|# ¿ Aug 14, 2018 21:16|
|# ¿ Jan 21, 2022 05:22|
Ships passing prompt -- 793 words
Wei Huan trudged up the mountain pass. Wind and rain whipped his frayed finery about him. The storm had caught him unaware, and he would need shelter soon.
Through grey mist he worked his way along the base of a cliff, and eventually came to a deep overhang. Relieved, Wei entered. Within the cave sat a man in the orange robes of a Buddhist monk.
"Greetings to you, monk. My name is Wei Huan. Might I share your shelter?" asked Wei.
"Greetings to you. My name is Haiyun. Please, be welcome," replied the monk.
Wei settled his creaking bones on the cave floor.
"Might I ask where you are journeying to?" he said.
"I am travelling to a monastery, across the distant hills, to live out my days in meditation, in the hope that I might remove all earthly attachments and escape the cycle of rebirth," said Haiyun. "What about yourself?"
"I am on a quest for my lord, to find a particular alchemist who has knowledge of medicines which may allow my lord to attain immortality," said Wei.
Haiyun raised an eyebrow.
"Even if you could extend his life, the Dharma holds that this world is a trap for the soul, and that you would be doing your lord no favours," he said.
"Well, the Dao holds that immortality in this life is the highest attainment," replied Wei. "But let me try to re-frame that. Is it not true that the passing of a ruler may cause turmoil and suffering in the realm?"
"This is true," said Haiyun.
"And is it not also true that your teachings hold the reduction of suffering to be one of their highest goals?"
"This, also, is true."
"Then does it not follow that extending the life of a ruler might reduce suffering, and thus be meritorious, if only for the good it will do to all others in the realm?"
The monk laughed.
"I will concede that, and wish you well. For myself, I will take care of my own soul."
They debated on, as rain lashed the mountainside. Wei tried hard to convince Haiyun of the merits of serving rulers, as Haiyun did his best to convince Wei of the folly of worldly attachments.
As the light grew dim, Haiyun called for a halt.
"This has been enlightening, but it is time for me to eat and make preparations to sleep."
He reached into his robe, and produced a small parcel. Wei's stomach grumbled.
"I hesitate to ask, but I appear to have misplaced my own food," he said.
"All I have are some rice and vegetables, but I would be glad to share them," said the monk.
They ate in silence. After the meal, Haiyun crossed his legs, sank into meditation, then, after some time, curled up in his robe to sleep. Wei watched in silence. Then he stepped out into the night.
Haiyun woke to find the cave empty. He adjusted his robe, gathered his things, and set off. The mountainside steamed in the morning sun, and the day waxed and then waned as he made his way down the pass. By nightfall he reached the village below, and, after a little searching, found a ramshackle inn. The innkeeper greeted him.
"A holy man! Welcome, holy man. Travellers are few these days, with the Mongols nearing."
"Fewer still, it seems, through the western pass," said Haiyun.
"You came by the western pass?"
The innkeeper made a sign to ward off evil.
"Legend holds that an imperial councillor on a quest for one of the Tang emperors died there. His devotion binds him to pursue that quest even in death. Nobody has been willing to travel that pass in many generations."
"Oh?" said Haiyun. "It is said of ghosts that they are trapped in Preta, consumed by hunger. Offerings of food may both ease their suffering and speed their passing into the next life. If you wish not to be bothered by this ghost, and ultimately to be rid of him, this is what you should do."
"You are wise, holy man. I shall speak with the other villagers, and we will do what we can," said the innkeeper.
"But might I ask where your travels are taking you?"
Haiyun paused. Across the hills, the monastery and a life of forsaking the world beckoned. But also he pondered the debate in the cave. He came to a decision.
"I may be a fool, but I am travelling to the court of the Mongols' ruler. I have heard that he may soon rule all of China, and that he has caused immeasurable suffering. Perhaps a humble monk might advise him to temper his cruelty, or even to use that power to ease suffering instead."
|# ¿ Aug 20, 2018 03:18|
Fast crits and in-depth crits. Thanks, judges!
|# ¿ Aug 21, 2018 04:38|
gently caress it, I don't have plans this weekend.
|# ¿ Sep 6, 2018 21:03|
The warm summer breeze ruffled Jane's hair as she eased her board through the back streets. She curved around the bobbling figure of a skunk.
"Hey little fella, good luck foraging tonight," she said.
Half a block later she added: "wish me luck, too."
She came to a row of traffic cones, and slipped between them onto the open street beyond. The rumbling of her boards' wheels changed to a smooth purr as they met the fresh asphalt, and she gave a little shiver of delight. Nearby, stood right in front of the street by her friend Lizzie's place, was a cluster of couches. Punk rock blared from a boombox, and laughter rang out in the evening air. Jane powerslid to a stop, kicked up her board, and added it to the pile.
Lizzie jumped up from a couch and hugged her.
"Hey Jane, what's happening! Pull up a couch!"
