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Exmond
May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

Oh poo poo, I guess I never actually said this, thanks for the reminder apophenium.

Thank you Thunderdomers for getting me into writing.  I truly have enjoyed my time writing and I wouldn't have written if you hadn't been there.  We don't get along sometimes, I don't really understand kayfabe or people in general, and a lot of the times I don't understand you and get anxious.  Despite all that I  look upon my past here with fondness.

I've made some great friendships here and found the magic of writing thanks to everyone here.  The magic of creating a story and watching people have fun with what you have written.  I wouldn't have continued writing if it wasn't for that.

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The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning






Thank you to Lead out in Cuffs for a full box of maple-y goodness, a handmade Shibori-est Rhino wall hanging (neat!) and donation to a rhino wildlife fund (which I should also look into!). My stomach will cherish these other than the wall hanging and the tea towel) (and the magnet too):



Lead out in cuffs
Sep 18, 2012

"That's right. We've evolved."

"I can see that. Cool mutations."



The Saddest Rhino posted:

Thank you to Lead out in Cuffs for a full box of maple-y goodness, a handmade Shibori-est Rhino wall hanging (neat!) and donation to a rhino wildlife fund (which I should also look into!). My stomach will cherish these other than the wall hanging and the tea towel) (and the magnet too):





Yay! I've been stressing so much about this making it, between the postal strike here and the international shipping. Hope you enjoy it all!

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


Antivehicular posted:

As someone who is deeply Afeared of submitting anything and could probably just use a kick in the rear end, I'm seconding this one.

Also, not to derail some good chat, but I do have to post about my lovely TD Secret Santa gift:



From New Zealand, with charming kiwi packaging!



Inside is an assortment of treasures, captured imperfectly by my crappy phone camera: pterodactyl socks, some neat pins, a book, New Zealand chocolate, and a very sweet card. Thank you so much, Anomalous Blowout!

I missed this post but yaaaay I am so glad it got to you safely. I hope your feets are toasty and the chocolate is delicious and the pins add a little goth mystique to your everyday.

I was so happy to get you as a Santee!

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


In, with Portugal Is Not A Small Country.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME


SITTINGICHI BRAWL ENTRY

sebmojo posted:

Yoru Here Brawl

This is exactly 1000 words of a couple breaking up, but they are happier at the end than they are at the start.

Yoruichi your flash rule is "inflatable car"

Sh, your flash rule is "dogs that speak"

Due 29 dec 2359 pst



A Walk Around the Block
1000 words

Oliver is missing.

I power off my ancient-rear end Samsung phone, open its casing, yank out the battery, wait ten seconds, then put the whole thing back together again. Oliver says it helps, but only sometimes.

‘Only sometimes’ is enough.

When he’s gone longer than an hour or two, my hands start working of their own accord: disassembling and reassembling, my fingers describing a silent prayer with every familiar movement.

Today is a ‘sometimes’ day. The third time I reassemble the phone, Oliver is there as soon as it boots up. His chat icon—a picture of our deceased golden retriever, Boris—appears in the bottom left of the homescreen.

*There* you are, he sends through the app.

I could say the same thing to you! I force a smile at the phone’s camera.

It was all swirling grey fog on this side, he sends. I kept seeing things—darker spots, like shadows in the grey. I thought maybe I’d finally wound up in hell.

You are not going to hell, I send, then add an emoji with an extremely no-nonsense expression to underscore my point.

As long as I can still talk to you, I know I’m not damned yet.

My teeth clench tightly enough to creak in their sockets. I want to cut open reality, dissect it until I find whichever purgatorial pocket contains my dead boyfriend’s soul, and get him the gently caress back. Or maybe I want to go back in time and ignore that initial message; any sane person would’ve dismissed it as a scam or a cruel prank, but I couldn’t ignore the profile picture.

The photo of Boris was the very last one I’d taken before euthanasia. On the car ride to the veterinarian's office, he’d raised his head once—just once—and yawned one last big aroo. I snapped the picture while Oliver drove, both of us thinking the old dog’s death was the worst thing that could happen to us.

That last photo only existed on my phone. I’d never shared it to social media; the emotions in that moment belonged to Oliver and I. Oliver knew it was the only thing that would get my attention after he died, and he was right.

.

Work is total garbage today, I send. When I’m at the office, it’s easy to pretend Oliver is at home, absently replying to me while he folds towels or whatever.

His reply is instant. What’s going on?

Oh, well you know how I told you about my supervisor…

I type out a lengthy scenario, and for a moment i’m totally absorbed in the sweet banality of venting trite bullshit to my boyfriend.

...like, it’s totally first world problems, but that poo poo still wears me down, you know? I say in conclusion.

Oliver?

OLIVER?


Oliver responds as I’m peeling off the phone’s protective outer case. Sorry, things just got a bit fuzzy. I’m here.

He continues when I don’t reply: Just think of it like, sometimes I go out of cell signal range. That’s normal, right? Even when I was alive, you couldn’t see me every second of every day.

Thatwsa diferent. I mash the words out with my thumbs. Back then i knew u would be back not fade out into some fuckass purgatory. I sound like an idiot high schooler but my hands are shaking from anger and emotional exhaustion.

Except you didn’t ‘know’ I’d be back, he says, and even though he’s a whole reality away, I can hear the gentle inflections of his voice. Because one day, I walked out the door and didn’t come back.

Office life hums on around me to the tune of the over-enthusiastic air conditioner; my own grey pocket universe with its grey carpets and grey formica desks and grey people. I bite my knuckle hard enough to draw out the tang of blood so I don’t start keening.

Anyway, he sends, it’s...getting better on this side. I’ve found my way through purgatory.

Something like liquid nitrogen shoots through my veins at those words. Oliver, what does that mean?

You have to understand, Oliver says, no one has done what we’re doing right now. Maybe I love you more than anyone has ever loved another person. Maybe I’m too attached to life among the living. No one can explain why we’re able to talk like this.

Just duckign say what your going to say. I can feel him softening the blow, coating poison in powdered sugar.

I made it to the other side. The grey place is just transitional. But where I am now, it’s—it’s everything. It’s beyond words. It’s everything at once, and it’s all wonderful.

I can’t hold the agony in anymore. Stuffing the phone into the pocket of my trousers, I speedwalk to the restroom, which is blessedly empty. I sit on the tiled floor with my knees pulled up to my chest, back to the wall, body shuddering, but now that I’m alone I can’t make the tears come.

I’ve met someone, Oliver says.

I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

She thinks it’s best that I...let you live your life. Without me haunting you.

I should just loving die, my thumbs type of their own accord.

You shouldn’t, and you won’t, Oliver says with that distant, palpable gentleness.

You don’t know that.

It takes Oliver a long time to compose his next message. I do know. Because the person I met is...she’s you. You and I were never apart. We have always been here, in this place, together. Boris is here, too! Life—it’s just a walk around the block. You’ll see.

