What is this poo poo.
All hail the new flesh. Uh, on second thought, don't, since no erotica is allowed, and I'm sure your dick is as helpless before Cronenberg as mine.
I'm in like Flynn. I double checked the rules, and I don't think there's one against multiple people requesting from the same judge (if there is, feel free to flay me for my foolishness) but I'd like to request a flash from SittingHere, you seem pretty interesting and helpful.
Good luck, everyone.
|# ¿ Jul 20, 2018 11:52|
|# ¿ Jan 19, 2022 23:21|
Live and Let Dye
First of the month.
Time to pay the Snakeheads.
Linh was still getting her papers piecemeal.
A birth certificate here. SSN there. She had them sent to different Amazon lockers in case anyone was following her. Hadn’t had any trouble yet, but that was because she was careful.
She was the first one in the salon on Tuesday mornings to unlock the place.
Plug in the foot baths. Top up the jars of Barbicide if they ran low. Dust off the globe at the reception desk.
Pick out a new target.
Linh had rules. It was the same as anything: follow the rules, keep your head down, and you wouldn’t get caught.
Never the same woman twice. Never less than a month since her last appointment. Never someone who had crossed her.
Linh sprayed ant killer at the remnants of a sticky puddle by one of the salon chairs. A customer had threw frappuccino dregs at one of the girls for pinching her cuticles.
The chemicals set and Linh knelt to scrub the remnants from the floor, so the smell wouldn’t linger, a paper mask around her face.
Amanda Stone. In at 8:30 for a cut and dyejob. Should be enough to work with, even if she wasn’t assigned to Linh’s station.
Morning was the same as usual. Boss passed out name tags with gweilo names on them. Linh’d been Florence yesterday. Today she was Judy. Customers didn’t seem to notice.
Stone came in and didn’t make much of a fuss. Linh’s job was sweeping up today while one of the other girls did the deed. Tawny 2A going from pageboy to pixie with auburn lowlights. Linh swept up after the cut was done and dumped the hair in the trash, aside from a pinch she secreted in a dime bag hidden in her shoe.
She took her lunch in the breakroom and crunched the numbers on her debt. This should be the last payment, if everything went according to plan. No bank account of her own, not yet, not without papers.
Some of the others gave her poo poo for Westernizing too much or too quickly. Denigrated her Lean Cuisines from behind steaming bowls of congee. Linh took it in good humor. It was part of her camouflage. No one would expect a banana like her to cling to certain old ways.
Once she was home, she could feed that part of herself. She locked the door to her apartment and pulled all the shades. A rolled oilcloth on the table held the instruments of Amanda Stone’s destruction.
Linh set herbs and roots and flowers and poisons and juices into a mortar and pestle and ground them beneath the light of a candle she’d dipped herself, a strand of her hair interwoven with the wick.
She began the words her grandmother had taught her, one bleeding into another until they became a low hum. Linh spoke without needing to stop for breath, the air moving in through her nose and out through her mouth, her circular breathing contained within her paper mask, ritual decorations painted on its surface in blonde whorls, red stripes, and black tangles.
While she couldn’t argue with the results, Linh didn’t want to breathe in any more of this chemical poo poo than she had to. The old ways could mingle with the new, same as anything.
She’d stapled a photo of Amanda Stone’s face to the doll on the table before her, already cut and stuffed, just waiting for the needle to be threaded.
Linh snapped on nitrile gloves and took a strand of hair from the dime bag in her pocket, wound and woven tightly. She threaded the needle and tied it in a knot, the rest lying pooled before her.
Her fingers slick with water, product, and dye, the needle got away from her and she jabbed herself. Blood ran down her hand and pooled in the strands before her.
Linh cut them apart from the rest with scissors and separated the piles immediately.
She looked at the needle to see if it was bent and chided herself. It was a poor craftsman who blamed the tools, her grandmother had always said as she showed Linh her family’s magic.
There was nothing else to be done with the spoiled sample. This was power, and she couldn’t let it go to waste. Linh raised her mask, pinched her nose and swallowed it with a grunt. She could leave nothing behind after this.
The doll was done soon after. She sent her templated blackmail email, having gotten the contact info from the salon’s appointment book. Send money to the Snakeheads’ account, or things would get worse before they got better.
Linh unwrapped a fresh hypodermic needle tip and drove it into the doll. The email would be specific about the phantom pain. Either she would play along or she wouldn’t. There was always more out there.
The next morning was uneventful. They seldom paid right away, and Linh, or Gertrude as she was called today, had learned by now to avoid checking her cell too eagerly for notifications. Her first payment could be no different from her last. This was what separated her from the kinds of people who got caught.
Two men came in, their off-the rack Brooks Brothers suits outside the salon’s normal clientele. Linh was at reception Wednesdays and smiled.
“Xin chào, how may I help you today?” she said.
“We’re with Seattle PD. We’d like to ask you a few questions about a customer who was in here yesterday morning. Amanda Stone,” one of them said.
Linh opened the salon’s appointment book like nothing was wrong. She’d protected herself. They couldn’t have found her IP. If they had, they’d have been arresting her by now.
“Yes, 8:30. Did we overcharge her by mistake or something?” Lin said with a polite laugh. Pretend to already be at fault, and people would apologize and leave you alone.
“I’m afraid it’s more serious than that,” said the other. He tossed a manilla envelope on the counter and flipped it open with his thumb. Nailbiter. But she had no desire to suggest a manicure.
The folder contained photos Amanda Stone’s corpse. It was badly burned by acid, its face a skull with a few scraps of flesh clinging to it, but Linh recognized it. It had the same pixie.
After all, you can’t digest hair.
Linh could feel it, knotted and vengeful in the pit of her stomach.
“Would you excuse me please? I have to go to the bathroom.” She fled from the counter, in her haste knocking over the globe from the desk. It rolled off its edge, but one of the cops caught it.
“Take your time, miss. We aren’t going anywhere.”
|# ¿ Jul 23, 2018 06:58|
Thank you for your kind words, Staggy. I appreciate it.
I’ll get down to doing my duty straight away with a minimum of loving around, as outlined in the directions. I’ll edit in my prompt shortly. Since as you say this was my first time in the dome, I want to make sure the prompt I have in mind isn’t too similar to one you guys have already done so I'll doublecheck the archive first. I'll focus my attention here, then crit the rest of the people in CCCXI after.
I've read all the archives and am satisfied that I'm not retreading old ground. For my first round in the throne, I'd like to get personal with you, so we can get to know each other better.
Week CCCXII: Family Motto
When I was younger, my dad would occasionally ask me "Son, what's our family motto?" and I would dutifully reply "Family, work, and duty and always in that order."
That's your prompt this time around. You don't need to include the quote in the text. All genres are welcome, I'd like to see what I'm dealing with here.
I will keep the no erotica and fanfic rules on the table, but I'll also ban incest and rape. Feel free to get sexy if you feel it serves your story, but if I wanted hardcore pornography, I could switch to any of the other 11 tabs I have open right now.
Flash Rules available upon request. If you would like one, I'll edit them into this post for your ease of reference.
Staggy Your story must incorporate the word "ramshackle."
Word Limit 1,500 words
Signup Deadline Friday July 27 11:59 PM Central Time (US)
Submission Deadline Sunday July 29 11:59 PM Central Time (US)
Open to cojudges. Two, if you please, and I’ll edit in your names accordingly.
