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cptn_dr
Sep 7, 2011

It's just so good!


And that's the deadline, folks. Submissions closed.
If you get something submitted by judging time, I'll still crit it.

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dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Jumpers
1400 words

Jenny flew home across the sea on heavy steel wings, right into the storm. She looked out the scratched oval window at it, a gnarled slate thunderhead like a giant’s fist. The green fields of Southland far below looked like the duckweed on the old millpond outside her cottage

Then the plane touched down in Invercargill with a bounce that made her belly churn, and the ‘ding’ noise when the fasten seat belts light turned off jolted her to her feet. She stumbled down the stairs and back into the harsh antipodean light. Her brother Michael was there to meet her. He looked older, and fatter, yet somehow shrunken, like his skeleton had been left in the dryer too long, rattling around inside his ill-fitting envelope of skin.

“Got in before the weather,” he said with a disappointed tone, and took her bag.

They jolted over the rutted roads in Mike’s old Kingswood. He smoked as he drove, leaning out the window and yelling at sheep that wandered onto the road. Overhead, clouds the colour of gruel rolled like an icy porridge blanket, fresh up from Antarctica and ready to lock down the sky and clamp themselves down over everything south of Lake Wakatipu.

If you can’t see the mountain it’s raining, if you can see the mountain it’s going to rain,
she thought.

“She’s gonna rain,” said Jock the sharemilker as she clambered out of the station wagon. She smiled at him, feeling her tight skin crease at the expression, like she hadn't smiled for weeks.

“How is Mum, Jock? It’s nice to see you.”

Jock’s eyes crinkled. “Holding court. Dunno how much gas she’s got left in the tank though. I think she was waiting for you.”

Inside it was stifling. Auntie Etta, was declaiming from her rocker by the fire, something venomous about the Maoris and wool prices and the government, but Mum’s quiet cough silenced her.

“You took your time,” she said with a thin smile, nestled into her wheelchair. She’d always been a slender woman, but the cancer had hollowed her out like a gutted house, left nothing but hollows and corners. In her lap was her bundle of needles and wool, yet another jumper.

Jenny looked around. The family were all still, staring at her. She carefully put her bag down on the floral carpet.

“I’m sorry mum. Plane got held up in Singapore. How are you? How’s the farm?” Cousin Doris pushed a cup of tea at her and she sipped it. Sugary, too much milk, the taste of home.

“Farm’s doing fine, got Mike to put another fifty acres down in rye, the animals are liking it well enough. How long are you--”

“Not long,” said Jenny. “Sorry. The bank's opening a new office in Paris, the boss wants me there. Brexit stuff.”

Michael, hovering behind their mother spoke quickly, ahead of her slow-gathering frown. “I’ll show you to where we put you, Etta’s got your old room so you’re in the folly..” He hustled her outside, dragging the suitcase on one wheel.

Jenny had never liked her brother, too much like their dead unlamented dad, but she was grateful for him now. It was nearly dark outside, and the wind still had the tang of fresh rain coming. The massive stone bulk of the folly loomed over them, scudding clouds dimly visible above.

“Mike,” she said just outside the door. “You know I’m not going to take the farm, don’t you.”

He looked at her, and his clamped down face twisted for a moment. “I.. I believe you don’t think you’re going to.”

They stood a moment, looking at each other like sailors in passing ships at sea, feet planted on the swaying deck. Then there was a crack of thunder and the storm broke on them, a lashing torrent of icy water and wind. Michael pulled his Swannie over his head and turned back to the house without saying anything else, Jenny dashed for the shelter of the folly.

Their father had built the folly before the booze really took hold and it really was, Jenny had to admit, a piece of work. Four stories of Oamaru stone, in the castle style complete with crenellations and arrow slits. He might, she thought as she pulled a pile of heavy blankets out of the cupboard, had ideas of fending off the taxman from the top. The Inland Revenue had not been deterred, though. They were still getting letters addressed to him, for all he died fifteen years back.

She leaned on the arrow slit halfway up the spiral stair case and looked out at the rain-lashed fields. Their mother had taken on the farm when he’d died, made it work, made it prosper, making it work with an iron will that wouldn't brook disagreement or compromise. And now she wanted her to do the same.

Jenny took a deep breath, another. It smelt fresh as the air on the first day that ever was.

Then taken by a sudden mad impulse she dumped the blankets in her room at the top of the tower and clambered up the ladder to the hatch that led to the roof. She unclasped the fastener and pushed it up, then gasped as the wind ripped it out of her hand. The wind howled in and around the little room, setting the bare light bulb swaying wildly. She climbed up and out, feet wide apart on the slick stone. She laughed, half unbelieving at the mad force of the wind.

She knew she couldn't stay, had grappled over two sleepless nights whether to come back at all, but standing there, twenty metres from where she was born, poised directly above the centre of the earth and feeling the blanket of air that surrounded it whip by and through and around her, she felt a tiny needle of doubt sliver into her certainty.

Then she heard the creak of hinges and turned, just in time to see the hatch slam shut with a damp thud.

"gently caress!" she yelled, and the wind whipped the words up, and far away.

Four hours later she looked at the tips of her fingers, bloodied and aching from scrabbling at the recessed edge of the hatch. She was shivering uncontrollably, soaked to the skin. Her feet were numb. The storm was still wailing, tugging at her. She'd screamed herself hoarse but nothing made it over the storm. If she didn't get off the roof, she would die.

