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Apr 7, 2013

How could I not jump in on this for my first go?

You have an IRC/Discord?


Apr 7, 2013


Antivehicular posted:

Welcome to Thunderdome! Have this thing:

Jerry Kewl Adventures 1: A New Best Friend
2,337 words

On my first day at my new school my mum dropped me off around the corner, knowing I’d be too embarrassed to be seen getting dropped off at the school gate.

“Have fun, and I can’t wait to meet your new friends,” she said cheerfully as I hurriedly got out of the car.

“Yeah, sure, of course,” I replied mumbling to her as I quickly closed the door and joined the crowd of kids. But it turns out my plan to not be seen with my mum hadn’t worked, and I buried my hands deep in my pockets to try and make myself as small as possible. I could feel the other kids looking at me suspiciously as I hurried ahead.

Around the corner I could see the school gates and my heart dropped. Waiting at the gates and pushing every kid was the biggest, meanest kid I had ever seen. He had thick, hairy arms and a spotted face and loose, wavy blond hair. He laughed cruelly as he pushed over a small kid wearing thick glasses before high-fiving his friend. I tried to make myself even smaller and hid behind a group of children squeezing through the gates but like a guided missile he seemed to pick me out and trip me up.

“Nice backpack, loser,” the bully said mockingly as I tried to stand up. I tried to hide my backpack under me, but he’d already seen the patches from my favourite bands I’d sewn into it - Billy Idol, Avenged Sevenfold, Nirvana, the Ramones, Good Charlotte, Nightwish and of course Green Day.

“What are those, your boyfriends?” he asked menacingly. Then he guffawed loudly and high-fived his friend again like he’d made the cleverest joke.

I tried to stammer a response but thankfully the school bell rang. The other kids walked past me to class, some laughing harshly behind their hands, and nobody stopped to help me up.


The rest of the school day was just as painful. I struggled through maths and english, my least favourite subjects, and in science nobody wanted to be my lab partner and I wound up spilling the chemicals down my threadbare uniform.

At lunch I sat by myself as the other kids laughed all around me with their friends, eating a plain cheese sandwich that was all my mum had packed for me. As soon as I was finished eating I left to find a quiet corner to sit in and pulled out my sketchbook.

My drawings had been the only comfort I’d had during my parents’ divorce. While my parents were fighting nastily over who’d get the house and who’s turn it was to cook me dinner, I’d hide furtively in my room and draw.

I began with some of my favourite characters from TV shows and movies, like Futurama, Jason from the Friday the 13th movies or the Terminator. I tried drawing the singers from my favourite bands too, but I could never quite get Kurt Cobain or Billie Joe Armstrong’s face right.

Soon I grew bored and began making up my own characters, such as the Invincible Bug Man or the Diamond Brothers.

My best favourite character was Jerry Kewl, who looked a bit like Miles “Tails” Prower from the Sonic the Hedgehog video games, but only had one tail. I usually drew him wearing sunglasses, and he was a bit fat just like me, and his special power was that he could change his body into whatever shape he wanted which he would use to save the world from the Shadow Monsters.

I was in the middle of drawing a page where Jerry Kewl changes into an enormous tommy gun when a foreboding shadow fell over the page. It took me a moment to realise what had happened, and when I looked up I shouted, “Agh!” in surprise. It was the bully from the school gate! He’d found me when I was trying to hide and secretly draw and I could tell by his wicked smile that he had something unpleasant planned for me.

“Oh look, loser is reading comics like a baby!” he said maliciously. “What baby comic are you reading loser?” he asked meanly as he leaned down and snatched my sketchbook out of my hands.

“No, give it back!” I shouted protestingly but he was too quick and strong. I cringed and tried to hide under my arms as he began to flick through the book.

“Wow, look at this!” the bully said spitefully. “Jerry Kewl, the Kewlest Kid in the World.” He looked down at me and grinned wickedly. “Well, I’m the coolest kid at school, and do you know what that means?” he asked jeeringly.

“Yeah, what does it mean?” asked his friend sarcastically as he patted the bully on his back.

“It means this!” he laughed brutishly as he tore out the page of Jerry Kewl and tore it to pieces.

“No!” I shouted distressedly as the pieces of Jerry Kewl rained down on me like confetti.

“Don’t forget loser, I’m always the coolest kid!” the bully chortled savagely as he walked away with his friend, high-fiving and cackling with barbaric delight.

I was almost in tears as I scrambled on the ground, snatching up the pieces of my drawing. A few of the smaller pieces blew away in the wind, and I had to chase them across the playground to the whispered jeers of the other kids. I was biting back my sobs when I finally caught the last piece, tucking it securely with the other shreds into my sketchbook.


When I finally got home from the worst day of my life I rushed straight past my mum who was busy heating up some instant noodles in the microwave and into my room. I was still despaired.

Inside my room was already a mess, with open suitcases across the floor with my clothes tumbling out of them. I had only had time to put up two of my posters - Muse and Guns N’ Roses - but I’d flattened a cardboard box and balanced it across my knees to make a makeshift desk.

I hastily pulled out my sketchbook and placed it carefully on the desk, before opening it and cautiously beginning to remove the pieces of the drawing of Jerry Kewl. The bully had idiotically ripped them poorly, so I had trouble matching the edges properly and I began to almost sob again. Despite my attempts to be delicate some of the pieces were crumpled too, and one had a muddy footprint across most of it.

Finally, after a lot of patient work, I had put the pieces of Jerry Kewl back together again. Mindful to not carelessly jostle my improvised desk, I tentatively reached into my backpack and rummaged around in it until I found my roll of sellotape. Then with even more wary precision I began to tape the drawing of Jerry Kewl back together again.

It took even longer than it did to arrange the pieces but finally I had taped the drawing back into one piece. It looked horrible, and the taped together edges made it look like Jerry Kewl had been hurt badly in battle with the Shadow Monsters.

“I’m so sorry Jerry Kewl,” I said apologetically as I let my head fall down and buried my face in my hands.

“It’s okay,” squeaked Jerry Kewl comfortingly, “it wasn’t your fault, and you did your best.”

I looked up, mouth wide in shock and wonderment.

“What did you say?” I asked confusedly. “Did you just talk?”

