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Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

IN. Box 5, please

Radical and BADical! fucked around with this message at Apr 5, 2017 around 19:52

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Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

The Life, Times, and Comeback of Dana Han
Word Count: 1742

“Welcome, Ladies and Gentleman, to this very special two-hour edition of Echoes in the Chamber, being filmed live at the Constance A. Han Conservatory. Our guest tonight was once among the most celebrated of virtuoso vocalists. Her haunting voice became life's soundtrack for many, and lovers of music looked forward to this artist being around for a very long time, sharing her brilliance with the world. However, it was not to be.”

Dana waited just off set in the stage wings, away from the lights, the cameras, and the greedy, staring eyes of those who had come to see a spectacle made of her life. Michael's velvet baritone vibrated through her as he narrated her early career, and in the perfectly engineered acoustics of the Conservatory's main auditorium, it sounded as if his voice came from the very walls themselves. Its soothing timbre did much to ease the roiling anxiety trashing around deep inside her. Still; she could not bear to open her eyes, to accept that she was here, in this place which was the setting of so many terrifying nightmares. Her fingers wandered up to the blindfold tied tightly across her face, checking it for the hundredth time to see if it felt loose before arranging her flowing, silver locks so as to hide most of it.

His name is Michael Rhood. He is the host. You are not a little girl. You are on a show. A show about you. She isn't here. She isn't here.

“--but now she's finally decided to tell her tale and has come here, to the school built by her tormentor, to the very stage wherein she broke under the weight of her secret past and fled into obscurity. Here with us tonight after twenty years in hiding, Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome Dana Han.”

One of the wheels on her chair creaked monotonously as a stage-hand pushed her out onto that hated wooden platform, but its protests were quickly lost in the thunderous applause that swept through the concert hall. Had she really thought of the audience as greedy, staring voyeurs? Vague guilt for painting them like such villains welled within her heart even as the corners of her eyes ran freely with tears of gratitude at such an outpouring of love.

“Thank you for being here tonight, Dana.” Michael's warm, strong hand encircled her own withered fingers and gave them a gentle but reassuring squeeze.

“It was just time,” she replied, her seldom-used voice crackling a bit as she shook the rust off of it. “I am...amazed that so many people wanted to find out...what happened...”

“It should not be surprising. You were loved.” Michael leaned forward and touched her arm. “I understand if you do not wish to answer this, Dana, but why the--”

“I am afraid.”

“Of what?”

“Of this place. I am afraid that if I see it I will not be able to speak. It used to happen when I was a little girl, and if it happens now I won't be able to do what I came to do.”

“You won't be able to tell your story.”

Dana chuckled. She always did when she got the jitters before a performance. “That is only a small part of what I hope to do this evening. It would be better, however, if I started at the beginning.”
“Tell us then; where does your story begin?”

“It begins with...my mother...”



“So, you think you're better than me you little bitch?”

Dana cringed back against the wall, but knowing about the coming slap didn't stop it from hurting. Her mother once again lifted her electrolarynx up to the hole in her throat. “You think you can just come from behind me and take everything I worked for?” Her words, robotic sounding as they were, still dripped with spite, and she punctuated them with a vicious punch. Something warm trickled from the side of her mouth, and she spat a tooth into her cupped palm. She was six.

It had started with a hard pinch on the day she and her father came back from her speech therapist, a pinch hard enough to leave a bruise. Dana didn't know what she had done wrong. She thought her mother would be proud that her daughter finally found something to be good at, something they had in common. It felt like a chance to show people that she wasn't just the awkward girl with the flyaway hair that talked funny.

“She's a natural! I heard her,” her father had said. Her mother simply took a drag on her cigarette, following it with a sip from her cognac.

“Oh?” Something inside of Dana twisted when she heard how her mother sounded. “Please, Dana, tell your mother all about it!” She turned in her chair and fixed Dana with a somewhat calculating eye.