"Lizzie! You weren't lying! Ten blocks of fresh tar and no cars?" said Jane.
"All the way down the hill -- the racing tonight's gonna be insane. But here, tank up first," said Lizzie.
Lizzie handed her a beer from the case on the coffee table. Jane cracked it, and scanned the gathering with trepidatious hope. Her eyes fell on a girl in a patch jacket with a nose ring and brown hair down to her waist. Jane's heart skipped a beat. She gulped down a mouthful of beer, took a deep breath, and sat down on the couch next to the girl.
"Hey, I'm Jane. I think we met after the downhill race last Sunday," she said.
"Shannon," said the girl. "Ha ha, I might kinda sorta remember that. I was also kinda sorta super drunk."
Shannon looked her up and down. Jane blushed.
"But nice to meet you again!" said Shannon. "Can I just say you have the cutest hair?"
Jane fingered her pixie-cut bangs, looked up and smiled.
"Thanks," she said.
"You compete?" said Shannon.
"Sometimes -- I'm kinda new," said Jane.
"Rad," said Shannon, "I'll enjoy watching you later."
"I'd like that," said Jane, trying hard not to grin too much.
Just then Shannon's eyes shifted to look past Jane.
"Oh hey babe!" she said, jumping to her feet.
Jane turned and her heart sank as Shannon ran up to a tattooed guy, and wrapped her arms around him. Shannon stepped back.
"Let's grab some beers and go up to my room," she said.
They disappeared into the house.
Jane sank into the couch and tried her hardest to disappear. She sipped her beer in silence as the party went on around her. After some time, Lizzie appeared with a giant pot of spaghetti and meatballs. She dropped it on the table, and banged on the side with a spoon.
"Alright you assholes! Dinner is served!"
Lizzie served herself a great big plate, and plopped down next to Jane. She got her fork halfway to her mouth, then stopped.
"Oh my god, Jane, you look like someone just ran over your puppy," she said. "Wait, this is about Shannon, isn't it? I've seen the way you look at her."
Jane bit her lip and nodded.
"Well, some advice then. a) That Rich guy is more of a passing fling than anything, b) Shannon is poly, and c) she is totally, absolutely into girls," said Lizzie. "I think you have a chance."
"You think so?" said Jane.
"I know so," said Lizzie. "Here, get some food in you. It'll make you feel better."
Jane got herself a plate and picked at it. Just then, Shannon emerged with Rich in tow, her make-up just a little smudged. She came up to Jane.
"Hey Rich, this is Jane. She does downhill too," said Shannon.
"Oh, did you just get started? Maybe I could give you some pointers," said Rich.
Jane could smell the beer on his breath.
Lizzie cut in. "Rich, don't be an rear end in a top hat. Jane could skate circles around you," she said. "Jane, back me up."
Jane glanced at Shannon.
"Um, well I did win the downhill meet last weekend," she said.
"Ha!" said Rich. "I'd like to see this. You on to race now?"
Jane weighed the situation. This might be a chance to impress Shannon.
"OK," she said.
"Actually, I bet I could beat you wearing plates of this spaghetti instead of shoes!" said Rich.
"What?" said Jane.
By this time the whole party had turned to look at them. Someone shouted "Race!" Then another, and another, until the chant of "Race! Race! Race!" filled the air. Soon, a pile of half-eaten plates had been gathered, and everyone was skating to the top of the hill.
Jane stood with one bare foot on the road, the other on her board. Noodles oozed between her toes. Keeping from sliding off was going to be hard enough, but the thought of turning turned her stomach queasy. She glanced at Rich, who leered back.
"Good luck," he said, "you're gonna need it."
Beyond him, Lizzie stood with her arm raised.
"OK, if you're gonna ruin my food like this, you better make this good," she said. "Ready! Set! Go!"
Jane pushed with her back foot and almost slid straight off the deck. But she shifted her weight and felt herself regain control. Taking a deep breath, she allowed gravity to carry her down the hill. She peeked to the left, just in time to see Richard fall flat on his rear end.
Well, so she'd proven her point. But she needed to finish this. She had a crowd to please, and a girl to impress. But the first turn loomed ahead.
Her stomach lurched as she started to curve and felt the spaghetti shift beneath her feet. Acting on instinct, she hung low, grabbed the edge of the board, and glided through.
Relief washed over her. She could do this! Wind filled her ears as she picked up speed. She eased through the next bend, and ...
... and spread across the road were five waddling bundles of black-and-white fluff. Her stomach clenched, and she jammed the board sideways. For a brief moment, she saw the entire skunk family puff their tails up in fright as she sailed over them. Then the road was rising to meet her, and everything went black.
Jane's head pounded, and the side of her leg was on fire.
"Jane, you OK girl? Talk to me."
It was Lizzie's voice. She opened her eyes to see Lizzie standing over her, medkit in hand, with Shannon in the background. Lizzie began checking her over, and pulled out a bottle of disinfectant. Meanwhile Shannon leaned in and put her hand on Jane's cheek.