Jerry Kewl began to move about the page, stretching his arms and legs and tail. I was flabbergasted.

“I did talk!” replied Jerry Kewl confidently as he began to twirl on the page.

“You can talk?” I asked amazedly.

“I can talk! I’ve always been able to talk, but I didn’t know if I could trust you to be my friend and keep my secret. Now I know you are a special kid!” replied Jerry Kewl happily.

“This is incredible!” I said joyfully.

“I’m so glad I can finally thank you for putting me back together after that dreadful bully tore me to tatters,” Jerry Kewl said gratefully.

“You shouldn’t be,” I replied sadly, “I wasn’t able to stop the bully from destroying your picture.”

“That’s okay,” Jerry Kewl replied reassuringly. “You did your best anyway, and besides,” he added mischievously, “I have an intelligent plan for teaching that bully a lesson he’ll never forget.” He winked at me from the page.

I began to smile as Jerry Kewl explained his clever plan, and before long I got to work as he watched.


The next day was agonizingly slow as I waited to put Jerry Kewl’s cunning plan into action. I had to endure the humiliation of being tripped up at the gate by the bully again. I then had sit through maths and english class again, which were excruciatingly painful and even worse than the previous day. I was yawning tiredly throughout the class because of how late I had stayed up.

The only thing filling me with any fortitude was the drawing of Jerry Kewl I had in my pocket, which I’d sneakily pull out and look at him winking with a proud thumbs up to encouragingly reassure me.

Finally it was science class, and once again I was left in solitude without a lab partner. This time however it suited me just fine, and we were barely five minutes into the class before I deliberately spilled the chemicals on me again.

“Oh no!” I shouted with what I hoped was convincing lying.

“Oh dear,” said the teacher disapprovingly when they saw what had happened. “You should go and clean yourself up right away.”

I grabbed my backpack and hurried out of the classroom, doing my best to persuasively act embarrassed. But instead of rushing to the bathroom, I pulled my sketchbook out of my backpack.

Inside it was the fruits of my labour the previous evening. At Jerry Kewl’s brilliant suggestion, I had spent the evening drawing the bully in all manner of humiliating situations.

I had drawn him jovially sucking his own thumb. I had drawn him euphorically jumping up and down in dog poo. I had drawn him smiling gladly after he had wet himself. I even drew a comic strip, each panel its own page ripped from my notebook of the bully clumsily picking his nose and gleefully eating the boogers he pulled out.

Moving rapidly to avoid being caught, I began taping the pictures up throughout the school. I began by the lockers, starting with the bully’s own locker, and then where the other popular kids’ lockers were. I stealthily creeped past the classrooms to leave drawings by the drinking fountains, and on the doors to the cafeteria. I even contemplated putting one on the door of the principal’s office, but I could hear Jerry Kewl buzzing warningly in my pocket and decided against that.

It took a long time, but soon I had taped every single embarrassing drawing up throughout the school.

“I hope this works Jerry Kewl,” I said hesitantly.

Suddenly the school bell rang, and I jumped in fright.

Soon the halls were full of students, and before long they began to notice the drawings. First there was a moment of befuddlement, and then a few titters of amusement. Before long there were more than a few peals of laughter echoing throughout the halls of learning.

“What is it? What’s going on?” roared the bully furiously as he elbowed his way through the chittering crowd.

“It’s you!” shouted one of the other kids mirthfully as others began to laugh and point at the bully.

“What?” yelled the bully angrily as he shoved one of the children aside roughly. “What?” he repeated dumbly. He stared at the drawing - one of him being painfully beaten up by a toddler - before tearing it off the locker.

“Who did this? Who? Stop laughing - stop it STOP IT!” he howled inflamed with rage.

I took a deep breath.

“You’ve got this buddy!” said Jerry Kewl hearteningly from my pocket.

“I did it!” I yelled out triumphantly.

My proclamation echoes throughout the corridors which became as quiet as the grave.

“I’ve shown everybody the kind of person you really are!” I continued jubilantly.

The entire corridor stood silently, shocked by my declaration.

The bully stared at me in bewilderment. I stared back, trying my best not to quiver from fear. It was like a duel from an old Western movie.

I blinked, and before I knew it the bully was running away ashamedly.

There was a moment of silence, and then suddenly the corridor erupted into cheers and yells. The other students rushed towards me, patting me on the back, laughing and shaking my hands. I had been the one to finally end the bully’s era of menace.

As they led me on a victory lap of the school, pointing and cheering each new drawing as we passed it, they continued to thank and congratulate me, but the best sound of all was the voice of Jerry Kewl coming from my pocket, mingling with all of my other new friends.

“You did it buddy! Yippee! Hooray! You did it!”

Apr 7, 2013

In. Gimme some flash.

Apr 7, 2013

Running Free
1,776 words
Flash rule: Parkour

Jenny caught up to Stewart as he joined the throng of students hurrying to the far end of the school.

“Heading down to watch the race?” she asked as she wrapped her arm around Stewart’s shoulders, pulling him off balance.

Stewart tried to smile back at her. “Yeah, Samantha and Peter are running. I thought I’d cheer them on.” He began to shrug Jenny’s arm off but the taller girl pulled him tighter.

“Bet you ten dollars they won’t win.”

Stewart sighed. “Of course they won’t. They’ve never done this before, and Robbie McCorkell has even been train–”

“Never heard of him,” Jenny interrupted.

“Really?” Stewart tried to keep pace with Jenny’s longer strides, still weighed down under her arm, annoyed at her interruption. “Tall kid in Snell, messy hair, looks a bit like Tom Holland?”

Jenny looked blankly at Stewart. They were passing the drab, grey huts of the temp block, and ahead was the rugby field that marked the start of the race. Stewart could clearly see Robbie McCorkell jogging in place amongst the others taking part and pointed him out.

“Nope, not ringing any bells. Doesn’t matter anyway, after today we won’t ever see him again – we’re done!” She grinned widely. “No more uniforms, no more sitting in class all day if we don’t want to–”

“No more assembly,” Stewart quickly added, trying to add his voice.

“Right, yeah! No more assembly!” Jenny was close to jumping ahead, dragging Stewart along with her. “We’ve just got to get through the holidays and then we’re off to Otago!”

“You know I still haven’t decided.”

