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sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In

I'll kick off a new year by joining the Thunderdome! May my first entry help christen the sands with it's inevitable evisceration.

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sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Whelp, I knew that I'd get something wrong on my first try, I just didn't know I'd screw up that quickly . Oh well, it's one way to break the ice. Do we need to use the quote in our work as well?

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Reset Button

2018 Words

18 December 2007 3:22 AM

drat it.”

A cat darted out from behind the repulsive alley dumpster and into the dark yet busy street in the distance ahead as the man kicked an empty tuna can. As it rebounded with an audible snap against the graffitied wall, the drunk but well-dressed businessman paid no attention to the scuttling and scurrying in the shadowed edges of the passage.

“That gree-hic-dy bastard” David grumbled, his voice gravelly and hoarse from the bottles of gin and hours of cigar smoke that still wafted from the seedy bar behind him. “Why the gently caress would you do this to me Gary?” his slurred and barely coherent sentence rose to a shout, and his loafers began to lose purchase on the slick pavement as he tossed his hands upward in exasperation. Losing his balance, the drunkard fell to the side against the brick wall, where he slid slowly into a crouched position.

David's head spun lazily, his consciousness drifting about aimlessly through a sea of loathing and anxiety. Islands of memory rose up momentarily only to be buried again by self-pity and denial. The tear-stained letter his wife had left him two days ago, clothes gone; the confessional was still vaguely scented like the peppermint hand-lotion he'd given her at Christmas. Gary, the marketing partner he'd trusted with tracking the holiday reports, which the fraud had embezzled, but not before setting David himself up as the fall guy. Somewhere in the distance was the wail of sirens and seemingly far off screams, but he couldn't open his eyes. Even as he felt someone fumbling with his coat, his dazed stupor refused to let him respond.

Not that he was too concerned or surprised, anyway. There were nightly shootings and frequent muggings in the Santro district; he'd processed enough insurance claims at the firm to know that he was taking a gamble drinking here this late, but he wanted to avoid the stares of his former colleagues now that he'd been fired. But let them take his wallet for all he cared; he'd spent his last bill on the dregs of the martinis he'd drained earlier, and his wife had taken the cards as they were all in her name. Honestly, he half expected some altercation that night and the liquid bravado had numbed him to the dangers. What he hadn't expected however, was someone to gently shake him awake while calling his name.

“Daaavid... Daaaaaaavid...”

The voice was at once both soothing and sobering. The warm breath against his ear intrigued him, but it was the chill of the long fingers that cupped his face that brought him back to conscious thought. For a split second, as David's bleary eyes first opened, he felt his breath catch as he saw a pair of glinting black pits which struck him with visceral terror. As he blinked again, however, he saw instead the soft gray eyes set in the smiling face of a middle-aged gentleman. He was clad in deep blue evening wear, and even in David's inebriated state he could tell the graying haired man was out of place. The initial revulsion was gone, quickly replaced by a wierd feeling of nostalgia. Had he thought before that the man's touch was cold? Surely not, his hand was smooth and warm like a shield against the mid-winter chill.

“How... how do you know...”, he began dreamily, but was cut off with a gentle hushing sound from the gentleman as he released him and stood up to his full height.

“I know all about you Mr. Lancet, of 46 Redwood Street. Happy belated birthday, by the way.” the man said cheerily in a light Irish accent.

Confused, David shook his head and looked up again, seeing the gentleman wave his wallet and Driver's License back and forth as if waving hello.
“That said,” the man mused as he slipped the wallet back into the now soiled suit-jacket David had grabbed in a daze that morning, “ I doubt it was a very good one.”

No poo poo, man. I'm sitting here in a grimy alley at 3 am on a Tuesday. You're a real psychic, aren't ya? David opened his mouth to tell him off, but was interrupted by the Irishman's bellowing laughter.

“Oh David, I'm not a psychic, but I think you're going to want me to stay right where I am.” The man dabbed at his eyes with a light blue handkerchief he produced from his pocket, the outburst dying to a small chuckle. In their current positions the gentleman towered over him, and his warm grin seemed impossibly wide from such an angle. “After all, we've met before, and I have another gift for you.”

“It... it ain't my birthday no more,” David said lamely as he attempted to rise from the ground, but with his still head pounding fiercely he slid back down. “And who the hell are you?”

“Who I am and who my employer may be isn't what's important here. What is important is that you're a lucky man, David. In fact, it would not be inaccurate to say you have the chance of a lifetime right now.”

Despite the intensifying migraine, David knew a hackneyed pitch when he heard one and he eyed the tall man suspiciously.

“You have the opportunity, for a nominal fee, to reset the last 72 hours of your destiny.” the Irishman said as if by rote, his demeanor now void of humor and suddenly firm and professional. “You will retain no memory of this transaction, but you can make one change within scope of your direct choices. When you awaken you will continue through your life under slightly different circumstances until the change occurs, and your new destiny will unfurl after. When the 72 hours are up I'll find you again.”

“Slightly different circumstances? What does that mean?”

“Well, in order to change your fate we may have to alter the playing field. Rest assured, the outcome you ask for will be guaranteed.” He smiled widely at this, a perfect set of white teeth shining in the early morning dark.

David's suspicion mounted as he considered his mulled over what the man had said. He'd certainly never met this person in his life, and what he was offering was ridiculous. He's just crazy, David reasoned. But if not...

“What could it hurt, right?” the gaunt man said, finishing David's thought for him. “That's the spirit, m'boy!

David stared at him for a moment incredulously. “You're a nutjob. This makes no drat sense. What, are you going to ask for my soul or something?”

The gentleman began to laugh again, but this time it seemed hollow, without any mirth. “No, nothing so esoteric as your soul. Time, that's the market we're in. To be precise, 25% of your remaining lifespan, however long it may be, taken upfront. With an additional 10% of your original lifespan for every reset thereafter. There's just one catch. I can't reveal how many times you've already taken the deal when I offer. Including this one. Still quite a bargain, if I say so myself, and hell, you said so yourself last time!”

Closing his eyes, David shuddered and shook his head as a wave of uncertainty flowed through him. He wasn't stupid, he'd read Faust before and Devil or not there were consequences to deals like this. Perhaps he should just get some sleep. Hell, maybe he was asleep already.

“How about I sweeten the deal? You've been such a good client I'd hate to lose you now.” the man began to tap his foot impatiently, looking out toward the road just a few feet away. “ Last time you reset your timeline, we were in the burn ward of Briar General Hospital while you slipped in and out of consciousness. You'd been promoted to partner of the firm, as per your request, and were celebrating in your favorite bar uptown with your wife.”

Suddenly, David felt his skin broil and his muscles spasm as pain shot through his entire body. For a moment he was in a blazing hell, florescent lights above him blaring white as the smell of burning flesh and antiseptic flooded his nostrils. Then in a flash it was over, his body limp upon the filthy ground in the back alley once more.

“You were much quicker to agree to my terms back then, of course,” the gentleman giggled a bit at this, hands now clasped before him, thin wrists resting above the waistband of his trousers.
“But I delivered dutifully. Now here you are, a little lighter in the income and heavier in the soul, but safe and sound behind a different bar on a different street. Just listen to those sirens!”

Sure enough the sirens David heard earlier continued in the background, the acrid scent of smoke beginning to drift into the alley from some far off fire. David mulled the options over in his mind, adrenaline pumping through him and clearing his head. “Wait,” he said cautiously, finally standing up to face the now frowning Irishman before him. “So you're the reason I got fired? drat it, Clara left me after that! Why would you do that to me?”

“Hey now, I only did what you asked. I set things in motion so you wouldn't head to that bar. I never said how it'd come to pass. Be more specific this time.”

“Well why the hell shouldn't I just walk away right now? This deal is bullshit!” David asked, anger seeping into his voice as his breathing quickened.

The Irishman gave a deep, heaving sigh and gestured toward the smoky street. “Be my guest. After you leave my line of sight you'll forget we ever met, and this offer will be gone permanently. We do have other clients waiting after all. But are you really satisfied with the destiny you have now? It could get better, you know.”

David steeled himself and spoke again, the burning rage within him making each word ring out loudly in the cramped corridor, “Go to hell, and leave me alone, I don't need you anymore!” and with that he sprinted past the now sullen gentleman and into the orange glow of the streetlamp. As he kept moving down the busy street he slowed first to a jog, then to a steady walk. He struggled to remember how he'd gotten to the street he was on, but drew a blank. After a few minutes his thoughts shifted to the lousy day he'd been having. And how at that moment he'd love to have the chance to hit the reset button. He kept this morose train of thought even as the taxi picked him up and took him away uptown.