She was too young to fully grasp the situation, but even as a child of six Dana felt that her mother did not love her. She suspected it had something to do with the diagnosis that came soon after her mother became pregnant with her. It took her career, it took her voice and it almost took her but she somehow survived to give birth to a beautiful baby girl that would one day change the face of music. She never did anything overtly to harm Dana, and things were fine until the day her speech therapist invited her to sing for himself and her father.



“I'm n-n-n-n-o-o-ot sure I w-want to do th-th-this,” she remembered saying (or attempting to say).

“You were so good last week! You didn't stutter once!”

A little voice inside Dana spoke to her. She knew it wasn't a good idea, and she almost said no until her father ran his hand gently down her back and pulled her into an embrace. “Please,” is all he said, and Dana sang.




“That's wonderful, honey.” Her mother's tone sounded like how garbage smelled.

“What's even more wonderful is I recorded it. She's starting at the Conservatory next week.”

Suddenly, Dana's mother was on her feet. She rained blows down on her husband, throwing her drink at Dana's head in the process. “YOU DID THIS WITHOUT ME?” she screeched. Then, as abruptly as it started, it was over. Dana's mother spent the next week in her private apartment in the city.

Then, one day, she was back like nothing had ever happened.

Things went on as usual. Dana continued singing at her speech therapist's office and slowly learning how to make the same sounds when she spoke normally. She hoped it would be enough to stop some of the kids in her classes from saying mean things to her when she started at the Conservatory.

Then, her mother came into her room one day. This almost never happened, and Dana felt a bit out of sorts about it. Her mother seemed to be in a good mood for once, though, and all she wanted was for Dana to come to the Conservatory for a sneak peek at where she would be studying music, just the two of them.

They rode over in silence. Dana felt a sort of unspecified uneasiness as they crested a large hill and came into sight of the sprawling campus her mother had built. This was her mother's lair; she had absolute power here. Call it instinct if you will, but Dana was almost out of her mind with fear and didn't know why.

She found out when her mother attacked her. They had just come into the stage from the left wing when Dana felt something hard crack against the back of her skull.

“There's only one singer in this family, you loving mistake. You ruined my life once and now you want to do it again?” The pointed toe of her mother's pump jabbed into her ribs. Something gave inside her. “Now listen to me, girl. You do not speak a word. You do not sing a note. Not in this building.” Her mother's static-shot voice sounded like an army of angry robots as it bounced around the concert hall.

They came back the next day. And the next. And the next.

“So when it came time to attend your first day of class at the conservatory, what happened?”

“I could not speak. I could not say a word. I could not sing.” Dana wiped away a tear that had slipped out from under her blindfold before it could make a break for her chin. “There was nothing they could do. They sent me home. No one could figure what happened.”

“But when did you break free of this? When did you discover that your talents were still strong?” Michael handed her a tissue, patting her arm once again

Dana smiled, chuckling again but not out of nervousness this time. She remembered fondly the day she shut the door behind her mother and left to make her way. “Everyone has to leave home sometime. I never lost my desire to sing. That was one thing my mother could not beat out of me. I could finally do it once I was away from her.”

“We all know what happened after that,” said Michael, leaping to his feet with emotion. “The awards, the live shows, the rise to stardom.” He sighed, slumping back down into the chair once more. “Then you were gone like you never existed. Why?”

Dana looked at him in a way that would suggest she thought him stupid if he could only see her eyes. “You haven't pieced it together by now? My last concert was on this very stage; you said so yourself.”

“And you couldn't handle it?”

“No. I hid. And I kept hiding for twenty years. I never once stopped singing, though.” With that, Dana slowly pulled the blindfold away. The stage swam in front of her eyes and she squeezed them shut, but the vertigo soon left her. For the first time that night, she looked out at her audience and didn't see her mother staring back at her with rage.

“I'd like to sing a song for you tonight, if that's alright. It was one of my mother's favorites.”

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Also, full disclosure, I posted some stories here under Claven666 but I got a wacky GBS name change. I have an archives account so please add it to that I guess. Thanks!

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Sitting Here posted:

Thank you judges. I am too drunk and sleepy to make a prompt right now but I'll come up with one sometime in the AM PST

You posted this at 5:10 am. It is now 8:20 am. Eastern time zone, in case you do math as well as you post prompts. That's three whole hours. Where is it?

