineapples and for random strangers to send me messages like “I love your abs.”

But it turns out the fans are even ready for this, as a young guy in a snorkel swims next to me and says something I can’t understand under the water. When I come up to the surface to escape him, there is a helicopter circling overhead.

Then I hear someone call through a megaphone: “Seth, is that you?”

I see the sailboat first, and then I see Kelsey. I don’t like when people come by unannounced, so I dive deep under the water and try to get my bearings.

Then my mouth gets covered by a net, and I am loaded into a government submarine. I wonder if Kelsey will protest for my release. As I am experimented on I wish I had saved a video of me destroying a phone. I wish that I had given my log-in information to someone else, so they could continue my legacy. But now I have faith in the fans. They found me once. They can find me again.

I imagine Kelsey will come into the submarine, that she will take on the government agents and take them out single-handedly, or at least advocate for me to have more free-swimming space than the thousand gallon tank they’re using now. If the fans don’t save me, Kelsey will, I reason.

I realize the government agents are really just my fans. I treat them like that, which they seem to like. I am apparently on the front cover of a top-secret news cover. They want me to appear at a special meeting of important diplomats. They say I will add character. I say yes, and plan to not go, but they just take my tank and bring me to the special meeting.

I take a vow of silence. They take pictures. It all seems very unfair.

Feb 25, 2014

943 words

It Won’t Hurt Him at All

flerp fucked around with this message at Dec 28, 2017 around 19:23

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

One more hour!

Eight stories is a delightful crop on Christmas, but can we do better? Can we be stronger? Can we be sparklier? You tell me, Thunderdome. Or better yet, show me.

Sep 14, 2010

GenJoe fucked around with this message at Jan 4, 2018 around 01:53

Sep 14, 2007


Out of the Raines
1440 words

Los Angeles is a city of rules. They’d all deny it, of course. It’s California. This is the land of rule-breakers, they’d say. The city of counter-culture, punk rockers, surfers, new money, new, new, new. You can be who you want to be, do what you want to do, say what you want to say.

Maybe compared to the WASP-infested coastline of New England. But that’s a low bar to clear.

Out here, the rules are hidden, but they’re still there. And they aren’t much different than the old rules. One, in particular, never seems to change: men with money get their way.


The door bursts open, shattering the peace of the midcentury-modern home into which it opened. “Ugh. I can’t stand him!”

I look over from the living room, where I’m currently standing, balanced in a sideways lunge with arms extended in either direction. My twin sister Iselle is standing in the doorway, arms akimbo and eyes aflame. She is the vision of teenage fury. I can see through the doorway a trail of leaves settling back to the earth in her wake. “Can’t stand who?” I ask as I resume my martial arts training.

“He is the WORST.” Iselle storms through the room, a trail of possessions on the carpet behind her: backpack, shoes, keys. “With his stupid haircut, and his stupid smirk, and his stupid car!”

“Who’s that?” I ask calmly as I move to a new pose. I know Iselle well enough to know the winds will die down soon enough, even if only for a moment.

“He thinks he can run the whole school! Just because he’s handsome, and his daddy has money.” Iselle stops in the middle of the dining room, her hands now clenched at her side. She’s silent for a second—just one—then a low growl rises in her throat. The winds are about to pick up.

“And he’s right! All those stupid girls swoon over him because he's got a BMW and he refuses to wear a shirt. And the boys. THE BOYS. They all worship that stupid jerk. He brings a skateboard to school, guess what everyone’s got the next day? And seriously, everyone’s just gonna wear puka shells now? I mean, he’s not even COOL. And the admin. Don’t even get me started on those flunky lapdogs!”

“Who, Iselle?”

She notices me for the first time. She marches over to me, limbs and jaw imbued with the type of ire that only a strong-willed seventeen year old girl could muster. She stops a foot from where I stand, balanced on one leg. “Who, Lucas Raines?” She yells. “Who?!” She leans in.

“Chad. Derringer.”


