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  • Locked thread
Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


In, and I would like some Lego action, please.

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Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


QuoProQuid posted:

Sorry about missing you earlier!



Temple of Mount Everest

No problem, it was worth the wait for a cool-rear end Lego set!

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


If it's not too late, :toxx: me with box 15!

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


After the End
1423 words


Hoarding Disorder
323 extra words given


“Denise?”

I poked my head up. “Hey.”

Laura stood in the doorway, looking sick. “Jesus loving Christ.”

I stood up, brushing the dust off my hands. “I know.”

“When did it get this bad?”

“Last year.”

“Jesus. You should have warned me.”

There were boxes on boxes, and newspapers on the boxes, and even more boxes on top of them. Random possessions stuck out like broken limbs. One of the newspaper piles had finally succumbed to gravity and slumped across what I privately called “the track,” effectively blocking my only escape route.

“You don’t really notice when you look at it every day.”

Laura scoffed. “Most people couldn’t stand to do that.”

We were both silent for a moment before Laura asked, “Does Dad know?”

I shook my head. “You know how she was; I wasn’t allowed to tell him anything.” When she opened her mouth to protest, I cut her off: “Mom wasn’t making a whole lot of sense before the end. All she remembered from day to day was not to talk to you or Dad.”

“You could have gone to loving jail for letting it get this bad! There are elder care laws, or something.”

I tried to look indifferent. “Well, it’s not an issue anymore, is it?”

It took almost two hours to clear the first corner. Laura wanted to throw everything in garbage bags and put them on the curb. I did my best to hold on to everything I could, but that only seemed to enrage her:

“Why was this in the ‘keep’ pile?”

“That’s the award she won at the office. It was important to her.”

“Goddammit, Denise, Mom is dead. Why do you need to keep some ‘Accounting Assistant of the Year’ award from 1992?”

“I just told you, it was really important to Mom! She’s dead, but it’s not like she never existed.”

Laura just shook her head and crumpled the yellowing certificate, throwing it in the bag with more force than necessary. It hurt to watch.

It hurt to repeat this conversation, over and over, and after about six iterations we had nearly given up. I cleared a hole on the sofa and collapsed onto the sagging, dusty springs, while she gingerly leaned against the kitchen island and stared at me.

I tried to make her understand. “Look, Mom had kind of a lovely, disappointing life. All she cared about at the end was this stuff. I just think it’s important to honor her memory and not, like, throw everything of hers away.”

“I don’t even think this is her stuff, Denise.”

“Oh, so I’m the one that went out and earned a marathon t-shirt from six years before I was even born?”

Mistake. She pounced. “That’s my loving point, you didn’t. But I bet it was your idea to keep it around for thirty-something years.”

“Mom wanted it.”

“Oh, really? Mom said to you, ‘Hey, my legs don’t work and I’m loving crazy and I haven’t left my house since 2007, but I just want you to know that this one t-shirt from 1979 is super important to me and you should totally hang on to it for the rest of your natural life’? Did she say that?”

I stood up. “Oh, okay, so you know what Mom wanted? Last time I checked, you had called her a “mean rear end in a top hat” and a “hoarder” and told her not to call you anymore. Which is really nice to say to your disabled mother.”

Laura buried her hands in her face. “Oh, my god, yes. I did that. Yes. I couldn’t bring my kids over here anymore, I couldn’t stand to hear her slurring down the phone at me-“

“She was sick!”

“No, she was crazy. You’re sick. You enabled this.”

I scuffed my foot at a random pile. “I was trying to keep her happy!”

My sister looked at me. “Who told you to keep this stuff?”

“Mom wanted it.”

“Who told you to keep it?”

“Nobody told me, she just wanted it.”

“Yeah, but how do you know?”

“Look, she was old and sick and it was comforting to her.”

Laura was quiet, then: “How do you know? Did she ask you?”

“No,” I said.

Laura sighed. “Okay…” She ran her fingers through her hair, the anger slumping out of her. “Okay.”

“I was the only one who was willing to live with her. If I threw something out, and she found out and got pissed, no one was going to come help me. I couldn’t call Dad and say, ‘Mom’s nuts, Mom’s irrational, come get me.’ I mean, he warned me in the first place, and I ignored him because I…she was my mother. You know?”

“I know.”

“So, yeah, I tried to keep her happy. If I tried to out anything in the trash, she’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s the ticket Danny got the first time he took a girl to the movies. We can’t throw that away, it would be like throwing out the memory of your brother!’ and I would just feel so lovely.”

“Yeah.”

“And she was so confused at the end, yeah, but she always knew what everything was, so I let her keep it. Because she didn’t always know me, or like me, and if she got really agitated she’d ask about Danny, and I couldn’t have that conversation again.”

Laura squeezed in next to me. It was the closest I’d been to my sister in years, and I jumped a little. “Do you think the accident is why this happened?”

I pulled a trash bag out of the box and started slowly filling it with pieces of obvious garbage. “Yes. Kind of. But she always did kind of did this, remember? She’d save parmesan packets from delivery pizza, or she’d stuff coupon pages in that big blue folder…”

“She saved all our artwork.”

“That’s kind of normal, though.”

“I have two kids and I don’t even save most of the drawings they bring me. You know why? They’re usually not worth saving.”

Her bluntness made me laugh. She continued, “After Danny died and she stopped talking to anybody but you and I, that’s when it started getting bad.”

“It was hard.” The admission fell out of my mouth without my even realizing it. I regretted the slip immediately, but I also felt relief.

“I know. I’m sorry.”

We sat in silence. Denise looked at her hands. I looked at the piles of shadow that surrounded us. In my imagination, each dusty stack was a grey-haired specter, scolding me: Bad daughter. No sympathy. I heard her voice, thick with tears: Don’t throw that away, that’s your brother’s book. We can’t forget him. Don’t throw that out, I might need it someday. Smaller. Don’t throw me away. Don’t erase me. I wasn’t important, but I was alive. Someone needs to know I was alive. In my mind, she was eclipsed by the garbage, whining and sniffling as trash built around her in concentric circles, burying her. Hiding her face.

Finally, my sister sighed. “I think we need a cleaning service.”

“But what about the stuff?”

“Make a list. If you don’t put something on the list, it goes.”

I swallowed. “Can I have a few days to think?”

“Sure.” She coughed self-consciously, and said, “I was hoping you would stay with us for a while? I could use the help with the kids, and, uh, Dr. Lin…you know, she said she would be willing to have a few sessions with you. For free. Just to try it out.”

I was happy and resentful at once. It would be good to see my nephews. It would be good to sleep somewhere clean, for once. But I could feel the ghost of my mother trying to hold me back. Denise, you’re the only one who understands me. If you change, I’m all alone. “I don’t have to do that,” I said. “I love the kids, I’ll come for a while, but I don’t think I need therapy.”

Instead of blowing up or rolling her eyes, Denise took my hand. “You can’t have one without the other,” she said thickly. “Please? Please try. I don’t want this-“ she indicated the packed house “-for you.”

I looked at the graying ghosts again. “I mean, I’ll go if it makes you happy, but I don’t have to keep going. I’ll go twice, okay? If I don’t think I need to stick with it, I’ll stop.”

“Okay,” she said, “Let’s try that.”

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


In.

Pitch:

A new resident to a foreign country buys a bag of mushrooms at an outdoor market, not realizing that a psychoactive specimen also made its way into the bag.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Souvenir
1343 words

Living in a shared apartment with a total stranger was exactly my idea of hell. When it turned out my new roommate was a cheerful Mormon kid who didn’t so much as drink beer, I fell further into gloom. I wanted an adventure, but I wanted it to be on slightly blurrier terms- a drunken Bangkok romp, bleary cheers with giggling Tokyo hostesses. Being stuck in a bland, dirty suburb where the only other English speaker was an excitable Jell-O enthusiast who went to bed at nine? That wasn’t at all what I had planned.

So, when Jason accidentally brought home a fistful of psilocybin mushrooms, I seized my chance.

He was yammering about his super-interesting trip to the wet market and dumping mushrooms into a colander when I noticed a flash of blue.

“Hold up!” Breathless, I counted them. Almost ten, and in a dry season- I could be hosed up for an entire day. “Do you know what these are?”

He looked at the zombie-colored fungus, then at me. “Well,” he said dryly, “You look awfully excited. I guess I got more than my money’s worth?”

I had no desire to be fired- where else but China would my fake credentials get me a job? - but I also felt bad about lying to the dope, so I just said, “Uh, yeah. I mean, these are magic mushrooms, you know?”

“And they just fell in my bag?” Jason shook his head. “China never fails to surprise me.” He stuck the colander back under the tap and started washing the mushrooms again, minus my handful of glory.

I stood there for a minute, waiting for him to tell me to flush them or something, but he just kept cleaning vegetables. Finally, I said, “So, uh, I guess I’ll throw these out.”

“Sure. Thanks, Dana.”

Once in the bathroom, I shoved the whole bunch in my mouth, trying to kill the taste with equally foul swigs of an orangey sports drink. I covered my occasional gags with running water and emerged serenely, shining with feigned virtue. I felt cool. I’d done mushrooms a time or two before; Jason would never figure it out.

Of course, about two hours later, I was lying on the floor and describing the patterns I could see in the ceiling. “An umbrella, but the umbrella keeps expanding and then melting into rain, and the rain evaporates and becomes a new umbrella, and then sometimes these neon pink dots go zooming by…”

I was beyond trying to pretend everything was normal, or worrying if Jason would call our boss. The red lights topping the neighboring buildings were bigger than watermelons, winking in and out. The floor was breathing. There were faces appearing in the dirt smudges on the walls. I was exploding in a never-ending flow of words, everything in my brain hitting my lips and jumping into Jason’s ears.

Jason just sat next to me on the couch, listening. Sometimes he would make a comment, but I was speeding around him in circles of chatter too fast to acknowledge anything. I could see the words as they shoved past my lips: ButIreallydon’thknowhowthedotsknowwheretogo!

Finally, things started slowing down, pulsing instead of speeding. I stopped babbling, dazed, my eyes feeling crystalline with unshed tears. Finally, Jason spoke. “How do you feel, Dana?”

“I’m okay.”

“Do you feel better than you did before you took the mushrooms?”

A silly question. “Yeah, man, this is great. It feels great.” I looked at him. “I should have made you try it.”

He just smiled and continued, “I noticed you don’t seem very happy here.”

“Well…”

“It’s okay. I don’t always like it here, either.”

I reached up and grabbed a throw pillow, squeezing its velour chub under my head. “You speak Chinese, though. And you know people. I only know you, and we have nothing in common.”

He didn’t seem offended. “I suppose that’s true. I’m sorry you haven’t been having a better time, though.”

“It’s just so weird here. People stare at me all the time. I went to the grocery store yesterday and an old woman went through my shopping basket. She took my drat pineapple!”

Jason laughed. “I lost a pair of running shoes that way. Little old lady grabbed them, ran off yelling about their enormous size, and disappeared.”

I laughed until I was dizzy. Then I said, “See, this is fun. Why don’t we always have fun like this?”

“You’re not usually on drugs.”

“Oh, man, I used to be.” My head lolled. “In college…when I was backpacking…man, they put weed on your pizza in Cambodia. It was crazy.”

“So why did you come here?”

I had no real answer for this question. “Just something to do, I dunno. I heard there was this great backpacking culture here, but it’s mostly in Yangshuo. I couldn’t find a job in Yangshuo.” I sat up. “Why did you come here?”

“I did my mission here. That’s the only reason I speak Chinese, actually.” Jason smiled. “I know you think this apartment is a shithole, but you should see where I lived my first year here. Nothing but mold, and the door didn’t lock properly. I used to pile books in front of it before I went to sleep.”

“Haha, did you have to go door-to-door in your shirt and tie, too?”

“No, I don’t want to go to jail for proselytizing,” he said with only minor irritation. Then he chucked a pillow at me. I screamed louder than necessary and covered my face. “I was teaching English, idiot.”

