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

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
«118 »
  • Post
  • Reply
dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

I'll post crits of all stories by entry deadline this week or give myself a gigantically retarded av.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

archives

dreadmojo fucked around with this message at Jan 8, 2018 around 21:26

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


sebmojo posted:

I'll post crits of all stories by entry deadline this week or give myself a gigantically retarded av.

so itll be a selfie?

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

flerp posted:

so itll be a selfie?

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Week 248 Results
All stories were read in Judgemode.

Dishonorable Mentions:
  • 10^123 or The List of Undecidable Problems by The Cut of Your Jib - Nothing actually happened in this story, and it just felt like some half-baked philosophical musings tangentially related to some science articles.
  • In the Marshes of Lerna a Young Man Drowns by Jay W. Friks - A rambling story that went all over the place. It had weird stuff, a bad James Bond plot, nonsensical action and characters, and poor prose.

Honorable Mentions:
  • SUBJECT TM-35-USA by Fleta Mcgurn - This story tried to do some interesting things. It suffered from the "major history thing is actually influenced by aliens!" crap that is overdone and pretty lame. Other than that, it had some philosophical commentary and a decent enough plot arc along its ideas that we felt it needed a nod.
  • Makes You Think: An Oral History by SaddestRhino - This one handled the prompt well, and took a risk with the oral-history style. It had some cliches, and I didn't feel like it stuck the ending. But the story hooked me for a good chunk, so it was interesting and well done there.

Loss - Murder on the Ockient Express by ThirdEmperor - This was not much of a story. It started confusing, had a plot so unengaging even one of the main characters wasn't interested in it, and did not explore the prompt in any meaningful way. It ended with a lazy TD reference that didn't even manage to be funny.

And the winner is...
Win - Fragile Creatures by Thranguy - I swear I didn't know it was him! This story intertwined noir and sci-fi well, and dealt with racism and classism in a way that wasn't over the top. The characters had personality and their own motivations. The thematic strengths, strong voice, and well established setting also engaged well with the prompt. Both the story and ideas were engaging. That said, we thought the ending needs a bit of work, but there's no doubt in my mind this was the strongest story this week. Thranguy is back on the blood throne! Congrats.

The middle was mostly a mush of mediocre stuff, or stories that had potential but really didn't reach it. I'll be critting all stories, including the above, in more depth in a separate post.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

Thunderdome Week CCXLIX:Thunderdomers Assemble!

This week, I want to see some stories set in a superhero universe.

You don't need to write stories of superheroic action. You can, but almost any kind of stories should work. Still, it should matter to the story that they're in a world where that sort of thing happens. And speaking of worlds, since superhero universes are usually shared between a wide array of creators, this is a collaboration week, in the style of Voidmart and Domegrassi of 'dome history. Share characters, locations, backstory, and so on, in small or large groups. It's allowed, and even encouraged: people who join in the collaboration side get 500 extra words to play with. Hop on IRC and I’m sure someone will set up a secret channel for you to work out the shared details. ( Edit: I'm told things might be happening in #notallhumans )I’m hoping lots of people join in this week, lots of people participate in the collaboration, and lots of people just have some fun writing. Stories with energy and joy in them will probably go over better than dark and brooding ones, but follow your own muses.

I'll be giving classic golden/silver/bronze/chrome age comic book covers as flash rules on request, each of which comes with 100 extra words Don't use the fictional characters on those covers, even with the serial numbers filed off. Just let the situation depicted inspire your story. If you want, you can specify a publication date for your cover

No Fanfic, Erotica, Politcal Rants, Poetry. Also, No Origin Stories. If you feel the need to tell who a superperson is and how they came to be, it had better take up less than 5% of your story.

Word count: 1100 (plus extras)

Signups due Friday 11:59 Pacific Time

Submissions due Sunday 11:59 Pacific Time

SuperJudges:
Thranguy
Uranium Phoenix


SuperEntrants:
Djeser
Fleta Mcgurn
flerp (toxxed)
Mercedes
Jay W. Friks
Hawklad
QuoProQuid
Bad Seafood
Solitair
The Saddest Rhino
Deltasquid
ThirdEmperor
The Cut of Your Jib
Tyransosaurus

Thranguy fucked around with this message at May 13, 2017 around 05:00

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



In to show Batman who's who when it comes to boners.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



And gimme a cover, why not

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Who has two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn't cried once today? This moi!



In; and please flash me.

If anyone is temporally close to Beijing, I'd be down to collaborate. PM me!

e: found a homie. Other homies welcome if they want.

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at May 9, 2017 around 09:39

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


in

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007

DOUBLE BEEF ACTION

sebmojo posted:

SH vs Ska brawl

Food Fight
~1250ish words idk

Assuming this is Sitting Here's story. Late, of course. You lose a letter grade automatically.

SkaAndScreenplays, I'm extending your deadline. You have an extra day, since I won't judge them until noon tomorrow anyway. Also you don't get to back out of this. Write me a drat story.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

Djeser posted:

And gimme a cover, why not

https://www.comics.org/issue/17124/cover/4/ (Aquaman #5)


Fleta Mcgurn posted:

In; and please flash me.


https://www.comics.org/issue/48658/cover/4/ (Power Pack #60)

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


Why not. I'm in.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

In

I'd like to collab too. I live in a pacific time zone for those looking for people with similar bedtimes.

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

In. I'll check out the IRC to see about the collab action. Flash me!

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Crits for Week 244 Part 2:

See my old disclosure: "'Run-N-Gun’s' are stuff I’m saying as I’m reading your story for the first second time. 'Overall' is my reaction afterward. Please come and chat with me on IRC about your story if you’d like me to expand. I’m always happy to talk shop or to, at least, try and unpack my dribblycrits. I tend to address the big picture stuff as my grammar skillz and syntax whatevers aren’t quite as good as either of my esteemed cojudges. Figure you can definitely get better info from them on that. "

Future Not Included

Run-N-Gun: Your hook is too verbose. Muggy next to ugly doesn’t sound nice. There are quite a few messyish sentences that either don’t flow nicely or confuse meaning altogether, here’s an example: “Cherry red, with gloss finish, was in this year, said 'Yes!' to a lifestyle of 'I deserve this.'”

Put spaces between your graphs, this just looks like a dump of text. Makes it intimidating to read.

Lot of proofing quibbles: “"I talked the broadcasters again and they say they don't have to cancel the contract. Did you call them?"”

