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Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

HELP! I'VE FAILED AND I CAN'T SUBMIT


Grimey Drawer

Benny Profane posted:

Signups are closed! If you snost and lost, there is a moral to this story.

I'll take Tyranno's orphaned "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" as a flash rule, to complete the circle.

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Aesclepia
Dec 5, 2013
Next verse same as the first.

Thanks for the crits, flerp!

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014


Aesclepia posted:

Thanks for the crits, flerp!

Captain_Indigo
Jul 29, 2007

Smooth soft red velvety lungs.

FuckArabella
Word Count: 1,119
Prompt: Don't say anything you wouldn't want repeated.

In the beginning, there was a word and the word was “FuckArabella”.

It was technically two words, but it was spat with such spite that it became one.

Jehana, the 163rd of the 999, watched his universe spiral out into the void. It undulated like oil in water until it settled into a helix. He watched it through tear-filled eyes. Just as it travelled out of sight, the first stars formed within. Time worked differently across the universes.

Media, placed a hand across his shoulder.

“You're not angry at Arabella,” she said.

“I am,” he muttered sadly.

“No, you're not,” she said kindly. “You're angry at Ixion.”

Jehana sniffed hard and shook his head.

“No, I'm angry at Arabella. gently caress Arabella!”

“You love her, you don't mean that.”

“If I loved her she would love me back. If I loved her, then she wouldn't… with Ixion. He's a dick. We've joked about it for millennia and now he comes sniffing around and suddenly she's all 'oh he's not so bad' and loving… 'you need to get over it'.”

“Maybe she's right?” Media said.

It had been intended as reassurance, but Jehana took it as a betrayal and launched himself deep across the void.

As Jehana weaved his way between the smaller universes, he pretended he was floating aimlessly, but he knew where he was going and it shamed him. It hadn't been a rash decision, or maybe it had been and he didn't care. He hurt and it wasn't fair.

He sailed through the void to a place that was less than void. It was a gaping chasm, a trench in the nothingness filled with negative space. Where he and his kindred represented substance and creation, the entities inside the cave were ghosts of absence.

They laughed and begged and cackled like mad Argonauts. The spectres of antimatter sensed him coming and spilled out of their cleaved home, writing and crawling and falling over one another.

“Why are you here?”

They swam around him, darting close like sharks, then billowing out and floating away like jellyfish. One glancing blow from the unpredictable chaotic things, and he would be ended.

His shame made it hard to look at them, but his fear stopped him from looking away.

“I need somebody… ended.”

The ghosts spiralled into a vortex above him, dancing in a maelstrom fronted by a single antimatter figure. It turned and he felt as if the emptiness was facing him.

“Who?”

“Arabella.”

“Ar-a-bell-a,” they said.

“It can be done, but he who is so full of light and life must give to us. It is so dark and cold and empty here. Feed us.”

The spinning tower of ghosts opened and encased him like a cocoon. He stifled a scream as he found himself in the centre of a bubble of the inverse. He made himself small and shrank into the very middle as the things clawed, desperate for some tiny spark to feed on. He took a breath.

“Eat,” he barely whispered.

The universe that formed at his lips was tiny and contained barely any energy, but the ghosts babbled in awe. They opened a space for him to escape and danced around it, daring to float close enough to taste the tiniest spark of what he had created. As the energy transferred to them, one at a time as a tiny flash or pocket of heat, those affected fell away singing and laughing like animals drunk on fermented fruit.

Jehana fled.

-*-

Arabella noticed the ghost before it came anywhere near her. It was a fuzzy unpleasantness on the borders of her senses. She had felt them before, when she sailed too close to the chasm, but this was different. It was attuned to her personal form.

Then it was upon her, a reeling, shrieking spectre of antimatter. It barrelled towards her, limbs extended. She froze momentarily as the shape clawed for her, and then she was spiralling away from it. Its hands grasped for her, it needed only touch her to infect her with some seed of negativity, to slowly transform her into the void itself.

“What do you want?” she screamed over her back as she moved with the speed of creation. The ghost said nothing, but barked and yapped.

It grew closer and closer, gaining slowly as they weaved like sparrows, rounding pocket universes, heading deeper and deeper into the void. And then it was beside her, not quite touching, but outpacing her in its monstrous, unnatural flight. It crept ahead as they pushed themselves to their limits.

She took a deep breath.

“Die!”

The universe she spat forth was huge. It grew at her lips like a bubble, then launched directly into the ghost. The spectre screamed in ecstasy, grew swollen on the energy, then bloated, then ballooned. Tears appeared inside the antimatter, gaps of nothingness as it thinned and then ripped and then vanished.

-*-

“I found the universe,” she said with a voice that was more tired than angry.

“What?” Jehana stammered.

“I found it. The FuckArabella universe. I felt your creation on the spectre. You fed it you piece of poo poo. When I told Medea, she told me about how pathetic you are. She told me about your universe.”

She opened her palms and revealed the helix. He could hear the whispers of his voice clinging to it like a scent.

“Arabella… I'm sorry, I was angry, I didn't...”

“Look at what you have made,” she said.

Jehana looked into the swirling depths of the universe and saw all. He saw how the stars had formed, how they had been followed by ice and planets and life. Then he saw them, shadowy shapes in the void, beings of creation. He watched as they created universes of their own. He saw himself, some lower level version of himself, spitting the word “FuckArabella” into a universe of its own.

“What do you think the Jehana inside your universe will see when that Arabella brings it back to him? How many infinities of this cycle do you think there are?”

“I...I didn't mean to do it!” he said. “I was just hurt! I'm sorry I went to the ghosts, I'm sorry I...”

“Do you think I care about the ghosts?” she spat. “Do you not understand, Jehana? Do you really believe that you're the first loving rear end in a top hat version of you to spit those words? Our universe, every universe, all the universes repeating down are just this over and over again. This is all there is!”

“You can't know that!” he said.

“I saw it inside this! And I saw what I do next.”

She launched herself across the void, away from him. He floated to the universe, still spinning only light-years away, and glimpsed into it once more. One universe down, he saw her – Arabella, driving herself full speed into the depths of the ghost cave. Vanishing as her body inverted and she became nothing.

“I won't do it again!” he screamed at the Arabella within the universe he had made. “I've learnt my lesson! I'm sorry!”

But it didn't matter.

In the beginning, there was a word and the word was “FuckArabella”.

Exmond
May 31, 2007


im doin it ma im writing

THUNDERDOME


Monster killers and child stealers
Prompt: Always look at the bright side of life
1,196 words

“We aren’t here to steal your kid.” were the last words I managed to say before the concussive force from the lightning bolt hurled me out the window. I fell 30 feet before abruptly landing into the dumpster.

“Smooth move Tex” Peter’s voice echoed in my mind “Do I need to call the med-mage?”

I groaned and placed a hand on the slimy mattress that I had landed on. Taking a look at my luck charm, now a burnt crisp of pennies and four-leaf clovers, I said “I’m fine but it looks like my “Luck” just ran out.”

I didn’t need a psychic link to know that Peter was rolling his eyes in reaction to the pun. I chuckled and doubled over as my ribs made their displeasure known. Thanks to the charm and my reinforced magick security jacket I had survived. A tall black man peered over the dumpster lid and my partner, Peter, gave me a hand up to get out of the dumpster.

“We going in loud this time?” Peter asked.

“Give me another try. I think he can be reasoned with”

Peter shook his head and peered up at the large hole on the 3rd floor of the apartment building. “You get one more try” He cocked the shotgun letting me know what would happen if I didn’t succeed.

I unlocked the trunk of our car, grabbed my shotgun and some bean bag rounds. As I made my way to the apartment complex door Peter tugged on our psychic link. I turned around with an annoyed look.

“You have a banana peel on your head”


***


I entered the apartment complex alone as Peter looked for an alternative way in. An old lady noticed me walking up the stairs, took one look at my uniform, and rushed back into her apartment. Child Protection Services didn’t get the warmest reception even before the magick had arrived. Now we have to deal with goblins, harpies and all type of other monsters. Add in some racism, gung-ho legislators and the result is CPS got “upgraded” to be able to deal with monsters. Monster killers and child stealers was our reputation now. It didn’t help that the head of CPS was the bogeyman. Sometimes it’s hard to get up in the morning and try to make a difference. But I had a good reason. A loud booming voice interrupted my train of thought.


“Hurry Margarita, Daddy is going to take you on a trip! We are going to Disneyland just like you always wanted.”

“I’m sleepy Daddy”

I ran down the hallway and saw a child letting out a large yawn, her tiny tusks looking adorable, as her father noticed me. He cursed and yanked her back into the room and then levelled a wand at me.

