|# ¿ Sep 27, 2017 08:29|
|# ¿ Nov 28, 2020 06:13|
The new guy
It’s lunchtime but I’m sneaking back to my classroom. I’ve eaten my lunch in the staffroom with the other teachers as per expectations, but now I’ve made a polite escape, claiming I need to use the bathroom. Hopefully they won’t notice that I don’t come back. I am dying to have 10 minutes by myself, to rest my brain and not have to speak Japanese.
Hajimemashite, Dan desu. Nyuujiirando kara desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu. Hi, I’m Dan. I’m from New Zealand. Nice to meet you. I feel like I’ve given this standard self-introduction a thousand times in the past month, since arriving in Japan for a one year stint as an assistant high school English teacher.
I don’t really know what I’m doing here. Basically I hated my job (well, mostly my boss, bitch) and needed an excuse to get out. Japan!, I thought, that’ll be fun, a chance to use the Japanese I learnt at uni, a place to reinvent myself.
It’s not like I regret my decision to come here, but the initial shine of newness is starting to wear off. I miss my friends; haven’t yet made any new ones. Can’t ask for help without giving away that I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing.
As I walk along the fifth floor corridor I get a good view of the huge school, all modern concrete and glass, big enough for thousands of students. There is a pair of cherry trees by the school gate, just losing the last of their delicate spring blossoms.
I reach my classroom and duck inside, pulling the door shut behind me, expecting it to be empty. It’s not. Satomi is sitting at her desk, staring fixedly at a book, gripping it, knuckles white. Three boys are standing over her, laughing. One of them – I’m pretty sure his name is Koji – is flicking a lighter, pretending, or perhaps really trying, to set her hair on fire.
I like Satomi. She is new here as well, her family recently returned to Japan after several years living in California. Her English is very good, but her Japanese is imperfect, American-accented. I have tried to talk to her - it is such a relief to speak English - but she is too shy, or, I suddenly click, too scared, to be on friendly terms with me, a teacher. The book she’s holding is in English, “The King in Yellow” on its cover. I’ve heard of this, it’s an old play, a weird choice for a high-schooler. I wonder if she was bullied in America too.
The door bangs as I shut it. The boys all turn to look at me. I hate petty bullies. A sudden disappointment hits me, that people like this are here as well. Of course they are. Satomi doesn’t hesitate, slips out of her chair and out of the classroom’s rear door without looking at any of us; survivor’s instincts.
“What are you doing?” I say in Japanese, trying to sound teacherly. It doesn’t work; these little shits think they’re tough and my Japanese makes me sound like a child trying hard to be polite. They move towards me, trying to intimidate me.
“Oi sensei…” Koji drawls, managing to make the usually polite word for teacher sound like an insult. He puts his lighter in his pocket and his hand returns holding a knife. He flicks it open and waves it at me. 15 years old and he thinks he’s in the yakuza.
I step forward and grab the wrist holding the knife. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve ever trained martial arts or anything, but I’m a fairly big dude and Koji is just a skinny high school kid. I've got 10 years and at least a foot of height on him. I twist his twiggy arm up behind his back and push between his shoulder blades, forcing him face down onto a desk. He squeals and says something no doubt extremely rude, but I am not fortunate enough to understand. The other two boys stand there open mouthed.
Through the classroom’s open windows I can hear the incessant summer whine of cicadas, kids yelling from the playing field below. The corridor outside the classroom is deserted.
I take the knife out of Koji’s fingers and, holding it awkwardly in my left hand, bring it close to his face, tip pointing right at his eye. His neck muscles strain, trying desperately to pull his face away. I lean a little bit harder on his twisted shoulder, just to make sure it is actively hurting and not merely going numb.
“Me ga torimashou ka?” I say. They gape at me. (Oh for fucks sake, I think to myself, realising that by using the particle “ga” I have made “your eye” the subject of the sentence, rather than the object of the verb “to take” as I intended. The correct particle should have been “wo”. loving particles).
“You know what I loving mean!” I shout at them in English. “gently caress you and your stupid language and its stupid particles!” I throw the knife left-handedly at one of the boys. It bounces harmlessly off his school blazer but he jerks his arms up in fright anyway. Pussy.
“Now gently caress off!” I shout, releasing Koji. They are terrible students, their English is poo poo, but tone of voice is universal. They scurry out the door, Koji grasping his sore shoulder melodramatically, throwing me a filthy look as he goes.
I breath deep, release a long sigh, rub my face with my hands. poo poo gently caress oval office baka ahou kuso.
Class will be starting soon, I can hear the sound of returning students coming down the corridor. I sit at my desk, shuffle through my notes as they file in and take their seats. Force a confident smile onto my face.
“Hai minna, hajimemashou ka?”
|# ¿ Sep 29, 2017 21:20|
Thanks for crits.
In and flash please.
|# ¿ Oct 3, 2017 08:52|
Flash rule: Bread machines and meat wall trivia.
The little bedside clock in my sterile hotel room glows red at me, it’s 3.30 a.m. I can’t sleep, this trip was a terrible idea. Dan and I came to Belgium on our honeymoon, so returning post-divorce seemed like a great way to give the middle finger to our dead marriage. When I found out he’d been cheating on me I was furious. Furious that he was the one doing the leaving, that he was the one freeing himself from a relationship that always I’d known, deep down, had been a mistake.
“gently caress it”, I’d thought, “I’ll go to Leuven by myself and have a great time!” Turns out I was wrong about that too. On my first night here I tried to be brave and ate in a nice restaurant alone but I hated the way everyone looked at me. Since then I have been dining in my hotel room on snacks bought from Leuven’s hot snack dispensing “meat wall”, washed down with cheap beers and crappy hotel television.
Fed up with lying awake staring at the ceiling I drag myself out of bed and peak out through the cheap curtains at the nighttime street below my window. The bread machine at the bakery on the corner glows invitingly. Maybe something to eat will help me sleep, I think, putting on my coat and sensible tourist shoes over my teddy bear pajamas. The pajamas were a gift from Dan, saved from the purge of all things Dan-related by dint of being really loving comfortable. After all, I don’t have to get rid of everything, do I?
As I approach the bread machine the bakery’s side door opens and a man who must be at least a hundred years old emerges. What hair he has left is white and concentrated solely in his ears, nose and eyebrows. He sees me and nods. Bright blue eyes peer out at me from his wizened face. He looks like an ancient raisin in a baker’s outfit.
He turns and lifts a sack of flour off a pallet sitting on the pavement. I instinctively step forward, arms out to take it from him – it looks heavy and his old-man arms are so skinny. His caterpillar eyebrows waggle with surprise but he hands it to me anyway. It’s much heavier than I thought and I promptly nearly drop it, by the time I’ve recovered he’s shouldered another sack and is carrying it back into the bakery.
I follow him in, deposit my sack onto the pile in the store room, and then back out again, carrying on helping him shift the flour delivery into the back of the shop. A couple of times he says something in Flemish and makes ‘you can go now’ gestures, but this is better than not sleeping and thinking about how much I hate/miss Dan so I just smile and shake my head. By the time we’re done my arms are aching, I’m sweating despite ditching my coat and my teddy bears are covered in flour dust. The baker gestures to a table in the corner of the room, mimes drinking from a mug and makes a question mark with his eyebrows. I nod gratefully.
He disappears into a small kitchenette, leaving me to sit and look around the bakery’s back room. Its simple brick walls are painted white, with a huge oven built into the wall at the back. A vat on the bench is making an intermittent hissing, popping sound. I get up to look. It’s the poolish, a thick flour paste left to ferment overnight, the starter culture transforming simple flour and water into a magical substance, full of flavour, that will form the foundation of the day’s bread.
