Week 233: IT HAS BEEN TOO LONG
|# ¿ Jan 18, 2017 23:49|
|# ¿ Aug 4, 2021 09:38|
Week 233 Submission
Cot-caught merger detected
|# ¿ Jan 22, 2017 19:58|
It's easy to get to that shadowy place.
No compass is needed, no map will lead there.
There's nothing to see at the end of the race.
The freaks of the world have carved out a space
To huddle in pockets and wail in despair.
It's easy to get to that shadowy place.
A ravenous leprosy seeks to erase
Six centuries work, borne along in the air.
There's nothing to see at the end of the race.
I tire of waiting. Look me in the face.
Though long as I lived here I never would dare,
It's easy to get to that shadowy place.
But do this and you are a fool, a disgrace.
There's nothing to gain from this selfish affair.
There's nothing to see at the end of the race.
Remain here with me, tend the fire, replace
Dead embers. I need you, my glory, my heir.
It's easy to get to that shadowy place.
There's nothing to see at the end of the race.
|# ¿ Jan 23, 2017 04:05|
in, I am
|# ¿ Jan 24, 2017 15:55|
God i hate u all.
|# ¿ Jan 29, 2017 06:07|
Fuschia tude fucked around with this message at 06:11 on Sep 29, 2017
|# ¿ Jan 30, 2017 05:22|
Here are my crits.
Fuschia tude fucked around with this message at 23:02 on Jan 31, 2017
|# ¿ Jan 31, 2017 20:47|
Isperia, Supreme Judge: Thranguy
I'll be ur Amorcraft Judge, guy
Ready to read Infinite (bad) Words
|# ¿ Feb 7, 2017 17:40|
hi here are ur Week 234 Crits
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2017 22:53|
These were read in judgemode. I hope everyone remembers their title.
Interesting thing, in a week that could have been a slog, there was actually not much egregious. Even the long ones were not bad.
Weirdly enough, especially for a no-word-limit week, the most commonly recurring problem seemed to be too little exposition when it was actually warranted. Some of you took "show, don't tell" a little too seriously. Dropping the reader straight into a strange or nonobvious scenario can work, but probably not if you never give more than the vaguest hint about what's going on!
Two peas in a pod
This is just kind of odd. Too much pointless dialog, weird goofy narration that doesn't explain the situation at all, and an ending sentence that manages to pop a joke setup like a collapsing soufflé.
Uh, hmm. Story of a girl on a trip with with her friend she has a crush on*, wrestling with his getting married in a few months, then giving up on any hope of the two of them.
I don't know. There's nothing wrong with this story grammatically, but it's all a kind of gray blandness. And there's really not much of a character arc to her, and certainly none to his.
*(Or does she? It's all so oblique it's hard to tell, but if not, there's even less to this story.)
Another judge just said it was a relationship with Susan instead, and in that case yeah, I can see things a bit more clearly. I still feel like this is too stingy with necessary clarifying details, though.
You Can’t Learn That On YouTube
Hunting newbie loses to a fight with a pig. OK. It seems like from the concept you might be going for a comedy, but nothing funny happens, and it's not described in an entertaining way. It all just happens, all the prose is perfunctory, and the outcome is blatantly obvious.
I actually just read a similar story by Jack London, To Build a Fire. Might be worth checking out to see what he does with it.
Back to the Earth
Not bad. Not sure exactly about the whole scenario, could use some more explanation of exactly what is going on. Tiny communal farm trying to be self-sufficient but unable to get off the ground and bleeding members, something something criminal trial. Manages to convince the guy after a short time being kidnapped...?
Or Something Like It
All right, that was a nice story about fleshy umbilical puppet-people. A few minor usage errors here and there, but nothing egregious. Explained just enough about the scenario and didn't linger on unimportant details.
Sand Caught in the Laughs
Nice little sketch, evocative. The ending is vague and it's hard to tell exactly what happened there, but I'm sure that was intentional.
I figured from the word count this was going to be overly wordy, and it is. You can write a longer story in a no-limit prompt like this, obviously, but you didn't just do that. You used too many words to describe everything. I assume you're a new or recent entrant, because writing in limited-word weeks will help you improve economy of prose.
That whole second phrase there is pointless, for instance, because his intent is obvious from his words. "Think of it like a screenplay/movie" as writing advice doesn't always work, there's certain things that only work in prose, but this isn't one of those cases. It can be a useful heuristic. It would help you avoid said bookisms and all these -ly adverbs. Adverbs aren't all bad, not even the -ly ones, necessarily! But these things draw attention to themselves, whereas dialog tags almost always want to disappear. Dialog should (ahem) speak for itself.
“Ah, he’s all right enough, Mick,” Kieran said,
And lines like "The creeping paranoia within the Catholic communities in the aftermath of the civil rights protests grew more pervasive by the day" feel too obviously like "look at me, I did research!" And that ties back into the verbosity problem. Cutting words is a skill, and one I think you need to practice. Cut until it hurts, and then a little bit more. You might be able to cut your word count in half in a lot of places and still convey what you need, whether that's a plot beat or a world fact.
The story structure itself is not bad. It made more sense once I realized that Mick and Kieran switched their positions over the course of the story. I'm bad with names, so I'm not sure that's your fault. What really held you back here was the execution.
This is confusingly rendered and it took a second reading for me to figure out what is going on. Early on, is he at the apartment or at the hospital? I assume the latter is a flashback, but your writing makes it seem like it happens after the apartment. And you realize you switch to present tense at the end?
More importantly, I have no idea what the ending means or why he's doing it. Yes, it's a callback to the opening, but so what? What is it and why does it matter?
the woman OR the fools who came to drink the dark
Why is this an image
Formatting? The [pre] code lets you preserve formatting.
I really don't know how to compare this to the rest. It's all so vague and metaphorical I can hardly read it as a story.
The Sharing Economy
Cool idea, Uber John Malkovich. Ended better than I was expecting from the twist, but I'm not sure about the whole story. Nothing about it really popped; maybe it's the narration, it being so matter-of-fact. You do enough to characterize Ren that I think it would be much stronger written in her voice.
And a small quibble: the whole thing is told from Ren's POV, even if it's not in her voice, except in saying that Marlene showed Tom the O on her hand. Ren can't know that. It seemed jarring.
Now here's an example of a long story where the extra words and details aren't extraneous.
Despite being as long as Concrete Divide, it was a much faster read. All the parts work together humming. Even if the ending is obvious from the first feather found, it was still a fun read.
God of War
"seems to have dulled my resistance"? From a first-person narrator? You should know, you don't have to guess.
In the Questions paragraph, you describe past events in the present tense. You're already writing in the present tense, you can use past for past, you don't even need to use past perfect like past tense stories do.
OK, that's a cute story. Starts out seeming like it might be a kind of quiet testament, slowly turns into pulp anti-nazi action.
That was nice, kind of elegant. Bit of a slow start, but I don't really have any nits to pick.
Hard To Blame Eve
Nice little story. I'm not sure about the ending; it seems a bit farfetched that everyone would take trades constantly. Also, how often do these offers get made?
The Moon in Capricorn
Ten bucks a day plus expenses is not much, especially for the 40s.
Decent noir story, but not enough betrayals or conspiracies imo. For a noir, it's way too straightforward. And for all the magitech in society, it doesn't play out any differently than a standard gangsters and guns noir story.
Um. Smug woman defends self, wins court case. This is just bland, and if it's trying to make her look sympathetic, it doesn't. If it's trying to be a farce, well, it's not funny or insightful.
Hmm. The story was very obvious and the protagonist is basically a cipher, with only a sketch of backstory to give him any meat at all. He doesn't do anything interesting with an army of swarming chainsaw drones, just attacks the headquarters? Even his revenge is boring.
Funerals are for the Living
This... isn't a story. Nobody here wants something and acts to achieve it. An adult takes in a child, I assume a relative, except oh no he doesn't he gets distracted on the way and stops in at work, which is a graveyard, the end. They don't even get home, the only thing that was supposed to happen, and not because they get waylaid or interrupted either. Everything is hanging unresolved at the end just as it was at the start, and nothing is explained.
This feels like chapter 2 of a novel. I have no idea what happened or what will happen and I have no reason to care about these characters. I couldn't tell you a single thing about either one, besides the unexplained new guardianship.
Last orders please
You do not use commas right, often.
Eh. Not bad, but it didn't grab me. The humor didn't really hit me, and the plot is thin enough that the story doesn't really hang together as a worthwhile thing if it's not amusing.
