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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Invisible Clergy posted:

"Consorting with Kiwis" is my favorite book in the enchanted forest chronicles.

mm interesting sounds like you want that flash rule after all:
your characters are kiwis or magic trees

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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

MockingQuantum posted:

I can judge, though it means dealing with the time difference

By which I mean me having to debase myself by consorting with kiwis

I take offense to the pluralization of kiwis; I would never stoop so low as to be a kiwi.

Welcome aboard!

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012



Gun Saliva

Sitting Here posted:

I take offense to the pluralization of kiwis; I would never stoop so low as to be a kiwi.

Welcome aboard!

I've always assumed seb is a singularity-like cyberpunk amalgamation of New Zealander sheep bent on world domination.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010



MockingQuantum posted:

I've always assumed seb is a singularity-like cyberpunk amalgamation of New Zealander sheep bent on world domination.

The O.V.I.S. Collective

flerp
Feb 25, 2014



in

derp
Jan 21, 2010


Lipstick Apathy

hi hello i will do it.

thank you and good day.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry


Emotions: Proud, uncomfortable



derp posted:

hi hello i will do it.

thank you and good day.

Emotions: Grieving, embarrassed

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



sebmojo posted:

If you don't like your emotions then for a reroll

give me a reroll
since i already toxxed here's for judgecrits for week 285 by the time subs close this week

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Djeser posted:

give me a reroll
since i already toxxed here's for judgecrits for week 285 by the time subs close this week

Anguish, ennui

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Also for djeser: Exulansis

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

SH/FUMBRAWL ENTRY

ThirdEmperor posted:

Alright you two.

By Midnight September 11th PST
in 1500 words
You will give me a story Where the world is ending and I feel fine
Notice the 'I' there. Stories must be in the first person.


The Small World at the End
1500 words

No one went on TV and told us the world was going to end. We had to work it out for ourselves. The president, congress, and their buddies had scuttled off to some bunker or spaceship and were never seen again. Soon after, the internet went out, then television, until the airwaves were empty except the for ancient murmur of radio chatter.

That was how the news reached Lummi island: a whisper in the night, picked up by the orphaned coast guard ship moored near the ferry dock.

The major cities were tearing themselves apart, the whisper over the radio told us. In some of the smaller towns, old and new religions flourished. The precise nature of our impending end was unclear, but the whisper reported that it had already consumed the eastern half of the north american continent and was pushing west.

Here on the island, we carried on like nothing had changed. The sky was still cloudy, the birds still sang. Retirees mowed their lawns or sat in the rare sun on squeaky lawn chairs.

Across the water, the mainland went dark and quiet.

David took me to the Salish Inn, a fancy restaurant we’d always dreamed of patronizing. A sign on the front door announced this would be their last week of service due to a shortage of ingredients. I shivered in my dress as the autumn wind kissed my bare back, but then David’s warm hand pressed gently between my shoulder blades, ushering me into the rustic, intimate space.

“I’m glad it’s us. Sharing this, I mean,” David said after we’d been seated.

I laughed. “I hope so. You don’t want a bad dinner partner at the end of the world.”

“I meant—look, we don’t get to get married. We don’t get to have kids. But we have this...thing we’re going to go through together. Who knows.” He took an unsteady breath. “I’m trying to think of it as an adventure.”

I sipped my water, trying to swallow the hitch in my throat. “I thought we’d at least wait for cocktails before breaking out the heavy talk.”

His eyes were luminous brown, like a muddy pond gilded by sunlight. It seemed to me that maybe, if I tried very hard, I could keep staring into his eyes and stop time around us. We could live together in the small world of a shared look, forever.

“I can’t compartmentalize like you can,” he said. “We’re only here, blowing half a paycheck on dinner, because of—” he gestured eastward, toward the end of the world.

I reached across the table, took his hand in mine. “No,” I said. “We’re here because we’re in love.”

We dined on fresh greens, local berries, and prawns wrapped in nasturtium leaves. Later that night, when David was fast asleep, I lay in bed and wondered what it meant to be alive in the shadow of impending death.

.

The days leading up to the end of the world passed as a series of small infinities within a rapidly diminishing window of time. We stopped going to work. The tiny cluster of businesses at the center of town went dark for good.

It was the boredom that got to me.

There was nothing to do; why patch a roof or weed a garden when, in days or weeks or months, it would all cease to exist? There was only so much David and I could do for each other in those long, brief hours. We cooked. We hosed. We read books, watched and re-watched the handful of movies we had on DVD.

I walked.

I hated myself, a little, on those afternoons where I left the house, but even at the end of time, David and I needed our space.

I walked for an hour, found myself at the small ferry dock, and looked east, toward the mainland, trying to imagine what our impending doom might look like. Was there a faint black smear on the far horizon? I squinted, wishing I’d brought my binoculars.

“Sorry,” said a familiar voice.

I turned around in spite of myself. There was Antoine, his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans, eyes pointed down at his feet.

“If you were sorry to see me, you would’ve left without saying anything.” I made sure to keep my voice cool and even. Unyielding.

Antoine shrugged, looked past me, toward the horizon. “I was going to take a boat. To the mainland, I mean. See if I can find supplies, or…”

I laughed once, a sharp, bitter exhale. “For what, exactly? You throwing a party?”

He shrugged again, still not meeting my eyes. “Something to do, I guess.”

I nodded. “Fair enough.”

“You could come with me,” he said. “Wouldn’t be gone long.”

I took a step backward. “I could,” I said, “but I don’t think I will.”

He looked at me then, with eyes as grey as David’s were brown. “Fair enough.” He went to get into the little powerboat moored off the side of the dock, making a show of giving me wide berth.

“Wait,” I said.

.

The roar of the motor and salt-wind in my face temporarily let me forget I was in a boat with the man who might’ve been the end of my relationship with David. I focused on the mainland, scanning for signs of movement.

When we reached the dock at Gooseberry Point, Antoine hopped effortlessly out of the boat, then extended a hand to help me up. I gave him a look and hauled myself onto the dock.

“Now what?” I asked.

“We look around,” he said. “Town’s mostly empty. Couple folks are sticking it out, and they got all the non-perishable food. But they don’t mind us looking around for whatever else.”

We walked up the main road, which ran parallel to the shoreline and was dotted with eclectic homes and mom ‘n pop businesses, all dark and empty. I tried not to think about Antoine. Walking together, like the couple we might’ve been, made me want to recklessly collapse the small infinities between us.

There was little of interest to be found in the unlocked buildings, and neither of us felt like breaking and entering. We went to the beach instead, stood side by side, looked back at the island.

“I’m happy there’s an end of the world,” Antoine said after a while.

“I didn’t come out here for some heavy poo poo,” I said.

“No, I mean—it would be sad, if the whole thing just tapered off. At least there’s a definite end, like the last page of a book.”

I pondered that for a moment. There was peace in the idea that we were not so much victims of untimely demise as we were simply the last few words in a long, dog-eared story.

“I miss you,” he said, because there was no reason not to say it.

I swallowed. “You too.” My voice came out as a croak.

God, I wanted Antoine still. It was obscene. I half-wished the end of the world would take me right then and there; I didn’t deserve to die next to David. But there it was, a kind of livid energy inside me, lightning racing through my veins, a feast that was hunger and a hunger that was a feast.

I was so hideously, wonderfully alive.

Antoine must’ve seen the anguish on my face because he took a step back, stumbled on an errant rock lodged in the sand.

By reflex I reached out to steady him, but as soon as I felt the heat of him against my palm, I regretted it. We stood there, my hand on his arm, his eyes fixed on mine, both of us locked in our small, mutual prison. It was there, in the space between us: All the sneaking around. All the lying to our friends and respective lovers.

But there was the love, too. Our mutual desire to never bring about that sort of pain again. Our worry for each other, here at the end of everything.

“We could, but we won’t,” he said softly, and pulled his arm from my grip.

I turned my back to the island, faced the inscrutable east. Death was coming. There would be no more seasons, no more reasons to patch roofs or weed gardens. But here, in this living moment, within this small infinity, we could still do something right.

We went back to the boat.

“We’re the last people who will ever do the right thing,” I said as we walked. “After we’re gone, there will only be things. It’s people who make them right or wrong.”

“I didn’t come out here for this heavy poo poo,” Antoine teased, cuffing me lightly on the shoulder. I cuffed him back, and we left it at that.

I couldn’t stop the end of the world, but I could go back home with a clean conscience, and in this time of small, collapsing infinities, that was enough.

Lead out in cuffs
Sep 18, 2012

Tanz mit laibach

Im der Pfunderdome!



gently caress it, I don't have plans this weekend.

In.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Lead out in cuffs posted:

gently caress it, I don't have plans this weekend.

In.

Delight, terror

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

Judgeburps for Week 317: Power Trippin'

These are all very short impressions of my train of thought while reading. If you'd like to talk more about your story you can try to catch me on IRC.


Eranior - "The one who was first"


Very flat and weirdly remote. The narrator's voice and perspective on the story was really removed, to the point where it seemed like it was supposed to be a children's story or a parable, but I don't think that's the tone you were going for. No one really struggled or changed at all (or at least not for any reason that I could see), and the jokes and pranks fell flat.

Score: 3/10


Chairchucker - I Want Candy

I thought this was kind of funny, but also it's just so clearly a Chairchucker story I can't tell if it's actually humorous or I just have Stockholm Syndrome. Either way:

Score: 4/10


Fleta McGurn - Give It to Your Brother


Not sure what happened here. It had some really good parts, but it needed some more explanation, and probably a few hundred more words. The ending wanted to be more impactful than it was, and I think context would have helped.

Score: 5/10


Staggy - Fast Talk

Silly, but not really in a good way. I didn't care about this person, and everyone was more or less a caricature. I'll also admit that I forgot about this story's existence almost immediately.

Score: 5/10


Pham Nuwen - At the White Horse

I thought this was cute. Probably very similar to what I would do in that situation, so it resonated with me. Moral of the story: I will not actually be of any use in an apocalypse survival scenario.

Score: 7/10


apophenium - Last Rites

Confusing. You clearly had an idea of something going on behind the scenes, but it didn't come through. I'd be interested to see this in a longer format and a few drafts later.

Score: 5/10


ThirdEmperor - Built on Sands

I quite liked this one, actually. A little odd in places, but I enjoyed the illusion and magic trick metaphor. The idea of reclassifying the commune as a lake via paperwork amuses me, thought I'm unclear on how that would help you evade taxes and evictions. This was actually my pick for winner, although obviously my cojudges disagreed.

