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ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


in

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ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


For the Millionth Time, Be Careful What You Wish For
1273 words

Simon sat on the doorstep, his shoes flashing as he clicked his heels. The sky was chalk blue and wavering in summer heat, full of clouds strung out into long wriggling wisps. From the heat shimmering horizon at the ends of his vision where the sidewalk and asphalt pinched into a single point, there was a gleam of metal, and Simon leaned out to the very edge of his seat, wiggling his fingers and willing it to be.

“Be the mail. Beeee the mail.”

It took seventeen wishes, three red and two blue and one powder blue, two butter yellow, one ugly beige, four beetle green, a black car like a hearse that belonged to old Miss B., and his parents -

“Howdy Simon.”

“Yeah.”

“How was your day Simon?”

“Yeah.”

- before it WAS and Simon rolled off the edge of his seat onto the soles his sneakers with a clap, running forward to take the package from the mailman’s hands, and heading through the doors past the gauntlet of nagging from his parents up the stairs to his room and his bed -

He paused to breathe in the cardboard smell of new Things.

- and tearing open the packaging to extract from the death-clamp of bubblepak a Wish-A-Wand Really Works As Seen On TV No Batteries Necessary.

It was slender black plastic capped with white and utterly unimpressive. It came with a small manual that was, as Simon flipped open the first and only page, a dissapointment.

‘Be careful what you wish for.’

There was a knock on his door. “Simon?”

“Would you just go away!”

---

The next night Simon and all his friends were clustered around the glow of the screen, faces pale-lit, eyes aching, chip fragments ringing their mouths, the impressions of the boxy controllers’ edges pressed red into the skin of their hands.

“So when are your parents coming back?” Matthew was affably fat, like the ur model that all other pudgy, glasses-wearing demi-Milhouse kids were following; he asked questions and he meant them, not like Simon’s parents, who he knew only bothered out of some vague sense of parental responsibility.

“Maybe later.”

“Maybe?” Matthew’s eyebrows went up.

“I bet his parents ditched out. I heard this one kid, his parents just packed up and left, and a week later he realizes they aren’t coming back.” Chris was the con of Matthew, the flipside of the coin. Tall, handsome, jerk. Too much asthma to be a bully. Altogether they were more or less friends, or at least willing to settle for each other out of a lack of better options.

“Shut it.”

“I’m just saying.” Chris balled up a chip wrapper and shot for the trash. When he missed, they booed and he shrugged and nobody went to pick it up.

---

“Hey, wanna come over again?” Simon leaned across the aisle of the bus to grab Matthew’s shoulder. His house loomed outside the bus windows, dark and empty.

“Uhh…” Matthew made desperate eyes to Chris, who leaned over the top of the bench seat.

“Dude.” Chris said. “We’ve been over four times, and your house is a mess. When are your parents coming back?”

“Did they really ditch you?” Matthew asked.

“No!” Kids at the back were starting to yell for Simon to leave, go, get lost, but he stuck around a second longer to sneer. “They’ll come back when I let them.”

---

When the bus rolled off Simon was left alone with his empty house, going room to room grasping carefully through each doorway and finding the light switches by blind groping, banishing the possibility of monsters lurking behind each darkened threshold.

There were too many possibilities lately. Simon’s brush with magic had only left him feeling less powerful than before, drowning in a world where anything could be real, especially things that scared him. Roaches scuttled from the piles of trash, chip wrappers skittering across the floorboards as the fans came on. Every movement was a split second nightmare and a dawning relief. The creak of the house settling as the heat of day rolled into night had always been comforting before.

Simon found the TV and buried himself as deep as possible in fantasy, sitting hunched over the controller, but there was no running. His mind refused to click with Super Mario Bros and slide out of joint with reality. The stairs loomed in the corner of his vision.

It was time to use the wand again. It was time to get his parents back.

The stairs creaked all the way up and down from his room. “Light,” Simon whispered, and the wand began to glow as he headed for the basement. Faint croaking echoed up the rickety wooden stairs. The light switch was on the very bottom, and somehow, the pale glow of the wand with its shifting indefinite colors, so much like the light of a TV seen projected against a far wall, provided very little comfort.

Step by step, Simon braved his way down. Glossy amphibian eyes stared at him accusingly from an upside-down fish tank.

“Mom, dad. I’m gonna let you turn back into people, but…” Simon’s eyes were going shimmery and hot at the edges. “You’ve gotta promise not to be mad!”

---

“Hey, whaddaya know. They came back!” Matthew tucked his hands in his jacket pockets and whistled. The house was clean, and smelled of Lysol, Simon’s mom clattering away in the kitchen. Only Simon was still out of whack, with deep circles under his eyes.

“Hoo boy, I bet you got whoooooped when they saw that mess.” Chris slapped him on the shoulder as he ambled past towards the kitchen.

“Matthew, I’ve gotta-” But Simon didn’t get to finish his sentence before Chris had started to shout and wail.

“Holy poo poo. Holy loving poo poo!” He came out of the kitchen running, bashing against the wall and upsetting the little side table with the phone which began to buzz in a harsh mechanical tone as it spilled to the floor with a crash and came off the hook.

“Now, honey-”

“Get that thing away from me!”

Simon’s Mom was coming out of the kitchen. The Mom kind of skittered along the edges of the wall, never fully in view, a bland smile on its face. It made the rattling of plates and the hum of a vacuum cleaner as it came out, fuzzy and out of focus. It was if The Mom could only exist at the edges of things, always there but never given much attention. A long distorted arm stretched out, ending a in a broom, and swept the fallen telephone into a fleshy scoop of a hand.

“Jesus loving shiiiit.” Chris was going for the door. Matthew got one look at The Mom and was ready to follow, but Simon tackled him to the ground and pinned him there, slapping him.

“It’s not going to hurt you! It’s my Mom!’

“That thing is not your mom!” Matthew shouted, decorating Simon’s face with spittle, and Simon began to cry.

“Play nice now.” It said in its toneless, vaguely happy voice, retracting back into the kitchen.

“Yes, yes it is! I- I got this wand, and I wished them into frogs, and I thought it would be as easy as wishing them back but-” He was blubbering now, and had Matthew pinned under a rain of tears. “But it wasn’t. I couldn’t just make it go back I had to figure out how to put them together and- and I think I missed something!”

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


newtestleper posted:

Count your nuggets before they’re dipped
460 words.

Des Drummond stood behind the counter and surveyed his cathedral of plastic, glass and brown tile. The carpenters had been out for a week, and the shiny franchisee from Auckland had retird to his room at the Park Royal for the night, on Les’s dime of course. It was silent, but he could feel an ancient electrical pressure in his ears, like the sound inside a seashell. He took off his shoes and laid them on the counter, as if the click of his heels on ceramic crack the place in two. Gosh this feels nice. I can feel the 'mall at night' vibe hard, and future-echoes of how this place will probably abandoned in a few years. Typos aside, I can't figure out who the 'shiny franchisee' is. Not Des, obviously.
He felt tender. A few steps away, behind the fizzy machine - the soda fountain - was a button that would illuminate the acrylic tower outside, cast the light of his humming yellow beacon across an island. He hadn’t let them test it. His was the first McDonald's in Christchurch. His. The touch of meanness to his possessive feelings make Des feel real here, as does the 'fizzy machine'

It had taken Des a while to develop a taste for the food. The mayonnaise and bread were too sweet, the cheese like yellow rubber. They couldn’t make a boiled egg. And why you’d need dehydrated onions when they were ten cents a pound down at Neville’s he didn’t know. He didn’t know what that was in kilograms - that was one thing the yanks got right. He still preferred a roast on Sundays, but he could stomach a cheeseburger, quite liked the battered chicken pieces called nuggets, and had no qualms eating a medium fries all to himself. Nah. This whole paragraph is nah for me.

