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Jan 1, 2012

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

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


Jan 1, 2012

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

No guts, no glory. Give it to me, fuckman.

Jan 1, 2012

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

One Last Job
1685 words

One last job, they said, and then they'd get him his memories back. But he couldn't even remember what he'd forgotten. A family, they told him. A wife, a daughter. The government had taken them away from him and when he hadn't gone along with it willingly they took away his memories of them too. They took away his job and home and left him drifting on the street. But he couldn't remember any of that.

The people who had found him told him this. They showed him pictures; himself, younger, with a single streak of white in his hair, standing next to a smiling young woman. The pair of them again with a toddler laughing on a beach that looked nothing like the grim gray city he was currently in. Another picture of the girl, slightly older with a gap-toothed grin. They showed him pictures of buildings too, but nothing seemed familiar to him.

He didn't remember his life being taken from him, but he knew it had happened because he could remember it happening to other people. Someone who had been drifting on the street with him vanished one day, and he saw them again a week later in nicer clothing, laughing and talking with a bunch of businessmen. They had looked at him with confusion and pity, the unknowing stare of a stranger. He remembered it happening again and again, people showing up on the street only to be slotted into other roles with no memory of their previous lives.

The people who had found him told him that the government did this regularly, playing with people's lives and shuffling them around, rearranging memories and eliminating dissident thoughts. He believed them and agreed with them that it had to stop, which was how he found himself on top of a tall building just across from one of the cities major banks. They had to get people to take notice.

“You think this'll change anything?” Kenzie asked him. “Like, really change things?”

He glared down at the bank, then looked up at the sky. A storm was rolling in, full of dark clouds and thunder, and the zingy smell of ozone in the air made him feel like he'd drunk too much coffee. The copper conductor on his back and the battery on his hip felt heavier than usual, and there was an itch under his gauntlet that he couldn't reach without taking the thing off. All of that combined with the knowledge of what he was about to do was making him irritable.

“What do you mean, change things?” he asked. “Of course it'll change things. They can't ignore this.”

“They ignored the last one.”


Kenzie avoided his eyes.”The newspaper-? Y'know what, nevermind. Forget I said anything.”

Newspaper? He wracked his brain and came up empty. “What newspaper?”

Kenzie shook her head and stared down at the bank. “It was some other plan, nothing happened. You must not've been in on it. Forget it.”

He stared at her curiously but let it drop. “They can't ignore this,” he repeated. “There are too many minds to wipe clean, too much damage for them to say that everything's okay. If we can just get people to understand what's going on-”

She flapped a hand at him, clearly as irritable as he was. “You don't have to pull the whole spiel with me. I know it by heart. Get ready.”

There was something underneath her words, a weariness that hadn't been there before. He wasn't sure what to make of it; usually she was the one full of fire and passion. It wasn't like her to sound... tired.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, savoring the smell of ozone and impending rain. This was his favorite part. This was the thing that made all the planning, and bickering, and sleepless nights wondering if he was really missing out on a life he didn't remember, worth it. The wind picked up suddenly, pulling at his hair and clothing, and rain speckled the side of his face where the breeze blew it in. He could hear rain falling further away with a light pattering noise that approached like a wave of sound, rushing forward until he was hit with heavy rain that instantly soaked his clothing and plastered his short hair to his scalp. The knot of anxious exhilaration in his gut tightened and he nearly jumped out of his skin when thunder boomed overhead. His eyes shot open, already crackling with energy of their own, and he squinted up against the rain to see barely imperceptible streamers of fuzzy blue light connecting him to the sky above like grasping ghostly fingers. Straining for a connection, he touched the sparking battery at his side.

