Keys to the Kingdom
Usually when the kids of the apartment complex climbed the oak on the edge of the playground, Dinah sat on a branch higher than Eddie's, lower than Trevor's, and far enough out from the trunk that Leslie mostly ignored her. Leslie perched on the highest limb any of them had ever reached, and that was what made her the Queen of Brookside Path. But one afternoon Dinah wanted to climb while the others were looking for worms in crabapples, so she did; and she hauled herself up above her usual spot, to the fork Aaron usually occupied and beyond. She kept going until the next branch she grabbed bobbled under her touch. At that point, staying where she was seemed smartest.
How pretty it was! So much green shivering around her, and the ground--she could barely see it with so many leaves in the way. The flash of red down there was no leaf, though. Aaron had on his Chicago Bulls shirt again, and the bull's head danced as he waved his arms. "Dinah's the queen!" he shouted. "Dinah's the queen!"
He and Eddie swarmed up to their usual places, and the rustling almost drowned out Leslie's sharp, "She is not!"
Trevor stayed below and seized a low, thin twig just above his head, bending it down to his mouth. "You're listening to W-OAK FM! An important bulletin! Queen Leslie has been replaced by Queen Dinah, just now, and this is the place to hear about any future royal edicts. Queen Dinah, what can you tell us?" He aimed the twig so it pointed vaguely toward her.
Leslie slapped it out of his hand and lunged for the tree. She made it to her old throne with record speed. But she hesitated there, looking up at Dinah, her freckles awfully dark on her red face.
"Do I get to make edicts?" Dinah asked. She'd moved into the complex just two months before, and she still felt like a foreigner in their country.
"Leslie did," Eddie said. "So now you do."
Leslie said, "We don't have to obey them."
Aaron asked, "Since when?"
Trevor abandoned his radio station to join them in the boughs. "How about if they're dumb, we don't have to obey them," he said. "No more making us pretend to be horses. Horses in a tree is just stupid."
"The whole thing's kind of stupid," Leslie said.
Dinah kicked a foot. Her branch shuddered. "I'd rather be birds," she said, but Aaron's heavy sigh changed her mind. "My first edict is, I name all of you Prime Ministers and advisers to the throne. What do you want to do?"
"Fight aliens!" Eddie said.
"Then we'll save Brookside Path from UFOs!" Dinah declared. She scrambled down with the boys, though she'd always sat out of Space Aliens before. Pretending the trash cans were from Uranus would almost have to be more fun than staying in the tree with a sulking, glaring Leslie. And it was fun, despite Trevor's many butt jokes: Dinah turned her ponytail into a ray gun and saved Eddie's life twice before Aaron's mother, their babysitter of the day, stood up from the picnic table and herded them all home.
The royal court got together again after school on Tuesday. Trevor tapped Dinah's arm as they followed Eddie's big brother to the playground. "Do you still sleep in your mom's bed?" he asked. "Do you pick your nose and eat it?"
"Yuck! No! And no!"
"Leslie wants me to broadcast that on W-OAK," Trevor said. "Maybe the world would rather know she peed herself in gym class once and there was this gross puddle on the floor."
Trevor grinned and drawled out, "Maaaaaybe!"
Dinah shook her head. "That's too mean. I edict you don't do that, if that's okay."
He rolled his eyes so hard she thought he might tell the fake stories about her after all, but he didn't; he didn't have a chance, with Leslie badgering them all into Tag, Hide and Seek, and other games that kept them away from the tree. Whenever Leslie was It, she'd chase Dinah only. At first it made the boys laugh, but after a few rounds they stopped tagging Leslie ever.
The next time they met up, Leslie pulled out her dad's phone and talked Eddie into taking pictures of her and Aaron and Trevor in silly poses. He snapped one of Dinah, but Leslie took the phone back and deleted it.
The time after that, Aaron wanted to climb the tree again.
"Well, I want to play Tag!" Leslie said.
"I don't," Dinah said, "so I'll climb with Aaron." She started for the oak.
But Leslie ran and got to it first, moving like a squirrel to her former throne and then whistling for attention. "You watch," she yelled down, and she jumped for the next branch up and swung herself onto it. It bowed, but it didn't break.
"Dinah made it higher!" Trevor yelled.
"Screw Dinah!" Leslie shouted loudly enough for people in their homes to hear, and she tried for a higher limb.
Her feet slid. She slid, straight down, landing on her butt in front of the trunk with the most astonished face Dinah had ever seen. Her yelp brought her mother running from the table, and Dinah and the others scattered out of the way so Leslie's mom could kneel and ask, "Baby, baby, are you hurt? Honey?" She turned Leslie around and pulled the back of her shirt up. The welt across Leslie's spine was already turning black. "What were you doing up there!"
"I had to be queen again." Leslie looked up at Dinah. "I am now, right? That branch was higher than yours, right?"
It meant so much to her--but Leslie's expression was wrong. She was smiling, just a little, and it wasn't pain that made her eyes so narrow. Dinah stuffed her hands in her pockets and stayed silent, even when Leslie's mom glared at her so hard that her face turned hot.
"Brats, all of you," Leslie's mom said, and she guided Leslie away from the playground without looking back.
"No way was it higher," Eddie said.
Trevor said, "As if it matters. Nobody's going to let us climb the tree anymore when Leslie's mom gets done."
Dinah turned to the oak. Leslie's fall had snapped a few twigs, but the branches were intact. She climbed easily to her old seat, more carefully to the new, hugging the trunk when the breeze rose. The branch Leslie had grabbed for and missed was maybe a foot below her. She looked down at the boys, still on the ground, watching.
Dinah called, "We don't have to tell her."
Aaron snorted with laughter. Trevor flashed a thumbs-up. The three of them joined her in the tree to joke and whistle and pretend things for the little while that it was still theirs--theirs, all citizens as they were of the land of Brookside Path.
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 04:01|
|# ? Jul 7, 2022 13:20|
One hour remains.
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 04:01|
It’s Not Much to Listen
flerp fucked around with this message at 05:26 on Mar 14, 2017
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 04:14|
Without a Clue
Through the courtyard, Himari’s steps made fossilized imprints in the snow. To death she walked, to life she trod. She was barefoot. She wanted her last moments to be memories of a coldness she had only enjoyed as a child.
Behind her, Aoi, her childhood friend and second, stepped in each footprint she made. Finally, they came to the roofed terrace of the shrine to Amaterasu. The massive eastward gate gaped wide, fastened from chains centuries old, and the roof supported the bell that rang signifying morning. In this pre-dawn hour, the barukumin would soon be able to perform their duties waking the dead, and cleaning the remains.
Himari knelt in front of the gate. Clenched in her hand was the wakizashi of her family’s lineage. No more fitting blade could seal her fate.
“Thus truly, I am sure, I wish to perish,” Himari announced, drawing the blade from its scabbard.
“Tell me your sins,” Aoi pleaded.
“Thus it began as it always begins, in geometry with sensei Jensen.”
Aoi scowled and though Himari could neither see nor hear the expression she felt it deeply.
“We were to perform in groups, and I had originally thought luck to be on my side. I was fortuitously paired with Sasuke.”
“Comparatively, I beseech my god,” Aoi said.
“I am aware, am I not correct?”
The class was about to be called to order, and Himari lingered hoping to catch the eye of Sasuke as he sullenly would approach the room. Instead Kaori Kunagari fell upon Himari outside of the classroom with scant seconds to spare before the tardy bell.
“Please Himari, I have utterly forgotten about the expectations of learning to be performed at home, may I please look upon your work for guidance?”
Himari was hesitant, she did not trust Kaori, as they had been rivals in the past for the affections of similar men.
“Please Himari, I will trade you the bakings of my mother.”
Truly Kaori’s mother was a master of red bean paste and cinnamon from the west, Himari could hardly pass the opportunity up. She traded her homework for two short bread cookies, immediately eating one with the intention of saving another to ply for Sasuke’s favor. As soon as she was done eating the first cookie, her stomach turned. In hindsight she should have never trusted Kaori.
The bell rang before Himari would completely assess the situation. Sensei Jensen, in her toad-like appearance, ushered them all in. When she called order to the first agenda on the children’s lesson, she announced they would be working in pairs. To Himari’s favor, she was paired with the quiet, handsome seriousness of Sasuke.
As the children paired into their teams, from the back of the class, a villain, an outcast, a foul swamp imp, Kaori Kunagari leveled her gaze to the back of Himari’s head.
She sidled up to Himari and Sasuke.
“As you must be aware, I received perfect marks on our last examination,” Kaori declared.
“Choke me on the ladle of life,” Himari said.
Kaori ignored her. “Perhaps you would prefer to look over my expertise on the subject beforehand.”
Kaori placed in front of Sasuke Himari’s homework, except with Himari’s name erased and replaced with Kaori’s herself. Himari’s nose flared in indignation, as she was to about to challenge Kaori, her stomach rumbled again. She immediately recognized the devious and knowing look upon Kaori’s face, she had fallen for a trap that she could not bare to allow Sasuke to know. Himari excused herself from the classroom before her stomach could audibly alert the class to her predicament.
After many long minutes she returned, and Kaori had taken it upon herself to insert herself into the tandem’s efforts, and was presenting Himari’s work to the class at large.
The final straw had broken, Himari snatched Kaori’s own blank homework from the desk and stood on top of a desk. In one hand she gripped the paper, crumpling it to be completely illegible but she pointed nonetheless.
As she stood tall on the chair, a bouncing beam of sunlight sparkled in Himari’s eye. Before she could announce the gross violation of the school’s moral code, a sneeze crept up. In a powerful blast, a strand of mucus freed itself from Himari’s nostril, but its grip on life still secure. The glob hung from the middle of her nose like a stillborn butterfly. And then, from the suddenness of the event, her stomach regained control. She farted.
Aoi was silent.
“All of this regardless,” Himari said.
