In, flash please
|# ? Aug 22, 2018 07:13|
|# ? Mar 25, 2019 09:43|
ys, in, flash me up plx
|# ? Aug 22, 2018 12:43|
In with a request for a flash rule, please.
Your story must feature a race against the clock.
Hello! I've been here before. Last time I signed up I failed to submit. It was shameful and I stayed up late at night for two days thinking about my failure but life is hard and sometimes poo poo happens and then ends with you in a jail cell, eating breakfast at four in the morning while your heroin addled celly shits his brains out.
Your story must have multiple characters, none of whom know each other.
In, flash please
Your story must take place at dawn.
ys, in, flash me up plx
Your story must take place during a roadtrip.
|# ? Aug 22, 2018 17:27|
Let’s try this again since I’m not on painkillers
|# ? Aug 23, 2018 14:04|
Let’s try this again since I’m not on painkillers
Your main protagonist is motivated mainly by fear.
|# ? Aug 23, 2018 21:57|
Hey Staggy - If you still need another judge, I'm your rodent.
|# ? Aug 23, 2018 23:18|
I would also like to offer my services as a judge.
|# ? Aug 24, 2018 10:03|
Hey Staggy - If you still need another judge, I'm your rodent.
I would also like to offer my services as a judge.
Thanks! Glad to have you both on board.
To everyone else - you have a little under 7 hours left to sign up. Sign-ups after the deadline may be accepted, on condition of a mandatory and probably very unwieldy flash rule.
|# ? Aug 24, 2018 21:06|
|# ? Aug 25, 2018 03:20|
Submissions are now closed - get writing!
|# ? Aug 25, 2018 08:49|
Prompt: Measure Twice, Cut Once
“The high priest and the other acolytes are dead. Word has already been sent to the city to send another high priest, but until he arrives in four days you will have to lead the rites. You know what needs to be done, correct?” The major’s voice was impassive as he delivered the unfortunate news.
Aleius Laron choked on his morning tea. Lead the rites? Him? No, but surely there was someone else who could…No. He was the last acolyte in the warcamp, if the major’s words were true. Aleius’s tea cup trembled and he hastily set it down.
“What—what happened? Dead? How?”
The major grimaced. “They were assisting at the healer’s tent last night after those bastards surprised us from the west. I guess we got lucky that you were indisposed last night.”
Aleius scowled. “It was my night off. I wasn’t going to spend it doing more work. Yes, I know what needs to be done. I will deal with this.”
Aleius watched the officer’s receding back and tried not to curse. Of course those idiots got themselves killed. All he wanted to do was enjoy a bottle of lovely brandy and the company of some of the local whores. He tried to soothe his disgust with another sip of tea and made a face. lovely, like everything else in this godforsaken camp. He wished he was back in his hometown of Cerren, surrounded by the luxuries the large city could provide the son of a minor nobleman. It had been three years since his family had sent him as an offering to the temple.
Aleius scowled and slouched back in his chair. He knew preparations would need to be started soon, but that could wait for now.
Aleius examined the holy scepter. A quartz crystal that glowed with an inner light was held secure and suspended at the end of the brass instrument. It was his duty to ensure every dead body was exorcised so that they would not rise.
It was common knowledge the Terresians were accomplished necromancers who used their dark knowledge to raise armies of the undead. Aleius remained skeptical. He had never seen one of these undead soldiers with his own eyes, just a bunch of corpses rotting motionless in the sun. He suspected it was all a sham for the benefit of the uncultured commoners.
The temple tent was simple but spacious and contained all the tools needed for the rites. The initiates were busy preparing the incense burners. Aleius heard a distant rumble in the distance and frowned. The mild morning weather had slowly grown more ominous through out the day as clouds moved in and the air grew thick and muggy. It smelled like rain, even in the tent. Aleius was sure it would storm before he finished the rites.
That meant an unpleasant evening in the cold and wet while the rest of the camp remained safe and dry in their tents. Aleius could almost hear the laughs of soldiers as they gambled and drank their brandy rations. He clenched his fists and breathed heavily through his nose. There was no reason to prolong the preparations. They might as well get this over with as quickly as possible.
The scepter was ready, at any rate. The quartz was glowing, which meant it was still charged. The high priest would have said to take the extra time to put a fresh crystal in, but it would be fine.
“Alright, let’s go!” Aleius barked. The initiates scrambled faster, getting the incense burners together and their robes on over their heads. Aleius shrugged into the high priest’s ceremonial robe and grabbed the scepter. He paused for a moment to admire himself in the lone mirror. He looked striking and important in the expensive robes. It was a far cry from his expensive velvets before he was forced to join the priesthood, but it would do.
The storms came sooner than Aleius expected. He struggled through the mud to the next body laid out in the line, wiping wet hair from his face. The ceremonial robes were soaked and heavy with water and mud. Lightning struck somewhere close by and he flinched at the sudden roar of thunder. Two initiates miserably trailed behind him, futilely attempting to keep their swinging incense lit.
Aleius said the ritual words and waved the scepter above the body of a soldier and then proceeded to the next one. There were dozens. He carried on, miserably aware of the cold seeping into his bones. Halfway through the line, the light from the scepter’s quartz flickered and died out. Aleius stared at it in disbelief. He would have to go all the way back to the priest’s tent to recharge the scepter and then trudge all the way back out to resume the rites. He grit his teeth and resisted throwing the scepter into the mud. Useless! Of course something like this would happen to him.
