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Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


in

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Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?




:siren: THUNDERCRITS 233: A DISSENTING OPINION :siren:

I’ll admit that I’m kind of an odd duck. I’ve always held the belief that people come to Thunderdome to learn how to write something that will get them published, not to write the “least worst thunderdome entry.” So when I look at a week about epistolaries and frame stories and half the entries have no drat stories in them, and the other half sounds like you actually wrote a lovely first person story and then crammed it inbetween a “Dear Fuckface,” and “Kind regards”, and then my cojudges pat each other on the back about how good this week was because nobody outright shat themselves, I don’t know but sometimes I really wish you could slap people through the internet.

Right, so here’s what I expected:
“I remember back when we ran out of coconuts at the office, but I had to make some pina coladas for my rear end in a top hat boss. The stores were all empty, so I stole a plane and flew to the Bahamas. Turns out they had no coconuts either, because there was a hurricane there at the time. Well anyway, they finally pulled me out of the rubble after I drank my own urine and gnawed on a dead rat for three days. When I came back I told my boss that there were no goddamn coconuts, and he was like, okay, whiskey sour will be fine. What I’m saying is: it’s important to stand your ground sometimes. Bosses are human too. I hope you have a great first day at work, and greetings from supermax prison.”

What you wrote:
“Hi! I’m sorry for the bad thing that happened. Remember when we were kids? When were always trying to out-swing each other on the swingsets? Boy those sure were the days, huh. Okay my buddy is telling me to stop writing. “Let’s go to the bar and have some beers,” he said, sliding into his jacket as he spoke. Yeah that’s right I have friends now. Ha ha! Bye.

P.S. I still love you”

I guess the most telling thing about this week is that I ended up skimming through most of the entries on first read and I still didn’t miss much, because nobody ever had a goal or a relatable cause, it was all just boring exposition and childhood memories and descriptions of how green the grass is. Oh but the words were ever so mildly pretty, lol yeah uh huh sure buddy


Peanut Milk – Fleta Mcgurn
“I saw you on the peanut milk yesterday.” That’s the first sentence I get to read. That. “I saw you on the peanut milk.” What the gently caress does that even mean. How do you see someone on a liquid. Was there just a sea of milk and they walked across it like some kind of milky jesus, like wtf like what. what is this. This is the first impression your story makes. The language of a five-year old: “I saw you on the peanut milk.” Nice.

The other judges had this in their high bracket. I don’t know how that happened, maybe they were the ones who were high *high fives self*. You were my loss candidate. You tried a lot and nothing worked. I guess I’ll start by comparing your letter to a soggy PBJ sandwich, and the peanut butter half is the one where you write a first person story of a guy having lunch at the office, and the jelly half is where you transition into actual epistolary form so your protagonist can write creepy poo poo to his high-school crush about how they totally made eye contact that one time, and not only that, but her eyes were beautiful, oh how he remembers, how he longs for that moment~~~

The flashback story kinda blows. It’s a bunch of loosely related vignettes, which of course can make up a story, but what I’m saying is it’s boring, there’s no arc to it, no nothing. Your protagonist isn’t doing anything much and nothing much happens other than they meet in the hallway and then they “hang out and talk [scene missing]” and zzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzz oh excuse me I escaped into the blissful void of dreamless sleep for a second. It doesn’t even feel important, because key events, like when he discovers that she’s just not that into him, take up relatively little space compared to what I guess is supposed to be the secret star of the story, the boss and his funny locker room quips.

What you could have done was to tell me the story of how the guy fell in love and what he did to get the girl, and what you definitely should have done was to give me a good reason for why he thought it was appropriate to tell that loving story in the first place, because seeing someone’s picture and taking that as an opportunity to finally come clean about how you were totally into them that one time and you still remember their laugh and what not, it’s weird as gently caress and now I’m picturing an unwashed nerd sitting in front of his computer, leaning into the facebook page on his screen, circular fog fading in and out on top of an inbox symbol that will never, ever change. “Why won’t she reply,” he’ll ask. Because your letter is so awkward that every new word I read splits off another instance of the multiverse where I die of fremdschämen.

“Your bottle went in the trash, and I lit a cigarette.” how did you end your letter on this, like did you just copy random words from above and rearrange them until they made a sentence i mean what the unsugared peanut-milky hell is this who writes a letter like that OH MY GOD

Consider this an honorary DM.


Subject: I love you I’m sorry – N. Senada
Donald Trump WON THE ELECTION THIS IS A HUGE TRAUMA :’(((( A NATIONAL SHAME THAT I HAVE TO PROCESS BY WRITING EPISTOLARY STORIES IN THUNDERDOME im from europe your slacktivist handwringing about the election results of the united states of america plonks off me like dried bird poo poo off a furious rhino

So I ask you this, N. Senada: have you even read the Thunderdome prompt? I will gladly share my copy with you:

quote:

I want a story where a narrator is relating a story to someone else.

The only actual story I see here is the schoolyard fight, but it only comes up towards the end and to be honest you could take it out and the letter would still make as much sense. It feels more like an afterthought to the actual main attraction, the protagonist’s melodramatic whining about Trump. But I think I’m wasting my breath on this topic because you were never going to write a full story anyway, you just really, really, really wanted to complain about the election.

Now take the mad voice you’ve imagined this critique in and imagine it even MADDER because there are very few things that I hate more than first scenes that leave me guessing about what’s going on. It’s not cute. It’s not smart. It’s confusing, and it muddles your story, and in flash fiction it’s already hard enough to stay on point. I guess what you wanted me to do was to go back after the fact and be super heartbroken that Rachel was looking forward to his email and then it was actually a breakup text, but I’ve been to a few rodeos in my time and where I come from we call that a see-through gimmick and people who do it get tarred and feathered and then we put them on a horse and slap the horse’s rear end so it rides off with them on top and they have to spend the rest of their lives in the desert, or at least until they can come back and prove that they’ve learned how to write a real straight-forward story before they try funny stuff again.

Also, for a letter that’s 90% the protagonist aggressively explaining his motivations at me you’ve done a poor job of making me understand why he’d leave his girlfriend. Like I just can’t imagine a person that’s defying their racist parents and travelling abroad to help kids in need and falling in love with one of the other workers and then a racist cheeto wins an election back in their home country and they go “welp time to gently caress off i guess all my ideals are dead and not worth fighting for *writes on a piece of toilet paper: LOVE YOU, BYE*”.

Or to say it in your own words:

quote:

I don’t understand this, please call me
Don’t call me.


Remember, I will always be your Hunter in the night Sky – Boaz-Jachim
There are some entries that kinda read like they haven’t been edited much, not because they’re bad but because the whole piece seems so dependent on its specific wording, on the flow of the language and images, that it’s almost like you have to write this kind of thing going in with the exact knowledge of what it’s supposed to look like and what you want it to say. Like starting a drawing by working out the details before you’ve sketched the scene – a different way of doing things but I find it impressive when the result is good, and maybe that’s not even what you did, but gosh darnit I like it anyway.

Now, technically, the story takes a bit long to get going. It’s almost until the end of an already short piece that you get to the point where the one spirit person gets sick and changes for the worse. And then it’s over. But I don’t know if the piece would have worked another way. And to be honest, it didn’t bore me. I think your language is just that good. It paints me a picture of, not so much a world, but of concepts: transformation, wistfulness, letting go. And it’s tight. You keep hitting me with new information and cool images and then the story is over and I wonder where the time went.

But when I say that this entry evokes many themes and concepts, that can also be a double-edged sword: because those don’t give me as much to hold on to as a fleshed out world and a straight-forward story. It’s all a bit vague, and the fact that your language is at times wafty and nebulous doesn’t help (spirits sitting on their shoulders while they’re making love?). So then I can see the characters and their interactions but there is no backdrop and I’m not sure how the world around them works. It’s like they exist in a vacuum. You had a thing to tell and everything you’ve written works towards that end and I’ll just have to deal with that.

