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Sep 14, 2007

Sitting Here posted:

[url=]Click here to join the bloodbath (current prompt)[/url]

missing something QuoProQuid


Sep 14, 2007

in, and gimme some LEGO

Sep 14, 2007

if we're not careful TD will get sick from all this IN

Sep 14, 2007

The Little Great Train Robbery -- 1199 Words

About a hundred miles southeast of Colusa, California, nestled amidst the watchful pines of the Eldorado National Forest, sits Pollock Pines—a former Pony Express stop, now just a passenger and mail stop on the train tracks running through to the west.

About one mile east of Pollock Pines, in a corridor of trees alongside Jenkinson Lake, a haphazard stack of logs lays across those tracks. A lantern set on top, the only light in the dark of morning, illuminates two figures running up the short hill to the right of the tracks. A third figure waits for them behind a rock.

“Alright, let’s go over the plan one more time,” Marshall (the third figure) says, once the others, Ronnie and Jacob, reach him.

“Won’t they know these are fake guns?”
“Won’t they see our faces?”
“How do you know all this stuff, anyway?”

“Shut up!” Marshall shouts, and holds out his hands for quiet. When Ronnie and Jacob finally stop their barrage, Marshall starts to talk. “This is how the James gang did it. I read it in a book. And I was on the train last week with my dad, that’s how I know all this stuff.” He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a wad of rags, and held it out to the other two. “Anyhow, they won’t know who we are because we’ll be wearing these.”

“Dish rags?” Ronnie asked, his head tilted to the side.

Marshall’s hand dropped to his side, the bundle of rags with it. “No, stupid. Disguises.”


“Hey mom, where’s Marshall?” Walter rubs his eyes as he walked into the kitchen, still in his pajamas.

“He’s not in your room with you?” His mother stands at the ice box pulling food out for breakfast. She is still in her robe and her hair is pulled back, which tells Walter it is still early. The only time his mother isn’t put together is the half hour right after she wakes up—usually around 7 AM.

“No,” Walter replies. He starts thinking about the possibilities. His little brother (younger by just one year) has an active imagination, and is always coming up with ‘secret’ plans—which he can never wait to tell Walter about.

“Hmmm. Check your father’s office, please? He knows he shouldn’t be in there.” His mother isn’t looking at him; she is rummaging through a drawer. A confused look crosses her face, and she starts checking the other drawers. Finally, she turns to Walter. “Have you seen my rags? I can’t seem to find them.”

Walter’s eyes go wide in an instant. Without a word, he turns and sprints back up the hall.


In the distance, a train horn sounds, once twice, a third time. Marshall is looking out to the east from their vantage point at the rock.

“Good, that means the train is at the bridge.” He looks down at the watch he had taken from his father’s office. “The 8 AM to Pollock Pines.”

“How do you know that?” Jacob asks, leaning over to look at Marshall’s watch. Marshall pulls his hand away.

“I told you, I was on the train last week.” He stops talking, as if that settles the matter, then sees that both Ronnie and Jacob are looking at him blank-faced. He sighs. “I asked the conductor all sorts of questions. They love talking to kids. He told me they use the horn when they cross the bridge. And then he said it takes half an hour from there to Pollock Pines. So, idiots, put your disguises on.”


Walter’s feet churn the dirt as he runs. Next to him runs his best friend, Colton. After Walter had left the kitchen, he’d gotten dressed as fast as possible, grabbed his BB gun, and bolted outside. His mother had followed him and peppered him with questions, but Walter had simply said, “I’m going to get Marshall!” and headed straight to Colton’s house. A minute later, Colton had snuck out his own window and joined Walter.

Marshall had a lot of plans, and many of them were quite stupid. Usually Marshall just talks about his plans, though, and never tries them. Of course, the one time he does decide to try one, he chooses one of his stupider plans, but thankfully, Walter thinks, he had just told him about this plan last week.

“Come on, I know where he is!” Walter shouts as they run. “There’s a big rock by the tracks where we sit and watch the trains sometime!”

“What’s he going to do?” Colton asked as he tries, unsuccessfully, to button the top of his shirt.

“He’s going to try to rob the train!”

“He’s going to do WHAT?!”


“There, you can see the smoke,” Marshall says, then pulls out the Smith & Wesson cap gun from his belt. The other boys look to the east and see column of white rising above the trees. “Get ready.”

Marshall drops to a squat and moves around the side of the rock, prepared to break into a run. The other boys do the same, lining up behind him. They wait.

Then, from the west, they hear shouting. The sun has risen, but the trees still cast long shadows, so they can’t see anything clearly—until, suddenly, two figures are maybe 100 yards away and beelining for their log pile. A moment later, Marshall realizes that one of the figures is his brother.

“Walter! Darn it!” He starts to run down the hill, shouting behind him. “Come on, we’ve got to stop them!”

Walter and Colton have reached the log pile and are throwing logs off as fast as they can. It’s slow going—they each grab an end and pull one log off at a time.

“STOP!” Marshall screams, and levels his pistol at the two figures. They whip around and stare at him. “You’ll ruin my plan!”

Walter bends and picks up the BB gun. “I know that’s a cap gun, dummy. And you’re plan is stupid—the train is going to crash!” Walter levels the BB gun at Marshall, who is still pointing the useless cap gun at Walter. Behind Walter, Colton is still struggling with the logs.

“No it won’t! That’s why we put the lantern!” Marshall takes a moment and looks behind him, for his backup. Ronnie and Jacob, however, have not moved from their spot by the rock.

“Didn’t you pay attention when we read that book? Trains take a mile to stop! Now help us move the logs!”

“No! You never let me try my plans! This one is going to work, and we’re going to get 50 bucks out of it! And you won’t get—“


“OW!” Marshall drops his cap gun and holds his shoulder, then unceremoniously takes a seat on the dirt. Walter turns and helps Colton once again. A moment later, Ronnie and Jacob join them and start pulling logs off themselves.
“I’m telling mom!” Marshall yells from his seat on the dirt.

“Go right ahead,” Walter says. Soon, the logs are removed. 5 minutes later, having retreated to the rock, they watched the train go by, right on time.

Sep 14, 2007

When It Raines, It Pours
1688 Words?

I have loved three things in my short life. Number two on that list was the military. My career in special forces was cut short, though—I’ll tell you what I can of that story some other time—and so I found my third love, acting.

My first love, though—and still my greatest—is my twin sister, Iselle. She is just like the hurricane she was named for: powerful, wild, and impossible to ignore. She cannot help but leave destruction in her wake. I was lucky enough to be born in the eye of the storm.

I would die for my sister.

And tonight, I might have to.


“Evenin’,” I say as I approach the only two gentlemen in the lobby of an obscenely expensive apartment complex. “Here to see Mr. Warren.”

“Is Mr. Warren expecting you?” the one on the left asks. The two are in dark suits and are wearing earpieces, and aren’t shy about the guns at their hips. The lift they are guarding goes directly to the penthouse suite; it’s the only way to get there.

“You know, I’m really not sure.” If Mr. Warren did know the woman he’s got up there is my sister, I’d imagine he’d have left her the hell alone. Or, he’s very, very foolish.

“If you aren’t expected, you’re not welcome,” the guard says. He moves to cut me off, raising his hand to gesture at the exit, but he stops midway—his eyes flash in recognition. His hand drops and smile forms on his lips. “Hey, aren’t you Lucas Raines?”

“Oh poo poo!” His partner, apparently, has connected the dots. They do know who Iselle is.

