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Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


ibntumart posted:

I've put off doing this for too loving long. I'm in and could use a song.

I offer you both greetings and Sax Rohmer #1.

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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



In, with Maize Stalk Drinking Blood.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eetIgGXH6DA

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


Signups close in five hours or so!

Both co-judge spots are still open as well, so if you want to judge, say the word.

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014


word

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


in

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YZDpksvNRjM

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


Signups are closed. One judge slot remains.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Thunderdome Recap!



From practicing our vocal talents in Week 297: And Now For Something Completely Different to coming to wish we'd never heard of the man in Week 298: Featuring Idris Elba to thanking God we've (arguably) grown up in Week 299: Aqua Teen Thunder Force, the recap crew is here to serve you, dear listeners, with another triple feature full of angst and regret. (Caution: product may contain eggs!) Our rollercoaster ride through an eeeeevil alchemist's lair and across a flatulent debate stage ends in a performance straight from the Land of Anime, better known to some as Schneider Heim's "Creatures of the Coin."

As Butler reloaded, the ninja retaliated with a burst of shuriken.


Episodes past can be found here!

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Antivehicular posted:

Signups are closed. One judge slot remains.

I can judge this week if you're still looking for a third

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

TD 302 Invisible Bartertowns Crits Part Uno

Got some crits for Surreptitiousmuffin's "What Ukto Saw", CantDecideOnAName's "Of Eluse, before the lightning", and Uranium Phoenix's "A Place With No Name"

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N9...iew?usp=sharing

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Just remembered that I never put out brawl crits for the kiwi-coffee thing. I know that was a bit ago so if anyone is still interested in crits, post for them. I'll provide in-depth crits upon request only.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Jay W. Friks posted:

TD 302 Invisible Bartertowns Crits Part Uno

Got some crits for Surreptitiousmuffin's "What Ukto Saw", CantDecideOnAName's "Of Eluse, before the lightning", and Uranium Phoenix's "A Place With No Name"

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N9...iew?usp=sharing

Good crits, ty

Chili posted:

Just remembered that I never put out brawl crits for the kiwi-coffee thing. I know that was a bit ago so if anyone is still interested in crits, post for them. I'll provide in-depth crits upon request only.
I always want crits. Always.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Uranium Phoenix posted:

Good crits, ty

I always want crits. Always.

You got it! Yours was one of my favorites of the week, so it'll be a pleasure to crit. crit by Friday

Deltasquid
Apr 10, 2013

awww...
you guys made me ink!


THUNDERDOME


Kaishai posted:

Thunderdome Recap!



From practicing our vocal talents in Week 297: And Now For Something Completely Different to coming to wish we'd never heard of the man in Week 298: Featuring Idris Elba to thanking God we've (arguably) grown up in Week 299: Aqua Teen Thunder Force, the recap crew is here to serve you, dear listeners, with another triple feature full of angst and regret. (Caution: product may contain eggs!) Our rollercoaster ride through an eeeeevil alchemist's lair and across a flatulent debate stage ends in a performance straight from the Land of Anime, better known to some as Schneider Heim's "Creatures of the Coin."

As Butler reloaded, the ninja retaliated with a burst of shuriken.


Episodes past can be found here!

Thanks for the crits. Sorry for not ending the story with everyone barfing apple-bug.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Deltasquid posted:

Thanks for the crits. Sorry for not ending the story with everyone barfing apple-bug.

Apology accepted.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat


Gravy Boat 2k

I wouldn't mind a crit for my beer story. I was surprised by how badly it went over.

Spark That Bled
Jan 29, 2010



Offerings for the Dead
1473 words
Prompt: "Rotten Stinking Mouthpiece"

The day Nana's parents had decided on becoming a host family for foreign exchange students, the first thing she felt was mostly indignation, at the decision that they made without even asking her about it. Instead, they sprung the news on her over dinner one night, after she had gotten back from her shift at the convenience store. Despite her protests, their applications had gone though, and their first student was on his way.

His name was Trey, and he was from Tulsa, Oklahoma. When he first arrived at the family home, Nana's parents seemed to be fascinated by his dark skin and unusual hair; Nana could see the uncomfortable look on his face as Nana's mother cooed over him. He usually kept himself to himself, either staying out and wandering through town, or studying hard at school. This suited Nana just fine, because she could go out and earn her pay while Trey studied, and neither could bother each other. And usually, Nana and Trey never crossed paths.

The only time of day that Trey and Nana ever were in the same room together for more than five minutes was during dinner time. The two would sit opposite each other at the dining room table, while Nana's parents took the other two sides; four sides of a perfect square.

Then, one evening, Nana saw Trey thoughtlessly stick his chopsticks straight down into his bowl of rice, like a flagpole pointing upwards, or a tall grave marker. She looked up at him, a strange chill running through her body, but he just looked at her back, looking straight into her eyes, boring through her.

"What are you doing?" Nana asked, in English.

Trey's eyes moved down to the chopsticks, then back up again to Nana's face. "Um?"

Nana pointed at the chopsticks. "What are you doing? You shouldn't be doing that." She looked at her mother, who had noticed as well. "You know, right?" She asked in Japanese. "He shouldn't stick his chopsticks in like that!"

Her mother nodded. "Nana, tell him that's how we offer food to the dead. That's why he shouldn't do that..." She looked over at Trey, who at least seemed to catch on to what Nana was saying, and shook her head at him, trying to add some motherly disapproval.

Nana ignored the way that strange chill was racing up her spine at her mother's words, and looked at Trey again. "She says that putting your chopsticks in like that is how we offer food to the dead." She grabbed Trey's bowl, tugging it away from him. "If you're going to leave it like this, it'll need to be left out for the ghosts to eat."

Nana's father groaned, having just enough of a grasp of English to get the gist of his daughter's words. "Nana-chan, please don't talk to Trey-san like that. He's almost fifteen already!"