Invisible Clergy fucked around with this message at 13:17 on Jul 30, 2018
|# ¿ Jul 24, 2018 13:24|
The prompt is no longer a mystery, writers. I updated that post with the information.
Since I'm loving retarded, I misread the directions and wrote critiques for the other guys in this round. Should I post them now while we wait on the actual judges this round, wait until the people who judged are finished and then voice my stupid opinions, or keep them to myself entirely? I've got about 2500 words here, and thought it might be helpful for the other writers.
Thanks for the crit, Sitting Here, very helpful. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Never heard the term "fantastical realism" before, but I'll take it.
I loved "Beyond Belief" when I was a kid. That was a fun show.
Invisible Clergy fucked around with this message at 18:05 on Jul 24, 2018
|# ¿ Jul 24, 2018 17:55|
The judges handed down their ruling already so
I’m going to level with you and start off with the first thing I noticed as my first comment, even though it breaks the compliment sandwich model favored in most critiques:
That is a bad name.
I want you to take that name and write it on a post-it and give it to your wife or your mom or your friend and ask them to read it out loud without any prompting.
What you hear is what I experienced in vaporlock while I was trying to sound this out.
The individual phonemes are simple enough, but the word has a horrible mouthfeel. Ur(beat)ad(beat)ree(beat)end(beat)rah.
That just can’t be the effect you wanted.
I’m all for making up fantasy names, but try to give some consideration to how they function as names.
On to content:
Your description of Uradriendra is just terrible. I read the first paragraph assuming your piece was going to be a piece of “My Immortal” style parody because you take every bad writing cliche and play it completely straight.
Telling me how boner-inducent Uradriendra is? Check.
Listing her height in feet and inches? Check.
Name-dropping some fancy clothes thing without telling me what the gently caress it looks like? Check.
Listing the color of her hair without describing it? Check.
I’m sure you know what Uradriendra looks like from drawing her on the inside of your trig notebook or what have you, so certain details seem unnecessary to you, but the reader does not have this information. Writing is not like tv. If I’m watching tv, I can spot some piece of art on the wall the director may not have had at the forefront of his mind while he’s shooting the main character. The same is not true in writing. I can’t notice anything if you don’t talk to me about it.
For the next piece you write, if you must describe your character’s physical appearance (and ask yourself, must you?) I recommend you banish height, weight, hair and eye color, and description of the brand names of his/her clothing from your repetoire.
Imagine you were giving the cops a description of Uradriendra. Would you say “she was 6 feet and had platinum hair and wore a Versace dress?” Of course you wouldn’t, because that’s not useful information. I won’t tell you what you should focus on, since that will be up to style, but I will say specific details are always better than broad strokes with this kind of thing, and in flash fiction (or even in longer works) you may not need to describe your character’s appearance at all. Look at some of the other entries, they by and large did not choose to burn their first paragraph on this, and I am not left wanting because of that.
Another thing about description:
Don’t just dump it all over me at once, especially not in the beginning of the story. I don’t know who Uradriendra is yet. I don’t care about her, so I’m not interested in this interminable statblock of what she looks like.
Put description in if and when it is relevant to what’s happening. For example, Uradriendra picks up a glass of wine, hey, you can describe her fingernails (What style are they in? Does she have french tips? Gloss? Coat? Color is always the weakest form of characterization because it doesn’t tell us anything useful or interesting) or her lips (She’s a succubus, I’m sure you have all kinds of words about her lips. Let me see them!)
I assume you know about show don’t tell, so I won’t beat you to death with a description, but “she was the best lawyer money can buy” is textbook tell. If she’s hot poo poo, let me see her doing that and come to that conclusion on my own.
I never have a sense of space or groundedness for the first half of this thing. Some unseen, omniscient narrator is dumping all this boring information I don’t care about (Don’t spend half your prompt in a contest this short on generic fantasy worldbuilding, it is not helping you.)
The Faustian pact thing is a popular trope, but you don’t do anything interesting with it. How is it different from any other time I’ve seen it?
Don’t capitalize “The” in “the Strangler.”
Then suddenly we’re in the courtroom, and you actually set the scene? This is more like what you should’ve been doing the whole time, but I’m badly jarred from this transition. In a piece this short, it’s not necessary to name all the incidental characters. I don’t know who’s important or who I should pay attention to.
“No matter, she thought, I can better prove myself if I have to win fairly.”
What is this?
You’re in omniscient third for the whole thing, and now you’re in close third with untagged first person interior monologue.
That’s a mess. You can see that, right?
Setting aside the fact that this line is completely unnecessary, you could’ve said. “No matter. She could better prove herself if she had to win fairly.”
I would know that was a thought coming from her head because that’s where we are now. It’s called “free indirect technique” and it’s useful for when characters are thinking, so you can avoid this.
Terrible. Don’t do poo poo like this. You know why. If you don’t, then generally speaking, dread -ly adverbs are best avoided. If they are germane to the situation, they are unnecessary, since we can already tell the character is doing the thing that way. If they aren’t (How do you “haughtily” pull out a credit card?) then they’re just confusing.
Why does this hot poo poo, “genius” by informed ability succubus lawyer just stupidly sign poo poo on her last day working at the hell store when she knows Satan is presiding over her trial and is somehow not helping her win the case? This behavior is at odds with your prior characterization of her and it doesn’t seem intentional, more like you ran out of room and didn’t realize you didn’t have an ending yet so shoehorned one in.
Also, the ultimate failing here is that I just don’t care. A succubus works damning the souls of bad guys, but gets fired. Okay, so what? Why do I not want that to happen? If you have answers to these questions next time, your story will be more successful.
Regular cleanings are essential to good oral health
I really enjoyed your story.
The first read through, I felt like the present and flashback scenes were too divorced from one another. On the second, once I had a good feeling for the rhythm you’d struck, it felt far less pitchy. Good pacing all around.
This prompt gave us the opportunity to do writers’ favorite thing: list a bunch of small, specialized objects, and you took advantage of that. You set the scene clearly and immediately and without infodumping, you weave it in to the character’s thoughts and the dialogue very quickly. I know I’m in a dentist’s office.
I have mixed feelings about “marveling at how much nasty stuff was jammed in such a little place.” In a vacuum, it’s a serviceable line objectively describing what’s going on, but I it’s not something a dental hygienist would think to themselves. They see some pretty awful poo poo cleaning calculus off people’s teeth, especially if Nick is a meth addict, who probably has a horrific mouth, this patient wouldn’t be that bad in comparison.
I know metatextually the line is just there to foreshadow for Eric finding the drugs later, but when you use foreshadowing, the line should also function as what it is in addition to setting up what comes later. I don’t think this line does that, even if the foreshadowing is clear and I’m set up for what’s coming next.
You seem a little afraid of using “said.” I promise it wouldn’t harm your story in the least to get rid of a few “warneds” and “answereds,” but it’s not a big deal.
Overall, I like it a lot. The anticlimax is very fitting for this kind of story, because there isn’t necessarily a sense of finality here, maybe just getting Nick out of his teeth for a few more years. Well done.
Respect for the Dead
I really enjoy the concept of this story. This ought to be the example for goons who want to do sf/f and are wondering how not to get tripped up and waste half their wordcount on prologue/worldbuilding. I know the important details of your setting, that there are zombies, that it’s an accepted part of life, and that they’re regarded in a mundane, utilitarian fashion with special tools to deal with them.
