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  • Locked thread
Mar 17, 2009

I'm in. Lego me.


Mar 17, 2009


Letters (1172, King's Castle)

“It isn’t fair!” Richard pouted in his padded chair.

“What isn’t fair?” Edward, his elder brother, was across the room sitting at the study’s desk. It was a large and impressive desk for their father, a full grown man and a king at that. Compared to a boy of twelve, however, it was colossal. Edward kicked his legs idly, feet swinging like pendulums, never quite touching the floor.

“You don’t read for me anymore.” It was only fair, Richard hadn’t learned yet, so it was Edward’s job.

Edward kicked his feet more vigorously, like a grandfather clock that had somewhere to be. “There’s nothing new to read.”

“Yes there is!” Richard demanded. He could see his brother touch his hand to the locked drawer. Inside were a stack of parchments, all of them letters, all of them from the king, their father.

“No there isn’t!” Edward lied. He stood up and slammed the drawer shut, locking the secrets inside. He left in a huff.

Richard had seen him read the new letter, seen him hide it away in the drawer. Edward might be little, but he wasn’t a fool. Edward didn’t own the place, Richard had a right to see the letter too.


Edward had read all of father’s communiques aloud since he had gone to war. Richard was young, and could read a little, father promised to finish teaching him when he returned. At first, they had read the letters together. Richard would try his best, and when he was wrong Edward would correct him.

Edward had been gentle at first, positively encouraging. “No silly, it says fortified. Fort-i-fied. Not fo-hi-fed.” he’d said with a giggle. Richard hadn’t even understood the proper word, but he nodded and smiled at his brother. Edward was so smart.

Weeks turned into months, and Edward turned into an impatient meanie. Corrections were hissed, mistakes berated, brought up again and again. Eventually, Edward had claimed authority by right of being the elder sibling, and something about diving right, he alone would read the letters.

Richard had become rightfully angry and had complained incessantly.

So they’d compromised. Edward would read the missives from father aloud.

Richard stopped hounding Edward.
Edward stopped yelling at Richard.

Their father stopped telling them about the war.


It had been a few days since Edward had lied.

Moonlight came through the narrow stone window and alighted on Richard’s face, waking him. Richard yawned and crawled out of bed to use the chamber pot, making his best effort not to wake Edward. As he made to climb into bed, something glinted in the darkness.

Richard peered but could see nothing, as the room was dark, save for the shaft of moonlight on his pillow, and the light of it had left him with poor night vision. He stepped further into the darkness and let his eyes adjust. After a moment, the glint revealed itself to him again, the ornate wardrobe across the room was slightly ajar, and within was the glint of iron.

The key! Richard clapped his hand over his mouth, afraid he might shout the thought in excitement. He willed himself silent, his grogginess replaced with an excitement that threatened to pour out of his mouth. He turned to look at his brother.

Edward was sound asleep.

Richard crept towards the wardrobe, his bare feet rasped against the stone floor, the faint sound agonizingly loud in the stillness of the room. One, two, three, eleven steps of stealth, and the key was in his grasp.

Richard opened the door, and the hinges betrayed him with a squeal. The sound of his heartbeat threatened to deafen him until there was a rustle of sheets and a mumble as Edward turned over in bed. Richard wiped his brow and stole off down the hall, seeking the study in the dark.

It took some finding in the dark, but Richard managed the keyhole and pulled out the letters. He couldn’t read them in the dark, and father had warned him about lighting lamps recklessly, not that he even knew how. He looked at the study window, it was on the wrong side of the castle, and did not face the moon.

Richard brought the letters to the window anyways. Some starlight came through, and he could see the letters a little bit. What caught his eye was the secret letter. It had been on the bottom of the pile, and the paper it was written on was different. It was rougher, darker. The letters looked like they might be different too, but it was too dark to tell exactly.

Richard thought for a moment and put all but two of the letters back, the first, and the latest, the strange one. He locked the drawer and wandered back into the bedroom, clutching the letters in his hands.

As he closed the door, the squeak did nothing to stir Edward. The moonlight, however, had shifted from Richard’s pillow to rest very close to Edward’s shoulder. Richard steeled himself and got onto the bed, positioning himself with his back to the window.

Leaning over his brother, Richard held up the first letter. He’d read this one himself, months and months ago. His lips mouthed the words as his eyes traced them in the moonlight.

“My Dearest Sons,
I hope you are doing well, I think of you both every day...”

Every letter had started like that. Edward had tried to skip it on a few occasions, to phase it out on account of its repetition. Richard had whined and complained and otherwise thrown enough of a tantrum that Edward had relented and read the letters unabridged since.

Richard held up the secret letter. “Your… Ma-jess-ty” he read. The handwriting was different, the lines were thicker, scratchier.

“I must… sadly… in farm you…” Richard whispered the words unconsciously.

“Of your father’s” father, that was a word he knew, father had always signed the letter with ‘your loving father’

“Deaf eat? De-feet?” Richard lowered the letter to ponder the unfamilliar word and nearly fell out of the bed when he saw Edward looking up at him.

“Are you mad?” Richard asked with a wince.

“No.” Edward said. He propped himself up on his elbows. He looked tired. “I’m not mad.”

“Did they really cut off father’s feet?” Richard asked

“Yes. That’s why it’s taking him so long to come home.” Edward explained.

Richard looked at the letter, suddenly a blurry mess through his tears. “Is that why you didn’t tell me?”

Edward nodded.

Richard tried to read further, but he couldn’t. “Will you read it for me?”

Edward took the letter from his brother and kissed him on the forehead. “In the morning.” he said. “I’ll read it to you in the morning. Go to sleep.”

Richard embraced his brother, both sad and relieved.

The new king squeezed his little brother tight and tucked him in. He stroked Richard’s hair as he fell asleep. The prince dreamed, and King Edward watched him, wishing he were a better liar.

Mar 17, 2009


Mar 17, 2009

Heart Improvement
1086 Words

Matthew sat in his booth at the diner, holding his ribcage closed, or at least, he tried. Between his fingers leaked thick fluid, some shades too dark to be blood. It made them slick, and that made the skin on either side of the gash on his chest somewhat difficult to grip, moreso under the bloodsoaked shirt that was rapidly growing an imperial red sun.

From the flip phone in his left hand came the electronic sound of his girlfriend, Jessica “So I’ll just meet you at home, ok? You know how crunch time is.” There was a creaking sound on the line, a chair, probably.

