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Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In. Tartan Noir, please.

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Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


The Second City o' a Deid Empire
1495 words

In a dark, dank lane near Central Station in the centre of Glasgow, a shady woman stood alone. It was winter and a smattering of snow covered the cobbled street. She waited and waited, all the time shivering. Out of the shadows emerged another woman dressed in sporting apparel. She looked like she hadn’t slept for days.

“It’s loving baltic,” she said, “Why do we have to meet here? We look suspicious as gently caress.”

“Nae one’s gonna be comin’ aboot here.”

“Not unless there up to nae gud themselves.”

“Talking about nae gud, you’ve got snow on yer coupon, ya wee jakey stinkyhole.”

The woman dressed athletically rubbed her face without any real conviction, “Aye, very good. Whit ya wantin’ anyway? A’m busy as gently caress the now.”

“A'need to get ma maw’s laptop.”

“Whit? Are you blootered or sumthin? Whit fir?”

“Clatty Pat heard ma maw sayin’ that there’s sensitive information on it and that she’d be awfie annoyed if she lost it.”

“You still on that revenge shite, Elaine?” she said, now paying much more attention to her friend.

“Aye, that silly boot deserves it, Isa,” Elain answered with an acerbic tone.

“A’still dinnae know whit she did tae ya. For all a’know, she just sent you tae school in jakey clathes when you were a bairn.”

“Aye, well you dinnae need to know.”

“An’ a’dinnae care. Whit’s the information aboot? Is it aboot her business and all ‘at?”

“I dinnae know, but I hink there’s sumfin mehr embarrassing like. We’ll need tae get it first and then see,” Elaine said.

“Whit have a’got tae do wit it?”

“A’need you to ask Jimmy to help us. He wilnae speak tae me.”

“Nah, a’m nae askin’ him.”

“How no? He’s still awfie pally with ma maw and he likes you. A’hink ma maw would chib me with whatever she had in her haun if a’went near her hame.”

“A’could go.”

“She’d chib you faster ‘an me!”

“Ach, we’ll am nae askin’ Jimmy.”

“Come on tae gently caress, ya silly stinkyhole!”

“Simmer down. If you promise tae help me wit a problem a’have, I’ll ask him fir ya.”

“Whit problem?” Elaine asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Never you mind, a’ll tell you once we’ve got this laptop.”

****

Isa and Jimmy sat alone at a table in a crowded pub filled with men with grey hair and greyer beards. The old grandfather clock choked out some chimes. About 11 or 12. Once in a while a break in the dark clouds allowed a hint of sunlight into the pub that blinded everyone.

“loving hate it when it’s so sunny,” Isa said.

“You are a dreary bastard sometimes.”

“Aye well, sometimes life doesn’t let you be any other way.”

For sometime they sat hunched over their Guinnesses in silence. Isa wore the same cloths she had the day before, her hair disheveled, and her face ruddy and blotchy. Isa didn’t notice Jimmy open and close his mouth multiple times without uttering a word. She stared into her pint, wondering how to ask Jimmy about the laptop.

“You know whit Sleuterin’ Stuart telt me?” Jimmy asked.

Isa looked up from her drink and shook her head.

“That Clatty Pat heard Elaine’s maw talkin’ about her laptop and that it has important poo poo on it. Sensitive like.”

Isa scrunched her face, “Whit poo poo? A wee tape of the two of you creakin’ the bed like a pair of rabbits on the gear?”

“Oi! None of that here. Y’dinnae know who might hear.”

“A’m right though, eh?”

“Aye, maybe. I cannae let your sister know aboot it a’fore the divorce. But there’s mehr. There’s all her business information on it. Where her stash is, the money a’fore it gets sorted.”

“Naw? All o’it?”

“Aye, everything. If we can get her stash, you can sell it to your jakey customers, and we’d end up with enough to get oot o’here. And a’can leave your sister for gud.”

“A’was talkin’ to your previous wifey last night too.”

“I dinnae understand why you still deal with that slaverin’ stinkyhole.”

“Hard tae shake aff old pals.”

“Whit did she want?”

“The laptop,” Isa replied, “Wants yer help tae.”

“gently caress a’m helpin’ her.”

“She knows where the laptop is in her maw’s house,” Isa said, “Useful information, eh?”

“Ach, gently caress!”


***********


Outside of a semi-detached house in the middle of the night, rain relentlessly fell from the cloud-ridden sky, turning the snow into dirty slush. Isa and Elaine waited under trees in a nearby park, watching Elaine’s maw through the living room window. No light came from any of the other houses in the street except a couple windows.

From the opposite direction, they saw Jimmy, dressed to impress, enter the glow of a lamppost. He stopped, out of sight of Elaine’s maw, and looked around. His shoulders slumped and walked up to the door. The door flew open. Elaine’s maw grabbed a hold of Jimmy and squeezed the life out of him with an unbridled smile.

Elaine said, “A’ll give it a couple o’minutes a’fore a’go in. Make sure they’re awfie comfy first. A’ll grab the laptop and then we can leave that sleazy man tae his fate with that old heffer.”

“Aww, come on tae gently caress, you ungrateful twat. A’ll at least tell him when we’ve got that laptop.”

“Do whit y’like.”

The two woman saw Elaine’s maw and Jimmy sit down with wine in their hands. Elaine then crept across the road, cast a cursory look about the street, and carefully opened the door.

