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apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Yoruichi posted:

A crit of Worth Waiting For by Apophenium

Thanks, friendo. I'll have your crit up within 24 hours.

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apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


A crit of Yoruichi's I Wish I Was an Otter

A were-otter uses his transformation as a crutch or an escape to avoid confronting grief over the death of a loved one. He is often harassed by a local vampire. He comes to think he should try to be an otter all the time, to sidestep his grief. There's a possibility of this happening if he is drained near to death by a vampire while in his otter form. He tries to get the aforementioned vampire to do this, but the vampire is kinda weirded out by that. So he ends up spilling the beans, saying he wants to be an otter full time and why. The next full moon they have a heart to heart over some whisky. After deciding he definitely wanted to be an otter full time our protagonist remembers Sarah, his dead lover or wife and does not want to forget her, so he flees.

I think the story largely works. You're back with grief as a big theme after week 312. I think this speaks to grief a bit better. We see a person stumbling through grief, someone who lost perhaps the only person in their life they could talk to about heavy things. Someone who really needs to feel less alone. The otter stuff is sort of like an addiction. Short term gratification without the chance of changing things in the long run. The protagonist's yearning for his otter self is such that he hangs around the river when he's not an otter and also runs water over himself to feel like he's in the river. He's a deeply hurting person and I think this comes through well enough.

So first person perspective works perfectly here, but I dislike the format feeling like journal entries. I understand you had to delineate time based on the transformations and stuff, but it was a tad clunky, with shifts in tense.

I hope the protagonist's perspective shift at the end lasts and that maybe he'll reach out to Darius or others to really work through his grief.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


I'm in

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


I'll take a flash too actually

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Signing in with a :toxx: and humbly requesting a flash

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Last Rites
Flash: The last holder of a valuable piece of knowledge.
1,335 Words.

Investigator First Class Feren Danil looked over the sketches of the crime scene. Though they were practically carved on the inside of her eyelids, she relished each hatch mark in the drawings, imagining the pain they caused the person sitting opposite her. The killer.

“You must be pretty wet behind the ears to think this would rattle me,” Siil Yreg said. His cold glare dashed any hopes Feren had of gloating. “I’m going to die today, Investigator. Everything else kind of loses its meaning.”

“I would think it would be the opposite.” Feren moved the sketches to the edge of the table between her and Yreg.

“You and everyone else,” Yreg said. “But no, it’s hard to place meaning on any of this.” He gestured to Feren and the sketches.

Feren fixed him with a stare until he met her eyes. She could almost see hope in them. Or was it smugness? She said, “Me and everyone else also think you had an accomplice. The money never turned up and--”

Yreg scoffed before she could finish her thought. He got up from his seat and stood as straight as his chains would allow. “I don’t want to talk about any of that. Why does no one ever want to ask about my essays?”

Feren chewed her lip as she decided her next move. She reached down into her bag and pulled out a sealed envelope. A smirk gave away the obvious pleasure she felt as Yreg noticed the judicial seal. Feren tapped the envelope on the table. “Do you know what this is, Yreg?”

“Judge Cyril overturned my sentence from his deathbed?” Yreg’s feigned excitement was almost amusing.

“If none of this matters, why the games, Yreg? Hmm?” Feren gestured for Yreg to sit. He did, with an exaggerated sigh. “No, you’ll still die today. In about an hour.”

“Here it comes…” Yreg said in a lilting sing-song.

“Unless--” she spoke up over Yreg’s chuckles. “Unless you reveal your accomplice.”

Yreg stared down the investigator. She could feel the weight of his guilt as if it were a physical object just behind his eyes. An upwelling of pity and shame filled her. And then Yreg burst into a madman’s grin.

“You are so predictable, Investigator! Did you just graduate?” He shook his head, rattling his collar. “The same deal has been proposed to me practically every day.”

Feren could only sigh, pack up her things and head to the door of the cell.

“Wait, wait, you’re not giving up are you?” When Feren turned around and saw the pained expression on the condemned’s face she stopped. Yreg continued, “Please, I really want you to figure it out. You really do seem earnest and I’m sorry. For deflecting and whatnot.” He gestured to Feren’s chair.

The squeak of Feren’s chair filled the small cell like a bell’s peal. Feren did not return the sketches to the table.

“I know you want to tell someone before you go, Siil,” Feren said. She smiled at the twitch Yreg betrayed at hearing his name. “Everyone else who might talk to you is dead or given up. And do you hear that?” A faint grinding sound now reverberated through the dungeon. “I think the headsman is sharpening his axe.”

“Yes, I think you’re right, investigator. The perfect accompaniment to my final song.” Yreg dropped his head down and exhaled. “A confession, then. Go with me to the hovel it was planned. A small shack in South Denpol. The floors were muddy and I lived their with my uncle.”

Though brief, the description brought Feren right there. Yreg’s voice droned comfortably and continued, underscored by the grinding of the nearby whetstone.

“A robbery, to alleviate my uncle’s and my squallor. It made sense; find an easy target with excess cash and poor morals. The world would get a little better for having one less rat bastard profiting on the poor. And then better still for the assuredly great things i would be able to do with my new wealth.

“Target chosen, it was a matter of learning his patterns while remaining unknown. I’m sure you’ve read all of my testimony to this. I did it all. The sleepless nights, the listening spells, the divinations. All learned, practiced, and implemented.

Yreg paused, bringing Feren out of her reverie. “Did any of your fellow investigators follow up on those leads? About the witches who taught me? About any of that? No?” He shook his head.

“No,” Feren said. “But I did. It’s just another deflection. There had to have been an accomplice. There’s just no other explanation.”