Aleius stared at the bodies who hadn’t received the rites. There were perhaps a hundred or so all together. Would it really be such a crime if they were missed?
“Go back to your tents,” Aleius told the initiates. “I’ll finish up here alone.”
The initiates scurried away, grateful to be out of the mud. Aleius watched them go and then headed towards his own tent. Everything would be fine in the morning.
Aleius woke to the sound of screaming. He blinked his eyes blearily and rolled over on the hard cot. Rain pattered steadily against the tent. Another scream tore through the night. He cursed and pulled on his pants and boots, stepping over the ruined priest robes he discarded on the floor. Peeping out of the tent flap, Aleius saw people running in the dark. Tents were on fire despite the rain. It was complete chaos
A man wearing only a nightshirt ran by, chased by a group of people who staggered after him at a lurching run. The man stumbled and fell into the mud. He screamed as the group descended on him. Aleius covered his mouth and turned away gagging as the man was ripped open and they began to devour him. Aleius let the tent flap fall and backed away, horrified. Monsters, terrible creatures. The dead were walking tonight. Was this his doing? No, it couldn’t be. He wouldn’t let himself think of that. He needed to get away, that was a priority.
He let out a terrified yelp as his tent shivered. A horrible slobbering noise came from the entrance. He backed up, looking around wildly for a way out. He grabbed his belt knife and began working at the thick tent fabric.
A man burst into the tent and Aleius screamed. The man looked at him with clouded eyes. His head was oddly shaped, but Aleius was struck with an immediate familiarity. It was the dead high priest. The dead man groped for him with bloated fingers.
“No—no, please!” Aleius fell to the ground, sobbing, but it was too late. The undead lunged and there was only pain then nothing at all.
|# ? Aug 27, 2018 00:46|
A thin band of red burned behind the curved horizon, softly illuminating the silver cables of the jump platform. Amateur divisions always started early; the organisers liked to get us out of the way before the spectators arrived. I ignored the view and concentrated on visualising my routine. My hands shook as I checked and rechecked my suit. I’d clocked up drat near a hundred hours of simulator time, on top of the hours spent in the gym with Sven. He assured me I was ready. But I didn’t just want to be ready; I wanted to be perfect, like him.
The start light went green and I jumped. I caught a flash of the other competitors waving from the waiting deck, then it was just me, thousands of kilometers of black sky, and three minutes to show the judges what I could do.
Sven had been badgering me for months to do a real jump. He was right: it was completely different to the sim. Even through the suit, I could feel the freezing air pummelling my body. My visor display showed my time spinning away: 15 seconds in and I hadn’t done jack poo poo. I took a quick breath, adjusted my shoulders just like Sven had taught me, his hands carefully correcting the position of my body, and –
Spun. Not the graceful, controlled curve I’d intended but a full on, out-of-control death spiral. The numbers on my visor display went crazy. I was accelerating with every rotation. I couldn’t breath. I slammed my palm against the safety button on my chest. The suit’s stabilisers kicked on. The earth stopped whirling past me and the suit auto-positioned me in a gentle dive. The timer on my visor flashed and stopped: 25 seconds in and I was disqualified.
I slumped, devastated, against the suit’s restraints. I couldn’t believe it. Like a newbie idiot, I’d panicked. I could’ve levelled out of that spin easy, turned it into the start of another trick. The other competitors would be laughing at me, then rolling their eyes with mounting irritation as they waited – my suit-controlled descent agonisingly slow – for me to clear the competition zone.
My boots sent up a puff of red dust as I landed. Down here it was still dark. The gossamer thread of the elevator shaft and the distant lights of the tethered platforms glittered against the dawn sky. My hands shook as I stripped off my helmet and gloves. Desperate to leave before anyone saw me, I jogged – awkward in the suit’s bulk – towards the car park.
“Annette!” Sven was waving from the elevator entranceway, holding the door open. Behind him, other competitors fidgeted, some gazing star-struck at Sven, others casting sidelong glances towards the hold-up.
He was the last person I wanted to see. I was desperate to impress him but now there was no hiding from the big, fat zero next to my name on the scoreboard, projected like a shameful brand against the sky. Just let me go home to die of shame, I thought. But Sven was still waving, his other arm wedged against the sensor to stop the door from closing.
“Hurry up!” someone shouted.
Face burning, I squeezed inside. I glued my eyes to the floor and bit the inside of my cheek to stop myself from crying.
Sven elbowed me. “So what did you think? The view is spectacular, right?”
I nodded, not looking at him. The red earth was zooming away from us. On my first ride up early that morning, the lights from the small desert towns and highways had shone like a vast phosphorescent web. Now the clusters of buildings looked like grey smudges against the red sand.
“I told you I’m not ready,” I said.
The elevator shuddered to a halt and a warning announcement played. Sven grabbed my helmet and jammed it onto my head. “No one’s ever ready,” he said, knocking gently on the top of my helmet with his knuckles. My visor hissed shut, cutting off my retort. Easy for you to say, I thought. Talented bastard.
My feet felt like lead as I shuffled back onto the amateurs’ platform, waiting in line for my turn. My stomach crawled with nausea. With zero points in the first round, I was hosed; there was no way I wasn’t going to come dead last. All those hours and hours of practice, for nothing.