Her mum’s laughter was so loud. It stopped her while she suppressed her rage. She muttered some profanities as she crawled up the stairs.

Halfway up, she stopped. Alarmed. Silence. Nothing from the living room. But then her gut roared.

“Do you hear that?” her maw asked from the lounge.

“Just the pipes, Kathleen.”

The flirtatious chit-chat continued, and so did Elaine’s grumbling gut. She had to get to a toilet. Without delay. She scuttled up the rest of the steps and down the hallway. She paused, considering whether she should just go straight to her maw’s bedroom and get the laptop, soiled breeks or not. Dignity won and she rushed into the toilet.

She realised she couldn’t flush. She grinned at the thought of her maw cleaning it. Then she tried to open the door, but it wouldn’t budge. She tried and tried. But she was stuck. She called Isa.

“Whit y’go tae the shitter fir, y’cloun? Ach, a’m comin’.”

Isa shoved her phone into her pocket. She crossed the street without any discretion, shaking her head and muttering. She saw Jimmy and Elaine’s maw sharing saliva. She left the door open and marched up the stairs. She saw the toilet door and knocked quietly, “You in there, Elaine?” Nothing. Confused and angry, Isa entered the bedroom. She saw the laptop on the bed. She grabbed it and ran out of the house, slamming the door.

“Whit the gently caress was that?” Elaine’s maw shouted.


**********************


Elaine sat on a bench in a workshop. Tools and machines lay everywhere in disorder. Isa entered, scowling.

“A’ve got this stupit laptop. But it’s got a password,” Isa said.

“Aw for gently caress sake!”

“A’know who can get us past it. Ma sister is all techie these days. An’ means she’ll see whitever Jimmy didnae want her tae see as well. Sae gud!”

“Whit y’mean ‘whitever Jimmy didnae want her tae see’?”

“That was whit was sensitive, mate. Some foul adulterous shite.”

“Between ma maw and my ex-husband? He’s a wee shitstain.”

“Aye, he is.”

As if his name summoned him, Jimmy entered the workshop.

“A’m a shitstain! You two cunts left me to suffer at the hauns o'that awful woman. And one of you left some monstrosity in the toilet!”

“Y’tell him where we were meeting?” Elaine snapped at Isa.

“No she didnae need to. You two clouns aways gae tae yer da’s workshop! Now ge’ez that laptop.”

Elaine stepped in front of the table where the laptop lay, “Naw!”

Jimmy grabbed a screwdriver, “Ge’ez the loving laptop!”

Elaine and Isa both picked up nearby screwdrivers. All three stood facing each other with screwdrivers of varying sizes.

There was a crashing sound. Followed by more. All the time getting closer to them.

“Who the gently caress is that?” Jimmy asked, pointing to a naked man covered in dried blood.

The bloody man dashed towards the laptop, grabbed it, and ran towards the exit.

“gently caress, Isa, is this yer problem? He’s got ma laptop!” Elaine shouted.

Isa threw her screwdriver at the naked man. It slid into the back of his head, and he crumpled to the floor. The laptop crashed with him.

“For the love of Christ, Isa!”

The bloody man gargled his last breaths through a stream of blood. One last heave and he was still.

Elaine threw her screwdriver at the dead man, “You filthy stinkyhole! The laptop is hosed!”

Lazy Beggar fucked around with this message at Feb 25, 2018 around 22:22

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Antivehicular posted:

Thunderdome Week 290: The Results
A scene where someone goes to take a poo poo for no apparent reason?!

Inspired by my playset: There’s a human turd on the mantelpiece. Hang on, what? I'm not proud.
Also, you can't technically lose something you've been disqualified from.


Thanks for the crit. And you're welcome.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In. And I'll take a song, thanks.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Flash rule: The Strangers - St. Vincent

Alone in the Dark
681 words

People said the stars helped make their problems seem smaller, insignificant. Did they realize they were being comforted by the past? Because the past sure as hell didn't comfort me.

Alone in my ship, I drifted through space blinded by the plethora of stars. There were only two days left on my patrol. Twenty-six monotonous days had passed with their own normality. I no longer felt anything when I saw light crawl and redden as it approached the black hole.

The area just before the black hole's horizon was a criminal hotbed where pirates would launch attacks on our star system. So fools like me had to police the boundary. A bounday the Empire set well before the horizon, the point where our star still won the gravitational struggle. Before the black hole had unexpectedly arrived to swallow up the past, our star system had had one of the lowest crime rates. Not now.

Every day I walked the same route through my ship. And I always ended up in the same hall. If I had been thinking while I walked, I'd have avoided it. At the end of the hall was the only mirror on the ship. Every day it reflected back to me a sight I never wanted to see. It felt like my brother stood there and asked me, "Where were you?" He's been missing twelve years now. And I don't remember his face. But I remember the last words he spoke to me, "You'll be there, right?" No. I wasn't.

I stare at the horizon and wonder where the black hole leads. Somewhere in the past? A new place entirely? Something unfathomable? A peaceful emptiness?

I checked today's reports. I read them with caution. When you've lived long enough, even the most innocuous things can send you plummeting into despair. The name of a place. The smell of a certain perfume. The way someone smiles. In one report there was a loaded gun waiting for me. It wasn't even my brother's name. It wasn't even close, but it was one that had always felt similar to me. Enough so that the full extent of my torment, which was always lurking in a dormant state, came upon me in a flash. Had I been looking for something that would upset me? I don't know, but it felt like my mind had collapsed. I stared at the horizon. Where did it lead?

