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

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
«118 »
  • Post
  • Reply
Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Discoloration
1563 words

The stars slowly drifted past the Gemini Express as it coasted through space. On the outside, it was a lifeless, lightless hulk, creating the faintest shadow as it passed between the stars. Inside, it was full of tightly packed crates full of tech, rare elements, and preserved bio specimens--the kind of things that made a profit on interstellar trade missions. At the tip of the Gemini Express, behind the shielding, was its life. Bright diodes lit the slowly rotating torus that the crew called home.

Sherida and Tanis sat in the dining lounge, watching the viewscreens, which were showing the mottled-crimson forests of Illoth passing beneath them, chirping merrily with bright rainbow colors as little creatures bobbed about with their gas-sacs, drinking up the leaking scarlet sap from the flora. In the distance, huge dirigible creatures floated on the horizon, tendrils scraping at the canopy for choice leaves.

“Another year until we see a forest again,” Tanis sighed.

Sherida smiled. “Sure, but I hear the forests on Olserra are Earth imports. Green, and in every shade you can think of.”

“Really? Let’s switch the view—”

“No, no. I want to experience it in person the first time.”

Dagan, sitting two tables away with his drink, was looking at them. He ground his teeth a bit, then said, “Olserra may not be the best place to visit, when we arrive. The last transmission we received mentioned a civil war.”

Tanis shrugged. “Maybe it’ll be done by the time we get there.”

Dagan grunted and went back to his drink.



The evening passed slowly. Tanis retired to her bunk. Her roommate, Inanna, was reading on her tablet with the lights off.

When she woke, Tanis yawned loudly and started to get changed. Inanna was still in bed.
Somewhere, an alarm was softly chiming. Tanis opened the door out into the hallway. They were dark, lit only by the faint red of the emergency lights. She swallowed. What was going on? She rushed over to one of the consoles in the hall. Undefined emergency, it read. She checked her communicator implant. The ship comm network was listed as down.

She went back to the room to wake Inanna. “Hey,” she said. “Wake up.”

Normally, Inanna was a light sleeper.

“Inanna. Inanna!” Tanis shook her, then froze. Her hands came away wet, cold, and sticky. She groped about in the dark room and found her multitool, then flipped the light on. The harsh white beam swept over Inanna. Her body was pale, covered with slit flesh. Her blood had soaked the bed.

Tanis started shaking. “No, no, no…” she whispered. She swept her beam around the room wildly, looking for—something. There was no movement. No sign of anyone—or anything—else.

She looked around her room. There were few weapons allowed on the Gemini Experess. All she had was her multitool’s knife.

There was an emergency switch by the door. She hit it, but it didn’t do anything. Of course. The alarms were already on.

Sherida, she thought. She needed to know, right now, that her friend was safe. They’d done everything together since they were children, seen seven solar systems together. Tanis scrambled down the hall. Her keychip, usually attuned to work on her friend’s door, failed to register. She pounded loudly on the steel with the butt her multitool. “Sherida! Sherida!”

Then she heard a noise to her right.

Tanis looked. Two figures, moving slowly, silhouetted by the red emergency lights. She screamed, and scrambled back.

“Security,” one of them called. “Drop the—oh, it’s Tanis.”

The other one hesitated. “You think it was her?” The voices were familiar, but she couldn’t place the names.

“We can’t assume it wasn’t yet. Tanis, we need you to come with us. Hands where we can see them.”

“Inanna’s dead,” she blurted out. She stuffed the multitool in her pocket, then raised her hands.

“poo poo,” one of them said.



They took her to the security station next to the bridge, handcuffed. Dagan was there, advising one the techs.

“We’ve got another. And Inanna is dead, too.”

The tech was tapping away on the keypad. “I’ve got access to the security feeds again,” she said.

“What the hell is going on?” Tanis asked. “Is Sherida alright?”

The second security guard shook his head. “We don’t know.”

A camera feed appeared on the screen, shades of green depicting the infrared. Tanis recognized her room immediately. It showed her and Inanna sleeping. “There,” the tech said.

Her room door opened. A figure walked in, back to the camera, and looked at both the beds. Then, they pulled out their knife and stood over Inanna. With forceful slams, the knife came down on her roommate over and over, Inanna’s body jerking spastically.

Tanis shook. Wake up! she mentally screamed at herself.

The figure finished, then loomed over her sleeping form. They raised the knife, then lowered it. Their face turned to the camera. They were wearing an eye-visor that shone with bright infrared light, giving their eyes a burning, demonic appearance. They gave a toothy grin to the camera, then shut the door gently on their way out.

The tech glanced at Tanis. “Sorry,” she whispered. “At least, uh, we can exonerate another…”

“What about Sherida?”

The tech entered a new command. “We’ll check her next. Meanwhile, check that engineering is clear. All the doors should be secure now, with only keychips I’ve coded working.” The two security guards nodded, then left.