The dynamic between Mike and the people he’s lecturing is well-rendered. If you’ve ever been through like an active shooter certification or a workplace sexual harassment training or anything like that, this definitely evokes the same feeling of awkwardness and uneasy silence while the speaker talks.
Your story begins, progresses, and ends on quiet downbeats, but I don’t feel like there’s anything serious missing. You’ve definitely got a clear arc here. Solid story.
Why did you choose to write your piece in the present tense?
I’m aware litfic people like Don Delillo, who I assume you’re imitating here, do it for some arbitrary reason, but they have the advantage of having a whole book for you to get used to it and ignore it. You’re writing 1200 words here, you don’t want me to spend half of it finding my sea legs. There isn’t any action in your story, so a sense of immediacy with a non-literary work such as “Hunger Games” isn’t it either.
When you make a choice this distracting, there ought to be a reason.
I know you’re writing a hateful caricature of dumb, awful Midwestern people from flyoverland that could be extras in a Chuck Palahniuk novel, but my lip shouldn’t be curling with hatred before I have a chance to know anything about them. Giving characters names like “Chad” and “Leesa” is lazy the same way using stereotypical characters in the first place is. You’re admitting you aren’t confident that you’ll get me to hate your character, so you’ll give him the name of every gay-bashing date rapist popcollar fuckstick and hope that my extant hatred will transfer. Don't do this.
I don’t care how old these lovely loving kids are. Same as I told Erainor when he listed his character's height in feet and inches, don’t include boring information like this unless it’s important.
Oh boy, cancer! Now I’m guarunteed to have to feel bad for your cardboard character’s cardboard dad!
I don’t know Karen’s dad. Why should I care if he has cancer? Just like you can’t take on a lion’s strength by wearing his pelt, you can’t just have your story be sad because you cried during “A Fault in Our Stars” or whatever exploitative sicklit trash. 13 year old girls didn’t cry in that movie because someone died, they did it because they liked and cared about the character prior to that. You’re skipping the work and just getting to the reward. It doesn’t work like that.
You shoot yourself in the rear end here with the choice of tense when you try to do flashback because you’ve got to tie yourself all in knots using past perfect, which sticks out from the rest even more.
You should talk to some kids, too, or at least read some books about developmental milestones. Unless Chad is literally mentally handicapped instead of being merely retarded in the colloquial sense, he shouldn’t be talking like the Incredible Hulk at 4.
Speaking of diction, why is Karen saying poo poo like “I thought we established” to a 4 year old? She’s the sitcom wife in this Febreeze commercial, so she’s supposed to be canny and practical. She’d talk to him using language he could understand.
Your tense is rearing up on you again. To shift focus to the other lovely, ill-behaved kid, you have to bend and prune yourself into present participle. That’s awkward.
It’s here it becomes evident that you don’t know what pov you’re doing. Where is our focus? Is it on Jeff? Is it on Karen?
Oh, your story stopped? Great. Note I don’t say “ended” because in order for it to end, it would’ve had to start. Nothing happens in this story. A bunch of jackoffs drive in a car. The end. I hate these loving awful people when they don’t control their spawn during a movie, on an airplane, or in a sit-down restaurant. I don’t want to read about their loving banal pointless existence unless they get obliterated by an 18-wheeler. Main characters can be evil or unlikable, but I still have to have some reason to care about them. There just isn’t a story here, but there’s also no character or setting. Shelve your copy of “White Noise” and turn over your photo of that barn, they are hurting you.
Minor thing, but I clung to “Shirts and Skins” as a motif in your story. I think it would’ve made a more interesting title.
Your story was very cool. I immediately understand that you picked present tense because your main is in immediate danger, and I can’t just smugly say “duhhh I know he gets out alive at the end if it’s in past tense, because he’s telling it to me now” this way. It is unobtrusive and adds a measurable urgency to your story.
I love “various sorts of no good.” It’s got a great lilt to it. The bit about the paperclip is a lot of fun. It reads like one of those explanation scenes from “Burn Notice.” It’s peppy and interesting and you don’t leave your guy’s voice to deliver it.
Normally I dislike flash fiction stories that end with the main character dying, but yours really works. Because it’s not treated as a twist or tragedy or punishment or release, it’s just kind of a thing that happens. He knew it from the beginning. I didn’t notice til the end you didn’t name your guy. I like that since he’s a spy. It wouldn’t be important to him. I love the style of this story.
Gift of the Gods
I’m somewhat at a loss for how to crit this story, beyond saying I didn’t really understand it. I’m not saying that out of some snobbery toward high fantasy, it’s a genre I’m perfectly comfortable with. I just don’t think I fully grasp what happened in your story:
The two grooms candle eggs, crack the ones with jewels, and give them to their lady, the grooms see a good jewel, or don’t want to kill a bird or something, smuggle a jewel into the loft, city guard find them, beat one of them, and then birds fly, the end? Why did the guard let them go?
I don’t have a clear sense of beginning, middle, or end here. I reread your story 3 times, and I’m fairly certain that’s not my fault. I have nothing cutting or scornful to say about your writing itself. I personally don’t like a bunch of flowery descriptions of the colors of jewels, but I know well enough that it’s endemic to this style of fantasy and you do it very well. I can easily envision the various chickens and their cool tattoos, but I have more trouble visualizing what is happening in the story on a more general level.
I will keep an eye on what the judge(s) have to say about your story in case that sheds any light on the situation, because I do want to give you useful constructive criticism on how to improve, but it’s hard for me to do that as it stands now.
|# ¿ Jul 24, 2018 18:16|
Five victims so far. Not too bad for just a few hours.
I thought Antivehicular had judged a bunch of times? Maybe I read the archive wrong. Either way, he's been nice enough to step up.
|# ¿ Jul 24, 2018 18:38|
Cool, I appreciate your help. I edited you into the post at the top of the page. That's three of us.
|# ¿ Jul 24, 2018 18:41|
What? It's hard to hear you from way up on this throne. I think you said something about me lapping at my own rear end in a top hat? That can't have been right though, since it's common knowledge that's your mother's job.
There is no room for dissent on poo poo mountain. There is no god here. There is only this week's lead judge. Me. I will come down upon you like a bulimic at a Vegas buffet. Tales will be told of your total and abject humiliation at my hand. And they'll be a lot better than whatever lovely story you write.
|# ¿ Jul 24, 2018 22:28|
Jesus christ, this'll be easier than I thought.
|# ¿ Jul 24, 2018 22:37|
Very cool, Jay W. Friks.
|# ¿ Jul 25, 2018 09:42|
I'll give my blood. In.
You're late, but I don't give a gently caress. The more the merrier. Added you to the list.
|# ¿ Jul 29, 2018 00:31|
little over 10 hours left, everyone. If I'm waiting on stragglers, I might leave submissions open a little while longer since I'll probably be up late tonight anyway because of reasons.
|# ¿ Jul 29, 2018 18:44|
Head judge don’t wimble wamble what is the deadline? (Another couple of hours would be great...)
Don't tell me what to do, worm.
