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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Early post for post finding if flerp hasnt already bumped this to page 2

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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


If you can't handle me at my fjiest, you don't deserve me at my gjiest.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


i'm gonna mod sass the gently caress out of this thread.

sebmojo is a big ol' butt

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Thranguy posted:

Thunderdome CCXXXVIII: Lie to Me

Judges:
Thranguy
newtestleper
?


it's me. i'm the question mark.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


BeefSupreme posted:

also give me a flash rule

your narrator cannot be unreliable because of drugs, mental illness, or knowingly lying to the audience.

(this is a good rule for all entries to follow. yes it's hard.)

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Thranguy posted:

I've not no idea how pregNANT ought to be said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EShUeudtaFg

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3758791&userid=29698&perpage=40&pagenumber=3#post458964012

please ban me.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002



whose dick do I have to suck around here to get banned? sebmojo is a bad hombre <- mod sass plz ban

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


sebmojo posted:

thanks for linking a random tdome page in support of your petition to be a butt you're request is granted

your computer probably hasn't finished loading the page because you are old and your computer is from 1942 it's an enigma machine in case you didn't get that

https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3758791&pagenumber=40&perpage=40#post458964012

does that link work? it's a link to my toxx.

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


"in" is in all 3 of those URLs u dumb it's right between someh and gawful

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


crabrock posted:

"in" is in all 3 of those URLs u dumb it's right between someh and gawful

i'm back. give me a song.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


in with • Frotteurisitic Disorder

yeah, you know what time it is

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Hook, Line, and Sinker
615 words

Scattered amongst shipwrecks you’ll find every earthly possession but love. The fish that flit through the barnacle-covered smokestacks know no affection and wish for nothing in a mate. They simply rub up against each other when it’s time, and their bodies know what to do.

I wish other people would hurry and catch up to fish.

All winter I’ve waited for the first nice day, and it’s finally here. I’ve gleefully kicked my goose-down parka under the bed and unpacked my little sun dress: the one with bare shoulders and only a small string across the back. I put it on and twirl. It almost feels like cheating, like I’m wearing nothing at all.

When it snows, everybody bundles up. With that much padding, we might as well be in the NFL. Any contact with another human being feels like smashing into the defensive line, nothing stirs inside me, no biological stoker throws coal into my boiler. It’s such a waste too, because Christmas is the busiest shopping season. You can’t get on a mall elevator and not have somebody violating all sorts of social norms.

But today, when I’m wearing what only barely legally counts as clothes, opportunity abounds.

I head to the mall to feast on the buffet. I squeeze past people on the escalator, lingering for a second longer than necessary as my thin dress presses into the arm of some unsuspecting mother of four. I find the busies aisle in the shoe store and make my way through, biting my lip as I my thighs brush the back of a woman trying to shove her feet into heels two sizes too small. She’s so focused, she doesn’t even notice when I double back and do it again.

Giddy, I head to the pet store. I try not to run to the back, where they keep the fish. I push past the snotspewers and kneebashers and slip behind a moody looking bitch in a college T-shirt. She’s staring into an empty tank.

I point to the little porcelain shipwreck. “There he is,” I say. “Cute lil’ guy.”

She furrows her brow and leans in closer. “In the boat?”

She’s searching so hard she doesn’t notice me press into her.

“Yes, right behind the little cannon.” I’m surprised she can’t feel my heat. I reach out and take her hand, our bare arms touching. I guide her finger to the imaginary fish. “See, right there.” I get a little bolder, shift my weight so that I’m basically straddling her leg. She’s an idiot, for sure, looking at the tank like it’s some magic eye that will suddenly pop out if she stares at it hard enough. I’m practically grinding on her hip and she’s searching a tank clearly labeled “Blue Crayfish - Out of Stock” for a camouflage guppy.

She blows a puff of air and her bangs fly for a second. She darts up, and I take a step back, ready to bolt if I have to. Sometimes I get a little cocky, but the look in her eyes isn’t anger.

“I give up,” she says. “I don’t even like fish anyway, they’re stupid.”

I shrug. “Sorry, I swear it’s right there.”