“Is there time?” Dagan asked. “The longer we take to find them, the more people will die.”

“They’re probably done killing. They had targets in mind—why else would they ignore certain people?”

“That’s not how it works,” Dagan said.

The tech gave him a funny look. “What are you, a psychologist?”

“Nevermind.”

The camera feed showed the figure enter Sherida’s room too, but this time, the person stumbled as they walked in, doubled over, then vomited. From the puddle, a writhing mass of plump larva, each with spikey tendrils, started squirming around the room. Sherida woke, then clearly started shouting at the figure. As the squirming swarm spread around the room, slithering into corners, using the hooks on their tendrils to pull themselves up the bed, the figure turned and fled. Sherida slapped at the larva that were crawling at her. She ran for the door and started pounding on it, but it was sealed.

“poo poo,” Dagan said.

“We have to get her out,” Tanis said.

“What the hell is that?” the tech asked.

Dagan was grinding his teeth again.

“You know something,” Tanis told Dagan.

He glanced at the screen. “It’s… a bioweapon. A creation from the Mot system, based on one of the parasites there. It burrows into a person and changes their brain. They retain their mind, but they become murderous. It was designed to be released in military ships to kill the entire crew. It will reproduce, infect, and kill, until everyone is dead.”

Tanis felt her stomach twisting. “Sherida…”

“…is probably infected. In the late stages, she’ll get fungal blotches on their skin as the parasite grows. But if you can see the discoloration, it’s already too late.”

“How… do you know so much about this… thing?”

Dagan clamped his jaw shut and looked away. There was only the sound of the tech typing. Dagan and Tanis both looked at the tech at the same time. On the tech’s forearms, just visible past the sleeves, were patches of bright yellow growths. The tech noticed their stare, and stopped. The room grew silent.

The tech didn’t hesitate. In a blur, she had her multitool’s knife out and was stabbing Dagan. The wet splorching sound mixed with his gurgling. Tanis scrambled for the door, snatching one of the new keychips. The door opened, and she sprinted down the corridor. The dull red lighting gave the ship an alien feel. This was no longer her home. Down one of the halls, she heard screaming.

Tanis pulled out her multitool knife. She felt sick. She vomited on the floor. Then she started running again. She needed to see her friend.

Sherida was crouched on top of a chair in the center of her room, sobbing softly. There didn’t seem to be any larva moving anymore.

“Tanis!” she cried.

Tanis started crying herself. “Did… did they get you?”

“These gross things? I… I think I killed them all. I’ve been in here for hours. Thank god you’re here.”

Tanis took a careful step forward, avoiding the puddle still on the ground, then another, avoiding a crushed larva.

She looked at Sherida. By the time the discoloration shows, it’s too late. “I’m here to save you from… all of this.”

“I know,” Sherida said.

Tanis felt the knife in her hand.

“Wait… Tanis. What’s… what’s going on?”

She felt sick again, like things in her stomach were crawling.

“Tanis?”

She raised the knife. “I’ll… I’ll try to be quick.”

The metal chair ground backward as Sherida stumbled back against her room’s wall. “What are you doing?”

“I’m sorry,” Tanis said, hands trembling.

Soon enough, Tanis felt the sensation of the knife ripping through flesh, carving away at all the things inside.



On the outside, the Gemini Express was a lifeless, lightless hulk, a thin shadow amidst the stars. On the inside, it had become much the same.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


^^^^
Oh right, prompt picture. It's this one:

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014


Super On-Time Judge Crits for Week 252: Your Cardboard Protagonist Was Here (Part 1):

“Those Statued Men with Acid Rain Habits” by Tweezer Reprise

This one threw me for a loop when I first read it. Brushing past the main character’s inconsistent name, I get the gist of what you’re going for. Someone who’s trying to manipulate a part of the literary canon by translating it to suit his own ends gets a karmic payback. Problem is, between Dia(li)fen setting the manuscripts on fire and discovering the burnt remains of his home, you kind of meander into a barely related conversation with a friend of his. That conversation has nothing to do with Letus, as the rest of the story does; it only confirms that Dia(li)fen has falsified translations for selfish reasons in other contexts. It’s more of a redundant distraction than anything else. Dunno if I’d still put this up for a DM now that I get it, though.

“Start a Fire, Even if it’s for Yourself” by flerp

I’ve got no complaints with the way this is written. I especially like the motif of smoke imagery flowing through it. It doesn’t especially captivate me with its subject matter, though; I’ve seen more memorable versions of this kind of angst before. There’s not a whole lot to this besides texture, but the texture’s great.

“The Coward” by SurreptitiousMuffin

I think this was my pick to win this round. The feeling are real and heavy. All of Monty’s dead friends come off like unique people whose loss has a cumulative, negative effect on his psyche. It’s about as well-written as Flerp’s story, but I connected with it much more. Good job.