Nana gave her father a dirty look, before turning back to Trey. "You understand me, right...?" She trailed off when she noticed the look in Trey's eyes. Not just that, but also the way that Trey seemed to be looking not at her, but past her... At some point just behind her head.

"So you actually offer food to the dead?" He asked, the strange look never leaving his face. "I guess that explains everything."

Quietly, Nana pulled the rice bowl into the centre of the table. "Explains what? Whatever it is, I don't have the time to listen." She pushed away from the dinner table and stood up. Before Trey or her parents could say anything, she was gone up the stairs, and headed straight for her room.

But that was only the beginning; some days, Trey would ask for a second bowl of rice, and stick his chopsticks straight down, just like the last time. Then he would push the bowl out into the centre of the table, taking pride of place until dinner was over, when Nana's mother would take the bowl up with all of the other dirty plates, to be emptied and washed.

Nana never bothered to ask Trey why he kept on doing that. She really didn't want to know: she still had a job to do, and she wanted to get away from the house as soon as possible.

Her mother and father didn't seem to mind the whole thing. They just thought that Trey was interested in cultural exchange, in his own little weird foreign way. It was not that different to them than trying on a kimono.

Eventually, Nana relented. Mostly because her parents, deciding that using the kitchen table for offerings would be taking up too much space, took Trey to the small family altar, and showed him how to properly pray and leave offerings there.

Trey took to the practice like a duck to water, leaving out a bowl of rice every day at dinnertime. He would also say a silent prayer as he did so, hands folded in front of him as he did so. Nana would quietly watch as he prayed, still not entirely sure how or why he decided to take an interest in religion.

Eventually on one night, after Trey placed his offering on the family shrine, Nana finally asked him the question that she had been mulling over for days.

"You've been doing that for months now," she said to him in English. "But I don't know who it is you're even praying to." She stepped closer to Trey, trying to hide the frustration on her face. "You can't be praying for our ancestors, since you hardly even know them. But it that's true, then what are you praying for?"

Trey turned and looked at Nana, not saying a word.

"I just wanted to know," Nana finally said. "I've seen you doing this for so long, I couldn't help but wonder."

Trey turned back towards the altar. "It's because of what you told me, way back when," he said, finally. "About offering food for the dead. Because if the dead need to eat here, then there's probably gonna be a lot of ghosts going hungry out there... because they have no one who cares for them.”

Nana blinked in surprise. This was hardly the kind of answer that she was expecting to hear out of somebody like Trey. "You're offering rice every day to, what, just whatever random ghost decides to pop in here for a look around?" She knew she must've sounded too incredulous, as Trey stared at her once more.

But Trey sighed and looked away. "There's gotta be a lot of ghosts out there, just roaming the world." He waved his hand back and forth. "Like, how many ghosts and gods are there in Japan, anyway?"

"Probably somewhere in the thousands?" Nana tapped her finger against her lip. "I don't really know all that much about ghosts and gods." She looked over at the altar. "Honestly, I wish I never told you about that stupid thing, if you were going to take it this seriously."

Trey just heaved a deep sigh, sitting himself down in front of the altar. "Like I said, it's all for the ghosts that are lost out there. The people who have no place to go, even when they're dead." He looked up at Nana once more. "The ghosts that have nobody who'll care for them, well..." He placed a hand over his chest. "I'll care for them, as much as I can."

Nana just gazed down at Trey in silence, searching the young man's face. Maybe for some secret smile, some kind of tell that he was making some kind of joke at her expense. But she couldn't.

Quietly, Nana knelt down next to Trey, in front of the altar. "Don't tell me you can see these ghosts, too?"

Trey shrugged. "Maybe. Sometimes I can catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. Or sometimes I think I see them in the mirror, like this hazy face that's just out of view." He noticed the curious look on Nana's face. "Why?"

Slowly, a smile spread over Nana's face. "Sorry, I just didn't expect someone who looks like you to be in touch with the spirit world." Then she paused for a moment, before a horrible crimson flush spread across her face. "I mean, because you look like such a good student, not..." She groaned, gritting her teeth. "Sorry..."

Trey just smiled and nodded. "Yeah, yeah. At least you apologised." He gave the altar another look, before he gave Nana a smile. "Do you wanna make an offering too?"

Nana just nodded.

From that moment on, a small tangerine sat on the family altar every day, next to a bowl of freshly made rice. A pair of offerings to the ghosts no-one else would pray for.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Prompt: Estate Sale Sign


Messiah and the Devout
1500 words

I’m trying to make my way east, to do a divine intervention on the United States Congress. But the way is long and full of snares. The devil has seen me stranded, misled, and, most recently, dragged into a gambling den in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The woman who rescues me from Lincoln is named Charity. We’re in her truck—that is, it’s the church’s truck, but she’s borrowing it for the day because she likes to go to the race tracks and minister to the gamblers—on our way to what she calls the Chapel.

“What’s your church like?” I ask her after we’ve driven in silence for a while. The Lincoln suburbscape is well behind us; now there are only endless fields and the relentless sky.

“Mmm,” says Charity. “We’re grassroots. We follow God’s still, small voice, not the whims of man, so some find us a little eccentric.”

I shift in my seat, pretty much wiggling from excitement. I’ve been around unbelievers for too long. You forget what it feels like to see your own faith reflected back at you from someone else’s face.

“You’ll like the Chapel,” Charity says. “Us and you—I think we’re each other’s kind of people.”

The Chapel turns out to be a fenced-off cluster of buildings set way, way back from the road. By the time we pull up to the main building—the titular Chapel, I guess—my butt is tingling from the bumpy ride down the long gravel driveway.