“Maybe I can persuade you otherwise. So I had almost perfect knowledge of his schedule. This is where I made my mistake. I wanted to see him up close before I went to kill him. To imagine his face contorted in fear, to see if I could hold my resolve. I decided I could. So I killed him a few nights later.

Here Feren picked up, “You killed him in the alley down the street from his villa. But his house was robbed at the same time.”

“Right, right, and surely it would be impossible for me to kill him and rob his house at the same time. Unless there was an accomplice. It’s sound logic, investigator, but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before. And it’s still not true.”

“And you’re asserting that you used witchcraft to, what, split into two people? Slow down time? What exactly are you saying?”

“No, nothing like that. Though I do admire your imagination. No, the robbery was mostly a distraction. I figured it would throw the investigation off the rails. But you would have known that if you had ever found what I stole.”

That didn’t match with any of Feren’s notes. She said, “Honestly, Yreg, it seems like you’re just messing with me. One last little puzzle before you die?”

“Yes, investigator, and you’re disappointing me quite severely.” Yreg sighed. “Did you notice the grinding has stopped? I’m afraid our time together has run out.”

“I’m stumped, Yreg. You obviously wanted to get away with the murder. And you wanted to prosper from it, which you never did. And you’ve long asserted this about your uncle, who doesn’t exist. You’re either a master manipulator, or not all there in the head. And considering you got caught I’m leaning towards the latter.”

“Trust me, investigator, there’s much more to this. You’ve missed a lot. My uncle did exist, he’s dead now. And you’re right. I didn’t prosper. But he did. Go to the graveyard in South Denpole and look closely at all the headstones.”

An official stepped into the cell and cleared his throat. “Siil Yreg, it’s time.” He unlocked Yreg’s handcuffs and led him to the door.

Before they left, Yreg said, “Investigator, I just gave you the solution. Could you do something for me in return?” At Feren’s terse nod, Yreg continued. “Will you watch? It would mean a lot.”

“Yes, I’ll be there Siil.”

---

After the execution, which was quick and clean, Feren took a carriage to the graveyard. She spent the last light of dusk reading headstones, without learning much. Until she found a stone choked by thorny weeds. Reading the name and date of death, Feren ran to the nearest pub.

“If you have a shovel, won’t ask any questions and want to make some money, come with me now.”

First, Feren had the man from the pub read the headstone aloud. “Siil Yreg. 1109-1124. Yep, that’s what it says. Someone important?”

“More or less. Dig it up, please.” Feren flashed her investigator’s license.

The graveyard was perfectly dark by the time Feren’s conscript had cleared the dirt from the coffin lid. He thudded his shovel on its lid, creating a thick echo. “Sounds empty, ma’am.”

“Open it. Let’s see.”

The man pried the lid off, confirming his suspicions. “Nothin’ here, ma’am.”

“C’mon out, then. And back to the pub. Drinks are on me.”

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


In

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


sebmojo posted:

Trapped, disdain



Bad Math
1090 Words

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

Sixteen fireflies. Seventeen.

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

Eighteen, nineteen, twenty.

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Again, Jeremy. Harder.”

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

“It’s done. You’re done. Good boy.”

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---

“Jeremy, son, it’s mom.”

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

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

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

Forty-six.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Definitely in

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


In, :toxx: for past failures. And I'd love a story suggestion and a found item flash. Cheers!

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


The Merman Gourmand

1085 words

The Cowboy's Sparkles, by Yoruichi
"Doesn't Like My Butt!"

Lezigroth sulked behind a water bitten rock and watched the horses on the beach. He particularly focused on their muscles and legs. He longed to walk among them. And to eat them.

It was true, Lezigroth was a landophile, always had been. It’s not that being a merman was bad, he really just wanted to change up his diet. Fish and turtles and the occasional shark or octopus. Every. Day. Lezigroth craved some sweet earth meat.

Letting out a sigh from his gills, Lezigroth headed off to Mertown. He knew just the person to talk to.

---

It had taken several years of visits, but Lezigroth was finally used to his friend Nespirith’s dorm. She picked up a lot of alchemy and other esoteric jobs from the Labor Guild. Thus her dorm had all kinds of unsavory implements, as well as sea flora and fauna in various states of decay.

“Listen Lezi, I know how much you want to eat… What were they again? Hyurses?”

“Horses,” Lezigroth said, flicking a membrane over his jet black eyes. The merfolk equivalent of an eyeroll.

“Oh, what did I say? Anyways, I could help you. But you never take any shifts from the Merworkers’ Labor Guild, so no vouchers to exchange. Frankly, you have nothing to offer.”

Nespirith eyed her old friend sidelong. Lezigroth gently touched his tailfin to hers and floated closer.

“Unless…” she said.

Lezigroth passed his thin purple tongue over his teeth. He said, “I’ll let you bed me.” When Nespirith sighed and leaned forward to kiss him he jolted back. “Nuh uh uh! Not til’ after I eat a horse.”

---

Several days passed before Nespirith’s concoction was ready. Lezigroth clutched it in his webbed hand and again eyed the horses on the beach. He couldn’t choose; they all looked tasty.

Nespirith had warned him about traversing on land. It would be difficult. And anything living on land would probably view him as a disgusting and vile enemy. That had stung a bit. Lezigroth considered himself to be quite attractive.

He gulped down the potion and felt its effects immediately. His muscular tail split up the middle with ripping sound. Lezigroth let out a haunting, ululating cry, spooking the horses away from the shore. The pain blacked out every other thought until, with a sense of resignation, Lezigroth fell unconscious.