She hurries away, looks back over her shoulder at me once before disappearing out the doors.

I laugh, grab a can of cat food since I’m here, and head to the checkout line.

The cashier rings me up. “Find everything you were looking for?”

I laugh. “Yup.”

I reach into my purse for my wallet, but it’s not there. I see the girl in the parking lot, full sprint toward a waiting car, my wallet in her grubby paws. “Mother fucker.”

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


pitch: a mountain in a relationship with a fungal colony that is expanding into its core, threatening to kill it but also they are in love

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Sitting Here posted:

Q before I answer: are you in?

i thought it was mandatory

Sitting Here posted:

Because someone asked, yes you have to sign up to do a pitch.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


in, flash, and to get 1 redemption before i write this story.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


THIS IS NOT MY ENTRY THIS WEEK! THIS IS MY REDEMPTION FOR WEEK 245, IT'S ALL ABOUT ME, FUCKERS

crabrock posted:

in, flash, and to get 1 redemption before i write this story.
STOP READING IT IF YOU ARE A JUDGE.


crabrock posted:

pitch: a mountain in a relationship with a fungal colony that is expanding into its core, threatening to kill it but also they are in love

Belonging
678 words

The mushroom never felt a part of anything even though he was the largest organism in the world. All it encountered seemed so small and insignificant compared to its massive bulk. It lived for a thousand years and other life forms flitted into and out of existence in the blink of an eye for the mushroom. The mushroom grew lonely, and so it abandoned its search for meaning on the surface and dug deep, deep into the earth. The more it dug into the mountain, the more hopeless life seemed. For all life ends, and it’s a pity to get to the end alone. But the mushroom found that it was not alone deep in the Earth, and it found something that it had not encountered before. Not a root, fossil, or gem, but a friend. A lover. The mountain and the mushroom lived in harmony for hundreds of years. The mushroom’s mycelium spread through little cracks in the rocks. Wherever there was space, the mushroom spread, and the mountain loved it. It felt nice to be completely needed. Trees only lived on the surface of the mountain, like parasites. The mushroom’s embrace of the mountain made it feel whole, like the mountain imagined a volcano must feel when it’s about to erupt. The mountain wished the mushroom could turn to rock and be with it forever. Instead the mushroom grew and engorged, pushing the rocks further apart. The mountain swelled with mushroomey gooeyness inside. But it hurt the mountain, to have the mushroom growing so pervasively. The mountain begged the mushroom to stop, lest it be destroyed. The mushroom didn’t understand. “Do you want me to die?” asked the mountain. “No, of course no, I love you,” said the mushroom. “Then you must stop growing within me. You may grow out on the surface, among the trees and bushes, and we will still be together. But if you keep pushing yourself into every crevasse, I shall no longer be.” It was their first fight. The mushroom stewed for a while on what the mountain had asked, but did not wholly understand. “If you are asking me to stop loving you, then I’m afraid I cannot.” The mountain cried with worry. “I am just asking not to die.” “But Mountain,” said the mushroom, “That’s what love is. Destruction through proximity. The only difference between a lover and an enemy is that you allow a lover to hurt you, and you like it while it’s happening. That’s what makes it easier to die, and everybody dies, even mountains.” The mountain rumbled with anger. “This whole time you only meant to kill me?” The mushroom scoffed in retort. “I just wanted somebody to spend the end of my days with, and you wanted the same.” For though they hadn’t realized it, both the mushroom and the mountain had grown quite old. Many seasons had passed on the surface without either of them noticing. The mountain stopped quaking and regarded the mushroom without the bias of their past life. The mushroom was desecated in most of its rhizomorphs, but the mountain’s rocks had been crumbling alongside them, and it had not noticed. The mushroom had a thick, rough exterior, almost like bark, not the soft, fleshy white that had bored its way into the mountain so many centuries earlier, but the mountain had not noticed because the pressure of the tectonic plates sliding over it had dulled its sense. The mountain realized it was dying. The mushroom had stayed inside of it for longer than necessary. “You came to see me to the end?” “No,” said the mushroom. “Do not abandon me now,” begged the mountain, “I cannot bear the thought of dying alone.” The mushroom laughed, and used the last of its energy to push through the final few layers of the mountain’s core. “I didn’t come to watch you die. I came to die with you.” The mountain and the mushroom were locked in embrace when the ground shook and the mountain crumpled beneath the weight of millennia.