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

IN

Pitch: A man becomes host to a benevolent fungus who appears in his dreams and guides him into uncharted subconscious territory and a deeper understanding of his true nature.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Broken Dreams

1500 words

As he did almost every night, Kid fell into the fabric of the Dream. He soared over the towering skyscrapers of Moonlight City, watching his reflection in the burnished gold facades that clad their black onyx walls. No one drove the tangled snarl of overpasses and right-of-ways that wended around (and sometimes through) the empty buildings. They hung in the air unsupported, deserted, with the milky white of the ever-present moon reflected in their polished quartz surfaces. Not a single beckoning light shone out from the close darkness between the tomb-like monoliths.

He knew he shouldn't keep Foreman waiting, but he'd never been to Factory before so he couldn't just blink there. Besides, the mysterious city had fascinated Kid ever since the first time he laid eyes on it. He lingered, floating slowly in the enormous emptiness within those faded art deco skeletons, wandering through businesses and penthouses and apartments that hungered for purpose, built from the stuff of the Dream for a people who never were. The poignancy of this thought struck him more keenly than it should have, for he did not relish the errand that brought him here this night.

Soon, Kid passed from the shrouded spires of Moonlight City into the bright grandeur of the Suspended Span, its sturdy silver cables glistening as it swayed in the warm breeze over the murky waters of the Great Aqueduct. He longed to fly past the picturesque marinas and fishing boats of Bay Beach all the way to the shores of the Sunset Sea and the welcoming alabaster opulence of the Wavebreak Hotel. He looked out that way, and for a brief moment he could almost see the myriad hot air balloons that thronged the skies there, luminous in the orange scintilla reflected from the surface of the gentle ocean. Alas; he shook away his momentary weakness and set off for cold, bleak Factory.

Kid touched down in a drift of soft, almost feathery snow. A steel sky loomed over a sprawling tableau of smokestacks and rust. The parking lot just outside Factory's wrought iron gates was empty save for a cerulean Challenger which vibrated softly while it idled. Foreman sat atop its hood pouring two steaming mugs of aromatic coffee from his thermos. Kid simultaneously relished and dreaded his meetings with the grizzled old man teaching him the ropes of this strange world; he had never in his waking life tasted such an exquisite brew, so he relished the one cup Foreman gave him and dreaded returning to a world where it didn't exist.

Foreman's thick blue work clothes and knit skullcap had already collected a nice dusting of snow by the time Kid hunkered down next to him, but the expected gruff chastisement never came. He was allowed instead to drink his coffee in peace while the relentless snow wrapped him in a blanket of muted white. Foreman glanced at his young student and laid a callused hand on his shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

“I can't believe he's done this,” whimpered Kid.

“I know.”

“There's got to be a way to bring him back, Foreman! You know what happens to people who don't dream!”

“Look, Kid. Seeker knew the job would fall to us and yet here we are. I don't know how long he'd been planning to go over to the Nightmare but the thought of you an' me didn't stop him. That's enough for me to forget I ever knew his sorry rear end.”

“He's good, though,” said Kid. “I don't want to fight him in Oldtown or the...the...”

“If he tries something like that...well let's just say that it were me who taught 'im, not the other way around...” He trailed off ominously. “It'll take both of us, though,” he continued after a moment's thought. “Did you do what I asked?”

Kid shuddered. “Yeah. It's just where you said it would be.”

“It'll be a nasty surprise for him, but it's what he deserves. Let's go.”

* * *

One moment, master and student sat in the snow, grieving together for their fallen friend. The next moment, they found themselves driving down the rain-slicked streets of idyllic Honeywell, a woodsy little neighborhood drowsing away eternity in perpetual Summer twilight. The scent of honeysuckle and cut grass drifted in through the open windows, caught by the late-afternoon breeze. The road cut into a terraced hillside and ascended onto a street of tatty dwellings overlooking town. Bright yellow light radiated from the windows and open door of the most ramshackle house in the row, and faint music and laughter echoed down into the valley below. This was Seeker's place.