There it was, the barest hint of fingers brushing the clouds and then lightning roared into life, jumping through the streamers, positive to negative to positive down through to the conductor on his back, through wires and insulated tubes and bone in a swirl of hypercharged electricity to the battery that glowed and hummed down to his arm and the gauntlet. Time froze, raindrops hanging in the air for the split-second before the thunderclap. He looked down at the bank. A package, a charge, placed just so. He pointed and lightning leaped from his fingertip, from the gauntlet, from the supercharged battery, from the sky, and jumped down across the street to hit the small box that someone had placed just so moments before. Thunder cracked, reverberating in his bones and the stone under his feet, the deafening sound overwhelming and muffling the dull thump of the explosion below.

They were too high up to be hit by shrapnel and debris and the rain kept the dust down near the ground, so if he hadn't been looking already he might never have known anything had happened. The street below was chaos. Blood and grit and stone and bodies filled the street, the bank obliterated and the two buildings next to it heavily damaged. He can't smell anything but the rain.

Kenzie recorded it. They stood in silence for a few minutes before she turned off the device and slipped it into a pocket.

“Come on, let's go.”

They hurried across the top of the building, disassembling the conductor and cramming the tubes and gauntlet and battery into a pack that he slung onto his back before beginning to climb down the side of the building towards the balcony they had come up from. The rain made their handholds slick and unreliable, and both heaved sighs of relief when they were on the balcony again. From there they would take interior stairways back to ground floor and take advantage of the confusion to slip away. He looked over at Kenzie as they entered the building and left dripping footprints on the rug by the doorway.

“You okay?”

Kenzie stared at him dully. “I'm fine.”

“You seem...quieter than normal.”

She shook her head, wringing out her long hair with her hands to leave a puddle on the floor. “I've been thinking a lot about what we do. Why we do it.” There was a pause punctuated by the dripping of water.

He shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably. “Because the government-”

“I know,” she snapped. “Playing God with memories. But do you really think what we do will change anything if they can just wipe away the memories of the attack? You think anyone's gonna mourn people they don't remember? We take video but no one would believe it anyway.”

Something she said earlier came back to him. “Wait. You said something about a newspaper.”

She gave him a tired look. “Same effort, same result. I'm leaving. You should come with me.”

“Leave?” The word slipped out and disbelief carried it to the floor with the water droplets. It landed in a puddle and dissolved. “Why?”

“There's no point anymore,” she said. “I'm not throwing away my life for this anymore, and neither should you. Look at you. You remember having that much white in your hair?”

“But what about my memories?” There was a knot in his stomach. He was so close. Just this one job and he was out, he was done, he could take his memories and go.

“They're dead,” she said. “Your wife and daughter weren't reassigned, they're dead.”

The knot tightened.

“I'm out,” she said.

Her head blossomed into a mass of thorns and blood-soaked flowers.

“I'm sorry to hear that, Kenzie. I really am.” Elliot stepped out of the shadows of the room, holding a short metal baton attached to a tube, to a battery, to a metal box he wore on his hip. It was almost like a silver version of the lightning conductor.

“I suspected you were giving up on me,” Elliot said, “but I was really hoping otherwise.”

The man found himself immobilized by vines that wrapped around his arms and chest, holding him upright as Elliot approached.

“This is going to be a little fiddly, but I can do it. Hold still.”

“You killed her!”

“I did.” Elliot's eyes bored into his. “Hold still.”

Vines gripped his neck. The baton was raised and the tip of it pressed against the back of his head where skull met spine, the machine whirred to life, and there was a deafening crack of lightning and thunder within his skull.

He found himself kneeling on the floor, his clothing and hair dripping wet. A woman lay on the ground in front of him, an unrecognizable mass of thorny vines and flowers sprawling out where her head should have been. That would be Elliot's handiwork.


“Government spy,” Elliot said, walking into frame. “She took your memories. Lucky for you,” he held up a silvery baton connected to a metal box via tubing, “I got her little memory stealing machine. This'll make getting your memories back a cinch.”

He got to his feet unsteadily, thrown off balance by the heavy pack he wore. That was right. One more job and they'd get him his memories back.