Not Gone West
I'm not sure why he's talking to the scarecrow. I guess it's kind of a displacement object, personifying his loss and despair. What exactly is going on at the end, why does she look at him hopefully when he laughs?
This is trying to be a meditation on death and futility, I assume. But it doesn't land for me, and without that there's essentially nothing at all happening in the action of the story to make up for it.
Fuschia tude fucked around with this message at 06:05 on Feb 14, 2017
|# ¿ Feb 14, 2017 05:59|
in and flash me a give, please
|# ¿ Mar 1, 2017 07:22|
Piss and Vinegar
Zach was eighteen with two weeks’ pay burning a hole in his pocket. He left the diner full of cheap beer and funny ideas. He’d struck out tonight, but so what? There was always another day. He stepped out into the warm summer air feeling elated, high, giddy with anticipation. He wasn’t sure where he was headed and right now he didn’t care.
That might explain why he didn’t see the two following him until they were almost on him.
One of them yelled something that caught his ear. He turned around and met a baseball bat with his stomach.
Zach doubled over, fell back into an alleyway, somehow managed to stay on his feet. Everything went black and fireworks burst in his eye sockets. He couldn’t breathe.
“You think you can talk to her?” a voice asked, almost familiar. “Do whatever you want?” Zach didn’t have time to think.
He backed up blindly until his back hit something cold and solid with a metallic thud—the side of a dumpster. His vision was coming back, now. He caught a glimpse of his attackers as they advanced. The one holding the bat was thin, scrawny, maybe younger than Zach. The other was big and muscled—was he on the football team? his mind was racing—wearing a set of knuckle dusters that were rapidly approaching his face.
Zach rolled along the side of the dumpster just in time. Metal struck metal with an echoing clang.
He tried to cry for help, but he found only a thick tight knot of pain in his lungs where air should have been.
The heavy one stepped back, cursing and shaking his hand. The other swung his bat at Zach, and he dodged back behind the corner of the bin. He cough-gagged from the effort. That was progress, of a sort, at least.
The bat was coming at him again. Zach grunted, put his head and shoulder down, and barreled into his attacker. They both smacked into the dumpster with a thud. The kid was hit awkwardly, taken by surprise more than anything. But they scrapped together, pulling and scratching, and the bat was useless at this range.
Here, face to face, Zach got a good look at his attacker’s pockmarked face. Jay Palmoni. Zach never saw him out of the orbit of Dodger Peele, the linebacker—which explained who his second attacker was. Now he remembered these. An ugly pair. He had tried to avoid them at school, but he must have missed them at the diner tonight.
Jay grunted in frustration and tried to knee him. Zach blocked with his own leg, mostly, and managed to wrestle the bat from his hand. It clattered out on the pavement.
Zach tried to work one arm loose while still keeping all his weight to bear, pinning Jay to the bin. He managed to get his arm free and got in one good hit into the side of his head. As he pulled back to swing again, a hand clutched his wrist from the side, and another arm grabbed his chest.
“Get off him,” Dodger hissed in his ear, his breath stinking of sour beer and garlic. Zach’s right arm was pulled back—back—too far—and something in his shoulder popped.
Now, finally, he found his voice, the way lit by raw red pain, an inchoate howl.
At this, the door burst open from the side of one of the buildings. “All right, punks,” someone said from the doorway. “Go get yourselves lost.” Zach recognized the voice of Mr. Fanwood, owner of the druggist here on Main Street. Then came the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being pumped.
“Right, old man,” the scrawny one said. The hands holding Zach let him go and he collapsed against the dumpster. Footsteps retreated down the alley, then a voice called out: “Remember what we said, boy. We’re keeping our eyes on you.” They beat a hasty retreat.
Zach sunk against the side of the dumpster. His breath came in shuddering, ragged bursts. “Thanks, mister,” he managed, and looked up.
But the eyes he saw were not friendly. “Get up,” Fanwood said. He stepped out of the doorway into the yellow half-light of the alley. “Get on out of here. Don’t want no friend of the family bleeding here outside my store.” He cradled the gun in his arms.
Zach slowly blinked, looked out into the deserted street, then met Fanwood’s gaze again. It didn’t change. “Sir,” he said with a wobbling voice, and with slow precision, he gingerly climbed to his feet. “Right away, sir.” He wiped the blood from his mouth, looked up at the shopkeeper, and slowly, deliberately wiped it on his jeans. They had been new, once. Before tonight.
“Go on, now. Get.” Zach stumbled to the mouth of the alleyway, followed by Fanwood’s voice. “Don’t make me call the cops,” he said with a sneer in his voice.
Fanwood went back inside and watched from the storefront until the boy had disappeared down the road. “Kids,” he grumbled. He set the shotgun back in place behind the counter and sat down on his stool.
“Everything all right out there, sir?” his assistant asked, and pursed her lips. Fanwood always thought her thick glasses made her look like a squirrel.
“No,” he said, opening the newspaper. “No, it is not. But we’re gonna keep on living anyway.”
“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” -- Sun Tzu
|# ¿ Mar 6, 2017 08:05|
Requesting judge assists, too.
I'm your chuckleberry.
|# ¿ Mar 9, 2017 02:12|
Thanks for the crit, Mrenda!
Week 240 crits
A storm in a two-storey house
"No ... stories where people sit around playing video games," so that's nearly what you do.
I don't really see the point of this story. No sentence-level errors I noticed, at least; everything is told well enough. It's just that everything that happens feels really trivial and uninteresting.
That first time jump seems jarring. It was pretty disorienting going from waiting to launch to already in space.
I'm just not caring about these people.
Eliding the purpose of the mission, and exactly what they grabbed... I guess you were trying to make the story feel more general but I think it was counterproductive. By not grounding the action and setting the stakes from the outset, you made it difficult to feel anything for the characters or care about what was going on.
Do You Trust Me?
It's "put a damper on her mood".
Some of your paragraph breaks interrupt who's talking. Having the same person talk in two different speech paragraphs during a dialog, without an intervening paragraph of description, gets confusing.
I don't know. These characters are too bland and I didn't get much of a sense of malice or danger from the woman. Just boredom. The story was kind of a slog to read through because there was nothing really engaging about the characters and the unfolding mystery wasn't very mysterious or compelling.
Reboot the War
Good atmosphere so far.
He has a HUD still? Isn't that going to be visible to other people? Also seems like a liability in civilian life.
All right, not bad. I'm not sure about the ending. Yeah, it's open-ended, but I feel like this is a case where elaborating more would be warranted.
Not sure about that opening paragraph. I might cut it down to the last line; it's just a lot of words before you get into the actual action. And it confuses what is a pretty pure 1st person limited narrator (after the opening) with some out-of-character knowledge here.
The characters are more or less cyphers but the story keeps pulling you along. I'm not sure what's happening at the end, though, exactly what deal is being made. And I wish I knew more about the narrator.
No Shirt? No Shoes? A Gun Will Do.
I don't know about this one. I think I need to come back to it.
This one was hard for me to get my bearings at first. I wish the two robbers had more strongly defined characters. I didn't feel like there was enough explanation why the shooter did that at the end. This just felt too sparse overall.
Nice progression so far, keeping things interesting pulling the reader along. Good descriptions, too, between dialog.
I'm not quite sure what's going on at the end or why the protagonist seems to have local family despite being from America -- is he Arab? But that's not possible, right? Because then he wouldn't have stuck out to the protesters.
I wish the decision point had a more urgent cause, and the choice made was more interesting. There doesn't seem to be any real problem, which I guess is matched by his no real resolution. This story was really let down by the ending.
Together in the Same Boat
Seem like interesting characters, but I'm not quite sure what the protagonist's issue is.
I think that should be "I had told her I got fired".
This story is a cute little slice-of-life thing, but I wish it had more of a problem-resolution arc. It just kind of fizzles out.
All right, nice enough. Not too ambitious, nothing earthshaking, but I suppose a story doesn't need to be. But such a simple, direct story needs to be really well-crafted in that case, and this is instead just a standard, straight yarn.
That's an odd note to end on, though. Feels like it needs either more, or less, text there in the very last scene.
Good structure and scenario. It all flows well. I'm not quite sure what's going on at the very end, though.
As Cool as Slate
"Blonde" is the female adjective. Some comma splices around the middle area. Not important, but distracting. I'm not sure why you use so many double line breaks, either. Also distracting.