Shaking her head, every muscle trembling, she scrabbled her way over to the edge of the roof. She looked down, stomach curdling at the drop. Then she frowned. There was a gargoyle a couple of meters down from her, with sideways horns. and a couple of meters below that was a buttress. Without stopping to think she swung a shaking leg up over the crenellation and dangled for a moment, then as her cold-ravaged arms screams in protest she dropped. She slammed into the stone head of the gargoyle. it was slick in the rain and she was sliding off. She grabbed for the horn and caught it, one-handed. Her fingers were like lumps of frozen meat on the end of her arms.

Jenny looked down at the buttress. It was a long way away. She tried to pull herself back up on the stone head, but her arm didn't have the strength. With a final whispered curse, she felt the rough stone slip out of her grip and she fell down through the whirling brawl of the storm. She flailed at an arrow slit as it shot by, then she hit the buttress with an agonising cracking wallop that knocked the air out of her.

She came to on the grass, every fibre of her body aching. She wasn't cold anymore. She lay there enjoying that for a moment, then realised what it meant. "Inside, Jenny. Inside," she mumbled. Her legs didn't work, so she crawled, pulling herself along the rainslicked green Southland grass one handful at a time. Ahead of her the lights of the farmhouse glowed in familiar comfort, like heaven. An endless succession of handfuls later she was at the door, banging on the door with her fist. It swung open. Mike.

"Jenny! She's gone, she just stopped breathing, I was just coming to... Jenny?"

She looked up at her fat, mean, brother, son of a skinny, mean, mother, and a mad, drunken, mean father; and she laughed the only laugh that was in her, a whispery guffaw that the wind carefully stooped down, plucked out of her mouth and took away up to the sky for safe-keeping.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

Third v Friks Brawl

Increaul (1637) (Prompt: https://youtu.be/BsHJFkH3DOI )

Ranger Roeper parked his Jeep at the edge of the rotting thicket. It was twice as big and twice as decayed as yesterday. The Ranger said, “I-I don’t get it. It’s spreading so fast.”

Leland, his passenger and a senior dendrologist from the University, felt the same way. He’d known funguses that kill off a root system in a week when he worked up in Canada but only chemicals could kill this fast.

Leland said, “Ranger, are you sure this new tree isn’t just a coincidence. This looks like a chemical spill or-god forbid-radiation.”

Roeper was distracted. He counted 32 dead birds and 15 dead squirrels all the way up the hill where the strange tree grew. It broke his heart. He blurted out, “Can we just burn the drat thing down? That tree is evil, look what it did to the critters.”

Leland put a firm hand on Roeper's shoulder, “Okay okay, calm down. Did you feel sick at all when you were up there?”

“No.”

“How long did you stick around? A couple of minutes? A half an hour?”

“Six hours.”

Leland cocked an eyebrow, “Six hours? Why’d you stay up there so long?”

The Ranger rubbed his eyes and blew into his hankey, “I wanted to bury all the little dead critters. So I got a wheelbarrow and picked them all up.”

“That.” Leland paused considering the feelings of the odd but sentimental ranger. “That is very kind of you Roeper. I’m sure they appreciated it. I’m going to go take a look. Stay here and uh, just cry it out.”

He got out, put on plastic booties in case the disease might track on his boots and pulled his kit from the backseat. After securing his face mask he entered the dead thicket. The strong stench of sickness washed over him the moment he crossed the circle of bulging, flaking redwoods. Yellow goop trickled down the eroding bark as well as on the dead animals on the forest floor.

He took a swab of the yellow liquid off of a comatose coyote and a rotted Sequoiadendron. Both samples looked like pus from a sore or sty. It was like the forest caught a horrid fusion of flesh-eating bacteria and Influenza. Leland still felt fine after taking a few moments to stand and observe. The area wasn’t readily hazardous to humans.
Leland thought hard on what could be the cause. He racked his brain for precedent from his years traveling the Tetons, Brazilian rainforests, and Siberian old growth. The imagery reminded him of a paper he wrote for on theoretical human diseases being passed on to plants.

It was based on an unsolved environmental disaster that occurred in Nova Scotia in 1923. A whole section of woods died off along with the then present wildlife. Mass death continued until a late spring wildfire accidentally started, clearcutting miles of trees. Afterward, the forest recovered without issue and no more animals or trees were affected.

After a century and a half, Leland put forth the theory that mutated strain of influenza that hit mining camps in a nearby settlement was the culprit. Influenza killed every single man, woman, and child in the isolating village. He theorized that a combination of the unseasonably warm, humid weather, and a lack of hosts caused the virus to move on to small wildlife which then further transferred to plant cells. It killed the mammalia slower as a way to spread to other parts of the woods via their droppings.

“Sounds like were a lazy child who wanted to write fiction, not a research paper.”

Radio static spoke above Leland.

Leland called out, “Who’s there?” He saw some bright red branches swinging above the crest of the hill. It was the bizarre tree that Roeper had found. The stringy randomness of the branches and porous bright red bark looked like a nerve ending in a medical diagram.

“Increaul.” Said the static.

Leland climbed the hill and got a full view of the 7-foot aberration standing as the only living thing in the dead thicket. His hair stood on end. A buzzing assaulted his inner ear. It was like standing under a power transformer.