“The Big Dipper” by QuoProQuid

I’m not sure how much I supported this story when I was co-judge, but I like it now. It’s a bittersweet little thing that feels real enough for me to buy into it. I think what makes it is the dumb jokes that Lyle shares with Alexa, which are just the right amount of corny to make me see why he makes friends so easily.

“The Letter X” by Jay W. Friks

Was this the story where the judges deliberated whether to DQ or DM it? Hell if I can remember. Either way, I can kind of see what you’re getting at here, but you put some big things in the way of that. The names, for one. So many names without vowels! Is this Welsh Appreciation Day or something? Perhaps this is the birth of pedantic and petty academic arguing back in the days of the Roman Empire? I can’t see any other reason why these monks are so invested in whether or not their special character makes it into the alphabet. This is just a nerd slapfight, and on Something Awful, nerd slapfights don’t really go hand in hand with compelling storytelling. Not to mention that it feels kind of stilted all over.

“Wartime” by Thranguy

drat, this is a cool idea. Shallow and high concept, but cool nonetheless. I think maybe it’s too big for a story this small to do it justice, though. I’d especially like to know if these soldiers who fight wars throughout all time and space have ever had any unique insights that normal soldiers don’t get. I guess not, but I still think there’s more juice here than you squeezed out.

“Spaekona” by Fleta McGurn

So far this week is a pretty good crop. I know that other people complained about the structure of this particular story and how there wasn’t enough buildup or whatever, but I thought that the transition into the protagonist becoming a cursed ghost worked out pretty well. It was enough of a surprise to keep my attention. I got no suggestions for improvement on this one either.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Chili posted:

Continuing my crit catch up journey.

WEEK 253

Muchas thankias!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

MEGABRAWL ENTRY

West Side Story
2500 wordz


Alice’s hands were tight on the steering wheel. She inched forward through the aimless crush of traffic, trying to navigate the Volvo in the direction of the onramp. Pedestrians ambled between the slow moving vehicles as if they couldn’t see them. Everyone moved as if they couldn’t see anyone else, really. Except Alice, who experienced the city’s indifference to itself as an ulcerous burn in her stomach.

She wished she was brave enough to hate the people of the city, but mostly she was just afraid. Afraid that her mother would die before Alice could get to the hospital, afraid that someone would t-bone her car, afraid that some pedestrian would point a gun at her head and demand her money.

Security drones bobbed and lurched in predetermined paths overhead. No one monitored their sensory equipment anymore, but at least they gave the impression some power still watched over the city. Alice wished the whole thing would just die, already. The city and everyone in it.

On the highway, traffic moved faster. This wasn’t much consolation for Alice, however; sluggish indifference was replaced by outright hostility. It was evil, she thought. Evil that oil and power still oozed into the fetid veins of the world, but law and order sequestered themselves away in arcologies and subterranean compounds.

Alice edged her way into the high speed chaos, tried to politely insert herself between a freight truck and a well-maintained BMW. She was distracted by the way the light from the overcast sky glinted off the roof of the other car. It was the only thing for miles that wasn’t covered in dust and ash.

The driver accelerated, forcing Alice to veer sharply to the right and closing the gap she’d been trying to merge into. A sepia haze crept into her periphery, the beginnings of a dust storm. She looked into her own eyes in the rearview mirror.

“No. Stay here,” she commanded herself. The sound of her own voice grounded her a little, and the sepia haze faded to a stain. But the BMW driver wasn’t done with her. He swerved hard to the right, so close that their side mirrors almost touched. Alice caught a glimpse of the driver: a red-cheeked middle-aged man, his mouth flapping and gnashing and issuing silent profanities.

Alice’s chest went tight. She couldn’t stop, couldn’t pull away, couldn't do anything to tell the other driver that she meant no harm, that she needed to get to the hospital because her mother was--

And the sepia--

The steering wheel softened and sagged in her hands, transforming into reins. The worn driver’s seat hardened into a wooden bench. The muffled roar of traffic was replaced with the thunder of hooves. Alice found herself driving a stagecoach, and a backward glance revealed that a dozen bandits were on her tail.

She let out an agonized sound. The tired grey sky scrapers were gone. The world around her was described in scrubby hills and shades of sandy brown, with a bleached blue sky overhead. The road she fled down was little more than a flattened length of dirt that ran along the basin between the hills. She could only lash her horses onward and pray.

Pop! Something whizzed by her ear. There came the faint sound of jeers from behind her. Alice hunched down low on her driver’s bench.

It didn’t take long for her west side memories to flood back. She was running a load of whiskey to Coward’s Narrow, a bustling trading post way out on the edge of the frontier. She’d had a gunner by her side when she started the run, but he was back behind her somewhere, riddled with bullet holes and left to cool on the roadside.