I covered my face. “Everything sucks here,” I said through my fingers. My elbows weighed ten tons. “It’s so loving dirty and gross and everyone sounds like they’re screaming. I thought I could handle it, but I don’t think Asia works for me without drugs.”

“Is that why you came here?”

“I guess. I mean, I thought having a regular job would kind of straighten me out, and China seemed remote enough that I couldn’t really imagine being high here.”

“So, you wanted to stop?”

“I wanted to be able to enjoy myself without chemicals, but I don’t seem to be capable of it. I’ve been high for basically ten years. I need money, like, stability…” I trailed off and blinked before looking back at Jason. “Yeah, that’s really it. I needed some stability. I thought I could trade one for the other.”

“Would it be better for you if I moved out?”

I sat up suddenly. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I heard you complaining about me to your friend on Skype the other night.”

Ashamed, I looked at my hands. They looked old under the lovely fluorescent lights. “I should keep my mouth shut.”

“Or your voice down,” Jason said mildly. “It’s not the first time someone’s called me a shithead, anyways.”

I sighed and cracked my neck. The little neon tentacles in my brain were starting to tickle less. “Look, man, I’m sorry. I didn’t give you much of a chance. I’m not exactly the type of person who hangs out with religious people.”

“I don’t spend a lot of time with burnouts, myself. But while you’re vulnerable, I want to tell you this: I’m willing to show you around town and help you readjust to a new reality, if you’re okay with never doing this again. I really don’t want to end up in Chinese prison.”

“I can try.”

All I remember after that is waking up on the floor, my face smashed on the fake wood and covered in drool. My mouth tasted like a foot. I sat up, threw the pillow onto the couch, and stumbled into my actual bedroom.

On the nightstand, a glass of water. Propped against it, a Polaroid picture of my hosed-up, sleepy face. Underneath, Jason had written “It can only get better from here!” in thick black Sharpie.

Smug rear end in a top hat. I’m gonna get a shot of him taking a shower when he least expects it.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Uranium Phoenix posted:

TY for the crits!

Seriously good crits.

Judge Fudge is good judge.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


flerp:
I liked the idea that Francis tried to work through his family issues through art, but ultimately failed due to a lack of perseverance and/or training. That struck me as very real. I also enjoyed the anthropomorphizing of the walls themselves. That’s something I used to wonder about as a child, and still kind of wonder about. I also liked the description of his hands and how they felt calloused and cold to the walls. Since walls typically feel colder and harder than our bodies, it really made the “character” of the walls seem real to me.

The only thing I wish you’d included is just a smidge more information about why Francis and his daughter had a lovely relationship- her reaction to his suicide read to me like disgust, which works, but from the rest of the story, all I can glean is that he had an acrimonious relationship with his mother’s daughter and that things seemed to have happened recently, because said daughter is still angry about it. Is she mentally ill, and that’s why she’s being such a bitch about what happened? Is Francis? Did finally give up after years of frustrations, or was his suicide a spur of the moment kind of deal?
Overall, an engaging story that made me feel sad and sorry for everyone involved.

BeefSupreme:
I’m impressed that you took the Stepford Spouse trope and managed to keep it interesting, while highlighting problems that a woman might really have in this situation. I found myself nodding and agreeing with Dani’s reactions to Jonathan’s bland perfection, and sympathizing with her. I absolutely hate romantic comedies and anything with a “perfect man” character, so I was really grooving on the realism here.

quote:

Dani moved only slightly, mere fractions of inches, and yet there was a noticeable shift in her demeanor, in her posture, in the set of her face. Her eyes faded from clear blue sky to roiling ocean depths. Her hair became a blazing corona of golden fire. Her shoulders tightened, and her fingers curled into fists.
This doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the prose; I’m not sure why. Most of the writing is simple and straightforward, but this is pretty flowery.

I like that she murdered him at the end instead of just deactivating him.

In general, I think you did a good job making the surreal feel real. Ooof, say that three times fast.
btw would eat the gently caress out of that omelet right now

Jay W. Friks
I’m sorry, I teach ESL writing, so please understand that it’s my job to tell you that your punctuation bugs me. I am not looking at it in this crit, but arrrrrrrgh. Commas!

Basically, this story suffers from a surfeit of backstory, and from unnecessary details. Why does Rust make Lola go through her story again when he’s allegedly part of an emergency response team, whether he’s actually police or not? Why do I need to know that the water lapped at Lola’s blue heels; does it matter that they are blue? Why isn’t the pediatric wing evacuated if they’re setting off explosives beneath it? If this is meant to be a dream, then it’s not immediately clear to me, as there’s nothing to indicate that except a feeling of unreality.

I feel like you have the makings of a very interesting book here. I would absolutely read a novel about a hospital administrator dealing with spooky poo poo and a mad architect who constructs a physical and supernatural legacy in her hospital. The bones of the story are strong, but the soft tissue needs to be rearranged. Please don’t take this crit as me making GBS threads on you, because if you write a book based on this I will 100% buy a copy. I just feel that the mechanical problems bring it down.

quote:

The figures of several Thrones-one of the different spheres of angels that made up heaven’s hierarchy-stared wide-eyed from the polished lacquer of the doorframe.

I want to highlight this sentence. I don’t know if “Thrones” is significant in some way to the story; I would wager that it is, because it’s capitalized, but there is no indication otherwise. I had to google what an angelic hierarchy was before I could understand most of this sentence; I didn’t know they were arranged in spheres and I don’t understand why it’s significant to the story. Are thrones also spheres? I may be asking dumb questions because I don’t have much of a background in Abrahamic religions, but if I have that issue with your story, someone else might, too. You could have left it at “figures of several Thrones stared from the lacquered door.” I would have understood that Thrones had some level of important, that the door was shiny, that we were probably talking about a carving. Everything else is something you could excise while editing- doors, not doorframe (unless you are talking about a lintel?). “Lacquer” and “polished” serve the same purpose here and you could eliminate one. “Staring’ and “wide-eyed,” again, essentially serve the same purpose.

tl;dr- Edit the gently caress out of this and write a longer story, because I would like to read that.

Uranium Phoenix
This was a cool-as-hell concept. The way Evelyn named her symbiote and introduced her to her class was very much what a kid would do. I also liked that you didn’t waste words explaining why symbiotes are common in the world of your story; you just established it as commonplace right away.

I both liked and disliked that Coralline disengaged from Evelyn as she grew older. I took it as a natural step in the life of symbiote and host. However, this is the one place in the story I did wish I had a teensy bit more info- I suppose Evelyn isn’t going to die, but I was surprised there were no physiological ramifications from the symbiote disengaging from her brain. I did like the description of the saltwater touching her newly-exposed head and giving her a shock, though.

Another thing I enjoyed in this story was the descriptions of Evelyn’s dreams, how she started paying more attention to them and researching why her dreams were different from most peoples’. It also made me hungry.

I don’t have much to say; this was an interesting story incorporating a lot of skillful imagery, and I enjoyed it.

Cut of Your Jib

quote:

I Forgot What's Real and What's Not as I Fall Farther and Farther into the Bullshit World I Made for Myself
I love this title because it feels like something I would have angrily written in my Livejournal, back in the day. It made me smile. As did your description of schnauzers as “little fuzz-tubes.”

Oh, and this:

quote:

And I feel like I might poot in the name of Jesus Christ, but it’s just a limp little toot, nothing to be proud of. My nieces turn the game into a “no contest.” They hold their summer dresses tight around their butts so you can see the vibrations. Fart at will. Their Mom, my sister, is not happy, as they giggle and fart their way through Tom’s baptism.

HA!

This story is sort of arrestingly weird. I don’t exactly know what’s going on, or why, but your writing is sufficiently funny and varied to make it entertaining. I think the one change I would make is to structure it a little bit. My impression is that the narrator is describing the bullshit world in which he (?) is trapped, but I don’t really understand how he feels about it. The title suggests he is angry, the story suggests he is not. Does it matter? Maybe not.
Overall, this seems more like a series of random thoughts, but they are sufficiently interesting thoughts.

Chili
This depressed the poo poo out of me. Poor Waldo.

This is solid and I don’t really have anything to add. I’m just really impressed that you managed to tell a complex, detailed, and interesting story in so few words. Kickin’ rad.

SurrepetitiousMuffin
This entry was weirdly similar to Cut of Your Jib’s, but I think it’s more effective as a proper story. I understand who the narrator is, who his friends are, what kind of life they lead. This also depressed me, because I think 90% of the people I grew up with are leading this kind of apathetic life. It seemed a very likely thing to me, that someone would think and talk like this.

I enjoyed the narrator’s meandering, laissez-faire search for meaning, as well as his reference to Marx. Again, that reads “rural yahoo with a good brain and intellectual curiosity, but no opportunity” in a way that is personally relevant to me, and seems realistic.

Hawklad
I’m imagining Daniel as Richard Branson…

The movie plays out in my head easily: Daniel as Richard Branson, although I suppose for the movie Robert Downey Jr. would work better. Rebeca is someone hot but bland-looking- Jessica Biel? No, let’s give it to Jessica Chastain; she’ll do a better job when the alien lifeform puts her back on earth and she starts acting weird. Sigourney Weaver should have a cameo, maybe as the President.
Anyways.

According to James Alan Gardner, mushrooms do well in space, so I enjoyed the idea of a sentient mycoform. As for the writing itself, I think you gave a sufficiently fleshed-out background without frontloading the story (this is usually my problem, so I applaud you). I understand the characters right away, too: Rebeca is a dutiful overachiever, Daniel is a space butthole.

I’ll tell you the same thing I told Senor Friks: if you write a book based on this concept, I will buy and read it.

Tyrannosaurus
This is well-written and the concept is creepy as gently caress, but I feel like it would have benefited from a bit more horror or detail about the ickiness and a bit less personal reflection on Winston’s part. It was well done, but I simply don’t care about Winston’s thoughts because I’m too busy wanting more information about Mae’s hideous head growth. I did feel very sad and sorry for the couple; if this was written as a metaphor for dealing with a partner’s terminal illness, it would be very moving, but I wasn’t completely sure that’s what you were going for. If it was meant to be a horror story, it does a great job of selling the characters as people, but it needs a bit more oomph on the horror end.

Fleta Mcgurn
u suck ho
I am interested to see who thinks Dana is a boy and who thinks he/she is a girl. I imagined the character as male.

Radical and BADical
This should win, in my worthless opinion.

Thranguy
Or maybe this should win.

Both of the above stories are so good that I simply don’t have anything useful to say, just WOW and NICE and COOL and :drat: and they were both excellent. Impressed down to my socks.

Mrenda
Distracting punctuation issues.

This story strikes a nice balance between establishing the society and culture in which the main characters live, and detailing the relationships between the characters. Reading Grace and Marianne’s interactions gave me an immediate impression as to who they are as people, their relationship, and the history of their relationship. I’m also impressed at how well you managed to communicate the father’s personality without him even appearing in the narrative. Grace is interesting and I connected with her in a way that I usually never do for quiet characters.

I’m really drawn to the setting of this story; would be interested in exploring it further.

Djeser
owwww my eyes but I LOVE IT

Once I attuned myself to the rhythm of the main character’s thoughts, I enjoyed it. I feel like she’s thinking in circles, but deliberate circles- crazy not-crazy. I found myself aching to know more about the arachnid overlords (but not really because I am terrified of spiders). I also liked how her thoughts were going between sea and land, in a way. This was a risky move, but I think you pulled it off. I laughed really hard when she tells the cashier she’s going to gently caress her arachnid lesbian girlfriend; imagining that scene with the cashier shocked and creeped out, and the narrator like :smug: bitch u don’t even know how hard imma gently caress that arachnid bitch. Very interesting entry.


OKAY DONE. Thanks for helping me avoid 90 minutes of work; poo poo’s slow today.
e: whoa typos

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 05:29 on Apr 18, 2017

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Mrenda posted:

I initially thought Dana was male (with my referrals to them as a dickhead in my crit. A shameful gendering of insult.) But I read SH's crit, and realised I know of far more Dana's who are female and the only male Dana I know is from the UFC. Although to be fair two of the non-real life female Dana's I know are from the Eurovision. It didn't change my perception of the story, and I still think they're butt who should face up to reality without taking reality bending drugs. But the strength of Eurovision performance names pushed me to change pronouns because I thought I was misgendering a protagonist based on faulty beliefs about gendered names wasn't a good thing.