"That. Was so loving stupid," she said. "I'm sorry Rich talked you into that. He can be an rear end in a top hat sometimes."
"Is he," began Jane.
"He went home after he fell. He was too embarrassed," said Shannon.
"I ... I was just trying to impress you," said Jane.
"That, um, OK, consider me impressed," said Shannon "but if I ask you out, can you promise you'll find less dangerous ways to impress me? "
Jane smiled. The pain seemed to recede a little.
Image: person on skateboard with spaghetti and meatballs on their feet.
|# ¿ Sep 10, 2018 07:02|
The actual image, for reference:
|# ¿ Sep 10, 2018 07:05|
Thank you for the crits and judgement.
i dont think i took enough time with these to call them crits, but here are the thoughts i had while reading the stories.
|# ¿ Sep 11, 2018 05:11|
A streak of blue sailed past George's face. It bounced on the couch, and revealed itself to be a plastic tugboat.
"Martha! That child of yours is throwing his toys again!" he said.
He looked up from his newspaper to see a toddler running across the living room, wearing nothing but a pirate hat, and chewing on a purple dinosaur. A portly woman chased after him.
"He's ripped off his clothes, too! Billy, you are such a handful" said Martha as she caught up.
Billy looked up at Martha, waved the purple dinosaur, then made a noise.
"Did you hear that?" said Martha, "I think he's trying to speak. Oh my god, George, this could be his first word!"
George got up off the couch and leaned down to listen. Billy made the noise again.
"It sounds like he's trying to say papa!" said George.
Billy furrowed his tiny brow. Behind his eyes, gears seemed to turn. Then he smiled.
"Prompt!" he said, clapping his hands. "Prompt! Prompt! Prompt!"
|# ¿ Sep 11, 2018 07:06|
AllNewJonasSalk, crits below.
OK, so you’re going for dystopia. Things to work on: show don’t tell, try to make your character at least slightly relatable, try to foreshadow an ending like that rather than just making it a lovely diabolus ex machina. Also work on making your story coherent and understandable. Exposition can be painful, but if you’re showing more than telling, it’s easier to work it into the story.
|# ¿ Sep 11, 2018 19:38|
Thanks! Though you may say they are neither the longest nor the dankest, those crits still measure up on both scales!
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2018 06:43|
INTERPROMPT: Giant Robots, 200 words
Escape from Warehouse 57 (200 words)
Jack rode through towers of cardboard boxes zooming past on the backs of stackbots. Suddenly, his safety cage squealed to a halt.
“Alexa, diagnostic,” he said.
“Unit is operating normally,” said the speaker, “please resume work. Penalty points will accrue.”
The cage was locked, but he had water and a bottle to pee in. He just had to sit tight.
Clang! The cage lurched. Looming above was a teetering stack labelled “barbecues”. The stackbot beneath flashed angry red. Then it backed up, stabilized, and wandered off.
OK, the proximity sensors were down. He was stuck in a death trap. Jack prised the cover off the lock mechanism. Another stackbot sped towards him. He grabbed for the grappler arm controls. The arm swung out, and the stackbot backed away with a screech of twisting metal.
He jimmied the door open and rolled onto the floor, as another stackbot smashed into the cage. Both went tumbling through the air and landed in a rain of boxes and protesting steel. From the wreck came a voice:
“Damage has been detected, assessed, and deducted from your salary. Please report to booth 16 for a mandatory correctional briefing.”
More stackbots sped towards him. Jack screamed.
|# ¿ Sep 18, 2018 01:24|
In, with this story: https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5840&title=The+Premier
(The random button tried to give me some BadSeaFood nothing-happens story about characters from a 1995 LucasArts game I've never played. The second choice was much better! There will be blood!)
|# ¿ Sep 19, 2018 05:58|
Loose ends (1,238 words)
Story: The Premier, by Mysticalhaberdasher
One minute I'm walking down the stairs, the next it feels like my body's being twisted around like a donut, and I'm falling face-first. I land elbows-first on the hard tile, and lie there for a few seconds, trying to figure out what happened. An earthquake? Wouldn't there be screaming?
The lobby is silent, which is weird. Even if the film had hit a quiet part, I should be able to make out the projector whirring or coughing and shuffling in the theatre. I get more than a little freaked out as I stand and do a wide take of the room. The candy bar is empty, and there's broken glass on the floor beneath some of the windows.
Footsteps echo from behind and I half jump as I turn round. Walking right towards me is a woman in bell bottoms and a frilly blouse.
"Tommy?" she says.
I just manage a nod.
"I'm Anne. We've been expecting you," she says.
She hops onto the candy bar counter and sits, legs dangling.
"Here's the deal. You've been sent forty years into the future," she says.
"OK, I'm having an acid flashback."
"Does your head feel like you're high?"