The road took a hard turn to the left and the stagecoach tipped to the right as half its wheels lost contact with the earth. It slammed back down, jostling Alice hard enough that she almost didn’t see the man on horseback some fifty yards ahead. When she did, it was too late to stop. He cantered his horse off to the side of the road and raised his revolved.

Alice squeezed her eyes closed. Six shots rang out. Horses and men screamed. She opened her eyes. The stranger had holstered his empty revolver and drawn another, leveling it at the bandits behind Alice. Six more shots, and the hoofbeats fell away. When Alice looked back, the road was littered with fallen bodies, and the remaining men milled around on horseback.

.

Coward’s Narrow was a ravine town, walled at both entrances, protected from above by riflemen and friendly natives. The men guarding the gate let up a cheer when they saw the stagecoach, though Alice knew it had little to do with her and everything to do with her cargo.

Alice climbed, knees shaking, down from the driver’s seat as the townsfolk saw to unloading the whiskey barrels.

This was where it should end, she knew. The sepia haze would whirl in any minute, and she’d find herself back in her car, maybe even at the hospital.

Mom. The word flared hot and red and urgent in her mind, a silent klaxon that should’ve jarred her back into the proper place and time.

The stranger was watching her intently, still astride his horse. The sight of him disrupted the building panic long enough for Alice to notice how pristine he appeared when compared to the other frontiersmen. He had good bones and clear skin. He was easily twenty years Alice’s senior, but his greying hair was thick and full.

Someone else from the real world. He had to be. Alice crossed the distance between them and looked up at him.

Before she could speak, the stranger said, “That was some fancy riding.”

That cinched it. He sounded like someone trying to sound like a cowboy from the movies.

“You’re from the other side,” Alice said, keeping her voice low. “Why are we still here?”

The stranger squinted into the distance. “I guess we’re both real scared.”

“What were you doing? Before you came to this side?”

The stranger shook his head. “I don’t think about that place.”

Alice clenched her fists and fought to keep her voice steady. “My mother’s in the hospital. Stroke. Bad. I need to get back.”

“Take it up with your sympathetic nervous system,” the stranger said. “I’m off to the saloon.”

He rode off toward the high wooden gate. It creaked open at his approach, and the men manning the walls on either side heckled him good naturedly.

Alice scowled. This wasn’t her first visit to Coward’s Narrow. The previous year, she’d been stopped on the way home by a member of the city’s nominal police force. He’d demanded a bribe or her body. The sepia flooded in, and she found herself in the middle of a gun fight in the center of town. The ever-present bandits had breached the Narrow’s defences and were gunning folk down indiscriminately in the street.

That time, Alice had been the hero with the pair of six shooters. The survivors had carried her all the way to the saloon on their shoulders.

It seemed Coward’s Narrow had found a new hero since then.

Alice hurried after the stranger. She had nowhere else to be, not until her mind returned to her body. And she couldn’t think about that, not if she wanted to come down enough from the fear to get back to the other side.

The town itself was comprised of two neat rows of buildings that flanked a packed dirt road. The ravine walls loomed high overhead, so that the Narrow was permanently shady and cool. Folks bustled from building and building, turning leather into saddles and hops into beer, doing the things that made the community feel like a town, rather than a loose collection of assorted people.

Inside the saloon, Alice took a seat across from the stranger at one of the tables furthest from the door. He nodded at her once, but that was the extent of his courtesy. Not long after they sat down, the men from the gate rolled the whiskey barrels in through the clattering saloon doors. The bartender let out a whoop and cracked open a barrel.

“First taste is on the house!” he cried. “On account of the bravery showed by our friend in the corner there.”

The small crowd in the bar quickly burgeoned into a party. Someone even managed to coax something like music out of the old standup piano by the bar. Alice sulked through it all, too afraid to get drunk, too afraid to leave, too afraid to go home, too afraid to do anything but be afraid. She was irritable, too. As much as she hated coming over to the west side, she’d liked the idea that she could be a hero somewhere, even if it was only inside the bounds of this dubious world. But there was the stranger at the center of it all, absorbing the town’s adoration with smug stoicism.

A few times he caught her eye and grinned knowingly, as if he could read her thoughts.

Alice scowled back at him.

.

She didn’t return to the city that night, or the night after that, or the night after that. At first, she’d bedded down in a heap of hay outside of the hostler’s shed, but when the stranger found her there, he shook his head and said, “I’ve got a floor you can sleep on ‘til you go back over. Not as comfortable as straw, but a little more dignified.”

And so Alice found herself bunking on the floor of a man whose name she didn’t know.

One night, they sat together in wavering candlelight. Alice perched on a stool, knees drawn up to her chest. The stranger sat crosslegged on the bed, darning his socks as if he’d been doing it his whole life.

“I wonder what my real body's doing,” Alice said. “I must be loving horrified. God, what if someone’s killing me right now. Can we die when we’re here?”