It's cool; I deliberately left it ambiguous. I call girls dickheads all the time.

Eurovision rules, that is all.


e: I couldn't decide if Waldo was a pair of pants or a bag.

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 04:46 on Apr 18, 2017

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


In. I deffo need some Satan today.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


The Beatification of Saint Zaara
1114 words

The gate to Hell closed three weeks ago. It sealed itself up and simply melted away. There’s nothing to mark where it was except a spit of drier, yellowed grass.

All of us out in the world, we’ve been waiting. There must be a way back home somewhere. Someone will come to tell us what to do. This has always been our Father’s way; sometimes He tests us. He tests our loyalty, our endurance. This could just be a test.

Before, we were untouchable on the mortal plane. I could stand in front of a speeding truck, close my eyes, and be positively orgasmic from the thrill of being hit. My skin bleached white by the headlights, my hair flying everywhere with the impact. I’d get dragged for a bit and after the driver jumped out, moaning and crying, I’d slowly draw all my broken bits back together and rise again, shambling towards them. That always had fun results.

After the gate closed, we lost this power of regeneration. We started taking injury for the first time. Demons heal fast and we’re stronger than anything human, but now we’re being hurt. It’s taking just a little longer to heal. As time goes on, will it get worse?

My mate was Zaara. She loved the feeling of her human avatars dying more than anyone else did. She didn’t believe our powers were waning, despite the evidence. Thought that anything human couldn’t kill her. She had faith in what our Father told us, that we were special and chosen, and our hardships would only bring us closer to Him.

She was addicted to offering her deaths to Him. Most people worshipped that way once a human week, but Zaara would do it every day until her powers were strained and she had to return home to recuperate.
We were all split on whether to continue worship as we always had after the gate closed, showing Father the resilience of our faith by continuing with the car accidents, the poisonings, the drownings. I and a few others wanted to wait and see what was happening before we continued our rituals. Zaara and most of our peers disagreed.
Zaara was the first to become mortal. She jumped off a bridge into a fast river and never came back up. Her body was found a week later, cold and proud and beautiful. The mortals took her away in a bag, and she did not come back to us.
To the others, this was a sign. It was clear to them that only a true death would bring them back to our Father’s realm. They threw themselves into a religious fervor, and two more have already been lost. They say that Zaara passed Father’s test and returned home as his queen, reborn into a new form back in Hell as a reward for being the first to really die. Perhaps they are right. But when I sleep at night, my mate is not beside me, and I can’t believe our Father would take her away.
As for myself, I’m trying a different method. I test myself every night: can I still slink up a high-rise undetected, and without becoming tired? Can I still curdle milk as I pass it in the supermarket? When I take my first step into a new neighborhood, does every dog still howl? Every day, I wake and think, “This is the day when I lose everything. This is the day when everything disappears and I descend into mortality.” Every day, I cause minor mischief and madness- loosening the odd capillary in a bystander’s brain, manifesting a single amanita in a bag of artisanal mushrooms. Little cruelties, little deaths. I’m too cautious to take it any further, so I offer these small acts of adulation in the hopes that they are not being performed in vain.
I believe my Father has abandoned us. But still I cannot let go.
Fat raindrops hit my fingers, making me slip on the slick stone. Each window is bordered by a thick slab of micaceous rock, and I’m using them to climb. I am silent, shadowy. They’ll never see.
As I continue my upwards crawl, I stiffen. I can smell something above me. Not human, not animal, but the metallic scent of my own kind.
She is waiting in the sterile rooftop garden, wearing a white dress. The fabric gone transparent in the rain. Her long, fair hair is soaked. She’s barefoot.
Her eyes are black now.
“You have failed our Father,” is all she says.
Zaara looks the same, except for her eyes, but I don’t trust what I’m seeing.
“How could you be so faithless?” Her eyes are not black, they are voids.
“The others were right, then.” She takes a few steps towards me as I speak. “You went home?”
“I gave our Father the greatest gift, and he has rewarded me.” Zaara’s smile is like ice.
Before I can ask what she means, she apparates behind me. I feel her knife-like talon at my human throat.
“Listen to me,” she hissed. “You have failed. Most of the others did their duty. They gave our Father what he is owed. How could you have been so stupid to think He abandoned you?”
“He let you die.”
“I killed myself,” she said angrily, “as our laws require. You have no right to my life, or yours.” With her claw still at my throat, she strokes my hair with her other hand. “I went home. I was given a better body, a stronger manifestation on this plane.” I smell human blood on her breath. “You could have been there with me, but you made the wrong choice.”
“I didn’t know what to do.”
“The answer is always to trust our Father.”
I breathe out, a long, shuddering breath that seems to take her by surprise. She spins me around and crushes me against the railing, her cold mouth so hungry on my own that I stop breathing. Her hands rake down my body, clawing savagely into my breasts as I gasp for air.
“I have missed you,” I whisper.
She says nothing to this, just lowers her head to kiss me again. When she raises her head and looks at me again with her infinite eyes, I know.
“Are you ready to return to the feet of our Father, and make restitution for your lack of faith?”
“Yes. Take me home, Zaara.”
She kisses me again, on my forehead. Even though her lips burn the skin of my human host, I feel something like a benediction.
“Repent,” she says, as I fly over the railing into the neon-spiked darkness.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Oh, god loving dammit, I don't know how I did that, but I managed to submit by accident. gently caress. Sorry about the screwed-up formatting. poo poo rear end piss oval office.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


What I need is a good :toxx: 'cause I'm feeling like a criminal.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Journey to Zion
:toxx: 2466 words

It was hot when they set out for Nevada. Frank driving, with Mother Adelaide alongside him. The middle row held Mother Janey and Mother Maeve. The two girls, Dora and Elizabeth, were in the way-back.

Frank whistled cheerfully. Adelaide gave him an indulgent smile and patted his knee. “You’re certainly happy today, Father,” she cooed.

“Darn right I am!” Frank peeked at Dora in the rearview mirror. Unlike her younger sister, who was happily waving to the rest of the family, Dora looked slightly shell-shocked. “I’m happy to be doing the Lord’s work today,” he said, a little louder.

Dora jumped, momentarily looking guilty, then dropped her head.

It was a beautiful day in God’s chosen country. Frank had a good baritone, and he raised it in praise of the Lord. Adelaide hummed along placidly, knitting when the road was smooth enough, and the other wives joined in with their full-throated, joyful voices. Elizabeth also shouted along- the poor girl was tone-deaf- and together they made a merry noise.

Frank kept his eye on Dora as he exited on to the highway. Usually she was his little songbird, but not today. Adelaide caught his eye and made a disappointed little moue.

Clearing his throat, Frank asked his women, “Can anyone tell me the story of Abraham? Girls?”

“Abraham was a righteous man,” Elizabeth began with mechanical recollection. “God led them out of the wicked city of Ur and they traveled to Egypt. They lived there for many years, but their lives were not blessed with children.”
Frank met Dora’s gaze in the mirror. “Dora, tell the next part of the story.”

Her quiet voice came hesitantly from the back of the van. “Sarah and Abraham wanted to have children, but they were too old. Sarah was ninety. But they prayed to God and God told them Sarah would have a baby.” Dora took a deep breath, then continued. “Several years later, God told Abraham, ‘Show me how strong your faith is. Take your only son Isaac to the mountain and sacrifice him in My name.”

“How did Abraham respond?” Frank prompted.

“He went.”

“And THEN,” Elizabeth interrupted, “They traveled for three whole days, and then Abraham took Isaac alone to an altar, and Isaac asked him where the sheep was they were going to sacrifice, but Abraham said there wasn’t any sheep—“

“No, he didn’t, Abraham just told Isaac not to worry about it.”

“Fatherrrrrrrr.”

“Pipe down, Lizzy. Dora? Finish the story.” Frank let a bit of authority creep into his voice. God may have tested Abraham, but privately Frank wondered if a houseful of fractious women wasn’t his own divine trial.

“Abraham found a rock, and he told Isaac to sit on the altar. Then he…he raised the rock. And God stopped him.” Dora took another deep breath. “God said to Abraham, ‘I believe that your faith is strong. I have tested you and you have passed.’ And God sent a ram instead, so Abraham sacrificed the ram. Then they went home.”

“Good girl.” Frank pulled onto a side road and slowed down a bit as the dust flew up. “This lesson is especially important for you two. Sacrifice is painful, but all of us have a duty to Heavenly Father. Tomorrow, I sacrifice my two most precious jewels.”

Elizabeth giggled. Dora blanched.

That was the only unpleasant incident on their first day. Ten minutes after leaving their hotel on the second day, Frank was pulled over by the police. Upon seeing the popsicle lights, the girls immediately fell into loose-limbed feigned sleep. Janey and Maeve sat with their hands folded. Adelaide started knitting a fraction faster.

“What’s the problem, Officer?”

He was fat, white, and mean, like every rural cop. He had no compunction about peering directly into Frank’s window, and he sneered at the sight of the passengers in their long braids and prairie dresses. “License and registration, please.”

Frank had them ready in his lap. The cop took his time reading, then asked, “Long way from Texas, aren’t you?”

“We’re heading to California.”

The cop was chewing gum, although Frank could still smell cigarettes on his breath. “Long way.”

“Yes, it is.” Frank silently begged Heavenly Father to intervene.

“You folks stopping off in Nevada, by any chance? Caliente, Nevada?”

“No,” Frank said blankly.

“That your wife?” The cop rudely pointed at Adelaide.

“Yes, this is my wife, and those two in the middle seat are her sisters.” That, at least, was not really a lie. “The two young ladies in the back are my daughters.”

“These your daughters, ma’am?”

“Of course,” Adelaide respond, flushing a bit. “Should I wake them up? You can ask them yourself.”

The officer did not respond. He just peered at the two sleeping forms. Finally, he said, “The manager of the hotel y’all stayed in last night is my neighbor. Real nice lady. She called me after y’all left, saying there’s something funny going on. Y’all wouldn’t happen to live in Zion Creek, Texas, would you?”

Frank laughed dismissively. “Officer, we’re members in good standing of our local ward. I can give you the bishop’s number right now, you can talk to him.” Frank silently prayed that the cop wasn’t a Mormon- long shot out here- and wouldn’t know what he was talking about.

He was right. After a tense moment, the cop’s laziness won out over his suspicion. “Drive safely, sir,” was all he said as he handed the documents back to Frank. He gave the girls one last look, then walked away, shaking his head.

Frank waited until the cop was out of sight before turning around and grinning at the family. The women cheered, and the girls in the back made exaggerated snoring noises as their father laughed. Even Dora was smiling.

“I asked Heavenly Father to intervene and look! That fat old fart couldn’t stand against our righteous mission.” Frank started the van and swung back into the flow of traffic.

The motel was a long, featureless box. Its turquoise paint had been bleached to a sickly sky-blue, and its windows reflected nothing. Dingy lace curtains sagged behind the glass. The only other car in the parking lot, a red Landrover, was covered in dust. “Daniel must have driven all the way from Colorado City,” Frank mused aloud as he pulled in next to the truck. “Janey, you and Maeve run on in now and see if Daryl’s girl can’t find you something to clean that truck with. I can’t have my girls riding off in a pumpkin!”

Daryl’s girl was a worn-looking woman of about thirty, heavily pregnant, and almost as colorless as her surroundings. She gave them a tired smile as they walked in, dragging their garment bags and suitcases. “Brother Johansson,” she said politely, but her eyes slipped past him to Lizzy and Dora.

“Mother Carrie, right?” Frank beamed with pleasure, ushering the two girls forward. “The lucky brides are right here! Say hello, girls.”

“Hello, Mother Carrie,” Elizabeth intoned dutifully. “Can we get changed now?”

