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Apr 10, 2013

you guys made me ink!

Prompt: The Tower (Thoth)

The Energy (796 words)

Somewhat anxiously, Hélène entered the open air museum and began her search for The Energy.

Marseilles’ summer sun battered relentlessly upon the visitors. Hélène cursed the Kipling backpack pressing into her spine, pinning her rapidly dampening shirt against her back.

At the first bench she found, Hélène removed the backpack and retrieved a bottle of water, chugging it with reckless abandon until she finished with a crass sigh. “drat Provence,” she muttered to herself while readjusting the backpack’s contents. “drat drone.”

She overlooked the museum. The entrance and visitors center were wisely built at the top of the hill, and Hélène scoured the paths below for her target. The trail crisscrossed dozens of installations, ranging from a bronze sculpture of Pegasus, suspended high above the visitors, to various multicolored orbs that formed a maze for the guests to wander through.

Several artists had come to this opening day to showcase their works, to give vague explanations and receive ample praise in return. Hélène skimmed her visitor guide again, hoping Julie would be present, too.

The Energy was not hard to spot from up here. The piece, a tower built entirely of oversized matchsticks, rose out from above the hedgerows in the distance, and Hélène eyed it acutely during her descent.

It was tall. Taller than she’d expected, with a crowd of onlookers at its base, gazing upwards, all of them covering their eyes from the piercing sun. She briefly did the same, found the view down here to be lacking, and reached for her drone instead.

“I spy with my little eye in the sky,” she whispered absently to the tune of a song whose actual lyrics she’d forgotten. The drone, essentially a camera with four legs and propellers affixed on top of it, took to the sky with a gentle whir. Hélène rotated it around The Energy, appraising the snapshots on her controller’s screen as she photographed it from straight above, from its sides, from several diagonal angles until a woman said: “Please, no drones on the-… Hélène?”

She looked up. Facing her was a young lady in an elegant, black robe, entirely unfit for the weather.

“Julie,” Hélène said. She left the drone hovering above The Energy.

“I don’t want to talk,” Julie said, turning her head towards the grass. “Not now, not here.”

“That’s too bad, because I do.”

The visitors around them turned their backs on The Energy, whispering and throwing occasional glares at the girls. Hélène pretended not to notice them.

“Out of nowhere, you send me an e-mail, asking me to pay double outstanding royalties before you want to talk about the next book we’ll write together. I pay, thinking we could smooth it over later, and you give me the silent treatment for two weeks. And this weekend you simply tell me you signed a contract with a publisher?”

Julie, arms still crossed, eyes still down, shrugged. “An agent got in touch with me, and offered a deal. A publisher for my books, and they have a professional photographer.”

Hélène’s heart sank to her stomach. “But,” she said, lowering her arms in dejection. “But those were our books. You wrote the articles, you made the pieces, but I took the pictures. It was our project since college. You can’t just… Cut me off like that!”

Julie averted her eyes still, until Hélène trampled the grass in front of her and said: “Look at me!”

“What do you want me to say, Hélène?” she shouted back. “I can’t keep self-pubbing if I want to reach out to the world! It was a fun hobby when we were nineteen, but I’m in another league now!”

The air was silent, save for the gentle wind sweeping across the hill, as if to underscore Julie’s words. The crowd of onlookers had shuffled off now, coughing and embarrassed, until only the girls and the unspoken words between them remained.

Hélène sat down on a bench in front of The Energy and pulled her legs up, resting her chin on her knees. “Another league,” she repeated incredulously. Julie turned to leave, but not before a final parting shot: “You never were ambitious, Hélène. I thought you’d understand, subtly, but you had to make it personal.” And then she was gone.

Hélène sobbed gently, peering over her legs. A discarded glass bottle at The Energy’s base reflected the sun. Briefly, she considered picking it up.

“No,” she said. Thin trails of smoke appeared at the matchstick feet.

“You are lacking in empathy,” Hélène whispered to the world in general as the flames licked The Energy’s sides. The matchsticks caught flame, one by one, the conflagration rising to the very top. Hélène photographed the tower-turned-torch from every side, and wondered how much the pictures would be worth.


Apr 30, 2006

Hawklad posted:

I can judge if you're still lookin'

Sure, come on aboard!

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
For the love of little green apples, Thunderdome, :siren: stop putting your prompts in spoiler tags unless the judges ask you to do so. :siren: Posting them with your story is fantastic, but please do so in a way that's easy to see and record.

Don't edit your post if you've already submitted this week. Just bear this heartfelt request in mind in the future.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 04:23 on Oct 30, 2017

Apr 14, 2009

Cry 'Mayhem!' and let slip the dogs of Wardlow.
Predators and Prey
791 Words
Prompt: Temperance

A woman paced along train tracks, followed by a small boy. They headed from one town to the next, wary of any patrolling soldiers. The woman and her charge were less conspicuous, seeming like a mother and her child rather than what they were: black marketeers.

They had played it perfectly in the last town; the woman offered creature comforts like dry socks or bottles of booze—anything made rare by their inept government—in exchange for food. The boy would cry or just sit in a stupor and the woman would pretend to comfort him. Generous onlookers would offer up scraps of food or money. They got by like this, but could not stay in the same place for long.

Acting was fun for the boy, but he was innocent to the woman’s true goal of escape. Escape from the wretched country they called home and its oppressive, ignorant ruler.

The boy gnawed on a corn cob and dragged a battered suitcase as they walked. Around the corn cob he said, “I read a story about a frog once.”

The woman puffed a sigh which billowed around her in the frosty air.

“I think the frog was running from a hungry dog. But it hid in the water and the dog couldn’t get it.” The boy paused, then asked, “Did you ever see a frog?”

“Yes. Before the famine there were lots of frogs. My guess is they’ve been hunted into extinction.”

“That’s sad.”

The woman looked ahead to a small, haphazard city. There was no movement; most residents had fled. The ones who remained sat in the train station. Trains came sporadically and rarely offered food. Hope kept the people there more than anything.

The woman rummaged through her knapsack and pulled out two balls of sticky white rice.

Seeing the treats, the boy jogged up to her side, tripping in his outsized winter clothes.

“Take little bites,” the woman said. “You’ll feel fuller.”


They arranged their goods on the train station’s dirty floor. Cigarettes, scraps of paper, a small sack of grain, a jar of corn liquor. The woman scrutinized the crowd, looking for someone who might know a way across the border.

The people in the station stared at the new arrivals. After the boy got bored and wandered away, a tall man approached the woman’s makeshift shop.

“Waiting for the train?” the man asked.

“Trying to find my uncle. He was heading this way.” The woman kept her eyes down. If the man was an undercover police officer he would recognize the phrase and arrest her. He squatted next to her and whispered a name into her ear.

“He can take you.” The man gave a number, the price for crossing. “More if you bring the boy.”

After the man left, the woman called her companion back over.

“I’ve just heard good news,” she told the boy. “They have frogs a few towns ahead. We just need to save up money to get to see them.”

If the boy noticed her tears he made no acknowledgement.