Score: 8/10


Thranguy - Savage Skies of Venus

A little clunky, but cute. It would have been much better with a different ending, though.

Score: 6/10



sebmojo - Before Sunrise

This was very confusing and I didn't like it much. The action was nearly impossible to track and I didn't really care about the character at all. Maybe I'm just tired, though. I was the dissenting opinion on this story, obviously.

Score: 5/10


AllNewJonasSalk - He's the President


This was bad but also a little bit funny? The absurdity hit home for me, kind of. I like to imagine that this isn't actually the President's brain, and maybe this is just a crazy dude who found a jar of pickles somewhere and assumed it was a brain and built his own narrative out of that. The children are screaming because the man is covered in pickle juice and his own urine. In the end, he himself is the rabid dog that eats the President's brain. I choose to live in the universe where this is true.

Score: 4/10


Solitair - We Can Work It Out

Phoebe! No, Rachel! No, Phoebe again! Typos aside, everyone in this story was kind of awful, and I had trouble caring about them. Sorry. :/

Score: 5/10


Invisible Clergy - Freefall

For being as clunky as it was, this was decent enough. Silly and not terrifically memorable, but I understood what was happening and why, which was actually an accomplishment for this week. Good job?

Score: 6/10


BabyRyoga - Full Measure, or "All Four Inches"

Please just translate the Japanese. There's no reason to do this, and it alienates your readers. If you want to communicate that your character doesn't understand, just say that. If your character does understand, just write it in English and mention it was in Japanese in the attribution. Also, I regret reading this. How do I like this less than the "FIRST" story???? My pick for loss.

Score: 2/10


Fumblemouse - Powerless

Okay, I was annoyed with some of the stuff at the beginning, but it *kind of* saved itself with the story devices. Taking away a woman's agency (and OF COURSE it's the woman in the copy room, because men are mathematics PhDs and women are secretaries, right???) is never a good plot point. Don't do it. I liked the idea of this, though, and wished that you had used it for basically anything else.

Score: My score for this fluctuated on this because I went back and forth on how much the female agency issue bothered me. Eventually the meter settled on "exasperated, but in a resigned way," so you got a 6/10


M. Propagandelf - Supplicant

This was just sad. I feel sad now. What was the point of this?

Score: 4/10 if it hadn't been a DQ

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


in

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk


Anger, glee

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

i don't think i'll close off entries this week, just pick a couple of emotions and a picture if you want to write a story hell yeah fingerguns

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Once-and-future Queen of Everything Yoruichi vs. Former Sniveling Peasant ThirdEmperor Brawl Entry

And That’s How I Became the Lord of Hell
1135 words


The sun burned black and the sky turned the colour of blood the day the ground opened and swallowed the jugglers. Parents cried and hugged their sobbing, terrified children. I clenched my fists, dug my fingernails into my palms to stop the tears and swore an oath: I would get my girlfriend back.

It was the same all over the world. Jugglers and the unlucky juggler-adjacent fell, screaming, into sudden holes in the earth. That knife-spinning, jester-costumed bastard grabbed her arm and pointed in alarm at the suddenly blood-washed sky. Her coins spilled from her hand, missed the hat at his feet and scattered across the pavement. Then the juggler fell, and took my only love with him. I barely had time to move before the dirt crunched shut and Karen was gone.

International teams of investigators and scientists dug and scraped at the disappearance sites but found nothing. The next to go were the magicians. Under a bleeding sky and an ebony sun the earth opened thousands of mouths and swallowed them, leaving behind nothing but confused rabbits and playing cards drifting down through the air like red and black confetti.

I did not do my best to get on with my life. I couldn’t; I was alone. Nothing had meaning without my love. I stopped going to work and spent my days pacing the city. I repeated my oath, over and over, burying my grief under impotent rage. The next time the sun writhed and blackened and waves of blood surged across the sky I was in the middle of the city and I saw it: the first signs of a circle of asphalt dissolving into steam around black-booted feet. I sprinted, and got my arms around the police officer’s waist just as the ground disappeared. His mouth opened in a hoarse scream and together we dropped, an immeasurable distance, into Hell.

It was dark, and hot, and full of jugglers. The sulphuric air stung my eyes and nose. Tongues of flame slipped from cracks in the rock and licked at my ankles. I yelped, and low laughter rumbled through the cavern’s walls.

I grabbed the nearest juggler. “Where’s Karen?” I shouted. His face was grimy with soot and streaked with sweat. He kept his clubs spinning through the air even as I shook him.

“Try further in,” was all he could stammer.

I walked, the ground hissing against the soles of my boots, for what felt like days. The passage of time was impossible to measure. Magicians produced impossible white rabbits that immediately burst into flame. Sweat-soaked jugglers spun their clubs and moaned for water, while dead-eyed police waited, truncheons ready, lest any allowed their clubs to hit the ground. The scaled and horned denizens of Hell looked on and howled their amusement.

I heard, at last, the familiar tinkle of a jester costume covered in bells. The juggler’s knives glinted in the firelight as they spun. His face paint was streaked with tears and at his feet lay a woman’s body.

“Karen!” I screamed, and threw myself down upon her. But she was already stiff, and cold. I turned her lifeless face to mine and pressed my lips against her waxy cheek. It felt all wrong, a disgusting parody of a kiss. Overwhelmed by grief and revulsion I snatched one of the juggling knives from the air and slapped the flat side across the juggler’s face.

“What did you do to her?” I yelled, brandishing the knife.

He cowered, and the tang of urine hit my nose. “It was Satan!” he said. “He killed her!”

I clenched my fists, fingernails biting my palms. Satan. I swore a new oath: I would kill the Lord of Hell.

The ground shook and laughter echoed across the cavern. “So you wish to challenge me, mortal?” said a voice like hot wires stabbing into my ears.

I dropped to my knees with pain and He rose from a fissure on a gout of fire. My breath caught in my throat; He was devastatingly beautiful, like the smooth, translucent blue ice of a deep crevasse, right before you dash your brains out on rocks at the bottom. Strange forms writhed under the soft fabric of his tailored suit.

I hauled myself to my feet, ears bleeding, and thrust the juggling knife towards him.

“I will gently caress you up,” I said. “Slowly, so that you almost enjoy it.”

“What?” Satan’s face twisted with distaste. “To be honest I feel a little bit uncomfortable now.”

I dropped my arm to my side. “Oh, sorry, that came out way weirder than I meant it to,” I said.

There was a moment of awkward silence. Behind me lay Karen’s body, all that remained of the only person who had ever loved me. I repeated my oath to myself; my rage was righteous.

I whipped my arm up and hurled the juggling knife into the Devil’s throat. He was not expecting that. The knife plunged into His ice-white skin and black blood splashed out over His chest. He sank to his knees, hands wrapped around the knife’s handle.

Satan began to laugh, a hideous gurgling. Black bubbles oozed out over His lips.

“You’ll never see Karen again now!” He gurgled. “Her soul wasn’t destined for this place, but now you, you....” He crumbled to the ground, His last breaths expended in gasps of laughter and the soft popping of bubbles of blood.

I felt the many eyes of Hell’s winged and fanged creatures focus upon me. They began to howl and stamp, an exultant rhythm that echoed up and down the halls of Hell. The Devil’s body burst into flame. Oily black smoke billowed into a roiling cloud above the smoldering corpse, and then coalesced into a javelin of black flame, pointed straight at me.

Horrified, I stumbled backwards. I tripped over Karen’s body and fell, arms flailing. The javelin flew towards me with unholy speed and slammed into my mouth. Burning blackness flooded my being and with it came a tumble of memories and terrible, terrible knowledge. The Devil could not be killed. I had murdered His vessel, and now I would serve as the next.

***

I smoothed the fabric of my suit and reclined on my throne. I laughed; the tearful antics of the jingling fool before me were so amusing. I congratulated myself on my cleverness in bringing the jugglers here. But, it was not enough. Soon, my twisted and deformed children would tire of this act. I had to find something new to please them. I clenched my fists, and my long black claws bit my palms. I gazed up at the Underworld’s obsidian sky and swore an oath: I would make them love me, all of them, and then I would never be alone.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


but not in a nazi way since we have to specify that now.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

ThirdEmperor posted:

but not in a nazi way since we have to specify that now.

that chef only knows how to cook sauerkraut

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

sebmojo posted:

Gleeful, homesick




Funhouse
1236 Words

Yolanda blasted out of the rift portal like a pinball launch, rolling headlong before smashing into a bookcase. As far entrances into new dimensions went, she had suffered worse. Massaging her neck as she picked herself up from the wood splinters, she prepared herself for the next artifact she had to find in whatever this world had in store for her.

“My, my. What do we have here?”

Yolanda spun around. Standing before her was a man whose appearance was rather off-putting. It wasn’t so much the eye pendant with its gleaming stare nor was it the yolk-stained mask that reeked a matching odour. The man stood in place with his hands out, his fingers cycling the air in anticipation of Yolanda’s response. Something behind the whole appearance was troubling in a way she couldn't quite put her finger on, until it dawned upon her.

“You’re wearing blackface?!”

His fingers stopped cycling.

“Oh dear,” the man replied blinking rapidly, “Have I done something wrong? And here I thought you would be delighted in my Funday best.”

“You were expecting me?”

“But of course! There’s always a guest to prepare for on the day of Antishabbath. It only comes once a decade: the day where we have fun… to the extreme!”

He bowed as his arm spanned out to room before Yolanda. A warm incandescent light filled what appeared to be a lobby showcasing an array of beeping and buzzing contraptions. Somewhere in the distance, a steam organ was playing a melody off-key.

“What are all these?”

“Games! An infinity to choose and play from. You could lose yourself in the fun of it all.”

“Who else is here besides you?”

The exuberance in the man’s eyes dimmed at the question.

“Alas, you’re the only guest here at the moment. But we can make company with two. Whadda you say? How about we get going with a game? I’ll let you pick.”

“Do you win prizes from any of these games?”

“Why of course! Was there trinket of some sort you were hoping score?”

Yolanda shifted her backpack off and took out a book. Making a mental count to herself, she flipped the book to page 666.

“You have anything around here that looks like this?”

On the page was a pentagram, crudely drawn as though the illustrator had no writing instruments at hand and resorted to finger-painting with blood. At the center, a cartoonish, innocent face smiled.

“Ah! I know that one!” the man replied as he rubbed his hands together, “but it will be a bit of a challenge. Come with me to the Talon.”