“I haven’t yet,” the stranger said without looking up from his work.

Sudden shouts rang out in the night, amplified by the rock faces on either side of the town. Most of it was unintelligible, but one word stood out: Bandits.

The stranger swore. “They’ve come to avenge their own. Stay here,” he growled. He reached for his guns and his boots, and then he was gone, into the night, to play the hero.

Alice was most certainly not going to stay behind. She pulled on her own boots, then reached under the bed for the weapons cache she knew was there.

The town was a vision of burning, dying chaos when she stepped into the night, revolvers on her hips. Folk ran every which way, and it was impossible to tell who was a bandit and who was just folk. The sound of gunfire tap danced up and down the Narrow’s one street. The buildings nearest the eastern gate were already on fire, and the whole ravine was cast in a hellish orange light.

The bartender staggered up to Alice, clutching at his stomach. Blood leaked between his fingers. “We’re betrayed,” he rasped. “Someone let ‘em in. Killed the Narrow.” He dropped down to one knee and vomited blood.

Alice moved on. There was only one person who could solve this, but he would need her help.

She killed three men before she found the stranger, who’d taken up a position in a cleft of rock partway up the ravine wall.

“Told you to wait,” he growled.

“Back home, I’m afraid,” Alice said. “But on the west side, I’m a goddamn hero.”

From their vantagepoint, they watched as the group of bandits rallied in the center of town. The people of Coward’s Narrow were all dead or in hiding.

“Where is that shitslinging bastard?” roared the leader of the bandits. “Come out, or I’m burning this whole place down.”

“What’s our game plan, here?” Alice asked. She was afraid, yes, but excited, too. What did she really have to go back to in the city? The corrupt police? The prospect of watching her comatose mother slowly decay? Wouldn’t her mother want her to be a hero, rather than another helpless victim of the city?

“I’m on the ISS,” the stranger said, so softly that Alice had to ask him to repeat himself.

“The space station?” she said, though she was positive he had to mean something else.

“Yeah.”

“Does NASA even exist anymore?”

The stranger shrugged. “You should know more about that than me. Last time I went back, we still hadn’t received any response from Earth.”

We. Alice wanted to ask him a thousand questions. There was no way multiple people were surviving up there, unless…

“We’re all here, though we stay out of each other’s way on this side. No one knows how or why this place exists, but it keeps us alive, so.” The stranger shrugged, then laughed sadly. “So much for science.”

Alice gaped at him, trying to wrap her mind around the implications of what he was saying. To be trapped in orbit, knowing that no one was coming for you, knowing that there was only so much time before food ran out or something went wrong…

“You got ten seconds to show yourself, bastard,” the bandit leader roared. “Ten…”

The stranger turned to her, put his hands on her shoulders.

“Nine…”

“Don’t live in fear,” he said, looking hard into her eyes.

“Eight…”

“You don’t need to be afraid. You charged out into the night, ready to fight off a pack of killers.”

“Seven…”

“You are brave. And whatever is waiting for you back in the world is better than what’s going to happen here.”

“Six…”

Without waiting for Alice’s reply, the stranger shoved past her, out of the cleft, and skidded down the hillside.

“Five…”


Alice tried to go after him, but a sepia haze billowed in from her periphery, muddying her vision too much to navigate the loose scree that littered the slope.

Her last muddied vision of the west side was of the stranger, silhouetted against the fire that was rapidly engulfing the town, both guns drawn as he strode toward the bandit horde.

Then there was only the sepia.

The hard grip of the revolver softened in Alice’s hand, transformed into something warm and yielding and fragile. The sepia haze receded, and in its wake came light, white and sterile. Artificial. Alice reflexively closed her eyes; artificial light hurt after spending so many nights in candlelight.

She was in a hospital. The soft, warm thing she held was her mother’s hand. Her mother, riddled with tubes and smelling of waste but alive, and awake, and looking at Alice.

“Aw...ice,” the older woman said, her mouth struggling around the shape of her daughter’s name.

Alice squeezed her mother’s hand. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

Submissions closed.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


This is my forfeit post.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Interprompt: Duels at high noon
75 words

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Uranium Phoenix posted:

Interprompt: Duels at high noon
75 words
gently caress the rules
89 words

They met with pistols in the center of town, sun feeling like fire too close to skin. Darus wiped the sweat from his brow. Jalis was dressed all in heavy leather and a wide-brim cowboy hat, pale face dry.

Noon chimed. They pulled.

Jalis looked at the bloodless hole in his chest and smiled, showing fangs. He walked forward, leveling his gun for the kill.

Darus bleed on the ground. Hand trembling, he fired one more shot.

The hat flew off, and Jalis burned to ash in the sun.

derp
Jan 21, 2010

a little less conversation and a little more filthy rodents


Lipstick Apathy

Uranium Phoenix posted:

Interprompt: Duels at high noon
75 words

No shadows. Sun sizzles on my scalp. Lips crack, skin flakes red. Eyes blink sticky. My tongue is a paper reproduction. Resist.