I consider. The room isn't moving and the feeling I'm getting is more pumped on adrenaline than fogged with psychedelics. Anne hands me a paper. The headline is about the president, only it isn't Ford. The date says June 22, 2014.
"This is some kind of practical joke," I say.
"We don't have time for this. Come and look outside."
She jumps down and walks to the window. I follow and peek through the broken glass. Just outside, stretching as far as I can see in any direction, is a shimmering wall like the surface of a pond. Through it, I can just make out big, military-looking gantries with soldiers standing around. Anne gives me a few seconds, then speaks.
"Some amateur has messed with the timeline. Leakage from whatever bootstrapped device they used sent you here."
She points out the window.
"Those machines out there are keeping it contained, but we have less than half an hour of subjective time to find whoever did this and fix it."
I shake my head.
"That is a lot to take in."
She pulls a rectangular gizmo like a tiny, flat TV out of her purse, and runs her fingers across the screen.
"We're on a deadline. Take it in while we work," she says. "What do you remember about the moments before the time shift?"
"I was working door at a premier. Force Majeure. It was Mister Guerra's big project," I say. "Wait, what happens after half an hour?"
She's absorbed in her mini-TV. Her brow furrows as she works, then she relaxes.
"That's good. Hugo Guerra. We've got a fix."
She looks up.
"To answer your question, in half an hour, the timeline drifts too far to contain, and the agency wipes the building from history," she says, "with you and I in it."
"OK," I said, "what do I do?"
"Guerra. He owned the theatre. We need a time when he was here alone."
"Tuesdays. He likes to work late in the office upstairs on Tuesdays."
I led her upstairs, our shoes kicking up dust. The door to Mister Guerra's office lies skew on the floor. We step over it.
"This is it," I say.
She pulls a smaller device from her purse. This one shimmers like the wall outside, and looking at it hurts my head.
"Hold my hand," she says.
The room lurches and I close my eyes. When I open them, it's back to how I remember it. Mr Guerra is sitting and tapping away on a typewriter. An old-looking projector sits on the desk. His head snaps up, then he sees me and smiles.
"Tommy," he says, "I didn't hear you come in. You really should try to knock."
He looks Anne up and down.
"And who is this lovely lady?"
Anne pulls a badge out of her purse.
"NSA temporal division. I'm just here to talk, for now. I think you know why."
Mr Guerra's smile disappears. He looks at me and I shrug. Then he addresses Anne.
"Yes, I do," he says, "but I'm afraid I cannot allow you to interfere with the success of my film."
He pushes a button on the projector. Both he and it shimmer and disappear.
"poo poo," says Anne.
She pulls out the glass thing, and shows me the screen. There's a red bar with numbers ticking down beneath it. 10:09. 10:08. 10:07.
"Our half an hour just turned to ten minutes," she says.
"OK, what do we do now?"
"He'll be running around the timeline, screwing things up. Our best bet is to go forward again to 2014. The containment field will stop him going past. If we're lucky we'll catch him there."
She takes my hand, and we shimmer back to the smashed office. Beside our footsteps in the dust is a third pair going the other way.
"Be quiet and keep your eyes open," says Anne.
We creep down the stairs and into the lobby, where the footsteps fade. We stand looking, when I see Mr Guerra coming around a pillar, right behind Anne, with a baseball bat raised. I yell to warn her.
Anne moves fast, turning and dropping. The bat swooshes past her head. She grabs him and throws him over her shoulder. The bat goes flying.
He gets up, and looks past her. The projector is sitting on the floor, and Anne is between him and it. He makes a break for the doors, and we chase after.
He yanks one door open and jumps through, right into the shimmery wall outside. The moment he hits, his body stretches and curls around itself. Then he's running right at us, without slowing at all. His eyes go wide with surprise as Anne reaches out her arm and catches him in the neck. His feet fly up, and his head hits the tile with a hollow thud. He moans, looking like a defeated, crumpled old man.
"We are running out of time!" says Anne.
She hasn't stopped moving. She kneels on his chest, and there's a gun in her hand. She presses it to his head and pulls the trigger, again and again. Blood and brains fly everywhere and I'm screaming.
"Shut up," she says.
She wipes her hands on her jeans, puts the gun in her purse, then pulls out something smaller. She walks to the projector, clips this new thing to it, and steps back. It shimmers out of existence.
"The cleanup crew can handle things now," she says, "poor rear end in a top hat probably won't even have to die when they're done."
She pulls out the gauge. It's still red, and the numbers say 50:17.
"The timeline's still out," she says.
"How? You killed Mister Guerra. You destroyed his machine. We did everything you said."
Anne lowers her eyes and reaches into her purse.
"It's you, Tommy, you're in the wrong time. And even if I took you back, you've seen too much," she says. "For what it's worth, pre-divergent you will live on."
Now, she's looking me in the eye. I look straight down the barrel of the pistol in her hands.
"I can keep quiet."
"No," she says, with dead certainty, "you can't."
