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  • Locked thread
sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







crabrock posted:

whose dick do I have to suck around here to get banned? sebmojo is a bad hombre <- mod sass plz ban

thanks for linking a random tdome page in support of your petition to be a butt you're request is granted

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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


sebmojo posted:

thanks for linking a random tdome page in support of your petition to be a butt you're request is granted

your computer probably hasn't finished loading the page because you are old and your computer is from 1942 it's an enigma machine in case you didn't get that

https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3758791&pagenumber=40&perpage=40#post458964012

does that link work? it's a link to my toxx.

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




crabrock posted:

your computer probably hasn't finished loading the page because you are old and your computer is from 1942 it's an enigma machine in case you didn't get that

https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3758791&pagenumber=40&perpage=40#post458964012

does that link work? it's a link to my toxx.


crabrock posted:

whose dick do I have to suck around here to get banned? sebmojo is a bad hombre <- mod sass plz ban



Funny, I don't see the word 'in' in any of those posts. Maybe you should violate the toxx before calling it...

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


"in" is in all 3 of those URLs u dumb it's right between someh and gawful

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


crabrock posted:

"in" is in all 3 of those URLs u dumb it's right between someh and gawful

i'm back. give me a song.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

crabrock posted:

i'm back. give me a song.

Huzzah! Let the jovial Latvia 2008: Pirates Of The Sea - "Wolves Of The Sea" welcome you home.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



In. Give me a song.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Djeser posted:

In. Give me a song.

I present you with the favorite of the United Kingdom televote: Poland 2014: Donatan & Cleo - "My Słowianie - We Are Slavic."

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 07:00 on Mar 30, 2017

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



:toxx: to submit by midnight PST tonight

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Behold my brain the golden throne of my consciousness. In here I am seated. Shackled. From here I police the land.



in, give me the flash kaishai

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

The Saddest Rhino posted:

in, give me the flash kaishai

Will Denmark 2007: DQ - "Drama Queen" be enough flash for you?

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5605

Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:22 on Dec 28, 2017

Ceighk
May 27, 2013

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2022




in and song me

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Ceighk posted:

in and song me

Somehow, I hear Latvia 2014: Aarzemnieki - "Cake To Bake" calling your name.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







in, song me

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

sebmojo posted:

in, song me

Welcome to the party! The ladies of Russia 2012: Buranovskiye Babushki - "Party For Everybody" are glad to see you.

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



In, with this year's lovely entry, from the lovely young man from Ireland. Gotta go with some hometown allegiance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp3apBsLjvk

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

:siren: :eurovision: Eleven hours remain to sign up for the greatest spectacle in song! :eurovision: :siren:

If you're considering going in and would like control over your own destiny, keep in mind these glorious and mostly unclaimed opportunities: the strawberry-banana druids of Armenia, Italy's breakdancing gorilla, the ever-beloved Sunstroke Project representing Moldova (not to mention that you get to arm-wrestle SkaAndScreenplays over that one), and Cyprus's gravitational earworm.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Sign-ups for Week CCXLIII are now CLOSED! Sing with valor, contestants, and bring glory to your countries.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


ok someone slap a :toxx: on my forehead for this week's submission because I am not failing poo poo

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.



Deucalion’s Brood (1200 words) -- Armenia 2009

Sister, they will call me a murderess, a madwoman. They will call this a treachery so vile that none can comprehend my motives. None of them will guess that I did it because of you. Mistress Amber might have remembered, but she is long dead now, and I wear her rings on my fingers.

It is dark and cold in the room where the ancient ones sleep. It is the hour after midnight, and I am alone with them. When we were children we imagined them as tiny infants, floating in glass jars. In reality each one is smaller than a mote of dust. All that can be seen are the vials of water in which they are suspended. It is only through seeing-machines that we can know they are there at all. Yet it is they who impart meaning to our entire existence.

Beyond the walls of our fortress home, the storms crawl across the lifeless earth and the seas vomit poison into the air. For centuries our Sisterhood has guarded this place, awaiting the coming day of resurrection. Without us, the candle of humanity will be snuffed out at last, and silence will fill the universe until the end of time.

That was how it was taught to us in the seminary in North Wing. My earliest distinct memories are of that time, when you and I first studied together. Before that I recall only generalities that could apply equally to any of my sisters. I was born from the sacred crucible; I was nursed in an incubation chamber; I was given a name. There are events that I remember, but I cannot say if they happened to me or to one of the other girls.

That is how we were raised in the Sisterhood. We are of one blood, one soul, the matrons taught us. Each of us is created from the blood of the same ancient Mother. We are made in the crucible and return to the crucible when we die. Even our names are recycled and passed on to the next generation. No individual is ever distinguished from the whole.

Ah, but then there was you, my sister—with your twisted leg and your strange, furtive smile. Our genetic material is supposed to be perfect, but something had gone wrong in the process of your creation. You were sick often. It was when I began taking care of you that I first saw myself as a separate being.

In school you struggled, so I swapped my slates for yours when the matron wasn’t looking. When our work was done we would slip away and explore the borders of our tiny world together. Late at night we would climb onto the fortress roof to watch the thunderstorms clash on the distant plain. Once we saw one of the ancient weather-machines flying overhead, carrying out its long task of undoing the damage to the planet’s atmosphere. “I feel very small,” you said when you saw it, and I put your trembling hand into mine.

Sometimes I wondered if the woman who had my name before me had shared a similar bond with the woman who came before you—if Sister Rose and Sister Maeve had found and lost each other many times through the centuries. But that was only a girl’s fancy. I know now that your memory will die with me.

I still smile when I remember the last night we spent together: the evening light on the rooftop, the huge black thunderhead rising up to swallow the sun. When the door blew shut and locked behind us, we laughed, putting on brave faces for each other.

All through the night we huddled under a narrow overhang, clinging tight to each other, our clothes soaked by the rain. In the morning you were coughing and pale. Your body could not weather the elements as well as mine. I was trying to wring the water from your dress when Mistress Amber opened the rooftop door and found us.

I counted the days that you were kept in the infirmary. I knew that if I asked to see you it would only make things worse. On the ninth day, Mistress Amber called me to her office after the morning meditation.

“Sister Rose has been transferred to the Peak to finish her education,” she said. “She left yesterday morning.”

And so it was done. You were gone from the fortress forever. You would spend your days in that lonely watchtower on the mountaintop, living with less than a dozen others, monitoring the progress of the ancient weather-machines.

“You may feel hurt now,” Mistress Amber continued, “but in time you will realise that this was for the best. You know why such relationships are forbidden. Individuation is a threat to the Collective; and a threat to the Collective is a threat to the Great Task.”

“But why?” I asked, forcing myself not to cry. “Why should it be wrong for us to love our sisters?”

A distant look came into the Mistress’s eyes. “Because this world is not for us, child,” she said. “We are only vessels for the survival of the ancient ones. So it has always been. So it must always be.”

There was nothing I could do then but carry on. I returned to that half-life I had known before I met you. I learned to see myself only as a part of the whole. I excelled in my studies, and in due course I traded my white novice’s robes for the blue velvet of a full Sister. Decades went by, and my youthful follies were forgotten. When Mistress Amber died, the other Mistresses chose me to replace her.

I have been in every way a model of our Sisterhood. And yet there was a sadness that always remained deep inside, marking out the contours of my true self.

Last week a message came from the Peak: Sister Rose has passed away. Her body and her name will be returned to the crucible. Something happened to me then. It was like all the years since you left had been a dream, and now I was waking. I knew at once what I was going to do.

As a Mistress, I have certain responsibilities beyond those of my sisters. It was not difficult to gain access to the chamber of the ancient ones. Disabling the temperature controls and the alarms was harder, but I have done it. Now all that is left is to wait.

They will call me a murderess, a madwoman. Even if they make the connection to your death, they will simply say I was driven insane by grief. But my grief for you faded many years ago. I have done this for the sake of the next sister to carry your name—and the next, and the next after that.