I walked my path again. That hall. That mirror. As if I was stuck in its pull, that I had no choice what path I could take in the end. It would always lead there. I gazed into my past and removed the mirror from the wall. I took it to the airlock and threw it to the ground, shattering the damned thing. I launched the shards into space towards the horizon. Maybe one day they'd find their way to wherever the black hole led.

Where did it lead? It was no longer a simple thought. Now I had to know. I rushed back to the deck and altered the ships path. Straight to the horizon. It seemed to be darker already as the stars dimmed. Maybe the stars on the other side could comfort me? Where was he?

"Warning! Unauthorized flight path. You are now leaving Imperial protected territory. Turn back immediately!"

No chance in hell I was going back now. Pulled by something, I read the report again. The name carried no less weight. I wanted to forget everything, but I held on tighter whenever something began to slip from my memory. Darker and darker, the horizon grew closer.

A crashing sound stole my attention from the name and the cascade of thoughts it had created.

"Warning collision detected. Critical engine failure!"

The fuel meter swung to zero. What had I hit? Could the shards have caused the damage? Surely not. Whatever had caused it, the ship slowed. I was too close to the star system to be free from its pull. But the black hole had a greater pull past the Empire's boundary, so I crept closer to it. I checked the estimated path time. More or less twelve years. The symmetry endlessly folded the darkness in my heart.

I was sure I could perceive the horizon still growing closer. I could see it clearer now. But where did it lead? Where had he gone?

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


My word count is actually 732.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Workout
1,508 words

"We'll be in touch."

He didn't even look up when Stacy thanked him. She left knowing he wouldn't be in touch. She didn't know why she had even applied for this job. She wasn't remotely qualified. She didn’t know why they had bothered to bring her in.

She waited at the metro station on a busy platform. Her train arrived and a mass of people flooded out, including an overweight woman. Stacy tried to ignore her smell as she passed. She saw two suited men give each other a look. The men got on the same carriage as her.

"How does some let themselves get like that?"

"I don't know. You could smell her from the otherside of the station."

The two men laughed. Stacy looked at her legs. They stretched her skirt and she couldn't look away from the cellulite that spread across her thighs. She had to resist the urge to check if she didn't smell too. Her cheap clothes didn't allow for much airflow and interviews always made her perspire.

Her stop came and the two men moved to the doors. She remained in her seat. The next stop wasn't far and the walk could do her some good.

She walked down the street, averting her eyes when people passed her. As she waited for the lights to change, she looked up and saw a billboard advertisement. "Workout with Jane Fonda. Get fit in your own living room with Jane!" Now there was a body worth envying! But more than that, the smiling movie-star fitness expert seemed sincere. As if she really wanted to help her. She crossed the street, wondering what it would be like to have a body like Jane's.

A little while later, Stacy realized she had been walking for too long. She had walked a few blocks beyond her apartment. She checked her watch and saw that she didn't have much time until she had to pick up Rebecca from school.

"How'd it go?"

Stacy shook her head and smiled at her daughter. "We'll be in touch," she quoted, "Learn anything exciting today?"

On their way home, Rebecca energetically narrated her day in great detail. Stacy laughed and gasped at her daughter's story, interjecting with questions when they were needed. But her latest failed interview lingered in her mind.

That night as Stacy worked her shift at the diner, her uniform felt tighter than usual. She felt her skirt struggle against her thighs as wiped up the spilled coffee and food debris the last customer in the diner had left. It was almost 2am and she her shift was meant to have ended at midnight, but a rush had caused her to stay and help. Her boss hadn't so much asked her to stay as told her. She put on her coat and had her hand on the handle when her boss came out front.

"Before you go, can you answer me a question, Stacy?"

He was carrying some important documents and was too busy looking at them to look at Stacy.

"Do you like cold coffee? No, I didn't think so,” answering for her, “And neither do our customers."

She apologised without really knowing what he was referring to and left.

When she got home, the TV was blaring and Rebecca was asleep on the sofa. She turned the TV off and got a blanket for her. She went to bed exhausted and dreading tomorrow.

The weeks passed with Stacy working at the diner and going to a smattering of interviews and working more at the diner and never hearing back from anyone.

One evening when Rebecca was at a friend's house for dinner, Stacy sat in front of the TV eating a microwave meal. She never bothered to cook if Rebecca wasn't there. As some show she wasn't paying attention to ended, she saw herself in the black screen and looked away. She was going to have to buy a new uniform at this rate and here she was watching other people live fictious lives. The adverts started, offering false promises and empty hope. Then Jane Fonda appeared with that honest smile and quiet conviction. Become a better person she demanded. Somehow with kindness in the command. Have a better life she promised. Stacy knew they couldn't afford the videos, never mind the VCR machine to play then. But she had to see what Jane was offering. So she called the number and gave her card details. She would have them in a week they assured her. She felt lighter at work that night. Her shift felt less arduous as if only pleasant customers were out that night.

The tapes arrived and Stacy waited another week before she put the VHS in the machine. What if nothing changed? She didn't have any of the fancy, bright leotards like Jane, so she wore some ill-fitting t-shirt her husband had left behind and some old tights that were too shabby to wear at work.