“YOU AREN’T TAKING HER!” He bellowed and raised the wand. I ducked around the corner as the wall behind me exploded in a shower of fire and plaster. I peeked, saw the coast was clear and rushed into the apartment. Bottles of chemicals sprayed out over the landing area forming a chemist’s wet dream. There were enough drugs scattered in the apartment to start your own criminal empire, hardly the place to raise a kid. I carefully walked further in.

“As I was saying Richard, we aren’t here to steal your kid. We want to give her a better life than this!” I motioned to the kitchen table full of mouldy dishes and condolence letters.

Richard burst through a bedroom door and into the living room. I barely had time to dive under the kitchen table before another lightning bolt sizzled in the air. I flipped the kitchen table over using it as cover and looked behind me. No windows to fall out of this time.

“My wife can take care of her,” Richard said as he slung lightning bolts in my direction, every bolt slung with an angry flick of his wrist.

“We both know that’s not going to happen.” A young orkess with a needle in her arm and lifeless eyes flashed in my mind. A lightning bolt hit the ground next to me and the condolence letters started to burn “How exactly is killing me going to help your daughter!”

I got a lightning bolt hurled at me for my trouble. Things weren’t looking good, I couldn’t get a shot off, not with all the lightning in the air. With my luck bracelet burnt out, I couldn’t count on luck either. The kitchen table rocked and pushed against my back as another lightning bolt smashed against it.

A child’s cry rang out from the bedroom as Peter tugged on our psychic link. Richard turned to the bedroom door and I rushed forward. I tripped over the freaking kitchen table and Richard whirled to face me. I fired a shot and the bean bag arced over the lightning bolt. The round slammed Richard in the arm as the bolt scorched my leg. Ignoring the pain I slammed the butt end of my shotgun into Richard’s stomach. As he went down I cuffed him.

“God drat IT,” Richard said as he struggled to get up. I put a boot on his back and sent a confirmation to Peter over our psychic link. Peter was with Margarita consoling her and making sure she was all right. Peter may be a bit of a sarcastic rear end in a top hat but he was better than me with kids, hell almost everybody was better than me with kids.

Richard looked up at me, tears starting to form up in his eyes, as he realized it was the end. “I hosed up. Just let me go. Take the drugs take the money just let me take my baby girl and get out of here.”

“Not gonna happen,” I said as I stared out at the drugs, misery and death that he peddled. “You're going to go away from a long time.” The words sounded hollow as I saw a younger me pleading very much the same thing to an officer.

Peter stepped out from the bedroom and looked slowly at me and Richard. He raised one eyebrow and motioned to his shotgun.

“Two things can happen Richard. We can haul you away and you go in for due processing.” I glared up at Peter “Or you can piece yourself together and you can say goodbye to your daughter. Then we haul you away for due processing.”

Peter let out a sigh as Richard looked up at me like a man sentenced to death. I cut him off before he could say anything.

"We live in a lovely world. Just focus on the one thing that matters in your life. Then do whats best for them." I looked at the bedroom with reverence. “Take the second option, otherwise you will live the rest of your life regretting it”

A little while later the bedroom door opened and Peter escorted Margarita to Richard’s side. Richard held onto her like she was the only thing that mattered. I looked back and saw a man who hadn’t repeated the mistakes I had before. I had made a difference.

Taciturn Tactician
Jan 26, 2011

The secret to good health is a balanced diet and unstable healing radiation


Lipstick Apathy

Fighting Words
Word count: 1110
Prompt: Old habits die hard


My wedding was the happiest day of my life.

I’d been a blue collar girl my whole life. The whole manual labour deal. Fixing things. Lifting things. Moving things. I was a bit of a punk, too. Always fond of getting into scraps. Mary, on the other hand, was a teacher at a private school. Not exactly rich, but in a different segment of society than me. Elegant. Beautiful.

We only even met because she happened to like a cafe near a place I was working. We only even spoke because I happened to order the same thing as her one day.

And yet, we managed to fall in love. It shouldn’t have been possible, but through little conversations, through both of us finding excuses to meet the other, we got to know each other, and eventually realized we both wanted more than friendship.

She’s always hated me fighting. On our wedding day, I promised to stop. It seemed like the thing to do. I was a respectable, married woman now. I shouldn’t be scuffling in the dirt any more.

For a while, it was as simple as that.

It was a month later that someone in bar started saying things about Mary they had no right to. Calling her stuck up, calling her a prissy little princess. It made me angry. I couldn’t let it stand, so I made it go away the way I’d always made things go away. I didn’t even think about my promise until the fight was already over and the adrenaline ebbed.

I’d caught a couple hits in the fight, but the look on her face when I got home was the real punch in the gut.

I promised to do better. And in a way, I did. It was a few months before the next time.

It was five next times later before the breaking point.

She doesn’t say anything as she dabs gently at my face with gauze. Normally, she’d be furious. Normally, she’d yell at me. But today she’s silent. Somehow that’s worse than her shouting. It’s bad enough when I disappoint her and she’s upset. But her being resigned to it, to the point where she isn’t even disappointed anymore? That’s far worse.

“Ah!” I hiss in pain as she touches a particularly sensitive cut. The silence broken, Mary finally says something, the first words since she saw me and stopped part way through “Welcome home.”

“Do you really love it that much?” Her voice is another dagger in my heart. There’s no anger in it; no righteous fury at my continual misbehaviour. Just sadness and resignation. It’s the sort of voice you hear after test results come in. In near silent locker rooms when no one is taking home a trophy.

“It’s not like that,” I say quietly. It’s a stupid thing to say. It isn’t enough to explain anything. It isn’t enough to justify anything. It’s a petty “nu-uh”, a meaningless denial.

“Then did your promise really mean that little to you? Did you ever intend to keep it?”

I wish she was angry. I wish this was something she was screaming at me; something she said because she was mad and lashing out. But it isn’t. It’s something she’s asking because she really doesn’t know the answer.

“I did!” I say, wincing at how forceful my voice comes out as. She doesn’t deserve to be yelled at. She’s not the one who did anything wrong. “...I did. It’s not that easy.”

Not everything is that straightforward. I can’t just stop getting into fights the way a smoker can toss their packs. A fight isn’t something you need both people’s consent for. If someone throws down, a fight happens.

… That’s an excuse. I could run away. I could start going to the police, and scare them off. I don’t have to follow the unspoken rules if I really want to stop.

But when someone comes at me, starts hitting me, starts insulting my wife, I can’t just back down. It’s not in my nature.

“Amber…” Mary’s voice is sad. “I can’t keep seeing you like this.”

I grit my teeth. “Please,” I manage. I don’t know how that sentence is supposed to finish. I don’t think she does either. But we both know what I mean.

Mary is silent again.

“This can’t keep happening,” she finally says.

This time I’m silent. I know she’s right. I don’t know what to do about it.

I want to say something. I want to say it will never happen again. I want to say that I’ll stop. I want to say that of course she means more to me than some stupid fights over pride.

But I’ve said it all before. I’m out of promises. Out of chances.

All I can do was apologize and hope that I won’t screw up again.

“I’m sorry, Mary,” I say.

She doesn’t say anything. Then, or for the rest of the evening. We eat in silence. I do some mending in silence while she silently grades papers. We go to bed in silence. I’m not stupid enough to try anything, but even my attempt to curl up to her is rebuffed, and she gently pushes me away, leaving us on our sides staring at opposite walls.

Things are a little frosty for a few days. Eventually, we get back to normal, mostly. There’s still an invisible distance I’m too afraid to try and cross. Each day it gets a little smaller. Maybe she’s just waiting to see if can stay out of fights.

It’s a week after the last time when someone gets belligerent while me and some co-workers are out drinking. They say some stupid poo poo. I get the urge to punch them, but I don’t. Then they punch me.

Any other time, that’d be it. But instead of throwing a punch, I grab my eye and yell, and the bouncers come and throw them out. Everyone’s shocked. I tell them Mary doesn’t want me fighting any more. They joke about how she’s gonna leave me soon if that’s an issue. I don’t laugh. It’s too close to truth.

I get home and Mary sees the eye.

“It’s not like that,” I say. “Mary, I didn’t fight anyone.”

I’m starting to get a little excited as it hits me. I did it. I actually didn’t fight anyone. “Mary, a guy hit me, but I didn’t fight him.”

Mary smiles a little. It’s not forgiveness. But it’s somewhere. It’s the first step down a long road.

Someday, I’ll get back to the point when she’ll always be happy to see me come home.