But he was nothing if not practical, and if there was anything that carpet manufacturing had taught him it was the value of getting stuck in, of knowing your business better than the next fellow. He knew a correctly dispensed ice cream - soft-serve - as well as a nicely cut multi-level pile. He knew a Big Mac from a McFeast. He slid one foot over the floor as he stalked the dining room on his final check, feeling the places where errant specks of mortar snagged the fibres of his sock. This one is good. More quiet feels with the socks getting snagged, more of Des' officious nature emerging, his old-man generalizations followed by insistent corrections.

The opening would be grand. Tomorrow a baying crowd of Linwood barbarians would be unleashed upon his red-capped regiment of servers and cooks. He puffed out his chest with confidence and pride in the perky youngsters that he’d trained. Never had his work chairing the board of the Lion’s club been so richly rewarded as when he saw the speed with which they constructed and packaged quarter pounders. ahahaha. You have captured the essence of the Lion's club.

Wool prices were falling, and carpet profits were rising. But the business of flooring had taught him never to stand still. The world wouldn’t leave Des Drummond behind. He locked the doors behind him, looked up at the great, dark golden arches, breathed in deep, and strode across the car park, shoes still in his hands. I was ready for no conclusion to this story, so it doesn't bother me. This is private, sad, and sweet, even though I don't like the main and only character at all. It's a good portrait piece and, hey, for under 500 words, I don't at all want my time back. Good job.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


In with Saint Barbara

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


New Home
Saint Barbara, Saint of Architects
1,043

Rawley enjoyed the silence of his arcologies before they were filled with the one imperfect part, the people. The intricate dance of vents clicking open and shut, hissing, the gentle electrical whines, the low pressure that built in the empty halls that swept along in straight lines so far that sight of the end was cut off by the curvatures of the earth below.

Sprinklers tssk’d in the gardens. Riverlets dripped down the hanging aeroponic gardens. The sea washed against the foundations of the arcology, filling out the horizon with a long red flatness where waves rose, lost their strength, and were overtaken and smoothed back into the grey waters by the waves behind them, building into a hefty slap against the walls of his beautiful plastic pyramid, his monument to him.

The red was algae, a vast springtime bloom called the Dead Zone, where the oxygen-starved water filled up with small dark bodies suffocated in the depths below. Everything stank of ammonia. Pumps drew up seawater and hosed it out again hourly, pushing back the rusting red rot. It wasn’t enough.

Riley would be enjoying a council of biologists as his guests tomorrow, soothing them with all the percentage points he’d shaved off his carbon footprint. Asking them how to get rid of this smell.

And they could look at the Thing.

The buzz of chainsaws rose again. Down on the smooth plastic siding of the arcology, hanging by safety harnesses, workmen hacked away at the blobbish Thing that clung on stubbornly. The shrieking saws only managed to unfold the Thing to peel apart one layer so another could blossom out.

It was composed of black, clinging diaphanous sheets; its shape was three long tendrils spilling out from a fat baggy abdomen that drifted half-in and half-out of the waters, the emerged part half-crushed by its own weight. Patterns of slick, soft white netted its body in perfect symmetry and round gelatinous boils squeezed out of the spaces between. It smelled.

As they cut they peeled up greasy black threads and stagnant grey waters, patches of red algae, and stink. Mold crawled through every layer of the Thing’s body, if body was the appropriate word. There was a shout from below. They had burst into some kind of cavity, unleashing a rush of water threaded with oil slick and little glowing spores bobbing on the tide as it splashed down into the sea. The man who’d done it was panicking, shouting to be pulled up as he scrambled along the walls away from the Thing.

A second later the smell hit Rawley and he retreated, waving the automatic doors closed and rushing to the sink. He waited hunched over there there, pale and sweating, for what might have been an hour, counting the vents clicking open and shut as they sucked the last traces of the stench out of the room.

As he waited to forget what ungodly stink he heard the sprinklers click off, felt through shifting pressure the night wind press on the arcology walls, listened to the crew below wrap up and crawl clunking back up the sides of the arcology. The Thing wasn’t gone. He could feel its presence like an itch on the back of his neck.

There was a thump. A soft thump, and again, from beneath his window. The itch intensified. He went. Pressing his face to the glass and angling himself to see without having to open the windows, without having to smell the drat Thing too, Rawley looked, and saw the empty red sea.

The smell hit him first. He gagged, and in a kind of disaffected trance, stepped out into the hallway in his boxers. Nothing was there, of course.

He had to sidle past the scaffoldings and bound down the stairs and turn out into an entirely lower hallway, down in economy class where the corridors were cramped and sunless; down there he found the source of the thumping, galumphing noise.

The Thing had come inside. It reeked so bad he felt a painful white cold crawl up his nostrils.

Rawley felt the dreamlike logic of all this move him back up the stairs, stepping out of its way as it dragged itself through the hallway. He went the construction site to find a circle saw. In his state of dumb terror he made justifications after the fact. It had no right to be here. It was ruining everything.

He stalked behind it for a while, growing numb and woozy from the smell. Finally it turned a corner with an outlet, leaving slime on the walls where it passed, and Rawley lunged forward to slap the cord in and start up the saw. It was clumsy in his hands as he bore down on the back of the Thing.

Layer after layer of thin black shininess was torn away, tangling around the saw as it spun. Translucent threads splayed up as they were cut through. Finally, the saw burst into a cavity, and seawater gushed across his bare legs.

Within the cavern were tiny jellyfish, pale and frilled and slipping out as water sloshed through the hole he’d cut. Rawley had to scramble back to avoid being stung. He stepped over them as they wriggled on the flooring. Again. Another cut.

This time the cavern he broke into was full of colorful snail shells, piled high atop each other into askew towers so it looked as if he was peering down upon a miniature city. The breach he’d cut widened, and crushed can spilled out.

It was a thing of garbage, full of and animated by sea life. By things that could no longer live in the sea and had built a new home for themselves. It was strangely beautiful to him, seeing it fall apart, having reached some critical point and now unable to prevent itself from collapsing into rubbish and water and flitting tiny bodies.

He appreciated it, from a professional standpoint. They had needed a new home and built one from what there was to build with. But, from the standpoint of an entrepreneur he knew they couldn’t stay here. Not in his perfect world. Rawley started up the saw.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


In flash rule me please.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


-archived-

ThirdEmperor fucked around with this message at Dec 31, 2018 around 06:20

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


In



Tude, can you make this classic fairy tale a little bit more shiny and chrome?