Foreman let the Challenger drift to a stop and immediately phased through the door while Kid simply tweaked the Dream and appeared next to him mid stride. His teacher smiled approval at him and clapped him on the back. Kid still had trouble controlling the Dream sometimes, but Foreman excelled at guiding him and Kid flourished. They felt confident they could end the threat their erstwhile comrade represented to the sanctity of the Dream. However, for all of Foreman's wisdom and all of Kid's natural brilliance, neither of them even came close to suspecting that Seeker hadn't been caught unawares.

* * *

“Foreman! Kid! You made it!” The breeze picked up into a more forceful gust just then, tousling Seeker's soft, curly brown hair and catching his silver triskelion necklace as he pulled them both into an embrace. “Have some beers!” he exclaimed happily.

“We can't, Seeker.” Foreman's gravelly voice came out low and solemn, barely audible. “We're here because--”

“You did remember--ah yes, there they are!” The roguish young man snatched an elaborately embossed card from Kid that he hadn't been holding before. Foreman looked quizzically at a similar one that had sprung into being in his hands. “I love you both but it wouldn't be fair to let you in without them!”

“Yeah...right.” A haze of confusion settled over Kid.

“Go on inside then!” The sounds of fun and enjoyment emanating from the dilapidated old house deepened into a feverish, guttural chanting. Cloaked figures clustered around them, pushing them towards the gaping front door, now a flat sheen of liquid black.

“So this is what you've become?” Foreman's voice, thick with disgust, instantly broke Seeker's spell. White hot rage flooded Kid and burned the cobwebs from his mind.

“You mean it's actually true?” he screamed. A flurry of fists and feet erupted from him, driving Seeker to the ground under an impossible number of merciless blows. He felt the fabric of the Dream coalescing around his intent to break Seeker, and each fist that thudded into flesh hit harder than the last.

“That's enough” said Foreman, catching Kid's arm as he made ready to shatter Seeker's eye socket. “Now help me gather him up. I can't blink three people by myself and it's a long way back to Factory.”

Seeker gurgled something as they hoisted him to his feet. “What did you say, traitor?” growled Kid.

“I said...” Seeker spat a tooth into the grass with a sardonic chuckle. “I said I can blink three people.” Then he punched a hole into the Nightmare and dragged them through.

“NOW, KID!” roared Foreman into the gibbering void. Together, they wrenched control of the Nightmare away even as the nameless horrors came to strip them of their sanity. As one, they held their terrifying destination clearly in their minds, feeling its utter finality, the weight of the blasted stones, the wretchedness of its inmates. Making it real.

Seeker lay before them, illuminated by a circle of sickly green light. Red eyed things skulked in the pitch blackness just outside. A sudden piercing shriek ripped a jagged hole in the menacing hush. Seeker jerked awake.

“Where?” he spat.

“You think you're the only one been to the Nightmare?” Foreman dragged himself over to face Seeker through the bars. “You might know a little bit but I guarantee you ain't never been here. Welcome to the Dread Prison.”

Seeker's defiant sneer dissolved into horror. “You can't do this! The doctors won't know...”

“You should have thought of that before.”

“I'm in a loving coma, Foreman!” Seeker grasped frantically for the bars, accidentally lurching towards the darkness as he did so. A cacophony of hungry chittering swelled around him; he stumbled back into the light.

There was nothing else to say, so Foreman and Kid blinked away to a balloon drifting over the waters of the Sunset Sea. Watching the waves lap at the foot of the Wavebreak Hotel, they scanned the gleaming terraces of bungalows and cafes that crawled up the sides of the twin cliffs into which the Wavebreak was sculpted, nudging each other when they saw something that looked interesting.