The gunshot echoes off the bare tile.
|# ¿ Sep 24, 2018 06:16|
Refrigerator Car (121 words)
I wake, and wonder why I am not dead. My fingers brush the bullet holes, but feel only numbness. Beneath me lie jagged, icy somethings. The room rocks and clacks. A train car. Cold penetrates through to my bones.
In the flickering beam of my flashlight I behold the mound. The bodies of my fellow protesters lie jumbled and frozen. I expect revulsion or grief, but find my stomach growling. Yet some new and alien instinct tells me that these empty husks will not sate me.
The train slows, then stops. The doors open and blinding light floods the car. Warm bodies enter. Soldiers. Their scent teases my nostrils.
I rise, and to a chorus of screams, I feed.
|# ¿ Sep 24, 2018 19:27|
Rural Trainboys (125 words)
England, Shropshire, Wroxeter. Two barely-legal teen boys entered an abandoned bunker to bone. Dick showed James a train.
"That's cool! Where did you get it?"
"It cost me five quid and a blowjob. Give it a try!"
James jumped in the train and started down the hill. The train crashed for mechanically inexplicable reasons. Dick found James on the ground bleeding from his leg.
"It's OK, we can put a tourniquet on it, and you can run and call 999," said James.
Dick perused his watch.
"Oh no, I'm late for my daily buggering from the janitor!"
"Well I think it might be better if you just left me to die, then."
"Yes, I think that's best."
Dick was buggered by the janitor. James died.
|# ¿ Sep 25, 2018 04:51|
I'm a little teapot, short and stout...
Which is to say in, and I'm writing from the POV of a teapot, if that's OK.
|# ¿ Sep 26, 2018 20:49|
I'm in as a book, but you can pick what kind if you want.
I'm not the judge, but I think you should try being a Gideons bible.
|# ¿ Sep 26, 2018 23:58|
I'm in, my object is a TV.
I'm pretty sure Sitting Here has said strictly no actions. AFAIK feelings are OK and even encouraged.
Here's a helpful conversation from IRC:
|# ¿ Sep 28, 2018 22:20|
you're all brawling each other.
So Third was so aggrieved at my informing him that Chuck Tingle has, indeed, written books about Donald Trump being pounded in the butt, that he called me out. If you please, this could be a four-way. The brawl, I mean.
|# ¿ Sep 30, 2018 08:07|
Time for tea (627 words)
Dorothy's first memory was being tucked into a box. She snuggled in her sawdust bed and waited, wondering in the dark. She drifted from excitement, to curiosity, to awe at her life ahead.
The box opened, and Dorothy was placed on an embroidered tablecloth. Around her were six teacups, nestled in matching saucers. Their scrolled handles and flowing, gilded patterning left Dorothy without a doubt they were hers. She sat proudly on the table, a mother hen with her chicks.
All around was white lace and finery. A man in a handsome suit and a woman in a bridal veil stood by.
"Oh mother," said the woman, "it's lovely. We shall cherish it always!"
Dorothy went to live in a small but cosy apartment. She grew to love the deep, joyful feeling of being filled with hot water and tea leaves. She relished the caress of the woman's soft hand, and the care in her pouring. She watched the man and the woman smile over their teacups, and she knew that all was right in the world.
But dark years came. At night, sirens sounded, lights were extinguished, and the man and woman would hide. Dorothy's brood rattled in their saucers from distant thudding vibrations, and on some nights flickering flames painted their gilt a sickly orange.
The man went away. After, the woman took her tea alone, her hand shaking on Dorothy's handle as she poured. While she drank, her other hand clutched a small, framed photograph of the man. The tea in those years was thin and bitter. Sometimes, it was mixed with tears.
One day, there was a commotion outside, and joyful shouts of victory. Soon, the man returned. The couple again took their tea every afternoon, with biscuits and milk and sugar. Sunlight streamed through the lace curtains, and Dorothy basked in their happiness.
In the evenings they took their tea again. Often, the man's speech slurred, and he spilled from his cup. Sometimes, he stood and shouted at the woman. Sometimes, he knelt, sobbing about fire, and screaming, and death. In those times, Dorothy battled a gnawing sense of failure.
One time, the woman shouted back. The man shouted louder, and an argument ensued. The woman flung her teacup. Time slowed as Dorothy watched, in mute horror, as her child sailed through the air and shattered against the wall. Through the numbness that followed, she barely noticed the man striking the woman, and the woman falling to the floor.
Dorothy's next days were a miserable blur. She observed with paltry interest as the woman packed her things. Dorothy, in turn, was wrapped up in newspaper and stuffed into a box.
In the dark, Dorothy brooded over her loss. As time passed, numbness surrendered to anger. Had she not served well? Had she not provided comfort in the darkest times? As more time passed, anger surrendered to a deep, stodgy sadness. As years passed, sadness at last surrendered to acceptance, and hope for the future.