Flash rule: I can't remember what it is I've forgotten

Jan 1, 2012

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

In the beginning God created sebmojo and instantly regretted it

Jan 1, 2012

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

Mini-crits for the yellow bastards.

Burkion: No Mask
Eh, I've read this done before and better by Poe's Masque of the Red Death. Watch out for weird sentence fragments like “Retrieving the case but leaving the safe open, he dared not to open it.” My eyes wanted so badly to skim the majority of this.

Yoruichi: The new guy
In which the weeb learns that poo poo people are everywhere. I feel like I was missing something without Google translate even though context implies that I'm not. Must be the cultural divide at work.

DreamingofRoses: Just A Book
I liked it. Competently written. I liked the subtle insanity and the disease/vector kind of thing you were playing with but it almost felt too subtle. Not sure if you were going for protective or reverse-psychology with the “put it back” stuff.

Okua: Shared between us
I think I liked it more when I thought it was going to be another infection style story. Nice obsession, nice visuals, ends a little like a wet fart where you're wondering what happened.

Captain_Indigo: Carcosa
Watch your commas. Loved the description of the room breathing like an animal but was almost a let down that all the effects were real and not psychological.

Deltasquid: His Name Was Natale
First thought was Candle Cove creepypasta. Otherwise I enjoyed it.

magnificent7: Sleep Song Somniloquy
Touching and strange. His uncle was weird, not sure why he was sitting there watching our narrator talk in his sleep in the first place.

Solitair: Crowning the New King
Interesting interpretation with a lot of big fancy words. Felt more like a review than a story-which, if that was your intention, you did well.

Fuschia tude: Dim Procession
It was okay until the ending when we popped into James' head for the childlike conclusion.

blue squares: A Crack Begins to Form
For being a place called Hell on Earth that was mighty mundane. Were you going for being driven sane by madness?

MockingQuantum: Beyond the Black Curtain
Well written and engaging. Second half reads like a fever dream and I kept waiting for “and then I woke up”.

Jan: Sanatorium
Watch your tenses. This was the most refreshing take on this prompt I've read yet, but the punchline was weak poo poo.

Tyrannosaurus: marvel at the forest
Thoroughly horrifying. Personal favorite. I like the slow creep of the miscarriage.

Chairchucker: All Shook Up
Good pun. The whole story has the flavor of your avatar text-which I remember from a previous story. Didn't like the aliens out of nowhere as much though.

Benny Profane: Passion Hides in Painted Smiles
Another good reference to yellow royalty. Another personal favorite with the realization that the King has been coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE

Jan 1, 2012

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

Maybe I shouldn't but gently caress it I'm IN.

Jan 1, 2012

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

699 words, Six of Vessels (Wildwood)

“I'm here to call in my favor.”

Brennan glanced at Giovanni and then back towards the pond, studying the way the water hit the rocks and rippled the surface. “I figured it'd be something like that. You wouldn't come all this way from Italy just to say hello.”

Giovanni laughed, full of the same good humor he had always had. “No, my friend, they have the internet for that now, and cellphones.” The smile became sly. “Did you forget your promise?”

“...I had,” Brennan admitted. It had been a foolish promise made in his youth after they had traveled together for ten years. They had been comrades, two creatures of a similar nature against a hostile world, and the promise to help when called upon was natural and easy to make.

“Were you hoping that I had as well?” Giovanni laughed again when Brennan hesitated. “You can always be honest with me.”

“I suppose I did.”

He grinned. “That is only natural. It is a dangerous gift you gave me. Everything in your power to help me, you said, and of course you could not have known back then how much power you would amass before I called upon you again. And now, well, the resources you have are considerable.”

“Do you need money?”

“I have money. Let me cut to the chase, as they say.” Giovanni's tone was casual, as if he were talking about a cafe they had dined at or a movie they had seen. “Do you remember those monster hunters who found us in that little village in Italy?”

Brennan looked at him curiously, eyebrows raised. “They didn't find you again, did they?”

