Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Locked thread
magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I'm in, and I'll write it by Friday. If it's not done by Friday, I'll back out. NORMALLY, I'd just wait til Friday to say I'm in, but to get in, I need to have the TV premise. So. There you go. Long story short, what the hell I can do this.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


GenJoe posted:

Hey submissions are closed please and thank you

(except less than half of you submitted so if you still want to submit tonight that's ok I guess)
I'm 80% done. I WILL submit late rather than slink into the shadows over and over. Do I submit my too-late story here or is there a special place for late-subs?

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Late but done dammit.

LUCIOUS: 1370 words.
Prompt at end of story.

Lucious Pratt rips into the man’s neck, pulling tendons and muscle with his teeth. The man drops to the ground and Lucious checks for any other survivors before continuing down the path, his gait impeded by the shotgun blast to the knees minutes earlier.

He needs brains fast; his health is dropping.

To his left, a zombie stops lurching, and Lucious hears, “I’m going for more sodas, want one?”

“Two Dr. Peppers, and make sure they’re cold this time.”

Marvin’s lawn chair scrapes the basement floor so loudly when he gets up, Lucious can hear it over his headphones.

Lucious cradles the game controller, fingers driving the device from muscle memory in a room so dark he couldn’t see the buttons if he wanted to. His face, lit only by the television, is motionless except for his left eye, rapidly scanning the tv screen for movement.

His right eye, hand-painted medical-grade acrylic, never moves.

Marvin walks to the kitchen still wearing his VR goggles, carrying his controller, so he’s able to keep up with the other two zombies.

Both Chet and Marvin have VR goggles. Googles like that are useless to Lucious and his one good eye.

He doesn’t let it bother him.

Much.

The three boys don’t really need to be in the same room, what with the internet connection, but Lucious’ mom had told the other boys it was fine to come over anytime. She keeps the fridge stocked, and these two boys mooch without so much as a thanks.

But he doesn’t let it bother him. Not much.

At least he still has the one good eye for whatever that’s worth.

Doctors told him that—with practice—he’d be able to move the fake one just like his left eye so it’d be barely noticable.

But that never happened, and that’s how he ended up with that lovely nickname.

Another couple of doctors said he’d be back on the field in a few months. That was June. He got the zombie game at Christmas and it just about saved him from suicide.

Marvin and Chet weren’t the friends he’d had before the accident, but with his poo poo knee and fake eye, it’s a wonder he has friends at all.

“You have any extra health packs Chet? I’m low.”

“Sure, here.” Chet’s voice, clear and cheery, lisping and squeaky.

The zombie to his right drops two white and red boxes. “I need more than just two.”

“That’s all I have, sorry.”

Lucious picks up the packs and says, “Cut through these yards, see what’s across the street—”

“Hey, Cy,” Marvin’s voice, simultaneously over the headphones and right behind him. “Here’s your drink. Take it, I’m gotta go pee.”

Lucious doesn’t know what he hates more, his real name or the nickname these idiots gave him.

But he tries not to let it bother him.

Lucious wedges the can between his knees and pops it open with one hand. Then, with the can in one hand, controller in the other, he walks his zombie through back yards while he knocks back half the drink.

He burps loudly into his headset and puts the can on the edge of his dresser, knocking over a soccer trophy from two years ago.

With just one good eye, it’s no longer easy to tell what’s close and what’s far, and Lucious grits his teeth at the sound of the trophy hitting the floor.

“Dammit.” He finally looks away from the tv, still pressing his zombie ahead of the other two in the game. The room is too dark to see the soccer trophy, and when he looks up again, the terrain in the game had changed. In the evening light, the homes look less post-apocalyptic, more kept up. Generic back yards of generic ranch homes in a generic subdivision, except…

“Hey that’s just like your house, innit?” Chet says.

“Kind of, sure.” Lucious has his focus back in the game, the trophy can wait.

They cut through the yard to the back of the house, a generic mid-70s ranch with two garbage cans on a concrete slab patio. The bulb over the back door is out, just like his, just like half the homes in this collapsing Detroit suburb.

And just like any mid-sixties ranch, the sliding glass door opens to a kitchen-breakfast room-living room layout.

All the lights are off in the house.

They’re searching for weapons or health, and in this particular game health comes in the form of brains, at least when playing the game as zombies instead of humans.

In the headphones, noise to the left, coming from down the hall.

Light spills from a door, a toilet flushing and Lucious is on the human, clawing with superhuman strength, tearing flesh and cracking open the skull, pulling at the white and red goop, his health meter returning to full.

There’s two more doors in the hallway, one closed, the other flickering a dull light.

And before he realizes it, there’s just the two of them playing, Marvin’s zombie is no longer following down the hall.

And he knows what’s happened before he knows what’s happening.

On the TV screen, he bounds into the room, sees himself in the chair on the right, the empty chair in the middle and the green ratty lawn chair on the left. Chet’s in it, but he’s getting up.

Lucious watches the screen, watching the momentary infinite video loop of the TV, in the TV, in the TV, his mind not quite putting the game and reality together yet.

He pushes the X button repeatedly, burrowing into Chet’s neck on the screen.

The sounds overlap between game and reality; screaming and then gurgling, and then a loud crunch when Lucious bites into the mic on Chet’s headphones.

Chet is down on his knees, clutching his throat.

Lucious sets the controller, carefully, on the dresser. He’s bumped that controller too many times on accident, murdering teammates just because he nudged the X button with a soda can.

When he finally removes the headphones, he can hear the sound of Chet’s exposed torn esophagus, slurping at air through bubbles of blood. Chet’s looking at him but not — can’t — say anything.

His zombie, eight feet tall, stands over Chet, shoulders hitching, head occaionally snapping left and right. It’s a magnificent beast, skin peeled back from the forehead, a gaping hole in one cheek, its teeth exposed. Skinless neck, just veins, tendons and muscle pulsing and impossibly twisting tentacles keeping the head from lolling to the side.

The zombie looks at Lucious, and on the TV screen, Lucious is looking away, looking at the television. A hand waves, it’s his hand, he’s waving. He points, swings his arm in a slow arc.

He hears Chet collapse, has to turn his head to see Chet take one or two last gasps.

Lucious picks up the controller, careful to keep his thumb away from the X button. He has to look at the TV—the zombie’s point of view—to back the zombie into the hall.