I can’t.

Will I suffer very much before I see you again? Did she...I….tell you?

A bit, Oliver admits. But it’ll make your homecoming that much sweeter, when it’s your time. Trust me.

Is this goodbye? I ask.

No, Oliver says, it’s ‘see you later’.

The tears finally come, but I smile into the camera one last time.

See you later.

Maybe I can.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Also brawl entry

Inflated Dreams
1000 words


The inflatable car flomped over the apex of an upside-down armchair. It was made of thick, clear plastic, painted to look like a blue Chevrolet pick-up truck. The big grin under its headlamp eyes was half rubbed off, like the vanishing Cheshire Cat. Fat raindrops splatted off the car’s flaccid windscreen. From up here it could just catch a tantalising glimpse of the access road and the distant town over the dump’s perimeter fence.

Underneath the armchair, now protected from the rain by the car’s spread-out body, was the doll’s home. She had lived in the dump a long time, and her once bright-red polka dot dress was faded and frayed. But the interior of her cave glittered even in the grey, overcast light. Every inch of the armchair’s threadbare fabric was covered with found treasures; salvaged fragments of broken mirror, pictures of the ocean torn from glossy magazines, glass beads from unwanted jewellery. Near the back, where one armrest sunk into the dirt, was a neatly made bed fashioned from a mouldy cushion and a stained woman’s blouse. Delicate clay sculptures crowded the rest of the space. There was even one of a pick-up truck with a tiny figure riding in the back. The inflatable car had been more touched than it had words to express when the doll had given it the little clay model.

The doll rescued the inflatable car on the day it was dumped. She ran towards its calls for help as fast as she could manage on her short, plastic legs. It was pinned under the wheel-less axle of an old pram. The car undulated frantically and the rumble of an approaching bulldozer shook the ground. The doll tried pulling the car out by its nozzle but it cried out for her to stop before it ripped. A pile of takeaway containers and rotting noodles clattered down around them, dislodged by the approaching bulldozer, and the car yelled at the doll to run. But she didn’t; she heaved at the pram’s axle and little by little the car slithered free. They rolled away together, the car protectively cocooning the doll, just in time to avoid being buried under an avalanche of fresh trash.

The doll took the inflatable car home to her quiet corner of the dump. The seagulls rarely bothered her there. The inflatable car was amazed by her sculptures. In the reflected light from the many hanging mirrors the car thought the figurines looked like they were dancing. The car owed the doll its life, but it loved her for so much more than that. It loved her for the way she looked at the world, the way she saw beauty everywhere. She blushed whenever it told her so.

Heavy grey clouds roiled above the dump and the pouring rain formed a stream in the drainage ditch below the doll’s house. From its rooftop perch the inflatable car watched the stream grow from a trickle to a rushing current. It stared at the spot where the water was gouging a deep channel under the dump’s perimeter fence. A sudden idea, a sense of possibility and potential adventure, thrummed through its enervated body.

The car wriggled forward and flopped its plastic eyes over the edge of the armchair. The world looked crinkled.

“Doll?” it called.

The doll poked her head out and looked up.

The inflatable car hesitated. After so many years in a dark, mildewy basement, it wasn’t even sure if it was still possible. And the doll was so small; was it fair to ask it of her? The rain hissed against the trash-laced mud. The car looked out over the dismal mounds of the broken and the discarded, and then back to the gap where the water gushed into the unknown.

“Would you inflate me?” the car said at last.

Raindrops dripped into the doll’s wiry hair. “But, then you wouldn’t fit in the house,” she said.

“Think of all the places we could go!” The car rippled itself off the armchair and flopped into a puddle beside the doll. “You can ride in my tray! Let’s follow the stream all the way to the sea!”

The doll looked down at the inflatable car, at its flat tyres and empty, crumpled body. The car had its eyes fixed on its watery highway. It oscillated with excitement, splashing the doll’s legs with muddy water.

“Hold still,” she said. The doll put her rosebud mouth to the car’s nozzle and squeezed her rubbery cheeks with both arms as hard as she could. Her tufts of hair stood on end and a squeaking jet of air rushed out the tiny hole between her painted lips. She let her cheeks go and her head expanded back to its normal round shape.

The inflatable car had forgotten how good it felt to have air flowing between its folds. It moaned with happiness. It took the doll a long time but bit by bit the car took shape. Its heart felt lighter than it had done in years and the faded grin over its bumper stretched wider than ever.

By the time the doll, her arms exhausted and her head aching, replaced the stopper on the car’s nozzle the heavy rain had reduced to drizzle.

“Quick, let’s go before the stream dries up!” said the car, bouncing on its fully-inflated tyres.

The doll laughed; she had never seen the car so happy. She looked around her peaceful home. The clay was a perfect consistency here, and she didn’t have to worry about seagulls.

“I’ll miss you,” she said.

Too late the car realised what was happening, and before it could argue the doll shoved it onto the water.

The current grabbed the car’s wheels and hurled it towards the fence. “I’ll never forget you!” it yelled.

“Good luck!” the doll yelled back. She ran after the car, waving with all her might, and the rushing water sped the inflatable car under the fence and into the world beyond.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



These are both definitely stories and appear to mostly meet the prompt and flash rules.

Judging from me and kaishai will occur presently.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Just a bit more than three hours to get in for the week, everyone.

Both co-judge spots are also still open.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

In with Thus Men Go Safely.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Thranguy posted:

Just a bit more than three hours to get in for the week, everyone.

Both co-judge spots are also still open.

sure I'll judge

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


Thranguy posted:

Just a bit more than three hours to get in for the week, everyone.

Both co-judge spots are also still open.

If you still need a judge I’ll jump on it.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Oh hey! I'm down in zqn on the 6th, want to catch up?

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


sebmojo posted:

Oh hey! I’m down in zqn on the 6th, want to catch up?

Do you like beeeer? I have some buddies who just opened a brewery in town and it is

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Beer, eh. Can't say I've heard of it but I am willing to give it the old 'college try'

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Signups are closed, write words.

Fuubi
Jan 18, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Sitting Here posted:


-hassle people who have lapsed. You know who you are. Don't flake off like so much dead skin, we need you yes YOU to write stories.


Aw, chucks. That sounds like me... OK, I'll jump in on the next prompt that catches my fancy. I'm only third biggest loser anyway.

As for my five cents... I like the idea of having extra activities, and more in-depth discussions of the stories, but in a separate thread. Keep Td as clutter-free as possible.

Also, keep the crits harsh but fair. It may come as a shock when you get your first-ever crit, but we're all adults here.

Now that I'm done parroting what has already been said better, I'll see you all in the next year!

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Yoruichi and Sitting Here Brawl

rear end in a top hat Prompt posted:

This is exactly 1000 words of a couple breaking up, but they are happier at the end than they are at the start.