Taciturn Tactician fucked around with this message at Sep 10, 2017 around 22:24

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



Sema
1173 words

Even if you're a bind pig you should keep searching because you might find an acorn once in a while.

"We're waiting for you here on the Exo-Moon," Natisha says with flushed cheeks. The we implies that she specifically will be waiting, like on the landing ramp, maybe with other nymphs. Other ad actresses, picked because they stand out amongst other nymphs in a recursive attention loop. "Come live your new life!" She says this last part with a dumb, vacant smile.

Then she signs out of the feed-stream. Always cut out the second the message is delivered. It's the nymph way.

#

She was using her phone to record. She accesses the feed-stream as a passive now, looking up to see her popularity as a third person interact. She's up five hundred points, so ticket sales to the Exo-Moon must have jumped after her ad. Nerds won't go to the actual moon, but they'll go to the Exo-Moon if they think nymphlike girls will be waiting there. Then when they get to the Exo-Moon they'll be met by nerds like themselves, and it'll be too late. Too late to do anything but add to the Exo-Moon's fast evolving infrastructure.

She's done her part for the Exo-Moon, and the Tide 2.0 system. The bougies will enjoy calmer waves on their beaches.

It's not enough. She stares at the Sema role, hovering in and out of her role feed like a moth near flame. Those endless halls. The character might be trapped, but for Natisha it means endless possibility.

Walking forever, like we walk endless in our own lives, searching for meaning. Something like that, Natisha thinks, is true art.

To be a real actress, an amesh, acting in a compiler, a scripted holograph auto-compiled from a novel's text. Something deeper, something truer, than Exo-Moon nerd bait.

She sighs, puts her phone in the pocket of her frilled dress, and leaves her room.

#

Outside, rain is pouring over the country-complex of Miam-e. The rain pours even over the Second Tier that she's moved to. It doesn't stop until you hit bougie level on the Third Tier, the one they say looks like the Garden of Eden. But getting out of the First Tier had its rewards. Like not getting shot over the price of a lychee tea.

She buys a cherry flavour from the shoppe, sips it pensive. She's heading for the public feed-stream, her short hair plastered to her forehead. Deft as she tries to move, she still bumps into people, who are all heading the same way. They're a river that flows to the feed-stream, which she can see from here because of the rainfall's part. Whoever is in charge of the weather control system has decided to part the rain for the feed-stream, in hopes of getting more people to watch. But Natisha would watch a Christine Gifford compiler in the rain. Maybe, some part of her thinks, that would make it better.

The feed-stream's holograph breaks in the rainfall part like a wide sunbeam. She sips her lychee tea slow while watching, saving it so the two experiences can enmesh. The compiler stars Gifford, with long hair, a thick jacket, short shorts and boots, as a hacker trying to take down an insidious corporation. The premise is hollow, but Gifford is perfect. She's cloud-thin, starved to add to the oppressiveness of the film's tone. Her bones stand out in the stream's holographs, her skin pale, nails ragged.

#

Her image stays with Natisha as she walks home. After midnight, the country-complex's psychedelic washout fades. The rain becomes like a guide for the blind, the only reminder you're still alive. Natisha just closes her eyes and feels for moments. What happens next might be destiny, or might have, she knows later, been someone watching from above knowing what she wants.


There's a slip of paper under her platform shoe. She bends down to pick it up, the rain striking her back like knives. She knows by the pinkish hue it's an access slip. Only question is what to.

"Explore Christine Gifford," the slip reads. "Star of such compilers as Electric Heart."

She bites her tongue.

#

Fifteen minutes later she's back in her apartment. It's never seemed so small. She's so small-time. She feels incorporeal, just waiting to fall back into the wretched world she left behind. She opens her phone up, the bright colours of the feed-stream spilling out. She navigates to the portal address written on the access slip.

Christine Gifford is solid, like the small black bubbles in the Lychee Tea she finished with the compiler, threw into the refuse eater like the remains of a world she'd never understand.

She doesn't understand what she's seeing now. It's Christine, but not how she knows her. It's Christine's pale naked body with lines running from her wrists and ankles. She can see a blue liquid pumping through the tubes. The light from the lines shades her room blue, like it's being flooded.

She doesn't understand, but she explores every inch of Christine. One of Christine's fingernails is untrimmed and she touches the cartilage. When she does the holograph explodes into fragments, pink spreading in ribbons, collapsing back when she moves away. She traces a line across Christine's arm, seeing the swell and flow of it, washing across her own skin, crackling like lightning. More lines across her thighs, her knees. Rotating the holograph view around, tracing her back. Natisha doesn't stop until she's used it all up, her curiosity, the wanderlust in her fingers.

When she's finished she turns off the display. She stays in bed, holding her phone, feeling its sleek cold metal. She sits there and thinks.

#

The blue lines were feeding her some kind of drug. This is how amesh live, IVed on drugs while the rest of their world compiles around them. Amesh aren't actresses. The compilers act for them, their reactions as scripted as the rest of the compiler's plot.

She thinks about it until she's sure she's got it. Her phone is flashing. She looks at the message. It's a question, yes/no answer. Do you want to be an amesh?

She thinks about it as the rain falls endless over Miam-e's streets. It comes down like God is trying to wash them out in torrents, but it's just a person on the other end. Just a bougie regulating the world's hydration. And on the Exo-Moon, she knows, they do it the same way. If they built more Exo-Moons, they'd do it the same way too.

She turns on her feed-stream. Nymphs are selling clothing, food, electronics. Just consumables. The Sema role hovers in and out of her role feed. It still hasn't been filled.

To walk endless halls, with a fire burning in your chest. All artificial, all compiled, all IVed, but the fire would still burn. The rain would be gone.

She sighs, dismisses it. What else is there for a nymph?

She navigates to the Exo-Moon's immigration page and begins to fill it out, fingertips dancing in spirals like they did over Christine's skin.

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

What Kind of Fool

698 words

[i]Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.[\i]

I’m hanging from the edge of a three-story building roof, ribs cracked, losing grip by the second. My only friend is standing in front of me, holding out his hand and wearing an insufferable grin on his rabbit face. His name is Norman. People say he's just in my head, but I'm pretty sure that he's real.

= = =

Norman’s not a giant rabbit. Let’s be clear. He’s a person who happens to have the head of a giant rabbit. Everything else is perfectly normal: spindly long legs, short muscled arms with tattoos of squids and dragons and such. His body’s normal too, and I’d say his junk’s probably just plain human too except he’s never shown it to me. We aren’t that kind of friends. But I assume it is.

Norman first showed up when I was straightening myself up, after Chrissie’s OD. He stood there, whiskers twitching away like a Geiger counter at a bomb test while the police asked question after question, not seriously sweating me, just passing time until someone could come around and take away the body. Hours later everyone else was gone, leaving me and Norman alone. Only then did he start talking.

Norman helped me kick H, got me on to booze instead. All natural, all legal, practically good for you, right? They say no one kicks alone, but I haven't touched heroin or any of the hard stuff since, so Norman has to be real.

I don't know why I even ever doubt it. Probably the huge rabbit head. But maybe the guy just has a skin condition. Be rude to even bring it up.

Lately he’s been a huge help. Whenever I'm broke and thirsty, which is pretty often, while I'm sleeping he goes out and gets a dozen or so bottles. He even got me a gun the other day. Thoughtful. This neighborhood isn't safe.

Sometimes he plays tricks on me. One time he set me up with a girl, you know, the kind you pay for. Only she looked so much like Crissie I just started crying and crying, and he was standing there laughing at me, and she started to leave and I tried to grab her arm but missed and ended up throwing up all over her shoes. After she ran out the door we laughed and laughed. Well, mostly just him.

He played another good trick on me this morning. There was noise outside, and be said to me “The Diablos are coming to mess you up.”

“Why?” I said.

“I may have ripped them off yesterday. But get this,” he said, buck-teeth chittering, “They’re setting up at the wrong door.”

So I grabbed the gun and burst out my door shooting. Dropped two before they knew what was happening, the third before he could fire his weapon. Only they weren't wearing Diablos colors. Just blue.

“Those guys weren't bangers, they were cops,” I said.

“I know,” said Norman. “And you fell for it.” Each word stretched out, sing-song.

It was a good joke. And he owed me one. I drank every bit of the last set of bottles he got me, didn't even offer a swig.

So I ran for it. Didn't make it far before the police found me and started chasing. I went to the rooftops. Made one jump, building to building, over a narrow alley. Tried another and slammed the top of the wall, barely grabbing on to the ledge. Somehow he got there before me, made the jump just fine, even without rabbit legs.