As we exit the truck, people emerge from the Chapel; women dressed in long, pretty dresses like Charity’s, men in faded workwear, and an exuberant burst of children in their Sunday best. Charity calls out a cheerful greeting, and moments later women surround me. They coo over my dirty pink hair, comment that my jeans look like they’re about to fall off my body for how skinny I am after weeks on the road. They don’t waste any time furnishing me with soap, towels, and a pretty, clean dress.


The dining hall is a standalone building, long and low and lit within by more candles than I’ve ever seen in one place before. Children scamper around under the huge trestle table. I don't see any men. As soon as Charity sees me all fresh and dressed up, she smiles and beckons me over to where she’s sitting with the other women.

“You look like an angel,” she says as I take a seat at the table beside her.

"Compared to Lincoln, this is basically heaven," I say. "God doesn't always shoot in straight lines, but They always hit Their mark."

Charity and the other women give me a strange look that I can’t read, but before I can get anxious about it, the men emerge into the dining hall through a pair of swinging doors. They’re carrying trays of roasted vegetables, fresh bread, and beef drowned in gravy. My stomach howls at the sudden bouquet of food smells.

The men keep their eyes downcast as they arrange the food on the table. When they’re finished serving us, they go sit at the far end of the table, well away from the food. No one else comments on this, so I go along with it, because at this point I’m just happy to be around believers.

“So you’re on a mission from God,” Charity says after we’ve all served ourselves. “What’re you going to do when you get to D.C.?”

I wipe gravy off my chin. “That’s up to God. If I think about it too much, They can’t work through me.”

One of the other women is frowning at me. “You sound like some kinda polytheist, with all the ‘they’s.”

I smile my most messianic smile, spread my hands, and say, “It’s none of my business what God is or isn’t. I just follow where the shepherd leads.”

The table goes awkwardly silent except for the scrape of cutlery and the wet smack of mastication. I chance a look down at the men, but they’re not meeting my eyes either.

“Don’t you think,” Charity says gently, “that it’s a little much to try and cary God’s whole plan on your shoulders? Maybe you were delivered to us—into fellowship—for a reason.”

“I’m open to the possibility,” I say.

“The God of Moses was an angry boy-child,” Charity says. “The God of the new millennium is a mother whose arms and womb are open. And us, we’re Her vessels here on Earth.”

I make an agreeable sound and shove more food into my mouth. I’m not about to quibble over God’s particulars because, like, They are what They are.

“Yeah, I feel like I’ve been, you know, gestating something the whole time I’ve been on the road,” I say in between bites. “Through all the tribulations, I can still feel something growing inside of me, waiting to be unleashed.”

I don’t really ‘get’ their lingo, but God put these people in my path and so I will adapt. Clearly they’re doing some gender-norm-inverting, fertility metaphor thing. I can work within that parlance, no problem-o.

Charity has barely touched her food. She’s nodding vigorously. The men still aren’t looking at us, but I sense a keenness from their quiet end of the table. Something expectant.

“We need your strength and faith,” she says. “Through you, She may flow powerfully into this place.”

“You should come with me. To Congress, I mean,” I say, feeling a rush as I imagine heading east with a whole cadre of apostles behind me.

Charity reaches over and lays her hand on top of mine. “We will. We, you, and all our children will march on the unholy of unholies, bearing God’s fierce love.”


After dinner, Charity leads me to a small, one-room cottage that stands in a row of similar cottages.

“Think about what we discussed. Pray on it,” she advises before leaving me alone in the candlelit room.

I do pray, but it’s out of gratitude rather than in search of advice. I’ve never felt more on-the-path than I do now, surrounded by this endearingly strange flock.

I must’ve fallen asleep praying because I wake up to the sound of the front door creaking open. I open my eyes a crack, keep my breathing slow and regular so the intruder doesn’t know I’m awake.

He—that silhouette can only be a he—lingers in the doorway for a while, rocking his weight back and forth from foot to foot like a little kid who has to pee.

I sit up in bed, suddenly aware that God does not mean for me to fear this man.

“Come on in,” I say.

He all but jumps out of his boots. “I—Charity said I was supposed to—that is, if you wanted. I wasn’t gonna do anything greasy.”

A missing piece falls into place with a thud, and I’m suddenly humiliated to have not seen it sooner. All the womb and gestation talk. Not totally a metaphor. They want this man to put a baby in me. Because taking sixteen to eighteen years to raise another believer is the most efficient way to bring urgently needed spiritual retribution to the American government, of course.

“You don’t really wanna knock up a lady you just met, do you?” I ask.

“Not even a little, miss,” he says, and his silhouette visibly relaxes.

“They make you do this sort of thing a lot?”

“Only with the Chapel ladies. Never with a stranger, ‘til you came along. Charity says you’re special.”

I put my face in my hands and say a silent prayer apologizing for my hubris. The road east is long and full of snares, and some of those snares are soft as velvet. Here I am, using these misguided people as mirrors to admire my own holiness. Alleged holiness, anyway.

“Miss? You alright? Should I go?”

My head snaps up, almost of its own accord. “No.”

I fumble around for the matchbook, light the candle on the bedside table.

“Let me see your eyes,” I say. Then, when he hesitates: “It’s not for anything ‘greasy.’ I just want to see something.”

He’s got a soft face that will probably take on a hounddog droop in another decade or so. His eyes are gentle and sad, smart but not skeptical. They reflect the candle as two tiny teardrops of flame, and within those pinpricks of light, I see this man at my side on the long road east. I see twisting highways, clouds of hissing flies, corpses that speak fire, and in the distance, always in the far eastern distance, the great pulsating black mound that is Washington D.C..

“Leave this place with me,” I say.

He nods; whatever he sees in my face is enough.

On the long, dark walk back out to the main road, we hold hands. Not as lovers, but two children of God finding their way back to the path of righteousness.

Captain_Person
Apr 7, 2013

That was a BAD business decision!