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


In with the literary classic

A contest to see how many billiard balls you can stuff in your mouth

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Preemptively in flash rule me

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


<%TDbot> tanz! has 1 submissions, 1 wins, and 0 plants they haven't killed

Your perfect record disgusts me and so does your floricide

Let's dance, tanz! Brawl me.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


For the THIRDEMPEROR VS JONJOE BRAWL

Changeling
1300 words

The changeling entered my life through the kitchen window. He moved so quietly I didn't notice him until he screamed, having scraped his open wound against the frame; I looked up from my toast and caught him halfway through, awkwardly folded over the sill.

I stared, smiling by default, and he looked back without the least bit of guilt in his eyes.

A trail of dry leaves leaked out behind him from a hole in his side where branches protruded like broken bones. I saw no no gore, no viscera, only brown and orange in dying shades, and beneath that a bristling green so bright and strange it was more shocking than blood would have been.

That curiosity was why I helped him through, and I couldn't help but reach my hand down and dip a finger into that strange green-ness. It felt fuzzy and soft, covering some underlying inner geometry like moss covers a river stone. He screamed again, pulling away from me, when I prodded his strange innards, fixing me with just about the expression of shock, betrayal, and contempt you'd give someone who couldn't resist giving an open wound a friendly poke.

I smiled with self-abasing humor but not apology, and found him a blanket to wear as he sat at my kitchen table.

I drew the blinds as I made a quick orbit through the house, finding a towel, bandages, coffee. He settled himself at the kitchen table and stole the second slice of toast, and I settled myself into the reality that there was a man who bled leaves in my house. It's good to have a sharp, well-honed tool to face the world with, and mine is and was an undaunted professional attitude.

I also retrieved a pistol from behind the fridge, to be sure.

So I was less concerned by the nature of my guest, who was clearly a prospective client, and more with the unfamiliar car idling in the street outside. Not his. His suit, however torn, cost more than the beat-up Toyota did.

"Somebody is following you." I set the coffee down, and clipped a length of gauze for a bandage. “I have some questions.”

“I’d hope so. I mean, considering, you’d have to be crazy not to.” The man had a nasally laugh. He was blonde-haired, handsome. He looked like he belonged in movies. “Problem being, I worry you’ll just have more questions the more I answer.”

“How about you start with your legal problems.” He was very calm, for a man with a cut the length of a dinner plate in his side. I kept looking to his eyes for a tell, a sign of fear or panic, but came away nothing but the strange impression that his eyes were, sometimes, nothing more than round river pebbles set into his skull.

“Yes...” He was watching me back, as I wrapped the wound in gauze and brushed leaves from the chair. I smiled but it didn’t help. Some people just find me disturbing. “You had a case last year. Expansion of corporate personhood rights. And a history of criminal defense before that. Good stuff.”

“I’m very proud of it.” And so rarely meet a fan.

“Yes, and I’m having some trouble myself. Related to personhood. Specifically, I need to prove mine, before a very unusual court.”

“Will you hold on a second?” I went to the window and peered between the shutters. A man in an elbow-patched brown corduroy jacket had exited the car and was trying, awkwardly, to both look nonchalant to anyone on the far side of the street and conceal himself in the shrub around the fence. Sunlight flashed on a camera lens. “Who’s your friend? Did he give you that cut?”

“No, no, he’s just a second-string tabloid journalist. He’s being used.”

“By the prosecution?”

“Yes, yes, exactly, the prosecution. I was misplaced at birth, you see. Specifically, I was put in place of someone else, and now they’re back.”

“And they’re going to haul you before a court to say, what, this man stole my identity and he’s a big sack of dry leaves, believe me? You might not need my services to fight that one off. Although, it is a fascinating case.”

“It won’t be a human court.”

“Oh?”

“I’m a changeling, Mister Veer. We’re talking about faeries.”

I turned back to look at him, to be very sure he wasn’t joking, but he seemed to expect a better show than that. He sounded like someone who’d been holding this secret for a very long time, and now that he was letting it free, felt the world owed him shock and awe. I tried to oblige. I really did. I raised an eyebrow.

But it’s not very professional to doubt your clients. If they’re lying to me, it’s better I don’t know.

Frustration crossed his face, and he cupped his hands, breathing a long slow breath that brought a glowing kind of mist pouring out of his mouth. It rolled itself into a ball of gentle blue light, which then resolved like a picture coming into focus and became a little luminous butterfly, fluttering its wings as it perched in his hand.

Now, finally, he had what he wanted. Me, speechless. “Is that…”

“Yes. Magic.”

He, even with his unique condition, represented nothing more than a client to me. Being full of leaves didn’t place him outside the usual framework of my existence. But this was something different. Very few things surprise me, and I very rarely use that one smile, a clumsy and awkward expression, that is truly mine and unassumed. I grinned like an idiot as I reached out to touch the butterfly and it dissolved in a puff of brilliant smoke.

“I’ll take your case.” For once, business was an afterthought.

“I thought you might.”

“Mhm. Get upstairs and hide.” I opened the door and started down the lawn.

The crank saw me coming and barely repressed the urge to bolt for his car. I waved, friendly-like, and watched him try to smile. “Hey, sorry, is this your house? I was just out photographing birds in the neighborhood.”

“Uh-huh. And what kind of bird do you think lives in my house? Drugged out celebrity, messy divorce case, what exactly are you hoping to find?”

“I-”

Rather than let him stammer out a lame lie, I cut him off. “Tell you what. Why don’t you come inside, and see that there’s nothing there.”

“Really?” The poor sap was smart enough not to believe his luck, or my smile, but he let me lead him in. He caught on to the leaves scattered about the kitchen table right away, but took his eyes off me.

I went to the living room, got the gun from underneath the coffee table, and came up on the crank as he was heading for the stairs. Before he could register what I was holding, I’d pressed it into his hand and, instinctively, his fingers closed around the grip.

I stepped back while he was still confused, drew my own gun, and shot him twice.

When I looked up, I wasn’t surprised to see the changeling at the landing, staring down with mute horror on his face. I don’t know why he was surprised. He’d shown me magic. Real magic.

Who wouldn’t kill to keep that secret safe, to keep it theirs. I owned something now, a glimpse into a private world, and nobody would take it away from me.

“You should go before the cops show up. They won’t bother me much. Armed invader in my own home, very defensible. As for your case, that should also be quite easy. You seem human enough to me.”

Although some days, I doubted I knew much about the subject.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


I'll be juj to

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Just a little preview of my crits for this week:

If you're gonna toxx to win on a story, don't center that story on contractual surprise sex.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Jon Joe posted:

I'm offering 3 in-depth crits to the first 3 people to quote this post, for your week 298 story unless you specify a different week.

Hmm, could I get a crit for my recent brawl story?


Bubble Bobby posted:

I think that's a pretty disingenuous reading of my story, but whatever

No, the dude literally signs a contract saying potion-man gets his girlfriend, explicitly for sex purposes. She does not get a say in this. What am I supposed to imagine happens if she tries to say 'gently caress no'?