He sets the controller on his chair like he’s setting down an ice cream cake with the candles lit.

The soda’s gone flat, or maybe it was flat all along. He empties the can in as few gulps as possible. He’s sweating, and it takes a couple tries to wipe the sweat from his eye because his hands won’t stop shaking.

He crushes the can in his hands, the aluminum clacking and then scraping when he tries to twist the can apart. The monster doesn’t react.

He throws one half of the torn can at the feet of the zombie, ready to kick the door shut if anything happens. It doesn’t move.

He throws the other half of the can at the zombie’s head, but misses because his sense of depth is for poo poo.

From the front door, he hears “Everything all right in here?”

Not sure, but it sounds like the old grouch who lives across the street.

Luscious takes the controls, settles into his chair, walks his zombie down the hall to the front door, his thumb, hovering over the X.

==

PROMPT:
he won the lottery ticket— he’s a shmuck trying to right his wrongs - , he’s got a lot of work to do.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Thranguy posted:

magnificent7’s Lucious
This was an okay hook, but with just a little tweaking it could be much better. Replace ‘the man’ with something more specific: the soldier, the clerk, the barrista. Weakened by the reveal a bit, although a zombie-pov story would have been tough. As would a successful zombie-pov game, for that matter.

Turning potentially sympathetic characters into psychopaths/sociopaths seems to be a thing this week. Another likely DM had it been on time.
Goddammit. I hate a crit that gets it all wrong until I think about it some more. Great feedback with good suggestions. Thanks.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I'm in. I can do this. Just look at my avatar.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I'm in. GIve me a picture of pure emptiness and poo poo. I love the empty.

And gently caress it. Flash me a rule as well. I work best under the confines of restrictions and poo poo. IF I work at all.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Bad Seafood posted:



The Yelp review was terrible.

1970-1984
800 words.

Julie said the air’s bad down here but I don’t smell anything.

We wouldn’t even be here if she’d remembered to move 1970-1984 to the new records building. But she didn’t, and now it’s up to me and Eric to grab all these files before they finish up demolition tomorrow.

Julie said the records was in a storage room in the parking lot basement with some the Halloween decorations. Forget the other stuff she said, just grab the boxes.

I don’t see anything down there at first, I mean besides an empty parking lot. Everything echoed, and it smelled like wet magazines. 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.

When he shouts that he found them, his voice sounds far away, and it’s off like he’s got a mouthful of cotton when he talks. And at first I figure it’s just the way his words echo around the dead parking lot, or maybe he’s already carrying some of the boxes.

Because there’s water, a good two or three inches where I’m standing and I don’t realize the ground keeps on descending at first. I’m like ten steps across the parking lot and the water’s now up to my knees, and I’m wondering did Eric swim to find them boxes?

I call out because Eric’s a joker. I know he’s hiding in the room waiting for me, that’s who he is. And I don’t want to get spooked, at least no more than I’m already spooked. He doesn’t respond. Come on Eric, I say, stop fooling around. He doesn’t answer.

Okay if that’s how it’s gonna be, I’ll sneak up on him too. But it’s not easy - I’m still knee deep in old water, and there’s power down here, the light’s on in the room Eric’s in, and right then it dawns on me how screwed we are if the power gets in the water.

I tell him Eric come on quit messing around there’s no time for this.

He still don’t respond, but that’s when I hear the echoes getting whooshy. It’s hard to explain, like there’s a giant fan next to my ears, running slow, and it’s bending the sound in waves.

And my head hurts.

And Eric still hasn’t answered me. I brace myself for his stupid jump scare and go on into the room. He’s not there. There’s the files on some shelves, at least four boxes on a desk: 1970 through 1974. Another box is upturned on the floor in the water.

And that’s where I find Eric, face down.

If he’s trying to scare me he’s going all out on this one.

Come on Eric get up quit playing you’re all wet and smell like dog rear end.

That’s when I hear my voice is all cotton filled like his was. It’s not the echoes it’s not the water. It’s the air.

The air’s bad.

I roll Eric over, he’s just floating there. Eyes open, he’s gone.

The room, the walls, they’re flexing like muscles pulsing at me. I’ve got to get out. I pull Eric up to the desk, lay him across it, but that’ll play out bad I know it will, they’ll say I killed him down here so I pick his fat rear end up and carry him with me.

The staircase is a hundred miles away, through knee deep water and the distance keeps growing. My eyes are watering, and the echoes in my ears coming through that giant fan are going faster. Everything sounds like it’s going whumpwhumpwhump. I drop Eric less than half way across the parking lot or else I’m as good as dead with him.

My lungs and my throat, they’re burning and I can’t get enough air to catch my breath. I know there’s good air up the stairs, I just have to make it to the stair case, get some good air, and send y’all back after him.

But by the time I’m at the top of the stairs my throat’s all closed up, barely any air makes it through and nobody’s up here waiting for me. Any sounds I try to make are a squeak. I lie here for five minutes.

That’s when Jeff drives by and seen me on the ground. He was over looking for Eric to go to lunch, I point to the stairs, Jeff said yeah I know he’s in the basement but I figured y’all’d be done by now.

What’s wrong with you he asks me. I can’t talk, and Jeff’s eyes do the math, something bad happened and Eric’s still down there.

He run off to get Eric, I’m trying to tell him the air’s bad, but I can’t.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Bad Seafood posted:

RESULTS
... there was still plenty to dislike with dishonorable mentions Jay W. Friks, Wizgot, RandomPauI, and Mag7
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).

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Fleta Mcgurn posted:

perfect feedback
Thank you so much, excellent feedback that was clear and highlights exactly what I need to work on.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Mrenda posted:

It's rare to read a story so embedded in a voice in TD, and what you tried is definitely a good thing. Strong voice from the writing is something that every one of the really great stories I've read have. It's just that your attempt didn't work out.
Spot-on assessment I'd say. Thanks for this. Great input.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


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

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I'm in with Prince* Tardigrade for two reasons:

- no matter how lovely I write, at least I'm writing something. Or trying to write something. Or hating myself for failing to write something.

- SittingHere's podcast about everybody's writing. I didn't know that was a thing, I just went and listened to your very very long in-depth dissection of my story. Holy poo poo. A thousand thanks for poking holes in our work. PS, the air is bad. You heard me.