***


19 December 2007 8:16PM

Gary contentedly gazed out of his office window as the sun set behind the city skyline, fingers absently drumming across the lacquered teak. Stretching tall and yawning he almost didn't notice the reflection of the gray haired man standing in the doorway.

“Oh Gary, m'lad, its time to pay your due.” the light Irish voice drifted in cheerily.

Confused, he whipped around and came face to face with a tall figure dressed in a formal blue suit. But he barely noticed the attire, all he could focus on were the sullen dark holes that flickered with light in what could loosely be called a face. The skin was cracked and stretched around the lips, upturned in a caricature of a grin that betrayed multiple rows of needle-like teeth. He began to scream but a spindly hand shot out and covered his mouth before a sound could escape. In that moment, Gary remembered his deal. And in that panic stricken second before he stopped breathing he recalled what the man said before he'd gotten the promotion he longed for.

“Time, that's the market we're in. There's only one catch, I can't tell you how long you've got left.”

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

in

I believe I'll go with Avalanche for mine.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Thanks for the crit Apop!

Yeah, I definitely like making my villains more fleshed out I guess. I tried mixing Some of the Djinn-type "Whatever you wish for in worst possible way" with demonized Irish Brownies.

e: I'm also going to try a rewrite sometime using that suggestion about flipping perspective, that could be pretty cool, thanks!

sandnavyguy fucked around with this message at Jan 8, 2018 around 22:57

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Thanks for the crit!

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Prompt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQe88ybEIe8 "Avalanche" By Leonard Cohen

A Scarf's Life

1048 Words

For three months, the thick crimson scarf flecked with gold embroidery shone brightly in a department store window. Although it attracted the curious hands and stares of many as they flocked in and out of the warm entryway, it wasn't until Christmas eve that a lady clad in a pair of warm violet mittens finally freed it from its glass perch. Lightly perfumed with peppermint and incense from the nearby candles, she wrapped the fabric in layers of glistening silver paper and placed it beneath her tree at home.

The next morning the package was opened, and the pinpricks of light from a tall fir caused the cloth to sparkle while a little girl in pink gloves swung the cloth about the room. Happy tears dotted the tasseled ends once it was wrapped around her warm neck, and for the next several weeks she wore it happily in the swirling snow and drizzling rain. In the spring the pink gloves came off, and with them the garment was hung in the back of a tight linen closet, shut away from the light and surrounded by the scent of mothballs.

The closet was silent as the years passed. When the doors opened wide it was the sound of christmas that flooded the small space, and the pink gloves reached for the scarf once more. This time, however, they were often intertwined with a boy wearing an off-green camo jacket, and that evening it was he that removed the red cloth from the young girl's neck and tossed it on the floor. There it stayed beneath the boy's bed, untouched as the weeks passed. Sometimes a familiar glove would fall next to it, othertimes silken fabrics it had never touched before.

It was foggy when the girl wore the scarf around her neck small throat again, and it shook as tears and snot fell from the her face and stuck to the golden threads. When she pulled it off amongst the swirling mist and dense smoke from the train, she bundled it into the boy's hands. Holding it against his chest he left the girl behind on the platform, and breathed in deeply against the cloth as the flickering lamplights above winked and jostled their light upon the cabin walls. Things continued in this way until the following morning, where along with the jacket it was stuffed unceremoniously into a bag, and shipped away in a large box.

It was hot and humid when the boy pulled the scarf out, but despite the sun he kept it tucked against his chest beneath the tan undershirt. This became routine in the weeks following, and the cloth was constantly hidden from view. But the pattern came to an abrupt halt when the boy fell to the loamy soil below, and the body beneath the scarf turned cold. Suddenly the shirt above was ripped open, and the jungle moonlight bloomed across the fabric's surface while the color slowly changed from crimson to maroon.

The scarf was removed from the camo-boy by a pair of gruff, calloused hands and stuck in a laquered brown chest. It remained unopened until the girl in the black gloves gingerly laid it on the purple velvet bedspread next to a glittering array of metals. She decided she would never wear the scarf again, and placed it back in the dark closet along with the painful memories interwoven into the fabric.

Many decades passed before the scarf saw light again, pulled from its cubby by an unknown set of manicured hands and thrown into a basket labeled 'DONATIONS'. With a sigh the young woman loaded the bin into her small buick next to the 'Open House' signs in her backseat. The car jumbled the container as it traveled along the neglected road that led from the now vacant house, and a small pothole sent the fabric billowing out into the dirty street. A pair of filthy trembling hands adorned in torn wool mittens lifted the cloth up and wrapped it around a man's neck that night, and every night thereafter the red scarf kept the man warm.

This routine changed again years later, when the man heard shrill cries in the dark alley he would often call home. Behind a dumpster sitting bare in a broken stroller was a newborn child, screaming in the cold. The man scooped up the child, and in a quick motion tore the scarf from his grimy skin and cloaked the baby in the still soft fabric. That night he passed the baby into the arms of a woman in simple black habit, and the bundle was taken into the candlelit hall. The pacified boy now slept in the woman's arms as she gingerly set him in a small bed, removing his wrappings.

Although the scarf was now dirty, frayed and well-worn, the woman gently washed it before laying it back upon the child's wool blanket. As the boy grew he wondered often about where he came from, and would frequently trace the remains of the intricate embroidery upon the faded, two-toned red cloth. As he studied and worked in the small courtyard garden he would envision fanciful tales about the odd scarf. When he left the orphanage for university, the now grown man draped it across his shoulders to blot out the early-winter chill.

On Christmas Eve, as the scarfed man passed by the local bakery near his campus, he saw a small boy in a blue tattered cap crying by the door. He leaned down and comforted the boy, who was dirty and alone, and wiped his tears with the soft tassels of the red cloth. With a momen'ts reflection he unwound the scarf and laid it in the boy's hands. He told the child the fantastical histories he'd envisioned of the fabric's origins, of the mysterious stranger who'd saved him, and the comfort he'd received as a lost child himself. At first the boy rebuked him with suspicion, his eyes frightened beneath the brim of the blue cap. But at the man's insistence he wrapped the warm garment around his hands to warm them. With a light wave and moment's hesitation the man walked off, and staring at the scarf the boy said a prayer before running into the alley beyond.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER




Paul screamed as he beat his fists against the glass, his bruised and battered knuckles flailing helplessly against the tempered walls. Above him the perched demoness watched with a cocked eye, silent save for the faint thudding of its avian heart. He tried desperately to avoid its gaze, hiding beneath the thick foliage lining the offering box. With a thundering caw and a beat of one mighty wing, the foul beast swept the ferns and bushes from Paul's corner, sending the man flying like a ragdoll into a nearby pile of bramble.

***

The whole of the city watched the live-feed carefully, safe and warm in their secured and reinforced homes. Some still held their crumpled, sweat stained tickets. Others had tossed them out the moment the lottery was over. Everyone, however, stayed silent. Waiting.

***

His lungs collapsed, Paul struggled for air as he thrashed against the exposed glass and thorns. His cries for help carried far but were useless in this suspended tomb above the central tower. The last thing he saw before the world melted out of focus was the swollen red blot, stark against the faded parchment that had been passed down for generations.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I'm in.

I've always been in. For generations, my bloodline stalked the halls of the great "IN" and the ancient eldritch horrors lurking beyond the veil knew for certain that I. Am. In.

I love ancient horror tales.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Fire Opal

1561 Words

Caroline wiped the remaining flecks of vomit from her lips on the back of her scrub's sleeve as she straightened up from the bio-hazard bin. Even after so long on the job, there were still some smells she couldn't prepare for; the thick stench creeping from the new arrival's wounds was certainly one of them. She swallowed bitterly as she picked the patient's chart off the Nurse's desk and scanned the abstract details of his visit. Clearing her throat and breathing through her mouth, Caroline stepped back into the small room and greeted the lone occupant.

“Good evening Donald,” Caroline said calmly, any trace of revulsion scrubbed clean from her tone. “I'll be your nurse tonight. How are you feeling?”

The frail form in front of her remained silent, its one good eye twitching slightly and the sound of the humming machinery around it was her only reply. Caroline sighed inwardly and continued chatting lightly as she changed the IV bags and took the patient's vitals. She wasn't expecting a reply, of course. According to his file, Dr. Donald Spencer hadn't said a word sense he'd been admitted and his whole body paralysis was unwavering. Still, she made it a habit to stay positive around her patients.