If you wanna discuss this, hop into IRC.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


In, flash.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


HEY FRIKS

[TRASH TALK HERE]

brawl me k

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Story for ThirdFriks brawl




Art crouched low to the dry-baked earth of the veldt and the very tip of his pointy wizard’s cap lifted above the tall grass, bobbing about as he slapped at flies and twitched and tried to wait. He took the hat off and fanned his face. The piebald rat nesting in his mussy greying hair licked the sweat from his brow.

Edith was a good rat. A very brave rat. The kind of rat you wanted by your side on a day like today, when you were hunting for lions.

And what a specimen they’d chosen. The air was still and a dry heat rose up, shimmering, as if the fabric of the world had to shiver at the magnificent beast’s roars. Cubs gamboled about hos golden paws, climbed the their father’s back as if it was a mountain. He lowered his noble maned head and nudged at them, startled back in mock fright when they made mewling little roars in protest.

The mother roamed nearby, circling the photographer who’d come to take pictures of the cubs. A few of his less adventurous colleagues waited in an idling truck and laughed as their friend tried to edge backward, retreating from the prowling lioness while trying, unsuccessfully, to hide how very frightened he was.

When the man finally gave up and made a break for the truck, Art got ready to make his move. He drew a talisman out of his sleeve, a pendant made of copper wiring bent in on itself again and again until it made a knot of impossible shapes, with a kind of buzzing, crackling possibility filling up the spaces between the wires. The truck kicked off in a purr of engine and a huff of dust and Art was on down the hill at his top speed, a chuffing run, the hem of his wizardly robes hitched up in one hand.

The lioness didn’t miss him for a second. She was like a golden bolt of lightning, the sun sparking off her fur as she came at him, the grass parting around her wake in a great wave. Art felt remarkably unlike an ancient and powerful wizard and remarkably like a mouse.

He flung his talisman up into the sky and jabbed a pointing finger at it, crying out in words that weren’t words, really, but more like whalesong, or the humming of lonely stars out in the cosmic void. The copper talisman stuck fast in mid-air, no longer falling, no longer obeying the laws of reality but embedding itself deep into the metaphysical substratums beneath them, tuned into the cosmic metaphor and shining like a second sun.

A copper light flowed over them and they were caught fast within it, like bugs in amber. Translucent symbols swirled through the air and settled on Art’s skin, on the lioness’ fur as she glared at him, mid-leap, mouth open. On the lion and on his cubs and everything. Slowly, the spell accounted for everything it needed to do, and with a ripple of cosm, it was so. The light and the lions and Art were vanished in the blink of an eye.

- - - -

Magic was, erm, a little like quantum physics, really. Things went all upsidedown, strange and charmed, and even if you didn’t quite understand why, there you were. There was a sharp pop like the cork in a champagne bottle, a rush of air carrying summer heat and the smell of dry grass from distant lands; Art and Edith beneath his hat and a whole pride of lions blinked into existence, Art tumbling to the packed earth floor of his basement and the lioness flying over his head.

Scrambling to all fours, Art shot for the door of the cage and slammed it shut behind him, dropping the bar and collapsing again in a wheezing, giggling pile. Edith poked her head out beneath the brim of his hat and licked him on the nose.

The lion was roaring and the cubs were mewling and the lioness rattled the bars. From the other cages, the rows and rows of them, came birdsong and guttural hoots and laughing howls and stranger noises still, a huge roiling racket of wild sound rebounding in the low-ceilinged space. “Hush hush now. S’only for a little while.” Mumbling to himself, dazed and with a wild smile on his face, Art rolled onto his feet and made his way up the stairs, his knees creaking as his meddling in the cosmic underpinnings took its toll. By the time he reached the top of the stairs and emerged into the mess and muddle of his workshop, new gray had emerged in his beard.

His workbench was strewn with crumpled notes, bottles and bottles of veterinary medicines, stale breadcrusts covered in ratty toothmarks, half-assembled trains from his last little hobby, gum wrappers stuck in pools of modelling glue, but Art found what he was looking for. A map like they made in the old days, full of wild illustrations of fantastic creatures, of tapirs and royal herons and, yes, lions.

“Wasn’t expecting cubs. Yes, we’ll have to make some room, maybe shrink the frog pond. Yes?” Edith chittered her agreement as she scuttled down his sleeves. Art rubbed his hands together. “Wasn’t expecting cubs. Wonderful. Wonderful.”

The rest of the day was feeding time, a banquet of chopped fruit, wilderbeast steaks, nuts and berries ladled out to the residents of his menagerie, playing with monkeys and twittering back at irate ravens and trying to chase the octopus back into its cage of floating water. A little fiddling about with the universe to fill the lions’ new home full of golden grass and stretch the space within the cage as wide as a football field. A lot of time spent lying in the light of the basement’s artificial sun, watching a pygmy sloth climb the mossy branch of an oak tree.

He was almost ready, and it made him feel almost young again. In the very center of the menagerie was a great sculpture of wire like a deranged squiggle from Euclide’s nightmares, bending the space around it until the air buzzed with translucent static, with waiting potential. Like a bow stretched taut.

- - - -

Wade and everyone else in the office glanced up as the lights flickered and a sudden wind blew papers off their desks, rattling the windows; everyone else grumbled and went to fetch their work, but Wade kept staring, putting on a rather forced smile for the wild-haired old man with twigs in his beard who’d blinked into existence. He took his manicured fingers off his keyboard and the code went on writing itself, little hieroglyphics popping in among the endless rows of tight-packed letters.

“Wade! I thought I’d, erm, pop in, didn’t realize you were at work.” Art’s sunworn face split in a grin, as if it was a surprise to see him, and Wade held his sigh in, picking up his phone so his coworkers wouldn’t think he was talking to empty air.

“Hey dad. This isn’t -” His eyes kept going around the office, waiting for something to go wrong and utter embarrassment to descend. “It’s not exactly a great time.”

“Didn’t realize you were at work.” Art grumbled again, glancing about himself and picking the leaves out of his beard as the self-consciousness caught hold of him as well. Everything was so clean here. “Still beyond me why you bother.”

“Keeps me busy.” Wade’s fingers drummed uncomfortably on the desk. “Speaking of, how’s your Circle going?”

“Oh, fine, fine. Only, erm, they’re a bit old fashioned.” And when Wade raised his eyebrow as if that was some kind of joke, Art filled in, “Ebegrot turned himself into a komodo dragon and we spent all last meeting trying to get him back. He’d been trying for a proper dragon. Gotten a bit of a crush on the Queen and thought he’d swoop off with her.”

“Ah.” Every silence was pointed, and this one stretched long until Wade clicked his tongue and winced in realization. “Oh. Right. I forgot. I was going to help you with, um, I was going to help you build a perpetual engine for your trains, right?”

“Oh, well, yes but nevermind. Water under the bridge.” He’d only ever bothered with the trains, the dumb mechanical lumps, because he vaguely remembered Wade liking them as a boy and thought maybe he would come over to help. “Actually, I’m onto something new. Better. Actually-”

He was cut off as a man tried to walk right through him, forcing Art to hop aside as he grabbed the next chair over and spun it about to sit with his arms crossed over the back, looking expectantly at Wade.

