Thranguy fucked around with this message at 22:13 on Dec 28, 2017
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 00:50|
|# ? Jun 24, 2021 13:24|
The Trials of Kevin the Barbarian
Prompt: "I'm really bad at omniscient narration / POVs that aren't stuck in somebody's head."
"Look," says Kevin the Barbarian, "it's nothing personal, okay? College policy. No prop weapons."
His opponent scowls and squares her shoulders, mostly to catch the slipping strap on her fur-lined bikini top. She clutches her plastic labrys in tape-wrapped hands. "It's like the key to my costume, though. Can you go ask Gracie?"
"You really don't want to talk to Gracie right now. Francis bolted and she's in full freak mode. So... trust me, axe or no axe, your costume's fine, okay? Half of these people aren't even dressed up."
"Fine." She drops her labrys outside the ballroom door, then steps inside to get lost in the dance-floor crowd. The room is packed with college kids -- in overachieving sword-and-sorcery costumes, in underachieving ones, and in street clothes and clubwear -- dancing shoulder to shoulder to a fast techno remix of "In the Hall of the Mountain King." Along the walls, little knots of partygoers drink, chat, and seduce. Above it all hangs a brightly-colored butcher-paper banner: ATHERTON QSU SPRING RAINBOW BALL / DUNGEONS AND DRAG QUEENS!
Kevin the Barbarian sulks by the door, casting hopeful glances at the dance floor, until at last Adrian makes his appearance: a long, lean swimmer in a pleather jerkin and silver chainmail-patterned hot pants. He rests a hand on Kevin's glistening mahogany bicep. "Crowd's slowing down. C'mon, dance with me?"
"Sure," says Kevin. He takes his boyfriend's hand and lets him lead him onto the floor, where they join together in a slow-dance pose and sway to a Dragonforce deep cut. Next to them, a teal-haired vaporwave pixie grinds against a bent-over Gryffindor girl, trailing House scarf bouncing to the beat. Kevin leans in close and closes his eyes.
Across the room, Ron Talbot takes a shot from his flask. His friends, all in their matching Physics Department t-shirts (black, "PHYSICISTS DO IT LIKE ISAAC NEWTON" across the front, "(we don't)" small and ashamed on the back), laugh and pass around bottles of spiked juice. Ron has been to 16 QSU meetings and spoken at two of them. He drinks again, steps towards the floor, stops, and slinks back to his cluster.
At the unattended doorway, a slim figure slips inside, clad all in gray: hoodie, weathered jeans, and two duct-tape-wrapped boffer swords on his hip. He is soon lost in the crowd.
"I'm flattered," says Kevin the Barbarian, "but no, you may not pet my codpiece."
Ron nods six times, bracing himself against the wall with both hands. "I figured," he says, "but I had to ask. It looks really soft. And... nice. But, I mean, you probably have a boyfriend. I'm sorry. I should go home."
Kevin the Barbarian, legendary drunk-wrangler, takes a moment to think. "So, Ron. It's Ron, right? Why don't we go to the snack bar? You can have something to eat, and then you can see how you feel. How does that sound?"
"Sure. Okay. Let's do it."
"Great. One sec." Kevin pulls his phone out of his belt pouch and sends a text. A moment later, his boyfriend emerges from the crowd, sweating, jerkin unbuttoned. "Awesome," says Kevin, beaming. "Ron, have you met Adrian?"
"Uh. No. Hi." Ron staggers away from the wall and offers his hand, and Kevin and Adrian catch him in tandem before they start towards the door. In the hallway outside the ballroom, they brush past a heavyset boy in full LARP-wear, his black foam greatsword blending in with his costume. He steps into the ballroom, unseen, as Kevin and Adrian lead their drunken charge away.
"Alexander!" calls the LARPer in the middle of the dance floor, drawing his greatsword. "Draw steel and face me!"
A gap starts to form in the crowd. Alexander emerges on the other side of it, a ghost in his grey hoodie, twin boffers wielded main-gauche. The only sound in the room is the incessant beat of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins ~Hardcore Remix~." The LARPer charges.
Alexander moves to block with both swords, but the momentum is too much for him, and he's slammed back -- through the parting crowd and into a refreshments table. A half-full punch bowl goes flying, depositing its red-flavored payload over Alexander, the floor, the wall, and a few unlucky stragglers. Leonard Nimoy's voice and its backing beat cuts out.
"What. The. gently caress!"
Gracie Harmon vaults off of the DJ station and gallops through the frozen crowd, stripping off her empire-waisted periwinkle sorceress gown before she reaches the cherry catastrophe. She's down to a sports bra and boxers, not significantly underdressed for the room, by the time she finds Alexander climbing to his feet and laughing, coated in his artificially-sweetened "blood."
"Jesus Christ," bellows Gracie, "who let you chucklefucks in? Where the hell is Kevin? gently caress, gently caress, gently caress..."
Never has a party on the Atherton College campus been so definitely over as this party is now. The dancers jostle their way towards the door, and Gracie grabs her phone to start texting as she makes her way to the custodial closet. By the time she returns with mop, bucket, and cleaner, Kevin the Barbarian stands sheepishly in the center of the empty dance floor, Adrian holding his hand. Next to them stands Ron, mostly sober, profoundly ashamed.
"I got your text," says Kevin the Barbarian, still in harness and loincloth but draped in a windbreaker. "I'm sorry. I guess I didn't keep a great watch on the door, and I was out helping with --"
"It's my fault," Ron says. "They were helping me. Let me take care of it."