= = =
I'm barely hanging on, but Norman has reached out to help. I let go of the ledge with my right hand and grab for Norman's hand. I think I’ve made contact, but my arm is claiming wildly, grasping nothing but a rabbit’s foot keychain.

“Can't believe I got you again,” he’s saying as my left hand slips off the ledge. “Good luck, schmuck.”

So I’m falling, seems like forever. With my luck, I probably won’t die. Just end up both in jail and crippled. But I’m smiling. Because now I know for sure Norman's real.

He just called me a schmuck.

And I don't even speak Yiddish.

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

HELP! I'VE FAILED AND I CAN'T SUBMIT


Grimey Drawer

The Adventures of [Protagonist]
1023 words

Adventuring is a nasty business, my father always told me. Sword-deep in the mercenary I hired is when I realize my father was right. I can hardly tell whose blood covers me anymore, but I don’t think it matters, because how am I going to get home with the jewels?

*

Look, you can’t just– Yes, I understand dragons don’t just rain from the sky, but I’ve heard rumors. I don’t care if it hurts. Okay, listen here you stupid elf. You are going to continue guiding us, or else I’m going to snap your other arm and use you as bait. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

*

It is with few regrets that I pen these final hours of my life. Necromancy is no option I would take, even if I were more versed in its masteries. I have lived full, joyously, and with an open mind, unlike my rival. I hope that, should my laboratory be discovered, you heed my words:

*

Twice she’s stolen from us, no more. If that brat isn’t dead or wishing she was dead by the end of the day, you knuckleheads will replace her. And this time, no setting anything on fire! It’s too conspicuous.

*

Merchants are supposed to be clever, so why am I so stupid? Of course the injured traveler was just faking it! Oldest sob story in the book, ‘oh I got betrayed and now I’m injured, oh no please help me!’ and I fell for it! Of course first thing in the morning he’s gone, along with my food. Now I’m going to starve out here while chasing after him.

*

Tasty humans. Remember what High Dragon tell me. Burn, then eat. Burn, then eat. Pointy bits bad. Could I burn them while eating?

Augh, pointy bits! Die humans, burn burn burn!

*

I don’t know where I am, but at least I got away from those goons. There’s some kind of note on the wall. Oh well, no time to learn reading on the street. There’s all these weird looking potions, I heard those are supposed to be expensive. Could they help me escape?

*

Dispatch the entire archer league! Rally the knights! Forget the conscripts, they’ll just panic. Give me the Magi-Phone. Thank you. OKAY TROOPS, WE HAVE A SEVERE CASE OF ILLEGAL DRAGONRY SOUTH OF THE CITY. CHARGE! IN AN ORDERLY FASHION!

*

Can’t say I’m too upset. Sure, arm’s still broke and dragonfire is killing everyone, but at least everyone includes those ruffians. Adventurers are nasty folk, my mother always told me. Wait, what’s that coming out of the ground?

*

Boss, we didn’t have nothing to do with the fire.

Yeah Boss, it’s all the dragon’s fault.

That’s right, that flying lizard. Please don’t hurt us.

Yeah! We’ll catch the girl still.

Why you taking out your, uh, crossbow?

*

What kind of stupid merchant only carries apples? I almost wish I didn’t steal from him, I’d be more heroic that way. It’s okay though, I still have the jewels and the city isn’t too far now.

Is that the army? Is that a dragon?! And why is the ground shaking?

*

Stupid pointy humans, I melt you all! Melt, melt, melt in my mouth!

Humans shooting themselves out the ground now? Snack delivery? But it’s only a little human!

*

The Grand Merchant’s life changed when he witnessed the dragon attack. The exact sequence of events were so ludacris as to demand recording. The printing of this tale made him the wealthiest person on the entire continent, to date the highest recorded valuation for a bushel of apples. Without further ado:

*

That’s right, I’m a talking crossbow, so what? Just because I’m your tool doesn’t mean I want your grubby hands all over me. Hey, are you even listening? Oh, pointing me at a dragon, that’s actually quite heroic of you, very worthy of my splendor. I appr– wait, you’re aiming at the girl? I demand you put me down this instant!

*

I can feel everything. I can do anything. I am everything. Rising from the earth, I use my momentum to slam into the dragon. Yes, perfect. After this is over, I will need to find a different body, this girl’s mind is too fragile to house mine. Looks like I get the last laugh over that old fool in the end. Oh, a crossbow bolt? You think that could stop me, the All Powerf–

*

Jewels. Girl falling from the sky. Jewels. Girl falling from the sky. Girl. I’m better than some mercenary. I’m an adventurer! Distressed maidens are the highest calling, my father always told me.

*

I might not be the bravest, I might have only one working arm, and I might die if I leave this rock, but that little girl falling from the sky needs my help. I’m better than some adventurer. I’m an elf!

*

Sir, reporting on the situation. The dragon appears to be diving for some bag left by a man. We suspect he may be trying to lure the dragon using gems or gold, sir. It’s the perfect opportunity to attack.

*

Aha! No mere crossbow can kill me! I’ve even managed to jump to the fool who thought he could do it. Now, to plan world domination…

Is my crossbow talking to me?

*

Immense pressure on laboratory roof detected. Brute force entry suspected. Entity analyzed: Dragon. Engaging self-destruct protocols. Thank you for using Magi-Tech.

*

Did Boss’ crossbow just turn around and shoot him?

Yep.

Did the the dragon just explode?

Yep.

We should go.

Yep.

*

It is with great honor that I award these brave adventurers with medals and gold for the protection our fine city from the dragon menace. Please clap.

*

New mom and dad are fighting again. At least I can ignore them while I write in you, diary. I still don’t remember how I helped stop the dragon, but I’m sure it had something to do with that weird potion I drank. If only I could have read that note back then.

I wonder if I’ll have a little brother, or a little sister.

*

Hello? Abandoned talking crossbow here. Helped stop the real bad guy? Hello?

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

Old Breed
1057 words

You squeeze the throttle and the engine burbles as the fishing boat slips quietly from the dock. The lake is glass, and the rising sun casts no heat upon the water. You pull your old denim jacket tight around you.

Today is your ninety-second birthday. Later your son will come over with his brood of children and grandchildren, drink too much beer, berate his new wife or new girlfriend, tell raunchy jokes at which only he laughs. The little ones will ask you about the war. How many people did you kill? What was it like being taken prisoner? Your son will make a joke about Korean whores. Maybe this year he'll make it though dinner without passing out at the table.

Maybe.

All that is ahead of you. Now it's just you and the lake. And your fish.

The tin boat wobbles as you steer it towards the lagoon. The water ahead is deep and choked with reeds. Perfect for fish. You reach into your tackle box but curse as a barbed hook rakes against the back of your hand. Pulling back sharply, you bring your hand to your mouth as the gash opens and blood weeps out. The taste of iron fills your mouth and

everything is happening too fast to think

"Get up here!" Jackson yells. "Gimme smoke!"

Scrambling up the ridge, knees and shins bloodied by broken roots and debris, you unclip the grenade and hurl it towards the pillbox. Jackson's machine gun thunders in your ear as he pummels the Japanese fortification.

"Jesus gently caress are you slow!" Jackson's eyes are wide, unfocused. He grabs the WP grenade from the satchel and charges forward into the billowing smoke and

you blink and the goddamn blood thinners make the gash on your hand bleed worse that it should. You find an old rag on the bottom of the boat and press it down, hard. It seems to help, for now.

A heavy splash in the reeds ahead. You grab the blood-flecked lure and though the cold air and pain in your joints work against you it soon sails over the water. With a quiet splash the lure sinks down into the black. Where you know he is waiting.

The long years have taught you to be patient. You don't reel in right away. You know he's curious. You just have to give it more time.

Time is the key.