crabrock fucked around with this message at 05:50 on Jun 5, 2017

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Obliterati posted:

“NOTICE: This wall is solely for use by students and does not necessarily portray the views of the University.”
English: University of Pretoria 'graffiti wall' (2008)

The Wall of Rejected Classes
994 words

The glass catwalk between campus center and the lecture auditorium was so plastered with papers that Ronald couldn’t see outside, which was just as well, since he didn’t have time to enjoy the view anyway. Nobody stopped to read the fliers. Even if they had wanted to, it would have been nigh impossible, as people didn’t walk through the catwalk so much as they were carried by the current of bodies pushing into or out of the auditorium. Nevertheless, Ronald’s eye was drawn the fliers each time he walked through the catwalk, but he could only read in small bursts as he was ferried past them. They repeated every five feet or so, so that his experience went something like:



or



He’d only catch a glimpse of a word or two on each copy, never enough to digest an entire flier. They advertised roommates, study sessions, and struggling new courses.

In addition to the mundane, intro-level general elective courses promoted on the wall, there also classes of the esoteric, obtuse, and downright strange: Metaphysical Thoughts of the Unfertilized Ovum, Classical Compositions Arranged for the Keytar, and The Implied Kinematics of Stationary Objects. Classes so short lived they weren’t even added to the course catalog—a doomed pet project of some overly enthusiastic assistant professor. The only record of their existence was their brief blip on the wall of rejected classes, and then they were destined to be forgotten.

It was the first week of Ronald’s last semester of undergrad. He’d scheduled out his three-year college plan while he was still a sophomore in high school, and he hadn’t deviated from it once. It was designed to impress even the most jaded medical school admissions committee. He’d simultaneously completed a degree in Biology, Chemistry, and Biochemistry. And it’d worked; he had conditional acceptances to every school he’d applied to. All he had left was to finish the semester and graduate. He planned to keep his head down and stick to the schedule.

He was being pushed down the catwalk toward his Analytical Chemistry class reading the posters as he always did. He saw a new one he hadn’t seen before. He collected words from each successive poster. “Art Dept.” “Look.” “Enroll today!” Oops, must have missed a word. Ronald was scanning the walls for the next one when he bumped into somebody taping a flier on top of the already thick mat of papers. The slight boy fell to the ground, dropping his stack of papers.

“Oh no, sorry about that,” said Ronald. He offered his hand to the person on the ground.

“Thanks,” he said, standing up and brushing himself off. “I should have thought better than to try to hang something here during class switch.”

The two pressed into the wall to avoid being swept away.

The boy held out his hand for a proper introduction. “I’m Thomas,” he said. “And by the rules of rom-coms, I think we’re in love now.” Thomas laughed but held onto Ronald’s hand a little longer than strictly necessary.

Ronald blushed. “I, uh….” he stooped and picked up Thomas’s dropped fliers. “Here these are. What’s left of them anyway. The others are gone.” Ronald pointed to the flutter of fliers being kicked down the catwalk by an unrelenting mass of feet.

Thomas took them, then handed one back. “Maybe you should join the class? You look like the type of guy who could use a little fun.”

“I don’t know if fun is really necessary. What class is it?” Ronald looked at his flier. Look Up! The Art of Ceiling Graffiti. Ronald looked up. On the ceiling of the catwalk above him was a spray-painted flower.

“I did that freshman year,” said Thomas. “It was one of my firsts. I’m much better now.”

“You...spray painted the ceiling?”

Thomas laughed. “Yup. Three years ago. Think about how many times you’ve walked through this catwalk and never saw it.”

“All the times,” said Ronald. “Which makes me wonder why spray paint the ceiling at all, if nobody notices it.”