But since we've only got 7 and a half hours til the deadline and no submissions, I'll move the deadline to 8am central time tomorrow morning
Please submit. I'd like to read your stories.
|# ¿ Jul 29, 2018 21:31|
So it was written, so shall it be done. Submissions are CLOSED
cascadebeta, you were the only one who didn’t turn in a story. For shame. Please try again next time, I’d like to read your writing. Everyone else, thanks for turning something in. Overall, this round was pretty good.
Invisible Clergy fucked around with this message at 14:20 on Jul 30, 2018
|# ¿ Jul 30, 2018 13:10|
It would be helpful in the future if I weren't an illiterate piece of poo poo. Added you to list.
EDIT: it's been explained to me how judging actually works. sorry for the false alarm
Invisible Clergy fucked around with this message at 14:50 on Jul 30, 2018
|# ¿ Jul 30, 2018 13:16|
Sign me up as a vampire.
|# ¿ Jul 31, 2018 00:23|
Lucky Break 489 words
“Ocean Prime. Noon.”
That’s all Will’s text said. The cab ride gave Porter more than enough time to worry over what was implied between those words.
“One?” the host asked once he was inside.
“I’m meeting someone.” Porter pulled up a photo of Will with him on the plane. Just before the jump.
“Oh, I know him! He’s that MMA guy! Well, he was, I guess. Right this way.”
Porter felt underdressed, his forehead damp despite the blaring AC.
“What’s up?” Will smiled through a mouthful of crab. The host fled before he could be sprayed with shell.
“Not, uh, not too much.” Porter swallowed and tried not to stare at Will’s cast as it rested on the chair to his side. Porter winced as Will smashed open more crab legs, the noise all too familiar.
“Siddown,” Will gestured with a lobster pick.
Not seeing he had any choice, Porter complied. If Will was going to sue, he would’ve sent a letter, right? Maybe it was a social call.
“We gotta talk about the jump.” Will poured champagne and nudged the glass toward him, leaving a fishy thumbprint.
“Listen, I couldn’t—“ Porter started.
“You could. You owe me that much, at least. Missed you inna hospital,” Will said. The signatures of the other students decorated Will’s cast in various colors.
Porter drank. “I suppose that’s true.”
“If you hadn’t grabbed onto me when my chute didn’t open, I’d probably be dead.” Will slurped an oyster, somberness notably absent.
“You could say that,” Porter said. Wasn’t that supposed to be his argument? It was so hot. He saw his reflection in the silver holder on the Fiji bottle. Nervous. Nervous meant guilty. He surreptitiously wiped his forehead.
“While I was at the hospital, my mom brought a mega millions scratcher with my numbers, like I always do on Fridays, but I couldn’t, y’see.” Will was sweating too, and he was getting redder as he spoke, though he didn’t seem angry.
“Right.” Porter said.
Will reached into a leather bag on his lap. Porter tensed. He relaxed when Will pulled out a brick of cash.
“If she hadn’t bought the ticket from the bodega by the hospital insteada the one by our building, I wouldn’t've won. I know you hadda refund the people who didn’t get to jump and all. Thanks.”
Porter covered the brick with his napkin and pulled it into his lap.
“That’s--” he stopped himself before he could screw himself and say it wasn’t necessary. “Thanks. Guess you’ll have to find a new way to get your adrenaline kick, huh?”
The waiter came to survey the carnage. “Sir, are you all right?” he asked Will, who was nearly as red as the lobster by now.
Will waved him away and pulled an EpiPen from his bag. He jabbed it into his thigh and took a deep breath. “I’ll figure something out. Lemme see the dessert menu.”
|# ¿ Aug 1, 2018 00:15|
quantum of solitair brawl results
It's because of madoka magica
|# ¿ Aug 1, 2018 01:30|
Congratulations on the win, curlingiron.
|# ¿ Aug 1, 2018 12:04|
I've got some time to kill while I confer with my co-judges. I'd be happy to crit another story (aside from this week's, which I've already done. I feel it would be disingenuous to claim credit for those) for whoever wants it.
|# ¿ Aug 1, 2018 18:47|
RESULTS: WEEK CCCXII: FAMILY MOTTO
This was overall a pretty good round. Thanks for sharing your stories, everyone.
Only the Coward Runs
Dishonorable mention: Please make your next piece less like the film "Doom."
Family comes first
Honorable mention: Great twist, very careful attention to detail, clean and evocative writing.
it’s not cool to be scared
WINNER Strong voice, exciting, emotional story, clear stakes. Nothing to improve, so you win. Good job.
I was Born with Water in my Veins
LOSER It hurts to do this to you when you are in a round with a story that's primarily about how a space marine kills demons with swords, and until I read your story, he was the clear loser in my mind. When I read yours, I had to reevaluate and determine what was more important. What is more of a failure, telling some kind of story where something happens, even if the writing is technically poor or telling a bunch of words with very beautiful flowery writing where there is no story? I guess you know the answer.
Paper and Ink
Honorable mention: Great figurative language, very well-sketched interpersonal dynamics, fantastic imagery. The bookends were a good touch.
Will post crits shortly.
|# ¿ Aug 2, 2018 22:10|
Only the Coward runs
You have a problem with dialogue tags.
It’s okay to use “said.” For god’s sake, just use “said.” I like an action tag as much as the next guy, but when you’re contorting yourself into knots like “Her neck twitched in a nod” you need to take a step back. What does that look like? Is that what you’re actually trying to describe? Of course it’s not. “She nodded” is just fine. I’m not going to criticize you for having someone nod or say “yes”
Your action scene is not interesting because it doesn’t have any stakes. Reading through a novelization of a “Doom” level is not interesting, because what happens if the demons kill her? Why should I care?
I do not know where everyone is standing, so the actions in this scene seem largely arbitrary. “Two more blades lashed out.” Okay, from loving where?
If visualizing is hard for you, sketch out the scene on paper (stick figures are fine), or stage it with some of your action figures. This will make it clearer how many people there are in the scene and where they are standing. It’s harder to gently caress up and have people teleport around this way.
It’s also a good way to help solidify things about the environment the scene is taking place in. Think of a fight scene you enjoy. Even if the character isn’t Jackie Chan, hitting people with ladders and ropes and poo poo, the location it takes place in probably has some impact on what happens in it, right? When you’re sketching things out and thinking of where people stand, it might also help you know where it’s taking place, so you can convey that information to the reader to make the scene more interesting.
Here, They’re fighting in a featureless plane devoid of any particular detail. It could take place anywhere, really.
“Tears streamed down Yejide’s face. She remembered Yejide teaching her” I think this is a mistake. She remembered Waseme teaching her, right?
“ She gestured, gnarled fingers, for the broken blade.”
I don’t know what you’re doing with the punctuation here, but it’s wrong. If your aim is to use an appositive, you could say something like “She gestured, her fingers gnarled, for the broken blade.” That way the middle phrase, sandwiched by commas, is describing what came before it, in this case, how she’s gesturing.
“There was no time to think of tactics, only raw instinct and rage. Her tears flew as she fought, feet dancing like the mongoose among vipers, blade like the claws of the lion. There was nothing but the moment. Nothing but the wrath that blossomed from her sorrow. The demons fell back, and she ran.”
This section exists in sharp contrast to the fight scene I bitched about earlier. Do you see how much better it is when you describe what the things that are happening are like, and use language to suggest motion and mood and tone versus giving me an “and then and then and then” list of how she hits demon a with the sword, then hits demon b with the sword? This is a lot better. Do this, not that. I don’t know what specific moves she is doing here, but I don’t care, because I know how I’m supposed to feel.