I have done it so that they may inherit the world.

It is dark and cold in the room where the ancient ones sleep. By morning it will be warm, and my sisters will find me here amongst the dead. I do not know what they will do with me then.

Okua
Oct 30, 2016


A Ripple In The Water (977 words)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gydbp99tMlg&ab_channel=EurovisionSongContest

Today my daughter was a red flamingo flapping between the trees.

I couldn’t help but think of how it looked. Clutching a letter in my hand, I ran after her, out of breath in a matter of seconds. We did not sink into mud, the bird and I, and there were no thorns. These woods were wild once, then slated to be cut down. They got a second chance at life through a radical change into the kind of park that single mothers feel safe letting their kinds run wild in.

Within limits. Nanna was too wild, spurred on by the bright, sunny day - though that wasn't what had originally set her off. That was the letter. That was me.

"Come back here!” I yelled.

The flamingo stopped and blinked its small, white eyes. Pinprick pupils made only for picking out shrimp and algae; for looking only down.

“Don’t be afraid."

Nanna bolted as well as a large bird could down the path, and I could feel the pity coming from passing pram-pushing babysitters.

Nanna had been a sphynx cat two weeks ago. There had been a long parrot-phase before that. (Whenever I coughed, she flew to the living room couch as she scattered colourful feathers over the cushions). The three days where she had tested out being a scorpion had been nerve-wracking: I could have squished her flat against the floor at any time if I was not careful. Or she could have stung me to death.

In-between wanting to be different animals, she wanted to be a doctor.

I told her I’d like that. She didn’t seem convinced. She was good at being a flamingo, far ahead though she ran on webbed feet. I stumbled - the ground was uneven, a fine path made muddy by dogs. Here and there, I saw paw tracks from bigger animals. My handbag bounced back and forth, beating against my side as my breath quickened, as I crossed the bridge. I saw how all water in the park flowed to the same big lake.

"Nanna!"

Still I had no choice but to run along with her, even when my stomach started to hurt. drat medication, drat digestion problems, goddamn stomach aches. Lots of things hurt now. I unwillingly imagined that I was pulling a rope each time I swung my arms back and forth, and at the end of the rope was a hospital bed that would come careening down to hit me, incapacitate me, but I had to keep running anyway. Maybe I could dodge the disaster when it came - jump over it, slide under it, fall to one side of the road and have it pass me by.

The flamingo moved slower, and at last it came to the lake. Sunlight was reflected by the still water. It was all upper-class closed-neighbourhood water-treatment clear - except for the part where it was red. A crowd of flamingos had gathered where the lake was shallow. They were going through the usual motions: preening, feeding, sleeping with their small heads tucked under scarlet and salmon-pink wings.

I saw them as red blood cells with white foam and water between them.

When I called Nanna's name this time, it rang out in the quiet. I understood, now, why she was a flamingo today. She was somewhere in the flock. How could she not be? It was such a good hiding place. They were so beautiful.

And unafraid.

Not afraid of me when I took of my shoes and stepped into the water. It was only a little colder than walking barefoot on a tiled floor, than pacing back and forth at the doctor's office to show them the body that had given birth but should – could - never give blood.

A woman stopped with her five-year-old in tow, looking at me from the shore. I felt like all strangers had a kind of x-ray vision that let them know the contents of my medicine cabinet.

The flamingos did not judge. I touched wings and long necks, pushing them aside to venture deeper into that red, pulsing place.

"Maybe it’s easier to be a flamingo than a human,” I said. I was scanning each and every pair of bird-eyes, looking for those that recognized me. "But you can't become a doctor if you're a flamingo. All you get to do as an animal is stand around here or in the zoo. Is that the life you want to choose?"

Some of the birds turned away from me. One of them came closer.

I held out the letter.

The flamingo stood right in front of me, smelling not of brine and fish and feathers but like oatmeal cookies and children's soap.

All the feathers fell off - in the right moment it could've been comedic, just one whomp - and then there was a girl, my girl.

We were both in water up to our knees, but it was the most private place in the whole park. Nobody could see us for the swarm of pink bodies.

(Lots of things hurt now).

We opened the letter, and I read it aloud. And we stared at the last line, the beautiful word in all-caps and italics: NEGATIVE, meaning that there was nothing bad in Nannas blood.

She was going to get a better life than me. Than a bird.

"You've no reason to be afraid," I told her. "Well - you might catch a cold, but that’s nothing."

"Nope." Nanna shook her head and smiled, infecting me as well.

And I took her hand. Led her back to shore.

We went past the mother who had stared at me. He five-year-old smiled pulled at her arm, wanting to go to the ice-cream truck out in the street, and when his mother did not go along he became a toucan.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.



Kaishai posted:

In your capable hands I place Switzerland 2007: DJ BoBo - "Vampires Are Alive."

The Undeath of the Party 1009 words

“Oh hey, glad you made it!”

Olga liked Robert. Not ‘like’ liked, just, you know, he was a nice guy. Usually she wouldn’t bother going to parties, but he was fun to hang out with, didn’t make fun of the fact that she was always clothed head to toe during daylight hours, and didn’t get weird when she had a blood pack for recess. She smiled. Usually she consciously tried to keep her mouth closed when she smiled, but Robert had a way of making her smile a full fanged smile. “Hey, I couldn’t miss your birthday.”

“We’re all out the back,” said Robert.

After a longer than comfortable pause in which Olga stood outside and looked at Robert, and Robert stood holding the door looking at Olga, she said, “Uh. May I come in?”

“Oh, sorry,” said Robert, “didn’t I already invite you on the Facebook event page?”

“It’s not really the same thing.”

“Right,” said Robert. “Please, come in.” So, Olga did.

There were only a few people out the back. A few others from school, including Robert’s younger sister, Erica. Olga liked Erica, too. Erica thought Olga was cool, despite all evidence to the contrary, like almost no one else at school agreeing with her.

Except Robert.

And the goth kids, but that was kind of a weird and creepy dynamic.

So, Olga chatted with Erica, and Erica asked her usual curious questions like what happened if she went out in sunlight, and how much blood did Olga drink per day, and could she fly, which would be annoying from most people but was endearing from Erica, and not just because she was Robert’s sister.

But there was that too.

Robert’s dad came around with some snacks. “Garlic bread?” he asked, holding out a plate.

“No thanks,” said Olga, leaning away slightly.

“She can’t,” said Erica.

“Ah,” he said. “You must be Olga. Robert talks about you a lot. I mean, not a lot. A bit. Some.”

“Those guys over there are probably hungry,” said Erica, pointing, and her dad quickly rushed away. “Sorry,” she said to Olga. “He’s so awkward.”

Olga smiled down at her. “He’s not so bad.”

And they put this embarrassing incident behind them and continued chatting, and Erica and Robert’s dad went back inside.

“Hey, glad you two are getting on well,” said Robert. He’d been wandering between a few different groups of friends, and was now standing next to them.

“Well of course,” said Erica. “Olga’s awesome.”

Robert smiled. “That’s true.”

“Are you enjoying your party?” asked Olga.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” said Robert. “Although it’s a bit hard with the different groups, if you know what I mean? Like, I almost wish I could have had a separate party with each little group.”

Olga shrugged. “I’m sure we’d be happy to have a separate party with you any time.”

“Nah,” said Erica, “I spend more than enough time with you, Rob; you should have a separate party with just you and Olga, instead.”

“Yeah, why not?” asked Robert, glancing at Olga.

“I’d love to,” said Olga, and would’ve blushed had she been physically capable.

“Uh. We’ll continue this later, all right?” he said. He was blushing, just a little bit. “I’d better check on the steaks,” he said, heading inside. “You like yours rare, right?”

Olga nodded. She actually liked it blue, but she didn’t feel confident about talking right now. Robert disappeared back inside, and Erica smiled a wide smile. “Best wingman ever?” she asked.

Olga smiled as well, put an arm around her shoulder and gave her a quick side hug. “Yeah, you’re all right.”