The sun peaked through the scars in the landscape made by the mountains of the sun, and she wrinkled her nose. A minor sneeze escaped through her nose, she would no longer allow her body to rule her decorum, and she stifled any further noise.
“As it is, it will be,” Aoi finally choked out.
Himari filled deep her lungs of cold fire, they burned with the confined aggression of a life falsely imprisoned. She had chosen the path through the mire of uncertainty and regret and on the other side was her second. Her hands were poised at maximum apex from her abdomen before she even realized what was happening. She sucked in a great gasp as the steel plunged deep into her.
The tears escaped her immediately despite her grim determination. Her breath caught itself in the pitter patter of regret. She tried to protest to her second but her voice maintained her honor. With the last of her freedom she wrenched sideways, revealing herself in a cloud of breath as her stomach exhaled its shame. In the next moment her muscles relaxed and she slumped headless into the snow.
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 04:22|
The Lost Gold of Old Man Finkelstein
Jacob reached out for the doorknob then pulled his hand back as if scalded. “It’s hot!” he said.
Meredith squeaked and jumped back out of the dusty porch in a flail of pigtails.
Sophia, standing on the other side behind Jacob, was unimpressed. “It’s been in the sun all day, stupid-bum,” she said. “Let me in there.”
“No,” said Jacob, and glanced behind him at the deserted street. “I’ll go first because I’m the oldest otherwise it’s not fair.”
“I think we should go home,” said Meredith.
Jacob turned the knob and pushed. The door opened a few inches and stuck. Jacob pushed it but it didn’t budge.
“Guess that’s it,” said Meredith cheerily. “Home for tea.”
Sophia made a raspberry noise, put both hands on the door, and pushed hard. The door creaked open. Inside was a hollow echoing hall, darkness shot through with dusty beams of light.
The children were silent. Jacob’s eyes flicked left, to meet Sophia’s, then away again. “It’s probably in the attic,” he said in a croaky voice. He swallowed and took a step inside.
The walls of the hall were stacked with mound after mound of yellowed newspapers, stacked nearly up to the roof. They gave off a musty scent like a closet that hadn’t been opened for a long time.
“Maybe it’s under the newspapers?” said Meredith.
Sophia was gripping her hand with the air of a put-upon big sister. She snorted. “Who keeps their gold in the newspaper? Newspapers are for reading and fires, and crossword puzzles.”
“My mum cleans the windows with them,” said Jacob. He didn’t seem to want to go any further into the house.
Sophia pushed past Jacob, dragging Meredith behind her in a slipstream. “Follow me it’s totally down in the cellar, probably in a chest.” She paced down the corridor then shrieked and started clawing at her face. Meredith shrieked too and pulled Sophia towards her. Then she stepped on a slippery pile of magazines, fell backwards, and Sophia came crashing down on top of her.
Jacob reached down to help them up and bumped a pile of newspapers with his shoulder. The pile swayed, then toppled over on top of all three of them sending a great cloud of choking dust billowing into the corridor.
“Blurragffff!” said Sophia. “Gefforifpidereb!” she added. Hurling piles of crumbling newsprint aside she sat up and yelled “IT WAS A SPIDER WEB”.
The words echoed around the deserted house. There was the noise of a car driving down the road and the children all looked at the open doorway but it kept going.
“Hey,” said Meredith. “Was that there before?”
She was pointing at the top of a doorframe that had been hidden behind the newspapers.
Jacob pulled aside the pile. There was a doorknob there and he turned it. "Clear out the papers," he said, gulping. "I'll close the front door".
Sophia was already stacking the newspapers in neat piles on the floor.
Meredith watched, biting her lip. “Maybe we should, um, it’s getting late.”
Sophia shook her head, carefully placing the piles so they didn’t fall. “Nup I reckon we’ve found the secret because he hid it behind the newspapers because he thought no one would ever find it. I’m gonna buy a bicycle with my bit of the gold”. She stood up and grabbed the handle, a light in her eyes. She pushed it and the door creaked open, revealing stairs going down.
It was dim inside the house with the front door closed, and the steps down to the cellar descended into pitch blackness. Jacob pulled out a torch and flicked it on. “I guess I should… I should go first? Because of the torch?” he asked. The girls nodded.
He pointed the torch down. There was a big footprint on the first stair, like someone had stepped in yellowish mud and then stepped on the stair. “That must be Old Man Finkelstein!” hissed Sophia. “He went down there to bury his gooold!”
Jacob gulped and climbed over the remaining papers. "What's that smell?" he said. It was a sweet reek, billowing up from the black depths of the cellar. Like someone had eaten an entire sack of Halloween candy and then done a big fart. Jacob went down one step, then another. The smell was getting worse. "What does gold smell like?" he called back over his shoulder.
The girls were still in the corridor, looking down at Jacob’s torchlight. Sophia looked at Meredith, who shrugged. “Money, I guess?” Her face was like a ghost in the dim light. Then there was a thump from below, followed by a wet splurtching noise and the light winked out.
Sophia and Meredith screamed. Then they screamed louder moments later as a humanoid figure covered in glistening slime came running up the stairs towards them, propelling a gust of nauseating sweet gas. Bracing herself on the doorframe Sophia kicked it in what looked like the stomach, making it crumple up and tumble back down the stairs, then Meredith picked up a pile of rotten newspapers and hurled them into the blackness. There was a satisfying ''whomp' sound as it hit something, followed by a yell. It was Jacob.
Sophia took a few tentative steps down the stairs. "Jacob?"
The torch flicked back on. Jacob was standing at the bottom of the stairs next to a giant overturned vat, which had been full of some kind of yellow gelatinous goo. The goo was spread all over the floor of the cellar. Jacob shone his torch around at a dozen other cauldrons, all filled to the brim with the same substance.
“I guess Old Man Finkelstein really liked his butterscotch pudding,” said Jacob.
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 04:40|
Matthew was sinking into his sandbox, wondering if this was what his mother meant when she had said, “If you spend too much time in the sandbox, you’ll turn into sand.” His thought was secondary to his terror as his head sunk fully below.
Having safely acquired food that day, Simon spent his free time digging through the sandy ruins, looking for something he could trade back at the village. When his curved stone hit something, he didn’t expect a loud “Ow!”
Simon backed up quickly, prepared to toss the rock and escape. A dusty form rose from the earth, short like Simon. It coughed and sputtered, and begged, “Water.”
It took only sixty-seven questions for Simon to trust the so-called ‘Matthew’ enough to offer his water skin.
As the sixty-eighth, Simon asked, “Why do you have hair, aren’t you afraid of skeletons grabbing it?”
Matthew coughed again, this time on water. “There are skeletons here?”
“You don’t have skeletons where you’re from?”
Both children stared at one another in equal amazement. Matthew then asked, “Is it safe here?”
Simon puffed out his chest and shouted, “Of course! I could handle any stupid skeleton!”
“No, look, two skeletons!”
Simon turned around. Two skeletons clicked and clacked towards him, reaching out with their large bony hands.
“Climb!” Simon ordered. He made his way to the nearest pillar and scrambled up it to the second floor.
Matthew tried to join him, but fell a short way up the pillar. “I can’t!”
Simon’s response was to throw his rock at one of the skeletons, missing. The ruins were littered with stones, so Simon continued throwing any light enough to lift.
From the attacks, one skeleton crumbled into a pile of bones, but the other managed to reach Matthew. It grasped him by the hair and easily lifted him up.
“Help! Throw a bigger rock!” Matthew pleaded.
Simon froze. He remembered needing to leave his mother behind a year ago, her shouting at him to run. He had run, all the way to the village for help, but the adults refused. They said there was no helping her, if the skeletons already got her.
He had hated that answer.
With a running start, Simon threw himself off the second floor, onto the skeleton. The impact knocked wind out of him. It also knocked the head off the skeleton. Matthew was dropped.
With both skeletons defeated, Matthew stood up and said, “You saved me. Thank you!”
However, Simon was on the ground, clutching his stomach, gasping for air, and crying. Matthew tried to help, but nothing he did could get Simon to stop. It was only after many minutes that he calmed down.
The first thing Simon said afterwards was, “You’re dumb if you can’t climb pillars.”
“I’m not dumb,” Matthew retorted.
They argued for a while, until Simon said, “We need to go back to the village. Two skeletons mean more.”
Six more, precisely, from three different directions. The children would have been cornered if Matthew hadn’t read words carved on a wall. “Here!”
“Where are you going?” Simon asked.
“The wall said there’s a safe spot this way!”
“You can read?”
Matthew quipped, “You’re dumb if you can’t read.”
Simon didn’t argue, but followed Matthew down.
Below, the only light was a soft blue glow coming from more writing. Matthew pointed at some and explained, “It says no skeletons.”
“Are you a priest?” Simon asked as the pair wandered through the ruin’s hall.
“My dad is a priest.”
“I knew it,” Simon said proudly, “only priests can read. My village had one visit for my mom’s funeral.”
Matthew frowned. “Your mom is dead?”
The two walked in silence for a bit.
Simon tried to smile. “What about your mom?”
Matthew thought for a little, then said, “I think she’ll be mad. One time, I went to a friend’s house and didn’t tell her. I was grounded for a week. When I get back, she might ground me for two weeks!” He looked frightened.
“Your mom puts you in the ground?” Simon matched Matthew’s fear.
“No, grounded means I can’t go outside.”
“Then why are you so scared?”
“It’s really boring.”
Simon shook his head, unable to understand. It was then the two reached a dead end, stopped by a door with writing that glowed red, not blue.
“It says behind the door is danger, but also treasure,” Matthew explained.
Simon’s smile was tinted red from the glow of the words. “We can’t go back, so let’s get treasure.”
“Why do you want treasure?” Matthew asked.
“If I had enough, then I could stay safe and pay other people to feed me.”
“Why should I go, though? I’d just get caught.”
“What if there’s a way back?”
Matthew clapped and jumped. “Okay, let’s get that treasure,” he said, and opened the door.
Past the door was a large pit. On the other side of the pit was another door and, inside the pit, was a mob of skeletons. Matthew closed the door.