I’m quicker than they are. Before either moves, I slam my knife into the armpit of the closest guard. I step close, and my hand goes to his holster. Behind him, I can see his partner scrambling for his gun and his radio at the same time—too slow. My shot rips across the empty lobby, and the second guard slumps against the wall.

“drat.” The guard in my arms gurgles. I start dragging him toward the elevator. “I didn’t want to kill y’all, but ya got Iselle up there. And I know how Mr. Warren gets down.” The guard doesn’t say anything, just gurgles. “I coulda been in and out in five minutes, but y’all had to recognize me. And I had to kill you.” I use his gun and end his dying.

“Guess that’s the price of fame.”


The Hollywood rich can’t help themselves. Buy a beautiful, one of a kind painting, the kind people might pay to see, then put an outrageous solid gold frame around it. The whole building is like that. Always one step past tasteful.

The elevator is a monster of burnished brass and mirrors, on every possible surface. I punch the only button: 20th Floor, PENTHOUSE.

Mr. Warren—the owner of the building—is an indecently wealthy man with a variety of odious—and illegal—habits, habits he shares with his employees. I know this because Mr. Warren and I have a professional relationship. He funded a big part of my last movie—Dead 2 Rights. To get that funding, I had to spend a whole lot of time in his company. I had hoped not to return.

But, like I said, the Hollywood rich can’t help themselves. Only this time, it’s going to cost more than he’s got.


The elevator opens onto a lounge area full of more gaudiness, all white leather and crystal and gold. A guard sits on one of the couches, reading a magazine. He looks up at the ding of the elevator, and his eyes go wide--


And stay wide, as the knife buries itself in his forehead. “What the---!” Two guards to the left whirl to face the elevator doors, hands flying to their holsters, but I’ve got them already. Each of my hands holds a gun, already trained on them, and two cracks ring out in quick succession. Both fall dead, small rings of red in their forehead.

The room goes quiet. Electronic breakbeats pound through a set of polished wooden doors, off to the right, and a variety of colors leak out around the edges of the frame. I take a couple of steps forward into the room and retrieve my knife, which I sheath at the small of my back.

From the left, a man in a bright purple shirt and white dust all over his face walks through a door. It takes a couple of seconds to figure out what he’s seeing, but then he sees me, throws his hands in the air and falls to his knees. I motion him to the elevator, and he sprints to it without a word. I watch him go.


A blow to my neck sends me sprawling, my hands losing grip on both guns. I quickly roll and bring my knees and elbows together in a guard position—just in time to ward the next blow. A man dressed like he never left the 80’s is flying at me, his multicolored track suit highlighting the arcs of multiple punches. They land, but only partly.

I kick out with my legs and catch him in the stomach—solid. Muscular. He retreats, but retains his balance. He’s well trained. I stand, and we circle.

These kinds of fights are my favorite. Martial arts are popular out here in California, especially in Hollywood. We use them all the time for our movies. They’re very impressive. Lots of neat moves, fancy sequences, etc. And everyone want to spar with THE Lucas Raines.

I’m happy to oblige. I always know I’ve got ‘em.

There is a difference when the blows are real. You know what a punch does to a man. You know what you can take. And let’s just say Hollywood types usually aren’t getting in those types of fights.

This one is confident. He swipes his bleach blond hair to the side, smiles, and rushes me. I let him come.

His first blow lands—harder than I expected, and it knocks me a step sideways, allowing him to land his second in my ribs. He’s stronger than any man in neon has a right to be. Not strong enough, though, as I absorb the blow, sidestep and land a glancing blow to the side of his head.

It’s enough to stun him, and I have my opening. I leap forward, fist high. He sees it, raises his guard, and ignores the rest of my body going low. I tackle him to the ground, and use my momentum to straddle his torso. A couple heavy blows to his face and he stops struggling. I stop punching.

“Sweet hair-do, man. Where’s my sister?” He blinks sluggishly, and grits his teeth through a mouth full of blood, but says nothing. I reach behind and give him a sharp blow to the gut. He coughs up blood. “Where’s my sister, Vanilla Ice?”

He doesn’t get the chance to respond before I feel a ring of steel pressed into my skull, and the cock of a hammer. poo poo. Only now do I notice that the music has gotten significantly louder.

“Well, well, Lucas Raines,” a deep, throaty voice says from behind me. “So it’s not all acting. Come on, let’s go have some fun.” Mr. Warren grabs my arm and lifts me up, turns me toward the double doors.

“I was hoping you’d join me at one of my parties again, Lucas. We missed you.” We walk through the doors, down a corridor splashed in neon light. The walls throb as the bass pours into them. The corridor opens into a circular room filled with couches, low tables, and white lines. People are draped across the furniture in various states of dress and consciousness.

“Have a seat.” There is a chair in the middle of the room, and he puts me in it.

“I was wondering if you’d show up.” The voice comes from a doorway on the edge of the room. It’s a voice I know well. Iselle walks out of the doorway, dressed in red, hair a violent mass of curls. A man grips her bicep tightly. Her eyes are slightly unfocused. She smiles. “You do know I can handle myself, right?”

“I gotta tell you, Lucas, Iselle is spirited.” He stands in front of the chair, the gun casually pointed at me. He’s dressed in all white. “I thought she’d be a lot of fun to have around, but she’s been… resistant.”

I smile and let out a short laugh. “Oh, you’ve walked into hell, Mr. Warren. You just don’t know it yet.”

“Hah. Right.” Mr. Warren moves in close, leans over me. He presses the gun into my shoulder, and stares at me with heavily dilated pupils. “Well, this is your swan song. Come on, let’s hear a couple more lines from the great Lucas Raines!”

“Sorry. I don’t work for free.”

My right hand rips my knife from its sheath and buries it in Mr. Warren’s midsection. My left shoulder explodes as the gun fires. I grunt, but follow the shrieking Mr. Warren to the ground. My right arm pulls the blade out, then finishes the job.

The man holding Iselle throws her against the wall and sprints at me, but stops when he sees me holding Mr. Warren’s gun and pointing it at his mid-section. He’s unarmed, so I let him turn and run back through the doorway.

Iselle picks herself up from the floor, a little wobbly, but okay. She rolls her neck a few times. She walks over to me and helps me up.

“Did you have to kill him? He was gonna give me a boatload of money.”

I laughed, then pulled my sister’s arm across my good shoulder. “Come on.” We both turn and walk out of the room, past an array of coked-out onlookers and a few dead bodies.

I told you. Destruction follows my sister. She can’t help herself. She’s Hurricane Iselle.

Sep 14, 2007

I asked which story I should read, and flerp chose this one randomly

flerp posted:

528 words


In my hometown, don't think there's a reason not to mention Brentwood here, since you do in the next graf the park is flooded with cold winter rain, brown and still I assume the park is brown and still, but grammatically this makes it seem like the rain is. There are kids with a couch on the edge of the creek, one of them carrying a big stick they found, thinking they can use it as an oar. They think that, somehow, if they follow the flooded creek, they’ll find something new at the end. That there isn’t just fields of modular homes and dead grass. I like this--makes it seem like the grass has died while homes have 'grown'

It’s been raining for four days straight, which is a godsend in a drought, but not in suburban Brentwood. It’s worthless when everyone has sprinklers. Rain just means my dad can’t jog what a wimp, and then the FitBit was a waste of a Christmas gift.

In Merced, two hours south from Brentwood, there’s a sign that says, Pray For Rain. It was written in red paint by the almond trees and the dry dirt. sentence construction makes it seem as if the trees and dirt did the painting They stay up all night, wave their leaves in the wind, and ask the gray clouds to not mock them anymore. To let freezing rain fall onto them, asking for a chill to run up their trunks, to make them feel like they can bloom.