They met there again the next night, and the night after that. Eventually, the Nightmare faded.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Sitting Here, Mrenda, Fleta McGurn and Flesnolk:

Thank you all so much for the crits. I took something from each one and you have no idea how much I appreciate the thought you all put into them. Thank you.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Crits

Djeser: I honestly really liked this story even though I took one look at the style and was like "gently caress this". However, I forced myself to parse the craziness and I'm glad I did. The chaos inside the protag's mind is amazingly consistent, and it is easier than it looks to pick up the thread of the overarching story. My main problem with this story, as is often the case with my own writing, is that nothing actually happens. Our character suffers a psychotic break and kills herself, I think? The ending was pretty ambiguous, but I get that because you kind of set yourself up to walk a fine line between more obvious exposition and subtle order within the craziness. You couldn't just come out and say "and then she threw herself into a body of water that just happened to be nearby and drownded" because the story demands a different touch but I think the ending fell too far on the other side. Or was that whole thing supposed to be a metaphor for her giving in to the insanity and just being completely swept away by it? I can't figure it out.

Mrenda: Once again, I began reading the first couple of paragraphs and was like "hell no", mostly because there is some clumsy writing in there and a few grammatical errors. In fact, I think the whole story is kind of plagued by the same problems as the opening all throughout. However, you picked a topic that is very, very near and dear to my heart: massive wealth/opportunity inequality. I'm thinking it's basic socialism for the have-nots and ultra-libertarian for the haves? Either way, you've done a great job of describing the situation (and it is a pretty scary one) without really hitting people over the head with it. The problem is I kind of hate both sisters and their dad seems like kind of cock as well, on top of the fact that there is no real goal in the story. Basically, Rich Dad is dying, rich sister wants deliberately poor sister who is poor out of protest to see him, she doesn't really give a poo poo because...reasons that aren't included in the story really...so she doesn't see him and we close the story with a childishly bitter mental dig against him. So we have a setting, 3 completely unsympathetic characters and a description of some excuses on poor sister's part that could easily be overcome if she wasn't so hell bent on taking a principled stand out of shame. There is some blisteringly smart political commentary going on behind the scenes but it is mostly in the stuff you left unsaid, and nothing really happens anyway so it is hard to retain interest and discover that message.

Thranguy: I have to say I loving loved this story. It reminded me of the very first times I picked up one of my Dad's Asimov's or a Weird Tales back when I was a young sprout and really discovered my love of F&SF. As in Mrenda's story, the inevitable fall-out from hyper-captialism is the brush with which you seem to have painted the lives of your characters. The little touches you added here and there that fleshed out the setting were good, and I'm pretty sure I've read a lot of the Faerie-folk stories that you took inspiration from. However, I had a hard time with this particular bit of writing:

Thranguy posted:

“Synth don’t count,” said Tuesday. “So that just leaves, what, shrimp on Fridays?”

“Shrimp on birthdays,” I said.

“Poor thing,” he said. “We may make room for a bit more shellfish than once a week, but not for a whole kid. So you’ll have to pay what you owe some other way.”


First: I feel like you forgot to edit this because no one I know has a birthday every week, so I'm already a little taken out of the story because these two statements don't match up to me and I honestly don't know what "We may have shellfish more than once a week but not for a whole kid" is even supposed to mean. Second, why does Tuesday and his group get to keep the kid? I mean, I know Fey lore pretty well so I feel like I have an idea what you were going for, but people who don't know the unwritten rules of Arcadia are just not going to be able to follow this part because they're not going to know that your life is forfeit if you trespass in Arcadia without an invitation or take from the Fey or mess something of theirs up. Also, where was the conflict or goal?

Fleta McGurn: The premise of your story was fantastic, I was thinking "So, we have the classic Odd Couple situation and psychedelics are involved. This should be hilarious...I hope Fleta has done mushrooms before..." Honestly, the events should have written themselves because we've all read stories like this, cliched as they often turn out to be, so I like the fact that the straight man didn't get dosed. But then nothing really happens, funny or otherwise! Protag does drugs and realizes that their room-mate isn't such a bad guy and actually has a personality beyond being a religious teetotaler. The writing in this story is very solid, nothing really jumped out at me as being clunky or wrong and I enjoyed how it flowed but it was kind of like coming into a Lifetime Original Movie about 20 minutes from the end. Don't get me wrong; I loving love LOMs (I Know My First Name is Steven is a goddamn classic) so you should take that as a compliment but I would kinda liked to have seen more build-up between the two main characters before the eventual resolution of "drugs helped me expand my mind enough to accept that the fundy I pre-judged is a multi-faceted and kind person".