She stopped talking when it came time to pull aside the sheet, however. The smell and the mild trepidation were too much. Holding her breath, she removed the sterile blue dressing beneath to reveal an open, tunneling wound where the Doctor's belly button should be. The hole was around the size of a softball, and the purulent discharge that seeped from the blackened edges reeked of necrotic flesh.

Poor guy, Caroline thought to herself as she replaced the dressing and pulled the sheet over him, He's been in and out of surgery, but he's like a rock to the touch, and now that he's in the ICU we still don't know what's going on with- huh?

Caroline saw a flash of light from the bedside table. Inside a hospital standard personal-belongings satchel she could see the glint of something small and spherical. Although she'd never interfered with a patient's belongings before, there was something about the glimmer of light that made her reach out toward it. As she approached the nightstand she could see that it was some sort of ruby ring. It fractured the setting sunlight from the large window into a bright display of crimson fire, an enchanting display that drew her in closer. Suddenly the patient next door let out a scream, her dementia acting up as the sky outside darkened.

With a gasp Caroline stopped short of reaching into the bag, taking a quick glance at the man lying prone and still beneath the scratchy hospital sheets. In a split second the jewel was in her front pocket, and she gave a small cough and hurried out of the room. She finished her rounds that night still in a chipper enough manner, but a mixture of shame and nervousness lingered as her heels clacked against the tile floor.

***

That night Caroline's dreams were turbulent and broken. Spectral beings twisted and shifted in the dark, their pale forms dancing in agony or jubilation, she couldn't tell which. She heard ancient tongues ramble over one another, and she caught snippets of Latin and Greek which faded around her in the red void where she floated suspended in a viscous sea of pain. But most prominent as she screamed mindlessly into oblivion were the bright streams of light which wrapped around her in a helix of blurred images as she saw deep into the well of ancestral knowledge.

She wasn't Caroline, up and coming RN of Blair Grace Hospital in New York City. She was a small Chinese boy in irons, a German Princess at a wedding gala, an alien being to strange for words. She was all yet she was none, and in that shock of horror she felt more than dread. She felt a longing need. She wanted more. She would give anything. Even as she howled in misery she needed more.

***

Caroline woke up in pain the next day, her head throbbing with a migraine and her bed still wet from her night terror. As she did her laundry in disgust she thought about the man lying in that hospital room, his odd wounds, and the glistening ring that sat beside her wallet on the computer desk. Sitting down and rubbing at an itch above her left breast, she shifted the jewel into the top drawer. She felt nervous and guilty, she'd never stolen something from anyone before and it bothered her. Maybe I should just give it back to him. Who is he, anyway?

Pulling open her laptop she did a quick search for Dr. Donald Spencer, and was only vaguely surprised to find a blog about him in the local University Database. He was apparently a rather popular but radical cultural anthropologist, with a sizable cult following of his recent book series on his theories on the collective subconscious. He had a flair for the dramatic, and some light reading on her kindle later, Caroline had to admit he was a good author.

According to a recent post, Spencer was scheduled to conduct a visit to a remote village in the Australian Outback in order to explore some obscure aboriginal legend. He'd apparently cut it short, however, and had returned with little fanfare. In fact, the blogger seemed to have stopped reporting on him a couple of days before his admittance into the hospital. Made since that no one had heard from him, he'd been unconcious in his house when the mail man reported a gagging smell to the police. His stomach wound was fresh, and although it was only the size of a golfball the stench was horrid. As she began to get dressed she scratched at her chest again, prompting her to pop a antihistamine before hurrying into the street.

That night at work she decided to check in with Spencer again first, a little apprehensive of him being awake, the ring still sitting in her cramped apartment. When she arrived in the room it was empty, however, and she asked a nearby intern where he went. Her countenance fell when she was told the man had passed from complications.

“I heard,” the girl whispered conspiratorially, “that his abcess had grown to cover his entire abdomen, and the infection stopped his heart. They still don't know what caused it, what an unlucky guy.”

Stressed, she finished her shift in a silent stupor, her prior optimism gone. Her headache was worse than ever, and her acetaminophen wouldn't touch it. And worse, the area above her chest was sore and kind of raw, prompting her to buy some calamine lotion from the pharmacy on her way home.

***

Caroline woke that night from another, similar nightmare, but this time it wasn't her headache but her torso which caused her to scream in bed. She fell to the floor, her legs stiff and unworking, her flesh hard to the touch around her joints. Stumbling over to the bathroom she flicked on the light and stopped breathing as she looked into the mirror. A small hole the size of a pea was pulsing steadily, a rancid sent emanating from the powdery purple edges which flaked slightly as she watched in horror.

Throwing on a sweatshirt she raced her way to the hospital, her joints now stiff and aching, preparing herself to enter the ER. But she stopped herself before she reached the parking lot, turning instead on to University Ave. Running up the cobblestone walkway to the Archaeology department, she was out of breath by the time she reached Dr. Spencer's office. The room was locked, but with no one around Caroline broke the glass front and reached in to unlatch the door. Still unaware of what she was looking for, she rifled through his desk looking for some clue as to what happened to him, and what was happening to her. Five minutes later she found a hidden notebook taped to the underside of one of the drawers. Flipping through it she could see that it was a journal chronicling his recent trip.

In terror, she read that the legend was regarding an ancient cursed stone from long before the local tribes existed that granted limitless knowledge for a dangerous price. Although they would be able to see the across time and space, anyone who held the stone would be petrified before being devoured. The only way to avoid it would be to return the stone to its original resting place deep in the midst of Ares rock before the passing of the full moon. Checking her smartphone she could see she had three days before the moon betrayed her. Sprinting down the steps she felt her chest burn and throb, but she fought through the pain and stumbled to her car in the lot outside.

Caroline could feel her body tensing up and creaking as she moved, but she had to hurry. The Doctor may not have believed the tale but she sure as hell did. And as she called in to work to say she was taking some vacation time she could feel the stone burning in her pocket yearning to return home. And by God would she abide it.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Well, I wouldn't be representing the good denizens of Nevada if I didn't put it all on Red, in with Double or nothing. And I'll lay my life on the line for good measure like the degenerate gambler I am.

Deal me in, baby

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Prompt: Picturesque Picaresque.

Flash Rule: The ship was sinking, the mark was missing, and there I was handcuffed to the Ethiopian eunuch.

The Adventures of Colin Flame: Heiress on the High Seas

1554 words


The clang of crossed sabers rang out across the mahogany deck, above the din of the roaring crew. Both combatants were surefooted despite the high-tossing sea, and they danced a deadly waltz back toward the forecastle pushing sweaty onlookers into the weathered oak railing. Colin knew he'd have to end the bitter tango quickly, yet he still lacked the location of the Count's daughter. The rogue spun a high kick into the officer's right hand, which caused his heavy sword to slip easily through his silk-gloved fingers.

Colin stood triumphant for a moment, but the red-faced admiral flung his good hand outward and the surrounding sailors stepped forward. With an exaggerated sigh, Colin dropped his sword to the deck before reaching into the sky and kneeling on the lacquered timber.

“Well, as I live and breathe. Look men, it's the Flame of the South!” Leaning close, he spoke in a lower voice that only the two of them could hear, “Thank you, knave. Now I not only have a beautiful maiden waiting in my bed chambers, but a promotion waiting for me when I bring you back to the noose.”

***

Colin stirred groggily, the snoring of the guard nudging him awake. The first thing he noticed, aside from a headache, was that he'd been shackled by a thick chain to a metal loop jutting out of the wooden hull. He pulled on it and although there was a little slack, he suddenly felt it pull him back.

A sharp voice with a thick African accent cried out, “Hey, stop that!”

Startled, Colin realized that the chain was looped around to another person some six feet away. Piercing through the deep night were a pair of bright eyes, sternly scowling at him. The man introduced himself gruffly as Kaleb, the bodyguard assigned to the young heiress Astaire Dubois that had been captured and brought on ship. Colin raised an eyebrow, saying he was a mercenary hired to track the girl down. That proved to be a foolish move as he was forcibly yanked hard into the wall.

“Hey!”

“I won't let you lay a finger on her!” Kaleb shouted into the still room, now standing over him.

“Calm down! The guards will hear you, idiot,” Colin hissed. “I was sent by her father, Count Dubois, to rescue her. Do you know where she is?”

Kaleb shook his head slowly in the dark, still suspicious. “Her father is a bad man. He's just using her as a political bargaining chip, the bastard.” He spat on the floor when he finished.

“Well you guys still got captured. Apparently you're not that good a bodyguard, eh?”