* edit - does Prince count as a name? Prince, the artist, but if you meant to go with a name name, then I can change it to Nelson Tardigrade but that's just not as awesome.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I just dissected that story and posted it as its own thread, as a post mortem, (so I don't hijack this thread). I want to get better. Help me.

Post-mortem on a Dishonorable Mention from Thunderdome

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Tyrannosaurus posted:

you don't get better at writing by just thinking about writing.
wait what

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Prince Tardigrade
1241 godawful words.

“Daddy, tell me a story,” Little Junior says. The boy creeps nervously along unlit storefronts, hurrying home to his sick mother. Clutched in one hand, he carries the medicine that could buy her a little more time.

“Sure.” Daddy says, his left hand holding the boy’s, his right tucked into his pocket.

He thinks a few moments and then begins.

“There’s this boy, just like you.” He pats Little Junior on the head. “This boy doesn’t fear the shadows. He knows the night is safe as long as Prince Tardigrade protects the city with his army of microscopic water bears, ready to spring into action in a moments notice.”

“Prince Tardi-whats?”

“All it takes to summon the Prince’s army are a few drops of water.” He squeezes the boy’s hand and chuckles. “Actually, it takes a couple of hours to allow the organisms to re-hydrate. See, in the absence of any water, the tards can dry out and slow their metabolism to almost nothing.”

“Don’t call them tards daddy.”

“Oh it’s okay in this case. These aren’t like your sister Trudy. It’s okay to call them tards.” They stop walking. Daddy squeezes his hand and says “Can I finish my story now?”

Little Junior shrugs. “Go ahead.”

“They’re able to live dried up like that for decades, just waiting to be summoned. And then poof," he snaps his fingers, "give or take a couple hours, his water bears are ready for action.”

“Water bears?”

“That’s the nickname for these tiny creatures: Water Bears.”

“You seem to know a lot about these—”

Daddy cuts him off. “Even if the boy was in space, he’d still be safe because the tards are the only animal that can survive the hardships up there.” He laughs. “Except, well, they’d need some protection from ultraviolet rays. Sure, they can live in the unrelenting hardship of sub-zero space, but you hit them with a little ultraviolet light from the sun and all of a sudden they’re fragile.”

They stop at a red light, even though the streets are empty.

“This kid could be out there in trouble, and just shout 'Help me Prince Tardigrade!' and the Prince would show up with millions of his water bears and—I don’t know—a couple tubes of Hawaiian Tropic or something. But you get it. The kid’s not afraid because somewhere out there, watching over his city, there’s the Prince.”

The light changes.

“How do you know so much about Tardigrades?”

When he doesn’t answer his question, Little Junior asks, “So, does the kid actually end up in space?”

“No,” Daddy says. “And, honestly King Tardigrade could've probably handled the whole sun-screen problem better, but the King was killed by Zero Cel, the only super villain capable of freezing things to absolute zero. As you know, tardigrades can survive in cold, down to ALMOST absolute zero. But,” Daddy sighs, “just like any superhero, they’ve got to have that one stupid weakness. The Royal Tardigrades have two weak spots: absolute zero, and UV rays in space.”

Little Junior laughs and says “At least it’s not something stupid like the color yellow.”

“I know right?” Now Daddy’s laughing too.

Little Junior stops, pulling Daddy to a stop as well. “But how is any of this a story daddy? All you’ve told me is that there’s a Prince Tardigrade with super powers while we’re walking down the street. I don’t care about the kid, don’t care about this Prince.” He kicks a pebble into the shadows. It hits a tin can somewhere in the dark.

“Well, son. Sometimes you don’t have to care about the characters, not right away. But don’t be fooled. There’s definitely a limited amount of time before readers get bored if there’s nothing going on.”

They walk another block in silence, and then a brick hits the father on the head. He grunts, drops to one knee, clutching his scalp.

“What the hell was that?” The kid asks.

Daddy rubs his head. “It’s called an inciting event, boy. Sometimes it makes no sense but it’ll kick start your characters into action.”

“Instead of just talking about mindless poo poo?”

“Exactly. But you can’t say poo poo, you’re just a kid,” Daddy says.

“Wait. Do you mean I shouldn’t say the word poo poo, or I shouldn’t say anything because you don’t think I could do much better?”

Dad shrugs. “Little of both I guess.”

The boy searches the sky, looking for any reason the brick could have hit his father’s head. Daddy checks his hand, and sees fingertips are sticky with blood. “We should get going.”

They walk a little faster down the street, Daddy pulling the kid by the hand. To keep him distracted, Daddy goes on.

“Tonight, this little boy shouldn’t fear any foes except time. In less than an hour his mom will start having withdrawals, where she hates the color of sound coming from the television, and the apartment is too cold, no wait, it’s too hot, who keeps loving with the thermostat”

“I bet the kid would rather avoid that nightmare again,” Little Junior says and they both laugh nervously.

They walk in silence a few more blocks, the kid checking over his shoulder occasionally for whatever the hell threw the brick, thinking that, sadly, the brick did little to improve the story.

But then the kid thinks, Hang on, the brick wasn’t part of the story, that actually happened to us.

With their high rise just a block away, Daddy asks, “You know what’s worse than Zero Cel and Space Captain Ultraviolet combined?”

“Mommy going through withdrawals?”

“Close,” Daddy says. “But no. It’s the Distraction Demon.”

“That’s not a real thing Daddy.”

Daddy’s eyes are on something behind the kid.

“Prince Tardigrade is no match for the master of failed best intentions. Little Junior could have picked up the meds sooner but instead he took his time researching the best path to take. He put a lot of thought into what he’d say if anybody stopped to ask him what the hell an 8 year old boy is doing out on the streets after hours with a baggie full of methadone. So now the boy finds that even a man in tights armed with a million water bears, some sunblock and a water bottle are no match against the Distraction Demon.”

Behind the boy, the giant demon’s leathery wings open. In one hand, it holds another brick. In the other, between long filthy claws, an old iPad, displying a youtube video.

The kid starts to scream, “Help me Prince Tar—hey is that the video of cats that are afraid of pickles?”

The Demon says "No" in a voice so low the ground rumbles. “Cucumbers. They're afraid of cucumbers.”