Through my headset I heard the announcers calling Sven’s name. From a different platform, much higher than mine, I saw him wave to the swarm of hovering cameras. The announcer rattled off Sven’s long list of accolades. I wanted so badly to be up there with him. Not as a training buddy but as an equal – a serious competitive threat.
Then my light turned green and I felt a sudden wave of vertigo. With a deep breath I stepped into the thin atmosphere and dropped from the platform. Maybe I’ll just fall fast and straight, I thought. Get this over with nice and quick. Below me, the desert glowed red in the morning sun. The last of the stars were fading against the azure sky. It really was beautiful. I stretched open my arms and swooped, then curved my body around into a shallow spiral.
The cold air buffeted my suit and threatened to send me into another spin. I stabilised myself and then let my momentum carry me into a set of tight loops. I fluffed the exit, wobbling like a rank beginner. gently caress it, I thought, I’m already coming last. The judges would penalise me hard for repeating a move but I did it again anyway. I smiled: much better. My timer display flashed and I felt a surge of regret: 3 minutes, time up.
On the ground Sven was surrounded by fans and journos. He’d set a tournament record. Hoping he wouldn’t notice me I pulled off my helmet and slunk away.
“Where are you going? You’ve got one more round.” Sven’s arm thumped around my shoulders.
“I’m sorry,” I said, eyes locked on the ground.
Suddenly Sven pulled me into a hug, and I gasped as he crushed me against his chest. A surprised murmur rippled through his gaggle of admirers. “I’m really proud of you,” he said quietly.
I pulled back with surprise. His tousled hair was stuck to his face with sweat. Embarrassed, I pushed my own sweat-soaked bangs back off my forehead.
“Congratulations on your record,” I said.
It was Sven’s turn to look embarrassed. The journos were still staring at us. “Who cares about all that,” he said. “C’mon, I want to watch your next jump.”
Sven grabbed my hand and pulled me back into the elevator. Its silver cables shone in the sun. As we rose away from the red earth I felt myself lighten. My humiliation ebbed away and was replaced with growing excitement. I visualised my routine; this time, I’d show them what I could do.
I squeezed Sven’s hand.
“The view really is spectacular,” I said.
|# ? Aug 27, 2018 01:28|
Pete woke up early in the morning to find that the bomb was still wrapped around his neck. He was of two minds on the subject; on the one hand, having a bomb locked to your neck is a less than ideal way to go about living. On the other hand, it's better to wake up with a bomb wrapped around your neck than to have your head blown off and not wake up at all. He planned on waking up with a head for the foreseeable future.
"Count your blessings" was a thing his mother would say to him every night before she went out to blow strange men on familiar park benches. Actually now that he thought about it maybe she used to say "Count your money before you swallow a dick." She was always giving out good, practical advice like that.
On the way to the kitchen to throw a frozen waffle into the nuke machine, Paul noticed something unusual; a beautiful lady with eyes that sparkled like dull diamonds.
"Hello, Pete. You don't know who I am," said the mysterious woman with the cubic zirconium stuffed in her face. "But I know you. Very well indeed. I know how that bomb got strapped to your turkey neck, for instance."
Pete heard everything Dull Eyes said but he wasn't actually listening. Instead he allowed his eyes to wander the room in search of some sort of weapon. When they found their way back to Dull Eyes he was surprised to see she was pointing a garage opener at him.
"Don't get carried away, Pete," said Dull Eyes. "I'd hate to blow the slight contents of your head onto the walls of this quaint apartment. Now pick your jaw up off the floor and listen close. What I say next will be the difference between life with a head and death with a closed casket."
Pete grabbed his jaw and took a seat at a table on the opposite side of the room.
“Time falls short today,” Dull Eyes said. “So listen closely and maybe you'll leave this room alive. Or at least you'll leave in a bag as a beautiful corpse with head intact.”
Dull Eyes had his attention.
“There are three questions I must ask,” Dull Eyes said. “Three answers you must give. Answer in truth and I shall leave. Nod your head if you understand.”
Pete weighed his options. As far as he could tell, he had nothing to lose. He might even be able to come out ahead. Or a head. Pete shifted his neck and gave Dull Eyes her nod.
“Do you remember the name of your freshman year English teacher,” asked Dull Eyes.
“Yes. I do.”
“What was her name?”
“How did she die?”
“Her guts got pulled out during a plastic surgery. The doctors didn't know how to put them back in.”
“Where are we?”
“Who am I?”
“The lady with the detonator.”
And then the lady clicked the button and Pete's neck exploded inward and sent his brains onto the linoleum.
“That was four questions,” Dull Eyes said. “Guess I'll have to do this again.”
|# ? Aug 27, 2018 01:47|
Mao’s psyop song player headphones catch in the frame as she tumbles out onto the fire escape, ripping it away from her, leaving it inside. She doesn’t need the personal psyche esteem raising lyrics now. She needs to get out of here.
Her drone roomba went crazy when she couldn’t return its feelings, whipping around the room fast enough to break skin and bone. Mahalia never had this problem, but only because she’s always said “yes” when asked if she loved it. Psyop songs give her enough self esteem to do that without making her feel pathetic. The songs never worked that well for Mao.
Love frequencies might not be the only way to power something that sanitizes your whole flat with sweeps of theta energy, but the landlords got deep with the powers that be, pushed so they’re built that way, so they don’t suck up flat energy. At this point the landlords can’t be stopped.
