A song written in ancient days, pining for even ancienter days.
|# ¿ Jan 17, 2018 14:10|
|# ¿ Jul 1, 2022 05:32|
Acceptance (1,350 words)
It was a simple tune, low and long - like the creaking of a ship in the eye of a storm.
Lauja stood before the glittering sea, his back to flames. He held in his hands a long-necked instrument, carefully strung. His back was covered in lashes.
Black waves beneath a black sky strewn with jewels. His fingers moved on their own.
Marduk shuddered at the sound.
"Are there words?"
Lauja did not answer.
The warlord dismounted, his features framed in the shadow of the burning city. He had killed his first man when he was fourteen. Today he had killed three hundred. His men had pulled the king down from his high place, through the streets and through the square. Marduk himself had administered the molten silver, the drink of death. He dismounted for no man. He dismounted now.
"Are there words, friend?"
Lauja did not answer. He knew why the warlord had come. He was a traitor. A useful traitor, but a traitor all the same. A burning city left no survivors.
Lauja closed his eyes and played.
"None at all?" asked Ata.
"None that I know," said Qizi. She cradled her lute like a newborn babe.
Those who had gathered there turned and whispered. Ata stared blankly. He stroked his mustache.
Of course it was custom for the daughter-in-law to perform at such an event, and his wife and the girl had been quite close. He'd heard the girl was talented, heard her play before, but the melody now welling up from her fingers seemed almost alien. There was depth in its simplicity, yearning and regret tinged with hope for the future. Loss was not uncommon on the steppes. Doubtless the girl had felt its sting.
Yet this purely? This deeply?
"Where did you learn such a thing?" asked the priest.
Oglan leapt to his feet, the flute behind his back. He’d been sitting alone in the parish. Father Erwin saw fear in his eyes. He raised a hand to calm the boy, to catch him before he fled out the door.
“You’re in no trouble my child, settle down.”
“I’m sorry Father. I know I shouldn’t be in here.”
“Nevermind all that, nevermind,” said the priest. The boy had emerged from the shadows out onto the sun-kissed steps of the church. His feet were bare and bruised and bloody. Father Erwin scooped him up and took him to the fountain. Holding the boy in the crux of his arm, he washed his feet by the man-made spring.
“They, they stole my shoes. They chased me here. They said, they said-”
“Easy now, speak slowly.”
It’d been two years since Father Erwin first founded his church. The villagers were split between those who believed and those who did not. Both sides antagonized the other, much to the priest’s displeasure. Oglan’s tale was not unusual, but for all his stammering the boy shed no tears. It had been the mourning of his soul, his music, that had drawn Father Erwin’s attention from outside.
“There is power in words,” said the priest, “Great power. From the mouth of God, they are marvelous things, but men are born tyrants and thoughtless with speech. Do not let the words of those who hate you reach you.”
“I’ll...I’ll try, Father.”
The old man smiled. “That’s all I ask. And in the meantime, if it’s shoes you need, I think I can provide. Let me see, let me see.” He rose to his feet, the boy in his arms.
“By the way,” he said, “That music you were playing. I’ve never heard anything as desolate and beautiful. Is it one of your folk songs?”
“I, I suppose it is, though I don’t know the words. Or if there are any. It’s played in the dark times, when strength is needed.”
“I see, I see.” Father Erwin hummed what he recalled of the boy’s ability. Oglan corrected him, and their voices were as one. “A haunting tune.” The priest nodded. He wondered if he might write a hymn from the rhythm.
“Or so the story goes,” said Miss Tenenbaum.
Yumi rose as her teacher stood and looked away as she rubbed her eyes. The telegram declaring the death of Miss Tenenbaum’s mother lay open on the table in words the student couldn’t yet read. She’d never meant to intrude in the first place, but something in the song the foreign woman sang drew the young girl here to her teacher in distress. She couldn’t place the words, but she understood the feeling.
“Ha ha, I’m sorry.” Miss Tenenbaum shut her eyes tight, then relaxed. “I’ve had such a day. No matter where you go, it’s never far enough to escape from bad news.”
Yumi didn’t say anything. She wasn’t sure what to say. A week ago she’d been playing with her brother. He’d accepted a job halfway around the world, in London. He said he’d return, but she couldn’t shake the feeling she’d never see him again. She’d heard the teacher’s somber song from yard below, and come around to investigate. She'd sat in silence a full minute before Miss Tenenbaum took note of her.
“Anyway, yes, it’s an old song, a hymn. The original tune hails from the Central Asian mountains, I think. Something sung at partings and funerals. It always brings me peace to...ah, I’m sure I’m wasting your time. You should be heading home.”
“No, no.” Yumi balled her fists. “I like your song. I like how it makes me feel. It’s sad but...it’s also not sad.”
Miss Tenenbaum smiled. She began to sing again.
“My grandmother taught it to me,” said Corporal Koito. “A foreign tune from a foreign land. A foreign religion. It holds no meaning for me, and yet it brings me peace.”
The dying soldier looked to his prisoner. It was clear from his bewildered expression the American hadn’t understood a word. But perhaps he’d understood something much deeper?
There was a sound of steam and pressure and pain, and water began to fill the chamber. The ship was sinking.
Corporal Kotio held his side. His chest was wet and warm, even as the sea salt began to consume his ankles. He slumped down against the wall, a swathe of blood painting the iron interior.
He reached for his pistol, only to pull out his keys. He tossed them to the American soldier.
“Live,” he said. “You can understand this much, can’t you? Escape, swim, struggle. Live.”
The American soldier removed his bindings and stood up, soaked to his waist in rising water. He looked to his captor, but Koito was dead.
“It means goodbye?”
Ashley stood over the piano, her fingers poised to resume playing. Her abilities were stunted by the suit she wore, yet the power of the song was evident still.
Roger wiped a thin layer of film from the protective glass that shielded his face. The mold in the underground had been steadily growing worse. He and Ashley stood in what had once been a ballroom, long-since abandoned to the tomb of civilization.
Ashley backed away from the piano. “I never expected to find one still working down here. Haven’t played since I was a girl. I’m a bit out of practice.”
“Probably just these gloves. You know how hard it is to do delicate work with these things.”
Roger held a curious device in his hands, small and sleek and obsidian. He punched in their coordinates, the time since they’d last seen the sun. They couldn’t stray too far too long. Their air filters would need replacing soon.
“This way.” He motioned for Ashley to follow. “There’s some moisture below near the shopping arcade. Should be enough for the return trip.”
Ashley nodded dutifully and made for the door.
“That song have a name?” asked Roger.
“It needs no name,” said Lauja.