The man pranced off as Yolanda followed suit. Passing by several game cabinets, they arrived before the game in question. The Talon turned out to be a claw crane game, at least this universe’s take on it, just with a more eldritch aesthetic. The claw seemed to be a fossilized talon dangling over various prizes of creatures, both dead and undead. The man peered through the glass of the unholy miniature menagerie before pointing excitedly.

“Aha! That’s what you’re looking for, isn’t it?”

Under a layer of the creatures, Yolanda spotted the prize: a blood-soaked pentagram plushie.

“It’s not smiling though,” Yolanda observed.

“It’s ticklish to the talon. When it gets tickled, it’ll smile.”

Yolanda pointed to the controls on the cabinet.

“So this game – you just control the talon and move it to whatever prize you want to try and grab it, right?”

The man turned to Yolanda. Behind the mask, his eyes widened.

“You know how to play this game?”

“We have something similar where I’m from. Just that the prizes usually aren’t… organic.”

“Oh but that must make it such a bore!”

Yolanda looked back to the machine. Seeing what looked to be a coin slot, she pushed a quarter. Thequarter was compatible with the machine as the claw inside the cabinet whirred to attention. With her teeth pressing against her lips, Yolanda gingerly guided the claw over the pentagram plushie, and hit the trigger. The claw gradually lowered down, but before it could reach the pentagram, an impish-looking creature darted into its grasp. As the talon clamped down, it carried the living creature up, dropping it through cabinet chute. Yolanda watched with curiosity as the creature slid out from the machine. In a high-pitched voice, it gave what were its first, and final words.

“HAHAHA! FREE AT LAST, SUCKERS. NOW I GET TO… WAIT, YOU PEOPLE BREATHE AIR? OH DIABLOS! SEND ME BACK! SEND ME—”

The imp promptly petrified in a pose of agony.

“Quite the souvenir this will make,” the man mused as he picked up the statuette.

“Not what I’m going for though. Are those things going to get in the way like that every time?”

“Yes. Some of them aren’t allergic to oxygen either. It’s so interesting – you always win something different when you play the Talon!”

“I don’t care about winning something every time I play," Yolonda spat, "I just want that plushie!”

“Is it that important to you?”

“Yes! It’s my only way out of this… place!”

“Y-You’re not staying?”

“To spend an eternity playing these creepy arcade games? I want to get back home, drat it!”

The man stood shock-still. His head sank as he turned away.

“So you’re a rifter, huh? I was hoping you'd stay, at least for a while. This place can be fun when you give it the chance, but it’s a lot more fun when there’s more than one person.”

Yolanda reached out and placed her hand on the man’s shoulders.

“That was rude of me, and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be a jerk to your world like that.”

“It’s not actually my world… I used to be a rifter too. I tried to get back home, but I just never got to…”

The man sighed. With his head still down low, he stretched out his right hand and snapped. In his finger appeared a quarter-sized green coin. Holding it to Yolanda, he replied,

“Use this on the Talon, and tell it what you want.“

Yolanda took the coin and inserted it into slot. The fossilized claw turned to life as green scaly flesh grew over it. Stretching from side to side, it tilted palm-side towards Yolanda and in its center, it opened an eye, looking expectantly towards her.

“The pentagram plushie, please?”

The claw twitched in acknowledgment and descended. A number of creatures began to try to grab hold of it, only to be swatted aside. Taking hold of the plushie, the claw raised itself to deposit its quarry down the chute. Upon fulfilling its duty, the claw reverted to fossil once more.

Yolanda took hold of the plushie, which was now smiling. With some trepidation, she gave the plushie a hug. There was a flash of light and a boom as a rift portal opened before her. As she prepared herself for the next dimension, she looked wistfully back to man in the yolk mask.

“What was your home world like?” Yolanda asked.

The man looked up in surprise.

“Boring compared to here. Although thinking back, it was kind of nice.”

“You know, you’re free to join me if you want. Maybe we might come across it again.”

Behind the mask, Yolanda thought she could feel the man smiling.

“It would be nice to give all this fun a rest.”

AllNewJonasSalk
Apr 22, 2017

THUNDERDOME LOSER

sebmojo posted:


Miserable, amazed



Macadelic
945 Words


I'm in the bathroom ridding my bowels of yesterday's lunch. The only problem is the colon highway is backed up for miles so all the poo poo has to reroute and take the next exit through my mouth. Projectile style.


It's a painful experience made worse by the fact that some rear end in a top hat keeps banging on the door. Can't he hear the stall is occupied?


Between gags I somehow chain together a couple foul tasting expletives and shudder myself back into my bearings. Next thing I know the rear end in a top hat starts banging louder and then someone yells something about security and men open the door and grab at me.


A couple moments later I'm thrown from the club. I land on my head but, luckily for me, my head lands on a bum. I mutter an apology. The bum mutters a “gently caress you,” and we both go about our lives.


I walk along the sidewalk as the sky unzips it's trousers and pisses all over me. There's a pizza place a couple streets from here where I know I can take shelter. I head that way and wonder how long it'll be before my friends realize I haven't returned with their drinks.


Walking always unlocks my eye for detail. I push the eye back into my skull and notice that the mayor's war on poverty is moving along nicely. I've never seen this many homeless people downtown in my life. I've also never seen so many cops cracking so many homeless skulls with their flashlights before stuffing them into the backs of so many squad cars. Taxpayer dollars will make sure these bums have a nice home and lukewarm food for the foreseeable future. I personally haven't paid taxes in many years and have no interest about the details of where your tax dollars go. Mine go up my nose when I can afford it.


After what seems like minutes of deep introspective bullshit I'm at the pizza spot.


“Roach Box is the name and pizza is the game” is how they style themselves on their television advertisements. My friends say the pizza tastes of filth and decay but I wouldn't know. I've never actually ate a single slice of pizza here. Usually if I'm in this joint I can be found on one of the arcade machines watching Pac Man eat pills and chase ghosts.


Tonight I'm denied entry after I rifle through my pockets and notice all my money is gone. I guess the bummy headrest from earlier snagged a couple bucks as payment.


“What kinda pizza place has an entrance fee anyway,” I start to say as the door is firmly slammed in my face.


The rain still hasn't let up but there's a bus stop that looks reasonably clean. With only three used syringes and a mostly fresh tampon for company, I begin to wait out the storm and wonder when someone will text me a “Where'd you go, bro?”


Within minutes a police officer shows up to surveil the scene and surmise my business here at this bus stop.


“You one of them homeless people? Show me your papers,” barks the cop.


It's now that I remember that all my papers were in the wallet that guy from earlier absconded with. In lieu of response I point towards a now very well dressed bum walking up the street towards us.


“You're not gonna believe this officer,” I say. “But that man robbed me earlier. He's got all my poo poo. And he even bought a parasol. Can you believe the balls on that guy?”


True to prophecy the cop doesn't believe a word of my story and knocks me on the head with his fancy baton. Just before I descend into unconsciousness I hear him relay news of his victory over the radio.


“I got another one. Now I'll be able to afford that fancy toaster that actually toasts the bread instead of setting everything on fire like my old one,” the cop loudly intones.


“Roger that, Mike,” the radio chimes back. “The chief says you should stop using your radio to chatter about your toaster.”


And then everything goes black.


#


I wake up a couple hours later feeling like my head's been split open. After pressing my fingers to my skull and feeling soft squishiness where I normally feel hard firmness, I confirm my diagnosis.


I look around and find myself in a dimly lit room. I can just make out the bodies of several sleeping men. They're possibly women but it's hard to tell in the dark. My sex life is very adventurous.


Within moments the lights skyrocket in intensity and a loud voice booms over a PA system.


“I'm sure you're all aware of the mayor's mission to rid our city of poverty one bum at a time,” says the voice.


Those of us not able to sleep through the deafening roar mutter in acknowledgement.


“Good. Good,” says the voice. “Now fiscal finance not being what it used to be. We can't afford to house and feed you all. Don't worry. The city has come up with a solution to all of our problems. Notice how hot your quarters are?”


We notice.


“You're sitting above a pit that leads all the way to hell. Allow us to guide you there.”


And then we hear the distinct sound of a finger pressing a button right before we fall at an alarming rate. I'm not even given proper time to investigate my astonishment at the fact that hell does indeed exist before I'm burned into many foul smelling ashes.


I wonder if hell has blow. I can certainly use a toot or three.

derp
Jan 21, 2010


Lipstick Apathy

Sitting Here posted:


Emotions: Grieving, embarrassed



best friends
1200 words


removed

derp fucked around with this message at Jan 1, 2019 around 17:53

Staggy
Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes


Running Up That Hill
1,061 words
Miserable, determined


Read it at the archive.

Staggy fucked around with this message at Jan 3, 2019 around 21:34

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Chocolate tastes bad,
also fuck you <3

sebmojo posted:

Disdain, excited



The Twisted Goose
1197 words

Werner was a legend. He could feel up any girl in the office. Not full out; he had maneuvers, a whole list of different moves: The Cincinnati Sweaterbounce. The Snatch Snatch. The Snake Charmer. Werner! I loved that guy.

Eh, remember, it was different in those days. The ladies weren’t so concerned with being “liberated,” or whatever. Nah, they were just happy to be out of the house. Finally had purpose in their lives. You know what I mean.

No?

Well, anyways, Werner was a savant. He could get a girl- any girl- any part of a girl! - from any angle. Most of the chicks in the office knew better than to bend over in the same room as him. The bastard could fly, I tell you. No matter how far away she was when he spotted her, Werner would somehow immediately be in position to grab a handful. It was amazing. We’d take bets, we’d watch…it was better than a football game.

So, they hire this new chick. She’s got that Marilyn wiggle, blond, stacked. Only problem is, she wore Coke-bottle glasses. I think her name was Mindy. Mary? M-something. Anyways, this Mindy girl walked around like she never took a poo poo before. She went to Radcliffe or something, so she thought she was better than everyone else. You know the type.

Sure, you do. A real ice queen. Most new girls were more than happy with a little male attention, but she didn’t seem interested in any of us. We actually thought she was, you know…but we found out she had some hippie boyfriend at NYU. Nothing special except whatever magic powers Werner had, she had the opposite. Man, was he frustrated! He just kept missing her. Literally, physically missing her. And she wasn’t exactly a small girl, if you know what I mean!

Actually, Werner got funny about it. Mindy didn’t notice him at all, even when she was side-stepping one of his hands, and I think his confidence took a beating. She sneered at him openly if forced to interact with him. He still got a few good grabs in with the other girls, but it wasn’t anything like it had been. His work went sour, too. Werner lost three clients in the first month after Mindy arrived.