OK, this started out as an interesting setup, but HURGGG I just want these drips to stop talking about doing things and do things. You went 500 words overbudget and I guarantee this would be a much better story if you cut most of the interminable dialog, explaining and overexplaining the setup, out of the middle.
I feel like the usage and structural problems got worse as it progressed. Guessing you ran up against the time limit.
...and there's no ending. I mean, seriously, this is the first half of a story. I liked this one less and less as it dragged on.
A decent story, competently told. I do kind of want a little more resolution after that, but at least the immediate problem is handled.
Fuschia tude fucked around with this message at 01:16 on Mar 14, 2017
|# ¿ Mar 14, 2017 01:13|
FIGHT NIGHT CRITS — PART 1
Good point. Thank you!
|# ¿ Mar 16, 2017 15:50|
Who wants to co-judge the REDEMPTION?
also thanks for the lines sebmojo!
|# ¿ Mar 20, 2017 00:23|
Week 241 crits:
Is a Mushroom a Thallic Symbol?
Not a good start.
This is a whole lot of dialog saying little.
All right. So: it's The Lion King/Hamlet/Dune with mushroom-people, and pigs as the antagonists.
Just a goofy take on this, and I don't think it did the story any favors. You're constantly winking at the camera and parody rarely works when it's tongue-in-cheek. So, I don't think it works as comedy, and the narrative is too thin to work on its own.
Who Suffers Their Penance
It's a good introductory few paragraphs.
These bits get confusing:
It spelled it all out, how she’d hit her brother, killed him, then her and godparents, her adoptive family buried him in a shallow grave.
There's got to be better ways to phrase those, even if they need to be split into multiple sentences each. They take several read throughs to parse. Even the first one really can't be unwrapped properly until you read on for more context.
Her uncle made her hit her brother if he wronged her, but never him her.
You used most of your 3000 word limit, and you did so well, I'd say. Good balance between dialog and description.
But it kind of falls off somewhat in the middle dialog with Mulryan, and the final confession is something of a disappointment as well. I felt like it was too formula-predictable in the ending scene. And who or what gets redeemed? I don't think it really happens.
Something in the Blood
Ok, cute story of bat-as-The-Raven so far.
Maybe a little heavy-handed ending, but nice. Nothing really to complain about here. Other judges noted some features were noted but then dropped, like the bat's white stripe and the evelope from the hospital, each mentioned early and then never again.
I don't think the story really meets the prompt, though. What he did hardly feels like a crime needing to be atoned for, it was more of a kind of not coming to peace with his wife's death and the hungry bat forcing him to accept that by passive-agressively staring at him while eating her pictures.
also giving him rabies
I am very confused by this ending. I was following this and into the story until the end section, but there's just not enough information given about who these people are, or who they're waiting for, or why. That makes the bit with David meaningless and the resolution of Jamie's brief appearance kind of inexplicable.
And why do cops show up?
Prompt-wise, I don't see anybody redeeming anything. Nicole's attempts fail spectacularly--buying a Chai is the closely she gets--but self-sabotages everything, if she was even trying to redeem herself at all. And if Jamie is supposed to be the redeemed, we don't see him do anything in the first place to warrant it. We'd need a significant passage from his POV to make that resonate at all; we barely get a glimpse of him in this story.
I like where this is going, I think.
"regretting it interestingly"? I think you mean "instantly", but I like it, interestingly. I kind of want that to appear properly in a story, now.
Aren't all spines segmented and hence bendy? I would think you'd need something long and rigid to pick most locks.
"she had just tried to poison everyone." Had she? I see missed what Va was explaining early on. OK, going back, I get it now. That does make the only other use of the word "poison" in the story stand out interestingly, though.
Several well-sketched characters and a good story progression overall.
The Hanged Men
Some glaring grammar errors, some said bookisms and awkward dialog tags.
But this is a good, well-crafted story despite the low-level errors. And I'd say it certainly meets the prompt. Maybe it points that out a bit too explicitly, but it's not too blatant, either.
I like the atypical choice of war to focus on. It was a bit meandering, but I feel like that fit the story, being about deserters trying to ride out the war without drawing attention to themselves, not quite sure what to do themselves.
Oh hey, the continuing story of Millie and Owen Hot-Hands.
"Millie jolted in surprise and fumbled to regain her voice. " That's a kind of awkward combination of physical actions. Needs to be separate sentences at least.
All right, not a bad personal connection story.
I think Millie could have been a little less on-the-nose in her diagnosis and changes prescribed. It feels like another case of pointing at the prompt a bit too blatantly. But maybe that's her personality and she's not necessarily correct in everything just because she says it.
I think this started off strong and got really bogged down as it went on. And the redemption really faltered for it. The whole fire hands issue, everything about it, was handled well. Other judges think Millie shouldn't have been there at all--burnt face man should have--and I can see that.
Fair story. Some nice mini-descriptions. I found some of the geography a bit confusing on my first time through.
It also feels a bit contrived, first of all, that someone would have had the same problem as the protagonist, and also the same other problem as the protagonist, and then that it would have been someone connected to someone he(?) knew, and that he(?) was just able to help him. Also, surprise, the child saved him, too. How long was he stuck down there, anyway?
Also, the main character seems to recover from an incredible fall way too quickly. Didn't he just sprain or break his kneecap? To climb back up a sheer cliff face with a knee he can't put weight on and also he has added dozens more pounds on his back...
I liked the first half a lot better than the second; I kind of wish the whole problem-redemption arc was replaced with something entirely different.
This is not a very compelling opening. All the too-long sentences don't help; some are comma splices, others just have way too many clauses, continuing on and on, like some kind of 19th century romantic work. I admit that's more of my personal bias.
Um. I'm not quite sure what the purpose of this story was supposed to be, but I don't think you achieved it. And the separation between the real world and the game world robs the story of some effectiveness; we never see any more of the former than Wilbur's surface thoughts.
I think you missed the prompt entirely. The ending just says that he wasting his whole time playing the game, and since that was 100% of this story, you wasted the reader's time, too.
Pale Stars and Bones
I'm guessing the mysterious traveller is the witch-queen she keeps referring to. Flash fiction apparently conforms to a law of economy of female characters: if one of the principal actors is female, and there is some female figure spoken of in the past or in rumor, she's her.
" no magic nor prayer could bring back the dead." But isn't that exactly her power? I think you mean it couldn't bring them back to life, which is a different thing.
Interesting setup, the opening few paragraphs.
The dialog tends to meander, repeating itself a little too much. You could trim down a lot of that in the middle without really affecting the action of the story.
Something about that ending doesn't quite click so much as clunk, to me. Feels like it ends a couple beats too soon, like it thinks it has everything all wrapped up, but it doesn't. This has more of a cohesive ending than many other stories this week, though.
But one thing that bothers me about this story is the prompt. Does Ethan change, at all, let alone to redeem himself? I don't think he does. Hunter seems to do pretty much everything in this story; actions, revelations, exhortations, and he's kind of preachy besides. Ethan is just dragged along for the ride the whole time, yet the story is limited to his view.
Sitting Back and Doing Nothing Works Sometimes
Uh. Ok, that looked like it might be going somewhere interesting at first, and then it just became more conventional and obvious. Like, I don't know, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf in reverse.
Who is redeeming herself? Sue? Because she struck out and came home to her husband, the winner by default?
And that last part is just pure cringe.
|# ¿ Mar 21, 2017 14:54|
I got f(j) = g*j
No, see, you have to integrate that from pages 1 to 33
|# ¿ Apr 5, 2017 02:52|
Thunderdome Week 245: You Need Satan More Than He Needs You
You still need judges?
|# ¿ Apr 24, 2017 01:41|
Demon week 246 judging
This style wears on me after a while.
Yeah, the idea of a demon being sent to wreak havoc on earth, foiled at every turn and constantly having to downsize its plans is a nice one. But it feels too long for what amounts to a one-note joke.
De Dcemone scriptor exercitu puppis et infernae revolution
I don't really understand what is going on in the first half of this. So many paragraphs are studded with extraneous description that feel like they belong somewhere else.
Editing problems, too: missing spaces, "more so than ever before", "giving fealty too".
And I end this without feeling like much of any of it mattered. I feel like it would have been more interesting if the action had been set in the real world where all the crazy apocalyptic stuff was about to happen, rather than reading it glossed over in the into.
The Devil Fell Down in Georgia
Good intro. Writing's not bad, but subject matter is gross and edging into explicit without much redeeming. I'm torn.
