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Sokoban
Feb 16, 2011


FIRE & ICE

1070 words


This wasn’t good. It just wasn’t good. Nothing about this was fine. This wasn’t fine at all. This was the opposite. This was bad – a caveman, Neanderthal, hit-thumb-with-hammer word, but succinct. This was bad.

The Great Big Hack Job of Our Generation was bungled. It had gone wrong – a testament to failure. DVD slid off his dream-mask and thought of how many life sentences he was about to receive. He jabbed numbers into his HTC. Roughly 20 life sentences; perhaps with good behaviour he could reduce it to 19. Fate had given him only one remaining option: join the net, and become lost in the code. A suicide – something he hoped not to become when he woke up this morning.

His HTC shuddered with a message. His thumbed the ID scanner and read: job status?

DVD put the phone back on the table upside down. He made a mental status of the job: hosed. He wasn’t sure what to do. The virus had been intercepted, stopped by a vaccine, and they would be here in 20 minutes, a FIRE squad ready to arrest. 1 minute per life sentence. He fingered the dream-mask, the only hacking tool he had left, the only gear to his name. He just needed to slip it on and twist the connection out when the neural wire had established itself. It would dump his brain onto Google and that would be that, no prison, no hell.

Unless. There was one person who could help, but it meant servitude, to be a net-zombie, a ghost-thing, a person unborn. Better than neural-prison. Better than what FIRE would do to him. He picked his HTC back up, and ignored the urgent messages from his client. He hooked two wires into the phone, licked his finger and slicked it across the top of the screen. It lit green, and showed him a hash code. He took a screenshot with the dream-mask, a brain JPEG, put on his boots and coat and left.

Out on the street below his bedsit the day had brightened. Black cables laced each other in a tangle of static; the glo-paint on the traffic signs shimmered against the overcast sky while holo-ads told him about every product he’d never need. To say he hated living in The City was false – how could you hate living in a place which you couldn’t escape from? You didn’t. You accepted it. Chinese phones lined up in the stall in front of him – DVD picked the cheapest of the bunch and paid contactless. He added a card to the phone, punched in the hash code from before and called. The phone connected in his ear.

‘Hello?’

‘You know who I am ICE, my name is in the hash.’

‘DVD. You have, really, about 5 minutes before the police take you away. Plenty of time to explain why you are calling me?’

DVD spat. He wiped his face, rubbed his eyes.

‘A job turned bad. When I say bad ICE, I mean it might go down as the worst in hacking history.’

There was a pause. ‘I know.’

‘Of course, of course you loving know! So let me be clear: help. Me.’

‘I’m sending you a message. Memorise the address.’

‘Thank you.’

‘Thank me? You’ve just sold your soul to the devil.’

The connection cut. That was it then, stuck between fire and ice. The address was a short walk through the underground. ICE’s intentions were difficult to figure. Capricious would be an apt description of her; a hacker who had developed software to erase people digitally, to reinvent their online self, to rebuild histories and create futures. She was a genius and had squandered it. She had formed her own little computer cult hidden in the recesses of a dilapidated hospital and took odd work: sometimes black market, sometimes darker, always anti-state.

He stopped in front of St. Jude’s Infirmary. It wouldn’t be the front entrance, that’s not ICE. A side door with key scanner seemed out of place. He approached it and sighed. With a flick of a screwdriver he popped its cover and scrambled the wiring. In a moment the door clicked open, swaying on its hinges. Sirens kick started his heart. poo poo. poo poo. DVD looked up. Just outside his vision was a red helicopter that glistened in the rain. It was menace. It was silent. It was full of men who had one ambition. He ran. He ran into the building and down the halls – UV signs lit up under his dream-mask, pointing the way to ICE’s hideout. Maybe she’ll be there. Please still be there.

DVD skidded in front of a sign that pointed up, up to the roof. He gasped for breath and removed his coat. He didn’t need the weight, he didn’t need anything anymore – his past and future were forfeit. Up the stairs he jogged; his legs screamed to stop, to pause, to rest for a little, but he kept pushing. If ICE was on the roof, it only meant one thing: she planned to escape with a wing-suit. He pushed the door at the top, his face a half-smile, ready for hope. ICE was there, the police were there too. They had landed faster than he had anticipated. A FIRE squad: cyber-crimes division. A trooper decked in red plastic armour had ICE subdued, a pistol held to her head as she knelt down, arms in restraints, strands of neural-wire and silver hair covering her face.

‘You had to make this choice DVD? You’ve stolen from the government – this is the outcome. You knew that job was crazy.’ said ICE.

‘But the money,’ spat DVD, ‘the money would have set me free.’

‘Freedom in The City has always been an illusion. You’re not the first young man to fall for it.’

ICE twisted her neck. A wireless connection came free in the back of her head, and she slumped forwards dead. She's just dumped her brain. She left me.

DVD looked on; his eyes unfocussed as the FIRE team surrounded him, pushed him to the ground, read his rights, and restrained him. They removed his dream-mask and removed his wires. No suicide. They had made that mistake already. DVD breathed City air for one last time. He hoped that somewhere ICE would still linger, a ghost, an image of her. He didn’t know how else to beat FIRE without her.

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Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


Djeser
Mar 22, 2013




What is this, a cat for ants?

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 Things Dora Fincher Doesn’t Wish For
https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5815&...sn%27t+Wish+For

Thranguy fucked around with this message at Dec 7, 2017 around 02:04

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


There Are No Zombies in This Story
Words: 1492

Rows of neglected and forgotten headstones stretched across the graveyard. Edward smiled, strands of dirty blonde hair poking out from the rim of his baseball cap. Clara stood next to him, her purple scarf lazily clinging to her black sweater. Edward looked over to her, and his buck toothed grin widened when he saw the nervousness in her eyes.

“Edward, I’m not sure I want to be here,” Clara said.

Edward walked ahead of her and shrugged.

“Don’t worry baby, there ain’t no zombies here.”