Now, we were all a bit dmeoralized. Werner had been someone we admired, but suddenly he was…well, frankly, dickless. He slumped. Mindy seemed pretty pleased with him backing off, and the other girls started to get that same constipated look she had.

Werner was one smart guy. Creative! He had a hundred different ways to grab an unwilling filly, and he wasn’t about to let this one run away with his…. saddle.

What? I’m fine, goddammit, let me finish. You said this is for the paper, well, I’m telling you more interesting poo poo than has ever been in the drat paper. Excuse me for getting poetic.

So, Werner stops going out with the boys. He quits grabbing rear end. He starts grinding away on those lost accounts. We figure, jeez, it was funny while it lasted. But, actually, Werner was planning.

One day, he comes up to me with this real wild look. Red eyes, unshaven. I say, Jesus Christ, man, you look like poo poo, go home for the day. Werner ignores that, and says, Dirk, I finally figured it out. He looks like he’s discovered a way to turn poo poo to gold.

We go into his office. He locks the drat door. The shades are drawn and there’s this sweaty, yeasty stink. It was like a cave in there, one where the bear drank bourbon all winter instead of hibernating. Werner jumped on the couch, barefoot.

I asked him what the hell he was up to, and he just said, LOOK. Then he raised one of those grimy, bony feet, and started poking it off to the side like a ballerina.

I said, I don’t get you.

This is the Twisted Goose, he said impatiently, and it’s how I’m finally going to grab Mindy Burbank’s tit. He then started flexing his toes, like he was trying to grip.

With your goddamn FOOT?

He just said that feet are leg hands. I said, fine, it worked for King Kong, and walked away. It made me uncomfortable. Sure, Mindy had given his confidence a knock, but was it worth…whatever he was doing? I dunno. I just poured myself a drink.

The next Saturday was the company party on Montauk. A clambake, pony rides for the kids, family-friendly and all that. By this point, Werner had informed a few more of the boys about his plans, so a lot of us were waiting to see what would happen.

Around sunset, I saw Werner wave to George Vaias from Accounts. Whispered something in his ear, nodded to the dock. Vaias then turned around and asked if anyone wanted to take a ride on his speedboat. Mindy and a few girls enthusiastically hopped on. Werner and I went, too.

When we launched, Werner and I were in back. The girls were in front, doing some goofy hula number. I was mostly concerned with not spilling my drink and didn’t notice at first that Werner had moved to the midsection of the boat.

To be honest, I was nodding off when I noticed Werner had moved again. He was standing behind Mindy in that stupid pose: facing away from her, with his foot dangling in the air behind him. George winked at him and turned the boat, heading towards smoother, shallower waters.

Mindy squealed and stumbled, hopping backward slightly. Werner’s eyes widened, and he stretched his foot out more. There was a big grin on his face, with such anticipation. I remember looking at his eyes in that moment and thinking, I can’t wait to tell the boys back on the beach. Werner hasn’t lost the magic touch!

Just then, we hit a sandbar. Or a rock. Something. All I know is the boat lurched dangerously. The girls fell in a screaming pile, I spilled my drink, and Werner was launched into the air, still in his graceful arabesque.

It wasn’t so graceful coming down.

Yeah. He did. Werner landed headfirst on the steering wheel and broke his goddamn neck. We thought he was joking until we realized his head looked all wrong. Twisted Goose, my rear end. Spooky/

Really? I thought everyone in New York knew that.

We had to drive back with his loving corpse draped over the cooler, with a cocktail napkin opened over his face. For, uh, privacy? The women were hysterical, but I remember looking at Mindy and thinking she didn’t actually look too upset. Shocked, but not sad. If she hadn’t been so uptight—well, I guess it’s not her fault exactly.

You know, it’s funny. I worked there for the next thirty years- I even got Werner’s job- but I gotta tell you, I never went to another company party on Montauk. Just didn’t seem right.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


sebmojo posted:

Anger, glee



Little Departures
1,178 words

“Our house is wrecked with ‘little departures,’” Adrian announced as he came home from work one afternoon. I looked up at him and then went back to the corporate logo I was designing, but he wouldn’t stop gazing meaningfully at me, so I looked up at him.

“I guess you want me to ask you what you mean.”

He looked a little bit put out, but he went on anyway. “Little departures. It’s what my dad always called the things we let go that we knew we shouldn’t have let go, but we did anyway. Like we haven’t cleaned the refrigerator since we moved in. That’s a little departure.”

“Babe, I’m working. If you want to clean the house, you’ve got to do it yourself.”

I tried to return my attention to the logo, which now seemed itself full of little departures; colors that weren’t right, lines that’d look ambiguous from a certain distance, questions of tone and audience that, if properly considered, would mean I was due for a do-over and hours of wasted work. If I thought about it any more, I’d wreck the whole thing and miss the deadline for sure, so I closed the laptop shut and grabbed Adrian’s arm as he sauntered past, shamed.

“Wait, wait. I’ve got time for you, don’t worry. What were you trying to -- what the gently caress?

My hand went through the flesh of Adrian’s arm, resting in something wet, warm, and putrid-scented. A cascade of maggots fell through the sleeves of Adrian’s favorite button-down.

“Little departures,” he repeated. “They get bigger.”

“No kidding. How long have you been dead?”

“What’s your best guess?”

I shrugged, helplessly. I would have noticed if it had been more than a couple of days. I mean, we lived together in a small, one-bedroom apartment. And sure, we hadn’t hugged or touched each other much recently -- I’d been so busy, and Adrian was coming and going at all hours -- but we’d exchanged conversation and caught up with each other a little bit every day. “One week.”

“Four months,” Adrian said. “Four whole months.” He waited for my response, but, when I struggled to think of one, he snagged my laptop and threw it to the floor. I was hoping it might have survived, since it was shut in its case, but he knelt down to open the thing up. I could see the spots on his back where the thin veneer of flawless skin had begun to rip, where the viscera and rotting contents of his body were beginning to seep out. Then he ground a boot into my laptop screen.

I put my hands up. “What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to give a poo poo, drat it!” he said, as he swung my lamp into the air and then down on the floor. I suppose the effect would be to shatter it, but it just kind of sloughed the skin on his hands off and fell to the floor. He went in with his boots again, though, stomping on each of the light bulbs, laughing this fake-sounding hoarse giggle all the while.

“I am. I’m giving a lot of shits right now. So many, believe me. It’s just that it’s hard to process my boyfriend being dead and destroying all my possessions, and also, please don’t take this as a personal attack, but maybe as more of an observation, and it’s that you smell really bad right now and I’m probably going to throw up soon.”

Then he lifted his own head off and placed it on top of mine. It was a little like getting hit with a water balloon, but if the water balloon was full of the putrifying insides of a dead boyfriend instead of water. Meanwhile, the bottom half of Adrian’s body was ripping off painting from the wall and chucking them at the walls.

“This is me being you,” a voice said, from atop my head. “Adrian, don’t throw things at the wall. You’re going to lose the security deposit.”

No. There was no way any part of Adrian could have survived the sloshing explosion that happened above my head. But when I turned and looked in the mirror, I saw that his head was mostly intact above the nose. But how was he speaking?

“This is also me being you,” said Adrian, his voice coming from a cleft in his split-open skull. “Sorry Adrian, I can’t deal with your meltdown right now, I have to deal with work.”

Holy poo poo, he was right. With my laptop smashed, I couldn’t complete the work I had to do for my client. My client ran a small business, and he was planning to launch a new promotional campaign the next day. With the logo not done in time, he would incur lots of costs in reprinting, and he would be disappointed in me and probably spread bad word of mouth.

“That’s a good point,” I said. “I need to give my client a ‘heads up.’”

I giggled. I waited for Adrian to giggle, but he wasn’t in a giggling mood, apparently. His bottom half had ascended to the attic, presumably using frog-like reflexes, and had found my long neglected tool kit. It included a saw, and before long his bottom half was sawing our bed in half.

“What is going on?” I asked Adrian. “Seriously, what are you doing? What are you hoping to achieve? I’m sorry I didn’t notice you were dead. I know I’ve been busy, but if you’d asked for attention earlier, I could have given it to you. But now--”

“That’s the thing about little departures,” Adrian said from atop my head, while his bottom half sawed away.

“Yeah, they become big departures, I get it.”

“No. Well, yes, but that’s not my point, and also, please don’t interrupt me. The thing is, you usually don’t think a little departure is worth mentioning, because it’s so small, it’s a departure within the accepted limits, right? But there comes a point where there are so many little departures that it becomes impossible to even know where you are, because you’re not sure what you’re departing from.”

“You departed from life. Like, being alive.”

The bed snapped clean in two. Adrian sighed.

“You’re not even trying to get it,” he said.

“Explain it to me. Explain exactly what you mean.”

“Whenever I came home, I wasn’t sure if I was arriving anymore.”

“Still don’t get it.”

“Fine. I cheated on you with--”

And before I could respond, Adrian’s skull slipped off my head and landed with a sickening splat on the hardwood floor.

I looked around at the wreckage of the apartment, including my broken laptop, the sawdusted, broken bed, and the puddles of what used to be Adrian. His bottom half was still bounding around, but with less energy, less drive. And as I grabbed the bottle of Febreeze, I resolved to do a better job catching those little departures before they got bigger.

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012



https://thunderdome.cc/?story=6792&...CE%3A++UNTUCKED

Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at Dec 30, 2018 around 10:16

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



https://thunderdome.cc/?story=6793

Djeser fucked around with this message at Dec 31, 2018 around 20:12

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009

I am a real boy.


sebmojo posted:

Trapped, disdain



Bad Math
1090 Words

Jeremy bit into this week’s sacrament, a snake, roadkill from a morning or two ago. Behind him, Bart chanted meaningless rhymes and nonsense verse. Jeremy gagged.

“Put on your brave mask, Jeremy,” Bart said between gasps. “Swallow it. One more bite. For your mother’s health.”

The thick jellied blood warmed in Jeremy’s mouth. He swallowed then turned to Bart who was nodding rhythmically.

“That’s it. That’s my boy.” Bart then pointed to the bucket at Jeremy’s feet. Jeremy lurched as if gut punched and the half-chewed snakeflesh and whatever else he was digesting spattered out, adding a new odor to the room.

---

Bart and Jeremy sat on the back porch in rocking chairs. Jeremy sipped a glass of Bart’s sickly sweet tea and could almost feel the sugar corroding his teeth. He counted fireflies during the lulls in conversation.