Yoruichi your flash rule is "inflatable car"

Sh, your flash rule is "dogs that speak"

Yoruichi posted:

Also brawl entry

Inflated Dreams
1000 words


The inflatable car flomped i'm all about the innovative verbulising but this is teetering on the edge of twee, especially in the first line over the apex of an upside-down armchair. It was made of thick, clear plastic, painted to look like a blue Chevrolet pick-up truck. The big grin under its headlamp eyes was half rubbed off, like the vanishing Cheshire Cat. i wasn't completely sold on this image since the cheshire cat vanished as an act, but this is describing something that is static, but it does work to set the alice in wonderlandy tone of talking toys so you may pass simile-friend Fat raindrops splattered off on? the car’s flaccid windscreen. From up here it could just catch a tantalising glimpse of the access road and the distant town over the dump’s perimeter fence. a solid opener, prepped for a cute fairy tale sort of yarn

Underneath the armchair, now protected from the rain by the car’s spread-out body, was the doll’s home. She had lived in the dump a long time, and her once bright-red polka dot dress was faded and frayed. But the interior of her cave glittered even in the grey, overcast light. Every inch of the armchair’s threadbare fabric was covered with found treasures; salvaged fragments of broken mirror, pictures of the ocean torn from glossy magazines, glass beads from unwanted jewellery. Near the back, where one armrest sunk into the dirt, was a neatly made bed fashioned from a mouldy cushion and a stained woman’s blouse. Delicate clay sculptures crowded the rest of the space. There was even one of a pick-up truck with a tiny figure riding in the back. this is all lovely, very vivid and tightly describedThe inflatable car had been more touched than it had words to express this is cliche when the doll had given it the little clay model. in fact I'd just cut the last line of this para, the image says all it needs to.

FLASHBACK START The doll rescued the inflatable car on the day it was dumped. She ran towards its calls for help as fast as she could manage on her short, plastic legs. you skip over the world building and existential horror aspects of talking inanimate objects and you're right to in a story of this length, but i think not drawing attention to that is better (hence cut the descriptions of traversal where possible, they raise questions that aren't helpful to the story you're telling) It was pinned under the wheel-less axle of an old pram. The car undulated frantically and as the rumble of an approaching bulldozer shook the ground. The doll tried pulling the car out by its nozzle but it cried out for her to stop before it ripped. A pile of takeaway containers and rotting noodles clattered down around them, dislodged by the approaching bulldozer, and the car yelled at the doll to run. But she didn’t; she heaved at the pram’s axle and little by little the car slithered free. They rolled away together, the car protectively cocooning the doll, just in time to avoid being buried under an avalanche of fresh trash.

The doll took the inflatable car home to her quiet corner of the dump. The seagulls rarely bothered her there. The inflatable car was amazed by her you use a lot of these constructions for the car, possibly because you're no sure how a half inflated plastic car conveys emotion which tbf is a conundrum for the ages sculptures. In the reflected light from the many hanging mirrors the car thought the figurines looked like they were dancing. The car owed the doll its life, but it loved her for so much more than that. It loved her for the way she looked at the world, the way she saw beauty everywhere. She blushed whenever it told her so. the last three sentences are a little agonising and should really be taken to the dump shop or thrown in the landfill (ironic!) you're doing a really good job of characterising the doll but the car is basically a half-sentient magic mirror telling the doll she's pretty

Heavy grey clouds roiled above the dump and the pouring rain formed a stream in the drainage ditch below the doll’s house. FLASHBACK OVER From its rooftop perch the inflatable car watched the stream grow from a trickle to a rushing current. It stared at the spot where the water was gouging a deep channel under the dump’s perimeter fence. A sudden idea, a sense of possibility and potential adventure, thrummed through its enervated bad adjective body. something that tied to the specific physicality of a half deflated plastic car would work better here

The car wriggled forward and flopped its plastic eyes over the edge of the armchair. The world looked crinkled. see, that's great

“Doll?” it called.

The doll poked her head out and looked up.

The inflatable car hesitated. After so many years in a dark, mildewy basement, this probably needs earlier introduction but it's nbd it wasn’t even sure if it was still possible. And the doll was so small; was it fair to ask it of her? The rain hissed against the trash-laced mud. The car looked out over the dismal mounds of the broken and the discarded, and then back to the gap where the water gushed into the unknown. this is a little heavy handed, whcih is probably the main issue with this story so far

“Would you inflate me?” the car said at last.

Raindrops dripped into the doll’s wiry hair. “But, then you wouldn’t fit in the house,” she said. aww, this lands bc you set up the house so nicely (but; does he fit in the house now?)

“Think of all the places we could go!” The car rippled itself off the armchair and flopped into a puddle beside the doll. “You can ride in my tray! Let’s follow the stream all the way to the sea!”

The doll looked down at the inflatable car, at its flat tyres and empty, crumpled body. The car had its eyes fixed on its watery highway. It oscillated with excitement, splashing the doll’s legs with muddy water. this is good physicality

“Hold still,” she said. The doll put her rosebud mouth to the car’s nozzle and squeezed her rubbery cheeks with both arms as hard as she could. Her tufts of hair stood on end and a squeaking jet of air rushed out the tiny hole between her painted lips. She let her cheeks go and her head expanded back to its normal round shape.

The inflatable car had forgotten how good it felt to have air flowing between its folds. phwooar? It moaned with happiness. It took the doll a long time but bit by bit the car took shape. Its heart felt lighter than it had done in years and the faded grin over its bumper stretched wider than ever. i bet it did

By the time the doll, her arms exhausted and her head aching, replaced the stopper on the car’s nozzle the heavy rain had reduced to drizzle. this is comedically sexual but it sort of works because it's their first real time interaction and it's well done

“Quick, let’s go before the stream dries up!” said the car, bouncing on its fully-inflated tyres.

The doll laughed; she had never seen the car so happy. She looked around her peaceful home. The clay was a perfect consistency here, and she didn’t have to worry about seagulls. i really like the specificity of this line

“I’ll miss you,” she said.

Too late the car realised what was happening, and before it could argue the doll shoved it onto the water. nice moment, though the doll is a little C YA MY BEST AND ONLY FRIEND otoh they just had a very personal uh interaction so there's that

The current grabbed the car’s wheels and hurled it towards the fence. “I’ll never forget you!” it yelled.

“Good luck!” the doll yelled back. She ran after the car, waving with all her might, and the rushing water sped the inflatable car under the fence and into the world beyond. hmmmm i like what happens at the end, a lot, but the dialogue is regrettably bland - this is where you look back to the beginning of the story, or the title, and try and find something that sparks from there. Doesn't have to be super deep, but if you can convey the sentiment (which is basically calypso/ulysses and have a little something extra it makes the story land more sweetly. Still this is a good bit of work, the only real flaw is the places where you tell us about how the flomping car fellow feels rather than conveying it, but they are easy enough to fix

Sitting Here posted:

SITTINGICHI BRAWL ENTRY

A Walk Around the Block
1000 words

Oliver is missing. good, deceptively complex opener - works well with the rest of the story as it unfolds into different layers of what 'missing' means, but still places the action and required response

I power off my ancient-rear end Samsung phone, open its casing, yank out the battery, wait ten seconds, then put the whole thing back together again. Oliver says it helps, but only sometimes. the physicality of interacting with creaky mobile tech is well done.