Jenny gave him a gentle push as she unwrapped her arm. “Seriously? Come on, you’ve been thinking it over for what, three months? Do you honestly think you might prefer staying at home?” Her tone felt almost accusatory.

“I just want to be sure I pick what’s right for me,” Stewart replied quietly as he crossed his arms across his chest and stepped aside to let another student through, leaving some space between him and Jenny. They were almost right in the thick of the crowd now, the excited chattering and jostling enveloping them. Stewart tried to stop to say goodbye to some classmates, but Jenny dragged him on.

They were close to the front, and Stewart craned his neck to peer through the crowd. Samantha and Peter were standing near them, trying not to look too nervous as he gave them a quick wave. They smiled and waved back.

Jenny bumped against him with her shoulder and grinned. “Race me,” she said.

“What?” Stewart stared back in bewilderment.

“You heard me. Race me.” She leaned down uncomfortable close to his face. “If I win, we’re going to Otago together next year. If you win, you can stay up here by yourself but,” she raised a finger in front of Stewart, “you have to come down and visit every chance you get.”

What?” Stewart repeated, “You’ve got to be joking.”

“I’m not. Race me.” Jenny dropped her bag at her feet and pulled her sweater over her head.

“Neither of us could possibly win,” Stewart began.

“We’re not racing them,” Jenny replied jerking her head towards the racers, “just each other.”

“Do you have to do this?” Stewart protested. “Why can’t I just watch?”

“Oh come on! You and me. It’s just one race – and you finally making up your mind.” She turned back and grinned in his face again, gently shoving him. “Come on….”

“You know what, just, fine. I’ll do it.”

Stewart took his bag and sweater off while Jenny clapped her hands together.

“Yes! Come on, we haven’t got long,” she said as she grabbed Stewart’s wrist and began dragging him through the crowd,. Stewart tried to steady those she shoved aside, apologising for them both, until they broke through the edge and took their place next to Samantha and Peter who both looked surprised.

“Jenny put me up,” Stewart said and Peter smiled sympathetically.

“Yeah, that checks out. Feeling up to it?” He gestured to the path ahead of them.

“I guess,” was the most confident reply Stewart could give just as the teacher in charge took their place to start the race.

“Okay! Racers ready?” There was a loud cheer from the starting line, and an uncertain nod from Stewart. “Alright then. On your marks… Get set…. Go!”

The crowd gathered behind them let out a roar as they began sprinting up the hill by the side of the rugby field. The more athletic students cleared it easily while the less physically inclined scrambled behind them, tripping over the uneven ground, grasping the ground to keep upright. A few lost their balance, but Stewart and Jenny managed to reach the top without falling over.

Ahead the course wound itself between the school buildings, the path littered with desks and chairs. Already far ahead the fastest students were gracefully leaping over the obstacles, stepping across the backs of chairs that fell loudly to the ground as they passed. Stewart and Jenny reached the first obstacle neck and neck, Stewart ducking to crawl under the heavy table while Jenny used a stool to propel herself on top of it. The table shifted as she jumped off the far side, and Stewart pulled himself quickly to his feet, banging his arm against the table leg as it moved and swearing at the pain.

Jenny was just a few metres in front of him, trying not to trip herself up as she wound her way through a minefield of plastic chairs that went tumbling whenever she touched them. Another student on his right fell over, scattering the chairs and clearing enough space for Stewart to slip through and gain the lead.

The buildings grew narrow between the music and science blocks, where someone had tried to make things more exciting by laying a trail of bunsen burners across the path. Hopping easily over the wall of fire, Stewart leapt up onto the picnic table, gaining confidence as he ran quickly across it and leapt to the next, leapfrogging from one to the other. His arm stung but he felt untouchable, unbeatable as he easily cleared the tables and swung himself down to the ground from an overhanging beam. He let out a cheer of excitement and chanced a look behind him just as Jenny shoved past and sent him sprawling.

They had reached the far end of the school. Ahead Jenny had already leapt off the drop down to the lower paths by the gym, but Stewart chose to carefully lower himself down, not trusting himself to leap head first off the edge and costing him precious seconds. He rounded the corner to see the end of the path leading into the hill at the other end of the rugby field.

Jenny began to pull further away on the final stretch, leaping down the hill towards the finish line. Stewart leaned forward, trying desperately to catch up, pumping his arms faster, feet pounding the grass, gasping heavily with effort. His throat was parched and sweat was beading on his forehead as he pushed himself harder under the glare of the sun. He kept his eyes fixed on Jenny’s back, his arm still stinging, fists clenched, eyes fixed forwards, the impact of his feet on the ground jarring his bones with every step but still he couldn’t get any closer.

With a grunt he found a new, desperate burst of speed just as he reached the flat of the rugby field. The crowd had formed on either side into a long corridor, their cries and cheers deafening, and Jenny was already halfway down it, but Stewart didn’t slow down, not so close to the end, he was gaining on her, right at the finish line, almost close enough to grab her but it was too late and he came stumbling across barely moments after her, collapsing to the ground in exhaustion.

He could hear Jenny’s roars of triumph as he tried to pick himself up, bent over double, hands propping himself up against his knees, gasping heavily. He could feel bile building up in his throat and swallowed quickly to keep it down.

Jenny approached him, still bellowing loudly, and clapped Stewart’s back, nearly sending him stumbling to the ground.

“We did it! We actually did it! Oh man I feel incredible right now!” She pulled Stewart upright and into a tight hug while continuingly loudly in his ear, “We did it! Wasn’t that amazing?”

Still panting Stewart pushed himself free and took a step back. “I don’t think I’ll be doing that again,” he managed to gasp.

“Neither,” Jenny laughed. “That was rough. But,” and she flashed another wide smile, “I won. I beat you. Which means you’re coming with me!”

Stewart paused for a moment. Took a deep breath. Imagined driving his feet into the ground, and looked Jenny in the eye.


Jenny’s grin faltered.

“No,” Stewart continued, “I’m going to stay.”

Jenny’s grin faded entirely as she stared at Stewart. “No, that wasn’t the deal,” she said.

Stewart stood still, holding his arms tight against his side to stop them from shaking. “It wasn’t, but I made up my mind. I don’t want to go down–”

“Alright, weird time to decide but you’ll still come down and–”

“No, stop it! I don’t want to go to Otago with you.”