Jeremy said, “Daddy’s giving me a shotgun for my birthday next week.”

Sixteen fireflies. Seventeen.

Bart grunted. So Jeremy brought out his usual threat. “I might just bring it next time. Pop you with it.”

Eighteen, nineteen, twenty.

Jeremy could feel Bart’s grin. Bart said, “Let’s get your mom well first, yeah?”

“Fine. But can I go now? I’ve got homework.”

---

Remedial math homework was devilishly difficult, even when Jeremy wasn’t being distracted by the beeping and whirring of his mom’s life support. The doctors gave up when her lung function began to decrease. Now Jeremy kept her company while his daddy picked up more shifts so there could be a funeral worth a drat.

“Ma, do you remember doing timesing and dividing?” Her machine flashed a rhythmic green like the fireflies. But Jeremy felt like it was more of a countdown than an accumulation. “What’s 56 divided by seven?”

She didn’t answer, but he liked to think she heard. “Well, I gotta put something. How about nine?”

The attempt at conversation sank his mood further until the worksheet blurred through his tears. “I wanna get you well, ma. Give me another week, please?”

---

Bart called the day before their next ritual and asked Jeremy to bring some worms with him. Or a lizard, if he could catch one. Said they were nearing the end of their time together. And that Jeremy’s ma would be breathing on her own before the end of the month.

Jeremy had heard all this before, but he couldn’t give up hoping just yet. And in any case, he had his shotgun now. It was about half again as long as his arm and heavier than he’d imagined. The butt of it poked out of his backpack as he biked the dirt roads to Bart’s shack.

He stashed the gun in the grass opposite Bart’s place then knocked on Bart’s screen door.

When they headed inside, Bart said, “This might be our last ritual, if things go right. Did you get a lizard?”

Jeremy shook his head and grabbed a folded up bundle of damp and squirming newspaper. “Got a gently caress ton of worms though. Is that good?” He held the worms out to Bart and grinned. He hadn’t tried to get a lizard; a small rebellion.

“Yeah, yeah, ‘s long as you eat ‘em all.” Bart patted Jeremy on the back and pushed the boy towards the cellar.

In the cellar a person sat tied to a wooden chair. Jeremy gasped and dropped the packet of worms. There was blood everywhere, and the sack over the person’s head was soaked through in several places, giving them a terrifying visage.

“You got a audience this time, Jeremy. Let’s get started.”

The ritual went the same. Jeremy ate the worms and repeated whatever Bart asked him to repeat. Bart always seemed to be making up the ritual as he went, but Jeremy never felt like calling him out.

Once Jeremy had swallowed the last worm, Bart asked him to hurt the tied-up person. Bart handed Jeremy a switch made from a green branch of some shrub.

“Whip ‘em, Jeremy. You’re nothing. They’re nothing. C’mon.”

Jeremy assessed where best to hit the person, having assumed they were just unconscious. He settled for their thigh and swallowed, mouth still gritty from the worms’ insides. He swished the branch down on the person’s thighs, earning a sharp thwack. The person’s bare legs welted up almost immediately.

“Again, Jeremy. Harder.”

As he whipped their legs, the room shrank around him. Blood pulsed in his ears and obscured all sounds except the lashes he doled His victim never once yelled. Only shifted whenever Jeremy struck them.

“It’s done. You’re done. Good boy.”

Jeremy’s perception slammed back to normalcy. He rushed out of the cellar gasping for clear air.

Bart shouted from below, “Your mother will be so proud of you.”

---

An hour after Bart’s house went dark, Jeremy used the nose of his shotgun to open the screen door. He looked around, eyes long accustomed to the dark, but found no sign of Bart. He opened the cellar door.

Moonlight illuminated the ritual space. The wooden chair stood empty in the center. Satisfied the house was empty, Jeremy left through the front and peeked into the backyard.

Far into the field behind the shack, Bart dug. On the ground beside Bart--who blessedly had his back turned--was the person from the ritual. So they were dead after all. Or Bart had killed them after.

Jeremy paced towards the scene, shotgun aimed, just like his daddy taught him. In the sights was Bart, diligently excavating a grave, whistling drily. Jeremy deemed he was close enough. He took in a breath and fired.

The report seemed to echo endlessly in the field. Jeremy stepped forward and aimed down, unsquinting his eye to see if Bart lived or not.

“Jeremy. gently caress,” Bart panted. The shot had taken him mostly in his side. “loving birdshot, you poo poo.” Bart rolled on his good side and tried to get up. Jeremy’s next shot whipped through Bart’s leg. Bart howled and his leg spasmed. “Okay, okay, I’m down. God, you weren’t kiddin’ about the shotgun, huh?”

Bart said a few more things that Jeremy didn’t bother to hear. He shot Bart once more, for good measure, and then headed home.

---

“Jeremy, son, it’s mom.”

Jeremy opened his eyes to see his daddy standing over him.

“The doctors say she’s gotten worse. I’m gonna--” He broke off. They rode to the hospital in silence.

She only survived a few minutes after they shut the respirator off. Jeremy counted the green flashes until they pulled the sheet up to cover her.

Forty-six.

Lippincott
Jun 28, 2018

You weren't born to just pay bills and die.

You must suffer.

A lot.


Sunday Dinner
Word Count 1,199
Prompt Insecurity, rage



---


Abe waits for Mom to set down dinner on the farmhouse table. It takes four trips from the kitchen, and it took as many hours to prepare. His mother only leaves her domain to present or prepare food; mountains of starches, slabs of meat, and a meager salad attempt of iceberg lettuce. He gave up trying to help her when he was fifteen, because the suggestion she needed helped seemed to insult her.

The roast comes last, and he takes it from Mom because she can’t reach the center of the table. Dad’s already seated, silent despite the meal prepared for him. He doesn’t thank Mom, instead calling them to say grace. With bowed heads, Abe and his parents speak the same four stanzas they have for as long as Abe can remember. His lips move around the words, but they’re hollow in his chest and flavorless on his tongue. When they’re done, Abe offers, “It looks wonderful, Mom.”

Sometimes Abe says it looks ‘great’ or ‘good’ or ‘delicious’. It’s Sunday though, so he says ‘wonderful.’ It’s easier to vary the compliments when you schedule them. She smiles, but not with her eyes.

“Thank you, but I think the potatoes came out a little gritty.”

Mom doesn’t take compliments without offering up a self-deprecating observation about herself. The high school counselor says Abe does the same thing. Mom’s serving him up the allegedly gritty potatoes. He smiles, accepting his plate after a large slab of lamb completes it.

“I’m sure it’s fine, Mom.”

Abe can’t test that theory until Dad begins to eat though. He sets down his meal and waits. When Dad takes a bite, Mom knows she can serve herself the leavings of the carefully prepared meal while he opines about the wolves that took two cattle from the Henderson’s last week. Abe takes a sip of water, before interjecting without preamble.

“I was talking to Mrs. Collins today-”

Dad looks annoyed to be cut off in the middle of a ‘shoot, shovel, shut up’ rant. Mom feigns polite interest.

“Your science teacher?”

“Biology, yeah.”

Dad’s chewing silently, eyeing Abe like a good stock dog about to drive in for a bite. Abe’s used to the look.

“Yeah, she thinks with my grades that I should go to University of Idaho. Apparently I could get a couple thousand a year, what with being from in-state and-”

Dad makes a scoffing noise. Abe pauses and watches Dad swallow, the outline of food skittering down his throat like a roach. The table waits in trained silence for Dad offer up an opinion. Abe takes a bite of the mashed potatoes. They are all butter and cream.

“What about the rest of it? You got fifteen thousand, boy?” Dad asks without asking.

He doesn’t expect a response, which is why he startles a bit when Abe speaks again, interrupting the evening rant about ‘the god drat Feds.’

“The potatoes came out perfect, Mom.”

His mother shoots him a look, even though she’s smiling thinly at the compliment and receives it with a murmured, “Thank you, still a bit watery…”

“I applied in the spring, actually. They let me in with a partial scholarship, but I still need a few signatures...” Abe continues his previous train of thought, seemingly unaffected by the little twitch over Dad’s left eye.

He cuts his lamb carefully while he speaks, segregating it into small bites of medium rare, before drizzling the cuts with mint sauce made fresh from Mom’s garden. He planned out this conversation; rehearsed it in his room over and over again while staring in the mirror, hating with every word how much he looked like his father. He had practiced because he knew he needed to remain calm, to steady his voice, to speak to Dad like one would gentle a wild horse. Not that it would matter. His calm could not change an angry man.

“It’s just paperwork. I have it in my car. It needs to be done so I can start in the fall.”

Mom’s pale, staring at him across the table with those wide brown eyes. He expects the words out of her mouth to be a bleat of fear, but whatever she wanted to say is drowned out by Dad’s dangerously low tone growling across the tabletop.

“You’re not going to college, Abe. We don’t have the money and you need to stay here. We have too much-”

The meat is great. Abe takes a slow bite and chews thoughtfully. It keeps him from interrupting like it feels he should. He should let his dad know it’s already decided, that he’s as stubborn as his father, and as strategic as his mother. The paperwork requests signatures and parental financials, but Abe has already devised a way around that requirement with the assistance of the academic counselor. He knew this would be Dad’s reaction, but it seemed respectful to attempt this conversation.

“-I need you here. What do you expect your mother and me to do? What’re you going to learn that you can’t learn here?”

“Biology,” It wasn’t actually a question, but Abe was answering it like one. Dad’s face was veiny and bulging, his jawline set so tight he may crack a crown. Abe pressed on. “But I want to focus in Wildlife Sciences, so statistics, calculus, chemis-”

“What the gently caress did you just say, Abe?” Dad bellowed, incapable of attempting quiet intimidation tactics.

“Language.” Mom squeaked.

“Carol, did you just hear what he said?” Dad implored, asking for someone at the table to see reason.

“Wildlife Sciences. Yeah, it’s the study of-”

“Did Mrs. Collins put this in your head? You’re not going to college and certainly not going to study some liberal hippie bullshit.”

Mom is crying. Abe isn’t sure when she started, and he wishes he could reach over and apologize for this entire conversation. But he can’t. Abe can’t live like Mom for the rest of his life. He says nothing and stands.

“You sit down right now, Abe.”

He carefully avoids Dad’s eyes and turns for the front room. He could yell back. He could slam his fists on the table and wave his arms and square his shoulders until it came to blows. Or he could simply set down his napkin, and walk away.