‘Only sometimes’ is enough. not sure about this line, what's it adding? I'd cut.

When he’s gone longer than an hour or two, my hands start working of their own accord: disassembling and reassembling, my fingers describing a silent prayer with every familiar movement.

Today is a ‘sometimes’ day. The third i think you could have made this number a little bigger, it's a nice objective metric for how odd her behaviour must seem, 3 is a bland number time I reassemble the phone, Oliver is there as soon as it boots up. His chat icon—a picture of our deceased golden retriever, Boris—appears in the bottom left of the homescreen.

*There* you are, he sends through the app.

I could say the same thing to you! I force a smile at the phone’s camera.

It was all swirling grey fog on this side, he sends. I kept seeing things—darker spots, like shadows in the grey. I thought maybe I’d finally wound up in hell.

You are not going to hell, I send, then add an emoji with an extremely no-nonsense expression to underscore my point.

As long as I can still talk to you, I know I’m not damned yet.

My teeth clench tightly enough to creak in their sockets. I want to cut open reality, dissect it until I find whichever purgatorial pocket contains my dead boyfriend’s soul, and get him the gently caress back. Or maybe I want to go back in time and ignore that initial message; any sane person would’ve dismissed it as a scam or a cruel prank, but I couldn’t ignore the profile picture.

The photo of Boris was the very last one I’d taken before euthanasia. On the car ride to the veterinarian's office, he’d raised his head once—just once—and yawned one last big aroo. I snapped the picture while Oliver drove, both of us thinking the old dog’s death was the worst thing that could happen to us.

That last photo only existed on my phone. I’d never shared it to social media; the emotions in that moment belonged to Oliver and I. Oliver knew it was the only thing that would get my attention after he died, and he was right.

.

Work is total garbage today, I send. When I’m at the office, it’s easy to pretend Oliver is at home, absently replying to me while he folds towels or whatever.

His reply is instant. What’s going on?

Oh, well you know how I told you about my supervisor…

I type out a lengthy scenario, and for a moment i’m totally absorbed in the sweet banality of venting trite bullshit to my boyfriend. ty for not typing out the scenario, this is a good example of telling not showing being the right thing to do

...like, it’s totally first world problems, but that poo poo still wears me down, you know? I say in conclusion.

Oliver?

OLIVER?
not sure about the e-shouting, it comes across as melodramatic - there's probably a phone-y way you could have conveyed it?

Oliver responds as I’m peeling off the phone’s protective outer case. Sorry, things just got a bit fuzzy. I’m here.

He continues when I don’t reply: Just think of it like, sometimes I go out of cell signal range. That’s normal, right? Even when I was alive, you couldn’t see me every second of every day.

Thatwsa diferent.lol nice I mash the words out with my thumbs. Back then i knew u would be back not fade out into some fuckass purgatory. I sound like an idiot high schooler but my hands are shaking from anger and emotional exhaustion.

Except you didn’t ‘know’ I’d be back, he says, and even though he’s a whole reality away, I can hear the gentle inflections of his voice. Because one day, I walked out the door and didn’t come back.

Office life hums on around me to the tune of the over-enthusiastic air conditioner; my own grey pocket universe with its grey carpets and grey formica desks and grey people. I bite my knuckle hard enough to draw out the tang of blood so I don’t start keening.

Anyway, he sends, it’s...getting better on this side. I’ve found my way through purgatory.

Something like liquid nitrogen shoots through my veins at those words. Oliver, what does that mean?

You have to understand, Oliver says, no one has done what we’re doing right now. Maybe I love you more than anyone has ever loved another person. Maybe I’m too attached to life among the living. No one can explain why we’re able to talk like this.

Just duckign lol (though the misspelling blunts the joke a little)say what your going to say. I can feel him softening the blow, coating poison in powdered sugar.

I made it to the other side. The grey place is just transitional. But where I am now, it’s—it’s everything. It’s beyond words. It’s everything at once, and it’s all wonderful. i have to say oliver seems kind of dull, which is harsh but unfortunately that is my role i am the harsh-man

I can’t hold the agony in anymore. Stuffing the phone into the pocket of my trousers, I speedwalk to the restroom, which is blessedly empty. I sit on the tiled floor with my knees pulled up to my chest, back to the wall, body shuddering, but now that I’m alone I can’t make the tears come. however the holey moley emotional rollercoaster your protag is on is very well conveyed, it's the standout of the piece

I’ve met someone, Oliver says.

I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

She thinks it’s best that I...let you live your life. Without me haunting you. aw man he's also a bit of a dick I MET A NEW LADY LOL SIKE SHE IS U

I should just loving die, my thumbs type of their own accord.

You shouldn’t, and you won’t, Oliver says with that distant, palpable gentleness.

You don’t know that.

It takes Oliver a long time to compose his next message. I do know. Because the person I met is...she’s you. You and I were never apart. We have always been here, in this place, together. Boris is here, too! Life—it’s just a walk around the block. You’ll see.

I can’t.

Will I suffer very much before I see you again? Did she...I….tell you?

A bit, Oliver admits. But it’ll make your homecoming that much sweeter, when it’s your time. Trust me. HE SOUNDS LIKE A CULT LEADER do not drink the flavor aid little protag avoid going into the light

Is this goodbye? I ask.

No, Oliver says, it’s ‘see you later’. or as the french (francais in the original french) might say: 'aux revoir'

The tears finally come, but I smile into the camera one last time.

See you later.

Maybe I can. so this is what if truly madly deeply but cellphones and it's a solid presentation of a solid idea. I love the intensity of her emotion and the rickety nature of the technology she's trying to channel it through. where it falls down is the bland comfy nature of her ex boyf - he's chill about being dead, nbd, just hanging in purgatory watching movies on astral netflix or w/e and so the nicely drawn intensity (while it's believable and affecting) doesn't really find a home. plus he's arguably kind of a dick though i do not believe that was the intention.

These were both solid offerings in the face of an entirely fucky prompt - nicely written, mostly, told a good small tale with lots of well drawn detail and character work. However after consultation with my co-judge, we agreed that while one story had two characters we cared about, for all that it ended weakly, the other had one strong character and a bland cardboard cutout (and possibly psychotic cult leader) . Yoruichi wins.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

AN IMPORTANT ANNUAL REMINDER!

Now is the time to edit entries out of the thread that you may want to revise and sell in the future!

Shortly after I lock this thread and turn out the lights, it will go to the Goldmine, there to be preserved for so long as SA shall live. Neither sebmojo nor anyone else can alter its contents once that happens. So if you don't want a story to be available for all the world to see--remember the Goldmine is never behind the paywall--edit it out before it's too late!