Miles away, Prince Tardigrade noodles on his guitar, fumbling the opening notes of Stairway to Heaven. For a moment, he thinks he hears his name carried on the breeze through his open window. He pauses, then goes back to the guitar to take a turn at playing Dream On. He always botches that fourth chord.

And the Distraction Demon laughs.

The opening notes of Yakety Sax on the iPad are loud enough that Little Junior doesn’t hear his mom begging for somebody to loving open a window and crank the goddamn heat.

The kid laughs as one of the cats drat near shits the linoleum.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Tyrannosaurus posted:

goddamn waste of a good prompt.

Magnificent7 loses.

Ugh.
Yeah. I am very very very very sorry so sorry for that poo poo. Somewhere between starting and finishing I lost whatever the gently caress was going on in my head. But I finished, so. That's the ONLY thing going for that turd. SO sorry you had to read it.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


ThirdEmperor posted:

In

"Never mock a wizard's beard."

In.

Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Totally missed the deadline but I want to finish this thing and post it later today. Where do we post those? Here?

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


LATE SUBMISSION, (lost power Monday-Tuesday).

Hammond's New Clothes. 1030 words.

After years of sucking up to various bosses, Leonard Hammond was finally promoted to manager of the Mens Formal Wear department. He got a new ID badge, a bigger employee discount, and a shiny new key to the front door.

On Monday morning he woke up early intending to be the first to his department, ready to welcome the rest of his team and establish the new pecking order. He was absolutely thrilled to find a parking space on the ground floor of the lot across from the department store. After he double checked that he’d locked his car, he crossed the street taking care to avoid any puddles left from the early-morning street sweeper.

Of course, despite his best laid plans, he discovered that his shiny new key didn’t seem to work on the front door. The key fit, with a little needling, but it just wouldn’t turn.

He tried several times in vain, even running his spindly fingers over the ridges, like that might’ve improved things. His hands trembled from too much coffee as he flipped through the rest of his keys to make sure he wasn’t trying the wrong one, and that’s when he dropped his keyring.

That’s what must’ve drawn the vagrant over to him.

The old man shuffled along the sidewalk behind a shopping cart with one bad wheel, overflowing with trash bags. He wore a ratty army coat, beneath which a formerly white tee shirt draped over jeans held up by a phone cord. His face was a map of the city, wrinkles cut deep and long that all connected at a point between his eyebrows. The bottom half of his face hid behind a ratty beard that could’ve housed a family of mice.

“Did you try jiggling ‘em?” He croaked.

“Of course I did,” Hammond said, slowly but deliberately flinching from the man.

“Is that a new key? They never get it right.” The old man’s voice sounded and smelled like whiskey poured over an ashtray full of lit cigars. But the stench of his breath was second only to the man’s body odor, a foul pungent cloud that Hammond felt seeping into his new suit.

Hammond had a thing about personal space. Or, rather, he had a thing about people who ignored personal space.

“Could you back up a few steps please?”

The old man stepped back, taking with him the shopping cart which Hammond could now see also contained a tiny gray dog that could easily be used as a floor mop, if it hadn’t already.

Hammond reached into his sport coat retrieving a pair of wire-rim bifocals. Once in place he squinted at the key, making sure he’d been trying the correct one.

He pushed it into the lock again, but again, the key would not turn.

“Look,” the old man groaned. “As long as you’re out here, d’you suppose you could spare a buck for me and Cricket here? You know, so we can grab a bite to eat?”

Hammond regarded the man like he’d asked for a new car. “You do realize it’s illegal to panhandle along the sidewalk?”

“I’m just asking for enough to get a bite to eat, man.”

The streets were empty except for the two of them. Hammond could walk around the block to the other entrance, or he could use the delivery entrance. Either way, the old man would likely continue to dog him if he didn’t do something.

He fished his pockets and brought out two quarters.

“Here. That’s all I’ve got on me.”

The old man took the coins, stared at them pinched between his stubby fingers.

“And you know, you’d probably do better for yourself if you cleaned up.”

“Is that right?”

“Get rid of that mess on your face, let people see your smile.” Hammond elevated his chin, pulling the corners of his mouth wide.

“I should get rid of what now?”

“That. The beard. Looks like a rat in a rain storm. It can’t be healthy.”

The old man looked up and down the street, and Hammond felt his heartbeat pick up. He’d gone too far, offended the old man and now he was about to be shanked or shivved in broad daylight.

“I’m sorry.” Hammond’s voice dropped to a tiny peep. “Look, I didn’t mean anything, you look fine. Forget I said anything.”

“Ehh, well.” Pulling on his beard, the old man considered Hammond. “Tell me this,” he said, stroking his beard like a wise old man deep in thought. “How are you supposed to work in there with no shoes on?”

Hammond looked at his socks, where he expected his shoes to be. He couldn’t imagine that he’d forgotten them. But then again, in all the flurry of starting the new job, he’d obviously overlooked them. Odd, but, apparently possible.

“It’s nothing. I can pick some up inside once they let me in.” Hammond rapped his keys on the glass door, looking into the dimly lit store, wondering if the night watch had seen him outside yet. Surely they’d come let him in soon enough.

The old man chuckled, stroking his beard again. “How are they going to let you in when you’ve got your dog with you, hmm?”

Hammond lifted the small terrier in his arms. “Who, Cricket? I—that probably—there’s…” he wasn’t sure why he’d brought his pet with him into work. It made no sense, none at all. He checked through the glass doors again. The dog squirmed in his arms, so Hammond set him back into the shopping cart that he’d been pushing along the sidewalk.

The old man held out the two coins. “Looks like you could use these, for you and your dog.”

Taking the coins from the old man, Hammond touched two fingers to his forehead in a salute. “Thank you sir, any little bit helps.” He put the coins into his army coat, hearing them clink alongside the other coins he’d collected that morning.

His face itched. His wiry beard always poked him in his face in the mornings. He tugged at it, watching as the elderly man in a three piece crossed the street.

Moral: Never Mock a Wizards Beard

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


In.
Going for the obvious.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Hawklad posted:

Thunderome 267 Results!

Thanks to everyone who submitted stories this week!
I wish I'd've finished mine now.

Hawklad posted:

There are no DMs this week
Yeaaaaaahhhhhhhh. Well. I chickened out. yw.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Hey I've sucked at submitting, so, can I judge instead*? I'm working on my writing, and reading all the other submissions is definitely inspiration to do more writing.