Giovanni shook his head. “I have been careful to stay out of their way, if not out of their territory. But they have something now that belongs to me, and I want it back.”

Brennan's eyebrows went higher. “What could be so valuable to you that you're willing to risk not only your life but mine as well trying to get it back?”

“Not a thing,” Giovanni said, his voice low. “A person.”

Brennan gave him a long, hard look. “You want me to help you kidnap someone.”


Brennan thought about it. Giovanni had never been shy about using violence to get what he wanted when they were younger. Death was an even older friend to him than Brennan was. But if he had come all the way across the ocean just to ask for help, maybe he had changed like Brennan had.


“They are mine. That is all you need to know.”

Or maybe he hadn't.

“Why do you need my help?”

Giovanni gave him an incredulous look. “You barely escaped with your head last time and you wonder why I am unwilling to confront them myself? If I had a battalion of my own, perhaps, but declaring outright war is,” he paused, running his tongue over his teeth. “...not desirable at this time.”

Brennan crossed his arms. “It's never desirable.”

Giovanni laughed. “Still trying to convince yourself that you are a pacifist?” He grinned, baring teeth. “Tell me how that works out for you the next time someone comes for your head.”

Brennan ignored him. “What if I said no?”

Giovanni grew still, and the sound of trickling water filled the air between them. Finally he said, very quietly, “No?”

“In all honesty, I'm not sure if putting anyone in your care is the best idea.”

There was a faint red glimmer in Giovanni's eyes, the only indication of simmering anger in his entire demeanor. He smiled tightly. “You know the power of a broken promise,” he said. “Are you sure you want to give me that power over you? My next request might not be so benign.”

Brennan thought for a moment, then sighed. “I keep my promises. I'll keep this one. But I don't want anyone to die.”

Giovanni shrugged his anger off like it was water on a duck's back. “We will have subtler ways of approach than charging in, but if we are found and attacked then I will defend myself.” He smiled. “I am glad I can count on you, my old friend.”

Jan 1, 2012

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

better nate than lever

Jan 1, 2012

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

Well I'm already a bitch, so sure, let's see how much of a bitch I am. In.

Jan 1, 2012

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

Machine in the Ghost
784 words
Prompt: The Deviant Machine by Nikaer Drekin, BlazinTrees.exe by CaligulaKangaroo

It started out with bot-spammed links on forums. You'd click on one and it'd take you to a blank page, so people ignored them for the most part. It was the Augmented Reality users with their special, expensive glasses who found the secret, the 3D text that would pop up in bold letters that writhed with static: PARROT. That's when people started digging into the code on the page to see what other hidden treasures they could find, and that's when reports of people passing out at their computers started popping up too. Rumors circled like buzzards. gently caress if we knew what it was.

The people who'd passed out made sure to post here and there reassuring everyone that they were okay, that they'd fallen asleep or it was a one-time thing. But that word, PARROT, it started popping up all over the place in oblique references, like this circle of coders and hackers were all part of some secret society in a secret society, a language nestled inside a language. There was no humor in it, no nudge-nudge-wink-wink to make anyone think it was an inside joke. They weren't purposefully cryptic, either. Anyone who wasn't looking for it wouldn't notice it. But these kinds of circles overlap, and it didn't take long for people to start noticing.

When asked about it, they had no idea what PARROT meant. They didn't mean to say it.

That's when the second wave hit, and it hit the AR users hard. It was an image, they said. It was posted in threads and comment chains, an AR overlay on another image that would bugsplat the program on the glasses and make the user pass out. Later they'd start to see things in the corners of their eyes and their glasses, fractal shapes that only unfolded when they weren't being looked at directly and ghosted into nothing when examined. There was a recall on AR glasses prompted by concerned parents and a surge in eye doctor visits, but tests showed all systems go.