“Well,” he hesitated, looking down at the widening schism in his chest. “I think this is outside of your job description.” There was a sickening crack as a sliver turned into a gash.

“You’re not being very supportive. Dave said there could be a promotion in this for me.”

“Refill?” the waitress asked as she pulled away from her patrol route to check in on him.

He looked down at himself, all grisly and crimson, then back to her. She couldn’t see it, could she? “One sec.” he said into the phone. He let go of his chest and covered the mouthpiece with his bloody hand. “Sorry. Yes, please.”

She picked up the translucent red tumblr of mostly ice-water. “Coke?”

“Yeah, coke’ll do, thanks.” he said with a spurt.

He watched her go for a moment, listening to the click clack of her flats before turning back to his solitary meal and raising the phone back up. “What was that about?”

“Waitress.” he said. The seeping wound in his chest all of a sudden seemed harmless. He’d let it go and it hadn’t killed him. Heck, it’d stopped hurting.

“Ok, no sure, go ahead, have your whole meal, I’ll just sit here on company time for you. Would you like that? Go ahead, order seconds. I’ll wait, then I’ll call Dave over so you can explain to him how-”

“No, no, god drat it.” He pulled at the little pink napkins in the dispenser, jamming them into the wound. They did nothing. “Look, forget about it. I’ll see you at home, ok? I love you.”

A sigh and a dial-tone were the response.

There was a plastic click of a glass being landed on the vinyl table. “Everything alright, darlin’?” said the waitress, who looked for a moment like she could see everything.

“Just dandy.” he smiled.


Ten minutes later, Matthew stood in front of the till, fiddling with a few bloody fivers. As Violet (Matthew found her nametag infinitely easier to read when he wasn’t seated.) ran the register, he looked back at his booth. It was like something out of Dexter, just a slick mess of red, with a streak where he’d slipped and red footprints leading to the counter.

“That’ll be 17.97” she said.

“Here you go” he handed her five shining bills. “Sorry about the mess”

She laughed “That’s fine darlin, it’s nothing to worry about. Won’t take me but a minute to pick those up.”


Matthew checked himself into the ER. He left a trail from the parking lot, past the handicapped spots and the ambulance access. He waited for maybe five minutes in triage, hand over heart, before he heard a nurse say something about “chest pains” and he was whisked onto a bed behind a curtain.

The attending identified himself as Dr. Rodney. “What seems to be the problem?”

“Well, Doc, I got this pain right here.” Matthew indicated his blood-soaked hand, clutched clawlike, holding himself together.

The doctor told him to take off his shirt, and ran through the standard battery of tests. After maybe two hours, he was out the door with a scrip for something that ended in “-fil”, a good night’s rest, and some relaxation. There was likely a bill, too, but per doctor’s orders, he decided to to worry about it til morning. Heck, maybe till next week.

Matthew arrived home, left a slug trail into the bathroom, wrapped himself in some bandages from the medicine cabinet, and slept in an empty white bed.


Life went on. Matthew got used to living and working ankle-deep in red. His chest would pull itself apart, and he would bandage himself up. He started with super glue. That held for about a week.

When Jessica started locking her phone, he moved on to wood staples. Surprisingly, the PSS-CHK of a staple gun only hurt if you were thinking about it or if your hands shook. Once you got used to it, PSS-CHK! PSS-CHK! PSS-CHK! Done in minutes.

After Jessica started taking ‘business weekends’ on short notice, he moved on to nails and 30 gauge wire. When he ran into Dave at a local bar, he made mental note to pick up something heavier. When Dave asked How Jessica had been doing since she quit, he upgraded the nails to bolts.


Replacing the sheets had stopped helping around the time he’d upgraded to staples. Replacing the mattress had given him most of a month before it soaked through, but the replacement mattress (“upgrade” he had told Jessica) soaked through in a week.

They’d started sleeping apart, not out of any particular design of separation, but that Matthew couldn’t sleep unless he was either on the couch (leather didn’t get effuse like a bloody sponge when rested upon), or loaded up with several drinks before hand (restless sleep was still sleep).

Matthew’s chest rested open like a maw, showers beat on his exposed heart like drumming fingers, so he’d stopped taking them. Shirts soaked through and tore on the bolts along the rim, so he’d wear them only when leaving the house.

It took him a week to realize he’d been fired. Answering phones was difficult when your hands were constantly slick with blood.

It took him a week to realize she’d left. He’d only realized she’d been missing when he’d found white spots on the walls where her things had hung.

By the time he’d been evicted, nothing would hold his heart closed.

On a crisp autumn day, freshly homeless, Matthew walked past a dumpster. He laughed that he had not done it sooner, but still he reached into his chest and pulled out the source of his pain. He left it in the dumpster.

That night, Matthew spent his last few dollars at a greasy spoon and slept on a park bench. It was the best sleep he’d ever had.

Mar 17, 2009


Mar 17, 2009

Parting Words Between Old Friends (134 words)

‘Twas good to see you once again
There was no way this could end well
You were, of course, my closest friend

Your honor you did well defend
Your sword well earns the price you sell
‘Twas good to see you once again

My leg, I fear, might never mend
Your bleeding I shall haste to quell
You were, of course, my closest friend

Your soul will not this day descend
I shall not let you ring the bell
‘Twas good to see you once again

On mercy, you should not depend
I’ve not much left but empty shell
You were, of course, my closest friend

Your wrath, I know, is without end
I’m certain you will give me hell
‘Twas good to see you once again
You were, of course, my closest friend

Mar 17, 2009


Mar 17, 2009

Home Office (1098 words)
Prompt: "No wife, no kids and he works out of his garage. But he has plenty of misery to keep him company."

At 4:50 AM on Monday morning, James Verne’s phone screamed an alarm at him. “Turn it off.” he mumbled, and after finding no reply reached out and dismissed it with as much aggression as he could channel into a finger swipe.

At 4:55 AM, James dismissed another alarm and drifted back to half dreams.

At 5:00 AM, James awoke alone, pulled up the clock app to turn off the other three alarms he’d set, realized his mistake, and conceded checkmate to his past self. He was awake.

He was downstairs a minute later, used mug in hand. He’d walked silently past the doors upstairs. He needn’t worry about waking Amanda or Ethan, not anymore, but old habits died hard. He put on the kettle, pulled a fresh mug out of the cupboard, set it next to his stained one and spooned out an equal measure of instant coffee, sugar and powdered creamer into both.