Marduk considered the slave’s response. Behind his back, he held the knife. “If it has no name, how will anyone know it is yours?”
“It isn’t,” said Lauja, who looked to the stars.
|# ¿ Jan 22, 2018 06:23|
Thunderdome the Two Hundred and Eighty-Sixth: Picturesque Picaresque
Picturesque (pɪktʃəˈrɛsk), adj - visually attractive, especially in a quaint or charming way.
Picaresque (pɪkəˈrɛsk) adj - relating to an episodic style of fiction dealing with the adventures of a rough and dishonest but appealing hero.
This week on Thunderdome I'm looking for crime fiction. Specifically, feel-good crime fiction. Heists, capers, that kinda thing. Gentlemen thieves, cat burglars, and dashing rogues with hearts of gold who manage to elude the authorities while taking their villainous victims down a peg. But I'm looking for a little more than that. I want vibrant locations and colorful characters. I want settings that pop and feel like they're a member of the cast. You can take your disaffected loners, your hard-boiled tramps and dingy street gutters and stick 'em where the sun don't shine. Bulldoze that squalid, back-alley speakeasy and replace it with a glittering casino with an ocean view. But most importantly, have fun. Your stories should make me smile.
And don't think you're clever for sneaking in some ham-fisted, barely-restrained socio-political commentary on the the effects of late capitalism on the lower class, I want guilt-free escapism. Also if you try to ironically subvert anything I've asked for here and expect to be rewarded, you're gonna be disappointed.
Here are the rules, bucko.
Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 09:02 on Jan 27, 2018
|# ¿ Jan 23, 2018 16:07|
Your protagonists (plural) are children. Their adversaries (plural) are not. Your story (singular) may not involve rebelling against parents or teachers.
Double or nothing!
You are going to steal the Eiffel Tower, actually. The actual, for-real Eiffel Tower. Twice.
I'm going to steal the Eiffel Tower! (Probably not)
Your protagonist gets caught up in a closed-room murder mystery.
In, Double or nothing!
Who could've guessed the Takarazuka Revue was just a front!
in, double or nothing
The resulting car chase spanned six countries and a yacht.
Double or nothing.
|# ¿ Jan 23, 2018 16:41|
Trained in eleven martial arts, twelve languages, and bog standard parlor tricks.
IN. DOUBLE OR NOTHING
Three different people, each acting independently, decide to take a crack at the same treasure on the same day at the same time...and they couldn't have done it without each other.
Double or Nothing me.
"If a man tells you he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or a Gurkha." Or, in this case, both.
This whole month has been really tight on time over the weekends, but I think I should try to get something in, so
Your protagonist must make off with the crown prince in the middle of his own wedding, with no one the wiser - including the prince.
When your protagonist is called out, as inevitably they will be, they will calmly explain "When he reached the New World, Cortez burned his ships."
gently caress it, dude, let's go bowling. In, and I lay my life on the line.
Your protagonist has formed an odd but genuine friendship with the police inspector who's been chasing them all these years.
In, double or nothing.
She was a handsome young woman with a knack for shooting; a real Annie Oakley in a three-piece suit.
Your protagonist, or one of them, has a crippling disability which makes an otherwise routine part of job significantly more complicated. Despite this, they hold their own.
In, Double or Nothing
While I'm leaving the flash rule as is, do know I hold you to a higher standard than to think you'll stick with the easy out of having a colorblind demolitions expert.
Casing the joint's already hard enough when you aren't babysitting your cousin's kids.
In, double or nothing!
The Shanghai grocer and the Austrian dentist hated each other immediately.
In and I'll take a flash rule, with a side of shrimp cocktail.
The ship was sinking, the mark was missing, and there I was handcuffed to the Ethiopian eunuch.
Well, I wouldn't be representing the good denizens of Nevada if I didn't put it all on Red, in with Double or nothing. And I'll lay my life on the line for good measure like the degenerate gambler I am.
Someone on the crew's an undercover cop. Someone else is a hitman. They don't know each other's secret. Everyone else does.
In double or nothing
The job was a setup, only not that kind of setup.
I am in, and and also give me a flash rule please.
Your protagonist is a staunch pacifist who likes to announce their burglaries 24-hours in advance. Their adversaries are armed to the teeth.
In, double or nothing
Somebody fucked around with this message at 01:23 on Jan 29, 2018
|# ¿ Jan 24, 2018 11:51|
As a point of clarification, doubling down and toxxing doesn't triple your word count or anything. You can double down or toxx for the same benefit. You can also double down and toxx for kicks, or toxx and request a flash rule. Either way, you either have 777 or 1,554 words to work with.
Dunno if any of you thought this, but I'd rather nip it in the bud now than get several 2,000+ word stories on Sunday.
The contractor who designed the building where your story takes place clearly attended the same architectural college as the guy who designed the myriad of puzzle box mansions present in the Resident Evil series.
I'm in, I'm ing:, laying my life on the line, doubling my nothing, etc.
Which is to say, the whole place it loaded with traps, puzzles, and bizarre key-alternatives.
|# ¿ Jan 25, 2018 12:49|
In. double or nothing. (I've always wanted to be Carmen Sandiego)
|# ¿ Jan 26, 2018 16:08|
Sign-ups are closed. You have 47 hours to submit.
Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 07:17 on Jan 28, 2018
|# ¿ Jan 27, 2018 09:00|
24 hours remain.
|# ¿ Jan 28, 2018 08:00|
Submissions are closed.
No lingering toxxes but Fleta Mcgurn, Flesnolk, a New Study Bible!, BabyRyoga, HisMajestyBOB, and Maigius are all no-shows and total weenies. Come on guys, I gave you three hours.
Nevertheless, if any of these weenies manage to submit their stories before judgment, they just might get a crit out of it. Maybe.
As for the rest of you, carry on my wayward sons. And daughters. And Crabrock.
|# ¿ Jan 29, 2018 11:00|
So this was a pretty uneven week overall. Even the best stories were lacking something - most often, a satisfying conclusion - and the bad ones, well, I'll let the crits speak for themselves.
At the absolute bottom of the barrel we have Unfunny Poster, whose detached, uninteresting protagonist committed the worst crime of all: a story In Which a Thing Happens and that's it, that's the story. There's definitely more to dislike here, not the least of which being the bare minimum lip service you manage to pay your own flash rule, but when it came to the race to the bottom, that's what cleared you out ahead of the pack.
But don't be quick to judge, lest you yourself be judged, Ninjalicious and RandomPauI. Unfunny Poster may have spared you both the losertar, but make no mistake you guys owe him big time. Especially you Ninjalicious, Mr. Sign-Up-and-Immediately-Post-a-Story. Welcome to Thunderdome.