“What, you’re going to let some skeletons scare you?” Simon asked, yet conspicuously backed away from the door.
“What are we going to do now? Are we trapped?” Matthew pondered.
“Well, maybe there was a clue on all the walls we walked by?” Simon shrugged.
“I was reading as we walked, but it was just about Key-Hay-Do?”
“Key-Hay-Do?” Simon was puzzled. Then he exclaimed, “Oh, you mean Kih’ado! Tell me what it said!”
“It said Kih’ado owned this place, but magic made him leave. Even so, he still dances. Who is Kih’ado?”
“Kih’ado is the god of the priests. I think it means we need to dance to beat the skeletons,” Simon reasoned.
“What if it doesn’t work?” Matthew tried to swallow, but his dry throat protested.
“I’ll do it, then. I want that treasure.” Simon went back to the door, threw it open, and began an awkward jig.
The skeletons chittered, but didn’t approach.
“Is it working?” Simon asked.
“You didn’t go in, yet,” Matthew said.
Simon laughed nervously, and approached slowly. As soon as he danced through the doorway, the skeletons surged towards him. They pulled him under before he had time to scream.
“Simon!” Matthew abandoned his safety and ran towards the skeletons, choosing to dance. Unlike with Simon, the skeletons didn’t grab him. Instead, they also began to dance. The rattle of bones deafened all other sounds.
Matthew spotted Simon, oddly squeezed between two skeletons. Matthew met up with Simon, and the two jointly danced to the other side of the pit, where the second door was.
“You open it,” Matthew said, continuing his dance.
Simon did, and sand poured out. They were both trapped within it.
Simon was the first to dig his way out. What greeted him was an unfamiliar patch of sand, surrounded by green. A house sat nearby.
Matthew dug out shortly after, and laughed joyously. “We’re back at my house!”
“Matthew, sweetie, dinner! Come in and wash up!” Matthew’s mom called from the house.
Simon frowned and asked, “Where’s the treasure?”
Matthew hugged Simon. “My mom makes really good Mac n’ Cheese.”
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 04:48|
Dumb Baby Stuff
There’s a big backyard that’s really two back yards with no fence to divide them. All that demarcates the Mcpherson property from the Nowak property is an invisible line and a really tall, sturdy tree.
There’s a wooden castle in the tree. In the summer, when the foliage is thick, you can hardly see it from the ground. This is where Sarah Mcpherson and Brian Nowak have spent every day of every summer vacation since the 3rd grade, when the two families came together to build the treehouse.
It’s the last weeks of summer before they both go into sixth grade and things are pretty complicated. They’re sitting criss-cross on the floor, facing each other. Sarah picks at a splinter in the wooden floorboards. She almost, kind of, maybe thought she was like sorta crushing on Brian. But that was before. Now, she can barely look at him.
“D’you wanna play the king?” Brian offers. King-and-Warrior is a game they’ve played since before the construction of the tree-castle. Brian is usually the king because he does the best fancy voice. Sarah is better at swinging a stick around in a convincingly sword-like manner, so she play’s the king’s valiant and occasionally magical defender. Together, they’ve fended off giant wolves and blood-hungry crows and evil wizards.
Several weeks earlier, Sarah had stopped in the middle of play and said, “there’s such thing as queens too, you know.”
And Brian had said, not quite in his normal voice and not quite in his fancy voice, “Yeah, but in our world it’s a king. Plus, you’re the warrior. You get to do all the cool magic rescue stuff.”
“Maybe I want to be the one getting rescued sometimes,” Sarah had said.
But that’s not why Sarah and Brian are sitting awkwardly on the floor, not looking at each other.
“I don’t care about being the king,” Sarah says gloomily. “It doesn’t matter. It’s all made up, anyway.”
Both kids had recently received a refined dose of reality when, in an expedition outside of the castle to recover a mythical treasure, they discovered Brian’s mom bouncing on the lap of Sarah’s dad, both of them naked from the waist down, inside of the little RV camper the Mcphersons kept in their side yard.
Now, Sarah’s house is a war zone. When she’s not in the treehouse with Brian, she’s holed up in her room, trying not to hear her mom’s anguished bellowing or her dad’s defensive roars. There is little more than sour milk and condiments in the fridge, so Sarah has been living mostly off of dry cereal that she pilfers from the pantry between fights.
The idea of castles and swords and crushes on certain neighbor boys seems like immature baby stuff. There’s real stuff to think about, monsters that two kids can’t keep out of their castle forever.
“This is all your dad’s fault,” Brian blurts out. Sarah raises her head and looks at him sharply.
“No one made your mom sit on him like that,” she says. “My mom says your mom was just jealous.”
“Your dad looks like a fat bear!” Brian says, his voice a little too loud.
“Sarah. It’s time to come inside.” The voice belongs to Sarah’s dad, and is coming from below the treehouse.
Still glaring at Brian, Sarah lifts the trapdoor and clambers down the ladder. She’s mad at him, but still, she hopes her dad didn’t hear anything he’d said, especially the bear thing.
They step into the relative dim of the kitchen and the look on his face tells Sarah he did hear. He sits her down at the kitchen table, tosses some frozen chicken into the sink to defrost.
“I don’t want you playing in the treehouse for a while. Or with Brian.” he tells Sarah.
“Why? Brian didn’t do anything wrong.” It’s one thing to be mad at Brian, but to not be allowed to see him at all…
“No, neither you or Brian did anything wrong. But your own family has got to come first, and I don’t want him spouting off--I mean, his dad has some funny ideas about our family, Sarah, and you don’t need to hear any of that from Brian.”
She doesn’t think. She stands up from the table and bolts for the sliding glass door, out into the back yard. Her dad swears and shouts her name. She hears the sound of his heavy work boots scuffing across the linoleum.
There no sense in going to the treehouse; it’s not really a castle. Her dad can get up the ladder just as well as her. But she scrambles up the rungs anyway, bursts through the trapdoor, expecting Brian to still be there. He’s not. With her dad only yards away, she climbs all the way into the treehouse and sits with her full weight on top on the trapdoor. There’s a push from beneath, almost enough to lift the door up a full inch. But her dad doesn’t have enough leverage.
Her heart is thumping in her chest like she’s just finished running the mile in P.E.. Her dad is swearing some more, detailing all the ways in which she’s going to be grounded for eternity, and then--
“Leave the queen alone!” The voice is Brian’s. Not fancy or kingly but harsh and brave, with a rasping hint of the man he’ll be in a few years.
She hears a grassy thump as her dad hops off the ladder. “Put the stick down, Brian. You’re no longer welcome on our side of the tree. And Sarah is going to in big trouble if she doesn’t come down right now.” He raises his voice for the last part.
Sarah does come down from the castle. She takes up her sword-stick, which is leaning in its customary spot against the trunk of the tree. Brian is standing with his feet spread wide apart, his stick held out in front of him in an imitation of Sarah’s warrior stance. She moves to stand beside him, mirroring the pose.
Her dad is practically frothing at the mouth, eyes bulging, cheeks red with rage. His fists clench and unclench at his sides. He looks like a stranger to Sarah in that moment.
“Come. Inside. Sarah.”
“You did this,” she finds herself yelling. “Me and Brian shouldn’t have to stop hanging out because of your dumb grownup problems.”
For a second, it looks like her dad is going to charge them both down, nevermind their fearsome, trembling swords. He breathes in and out, all but exhaling smoke. Then, with a hitching sigh, he says, “Whatever,” and walks around the side of the house.
Moments later, Sarah hears the sound of a car door and a revving engine. Then he’s gone.
The two kids kind of just stand there, swords still pointed at the spot where Sarah’s dad had been standing.
Then Brian looks at her and says, “To the castle, my queen?”
And Sarah says, “Yes, my king.” And they clamber back up the ladder, maybe for the last time, to hide inside the safe, stupid baby stuff for a little while longer.
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 04:57|
WEEK CCXXXI Submission
Missing a Few Pieces
Granny went crazy and she died. When she told everyone that Corey Feldman kissed her then tried to touch her privates, the super didn’t know he was Mouth from Goonies and called the cops. We had to put her in a home.
We packed up her apartment and all the food in the fridge was moldy. She had hundreds and hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. It was everywhere. Mom explained that she had Old Crone’s disease, and that made her poop all the time. Her entire living room and the guest bedroom was stacked to the ceiling, and Mom laughed a weird laugh when she saw it.
“She grew up in the depression and that generation liked to stock up,” Dad said. But we all knew she went nuts. Mom was probably scared that it would happen to her too, when she was old. Granny was almost eighty.
I didn’t remember Pap too much but everyone said he never wanted to live to be seventy and be an old man we’d have to take care of. He had a heart attack during our family reunion in North Carolina and died when he was sixty-nine. Everyone was there, even Uncle Mook who was stationed in Japan. That always seemed amazing that he had the whole family there and then just decided to die when he was ready.
Granny’s neighbor in the nursing home didn’t have a nose. The other old lady was a skull-face and I had to hold my breath when I went by her room. I don’t think it really smelled any different than the rest of the place but I couldn’t pass her door until I took a deep breath at the corner and ran past. Granny was only there two weeks before she had a stroke and died.
Granny got too freaked out from the nursing home, I guess. It was better sticking with imaginary friends.
We had the funeral and my uncles all told stories about how mean Granny was and we all laughed. She was pretty mean to your face. But she was nice other times. She always got us savings bonds, so at the funeral Dad passed out the birthday cards she forgot to send out the last couple years to me and the NC cousins.
After the funeral, I sat on the bench in the funeral parlor hallway. Granny was cremated, so we didn’t have to go to the graveyard. They were collecting her remains and Uncle Mook was going to take the ashes back to Japan since she liked it there when she visited. He showed us a picture of the cherry trees and it was nice and peaceful. Everyone liked the plan.