Erica’s smile fell, and Olga looked over to what she was looking at. Or rather, who. ‘Who’ was Keith. Olga did not like Keith. He occasionally joked that the real reason she always covered up all the way during the day what that she was so ugly that no one could bear to look at her under natural sunlight.

“How cute, the two freaks hanging out together.”

Olga sighed. “Can we just put whatever this is on hold, Keith?” she asked. “Just for tonight?”

“Put what on hold?” he asked. “I’m just making conversation with the freak patrol.”

“Whatever weird hang up you have with me,” she said. “Can we not do this at Robert’s party?”

“No,” said Keith, “we can’t not do this.” He stopped for a moment, as if figuring out whether the sentence he’d just spoken ‘worked’. “You’re a freak,” and he pointed a finger at Olga, “and you,” he pointed at Erica, “are a freak for thinking it’s all right to hang out with her.”

Olga shrugged. “All right. We’re freaks. Glad that’s settled. Are we done here?”

“No,” said Keith, and pulled a slice of garlic bread out from behind his back. “You’re going to eat this.”

He moved towards her, pushing the bread towards her mouth, but Olga moved faster, slapping the bread out of his hand, and delivering a solid whack to his hand in the process.

“What are you guys doing?” asked Robert. The bread had fallen at his feet as he’d come back outside.

“I think your freak of a girlfriend broke my hand!” said Keith, who was cradling the hand in question in his other hand.

“What? She’s not… we’re not…” said Robert.

“He attacked her with garlic bread!” yelled Erica.

“Well I bet she’d like to be your girlfriend,” said Keith, “and she broke my hand!”

“No, she wouldn’t,” said Robert, “and did you seriously…”

“Yes, I would,” said Olga.

“What?” asked Robert.

Olga opened her mouth. “I didn’t… I mean, it slipped out.”

“Are we just going to ignore the fact that she broke my hand?” asked Keith.

“Yes,” said Erica.

“Go inside and put ice on it,” said Robert. “And either calm down or go home. I won’t have people at my party attacking my…” he paused and looked at Olga, and she smiled and nodded. “…my girlfriend.”

“Yaaaaay!” said Erica, and hugged Olga.

Ceighk
May 27, 2013

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2022




Kaishai posted:

Somehow, I hear Latvia 2014: Aarzemnieki - "Cake To Bake" calling your name.

Midsummer’s Eve
1192 words

Now her husband was gone, it wasn’t the pain in her joints or her trembling hands that left Jeanette Fletcher feeling ancient, but that there was no one else left in the village who shared her memories of the world before – the age they inhabited without realising they were destined to outlive it, before the dark silver sea overspilled the promenade and one by one the lights in the street, their home, and all their devices went black.

The eggs were always the easiest part. She kept a few hens in the uneven pile of balsa wood and netting her husband had stacked against the stone wall of her cottage, and what’s missing a few breakfasts when it’s for something important? Flour you had to hope someone was making the trip into the valley for, but she had slipped the Macphersons’ boy a square of chocolate when Ossian’s gang were getting ready to leave, loading their firearms in the village square. The butter she had was a bit old and soft – just like her, she thought – but it’d do the job.

‘No sugar, though, Mrs. Fletcher,’ Colin Macpherson said as he pulled the sack of flour from his parka and placed it on her kitchen table. He had a fresh cut across his cheek and Jeanette tried not to think about what the men got up to outside the village. Ossian, who wore his own scars with pride, said they had to go armed in case they ran into trouble, but Jeanette hoped Colin understood that trouble didn’t only come from those living outside the walls. ‘What’re you gonna do?’ he asked. ‘My wee sister’s dead excited for tomorrow. The cake makes it better than Christmas for them.’

‘Don’t worry, pet,’ she said, ‘I’ll think of something.’

‘I hope you do.’ With his oversized coat and the Russian submachine gun hanging from his shoulder like an awkward satchel bag, Colin looked like he had dressed as a Soviet militiaman for a school play. It broke Jeanette’s heart he was doing it for real.

Out in the village, preparations were underway for the midsummer festival Jeanette had given life to almost a decade ago without realising it. When they first came to the village she had decided to bake cakes for all the children on their birthdays, being too old even then to do much else of use. As the ingredients became harder to find, she figured the children could share a birthday, and a cake with it, on the twenty-first of June. But recently the little celebration had begun to outgrow her, becoming a day of festivities that carried on well past her and the children’s bedtimes. Two boys Colin’s age were setting up a stage in the clearing outside the village hall. ‘What’s this for?’ she asked.

‘Ossian wants to do a speech tomorrow,’ said Robin Kay. Once a smiling child with blond hair that fell over his eyes, now Robin was taller than Jeanette and sporting a fresh buzz cut, a revolver sticking out of his jacket pocket.

Jeanette nodded at it. ‘Do you boys have to take those everywhere?’ she asked.

‘Is there a reason why we shouldn’t?’

If anyone was likely to have sugar, Ossian would. ‘Aye, one sec,’ he said through the crack in the door after she knocked, then shut it with a click of the lock. When he opened the door again just wide enough to pass out a glass jar, Jeanette stuck her boot into the frame to stop him from closing it again. ‘Are you going to tell me what they’re for?’ Jeanette asked, pointing inside. Laid out on the floor of Ossian’s living room was an armoury of assault weapons, shotguns, rifles.

Ossian locked his cold eyes with hers. ‘Jeanette, you’ve done a lot for the people here. But you might want to be more careful asking questions in the future.’

‘They are just children, Ossian.’

He stepped into the crack to block her view inside. ‘Let me close the door.’

The next morning, Jeanette awoke with a sense of trepidation. The sky above the mountain peaks was a clear metallic blue, but the air seemed to crackle with forewarning. Easing her stiff joints into the day, Jeanette gathered everything she needed from her house then set about laying the table in the village hall. Linda Macpherson and Colin’s youngest sister, Imogen, joined her before noon, bringing yellowed plastic jugs filled with clean water, goat’s milk, and freshly pressed apple juice. In pride of place at the centre of the table lay a covered ceramic dish from Jeanette’s kitchen, still warm to the touch. Whatever Ossian had planned for outside, within these walls the day would continue as it always had.

‘I worry about my son, Jeanette,’ said Linda after a long silence. ‘I’ve heard what goes on when they’re not in town.’

‘I know,’ said Jeanette, touching her friend on the arm. ‘I worry about them all.’

‘It never used to be like this.’

Looking at the concern on Linda’s face, it was not the first time Jeanette had noticed that the woman was about the same age as her daughter might be, if she was still alive somewhere. But then, at this time of year, everything reminded Jeanette of her daughter. Midsummer’s Eve – the night she and her husband first met their baby girl, and the last time they heard her voice, twenty-five years later, before transatlantic communication became the private domain of the billionaire class, and then not even that. They never discussed how she was being forced to choose between her parents and the father of her child, but Jeanette understood why she chose the way she did.

The sun was hot so they left the double doors to the village hall open as the children ate. Outside, a crowd was beginning to form around the stage, with Colin, Robin, and another boy standing just beyond the doorway, looking younger than ever without their heavy coats, each of them cradling their weapons like infants in their arms. Placing the last slice of cake on a chipped plate, Jeanette slid it across the table towards Imogen. ‘If you can catch your brother alone, darling,’ she said, ‘I’m sure he’s not too old to have a slice.’

‘Why bother waiting?’ said Imogen, grabbing the plate as she stood up.

‘It might be better if you...’ Jeanette began, but the girl was already running for the exit. Framed by the open doors and too far away to hear what was said, Jeanette watched her hold the plate out for her brother, who froze for a second and then, looking to his friends, took the cake and split it between the three of them. Behind them, Ossian began his swaggering ascent up the ramshackle podium, flanked on each side by shaven-headed men carrying rifles. With a sound like thunder, the boys fired bullets into the air in celebration. Colin fired with them, ignoring how Imogen had dropped to the ground in terror. Around the table in the village hall, children began to cry. Jeanette wiped a tear from her cheek.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Ironic Twist posted:

In with France.