Good Sentence: “The part of his brain that wasn't particularly impressed, maybe the part he'd shoved full of metal to play his games, also thought he was a baby. “

Overall: What really happened in this story? We see little vignettes and snapshots but I’m struggling to see how they come together in a way that shows any movement or purpose. This didn’t succeed for a few reasons that, on their own wouldn’t be an issue but when put together create kind of a mess. 1) On-the-nose handling of the symptom. This felt first like a story about PTSD and not a person who has it. 2)The sentences are oftentimes confusing, sometimes done for effect, but more often than not it doesn’t feel like it was done purposefully. Based on somewhat frequent presence of proofing errors and how the words don’t sing, I have to doubt that this was read out loud. Do that. 3) Line breaks. I know it’s stupid and simple and shouldn’t impact how your words are read but just looking at a story like this makes me groan. That’s not how you want to start things off with your audience. At that point, I’m looking for reasons why your story is bad, instead of rooting for you. 4) So what happened? He ultimately shifted his PTSD to the virtual world? That’s not really a thing? I don’t know, even if it were I don’t really like the ending or see why it matters all that much.

The Unsolvable Problem

Run-N-Gun: I didn’t have much to say through reading this. The prose is fine, it kept my interest well enough. Let’s just cut to the…

Overall: This was fine. Just fine. That’s not something I have ever said about a Thranguy story before. I generally really dig your stuff but I’ve also seen you take huge swings that don’t land for me. This felt safe and largely without much in the way of thrust. I didn’t see the diagnosis much at all in your protag, neither did my co-judges for that matter. But that’s not a huge knock against you as mostly, I just wanted good stories. Solitair said you nailed the culture here, and I suppose I can buy that but I’m not sure why this is a story that needed to be told. You got off to a good start with your hook but then things kinda fall flat as we watch someone engage a retrospective on a person who he doesn’t really seem to give too much of a poo poo about.

Patterns

Run-N-Gun - Pretty, good images, doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, let’s move on.

Overall: Was glad to see that this was a short entry given the diagnosis. I was worried about this story being a gigantic trip-fest.Glad you didn’t go that direction. Instead, we got a story with some playful, out there images that mostly work. This was, at least I think, an intentional slice-of-nothing story. Not much happens and that seems to be the point. But, we get stuck with a drifting protag who’s down on his luck and some other dude helps him. Not much in the way of a gripping story.

Broken Wires, Broken Minds
Run-N-Gun: Straight from the title, this is on-the-nose as hell. The story puts the thoughts and feelings right at the forefront and statements like this : “I tried to focus on the sounds of my squad mates, but I could feel the pull of the future upon me. I could hear myself think again, and I was afraid.” Are entirely too telly. A lot of this feels too objective: “Then something dark dropped down behind her and grabbed her with mechanical arms that groaned with the sound of tormented metal long overdue repair. It gibbered at us, spouting nonsensical words as it tried to wring the life out of Estrada. I shrunk away, but she was still close enough to grab the end of the rifle and pull it up beside her. I closed my eyes and fired, the shots ringing in my ears as I emptied the magazine into the thing.” This is a ton of poo poo and we don’t see much in the way of human reaction here.

Overall: OK, so it’s a decentish wartime snapshot. The characters are largely believable but there’s a lot of telling going. Feelings are stated instead of relayed. Check out Mrenda’s story for a decent display of how troublesome thoughts/feelings can be shown instead of stated. If you did a little more of that, you might have had something pretty special because the context of the story is a good one.

Messiah’s Redoubt

Run-N-Gun: Not much to say here, apart from “I read this quickly and enjoyed it”. I didn’t even notice the shift from 3rd to 1st person when I first read this which speaks to how cleanly the story was told.

Overall: Nothing makes me happier than a story like this. I love how we meet two characters separately and get to see them come together in a sensible believable way. Right from the jump these characters are developed, fleshed out, and realized. Had I not know their diagnoses, I may not have been able to guess them, but if I were told what they were I could totally see it fit. That’s probably the major success of the story; the diagnoses aren’t front and center but provide color to your characters and makes them more interesting.

These two character could absolutely have fallen in love, or spent a lot more time together, but I dig the Roman Holiday approach and its done nearly enough in the dome. This story is all there is for these two, and that’s enough. Because really, there are many more minor characters in our lives than major ones and those relationships are 100% fascinating to me. Maybe a “ships passing the night” prompt would be cool for thunderdome.


Pin Ballers

Run-N-Gun: I want so badly to like this hook. The problem is, the speaker kinda seems in on the joke. I’m not sure if it’s the ending with “my friend” or if it’s all just a little too much but it seems like it’s done with a wink. The rest of this is silly, but you know that. Let’s just get to the overall.

Overall: You’re smarter than me, so maybe something more is going on here, but christ if I know what it is. This just felt like crazy over the top stuff for its own sake. That could be fine, I suppose but I’m looking for some more meat on the bone here. I kinda like the ending where not as much stuff is happening, but I’m not sure what’s motivating either of these characters to want to stay or go.



Stay tuned for part 3 later tonight.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

And here's part 3.

dodged

Well Then

Run-N-Gun: At the risk of being pedantic I’m gonna hate a little on your title. This doesn’t feel purposeful. It feels like you wrote a story and slapped a title on. That’s a problem. This wasn’t a chore to read or anything so I don’t have much in the way of shotgun commentary.

Overall: Low stakes and limited perspective prevented this story from being engaging. I didn’t care about their concert for some reason or another, convincing me to care about a band that I’m just meeting for the first time is a tall ask.On the other hand, this story was one of the stronger entries as far as characterization goes. Very nice job with both diagnoses and using a light hand.

The Life, Times, and Comeback of Dana Han

Run-N-Gun: You spent 600 words on your intro before the story proper begins. I’m wondering why we need it at all let alone something that takes this long. I’m going to try and go through this story now imagining that the whole intro bit is cut.

Also, it’s really weird that you set up this platform for Dana to tell her story and then it’s told outside of her perspective. Now there’s really no reason for the intro. Watch what happens when you go from this: “Dana cringed back against the wall, but knowing about the coming slap didn't stop it from hurting.” to “I cringed back against the wall, but knowing about the coming slap didn't stop it from hurting.” Immediately following that intro, this is significantly more powerful.

But now I’m getting away from my promise to try and read this forgetting about the intro so nevermind.