Eviction Notice
1,485 words
Spent Gladiator 2

It took three hundred and forty-seven days to evict James Hegarty.

The first notice arrived tucked in between his bank statement and a reminder to attend a ‘Get Work Fit’ course. It was a short, unassuming letter, handwritten on printer paper that said his landlord regretted the circumstances but required James to move out within forty-two days.

James read it in his kitchen while holding a mug of tea close to his chest. He blinked, bleary-eyed in the cold morning, reading it over again in silence. Cars driving past outside, taking his neighbours on their morning commute sounded muted, like they were far away and disappearing into the distance. His hands were shaking slightly by the time he dropped the letter in the bin and he left the kitchen in a rush, as if putting as much distance between him and the letter could make some kind of difference.

He spent the next week shuffling around the flat, listlessly trying to clean the mugs in the kitchen or tidy the dirty laundry from his bed. He’d remember the notice every five minutes, or at least it felt that often to him, and he’d chew his fingernails as he tried to think of a response. Some way to ask for a reprieve without sounding like he was begging. Some way to demand he be allowed to stay. Some better explanation, some reason why he was being tossed out.

All he knew is that he could not leave. He could not afford the bond on a new place, could not afford what would likely be a higher rent, could not afford the movers or a truck or even the petrol to check out new places. Unemployment had hit him hard, drained all his savings and then some. He didn’t even have enough left to heat the flat in the middle of winter. This place had been good to him, and while things hadn’t exactly been pleasant they’d been bearable. That was about to be taken away from him, at the whims of somebody else.

Those forty-two days began to constrict around James with each restless night. Every morning he’d wake up and be reminded that he was getting kicked out. Every evening he’d lie in his bed, staring down the ceiling and desperately searching for a way out. He’d imagine getting into arguments with his landlord, yelling at him until he was permitted to stay, until he got an apology. These would run around his head for most of the day, pitting him against an imagined adversary that he couldn’t turn off in his head.

* * *

It was a week before he was due to leave when his landlord, Anthony, sent him a message. Much like the letter it was brief. It just said that he was going to stop by the next morning if that was fine -that it wasn’t an inspection or anything like that, and he wasn’t going to ask to come inside.

James’ reply was even briefer. “Okay, see you then.” He still couldn’t think of something to say, and he was furious.

He’d been awake for hours when the doorbell finally rang. As James opened the door Anthony stepped back to give him space. Anthony was only dressed in jeans and a grey sweater, but he stood in stark contrast to James’ tattered dressing gown and stubble. His smile faltered as he took in James’ appearance. They stood there on opposite sides of the doorway for a long moment before Anthony spoke up.

“Hey James, how are you doing?” he asked, polite and trying to sound chipper.

Yeah, I’m doing alright thanks,” James replied.

“Good, yeah that’s good.”

Both men stood looking past each other - James gripping the handle of the door, Anthony fidgeting with his car keys.

Anthony finally broke the silence again. “Listen, I just wanted to check in on you. I know it’s not ideal, asking you to move out and that’s never fun, but my daughter just got out of hospital, and we’ve got her at our place for now but she really needs a place of her own, y’know?” He paused to take a breath, the cheer gone from his voice.

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to kick you out. You’ve done nothing wrong, but I’ve got to help my daughter out. You understand that, right?”

As Anthony spoke James’ grip on the door handle grew tighter, the sharp metal edges digging into his palm. It hardly registered to him. All his attention was on Anthony.

“Sure. But I can’t leave.”

To his credit it took Anthony barely a moment to recover. Only a brief flash of puzzlement across his face indicated that he wasn’t expecting that response.

“No, yeah, I get that moving is difficult and I can maybe give you another two weeks to get things together but-”

“No. it’s just not possible.”

“Come on, it’s my daughter-”

“And it’s my life. I can’t just move out.” James’ voice was steady, barely containing his anger. “I don’t have anywhere else to go. I don’t have any money to go anywhere else. I will not be discarded just because your kid can’t find a place to stay.”

“That’s unfair!” Anthony snapped back. “She just got out of hospital, she’s not up to finding her own place yet. So I’m going to let her stay here while she recovers. Got that? Look, I’ll give you three more weeks, okay?”

“I can’t!” James yelled back. “I just can’t. I have nowhere I can go, I just don’t. I’m not lying, and I’m not leaving.”

Anthony began to step away, trying to make eye contact with James. “Three weeks, James. That’s all I can do for you. I’ll drop the letter off later, make it official.”

He turned to leave, and had almost made it back to his car when James finally slammed the door closed.

* * *

True to his word Anthony dropped off the second notice an hour later. James watched him through his bedroom window, not moving as his landlord hurried from his car to the letterbox. When he drove away he finally released the breath he didn’t realise he’d been holding.

He was still angry, still completely lost. He knew he was being unreasonable, but what other choice did he have? He didn’t have the luxury of being able to pack up at somebody else’s whim. More than anything else, that’s the point he kept coming back to in his imagined confrontations - that he had no choice, no chance to ask for help.

He left the second notice on the floor by the front door. A week later Anthony drove by again - James saw him pull up, but he stayed in his car, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. A few days later another letter arrived, thicker, the address scribbled messily across the envelope. It got left on the floor too.

The weeks slipped past. James felt like he was suffocating in the flat, spending all day trying to think up a way out. More letters began piling up - bank statements, credit card statements, more eviction notices, each more official than the last. He hadn’t tried applying for a new job in months, the employment websites blurring together whenever he did look. He was running close to the edge, surviving on a meager handout.

He packed up his stuff, and then unpacked it again. He ignored requests to appear before the tenancy tribunal. Anthony stopped by one last time, to shout through the door that the police would have to get involved before long, almost pleading with him. He didn’t hear a thing. Anything outside the door was too far away to hear.