Tyrannosaurus: I loved this story as well for a lot of the same reasons I loved Thranguy's; I could easily see myself come across this story in an Asimov's. It was well written, it flowed well and I got a little squicked about the body-horror in a very pleasant sort of way. You lost me at the end, though. Is the mold benevolent? Is the mold a parasite? Why would he assist this lifeform by feeding it? What is it actually doing to his wife besides consuming her and converting her to more mold? Why is he hastening that progress? Then I reached the last little bit and I'm completely lost. Is it a metaphor for taking a long hard look at yourself? The way it's written I feel like he actually pulled himself apart. Like I said, I'm not sure what you were going for here, I just feel really drat sad about what happened prior to reaching the end. As soon as I start thinking about how confusing the situation is, however, the story loses that impact for me.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Weird, a bunch of the critiques I did didn't copy over. Sorry but I'm too lazy to recreate them.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Djeser posted:

proooooompt

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

me baby

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe


by that I meant IN and GOAL plz

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Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

The Devil Fell Down in Georgia

Word Count: 1351

The first thing Roz noticed when she regained consciousness was the uncomfortable fact that her left arm had been shattered in three places. That (alongside the fractured, dented skull) made it a bit difficult to think, but still a few vague impressions came to her; some sort of cloying chemical fumes rolling out of the dash vents, nausea and confusion, watching the ground rushing up to embrace her when she plummeted off the side of the narrow mountain road. She turned these images over and over in her head, straining to put the bigger picture together before a fresh wave of agony swept her thoughts away. Demons may be tough, callous and almost impossible to kill but nowhere is it written that they cannot feel. No matter; only the fleshbag fuckboys she preyed on let a bit of pain prevent them from achieving their goals, and Roz always got what she desired. Always.

A single kick ripped the mangled car door from its hinges and sent it careening off into the night, releasing a cloud of the acrid smoke lingering within the crumpled cockpit. Roz quickly hurled herself into fresh air before she succumbed and fell, insensate, to the ground. What the gently caress was that smell? Every time she caught even the faintest whiff of it her body went numb and her brain spat gibberish sentences out of her mouth, which is why she didn't hear the sharp crunch of thick-soled boots on gravel approaching as she struggled to stand. The rock salt ripped into her abdomen even before the roaring boom reached her ears.

“Well, well, well, what have we here? Is it little ROTHIEL?” She knew that voice.

“Donnelly...” Bluish-black ichor flecked Roz's lips with every labored breath. “Fancy...meeting you here...”

A smug smirk drifted over Donnelly's handsome, square-jawed face as he pushed back his stetson with the smoking barrel of his twelve gauge. “You got the bouquet I sent you, eh ROTHIEL?” His boots scraped the hardscrabble once more as he crouched over her, his shotgun across his shoulders. “I didn't know if you'd find it or not but I'm sooooooooo glad you did.”

Sage. That's what the smell was. The bastard had left a bundle of white sage next to the hellfire manifold, and when it went up in flames she went off the cliff.

“You killed my car, Donnelly.” Roz pushed herself up to a sitting position against the rapidly cooling hunk of hell forged steel which was once her beloved Torment 900X. “You know what I...have to do to you now. I always wanted a...clean break between us...but now I have to punish you...”

“Fat chance. I know your True Name, ROTHIEL, I commanded it from your very own lips myself. And even if you somehow get the best of me, the nearest Hell Mouth is at least a hundred miles away.” He laid a hand almost tenderly against the smooth flesh of her cheek before letting it drift down to other, more interesting parts of her earthly vessel.

“Having fun, fleshbag?”

“You know, ROTHIEL, you only have one purpose here in GOD's domain.” Donnelly laid his shotgun down beside her and began undoing his belt buckle. “That pretty little body was built for it, and you've used it to destroy family after family after family.”