Forgetting all of that, because we aren’t in her head we have to take a lot for granted and much of what Dana experiences is told to us. Again watch what happens when this “She was too young to fully grasp the situation, but even as a child of six Dana felt that her mother did not love her.” Goes to this “I was too young to grasp the situation, but even as a child of six, I knew mother did not love me.” If we’re talking about feelings and emotions why not get up close with it?

The beats in your story are not connected and are breaking the “but/so/therefore role” a lot of “and then this happened, and then this happened” not great storytelling wise.

Overall: So yeah, the two big crimes here are the intro which I still can’t see the reason for and the POV. It’s a preference thing I know but I can’t see this story going anywhere but up if Dana is the one telling it. The ending is kinda nice and I guess it shows growth on her part, but I’d rather just get to the guts even if it meant losing some of that.
Fire Season

Run-N-Gun: I said this story was slick in my results post and that’s largely how it succeeds. Reading through it again I’m reminded of good economy in your storytelling. The way we find out what your character looks like by commenting that “There must not be much about a skinny woman in a baseball cap that makes him nervous, since he opens the door and climbs inside with a relieved grin.” We know what that looks like and it tells us about her. The story is loaded with things like that, sentences that accomplish multiple tasks.

Overall: Little over the top, but you probably knew that much. What’s most important, though, is that as I’ve been rereading these stories and offering crits, this was one that I recalled immediately. All of the details, plot points, everything. It had staying power and that’s largely due to not wasting and landing your punches things like this: “So I crawled inside, and I curled up on the logs and the ashes, and I let the fire hold me.” wedge into my brain and hang out there for a bit.

The ending is cool too. It gives us direction and idea and allows us to imagine what happens next. Well done.

Floodgates

Run-N-Gun- So the opening rant is… fine? I get it, he’s frenetic and manic and all that jazz. It goes on for a bit long and starts to lose its power about halfway thru. It’s a good touch that Jacob puts the phone down and walks away, but why didn’t he do it sooner? If he doesn’t care about what his dad is saying, why should we?

As soon as Jacob wanders out and goes through making introductions with a person who suddenly gets more attention than he does, I start to get lost and not really understand what’s going on. She just starts talking about all of her stuff and I’m wondering who’s story this is.

Overall: Not entirely sure what your goal was with this story. I don’t know what you were trying to tell the reader. Stuff just kinda happens and I may be missing how it’s all connected, but gently caress if I can see much.

Spit

Run-N-Gun - Not huge on the into and the directness of it all but you transition it nicely into your story. The strength of your story is in that first bit, you do the school stuff well. The reunion phase is good in a way too and I’m glad you didn’t go over-the-top wish fulfillment with it but found a nice conclusion.


Overall: Of all of the stories that went too close to the sun and put the diagnosis first, this one went the hardest on it. The guy spends a good chunk of the story just directly talking about stuttering and what to do about it. And you know, I’m fairly certain you’re not a stutterer because this just didn’t feel genuine. It felt like an author’s guess at what the small quirks and traits of stuttering may yield. Stephen King says that good writing tells the truth. Since you’re not a stutterer yourself, your character could’ve benefited from depth outside of the diagnosis that you could attach to a little bit.

Hook, Line, and Sinker

Run-N-Gun : No.

Overall: This was my pick for the loss. This story felt like a deliberate waste of my time and had phone-it-in goo all over it. I don’t understand what this person is doing or why. The handling of the diagnosis is just a god drat mess. We watch a person flit about a mall getting their jollies off, crossing all kinds of boundaries and learning nothing about this person at all, why they’re doing it, or who they are.

And in the end someone pickpockets her. HOW POETIC.

Mental Illness in a World of Magic

Run-N-Gun: I said you submitted a pile of words and that’s what you did. This is poorly formatted. You weren’t alone in submitting a story like that, but it doesn’t make it any better.

Overall: You know, you may actually tie with Jib with the directness of your story addressing the diagnosis. You took the obvious route of setting your story in a psychiatric hospital and it didn’t help you. We end up with people just kinda talking about things and nothing much happens. I know you’re not generally supposed to respond to crits, but go ahead and respond to this if you’d like. What were you trying to accomplish with this story? What were the beats? What actually happened?

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

Hawklad posted:

In. I'll check out the IRC to see about the collab action. Flash me!

https://www.comics.org/issue/35314/cover/4/ (Legion of Super-Heroes #275(

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


i've never seen a comic book irl and have no great love of the genre, so of course i am in

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


In, open to collaboration.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


Bad Seafood posted:

In, open to collaboration.

Oh?

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007

DOUBLE BEEF ACTION

SH vs SKA Brawl: JUDGMENT

Wow who could have seen this coming Ska failing to submit

just kidding I could see it from space.



Sitting Here wins, by forfeit. SkaAndScreenplays gets banned. Again? I declare that I personally will not accept a submission from Ska unless he permatoxxes. I'd brawl you over this, but we all know you won't submit


I will deliver a good-natured crit that's not too serious to Sitting Here by submission deadline this week.

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014


IN. Gimme a cover, and I'm open to collaboration.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

Solitair posted:

IN. Gimme a cover, and I'm open to collaboration.

https://www.comics.org/issue/8268/cover/4/ (Plastic Man [Quality] #23)

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014


Fast[?] Critting, Good[?] Critting
Week #244: Unspecified Word Disorder (Part 2)


“Messiah’s Redoubt” by Sitting Here

I got excited when I saw that the prompt left an option to use multiple disorders by means of different characters bumping into each other. That would add more dimensions to the story by default, even if it makes things harder for the writer to conceive. So I’m both disappointed that nobody else tried that option this week, and not surprised that this story won as a result. It’s fun, it’s smooth, and the characters, while simple, feel like real examples of people with their disorders, especially Rabbit. It’s the interaction between the two of them, and the explanation for why such an interaction has to remain brief, that makes the story interesting. A good choice for the winner.

“Pinballers” by Ironic Twist

This story is hella obnoxious at the start, but it serves a purpose in setting up a tonal shift down the line that makes the story end on a better note than it started on. These three men are wearing equipment that protects them when they bounce off walls and they get paid to wreck rooms for a living. On its own, that’s dumb and I didn’t get the point of it in-universe, not helped by the tryhard way the narrator spells his friends’ names. My best guess is that it’s some sort of game show, though how their boss keeps track of their progress is never mentioned. The reveal that they’re actually wrecking real people’s apartments, and that cHryss (lol) wrecked the resident as well changed the context to make it an exploitative capitalist nightmare, which is driven home by Matt’s (How would you spell that name in a hip and edgy way?) memory at the end. This culture is stupid, and the story knows it, so I like this story. On the grammatical side, be sure to check and make sure that you have a space after every period.