"What are you doing?" Rebecca asked.

"Trying to improve myself."

She hit play, and the music offered change.

Jane appeared on the screen, folded over at her waist, touching her toes. She raised her head with grace, like a blossoming flower, and asked, "Are you ready to do the workout?"

Stacy had thought she was, but after ten minutes of strange shapes that hurt more than Jane let on and a lot rythmic counting, she lay on the floor and thought she might have a heart attack.

"Is that how you improve yourself, mom?"

Stacy lay on the floor with the tape still playing. "- 6, 7, 8. Don't forget to breath -" She wasn't going to forget. The only thing Stacy was aware of was the need for oxygen. She eventually got up and turned the tape off. She had failed just as she had feared, but she knew she'd last longer next time.

During the following weeks, Stacy worked out with Jane and her posse of slender friends. She knew Jane's lines now and could last the full duration of the workout.

One evening she sat alone in the kitchen eating a proper meal. The phone rang.

"We're sorry to inform you -"

Another rejection, but Stacy was sure they were being genuine when they had said they'd keep her details on record. The next one! She knew it. She got ready for work. At least she didn't have to worry about buying a new uniform now.

She had noticed that her boss had said very little to her recently and that evening it was no different. It wasn't that he had mellowed and found some consideration for others, he had just increased his vehemency against the other servers.

"You disgusting slob! Clean that mess up, you idiot!"

Katrina, a young server who was new at the diner, had knocked some food off the counter. The crashing plate had brought their boss storming out of the back.

Katrina was on her hands and knees cleaning up the mess, and he continued to hurl abuse at her. Katrina was sobbing now. Stacy was in the middle of taking an order, but walked away as the customer listed off his demands.

"Hey, I wasn't finished!"

She walked up to her boss who looked at her in surprise. Stacy slapped him and let him know that he was a piece of poo poo. His bewildered face made him look pathetic. She had almost left by the time his wits had returned, but he didn't manage to fire her before the door slamped shut. It was only 9pm. Rebecca would still be up.

"You're home early."

She hesitated in telling her what she had done. How were they going to eat or pay rent now? She told her daughter that she didn't have a job now. Rebecca turned the TV off and hugged her. Stacy told her everything and Rebecca listened. She laughed at the slapping and said, "I don't know anyone who deserved that more."

Everyday she scrolled through the classified ads, looking for anything now she'd lost the diner job. She found a secretary job she wasn't qualified, applied, and few days later was asked to come in for interview. It couldn't have gone better, and Stacy actually believed they would be in touch.

On her way home, sitting on the train, she saw two women snickering at another woman who was struggling to get off because of her size. It was still two stops away from Stacy's but she decided to get off anyway. She asked the people to move, so she and the other woman could get off.

On the platform, the woman thanked Stacy and speculated that they people would have never moved if she hadn't said anything.

"I don't have the confidence to say anything," the woman said.

"If it's confidence you need - "

When Stacy got home, she changed into her shabby workout gear and popped the VHS in the machine.

"Are you ready to do the workout?"

drat straight she was.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


I wrote some crits for the Week #290 entries. They come with an obvious caveat. Having read all of these, my shame is deepened because I'm much more aware of the judges' misery and my contribution towards it. I read them blind and tried to randomize the order to minimize the chance I'd know which had got a DM or HM.

Holes
Oh I thought she was a prostitute. The names Jake and Zak are too similar for me. Hmm. So incest RP?
All in all, I didn't hate this. Geneva's got some character and sort of wants something? To be a journalist? No just rich? Recognition? The other two characters aren't much of anything. Buddy seems to be something more, but I'm sure that's just because he's a corrupt mayor trope and I'm reminded of Buddy Cianci which fleshes him out. Some of the writing wasn't overly clear for me. But stuff happened and there was a character. I liked the opening, but was disappointed that she wasn't comparing prostitution with the clergy.

As the Storm Groaned Low
Confusing opening. But sort of makes sense because Bobbi is all confused? But why has the car/tornado carnage caused her husband to be chopped up and not her? Uhm "She sighed, stretched out her legs. I must be in shock." The last part should be dialogue right? Or is it meant to be a thought? "All I want is for you to apologize to us for killing Todd." A thought? I don't think that is how you report inner dialogue. "Gregory did his best to melt the back of Monte’s head with an irate glare." From whose perspective are we seeing things? White noise is meant to be calming. “I’m gonna stick around ‘til they put Monte away, then I’m moving the gently caress out of Kansas.” Who did she say this to? I think the opening needs to be clearer. I didn't enjoy reading this very much. Gregory was like some wailing, angry animal and then stock teenager? I didn't really get much about Monte's character.

Three hours in Riyadh
This had some momentum and a plot. Aslan was a character and I like that something you showed of his character actually mattered later on in the story. I smiled at the wandering Bulgar at the end. I'm not entirely sure Katarina was doing though? She just wanted to slaughter them all? Because Guenther got the antiques she left behind? I don't feel upset having spent time reading this.

