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killer crane
Dec 30, 2006

Yoruichi posted:

:siren: Interprompt: Naked pirates, flying ships and dinosaurs. 200 words. Go. :siren:

The Patchwork Prince
200 words

The Iberian Prince, captain Santiago’s galleon, cut through the clouds over the open sea. It's enchanted patchwork mainsail billowed at each breeze. Ahead a flock of great green monsters glided. “They fly like gulls... demon birds,” the captain said to the sorcerer. The sorcerer nodded.


A month prior Santiago had drunkenly hired the sorcerer on the promise of vague riches. Once sober he considered ordering the man thrown overboard, but a chance encounter with the Company’s navy, and a bewitched fog showed the captain the value of not drowning the man.

The Prince had plundered four ships in two weeks with the sorcerer’s assistance. Her hold was full, but the sorcerer requested one more excursion to an unmapped island. Perhaps the captain was hexed; he agreed to whatever the sorcerer asked.

The island was filled with enormous creatures beyond the crew's understanding. The sorcerer demanded hide from a winged lizards. The crew's attempts to kill one frightened the beasts out to sea. The Prince gave chase. The sorcerer screamed some ancient words, and the sails caught fire. “drat!” he shouted.


The captain and crew stood on the deck, readying their muskets, bare-assed. Their clothes, hastily sewn together, flapped above them.


killer crane
Dec 30, 2006

in, with a random assignment please.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006

This is a Story About Anxiety, by Killer-of-Lawyers!


1207 words

The ring of scarring from hundreds of previous infusions guided the nurse's needle into Abigail's arm. “This is going to be a long session, so I need you to focus on keeping yourself together,” Doctor Chang said in his always serious tone. Abigail nodded. “If you find yourself in a bad place think about what's real, like we've been working on.” He held her hand while the saline drip started, and Abigail’s fingers and toes numbed.

“Good luck, dear. There are a lot of people counting on you,” the nurse said, packing her equipment. The doctor, breaking his even demeanor, glared at the nurse. Abigail sighed at the added pressure. When the nurse left Abigail saw the two uniformed gentlemen through the door. She never knew if they were the same men every time, but there had always been two since the first session.

“I’m going to administer the drugs, Abby. You know what to do.” the doctor pressed the plunger on the clear syringe. Abigail muttered her incantation; repeating it again, and again as the room blurred out of focus. She said the words with force to keep her consciousness together as Walter Reed Medical Center faded into the gray haze around her. Her voice settled into a cadence. Each syllable rolled around her tongue, and her only thought was on her destination.

Abigail felt her weight shift to her feet. She was standing. Color returned to the world in simple shapes and shades. She closed her eyes for this part - the world materialized around her. Watching things suddenly appear into existence in front of her gave her nausea, and she worried she might stumble over her mantra if she became distracted. She waited for the first sound to open her eyes.

There were dozens of people at the destination. There had never been more than three in the embassy’s basement office before. Abigail kept focus on her words, though she eyed the chaos. Everyone busied under flashlight. They were blacking out papers, or cutting them up; some were trying to get a cellphone signal. Abigail thought she heard gunshots not far away. “You’re here! She’s here!” a man beside her said. He grabbed her arm, just below the injection scars. She missed a syllable. The hand was no longer holding her. Sound and color faded. Abigail screamed out the correct words, repeating them again, and again, and again. Finally she returned to existence in the embassy basement. Her voice was hoarse, and shirt soaked with sweat.

“Oh, thank God!” said a woman in uniform. “We need to get this out of Moscow. Get it home.” The woman handed Abigail a briefcase and handcuff. Abigail worked the handcuff, securing it against any circumstance on her way home. Abigail smiled through her mantra at the uniformed woman. Outside the room there was shouting, and the rap of gunfire. Abigail stopped…

Without the words she was no longer in the room. The sky above her was like a red rusted tin roof. Her lip quivered. “What's real?” she whispered to herself. She bit down onto her tongue, grimacing at the pain. The house in front of her, the house in Wisconsin where she grew up, leaned in an unreal way. The second story, her room, was suspended mid-demolition, bricks hanging in the air.