“That’s the point! Nobody ever comes and paints it over. Normal walls will get covered up by campus security same day, but ceiling graffiti last forever.” Thomas nodded, convinced of his own argument.

Ronald let his eyes wander up and down the ceiling. In addition to the flowers, there was a whole mural of hummingbirds darting between tree branches. It would have been at home on the side of a building for all to admire, but it seemed even more beautiful knowing it’d been there the whole time and he’d never looked up. The rest of his classmates continued their march toward the auditorium, looking straight ahead or down at their phones. None of them looked up.

“It’s nice, but why is that a class?” asked Ronald.

Thomas had an answer ready for this one too. “It’s a real pain in the rear end to paint the ceiling, cause you gotta tilt the bottle back just far enough to go up, but if you go too far back, only air comes out. Takes a while to learn. But the prof is real good, doesn’t start you with the full 90 degrees. He’ll start you off on a slight incline, say 15 percent or so. It’s a blast. You can keep that flier. It has my number on it.”

“Oh,” said Ronald, still blushing.

“Uh, cause I’m the TA I mean.”

“Yeah, no, I didn’t think…”

“But I woulda given it to you anyway,” said Thomas. He winked.

“The flier?”

“No, my number. God, you suck at flirting. So, you interested?”

Ronald was not interested. His plan didn’t have an open slot for university-sanctioned delinquency. Furthermore, flirting and dating were clearly in year two of his medical school plan. If he deviated even slightly now, . If he deviated even slightly now, he would be lost. He’d never deviated from the plan before. He wanted to say no. He knew the correct answer was no. “Maybe,” he said instead.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


imma write a snippit of some poo poo and i don't need a flash rule because i'm an independent domer who don't need no judge

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


oh yeah that time a TD "writer" whined to the mods about his unfair DM lol

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


i'll probably fail again but i really want to not to plz cover me.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


How is tdbot doing? I miss him.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


ok

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


crabrock fucked around with this message at 21:16 on Jul 25, 2017

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


i'm in, but give me a pic because im too lazy to go through and make sure i don't snag a repeat.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002




Human Sacrifice
738 words

The tunnel into The Dragon’s mouth was an abyss, as dark and dead as the forest that surrounded it. A blight had crept through the amusement park, darkening the branches of the trees into ash, corroding the rides until most of them lay in melted heaps on the ground. The only color that remained was The Dragon’s head, as if even the rainbows had fallen from the sky and lay draped over the husk of the slain coaster. The village elders had forbidden it, but Shihab wasn’t about to back down from a dare.

Shihab shined his flashlight into the opening, and The Dragon swallowed it gleefully. “I can’t see anything,” said Shihab. “Not even the back.”

“Because it never ends!” said Youssef. “It swallows you whole into Jahannam.”

Shihab looked over his shoulder and scowled. “That’s just a rumor to scare first years.” He turned back toward the tunnel. “Echo!” he shouted into the abyss, but nothing returned.

“You’re a first year, aren’t you?” laughed Youssef.

The other boys snickered, the logic infallible.

“Nobody’s really died down there though…” Shihab swallowed. “Right?”

Youssef slapped Shihab on the back. “You’re probably fine. I mean, unless it’s hungry again.”

Shihab stood and faced his tormentor. “I’m not scared of anything, especially your stupid fairy tales. It’s just a tunnel, not a demon, and it doesn’t require a sacrifice.”

“Oh good, it’s always easier when we don’t have to force the sacrifice inside, so if you aren’t afraid, go in.”

“Fine.” Shihab flicked on his flashlight.

Youssef snatched it from his hands. “But without this.”

Shihab was more worried about weasels or bats than he was any tales he’d been told at bedtime. Still, the boys that had dragged him out into the woods held metal bars in their hands, and he wasn’t certain they wouldn’t beat him if he refused. “You guys suck,” he said as he took his first steps into The Dragon’s maw.

He’d gone about as far in as his flashlight had reached when the boys at the entrance suddenly scrambled over each other. They pulled a large blanket from their backpack and hung it over the opening, and then Shihab stood alone in the preternatural darkness.