I breath in its heady, yeasty aroma, and am transported back to happier days in my grandmother’s kitchen, helping her prepare beautiful sourdough loaves. I haven’t made bread since I moved to London to live with Dan, there was never any time in our city life, nor space in our tiny apartment. When we finally, miserably, had to move my grandmother out of her house and into a nursing home she’d given me the crock containing her sourdough culture. “Just remember to feed it a little fresh flour and water every couple of days dear”, she’d said, eyes twinkling, “it’s been alive and making bread for people for hundreds of years”. I have no idea if the latter part is true but in any case it’s dead now. I forgot about it, left it to dry out at the back of the fridge, and before I could try and revive it Dan had tipped it into the trash.
I stare into the poolish, watch bubbles slowly form and then pop, each one releasing a little puff of pure umami. I reach down with the tip of my finger – a sacrilegious thing to do – and bring a tiny portion onto my tongue.
My eyes widen as the sour taste of fermentation fills my mouth. The smooth white poolish suddenly looks different. I can see it moving, writhing. A million tiny yeast cells hungrily devouring the raw flour, multiplying and searching for more. I step back, mouth open. I can see them in the air as well, yeast and bacteria drifting, dancing together, searching. I look down and nearly gag. I am covered in them, they're eating the flour that’s dusted over my ridiculous pajamas, burrowing into the skin of my hands.
I desperately try to brush them off but it’s like trying to sweep the dust off a dirt floor. Rather than removing them I just seem to be creating more, a living cloud swirling around me, on and in and part of my skin. I try not to breath them in but it’s impossible, they are everywhere, tiny voracious creatures in my mouth and nose and eyes.
The baker walks back into the room carrying a tray with two steaming mugs and a loaf of bread. I must look like a total head-case, standing flailing my arms in panic in the center of the room. But he just smiles at me, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he gazes at the air around me. He puts down the tray, takes my elbow and guides me back to the table. I blink and the clouds of creatures drifting in the air wink out of existence. I catch a last glimpse of them jumping from his hand to my arm and back again, intermingling, but then they too disappear. On the bench the poolish hisses and pops.
My heartrate slows as I sit and take a sip of tea. He passes me a slice of sourdough, adorned simply with a little butter. I haven’t tasted bread this good in years, despite all the fancy restaurants that Dan and I went to with his London set. I think of my grandmother fading away in her nursing home. My eyes well up - how long has it been since I’ve been to see her? It was so difficult with Dan, she hated him and he knew it. I’m so stupid, I think, as hot tears begin to roll down my cheeks.
The baker pats my hand, gets up, and returns holding a small pottery crock. He takes a glass jar from a cupboard and transfers a large spoonful of the thick white paste from the crock. He gives it to me, pressing it into my hand.
Back out on the street it is still dark, the sun only just starting to lighten the eastern horizon. I return to my hotel and collapse, exhausted, into my bed. I sleep deeper than I have for months, the little jar of sourdough culture watching me from the bedside table.
Back in my single-person’s flat in London I carefully measure out the right proportion of flour and water into a freshly purchased crock and decant the culture into its new home. I can see the yeast dancing as it disperses through the mixture, beautiful and alive. Tomorrow I will bake bread, and take a loaf of sourdough to my grandmother.
|# ¿ Oct 8, 2017 08:20|
|# ¿ Oct 9, 2017 19:36|
thunderdome is always dying, and always being born again a little stinkier than before
As a stupid newbie I resent the implication that my arrival has made thunderdome stinkier
|# ¿ Oct 14, 2017 01:20|
Prompt: Kranzberg’s first law of technology, “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral,” suddenly and inexplicably stops applying.
We are huddled like animals in front of the fire listening to the air raid sirens wail when the bomb hits our house. I am slammed bodily against the floor, my wife ripped from my arms. Cloying dust fills the air. I stumble to my feet, cutting my hands on the broken glass that litters the floor as I push myself up. The walls, the new curtains that took us so long to choose, the carpet, everything is on fire. Where is Sara?! I cast desperately around, see her lying unconscious against the far wall, fire encroaching from every direction.
“Sara!” I scream, frantic. Coughing and stumbling I plunge through the flames towards her, half blinded by smoke. The fire licks at my dirty clothes, I can feel my skin start to burn. The flames have reached her too, her body twitches as her beautiful long hair catches alight. I lunge towards her, catch my feet on the legs of the overturned coffee table and fall flat, outstretched arms almost close enough to touch her hand.
And then, suddenly, I can breathe. My skin is no longer burning, the fire in Sara’s hair has gone out. She moans and opens her eyes. She sits up, eyes widen as she takes in the devastation around us. The house is still on fire, but we are in a bubble of cool, safe air. The flames and smoke roil away from us like thick kelp tugged back by the retreating tide.
I grab Sara’s hand, shout over the roar and crackle of burning timber, “let’s get out of here!” We crouch under the thick smoke, arms up to protect our faces, but the flames won't touch us, bowing out of our way like loyal servants as we approach. We make it across our devastated lounge and out into the street, a blast of hot air chasing us out of the front door as the ceiling collapses inwards.
We stand in the cold street, arms clasped tight around one another. Sara is crying, sobbing with shock. My chest is heaving. How are we both alive? Looking back at our house I can see where the bomb came in through the roof over the kitchen. We had been in the lounge trying to heat up tins of beans in our small fireplace for some sort of dinner. Since the war invaded our city and the power grid went down we’ve been relying on our little fire for warmth, food and light. Our modern gadgets are useless compared to this ancient technology, man’s earliest and most essential invention. I guess it saved our lives tonight too.
The conflagration is spreading quickly down our row of terraced houses, flames leaping from windows spitting sparks at the night sky. Most of the houses are empty; unlike us, still clinging to our precious home, most of our neighbours have fled the city for theoretically safer places. But there is screaming coming from James and Marie’s house, already well alight.
The front door bursts open and James appears, dragging something burning, flames leaping from the doorway around him. I run forward to help, then stop, realising with horror what it is he’s holding. It’s Marie, burning, dead. James is untouched. The flames curl around his body like an adulterous lover, desperate to caress him but not daring to touch his skin while others are watching.
“James!” I yell, running towards him. He looks at me, face taut with anguish, when the first bullet hits him in the chest. I spin towards the sound of the gunshot. Three soldiers approach us from the end of the street, flickering red light reflected in their eyes, guns raised. “Don’t..!” I start to shout, but they shoot anyway. James crumples to the ground.
The gun barrels swing towards me. Time slows, all I can hear is my racing heartbeat. The first soldier pulls the trigger and his gun explodes, but not how it was designed to. A ball of fire engulfs the soldier. He drops his gun, frantic to put out the flames that are racing through his clothes, prying their way up under his helmet. His comrades turn to help him but there is nothing they can do. Long fingers of flame reach out to snatch onto their clothing as well. Their screams follow us as I grab Sara’s hand and we run away into the dark.
“What the gently caress just happened?” Sara pants, gasping for breath. We have stopped in the park at the top of the rise that marks the edge of our neighbourhood, collapsing on the cool earth under a stand of trees. We can hear the booming of more bombs falling, but which of the many sides in this hideous conflict is dropping them we don't know.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” I stammer, holding her close. From the edge of the park we hear the rattle of gunfire and the sound of men screaming. I pull Sara to her feet and we stagger away up the hill, our way lit by dancing orange light.
For the second time that night I am slammed into the ground, this time by someone sprinting through the darkness under the trees. We hit the ground together, roll, tussling. I get a grip on his shoulders and hold him away from me. He’s young, face shining with sweat, eyes wide with panic. He’s jabbering at me in a thick northern accent - one of the rebels? - something about a fire they couldn’t put out, everyone dying except him. “Mate calm down,” I start to say, but he pushes me away, scrambles to his feet and sprints away from us.
“C’mon,” Sara says, helping me up, “let’s see if we can see what’s happening.” From the top of the park we can see over the surrounding suburbs towards the high rises of the central city. There are fires everywhere, the stars blotted out by a thick blanket of smoke. We see a trio of fat bellied bombers approaching, bay doors opening like the jaws of a shark closing in on its prey. The bombs glitter with reflected firelight as they fall, beautiful like fireworks.