The Second City o' a Deid Empire
Instantly the dialogue seems unnecessary. Oh my god there is so much dialogue. I'm sure it is very convincing. The accent. But there's so much of it. "Isa didn’t notice Jimmy open and close his mouth multiple times without uttering a word." If we're in Isa's perspective, how do we get to notice something she didn't? Is that allowed? Dialogue. "Her mum’s laughter was so loud. It stopped her while she suppressed her rage." - what does that mean? If the making GBS threads was going to upset their plan, it might not have been so galling if it hadn't just come out of nowhere. Maybe not the best idea to have a character called Elaine and another called Elaine's maw. "Isa, is this yer problem?" - why would she think that? Not fun to read.

A Dust Mote in Sunlight
I'm struggling with the first section. Shining dully is odd to me. Going back to this "the Rynn’s body", I thought Rynns were a species or something, but Rynn is the name of a character? Ok some conflict between Earthers and Lunars. Something unknown and mysterious to gather. And Petra is hiding something. Giggling makes Voight seem annoying and weird. Right, I found it hard to keep focused on this, but I think that's more on me. Why did Petra kill Rynn? What was Petra all about? I don't get it. Sure a fair bit happens and I have some idea about Petra's character and Voight's. Argia not so much and almost nothing for Rynn. This could be worked into something more clear and coherent. But without really drastically changing the piece, you could have easily got it down to the word limit.

How To Dispose Of A Body At The Bottom Of The World.
"do it hard way." "Porfiro rand after the two" "with body in a place where every " - I'm not looking for errors like these, so could be more. Is "melt water" a technical term? This wasn't terrible despite the mistakes and some questionable prose (e.g. "Porfiro kept trying to make small talk as Silas and Merrill ignored him, or tried too at least since you’re not able to mute the pilot on the headsets they had to wear.") But there was plenty of dark mishaps and it wasn't a chore to read. Some momentum in the plot. The characters weren't much, felt sort of like they were copy-pasted from something like Bill and Ted.

Scrag
"merely service to the Lord." - just your life, mate, that'll be enough. This feels like the start of a story. A lot of the dialogue is just exposition. I think Theo fancies the rugged fisherman, but this isn't really explored. And it seems nice of Brother Jo to organize a package-holiday for Theo, but I don't believe he would do it. But that's because there isn't much characterization, so I'm filling in the gaps with my preconceived ideas of monks. I'm not upset I read this, but it doesn't seem remotely finished. Maybe the point of it is too subtle for me. But one last thing, Theo ends up gaining autonomy right? But has none in the story really? And does nothing to earn it?

<I took a break here and came back with some pasteles de Belem at this point. And more coffee.>

Call-Con 40
Jonathan Black is one degree above John Smith. Is the full name necessary? Am I being petty? It took me out of the story. Ok. There's something at stake. Not a bad opening. Could maybe make the prose better by using stronger words rather than "sat down heavily" which is quite weak. This is a lot of dialogue. Could maybe justify the Colonel giving this prized thing away a bit better. I'm not convinced he would donate it. Ahh. Ok. He's getting paid. Not a very satisfying ending. If JB passed out after stabbing a man to death, I think he'd be a bit more shaken up than he seems to be. It was shame that turned to rage, right? But shame about what? Not being good enough to win the pen? But he had no chance of winning it from what I know from the story. So where'd the shame come from that was so strong? The Colonel didn't seem that bad. Yeah, laughing at someone because there dog has apparently been kidnapped isn't that outlandish. Anyway, I think the rage needs to be earned more and the dog not forgotten. Maybe you could have him go on some Taken revenge adventure to get his dog. Or actually that's more the K. Reeves one. Wick.

Tip Line
After the toe credit whine, I wouldn't have even considered hiring them. What's the boss wowed by that Annie said? If it was worthy of wow, wouldn't it be something worthwhile? Why wouldn't Annie have said this to their boss? Unless it is a lie! Well that was what it was. At least this was quite short. This story would have been a lot more interesting if there was Toys-R-Us drug peddling scheme. I don't know much about the characters other than they want a job. And that the protagonist is pretty dumb.

Monkeyland
So he went from being gulpably nervous to swaggeringly confident awfully fast without any justification for the change. I'm guessing he's pretending to be confident. Yes, the abrupt freeze suggests the confidence doesn't run deep. Is this a criminal act "con" or someone on an interview for a job at a monkey-focused zoo? Oh. I guess I should have waited to ask. But that dump wasn't much fun to read. Are the families a collective and they are one of the parties? Or are the families the only parties interested? And so the families all collectively waited so they could compete with one another? '"If everything worked out accordingly, the diamond should have gone down the pipe just around this bend," he thought distractedly to himself' - is that thought a distraction or actually quite pertinent to his current task? Not a fan of the costume hilarity. I get that the apes are pissed that the ant is being a dick to something that looks like one of their own and that might have been ok. But the osprey? Why? And why a dinosaur other than to revisit your earlier joke? Also, none of the characters are distinct beyond their costumes.

The Covenant
"Doesn’t even have to be the Lord’s Prayer, really. Could be anything." - the transition from olde-timey chat to something more modern is on purpose, right? It isn't. It happened a few times, the dialogue tone shift. "I’m going to light him on fire." Is that just to make it easier to digest than if all the dialogue had been archaic? So they're to summon the devil to kill him. But that doesn't sit well with the God-fearing girls. And the witch. And that the ceremony brought the minister to them, so he was the manifest of the devil? Well anyway, I guess the fact there are things to unpack is good thing. And I enjoyed reading it. Only the few shifts in tone in the dialogue disturbed my reading. There were characters, all though I'm not sure what most of them really wanted. Not sure that matters.