He resolved to watch the kettle and get his morning coffee out of the way, but instead found himself on the sofa with a bowl of dry cornflakes. He’d realized the lack of milk mid-pour. He made a mental note to gather up some of the laundry he’d scattered around down here, and promptly forgot it, filling that mental space with the early morning news.

At 8:00 AM, James woke to a ringing doorbell. He signed for the package, went upstairs for clothes that could survive the scrutiny of the sidewalk, and collected the mail. Bills, catalogues, and a stiff envelope from Harmony Mutual. The catalogues he dumped, the bills he took into his office and placed in the little in-tray he’d picked up for five bucks. A nice little place to remind him they existed.

The stiff envelope, however, he took back into the kitchen. He placed it on the counter and stared at it as he hit the switch on the electric kettle. He chuckled briefly at the notion that he might have burned the house down with a stovetop kettle, before the envelope reasserted the silence.

He poured the two coffees before realizing his mistake. Amanda was gone. She wasn’t coming back. At least, he didn’t think she would. Not for a while, at least.. He didn’t blame her, they’d tried counseling, but nothing in heaven or earth is going to unkill a child.

He took his coffee into the office and sat behind his desk. He checked his dry erase calendar board. Two projects leftover from last week. He checked his email. An inquiry for a quote, and confirmation of payment from two more clients. He marked them down in blue. Not urgent, but sooner was better than later.

James puttered about, checked his facebook, and otherwise avoided responsibility til around noon. He ordered delivery from a chinese chain franchise, as opposed to the mom and pop place he liked. Amanda had always been the one to order anyways, she was particular like that.

After lunch, James sat down to do some work. He cleared his drafting table and began to sketch out thumbnails. He was fairly confident in the compositions, and after refining them and iterating a few times, he began to get into a groove.

The color scheme for his little mock marketing materials, however, was subject to a bit more experimentation. He made color swatches in marker, and just as he’d done a hundred times, he looked over his shoulder to her corner and opened his mouth to ask for input.

It was like she’d just taken her laptop into the living room. Her desk was still covered in knick knacks, her chair still had a sweater draped over it. She hadn’t abandoned her belongings in the house, but she hadn’t exactly packed thoroughly either. Hell, he’d helped the illusion, she had a cup of joe waiting for her in the kitchen, after all.

The interruption was brief, but the momentum was gone. He tried working to music. He put on the news. After a while, he threw up his hands and called it an early day. At some point he nuked Amanda’s coffee for himself . It’d be a shame to waste it, after all.

Tuesday was much of the same. A half dozen alarms where before he’d had the convenience of sharing a bed with a light sleeper (and a morning routine with an enthusiastic jogger). He went to the supermarket, picked up sandwich fixings and forgot the milk.

On Wednesday he caught a matinee to get out of the house, then spent some time with an old college buddy who was in town.

On Thursday James sat down to work, threw up his arms and went on a cleaning spree. All the poo poo he’d been leaving around the house went in the hamper, the garbage, or in the closet for all he’d care. All Amanda’s stuff in the office got packed away into a cardboard box which he labeled in sharpie and put away overhead in the hall closet. He vacuumed, he mopped, hell, he dusted.

James took Friday off. He had good relationships with the two clients he was technically ducking, so he was confident they would grant an extension. He took a short drive across the state line and spent the weekend at his brother’s house.

James expected Monday to be productive. It wasn’t. He wasn’t a superstitious man, but if he’d ever imagined himself haunted, he would have expected the perpetrator to be dead. Instead, he was dogged at every corner by routine and habit. It surprising, per se, but he’d never realized the extent to which he had relied on Amanda like an extension of his own mind, not til she was gone and everything he did probed at her absence like a missing tooth. She was ingrained into his entire process. The entire house had spaces reserved for her.

He called her. They made chitchat. She was doing well. She wasn’t sure if she’d be coming back, and if she would, she definitely wasn’t ready.

She missed him too.

James said his goodbye and flung his phone half an inch into the drywall.

He needed space, so he moved the car out of the garage, onto the driveway, left it subject to all the elements, and took anything of Amanda’s and what little they had left of Ethan’s in boxes and threw them in the office, now a glorified storage space.

The drafting table he dragged into the garage, which he filled with some manner of noise. He sat at the table and got to work.

Mar 17, 2009

Thanks for the crits. I had to poo poo the bed eventually. I'll do better.

In, btw.

Mar 17, 2009

Sam vents (535 words)

You’re an rear end in a top hat, did you know that, Kyo?

Don’t hide behind this soft rear end ‘hey Sammy, you sure you’re ok?’ crap. Say it to my face. Tell me I don’t want to loving be here. You’ve got your parasite crap, Mel’s got god whispering in her ear to fight evil, Dan’s not a person anymore, and don’t start me on Vam. But here’s me, poor Samantha, no sob story, no compulsion to join this merry little band. She’s normal, she’s fine, she shouldn’t be here.

Is that what you think?

gently caress you, Kyo. What is it that you think I even do? Do you think I’m running around with a loving magic makeup kit? That I’m some kind of scummy conman that’s in over her head? Or maybe you think I’m one of those capes that makes pretty illusions: smoke and mirrors, holograms maybe. Do you think I’ve tricked my way into the hero business? Is that what you think I’ve done?

I’m not some two bit magician. I don’t make pretty pictures. I reach into your brain and dig around and find the memories I want and staple them together until it makes you think what I want you to think. I don’t even do the legwork, I just want something, and everyone around me reaches into the deepest filing cabinet for all the scents and sensations to make it real. I’m two steps away from straight up controlling your reality. And you know what? I don’t always know what’s real, and I can never turn it off.

I don’t even know when it started. I don’t know if I ever didn’t do it, maybe I was born like this. Did you know my mom died? I didn’t. I didn’t want to know, so all those memories, all those experiences, they just kind of filtered out when it happened. I covered it up, and everyone around me was complicit. Because I made them.

You think I’m the normal one, Kyo? You’re half demon, Mel’s some kind of chosen one, Dan’s a family of space worms, Vam’s an alien, and I’m still the worst monster on the team.