And there it is: that familiar tug. Sharp, probing. Your throat tightens. You'll only get one chance to set the hook. Another tug and you snap the rod up and

the explosion knocks you backwards

and Jackson is a black outline against the white smoke, and he's jumping up and down, but it's not his screaming that you hear, it's the Japanese soldiers pouring out of the back of the pillbox, exploding ammo belts ripping them apart and then the 47mm shells in the pillbox detonate and chunks of concrete rain down the hillside around you and

you set the hook, and he's caught on the far end of your line, and he's big. Feels like the biggest fish you've ever caught on this lake and goddamn if you're going to let this one get away. You'll bring it in and show everyone at the party that even though you're goddamn ninety-two years old you can still fish, and you'll clean it right in front of everyone with your old trench knife which you'll pull down from the case where you keep it next to your medals and

your eyes burn like white coals but though the smoke you see a Japanese soldier running

and so you stumble to your feet and chase him across the ragged bramble. You don't stop and aim and shoot, that doesn't seem right. He's injured: one arm ends just below the shoulder in a riot of blood and fabric and tissue. He's screaming too, probably, but you can't hear him because your ears aren't working right. Then you're on top of him and your knife presses hard on his throat and you're looking right into his eyes, wild and primal, and he's gasping and crying out in words you don't understand,. Your knife hand is slick with sweat as you press down and

a final heave and you've got him up to the boat. You scoop him in your net and pull him aboard. He flips and twists, spines puncturing fresh wounds in your hands as you try to hold him down to remove the hook. You finally get two hands on him and press him firmly down onto the metal floor of the boat.

He's a beauty. Deep sea-green with ochre flecks, smooth and muscular and perfect. And big, too—easily seven pounds.. His mouth works in desperate gasps as he tries to draw water over his gills, and you realize you are breathing just as hard, in unison with your prey, and yet his eyes are still, unmoving, so very different from the last time

when you carve a deep furrow in the soldier's neck, blood pouring our, and you've killed him, and then you look up and see Jackson, fifteen yards away kneeling over a Japanese corpse, hacking away at his scalp, grinning, laughing gleefully, as the others rush up the slope, and your trench knife is in your hand, inked with fresh blood, and you aren't thinking, you just want this goddamn war to end, and so you begin to cut, too, and

a great blue heron bobs it's head on the shore, regarding you, it's blue crown rippling gently in the morning breeze.

The water is still and peaceful, broken only by the small waves you caused in your battle against the fish. He lies on the floor of the boat and has stopped his struggle. He is tired.

And so are you. Sometimes things just have to end.

With a twist, you pull the lure from his mouth. His body spasms hard, desperate, as if anticipating your next move. But you don't. Carefully, almost lovingly, you ease the great beast over the gunwale and down into the water. The sun has risen and the water glows a soft pink. With barely a ripple the fish disappears back into the depths.

Sometimes things just have to end.

To end.

Moral: Old sins cast long shadows.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


Thranguy posted:

Let sleeping dogs lie.

People Vanish Every Day
1096 words

There were invisible men in the street. They poured out of an invisible van, armed with invisible weapons, and grabbed the invisible woman from her car. She gave a wordless scream as drivers edged their way around the non-crisis. Her hands gripped at the grey-haired man in the passenger’s seat, then her driver’s seat, then the door. Then, she was too far away to grab onto anything. There was blood beneath her broken fingernails. Her screams became rough and ragged as she approached the dark interior of the van.

Venter’s mother pulled up the window and turned out of the school zone. Venter twisted in his seat to look at the woman’s grey-haired passenger. The man remained frozen in his seat but his face was wild and tear-streaked.

A smiling teacher watched as they pulled away.

“What was that?” Venter said. His book bag sat forgotten on the backseat. His school-time daydreams vanished back into the recesses of my mind.

She flipped on the radio. Soft rock seeped through the car speakers. “She was unproductive, Venter.”

He chafed against the seat belt, pushing against it until the belt clicked and locked. He nudged the back of her seat. “No, Mom, what was that?”

In the reflection of the rearview mirror, Venter caught his mother’s gaze. Her knuckles went white on the steering wheel.

“Venter,” she said, in slow, deliberate syllables, “do you know why Uncle Connor is staying with us?”

His heart thudded into his throat.

***

Uncle Connor had arrived under the guise of Father Christmas bringing small presents, but Venter had doubted the story from the beginning. His uncle’s gifts had been dollar-store trinkets wrapped in odd newspaper. Venter had struggled disguise his disappointment with sing-song politeness, but it hadn’t mattered. Uncle Connor had spent the entire holiday smoking and watching the news. He smelled like smoke and mildew.

Like a hobo, Venter told himself. He smelled like a dirty hobo.

The Christmas visit had stretched into January. Then January had stretched into the summer. His uncle never left the house or went near the windows. Friends weren’t allowed to come over anymore, which was fine. Their parents were too worried to let them play anyway. His mother had to take a second job so that she could support an extra person in the house. That was fine too. Venter barely cared. His mother was what his new teacher called, “productive.”

“Do you know anyone who is unproductive or misbehaving? His teacher said at the end of classes, smiling at all the wrong moments. She had arrived after the sudden retirement of Venter’s old teacher and knew more about politics than math. “Who here wants to make their community better?”

***

Venter’s mother cleared her throat and turned at an intersection. A book fell off the back seat and disappeared into the darkness beneath it, mixing with dirt and PopTart crumbs. Venter made a move to grab it, but his head swirled.

“Uncle Connor has to stay with us because some people think he’s not a productive member of society.” She spoke carefully, like a student who had been taught a lesson many, many times. “When people aren’t productive they get… taken away. That’s why it’s so important that no one know he’s staying with us.”

The radio sputtered out a hazy pop song.

She stopped at a red light and turned in her chair. “Venter, promise me that you won’t get involved with what we saw today. I need you to promise that you’ll stay away from those vans. There have been too many lives ruined by those things. There’s no need to create problems for other people, especially when there’s no need to get involved.”

Venter’s throat felt dry. The light turned from red to green. A horn honked behind him.

Making promises was easy as a kid.

So was spilling secrets.

***

There were nights when Venter’s mother sounded like one of the unproductive people that his teacher talked about. After she thought Venter had gone to sleep, his mother and Uncle Connor talked about money and politics.

“I can’t keep doing this, Con.” In the night, their voices seemed to drift and sway. Liquid sloshed into a glass. “People are starting to ask questions about how much I’m working and I don’t know how much more I can handle.”

“It’ll only be a little longer, Linda,” Uncle Connor whispered, but his voice was sharp and brittle. Impatient. Venter hated him more for it.

In the silence, Venter heard the drone of a television station that was more static than words. There were sounds of some distant battle. Some politician giving a speech.

His mother sighed. “Sometimes, I think they’re right. Sometimes, I think that if we had just kept our heads down and worked hard…”

Glass clinked against wood. Footsteps moved across carpet. “What do you think they are going to do after they round up all the nutjobs and delinquents? Do you think you can pretend everything’s fine? That everything will go away so long as you play by the rules?”

Half-asleep, Venter imagined his teacher sitting in the darkness and smiling. Do you know anyone unproductive, Venter?

There were too many teeth in her mouth.

***

The sky had turned a bruise blue by the time Venter’s mother dropped him off at the house. The streetlamps rattled in the firm, autumn breeze.

“Are you going to be okay?” She asked, mercifully leaving out alone with Uncle Connor. His mother moved the smiley muscles of her face, but there was no joy. “I can take you with me, if you want. I know the hospital isn’t the most exciting place in the world, but there’s a pop machine in the break room.”

Venter tightened his grip on his book bag and held something bitter back behind his eyes. He opened my mouth, but instead of crying, he said. “It’s okay, Mom. I’ll survive.” He took a breath. “I love you.”

She tensed the muscles of her face again. He tried not to wonder if he would ever see her smile again. “I love you too, honey.”

Venter waited until the car had disappeared before throwing himself toward the house. “Uncle Connor!” He threw his book bag, not caring where it landed. Books spilled out of an unzipped pocket. Darkness consumed him as he ran up the stairs. “Uncle Connor! Uncle Connor!”

***

Somewhere, a van moved down an empty street. A squadron of men readied their weapons. Storm clouds crackled as neighbors locked their doors and closed their eyes.

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

archived.

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at Oct 31, 2017 around 22:05

Benny Profane
Feb 23, 2012



Submissions are closed.

WELL JEEZ HERE WAS ME, THINKING "BOY OH BOY, I SURE AM GLAD THAT ON A DARK AND STORMY DAY I'LL HAVE SIXTEEN WONDERFUL STORIES TO READ" BUT I GUESS NINE IS THE NEW SIXTEEN

there is probably a moral to this story.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Sorry, Benny.

Last call
563 words
Sam’s arm came off while she was reaching under the bar for cleaning supplies. She swore, the harsh consonants lingering in the air of the empty bar as the appendage flopped noisily into the mop bucket.

Every time. Goddamn budget brand cybernetics, meshweave wouldn’t hold since day one. Not that it mattered, she’d run plenty of bars without it - only working for a chain would they decide to engineer your body to keep the customers comfortable.

gently caress company policy, she thought. Nobody was coming in this late anyway. Give the arm some time to drip dry while she cleaned the place up.