I guess what I’m saying is, this didn’t grab me by the balls, and the short wordcount was a good choice because it allowed you to emphasize the strengths of your format. It was beautiful. It made me feel things and it didn’t read like a crazed serial killer chopped up a bunch of stories and glued together a frankenstein letter from the scraps. But maybe it could have been great. I’m just not sure how. Sorry. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


To a Seaside Well – Okua
I can’t for the life of me figure out why you bothered writing this. Now don’t get me wrong, you’re supposed to write, that’s why we’re here. What I mean is, why write this thing specifically? It doesn’t feel like there was some important thought you had to get off your chest, or like there was some cool idea or image you had to bring to life, or like you just wanted to entertain me. It doesn’t feel like anything much. It feels like you had to write an entry for Thunderdome.

So take aside the fact that you didn’t write a story in a week where you were supposed to write a story and take this postcard at its very low-end stampage face value. You’d probably still get bored reading this if it was a real letter addressed to you, and considering you’d have to be a dead person who’s slowly realizing that they’re conscious enough to read letters, that’s kind of an impressive level of boring.

Go ahead, read it. Maybe you’ll yawn a little. Maybe you’ll start feeling sleepy. Maybe you’ll fall on your knees, eyes burning from the dreadful terribleness that is your story, and you will raise your arms heavenwards and cry out, “Oh Entenzahn, why oh why did I write 700 words about how it makes me sad that the sea level is rising and my neighbors are moving out.” I don’t know man, but the answer is within you. Find it, and then make sure you NEVER DO IT AGAIN.

I get that the general idea of writing to the dead has some kind of wistful and sad note to it but that’s not enough on its own. All the stuff in your letter is just exposition. And it’s not even important exposition, like how the dead person died, or what it means when the still-alive lover says “You stopped responding”, or what DARK SECRET makes makes the sea swallow their island. There is no dark secret. The dark secret is that you bothered to author a piece about how “sometimes things change.” wowwwwwww…………….

Counter proposal: a letter tells the tale of a man who tries to reach the underworld, but fails at great cost. The author reveals himself to be that man, and he writes to his dead lover, whom he promises to free one day, no matter what. Or hey, do anything else. I don’t want to box you in. On the contrary. The point is, you boxed yourself in. And it was cardboard.



Bottled Immortality – Baleful Osmium Sea
This reminds me a lot of Don Quixote in that there’s this one guy who’s kinda crazy but also awesome and then there’s his devoted servant who keeps following him around and also there’s a lot of words and nothing happens. You didn’t gently caress up the prompt so that already puts you ahead of almost everyone else, but the grand tale of an English gentleman fawning over his soon-to-transcend alchemical prodigy poet buddy is a bit hard to relate to.

What I’m missing are concrete events and images. Most short stories leave you with a picture in your mind, and when I think of yours, I think of two gentlemen sitting in club chairs and drinking brandy. On top of that, Nathaniel’s poetry is never shown and his chemical experiments are only hinted at. It’s all an act, a story that pretends to be, and technically is, because something happens, but look closely and you see the threads and the mirrors, and look for a bit longer and you realize that you’re actually just watching the setup to a magic trick that never happens. I guess you’re not showing me any of these things because you know nothing about chemistry and you don’t trust your poetry to be good, but then maybe you shouldn’t write about a character whose mastery of these fields is integral to the plot. Because then you’re just writing around your own deficiencies, and in this case that goes so far as ending the story just when it might have gotten interesting.

At least the voice is pretty solid. Many letters this week had the disadvantage of sounding bloated and wordy, and yours ran danger of falling down the same pit, and yeah it’s a bit purple, but it ties in with the setting and the words you use are actually interesting. I don’t know, I feel like this letter works. The prose was probably the main reason I kept reading and I usually prefer gritty and snappy so good job I guess.

Now use those words to tell a story.


Comfort and Security – a new study bible!
I don’t think this was good at all, and I think HMs should be good, so I don’t think this was an HM, but hey.

The main problem I have with this is that it constantly breaks my suspension of disbelief. It doesn’t sound like an authentic letter, and certainly not like a job application. It’s mostly these dumb transitions where it feels like you’re in the job application part and then suddenly you remember that you were still going to work in the lost brother and you’re already halfway through holy poo poo *slams THE BUTTON* “Speaking of past experience working security in an amusement park environment, when I was a kid...”

It seems hamfisted. Like you constructed this… THING on an operating table where you had all the various talking points laid out in front of you and you just sewed them together in a random order until you were confident that yes, everything’s there, good enough. Don’t mind the seams, it’s technically functional.

It’s a shame because this starts with some touching family moments but then the writer reveals that this is actually a job application and it just feels like, what? Where does this come from? Your original story is over at that point so I’m floating through a void until I realize what you’re trying to do and then I just don’t want to believe it. Let that roll off your tongue: there’s a guy who writes a letter directly to Will Eisner to apply for a security job at Disneyland and also explain how he lost his brother there and totally misses him and also he breaks into Disneyland regularly. It’s not impossible to make that good, but it’s hard, and it sure as poo poo takes effort and quality writing that I don’t see here. So then this guy comes off as a loving psycho, but I’m not sure if that’s on purpose, because for how dumb the premise is there are also some relatively somber parts that make me feel like you were going for a genuine, sad story, and now I’m beginning to think you had no plan for this so you just did whatever and hoped that your gimmick was so crazy it might just work. Somehow it did. But not for me.


Nigh – Hammer Bro.
I thought this was going to be the good ol’ Divorce Classic, you know, one of those safe, cheap TV dramas that put a bunch of sad poo poo before you and then demand you be sad, this is sad, why aren’t you sad, what is wrong with you monster look at this poor child (1 like = 1 prayer), but then, whoops, turns out it’s actually a mystery story about Santa Claus stealing everyone’s parents. Except it isn’t that story either. It’s the setup to that story, and then it ends.

I don’t know how this always happens to people, like do you not read through your own entry and go “Hm actually the second half has nothing to do with the first half and nothing gets resolved.” I mean this isn’t complicated and you’ve domed before, I feel like you really should know better. Or maybe you realized your story was going to turn out boring and then panicked and crammed the Santa poo poo in at the last minute and just hoped to God I wouldn’t notice but you were WRONG I ALWAYS NOTICE I LITERALLY HAVE A BUILT-IN SENSOR FOR INCOMPLETE STORIES THAT TRIGGERS THE PART OF MY BRAIN THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MY DEEPLY SEATED DISGUST OF THE HUMAN RACE and that part of my brain right now is getting triggered so hard it floods my entire brain with impulses and I’m literally twitching and making GBS threads myself all over the place from how much I hate this

Then Santa’s letter is such a hosed-up caleidoscope of sentences on top of that. What does it mean everyone left behind is a friend of his? Why does he first say “your parents stepped out and something happened” like he doesn’t know or doesn’t want to tell her then immediately turns around and clarifies that “I’m using them to help me prepare Christmas”? Why does he mention some weird old man that’s going far away, like where is the dude going, and who is he, and why is Santa all like “You can follow that creepy old guy… OR NOT whatever dude” and why is he bringing up the loving dog at the end, like is this supposed to make his choppy ransom note sound heartwarming all of a sudden like how does none of this sound wrong to you dear god what kind of christmas do they celebrate where you live WHO HURT YOU


Lean That Way Forever – Thranguy
I just went back and tried to carefully read through the story another time just so I could finally understand what you’re blathering on about but there’s so much crap exploding in my face and half of it is just You-Know-What instead of an actual thing with a name and I completely lose the thread again so here’s my advice to your future endeavours: have somebody do something, like, anything, not just because Things Happening is good for a story, it also helps me understand what’s going on, what kind of aliens/robots/post-humans I’m dealing with, oh and also maybe not come up with some vague interdimensional race of transient god beings that live on the moon and then cutely dance around everything they want or do until they shrug at the audience and the curtain drops.