I don’t hate Merced. comes out of nowhere--why would you hate Merced? The roads are full of potholes and there aren’t any storm drains on Yosemite Avenue, so it floods in the rain. The air tastes like cow poo poo. I lock my car doors when I drive past the train tracks. It’s not far enough away from my hometown.

In Brentwood, the air is stale, tasteless. My room’s wall is a dull, genderless brown. People in their jogger pants smile at me when I walk by. The roads are empty by 8 PM. When I sleep, I don’t dream. The rain can’t soak through my thick jacket.

I’m going back to school in Merced tomorrow and the window’s open. I can taste change, a dull sour, like a cheap lemon candy. I’ll be back atin Brentwood in a couple months and back a couple months after that.

I don’t want to tell my parents that if I had the chance, I’d be an almond tree’s white flower. I’d wait for someone to pluck me off and then I’d float in the air. I’d follow the wind south, or east, or west. I’d get buried in the hot sands, or freeze solid in the Sierra Nevada. Just never north. Even if it means I’ll have to bury myself into the soggy dirt and never leave Merced. I really like this imagery. Really clarifies how much you hate Brentwood (a lot)

Tonight, when I sleep, the blanket will feel smooth. Empty. I wonder what it must feel like to pray for rain. To need something so badly that I’d sit on my rooftop and hold out my hand and smell the rain soaked streets. To know, when I hear the drops patter against my windows, that the words I whisper in the dark were heard by the gray clouds. this is good

Somewhere, there’s an almond at the bottom of a creek, waiting for me to pick it up and carry it until we can hear the trees whisper next to us, telling us that they were waiting for us. Waiting to give us not a home, but a place that has meaning.


You've got 500 words here on how much you hate Brentwood, and how much Merced is crappy but I guess it's fine, and something about the drought? As someone from nearby, I can vouch for the accuracy of this, but I'm not sure that it really makes for a story. Nothing really happens here. Maybe that's part of the idea? Nothing happens east of Mt. Diablo, or in the Central Valley? Idk. It doesn't make for super exciting reading.

On the other hand, you've got some really nice imagery, mostly when you talk about trees and almonds and stuff. The bit about praying for rain is nice. Unfortunately, it doesn't really accomplish much, aside from helping to build the general sense of malaise. And unfortunately, I don't think malaise is the strongest idea to build a story around.

Overall, the writing is fine, even good in spots, but doesn't really do much. If you're not going to write an actual story, with characters and endings, it's gotta be a badass piece of writing. This isn't.

Sep 14, 2007

Uranium Phoenix posted:

I am implicitly assuming each author had something important to say.


Sep 14, 2007

also the rest of you stop your dumb posting and crit

here i'll show you how

Solstice by Uranium Pheonix

Your story is clearly trying to say something important, but it doesn't succeed in doing that. I don't see anything particularly profound here, just a lot of life is hard, people are dicks, death is meaningless stuff. It would be one thing if every word in this story was hellbent on delivering that message, but you're really trying to communicate like seven different things and I don't think any of them hit. I also don't know if I would call this really a story: you tell us the girl will die, the mom is certain of it, and then she does. If that's the way you're going to structure it, you better make us feel it, big time. You don't.

Uranium Phoenix posted:

It was a senseless death, for what else can the death of a child be? But it was not a simple death. It was a death that started long ago, but seemed to come abruptly. It was not unique in this sense.
This is a bad start. First of all, every 'it' in this graf has no antecedent. What does it refer to? We technically don't learn until the end of the story, when she actually dies, though we can figure it out. Some more clarity here would make this feel less pretentious. As it is, this seems like an attempt to say something important, but really says nothing. I also take issue with the structure here, like I said above. If you are going to tell us the end of the story at the beginning of the story, you sure as hell better make the rest interesting.


It was a cold walk home for Esrela, beneath a pale, open sky that kept leaving patches of frost around.
I don't know what the second half of this sentence means. Maybe I am missing something. I am also not sure it accomplishes anything for you, though, so I'd probably cut that bit.


She sensed something was wrong as she approached her weary cottage. Normally, the front shutters were open, and there was a candle lit. Her daughter Tayka loved to watch for her by that window after a long day of play and chores, loved to move her hands over and quickly through the candle flame. Normally, the smoke from the chimney was thicker. Normally, the things did not seem so silent and still, but perhaps that was the winter, chilling the world so that it slowed.
I think you could increase the impact of this by flipping the structure. Again, you tell us something is wrong first, then show us what it would normally be like. How about telling us what Esrela is looking forward to--seeing her daughter at the window, seeing the thick white smoke--and then showing us that something is wrong?


But there was that pit in her gut. She knew.
Based on the start of the story, I assumed she was already dead. Upon finding out that she's not, just moments later, I don't know what it is that Esrela knows. Also: what pit in her gut? 'That' makes it seem as if it's a recurring thing.


This year, the taxes had gone up again to pay for the war. She’d heard of grand battles in Solamoth and Kiresmalt, faraway places south and west of the capital. The names meant nothing to her. One of her fellow weavers, her friend Silsa, had watched her son march off two months back. There was no word from him yet.
This seems thrown in. In general, it seems like you're trying to make life seem awful by throwing every terrible thing possible at it: gender discrimination, poverty, war, etc. It's overkill. Focus.


On the eve of the winter solstice, Tayka’s heartbeat stilled. Her breathing stopped.
Okay so everything before this is fine. Mom's deep in the quest to save her daughter, tries everything she can. Then her daughter dies anyway. BUT... I already knew that was going to happen. Now, I could hear arguments that knowing the outcome can strengthen the impact of the pathway there, but not in this case. You've robbed this moment of it's emotional impact, and not for any big reason.


Esrela cried and held her love, held her everything. She clutched at her daughter’s soul. She howled at the faces across the veil that were grabbing at her daughter, and pulled with all her might. She pulled against the celestial God, pulled against the endless armies of angels and spirits, pulled against the might of death, screaming defiance. It took all the legions of heaven to pull that soul away from her, and it was a slow, torturous ripping. Then at last, she stood empty handed, feeling less.
THIS. This is the good stuff. More of this. Especially this: "it was a slow, torturous ripping". Like, that's where the emotional weight of this story could really hit. What does this death do to the mother?


Of course, that never happened. She merely felt like it did, but it might was well have happened. So it did happen, after all.
It didn't happen? It did? This graf is bad, and useless. Whatever you were trying to say here, you did not.


They lowered her daughter into the frozen earth, and the few people that came offered their condolences. A priest offered a short prayer. Some men offered their spades to pile the frost-bitten ground back where it had come from. After that, Esrela was left alone next to a bare patch of scratched earth and the thin whisper of the cold winter breeze, and silence.
Now all these people care? Now they help? Either this doesn't make sense, based on the characters who scoffed at Esrela all along, OR this is a really interesting facet to explore and I need more of this.


What else was there to say? It was, after all, a senseless deathstory.

Just kidding. Your story isn't bad. It is overwritten in spots, and it plays at being more important than it is. But, there are seeds in there, and your actual prose is mostly fine. I think if your story had a more single-minded purpose, it would be stronger. I also think restructuring it, or rethinking how you frame it, would make what you already have into a better story. But, for a newbie, this is passable.

Sep 14, 2007


Sep 14, 2007

Between You and Me
168 Words

It’s okay. I’m not afraid to lie.
When they ask you, you know what I will do—
When I’m alone, no one hears me cry.

Your mother makes a hell of a pie.
But I can see it coming, right on queue—
It’s okay. I’m not afraid to lie.

I cringe when you say it, though I know why
When you lie to Jacob, when he asks you who—
When I’m alone, no one hears me cry.