Through the front door slumped a figure like a giant rotting tomato that possessed just enough features to be considered human. “Abby! You're late. Have you been out loving boys all night?” The ugly and twisted version of her mother limped down the steps.

“It’s not real!” Abigail shouted, and ran. She heard the creature call to her in her mother's sweet voice, but the words faded with the distance. The briefcase slapped against her leg with every other step.

She passed a schoolyard of grotesque children. "Hey scabby Abby, looking for your daddy?” they all said in one voice as she passed. “I'd leave you too. Who'd want you as their stupid daughter?”

She slowed. Abigail had attended St. Andrew's School after her mother and she moved to Virginia sixteen years ago. “It wasn't my fault!” She blinked. “It's not real. You're not real!”

“Are too! Are too!” the children mocked back, cackling at her cries. Abigail moved on, slower now, losing where she needed to be. What's real?

Around her more contorted scenes of her life played out. Dear friends, now deformed, ridiculed her. Dilapidated homes taunted her cherished memories. She stopped, looked around, trying to find something that would lead her to something real.

Not far she saw the Washington Monument curled over, wilting like a daisy. She grinned. “I'm in Washington; at Walter Reed,” she reminded herself. Geography changed; a wide path opened in front of her. She willed her legs to move once again, and jogged towards the destination, the handcuff chafing her wrist.

Abigail arrived at the looming monument. She leaned her back against the cool surface, breathing deeply, closing her eyes. She whispered to herself “I'm in a treatment room, with Doctor Chang. I'm in bed, a needle sticking in my a…” A low rumbling crescendoed into an animalistic shrill. Her eyes opened to see the winged dragon land before her, shaking the earth. She let out a wimping “no.”

The last recognizable fragments of Abigail's ex-husband, Peter, were the monster’s eyes, and his voice. “You thought you'd drop by without saying hello?” One of his hands grabbed her and tossed her into the reflecting pool. The murky water softened the fall. She sputtered out the vile water, and trudged to the edge away from Peter.

Peter leapt, and landed in front of her. He grabbed her shoulder, lifted her, and threw her onto the grass, pinning her with his massive paw. He lowered his face to hers, dripping saliva onto her cheeks from his open maw. “I won't let you leave again; I won't lose you.” The alcohol on his breath burned her eyes. He tightened his grip on her chest. “I lost everything because of you. I would have changed for you! You never gave me that chance!” His scream echoing through the marble tombs now around them.

She gasped under his weight, “I didn't deserve the things you did to me. You're not real. You're dead.” Tears steamed out of her eyes. He pulled back his head, eyes wide.

“Deserve? Do you want to know what you deserve?” He raised the enormous paw from her. She curled shielding her face. The fist fell smashing the briefcase. After a breath Abigail wept. Peter sneered at her. “You're the monster here Abby. You made us how we are. You deserve death, Abby, for everything you are.” The beast looked to the destroyed case. He read the single page that has been its contents, made a roaring laugh, and jumped into the sky, flying away. “Goodbye Abby.”

Abigail lay sobbing into the grass. She grabbed the sheet of paper next to her. She choked through each cry as the colors and shapes shifted around her, forming the hospital bed, the IV, Doctor Chang. The two uniformed men came in and pulled the paper from her trembling hand. “How are you Abby?” Doctor Chang asked.

“I'm fine.”

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


killer crane
Dec 30, 2006

Object: hospital bed

bed 317

(517 words)

Janet is brought into room 317 following hey hysterectomy. She is still under anesthesia and the mattress cradles her, soothing her. Norman, her husband, sits in the recliner and flips from station to station. Janet dreams of Norman doing the same at home; she dreams of the time Norman’s old Cadillac broke down in Memphis, and of being diagnosed with cancer. The bed takes in these dreams, welcomes them. It tries to leave her only the good memories; give her rest as all beds are made to do.