Kaleb glowered darkly at him, and keeping his voice steady he explained that it was more than loyalty, they were in love. But two weeks prior they were ambushed by her father together in the heiress' bed. Furious with her sleeping with a servant, he had the guards whisk them off to this ship in the dead of night. The lady was locked away out of sight, and he was beaten horribly. Before they were through, the ship's doctor had been paid a special bonus to “take care” of him, by the Count himself. Colin inwardly cringed and instinctively covered his groin as Kaleb lifted his sackcloth skirt to show a healing scar. He glared at him again, repeating that Colin better leave the girl alone.

Colin chuckled softly and said not to worry because his heart was already taken by another, but if they could manage to make it out of there he'd help them out. “Besides,” he said, “I have a sweet little bird waiting for me tonight, and it wouldn't do to stand them up.”

After a quick chat with Kaleb over the plan, he finally nodded in agreement.

“Alright,” Colin said, “One...two...” Together they gripped the chain on both sides of the iron loop. With a pull they tore the iron loop and the board it was attached to free from the hull. Along with it came a steady pulse of water pouring into the small space. They clocked the guard with the remains of the iron ring and dragged him to the corner of the room before stripping him of his uniform. Throwing the jacket over his shoulders and placing the guard cap over his hair, Colin led Kaleb in the dark toward the end of the hall near the large ladderwell. Colin opened the crew doors and woke them up with shouts of 'Help!' and 'We are all doomed!'. The shocked and still drunk sailors streamed past him without a sideways glance, running to the source of the seawater now soaking Colin's socks.

Sneaking up into the upper deck they hear the soft crying of a woman drifting down the candlelit hallway from the captain's suite. The admiral was in the room talking to the heiress, and as they peeked through the stateroom window they saw her seated across from him at a lavish dinner table, food untouched.

“Tonight, my dear,” the admiral said between mouthfuls of dripping gravy and meat, “we will finally see what makes the women of your country so...” his lewd gaze drifted below the blue diamond necklace she wore and at the young woman's frilly that barely concealed the cleavage, “interesting.” Kaleb opened his mouth, but Colin shushed him before he could say anything and they dove behind a barrel. Dabbing at his face with a towel, the captain rose and opened the door, and when the sounds of shouting reached him from below he took off down the hallway.

Dashing into the room, the girl screamed and grabbed the fork off the table, brandishing it against Colin until she saw Kaleb come rushing in, sweeping her into his arms. Looking at the still healing bruises she began to cry again, but he brushed her tears aside before pressing their lips together in a lover's embrace.

Coughing a bit, Colin jiggled the iron chain that still bound them and the trio began tossing the room looking for the key. Pulse racing, Colin glanced over to Astaire as she swept her hair behind her bejeweled ear while digging through the desk drawer and he suddenly had an idea.

“Those earrings, hand them here!”

She looked up, startled. “Why?”

He quickly liberated Astaire of the long gold and diamond earrings and bent the hook into a pick. With practiced skill, the young rogue sprung the lock free with a resounding click, and set about freeing the other man as well. Still rubbing his wrist, Colin motioned for the pair to follow him up onto the top deck.

The moonlight sparkled against the luminescent water, casting plenty of light for the huddled group to run toward the aft of the ship where Colin had spied the lifeboats before sneaking aboard. Astaire was climbing over the railing with Kaleb's help, and Colin was keeping lookout back toward the forecastle when they heard the sound of a blade whistling through the air. The girl suddenly screamed and Colin turned and watched as the only readied lifeboat careened into the sea below, severed rope trailing behind it and slipping beneath the waves. Astaire was dangling from the railing, Kaleb holding her with one arm and grasping Colin with his other. Stepping out from a stack of large crates, saber still in hand, the admiral slowly advanced toward the group with maniacal grin on his face.

“Well now, there's nowhere for you to go is there? And as for you two,” He sneered at the struggling couple, “The Admiralty won't be happy but mistakes can be made. Sometimes people get lost.” He bellowed laughter into the air, drowning out Astaire's screams.

Just then, the call of a raven could be heard, billowing out over the sea. Hearing the call and with a sudden smile, Colin looked down at the waves before yelling jauntily to his companions.

“Do you guys trust me?”

“NO!” they said in unison.

“Good enough for me!” and with a quick salute toward the confused ship captain he let go of Kaleb's arm and jumped over the edge, sending them all tumbling into the dark.

***

The frigate was sailing away fast as Colin swam over to the dark rocking sail boat and grasped the friendly hand of his compatriot. The slender man threw a blanket over him and led him away from the huddled form of the two other refugees, once again embracing each other against the cold sea-breeze.

Over the next hour as they sailed to the safety of Colin's Grotto, he informed his partner of all that had transpired. But he looked skeptical when Colin mentioned they would smuggle the pair away into the streets of London.

“I'm glad you're back mate, but I thought we were supposed to be bringing her back to her father. Every time, I swear. How are we supposed to pay the men?”

Smiling, Colin produced the diamond earrings, dangling them privately in the moonlight. “Think of them as an anniversary gift,” He whispered as he stole a kiss from the blushing but beaming fellow, “You don't know how much I missed that birdsong of yours.”

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Well, you named dropped one of my favorite novels, I gotta get in now.

Things keep getting busy though, so to be safe.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Tense

1000 words






sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Tense

1000 words






sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I must defend my tarnished honor, IN. Dealer's choice, only thing wild is the narrative.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Prompt!

Your playset is Lucky Strike!
Relationship: Secret murderers
Relationship: Fish-out-of-water farm boys
Relationship: Poker buddies
Location: Beneath the auditorium stage
Object: Colonel's war booty, secured in an oddly heavy crate
Need: To get out of the war, which is driving you insane
Tilt: Cold-blooded score-settling


Promises

1498 words

Alfie sighed as the last of his chips disappeared, and walking over to the exit with a half-hearted wave, the new sergeant quietly bemoaned the loss of his paycheck. His solid frame was built through years of hard labor on his father's 40 acres of Nebraska gold, and he threw open the heavy oak doors of the Enlisted Club with ease despite the bottle of whiskey he'd put away during the game.

The cool winter air whisked away the scent of pipe tobacco, the rich smell of the dew covered fields at his new duty station a welcome respite from the acrid stench of black powder and rot Alfie had come to know in the trenches. He dug a Lucky Strike from his fatigue pocket and his naphtha from his boot as he walked up the gravel walkway toward the smoke deck gazebo. He bent down to light his cigarette but paused when he saw a hunched over soldier feeding scraps of food to a stray calico over the deck railing. With a smile he walked over to the freckled young private and rested his arms on the cracked birch plank, staring out over the French landscape that stretched beyond the reserve base's border.

“You know you're not supposed to feed the strays, right Jaimie?” Alfie said quietly, leaning over to ignite the tobacco. “Someone's gonna call you out one of these nights, and I ain't gonna be able to do much to stop 'em.”

“C'mon Sarge, look at this lil' guy.” Jaimie began petting the purring cat, small tufts of fur billowing up and sticking to the teen's own shaggy mop of ruddy red hair. “It ain't got a home either, it's got just as much a reason to eat as me.”

Alfie felt a pang in his chest, the snake like guilt slithering up in his throat again. Jaimie looked so much like his brother, and when mind drifted back to that promise he'd made Jeb in that damned trench, he couldn't help but see his old friend reflected in this boy's eyes. He'd been able to get a transfer to stick the kid away from the front lines, but still... it was no guarantee they'd be able to stay together. He had to figure out a way to get back stateside, and soon.

Suddenly a rock came flying through the gazebo, hitting with an audible thunk against the stray's flank and sending the animal yowling into the night. Alfie whirled around to see the large figure of Staff Sergeant Lockheed stride up to them, the cards the group had been using held against his rolled up sleeves.

“Fuckin' filthy beasts, if I had my rifle handy I'd cull the ingrates myself,” he muttered as he lit his cigar and leaned against the corner of the gazebo. “Hey boy,” the NCO barked in Jaimie's direction, “Next time give it a good smack instead of petting it like a candy-rear end. It's unbecoming of a soldier in my unit.”

Jaimie blushed hard, his face becoming ruddy and his eyes beginning to water. With a cough he quickly descended the smoke deck steps and walked quickly back toward the barracks. Lockheed chuckled darkly as he turned and met Alfie's angry gaze.

“That's over the line, Lockheed. You're lucky I don't knock those teeth right down that city-boy throat.”

Lockheed stepped back a bit, his voice softening as he replied, “Hey now, just a friendly suggestion, from one old war buddy to another,” he grinned. “Besides, I have a proposition for you that might help your boy out, eh?” lowering his voice, he added, “It's been a while, Alfie, but it's time for another job.”