They explode far too early, well before they hit the ground, the sound wave punching us in the chest a moment later. The fireball reaches up, grabbing the planes out of the air and swallowing them whole. Fire spreads out across the sky like an owl opening its wings wide to drift on the air while it searches for prey. Target spotted, it dives down, talons outstretched to pierce the buildings and people below, setting everything alight.
Sara and I stand hand in hand, faces warmed by the glow of the burning city. There is no chance of escape, but there was never anywhere else for us to go, anyway.
“Let’s go home,” Sara says, looking up at me. I open my mouth to argue, but her tear-streaked face is so earnest that all I can do is nod. I have no better ideas in any case.
The familiar route from the park back to our house is unrecognisable, quaint Victorian terraces replaced with blackened bricks and empty windows belching smoke. Some of the older facades have collapsed, burning debris spilling across the street. The flames beckon, waving us forward, an honour guard lighting our way home.
Only the shell of our house remains, flames lovingly caressing the empty brick walls. The bodies in the street have been reduced to ash, guns melted into the asphalt. Sara squeezes my hand. “Let’s go home,” she says again, as we walk back inside across the burning threshold.
Years later we are still here, surviving. The fires never went out, they are impossible to extinguish. I don’t know what happened to the war, but there has never been any fighting in our city again. There are other people here too - sometimes we catch glimpses of them, moving in and through the fire like we do.
The flames come and go as they please. Sometimes they die down to a smoldering glow, ash drifting through the lazy white smoke like softly falling snow. Other times they leap up, roaring at the sky and conjuring up a hot wind full of sparks.
It's raining today, a cold grey downpour. But we're lucky, the flames are dancing hot and bright in the air where our roof used to be, making the raindrops sizzle off them as steam, while we huddle like animals underneath.
|# ¿ Oct 15, 2017 06:26|
I’ll help judge if that is acceptable
|# ¿ Oct 16, 2017 22:44|
Now that I'm done with midterms and I took my lumps, let's try this again, properly this time.
Your flash is: Bearded lady.
|# ¿ Oct 20, 2017 02:21|
I am currently weak and vulnerable. Please let in and flash rule me.
When you think you've won but then someone no one cares about gets to decide and gives first place to the other guy
|# ¿ Oct 20, 2017 09:18|
More like package loss.
Lol balls, those things are inherently funny.
Also please try and keep your poo poo together people, judgement is coming in a matter of hours
|# ¿ Oct 24, 2017 04:54|
Crits for week 272, in order of submission
My theme for this week is irritating nonsensical details. Bizarre lengths of time or distance. Contradictory details. Things that make you think, “wait, what?” and jolt you out of the story. Pay more attention to the details of the scene you are trying to create for your reader, tsk.
Symbiotic: The Amazing Victor Steele Amusement Park
I guess this is an interesting twist on a running away from home story, where instead of any sort of redemption or resolution the protagonist just ends up back at home getting a hiding. But, nothing really happens.
This story didn’t really hang together for me, as too many elements were unexplained. Why is he named after a character from Robin Hood? Is this a deliberate reference? Why is the protagonist so obsessed with amusement parks, such that “his surprise discovery excited him like no other could” and “You might even say his whole life was leading up to this moment” even though he’s not “seen many amusement parks before, this might be his first even”? And there’s no explanation at all for the spooky yet very safety conscious mysteriously disappearing amusement park.
I also found a lot of the prose confusing and distracting. The opening para is one hella long sentence. In fact there are a lot of sentences that would be better broken up rather than being full of commas. In some places it looks like you’re going for strange and interesting turns of phrase but you’ve just ended up sound strange. For example: “The letter sign announced” - as opposed to what other kind of sign? “...bone white teeth” - I think this is the normal colour for teeth. “His face struck in tears” - what? “Depravity and wickedness” - an odd choice of adjectives for cheesy horror movies. There are also some proofreading fails like rogue apostrophes.
Overall: 2/10. Too much weird and not enough story.
Chairchucker: Lawns Mowed on Time
In which someone loses their job and writes a gently caress you parting note to their boss in the astroturf that is only visible from the ferris wheel. That’s it, that’s the whole story. I thought there was going to be a romance angle between Suzie and Raven, but nah, they’re just colleagues who like to chat.
You describe Suzie as mowing the artificial grass for a month and a half. This is 6 weeks of work. Assuming a 40 hour working week and an average walking speed of 5km per hour, in this 240 hour period Suzie could literally have walked the entire length of the north island of New Zealand. Is this amusement park the size of a large city?
Overall: 3/10. A boring story set in a preposterously large amusement park.
Derp: Come One, Come All
The monster escapes, but children are so gross and terrifying that he’d rather go back to his tent where he only has to deal with them one to two at a time. Meh. On the upside, this isn’t badly written and I did quite like the sense of horror you express at being surrounded by other people’s terrible kids.
“But the thing just stared daftly and babbled on with the sound of a dying pony.” What I need to ask you is, what the gently caress sound do you think a dying pony makes? Horses don’t make any sounds that could be described as babbling, and don’t make any sounds when they’re in pain, unless it is horrific, in which case they scream. And why a pony specifically? Why Derp, why?
Overall: 5/10. Not super interesting but not terrible, disturbing equine reference aside.
Exmond: A cop worth a drat
Well we can rejoice in our shared anime nerdery, because I got your Psycho Pass reference without looking under the spoiler tags. But joy turns to despair with your decidedly lacklustre use of your second trope, white-haired bishounen. It reads like you started writing with the idea that your villain is a nasty looking punk type, and then halfway through thought, oh poo poo, he’s supposed to be a long-haired feminine beauty, and just jammed that in. It would have worked better if you’d made something of the contrast between your beat-down, soon to retire, recently divorced protag and the hot-guy villain early on. Looks terrible but is good, looks good but is evil - that would have been a better trope to draw on.
As for annoying details, “He started running towards the funhouse entrance, a few kilometres away.” A few kilometres is a really long way. I can only assume this story is set in the same city-state sized amusement park as Chairchucker’s. The punk first ducks behind a large animatronic dinosaur, then runs (a km or two?), then steps out from behind… another animatronic dinosaur. What is this, dino-park? And why is the girl wearing a VR helmet? Is this a pointless SAO reference?
On proofreading: you don’t need capitals after semicolons. You should say “the girl” rather than “a girl”, otherwise every time you mention the hostage it sounds like punk-bishounen guy has grabbed a different girl. ““Let the girl go.” I yelled,” should have a comma after the speech instead of a full stop.
Overall: 4/10. Not a terrible idea but poorly executed. 今度も頑張ってね.
Devorum: A Trip to Mythmania
In which he escapes his tormentors but ends up trapped inside a carousel in an abandoned amusement park. This is a really weird sequence of events with no rationale behind them. Last week my story got pinged for being a series of actions with no purpose or character development, and I think my friend that you have the same problem.
On non-matching details, in your second to last paragraph Akaemon the newly formed centaur closes his eyes for a nap. In the next paragraph the centaur (Terry) has his eyes open and they’re screaming. Is the centaur napping or not? Also: “He was not surprised when he felt the coarse hair of a stallion beneath his hand.” Nope, the coarseness of horses’ coats doesn’t vary by gender. Don’t just make things up about real animals.
Overall: 4/10. Well done for coming up with a weird idea and not writing dreadfully, but without anything to back it up I really don’t care about what happens to these people.
Tyrannosaurus: The Dragon and the Drop and the Tests Therein
The most interesting thing in this story is that the world is ending, and yet that is the bit we get to hear about the least. The rest is just about how Mi-sun and our protag work too much and seem to be in a pretty crappy relationship. I didn’t really get the heartbeat metaphor, if it was a metaphor for something.