In greener pastures we find the better works of Antivehicular and Dr. Klocktopussy, whose charming, low-risk capers still managed to stoke the human goodness in my heart. High times, good times.
But there can only be one winner, and that winner - by a thin margin - was DreamingofRoses, whose Jack Burton-inspired shotgun wedding captured more or less everything I wanted from this prompt, and had me wishing for more.
The throne is yours, Dreaming. You didn't even have to steal it. You earned it.
|# ¿ Jan 31, 2018 08:35|
Week No. 286 Crits
Taken verbatim from my notes, except for the parts where it isn't.
Why Try Harder
By Ninjalicious (NO FLASH RULE)
My Last Day
By Unfunny Poster (the Shanghai grocer and the Austrian dentist hated each other immediately)
A Trip Down Memory Lane
By Exmond (your protagonist gets caught up in closed-room murder mystery)
Through a Glass, Darkly
By Deltasquid (you are going to steal the Eiffel Tower, actually. The actual, for-real Eiffel Tower. Twice)
The Soft Touch
By Antivehicular (when your protagonist is called out, as inevitably they will be, they will calmly explain “When he reached the New World, Cortez burned his ships”)
Word of God
By Fuschia Tude (your protagonist is a pacifist who likes to announce their burglaries 24-hours in advance. Their adversaries are armed to the teeth)
The Adventures of Colin Flame: Heiress on the High Seas
By Sandnavyguy (the ship was sinking, the mark was missing, and there I was handcuffed to the Ethiopian eunuch)
A Heap of Trouble
By Apophenium (the contractor who designed the building where your story takes place clearly attended the same architectural college as the guy who designed the myriad of puzzle box mansions present in the Resident Evil series)
May Treasure Fill Your Home
By Dreaming of Roses (the trailer for Big Trouble in Little China)
By Crain (trained in eleven martial arts, twelve languages, and bog standard parlor tricks)
Queen of Diamonds
By Curlingiron (your protagonist, or one of them, has a crippling disability which makes an otherwise routine part of the job significantly more complicated. Despite this, they hold their own)
Sands of San Christo Cor
By Djeser (NO FLASH RULE)
By Crabrock (your protagonist must make off with the crown prince in the middle of his own wedding, with no one the wiser - including the prince)
By CascadeBeta (your protagonist has formed an odd but genuine friendship with the police inspector who’s been chasing them all these years)
By Hawklad (casing the joint’s already hard enough when you aren’t babysitting your cousin’s kids)
Hell Hath No Fury
By Yoruichi (NO FLASH RULE)
Gloria Tuesday in: Last Train to Russia
By Thranguy (who could’ve guessed the Takarazuka Revue was just a front!)
The Day Before Sunday
By GenJoe (she was a handsome young woman with a knack for shooting; a real Annie Oakley in a three-piece suit)
The Midas Blade
Dr. Kloctopussy (the job was a setup,only not that kind of setup)
Don Mendoza and his Sly Compatriots Strike their First Corpulent Target - 756
By RandomPauI (NO FLASH RULE, NO SIGN UP; DISQUALIFIED)
|# ¿ Jan 31, 2018 09:01|
|# ¿ Jan 31, 2018 09:01|
|# ¿ Feb 3, 2018 16:20|
Warmth (998 words)
The forlorn girl gazed into the sink. Long silken hair, rough cut, filled the basin. The cold steel scissors shuddered in her hand. The mirror was broken. Everything was broken. She’d have to ask Sergei how it looked.
She pocketed the scissors and reached for her glove. Her fingers were white and cold and numb.
Sergei stood overlooking the stairs. He held a pistol and a carton of cigarettes. Five flights below lay the body a man, his head smashed open like a bottle of jam.
Sergei cast the cigarettes into the void. He’d made a promise, after all.
“How do I look?” she asked.
“You look beautiful.”
“You’re not even looking.”
“I am, I am.”
Sergei turned around. He dwarfed Imogen by a good two feet. She looked up at him with a stern expression. Even as she shivered, there was fire in her eyes.
“How do I look?”
“You look tough. You look strong.”
Sergei bent over and opened his suitcase. It was filled with books and papers and clothes. He pulled out a cap, jet black, folded shut. He snapped it open and put it on her head.
“It’s nearly time,” he said.
“I know,” she said.
They descended the stairs holding hands. They had one pair of gloves between them. In his pocket, Sergei kept his pistol. In her pocket, Imogen held close the scissors.
The abandoned apartments opened out onto a steely grey town. The sky was blue and the earth was white.
The streets were sparsely populated, but the posters were everywhere. Imogen pulled the cap over her eyes, her head low. Sergei swept the sidewalks with a glance. People were quiet. Quiet was good.
“My name is Sergei. I’m assigned to protect you.”
She’d been drinking tea with her cousin when they’d first met. Before the winter, before the war. He’d looked so smart then, in his uniform, but she could immediately tell how nervous he was.
“Sit down,” she’d commanded. “Join us for tea.”
I could use some tea now, she thought. Something simple, something warm. She held his hand tight.
Sergei rounded the corner. The ticket booth was crowded, angry, chaotic. A man in pince nez glasses was being dragged away by the scruff of his coat. His face had been beaten, his things confiscated. He would be taken out back and never seen again. Once he was gone, the crowd slowly cooled.
“Are you prepared?” Sergei asked.
“Does it matter?”
“It always matters.”
“Then the answer is yes.”
The two made their way through the gathering throng. Imogen put on a practiced squint. The tides broke against Sergei, and at last they stood before the counter. “Two tickets please, for me and my brother.” He paid in crumpled bills.
The man with the newspaper watched them leave.
Imogen counted their change. It wasn’t much, but it might be enough. “We’ve still a few minutes before the train. Would you like something to drink?”
“If you’re offering, yes, if it’s someplace discrete.”
She surveyed the street and selected a cafe with boarded-up windows. The interior was warmed by a pot-bellied stove. Black tea was cheap, but only for one. She nodded and waited and brought back a cup.
Sergei had picked a table near the entrance. She sat down and placed the cup before him. He took it to his lips and let the smell warm him.
Imogen sat in silence, hands together. Sergei placed the drink down before her, half-full. She raised it up and shared the flavor. She offered Sergei the briefest of smiles. He smiled in turn and looked out the door.
“I miss...” she said, trailing off. He nodded.
“I do as well.”
“We’ll have to make it a habit again.”
“Of course, of course.”
She examined the inside of the cup. There was the sound of a train in the distance.