Gracie looks at Kevin, then at Adrian, and hands Ron the mop. "Fine, whatever. I gotta get started on the women's bathroom. Kevin, Adrian, you do the men's?"
Kevin the Barbarian sighs, and Adrian squeezes his hand. Together, they embark on the final trial of the night. Behind them, Ron begins to mop the punch-stained floor, whistling Dragonforce.
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 01:21|
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 06:10 on Dec 5, 2017
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 01:39|
i am bad at giving physical descriptions of characters and settings, choosing to hide in the ambiguity of the everyman/everyplace.
The man in the room
His hands were dry and wrinkled from age but not labor, his gray hair measured time, but not growth. The ceilings were vaulted by white-marble columns wrapped in shimmering gold filigree, the floors covered with mosaics made from seaglass. The glass was hazy in a way that when the light from the skylights hit it, it seemed to bounce around inside and become trapped, so that the tiles emitted a warm glow in even the gloomiest days.
The room was filled with trophies and monuments, paintings and tapestries. When visitors first entered the room, they would claim that each way they looked held the most awe-inspiring sights they had ever seen, until they’d looked in every direction and circled back to the start, still claiming that each view was more beautiful than the last. The room bustled with people passing through and those who had been there forever. The hum of muffled conversation was ever-present.
In the center of the room was a throne, where the man would spend most of his days in contemplation. The chair was nor ornate, special, or even a family heirloom, but it was his chair. The chair’s arms suffered divots where his elbows rested, his arms bore calluses from their constant contact with the chair. It appeared that there were more threads jutting from the sides of the chair than there were holding the padding into place, and the help would often wager on which would collapse first: the man or the chair.
The chair was, in his words, a reward for the success he had in the saddle. He hated horses, banned them from parades, and proclaimed sitting on a cushioned chair the pinnacle of luxury. The chair smelled of wet bird, for it was stuffed with ostrich feathers. Some complained that it smelt of cheese, though not from spills, as the man was not fond of dairy. People who had to address the man would try to steal breaths out of the side of their mouths when he wasn’t looking, and the closer they got, the more they grimaced.
So the man remained in his chair, and people who wanted to speak to him came in front of him, and when he wanted to see people, they came in front of him. Never did he go to see people, whether they wanted him to or not. Other than to relieve himself or sleep, he sat in the chair. When he arose to do either, his knees creaked and popped and he groaned like he was being pulled from his mother’s womb all over again.
Such great amount of time was spent in the chair that it was often remarked that even when he stood, he still looked like he was sitting in the chair. His back was crooked and bent, his knees buckled under his weight, and he stopped forward like he was carrying something heavy on his back. He would amble slowly where he left, but always hurry back, as if leaving the chair caused pain, and the only relief was returning to it.
Until one morning when the man was not in his chair.
The people checked his bedroom and his lavatory and found nothing. They ran about the room calling out for clues, asking: “Have you seen him?” but the response was never definite. People could not remember what he looked like out of the chair, as he had spent so much time in it. They had begun to consider the chair an integral part of his personhood, and like the ribs of a turtle form its shell, the chair and the man could not be easily separated. The glass still glowed, the columns still sparkled, but without the man in the chair in the room, the room ceased to be the room.
The man’s daughter arrived in the room and stood before the chair for the first time as a woman, as she had often done as a girl seeking her father’s blessings. Her hair was the same color as the chair’s peeling wooden frame, but put together so perfectly that it rivaled the Romantic era paintings of goddesses that adorned the room’s high alcoves. Her lips were redder than he would have approved, and her eyes annoyed but unsurprised. The people in the room stopped what they were doing to take in the incomplete nostalgia with a smile, then rushed away before they could be asked where was the man and why didn’t they know and what was being done.
She had gone away to boarding school after her mother passed, the man not knowing anything about raising a child. There she had married and started her own family, and the man had remained in his chair. As father and daughter, they fought without speaking an ill word, and forgave each other without asking forgiveness. The man had been sitting in his chair when somebody whispered that she was coming to visit, and then he had disappeared.
The chair stood audience to the woman for only a few minutes—though in later retellings the people swore it was hours—before the giant oak door to the room opened exactly wide enough for one man to walk through, and not an inch more.
The man was back in the room, and his daughter turned to smile at him. He stopped walking toward his chair and wiped at his eyes. He offered her a bouquet of flowers he’d picked up from the crass lady who didn’t know he was the man from the room, but had a fantastic eye for color.
The man and the woman in the room found each other and embraced such that it was difficult to demarcate his tattered, dusty robes and her pristine magenta dress. The colors seemed to swirl together until they separated once again.
She helped the man back to his chair, and the room felt like the room once again.
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 02:22|
Prompt: Bad at being light without being silly
Danny can only be a human for five years, then he has to go back to being an eel, and that sucks. His time runs out at midnight, so all week we’ve been doing fun human things, like playing catch in the park, eating Taco Bell, and talking about girls we like. But now we’re sitting on the bleachers of our high school as the sun sets, looking up at the stars, and I’m feeling sad that I won’t get to hang out with my best friend again.
“You can still visit,” he says. “At least until we move on, which shouldn’t be for a few months. Just come down to the river.”
“It won’t be the same, though.”
He shrugs, and lights a cigarette. If I didn’t know he used to be an eel, I’d have no idea. Danny’s short and pudgy and his dirty-blond hair goes down to his shoulders, and he smokes like he was born with opposable thumbs.
“Do you guys have an exchange program?” I ask him. “Like, can I be an eel for a while?”