You'll do future readers a solid if you take the optional step of putting up a link to the Archive version. The Archive is always password-protected, and whether your story can be seen there is under your control so long as you have an account. (Ping crabrock or me if you ever want a story hidden but are opposed to accounts for whatever reason.)

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

As the year winds down, it's time to reflect on our accomplishments over the past 365 days, and indeed, over our durance in Thunderdome. What have you achieved with the words wrought from your soul and/or from the cans of Pabst you slammed down at 11:30pm on Sunday night? Of what are you most proud? Which story, if any, gave you some bare modicum of hope for the human race?

We've gazed into the abyss all year, TD. Let us now gaze into the mirror.

Kaishai's Thunderstats

2018 Specific:
Entries in 2018: 16
Stories Under 1,000 Words: 7
Fantastical Stories: 12
Realistic Stories: 4
Male Protagonists: 7
Female Protagonists: 7
Characters Killed: 21
Stories in Which the Protagonist Dies at the Last Minute: 1
Favorite Entry of the Year: "They Sing in Veneta"
Favorite Work by Someone Else: QuoProQuid's "eScape from the CITY! 503 words"
Favorite Work that Does Not Reflect My Weakness for Things Beautifully Stupid: Entenzahn's "Grace into the Night"

Totals to Date:
Entries: 117
Male Protagonists: 63
Female Protagonists: 59
Indeterminate Protagonists: 1
Male Characters Killed: 939 (3 children, 1 dog, 1 tree)
Female Characters Killed: 27 (3 children, 1 horse, 1 tree)
Unclassifiable Deaths: Indeterminate protagonist, unspecified number of baby birds, unnumbered soldiers in a war camp, unnumbered rebel invaders and guardian sculptures, ungendered summoned creature, ungendered mythological wolf, ungendered yew tree, unnumbered Venetans, ungendered dragon, ungendered fetus, ungendered snow monster, ninety-nine percent of of Atwerith
Stories in Which the Protagonist Dies at the Last Minute: 14
Restless Dead: 1,024, plus the entire city of Mosul-Munye, plus the occupants of a ruined college
Story Titles Inspired by Songs: 17
Gay Janitors, Irrelevant or Otherwise: 0

Post whatever statistics interest you so we can all look back at what you've done and shake our drat heads together.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 02:42 on Jan 2, 2019

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Yoruichi’s Thunderstats

Total number of fiction words written for Thunderdome since joining in September 2017: 47,664
Total number of fiction words written in lifetime: 47,664

Percentage of 2018 Thunderdome goals achieved: 100% (1. Win. 2. Increase sperg rating above Sebmojo’s)

Number of words written that weren’t completely terrible: a number greater than zero

Favourite entry: Human Geometry
Entry I was most certain was going to lose: Fragments
Entry that gave me the most amusement: You'll Be Back, Derek, No One Escapes the Void

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


https://thunderdome.cc/?story=7062&title=In+Sesimbra

Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 09:43 on Jan 2, 2019

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




Please don't try to switch to Discord, it's awful. IRC's really not that complex and if you get a decent client (I like Hexchat on Windows) you can even do things like ignore users (a good feature on any channel with me in it)

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Existential Crises
779 words


Geoff Lizard was fifty percent deinonychus antirrhopus, fifty percent silverback gorilla, and one hundred percent private detective. No one else would touch the case of the Mayor’s missing daughter, but for Geoff this case was personal. That crazy chick might just lead him to the thing he’d been searching for his whole life.

Geoff’s interspecies body was divided on the diagonal from his throat to his arse. Atop the chest, abdomen and legs of a large male gorilla he had the razor-toothed head, clawed forearms and feathered back of an eons-extinct deinonychus. His long tail meant he was well-balanced when his spine was horizontal, but, as that placed his head at crotch-height, he preferred to walk upright, albeit that his gorilla hips made him waddle and his tail scraped on the ground.

“This is the place, Prinny,” said Geoff, handing Miss Adrianna Wallenstein’s notebook back to his assistant. Her green eyes and pale face looked radiant in the moonlight, and for the thousandth time Geoff cursed the razor-sharp claws that he could never touch her with. He tapped on the moss-covered sepulchre door with the longest of his claws, recited the Latin phrase from the notebook, and with a sound like grinding bones the door scraped open.

“Well done Mr Lizard,” said the Mayor. “Looks like I was right to trust you after all.”

“It’s pronounced LizARd, not Lizid,” said Prinny. Geoff winced - he didn’t like to correct people - but the Mayor appeared not to notice.

Gurgling laughter echoed up the tunnel. Holding his torch in his mouth Geoff ran towards it, his prehensile feet balancing easily on the wet stones. Gabriel, he thought, I’ve found you at last.

The tunnel lead to a domed chamber, dimly lit by blue flames that danced in the sconces set high up the walls. In the centre was a open stone sarcophagus. Above it, suspended in a web of golden ropes, was Miss Adrianna Wallenstein. She was wearing a black skirt and t-shirt, knee-high black boots and heavy black eye makeup.

“I found it!” she yelled at Geoff. “The tomb of Gabriel!” She wriggled ineffectually inside the net.

“You found something,” he said, and sighed. There was no sign of the Archangel.

Suddenly there was a burst of cackling laughter from the tunnel, and Geoff spun around to see Prinny being lifted in the robed arms of a winged skeleton. The outline of its former fleshy self glowed like a pale aura around its bones. Purple light danced in its eye sockets.

“Told you!” said Adrianna. “He’s just, err, not quite what I expected.”

“WHEEEEE,” said Gabriel, flying around the chamber with the terrified Prinny under one arm.

The Mayor stumbled into the Chamber, clutching her bleeding forehead. “I tried to stop it…”

“Mum!” Adrianna shouted.

“Adrianna Florence Wallenstein, you are in big trouble young lady!” said the Mayor. “Mr Lizard, go get my idiot daughter out of there at once!”

But Geoff was running after what remained of the once mighty Archangel. With a roar he leapt off the floor with his right leg then with his left launched himself off the wall straight at the flying creature. He grabbed one dangling leg with his jaw and yanked it back to the ground, catching Prinny in his muscular tail.

Geoff placed one hairy foot on the Archangel’s skeletal chest. He beat his clawed fist against his gorilla chest and blew hot breath out his nostrils into the skull’s toothy grin. He had waited a long time for this moment.

Why?” he said. “Why did God make me like this?”

“Caterpillars taste like biscuits!” chortled Gabriel.

“AAARGH,” Geoff roared, and crushed the thing’s ribcage into dust under his foot. With his jaw he tore the skull from its spine and sent fragments of bone clattering across the chamber.

“Geoff, stop!” shouted Prinny.

Geoff swung his head towards her, tears forming unbidden in his eyes.