“That’s us,” he said. She nodded. Hand-in-hand they left the shop.
The train platform stretched into the distance, its metal awnings coated in snow. The gas lamps flickered with each new arrival as human beings poured in and out of every orifice.
“Excuse me miss, you seem to have dropped something.”
She turned in the direction of the voice. It belonged to a middle-aged man with a stately square beard and black mustache. In his hand he held a folded newspaper.
“Well aren’t you a beautiful boy. Strange you should respond.” His smile turned cruel.
“I-” Imogen said. Sergei spun around. He pulled his pistol. So did the man. Two shots rang out and Sergei stumbled, teeth grit. The shoulder of his coat was dyed deep crimson. Imogen held fast to him. The man approached calmly. They’d drawn quite a crowd.
“Useless. You can release him, Miss Dvoryane. If you wish to continue living, you may accompany me.” His gun trained on Sergei, he extended a hand.
Imogen looked into the man’s eyes. Trembling, she let go of Sergei’s hand. The man leaned down and took her by the wrist. She whipped out her scissors and stabbed him in the eye.
“JZUYAAA,” the man toppled backward, blood running down his face. He pulled the trigger, shooting wildly. The people panicked.
Sergei steadied himself against the train. He fired again. He didn’t miss.
“You need to go,” he said. He turned toward Imogen.
“I can’t,” she said. Her words were laced with pain. He looked and saw the hole in her side.
“Ah...” he said, his own breathing heavy. Imogen pulled herself close to him. “I’m sorry,” he said “I meant to protect you.”
“You did,” she said, smiling softly. “You did.”
The train whistled. There were footsteps, shouts. The military police trapped beyond the gates. Sergei shuddered. He clambered aboard with the girl in his arms.
“Are we leaving?” she asked. Her eyes were shut.
“We are,” he said.
“That’s good. I’m glad.”
They stumbled into an empty compartment, onto the seat, and collapsed. He held her tight and never let go.
|# ¿ Feb 4, 2018 17:23|
Don't sign your posts.
|# ¿ Feb 6, 2018 21:45|
Live critting Week 288 here:
Just a heads up, this kinda "They just don't understand my brilliance!" bullshit gets tedious real quick. If the possibility of someone disliking your work is an anathema to you, you're in for a slog.
But rest assured, if it's more people finding fault with your stories you desire, I'm your huckleberry. You'll get my crits when I wake up.
|# ¿ Feb 14, 2018 17:49|
Week No. 288 Crits
I listened to every song before reading the story, but during the story I was mostly listening to Dads on Display.
The Sun’s Last Light
Thoughts on the song: silly and mellow, not bad. Very anime.
The Crystal Skull (Inspired by Mastodon’s Crystal Skull from Blood Mountain (2006))
Thoughts on the song: this may be the most bog standard metal song I’ve ever heard in my entire life.
By Jay W. Friks
Thoughts on the song: low-energy music with bleary vocals.
Spit in the Ocean
By Ironic Twist
Thoughts on the song: I swear I know a song that sounds exactly like this one but I can’t remember it off the top of my head.
Story of a Muse
Thoughts on the song: THIS IS THE STORY OF A GIRL~
By Surreptitious Muffin
Thoughts on the song: singer needs a throat lozenge.
I am Melinda
Thoughts on the song: my misspent youth playing Crazy Taxi has given me an irrational fondness for the Offspring. This certainly sounds like one of their songs - which it is.
A Te Deum
By Benny Profane
Thoughts on the song: Tom Lehrer always makes me smile.
Thoughts on the song: never heard this one before, but I like it. It’s got a nice pacing to it, a good flow.
By Specters of Autism
Thoughts on the song: punk straight out of my neighbor’s garage.
Promise of the Sky
Thoughts on the song: another song that sounds exactly like another song by another band I can’t remember.
The Edge of the Machine
Thoughts on the song: gloomy, ominous, mechanical.
Thoughts on the song: I can barely understand the singer.
Boarded up on Memory Lane
Thoughts on the song: a good Hotline Miami level.
That's all folks.
|# ¿ Feb 15, 2018 02:51|
|# ¿ Feb 19, 2018 08:40|
What are we?
|# ¿ Feb 19, 2018 08:40|
Write what you know.
|# ¿ Feb 19, 2018 08:48|
|# ¿ Feb 19, 2018 08:50|
What do you know?
|# ¿ Feb 19, 2018 08:50|
|# ¿ Feb 19, 2018 08:54|
In with Tartan Noir.
Small fry crooks bite off more than they can chew and suffer the consequences. Black comedy optional, but recommended.
In, but the Fiasco lingo might as well be gibberish to me. Spell it out like I'm a child please
|# ¿ Feb 20, 2018 10:29|
Moonshine (1475 words)
Relationship: One-night standees
Sean Irving’s faculties were waterlogged with whiskey. He blinked - twice, thrice - as Erika entreated him to rise to his feet. She had a vested interest in his mobility, as the two were shackled at the wrist and naked.
“Right then, up up, ya floose.”
“The Hell,” Sean yawned, “The Hell is this?”
“Bit of a fix, I’d say.” Erika looked to the stars. “A ways past midnight, I’ll wager. Oughta get back.” She tried for a confident tone, her breathing cold and nervous.
Sean leapt to his feet, wide-eyed, lost his footing, and toppled down the hill with Erika in tow. It was a calm, cloudless night, and the highlands were aglow in a somber blue light.
Sean came to a stop, and Erika ploughed into his side. He shook his head and combed the forward curl of his beard with his fingers. The fall had served to sober him up.
“The Hell were we up to, lass?”
“Memory’s…” Erika spit out some grass. She looked like she’d been run through the dryer. “Memory’s a fog.”
There’d been drinking. She remembered that. Drinking and boasting and daring and singing, the inky black void of dwindling inhibitions. She’d taken up hiking; doctor’s orders. “Could do to get away from it all,” he’d said. She’d met Sean at the hostel halfway up the trail. “Sharks can smell sharks, or so they say.” So they talked and laughed and made untoward proposals. Then they popped the bottle, and the world grew small.
She’d been the first to wake up on the hillside, to take stock of the situation. It’d taken ten minutes to rouse Sean from his stupor.
“Crivens.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “We’re practically down the far side of the mountain.”
“First time you been out and about in the skud?”
“Well,” she said, “The handcuffs are new.”
“Best fetch our things then. Get dressed, get back. Should be around here, somewhere.”
“Had a look already fore I shook ya awake. I think,” she swallowed, “I think we might’ve gone and done a bit of a moonlit run. What’s ours is probably back at the base.”