She switched the music over to something louder, crunchier, pushing the volume control past regulation limits. The rumble of the bass rebuilding her, flowing into the cracks and dents left by the days the day’s interactions had left, filling them with a golden warmth.

Cleaning is easy if the music is loud enough. She flushed the espresso machine out, wiped down the bar and started on mopping the floors. All the tech in the world and people want beer or coffee and a place to spill it.

Five minutes from closing time Sam flipped off the display outside, cutting the animated shamrock’s bobbing mid-motion and sending it into the flat black void. She poured herself a half pint. There was nothing in the manual that allowed for it, but having a staffie was an unwritten right.

The door opened. Sam couldn’t help glaring at the black space of the opening doorway.

///

Angus couldn’t see far ahead of him. The rain and the tears made the streetlights and signscreens all blur together, splashes of colour bleeding across the dark, wet street. Both poured down his face, mixing with the snot and blood from his nose. Salt, warmth, iron, cold on his lips.

Shitheads, he thought. Fuckin’ shitweasels jumped him. Again. It wasn’t a mugging, not really. They took his shoes, but it was more an afterthought. He’d always attracted a kind of hostility, but the beatings were new.

He couldn’t go home though, not yet. Keith would still be awake, and he’d rather not listen to Keith’s views on Angus’ inability to defend himself.

The green aura outside the bar up on the corner blinked out as he approached it. It was loud though, loud was good right now. He tried the door, a rolling wave of drums and synths and guitars pouring out as the cold and wet rushed in.

///

“We’re closing!” Sam yelled over the music at the shape filling the doorway.

Company policy said that anyone coming in the door during opening hours was entitled to service. Sam did what she could to discourage people from coming in the door during the fading minutes of those opening hours.

Her expression softening when she saw Angus, soaked through to his skinny frame, wet eyes above the blood and rain around his jaw.

“Aww poo poo, kid. Just, just sit down over there, I don’t want to mop this place again - I’ll be over in a sec”

She filled a teapot with leaves and water, and brought it up to the front of the bar with a couple of cups.

“Want me to break some arms for you?” she winked at him, setting the tea down on the table.

“How about you tell me why I’m not kicking you out of my bar?

Every story has two sides

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Totally missed the deadline but I want to finish this thing and post it later today. Where do we post those? Here?

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

Here.

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

Keith Ape Crits

Thranguy - Echoes and Nemeses
Alright, we’re off to an excellent start. Good name. Fun story. Pretty much exactly what I wanted. I do think if you need to go back and foreshadow your reveal more, though. It’s somewhat unbelievable that a man wouldn’t recognize his own older self-- even with the paradox scarring (which is a cool concept). And this is rare time where it seems appropriate to explain a name. After all, the protagonist changes his plsu Sophie Gazelle is similarly named (artist [I’m assuming] + animal) so there must be some sort of convention for it amongst time travelers.

Do I think you had fun writing this? Yes
Did you do something cool with your name? Yes

Sitting Here - Bloop Hunter
Well this was just goddamn bizarre. Real talk-- Sebmojo wanted to DM your story but I thought it was a delightfully peculiar. What a strange concept, prompt name notwithstanding. A totally mundane day-in-the-life tale of a fetish porn sound guy doing secret research of poop sounds in a public restroom.

Strange crit: I don’t think your name works independent of thunderdome. And I think even within the week it doesn’t really work-- but only because no one else went really wild. If this had been a week full of scifi adventurers and galactic hitmen and pulpy noir detectives then it might have stuck but as is it the self aware going on and on about the cool name falls a bit flat. Take that as you will.

Overall, fun story to read. 2 for 2.

Do I think you had fun writing this? Yes
Did you do something cool with your name? You did something weird with it. I don’t know if that’s the same thing or not

Exmond - Butting Heads
I’m going to work my way backwards from the end of your story.

I personally hate these kinds of endings. NOW is where the real story begins![ If what comes next is more interesting than what I’ve just read then why didn’t you just write about what comes next? I think it’s exceptionally difficult to create this kind of ending and not have it be hokey or hamfisted or irritating.

I didn’t remember who you were when I was reading this so I didn’t remember that you signed up with Billy Kid. When you signed up I thought “Man I hope this doesn’t end up being a Billy Goats Gruff thing.” Well. You did. I didn’t like the reveal. I didn’t find it particularly surprising. Nor did I find it particularly interesting. This was clearly an attempt to be clever but I think you went about it the wrong way. Why should him being a Billy Goats Gruff be the most interesting thing about him? Because that’s what this kind of reveal implies.

Setting up a speed dating amongst creatures from Fables is interesting. You should have been more upfront with that being exactly what it was, Especially if that’s what you were doing. If that wasn’t what you were doing… I don’t…

Billy Kid is a dick. And he reeks of that nasty trope where a normal guy does literally nothing but exist and he gets the girl because…. That’s just how it’s written. It’s stupid. He signed up for speed dating. He knows why he’s there. Acting like a child isn’t going to make a girl interested in him. Especially if she’s a dope troll hunting werewolf.

Wolves eat goats.

Do I think you had fun writing this? Yes
Did you do something cool with your name? No

Captain Indigo - The Promethean
I don’t have a lot of notes. I enjoyed reading this. I don’t understand your ending, though. Clearly, Wildcat is capable of making a dozen people kills themselves buuuuuuuut…. Why? Why would he do that?

You should have ended the driver stepping out with a dazed smile in my opinion. Leave me buzzing. Where you ended is just unnecessarily violent.

You should build in some obligation at the top as to why she can’t go with him.

Do I think you had fun writing this? Yes
Did you do something cool with your name? Yes

Magnificent7 - Prince Tardigrade
Well goddamn if that ain’t a good introductory paragraph. I feel like most of my crits involve me shouting week after week for people to go back and cut their introductions into poo poo gets interesting. But you quickly and succinctly give me setting (night, unlit storefronts), characterization (creeping), and conflict (sick mother). Nice, Mag7. Nice.

Your ending on the other hand is a whole lot of stupid. Did you write this in two chunks? It feels like two different stories that you clumped together.

I kind of liked how self aware it was. At times. “It’s called an inciting event, boy.” I like it there. But it was unbalanced. Self awareness is a loving tightrope act. And it’s real easy to slip into being irritating with it-- ie the immediately following conversation about the word poo poo

Interesting take on the prompt. This was an improvement in a lot of ways for you. You needed to take this like… one step further and you’d be on the right track. It was unclear if the father was real or if the boy was making this all up in his head as he tried to make it home. Clarity. Clarity is good.

Do I think you had fun writing this? Yes
Did you do something cool with your name? Idk.

Jon_joe - Just Kidding
Well that was weird.

A couple things real quick… I hate puns. You can’t pull a twist ending out of nowhere without some foreshadowing and this needs foreshadowing like a motherfucker. Have an entire story end up with “this is just a joke” makes it feel like the story itself is just a joke and not in a good way. This could have been more interesting had been from the perspective of a different character-- stories need to have characters that learn and change & you have an opportunity to show a son gaining or losing respect for his father or to show the friend witnessing this and having it spark some revelation about perhaps his own relationship with his own child. The series of headlines made me chuckle.

Do I think you had fun writing this? Yes
Did you do something cool with your name? Idk.

QuoProQuid - Vincent Van Cock
I thought you were taking a piss on my prompt with this name. And then I thought you’d write me some weird blue squares “Elmo gonna gently caress you now” bullshit. And then I thought maybe this would be an interesting story about a pornographer or something and I was actually closest there and that’s probably for the best.

I think your name failed you. It was too silly for the serious story you wrote. I think you chose it because it tickled you and then you started writing and actually came up with something good rather than just something funny. I would rework this. Clean it up. Streamline it. Good sparse use of levity.

Do I think you had fun writing this? Yes
Did you do something cool with your name? You swung and missed.

Pipper - Slither
Yes! Great use of your name!

Too much action. Too little actual character development. Well-written action. Enjoyable. Cool concept. But this was a bit too on the rails. Your character should always been trying achieve something. In this story, Dryden is trying to avoid something (death) instead of achieving something. Avoiding is the weaker choice. Make the stronger choice nexgt time.

Do I think you had fun writing this? Yes
Did you do something cool with your name? Yes

Benny Profane - The Hard Edge

I don’t have notes. This was an enjoyable read with a lot of delicious undertones. Feels like drinking a glass of wine.

Do I think you had fun writing this? I don’t know. It’s not silly or quirky or fun. It’s just good. So, yeah. Yes. I think you did. There’s always pleasure in writing something good.
Did you do something cool with your name? Sure.