He is halfway to the door when he hears Dad coming after him, the heavy boots thudding on the wooden floors. ‘Turn now’, his instincts scream, ‘Run’. But Abe has a lifetime to know it ends the same way. He can hear the slick of the belt coming out of Dad’s pant loops’, the jangle of buckle as he wraps it around his hand readying to send it out in a lashing arc across Abe’s retreating shoulders. Abe winces.

Instead there’s a loud thud.

And Abe turns around before he can help himself, and stares down at Dad who tripped on the entryway rug.

Silence hangs between them as he stares down at his prostrate father, belt still in Dad’s hand, upholstery bundled up in treacherous folds beneath him.

“Get the gently caress out. And don’t come back,” is all Dad says.

Abe obliges without another word.

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


Ultra Carp

sebmojo posted:

Disgusted, proud



sebmojo posted:

in your story nothing must change but everything must matter

The Blameless Prisoner
1105 words

Available on the archive

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at Jan 1, 2019 around 04:45

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



WEEK 285 JUDGECRITS PART 1
Nothing in this Life that I’ve been Trying - Chairchucker
This is a pretty good story, but what I wanted to see out of it was some kind of twist. It's mostly just an exploration on an idea, which isn't a bad exercise, and the idea is a fun one to explore, but I was left wanting some kind of contrast. I suppose that sort of comes at the end, where suddenly having Paleolithic hunter memories is now useful, but I felt like about halfway through I got the idea you were going for and was waiting for a spin on that idea to show up.

Choon-Hee & The Gwoemul - Unfunny Poster
I feel like I spent time getting upset at this before, maybe in a recap or something. I'm not sure what the purpose of the framing narrative is, since it mostly exists for the sake of a young girl to go "wow" at the story, and the story itself is just a retelling of a Korean myth. There's nothing wrong with retelling a myth, but like the frame narrative, I don't know what the point of it was, and like I was saying about Chairchucker's, I kept waiting for some twist. The only thing close to that is "I was the tiger all along!" which doesn't actually amount to anything. It's interesting to have the antagonist of a myth telling their version of it, but it didn't feel appreciably different or biased, and there was no sense that him being the tiger changed anything.

An Attempt at Understanding - Okua
I'm starting to feel a theme of "interesting idea, but I was waiting for it to go somewhere." I think this story's strength is its slow sense of dread/mystery, this idea that for some reason this place is drawing people in and trying to spur them to dig down and uncover it. I think I wound up wanting more of that, though I can't say if it's just my lovely genre-loving goon tastes or what. When I scrolled back up to the top to see the title, the ending clicked for me in a way it hadn't before, she's trying to understand what drove people to the pit in the first place, but it left me wondering like...is she going to die down there, or is she just laying there to understand what it was like? And what was it like?

This is a holy place - Flerp
I like this, though that might just be because I've had a number of emotional experiences like this that I can relate to, and capturing the essence of a complicated emotion like that is good. I feel bad saying I kinda wanted more to happen, because this isn't a piece of writing where more should happen, really. I guess I just wanted more contrast, or maybe more elaboration on how much it hurts for them to be trying to do this for their mother. At the moment it's kind of a straight shot: you can sort of guess where it's going to end up.

The Identities and Histories of The City’s Statuary By Simeon of Nicaea - Deltasquid
I mostly felt like this one was longer than it ought to have been. My fault for the long wordcount, I suppose. I do like the idea that you used, and it seems (at least to me, I haven't studied late antique Roman sculpture) like you probably did some research, or it was a topic you were fond of. This plot is basically a mystery story--you could think of it like a private eye trying to discover someone's real identity in order to save their life. With that in mind, I think you could make this pop a little more; naturally Simeon is more of a scholar than a rough noir detective, but you could use that sort of deadline hanging over him, an urgency he has to deal with, et cetera.

Nebula - Jay W. Friks
The biggest thing I would have liked to see from this is a more concrete feeling of place. The creature she meets and the planet (Jupiter, it seems like) she visits are abstract, and it's always a good idea when dealing with abstract things to be very specific, since you've got to build an image from scratch in the reader's mind. Aside from that, I like this premise a lot, especially the connection between aerogel and airborne life-forms. It gets a little tricky where her 'soul' gets stolen away, but apparently her soul is still literally covered in aerogel, but whatever, I'm willing to go with it.

Sign Here, Initial There - Crain
There's a fun sort of Nick Harkaway vibe to this idea of an investment portfolio that stretches back beyond the dawn of recorded history. Unfortunately, it is mostly one person talking at another for most of the time, and it ends with the protagonist doing nothing because it's all overwhelming. Here's what I'd do: ask yourself what could someone do with something like that? Or tickle my imagination, tell me all about the wild things he could invest in. You wouldn't have to explain too much of it, you could just drop some tasty words in there to get me interested and build an interesting world around this idea.

Another Turn of the Wheel - Antivehicular
This story goes a long way toward showing what well-chosen detail can do to a basic plot. Progenitor race stuff is pretty standard in sci-fi, you've got it everywhere from Prometheus to Mass Effect, but this story is filled with enough specific information to make it unique, both in terms of worldbuilding and in terms of character. There's a good sense of age and fragility to your protagonist, which helped it fit in to the theme of vast spans of time.

Cenotaph - Thranguy
Oh hey, I absolutely stole a bunch of ideas for this story for one of my later ones in the Dome. This is some really good sci-fi stuff, and it has that particular quality I like of giving me a term that sticks in my head--in this case, "locust cluster". It honestly makes the story I wrote feel cheaply put together, because you went pretty far in explaining the transhumanist underpinnings, but because they were told from the voice of someone who went through all of it, I think it helps put it into perspective and keeps it from seeming explainy.

Atrytone, Parthenos, Promachos - Fleta McGurn
Again I'm not sure if this is my genre-loving goon rear end but I finished this story kind of wishing that Sam really was a time-traveling Athena. Or at least that it was left ambiguous, or maybe that she might not be, but she has some kind of power all the same. As it is, it's not a bad story, but it does sort of feel like a mystery story where the butler is obviously suspicious, and at the end it's revealed that it was the butler who did it. Also, "poop-brown eyes" may be leaning a little too hard on the toilet humor.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

lol suk it proud boi


Deescalation, 973 words

"Goddamnit, you're not listening!" The patient was lanky and pale, like someone had spread him too thin. He was staring with bloodshot eyes, and his face would constantly twitch. The worst part were his hands, constantly fidgeting, wrapping the fingers around themselves. It didn't seem possible the wring your hands so hard without breaking your fingers.

At least he didn't smell. You get used to the smell of people at their most degraded, but I don't think any doctor particularly enjoyed the smell of a sick person. Unwashed body odor, rotten tooth on their breath, urine and feces, vomit. But he smelled, well... fine. In fact, the patient hadn't seemed so bad when he first arrived. He was wearing a suit at the time, and seemed like any normal business man. The only sign had been his pale and emaciated face, with the occasional twitches. Carol giving him to me instead of Dr. Rubin probably also should have been a clue. His pacing in the waiting room should have been another, but I hadn't been paying attention.

"It feels like fire underneath my skin, constantly. Sometimes my legs, sometimes my arms, all the time. I can't sleep without it waking me up - I haven't slept through an entire night in months. And I can't think, either. How the hell am I supposed to think straight when my whole body hurts? I can't keep living like this anymore."

"I understand your situation, Mr. Tennyson, and I would like to help you," I said with that Nurse Ratched voice I had practiced in medical school that brooked no disagreement. "But narcotics are not the appropriate treatment path here. Fibromyalgia is not something you can cure away with pain medication, which is why exercise and reducing your stress through therapy-"

"gently caress THERAPY," he screamed at me, his whole body quivering like a snare drum. I stepped back, involuntarily. "Therapy won't make my arms and legs stop burning! Therapy won't give me my life back! I'm going to talk the loving pain away? I need this!"

I stepped forward again, reclaiming my space. Confident, forceful, clear. I need to take control of the situation before Carol started knocking on the door asking if I needed help. "Mr. Tennyson, it's not happening. Narcotics are only going to make the problem worse over time. I can set you up with a physical rehabilitation clinic nearby, and I think counseling-" His hands shot out with surprising speed, grabbing the hem of lab coat. His grip was as strong as steel, and he all but dragged me into his personal space. I was suddenly aware of his size, easily a foot taller than me. He was still stronger, even in this worn-down state.

"gently caress therapy," he hissed me, low and rough. "gently caress water aerobics, gently caress ergonomic keyboards, gently caress talking to a shrink about my goddamn anxiety, and gently caress your antidepressants too. Do you understand me? I came here for one thing, the only thing that'll help me now. Got it?"

"Sir, let go of me. Now." I tried to make myself sound authoritative and confident, but my voice trembled and betrayed me. I tried to step back, but his arms barely budged. Reflexively, my eyes darted to the door, and his gaze followed mine.

"Or what? Huh?" His eyes stared at me now, wide and piercing. "You're going to listen to me, goddammit. That's what you're going to do. You're not going to try to fob me off to your specialists or to some other doctor. I'm right here, goddamnit! You're going to help me right now. Isn't that what you doctors are suppose to do? Help people? Not give them the loving run around!"

"Sir, I'm going to ask you one more time, LET GO. NOW." This time I said it with conviction. He blinked a few times. then nodded his head a bit to himself. He let go of my coat, and I felt the tension release across my body. The feeling was so strong that I almost felt like I would faint. I wanted to do nothing more than go to my office and cry, but I still had an obligation to this man as my patient.

He sat back down on the exam table, his hands once again folding like origami knots around themselves. "I can't do this anymore. I just want my life back. I want to work again, alright? I can't stand this anymore. I just need a break. It doesn't have to be forever, I don't care if it gets worse. I just need a few weeks where I don't hurt anymore." He was staring at me the whole time he spoke, blinking and grimacing. "That's all I want."

"I can't do that, I just can't," I said, softly. "But we can try other techniques-"

His fist slammed into my stomach, knocking the breath completely out of my body. I folded and collapsed, my arm bringing the cart down with me. We made a terrible noise and a worse mess, the cart and I. He was standing over me now, as Carol threw the door. She yelled something, and suddenly the room was full of bodies, swarming and struggling. I tried to move out of the way as best I could, hemmed in by the stomping legs.