***

Jaimie stood by the idling get-away truck, waiting for the guard to make his way over from the back of the drill hall. The ceremony for the change of command was well underway, and all eyes were on the bigwigs inside. Except for the eyes of the scrawny night watchman striding over to him, those were locked on his aviators. He watched as Alfie and Lockheed stepped out from behind the oleander bush, quietly opening the door and slipping into the bottom level of the Auditorium.

The Colonel has those German tapestries from the early marches, they're stored in that safe under the drill hall since the armory is too full. It'll be an easy gig, man. You guys want outta this place right? Don't worry Jaimie, your brother and Alfie were old hats at this. In and out it should only take about 10 minutes, just wait for us and we'll do all the dirty work.

Jaimie ran out of chitchat 15 minutes into the conversation, and when the guard finished his second cigarette the young man was completely out of ways to distract him. He'd just given up when he saw the first tendrils of smoke curl out from beneath the door frame, then he broke into a run.

***

Alfie slipped in the back door with Lockheed as the guard moseyed on over to where Jaimie was standing. What a charmer, just like his brother, he thought to himself. The boy had a simple role, but it was his first, and hopefully last, job like this. Quickly descending the steps of the hall and into the storage space below the stage, he used the light from his old smuggling partner to illuminate the heavy cedar crate that held the key to their freedom.

The din from the party above was loud enough to cover the sound of Alfie's crowbar as he pried open the lid and began hauling out the heavy silk tapestries within onto the dirt floor below. Good, let's get these out of here, then I'll split the pay with the kid and get the hell-

CLICK

Alfie froze, the cold edge of a revolver pressing into the back of his neck. “Lockheed, what-”

“Sorry mate, it's just business. Old man Lestrada doesn't want any loose ends after that botched wet-work job in Prague,” Lockheed said, calmly taking a slight step back and setting down the kerosene lamp as Alfie slowly turned around to face him. “And after that nancy Jeb saved your rear end in Nice, well, I guess a gas attack with a sabotaged mask wasn't enough to take you down. But now? I'm gonna stop a robbery in progress.” I'll take my cut and your boy out there will take the fall. Bye, Alfie.”

He pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. In the moment it took for the large man to realize his gun had jammed, Alfie had knocked the firearm from his hand and into the lamp, the kerosene spraying across the room setting the tapestries alight. The two men tumbled back and forth together as the smoke and flames filled the room, and the party above erupted into cries of fear.

Lockheed broke free and sprinted out of the room as Jaimie came stumbling in choking on smoke. The last thing Alfie saw as the boy drug him out of that stairwell, clothing spotted here and there with burning embers, was Jeb's watch glinting in the firelight from his wrist.

***

Alfie stared vacantly out the infirmary window at the breaking dawn, a fresh medical discharge letter in his gauze-bound hands. It was a solid retirement, and he'd be able to nab that farm on the outskirts of Topeka. But none of that was on his mind as the tears rolled down his soot stained cheeks. He had just finished his interview with the Military Police, and he was caught in a whirlwind of emotions: relief, that the MPs were satisfied with his version of events that night following the disturbed Lockheed who’d been heavily drinking; anger, that Lockheed was in the wind, fleeing into the night; but over all else was guilt, that Jaimie was still unconscious in the bed next to his.

Slowly, Alfie stumbled out of his rack and hobbled over to Jaimie's limp body wrapped in bandages that covered most of his left side. The medics told him the boy should make it with only some minor disfigurement on his body, but it was touch and go until he decided to wake up. Gently he stroked his fiery hair, the sleeping face so much like Jeb's when the pain was gone and his expression went slack. When Alfie cried against his chest in that filthy trench, breathing through the unbroken mask Jeb had thrust on him as the gas canisters fell. His choked pleas the last thing he'd said to Alfie in confidence, after so many nights together far from home.

“I'll protect you Jaimie,” Alfie whispered, foot brushing against the boy's twin termination letter flung haphazardly to the floor by an errant nurse. “I made a promise, and I'll always be by your side.” Praying softly, he looked up at the window once more and watched through swimming eyes as the sun bathed the grassy fields in gold.

Then Jaimie opened his eyes.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Thanks for the crit Tyrannosaurus!

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I'm up for judging if you'll have me, Quoproquid.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Sand’s Crit Battle Royale

Thunderdome Week 291:
[Monumental Failures]

Alright, Gladiators: I’m here, I’m ready, I’m guzzling some questionably good wine. Judge-Emperor Sand’s on the hunt for narrative blood, so swing them word counts and fire some prose, ‘cause no one’s story is walking outta this arena unscathed. Release the Crits of War.

Warrior #1: Unfunny Poster
Weapon: Undisputed
The Battle: Ah an MMA fighter on his way to a championship bout against an opponent he’s sure to defeat? Well I can see where this is going, but hopefully you surprise me/capture my attention. Well, one paragraph in and we have some comma issues and a sentence that reads awkwardly:

Mixed Martial Arts is a challenging sport in that regard and Gordon was at the top of his game, making the walk towards a title fight being watched by several million people around the world.

Let’s try rewriting the sentence to read:

Mixed Martial Arts is a challenging sport in that regard, and Gordon was at the top of his game. This title fight walk was being watched by several million people around the world.

Breaking this down into two separate sentences prevents it from being run-on, which it was before, as well as preserves the sort-of snapshot sentence structure you’ve been using to reveal Pierce’s thoughts throughout. Well let’s move on to the battle! Well he got some good licks in, and the way you write the fight is pretty good, so I hope you carry this to the ending.
Annnnd… Nope. You run out of steam in the last couple of paragraphs as you wrap it up. I would have either dedicated a few more paragraphs to the resolution, or at least stuck with the snapshot quality of your first paragraphs.
The Good: I like Pierce’s characterization; he’s eager, but overconfident, and that showed in your word choice and his lack of focus when it counted. The description of the fight itself was well choreographed and was easy to follow along with as well. You also delivered a good, if fairly straight forward, take on this weeks prompt.
The Bad: Your sentence structure, especially in the final paragraphs, are too choppy. With several comma issues, some missing and some where they aren’t supposed to be, the reader is forced to pull themselves out of the action and guess at the pacing instead of drifting along naturally. Dramatic flow, the way the audience follows the action with the same sense of tension as the POV character, is vital in a short story in order to maintain engagement and raise the stakes. By being stingy with the length and detail of the various emotions Pierce is feeling as he processes what happens in the story, you lose the deep emotional impact you would have gleaned from an enraptured audience. Additionally, I felt the ending was too abrupt and left me with questions that the story didn’t address enough to be a satisfactory pay off.
The Ugly Truth: Overall, the story was sort of a predictable competition storyline that lived and died on its presentation of the action and the reader’s investment in the characters. But well written action and a good setup couldn’t withstand poor grammatical choices and a cutoff ending.

⅖: Mauled by Lion in MMA Gear


Warrior #2: JayWFriks
Weapon: Everything at Once
The Battle: Ah, this is gonna be sad/creepy, isn’t it? I’m a sucker for psychological horror, and the look into the existential crisis of an Alzheimer's victim definitely fits the bill, so you have an advantage right of the bat. I like how you heavily hint at the themes without giving away exactly what’s going on, it allows the reader to sort of fill in the blanks. Oh, so we’re TP Omnipresent. Bit of a let down, I’d have liked to stay in our victim protag’s head for the duration but dealers choice, i guess. Aww, you spelled out the alzheimer’s issue. Hmmm, a bit too explanatory, and your pacing here around the accident reveal is odd, but it’s not a mortal wound. I like this, very good use of sentence structure to show her mind unraveling. Wait a sec, how did she get back home from the hospital, and why would Henry take her back if she’s obviously in the throws of chemical induced dementia? I dunno if it’s a plothole or just a spiraling ending, but it’s kinda vague.
The Good: There’s a lot to like here. As I said, I enjoy this style of story, and I think the way you translate alzheimer's and psychosis is excellently creepy. I also like that you addressed the prompt with both vantage point characters, in that they both sealed Lois’ fate in equal measure.
The Bad: I still think sticking with Lois’ perspective would have been the way to go; the Henry delivering the procedure scene was unnecessary and bogged down the drama in Act Two. Better that it was just Lois’ thoughts as she went under the anesthesia or something. The disappointing factor here is that I think you hedged your bets and tipped your hand too far. You were maintaining good tension and suspense, but you didn’t seem to give your reader much credit in making their own conclusions, and the over explanation of the procedure itself and some repetition near the end muddled the story a bit.
The Ugly Truth: I really liked this story, and despite some odd perspective and narrative choices at times, the majority of the prose flowed nicely to a twisted end. Poor Lois.