Abandoning her young friend had almost been an afterthought. She gave him the rest of her money and food and left a note with her name and began her life as a free woman.

When his call finally came 10 years later the woman broke down. The boy had escaped. After a few years in a prison camp, he met a guide and crossed.

In the woman’s living room, the boy, now in his late teens, looked feral. She tried to ease his anxiety with sweets and tea.

“I can’t believe they make us pay for school here,” the boy said. He eyed the mug of tea like it was a lit firecracker.

“Yes, things are quite different.”

“I can’t even afford it. I wanted to study animals.”

The woman met the boy’s eyes and a chill rolled through her as she remembered the promise made years ago. The frogs had only been a convenient lie.

But she could not bring that up. “I’ve been able to save. I could help you out,” she said.

“I couldn’t ask you to do that,” said the boy. His posture approximated a wolf, leaning forward, eager.

“No, but I can offer.”


That night, the boy returned to his tenement room and surprised his girlfriend with the money. They eyed the bills together and rattled off possibile ways to spend their windfall.

“With this and our wages we can move into that apartment by your parents.”

His girlfriend hesitated. “That wouldn’t leave much for food,” she said.

The boy remembered his time in his home country. The woman had taught him much more than she realized.

“Well,” he said, “we’ll just have to take little bites.”

Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.

Kaishai posted:

For the love of little green apples, Thunderdome, :siren: stop putting your prompts in spoiler tags unless the judges ask you to do so. :siren: Posting them with your story is fantastic, but please do so in a way that's easy to see and record.

Don't edit your post if you've already submitted this week. Just bear this heartfelt request in mind in the future.

Wait, do I need to put the prompt in at all?

I enjoy making judges do extra work, hth

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Obliterati posted:

Wait, do I need to put the prompt in at all?

I enjoy making judges do extra work, hth

they get real lazy if you don't make em work for it

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007



Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at 06:47 on Dec 7, 2017

Jul 26, 2016

Silence speaks volumes
1090 words

Shapes flitted past the broad kitchen window, hopping like large menacing birds about the yard. The two men stood next to the fridge, their gaze turned inward, watching-but-not-watching the windows as they’d done since childhood.

“What the gently caress is he doing here?” Chris whispered angrily, opening an IPA and handing it to Steve.

“Mick’s a good guy, Chris. Can you just give him a chance?”

“He’s an rear end in a top hat,” Chris said, cracking the top of his own beer, his cufflinks catching the light.

“Yeah, but you kind of are too, man.”

Chris erupted, half laugh, half retort, “gently caress y-”

Both men froze. The shapes outside froze. And then the shapes moved. Not hopping anymore, drifting now. Inquisitive, dark and formless, pushing up against the windows like a thin black fog. Outside it was silent except for a gentle breeze murmuring through the leaves. A tap dripped in the quiet kitchen, the droplet on the stainless steel sink breaking the two men out of their trance.

“Ohhhhhhh no,” Steve whispered.

“Uh.. guys?” A new voice, Mick. The third man crept into the kitchen, very deliberately not-watching the windows. The two others turned, very slowly, toward him.

All three men, almost instinctively, started to crouch behind the kitchen bench, out of site of the window. They moved as smoothly as they could, taking care not to jerk or move too quickly. They huddled, squatting above the unswept hardwood. Each wide-eyed and straining with the effort of holding their varying middle-aged torsos aloft.

The silence outside grew, the air thick as the shapes pushed up against the house, enveloping it now. The window above the bench was completely covered, an undulating mass of writhing forms, deep and black except for the odd curve caught by the soft yellow bulb of the kitchen light.

Their minds raced, Mick’s got there first. “Bathroom?” he mouthed. The other two caught up and nodded. The bathroom was upstairs, once they were clear of the kitchen there weren’t any windows to pass except for one set in the front door. Mick rolled forward gently from his haunches onto hands and knees, then Chris, then Steve. The three of them crawling through the dust where Steve’s kids had a decade or so ago, inching toward the doorway, one slow hand in front of the other.

The silence had started to creep inside the house, pooling on the floor and sloshing around them, each man now hearing only his own breath and the blood. Wisps of black licked out from the corners of the windows, the sealant bubbling and peeling away silently.

Steve pushed the door shut behind him, not-watching the window bulge inward as he did so. Chris and Mick now slightly ahead as they crawled past the closed lounge door, Steve mentally thanked Mick for having the foresight to close it before he came to the kitchen. The trio rounded the newell of the stairs, leading up from the front door. All three not-watched it vibrate as they turned away from it and started to climb.

Halfway up the stairs, they felt the house sigh as it relented - windows broke silently under pressure and waves of black quietly poured in. The house heaved without sound as it resettled, now full, lower walls straining outward. Steve not-watched in horror as the hallway door collapsed and a wave of black rolled and roiled down the hall toward the base of the stairs, slamming against the front door and curling over on itself.

The silence enveloped everything, preparing it for the black mass now building up toward the second floor. The men scrambled the last half-a-flight of stairs to the top, not worried about drawing attention now, Steve still slightly behind the other two.

Mick flung the door to their refuge open. Steve’s discoloured bathtub, ugly shower curtain and water-damaged floorboards had not worn his divorce well, but they’d never looked more inviting than at this moment. Chris barrelled through the portal, twisting in the air to turn and watch for Steve as his velocity and bulk sent him soundlessly and violently into the wall of the tub.

Steve slipped on the top step, crashing to the floor. His ribs collided with the corner of the stair, knocking the wind from him. He looked down as his leg was enveloped by blackness, cool like a breeze but hungry, so hungry, oh god he could feel it weaving its way through his pores, between the sinews, wrapping around bo -

Steve’s arm nearly popped out of its socket, pain shot through his body from his shoulder tearing his thoughts away from his leg. Mick had him by the wrist and was hauling him up out of the rising tide, face calm amidst the chaos. Mick shouted wordlessly over his shoulder at Chris. His usually immaculate wardrobe twisted and torn from their flight, he sat blubbering inaudibly and shaking his head.

Mick shook his head and put his arms underneath Steve’s, wrapping them about his chest. He pulled Steve’s disappearing lower half up out of the black, letting momentum carry them both back toward the bathroom as the black let go, turning and heaving Steve through the door.

Steve fell awkwardly, only catching a glimpse of Mick before his head struck the floor and he passed out. Only long enough to see Mick push the door shut as a wave of black washed up and over him.

When Steve came to, he could hear Chris snoring. It took him a few moments to realise he could actually hear, that the smothering silence had gone. It took him a few moments more to realise how he got there.


Steve clambered to the door and gingerly pushed it open, daylight had slowly started to bleed through the house now. The terrible black surge from night before had receeded, leaving no signs save for broken windows, and Mick lying at the top of the stairs.

Steve grabbed Mick by the shoulders and shook him, the other man’s eyes fluttered and then opened. His face puzzled, and then a broad sunray of a smile spread across it.

“Oh Christ, Mick,” Steve gasped. “You scared the poo poo out of me.”