And if I wanted to, I could walk away whenever I wanted. You would never know. You’d forget. You wouldn’t miss me, you wouldn’t hate me, it’d be like you never even met me. I don’t have to be here. I don’t even have to exist. I am a seamless patch to the world, and if I want, I can leave a seamless hole.

I choose to be on the team. I choose to be your friend. I try not to lie, I try to stay out of your guys’ heads. I know I’m batting a hundred on that, but I loving try.

So if you don’t want me here, just tell me. Because I want to be part of this. I want to be your friend. I want to be here and now.

If you think you’re better off without me, or if you or anyone else thinks I should leave it to the real heroes, tell it to my face, or shut up and stop trying to protect me. Cause I don’t loving need it.

Mar 17, 2009

I'm in, gimme the exodias.

Mar 17, 2009

War Cry (702 words)

The judge looked down at me. “Mrs. Jones, do you understand the charges against you?”

I considered spitting, that’d probably add contempt. “It’s Ms. Jones, your honor. And yes, though really, if you’re gonna call a crowbar a deadly weapon, I don’t see-”

“That’s enough, Ms. Jones.”

“Alright, alright.” I folded my arms.

“The prosecution may call the first witness.”

“The prosecution calls Deputy Robert Carson to the stand.” The bald sweaty local tv damages lawyer gently caress, Walter Something-or-other, took the floor, waddling around like he was but some simple country lawyer.

Bob tipped his hat and took the stand.

Walter fuckhead was already sweating in his suit. “Deputy, could you in your own words recount the events of Saturday afternoon for us?”

“Well, I received a call from dispatch at 3:25. We’d gotten a disturbance call from the neighbors. I was the nearest car.”

Piggy pushed up his tiny glasses and continued. “And what did you find at the scene?”

Bob smiled. “I got there around 3:31, and I saw Ally” he waved. I smiled back at him. Walter glared. “Sorry, the defendant wailin on that corrugated steel shed she has by the water tank, screamin’ something fierce.”

Piggy was scowling, he’d soured on his witness the second he waved at me. Like it was my fault I know my local law enforcement. “And what happened next?”

“Well, I said hi to Ally there and got her calmed down. She told me some folk had come onto her land, she’d warned em off, they wouldn’t listen, so she got a crowbar and chased em off, ‘cept they weren’t exactly the smartest cookies, and they hid in the shed instead of getting outta dodge.”

“And who was in the shed, Deputy?”

“Some kids from the university, I think they were doing some kinda geology survey.”

“You said Ms. Jones was yelling at the students, could you repeat what she said for the court?”

“Honestly sir, I don’t remember. Don’t even think it was words.”

“Would you describe it as intimidation, Deputy?”

“I suppose you could describe it that way.”

“No further questions, your honor.” Piggy looked smug.

The judge rubbed at a temple with one finger. “Does the defence have any questions?”

“Bob, wh-” I began

“That’s Deputy Carson, Mrs. Jones.” Mr. TV lawyer interjected.

“Walter, you do not give orders in my courtroom.” The judge stared, his brow furrowed. Piggy opened his mouth, the judge raised a finger. “I’m sorry, Ms. Jones, please continue.”

“Thank you, your honor. Anyways, Bob, I was gonna ask: How long have you been deputy round here?”

“Summer of 94, over 20 years.”

“And how long have I lived down on Mason Street?” I asked.

“Ten years, I think?”

“And what does the sign at the front of my property say?”

“No trespassers, for entry call…. I can’t remember your number off the top of my head, but…” he trailed off.

I pulled out my iPhone and scrolled to the logs for Saturday. “Your honor, I received no calls before 6 that day, believe me I’d know, I use this thing to listen to music while I’m out of the house, if they’d called, I woulda known. If you don’t believe this, I get the bill at the end of the month. Doorbell don’t reach everywhere on the property. They were trespassing. I was chasing them off my property”

“That won’t be necessary.” The judge motioned for the phone. I handed it to the bailiff. The judge pulled out a pair of reading glasses, squinted for a moment, and then handed it back. “Ok, so that’s somewhat justifiable, Ms. Jones. However, the verbal intimidation would escalate this beyond a reasonable defence of your property.”

“I have one more question for Deputy Carson.” I took my phone back. “Bob, would you recognize what you heard on Saturday if you heard it again?”

“I reckon I might.”

“Please tell me you do not intend to start screaming in my courtroom, Ms. Jones.” The judge pinched his brow.

I pulled up the music app, turned the volume up to max, and played Thunderstruck. “Did it sound anything like this?”

Bob started laughing.

Judge threw the case out.

Mar 17, 2009

Thank you for crits, thank you for critters.

I'm in.
(Critter me)

Mar 17, 2009

Expansion (665 words)

Eric had always been a city boy. Between lovely townhouses, dorms and his tiny studio apartment he was more than used to living in what amounted to broom closets. Despite all that, however, he could not bring himself to be comfortable in a jail cell. It was grey, cold, and moldy. There was an echoing drip somewhere behind the east wall, which would be tolerable if it wasn’t the wall with his cot.

Eric dragged his hands down across his face to pull at the tired, slack skin. He slapped himself in the cheeks a bit to ward off the tiredness, then shoved his face between the bars and sucked in a lungful of fresh air.

“LET ME OUT OF HERE!” he screamed. The sound echoed through the police station.

“Quiet in the back!” the guard called back. The words were muffled, as though he hadn’t bothered to turn his head.

“You can’t leave me in here with that thing!” Eric shouted. He looked behind him at the brown mildew-smelling mass of mushrooms that was his cellmate.

“Don’t make me shut you up!” there was the sound of a hardcover .

Eric let it lie, after a tense moment, there was a sound of a page turning.

“Do not mind me” the fungus said with a voice like an overloaded washer. It was a massive thing, filling up a good half the cell. Floor to ceiling in one corner, half a wall, mushrooms the size of his arms, each quivering and pulsing independently.

Eric tugged his face out of the bars and stared at it. “Stay the gently caress away from me.” he said. He backed into the opposing corner. It was unusual to see one of these guys… pods? Things? Didn’t matter. It was unusual to see them outside of the cities. Generally small towns didn’t stand for them.

“Hostile, much? I am not doing anything to you, friend.” dust-like spores puffed out of it as it spoke.

“You’re not my friend.” Eric said as he pulled up his shirt to cover his mouth and nose.


Leaning against the bars began to hurt his back, so Eric moved to the cot. He sat. Then he lay. Then he sat again. Eventually, he broke the monotony and the silence.