Trying not to look directly at his father, Wade muttered into the phone, “Dad, I’ve got to go.”

“Oh. Of course, nevermind. Nevermind.”

- - - -

Art left too deflated to bother bending space, just quietly took the stairs, and ended up standing outside Wade’s office building on a busy, messy street, with traffic rushing past and towers full of light windows looming up and the only quiet part of it all the people who walked by distracted and drawn into themselves. Idiots. He was being unkind, of course, but he didn’t know where to start being kind with this mess.

Actually, maybe they could start by making some space for anyone else, for him and his creatures. Maybe they could gently caress off with polluting everything included his son’s brain. Art huffed. Well, soon enough they wouldn’t be bothering him.

He snorted and shrugged off the pointless noise around him and let his mind slip into familiar, calming waters; Art thought about lying back with the green canopy of the trees he’d plant above him and the silver curve of the land below him, and he started to smile. It would take a lot out of him, to carry himself and the menagerie and good rich soil and enough atmosphere for all them. It might be the last spell he could ever manage. But what a retirement. What a way to live out his last century. He thought about people looking up to see the green of his garden in the night sky and starting to wonder.

Art looked up past the city’s reaching fingers of steel and glass, up to where the moon hung half-translucent in the evening sky, and grinned his wildest grin.




1752 words

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Solitair posted:

Sham Bam Bamina was TOO SCURRED so I'ma fight mockingquantum instead.

Antivehicular posted:

Writing bonus crits is always cool, whether you participated in the week or not.

Also, thanks to SH and MQ for your crits!


Alright. I want a clean brawl, no fanfiction, no erotica, nothing but bursting machismo, imposingly muscular prose and unrestrained chutzpah. You have no word limits, and one week exactly from the time of this post. To the winner, infinite glory. To the loser, mild humiliation.

And as for your prompt?

Magical Girls. Anime is blood, blood feeds the 'Dome!

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Editing your posts? In my brawl? You walk a dangerous line Quantum. You're a loose cannon!

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Chili posted:

Happy Ranger Brawl Results

Hm. You know who's fault this is?

SittingHere. Yes, SittingHere, the loathsome and slothlike thing who promised to judge this brawl but then took so goshdamn long to get off her butt and post a prompt that, woops, here comes Chili with a yodeling ranger, and woops, there goes my chances at winning.

SH, as far as I'm concerned, y'all owe me a brawl scalp. I intend to collect in glorious combat.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Crits for Week 264 - Dystopia With a View

This was… not a good week overall. A lot of you hosed up the prompt. A lot of stories just felt like they drew from the same generic well. But fittingly, the winners were far, far above the rest of the pack. Here’s ya crits.


Exhumed by 5D AUTISM SPEX

There are moments where I can genuinely ride the mumbling, incoherent flow of this story. You didn’t pull it off well enough to lift yourself above the mire of mediocre stories, but you definitely captured the rhythm of a YA protag’s inner monologue as you babble out fact after fact about this world.

The issue is, the style you went for clashes with the actual bones of the story. A story about a society without language doesn’t work when it's packed full of specific facts and information. A YA story doesn’t work when so much is withheld, especially when it’s as basic as ‘why did the protag murder his friend’ and ‘why did the mean lady murder the protagonist’.

On a final note, the drones were actually really pointless in the story, and a sign that you may have gotten too wrapped up in the tech of this setting at the expense of the people. Failed the prompt. Low.


Decomposition by Noah

The imagery at least clicks for me. It feels good, it feels tactile, I can dig it. Where you falter is in introducing the Slug. There’s just not enough focus to rise over the dense prose elsewhere and capture the attention it needs for the audience to feel Errol’s fascination.

The second stumble is hiding Errol’s revelation from the audience. By the time he sees Denson,I’m confused as to whether this is the first Slug to escape, and if so, why is the initial incident treated so casually? The emotional thread of this story just isn’t strong enough. You treat big moments, like Errol thinking of his family and sparing Denson for their sake, without any real gravitas.

I dunno. The words were pretty. Low.


Override by Fleta Mcgurn

I love the efficiency of worldbuilding shown here, and with the quick-paced, crystal-clear story I’m honestly having trouble stepping back and engaging the critical side of my brain when I read it. The mix of light-hearted humor and sympathetic embarrassment was perfect for telling the story you wanted to tell and this was one of my favorites of the week. High.


The Unclean Animal Not Suitable for Sacrifice by Captain Indigo

A movie called The Lobster exists and, sadly, its shadow hangs over this whole story. They share a sterile and tightly controlled world. A dry humor. A protagonist who faces transformation into an animal. Maybe you’ve never seen or heard of the movie, and even if you have, it’s fine to wear your influences on your sleeve, but it really hurts this story’s ability to reach a truly surreal place when I’m constantly drawing comparisons between it and another work.

That said, I really enjoyed the prose, which is descriptive and crisp. The world is interesting but you took a detour from exploring the truly engaging part, these people’s incapacity to handle any image or thought that breaks the norm, and instead gone on a horrorshow of a detour, during which the protagonist handles the mutilation of his body with a stoicism verging on robotic. This had a lot of potential. Medium.


Diana, Hunted by QuoProQuid

Something in this story never quite clicks. The ending is so harsh, so out of proportion to Diana’s conflict with her mother that it just doesn’t seem like a logical consequence of their mock feud. It doesn’t help that the story doesn’t really delve far enough into the performative elements of Diana’s life for it to feel like a show - I don’t think anyone would be watching this stream, unless, as is vaguely possible from the sparse worldbuilding, everyone else is living in extreme poverty and crowding around their screens for a glimpse at Diana’s life of relative opulence.

It’s technically well-executed, and there’s a glimmer of a few appealing ideas, but the cheap ending doesn’t bring them out or resolve the conflict in any satisfying way. Medium.


Sunday by unwantedplatypus

This reminds me a lot of my own early Thunderdome pieces, in that it’s full of stuff but seems afraid to reach for plot, character growth, and actually trying to cram a full story into the wordcount. There’s not much to crit here; there’s not much here. Failed the prompt. Low.


Like the Old, Dead Fairytales by flerp

This is well-paced, technically beyond reproach, and it all builds towards a powerful kick. That said, I don’t like it. The central issue the lack of a main character who’s anything but a cipher. Without someone to empathize with and view the emotional arc through, it’s just the reader feeling the story directly, and while you pull together enough familiar and striking elements to hit all the emotional buttons, there’s not a lot of depth here. The ending is emotionally strong but not particularly deep and your better pieces manage to explore far more complex emotions. High but I know you can do better.


Day of the Dog by Hawklad

Um.

Could you write a more interesting story next time? Not necessarily better, worse would actually be fine, but christ, have some loving ambition. This is just a cut-n-paste apocalyptic wilderness, with dogs standing in for your generic Mad Maxian slavers - but no actual exploration of dog society or how the world has changed - who fight cats because of course they do. No real characters just a pregnant lady thrown in as cheap motivation.

This was only spared a DM because it seemed wrong to DM something for being aggressively generic in a outright bad week. I got angry reading this a second time to crit it. Failed the prompt. Low.