Boat Trouble
I wasn't expecting him to rat on his friend. I'm fatiguing a bit after reading all the others. Spud changes to Sput at one point. "My great grandfather had a set himself from a brother who missed the boat stateside, which my grandfather sold for a small fortune to collectors before he passed, and then my dad took the money when he skipped out." - what? "I let go of a breath I didn’t realize I had been holding. " - it's hard to speak while holding your breath. This was ok to read for me. I don't get the weight of the halfway to Houston framing?

Boomtown, or the Resurrection of Sheriff Dunn
I've read this already in an attempt to unearth the key to TD by reading winning entries. I enjoyed reading it well enough. It had a couple of characters and clear motivation. Although I wonder if anyone would have really thought the plan would work. "Certain chemicals became dangerous if overused." - read that originally as dangerous to the practitioner as in inhaling carcinogens or something like that. But then the bomb made it clear. And maybe that's better because if it was too blatant, the bomb wouldn't be a surprise. I liked how William's response to the corpse was professional and it introduced the gruesome scene clearly.

Promises
"Jaimie looked so much like his brother, and when mind drifted back to that promise he'd made Jeb in that damned trench, he couldn't help but see his old friend reflected in this boy's eyes." - this confuses me. Jaimie looks like his brother, which reminds him of Jeb, who could be his brother or his old friend, and he sees that old friend reflected in Jaimie's eyes because he himself looks like the old friend? Ok so Alfie is looking after his friend's brother. But is he wanting to get back to the States with him or just get J back there? A unit doesn't belong to a staff sergeant? In fact, I think a staff sergeant is in charge of ... never mind. "drug him out" drug isn't the past form of to drag, right? Or any form of that verb? hmmm. It's too small a space for a dead not-dead emotional roller-coaster. But it's not bad.

<There are still 3 more stories.>

There's No Place Like Home
Madness. This was fine to read. But I didn't like it. Especially the quick decline passage. Is Duane meant to be blinded by envy? If that's the angle, I think it needs to be the focus. If it is a literal alien invasion, I think that needs to be more obvious and built up better. Because it just comes out of nowhere as the *cause* of all the bad things in the neighborhood and in Duane's life. I didn't get much from this.

Not a Musical Bone in Their Body
"and yes, Shirley could tell, because she had exceptional eyesight" - oh. "they were greeted by an army of skeleton warriors." - hmm "200 metres from the stage" - eh, I think they're hosed then? '“this crowd is kind of dead.”' - no thanks. '“That’s amazing."' I'm impressed too. "I mean, I guess I’m straying a little bit from simile now, and more towards a completely literal description." - I sighed at this. I don't know what this was. Very least it wasn't the most tiring thing to read. And it's the second last one.

Moonshine
I'm guessing this is a Tartan Noir prompt, so it's whisky in Scotland. "spit out" - spat? Erika started off sounding like a pompous Londoner, "Bit of a fix, I’d say." And then a pompous Londoner spouting some overt Scotticism, "Crivens." To someone trying to suppress a Scottish accent, "Had a look already fore I shook ya awake. I think." Anyway, apparently having dialogue with a convincing accent isn't going to help you. A bit a'Burns, eh? "Still, it wasn’t anything serious." - well, if it isn't serious. "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..." - these are just errors right? This was fine. I'm struggling to engage with the entries now. But yeah, I guess it was fine. Not sure what Bones was up to. Or why the police officer was out and about. Someone had seen folk running around naked in the Highlands? Seems unlikely to me. Less likely that anyone out there would have called it in.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Some unsolicited crits for week 291 - Losers.

An Unlikely Uprising
I was expected what he was counting to come back for some payoff at the end, but it is just to show his madness. A bit disappointing. I'm confused. He thinks he's the king of this pond and that the ducks are his subjects revolting against him, but what are they doing to revolt? From his perspective? What's different? I didn't like how the story needs to be explained by showing your protagonist from someone else's perspective. And then for a little ranger explaining at the end. I get it that he wanted to take care of them in the killing way, but ended up bringing more of the ducks he hates to his pond. Hence the failure. But other tan that I don't get this.

Alone in the Dark
Oh angsty. Not sure those stars would be blinding unless a lot where close by, but that isn't possible, I don't think. The protagonist is bored, and so am I. Criminal hotbed surrounding a black hole's horizon sounds like a decent premise. But it is never mentioned again. Why do you do this to me? I don't think you managed to subvert the mirror cliche as well as you think. Tense shifts, is this meant to be a stylistic echo of the shifting perspectives of time due to special relativity? I doubt it is.

Southward
A lot of rolling sentences. Was this intentional because of the sea being ever present? Do you refuse to use a comma on purpose? I'm an idiot because I don't know what the crimson kid is meant to represent. I don't know what a firefall is. Wait what did he fail to do? Survive? I don't understand what happened on the 5th day.

Sub Luna Saltamus
I struggle to understand the asking the popular girl out but getting scorned trope. I like the idea of dancing about to do magic. I didn't mind reading this. There were a few typos that confused me at times. poo poo happened and there was real tension when there was a monster queen munching on hurts as Kevin tap-danced towards the radiator. I don't recall there being an oath for him not to take though? Also, if some people were falling down in exhaustion, would Charlotte not be one of them? After all, her obesity is notorious enough to be the final nail in Darren's shame. Darren doesn't seem to be much other than a tool. I guess he was needed to make the asking more believable? I kind of was expecting him to find his football-related magic.