“Ok, look. Sorry. Bad day. Let’s start over. I’m Eric, and you are?”

“Cyrrovaen” it rumbled. “What are you in for?”

Eric scratched at his unkempt jawline. “Tresspassing. Which is bullshit, yeah I got evicted, but it was on trumped up bullshit, and the dick still had my stuff. I’m not proud, but hey. Man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

“So, you were arrested for being somewhere you were not wanted?” Cyrrovaen puffed.

“Well, yeah. You could put it like that.” Eric said.

“I know the feeling.” Cyrrovaen said. “I was arrested for loitering. Happens a lot to us.”

“No poo poo?”

At this point, an officer walked up, another, lighter brown fungus flowed behind him in a strange wave of sprouting and shrivelling mushrooms. “Cyrrivin!” the officer yelled. “You made bail!”

The door opened. “It’s Cyrrovaen, actually.”

“I really don’t give a crap. Get out of here.” The officer opened the cell.

Cyrrovaen rose, or more accurately, it grew its way out of the room. Instead of locomoting like an animal, as a distinct being, it grew in the direction it meant to go, and left shrivelled little mushrooms in its wake. The two fungi drifted down the hall and out the door, puffing little clouds at each other all the way.

“One second sir, I’ll grab the scraper. Take care of this mess.” The officer tipped his hat before dissapearing around a corner.

Eric lay down.

One of the mushrooms rumbled. “Goodbye, Eric.”

He looked at it. He didn’t know how those things perceived, but he felt like Cyrrovaen might still be here in some capacity. “Goodbye, Cyrro.”

“It’s Cyrrovaen, actually.” the fungus replied, as the officer returned with a scraper and a dustpan.

Mar 17, 2009

I'm in.

...or am I?

Mar 17, 2009

Haunted (973 words)

When Nate was young, I used to tell him the house was haunted. Night after night, he’d get it into his head and come knocking on our bedroom door, usually around two in the morning.

“Dad! I heard something downstairs!” he’d cry. I’d have to reassure him, let him sleep in our bed (I made him promise not to wet it, I am eternally grateful for him upholding that particular bargain). It worked out ok, given that most nights he came knocking were when Lauren’s filming ran late, or she was otherwise busy. He had a sense for it, I suspect he just missed her.

Lauren never approved, but I encouraged his imagination. When he was four or five it’d be simple ghosts, strange people wandering the house, doors that opened and shut at night. I told him the story of a woman who’d died in the house, how she starved to death during a harsh winter and now would raid the pantry when no one was looking. The morning after that Lauren and I had a brief panic when he wasn’t in his room. We found him in the pantry, passed out on a bag of rice with a broom in his hand and a pot on his head. I was in the doghouse for a week, but I still think it was pretty funny.

As he got older, the stories always changed. It was the mummies when he was seven. That was the only thing he could ascribe creepy moaning to. Personally I blame Brendan Fraser. Lauren blamed me for letting him watch it, like I did it on purpose, like I could help falling asleep with the TV on. At least it was something silly and not anything by Barker or Carpenter.

When he was nine, he swore he saw a monster. I still have the drawing somewhere in a filing cabinet, it’s actually kind of creepy in that way kids drawings can be, a weird skinny person all in black with giant round eyes and some kind of lamprey mouth. I mean, I couldn’t put it on the fridge, given that it was the source of his fears and all, but I was proud of it anyways.

He set traps around the house once. Lauren actually rolled her ankle on a Hot Wheel that was dropped off a ramp by a little tripwire type setup. He told us he thought there was a girl living in the crawlspaces, said he heard scratching at night. I yelled at him, I’m not proud, but he’d gone too far. He didn’t speak to me for a week. Still piped up when I asked what toppings to get on pizza, though.

He got the message, and stopped waking us up in the middle of the night. He even stopped seeing and hearing spooky things for a while. Course, any moaning for a while was easily attributed to mommy being on vicodin, And once she went back to work the house felt quiet. I also attribute this to the mini fridge we got for the basement. Sometimes I wonder if we’d have this problem if we had taken the room by the stairs instead.

A few years later I was at a neighborhood barbeque when Jason, Bobby’s father, asked about our haunted house. Nate’d gotten real good at ghost stories it seems, kept them out of the house, his friends loved em. I told Jason we built over an old Indian burial ground, his wife interjected with “Native American” we had a good laugh and enjoyed our brats and beer.

Thirteen and onwards was a less weird time for Nate, what with kids getting really into horror movies round then, I guess being allowed to go to PG13 flicks flips a switch, gets you all pumped up for the R.

Nate got into creative writing. He’s pretty good at research, as I learned when he tossed a folder marked “Dad’s bullshit” onto the kitchen table. It was a good little summary of our neighborhood. Some local history, some crime stats, no murders, no burial grounds, no starving winters (I mean c’mon, the neighborhood got developed in the eighties) maybe we could be haunted by some tweakers and taggers, but that was about it.

We had a good laugh over it, I let him have a beer. He told me he wanted to go to NYU, wanted to do screenplays. I wasn’t cosigning NYU money, one mortgage was enough to last me a lifetime. Literally, if the bank had a say in it. I talked him down to Columbia (Chicago, not New York).

I miss him, he writes less than he should, but facebook lets you chat on video now. He doesn’t call that much, but it’s fine. We call him, maybe once every week or two. He posts his projects online, Lauren says they’re really well shot, I believe her. Kid’s got a bright future. Says he’s working with a buddy to do a horror flick on the cheap, something about shadow men I think, he’s had to do some rewrites. I can’t wait to see it.

The house is quieter these days. I guess it’s what they call empty nest syndrome. Lauren deals with it better than I do. She likes being able to film in the living room. She keeps asking me to break out the stud finder, put in some eye loops. I keep telling her the kid’s gotta come visit. I swear, he’s gonna bring a girl home to meet us some day and Lauren will just be on the couch in the gasmask. Eighteen years without getting caught and she starts getting sloppy the second the kid moves out, I swear. The papers keep telling me he’s probably gonna move back home anyways.

It’d be a laugh, at least.

Mar 17, 2009

Hey, I did better than middling low. Now to get cocky and gently caress it all up. In.
Gimme a classic.