“This was my last hope, Prinny,” he said, voice cracking. “My last chance to find out why I’m…” Geoff dropped into a squat and beat his claws against the stones.

“It doesn’t matter why,” said Prinny. “What matters is that you’re you.” She took his head in her hands and stroked away the tears from the soft feathers on his cheeks.

“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Adrianna, one arm shoved through the net to record the whole thing on her mobile phone.

And thus freed of his existential angst, Geoff Lizard became a sensation on social media and had to deal with a whole new set of problems.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


When There's No One Around
591 Words

It began as a hobby, but my interest in mutually assured destruction soon took over my life. My mom used to complain that I was out all the time with the rodeos and circuses. Then she complained that I was inside all the time researching missile trajectories and how nuclear fallout would alight on the winds and kill the world.

My obsessive research resulted in a map. I didn’t expect it to be very accurate, let alone necessary. But I estimated the safest places to live. The places I could survive if and when poo poo went down. After a month or so of indecision a news story about India’s cache of warheads reaching five digits encouraged me to make my move.

It was lonely in Brazil at first. I didn’t know Portuguese and I hadn’t told anyone where I was going. But I got a few useful phrases down and started saving money for my bunker. It’s hard to make kids laugh when you’re close to making GBS threads yourself with fear of imminent nuclear destruction. In addition to the fear, there was sadness. All of those kids were likely to be vaporized. Irradiated, at the very least. Even if Belo Horizonte’s surrounding mountains would protect it from most fallout, bunkers were necessary to ensure survival.

But I grinned and honked my little horn and tripped over my big red spats like a professional. At first I went home to a hostel, then my own house, and at last the secure bunker I built under said house. Nothing fancy. But the best I could build on a clown’s income. All I had to do was make sure I was in it at the critical moment.

I ask myself now why I didn’t share my map, give other people a chance at life. Hell, I didn’t even let my mom know. Part of me didn’t want to be seen as sad and paranoid as I really was. As a clown, being laughed at is par for the course, but it wasn’t really me people laughed at. If I shared my map and got laughs I don’t think I could’ve taken it. Is that spiteful?

It was a Saturday night when the first bombs started flying. I pitied all the people trying to lose a night to booze or drugs or dancing or whatever. The first howl of my sensors and the faint vibrations of the world ending woke me from my usual light sleep. My body shook with exhilaration. I hadn’t felt like that since I was a kid on Christmas morning. The anticipation. I wanted to run out and see, but I wanted to wait until the coast was clear. It was hell, the waiting.

Then it ended. A week-long apocalypse. I got halfway up the ladder and saw the note I left myself: “Don’t forget: The fallout will be active for a minimum of two weeks. Wait two months.” I climbed the ladder again after a month.

Belo Horizonte looked different without all the people buzzing around, without a football match shaking the streets. I trundled around town, unable to orient myself; most of my usual landmarks had been destroyed or displaced. It was all too empty. I should have told people. Perhaps some other paranoid freaks were hiding in their holes in the other cities I had deemed safe. But maybe I was alone.

I made it to the wreckage of Minerão before I finally broke down crying. In the center of the ruined stadium I honked my horn for nobody.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

The Way
Map: Thus Men Go Safely
(962 words)

Read it in the archive.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 19:07 on Jan 2, 2019

Armack
Jan 27, 2006


Prompt: "The Sanctification of the Seventh Day"

What Follows the Dark Rapture
(925 words)

In the seas above the firmament

The Captain steered through swollen tides of cherub tears and flotsam borne of wing and halo scrap. Beneath, the waves shellacked the ark with faces. The wincing flaps of skin squished and glommed against the hull. I’ll need to use the scrubber again before too long, she thought.

Off the starboard bow, a drenched woman floated on ill-tied logs.

The Captain regarded her. It was their fault. Their sin grew so weighty, it tipped the scales in the devils’ favor. I warned them, but their apathy doomed us all.

Three years had passed since The Dark Rapture. Three years since the demons had fed on enough sin to blanket the Earth in flame and lift humanity through concentric layers of scorched firmament. Now, within the layer of slowly rising seas above it all, the needy were finding themselves stranded.

The Captain lowered a rope ladder to the drenched woman. When she climbed aboard, the woman reached to embrace her savior. The Captain dodged.

“There’s a settlement built on high ground. Eight hours’ sail.”

The woman responded, “My name is Katya. After The Rapture we—”

The Captain shifted her attention, offering “mhmm” but hearing none of Katya’s tale.

Her work was habit, she thought, less desire to do good and more momentum of do-gooding. She knew she deserved people’s thanks, perhaps their veneration. After all, she was saving them when they were too weak and helpless to save themselves. But when the pathetic creatures came aboard she wanted none of it.

When they dropped anchor at port, The Captain bid farewell to Katya, who disembarked and started up the winding steps toward the settlement’s gate. Then The Captain set about scrubbing the faces that stuck barnacle-like to the hull. She gave a second glance to one that might have been Max, but The Captain thought the skin too pale and discarded it.

Fatigued, The Captain stepped below decks, away from crew quarters, and into the brig. There she kept the door open and laid herself on a plank. She allowed herself to daydream about finding some crack in the firmament. If such a fissure were to exist, she might sail through it, one layer at a time, until her ark found its way back to Earth. Once there, if she discovered some patch of unburnt land, some woods or mountain, she’d trade trafficking in pathetic sinners for reveling in seed and spore and birdsong.

But as slumber took hold, her mind grew cruel. The Captain dreams returned her to Max’s fateful battle with the incubus. Once again, she witnessed her brothers’ faith fail, and the incubus seizing upon his weakness, casting his face into the sea.

The next morning was clear. Clear enough to spot God’s holy city, distant in the sky, besieged by demons, but for the moment secure. The Captain sailed beneath it, until she found four elderly men who blubbered and wailed on the shores of some tiny island. They were haragued by an imp who must have been too stunted and nubby to join his brethren in the siege.

The Captain lowered the rope ladder, brought the four men aboard, and when the imp followed closely behind, she shoved it over the bow.

“Shhh. You don’t need to say a word,” The Captain told the men. “Get below decks and I’ll take you to safety.” It was better than letting them assume that merely because she’d saved them, she wanted to hear them talk.

That night she dreamed again. She sat inside a temple with golden pillars and a marble fountain at its center. Her brother was there too, but there was just an eyeless, stretched out face where Max’s head should have been.

“Why do you resent the people you save?” asked Max.

“Because humans are weak,” she said as though she differed somehow from them. “They wrecked the Earth with their sin. Now they are too helpless and infantile to survive this layer of the universe.”

“They’re scared of demons and of drowning. You’re terrified of being close to another person. That makes you the weakest of them all, and you cover it up with the hero act..”

“What do you expect me to do?”

“Cast off your need to feel superior. Lift your heart to them.”

“No need. I have always been in control. In control I will remain,” said The Captain. Then she willed herself awake.