Deadline Imminent-Please Open Immediately – Jay W. Friks
There’s been a lot of stories this week that weren’t necessarily offensive, but just objectively bad in almost every single measurable way, like really the worst you can get without being bad enough to become a Thunderdome classic. This was one of those stories. The prose, the plot, the character, all awful in their own way, but at the same time also so dull that it’s hard to remember anything about them except for the fact that you spent the entire story scrolling down, moaning, scrolling back up and forcing yourself through the next paragraph.

I guess the biggest problem I had with this is that the letter reads like it was written by a fourteen-year-old Russian who learned English by watching the villains’ speeches in James Bond movies. It’s wordy, it’s weighty, it’s awkward, your guy rambles and introduces and prefaces and he just keeps going, on and on, until James Bond realized that this was how he was supposed to die: not with a quick shot to the neck, but talked to death, slowly, painfully, and in English that, quite frankly, left a lot to desire.

Here’s an example of a sentence that made me want to kill myself: “I have left this packet taped to your front door, though the envelope says otherwise you have not been given a final notice on your electric bill.” <= this should actually be two different sentences, and then they both shouldn’t exist because the first is kinda self-explanatory and the second is irrelevant and they’re both eyesores.

Looping back around to the other horrible parts, I guess I just really hated the story. It’s supposed to be about how the writer ran over this guy’s kid, but then the story doesn’t actually seem to deal with that so much as that it explains the writer’s backstory at me. The “redeeming apology” is mostly about the guy who wrote it, to a point where the part where he kills the daughter seems more like a twist to his autobiography, which makes for kind of a lame apology if you think about it. It also means that I spend a big chunk of your story in plot relevance limbo, that haunted place where I am not sure what the actual story is and how any of the stuff he keeps babbling about ties into it.

I guess you could try to weasel your way out of this one by saying that the protagonist is supposed to sound like an autistic /r/redpill manchild and then I could say “he he well write what you know eh? eh???” but tbh this is like the third letter I’ve read this week that does this and it’s just getting annoying. Please read a book.


99 Songs Of Revolution – SkaAndScreenplays
Here’s my crit for you: you’ll never get good if you don’t make a habit out of starting to write at least two days before the deadline. Even if you think your idea sucks. Put it down and then take it from there.

You might still end up with garbage but at least you’ll spend actual time writing.


To Open On The Day You Graduate Highschool – Tyrannosaurus
In a week full of letters that didn’t sound like letters and non-stories that just served to expose the weirdness of spergy asswipes in my face this was a breath of fresh air. Because for all the fawning about how good the voices were this week, I think this was one of very few letters that nailed it, and also Warren is a cool guy who makes me feel good.

Why didn’t this do better? Maybe because it depended a bit too much on the voice. What I mean is, there’s still not much of a story here. It’s a cute letter, and the guy who writes it comes off as likeable. But most of that is window-dressing. The only thing that actually happens is that he finds the girl. And I get it. It warms your heart a bit. But this is one reason I could imagine why a measurably worse entry HM’d and yours didn’t: what you wrote just wasn’t interesting.

Conflict is important. It gives me something to hold on to. It makes the story dynamic and memorable and it gives me a reason to care. Warren is a very nice guy, but there’s nothing to root for him over. This may sound pretty basic to you but the more I think about it the more I realize that many of your stories I’ve read seem a bit mellow in that regard, like sometimes there are people who want things but you rarely write stuff where two forces are actively working against each other to a point that goes past limply slapping at each others’ wrists. Imagine Game of Thrones but instead of killing each other they’re all having dinner. You’re only going half the way. Now of course I’m not an expert on your bibliography but there you are.

The other thing is that I’m missing a reason for this fictional letter to exist. Like these are supposed to have some kind of relevance to the fictional person they are addressed to, at the point of reading. Let me dig out the prompt one more time:

quote:

Why does the narrator believe it’s important to tell this story to this person? A winning or HMing story will probably leave me thinking about how the addressee might respond or react.

Warren himself literally admits that you could read that letter any time in any place and it makes no difference because it’s such a generic feel-good message. I guess that’s why you added the boring chat-log at the end, to anchor it in the present, but then I feel like this is one of the few instances where it would have been better to leave the ending ambiguous, because it really shouldn’t matter if she’d read the letter. The letter should work on its own. Instead, why not write a bit more about his war experience and tailor the letter towards a message based on that experience. Something where I feel like, okay you can give her that letter and it will have an actual effect on her.

I feel like the segway into the snowy woods scene is a huge missed opportunity here. Warren mentions walking up to a potential IED and it feels like he would actually want to describe what it felt like at that point, and that could be a strong moment for us to gain some kind of greater insight, but nope, turns out he just needed something to attach his scene switch to. I dunno, it feels like you’re frantically ticking off a list of talking points instead of trying to tell me something.

I still think that this deserved to HM because the other thing that HM’d is goddamn terrible and at least you made me feel good. But on the other hand I haggled some DMs out of the other judges and you haven’t necessarily made it hard for me to throw you under the bus for that.


Discovery – Kaishai
So I guess my first criticism is that this is a bit confusing, or at least the start is, but then that means it might as well be the whole thing. And it’s the little things, like calling it “the funeral” instead of just “her funeral”. This is something I’ve seen a few times this week where people want to avoid a situation where characters tell backstory at each other that they already know, and I agree, it’s lazy exposition, but withholding this information from me is the only thing that’s even worse. And the other thing is that you’ve got a magical rock man living in your backyard but you start your story with something completely else, so until that guy comes up I don’t know what you’re actually writing about, and even now I’m not sure.

What I mean is that I’m not sure why I’m reading any of this. The rock guy is definitely memorable, but you’re not really doing much with him, he’s just like a regular friend of Angela’s nobody had known about, and they had their secret spot, except the guy is made of rock and so is the spot. It’s like Caroline and Rock Man just keep meeting and going “oh by the way Angela’s still dead, yup” and then that’s it, except it’s a bit weird. Not just the situation in general but how she doesn’t seem at all fazed by the idea of a rock monster chilling in her loving BACKYARD.

Basically I got to the point where the rock guy knocked on the door again (this needed to be a separate scene for some reason) and I started wondering how you were going to use the last third to finish your story, or, more importantly, start it. But you didn’t. You were never going to, were you?

I get the feeling that you were trying to do something here but either you got turned around while you wrote your story or the point of your story is hidden deeper than a rock monster’s creepy underground cavern altar. I guess you can make a case for how you caught a feeling of the abstract concept of how we only ever see one side of a person, but next time I think you should write a story instead.


LATECOMERS imagine every crit ends with SUBMIT ON TIME

Flying with the Turkeys – Hawklad
I think my main criticism is that his early onset of paranoia comes a bit out of nowhere and doesn’t fit his attitude at all and then I immediately expect that “okay this guy is going to become super crazy over the next few scenes and that’s it” and well whaddayaknow


My Old Friend Needs A Hand – widespread
Full disclosure I only breezed through this but what’s there is for the most part so infuriatingly vague and random and not at all sounding like a letter that I’m okay with the loss, especially after my co-judges started sucking each other off about how great this week was to a point where I feared nobody would lose and instead everyone would receive a participation badge as new avatar. Please don’t end stories with your protagonist shooting themselves, it’s so trite I can’t even think of a metaphor for how trite it is and that’s basically the only reason I’m judging ever so that’s pretty hosed up.