“Well Then” by sparksbloom

quote:

Where are you? I texted her. I got up from the green room and went outside to get some fresh air, or, well, as fresh as Philly air gets, anyway.

quote:

Well, poo poo. How was I supposed to track her down with an hour to go before the show? I tried calling her directly, but she just ignored my calls. I thought about calling her mom -- the only person Katrina’d always listen to, without question -- but it was too late, and besides, some trump cards are never meant to be played. She hadn’t checked in on social media accounts, either. That was how I tracked her down when I couldn’t find her in Minneapolis. She’d gone to some hip-as-gently caress record store in the other half of the city, and I only caught up to her because she was Unnecessary return
all caught up in conversation with some scared looking nineteen year old. “I played First Avenue last night,” I heard her tell the kid twice. “If you ever need a connection in the industry…”

The go-nowhere, insular reminiscing of the narration is somewhat frustrating, especially considering that the story ends with nothing having essentially changed, a moment of deliberate disappointment. I appreciate how subtly the gender stuff was handled, leaving the lion’s share of wordcount to demonstrate a disorder that gets relatively little attention. The narrator’s dilemma is relatable to people with judgmental mindspaces, and it’s left to the reader’s attitude to decide who’s right or wrong here. Cop-out or ambiguity? You decide!

That said, boy are those big blocks of text intimidating. Maybe break them up a bit more? Also, I’m only barely interested in the characters beyond the question of whether it’s right to be so judgmental, and the shithead joke is pushing it.

“The Life, Times, and Comeback of Dana Han” by Radical and BADical!

I’m not feeling this one. You’re trying to cover a very broad life full of incident in a small allotted wordcount, and it just makes the whole story feel shallow. Dana’s mother is a cartoon villain, and her menacing presence over Dana’s life isn’t given the time or nuance to be fully convincing. I’m willing to buy into the idea that other people in authority are willing to look the other way with her abusive behavior as long as you give a half-decent reason why, which you didn’t do. You also establish Dana’s inability to speak in her mother’s conservatory too late for her miraculous ability to do so in the present day to have any emotional weight. I can’t recommend this one at all.

“Fire Season” by Kaishai

I particularly like these lines:

quote:

The battered Jeep on the side of the highway has its hood popped up to display its failings to the world.

quote:

The polish on the last line tells me I'm not the first to hear this tale.

The prose in this story is more assured and exact than in many of the stories I read this week. I probably didn’t vote to give it an HM because the basic flow of the story (explaining the source of the narrator’s disorder and having him find a way to make good use of it) is fairly typical of this week. That said, I can’t argue with this award. The story’s a pretty solid mood piece.

“Floodgates” by Uranium Phoenix

Right off the bat we have a huge block of speech text from one person that’s a chore to read and makes our only exposure to the narrator’s father completely unpleasant. The only reason a reader might have for agreeing that he shouldn’t say anything is the cultural, out-of-context understanding that suicide is bad. It’s not because I actually like the father that I want him to stay alive. Moreover, the narrator just happening to meet someone who’s in the same boat he’s in at this party feels like a cliché, and it’s barely connected to that whole issue with his father. I have to take back what I said about Sitting Here’s entry; putting two different mental illnesses in one story is harder than I gave it credit for.

“Spit” by The Cut of Your Jib

Pretty good. The story does a lot to make me feel for the indignities and smoldering resentment that Greg feels, especially to this self-centered woman who doesn’t fully understand what she did to him way back when. I especially like the interjections between Greg’s broken-up dialogue describing his off-the-cuff thoughts. Not entirely sure about Melanie’s character or if she deserves to be forgiven. It took me until my second or third read-through to notice that, at the end, Greg spending time with her wasn’t begrudging, since the sentence at the end led me away from that conclusion.

“Hook, Line and Sinker” by crabrock

quote:

I head to the mall to feast on the buffet. I squeeze past people on the escalator, lingering for a second longer than necessary as my thin dress presses into the arm of some unsuspecting mother of four. I find the busiest aisle in the shoe store and make my way through, biting my lip as I my thighs brush the back of a woman trying to shove her feet into heels two sizes too small. She’s so focused, she doesn’t even notice when I double back and do it again.

I’m of two minds on this story. I remember agreeing with my co-judges’ assessment to gently caress this story during the judging period, but now I kind of chuckle at the punchline at the end. Question is, does this make up for the narrator being a complete piece of poo poo? In this climate, I’m going to say no. I would expect, even prefer, that someone with a disorder involving sex like this one to be self-conscious and ashamed about it, and instead this guy is like a flasher. If anything she’s gleeful at the prospect of unwittingly molesting people. Getting her wallet stolen is the least that he deserves. gently caress off, lady.

“Mental Illness in a World of Magic” by RandomPauI

This is a sloppy mess of a story. You forgot to put spaces between the paragraphs until halfway through. You spelled “through” as “thru,” which I will only let slide if you’re transcribing a text message, not regular dialogue. Comma splices abound, and the sentences don’t flow together. All of these badly structured words nonsensically build up to a generic platitude that could apply to absolutely anyone who’s in a bad place in their lives, or at least that’s what I assume because nothing else in this story is clear at all. I’m glad you didn’t get too discouraged from how this story turned out, but now I’m starting to wonder if this shouldn’t have been the loser instead of “Aurumvorax.”

“The Academy” by Hawklad

I’m torn between this situation being too much of a cliche or very real. There’s an instance early on where you forgot to put the open quote on a piece of dialogue. Otherwise, it’s decently executed but nothing I haven’t seen before. I would have given this no mention.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Thanks for the crits, Chili and Solitair

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

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


ok throw me in with a cover page

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

The Saddest Rhino posted:

ok throw me in with a cover page

https://www.comics.org/issue/35124/cover/4/ (ROM Spaceknight #15)

Just a bit more than 24 hours remain to get in, everyone else.

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014


The Crits That Time Forgot
Week #25: What They Deserve (Part 3)


“Beautiful Morning” by BlackFrost

quote:

“Jesus loving Christ! Don’t tell me you did this. Don’t tell me you lit Frank’s car on fire.”