Then The Dragon’s stomach growled. A low, slow rumble that started back toward the entrance, but quickly grew louder as it rushed toward him. In between the banging of sheet metal he could hear the faint laughter of the other boys as they beat on the metal tunnel with their pipes. He rolled his eyes at their pathetic excuse to scare him.

He walked in the darkness until he saw faint wisps of light through a blanket hung over the exit. He smiled; he was just as brave as the older boys.

The Dragon’s stomach churned. The ground shook and low rumbling slowly built up inside the tunnel. The banging stopped, but cacophony deafened Shihab even with his fingers in his ears. He ran for the exit, guided by the light. The tunnel wretched and snarled as metal twisted and snapped behind him.

Shihab ran, his fingers barely brushing the shaking track. The Dragon screamed as Shihab hit the blanket at full sprint, falling into it in a hopeless tangle. He fought the blanket like a drowning man fights the sea, but could only listen helplessly as The Dragon freed itself from its earthen tomb and took the sky, it’s roar fading in the distance.

By the time Shihab freed himself from the tangled mess of blanket and debris, The Dragon was just a speck in the sky, the orange glow of its flames barely visible. He looked back at what was left of the tunnel. The space he’d stood in only minutes before was torn open. The opening had been blasted apart and laid in splinters around him.

“Youssef?” he called out, but nothing answered. His shattered flashlight lay on the ground a few feet away. Shihab trembled as he pulled himself to his feet. He fought back tears, then lost.

Shihab swayed on his legs, The Dragon’s darkness finding new sanctuary in him. He clawed at his skin as if he could tear it out, but it drenched him. He was infected with the blight that swallowed light and sound. He gulped air into his lungs as he stumbled forward, then as his feet found their footing, sprinted, back to his village, afraid of dragons.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


give me a week pls.

preferably not one i've already written for.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Mercedes posted:

That post was poorly planned. There were no I's nor N's close to each other. Give me a room

what, they're right next to each other!


Mercedes posted:

Seems like triple that. You butthole sniffers are quite the lot.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


it's me, the guy too busy to write a story. sorry tdome happy birthday.

one day

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Yeah i could lose some brawls, I'm in

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


is there any number of dragons that can raise a word count? What about a million loving dragons?

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Who cares about the ruuuuuuuules

IN A WORLD LITTERED WITH SPACE DEBRIS

I'll take this

Flash for next: the world is out of something unexpected (not water, fuel, etc.); and it's causing lots of problems

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


flerp posted:

FIRST ROUND OF THE SECOND KIND OF ANNUAL MEGABRAWL!

The prompt is: unlikeable protagonist set in the 19th century written in second person.

flerp posted:

so i dont have to keep posting for every time, if u need an extra day for the MEGABRAWL then you get it

Reasons to Burn
784 words

The fire in your belly burns hotter with each shovelful of coal. You're an iron comet, your tail is mayhem. You’re a manifestation of every stick of dynamite used to blast tunnels through mountains. You are fire: tamed, harnessed. You are death on rails.

Ahead of you sits a herd of bison: they've felt the rumble of your approach but stare slack-jawed in your direction, unable to comprehend the misery you bring. You plow through big and small alike, their doll-like corpses have no effect on your momentum. The thuds of their bodies against your boiler drive you. The beasts you can’t catch are finished off by the gunmen perched on your spine. All you leave behind are red puddles and the occasional orphan. You feel the conductor's gentle tug and appease him with a mighty roar: “choooooooooot!” The clouds in the sky are made from your steam. You are a god.

You didn’t ask to be created, but that doesn’t slow you down. Now that you are here, you have a job to do. The plains between the coasts were filled with disorder. You bring reason to the chaos. Each journey through the grasslands ushers civilization westward, enlightenment heaped on your back.

The blood from the bison isn’t even dry when you spot a dust cloud on the ridge ahead. A pack of mounted warriors charges toward you. The men you carry buzz with energy. Your fire burns hotter, and you yearn to unleash your fury upon those who stand in the way of progress. It’s fun to kill them too, but savages are smarter than bison. They make you work for it. The warriors peel off their main attack and race along your side, whooping and firing into the windows with their primitive weapons. Some of them jump off their horses and onto your back.