Protect the Future – BeefSupreme
This is not an epistolary, and the letter itself is filled with jerkoff scifi jargon when you should actually use those words to paint me a picture of the atrocities committed – you know, the poo poo that actually matters. The frame story is just “guy reads letter” until it turns out that he’s working for the recruitment bureau? I think? I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter because that’s where the story cuts out. Lol.


Time Just Got Away from Me – The Cut of Your Jib
dude you were like a day late gently caress off im not reading this I’VE DONE MY TIME I’M NOT GOING BACK

Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 01:40 on Jan 10, 2017

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


I thought it was a soft limit

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


rhino finish your loving noir crits or BRAWL ME YOU SON OF A BITCH I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL HUNT YOU TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH FOR THESE CRITS AND THEN I WILL END YOU TOO

THREE ROUNDS

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


:fuckoff: ALSO IM IN :toxx:

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


The Saddest Rhino posted:

what if............... i don't!

you're asking me as if I could give you any advice about never writing crits or stories in thunderdome

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


:toxx:

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


brawl

:11: The End of All Flesh

There was the Brother in ragged clothes, and his wrists were red from the iron that bound him, and he was a sorry, broken excuse of a man, branded with the five dots of the blasphemer, and he knelt on the cold stone as he recited the Ten Prayers of the Eternal, and his lips were silent and dry. And there below him was darkness, and there were eyes and ears and teeth, and there was a murmur rippling through all of it, and it echoed off all ways to infinity. And there next to him was the Sister in her red robe, and she would see the Brother to his end, for our blood is our duty, and she would strip the sin off his flesh, and she would lay bare the soul so that it should be judged, for there was order in all things. And there she felt nothing, nothing, but love.

For the Brother had lost his way, and his fear was a cold hand around her throat, and she would end his misery lest he lose himself in sin. For we are all to join the Void one day, or despair. And there is a great cruelty in defying this will of the Void, as is told in the First Prayer of the Eternal, the End of All Things.

And see, for in her heart there burned an Endless Flame, and the Sister took it in her hands, and it tore through the twilight like the sun setting on the last of days. And the brother saw the light, and he fell unto his sister, and begged to be spared salvation, for he did not believe.

And there the Sister stayed her hand, for despite all she knew, here was the agony of the Endless Flame, and there was the agony of eternal damnation. And there was the knowledge that her Brother would be lost, but there was the knowledge that she could not bring herself to pain her own flesh and blood, and then her thoughts were but drops of water on a burning stone, and there they evaporated and wound themselves through the Void in wafts of what-once-was.

And there the Brother saw the light fade from her eyes. And there he realized that he had found pity, and damned her to sin. And with all his strength he tore the Endless Flame from her hands, and he plunged it into him, and there was a great hush as the Brother’s sinful flesh was rent from his bones, and his screams followed him into the Void. And there was what remained of his shell, and his sister’s, and the twilight settled on their dying flame.

And as such, it was decreed:
That the Brother shall never again judge the Sister,
That the Sister shall never again judge the Brother,
And such is the eleventh prayer of the Eternal, for there is order in all things.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


The Answers You Find and the Questions You Don't
3010 words

I crash through the window like a hundred-twenty-pound sack of flabby meat that’s just gotten dunked on by Godzilla Kobe Bryant. There’s a dull crunch as my body crashes into the wooden floor beyond and rolls out towards the bar, where I enjoy a few blissful seconds of nothingness before the pain rushes into my body and I realize that about a dozen blurred-out figures around me have frozen mid-motion to look at the idiot that just stamped a man-sized hole through the front. I hear someone shifting above, and then a pudgy face stares down at me over the counter.

“I’d love to say that I’m paying for that,” I say, and check my coat for cuts. I don’t follow it up with anything, I’m pretty sure the way I dress does the talking for me.

I pull myself up just in time for the Big Ben Brothers to come stomping in. They’re mean guys, not mean like one of these street-smart butterfly-knife-flipping douchebags with girls’ names tattooed on their shoulders. Mean like the kinda guys who wear suits and wherever they appear everyone else just turns back around and pretends like nothing’s going on. I lean into the counter and try to look like I still have a working spine.

“I think you have misunderstood me, friends.” I shake my coat and shards clatter to the ground. “I meant strong in the literal sense.”

“You have a lot of nerves pal, running ‘round asking stupid questions,” says one of them.

“That reminds me.” I reach into one of my coat’s many pockets and pull out a pen and notepad. “Do you know where I can find Hot-Dawg? Not that I’d imply you know literally every scumbag dealer in town, but…”

The other one of them cracks his knuckles. It makes the sound of a skull that’s about to be ground to dust.

“Asking for a friend.”

They both take a step towards me and I can tell how this is going to end. Let’s not be ridiculous: I have no chance against these guys. I’m just a twenty-something douchebag with too much free time and a knack for annoying the poo poo out of people. Everyone always said I wouldn’t amount to anything, and it’s moments like this that really make me appreciate the truth of it.

“Hold on,” I say. It might have sounded a bit more panicky than I liked, because they actually stop. I turn around to the barkeeper and order what might be my last drink: a shot of amaretto. Sorry, that’s probably not so cool. But it is what it is.

I start to nip on the liquor and the two gorillas probably assume I’m just stalling now, but I’m doing more than that. I’m setting them up for a magic trick: I take the glass in one hand, and I close both hands to fists, and I bump the fists into each other. And then the glass is in the other hand. “Ta-Da.” I say. They are not impressed. That doesn’t matter. I just really like doing magic tricks.

Anyway, I throw the amaretto in their faces.

You’d assume they’d at least drag you out of a bar full of witnesses before they give you a hiding. But they have a point to make. The first punch lands in my face and time kinda slows up to a point where I swear I can feel my bones shift into something new and bizarre. Maybe the guy hits so hard that the impact shatters the fourth dimension. I’m catching a one-two on the thinking box, one more in the kidneys, and after that I’m losing track, there’s just general pain all over until I stumble against one of the guys, and for a brief second I kinda awkwardly reach around him as if I was trying to give him a bear hug, and then I’m up in the air, and then I’m already back down again. There’s a crunching noise and I wonder if they actually broke my spine for real this time before my back begins to burn in various places and I remember the glass shards.

I have just enough time to cry out so that there’s not much air in the way when the kick shatters my ribcage.

“That’ll teach you some manners, punk,” one of them says, and then another kick hits me, and another, and then I’m beginning to understand what it must feel like to be a patch of dirt at a derby. There’s a spitting noise, and something wet lands in my hair. I want to wipe it off, but some primal instinct tells me to keep my arms in front of my face.

“Keep your loving nose out of our poo poo.”

And then they’re gone. It takes a moment to settle in because my body hurts so much I could swear time-defying phantom imprints of their kicks and punches are reverberating all the way from back in the past and are still knocking the living daylights out of me. But they’re gone. And they didn’t kill me. But the be honest, that’s why I started the fight with all these people around.

I manage to get on my feet, and it takes a bit too long for my liking, but I stand, as much as you can when every single neuron in your body is busy sending pain impulses to your brain to a point where it’s hard to sort out what still works from what doesn’t. But sometimes you just gotta take a beating to get somewhere.

I feel for the pockets in my coat, and it’s still there: the phone I stole off the one brother when I hugged him.

“You okay, man?” the bartender asks. “You want me to call an ambulance?”

But I’m already outside. Because if they realize what I’ve done they might come back and finish what they started. And if they realize what I’m about to do, they will for sure.

The pounding in my head and the sharp cold air makes it hard to focus, but I find what I assume to be Hot-Dawg in the contact list. I’m going out on a limb here but these guys are probably pro enough to use a secure messaging app instead of calling each other about their dealings like chumps. There’s no logs but that makes sense too. So I send Hot-Dawg a message. I ask him where he’s at. I get an address. I ask him if the girl is with him.

“how do u know?” he says.

I wipe the log and throw the phone in the trash.