“Oh wow! The exact same words! This is incredible! Well, I mean, replace ‘lit’ with ‘hosed’, ‘car’ with ‘dick’, er… nothing really replaces ‘fire’…”

This is the moment where the story went hit my limit for being too cutesy-poo with its tone. This is a clunky line and it’s hard for me to see anybody actually talking like this. I appreciate the double application of the prompt, but to what end? It’s a shallow story with a shallow protagonist and I won’t remember it after I’m done with these crits.

“Empty Glass” by Impermanent

Didn’t I already critique this story, when it was called “Spaced?” That was another story about a drug user who I definitively did not care about suffering a terrible fate because of the drugs they took. I’m no straight-edge prude by any means, but these stories prepare me for the tension of accidental death by reminding me how annoying high people can be through sober eyes. In this case, you introduced us to Corey by having him appropriate an Eastern faith that he explicitly doesn’t know poo poo about. Everyone hates that guy. Sorry if that got a little ranty, but I have little else to go on here. I get the feeling this story would have better if it started with John waking up in a panic instead of ending that way. Also, you’d think if John gave a poo poo about Corey he would have looked up what an overdose on that drug does to people; even I did that.

“Snitches get Stitches” by Greatbacon

Goddammit. This story started off so well and then it just fell apart. It does a good job of selling me on a noir-ish bar atmosphere from the early 20th century and Jacob’s thoughts about his marriage. Then the other guy comes in and I can practically see Greatbacon gradually giving up on revising his story until the dashed off “gently caress it I’m done” obituary ending. Commas are missing when they should be there, as well as a colon after “It read” proceeding that obituary. The implications of who even killed Jacob are lost on me. Lionel can see that Jacob did his best, and it’s already established that his wife isn’t unforgiving enough to resort to murder. The author did not live up to their name this week.

“Arena” by Sedgr

Patrice does not talk like a human being and his dialogue has the biggest concentration of bad grammar in the story. If you set a story in an arena and you build up to what you say is your protagonist’s last fight in the arena, don’t spend all of your time drawing out details that don’t matter, building up to a reveal that a ten-year-old could predict in their sleep, and cutting before you get to a fight that could save all of this wasted time. Awful.

“Birdfeeders” by Bad Seafood

quote:

The child’s eyes were sharp and cold, a boy who believed in no illusions. You shifted the subject of the sentence between clauses. Perhaps you should switch the clauses around instead. He stood at the sound of footsteps and remained so as they entered one by one, the captain and the carpenter. They were twins, or might have been. The carpenter stooped and coughed, face lined with worry as he shut the door. The captain simply stood, a statue in black uniform, a single cigarette burning softly between his lips. The carpenter too drew a cigarette, hands trembling.

A small eternity passed within the attic. No words, no sound, save the sound of birds. A small cage lined with newspapers that the carpenter carried with him, it occupants the lone living things that graced the room. This was where they were kept, the boy and the birds. Is the boy also in the cage?. At long last the captain removed his cap and turned to settle down on an upended bucket. The carpenter lowered the cage to the floor, still standing with the boy. The captain took his cigarette and rolled it idly between his fingers, eyes looming to the makeshift bed and the dishes below the window. He breathed in the drifting cinders of his habit and shuddered before speaking to his brother and his guest.

quote:

“Do you know the position this puts me in, Walter? Do you understand?”

“Yes. Yes, I understand, I-” This might be a pedantic thing to say that you might already know, but throughout this story you use en-dashes when you should be using em-dashes. To type an em-dash, hold ALT and type 0150 on your number pad.

quote:

“But you did.” The captain leaned back. “You did announce it, here and now.” If your out-of-dialogue sentence is based around an action that isn’t speaking, don’t connect it to the dialogue with commas. Also, it feels weird that this is the only action shown in a lengthy exchange.

quote:

“Kurt. Where is your family, Kurt?”

quote:

“There were men with bags and cars. Papa worked at the police. Only dead people go in bags. They were alive at the time, perhaps, but I cannot imagine living people being stuffed into bags.”An uncharacteristically eloquent line of dialogue, not just for this scared little boy, but for the story in general with its clipped sentences and tense atmosphere. Why?

quote:

The lighter clicked a third time and produced a modest flame. The captain breathed in deep and satisfied.

“I’ll either take you,” he repeated, “or I won’t.” I think this works better as its own paragraph, don’t you?

The captain turned to his brother, his mirror, the carpenter. The carpenter quivered but remained standing. He would not sit while the boy stood. From within the cage chirped the birds, isolated and free. The captain clicked and stood and groaned, hand to his back. For a moment his brother broke face and stepped forward, but was assured with silence his sibling was fine. A sound drifted through the open window. It was music. A man with a violin.

quote:

“What are their names?”

“W-what?”

“Your birds.”

“…Audrey. Audrey and Albert.”

“Audrey. Albert. Not a bad name for a couple of birds.”

“N-not at all.”

The captain stood before the door, fingers still at the handle.

“You always were one to take in some manner of strange animal I couldn’t bother to keep track of. What’s one more for the menagerie?” Who’s the captain talking to? I thought it was Kurt at first, but then I remembered that Walter acted possessive about the birds earlier in the story. Also, the stammering doesn’t fit what the reader’s seen of either character.

Finally we get a half-decent story by an actual writer. Thank Christ. Those of you reading at home might disagree, but I thought that, for all of the lack of happenstance in this story, it’s still intriguing because it presents itself in a way that implies that more might be happening than it lets on. It does this very well, aside from the incongruities I pointed out, and I’m still curious to learn more about this captain fellow. Yeah, it’s kind of mystery-boxy, but that’s still more than a lot of other stories had this week.

“(Liar liar)Girl on Fire” by Sitting Here

Jesus. Sitting Here kills it again. How the hell did this not get an HM? SH should look up that em-dash tip I gave Bad Seafood, but other than that, I have no problems with this one.

“Brenda” by swaziloo



Seriously though, the sleaziness and scumminess on display here successfully made me uncomfortable, so mission accomplished I guess. Pretty tame and lame ending for something with that much buildup, though.

Recommended reading for Week 25: “Power Lies,” “Daddy Gave Me No Name,” “Work Related Injury,” “Finders Keepers,” “Birdfeeders,” “(Liar liar)Girl on Fire.”

”Recommended” reading for Week 25: “The Apocalypse of Peters.”

Deltasquid
Apr 10, 2013

awww...
you guys made me ink!


THUNDERDOME


In for this week, collaborating with someone!

