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Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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PROMPT I am reborn and wish to dome.

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Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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In, :toxx:, please give me a pic and a flash rule.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Benevolent Onlooker
]795 words

It began when the thieves stole fire from heaven.



It’s the last time, and I’m not going to cry.

I duck my head and step through the hole in the fence. The hole was there when this place was open- hell, it’s probably one of the reasons SuperWorld went out of business. We barely had the population to support an amusement park, anyways, let alone one you could sneak into that easily.

Jess and I were fourteen the last night SuperWorld was open. Big hair, blush like warpaint- the full eighties fashion onslaught. Our plan? To be the first girls at Lamont JHS to get high school boyfriends. Like taking fire from the gods, we would snatch hot men with cars from the older girls.

Left of the Scrambler, about thirty feet away, there is a bashed-up clown sculpture. He’s looked better. Graffiti crawls across his face; the sign he holds is covered in nasty words. That night, you couldn’t see his face from the ground, just shadows. A nose. A bulging eye. The square of his sign. I kept my eyes on him the whole time.

The boy’s name was Terry. I’d seen him at school and thought he was cute, and he was a senior. I couldn’t believe he was flirting with me, touching my hair. Jess mouthed “Jealous!” as he led me away into the shadow of the clown.

She didn’t see me be swallowed up, obliterated, but she saw me slinking off afterwards like a humiliated cat. Jess coaxed me out, cleaned me up. And she called the cops that night, not me, not that anyone ever believed that.

All the kids blamed me for SuperWorld closing. No one thought it would be forever, just until the investigation was over, but Terry had been busy. More girls came forward. The trial went on forever. You’d think, after almost a year of other girls saying they’d also been attacked, that people would have blamed me a little less.

I light another cigarette as I stare at the clown. He’s still smiling after all these years, though he looks more like the Joker now. Someone’s drawn a dick on his face. “I guess it’s your turn,” I tell him.

I never saw Terry again. He was never in the courtroom with me. For my sake? For his? I don’t know. I honestly don’t remember it well- not the incident, not the trial, not the people looking at me with pity and disgust on their faces. All I’ve really kept in my mind over the years was this clown, silhouetted against the candy lights of the amusement park, looking out over his domain as Terry pinned my wrists to the ground and blew hot, boozy breath in my face.

I never saw Jess again, either. She sat next to me in the car, holding my hand, whispered to me to tell my mom as she climbed out. I called her the next day and she sounded distant, harried. Then she stopped coming to the phone altogether. Most of my friends were like that, but I expected more from her. My parents told me she probably just felt terribly guilty, sucking face with George Katsopoulos while Terry…but she should have known I didn’t blame her. Shouldn’t she? Or did she feel bad that I was the one who got blamed for calling the cops and the park being shut down that nnight?

Tomorrow, it all comes down. I read it in the paper. “Elegant Establishments for the Elderly,” a gated community for “active seniors”. In this town, that’s a lot more useful than a half-rotted amusement park. A lot of people moved away after that horrible summer, my family included, and the town’s been dying ever since.

I wonder if I’ll stop thinking about it after SuperWorld is destroyed? The roller coaster looks like it’s been dipped in acid. The whole place is sour, sulking, like it knows its hours are numbered. Like it knows it’s almost my fault.

I heft the baseball bat. Cigarette hanging out of my mouth like a cartoon housewife, I start beating the poo poo out of the clown.

He’s solid, even after all these years, but I make a few dents- chips, almost- before he finally loses an arm, obscene signage dropping to the ground and shattering. That is satisfying, that is what I wanted! I pick up speed, smashing and smashing and losing my cigarette, it’s all coming the gently caress down, and now I’m bashing his head, his loving stupid smile! It’s gone, it’s erased—

The anger leaves me as suddenly as it came. I drop the bat. The clown is dead, in pieces all over the uneven concrete. His face is in smithereens. I won, and I have one cigarette left.

Why don’t I feel better?

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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I'll be judging next week instead (Kaishai will tell y'all why) but thank you, High-Quality Seafood. Cuz you are quality people.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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PRAMFT!

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Interprompt: I like tarsiers; write about tarsiers in 500 words or less, and you can have the same number of words for week 262 in addition to the actual wordcount limit (what is that, you ask? You'll see.) Also, I will crit any tarsier stories.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Innnnnn

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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magnificent7 posted:

As always, it's just an honor to be considered for DM. My soul is crushed, but by god I finally turned a story in. Thanks for reading it. I'm desperate to find out where I missed the mark, (you know, other than typos, dammit).