She crashes into the railing, shoulder flaring, neck feeling whip lashed. She gets up, shuts the window, descends to Mahalia’s three flights down.
She knocks. Mahalia ambles over, one earbud in, opens it, stands aside as Mao enters. “I love you,” Mahalia calls over her shoulder at her drone.
“It didn’t ask,” Mao says.
“Empathy,” Mahalia says. “Maybe you should try it.” Mahalia listens to psyop songs every day, feels the need to spread the energy in a room wide radius.
“That’s why the psychic heart attack will kill me, right?” Mao says. “Because I don’t empathize with drones?”
Mahalia says something, but Mao digs out her phone to order chrono-sushi. She doesn’t like it, though it’s from the future, fresher than fresh. She likes the on-hold music, so different from the psyop songs she’s heard as long as she remembers.
In the future music is fetuses scraping womb walls, taped by pilled nano audio receivers. It carves her hollow, space to be filled with a wiser her, not reliant on sugar-sweet lyrics. She listens to it now, waits for a human voice. “Two moebius rolls,” she says when she gets one. She flips her phone closed, heads for Mahalia’s tap.
She fills a glass with tap water. In the future all fluorine is gone. Fluoride is needed to stop advanced tooth decay. Her back still turned, she hears Mahalia step aside, knows a vortex of time shifted atoms has coalesced and someone is stepping through onto Mahalia’s calligraphic carpet. She turns to hand the water over, goes blank.
Sushi is en-route to her face.
It’s over fast. She’s wiping the stuff away from her eyes, rice clumps falling, perfect symmetry lost, as the kid grabs Mahalia and pulls her through the vortex.
Mao looks at Mahalia’s drone, buzzing above the carpet, waiting for commands. She thinks about the blood price, leaves the sushi where it is, smeared across calligraphy lines like spilled ink.
The muta-allergies are hyperendemic. Everyone’s infected. Mao can almost feel the weight of germs as she walks. She needs a new drone to fight the one that’s lost it in her flat.
The store is full of new models. She reads between sale pitch lines to discern that they’re all needy. The sales clerk reads her face.
“Perhaps this spellbot will interest you,” he says, calling it with a whistle. “It uses arcane magicks instead of theta rays to clean. A little pricey, though.”
She thinks about it. If what she gets loses, her old drone will be even more ticked. Even if both are destroyed, she’ll have nothing to sanitize her after the trip outside. The muta-allergies could kill her before the heart attack does. Magick could be the edge she needs.
She buys the spellbot, tells it to follow her and sets off home, hoping she chose right. Maybe there is no choice. Everything’s set in stone, from the bot showdown, to the heart attack, to this timeline’s causal path to the defluorinated future. She feels it all press down on her, each problem bruising like her shoulder bruised, like a hail of falling angels.
She has to pass the Hall of Dead Roombas to get to her flat. The shell piles are kept around to send a message. These drones died because you all failed them. The real horror here, though, is landlord run-ins.
Her landlord hangs here because death makes him feel at home. He’s leaning against shells, smoking, mocking his own rules, because landlords have reached that higher moral plane. He grins at her, sawtooth. “A new roomba? How much did that set you?”
She fumes. “You’ll know when my income comes in and you work your percentage.”
His tone evens. “Whatever you’re up to, you should get set for your heart attack. I don’t want to lose you.”
“We lost Mahalia,” she says. “A chrono-sushi kid grabbed her. I don’t know why.” His eyes flicker as he crushes the smoke. Does he?
He waves her on. She thinks if her spellbot wins, she’s gonna sanitize twice.
“Get ready,” she tells it outside her flat. She unlocks the door, backs up, throws her shoulder into it, rolls inside as the spellbot flies in overhead.
Her old drone fires theta rays, but her spellbot is faster. It dodges around at almost sonic speed, hits weird angles, and Mao, from the floor, gets that it’s bounced around in a pentagram.
Her old drone falls to the bare wood, cracks like a womb scrape sample, lies still.
A psychic attack, she thinks. It froze the love frequency like the psychic will freeze my heart.
“Do you love me?” it asks, voice pillow soft. She thinks. The psyop song player rests by the window. She picks it up, grasps the spellbot, fixes the headphones to it, presses play. The lyric is a whisper she strains to hear.
~Your charisma is like daylight~
Was that meant for her? Or was it about her spellbot’s strange presence? As her spellbot sanitizes her, killing 99.999 percent of her microorganisms, she feels those fallen angels ascend, beating their wings, thrumming a song God can’t resist.
The psychic wrenched her brainwaves to summon her to the witch district. They’re in a booth cut off from light except one glowing candle.
The psychic peers from a black cloak, a wizened face casing eyes the colour of diamonds. “Your heart is dark to the touch.”
“Get it over with,” Mao says.
She feels each ventricle freeze. She dies, her brain releasing endorphins, sees the void, between the entropic rhythms of lost atoms.
She comes back gasping, tries to slow her breath. Her throat gulps fast as the drone battle.
“The psyop song?” she says when she can.
“Accept your state,” the psychic says, like she’s deaf.
Mao can’t. She thinks about Mahalia, about the chrono-sushi kid and the landlords. They’ve got us caught up, she thinks, powerless.