“ holding the hoard “
Hoard is a pile of coins. Horde is a group of bad guys. When you’re not sure, please look it up.
“They found Grandma Waseme’s body still lying in her bed, mostly picked apart by scavengers. But her gnarled hands still clutched the broken blade, the edge stuck in one of the two demon corpses by her bed.”
“but” is a conjunction. There are only 7 conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. You use them to link a dependent clause onto an independent clause. If you want to join these sentences, then the period after “scavengers” ought to be a comma, and “but” shouldn’t be capitalized.
Before you dismiss this as pointless grammar nazi pedantry, ask yourself how you want these two sentences (or one sentence, whatever) to be read. If you chain it into one with a but, then there’s a long flow, like narration in an epilogue, which this is. If you excise the but entirely and make it a full sentence on its own, (Her gnarled hands…) then it comes off more staccato and matter-of-fact.
Do you want to say that her clutching the sword is at odds with her body being picked apart by scavengers? One long sentence with a but. Does the story not see a contradiction in those things? Two short sentences, no but.
Choices about things like this affect your story, so when you make them, it should be on purpose.
I like the internal journey Yejide is taken on in this story. There’s a clear arc where she learns how retreat isn’t always bad, and it’s clear that goes against her barbarian upbringing
Family comes first
You overuse the word “seem” and its variations. This weakens your writing. Did the screams come from behind the trees and snow or not? Did Father leap or not? It sacrifices clarity and is repetitive. Be more selective with it.
“wrenched it free (comma) Father “
Your ending is fantastic. I really enjoy stories that make me go back and reread, viewing things through a new lens. Everything checks out. Great attention to detail.
“Bourbon” isn’t capitalized.
This story is great. Clear stakes, I can understand the dynamic between the mains without exposition.
I think you should rethink the detail you go into in the flashback where Cal kills Stacy. At this point, the reader already knows he buried her corpse in the foundation, so repeating that information just slows us down. Reread this section and see how it comes off if you stop immediately after “shot her.” That’s a much more exciting note to end the scene on. The rest of this information is already understood.
I have mixed feelings about the ending. As far as the outcome, I’m totally cool with Cal not killing himself. I really hate short stories where the pov dies at the end because the author couldn’t think of an actual ending. It’s more the execution.
You do a really good job of grounding and setting the scene in the other sections. Here, I’m a little unmoored until the last paragraph. Just a quick line at the beginning to tell me Cal’s not still at home, but is now at his office.
Same as earlier with not repeating what we already know, cut “not the gun.” If he’s reaching for the phone and said “not for long,” we know he isn’t killing himself, as we do from him calling the lawyer. I like the detail that he calls the cops too, which lets us know that he doesn’t think Ev turned him in after everything. That tells us a lot about their relationship.
Filicide is killing your brother. Infanticide is killing your babby who cannot fricht back?
“hung to” is not right. Go with either “clung to” or “hung on.” Mixing idioms is confusing, and takes me out of the story. I was already comfortably in, because you have a strong opening.
The past perfect progressive you’re using is very cumbersome. Most of the time, this is not necessary. If you just set the flashback apart from the present timeline with some asterisks or something, if your writing is clear (which it is) then I’ll know there’s been a time jump. You don’t need to change the tense if the whole scene is in the past versus you making allusion to something that took place in the past.
Nuts and bolts aside (because in my experience, advice that pertains to the technical aspects of grammar is often shrugged off saying no one cares about all that nerd bullshit) this is important because it robs your story of immediacy and lessens the emotional impact of your otherwise strong sentences.
Take “Fern had been right beside Dominic while he was strangled.” for example. This is a clear, powerful image that immediately grabs my interest and has me asking the questions you want. Why was he standing next to him while he was strangled? How did he get away? etc. But it’s slowed down by all that ballast in the middle of it. Contrast “Fern was right beside Dominic while he was strangled.”
You’re halfway there already. You lapse out of past perfect progressive and into simple past, because you know that’s just better writing. You know it’d be awkward to say “while he had been strangled,” so what I’m telling you is you’re not going far enough. If you’re not sure the audience will get there’s a time shift, have one or two sentences written that way at the beginning, then stop it and write normally, like when you have a character with an accent.
I like the scene with the witch. It’s evocative and does a good job letting me know how Fern feels in her presence.
The ending leaves me sort of cold. I guess it was dark on the night when his brother was killed or his dad wore a mask or something. I understand Fern not having any kind of external reaction when the witch tells him the news. But afterwards, I’m left somewhat wanting.
Writing throughout was pretty good, but the first half is much stronger than the second.
it’s not cool to be scared
Ah, at last, a good reason to depart from simple past. Present lends immediacy and is good for action. Solid opening.
Really good pidgin. Fantastic voice in general throughout.
Great choice of topic for the prompt.
I have pretty much nothing to suggest as far as improvement goes, just one small typo: “rock and grave” I assume you meant gravel. Not a big deal, but since it’s about nuclear war, I was given momentary pause. Check your spelling, spellcheck is free, but that’s why it’s poo poo.
I was Born with Water in my Veins
I think you screwed yourself with the distance in this story.
The choice of subject is fine, I guess. Inoffensive. But you stay really far removed from the main and all that’s going on around her for the bulk of the story.
I’m not one to say you have to use 1500 words if that’s what I give you, but this is the perfect example of the kind of story that could be improved by some more detail. I really don’t know anything about the pov’s family, so I don’t have strong feelings as a reader about whether she should stay there and wipe her grandmother’s rear end or go and not do that. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, because her grandmother dies anyway. Your main doesn’t always have to win or control the universe, but they should make some kind of important choice in the story, even if it’s just an internal one.
You focus too much on pretty turns of phrase like the feet that grew roots, nourished with the island’s blood (which are successful at doing what sentences like that are supposed to do) but don’t spend any time on character or plot. You’re not doing poetry (I didn’t specifically ban it because I didn’t feel like I needed to) but this reads more like a passage from a verse novel than a short story.
Before you dismiss me as a philistine, I have no beef with verse as a form. The “Crank” series is a pretty good series of books as well as films, but this isn’t a good story to be told in that way. It’s too much like a linear short story to be a good poem.
But it’s in a limbo between these two things where it doesn’t succeed at being either. As a story, there’s not really much at stake. So the pov leaves. So what? Nothing irreconcilable is being done, and the grandmother could just as easily be a baby, animal, or houseplant. She doesn’t have any characterization, so I don’t care about her. You can’t just adopt the trappings of sad stories (an old person is sick) and then expect to elicit the same response in kind.
At the beginning, pov didn’t have a grandmother to take care of, at the ending, pov doesn’t have a grandmother to take care of. Both externally and internally, nothing important has changed.
1500 words is enough room to at least marginally characterize a second character. Thranguy does an excellent job of this with not one but two secondary characters in his story with only about 300 words more than you. Look at the kinds of things he did, and see if you think any of them would be useful to you in your own writing in the future. None of them are specific to crime fiction. They would do just as well with the poetic women’s fiction you’re doing.
There’s not much wrong with the way your writing sounds. It seldom clunks, but story and characterwise, it just doesn’t go anywhere.