Sean’s eyes snapped hard into focus. “We’ve gotta go.” He staggered to his feet, remembered his companion, and helped her up. Her short, disheveled hair was strangely bewitching in the moment, but his attention didn’t linger for more than that. He went into a soft sprint. Erika, compelled to follow, held her own.
“I mean, I agree,” she said, her breathing sharp, short, and controlled, “But I’d say stealth were our proper course of action. Can’t say I’d fancy-
“Just run,” said Sean, his breathing already ragged, his mind transfixed on the common room fireplace where his backpack wa tucked to the right of the hearth.
Bones Dougan spilled the contents of Sean’s backpack across the floor. His wallet, his keys, his cellphone, a map, a change of clothes, a bag of trailmix, a water bottle and several others (green, glistening, and empty) littered the floor. Bones reached inside and fished around. The object of his search had been buried at the bottom.
“Ay, there’s the prize.” He smiled. His teeth were sharp and shone of silver.
He pulled out an envelope, crinkled and creased, but its healthy size suggested its contents. He checked, just to be sure. “God save the queen.” He chuckled.
The common room was sparsely furnished with a few chairs and futons, and a coat rack besides. The stores were empty. The old lady who kept the place refilled them once a week on Sundays after church. In the corner, in a pile, lay an assortment of clothes, another person’s bag, and an old walking stick. Bones dismissed it with a glance.
He’d been looking for Sean. He was supposed to be here. “Well, no matter.” Bones reached into the folds of his coat and produced a dim bottle with the labels removed.
Sean’s old water bottle had seen some wear and tear, so Bones had seen fit to gift him a new one for his birthday. Sean loved it. It was bigger, hardier, easier to grasp, and - most importantly - an opaque blue. Bones unscrewed the top and poured some water into the dormant fireplace. He unstopped the grim decanter he’d brought with him, and mixed the contents with what remained. He hummed while he did so.
“Go fetch to me a pint o’ wine, and fill it in a silver tassie.” He gave his concoction a gentle swish. “That I may drink before I go, a service to my bonnie lassie.”
He was about to tuck the water bottle back into place, along with everything else, only to be interrupted by the soft buzz of a new text message. He took out his phone without thinking, but it wasn’t for him. The sound came from the pile of clothes.
Bones made his way over to the corner. The cell phone in question was brand new, protected by a yellow case, with a cute seagull sharm hanging from the strap. It was locked, but the message notification told him enough:
Officer Wallace come in we know you’re off duty but
Bones gripped the glowing screen, his expression dark. He heard a sound and looked to the window. He saw the glare of headlights in the distance.
Erika Wallace prided herself on her exercise regiment. She’d broken two academy records with her athletic performance, and could easily keep pace with the increasingly exhausted Sean. He’s a good lookin’ fella, she thought to herself, but his form’s all wrong. She thought about her own routine, her personal best. She had to if she wanted to retain her stiff upper lip. She couldn’t let herself linger on the inglorious circumstances she’d found herself in, streaking through the dark with a man she barely knew.
Sean was running on pure adrenalin.
“Keep at it, friend,” she said. “Don’t need ya toppling over fore we hit the finish.”
“Don’t need to tell me twice.” Sean spoke in gasps. “Don’t need to get slapped for disturbing the peace.”
“Right, right,” she said, me neither.
As the hostel swam into view, so two did a pair of headlights. “Eep!” Erika jolted to the right and fell flat, yanking Sean backwards, down to her level.
“Ssh, quiet ya dunder,” she hissed. She clapped her hands over his mouth. “Or I’ll arrest ya myself.”
Ned Kirklund switched off his phone and frowned. It wasn’t like Erika to ignore a request, even if she were on vacation. She was supposed to be round here, weren’t she? Still, it wasn’t anything serious. He leaned over into his patrol vehicle and picked up the radio. “Chief, it’s Kirklund. No, no, everything’s fine. Got a report on some young folks in the area, but I ain’t seen nothing scandalous yet. There’s this old gaff out by the mountainside though. Whole place is dark, but I thought I saw a light. Gonna investigate then head back, over.”
Ned approached the front stair with his usual, casual gait. He took off his cap, scratched his head, and walked through the door with his hat in his hand, a flashlight in the other.
Bones leapt from the shadows, a glint of steel in his hand. Ned flowed like water and caught him in an armlock. “Easy there boyo,” he said. He twisted the wrist that held the knife to loosen the man’s grip. “Don’t go thinking I’m some easy mark.”
He released Bones, who stumbled to the floor, felt around and grasped something small, cold, and sharp. He swung ago, only to meet Ned’s forehead in a righteous headbutt. Bones’ eyes rolled backward. He slumped to the ground. He foot knocked over an open water bottle which drained into the floor. The tiny thing he found disappeared between the floorboards.
“Right.” Ned adjusted his belt. “That’s assault. Come along numpty, down to the station.” He handcuffed the man and carried him out. The hostel fell still and silent.
Minutes later, Erika crept in through the rear window, and Sean after. Erika let out a shudder of relief and made her way over toward her things in the corner, only for Sean to absent-mindedly yank her away. She turned and saw him reaching for his own bag.
“Hang on ya steamin’ div.” She pulled back. “You want free of this, yeah?”
“Ain’t no fash, but hey, let’s keep this ‘tween the two of us, ya hear?”
“I hear,” said Sean.
Erika was rummaging through her things. She’d kept her cool on the way down, but now her facade was beginning to break. “Where...where is it?” she asked aloud. “Where’s the key?”
|# ¿ Feb 26, 2018 12:00|
|# ¿ Feb 26, 2018 12:29|
In for the week.
|# ¿ Mar 3, 2018 06:07|
The Vantage Point (749 words)
The old man kept a couch out back in the shade of the tree overlooking the town. You could see for miles in every direction. It was like looking down from the Kingdom of God.
Felix emerged from the house to find his father sitting there alone. Felix was a long, thin man, almost spider-like, but his eyes betrayed a closeted warmth. He wore a priest's cassock and carried a bottle.
His father never turned around. "What'd you bring?"
Felix walked toward the couch, toward the edge of the hill. The bottle he carried was a dim dark green. He gave it a shake without reading the label. Still his father faced away. He had to come round to take his seat.
The couch was old and worn and intimately familiar. His father was old and worn and quiet. He was shorter, stouter, and stronger, though not for much longer. The tips of his fingers were stained charcoal black. Felix sat down. He placed the bottle on a cinder block. There were always a few cinder blocks. His father had three stacked on top of each other to prop his feet up. Another cinder block held a pair of scotch glasses. There were always a few glasses.