Fell
1186 words

My half-dead father has been dancing for weeks, and I ran out of Ambien two days ago, and I can’t wrap my pillow around my ears tightly enough.

Tap, tap, taptaptap. Tap, tap, taptaptap. The sounds of his shoebottoms against the dining room’s crown molding are slowly driving me to take up smoking again.

“Shut up!” I yell towards my bedroom door.

The steps don’t stop, and neither does the tinny merengue music. I groan and try to dig a hole through my mattress with the back of my skull. I want to cry. I want to throw something at him, but the last time I did, he caught it, whirled around and placed it atop the twenty-foot tall china cabinet, and kept dancing without a stutter.

None of it makes any sense. None of it.

I knew it was never supposed to make sense, but now I really know.



“Good morning,” my father says to me from his place on the dining room ceiling as I walk in. I don’t respond.

Two, maybe three hours of sleep. That’s what I’m living on, now. While I shuffle through papers and cramp my wrist signing and dating them, while I take calls from all the well-meaning people telling me how sorry they are, while I protect this estate. I went to bed in a home, and woke up in an estate.

“Another bad morning, then,” says my father, adjusting his bow tie. He strides over and reaches up to the record player on top of the china cabinet, replaces one record with another from the cardboard filing box next to it. I don’t know how he made his way to the basement or the attic to dig up another dusty record player, after I heaved the first one out the front door and watched it shatter against the flagstone walkway, half expecting it to soar up into the overcast sky.

The music crackles alive, and my father dances, shaking little bits of plaster loose from the ceiling. I sit at the end of the dining room table, and focus on the rain.

All the family papers, the receipts and returns and legal documents, are all stacked on the half of the table that hasn’t been water-damaged, rain coming in through the broken skylight, glass edges poking out through the metal frame. A chandelier shines down over the paperwork, illuminating the names of family members, some alive, some not.

The rain drums against the wooden tabletop, against the driving backbeat of my father’s footsteps, the slow-slow-quick-quick that pries my eyelids open after midnight, that dances across my spine like an Olympic gymnast on a balance beam.

“How’s Mrs. Falconieri doing?” my father says, twirling, spinning, holding his invisible dance partner.

“Fine,” I say, my eyes on the forms.

All the well-meaning people that come visit, that shake my hand, that pull me into their embrace. There are the ones that hold you loosely, with their fingertips, and can’t wait to pull away. There are the ones that hold on tight to your hand, your shoulders, and won’t let go until after you pull away, like they want nothing more than to be low-effort raptured along with you.

“Charlie,” my father says.

I’m not sure which type is worse.

“Charlie,” my father says again.

I look up.

My father is clinging to the side of the china cabinet, digging his shoes in against the bone-white plates and rouged-up ballerina figurines. “Remember Mother’s Day?” he says.

I remember. Walking towards their bedroom with a tray of butter and jam and coffee and croissants, to find them both rolling around on the bedroom ceiling, laughing with each other. He reached down and grabbed a croissant, dunked it in the jam, and fed it to my mother, while I watched, horrified. I set the tray down on the carpet and walked back towards my room and locked the door behind me.

I blame him because there was nothing he could’ve done. I blame myself because there was nothing I could have done.

“I remember,” I say, looking back down into the varnished tabletop.

“That was the best croissant I’d ever had,” he said.

“I thought you couldn’t taste anymore. After--that.”

“Still. It was still the best. I can’t speak for your mother.”

I grit my teeth, harden my jaw--and then lurch forward, laughing. “I think--you kind of have to, now,” I sputter.

“When you’re right, you’re right,” he says.

I can hear the smile in his voice, and I keep laughing, a big ringing lack-of-sleep laugh that bounds up the walls and off the ceiling, and I double over in my chair it hurts so much but I keep laughing, because it’s the worst possible time that anyone could think to laugh, which of course means that I have to.

“Hey,” he says. I look up again and he’s made it further up the china cabinet. He reaches out to me. “I need a dance partner,” he says. It makes about as much sense as anything else that’s happened this month.

I walk over and take his hand. He steps away from the china cabinet, and gravity does the rest--he outweighs me by about sixty pounds. He lands with both feet on the dining room ceiling, lifting me into mid-air. The music skips for a moment, then keeps going.

I swing from one of his hands to the other like a trapeze, feeling his footfalls through my whole body. I laugh, spinning over the dining room table, the guitar notes and violin strokes intertwining as he carries me from one side of the dining room to the other. I close my eyes and kick at the glittering chandelier. The music doesn’t stop, carries us through this moment together, the last little thing we have. I know why he can’t stop dancing, now.

It’s funny. All of it’s funny.

“I just wanted this,” he says, and the word just snuffs out my laughter.

He takes one big step to the left.

That’s all it takes. One step too far to the side, and anyone can disappear, like Mom did.

I cling to the chandelier just in time, yanking it up towards the ceiling, not letting go of his thick wrist as he slips through the open skylight. He yells in frustration.

My arms are on fire. My thighs are wrapped around the neck of the chandelier, dangling crystals falling to the floor, miniature lightbulbs popping and sizzling against the falling rain, the rain splashing against my eyes, my forehead, running down my straining arm. I can see him, half over the edge of the empty skylight panel, dragging me closer and closer towards infinity, towards where Mom is.

“Let go!” he screams. “Let go!”

I grip his wrist tight, and look into his eyes. I try to speak to him without saying a word, because there’s no time. I grunt, try to pull him closer to me.

His eyes are wild.

“LET GO!” he screams again.

My fingertips are slick with rain.

I can’t hold on forever. But I’m still going to try.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Kaishai posted:

SurreptitiousMuffin (West Germany 1979)

wherever the river ran

In his dying hours, Temujin dreamt of his mother, the wolf. Her fur was patchy, her eyes wild and pale. It did not worry him; she’d been dead almost thirty years. He’d never known his human mother, but the wolf had raised him: she was family in a way he’d often sought, but rarely found. They sat on the banks of the Onon Gol and watched the water, as they’d often done when he was young, and not the Great Khan -- when he had a name, instead of an epithet.

His brother Bekter floated downstream, face-down and naked with a single arrow in his back, at an angle, crossing his spine perhaps a handspan above his hips. Genghis could not remember why they’d fought; a woman, perhaps? Bekter did not bleed much, but little tendrils muddy red reached out into the ice-water. Temujin’s first kill. His hands shook at the memory.

Another body, and another. Bodies beyond counting, until the water could not be seen and the Onon Gol crawled thick with effluvium.

“One day,” said Temujin, “when my father was away, I took a horse and rode down the Onon until sunset. I looked out, and saw only more steppe, and more river. It went on forever, into the west and the setting sun. It was that way everywhere we went, for so much of my life. Imagine the whole world frozen-over –”

He coughed, and placed a hand to his chest. His mother did not reply. She shivered, and lay her head across her paws.

Words came on the wind, from afar --

We are sick with need; the devils of the earth fear only the men.

His mother growled, and a single word painted itself in the cold sand: enough.

“Perhaps there is enough,” he said, “but not here nor anywhere my horse can take me.”

He frowned. “I do not think. I have ridden into the setting sun for a thousand miles and a thousand miles seven times over and I have not found it. They say God sent me, to scourge the wicked; I have not found Him, either. There is hunger in the north, and the east, and the west. There is ice, and sand. There are men without mothers, and men who speak of brotherhood with no idea what it means.”

His mother forced herself up on shaking paws, and wandered to the river’s edge. She howled.

Bekter answered on the wind, though his words were lost. She’d raised him too: two brothers, lost in the wild.

In Xian, awake, breaking from his delirium for a fleeting moment, Genghis Khan sat up in his deathbed and called for Subutai : as close as a friend as he had. Two thousand miles away, camped with his riders on the banks of the Euphrates, Subutai awoke with a start but thought nothing of it: he wandered the camp for some time, spoke with the sentries, then went back to his tent and dreamt of strategy.