“Those men were weak. I only let them do...what they wanted to do...” She managed a mocking smile. “And now here you are...you could just...finish me off, be the hero. The man who finally...took down ROZ—ROTHIEL, EATER OF MEN. Instead you're going to...grunt over my broken body...for a few minutes before you...blow your wad inside me...and then I'm going to tear...your soul from your worthless husk...”

“Keep telling yourself that, bitch.” Donnelly managed to get his jeans off over his boots. “Like I said, you'll fade from this world long before you reach the 'Mouth in Atlanta. I get to go out loving a Prince of Hell and you still die--which is like an instant all-access pass as far as Heaven is concerned--so I guess that makes me the winner.”

“There's other...ways to get...home...for one such...as me. A sacrificial dagger...forged in Hell...a pentagram...drawn in virgin blood...black candles...why don't we just...call it a night? Pick this up...some other time...”

Donnelly's face contorted in sudden rage, and his heavy-handed slap knocked the words right out of her mouth. “I loving know your True loving Name, ROTHIEL. There is no escape. You will not win. You're done. Finished. So why don't you just lay back, let it happen, and then I'll end your suffering nice and quick.” Donnelly laid himself over her and pushed himself inside, moaning in ecstasy as her heat engulfed him.

Roz let him continue for a moment, made sure he was completely engrossed in the feel of her around him before she spoke again. Already, she could feel his essence flowing into her, feeding her, strengthening her. “There's just one more little thing, Donnelly...I mean besides your dick, of course...” The ruined bones in her left arm made a faint crackling sound as they set themselves and knitted back together. “My name's not ROTHIEL, EATER OF MEN.”

“Uh—ugh?”

“You don't know my True Name. I lied.” Roz reached down between her legs and ripped Donnelly's manhood clean off his body before stuffing it into his mouth. Warm blood spurted against the wounds in her abdomen left by the rock salt, soothing the throbbing pain away while her victim's piercing shrieks ascended into a register audible only to dogs and small children. “I gave you a chance, Donnelly. I told you exactly what was going to happen. 'Why don't we just call it a night', I said.” Her voice deepened into a stentorian chorus, lent strength by the howling of countless tortured souls trapped within her.

ROZIEL, DEVOURER OF KINGS let her earthly form fall away and stood over her victim, giving him a good look at the horrors waiting for him in Hell. “What's the matter, Donnelly?” His eyes widened as they traced over the spiky, leathery black skin, the ragged filth-encrusted claws, the blazing red eyes and dagger-like teeth dripping with venomous saliva. “Don't you want to gently caress me anymore?” Donnelly let out a final blood-curdling scream. Then his heart stopped and his soul was hers.

“That could have gone worse,” growled ROZIEL to herself before she took up her disguise again. She hated this stupid body with all its fragile softness and rounded curves, but her prey salivated at the mere thought of it and that's what mattered. Still; it felt good to be terrifying again, if even for just a moment. “Well...the Hell Mouth's not getting any closer. Maybe I can get back up there. Find a main road.”

Roz turned to start climbing back up the cliff side when her eye fell on the twisted hulk of her Torment 900X. It wouldn't do to leave it here. She remembered what the fleshbags did when they came across pieces of Alastor's old Abaddon 7 out in Roswell, so she drew forth the wicked-looking hood ornament from its sheath in the Torment's engine block, releasing the bound spirits keeping its remains tethered to this world. “See you at the crossroads, good buddy,” she whispered, and green fire engulfed her most prized possession. A single, boiling tear escaped the corner of her eye, traced its way down her dusty cheek and fell on the long, serpentine blade in her hands. She watched it run down the wicked edge, moistening the ancient mottled brown blood of the sacrifices used to evoke the Torment 900X from the Ether. That's when the plan fell into place.

“This is a sacrificial dagger...forged in Hell. And I would swear on the Book of Enoch that I saw a comic book shop back in the last town.” A nasty smile spread across her perfect face. “There will be plenty to choose from...which is just as well.”

I'm still a bit hungry anyway...

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