Felix sat with his hands together. He watched the birds on the power lines below.
"You still peddling that stuff?" his father asked.
"To those who need it."
"I don't need it."
"That's not," Felix said, but didn't bother to finish. He picked up the bottle and popped the cap. He measured out two glasses and held one out. His father took it. "Mom told me," he said at last.
"So you know."
His father took a drink. "Then there's nothing else to say."
"I think there's a lot more to say."
"You think too much. Talk too much. Always did."
"Not for much longer. Not with you."
His father took a drink. "Everything's in order."
"drat near. I don't truck with no deathbed conversions."
"I know," said Felix, "I know, I know."
His father took a drink. Felix took a sip. A flock of birds took off for the sky. Felix watched the power lines sway.
"Emile's having a baby," he said.
His father said nothing.
"It's a girl. A daughter. Your new granddaughter."
His father took a drink.
"I just want to know what we should tell her." Felix held his glass in both hands. "About you."
"What's wrong with the truth?"
"Mark's parents are already gone."
"What's wrong with the truth?"
"I don't know the truth."
His father took a drink. "I thought that was your job."
"I know a lot of things, but not about you."
"I did what I could," his father said, "what I had to." He set down his glass. "You and your sister should know that better than anyone. I don't know what else she'd need to know."
Felix looked at his father, his sphinx-like face. Ever since he was young he'd never known his father to look any other way. All that had changed was his own his elevation. His father looked out on the town below, its tiny buildings and tiny people, those labyrinthine streets filled with cars and laundry lines, and in the distance the factory billowing smoke.
"I've come a long way to see you for this dad. You don't answer the phone. You don't respond to letters." Felix gazed down into his glass. He took a drink. A real drink. "You've been a shadow all my life dad. Ever-present but...undefined. I don't know anything about you dad. I'm grateful but you're just this hazy shape. I want to know you, at least a little bit." He set his glass down on the cinder block.
"You want to remember me?"
"We both do."
His father held his glass for a long time.
"I lived my life for you. If that's not enough, I don't know what is."
"I see." Felix waited a moment, then stood. "I'll be going then."
"You do that."
"Take care dad."
"I love you."
Felix turned and walked toward the house. His father remained. The old man heard his wife and his son, the car door, the ignition, then distance, then nothing.
|# ¿ Mar 5, 2018 06:31|
James Joyce fanfiction.
"you loving rear end in a top hat," said the woman. "you loving rear end in a top hat. you making GBS threads, farting rear end in a top hat." she pulled off her shoes. "you
|# ¿ Mar 11, 2018 10:17|
Talk about a hole in one.
|# ¿ Mar 25, 2018 08:00|
In with a little story that must be told.
Gimme a taste of the remedy.
|# ¿ Apr 10, 2018 12:54|
Please assign me a product/department.
|# ¿ May 2, 2018 15:36|
Pomp and Circumstance (990 words)
New, from Voidmart, it's...
"Are you familiar with the Kievan Rus?"
The hair product aisle went on for centuries, tins of pomade stacked up to the ceiling. Not one in twenty sheikhs could clock its expanse without being prompted to remove their glasses.
Bruce stood alone, his pompadour reflected in ten thousand bottles. "Well now," he said, "Can't say I have." He tossed a tiny tin up in the air and caught it: Pompeii’s Pomp Gel, the last in stock. A legendary second-rate hair jelly, produced in Greece, blessed by Pope Henry Winkler himself.
Dougan snorted. He was a tall man with deep-set eyes, adorned in a tracksuit the color of crimson. He had managed to cultivate a pompadour of his own, though it paled in comparison to the employee’s before him.
"The Kievan Rus. They were very particular about their facial hair. If a man severed another man's finger in an argument, a pound of silver was required in exchange. But if he were to injure the other man's beard? Eight pounds of silver for such an offense."
“Beards are aisle three, my man, don’t you worry.” Bruce snapped his fingers. “And we accept credit.”
“Silence!” Dougan narrowed his gaze. “Do you understand the significance of what I’m trying to tell you?”
“Beards are back?”
“Do I look like I have a beard?”
“Looks like you want a beard.”
Dougan dragged a hand down his face. “The loss of a finger was seen as mere injury, but a blow to a man’s beard was a blow to his pride. A serious offense. More grievous than the loss of all his fingers. A man’s pride is more important than anything. We must be willing to pay for it. And I am.” He pulled out a handgun. “I am.”
Bruce stared blankly at the gun, a broomhandle Mauser with a 9 on the grip. Dougan stared intently at his prey, then glanced down.
“...Oh, err, excuse me.”
He pocketed the Mauser and pulled out his wallet. “I am,” he repeated. “Willing to pay, I mean. For the gel.” He pointed at the tin, from the wallet to the tin.
Bruce smiled softly, but shook his head. “Apologies my man, but this one’s reserved. There’s a waiting list for this stuff, you know? There’s a reason we keep it in the back. Stuff’s practically Tyrian Purple. But I’ll tell you what.” He produced a small notepad from within his vest and a blue golf pencil from behind his ear. “I’ll take down your info and let you know when we’re in stock.”
Dougan had already taken out the gun again. “That gel is mine,” he said.
He was about to pull the trigger when Bruce hit him in the face with a bottle of No Tears, No Fears Shampoo. He fired wildly, popping the cap off some high pressure hair spray. Bruce pulled a lighter from his pocket and threw it in the direction of the leak, and a department was divided by a wall of flame.
Dougan leapt back, his hair ablaze. Bruce took off. He raced toward the elevator.
At the cold, capitalist heart of Voidmart sat the central plaza, around which all things and all people revolved - including, a bit of an architectural inconvenience, the closest elevators. Bruce had long since learned to navigate the labyrinthine layout of this corporate superstructure, but the elevators always felt just a little bit further away than he was usually willing to go. Skidding at the corner of the shoe aisle, Bruce scanned the horizon for an available chute, only to be greeted by the despair of a line of eager customers.
A cry, a tire screech. Bruce whipped around. Dougan, hair singed, rounded the corner in a stolen golf cart. In his free hand was the pistol. He saw Bruce and grimaced. He slammed his foot down on the peddle. Behind him trailed a woman from the sporting goods section, a new hire desperately trying to explain this particular cart’s finer features.
Bruce clenched his fist.
He cracked open the tin of Pompeii’s best. The surface of the jelly glowed and shimmered like a jeweled sea. Taking only the smallest sampling possible, he sculpted the mixture into his own hair. His pompadour had already been magnificent, but this newfound thick and lustrous sheen was in a class of its own. Many a customer, previously impatient, waiting for the elevators, turned to stare in awe at what was transpiring. Then they saw Dougan, the golf cart, and ran screaming, the floor awash with abandoned tote bags.