Maigus - The Fail Boris Zhdanova and Rise of Boris Manul
Formating did you no favors here. If you make it difficult for your reader to… you know… read then you’re already starting off on the wrong foot. Distracting at best.

Do you know how big pallas cats get? They’re basically just house cats. Your story has them more leopard sized and that’s distracting.

You actually had a character arc, That’s cool. That’s good. I think your biggest problem here isn’t conceptual (good) but rather one of execution. It’s a big of a lofty goal to try and cram years and years in 1200 words. The ancient greek rule of drama is that the plot of a play should be in a time set no longer than 24 hours. A single day. Perhaps you could try that with your next story? That way you can really focus on one small moment but do that small moment really, really well rather than trying to write an all encompassing epic. Just a thought.

Do I think you had fun writing this? I hope so!
Did you do something cool with your name? Certainly!

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

Keith Ape Late Crits for Late Stories

Fuubi - The Story of Psy Duck
Turn your poo poo in on time*

Jay W. Friks - Bacchus Lite
Turn your poo poo in on time**















*Goddamnit don’t start off by telling me that your story isn’t an interesting one. That’s stupid. Also stupid is having a character blabber on about their own name, I hate that poo poo. It reeks of an author masturbating to their own cleverness and I hate it. This is and it isn’t terribly written. It is in the sense that I’m bored with it and you do a lot of dumb poo poo like “aha that got you interested right???!!” when it absolutely did not get me interested at all. But it’s easy to read. You have a nice storyteller quality to your writing. Also, this wasn’t funny to me. Humor is dangerous like that. A story can live or die on it’s ability to make the reader laugh. I didn’t laugh. Oh well! ALSO -- The prompt was to pick a loving cool name and you picked loving Psy Duck. Spit in my eye.

** I don’t know what I just read. I’m not sure what you were aiming for. I don’t think Ozzy Bee is an appropriate name for this character. I mean, I get why you chose it. But I don’t think it fits. I had a difficult time following the action. Dialogue was clunky.

Benny Profane
Feb 23, 2012



TD266 RESULTS

For a week about stories featuring morals — and that’s “morals” defined in the loosest possible terms so as to include a wide variety of proverbs and aphorisms — only a few stories this week seemed to even attempt to work their moraphoverbs into their stories, let alone land them in a satisfactory fashion.

Our winner this week is Hawklad, who delivered on his prompt elegantly and built a story full of tensions using careful cinematic cuts. Congratulations, Hawklad!

Honorable mentions go to QuoProQuid and Tyrannosaurus, with their respective tales of snitches and witches.

Our sole dishonorable mention goes to Exmond, whose Butcher-esque world of hardboiled enforcement types and magic-flingin’ wizards sacrificed too much in the way of character and voice in favor of cramming in world-building details.

And finally, our loser this week, jon joe, didn’t give us much of a story, but nevertheless earned my respect for taking some big risks with threaded narratives and voicing. The results didn’t come together in a satisfying way for me this time around, but that’s what makes risk-taking interesting. While even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and again, most of the time they’re finding poop. Hope you find some acorns next time!

Take it away, Hawklad!

CRITS

Captain_Indigo — FuckArabella
Well, you get surely points for ambition. It’s always going to be hard to cram a mythology that exists on the scale of universes into something as short as flash fiction, and by choosing to focus heavily on the character interactions between the gods you’re effectively asking your readers to fill in huge chunks of the setting with imagination. For me, all the questions I had about what was going on and what all of this actually looked like meant that I got easily distracted from the storyline on my first read, and given that the details were so sparse in the text, I would expect that how this looked in your head is probably very different from my own imagination. I would have appreciated a little more time spent on the set dressing, and could have done with a simpler tale focusing just on Jehana and Arabella — I feel like this story could have been tighter if the concept of the 999 had been left out, along with Media/Medea (side note, check typos in names) and Ixion. I don’t feel like Arabella’s motivations for ending her own existence came through strongly, and that’s unfortunate given that it’s the emotional punchline of the story. I also don’t quite understand how the cyclical/repeating nature of the universe works after Arabella ends herself — does she come back? And if so, how? I also felt like the reveal that the universes birthed from words contains universes of their own didn’t seem to be as mind-blowing to the characters as I would have expected; I would have assumed that the point where they realized that there were universes layered below, and therefore presumably above them as well, would be a pretty significant blow to the sense of agency for an entity that considers itself a god. Finally, the word itself, FuckArabella, didn’t work for me at all — the petulant adolescence of it primed me from the beginning to have very little sympathy for Jehana, and I think a little more nuance and subtlety might have served you well here. All that said, it’s a competently told story and the few morsels of imagery that did make it in were quite nicely executed.

Exmond — Monster killers and child stealers
There are a few big issues that hurt this story, but the important thing is that these are all common pitfalls for writers without a ton of experience, and they’re all addressable with practice. First and foremost, there are big issues with style, punctuation, and grammar throughout — pick up a copy of Strunk and White and work through it. All of the rules are easy enough to internalize and follow, and there’s no reason to handicap yourself unnecessarily by raising red flags to your readers. It’s also good to get into the habit of reading your story aloud so that you can hear how your own voice comes across. If it’s hard to find errors this way, try reading the sentences of your story aloud in reverse order. Hearing the sentences out of context has a way of revealing their issues. I also think you’re focusing a little too much on emulating a “writerly” voice at the moment, and a lot of those flourishes come across as out of tune. I would recommend focusing for now on telling stories in as close to your own natural voice as you can, trying to get your words on the page to sound like how you yourself talk when read aloud — then from there, once you feel confident with that exercise, you can start to add in some more of the flavorful twists. Next issue: you’re trying to cram a lot of details in as you’re building out your world, but while that can be fun in a cinematic frame it’s often just exhausting in prose. You fill your world with wizards and goblins without fleshing any of these elements out, assuming that these are common enough touchstones that your reader will follow along, but that’s the thing: because they’re common, and you’re not making them stand out in any way, it just comes across like a big pile of clichés. Finally, especially in written fiction, a little bit of action goes a long way — you’ve got these big hyperkinetic action scenes woven throughout, but there’s too little effort put into the description of the imagery and individual moments making up the scene to keep it from blending into a sugary mess. Let your action scenes breathe, find the moments where you want to create tension and space, and fill those spaces with the images you see in your head. If that means you need to simplify your sequences to make that space, that’s almost always the right decision to make. Remember that when you’re writing fiction with a cinematic kind of bent, you’re not just the screenwriter — you have to be the director, cinematographer, set builder, costumer, and actors as well.

Taciturn Tactician — Fighting Words
I think you know this by now but, as stated in the OP, it is a very big no-no to edit your post after submission. This will always get you a DQ in the Thunderdome, and some judges will elect not to even read your work if you do this. Because I’m such a swell person, though, I did read your story, and had it not DQ’d this would have still ended up in the middle for me — it squanders a few opportunities to be a much more interesting story than it ended up being. To begin with my biggest issue, this is a very one-sided portrayal of characters; I found I was most interested in the question of why Mary hasn’t left Amber, given that Mary seems to have her poo poo more or less together and Amber comes across as a violent trainwreck. You tell us that Mary and Amber fell in love against all odds, without ever giving us a glimpse of what it was about their relationship that got them there. The choice to tell this story from Amber’s perspective makes this harder, too — while Amber’s internal monologue is a straightforward way to deliver exposition, it makes Mary one-dimensional. You can work with this by drawing out the imagery of the scenes, as seen through Amber’s eyes, and work in the details that flesh out Mary’s character that way, but there’s very little attention to imagery in this story. The two settings are “Generic Bar” and “Generic House”, and that’s a waste — the setting of your story is what gets your characters to resonate. Finally, I’m always a little wary of portrayals of gay characters that fall neatly into heteronormative roles, because it runs the risk of coming across as lazy gender-bending: don’t fall into the trap of assuming that you’re adding something new to an old story with off-the-shelf swaps of gender and sexual preference. If I replace Amber with Andrew, we’ve got a bog-standard story of a violent male protagonist just trying to get by in this crazy world and his angel wife that stands by him because... reasons. Unless you’re trying to make some kind of point about lesbian relationships falling into the same tropes as hetero relationships (which, side note, is very thin ice upon which to wander out), making this story about two ladies doesn’t earn you any points in the interest department.