A couple days later Michelle and the grandkids come by room 317 to help take Grandma home. Sunlight brightens the room through the opened window shades. The children sit on the edge of the bed and play a rhyming game. The nurse brings in the wheelchair while Norman packs Janet's knitted blanket. The family checks that nothing's forgotten, and leave room 317.

The cleaners arrive, strip the bedding, and douse the mattress in chemical solutions. The bed is cleared of any trace of the patient. Except something’s different this time; something remains. Near the floor on the underside of the bed’s steel frame one of Janet’s granddaughters has left a sticker of a chrysanthemum. Hospitals aren’t operated to hold memories; the bed has never kept a patients impression before.


The nurses roll a thirty year old man into room 317. There's no knowing how many people have occupied the room since Janet; everyone else's presence has been exorcised by industrial disinfectants. Bandages cover the new patient's fresh incision from an appendectomy. He sleeps. Memories of pain and fear drip into the mattress. He dreams of pincushions and voodoo and public nudity. The bed accepts the nightmares that come from the man. The differences between the new patient and Janet settle into the bed. His dreams become placid: a family road trip in a 1970s Coupe de Ville.

Recovery is quick, and the bed is cleared of any trace of him being there. The patient’s name, their thoughts, their dreams are all gone again. The sticker, and Janet’s imprint are still there.


A 45 year old woman is admitted to room 317 after a heart catheterization.

In the morning she eats lime Jell-O, tries to call her brother, watches Maury, and takes her pain medication. She curls up with the rough cotton hospital blanket, though now it feels like a handmade cashmere throw. Before drifting to sleep, she calls her brother again, leaving another message. She dreams of her brother, sitting on the edge of the bed, telling her “Lemon-lime, daytime TV, call me. We’ll see each other. Love, little brother.” He gives her a hug. Her loneliness falls away into the bedding.

Eventually the patient leaves in an afternoon, and the bed is once again sanitized and sterilized.


The sticker, and the pattern of Janet’s stay remains for some time with the bed, through many comforted patients. Eventually the soaps and solvents loosen the sticker, she is gone, and the perpetual amnesia returns to room. Every visitor now is new. The bed relearns its purpose for each of them.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


killer crane
Dec 30, 2006

In flash

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006

sparksbloom posted:

The Lamp burns sure -- within --
Tho' Serfs -- supply the Oil --
It matters not the busy Wick --
At her phosphoric toil!

776 words

In the early spring The Mother tasked her sprites to dig clay from The Father's land in the dark of night, night after night. The sprites piled the rudy clay on the steps of The Mother's cottage in the morning lights. After some time, when satisfied with the amount collected, Mother cut her hair into the clay, and locked herself away to work its shaping.

The sprites, then left alone, mischieved the land around The Mother's cottage in an attempt to favor her attention. Saplings were blown from the ground. Spring garden vegetables rotted on the plant. Two young stags pierced each other's throats with their newly grown antlers, and bled to death outside The Mother's window. Their cries didn't arouse even a glance from her.

“The Mother has abandoned us,” a young sprite cried to the others. “She left us no labor. We sprout no fruits!”

Another sprite shook her hair, “The Mother always provides. You are but leaves and twigs, young one, what need do you have for usefulness?”

“Every tree buds and flowers. I've nothing to do! The Father clothes the men of the valley, provides them dwellings, and gives them domain over animals. They are rewarded for their toils” the young sprite said.

“It would be nice to own something,” agreed another. “We should tell The Mother of our… our…” the sprite looked to the others for a word she's never thought.

“Our want!” the young sprite yelled with a jump. The others nodded.