The Beatification of Saint Zaara
You stopped properly paragraph-breaking early on. Doesn't bode well.
I don't really see what the point of that was. The protag thinks she's not Zaara, gets confirmation of something... but we never learn any of it?
This is looking too wordy. Too much dialog, too-long descriptions.
And the ending is an anticlimax that leaves the protagonist in exactly the same place he started. Literally and figuratively.
I Do Not Fall
Submissions this week seem to be all, like, Demon Sitcoms. They're all populated by demonic talking heads planning some crazy scheme that goes cockeyed.
At least a whole lot of things happened here, but I'm not sure why, and I don't really care. Everything is just a jumble of events.
You ended with someone shouting "Deus ex machina." Ughhhhh
The Rebel's Part
This is a promising second scene. The first few paragraphs could stand to be condensed and clarified somewhat, they really drag.
Yeah this is pretty good. Weirdly gets better as it goes on; early bits needed more polish. The introduction of Cassie at the end felt a bit too out of nowhere, though.
This is fun. I don't really have much to complain about. Demons just sit around doing good things because they've fallen, so they're stuck on earth, nothing better to do?
The Original Loser
Eh. I can't really fault this, but it never grabbed me in any way, either. My other judges liked it more than I did.
I don't know, I just read the whole thing confused about how many demons there were and who's doing what, thanks to their multiple names, and a reread now only partly helped. I think you elide a few too many words from sentences, which can give you style points, but in this one I think you erred a little too far over the comprehensibility line.
All dogs go to hell
OK this is silly. Cute.
Death Do us Part
I don't really see the point of this story. It doesn't help that I can't quite tell what happened at the end. It feels like it was going somewhere and right before the end it gets all jumbled.
I can't help but think this would be better in third person, either with dialog or without. This second-person speech to an unseen audience doesn't really work here when we don't have an idea who is being addressed or why.
Angels in the Outfield
Angel is here to tempt demon with redemption for doing good. Does so. The end.
I don't know, this just feels underdeveloped at the plot level.
Carnival of Souls
The descriptions are a bit much. Too many adverbs and adjectives that clutter more than they clarify.
That ending seems to come out of nowhere. Maybe if you had more explanation of what exactly was going on metaphysically, either there or scattered throughout, it would resonate more. As it is now it's kind of bewildering.
Still, this is a lot more memorable than most of the writing this week. If you submitted on time you might have placed just by virtue of not being a formless gray mass.
|# ¿ Apr 27, 2017 04:48|
I, and I alone dare to plumb the hidden mysteries of BOX 4
|# ¿ May 2, 2017 04:40|
The faceless drone screamed in silence.
Trace Petersen was up to her elbow in the brains of the thing. She moved slowly, methodically, until her hands stumbled over the switch at the back of the “skull” and she flipped it. The drone’s face reverted to a smooth, untextured gray ball.
“Now let’s see what’s wrong with you.”
She picked up a few tools and got to work. This was her task for the day, getting the drone functioning and back into action. Within a few minutes, she had the drone’s chest plate open. It all looked normal, but there was a twinge in her nose: just a hint of some scent, ozone and something else, something that shouldn’t have been there. She grabbed a bundle of cables and began to investigate deeper.
She soon found the source, a place where the wires had been cut, just jagged edges hanging down. And in the “skull” behind it, a few dark black scorch marks. Something had burnt the drone here.
“What happened to you, little guy?”
It didn’t respond, only lay silent on her workbench.
She took inventory of the area. Remarkable, all that was missing—in fact, in crumbled to carbon under her hands—was a memory unit. She grabbed a blank from the storage bin under the bench, fitted it into place, and began the intricate work of reattaching it line by line into the drone’s neural network. But she couldn’t help wondering what had happened. Someone had deliberately tampered with this drone.
Once she was finished, Trace closed and sealed the chest cavity and reached up inside the drone’s neck again. “Here goes...” She flipped the switch.
A play of colors and patterns shot across the drone’s face before it finally settled on a flat, calming blue.
“Hello,” the android said after a moment’s pause. “I am rebuilding currently. Please wait.”
She wheeled the drone out into the hall and shut her door. Soon, it would reactivate and return to the duties waiting for it in the ship’s queue.
Trace pulled up a communicator and requested the records relating to that specific drone. The answer came back within seconds.
Insufficient Clearance Level
Councilor Fri had made his case. He sat back in his chair, satisfied.
“You’re telling me that we can divert this ship for energy collection purposes and it will not be found out?”
Fri studied the seven pairs of eyes locked on him from the room’s shadows. This question cabe from Chago: his gray eyes twinkled from across the table. He laughed and his bearded head appeared in the light above the table, awaiting Fri’s response.
“They won’t find out, because they can’t,” Fri said and he leaned forward, his hands pressed into the tabletop. “Who will tell them? Seyyes?”
He knew they recognized his point. Managing a population of this size necessitated strict controls on information. There were no windows on the craft; the only outside views were accessible through the Seyyes system—accessible only to those expressly authorized. The knowledge and expertise needed to use that information was controlled tighter still. No one outside this room had the whole picture.
The ship’s ranks worked as maintainers of the craft, keeping it repaired and stable and keeping this technical knowledge alive and updated. But the population would double as colonists, once they had reached their target, still several decades away. And in the mean time, they would serve as a repositories of vital genetic diversity for the future colony.
The initial population was chosen primarily from volunteers with technical skill, as well as a compliant, non-confrontational personality. They knew the need and imperative to remain peaceful and keep the ship moving. There would be no communication with home past the radio shell. The ship would need to be fully self-sufficient. They had all consented to the arrangement.
But their future children could not. To ensure continuity, the social controls program was enacted.
They were several months away from a red dwarf giving off a great deal of energy. They could move into close orbit, deploy the solar shield web, and collect it. The energy available from this star was very high quality, of a type difficult to find at this wavelength. It would be immediately useful in their power grid, with no transformation necessary. A very tempting target, considering their energy system; their antimatter drive would then be able to fire at full thrust. Charging for several months could give their power plant enough fuel to function for centuries to come, invaluable for a new colony.
But pursuing this energy collection would put them off-course and two years behind schedule, risking exhausting other shipboard supplies, nutrition most importantly. Nutrients could be recycled only so many times from garbage, waste, and the dead. Once food quality fell below a certain level, the algae tanks would not be enough to support the ship’s full population; rationing would need to be instituted, risking widespread malnutrition that could quickly spiral out of control. Culling of a significant fraction of the population might need to be considered in that case.
“You’re quiet, Rwain,” Fri said. He turned to the woman to his left.
“Did you ask Seyyes?” she said.
“Of course.” He tapped the table with a manicured finger. “This was its idea.”
“No,” she said. “The full report.”
Fri sighed in exasperation. He looked around the table. All the others nodded at him. At last, he reached for the communicator by his waste. “All right, Seyyes...”
The patch of mold growing on Warwick’s ceiling looked concerning. That hadn’t been there before, had it?
The air vent beside it issued a choking rattle.
Trace turned to nuzzle his chest. “You’ve been just about everywhere on this ship, haven’t you?”
The supervisors encouraged casual flings with steriles like Warwick. It kept them occupied and provided an outlet to blow off steam, helped them focus.
“Not quite, ba,” he murmured. “Some places are off limits. You know that.”
“Like the computer arrays?”
“Yeah, like that. And the brig.”
“Even to you?” Warwick was the chief security officer in charge of the cleaning crew in this sector. But she couldn’t help thinking he should turn his attention to the ceiling of his own quarters.
“Even me, ba. Why you asking about this, anyway?”
“Just wondering. You ever seen inside that place? The computer—”
“No. They don’t just open the door to anyone wandering by from sickbay.”
“Who cleans it, then? It needs maintenance and disinfectant like anywhere else.”
“Sure.” He rolled over on the formbed, considering her with a funny expression on his face. “Drones, I think. Some of it is self-maintaining. They say this whole ship is regenerative, you know. Even if there was a hull breach here—”
She eyed the AM pistol on his belt, hanging from the seat by the door.
“—well, some stuff might get ejected, maybe some folks too—probably a lot, actually—and we’d lose some air, and the sector would need to be sealed off. But it would fix itself, more or less, within a few days.”
Trace couldn’t sleep for hours that night, and when she did, her dreams were of her children.
There had been three of them, all removed after being determined safe and healthy, and she had never seen them again after the births. She knew they were first moved to the postnatal unit for monitoring, and then eventually to the crecheworks for early education by unattached, unrelated teachers.