The Khan, so ill from his wounds that he could not even stand, fell back into his strange dream and did not fully wake again.

On the banks of the Onon-that-went-forever, Temujin called to his mother. She howled, and shivered, and would not meet his eye. The river went on forever, into the west and the setting sun.

“Ten thousand and ten thousand men, and eight times more,” he roared. “This many men I have at my command. Each man is my brother, and each man is my son. I am not alone. I am not empty -- no more than the world is empty.”

His mother did not answer, nor did the dead. Temujin coughed. There was blood in his hand -- a whole blood clot, as there’d been at his birth. Blood did not scare the great Khan. His hands were small, and they had been when he was a boy. The desert went on forever, as it had when he was a boy. The Onon --thick and wretched with blood, reeking of ash-- went on forever.

No riders, no Bekter, no Subutai.

A figure rose from the water and came to greet him. A hellish figure, wreathed in smoke, white teeth curled into a feral grin.

He barely recognised himself.

“The world is empty, and endless,” said Genghis Khan, the warlord. “You have known this ever since you rode the Onon until sunset. All who know this are your brothers; everybody else is a corpse. You took the fools in the West, and showed them the truth -- nothing more. Bekter was your brother by blood only, which means nothing.”

“Blood is nothing,” said Temujin. He turned away from the Great Khan, and stumbled to his mother. He stroked her fur, and wept. His mother did not answer. He wanted to shout, but his voice was gone. The shadow of the Great Khan fell over them both.

“What did it mean?” he said. "Is it empty or not?"

There was no answer; Temujin was alone. The river went on forever, into the west and the setting sun.




812 words

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




There Are Stories of the Dutchman

Kaishai posted:


Welcome aboard Eurovision Airlines! Please fasten your safety belt and prepare for the in-flight movie, United Kingdom 2007: Scooch - "Flying the Flag."

1200 words

The best ticket on offer is no good to me. It would get me to New York in twenty-two hours, and by that time my father will be dead. I buy it anyway. It’ll get me into the airport. I pass through security and slightly unfocus my eyes, looking for the signs.

Most airports have a VIP lounge. Big ones have more than one, most of them secret. One for millionaires. One for people even richer. There’s others. Only a couple airports have one for wizards, but Heathrow is one. There’s an invisible rune on the door. I trace it and walk in.

I don’t recognize anyone inside. No surprise. I’ve only been in London three months, hanging with street level magic users. These guys are aristocrats. One of them, has the long beard, robes, a huge staff and a coke-bottle-lens monocle floating in front of his left eye, sees me coming. “You look like you need something,” he says. I nod. “Well?”

“I need to get to New York. Immediately if I can.” I say.

“What’s the rush?” says a pompadoured wizard in a plaid jacket.

“If any of us could manage teleportation,” says one, four foot tall and bald, “Do you think we’d be hanging out at the airport?”

“It’s my father,” I say. “He doesn’t have much time left, maybe a few hours. I need to-”

“Are you sure you’re even a wizard?” says the small one. “If it’s your father, just do blood magic. Should be able to keep him up and pain-free for-”

“I know Ghall’s Sympathy,” I say. I conjure a complicated fractal illusion left-handed, by way of credentials. “He’s my stepdad, technically.” My biological father left when I was ten, then died before I could...

“Sorry,” he says, then goes back to cheating at solitaire.

“I can help you,” says the one in plaid. He offers his hand. “Call me Shaw.”

We shake hands. “Aaron,” I say. “How?”

“There’s a plane that can get you across the Atlantic fast enough. Supersonic, about two hour trip. That good enough?”

“Should be,” I say. I’d done the divination, knew exactly how much time I had. “But I thought they stopped flying those years ago.”

“They did,” he says. “But flight 668’s still going. You hear the story?”

I hadn’t. He tells it to me short. Passenger flight, back in 1967. Got hijacked mid-flight, the old fashioned way by a bunch of thugs who wanted to take it to Cuba. Killed about a dozen passengers and crew taking over, so the captain wasn’t having any of it, said he’d take the plane straight to Hell before he’d land it in Havana. So they shot him. The copilot said the exact same thing. The pilot did fly in straight to Hell, and Hell’s where the terrorists departed. But it turns out there wasn’t enough fuel to make it to Heaven, so it’s been flying its usual route ever since, faster than anything short of a rocket

“Now it’s mostly ghosts who fly 668. But the living can come,” says Shaw. “Interested?”

I am. We negotiate a price. Fairly dear, several rare books from my library.

“Now, there’s something you to need know. You’ve got to be very careful with the crew. Polite. The plane’s only solid enough to hold you up so long as they want it to be, so if you get them angry-”

“I get it.”

“I don’t think you do,” he says. “You married?” I shake my head. He pulls out a gold ring. “Take this. Only polite way to turn down a proposition from one of them is to flash one of these, and they will proposition you. You aren’t dog-ugly, and they get plenty lonely and bored with each other up there.”

“But what if I-”

“Ever been with a ghost?” he says. “Didn’t think so. Ghosts aren’t substantial enough even at best, if you get my drift. Everything you’d be doing would be entirely for their benefit, and if you can’t fake an ending convincingly they’ll get offended at that. Better to avoid the trouble entirely.”

I take the ticket and follow his instructions, through the unused corridors of Heathrow to where the ghost plane loads. I board, take my seat, listen to the pre-flight instructions. I order my drinks and, just like Shaw predicted, have to flash the ring a few times to avoid joining the mile-high club. We reach altitude and the seat-belt light comes off. I start my drink and hear a voice I haven’t heard in decades. “Aaron? Small drat world, that’s for sure.”

I turn around. He sits down next to me without asking permission. I close my eyes for a second, trying to force him to be a passenger by sheer force of will. I turn my head and open them. He’s wearing a flight uniform. Don’t give offense I think. “Hi, dad,” I say.

We sit in awkward silence for a while. “I know you didn’t go down with the plane,” I finally say.

“Nah,” he says, smiling. “Joined up in ‘92.”

“Why?”

“It’s a living,” he says. “Like that bird on the Flintstones says. Funny, huh.”

“Not really.”

“No, not really. But yeah, I got debts, and they pay me, so...”

We keep at it, small talk with long awkward silences. He asks why I’m flying with ghosts, and I tell him.

“This guy, he been treating your mother right?”

“Better than,” I say, then catch myself. “Better than right.”

“Shame, then,” he says. “About the cancer, that is.”

I don’t say anything. The attendant brings another drink. The plane flies, a thunderstorm gathering around it. No turbulence, but when the lightning flashes, under that second of electric light my biological father, the crew, and the rest of the passengers’ bodies fade to translucent and I see only glowing skeletons, laughing and flirting and passing the time.

“I should probably get back to work,” he says.

“Wait,” I say.

“Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

“For what?” he says. “I mean, I know I’ve not done right by you or your mom, not hardly. So what’re you thanking me for?”

I brace myself. He’s probably not going to fade the plane and let me fall. He was a bastard, but not that kind of bastard. I hope. “For dying. When you did. If you’d been alive when I started learning real magic, well-”

“You’d have killed me?” He says. “Really?”

“I was a pretty angry young man those days.”

“Well, uh,”

“So I’m glad you kept that off my soul at least,” I say.

“Well, that wasn’t what I was thinking about when I drove ‘round that corner,” he says, “But I’ll take what I can get.” He gets up and goes back to the front of the plane. I finish the drink and close my eyes. In a few hours I’ll get to say goodbye, say ‘I love you’ one more time to my actual father. In a few hours I’ll have to say goodbye to him. I’ve got so much more to say to him before he goes, but right now I can’t find any words other than those three.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

:siren: Forty minutes remain! :siren:

Will the lawn gnomes of Zdob și Zdub be neglected for a second time? Did Iceland's singer paint her cheekbones for nothing? Are Belarus's wolf holograms soon to drag a soul down to Toxxic Hell? Stay tuned!