But more years passed, and that future did not come. Warmth and sunshine faded into distant memory. Often, Dorothy slept. When she woke she nursed a terrible, aching loneliness.
After what might have been an eternity, the box cracked open, and delicate hands unwrapped her. The hands belonged to a young woman. Her lacy dress and lipsticked smile reminded Dorothy of happier days.
"Nana, this tea set is exquisite! Why don't you ever bring it out?"
"Bad memories from my first husband, I suppose."
"If I had a tea set like this, I'd be throwing tea parties all the time!"
"Why don't you take it and throw some tea parties? I think it could use some love."
Dorothy returned to the world of lace, and sunshine, and smiles.
Object: a teapot.
|# ¿ Oct 1, 2018 04:34|
|# ¿ Oct 1, 2018 18:48|
A short tale of hiking, bickering and sheep. 1141 words
Kira lingered at the hand drier, warming her numb fingers. After a few minutes, she returned to the main hall. She was sure the view through the visitor centre's damp glass would be beautiful, if it weren't for the fog and rain. The hike up Snowdon had been wet and miserable, and she'd snapped at Brad more than once on the way. Hot tea and a respite from the rain had helped, but she was soaked to the bone and eager to be off the mountain.
She reached the table where she and Brad had set up. Brad wasn't there. Another hiker saw her glancing around.
"Are you looking for your husband? He said you'd left in a huff, and went off down the mountain to find you."
Kira swore under her breath. Maybe she had been a bit abrupt when she stomped off to the bathroom, but really? She walked to the door, put up her jacket hood, and stepped out into the rain. Sighing, she set off down the wet trail.
Despite the weather, the path up the highest mountain in England and Wales was busy. She asked the first people coming the other way whether they'd seen Brad. They had, and said he'd been asking after her. OK, he was an idiot, but she was sure he'd ask a few people coming past, realise that he'd gone ahead, then stop and wait for her.
She stomped on, her boots squelching with every step. There was no sign of Brad. OK, maybe he was asking a few more people to make sure before he stopped.
Another group appeared through the haze. Their jackets were in dated styles, but looked almost brand new. Hipsters, she figured. She asked if they'd seen Brad. They had not. This was weird, since there was only one trail, and sheer cliffs not far to either side of it. Maybe he'd stepped behind a rock to pee when they passed him?
She left them and trudged onward and downward. Her anger had started to dissipate into intense a gnawing sense of concern. On the upside, the rain had lessened, though the mountainside was still shrouded in fog.
She came upon another group, all wearing yellow plastic rain ponchos. They must have been sweating buckets under there, and it seemed like a lot of suffering to endure to get a retro look. They had not seen Brad either.
She walked on, her concern growing. The rain had also returned. The next group of hikers all wore drab canvas jackets. There was not a scrap of plastic to be seen on any of them. They were also all men. One of them addressed her.
"Are you alright, lass? You lost?"
"I'm looking for my husband Brad. He went ahead. Have you seen him?"
"I haven't, but I'm sure you'll catch up. You stay warm in that strange getup of yours."
Kira let them pass, then stepped off the trail to take a break. She planted herself on a rock and sat, sipping from her water bottle. Nearby, a sheep stood munching on the damp grass.
The heritage railway ran close to where she sat, and a train went past. It was driven by a steam locomotive. The steam service should be an occasional, "premium" experience, with the remainder being cheaper diesel. Kira had seen three pass by on her way down. All had been steam.
She spoke to the sheep.
"Something truly weird is going on," she said.
"You don't say," said the sheep, in a cheerful, bleating voice.
Kira nearly fell off the rock. The sheep turned to look at her sidelong.
"Well don't be surprised. I'm probably the least peculiar thing to happen to you today," it said.
"What do you mean?"
"You've gotten unanchored," said the sheep, "the further down the hill you go, the further back you end up in time."
"Or I'm having a psychotic break."
"Many things are possible!"
The sheep turned back to its grazing. Kira turned the situation over in her head. It made a bizarre kind of sense.
"OK," she said, "enlighten me."
"Well, you've gone backwards, and your hubby's gone forwards."
"Is he OK?"
The sheep's next word sounded like two people saying "yes" and "no" at the same time.
"The waveform hasn't collapsed, you see," it said.
"That does not sound OK."
"Oh it's definitely not!" said the sheep, "he's in a bit of a dangerous spot for a time traveller. You're not exactly OK, either. Not the friendliest time for women, the Victorian."
"How do I fix this, then?"
"It's quite simple, really. You and Brad have to work together."
"How? I can't even find him."
"Not to worry, my colleague is having a chat with him. You both have to work on your little communication issue, you see."
"We do not have a communication issue!"
"Oh?" said the sheep, "how did you manage to lose him then?"
"OK, maybe we messed up," said Kira, "but that's still personal. Also, this is stupid. Why can't you just help us?"
The sky darkened, and the sheep's eyes glowed red. Its voice shifted down an octave, and seemed to boom from all directions.
"Those," said the sheep, "are the rules."