Frank laughed in pretend embarrassment, secretly pleased that his daughter was so eager. “She’s a little excited,” he said, laying his hand on her skinny shoulder.

“Well, of course she is!” Mother Carrie’s voice was brighter than a plastic daisy. “May I ask how old she is?”

“Lizzy’s fourteen, and Dora here nearly two years older.”

Mother Carrie’s smile didn’t change. “Such a blessed day.”

“Yes, Brother Daniel’s already like family. His father married my daughter Arlene.”

“I remember her,” Mother Carrie said, pulling a bag out from under the counter. She moved with some difficulty, her protruding stomach covered by a fresh yellow apron. “That was two years ago, wasn’t it? Very pretty girl. Such lovely hair. Looks a bit like Dora here, doesn’t she?”

Dora peeked through her bangs and smiled awkwardly at Mother Carrie.

“That she does. They take after their mother.”

With perfect timing, Adelaide swept in, holding the heavy garment bags. “Here come the dresses, for two pretty lasses,” she sang. “Isn’t this fun, girls?”

They nodded.

“Now, we’ve been driving all night, and I’m sure the girls need a shower before they meet their bridegroom. I certainly do!” Adelaide fanned herself dramatically. “So much dust!”

“You did it all at once?” Mother Carrie asked, pushing a garment rack out from behind the counter. Elizabeth and Adelaide immediately began hanging up the clothes.

“No, we left Texas yesterday, stopped for the night, and came the rest of the way today,” Frank answered. “Eighteen hours, altogether.”

“Land sakes, you must be exhausted!”

Frank trailed the women as they pushed off down the hall, laden with bags. Then he noticed Dora lagging behind.

A quick flash of anger rose in his chest. “Dora Lee Johansson, you just better start moving!” he barked.

Dora looked up at him with huge eyes. “Yes, Father,” she whispered, but did not move.

After a moment, Frank walked over and put his hand on the back of her neck. Dora lowered her eyes. “Dora Lee, this is your destiny. The prophet has received word from Heavenly Father Himself that you and your sister belong with Daniel Hall. You cannot change God’s plan and you certainly can’t change mine, so you just march yourself into that room right now and start getting ready for your wedding!”

Dora still did not move.

Frank was out of his depth; this was not his job. The women were supposed to look after each other. He suddenly felt a deep appreciation for Adelaide; she usually kept these spurts of feminine capriciousness carefully hidden from him. But Dora was a good girl, and no doubt frightened of an unfamiliar man, which spoke well of her character.

“Now, look here, honey—“

“Boys are snakes,” Dora whispered. “They’re poisonous snakes. We’re not supposed to touch them.”

Frank steered her towards the sagging couch in the lobby, pushed her gently down, and sat beside her. “You’re a good Priesthood girl,” he began uncertainly, “and you’ve been a good student. You’ve learned your lessons well. But the Prophet has spoken, and it’s time for you to put away childish things. You’re a woman, and you’re going to be a mother soon—” here Dora gasped— “and you must keep sweet and be obedient. Now, go into that room and get pretty for your husband.” Softening, he added, “You’re a beautiful girl, and you’re going to make a great wife. Now go on.”

Slowly, Dora went.

Two hours later, Daniel Hall knocked on Frank’s door. “It’s time, Brother Frank,” he said, his ruddy cheeks reddening further with pride.

“That your daddy’s suit, son?” It looked familiar.

Daniel straightened proudly and brushed imaginary lint off his unfashionable lapels. “Yes, sir. He married three of my mothers in it, and I hope it gives me just as much luck,” he explained.

“Well, I don’t think you have anything to worry about with my girls. Lizzy and Dora are just as sweet as they could be. Lizzy’s a good little cook, Dora likes her music, and they’re both hard workers.” He gave Daniel a paternal pat on the shoulder. “And if they’re anything like their mothers, you’ll need a bigger house soon enough!”

Now Daniel’s cheeks were flaming.

The wives and Mother Carrie had obviously worked hard on decorating the dark little room. There was a heart-shaped bower with tulle bows and fake roses- Mother Carrie must have had it in storage- and a bevy of pink and white balloons. A homemade banner reading “Daniel and Dora” hung above an identical one with “Daniel and Elizabeth.” The bed had been covered with a satin spread, and rose petals scattered all over. There was a door between that room and the one next door, covered in Mylar wrapping, like a wavery mirror.

“Well, here’s the groom. Now where are the lovely brides?”

As if on cue, Janey pulled open the shiny door and Frank’s daughters stepped through.

Elizabeth was beaming and giggling in a ruffled white dress with pale yellow trim. It sagged a bit in the bodice, but she had sewn cabbage roses of the same yellow all over, and more roses wreathed her head. Dora’s dress was plain white, with just a bit of lace around the throat and cuffs. Her hair was pulled back in the same long braid as her sister. Someone, probably Lizzy herself, had tucked a yellow rose behind her ear.

Frank was struck by how young they looked. He was so proud- proud of his girls for their obedience and for being placed at such a tender age, and proud of his three lovely wives for all their clever work.

He held out his hands. “Young ladies, this is Daniel. Come say hello before we start.”

After the ceremony, Frank stepped outside for a cigarette. Night had fallen. He stiffened as he heard a police siren in the distance, then relaxed. The windows in the little motel were all dark.

Janey and Maeve joined him. “Well, Father, Elizabeth went first,” Janey said proudly. Her eyes were red from crying, but shining with hope and love.

“Good girl.”

“Dora offered to let her have the first two nights, actually.”

Frank frowned a little, shook his head. “That won’t do, Mother. They’re both wives now and they need to share their duties equally.” He handed Maeve the cigarette butt and she stubbed it out. “I’ll go talk to her mother about it.”

As Frank entered the lobby, he heard the faint, choked tones of crying. Not a young girl of fifteen, but the throaty sobs of a woman. He looked around for the source of the noise, but it seemed to be coming from everywhere.

“Adelaide?”

No answer. The sobbing went on.

Frank passed the door to the wedding room, then the room Adelaide and Dora shared. He listened carefully, but didn’t hear any crying. Gingerly, he took a few more steps to Lizzy and Daniel’s room. Again, he heard no tears.

Towards the end of the hall was a door marked “Storage.” Slowly, he approached.

When Frank opened the door, Mother Carrie was standing with her back to him, crying into her apron. She turned and looked at him, her face wet with tears and something like shame, but said nothing. They held each other’s gaze for a long moment before Mother Carrie wiped her face, smoothed her rumpled apron, and walked past him with her eyes on the floor.

“Romantic, isn’t it, Mother?” His voice carried a warning.

Mother Carrie stopped walking momentarily. “Yes,” she said simply, “I suppose that’s the word.”

Frank waited until he heard her settle back behind the check-in counter before taking out another cigarette. He lit it in the hallway. She wasn’t going to stop him.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Jay W. Friks posted:

I forfeit to Fleta and will take the loss for crime week Thranguy. Sorry for spraying curse jizz all over your nice crime lab.

In for a mystery tech box 6.

Edit: :toxx:

Friks, I thank you. Now write that spooky hospital book!

:toxx: me with boxx 3 (cuz it rhymes).

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


I have never seen Black Mirror, so I hope I don't accidentally write fanfic.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


SUBJECT TM-35-USA
2597 words

SUBJECT TM-35-USA

NAME/CLASSIFICATION:
Martin, Terrence (Henceforth TM)
ORIGIN: Northeastern USA
TIME OF ORIGIN: Late 20th-Early 21st century OEY
X-J1 SERIAL NUMBER: 000102
INTERVIEWER: L-10
CURRENT STATUS: Lost
CONSULTING ORGANIC OFFICER: Shenn Harlow

ARRIVAL REPORT:

Subject arrived through Gate A at 03:19 hours. Its arrival was predicted through abnormal temporal fluctuations starting from 20:55 hours. The size and complexity of the organism indicated an Old Earth human. Unit L-10 was assigned to administrate the reception process.

Upon arrival, subject TM appeared emotionally distressed but unhurt. After allowing the subject time to acclimate, it was determined to be nonviolent, and L-10 entered the room to begin operations.

TM struck a defensive pose and began vocalizing loudly. L-10 osmosed calming pheromones, which were effective within normal parameters. TM sat on the interview chair with minor coercion and submitted to restraint. Intelligence analysis resulted in an average score.

L-10 initiated standard interview protocols, which proved ineffective. The subject became too agitated to continue the debriefing, and was put into therapeutic suspension for 30 cycles. After release, TM was transferred to Room 481. Unit L-10 was reskinned and continued its assignment. TM responded positively to the new skin. Upon completion of its testimony, analysis determined that TM had limited capability to achieve modern sociocultural growth standards, and it was given Lower Assignment in a manual labor unit.

At the present time, this specimen is of physical value only. Further intellectual and social development has been determined unlikely.


REPORT #2- Day 200

TM reported on time to the Reception Facility for his 200-day checkup. L-10 performed the assignment in an average amount of time. There were no significant physical, emotional, or social changes determined by the interview unit.

A full transcript of this interview is available in Appendix B.


REPORT #3- DAY 500

TM reported six minutes late to the Reception Facility for its 500-day checkup. The interview unit determined a slight emotional stability and requested organic support. COO Shenn Harlow was dispatched to the interview room.

The following is a transcript of the conversation between the specimen and the consulting organic officer.

Hello, TM. My name is Shenn Harlow. I’m here to help you. Is there something you wish to discuss?

Jesus.

I’m sorry, I don’t understand your meaning.

I’ve seen some weird ones here, but you are something else.

I am a consulting organic officer. My job is to interface with new arrivals to acclimate them to their new environment. Is there something I can do for you?

Fine. Can I ask you a question?

Yes.

Are you a man or a woman?

I’m sorry?

Look, if your job is really to talk to us actual humans, you know what that question means.

I understand the question, but I cannot answer.

Why the hell not?

I do not have any way to answer this question. I cannot determine whether I am female or male. I’m sorry if this answer distresses you.

All right, you don’t know, whatever. I think it’s bullshit, but whatever. Can you at least tell me how I got here?

You interacted with one of our research units and made a temporo-spatial journey through an artificially-created wormhole. You should have been informed of this upon arrival. Do you need another copy of the New Resident’s Guide?

Yeah, you caught me in a space bear trap and sent me to Mars, or whatever. I’ve read that guide already. But how does this poo poo work?

I’m sorry, that knowledge is not available to me.

Why not?

It’s not available to me. I’m a counselor, not a technician.

But can’t you look it up?

There is no need for me to look it up.

Aren’t you curious?

No.

At this point, TM indicated that it wished to terminate the interview. An injection was offered to correct emotional distress, but it refused.


REPORT #4- DAY 303

TM entered the Reception Facility without an appointment and requested to speak to COO Harlow. The counselor was available and agreed to TM’s request.

The following is a transcript of the conversation between the specimen and the consulting organic officer.


Are you a human?

Yes.

How did you get here?

Our first colonists came through a Zyvraxian portable wormhole generator, just as you did. They inherited the technology on this dead world, and learned to use it over centuries of trial and error. That’s the simple explanation, of course.

Give me the complicated explanation.

I’m sorry, I don’t have access to that information.

Then tell me if I’m correct- everyone came here by accident? To this station or planet or whatever?

We prefer to think of it as destiny, not a simple accident. The second step in human evolution was leaving Earth. Once the initial colonists developed a better understanding of this native technology, they wanted to share it with Old Earth.

But you didn’t. I mean, I’ve never seen anyone who looks like you. I've never seen, uh, equipment like you have here.

The wormholes are hidden for a reason. Through trial and error, we determined that ancestral humans don’t respond well to overt intervention. It’s far easier to transport random specimens; individuals of your species tend to acclimate and adapt better when separated from your peers.

So you kidnap us and perform mind experiments.

That’s one way to look at it. We consider it sociocultural retraining.

And what is the point of your guerilla research, exactly?

It won’t affect you.

I’d like to know, anyways.

If you had been given a higher-level classification, you’d be integrated into our regular population, given augmentations and cosmetic surgery to help you appear more like us. Some specimens take to the culture so well that we do send them back to Old Earth, in an ambassadorial role. Covertly, of course, but many great figures of your time have been our agents.