⅘: Poisoned into spiraling madness by a Hydra whose last head you missed



Warrior #3: Lazy Beggar
Weapon: Alone in the Dark
The Battle: Hmmm, i sense existential crisis. IN SPACE!!!!! I don’t really care for scifi, but we’ll see how it goes. There’s quite a bit of exposition dump in the beginning, which I’d prefer be spread out a bit, and WOW this guy seems dangerously depressed. Like, why is he allowed to captain a ship in this obvious state of grief/suicidal thoughts? The mirror cliche is also present in full force, but at least he’s not describing his haggard visage or anything, so I can’t it that much. Yep, just as I thought, suicidal urges to get sucked in a black hole, drat this is stark. The unauthorized flight path bit and the engines going out seems kinda tacked on, he was obviously going to force himself into the breach anyway. So. This ends with lots of questions, but the one I’m most curious about is the use of the prompt. Where’s the mistake? I suppose it could have been the brother’s death, somehow? I dunno it seems like he definitely tries and succeeds at dooming himself and his ship to getting crushed by the blackhole and ‘seeing the other side’.
The Good: I liked your setting, and felt that you had excellent details in both the description of the ship itself and the mental state of the POV character.
The Bad: That being said, the protagonist is sort of one dimensional in his suicidal depressive guilt, and I think a nice contrast even just to outline how dark his countenance really has become would have been welcome. Additionally, some of the later parts are clunky, especially the file-ex-machina and the bumper course on the way to the black hole, and I think it may have been better to clean the end up a bit.
The Ugly Truth: Unfortunately I just couldn’t see through what the protagonist’s main trial was. Unless it was how quickly he could destroy himself, which he didn’t seem to fail, in which case the prompt isn’t really there. This issue along with the poor pacing kinda leaves me confused and depressed, and not in a good way.

⅖: Eaten by a sand worm and warped into a black hole



Warrior#4: Thranguy
Weapon: Sub Luna Saltamus
The Battle: Hey I like this song. Let’s see what we’ve got. Hmmm, this veered from buddycomedy into creepypasta territory methinks. I like. Ah, couple comma issues in the middle, nothing egregious so far, but this is coming up enough in this week I may do a rant to stem the tide. I see another witch is in their midst. Teach those boys a lesson, eh? I’m a bit confused as to what exactly is going on in the background, the characters obviously aren’t in a vaccum and it seems odd that this would be treated so casually in public, but whatever, I’ll suspend disbelief. Horror ensues! And… Retcon. I like the ending though, very satisfactory feeling of fullness on a short story.
The Good: This was well written, with a good balance of horror/surreal imagery and campy humor that screamed 1970s/80s B movie in a cool way. Also, way to go on nailing the disaster for the prompt with a happy ending to boot.
The Bad: There were few grammatical errors, which made them a bit jarring when they appeared, and the action was a little complicated for its length.
The Ugly Truth: I really liked this one, I felt it struck a nostalgic cord while still being a nic compact short story, and the use of the prompt was spot on.

5/5:Battered and bloody from the Lamprey fight, but still ready for round 2




Warrior#5 Antivehicular
Weapon: To Shoot for the Moon and Miss
The Battle: This one’s pretty short, let’s see if it packs a punch. Oh no, second person. My bane for good immersion. But hey, I’ll see how it goes maybe it’ll grow on me. Hmmm, accidentally sending myself into a mortal hell of isolation? Sounds like something I’d do, checks out. Well, I was hooked but the story begins losing speed in the 5th and 6th paragraphs where I just can’t agree with the POV character. It’s petty, but one of the reasons I dislike second person is that when it hits it hits well, and when it misses is far more than overshoots the moon. Personally, I can see a character making the choice to go on, but my cowardly rear end would nope right the gently caress back into a coma. Other than that it’s well told for the short time it’s there, and it’s a nice creepy space interlude [the second one so far. Will there be another?]
The Good: I liked the presentation, and the writing itself was well done. I definitely enjoyed this take on a scifi horror that doesn’t immediately jump into ALIENS!!!!
The Bad: Man, I really wish this was in Third Person. I’m of the mind that
Second Person is a dangerously volatile chemical. When it burns right it’s a shining piece of fiction that sticks with you in a personal part of your mind. But when it blows up, which it often does, it takes the immersion with it.
The Ugly Truth: This is a supremely claustrophobic and unnerving premise and I would have loved the character study if it wasn’t using me and my stupid brain in the driver’s seat.

⅗: Launched into the frozen abyss of space.



Warrior #6: BabyRyoga
Weapon: An Unlikely Uprising
The Battle: Is that a typo in sentence one? Hmmm. Luckily it seems to have been rectified later on, and the use of sentence structure to convey the fractured thoughts is a nice touch. Oh my, the King is quite mad. My god, AHAHAHA that got me. Nice transition , didn’t see the man in the park coming. Now this is some good exposition dialogue, and the tonal/structure shift is pronounced and welcome. I also didn’t catch how he was hoping to kill the ducks but instead made them healthier.
The Good: This made me laugh and I loved the way it continued to subvert my expectations. The prose was a bit janky in the beginning, but found it’s way very quickly and I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t intentional, so kudos on that. Excellent use of the prompt, and overall a nice command of tone and structure.
The Bad: A bit vague and choppy in the beginning before I’m quite ready to let you take me on a ride. Clean up the first part and buy the reader dinner first so they can settle in for the fun.
The Ugly Truth: A fun, subversive take on the prompt that I greatly enjoyed with few flaws that I can’t really nail down as mistakes.

5/5: Flew straight out of the Arena on the back of some particularly rebellious waterfowl




Warrior#7: Tyrannosaurus
Weapon: Mine is the Blood of Wolf and Deer
The Battle: Oh boy, the psychologist’s chair. And schizophrenic? Let’s find out if we’re going accurate and sensitive or Hollywood crazy, shall we? Hmmm, seems kinda janky with the lines, can’t put my finger on it but the dialogue seems stilted. This is a bit confusing, and not in a dreamy way, but more muddled I guess? I’m not sensing any real agency here. I get that he’s talking through this dream, but the therapist sounds like a cardboard cutout with a voice box of preloaded therapy questions. I had to double check and make sure you didn’t accidentally copy paste, it seems very repetitive in the third quarter. Well, that was an abrupt ending. Gotta say I was a bit relieved to finish, there wasn’t much of a hook and it was hard to follow.
The Good: It was well written, there weren’t any major typos or grammatical blunders which is good for the odd structure choices.
The Bad: Yeah, gotta say I’m confused by this one. Did he kill his therapist? Did he fire her? Is he vanishing into his delusion? Overall the prose was stilted and the plot was too difficult to follow to ensnare my attention.
The Ugly Truth: A well written jumble of plotlines I can’t be bothered with trying to untangle.

⅖: Dosed with snake poison and forced to live in delusion on the battlefield




Warrior#8???: Apophenium
Weapon: Lucifer Burning Bright
The Battle: Wait a second. Who’s this contender? He’s not on the docket… Ah well, we’ll DQ him and throw his body in the pit later, for now let’s see him battle! Hmmm. So a march in purgatory wanting only for… his dogs? Okay. I’m confused. So has he been in hell for eons? If so, I’m afraid his animals are quite, quite dead. This is a bit flowery, but I get the vibe your striving for. “Stuck in hell? Shop here at deus ex machina car emporium, we’ve got cooled leather seats for all your ritualistic needs!” So it wasn’t millenia, only in his mind? And now he’s a ghost. But no one can see him so he becomes a dustcloud and… goes back to hell? Wow that’s depressing. Still, I like the writing style here, and despite my ambivalence to the plot it was well executed. Just like you will be for entering without entering. Off with his head!
The Good: Well written and easy to follow structure once the reader wraps their head around it, and a likeable POV Character.
The Bad: The story is a bit boring, too listless and depressing to inspire much more than apathy in the absence of a more clear setup or build-up to the reveal that he is intangible to everyone.
The Ugly: Overall, a functional if lifeless story that meets the basics of this week. Much like Dalton.

⅗ *DQ: dragged off to the pit after round 1




Warrior #9: BadSeaFood
Weapon: The Vantage Point
The Battle: I see we’re starting with some symbolism. The son is a priest, so I’m guessing we’re gonna delve into some death stuff. I like the parallels in the descriptions of the father and the couch, this and a couple other things so far are good examples of exposition without forcing it down our throats. No! So close! I really liked the back and forth between the two, not so repetitive but giving little pieces to the puzzle. But then you go and spoil it by having Felix straight up tell the audience the answer “Dad was alcoholic, and not there, and let us down, etc.” When you were trusting the reader to make the connections, even if they were the wrong ones, your story had much more presence and scope. That said, the simple and understated ending redeemed it for me a bit.
The Good: The dialogue and premise are great. Just enough cliche with a peppering in of realism. A satisfying, if curt, ending that really lands the tone well.
The Bad: Breaking the immersion with an unnecessary exposition dump was jarring in an otherwise solid piece.
The Ugly Truth: Cliche, but that’s not always a bad thing, a little more trust and this would have flowed beatifully.