I had some thoughts.

To start:

- I have a very clear picture of the narrator in my mind. Like, I know exactly what his truck probably smells like. Well done.
- The story itself interests me. I would read more if this was the introduction to a longer piece.

Okay, so stuff that was less cool...

First all, punctuation. I don't mean your lack of quotation marks, which I took to be a stylistic choice. I'm talking missing commas. That is my least favorite variety of comma.

Second, sentence structure:

you posted:

Eric says the air ain’t bad and runs on ahead to check the metal doors, maybe one of them opened to a room instead of emergency stairs.

This sentence is good, but it's bad. It's good in that I feel like you're expressing things in the narrator's voice, which is unique. It's bad because, even though I do understand your meaning, there's a tense shift mid-sentence. I'm not usually stabby about tense changes, but combined with the lack of punctuation to indicate exactly what is being spoken, it's confusing.

You also break the fourth wall a couple times, but not frequently enough that I'm sure it was deliberate.


The narrator doesn't seem at all concerned about the walls breathing. It's noted in a very detached and "enhhhh and then this happened" way.

you posted:

I lie here for five minutes.

Don't you have a phone? gently caress, bro, call 911 or 119 or 999 or 911 or something, even if you can't talk.
I don't understand this, to be honest. It doesn't seem like a rational response to someone who knows their friend is in need of immediate help. I understand the narrator is recovering, but I feel like he or she would have a stronger sense of urgency.

Incidentally, couldn't the narrator have floated Eric's fat rear end and not had to drop him?

Why, seeing that his coworker is on the ground gasping, flailing, and indicating a basement, does Jeff not figure out that there's a problem with the air? If Julie knows, wouldn't Jeff? I am also operating under the assumption that they're maintenance workers. At the very least, Julie probably wouldn't be the only person at the office who is aware of a potential health and safety issue. e: and also JEFF CALL THE drat POLICE


I don't really have any huge and grumpy issues with your story. I feel like maybe you wanted to take a risk, but you couldn't decide whether to go more realistic or more fantastic, and hamstrung yourself a little. It needed more editing and a bit of tightening, but it's far from awful! To me, it feels like one big opening scene to a longer story. I think there were some interesting things here; I'm wondering if there is any significance with the years? IS JULIE EVEN REAL? :psyduck: Anyways, you turned in a story that made me want to know more.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Thanks for doing those crits, Jitzu~

...Critzu?

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Failed. My USB died and the story is lost.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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CCLXII: Build Your Own Prompt

I believe in choice, but I also like to boss people around. Oh, and I like sandwiches.



Like the mighty Subway Sandwich Artists that tie our fragile society together, I will magnanimously let you choose your own prompt. However, like Subway, there are a finite number of things to choose from. Also, like Subway, if you choose too many things, you will be left with some messy, soggy poo poo falling apart in your hands. Intrigued? Read on.

The base word count is 1000, and you must ask for at least one item from any category. For every subsequent item you ask for, you receive a further 100 words. So, for example, if you say just "animals," I'll give you an animal and you have 1000 words to work with. If you say, "Two foods, one animal, and one place," I'll give you a prompt like "cheese, lettuce, dolphin, Ireland," and then you have 1300 words. You may choose items and generate up to 2000 words; how you do that is up to you. I will not award extra words for a toxx, but I will give you extra time if you toxx yourself and haven't submitted on time.

To be as fair as possible, I'll randomly generate every word using this tool: https://www.thegamegal.com/word-generator/. The exception is the Fleta's Choice category, for which you will receive 200 extra words per item. These may be anything from colors to pictures. You may not like what you get.

To be fair, I'll post my favorite items for each category and will not deliberately assign them: foxes, kimchi jigae, Beetlejuice, Tina Fay and/or Leslie Knope (YES I KNOW THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE OKAY), Barcelona


You may choose from the following categories:

Animals
Food
Movies
People and Characters
Places
Fleta's Choice

Signups close on Saturday, August 12th at 12 AM Paris time (GMT+2)
Submissions close on Monday, August 14th at 6 PM Paris time

Total word count: Between 1000-2000. Up to you, but please choose at least one item for your prompt.