IF y'all still need a third judge.

if not, fine, I'm in for whatever this Magic Card Trick thing is.

Either or.

* I've judged before - Muffin and Sebmojo can vouch for me, OR can point out I sucked at judging.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Mag7 please report to IRC when available.
Can you PM me the IRC access stuff? I have no idea if I ever did the IRC thing before. But I'm ready to read and judge some work.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


sebmojo posted:

Hammond’s new clothes, Magnificent 7

Aw, poo poo this is banging. Tight little opener, I can see his prissy little face in two lines, and the details of avoiding the puddles are really well chosen. There’s a simple and believable problem for him to struggle with, the hobo is nicely drawn, and their interaction is really good - I’ve read dozens of stories where the protagonist would be much more of an rear end in a top hat but he’s just a regular rear end in a top hat and it works. The turnabout is cleverly and subtly delivered, and it felt overall like a story I’ve read before but in a good way, like an interesting remix of cliched elements in a way that made them new again. Would have been comfortable pushing this for an hm, nice work!
Oh snap thanks for the crit!

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER




COME loving ON WINNER OF A WEEKLY WRITING CONTEST.


6.

I'm in

magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 05:50 on Sep 26, 2017

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


anime was right posted:

i didnt use capitalization when i won deal with it wordnerd
I only have three grammar pet peeves:
- Ect.
- Asterick.
- Your/Yer/You're/Your'n/Urine

Jay W. Friks posted:

^ TDOME WINNER
Hey somebody get this guy a Tdome Winner Avatar. Something with 50s sci-fi coolness. A laser gun or something. Or is that on me? Because I'll do it.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Sleep Song Somniloquy
- 1720 words. No Flash Rule.


And strange moons circle through the skies.

“Go on,” he whispered.

“God! You scared me!” I jolted awake, gasping at Uncle Franks’s coarse voice so close to my ear. In the dimness of the room, I could see the old man leaning over me, still in his jacket and shirt buttoned up to his collar.

“It’s late,” I said. “Is everything okay?” I rubbed my eyes, reaching for the clock. 4 A.M. I took a deep breath and caught the exotic aroma of incense from last night’s wake.

“Everything’s fine Linus. You were talking in your sleep, reciting something.” He glanced down at the notepad in his hand.

“Did I wake you?” I sat up and took a sip of tea, now cold.

“Not too loud, no.” He clicked a pen and tucked it into his coat pocket. “I was passing by and heard you call out. What were you dreaming?”

“I’m not sure. I…” I looked at the old man as if he was privy to my dream.

After a moment, it came to me and my voice trembled. “I remember. Aunt Mildred was singing like she did when I was little.” I wiped a tear from my face.

Uncle Frank awkwardly smiled, struggling to hide his own emotions. “I miss her too Linus. So much.”

Long ago, we might’ve hugged at a moment like this. But we were both much older now and he wasn’t one for any display of emotion. He patted my shoulder. “We’ve got a big day tomorrow, err—” he glanced at the clock. “Later today.”

He stood up, tucking the notepad into his jacket. “Try to get some sleep before we get ready for the funeral.” Uncle Frank shuffled out of the parlor, pulling the door behind him.

###

Aunt Mildred was a tiny, frail woman for as long as I could remember.

My parents were missionaries, and when they would go abroad I lived with her. When I was five, they never returned from a mission to South America, and despite Aunt Mildred actually being my father’s aunt, she raised me like her own. When I was ten, she married Uncle Frank, a professor at the college where she had worked as a librarian. Our home was filled with old books and bizarre statues from cultures, either long forgotten or recently discovered.

I moved out after graduation, and then returned a week ago when doctors sent her home saying there was nothing else they could do.

For the most part, the house was unchanged since I’d left decades earlier, save for a few more photos. She wasn’t in too much pain those last days. To keep her mind occupied, the three of us spoke at length of my childhood.

###

The service was pleasant enough. The minister spoke of a better place and a mansion with many rooms. The fact that he spoke so highly of her, despite having never met her, annoyed both Uncle Frank and me. But the rest of the service was nice enough.

Most of the elderly funeral attendees wore dark suits and dresses, as old as dirt. During the service, I was surrounded by the smell of cedar chests and mothballs, and I worried that some of the other pallbearers might stumble while carrying her casket.

After the service I sat on a concrete bench a short ways from her tomb, watching the attendees shamble back to their cars, heads dipped, shoulders hunched, like penguins marching against frozen polar winds.

It was then that I noticed small group of people who’d attended the funeral in brightly colored dresses and topcoats. Old people not dressed for a funeral, but rather a birthday party or a carnival. Each one gave my uncle a somber handshake and some brief words of encouragement. Even from where I was sitting, I could see flashy bangles and necklaces, and several of the men had hoops in their ears. Their mournful behavior went completely against such festive attire.

In the car on the way back to the apartment I asked Uncle Frank, “Who were those people at the funeral? The ones in the loud colors?”

“Associates of hers from a time long before you or I came along.” He leaned in close. "Actors," he whispered, in the same tone one might say cancer or creditor.

He blew his nose and then folded the kerchief. “They’ve asked to join us for dinner tonight. Said they want to discuss a matter of some urgency.”

###

I dried the dishes from lunch, wiped the counter a third time and then reorganized the refrigerator’s overflowing casserole dishes. I was always comfortable around Aunt Mildred and Uncle Frank, but now in the quiet apartment, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. They’d always had things to talk about, there was always a certain cheer and chatter in the place.

Uncle Frank was in the library seated in his maroon overstuffed chair. In the past, he’d always sat there, reading any one of his leather-bound tomes, pages cracked and yellowing. But on this occasion, he stared blankly at the bookshelves that line the walls. His face, slack and empty, matched the exhaustion I felt.

“Do you need anything else? If not, I’ll go lay down.”

After a thick hacking cough Uncle Frank said, “That’s fine, thank you boy.” He dabbed a kerchief at each eye. I’d never seen him upset. Of course, the loss of a lifelong partner was apt to make someone understandably upset, nonetheless, it was unsettling to see him like that.

“I’m not sure what I’ll do without her,” he said.