It’s been two weeks since Lena McGill has disappeared. I’ve learned about it over the news. We’re not close, but we’d been in school together, and she’d been nice, and I remembered enough about her to know that she’d really liked getting high, but couldn’t ever afford to pay for it. I also know that she kept it a secret from most people. So it made sense to me that it might have something to do with that. But not enough that I wanted to go to the police and get her in trouble.

So first I found that, yep, she still owed money. Big time. And I found out who her dealer was. And now, where.

Hot-Dawg’s hideout is a shitshow of a building. It doesn’t look uninhabited so much as that it looks like zombies live here. But it’s also not Fort Knox. It’s a place where junkies meet to bleed time. And I look like poo poo right now.

I sneak in round back, and the door that covers the entrance is more of a formality than a thing that actually enables or denies access. I shamble through the ground floor like I’m half-dead and coked out of my mind, and the people wriggling around on the cluttered, dirt-stained floor inside give me plenty inspiration to draw from. There’s a set of stairs going up from the hallway, and two people in the room out front talk about slinging dope, and they sound decidedly unstoned, so I keep my distance, but to be honest I’m not really sure what I’m looking for anyway. Probably Lena, Hot-Dawg, or any kind of clue, in that order. It’s not a huge house, and I realize pretty soon that the ground floor is void of interest, or intelligent life for that matter, unless Lena is hiding in one of the kitchen drawers. I go back over to the stairs.

As I do, one of the voices grows louder.

I slide down along the wall and assume the guise of a heap of human waste just in time for the tall, black gentleman with a gun clearly sticking out his belt to walk past me. He gives me a gentle kick with his foot, and I moan silently, prompting him to laugh and move on. He mutters something under his breath as he leaves. I’m fairly certain I detect the word ‘cracker’ somewhere in there.

A thousand scenarios race up my head as I sneak up the stairs: Hot-Dawg comes out the toilet, shoots me.;Black dude comes up the stairs behind me, shoots me; Big Ben Brothers call Hot-Dawg, tell him something’s up, tell him what I look like. I get shot in that scenario too.

It’s one of these moments that really make you evaluate your life choices.

And to be honest I don’t know why I’m doing any of this. Maybe I just saw something that made sense, and nobody else saw it, and now maybe I feel like I can do this, and it’s the first time I ever felt like that. Maybe this is what I’m supposed to be: clever, but also kinda stupid. Or maybe I just feel sorry for Lena. Maybe I’ve read too many detective novels. Maybe I’m not doing anything. Maybe she hosed off to Paris and maybe nothing matters. Maybe everyone I know will remember me as the boy who died in the Heroin House. But I’ve got nothing else to do with my life. It might as well be this. At least this feels real.

The upper floor seems a bit more orderly, so I guess the junkies don’t have access here. I look through the half-open doors first, and there’s not so much stuff there that’s interesting, just general living space and mattresses, but I take a mental note of all the windows that seem like they could be escaped through. Just in case.

The closed doors are next. I listen. I check the keyholes. People loving in the bathroom. Hopefully not important. I get to the door at the dark end of the room. Or maybe that’s just my intuition making it seem sinister. Anyway, I look through the keyhole, and there’s a cot with a woman on it.

It’s Lena.

My heart skips a beat. This sounds cliché, but it really does. It just loving checks out for a second, does a double-take on the situation and finds that this is still reality, so it goes back to beating. A bit louder than I’d like. So’s the door. It squeaks, just a little, or maybe that’s just me imagining things because right now a thousand thoughts race through my head and all of them are “I’m about do loving die.” But there are no footsteps, and nobody is shooting at me. I go inside.

The bed looks like Lena hasn’t left it for approximately two weeks. There’s scabs around her right wrist where the cuff has bitten into her skin. She is unwashed, haggard, bruised. Dead? There’s blood. I don’t want to describe it more than that. My throat closes up. I hate seeing this poo poo.

She doesn’t move until I am right next to her, feeling what’s left of her pulse. She looks at me for a few moments, tired, and I’m not sure if she recognizes me at first, but even when she does, it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to her.

“I remember you,” she says. Her voice is like a fading imprint on my mind, barely clinging to existence. I only believe that it’s there because I see her lips move. “Toby?”

I got my phone in hand. 9-1-1. “I’ll get you out of here.”

“What the gently caress?” an angry voice says from behind us. I drop the phone and kick it under the bed as I spin around. And there’s Hot-Dawg in his undershirt, the word ‘Mary’ tattooed to his shoulder, all street-smart and mad as hell. But he’s not carrying a butterfly-knife. He’s a bit further up the food-chain. He’s got a gun.

“Man, like, chill out maaaaaan,” I shout in my best junkie impression. But he’s not buying it. But that’s okay. I’m just trying to talk over the operator on my phone. Hot-Dawg doesn’t seem to notice that the call is already going on. He hasn’t seen the phone. He couldn’t have seen it.

He comes closer and waves his gun in my face.

“I think you should let us go,” I say.

“Why?

“Because you’re surrounded.”

There’s always this moment in movies where the gun clicks back and that’s when you know it’s really serious. Well, I already knew. But it clicks back anyway. And somehow it gets more serious.

“Bullshit,” he says.

“We’ve got twenty people ready to go in right now. I’m only supposed to extract Ms. McGill to safety before the raid begins. We know she is your only hostage. That and the junkies, but City Hall doesn’t give a poo poo about a bunch of channel swimmers. In your own best interest, please lower your gun and surrender.”

The gun isn’t going off. It wants to. I can see it blinking at me. It doesn’t even waver. But it’s not going off. Not yet. Because he isn’t sure.

“We know you’ve been using the 155 Lanklane Avenue residence as a place to peddle your smack. We’ve been on that for a while now, but let’s face it, we’d rather go for the higher-ups. The Big Ben Brothers, now that’s a name that turns some heads in the upper brass. But then you’ve abducted Ms. McGill. And that kind of case, that gets people’s attention. So we find out she owes you money. It’s happened before. So maybe you were fighting about the debt and things escalated. Maybe you thought this was your way of getting your money’s worth out of her. It doesn’t matter. It’s over, boy. Lower your weapon.”

“You don’t call me boy, you gently caress”, he says, but he doesn’t sound at all like the angry lion anymore, more like a trapped rat, whiny and in denial.

And then come the sirens. And Hot-Dawg is really losing his mind. He just runs past us, looks out the window, sees the single police car. Laughs and cries at the same time. Calls me a gently caress. Puts the gun back up and realizes that I’ve closed the distance, that I’m almost right in his face, just an arm’s length away.

“That’s the police,” I say. “For real this time. And if you still want to shoot me, then go ahead. But I swear to God, if you miss, I will loving kill you. And if I can’t, then I will fight you, and I’ll fight you as long as it takes for the police to get up here, and if I just hold on to you as much as I can, and if it means I’ll be dead by the time they’re here, they’ll find you with my loving body hanging off your punk rear end, and then you’re dead just as well, because they’ll drag you to prison where they’ll let you rot until they give you the shot, and if not we’ll paint this loving room red with each other. I swear to God you piece of poo poo. I swear to God. You better not miss.”

I didn’t expect it to sound sincere, but here’s the thing: it was. And it’s left a mark. He still doesn’t lower his gun. He’s not that kind of guy. But he doesn’t shoot either. And I die a bit with every second that ticks away. But never all the way.

And then the police is at the door.

And say one thing for Hot-Dawg: he knows when it’s over.

#

The sun is going down on what’s probably the longest day in the longest two weeks of my life, and if every cell of my body wasn’t in pain I’d probably appreciate the way the red-blue of the sirens is mixing with the orange sundown. It almost looks nice. As if the planet itself wanted to say: “Good job, Toby. Take five.”

But a planet where poo poo like that happens can go gently caress itself.