Her spellbot hovers outside. She re-leashes it to the player, focuses. The psychic started Mao’s heart as easily as stopping it.
“Can your resurrect your kind?” she says, her feelings hope concentrate.
The spellbot hovers up, down. The Hall of Dead Roombas it is. Her dark heart still beats. Soon she’ll have an army.
|# ? Aug 27, 2018 02:47|
Week CCCXVI: Measure Twice, Cut Once
Flash Rule Race Against Time
When Jason drops me off at the trailhead, his stubble grazes my cheek as he kisses me gently with a confident, “You got this. I’ll see you on Tuesday night.”
He waits in the lot for me to disappear up the trail. Buoyed by the sense of being alone, I lengthen my stride. The night before, Jason carefully weighed each part of my pack – double checking my math down to the fractional ounce. I knew it was about thirty eight pounds, significantly more than the recommended percentage of my body weight.
I couldn’t feel the excess yet. The first few miles are always the same, long strides and the weight settling on my hips easily. There’s no blisters yet, the sweat hasn’t slicked away the layer of bug repellant and the sunscreen is holding strong. Jason had quietly disagreed with the extra precautionary pounds, pointing out how well-marked the trail was and our previous experience traveling it. I referenced the ten essentials and whined about needing more than trail mix to eat.
The last three weeks were filled with imagining how the unlikely could overlap with the disastrous on a wilderness trail. It didn’t seem so scary last year when Jason led me silhouetted against the grand vistas, glancing over his shoulder with a patient smile as I struggled in his wake. When the stars wheeled over our heads as we slept without a tent, I felt grounded where our shoulders touched, listening to his soft voice defining the constellations. Covered in dirt and sweat and DEET, I finished that trip bone-tired and so wildly in love with Jason I proposed in the weeks after.
He accepted. The date is next month, an August wedding.
Which is why he was incredulous when I announced this trip. “We are getting married next month.” He kept repeating, to which I parried, “And what is left to be done?” The details were all finalized, the contractors all booked, the strawberry cake with lemon buttercream frosting tasted. I also couldn’t shake the feeling of something left unproven on this mountain. Some part of me that hadn’t been enough to carry my own weight or contribute in any way besides company. I could select photography packages and haggle with DJs, but a childhood without Boy Scouts and camping had left me unprepared to adventure with Jason for the rest of our lives.
This was my way to prove to myself that I was enough for him; that I could stretch my comfort zone.
By mile six, I am sick of the sound of my own breathing. The beautiful birdsongs are white noise. Another vista passes by to my right, ignored as I huff and gasp after the ascent. I’ve already seen three others, and nature views are blurring together. I am getting a sun burn.
By mile ten, everything hurts and I have no idea why I wanted to do this for three more days. This was a lot more fulfilling when I could stare at Jason’s perfect rear end for the entirety of the trip, his voice casually breaking up the silence by naming a tree or mushroom I wouldn’t have noticed. Now all I can hear is my pulse in my ears, my breathing ragged as the extra weight is made very evident by the burning in my calves.
When I unpack my bag at the end of the day, I’m chewing on one of the heavy bars of sausage I insisted on bringing. It tastes like regret. All of my supplies look so excessive scattered out like this. My heels are a battered mess of blisters that have burst and then sloughed away.
Thirty more miles to go.
I fall asleep as soon as I wriggle into the sleeping bag, before the stars have even come out.
I wake knowing something is wrong.
Jason once described a cougar stalking him. He could sense it in his gut, a cold dread that prickled the back of his neck and whispered “Look behind you.” I feel it now, staring at the plume of smoke rising from the way I came. It’s huge and black, guttering into the otherwise blue sky from a single point that’s spreading too fast to be a campfire anymore.
It feels hollow as I say it. I’m on one of those beautiful vistas, and my mouth is dry as I watch a wildfire start at the base of the mountain I’m perched on. Of course there’s no service. I keep staring at my phone’s screen like it’s going to help, like I can call Jason and he can tell me which way to go and what to do now. The Satellite locator seemed so excessive, but I would slap down $350 to have one right now.
How fast can a fire move?
As if to answer my question, the wind picks up the smoke and blows it my way like a cat playing with its prey.
I shove back on my shoes and begin re-organizing my pack. I’m dumping food out as I spread the map to look at the patchwork quilt of roads and trails, my focus narrowing on the best way out. I hope some distant fire lookout has sounded the alarm, that someone can get me out of here if I can get to a road. I can’t wait any longer with the wind whipping like this. One last look at the map, and I start walking.
I’m moving fast, a steady five mile per hour clip without a break to even piss. The wind is moving this fire faster though. I can’t get a signal for long enough to send out a text message, though I keep trying. The words “There’s a fire. I love you. I’m going to road 23” glare uselessly up at me from the screen. I have a full battery, for all he good it does me. I can smell smoke now, and it’s hotter than the midday sun accounts for.
The adrenaline wore off in the first hour, and I know my sock is soaked with blood from the new blisters. I keep moving, purposefully checking the map I almost didn’t pack, and comparing it to the compass I hold away from my body like a beacon in the night. The birds went silent a long time ago, but there are other things moving through the trees, deer and smaller woodland creatures fleeing along the same path as me.
I hit road 23 stumbling. I keep imagining I can hear things popping and sizzling behind me. I realize before the truck hits me that it’s the sound of gravel crunching underneath the tires of an oncoming Jeep, not the fire at my back. The Forest Service vehicle slams on the brakes, the ranger sparing no niceties as she shouts, “Get in.”