I don’t know Chad Derringer, but if you know one Chad, you know them all. In every school in every city in America, there is Chad, terrorizing his fellow students. We used to have one at my school—Chad Carson—but he didn’t last long. Military school doesn’t suit the Chad’s of the world—and certainly not my school. My sister goes to Santa Monica High, and they’ve got Chad Derringer. They’re all the same, though—hell, maybe they’re literally the same. Whatever the case, one thing is true everywhere: Chad’s reign of terror needs to end.

Iselle wouldn't tell me what Chad did to get her riled up, just that he messed with one of her girlfriends. My sister told me not to do anything, that she could “handle her own problems”. That’s true, no question. But I’ve got a special distaste for Chad’s, and I’ve got a little free time on my hands. So here I am, sitting in my car with a pair of binoculars outside Triton’s Cave, the restaurant where Derringer and his sycophants hang out. I find him quickly: shirtless, puka shells, big sunglasses, and some rainbow-patterned boardshorts. Douchebags sure do make themselves easy to spot. He and his ‘friends’ are sitting on one edge of the patio eating French fries and laughing about something.

On the other end of the patio, around the corner, I spot a kid sitting at the base of the wall, head in his hands. I don’t need to guess to figure out whose handiwork that is. I exit my car and jog over to the kid, dressed in jeans and a polo shirt. His cheeks are wet.

“Let me guess. That jerkoff Chad?”

The kid, no more than 14 or 15, sits up, crosses his arms, and levels a withering glare at me. “Buzz off, boot camp,” he spits.

Geez. Chad even turns his victims into assholes. I walk around the corner. Maybe I’ll end this today. Give Chad a good thumping, knock those sunglasses off his spray-tanned mug, send him home asking daddy for help.

“You Chad?”

The group stops laughing, and everyone looks at Chad. Chad looks at me.

“Do you even have to ask, bro?” No, I don’t. He sits back against the bench and puts both arms up. “And you are…?” Now everyone looks at me. “Oh poo poo, wait, I know who you are. You’re that bitch Iselle’s brother!” Every inch of muscle in my body goes taut. My hands form fists and my legs tense, ready to lunge. I force my face into a smile. “I’ve heard about you. Look at your jarhead-lookin rear end. She send you to come beat me up or somethin? She tell you I broke her heart or some poo poo? That’s hilarious!” Chad doubles over in cruel laughter in only the way bullies can.

“I don’t think you want to—“

Chad stops his laughing and interrupts me. “You’re right, I don’t, Raines. But Blaine does!” Chad looks at one of the boys at the table with him, whose eyes go wide and stare back at Chad. Chad shrugs his shoulders and waves Blaine on. Blaine stands up.

“I’m not here to fight Blaine.”

“You don’t even want to fight?” Chad says, trying to goad me. I’m not that easily baited. “What are you even good for, jarhead?” His cronies laugh after a second.

“I’m here for—“ This time, a car horn interrupts me. Across the street, a silver BMW has stopped, top down, EDM blasting out the stereo. A gaudily-dressed business man with slicked-back hair and expensive sunglasses sits in the driver seat.

“That’s my dad. Gotta jet, turd!” Chad shouts, hops over the railing and jumps into the passenger seat of the car. He fist bumps his dad, and they speed off.

“Nice going, dude.” I turn around. It’s the crying kid from earlier.

Goddamnit, Chad Derringer.


“Listen, Iselle. We’ve got to do something about this Chad guy.”

Iselle turns in her seat to face me. I keep my eyes on the road, but I don’t have to see her to know the path of the hurricane has adjusted ever so slightly. “Lucas Raines, I thought I told you not to do anything. I thought I told you I could handle my own problems.”

“You didn’t really expect me to stay out of this, did you?”

“What are you going to do? Drop some stupid one-liners and use some dumb action hero moves? Beat him up and get our asses sued into Long Beach by his daddy?” She rolls her eyes so hard I can feel the air move. “Not everything can be solved with your fists, Lucas.”

I pull up to the parking lot in front of Iselle’s school. In front, parked illegally and causing a traffic jam, is the BMW from yesterday. On the curb I see Chad and his dad, both shouting and waving their arms wildly at two school administrators.