Judges/Sandwich Artists:

Fleta McAwesome
Hawklad
TBD
(Please PM me or email me at fletamcgurn dot gmail dot com if you want to judge!)

Customers/Parasites:
Fuubi:toxx:, 2000 words, 5X Fleta's Choice: corsetry, potatoes, pink, kittens, and this photo: http://i.imgur.com/w9NSl6v.jpg
sebmojo: 1600, 3X Fleta's Choice: December, a failed daycare, ham Flash rules:: Your main character fetishizes (adult) Thalidomide babies; The story takes place in a Hot Topic; A grapefruit must be thrown at least three times.
Thranguy: 1800, movie, place, 3x Fleetz Beetz: Cool Runnings, South America, chandeliers, clams, Rebel Wilson
magnificent7: 1200, movie and food: cherry, Finding Nemo.
Pippin: 1500, places X2, animal, one salty Fleta Surprise: New Mexico, Boston, badger, geophagy
Jay W. Friks: 1300, movie, Fleta's Random Brain Barf: Indiana Jones, and this photo: http://i.imgur.com/KWpq7T5.jpg
Solitair:: 1500, movie, person/character, place, and Fleta's Moist Choice: Toy Story 3, Denzel Washington, Ghana, sunfish
blue squares: 1200, place and person: Los Angeles, Amelia Earhart.
Agent355: 1400, invalid category, place, President's Choice: OrlandO, "chomping at the bit," someone who is confused about the meaning of SEO
Tyrannosaurus: 1700, place and 3X my sexy gift: Singapore, Patti Smyth, Calpis, a cardboard cutout of Chewbacca
Mercedes:: 2000, asked to be hosed up: Moorish architecture, the Pixies, a man with three elbows, sharks, Regis Philbin. Flash rules: Someone in your story is deathly afraid of apples and it is severely impacting their quality of life, but you can't say it explicitly; I want at least two references to the movie Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein; The last line of your story must include a pun.
Development: 1000, food: lentils
Farchanter: 1300, animal and Fleta's Choice: bass, http://i.imgur.com/yqXQKh9.jpg :nws:

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 10:03 on Aug 14, 2017

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Fuubi posted:

OK,

:toxx: and in with:

5xFleeta's choice (be gentle)

You are a brave woman/man/sexy robot/astral squirrel. Here you go:

Corsetry
Potatoes
Pink (the color)
Kittens

this picture:

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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e: quote is not edit

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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sebmojo posted:

3x fleta's choice

December
A failed daycare
Ham

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Thranguy posted:

In. I'll take a movie, a place, and 3x fleta's choice.

Thrangled these up for you:

Cool Runnings
South America

and my picks:

chandeliers
clams
Rebel Wilson

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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magnificent7 posted:

In with movie and food.
(come on come on GOODBURGER.)

Maggles, please enjoy a complimentary cherry with your matinee of Finding Nemo

Hawklad posted:

I'll take a movie and two Fleta specials.

Hark! I hope you like Milo and Otis, because I sure don't. Our specials tonight are the Apollo Program and pinkwashing.

Pippin posted:

In, I'll take two places, an animal and a Fleta's Mystery Meat.

drat right, you'll swallow my meat. First in New Mexico, and then again in Boston in front of a badger. Then we can have a little discussion about geophagy.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Jay W. Friks posted:

In with movies and 1 Fleta's choice.

You get Indiana loving Jones. No installment of the series was indicated.

Also, you get this picture:

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Solitair posted:

IN with a movie, a person/character, a place, and a Fleta's Choice.

Oh hi, Solitair. How's your sex life? It's about to get better, because you'll have a sexy story about Toy Story 3, Denzel Washington, and Ghana. And don't forget a special cameo by sunfish. The fish, not the boat.

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 09:50 on Aug 8, 2017

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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blue squares posted:

Thanks for the crit and whichever judge(s) rescued me from a DM.


I'm in this week. I'll take a place and a people

You get Los Angeles and Amelia Earhart.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Hawklad posted:

Thanks everyone! I'll be over here parked comfortably on my laurels while Fleta does all the work.

*sensuously eyes Hawklad's laurels*

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Agent355 posted:

In.

Genre, Place, Fleta's choice.

Genre's not one of the categories, so I will generate a word for you at random using the entire word bank: chomping at the bit. Your place is Orlando and for you, I choose someone who is confused about the meaning of "SEO."

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Tyrannosaurus posted:

In. 1 place. 3 Fleta's choice.