If your roller coaster really has a 1000 foot drop then it is more than twice as high as the highest roller coaster in the world today. Given there’s nothing to indicate that this story is set in the future or that different rules of engineering apply, I object to this nonsensical detail. Also in your final para you say your carousel horses are made of porcelain, which is an implausibly delicate material.
Overall: 3/10. Nothing happens but at least the writing isn’t bad.
This story, just like the roller coaster it features, comes to a disappointing and inexplicable end. On the way up I was all like, ooooh where’s this going, and then… what?
As for lack of attention to detail, the narrative switches from first person, to third, and then back again, multiple times. Whose perspective is this story being told from you maniac?
Overall: 3/10. Your three points were earned entirely in the first half.
Ironic Twist: Alycia
Ok so there are some clever images in this. I liked “the space in my throat where a sound should be is bare,” and the image of hundreds of ferris wheels spinning in the air is pretty cool.
But otherwise I have absolutely no idea what this was about. Maybe you crossed some weirdness threshold beyond which I couldn’t follow you. Maybe this is just a pile of nonsense.
Overall: 2/10. You lost me with this one.
Schneider Heim: Test of Courage
In which jealousy and paranoia are driving the protag insane, but by the end she’s getting a grip, so that’s nice. This fell pretty flat for me. It’s like a teeny tiny ferris wheel that doesn’t go very high and then the ride is over before you start to care. Jumping from one ferris wheel cab to another mid way through the ride is the only real action in the story, but this is kinda undone by the ‘it was just a hallucination’ ending.
There is some clunky prose: “and Ely imagined the flames scorching her pale skin to a lustrous bronze, like her girlfriend's.” Ely is her girlfriend, but the way you’ve written this makes it sound like there’s a third woman in this relationship. “Despite their relatively short time together, Ingrid had wormed her way into Ely's life that she couldn't imagine it without her girlfriend in the first place.” This is an abomination of a sentence.
Overall: 4/10. Not dreadful, just meh.
The protag here isn’t so much haunted by the ghosts of bad decisions so much as just hanging out with friendly ghosts. And that’s pretty much it. He’s hanging out, doing his job, kissing his girlfriend, when suddenly, shock horror, she’s a ghost. Except that’s not a problem for our protag, he’s cool with being haunted. The end. How dull.
As for non-matching details, ghost girl says “He told you I drowned in a pond fire?” No, no he didn’t. He said she died in a fire next to a pond. Tsk.
Unfortunately the list I compiled of awful wording choices is rather long: I don’t think “plumb-fat” is a word. What the heck does this sentence mean: “If he had eyes, I’m sure they’d have been all cobbley like he’s sitting on a birthday cake”? “I was hand slapped.” As opposed to bitch slapped? Foot slapped perhaps? “When she waved at me I went like a fruit fly to dog food.” The reason they’re called fruit flies is because they like fruit. “...flickered like submerged tree roots in a pond.” Soggy tree roots are pretty much the least flickery thing you could have picked for this simile. “...her with her filthy nails and green teeth, him with his eye sockets as empty as a bone-dry bird bath.” One of these things is a normal result of working outdoors and eating spinach for lunch, the other is absolutely horrifying. What is wrong with your protag that he’s not way more freaked out by all this?
Overall: 4/10. Dull and weirdly written.
This feels unfinished. We’ve got demo guy, the park coming down, a creepy child ghost who apparently hates coffee, and then it just stops. Is the ghost the spirit of the park they’re destroying? No one in the story seems to care about this, and accordingly neither do I.
You fail on detail because you have a man knocking down a building by hand, by himself. Why use machinery when you’ve got a sledgehammer. Way quicker, don’t know why we even bother with bulldozers.
Overall: 2/10. A story has to have an ending.
QuidProQuid: All the Vice President’s Men
I quite liked this one. Not a whole lot happens, but I like the description of the politician’s inner angst and the redemptive power of Disney is sweet. No complaints about the writing.
Overall: 6/10. Good job.
Sparksbloom: Test your Strength
This is a good story. Stuff happens, the emotions are genuine and relatable, the beginning and end are nicely balanced. If I have one minor complaint it’s that it took me a few paras to realise they’re at a high school reunion - it would have been better to stick this in the first para. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying reading this, and from smiling at the ending.
Overall: 8/10. Very nice.
For all of its weird inventiveness not a lot actually happens in this story. The bearded lady is an oracle who refuses to be an oracle for a bit and then someone nice turns up and she escapes. The half-faced man seemed important but he doesn’t really do anything.
At the start you say that “On the eighth night she refused bread and water and stayed in her tent so she would not miss the stars,” implying that she has the option of leaving the tent, but later she appears to be locked in a tank, guarded by no-eyes guy with a spear. Which is it? Tsk.
Overall: 3/10. This doesn’t make enough sense.
Fuubi: The Last Ride
This is sweet, although it feels a bit pointless. He’s scared of being in the sky, no wait he’s fine, not wait actually he’s not fine. There are a lot of words spent getting to our floating wonderland and then we just skip over the actual time they spend there. The fact that it’s Halloween night seems like an important point but this never comes up again. Are they going to die on the way down? Meh, I don’t care.
Overall: 5/10. Not terrible but not very interesting.
Fumblemouse: The Second Happiest Place On Earth
This is clever and well written. It’s weird but it makes sense. The creepy vibe is great without being overdone.
The Americans might not get it, but I am very pleased with your use of your flash rule. I will be laughing about this as I drag my rear end to work tomorrow.
Only complaint is a minor one - I didn’t get why “Mhhhhgh” needs to be repeated at the end.
Overall: 7/10. It’s possible that I like this just because you made good use of my flash rule, but hey, I still liked it.
I don’t have that much to say about this. It’s interesting enough and I’ve got no complaints about the writing, but it’s a bit meh. Why does he care so much about this particular role?
Overall: 6/10. Not bad, didn’t grab me.
Hawklad: Break the Gears
This was gross and fun. A great weird idea convincingly described. I kinda want more about the protag’s backstory, but hey, I enjoyed reading it.
Overall: 7/10. Just the right amount of gore and weird while still making sense.
Thranguy: The View from Valhalla
The humour in this comedy rests, unfortunately, entirely on vomit jokes. Which don’t quite make sense, because why would a stationary roller coaster make you vomit? Apart from that we’ve got Rob being a dick and half a coming-out story, which doesn’t add up to much.
Overall: 5/10. Bleugh.
Pippin: Necks Door Down
Well that’s sweet, monsters can fall in love as well. But it’s a fairly unexciting end to your oh-poo poo-a-vampire-is-on-the-loose set up.
I’m also bothered by the implausibility of killer monsters signing up for poo poo jobs essentially as freaks in a freak show. Your monsters are simultaneously very scary and very childlike, a mismatch which means the whole story doesn’t quite work for me.
Overall: 5/10. Cute but not much else.
Sham bam bamina: Behind the Paint
This jumps all over the place and doesn’t quite add up to the story. Way too many, “wait, what?” moments. For example: “A black shirt wasn't the best thing to wear in this shimmering heat, nor was the grease paint that clung slickly to Jake's face. But Jake wasn't wearing them – he was them, and so were the brother and sister who had come with him.” Is he or is he not wearing a black shirt and grease paint? Is his name Jake Mathis or Jake Tanner? “Tad grinned in monochrome.” As in he grinned in black and white? “Gripping the chair. Stripes from the belt. A woman crying louder from the other room.” Where the gently caress are we now?
Overall: 1/10. I had no idea what you were talking about.
|# ¿ Oct 24, 2017 07:55|
|# ¿ Oct 24, 2017 18:19|
6th dm/loss in a row and I have to ask. What does it take to not get a dm?
Bearing in mind that I am very new to this, my advice based on my one week of judging would be to focus on execution. Don’t worry about having a great idea or using crazy metaphors, just try and write something simple and mistake free.
|# ¿ Oct 24, 2017 19:41|
I get it I get it you did not like my story like a tapir hates a mailbox.