Edward walked over to a squarish grave and hopped on top of it.

“Isn’t that right mister?” Edward asked the plot, “you’re sleeping much too soundly to bother eating little Clara over here.”

Edward jumped off the stone and attacked Clara with a hug.

“Although you’re really missing out!” Edward said as he snuggled against her.

Clara wasn’t having any of that, however, and smacked Edward’s face so forcefully that there was an audible thwacking. Edward’s smile barely faltered.

“Come on babe! This is supposed to be fun!”

Clara walked over to a rather flat gravestone and sat down.

“Coming to this creepy place was your idea, asshat. What’s supposed to be so fun about a bare patch of land that happens to have dead bodies buried under it, anyway?”

Edward kicked away a rock and shrugged.

“It’s taboo, I guess.”

Clara groaned at Edward’s stupidity.

“I mean, look at it Edward. It’s just a big field with a bunch of old and ugly little statues. There’s nothing here!”

“Don’t you like exploring the great outdoors? Besides, it’s good to get some sunlight.”

Edward looked over Clara’s pale face and arms before slinking beside her.

“You could really use the Vitamin D. Both kinds.”

Clara reeled her hand back to bitchslap Edward, but she stopped midway. From somewhere in the distance came a groaning noise, deep and guttural. Edward and Clara stared at each other before another awful groan sent them booking it. Clara huffed and puffed, her body unequipped for running. Edward sprinted past her with arms flailing. His foot caught on a headstone, however, and he went rocketing face first to the ground. Not too far behind him, Clara fell to her knees panting.

In the distance stood a tall, masculine figure. His broad shoulders were heaving back and forth as he cackled in a baritone voice. Edward squirmed onto his back to get a look at the man while Clara focused on catching her breath.

“Zombies don’t laugh, right?” Edward asked.

“Zombies?” asked the figured.

Edward pulled himself to his feet, preparing to apologize. When he actually saw the man, his apology was replaced with stunned silence.

The man’s skin was a swampy blue-green, and his eyes were small and set far apart. His nose was upturned and piglike, and his open smile was fanged. His fingernails were two inch long claws, and he tapped them together as he examined the two humans before him. Edward stepped back, and the creature threw his head back in another fit of laughter.

“My my my,” said the creature, “what lovely little humans we have here.”

Clara crawled back to her feet, and she screamed when she saw the creature. Edward kept backing up, not breaking eye contact with the bizarre thing that continued laughing at them. Something from behind wrapped its arms around Edward’s waist, however, and crushed him to its chest. Edward tried to look behind him, but whatever had him was inhumanly strong.

“Don’t leave so soon,” a soft, female voice hissed into his ear.

The creature holding onto Edward pushed him into the dirt. Edward flailed around on the ground before getting into a somewhat upright position. He saw that his attacker was another creature, one with light violet skin and a feminine form. She crouched to his level and flashed him a wide, fanged smile.

Clara crawled over to Edward as the creatures corralled them together. Edward looked up at the two looming demons. They had to have been well over eight feet tall.

“W-what do you want from us?”

The male figure hooked his arm around his female companion’s shoulder.

“We’ve been dying to add humans to our inventory.”

Edward’s voice cracked.

“Inventory?”

The two sniggered and before he knew what was happening, Edward passed out.

***

Edward bolted upward. His eyes darted from side to side. The room he’d found himself in was cast in a flickering, orange light. Crimson bars surrounded him, and after a minute of staring blankly he realized that he was in a cage. He rubbed his face and moaned. He looked around a little more, and saw Clara sitting in a cage to his right. She was cradled into a ball and rocking herself. Edward buried his head into his chest and wept.

A metallic clunking noise echoed throughout the room. A metallic door slid open and the male creature stepped inside. He carried two clay dishes in his hands and gingerly placed them inside Edward and Clara’s cages. Edward looked at the slop in the bowl, looking like someone had dribbled melted butter onto expired oyster. He dipped a hesitant finger into the muck and tasted it.

He vomited.

A nasally, high-pitched giggle came from above. Edward looked up and saw something inside a cage that was suspended from the ceiling. The thing inside was neither a human nor one of the creatures that’d kidnap him and Clara. It looked like an impossibly skinny, almost skeletal old man with skin so pale that it was pure white. Its bulging blue eyes threatened to pop out of its head with each breathy laugh.

“What are you laughing about?”

The creature raised its bony hand up and meekly slapped the floor of its cage.

“Looks like Kra and Ren added another pet to the ol’ collection!”

“Another pet?” Edward asked.

“Yeah, you and your lady friend! They always like gettin’ a breeding pair when they can!”

The female demon stepped into the room. She led another creature of identical lineage, her skin grey and her black nails over five inches long. This new creature crouched to the floor, getting eye level with Edward.

“Aw, he’s a little cutie!” said the creature, her hot breath smelling like rotting garbage.

The creature stood up and walked over to Clara.

“And this is his little lady friend? So cute.”

Clara wailed while the ashy grey demon giggled. The violet demon shook her head.

“Unfortunately, the humans aren’t for sale right now. We’re working on getting more without disturbing their natural ecosystem.”

The violet demon motioned for her customer to look upward at the pale creature that had laughed at Edward earlier.

“This is Prance, a rare Callian. He’s been looking for a home for a while now.”

“Eh, he’s kind of ugly. How long until you have more humans?”

The violet demon smiled a wide, toothy smile.

“Very soon.”

***

“Clara, I’m so sorry. This is my fault.”

Clara didn’t say a word. Edward slunk back into his cage while Prance rambled to him.

“Now Kra’s the main owner and sales representative. You only gonna see her when a customer’s lookin’. Ren is that big fella who brings us the chow and keeps us clean.”

Another creature in a ceiling suspended cage growled.

“Would you shut up already!”

The enormous blob of flesh in the cage groaned and belched. Its bulbous black eyes leered at Prance and, finally, he shut his trap. Edward banged on the bars of his cage, shrieking profanities.