---

He awoke on the shore, head throbbing. He stood up and looked around. No horses. Oh wait, he thought, I’m standing! Lezigroth stumbled around. His legs seemed to be segmented a bit differently from the horses. But he was pleased to see his feet were not one giant chunk of bone. Rather, they were attractive and webbed and glistened like emeralds in the sand.

The thrill of walking banished all thoughts of pain. Feeling confident, Lezigroth strutted off for the horses. Not far from the beach, Lezigroth came across a fence or barricade of sorts made from logs of wood. It seemed to create an enclosure.

It was a good opportunity to try jumping. His legs bent and popped uncomfortably and he did not gain much height. He settled for climbing. The exertion got to him and he sat down once on the other side. Having legs was tiring.

During this reverie, Lezigroth heard a sort of rhythmic thumping. Clump-clump-clump-clump. Like that, but fast. He looked around. Ah, Neptune’s fortune! There was a horse in the enclosure with him!

Lezigroth’s eyes bulged out at the sight of the beast. It was larger than the beach horses by far. And it had a curious belt around its midriff. He began stalking towards it, making noises he hoped were soothing to the creature.

Once within arm’s reach, the horse reared back and neighed. Lezigroth extended his legs, raising himself up and let out a shriek, more in fear than impersonation. Without thinking, he leapt towards the beast.

For the first time since being on land, Lezigroth longed for his tail. It would have easily yoked the horse, allowing Lezigroth to chew on whichever part he felt like without fear of falling. Instead, he clumsily wrapped his legs and arms around as much of the horse as he could.

Feeling confident in his grip, Lezigroth waited until the horse paused its frantic rebellion and sank his teeth into its shoulder.

Oh sweet ecstasy! The texture of the horse’s musculature was so different, so meaty! And the blood, a delicacy. It dripped thick rivulets from Lezigroth’s fangs.

Then, a sound louder than any he had experienced shocked him and he fell from the horse. Lezigroth reached a hand out towards his meal. He hissed and turned to see what had ruined his dream.

It was a human. Lezigroth had only ever read about humans. It wasn’t rare for humans and merpeople to interact, but this was the first interaction without water.

Lezigroth frustration evaporated into awe. The human was more beautiful than soft sunlight filtering through waves. Tall, head covered by a pale and wide-brimmed hat. Red hair and moustache, a colorful shirt, pale blue pants, large boots (Lezigroth decided needed a pair), and a silver medallion tied to his waist.

Once closer, the man’s face shifted. From frowning anger to wide-eyed terror. The man yelled, “Monster!” and the rod in his hands let out another booming sound. Lezigroth, without knowing what else to do, bolted back to the sea, as fast as his rickety legs could go.

---

“Give it up, Lezi, there’s no way.”

Lezigroth huddled on Nespirith’s bed, thinking over his recent encounter. His tail itched when he remembered walking.

“Okay, let me just list the pros and cons,” Lezigroth said. Pros: Cute. Cool boots. Hair. Have you ever seen hair, Nespirith? It’s great.” Nespirith merely scoffed, so Lezigroth continued. “Endless supply of horses. Imagine what kind of adventures he and I could get up to on land!”

“So move on to cons then. I have a suspicious feeling there will be a lot.”

“Okay. Cons: Language barrier. He was terrified of me. He’s probably upset I bit his horse. Sex. Would that even be possible?”

“Not to mention,” Nespirith chimed in. “You’d still be beholden to the transformation potion. No wild adventures too far from sea.”

“Yes, there is that.” Lezigroth sighed. “At least I ate a horse.”

Nespirith placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and the two allowed a somber silence.

Eventually, the silence became too much for Nespirith. She began twisting her tail around Lezigroth’s and asked, “So, are we doing this or what?”

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Here're some of my judgethoughts for object week. Link to individual crits is here (currently incomplete, will update as I go).

This was a pretty fun prompt and I loved seeing what y'all did with your objects in the smaller word count. Some of you did a lot of setup but found yourself with only a paragraph or so worth of words to tie things up. The best stories were the ones that setup what they were about while driving towards some sort of conclusion. There were a good handful of stories that had a cool premise, but didn't do much with it, which was frustrating.

My fellow judges and I were struck by how bleak some of the stories were. Which of course makes total sense in hindsight. Objects are limited to viewing and thinking and wishing. It was only natural for a theme to evolve from that.

But overall I enjoyed a lot of the stories. The ones that ended up at the bottom of the pile were either needlessly dense, abrupt, boring or slightly offensive.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


In (in the spooky red blood dripping font)

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


A Place of Scant Light
1173 words
we absolutely cannot renovate: the house would not like it

This story has been moved.

apophenium fucked around with this message at 02:39 on Jan 1, 2019

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


:toxx:ing to get the rest of my week 321 judgecrits done by Saturday the 27th

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


in in in in

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Thanks for crits muffin

And extra thanks for leaving derp out. really meant a lot

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Fulfilling my toxx, here is the completed document of all my judgecrits from week 321, Object week: apophenium week 321 judgecrits.

So if you felt left out back when I posted initially, check again! Your story has been critiqued! Thank you for your patience.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Nocturnal Skeleton Coast
1160 words
Object: a tandem bike

Armando stood in the middle of the street, staring at a suburban home. Spiderwebs choked the leaves of every tree. The shutters hung down and creaked with every gust of wind. From beneath a bush a murdered corpse reached out an arm, a last desperate stretch for life. It was all very convincing, Armando thought. It had taken him a few afternoons to achieve the spooky effects. The neighborhood committee had the day before confirmed with Armando and his mom that their house would be eligible. And Armando was feeling quite confident.

His neck prickled and he turned around. Armando stared at the house opposite of his. Somehow, despite all his effort and his neighbor’s apparent lack of effort, their sole decoration unnerved Armando to no end. A rusted red tandem bike, front wheel turned to the road. It stood up, apparently due to its rider. A hooded figure sat on the rear seat of the bike, staring down towards the cul-de-sac’s exit.