“I’d have to ask the Eel King. But I don’t think your chances are good. Sorry. It’s just… eels don’t have a lot of magic, and we’re supposed to use it for practical things, like not getting torn apart by dams.”
“I just want to say one last time that I’m sorry for everything we’ve done to eelkind.”
Danny doesn’t say anything. I know this is a sore spot for him, because even though he’s educated me, I didn’t know a lot about eels before we met. Like one time he tapped me on the shoulder and he zapped me with static electricity, and I thought that must have been some leftover eel thing, but it turned out he was just wearing a sweater on a dry day. And then he told me that electric eels weren’t really eels, and he wouldn’t talk to me for a week.
“What are you gonna miss most?” I ask him, after he’s been quiet for a while.
Danny stubs out his cigarette. “I don’t know. Maybe the other animals. Petting dogs.”
“When you’re an eel, you can’t pet any dogs,” I say, laying on the gravitas. It’s supposed to be funny, but he gets serious.
“It’s true. You can’t.” He spits off the side of the bleachers. “Being an eel kind of sucks.”
“Maybe you can ask the Eel King if you can be a dog for a while. See how that goes. Like if there’s ever any excess magic. I’d take care of you. Give you tasty treats.” I’m trying to make him laugh again, but he looks up at the sky, into the moon, and sighs.
“That’d be nice,” he says.
I don’t know what to say, and I’m afraid to make any more jokes. So I point at a far-off flag pole, and say to Danny: “I’ll race you.”
He starts to say something, but before he does, I yell “Three-two-one go!” and jump off the steps, and a few seconds later I hear his feet behind me, and I hope it’s not the last time.
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 03:15|
The World of the Cat
Rule: Good characters, short
I came home from work to a horrible wailing cry. Somehow, a cat had gotten stuck in my apartment chimney. I tried to free it, of course. I called up maintenance and told them, and they said they’d look into it. I called animal control, but it was all message machines. I didn’t have any tools, but I tried to open it up anyways. I was about as effective scratching at the metal vents and bricks as the cat.
I went to work the next morning, eyes bloodshot. I passed Barry on the way, sitting in his usual alley, mumbling incoherently next to his cart full of bottles, cans, and junk. His tarp and jacket were both damp with rain. I gave him a twenty, and he nodded. I’d see him later with a fifth of vodka, but hell, that was what I used to spend it on. It’s not like he could use it to buy a house or a therapist.
“What’s wrong?” Ruby asked me when I clocked in.
“Oh, just didn’t sleep well.”
“I hear that.” I noticed the rings around her eyes, even though she’d tried to cover it up.
She chewed her jaw. “That boy.” She shook her head. “Suspended again. I told him. I fuckin’ told him, he can’t punch anyone else, doesn’t matter what they say about him or what they say about me, but…” I wanted to ask more, but I knew better. She told me anyways. “He’s home alone. Couldn’t get anyone to watch him.”
“He’ll be okay,” I lied.
She knew he wouldn’t, but she nodded, because it was what she needed to hear right then.
Around noon, I took a break scrubbing char and grime off dishes.
I knocked on the manger’s door. “Mr. Henderson?”
“Yes, son? Come in.”
I was older than his pasty rear end, but I kept my face stoic.
“My rent’s gone up again. You know how you keep telling me, I need anything, you’d get me it? I need a raise, sir.”
He adjusted his collar and looked to the left, then wouldn’t meet my eyes. “Uh, sorry son. I’d—you know I’d do it if I could, but corporate’s put a freeze on wages until… well, see there’s a merger going through, and they need the books to look good until then, right? So they’ve told us, no raises until that’s over.”
“I really need this, sir.”
“I’m sorry, son. I wish I could, but my hands are tied.”
When I left work, I was sore in my bones again. It was dark, and the few street lights that were on were muted by the rain coming down. Barry’s tarp was stretched between a dumpster and his cart, and sure enough there was another empty bottle next to him.
Soon as the cat heard me come in, it started yowling, echoing through the metal pipe and stone. Or maybe it’d been doing it the whole time, just with no one around to hear it. I thought about calling maintenance again, but they still hadn’t done anything about the mold that kept growing under the sink and in patches on the walls, so instead I just sat there and listened to it.
In the end, it meowed and scratched and wailed for three nights and three days, and then its pitiful cries stopped. Maintenance closed the ticket two days after that, with no explanation.
“Listen,” the man said, adjusting his red tie. “I worked hard to get where I am today, and so have millions of Americans. What we need is not more handouts to encourage laziness. The economy is booming right now—just yesterday, the stock market set another record. What we need is to encourage entrepreneurship. That’s how I did it, and that’s how America is going to do it.”
The picture cut to a silver Ferrari coasting down a busy street. Skyscrapers, glinting sunlight. A corporate park, with the Ferrari pulling up. A shot of the inside: rows of computers, and the man walking down an aisle of cubicles, same red tie.
The announcer sounded like he was selling a movie. “This new, controversial entrepreneur is revolutionizing the industry. But is America buying what he’s selling? Tonight…”
On my way past the front, I stopped and watched the TV. It held me there for awhile. Ruby walked in and started squinting at the screen. “What the hell are they talking about?” she asked.
“Damned if I know.” I went in back and clocked in.
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 03:23|
1058 words; Coherent Structure
Robin Whitefeather, a descendant of Métis origin, is fixating on her greasy echo in the mirror, absently buttoning and then unbuttoning the clasps of her starchy Oxford shirt; the thought of the afternoon’s interview slowly filling her with whurling feelings of nauseous levity. She lets her vision lose centre, playing on herself the trick of relative projection: looking in from the mirror rather than the other way around. She sees that she is tall, slender, and handsome, with a short hair-cut. She is white, but not fully. There is a peek-a-boo Indian in her if you choose to see it, in the fold of her eye-lid.