Cool crystalline water, ice snap cracking, condensation beading near my hand. Dusty fingers, split knuckles--they are the cracked soil longing to absorb drops from the cool glass. Resist.

He wobbles. A tower tipping, head drooping, hand swaying. His fingers touch glass. Grip it, tip it. The ground drinks. He laughs. Still I resist.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

Uranium Phoenix posted:

Interprompt: Duels at high noon
75 words

Two pistoleros shoot to kill. One bullet splits a vacancy sign in two, another blows dirt into the face of our snoozing town drunk. The young gunners scrunch their faces in shame.
Everyone feels their embarrassment but I take their lack of accuracy as a chance to save face.

I say,

"Before you try again, please let me re-measure your widths. I don't want to waste any wood like last time."

#72

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

Thunderome 267 Results!

Thanks to everyone who submitted stories this week! They were (mostly) a pleasure to read, full of horror, mommy issues, general grossness, drug use, and even a dash of anal penetration - there were definitely creepy moments in just about all of them. There were many strong contenders for HM's this week. I'll flesh out details later in my judgecrits.

There are no DMs this week - I liked enough about just about every story (or another judge did) to save them from the scrap heap save for one: Exmond I'm afraid you earned the dreaded Loss this week for your confusing and jumbled mess of a story. On the bright side, I had no problem with your punctuation or dialogue tags!

HMs go out to derp for some great writing and imagery, Benny Profane for some sickening body horror, and Tyrannosaurus for writing an enjoyable - though not very horrifying - yarn.

So our Winner for this week is SurreptitiousMuffin for a risky but well-imagined look inside the head of a very troubled protagonist.

Congrats Muffin! The throne is yours.

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

Maybe your story got good at the end. Maybe it didn’t. I don’t know and I don’t care because I probably stopped reading. These aren’t real crits. These are just

When I got bored
1) Burkion -- Ma! He’s Making Eyes at Me
Bored in the first paragraph. Eight sentences in and I don’t know anything important. I don’t have a conflict. I don’t have goal. I don’t have interesting characterization. I don’t have a hook. It seems like you’re writing in a “voice.” That’s fine but... oftentimes difficult to pull off. Especially without being tiresome and annoying. Especially in third person. If you feel the compulsion to write in a voice, go full out with it. Switch to first person.

2) derp -- Love on the Rocks
Bored when the guy shows up. I told Burkion above that Ma! He’s Making Eyes at Me probably should have been written in first person. Honestly, I think you should have, too. I can tell you struggled with straightening out your pronouns with two female characters. So what your reader got stuck with is this barrage of Li-Mei Li-Mei Li-Mei Li-Mei. If you go first person, you’re dealing with I/she rather than she/she. You also have the opportunity to make this… uh… interest (love interest?) a bit more personal. You ramble on about how Li-Mei’s eyes were everywhere but you didn’t get around to letting me know why that’s important or significant.

3) Exmond -- Why did the bee hum?
Oh boy I hope I find out why the bee hummed

drat. I didn’t find out why the bee hummed. Got bored at Supa Square. Officer Jeremy sounds silly. Like Pokemon’s Officer Jenny had a brother. Nobody calls an officer Officer Firstname so when a reader sees it in a story it’s automatically going to throw them unless it’s a… I dunno… a kid’s story or something. It’s uncomfortably personal for the job. President Jeremy would be another example. Judge Jeremy. Special Agent Jeremy. Yeah. Just wierd. Also, don’t open with your main character being bored. If your main character is bored, why should your reader be any different? A story should always be a break from the normal. It should be when something interesting happens. When something different happens. When something significant happens. This doesn’t have to be world-shattering or anything; personal significance is totally fine. And you should let your reader know what this is-- especially in flash fiction-- super early on. Here’s your homework for next week: in your opening paragraph you need to tell me exactly what your story’s conflict is. Be very forward. Be very upfront. Don’t hide it. Don’t mask it. If you need to go back after you’ve written your story and add it in that’s fine but I want to see a sentence explicitly labeling the conflict before you hit the enter key for the first time.

4) Okua -- Hands and knees
Read the whole thing! Didn’t get bored!

Nice circle to the story. Nice characterization. Nice blocking.

5) Thranguy -- The Frogs Remain
Jokes without pain aren’t his style is great.

Didn’t get bored. Great atmosphere. Delightfully Southern Gothic Weird. Small notes: possibly add something about the GI Bill paying for college. Possibly add something about why he joined the army. Possibly add something about the family not trusting him since he left (perhaps because joining the army is basically joining the government which is basically joining the Man). Possibily add decision that brother could have kidnapped the girl and put her in the trunk already along with a “nah he couldn’t have because” for a nice fakeout.

Very enjoyable.