But then Eric’s parents and his brother walked in. He was my best friend and we sat beside each other in Mr. Marr’s class. I hated Darren, but he had been crying so I didn’t say anything. They all saw me too but didn’t say anything either.
Later that night, Joel’s Mom called. She talked to my Mom for a long time, then she wanted to talk to me. She was the guidance counselor at school, but I mainly thought of her as Joel’s Mom. She sounded like a teacher when she said “Hello, Greg.”
They were on a Boy Scout trip and his inner tube veered off the ski slope and ran into the trees. He didn’t make it. Eric died instantly and he didn’t feel any pain. I didn’t really cry or anything that night. I was jealous that I wasn’t a Boy Scout and the guys got to see Eric one last time.
He hadn’t been over to my house in a couple weeks. When he slept over, we made Darth Vader from a Lego spaceman and painted his control panel with Wite-Out. His Star Destroyer was rainbow-colored since those were the only bricks I had. We covered all the cracks in clay to make it waterproof and it looked pretty good. Luke actually looked more realistic, even though he was just made from a Lego town guy. But then Mom woke up when we ran the tub and yelled.
We put the little TV under a blanket tent with the sound real low and stayed up the whole way through David Letterman. Eric left after lunch on Saturday, Mom said he wasn’t allowed over for a while. That was it.
Joel was on the Boy Scout trip, too, and didn’t go to school the next day. But Adam said Eric’s ribcage was crushed and his head bled a lot. The EMTs had trouble getting up the hill to help him. Adam helped his Dad skin deer when they went hunting so he had a strong stomach.
Joel’s Mom came in and talked us for a while, but she was Mrs. Grost now, same as when she called the night before. Mostly the whole day was quiet. Mr. Marr didn’t say much and just gave us stuff in the books to read. We didn’t have the social studies test either, and that was a relief. I couldn’t concentrate. I just kept looking at Eric’s desk all day.
That night, I threw the Star Destroyer down the basement steps. The control tower part snapped off and bounced across the concrete. But the clay held the rest together and it just sort of splatted on the fake-grass carpet we used for muddy boots.
It sleeted the day of Eric’s funeral. The whole service was outside and there was the same fake-grass carpet squares covering the piles of dirt around his grave. The ice on the carpets kept reminding me of the Lego clay.
I kept imagining that if they burned his body on a funeral pyre then people wouldn’t be in such a rush to get back to their cars. The priest said his prayers and then they lowered the coffin in and everybody threw a rose on top.
It was my turn to toss a rose in. I had the Lego Luke and Darth Vader in my hand during the funeral, and I tried to decide which one I would leave with Eric. Luke did fly down the Cloud City shaft, but Eric liked Darth Vader more.
I decided to just throw in the rose like everybody else. By then, everyone had gone back to their cars except for Darren and Eric’s parents. I gave Darren the Darth Vader and said Eric made it. Darren thought it was cool. Eric’s Mom gave me a long hug.
I fixed up the Star Destroyer though a couple bricks went down the drain pipe in the basement. Darren brought the Darth Vader and helped build some Tie Fighters and we had enough blue ones to make them pretty good. It was fun, but it was just Darren. The whole time I pretended he was Eric.
When he went home, he forgot to take the Darth Vader with him. I stayed up and pretended Eric was still there. I built a fort with like twenty blankets, put the Luke and Darth Vader on top of the little black-and-white TV and stayed up through Letterman.
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 04:59|
Submissions are now closed.
Kurona, you have until the judgepost for your toxx.
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 05:07|
Two Sides (699 words)
Sarah glared at her little brother. Pat was a little bit ahead, one hand in mouth and the other clutching the oversized coin he’d found, staring wide-eyed at every weird thing around the dim hallway they were in. It was so unfair. Dad was going to yell at Uncle Nero for letting them get lost, and then Uncle Nero would yell at her, when it was all Pat’s fault for running off. And even that would be fine if Pat hadn’t wanted wanted to stay and stare at the school of dolphins passing by, because then Sarah could have asked Uncle Nero to help her stop him. But the tour group was already around the corner when Pat had toddled past the Keep Out sign into the darkness, and Dad would’ve been even madder if Pat got hurt by himself. So Sarah had chased him, and now she had no idea where to go, and her brother was just staring like an idiot at everything like it wasn’t his fault.
She kicked the ground. Stupid brother. Stupid coin. Stupid Dad, for not coming with them to this dumb underwater laboratory after talking about it for months and having Uncle Nero take them instead. Stupid Uncle Nero, for not helping her watch Pat.
Mom would’ve helped, a part of Sarah’s mind whispered. But everything was Mom’s fault, too.
Sarah walked up to Pat and grabbed his arm. He tried to jerk away, but she just tightened her grip.
“Sarah, you’re hurting me,” he whined.
“I don’t care. Let’s go back.” She turned around and started dragging Pat along, ignoring his protests. There had been a viewing window near the last intersection they’d passed. Maybe they could find the tour group there.
Abruptly, her arm was yanked back, causing her to nearly fall over. When she looked back, it was at a stubborn-lipped Pat who’d sat down hard on the floor.
She hissed, “What are you doing?”
“I don’t want to go back.” He stuck his chin out.
“I want to find another coin.”
Sarah resisted the urge to stamp her feet. Dad always scolded her for doing that; Mom — well, she didn’t care about Mom. Sarah hated her. “You already have one. Isn’t that good enough?”
“I want to find another one for Mommy, for when she comes back.” He looked up at Sarah with those dumb eyes on that dumb face, and she couldn’t take it. How could Pat be so stupid, she thought, eyes going watery and prickly.
“She’s not coming back,” Sarah forced out. “Ever.”
“Mommy promised me that she would come back,” Pat insisted. “When she does, I’m going to give her the other coin I find and we’ll have a pair.”
“She lied!” Their mother hadn’t told Sarah anything like that the night she left — just told her to take care of her brother and kissed her goodnight before turning off the lights. When Sarah had gone down for breakfast the next morning, the only one there was Dad, staring at the eggs burning in the frying pan.
“No!” Pat yelled back, face red. “She wouldn’t!”
Sarah could barely see, the lights in the floor blurring into dim circles, but fury drove the next words out of her mouth. “Don’t you get it? Mom left and she’s never coming back! Uncle Nero’s been here since Thanksgiving! How can you be so dumb?”
“I’m not dumb!” Pat squalled.
“You are! You’re dumb and stupid and an idiot and-and—” Sarah did her best to think of something, anything, to let her keep yelling. “That’s the reason she left!”
“You’re lying!” He shrieked, and Sarah listened to both sobs and footsteps echo down the corridor as she crouched down and pressed the heels of her palms to her eyes.
Mom had told her to take care of her brother. Well, she didn’t want to.
Sarah remained there, seeing nothing, thinking nothing, until something touched her shoulder.
She looked up. There was a man in front of her, wearing a white lab coat and glasses. Uncle Nero was behind him, holding Pat’s hand. They looked mad.
Dad wasn’t going to like this at all.
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 10:30|
crits before judgement
Chairchucker - Gonna Catch a Big One
This story is a whole story and it works, which is good. The problem is that the actual story starts maybe three-fifths of the way through the story. Listening to kids doing generically cute kid stuff was fine for about a paragraph, but after that I was waiting for something to either get funny or interesting, and it stayed soft-focus and bland until we got to the bear. The voice got a little tiring after a bit since mostly it’s just simple sentences that run on. I would have appreciated a little more humor, or a little more imagery, or a little more emotion. As is, it’s a bit too dry, like a pack of saltines your mom stuck in your lunchbox that makes you have to go to the water fountain afterward.
Okua - Scales
The plot here is pretty much what I expected given the premise, but it’s a decent read. I was almost thinking that if it worked, this would put this story in the same canon as the one I wrote about a mermaid who tries to use a spell to turn someone into a merman. At any rate, the relationship between the two of them is good and you were able to pause at points to inject some imagery, which helped make the scenes feel a little more real. Oddly enough, I could have used a bit more broad-picture blocking, like just a mention that they had to walk through town because the beach was on the other side, or something. As is, it feels like they zap from gym to beach to home without any space in between.
Jay W. Friks - Agua Mala, Agua Pura
Okay, right off the bat this is confusing to read. I think I know what you’re doing with the shifting verb tenses in the first paragraph but “she acquiesced to his insistence of it since he would grab her containers in the middle of the night for getting nutrients” ??????
At this point, the editing work is really messy and the only interesting thing is the “baby has overly sophisticated voice” thing which I’m starting to get bored of. Yes sugary fragments falling into a bowl mmhmm.
Okay so she actually is an alien, that’s something I guess.
Now that I’m done I see where it was going but the motivations aren’t very clear until the end and the voice is kind of offputting. There’s a lot of time wasted in the beginning and things don’t really pick up until nearly the end. And then the one character who’s kind of sympathetic gets some weird ovum bubble and gets to be a mutant or something? I see where you were going with this but the vagueness, especially in the beginning, means it loses a lot.
Sparksbloom - The Understudy
I’m pretty on board for most of this story, but the ending lost me. Once the gross bottle is in play, why doesn’t she go for truth instead? (I guess the answer is she’s confused.) And then she drinks it I guess to make sure that...Marissa gets in trouble, maybe? But it wasn’t Marissa’s fault in any way so she’s not going to get the blowback from this and now Kat’s going to be too sick even to get a small part. I just don’t get the motivation for drinking it anyway.
Metrofreak - Letters
The story behind this is decent but there’s a couple odd things about the way it’s written. I kept having trouble telling which was which, and I’m not sure if that’s me or the writing. Also, it seemed strangely lonely for a royal family--nothing about servants or maids. And more than that, I couldn’t get a sense of when this was happening. At first it felt like maybe World War I era, but then it was more medieval. I guess I would have gotten the medieval thing if I’d looked closer at the Lego set, but if all the flavor of your setting is in a picture next to your story, maybe try to put some of that into the story.