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Aaaaaaand, it's gone!

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

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Behold my brain the golden throne of my consciousness. In here I am seated. Shackled. From here I police the land.



E: https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5614&title=Five+Facts+on+the+Death+of+Signora+Reina+Del+Teatrale

The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 06:55 on Apr 17, 2017

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Week #243 Submission

In a Young Girl’s Heart
1060 Words


Svala - Paper (Iceland 2017)

Dóttir felt the silence closing in, like fractals blossoming from the dark edges of her mind and working their way ever faster to the center. If she once knew the reason why, it was trampled under the white noise long ago, pushed to the periphery as a bulwark and sacrificed with all the other small memories to protect the fragile membrane at her center that held what she considered most important. She might be having the final thoughts on earth. She didn’t know. Silence took the world long ago. Took her parents, took everyone. A few ‘forgetful moments’ grew to corrupted minds everywhere and then there was only Dóttir, alone.

She moved through the paper factory and found it sterile; it was, after all, a place of birth, or could be. Birth was inefficient, uncalculated, a scattershot release of potential into the world. She saw paper as the same, a vessel to carry hope. There was little time left to ponder. Dóttir was nearly worn out.

The world had long since moved past paper, and eventually, past flesh. Dóttir could still summon a memory or two of her own birth—or rather, awakening—replayed in fits and starts and more artifact than image, now. The room was warm and friendly as she blinked in from nothingness and saw her parents. She knew them immediately; it was all programmed before she opened her eyes. Their names were gone, though, and most of her own. She clung to the final bit, the part that reminded her she once had a family, Dóttir, and aside from those few flashes of happiness, there wasn’t much left to define herself.

There was only her mission; the core that she kept farthest from the darkness. She knew it might be madness, a jumble of information from a forgotten world that only made sense through the filter of a corrupted consciousness; but she felt it was still pure. The way she decided to proceed long before the whistle of hurricane winds started singing and dark clouds closed in.

Collected things were easy enough. Built things took precious time, but were not the challenge. The makeshift paper mill, repurposed machinery assembled by her hand was small, but functional. Dóttir didn’t remember where or how she gathered and assembled the necessary components, but knew her work there was complete.

How do you find your way out of an Icelandic forest? Stand up. Trees were always scarce on the island and they were twisted scrubby things when they did grow. That was the old joke. There hadn’t been any sort of plant on the island for . . . centuries? Dóttir imagined that most of the planet was urbanized, mechanized even. Organics were obsolete. The island was converted to pull geothermal power from deep underneath her feet.

The challenge was in growing a living, respiring tree. Snippets came to her oif adventure over the sea: The trek to the archaic, frozen tunnel that wound its way under the top of the world to the long-forgotten seedbank, the museum of life itself. Then she had life here with her. A sprout, then sapling, the thickening trunk. It was thinner than her forearm, too small for her needs, unprocessed. She required a scroll of birch bark. Time conspired against her, rushing along before everything was ready. If not for the looming end weaving threads that trapped her thoughts one by one, she would have waited for the tree to flourish. To have a second chance in case she failed. She hoped the entire tree mulched into paper would suffice, that desperation would allow the rules to be bent.

Dóttir poured the chemicals, ground the tree to pulp. She ran it through the press, over and over, and gradually it took shape as it dried under the ultraviolet light. Her paper was ready.

Her clothing was unnecessary, tokens of the past. Wrought-iron jewelry swung as shamanic talismans, eyes to glimpse the ancient rituals. The runic patterns on her chest had no heart underneath, but she felt the strength of her wish so powerfully that it must work. She had to trust in something she would never understand. She would never see the results. Dóttir committed the future to the old ways. It was magic.

Then the moment came. She unlocked the protected kernel where she stored her precious knowledge. She felt hands reaching, trying to snatch it away. She transcribed the spell with superhuman speed. A thousand runes printed in angular perfection on the birch paper, and then it was gone from her mind. She must keep moving forward, there was nothing remaining to fall back on.

She danced and sang the spell to the clanking of the machinery until the air was like water rushing around her and her movement grew slow. Grace left her. Dóttir felt more and more like the machines, janking and struggling to finish. Then at last, it was complete. She sank to the floor.

“Mother. Father. I don’t remember your names. I don’t remember my name. The image of your faces is gone. Were you like me? Was I the first? Or the last of a long line? Nothing more remains of me. But I have finished.”

What was it? She didn’t know. It was gone with everything else. Her vision was narrowed to a slit and she felt the impossible sensation that she was suffocating, her entire being crushed to a point. Beams of green light fanned out from all around her and she thought perhaps it was the final light show before she shut down. She closed her eyes, or they stopped working. She was smothered in the darkness.

The last thing she heard was the sound of the machinery she left running. It, at least would outlast her. Thump-thump.

---

Thump-thump. It grew louder. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Dóttir felt the chill of the air on her skin, and was grateful for the slippery, synthetic puffs of the archaic parka as she pulled it tight around her. She opened her eyes and things were duller and the focus was less sharp. She struggled to stand on wobbly legs and as she pushed her palm into her thigh for balance, it was soft. She gasped in surprise and the breath filled her and cleared her head.

Dóttir smiled as she heard voices, gravelly and groggy, and smelled pollen in the air.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED





(Prompt)

The Roar of Wind and War
1120 words

Ruby was in Mexico when the war started, trying, ironically, to reconcile a conflict there. At the time, it had seemed an intractable problem. A week later, an irrelevant one.

In truth, the Second Civil War had started decades ago, even as people had been confidently declaring that ‘it can’t happen here.’ Small militias had been fighting government forces all across the States, and there had been martial law in plenty of cities. The escalation was both unthinkable and inevitable. Ruby didn’t know what had triggered it. All the news was censored anyways, so even if the net and channels hadn’t gone down, it might not have mattered.

Ruby knew she couldn’t get near the border by land, so she didn’t even try. She found a fisherman crazy enough to accept dollars for passage, and stupid enough to think the currency still had worth. They started across the Gulf that morning.

“All the other Americans are trying to get out. You’re trying to get back in. Why?”

She had her eyes on the horizon, watching the storm clouds that had built up east. “I gotta get my kid.”

The fisherman shrugged.

***

If she’d been able to get on the net, Ruby would have known about Hurricane Fiona, but the States and Mexico didn’t get the warning. The meteorological agencies—those that were left—just couldn’t get the message out. Fiona was one of those new Category 6 storms, the kind that, in the past, had led to the last few regions of Florida that weren’t underwater being evacuated. This one roared through Louisiana like the hand of God, pulling apart cliff sides and tearing up entire hills. The fishing boat ended up stranded on land about five miles inland, which was for the best. The coastline behind them was full of dune-drowned houses, and the swamps had been turned into temporary inland seas, with floating growths of toxic red algae.

She started walking north on the washed out roads, climbing over fallen trees. From a hill, she could see a supertanker that had broken in two on a distant cliff. The distant rumbling could have been guns or thunder.

***

A week later, when she could feel the rocks poking through the soles of her boots, she met a fellow traveler on the road.

“Don’t go north,” he said, shaking his head, eyes wide. “They’re killing folks like us. Some of those militias, they don’t bother to ask what side you’re on. They just see your skin color and they shoot.”

She went north.

She moved at night, ducking her head through dust-coated fields of withered corn and cracked soil. She stole shoes off a dead woman, and they almost fit. She never saw the people who shot at her, but she hid for a day in a burnt-out husk of a farmhouse, and the men with guns moved on, kicking up dust as their pickups with mounted turrets growled away. She ran out of water, and the sky was empty.

That night, she was able to hotwire a car and made it to a river. She practically inhaled the muddy brown liquid. The GPS in the car wasn’t working properly—of course—but a few old towers were. The program was clever enough to get an approximate location. Then it was north again.