We’re in the wrong place. Here, we could die
If they knew the truth, how I feel about you—
It’s okay. I’m not afraid to lie.

I’m afraid of other things. That you’ll say goodbye.
I’m afraid we’ll be the only ones who ever knew—
When I’m alone, no one hears me cry.

It seems easy for you. Like you don’t have to try.
So I doubt. And I wonder. And I don’t have a clue.
It’s okay. I’m not afraid to lie.
When I’m alone, no one hears me cry.

Sep 14, 2007

GenJoe posted:

You're going to turn your poo poo-garbage synopsis into pure gold.

lol good luck with that

Sep 14, 2007

also in i guess

Sep 14, 2007

Apologies to GenJoe for the failure

so yeah in and

Sep 14, 2007

hell why not for DOUBLE BEEF ACTION

aka two entries

Sep 14, 2007

No War But Lass War
381 words

You will kill me, I know that. Your officer will tell you to put me in a ditch and shoot me in the back of the neck. You will ask me for information, but you will get none. You would kill me either way. We are familiar with such methods, you know. You did not invent them.

Am I making you nervous? Is it because I know your language? Is it because I am a woman? You should be nervous. You have killed many of our men. Millions. But you have forgotten about the women.

You fascists never learn. You thought we could be cowed by cruelty. You thought if you burned enough villages, killed enough people, we would stop fighting. Your leaders are not paying attention. Did you hear what happened up near Minsk? Your officers left four soldiers guarding a village of women and children. You thought them harmless. When the rest of the soldiers returned the next day, they found the village burned to the ground and a trunk in the middle of the road. Inside it were the heads of your four soldiers. We are no strangers to cruelty.

You Germans believe you are more intelligent than everyone else, but you do not know everything. You will learn that we Soviets know a little bit more about winter than you. Our cities are built for it. So are our people. So are our tanks. Are yours? Your uniform looks nice. Does it keep you warm at night? I thought not.

Do you actually believe this Herrenvolk nonsense? That you Germans are a part of some sort of “master race”? What an extraordinarily foolish idea. Well, we have ideas of our own, and perhaps you did not account for that. When you looked east, you saw a nation of 80 million—men. Because in Germany, your women do not fight. You fools. In the Soviet Union, we believe in equality. Marx argued for all people to work, and to be paid. He did not mean just the men. Lenin himself fought for the emancipation of women. Our women work in the factories. They work for the Party. They wear the Soviet uniform.

Soon enough, you will know the result. Bullets fired by women kill Germans just the same.

Sep 14, 2007

New World Orders
555 words (Comedic Entry)

Okay, ladies, thanks for coming! If you’ll all take your seats, we can get started. Jeanine, if you could come in here and join us, please? Yes, I know there is guacamole, I made it.

Great! Again, thanks for joining me today. I know it’s been a long time since we’ve all been together in the same room. What was it, five years ago we graduated? Seems like longer. I’ve really missed you girls. Life just isn’t the same without all my sorority sisters! The bond we shared, all living together, talking about boys, getting made up for those fraternity parties… I know you remember, Suzanne!

No, we’re not just here to ‘hang out’, Kiana. I’m about to tell you why we’re here, if you’ll be patient. Now, I know most of us are in the workforce now, like the good 21st century women we are! A few of us are married, which, all things considered, is a little bit surprising. And one of us is pregNANT! Okay, quiet down. Quiet down! What hasn’t changed for any of us, though, is that wherever we are in life, we’ve got to make ourselves look pretty. We’ve got to wake up in the morning—Jeanine, can you stop stuffing your face for 5 minutes? As I was saying, we’ve got to wake up in the morning and put on our best face.

I want to tell—no, show all you ladies an incredible product I have discovered, thanks to my friend Karen. Hi, Karen! Karen’s great, you all should talk to her later. Now, let me show you all what I’m talking about. The complete 2017 line of Ella Marshall cosmetic products, built for every woman! Umm, excuse me, Darla, if you could watch your language, please. That was uncalled for. What has gotten into you all? Anyway, I don’t know what you’ve heard about Ella Marshall, but I’ll tell you about my experience with the company—and let me tell you, it’s been nothing short of incredible. Now, I don’t have to work because my dear Martin makes plenty, but we all know it’s nice to have a little extra on the side. When Karen got me involved, I started small, just around the neighborhood. Pretty soon I had some regular customers, a few orders a week, and just like that, a little business of my own. Of course, first and foremost it’s an incredible product! I use it myself, as do all my customers. But really, they’re not customers, they’re friends.

Yes, I know you flew all the way from Atlanta, Suzanne! I wouldn’t ask you to come here unless I had something important for you to see! I want all of you to get involved with Ella Marshall, and start making a little bit for yourselves. What do you mean, is this a pyramid scheme? Of course not. Well, no, I haven’t made any money yet, but that’s because I’m just getting started. Once all of you get involved, and start working with Ella Marshall, and then get others to join in—

Eileen, will you sit down? Ladies, sit down, I’ve barely just started! Why does it look like my face is melting? What is that supposed to mean? Yes, I’m wearing Ella Marshall right now. Wait! Sit down! Come back! Please!

Well, poo poo.

Sep 14, 2007

my kink is fjgj

Sep 14, 2007

Sep 14, 2007

1170 words

“Where are you from—how do you say your name, again?”

“Mahkah. Like moccasin. I’m from South Dakota. Near Rapid City.” He stood next to Roger Walden, CEO of Sierra Continental Lumber, at the window of his corner office in the company headquarters in Fort Collins.

“Huh. We used to have a field office in Rapid City. That’s where I started, when my dad was still running the company. I Pioneered many of our most efficient deforestation techniques up there.”

Mahkah’s eyes flashed, and he fingered the long braid at the back of his skull. He didn’t respond, though, just continued to stare out at the Roosevelt National Forest, a carpet of regal pines and stately firs stretching from the foot of the building all the way to the lower reaches of the Rocky Mountains.

“You’ve been here for 10 years now, right? My managers tell me you do excellent work. That you are personally responsible for most of the code on the drone project.” Mr. Walden clapped him on the shoulder, and Mahkah gave him a quick smile and a curt nod, then returned to his silence and his staring. Mr. Walden gave him a curious look, then checked his watch. “Everything is set to go for the demonstration?”

“Yes, sir. Checked it all myself.”

“Good. Let’s go show them the future.”


“Mama, what will we do without the forest?” Mahkah stood on the porch of his family’s log house, his mother next to him. They watched the stream of trucks roll by, SIERRA CONTINENTAL LUMBER emblazoned on the side. Two weeks ago, he had celebrated his 8th birthday, and had been beyond excited when the first truck rolled past—it was the first he’d ever seen. Now, Sierra Continental’s intentions were obvious: clear the forest, as fast as possible.

“I don’t know, my sweet,” his mother said, clutching him to her side. Mahkah could hear the tears in her voice. “I don’t know. But our people survive. We will survive.” Even at eight, he could tell she didn’t believe it. Six months later, he was sure she didn’t.


“Sierra Continental has long been at the forefront of innovation in the lumber industry,” Mr. Walden said, his deep voice filling the corners of the conference room. Seated before him was a large audience comprised of employees, shareholders, dignitaries, and members of the press. “My great-great-grandfather helped develop the original motorized chainsaw. My grandfather helped to push forward the use of electricity in sawmill technology. My father led the push for the computerization of the industry.”