“Before you go!” her mother calls out from the room opposite, amidst a clattering arrangement of game-show bells that grew louder, or more faint, depending on how close Robin chose to get to her own distant body. “Remember to pay respects to your Father! He wouldn’t approve, but you will catch the eyes of Coyote without him!”
Robin shudders to remember the grotesque story her Band Elders had told her, when she was surely too young for such hairy tales, of a bored Coyote so numb and deranged s/he (for Coyote was both, or neither, when s/he felt like it), with a good thump to the back of the head, knocked out his/her own eyes, just for the fun of throwing them around,
Those words. Suddenly more came rushing in:
‘to his ever-widening glee,
only to have them eventually fall victim to a tree
she had no chance of fleeing.’
Robin’s centre floods back into focus. Her mother’s sling had worked, Robin felt the hard pit of something she couldn’t throw weighing her down again. Her shirt felt stiff, and her collar tight; she privately decided that her mother was right (Coyote snickered).
Her father was that Indian in her eye, but his portrait also stood next to one of Louis Riel on a mantle in the living-room. Robin promised herself she would offer a prayer to it, that dusty photo, before leaving for the interview.
Across the threshold of the corporate office lobby of Royal LePage Realtor Services LLC., Malik Cox could be found staring down at his BlackBerry (sometimes he had a pair: personal and business), blindly pushing through the forgiving plexiglass of the revolving-door, returning from his lunch hour. His patent-leather shoes, clicking and gliding across the floor, are just about to pass through the elevator door when he receives a text from Barb, his secretary (his very own!), informing him that a Mr.Whitefeather had just arrived for his 1 o’clock interview. Malik is busily typing out a reply in the affirmative when he strides briskly through; only to have the heavy doors clamp down on the tail of his mischievous coat. He replies to the message, and then tries to stride forward, before realizing he can’t. A mild panic rushes over him as he turns around and notices his coat is stuck in the mechanism. He is bug-eyed and frantically tugging at the snag when a voice calls out from behind him, “Moloch?”
Malik, flustered, jerks his head wildly in order to meet the voice’s gaze. “Excuse me?” he answers—louder, perhaps, than he had wished it.
“Malik? Right? Malik Cox? I’m pretty sure we went to college together.”
The coat-tail gives. Relief. The person addressing him is a woman about his own age, though he doesn’t recognize her.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think…”
“Sure you do! We were both a part of the school’s,” the woman looks around conspiratorially before leaning in and whispering to his ear, in a hot, hushed gust, “…Communist Party”.
Malik backs up. The glint of recognition in his eye shining; money quickly smothering it out.
“I’m sorry miss, you’re mistaken. You won’t ever catch a commie working nearly as hard as I do.”
The elevator stops.
“Now if you’ll excuse me,” he continues, “this is my floor. If you ever find that pinko of yours, be sure to find me so I can have him reported to the police.”
The woman’s face reddens, “I’m sorry I didn’t-”
But Malik, ostensibly unaffected, was already out the door.
Malik steps on to the corporate, machine-woven carpeting and makes his way down it to the glass corridors that bisect the floor, and past the cubicles on the other end, to the front-end of his office where Barb is sat squat in front of a slick computer terminal, her flowing blond hair restrained in a tight bun. She informs him that Mr. Whitefeather is already waiting inside. Malik nods in assent before turning the knob and opening the red-wood door to his office.
Inside is a comely young man: fresh-faced and smiling. Malik reaches out his hand and they shake.
“Mr. Whitefeather I presume. It’s nice to meet you,” Malik is making his way to the other side of his desk and is unbuttoning his suit before continuing, “As you probably know,” he sits down, “I’m Malik Cox, regional director here at Royal LePage.”
“Toronto’s #1 Realtor,” Robin shoehorns in with a high-watt smile.
Malik laughs. “So I take it you’ve seen our ads? That’s good. Flattery will get you everywhere in this business. Now, from what I understand this is your second interview for Assistant Realtor, is that correct?
“So you are aware of the responsibilities therein?”
Malik’s eyes took his figure in. It was ephebic. Masculine, yet dainty. Something vibrating between, but not present. Without his willing, it reminded Malik of a scene out of a Robertson Davies novel. The words corporate homosexuality arising just as fast as they were squashed out.
Malik, blushing slightly, continued, “Well, you’ll be glad to hear that Mr.Lieder, who conducted your first interview, has already decided to take you on. Today you’ll only be filling out the employment agreement.” Reaching down, Malik pulls at one of his desk’s compartments and fishes out a ream of paper, which he lays on the desk in front of Robin.
“All that’s really left to you is to sign above the dotted line.”
And thus he signed his/her name: Robin Riel Whitefeather (and Coyote nearly bust a gut laughing).
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 04:48|
I knocked on the top of the car and looked inside. The instructor was sitting shotgun, inspecting his freckled hand as though it was new to him. He looked up at my knock and a pained expression peered out of his eyes, then went back inside for another three weeks of winter.
“Oh, it's you,” he said, and the door swung open. “Let’s get this over with. Please take us up to that river above us, obeying all codes, laws and precepts.”
I seated myself in the murmuring leather of the driver’s seat, held my hands at five past eight and clenched my toes. The buildings were glistening and bending as the pale green sunlight caught them and I had to swing wide around a lazily billowing apartment block to get to the river of regret that was curling its way through the air. I glanced down at its corkscrewed black water, which was full of dolls heads. I only saw them for an instant, then they were gone and the river flowed on.