“You calm down, too! I’m trying to loving sleep!” said the flesh blob.

“Aw gently caress you!” snapped Edward.

The flesh creature hissed, but whatever cutting remarks it had prepared had to go unused as both Kra and Ren entered the room.

“It’s too dangerous,” said Kra, “and besides, the Dimensional Protection Agency will be on our asses if we do!”

The violet creature sighed.

“At least we managed to snag these two,” said Ren as he unlocked Edward’s cage.

Edward tried to struggle against the creature as it effortlessly hoisted him over his shoulder. Clara barely struggled in the arms of Kra. Edward begged to be released as the two brought them to a colorful, actually somewhat cozy looking room. Edward and Clara were thrown onto the floor and their captors hastily left.

“Clara,” said Edward.

Clara looked over her shoulder at him. Her sweater was torn and caked in grime, and her face was bruised. Edward didn’t look any better.

“They want us to have sex,” said Clara.

Edward stood there. His face was stained from countless streaks of tears.

“I know you hate me,” said Edward.

“I don’t know what I feel anymore,” said Clara.

“You know, this is awful. It’s horrific, actually.”

Edward scooted up to Clara and hugged her.

“But, at least we don’t have to suffer this alone.”

Clara turned and bitchslapped Edward, a thin smile on her lips. They both laughed.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


We Are the First

Now found by clicking the clicky link.

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at Aug 5, 2017 around 07:23

Phobia
Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
MIAMI MUTILATOR
and the deranged degenerates who only want their
15 MINUTES OF FAME.


OCK.


Tap Tap
790 Words

Miss Hudgens awoke to the sounds of knocking against her front door.

Her eyelashes fluttered. She wiped a bit of drool from the corner of her mouth. Must have been her imagination, she thought. Miss Hudgens was ready to fall back to sleep.

Another set of knocks, sharper than the first.

The woman fell asleep in the wooden chair in her parlor. A mistake on her part; her little nap left her old joints aching. At first she mistook the sounds as the crackle of the active fireplace. Miss Hudgens sat in front of the fire day in and day out, wool blankets wrapped tightly around her small form. It did very little to help. Not even hot tea could help the inexplicable chill raking across her spine.

Lately she's felt so cold, so numb after the tragic passing of her husband.

It was only a mistake, she told herself. Her husband was always such a stubborn man, insisting on doing things himself. She told him to call up their son in order to get the snow blower out. She pleaded with him that he was just too old to do it all by himself. He did not listen, no, he never did. She fell asleep in her wooden chair, she didn't hear him. It was only a mistake.

A third set of knocks. Slower, more deliberate. Tap, tap, tap.

This time Miss Hudgens knew it was coming from the door. She strained to turn her head. The door to her cabin was locked by a latch, with a wooden bar stuck through several keeps. The only way someone would be able to get in is if Miss Hudgens got up and let them in. And with her cold body and tight blankets, that was unlikely.

A four set. Tap, Tap, Tap.

Surely it had to be some rodent or something. A raccoon? A bear? That might have sounded silly but it could not be a visitor, surely not at this late of an hour. Her cabin was less than a mile from any roads, and there was simply no chance that someone could hike in this weather.

Tap, Tap, Tap.

"W-Who's there?" Miss Hudgens said finally. Her voice cracked, vocal cords strained from the chill in her body. "Hello?"

It wasn't her fault, she told herself. The snow was falling so quickly, and the wind was blowing so hard that it drowned out everything else. She fell asleep in her chair and did not hear him pounding on the cabin door, it was as simple as that. It was a mistake she would have to live with for the rest of her life but she could not blame herself.

Miss Hudgens spoke in a weak voice. "Harold, is that you?"

Tap. Tap. Tap.

"Let me in. . ."


Miss Hudgens gasped. Punctuating the increasingly violent knocks at her door was a wailing voice. Her paper-thin frame shrunk underneath the sheets that coiled around her like a cocoon. No. No, it couldn't be.

"Let me iiiiin, Elena. . ." TAP. TAP. TAP

Hot tears streamed down her face. Miss Hudgens cringed, curling up so tight inside her blankets until she was in the fetal position.

That's when the knocking stopped and the sudden, violent fury began. The sounds of dead fists pounded on the door. But it wasn't just the door. The clobbering came from all corners of her cabin, a thousand unseen fists slamming and pummeling into the hard wood of Miss Hudgens safe haven. The hair stood up on the back of the old woman's neck. Miss Hudgens shrieked!

"Harold, please, leave me be! I fell asleep and I didn't hear you pounding on my door! It was an accident, please, I'm sorry but I can't - "

She hiccuped. The air in her lungs fell away. There was more to say, so much more, but she did not have the energy to do so.

The room fell silent. Not even the snow and the wind penetrated the cabin. And that made her husband stand so starkly, so firm, as if he were there, just beyond the precipice.

Yet as clear as he sounded, there was not an ounce of warmth in his voice.

"Oh Elena... My poor, sweet, confused Elena..."

Then the latch to the door opened on its own. The wooden blocker clattered to the floor with an audible echo.

"If you were asleep, then how did you know I was pounding on the door?"

Miss Hudgens made no response. The door made no sound as it opened. Mr. Hudgens said nothing as his pale blue form walked in through the door. The door closed behind him with no escape and no one to hear Miss Hudgens's cries for help.

yo where the bad cats at

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


931 words

I didn’t sign up to be married to a tree

flerp fucked around with this message at Oct 11, 2017 around 21:15

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Aaaaaaand, it's gone!

Chili fucked around with this message at Jan 2, 2018 around 11:41

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013


SCREAMING YES
MOTHERFUCKER
I AM GUILTY, I AM DEATH


-archived-

ThirdEmperor fucked around with this message at Dec 25, 2017 around 13:55

super sweet best pal
Nov 18, 2009

No need to sign, we'll take care of that.