The system was best for all, they said. Best for children to be raised by professionals, so the parents could return to work and the children would grow up with no personal attachments.
All eyes in the conference room were locked on the devices in their hands. The probabilities of various outcomes scrolled across the screens, each with a name and a brief description. Every one could be opened to go into more detail, unpacking its associated lists of antecedents and decendants, an infinitely unfolding tree of begots and begets, each cloaked behind a shimmer of probabilistic unreality.
Seyyes reports were dead simple in their display and exhausting in their implications. Councilors could go mad, completely losing themselves in the detail maze of what ifs and endlessly recursing exploration. Several had, over the generations.
“Thoughts?” Fri intentionally interrupted the others with his question. All eyes looked up again, some more reluctantly than others.
“It can be a... fruitful diversion,” one began.
“We have no one to sell excess energy to,” Rwain said. “We must think only to ensure the future viability of the colony. That is our prime concern.”
“Yes, but it would be nearly all for naught if we reached the target and had no energy store. Or, worse, failed to reach the target at all.”
“The report indicates a high likelihood of that either way,” she said. “Regardless, the collection event does not significantly affect the chance of success in the primary mission.”
“Exactly.” Fri looked pleased. “And the cost of going through with this action?” The expected number of deaths had been in the topline results: twenty times the baseline average. “Worthwhile?”
“I expect so,” said Councilor Goreham. “The colony will need something of value once we’re established. What good is a colony with nothing to offer? This store would give us some value from the outset, before mining or agriculture has had a chance to develop and adapt to the conditions on the target.”
“So, then, I moved we make this adjustment.”
The vote was quickly carried out. It was unanimous, all but one voice.
“It seems to me that it all hinges on whether the inputs are good.” Fri peered into the darkness ahead. This was coming from Chabo again, his face locked once more on the screen.
“All of the assumptions and the data analyzed were listed at top of the report,” Fri said impatiently, like an instructor to an especially slow year-class. “You have access to the same data as Seyyes and all of us.”
“No. Go back in,” Chabo said, his fingers moving intently on the screen. “Go back into the system. There’s been an attack in Sector 9.”
“Wha—from outside the ship?” Fri was dumbfounded.
The council broke into chaos.
It didn’t make sense. An attack? That was something from the history vids, something from the before time, from the home. The people here could not attack. The system ensured it. Seyyes ensured it.
Trace picked through the smoking mass that had been the door leading into the computer array. She would need to move fast. Security was undoubtedly on its way. She was vaguely aware that she had crossed a point of no return, but something pressed her inexorably onward.
As she stood in the middle of the computer array, which stretched down the length of the corridor in every direction, was simultaneously diminishing and strangely elating. It was all coils and boxes packed into every corner, ticking away, slumbering helplessly in the dim lighting.
Trace raised the AM pistol, and fingered the safety catch. Had Seyyes foreseen this, she wondered? Did it really see anything at all? Or was that just more propaganda from the Council?
There was movement at the door and Trace spun. Just a drone. It watched her, unmoving, for a moment. Then its face faded to black. It slowly wheeled out of the doorway and out of view.
She turned back to one wall of the array. “Guess I need to talk to you.” She still had her comm unit in her pocket. She took it out and connected it to one of the many ports on the wall. Seyyes must assume that all who had access here were authorized.
She worked through the screens slowly. She had only known low-level parts of the controls before now, but it was all roughly similar. She was drawn in more and more, digging deeper, down more into the details as she tried to find...
What was it?
The drone. The drone from this morning. She located the serial number in the drone roster and opened the record.
The full record of its actions for the week. Her repair and reinstatement of it this morning. And its engagement with Councilor Fri. He had personally authorized the use of the drone for himself, no others present. There was a gap in the logs then, a period of time unaccounted for in the drone’s record, from then until it was recovered in its damaged state and delivered to her the night before.
Then she heard clicking sounds at the doorway. “Don’t step any closer,” she cried.
The security guards, recognizable by the black stripes on their uniform, paused for a moment at the door. They wore armor, and had their facemasks down—all useless against the AM gun she carried.
One began to step over the slag on the floor and she screamed, “Stop! This is an antimatter pistol I have pointed at the computer array. I fire and the Seyyes is gone. And AM blasts are very unpredictable. I hope they teach you that in training. Do you think the shielding on this wall will hold out? It’s an external hull wall, if I’m not mistaken. We’d all die if it were breached. Probably get sucked right out the hole. And this ship would be left without a brain.”
“Put the gun down,” a voice echoed down the corridor from the doorway.
She ignored it. “I’m going to stay right here,” she said, keeping a stack of the processing away between her and the door. And then, almost as an afterthought, she added: “I want to see Councilor Fri.”
What did it mean? A member of the civilian population had never requested a specific Councilor before. They had always been to cowed to address them—technically, they could, but the system of emotional control, psychological inhibition, ensured conformity to prevent such things. Was there some failing in the educational program?
Surely there could be no deficiency in the genetic pool. No one with any history, personal or familial, of mental illness had been allowed in the selection of initial volunteers. Any heritable issues, of course, meant instant disqualification.
That violence with the gun—taking Seyyes hostage—Seyyes!—unthinkable. It had to be a stolen gun—how? At every point, the controls should have obviated this crisis.
He cursed as he walked down the call. If the Council security officers by his side had any reaction, they didn’t show it. Their face guards were down, leaving their faces dark and inscrutable.
And requesting him by name—unheard of. How did she reach this point? They had always had warnings of divergent behavior in the past, enough warning signs to preemptively get them into the brig before any real damage had been done.
The Councilor came to the last door. Security was crawling everywhere at this point, especially inside the entrance room—everywhere not in view of the big door, now a ruined heap across the room. He marveled at the state of this formerly secure room, only used for monitoring the computer systems. All its contents had been overturned and trampled by the security officers taking defensive positions. They might need some vital materials handling training once this was all over, he thought idly.
He edged toward the doorway and peered inside.
“Are you... Trace?” he called into the corridor. The space was dark and cold, illuminated only by dim lights above the computer arrays.
He didn’t know her—he didn’t know much of anyone from outside the Council. Its members were selected by Seyyes from the general population, the most promising individuals chosen from the pool. But their duties rarely allowed them much time to talk with outsiders.
The council had completed the vote before convening, and he reviewed her record briefly on his way here. Nothing particularly stood out from her history. Just a drone repair tech, already completed her reproductive services. Unremarkable, until today. Her mother had been jailed for refusal to work two decades ago, but there was no evidence she had known or ever been in contact with her...
“Yes.” The voice echoed from the chamber ahead. “Are you Fri?”
He saw no movement ahead. “I am.” He took a step over the melted door into the chamber. “I want to talk to you alone.”
Fri took another step, and another, moving deeper into the darkness, further away from the protection of security.
Suddenly a hand shot out and grabbed him, pulling him back into the recess of an array.
“What are you—”
“Shut up,” she hissed. “Just listen. I need to get out of here—”
“You’ll never be allowed to—”
“No, I will, because you’re going to let me.”
The gun was still pointed at the wall in front of her. “Because I can blow this up right now. I know our trajectory was changed just now. I read the report. People are going to die—”
“People always die.”
“Many more, over this. For your energy scheme. What do you think the people would say if they knew this was coming? What do you think they would do? What if they knew about your fetish?”
His face went red and he tried to wrestle away, but she had the strength of youth. The gun in his face stopped his struggling. Her nails dug into his arm. “Don’t make me,” she said.
“You’d kill us both.”
“Yes. I would.”
“Now,” she said, “let’s go out there together. Tell security that we’re fine—I’m going back to my quarters, and I’ll leave the gun with you once I’m there.”
“But the records—”
“Are my insurance. I have copies—on this comms device, but not only on this one. And if anything happens to me, they won’t only be sent to the rest of the Council.”
She pushed him out into the corridor and slowly followed him to the door.
There was some grumbling from the security team, that the person responsible for all this trouble got off like that, but they had to admit there had been no bad behavior from her since.
Fri’s tenure on the Council was short-lived after that. He resigned within the year, and life for the population went on.
|# ¿ May 8, 2017 05:35|
Week #248: A Vision of the Future – CRITS
|# ¿ May 23, 2017 04:03|
In a world where everyone's a rebel.
In a world without a magnetosphere.
|# ¿ May 24, 2017 04:01|
The Revolution Continues
The whip split the air. It just nicked Jorgen between his shoulder blades, but his back burned like it was on fire, and his vision blurred. He gritted his teeth and pressed on. This particular driver did not believe in spoken words. Any sound would have meant further punishment.