I couldn’t think of anything to say. Never before had he said anything so emotionally bare. He was always just Uncle Frank. And now, seeing him like this — weak and defeated — I found myself at a loss.

After remaining at the door a moment longer, I went into the parlor and unfolded the sofa bed with its creaking hinges and screaming springs. The mattress, so thin it barely deserved the name, was covered by a yellow quilt my aunt always brought out when I visited. The thought of her frail hands straightening out the wrinkles made my heart ache and my eyes burn.

Curled up under the quilt, I fell asleep.

###

The shadows lengthen. The twin suns sink behind the lake.

“… and then what?”

How late had I been asleep?

“Uncle Frank?” I cleared my throat. “What time is it?”

He coughed. “What’s that?” His pen clicked. “It’s around seven. You interested in some supper?”

Uncle Frank was seated in a tall wooden chair. Normally the chair creaked whenever anybody moved it, let alone sat in it. However, the chair was tucked right up to the sofa bed and I hadn’t heard it.

“Everything all right?” I said.

“You were dreaming again, reciting something again.” He closed the tiny notebook and tucked it into his coat. “I wrote some of it down. Fascinating.” He saw my expression and forced a laugh. “When I say it out loud, I suppose it sounds a little unsettling. I hope you don’t mind.” When I didn’t immediately reply he said, “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”

He rose, the chair creaking like it always did, and pushed it back under the writing desk in the corner.

Still groggy from the nap, I struggled to find the right words. Mindful that he’d just lost his wife. I supposed he’s allowed to act a little odd, all things considered. I chose not to say that I thought it was creepy as hell, and instead I asked, “Did I say anything worth writing down?”

Uncle Frank was at the door. “Come on into the kitchen. The guests will be here soon. Might as well heat up another casserole.”

###

They were looking for a book. That’s what the oldest of the three said.

“She probably kept it hidden. Although, given the size of your library, it could be in plain sight.” His long index finger poked the divot in his chin. The man, as tall as a flagpole, tilted at the hips towards the shelves, scanning each title.

Uncle Frank had a tray with five teacups and a kettle. “We’ve got so many old books. Do you remember the title?”

“The King In Yellow,” the woman said.

There were three of them, the stilt-like old man scanning the books now, the old woman in a long flowing yellow and orange gown, and a younger man in a tight suit, wearing a fez. He had his own notepad and pen, though he’d taken no notes since they walked in.

“Never heard of it.” Uncle Frank said. “We’ve had these books here forever, and while I might not recite every title by heart, I’d know if it you said it. What’s it about?”

“It was a play.”

“Never heard of it,” my uncle repeated.

“I doubt you would’ve.” The flagpole said. “It’s only been performed once, by our, eh, group. And there was only one copy. Your wife, Mildred, she was tasked with keeping safe.”

“Safe?”

The man in the fez said “It’s a rather unpopular text. Those who heard it weren’t the same. They lost something in their… you know…” He tapped his forehead.

“You performed it.” I said to the woman. “You seem all right.”

“Cotton. Stuffed in our ears.” The flagpole said. “We learned our lines independent from each other.”

“How did you study the lines without going mad?”

“We learned the lines in reverse.”

Uncle Frank’s eyes darted to mine for a moment but he said nothing.

###

For the first time since Aunt Mildred’s death, I awoke without Uncle Frank beside me, pen and paper in hand. Sunlight came through the closed blinds. It was well into the morning.

“Uncle Frank?”

He didn’t answer.

I found him lifeless in his chair, pad and paper on the floor.

At some point in the evening while talking in my sleep, I must’ve completed reciting the rhyme I’d forgotten as a child. Upon the completion, and probably recalling what the acting troupe had told him, my great uncle came into the library and read his notes in reverse. He went mad and swallowed his tongue.

My hands trembled, calling the hospital.

“He’s with you now, Aunt Mildred. He’s with you now.”

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I'm waffling on this one, but OKAY FINE. I'm in!

YEAH! ZING!

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I giggled. I'm an adult.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Exmond posted:

Magnificent7
Advice:
Look up parenthetical commas.

"The fact that he spoke so highly of her, despite having never met her, annoyed both Uncle Frank and me."
VERSUS
"The fact that he spoke so highly of her despite having never met her annoyed both Uncle Frank and me."

The top one makes frank and protagonist sound like a jerk. They hate the fact that the priest spoke highly of Aunt Mildrew!
The second sentence makes gives them a reason why they dislike the priest speaking highly of Aunt Mildrew.

I hate commas.

EDIT:
I hate my love of commas.
Thanks for the crit!

magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 14:54 on Oct 2, 2017

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I appreciate all the crits I just wanted to point out you don't get it see I

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Sorry I'm out this weekend - excuses and poo poo. If I can, I'll late-sub tomorrow.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


It Could End Any Day Now
1455 words, 18 hours late.


Christy always doubted Henry’s love for her, and not just because he was bisexual. But that sure as poo poo didn’t help. She could lose him to anybody, not just some younger prettier girl. Was that a bad way to think of it? Didn’t know didn’t care.

But that worry was always top of mind, consuming any mental downtime. So when she backed over Henry’s stupid little dog, she was both panicked and not surprised in the least. Of course she’d hit the stupid mutt. The relationship was doomed from the start, why not end it in the worst possible way?

“I—I was backing out and I think Perry was laying down in the driveway.” She held Perry in her arms, his black nose poking through the dirty brown curls. “I never heard a thump, but soon as I saw him I knew something was wrong.”

Henry closed his laptop and came over to take Perry from her, delicately. He looked into the dog’s eyes, made a “tsk tsk” sound, then checked the dog’s back and then his legs. “He doesn’t seem to have any broken bones, you think maybe he just got scared?”

“I don’t know Henry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t see him when I was backing up. He started crying, must’ve been while I was rolling…”she trailed off, trying to find any words better than, ‘while I was rolling over him.’

The dog whimpered, but wasn’t crying nearly as loud as he’d been in the driveway.

“Let’s get him to the vet, they’ll know what to do.” Henry handed Perry back to her. “I’ll get his travel box and the keys.”

“You don’t think I should hold him while you drive? He could bounce around in the box.”

“Okay. I think my keys are in the bedroom,” Henry said.