Leland took out a pair of pliers and looked for a stray branch to clip. He scanned the trunk for a radio. Was someone playing a prank?

“Aren’t you going to ask how I knew?” The static said.

Leland didn’t find anything, he clipped off a sprig on one of the lower branches and stored it in a baggie. “How I knew what? Where are you?”

“About your thoughts. They’re so loud out here.”

The voice was coming from a cupped section of branches just out of view if one was standing too close to the trunk. Leland took a single step back.

What he saw made him realize this was not a nerve ending but a synapse.

“What are you?’ Leland asked.

The static buzzed louder and in Lelands direct line of sight, the trees reddened and died on the horizon.

“An Dythm of little deaths to make up for the deaths I crave.”

Roeper was right. This horrid thing needed to die. It was killing everything except- Leland couldn’t help but sate his curiosity.

“You’re poison, something alien. You don’t affect people-”

It blared like an angry siren, “I COME FROM FIRMA NOT ANYTHING ELSE!”

Leland jumped back in terror. Birds shot up from the foothills and then came crashing down.

“I was a man just like you in a time YOUR PEOPLE ERASED! The only difference between me and you is that I kept going after my time on Earth was over. Back in those days, you were supposed to become whatever you wanted when you died. When others chose beasts and breezes as their ascension, I wanted to be a curse upon men.”

“Why?” Leland asked.

The sky was dimming. Cloud cover had come in the brief time Leland had spoken to the hateful thing. The clouds looked like wads of jaundiced flesh.

“I don’t really remember. What I do know, is that you have a lighter in your left hand and there's plenty of sap around to make a fire.”

Leland pulled the Bic he’d played with behind his back out into the open. He was considering his sanity more and more as his focus grew fuzzy. He needed to kill this thing not to save his life but his mind.

The static spoke, “I’ll say this Tree Magi. A curse is a very open-ended form to take. I became this tree but I would have preferred something that directly killed humanity, not just ate away at livestock and corn. I made it work, however. Go ahead and burn me. I’ll pop up again and again. One day you people will miss the signs and I’ll be back as an Irish Blight or better yet, another Four Pests Campaign in China. Chain reactions are all I have to exact my hatred. So do it. I don’t care.”

Blood ran down Leland's chin. He was biting his lip, his mind seeing every man, woman and child this thing had been responsible for starving to death. He was tuned into the static and he could never forget all that it had done and said. It wasn’t a disease that passed from man to tree that was the culprit but hatred itself. He kicked pine needles around the base, dug up dirt with his trowel to keep the ground flames from spreading. Then with a flick, the horrid thing burned without further a sound.

~

Darkness. I was awake once more but reborn in the dead of night. Something was wrong. I couldn’t hear a thing. I buzzed off what little of my body was grown. The sound came back, there were only a few inches of space. I was in a box.

“Looks like your awake.” Buzzed another voice from the top of the box.

Increaul felt for waves and found the voice of Leland Dibbs speaking to him from a speaker in a lead-lined box.

“Tree magi? What is this, where am I?”

“In a very special greenhouse, I made all for your lonesome self. You were pretty smart for a tree, but you’re not too familiar with regrowing plants from leaf graftings are you?”

Increaul stayed silent.

“Well, I got brain cancer after we last met, I guess your voice is deadly to humans. For my own sanity, I used my last years on earth to ensure you get a proper burial. This box is designed with an automated sprinkler, a self-filling sifter to give you light dustings of fertilizer for food and has precision lasers installed for cutting away new growth. It runs completely off solar panels in my house and the water is gathered from humidity in the cavern complex I stored you in. The best part is, I learned with my last few graftings that you don’t require light, it just slows down your growth is all.”

Increaul had a distant memory emerge through the haze of genocidal centuries. The tribe came after him, he’d stalked a young girl and killed her family as vengeance for her mocking him. They found him hiding in a hollow stump and buried him alive. He screamed through clods of soil how much he hated them all, how he’d take a form that would ruin their descendants.

“Please. Don’t do this.” Increaul whimpered.

“I got chemo tomorrow morning. Now that I know you’re up, I won’t be coming back.”

Increaul had long ago buried his first death behind the lives of many others. In this place, in this darkness, he would have plenty of time to remember every suffocating taste of soil in fresh detail.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Come on man just throw me the loss and let's move on.

Judgement prompt what

cptn_dr
Sep 7, 2011

It's just so good!


Week 310 Results - Ghosts? Check! Whiskey? Could’ve been more.




Overall, a pretty non-terrible week. Most of the stories were at least enjoyable to read, even if none really set my world on fire. Lotta ghosts, lotta murder, lotta dark family tensions just waiting to boil over into juicy drama, so I got what I asked for. The Devil didn’t show up as much as I expected he would, but hey, you can’t have everything.


A tragic disqualification to SebMojo. May this dark shame haunt your family for generations to come. It’s a pity, because I thought your piece was quite strong, and stood out for taking the road-less-travelled and picking an unusual setting.


This week’s loser is Solitair. The sins of muddled writing, awkward dialogue and a smash-cut to brutal murder couldn’t be saved by the genuinely unsettling imagery that the good bits had. Please report to the stagnant swamp for chastisement.