Someone helped me to my feet as they pulled him from the office, and I tried to recover my composure as they mob-walked him through the waiting room. He was yelling and swearing, and trying his best to get an arm free for punching. Carol wouldn't let me leave. She demanded I stay until the police arrived, and I filed assault charges. I suppose I couldn't blame her. But I would rather be anywhere in the world than in that office right then.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, spin up the goddam chaingun.' -Robot Santa Claus

For the Love of God

1075 words

Prompt: Jealous, Amazed

I shall not tell you The Wolf’s true name. The endless tabloid speculation amuses me in its profound wrongness, and I would not see it ended by my word. I think it would have amused her as well. Yes, her. That much of a clue I will give.

I've seen people suggest that I was the second best, and now, the greatest alive. Nonsense. You might as well speak of second brightest star on a clear day’s noon. And false besides. There are three men in China and a woman in Sweden with better claims to the meaningless title, better choices to name the greatest living assassin.

***

“Anton,” said The Wolf, through the flat digital screen. It was how we talked, our normal. She did not leave her saferoom among fellow predators, not without great need.

I smiled at her image. “You look well,” I said.

“Liar,” she said with a sigh. “If I look half as bad as I feel...” She did not finish, looking upward and to the left. It was true. She looked gaunt, she looked pale. Not weak, never diminished, but, more than anything else, tired. “Cancer,” she said.

“How long?” I said, skipping the stupider questions. She would not have called me here if there was still hope.

“Just enough,” she said. A printer whirred out a page beside me. A list of names, printed from a post to an obscure hobbyist subreddit with seven subscribers and no active moderator, headed with tomorrow’s date. They were famous names, the sort of names that showed up on this sort of list, composed by anyone in their darker moments. “My final statement,” she said. ‘Exit The Wolf’ said the last line in the page.

There were thirty names on the paper. “For your last month?” I said.

“For my last day. I would have some help from you. The phone, beside the printer, holds the details.”

“Why me?” I asked.

“I will not leave this room again. Everything is already in motion, but there is always the matter of random chance. A few places where a backup is needed.” She did not answer my question, did not give the compliment I hadn’t known until that instant I craved, did not offer money nor anything else. I took the phone and paper and left.

***

I thought about it, considered it, during that largely sleepless night. About making a few calls, warning the right people. An immediate trip to the hospital, a change of venue, an extra security sweep, and most of them could be stopped. It was not any matter of conscience. I have done much worse in my time, and none of those targeted could be called in any way innocent. No, it was this: It might never have happened, and the legend of The Wolf would have lived only among the knowledgeable underworld, would have been far less. Within a few years, most would dismiss her triumphs as luck, as exaggerated stories told of a fallen comrade. I was tempted every second until that morning, when it began.

The leader of the free world keeled over backward, dead before he hit the ground. It would be three days before the doctors even knew what had happened: a tiny, subcutaneous explosive device implanted at the base of the neck. They would never discover how it had gotten there. That information was not in my phone, and I would not reveal it if it had been. His Russian and Chinese counterparts suffered the exact same fates, within seconds of one another, in less public settings.

Then came the percussion: a dozen of the worst dictators the world offered, each detonating in a fireball with their closest -physically closest, at least - advisors and sycophants. Precision-guided mortar shells fired from distant rooftops accomplished the task.

The final acts followed. By then, searches on the names of the dead had begun to unearth the list from its obscurity to the public eye, bringing about a futile panic in the final victims. These were criminals who had escaped justice, too famous or too police to have any consequences attach to their very public crimes. They knew enough to panic, but not enough to save themselves from their fates, whether binary poisons or allergens in slow-release capsules or sanctuaries turned deathtrap. My part was on three of the last, three men too arrogant to run or hide, to secure in their indispensability. They had been clients of mine, and no doubt of The Wolf, but neither of us was sentimental about employers. The money they represented would pass into other hands just as willing to pay my price.

The Wolf had sniper rifles trained on them, operated remotely. I took position in a second nest, and took aim, and signalled my readiness. If she missed, which was just barely possible thanks to the critical microseconds of lag between her commands and the gun’s response, I could take the second shot. She did not miss. I did not pull the trigger, not at any of the three sites.

After it was done, after the last man on the list died, hanged so violently his neck stretched bonelessly, spine dislocated from collarbone, in his own bedroom, with no signs of rope or weapons - I know how it was done, but I feel like it would be wrong for me to reveal it or ever duplicate it - the phone rang. I picked it up, and said “Consummatum Est.”

“It is,” she said. “Did you know that I’ve never taken a lover?” I did not know how to answer this, or if there even was need for an answer. Apparently not; she went on. “It never seemed right. It’s why I’ve locked myself in here, with my screens and my wine, to meet the end on my own terms. My poor failing body has been flush with futile desire, and I do not know if I could resist its temptations, outside. Better this way.”

“Is there anything more I can do for you?” I asked. There was something in her voice, something more than sickness and wine. I was certain however she planned to end her own suffering had already begun, that the time left could be measured in seconds.

“Just tell the truth,” she said. She did not hang up the phone, but there was no more sound for near to an hour, and if she spoke again after I disposed of the device, I do not know.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



WEEK 285 JUDGECRITS PART 2
Bridging the Gulf - Uranium Phoenix
A lot of people went sci-fi this week when I was expecting more ancient history, but I guess that's just as valid as anything. And this is a good use of that, really. It's got a good balance of personal struggle and a broader, more academic struggle, and they work together well. Again, the plotline isn't terribly complicated, but it doesn't need to be, because it's about this character and her determination, and she also just happens to be a bug-person on a planet seeded by a life-bearing comet from another planet.

JX4068 - HereComesEverybody
Writing about a robot is tricky business, but I'm a tricky customer. You break out of the robot voice twice, once for the paragraph from a creature's perspective, which isn't signaled terribly well so I missed it and thought the robot was watching an animal shoot beams out of its mouth. The second one, where you talk about the things it can't hear, I thought was much more effective and fitting. Aside from that, the most interesting bits are the ironically long periods of time without contact/maintenance. The rest, if informative, is deliberately pretty bland and robotic, and while that may be on point, it wasn't the most exciting thing to read.

Acceptance - Bad Seafood
This was the stand-out of the week, in a week with a lot of good showings. I could easily have given the win to Cenotaph too. This works almost like a small anthology, weaving a bunch of stories together through a shared emotion. The only thing that bothered me upon reading it was that the transitions, until I figured out that they were happening, felt a little too subtle. (At first, I thought there were just four people standing around after the first transition.) If you highlighted the idea that these two were alone, and these new two were also alone, that might help, or maybe referring to them only as nouns like the Warlord, et cetera--though that would change the tone somewhat, so maybe not. I think you'd just need to make the first transition clear, though, and then the reader would have the idea of shifting perspectives and expect it to happen again. It was the strength of the core idea that made me give this the win even despite stumbling over the first transition.

Fire Opal - sandnavyguy
This story's biggest flaw is that it's a bit too obvious and a bit too just-so. Someone steals a strangely alluring item from a hospital patient, and begins to get an itch on their torso. Could it be cursed?? And then I'm not sure why it's specifically an Australian aboriginal stone that has to be returned to Ayers (not Ares) Rock. You could have fluffed it out with a bit more research, maybe, but as it is it's really just a macguffin, as is the element of the past--and then the story ends where it seems like it ought to begin. Why did I get a story about theft at a hospital instead of a rollicking outback adventure?

The Men Who Lived Forever - crabrock
Another basic plot that's made good through details. This could be one of the good Black Mirror episodes, or if you changed some of the nouns around, you could easily make it be about vampire hunters, or something. There's a strong sense of tension throughout this which works well for the sort of thriller vibe this is going for, and the resolution puts an interesting twist on the idea of "I won't kill you, I'll make you one of us," by time-skipping to show just how much his character's been changed.

Letters of the Confessor of Schwerkraftfälle - RandomPauI
Were you toxxed or something? Anyway, I'm not sure what the point of this was, or more specifically why it's got the framing of being published in the 1970's or what I'm supposed to take away from this. I'd write more but I don't want to spend more words critting this than the story itself has.

An End to Global Warming - Fuzzy Mammal
This story has an interesting core idea to it, though I think in the end the story stops where it would be getting interesting. Was the blood on their hands enough to start a new ice age? Do they use the freezing effects to break out of prison? Did she escape and go on to do ecoterror crimes for the good of the environment?

The Planet Is Fine - Sham bam bamina!
ackshually bats didn't evolve until the eocene which was roughly 10 mya later your story sucks now

More seriously, I think this story is a decent idea, though I think thematically it would make the most sense to line up "the dying" as the protagonists--so instead of mammals in the first section, write it from the perspective of a dinosaur dying while mammals watch and wait for it to keel over, or something. My brain kind of wants to look for some sort of moral here, but I think the point is really just that natural disasters are cruel. The middle section suggests some sort of human cause for what happens, but the other two disasters are entirely freak occurrences. This wasn't a bad read, and I enjoyed the idea of a sort of tube-worm-based ecosystem in the far future, but I felt like I was missing some uniting theme or thread. Those who have to give up the Earth, or something.

Towerfall - sebmojo
Isn't Towerfall one of those video games? Anyway looking back on it if this wasn't DQed it'd probably be an HM. I liked it, it starts off with a jovial sort of opening and that gradually gives way to the plot, though you still get little sprinkles of it later on as things get more serious. Also coming back to this now makes me realize that this is a good contrast to the losing story from this week--both are retellings of myths, but while the losing story just literally retold it, this puts it into a new context and builds on it to create its own story.

Invisible Clergy
Sep 25, 2015

"Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces"

Malachi 2:3


diffident, envious
Starlight
921 words



“I guess it could be worse,” Lagi said as he peered at his sous chef’s phone, his head peeking over his line cook’s shoulder.

The deadline loomed for Michelin inspectors to submit their lists. Auckland wasn’t exactly a top priority, but there had been rumblings of “Bring a Plate” being on the chopping board.

If Lagi had been asked a year ago about his restaurant’s chances, he would’ve been considerably more optimistic. A lot had changed since then.

The phone displayed a cartoon about the uncomfortably public rivalry between him and Jack, his former partner before their, as Jack put it “falling out.” Lagi had had other words for it, none of them publishable.

Jack stood portrayed magnificently as Bib himself, a crown adorned with a star upon his bald head. There was no question as to his identity. It bore his signature sleeve tattoos with knives and cans of Spam in something close to a Polynesian style, since no one legit would mark the haole with them, no matter how deep his obsession.

Lagi, recognizable by his trademark browline glasses stood crying at his feet in miniature, a tiny Bib, rattle in his hand and tears streaming down his doughy shoulders.

Talia shrugged and closed the tab. “I don’t see how, but you’re the boss.” She was a good sous, but she could be a pain in the rear end.