Let me transport you to beautiful, breezy Singapore. Take my word for it- while you're there you really need to check out Patti Smyth (please note the spelling; it is accurate) and Calpis. I'd also recommend a visit to a cardboard cutout of Chewbacca.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Mercedes posted:

Alright you son of a bitch. I don't want to understand your crazy prompt. I'm in and just gently caress me up with flash rules and fleta choices. gently caress. Me. Up.

Well, okay!


Moorish architecture
The Pixies
A man with an extra elbow
Sharks
Regis Philbin


FLASH RULES:
Someone in your story is deathly afraid of apples and it is severely impacting their quality of life, but you can't say it explicitly.
I want at least two references to the movie Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
The last line of your story must include a pun.


sebmojo posted:

out of brolidarity with merc i will take all his flash rules too

NAH. Boring. You can have these ones:

Your main character fetishizes Thalidomide babies (ADULT Thalidomide babies, okay, let's be clear, not actual babies.)
The story takes place in a Hot Topic.
A grapefruit must be thrown at least three times.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Development posted:

I'm in. with food.

You get lentils. Sorry about that.

Farchanter posted:

In! I would like an animal and a Fleta's choice.

A mighty bass gallops by. I wrote that sentence before I hit the generator. Oh, well.

I bestow this gift (slightly NSFW):

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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:siren:Signups close in six hours! :siren:

Still looking for other judges. fletamcgurn at gmail dot com or PM me.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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flerp posted:

hey babydome, how’s it been? having a nice time with your friends, writing bad words, being dumb, etc etc? well, its time to change all of that because it is time for blood. it is time to announce:

THE SECOND KIND OF ANNUAL MEGABRAWL

muffin ran a megabrawl a while back and now im here to run another. do you think youre tough poo poo, a cool rear end motherfucker who is the best writer on these dead gay forums? or do you want to stomp some nerds in the ground and steal their hopes and dreams lunch money? then well youve come to the right place.

multiple rounds of brawl against the toughest of the tough in this (not really) venerated hall of fiction. if you lose, youre out. the last one standing is the champion.

this isnt going to be your standard brawl prompts tho, oh no. this isnt going to be "write about your favorite pet" or "tell me about that dream you had" or other baby poo poo. these prompts will be here to test you. they'll be hard. they'll take you out of your comfort zone. hell, they might not even be fiction prompts. you dont know. nobody does except me. but if you think youre hot poo poo then that shouldnt matter to you. the only thing that matters is OWNING DUMB NERDS.

no restrictions. you think youre good enough even if you dont have an HM or a win? then come along and gently caress some kids up. there will be no hand holding, no consolation prizes (or prizes in general). all there is to earn is eternal glory, and all there is to lose is honor (and your life but doesnt matter compared to the honor).

talk poo poo, quote this post, and join the MEGABRAWL.

only 16 may enter in this glorious combat. first come first serve. i can work with smaller numbers, but 16 is the maximum and ideal number for the carnage

You all suck rear end and I will eat your hearts.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Jay W. Friks posted:

Just to clarify. Is this prompt due on Sunday at 3 pm Pacific (U.S) time?

Sorry I'm late getting back to you, but yes. If a lot of people are late, I'll extend it.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Sitting Here posted:

considering IRC has been alive with "wait, the deadline is what time??" I have a feeling you will be extending it

I'll just extend it now, if it's worrying people; I figured since the prompt went out on Monday, it would be enough time. :shrug:

:siren:The deadline has been extended to 6 PM Monday, Paris time:siren: Google what time that is where you are.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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flerp posted:

Sixteen fools who do not value their lives have entered this sacred arena. Their names are:
Thranguy!
sebmojo!
SurreptitiousMuffin!
Chili!
Tyrannosaurus!
Jitzu_the_Monk!
Djeser!
Sitting Here!
Beef Supreme!
Aesclepia!
Toadsmash!
Solitair!
Uranium Phoenix!
blue squares!
Bad Seafood!
and crabrock!

Some are well known. Others, not so much. It does not matter. They shall face each other in glorious battle. One on one, the purest form of conflict. It is time for the

FIRST ROUND OF THE SECOND KIND OF ANNUAL MEGABRAWL!

Let’s keep this simple, for now.