He wandered from room to room. The flat began to feel smaller, stifling. The pressure to leave, to just quit and be done with it was building with every day. He was months past when he should have left, he knew he should have left, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

On day three hundred and forty-seven he knew that he’d had enough. Everything on his bed he threw into a suitcase. Toiletries, what food that hadn’t gone off when the power was disconnected, and an old book went into his backpack. He had few personal mementos, some photos of distant family, but it all could fit into a plastic bag, and everything went into the back of his car. Everything that was left, he decided, Anthony could deal with. He didn’t even bother to close the door on the way out. The flat wasn’t his place any more. It had been ruined for him. You couldn’t expect him to live in a place like that. As the engine of his car came to life, his eyes dropped to the fuel gauge hovering just above empty. He didn't know where to go. Just where to leave behind.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' -Samuel Johnson

Fissures

1189 words

Flash: Onions

The ice on Lake Palmer makes the sound of a flexing saw blade, again and again, punctuated by the occasional pop or hiss. It's ready to crack open and start melting in earnest any day now. Part of me wants to see it happen, but it's an ugly little part that won't be getting its way. It won't happen today, and I won't be back here this season.

“I didn't think you'd come.” I hear Derek's voice behind me. I don't turn around.

“I almost didn't.”

“What's do different about this year?”

I almost smile. “Well, there's this girl.”

* * *

She moved here last summer, came to Gull High in my class. I barely noticed, at the start of the year. Her older sister Kelly immediately executed some kind of power play among the rich/mean/popular clique that was hard not to notice even two grades down, but Daphne, in my own class, was quiet, solitary, bookish. Like me, I guess.

So when Mr. Harker pressed the button to lift the screen up and we all saw the words “gently caress this stupid Earth” in giant letters on the whiteboard, in purple permanent marker as it happened and she started laughing like a RenFest fool and Harker hit her with detention, it was a bit of a shock. Harker called Ms. Bailey in. Takes two teachers to give serious punishment.

“And what makes you think she’s guilty?” said Ms. Bailey.

“The way she laughed,” he said. “Do you think it was someone else?”

“Oh, no,” she said. “That's Daphne's handwriting. But do you have her partner in crime?”

“What?”

“This is a two person job, clearly. She'd want a lookout.”

“Hm,” said Mr. Harker. “Care to name your accomplice? Or shall the whole class be joining you in detention?”

Ms. Bailey did not look pleased by this turn of events. Daphne's eyes darted around the room and landed on me. “Aaron.”

“Interesting,” said Mr. Harker. “Is that so?”

“Yes, Mr. Harker,” I lied. “Watched the door.” There's an art to talking to teachers with such a complete absence of sass that it comes right out the other side and they don't know what to do. Except Mr. Harker knew exactly what to do, which was give me detention.

Harker runs a serious detention, too. Took my phone, had Daphne empty pockets and bags before he would believe she didn't carry one. No reading. No writing. No studying, no talking. Eyes front or down, and no sleeping either, nothing but pure enforced boredom and the theft of time. I'm used to that kind of solitude, so it was mostly wasted on me. Daphne, not so much. By the end she was itching at her arms like a woman compelled, then forcing herself still again.

After, she came up to me. “Listen, I'm sorry-”

“Don't worry about it,” I said. “But, um, why me? Out of everyone-”

“It had to be someone they'd believe,” she said. It made sense. Just about everyone else had friends. “I guess I just panicked.”

“Because you didn't want them to figure out you did it all by yourself. You didn't need a lookout, because you were there by yourself, late at night or early in the morning. You have a key.”

“You're pretty smart, lonely boy,” she said.

“Smart enough to think of some better uses for that.”

And that's how it started. For the next month we were the scourge of all of the lazy, woefully unwoke, and otherwise bad teachers at Gull. Every mostly harmless prank you could imagine, we pulled, right until someone wised up enough to change the locks.

She started crying when the key didn't fit. Started and didn't stop. I had to drag her away from the door before we caught too much attention, over to the McDonald's that was just starting breakfast. Still crying, but with pancakes, we waited for the school day to start.

“Are you my friend?” she asked.

I didn't answer, for far too long. “Has anyone told you about Derek?” She shook her head. “I used to have a friend. A best friend. Only friend. Inseparable. Then three years ago, at the end of winter.” Her tears were contagious, and I hadn't ever actually told this story before to anyone. Everyone already knew. “We were out on the ice. Not even skating, just running and sliding around. I fell down on my butt, and Derek started laughing, and I started laughing, and then the ice gave way.”

Daphne put her hand on mine. I swallowed, then continued. “It was just luck that someone was out walking their dog and saw it, called 911. Firemen pulled us out. We were both dead, no heartbeat. They brought me back, but not him.”

“Now I feel even more awful, crying about keys and nothing, when-”

“Stop,” I said. “It's not nothing.” I reversed our hands, mine on the outside now. “And you are my friend.”

We found other things to distract ourselves together. Reading books we hadn't gotten around to yet and talking them over, a two person book club. Watching strangers at the mall and making up improbably cruel stories about them. One night we stayed together past dawn, which led to our parents awkwardly pressing unwanted condoms and advice at us. It wasn't like that. We just took turns, crying and holding on tightly, and talked.

She showed me her scar, high on her wrist, flanked by hesitation marks. I took her here, to the lake, where at the start and end of winter I would walk to the edge and turn away, wondering if it was just cowardice that stopped me from taking a few steps more. Where I heard, where I still hear some part of myself chide me with Derek's voice.

And then she left. Everyone at Gull is some kind of rich or other. My family is rich on paper, owns land and hires seasonal help, but we're one bad season away from the next bankruptcy, and any one of those could be one of the bad chapters. Daphne's family is the real kind of rich, the kind that uses 'winter’ as a verb. They wintered in Florida this year, Daphne and Kelly making arrangements to study at home as much as they would let them. And she still wouldn't get a phone. She didn't want any record of her she could avoid. “I don't want anyone to have anything to remember me by,” she said when we said goodbye.