Do you consider me human?

I consider you a pre-modern human ancestor.

Don’t you think that’s a little condescending?

I apologize if it seems condescending. I assure you, we approach our specimens from a scientific perspective. It's not a personal slight.

I think that if we can have a conversation like this, we can’t be that different.

If you’d read the New Residents Guide, you’d know that our technicians implanted a stimulating chip that allows your sub-developed brain to interpret our communication technology.

I bet you don’t know how that works, either.

No, I don’t.

You look like a monster and you talk like a robot.

What an interesting statement.

TM ended the exchange with a hostile gesture and left the room without being dismissed. COO Barlow assigned it three demerit points for insubordination. A complete disciplinary record for subject TM is available in Appendix C.


REPORT #4- DAY 505

TM scheduled an appointment and made a formal request for regular weekly consultations with COO Barlow. Barlow agreed to the request.

Following are a series of partial transcripts relevant to TM’s disciplinary case. A full transcript of each meeting, sorted by date, is available in Appendix D.


DAY 515:

I want to show you something.

What is this?

Just look at the picture.

I’m not familiar with this object. What is it?

It’s a photograph.

[Barlow does not respond.]

It’s a…representation of a real moment.

But it’s two-dimensional.

Yeah, that’s normal.

I’ve never seen a two-dimensional image. It’s a bit confusing for me.

You don’t need to flip it over—

Where’s the rest of the image?

Uh, well, there just isn’t any more. We don’t- we didn’t know how to do that.

[Barlow does not respond.]

Anyways, this is my daughter. Her name is Carla. She’s six years old, and she loves basketball.

This is a juvenile?

Well, yeah.

It looks…fragile.

She’s actually a pretty tough kid. Broke her arm last year and didn’t even cry.

Broke- how can you break an arm? Is the child substandard?

It’s pretty common in my time. Almost everyone breaks a bone at some point. Hell, my younger brother broke both legs in a single year when we were kids.

That’s horrible. I didn't realize... [Barlow does not complete this statement.]

Hey, are you okay?

I am terminating this session.

Shenn? What's wrong?


DAY 525:

The head of the technicians would like to collect a juvenile specimen. Where is the one you showed me last week?

[TM utters an expletive]

What is the problem?

What don’t you understand? You can’t just study my daughter like a [expletive] zoo animal!

Nobody suggested putting it in the zoo. The zoo is full.

This whole place is a [expletive] zoo.

It’s a research facility. You know that. Sometimes I think you’re being deliberately ignorant.

Oooh, the alien’s getting mad! Haha. Can’t even understand a figure of speech, what a dumbass.

I am terminating this session.


DAY 535:

Are you still trying to kidnap my daughter?

It would be enormously beneficial. Not only for our species, but for yours. Your offspring could be the first ancestral juvenile integrated into our society. And, I imagine, you would be pleased to interact with it again.

You won't find her. I know you don’t know how to locate a specific person on Old Earth, and I won't tell you where she is. I read about your wormhole generators- they’re totally random and don’t even work that well. How many people do you lose every year, trying to kidnap them through your stupid lovely space boxes?

We lose an average of forty specimens a year. It’s quite unfortunate.

It’s barbaric. If you really believe we’re your ancestors, shouldn’t you have a little more respect?

Respect? May I remind you that our entire purpose is to enlighten your species?

In what way?

Don’t you people have any curiosity? Don’t you ever wonder why things happen? Where these people come from, the ones who offset your natural tendencies towards violence and cruelty? They’re our emissaries, sent back to try and correct the human condition. No one ever questions why significant things happen for seemingly no reason?

Sure we do. It’s the foundation of pretty much all our belief systems. But nobody- well, very few people thought it was the work of genetically engineered space monsters.

I’m not a monster. I don’t come from a…a war place. I help solve your social problems!

You don’t even know how these wormhole thingies work.

The Zyvraxians developed them to us centuries ago, and didn’t leave any records. Any knowledge about the wormhole generators has disappeared with them. We’re learning more about them as quickly as we can, but it’s slow work without having any reference points.

But you still think you can fix all the problems on Old Earth.

Yes, of course. It’s our duty. Don’t talk to me about respect. I’ve devoted my entire life to saving Old Earth.


DAY 605:

I won't do that for you.

You know you want to, Shenn. Come on, aren’t we friends? I gave you all this information, I told you so many Old Earth secrets. You’re going to be able to fix everything by the time I’m done, but I need to go back and get more information before we can start.

If you were such an important figure on Old Earth, why didn’t you tell me sooner?

Because there could have been repercussions.

Such as?

I’ve already said too much.


DAY 635:

How long will I have?

Twenty minutes.

Are you sure the shields will be down?

I told you, the proposal was accepted. No one will stop you on your way out. In fact, they’ll give you a map of generator locations, so you can more easily lead people to them.

Thanks, Shenn.

How many specimens will you bring back?

Oh, at least a thousand. Easily. I told you, I’m very powerful on Old Earth. I can do anything.

If you make it back on time, I’ll be a hero. We’ll both be heroes. They’ll even put you on a higher-level work assignment. But whatever you do, please try not to take too long- if they think I’ve backed a plan that could compromise our research speed, I'll be punished.

Don’t worry, Shenn. I’ll definitely be back in time. Wish me luck, okay? And take care of yourself. You’re a really special….person.

I’ll see you in ten cycles. Good luck. I…am pleased to call you friend. We’re going to achieve great things together.


REPORT #5- DAY 715

Subject TM has not reported back. The subject has also not procured any of the new specimens promised. Three X-J1 units on old Earth have been deactivated. Shenn Barlow has submitted itself for questioning.


REPORT #6- DAY 740

X-J1 units from specimen TM’s time are frequently being deactivated. Serial numbers of these units are available upon request.

There is no new information regarding the specimen.


REPORT #7- DAY 760

X-J1 units from specimen TM’s time and geographical location are being deactivated rapidly. Currently, we have no information about the specimen’s location. It is uncertain whether these deactivations will become a global crisis.


REPORT #8- DAY 770

COO Barlow was given the choice of termination or banishment. It chose termination, citing this incident specifically. Physical remains have been reduced to nutri-pulp. Barlow also requested a release of consciousness; the organ of sentience has been destroyed and cannot be re-implanted.


REPORT #9- DAY 900

Specimen TM listed as lost.

END OF RECORD.


Carla was playing with her Barbies and Marissa finishing the dishes when Terry walked in, looking exhausted.

“Daddy!” Carla squealed, and ran to give him a hug. Terry scooped her up and held her tight, a strange look on his face. Carla squirmed against his grip.

“There you are! What happened? Is that project on Quincy being held up again?” Marissa dried her hands. “Why didn’t you call?”

Terry put Carla down and took Marissa in his arms, giving her a long, passionate kiss.

“Eeeew,” Carla said.

Terry looked at Marissa like he hadn’t seen her in years. “Is it…is it after eight already?”

She gave him an odd look, and said, “Yeah, you’re two hours late.”

“Only two hours?” Oddly enough, he smiled.

Marissa returned to the sink, puzzled. She had barely picked up the sponge again when she heard a crash.

The antique mirror she had bought last week lay shattered on the floor. Terry stood over it, breathing hard.

“What the hell?!”

He turned towards her, and something in his eyes made Marissa step back. Then he relaxed his face, smiled, and shrugged. “I’m sorry, babe! I don’t know what happened, it just fell off the hook.”

“Dammit,” she said despondently, looking at the shards. The pieces of glass looked black, almost matte black, and had crumbled nearly to dust. “Don’t move, you’re in your socks. I’ll get a broom.”

“No!” Terry almost shouted.

“Terrence, what the hell is going on?”

Terry put his hands on her shoulders, exhaling. “I’m sorry, babe. It was a tough day at work. I’ll explain everything after we put Carla to bed. Let me clean this up, okay? You go on into the living room and get ready for Game of Thrones.” He looked at the broken mirror with disgust. “I don’t want you or Carla touching…that.”

She gave him a suspicious look. “Okay, but you better have a good reason for acting so weird.”

Terry laughed a little. “I promise you, I do.”

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


In; and please flash me.

If anyone is temporally close to Beijing, I'd be down to collaborate. PM me!

e: found a homie. Other homies welcome if they want.

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 09:39 on May 9, 2017

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Children of Rho-Man, Issue #300- The Dissolution
1599 words


O Muse,
Sing to me of when darkness fell
And ended the Age of Heroes
When the Children of Rho-man
Took flight, and melted away into the shadows
And Rome was left to burn


The Children of Rho-Man are scattered. Many have left the organization, believing Rome would soon fall. Some joined foreign pantheons as new avatars of long-dead gods, some struck out on their own, and others simply disappeared- including bright Apollo, leader of the Rho-Men. Mars, aided by his lover Venus, has sworn revenge on the Romans for their faithlessness.

Mercury smuggles fallen heroes out of the Empire, but for a heavy price- banishment, or complete surrender of their extraordinary powers.

The remaining Rho-Men, grey-eyed Minerva and keen Diana, must now decide whether to save themselves- or remain in Rome, and fight their betrayers.


“The Emperors have closed the Temple of Mars!”

Heads turned towards the crier. Minerva pulled her palla over her face and nudged Diana, who casually ate an apple as she watched.

That’s not going to complicate anything,” Diana muttered under her breath.

Some onlookers cheered. Others shouted in anger. Minerva grabbed Diana’s hand and pulled her into a nearby alleyway.

“Mars is unstable,” Minerva said urgently. “You know he’s going to take revenge for this. There’s no telling what destruction he and Venus will wreak. I can’t fight him by myself.”

“I’m sorry to say this, but I think it’s time we talk to Mercury.”

“No!’ Minerva set her jaw. “I won’t give up. We have a chance, and we’re going to take it.”

Diana sighed. “What’s your brilliant plan, then?”

“We’re going to strike a deal with the Egyptians.”

Diana dropped the apple core in disbelief. “You’re not serious.”

“Mars and Venus two are too strong for us on our own. Mars’s might, combined with Venus’s empathetic powers…they’d convince the citizens to tear us apart in a blood orgy, and then each other.” She ignored the disgust on Diana’s face. “But the Egyptian gods haven’t yet been displaced. They still reign. And Aset made the first overture.”

“The gods of Egypt won’t last much longer, themselves,” Diana argued.

“But this will give us a chance to regroup, to plan. Somewhere safe to hide, at least. Tonight is the deadline to contact the Egyptian intermediary.” Minerva swallowed and forced out the words: “After tonight, the other Old Gods withdraw from Rome, and we’re on our own.”

“No,” Diana reminded her, “We can still ask Mercury for help. He’s family. Can’t we trust him?”

“I don’t like the limitations of his offer,” Minerva said. She thought for a moment. “Let’s call on both of them.”

“Why would we do that?”

“We can consider each offer. The Egyptians first, and if we don’t like their deal…I suppose we’ll strike one with Mercury.”

Diana smiled grimly. “Either way, we’re leaving Rome tonight.”

Not if I can help it, Minerva thought to herself.


As the news about the Temple of Mars spread across the city, so did rioting and looting. Mars had been revered as the father of the Roman people; many resented the closure. Others were more than happy to attack those dissenters. Still more took advantage of the chaos to load their pockets. Far from the violence, in an anonymous neighborhood, Diana walked alone.

It was dark, and strangely quiet. Most residents had undoubtedly joined the looting. Diana’s ability to move silently had never been more useful- the slightest sound would have been jarring. As she made her way down the street, Diana had a strange feeling that monsters lay under the ground, waiting to reach up through the sewers and pull her down. One foot in front of the other, she imagined being flanked by the Rho-Men as in days past: Minerva next to her, then Venus, then Mercury and Mars, with Apollo just ahead. An impregnable flank. A family of heroes.

The dwelling was small, a hovel. One window held a dirty lamp, its oil spluttering in the wind. Diana rapped at the door.

The Egyptian envoy was a wizened old Greek woman, eyes milky and blind. She ushered Diana in and offered her nothing, just stared at her impertinently.