You’ve heard of it happening: the savages overwhelm a train, take it to a bridge, and drop it in a lake. There’s no coming back from that watery grave. There are more of them than you’ve ever seen, more than enough to each man in blue to kill ten, and they’d still keep coming. The canyon up ahead is where the odds flip in your favor. The savages can’t steer their horses over open trestles without looking like a game of Bagatelle. The faster you get there, the faster your men beat them back.

There aren’t any junctions in the middle of nowhere, because there’s nowhere else to go. But choices don’t lead to greatness. The men on your back: they’ve made decisions, and look where it has gotten them. Bad decisions, good decisions. They fall to a hatchet just the same. You don’t need the illusion of choice. You don’t need to understand why to know what you have to do. You push yourself to go faster. Each new minute is the hardest minute of your life. Now is no different.

You are smoke and grease. Your sidebars bend under the stress of six thousand horses, fully enraged and spitting sparks as your steel hooves lash out at the rail beneath. The heat from your boiler threatens to buckle the track beneath you, but you keep pushing forward.

You round the last corner before the canyon and the savages got a man dressed like a bird standing on the tracks, a wagon of dynamite blocking your way. Not like bison at all. You can get to the bridge before they realize what’s happening. It’s a last resort, they don’t want to blow up their own warriors. They won’t go through with it.

Your horn screams a warning, but the savages stand still. A few shots ring out, and some of the savages fall, but there are just too many to slaughter them all in time. A common problem.

To your credit, you were right. They don’t have the courage to kill their brothers, and the wagon splinters like a schooner swallowed an infernal machine. But dynamite is unstable, and it explodes under your crushing weight.

You’re flying. The fire falls from your belly, and you can feel the cool air rushing in as you list through the sky. You're an iron comet, your tail a dozen Pullman’s tearing into the Earth. You’re a manifestation of every egotistical tycoon who pushed too far. You are fire: doused, sputtering, starved for fuel. You smash into the red dirt smokestack first. The wrenching of iron muffles the screams of your riders, and when you stop there is quiet. The last coals in your belly trickle out, the orange glow of your boilers fades. You don’t understand, but you never needed to. You were life on rails.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Exmond posted:

Hey I just met you.
And this is crazy
But PST is 3 hours behind EST
So post at 9pm PST maybe?

Add to OP plz

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


flerp posted:

I will get my crits out for the first prompt by the end of this week.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


flerp your magnificence, I am going to be a tiny lil bit late with my entry because i forgot I live in PST now and that means 12, not 3am. love u

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


megabrawl entry

We’ve all done bad things
2058 words

My grandfather, when he was young and not yet a colonel, was tasked with leading the injured artillery horses down to the Rio Cenepa to drown them. Bullets were hard to come by, and Illapa had been happy with the bloodshed so the rains made the river run full. The banks of the river had swelled with water so that both man and horse were knee deep in mud. The closer to the rushing water they got, the harder the horses tugged at their reins. My grandpa would pick up the nearest stick and push the horses until they stumbled into the river and were swept away by the current.

It was in this manner that he plucked a rifle from the mud. It was an ancient flintlock, rusted so thoroughly that nothing moved but the trigger. He brought it back to the camp to show his friends. When he pointed it a fellow soldier and pulled the trigger, the man dropped what he was doing, screamed, and fled into the jungle. It had the same effect on enemies, and my grandfather used the flintlock in lieu of his service rifle for the rest of the war.

***

They call themselves the Shining Path: a group of communists who started harassing some of the villages on the outskirts of the jungle. And by harassment, I mean the kind that involves suicide bombs. The government thought it a better use of my time to be conscripted to chase down terrorists than to finish my studies at university, so like my grandfather before me, I sit in a jungle waiting. I feel that I am more likely to die from mosquitoes than communist bullets.

I smack one on my fatigues, and it leaves a small brown stain.

“Awfully violent for a pacifist,” says Emiliano, sitting down next to me.