It didn’t help that neither Armando nor his mom had ever met their neighbor, let alone see them put up the tandem bike. Armando had seen his mom cross herself and mutter a prayer while looking down at the tandem biker.

Over dinner, he asked her, “What do you think of the decorations, mom?”

“They’re fantastic.” She winked. “As usual.”

“Yeah, thanks. I don’t think I’m gonna win the competition though.” He trailed off and thought about the figure standing in the yard, how realistic it looked.

“Honey, I don’t think they entered.”

“Well then why the decoration?”

His mom shrugged and chewed a bite of rice. Armando’s chair let out a small shriek as he got up. “I’m gonna see how our place looks now that it’s dark.”

Careful to avoid glimpsing the tandem bike and its rider, Armando made his way back out into the street. In the cold night air, with the streetlights sending harsh shadows everywhere, he could barely suppress a shudder. It was impeccable, his house. The cheery jack-o-lantern underscored just how unsettling everything else was. The lights he had set up in the windows were timed just right to flash up a silhouetted figure lurking behind the curtains. It would flash right when you thought you were imagining things.

It wouldn’t do to be upstaged by his lazy neighbor. Taking one more appreciative look at his work, Armando turned to the tandem bike. A jolt of fear coursed through him. The rider’s head was turned straight towards him. Armando scoffed at himself and crept into his neighbor’s yard. He reached a hand into the rider’s hood. Empty. Held its shape with wire. It probably just turned a little in the wind.

And, as he had thought, the rider’s legs were staked to the ground. With a few kicks he uprooted them, and the bike was loose. He hopped on and pedaled out of the yard, into the street. He looped around in the dark of the cul-de-sac getting used to the different weight and balance of the tandem bike. Feeling steady, he made out to the main street and said over his shoulder, “Let’s go for a ride, hey?”

A left out of the cul-de-sac had Armando and his passenger gliding down a hill. Armando thrilled at the speed, the lights of other people’s houses became blurs. He lifted his feet from the pedals and soared. Now that he had taken some of the mystique out of the tandem bike, he could rest easy. He could tell his mom about it, too, give her some peace of mind. That lead him to make the next left, to continue around the block and back home. But before he could turn down the last stretch, a strong wind pushed him forwards and a curious weight settled down on the rear of the bike.

Armando spun his head around to try to see, and saw the rider’s arms reaching towards him. He tensed, but then the arms were past him, elongating with a horrifying creak and gripping the bike’s handlebars. With nowhere else to put his hands, Armando squeezed onto the rider’s forearms. Unlike the rider’s hood, it felt like there were real arms within the sleeves. But the bike was picking up speed and Armando felt sure he would be flung off if he let go.

As the bike sped up, the pedals beneath Armando whipped around, threatening to bludgeon the boy’s feet. Red lights flickered on all sides, the streetlights seemingly blotted out. Senses now completely overwhelmed, Armando began to hear himself screaming, but soon after it began, it was muffled, a third arm now locked around his chest, a cold hand covering his mouth.

“Don’t. Scream. Just look.” The rider’s voice trickled up to Armando’s ears, seemingly emanating from just behind his neck. The words were lost immediately in the wind that now buffeted the two riders.

Eager to follow directions, Armando looked wild-eyed in every direction. His neighborhood had become unfamiliar to him. Pieces of the reality he knew had blown away like ash, revealing something else, something sinister beneath. Figures loomed in squat ruins like patient predators. The light did not seem to come from the sky, more like each speck of grit in the air held some luminescence.

Armando felt his eyes roll back and he had to will himself to consciousness. He ended up staring straight up into a bloodied eye, expanding to fill the sky above him.

“Now. I see you.” The voice came from everywhere and fell upon Armando with an actual physical weight. The bike beneath him began to rattle and bump and Armando felt sure he would perish under the ungodly gaze of the massive eye.

His stomach lurched as the bike seemed to lift off from the ground, tilting up towards the eye. He tried desperately to squeeze his own eyes shut, to block out the vision, but a pressure kept building up in his head. He fought it, though he felt he would crash into the eye at any second. Until the bike gave out from underneath him and he was falling. Now, free of the unseen rider’s hands, he let loose the screams that had been stopped in his throat.

The next morning, Armando was awoken by his mom, standing worried at the foot of his bed. “Armando, what happened to the decorations?”

“Took ‘em down,” he said, through a throat sore from the otherworldly wind and his own terrified hollering.

“But, honey, why?”

Armando could not reply, just shook his head tightly. When she asked if he was sure, he nodded and she left. His experience sat in his brain, replayed itself all the time. With dread, he finally got up and shuffled to his window.

Across from him, pointed at that same infuriating angle, was the tandem bike. Its rider now looked more solid, to Armando, more real. And its hood was cocked up, straight to Armando’s window.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Good morning, I'd like a cup of coffee and can I have one prompt over easy with a side of hash browns. Oh and some raisin toast. Thanks!

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Nice thoughts, Chili, thanks.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Yes, I am in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C500tXJVZNw

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


The Throbbing of Hell's Heart
1001 words
leads you there despite your destination

The building shook and my stomach lurched as the floor sank beneath me. I knew my brothers and I were about to die. I knew we would be pulled to hell. When the ceiling above collapsed onto us, we did not feel it. But we heard it. A distant thunder and we were on our way.

I was formless, a tangled cloud of star stuff in the void, my brothers beside me. A throbbing red heat loomed ahead of us, rimmed in translucent fangs. We were beyond fear. An ache settled into my being, a sense of failure. We lost. Now we were lost.