The sky returned to grey, and the sheep bent its head back down to the grass. Small tearing noises marked the resumption of its grazing.
Kira sat on the rock, pondering.
"OK fine, I'll work on it."
The sheep looked up again.
"Not good enough. Right now you're just saying that."
"How do you know? Are you reading my mind?"
"I am a being outside of space and time," said the sheep, "I know."
Kira pondered a little further. It was true, she and Brad often lost their temper at each other, and things sometimes went downhill from there. They could also work on their trust. Both of them walking off without telling the other was not exactly the best idea.
As she thought this, the sheep spoke.
"That's good enough, then."
"And I'll be able to find Brad now?"
"Just keep walking. He'll be there."
She set off down the path. Over the next rise, scanning the hillside in her direction, was Brad. She ran up and hugged him.
"Oh baby, I've been so worried about you!" she said.
"Oh man, I was worried about you too."
"There were some very peculiar things which happened on the way down."
"Did they involve a talking sheep?"
"You, too, then?"
They fell silent. The rain had stopped, and patches of sunlight were breaking through. Below them, the clouds parted to reveal a great vista of rolling green countryside. They stood, hand in hand, savouring the moment.
Some time later, Brad spoke.
"So, we need to work on this communication thing."
"Yeah, we do. Any ideas?"
"The sheep gave me the name of a couples counsellor back in London..."
|# ¿ Oct 7, 2018 07:36|
Thanks for the crits, Sitting Here! That was a herculean effort, on your birthday weekend no less.
|# ¿ Oct 9, 2018 17:22|
so am i covered in blood or dead or what ? ?
|# ¿ Oct 11, 2018 18:53|
Ty for judging and for all your amazing crits as always!
|# ¿ Oct 12, 2018 06:36|
Well I was lying awake at 6AM after a lovely night's sleep reflecting on how the howling of the metro train would set off the PTSD of our Israeli subletter and how the rumbling of the idling freight train felt like the whole neighbourhood was being digested in some giant stomach and in the midst of this enveloping soundscape someone could be lying in bed with the embodiment of fear itself floating above having a nice terrifying conversation with them and also that Muffin was doing the prompt this week so it would be a horror week and this was all good inspiration.
Which is to say, in.
I also dreamed that Mercedes was this angular-featured lead singer in a band, basically a black David Bowie. Make of that what you will.
|# ¿ Oct 16, 2018 17:26|
Interprompt: a cat was named after someone's MMO character, had kittens, then was given away for free on Craigslist*. Give me 200 words in any genre describing these events or those surrounding them.
*And picked up by a foster organisation and will be going up for adoption to find a forever home soon. This is based on the actual story of our foster cat, but I'm asking you to fill in the blanks, the more outlandish the better.
Edit for catte:
Lead out in cuffs fucked around with this message at 21:40 on Oct 29, 2018
|# ¿ Oct 29, 2018 21:32|
A cat was named after someone's MMO character, and that name was EonFarts. This turned out to be a very accurate name because EonFarts farted for an eon and filled up the entire universe with her fartgas. After a new universe evolved from the gas, EonFarts had kittens with her mate, AeonFarts, then was given away for free on Craigslist--this, of course, after craigslist got invented for a second time in the newly evolved fartgas universe. EonFarts' kittens were composed entirely of gas and no one could ever lock them out of a room, and their meows were a horrible smell. Everyone in the fartgas universe got visited by the smelly kittens at some point. It was a sign of good luck to wake up choking on a putrid stench with tiny mews ringing in the night air. EonFarts ascended to the stars before anyone could adopt her, and this became her forever home. She farts continuously and always, and this is the mysterious force known as 'dark energy' that keeps our smelly universe from collapsing. the end.
While I'm not wading through this pile of drek, Mika (the cat) has kindly agreed to provide personalised crits.
She doesn't do well with screens, so I had to print it out.
I also had to translate it into a format she understands...
I think these videos speak for themselves.
|# ¿ Nov 1, 2018 06:50|
In with a
|# ¿ Nov 1, 2018 07:00|
Remembrance (956 words)
The sun beat down on the handful of people waiting on the bare gravel of the Amtrak platform in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota. The train pulled in like a great blue caterpillar. A conductor took our tickets and checked off our seats on a sheet of paper, then directed us all the way down to our car. As soon as the last of us had climbed into the air conditioned interior, the whistle blew, and we rolled out.
I stowed my bag in the luggage rack downstairs, took out my small pack with my notebooks, and made my way to my seat. The car was half-full and quiet. A few folks were reading. Quite a few slept, their seats reclined into half-beds.
Restless, I walked through the train, through doors and corridors, to the observation car. It greeted me with a handful of armchairs, a few booths, and wall-to-ceiling windows framing the passing landscape. Two of the booths were filled with young folks getting drunk and rowdy. I skirted them and settled into an armchair at the far end of the car, beside some half-dozing pensioners. Prairies stretched off to the horizon. I breathed in their vast expanse. After a while, I opened my journal, and began to write.