I cleared my throat, concentrating on following the curves of the river. “Me and my brother cut up our sister’s doll once. We thought it was creepy. It had sky blue pupils. Creepy.”
“So, you’re a betrayer,” said the instructor, making a note on his pad. “What’s at the top of the river?”
“Betrayer is a very grand word,” I said, downshifting by changing my expression to a puzzled frown. “It’s all laziness surely? And the source of the river is time, linear time.”
Time slowed to a stop. I noticed a fly, suspended in the air just in front of the rear vision mirror. I picked it out of the air. It had a tiny dolls’ face. I stared at it, then wrenched my eyes back to the frozen river below me as I heard the instructor’s disapproving scribble.
“No, time is where it goes back into the ground. I’ll give you half for that. Now, please take me through an unrelated memory, indicating where appropriate and noting all hazards.” She was a woman, now, black hair and sky blue doll’s eyes. Time was happening again, a flurry of corner-of-the-eye flickering where other people were moving
“Grass,” I said, “little blades of grass coming out of a clay bank. I threw my schoolbag up here after I left a banana in it and it got stinky. I climbed up and couldn’t climb down. I cried.” I could see the yellow sunflowers on the vinyl of the bag, and the place on the cliff where I threw it and feel the taunting hot distance between it and me. I held up an index finger and pointed at my cheek, trembling. “Hazard.”
The instructor leant over and picked up the tear with her pencil. “Acceptable. Emotions shallow, but adequate.” Her face was grizzled now, with a vulpine air. Long yellow incisors pricked her bottom lip. “Now we’ll move to the open road, head past the archway and go towards something good, staying within limits."
I leaned forward and the car lurched, tipped onto its nose, and plummeted. The instructor, pushed against the back of his seat, tsked.
“Gravity … is a moral force…” I choked out. “Moral means… good.” The ground slammed into us and cracked, a fissure opening up below us. We settled into it and began sinking. I groaned. The earth around us was moist, and black, and thick with worms.
“You’ll need,” the instructor said, “to do better. The last one did better. Make an effort, indicate, give way as necessary but proceed.” He was an old man now, clipped grey hair and a sparse beard. His pencil was a cigarette. He tapped it on his form, which was covered in chicken scratch writing, and tutted in surprise as some of the words burnt up.
I banged the wheel and howled, and the car jerked into motion. We were in an old train tunnel, bouncing along rickety tracks. “There’s a train station, steam train, cheering crowds. I’ve arrived, but the train never stops. It just keeps rolling along to the next station.” As I spoke the station and its cheering crowds clattered past, were lost behind us.
“There’s a reason behind all of this,” said the instructor. She was a fat woman now, voice creamy and rich. “If you just did what you were told, then you’d be where you were expected to be.” The car sped up, racketing over tracks and taking brief flight on the bumps.
“I can’t only do what I’m told, because then I’ll never know what I really want, just what someone else wants,” I said. “I don’t care if I fail. I can walk everywhere, nowhere’s very far. I don’t need a car. I have changed my mind about this. I don’t want it any more.”
I was groping around on the roof for a hatch when something hit me on the side of the head, a stunning blow. The instructor, dressed in blue with a hat, now, was snarling something, something about failure, and deceit, and laziness, and greed, and selfishness, and how I was bad and would never be good. It was all true and I closed my eyes, nodding. The car stopped dead as I did. Then, it fell, down, down, to the very bottom of it all.
It was silent.
I was alone.
I opened my eyes. The sun was green overhead. I looked at my hand. It was pale, with a constellation of blotchy spots. Age spots. I turned it, trying to remember when the first one had arrived. There was a knock on the roof of the car.
I looked up. There was a woman peering in through the window. She had a complicated expression, like she was trying to remember an old phone number.
“Oh,” I said. “It’s you.”
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 04:55|
Grammarpunk Crits part 3
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 05:34|
If it's not in by now it's too drat late. Submissions are hereby shut.
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 05:35|
NAH gently caress that.
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 06:06|
inter prompt: balls, inspector
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 08:42|
Here's your prompt:
You're a teepee, you're a wigwam. You're too tents.
Or no - wait - are you saying the prompt is Balls, Inspector, and the sky's the limit on words. Am I doing this ri
magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 14:40 on Dec 4, 2017
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 13:52|
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 15:55|
"He's got us by the short hairs," I said to the cook. "We're right hosed if we don't pass inspection again."
"Yeah," the cook said, "but he's gotta have some cojones if he wants to give the boss a bad review to his face."
"Balls," I muttered. This meant I'd have to be the bearer of bad news. Again.
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 17:39|
Unfortunately, Bobby, the dishwash boy, had plans of his own, and as the ancient FDA man rounded the corner, he paused to look in one of the boiling pots.
"What the hell are those?" The old man's voice was a croak of disgust.
The sous chef looked in the pot and without pause replied, "Balls, inspector. Those are balls."
EDIT WHAT THE HELL CantDecideOnAName IT'S LIKE I READ YOUR story and immediately thought I came up with the greatest idea ever. gently caress me.
second edit... it's a bad thing, right?, that nobody's made a tale about footballs, soccer balls, ball bearings, bouncy balls... just all testicles.
magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 18:51 on Dec 4, 2017
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 18:47|
“Bleugh,” thought Mosebjo as he wiped the last disgusting bits of brain off his tongue. There had to be a better way to assert his eternal manly dominance over the souls of his defeated enemies. Plus he was still quite hungry.