“They'll always remember what you wrote on the blackboard,” I said.

“Then that will have to do.”

* * *

I'm out here with the ice’s effort at modernist music, atonal and mesmerizing, and my own bad thoughts in Derek's voice. Different bad thoughts than usual. That she's making another scar, that his attempt would take.  “Or that she's hooking up with some buff yacht club guy.” Where had that come from? That would be good, not bad. Also unlikely.

“I thought you'd be here.” It's Daphne.

I turn around, smiling. I take her hand, and we walk away from the lake together.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


Flash: Fault Lines

A Mistake
545 Words

Alice’s problem was much the storm as the security. Thick torrents of water splashed off the façade of the Grand Canaletto Hotel. A sopping wet activist shouted at the faceless suits pushing their way toward the entrance. As rain threatened to consume them all, she watched a set of guards work their way through the line, checking names and IDs before allowing the visiting economists, politicians, and staff into the North American Symposium on Global Trade and Economics.

“Aw jeeze,” she muttered, pushing her recorder and reporter’s notebook deep into the seems of her purse. She craned her neck, looking for a way near the line without getting thrashed by security. Seeing none, she let out an exasperated sigh. “Aw jeeeze.”

Ignoring the side-eye from a nearby bystander, she pushed her way across the flooded street onto the opposite corner. From what she could tell, there was no good way near the hotel. The front door was guarded. The garage, even more so. She could try bluffing it, giving a fake name and insisting she was on the list, but she was too young to be someone important. Her accent, a memento from a childhood in rural Minnesota, was bound to get questioned. If she didn’t get booted, she’d probably wind up in a jail cell.

Of course, that might be preferable to the alternative. She had no intention of ringing up the nice folk at the St. Cloud Gazette to tell them about her failure. She could only imagine how her boss would react if she let him know that she had been unable to register for the conference in advance, that the website had not registered her press pass due to some technical error. She didn’t want to have to tell them that they’d spent bookoo bucks flying her out to Halifax only for her to get locked outside. That’d look real nice during the paper’s next round of lay-offs.

There would be no surviving that deluge.

She wiped wet off her face and walked to a separate corner. In a window too high to climb, a man in a tan coat laughed at some silent joke. A pimply-faced waiter carried chocolate-covered strawberries to a concealed crowd. Laughter intermingled with the low roar of thunder. Someone far away shouted into a bullhorn about Russia and war crimes.

She crossed another street, as if turning enough corners would cause some kind of transformative change. When she was younger, she would close her eyes and count to ten and pretend as though the world could change if she wanted it bad enough.

As she stared upward, a sheet of icy water splashed against her back and soaked into her jacket. She gasped, turned, and watched as a long black car came to a stop along the curb. She had barely a moment to recognize the small American flags on the front before she found herself moving toward the car. She held her umbrella over the door and pressed her luck. Her only way inside would be hiding behind the coattails of someone else.

“Hi, sir, welcome to Halifax. Sorry about the weather. I’ll be helping you inside today.”

The man inside blinked in confusion for a moment before smiling. Through the rain, she smiled back.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



PCS
1037 words

I was going to have to take the bus anyway. There wasn't a high school on base, just an elementary and a middle school, so even if I hadn't moved, I would have had to start taking the bus over to the next civilian town, where the high school was.

I'd always walked to school. There were shortcuts through the commons behind the houses, along the service road that curved around everyone's back porch, up the hill past the athletic fields, and all the way up to school. When it rained, I bobbed along under an umbrella. When it snowed, I packed my shoes on top of my books and squeezed the zipper tight around them.

It rained the first day. I've never really minded the rain. Puddles open up the ground like skylights and the whole world shimmers and you get to feel the raindrops patter all around you. Water rippled by against the curb, carved into standing waves by clumps of leaf and twig that had gotten stuck. Half of me wanted to stick my toe in and start nudging the blockage around, but the other half of me didn't want to look like a middle-schooler in front of the other people waiting for the bus (and two of them were boys.)

The bus stop was at a corner, and cars rolled by both ways, casting up tracks of gray water in their wakes, cutting through the sound of the rain. A pang of fear bit me when the bus passed by going the other way, but no one else was bothered, so I waited with them, until it came back and hissed to a stop.

The umbrella sprinkled me with water as I tugged it shut. I scooted into the first empty seat I found, facing a patch In the green plastic upholstery, and with my feet wedged forward by the wheel well. I wasn't sure what to do with my umbrella, so I held it in my hand, dripping onto the floor, while I buckled my seatbelt.

I was the only one who buckled my seatbelt, and I left it on the whole time. Someone else sat down next to me, and she spent most of the ride talking with her friend beside her.

The thing on base is that everyone moves. Three years was usually the maximum, and it wasn't synched up or anything, so each year would be one-third new kids. Friends came quick, and I never really thought much about it, until suddenly I was the odd one out.

I leaned against the window, imagined the conversations I'd have with my old friends, and watched the roads roll by. Roads and cars and intersections. By all accounts, the town we'd moved to was tiny—it wasn't even a town technically, but it felt like a city to me. There were storefronts and gas stations next to houses and it didn't seem to make sense. School was a good twenty minutes' drive out of town.

I hung up my umbrella in the locker and slipped on the combination lock I'd practiced with after buying it at the PX. Class was probably the most normal thing. We got textbooks and outlines and first assignments and I wrote them all down on a sheet of paper I used because they didn't pass out an agenda like they had in middle school.

Lunch was a cold sandwich, a pack of juice, an apple, and a blueberry-yogurt granola bar that was too dry and crunchy. I ate at a corner of a table by myself, listening to the noise all around me and trying not to blush when I heard someone swear. It's not like I hadn't heard my parents swear before, but it was the first time I'd heard anyone my age say anything harsher than 'crap'.