Undisputed
I didn't get a strong sense of Gordon P. I got a hint of his hybris but I'm not sure that it was intentional because it was so subtle. I feel like you were trying to show us he was properly prepared with his fight plan and refraining from trash talking. Confident in his preparation. On that note, there was 2 too many sentences about the final mental preparation for me. And 'Mixed Martial Arts is a challenging sport in that regard' seems wholly unnecessary. The action is engaging. His corner is garbage. I watch MMA so I was pretty sure a Weidman-Romero ending was afoot when takedowns were mentioned as the winning formula. And the knee came as expected. I think this would be obvious even for people who have no clue of MMA. Maybe not the specifics, but it was clear as day he was going to lose (even if you weren't privy to the prompt). Because of this, the interesting part of the story is how someone goes from having such a inflated ego to being nothing. This psychological disaster is an interesting theme, I think, but isn't really explored here. As it is the ending isn't really anything.

Everything at Once
I enjoyed this. Despite some sloppy mistakes in the writing. I got a real sense of your protagonist and her frantic desire to hold on to her mine. One part that seemed to be out of place with the moment was, "None of her sorority parties had ever given her this much of a migraine." It seemed a little cheap given the context. This story stood out for me.

To Shoot for the Moon and Miss
Hmm. I had to suppress negative feelings when I saw this was in 2nd person. But I didn't hate it. But I didn't love it. I mean I don't have much to say about this. I sort of buy the feeling of wanting to be on the frontier, but I don't buy the gently caress that it is something you would just develop after loving up your warp destination. Surely someone on a year-long scouting mission would already be excited to explore?

Mine is the Blood of Wolf and Deer
"Mine is the blood of wolf and deer.

I will see Genghis Khan again tonight."

I like these lines. They drew me right in to the story. I quite enjoyed this. I believed the resolution for vengeance in the end. When I realized it was about childhood trauma of a particular kind, I was fearful that it would be handled in a crass manner. But I don't think it was. You might be benefiting from the fact that I am listening to a podcast on the Khan at the moment. But I don't think so.

Lucifer Burning Bright
I guess I'm not a dog lover because I didn't feel much from this. It wasn't so much a chore to read. But the first few sections have left almost no mark on my memory. Some sand, heat, and a car? Wouldn't your protagonist have known the dogs would be re-homed?

The Vantage Point
This made me a bit sad. But it was just a bit. I think I need more context and need to know more about these characters to feel anything more.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011




I'm in.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


In. And

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Unsolicited Silence
1748 words

I hadn't been off-world before. But now I was bound for moon 9 of Oppenus. Also known as Carcel. Apparently meant a home from home in some forgotten language. I had needed to get off Oppenus fast. Running from the aftermath of a bad job. Maniacs shooting at each other. No one else had survived. Only one face for the news to show under a big bold garish wanted. I had to leave. Any place where millions of people weren't admiring my good looks. I had been lucky. Usually shuttles to Carcel never had any spaces. Silver lines.

I left the port on Carcel in a rage. The shuttle ride had felt like a punishment for a lifetime of sin. All thrown together in some gut-wrenching, spinal-tearing tortuous trip. 10 hours of that and I had already been in a bad mood. Another 12 hours in a post-flight recovery lounge and I was fuming. And Carcel was a disappointing carbon-copy of Oppenus.

I needed to find a roof. I clearly had an intuitive gut, because I soon stumbled across a place where even the lowest of low would feel at home. Cracked walls, smell of piss, and boarded up windows. But with a forever hopeful illuminated sign. Vacancies.

I opened the door to an empty lobby. Reception desk was a tidy piece of rotten wood. On the wall a sign, the bottom half torn with whatever was written beneath premium rooms to forever remain a mystery. The prices were so low, I could have stayed there for an eternity.

There was a bell on the desk. Curiously shiny, freshly polished. Antique charm. I pressed it, but it made no sound. Again, nothing. So I shouted, "Hey, anybody here!" Silence. I shouted again, louder, reluctant to give up this gem I had so serendipitously found.

It dawned on me that I might be able to board for free. But as I went to open the door to the office, it swung open. I stepped back with an apology. Followed quickly by an accusation, "Hey, buddy, you must have heard me in there!" He didn't even look at me. Didn't utter a word.

I needed a room, so I reigned in my frustration. I pressed the bell again and politely asked for his cheapest room. He still refused to look at me, but some fancy screen popped up from the decaying wood.

The receptionist opened and closed drawers, looking for something or pretending to be busy. The screen faced me and prompted me to input how many nights I wanted to stay. I tried to choose the maximum, but it didn't register my touch. Meanwhile, the rude employee of this absurd establishment continued his show of being busy. I told him the screen wasn't working. But before he could even ignore me, the computer selected 5 nights and warned me that if I didn't bring the key back by check-out time, I would automatically be registered for another 5. Didn't say when check-out was. A small square on the desk folded over, and out of the hole a small platform rose. On it was a key. I grabbed it and dashed to the room before I had to deal with any other administrative garbage with that idiot.