Jenny took a step back. “You don’t mean that.”

“Yes, I do,” Stewart replied softly. He took a careful step. “Look, you can be a great person, but everything’s always got to be your way. I don’t think I ever wanted to go to Otago, but you wouldn’t stop and listen for just one second.” He stopped and raised an arm halfway towards Jenny, before letting it drop to his side.

Stewart was close enough to see the tears in the corners of Jenny’s eyes, and began to feel his own welling up. “I don’t want to stop being your friend, but I do need some space. Do you get that?”

Jenny looked down at him, all elation gone and replaced with exhaustion. She took a deep breath before beginning, “I’m sorry, look if I was maybe a bit too much I can back off a bit, I can–”

“It’s okay,” Stewart continued. “Look, can we just leave it at that for now? Please? It’s our last day.”

Jenny paused to swallow. “Alright then. Sure. Let’s go. But,” she said as she turned to leave, “will you maybe still come to visit me during the break? Think about it?”

“I’ll think about it,” Stewart lied.

Apr 7, 2013

IN. I'll take some flash too, cheers!

Apr 7, 2013

In and :toxx: and flash please

Apr 7, 2013


Chili posted:

At least a portion of your story takes place on prom night!

The Most Magical Night Of Your Life
1,378 words

The first thing you should do when you suspect your prom has been cursed is confirm those suspicions.

After all, the captain of the football team doesn’t normally crash his beloved ‘74 Mustang right outside school, but accidents do sometimes happen. An accident seems less likely when there’s nothing wrong with the car or the driver and, as several people would later point out, even the road had recently been resurfaced. It hadn’t been raining, he didn’t swerve to avoid hitting a ball bouncing across the road, and nobody saw anything unusual or different. On an otherwise ordinary Tuesday morning Johnny Williams simply drove at speed into the brick wall out front, crushing the front of his car, breaking his left arm, and badly scratching his chin.

An isolated incident, no matter how strange, isn’t much cause for alarm and school gossip had already moved on to juicer topics when Timothy Walker drove his car into the exact same wall the next day, giving himself a matching set of injuries (although his car came off much worse. Nobody bothered to check on the wall).

Two events are strange, but no matter how improbable it simply isn’t enough to suggest any kind of pattern. Luckily it didn’t take much to convince Samantha to help me test out the idea I had ticking away.

“To be clear, you want me to do what tomorrow?” she hissed from the desk next to me.

I peered around to make sure nobody was listening, although everybody seemed more preoccupied in the very explicit health video being shown. “Just, drive past the school gates. At exactly 7.45.”

“To see if I crash.”


“Like Johnny and Timothy did.”


She crossed her arms, leaning back to kick the front legs of her chair off the ground. “Ten dollars,” she said.

“Deal,” I replied with a grin.


The next morning came around and I was waiting out front by 7.30. We’d already checked over her car and Samantha had driven up and down the block to be sure everything was working as expected. With no obvious problems we were set, and at exactly 7.45 Samantha drove past the wall without incident and made it halfway down the block again before all four of her tires burst.

This was good enough for me, although Samantha was obviously quite irate. Sporting a few new bruises, she managed to yell at me the entire half hour we waited for the tow truck to arrive, finally leaving after securing a promise to cover any and all costs involved in repairing her car (which I was sure she’d use to gouge me for more than just the cost of new tires).

Step one was complete. Curse confirmed. I could check that off, but suggesting something more sinister was going on at the prom committee meeting later that afternoon was met with confused laughter and a reminder to check that payments were up to date instead of, “going on a ghost hunt or whatever.”

That’s where I started. Vengeful spirit out for blood makes sense when you’re still awake at midnight skimming articles on black magic, but I quickly found out our school had an unfortunate dearth of exciting murders - as far as I could tell, the three students that had died all went out in exceedingly ordinary ways.

Branching out, I spent more free time than I care to admit researching witchcraft, voodoo, demon summoning - you name it, I probably at least skimmed the Wikipedia page. Things continued to go wrong at school, with no discernible pattern. Dresses tore as they were taken out of wardrobes to be admired or fitted, while the sparkling grape juice that had been ordered was misdirected and we received several crates of some kind of industrial solvent instead.

I got lost amongst the incense and crystals sold at the New Age store tucked off our town’s woefully inadequate high street even as half the planning committee came down with a rash. Samantha bought a tarot deck and tried to do a reading, but as far as she could tell, “a new or rekindled love affair was at hand.” Sounded like wishful thinking on her part.

The band we’d booked pulled out due to a triple booking, and since I didn’t have time to find a backup band we were forced to let some kid in 10th grade DJ on his dad’s kit for us instead. It did finally get them to stop pestering us every day so I count that as a success personally. Check!

Back to the ghost hunt then. Couldn’t convince Samantha to join me on that one, so I broke in to school alone and spent a restless night creeping through the corridors, jumping every time a car drove past. The next morning, slapping myself to stay awake, I heard that somebody had sliced off their finger in home ec.

Got fired from the planning committee a week before prom itself. Something about not doing what I was asked, wasn’t paying attention really. Only a matter of days before somebody was severely injured. Or maybe the school would burn down. I’d taken to eyeing everybody suspiciously, as if staring from bleary eyes would force them to confess. Mostly I was just left alone.

Samantha bailed on me too. Stopped answering my texts and wouldn’t even look at me when I threw a pen at her in class. If she was next that wouldn’t be on me.


Nearly a week of late nights and garbled days flew. Prom night. My backup backup dress was undamaged. Check. I arrived hours early, prowling the school hall looking for anything out of the ordinary, anything strange, something unusual, that didn’t fit, didn’t belong, something I could act on.

All the lightbulbs had been replaced the night before, a box of spare fuses left by the fusebox. Oiled the doors, cleared any potential obstruction. Banners and the few hanging decorations remaining secured meticulously. Check check check.

Sidled up to the door and tried to search everybody as they arrived, was promptly kicked out. I’d have to let that slide for now. Luckily several backdoors had been left open. I got back in just in time for the kid DJ to start playing and the power didn’t fail. Good. Check check. The kid wasn’t terrible either. Check for them.