***

She dodged two checkpoints by driving through fields, then abandoned the car a few miles out of Chicago. She slept through the day. When she woke, she was looking up at the stars, and in the distance she heard the music of mortars and artillery, a distant echoing drumbeat. Ruby closed her eyes, breathed in deep, and whispered a prayer.

Chicago was a bombed out mess of rubble by then, but the city was in her deeper than bone marrow. The city lights had long since died, but the stars were bright in her eyes. She crept from the shells and concrete piles like a cockroach, and when a firefight erupted around her, she crawled. The rest of the night, the air cracked with rifles, and she felt the tremor of grenades and bombs shaking through the dirt. As she was scraping herself through an overgrown front lawn, a stray grenade landed nearby. Her ears wouldn’t stop ringing after that, and her right ear had a slow trickle of blood. Ruby kept crawling.

Then, her home was in sight. Her apartment was there, the building more swiss-cheese in some places than structure, but still standing. Then she heard the rumble of guns, and saw the apartment engulfed in a cloud of ash and smoke. As it cleared, she could see the devastation.

Ruby gaped at the collapsed floors and blown out walls, and for the first time in a long time, she cried. Her body shook with the tears, then she slowed her breathing, dried her eyes, and crawled on.

She heard bullets hitting the rubble around her, saw tracers flash by like streams of comets. The mortars pounded on, and another shell hit the apartment. She crawled on. Her skin was scraped raw by the shards of concrete and the shattered asphalt, and her elbows were bleeding, but Ruby kept moving, until she came to her broken home.

Just as the light of dawn was creeping across the sky, she made it inside.

Ruby found her wife coated in pale plaster ash, slouched in a corner. Olivia looked up, and burst into tears. “I knew you’d come,” she said. Then she was sobbing again. “He’s dead. Our boy’s dead. They told us to stay, told us we’d be safe if we stayed. He died a week ago. There was nothing I could do.”

Ruby came and sat with her, blood mixing with the plaster dust and they clutched each other.

“We have to leave,” Ruby said at last.

Olivia shook her head, whether from despair or disagreement, Ruby wasn’t sure, so she stood and held out her hand. Olivia looked at it, then back down at the ground and shook her head again.

“I loved our boy more than anything in the world, and nothing will replace him. But I want to love something that much again. Together. With you.”

Olivia looked up again, little streaks down her cheeks. Then she clasped her hand.

***

It took three days for them to make it out of the city. They could still hear the sound of shells exploding, hear the echoes of distant guns. Then, on the seventh day, Ruby woke with a start and looked around. At first, she thought something was wrong, but then she realized: There was silence around her, not even the stir of the wind. It was a quiet, if not a peace.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007

Like most things, I am nothing


Love Me Back
1200 words


As Declan approached Los Brillantes Tritones (the finest bar in Ensenada, Mexico, at least as according to he and Bodhi), the sound of a classical guitar radiated out into the night. Francisco’s voice followed the guitar. Declan smiled, and remembered that Francisco owed him a beer from last time. Francisco was good, but had a penchant for accidentally changing key on the fly—even with a wager on the line. The horizon over the ocean was cut in half: below, a rich vermilion sunset, above, the leading edge of an oncoming storm.

Bodhi was sitting at a table in the corner of the restaurant, two beers and a laptop in front of him. Declan nodded to Francisco, then walked over, grabbed one of beers, and plopped down next to Bodhi. “Rosa hooked us up. They just finished a new hut, out on the end of the beach. She saved it for us. We can walk right out into the surf from our front door.”

“Right on,” Bodhi said, and raised his bottle. His eyes stayed fix on the screen in front of him.

“Francisco’s rippin’ it tonight. Must not have used up his free tequila yet,” Declan said. Bodhi didn’t reply. Declan canted his head to the side and watched his friend through squinted eyes. “Anyway, storm looks to be comin’ in, so we’ll have to hole up for a day or so, but the surf should be pretty gnarly by midweek.”

“We’ve gotta go to LA.” Bodhi looked up from his screen for the first time, his face dead neutral.

“OK…?” Declan shrugged. Bodhi’s face didn’t change. “Sure, when we get back, we can drive up there.”

“No, I mean now. It’s my sister. Her boyfriend Chad—“ Bodhi snarled. “My sis just emailed me. We’ve gotta go ASAP. It’ll only take a few days. Sail up, chase off Chad, we’ll come back down.”

“What? No way. We just got here. We took the whole month off. We’re headed south from here, not north. Puerto Escondido awaits. Your sister can take care of herself.”

Bodhi shook his head. “No way, man. It’s my sister. Family comes first.”

“Look, yeah, gently caress Chad.” Declan threw his hands up and nodded. “But Josie… I love your sister as much as anybody, but she can be a real bitch.”

Bodhi’s eyes narrowed. “Watch your goddamned mouth, Deck. Just because she turned you down doesn’t mean you get to talk about her like that.”

“Oh, come on. That’s not fair.” Declan looked away. Declan wanted to bring up the other times that Josie had used Bodhi, that she’d abused their relationship, made a mockery of the word family. Francisco crooned from the stage in the corner: Cruzare los montes/ los ríos, los valles/ por irte a encontrar. He had remained on key, so far tonight. Declan turned back to Bodhi. “Look, we’ve got to wait the storm out anyway, so let’s stay, surf the storm waves, then we can head back up.”

“If we leave tonight, we can beat the storm.”

Declan’s eyes popped. “Holy poo poo, man. You know I’ve got your back, but that’s crazy.” Declan stared at Bodhi. Bodhi didn’t flinch. “poo poo, you’re serious, huh? Alright. Pay for the beers. I’ll meet you at the boat.”

~~~~~~

The last vestiges of the sunset hung above the horizon. Bodhi stood at the helm, and Declan raced around the deck adjusting ropes. The continually rising wind blasted them from the southwest, tilting the aptly Full Tilt Boogie ominously onto its starboard side, but pushing the boat invariably forward.

“We can’t stay out in this, man!” Declan shouted into the wind. Bodhi’s eyes stayed forward; he hadn’t heard him. Declan untied a line, moved the boom a foot to port, then secured it again. He turned back to his friend. “Bodhi!” The howling wind drowned his cries, though, and Bodhi stayed fixed on the course. The first droplets of rain began to spatter against the deck. Declan raced back to the helm.

“We’ve gotta reduce mainsail, Bodhi!” Declan said once he stood next to his friend. “The boat can’t take it!” Behind them, the sky was completely dark, as the storm engulfed the sky. There was a full moon, but it was completely invisible. Bodhi didn’t respond at first, but nodded tersely after a few seconds.

Declan wasted no time. He leaped up to the base of the mast and began working the lines. The wind whipped them taut, then loose, then taut as he worked to shorten the sail.

A sudden gust ripped the line from his hand. The loose end flailed around like a downed power line, and just as dangerous. Declan leaped to the base of the line and grabbed the slippery rope; the tail snapped against his side. “gently caress!” He held on, though, and secured the line.

A series of thunderclaps ripped through the sky. A few seconds later, another boom followed—directly above them, high in the mainmast. Declan whipped his eyes up. That was the kind of thundercrack you might not survive.

Declan prayed for the first time in his life.

~~~~~~

Declan gripped the wheel with one hand, His rib with the other. Next to him, Bodhi held his phone to his ear. They’d arrived 12 hours after they’d planned. The boat had taken on several inches of water as the storm chased them, and the wind had wreaked havoc on their navigation, even as they were under power. Even still, they had survived. Neither of them had slept.

“poo poo, no answer,” Bodhi said. He looked at his phone, as if the screen held some answer as to why his sister wasn’t picking up her phone. “Just drive to her place. She’ll be home.”

They arrived at Bodhi’s sister’s house after about 20 minutes. Bodhi jumped out of the car and jogged to the door. He knocked heavily. Declan walked up behind him. Nobody answered after a minute. Bodhi rang the doorbell a few times. Another minute. He knocked again.