⅗: Forced to watch the Lion drive away, leaving them with only bitter scotch and bitter memories of what could have been.




Warrior #10: Flesnolk
Weapon: Southward
The Battle: Well that’s colorful prose. The writing is a bit stilted even for this style, wait… Where’s the commas? Ah I get it. This is supposed to be sort of a slideshow effect? Well it kind of works if that’s the case, but I still have to ding you on the sentence structure, as some of these sentences NEED commas in order to read correctly even in this format. I would reword the sentences so that we get the same impact without having to mentally add our own commas, since it kind of defeats your point. At least I hope that’s what it is, because otherwise we need a comma intervention. Anyway, the subject matter is pretty vibrant and evocative, but with some of these other typo/grammatical errors it becomes muddled and muted. Dark and depressing contrasts well here, so goodjob making me feel miserable. I like it.
The Good: Brave take on narrative structure, and good use of imagery and senses in order to convey your rotting version of the apocalypse.
The Bad: Your restrictive use of punctuation tends a bit too tight and cuts off the circulation to your story, especially in the beginning set up.
The Ugly Truth: An interesting story with a risky gamble I must commend you on attempting, but that I’m afraid flounders a bit in the execution.

3/5: Trampled by a cavalcade of commas carrying on creepily


Alright, the blood has been spilled, the wine has been drunk, and the commas restored to their rightful place. Good Job everyone who didn’t fail, and see ya next time.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In, lets get tubular, dudes.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I'm back baby, and I am In. Flash me a good one!

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I'm alive and In, flash me a fun one.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In the Eye of the Beholder

1109 words

Sarah paused for a moment, her fingers absently tracing the edges of the aged canvas. Gazing into the softly painted eyes of the portrait, she had forgotten all about the idling towncar in the estate's emptying lot. She snapped out of her reverie when a gloved hand gently tapped her elbow, her breath catching in temporary shock until she realized it was merely the driver. Handing him the picture, he looked puzzled for some reason, but quickly snapped to and headed around the back of the vehicle.

There was plenty of room in the compartment compared to the Countess' usual outings, which her husband often referred to as her silly “Trinket Trips” when he'd taken too much brandy with the gentlemen in the lower parlor. He'd never said it to her directly of course, he was usually patient and discreet with her personal proclivities, but when the liquor passed his lips they became far more loose. Still, he'd ]sit stoically in his chair and never rebuke her when Sarah would come home with crates of curious statues and unreadable texts from the far flung corners of the world, and for that if nothing else she was eternally grateful. But today's find was both fascinating and oddly urbane for her tastes, and Sarah looked forward to proudly displaying it in her curio room in the East wing.

Sarah had only known of the canvas from one her many tittering beetles, as she fondly called them, each carefully groomed contact an expert in one of her many fields of interest. This particularly shining insect was an art collector whom had gotten her many exquisite pieces over the years, some with most unsavory pasts or difficult acquisitions, but her contact always ensured a fair price for his most revered patron. In this case, it was the final work of the late Nicholai Varstok, an enigmatic painter whose path had crossed Sarah's most recent line of inquiry. The rumors she'd heard titillated her curiosity, ranging from alchemical secrets to insight into the divine. Though much of what she'd gathered proved fruitless and was likely fake anyway, this painting would act as a fine centerpiece for her next exhibition.

It was a simple piece, to be sure; sitting at a small writing desk was a beautiful young woman clad in a dark and finely detailed cerulean gown, her hand resting on a small pile of books, her expression frozen in contemplation. There was a slight greenish tint to the color that seemed to age the picture, that emanated from a glinting letter opener in the girl's other hand. What really charmed her, however, was that the girl looked remarkably like herself. Not identical, obviously, the brow was too furrowed with lines and the skin a bit gaunt, but otherwise it bore a striking resemblance. She'd decided she would surprise her husband with it once it was hung on the wall. Perhaps I should wear my own cerulean dancing dress for the viewing next week, she thought to herself with a small giggle.

It had already passed well into the evening when Sarah entered the Count's study, her normally composed expression broken with a mischievous grin.

“Darling,” she called cloyingly, “do come into my trophy room, I have a surprise for you.”

“Sarah, dear, can it wait? Lord Valium is on his way and should be here any moment,” he spoke from behind a newspaper in his chair, glass of brandy already half-empty in his right hand. Sarah huffed and began to storm out when she heard a defeated sigh and the ruffling of papers behind her. Minutes later she flung open the door to her curio room, and proudly gestured at the now framed portrait flanked by shelves of glittering baubles from her recent trips. She turned to him expectantly, but he remained quiet with a confused expression beneath his well-oiled mustache.

“Well? Isn't it interesting?” she asked after a moment.

“Is what interesting? Dear, you know I'm not very involved in your trinkets and hobbies, and I've seen those already anyway,” he said with a sigh.

“The painting, Reginold, what do you think of the painting?” she said her hands firmly planted to her hips. Shaking his head the Count turned and walked back down toward the stairs.

“I think you have odd taste in humor, Sarah, There's nothing even there and I told you I'm going to be late for my meeting. Goodnight.”

Sarah stared after him, hurt welling up in her throat. She whirled away and closed the door behind her so he couldn't hear her sobbing. Nothing there? That man, why does he have to be so cruel? It's the drat alcohol, mother always said-

He's a real frigid bastard when he drinks. You should throw that vile poo poo away.


Sarah snapped her eyes open. She suddenly felt very cold. “ What did I just...?”

He doesn't understand. The pull of wonder, the thirst for the unknown. Not like you do. Not like you will.

Looking up toward the mantle she gazed into the eyes of the girl again, and this time knew. It was like it was talking through her, voicing her inner most thoughts. She was about to flee screaming, her shaking hands already grasping the door handle when suddenly she stopped. Her vision exploded in an array of color, like a vortex of paint and glittering jewels, and her fear was replaced with joy and spectacle.

Why Sarah, we have such lovely things to show you, such wondrous, curious things. We only have a few requests...

***

Count Reginald sat with Lord Valium and his officials, midnight and the end of drinking hours looming on the horizon. He felt warm and giddy, but when one of the officials asked after the lady of the manor (Where is that woman? Always an interesting conversation with that one, eh Reggie?), he felt a pang of guilt. She'd been so taken with that empty canvas up there, and he'd gone and made her cross. Perhaps if he took the crowd upstairs that would cheer her up...

Surrounded by the mirthful group he threw open the doors to her curio chamber, only to recoil from the grisly scene inside. Blood had been slung against every wall, and his wife's fingers had scrawled strange crimson runes upon the floor around her pale shredded body. Before he could turn to vomit, his eyes caught upon the painting on the mantle, the surface no longer blank. Sitting there at a cluttered writing desk and clutching a revolver, was the spitting image of the count himself.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

in, flash please. for good measure.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Release

723 Words

Flash Rule: Leaping Bull Fresco

I walked forward, but my footfalls on the straw pathway were lost amid the steady pounding of the drums. The far clans had gathered, and the midnight air vibrated with the chanting of a dozen shamans wailing in prayer and lamentation. Here and there within the clearing, small fires burned different colors as sacrificial offerings of herbs reached the spirits in billows of sweet or acrid clouds. To the side of the open space, however, burned a far greater pyre, one which I refused to look upon as I approached the mewling young bull that stood restrained in the center of the cacophony.

I ached inside, yet I'd always been told no one could ever see the tears of the chief's son. It rent my heart, the injustice of it all. Who were all these people? These outsiders didn't know him, some of them I'd never even heard of before. Why were they allowed to wallow loudly in false and temporary grief while I was told to keep silent? Why was I forced into this mockery of a rite when my father was not yet in ashes? Still, I held to my duties and stood mere feet away from the bound beast.

I breathed deeply, while the pungent smoke and the dense pine of the surrounding sacred forest flooded my lungs. The herbal mists from the flames had begun to twist my senses, and my body began to feel as numb as my soul. I watched as the world around me slowed, the auras of the mourners beginning to glow deeply as they moved through molasses. My confusion lingered as I began the ritual I'd had to practice since childhood, my body going through the macabre motions independent of my detached mind.