“Hmmm,” he thought, inspecting the headless bodies that surrounded his campfire. “Maybe I’ll try the balls.”
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 18:47|
Hi. Titus the 92nd here. I wanted to sign up, didn't, so I thought I'd do some crits instead.
Around these parts, fast crits and still good crits, right?
I’m too lazy to go and check to see what it is you are working on, sorry. I don’t connect with this story, I don’t think it's the content, more the presentation. Lines like “His scream is the loudest noise that anyone has ever made in this open plan hot desk corporate coloured white collar torture box” just run on and don’t evoke any emotions in me, doesn’t make me picture anything, as I don’t know what corporate colored is (a lie, I suppose, as it's grey, it's always grey.)
Maybe it's not the point of the story, but I’d like to know why she lost her marbles.
And you? Well, you never did have children. The place where they buried you becomes a field, and then a forest. Then the ocean rises up and covers it, and nobody could visit if they tried.
Beautiful line. I hate it when somebody says “the ending wasn’t earned” but what I am going to tell you is that the ending wasn’t earned. Maybe I’m a bad reader, but I didn’t get the throughline of the story until the end, and I think that hurts it a little. If more attention could be drawn to the concept you're working with, perhaps by cutting some of the sequences to give yourself some more words to work with, then it’d be pretty great.
This crit was neither fast nor good, but here it is anyway.
One of the things I thought when I first read your story was the line “Now however — especially in these earliest weeks of winter — the pond was black and vacant. Dark clouds blocked any real sunlight. Bare tree limbs extended skyward, their reflection on the water resembling long, emaciated fingers that reached for him” could easily have been moved up, or the intervening stuff be mostly cut. I think getting to this foreboding image quickly would better establish the story.
You’ve got some nice bits that elicit a creepy vibe, such as the line about the exterminator, the cheap steak, ect. But it seems like there were two choices you had when writing this, one was to go full on ambiguous and never give a full reveal, and the other was to be more direct and full on horror. You chose the middle ground.
Well, gently caress, that was depressing.
“The snow is white as fat.” Reminds me of Fitzgerald’s lawns leaping over water fountains. Doesn’t make sense, but it works. Good show, I guess?
But look, if the point is to be meaningful, then what is the meaning to all of this? Dead girl and crows sad, but sort of indifferent? If the point is to merely make me sad, well, congrats.
Jay W. Friks
So there's this entity, a being who has lived many different and varying lives, which is stuck on its karmic journey, ya? It can no longer be an individual, I get that, but what I don’t get is what it needed to ascend. Like, it appears to take over the Probe, but if that is the case what is it about the probe that helps the entity?
The opening reminds me so much of Arthur C. Clarke, not just because of Jupiter, but because of the bit about there being a generation of people who never knew of a sky with Jupiter in it (although Clarke turned it into a mini-sun.) But if you were going for that vibe, well done, and if not, well, well done anyway.
If there is a crit I can provide its that the ending is a bit stuck on. I think, though obviously I could be wrong, but I think you were trying to have the entire story be exposition and as such it's all build up for that last bit, what she tells herself. Neat idea, but I found myself wondering why it ended there until I looked back over the story.
People dance. I am told they are dressed up, but I do not know what a labrys is. The codpiece line is funny. But there is nothing to draw me in, make me interested in the events.
Let's take a quick look at your 9:47 scene and how you use the omniscient narrator, okay? The last time we saw your title character, Kevin, he was dancing with Adrian. Now we have Kevin and Ron interacting with no idea where Adrian is. Clearly you want us to know Adrian is not around, as the tension is partly whether or not Kevin is softening to Ron’s advances, right?
Here’s the thing, you had a chance to switch views - to step over to Adrian - and give the reader a sense of the, I dunno, geography. With an omniscient narrator you are free to do whatever you want - do you want to poetically float up to the clouds above the dancehall? Go for it! Or if you want to make for a more dynamic scene you could give us, the reader, an idea of what's going on around these people. Who is Adrian dancing with, why is his shirt open, would showing us a glimpse of this add to the tension with Kevin and Ron?
I was going to be an rear end and say something about the puked a shrimp line (why isn’t it “puked up”?) But the only thing I want to say is that you don’t need most of your thoughts added in there, such as right after the shrimp like when you wrote:
I’m 100% confident that I threw up, Mom. We were at the Olive Garden. The nice one. By the mall. “You’re just making up memories,” she repeats. She’s gotten a lot of legwork out of that lie.
The bolded part doesn’t really need to exist, so if you want to strip out as much dialog or dialog like content as possible from this story you could still do some cutting.
gently caress, the ending... I guess ignore what I just wrote as it does need to be there.
There isn’t a thing I would change, it strikes the tone beautifully, though I find it odd that it doesn’t follow a lot of the usual advice, ya know? Its carried by its tone and charm.
By the time I got to this story I thought “ugh, I want to stop reading now.” But you kept me interested. Quite depressing, which earns the ending, though at first I thought the man on the TV was the also boss. Maybe that would make the hypocrisy too obvious.
”She lets her vision lose centre, playing on herself the trick of relative projection: looking in from the mirror rather than the other way around.”
What? I’m too stupid for this, quite literally, I do not know what relative projection is and the description does nothing to clarify it for me.
I’m missing something in the story as well. I know it has to do with the Coyote bit, as Robin is a she at first, then Mr. Whitefeather at the end. Why the Coyote laughs, I am not sure.
Seriously though, Crabrock and Sebmojo, I don't know what to say to you guys. For different reasons.