A dishonourable mention to Captain Person. If you don’t have honour, what do you have? Despite some solid description and good road-trip Americana weirdness, the story lacked clarity, and the narrative arc didn’t manage to grab the judges.


The HM goes to Thranguy, for having a bayou swagger that was unique among entries this week, and for using damnation as allegory to say something about society.


Your winner this week is Staggy. Homebound had familial unpleasantness, a dying farm, a lovely decaying town, and was one of the few pieces where the violence actually felt like it had weight and purpose, and wasn’t just for violence’s sake. Combined with some good visceral description, and an oppressive gothic atmosphere, you were a pretty clear winner. Congratulations, Staggy! Doubly impressive for your first week entering. Please ascend the now-decaying grand staircase and take your seat upon the whiskey-soaked Blood Throne.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

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


309 critfarts

Commissioning a Nigun

Overall I enjoyed the rabbi's voice and his reaction towards Chaim's falling from erligion. The way he describes how he only looks at clouds should be an exaggeration that makes sense in a jewish context? Not a big fan of the shift in perspective at the last part where someone picks up. Maybe just have the ending letter continued without (or not even requiring the ending, because there's some beauty in the unfinished letter).

Fragile broken things

Ok I like this a lot, it's beautiful in that gabriel garcia marquez way and i enjoyed how there was an ambiguous passage of time ongoing. Hate the title but the writing is solid enough

Those who would burn the world to the ground

After having read a few of your more ambitious stories this falls within that, with very impressive worldbuilding and huge events. But it seems a few things were glossed over and maybe there were too many characters? I was more invested in the main character and his relation with jenny and I think that could have been fleshed a bit more compared to trevor et al.

Make like a tree

Hmm, i like this although the sister suddenly turning into a blueberry bush was a bit abrupt, but i assume that's the big point? That in real life poo poo happens and you don't understand it and you just have to accept that? Which is why the ambiguity of whether she really changed her mind and turned into a bush or that she got shot and they planted a bush to cover it up.

other place

Hmm, ok, I do like the idea and the concept behind everything. I'm way way more interested in the potential interaction / ghost world where the protag and "you" reside than the backstory, and it feels like the language can be more evocative?

You and Me at the End of the World

Oh, I like this end of the world story. Everything's sad and burnt out rather than a huge anime climatic mess. Kinda reminds me of this Australian movie These Final Hours. The ending definitely works.

The First Day of Peacetime

Ok there are some nice language and imagery here and there but I'm left confused a lot, like why are they planning to die together and how are they doing it? I'm assuming biological weapons were used hence they used an unproven vaccine but it worked, maybe? I dig the ending interaction on their pasts but I don't know how it relates to the rest of the story.

Snuffles

The first part of dad is not as good as when the baby rabbits start appearing, with that beginning signs of a plague killing off the rabbits (with an ominous shadow of some kind of unknown upcoming apocalypse looming). Overall I like this but I don't really get the part of dad's role other than pointing out he has never missed a meal, which is something i'm hyperaware of now.

We Can Forget It For You Wholesale

Ok, these guys are lizards, right? Not sure why Hadrian/Adrian changes names. I think there's some great weird magic going on, and I wonder if there's more that should be built on the fact that they are in fact absorbing parts of people's souls and sacrificing them to an uncaring god. The ending may work better in that sense.

Maiden Flight

Oh yeah I like that weird mother-child-darkness imagery that hits when the protag goes under. I can't really tell, these people are some kind of bees that get pregnant, are they? Cool magic concept that I really enjoyed

Border Crossing

Ok the president trump turning mexico-us relations into a hellscape is a little on the nose maybe? The writing's competent and the only thing I genuinely am not happy with is that unearned ending of "suddenly mexico turned into a first class strong superpower who don't need no man" and that ends the struggles of the protag?? Like uh why?

Kindred Instruments

Hmmmmmmm ok I got really confused by how pollination works, like i thought it said "ok makeup ladies are doing this now" and I thought the protag through the queen got a sweet, better deal, but it's apparently another truckload of makeup girls? I like "a stand of cut lilies languish in a orange bucket, the wound of their separation comforted by the shallow stand of water within." and I like the whole thing UNTIL she got to the doctor's place and suddenly, attempted surprise sex? Why? The ending betrays the quality of the rest of the story.

Cold Regret

I read this and felt super sad about everyone, even the beast the protag cut into. Like the whole world has gone to an icy hell and people woke up not knowing what's better anymore. I had some issues with clarity at first but upon rereading this made me feel these big sad emotions and it works.

A Gospel

I can't really tell whether this story is split between two perspectives, or one? I don't know if the first part is narrated by the Him in the second part, and if so who is the second person, and why are they kissing? Lots of nice language use but I'm kinda confused.

CantDecideOnAName
Jan 1, 2012

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


Week 310 crits

So this week there was a rash of sudden murders, ghostly encounters, gristly violence, and proofreading errors. It wasn't a bad week and I had a lot of fun judging it, although perhaps some of these stories should've been thrown back into the swamp to cook a little longer. Also, I didn't listen to any of the flash rule songs so if you were hoping your flash rule would carry your story to victory, think again.