“Speak, crone!’ Diana eventually ordered.

The hag smiled, her teeth surprisingly good, and Diana suddenly had a flash of memory, of beauty and sun-kissed skin. “Cassandra,” she acknowledged.

The woman kept smiling, and said nothing.

“You’re not going to talk?” Before Cassandra could respond, Diana said quickly, “What color is the sky?”

“Blue.”

Diana was immediately struck by a wave of disgust. “How dare you lie to a daughter of Jupiter?” she cried.

The old woman cackled. Diana remembered herself, and sat down. There was no way she could ask this woman any questions. “How can you possibly help me?” she cried. “I won’t believe anything you say.”

Cassandra arranged her clothes before perching across from Diana. “I sometimes avoid absolutes,” she said quietly, “and perhaps a wise woman would consider my thoughts before she dismisses them.”

“I’ll try,” Diana said. “Now. What does the goddess Aset promise us?”

“It seems this was written by Aset’s hand, so perhaps it will be easier to believe,” Cassandra said. She drew a folded papyrus from her chiton and handed it to Diana.

Diana skimmed the list. A promise of friendship, shared power, a place in the pantheon- not much more attractive than what Mercury offered, except without the caveat of banishment. Inwardly, she cursed- Minerva had seemed so confident in this plan. “This isn’t much better than Mercury’s deal,” she said dismissively. “What else can Aset give us?”

Cassandra shrugged. “I know well that your brothers cannot be trusted,” she said bitterly. “Aset is honest, and offers what you see. Anything more, you cannot trust me to explain. Either you place herself in her hands, or you don’t.” She laughed again. “It is good enough for me that you all leave. The gods of Rome should never rise again.”

Quietly, Diana stood and left, the creased paper still in her hand. Cassandra’s hateful laughter followed her out.



Minerva spat out the blood and thrust upwards with her shield, hoping to fend off her brother’s attack. Mars connected with such force the aegis buckled slightly, and Minerva screamed in rage. She kicked out, hitting his knee and dropping him to the ground, but a wave of his bloodlust hit her, clouding her mind. Dimly, summoning the last of her telepathic command, Minerva ordered one of her owls to find and alert Diana. Mars took advantage of her distraction and bashed her again.

“Good, keep going,” she heard Venus purr from her couch. Minerva winced as Mars bore down harder. Angrier than she was hurt, she pushed to her feet with all her might. The force sent Mars flying into a set of jars.

“Oof,” he grunted, struggling to his feet. “You bitch, you—“

“Quiet!” she ordered, readying herself for another blow. “Stand down, you mad-eyed fool! You’ll topple the whole Empire with these antics.”

“That’s the idea,” Mars said smugly.

Minerva braced herself. As Mars came towards her, roaring, Venus hit her with an unexpected blast of wind. Between the force of Mars’ blow and the whirlwind, Minerva flew clear through the wall and crashed into the garden, followed by a trail of cruel laughter.

The stars spun madly as she struggled to sit, then collapsed. She kept her energies quiet as she lay back. Despite the distant screams from Roman rioters and the stink of fire, it was, she thought foolishly, a beautiful night.

“I can’t feel her energies anymore!’ she heard Mars announce. “The stubborn cow is finally dead.”

“Of course she is, dearest.” Minerva could almost hear Venus rolling her eyes. She wanted to laugh.

“Mars is stupider than we thought, if he believes her,” Diana’s whisper came from the shadows.

Minerva felt her sister’s touch, and immediately the pain lessened. “By Jupiter,” she whispered, “Just in time.”

“Good hunting is mostly good timing,” Diana said automatically. It had been something of a catchphrase. She lugged Minerva to a sitting position, cradling her head. “Time to go,” she said.

“What happens when we leave?”

Diana thought, then said: “The people will find something else to save them. Or they won’t be saved. It’s not for us to try anymore.” She stood and helped Minerva to her feet. “The Rho-Men are finished, at least for now. Let Mars wear himself out. Venus will finish the job.”

Minerva could see a figure in the distance- a dog? A man?- flipping a coin, and seemingly waiting.

Grey-eyed Minerva stood and considered her sister. “You should go now,” she said quietly, picking up her shield.

“We’ll both go- to Alexandria,” Diana said.

Minerva nodded slowly. She readied the shield and stood as tall as she could. “I am of Rho-Man,” was all she said in response.

“Are you sure?”

Another nod.

Diana touched her sister’s cheek. “You won’t be forgotten.”

“We’ll make it, somehow,” Minerva replied. She picked up her helmet, gave Diana a final look, then turned and rushed back towards the Temple of Mars with a mighty roar.

Diana turned and fled to the jackal-man, who held the lead of a moon-white stag. She grabbed the rope from him and lightly hit the haunches of the deer. “Follow her, Actaeon!”

The Temple of Mars erupted in flame. “There is no time,” the Egyptian said. “We must leave now.”

“I’m ready!” Diana looked back at the conflagration. “Minerva…see you soon,” she whispered.


DID MINERVA SURVIVE? WILL DIANA ESCAPE? FIND OUT IN ISSUE #301…ARRIVAL IN ALEXANDRIA!

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


sebmojo posted:

fixed link. still no av suggestions :choco:

Your comments were really awesome, so I suggest a butt, but a NICE butt, like maybe wearing a Philip Treacy hat and white gloves.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


I guess I'm in.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Solitair, I didn't ask for a flash before, but can I have one? Also, :toxx: what the hell

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


[b]The Girl in the Vlog[/i]
:toxx: and flash
2650 words

My friend Leo actually found the video. He sent it to me with the caption “Biggest internet trainwreck ever.” The title- “Sailor Venus and Naruto Debate! Who’s More Orange?”- didn’t really arouse my interest. Leo had a knack for finding the worst things online, but what he considered screamingly funny I often found mystifying at best. Not expecting to endure more than a few seconds, I clicked play.

The debate between Sailor Venus (an obese woman with an oversized bow headband and scraggly blond hair) and Naruto (an equally-doughy man whose screechy voice didn’t match his bulk) consisted mainly of accusations in half-assed Japanese about who was more “baka” and “urusai,” and hitting each other with anime plushies. Pure monkeycheese. I lasted less than a minute before I paused the video and went to write Leo a derisive reply.

As I clicked “pause,” something about the flopping “Venus” caught my eye, and I looked more carefully at the frozen image.

She had at least ten years and a hundred pounds on me, but the resemblance was remarkable. We had the same long, slightly hooked nose, and a distinct similarity around the eyes. She had thick eyebrows like me, although hers had been inexpertly bleached to a brassy blondish color.

I had an inexplicable, creepy feeling, and it got worse the longer I looked. This woman didn’t just look like me- she looked like my mother. A lot like her, actually.

I closed the window, erased my browser history, and blinked at my desktop. Then I immediately opened my browser again and started nervously surfing around Facebook, looking up all my maternal family. I waded through various second and third cousins, the ex-husbands of my two aunts, and a dubious-looking NASCAR fan page run by my cousin’s former stepbrother. I didn’t see the woman from the video anywhere.

This is your imagination, I told myself. Sometimes, people just look alike. You should be more worried about Leo telling everyone that the freak in the video is you, as a joke.

No matter what I told myself, I couldn’t shake the creepy feeling. I had no idea why, but I felt instinctively that this girl and I were somehow connected. My brain kept running through a million possibilities. Maybe she was just a very distant cousin? That wouldn’t be too bad, although the thought of some cheesy-smelling weeaboo freak at my family reunion made me cringe.

I became obsessed with her, watching all of her videos in a single weekend. She went by Venus, or V-chan, and called her vlog…the V-Log. Most of her uploads were typical fangirl bullshit, yammering about Pocky and which characters were sexy. Things like that. The more I watched her material, the more I worried.

When I finally broached the subject to my parents, they didn’t say anything for a long time. My dad looked at my mom. My mom looked down.

I knew.

She had been a college student. The father wasn’t her boyfriend. She met him once, on vacation in Florida, and by the time she knew she was pregnant, she’d forgotten the guy’s name. My mother had the baby, a girl, and put her up for adoption.

“My own mother was dead, and your grandfather and I weren’t very close,” she told me as I stood, stunned, in the kitchen. “He wouldn’t have accepted the situation. I didn’t have any money, Mandy, what else could I have done? I was heartbroken, but it was the best option I had.”

Even though I’d been suspicious for a full week, even though I had mentally prepared for this exact situation, my chest still stung like it was full of bees. I couldn’t think of anything as I stared at her, my face prickling with heat.

“Honey, say something, please.”

I shook my head, pressing my lips together hard, before walking away and locking myself in my room. As I lay on my bed, shuddering tears into my pillow, I could hear them yelling at each other.

For the next week, I walked around in a cranky daze. I don’t think I handed in a single sheet of homework. Friends would say something to me and I’d barely respond, sunk too deep in my anger and feelings of betrayal. It’s not that I really cared about my mom having had another kid and giving it up, but why hadn’t she told me before? Why hadn’t anyone mentioned this missing sister? I had always thought my parents trusted me, maybe even respected me, but this situation completely decimated that idea. For the first time, I faced the fact that my parents not only had a past, but a whole life that didn’t include me. I didn’t like it.

As angry as I was, I knew I couldn’t show Venus’s videos to my mom- they were too pathetic. Mom deserved to be punished for a lie this huge, but I knew she would be crushed to see what a mess this girl was.

Venus loved to overshare. Along with showing viewers how she was growing thick dark hairs on her chin and a hideous rendition of some anime song on the ukulele, she also shared her general location. Not her exact address, but the neighborhood she lived in, and the name of a Japanese restaurant she frequented. Luckily for me, she lived in the same metropolitan area as my family, so spying on her wouldn’t be difficult at all.

I had only told my best friend about my family’s sudden secret shame. Chelsea had been shocked, even more so after watching a few of Venus’s videos, but she immediately agreed that the weird girl looked like me and my mother. We planned a quiet reconnaissance mission to the ersatz Sailor Scout’s neighborhood.

“So, what happens if you actually run into her?” Chelsea asked as we drove up to Venus’s part of town.

I kept my eyes on the road. “Honestly? I have no idea.”

“Do you think we should try to talk to her?”

“What am I going to say? ‘Oh, I’ve seen you on the internet and I think you’re lame, by the way I might be your sister, good luck with scream-crying for attention because somebody said you’re too fat to cosplay’?”

“I mean, you could start with ‘hi.’”

I thought for a moment. “What if she doesn’t know she’s adopted?”

Chelsea snorted. “Come on, who doesn’t know they’re adopted? Also, she’s old. Like, not old, but in her thirties. Even if she didn’t know, for some reason, she could probably deal.”

I turned onto a side street and started looking for somewhere to park. “She doesn’t act like she’s in her thirties. I mean, maybe she’s actually crazy. If I come up to her with all this stuff, she might Hulk out and attack me.”

“I promise if she does that, I’ll get in the car and lock the doors to protect myself.”

“Thaaaanks.”

We found the restaurant easily enough, a small, neat storefront with a moon-shaped sign. They had just opened, and the place was empty. Our waitress didn’t even bat an eye when we asked for a table in the back. Chelsea and I settled in, ordered drinks, and waited. I knew from her vlog that Venus went to this restaurant every Wednesday, so it was just a matter of time before she appeared. Chelsea and I figured she’d get takeout, unless she arrived with one of her equally tragic friends. If the former scenario occurred, Chelsea would hold the table while I followed Venus out. Otherwise, we’d simply move to a closer table or eavesdrop, depending on which seemed easier.

After we’d had two bowls of edamame and three beers between us, Chelsea suddenly pointed to something above my head. “Holy poo poo.”

“What?” I turned to look. It was a small blackboard displaying the day’s specials. At the bottom, in pink chalk, it read, “Fans of Venus-Chan get 20% off!”

“Holy poo poo,” I echoed.

Just then, Venus walked in.

She was short and seemed rather shy in person. She also didn’t look quite as greasy as she did on camera. Granted, she was wearing a Naruto t-shirt, but other than that she seemed pretty normal.