Lipstick Apathy

A Divide
454 words

The people of the elder mountains existed cut off from the rest of the world for centuries due to the nigh-impassible nature of their homeland's geography. The only true access to the kingdom was through heavily guarded cavern entrances at the foot of the mountain range. Over the years, the subterranean half of the kingdom's populace had become adept at turning the natural resources of the mountains toward defending and connecting the lands above. They took pride in being able to keep their land safe from invading armies.

In the mountains above, there was little habitable land. What few plateaus existed were reserved for the farmland required to feed the population and the populace were forced to live near the edges and had little space to call their own.

There was an uneasy truce between the two halves of the kingdom, the topsiders resented needing to feed the cave dwellers and the cave dwellers resented having to risk their lives defending the borders of the kingdom. Peace was only maintained through the wisdom of the sages. The sages were required to spend their time living with the group they weren't born with to understand both sides of the cultural divide. Spending decades working with the other half of the populace in order to understand them better.

Wallace was a failed sage. No matter how many disputes he was sent to arbitrate, his elders always reversed the decision. Some dispute he'd decide in favor of the plateaus would be decried as favoritism for his birth there and for one in favor of the caverns he'd be accused of forgetting his early life. When he championed a citizen not getting their fair share he'd be accused of not serving society as a whole, but when he did rule in favor of the entire kingdom's needs he was called a tyrant. His rulings according to the establish law were considered inapplicable to the situation at hand and his more freeform rulings were mocked as ignorance of what was already established.

During one especially petty dispute he finally snapped, railing against both parties and declared the entire society unsustainable if the law on the books was not effective enough that his job needed to exist, stating that it would be better if the crops failed and their enemies. For the first time in his life he realised he didn't care about his country anymore and all he'd learned throughout the years was an intense hatred for the people he initially thought he cared for. As he descended to the lower levels of the caverns on the way to the kingdom's border, for the first time in years he felt like he was finally making the right decision.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


In before submissions close:

Phobia posted:

I'm in. Dead or alive. Let's .

I thought if a big scary monster couldn't scare Bad Cat 2, maybe some of your posts would??

....

...

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at Jul 17, 2017 around 07:17

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Interprompt: Dreams are encroaching on reality (125 words)

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


Uranium Phoenix posted:

Interprompt: Dreams are encroaching on reality (125 words)

Water So Good
I once had a dream that I was in my grandma's neighbor's yard and they had a water fountain. I drank from it but it didn't do anything for my thirst. When I woke up I was really thirsty so I got some water. The moral of the story? Real water > dream water.

big scary monsters
Sep 2, 2011

-~Skullwave~-


quote:

Freud Was Wrong
114 words

I like to imagine myself swimming on the surface of a deep and endless ocean, bobbing gently on the waves. As I dive, deeper and deeper into the cool darkness, the waking world recedes above and I swim into my dreams.

Tonight, I choose to dream of flying. The transition from swimming through water to gliding through air is natural enough, and without allow myself to pay too much attention to the change, I leave the ocean for a sea of clouds, diving through their fluffy white blanket to see the fields of the Earth ludicrously far below. I’m untouchably high, unbelievably distant from my sleeping body.

When I wake I’m falling.

Somebody fucked around with this message at Jul 17, 2017 around 10:00

big scary monsters
Sep 2, 2011

-~Skullwave~-


Oh I misread the word count. I'll leave picking out the 25 unnecessary words as an exercise for the reader

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

challenge accepted

big scary monsters
Sep 2, 2011

-~Skullwave~-


Yeah that is better, thank you.

Phobia
Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
MIAMI MUTILATOR
and the deranged degenerates who only want their
15 MINUTES OF FAME.


OCK.



... Yep. That's one bad cat.

( It took me a minute to realize what those strange sheets of paper were. I need more sleep. )

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Thunderdome Recap!



Dog Week! Where did the stories go? Dog Week! Nobody knows where they are! Without a loser in Week 254: dog week on which to focus our ire, Sitting Here, Djeser, super-special guest flerp, and I settle for prodding the winning entry and the lone negative mention with our critical sticks.

But not for long! Soon we're blasting off into Week 255: RAY-LORDS FROM BEYOND GALAXY 9! Join us in admiring the beaver clones that inspired whatever ThirdEmperor is on about! Yawn along as we trudge through a tale about a man with a tank for a head that somehow is boring! Then raise a glass, as we do, to the memory of the SilverHawks, who fly again (sort of) in our dramatic reading of Jay W. Friks' "Hanna-Barbera's Stool."

“Fear not Queen President! I, Captain Dikok and the Knights of the Tesseract table shall fight off this plasma infused poultry!”


Episodes past can be found here!

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Jul 24, 2017 around 21:21

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


Phobia posted:

... Yep. That's one bad cat.

( It took me a minute to realize what those strange sheets of paper were. I need more sleep. )

to be fair, seeing your somethingawful.com posts printed out is probably not something that most goons experience on a regular basis...

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


JUDGEMENT! JUDGEMENT! TOIL AND TRUDGEMENT



Bad Cat 1 and Bad Cat 2, before and after reading your stories.

Low and behold, as was foreshadowed in the prompt post, so it has come to be that a winner and a loser have been chosen. Also some in-between things that shall also have the dubious (doublious??) honor of being mentioned in this illustrious post of judgment.

First the bad:

super sweet best pal, you get a very disappointed look that makes you wish you had been yelled at instead. This wasn’t a story. It was almost a description of what could maybe have been a good story. I know you submitted this at the last minute rather than failing, and while I kind of appreciate that, what I really would have appreciated was an actual story. Boo. (Note for The Archivist: this isn’t a DM)

ZeBourgeoise, I’m afraid that you were at the top of everyone’s at-the-bottom list. That makes you our loser. The best thing I can say about this story is that at least I understood what was happening the whole time. The worst thing I can say is that I understood what was happening the whole time. I just… alien breeding programs continue to be both cliche and repulsive, and not in the like “repulsive is a meaningful reflection on the human condition” kind of way. I did like that the title was accurate, though.