Mar 17, 2009

Rise of the Rebel King, or: How I lost my hand. (1150 Words)

Crown Prince Avatanno, High Commander of Thravvin stood across the platform from me. Far from doughy nobility, he was muscled slab under his crisp white military accoutrement, and half a head taller. It was to be expected, Thravvin had a grand history of martial prowess, and their nobility took it to heart, training from boyhood with the blade, living for the day when they win blood-soaked glory on the field.

“You’re shorter than I expected.” He scowled at me as the platform shifted. Tormik, the Rebel King of the Alven Isles. I would dispute that title, but it played into their narrative. It made them think me a singular force, a lynchpin of the rebellion. It made this ridiculous duel plausible in Thravvin’s eyes. Behead the snake, crush the secession, reclaim their precious mines.

“And you’re younger than I heard.” I said.

“Father is sick.” His voice caught. I knew that the king was unwell, but we’d been counting on his honor compelling him to face me anyways. A king for a king. “You’ll be facing me in his stead.”

“Of course, your Majesty.” The whole contrivance made me laugh. Here I was, a miner’s son facing a prince in single combat. That might have happened in a court somehow, had I managed some social mobility, or perhaps had the gall to sneak in and shag a princess. But no, instead we circled each other with our hands on our swords on a free floating dock, planks lashed together and anchored in the bay, the exact meeting point between Thravvin and Alven waters.

Granted, in their eyes, it was all Thravvin waters. Indeed, around us were ships of the royal navy, grand white and gold boats, all itching to swoop in and save their prince, restrained by parley and honor.

Behind me was our only vessel. A prison boat, the channel by which all residents immigrated to Alven. All it would take is one cannon, maybe two, and we’d be landlocked, surrounded and bombarded. It would have been the smart thing to do, but if you’re going to contrast yourself as the noble aristocracy to our shoddy criminal uprising, then I suppose you’re bound by your reputation, aren’t you?

They had built this ridiculous platform, presented their champion, looked down their noses at me as we signed writs of proxy and terms of conditional surrender, parchments that reduced a year long war to single combat. They cheered their prince as the boats withdrew, leaving us surrounded by ocean and the glint of a thousand spyglass spectators. We bowed and drew swords as all the empire held its breath.

“Any last words?” He asked. I felt he did not mean to goad, but rather he would honestly hear them. I shook my head.

“And you?”

“I shall not need them.” A cheer went up as Avatanno lunged. His form was perfect, the point of his saber flew in a perfectly straight line that would have terminated in my heart. I brought up my sword in an arc to deflect it to my right. I stepped left as I did. There must have been two hundred and fifty pounds of man behind the blade, I wasn’t stupid enough to think I could push that aside one handed.

He went into a controlled roll and came up in a low stance, blade pointed at my face. “Most men would be dead by now.” he said. I suspected he spoke from empirical experience.

“I’m not most men.” I said. I kept my eyes sword, a long sweeping curve of silvered metal, the handle wrought in gold and rubies. Ostentatious next to my functional longsword, stamped with the seal of the late high warden.

“No, you are not.” He shifted his feet. I could barely see it coming, an upwards chop. Unorthodox, and blindingly quick. The cheers came again across the water as I lowered my blade to interpose. It was less clean this time, more block than parry. The clashing blades rang and my hand shook with the force of impact.

He probed at me again and again, each time being a little more sure, knowing a little more of my reaction. I could hear anguished shouting in the distance, it was probably Rettin shouting advice at me, as though somehow I could be locked in a duel to the death with a head of our oppressing state and somehow still be half assing things.

He came at me faster, each attack coming sooner after the last. The tempo advanced from a chant to a shanty, and then to something out of a fiddler’s repertoire as ringing steel mixed with wave after wave of cheers. Every few presses he would manage to cut me. Small nicks here and there, a glance to my shoulder, a slice to my forearm. I began to bleed, enough to make a mess, but not enough to bleed out, at least, not in the next few minutes.

I saw his next thrust coming, his foot was placed half an inch too wide. It was my chance. I ducked under it. I had no room to angle my blade, but the hilt was heavy enough. I clocked him in the jaw as hard as I could.

The cheering stopped.

He stumbled for a second, a second was long enough. I whirled on him with my conquered blade. A stab at the eye, a slash at the gut. I repositioned towards the center of the arena, leaving him ground of blood and saltwater. His footing faltered as I hit him again. He couldn’t dodge, only block and parry as I drove him towards the sea.

He took a chance and sacrificed his defence for position to roll past me, rather than be pinned against a wall. I slashed at him as he passed me and scored a cut to the ribs. He stood up, blade raised, and a patch of scarlet blossomed across his chest.

I grinned at him, expecting anger, fury, rage at the fact that I, a commoner, nay a criminal, had managed to bloody a royal. The dozen men from our boat cheered.

He grinned back and came at me. We cut each other again and again. He slashed my thigh, I stabbed his shoulder. He opened my back, I opened his cheek. With each cut we bled, and with every drop of blood we slowed.

Avatanno fell to a knee, a prince in royal red. We met eyes. I was barely standing, but he was done.

I shook my head. “Stay down.” I said.

Instead, he rose and came at me, blade high. I raised the point my blade and threw up my left arm in a desperate block, I lost it. Prince Avatanno lost more, he ran himself through on my sword.

“Well fought, Rebel King” were his last words. He smiled congratulations as he fell.

Mar 17, 2009


Mar 17, 2009

Edit: Ah gently caress. Fuckin daylight savings. I guess I'm out. So do I take this down or what?

Darlin (1165 Words) Prompt.

It’s not like I’ve never blacked out before, it’s an unofficial rite of passage in Omega Kappa Phi. What was unusual was that I came out of it still drinking. I was at a bar I didn’t recognize, the shelves behind the barman were full of the good stuff, and it was backlit all in red, which helped the place feel stuffily warm.

I felt a hand touch the back of my winter coat. It belonged to a man sitting to my right. “How about another one, eh?” he said, and he raised a finger at the bartender before I could respond.

A Jack and Coke landed infront of me. I held the bartender’s attention before he could move on and asked “Where’s your bathroom?”

He didn’t stop wiping down the glass in his hand, but he gestured at the end of the bar with a turn of his head.

“Excuse me.” I said and twisted out from under the stranger’s hand.