Others caught its full force and fell instantly, paralyzed or seizing. The rest were ordered to carry the immobilized until they could walk again, and the group trudged on.
The jungle path unwound like twine under the hazy sky as the crowd staggered towards the Red Mountain, penal camp for the government’s worst criminals. Most saw it as certain death. The disturbance at dawn had come as they realized their destination. To Jorgen, it was salvation.
He had infiltrated a work troop, full of worn, dirty people. The colectivos kept them in line by force, despite being outnumbered twenty-five to one: some by electro-whip; others with pre-war firearms. A few looked rusted and inoperable, but no one wanted to test them. If you guessed wrong, if they were maintained and loaded with viable antique ammunition, they would kill you just as dead as any modern method.
Colectivos reported to no one, at least not officially, but served the local economia. Bands of colectivos provided resources and goods to local civilians, at exorbitant prices—they were thin fronts for the global fruit and mining conglomerates to get what they wanted here.
The road was mostly empty, save for the odd peasant on foot. When a military unit clattered by, a convoy of several dozen tall, gaunt boys in fatigues clinging onto ramblers, they peered down at Jorgen’s work troop like hawks, with pitying faces. They knew its destination.
Before noon, the troop broke, pulling back into the shade to rest. The heat of the afternoon made travel untenable. Even the colectivos knew there was no value in killing workers before they arrived.
Jorgen attempted to engage his neighbors. He tried the basics: name? hometown? family patron?
He got only one-word answers in response, and only when the colectivos weren’t looking. Apparently these people were rebelling against spoken language, or the concept of communication entirely. The revolution continues in every man.
He spotted an old compatriot on the other side of troop, who offered him only a quick grimace. She must have seen his attempt and knew its futility. They’d find little help here.
The colectivos handed out food. It was some kind of individually wrapped dry, flaky bar. It looked like cardboard and tasted worse. Jorgen didn’t trust it, but he had no choice; he’d need all his energy for this grueling travel. He had been searched, of course, after allowing himself to be captured, and they used personal scanners. He could never have smuggled in his own materials.
It was an hour later when a captive tried to escape. Jorgen sat up and tried see the cause of the commotion without sticking his head out and risking getting shot. The road was briefly obscured in a cloud of dust until a crack shattered the scene. The dust dissipated, revealing a body, face down on the red soil of the path. The jungle went eerily quiet.
As the sun dipped in the sky, the colectivos prodded their captives to get moving again. Sometimes literally. Jorgen wondered how they kept their tools charged. He had seen no solar panels, and no one wore the bulky pack signifying a portable fission reactor. Maybe they were even more rag-tag than they seemed, each risking running dry at any moment. Best not to make assumptions, he decided.
The next day was the final ascent to the mountain. There, Jorgen knew, he would find his father.
The revolution of the Sud was a revolution of hard work and struggle. Everyone had work assigned to them, to make a living by their own hands. No one relied on machines, unlike the rich, lazy people of the Norte. At least, that was the government’s line. Everyone was encouraged to rebel in their own way, every day, a quixotic attempt at conformity through aberration, unity through discord.
But people whispered about the masked man, the Wildcat, how he followed just behind work crews putting up new statues and signs celebrating the regime. How he climbed like a cat, bounding from wall to ledge to Bolivar’s outstretched arm, to deface them, to change words, to replace the President’s face with something friendlier. How he never got caught, though his works were visible for all to see.
But Jorgen knew the truth. He had been caught, and had not been heard from since. Only by Jorgen’s source in the Presidential Guard had he learned that the Wildcat had been tried and condemned to the Red Mines. No one sent there had ever come out alive.
The darkness was bleak, penetrating, but worse was the growing heat as the group descended. The old lift clanked and shuddered as it rumbled down its steep angle into the depths.
The guards didn’t point their guns or threaten talkers. There was no need. The new miners were resigned to their fate.
But Jorgen was not. He had positioned himself by one of the guards near the far end of the lift. As a line of dim light broke below, at the ceiling of the entry chamber, he struck.
He jumped and bodyslammed the guard, grabbing hold of his electro-whip with one had and his torso with the other, to brace for the fall. They turned in the air and landed with a thud. The colectivo was knocked cold.
Shots rang out from the funicular above as the other colectivos reacted, but Jorgen was already off running. Here, he would rely on his knowledge of the structure of these mines in which he had never set foot. But he had rebelled against entropy and the vagaries of memory. He had trained eideticism and had spent months running through sims of this complex prepared by the underground forces.
He ran through the corridors, lit mainly by the electro-whip wrapped into a coil around his hand. He ran past most guards too quickly for them to fire, let alone aim. Coming to a shaft, he took a running leap and slalomed off the sides, kicking off of struts and support beams like a giant spiral staircase. He landed on the new floor in a roll to avoid any dangerous attention as he got his bearings.
At last, he reached the active work field. The tunnels zigzagged off in every direction, following the red seams. Two armed guards watched the workers, apparently unaware of his arrival, thanks to the din of the kinetic extractors. A few quick whip strokes left them unconscious. The nearby workers glanced over, then resumed working.
He went to the nearest miner: a woman, near-skeletal, coated in flecks of stone, and dusted brown with ash. The ionized air was thick with smoke. The extractor and its power pack she wore on her back was nearly as big as her.
“Stop this,” he said.
She ignored him and kept mining.
Jorgen snapped the connecting line from her pack. She frowned as her extractor sputtered and died.
“Where is the masked one, the Wildcat?” he asked, to no avail.
He was met with more blank stares as he continued down the line of miners.
Then he reached a man older than his father, still somewhat cogent, who pointed down a dark path.
It was a corridor lined with dark metal doors, each ventilated with a barred window. The stench here was thick and ripe. The purpose was clear: these held the workers sent here to die.
In the fourth cell down, he found his father, lying on the bare floor of his small cell, emaciated, dotted with flies, muttering incoherently. His unshaven beard was patchy and sparse. His eyes rolled around the room.
“Father,” Jorgen said, crouching over the man. Then, more quietly, “Papa.”
At this, the bony, thin face softened, and the eyes shut in anguish. There were no tears left.
“Come with us,” Jorgen said softly. His accomplices from the assault had finally fought their way down from the surface, thanks to the diversion of his initial attack. They crowded around, leaning forward to hear. “We can get you to safety, get you treated.” He reached down. The old man was light, far too light, in his hands.
“No,” came the reply, barely a whisper. “I never believed this regime would outlive a man. And look—”
More pushed in now, some armed with firearms wrested away from guards, some with tools repurposed and bloodied for the first time, a few old friends and compatriots, all straining to hear the Wildcat’s last words.
“—here today, I’ve seen it breathe its last breath.”
The underground had seized the Red Mountain, the old symbol of oppression. They had new weapons, a plan, and a leader.
“The revolution continues in every man,” he whispered.
He held his breath.
In a world where everyone's a rebel.
|# ¿ May 29, 2017 05:59|
In flash, flash me.
|# ¿ Jun 7, 2017 03:24|
Deidre Kahn was in love with other people.
“Addicted”, her last boyfriend put it. She called him a dick. Then she dumped him and went out and had the best night of her life.
She sat on a bed in a dark room, with the shades drawn shut though the sun had set long ago, scrolling through the array of possible lives. A new one caught her eye. She stopped, zoomed in, considered, expressionless.
Subscription gave her early access. A new face in the premium content meant no one in the real world would have seen him before.
Except whoever knew the original, of course.
He was small-figured, Asian, nineteen, with an enigmatic hint of a smile.
Deidre never second-guessed. She made her selection and waited for the download. His face vanished from the array.
A new body was always an ordeal. She stumbled around her apartment, learning new muscles, stretching strange vocal cords. Then she looked for appropriate clothes to wear out.
“Start with something loose or form-fitting,” the app recommended for first timers, “to avoid any problems.” Deidre just never bothered wearing clothes when she changed.
“Danger,” “extremely experimental,” and “use only in the comfort of your own home”, the app also said. She ignored those warnings, too.
Her closet was packed full of men’s and women’s clothing of all sizes. Never knew who she would be wearing next. Now happy with her look—guys can get away with putting much less care into their outfits—she headed out.
Deidre waved her card at the reader and stepped off the transport. Music thumped from inside the club as she approached.
“You have ID, kid?” a gruff voice demanded at the front of the line. An unexpected problem with this body: he looked underage.