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

(just as an fyi with the prompts: i will offer no further clarification or information about them. they are as they stand. it is up to you to interpret and apply them. i wont tell you what i'm looking for, except, obviously, for good stories. likewise, if i dont explicitly forbid something, then it is open to you as an option. this applies to all future megabrawl prompts)

Should be no problem for all of you, surely. It won’t stay this easy, I promise you that. I don’t want to waste my best on the weakest.

However, what you really care about is who you are facing, correct? You will not know. It does not matter who your foe is. Your greatest enemy is not the ones you face on the the battlefield, but yourself. If you are valiant enough, you can overcome even the strongest of rivals.

Good luck.

Word count: 1000
Due Date: Saturday, August 26th, 2017, 11:59PM PST (talk to me if you need an extension. I’m very willing to give you the extra time if you need it)

(Yes I have already decided the matchups. You just don’t get to see them.)

Uhhhh, hey, is there a reason I'm not on that list? Because I did sign up, or so I thought.

e: You don't need to change your evil plan. I was just looking forward to it. :smith:

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 09:58 on Aug 13, 2017

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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:siren: Submissions close in six hours :siren:

Also, I neglected to mention it before, but Hawklad will be the other judge. Anyone else who wants to judge, there's a spot left.

Stories so far are making me very happy. I think this is gonna be an awesome week. YAY THUNDERDOME!

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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:siren: Submissions are now closed :siren: I hope you dudes had a nice day!

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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You're like three minutes late, farchanter, I will pretend you are not.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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I don't get it, what does that m--

OH

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Just kidding.

:siren::siren:JUDGING AND CRITS FOR WEEK 262!!!!!!!!:siren::siren:

First of all, thanks to anyone who signed up or submitted this week. There were a lot of really batshit prompts because I am mostly a crazy person. I am very impressed. Our failures were magnificent7, Agent355, and Mercedes. I hope you all failed because you were having too much fun elsewhere, and not because of anything bad.

Second, let me introduce you to a wonderful little mechanic available in most word processors. It seems this is a little-known feature.

Third:

This was not a particularly strong week writing-wise, but it was a punch in the pussy in terms of how imaginative and creative you guys are. So without further blathering!

The winner is TYRANNOSAURUS for a completely engaging, exciting, and well-constructed time travel story. This was pretty unanimous, judgeywise. We both loved your snappy prose and sense of timing. I'd also like to give great, sticky love to our Hono(u)rable Mentions, Pippin (for one of the best-written stories with some of the most realistic dialogue) and farchanter (this was contentious, but eventually the strength of your imagery carried it through.) Great job, all.

Unfortunately, we've awarded two Dishonourable Mentions: fuubi for chucking in a half-baked mess and disappointing us terribly, and Thranguy for not making any sense. Both of these stories ultimately promised a lot and then failed to deliver. Please do pay attention to the link in point 2.

Finally, we award this week's loss to development for handing in a story that was as short on proper writing mechanics as it was on sense-makery.

"Losers," take heart- all three of your stories had a lot of potential and I hope you all come kick my rear end in the future.

To see various crits 'n comments, you can check out the Google doc here.

Thanks to everyone for their efforts. Tyrannosaurus, the throne is warm for you PORRRRRRRRRRRRRRMPFT

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Just to clarify, we do have to write poetry, or we don't?

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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Oh, thank god. In.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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I am the Dovahkiin; I am a dragon writing this, can I get extra words for being part dragon?

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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If we are shitposting about dragons, aren't we fewmetposting?

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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big scary monsters posted:

IN a world without sexual dimorphism.

:toxx: IN a world where eating meat is punishable by death.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

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flerp megabrawl, round 1


Dear Anne
990 words



“Anne?”


She looked at him quizzically. “Are you talking to me?”


“You—” Fumbling with his handkerchief, Stephen mopped his brow. “I beg your pardon, miss.”


“My name’s not Anne, it’s Jenny,” she said, giving him an odd look.


“I’m sorry to have distressed you,” Stephen said ruefully. “It's only…well, you look very like my dear wife, Anne. She passed last March.”


“Oh,” she said, “Well. I’m sorry to hear that.”


Stephen looked at Jenny again. The resemblance was not exact- she had darker hair, a more determined set to her mouth, but the fine, pale edge of her beauty was so like Anne's. He realized he was staring, and lowered his eyes. “Yes, the winter in the Dakotas…well, she had delicate health. I’ve been ill, myself, and just made it to California yesterday. Haven’t even had the chance to wire her family.” He sighed. “I admit, I miss her terribly.”