Mick looked puzzled again, and then pointed at his ear. He tried to speak, but silence flowed out. His face fell.

Chris emerged from the bathroom, “Holy crap! He’s alive?”

Chris filled the silence, “What? Steve, what’s wrong?”

Steve not-watched Chris as the standing man got more agitated, but honestly, he didn’t have any more to say to him.

Prompt: Strength + Knight of Cups (Rider Waite Smith)

Sep 22, 2005

Ehh dammit.

Mar 21, 2013

Grimey Drawer
prompt: three of stones - wildwood tarot
wordcount: 794

Into the Wood

Suzy came racing down the woodland path, coat and schoolbag flapping behind. "I got your text, babe. What's the emergency? This had better be good because me and Sam are going out later for my...jeez, Luce, you're turning into a tree!"

Lucy stood surrounded by trees, and framed by a dolmen with blue electricity crackling along its carved spirals and whorls. She patted her thighs, which still remained flesh, to indicate the curling of trunk and roots that splayed out from them. "I know, right! I mean, what the gently caress?"

"Why are you a tree, Luce?"

"How should I know? Does it matter? I can't be a tree. Not after...just not. Can you stop it?"

Suz tapped at a root with her foot. "Not after what? Can you feel that?"

"Nope." Lucy drummed her fingernails against her hardening kneecaps. They sang out like a woodpecker. "Whatever. You have to get me out. There's never a good time to be a bleeding tree."

"Technically, a sappy tree," said Suz, kneeling down to inspect the earth into which stiff tendrils of Lucy were disappearing. "What can I do?"

"I dunno - can you pull me out?" Lucy held out her arms, and waved for Suzy to grab her hands. Suzy did so and yanked hard, groaning with the effort. Her feet slipped in the loamy earth and she slid onto her butt with a surprised yelp. Despite her predicament, Lucy giggled.

"Shut uuuup," said Suzy, standing and brushing off dirt. "Sorry, you're too firmly rooted."

"Tell me about it," sighed Lucy. "I think it's this weird stone thing. I was just going for a walk and I found it. It looked kind of cool, so I was checking it out, taking photos, when it started up with the glowy stuff. I touched it and next thing you know, here I am, like some forest nymph...thing."

"I always said you were a nympho, babes."

"Not helping. At all. What is going on?"

Suzy walked around the dolmen, peering at it intently. She reached out a hand toward the crackling capstone. There was a surge of blue light, reaching toward her fingers.

"Don't bloody touch it!" said Lucy. Suzy whipped her hand away. "I don't want you getting stuck too."

"Fair point, babes" said Suzy. "So, what were you doing out here anyway?"

"I told you. I just came out for a walk."

"This part of the park. It's kind of near Sam's place, isn't it?"

"I dunno. Maybe. Christ, Luce, I can't feel my legs."

"Yep," said Suzy, inspecting her closely. "That's your legs gone. Hey - you said you were taking photos, do you have your phone?"

"Sure," said Lucy. "I think I put it down after I texted you. Now I can't even reach it. What good is that going to do."

"We could call someone."

"A loving tree surgeon maybe? Jeez, Suz."

"Here it is," said Suzy, picking up the black plastic smartphone. "I'll call Sam."

"No! My hips are wood, Suze. I am never, ever, ever going to have sex. All those drat cosmopolitan quizzes I took, even the freaky seventies ones. Wasted."

"Why not call Sam?" Suzy swiped at the phone's screen, deftly drawing Lucy's unlock diagram. "Hey, there's a text here from him. 'Meet me in the park'. OMG, Luce, did you meet Sam here?"

"I really, strenuously, do not think that this is the time or the place," said Lucy. "I think my arms are…"

"Yes or no, or I leave you right here and you can be a goddamned tree by yourself forever."

"All right," said Lucy, waving two branches apologetically. "All right. We met. He said he wanted to talk to me. I thought it was about your birthday, but he said he had always fancied me. Suze, I don't want to rush you but my neck is feeling a bit stiff."

"Oh my god, you snogged my boyfriend on my birthday." Suzy's eyes glistened in sorrow and anger as she choked back a sob. "You bitch!"

"Check the photos..." said Lucy, her jaw locking as a branch burst from her mouth. Her hair erupted into leaves and flowers. Blue electricity filled the air.

Suzie stood alone in the clearing, holding the phone. She didn't move for a moment, didn't even think. A tear tickled her nose. A bird flew in and landed in a rush of wind and wings. Landed on the magnolia before her in full, glorious bloom. Still stunned, Suzie poked at the phone, started up the PhotoGallery app.

The fourth most-recent photo was Sam, curled into a ball on the loamy ground, holding his crotch.

Suzy reached out and touched the dolmen. Blue electricity crackled up her arm. It felt like love.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Prompt: The Devil (Ostara Tarot)

Sober as the Sky
800 words

The cave was sudden and full of familiar, broken things.

Mara rested against a splintered pile of furniture, breathing carefully around a sharpness in her left ribs. Skye sat opposite Mara, knees drawn up to her chest. She clasped her hands together, tried to focus on not touching her face. She hadn’t asked Mara how bad it was, but the red-hot lattice of pain across her nose and cheeks told her that her reflection was going to look a lot different next time she saw it.

The ceiling groaned as it settled into its new position. The only light came from a cellphone, which sat on the floor in between the two women.

Mara reached for her purse, which she’d been holding when the earthquake hit. She withdrew a clear plastic water bottle.

“Good thinking,” Skye said, mistaking the liquid in the bottle for water. Mara wouldn’t meet her eyes. Skye’s grateful smile faded. “Mara, you didn’t…”

“Yeah, I did,” Mara said, then took a shallow, hissing breath. The invisible knife in her left ribs twisted, and she clenched her teeth for the pain. “I guess I wasn’t as ‘functional’ as I said.” She started to untwist the bottlecap.

“Alcohol dehydrates,” Skye said, eyeing the bottle with one part anger and one part shameful craving. “And if that’s vodka, you’re looking at around one hundred and thirteen calories, so you can’t even make the case for sustenance.”

Mara ignored Skye’s recovering alcoholic-math and said, “I’m dead anyway. Might as well go out on my terms.”

“I’m not a diabetes doctor,” Skye said, “but don’t you have like, hours before your insulin runs out, or whatever?” The cellphone light dimmed. Skye prodded the screen and it brightened again. The battery display read thirty percent.

Mara shrugged. “Maybe. But how many other people do you think are buried like us? How many rescuers do you think are out there?”

“We can’t make worst case assumptions,” Skye said. She tried to frown, was punished by a fresh surge of pain from the lacerations on her face.

“I’ve spent my whole life knowing I’ll probably die from organ failure,” Mara said. “I thought I’d live long enough that society would let me choose when and how I go. I’d have a nice party, and coast out of this life on a cocktail of chemicals.” She held up the bottle. “Now I think this is the closest I’ll get.”

“So you’re gonna get drunk and leave me here with your corpse?”

The cellphone’s screen dimmed again. Skye tapped it. The battery had gone down another three percent in the time they’d been arguing.