That day The Captain opted against any rescues. She set sail for as far as she could in one direction, wondering when she’d arrive back where she started. In three days, she found a fissure in the firmament. She sailed through and down, layer by layer, until she found the Earth vibrant, free of flame, teeming with plant and animal life, and dotted with ruined cities.

The Captain spent several years in the forest, where she tended garden and fed stray animals. But soon her days became a blur. Without another person to reflect her, she forgot herself. Soon all the world seemed artificial, void of context or meaning. She spent her later years on the brink of madness, tormented, though never quite sure why. She derived no pleasure from the paradise she’d made for herself, flew easily into rage, and lived as a discordant tone amid the harmony around her.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Humane, But Unusual
Word Count: 995

The Very Famous Island of Madhead

Through the course of Donato’s globetrotting travails, no place earned him the enmity of its inhabitants as quickly as his landing upon Madhead. Following a storm that shipwrecked him in the Gulf of Maas and swimming a frigid night evading man-eating dugongs, Donato was eventually washed to the safety of shore. Regaining his wits, he kissed the ground and muttered “thank God” before collapsing, though not quietly enough for a passerby to ascertain that Donato had committed a crime against their fair nation. Upon nursing Donato to a degree of consciousness, that same man announced Donato was under citizen’s arrest, before abusing him back into unconsciousness.

When Donato awoke, he found himself alone in a prison cell. From the other side a gaoler kept watch from the seat of his rocking chair.

“Excuse me,” began Donato, “would you tell me where I am?”

“You are quarantined from freedom,” drawled the gaoler, “Madhead does not take the violation of its laws lightly.”

“Pray tell, what laws did I violate?”

“You are accused of blasphemy in the agnostic degree.”

“…For having thanked God?”

“Wretch! You did it again!”

“Is he not to be thanked? Fine! I rescind my thanks, and curse God ten-fold for this incarceration.”

At this, the gaoler leapt from his rocking chair.

“Reel your tongue! We do not speak that name during Defenefestus! You best hope that I am not called to testify against you!”

“The hell is Defenefestus?”

“…Do you not even know what country you are in? This is Madhead, and we alone of all nations abide by the Calendar of Rotating Peace. We are in the month of Defenefestus.”

“So you’ve renamed Uzhnktember to something stupid. What of it?”

“Such insolence. No wonder the world rages with religious wars, too conceited to follow our way of peace.”

“Giving months new names magically helps everyone get along?”

“It is not just a calendar. It is a way of life. Madhead was founded on the principles of proportioned peace. In the foresight of the founding ancestors who held different beliefs, they saw the folly of making one faith supreme. Yet banning religion outright would have stirred a backlash just as dangerous. Thus, they mutually approved that each faith should be devoted a month to which exclusive observance should be granted without interference. At the end of each month, devotion is transitioned to the next faith scheduled by the calendar. In this way, Madhead has held peace for the last seven years.”

“Seven years!?” spat Donato, “I’ve had gut parasites that have lived longer than that!”

“Seven Rotating Peace years,” corrected the gaoler. “Madhead began with eleven founding faiths, each allotted fifty days to their month. But as the religions themselves had their schisms, and as arrivals brought new faiths to our lands, it necessitated the years to be adjusted accordingly to accede an additional fifty days for every new faith to the calendar. At the present, I should think that one Rotating Peace year is comparable to fifty of yours.”

“That’s… absurd,” replied Donato, “What is the point of accounting time in your years when each varies with the next?”

“It is the job for our historians to constantly revise.”

“Pox to such a job. Anyone willing to make sense of your calendar must be fools.”

“Many of our convicts willingly serve their soft labour as historians.”

Donato’s eyebrows twitched.

“Exactly whose faith did I tread on?”

Your arrival to our shores was recorded on the 43rd of Defenefestus, the month observed in deference to the Yahwehnaught Witnesses, who forbid all manner of religious observances, including the very mention of…”

“God?”

The gaoler sucked his teeth.

“That’s preposterous! I was shipwrecked at sea! How was I supposed to know your damned calendar wouldn’t permit me to take the Lord’s name, in vain or otherwise, on a day when I was at the precipice of death?”

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse. And as I said, Madhead does not take the violation of its laws lightly.”

At this, Donato began to howl.

“None of that please,” scolded the gaoler, “If anything, you are blessed to be in court during Defenefestus, a month most efficient for having neither holiday nor sabbath. I suspect your trial will proceed quickly.”

These words did not console Donato. Screaming, he looked about and seized a chamber pot which he dashed against the bars of his cell. The gaoler called for guards, and three entered to render Donato unconscious, though not before he gave them each a good raking.

Three days later, Donato was whisked to Quinqempoix where he stood trial before a tribunal. To the charge of blasphemy were the added charges of destruction of state property, three counts of assault of an officer of the peace, and subsequently, multiple contempt of court offences, all of which he was found guilty. The proceedings were indeed swift, yet not so swift that the trial could conclude before the month’s end. Here a fortuitous circumstance occurred, for Defenefestus was followed by Algorithary, a month that deferred to the primacy of Social Mathemetism in which mathematic virtues were applied to the government of Madhead. In light of this knowledge, and with the verdict conducted in in Algorithary, Donato gave these words in his defence:

“Your Maladjustees, wisdom shows that two wrongs do not make a right, much as my cumulative negative acts amount to no positive. Yet I would argue that my criminality was not additive, but multiplicative, so that product of my transgressions produced a positive. As my trial now presides in the holy month of Algorithary, I propose that my past actions should be recognized as a positive to your society and request for the return of my liberty.”

Reluctantly, the tribunal found Donato’s proposal to be most sound to Social Mathemetism, and acquiesced to his proposal, with the condition that he be promptly deported. This arrangement was most agreeable to Donato and he continued with his journeys.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


Under the Sages' Towers
960 words
Prompt: Berkeley's Strategic Position

One day, this city's going to be a great crossroads of the world. At least, that's what the sages say, up in their towers -- and the fact that they are in those towers, overlooking the Workers' District and our endless construction sites, and not back at their universities means that they believe it, I suppose. It's hard to tell, sometimes, from down here.

I was three years old when my family came here to work, my parents being just the kind they were looking for: good enough to be trusted, but not good enough to have anywhere else to go. I'm 19 now, working my father's old job in my father's old boots, and it's hard to say if anything's changed. We raise new buildings and pave new roads, but the sages keep pushing back the borders of the city, claiming that it must expand to achieve its ever-brighter destiny. The Workers' District never seems to get any bigger, though: just dormitories, staple shops, and the few parks and game halls that our supervisors deem "conducive to good character." They brag about a city without crime, and to get it, they've made a district without any crime worth doing.

I don't know whether I'd be honest if I'd been raised anywhere else, but here, I know full well I'm not. Living in the Workers' District makes you dream about crime, about everything you'd get up to if there were opportunities worth taking. We tell tall tales of our fantasy lives and practice our sleight of hand at the card table, palming our betting-beads and rigging out shuffles, and sometimes we even pretend we'd do it, if we ever left. We're not leaving. Our parents slaved to get us our contracts, and we, like our parents, don't have anywhere else to go. We work, and we tell tall tales, and it keeps us alive until this city's destiny finds us.