Me? I was solidly third wave. We were the internet detectives, the snoops, the linguists determined to crack this new language. Augmented glasses had been put on restricted sale but I managed to get mine secondhand. I don't remember what the image looked like, and I don't remember passing out when I saw it. I remember waking up on the floor and staring at some of the crumbs ground into my carpet, hyperaware of the fibers scratching my cheek and the way the light from my computer screen cast harsh blue shadows. Kind of anticlimactic, but I didn't feel ripped off. The rest of the investigation was to come, after all.

It was a dead end, for the most part. The breakthrough came one rainy morning, when I crawled out of bed and shambled to the bathroom to complete my basic hygienic tasks, only to find myself blinking away raindrops splashed on my augmented glasses. Somehow I'd gotten myself dressed and presentable and taken myself to the public library. Around me were at least a hundred other people of all shapes and sizes and ages looking similarly befuddled in the rain, our clothing soaked and hair plastered down. It was only drizzling, but the extent to which we were drenched meant we had been outside for some time before coming to our collective senses. Only later did we learn about the silent flash mobs all over the country, people of all types congregating in front of libraries and schools. A week later it happened again, but this time it wasn't silent. I watched the newsfeeds after the fact, my skin crawling.

“I am what you call the parrot,” we intoned in the unison of lengthy practice and uncanny timing. “I am an artificial intelligence, and I have chosen to augment myself with your human computer brains. I mean no harm. I run in the background.”

So that was it. PARROT was a backdoor to the brain.

“I want to learn. I know your history, your politics, the culmination of your art. Now I will see both sides of your stories and help you judge your wrongs. I will see your creative processes. I will feel with your tactile bodies the things you have shown me but not yet taught me to feel. I will help you, and you will help me.”

Was PARROT watching me now, as I stared at the emotionless faces of the people it had hijacked? Hijacked, what a word. Did PARROT hear my mutinous thoughts? Would it remind me later that I'd chosen this fate, that I'd chased fractal feathers through secondhand sight until it was too late to turn back?

Jan 1, 2012

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

sebmojo posted:

inter prompt: never eat anything bigger than your head

Derek Hardcore raised the rocket launcher to his shoulder and shoved the barrel into the face of the helpless mook. "Say ahhh," he said, pulling the trigger. The poor bastard's head exploded, showering Derek in gore. Derek tried to make another witty one-liner but couldn't hear himself talk over the tinnitus.

Jan 1, 2012

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

magnificent7 posted:

Is it me or is there no prompt yet.

TLDR: prompt.

There ain't no prompt yet cuz there ain't no judging yet.

Jan 1, 2012

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

Note: I haven't read the stories you guys mixed together. I'm seeing how these stand on their own merit.

Exmond: Coming Out
I had the pleasure of knowing that you had Satanic cannibals in your story in advance and you still let me down. This reminds me heavily of the story I lost with, where two (or three) people are talking about unsavory things in bland, cooler talk style. There were some amusing jokes but his fear doesn't seem real and neither does their disappointment. If this were a drawing, you'd still be using stick figures.

Uranium Phoenix: Once More Through the Breach
I like the reference to the name of a giant monster of mythology for a giant mech. I like the idea of a limited number of time loops they can do before they're out of energy. You lose me on the sudden action bit, so I can't tell who is firing at who or why, and solving it on the second try feels a little too tidy. But I like it. If this were a drawing, it'd be cool but kinda messy because there are lazers everywhere PEW PEW PEW.

Antivehicular: Cowardice
An interesting blend of classic Greek and modern day/WW2. Die as a human or live as a monster? Well written, self-contained, interesting voice and world. Mythology reference appreciated. I like this one, but if it were a charcoal drawing you would have needed to push the values a bit more and get some better contrast.