I stumbled into the bathroom. It was clean, thank god. I locked myself in a stall and pulled out my phone. It was 3:27 AM. I checked my GPS:


The smell of bleach and purell started to sting my nose, and my gut did several backflips. I turned around and hurled into the bowl. I was in a bad spot. I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know who that guy outside was. I flushed the toilet and patted myself down. Besides my phone, my wallet was light on cash, but nothing was missing, and I had my car keys, so I’d likely driven here, wherever it was.

I was in no condition to drive now.

I took a deep breath and wiped away the sweat. I dialed my dad. “No questions asked.” he’d always said. I’d used it before. He kept his word, no questions. I could pick up my car tomorrow. Hell, I could send James if I needed to.

The ringtone rang several times before I got the robot voice “The number you have dialed is unavailable, please leave a name and number after the tone.”

I hung up before the thing could beep in my ear. I dialed him two more times, same result. I was doing ok when I dialed the fourth time, but when it cut straight to the message without a ringtone, I started to freak.

I took a deep breath. It didn’t work. I took a bunch more, my heart started to ease off the throttle after breath number thirty something. I went to leave the bathroom. I could ask the bartender to call a cab. On my way out, I saw a logo inside the door, it was a stylized fire in a fireplace, bar was apparently called the Hearth. I’d heard of it, at least, I thought I had, everything was a bit fuzzy. It was on the south side of town, I think.

I almost ran into the guy as I came out of the bathroom. He was a good foot taller than me, and I couldn’t really focus on his face without getting a good dose of nausea. “You wanna get out of here, darlin’?” he asked. He held up my coat. I didn’t remember taking it off.

“No. Give me that.” I snatched it from him, or at least I tried. He didn’t let go, and I almost fell over when I tugged at it. He laughed at me.

I gave up on the coat sat down at the bar. The drink was still there.

“C’mon, darlin’ let’s finish up our drinks and get out of here.” he nudged it towards me.

“Get the gently caress away from me.” I threw it in his face, well, I tried. He caught my wrist and the drink fell out of my hand. I winced in anticipation of shattering glass.

Instead there was a quiet scuffing sound, then a gentle tinkle. He’d managed to half catch it with his foot, letting it hit the floor and roll across the wood, rather than shatter into a million pieces.

I pulled away. He let my wrist go suddenly, and I stumbled into the bar. He bent down and picked up the glass and waved at the bartender, who was now coming towards us, summoned by the commotion.

“Sorry about that.” he said as he placed the glass on the counter. “She gets clumsy when she’s had a few.” The bartender smiled knowingly and took the glass behind the counter.

“Can you call me a cab?” I asked the bartender.

“Excuse me, miss?” he asked. I realized I might have been slurring real bad at that point.

“She’s asking if you could call us a cab.” the bastard said. He smiled with teeth and pulled out a Ben Franklin, which he placed on the bar.

“But of course.” The bartender smiled, he took the bill and turned to the phone on the wall behind him and began to dial. It was an old rotary dial, very old world chic.

“C’mon darlin’, let’s get your coat on.” He moved to drape it over me. I looked out through the doors. Snow was falling, flakes glinted in the light outside the door, and there was maybe three inches on the ground.

I ducked the coat and made for the door, reaching into my pocket as I go. “Now, Darlin’.” He grabbed my shoulder. I spun around and swung at him with my keys in hand. He let go. The bartender’s tone changed, but I couldn’t focus enough to understand the words.

I pushed the door open, ringing the little brass bell. The cold air stung at my skin. I shivered and scanned the parking lot. There were only four cars there, and there was mine, backed up against the fence. I ran towards it, my feet slushing through the snow and my teeth chattering.

The bell rang again, and I heard the bastard shout my name. I opened the door with the push button and got in. He caught up just as I mashed the lock button.

“Darlin’, c’mon! You’re making a scene!” he shouted. It was muffled by the still air of my car. “Skootch over, I’ll drive.” He tugged on the door.

“Get away from me!” I yelled.

He laughed and slammed his hand on the window. I flinched. “I’m not goin anywhere, Darlin’ I gotta get you home safe.”

It took a few tries, but I got the key in the ignition. I turned the engine over. The lights went on and the seat belt indicator started beeping angrily.

He ran infront of the car and started waving his arms wide. “C’mon now, you’re in no state to drive.” As the window defrosted, I could see him smiling, blood on his cheek. “Now get out of the car, and we can get sort this out peacefully, allright, Darlin’?”

“Don’t call me Darling.” I threw the car into gear and floored it.

Metrofreak fucked around with this message at 05:40 on Mar 13, 2017

Mar 17, 2009


The Cut of Your Jib posted:

unless you set you live in a place where daylight savings is two hours

Or I live somewhere without daylight savings so it never comes up and it always sneaks up on me. I should be aiming to get in earlier regardless, so thank you and it won't happen again.

Mar 17, 2009

I will redeem myself: In.

Mar 17, 2009

Oasis (1623 words)

Wilbur had never been a strong child. He had been born late into the school year, which had rendered him small and unfit for team athletics. It would have been his fate to never feel powerful, but Wilbur had the good fortune to live in a time when digital games exploded over the barriers between places.

The game Blightlands was not an accessible game. It was a harsh and unforgiving game for harsh and unforgiving players. There was a perfectly fine single player campaign, one would awaken before the Well Watcher, a beautiful woman who would set the player on their quest, granting them boons and pointing them at the challenges of the ruins. Players would set out and die by the thousands, but they would always awaken and rise from the waters, where the Watcher would give them encouragement, advice, and even buffs, though the communities could not quite determine her algorithm.

The Watcher’s quest was well received by the casual crowd, but there was more to the game. Wilbur liked it well enough, but he conquered the oasis within a dozen hours. He ran a second time using polearms, then knives, then blunt weapons. He learned every playstyle, conquered every enemy, unlocked every ending.

When there was no more realm left to conquer, he wandered the endless expanse of blighted, dead land that surrounded it. This was where the real challenge resided, the designated PvP zone. Step outside the oasis and you begin to die, lost in a sandstorm, and players would wander into each others pass, each compelled to fight to the death for precious vials of water, else die in the desert.

Wilbur was good. He won more than he lost, and the way the game was structured, you’d either return to the oasis to bank your spoils, or die in the wastes and respawn by the Watcher, which was actually the faster way to get back to the action.

“Arise, child of the waters.” she would say. “I’ve heard that the eastern obelisk has risen again, how curious.” Wilbur would mash the dialogue button impatiently; The Boar Knight had heard all her hints, listened to all her rumors. She had nothing for him. Wilbur wasted no time running back into the wastes, slaughtering the inexperienced players in his path.