Roger gestured to Mahkah, and suddenly the screen behind Roger was filled with an overhead image of an expanse of pines. “Ladies and gentlemen, I am about to show you the future of the lumber industry.” Mahkah hit another key. For a few seconds, nothing happened. Then, the first wave of drones appeared on the edge of the screen. They were safety orange and moved in unison. Jutting out from each was an industrial chainsaw.

The audience buzzed, as realization passed from person to person, and questions began to form on their lips. Roger gestured again, and Mahkah hit enter. The drones descended, and the audience went silent. Everyone knew what was happening now. Trees began to fall, one by one. When one began to tilt, a group of drones would dart above the treeline, watch it fall, then dart back in and return to their work. It was mesmerizing, and terrifying. Within minutes, an acre of old pines had fallen, and more were being felled each minute.

“Witness, ladies and gentlemen, the awesome power of technology, and of Sierra Continental.”


“Mahkah, I found something weird.” A laptop dropped onto Mahkah’s desk, and next to it the face of one of the junior project engineers. This one was relatively new to the team, but he was an excellent coder. Mahkah looked at him expectantly.

“I wouldn't think much of it, but we're two weeks out from the demo. Here, in one of the drone auto-pilot subroutines. There is a function I don’t recognize, and I can’t figure out what it’s for or when it gets called.” Mahkah looked where he was pointing on the screen, to a section of code defining the function ai.ReturnToHand. “I think it’s a GPS redirect? It takes a set of coordinates as parameters and then calls a few other functions I don’t recognize. I can’t find any documentation on it, though, or any mention of it in the project notes. Any ideas?”

Mahkah, his expression blank, looked at the code, then at the engineer. “You’re right, it’s a guidance override. Don’t worry about it—I put it in myself.” Mahkah turned back to his computer, and resumed his work. The junior engineer stared at him for a few seconds, his eyes narrowed, but then he shrugged his shoulders and walked off.


Writers scribbled furiously on their notepads, employees chattered excitedly, shareholders beamed and shook hands with everyone around them. Roger stood grinning at the edge of the stage, soaking in the glory. Mahkah, stone faced, entered a few commands into his laptop and then hit enter.

Drones filtered off the screen, first one at a time, then in bunches. Soon, the screen was filled only with the downed trunks of pine trees.

Mr. Walden heard it first. It was a soft hum, no match for the pervasive thrum of the crowd, but it was there. It continued to grow, and Mr. Walden looked around the room for the source. The noise grew and grew, and the crowd joined him in the search, confusion on their faces.

“Sir!” The doors at the end of the room burst open, and an employee ran in wildly. The hum had increased to a roar. “It’s the drones! They—”

He was drowned out by a sudden howling of blade against metal, and every head in the room turned to watch as a drone tried to cut down the brass statue of Charles Walden, Founder. Beyond, through the floor-to-ceiling windows, they could see an army of bright orange drones tearing into everything they could find—tractors, wood piles, milling equipment, the building itself.

“Mahkah! Do something!” he screeched. Mr. Walden looked to the side of the stage, where the Mahkah had been sitting. He was gone, along with his computer. Mr. Walden ran over to the table. On it was an old newspaper clipping from the Teepee Gulch Tribune. The headline read: SCL LOGGING OPERATION WIPES OUT LOCAL ECOSYSTEM, ECONOMY

Mr. Walden stood, shocked, staring in horror at the scene in front of him. The crowd panicked and scrambled in every direction, looking for a safe way out and finding none. Mr. Walden shouldered his way toward the back, and soon stood at the door watching the drones outside. As they finished their ruthlessly efficient and monstrously destructive work, they began to crash into each other. The area looked like a warzone.

“The shareholders are not going to like this.”

Sep 14, 2007

I saw a bunch of new posts and thought, hey, maybe we got judgment and a new prompt

but no

just a bunch of goons

Sep 14, 2007

dammit people. learn to spell judgment.

the card even tells you how to spell it

Sep 14, 2007

dammit learn to spell pormpt

Sep 14, 2007

i could use some bad luck

and a prompt

Sep 14, 2007

speaking of years its been 17 dog years since our last prompt

Sep 14, 2007

Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.

So sayeth Saint AugustINe.

Sep 14, 2007

More Human Than Human
words: 2288

The vastness of space contains everything you can possibly imagine. Innumerable stars, dwarf stars, supergiants, pulsars, binary stars, in every color you can see, and some you can’t. Ice planets, desert planets, earthlike planets. Nebulae, alien species, undiscovered chemical elements, it’s all out there. We have the pictures to prove it.

Mostly, though, there’s nothing. We had learned that lesson daily, for the last three years.

“Anything on the scanners this morning, Liz?” She was seated in the craft’s command seat, a few screens arrayed above a set of controls and below a window about the size of a car windshield. I held a cup of coffee out to her.

“Morning? By which star, Sayid?” She huffed, and took the coffee with both hands. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“By the sun, of course. It’s 7 AM in California.” I stuck my wrist out, on which was a mechanical watch with a leather strap. “Normally, I’d be out at El Porto right now, catchin’ a swell.”

“Yeah, well, those days are long gone. And according to the scanners, not likely to return. There’s nothing for several hundred thousand kilometers.” She paged through several different readouts on the display screens, and I saw for myself. Nothing, indeed. Not even a loose asteroid.

“How long until our next jump?”

“Three days. Waiting on the computer.”

For a long time, I stood there next to Elizabeth, staring out the windshield. Here and there tiny dots of light, stars poking through the thick black blanket of nothingness, like someone had spilled glitter and missed a few specks. It had been a year since we’d seen a planet, six months since we’d seen a space station.

“I want to go home, Sayid.”

“I know.” I squeezed her shoulder softly. She laid her hand on top of mine. “I know.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

There were four of us, in a craft the size of a mobile home. We were all refugees, Liz, Meiko, Marshall, and myself. In 2095, the UN discovered it was easiest to give refugees a spacecraft, some brief training, and shove them off into space. For the first year, we bounced from station to station, trading work for goods and services. We didn’t need food or water; the Double-Wide, as we’d come to call it, could fly indefinitely, as well as produce food and water, as long as we were careful to conserve and recycle, and occasionally fly by a star to recharge our batteries. What we needed, what we couldn’t get elsewhere, were books, music, human contact. We had space travel, but nobody had thought to create space radio stations.

We needed to find a home. Only, we couldn’t stay anywhere the UN had already claimed. So we kept moving. In the beginning, we’d see a station after only a week of flying. Six months in, though, the intervals grew to two weeks. Then a month. Then two months. Then not at all. We’d reached the end of the line.

A trader in a post over the Spearhead Nebula had given us some interstellar coordinates, said he’d heard of a cluster of stars and planets that way, habitable and unclaimed. Two and a half years into our quest for a home, this was like the sight of the surface to a drowning man. We swam hard for air.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Whoa poo poo, guys!”

I snapped to immediately. I had been rereading East of Eden for the fifth time. It was still great. But anything that rated an exclamation—though Marshall was no stranger to coarse language—was either dangerous, beautiful, or extremely important. I grabbed Meiko, who was practicing the piano on her headphones and hadn’t heard, and woke Liz from her nap, then jogged to the cockpit.

Marshall didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. The display screens told the story quite clearly: there was a planet, earthlike, habitable, unclaimed, right in the middle of the sector we were headed to.

“Whoa poo poo is right,” I said. I hadn’t cursed since my childhood. I’d gotten slapped by my mother for that. Nobody slapped me now.

For 30 minutes, nobody moved a muscle. We just watched the numbers drop on the screen, as we approached our warp-drop. The warp screen was up, so we couldn’t even see outside. We just… stood there.

A small, soft voice broke our reverie. It was Meiko, ever the voice of reason. “We should strap in, for warp-drop.”