Rather than argue, Lagi quietly busied himself slicing Spam, imagining the pink meat as his rival’s neck. If only things could’ve stayed the way they were.

He cracked eggs into a pan and scrambled them with creme fraiche.

Jack and Lagi used to complement one another. Jack would handle the press and all the bullshit with his winning smile and Lagi could spend his time in the kitchen, where he was home. If he’d wanted to shake hands, he would’ve run for governor-general.

Lagi plated the eggs on a piece of crusty sourdough and dusted them with Maldon salt.

He’d picked up awards here and there, and Jack’d been the face of the place, but it hadn’t been enough for him. He wanted a prize to call his own.

In retrospect, letting Jack handled the finances was a bad decision. Chalk it up as a life lesson.

One plate blended into the next. They’d been in lunch service for an hour already. Talia walked by, cell in hand.

He was debating whether to tell her to put it away when she made the choice for him.

“I know what you’re about to say, but you’ll never believe this,” she said. He had to listen.

“It’s one of the inspectors. He’s been outed.” Talia put her cell on an empty plate before Lagi could portion out a scoop of white rice.

“Clark Campbell. Apparently, he’s going through an ugly divorce,” Talia said.

The garish letterhead of one of those gossip sites screamed at him from the screen.

“I don’t know,” Lagi began.

“No, it’s a reliable source; it’s the wife. She posted it an hour ago. He’s coming here,” Talia finished.

Lagi swallowed. “When?”

“Tonight,” Talia said. “The site pulled the article, this is a screenshot from before.”

“What’ll I do?” Lagi asked.

Talia shrugged. For once, she didn’t have an opinion. “I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

She did the cruelest thing and left him alone with his thoughts.

Lagi’s mind turned at once to his signature. It had soured his stomach ever since Jack’s betrayal. As far as the outside world was concerned, it ws the special of his restaurant, “gutz” and was served, as many of their dishes were, deconstructed, each component on a separate piece of custom-cut shale in the shape of the smaller islands of New Zealand.

Lagi had dismissed one of the cooks and given his hands something to do with prep. An hour had passed. Wasn’t much time left now. He couldn’t wait for this to be over.

His head waiter gave him the news: Campbell was here and didn’t much care what he was served.

Lagi gently warmed a spinach tortilla and set to shredding the Spam with a mandolin. Into the skillet it went, followed by cabbage, carrots, and onion.

He warmed a sauce of soy and lemon in a bain-marie, careful not to let it boil. Once the slaw was acquainted with the meat’s flavor, he wrapped it gingerly in the tortilla and drizzled the sauce, now thickened to a glaze over its surface. Tucked inside its blanket of green on a plate unadorned, it was a far cry from Jack’s presentation, complete with a metal flower, fashioned from the Spam’s can. He knew the comparison was inevitable, so it was futile to compete. Jack always was the one with the eye for the dramatic.

The waiter buzzed around him until he named the dish and brought it to life.

“Mu shu Spam, ready to go. Get it out of my sight, would you?” Blessedly, the waiter complied.

If the inspector had an opinion on his meal, Lagi didn’t hear it. He couldn’t bring himself to peer through the porthole on the door to the dining room.

He labeled containers and cleaned knives until it was time to clear down. His staff knew to leave him alone.

The phone in his office rang, to his surprise. He went to answer it. Though he’d taken great pains to avoid hearing the voice on the other for months, he had no trouble recognizing it.

“Congrats on the star, mate.” Lagi could smell his insincerity over the floor wax.

“But he hasn’t even written his review yet. He couldn’t have,” Lagi argued to the one person whose opinion he no longer valued.

“You’re not the only one with spies, bro. Anyway, what’d you serve him? Maybe I’ll come by and give it a try sometime,” he threatened.

Lagi swallowed and Jack’s laughter let him know he’d heard.

“Chill, man, just funnin’ with you. You take care.” He hung up without saying goodbye. Lagi poured himself a glass of wine savored Jack’s jealousy.

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Lead out in cuffs
Sep 18, 2012

Tanz mit laibach

Im der Pfunderdome!



Suburban Skategirls

1199 words

The warm summer breeze ruffled Jane's hair as she eased her board through the back streets. She curved around the bobbling figure of a skunk.

"Hey little fella, good luck foraging tonight," she said.

Half a block later she added: "wish me luck, too."

She came to a row of traffic cones, and slipped between them onto the open street beyond. The rumbling of her boards' wheels changed to a smooth purr as they met the fresh asphalt, and she gave a little shiver of delight. Nearby, stood right in front of the street by her friend Lizzie's place, was a cluster of couches. Punk rock blared from a boombox, and laughter rang out in the evening air. Jane powerslid to a stop, kicked up her board, and added it to the pile.

Lizzie jumped up from a couch and hugged her.

"Hey Jane, what's happening! Pull up a couch!"

"Lizzie! You weren't lying! Ten blocks of fresh tar and no cars?" said Jane.

"All the way down the hill -- the racing tonight's gonna be insane. But here, tank up first," said Lizzie.

Lizzie handed her a beer from the case on the coffee table. Jane cracked it, and scanned the gathering with trepidatious hope. Her eyes fell on a girl in a patch jacket with a nose ring and brown hair down to her waist. Jane's heart skipped a beat. She gulped down a mouthful of beer, took a deep breath, and sat down on the couch next to the girl.

"Hey, I'm Jane. I think we met after the downhill race last Sunday," she said.

"Shannon," said the girl. "Ha ha, I might kinda sorta remember that. I was also kinda sorta super drunk."

Shannon looked her up and down. Jane blushed.

"But nice to meet you again!" said Shannon. "Can I just say you have the cutest hair?"

Jane fingered her pixie-cut bangs, looked up and smiled.

"Thanks," she said.

"You compete?" said Shannon.

"Sometimes -- I'm kinda new," said Jane.

"Rad," said Shannon, "I'll enjoy watching you later."

"I'd like that," said Jane, trying hard not to grin too much.

Just then Shannon's eyes shifted to look past Jane.

"Oh hey babe!" she said, jumping to her feet.

Jane turned and her heart sank as Shannon ran up to a tattooed guy, and wrapped her arms around him. Shannon stepped back.

"Let's grab some beers and go up to my room," she said.

They disappeared into the house.

Jane sank into the couch and tried her hardest to disappear. She sipped her beer in silence as the party went on around her. After some time, Lizzie appeared with a giant pot of spaghetti and meatballs. She dropped it on the table, and banged on the side with a spoon.

"Alright you assholes! Dinner is served!"

Lizzie served herself a great big plate, and plopped down next to Jane. She got her fork halfway to her mouth, then stopped.

"Oh my god, Jane, you look like someone just ran over your puppy," she said. "Wait, this is about Shannon, isn't it? I've seen the way you look at her."

Jane bit her lip and nodded.

"Well, some advice then. a) That Rich guy is more of a passing fling than anything, b) Shannon is poly, and c) she is totally, absolutely into girls," said Lizzie. "I think you have a chance."

"You think so?" said Jane.

"I know so," said Lizzie. "Here, get some food in you. It'll make you feel better."

Jane got herself a plate and picked at it. Just then, Shannon emerged with Rich in tow, her make-up just a little smudged. She came up to Jane.

"Hey Rich, this is Jane. She does downhill too," said Shannon.

"Oh, did you just get started? Maybe I could give you some pointers," said Rich.

Jane could smell the beer on his breath.

Lizzie cut in. "Rich, don't be an rear end in a top hat. Jane could skate circles around you," she said. "Jane, back me up."

Jane glanced at Shannon.

"Um, well I did win the downhill meet last weekend," she said.

"Ha!" said Rich. "I'd like to see this. You on to race now?"

Jane weighed the situation. This might be a chance to impress Shannon.

"OK," she said.

"Actually, I bet I could beat you wearing plates of this spaghetti instead of shoes!" said Rich.

"What?" said Jane.

By this time the whole party had turned to look at them. Someone shouted "Race!" Then another, and another, until the chant of "Race! Race! Race!" filled the air. Soon, a pile of half-eaten plates had been gathered, and everyone was skating to the top of the hill.


Jane stood with one bare foot on the road, the other on her board. Noodles oozed between her toes. Keeping from sliding off was going to be hard enough, but the thought of turning turned her stomach queasy. She glanced at Rich, who leered back.

"Good luck," he said, "you're gonna need it."

Beyond him, Lizzie stood with her arm raised.

"OK, if you're gonna ruin my food like this, you better make this good," she said. "Ready! Set! Go!"

Jane pushed with her back foot and almost slid straight off the deck. But she shifted her weight and felt herself regain control. Taking a deep breath, she allowed gravity to carry her down the hill. She peeked to the left, just in time to see Richard fall flat on his rear end.

Well, so she'd proven her point. But she needed to finish this. She had a crowd to please, and a girl to impress. But the first turn loomed ahead.

Her stomach lurched as she started to curve and felt the spaghetti shift beneath her feet. Acting on instinct, she hung low, grabbed the edge of the board, and glided through.

Relief washed over her. She could do this! Wind filled her ears as she picked up speed. She eased through the next bend, and ...

... and spread across the road were five waddling bundles of black-and-white fluff. Her stomach clenched, and she jammed the board sideways. For a brief moment, she saw the entire skunk family puff their tails up in fright as she sailed over them. Then the road was rising to meet her, and everything went black.


Jane's head pounded, and the side of her leg was on fire.

"Jane, you OK girl? Talk to me."

It was Lizzie's voice. She opened her eyes to see Lizzie standing over her, medkit in hand, with Shannon in the background. Lizzie began checking her over, and pulled out a bottle of disinfectant. Meanwhile Shannon leaned in and put her hand on Jane's cheek.

"That. Was so loving stupid," she said. "I'm sorry Rich talked you into that. He can be an rear end in a top hat sometimes."

"Is he," began Jane.

"He went home after he fell. He was too embarrassed," said Shannon.

"I ... I was just trying to impress you," said Jane.

"That, um, OK, consider me impressed," said Shannon "but if I ask you out, can you promise you'll find less dangerous ways to impress me? "

Jane smiled. The pain seemed to recede a little.

"OK"



Terror, delight

Image: person on skateboard with spaghetti and meatballs on their feet.

Lead out in cuffs
Sep 18, 2012

Tanz mit laibach

Im der Pfunderdome!




The actual image, for reference:

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

I feel whimsical, you may all have an additional two hours

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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Very well. Prepare your chitlins for judgment, which will be tomorrow sometime.

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