Second the good:

I thought I would do a nice little pair-themed thing, with a winner and a loser and an HM and a DM, but then too many of you wrote stories that were good?? WTF??

Honorable mentions for the following:

ThirdEmporer, this was one of my personal top 2 stories. Good job doing a lot with a little. I will forever take away ⅔ of your words. You squeezed in a lot of humanity into one-or-two characters with just a few details. Also you managed to stick an entire new extreme sport in there at the same time.

Flerp, I don’t want to sound repetitive, but I guess it’s double trouble week, so anyway, this was just really real. Especially for magical realism, if this is what magical realism is. Seriously, I keep trying to think of some brief and pithy description of why we all liked this story, and I just keep coming back to “that’s really a lot of leaves to rake.”

Chili, you encapsulated a complex and problematic relationship into a few meaningful interactions, and then convincingly pulled the couple into a new reality. Very rarely do I see contemporary art rendered well in writing, and you did that within an interesting and well-written story.

And, much like someone has to lose, someone has to win, but this is better, because we actually all wanted you to win because your story is good:

Thranguy! It’s you! Now that I’m writing this I realize that we didn’t actually discuss what we individually liked about your story, because we all just agreed we liked it. What I liked about it was the way you took so many stories about genies and explicitly turned them away, while using them to reveal more and more about your main character. Even though this story was nearly all narration, and very little action (and no dialogue), it still felt like a story, as Dora’s life unfolded through a series of negatives. Strong voice, strong concept, strong character.

So, the time for twos is over, and now there is only one. (It’s you Thranguy, in case that wasn’t clear)

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 CCLIX : One, Two, Three

As we near the end of the fifth year of thunderdome, I look back on this year and see that it has seen a lot of weeks with high word limits, or with no word limit at all. Now, I enjoy reading and writing longer stories at least as much as the next guy, but we may be losing track of the true spirit of flash fiction with all of these might-as-well-be-short stories lengths. So consider this week a corrective.

This week, entrants can submit up to three different stories. There will be three word counts, and three mini-prompts for you to mix and match as you wish. (If you write less than three, you can pick any one or two pairs. But you can’t use the same prompt or the same wordcount twice.)

The stories should be posted in up to three separate posts and will be judged individually, although nobody is going to get the same result (other than maybe DQs I guess) more than once out of the week. Other combinations are possible.

Also, Your stories should not be connected in any way. Things won’t go well for anyone the judges suspect of trying to write a longer story in three parts.

Word Counts

One: 100 words, exactly. What some call a ‘drabble’, and others less imaginatively call a hundred-word story. (The title doesn’t count, but please don’t go crazy.) It’s a difficult format, in some of the same ways poetry can be difficult but hopefully not as intimidating. It’s also an editing test. I’d advise double-checking your count with the old mark I eyeball.

Two: Between 150 and 250 words. Another sort of tough format, but we’ve done one week with this limit and gotten very good results. I’d advise looking at the bird week stories (some of which may be found, among other good non-td stories, in the November 2016 edition of Flash Frontier )to see how they handled it.

Three: Between 300 and 500 words. Still short, but long enough to be in the normal range of short td stories, so easy mode, relatively speaking.

All very short. Trying to fit a full narrative arc into these lengths is going to be challenging, so illustrating moments, vignettes, and character sketches are welcome.

Prompts

One: Time Is out of Joint
Just what it says on the tin..

Two: Use Your Allusion
Somewhere in your story, use a literary allusion to a work by either Rudyard Kipling or Emily Dickinson. This can be in the voice of a character, from the narrator, or even just in the title. Special exclusions: No ‘Because I Could Not Stop for Death’, no ‘White Man’s Burden’.

Three: Genre Blind Spots
Write something that belongs in one of the following Genres:
Nonsense, Magic Realism, and Slipstream

Just to clarify, it’s the numbered prompts you can only use once. The genres are all part of prompt three, so if you use Nonsense for one of your stories you can't write Slipstream for your second story at a different length.

No Erotica, Fanfic, etc. No poetry either (although experimental prose that treads mighty close to that line is fine.)

You don’t have to commit to a specific number of stories when you go in unless you want to, even if you for some reason feel compelled to toxx.

Signups Close Friday 11:59 Pacific Time

Submissions Close Sunday 11:59 Pacific Time

One, Two, Three Judges:
Thranguy
Djeser
?

An Indeterminate Number of Entrants:
flerp
Uranium Phoenix
sebmojo
big scary monsters
Sokoban
steeltoedsneakers
Noah
Fumblemouse
Fuubi (toxxed)
Solitair
Bad Seafood

Thranguy fucked around with this message at Jul 22, 2017 around 21:43

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


in

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


In

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

in

big scary monsters
Sep 2, 2011

-~Skullwave~-


in

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



big scary monsters posted:

And the Cure
1497 words

The start is far too much backstory and establishment of the character and situation, if you’re going to go for this type of introduction, really focusing on the detail, and dedicating a lot of space to fluff around the character/situation then it really needs to hum as writing (what I tried with my story this week.) For me the descriptions weren’t tight enough to really grasp me, they were a little too winding, with not enough lyricism to them. Then after five paragraphs of that description we get onto why the person is attending the very capable, and quite verbose poisoner; he has been poisoned. My pulsed raised from the beginning’s lethargy when I read about something happening. I absolutely understand that there can be import and signalling in the description of something, which is why, pulse raised, I was looking forward to the resolution of this story. What would come of a situation where a poisoner may, or may not be able to cure the victim of his client. Then I discovered he dead. Nothing the poisoner could do. Nowt the poisoner could say beyond maybe he could cure people too.