Then, we waited. It took 10 minutes for us to drop out of warp and for our cruising engines to re-engage, another 10 for our scanners to complete a full scan of the sector. Only then did our warp screen drop, and we could see out of the windshield.

There it was.

A planet.

Hospitable to human life.

Uninhabited by humans, thus far.

Completely unclaimed, according to the computer.

Home, perhaps.

I cried. Not the slow trickling tears of small emotions like happiness or sadness, but the river of tears that comes with hope, and joy, and relief. Liz smiled the wide smile of success, hugged herself to me tightly. Meiko tried to remain demure, but even she could not contain her excitement, so she smiled and blushed like I had never seen.

gently caress yes.” Marshall, on the other hand, was not one to mince words.

We wasted no time. The computer had already plotted a possible landing spot, so we set our course and headed down. We had spent three years preparing for this, hoping it was an eventuality and not a mere possibility, and now here it was. There was work to be done, so we set about preparing for our first—and hopefully only—surface landing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“What if this is it?”

“What do you mean?” I shouted across the aisle to Liz. Atmospheric entry created a hell of a racket.

“I mean, what if this is home? What if we stay here? The four of us. What does this mean for us? What will we do? Will we ever see another human? Will we be the only ones to ever find this place?”

I’d spent three years in space, searching for a home, and I had never asked myself even once what would happen if we actually did. It wasn’t that I had dismissed the questions, they had just never even occurred to me. Those are the questions of someone with a home to think about. Home for us had been nothing more than a theory, a hope. You don’t question hope until it’s impossible or realized.

“I don’t know,” I said, and grinned like a maniac. “But I’m excited to find out.”

We landed soon after in a broad flat plain, the kind you might find in many places on Earth. Trees edged a wide expanse of grass, and a river cut through the plain, running from a mountain range to our starboard side. Everything looked just like something you might find on Earth, except for the color—the sun overhead was a large, and blue, and the light it cast was the same.

“Come on,” I said, and shouldered my pack. “We’ve got a planet to explore.”

Marshall, Liz, and I headed out of the ship, while Meiko remained behind. “you got us, Meiko?” Liz asked. Meiko replied in the affirmative. We set off toward the tree line. The ship computer had identified a clearing there with some sort of activity.

We walked in relative silence. But for the color, the planet felt like Earth. The trees looked like Earth trees, the grass looked like Earth grass, the air felt like Earth air. It was actually… disconcerting. We walked between trees, just like each of us had, back on Earth—only here, the light from above was blue. Excitement, though, never left the air. The clearing the ship had identified was coming up, about a half mile away. we quickened our pace.

Soon, we could see it, through the trees, a wide circle of light. What was in it, we could not quite make out, but there was certainly movement. We could hear it. Rustling, banging, what sounded like—voices? I held up my hand. We stopped.

“I thought the computer said this place was uninhabited,” I said, quietly.

“It did,” Liz replied. “Sayid, I don’t think those are human voices.”

He listened closely. She was right. There was an unmistakably voice-like quality to them, but not the kind of voice any human possessed. “Yeah. Okay. Let’s be real careful here.”

“Hold on. I got this.” Marshall set his pack down, took out his camera, and set off for the edge of the clearly, stepping softly on the grass underbrush of the woods.

I fidgeted nervously with the straps of my pack while we watched Marshall, but soon he was back. His face was scrunched in thought, but not fear.

“What’d you see?” Liz asked, finally.

“I’m… Not sure. Not animals. Not humans. Aliens, I guess.” Marshall shrugged.

“You guess? What does that mean? If you saw aliens…” I didn’t finish my sentence. Marshall had turned his camera around and shoved the screen in front of my eyes. On it were, well, aliens, I guess. They were short four-legged creatures, brown in color. But it was their eyes that declared them unequivocally a level above animals. One of the aliens was clearly looking at the camera. “Come on. I’m not about to make first contact completely unprepared.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We came back the next day. We’d decided during the night that we needed more information, that we needed to study these creatures before we attempted to make contact. We brought cameras, recorders, notepads. We didn’t have many tools, or much expertise, but we weren’t about to jump in blind.

As we approached the clearing again, we spread out. It was a large clearing, and we wanted to get as much data as possible. I found a spot and pulled up my camera, focusing and zooming on the inhabitants of the clea—“Is that a human?” I heard the words come out of my mouth, but I did not believe them. I zoomed in tighter. It certainly looked like a human. It was dressed like a human. All around it, the brown four-leggers skittered to and fro, moving things, talking (I assume they’re talking), and this human just stood there. It looked familiar. It looked… Kind of like Marshall.

I heard a cry of surprise from the other side of the clearing. Liz began to walk toward the Marshall twin. “Liz, wait!”

I broke for the clearing. The Marshall twin turned to look at me, and I have never felt more revulsion than I did at that precise moment. His head turned around, all the way around. His eyes—intelligent eyes, fully inhuman eyes—entered my very soul. I fell to my knees and vomited into the intergalactic blue grass.

I then watched in horror as the creature turned it’s alien eyes back to Liz, and one of it’s Marshall-cloned hands reached out and slowly pierced the flesh of Liz’s midsection like a blade.

Time stopped. I couldn’t move, couldn’t scream. Liz was frozen, impaled on the arm of the nightmare clone, mouth open in the prelude to a scream. All around, the brown creatures watched us with inhuman eyes.


The explosion of wood on flesh ripped me from my terror-stasis. Marshall stood over Not Marshall, a length of alien timber in his hands. He slammed the branch into the imposter’s head, several more times.

I scrambled to my feet, and rushed to Liz. She was down on her back, her hands clutching her abdomen. I scooped her in my arms and began running without a word.

“Meiko! Meiko, do you copy?” I shouted into my comm unit.

“Yes, Sayid,” came her reply, calm, quiet.

“Get the surgery ready!”

“Yes, Sayid.”

My legs pumped hard across the soft, blue-tinged, earthlike turf. I noticed, for some reason, as I ran, that the trees on either side were not quite like Earth trees. Their bark was smooth, and their leaves were actually blue, not blue-tinted.

Meiko met us outside the door of the ship. I rushed Liz inside and laid her on the surgery table. Meiko began working immediately, implacable and stoic. Her deft hands flew over tools, sensors, Liz’s body, and soon she began barking orders at me.

Marshall had entered the ship shortly after me, and slammed the door shut behind him. He threw himself into the cockpit, and minutes later we were lifting off.

I stared at Liz. She had gone unconscious. I wondered. What had possessed her to go into that clearing? What had come over her?
Only, I didn’t wonder. I knew. A minute later, it might have been me.

“She’s going to be fine.”

“What?” I looked up. Meiko was looking at me with big eyes.

“She’s going to be fine. The wound is shallow.”

For the second time in as many days, I cried rivers. This time, Meiko joined me. I reached an arm around her, and we both sat on the ground, and cried for a long, long time.

Sep 14, 2007

this prompt sucks

i am in

one of those is a lie (because I am an unreliable narrator) you can choose which one

these are all good jokes everyone

Sep 14, 2007

can we trust these guys what do u think

Sep 14, 2007

Deltasquid posted:

good criticism and stuff

ty for the high quality crit.

Uranium Phoenix posted:

Each of the critiques I’m going to post is structured so that it hits first impression, summarizes the story, names a distinctive feature, then goes over some strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, this shows each writer what one idiot reader (me) got out of it. I am implicitly assuming each author had something important to say. Sometimes, I might miss something other readers find obvious. Hopefully it’s all helpful; the goal is to be constructive but honest.