Mara said nothing, looked up at the low ceiling of their makeshift cave. The remnants of the building’s wiring dangled like entrails.

“You’re right,” Skye said after a long interval of claustrophobic silence. “gently caress it. There’s no hope. Let’s drink.”

“No,” Mara said. “Not you.”

“Why not? It’s hopeless, right? If no one is coming for us, what does it matter if I ‘fall off the wagon’?” She leaned forward, so the gashes on her face glistened in the phonelight.

“Don’t care. Not enabling. You deserve to--” You deserve to die sober, is what Mara had been about to say, but the word die stuck in her throat like a tonsil stone.

“Make me a deal,” Skye said, licking her lips. “If no one rescues us before the cellphone dies, we drink. Half for you, half for me. Deal?”

Mara looked at her for a long moment. “Deal.”

So they waited, and waited, and took turns stoking the small, digital fire until its glow faded and then, finally, snuffed itself out for good. The darkness was absolute, obliterated all sense of space and self.

“Oh,” Skye said, her voice soft.

“So,” Mara said. Her voice floated in the darkness, disembodied, originless. “How do we do this?”

“You take a swig, I take a swig,” Skye’s voice replied. “Not like we got shotglasses.”

A sudden dryness in Mara’s throat make her cough, which made the knife in her ribs flare red-hot. “Yeah,” she rasped, and took a sip.

When she was done, she shoved the bottle in Skye’s general direction, just as Skye reached out for the bottle--Skye’s mind was reeling for the forbidden drink she was about to taste--and their hands collided in the dark. Instead of taking the bottle, Skye knocked it out of Mara’s hands and sent it skittering across the small floorspace, all a-glug-glug-glug with spilling vodka.

Something shuffled overhead, too regular to be the settling of the collapsed apartment building. Mara and Skye paused, then threw themselves at the wall of their ‘cave’, screaming and howling, and when the backhoe came and pulled the rubble away, the sky was blue and sober as birth, and they laughed and laughed and cried.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

The lesson of the axe
800 words


Mikhail picked up the dice and rattled them, making them click clack in his palm. “These are pretty. How do you make them?”

“Stones from the old quarry,” said Sergei. He waved at his wall of tools. “I cut them with a bandsaw, I smooth and polish them, then I inscribe the dots with my tiny little pipiska. Are you going to throw the loving dice?”

Mikhail grinned, and tossed them on the table. “That explains everything about your last marriage. I got a six, fill me up.”

Sergei tipped the vodka bottle and Mikhail’s chair creaked as he leaned back.

“How about those round stones, in the corner?”

Sergei didn’t look, but he seemed to shrink a little. “They tell the future.”

Mikhail let out a surprised guffaw as he sat forward again. “You’re a soothsayer, now?”

Sergei glanced at the stones, which were piled in a rough stack on the edge of his cluttered workbench. Each one was carved with intricate curlicues and pierced with holes.

“Yes,” he said.


Sergei swung the pickaxe over his head and let it fall. It is the axe that does the work, not your arms, his father always said.

A whoop came from below. “I found another!”

Katya was holding a smooth round stone above her head like a trophy. She came leaping up the slope to show him, jumping from boulder to boulder like a child at the seaside. “This is my favourite, you can see the past in it. Look!” The stone was smooth and pale, with a faint dark tracery embossed on it. “Recrystallized scleratinia,” she said. Her teeth were very white. “Coral.”

Sergei went to kiss her but she held up her hand. “Nyet. Not until I find five more. Then, haha! You may buy me vodka and ride me like a sailor at shore leave!”

Cackling, she bounded back down to her hunting ground.


“I carved it, and then she found the way they could foretell,” said Sergei, speaking each word as though feeling his way across a swamp. “At first it was a game. Then, not so much. She said the future is just the past all over again. She showed me how.”

Mikhail put a stubby finger on one of the round discs and spun it around. He watched the patterns move, then looked up belligerently.

“So why won’t you tell my future, are you afraid? A scaredy cat of some kind?”

Sergei was silent. The stone had stopped spinning. The whirring of the mechanical clock was the only sound in the workroom.

“So do it. Do it. Or is it just some bullshit you made up to explain why your wife left you?”

Sergei looked at his friend’s red, drunken face. His shoulders slumped. He reached out and gathered the stones in close, then laid them out in front of him and set them spinning, one at a time. “Watch the stones, first this one, then that, then that. Ask your question, but not out loud. When the stones stop, you will have your answer. But do not speak it.”


The sun was touching the hill on the other side of the valley when Sergei got home from the quarry. He frowned when he saw Katya at the table, stones before her. She was leaning forward, lips moving as though she was talking to them.

At his approach she looked up. “I asked about us.”

“Don't tell me,” Sergei said, his stomach knotting up as though he'd swallowed a stone. “We agreed.”

Her mouth worked for a few seconds. Then she started talking, spitting out the words.

“There's nothing. It comes to nothing. No children. No future. No us. We have no future. There is nothing for us."

Sergei dropped the sack of stones. He watched the sack slump, and smooth white stones spill out of its mouth and slide down the hill.

“Was it all for that? Was it really all for the maybe, and the one day, and the perhaps? Wasn’t it for the moments?” He picked up a stone. “This one, I thought of you. It’s like the first. Coral.”

She looked at him, and her eyes went opaque. Then she shook her head and went inside. When she came out, for the last time, Sergei was staring at the whirling stones.


The last stone stopped spinning and Mikhail looked up. His mouth opened to speak, but something in Sergei’s face made him close it.

Then he stood, pushing back his chair, and plucked a heavy hammer off the wall. He waited a moment, but Sergei said nothing. Mikhail raised the hammer over the first stone, then let it fall.

Aug 7, 2013




ThirdEmperor fucked around with this message at 14:49 on Dec 25, 2017

Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.
e: RIP

Obliterati fucked around with this message at 16:01 on Dec 7, 2017

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's DIE!"
Spring Break
800 Words
Prompt: Chariot, from Tarot of the Silicon Dawn

I’ve been waiting months for Aurora and Meulusine to come back, and now that they’re here, all they can talk about is clothes and boys. Human boys! I thought it would be like old times. I thought my request could be a fun little adventure for us, a romp through the Doom Forest, break a thrice-sealed enchantment, and back to my place for hot cocoa. Now, I dunno. We’re hanging out in my bedroom, just like we used to, Aurora hugging my Aladdin pillow, Meulusine floating four inches off the ground. I'm feeling bored and uncool, and, I realize, anxiously chewing my tail.

I wait for a break in the liturgy of Ryders, Ryans, and Rileys they’ve gone out with, and when the argument about appropriate skirt lengths for first dates seems to be over, I think it’s an okay time to ask about the whole sword thing.

“Aurora—,” I start to say. She interrupts.

“It's Rory now.”

“And I'm Mel,” says Meulusine. “Everyone thinks it’s short for Melissa.” They both laugh. Is that funny?