“Besides, I told you.” I turn to look at Iselle. She’s got a Tyler-Durden grin on her face. “I can solve my own problems.” She flashes her eyes across the street. I follow with mine.

A billboard sits directly across from the school. It’s got a fresh advertisement on it. “Do you know Chad Derringer?” It says. Beneath this, everything you could ever want to know. “Chad cheats in PE.” “Chad can’t hold his liquor.” Then the good stuff. “Chad poops himself during sex.” “Chad is afraid of the dark.” And the finisher. “Chad gave me herpes.”

I turn back to my sister. She’s scrolling through Instagram, already moved on with her life. I can’t do anything but marvel. My sister is a tropical storm, and Chad Derringer a lonely, exposed island in her path. And I’m not sure this Chad can repair the damage from this storm.

Iselle gets out of the car, then turns back to me through the passenger window. “It’s like dad always says. If you don’t want to get wet…”

I finish it for her. “Keep out of the Raines.”

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Cookery (1,300 words)

Patricia never asked to be a wizard. Highfalutin nonsense, all pop and fizzle. She wanted her own five-star restaurant. Somewhere quiet, away from all the noise and commotion. A little place, cozy, classy, and compact. Large enough, maybe, for a handful of patrons. She’d greet them at the door and cook just for them. She’d make it work.

But a wizard she was.

“Excellent as always,” said Mr. Cavendish looking a good ten years younger than he’d come in. Patricia forced a smile as he took his leave. He’d had the soup. He always had the soup. The door swung shut and, like a puppet whose strings had just been cut, she fell into a slump as she collected the tip. He was generous, at least.

“Of course he would be,” she said to herself. “How many places...ah, nevermind.” She had reservations. A large party, it sounded like. She’d need to prepare.

The clock on the wall sounded six, six. “Shoot,” she said. She’d spent longer chatting with the old man than she’d realized. Sweeping the perimeter of the establishment with her eyes, with a flick of the wrist she shut all the blinds. “Hard work. Elbow grease. Right, right.” She sighed and signed some symbols in the air. The remains of Mr. Cavendish’s meal stood up from the table and carried themselves into the back, and the room as a whole began to rearrange itself to better meet the needs of her incoming guests.

Patricia made her way into the back, side-stepping a pair of dutiful brooms. There, near the freezer, she’d hung a calendar. It was the month of December, and the majority of days had already been ticked with cheerful little Os. Patricia drew her pen from her pocket and curtly added an X for the day; the first since November.

“It’s not easy, is it?” asked Murray, solemn yet well-meaning.

“Just...give me a minute, please,” said Patricia, “And back in your tank.”

Murray offered her a nod and returned to his place in the aquarium. He was an eel, or at least resembled one. His name was Murray because Patricia couldn’t think of anything else at the time. She kept him around for moral support, her exception to the rule she’d set for herself.

Curling around his favorite rock, Murray cast an auspicious glance in the direction of the stewpot.

“He seemed to enjoy it.”

“It reinvigorates his lifespan, of course he enjoys it.”

The recipe was an old classic. Perfectly mundane. Patricia had been happy to learn it. No rare ingredients or bizarre rituals. No incantations. A simple soup.

But a wizard she was.

Patricia clapped her hands together in front of her face. She shut her eyes tight, then opened them with a big smile.

“Right, well, back to work then.”

She ducked her head out the doorway in time to see the room finish assembling itself. Touching her fingers together, she drew them apart, and so too were the curtains.

And so too were they who stood out in the cold.

Patricia’s eyes snapped wide.

“That’s my girl!” boomed the exceptionally large man among them, “Cutting corners in all the right places!” He could be heard even from outside - and no doubt across the street. The front door swung open, the little bell affixed to the top signalling the official arrival of guests.

“Dad. Mom.” Patricia blinked. “...Everyone?”

“Of course,” her father said as he squeezed in the door. He was larger than life in all ways which were possible, and quite a few which were, perhaps, impossible. “We know you’ve been busy, but your mother and I thought it would be easier to make time if we were paying customers! Well-paying, of course.” He winked. He took off his hat and stepped out of his coat, both of which hung themselves neatly on the rack.