Since it's UraniumPhoenix's week, I'm going to use the style that he uses for his crits. Here is my critique of:

Aquariums by Deltasquid

First impression: The title and the placement on a space station, to me, draws a clear parallel between these smug-rear end klopoh fish and these space-dwelling humans. Made clear obviously when he makes his half-hearted attempt to smash his way out into space (no fresh air out there, sorry bub). I also figured we'd learn more about what happened to the unwell waiter after the garcon is guarded with his information, which, well, we kind of do? I was thinking we'd get some more action than we do, to be honest.

Summary: A temp worker gets an opportunity to work at an upscale restaurant under somewhat mysterious circumstances, sees some weirdo fish, then starts making more and more outlandish gaffes. Then he tries to break out of his figurative aquarium, is restrained, sent back to Earth, then tells us the incidents kept happening until the restaurant closed its doors. Nothing too crazy. The message is that zoos are bad? And that we should be vegetarians? I think? Between the mink-coated woman and co. talking about the eradication of the dream-eaters, the insurgent fish, and protag's escape attempt, that's what I'm getting.

Distinctive feature: I liked the fishception dialogue that protag starts delivering in the second half of the story. I could have used more crazy talk, to be honest.

Strengths: The story is pretty clear. There are very spots where I had any confusion about what was happening, who was speaking, etc. If that sounds like faint praise, stick around and read some TD stories, and you'll see that it's no small thing. I also think you do a good job of conveying the protag's growing confusion about what's happening to him, and of having him react normally--that is, basically trying to ignore his headache and power through, instead of coming to the obvious (to the audience) conclusion that the fish are screwing with his brain.

Weaknesses: The best piece of advice I received from a TDer was to start my stories when they get interesting. You, in fact, gave me that advice on my story for this week, because apparently I don't learn. I am now giving it to you. There is a lot of exposition in the beginning of this story that doesn't really do much. It sets up the situation, sure, but that could be accomplished in a sentence. Things only get interesting when the fish start messing with him. You could start with him saying something inappropriate at a table, or him staring at the fish tank, or any number of things. I also think you choose to describe the wrong things, or decline to describe the interesting things. You give us a somewhat thorough description of the fish tank (which I get might be part of your overall theme--these fish are kept in captivity only at great, and conspicuous, effort), but give us no real description of the fish. Are they just normal looking fish? Or are they the blobfish from your prompt?

Overall response: Not enough happens in this story. And not enough crazy stuff happens. There is a clear reference to old world imperialism, about the exploitation of exotic lands, but we get very little description of anything exotic. What we do get is alluded to, more than it is seen. I also think you make the wrong choice with your ending. The protag essentially does nothing. The story I want to hear is about the waiter who actually smashes the aquarium--which I only just now realized is maybe ambiguous? I guess that could refer to the fish aquarium, or to the station, since that's what the protag tried to smash? Anyway, there's a seed of an idea here. Needs more work, though.

Deltasquid posted:

1300 words

I was working at my usual joint when a garcon from Le Bon Vivant asked whether anyone could fill in for a waiter who’d had an emergency. The request was sudden, he admitted, but any help would be greatly appreciated and paid overtime. I knew my temp agency worked with Le Bon Vivant, and I figured I could use the extra cash, so I stepped up, hoping that I could perhaps even impress the maître d’hôtel enough to be permanently transferred to the upscale rotating restaurant.

The waiter smiled gracefully and offered to lead the way, as if anybody living on Epsilon Station were 'was'--indefinite pronouns like anybody/everybody/etc. take singular verbs unaware that Le Bon Vivant occupied the entire top floor by itself. While pacing through the halls, I casually asked what had happened to the garcon I’d be filling in for.

This is all exposition. It needs to be something else, too. Characterization, tone setting, something. But it's just straight telling.

“Oh, he just became unwell.”

“He got ill?”

“No, not ill. Just… Unwell.”

And that was all the conversation I could get out of him. Again, do some characterization here. Does the protag press for more? Does he give him a weird look? Or you could just cut this. I think if you ended the conversation there, we could figure it out.


Like the rest of the station, the restaurant’s inside was spacious, sleek and clean. Nonetheless, the burgundy velvet on the walls and the mahogany touches on the furniture gave Le Bon Vivant an old-world feel, despite their specialty ostensibly don't need this. Le Bon Vivant's specialty is known, or it's not a very good restaurant, I'd say being alien cuisine. Only the fact that Jupiter and its moon Europa were visible through the windows on the far side of the restaurant suggested that we were in space. What else would give that impression?

All the other waiters had dark, parted hair, and most had a pencil-thin mustache. To make me blend in at least a little bit, the head waiter handed me the red and white uniform with matching waistcoat. I quickly changed in the lavatories and returned to the kitchen, where I was briefly introduced to the staff.

The kitchen was positively massive. At any given time, a dozen chefs were tirelessly charging from one end of the room to the other, juggling a wide variety of appetizers, starters, main courses and desserts, all of them containing at least one extraterrestrial ingredient, which was the main draw of Le Bon Vivant. you've already said this Usually, it was some sort of alien seasoning, but the restaurant was famous for its five-course menu called “The five stages of life,” which used one or other alien fish and its roe as base ingredients. This is all telling. You've missed an opportunity to show us what crazy extraterrestrial fish food looks like.

On the far end of the kitchen was a large aquarium holding at least twenty such fish, which lazily floated at the bottom. Somewhat clashing with the general aesthetic of the place, the side panels of the aquarium were held together with industrial-looking metal plates and bolts, and a conspicuous, what is so conspicuous about this canister? Why should I not expect a fish tank to have something like this? tubular canister was fitted underneath it, humming obnoxiously. It also had a side compartment, which could be sealed from the main tank.

“Is this fish tank under a lot of pressure?” I asked one of the chefs. He looked up from a dish he was garnishing as if I had just inquired whether bears relieved themselves in woods.

“Those are klopoh fish, above, you say they use 'one or other alien fish', and there are twenty such fish in the tank, but here only refer to one type of fish. unless klopoh fish refers to all varieties of fish coming from Europa? which live kilometers under the ice of Europa. At surface pressure, they distend and die.”

“And that thing on the side?”

“We goad a klopoh in there there for our signature dish. Reduce the pressure at just the right speed, and they turn inside-out. Here, this tray’s for table six.”

I pictured the process and wished they could just serve lobster instead. I like this detail


I brought starters to a table which had chosen the five-stages menu. It was a sort of vitello tonnato: thin slices of veal marinated in a klopoh cream, served with capers and bread. The company of four were having a discussion about the many wonders our solar system held, which we could admire since recreational interplanetary travel had become affordable.

There are a lot of terrors out there, too.

The table was taken aback, and it took me a few seconds to realize I’d just said something.

“How so?” a heavy-set man with thick glasses, apparently the oldest person at the table, asked.

“I mean, you know. Some of the aliens out there defy the mind.” I was sweating bullets. “Like those nightmare-inducing creatures on Venus?”

The man nodded.

“Right, I see what you mean. Nasty critters, those were.” He turned to enlighten his dining partners. except Mrs. Mink already knows about them? Also, given that this dude knows what the protag is talking about, I'm guessing these were a widely known creature or event or something? “Some sort of endolith that fed on dreams and induced nightmares. Mostly affected children, which is why it took so long for the colonists to figure out what was happening. But the endoliths were eradicated soon after.”

“Good riddance, too. I can’t stand the thought of some xeno feeding on our children’s dreams,” a woman with mink coat added.


Back in the kitchens, I closed my eyes and massaged my temples. I was so very certain I hadn’t wanted to speak back there, and yet words I had not even thought had come out of my mouth. On top of that, a nasty headache was setting in.