Unlike me, Aurora and Meulusine look human enough to go to college outside of Fairyland. Queen Elaine says cultural exchanges are good for us all, that we shouldn’t lock ourselves up and ignore the rest of reality any more, etc., so anyone who has basically human anatomy is encouraged to hop-along-sally to Harvard or Yale or wherever. They just had to glam down their ears a bit, maybe dye their hair, and put on some different clothes. Glamour has limits, though. Glamour might be able to make me look like a human, but it cannot, for example, make it possible to sit my four paws and a tail in a human-shaped desk.

“But you’re back in Fairyland now,” I say. “You can use your real names.”

“Oh, God no,” says Aurora, “they’re so ridiculous.”

“I think Aurora is a lot prettier than Rory.”

Eye rolls. Meulusine shrugs, then winks at Aurora. “You’ve got to admit it’s better than Eglantine, at least.”

She can barely say my name without laughing, and Aurora is totally losing it. I try to laugh with them, but don’t really succeed. I like my name.

“Oh my god,” Aurora says to Meulusine, “we have to give her a normal name. I just can’t say Eglantine all week.”

“She could be Tina.”

“That’s so…ehh. What about Lani? Lani sounds cool,” says Aurora.

“I like Tina better,” I say. I like Eglantine best, but I’m kind of grateful to be included at all. I may not have an opinion on skirt lengths, but at least I get a nickname.

“No, Rory’s right, Lani sounds way cooler.”

Okay, so I don't get to pick my own nickname. The conversation turns to shirts. At least I could conceivably wear a shirt. But it’s not really a convenient segue into “oh by the way will you help me get that dumb sword back?” So finally, I take a deep breath, and just blurt it out.

“I need to get Cuthbert’s sword back.”

They stare at me blankly for a half a second, then remember.

“The one we hid in the Doom Forest?”

“The one that wouldn’t stop screaming?”

“Yes, that one. The one we stole and the one that he needs for Magic Combat 2, apparently. We all did the seal together, so it’ll take three people to undo it.”

“And, it needs to be on the night of the full moon,” Meulusine says.

“Which is this Friday,” I say. They both groan. “What?”

“That’s the night of Henry’s party,” Aurora moans. This is the first I’ve heard about Henry and his party. Meulusine frowns at Aurora, and Aurora shrugs, and I get the impression that if I hadn’t asked them to help me out, I wouldn’t have heard about it at all.

“It’s a human party,” Meulusine says, as if that explains everything. And I suppose it just about does, doesn’t it?

“Isn’t there anyone else you can ask?” Aurora says.

Awkward silence.

“Of course we’ll help you get it back,” Meulusine finally says. Thank God.

And so on Friday, we do the whole thing. Romp through the Doom Forest. Break the thrice-sealed enchantment. Get sword. Try to ignore fact that sword won’t stop screaming. It’s not like old times, but it’s something.

“Want to go back to my place?” I shout over the sword. “I have hot cocoa!”

I can tell what the answer is when they exchange looks.

“Sorry Lani,” Meulusine says, “Henry just texted that the party’s still going, so….”

“Right, well. Thanks for helping,” I say, but they’ve already flashed off, and I’m left standing alone in the dark, with only Cuthbert’s screaming sword for company.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat
Start with a Large Fortune
840 words

"I've been putting this off way, way too long. I'm done here."

It's been four years. Four years of treading water while imagining it's a breaststroke. Four years gone to waste, but better four than five, than ten.

"What? What's that supposed to mean, Evan?"

"I mean... what else do you want me to say? I can't do this anymore! I'm done!"

The sign above the door is off for the night. The Henhouse has sputtered across the finish line of another day. Fumes have been enough to run on for a while.

I've always loved to cook. I think I got it from my dad, who got it from his mom, who got it from who knows where. There's nothing quite as satisfying as putting a bunch of poo poo together, doing just the right things to it, and ending up with something innately different. Innately better. It feels like this should violate some law of physics, always getting out more than you put in. I'm sure it's the same way with any craft or art, but with me, it's cooking.

Cal's a little different. He likes getting out exactly what he puts in, or more accurately, what other people put in, minus expenses. He's an Entrepreneur, capital E, the Jobs to my Woz, the one who makes poo poo happen. I've never seen him happier than when he totaled up our balance after our first year and saw that we were a few thousand in the black – he'd worked his rear end off pulling everything together, making sure that it all worked, and his machine had gotten past a rough start and was running smoothly. It was a miracle, and he was proud to have worked it. We were proud.

I always got to make dinner on Saturdays, and I probably would have done it the rest of the week if not for school. Cal would come over a lot. What I remember most was how impressed he always was – cooking was something that adults did, but here I was, doing it like some kind of magic trick. I think the biggest trick for him was the Moroccan chicken and rice, impossibly tender and flowing with the tastes of meat and tomatoes, since that's what he ended up mentioning first when he came to me a decade later.

There is nothing sadder than a spoiled chicken. Nothing except ten of them. It feels so stupid to care about it the way I should care about a person. What's my problem?

The Landons first came in on a whim sometime late in our first year. We saw them again a few weeks later – it was little Allie's birthday. They still come in. They even came in today, had chicken barbecue pizza. I'm going to miss them.

I remember when it first hit me. My brother was in town, and he wanted to treat me to dinner. I took him up on it; it would be nice to have someone else make it for a change. We went to Demetriou's, a Mediterranean fusion place downtown, and I decided to have a lamb burger. The restaurant was packed, but my burger came out in half an hour. It was goddamn perfection. And biting into that lamb, the feta and olives on top of it, the thick bun that held it all together, I realized something: I could have made this. Why the hell wasn't I making this?

Hindsight is 20/20, but I guess some things should have been apparent even then. Our location was good on paper, with plenty of visibility from the highway and not too much competition, but we were dwarfed by the Home Depot across the street, and that's probably what stuck in people's minds instead of us when they drove by. Another problem is that chicken is really easy to cook in really boring ways, and when most people think of it, they probably aren't thinking of the things that we – I – like to put together. The "Henhouse" branding might have been honest, but it was wrong.

It's one thing to get tired of something, to know that whatever it might have been is gone and isn't coming back. It's another thing to get tired of something bound up with someone you're very close to. And when it's bound up with you too, it starts to really fuckin' hurt. I can't do this. I can't just rip it out to let it die.

God dammit. I can't do this to Cal. Maybe next week.

Now it's been three.

"That's it? You're done? What the gently caress does that mean?"


"You think you can just give me the mother of all gently caress-yous and I'll lie down and take it?"

"This whole thing's dead, Cal. It's dead and it's killing me and you too. I've found something else. I know you can."

He walks up and knocks out three of my teeth.

The interview went very well.

I start on Monday.

Apr 30, 2006
Entries are closed.

Aug 2, 2002




putting your prompt in is more for kaishai when she archives it. gently caress the judges.

i forget to link my subprompt like, every single time. sorry kai

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat
Oh, I probably should have included mine.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Yippee Ki Ay, Mozeltover

Deborah adjusted and readjusted her snood. It was something of a nervous habit for her; one of the few habits she allowed herself. The conversation within the room below had probably told her enough. She could go back to headquarters and make her report.