They’ve already loaded Lena on a stretcher, carefully, as if they were handling a precious glass vase, because if you think about it, they kinda were. And they’ve taken her to the hospital, and now nobody knows if she’s going to make it, but I’ve asked around, and people are carefully optimistic, or at least they want me to be. And then it’s already my turn, and I’m lying in my own little ambulance, because I really look like I need one, and to be honest I probably do. And there’s a policeman with me, and as proud I am of what I’ve done today, I wish he’d wipe that patronizing smile off his face.

“That was good work, kid,” he says, for like the third time. Then he mixes it up and asks me: “So what are you, like, a private detective?”

“I think I just wanted to know if I could do this,” I say.

“That doesn’t really answer my question, does it?”

“You’re right. It doesn’t.”

But it’ll have to do, because right now it’s all I got. And if you think about it, that’s okay.

At least for now.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


in

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


dance of dead dreamers
136 words

beat so fast, like drums my heart that races
down into the shadows of the crowd
through rays of light and unfamiliar faces

silhouettes that deal in twos and aces
clubs that tumble underneath the shroud
beat so fast, like drums my heart that races

stop and go to rhythms that betray us
flashing smiles that crash against the sound
through rays of light and unfamiliar faces

blown-out speakers, hollow sadness, baseless
raindance met by silence in the clouds
beat so fast, like drums my heart that races

suffocate in overcrowded places
fading stacks of smoke are pulling taught
through rays of light and unfamiliar faces

every beat is chasing for the latest
dreams like pennies dropping on the ground
beat so fast, like drums my heart that races
through rays of light and unfamiliar faces

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Judging I
There once was judging. It was good.

The End.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Judging II: Electric Boogaloo
There once was judging. To be continued...

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


in

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Sitting Here posted:

:toxx: that I'll have crits from this week and Voidmart 2 up by whenever submissions close next Sunday

who watches the watchmen

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


sebmojo posted:

it's in the mail, madame defarge. Ska's too.

what are you, some kind of narc

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


sebmojo posted:

22 Failuresnewtestleper
22 Failuressebmojo

kiwis are goddamn lazy lol

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


in :toxx:

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Sally (Catharsis)
479 words

Don’t take this personal doc, but I’m done with fairy tales. Alright? There was a time when I believed in that whole Power of Positivity thing, but now I see that’s an idea happy people sell to the dumb and desperate. Might as well tell me how the night is always darkest before dawn. And maybe that’s true for you, because you’re normal. People don’t look at you and see a gross tub of lard. When you’re like me, it’s always dark, never dawn. When you’re like me, every day is a new chance to get hurt. Some passing comment, or some unbelieving stare, or somebody online telling you to kill yourself because how dare you be on a dating site looking like this.

They say the first cut is the deepest, but that’s bullshit too. Not if the second cut hits you in the same spot, and the third, and the fourth. Eventually it gets there, you know? That’s how all this hosed-up-- this world never cared for me. Never. And gently caress all this poo poo about how, oh, you gotta love yourself before other people do it for you. You spend twenty-eight years of your life being nothing but trash, your parents think you’re a nuisance, your teachers think you’re a moron, your friends think you’re a joke, and now every single man that looks at me sees this: Fat Sally. That’s all they see. You try put a picture of your positive spirit on Tinder, tell me how that works out for you.

So you want to know why I keep eating? Because it makes me feel good. Because it’s the only thing that makes me feel good. Because what happens if I stop? I’m still a fat piece of poo poo. That’s still what everyone sees. I’m still a hundred-fifty pounds overweight. I still get exhausted tying my own shoelaces. I’ll be like that for years, no matter what I do. Trapped. Like this. And all that time I’ll still be Fat Sally, and that’s all people will see, only now when I come home I’ve got broccoli waiting for me. Look me in the eye. Look me in the eye and tell me that’ll be a thing I can pull off. Because I know myself, and I know I can’t lie myself into thinking that everything’s hunky-dory when there’s nothing left to hold on to. No matter how much you try to peddle this poo poo to me.

Look. Doc. I’m sorry. I know on some level you’re really trying. But that’s just what it is. No man wants me. No one. And it feels… it feels bad. And if we’re being honest, cake is the only thing that makes me feel good ever once in a while. And I can’t give that up.

So you tell me what to do.

Seriously, please.

Please…

Please tell me.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


too dome for the uniform, too blue for the brothers

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


An elderly woman succumbs to paranoid superstition as a fungus that emits hallucinogenic spores slowly takes over her house.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?




:toxx: flash rule et cetera et cetera

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Graffiti Bros: Graffic Adventures with Julius Caesar
543 words

"What the gently caress," said Julius Caesar, and shot lasers from his eyes. "This sucks, where the gently caress am I."

He couldn’t see through the laser fire, but there was the distinct sound of blistering trees. A forest, Julius thought, before one of the trees fell on top of him and he died.

#

"What the gently caress," said Julius Caesar, no lasers this time. "Where the gently caress am I."

"You're in Antiquom," the fat boy said. He gestured towards a wall behind him, one of many remnants of the hidden forest outpost that had once been built in these woods, before it had been claimed by time, and overgrowth. The ruins were covered in bright, garish colors, sprayers having marked their territories in bold letters. The wall behind the boy had a giant Julius Caesar on it. There was a trail of washed-off color where lasers had obviously come out his eyes.

"Yeah the laser thing was not such a good idea," the boy said.

"Hey, that's me," Julius Caesar said, not very quick on the uptake.

“Sprayers have been fighting over these ruins for decades.” The boy turned theatrically and motioned towards the other ruined buildings, carrying faded graffiti of past summoned warriors. They were all Julius Caesars.

“Are these yours?”

The boy nodded solemnly.

“These are all… me.”

“Yeah.”

“Oh I get it, it’s a Roman ruin so it has to be a Julius Caesar, because you don’t know any other Romans.”

Suddenly and for no discernible reason, the boy’s voice rose to something he’d probably seen in lovely movies when it was time for the hero to hold a grand speech. “Together we will raise an army and march unto the enemy, with bravery in our hearts. And then we will finally defeat-- ,” he paused dramatically, “... we will finally defeat Artsy and his giant Torture Ares.”

“Artsy.”

“That’s his name.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah. I’m Artso, by the way.”

Well that loving figured. “Anyway,” Julius Caesar said, “what is a Torture Ares?”

“It tortures you to death. That’s what happened to the other Julius Caesars. Over and over again. Until their graffiti faded.”

“Oh, okay, yeah. I am not actually cool with that.”

“To be fair, we other sprayers have been researching ways to defeat Torture Ares for years.” Somewhere in the distance, a laser went off and felled a burning tree. “Do you want the lasers back?”

“Gimme that,” Julius said, and tore the spraycan out the fat boy’s hand, which he somehow knew how to use. He startet to paint.

#

The smoldering corpse of Torture Ares poisoned the forest with steam and burnt stench. Next to it, Artsy, the mysterious master sprayer, knelt defeated. Bits of Jesus littered the ground around them.

“Genius idea, the exploding Jesuses,” Artso said.

“Everyone knows that a Jesus is not fazed by torture. Yes, cannot resist it. All I had to do was to make them remotely detonable, and then--”

“Hey,” a Jesus said, “can any of you torture me, I kinda need to suffer for the sins of humanity.” He exploded.

“Here’s your torture… to go,” Julius Caesar said and put on sunglasses.

“Haha, yeah,” Artso said.

“Shut up. You’re my slave now.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah,” Julius said. And that was the end of that chapter.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


But that one guy said he would have bought the comic.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


give me a dog

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Snow White
748 words
http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/samoyed/

There’s a moment in every man’s life where you have to kick back and accept your fate. And for Tyler McNutty, that moment came during the Great Whiteout of 1984, when the Yukon seemed to be covered in snow for all eternity, all the way from the ground to the gates of heaven, and he found himself in the middle of an endless blaze of white, white and more white, in all directions, until all he could do was to find himself a nice tree to sit down and die against.