I have already forgotten what your story was about and I don’t know what a tapir is, soz
|# ¿ Oct 24, 2017 19:49|
I make hooks from bones and tendons, press my fingers and toes into the crevices in the cold rock. Hips leaning into the cliff I arch backwards to look straight up at the stars above me. My scalp shivers as the wind runs its cool fingers through my hair.
The dreams rustle like they are laughing at me. Each one is a picture drawn on paper and pinned to the rock. There are millions of them, fluttering on the towering cliff-face like the wings of nesting sea birds. Some are childish images of rocketships, dragons and imaginary cities. Others show darker desires, things secretly coveted.
This place is a kind of oracle, they say it predicts which dreams will come true. If you climb high enough to reach the picture of the thing you want who knows, you might just get it.
I come here often, at night, to climb. All day I am sensible and patient. A selfless family man. Restrained. But here I can give into greed and longing, let my desires fill my veins like a hot spiced wine. Tonight my object is a man, a man who I am not allowed, a man who loves my best friend.
She is here too, climbing just below me. Her brother is dying. There is nothing they can do but she comes here anyway, to indulge in hope and seek respite from reality. I have known and loved them both since we were all at high school. We cried hot tears together when he got his diagnosis.
We are climbing fast, long limbs spread like spiders on the slick black rock. Muscles burning, I use every bone in my fingers and toes to find purchase and lever myself up. I am intoxicated with yearning, unfettered by thoughts of consequences. My face flushes and my lips draw back from my teeth as I picture myself reaching it, obtaining him.
I look over my shoulder at my friend. She is reaching for the picture of a cure, one leg held out sideways to counterbalance her outstretched arm, eyes wide with desperate hope. As she pulls the paper from the rock it turns to ash, leaking out from between her fingers and swirling away like dark flakes of bitter snow. Her face collapses into grief. She lets go of the cliff and falls backwards into the wind’s waiting arms. Will she accept the oracle’s answer now, this time?
From close above I hear the oracle whispering to me, a dry susurrus like ancient parchment, calling me back to my climb. I settle my feet onto two tiny ledges level with my hips and bring my hands together into a crack above my head. I sink my weight down, legs folded and arms straight, then explode upwards, burning the last of the strength in my exhausted muscles for one final lunge. For a moment I am weightless, I feel nothing but the fierce joy of finally reaching out to grasp what I want, to snatch it away from the grip of reality and make it mine.
My hands close on nothing but air. I pushed off wrong, sending my centre of gravity away from the cliff instead of straight up. The oracle hisses and a sudden gust of wind makes the hanging papers rattle angrily.
I twist my body in the air and follow my friend down, leaving the paper dreams behind. As I fall I carefully fold up my secret longing and tuck it back into a pocket in my heart. It is better this way.
Prompt: Page of Pentacles (Tarot of the Silicon Dawn). Must be about a friendship being tested.
|# ¿ Oct 29, 2017 07:16|
Requesting Crits and uhh pointing out your prompt never called for emotion and strong characters.I'd specifically like to know why it was a DM, if anyone can help me with that.
My two cents: I thought your story this week was much better - it seemed to me that you had tried hard to take on board the suggestions that Sitting Here and Crabrock had given in the fiction advice thread. So its not much of crit but my thought for you would be to keep going in that vein.
|# ¿ Oct 31, 2017 08:13|
Word limit this week?
|# ¿ Oct 31, 2017 18:23|
|# ¿ Nov 1, 2017 00:49|
Thanks for the crits Sparksbloom and Hawklad
|# ¿ Nov 1, 2017 18:26|
An Unpulled Thread
The wind rushes up the smooth curve of the wall beneath my dangling feet. I come here often, to this one stretch where the wall is bordered by a metal fence rather than a solid perspex barrier. I slide my legs out between the bars, rest my chin on my folded arms, and gaze out over the endless forest.
Behind me is my town, a small self-sufficient human paradise. Its bucolic appearance belies the complex network of pipes and sensors that run beneath the soil and through the highly engineered buildings. Carefully designed plants grow enough food and medicine to meet the population’s needs. The town’s central AI ensures that everything within the wall is clean and orderly. I like to pretend I know how the system works, but to be honest if it broke I would have no idea how to fix it.
I am contented with my life. I have friends, a family who need me, a good job on the town council. I would fight fiercely to protect these mundane, precious things.
There are tribes of people living in the forest too, but we don’t have any contact with them. Or rather, we’re not supposed to have any contact with them. People sometimes do leave, turning their backs on the safety of the wall and our comfortable, orderly way of life. I have always judged those who make such a choice harshly. Leaving causes so much pain, why would you do that to yourself? To us?
A flock of brightly coloured parrots bursts squawking with alarm from the huge tree directly beneath my feet, startled by something. A sudden curiosity overtakes me. The forest is dangerous, but it’s not like we never enter it – a few are allowed out to hunt game, and for the rest of us exploring the relatively safe glades near the main gate is permitted. There are other ways in and out, all securely locked, but as a senior member of the town’s administration I have some access privileges.
I descend through the sterile corridors within the wall towards one such fortified door now. It opens close to the spot below where I was sitting. There are deer tracks in the soft earth, even I can tell they were moving fast. Did someone have permission to be out hunting today…? I walk cautiously forward, feet rustling in the leaf litter between the huge trunks.
“Come with me,” says a man’s voice, right by my ear. I get such a fright I make a weird and unattractive “ungh” noise and my legs go stupid and wobbly (thanks body, whatever happened to fight or flight?). He looks at me, clearly surprised that I had failed to notice him sooner.
“Come with me,” he says again, more urgently. He is about my height, muscular, with long hair and dark, intense eyes. He is wearing rough hand-made clothes, nothing like the sleek, sensor-laden body suits that we wear inside the wall. What is a tribesman doing here, so close to a town?
“What?” I reply, one arm leaning against a tree to support my wobbly knees.
“There’s a predator nearby, I was about to move when I saw you come out of the wall. C’mon.” He grabs my hand and starts pulling. poo poo, I think, what kind? What is it? There are bears and other dangerous, but familiar, carnivores in the forest, but there are also those newer, more horrifying things. Inside the wall most know little about them, uninterested in history and the reasons the walled towns were built in the first place.
I go with him, weaving through the trees, jogging to keep up. There is a sudden growl from behind us and we both start sprinting. I daren’t look to see what it is, my only thought is one of panic that I am going to be left behind.
Ahead of me the man is climbing a rope ladder hanging down a thick trunk. Fear makes me clumsy as I start to climb up after him. He reaches down, grabs the back of my body suit and hauls me up. I collapse onto the tiny platform as he pulls the ladder up behind us. None of the predators I can think of are climbers – hence why hunters build these hides – but it makes me feel safer nonetheless. We are both breathing hard, but the forest is quiet, nothing is chasing us.
I feel like I have fallen to the bottom of a deep green ocean. It is still and quiet, sounds muffled by the layers of moss growing up the ancient trunks. Tiny shafts of sunlight flicker through the leaves as the wind rustles through the canopy, high above us.
I sit staring at him in the dim green light, at the shape of him. With the post-adrenaline rush a sudden knot of desire forms in the pit of my stomach. Distracted, I run my hand through my hair, messing up my tidy ponytail. He is looking at me too, appraising, a slight smile on his lips. God those eyes. Neither of us are supposed to be here, but the forest doesn’t care.
“What the gently caress is going on here?” I think. I need to go home and make dinner, I said I was just popping out for a walk. I think about my comfortable life. How easily it could be broken.
He leans forward, about to say something. The platform is small, our bodies close.
“Can you help me get back to the wall?” I ask. He sits back, ever so slightly.
“Sure. I think it should be safe now.” He understand the risks, must know what it was, but I don’t ask, reluctant to show my ignorance.