It’s not until we’re on the main highway and I’ve stopped shaking she looks back at the map and compass in my hands and ruefully laughs.
“Glad you packed those?”
“Yeah,” I admit, trying to get the taste of smoke out of my mouth with another swig of water, “Even happier my fiancé taught me to use them.”
|# ? Aug 27, 2018 03:45|
Morgan melted in the rain. The first fat drops turned his flesh to a pink mess slipping down onto the asphalt below him. He felt little other than an uncomfortable dampness as he liquefied, until the sky opened and the rain came in torrents, stripping his skull bare. When his bones became pitted and cracked, then came the pain, the agony, and the terror as the whole of his sensorium became pure white blinding torture, time dilating with each instant stretching beyond twice the last. That last realization cut through the physical pain, the knowledge that he would no more reach the release of death than Xeno’s arrow could it's target.
“Is good, yes?” said the hexmonger. “The, what you say, subjective duration depends on the stength of the target’s wards. If they're weakened it could seem like years.”
“And if the target has no wards at all?” said Morgan, examining the hex container
It looked like an old airplane liquor bottle, unlabeled and pale pink.
“No wards?” he repeated. “Hard to say how long they'd feel it. From the outside it would be over in a few seconds. Use a hex like this on an unprotected mundane and their soul will burn right off in a few seconds. Lots of easier ways to punish someone like that. Lots of cheaper ways.”
“How much?” said Morgan. The merchant named a figure with eight digits in it. Morgan whistled, and his tablet leapt from pocket to hand. His fingerprint activated the wire transfer.
Julius the Hexmonger turned the crank on the engine of the world, the eight numbers that were the hidden name of his most dark Goddess moving from account to account, measuring themselves in dollars, yen, pounds, rubles, dividing and combining and straddling the globe. Eventually they will divide and divide into degraded and inflated and devalued scrips, where those eight figures can barely purchase a glass of water, and fade into worthlessness when the local tyrant removes a handful of zeroes from all debts and credits.
The great wheel turned and traded the Hexmonger’s prayers for power.
“You know why you, why all of you always fail?” said the Goddess of Capitalism. She was more than a little drunk on power and dreams and ambrosia, and the club was loud and crowded, full of ascended heroes and demigods and great elder things bumping and grinding to the sick electronica beats, but she and the man in the bright red suit could hear and understand each other perfectly. Of course.
“Do tell me,” he said. He was sober, more than sober, coming down off a cocaine high but not ready for another bump.
“It’s because it’s a, it’s a contradiction in terms. You can’t really have a God of Socialism, cause you all got to be equal. Can’t have an all-powerful god up in there, can’t give any power to priests or teach spells to wizards or nothing.” She was on a roll, and he let her go on. “Only three stable, stable.” She waved herself sober for a second to get through the word. “Equilibria with one group of people having special powers the rest don’t. Either they get to be the masters, or they have to be slaves, or else someone has to kill every last one of them. You know what I say?”
“Could I stop you from telling me?”
“I say screw stable. Just keep it all moving forever, thanks to the equalizing chaos of the greenback and the revolver.” She poked one of her compatriots, who was nodding to the beat, barely awake. “Remind me to get them to make more Westerns this decade. I like a good Western.”
He stood up. “I’m sure I’ll take your advice under consideration. I should correct your assumption, though. I am no God of Socialism.”
“Really?” she said, in a practiced, unappealing leer.
“No. I am a God of Revolution.”
There was a man who offended a wizard. It was not his intention. He scarcely could be said to have had any intentions at all. He drank too much one night, and lacking good friends or judgment to guide him otherwise, stepped into his car. The wizard’s daughter, along with her best friend and her parents, were in another car that happened to be on the same road, moving in the opposite direction.
More than a decade later, the state was done punishing the man, but not the wizard. A few weeks of going to the same watering hole had brought a certain amount of trust. A drink was left unattended. Pink liquid was added to yellow, and the wizard left with confidence. A soul experienced an eternity of pain in an instant as it was wicked out of its body.
There once was a day when losing a soul would end the life of a person, right there. Like the tonsil or the appendix, the parts of our biology linking mind to soul have atrophied in the modern life. Many live their lives barely ever noticing their own soul. This was such a man. His soul went to its punishment, but his mind and body went right on with the daily routines of sleep, work, drink, and the occasional joyless hook-up negotiated in cash or alcohol.
Soullessness is contagious, however. The mind abhors the vacuum left by its absence, and with physical or social contact it will strip away weakly-connected souls. It cannot hold on to them, but it can neither return them from whence they came.
And so began the spread of a new viral nihilism. People have always entertained passing thoughts: ‘What if I swerved into the sidewalk?’ ‘Wouldn’t this building look better on fire?’ Their souls rebelled at them, or, occasionally, revelled in them. Without souls, the meat-computers found them interesting exercises, or options as good as any other that presented themselves. ‘How many people did that last shooter kill?’ ‘Could I do them better?’
And the God of Revolution, riding the peak of a speedball combo, looked down on his work and laughed.
|# ? Aug 27, 2018 03:54|
Planning and Action
I was digging in the gravel maybe ten feet from the monkey bars when Rick spooked Mazda, so I saw the whole thing: Mazda lunging for the next bar, Rick shuffling up behind her, then Rick shouting "Honk honk!" like the assmaster he is and Mazda hitting the ground with a gritty thump. Rick ran off, howling. Mazda pushed herself up. Blood dripped from her nose and streaked down the front of her shirt.