The room was small and shabby. The sheets weren't new. They could have been freshly washed, hard to tell with the stains. Passed a sniff test. I took my boots off, laid down on the bed. I woke up a few hours later, begrudging the 12 hours of mandatory recovery a little less. It was still dark outside. Or dark again. I checked the time. Apparently midday. I must not have changed to Carcel time. Famished, I left to find sustenance.

I found a diner that was half-full. Perfect. I sat at the counter. Waited. No one came. I hadn't seen anybody serving. Everyone sat at different tables and seemed intent on not knowing anything about anyone else. Hunger broke my social mores, and I asked one how you got food here. He turned his head from me. I asked another. The same response. I walked up to the last guy and I saw fear in his eyes before he could turn his head. "What the gently caress is wrong with people here?" I thought aloud. I swore at them all and charged towards the door. As I passed the counter, I saw a dish with the meal I wanted. I looked around for a waiter or somebody. Nobody. Grumbling profanities, I sat down and ate. I left money for the bill. No tip.

I needed a drink. Didn't take long to find a grubby bar. Looked filthy enough to rub out any pretentiousness that might make people less friendly to a guy like me. My handsome features weren't going down well here. My face! I stopped dead before entering the bar. What if my face was already known here? I convinced myself I was being absurd. Hubristic even. It wasn't that big a deal for the news to travel off-world with me.

Inside there were a few people. All distributed at different tables. Not uncommon for lonely souls to drown in a place like this. Each person had their own bottle though. My kind of place. No bartender. This nonsense again. I didn't have to shout for service this time though. On the counter was a bottle, a glass, and a note. A note with just my name on it. I got a little angry. I asked the boozers what was going on. In a forceful tone. And with a little shaking for good measure. Not one word. One guy whimpered. And instantly started to cry. I let him go. He and the others ran out of the establishment. I grabbed the bottle and went to find some shadow to drink it in. This place was starting to get to me. And who the gently caress knew my name?

Before I could find a ditch to blind myself in, I saw a shuttle land. Maybe it had brought someone sane I could talk to. Before this moon made them crazy. I took a swig of the booze, rough, and marched to the port.

I waited for an age there. Nobody came out. "gently caress," I thought, "that goddamn compulsory recovery time! I'll just wait inside with them." Maybe there was someone who had been to Carcel before. Could tell me what the gently caress was wrong with people here.

The first set of doors opened automatically. But the second set, which led inside to the recovery suite, wouldn't open. Above the door was an illuminated number. 4054. Red lights. I tried to muscle the doors open. No dice. I picked up a rock. Threw it against the door. It bounced back and almost hit me.

"I thought I'd missed you!"

From behind me. I almost hit the deck turning as fast as I did. A grubby, sorry-looking fellow replete with a beard and head of hair dirty than a mare's rear end. He looked excited. Junkie seeing crack after a forced separation sort of excited. And I got the sense he didn't mean me exactly when he said you.

"You can't get in there, mister," he said. With a tone suggesting I was the dumbest thing he'd seen in a while.

"How do you get to the port then?"

"See that number. Wait for it to get to zero."

I didn't like his answer. I tried the doors again. He implored me to stop. I preferred the silent treatment. He grabbed me. I didn't like being touched. A fist to his face. A fist to mine. Flailing limbs. Bodies rolling on the floor. I pinned him to the ground. Punctuating my questions with blows to his filthy face. Hard to answer. He looked terrified. More than a beating warranted. He started to recant something about silence. Something moved behind me. Before I could turn, a shadow spread over me. The skies crashed down, meeting the rising ground. And my lights went out.

I woke up in my hotel room. My head raged violently. I thought of that bottle of booze. Then I remembered that shadow. Who the gently caress had knocked me out? And the locked doors. I had had enough of this place. I grabbed the booze. Might help with the throbbing head. I had to find that guy. He knew what was going on. Less anger this time though. I didn't know where I was going. The port probably.

Luck was still with me. After hardly any time, I saw that scumbag. Obviously trying to avoid my attention. I shouted to him. Terror on his face. I assured him there'd be no violence. I asked questions. He said nothing. Looking away from me like the others had done before. This didn't go down well. I somewhat recanted my promise. Hit him hard enough he fell to the ground. But this time he had no fight in him. He got up and ran. I chased him. Took a lifetime and two burst lungs to catch him. Surprisingly sprightly. No matter how much I tried. Not a sound. And then a shadow. gently caress! No lights.

Hotel room again. I went straight to the port this time. I'd take my chances back on Oppenus. 4201 above the doors. How'd it ever get to zero if it only went up? It didn't matter. I was going to find a back door. Use some of those skills I'd put to use back home. But before I even started looking for cracks, a guy out of breath ran up to me. Started reeling off information. No greetings. No questions. He barely breathed while reciting from something in his hand. I didn't take any of it in. He dashed towards me and passed the tablet to me. Firmly. The tablet was cold. Some kind of stone. I asked a plethora of questions, but he only answered one.

"The shadows know everything."

And with that he ran off. He shouted something as he fled. Sounded like good luck. I read the tablet. A lot of junk about taking a vow of silence. No non-verbal communication. To make that red number go down faster. I knew I had to find someone to give this tablet to. Or else find a way onto one of those shuttles. I'm not one for orders. I picked up a rock and started smashing the doors. Not a single crack.

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Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


I am ignominious.

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