Watched as everybody began to dance, and nobody tripped up or slipped or stamped on a rusty nail. Check. Tried the punch and didn’t immediately choke, but at some point it had clearly been spiked. This is why I should have been allowed to search everybody, but trying to make that point clear got me kicked out again. First backdoor was closed now, but the window into the changing rooms had been left untouched. Good, check, well done.

Window was tricky to squeeze through. Not as much room to move, should have practiced with all four dresses. Tumbling through I nearly hit my head as I fell to the floor. Not good. Dress was intact and I was uninjured though. Carefully pulled myself up, leaning against the wall for support. Took a step forward and lost my balance, grabbing the shower handle on the way down.

Sitting on the wet tiles, I realise what’s happening and begin to laugh. I try to stand up again, slow and careful, and slip before getting anywhere. Got it. It’s my turn.

Start laughing quietly before remembering how much danger I was in. Last accident I’d heard of was that finger food one, so if I tried to stand I’d probably snap my neck. Sloped floor would pull me back towards the drain if I tried to shimmy away too.

The muted thud of music reaches all the way through to here. Nobody can hear me, and why would they bother to come looking? No choice but to wait until the end of the night. Until the end of prom.

A successful prom.

No more accidents. If I just sit here, nothing else will happen. Everyone will be safe. I’ll have a whole year to figure this out. I laugh again, loud and long this time as I make myself comfortable beneath the shower and settle in to wait.

Apr 7, 2013

Clocking in, what am I selling today boss?

Apr 7, 2013

Thanks for the crits UP and Mrenda, much appreciated :)

Apr 7, 2013

Hell yes I'm IN, prior plans be damned. I'll take some flash too

Apr 7, 2013

In and :toxx: for failing the last two times. I'll toxx next time too.

Gimme a song please.

Apr 7, 2013

Eviction Notice
1,485 words
Spent Gladiator 2

It took three hundred and forty-seven days to evict James Hegarty.

The first notice arrived tucked in between his bank statement and a reminder to attend a ‘Get Work Fit’ course. It was a short, unassuming letter, handwritten on printer paper that said his landlord regretted the circumstances but required James to move out within forty-two days.

James read it in his kitchen while holding a mug of tea close to his chest. He blinked, bleary-eyed in the cold morning, reading it over again in silence. Cars driving past outside, taking his neighbours on their morning commute sounded muted, like they were far away and disappearing into the distance. His hands were shaking slightly by the time he dropped the letter in the bin and he left the kitchen in a rush, as if putting as much distance between him and the letter could make some kind of difference.

He spent the next week shuffling around the flat, listlessly trying to clean the mugs in the kitchen or tidy the dirty laundry from his bed. He’d remember the notice every five minutes, or at least it felt that often to him, and he’d chew his fingernails as he tried to think of a response. Some way to ask for a reprieve without sounding like he was begging. Some way to demand he be allowed to stay. Some better explanation, some reason why he was being tossed out.

All he knew is that he could not leave. He could not afford the bond on a new place, could not afford what would likely be a higher rent, could not afford the movers or a truck or even the petrol to check out new places. Unemployment had hit him hard, drained all his savings and then some. He didn’t even have enough left to heat the flat in the middle of winter. This place had been good to him, and while things hadn’t exactly been pleasant they’d been bearable. That was about to be taken away from him, at the whims of somebody else.

Those forty-two days began to constrict around James with each restless night. Every morning he’d wake up and be reminded that he was getting kicked out. Every evening he’d lie in his bed, staring down the ceiling and desperately searching for a way out. He’d imagine getting into arguments with his landlord, yelling at him until he was permitted to stay, until he got an apology. These would run around his head for most of the day, pitting him against an imagined adversary that he couldn’t turn off in his head.

* * *

It was a week before he was due to leave when his landlord, Anthony, sent him a message. Much like the letter it was brief. It just said that he was going to stop by the next morning if that was fine -that it wasn’t an inspection or anything like that, and he wasn’t going to ask to come inside.

James’ reply was even briefer. “Okay, see you then.” He still couldn’t think of something to say, and he was furious.

He’d been awake for hours when the doorbell finally rang. As James opened the door Anthony stepped back to give him space. Anthony was only dressed in jeans and a grey sweater, but he stood in stark contrast to James’ tattered dressing gown and stubble. His smile faltered as he took in James’ appearance. They stood there on opposite sides of the doorway for a long moment before Anthony spoke up.

“Hey James, how are you doing?” he asked, polite and trying to sound chipper.

Yeah, I’m doing alright thanks,” James replied.

“Good, yeah that’s good.”

Both men stood looking past each other - James gripping the handle of the door, Anthony fidgeting with his car keys.

Anthony finally broke the silence again. “Listen, I just wanted to check in on you. I know it’s not ideal, asking you to move out and that’s never fun, but my daughter just got out of hospital, and we’ve got her at our place for now but she really needs a place of her own, y’know?” He paused to take a breath, the cheer gone from his voice.

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to kick you out. You’ve done nothing wrong, but I’ve got to help my daughter out. You understand that, right?”

As Anthony spoke James’ grip on the door handle grew tighter, the sharp metal edges digging into his palm. It hardly registered to him. All his attention was on Anthony.

“Sure. But I can’t leave.”

To his credit it took Anthony barely a moment to recover. Only a brief flash of puzzlement across his face indicated that he wasn’t expecting that response.

“No, yeah, I get that moving is difficult and I can maybe give you another two weeks to get things together but-”

“No. it’s just not possible.”

“Come on, it’s my daughter-”

“And it’s my life. I can’t just move out.” James’ voice was steady, barely containing his anger. “I don’t have anywhere else to go. I don’t have any money to go anywhere else. I will not be discarded just because your kid can’t find a place to stay.”

“That’s unfair!” Anthony snapped back. “She just got out of hospital, she’s not up to finding her own place yet. So I’m going to let her stay here while she recovers. Got that? Look, I’ll give you three more weeks, okay?”

“I can’t!” James yelled back. “I just can’t. I have nowhere I can go, I just don’t. I’m not lying, and I’m not leaving.”

Anthony began to step away, trying to make eye contact with James. “Three weeks, James. That’s all I can do for you. I’ll drop the letter off later, make it official.”