Seb, you tend to write dreamy stuff and this time loop/body switch fits right in, but if I want to make logical sense out of it then I'm at a loss.
Crabby, I am not sure what the point of the story is. Things just kind of happen.
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 18:49|
But it seems like there were two choices you had when writing this, one was to go full on ambiguous and never give a full reveal,
Thanks for the crit!
magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 18:57 on Dec 4, 2017
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 18:53|
Thanks for the crit!
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 22:21|
Because Fast Judging is Good Judging
It's YOUR Results Post for the week where YOU got to break the rules and YOU told us how much YOU sucked and then YOU sucked less
The good news is, you all pretty much did suck less at those chosen weak points. If there was one disappointment it was that a lot of people went for a low key approach that bordered tenuously upon the banks of the river Sopor, where I was personally hoping you'd just randomly nuke more stuff. But overall the quality of writing we got was a step above what we had any right to expect, and so for that reason we are awarding a grand total of NO DMS. Well done, everybody.
Not only that, but we awarded three HMs! Tied in our spreadsheet of victory were the vastly different (Yay!) tales Everything Is Kamikaze and American Eel. A personal shoutout for Everything is Kamikaze By J.W Friks who went for the obscure but clued approach I mentioned in prompt and few took me up on. You made me feel clever for figuring it and doubly so for getting to explain it to someone else. Sparksbloom's American Eel worried us that it might be too fluffy, but when we slept on it, its more poignant qualities remained as delectable as eel pie.
A smidgeon above that was the inimitable God Over Djinn, whose You Never Did Have Children did the business. Have an HM, you writer of freakily happy things about about how dead I am, you.
And now a moment of sadnass for the person who did not quite rise to the occasion. Electric Owl's piece, possibly titled Nester (Interview) but now indelibly known as 1058 Words Coherent Structure, drowned in unfortunate sentence structure and general hard-to-readness. Take heart, Electric Owl, because even though just fourish weeks ago I was right down there with you - the scum also rises!
All that remains then is the Winner: Thranguy's Disillusion was highly regarded by all the judges and came out tops overall. For myself, I liked the way it got me to draw connections between the story elements without explicitly underlining them - the fact that it had few other flaws certainly helped in that contemplation.
Thranguy - the throne is yours. Ignore the mouse droppings, I do.
Fumblemouse fucked around with this message at 22:34 on Dec 4, 2017
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 22:29|
Yoruichi: Going Forward, gently caress This poo poo
writing characters that aren't just outlines of people
OVERALL: Is is magic? Is it a psychotic break from reality? The ambiguousness doesn't hurt it, and it's actually more fun if you imagine it from the mundane point of view of a woman attacking a coworker with a pen, shoving everything off her desk, and jumping out the window to plummet to the earth below.
DID YOU IMPROVE? I dunno. Doesn't feel like it, honestly- we have one character who matters, and that's Ruth, and she's clearly insane. Charles, Jane, Sharon, they're nothing more than names. Charles has kids. Jane likes people to be punctual. Sharon is overprepared. Are these more than outlines? I think not.
God over Djinn: You never did have children,
depicting happiness/safety/comfort/love/anything other than the grimdark miserable slogging present
OVERALL: This is what I imagine when people say that Cloud Atlas is a bunch of interconnected stories. This is a good representation of the ripples a single person can have in their lifetime and beyond, far after they've been forgotten. I think that's a wonderful sentiment.
DID YOU IMPROVE? I think so. There was a lot of death, but the only part that was sad about it was the baby death bit and even that has them finding joy. There was a lot of love, and happiness, and bright spots of sunlight and silver linings. You did what you set out to do.
OVERALL: OBGYN for vampires. Interesting concept. I'm impressed that the visit lasted all night when they tried to keep it brief. Oddly post-apocalyptic in feel, and the ending is out of nowhere. It was pretty solid up until the curveball I mentioned. Let's dissect that last bit. The thought of living like one of them disgusts him. When they first arrived he'd been eager to make that deal- what deal? To become one of them? Assuming yes, he had wanted to become one of them before, but that was 27 years ago, and he doesn't want to anymore. But he still wants eternal life, even if it means becoming one of them?
DID YOU IMPROVE? Hard to say. You show conflicting desires in that ending, but the fact that I had to puzzle it out and it doesn't feel satisfying to do so isn't a point in your favor.
flerp: To be a bird
making setting meaningful and impactful
OVERALL: actually crows do hold funerals for each other Effective use of coldness and snow and death. The obsession with birds was good, and the three aspects of cold/birds/death are woven quite neatly together.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Yes. The setting of a cold, snowy, dead forest always goes well with death, and the obsession with birds ties in well to them poking around her dead body.
Jay W. Friks: Everything is Kamikaze
being clear about the setting
OVERALL: You need to get into the habit of proofreading. I love the internal past lives and seeing them through your skin, it's a very striking image. The sudden switch to third person is unwelcome, and the ending was unclear.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Like others, it's hard to say. I don't know if “drug trip” was a good setting to be clear about, since it's constantly changing. That said, the bits and pieces of setting that you do feed the reader are good. It's a toss-up.
delivering huge chunks of exposition without losing/boring readers
OVERALL: The Jupiter stuff is fascinating. The rest of the story is wrapped around it pretty well. I liked it.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Well, it didn't bore me, so I'd say yes. I might not be the best judge of that, though.
Antivehicular: The Trials of Kevin the Barbarian
omniscient narration / POVs that aren't stuck in somebody's head
OVERALL: I'm surprised the LARPer didn't get in trouble, or Alexander, but I guess it's not their story. Good voice.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Well it was entirely in third person, and you jumped around from person to person decently well, so I'd call this a success.