My youngest brother tried to console me, coalescing in front of me, shimmering. It was heartening to know we were in this together. There was another clap of thunder and we saw more of our brothers join the journey.

I tried to muster a feeling of acceptance, that I and my brothers had accomplished something with our deaths, but I could not. Instead I felt a deep unrest. I sent myself off the path, away from the crimson fires of hell, towards another, darker path. I didn’t care if my brothers followed me, but I became aware that some had, imploring me to stay the course. Rebelling could make my punishment worse, they conveyed. If that happens, so be it.

A pinpoint of light opened in the direction of my travel. I had grown weary, but the light brightened my spirit. Within seconds, the light was with me. It was another traveler of the void, however it was denser, more solid than my brothers or I. It darted about me, as if gauging my intentions.

You are dead, it whispered. Where do you think you are going?

Anywhere but there, I said. It stopped flitting around and now hovered beside me. It did not seem to struggle against the pull of hell’s maw the way I had to. Its effortless motion angered me and I pushed forward.

We traveled in silence for a long while until it finally said, That will be difficult. I will help you.

And one by one the ethereal chains dragging me to hell snapped. They were replaced with a new pressure, one urging me onwards, to wherever. I offered a silent prayer of thanks to that orb, that it took pity on me.

After an eternity of dark seconds I was absorbed into a volume of green haze. My form became a more solid light, like my helper orb. There was no more pressure. I was at peace.

I rested and grew enriched watching the green haze play about me. I learned its patterns, how to influence it, how to interpret it. I was reminded of home, like I was looking down on the blue sphere of land and water, seeing and learning so much.

It grew hollow. My outer brightness strengthened, but a dark pit bubbled in my core. None of my brothers had made it to this sanctum. My light blinked and I rose from the green safety, back to the darkness I had walked for so long.

I had a new awareness of the forms passing through the void. All the little dust clouds of the dead on their way to hell or elsewhere. I threw myself forward on a wind of new purpose, towards the nearest journeyer. Its specks of light were dim with defeat.

Hello, I offered. It did not taste like my brothers. It tasted like my enemies. Its light brightened as it became aware of me, but I backed off and sped away before it could reply.

Unencumbered by my chains, I decided to approach my fear, my original destination. Up close, its size numbed my thoughts. It was massive in a way that imposed on my sanity even more than the dark infinity of the void. It pulsed and sputtered as it chewed souls. Others it swallowed whole into its fleshy nightmare petals. My light dimmed to the cold blue of fear.

A tug. A pressure turned my attention to an approaching soul. One of my brothers. Its lights replayed its death, as if in disbelief. I said, Yes, brother, you are dead. But you can come with me. And I led it to my green sanctum to find meaning again. As it learned, the two of us grew brighter still, until we felt like true beacons.

After enough of us got together, we no longer had to seek out the rest. Instead, they shook off their fear and their defeat and came to us. Our numbers were immense and we began to think not as individuals, but as one blazing mass. Our only goal was to beat back the mouth of hell and bring some justice to this purgatorial darkness.

We floated towards the maw with restored confidence, the likes we had back in our earthly lives. Its fangs seemed minuscule now and they melted like icicles before our light. Hell’s lips quivered, betraying what we took to be fear and we thrust ahead into the realm we had dreaded for so long.

And we were merely a single blood cell in the throbbing vein of an unknowably vast chasm. The light we cast now shone red, the color of heated anger. We would not be made small. Hell would not hold us. Its barrier was as skin, and we could see the light shining through it. Hell sent its antibodies to quash our rebellion, but our vast knowledge and imperishable hope proved stronger than the ire of the inferno. The antibodies were soaked up within us and we bulged out in all directions till we filled the vein.

As flocks of birds respond to the movements of their neighbors, so did we concentrate ourselves out into a perceived weakness in the membrane. It melted all at once and we were out, free, into where we knew not. But we were not shackled. We were massive. Show us more barriers, you pitiful hell.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


I would like to enter and I would love two flash rules thank you so much

GBV lyrics are cool

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


ACIES
397 Words
In her white glory, all her backstory has been wiped clean

One hand on the wrong sandstone brick sent me tumbling down into darkness. Did I tell Bully I was going into the tomb? Will he look for me? Am I going to be famous for dying in a tomb like a moron? The anxious thoughts ricocheted through my head until I thumped into a softer material than I deserved. It knocked me out anyways.

When I awoke and lit a torch I found I was not alone. A specter loomed in the center of the room. After the adrenaline fired and I leapt back I recognized the figure for what it was: a pristine marble statue of a woman in armor.

“Hello,” I said, tiptoeing closer. Her upheld arm—toned muscles represented impeccably in the stone—raised a sword in salute. A warrior’s greeting.

“It looks as though some people treasured you, but why did they put such a beautiful statue at the bottom of a trap chute?”

At her feet was an oval pedestal with a small plaque. Most of the plaque’s milky marble was marred by gashes. Only one word remained: ACIES.

“You really were a fighter, huh?” I paced the edges of the room and gathered my thoughts. “That may be, but I’m a survivor. You’re more than welcome to spend an eternity down here. I plan on escaping.”

Despite my best attempts, I could not get my grapnel to find purchase in the shaft above me. Nor did I find another secret switch. It was looking more and more likely that Acies and I would be spending some time together.

I revisited the prior day in my head. I met with Bully. Did I mention going to this tomb?

“So. Acies. What brought you here? Did you slay a lot of your enemies? I bet you looked exactly as I see you now. Strong, confident, unafraid of death. Young. I know your type.”

I got tired of pacing and sat. “I wish I could have known you in your time. I’m sure we could have learned a lot from each other. Perhaps you can help me.”

