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steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


sebmojo posted:

Wellington crew is calling out you seattle buttlords, fight us.

Someone said wordfights. I'm back.

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steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016




Whoever is paired off with me can write about Wolpertingers.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


I’ll take a man-eating tree.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Chili was worried maybe we wouldn’t get these in on time. Chill, Chili, we got this. New Zealand has a posse, ride together die together.

Table of Contents

SureptitiousMuffin eviscerating Uranium Phoenix’s Manananggal with Smokefree in Seattle aka We fight monsters

steeltoedsneakers chopping down Jay W. Friks’ Man-eating Tree with Sapless in Seattle aka Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

newtestleper dismantling and reassembling Nethilia’s Wolpertinger with Gentrificationless in Seattle aka Dead Letters

sebmojo tearing the tentacles off Sitting Here’s Akkorokamui with Squidless in Seattle aka Suckers

Morning Bell drowning CantDecideOnAName’s Loch Ness Monster with Sporranless in Seattle aka Monsters Made of Straw

Yoruichi’s monstrous cavalry charge at Dr. Kloctopussy’s Tikbalang with Sheepish in Seattle aka rear end in a top hat

Fumblemouse taking a golf club to curlingiron’s Flatwoods Monster with Cubeless in Seattle aka Second Childhood

What’s up now, Seattle?

steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at Mar 2, 2018 around 08:44

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Seattle vs Wellington Megabrawl
Jay W. Friks vs steeltoedsneakers
Man-eating Tree - Theme Word: Air

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
949 Words

Winter
I watched it eat Molly last week. I thought at first my tabby had just leapt up into the branches, shaking the dry twigs as she went - but then the sound reached me. Half-strangled mewls cut off by a sudden, damp crunching and a chittering that cut through the chill winter air.

For weeks I had dreamt of earth. Surrounded by cool damp dirt, reaching down through the soil. Arms plunged deep, limbs unrestrained by joints or bones or skin. Fingers separating, branching wide, scrabbling and searching for gaps between dirt clumps and rocks. Hungry.

We often patrolled the veggie garden in the evenings. I’d tell her about my day, and she’d curl up in my arms and purr. I don’t know why, but that night we walked down the bank, across the back paddock to the willow by the creek bed.

Molly jumped down and ran ahead, and I watched in horror as the tree seemed to swallow her up. Tiny, invasive octopus tentacles forced their way past the memories of lazy Sundays in the front room with her, pulled at the edges of my thoughts: More. The same smells, the same feeling of earthly embrace from my dreams suddenly present again.

Standing there, shaking, I could feel it speak to me, commanding me. I couldn’t fight it, breathless against the cruel and infinite momentum of it.

Spring
I’ve been resourceful, braving the daily drizzle and bluster to catch possum and rabbit. Cold, wet hands scrabbling to open leg traps, bag my quarry and reset the small metal jaws. The tree is stronger now, the cold bare branches draped in long strands of yellow-gold leaves.

It prefers live prey, wouldn’t touch the ones I’d given a small mercy to. Dazed from blood loss and pain, they barely have a chance to crawl out of the sack I throw near the base of the tree. I sit in uneasy awe in the evening light as I watch it, boughs creaking into striking position then suddenly lashing out like a snake’s head, enveloping its catch. The chittering branches shake the leaves, and it sounds like the ocean.

If I sit still for too long, I can feel energy flowing out its core, along the root maze, stretching further into the earth. It doesn’t wait until I sleep anymore, I close my eyes and I’m there in the loam. Turning, twisting, roiling hungrily forward through the damp soil. Faster now, wider. I can reach across the field in a heartbeat.

There’s a new girl working at the tearooms. She’s been there a couple of weeks now, came in on the spring winds. She's nice to me, too. I don't know if it's just her trying hard to make new friends in town, but she seems genuine. I've made sure to work in a stop for afternoon tea before I head up the hills to forage.

Summer
Hope sat with me yesterday. I’ve been in there every day this summer, we make small talk or exchange a quick smile if it’s busy.

She sat with me. One minute she was behind the till, and then she was in the seat opposite me. Close. She smelled faintly like sawdust and apples.

She touched my hand - something electric making its way along the root structure of my nervous system. Said something about ‘us country girls’ having to stick together, nodding near-imperceptibly at a table of swanndri, cigarette ash and sun-cured skin. I barely caught it, blood rushing into my ears in a roaring tide. I nodded, smiling to cover the delay between hearing her and processing the words. She smiled back, warm rays washing over me.

We talked for hours, Hope drifting between our table and the counter. She’d moved here to be closer to her parents and have somewhere to paint with low rent and minimal interruption. She showed me a couple of pieces on her phone, watercolour landscapes like the kind you’d find in an op shop. Streams, fields, trees. Willows.