Her phone went off in her pocket, and she quickly pulled it out and hung up. It’d been Naomi. Of course. It was her own fault, Deborah thought. She should’ve put it on silent. Or turned it off. Or left it at home.

The voices in the room paused, and then, “Was that one of you?”

“No,” said another voice, “I have the standard Nokia ringtone.”

A third voice said, “I’ve got Climb Every Mountain.”

Deborah’s phone went off again. “To life, to life, l’chaim,” it let out, before Deborah picked it up and answered it.

“Not a good time, Naomi,” she said.

“But rabbi,” said Naomi, which was what she always called Deborah prior to making her miserable, “I’m having a real crisis of faith here.”

The three men who’d been inside the building came outside and pointed guns at Deborah. She sighed. “All right Naomi, tell me what’s wrong.”

The three men opened fire, and Deborah backflipped from the roof, landing behind a nearby shipping container.

“Are you watching TV?” asked Naomi?

“No,” said Deborah. “I’ve got kind of a situation going on here, but it’s fine, I can multitask.” With her hand that wasn’t holding the phone, she pulled out a menorah. She pointed the candles towards her attackers, and fired them off. As the candles exploded in blinding colours, she ran up the side of the shipping crate, jumped off, and clung onto the hook of the nearby tower crane.

“Well,” said Naomi, “sometimes I just think, I mean, what if the Messiah doesn’t come?”

“He probably won’t, within our lifetime,” said Deborah.

“I mean, what if he never does?”

“Is that what you believe?” asked Deborah.

“No!” said Naomi. “I definitely believe in the coming of the Messiah. But I mean…” but Naomi’s next words were drowned out, as the hook to which Deborah clung received some gunfire from below. Deborah put the phone in her pocket and quickly climbed the crane’s chain, until she stood in the jib.

“Sorry,” said Deborah, “had to relocate. What were you saying just now?”

“Oh sorry,” said Naomi, “is my crisis of faith inconveniencing you?”

“A little bit,” said Deborah, and regretted it instantly.

“Well, fine!” said Naomi. “I’m sorry for thinking you’d care about my spiritual wellbeing!”

“I didn’t mean…” said Deborah, but Naomi had already hung up. “Oy vey.” Deborah shook her head, and looked below. The three men had given up on trying to shoot her, and had gotten into a truck and started to drive away. “Not today, you schmoes.” She took a dreidel from her pocket, gave it a twist, and threw it down towards the truck. It let out an EMP pulse, and the truck slowly slid to a stop. The crane’s cabin was only about ten metres away, so she swung out on the jib and crashed through the cabin’s window. Before the men could figure out how to unlock the doors of their fried truck, she used the crane controls to swing the hook into the underside of the truck and quickly hoist it up. The truck now dangled from about twenty metres above the ground.

Deborah called headquarters to come and collect the three men. Once the truck had been taken down and the (somewhat queasy) inhabitants taken into custody, Deborah pulled out her phone again and steeled herself for the far more difficult task of the day: talking to Naomi.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


620 words btw

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.

Apr 10, 2013

you guys made me ink!

Very Brexit Problems (5 words.)

Liars, liars, pants on fire.

Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving And something has got to give

Twenty Goddamn Years of This
242 words

The worst part is, Dave's always sorry afterwards.

Once everything's sinking in -- in the ER waiting room; twenty minutes into a silent drive home; in Joey's living room, with Joey curled up knees-to-chest on the couch, trying his level best not to cry -- Dave apologizes, every time, and he always means it. "It was a stupid idea, okay? I don't know what I was thinking." Or "look, I'll call Steph tomorrow, smooth this over. It's my fault. I'll make it right." Or just "I'm sorry. I'll make this up to you, buddy." Every drat time, and every time Dave does just enough to keep the wheels on Joey's lovely beater of a life, and then two weeks later Dave has another great idea and Joey tries again. And then the ER, or the silent car, or the living room and the stifled sobs.

All Joey needs is one moment of insincerity. One laugh from Dave, or one "gently caress you," or even one faked apology, and Joey could walk away. But Dave's always sorry, and he always means it, and Joey always remembers that day in the park: his flaming pants around his ankles, and Dave throwing himself on the fire, sobbing. His remorse was bone-deep, even once the doctor said the burns were superficial. "No harm, no foul," Joey had said.

When you forgive someone for lighting you on fire, it's hard to learn how to stop forgiving them for everything else.

Dec 5, 2013
Next verse same as the first.
Brexit happened, yes.
Fires, pants, silliness, and lies.
Like the cake at tea.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk





Apr 30, 2006
:siren: WEEK 273 JUDGEMENT :siren:

I thought this was a pretty solid week. I only had a handful of stories that fell into my personal low or mid/low stacks, and I thought everything else was pretty solid. If you didn’t HM this week, don’t feel bad -- there were at least five more stories on my HM candidate list, and at least half the stories this week were in contention for a high mention from at least one of the judges.

Only one DM this week, and it goes to Exmond. Please don’t get discouraged. You’re making progress, but there’s still too much pulp action in a week that called for emotion and strong characters.

HMs go to Nethilia and Sitting Here. In the end, these stories edged out their competition in offering more complicated and nuanced takes on their themes, and also making me feel a thing.

The loss goes to BabyRyoga, due to a combination of mechanical errors, a near-incomprehensible conclusion, and a lack of an actual friendship in the story.

And the win goes to Ironic Twist, whose story this week was dark, bizarre, and a little off-putting, just like The Hanged Man himself. The throne is yours, Twist!

May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

sparksbloom posted:

Only one DM this week, and it goes to Exmond. Please don’t get discouraged. You’re making progress, but there’s still too much pulp action in a week that called for emotion and strong characters.

Requesting Crits and uhh pointing out your prompt never called for emotion and strong characters.I'd specifically like to know why it was a DM, if anyone can help me with that.

take the moon
Feb 13, 2011

by sebmojo
nvm actually

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

thunder dome ironic twist is asleep and the only way we'll get a new prompt is if YOU wake him up! the only way to do that is by yelling PROMPT as loud as you can!

Apr 30, 2006
Crits, part 1

BabyRyoga -- “A Transgression”

As far as I can tell, there’s no “friendship” being tested here, but that’s secondary to the larger problem of my having no idea what’s going on here. As in I can’t exactly tell who’s speaking at the end of the story, on the most literal level -- I assume it’s gotta be the teenager, because the older guy has a dagger in his neck, but with the way the paragraphs are broken up, this isn’t entirely clear. And on a more macro level, I have no idea what the boy is hoping to gain in joining bird club, or why he’s so certain in having the moral high ground here. All of this means it’s really hard to take this story seriously, and the grammatical errors and stylistic quirks (too much all caps onomonopia for my taste, thanks) don’t help either.

Speaking of style: “A crooked smile slowly formed upon the lips of an older man - a professional of sorts, complete with your run of the mill suit and tie combo.” Is this really so much better than “An older man, dressed in a suit and tied, smiled?”