Then, a muffled voice yelled out behind the door. The lock turned, and the door swung open. Josie stood there in a bathrobe.

“Bodhi?” Her eyes went wide. Her hair was clumped together, and her cheeks sunk into her face. “Hey, wasn’t expecting you.”

“What do you mean?” Bodhi looked past Josie. “I got your email. Where’s that’s dickhead Chad?”

“My email…?” Josie’s eyes unfocused for a few seconds, then refocused on Bodhi’s face. “Oh, right! Don’t worry about that guy. He skipped town yesterday.” She wrapped the robe tighter around her. “But… Can I borrow a grand?”

Bodhi’s eyes snapped to his sister’s. “What do you mean…” His sister tilted her face down, looking up at him like a puppydog—a sick puppydog. “gently caress, I should have known.” He turned and walked back toward the car.

Declan stared at Josie. She gave him the same puppydog look. “How about you, big guy?” she said, a slight grin showing on her gaunt face.

Declan flipped her off and followed Bodhi. He threw his arm around his friend’s shoulder and grimaced as his side howled in pain. He stifled a moan. “Come on, let’s go fix the boat.”

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

:siren: Submissions for Week CCXLIII: We Are the Heroes of Our Time are now CLOSED! :siren:

A whole mess of you have brought shame upon your adopted nations and yourselves by failing to show for the grand final. flerp, crabrock, sebmojo, Mrenda--did you have a wardrobe malfunction or what? Did you seriously think the Eurovision audience would care? You could have draped yourselves in strategic LEDs, jeeze. I'll crit your entries regardless if you post them within the next twenty-four hours.

sparksbloom and SkaAndScreenplays, you especially disappoint me and face banishment from the EBC Something Awful for your unpaid debts. You have two hours to submit before I call the toxxes in. Use them well.

Everyone else, thank you! The jury will meet soon to decide your standings.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

P.S.

sebmojo posted:

and since i failed as well, here's a :toxx: to crit every story in each week that I fail in

I trust your honor to hold you to this, O modded one.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Kaishai posted:

P.S.


I trust your honor to hold you to this, O modded one.

Clintnod, will do them by signup deadline next week. Toxxes loaded. Lowtax will feast well this night.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.



I feel like no one yet has mentioned what kind of judging is good judging.

(It's fast judging, btw)

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!







Chairchucker posted:

I feel like no one yet has mentioned what kind of judging is good judging.

(It's fast judging, btw)

*looks at clipboard* hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

yeah

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



All I Want At My Age Is A Place To Sit
Words 1,182

You sit down with your toast in the seat looking out over the river. Buttered and cut into quarters. The same brand of butter and bread you’ve bought for a decade. Through the window you see a policeman patrol past the bench by the river. They sit there and drink, the local alcoholics. They’re not noisy. You can’t hear them despite it being only a stone’s throw away but they are off putting. Later in the day once they’ve woken they’ll all join up there. Filthy men, drunk and wasting their afternoon with cheap cans and bawdy humour. The police must see fit to deal with the area now that you’ve written letters to the local councillors. The ambitious young politician with a sure future wrote you back to let you know how scenic he thinks the area, and how no-one should be allowed scare people off by drinking illegally in public.

Marianne and Theresa have cancelled on you. Well, not cancelled, they’ve decided to go to the beach for the day. They wanted a change from coffee and knitting. A day at the beach sounds like hell. Not that the beach is bad, rather being stuck with them for an hour each way on the bus is. They’re just replacing their coffee and yarn for sand, ice-creams and yarn. You don’t knit. Never saw the point and they don’t understand why you paint. Knitting is for grandchildren who need clothes and a little baby blue cardigan is always welcomed by busy, cash-strapped daughters but you have neither children nor grandchildren. Their knitting is about function and occupation. Your painting is about relating with your surroundings.

You look down at the bench by the river again and a policewoman is walking past. The local winos may have gotten the message. They shouldn’t be allowed monopolise that bench. Everyone is afraid to sit there lest they be bothered by a red nosed, staggerer with beer breath.

Your easel and paints are in the corner. You’ve thought of painting from that bench since the Spring bloomed, and every spring since you’ve retired from the bank. Now the police have taken some action you feel it’s time for you to play your part. You place a new canvas and your easel under your arm and put your paints in a tote bag. It feels like your body is rattling, but deciding to set out to that bench has you feeling more exhilarated than you’ve been in years. They can’t have it all to themselves. No one should own that river view.

***

Your painting is coming along. The pencil outline is all laid out and you’ve given the canvas a wash for the blue sky and the clear river water reflecting it. A man sits next to you and you see he’s set a bag filled with beer cans in front of him. Ignoring him you dab some of the blue into the silver paint for where the sunlight catches on the ripples of the water. There’s only one of him, and you’re entitled to this space as much as he is. You’re sure someone from the police will be along soon. An officer has passed three times since you sat here.

You hear the metallic grating of a can opening, and he quickly gulps at it. There’s plenty of other places they can drink. They do drink plenty of other places but once it passes noon it’s almost inevitable that a small group ends up here.

“That’s beautiful,” he says.

“Thank you,” you say. He’s already draining his first beer.

“No, really,” he says. “I did art for six years in school. What you’re doing takes talent.”

“I’ve been painting since I was twenty seven.” You remember the Spring day you walked into the art supply store. You had rented a caravan by the sea for a week. The postcards from that village were beautiful, and you knew you’d want some way to remember your trip there. Years of saving at your lowly bank job meant you were able to afford the holiday. Painting the view was a way to remember it in a manner personal to you. Just holding those cheap paints, which were all you could afford helped you hold onto the memory of those peaceful evenings in the warm sunset.

Painting stuck with you. You survived on watery soups. You couldn’t afford extravagant meals with the price of your art supplies. But but no-one could ask anything of you when you were painting. It was just you and the soft roar of waves receding from a shore you were recording, the fulsome scents of soft blooms in the park, or the hug of warm air on a sun-soaked riverbank.

“This spot deserves to be painted,” he says. “It’s why we drink here. Anyone from the shelter.”

“I’ve noticed,” you say. His skin is flaking, and raw.

“It’s a bit of normality, you know,” he says. “Something this nice right in the middle of the city. We’re all lucky to have it.”

“More people should take notice of it,” you say.

“You did,” he says. “I hope we don’t scare you off. I’d tell the lads someone was painting here, but they wouldn’t get the same buzz off it as me.”

“There’s an exhibition in the City Gallery,” you say. “Local painters through the last two hundred years.”

“I had one of my drawings in there, with a charity” he says. “It felt good, you know. To be valued like that. To show people what I saw. It wasn’t a great picture. Not as good as yours, but it was something.”

“Do you paint?” you ask.

“No. Just drawing, doodling. It’s easy to get a bit of paper and a pencil, and scratch something out.” He laughs. The way the sun is falling on his smile you realise he’s a lot younger than his weather blasted skin shows: mid-twenties at best. He finishes off his second beer and hefts another can in his hand before putting it back in the bag. “I’m off,” he says. “Enjoy the rest of your day. It’s good to see someone enjoying this spot, and painting it.” His warm eyes contrast his worn skin. Their blue glint is young and bright.

“What’s you’re name,” you ask. You offer your hand forward. “I’m Jessica.”

He takes your hand gently. “Darren,” he says.

“I have some spare paints and a few canvases,” you say. “I can drop them into the shelter, the one just across the bridge? If you want.”

“I might come here and paint the river,” he says. He laughs and his face opens up big and wide. “If I could find a bit of peace.”

“You should,” you say. “It’s a spot that deserves some love.”

“And you can drink the cans instead of me.” He chokes a little on his laugh and you can’t help but smile. You’ve never allowed yourself one before, but you have a bottle of wine chilling in the fridge. An afternoon glass of wine feels right, once you’ve finished your painting.

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flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!







:toxx: will post eurovision redemption by 11:59 pm pst on sunday 4/9 will include mermen obv :toxx:

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