Deltasquid fucked around with this message at May 12, 2017 around 10:41

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013


SCREAMING YES
MOTHERFUCKER
I AM GUILTY, I AM DEATH


In.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

IN

Thank you, critters

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007

DOUBLE BEEF ACTION

Crit of Food Fight by Sitting Here

Sitting Here asked me to make this "a good-natured crit that's not too serious", so that is what I will do.

Summary: Marta moves to Bainbridge Island, a small town (island, I assume) in Washington, from the big city of Portland. Inverting the usual small-town girl in a big city, trope, nice. She runs herself into a whole bunch of drama, all because of local queen bee Patricia (BOOOOO!). Patricia wins the cookoff every year because she's snooty and cares about it way too much. Anyway, her husband is mackin on some city council ho, so he doesn't want her to win this big cookoff and then get the honor of cooking for the city council meeting, where she would obviously see him making moves (except the State of the Island thing is open to the public? Why wouldn't she be there anyways?). Patricia wins anyway. Also Marta overhears that marital drama and hatches a plan. She challenges Patricia at the thing, they have a rib-off, everyone gets sick, and everyone blames Marta even though clearly it's Patricia getting some revenge. Also her dick husband Steve macks on that ho. Marta decides to leave Bainbridge Island.

Analysis/Comments: Hmmm. Ummm, it's an underdog story, but nobody wins or loses in the contest. Or I guess Marta loses, because she failed to accurately size up Patricia's intentions and vengeful nature. Something about some Sun Tzu proverb, probably. Rage Against the Machine has some words of wisdom for Marta: Know Your Enemy. It's about the pettiness of small town life? Also was Patricia affected by the ribs? or was she exempted from suspicion because of her track record of delicious cooking? Overall, I like the set-up of this story, I like the characters, I like the plot outline, but it feels unfinished. I'm pretty sure that's because it is, so it would be greatly improved with a second pass. As is, there is some good stuff. The characters feel relatively well developed early--there are good details about their lives, I'm always in for a fish-out-of-water story, the dialogue is decent. The set-up of the relationship between Patricia and Steve is good. Except Steve seems a little too obvious, which, I guess, isn't really that unrealistic, but he's totally a dick. So is Patricia, I guess. Also, I'm not sure what Marta's plan is supposed to accomplish. Like, what good will defeating her actually do? Or losing to her? Idk. What would we learn about the characters in that situation. I do like the ending, though, because it's illustrative of Marta's poor fit in Bainbridge Island. The prose is fine, not exceptional, though. Ultimately, it's a plot-heavy story that has some weaknesses in the plot department, so that's that.

Also it's spelled gait.

Also I was a little bummed nobody got hit in the face with a pie or anything I mean come it's called Food Fight

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

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

In

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

And signups are now closed.

Write good words, everyone. Or at least write some words.

One judge position remains open as well.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

BeefSupreme posted:

Crit of Food Fight by Sitting Here

Sitting Here asked me to make this "a good-natured crit that's not too serious", so that is what I will do.

Summary: Marta moves to Bainbridge Island, a small town (island, I assume) in Washington, from the big city of Portland. Inverting the usual small-town girl in a big city, trope, nice. She runs herself into a whole bunch of drama, all because of local queen bee Patricia (BOOOOO!). Patricia wins the cookoff every year because she's snooty and cares about it way too much. Anyway, her husband is mackin on some city council ho, so he doesn't want her to win this big cookoff and then get the honor of cooking for the city council meeting, where she would obviously see him making moves (except the State of the Island thing is open to the public? Why wouldn't she be there anyways?). Patricia wins anyway. Also Marta overhears that marital drama and hatches a plan. She challenges Patricia at the thing, they have a rib-off, everyone gets sick, and everyone blames Marta even though clearly it's Patricia getting some revenge. Also her dick husband Steve macks on that ho. Marta decides to leave Bainbridge Island.

Analysis/Comments: Hmmm. Ummm, it's an underdog story, but nobody wins or loses in the contest. Or I guess Marta loses, because she failed to accurately size up Patricia's intentions and vengeful nature. Something about some Sun Tzu proverb, probably. Rage Against the Machine has some words of wisdom for Marta: Know Your Enemy. It's about the pettiness of small town life? Also was Patricia affected by the ribs? or was she exempted from suspicion because of her track record of delicious cooking? Overall, I like the set-up of this story, I like the characters, I like the plot outline, but it feels unfinished. I'm pretty sure that's because it is, so it would be greatly improved with a second pass. As is, there is some good stuff. The characters feel relatively well developed early--there are good details about their lives, I'm always in for a fish-out-of-water story, the dialogue is decent. The set-up of the relationship between Patricia and Steve is good. Except Steve seems a little too obvious, which, I guess, isn't really that unrealistic, but he's totally a dick. So is Patricia, I guess. Also, I'm not sure what Marta's plan is supposed to accomplish. Like, what good will defeating her actually do? Or losing to her? Idk. What would we learn about the characters in that situation. I do like the ending, though, because it's illustrative of Marta's poor fit in Bainbridge Island. The prose is fine, not exceptional, though. Ultimately, it's a plot-heavy story that has some weaknesses in the plot department, so that's that.

Also it's spelled gait.

Also I was a little bummed nobody got hit in the face with a pie or anything I mean come it's called Food Fight

ty for the crit

Vinny Possum
Sep 21, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER


In, gimme a cover

Nvm, missed the deadline by a couple hours.

Vinny Possum fucked around with this message at May 14, 2017 around 08:01

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


I won't be posting a story this week because of a generic excuse.

Deltasquid
Apr 10, 2013

awww...
you guys made me ink!


THUNDERDOME


1598 words.

Rho-Man Issue #099: Turnus, The Final Confrontation!

I sing of arms and the man who, exiled from his ancestral Troy by fate, used his mighty biceps to forge a future for our children on the shores of Italy.

Muse, in this final act, tell me how he guided the forces of good to victory, assembled under the banner of the Rho, against the evil King Turnus and his lackeys in the Etruscan League!

Tell me how their feats gave hope to thirty-three generations after them, inspired by their intrepid endeavors!

Tell me…

Of Rho-Man!

---

Our titular hero relished the verdant fields of Latium and the radiant skies above. His chest was like a kite shield, and his splendid breastplate engraved with his signature letter “Rho”, and he proudly displayed both from atop the highest hill while the finest heroes from Iberia to Cappadocia assembled below.

Rho-Man’s old mentor, Saturn, joined him on the gentle slope.

“Aeneas,” Saturn said, “you have come so far, and made me so proud. But I have one more piece of advice I wish to share before we take on King Turnus tomorrow.”