A new study bible! - Resizer
A kid and someone who’s kind of his friend accidentally Cronenberg a hobo, and then Cronenberg the kid’s friend too, and then they kill both of them and go home. It’s interesting and sticks with me as an unpleasant image but there’s not much else here than something unpleasant happening. It’s interesting, sure, and cool in a speculative fiction sort of way, but it’s mostly two people suffering awful fates and then everyone goes home sad.
ArgumentatumE.C.T. - We’re Not Supposed To
Good job getting under the word count! I’m already seeing redundant stuff in your first line of dialogue. And now that I read the whole thing I’m mostly confused. I can sort of piece together from vague things that this is maybe something post-apocalyptic? And like, Uncle is the one who’s keeping these kids safe. But the story as a whole is kind of a bunch of kids who can’t decide whether they should do first aid, and then they do first aid. The stakes are vague, the setting is vague, and they talk around things without actually saying things that are meaningful to the reader.
Benny Profane - The Treehouse Heist
The fact that the fiction of the fight gets maintained for the entire thing is what makes me go from hating this story to actually liking it. A lot of the times when people try to write something like this, they’ll drop the fiction at some point and then it makes everything that happened seem pointless. But maintaining it (even though we can see that it’s a fiction) means that it never gets undermined, so the whole thing still feels meaningful. I don’t know if this is going to win but it’s the least bad story I’ve read so far.
The Saddest Rhino - The Terrible Truth of (Personal) Space
This is weird and just funny enough to be amusing. I can tell it’s not supposed to be serious so it’s not a huge deal if the characters are kind of flat. I’m not sure I exactly follow the backstory of pocket universes created through stress and destroyed via creation, but whatever. You had fun with this, I had fun with reading it.
Katdicks - Big duck, little duck
On the whole this was pretty good and easy to read, though the creepy backstage guy felt like it was leading up to something that never actually paid off. And the very ending part was a little sappy--not super saccharine, but I might tweak that a little bit so that the story doesn’t end with ‘brave little sister’. Like that’d be a point to stick in ‘even when she started kicking Lilly’s back” or something, just to provide a bit of contrast and make the mood more light-hearted than sentimental. Or maybe that’s just me.
Thranguy - The Percussionists
A story about a friend valiantly pissing his pants to save his buddy from embarrassment. That aside, this was fairly amusing, though it did trip me up in the beginning--where you said that Adam’ didn’t find a word of dissent, it sounded like he was saying that to Mr. Dole, and that the music teacher was therefore in on the plan to sneak in and fire a cannon. The voice is breezy and enjoyable to read, though the plot, such as it is, is pretty light and the one conflict is that his friend pisses himself and it’d be super embarrassing if he was the only one who pissed himself.
Kaishai - Keys to the Kingdom
In the genre of Kids Playing Pretend this is another pretty good one, though it’s a different tack than Benny’s. Here, the fact that it’s pretend isn’t important because it’s about the characters and the way they play against each other. It’s pretty good, and I like that Leslie’s meanness expresses itself in ways that don’t make a lot of sense, because she’s just Kid Angry and that means you do stuff like single someone out in tag.
Flerp - It’s Not Much to Listen
I rate this story Legos out of Legos.
For reals though this is probably the most emotionally strong out of the stories so far and I like the dynamic between the two of them and the way he slowly opens up, but even in opening up he’s holding back and the protagonist feels like he needs to keep him talking. I like it, it works for me. Legos.
Noah - Without a Clue
After reading this and looking back at the title, I feel like this might be an extended reference to Clueless, which is a movie I know vaguely of but haven’t seen. That said, it was the transition between the impending suicide and the flashback to class that tripped me up--though that might be an artifact of the archival process, so blame Kaishai. The overwrought tone was amusing but it did kind of drag on for a while after it had made its point and I was ready for it to move on.
Sebmojo - The Lost Gold of Old Man Finkelstein
Fairly amusing but kind of light. I enjoyed the slapstick but this could have melted into the rest of a week of kids having vaguely charming adventures. I appreciated the punchline at the end and there were some good bits throughout but this week in general was a bit of a childhood mush that makes me smell the scent of budget hand soap and cheeto dust. (These are the memories of my childhood.)
Krunge - Unruined
The idea behind this was pretty cool, and I can see (or at least, I can assume, since the image link doesn’t work for me) how you got here from your Lego set, but the voice was so bland that I started losing focus and thinking about other things in the middle of reading it. This was a general problem this week, but just because you’re writing about kids doesn’t mean you have to write like a kid would. The plot is even decent if you ask me, it’s just written in such a simplistic style that in my mind everything is low-res and Minecrafty.
Sitting Here - Dumb Baby Stuff
This was pretty good, and it was another case of taking the Kids Make Believe stuff and applying it in a different way, like Kaishai and Benny’s stories. The one problem I felt here was that they kind of came off as a bit older than they were meant to, but might just have been me. We ended up talking about the ending in judgechat and I said that I think the ending is good because it avoids being too saccharine and having their actions fix everything, or even focusing on like “and then we were friends even though our parents both divorced”. The fact that they’re explicitly hiding from scary adult stuff by doing this and they’re going to have to face it sooner or later made it feel a lot less patronizing than it could have.
The Cut of Your Jib - Missing a Few Pieces
This was also pretty good, and goes in the genre with Flerp’s story of Kids And Tragedy. It was a bit unfocused in the beginning, mostly because there’s a lot of people swirling around and it’s a bit harder to tell where it’s going before it shifts to being about her friend’s death. It also deals with emotions in a realistic way, and I like the feeling of these two kids playing together, both kind of wishing that it was their mutual friend they were playing with instead. I was going to ask if any kids ever actually watched David Letterman but I realized that I spent huge swaths of my childhood in the basement watching bad sitcoms because it meant I could eat as many potato chips as I wanted and my parents wouldn’t bug me.
Anyway, good story, and I’m going to go buy potato chips now.
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 23:17|
Thunderdome CCXXXI Results
Hello, all. I want to thank everyone for a much better week than I could have anticipated. While none of the stories really wowed the judges, we felt that most of the stories ranged from good to satisfactory. There were few entries that were deeply disliked and none of you were outright offensive.
However, I do want to give a few general comments for everyone to reflect upon for this week. First, several of the stories really overshot it on the "Kidspeak" both in prose and dialogue. I recognize that this is partly my fault for demanding that kids not sound like they are short adults, but some people really overused childish sentence structure and ended up being difficult to read. Second, several entries were not stories so much as kids reacting to wacky and amusing situations. I'm fine with vignettes and was amused by some of the scenes, but a few stories ended up feeling insubstantial or underrealized. A more direct conflict would have really helped some people this week.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s announce the results. A Dishonourable Mention goes to Krunge's Unruined, for being the worst offender in terms of Kidspeak. The Loss goes to Jay W. Frink's Agua Mala, Agua Pura, which was almost incomprehensible to the judges and also went over the word limit. Best luck next time!
I also have several positive mentions to pass out. Despite some issues with the ending, the first Honorable Mention goes to sparksbloom's The Understudy for nailing a kid's voice without being overpowering. A second Honorable Mention goes to flerp's It's Not Much to Listen for capturing a difficult topic in terms that a kid would understand. The Winner for this week is Sitting Here and her story Dumb Baby Stuff. All of the judges really appreciated your entry about two kids overcoming serious family drama through the power of imagination.
You have the Blood Throne, SH.
QuoProQuid fucked around with this message at 23:31 on Jan 9, 2017
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 23:28|
Thunderdome CCXXXI Results
hey that's awesome prompt
|# ? Jan 9, 2017 23:48|
Prompt will be up in ~6 hours, until then feel free to poo poo up the thread with gifs for me to ignore
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:10|
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:11|
Prompt will be up in ~6 hours, until then feel free to poo poo up the thread with gifs for me to ignore
can i poo poo it up w/o gifs?
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:12|
Prompt will be up in ~6 hours, until then feel free to poo poo up the thread with gifs for me to ignore
id poo poo it up with words but yall did that for me
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:15|
*is ejected directly into the toilet dimension*
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:15|
*is ejected directly into the toilet dimension*
get out of my house
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:16|
*is ejected directly into the toilet dimension*
That was a good story
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:30|
Interorompt: the stupidest dog 75 words
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:31|
Interorompt: the stupidest dog 75 words
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:32|
Interorompt: the stupidest dog 75 words
The Stupidest Dog in the World
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:38|
THUNDERCRITS 233: A DISSENTING OPINION
I’ll admit that I’m kind of an odd duck. I’ve always held the belief that people come to Thunderdome to learn how to write something that will get them published, not to write the “least worst thunderdome entry.” So when I look at a week about epistolaries and frame stories and half the entries have no drat stories in them, and the other half sounds like you actually wrote a lovely first person story and then crammed it inbetween a “Dear Fuckface,” and “Kind regards”, and then my cojudges pat each other on the back about how good this week was because nobody outright shat themselves, I don’t know but sometimes I really wish you could slap people through the internet.
Right, so here’s what I expected:
“I remember back when we ran out of coconuts at the office, but I had to make some pina coladas for my rear end in a top hat boss. The stores were all empty, so I stole a plane and flew to the Bahamas. Turns out they had no coconuts either, because there was a hurricane there at the time. Well anyway, they finally pulled me out of the rubble after I drank my own urine and gnawed on a dead rat for three days. When I came back I told my boss that there were no goddamn coconuts, and he was like, okay, whiskey sour will be fine. What I’m saying is: it’s important to stand your ground sometimes. Bosses are human too. I hope you have a great first day at work, and greetings from supermax prison.”
What you wrote:
“Hi! I’m sorry for the bad thing that happened. Remember when we were kids? When were always trying to out-swing each other on the swingsets? Boy those sure were the days, huh. Okay my buddy is telling me to stop writing. “Let’s go to the bar and have some beers,” he said, sliding into his jacket as he spoke. Yeah that’s right I have friends now. Ha ha! Bye.