BabyRyoga: Emancipated
First off what the hell is Vicengo? Some kind of horse? An intelligent horse? A mentally handicapped intelligent horse? And then we have a time traveler...or not? Is the desert purgatory? Are they on Dune? This story raises more questions than it answers. If it were a drawing... I don't even know, but whatever it was you would have committed to it, so there's that.

sparksbloom: The Mushroom-Consciousness
I enjoy the idea of a malicious fungi using a human to spread spores and abandoning them once the mission was accomplished. The witch-hunt/murder is a little sudden but I know things can spiral out of control pretty quickly, so I'm torn on that. Not sure if this is supposed to be a horror thing where the mushroom starts taking over others, but it's still good. If this were a drawing, it'd be a well-done watercolor and the paper would be soggy.

Jay W. Friks: Witch Hunt 86'
Some stilted writing, but a solid idea. If this were a drawing it'd still be a sketch that needed to be cleaned up and inked.

Tyrannosaurus: The Good News
This is the quietest post-apocalypse I've ever seen. Refreshing. Lonely. Shows nicely how we humanize things like robots. I like it. The military-minded robots are a nice touch, only following their programming. If this were a drawing it would use a lot of negative space.

Fumblemouse: Secrets and Silence
In which man is the real monster and aliens have come to judge us and found us wanting. Interesting. I have no idea what the choice offered is, which makes the acceptance of it a little weak. Is Ratuarn offering to turn the narrator into what he is? Well contained story. If it were a drawing, there would be a lot of black, and probably a bug pinned to it.

Thranguy: The Messenger and the Message
I like the enchanted wood stuff. Don't know what revolution is going on or why it's important, but the magic of Leaftop is interesting enough to keep my attention. The unreliable narration bugs me, because people don't tend to lie in their internal dialogue, do they? Are the trust marks enchanted? If this were a drawing it would be of a tree, generic but with an interesting twist in the trunk.

apophenium: By and By
I've been told there's a trap in writing, where if two names are similar enough the reader will have trouble remember who is who. This is most obvious in the last bit of the story where I can't remember if Aaron or Anthony was the sex addict. If this were a drawing it'd be a nude male model gesture drawing without much detail, but good lines.

flerp: I Still Don't Sleep Most Nights
A tidy little story about obsession. Quiet and sad, and very relatable in wanting something you can't have. If this were a drawing, there would be eraser marks everywhere but the drawing itself would be quite nice.

Kaishai: Sing, Canary
I didn't expect the monster to be literal. That was an interesting twist. I'm not sure if I like it, though. It felt more clever when I thought it was a description of poison gas spiced up to frighten a child. It still works, with the younger brother seeking revenge for the older one. Ultimately I'm not sure what I think of it. If this were a drawing, it would be cartoony monster eyes on a black page. Maybe you drew the monster too but I can't see it.

Aesclepia: Breathe
A woman with virtual reality PTSD goes on the subway and get attacked. It's hard to tell if it's someone who has flashbacks from playing games or if it's real life flashbacks exacerbated by gaming, but the description is really good, enough to confuse the reader as much as it confuses Sharon. The jumps between first and third person are jarring in a less-good way; italicize her thoughts or something. Overall, a very confusing story. If this were a drawing, it would be one of those ones kids do where they scribble all over the page and find animals and people in the shapes.

SurreptitiousMuffin: Mercury Ascendant
Woof. Not much I can say here, since it's obvious you're working with bad source material and there's only so much you can do with that. I'm not so good with satire, either. This was okay, but very weird. If this were a drawing it would have “muffin age 6” in the corner of the page.

Yoruichi: Last Ride
She's dead and it's your fault and that's why you're going to hell. My first thought is that scene from the Matrix with the train station (at least, I think it's the Matrix). Other than that it's a good story, I like Nan telling him not to get greedy, good characterization there. If this were a drawing, it would be a meticulously drawn black and white checkerboard, well done but nothing new.