5D AUTISM SPEX — Sema
My co-judge had this in their low pile, but I saved you from a DM here, just barely, because in between all of the extraneous sci-fi bullshit I can see what you’re going for here, and it’s not completely terrible. Hidden underneath all the piles of generic flavor text, you’ve got the bones of a fine little exploration of the conflict faced by a character obsessed with the accumulation of fame and validation, even as she understands that she risks losing her agency and sense of self in the process. That could be fleshed out into an interesting story, albeit not one that has anything to do with the well-known saying “Even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in a while”, nor the completely different saying of “Even if you’re a bind [sic] pig you should keep searching because you might find an acorn once in a while” that accompanied your post. However, I feel you’ve squandered this potential in your story by cramming it full of details that ultimately add very little to the emotional impact you’re striving for. For example, this world apparently features a secondary artificial moon built to stabilize tidal patterns back on Earth that gradually accrues mass as future sci-fi cam-girls lure hapless neckbeards off planet. If you want to tell a story about that, then commit and go for it. As it stands, it’s just kind of a throwaway wet fart that doesn’t know if it wants to be poignant reminder of the damage your protagonist inflicts on others in her addiction to validation, or a joke. For the record, I saved you from a DM because I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that the emotional core of this story is really the story you want to be telling, but you just chickened out and barfed up a whole bunch of sci-fi poo poo to cover it all up. Don’t do that next time. Final note: “compiler” is not the word you want. Find a different word.

Thranguy — What Kind of Fool
This story started out strong, but I feel it could have used a little more time in the oven. The whole trope of “mentally unstable person has imaginary friend with surreal animal characteristics” is pretty well-trodden ground at this point, and I didn’t feel like this story added enough to the mix to distinguish itself. That said, I liked the voicing of your characters well enough, you hit your prompt well, and the rabbit’s foot twist was a serviceable enough reveal to add a little spice towards the end. This could well have done better if you’d bothered to put a little more meat on the bones.

jon joe — The Adventures of [Protagonist]
This one was a really tough one to follow. You’ve taken an adventurous risk with your approach to story-telling here, and at least for me it didn’t pay off here. I don’t mind unconventional storytelling techniques and cryptic interwoven plotlines, but you’re kind of demanding a lot of work here for a silly comic fantasy yarn. It takes hard work to land a piece like this, and this kind of thing really lives or dies on the strength of the voicing. Here I think you were probably having a little too much of a good time entertaining yourself with the voices you’ve made up for the various characters here, and didn’t spend enough time making sure to throw your reader a breadcrumb every now and again to keep them on the trail. Risky concepts like this are fun, and the reason they’re risky is that they don’t always work out well. Getting the loser’s stool for the week isn’t meant to be punitive, or meant to discourage you from taking risks like this in the future — on the contrary, I hope you continue trying risky stuff, and I hope it pays off for you soon.

Hawklad — Old Breed
I really enjoyed your command of the cuts in this story — I felt like you did an excellent job of building tension on two parallel fronts and using the back and forth cuts to let the imagery breathe. You also landed your prompt better, in my mind, than any other story this week, and for those reasons your win is well deserved. That said, I have some notes: for me, you could’ve easily taken about twenty to thirty percent off on the war scenes — they really started to toe the line of crossing over into gratuitous Hollywood style excess. I think that if you had dialed it down a little, and exchanged a few of the various explosions for a bit more focus on the Old Sin itself that continues to shadow the protagonist’s mind even into his twilight years, you might have landed the emotional punch even more effectively. There’s also not a lot of scenery on the war side of things, which means that all I’m picturing is Generic Hollywood War Scene rather than anything particularly special. And that’s a shame, because when you slow things down on the fishing side of things, your imagery pops really nicely — it would be great to see that same attention on the othe side of things. All that aside, a well crafted, enjoyable yarn.

QuoProQuid — People Vanish Every Day
This is competently told, and hits all of the Orwellian dystopian beats well, but it plays a little on the generic side of things for my tastes — I didn’t get the sense that you were adding much to the standard formula for these kinds of affairs. I enjoyed your characterizations, and I thought your voicing was quite good, and the play at the beginning with the word “invisible” created enough ambiguity with regard to whether or not you were being literal to craft an effective hook. That said, the kid doesn’t really seem to face a great deal of conflict here in deciding to throw his uncle under the bus — he obviously cares for his mother, and sees his uncle as a threat to their safety, and so there doesn’t really feel like there’s much of a decision that the kid has to make here. Honestly, I’m actually most interested in where the story goes from here: what happens when his mother finds out what he did? How does kid feel after effectively turning in his own uncle? Does he get the taste for snitching? Does he eventually get stitches? Inquiring minds wish to know. Final note: I’m not really sure this effectively delivers the moral of “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”, as it seems to be promulgating the exact opposite approach.

Tyrannosaurus — heart of a dog
I really enjoyed all of the imagery and detailing around the character of the witcherman, and the little sprinkles of set dressing around his trailer were very effective for me. You accomplish a great deal with a paltry number of words, which is admirable, but ultimately I felt like this was a little overstuffed with characters. For me, I could’ve done perfectly well without the other two kids in the story, and would’ve preferred to see the relationship between the brave kid and the dead kid fleshed out a little more to telegraph the punchline. The success of this story leans heavily on the opener and closer, which are both rock solid, but (at least for me) I felt like there was a little more sag in the middle than I think you can afford with just 500 words. Finally, while this had a great mood and feel throughout, I didn’t really feel like it hit its prompt or tried to deliver a moral.

steeltoedsneakers — Last call
This story kind of feels like it’s just getting started by the time it ends, but I think there’s promise here. I laughed out loud at how you incorporated the limb-loss flash, so good job there — it was a fun way to round out a pile of reading. And I feel like I’d be interested in hearing more about this world filled with disappointing and malfunctioning cybermods, and would’ve liked to see more of this on Angus’s side of things. As a note from someone who’s tended more than a few bars — very few places announce last call by turning the music up.

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

Thunderdome #267 - The Horror....the horror

For this week's theme you will write in the genre of horror. Any type is fine, from body-horror to alien-horror to suspense-horror to just plain gore-horror. BUT FIRST, go to this page full of terrible album covers and pick one; use it as inspiration for your story. Believe me, there's plenty of horror to be uncovered there. Please post your picture on your sign-up post; only one writer can use each cover.

Now I don't mind a little blood, but keep in mind that you need to write an actual story, with characterization, plot, setting and all the other bits that go into good TD writing. Beware: the judges will be wading through the shock and gore and grossness looking for those important little nuggets to determine the winners (and losers).

No erotica, fanfiction, etc., per usual. The word limit is 2000 so go nuts!

Sign-ups due by Friday September 15th when the clock strikes midnight Eastern;
Stories due by Sunday September 17th when the bells toll at midnight Eastern.

Judges:
Hawklad
Sitting Here
Flesnolk

Victims:
Uranium Phoenix
QuoProQuid
SurreptitiousMuffin
Exmond
Benny Profane
MockingQuantum
RandomPaul
Thranguy
Captain_Indigo
FouRPlaY
Djeser
Burkion
Jay W. Friks
Okua
Mag7
derp
Pippin
Tyrannosaurus
After the War

Hawklad fucked around with this message at Sep 16, 2017 around 04:35

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


In

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.




in

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


Cool prompt. In.

Exmond
May 31, 2007


im doin it ma im writing

THUNDERDOME


Im in




Aiming to improve punctuation in general
Aiming to improve dialogue tags

Benny Profane
Feb 23, 2012



In.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



thanx for the crit, benny

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

HELP! I'VE FAILED AND I CAN'T SUBMIT


Grimey Drawer

5D AUTISM SPEX posted:

thanx for the crit, benny

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012


Unlockable Ben

Terrified first-timer is in with this

RandomPauI
Nov 24, 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

Grimey Drawer

In, and dibs on this cover

http://i.imgur.com/gZ0ETza.jpg

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

in

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


5D AUTISM SPEX posted:

thanx for the crit, benny

Taciturn Tactician
Jan 26, 2011

The secret to good health is a balanced diet and unstable healing radiation


Lipstick Apathy

Thanks for the crit even though I forgot the edit rule, Benny.

Captain_Indigo
Jul 29, 2007

Smooth soft red velvety lungs.

In with this bad boy.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER




I thought you were supposed to pick a bad album cover.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Hawklad, if you need a judge, I offer you my axe

FouRPlaY
May 5, 2010


In with

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



I got this

Burkion
May 10, 2012

Changeman! And Not A Moment Too Soon!





Sure, let's go.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer



In

Edited with new pic

Jay W. Friks fucked around with this message at Sep 13, 2017 around 04:47

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Burkion
May 10, 2012

Changeman! And Not A Moment Too Soon!


Hate to say it, Jay, but RandomPaul already picked that one

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