I leaned back on my hands and told her all about me and my plans. I asked her advice on what tombs to check out, which to avoid. I was right after all; we shared stories and I feel like we both left knowing more than before.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


I Am Still There
350 Words
It's only an avalanche away; you're safe

I am still under the snow. It presses on me and I cannot fill up my lungs. I must be cold. I must be stupid. They don’t put up warning signs on the slopes for nothing. I blink frost from my eyes. I can feel my heart drumming away. My hands are cold and numb. I will die here.

And then my right hand is holding something warm and I take a full breath and he asks me where I am and I say I’m still there. He tells me to come in out of the cold but my body is too numb so he carries me.

He is patient with me. He’s heard it all before. I was doing better. It is a struggle every year then the weather starts turning cold at night not to go outside, to feel that cold again, to feel the heat of my life pulled into the environment. But it is not healthy and so he is taking me to a new therapist tomorrow to try something new.

The therapist doesn’t mean to but she puts me under the snow again. My eyelids flutter and I don’t breathe enough. I tell her where I am. I tell her I feel it in my chest and in the tips of my toes and fingers. My nose. I notice this.

I am not in the snow anymore, but I still am. I see myself in the snow, through the snow. My pitiful little self trying not to die.

I say I want to forgive him. I am crying now. I want to forgive him and I want to help him. I open my eyes and follow the therapist’s finger. The coldness in my hands intensifies as I dig down to myself in the snow, still so warm down there in my ice cocoon. I pull myself out of the snow. I am smiling now.

Where are you now, she asks. I’m in bed with Miro. The sheets are warm with our heat and I feel happy. I feel safe.

Where do you feel that?

I feel it in my heart.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Always down for some sci-fi. In.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Sorry to disappoint everyone but I've ended up not writing a sci-fi story and have written a fantasy story. I hope you all will forgive me.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


The Edge of Gorrin
994 words

Feirgo burst into my tent giddy with excitement. I peeked through blankets at what he held. A xylaki. Badly injured but still living. My dream came back to my: I lived elsewhere. I had a family.

“This is big, Ledda! A living xylaki! Finally people will have a reason to come back to Gorrin. The only people who come here anymore just want to wish on a trinket thrown in the stream.”

I finally sat up and acknowledged Feirgo. “Take it outside before it bleeds on my furs.”

The moonlight made me squint. I looked around our village and saw no one else. Good. I’d hate to start gossip that Feirgo and I were talking again. Anyways, the bastard was right about the xylaki. He cradled it like a baby, like the valuable creature it was.

“So I suppose you want a poultice. Maybe a charm potion to keep it by your side?” I pulled my blanket tighter against the night chill.

“Could you? I’ve already posted a letter to the capital. The Queen’s envoy will be coming in a month or two, but I expect interested onlookers will start showing up any day now.” His excitement was refreshing to see. It was catching, too. I could even forgive him for not saying please.

“Don’t wait up. I’mgetting some more sleep tonight.” His face fell so I quickly added: “I’ll go ahead and bandage it, don’t worry.”

Feirgo’s tent was too large him alone. I suppose it’s not too late for him to find someone new. Far too late for us. The xylaki’s breathing slowed as I massaged it. It’s eyes glittered with alertness and alien intelligence. It was hard to keep my frown on; I was genuinely intrigued by the possibilities of a Foreign creature in our village.

Feirgo exhaled and paced. Perhaps watching me work reminded him of how things used to be. Perhaps he was just concerned the creature would die. I stanched the bleeding and tied the bandage tight. I stood the creature up on its hind legs and it twittered at me. “You’re welcome,” I said. To Feirgo I said, “Don’t wake me up before sunrise ever again. Xylaki or no.” And I left before he could respond.

But I couldn’t go back to sleep. I imagined the Queen here. I imagined stuffy, well-dressed morons standing on their tip-toes to see a fabled xylaki. I thought about leaving Gorrin. Let the xylaki die. It would teach Feirgo a lesson for getting his hopes up. Or tend to it. It could be the kid he had never wanted. I sighed at myself for being so maudlin and set to work on the poultice.

When I woke it was past noon. I was shocked at Feirgo’s patience. For the first time it struck me. Did anyone else in the village know about the xylaki? No one waited outside Feirgo’s tent. There was no buzz of excitement or anything. I waited ‘til the coast was clear and slipped in through the back of his tent.

He sat on the floor near a small cookfire with the xylaki wrapped up in several furs. “Does it have a fever?” I loomed over the two of them and tried to see. “Can they even get fevers?”

“Not according to anything I’ve read. But it started shaking.” His concern burned away for a second and he shot me with an angry glare. “It could have died.”

I shrugged and knelt down. “I don’t have to help you, Feir.” I unwrapped the tiny pale blue creature and felt how warm it was. The bandage was soaked with thin blood. The wound underneath looked like a puncture from an arrow. I squeezed the poultice in my hand to activate it and placed it on the wound.

“Did you shoot it, Feir?” I asked, tying up a new bandage. He stared in silence for a spell and gave only the slightest of nods. “Did the arrowhead come free?” Again, silence, nod. I sighed my relief. “Then it’ll live. It could be shock.”

I held the xylaki in my hands and looked into its innocent face. Ah, what could we have had, Feir? A little one to teach how to track deer, like you? And maybe if I taught them a few mixtures they’d have a chance of making something for themself, here or elsewhere. I plopped a few clear drops of painkiller into the creature’s short snout and prayed Feir would be kind to it.

Not a week later the first curious visitors appeared in town. I smirked to think how backwards and ugly our lives must seem to them. And to think us lowly forest-dwellers had something they had to see. I was pleased, I admit. And they spent gold on my mixtures.