“And well-behaved,” her mother said. She was a willow of a woman, but a sharp look was enough to temper her husband’s bountiful energy.

“Yes, yes, of course, of course! Ha ha!”

Her father’s laugh was loud and boisterous. Patricia’s own was awkward, stilted. “Ah ha ha well then.” She scratched the back of her neck. “What...what would you like, then? For dinner?”

“Oh surprise us,” said Aunt Mildred, her fingers covered in rings.

“Something warm,” said Little Irwin, her cousin who wasn’t quite so little anymore but cherished childhood nicknames were hard to shake.

“A warm surprise!” said her father. “Like family for the holidays!”

“R-right then,” Patricia nodded, doing mental arithmetic. Seventeen guests. “I’ll just be...right back then. Please, please, take a seat, all of you.” She disappeared into the back.

Murray watched her shut the door and slink down in front of it.

“Larger than you thought? Though I guess it’s like your father to invite a few extra people.”

“Did you know about this?”

“What? No. I just took down the reservation.”

Patricia stared at him.

“Honestly master, I didn't know. He didn’t give his name, and you word-speakers all sound alike to me. Even I sound alike to me when trapped in this form.”

Patricia sighed and stood up. “A surprise. Something warming. Okay.”

There was a knock at the door. “Patricia? Can I come in?” It was her father, only it didn’t sound like him. Not quite like him.

Patricia peeled open the door, and her father filled the kitchen, the sound of chatter and laughter at his back. He shut the door behind himself, and the room was silent.

“Is everything alright, Patricia?”

“Yes, yes, it’s fine, all fine.”

Her father’s face furrowed.

“I was recommended this venue by a friend of mine. A small place, he said, but very homely, down to earth. He spoke of the owner who would sit you down, take your order, but also stay awhile to chat, to get to know you. He said it always felt like going home.” He looked down at his daughter, his eyes black and glittering like the midnight sea. “I suppose it might be different when it’s family but I detect there’s something not quite with everything.”

Patricia leaned back against the countertop. She chewed over the words she wanted to say.

“Are we a problem?”

“What? What? Oh, no, no, you’re not.”

“Then what is?”

“It’s just...I said I never wanted all that. Said i wanted to be a chef.” She spoke as someone tired and weary.

“And your mother and I gave our blessing.”

“But it keeps happening. Whenever I cook anything, no matter the recipe, I always get a little magic in it. And people say they love the food, but do they really? Or is it the magic? Maybe my food is awful but the side-effects keep people coming back. And now you’re here, and yes, I love all of you, but it’s like this big reminder I can’t escape who I am. I can’t just be a chef, I’m a magic chef.” She waved her fingers around for effect.

Patricia’s father nodded.

“Well you know me Patricia, I keep my ears pretty close to the ground. I’ve heard a lot of good things from a lot of different people about this place, and none of them ever mentioned anything remotely magical about it... except of course, for the service provided by the industrious young women who runs the place.”

Patrica sighed. “I know, I know, it’s probably just in my head, but all the same.”

He father clapped her on the back.

“Well, you know I’d tell you if it were bad. So hurry up and cook something so we can be the judge.” He gave her a smile and returned to the front.

Patricia considered his words. She turned and grabbed a ladle.

Murray watched on.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Submissions for Week CCLXXXI: We Wish You a Merman Christmas! are now CLOSED!

Eleven souls piled presents under the judges' tree. We'll shake them, swap them, and speculate on the contents soon, praying for a dearth of ugly sweaters. Siddhartha Glutamate and QuoProQuid are due to receive coal, but they could still find crits in their stockings if they submit within the next twenty-four hours or so.

Merry Christmas season to all!

Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy


Dec 5, 2013
Next verse same as the first.

Happy Christmas and fast judging!

Sep 14, 2010

swiftful judging giftful judging

Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!

Fun Shoe

Thank you to Nethilia for my lovely presents! Here's Emperor Tang posing with his new brother(?) and the awesome socks!