6) Jay W. Friks -- Hell Mary
Texas! Flood! Topical!

Ah. You took your album cover quite literally. Neat.

Didn’t get bored. Good visuals. Unclear action. Sitting Here will probably dig this for it’s dream-like qualities but you need to ground it in something more concrete.

7) Captain Indigo -- The Lamb Feast
I got bored at the filipino chefs. Your description of the painting is nice but it lacks significance. I’m sure it becomes important later but I got bored before later arrived. It was unclear the the Divinity was a ship and not some sort of church. That could also be made more clear earlier. I think you started writing this with some really nice visuals in your mind but you didn’t go back and clear things up after words were put down. Always go back and make sure you are beginning at an interesting place and not just a well written place. Very important difference.

8) Tyrannosaurus -- Pigheaded
Didn’t get bored. Wow. A lot of fun to read. Great job. Winner for sure.

9) MockingQuantum -- The Chalk Line
Got bored at ‘Where better to hide than the thicket?’ Nothing about this is particularly bad. I like that you introduce your conflict in the opening paragraph. Always a good choice. Especially for flash fiction. Some things are unclear: how old is Josiah, how big is the place (city or town), how rural is this place, is it typically a safe place to play, why are some stores/streets named (will that be significant later on)? The center of town is nice. A character doing something bad out of ignorance is kind of weak, though. Tragedy, proper goat-song, is best when it comes from conscious choice and not circumstance or coincidence. Some of this might have been cleared up later. Maybe if it wasn’t 2 am I’d keep reading but… these are bored crits not real crits

10) Muffin -- Sonata
Didn’t get bored. Kind of Flowers for Algernon-y. This type of voice is difficult to pull off but you did it. Needles and thread is such a delicious little combination of words I wish you hadn’t used it twice in a row but rather left me wanting more. Reminded me a bit of this.. Except much less depressing. This might win. Beautiful prose. Your weakness is the lack of character development though I question such a thing’s importance in writing such as this.

11) QuoProQuid -- All Things Are Now Empty
Didn’t get bored. This might win. Great usage of split time. Effective without being overkill. Personally, I’m terrified of both being trapped in the snow and of being blind so this was great for me in terms of hitting the horror part of the prompt. I liked the ending. With that being said, small crits, I think the parts with specifically Ash were weak and I think, somehow, the voice you wrote the story in didn’t jive with your dialogue. It was too abrasive. “Loser’s sperm” is kind of a weird thing to say. Liam’s cursing seemed over the top. Did the Mother have no idea that Ash hated Liam? Did Alice? Why show up as a surprise?

12) FouRPlaY -- Eden’s Island
Got bored at smouldering version. Your opening was pretty good. Nervous teen going to popular party is easy to identify with in terms of potential conflict and characterization. Adding in some spicy family dynamics is good, too. But ‘Through in the large rocks that dotted the beach, and it was almost an enclosed space’ doesn’t make any sense. And, for it being a super cool super big beach party, it seems like there are only four people present. That’s not really a party. That’s a double-date. Once you’ve let me know that your main character is nervous about this party don’t prattle on about being nervous. Cut to something interesting. This is flash fiction. You have a very limited word count so you want your stories to be sleek.

13) Benny Profane -- Index Case
Didn’t get bored. Pretty good read. Solid atmosphere. Nice conceptual conflict. If the sheriff didn’t get name then why did Jack? Why didn’t the sheriff get a name? What is Jack’s job? Jack’s relationship with the sheriff and the community is unclear as is how much he knows about each. Is this is first day? Is this is first day with the sheriff? Does he work for the government? Is this a standardized, normal job now that there is a plaguefly epidemic? I think you were too brazen in leading me to your ending. Oftentimes, I complain that people don’t give me enough information. I think in this case you could have left more to my imagination. Perhaps cut from him collapsing into that disgusting (expertly written) collapsed hallway to him stumbling out of the cornfield. Imply doom.

14) Uranium Phoenix -- Discoloration
I got bored at Dagan. But it was almost your opening paragraph. Starting off with set dressing work if it’s really, really, really good set dressing. Otherwise I don’t know why I should keep reading. You could open with the civil war bit. Then follow it up with the description of the spacecraft.

derp
Jan 21, 2010

a little less conversation and a little more filthy rodents


Lipstick Apathy

muffin's story, i enjoyed it a lot. thanks for the hm it is a true honor, i sucked bad last time i posted here.


thanks for the crits tyran

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012


Unlockable Ben

Thanks for the crits tyran! And I was certain I'd end up with a DM on my first time out, bullet dodged for now

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Hawklad posted:

Thunderome 267 Results!

Thanks to everyone who submitted stories this week!
I wish I'd've finished mine now.