For me you've focused far too much on the duality and forgotten to tell a story speaking to the two halves. There's nothing about this life/death, healer/hurter tale that stands up to a telling story with any insight on people. From the very start of the story you have long, verbose attempts at grandiosity that seem to be searching for reverence from the reader. This really hurt because I became tired of rolling sentences that didn't add or build to any justification. Your sentences can build for the story, reflect on the purpose of the story, or ideally both. Instead I felt that the majority of the story was superfluous, and indulgent without speaking for anything beyond the prompt, or self-satisfaction. I'd cut down your sentences, especially at the beginning and really get to what advances the plot, with that, in the end, lining up with the purpose of your narrative. Or, let the descriptions foreshadow, let them work for the end you’re going for. This was a fine story, but with much of the beginning and its wordiness detracting from a situation that could pump a deadened heart but ultimately undercut itself, especially with the ending that didn’t bounce off of much of what you’d established.


Sokoban posted:

FIRE & ICE

1070 words

I'm not entirely sure what to say about this. Mostly it achieved what I believe it sought to do. It was an action packed tale, that hummed along nicely as some blockbuster cheese. The codenames/names gave me a very Hackers vibe.* I could picture the headsets as sunglasses, it was easy to imagine DVD wearing a backpack, all it was short was neon-laced rollerblades, and faux-anarchist laptop decals. The few things that threw me out of the story were the acronyms, and some of the descriptions not fulling flowing with the run of the piece. I can understand wanting to have in-world terms for something, but it seemed overdone. Although that might very well be a good thing because this was really a maximum overdrive piece. Some of the technical descriptions had me scratching my head in places, but reading on I realised I could just pass by any element that didn't run with my flow and appreciate the story as a piece of bombastic fluff. The real issue with this for me was there was no depth to any of it, instead it just ran to its end without saying anything or dealing with anything. The, "Freedom in The City has always been an illusion..." line was groan worthy, but again this is a story that seems to be looking for those groans even if it doesn't have the awareness to be considered a pastiche. On a plot point I'm not sure I buy DVD going to this amazing hacker who can get him out of his situation, but her ending up caught. It just seems like a stomped in twist for the sake of pushing the resolution. Another element that didn't work was the mention of Google. I can see you asking the reader to think of Google now, and how Google could dominate this sci-fi dystopia, but it seemed like hastily added commentary in a story that was doing no such thing otherwise, and used terms not used now to set up the fantasy. In the end the story had problems when I sat down to think on them, but it's not a story that's asking for consideration. If I didn't write this crit, unlike other stories I wouldn't have given thought to what was happening and would have happily accepted it as brainless, but mostly well written excitement. For me, to raise it to another level, you need to step back and consider what commentary you're making with this. It's a driven story, wrapped up in its action with no reflection on what any of this means in a broader sense, even a broader sense within this setting. There needs to be somewhere in the story where things slow, the situation takes stock of itself, how it matters, and what the story and you as the author are saying. I need a broader view to place it in a reality. It worked on a limited level, and was quite good at that level, but I would want more.

*hack the planet


Thranguy posted:

The Things Dora Fincher Doesn’t Wish For

1057 Words

There's not too much to say about this other than it's beautiful. The language, grammar, tense and point of view fail in a few places, especially at the beginning when the story is establishing what's happening, and that needs to be taken with regards to the effort that’s needed from the reader to adapt an unusual tense/pov combination. The list of wishes she doesn't wish for goes on a little too long for me, and this borders it between flash fiction and a short story. For its length I'd like to get some characterisation and personality to the woman in the space you could take from removing some of the wishes so she's more than just someone to hang the idea of the piece on. This is especially the case when everything about her is what she doesn't want, and her eventual coming up with the actual wish. The alternative is to tighten up the structure and flow of the things she doesn't wish for and cut it back to make it a shorter, but more solid and punchy piece of flash fiction dealing with a single strand. To me these aren't huge issues, but equally they're not minor issues that should be overlooked for a 100% finalised piece. Instead it's the weight of the message, and the power of the resolution that can let me see past them in the thunderdome setting. Everything got really quiet reading this. I haven't read a tonne of thunderdome stories but if you sharpened it up, then of the stories I've read it could be one of the best to have come out of here.


ZeBourgeoisie posted:

There Are No Zombies in This Story
Words: 1492

My main problem with this is how drawn out it was, without giving any insight into the characters; their motivation, feelings, and in the end their fear. Everything is rolled out without any consideration for setting a tone of what happens, and it does it at great, plodding length rather than trying to find a telling way of getting information across. Even then, there's jumps in logic and storytelling where I'm not sure what exactly is happening, or why it's happening. Who are these "demons?" What's this dimensional something or the other? Early in the story you have a few lines of the woman demanding to know why they're in a graveyard, but she doesn't just say, "Hey, poobrain! Why are we in a graveyard?"" She goes on at length about fields with bodies under them, and stone whatevers. That's a big problem with this story; instead of just coming out and saying something, and saying it well, it looks sidelong at everything and refuses to address anything. It's also a story where nothing really happens for the protagonists, they have no agency, they have no inner thoughts, they show no control over the situation or themselves. Instead they're brought along for a ride, with bad things happening. Maybe that can work, especially if you nail the description and give rise to a mounting horror or terror, but the way the story was told it was like a bored fourteen year old recounting his day at school, and it's a day where nothing of significance happens but puerile teenager talk and a slap fetish.