Don't worry, he knocked everything over shortly afterwards.

Also, sorry I asked for the most complicated possible type of story. Take your time, and I'm excited to read it!

See you soon for TD meets, maybe?


Feb 25, 2014

thank you trex you wonderful dinosaur for the cool rear end pen

and also for the wonderful story. i wont post the whole thing but here's an excerpt

needless to say, i love it

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Results for Week CCLXXXI: We Wish You a Merman Christmas!

Could it be? Did Thunderdome give us entries that didn't make us want to jump into a seaweed chipper? That's the best present a judge team could receive! Thanks, guys; it's such a thoughtful gift, and we'll treasure it always. Not all of your offerings were flawless by any means, but the writing was consistently strong even when the storytelling left something to be desired.

THE WINNER: Antivehicular, it will be your task to lead us into the new year. The conclusion of your tale is weaker than the rest and gave each judge some degree of pause, but I found a lot to like in Paul's reunion with Miguel and his turn away from death. The unusual format served the story well. Congratulations!

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Thranguy brought fantastic concepts to the Christmas feast table; Morning Bell took us into a grim future and showed us some of the horrors there. These pieces stood out in a well-muscled crowd and deserve an appreciative nod.

THE LOSER: None. We invoke the option of Christmas mercy. No entry stirred up enough displeasure to break through our glow of goodwill toward mermen, so you earned this seasonal reprieve. Ho, ho, ho! However, a DISHONORABLE MENTION does go to GenJoe for a story of which two of us could make neither heads nor tails.

Thank you for such a strong showing in the busy holiday season. May everyone continue to impress in the year to come! (I know, I know, but when better to wish for the impossible than in this time of miracles?)

Nov 13, 2012

Ask me about being the most Magnificent Bastard in EU4 Multiplayer.


Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome

Thunderdome Week CCLXXXII: A Lyttony of Sorrows

As we all wake up from our sparkly holiday hangovers, it's time to start thinking about the new year and new beginnings. Many of us have all agonized over the perfect first sentence to our next works of staggering genius, so as a New Year's gift, I'm going to be giving you the first sentences of your story! But, y'know, we live in the darkest timeline, and that means you don't get good first sentences. Your task will be to create good prose from sublimely bad starts.

When you sign up for this week, pick a basic fiction genre (SF, Fantasy, Mystery/Crime, etc.), or "non-genre" if you're feeling indecisive and want something with no implied genre. I'll assign you a sentence or short passage from the Lyttle Lytton contest, a contest that collects attempts to write the worst possible opening to an imaginary novel. You must begin your story with the Lyttle Lytton entry I assign, and you must somehow go on to make a non-lovely story out of it. You're not required to completely copy the writing style of your start (because that would lead to be a pretty crap story), or write exactly the story your start implies, but it needs to be a real part of your narrative -- no cutesy "meta" copouts like having the line be from a bad novel your main character is reading, for example. Embrace the garbage and make something brilliant, or at least less garbage.

If you , I'll give you two Lyttle Lytton entries to choose from to start your story. The one you don't choose will apply as a flash rule that should factor into your story in some way, but doesn't need to be literally quoted.

Also, in the spirit of the holidays, I will extend Kaishai's word count bounty for crits for this week. Write a crit for a 2017 story you haven't critted before, get +200 bonus words to deal with your godless hell-prompt!

Standard TDome rules apply: no fanfic, erotica, political screeds, nonfiction, quote tags, Google Docs, or hand-written entries about masturbation. Have fun!