Rick's a dick, as everybody knows--I bet even his parents whisper it to each other when he's asleep--and him pulling mean stunts was nothing new, but it bugged me to see him turn his dick ways on Mazda. I sort of admired her. She ignored jokes about her name so completely that only Rick still made them, and when you're a guy called Nate who's actually Ignatius and who lives in fear of the class finding that out, that much cool is impressive.
"Gonna tell Mr. Hawkins?" I asked her.
Mazda pinched her nose shut. It stained her fingers red. She grimaced at the marks on her shirt and shook her head.
"You ought to do something," I said.
"Yeah," she said, her voice nasal and weird. "Like wash up."
She sprinted for the school doors, and I scanned the playground until I spotted Rick. Not a hard thing to do with him standing on the end of the slide, shouting that he was the Slide Lord. That was part of his regular recess routine.
"Hey, Rick, get down a minute," I said, walking over.
He looked at me for a second. Then he jumped down and stood so close he was breathing in my face, like tuna-salad breath was supposed to be proof of his dominion. I punched him in the chin.
Later, Mazda came up to where I was sitting on the bench outside the principal's office. She'd cleaned up her nose, but blood had gotten on her jeans, too, and the clothes were a loss. mHer arms were folded like my mom's are whenever I do something stupid. "You're welcome," I snapped before she could say anything.
Mazda said, "You shouldn't have done that. He's just smug now because you got in trouble." She paused. "Are you in trouble?"
"They'd send me home if my parents weren't at work. But the principal didn't shout as much after I told her why I did it."
"Why did you?"
I shrugged. "'Cause Rick's a dick."
Mazda started to smile, then winced and stopped. Her mouth was kind of puffy from the fall. She sat down on the bench beside me and handed me a notebook. "Ever try something like this?"
Flipping it open, I found drawings, with words between them to explain what the heck I was looking at. A stick-figure Rick stood in front of a ball. The words told me the line under the ball was supposed to be a string. The string held down a bent tree branch, and a board was balanced in the tree above it, and on the end of the board--right above Rick's head--was a bunch of circles. Paint balloons, I guessed: the rest of drawings showed the trap in motion, and the last one covered Rick in aggressively scribbled blue ink.
"Is this like Mousetrap?" I asked.
"You've heard of that game?"
"My mom likes to play."
"My dad and I don't play," Mazda said. "We just set up the trap and make it go. That's the idea, though, yeah. He'd pick up the ball--"
"How's a ball going to hold the string down?"
"It'd have to be a bowling ball," she admitted.
I shook my head. "Wouldn't work. Plus if you put all this stuff in a tree, somebody would notice it. Then the branch probably wouldn't hit the board right. You'd have to tie down the string, and--"
Mazda pulled her notebook out of my hands and gave me a death stare. "Look, Nate, I'm not dumb. I'm not going to try this for real. Drawing it out just made me less mad without landing me in the principal's office, okay?"
"Oh. Sorry, I get it. But it won't make Rick leave you alone, and you can't ignore him. He's too stupid."
Again she tried to smile and failed. She touched her puffy mouth and her nose. "I've noticed. I'll think about a simpler plan." Mazda got up and walked toward the cafeteria, but she stopped long enough to call back, "Thanks, Nate."
I didn't count on anything more happening at school, but I hadn't reckoned on just how much of a booger Rick was. He pestered Mazda so much on the playground that even Mr. Hawkins noticed and made him write sentences, and that didn't help worth squat. But every time Mazda caught my eye, she'd shake her head a little. So I didn't punch Rick again. I just really wanted to.
Then one morning I opened my desk and found a note inside, in handwriting I recognized from Mazda's revenge plan. Come to the slide at recess?
She ran for the slide as soon as Mr. Hawkins let us out of lunch, her red braids flying, and I hung back to see what she was going to do. She jumped up onto the end of the slide and shouted, "I am the Slide Lord! Slide Lord Mazda!"
"Hey!" Rick yelled, taking off for his territory.
I made it there almost as soon as he did. He glared at Mazda and balled up his fists. "I'm the Slide Lord, so get off."
She folded her arms and raised her chin. "I claim the slide by right of being the one standing on it." Taking a deep breath, she yelled, "I am the Slide Lord!" across the yard at the top of her lungs. Mr. Hawkins heard her and looked our way.
If Rick pushed Mazda or hit her with a teacher watching, he'd be in trouble for sure, and his face said he knew it. It said he might not care for long, too. I made the jump and stood behind Mazda on the slide. "I'm Slide Lord Nate!"
Rick said, "There can't be two Slide Lords!"
"Slide Lords make the Slide Lord rules," Mazda said.
Another girl in our class hopped up behind me, grabbing my shoulder for balance. "Slide Lord Maureen!"
"I am the Slide Lord!" said Damon, a boy smart enough to stick to touching the side of the slide.
Mazda spread her arms wide. "Welcome, Slide Lords. How fine to rule the slide this day!"
Rick did push her then. But I braced for the impact, and behind me, Maureen braced too. None of us fell. Damon's whoop got drowned out by Mr. Hawkins' whistle.