In art was the first chance I got to talk to someone. We sat two at a side on stools around the big black tables, and each table had gotten one primary color of colored pencils to work with. I shared shades of red with the other girl next to me, and eventually we started talking. Anime, mostly. She was more into it, and she'd clearly done a lot of drawing before, because she was turning out a pretty good drawing of Inuyasha while we talked. I knew Yu-Gi-Oh and that was about it, but it was enough to keep her going.

I don't remember how it came up. It was some offhand thing she said, I can't remember the words. Something about her dad: her parents were divorced. It left me feeling nervous and warm and sweating slightly. I can't explain why, and it wasn't like I was scared but it was real in some way I had never considered. Like a little kid the first time their pet dies, realizing there's things you've never considered. It wasn't like I didn't know what divorce was, but it had always been just a concept, like superheroes, or war.

I didn't bring it up. She offered to have me over at her place and show me some of the DVDs she had. I said sure, and she told me which bus she went home on.

Except when I was climbing up the steps onto her bus, the driver turned in his seat and gave me a narrow look and asked me if this was my bus route. I could have lied, but instead I stammered something about going to a friend's house, and I had to climb back off the bus through the line of people, and back onto the bus that had taken me there.

On my walk back from the bus stop, I unfolded my umbrella. The webbing bounced against my leg as I walked to the end of the sidewalk, then kept going along the edge of the asphalt, down the road toward my house. The next time I had art class, I apologized to her, though she didn't think it was a big deal. She gave me her address to meet up after school anyway.

It still took that whole first year of high school before I managed to catch up with everyone else.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



song was "this year" btw

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


The river goes where the water flows; no one knows why submissions (are) closed.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

to post crits for this week, the last week i judged and the last week i failed by Friday 2359pst

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


Week 305: The Results

I'm going to try and accentuate the positive here. 46% of you who signed up posted a story! And they were decent stories! Thanks, 6 people!

No DMs/HMs this week -- the pack's a little sparse for that.

Your Loser is QuoProQuid, whose story was short, uneventful/unfinished-feeling, and didn't really hit the prompts. Nonetheless, I thank QPQ for posting it. In a week with a failure rate above 50%, I feel like it's worth praising people who posted, so sincerely, thanks.

Your Winner is Sitting Here, for a well-constructed story of a character on an uncertain spiritual journey, running into strange cults on the road, and fumbling towards or away from intimacy, as part of a story cycle that none of us were sure we were caught up on -- and if that's not enough to win Mountain Goats Week, what is?

I yield the throne to our Once and Future (and Present) Blood Queen.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



paromt

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



im and in for the upcoming week so i can keep saying parpt

cptn_dr
Sep 7, 2011

It's just so good!


Yeah I'll pre-emptively to make up for this week's shameful display.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Crits for week 305

6 entries. Tsk I say to you. Tsk.

Here are my thoughts for you excellent non-failures. By not failing, you are all winners.

I didn’t listen to your flashrule songs so if I didn’t understand your genius that’s probably why.


Offerings for the Dead by Sparks that Bled

This has a sweet ending; I can picture these two teenagers deciding to get along despite their lack of understanding of each other.

However, overall the story doesn’t really work for me. Trey’s behaviour to start with is incredibly rude and seems implausible for someone who has decided to go on exchange to Japan. Nana’s response is equally rude, and while perhaps understandable for a teenager, also seems implausible.

And then suddenly Trey switches to being all deep and meaningful, and Nana switches from resenting him to allowing him to teach her about her own culture, and then he can see ghosts?

This would have worked better if we’d gotten to see more of Trey as a character at the beginning and their relationship had been able to develop a bit more. There needs to be something more to motivate and explain his odd behaviour - the fact that he can see ghosts could work but this needs to be worked in earlier.

It’s a little dull but I have no complaints about the prose.

5/10


Messiah and the Devout by Sitting Here

Ok, so we’ve got a weird yet gentle religious cult, some gender-norm inversion, and a woman on a mission to Washington DC for reasons best known only to herself and her gender-neutral deity. And then a man is sent to impregnate her, but he’s not really into this whole deal, and then they leave.

As you might be able to tell from my insightful summary, I didn’t really get this. But, on the upside, I did enjoy reading it. The writing is good. I was genuinely interested to see where this was going and I enjoyed the strange yet endearing protag and her grabbag of beliefs. It’s just that, by the end, I didn’t really understand where I was.

6/10


Eviction Notice by Captain_Person

On the one hand this an interesting portrayal of someone spiralling down in a difficult and depressing situation. On the other hand nothing happens. The protag doesn’t do anything to change his situation until he finally leaves for no apparent reason, and the landlord doesn’t do much apart from yell at him through the door. 347 days is also a really long time to not just have the Police turf someone out (particularly as it seems to be implied that he’s run out of money to pay rent).

This would have worked better if the two characters had had some impact on each other. For example, if James’ plight had caused Anthony to act more compassionately, or if Anthony’s hard-nosed behaviour had led James to take steps to help himself. Otherwise if it was just meant to be a window into James’s head as his life unravels then we needed to see more of his internal world.

It also doesn’t hit the prompt very well, as there’s no real misunderstanding or different views of the world between the two characters.

5/10


Fissures by Thranguy

I liked these two teenagers. There’s just enough about them to make them interesting, and I enjoyed picturing their prank spree. However, while the bones are good there’s not a whole lot of meat on them.

Something about the ending doesn’t quite work. I thought Daphne was in Florida, how does she just pop back up out of nowhere? I mean, it’s sweet, but also a bit weird.

6.5/10


A Mistake by QuoProQuid

This is a nicely described moment in someone’s bad day. But that’s about it. It feels like half a story. I assume Alice tricks her way into the conference and that’s… good, I guess?