Uranium Phoenix posted:

We Are the First
1135 words

I can get behind presenting a duality as also a finality, simply exploring the idea of being both first and last, and all that entails, but this story didn't show what any of that meant. I don't particularly like changing people's stories too much. I'd prefer to offer a few changes to constituent elements, more of this, less of that, highlight their thoughts, etc. than request something entirely different, but with this I'm not sure where the story is. If you're just presenting the a feeling of emptiness, or the loss of hope like I think you're trying with this then the writing really needs to be superb, with the prose, language choice, symbolism, flow, emotional tugs, etc. all working really hard to play on the reader, but this didn't manage it (again, I was focusing a lot on description and prose building towards an end in my story, so I’m not trying to be down on that premise.) For me it read like someone fictionalised a far-future wikipedia entry. It's a bit like those in-depth magazine articles where there's a thousand word intro setting out – with a lot of description – the emotion of a situation, and its challenge is to situate the reader in the struggle and significance of the interview, news, opinion, or story to come. There was no real story here. There was nothing to place the reader in the vastness of what was happening, it's importance, or the disappointment in not finding intelligent life. I absolutely do have respect for this type of story. It takes balls to have a quiet piece, with less action, drive, and plot than other stories in TD and look for the telling to bring the reader around to the worthiness of what's written, and to affect them. You didn't manage it with this story, and the only advice I could give is to keep trying. Work more on the little signs of significance in your word choice that alerts the reader to emotional and intellectual key-points that raise the reader's hope or heartbeat. Look to include elements that create a sense of foreboding for the ensuing failure, or whatever the key touchpoint of the writing is, especially something that can be considered significant, and turn the story when the reader is finished with it. With a story where the reader can't focus on any stand-in for themselves, nothing to attach to or relate to (as unrelatable as the entirety of human endeavour is) then it's going to be really hard to pull off. Kudos for trying though, it's something I'd like to see more of in td.

Phobia posted:

Tap Tap
790 Words

There were a fair few problems with this, but the two key aspects that stood out to me were about firming up the viewpoint of the narration so you could tell the story, and following from that how you set out information. There were definitely problems with the prose, but I think a lot of that came down to there being no logical flow of thought for the character (and thus reader) or progression in how the information was presented. There were jumps in the story's progress that you didn't bring me along with. I think the man died a little while ago, out in the snow, because he couldn't get back into the house. The character seems to know this, which is why she's going through what she's going through, but I didn't know that as the reader. For me to go along with what's happening this information needs to be presented to me, and then I need to be shown (even if I have to work for it) that the woman is re-experiencing what's happening. You really need to block out what information is being given to the reader, and figure out what thoughts they'll draw from that before you can move onto the next element of the story. Because you didn't have an even flow in presenting the reader with the plot, the prose came across as stilted and choppy because I was trying to understand what was happening. The knocking at the door is an example of this. Why was she afraid of their being someone at the door? You needed to set that up right at the start, that there's the snow storm, she's miles from the road, but even then I can imagine someone coming to see her. Why won't she get out of the chair to answer the door? Why does she ignore it? Answering a door is a basic thing, even if there is anxiety to it due to being in an isolated situation, so you need to convince me of why it's such a deal in this situation. On the basic premise I'm not too sure a woman reliving a death, or maybe even an actual ghost coming to see her is much of a story, and certainly not original. The prose might carry it through, if you it can be evocative enough, but because the bones of the story didn't work for me in bringing me along I couldn't get to that level of the story.


flerp posted:

931 words

I didn’t sign up to be married to a tree

This was an interesting premise, but I just couldn't connect with it. First off it's missing the thing most desired by publishers and editors; voice. That's almost a good thing, because generally with TD stories they're not to a level where I'm considering authorial voice rather than more elemental aspects of the story. However, I think I'm looking for voice here because there's not much to the story apart from that. I didn't know what the tree signified, or why you chose a tree. I was looking for some deeper meaning for "why a tree?" To me it seemed like you just picked a thing, something that could be in the man's garden that he'd have to see every day and there was no real reason for this choice. There was nothing tree-like about her, and nothing human about the tree, it just didn't make sense to me. Maybe if I had gotten to know something about her, and him, something about their personalities, and desires, and maybe if I'd found a hint of a reason for all this happening, or why this magical symbol it could have helped. With this story I'm just nodding along, thinking, "Ok, she a tree. But why?" Is it a stand in for the memories of the lost wife? Some magic that planted his recollections in the garden? I'm looking for more purpose to all this, and it's not there. With the voice aspect if there was even an element of surrealness to his thoughts and being, or individuality in his situation as shown through the style of writing then maybe I'd but it more. If there was a personality to him I might spin out reasoning for what happened, or allow myself to go with the “randomness.” Really there didn't seem to be much consideration given to the significance of anything in this. I didn't know his motivation, her motivation, the symbolism of the tree meant nothing, nor him sweeping up the leaves or thinking of cutting her down, for me they were razor thin symbols for what he was going through with no real depth. It's possible you didn't want to address this too directly, leaving it to the reader, but for me there was absolutely nothing I could grasp onto. You need some signifiers for me to get under it all, and I found none there.

Chili posted:

Match
1236 Words

I definitely appreciate this, especially as relief to many of the goony stories. It had a nice idea behind it, but it didn't fully achieve on its aims. There was some language choice that threw me off, mainly word selections that didn't entirely work; "sloshed her way," 'slosh' to me is a slightly funny, onomatopoeic word rather than the serious tone this piece was going for, and "ascended the stairs by herself," rather than "climbed the stairs without him," which would be more fitting with the theme of the story; there's a few other word choices, especially at the beginning that didn't fit. As the story progressed there were a few jumps in what was happening where I couldn't fully follow along, e.g. the introduction of the telescope after describing the art piece. I definitely got a somewhat classy feel to this, almost like a perfume ad (but less silly than perfume ads) with climbing the steps of a museum, smart suits, stubbly, jawlined men, and beautiful gowns. The big problem for me was the control over the change between the two characters. It seems like the gallery/museum instigated the change that happened, and as such is a bigger character than you seem to write for. It's also a detached presence, and I wonder why it's doing this, or why it's happening for these characters. The man seems a bit dumbfounded in a, "what did I do now?" kind of way. He doesn't feel entirely deserving of his chance, and I know little about her. They didn't have any drive to change their situation, it was granted to them by the gallery, which felt rather undeserved, with the outside, impartial agent taking control (I can see parallels to your career here.) There was definitely a nice tone to this story with a lot of cultural touchpoints included to set that tone, so my feelings on it are mixed, but ultimately it's a case of me wanting to like this more than actually enjoying it fully, or really quite liking it but having a niggle to the enjoyment. There's a lack of clarity in the authorial intent, and logical progression of the characters' story, so it's a little disappointing that it didn't achieve completely because it had quite a bit going for it. I think this is a story that needs some beta readers to really get it up to full on publishing standard, which is something you should do.