“I’ve got mine right here in my hands. Please hurry. God I’m so sorry.” She didn’t want him to see her crying. He was keeping it together far better than she’d expected and she was trying to match his level of emotion. Maybe this wouldn’t end the relationship, maybe the dog would pull through and he wouldn’t blame her for killing his grandmother’s dog, a dog that he just got.

In the car, Perry started to whine again, starting within his chest but within minutes it was a series of pained barks. Henry didn’t seem to be affected by the sound, but then again Henry was a strong man. He always kept his emotions to himself, maybe it was a European thing. Maybe that’s what attracted Christy to him in the first place.

“You’re taking him to the animal hospital around the corner right?” She asked as Henry passed it.

“They’ll charge an arm and a leg. I’m taking him to our vet, he’ll know what to do.” Henry said this the way a call-in service desk might comment as they’re transferring you to another useless department.

Perry’s cries died down and for a moment Christy thought the dog passed out. She was holding him as gently as she could, trying to absorb the curves and dips in the road. She checked his breathing, and his tiny chest was still puffing in and out, his muzzle resting over her heart.

She relaxed her hold on him, and noticed a tiny bit of blood on her right sleeve coming from his back legs perhaps? Henry was focused on the road, he hadn’t seen it and she didn’t want to upset him further, so she went back to hugging the dog as gently as possible, praying Henry wouldn’t notice.

Jesus why did she have to run over the dog?

The dog whimpered and barked again.

“I’m so sorry baby,” she said to Perry.

“It’s all right Christy,” Henry said. “I promise I’m not mad at you.”

But of course, she thought, anybody would say that in a situation like this.

By the time the vet took Perry from her, the poor dog was crying nonstop.

She stood in the waiting room, hugging herself while Henry followed the vet into the back room.

She waited. Worried.

She paced. She craned her neck to see beyond the front desk, now vacant, but couldn’t see where they’d gone, couldn’t hear any sounds beyond the radio playing bland pop.

She started to mentally list the things she’d have to recover from the house when he came out and told her it was over. The dog would die and while he wouldn’t exactly blame her, he probably wouldn’t be able to look at her without seeing his poor grandmother’s dog, dead in the vet’s office. Luckily, her old roommate hadn’t found a replacement yet. While she’d only been living at Henry’s for the past couple of months, they’d dated for six. It seemed to be going well but she’d known it wouldn’t last.

She was sure however that it would’ve been something — or someone — else that ended it, not the drat dog.

Henry came out, hands covered in blood.

“Why don’t you go on home,” He said. “I’ll be here awhile.”

She nodded. “Is he okay? Did I…” she couldn’t bring herself to say the words ‘kill him?’ so she just trailed off.

He shook his head. “You didn’t do anything, Christy. I promise”

“But the car? I’m positive I rolled over him?”

“Not at all. It was his tummy. Look go on home, I’ll be there once I’ve settled up here.”

The vet came out smiling. In his gloved hand, between thumb and forefinger was a diamond. “You didn’t hurt him at all. He started making GBS threads the diamonds.”

“He what?” she said.

To the vet, Henry said something in French that she didn’t catch.

“Go on home. I’ll see you soon.”

The vet glanced at Henry, then her. “She doesn’t know about this? Why the hell did you bring her here?”

She looked between the vet and Henry. “What’d you say? What do you mean by making GBS threads diamonds?”

Henry squeezed her shoulder. “It’s nothing. I’ll explain on the way home. Please go wait in the car.”



He would dump her on the way home. It was obvious. She’d hit the dog, and then she’d heard something she wasn’t supposed to, hell she didn’t even know what, but the dead quiet in the car was cutting her nerves worse than Perry’s cries on the way there.

She finally broke the silence.

“making GBS threads diamonds?” She asked.

He put his hand on her knee, took a deep breath and released it.

“I told you I’m in the import business, right. I import diamonds,” he said.

“And what, Perry ate one?”

“No it’s err, it’s more complicated than that.”

“You know what?” She said. “It’s none of my business. Just let it go. I’m sorry I asked.”

“Look, Christy.” He said, not taking his eyes from the road. “We’ve been together for a while. You trust me right?”

“Of course I do,” she said, wondering if she ever did.

“This is what I do. Diamonds. It doesn’t always happen like this, with… problems.”

They pulled into the driveway of his house, but he didn’t get out, and neither did she.

“The diamonds are from the Congo. They’re shipped to Antwerp. And then I import them here.” After a few seconds, he said “In dogs. We sew them into dogs. I wasn’t able to get this one to the vet before the package ruptured.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Have you ever heard of blood diamonds?”

“The movie? With Leo DiCaprio?”

He closed his eyes, massaged his temples. She could tell he was struggling to find the words but none of it made sense to her.

“Why the hell are you telling me any of this? You know what? I don’t want to know. I thought the dog was your grandmother’s.”

“Perry IS my grandmothers.” He gripped the steering wheel. “Was. My grandmother receives the diamonds, packages them and sews them into the dogs. It’s horrible, but look. If we’re going to stay together I think it’s better that you know what I do.”

“It’s absolutely horr— wait you said ‘stay together’? So, you’re not mad at me?”

“What? Why would I be mad? And even if I was, that doesn’t mean it’s over. You’ve got to stop thinking like that. I’m not your dad. Not every man out there is always looking to dump you.”

That stung.

“You’re bringing illegal diamonds into the country and you’re telling me what’s wrong with me?”

He sighed. “I really don’t think that’s the issue right now.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You’re probably right.”

He was definitely probably going to dump her next week, once everything blew over.

She opened the door. “So, how many diamonds?”

HERE'S WHAT I AM ASSUMING: PEOPLE KNOW WHAT BLOOD DIAMONDS ARE. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_diamond

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Oh and I have no loving clue about this prompt but I am in.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Sad I failed to submit this week, proud my godawful writing made it into the review.

Edit: you know... when I hear it out loud, it's really godawful. Wow.

magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 15:19 on Oct 16, 2017

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Promptus?

Did I miss it in here?

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Look dammit I can't fail to write another flash fiction piece if you haven't given me the prompt.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


In.

But. Just to be clear. Don't MOST STORIES include where something bad happens and then something good, or vice versa?

me baby. Toxx me all night long.