The waitress greeted her, “Hey, Mikayla.”

Konbanwa,” she responded, with a bow.

The waitress just smiled. “The usual?”

Hai..” Venus/Mikayla sat down at the bar and began playing with her phone.

Chelsea waved at me, and I suddenly realized I’d been staring with my mouth hanging open. What’re you gonna do? she mouthed at me.

I don’t know! I mouthed back, throwing my hands up emphatically.

One of the cooks emerged from the back, carrying a white plastic bag stuffed with food. He greeted Venus patiently as she spoke to him in what sounded like baby Japanese, then handed over the bag. She gave him a wad of cash, slid off the stool, and left the restaurant.

“I’m gonna do it,” I whispered to Chelsea.

“What?”

The second Venus was out of sight, I made for the door. I heard Chelsea say something as I pushed it open and stepped out onto the sidewalk, looking from side to side. Venus was just turning the corner when I spotted her.

I had no idea what the gently caress I was going to do. All I could feel was a sort of urgency, a pressure in my upper chest and throat. Now, I was thinking, now. I didn’t know what answers I was hoping to find, but I knew I had to talk to this girl.

I followed her for a bit, deafened by nerves, until I finally forced myself to speed up and call out in a light, strained voice, “Venus! Uhhh, excuse me, are you Venus-chan?”

She turned around. Face to face, I could see even more similarities between us- the hairline. Freckles around the eyes. I stopped walking and opened my mouth to say absolutely nothing. There were so many feelings, so many different things I wanted to ask her, that I simply couldn’t say anything at all.

Venus gave me a tired smile. In real life, maybe because of the natural light, she didn’t look quite as busted as she did in her videos. “Hi,” she said politely, “Yes, it’s me.”

“I, um, I saw your videos,” I stammered.

“I figured. So, you want an autograph or a selfie or something? I’m about to eat, so maybe— “

“I think I’m your sister,” I blurted out.

Venus blinked, then took a step back. She gave a little laugh. “Is this an otherkin thing?”

“No, I know you’re adopted and I think I’m your sister,” I said in a rush. Then I gave a little gasp of mixed surprise and relief that I had said it outright.

Venus just stared at me for a moment. “What the gently caress is wrong with you?”

I hadn’t expected that response. “I…just…my mom had a baby in college and she gave it up, and we look alike, so I thought…”

“You thought what, that you’d come find me and freak me out with some weird story? What, you want money or something?”

“I just wanted to see if you maybe were my sister,” I half-mumbled.

“Uh-huh, right,” she said. “You hate my videos and you’re not content with trolling on YouTube, so you decided to track me down and gently caress with me.”

“What? No, I— “

“Look, you loving psycho.” She stepped up to me and looked me right in the eyes. “I don’t care if you think I’m fat, or pathetic, or whatever. I make those videos as a goofy thing with my friends, and if you don’t like them, you can gently caress OFF!” She shrieked the last two words, startling a nearby bird. “I’m SICK of being followed by you trolls everywhere! Leave me the gently caress alone! If you show up again, I’ll call the loving cops.”

Before I could say anything else, she was walking away briskly, almost running. I watched her frizzy curls bounce as she rushed around another corner and was lost from sight. She didn’t look back.

When I got back to the restaurant, Chelsea was practically vibrating with anticipation. “Did you talk to her? What happened? Was she weird? Did she show you her chin hairs again?”

I sat, numb.

“I ordered a bunch of sushi and stuff. What the hell happened?”

The waitress came over with a plate of cucumber rolls. “You guys watch Mikayla's videos, huh?” she asked. “We love her here!”

“Really?” asked Chelsea.

“Oh, yeah. She started coming in right after we opened and talked us up on her blog. She’s kind of weird, but she always tips a lot, and she actually brings in customers.” The waitress pointed to the special board. “You get a 20% discount here if you found us on her blog.”

“Awesome, thanks!” Chelsea said, just as I said, “No, thank you.”

“What the hell, Mandy?”

“We’re not fans,” I said, too loudly. “Definitely not.”

“Um…” The waitress looked from me to Chelsea. “Okay, then.”

When the waitress walked away, Chelsea hissed, “What the gently caress, dude? Why did you do that? What happened with Sailor Sad?”

“Nothing.” I cleared my throat. “Nothing, I just decided…to follow her. See where she went. But, uh, I lost track of her.”

Chelsea groaned in disappointment. “We’ll have to come back next week,” she said, breaking apart her chopsticks and diving into the sushi. “And I want that discount next time.”

When I got home that night, my parents were out, and I was glad. It had been almost four hours since my encounter with Venus. I went to her YouTube channel, knowing what I would find.

That night’s vlog consisted of her loudly and messily consuming her takeout, naming and describing each dish with a flourish of bad Japanese pronunciation. Even though her lip-smacking and nomming was incredibly painful to hear, I sat there and forced myself to endure every moist chomp. She did advertise the restaurant- “Tsuki no gohan wa oishii desu! It’s on Orchard Street across from Rite Aid! Mention V-chan and you get twenty percent off your bill!”

Finally, upon finishing her meal, Venus stared straight at the camera and said, “And now, it’s time for a rant.”

“You know, I’m aware that some of you…maybe don’t like my videos? And, hey! That’s fine! I don’t expect everyone in the world to like my stuff. But something happened today, and I’m not gonna get into details, but let’s just say I’m totally sick of being followed by stalkers everywhere.” She paused for a moment, nodding sagely. “Yeah, you heard me- I’ve got a stalker. And let me tell you guys, whatever you think of me? There’s nothing sadder than this person who threatened me today. Someone who actually tried to follow me home so they could mess with me, and that’s hosed up.”

I started feeling those hot face prickles again.

“I am comfortable with myself and the stuff I do,” she continued, thumping her chest assertively. Rather like a gorilla. “I have a lot of people who love me- I have a family who loves me- so, strange girl with the huuuuge eyebrows who came after me today, guess what? I’m not loving adopted, and your coming up to me and telling me that I am is not only totally stupid, but I know it’s fake!” She held up a ragged photo of a sonogram. “This is me. If I’m adopted, how come I have this? Huh? Bitch.”

I shut down the video before she finished.

After sitting and staring blankly at my monitor for a few minutes, wondering what to do next, I heard my phone beep. Of course, it was Chelsea. I let it ring. We’d talk about the latest vlog later, when I didn’t feel so confused. And guilty. And stupid.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Maybe It's Puke
98 words


Janet was scraping something lumpy and greyish off her foot with a ruler when I walked in. “Look at what your loving cat did!” she bellowed, waving her foot at me accusingly. “Do you even know what this is? Is it poo poo?”

It was then that I realized she and I had no future.

“If you can’t tell the difference between poo poo and a hairball,” I said carefully, “You can get the gently caress out of my house.”

When Janet left, I held the cat in my lap. “Thank you for giving me an excuse,” I whispered to him.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


IN A WORLD WITHOUT AUTOTROPHS

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


I'm out. :smith: Had some hardware issues and ended up not being able to do a bunch of work I'm behind on, so I gotta catch up. Good luck to everyone else, hopefully see you next week.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


In, :toxx:, flash but don't anyone dare conflate my glorious Greek and Egyptian ancestors with those...animals from Skyrim. jk mostly Welsh lol

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Spaekona :toxx:
1481 words


When I open my eyes, I’m lying on the beach. Salt crusts my lips, burns my eyes, separates my hair into gluey clumps. I’m soaking wet, as if I’d just crawled out of the sea instead of awakening beside it.

I remember, and I look.

The house is still a house- four walls and something of a roof. The thatch looks patchy and bare, but the beams hold.

I remember, and I walk.

The boy and girl can’t be older than twelve or thirteen, and their childish behavior- yelling, running, teasing- irks me. When I was thirteen, I was married, and had no more chances for idle play.

“You won’t make it up there,” the girl says doubtfully.

“Watch me,” boasts the boy. He does look capable- brawny and tall, like Erik at that age.

“You’re going to fall!” The boy ignores her, hoisting himself up. The loose mortar of the stone walls crumbles under his fingers. The girl looks anxiously at the roof. “My father says these old houses are all rotten. The roof’s going to fall in.”

“No, it’s not,” he says dismissively, but I feel his energies ripple with nerves. You don’t have to do this. Turn around and go home, I tell him.

The girl turned suddenly. “What was that?”

“What?”

“I thought I heard someone talking,” she says suspiciously, looking in my direction.

She cannot see me, not yet. On her forehead is the mark of Freyja, very faintly glowing. If she was two years older, she would have seen me standing by the old longhouse, but as yet she is only slightly aware. A sleeping cat’s ear twitches when a breeze blows past, but the cat does not awaken.

“No one’s here, Inge. Don’t be silly.” The boy is already scrabbling up the roof, dislodging hunks of ancient thatch. “Ugh, this smells worse than Old Asa’s privy.”

“My father told me these old houses are haunted, too,” Inge continued. She has her skirts gathered, clenched in her hand, as if getting ready to flee.

“Well, if I see a ghost, I’ll protect you,” says the boy. Inge rolls her eyes.

I follow her in. The darkness is alleviated only by the gaping doorway, and holes in the walls where rocks have fallen out. As Inge stops to let her eyes adjust, I slide past, standing protectively in front of the ladder.

When Erik boasted, it was better than any legend. We would nestle in the furs and he would tell me of his exploits, his talents, his shining ways. I thought his marvelous words could slake thirst, turn brackish water fresh, stop the day and bring on the night. When he told me he could do something, I believed him. I believed everything.

Erik helped build the longhouse, and I had followed him in just as I follow Inge now. I was older than her, and newly breeding. Erik and his brother Torunn built the frame by themselves, and the roof had been put up that day. The two men were laughing together, perched precariously on ladders and not a little affected by mead. It was twilight.

“I’m going to write my name,” Torunn said.

“You don’t know how to write,” Erik scoffed.

Torunn bristled. He never gave much weight to anything Erik said. “I know how to write my name, you rear end.”

“Fine, as you wish,” Erik said. “I’m going to write something a little grander.”

“Of course, you are.”

“Erik, don’t do anything that’ll get you in trouble,” I said. I didn’t really think he would, but I was tired and felt ill, and wanted to go back to our own longhouse. “Can we just go home? I’m hungry.”

“In a minute, love,” Erik said. Bracing himself against the wall, he started carving the fresh wood. “I’m going to write, ‘These runes were carved by the man most skilled in runes in the western ocean.’”

“Which you are not,” Torunn said.

Erik laughed, looked back at me, and winked. “But who will know? No one else is going to climb up here until the roof needs repairing, and they won’t have to replace the roof until long after I’m dead. The next person to see this will believe it.”

“Impress my future grandchildren if you want, Erik,” Torunn said. He had climbed down and was dusting off his hands. “Your wife is right. It’s time to eat, and I’m going home.”

“Go with him, Astrid.”

I had an uneasy feeling. “No, I want to wait for you.”

“I’ll be a while yet. Go on, get some food. I’ll see you soon.”

When I awoke alone the next morning, I knew what had happened. My family tried to keep me still as I wrenched, sobbing, from their grasping hands and ran half-mad towards the unfinished longhouse. Torunn caught me before I could see Erik. He was the one who had found his brother crumpled at the foot of the ladder, his neck twisted impossibly backwards. It was a strange way to die, the men all agreed. It seemed too dire an injury for such a short fall.

They would not bring me to him. They never did. I fought for almost an hour against their confining hands, their meaningless placations, before the spaekona came with her wand and herbs and silenced me. I woke a day later to find that my child had fallen away with its father. Then I fell into the sea myself.

Erik had surpassed even his original claim, and carved his falsehood down the entire length of the beam. The runes are covered in grime and hard to see in the dim light, and the children cannot read them. “This is old Viking writing,” Inge tells the boy. “Old Asa showed me once. She didn’t know how to read them, though.”

He squints. “I can’t see them from here. I’m going to climb up.”

“Harald, don’t you dare, that ladder is hundreds of years old!”