Sign-up deadline: Friday, December 29, 11:59 PM Pacific time
Submission deadline: Monday, January 1, 11:59 PM Pacific time
Maximum word count: 1300 words (1500 with crit bounty)


Dark and Stormy Domers:
1. ThirdEmperor
2. Thranguy
3. Sham bam bamina!
4. Jay W. Friks
5. Freakie
6. The Saddest Rhino
7. Bad Seafood
8. Exmond
9. Yoruichi
10. Tyrannosaurus
11. sebmojo
12. Entenzahn
13. flerp
14. SurreptitiousMuffin
15. apophenium
16. Benny Profane
17. Aesclepia

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at Dec 29, 2017 around 12:27

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

at this point I'll turn off the tattered remnants of kayfabe and open the floor to careposting and real posting and saying what you like and hate about the dome, what you want more or less of.

also candidates for the 2018 title: I like 2018: writing our wrongs but maybe we'll go with something in Sanskrit next year who knows

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

oh yeah, and pull any of your stories you want to publish, thread gets locked when it's archived which will happen in a couple of weeks

Aug 7, 2013


Pfft. In. As if it could be worse than my own bad words.

Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome

ThirdEmperor posted:

Pfft. In. As if it could be worse than my own bad words.

"Because they had not repented, the angel stabbed the unrepentant couple thirteen times, with its sword."

Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' -Samuel Johnson

in, science fiction.

Nov 13, 2012

Ask me about being the most Magnificent Bastard in EU4 Multiplayer.

Things I like about Thunderdome
- Words are sometimes okay
- I don't have to pretend I like your bad stories and can, instead, give you useful critique
- I no longer fear editors

Things I dislike about Thunderdome
- Sebmojo

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Obliterati posted:

Things I like about Thunderdome
- Words are sometimes okay
- I don't have to pretend I like your bad stories and can, instead, give you useful critique
- I no longer fear editors

Things I dislike about Thunderdome
- Sebmojo

why, you little!

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat

Gravy Boat 2k

In in in in in in in in IN

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

In with Horror

Oct 30, 2013

In, give me a genre.

Also, things I like here:
- Crits are a blessing.
- I get to pretend good writers are my equals(?)

- As a European, CST deadlines make me sad.

Freakie fucked around with this message at Dec 27, 2017 around 13:36

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning

In with crime

Dec 5, 2013
Next verse same as the first.

2018teen: something maybe in Sanskrit

2018teen: making the better argument seem worse

2018teen: bad words good words ogg ock ook

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

2018teen: Arguments Against Literacy.

2018teen: Reading Rambo.

2018teen: Book Retorts.

2018teen: The Hero With a Thousand Facebook Accounts.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Also, in.

May 31, 2007

im doin it ma im writing


In with urban fantasy!

May 31, 2007

im doin it ma im writing


Things I like about Thunderdome
- The stories! ("Y'all ready for a bunch of dicks. Best line)
- The community!
- The crits!
- the podcast!

Things I dislike about Thunderdome
- Contacting the commmunity. It's split between irc and the thread.
- The kayfabe, or negativity, can get a bit tiresome and is not my jazz.

Mar 22, 2013

sebmojo posted:

2018teen: writing our wrongs

Feb 25, 2014

i think thunderdome has taken a bit of a different direction this year, mostly in getting nicer. i dont know if i like it as much but people seem to be enjoying it and im still gonna write for td so its w/e

Nov 13, 2012

Ask me about being the most Magnificent Bastard in EU4 Multiplayer.

So long as it doesn't end up like my other writing groups where nobody dares say a bad thing and everyone claps at the end of a reading I'll be fine

I'm still kayfabe as gently caress tho fite me irl

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

I don't want it any nicer than this, being able to call someone a fuckhead and word fight them is baked into the DNA. we wouldn't have lasted this long without it (and a bunch of other things, like kaishai and crabrocks backstage efforts).

Mar 22, 2013

things i like about thunderdome
when the judges suck my dick

things i dislike about thunderdome
when the judges say my dick sucks


Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Things I like about Thunderdome:
- No feedback sandwiches! The worst possible thing that can happen is that everyone hates your story and tells you that you suck and this happens every week and actually isn’t that bad and I find this to be very refreshing.
- How despite this we all keep coming back week after week to dash ourselves against the rocky shores of the Thunderdome. We are all great and weirdly persistent.
- Brawling is a perfect dispute resolution mechanism.

Things I dislike about Thunderdome:
- How obsessed I’ve become with trying to win Thunderdome.

So, in, again, I guess. Sigh.

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