P.S. I still love you”
I guess the most telling thing about this week is that I ended up skimming through most of the entries on first read and I still didn’t miss much, because nobody ever had a goal or a relatable cause, it was all just boring exposition and childhood memories and descriptions of how green the grass is. Oh but the words were ever so mildly pretty, lol yeah uh huh sure buddy
Peanut Milk – Fleta Mcgurn
“I saw you on the peanut milk yesterday.” That’s the first sentence I get to read. That. “I saw you on the peanut milk.” What the gently caress does that even mean. How do you see someone on a liquid. Was there just a sea of milk and they walked across it like some kind of milky jesus, like wtf like what. what is this. This is the first impression your story makes. The language of a five-year old: “I saw you on the peanut milk.” Nice.
The other judges had this in their high bracket. I don’t know how that happened, maybe they were the ones who were high *high fives self*. You were my loss candidate. You tried a lot and nothing worked. I guess I’ll start by comparing your letter to a soggy PBJ sandwich, and the peanut butter half is the one where you write a first person story of a guy having lunch at the office, and the jelly half is where you transition into actual epistolary form so your protagonist can write creepy poo poo to his high-school crush about how they totally made eye contact that one time, and not only that, but her eyes were beautiful, oh how he remembers, how he longs for that moment~~~
The flashback story kinda blows. It’s a bunch of loosely related vignettes, which of course can make up a story, but what I’m saying is it’s boring, there’s no arc to it, no nothing. Your protagonist isn’t doing anything much and nothing much happens other than they meet in the hallway and then they “hang out and talk [scene missing]” and zzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzz oh excuse me I escaped into the blissful void of dreamless sleep for a second. It doesn’t even feel important, because key events, like when he discovers that she’s just not that into him, take up relatively little space compared to what I guess is supposed to be the secret star of the story, the boss and his funny locker room quips.
What you could have done was to tell me the story of how the guy fell in love and what he did to get the girl, and what you definitely should have done was to give me a good reason for why he thought it was appropriate to tell that loving story in the first place, because seeing someone’s picture and taking that as an opportunity to finally come clean about how you were totally into them that one time and you still remember their laugh and what not, it’s weird as gently caress and now I’m picturing an unwashed nerd sitting in front of his computer, leaning into the facebook page on his screen, circular fog fading in and out on top of an inbox symbol that will never, ever change. “Why won’t she reply,” he’ll ask. Because your letter is so awkward that every new word I read splits off another instance of the multiverse where I die of fremdschämen.
“Your bottle went in the trash, and I lit a cigarette.” how did you end your letter on this, like did you just copy random words from above and rearrange them until they made a sentence i mean what the unsugared peanut-milky hell is this who writes a letter like that OH MY GOD
Consider this an honorary DM.
Subject: I love you I’m sorry – N. Senada
Donald Trump WON THE ELECTION THIS IS A HUGE TRAUMA :’(((( A NATIONAL SHAME THAT I HAVE TO PROCESS BY WRITING EPISTOLARY STORIES IN THUNDERDOME im from europe your slacktivist handwringing about the election results of the united states of america plonks off me like dried bird poo poo off a furious rhino
So I ask you this, N. Senada: have you even read the Thunderdome prompt? I will gladly share my copy with you:
I want a story where a narrator is relating a story to someone else.
The only actual story I see here is the schoolyard fight, but it only comes up towards the end and to be honest you could take it out and the letter would still make as much sense. It feels more like an afterthought to the actual main attraction, the protagonist’s melodramatic whining about Trump. But I think I’m wasting my breath on this topic because you were never going to write a full story anyway, you just really, really, really wanted to complain about the election.
Now take the mad voice you’ve imagined this critique in and imagine it even MADDER because there are very few things that I hate more than first scenes that leave me guessing about what’s going on. It’s not cute. It’s not smart. It’s confusing, and it muddles your story, and in flash fiction it’s already hard enough to stay on point. I guess what you wanted me to do was to go back after the fact and be super heartbroken that Rachel was looking forward to his email and then it was actually a breakup text, but I’ve been to a few rodeos in my time and where I come from we call that a see-through gimmick and people who do it get tarred and feathered and then we put them on a horse and slap the horse’s rear end so it rides off with them on top and they have to spend the rest of their lives in the desert, or at least until they can come back and prove that they’ve learned how to write a real straight-forward story before they try funny stuff again.
Also, for a letter that’s 90% the protagonist aggressively explaining his motivations at me you’ve done a poor job of making me understand why he’d leave his girlfriend. Like I just can’t imagine a person that’s defying their racist parents and travelling abroad to help kids in need and falling in love with one of the other workers and then a racist cheeto wins an election back in their home country and they go “welp time to gently caress off i guess all my ideals are dead and not worth fighting for *writes on a piece of toilet paper: LOVE YOU, BYE*”.
Or to say it in your own words:
Don’t call me.
I don’t understand this, please call me
Remember, I will always be your Hunter in the night Sky – Boaz-Jachim
There are some entries that kinda read like they haven’t been edited much, not because they’re bad but because the whole piece seems so dependent on its specific wording, on the flow of the language and images, that it’s almost like you have to write this kind of thing going in with the exact knowledge of what it’s supposed to look like and what you want it to say. Like starting a drawing by working out the details before you’ve sketched the scene – a different way of doing things but I find it impressive when the result is good, and maybe that’s not even what you did, but gosh darnit I like it anyway.
Now, technically, the story takes a bit long to get going. It’s almost until the end of an already short piece that you get to the point where the one spirit person gets sick and changes for the worse. And then it’s over. But I don’t know if the piece would have worked another way. And to be honest, it didn’t bore me. I think your language is just that good. It paints me a picture of, not so much a world, but of concepts: transformation, wistfulness, letting go. And it’s tight. You keep hitting me with new information and cool images and then the story is over and I wonder where the time went.
But when I say that this entry evokes many themes and concepts, that can also be a double-edged sword: because those don’t give me as much to hold on to as a fleshed out world and a straight-forward story. It’s all a bit vague, and the fact that your language is at times wafty and nebulous doesn’t help (spirits sitting on their shoulders while they’re making love?). So then I can see the characters and their interactions but there is no backdrop and I’m not sure how the world around them works. It’s like they exist in a vacuum. You had a thing to tell and everything you’ve written works towards that end and I’ll just have to deal with that.
I guess what I’m saying is, this didn’t grab me by the balls, and the short wordcount was a good choice because it allowed you to emphasize the strengths of your format. It was beautiful. It made me feel things and it didn’t read like a crazed serial killer chopped up a bunch of stories and glued together a frankenstein letter from the scraps. But maybe it could have been great. I’m just not sure how. Sorry. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
To a Seaside Well – Okua
I can’t for the life of me figure out why you bothered writing this. Now don’t get me wrong, you’re supposed to write, that’s why we’re here. What I mean is, why write this thing specifically? It doesn’t feel like there was some important thought you had to get off your chest, or like there was some cool idea or image you had to bring to life, or like you just wanted to entertain me. It doesn’t feel like anything much. It feels like you had to write an entry for Thunderdome.
So take aside the fact that you didn’t write a story in a week where you were supposed to write a story and take this postcard at its very low-end stampage face value. You’d probably still get bored reading this if it was a real letter addressed to you, and considering you’d have to be a dead person who’s slowly realizing that they’re conscious enough to read letters, that’s kind of an impressive level of boring.
Go ahead, read it. Maybe you’ll yawn a little. Maybe you’ll start feeling sleepy. Maybe you’ll fall on your knees, eyes burning from the dreadful terribleness that is your story, and you will raise your arms heavenwards and cry out, “Oh Entenzahn, why oh why did I write 700 words about how it makes me sad that the sea level is rising and my neighbors are moving out.” I don’t know man, but the answer is within you. Find it, and then make sure you NEVER DO IT AGAIN.
I get that the general idea of writing to the dead has some kind of wistful and sad note to it but that’s not enough on its own. All the stuff in your letter is just exposition. And it’s not even important exposition, like how the dead person died, or what it means when the still-alive lover says “You stopped responding”, or what DARK SECRET makes makes the sea swallow their island. There is no dark secret. The dark secret is that you bothered to author a piece about how “sometimes things change.” wowwwwwww…………….
Counter proposal: a letter tells the tale of a man who tries to reach the underworld, but fails at great cost. The author reveals himself to be that man, and he writes to his dead lover, whom he promises to free one day, no matter what. Or hey, do anything else. I don’t want to box you in. On the contrary. The point is, you boxed yourself in. And it was cardboard.
Bottled Immortality – Baleful Osmium Sea
This reminds me a lot of Don Quixote in that there’s this one guy who’s kinda crazy but also awesome and then there’s his devoted servant who keeps following him around and also there’s a lot of words and nothing happens. You didn’t gently caress up the prompt so that already puts you ahead of almost everyone else, but the grand tale of an English gentleman fawning over his soon-to-transcend alchemical prodigy poet buddy is a bit hard to relate to.
What I’m missing are concrete events and images. Most short stories leave you with a picture in your mind, and when I think of yours, I think of two gentlemen sitting in club chairs and drinking brandy. On top of that, Nathaniel’s poetry is never shown and his chemical experiments are only hinted at. It’s all an act, a story that pretends to be, and technically is, because something happens, but look closely and you see the threads and the mirrors, and look for a bit longer and you realize that you’re actually just watching the setup to a magic trick that never happens. I guess you’re not showing me any of these things because you know nothing about chemistry and you don’t trust your poetry to be good, but then maybe you shouldn’t write about a character whose mastery of these fields is integral to the plot. Because then you’re just writing around your own deficiencies, and in this case that goes so far as ending the story just when it might have gotten interesting.
At least the voice is pretty solid. Many letters this week had the disadvantage of sounding bloated and wordy, and yours ran danger of falling down the same pit, and yeah it’s a bit purple, but it ties in with the setting and the words you use are actually interesting. I don’t know, I feel like this letter works. The prose was probably the main reason I kept reading and I usually prefer gritty and snappy so good job I guess.
Now use those words to tell a story.