Paper and Ink
Your opening is great. I love Daniel being "pressed in the corner by vehemence," it's a great turn of phrase, and I know exactly how he feels.
I like your figurative language. Usually I bitch about too many analogies because they confuse the reader, but here they do the exact opposite since you pick them well. They serve to clarify. Well done.
You really make your 1014 words work for you by cutting through all the bullshit and going with single well-chosen words when they'll do. Knowing the homewrecker is "blousy" is really all I need.
I think you can cut your penultimate paragraph entirely. Like I suggested to Thranguy, excise repeated information when you can, especially in a story that's really short and exciting like yours. In your case, it's more emotional, internal information rather than literal plot information, but I think a reader who's paying attention can tell how Daniel feels. This also moves us straight from the dad and mistress laughing to Daniel's thoughts of arson, which is a more dynamic and immediate juxtaposition versus having that middle passage in there.
|# ¿ Aug 2, 2018 22:15|
didn't you have yoru winning in your first post lol
You are mistaken.
|# ¿ Aug 2, 2018 23:37|
how funny would it be if you got rhino?
|# ¿ Aug 3, 2018 02:41|
infinitely more funny than your posting
|# ¿ Aug 3, 2018 02:59|
fight him imo
I don't really feel like it, I'm kind of down. But a brawl is probably the thing to take my mind off of stuff, and if I get a deadline in a week, that'll be plenty of time, especially since judging/crits are done. Sure, let's do it. Would you like to set up the prompt and judge, since you're the instigator?
|# ¿ Aug 3, 2018 03:03|
Strength: Your vampire can taste the past or future in their victim's blood
Weakness: The presence of perfume torments them
Consanguinity 829 words
Harlan turned the radio down. These modern cars never had the drat buttons in the same place twice. Every rental was different. A human reflection approached in his rear view mirror. He adjusted it with his hand, his skin not inconveniencing him with a reflection.
The door opened and the human lurched into the passenger’s seat. He was still on his phone.
“Yeah. Love you too. Bye.” He thumbed the radio off.
“Mr. Kropp, I presume?” Harlan said and turned his head. He took in the mortal’s scent, but his lungs were on fire. He choked and reached for Kropp’s phone.
“Showered?” he typed.
“Yeah, I stopped off at the gym like you said. No cologne or anything,” Kropp said.
“Wife?” Harlan typed, his gorge rising.
“gently caress. I only hugged her on my way out. That doesn’t count, does it?” Kropp said.
“Whioerjlweja.” Harlan’s head swam.
“Oh, for gently caress’s sake, all right, let me—“ Kropp reached across Harlan’s lap and pushed the trunk button, phantom spurs of Hermes 24 skewering him the whole time.
He shrugged off his overcoat and tossed it in the trunk. Harlan’s vision cleared as the scent dissipated. Kropp got back in.
“Happy?” Kropp said impatiently.
“Mm. Have you decided which package you’d like?” Harlan said, not taking the bait.
“Yes, yes. Immediate future, and make it quick. I’ve got a conference call with Hong Kong in an hour.”
Harlan extended his fangs and unbuckled his seatbelt. “Where do you want it?”
Kropp swallowed, the half Windsor knot on his striped Ferragamo wavering. “I thought it had to be the neck.”
“Anywhere it won’t be detected is fine. Think of it like a shot. You’ve got blood all over. Wrist, ankle, groin, whatever you’re most comfortable with.”
Kropp scoffed. “That’s the last thing I need, some paparazzi snapping me with your head in my lap.”
“I wouldn’t worry. My kind doesn’t show up on film.”
“I thought that was an old wives’ tale.” Kropp pulled down the passenger’s mirror and saw only himself. “Neck is fine.” His eyes widened as he saw his tie and collar loosen themselves in the reflection.
“Just relax, if you please. The vision lasts longer if you’re calm,” Harlan said. He sunk his teeth in and tasted contentment, ambition, and envy. He rested his hand on Kropp’s cheek, grounding himself in the feel of his graying beard so he’d know when his sight began.
The car and parking garage dissolved around him. Harlan was no longer himself. He sat in a room replete with mahogany and leather bound books. Law office. An enormous window behind the desk let sunlight stream in, painlessly on his skin in a way he hadn’t felt in decades. A calendar on the desk indicated it was two days later.
He was surrounded by other humans, many of whom resembled Kropp. Family. His hand brought a snifter of brandy to his lips, and he glimpsed Kropp’s reflection within.
His family was dressed in black. The lawyer wasn’t. Funeral. Reading. Will. Hermes 24 wafted from Kropp’s side, just out of his field of vision. His wife beside him.
“—holdings in the company I leave to my beloved son Gerald. Truly, a father could not have asked for more.” The lawyer took off his glasses and clasped his hands.
Kropp had a small pair of tweezers in his palm and pulled one of his nose hairs surreptitiously. His vision swam with tears everyone else seemed to take as genuine. Harlan felt him clearing his throat, but the vision dissolved before he could hear what he said. His words were drowned out by the pounding of Kropp’s heartbeat in the present. Harlan blinked and when he opened his eyes, he was in the car again, Kropp’s sweat damp under his lips.
“Is that it?” Kropp said, trying his best to sound nonchalant despite his racing heart.
Harlan pulled away and took a pack of Wet Ones out of his lapel to wipe his mouth as he retracted his fangs.
“Yeah. Congratulations, Gerald. Your old man’s leaving you the company.” Harlan pulled out a flosser and worked around his fangs.
Kropp grumbled and took out a burner. “Yeah, it’s me. Cancel the contract on my father. Looks like I need to put in more face time with the old bastard. I know about the 24 hour cancellation fee, put it on my bill. All right, I’ll let you know. Thanks.” He took both halves of the Razr in his hands and snapped it.
“My name is John.” He tucked the broken phone back into his pocket.
Harlan checked the time on the dash, unsure of what to say. “I can drop you off at your office. You ought to still make it in time for the call with Hong Kong.”
“I’d appreciate that,” Kropp said.
“Ok. Don’t forget your coat.”
|# ¿ Aug 6, 2018 13:48|
bingo card submitted.
awesome, can't wait. very imaginative prompt. looking forward to seeing the submissions.
Invisible Clergy fucked around with this message at 13:48 on Aug 7, 2018
|# ¿ Aug 7, 2018 13:42|
These sheets are fascinating. Good luck, everyone!
|# ¿ Aug 7, 2018 22:41|
Tyrannosaurus, when we submit, do you want us to include the card with the line we chose as our bingo highlighted, or should we leave that out since it should be self-evident which cells we chose?
|# ¿ Aug 8, 2018 15:10|
Family Recipe (1141 words)
It wasn’t exactly a surprise when I got the call abuela was dying.
She’d had her share of brushes with death, but there was nothing she couldn’t cure with her cooking, at least as far as she was concerned. When I was sick and had to stay home from school when mom had a shift, she’d give me a bowl of soup with secret, wonderful things inside of it, and though I was always well enough to leave the house after the first love-filled spoonful, she always kept my secret as long as she got to pick the channel on our foil-mummified tv.
The old house seemed smaller every time I went back. I’d taken off work and gotten Janine to cover me. She’d offered to come, but I knew it’d just complicate things. I liked to think abuela knew why I’d never settled down with a nice boy, but there was no sense tempting fate.