Aeneas smiled softly. Ever since he took on the mantle of Rho-Man, his first name had lapsed into disuse, even by his closest friends. To hear Saturn say it reminded him of simpler days.

“You know I deeply value your advice, old friend.”

Saturn bowed and spoke: “You lead a valiant army, and are worth an army yourself. But Turnus’ forces are treacherous, and he is a remarkable warrior by his own right. I urge you to be cautious, and to rely on your companions.”

Rho-Man nodded. “You are right as always, Saturn. But fear not! I have the radiant hero of the sun at my side, Apollo, and the mighty lady of war, Minerva. While the other heroes occupy Turnus’ troops, the three of us will seek him out and defeat him, together.”

Closing his eyes in relief, Saturn smiled and said: “I am glad to hear that. The Trojan refugees were right to put their faith in you as their leader. With so great a number praying for you, your strength truly is unrivaled.”

He then looked Rho-Man in the eyes and said: “I bid you well. Tomorrow, we shall free Italy of Turnus’ tyranny.”

---

The moon came, and then the stars, and then the sun again. By dawn, the black legions had reached the valley, set on destroying the Trojan camp.

Halfway across the pastures, they were met by the Forces of Justice. Hundreds of heroes charged out to intercept the Etruscan villains while thousands of mortals from either side joined in a frantic melee.

Not even the earth was spared from their force: the jackal-headed betrayer, Set, raised terrible storms that ground the countryside to flatness, only for the twins Pollux and Castor to crater it again with their megaton punches. Ares cleaved through boulders and trees in his bloodlust, forcing Diana out of her forests, where Ba’al awaited her with his lightning whips. So did the battle unfold, and across the entire land, awe gripped men and women by the throat.

Soon, the might of the heroes and villains overwhelmed the masses, and those without superpowers were forced into the role of mere spectators.

Rho-Man scoured the battlefield for Turnus. To his right was Apollo, saturating the air with his resplendent arrows, keeping the cautious villains at bay and striking the careless. To his left ran Minerva, keeping them both safe with her gold-coated shield.

They recognized the King by his black armor tall three-plumed helmet. In his hands, he held a dark and fiery sword, the grip in the shape of a roaring chimera, with which he savagely hacked away at lesser heroes.

Before Rho-Man’s team could reach him, they came under fire. Had the bright-eyed Minerva not intercepted it, a well-aimed arrow would have struck Rho-Man from behind. They turned to face the danger in unison, but by the time their eyes scanned the chaos of battle, the assailant was gone.

Rho-Man felt a powerful blow to his right hip, followed by the burning coldness of iron piercing flesh. He dropped to his knee, but caught the second arrow in mid-air before it could find its mark. A young woman, dressed like a huntress and nocking another shot, grinned at the trio from a distance.

Minerva covered Rho-Man with her shield and said: “Are you hurt?”

“I was careless!” Rho-Man said cheerfully. He grabbed the arrow in his side, and snapped it between his fingers. “But I live and learn! Now, we have to find a way to get past Camilla.” He motioned towards the huntress, who leapt to the side with dizzying speed.

“She’s fast!” Apollo gasped. He drew his bow, but had great difficulty tracking Camilla. She outran the wind itself, seemingly skimming over the golden stalks of uncut wheat without gracing them, firing rapid shots all the while.

With an effortless punch to the ground, Rho-Man caused a quake. Camilla staggered and lost her footing for a split second, more than enough for Apollo to hit her in the chest with a snap shot. After tumbling several yards, she came to an abrupt stop at Turnus’ feet.

The King of Darkness looked down on her, then turned his attention to our three heroes.

“Rho-Man,” he thundered, “Will you never cease to be a thorn in my side? For centuries, these lands have been mine. Who are you to seize them?”

With a chuckle, Rho-Man stretched his open palm to the skies, and said: “Fate forced me into Italy, and fate shall force you out of it. Your wicked wilderness shall be tamed, and marble cities shall flower in its stead, and the names of our children shall be known across the whole world. Who are you to deny our fate, and that of your descendants with it?”

Turnus marched towards them with deliberate paces. Minerva raised her shield, and Apollo fired his gleaming arrows at the advancing figure. To Apollo’s surprise, his barrage recoiled on the black armor.

Turnus charged.

Rho-Man anticipated the swipe and dived under the sword, feeling the blaze pass him by inches. He rebounded with an uppercut, striking Turnus’ chest with a blow that raised the dust and dirt around them. Shockingly, the breastplate bounced back into position with equal force, propelling Rho-Man into the ground and sending him careening across the battlefield.

The world spun inside Rho-Man’s head. He gingerly tried to find his bearing, saw Minerva was in difficulty, leapt back into the fray.

Just before Turnus struck her, Rho-Man grappled him by the arm. Using his forward momentum, Rho-Man swung the King in a full circle and let go. Turnus was flung across the field, and his sword landed somewhere in the surrounding scuffle.

“By the heavens, what is that accursed armor?” Rho-Man said.

Turnus slowly got up, rolling his shoulders as he did. “Forged in the Etna by Vulcan himself, boy . The harder you strike it, the harder it returns to its original shape.”

Laughing madly, Turnus barreled towards Rho-Man and kicked him in the arrow wound. Rho-Man flung as many punches into the breastplate as he could manage before he was launched backwards yet again.

Turnus went for a wide swing, and Rho-Man returned the favor. Their fists connected halfway, and Rho-Man was hurled into the air, across the entire battlefield, into the Trojan camp, where he plunged into a tent.

A crowd formed around the collapsed hero, but widened again when Turnus landed next to the crash site.

Rho-Man barely found the strength to stand. How could he break through this armor? Perhaps he was weaker than he realized. After all, a hero’s strength waned when the people’s belief in him faltered.

“Why do you struggle so?” Turnus said. “It is over.”

No wonder.

He had failed them.

From the crowd, a familiar voice cried out: “Father! I am still with you!”

It was Ascanius, pointing a trembling arrow at the Dark King. The adolescent had unfortunately been born without any special powers, but he was no less brave for it.

“I can fight, too!” a girl said, holding a branch like a club.

A small boy, no older than six, threw a rock at Turnus.

The King turned towards them.

Rho-Man wiped the blood off his lips. They were curled into a serene smile.

“Thank you, Ascanius,” he said, “for making me remember.”

Like lightning, Rho-Man struck Turnus’ helmet on the right side. Instead of fighting the counter-blast, Rho-Man anticipated it and let it guide his next punch, this time on the left side. Turnus tried to counter, but the successive strikes and rebounds forced him on the defensive.