He turned to leave, and had almost made it back to his car when James finally slammed the door closed.

* * *

True to his word Anthony dropped off the second notice an hour later. James watched him through his bedroom window, not moving as his landlord hurried from his car to the letterbox. When he drove away he finally released the breath he didn’t realise he’d been holding.

He was still angry, still completely lost. He knew he was being unreasonable, but what other choice did he have? He didn’t have the luxury of being able to pack up at somebody else’s whim. More than anything else, that’s the point he kept coming back to in his imagined confrontations - that he had no choice, no chance to ask for help.

He left the second notice on the floor by the front door. A week later Anthony drove by again - James saw him pull up, but he stayed in his car, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. A few days later another letter arrived, thicker, the address scribbled messily across the envelope. It got left on the floor too.

The weeks slipped past. James felt like he was suffocating in the flat, spending all day trying to think up a way out. More letters began piling up - bank statements, credit card statements, more eviction notices, each more official than the last. He hadn’t tried applying for a new job in months, the employment websites blurring together whenever he did look. He was running close to the edge, surviving on a meager handout.

He packed up his stuff, and then unpacked it again. He ignored requests to appear before the tenancy tribunal. Anthony stopped by one last time, to shout through the door that the police would have to get involved before long, almost pleading with him. He didn’t hear a thing. Anything outside the door was too far away to hear.

He wandered from room to room. The flat began to feel smaller, stifling. The pressure to leave, to just quit and be done with it was building with every day. He was months past when he should have left, he knew he should have left, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

On day three hundred and forty-seven he knew that he’d had enough. Everything on his bed he threw into a suitcase. Toiletries, what food that hadn’t gone off when the power was disconnected, and an old book went into his backpack. He had few personal mementos, some photos of distant family, but it all could fit into a plastic bag, and everything went into the back of his car. Everything that was left, he decided, Anthony could deal with. He didn’t even bother to close the door on the way out. The flat wasn’t his place any more. It had been ruined for him. You couldn’t expect him to live in a place like that. As the engine of his car came to life, his eyes dropped to the fuel gauge hovering just above empty. He didn't know where to go. Just where to leave behind.

Apr 7, 2013

In for Team Corvid

And :toxx: as promised for failing twice in a row.

Apr 7, 2013

Under Snow at Night
1,129 words
Team Corvid

The raven watched the deer carcass carefully with glossy eyes. It must have been lying in the snow for weeks, and other scavengers had picked it clean. She hopped over to one of the bones, cracked open and covered in small gnaw marks. A fox had been here—maybe the same one she flew over yesterday. She didn’t see many these days.

She stepped closer to its ribcage. A few strings of gristle still clung to the bones but they were frozen hard and she couldn’t tear them off. She pecked at some loose tufts of fur and found nothing. Her belly ached as she looked around, nervously twitching her head. Nothing edible remained. She needed to move on.

She flew south—gliding almost to the treetops before flapping her wings again, trying to preserve what little energy she had. A lonely silhouette against grey clouds. The beating of her wings was the only sound. The cold surrounded her, filled her bones.

* * *

She flew for hours. Fields passed endlessly as she searched for tracks but the skeleton trees hid nothing. The afternoon was nearly gone, the sun falling towards the horizon, when a glint of silver caught her eye.

She turned her head and dipped her wings, diving towards a tree standing alone at the edge of a field. Landing softly on a branch she saw it again—something metallic, and big. A car, half-buried under the snow.

The raven dropped from the branch, scattering snow on the ground with a light patter and glided over to the bonnet. She scraped some ice away from the windshield with her beak and saw two figures slumped inside. She straightened in excitement, more alert, more focused. She’d found something.

Tapping her beak firmly against the glass she realised it was too strong to break. She hopped onto the roof and found no tears in the metal but she could see a slight gap at one of the doors. Cautiously the raven stepped closer, twisting her head from side to side. It was slightly ajar, but not enough for her to squeeze through. She fluttered over to the edge and peered around again, looking for something she could use. She was certain there had to be something. There always was when she needed it most. There were several branches lying beneath the tree. In a hurry she spread her wings and glided closer.

The raven tried each branch with her claws. The first few were rotten, or too thin, and she tossed them aside until she found one that seemed sturdy enough. It was heavy to carry, dragging it in an awkward hop through the snow. Laying the branch alongside the car she picked up the end closest to the door in her beak and stepped closer. She had to be careful. Slowly she wedged the end of the branch into the gap. It stuck. She croaked in excitement and quickly moved her beak further down, gripping it again, driving it further into the gap in the door, bit-by-bit shoving it further in until it wouldn’t budge.

She paused. The sun was casting long shadows across the ground. She had kicked up piles of snow as she worked and her wings were heavy with the weight of melted snow. It was getting colder. She beat her wings slowly, once, then twice, exhausted, shaking water from them and stepped to the opposite end of the branch. The raven grasped it firmly in her beak and pulled. Her claws scrambled for purchase on the cold dirt. Step-by-step she dug her claws in, pulling as hard as she could, biting down on the branch so hard she feared it would snap. The car door wouldn’t move. She kept pulling, straining harder, the branch bending wildly, and slowly felt the door begin to shift. Barely at first, the success gave her a burst of energy and she flapped her wings, putting her entire body into it, feeling the gap in the door widen with every step until it was big enough for her to drop the branch and dart through in a flurry of black wings.

Inside the car it was dark and musty. The raven was perched on the leg of one of the corpses, tts skin shrunken tightly around its skull. It had barely rotted in the cold—she croaked in excitement as she realised the eyes were still intact and darted forward, tearing the eyelid before plunging her beak into the socket. The eye was soft, and cold, and delicious. She choked it down and tore out the other, swallowing it quickly. She plucked at the lips next, then pushed her beak into its mouth to reach the tongue. Teeth clacked against the raven’s beak as she ate her fill.

She hopped back again, poking her head out the door. The sun had set. If she continued to eat the stench of blood was sure to attract scavengers. Maybe not tonight, but soon. She puffed her throat feathers as if to warn them off. This belonged to her.

She twisted around and jumped back onto the nearest body. Holding its jacket firmly in one claw she tore into it with her beak and scattered shreds of fabric and down as she exposed the soft flesh of their bellies. The skin broke easily but instead of feasting the raven tore off a morsel of liver and held it in her beak as she climbed out of the car.