Tyrannosaurus: Birds and Dinosaurs
nonfiction without much dialogue
OVERALL: I like it. You tie things back to the beginning at the end, so things don't feel like they're coming out of nowhere or going nowhere. I like your voice.
DID YOU IMPROVE? It's impossible to tell without knowing you better if this is nonfiction. And there isn't a lot of dialogue either. Maybe?
crabrock: The man in the room
giving physical descriptions of characters and setting
OVERALL: Interesting. In a good way.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Yes.
sparksbloom: American Eel
light, fun, but grounded
OVERALL: That was fun. Unexpected seriousness, but it wasn't bad. Kinda sad right off the bad. I like the idea of eel magic.
DID YOU IMPROVE? I think so.
Uranium Phoenix: The World of the Cat
keeping stuff short and writing good characters
OVERALL: That poor cat. Well written, kept things short, characters weren't fully rounded but there were decent hints at it. This did a good job of the rich/poor contrast.
DID YOU IMPROVE? I think so.
Electric Owl: Nester (Interview)
OVERALL: Spelling needs work. I felt like there's a cultural gap here I can't bridge and that's dragging the story down. The gender swap kinda helps but there's still something there I can't quite figure out.
DID YOU IMPROVE? That is the question. I hesitate to call this piece coherent. Intriguing, yes, but easily understood? Not really.
sebmojo: Driver's Head
starting before the last minute and having a rushed ending
OVERALL: Weird and fascinating. Nice time loop.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Well when did you start? The ending didn't feel rushed but it's hard to tell.
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 23:00|
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 23:15|
Allright Mr Tricky. Your story starts with "The sun was just below the horizon" and the reader takes that as meaning the night had just started. Then at the end you are like "The sun is coming up now!".
I think what you meant with your starting line is the sun is juuuust coming up from the horizon. Meaning its dawn instead of night. Except the reader doesn't realize this until the next reread. A few of the judges missed it (Myself included) and thought the doctor's visit took all night.
|# ? Dec 4, 2017 23:18|
Thunderdome week 279:How to Write a Story
This week, let's have some fun and write stories inspired by wikiHow pages. Sign up and I'll assign you not one but two pages from that site. And I'll post an image from one of them if I can get that to work. So you've got some built in conflict if you want it. Maybe someone wants to do two things but can only do one. Maybe different people want different things. I want you to use both pages, but how deep you go into each is up to you. Just use the title, take things from the whole page, write about a picture in it, whatever.
Pacific deadlines, 11:59 PM Friday and Sunday.
No fanfic, erotica, poetry, nonfiction, etc
How to Become a Judge: (Ask me.)
Jay W. Fricks
1. Quo Pro Quid (toxxed) (get ready for school, stretch a horse)
2. Antivehicular (protect cattle from rustlers, make kit-kat lasagna)
3. Aesclepia (clean a sponge, make a bicycle lighter)
4. Electric Owl (be an explorer, ignore your enemy)
5. sparksbloom (escape from killer bees, sleep on an airplane)
6. Tyrannosaurus (survive a bank robbery, practice shamanism)
7. Exmond (launch a model rocket, get married in Mexico)
8. Fuscia Tude (buy gold stocks, punch harder and faster)
9. Freakie (get rid of spider webs, master the Japanese art of the sword)
10. Obliterati (toxxed)(surf, use a pay phone)
11. Okua (handle a tire blowout while riding a motorcycle, meet your girlfriend's parents)
12. magnificent7 (Earn the trust of a feral kitten, determine authentic sunglasses)
13. Fleta Mcgurn (toxxed)(pick a good mango, rock and roll)
14. Flerp (Camel-toxxed)(condition your hair with homemade products, regain control of a spooked camel)
15. Siddartha Glutamate (toxxed)(get over a guy who dumped you for a lame reason, make a glitter bomb)
16. Entenzahn (make a garden gnome that looks like your husband, sing high notes)
17. Crabrock (remove old carpeting,avoid talking to people)
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 04:29 on Dec 11, 2017
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 01:42|
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 01:45|
I really shouldn't be in this week, but gently caress it, this prompt is brilliant. In.
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 01:46|
Yeah, let's do this! I'm in.
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 01:49|
Gotta get gud somehow. Count me in.
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 01:51|
hell yeah in
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 02:35|
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 02:59|
I am in!
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 03:04|
I really shouldn't be in this week, but gently caress it, this prompt is brilliant. In.
Yeah, let's do this! I'm in.
Gotta get gud somehow. Count me in.
hell yeah in
I am in!
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 19:57 on Dec 5, 2017
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 05:09|
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 05:12|
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 05:28|
It is I, Exmond, he who brings Crits!
A reminder that you are a better writer than me. Also the prompt kind of got in the way of some of your stories so if I sound critical you can shake your finger at me and point to the prompt! Ill be updating this throughout the night!
Everyone's crits are here. I made fancy graphs that I hope will help you see how I enjoyed your story, I stole them from crabrock (and holy crap are they a bit of work)
Exmond fucked around with this message at 06:55 on Dec 5, 2017
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 05:58|
It is I, Exmond, he who brings Crits!
these are neat
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 07:07|
Thanks for the crit Exmond
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 08:18|
Thanks for the crit! I'm loving these graphs.
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 08:24|
|# ? Jun 24, 2021 13:24|
Gonna pop my babby Thunderdome cherry and say in.
|# ? Dec 5, 2017 09:04|