The crowd cheered.

And cheered.

With every strike, Rho-Man’s knuckles grew hotter. With every word of encouragement, his heart did the same.

From the heat, the black helmet turned into a glowing red, and finally into a brittle white, until it shattered. Rho-Man saw the pale terror in Turnus’ face, and sent him sky-high with a crunchy uppercut.

Vaulting after him with all his might, Rho-Man yelled: “You asked why I fight, Turnus!”

They reached the peak of their arc through the deep, blue sky. Rho-Man wrapped his arms around the waist of upside-down Turnus, and locked his legs around the King’s neck.

“It’s because I fight for everyone’s future! For the children of Troy, of Italy, of Egypt, of Gaul!”

They descended.

“Because that is the Rho-Man way!”

The impact sculpted seven hills on those plains, which we can still admire in Rome today.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


Artificial Selection
1079 words

“You know what I don’t get,” said Pat, nudging Marco’s shoulder, “Is why this guy is suped-up with like twenty different enhancements.”

It was SUPR’s first event since going public and the first since its “accidents” had wormed their way from tabloids into the New York Times. Marco raised his camera above the mass of reporters and would-be investors. The man on stage looked like every other self-proclaimed “thought leader” in Olympus City. Devoid of context, Marco might have assumed that Malcolm Sedgewell, with his gleaming blue blazer and glasses, was selling the latest iPhone.

But, there was something wrong with the presentation. Beyond the muffled thrum of the deformed protestors outside and the famous glow of Malcolm’s eyes, something about the man seemed off. Malcolm’s gestures were a little too perfect. His face was a little too numb to the chaos outside. The company’s stock had plummeted in recent days and, yet, Malcolm seemed as composed as ever.

From across the room, the ragged remains of a man screamed, waving a deformed set of wings and a placard that read, “HUMANITY IS NOT YOUR SCIENCE EXPERIMENT.” He managed four words of his screed before a SUPR SWAT guard teleported next to him, taser unhooked from his belt. Yells erupted from the crowd as people pushed away, but Malcolm continued with his presentation unfazed. His body seemed to shimmer in the spotlight.

“I mean, I get the rest of these schmucks who have more dollars than sense, but you ever think about how many guys like that he’s had to look at?” Pat leaned in closer as the room went dark and a video began to play. The SWAT guard lifted the unconscious man onto his back. “Would you want to mess around with your insides, knowing that it caused some guy’s skin to fall off? Or, if there was a possibility you could just wake up with extra eyes? Or, what if he was flying to work and all of the sudden his powers just...”

Marco imagined himself plummeting through the clouds. He could see small dots transform themselves into cities. Thin lines latticed out into streets. Skyscrapers and church steeples pointed their razor roofs up to greet him.

“Jesus, Pat.” Marco said, pushing himself through the crowd away from his partner.

“You’re the one that wanted to cover this thing!” Pat yelled.

Marco reached the front of the crowd as the video ended. Sedgewell gave a humble nod as cameras flashed and investors bared their white teeth in brays. A jumble of hands reached outward, each fumbling with a phone or drink. The building’s doors shuddered as a faceless group of SUPR SWAT guards teleported towards the exit.

Marco raised his camera to capture the scene, but he was more focused on the man on stage. The empty glow of the CEO’s eyes didn’t appear to see anything at all. Then, for a moment, the illusion faltered. Through his camera, Marco saw something underneath.

***

SUPR had gone all out on the event, with SUPR hero appearances and exhibitions. With a wave of his hand, a waiter transformed an uncooked steak into a blackened piece of meat. A petite woman shimmered in the spotlight before transforming a taller, slender version of herself. A suited man levitated glass baubles in the air as video endorsements of SUPR’s enhancements played out on a back wall.

The place had the feel of Jonestown readying itself for the apocalypse, but the cult leader was missing. He had last seen Sedgewell sitting on a bench as guards ushered the guests towards the reception hall. He had seen Sedgewell staring through the window at the deformed crowd as a woman, ulcers blooming from her mouth like dark flowers, tried to push her way forward. The episode seemed to leave Sedgewell unravelled. Marco had snapped a picture, but something had gone wrong with his camera. The photo had come out blurred and distorted.

Marco pushed his way through the flock of squawking influencers towards the outer-edge of the room where Pat crouched with a handful of other reporters.

“Can you believe that this room’s got only one outlet?” Pat said, flipping through his phone. “I mean, Christ, SUPR makes this place look nice but what kind of person designs a room with one usable outlet?”

“Based on the entertainment,” Marco mumbled, “there’s a good chance that someone here can charge your phone with their rear end.” The two stood in silence for a moment as a SUPR SWAT guard pushed his way through the crowd toward the sound of shattering glass. “Hey, you seen Sedgewell anywhere?”

Pat shrugged. “I’m just about stapled to this wall until my phone charges. But…” He looked back and forth with exaggerated deviousness, “I might have overheard one of those SWAT guards talk about getting Sedgewell out of here early to avoid a scene. Might not hurt to check the parking garage.”

Marco nodded as a troupe of illusionist dancers pranced across the room, their bodies seeming to blur in the spotlight. With the crowd distracted, he pushed his way toward the exit.

***

Marco pressed his body against one the garage’s concrete pillars and strained his ears for noise. Sedgewick’s idled in the dim yellow light of the parking lot, but all he could hear was a low, constant moan that reverberated across the room. The guards, once everywhere, had dispersed after helping their boss get into the car. It was as though they were not meant to see something.

Marco crept forward towards the car. He pulled open the car door.

“Stop! What are you doing!”

There was Sedgewick, perfect and shimmering in the dull yellow light of the parking garage. For a moment, his body shimmered. Then, like photograph overexposed to sunlight, Sedgewick’s body wavered and contorted. He raised a hand.

“Don’t come any closer!” His glowing eyes flickered. He moaned as the illusion faltered. The man, the thing, raised its arm.

Sedgewick’s perfect body unfurled into a mass of flesh. His lower jaw devolved into one large abscess as his arms splintered off into four different directions. Strange vestigial eyes erupted from his unblemished flesh. Rot and pus crept down across his chest. The side effects of twenty enhancement spilled out, no longer concealed by his powers.

“For the love of God, don’t let them see me like this! It will ruin this company! It will ruin me!”

Marco’s heart thudded as he raised his camera.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply
«118 »