To live without by Fumblemouse

It’s always a bit cringey for a story to exalt another work that really exists. But the characters’ cringey and awkward love-story brings that back around to intentional, and it’s wonderful. This could have easily won. I like so many things about it, from the moment where Elspeth doesn’t see her love reflected in the protagonist’s emotional signal, to the ending, which is the most any of these stories sold me on the actual sense of living, day to day, in dystopia.

My personal favorite.


Neon Demon by Wizgot

There’s something especially groan-inducing about military fiction, and this definitely lands in the category. The emphasis on stuff without the intent that it should inform the reader of the world or the characters, just stuff-for-stuffs-sake. The refusal to just shove the rote minutia out of the picture when they fail to serve the plot. By the time we’ve actually learned anything about the characters, welp, they’ve gone and thrown themselves off the ship to join a fungal hivemind. Good for them. We don’t get to learn much about said hivemind, of course, because we’re too busy soaking in the details of the ship itself, about the government’s spooky surveillance files, about apocalyptic work camps. What damned this story was a total failure to prioritize the actually interesting bits, to the point that the characters suicide is laughably abrupt. Failed the prompt too. Low.


The Detainee by SittingHere

Yea this was a rough prompt. You sorta made it through, if the reader takes the stance that the story’s exaggeration of autism-spectrum traits is partially propaganda this society is feeding itself about how they’re the superior iteration of humanity. Still, it can’t escape coming off as a little exploitative.

You would have done better to focus on the interplay between the interrogator and her prisoner, where the story’s conceit is more naturally presented and impactful; the normie’s manipulation feels genuinely gross and violating in a way that sells how this society, this new normal, could justly frame the old as barbaric. I liked that a lot. I would’ve liked it more without the rocky start generating its own sense of unease that, unfortunately, bleeds together with the intentional disgust the story tries to stir up later. Medium.


Grass Null by Jay W. Friks

I came back to this with vague recollections of finding it endearing the first time round. A second reading only hurt that, sadly, because it forced me to contend with how much padding this story has; how many limp jabs you take at Monsanto, which, trust me, you don’t need to invest that much effort in getting the audience to hate.

I think there’s one core problem here, and that’s that you never quite manage to draw a line between lawns and whatever they’re supposed to represent, emotionally, to the audience. It’s all very nice to have a story where the rich deny the poor some basic dignity. You even hit on something charmingly absurd in having it be lawns. You just needed to dig a little deeper and explore something more emotionally complex. Failed the prompt and the drat wordcount. Low.


Untitled by Tyrannosaurus

This story has an intricate sense of purpose, where all the small details, although they’re mostly about the routine of these sad devoted people, feed back into building a sense of the absurd world the story occupies. There’s very little here that doesn’t serve two purposes. It allows for a really understated sense of humor that I flat out love, a cavalcade of sensible chuckles against a backdrop of building claustrophobia. You don’t quite land the punchline to all this; the abrupt cut of the ending is punchy, sure, but I think there was something more to be had from the last bleak moments you veered away from. High.


I, For One by Thranguy

Well, I can’t really give a cogent criticism of this when it’s missing its latter half. I’ll just say I liked what you had going, with the gaudy and pointless expedition, the bizarre ocean life. This coulda been my jam. Failed the prompt. Low.


Breeds Contempt by Fuschia Tude

I’m a stickler when it comes to detective stories. This does not pass the bar with its pacing issues, pointless explanations, and, let’s face it, irrelevant mystery that was never going to be resolved within the wordcount. It’s just a vehicle for - what? The characters aren’t intriguing enough to be a study. The world is too bureaucratic to be fantastic. There’s not a lot as far as comedic potential. This was a conceptual mess, propped up by the promise of a payoff that was never really going to come due.

So, y’know, it’s appropriate it starts with babbling about cryptocurrency. Failed the prompt. Low.


The Adding Assistant by Dr. Kloctopussy

There are so many ideas crammed into this one piece it was never going to hold them all with any clarity. There are even two distinctly different styles of prose here, one a fast-paced YA voice and the other a description-rich fairytale style. For what it's worth, I preferred the latter. Underneath the generally confused nature of this story I can see something worth drawing out, the tale of how Arthur fucks up so badly he brings down the kingdom and becomes the ruler of the ruins; I think if you had to cut anything, cut the middle with Morgana and cut Elaine and just focus on Arthur muddling through catastrophe.

Like a lot of your stories this is a young adult focused fairytale, but I think it's one of the stronger and more unique pieces you've put out in that vein. Not quite strong enough, and you do seem to fall back on some bad habits, but it has potential. Medium.

ThirdEmperor fucked around with this message at Jul 25, 2018 around 02:46

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Crits for Week 298 - Featuring Idris Elba

It’s impressive how little this week sticks in my mind, besides that one ittle, horrifically rapey, mishap. The best stories rose to the exalted rank of, uh, okay. Decent. Solidly constructed with characters and maybe some emotion.

I gotta say. You folks don’t seem to put much faith in Mr. Elba’s acting range. I see a lot of stories about sauve criminals and not a lot else.


Fire in the Hole by Chili

I don’t have much technical criticism to offer because this is a story that has, more or less, reached its apex. It is well constructed. It has emotion. It implies more than one layer to the father and son’s relationship. Does it offer up a strong role for a dramatic talent? Hell yes, more than any story this week, I heard Elba’s voice in the dialogue.

And if there’s any criticism I have to offer it’s just that. It’s a little too neat, both as a screenplay that would theoretically star Idris Elba, and as a story. This week we asked for good starring roles and this story was almost inevitable; it’s Oscar bait. I always want to see a little more ambition in a piece, even at the cost of technical perfection. High.


I Met my Father During the Zombie Apocalypse by Yoruichi

I’ve critted this in private and won’t subject you to the public excoriation, no matter how well deserved it is. You know what you did. You wrote a Medium story.


A Mother and a Father by derp

I do enjoy the imagery. I really do. There’s no real arc here, just a lady who keeps ignoring her better instincts, maybe hypnotized, and eventually meets a bad fate. I’m not sure what here was meant to showcase an actor’s talents. I don’t walk out knowing much about any of the characters or the world or why anything is happening; there’s no logical or emotional thread for me to follow here, only things happening. Medium.


Memories of You, Hovering in the Sky by Exmond

Well, you’ve seen Dark Tower.

I actually like the joke. It’s kind of an anticlimax but it's also kind of sweat and the dog food bit sets it up nicely. The issue is, between setting it up and knocking it down, you crammed a whole bunch of bizzare cosmological gunslinging down the reader’s throat with nary a moment to breathe, and why? What purpose did it serve? When you compress it down to such bare bones there’s no time to build tension, no real sense of drama or consequence.

Honestly, I suspect the only reason any of that happened was because you heard ‘Idris Elba’ and thought ‘oh hey he was in Dark Tower’. The end point, the punchline, would have been served better by you toning this down many, many notches, maybe to a simple gunfight between a lone wanderer and a few desperados. Low.


Finnt Visits the Potion Master by Bubble Bobby

So for what it’s worth, on the off chance you slink back to read the long overdue criticism of a story you pretty well knew went over like a lead balloon, this is the most interesting story of the week. Even before the whole thing.