Bruce stood firm, face calm, eyes shut. He flexed his fingers. Dougan barreled down at him, gun drawn. Bruce waited until the last possible moment. Then he dropped to the ground and rolled to the side.
Dougan had selected this golf cart on its many merits. “Wheels strong enough to crush a Chinese protester,” the saleswoman said. But Bruce’s freshly greased do’ was no mere political malcontent. The tire kissed his locks, then slipped to the side. The whole cart flipped, and Dougan went careening over the lip of the balcony, down into the plaza where clowns made children cry with improbably-shaped balloons.
The shark-filled central fountain was never the same.
“Thanks for waiting,” said Bruce. He tossed the tin to its rightful consumer, its pre-order placer, his aged grandfather. The old man’s hair had long gone white, but his pompadour remained, no less impressive. Nor his eyesight. He noticed immediately the lid had been opened.
“You tryin’ to cheat me, boy? I don’t dish out for the good stuff to get it used you know.”
“My bad, my bad,” said Bruce, laughing. “This one’s on me. Just wanted a touch of that old black magic, you know?”
His grandfather sat in silence a moment. “Well, I suppose I did the same thing at your age.” He clamped the tin shut. “Alright kid, let’s go.”
|# ¿ May 7, 2018 14:44|
|# ¿ May 12, 2018 01:16|
Skin Diving (1,700 words)
The first thing people noticed about Baek was how tall she was. She'd been taller than all the girls in her graduating class, and even most of the boys. They used to pull her hair to bring her down to their level. After she cut it, they told her she looked like a boy, and Baek became Baek-hyeon. Older Brother.
"I see, I see," some would say, "But that must have been difficult."
"No," she'd reply. “It wasn’t.”
Her only ally had been another girl named Ae-jong. Ae-jong was short and round and powerful. She wanted to become a police officer. She'd tell Baek about sneaking out of bed to watch the serials late at night. "And then he'd say something cool like, 'This is justice.'" She'd point her finger like a gun, eyes narrowed. It always made Baek smile. "Being a cop is the coolest thing in the world."
"It sounds cool."
"You should try it. Say it, 'This is justice.'"
"'This is justice.'"
"Lower your voice!"
"’This is justice.’" She narrowed her eyes.
"Ahh, so cool Baek-hyeon. You should become a detective!"
It was alright when Ae-jong called her Baek-hyeon. Everything Ae-jong said, she said with love.
It was nevertheless a surprise when Ae-jong texted her out of the blue, eight years on. They'd gone their separate ways, gone to different colleges. Baek managed a bookshop. Ae-jong worked for the post office. They were always busy.
Baek-hyeon! Baek-hyeon! I need your help. ㅇㅅㅇ;; I know it's been awhile but I'm invited to a mixer. I only know one other person. ㅋ_ㅋ Please, please come so I don't have to be alone! ~3~
Hooray! ^보^ I'll let everyone know Baek-hyeon will be there!
The restaurant where the mixer was being held was on the other end of town, an hour by subway. Baek was greeted by the rain upon leaving the underground. She held her pea coat close, her umbrella drawn in defense mode. Salvation stood four blocks south, two blocks east. Ae-jong waited faithfully outside.
"Baek-hyeon! Baek-hyeon! I'm so glad you made it."
"I'm sorry I'm late."
"It's fine, it's fine. Oh, but Baek-hyeon, look at you! You look so cool in that coat. So handsome! I still think you should become a detective."
The two embraced beneath the awning.
It was a seafood restaurant famous - "World famous," the manager claimed - for its cuttlefish curry. Baek had first heard of it that afternoon. Ae-jong brought her inside and introduced her to group. "This is Baek-hyeon," she announced with triumph. "It's been a little while but we're still good friends."
Baek was welcomed to the group warmly enough. She folded her coat and held it close. She sat down with Ae-jong, who began to whisper.
"Okay, so, first we-
"I know what a mixer is, Ae-jong."
"Ah, that's so like you. Well then." She pushed her seat back and made a complicated gesture. "If I do this, it means 'Come rescue me,' okay?"
Baek nodded. Ae-jong left, and was replaced by a man. He wore a simple suit, a bit frayed at the sleeves, and a thin mustache like an old movie star.
“So,” he said, “You must be the legendary Baek-hyeon.”
She hesitated a moment. “Just Baek,” she said.
“A nickname then?” He gave her a somber smile. “That would explain it. Do you mind if I take a seat?”
“Do you have a name?”
“Oh, of course, where are my manners. My name is Yong-joon. No nicknames I’m afraid, or well, none that stuck.”
“Take a seat, Yong-joon.” She gestured across the table.
Yong-joon sat down, made himself comfortable. He smoothed out the wrinkles in his suit. Baek sat perfectly still throughout the procedure. She spoke only after she sensed he was finished.
“What does it explain?”
“Baek-hyeon. My nickname.”
“Ah.” Yong-joon steepled his hands. “A friend of mine invited me. Said a friend of his, a co-worker, was inviting an old friend of hers: Baek-hyeon. ‘Interested in meeting guys,’ she asked when pressed, though she left out the other particulars.”
“I… oh.” Her eyes betrayed her dawning comprehension. She let out a muted laugh, a murmur. “That does sound like her.”
Yong-joon laughed as well.
“In any case,” she said, “I apologise for the mistake.”
“It’s fine, really. It’s fine, it’s fine.” He looked down at his shoes, then back at her. “Though since I’m here, since we’re talking, how did you get that nickname?”
“I think you can guess,” she said. Yong-joon looked her over.
“Well, I suppose you are a bit,” he searched for a word, “Handsome. If I can say that.”
“You can say that.”
“Then I do. And you are, if I can say that as a compliment.”
“Then I will.” He smiled.
Baek nodded. “I had my growth spurt early in school. I towered over the other girls and boys. Even after they caught up I was still taller than most of them. They used to pull my hair so I had it cut. I had a boyish face so they called me Baek-hyeon.”
Yong-joon’s expression sobered over the course of her explanation. “How terrible. I’m sorry for using it so lightly.”
“It’s fine.” Baek poured a glass of water for herself and her partner. “Ae-jong uses it with love. You are the same kind of person as Ae-jong. You don’t say anything maliciously.”
“But it must have been difficult.”
“No.” She extended a glass to him. “It wasn’t.”
“Hmph.” He accepted the glass. “Not sure I believe that.”
“I’m not asking you to.”