Comfort and Security – a new study bible!
I don’t think this was good at all, and I think HMs should be good, so I don’t think this was an HM, but hey.
The main problem I have with this is that it constantly breaks my suspension of disbelief. It doesn’t sound like an authentic letter, and certainly not like a job application. It’s mostly these dumb transitions where it feels like you’re in the job application part and then suddenly you remember that you were still going to work in the lost brother and you’re already halfway through holy poo poo *slams THE BUTTON* “Speaking of past experience working security in an amusement park environment, when I was a kid...”
It seems hamfisted. Like you constructed this… THING on an operating table where you had all the various talking points laid out in front of you and you just sewed them together in a random order until you were confident that yes, everything’s there, good enough. Don’t mind the seams, it’s technically functional.
It’s a shame because this starts with some touching family moments but then the writer reveals that this is actually a job application and it just feels like, what? Where does this come from? Your original story is over at that point so I’m floating through a void until I realize what you’re trying to do and then I just don’t want to believe it. Let that roll off your tongue: there’s a guy who writes a letter directly to Will Eisner to apply for a security job at Disneyland and also explain how he lost his brother there and totally misses him and also he breaks into Disneyland regularly. It’s not impossible to make that good, but it’s hard, and it sure as poo poo takes effort and quality writing that I don’t see here. So then this guy comes off as a loving psycho, but I’m not sure if that’s on purpose, because for how dumb the premise is there are also some relatively somber parts that make me feel like you were going for a genuine, sad story, and now I’m beginning to think you had no plan for this so you just did whatever and hoped that your gimmick was so crazy it might just work. Somehow it did. But not for me.
Nigh – Hammer Bro.
I thought this was going to be the good ol’ Divorce Classic, you know, one of those safe, cheap TV dramas that put a bunch of sad poo poo before you and then demand you be sad, this is sad, why aren’t you sad, what is wrong with you monster look at this poor child (1 like = 1 prayer), but then, whoops, turns out it’s actually a mystery story about Santa Claus stealing everyone’s parents. Except it isn’t that story either. It’s the setup to that story, and then it ends.
I don’t know how this always happens to people, like do you not read through your own entry and go “Hm actually the second half has nothing to do with the first half and nothing gets resolved.” I mean this isn’t complicated and you’ve domed before, I feel like you really should know better. Or maybe you realized your story was going to turn out boring and then panicked and crammed the Santa poo poo in at the last minute and just hoped to God I wouldn’t notice but you were WRONG I ALWAYS NOTICE I LITERALLY HAVE A BUILT-IN SENSOR FOR INCOMPLETE STORIES THAT TRIGGERS THE PART OF MY BRAIN THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MY DEEPLY SEATED DISGUST OF THE HUMAN RACE and that part of my brain right now is getting triggered so hard it floods my entire brain with impulses and I’m literally twitching and making GBS threads myself all over the place from how much I hate this
Then Santa’s letter is such a hosed-up caleidoscope of sentences on top of that. What does it mean everyone left behind is a friend of his? Why does he first say “your parents stepped out and something happened” like he doesn’t know or doesn’t want to tell her then immediately turns around and clarifies that “I’m using them to help me prepare Christmas”? Why does he mention some weird old man that’s going far away, like where is the dude going, and who is he, and why is Santa all like “You can follow that creepy old guy… OR NOT whatever dude” and why is he bringing up the loving dog at the end, like is this supposed to make his choppy ransom note sound heartwarming all of a sudden like how does none of this sound wrong to you dear god what kind of christmas do they celebrate where you live WHO HURT YOU
Lean That Way Forever – Thranguy
I just went back and tried to carefully read through the story another time just so I could finally understand what you’re blathering on about but there’s so much crap exploding in my face and half of it is just You-Know-What instead of an actual thing with a name and I completely lose the thread again so here’s my advice to your future endeavours: have somebody do something, like, anything, not just because Things Happening is good for a story, it also helps me understand what’s going on, what kind of aliens/robots/post-humans I’m dealing with, oh and also maybe not come up with some vague interdimensional race of transient god beings that live on the moon and then cutely dance around everything they want or do until they shrug at the audience and the curtain drops.
Deadline Imminent-Please Open Immediately – Jay W. Friks
There’s been a lot of stories this week that weren’t necessarily offensive, but just objectively bad in almost every single measurable way, like really the worst you can get without being bad enough to become a Thunderdome classic. This was one of those stories. The prose, the plot, the character, all awful in their own way, but at the same time also so dull that it’s hard to remember anything about them except for the fact that you spent the entire story scrolling down, moaning, scrolling back up and forcing yourself through the next paragraph.
I guess the biggest problem I had with this is that the letter reads like it was written by a fourteen-year-old Russian who learned English by watching the villains’ speeches in James Bond movies. It’s wordy, it’s weighty, it’s awkward, your guy rambles and introduces and prefaces and he just keeps going, on and on, until James Bond realized that this was how he was supposed to die: not with a quick shot to the neck, but talked to death, slowly, painfully, and in English that, quite frankly, left a lot to desire.
Here’s an example of a sentence that made me want to kill myself: “I have left this packet taped to your front door, though the envelope says otherwise you have not been given a final notice on your electric bill.” <= this should actually be two different sentences, and then they both shouldn’t exist because the first is kinda self-explanatory and the second is irrelevant and they’re both eyesores.
Looping back around to the other horrible parts, I guess I just really hated the story. It’s supposed to be about how the writer ran over this guy’s kid, but then the story doesn’t actually seem to deal with that so much as that it explains the writer’s backstory at me. The “redeeming apology” is mostly about the guy who wrote it, to a point where the part where he kills the daughter seems more like a twist to his autobiography, which makes for kind of a lame apology if you think about it. It also means that I spend a big chunk of your story in plot relevance limbo, that haunted place where I am not sure what the actual story is and how any of the stuff he keeps babbling about ties into it.
I guess you could try to weasel your way out of this one by saying that the protagonist is supposed to sound like an autistic /r/redpill manchild and then I could say “he he well write what you know eh? eh???” but tbh this is like the third letter I’ve read this week that does this and it’s just getting annoying. Please read a book.
99 Songs Of Revolution – SkaAndScreenplays
Here’s my crit for you: you’ll never get good if you don’t make a habit out of starting to write at least two days before the deadline. Even if you think your idea sucks. Put it down and then take it from there.
You might still end up with garbage but at least you’ll spend actual time writing.
To Open On The Day You Graduate Highschool – Tyrannosaurus
In a week full of letters that didn’t sound like letters and non-stories that just served to expose the weirdness of spergy asswipes in my face this was a breath of fresh air. Because for all the fawning about how good the voices were this week, I think this was one of very few letters that nailed it, and also Warren is a cool guy who makes me feel good.
Why didn’t this do better? Maybe because it depended a bit too much on the voice. What I mean is, there’s still not much of a story here. It’s a cute letter, and the guy who writes it comes off as likeable. But most of that is window-dressing. The only thing that actually happens is that he finds the girl. And I get it. It warms your heart a bit. But this is one reason I could imagine why a measurably worse entry HM’d and yours didn’t: what you wrote just wasn’t interesting.
Conflict is important. It gives me something to hold on to. It makes the story dynamic and memorable and it gives me a reason to care. Warren is a very nice guy, but there’s nothing to root for him over. This may sound pretty basic to you but the more I think about it the more I realize that many of your stories I’ve read seem a bit mellow in that regard, like sometimes there are people who want things but you rarely write stuff where two forces are actively working against each other to a point that goes past limply slapping at each others’ wrists. Imagine Game of Thrones but instead of killing each other they’re all having dinner. You’re only going half the way. Now of course I’m not an expert on your bibliography but there you are.
The other thing is that I’m missing a reason for this fictional letter to exist. Like these are supposed to have some kind of relevance to the fictional person they are addressed to, at the point of reading. Let me dig out the prompt one more time:
Why does the narrator believe it’s important to tell this story to this person? A winning or HMing story will probably leave me thinking about how the addressee might respond or react.
Warren himself literally admits that you could read that letter any time in any place and it makes no difference because it’s such a generic feel-good message. I guess that’s why you added the boring chat-log at the end, to anchor it in the present, but then I feel like this is one of the few instances where it would have been better to leave the ending ambiguous, because it really shouldn’t matter if she’d read the letter. The letter should work on its own. Instead, why not write a bit more about his war experience and tailor the letter towards a message based on that experience. Something where I feel like, okay you can give her that letter and it will have an actual effect on her.
I feel like the segway into the snowy woods scene is a huge missed opportunity here. Warren mentions walking up to a potential IED and it feels like he would actually want to describe what it felt like at that point, and that could be a strong moment for us to gain some kind of greater insight, but nope, turns out he just needed something to attach his scene switch to. I dunno, it feels like you’re frantically ticking off a list of talking points instead of trying to tell me something.
I still think that this deserved to HM because the other thing that HM’d is goddamn terrible and at least you made me feel good. But on the other hand I haggled some DMs out of the other judges and you haven’t necessarily made it hard for me to throw you under the bus for that.
Discovery – Kaishai
So I guess my first criticism is that this is a bit confusing, or at least the start is, but then that means it might as well be the whole thing. And it’s the little things, like calling it “the funeral” instead of just “her funeral”. This is something I’ve seen a few times this week where people want to avoid a situation where characters tell backstory at each other that they already know, and I agree, it’s lazy exposition, but withholding this information from me is the only thing that’s even worse. And the other thing is that you’ve got a magical rock man living in your backyard but you start your story with something completely else, so until that guy comes up I don’t know what you’re actually writing about, and even now I’m not sure.
What I mean is that I’m not sure why I’m reading any of this. The rock guy is definitely memorable, but you’re not really doing much with him, he’s just like a regular friend of Angela’s nobody had known about, and they had their secret spot, except the guy is made of rock and so is the spot. It’s like Caroline and Rock Man just keep meeting and going “oh by the way Angela’s still dead, yup” and then that’s it, except it’s a bit weird. Not just the situation in general but how she doesn’t seem at all fazed by the idea of a rock monster chilling in her loving BACKYARD.