Light of My Life:
Overall impression: It's a decent snapshot, although the murder comes out of nowhere and doesn't really feel earned.
The good: The characters were good, and the voice was southern. I think you hinted that the narrator killed Charlie's daddy in order to protect him, but...
The bad: ...but it's not very clear. It's a single throwaway line: “I tried to protect him best I could.” Without that hint, the murder-suicide comes out of left field. Actually, on second look, my initial impression might have been correct; that she only protected him, which really does make the deaths come out of nowhere.
The gothic: Poverty, death, murder, family, and betrayal. It feels dilapidated, and there's a sense of things that were good gone to seed. The world is changing, but in that one place there's someone doing their best to keep it from doing so.
2.5/5

The Ghost of Blackford Manor
Overall impression: Ghosts, obviously. Murder. Gambling I'll count as the same vein as alcohol. The devil. It starts off with a humorous tone but gets pretty dark pretty quick.
The good: A ghost butler that feeds off people, gained via a pact with the devil, is very creative and I like it. I like the ending where the narrator gains control of the butler, although with how much she hates it I'm not sure if she would embrace the one soul a year thing.
The bad: The tone kinda flips back and forth between modern day and pre-WW2. I could easily imagine this being in a setting where people refer to the War of Southern Treason and so the van and the car kinda stick out.
The gothic: The setting, the ghost, the hateful marriage, the spite. It's all very gothic in tone. The execution is a little silly, though.
3/5

Revolver
Overall impression: Southwest gothic? It starts off kinda Old West, but then you mention a highway and a bar...you're kinda jumping back and forth. You're leaning towards the Old West, which I must admit I like a lot more than a more contemporary setting.
The good: The reveal that James is hoping to become a restless ghost is strange and wonderful.
The bad: You use weird metaphors. A door vomits. A gun is tickled. They stand out and not really in a good way.
The gothic: Death, ghosts, family, murder. Things feel dusty and empty, very evocative of the West. It's quiet and grim, and almost hopeful that things will be terrible.
3.5/5

Homebound
Overall impression: By your second paragraph you've sunk the story deep into pitiless, petty cruelty and family secrets. It's all very close, very intimate, very real.
The good: You dip back and forth between the present and the past in a way that works. The stinger at the end, that he can still hold a lamp, is very good and very horrifying.
The bad: I'm hard pressed to find anything bad about this. It's very well written.
The gothic: Family, poverty, betrayal, murder. More than that, you have this simmering hate and undercurrent of violent history, and that more than anything else makes it gothic to me.
4.5/5

The Piano
Overall impression: Southern, definitely. The kudzu was a good touch. From the instant you mention the pond I knew someone was going in it, either to be eaten or drowned. I like that you didn't do it as a kid.
The good: When he throws her bike in is worthy of a shudder.
The bad: The parts where she falls in and sinks, both as adult and child, could be better written. They and the ending are too abrupt, without any time to let the fear form before it's over. The motivation for keeping the secret at the end is lackluster but I suppose understandable.
The gothic: The ending is pretty horrifying. There's betrayal and lost love and death.
3.5/5

A Drop of Venom

Overall impression: Strange, disgusting, possibly vampires.
The good: Visceral. The description of the interior of the container is just detailed enough to let the mind visualize really horrible things.
The bad: Confusing. Things don't make a lot of sense- is she a serial killer? A literal monster? Is she feeding a monster- or feeding off it? Too many questions and not enough answers, and not really in a good way.
The gothic: Poverty, death, murder. I'm not really feeling it.
2/5

Jeffrey's Girl Secondhand Things
Overall impression: Dingy, sweaty, dusty. There's a curse. Something in the blood that beckons, that calls home.
The good: Slave magic is an interesting aspect.
The bad: That ending is too “happily ever after”. It's enough to knock you off half a point.
The gothic: Poverty, betrayal, family, race?
2.5/5

Sundown
Overall impression: There's very much a racial feel to this, even if it's not an actual black-versus-white sort of one. A “your kind best watch out here at this time of night, 'cuz if they catch you they're gonna kill you” feel.
The good: A unique setting, with a character who knows the strangeness. I would've liked to see more of that strangeness but this is a good start.
The bad: You do a movie-style cut where he goes from dead end to rooftop. Takes a bit of the tension out.
The gothic: Deals with the devil, race, religion, death, crime. Reads a little brighter than expected.
3/5

Tender Prey
Overall impression: Feline gothic. This story was kind of hard to read, seeing as I like cats quite a bit.
The good: The descriptions are very good. It's gruesome.
The bad: I don't think the grossness is doing you any favors. The narrator is too willing to murder.
The gothic: There's poverty, murder, and lost love, but I'm not getting the gothic so much here. I guess the cats are kinda creepy.
2/5

Jumpers
Overall impression: This is from one of the kiwis. I guess castles are gothic?
The good: I like that ending. I like the storm.
The bad: It's well written but it doesn't feel particularly gothic to me.
The gothic: Poverty. Family.
N/A

CantDecideOnAName fucked around with this message at Jul 17, 2018 around 03:49

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

staggy if you want any clarification about how to judge a thunders dome, feel free to stop by the #thunderdome irc channel or check out this page if you haven't already

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


gently caress YES I MIDDLED THE poo poo OUT OF MY STORY.

CantDecideOnAName posted:

Week 310 crits

The Piano
The gothic: The ending is pretty horrifying. There's betrayal and lost love and death.
3.5/5

Thanks for taking the time to read and reflect on my horribly hobbled story - taking 2500 words down to 1500 words sucks balls and at least this time it wasn't the worst of the worst.