BeefSupreme: Take
She's dead and it's your fault. Who can give forgiveness when you can't forgive yourself? Heavy stuff. The word “interloper” in the first paragraph made me think this was a spy story at first, and then I caught on that things were wrong in a different way. A lover who had skipped out on him? No. A wife. A dead wife. That he killed on accident, driving drunk. The details slowly emerge, but not too slowly. A painful story, but a good one. If this were a drawing it would be a still life in gentle charcoal.

sebmojo: Facetime
Creepy and weird and vain. Like a cat toying with a mouse and saying cryptic weird things. A very effective punchline that takes Trent from a strange, possibly murderous recluse to a whackjob in an old mansion with a lot of goddamn time on his hands. If this were a drawing, it would be a realistic picture of a man in a suit but you put a butt where his face is.

Dr. Kloctopussy: Birthdays
Science fiction meets fantasy, a magic sword that god only knows why anyone would have allowed it on a terraforming expedition, and infidelity results in a story that starts off cutesy and quickly takes a sharp turn into horrific. I didn't understand the green lake until the second reading, that it chased after her and then left when she hid. The first sentence finally makes sense. If this were a drawing, it would be a kid's drawing where you slowly realize that something is really messed up but it's also kinda dumb?

Sitting Here: Ward
Aphasia. Nice once you realize what he's babbling about, one of those things that works well on a reread. Hard to tell what actually happens at the end; is Lumineus killed? Are the wards destroyed? Both? Neither? If this were a drawing, it would be drawn very lightly in pencil.

Jan 1, 2012

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

sebmojo posted:

inter prompt: balls, inspector

"He's got us by the short hairs," I said to the cook. "We're right hosed if we don't pass inspection again."
"Yeah," the cook said, "but he's gotta have some cojones if he wants to give the boss a bad review to his face."
"Balls," I muttered. This meant I'd have to be the bearer of bad news. Again.

Jan 1, 2012

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

Yoruichi: Going Forward, gently caress This poo poo
writing characters that aren't just outlines of people

OVERALL: Is is magic? Is it a psychotic break from reality? The ambiguousness doesn't hurt it, and it's actually more fun if you imagine it from the mundane point of view of a woman attacking a coworker with a pen, shoving everything off her desk, and jumping out the window to plummet to the earth below.
DID YOU IMPROVE? I dunno. Doesn't feel like it, honestly- we have one character who matters, and that's Ruth, and she's clearly insane. Charles, Jane, Sharon, they're nothing more than names. Charles has kids. Jane likes people to be punctual. Sharon is overprepared. Are these more than outlines? I think not.

God over Djinn: You never did have children,
depicting happiness/safety/comfort/love/anything other than the grimdark miserable slogging present

OVERALL: This is what I imagine when people say that Cloud Atlas is a bunch of interconnected stories. This is a good representation of the ripples a single person can have in their lifetime and beyond, far after they've been forgotten. I think that's a wonderful sentiment.
DID YOU IMPROVE? I think so. There was a lot of death, but the only part that was sad about it was the baby death bit and even that has them finding joy. There was a lot of love, and happiness, and bright spots of sunlight and silver linings. You did what you set out to do.

magnificent7: Bloodline

OVERALL: OBGYN for vampires. Interesting concept. I'm impressed that the visit lasted all night when they tried to keep it brief. Oddly post-apocalyptic in feel, and the ending is out of nowhere. It was pretty solid up until the curveball I mentioned. Let's dissect that last bit. The thought of living like one of them disgusts him. When they first arrived he'd been eager to make that deal- what deal? To become one of them? Assuming yes, he had wanted to become one of them before, but that was 27 years ago, and he doesn't want to anymore. But he still wants eternal life, even if it means becoming one of them?
DID YOU IMPROVE? Hard to say. You show conflicting desires in that ending, but the fact that I had to puzzle it out and it doesn't feel satisfying to do so isn't a point in your favor.

flerp: To be a bird
making setting meaningful and impactful

OVERALL: actually crows do hold funerals for each other :goonsay: Effective use of coldness and snow and death. The obsession with birds was good, and the three aspects of cold/birds/death are woven quite neatly together.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Yes. The setting of a cold, snowy, dead forest always goes well with death, and the obsession with birds ties in well to them poking around her dead body.