“No,” he said. He held the glass by the lip and swirled its contents. “But I’m...familiar with that sort of thing. It’s never easy. You clearly withstood it, but even so.”
Baek leaned back and studied the ceiling. Someone had gone to great lengths to illustrate the various sea creatures served in this shop. In their natural environment, of course. Before they’d been plucked from the sea and cooked and grilled and served on a platter. Her eyes settled on a cluster of crabs on the far side.
“Every year my family always goes north to visit my grandfather. He lives by himself in a house by the sea. He takes people skin diving off the coast. He takes us for free.”
Baek pointed at the crabs on the ceiling. Yong-joon glanced over his shoulder. The waiter had just arrived to take everyone’s orders, starting with those farthest away.
“Skin diving,” he said, “And that is?” He took a drink.
He stopped and stared, mid-sip, then coughed.
“Joking,” she added. She slipped in a half-second smile. Yong-joon beat his fist against his chest and grabbed a napkin. “You go snorkeling in just your suit,” she said. “You dive underwater when you see something interesting. We used to dive down and collect crabs. Grandfather would take them and make us gejang for dinner.”
“Sounds like,” Yong-joon wiped his mouth, “Sounds like a good time.”
“It is,” Baek said. The waiter approached and the two took a minute to order. After he was gone, she continued. “When you go skin diving you have to hold your breath. It feels like drowning when you’re just starting out. You get better over time. You get used to it.”
“I see, I see.”
“I learned how to hold my breath. I learned how to pace myself. The important thing is not to panic. If you remain calm it becomes quite easy. All your fears and worries betray you. You have to hold them in until you break the surface. You’ll drown if you don’t.”
Yong-joon scratched his neck. Baek glanced in Ae-jong’s direction. She seemed to be having fun talking with her partner.
“So.” Yong-joon refilled his glass. “Your diving expeditions gave you an edge, then?”
“I’ve been diving longer than I’ve been called Baek-hyeon. Longer than I’ve been tall. You learn,” she thought for a moment, “You learn to recognize the signs of drowning once it’s already happened to you once before.”
“So it wasn’t especially difficult, then.”
“No,” she said, “No more than skin diving.”
The two chatted a bit more before the food came. Yong-joon asked if she wanted him to switch out, to meet with someone else since he wasn’t really interested. She said he could stay or go as he wished. “I don’t really know anyone here other than Ae-jong. I only showed up to lend her my support.”
“And I only showed up to meet you, or who I thought you were.” Yong-joon shook his head and smiled. “Well, we got a good conversation out of it, at least.” He reached over and handed her a pair of chopsticks.
“Warm food and company is always welcome on a rainy day.”
Baek said a silent prayer, then snapped her chopsticks. Yong-joon followed suit.
“Hmm?” Yong-joon froze, a single shrimp tempura inches from his mouth.
“Have you had a difficult time of it?”
Yong-joon lowered his gaze, then popped the shrimp into his mouth.
“No,” he said at last. “No more so than skin diving, though I lacked a family willing to teach me.”
Once the meal was complete, the two parted ways. “I’ll see you around,” Yong-joon said. He gave her a little salute.
“I told you where I work. I expect to see you in there.”
“Ha ha, well, if I can make the time to go downtown, I’ll see what I can do.”
He turned his back to her.
“You’re a good person Yong-joon.”
Yong-joon smiled and departed. Baek had a few minutes to herself before Ae-jong returned.
“Ah, Baek-hyeon, what a waste, what a waste. They all seemed nice but nobody wanted to make plans. Sorry to drag you out all the way out here for nothing.”
“I had a lot of fun,” Baek said.
“Oh? But that guy you were talking to looked awfully suspicious. A real shifty character, for sure. Did you get anything out of him?”
“No.” Baek smiled. “I got something out of me.”
|# ¿ May 14, 2018 11:58|
Good crits ITT.
|# ¿ May 18, 2018 14:32|
|# ¿ May 18, 2018 14:32|
Head of State (538 words)
Henrietta still remembered the first time she had attended the mayor’s execution. She’d been a child then, the daughter of a printer. Her father had instructed her to take many pictures.
The execution always took place on the 17th of March, the anniversary of the death of the tyrant Scaramanga. It was a festive occasion. There were stands with toys and food and games. The most popular stand was the old dollmaker’s. She sold felt dolls with black button eyes. Each shared the likeness of the celebrated mayor.
“Take one, Henrietta,” she’d been offered, “Please, take it. You look so lonely with that camera in your hands.”
The dolls were of exceptional quality, as was tradition when the mayor was just. Henrietta had been too young then to fully appreciate the politics of the village, but she understood innately: the mayor must have been fine indeed to merit a doll of such careful distinction. There could be no doubt in anyone’s hearts the old dollmaker had sewn them with pride.
Henrietta shook her head. “Father needs me,” she said. She raised the camera and took a picture.
“Such a dutiful child.” The old woman smiled. “Perhaps one day you’ll be mayor yourself.” She set the doll aside. Any dolls left unsold would be donated to the village policeman who managed the shooting gallery. He was always in need of a few extra targets.
The village was a sprawling collection of disparate districts joined by winding, intestinal streets. At the center stood the church and the mayor’s residence, the former palace of the tyrant Scaramanga. Henrietta’s father had told her all about it.
“Colonel Scaramanga was stationed here after the war. The village was to be his reward for loyal service.” Her father leaned back against the printing press, his sleeves rolled up, his collar uneven. He raised a bottle to his lips. He’d been running the village newspaper since before he had a daughter. Before Scaramanga, before the war. “Of course he layered abuses upon us. Military men are all the same.”
Henrietta’s father had taken great care in reporting the tyrant Scaramanga’s every cruelty and indulgence. When the revolution came, it had been her father who printed off the marching orders, who had personally chaired the committee of what was to be done. “As we learned in the war, a good leader is one prepared to die for his people. Henceforth we shall put this truth into practice!” His words were greeted with cheers and applause.
The term of mayorship over the village had since been established: two years time. After their service, they were to be killed. The village had faithfully followed this prescription ever since the revolution. When the mayor had been good and fair and righteous, they were bid farewell with a solemn appraisal. When the mayor had been hard and cruel and capricious, they were lead with jeers to the chapel steps. Henrietta’s father remembered them all, and so too would Henrietta.
The band announced the hour was nigh. The crowds gathered round as the mayor was lead in chains before the firing squad. The women cheered. The men saluted. Henrietta took a picture.
The splatter was beautiful.
|# ¿ May 21, 2018 07:02|
|# ¿ Jul 1, 2022 05:32|
In, gimmie da birdmen.
|# ¿ Jun 14, 2018 01:23|