"You think he'll leave us alone now?" Mazda asked me on the way back to the classroom. She'd been grinning ever since Mr. Hawkins had dragged Rick away. "Or get worse?"
"Could be either," I admitted. "Either way, that was a great plan."
Mazda beamed at me. "Thanks, Nate."
"Ignatius," I said. "But only to you!"
|# ? Aug 27, 2018 03:57|
Submissions are now closed.
|# ? Aug 27, 2018 10:27|
Week 316 - Results
Okay, this was a bit of a mixed bag this week. The judges couldn't really agree on much - to the point that one judge's winner was another's loser and vice-versa. Both Fumblemouse and Bad Seafood were of great help but at the end of the day I had to bring together a final decision.
First up: the people who failed to submit. Come on.
The loser this week is AllNewJonasSalk with Boom Room. Although short and refreshingly strange I'm really not seeing the prompt connection.
The dishonorable mention goes to spectres of autism with Myocardia. This was a trip and a half and I can definitely see the appeal of the sheer strength of the weirdness but it's all just a bit too much. This was one of the more polarising entries, to say the least.
I'm giving the honorable mention to Thranguy with Seeds. Some great descriptions and really cool ideas that just needed a little more to tie them together.
The win this week goes to Yoruichi with Heights. You crammed some strong background detail and worldbuilding in very efficiently and dealt with both the prompt and your flash rule really well. Congratulations! Take the jump elevator up to your seat on the blood throne!
I'll have crits up in the next day or two.
|# ? Aug 27, 2018 22:09|
As a terrible failure, I'll to do crits within 48 hours, and also to put in a story for this week.
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 01:28|
WEEK 316 CRITS OH BOY
By Ashwat (Your story must take place during a torrential thunderstorm)
By Yoruichi (Your story must take place at dawn)
By AllNewJonasSalk (your story must have multiple characters, none of whom know each other)
By Specters of Autism
By Lippincott (Your story must feature a race against the clock)
By Thranguy (Two of your characters must absolutely despise one another)
Kaishai for winner, Yoruichi for HM, but it's close.
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 01:53|
Thunderdome Week 317: Power Trippin'
MWA HA HA HA HAAAAAA! I WON! YUSS! WOO! I'M THE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING! (For this week anyway)
So, seeings how it has clearly gone to my head, let's use that as the prompt: Power
To be clear, I'm looking for stories about the power relationships between people - about the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which we piss on the edges of our territory, manipulate others and jostle for position in whatever real or imagined hierarchies are important to us.
If that's too vague ask for a flash rule and I'll give you a powerful figure to write about.
You may have 1400 words.
Sign-ups close 7pm Saturday 1 September in NZ time
The deadline is 5pm Monday 3 September in NZ time (do not gently caress up and submit 24 hours late because you can't do time zones)
The ruling elite:
Yoruichi-dono, Queen of Everything
Dictator and Petty Tyrant Curlingiron
Antivehicular, the Countess of Word Count
1. Sebmojo (the world's most talented wizard, but whose talent is the least recognised)
2. RandomPauI (The keeper of knowledge, the holder of truth - the Archivist)
3. Thranguy (The captain's mistress)
4. Staggy (The only one who doesn't actually care)
5. BabyRyoga (the former alpha male/female)
6. CascadeBeta (the one everyone turns to)
7. Pham Nuwen (The spinner of tales, the bringer of joy - the entertainer)
8. ThirdEmperor (The writer of rules, the guardian of policies - the Bureaucrat)
9. AllNewJonasSalk (the President’s therapist)
10. Erainor (the one that got there first)
11. Solitair (the one who saw everything)
12. apophenium (the last holder of a valuable piece of knowledge)
13. Fleta Mcgurn (the inheritor of a dangerous birthright)
14. M. Propagandalf
15. Invisible Clergy (the first to escape)
18. Fumblemouse (really, REALLY good at maths)
Yoruichi fucked around with this message at Sep 1, 2018 around 06:38
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 08:40|
I'm in, but I'm wary about writing about real life people right now.
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 09:04|
Flash me up, nothing to do with horses
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 09:04|
Flash me up, nothing to do with horses
Your powerful figure is: the world's most talented wizard, but whose talent is the least recognised
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 09:09|
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 09:09|
I'll chance the flash
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 09:11|
Your powerful figure is: The captain's mistress
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 09:14|
I'll chance the flash
You get: The keeper of knowledge, the holder of truth - the Archivist
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 09:15|
In, flash rule please.
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 09:41|
In, flash rule please.
Your powerful figure is: The only one who doesn't actually care
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 09:46|
Ok, I will go in with a flash please!
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 11:11|
I'd like to judge, if it pleases the Queen.
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 11:19|
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 11:21|
In, and flash me
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 12:25|
In, and I'll humbly beseech the throne for a flash rule.
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 12:51|
I'm in and I want another toxx. This week I'm going for the gold! Flash me.
AllNewJonasSalk fucked around with this message at Aug 28, 2018 around 14:44
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 14:20|
I'd like to judge, if it pleases the Queen.
It pleases me indeed
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 19:39|
Ok, I will go in with a flash please!
Your powerful figure is: the former alpha male/female
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 19:44|
|# ? Mar 25, 2019 09:43|
Your powerful figure is: The one everyone turns to
|# ? Aug 28, 2018 19:45|