“Oh,” Jenny said again. She looked behind her, into Mrs. Wilson’s House, and said, “Well. You could buy me a drink at the saloon, then, and tell me more about your wife.”


Jenny said she lived on a little farm outside town, but often came in to call on a cousin who lived next to the saloon. She also proved an able listener, sweet and sympathetic as he talked about Anne, and at the end of the day he found himself quite intrigued by her. It was, in fact, with a slightly guilty conscience that he looked at Anne’s miniature that night.


Over the next few weeks, Stephen saw Jenny several times. Clearly, she had no breeding or education, but she nevertheless soothed his rumpled soul. She asked about the new mine- clever questions, he thought, especially for a girl with no schooling- and seemed quite impressed with his business acumen. Jenny had a way of looking up at him through her starry lashes whenever he talked of minutiae such as profits and labor that he felt himself to be quite the magnate indeed.


“It’s a small mine, and it will not go forever, but my man thinks it should be fruitful for a good few decades,” he told her one night over brandy. “Certainly, more profitable than my other holdings! And I’ve decided to invest in railroads, as well.”


“What a good idea,” Jenny said. “I love to watch the trains coming and going. I always wish I could go with them.”


“Never been on a train?” She shook her head. “You can’t even imagine how fast it feels!” A thought struck him, and he put his hand over hers. “I should very much like to take you on a train journey.”


She reddened.


“As a wedding present.”


Jenny gave a little cry and jumped up. Stephen laughed, “Darling, I know it’s hasn’t been long, but from the moment we met, I knew we were destined for one another.”


“I know you do!” Jenny cried. “I’ve known it from the moment I laid eyes on you!”


“Please, beautiful Jenny, say you’ll come with me.” Stephen reached out to her and took her by both hands. “I’m a man of means, so let's do business-I’ll buy your little farm and you can use that money to have a wedding dress made!”


“No!” she gasped. “Oh, Stephen, I couldn’t wait for a whole dress! Let’s do it tomorrow. Please, darling, please.”


They married the very next evening. Stephen wore his better suit, Jenny a rather daring blue gown. She put up her hair just as he had asked- as he had asked Anne to coiffure herself before their nuptials. The bride glowed, the priest was almost sober, and Stephen himself was grinning like a fool. He ordered punch and cake from Mrs. Wilson’s, Jenny decked the priest's room with fragrant pine branches, and altogether the small event- Jenny had begged him for a private ceremony- was lovely.


Night fell, and they rode to Jenny's little farmhouse. They had tickets for San Francisco, leaving the next day, but Jenny insisted that the wedding night happen at her humble home, which she had already put up for sale.


Although Stephen tried to stop himself, he couldn’t help calling out Anne! Anne! during the act. In the moonlight, on the pillow, she could have been his dead wife’s twin. Her lips tasted just the same. In any case, she didn’t seem to mind his mistakes, melting into his arms like a little dewdrop in the aftermath.


Stephen had just closed his eyes, when she said, “Dearest, I have one more wedding gift for you.”


The heavy lamp base shattered his skull before he could even smile.


Early the next morning, Jenny collected her documents- deeds, ownership titles, and the rest of Stephen’s papers- and locked up the McCarthy’s farmhouse. No one had come to claim it after the fever took them, and no one would likely answer her ad for such a small, poor farm. She stopped by Mrs. Wilson’s one final time, traded the wedding dress for Ruby’s kidskin gloves and Stephen’s pocketwatch for Lucy’s black dress, and headed out, ticket in her hand.


A few days later, Jenny smiled as the train pulled into Union Station. Arranging her dusty clothes carefully, she swept off the train and waited for the porter to retrieve Stephen’s case.


“Mrs. Lewisham?”


She turned to find a bookish young man, smiling at her. “Mrs. Stephen Lewisham, I presume? I’m Freddie, one of your husband’s clerks. Where is he?”


“Oh,” she said, a tremor in her voice, “Yes, I’m Anne Lewisham, but…you didn’t get my telegram? Stephen’s…I mean to say, the winter in the Dakotas…he had such delicate health.” Freddie, looking shocked, reached out to steady her. She dabbed at her eyes and continued, “I haven’t even had the chance to wire his family! This terrible journey…dreadful, dusty country…please, let’s go straight to the office and get these titles sorted so I can finally mourn him properly.”

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