I sighed and rolled my shoulders in an attempt to regain my composure, whereupon I noticed all the klopoh in the fish tank were lurking on the side of the aquarium closest to me.

“Are you feeling well?”

The head waiter put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a concerned look.

“I’m fine, just… overworked. It’s been a long day.” Sheepishly, I added: “I feel like the klopoh keep glaring at me.”

The head waiter studied the tank with a raised eyebrow.

“They’re fish. How could they glare?” Then, with a hint of exasperation, he said: “Just bring these plates to table seventeen.”


Over the course of the evening, I got worse and worse. I progressed from merely tired to nauseous and, for the first time since moving to Epsilon Station, claustrophobic. I tried to power through, at least until the end of this shift, but worried I wouldn’t make it. In desperate need of a break and a cigarette, I hastily distributed the last plates from my tray.

“Enjoy your meal,” pricks.

The table had gone silent.

“I beg your pardon?”

I was too light-headed to see who had asked. I tried to come up with an explanation, an excuse, anything, and when I failed, I simply turned and fled. Crossing me on the way to the kitchens was the head waiter, taking long strides in panicked damage control mode. unclear--is he cutting off the protag, or headed to the table? Expected the next bit of dialog to come from the head waiter

I barged into the kitchens. The sous-chef jolted and nearly dropped a moelleux on the floor. “What is wrong with you?”

Are you afraid of captivity?


I shoved him out of the way, saw those goddamned fish turn in sync to follow me around the room, and reached for a pan hanging above the furnace. I couldn’t think, needed fresh air, direly. where are you planning to get that on a space station? A nearly irresistible urge told me to just bolt into the restaurant and smash a window and get the gently caress out of here. does he say this out loud? in the rest of the story, italics denotes something the character says out loud but unwillingly. don't think that's the action here

The sous-chef, recognizing my ill-advised intentions, intercepted me on my way out and tried to claw the pan out of my hands. “It’s happening again! Another one is feeling unwell!”

Everybody in the kitchen dropped what they were doing and dogpiled me. Somebody pressed the back of my knees to force me on the ground, and a hand on the back of my head pinned me against the cold kitchen tiles. I struggled and screamed.

“It’s the fish! It’s those loving fish, they’re getting under my skin!” I wish they were actually getting under his skin. that would be more interesting.

From the corner of my eye, I saw the klopoh glowering smugly.


Needless to say, I became unemployable at Epsilon Station. I did find work on Earth, eventually, but kept up with the news from Epsilon. Two more incidents took place before Le Bon Vivant closed its doors for good, although the official statement implied the rotating of the restaurant caused the nausea amongst its staff.

I don’t know how true that is.

But I do know the last waiter who became unwell has smashed don't know if you meant to use the present perfect, but that would imply that the smashing of the aquarium is ongoing. stick to simple past here the aquarium.

Welcome to Thunderdome!

Sep 14, 2007

also give me a flash rule

Sep 14, 2007

Kaishai posted:

BeefSupreme, a bored and talented child.

best compliment I've ever received ty kai

Sep 14, 2007

Crit of Solitair's Collective Soul

First impression: having an alien species make literal observations is one way to answer the prompt, that's for sure. I wasn't sure where this was going at first, but I liked the alien communication quirks from the start. Jensen seems inconsequential to me, which you formalize early by having the alien call her Area 51, rather than her name. Which is part of your point, but it doesn't give me any attachment to the character. I was hoping for some physical interaction or action of some kind (but that's probably just me, I love action). There are some Solaris vibes here, which is always a good thing.

Summary: A scientist sits down at a terminal, one of many scientists who have done just that, apparently, and starts to talk to an alien glowing fungus. She talks about stuff, the alien replies, she asks more questions, etc. Then she stops talking to the alien, for some reason? Not really sure. That's pretty much it for the plot. The alien views humans through it's own life patterns, such that it sees cities as singular organisms. That leads it to view dysfunctional pieces of the city as diseased cells, effectively, and it tries to act like an immune system, to remove them from the body. Turns out that human dysfunction, bad as it may be, is a part of life. And that killing people is definitely worse than living with them. Also this alien, which can distinguish other instances of its own species as separate nodes, it fundamentally misinterprets humanity. So maybe it's not so intelligent. The end line, about more stumbling, might be another thought here about how we can never actually know stuff, we're just fumbling in the dark for close approximations of the answers.

Distinctive Feature:
The alien dialogue stands out, for sure. The lack of tense and the unusual grammatical structure make it unique. I could very easily see this going very poorly, but you pull it off well. I'm not going to attempt to learn your grammatical structure to see if you are consistent throughout, but I buy it through the length of the story. It is foreign enough to convey a difference in communication, yet comprehensible enough that I don't have to spend much time attempting to untangle the mess. Good stuff.

Strengths: As I said above, you pull off the alien speech well. Your prose is clear. You've got a interesting idea here--an alien species arrives, adapts, observes, and then even tries to be compassionate (though it fails, rather spectacularly). I like your concept for the alien species (though I wish you'd have given it a name--something the scientists call it or whatever). It's cool. I like that each instance finds it's own adaptations (and only what it needs to survive, as opposed to redundant human adaptations). The alien misunderstanding and subsequent action are interesting, that killing could be considered compassionate, from a certain (misinformed) point-of-view.

First, I think the information she discovers might be considered more than an incremental breakthrough. Jensen is also pretty flat, not a particularly interesting character. That's okay, since the alien is the focus here, but you give a lot of words to someone who adds little to the story, in any way. I don't think the narration pieces do much of anything for you, really. There are a few pieces of information we get from there, but we could either have done without them or gotten them in the 'dialogue'. I also think you give us too little about the people that died, and much too late. We could have been drawing conclusions much earlier, piecing together this alien observation along with the scientist, but we are effectively told it at the end. So the pacing is weird, in that sense. Also, how did this fungus get captured? Would be interesting if the fungus basically stood down, after its assessment of the success of its 'solution'.

Overall Impressions: I like this story. It held my interest well for a story in which nothing much happens in the present. I like your imagination, and I like the plot details of the story. I think there are a few ways that you could polish this and make it better. I could see an interesting version of this story where we're just reading a chat transcript, or something. But you've got a solid piece, and a great first entry. Looking forward to reading more.

I was going to do a line crit, but I don't necessarily have a ton specific to say, so I'm going to not do that.

Welcome to the dome

Sep 14, 2007

hey what the hell even is a surreptitious muffin anyway

u suck

Sep 14, 2007

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I will gently caress you

Chili posted:

None of you bitches are loving anyone.

i dont know what to believe anymore

Sep 14, 2007

i eat muffins for meals. whole muffins. gently caress that muffintop only bullshit

also chili is often made with beef


Sep 14, 2007

Chili posted:

Oh and Beef or Muffin....

I will accept a flash rule from either of you.

Whoever is first.

Come at me.

Famous basketballer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Sep 14, 2007

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

this is bullshit. We all know the only thing Beef can eat is a dick.

wrong beef dick #NotAllBeefs

Sep 14, 2007

Chili/Muffin, I will also take a flash rule

from EACH of you

Sep 14, 2007

Chili posted:

1. A standard flash rule: If your characters talk, they do so while their mouths have food in them.

this is going to be fun for Sitting Here I am sure

I am reading this as a request for a flash rule. As such:

You must incorporate verse of some kind (poetry? rap? don't care) into your story.


Sep 14, 2007

Solitair posted:

Also, put me in, coach. For the regular prompt, not whatever else is going on ITT.

u can brawl too if u want it bad enough

  • Locked thread