Feirgo had not gotten far with training the xylaki. The poor thing was still ailing, but could traipse around on its delicate legs.

More showed up the next day, and the next. They set their carriage houses up on the outskirts. I had not anticipated this. I thought people would come and go. But the pressure was building. They wanted to see the xylaki do what it was supposed to.

At the end of the month the crowds were massive. I became a hermit. But I was there when the xylaki finally blinked, zipping from one spot to the next with a flash of blue light. I heard the gasps and I saw how proud Feirgo was.

So the Queen wouldn’t be disappointed, after all. Feirgo had done it. I put a stock of treats for the xylaki in his tent when I left. It may take him some time to realize I’m gone. I hope it doesn’t hurt him too much.

Feirgo had found a better purpose. Seeing his new life begin pushed me to seek one of my own. It was not going to be in Gorrin a few paces from his arms.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


I would like to judge, if you will have me.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Hey, this was the next bit of Steering the Craft I was gonna do! How fortuitous! I am in.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Hanukkah Week Judgecrits!!!

What a fun week! AV and I had some tough choices to make. There were a lot of okay stories! No one posted a real stinker. So, here are how things shook out in my lil noggin.

Djeser: Starts off with some heavy exposition, which I was able to forgive because the words were pretty! And thankfully it was not just solid exposition the whole time. There was a cool theme of the watcher becoming a sort of reluctant god. All seeing, but unable to act... Until she does act. We get a light-speed sketch of the civilization advancing from faith into science and into who knows from there. It feels like an intro to a long, meaty sci-fi book that I wish I had a copy of! This got my interest piqued and there's a hint of payoff, just enough, I think. Let me know if you ever expand this!

sh: Oh, cool, a Djeser-inspired inanimate object story, maybe? I dig it. There's a real pleasure in following the tautological viewpoint of the orchid. It's a simple joy to read, especially since the prose is so fine. I admit, the first time through I was a bit baffled by the ending. I thought hell was opening up and swallowing the woman, and that she randomly orchid-magic'd out of there. But hell swallowed up the fire, and the bit about her being somewhere else is just that she survived and moved elsewhere. Once that clicked for me, my enjoyment of the story really bloomed.

tyrannosaurus: Oh no! This one was so frustrating for me because it's so good! I can't help but feel there was some squandered potential here. I was all geared up for some wacky exorcism or something, but I didn't get it. Oh well. It's a very good story, the characters are great. Sheriff and mom were well characterized, and I even got some cool stuff about the kid, Cricket. So the ending had a bit of a punch with the realization about the dog... But not quite enough to lift the story up into something I'd call complete and realized. Really great hook and bones here, though!

Solitair: I was daunted by the word count right off the bat. I tried to hide away my worries and just plow through. So I had to dig through a lot of exposition to get to when the story really happens, once Moncrief is introduced. I didn't get enough to really care about either Moncrief or the subterranean people, despite the chunky word count. And then the ending, I guess Moncrief prayed and sacrificed himself for the underground folk? I like that in theory, but it didn't necessarily follow from the 1500 words or so before it. Nor was it impactful enough to justify all those words. But, it was a complete story, with a solid ending. So, as AV said, you kinda just got the short straw. While here you had plenty of words and told a whole story with them, they weren't as good as say tyranno's, even though tyranno's didn't have much in the way of a conclusion.

Bad seafood: Pretty engaging, right off the bat. Had me asking questions and wanting to see them answered, which is always a good place to start. But then some things happen that I was largely confused about! People gather and the narrator kills them in order to complete some ritual that will make them invisible? But it doesn't work? Or it works too well? Not sure! It's got a great mood, though. I read it a few times in rapid succession cause there were some cool bones that I wanted to get some meat on, so I could figure out if it was a duck or a tiger or a snake. I think the clipped, enigmatic prose works for capturing the narration of a person who is maybe to traumatized from the events they're recounting to really give much in the way of detail. The bits that stick out are pithy and wry, like a deflection. Which you'd have to have I guess to rationalize murder. I would hope anyway.

Kaishai: You got a neat premise here. I really felt thrown into it. It's a tough purgatorial survival kind of thing. Although the characters seem immortal, somewhat. Trying to figure out the characters and their goals was interesting. I got the sense that the characters all had some kind of entwined backstory that was just to the left of when the story started. And I never got enough pieces to start putting the puzzle together. The love of the narrator, Graham, for Vesper was a little unsteady. So Graham makes a raft and sends Vesper out on it. The possibilities being that Vesper makes it to... Somewhere. Somewhere hopefully better. Or Vesper dies. Which Graham justifies by saying well, Vesper was going to heaven anyways. I didn't have enough on Graham's character to really follow the logic here, so the impact of the ending was lost on me. It seemed like being stuck on the volcano island wasn't really much of a threat since they could just jump in the lava or whatever.

Thranguy: I was initially really impressed with this because a lot of the stories had rushed endings, non-endings or unearned endings. This one felt realized and earned and solid. Which is good! That's a good thing, to tell a story with an ending, I think. I also was very very smitten with the premise. This story really shines in the details, like the Voice's vocabulary being lost on the people and the big honkin' red button. I also loved the symmetry with the telling time by the stars thing. Really good little details there that make the setting and therefore the story feel much bigger. And the reluctance of the Question-asker becoming a leader. Just kind of going and being followed. It worked for me as a competent and entertaining story, but not one that fully soared.

seb: I think this works on a few different levels. The conversation between the two characters in the story is fun and witty in the way conversations can be when they’re well written and the people are kind of talking past each other. The coincidence of the store collapsing the absolute second the narrator’s nostalgia and obligation are finally shattered is pretty cool and the scene is described quite well, shocking, confusing, scary. My main gripe is the vaguely manic-pixie-dream-girl quality of the lady. She’s from a different country, acknowledges the weird tap tap thing, thoughtfully responds to the narrator’s odd and self-indulgent questions, and invites the narrator out and away, the act of which sets the climactic events of the story into motion. So that unfortunately drags down an otherwise interesting story.