This doesn’t really hit the prompt, which asked for the conflict in the story to be based on two characters’ different views of the world.

4/10


PCS by Djeser

This is quiet and sweet in its own way. Not a whole lot happens but I didn’t really mind. I liked the protag and could relate to the awkward teenage anxiety about not understanding things everyone else takes for granted, like how to catch the school bus.

I don’t understand why she’s so sheltered though - I thought she grew up on a military base? Or did I misunderstand something? I also can’t work out why, when it snows, she takes her shoes off and puts them in her bag on top of her books. And what does the title mean?

I liked the ending but the final sentence felt a bit redundant.

This got a higher mark from me than Sitting Here’s story, but in the end I agreed with the other judges about giving Sitting Here the win. Overall Sitting Here’s story is better constructed and has fewer issues. But I personally liked this one the best because it hit a relatable note for me.

7/10

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Thunderdome Week 306: Strange, Familiar Intelligence (corvids vs cephalopods)



Oh cool, I won, it's my turn to preside over the parade of loving failures that has come to characterize Thunderdome.

I considered trying to come up with something gimmicky and wacky to squeeze tepid blood from the idiot stone, but I think this week you're just going to write about stuff I like.

Okay so anyone who talks to me for longer than five minutes quickly learns that I loving LOVE corvids and cephalopods. They're loving smart, and probably represent the future of intelligence on Earth when we've all died from cancer of the funko pop, or whatever. But who will reign supreme once the apocalyptic dust has settled? Will it be the crow and the raven, with their mastery of the sky? Or it be the squid and the octopus, those strange lords of the deep?

When you sign up, you should select Team Corvid or Team Cephalopod. If one team gets an unfair number of entrants, I'll step in and we'll even it out. But mostly I want people to write about the animals they wanna write about. If you choose corvids, you're gonna write about crows, ravens, etcetera. If you choose cephalopods, you're going to write about squid, octopuses, cuttlefish, etc. I hope this is obvious, but one can't be too sure.

Your stories should explore the familiar, alien intelligence of these animals. I expect you to at least glance at a Wikipedia article.

WHAT I DON'T WANT:

  • An animal figuring out obvious human stuff. I'm not interested in reading your laborious description of "a building" or "a boat" through prosaic, ignorant animal terms.
  • Anthropomorphic animals. The point of this prompt isn't to write human-like animals, it's to write about animals who are intelligent in their own way.
  • Stories through the eyes of a human. Again, this is a prompt about exploring other kinds of intelligent life on Earth.

WHAT I DO WANT:

  • Ask fun questions: What sort of spirituality might these animals have/develop? What would their "cultural" values be? How would they express creative urges? How might their internal dialog differ from the internal dialog of human brains? Etc etc etc.
  • Think about voice. Not every animal protagonist/narrator needs to be distant, humorless, or (again) prosaic.
  • Feel free to explore the modern day intelligence of these animals, or speculate about a distant future where corvids/cephalopods are the dominant life form. Either approach is awesome!

Hopefully, you'll all do your very best, and at the end of the week we will have irrefutably settled the matter of which animals will inherit the Earth when humans are gone.

BONUS STUFF!

If you include a cool/cute picture of your chosen animal type with your signup post, you get 100 extra words.

If you , you get 200 extra words.

Base word count: 1200 words (up to 1500 words if you take both bonus options)
Signup deadline: Friday, June 15th at 11:59:59PM PST
Submission deadline: Sunday, June 17th, 11:59:59 PST
Judges:
This idiot
a different idiot (randompaui)
a different idiot from the second idiot (chili)

edit: oh yeah, because you're goons: no g-docs, no erotica, no political screeds, no insincere joke garbage that will make me think less of you as a person

TEAM CORVID
cptn_dr + 100 words for a cute pic
CantDecideOnAName
steeltoedsneakers
Captain_Person + 100 words for a noble pic
Thranguy
Meinberg
Yoruichi + 100 words for a tactical pic
tessdaterrible
Crabrock
Bad Seafood + 100 words for CANUCK <3 <3 <3
Solitair +100 words for a [series of warbling robot noises] pic

TEAM CEPHALOPOD
Djeser
Armack
Antivehicular + 100 words for a spooky pic
BabyRyoga + 100 words for a cuddly pic
Deltasquid + 100 words for a dapper pic
Magnificent7
ibntumart + 100 words for a blobby pic
Benny Profane + 100 words for a venerable pic
Kaishai

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Jun 16, 2018 around 06:38

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



ceph me baby

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Cephalopod. Also I didn't see 'no erotica' so I will safely assume you want to read the tentacle variety.

cptn_dr
Sep 7, 2011

It's just so good!


cptn_dr posted:

Yeah I'll pre-emptively to make up for this week's shameful display.

In! With Team Corvid.



Image credit to @Ravenmaster1 over on Twitter (an A+ follow if ever I knew one)

CantDecideOnAName
Jan 1, 2012

And I understand if you ask
Was this life,
was this all?


i am birb

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


Team Cephalopod for me, I think. Here's a dumbo octopus being an eerie sea weirdo, courtest of Wikipedia:


Also,

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


I've written too many bad words about tendrils. Gonna look up synonyms for corvid feathers instead for a change.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

There are hardly any crows or rooks in NZ (http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/rook). Can I please write about kaka instead? They are also cool and intelligent birds (http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/kaka).

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Yoruichi posted:

There are hardly any crows or rooks in NZ (http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/rook). Can I please write about kaka instead? They are also cool and intelligent birds (http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/kaka).

Part of this prompt is getting away from what you know! If I make an exception once, I'll have to do it for everyone who wants to substitute their local fauna. To be fair, the people who chose cephalopods are unlikely to spend a lot of time in close proximity to them.

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Captain_Person
Apr 7, 2013

That was a BAD business decision!


In for Team Corvid



And as promised for failing twice in a row.

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