When Varhassa tells me about the caravan coming through, I assume it's another story, one to distract me as she shuffles and cuts the cards. "Jewel traders coming through the Visitors' District next week," she says. "They're dropping someone off and picking someone up, staying overnight." I half-nod, focusing on her hands. "They need help with the oxen. Lots of time alone with the caravan. What do you say?"

"I say it sounds too good to be true," I reply. "Let me cut those."

The next day, they post the detail of the caravan job on the board. Two days' double pay for someone who can mind oxen. Even if there are no jewels, I decide, that's an opportunity worth taking.

***

We have an escort into the Visitors' District, but once we reach the corral that holds the caravan and its oxen, our guards leave us to the work. There's a half-dozen of us, and none of us can hide our amazement at the Visitors' District: full-grown fruit trees in bloom, surely transplanted from somewhere far away, lining the streets; statuary and stained glass decorating the towers of the sages; the rich, spicy odor of foods none of us can recognize, except maybe from our parents' stories. All the wealth our work has brought to the city, all here, for the sages and visitors and designers of it all. I never imagined it so beautiful.

The corral is behind a public house whose walls are gleaming pink stone. Through the windows, I can see the common room crowded with people, all drinking from crystal glasses of what can only be wine. (I recognize the smell, faintly; I've tasted the pale echoes of this, the soured fruit mash that my father spent years trying to make into something drinkable.) They eat and drink, they dance fumblingly in the center of the common room, and their laughter echoes out into the street. They don't know we exist, couldn't name a single one of us if they tried. It's too good to be true.

I think about exile as I feed and water the oxen and brush the road-dust from their shiny black coats. The punishment for every crime's the same: being tossed outside the gates in rags, with provisions enough for a few days, if the judges are merciful. I think of the length of my contract, of the steady trickle of pay, of how little I'm allowed to buy with what little I'm given. How much worse can the outside be? And that's if I'm caught. If.

They didn't bother securing their cargo bins. I reach in, feel a sea of little cloth bags, and pull out a handful, enough to disappear into my pockets without leaving a lump. I glance towards the public house -- the joyful, oblivious crowd -- and then back towards the corral, towards the others. One of my fellows is easing a cargo-bin door shut. They nod to me. I nod back.

I'm good for the rest of the night, and the oxen are sleek and content when the guards come again to escort us home. When I get there, I empty my pockets and open the bags under lamplight. There's a heavy golden bracelet, studded with tiny green stones, and two identical necklaces: silver, strung with little red gems like droplets of blood, and one vast crimson teardrop at the center of the string. In the light of my oil lamp, the facets seem infinite.

One of the pendants is going to Varhassa, for being as good as her word. The other, and the bracelet, I bundle in an old shirt and hide deep in my linen chest. For now, they're my secret. One day, though, this place will be a great crossroads of the world -- and then, I'm sure, my treasure will fetch the price it deserves.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h


https://thunderdome.cc/?story=7069&title=Birdcage

Flesnolk fucked around with this message at 08:22 on Jan 1, 2019

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Submissions are closed

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

Slow judging good judging. Better for my heart at least lol

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




Sitting Here posted:

I think it would be good if people who want to be proactive maybe list off what they're willing to do; for example, Tyrannosaurus offering to keep a year-specific scoreboard. I think there is a lot of potential for that concept. What I am personally willing to do next year:

-Pay for ads.

-If people want to brainstorm with me, I'd be willing to run/help run some sort of contest in another forum. Sadly I really only post in GBS, which is a dubious place to try running a fiction contest. I'm willing to give it a shot if Sebmojo wants to run it by the mods first, though.

-Run TD-sponsored events in their own threads. If there is an interest for like, TD-brand crits for longer contests or existing works, I would love to get my finger in that pie.

I'll join in on these commitments:

  • I'll buy at least 1 ad for TD in 2019. If I see a really kickass prompt, I will either make an ad (finally figured out how to make animated GIFs in Photoshop) or use one created by someone else. It was an ad for Wizard Week which brought me to TD in the first place.
  • I will help brainstorm and organize contests in other forums or within CC. I think the October story contest went pretty well even though I didn't get the thread up until like a week in. I'm also down to buy the occasional prize for such contests.

As for suggestions to improve TD... a moratorium on song prompts in 2019? That's just low-hanging fruit/a personal preference; I don't know how to solve things like new writers feeling there's an unwritten set of do's and don'ts that only the old guard know.

If I judge in 2019, I'm going to try and keep the kayfabe down while still pointing out problems. I think it's pretty common for new writers to have a great idea and execute it badly, so I think a combination of constructive advice and a venue to post re-worked stories would be helpful.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



BeefSupreme posted:

SEBGUY BRAWL JUDGMENT

Alright I know I'm a worthless lout who can't keep a deadline, and here I am dropping a weakass brawl judgment... Thranguy wins. Both stories were entertaining, well written (in regards to prose), and short enough to not make me hurl. While I truly appreciated the efforts of both authors to adhere to the prompt and to the... unusual flash rules, Sebmojo, in my estimation, failed to refrain from giving the protagonist a discernible reason for fighting--even if it's only in one direction. Congratulations to Thranguy!

Serious crits will be coming in the next couple of days

Ahh hell to have them done by Saturday midnight

saturday is well past in every part of the world, cough up your regrettably misguided crittythoughts or face the wheel

e: also I have a standing toxx to crit all the stories in any week that I fail in, so I'll do the merman week by 2359 pst on 2 jan

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 22:00 on Dec 31, 2018

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



also:

Thinking of this as the new losertar:


THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

Agree

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

KING OF BLOOD

Upon what meat doth this
our Caesar feed that he is grown so great?


sebmojo posted:

also:

Thinking of this as the new losertar:


THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019

I like it.

BabyRyoga
May 21, 2001

Babies don't fail THUNDERDOME

If we already have a losertar and we gain another one, can we keep both?

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



BabyRyoga posted:

If we already have a losertar and we gain another one, can we keep both?

no - it would replace the old one. No reason you can't drop the $5 and double up, though.

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Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Judgment

A somewhat divided panel has managed to navigate the uncharted territory of this week's story and come back with a few treasures:

HMs go to Benny Profane's In Sesembra and Flesnolk's Birdcage, both slightly leaning toward the vignette side but still providing strong character and setting.

The winner is Kaishai's The Way, which does that and deliver a bit more story as well.

Some of you got lost along the way despite having a map. One of those stand out, and is the week's loser: M Propagandalf's bloodless and toothless Humane, But Unusual, which appears to have set off in the direction of satire but ran ashore elsewhere.

Crits to follow shortly, see you all in the new year and new thread.

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