And then came the dog.

At first he took it for an apparition, a trick his dying mind played on him, conjured out of the flurry of snowflakes that raged through his vision. But the dog was real, and its black snout came into focus clearer and clearer, like a beacon in the white, until finally, sharp teeth pulled on Tyler’s sleeve.

Get up, the dog seemed to growl, straining itself against Tyler’s weight. It pulled with the strength of an animal that had been lost in the cold for a while, and Tyler resisted likewise. He tried to swat the dog away, but it wasn’t ready to give up. It jumped back, and forward, danced around him, barking as if it wanted to play, digging its wet snout into the side of Tyler’s head, barking, pulling again, barking some more, and barking until Tyler thought, well, he’d prefer to die without that headache.

So he got up. It felt like he had to learn how to stand again.

“What do you want?” Tyler said. “Chrissake.”

The dog didn’t waste any time. It disappeared into the snow, reappeared, barked at Tyler as if to tell him to hurry up, disappeared again. Tyler followed, slowly, feet sinking knee-deep into the snow step by step while the dog kept rushing him, making noise and jumping up on him as if to push him forward, and if it’d been any taller it might just have, and he might just have fallen over and disappeared in the snow, and thank the Lord he didn’t.

When they finally arrived, though, it wasn’t at safety. The drat dog had just brought them to a different tree, with a corpse on it. It was semi-frozen, a glistening trail of blood sticking to the side of its head where a thick branch had hit. There was gear on him. Digging tools. Survival equipment. A map, with markings. This would bring them home. This was it.

Tyler almost forgot about the dog in the heat of the moment. Only when the cooker was burning, and snow started turning to water, did he remember to offer some to the animal. But it only stared at him accusingly. And maybe a bit dumbfounded.

“He doesn’t need it anymore,” Tyler explained.

The dog cocked its head.



Tyler held out the bowl of water. The dog carefully approached, took a few licks, then gently took it out of his hand and put it down next to the corpse. Nothing happened, except more barking.

“We’re leaving,” Tyler said. He packed up the gear as the dog watched him, growing visibly agitated until it went back to his previous routine of barking and jumping at Tyler as if to try to shove him into some kind of action. But there was no action to be taken. That guy was dead, frozen solid to the tree. They could only save themselves.

“Let’s go.”

Tyler went ahead, and the barking stopped.

“There’s nothing I can do. Let’s go.”

But the dog didn’t come. And when Tyler turned back around, it still sat there, looking at its master, and then back at Tyler. Waiting. And Tyler damned his conscience. And he knew he had to move. But his feed didn’t budge, until they turned, and brought him back to the dog, and the man, and he went on one knee and he said, “There’s nothing I can do.” Softer this time.

But the dog only licked Tyler’s face in response, and finally, when nothing else happened, it snuggled against the corpse and laid down, and looked up at him is if to say, “So what now”.

Time seemed to freeze between them. The only sound was the howl of the wind and snow, and, somehow, through all that, the dog’s tired breath, faint, exhausted, air visibly freezing in front of his nostrils with every grunt.

Tyler sighed.

He unpacked the tools and got to work.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Ok

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


in :toxx:

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Bob

There’s a multidimensional ethereal entity haunting my living room. Its name is Bob because that’s what I’m calling it. It never shuts up, but that’s cool since I’m kind of lonely in here. So sometimes I go in my living room and read the news and chill with Bob.

He’s shy to come out at first. There’s the same things in the paper as always: immigrants commit crimes; electric cars are about to go mainstream; somebody, somewhere, saw a crocodile in the sewers.

“...not all the jews?” it echoes from a distant corner of my room. I’ve got a painting of the Mayflower on my wall. It shakes ever so slightly.

“Bob, are you talking to Hitler again?” I say. “You won’t change his mind.”

“Time is a circle,” it says with another voice coming from another direction, a thread of a whisper that weaves its way towards me. Meanwhile, the first voice keeps arguing about the holocaust. He does that sometimes, and it pisses me off.

“Skip Mars, go to Venus,” a third voice softly advises NASA. “The chicks are out of this world.”

“Everything is all at once,” the whisper in my timeline finishes. For something incorporeal, I feel surprisingly watched. Like something hovers in front of me, breathes on my face in eager anticipation of a response. Not because it wants to know what I’m about to say. It already does. It just wants to get to talk again.

“Bob, you’re wasting--”

“...millions will die…”

“You’re wasting--”

“...but Mars is such a sausage fest.”

“I say you’re--”

“Time is not a finite resource. Don’t you see?”

Murmurs flare up in all corners of the room, and a female voice enters the fray: “Are you talking to Bob again?”

There’s a woman sitting next to me, quite tangible. I never noticed her before. She wears rimless glasses, a long skirt, white blouse, all smart casual. She could work at a bank, but not a fancy one. Her mouth opens again. I say, “Bob’s real. He knows what I say before I say it.”

There’s an agreeing murmur in the background. Or maybe Bob and NASA just reached a conclusion to their argument. The lady takes a long, hard look at me, then closes her notebook and puts her pen down.

“You’re talking about the moon landing again. Hitler? The Mayflower.” She makes a demonstrative gesture to the other end of the room. The Mayflower picture hangs next to a bookcase filled with history books and speculative fiction. I don’t honestly remember when I got them. I think Bob just got me interested in the topics.

“...you should totally sail there, the English are heathens,” Bob whispers.

“Ever notice how Bob only tells you stuff you already know?”

“That’s not true,” I say. “He knows about Venus and I’m terrible with girls.”

“I just don’t think staying in your flat all day will do you any good. Look at it this way: Bob obviously has taken an interest in you. Doesn’t that mean that real people might also--”

“Bob is real. And people don’t get me.”

There’s this moment that happens in any therapy: you just wait for her to say, “of course they do.” But you’re supposed to say that yourself. A therapist can’t tell you what to believe in. Instead she says, “What makes you think that?”

“Bob,” Bob says. “Are you talking to Stacy again?” His voice floats from my left side to my right as he speaks. The middle of the sentence happens inside my head. I glance back over to the chair. It’s empty.

“The Mayflower people believed in me, and they founded the greatest nation on earth.”

I nod in agreement, and open up the paper. Someone, somewhere, saw a UFO in the sky. The voices become a soft rustle in the background. Far off in the distance, I think I hear something special: a female Bob.

But that’s probably just my imagination again.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


i would like some detail

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


thx

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


in

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


in with the gnome :toxx:

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


The Sorrow Song
1023 words
How to Make a Garden Gnome That Looks Like Your Husband | How to Sing High Notes

It was the only inn in Parshem: cracked finish, brown tinge fading upwards, it announced its name in big and faded letters above a wooden door: "MAR ERY'S", G-shaped outline in the middle. It was the kind of place where you brought your own bug spray. But the sun was going down, and after two weeks of sleeping on the backseat of his car, Lawrence thought, well drat, wouldn’t it be nice to sleep in a bed again. And maybe shave.

"Lawrence Canner," he said to the clerk, a thin woman with hair made out of rags. She looked him up and down, from his stained beanie hat to his mud-caked shoes, and handed him a key, one of many still hanging on the board behind her.

“Margery’s going to like you,” she said. It sounded dirty, the way she said it.

The inn had something eerie about it, like an abandoned marketplace: something that was supposed to be filled with life and is now lonely, dirty, decrepit. This town didn’t seem like it would invite a lot of tourism, but even so, the empty hallways gave him an uneasy feeling. It had all the hallmarks of a broken dream.