We walk back. He’s holding my hand again. His hand is warm, just the hint of a caress in the way his fingers touch mine. At the entrance I turn and thank him. A deep desire pulls at me, but to act upon it would be insane, an impossibility. I unlock the heavy door and step back inside the wall, watch him walk away.
So, here I am again, sitting on the edge of the wall, feet hanging in space, looking out over the forest. I can barely remember the man’s face now, just the intensity of his eyes when he looked at me. In my mind I get out my memory of that moment, that un-voiced invitation. I savour it. I’ve done this a thousand times, turning this memory over and over, perhaps changing it into something it never was. I don’t care. It’s my memory, I’ll do with it what I like.
Ask me again, I think. My answer won’t change, I love my contented life. But ask me again.
Prompt: Oyster ice cream. Someone wants something, but doesn’t get it.
|# ¿ Nov 5, 2017 01:30|
|# ¿ Nov 7, 2017 00:03|
|# ¿ Nov 7, 2017 03:19|
You are insufferably smug Sham Bam Bamina. Brawl me.
Oh also thanks for the PM, "My story was poo poo, but I'm surprised that you weren't able to follow its basics." After reading your kind explanation of your shitful story I have revised my assessment of it downwards to: brawl me.
Yoruichi fucked around with this message at 07:36 on Nov 7, 2017
|# ¿ Nov 7, 2017 07:15|
Toxx up so I know I'm not wasting my time.
|# ¿ Nov 7, 2017 08:43|
Looking forward to listening to this is getting me through my lovely afternoon of pointless administrivia at work 😁
|# ¿ Nov 15, 2017 03:17|
|# ¿ Nov 21, 2017 04:48|
In the Belly of the Whale
My cheek burns where his knuckles broke my skin and my mouth tastes of blood. Fat raindrops sizzle off my hot skin as I sprint down the road towards the beach, asphalt biting my bare feet, trailing steam and furious tears.
Salt wind hits my face as I run onto the beach. The approaching typhoon has turned the sky over the ocean a menacing yellow grey. Clouds bloated with rain sink low, skimming the frothing waves.
Fists balled at my sides I stand at the edge of the sea and scream into the wind. Growing up in this lovely, vicious little town I used to always do this, come running down to the beach to hurl my anger and frustration into the sea, as if it would take them away and bring me back something better.
I feel nauseous with shame as I picture the smug looks my friends will give each other when they find out the bastard actually hit me. Secrets don’t last long here. I’ve known most of them my whole life but I know they hate me, really. A loser who can’t give up on the only man who’s ever paid her attention.
I pull off my thin t-shirt and shorts and step into the shallows. The sea feels electric as it swirls around my knees, foam glowing white in the eerie light. I crouch down and slide into the shallow, churning water, arms outstretched, letting the salt and sand scrub the tears from my face. I wonder if he will come looking for me.
The current pulls at me as I drift just under the surface; much, much stronger than usual. I go to stand up, but instead of finding the sandy bottom right beneath my feet my legs straighten into empty ocean. Fear runs up my spine as I realise how far I am from the shore. My clothing lying crumpled on the sand is already just a dot, receding fast. A wave breaks over my head and suddenly I’m thrashing and gasping for breath. Bitter satisfaction twists in my gut as I picture him finding my t-shirt on the beach tomorrow morning and realising it was his fault.
The current is swirling around my legs, tugging me down, the sea rushing inwards as if draining into the earth. Huge white teeth set in black skin are rising out of the waves around me. I open my mouth to scream but instead inhale saltwater as monstrous jaws close above me, swallowing the ocean and taking me with it.
I tumble down and down, bubbles streaming from my nose and mouth. With a sudden rush of water I am washed up onto solid ground in pitch black darkness. I lie gasping for air, shivering with shock.
A small sob escapes with my ragged breathing, followed by another, louder, and suddenly I’m bawling like a child. Where am I? Bastard, I think, it’s your fault. Why didn’t you come after me?
“Shh, you’re safe now,” says a voice from the dark. A matchhead flares into life, illuminating the thin face of a young woman. She’s wearing only worn cotton panties and an ill-fitting bra too big for her skinny body. There are old bruises on her pale skin, like someone dug their fingers far too hard into the soft flesh on her arms.
Carefully she lights the greasy candle she’s carrying, sits next to me and places it on the ground in front of us. In the dim light I can see we’re in a huge cavern. The walls glimmer wet and red in the flickering candlelight.
“Why are you crying?” she asks.
“Everyone hates me,” I say. “I hate this loving town.”
She leans over, gently strokes my wet hair. Her eyes are green like mine.
“It’s his fault you know,” she says. “All of it. He’s the only reason you’ve stayed here. And look how he repays you!” She touches the cut on my cheek, pressing painfully with her fingernails.
I open my mouth to argue, to automatically insist that he loves me, but no words come out. Instead I hug my knees to my chest, try to stop shivering.
“You should kill him,” she whispers. Her words reverberate around the cavern, a low susurrus coming at me from all directions.
I jerk away from her. She leans forward, following me. She crawls over me, her body pushing me down onto my back on the slick ground, hips grinding against mine, wet hair hanging down around my face.
“Kill him! It’s the only way to escape!” she hisses, sharp teeth glinting in the candlelight.
“I can’t!” I yell, shoving her in the chest to push her off me.
“You’re weak! You’ll never get out of here!” Her eyes flash with anger and the candle flickers and goes out.
The ground jolts beneath me. In the darkness I hear the wet slapping of her running feet. I’m struggling to stand on the shaking ground. A grey light appears above me, like dawn breaking through thick fog. I see her running towards it, up a tunnel out of the cavern.
I stagger to my feet and run after her. The mouth of the tunnel is yawning open. Pointed teeth are silhouetted against the sky.
“Wait!” I scream, but the sea is rushing in now, turning the tunnel floor into a rising river. I lunge forward and grab her wrist, but she twists away, laughing, swimming up the waterfall. The sea surges over me, saltwater fills my nose and mouth. It’s your fault, I think, as my breath escapes in a stream of bubbles.
The house is dark when I get back, the storm has knocked the power out. He’s not there. I dig a candle out from under the kitchen sink, light it. There’s a note on the table. I read the first line, “I’m so sorry…” before scrunching the paper in my fist and tossing it into the bin. I look with disgust at the dirty dishes in the sink, open a drawer and run my fingers over the handles of our kitchen knives. My wet hair drips saltwater onto the floor as I sit down at the table to wait for him.
The rain pounds on the roof. The candle is guttering by the time I hear the door open and his footsteps in the hall. I touch my raw cheek and tighten my grip on the handle of the knife that lies in my lap. It’s just like she said, I think.
The candlelight spreads up his broad chest as he walks through the kitchen doorway. I lunge forward, plunging the knife in deep, right under the solar plexus. Blood gushes out over my hands. The pain must be awful. But the look of pure anguish on his face is perfect.
“Shh,” I whisper as his knees crumple and we sink to the floor. I cradle his head in my lap as his hands paw at me, eyes staring longingly into mine. I knew he loved me, I think, as the candle gives one last flicker and goes out.
|# ¿ Nov 21, 2017 07:53|
Thanks Djeser, good fight Sham Bam!
Regarding being insufferably smug, erm, as you were : )
Yoruichi fucked around with this message at 19:46 on Nov 22, 2017
|# ¿ Nov 22, 2017 18:38|
Prompt: https://thunderdome.cc/?story=3422 and https://thunderdome.cc/?story=4320
Sam’s vision blacks out. Then, like a train hurtling towards him the light comes rushing back in, bright white and blinding. He blinks to clear the red spots from him eyes. He’s standing in the middle of a huge room, its black and white checkered floor stretching away to impossibly distant walls. His rapid breathing is the only thing disturbing the silence.
The last thing he can remember is a stripe of blue light from the chasing police car flashing across Jess’s face as his car started to spin out. He’d flung his arm out, letting go of the steering wheel in an desperate bid to protect her.