Frankly, I was hooked from the start. The mutilated, overwrought fantasy language and eclectic worldbuilding, that couldn’t be more an arrow aimed directly at my story-readin’ heart. But then we hit the long, overly expository middle, the interminable tough-guy dialogue, and I started to wonder - wait, was all that not intentionally bad? My heart sunk as this story tried to deny its glorious badness and wear a straight face. By the end you try to loop back around to ‘humor’ but, well, we’ll get to that.

I know you - assuming you ever read this, which you won’t - think we’re all overly sensitive and your big punchline is just fine. It’s not, and I’ll lay out why, but let me also make this argument from another angle that the hypothetical Bubble Bobby might give more credence.

This is a loving Vin Diesel movie and you know it. Let me see. Hardboiled men of ambiguous morality flexing their tough-guy wits in endless banter, dressed to the nines in a mixture of modern and fantasy aesthetic? Vin. Goddamn. Diesel.

But you know what? You were given a job, to showcase an actor’s talents, and neither Diesel or Elba are gonna sign up to be an attempted rapist. Yes, you have protested that the surprise sex would never happen, but what is the audience going to think of a guy who’s only motivation is to force a woman into sexual servitude? Not a lot. That’s not an Oscar role.

And finally, I’ll come at this from the angle you intended, taking the whole scenario as a joke. Putting aside, even, the whole issue of transphobia, because we don’t really need it to argue that this story is bad: ‘Actually that girl is/was/previously-had-the-genitals-of-a-guy’ is a just a tedious, lame and worn-out joke even on its own terms.

So Bobby, if you ever get the midnight urge to go read some crits of your piece de resistance and get mad about how unfair we were, if you ever read this as more than a hypothetical, hey. gently caress you. Fite me.


You just keep on going by SurreptitiousMuffin

This, here, is a role with depth. I love the weird musing tone that wanders through thoughts of aging, the vastness of the sea, and the chase for this lost love who is, thankfully, not at all raised up or romanticized but clearly a flawed doofus. It’s got a lovely sense of melancholy and genuinely poetic longing. The one thing that nibbled away at my immersion was how every note was set, with unerring precision, just where it would be found, across the entire sea. Maybe it was magic. It doesn’t much distract from my enjoyment of this story.

My favorite of the week.


No Bite by sparksbloom

The title is spot on. This story has, yep, no bite. There’s a concrete arc and a final choice here, but you know, waiting the whole story for the main character to work up the nerve to make a change, that’s a big ask on the audience. At the end of the day the most your character has to be proud of is running away rather than doubling down, and leaving a kidnapping victim in the hands of a man who would, very clearly, kill her if it advantaged him.

If the whole story leads up to the main character overcoming some fatal flaw, y’know, maybe that flaw shouldn’t be the whole of their character. As he drives off, what do I care, he’s lost his sole defining characteristic and is now a total null fleeing into a blank future. The closest this brushes to something interesting is the brief attempt to use class politics to justify the crime. There was maybe something there. Low.


The Rock by Thranguy

Reading this in the middle of other stories brought out its worst flaws, namely being rushed and somewhat sparse, but I liked it better on the second go-round, or at least saw more potential to be expanded on. The bad is that you rush to sketch out these vast cosmic happenings, almost entirely bare of description, without giving us enough reason to care. It feels slightly edgy, slightly teenage atheist. Really, it just serves as a way of delivering us the end note, the idea of an avenging crusade come out of this hellhole prison to fight the goddamn devil. It’s not the kind of idea that ‘Dome even offers the space for, so I understand stopping on that note and leaving it to the reader to imagine beyond, but I wish you’d found a more engaging way to reach that point, maybe one shines some light, any light, on the protagonist’s transformation from apathetic prisoner to avenging angel. Medium.


Decision Matrix by sebmojo

This story doesn’t work any better backwards than it would forwards, and there’s just not much here. More focus on that all important middle beat, where he gambles away his future to try and impress his wife, that was where you needed to burrow in. That was your moment to build a character arc that really bridges the gap from rebellious kid to reluctant criminal, that makes the journey feel like a tragedy of errors rather than an inevitably. As it is, putting the poignant childhood flashback last only steals heat from the demise at the beginning. There’s no magical way to flip this story. There’s also no strong role for Idris Elba to inhabit here. Low.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


-archived-

ThirdEmperor fucked around with this message at Dec 31, 2018 around 06:22

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Is this the vampire LARP thread? I'm in.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


quantum of solitair brawl results

Neither of you slammed down a story with real moonlight love energy. I don't know why goons have the lemming-like urge to subvert prompts, but both of you decided that showing up to a magical girl duel with tales of bureaucracy and ennui, and the most I can say is that one of you managed to sparkle just a little brighter than the other.

MockingQuantum - Your opening made me crack a grin and the rest of your story only succeeded in squandering that momentum. There are crucial parts in the logic of your story that are missing or lacking. Why were none of the other junior scouts helping your protagonist fight? Her logic for holding them back and trying to go it alone was never apparent to me. Nor was the argument that the original scouts quitting would break the spirits of the others ever fully realized. Your ending can be summed up as 'the main character was wrong and this whole dilemna was never really that big of a deal' and that's a terrible conclusion.

Solitair - I really hoped you were going somewhere with her aversion to sentai masks, but as best as I could tell, she just had a phobia of them. Shrug? My hopes for this story to at least go somewhere with its choice to subvert the prompt and dive into a kind of gritty buddy-cop aesthetic died there. Even if you had gone genuinely dark, instead of a lukewarm grey in-between, this story would have been brought down by its long expositionary scenes and muted characters. It lacked showsmanship. Seems like killing your kid over her being a magical girl is bit of an overreaction, but by that point, I was honestly checksd out.


MockingQuantum wins, on having tighter pacing, better action, the theoretical bones of a decent plot and a gloriously goofy opening.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Doing my crit for the sweet sweet extra words, first person to ask gets it.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Uranium Phoenix posted:

I was going to let someone else nab this but the disgusting lack of opportunism has left me no other choice but to abscond with this crit offer.
here's my most recent story tia

Mm. This story. It's cool but it's not good.

I like the aesthetics of the demons, but not how they seem essentially human, to the point where two of them get taken out by an old lady described as 'just wrinkled skin over bone'. I'm not even sure why Waseme was still alive, considering the militia was dead and the town had been taken. They seem a little like chumps, these demons, getting dunked on by a single warrior and an old lady. Really hurts the stakes, as does your choice to skip over the destruction of Ch'sa, averting the audience's eyes from anything that might show them, rather than tell, that these demons are a real threat.

Moving on to the actual story, which you tried to cram in between the actions scenes almost as an afterthought. Uhm. I get that her father ran away and the rest of her family died because of that, sure, and being sent away by Waseme makes Yejide think, oh, it really sucks when you run away and your family dies. Got that part. What I missed was the part where its confirmed Yejide's father couldn't have done anything to save his family, and didn't just run away because he was scared. Which does happen. Yejide couldn't save grandma because Waseme was stuck in bed. What was her dad's excuse? This could have been solved by assigning the actual plot more words and giving the 'dunking on demons' bits less.