He didn’t take long to unpack. Most of his belongings he’d left behind in Manchester, where they filled up his otherwise empty flat. His room was, like everything in this town, quiet, with a second-floor view of the garden, the only place in the building that seemed like somebody still cared about it, hedges trimmed and flowers in bloom and no weeds to spoil the sight. There was a veritable army of garden gnomes out, and somebody had arranged them so they’d appear to be talking to each other while doing garden work. Something about them unsettled him, but he couldn’t quite put a finger on it.

Dinner at Margery’s was a rural affair. Steak and kidney pie, a beer to wash it down. Lawrence poked around in his food with an appetite as if he was eating at his own funeral, and the mood in the room was about as lively. Him and the desk lady were the only souls eating here. He hadn’t even seen the eponymous Margery yet. Maybe she worked the kitchen.

“So what about those gnomes?” Lawrence said, a half-hearted attempt at striking up a conversation.

“Margery’s”, she said.

“They’re… a bit…”

“Creepy?”

He hadn’t wanted to say it outright, but she didn’t seem too fazed by the notion. She didn’t seem like the type to be fazed, period.

“It started when her first husband died. Missed him so much, she made him a gnome.” A sly smile crept in on her face, and she gave Lawrence a look as if she was about to confess a crush. “I think that’s his real hair on there.”

“Huh.”

“Well, you know. Some people put up pictures, or altars. Margery, she makes gnomes.”

Not that Lawrence had any right to judge anyone about how they dealt with grief. His own approach wasn’t the best, for sure.

He still made sure to lock his door that night.

---

It was well past midnight when the singing woke him up. A female voice, high-pitched but soft, singing a lullaby so serene it could have put the Almighty to sleep.

Elsie, he thought, and bit his tongue. Elsie was gone. Best not to dwell on it.

But still, the singing intrigued him. And, he had to admit, it lit something in him that he’d thought extinguished.

Would it be so bad, for a night, to just remember?

He looked out the window. Down there, in the twilight fading in from the street, the gnomes had broken out of their arrangement and lined up in a curve. They were surrounding the building. Maybe that’s what Margery had been up to. Maybe that was her singing now. It seemed to come from down there, although he couldn’t see anyone outside.

The voice in his head that called for him to go back to bed got quieter by the second. It felt good to listen. And the more he listened, the more he wanted to see.

He put on clothes and went downstairs.

Darkness and dim lights didn’t make the run-down inn seem any more inviting, but he didn’t mind it as much, not while the song filled his mind. There was no-one at the reception, but no-one to tend to either. It almost felt like a dream, walking through this place at night.

Outside, a full moon hung in the sky. Along with the music, it made the scene seem almost magical. The voice didn’t seem to come from any particular direction, but instead filled his head, warmed him from the inside. It reminded him of the good things.

He went further into the garden as images rushed through his head. Bubble baths, and opera shows. Hugs, kisses, sex. That feeling of just, closeness. He shut his eyes and let the memories happen, breathed in, deep. Elsie’s lullaby. It felt like forever.

The song stopped.

Reality rushed back into him like a flash flood in winter. He was alone. In the dark. In a dead, old inn. The way the gnomes had been arranged, they now all seemed to be looking straight at him.

He didn’t notice somebody was behind him until he turned around.

---

It was a quiet morning at the inn. The sun had just come up, and the clerk lady wiped her countertop to prepare it for a new day, humming an absent-minded tune to herself. All the keys hung back in their places. The dining room was empty, and clean.

Out in the garden, the gnomes were back in their usual arrangement, talking to each other, getting garden work done, a scene straight from a fairytale, except for one minor change: a handful of them had broken out of their routine to greet a new resident. He was dressed like city-folk, with a stained beanie hat and kind of an unkempt beard.

He had a lost look on his face, but with enough love, he would find himself at home soon enough.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


:siren: Thunderdome CCLXXX - Let’s Play Thunderdome: Entenzahn’s Bad Idea :siren:


It’s my birthday this week, and looking back at my life thus far, I only wish I could have played more video games.

For this week you will sign up and I will assign you a video game and you will then take that game and write a story about it and get disqualified, or, OR you could instead not do that and take a nonzero amount of iconic elements from that video game and merge them with your own ideas to write an entirely new, independent story that has nothing to do with video games at all! Go you!

Here’s an example.
Prompt: Super Mario Bros
Good: A magical plumber travels through pipes to pop up in other people’s houses and lecture them about proper waste disposal, scaring everyone shitless and triggering a national emergency
Bad: The plumber is Italian and he stalks a woman who is obviously Peach
Worse: Somebody tries to beat the global Super Mario high score

If you’re not sure, it’s really as simple as taking one or two elements from the game and then not writing about any of the other poo poo. Make your own drat story. If reading through your first draft makes you feel dirty, start over. I swear to god I will loving end you if you write dumb fanfic.

The point of this week is not to write about video games but to be inspired by cool video game poo poo to write cool stories. Well I can’t wait to be disappointed.

Wordcount: 1300
Sign-up: Fri, 15th Dec 2017, 23.59 PST
Due: Sun, 17th Dec 2017, 23.59 PST

Server Admins:
Entenzahn
Yoruichi
Antivehicular

Pubbies:
Obliterati (Super Mario Bros.)
Chairchucker (Don't poo poo Your Pants)
Freakie (Diablo II)
Fleta Mcgurn (Bayonetta)
Fuubi (The Secret of Monkey Island) :toxx:
Jay W. Friks (Space Station 13) RIP
Tyrannosaurus (Space Invaders)
magnificent7 (Cuphead)
Bad Seafood (Full Throttle)
big scary monsters (Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing) :toxx:
Thranguy (Max Payne)
apophenium (Portal)
DreamingofRoses (Super Bomberman) :toxx:
BabyRyoga (Pokemon Red/Blue)
flerp (Minesweeper)
The Saddest Rhino (Bad Rats: The Rats' Revenge)
crabrock (System Shock 2)
sebmojo (Tetris)
Uranium Phoenix (Overwatch)
Siddhartha Glutamate (Diablo II) HARD MODE
Fumblemouse (Space Station 13)
Kaishai (Hatoful Boyfriend)
Dr. Kloctopussy (Tetris) HARD MODE

:siren: Secret Hard Mode: :siren: If somebody else has gotten a game where you’re like, well gently caress, I have the greatest idea ever for that and this GOOF is just going to waste it, you can say so when signing up and you will also get that game. The drawback is that you will automatically eat a DM if your story isn’t better than theirs, so you better be sure! If multiple people pick this option for the same game, they obviously have to beat each other as well. Buckle up bitch, this is hard mode.

Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 02:13 on Dec 18, 2017

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?



Super Mario Bros.


Chairchucker posted:

I will (probably?) be able to write something this weekend and I like video games so sign me up and I will write a story if I'm not too busy playing video games also I got that reference

https://www.kongregate.com/games/Rete/dont-poo poo-your-pants?acomplete=don%27t+poo poo+your+pants

It's a dumb game tho

Don't poo poo Your Pants

Entenzahn fucked around with this message at 12:28 on Dec 12, 2017

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Diablo II



Bayonetta



Fuubi posted:

In before all the good games are taken.

:toxx:
The Secret of Monkey Island



Jay W. Friks posted:

gently caress yeah Entenzahn!

IN
Space Station 13

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Space Invaders


magnificent7 posted:

I'm in. No for reals this time I'm in.
Cuphead


Bad Seafood posted:

Insert 2 credits to continue.

Full Throttle

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


big scary monsters posted:

Give me a game and also a :toxx: to atone for past transgressions.
Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing


Max Payne


apophenium posted:

Having just vigorously celebrated the 24th anniversary of Doom, I have to say I'm in.
Portal


Super Bomberman

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Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


BabyRyoga posted:

In it to grin it
Pokemon Red/Blue



flerp posted:

give me a good game ty
Minesweeper



Yoruichi posted:

I will help judge if you don’t already have judges the second and third lined up
god have mercy on your soul

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