The air was still. The raven fluttered her wings as she hopped her a short distance away from the car where she plunged her beak into a snowdrift and buried her prize. She drew her head back sharply, turning to look around the field. Nothing. She was alone—and safe.

* * *

It took several hours to bury the corpses piece-by-piece. While there was still plenty of soft meat on their bones she had hidden enough to fill her belly for at least another week. Satisfied with her work she picked up a small twig and carefully dragged it along to ground to cover any tracks she had made. Some blood had dripped from her beak, staining the snow. Gliding in a slow circle overhead she disregarded the spots of crimson. They were thickest around the car, where the carcasses were.

The raven scanned the ground carefully. She had been meticulous and couldn’t see anything to betray her work. She cawed once to herself, breaking the silence. She was pleased. The night air didn’t feel as cold with a full belly.

She landed on the tree. Her feathers gleamed in the moonlight. Her eyes were bright as she murmured happily to herself. Nothing moved. The trees were still. She let her head drop forward and closed her eyes. Within seconds she was asleep.

Apr 7, 2013

In, 6. Gimme the goods!

Apr 7, 2013

Damnit, I'm IN with SHE against my better judgement this week, and :toxx: for my shameful failure last week.

Apr 7, 2013

Fragile Broken Things
997 words

There’s an angel just outside town, if you know where to look. You have to push through the brush outside the south gate. You’re aiming for the branch of lightning frozen out over the gully. Keep your eyes down and watch your step and eventually you’ll reach the cliff. The rocks are loose here so get down on your hands and knees, and if you’re careful and crawl to the edge and peek over you can see the angel lying at the bottom.

They come and stare at me from time to time. I can hear them long before they stretch their heads out far above me. They gawk at me. I am merely an amusement, something to distract them from their brief lives. Some are scared, or awed. Some are angry, and yell their fury at me until it falls apart.

It doesn’t look anything like what angels are supposed to look like. It’s tall, and pale, and it has wings but no feathers, just these scarred things of flesh sticking out from its back. For as long as anybody can remember it’s never moved. It’s just lain there at the bottom of the gully, like a broken doll.

Man revered us for a time. When Heaven broke open and we were scattered across the Earth we were hailed as saviors, but as the months passed and the world continued to die they turned on us. We were cast out of their cities, and in the wilder lands we were attacked. Our bones were shattered and did not mend. Our wings were plucked and did not regrow. We bled and stained the dirt for years to come.

It looks so alone from up here.

We were left where we fell.

We aren’t supposed to talk about the angel. There’s so much we aren’t allowed to do, and we have to be taught every single one before we’re even allowed to step outside. Too much of a risk we’ll look up at the sky, or step somewhere we shouldn’t. There’s always somebody that doesn’t listen. That helps the rest of us understand soon enough.

How they survive astonishes me. They are such fragile, broken things and yet even as the world dies, as their hardship increases tenfold they thrive. I can hear them singing and playing from here, and I am glad that there is still some beauty.

We try to care for those that don’t listen, but it’s difficult. Some things out there will just hurt you, or kill you if you aren’t careful, but there are things out there that will drive you insane. Sometimes people come back and they just won’t talk, won’t do anything unless you help them. Even in ruins, it seems like Heaven is too much for us to look at. We can only catch glimpses of it instead, reflected in murky puddles.

One day they will die, and they accept this fate with such strength. I envy them this. They are never truly alone, or scared, even with all that this world has stacked against them.

I could only sneak away so often to see it. Too much to keep me busy, and that was when things were good for us. I could spend months away at times.

There was one whose face I recognised. He came more often than any other, although sometimes years would pass before I saw him again. He looked older and more haggard every time.

I tried talking to it once, when I was a lot younger. I didn’t want to yell in case somebody heard me, but I had to raise my voice to carry it far enough into the gully. I was shaking, I was so sure I’d be caught. I’m not even sure what I had planned to say. You can’t exactly ask an angel how it’s day has been.

He spoke to me once. All I did was watch the skies.

I’m not sure it heard me. It just lay there, expressionless. After a while I stopped calling out to it and just lay there, staring down.

I wanted to reply. I wanted to cry out. I wanted to know everything he knew.

I still wish it had replied. It’s so much older than any of us—it must have seen things we can’t even imagine. What the stars looked like, or the moon. We only have stories of them now.

He must have travelled so far.

It must remember so much.

I wish I could see what he can.

I haven’t visited in years. I was angry at it I guess, just lying there and not saying a thing. Weren’t they supposed to help us?

Eventually even he stopped coming. I think he must have died. I hope it was peaceful.

We had to help ourselves instead. Had to do our best to survive without them.

Every time I blink now it feels like years pass.

I must be the only one that remembers where it is now.

Decades, even.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you all this. I’ll probably just get us both in trouble.

The village nearby must have moved on.

You probably know what I’m thinking.

I close my eyes again and hear a noise.

Please don’t stop me.

I almost miss it, it has been so long.

I can’t just leave it there any longer.

But they are not stopping at the cliff’s edge.

Nothing deserves to be discarded like that.

Someone is climbing down to me.

I should have done this years ago.

I know him.

I hope it isn’t too heavy.

Why has he come?

I hope it’s still there.

He touches my face so gently.

I hope I still remember the way.


The climb down should be easy.

He cannot hope to carry us both out.

Getting back out will be difficult.

He will fall.

But I won’t fall.

He will kill himself.

I’ll get us both out of there.

I promise.

Apr 7, 2013

In, obviously. Give me some good flash!

Apr 7, 2013

A Drop of Venom
1,426 words
Flash rule: Snake Song

Maree beats her fist against the steering wheel in time with her heartbeat. It’s late, or maybe it’s early—that half-formed hour when honest souls should be asleep. She never pays attention to the time, only distance, clocking up the miles of dust between her and a town poor enough to afford a name and nothing else. Outside the streetlights cast a pale, orange glow on the cab of her truck. She doesn’t look healthy—doesn’t feel too healthy either. She’s starting to crash, her eyes twitching and drifting out of focus. She still has a bit of glass left in the glovebox she’s itching to use, but it wouldn’t be wise in front of the the kid.