I jumped ahead, though my spirit stayed grounded clinging to memories of the past. The air rushing by was like when he'd lift and swing me through the air, my laughter filling our worn hut. The smoke whirling about was like when he taught me to build a fire after my first hunt, his healthy face full of pride and love. Finishing my leap, my hands wrapped around the polished horns of the sacrificial animal. Their texture was the same as his pipe I'd once stolen off the wall, then I cried as he'd yelled at me in disappointment. He was gone, he was gone.

I grasped them, then nearly lost my grip as I met eyes with the chained creature. It's eyes were no longer a bull's eyes. They were his. My father's. They were no longer frightened and twisted by years of pain. They were no longer glossy with disease and confusion. They were calm and clear as they'd once been. The eyes of the man who'd raised me through every facet of my being. I was no longer holding horns, but his calloused and firm hands, lifting me high into the air one last time.

I let go, and the world spun until the heavens spread out below me, swirling like a lake of glittering fish. I was weightless, and in that moment I was wading forward through the sky holding hands with him. The lake became a sea, became an ocean, became a waterfall of light, and I was very scared. I gripped him hard, refusing to leave without him. But as the current shifted me back toward the edge of the lake, I realized what this funeral was truly for. Who this journey was for. I loosened his hands. He took me into a great hug and softly kissed my head before gently pushing away. Then he turned toward the waterfall and swam toward it, his body changing into a glinting salmon before plunging over the bright falls into the the dark water, joining the myriad stars within its depths.

I landed quietly, despite the height of the vault. I was suddenly more calm, more at peace. My face shone with tears, flowing freely despite the spectacle and the attention. No one admonished me. I stayed there, crying for hours in that clearing full of memories and people, until I waited alone. Then with a deep breath I turned to look upon the funeral pyre. In the early light I could see that the smoke was drifting out toward the river, starting on it's journey toward the ocean and the edge of my world.

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

This is a cool one to come back to, In, hit me with science

sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Bites Back

1396

“Bad dog, I told you to heel.”

Even before he heard the trigger cock behind him, Frank knew he’d messed up. Whatever bravado and bravery had brought him to disobey the major on the flightline that night suddenly left him along with his final breath. When the bullet tore through the marine’s neck, all he could feel was his body falling forward. As the darkness closed in, the logical part of him expected to slam into the wet tarmac below. But he didn’t. He kept falling weightlessly. His strength nearly gone, his body ruined, Frank began to scream into the void.

The void vanished and Frank was surrounded with noise. The world was a jagged menagerie of light and sound without border, every sense was blazing with intensity. He tried to shut his eyes against the garish hellscape that surrounded him, but he had no eyes to shut. There was no filter, no screen to block out the rush of matter around him, and he instinctively pushed himself down, away from the cacophony and into the dark corner of what was once a quiet rainy airstrip. Finally he reached a blurry cave in the noise, a small space of silence, and everything stopped.

This new void was cold, empty, and silent. From a short ways away Frank could hear something. Words perhaps, but not in a language he could understand. Or rather, he couldn’t tell if he could understand them. He’d lost the sense of the ability to register sounds. But as he concentrated, and focused deeper into the void, the abyss began to change shape, to tighten around him. After a moment’s trepidation he allowed himself to give into to his impulse and merged with the darkness.

Slowly the world pieced itself back together, a mosaic shifting by sections into recognizable form. But instead of light, Frank could see heat. Pools of violet fell from above, plastering the dark ground and dripping green drops onto the blazing reds and golds of the passenger jet engines idling outside the hangar. Three red and yellow men swaddled in green were dragging away a yellow mass, it’s temperature dropping at a slow rate. Frank couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, but he felt no urge to do so. He could however, rotate his arms. His shoulders heaved as they separated from his new body, cold and stiff. Turning his head also proved to be a challenge, but if he concentrated he could slide his eyes anywhere he wanted from his stiff neck downward, giving him a full view of the tragic kaleidoscope before him.

His body. They were dragging away his body. Frank began to panic, and felt a shiver run up where his legs once had been. Suddenly he lurched forward, his feet rotating strangely beneath him. Two of the men looked up suddenly and stared at him, their bodies frozen for a moment. The larger figure behind them turned, then shook its head and slapped the smaller one, before turning back toward the jet.

Frank felt fear well up in him once more, as he recognized the shape of the box the two men were carrying now that the greenish body had been pulled off into the dark. And in a stunning moment of clarity, he finally realized what he needed to do.

*** *** ***

Stupid Mutt, I told him to keep his nose clean, Dominic thought bitterly as he put away his Baretta. He sighed as he eyed Frank’s body lying face first on the grimy cement floor. He’d sunk a lot of time and money into that one, only to have him piss it all away on his first real op. The boy wasn’t even supposed to know the true nature of the deal til afterward. A little insurance before he’d fully graduated in his new job. There’d be hell to pay when he got back from Novorossiysk, but a nobility complex was too much of a risk with cargo like this. He knew a few cleaners who could fix it all up while they were in the air, and by this time tomorrow someone would find the kid’s carcass next to a dead hooker or a needle in his arm in Southtown. But hey, Dominic could spin that. Just another young man caught with his pants down or sleeves up. Even with a bullet wound no one would blink twice, hadn’t yet anyway.

As he snapped his fingers for the two of his other men to drag the guy off he looked longingly at the pelican case that sat next to the spreading blood pool and took a deep breath. Those little canisters were gonna make him a tidy fortune. Hell Dominic couldn’t even really blame the newbie, this was some dangerous poo poo. But money’s money. If everything with the Yak-s goes well in the arctic maybe he’ll even be able to flick a couple coins the new widow’s way, grease the skids a bit and tie up loose ends. If he was lucky maybe even a nice rebound gently caress.

He looked up suddenly as Pablo and Norman dropped the body with a thud. They were staring at the line of drones and fighter jets that lined the base’s airstrip.

“What the hell? I told you to hide him, what are you two staring at?” he barked.

“There’s something moving over by the aircraft, I swear I saw it light up,” Norman said, scanning the area.

Dominic waited a second before smacking Pablo on the back of the head and ordering him to forget it, just shove the body out of the way and grab the goods, they were go in ten.

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

Frank’s thoughts raced as the jet engines began to rev up again. His wife, his daughter, his promises to them unfulfilled and broken. The devastation smoldered into hatred, a new darkening need for vengeance that usurped all else. His burning desire to stop Major Callister was all that mattered. He could feel new heat spread within his chest, like a heartbeat but much more intense, coursing like a fire within him.

He watched his feet spin beneath him, his ankles no longer binding them in place. He began rolling forward his eyes shifting rapidly as he gazed across the red and blue impressionist painting that was his new world. Frank’s arms were locked outward but he knew deep down that in his hands he held the key to avenging his own death.

*** *** ***

“Watashi-tachi wa ̄ba ko o motte imasu. Hai.” Dominic clicked the phone shut before crunching the burner beneath his boot. They were due to land in eight hours, plenty of time to sleep and figure out how to deal with the evening’s fallout. He was still pissed he had to put down the new dog before it was fully trained, but then again when you bite the hand that feeds, well then. There has to be consequences. Still, that’s what a trainer gets for going soft, he supposed. He stretched a bit in his seat and turned toward the window to nap but as he was about to close his eyes, he snapped awake. There, beside the plane in the dawn sky, was a Lockheed SR-72.

Holy gently caress,” Dominic shouted, sprinting toward the cockpit. “Get the comms open, find out who the hell is flying that drone. Use our cover, now, drat it!”

“Viper 23 to bogey Dog,” Norman said, his voice curt and professional, “identify yourself. This is a clandestine flight operation, stand down.”

The radio remained silent. Dominic started sweating, and after two minutes of continued calls, the gruff major grabbed the headset and shouted “ Who the gently caress is messing with my operation? I’ll have you caged in Leavenworth you yellow puss-”

Suddenly the radio began crackling, and as if from far away, Dominic heard a broken, almost robotic voice reply:

“Devil Dog to Viper 23. I never did learn to heel.”


*** *** ***

FOUR MILITARY CONTRACTORS STILL MISSING FOLLOWING CARGO PLANE EXPLOSION: DRONE FOUND

Four military and government officials remain missing after a routine training flight went awry over Northern Atlantic Coast. An official investigation is ongoing, but a missing drone from the same facility washed up on Tuesday and has shown signs of severe degradation. No flight telemetry has been recovered, but we still maintain hope that answers will be found soon. A Midnight Vigil will be held - CONT ON PG 8.

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sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Thanks for the crits chili and sebmojo!

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