ThirdEmperor posted:

This Town Ain’t Big Enough
- 500 words.

I'm not too sure if this a story that you didn't take as far as you wanted due to time pressure not allowing you to work it up to a full majestic glory, or a hugely personal statement of wild abandon and forthright ambition. I had to read the first sentence three, maybe for times and I'm still not sure if I can get all of what it's saying into a single idea-thread in my mind. There's a mix of sci-fi, and at that an existential idea of science fiction, and characterisation of both the protagonist and town in this. Unfortunately neither the sci-fi device or the characters are wholly fleshed out or clear. Is it saying something about things staying the same; people coming and going through a situation, a town, a place, ideas forming and ideas being forgotten and the entropy of change where nothing really matters. I'm not too sure, there's definitely an attempt at writing a story with a big message here, but there's not enough to hang it on, either in its prose, characters, setting, or theme.

You're adding a sense of flux with descriptions and storytelling where things aren't clear. There's no single weave of the plot thread here. To me you're creating that sense of mystery, wonder and questioning with a lack solid, nailed down prose and progression of your idea, and the lack of clarity in what you're saying. This isn't a good thing. You can't pose the question by having the reader question what's happening, if you want to reader to question an idea, or ponder a thought it has to arise clearly from what you're saying in a direct manner, with firm decisions on what to include and exclude from your storytelling. For me a big part of this confusion was because there wasn't much to hold onto beyond the bones of the story. You need to flesh out more the people, place, idea and theme. The character seems bored and makes videos, but it doesn't tell me much of anything about her. If there was a desire for change, something new, or even a resignation that she can't find anything new it could help lead onto her going to another world, and what the signifies for all human ambition. It needs some sense of her thought, especially for me to put my thought (or response to her feelings) into the story. There's another version of her, which I know nothing about, a rift which I know nothing about, and a town that seemingly wants to be the everyman of small towns. You're relying on tropes and cliches, but you didn't use them well enough to fall back on their significance. For a story that definitely wants to say something you're almost avoiding saying it, instead waving your hands over it and saying "woo" like a magician trying to distract from something. The thing is it's all distraction and no trick.

For this to work I think you need to block out how you're building your story towards the idea you want to talk about. Instead of using loquacious sentences, twisting and turning, and attempting to indicate the largesse of a thought you should pare them down and see how they're working towards the resolution where the reader asks the questions. I'm questioning the telling of the story, with all its sideways complexity attempting to nod at the idea, forcing me to work at understanding, rather than you building me up to ponder what you want to ask in the first place. Really, I think it needs more meat on all of it, and on the idea you want to get across. It can't rely on abstruse storytelling creating a desire to understand, you need to bring me to it, with signs along the way that I'm going to have to do this.

I think it's a good thing you wrote this. It's ambitious, and for me all good writing comes from a challenge to deal with something and you really went for it. For me it didn't work, but I'm glad you did go for it. I’d like more ambition from writers, and more risk. If that means a polarised reaction from not pulling it off for everything I think it’s worth it, because the aim in the first place is laudable.

super sweet best pal posted:

A Divide
454 words

This really doesn't do much, or say much. There's a society, that isn't original, or well described, and a man who they have an issue with who gets annoyed and leaves while yelling at them. It's cliche to say show, not tell, but I always had a hard time with that because everything in writing is literally telling someone something. You're putting words down, how more telling can you get? For this I think you need to not come at everything straight on. You're outlining, rather directly, everything about this society. You're setting out in plain language, although with long meandering sentences, everything that you feel the reader should know about this place. If you could describe it, really going into small detail, writing about what makes up the every day of society it could help. Write about someone's harsh life in cramped housing next to the farmland, or some living under the oppression of, and maybe even a trial based on their military duty, military barracks, and military life spent protecting the borders of a subterranean society. You can let the reader work to build up their own idea of the world by showing telling detail. You don't need to be so forward in getting across everything. You can show smaller details that cast light on a bigger, more complex world. Also, you have long sentences that contain far too much. This doesn't hold my attention, and when the sentences aren't beautifully crafted with depth and nuance I'd much rather something a little punchier with a single well told idea. The same thing happened with the judge's situation, you explicitly stated everything he was going through rather than getting into his thoughts, feelings, him presiding over trials and the personal trials he experienced. Show some of his character, get into his head, and hopes and dreams. All in all you're just saying a man is angry at society, but I feel the society and his anger is entirely irrelevant because I have no relation to anything there, and you didn't give me a reason to establish any feelings on it.

big scary monsters
Sep 2, 2011

-~Skullwave~-


Thanks for the crit! A couple of your points are things I wasn't entirely happy with either, but I couldn't articulate why. (I hope this much response is not breaking thread rules)

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


big scary monsters posted:

Thanks for the crit! A couple of your points are things I wasn't entirely happy with either, but I couldn't articulate why. (I hope this much response is not breaking thread rules)

big scary monsters
Sep 2, 2011

-~Skullwave~-



Thanks for the crit!

Sokoban
Feb 16, 2011




This is good advice to follow, thank you. in btw

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

big scary monsters posted:

Thanks for the crit! A couple of your points are things I wasn't entirely happy with either, but I couldn't articulate why. (I hope this much response is not breaking thread rules)

the main thing that will get you shouted at is explaining why judges don't understand your unique brilliance which I don't think I've seen for literal years, but you can always jump into irc if you want to story chat

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


in

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In

Fuubi
Jan 18, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

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

24 hours (ish) remain to get in for the week.

(This one's only complicated if you're writing more than one story; if you just want to do one it's just pick a prompt and write a small number of words...)

Both co-judge spots are also still open.

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Solitair
Feb 18, 2014


gently caress it I'm IN

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