The Saddest Rhino posted:

309 critfarts

The Piano
* crickets *

That okay I'm cool. Edit: But I not know numbers so much well for the viewing.

magnificent7 fucked around with this message at Jul 17, 2018 around 12:37

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

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


I didn't judge that week my dude do you want a crit

CantDecideOnAName
Jan 1, 2012

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


magnificent7 posted:

gently caress YES I MIDDLED THE poo poo OUT OF MY STORY.

Thanks for taking the time to read and reflect on my horribly hobbled story - taking 2500 words down to 1500 words sucks balls and at least this time it wasn't the worst of the worst.

Don't get too cocky. The only thing that saved it from DM was that it had a coherent plotline.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


magnificent7 posted:

gently caress YES I MIDDLED THE poo poo OUT OF MY STORY.


Thanks for taking the time to read and reflect on my horribly hobbled story - taking 2500 words down to 1500 words sucks balls and at least this time it wasn't the worst of the worst.


That okay I'm cool.

In your haste to post passive aggressive and self-deprecating fart-words, you seem to have missed that Rhino was critting his week 309 stories and you wrote a story for week 310. Your inability to differentiate numbers is rivaled only by your self-pity. Either post better or fight me 1v1.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Yoruichi posted:

A crit for Mercedes for week 308

Yoruichi posted:

A crit for Antivehicular for week 308

Where are my crits in return HMMMM?

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


Week CCCXI: It's a poor craftsman that blames his tools

This week's prompt can be as literal or as metaphorical as you like as long as it features two things: a particular trade or craft and the tools by which said trade/craft is accomplished. Starship repair as the backdrop for mending a broken heart? Go for it. An explanation for why Walmart gift cards are the perfect tool for the spy on the run? Why not. "14 common household items that will make disposing of your next victim a doddle"? Yeah go on then. I'm looking for something interesting or unusual that is then tied into the larger story you're trying to tell.

The usual rules apply: no quote tags, no erotica, no fanfiction, etc.

Flash Rules: ask Judges Sebmojo or Sitting Here for a flash rule at your peril!

Word Limit: 1,250 words
Signup deadline: Friday, 20 July at 11:59pm Pacific Time (US)
Submission deadline: Sunday, 22 July, 11:59pm Pacific Time (US)
In both cases deadlines are a little bit flexible, closing when I wake up the following morning (GMT). Gamble at your peril.

Judges:
Sitting Here
Sebmojo

Entries:
Thranguy - Sebmojo flash rule: the thrill of agony, the victory of defeat
Erainor
Magnificent7 - Sebmojo flash rule: a character has a Burroughsian argumentative anus
SkaAndScreenplays -
Chuf
MockingQuantum - - Sitting Here flash rule: Yes it will as you reach out for where it's at, only to find when your where it's at, it isn't where it's at, at all
Antinvehicular
Crabrock -
Pham Nuwen
Lippincott
Flynn - Sitting Here flash rule: "And remembering so well that the hand that brittles the rock can certainly roll the world"
Kaishai

Staggy fucked around with this message at Jul 21, 2018 around 08:33

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

I'll help judge, if you like

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

in

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


Sitting Here posted:

I'll help judge, if you like

That would be very much appreciated, thank you.

If anyone else wants to grab the other judge slot, just shout out.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Yeah I'm judge, sing out if you want an rear end in a top hat flash rule

Erainor
Dec 30, 2017

THUNDERDOME LOSER

First time writer, In

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


CantDecideOnAName posted:

Don't get too cocky. The only thing that saved it from DM was that it had a coherent plotline.
I will take it thank you very much.

Uranium Phoenix posted:

In your haste to post passive aggressive and self-deprecating fart-words, you seem to have missed that Rhino was critting his week 309 stories and you wrote a story for week 310. Your inability to differentiate numbers is rivaled only by your self-pity. Either post better or fight me 1v1.
Fantastic points. I've considered your challenge, and I shall take option one, "post better" and try to ride this non-losing streak.

I'm in and feel free to flash a rule at me even though there's no bonus for it.

SkaAndScreenplays
Dec 11, 2013

by FactsAreUseless


IN for real this time & since I jumped the gun on thinking my life was in a place that I could afford myself time to write.

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

Chuf
Jun 28, 2011

I had that weird dream again.


Thanks for all the crits!

Also I'm in.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013


SCREAMING YES
MOTHERFUCKER
I AM GUILTY, I AM DEATH


Story for ThirdFriks brawl




Art crouched low to the dry-baked earth of the veldt and the very tip of his pointy wizard’s cap lifted above the tall grass, bobbing about as he slapped at flies and twitched and tried to wait. He took the hat off and fanned his face. The piebald rat nesting in his mussy greying hair licked the sweat from his brow.

Edith was a good rat. A very brave rat. The kind of rat you wanted by your side on a day like today, when you were hunting for lions.

And what a specimen they’d chosen. The air was still and a dry heat rose up, shimmering, as if the fabric of the world had to shiver at the magnificent beast’s roars. Cubs gamboled about hos golden paws, climbed the their father’s back as if it was a mountain. He lowered his noble maned head and nudged at them, startled back in mock fright when they made mewling little roars in protest.