“But what do we want?” The sprites argued through the evening about their newly discovered wants, and what they would ask of The Mother when she emerged. Many wanted food, or clothing, or dwelling, or other things a sprite has no use for. By sunrise they came to an agreement.

In the first moonlight of summer The Mother left the cottage cradling the lump of clay wrapped in bright cloth. “Mother. Mother,” called the sprites, and not wishing to waste time said, “We've decided we want names.”

“Oh my dearests we've no time for that, and besides you've no need. The kiln must be lit.” The Mother picked up kindling from the woodpile in her free hand. “Come along then.” The sprites looked to one another, and followed The Mother into the cottage. The Mother placed the wood and clay into the kiln. She snapped her fingers with a spark, and the fire was lit.

The young sprite was the first to cast herself into the furnace. The elements which clothed her burned away. Her body blazed and disintegrated. The glow brightened the dim room and her soul drifted up with the embers. She hoped the fire would not dwindle and the cottage darken before her new body was shaped.

Unbodied and at the will of the breeze the sprite considered her wants. She considered her nothingness, and The Mother.

She settled on a thicket of grass. The green blades grew around her, weaving a figure. Days passed by before the sprite was whole enough to gather in the forest life by herself. Once full she made her way back.

Inside the cottage The Mother inhaled; she arched her back, extending her arms, and taking more than just the breath into herself. Once full she knelt on the floor before the kiln and blew deep into the fire; coals crackled and sparked. The young sprite stepped back from the heat, “Mother, may we discuss our request?”

The Mother breathed in with same gesture. As she exhaled she answered the waiting sprite, “We've two moons until the firing is complete, and much work after.” Not hesitating in her movements The Mother continued the same pattern. “For now the fire must not falter.”

The sprite waited a moment to consider The Mother's words before jumping into the fire. Once again she flared into a puff and floated into the forest. Two moons passed as the young sprite and her sisters repeated their incinerations while The Mother tended the firing.

When the first snow fell the fire was doused. The sprites gathered to watch as The Mother pulled the clay from the kiln, wrap it in dull cloth, and sing it a winter's lullaby. The shape within its wrappings stirred, and cried out. “Go fetch a basket and bedding my dears. The Father has a new child.”

The Mother fed the child, and placed him in the basket. “They will name him in the valley, won't they?” asked the young sprite.

The Mother smiled to her sprites and answered “They will. Everything in the valley has been named. But while he is with us here he has none.”

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006

Djeser posted:

Cross-post a Thunderdome prompt to r/writingprompts.

I'd be down instead for a crit raid for a week:
-find high rated stories on high rated prompts of the day on r/writingprompts, and write a crit of <100 words.
-post the crit text here and as a response on the original submission on Reddit (probably from a throwaway account that reference TD). Can submit two crits a day.
-be judged for your poorly written crits.

I'm not saying this will bring new people, but it'll help hone crits to what they should be.

As a newbie to TD the roadblocks I've had: I can't figure out the irc, I've had it explained to me, but it never works; it's hard to fit the turn times in around my life commitments, not that I advocate extending them, just that I sit out many weeks because I know I can't meet the deadline; I only submit when word count is around 1250 or less; most of the crits I've seen focus on how bad the plot is but leave prose out.


killer crane
Dec 30, 2006

Sitting Here posted:

I'm curious if there is anyone who mostly lurks, or participates rarely, who wants to weigh in on 1) crit rates and 2) the culture.

1) I'm happy with the crits I've received, and the rates. I appreciate when a judge offers crits as requested, even though I've never taken anyone up on it.

2) Culturally TD regulars seem so tight knit you know what to write for each other. In crits there seem to be subjects, tropes and beats that are either expected or frowned upon. I'd assume it's just a collective style and preference from people who've written together for so long. I don't have any concrete examples, though just a general impression from the stories and crits.

In jokes, and such don't bother me, since this isn't a joke competition. I still don't know weeks Ock is, and it seems important to know what that is.

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