I almost had to bend my head to walk into her sick room. The pantry, always a nebulously-bordered thing, had encroached from the kitchenette into her bedroom. Woodear mushrooms sat, wrinkled like hanging bats in huge glass jars by her bed, packs of noodles and bottles of honey, and things whose labels I could no longer read gathered dust beside her.
They looked more at home here than the increasingly distant relatives who’d made their pilgrimages here to say goodbye. A cousin or uncle handed me a book of English crossword puzzles, rolled up like a baton on his way out.
“Come closer, mijita,” she said, her eyes barely open. I did, despite the heat of the room. She lay cocooned in wool blankets, not a drop of sweat on her. I’d never seen her look so small.
“How are the dogs?” she asked. I told her, and she was polite enough to feign interest, though she’d been allergic since she was my age.
“I’m glad you came. There’s something special I’d been meaning to give you,” she said. I practiced my gracious smile for whatever VHS she’d gotten from the library, or off-brand chocolate bar she’d picked up at the dollar store god knows how long ago because it’d reminded her of me.
She reached into her sweater and picked at a mole on her neck. “Did I ever tell you how your abuelo courted me?” she asked. Only a hundred times.
“I think you might’ve mentioned,” I said, not because I couldn’t bear to hear it again, but because I didn’t want her to spend her last minutes feeling obliged to tell it.
“Well, when he asked me to go dancing with him that night in the cafe, it wasn’t just his heart talking. This is something that’s been passed down in our family for generations. Your mother, I love her, but she just didn’t understand,” she said.
Mom had been the first in the family to go to college, then medical school. When abuela refused the chemotherapy, they’d stopped speaking. I’d tried not to take sides, but that only went so far.
“My mother, and her mother, back as long as we can remember, we’ve got something special hidden away, close to our hearts. We save it until we meet the man we know we’re meant to be with. Then, well, it’s like they say, closest way to a man’s heart and all.”
I nodded along. She reached under her sweater and untied the necklace she’d worn as long as I could remember. A small leather satchel hung in its center, drawn tight with string. As far as I knew, it contained abuelo’s ashes since he’d died when I was little.
I realized I’d never seen her without it. She clenched the thing in her withered fist and held it out to me. I couldn’t refuse. She beckoned for me to open it and I did. Inside were spores I couldn’t recognize.
“Coffee, soup, pie, even those nutri-bullet things you like, if he’s one of those healthy guys. Just a few will do it. After that, he’ll always be with you, always be a part of you. I know your mother doesn’t think so, but that’s why I’m not afraid to die. I know I’ll be back with my husband. We were never really apart.”
“I see,” I said, trying to remain neutral, like when she’d read me Bible stories when we’d go visit her.
“I know how you are. You’ll do research after you take it. I can’t stop you. But you’ll find it works. Why do you think we’ve never had a divorce in this family?” she asked. I kept to myself that I’d always assumed it was our nominal Catholicism.
“Even further than our family tree goes, before those ancestry records, the women of our family were using these seeds. The first of us to get them couldn’t get her beloved to even look her in the eye. She threw herself on the steps of the temple to Huehuecóyotl, and said if she couldn’t live with him, she might as well die. He gave her these seeds and said she’d never need to be alone again. I know you’ve had trouble settling down, you’ve been so busy with your studies, but maybe this can help. It’ll be one less thing for you to worry about,” she said.
I looked at the pouch. Janine and I had been together for— god, it was ten years this week. We’d been putting it off til it was legal. After that, we’d looked at lists of which members of our families we still weren’t out to. I guess it wouldn’t be any on my side now. Could stopping the excuses really be that easy?
I uncinched the bag a little more to see the contents more closely and smelled their earthy scent. Before I could exhale, I knew abuela was dead. I didn’t have to check her eyes or her breathing. I wasn’t even looking at her. I could feel that she had left, and I could feel what I’d always mislabeled as pity for me. It was love. She’d thought her life wasn’t full without a man, and what she wanted was to pass that on to me. Issues of consent aside, I somehow knew my abuelo, who I’d never met, had lived a long and happy life with her, and that what was left of him in our family plot had already gotten the news.
I covered her with a sheet and made the sign of the cross for the first time since high school graduation. I could say for certain now I knew it’s what she would’ve wanted. I texted Janine and told her I’d be home early and that I’d be making dinner.
“Who are you and what have you done with my girlfriend lol,” she replied.
|# ¿ Aug 13, 2018 04:49|
God damnit I wrote down the wrong time zone. Once more, I am Slammed in the Butthole by my Concept of Linear Time.
|# ¿ Aug 13, 2018 04:50|
Congratulations, QuoProQuid. Great job with a challenging sheet.
|# ¿ Aug 13, 2018 14:55|
In. Flash rule for me as well, please.
|# ¿ Aug 16, 2018 03:44|
Devil's Share: 981 words
Roland nursed a poor man’s latte. The white guy approaching the cafe in a conspicuously nondescript suit was clearly his contact. Some guys just broadcast “fed.”
“Mr. Thibodeaux, I presume.”
Roland, unsure of whether he should sit or stand, waved him to join.
“You’re early,” Roland said. He’d been earlier. Made a good impression and forestalled comments about CPT.
“Not my first time in New Orleans,” he said, tourist-like. “But it’s yours. How’re you finding the place, so far?”
“Bit of a jaunt, but hey, you said you were paying. Might as well have this thing of mine make me some money. Randi foundation already told me to pound sand.” Roland sipped his coffee and studied the man’s face. Figures they’d done a background check.
“Much like that organization, we’re less interested in your alleged ability and more in the implications of its existence.” He reached into his jacket. Roland tensed. Tape recorder.
“I’ll record our conversation for posterity,” he said.
“State your name for the record. I know the drill.”
He blinked and showed the first sign of emotion: annoyance. “No names.” The recorder’s light blinked. “Tell me how you came to learn about this ability of yours.”
“Don’t know I’d call it that. Never thought about it too much growing up. My mama never let me drink none, but that’s what mamas’re supposed to do. Never really got in with that crowd neither.”
“More academic than partygoer?” he asked.
“Not so much. Just mostly kept myself to myself, even before I knew. So my 21st comes, I pick a place in the neighborhood, give my ID to the bouncer. He waves me in. I go to grab a drink. Before I can get it, I feel some cop’s knee in my back. Now, I’m not surprised, exactly, but I’m shocked, y’know. Not the first time, but it’s not the kind of thing you want to get used to.”
“I can imagine,” said the man Roland knew never got pulled over.
“They take me in, tell me I’m wanted for murder next parish over. I’m trying to tell them I was at home that night, but they’re not hearing it. Turns out someone with my name was the guy, and you know we all look alike to cops.”
“Mm.” No disagreement, no judgement. Barely an acknowledgement.
“They let me out, but we were pretty shook. Even though the cops said everything was cleared up, I steered clear of bars for a while. Made me nervous.
Few years later, a girl I was seeing invited me to a house party. Kinda a bad area, but we figured less odds of getting the cops called. We’re there and dancing and poo poo and she’s got a Zima. You remember that?”
“Dimly,” he said.
“Party’s been going on a while, so we’re out on the yard. She takes one, hands me one. I haven’t told her about my 21st. It’s not a good story, and I don’t want to kill the mood, so I figure I’ll just drink one and try to chill.”