“Hello. My name is Anne. I will be your guide,” says woman’s voice from behind him. Sam spins around. The woman is tall and wears a long, white sleeveless tunic. One half of her face and body is terribly scarred, the skin taut and shiny like melted plastic. Her eyes are like two deep wells, dark and still.
“Where’s Jess?” Sam asks. “Is she ok?”
“I cannot tell you, the rules forbid it,” the woman states, but her voice is full of sadness.
She turns and walks away. Sam stumbles after her.
“What’s that you’re holding?” she asks without turning around.
Sam unclenches his fist, looks with surprise at the pair of diamond earrings lying on his palm.
The alarm had been blaring and he could hear the police sirens approaching as he’d smashed his swaddled fist through the last glass display case. His mates had already fled, tires of waiting cars screeching, but he’d wanted those diamond earrings so bad. Jess had screamed at him to hurry up as he’d leapt back through the broken store front window and thrown himself into the driver’s seat.
The cops had appeared at the far end of the street just as he hurled the car around the bend at the other, too late. Cold fear had filled him when he’d seen in the rear view mirror that they were chasing him. Panicked, he’d slammed his foot down, hurling his souped up little piece of poo poo Carolla through the sleeping suburbs, flashing blue lights close behind.
Don’t be so greedy, his Nan had said to him when he’d gotten caught nicking stuff as a kid. But he couldn’t help it, wanting things. Stealing them had seemed like a no-brainer. But poo poo had gotten more serious since he’d started high school. Hitting up the jewellery store hadn’t been his idea but he’d gone along with it because he didn’t want the others to think he was a dick.
Jess was the loser in the group, an awkward hanger-on who couldn’t take a hint to piss off. Ending up with her as the lookout in his car was the other boys’ way of punishing him for being hesitant about this robbery. But Sam didn’t mind. He thought Jess was really pretty. He wished he could talk to her more, without the others around.
She had been sobbing, pulling on his arm and yelling at him to stop when he’d lost control of the car around that last corner.
Sam looks at the earrings he’s holding. They’ve reached a grey elevator door, standing incongruously in the huge empty space. He is suddenly very afraid.
“I just wanted to give them to Jess!” he says, holding out the earrings. “I never meant for this to happen!”
“You knew the rules,” is all Anne says.
The elevator door slides open and Anne gestures him inside.
“Please, just tell me what happened to Jess,” Sam says, his voice breaking.
Anne hesitates, a rare occurrence. He’s a mere boy, she thinks to herself. She steps closer as the elevator door begins to close on Sam’s tear streaked face. She says to him, quietly, “Jess is going to be fine,” before sending the elevator down.
|# ¿ Nov 27, 2017 09:02|
inter prompt: never eat anything bigger than your head
Mosebjo skewered the heads of his enemies onto a stolen pike and set them up to roast over his camp fire. He alone had triumphed in this battle and tonight he would feast like a warrior. The skin on the heads bubbled, lips blistering and pealing away from yellow teeth. Mosebjo's stomach growled. He rammed his sword through the eye socket of the first head and slid it off the pike. Using his dagger he cut away the jaw bone and turning the skull upside down dug deep into brain within. He brought a soggy pink chunk to his mouth. How long had he waited for this moment, to finally prove himself as a man? He slide the mess into his mouth and chewed. "Urgh," he thought, "brains are disgusting."
|# ¿ Nov 28, 2017 08:19|
"Done without delay; immediate."
|# ¿ Nov 29, 2017 07:59|
In. Bad at writing characters that aren't just outlines of people.
|# ¿ Dec 1, 2017 06:56|
Going Forward, gently caress This poo poo
Hot blood runs over her hand as she rams the red pen deep into Charles’ neck. His scream is the loudest noise that anyone has ever made in this open plan hot desk corporate coloured white collar torture box.
“What the gently caress is this mess?” she shouts, brandishing a document with Fortnightly Report written in an ugly style guide mandated font on the front page. She yanks the pen back out of his neck and watches with satisfaction as he slumps off his grimy computer chair onto the industrial grade carpet tiles.
Today, somewhere in the middle of her 43rd year, had started just like every other day. Ruth had snapped awake in the predawn darkness, heart racing and mind whirring at a thousand miles per hour. Good morning exhaustion, anxiety, she’d whispered to her two constant companions.
The other office dwellers are frozen at their desks, staring at her open-mouthed. One or two are cautiously reaching for their cell phones. She realises, with a moment of perfect clarity, that she hates them all.
All day every day she struggles to breathe amongst these oxygen thieves. Listens patiently to their complaints, massages their egos, gives them lovingly made feedback sandwiches. And they take it all, and more, so that by the end of the day she has nothing left, nothing to defend herself with against the anxieties that sting her like wasps.
“Why do you expect me to do everything for you?” she yells at Charles’ corpse, kicking at it with her smart work shoes.
She understands now, it’s so obvious, that he hated her too. An angry red blush creeps up her face at the memory of the time she and Charles had eaten lunch together on the waterfront. They’d talked about his kids and she’d opened up about how much she missed her ex. Charles must have been laughing at her the whole time.
“Ruth, you’re late for our meeting,” says Jane, oblivious, appearing at the doorway to the boardroom. Jane liked to let her know, every day, in a thousand tiny ways, that she was a failure.
“ARRRGH!” Ruth screams, shoving over the orange container of civil defence emergency supplies that Sharon insisted on storing irritatingly and unnecessarily right behind her desk. She pulls out the sledgehammer. She’d always wondered why there was sledgehammer in there, nestled between the emergency food and foil blankets.
“gently caress.” Whack goes the sledgehammer into the ergonomic keyboard which nonetheless makes her wrists hurt.
“THIS.” With a satisfying whoosh she sweeps the sledgehammer horizontally across her desk, scattering computer bits and the pile of pointless reports awaiting her pointless approval across the floor.
“poo poo.” Ruth hurls the sledgehammer through the 14th floor window towards the view of the city’s harbour that they were supposed to be so grateful to have but could never enjoy due to their eyeballs being chained to their computer screens.
With a shudder the tightly clenched fist of her self control finally loses its grip. Righteous anger wells up from her feet, making the muscles of her legs swell, veins popping, until they rip through the thin fabric of her smart black trousers. The muscles on her back spasm horribly under her tastefully patterned shirt. Her fingers crack as they elongate, fingernails erupting into long claws.
Screaming, she runs towards the smashed window and hurls herself into the open air just as huge black feathered wings unfold from her back with the sound of snapping bones.
Her wings catch the wind and she soars up past the building’s blank glass face. The feeling of freedom rushes through her mind like a bucket of freezing water, washing everything clean and leaving her shivering and euphoric. She opens her mouth to laugh and is surprised by the huge gout of flame that bursts out, setting the air conditioning unit on the roof of the office on fire. It was always too loving cold in there anyway, she thinks.
She wheels above the thousands of other miserable bureaucrats in their high-rise prisons, trailing flames through the air as she laughs, tears streaming down her face. She turns her back on them, on the petty bullying and hopelessness, and lets her black wings carry her out over the deep blue water.
High above the harbour she spreads her wings wide and hovers on a warm updraft, looking back at the city. Cloying smoke curls around her face; the black feathers of her wings are alight. She closes her eyes as she feels the wind start to slip through the holes left by the flames.
With a final rush of flame her wings lose their grip on the air, and she drops from the sky. Like a comet she burns up as she falls, trailing a long tail of smoke and ashes. She hits the water with a hiss and sinks, peacefully, gratefully, into the quiet darkness.
|# ¿ Dec 3, 2017 05:11|
inter prompt: balls, inspector
“Bleugh,” thought Mosebjo as he wiped the last disgusting bits of brain off his tongue. There had to be a better way to assert his eternal manly dominance over the souls of his defeated enemies. Plus he was still quite hungry.