“Bugs don’t count as life.” Even as the words leave my mouth I know they’re a lie, but Emiliano doesn’t contradict me.

He bites into his empanada and holds it up to me. “Sure you don’t want some,” he says, his mouth full.

“Beans are fine.”

He shrugs and takes another bite. “Surprised the mosquitos even want to drink your thin blood.”

We sit in silence for a while, a luxury in Lima, but boring in Ayacucho. I’m afraid Emiliano is about to say something else when our lunch is interrupted by Major Partida. We stand and salute. Not because we want to, but because the only thing worse than the terrorists is an angry C.O.

He dismisses us with a wave of his hand. “Captain Alvarado, you have a minute?”

I look around, but yes, he’s definitely talking to me. Brass needing something from you is never good. I’ve been in this hellhole for three months without anybody noticing me, and I was hoping to keep it that way.

“All my time belongs to the Army now.”

The major sits beside me and pulls out a notebook. “I see you haven’t had a chance to lead a patrol yet.”

They think the men they pull from college have leadership potential. We don’t, but officer’s perks are worth keeping my doubts to myself.

“No sir, I seem to have bad luck.” gently caress. Patrol is a nice word for “advanced warning.” A patrol gets ambushed, and they send in the helicopters to clear the area. It’s preferable to fighting in the villages, because the only collateral damage is wearing a uniform, and that raises less of a stink back in Lima.

“Well today’s your lucky day, because Captain Villanueva didn’t report back. Time to get your feet wet with a command.” He circles stuff in his notebook, draws lines through an area I vaguely understand to be “the middle of nowhere,” and hands me my orders with a list of twelve names. “You head out in the morning, so get some sleep.”

Emiliano and I salute as he leaves. I finish it off with the middle finger as soon as he turns around.

“gently caress,” says Emiliano. “I’ll say something nice at your funeral. Wait, it won’t be vegetarian only at the wake, right?”

“Won’t matter to you, you’ve already got a reservation in hell,” I say, pointing to his name on the list.

We sit back down and go back to eating in silence.

“I knew him, Villanueva. We took biology together.”

“poo poo man, I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, I think we’ll see him soon enough.”

***

It doesn’t rain in the summer, the water just hangs in the air instead, taunting the ground. It gets us wet just the same. The men have to clean their weapons every few hours or else they’ll rust shut. I sit and watch them, my rifle already rusted as much as a weapon can rust. They glare back.

I’ve got twelve men but I only know Emiliano. He’s my go between, and he tells me the other men hate me. They say I’m a jerk. Good. Men don’t listen to somebody they think is nice. The military doesn’t just export fear, it also runs on it. I figure I can fake it until we get back home.

“Alright, wrap it up,” I say. “HQ says a shepherd from the town the Path hit last week saw some men near the river about two kilometers from here.”

“So we should go in the other direction,” says the one with the thick, black mustache. The others laugh.

“They want us to see if it’s Captain Villanueva’s team.”

“You know it’s not.”

“I have my orders.”

“Maybe you can just wave your toy at them.”

Emiliano smacks the man on the shoulder and shakes his head. The man stops laughing at throws his helmet on the ground.

Emiliano leads me away from the group. “They’re just nervous,” he says. “Cut them some slack.”

An outside observer might be mistaken as to who the real leader of this group is.

“They have five minutes.”

***

The shepherd’s intel left out an important detail. We are on our stomachs on a cliff overlooking the river with eyes on at least two hundred men.

Emiliano points at the pile of green Peruvian uniforms in a pile. “You don’t think they are just naked and cold somewhere, do you?”

“No, probably not.”

“Ok, let’s move back and call this in.”

We don’t even have the radio out yet when shots rip through the palm trees and drop several of my guys. The rest dive into the dirt for cover.

I take a knee and bring my grandfather’s rifle up to my cheek. I scan the jungle for muzzle flashes. I don’t know what the range or spread on my rifle is, but every time I see a flash, I pull the trigger and it stops. We take three more casualties before I’ve cleared out attackers or they retreat deeper into the woods.

The only thing I’m sure of is they’ll be back with the rest of their friends.