Because life is short and I write poo poo.

magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 23:01 on Oct 16, 2017

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


sebmojo posted:

what was that you want a flash rule ah well if I must your amusement park is haunted by the ghosts of bad decisions
I look forward to hearing some poor sap reading what will surely be my greatest tale yet.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Darlene. 1226 Words.

I suppose I’ll always be drawn to the carny life like a cat to a basket weaver.

After working the pumps at the Esso station for a few months over the summer, my old boss Cheeser welcomed me back to the carnival. I even got my old job back doing litter collection.

I roamed the park with my spike and my canvas sack. Sure, it wasn’t horse science but that didn’t bother me much. I loved being back; the smell of roasting peanuts and fried snickers, the teenagers sneaking a kiss or a grope when they thought no one was watching. Even grownups shook off the concrete and let go a little; you’d see ‘em crab-walking out the Tunnel Of Love all flushed and crooked in the pants.

That’s where I first saw Darlene, my rose-scented floater.

She floated — worked a different post every night — selling peanuts and crackerjack some nights, other nights taking tickets near the front gate.

That first night I saw her she was a flower girl making huge paper roses; two for a dollar. Her brilliant red hair and green eyes flickering beneath the gaslights like a sequin scarf.

She waved me over and we talked a little. And then every night after that I spent more time spiking litter around her post no matter where she was, even when she took tickets at the dead mermaid booth.

Our fourth night together she surprised me with a kiss. I was between the Scootsy Daisy and the Oceans of Wonder collecting the empty crab leg wrappers when she appeared out of nowhere. She took my face in her hands and kissed me like I was the prince of King-town. Time stood still those few seconds her lips met mine, and it was drat-near impossible to keep a grin off my face the next few days. A dream like her, a lady who could easily win second or third at a beauty contest, stealing a kiss from the likes of me, an old dried-up sardine.

I was happy. And Darlene was happy too. She’d light up whenever I came by, laughing at even my stupidest jokes.

Every now and then I’d ask her where she came from, how come I never seen her before, but she’d always steal a kiss and say “that’s for quarters and questions!”

***

“There’s a reason you ain’t noticed Darlene before,” Cheeser said one night as I returned my spike and sack.

He worked the supply shed; a crowded little trailer with one of those split doors where the top half opened and the bottom half stayed shut. Light from a bare bulb spilled out over his shoulders as we stood there jawing.

“Of course there’s a reason I never seen her,” I said. “She’s new is all.” I lit a half-smoked cigarette I’d found over by the ponies.

“That ain’t it,” he said, shaking his head all slow like. “You’ve been here five years now. I knew Darlene from, I’d say…” he tugged his plumb-fat chin with two pudgy fingers. “I knew her from fifteen years ago at least.” If he had eyes, I’m sure they’d have been all cobbley like he’s sitting on a birthday cake.

“Wasn’t her.” I said. “She couldn’t have been more than five or six back then.”

“Oh it’s her all right. Red hair, pouty lips? Green eyes, deep as a lake?”

“You just described half the women around here,” I said.

“Hips that move like a pair of drunk cats on a see-saw?”

I smiled. “That's Darlene all right. But there ain’t no way she was like that fifteen years ago; the girl’s only twenty at best.”

He tapped his cigar at me like he was conducting a one-note symphony. “You’re being haunted Jake. She’s been floating around here for years. Ever since the fire of ‘28.”

I was hand slapped. I’d heard of that fire. It killed upwards of forty people, carnies and cattle alike. I never heard mention of any names though, and I never asked. Carnies are a tight bunch and you don’t go poking a sack of hungry toads if you can avoid it.

“She died next to the duck pond, burnt to a crisp," He said. "That’s alls I’m telling you.” His voice quivered and he mopped his nose with a kerchief. “You'd best watch out. Now get on. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.”

***

I spied on Darlene the next afternoon while I spiked popcorn and paper cups. She was floating outside the Cotton Candy Museum selling flowers that nobody took, flowers that nobody noticed at all. How could anyone pass without admiring her beauty? I could barely tear my eyes away, and I was I peeking from between fence slats.

When she waved at me I went like a fruit fly to dog food. Her smile was beautiful, though somewhat messier than I recalled. Tiny flecks of green between her teeth. Lunch perhaps? Or moss? Her eyes flickered like rubies, or recalling what Cheeser told me, maybe flickered like submerged tree roots in a pond.

If she was a ghost, I suppose I should’ve been terrified, looking into her bottomless green eyes, holding her clammy hands.

But here’s the thing; I wasn’t. Her kisses put a blanket over any fears I should’ve had.

“You know what?” I said, hugging her. “I don’t care if you are a ghost. Don’t matter a whit.”

She pushed away from me.

“What’s this, you think I’m a ghost?” She said. “Where’d you hear such nonsense?”

“Cheeser,” I said, spiking the grass a couple times. “He told me you died in the fire. Says you’re a ghost. But you know what Darlene Chesterfield? I don’t care.” I held her hand in mine, and noticed the crescents of dirt beneath her fingernails.

“Cheeser?” Her voice caught. “You talked to Cheeser?” Her smile faltered. “Quit playing now Jake, it’s not funny. You know he’s been dead six months. Drowned in the ocean over the summer.”

I shook my head. “I’ve worked for Cheeser for years.” My heart sputtered in my chest. “I saw him last night and he ain’t dead. How would you know Cheeser anyhow?”

Cheeser? James Chesterfield? He was my uncle.” She wiped at her cheek. “I came to town for his funeral last month. Took a job here after that.”

“Nobody told me he was…” I trailed off. None of it made sense. “You're saying he drowned?”

“Tried to go swimming in the ocean but the idiot can’t swim.”

“Doesn’t make sense.” I said.

“Oh yeah? He told you I drowned in a pond fire? What the hell is a pond fire?”

I finally calmed her down with mouthfuls of apologies.

***

Of course Cheeser denied everything the next day. “She says I’m the one’s a ghost? What a laugh!”

***

Each went on insisting the other was a spirit, and neither looked entirely of this realm if you catch my pitch; her with her filthy nails and green teeth, him with his eye sockets as empty as a bone-dry bird bath.

In the end, I chose to go on pretending like both was as real as myself. Wasn’t no point jeopardizing a steady job nor a steady girlfriend.

==

El Toxxed Prompto
YOUR PARK IS HAUNTED BY THE GHOSTS OF BAD DECISIONS

  • Locked thread