“Hmmm,” he thought, inspecting the headless bodies that surrounded his campfire. “Maybe I’ll try the balls.”
|# ¿ Dec 4, 2017 18:47|
Thanks for the crit Exmond
|# ¿ Dec 5, 2017 08:18|
I will help judge if you don’t already have judges the second and third lined up
|# ¿ Dec 12, 2017 18:22|
interprompt: shot down, in a blaze of glory
Mosebjo awoke in the cold dawn light. His campfire had burnt down to ashes and the rising sun was casting grotesque shadows over the headless corpses that surrounded him. He stood and surveyed the blood soaked battlefield below.
A loan figure standing amidst the carnage caught his eye. It was a horse, its dead rider's booted foot stuck firm in one of the stirrups. Mosebjo could see a track in the dirt across the battlefield where the horse had dragged the corpse as it struggled to get away, but it had become entangled with a pile of bodies and anchored the poor animal to the spot.
The horse's ears tracked Mosebjo suspiciously as he approached. Good, he thought, it has not given up on life yet. He approached its shoulder slowly, eyes down, non-threatening. Carefully he pulled his dagger from his belt and slid it along the horse's side. With a flick he cut the leather girth and the saddle slumped from the horse and onto the pile of bodies, sending up a cloud of black flies. The horse darted forward with fright but Mosebjo had a firm grip on its reins and pulled it around to face him.
As he scratched the horse's wither to calm it he noticed a fat green caterpillar crawling in it's shaggy mane. Gently he lifted the insect up with his thick, rough fingers. "I will call you Caterpillar," he said to the horse, before popping the wriggling morsel into his mouth. It was disgusting, but so was everything else he'd eaten recently.
"Time to go Caterpillar," he said, swinging himself onto the horse's back and turning its head to face the wide open steppe beyond the battlefield's edge. The horse was exhausted but its desire to escape this horrible place spurred it on, and they galloped forward. Joy filled Mosebjo as the wind hit his face, at the exact same time as an arrow thwacked into the thick leather armor covering his chest.
As he fell from Caterpillar's back he caught site of a lone archer, standing up from where he had been lying concealed amongst the dead.
"gently caress," thought Mosebjo, as the ground smacked him in the back.
|# ¿ Dec 18, 2017 23:06|
Crits for week 280
In order of submission
I had fun judging this. Sorry I can’t be bothered to draw you fancy graphs. Hit me up in IRC if you want to know more about my opinions about food.
I like the cool post-apocalyptic setting by it’s undermined by the fact that you say that “just a few weeks ago” everything was normal, and now she’s a knife wielding bad-rear end. What the heck happened and how has she managed to adjust so fast?
This is a bad sentence: “Lyra lied next to the now-dead demon, motionless.” Lied should be “lay”. “Now-dead” should just be “dead”. Why is she just lying there? Is she badly injured or just really sleepy?
At the end of your story you say that the “ash and smoke was gone”. (It should be "were gone"). Smoke disappearing is fine but removing a thick layer of ash that covers a whole town is quite a thing. Where has it gone? Is it all piled up outside the town? Was there a giant storm that for some reason didn’t wake her up?
I have never played Diablo so your ending is lost on me. Someone familiar with Diablo might have enjoyed this a lot more, I dunno.
If this story were food it would be plain toast with nothing on it.
Thranguy: Time Flies Like a Bullet
This is pretty cool. The fact that you know he’s definitely going to die and the suspense of waiting for his decision works well. I like the way the backstory is revealed piece by piece, and the twist at the end. However, while it’s interesting and well structured, for me it plays out a bit too slowly.
If this story were food it would be toast with jam. Good but not amazing.
Yay this is great! I loved the deadpan humour and the way the ship’s name keeps changing. I was genuinely interested in where this was going.
But the ending is not as good as the rest of it. It’s not clear if Jamison was just guessing about the null zone or if he really did understand what was going on, and something about the ending just didn’t read right to me.
If this story were food it would delicious bacon and eggs where you find a bit of eggshell in the last mouthful.
Apophenium: The Effects of Stressors on the Creativity Displayed in Simple Logic Problems
This was weird and didn’t seem to have any point. Someone volunteers for a simple study in order to get $50, then promptly goes insane, stays at the lab for a month, apparently making GBS threads in a bucket, and then gets turfed out on his arse. The end. What?
Apart from punctuation errors at least it’s not badly written.
If this story were food it would be lettuce on toast.
BabyRyoga: The Rightful Heir
This is not good. It’s like a mildly interesting story (real life pokemon battle) nested inside a dull and nonsensical story (two officials in an unexplained lab gently caress around making bad decisions but then bureaucracy saves them from any consequences).
The most interesting part - what is the experiment about? Who are the boys? What are they doing there? - goes unexplained.
If this story were food it would be watery scrambled eggs, with a tomato in the middle for some reason.
Big scary monsters: Call of Duty
Lol! This was a little slow to get going - the first para I thought was a bit overwrought - but once it got going it was great. I like the stream of consciousness paragraph, that worked well. The trolls vs. elves fight was nicely done. The punchline was predictable but still well delivered.
If this story were food it would be hash browns. Yum.
Kaishai: Phoenix Sonata
This is genuinely lovely, I really enjoying reading it.
I’m not going to compare it to food, that would be rude.
I like the idea behind this, and way the aliens and the setting are described. I like the slowly building tension, but then the ending falls flat. It’s a promise to do something in the future, whereas I would’ve rather read about her stabbing an alien now.
If this story were food it would be like a good meal where you really want dessert but then there isn’t any dessert.
The Saddest Rhino: Rage Quit, Restart
This is quite clever, and nicely written. It didn’t really grab me though.
If this story were food it would be colby cheese.
Well this is a depressing one night stand. I like the way you’ve portrayed the awkwardness of a very intimate conversation with someone who is essentially a total stranger. I enjoyed reading this but I felt like there wasn’t quite enough to it, it seems more like the start of a longer story than a single self-contained story.
I’ve been largely ignoring proofreading errors this week but the fact that the end of this sentence is missing is, er, problematic: He throws his shirt over his face and says, “.
If this story were food it would be cold leftovers eaten alone.
Uranium Phoenix: The Die is Cast
This is cool! But it feels like it’s just the set up for a longer story. I like the characters and the sci fi colosseum setting. I want to know what happens next.
If this story were food it would just be an entree (noting that everywhere outside of North America entree means the starter that you have before the main meal).
Sebmojo: Infinite spin
Oh lol this appears to be a sequel to Piss. This was a fun read, and a great interpretation of the prompt.
If this story were food it would be, naturally, spontaneous backyard BBQ and beersies.
Dr. Kloctopussy: Brother and Sisters
Wow this is pretty dark. The idea of a city sinking level by level is a great interpretation of the prompt. The sense of Anya’s guilt is really well done.
But I was slightly confused as to what Baby Yaga is and why she appears to be planning to eat Anya when she said the deal was “you stay with me, be my servant.”
If this story were food it would be dark chocolate, good and bitter.
Bad Seafood: Opuntia
So he’s the guy she’s waiting for, but after 11 years she doesn’t recognise him and he doesn’t say anything? Whyyyyyy? I thought the setting was beautifully described and I was pretty interested in these characters, but then he just leaves.
If this story were food it would be a mouthful of something delicious, but too small to be satisfying.
Siddhartha Glutamate: For All The Cows
Why are the characters in this story cows? Why does a cow playing the violin badly mean there is still hope? Why cows?!
If this story were food it would be banana flavoured milk.
Cute. Admirable commitment to poo jokes. Not a whole lot else going on though.
If this story were food it would be a McD’s cheeseburger.
Fuubi: No Reason to Try
Late and unfinished and bad. In my view submitting something, anything, is better than failing to submit at all, so I give you two points for turning up.
If this story were food it would just be a collection of ingredients waiting for someone to make them into dinner.
|# ¿ Dec 19, 2017 06:33|
|# ¿ Nov 28, 2020 06:13|
|# ¿ Dec 19, 2017 06:48|