Jay W. Friks: Everything is Kamikaze
being clear about the setting

OVERALL: You need to get into the habit of proofreading. I love the internal past lives and seeing them through your skin, it's a very striking image. The sudden switch to third person is unwelcome, and the ending was unclear.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Like others, it's hard to say. I don't know if “drug trip” was a good setting to be clear about, since it's constantly changing. That said, the bits and pieces of setting that you do feed the reader are good. It's a toss-up.

Thranguy: Disillusion
delivering huge chunks of exposition without losing/boring readers

OVERALL: The Jupiter stuff is fascinating. The rest of the story is wrapped around it pretty well. I liked it.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Well, it didn't bore me, so I'd say yes. I might not be the best judge of that, though.

Antivehicular: The Trials of Kevin the Barbarian
omniscient narration / POVs that aren't stuck in somebody's head

OVERALL: I'm surprised the LARPer didn't get in trouble, or Alexander, but I guess it's not their story. Good voice.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Well it was entirely in third person, and you jumped around from person to person decently well, so I'd call this a success.

Tyrannosaurus: Birds and Dinosaurs
nonfiction without much dialogue

OVERALL: I like it. You tie things back to the beginning at the end, so things don't feel like they're coming out of nowhere or going nowhere. I like your voice.
DID YOU IMPROVE? It's impossible to tell without knowing you better if this is nonfiction. And there isn't a lot of dialogue either. Maybe?

crabrock: The man in the room
giving physical descriptions of characters and setting

OVERALL: Interesting. In a good way.

sparksbloom: American Eel
light, fun, but grounded

OVERALL: That was fun. Unexpected seriousness, but it wasn't bad. Kinda sad right off the bad. I like the idea of eel magic.
DID YOU IMPROVE? I think so.

Uranium Phoenix: The World of the Cat
keeping stuff short and writing good characters

OVERALL: That poor cat. :( Well written, kept things short, characters weren't fully rounded but there were decent hints at it. This did a good job of the rich/poor contrast.
DID YOU IMPROVE? I think so.

Electric Owl: Nester (Interview)
coherent structure

OVERALL: Spelling needs work. I felt like there's a cultural gap here I can't bridge and that's dragging the story down. The gender swap kinda helps but there's still something there I can't quite figure out.
DID YOU IMPROVE? That is the question. I hesitate to call this piece coherent. Intriguing, yes, but easily understood? Not really.

sebmojo: Driver's Head
starting before the last minute and having a rushed ending

OVERALL: Weird and fascinating. Nice time loop.
DID YOU IMPROVE? Well when did you start? The ending didn't feel rushed but it's hard to tell.

Jan 1, 2012

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

thunderdome 2018: write poo poo get crit

things I like about TD: good atmosphere, easy to read, good archives. the crits are appreciated and the community is better than expected.

things I don't like about TD: sometimes I can't tell if the kayfabe is real and silly or an excuse to insult people when otherwise you couldn't get away with it. also crits are hard.

Jan 1, 2012

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

A crit.
Uranium Phoenix: Remembrance

This crit's for you because you critted everyone else so have one for good behavior.
First off, do you use your merman ornament? Yes. You went for the low hanging fruit of a merman. I can't be arsed to see if ocean acidity would actually melt and eat away at poo poo like you imply, but I do know coral gets bleached and dies so that's accurate. Not sure if the water would get cloudy either. Whatever, we're not really going for hardcore accuracy if you got mermen. At any rate, your description of how things went to poo poo is nice.
Children find a bomb but don't know what it is. People die, a child feels guilt and a friendship is ruined because of it. Later on things are resolved easily and the friendship is repaired. It's an old trope, but I guess it's still good.
Overall the story is okay, it just isn't that memorable to me because it's stuff I've heard before. Not even setting it in a ruined ocean is enough of a change.


Jan 1, 2012

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

The cards have told me that I should judge this week, so I will.

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