“But?” he asked.
“Before I can take the cap off, the bottle shatters in my hand. It’s loud as all get out, and people start running. Turns out two guys nearby’d started some poo poo and one of them popped off a round. Just fronting, but I got outta there before the cops came.”
“When was the next time you tried drinking?” he asked.
“I dunno, exactly. I wouldn’t try to do it myself anymore. I was worried about what’d happen. I’d be at a party or something, someone’d try to get me to try something and then drop the glass or get a phone call, but sometimes we’d all come down with food poisoning before they could open the wine. I didn’t talk about it. People kept wanting to see if it was real, and bad poo poo’d happen.”
“What do you think is doing this?” he asked.
“Well, I didn’t tell mama about the party, but after she saw a couple of these things happen, she took me aside and said she’d been keeping something from me.
When she’d been younger, before she had me, she and her friends got themselves drunk and stole one of those houseboats. They took it for a ride, but they didn’t know what was what, crashed it and sunk it. They didn’t get hurt too bad, but when they climbed out onto the bank, an old swamp woman saw them there. She’d seen mama driving it and laughing and mama said she’d never seen anything like the hate in her eye. The other one was just a big scar without any patch or anything. She yelled some words and said ‘never again will your blood be tainted by spirits’ and chased them all out.”
“Did your mother experience similar effects?” he asked.
“I don’t know. After that, she said she was scared straight, and she got pregnant with me right after. When she’d been off the stuff the better part of the year, she said she’d lost her taste for it. She’s with Jesus now, but best as we could figure, since I’ve got her blood in my veins, it’ll get me too.”
“I imagine you wanted to divest yourself of this voodoo curse,” he said.
“Well, sure. We looked for that old woman, but we didn’t know her name. While later, we saw her in the obits. She was more than a hundred. Figure asking her to lift it now won’t do too much good.”
“Mm.” Nothing further.
“So, am I in? Is it cash or check or what?” Roland asked. Hoped it was more than Randi’s million.
“If what you’re saying is true, it’d be hard to test in any way that couldn’t ascribed to coincidence, but I’m sure they’ll think of something.”
“That a yes?” Roland asked.
“We’ll be in touch.”
|# ¿ Aug 18, 2018 05:10|
Congrats, Djeser. Good job.
|# ¿ Aug 20, 2018 16:01|
|# ¿ Aug 21, 2018 14:26|
Sounds like a fun prompt. In. Flash me.
|# ¿ Sep 1, 2018 00:20|
I give pre-submission feedback on this story and you have the audacity to accuse me of deliberately sabotaging you by missing this typo?
And now you're drawing attention to said typo while the story is still being judged. Does your cowardly sabotage know no end? Does the shriveled traitorous lump of discount monkey-meat sitting in your chest and masquerading as a heart know no shame, sir?
As much fun as it would be to see you continue tearing strips off each indefinitely, I would be happy to judge this brawl between you two:
Since you have a month, 1500 words is the limit, and since you jokers both apparently both drew it on your word-a-day calendar, your stories must deal with sabotage. Due date is October 2nd, 9pm central time because I have to work early the 3rd, and you have a loving month to work on it.
|# ¿ Sep 3, 2018 03:10|
|# ¿ Jan 19, 2022 23:21|
Freefall: 699 words.
Flash: the first to escape
Graham swallowed a whole roll of Tums dry and politely rebuffed Ben’s proffered thermos of coffee.
“Little early for me. Besides, I don’t go for that flavored poo poo,” Graham said into the headset to be heard over the roar of the engines.
Something about the smell set him on edge, though he’d welcome its heat about now. It was cold as hell in the plane. Soon enough, they’d be ready to jump.
Ben gave him one of those little smiles that didn’t touch his eyes. That wounded “oh, I’m sorry to have burdened you with my kindness” look. He’d sort it out later. You learned things about a man when you’d run a company together for this long.
“Suit yourself. Love to see those SEC cocksuckers on this plane, huh? Don’t think they’d make it out of the hangar.” Ben gave him a friendly pat on the back and wedged past him to offer the pilot some coffee.
An investigation was all but guaranteed. Though his Spanish had seen better days, Graham knew the financial papers he’d had gotten from the kiosk in Buenos Aires had been grim. There wasn’t much room for interpretation in “Ben Minchner Implicado en Escándalo de Seguridad.” as a headline. miNos’s stock might as well have been on the plane with them given how fast it was going to plummet.
“You’re quiet.” Ben emerged from the cockpit. “We’ll be on the boat soon. We can unplug, wait for all this poo poo to blow over. It always does. Trust me.”
Graham clutched his duffel bag full of his spearfishing gear and zinc oxide and deck shoes to keep his hands from shaking.
“Yeah. Listen, do you think—“ the plane pitched and he lost his train of thought along with the medialunas he’d eaten on the way to the airfield.
“Sit tight. I’ll go see what’s up,” Ben said with another slap on the back. Graham probably had a callus by now.
He gripped the edge of his seat as the detritus on the plane’s floor began to shift toward the cockpit.
“I can’t believe it. It’s a sign,” Ben said as he emerged from the cockpit. He had his goggles on and was already tightening the straps to his chute.
“What? Is everything all right?” Graham asked, tasting bile.
“Well,” nothing good ever followed that, “no, actually. He’s dead. Heart attack or something. But it’ll all work out. I was gonna tell you on the boat, once you’d calmed down, but we’re screwed, legally.”
“You told me—“ Ben cut him off by extending his index finger, like he was a waiter.
“It doesn’t matter what I told you anymore. Far as anyone’s concerned, we died in this plane crash. Why do you think we’re slumming it in one of these lovely countries? They don’t extradite. We can start over. It’ll be fine. Trust me.” Ben reached across the bench to slap Graham’s back, and for the first time in their relationship, Graham flinched.
“Heh. I’ll see you on the ground.” Ben discarded his headset, opened the door, and jumped.
As the silk of his chute unfurled, Graham saw the logo for their company, as he had a thousand times: two circular labyrinths, overlapping in a Venn Diagram, the letters standing out in the middle through the cross hatching. The first breaking rays of dawn shone on it, and like a moiré pattern, it appeared for a moment to be spun from the purest gold.
Graham didn’t like it, but what choice did he have? Story of his life. He went to the cockpit to grab his chute.
The pilot’s phone sat underneath it. They were low enough to get reception. It wouldn’t be long before they crashed. The homepage was CNN. Even though the thermos rolled, empty, next to it, its display warped through the coffee, Graham could see the headline clearly as the mountains in front of him:
“miNos CEO Takes Plea, Implicates CFO Graham Osborn”
He’d had trouble placing the scent earlier, mistaking it for vanilla. There was no mistaking the telltale bitter almond stench now. Graham checked his chute, and his cords had been cut.
The radio in Graham’s pack crackled.
“What’s keeping you, buddy?” Ben asked, cheerful as ever.
Graham plucked the radio from the pack and unzipped his duffel. He loaded the harpoon gun intended for dorado and lowered his goggles to block out the sun. Ben had turned his back on him.
“How’s the air?” Graham said into the radio.
“Beautiful. I’ll see you at the bottom?” Not a tinge of guilt in his voice.
“Yeah.” Graham took aim. “See you at the bottom.” He pulled the trigger.
|# ¿ Sep 3, 2018 04:13|