She wrings the wheel between her hands as she glances over at him. He’s pressed up against the passenger door, a battered canvas backpack on the chair next to him. There’s a tag hanging from the bag with a name she can’t read. He’s a small kid, the sort you’d call wiry if you were being kind. She had picked him up a few hundred miles back. He was either running away from, or towards, something—Maree reckons the latter, though she doesn’t care much either way. She could tell he’s the kind that sinks between the gaps.

He catches her looking, and Maree can see him try out a question on his lips before he speaks up in a quivering voice.

“Is there anything on the radio?”

Maree shrugs. “Nah. This far out there ain’t much I care to listen to.” Her voice is low, her breath thick with the stench of river rot.

Nearly a mile passes in silence before he finds the nerve to speak up again.

“What about the cassette player?”

She looks over and sees him pointing at the dashboard. “Nah. Broken.”

“Oh,” he replies, and slumps against the door again.

“You could talk,” she says disinterestedly. “Help keep me focused.” She didn’t plan to listen. She never did bother. She wasn’t lying about it helping her focus, but then she didn’t mean the road.

He was fidgeting with the strap of his bag, trying not to look directly at her. “What, like, talk about myself?”

“Sure.” The headlights picked out a sign by the side of the road. Nearly a hundred miles to the nearest town worth mentioning.

He begins to chatter in fits and starts as her mind drifts to the leather pouch tucked under her leg. The little syringe inside was down to its last few drops now. She’d been rationing it out carefully for weeks. Should still be enough.

Maree rolls down her window. The night air is warm. Her truck is kicking up a steady cloud of dust. She can feel every bump in the road, every shift in the truck, every vibration. Sometime tomorrow, she smiled to herself. She sped up slightly, eager for the next day to arrive. Behind her she left only a rancid stench.

* * *

With the morning came an unbearable heat. Thick and sticky, with every laboured breath Maree can smell the tar melting on the road. Bugs flatten themselves against the windshield, and the few that make it into the cab are swiftly swatted by Maree.

Her puffy eyes flit back and forth, jaw slack in the heat. The kid has passed out next to her, sprawling over his seat. His head hangs to one side. His neck lies proffered towards her. She licks the sweat from her lips and begins to slow the truck. The kid doesn’t shift. Carefully she pulls the pouch out of her picket and lays it across her lap. Her eyes dart to the oversized mirrors—nothing behind her for miles. The road ahead is empty too.

Slowly Maree unzips the pouch. Strands of greasy hair fall across her face as she glances down to see the plunger of her syringe. The truck has almost slowed to a halt. The kid lies still.

A loud thump from the container behind her jolts them both upright as Maree slams on the brakes. Another thump rattles the cab, then a third, a steady beating of something inside the container. The kid flinches away from her, his bag clutched like a shield.

“What the gently caress? There’s something in there!” It comes rushing out in a panic as he scrambles for the door handle.

Maree beats her fist against the steering wheel, her mind desperately searching. The pouch lies on her lap still—deftly she flicks it to one side, past her leg.

The kid is hyperventilating, swearing between gulps of air. Maree narrows her eyes at him—he looks like a dumb critter, trapped, panicking, and fumbling for an escape.

“Shut it!” she yells at him. “It’s probably just a racoon or something. Must’ve got in through the hatch up top when we stopped.”

The thumping continues, unwaveringly steady.

“Shut it,” she repeats forcefully, “I’m going to take a look. Just stay there, alright?”

She opens her door and hops out, kicking up a cloud of dust as she lands. She circles around the front of the truck to the kid’s side, and keeps one eye on his door as she walks steadily to the back.

She steps carefully in time with the bangs. Her heart is pounding but she keeps her breathing steady. Between each thump she can hear the buzzing of hundreds of flies.

Maree reaches the back of the container and stops to brush the greasy hair out her face. She checks the pouch she grabbed on her way out—the syringe is still there, still intact. This isn’t going as she had planned at all.

She hears a door opening up front and for the first time Maree swears. She can hear the kid coming, his jittery scuffling out of time with the beating inside.

Maree narrows her eyes. No time to make a decision. She has to rely on instinct.

As soon as the kid comes into reach she grabs him by the collar and pivoting her body swings him around, smashing him headfirst into the tail light. Red glass shatters as his body goes limp, and she grabs the back of his head, pulling it back to smash it again, and again, driving broken glass into his forehead and spraying blood across the back of the truck.

The banging inside stops.

Maree drops the kid’s body to the dust. It lies with one arm splayed underneath it, blood dripping from its skull smashed open like an egg. She’s panting heavily, sweat dripping from her forehead. Inside the container there’s only buzzing, and a bloated, rotten smell.

No time to pause. She pulls the syringe out from its pouch with a practiced motion, and clambers up to open the container. The smell intensifies. The floor is covered in distended corpses, eyes agape, tongues lolling from their slack faces. On every neck a puncture wound. As she stalks silently towards the far end they become increasingly rotten, limbs stretched out on shreds of skin and tendons from the tossing of the truck.

Through the haze of flies she can see a figure cowering like a mouse against the wall. It starts screaming and she grimaces. She must have been too cautious with her venom before. She wouldn’t make that mistake again.

* * *

It’s late at night again. Hotter than the previous one. Maree is walking along the road, a battered canvas backpack over her shoulder. Everything else is gone. She had felt the briefest pang of regret as she shed the truck a few miles back. She’d driven so far with it, so nearly full, but time had come to leave it behind. A broken tail light was too much trouble to fix with an empty wallet.

Somebody would open it sooner or later. She planned on being far away by that point, somewhere nobody would bother looking her way.

She hears the truck coming long before her shadow is cast in front of her by its headlights. It slows to a halt just ahead of her. Her footsteps pound a steady rhythm as she approaches the open passenger door and climbs inside. The truck is already moving before she slams the door.

The driver doesn’t say a word. Neither does she. She glances over—he’s older than she is, judging by the greying hair under a denim cap. Sharp eyes on the road ahead. His mouth is slightly ajar, and she can see pointed teeth in his grin. She leans against the passenger door, and places the canvas backpack on the chair next to her.

Apr 7, 2013

In as a sexy vampire


Apr 7, 2013

In and :toxx: because I'm sure I probably need to and it's been forever anyway

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