Thanks everyone for sharing your stories! I had a lot of fun reading them.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


One Entrance, One Exit
467 Words

If you slammed the door to the room shut it would cough and rattle and dust would sweep in through the gap between it and the floor. The floor just inside used to be pristine white faux-marble tiles, each shaped like little diamonds. The first foot and a half or so of tiles are lined with scrapes from the metal trays of various food stuffs slung under the door’s gap.

If you faced the door from just inside the room, to your right would be a clear plastic towel rod, sans towel. To the left is where the cream-colored counter was. It was removed, leaving the sink standing like a porcelain flamingo on its one leg of copper pipe. The mirror stayed intact, mostly. A big plate of mirrored glass, with the bottom left corner now missing a jagged shark’s bite. This asymmetrical bit of the mirror is just above the toilet, whose bowl is stained with a ring of brown-red from whatever metal particles the water holds. Dust drapes on the white curves of the toilet’s base. Behind the toilet is a small tin that would smell like weed if you happened to find it.

Rounding out the room is the bathtub shower. Grime clings to its poorly glazed surface. A thick mat of hair lines the bottom of the tub, giving the room its only soft surface. There is no shower head, just a bent metal tube protruding like a heron beak waiting for a fish.

If you still faced the door the room would seem small. The ceiling and the one visible wall hang close and tight like a stomach ache, a sense accentuated by the ruddy matte pink of the wall and smoke stained brown of the ceiling.

If the blowing wind and fresh air at your back finally drew your attention from the room you would see a window. Perhaps about two feet wide and four feet tall. Beyond it the sun might be setting through the bare winter trees. Or there’s a dense wall of shrubs and tree leaves dancing in the rain. The window is stuck open. If you looked closely you would see the busted lock and the scratches in the sill and at the bottom of the window’s wooden frame.

If you poked your head out and looked down you would see the ground. It might be a ten foot drop, maybe more. The window’s cheap and flimsy screen is down there, nearly obscured by leaves. With your back to the door, maybe you can forget the room entirely. Forget the thin door with its multiple locks added into the frame with little care. Forget the chains and ropes and locks, some broken, frayed, rusted. If you did forget, perhaps you could leave the room.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


I'm in for this week and if you could toss me a map please Thranguy that would be awesome.

TD is super fun to me and I'm sad I accrued so many failures on account of depression. I love the kayfabe. I love having the TD titans judging my stories. I love that I could maybe win one day.

I hate it but I don't think there's a good way to get people to crit more. So I'll just try to crit more myself.

Thank you all so much. TD is mainly what I come to SA for anymore. See ya next year!

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


When There's No One Around
591 Words

It began as a hobby, but my interest in mutually assured destruction soon took over my life. My mom used to complain that I was out all the time with the rodeos and circuses. Then she complained that I was inside all the time researching missile trajectories and how nuclear fallout would alight on the winds and kill the world.

My obsessive research resulted in a map. I didn’t expect it to be very accurate, let alone necessary. But I estimated the safest places to live. The places I could survive if and when poo poo went down. After a month or so of indecision a news story about India’s cache of warheads reaching five digits encouraged me to make my move.

It was lonely in Brazil at first. I didn’t know Portuguese and I hadn’t told anyone where I was going. But I got a few useful phrases down and started saving money for my bunker. It’s hard to make kids laugh when you’re close to making GBS threads yourself with fear of imminent nuclear destruction. In addition to the fear, there was sadness. All of those kids were likely to be vaporized. Irradiated, at the very least. Even if Belo Horizonte’s surrounding mountains would protect it from most fallout, bunkers were necessary to ensure survival.

But I grinned and honked my little horn and tripped over my big red spats like a professional. At first I went home to a hostel, then my own house, and at last the secure bunker I built under said house. Nothing fancy. But the best I could build on a clown’s income. All I had to do was make sure I was in it at the critical moment.

I ask myself now why I didn’t share my map, give other people a chance at life. Hell, I didn’t even let my mom know. Part of me didn’t want to be seen as sad and paranoid as I really was. As a clown, being laughed at is par for the course, but it wasn’t really me people laughed at. If I shared my map and got laughs I don’t think I could’ve taken it. Is that spiteful?

It was a Saturday night when the first bombs started flying. I pitied all the people trying to lose a night to booze or drugs or dancing or whatever. The first howl of my sensors and the faint vibrations of the world ending woke me from my usual light sleep. My body shook with exhilaration. I hadn’t felt like that since I was a kid on Christmas morning. The anticipation. I wanted to run out and see, but I wanted to wait until the coast was clear. It was hell, the waiting.

Then it ended. A week-long apocalypse. I got halfway up the ladder and saw the note I left myself: “Don’t forget: The fallout will be active for a minimum of two weeks. Wait two months.” I climbed the ladder again after a month.

Belo Horizonte looked different without all the people buzzing around, without a football match shaking the streets. I trundled around town, unable to orient myself; most of my usual landmarks had been destroyed or displaced. It was all too empty. I should have told people. Perhaps some other paranoid freaks were hiding in their holes in the other cities I had deemed safe. But maybe I was alone.

I made it to the wreckage of Minerăo before I finally broke down crying. In the center of the ruined stadium I honked my horn for nobody.

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apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


Fantastic crittin'. Thanks folks.

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