Wilbur recorded his gameplay, he studied his losses, he owned his mistakes, and each time he lost, he became wiser, craftier, more deadly in the wastes. And when he ran into the one who smote him, and he would often claim victory in the rematch, having countered their stratagem, or honed his reflexes that extra degree.

After what felt like a thousand hours of gameplay (player metric data would measure precisely 723 hours and 42 minutes of playtime), Wilbur found himself on top of the competitive scene. Videos began to surface of people fleeing the Boar Knight. Other players began to imitate him, matching his sets. Memes were made. Some players wouldn’t even fight, they would only signal their surrender with what limited gestures Blightlands afforded them.

Wilbur was the king, and a king should be crowned. He rolled up a new character, the Boar King. He did up the face, chose his starting loadout, and prepared to climb the ranks fresh. He punched the confirm button and rubbed his hands together.

“Arise, child of the waters,” the Watcher began, “Welcome to the oasis of Rhae. This is a safe place, though I do not know for how long. You may rest here, and I will provide what help I can.”

Wilbur’s enthusiasm evaporated. He spun his character in frustrated circles. Unskippable dialogue, and she would be spitting weapon tutorials soon enough. He began to go through the motions in advance as she prattled on. It wasn’t as if he could demonstrate his competence and satisfy her, no. She’d keep talking for a good five minutes, in the meantime, he was the Boar King, he knew how to swing a drat sword. He demonstrated.

She grunted in pain and skipped to the next line of dialogue.

Wilbur tapped the button again, testing his hypothesis.

She skipped again.

Wilbur smiled and unequipped his sword, barehanded attacks did less damage, but they swung faster. He began to mash the button enthusiastically.

“Champion,-” hit.
“You mus-,” hit.
“Beware the-” hit.
“To the east-” hit.
“Below, in the-” hit.
“Please, stop!” hit.

That was new. He let her go into the next line.

“Have mercy, Champion,” she said, “I am no threat to you!”

He waited for this new dialogue tree to open up.

After a moment, she settled back into her regular idle animation and continued, “Your equipment should be adequate for the first circle, but you’ll want to seek-”

Wilbur hit her again, she screamed and fell over. There was a brilliant flash of blue light, and she was gone. In her place, just under the surface of the water, was a tiny golden vial.

Wilbur was surprised, he’d assumed she had infinite health, or was otherwise invincible. No matter, she’d respawn when he died. He collected the item, which was called the heart of the oasis. He’d never seen it before, but he had a build to finish. The wastes were waiting for the Boar King’s debut. Freed from the prison of barely disguised tutorials, he moved on to the first circle, hugging the left wall to find the mace, which would deal bonus damage to the mossy golem.

Within a few hours, he’d finished the game. He’d determined the function of the golden vial. It generated a charge of healing water every five minutes or so. A useful, but not game-breaking amount, an underwhelming secret reward.

It took a few days before he noticed any change. The Boar King was optimally built, and didn’t lose to players. Beyond that, the golden vial provided marginally more healing than the damage over time of the wastes. Wilbur came to appreciate it, with careful management, he no longer needed to return to the oasis, he could instead spend his entire playtime in the wastes. Without the attrition, he could focus on the PvP, and that allowed him to improve even faster.

Wilbur had an amazing time for over a month. The Boar King was a terror to behold, freely and unpredictably switching from greatsword to rapier, nunchuck to katar. He was a bogeyman of the wastes. Some had called him an NPC boss character. Others accused him of being a hacker.

The matchmaking algorithms of Blightlands were enigmatic, but it seemed that Wilbur had stretched them to their limits. Where before he could wander for less than a minute to find an opponent, it became minutes, then quarter hours. He didn’t mind at first, it gave him time to watch videos as he wandered, and his opponents grew ever stronger.

After a while though, the matchmaking times stretched to well over half an hour, and the quality of the matches began to decline. The Boar King demolished opponents with little resistance. A week later, wait times approached an hour, and Wilbur hadn’t been challenged in the slightest. He considered quitting.

He turned to the boards, and found a littany of complaints. The new patch had made the game too hard. New players were being turned away. Some players liked it, but the death of the oasis quest was poorly received. He hadn’t heard of it. There were dozens of posts criticizing the developers and threatening to quit playing. There were also dozens of announcements of quitting.

Wilbur tabbed back into the game and let the sands kill him.

There was no Watcher. The pool was dry and cracked. There were signs of PvP everywhere. Slain players lay all about, hands clutching empty healing vials. Many were skeltonized, a sign that their players hadn’t logged in in over a week.

A player spawned at the gate. He ran straight at the Boar King, sword drawn. Wilbur dispatched him effortlessly. The player had nothing but starting gear, and a vial with two healing charges.
Nothing happened for a while, until another fresh player spawned. Wilbur killed them too. This wasn’t fun. This wasn’t a challenge. This was the corpse of a game that he had loved.

Another spawn, a mage. Wilbur dodged the opening volley, and a button prompt appeared as he rolled over the center of the pool. He pasted the mage and investigated.

[(A) - Pour]

He pressed the button, and the Boar King pulled out the Heart of the Oasis and poured a tiny amount of water into the pool. After a minute, it refilled.

[(A) - Pour] popped up again.

He pressed it, and the tiny puddle grew another increment. Five minutes later, it was large enough that a different prompt appeared:

[(A) - Kneel]

The Boar King knelt.

[(A) -Stand]

A new player spawned at the gate. She wore the rogues starting gear. Instead of attacking him, she walked up to him, and the boar king spoke, “Arise, child of the waters. Welcome to the oasis of Rhae. This is a safe place, though I do not know for how long. You may rest here, and I will provide what help I can.”

The player dipped her vial in the pool and departed.

Wilbur got impatient waiting for another player and pressed the button to stand. No sooner had he done so, then a swordsman spawned. Instead of approaching peacefully like the rogue, he approached with sword drawn, target locked. Wilbur tried to kneel, but the prompt would not appear.

He killed the swordsman.

[(A) - Kneel]

Wilbur commanded the Boar King to kneel, a new Watcher. Another player received the water.

He quit out of the game. He was done with Blightlands.

Mar 17, 2009

Honestly, I'm surprised it took this long.


Mar 17, 2009


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