“Uh, one minute—” Her unpracticed voice cracked. She fumbled for her card, then held it up. Holographic information danced before the bouncer’s face.
The ID alterations might not fool a government—it seemed like every week someone was detained at an airport for attempted body-smuggling—but here, it was good enough. He grunted and let her in.
Who was this boy? Deidre couldn’t help wondering as she danced.
The array never offered any identifying information: no biography, no family, no name, no likes or dislikes or preferences. Rarely, you found one with medical warnings or allergy notices, especially in the public content. But even down there, that was unusual; most who were selected, like most who used the app, were healthy. They were ciphers. Users had to project a personality of their own devising. It was second nature, a game to her now, seeing how differently she could play each person.
Where did he live, she wondered? What languages did he speak? What was his favorite music? Was he a virgin?
She decided to try playing him as gay, for a change, for the challenge. She left the dance floor just as the music was building to a peak.
Deidre tried approaching a few guys at the bar, obliquely, talking but saying nothing. She gained confidence even as she was turned down, and she grew bolder in her intimations. This body’s voice had a whine, it seemed to her, but she couldn’t do anything about that.
With her sixth attempt, she found interest. The other guy was tall, bearded, wearing a bit of leather, a chain. He was something like her type, when she still had a type, still put herself out there. He squinted, smiled coyly, murmured to her. It had been a while. There was a shiver of anticipation as she meandered to the restrooms, where he had told her to meet him in a few.
The condition of men’s rooms in general and club urinals in particular no longer shocked her. This room was somehow, thankfully, empty. The door swung open a minute later and she turned just in time to catch the leather-clad punch. Her head struck the sink by the door and she was out for the rest.
At closing time, the staff found a bloody and unconscious Asian male, propped up inside one of the stalls. They called an ambulance, but it was too late for her.
The EULA was clear. Deidre’s original body, put up as collateral and stored for safekeeping during the exchange, timed out and was retained. With the next content update, there was a new face available in the premium array: a twenty-eight year old Caucasian woman, red-haired, medically clear, looking bored.
stitched into a tableau of ghosts
|# ¿ Jun 12, 2017 05:00|
Critiques for Weeks CCXLVIII, CCXLIX, CCL, and CCLI: A List of Undeniable Problems
|# ¿ Jun 12, 2017 05:30|
|# ¿ Jun 17, 2017 22:38|
punk will never die but punk week is finally fuckin dead cuz here's your crits 3/3
in to sin
Killer-Of-Lawyers I picked you to thoughtful-crit because you seem like me but a better writer.
This doesn't feel like a new civilization at all. It already has soldiers with ranks, a city, bows and chariots, priests and kings. These structures do not arise overnight, or even in a single lifetime (or three). It's much more "decline of a person" than "dawn of a civilization". Dipping into creation myth for one paragraph at the end doesn't change that.
This is basically the biography of any no-name soldier of an equally nameless ancient/dark/medieval age society, only the narrator seems much too self-aware for his position. Speaking of the narrator, who is it? I really don't know a thing about them besides a couple of brushstrokes from that biography. I don't see what motivates them, and there's nothing presented that makes them different and worth talking about relative to everyone else in the army. You used less than half your word limit, you had enough to spare for characterization.
The structure itself is confusing. On a reread, was this meant to be 4 separate stories, told by 4 separate narrators? That's not clear at all, and the "pressed into service" repetition suggests not. If not, why does the narrator keep restarting the story at a different place each time?
I can't tell what you were trying to accomplish with this writing.
Fuschia tude fucked around with this message at 15:18 on Jul 4, 2017
|# ¿ Jul 4, 2017 06:13|
How much are you asking?
|# ¿ Jul 7, 2017 03:05|
|# ¿ Jul 7, 2017 05:57|
Wait doesn't flerp give UP 700 votes hence making a tie?
I already did wizards week you butts
|# ¿ Jul 7, 2017 06:55|
|# ¿ Jul 7, 2017 07:30|
After I died, things got a mite unusual. I met a .38 rimfire shot from an H&A revolver with my brain-pan, and it was not a pleasant encounter.
The local townsfolk were nice enough to provide me with a sturdy pine dwelling-place to call my own. Me, a mere itinerant fortune-teller with a flair for the dramatic and a hawk-head staff that I had on good authority was once clutched by the Shah of Persia. I had parked my travelling caravan on the edge for town for a week, trying to save some money and stock up for passage over Cheyenne Mountain.
It was Friday when one of my customers seemed not to take a liking to me. He was normally not the type I would agree to give a reading for, but he offered triple my usual rate. He was running for some office, I heard, and he was the Governor’s nephew to boot. He wanted to know his chances in the horse-race.
Big Bill, he said his name was. He didn’t look like much, sitting across the table from me in my little wagon, snapping at my questions, spitting, scratching his arms. I turned over the cards and tried to render my prognostication as ginger-like, fair, and level-headed as I could manage. But the news enraged him nonetheless.
He demanded his money back. I must admit my reflexive refusal seemed much more like a principled and righteous stand to take with an armed belligerent before the contents of my skull were splashed across the walls.
I don’t know who knew. I don’t know who saw him go into my wagon, or who saw him leave. But I do know he never saw the inside of a jail cell.
So, down I went in my little pine vessel. I filled the earth and the earth soon filled me. It seeped in through the cracks, and all manner of creeping crawlers came in with it.
I slept, until one day, I heard a rumbling from below. “You have come to us too soon,” it said, and in its voice the grinding of mountains against mountains. Big Bill, it explained, was buying tracts of land to cut down all their trees and sell the lumber. “You will put a stop to this,” the voice said.
I’d love to, I thought, but I’m feeling right stymied down here.
“You need only ask, and we shall make way.”
I tried to concentrate, and felt mighty foolish. But by and by, mote by mote, pebble by stone by clod of dirt, the earth gave way and opened up and spit me out into the cold damp of night.
I took stock. I was me. I was whole, more or less. My grave bore a pitiful chalked wood marker, reading only “The Great Shazzir,” no date of birth. I still wore my fortune-teller getup. There was still a half-inch hole in my forehead. I reckoned that was best not left as it was, so I plugged it with some wax from an extinguished candle at the gravedigger’s station. I unwound my long “turban” and re-purposed the cloth. Then I walked back into town.
My mouth tasted of mushrooms and earthworms. I smelled only musty earth as I walked, until I caught the smoke from a single fire still alight at this hour. I headed to the source, to the mayor’s mansion, sitting at the end of the main thoroughfare. I knew this was the place.
I climbed the stone stairs and pressed on the large front door, but it was locked. I felt the termites living in the soil under the foundation. With a few words of encouragement, they climbed up through the cracks and onto the door. They feasted on the wood around the hinges. One solid kick and I was inside.
A tall, thin man jumped from a chair by the door. He grabbed for his revolver as I said a few words, and his leather holster frayed and disintegrated and the trigger rusted solid in his hands.
“Big Bill,” I said, through my makeshift bandanna mask.
The thin man collapsed into the wall, whimpering. The gun fell from his hands and shattered with a crack on the floor. He pointed upstairs, then ran out into the night as I moved towards the stairs.
I paused by each door along the gallery. Each was cold and empty—until I came to the last. There, I heard breathing, ragged, trying to calm itself. I pushed in the door and heard a crash. A chair clattered on the floor. The bed was empty; the dying embers in the fireplace threw weird shadows across the room.
I moved inside and a gunshot rang out, nearly taking my jaw off. A woman wearing only a chemise was crouched on the far side of the bed, gripping a rifle.
“I’ll ignore that,” I rasped, pulling the scorched and ruined cloth from my head. There was no pain, just an itching pressure in the space below my mouth. “Where is he?” I moved forward. The gun trembled in her hands. She hid her face as I crossed the room.
The curtain blew in the breeze from the open window and I moved to it. No, not open. Glass glinted from the ground below. I saw the hitching posts where horses must have been tied. There were several frayed ropes hanging loose, swaying in the breeze, and many hoofprints leading south through the muck. But I had no need for horses.
I leapt through the window. The ground reached up and caught my shoes.
I followed his trail on foot, into the foothills, as night turned into day, never stopping, never tiring. When the ground turned hard and rocky, I listened to the stones. They echoed recent hoofstrikes. Where the trail crossed a creek, I scooped mud from the banks and weighed it in each hand.