I’d hardly thought of my tree. There wasn’t time to get into the bush and clear the traps - I put it off until morning, ignoring the probing, pulling feeling at the back of my mind.

I rolled into bed after dark and dreamt I was in a paddock. Breathing in the warm night air, grass brushing lazily against my leg in the gentle breeze. I could smell apples.

Autumn
The field smells of rot. Dead leaves thick on the ground, shades of brown, yellow and orange coalescing into a muted red around the tree. I don’t need to sense the roots anymore, everywhere they reach the grass has decayed. Long strings of brown and black spread across the field like a sad, wet lightning strike.

I brought her here. I didn’t mean to, she dropped by one evening when I was out in the garden. The sun low in the sky, golden light catching the tree and setting it ablaze. Even knowing the brutal truth, I couldn’t ignore the beauty of it.

And neither could she.

She’d stood with me for a short spell before walking down across the paddock for a closer look. I told her to wait, I tried to tell her that it was less impressive up close. She went closer, hand trailing lightly on the trunk as the cool autumn sun shone through the thinning foliage - like dozens of tiny stars playing across her skin. I closed my eyes tight, pleading with the tree.

Eyes closed, I heard the sound. A branch creaking like an old floorboard. I couldn’t bring myself to open them again. In the darkness a single word.

Mine.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Crain posted:

You mean AA. As in Alcoholics Anonymous.

AAA is the car service.

Well, this is confusing: https://aa.co.nz

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016



Thanks Kaishai!

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


In. I'd like a song too please.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


I've written too many bad words about tendrils. Gonna look up synonyms for corvid feathers instead for a change.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Recall
814 words
Team Corvidae

Watch. Wait. It will come. It is kind. It always comes and it is always kind.

Her black head peers out from her nook watches rain fall softly, shimmers of pink and blue caught in the drops. She takes in the white noise cascading against white noise as rain rattles against the rhythmic hum of the walls.

Thunderous blocks of light, colour and fury roar past far below. She watches the small clearing of gentle yellow light, small clusters of green leaves around its edges ripple in the downpour. The green calms her. Something deep within pokes at her with a blunt idea. Nudges somewhere deeper than memory.

She feels the tug before she hears the quiet croaks of her chicks. First one, then the other two. Their wrinkled bodies not yet cloaked in ash, not yet hooded and gloved like their mother. They roll and kick in the small nest. Her nest, built with fine bronze strands woven through thicker white fibres that bend but not break. The calls amplified in the small, dark space.

Food.

They only have so many words at this age, and all those words are for hunger or fear. She turns back to her clearing.

Food will come. It will come with food. It is kind.

She waits. It will come with food because she has watched and it comes with food. It has come with food. It will come with food again. She observes, she notes, she repeats until she knows.

The wall of the clearing moves, spills harsh white light across it.

It comes. It is kind.

A figure emerges from the white light, straw coloured hair falls out beneath a hood. A black hood like her hood. It carries a round white container under one arm. Her heart quickens, the tiny organ threatens to beat through her fragile ribcage. The hum, the rain, her young, all sounds fade.

She watches. She watches as the figure swings the container back, and then quickly forward. The contents slop out across the clearing. She assesses. It is food. It never smells like food but it is food. A large chunk sits at the edge of the light. It suffices.

She wriggles forward out of the narrow entrance. Stretches her wings in the night air, rain beads across the thick oily feathers.

Then she sees it. Another her. Hood, ash, speed. It swoops down under the leaves and takes her piece. Her children’s.

She starts to speak,

Mi-

and stops. Tucks in her wings. Her heart breaks, but she stills and she watches. Watching works. The other her will not fly far. Carrying weight it cannot fly far. She watches.

The other her takes the food in her beak, launches itself upward in a blur of grey and black. Rain on black feathers catches the light as she ascends. Pinks, oranges and golds that bleed between and from the high walls. Blues and purples that never let the night fall completely. Greens that are both unnatural and familiar at once.
She drifts, half-watches as her eyes follow the food and the other her up. Another part of her is still watching the green light play across feathers, hearing rain on leaves. Deep within that part of her she hears rustling, scratching and creaking. She feels her perch sway and it feels good.

The other her lands. Both parts of her rejoin as she watches it push in against the wall, tucks itself and the food into a gap. Moments pass. She watches. She waits.

They always come out. There is always more to gather.

The other her emerges. It drops, opens black wings wide and cruises back down at the clearing. Other birds are there now, they will squabble. It will buy time.

She flies up and up and up to the gap. She flies through swathes of colour, allows a part of herself to feel warm in the green only for a split second. She arrives. She burrows into the wall, chases the smell that should not be food.

Then she hears them squawk. First it means food and then it means fear. Her heart tears. The part that feels alive and warm in green light wants to feed all the young - can feed all the young. The other part wraps her beak around the wet, pinkish chunk because she knows the rain and the hunger.