CantDecideOnAName -- “Favors”

This comes to a conclusion that I enjoyed, that manages to convey a nice emotional range in relatively few words. I just think it takes too long and requires too much scene-setting to get there, especially since it’s delivered in this “as you know” style that doesn’t seem very organic. But once the scene’s set, I get a good sense of who these characters are, and the dialogue’s well-written and flows well. I enjoyed the subtlety around the exact situation, and it’s a little more unsettling to not have the circumstances defined precisely. I do wish we had more insight into why Brennan changes his mind at the last minute, some window into his thought process, or at least a sense of what he has to lose -- that sort of thing would make this more immediate. But I think the story is pretty successful in doing what it sets out to do.


Yoruichi - “Paper Dreams”

I like the tone of this story and its theme of striving for dreams, and I like the way it contrasts the selfish and selfless dreams. Unfortunately it doesn’t really click with me on a deeper level, and I feel like the story is holding me at a distance, like a dream you try to remember and then you can only remember one or two images from. I think the issue is that this story is so awash in similes that there isn’t enough concrete detail to really seize upon; these characters are archetypes, and they could be anyone. On one hand, that’s good for some readers, who find that sort of thing relatable. I need the specificity to really seize on things. But -- back to that other hand -- this is really something of a fable, a punishment for putting too much stock in idle dreams and hoping, and do fables really need specificity? I don’t know, but I do know this is a well-written story and my issues with it are nebulous.


Aesclepia -- Girls Night In

To be fair, this wasn’t the easiest card. I gave you the card that means “friendship” for a prompt that was “write about friendship,” which was probably one of the bigger challenges this week. But yeah -- I didn’t like this very much. Part of it is that nothing happens, and this wouldn’t be quite so bad if things didn’t keep threatening to happen. Like an actual conflict: whatever Lyn doesn’t want to talk about, or whatever the criminals are getting up to. But nothing explodes into an actual conflict, everything just gets swept under the rug, and all that’s left is small talk between these three people, and they’re lovingly portrayed, but it’s just not very interesting. I’m not sure why the criminals are even included at all, since they don’t get up to anything interesting, but instead they eat up words that would be better used exploring the conflicts of personality with the three characters you’re actually focusing on.


Nethilia - “The Pains of Hurting Me”

I love the depth of the sense of setting this story conveys in its very limited length. You’ve also conveyed the specificity of the relationship between Johnny, his mother, and Patsy, and how these relationships are inflected by the setting. It’s immediately engrossing, and I immediately feel like I know this world, this place, these people. The only part I don’t love is the ending. I like the violent fantasy of the skipping stone, but the last line lands a little flat, a little too passive, a little too generic for a story otherwise awash in specific color.


Exmond - A Good Dog

I think the two parts of this story don’t juxtapose well. I see what you’re going for with the parallel structure between the bear attack and the protagonist’s misgivings about his reaction to Ivy, but it doesn’t work because the bear attack is written like pulp. It’s silly and cartoonish, and it’s juxtaposed against an emotional core that I find much more compelling, except we don’t get any time to explore the narrator’s relationship to Ivy, his complicated feelings that makes dealing with her diagnosis seriously because we’re reading about a bear attack. People have given you the solid advice to move away from pure pulp, and I’m glad to see you’re trying that, but I wish you’d gone even more in that direction and developed the down-to-earth aspects of this story.

You're right that I didn't specifically say "it has to be emotional" this week, but the stories that were most successful running with this prompt explored the sense that a friendship being tested is an inherently emotional experience, and milked that for drama. The part of your story with Ivy shows you intuitively understand this, but it feels shoehorned in, and there's tonal whiplash when it's tethered to the madcap bear attack. I think you could even have this work even better if it was a different animal attacking, one that's a little more grounded the everyday reality of this situation. A larger, violent dog, for example, wouldn't feel so over-the-top.

Medium low.

flerp - “⅖ Stars, My Dog Is Still Dead”

I’m conflicted with this one, because on one hand this story makes me feel things, but on the other I feel like it’s a little cheap. The last line hits me right in the gut, and there’s other lines that do the same thing, like the kid playing with the dog’s scraps of fur. And I like the relationship you’ve captured between the narrator and his mother, which is a nice little portrait of unconditional love. But am I outing the coldness of my heart if I think this is a little thin? Once Mom comes by and interrupts the ritual, the story just vamps on this one note -- which is a moving and touching note, don’t get me wrong -- for a little too long, and I’m very conscious that I’m being emotionally manipulated. I do like feeling things and I have a soft spot for sad lonely kids, so I end up liking this a lot anyway, but I can’t really love it because it’s a little over-the-top.


Okua -- “The Labyrinth”

My main question reading this is what Lia’s motivations are here. There’s a moment where she feels used, manipulated, and at that point I thought she was bringing back the key to heal her friend. But then she swallows the key, and I’m left wondering why she wants it for herself. There’s a nice little self-empowerment tale here, of her learning to love her own talents, and I like that aspect a lot, which is framed by some nice imagery and able prose (although you have more than a couple typos.) But I think what this story needs is a clearer link to Lia deciding to keep the key for herself, or, if she’s not planning to use it just for herself, you need to make that clearer, because otherwise I’m getting flashbacks to the really disgusting parts of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, and I don’t think that’s what you’re going for.


Antivehicular - “Surface Fire”

Got bored halfway through the third paragraph and had to start over. Too much scene-setting and worldbuilding for such a tiny story. The prose is strong and precise, but I had a hard time getting into this. First of all, I thought the “apes in troops” thing was a metaphor at first, and later I’m still not sure if it is or not, and it also took me a while to realize Hrasha was an actual tiger. But after rereading this a few times, I kind of like it, and I think this story does a good job at threading the uncertainty of loyalties between these characters to the point where the final choice feels actually climactic.


Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Exmond posted:

A Good Dog
752 word

That dog was always going to be the death of me, I thought as I ran towards Ivy’s dog. The mutt had always wanted to kill me and it was finally going to get its wish. kinda restating the opening here Spot mild lol dropped his beloved stick and barked at the loving bear. expletive kinda out of nowhere The bear roared and swiped its massive claw at the tiny dog. This is a symbol of a bear doing things that are symbolic of a bear. It doesn't feel like a real bear, it feels like the word 'BEAR' hovering above the ground. I dove and scooped Spot into my hands. For my bravery I was rewarded with a small slice across my forehead. Blood ran down my face and one command echoed in my mind: RUN. You tried to do a lighthearted understatement of the wound one sentence ago, and now you're trying to sell me on how dire the wound is.

I listened to my instinct and scrambled past the confused bear. What confused him? Is the bear not used to things running away? Pangs of guilt over what, rescuing the dog? and frustration hit me as once again all I could do was run away. "I ran away from the bear just like I ran away from my wife's cancer." (spoilers). Spot continued to bark warnings of ruin wuh? at the bear from my hands. Ivy had suggested we get the dog when she first got her prognosis and I relented. Worst decision of my life. I was surprised Spot hadn’t run and abandoned me. Is the theme of this story...abandonment???