“It’s sturdy enough.” Harald kicks the ladder. “Look, it barely moved.”

Because I’m holding it.

“Don’t do it,” Inge warns. She eyes the old beam with suspicion. “It’s probably cursed. I bet if you read those words out loud, you’d die or something.”

Harald reaches for the ladder.

Inge’s eyes widen. The mark on her forehead grows brighter, and I smile. “Harald, don’t— “

I burst into corporeality.

My flesh grotesque, white and bloated and nibbled on by fish for so long. Half my face rotten, the other half perfectly preserved and beautiful. As the children scream, I, too, open my mouth and vomit long snakes of seaweed, foul with the stench of dead sailors and rotten animals. “LEAVE THIS PLACE!” I howl, pulling the fishy strands from my mouth. “LEAVE OR BE DEVOURED!”

Harald screams like a slaughtered pig and almost pushes Inge over in his desperation to get away. He runs. The girl just stares.

“GO, YOU FOOL, OR I SHALL DRAG YOU TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA!” I scream at her, pointing to the door with my skeletal hand. One of my fingers falls off, and she jumps.

“Hel,” she whispers.

This is taking too long. I pull a fish corpse out of the tatters of my dress and wave it at her. “THIS FISH IS MORE ALIVE THAN YOU WILL BE IF YOU DON’T GO NOW!”

Inge clasps her hands. “Hel, please don’t take me with you, please, I’ll do anything you want, I’m a good person, I help my mother, I help my brother--” She babbles at me.

Brave. A good candidate for spaekona, I think, as I hurl the spectral fish at her. This has the desired effect, and she escapes with a shriek.

Erik carved no curse, but his pride killed him after all. Much later, I found he had cut down a sacred tree to make that beam. That was bad enough, but carving his braggart’s lie into the wood was doubly blasphemous. The gods punished him with death. And me, with recurring death. With vigilance.

The next time someone entered the abandoned structure, I would wake up on the beach again, soaked and rotten. I would frighten them away, to keep them from touching the profaned beam and enraging the old gods. I could not have saved my husband, but I can save Torunn’s descendants, the people who would have been my own.

When the spaekona put me to sleep that day, she knew what would happen. She could not have prevented my fall. Her words of sleep were also words of binding, of servitude, that I could return and protect others from the same fate as Erik’s.

Until the beam falls back to the ground and becomes part of the earth again, I am bound to it, avowed to keeping others from death. This is my only task, and I will carry it out.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


I would legitimately buy this comic.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


In with flash fiction.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Part-Time Work
743 words

Most of them just want to talk. Fine with me.

“My name is Candaaaaccce,” I half-whisper into the phone. “What’s your name, baby?”

If they could see us- hoodies, Technicolor dye jobs, black triangle tattoos and cellulite and bad teeth. I’ve seen our commercials- those girls must have crawled out of a shipping container right before filming. They’re not even cute, and they’re a lot better-looking than most of us. How is this sexy at all, to anyone?

The man gives me his name. We talk about nothing, really- I’m highlighting vocabulary in my Spanish textbook as we go, pausing to inject “Ooooh” or “Wow, that’s so great/cool/interesting.”

From the first question they ask, my brain turns off and my mouth spews a rehearsed backstory: Candace, nineteen, Southern (unless the caller is actually from the South himself; my accent won’t hold up to scrutiny), likes fellatio and bubble baths, hates when you hang up, baby! It is so formulaic.

Linda drops a coffee on my desk and takes my money just as I let out a yodeling orgasm. “Take it down a notch,” she whispers, as the man on the other line groans with pleasure. I’ve had conversations about restaurants in Boston, been given packing tips, even dissected the plot of a Star Trek episode, but I’ve never once had a man complain about my cartoonish ejaculations. I’ve never complained about theirs, after all.

Somewhere around the third hour of work, the greyish blankness creeps into my mind. It’s soothing, a relief from my niggling guilt and paranoia that the customer will suddenly ask, “Are you paying attention?” or “What’s your real name?” It’s an excuse to quit studying and just talk, meaningless and effortless, until my jaw is sore and my throat is scratchy and I am, amazingly, three hundred dollars richer.

Strip clubs, I muse, make sense. Porn makes sense. Erotica. But this? This is so empty. The man on the line is asking if I have a big, black pussy. Why does it matter? You can’t see it. Might as well not ask, and just imagine what you want.

The next customer is a repeat. I get a bonus when they request me, and he’s okay- just wants to chat about movies, usually, so we do that.

I’m ninety minutes from going home and swapping my sweatpants for worse sweatpants when he says, “Candace, what I like about you is that you really seem to enjoy this.”

“Oh, yeah, I do.”

“You’re just really easy to talk to.”

“Mmm, I’m good at a lot of things, baby.”

“It’s been nice chatting with you lately,” the man continues. Something changes in his voice. “It’s just…I travel a lot, you know, I don’t meet a lot of people. I feel pretty isolated.”

Trying pretending to cram your fist in your pussy while actually cramming for Calculus, I don’t say. “Ohhh, that’s too bad, sweetheart. You know, I get lonely sometimes, too, but you always help me with that, don’t you?”

Now I hear crying. I sit up straighter. “Everything okay there, baby? Want to talk about it?”

He lets out a very non-sexual moan. gently caress, this is not what I signed up for. “Hey,” I say, my accent slipping a bit. “Are you all right?”

“It’s just…” He heaves. “Sometimes you’re the only one I can talk to.”

My heart plummets. This is definitely not what I signed up for. My hand hovers over the button to release the call.

“You don’t know me,” the disembodied voice continues. “You don’t know the things I’ve done, the things I was supposed to be, and I’m not that person, I’m not— “

Tell me about it, I can’t say. “Look, everyone’s life is different from— “

He doesn't pause.. “You think I’m pathetic, don’t you?”

“No- “

“You think I’m just some sad gently caress who can only meet women on the phone?”

“I didn’t say that.”

I can hear it in his voice. “You…think I should be ashamed of myself…don’t you?”

Oh. “You should totally be ashamed,” I half-coo and half-hiss. “You’re sick, you perverted piece of poo poo, you disgust me. You’re an animal. Your cock makes me sick. Pathetic motherfucker!”

Phlegm rattles in his throat as he comes, and he hangs up without saying goodbye. I’m faintly disappointed- that was almost an actual conversation.

Anyways, he’ll call back the same time next week. I pick up my textbook and get back to real life.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Permanent Interprompt
5 words

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Judging at any speed is okay. I believe in everyone!

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Women hold up half the world of literature!

AIM HIGH IN CREATION!

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


In avec un Papillon s'il vous plait~

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Failed. Too busy with work. :smith:

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


In. Cover me! :toxx:

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.



oh poo poo yeah

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.



Devoured by Shitweasels
998 words

Captain Hardwick peered through the grate. “The coast is clear,” he whispered.

Jessica deftly guided the multitool’s cutting laser around the edges of the grate. It fell to the floor with a whump. “After you, sir.”

Hardwick jumped down, then put out a hand for Jessica. “Status report.”

She activated her scanner and turned in a slow, careful circle. “The only lifeforms I see are substantially smaller than Shitweasels, Captain.”

He tutted. “Such language, honey!”

“Everyone calls them that, sir,” she shot back, “Anyways, I don’t detect any lifeforms the size of a mature Scheissewiesel.”

Hardwick looked nobly into the vast expanses of space. “To think this was once an Earth craft,” he said sadly. “So many lives lost, and for what? So that a passel of dung-eating space ferrets could gallivant around the galaxy, as if they’d actually achieved sentience?”

“They don’t eat feces, they’re Scheissewiesels because—“

“Make a note of any technological adaptations, Lieutenant. I’m going to get the subspace communicator working.” He sat in the pilot’s chair, wincing as he hit the unpadded seat.

Jessica sighed and looked around. There wasn’t much to note. The seats had large, circular holes cut in them, probably to accommodate tails. She couldn’t see any other significant changes.

More important, she privately thought, was the number of small lifeforms running around in other parts of the ship. None of them were in the walls- they hadn’t seen any sign of animal activity in the ventilation system- and there was no sign of them in the cockpit. “Captain, do you see any evidence of animal activity around the control panel? Droppings, loose hairs, perhaps something that might have been nibbling on the wires? The scanner is picking up multiple smaller lifeforms.”

He looked at her with supreme irritation. “Lieutenant, I don’t care about some rats in the walls. Do your job.”

Rebuked, Jessica looked again. The red dots representing life forms were heading towards the cockpit. “They’re coming this way!”

“Well, then close the goddamn door,” the Captain snapped as the console emitted a pained squawk. “Dammit, woman, I’m a captain, not a…a panel-fixing guy. I need to concentrate. Stop yapping.”

Jessica closed the door. Then she saw a roughly-cut square hole- like a catflap- at the bottom. “Oh, poo poo.”

“Language!”

The dots were moving faster. Jessica looked for something to block the catflap, but nothing was loose. “Captain, I can’t block their access!”

Several small, dark shapes streaked through the catflap.

“gently caress!”

“Language,” the captain said again, unconcerned. He barely looked back.

The little weasels looked at Jessica with blood-red eyes. Paralyzed, she stared back. There were at least twelve of them, and they were rather cute, once you discounted their murderous gaze. “Hello,” she said automatically, “I am Jessica Storm of the USS Chernobyl. I come in peace.”

“Is it just little ones?” Hardwick asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, keep an eye on them. They’re no threat.”

Jessica put her back against the wall, and readied her scanner. She didn’t have a weapon, but she could use the cutting laser to defend herself.

One of the little weasels stood on its hind legs and chirruped. Jessica smiled, closing her mouth to keep from baring her teeth, and said, “Hello.”

The weasel stayed standing. Its head swiveled towards the captain, then back at Jessica. It mewled twice, then looked at the captain again. The other weasels followed his gaze.

“Captain, we should go.”

Before Hardwick could reply, the apparent leader of the weasels took a few bounding steps and launched itself straight into the hole in the chair. The others leapt on his shoulders, backs, arms- within seconds, the Captain was covered in weasels and had risen, screaming.

Jessica fired the cutting laser at one weasel, but missed. “Hold still, Captain, I can’t get a good angle!”

“They’re eating my rear end in a top hat!” was Hardwick’s reply. Flailing wildly, he slammed his body into whatever surfaces were nearby, trying to shake the weasels. Jessica fired, trying not to hit the captain, but the weasels didn’t seem to care. More were streaming through the hole in the door, joining the others, until the captain was nothing more than a furry mass, his screams muffled. Blood dripped onto the filthy carpet.

Jessica tried to pull herself back up into the vent, but just as she dropped her tool and reached up, a full-grown Scheissewiesel forced the door open. She had never seen an adult this close before, and it was terrifying: the long body contorted with massive muscles, claws curved and wicked. It sniffed the air, the stench of blood and poo poo clearly exciting it, before slamming Jessica into the wall by her throat.

She struggled, pulling desperately at the cage-like talons, but couldn’t dislodge them. Her head swam. Frantically, she kicked out, but her feet hit the creature with nothing but pathetic little thumps. It barely registered her attack.

The monster rubbed its face on hers. “Loooook,” it hissed.

Jessica looked. The weasels now stood around Hardwick in a circle, their lithe bodies covered in blood and bits of flesh. He was motionless except for his lower half, which was twitching. When Jessica saw half a furry body wiggling its way into the Captain’s rectum, she screamed.

The weasel disappeared, and the captain let out a hideous groan. Jerkily, he rose, and looked at Jessica. His eyes had been eaten.

Hardwick moved like a puppet, his arms and limbs shaking and jerking, as suddenly his body rippled and bulged. His torso lengthened before her eyes, his face longer, and lights appeared in the bloody pools of his eye sockets. Jessica could not stop screaming as the man’s body perverted itself. The rest of the weasels hummed a strange, keening note as Hardwick’s screams became triumphant chirps and growls.

The Scheissewiesel still held Jessica by the throat. “Now we make female,” it hissed. She smelled blood on its breath. “We get more big. Take Earth easy.”

She felt an inquisitive nose in her crotch.

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Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


In.

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