“Jesus, man,” says Señor Bigote, “I’m sorry I gave you a hard time earlier. You just killed that whole patrol.”

I shake my head. “It doesn’t kill them. Just makes them leave.”

“Just leave?”

I nod. “It’s against my religion to kill.”

He twirls his moustache as he considers this. The others pull themselves off the ground and survey the damage.

“We should get out of here,” I say. Get to a clearing where we can radio this in send the cavalry. That’s the mission now, get word back to base.”

Emiliano grabs the dog tags off the dead guys. “We can come back for them, but if we don’t move we’ll join them.”

Emiliano, the five who survive, and I make a run for the hill.

“If we’re lucky, we won’t have to walk back to base,” says Emiliano.

We all laugh.

“Why do the men leave?” asks mustache man. “After you shoot them.”

“My abuelo said it does something to their brain, I don’t know for sure.”

“Can you shoot me with it?”

“I don’t think that’s a wise move. Look, there’s a clearing up ahead.”

We break out into a sprint, but the short guy in my squad takes a bullet to the calf and falls. We scatter in all directions, and when the confusion clears I see that I’m alone.

The only sound is screaming, coming from my guy in the clearing. They won’t finish him off, not right away. We’re stupid, you see, we always try to help our injured. They’ll wait for somebody to run to him, that way they get two for the price of one.

If as on cue, Emiliano peeks out from his cover in the tree.

“You idiot, stay down,” I whisper to myself. It wouldn’t do any good even if he could hear me. He has that look in his eye I’ve seen a dozen times during my time in the Army. It’s always before somebody goes and earns themselves a posthumous medal.

“Ah gently caress.”

I don’t have time to think before I run out from my tree cover, waving my rifle in the air and screaming.

I’m greeted almost immediately by the crack of bullets. I’m back in the trees, but not too deep. They can still see me, but the trees provide some cover. Some. Splinters rain down overhead, and I keep running and screaming. I hear the crunching of leaves behind me, and take a quick peek back to see a trio of communist chasing me into the jungle.

I turn just enough to get a glimpse of the clearing. Emiliano has hoisted the injured man onto his shoulders, and is running in the opposite direction of us. He’ll get that radio signal out. I just have to get away from these guys and I can hunker down until the bombs take care of the rest.

The three men chase me deeper into the jungle, taking a few seconds to shoot at me. After about a minute, the firing stops. Patrols don’t usually carry much ammunition, but they’ll still have knives.

They’re gaining on me and I’m running out of steam anyway when I hit the other side of the treeline and almost run straight over the cliff into the rest of the terrorists.

I turn and raise my rifle, but I’m only able to take out one of them before the other two jump on me, knocking me to the ground. The thing about us college kids is, we’ve never really been in a fight, and I’m no use. They take my gun from me and smash my face in.

Blood is streaming down my face, and I’m on my knees. The two men are too out of breath to say anything. I don’t say anything either, but plan my next move. I know there’s nothing to say to extremists, but I figure that after they realize my gun doesn’t fire bullets, I can make a run for it.
I catch my breath and ready myself to run back into the jungle. If I can catch up to my men, the tables will turn. I probably don’t even need to make it all the way back. Once they realize they’ve got no guns and no chance of killing all of us, they’ll retreat.

The terrorist holds my gun up to his shoulder and aims at my heart.

I laugh at him. “Good luck with that.”

He pulls the trigger, and I understand how the gun works. The men I shot at, they didn’t just leave. They were confronted with their greatest regret. It overwhelmed them.

The men throw my gun at me in anger, and it flies over the cliff. I stand and turn around, watching the rifle land in the river. The men behind me unsheath their knives.

The men that had been at the other end of my rifle all this time were dead now. By rope or their own gun, it was the same as if I’d been firing bullets. Fathers ripped away from their children, sons making their mothers weep. It went against everything I stood for. I thought I could outsmart death. That I’d found a clever way to be above it all. Tears well in my eyes.

I take a step off the cliff before the men can cut my throat.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Kaiju15 posted:

Inicated

Good name. I'm rooting for u

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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


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