As a final note, because this really stuck out to me, if Yejide is in the military and her only other family is frail or disgraced, why didn't she have the family sword to begin with? Seems like the kind of thing grandma would give her when she joined the army. Just saying.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Seb, can I get a crit on my recent brawl story?

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Yoruichi posted:

God dammit Sebmojo [insert rolling of eyeballs here]

But a good fight would still cheer me up so I’ll leave that offer on the table if anyone wants it

e: Actually wait Sebmojo this idiocy is your fault. You fight me

Yoruichi, toxx up and prepare for glorious combat. I'll judge.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


On August 9th, Midnight PST, you will both deliver a story about a completely pointless struggle. Let me be clear. This struggle should matter, and dearly, to the protagonist. You do not have an out to writing solid emotions and characters. But the outcome cannot significantly change the world. It can't deliver your protagonist a better or worse life, at least, not beyond the satisfaction of success. I'm looking for stories about Sisyphus rolling his boulder uphill, rivalries dearly held but inconsequential, doomed missions. Stories that matter all the more intensely to the people in them, precisely because they matter to no-one else.

The wordcount is 1200. Standard no erotica, no fanfic, etc applies.

ThirdEmperor fucked around with this message at Aug 3, 2018 around 01:08

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


sebmojo posted:

Can we kick it forward a week to 16 August I need time to procrastinate properly before doing it at the last minute

k.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


iN.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


steeltoedsneakers posted:

It's been a day with no takers, offer is now extended to any takers: stories past and present.

Still three though, let's not be too silly.
Could you please take a look at https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5893&...7ll+Likely+Live

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Yoruichi posted:

I will support your request for 5 additional hours (assuming our most excellent judge agrees)

I'll allow it but I expect to see two weeks and five hours of pure quality in this story.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Sebmojo wins

Yoruichi. I appreciated the small details here, building up a sense of stifling coziness, but tears pricked behind my eyes when I realized the plot was going to be solid and predictable throughout. There just wasn't enough ambition here, and 'humdrum officeworker feels stifled by their job' isn't only a fairly well-worn road, its one I'd argue carries some pretty harsh inherent flaws, papered over only by the rush people get from seeing their own lives reflected. If someone is so strangled by their work that they have, in the entirety of the story, only one real act of self-expression, then they're hardly even a real character.

Seb. I like how by the end, your protagonist has been completely drawn into the strange mannerisms of this girl. How the protagonist himself is offbeat in a much more hapless way. I like how, again, you focus in on small details, but use them to kind of frame the girl and also to feed into how much this moment matters to him. This story really drew me in and immersed me in a pleasant summertime vibe. Still, you were five hours late, so severe frowning from the judge's podium for that.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


In, and I'll humbly beseech the throne for a flash rule.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Super Magic Galaxy Scouts GOOOOOOO! by MockingQuantum

Your opening is fun. It has energy, a sense of humor, it paints a slightly grim picture without letting that overwhelm the fact it’s about sparkly child soldiers fighting a drat giant top hat. So, you win.

The rest of this story is a logical mess.

Emotionally, I get it. One of them has trouble letting go and passing the torch to the next generation, the other is just drat tired. But logically, you fail to present a world that offers any support to Maria’s viewpoint. We never see any reason the younger generation can’t hack it. There’s no sense of huge crisis that makes this the wrong time to throw in the towel.

Sarah is just correct, and we never get in Maria’s head enough to see what alternative view of the world she has that’s blinding her to this, or what emotional hang-ups are keeping her oblivious. There’s a brief shot at this when she shouts about having no normal life anymore. That was good, that should have been expanded on. If this really dug into the mindset of someone who’s spent every day since they were seventeen fighting a war against an endless march of tophats, yeah, that’d be a much better story.

The resolution is accordingly weak, and the fight is weak. It could have used a total rewrite here. It never conveys any emotion, never dazzles, it’s a limp exchange of blows and an explanation the protagonist is losing. Then she stops being an idiot, with no particular emotional resonance placed on the moment of giving in and asking the vadets to help - it’s actually phrased as if she just plain didn’t realize that was an option - and she wins. This resolves the conflict and ends the story on a farty low note.

Henshin Blues by Solitair

Hoo boy. You put a lot into this. Three thousand words is past the point where I feel a linecrit can really suffice. So let’s start this with a thesis statement: This story is bad because it tries to do too much.

It’s a cop story mash-up with magical girls. Okay, that makes some amount of instinctive sense. Also, it’s a story using magical girls as a vehicle to talk about a trans character’s experiences and family trauma. Again, in a vacuum, fine. Also there’s a whole friendship unfolding and that makes sense, sure. Any two of those would be a solid story. Three might be called ambitious, but by the way you carry it off, I think it was more unconsidered.

But for a specific example of how these different threads start to strangle each other - if you weren’t trying to juggle so much, I don’t think you would have tried to write a story where, despite the emotional core being the protagonist struggling to pick their lives up after coming out as trans to an abusive family, none of that is dealt with until the very last. The family never makes an appearance, nothing is said outright, and in order for any quiet unease to permeate from the hints you scatter about, the narrative would actually need to keep the audience focused on a mood rather than distract them in multiple different directions.

There’s this overlong opening sequence of the protagonist being uncomfortable at a cafe and drinking coffee. Cut this. I can only imagine it was an attempt to establish a cop-story ambience, but what good does that really do? There’s this pervading sense of cheapness, be it here or in their lovely patrol car or the burnt out parts of the city, and what precisely does that accomplish?

There’s never a real attempt to juxtapose that unpleasant dose of reality with the innate glamour of flying sparkle-powered teenagers, and there can’t be, because you never meaningfully establish the emotions of this city; I still don’t know what the grittiness is supposed to represent to the audience, or even what being a magical girl means to the characters. It’s a stylistic clash because there’s no attempt to resolve the underlying meanings.

As for the cop-story side of this, or the buddy-story subplot, those are barely present. They go and fight some chumps, they get ambushed, and they get saved by a deus ex machina. You try, after the fact, to establish that this was a set-up by the protagonist’s awful family, and oh yeah the protag has an awful family, but that can’t make me care about a segment I’ve already not-cared through. There’s no turning all this into the establishing incident of a beautiful friendship when there’s been no chemistry between the two characters because one actively shuts the other down until, again, the very final few paragraphs. There’s a pretty good reason that the point where the gritty, battle-hardened cop starts to open up to their quirky partner is the halfway mark in buddy cop movies, not the ending. That’s when the characters actually start to play off each other in interesting ways.

Finally. There’s a sense of the main character’s scorn for everything around her throughout the entire piece, and that just feels bad to read. It makes it hard to invest in anything except rushing for the end. It’s actively priming the reader to dislike your piece as much as the characters hate living it.

ThirdEmperor fucked around with this message at Aug 29, 2018 around 23:44

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ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Yoruichi posted:

If anyone doesn't like this they can fight me. I will even wear my very fancy courtly armor.

Hmm looks like you dropped your glove. Here!



This 'judicial mercy' nonsense is an abominable weakness that must be cleansed with holy combat!

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