Hawklad posted:

There are no DMs this week
Yeaaaaaahhhhhhhh. Well. I chickened out. yw.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


*clears throat*

p

*clears it again*

PRO

*coughs really loudly like im dying*

hello yes id like a prompt please thanks

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


whoa there dawg I can't go givin out all my precious promptlemousse la croix

i kid get in on this

WEEK 268: NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERDS



A long long time ago, I did a bunch of crits and summed each one up with a Magic: the Gathering card. Since then, people have periodically bothered me about doing it again -- well, here you go motherfuckers. When you sign up, you will be assigned a card from magic: the gathering and it must be the obvious inspiration for your story.

Fantasy as a genre is not banned per-se but you're encouraged to experiment and stretch your inspiration in unexpected directions. So long as I can see the connections somehow, you're good. No fanfic, erotica no 'clever' stories about people playing Magic: the Gathering wow it's so meta.

Word limit: 1750
Signups: 11:59pm Friday EST
Deadline: 11:59pm Sunday EST

Jocks on the playground:
Muffin
Sebmojo
Mag7

NEEEEEEEERDS:
Flerp
QuoProQuid
Exmond
Jay W. Friks
derp
FouRPlaY
jon joe
Taciturn Tactician
Thranguy
Benny Profane
Tyrannosaurus
Sham bam bamina!
Pippin
Cantdecideonaname
Uranium Phoenix
Maigius
llamagucci
ThirdEmperor
Captain_Indigo
Chili
Entenzahn
bigperm
deltasquid
flesnolk
Jan
Xelkelvos
Kaiju15
Dr Klocktopussy

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at Sep 24, 2017 around 04:15

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


hi im a nerd

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


ok, i guesssssssss

is magic the gathering anything like yu-gi-oh?

Exmond
May 31, 2007


im doin it ma im writing

THUNDERDOME


I'm in

Focusing on having a good opening line + paragraph that reveals conflict
Focusing on punctuation
Focusing on dialogue tags

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

In

derp
Jan 21, 2010

a little less conversation and a little more filthy rodents


Lipstick Apathy

IN

FouRPlaY
May 5, 2010


In

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

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


Grimey Drawer

I play the card Pot of Greed, which allows me to draw two cards from my deck!

And then I play in, which allows me to submit one story!

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


flerp posted:

hi im a nerd
hey nerd, have Thrashing Mossdog


QuoProQuid posted:

ok, i guesssssssss

is magic the gathering anything like yu-gi-oh?
yeah pretty much

Exmond posted:

I'm in

Focusing on having a good opening line + paragraph that reveals conflict
Focusing on punctuation
Focusing on dialogue tags
I got you a Deathbringer Regent fresh from the shops

oh poo poo it's the Oblivion Stone

how do you feel about Night Dealings


Check out this Fathom Seer


jon joe posted:

I play the card Pot of Greed, which allows me to draw two cards from my deck!

And then I play in, which allows me to submit one story!
I got you an Illusory Demon

derp
Jan 21, 2010

a little less conversation and a little more filthy rodents


Lipstick Apathy

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:



how do you feel about Night Dealings



awesome

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

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

In.

Benny Profane
Feb 23, 2012



In, and requesting a spicy one.

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

imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Taciturn Tactician
Jan 26, 2011

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


Lipstick Apathy

Yeah alright I'm in

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


Taciturn Tactician posted:

Yeah alright I'm in
Craaaawling in my skiiiin, check out this duuuuude called Painsmith

Thranguy posted:

imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
meet Oloro, Ageless Ascetic

Benny Profane posted:

In, and requesting a spicy one.
How's Treacherous Urge suit you? Too bad it's your baby now don't drop it.

Eye Spy with my little eye a story that might not suck

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat


Gravy Boat 2k

In. Fingers crossed for a Phil Foglio card.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


Sham bam bamina! posted:

In. Fingers crossed for a Phil Foglio card.
I like a man who knows what he wants

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

im judge

Pippin
May 25, 2016


dude i love hearthstone, put me in with a

CantDecideOnAName
Jan 1, 2012

And I understand if you ask
Was this life,
was this all?


It's been years, TD, but I'm in. I sac Alchemist's Apprentice and draw a card.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Gotta write more words, maybe good ones this time? probably not

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


Pippin posted:

dude i love hearthstone, put me in with a
i dont even know whats going on here

CantDecideOnAName posted:

It's been years, TD, but I'm in. I sac Alchemist's Apprentice and draw a card.
I gotcha Ral Zarek

Uranium Phoenix posted:

Gotta write more words, maybe good ones this time? probably not
Whoa it's Dryad Arbor

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Hey I've sucked at submitting, so, can I judge instead*? I'm working on my writing, and reading all the other submissions is definitely inspiration to do more writing.

IF y'all still need a third judge.

if not, fine, I'm in for whatever this Magic Card Trick thing is.

Either or.

* I've judged before - Muffin and Sebmojo can vouch for me, OR can point out I sucked at judging.

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