“What are you writing about?”
I looked up. In the next seat over was a woman with eyes the colour of amber and a gentle, warm smile.
“I’m sorry to disturb you. I’ll leave you alone if you like,” she said.
I managed a nervous smile in return.
“No, it’s OK. I was just reflecting on the scenery.”
“Yes! Isn’t it breathtaking? I feel like I could fly out across it and never find the end.”
She held out her hand. I took it.
“My name’s Siram,” she said.
“Siram, that’s a cool name.”
“Thank you. It’s very old.”
“Well, I’m just John, which is far less interesting.”
“John is a fine name, and also very old. Are you journeying for inspiration, then?”
“A little. I have some delusions of being a writer. Spending the summer backpacking around this big old country made some kind of sense for that.”
“A bard, then!”
“Haha maybe. How about you?”
She looked out across the rolling plains, and her smile took on a hint of sadness.
“Like yourself, I’m seeing this country while I have the chance.”
We talked for a time, about our respective journeys. Of big towns and small towns, farmers and oil workers, Mennonites and junkies. For a time longer we sat in comfortable silence, watching the scenery go by. I began to realise that I was feeling just a little bit of a crush for Siram, as I basked in her gentle glow.
As night fell, we struck up conversation again, and this time it turned to history. Siram spoke with a knowledge and vividness that awed me. I joked about how she spoke as though she had been there, and she laughed, but with that tiny corner of sadness in her eyes.
“John, will you come with me to the back of the train?”
“Um, yeah, of course.”
She led me by the hand through car after car of sleepers in their chairs. We passed further into the sleeper cars, and I grew a little nervous.
“Siram, we shouldn’t be here. Any minute now we’re going to run straight into a conductor and get thrown off.”
She looked back at me, eyes aglow, and put her fingers to her lips. In the next car, we indeed ran into a conductor. He squeezed past us in the narrow corridor without a glance.
We passed through the last door, onto a tiny balcony at the far back end of the train. The foothills of the Rockies sped by behind us, still capped with snow. A million stars filled the sky above.
“This is spectacular,” I said.
Siram sighed, raising her head to the stars.
She turned to me and looked deep into my eyes.
“John, I’m here for a reason, and I don’t have much time. Will you hear me out?”
“How did your famous English bard put it? ‘To die, to sleep -- to sleep, perchance to dream.’”
“My kind do not die the way you do. And dreams -- dreams are made of memories. We do not dream in death; our memories are lost in the cycle of rebirth.”
“That sounds awful.”
“I suppose it could. But I was born with this knowledge, and with an instinctual acceptance of it.”
“Um OK, but why are you telling me this?”
“Because John, I’ve developed a perversion. Maybe even a sin.”
The amber in her eyes blazed.
“I want to be remembered. Remember me.”
The blaze in her eyes grew to an orange glow. The glow spread, first to her face, then to her whole body, so that she seemed to be made of flame. The flames coalesced into thousands of pinprick points of light, embers suspended for a moment in the shape of a woman. These spiralled up into the air in a great column. For a moment, they seemed to draw together into the shape of a great bird. Then they faded into the night.
I stood at the railing, watching that patch of sky, now filled with stars. Mountains passed, craggy and majestic. Between the mountains were forests, silent and mossy and deep, and rivers burbling snow melt over smooth rocks, glinting silver in the moonlight.
At last, the cold set in, and I made my way back through the train. The rowdy crowd in the observation car were rowdier still, but I ignored them. I sat in the furthest corner, pulled out my notebook, and began to write.
|# ¿ Nov 5, 2018 08:05|
Prompt was: "From the train, trailing sparks of gold behind."
|# ¿ Nov 5, 2018 08:07|
Just wanted to remind you lovely bast- people, that KIDDOME is in full swing and all submissions are in. It would be awesomely helpful if you can throw in a crit or two and help me out, because these are a lot of words and many of those words are bad words and I need help keeping my sanity and oh god please help-
a. What's our deadline?
b. I don't seem to be able to add comments of any kind in that doc. If I read you right, you want us to do the crits in a separate Google doc for each story, then link them via a comment. In the meantime we can do them in the docs and PM them to you or something?
|# ¿ Nov 23, 2018 06:38|
Alright, it should be fixed. Thanks for letting me know.
Yep, works now. Thanks!
|# ¿ Nov 23, 2018 17:23|
|# ¿ Jan 21, 2022 05:22|
Thank you to Lead out in Cuffs for a full box of maple-y goodness, a handmade Shibori-est Rhino wall hanging (neat!) and donation to a rhino wildlife fund (which I should also look into!). My stomach will cherish these other than the wall hanging and the tea towel) (and the magnet too):
Yay! I've been stressing so much about this making it, between the postal strike here and the international shipping. Hope you enjoy it all!
|# ¿ Dec 28, 2018 06:40|