The mother roamed nearby, circling the photographer who’d come to take pictures of the cubs. A few of his less adventurous colleagues waited in an idling truck and laughed as their friend tried to edge backward, retreating from the prowling lioness while trying, unsuccessfully, to hide how very frightened he was.

When the man finally gave up and made a break for the truck, Art got ready to make his move. He drew a talisman out of his sleeve, a pendant made of copper wiring bent in on itself again and again until it made a knot of impossible shapes, with a kind of buzzing, crackling possibility filling up the spaces between the wires. The truck kicked off in a purr of engine and a huff of dust and Art was on down the hill at his top speed, a chuffing run, the hem of his wizardly robes hitched up in one hand.

The lioness didn’t miss him for a second. She was like a golden bolt of lightning, the sun sparking off her fur as she came at him, the grass parting around her wake in a great wave. Art felt remarkably unlike an ancient and powerful wizard and remarkably like a mouse.

He flung his talisman up into the sky and jabbed a pointing finger at it, crying out in words that weren’t words, really, but more like whalesong, or the humming of lonely stars out in the cosmic void. The copper talisman stuck fast in mid-air, no longer falling, no longer obeying the laws of reality but embedding itself deep into the metaphysical substratums beneath them, tuned into the cosmic metaphor and shining like a second sun.

A copper light flowed over them and they were caught fast within it, like bugs in amber. Translucent symbols swirled through the air and settled on Art’s skin, on the lioness’ fur as she glared at him, mid-leap, mouth open. On the lion and on his cubs and everything. Slowly, the spell accounted for everything it needed to do, and with a ripple of cosm, it was so. The light and the lions and Art were vanished in the blink of an eye.

- - - -

Magic was, erm, a little like quantum physics, really. Things went all upsidedown, strange and charmed, and even if you didn’t quite understand why, there you were. There was a sharp pop like the cork in a champagne bottle, a rush of air carrying summer heat and the smell of dry grass from distant lands; Art and Edith beneath his hat and a whole pride of lions blinked into existence, Art tumbling to the packed earth floor of his basement and the lioness flying over his head.

Scrambling to all fours, Art shot for the door of the cage and slammed it shut behind him, dropping the bar and collapsing again in a wheezing, giggling pile. Edith poked her head out beneath the brim of his hat and licked him on the nose.

The lion was roaring and the cubs were mewling and the lioness rattled the bars. From the other cages, the rows and rows of them, came birdsong and guttural hoots and laughing howls and stranger noises still, a huge roiling racket of wild sound rebounding in the low-ceilinged space. “Hush hush now. S’only for a little while.” Mumbling to himself, dazed and with a wild smile on his face, Art rolled onto his feet and made his way up the stairs, his knees creaking as his meddling in the cosmic underpinnings took its toll. By the time he reached the top of the stairs and emerged into the mess and muddle of his workshop, new gray had emerged in his beard.

His workbench was strewn with crumpled notes, bottles and bottles of veterinary medicines, stale breadcrusts covered in ratty toothmarks, half-assembled trains from his last little hobby, gum wrappers stuck in pools of modelling glue, but Art found what he was looking for. A map like they made in the old days, full of wild illustrations of fantastic creatures, of tapirs and royal herons and, yes, lions.

“Wasn’t expecting cubs. Yes, we’ll have to make some room, maybe shrink the frog pond. Yes?” Edith chittered her agreement as she scuttled down his sleeves. Art rubbed his hands together. “Wasn’t expecting cubs. Wonderful. Wonderful.”

The rest of the day was feeding time, a banquet of chopped fruit, wilderbeast steaks, nuts and berries ladled out to the residents of his menagerie, playing with monkeys and twittering back at irate ravens and trying to chase the octopus back into its cage of floating water. A little fiddling about with the universe to fill the lions’ new home full of golden grass and stretch the space within the cage as wide as a football field. A lot of time spent lying in the light of the basement’s artificial sun, watching a pygmy sloth climb the mossy branch of an oak tree.

He was almost ready, and it made him feel almost young again. In the very center of the menagerie was a great sculpture of wire like a deranged squiggle from Euclide’s nightmares, bending the space around it until the air buzzed with translucent static, with waiting potential. Like a bow stretched taut.

- - - -

Wade and everyone else in the office glanced up as the lights flickered and a sudden wind blew papers off their desks, rattling the windows; everyone else grumbled and went to fetch their work, but Wade kept staring, putting on a rather forced smile for the wild-haired old man with twigs in his beard who’d blinked into existence. He took his manicured fingers off his keyboard and the code went on writing itself, little hieroglyphics popping in among the endless rows of tight-packed letters.

“Wade! I thought I’d, erm, pop in, didn’t realize you were at work.” Art’s sunworn face split in a grin, as if it was a surprise to see him, and Wade held his sigh in, picking up his phone so his coworkers wouldn’t think he was talking to empty air.

“Hey dad. This isn’t -” His eyes kept going around the office, waiting for something to go wrong and utter embarrassment to descend. “It’s not exactly a great time.”

“Didn’t realize you were at work.” Art grumbled again, glancing about himself and picking the leaves out of his beard as the self-consciousness caught hold of him as well. Everything was so clean here. “Still beyond me why you bother.”

“Keeps me busy.” Wade’s fingers drummed uncomfortably on the desk. “Speaking of, how’s your Circle going?”