Basically I got to the point where the rock guy knocked on the door again (this needed to be a separate scene for some reason) and I started wondering how you were going to use the last third to finish your story, or, more importantly, start it. But you didn’t. You were never going to, were you?
I get the feeling that you were trying to do something here but either you got turned around while you wrote your story or the point of your story is hidden deeper than a rock monster’s creepy underground cavern altar. I guess you can make a case for how you caught a feeling of the abstract concept of how we only ever see one side of a person, but next time I think you should write a story instead.
LATECOMERS imagine every crit ends with SUBMIT ON TIME
Flying with the Turkeys – Hawklad
I think my main criticism is that his early onset of paranoia comes a bit out of nowhere and doesn’t fit his attitude at all and then I immediately expect that “okay this guy is going to become super crazy over the next few scenes and that’s it” and well whaddayaknow
My Old Friend Needs A Hand – widespread
Full disclosure I only breezed through this but what’s there is for the most part so infuriatingly vague and random and not at all sounding like a letter that I’m okay with the loss, especially after my co-judges started sucking each other off about how great this week was to a point where I feared nobody would lose and instead everyone would receive a participation badge as new avatar. Please don’t end stories with your protagonist shooting themselves, it’s so trite I can’t even think of a metaphor for how trite it is and that’s basically the only reason I’m judging ever so that’s pretty hosed up.
Protect the Future – BeefSupreme
This is not an epistolary, and the letter itself is filled with jerkoff scifi jargon when you should actually use those words to paint me a picture of the atrocities committed – you know, the poo poo that actually matters. The frame story is just “guy reads letter” until it turns out that he’s working for the recruitment bureau? I think? I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter because that’s where the story cuts out. Lol.
Time Just Got Away from Me – The Cut of Your Jib
dude you were like a day late gently caress off im not reading this I’VE DONE MY TIME I’M NOT GOING BACK
Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 01:40 on Jan 10, 2017
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 00:53|
More than 75 words, not about a dog, you're not even trying Entenzahn.
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 02:00|
I thought it was a soft limit
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 02:30|
Week 232: I want to crit your blood
alright you writhing aggregate of making GBS threads dick nipples
you've summoned me from the deep slumber of mediocrity
i'm so sick of trying to come up with a prompt that "makes u think" and herds you felid children into something resembling coherence
BOLD TEXT write me your loving soul, write me the thing that makes you want to write, write me the essence of your being END OF BOLD TEXT
only the hardest dudes will enter this battle of truth and self
no flashrules i cannot help you
no wordcount because souls are nto quantifiable
Sign up dead line 11:59:59PM PST on Friday the 13th
Submission dead line sunday the 15th, 11:59:59
Ska for an HM or better
mojo , additional to get crits done by the signup deadline
anime was right
ska (again), regular
Flerp again, that both stories will be better than Ska's
Jay W. Friks
The Cut of Your Jib
Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 00:34 on Feb 8, 2017
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 05:35|
Ptearin' Out My Heart
Zoe eyed her mom with the kind of disdain normally reserved for adultisms about finishing her peas for the sake of straw children starving in Africa.
“Where’s Professor Pierre O. Dactyl,” she asked. “He was right here on the couch waiting for me to finish my homework and now he’s gone.” Rage boiled up inside of her like magma in a volcano, “what did you do with him?”
“I thought he was one that you were donating,” the dismissive reply only stoked the flames anger, “I dropped him off at the thrift store with the rest of the toys you weren’t playing with.”
Zoe screamed for a solid thirty seconds at her mother’s nonchalant admission of betrayal, “he was my favorite,” she bellowed, “I was hunting cavemen with him two hours ago!”
“I’m sorry honey,” the apology fell on deaf ears, “but if you ask me you’re too old to be playing with stuffed animals anyway.”
“Get him back!” Zoe huffed, stomping her foot to show her mother how serious she was, “he wasn’t yours to give away so you have to bring him home.”
Her mother laughed in the condescending way all adults do when they know they’ve screwed up but are to stubborn to cede the moral high-ground.
“The thrift store is only a mile away,” Zoe braced herself for one of her mother’s impossible compromises, “here’s five dollars. If you can get yourself there you can buy him back.”
“I’m only six,” Zoe’s anger had morphed into incredulity, “how am I supposed to do that when you don’t let me go past the corner alone?”
Her mom knelt down looking her in the eye, “well if you hadn’t been such a brat about it and asked nicely I would have taken you myself. Now you’re on your own so figure it out.”
“Urrgh,” Zoe stomped up the stairs plotting her revenge the whole way.
She’d been pacing in her room well past her bed-time before coming to an epiphany.
I can’t go past the corner alone, the word rang in her head like a trumpet heralding her victory.
Alone, she mused, Shouldn’t be too hard to get around that one.
The next morning at school was a flurry of Byzantine deal making the likes of which Fritchie French Emersion had never before played host to.
She’d traded her weekend caring for the class guinea-pig, to Lazy Lizzie Linski for use of her bicycle.
For the meager price of 5 chocolate milk vouchers Zoe convinced Terry Thompson to act as a chaperone. Surely a fourth grader could be trusted to usher Zoe a mile down the road.
The last bit of bartering was the most painful.
Zoe didn’t like Felicia Flores one bit but she was the only person in their grade with a smart-phone. So dire was her need for a GPS that forfeiting ownership of her coveted holographic Dancing Dogs binder to a lousy tattle-tale felt like a bargain.
Having secured everything she needed to achieve the impossible the rest of the day flew by. With borrowed phone in hand and rented bicycle in tow she boarded the bus home ready to return Pierre to his rightful place at her side. Neither of her parents were home before she arrived. Terry needed fifteen minutes before he would be ready to go so Zoe took the time to leave a note for her Mom; stopping to admire the professional tone and general lack of spelling errors.
Going on a high-risk mission to extract a V.I.P. (Very Important Pterodactyl) from hostile forces at Sack’s Thrift Avenue. I’ve conscripted the help of a local (Terry Thompson) as my guide. I’m sorry for being mean, you are nice to me when I make mistakes and I should be nice to you when you make them too.
Be back soon,
Terry wasn’t chatty on a good day; apparently less so on company time. The GPS from that no-good snitch’s phone had more personality than he did. The only voice on their trip came in the form of a debonair British gentleman providing turn-by-turn directions. With not a word between them Zoe and her escort arrived at Sack’s.
Sack’s Thrift Avenue was the best. It wasn’t one of those stuffy outlets with boring clothes and sterile playthings lined up on shelves. Toys from the thrift store came complete with battle scars and tragic backstories; everything here was one-of-a-kind.
Zoe approached the extraction of Pierre at a liesurely pace that would be her undoing. Eventually spotting the pterodactyl perched atop a pile of inferior beasts with missing eyes and questionable upbringings. A tiny hand raced her own to the top of the heap. With a triumphant howl Zoe rescued Professor Dactyl from the clutches of a sad little boy with watery eyes and a quivering lip. The boy just sat quietly. His sad eyes followed her as she sauntered triumphantly to the registers.
She swapped the old lady at the counter five dollars for her prize and the warm-fuzzies that came with beating her mother at her own game. The victory would have been much sweeter were it not for the snot-nosed kid eyeing her like she’d kicked his puppy. Zoe pushed the thought of him to the back of her mind as she made for the exit.
The walk to the door wasn’t as triumphant as Zoe had anticpated. Her feet seemed to get heavier with each step, her eyes unable to look at anything other than the toy she had worked so hard to save.
“He didn’t even cry when I snatched you…”
She looked Pierre for guidance, then to the boy, and again to Pierre.
With huff and a groan she turned back to the checkouts.
“What’s your name?”
“Well Walter this…” the child’s eyes flashed bright on seeing the stuffed pterosaur, “is Pierre O. Dactyl. Can you say that?”
“Pair o daddle.”
“Close enough,” She held Pierre in her open palm like some priceless artifact; taking a moment to admire the stains and stitches incurred in the grizzly Unicorn Revolt of ‘02.
“He is a professor of scientology that loves hunting cavemen.”
Walter blinked in amazement.
“Not historically accurate, I know... but it makes for good drama.”
Unsure of what was unfolding Walter’s dumbfounded stare turned to Zoe.
“Anyway he’s yours now,” Zoe shoved Pierre into the welcoming arms of his new keeper, “take care of him because he’s taken care of me.”
Satisfied at the enthusiasm with which Walter hugged Pierre she turned to leave.
“Oh poo poo,” Zoe covered her mouth. Shocked by the sight of her mother standing over her and at having cursed within earshot of her.
“I’ll overlook that one,” her mother’s voice rang with pride, “but only because that was a very nice thing you did.”
“I know,” Zoe muttered to her shoelaces, “It still sucks.”
“Well I’m proud of you,” Zoe’s mother hefted her up onto her shoulders, “let’s go to the bookstore... You can pick out whatever you want.”
Zoe met her mother’s offer with cautious optimism.
“Yep,” her mother looked up, “you’re going to want something something to read while you’re grounded.”
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 05:36|
in and ing is my soul
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 05:39|
in and to submit by midnight PST tonight
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 05:41|
in and to submit by midnight PST tonight
this, this is the stuff
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 05:43|
Neither failing nor accepting anything other than an HM worthy post out of myself...
I'll that claim too...
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 05:48|
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 05:59|
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 06:06|
lol@u if u write about writing
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 06:12|
Lol prompt bad im in
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 06:42|
In like the motherfucking hurricane imma rock ur face with
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 07:32|
Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:15 on Dec 28, 2017
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 07:46|
Aw poo poo we all just got Djesowned
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 07:52|
|# ? Jul 7, 2022 13:20|
Thunderdome would be easier if we all just had two hours from signup to write because we all do it last minute anyway lmao
|# ? Jan 10, 2017 07:53|