Time slowed down as I looked behind me and saw the bear catching up. The trees glistened in the sunlight and I realized I was completely alone in the forest, that I was going to die alone. Do trees only glisten in the sunlight if you're going to die alone? :smith: My brain went into overdrive, frantically trying to find a way to survive. In between the panic and my instincts yelling at me, in this paragraph you've found three different ways to phrase the idea of 'danger makes my brain fast' a smaller, sinister part of my brain whispered. Stop. Just give up, it’s easy. You wouldn’t have to deal with Ivy and your fuckup.

The forest became a blur as tears streamed down my face. Only a few hours ago I had received the call. “Terminal,” Ivy told me. “The cancer is terminal.” Wait, you said that they got the dog when Cancer Wife got her prognosis. 'Terminal' is the motherfucking prognosis. 'Cancer' is the diagnosis. Unless they got Spot literally three hours ago, I think you meant 'diagnosis'. The doctors didn’t know how long she had. A few days, maybe a few weeks. My instinct had told me to run then, was he the forest already or did he just decide to run into the forest with the dog and I had listened. Maybe I did deserve to die here.

A jolt of pain ran through my leg and the ground rushed up to meet me. A pain cliche happened and a falling cliche happened. Spot rolled out of my arms and yelped as he tumbled across the forest path. I spit up a mouthful of dirt and froze as I heard the sharp crunch of a bear’s paw breaking a stick. This isn't even the right cliche for the moment. Breaking a stick is when you don't know if something's there. This should be more like roaring and heavy footfalls. My mind went blank and fear got the better of me. I lay helpless as I heard the bear’s low guttural snarl get closer when a loud bark pierced the air. Whack one of the phrases here off into its own sentence.

Spot struggled, every breath a challenge, but managed to get on all four of his legs. Why's the dog suddenly in pain? He crawled between me and the bear and stood there, head held up high. His defiant barks echoed through the still forest — I ain’t running. why does your dog have an accent The bear raised a massive paw and brought it down on the tiny dog. I'm not a stickler for reused words but the last time you described the bear's paw you also used 'massive'. also rip dog

The bear was started you either mean 'was startled' or just 'started' (as in flinched) as a stick landed beside it and its paw narrowly missed Spot’s head. Really? I mean, I guess, but you're not doing a great job of selling it. You don't even connect the stick and the bear's surprise in the sentence. It's just "the bear was surprised as a stick landed near it." If you want to write action like this, you've got to make me feel it. Tell me 'A birch branch splintered at the bear's foot with a krack!, and its paw swiped the air an inch above Spot's ears.' Take a look at that sentence: no passive tense, no adverbs, all verbs are actions, and it's specific. It's not a stick, it's a birch branch. It didn't narrowly miss, it was an inch above. Specifics are what turn your writing from plot summaries into actual stories. Another rock bounced on the ground and came to a stop on the bear’s paw. The bear let out a confused growl and backed away, but you used a comma instead of a period, which means I now have control of how this paragraph ends.

“Get away from my dog!” somebody yelled.

As I got up, another rock in my hand, I realized I was the person yelling. Eh that's decent, I was expecting it to be Cancer Wife. I threw the rock and it bounced harmlessly off of the bear’s hide. It might be useless, it might all be for naught, it might not have any effect, it might be a futile effort, it might mean nothing in the end, it might not do anything, and it might be redundant, but I wasn’t going to sit idly by. Spot’s defiance must be rubbing off on me. Woops your tense is falling down let me slip it back up your shoulder there. I wasn’t going to just run away and watch somebody die. Spot looked at me, I looked at Spot. We might die but it wouldn’t be alone. Together we roared at the bear. It's like that scene in Reservoir Dogs. Or was that Garden State? Sorry, I'm too young for my own reference. I think it was the one where the guy from Scrubs wore a trash bag and screamed at cars.

Something fired off in my brain, like my old motorcycle engine revving up. I knew what I had to do with Ivy. It was so simple; I was afraid. I needed to stop running away. "I needed to stop running away from my wife, like I needed to stop running away from a bear attack." The bear must have gotten it too, gotten what? because it took one look at the two screaming idiots no please one screaming idiot is enough for TD heyoo in front of it and scampered away. I laughed as the bear retreated into the woods and I picked up Spot. Pick two of the three phrases in this sentence and split the third one off into its own. The small dog I got the mesage that it's small but, you know, you haven't even told me what kind of dog it is this whole story. whimpered and licked my face.

I fumbled for the cellphone in my jean pockets and dialed Ivy’s number. A few short rings later I heard her angelic voice. Oh man does she have deep blue eyes and golden hair and a gentle smile too??? I took a deep breath and said:just butting in here to say this isn't how dialogue punctuation works“Hey, sorry about a few hours ago. Listen, I was scared, and it got the better of me. But whatever happens: from now on I’ll be there”

Spot looked up at me and wagged his tail. I gave him a pat and picked him up.

“Spot, too. We will be there, by your side. Always.”

Okay, I know this is focusing on the guy and the dog but I do want to just mention that the wife's character traits are cancer, dog lover, and nice voice. Also her one line of dialogue is that she's dying from cancer.

Making friends through adversity can be the bones of a good story. The problem here is that you don't drape enough meat over those bones, so your delicious meat puppet is lean and rickety and mostly ligament. The guy's traits are that he doesn't like dogs, and he runs away from things (bears, wives with cancer). The dog's traits are that he is small, and barks. There's no detail in this story; it's all placeholder assets bumping together. Tell me that the dog's the result of a night of passion between a corgi and a coyote with very specific predilections. Tell me that the guy's out there in his pajama pants and flip flops, trying to run away from a black bear--and black bears are the smallest and most docile species of bear, so man would dying to a black bear be embarrassing. If you want to be pulpy and action-filled, go for it, but you've got to give your characters character, or else it's just a slapfight between paper bag puppets with 'BEAR' and 'DOG (SMALL)' and 'GUY' written on them.

Djeser fucked around with this message at 06:11 on Oct 31, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007



Feb 25, 2014

sebmojo posted:

thunder dome ironic twist is asleep and the only way we'll get a new prompt is if YOU wake him up! the only way to do that is by yelling PROMPT as loud as you can!

i think he should have his rest he has a long day ahead of him

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat

Exmond posted:

Requesting Crits and uhh pointing out your prompt never called for emotion and strong characters.
Yep, nothing about a tested friendship would involve either of those things.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


prompt imo

Jul 26, 2016

Sham bam bamina! posted:

Yep, nothing about a tested friendship would involve either of those things.

"Hello - Yes, officer..? There's glass and stones everywhere. Yeah, from the inside... I know, right? It's a shambles."


Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Exmond posted:

Requesting Crits and uhh pointing out your prompt never called for emotion and strong characters.I'd specifically like to know why it was a DM, if anyone can help me with that.

My two cents: I thought your story this week was much better - it seemed to me that you had tried hard to take on board the suggestions that Sitting Here and Crabrock had given in the fiction advice thread. So its not much of crit but my thought for you would be to keep going in that vein.

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