“Oh, fine, fine. Only, erm, they’re a bit old fashioned.” And when Wade raised his eyebrow as if that was some kind of joke, Art filled in, “Ebegrot turned himself into a komodo dragon and we spent all last meeting trying to get him back. He’d been trying for a proper dragon. Gotten a bit of a crush on the Queen and thought he’d swoop off with her.”

“Ah.” Every silence was pointed, and this one stretched long until Wade clicked his tongue and winced in realization. “Oh. Right. I forgot. I was going to help you with, um, I was going to help you build a perpetual engine for your trains, right?”

“Oh, well, yes but nevermind. Water under the bridge.” He’d only ever bothered with the trains, the dumb mechanical lumps, because he vaguely remembered Wade liking them as a boy and thought maybe he would come over to help. “Actually, I’m onto something new. Better. Actually-”

He was cut off as a man tried to walk right through him, forcing Art to hop aside as he grabbed the next chair over and spun it about to sit with his arms crossed over the back, looking expectantly at Wade.

Trying not to look directly at his father, Wade muttered into the phone, “Dad, I’ve got to go.”

“Oh. Of course, nevermind. Nevermind.”

- - - -

Art left too deflated to bother bending space, just quietly took the stairs, and ended up standing outside Wade’s office building on a busy, messy street, with traffic rushing past and towers full of light windows looming up and the only quiet part of it all the people who walked by distracted and drawn into themselves. Idiots. He was being unkind, of course, but he didn’t know where to start being kind with this mess.

Actually, maybe they could start by making some space for anyone else, for him and his creatures. Maybe they could gently caress off with polluting everything included his son’s brain. Art huffed. Well, soon enough they wouldn’t be bothering him.

He snorted and shrugged off the pointless noise around him and let his mind slip into familiar, calming waters; Art thought about lying back with the green canopy of the trees he’d plant above him and the silver curve of the land below him, and he started to smile. It would take a lot out of him, to carry himself and the menagerie and good rich soil and enough atmosphere for all them. It might be the last spell he could ever manage. But what a retirement. What a way to live out his last century. He thought about people looking up to see the green of his garden in the night sky and starting to wonder.

Art looked up past the city’s reaching fingers of steel and glass, up to where the moon hung half-translucent in the evening sky, and grinned his wildest grin.




1752 words

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

I, too, will offer inspirational flashrules if you want, though you have to specifically say you want them from me and NOT sebmojo

(boss judge, you can overrule any of this at any time btw)

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012


Unlockable Ben

In, , and hit me with a SittingHere flash, I don't need any kiwi anus in my story tyvm

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

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


Boss judge here: nah, this is all going good. I appreciate the help - I was not prepared to win!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

MockingQuantum posted:

In, , and hit me with a SittingHere flash, I don't need any kiwi anus in my story tyvm

Yes it will as you reach out for where it's at, only to find when your where it's at, it isn't where it's at, at all

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


I'm in.

Line-by-line crit for Yoruichi's 308 story will be up tonight.

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012


Unlockable Ben

Sitting Here posted:

Yes it will as you reach out for where it's at, only to find when your where it's at, it isn't where it's at, at all

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Staggy posted:

Magnificent7 - Sebmojo Flash Rule
What. I know I'm bad at numbers but I don't see a Sebmojo Flash Rule thrown at me.

Yet.

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


My bad, noted.

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012


Unlockable Ben

Keep in mind sebmojo lives in the buttcrack of the planet so it'll be a few hours before he crawls out of his burrow, wipes the dirt from his vestigial eyes, smells the text of your post, and barfs out whatever half-digested poo poo he calls a flash rule.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

magnificent7 posted:

What. I know I'm bad at numbers but I don't see a Sebmojo Flash Rule thrown at me.

Yet.

a character has a Burroughsian argumentative anus

dreadmojo fucked around with this message at Jul 17, 2018 around 22:50

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

in

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


Crit for Yoruichi's Week 308 story, "Searching for the Bottom of the Sea." On GDocs because I feel like comments make it easier to do line-by-lines.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


sebmojo posted:

a character has a Burroughsian argumentative anus

What is this poo poo.

I said FLASH rule not FLESH rule.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


magnificent7 posted:

What is this poo poo.

I said FLASH rule not FLESH rule.

You mess with the sebmojo, you get the sebmojo

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I won a rosette in the Thunderdome


So some poo poo went down in IRC:

quote:

[23:05:52] <chili> Also, I want to brawl.
[23:06:03] <chili> Every last one of you is a miserable shitbeast.
(...)
[23:16:06] <Armack> I would brawl you if the deadline were like September 1st. My schedule is so tight the next opportunity I have to commit to writing a story will be the last few days in August

Let's have a slow-cooker chili mac(k) brawl, shall we?

Your prompt is: patience in the face of misery
Your deadline is: Wednesday, September 5th, 11:59 PM Pacific time
Your word count is: 1500 words

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Antivehicular posted:

So some poo poo went down in IRC:


Let's have a slow-cooker chili mac(k) brawl, shall we?

Your prompt is: patience in the face of misery
Your deadline is: Wednesday, September 5th, 11:59 PM Pacific time
Your word count is: 1500 words

Hell Yeah

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ADBOT LOVES YOU

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Agreed.

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