As I climbed into the Cheyenne, I came close enough to smell it, the fear, the uncomprehending rage. Near a mountain spring I passed a dark, shod horse laying on its side, panting, broken, its mouth covered in foam, pushed beyond exhaustion. I was close. The scent of campfire wafted through the air.
I rounded a cliff face and it came into view: a campsite built within a slight recess in the cliff wall, a rocky divot overlooking a steep fall. And in the back, behind a smoldering firepit lined with discarded bones of small game, a figure lay on his back, motionless, with his hat on his face. He had become old and fat with the comfort of his position. It seemed he had grown into his nickname.
“Big Bill,” I said.
There was an explosion from within the cave and my chest burst open, dry and graveyard-dusty. He had a sawn-off shotgun concealed in his jacket. But that wouldn’t be enough to stop me.
He had emptied both barrels. He cowered in the back of the cavern, struggling to reload, as I dove onto him and the cavern walls enveloped us. We fell down, through the rocky soil, returning to the earth, until all was peaceful once more.
You invoke the voices from the deep places of this world. Only you know what they say.
|# ¿ Jul 10, 2017 04:37|
In a world with dragons just... just loving everywhere, man. They're all over the place. And not cool dragons either. These dragons are everywhere and they are 100% not cool. Ubiquitous uncool dragons, I guess is what I'm trying to say here. Dragons.
In a world without alcohol or chocolate. Or chocoholics.
|# ¿ Aug 24, 2017 02:46|
Xin Jiang ran his finger over the rim of the gold coin in his hands. The scanner chin embedded in his fingertip verified the chain. “The crypto checks out. Pleasure doing business with you.”
His customer waved its head-fronds at him. It gathered up the goods it had purchased and wobbled out the doorway with its two bags.
Xin traded in exotic goods and offworld delicacies. To stay out of the watchful eyes of Systech, he would piggyback on ships coming into the system, contraband slipped in among their other shipments. Captains were usually glad to look the other way once they got the bribe in their accounts. Some he knew well enough to have a regular agreement with, and offered a cut of profits. And it helped to be in with the local magistrate, in case anything went wrong that one or two millionths couldn’t clear up.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a dragon skittering across the floor. He stomped on it and the scales made a satisfying crunch under his boot. He checked the underside—no smoldering. Good. He had lost a shoe to one of those little firebreathing pests once already this month.
The afternoon was slow, as expected for this time of the cycle. A couple of tourists buying lunar confectionaries, a regular showing up asking for Nautilus fruit (none in season, yet). No one else.
As he was closing up shop for the day, Xin got a call from one of his suppliers.
“Rae?” he asked when the connection was established, before an insectoid face extruded from the display.
“No,” it said. Xin never could tell the sex of a dipteran. “Rae’s not available.”
“Who are you?”
“Her second in command. The operating officer of this vessel. Listen—the shipment won’t be coming in.”
“What?” Xin jumped forward and grabbed the handheld, switching it to a more intensive encryption method. The image quality degraded quickly as the system processed the new encryption, and it fell back to a two-dimensional display. The bugface was no prettier in 2D. “But I need that next week—I already paid you!”
Its proboscis wobbled in the air as the dipteran shook its head. “It doesn’t matter. Systech has new scanners installed, and they’re testing more ships in the ports. Every port. Can’t risk it.”
Xin ran some quick numbers through his head—paying imports and fees to get the offworld goods he had purchased down to the surface would ruin him. He’d be out of business in a month, tops. And Rae’s absence still bothered him.
“And Rae? Is she all right? All my previous communications have been with her. Why isn’t she the one calling me now?”
“Yes, yes. All good. Is simply… very busy, right now.”
“Is she still Captain?”
“Good day, Xin.” The connection ended.
Xin cursed and ran through inventory again on his device. Stocks for most of the popular sellers, offworld edibles, would last a week, but he was running low on exotics. That was why he had been relying on this shipment. If he didn’t find a new source of imports soon, he’d lose his customers, the connoisseurs and aesthetes obsessed with the real, looking for things too delicate to order by terrestrial carrier or too intricate to form-print. Several were agents for magnates and other wealthy benefactors—collectors.
He sighed. He would have to talk to Rae eventually to settle that debt she owed. For now, he had to make a call.
A dragon buzzed around his ear. He idly swatted it away and switched on the handheld.
“Call the magistrate’s office,” he said.
Xin rolled into bed unusually late for him. He slept in the burrow above the shop, nestled in the attic among the crossbeams.
When he awoke, he found himself unable to move. His arms hurt and his mouth seemed stuck. He opened his eyes with great difficulty—had he been drugged?—and found himself staring at a large bronze human form towering over him.
“So, Mr. Jiang,” the living statue said. “You awaken.” Its mouth did not move; its voice boomed from somewhere deep within its chest. It lifted one elbowless arm into the air. In place of a hand, it had a solid bronze sphere nearly as big as its head. “I am here to deliver a message.”
Xin squirrmed, trying to free his wrists tied behind his back or spit out the covering from over his mouth, to no avail.
“Do not struggle, or I will shatter your legs.” The statue stood motionless, with the ball still suspended in the air. In between its pronouncements and movements, it was completely silent. “Simply listen. The ties on you will dissolve within the next thirty minutes,” it said, and waited implacably.
Xin blinked. He nodded, slowly. And out of sight, behind his back, he began to rub his thumb and forefinger together.
“Good. Message follows:”
The statue was silent for a moment, then the voice issuing from its center shifted in its quality, becoming rough and less monotone. “‘Forget about the shipment,’” it said, in this other voice. The recording was poor, but Xin thought he almost recognized the speaker. “‘Write it off. If you persist, you will be destroyed. There will not be another warning.’ Message ends.”
The statue’s arm clucked back down to its side. Then it turned and lumbered out of the room. Xin listened as its footsteps moved through the shop below.
He wouldn’t have thirty minutes to wait. Through physical stress combined with a binary contact code he had memorized, the reader chip had activated its panic mode. The end of his fingertip grew uncomfortably hot. He gritted through the pain and pointed the discharge at the tie on his wrist. Within seconds, it had been eaten through, and he turned it to the tie around his ankles.
Xin pulled the tiny chip out of his burned fingertip—first aid could wait—and practically leapt downstairs.
The bronze statue turned before reaching the door, just in time to meet Xin’s sledgehammer with its exquisitely sculpted head. Xin didn’t know where its processor or motor control unit was located and took a risk, but knocking its head down well into its torso turned out to be good enough. The thing sputtered and issued some caustic black smoke, but did not move again.
The sledgehammer fell to the floor with a thud. Xin caught his breath, tried to shake off his brain fog, and scanned the shop.
His handheld lay in pieces on the floor near the upstairs passageway. It was ripped apart from its center, like a great weight had been dropped on it. The shop door had been busted open at the lock and it swung gently in the early morning breeze. Nothing else had been touched.
Xin stomped at a dragon skittering on the floor and shut the door with an angry grunt, barring it with the hammer’s handle grip.
Then, gripping the scanner chip tightly in his off-hand once more—it was no longer good for anything but burning—he walked up to the statue and set to work. “Let’s see what we have here…” He began cutting through the bronze material. He hoped he would find an answer.
He did not.
Xin surveyed his situation. He had no idea who had sent the statue threat—probably someone involved with Rae’s ship. His goods for sale were likely to run out soon. There was no incoming shipment to replace it. His handheld was broken. His best business partner seemed to have been separated from her ship in a mutiny… or maybe was trapped inside it, somewhere. He didn’t even know where her ship was or where it would be headed, now.
Maybe it was time for a change. He had grown too complacent here. Officials were closing in on his supply lines. He could sell what remained of his stock, but would it be worth the hassle? He had more than enough crypto to get him offworld. From there, he would think of something. He always did.
Xin packed a few of his highest value items into a bag and marched out of his shop for the last time. First stop: buy a new handheld. Next stop: points unknown. Somewhere that wasn’t overrun by flying reptiles.
In a world with dragons just... just loving everywhere, man. They're all over the place. And not cool dragons either. These dragons are everywhere and they are 100% not cool. Ubiquitous uncool dragons, I guess is what I'm trying to say here. Dragons.
|# ¿ Aug 28, 2017 07:21|
Week #264 - Dystopia With A View CRITS
|# ¿ Sep 5, 2017 05:50|
Continuing my crit catch up journey.
|# ¿ Sep 18, 2017 04:54|
|# ¿ Aug 4, 2021 09:38|
I am in. Can I get a flashrule?
|# ¿ Sep 26, 2017 06:06|