She backs out swiftly, drags her bounty with her. Desperate to be clear of the squawks and croaks. She stares at the pink, lets the background blur. They are only sounds. They are only sounds.

She feels rain and wind on her tail feathers, extracts herself from the hole faster now that she can grip the edge. Once clear she lets herself fall. One part feels the air rush past her while the other weeps. Both turn, wings outstretched and glide home.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


In.

I'd like to write about a vampire, please and thank you.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Strength: Your vampire can tailor preternaturally exquisite clothing, which makes the wearer susceptible to the vampire's will.
Weakness: Your vampire gushes precious blood at the merest pinprick.

Ribbons
1197 words

Steve thought that being a vampire was a bit sketchy. He wasn’t at all comfortable with the balance of power when it came to mesmerising victims. Actually, now that he came to think about it, he wasn’t all that keen on calling them victims.

Steve decided that he wouldn’t refer to his non-consenting blood donors as victims any more. He nodded once firmly, to nobody in particular, basking in the warm glow of his resolution.

Steeled by moral conviction, he brought his attention back into the room. Eyes refocusing of his workshop he took in the hot mess of blood, cloth, sewing machines and bodies. Steve turned quickly away from the bodies, uncomfortable with the physical reminder that he was unable to think of a word to replace “victim”.

He looked loathfully at the mound of heavy fabric. Steve could have turned that velvet into anything, a flattering evening jacket, a daringly cut dress. But no, he was going to turn into a robe. Steve knew it would be a lovely robe. It would embrace the wearer in a soft cuddly state of bliss, tension rolling off their shoulders and taking any unease or sense of safety with it.

Steve made very nice robes. All his clients appreciated them as a core, if extravagant, part of the massage experience he offered. But oh, he thought, it could be so much more. Even as a robe, he could embroider some magnificent design across the back, each lovingly crafted detail exposing a new vulnerability in the wearer. Petals of a rose that unpick the psychic armour of his amour-to-be, the swirling shell pattern of a majestic horseshoe crab to cloud their instinct to run.

He was going to turn that pile of potential into a unsatisfactory but perfectly functional robe because it was less likely to turn Steve’s finger into a quivering geyser of iron, oxygen and red. Lord knows it wouldn’t be the first time Steve would spend a week bleaching the walls, ceiling and, thankfully tiled, floor. One prick from a tiny needle, one rogue swing of the shearers and the bank of Berninas would be a deep shade of rouge.

Steve’s mind drifted to the last time he’d pushed the needle too forcefully through the fabric, absentmindedly pushing the needle too forcefully through the lush green velvet. Gouts of hot blood forced itself past the cold needle’s point, too impatient for it to slide back out and microseconds before Steve’s anguished shout.

“Fuuuuuuck!” Steve bellowed, sending his chair dancing across the hard floor toward the wall behind him. “Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck” he clutched his finger, uselessly wrapping his hand across the tip like a fat fleshy bandage.

Steve crossed the room swiftly and deliberately, trying to both minimise the spray and direct it away from the expensive piles of textiles that covered the tables with his now blood-soaked free hand. It shot blood in a fine mist, like a Dad with his thumb over the hose-pipe, coating everything it touched in a bright, glistening red.

He dunked his hand in the freshly defrosted mug of blood he’d set out earlier, feeling the contents start to knit together the broadening pinhole at the end of his index finger. Tiny tendrils of epidermis reaching out hungrily - then sated, grasping at one another across the minutest divide, hauling skin and flesh together.

As his fingertip repaired itself he looked at the jumbled pile of bodies in the corner and grimaced. He’d need a top-up now, and he was feeling less certain about the enthusiastic consent of his victims. He grimaced again, having said “victim” again in his head.

The latest wasn’t quite dead, but was drained to the point of not having much of a future in this workshop. Blood flowing lazily, barely audibly, through their veins. Steve considered his options. On one hand, he was being quickly burdened the idea that maybe what he did wasn’t entirely unproblematic. On the other, well, they were already on the way out - it would be wasteful to not make full use of them, wouldn’t it? Another part of him quietly tutted that this is what happens when you read too much, and wasn’t life easier a decade ago?

Steve drank, but made an effort to feel really bad about it as he did so. He bit into the thin skin and it offered little resistance, almost as resigned to its fate as the nearly hollowed vessel it enveloped.

As the blood flowed across his tongue, a resolve built within him. He wasn't going to ensnare his victims with his tricks and powers This one was the last one. He'd be ethical. He had heard good things about synthetics. He also hoped that it wasn't too expensive.

“gently caress it.” he said aloud to no one in particular. He fought urge to lick the last flecks of blood from his teeth, lest he start the process all over again - this time with no top-up on hand.

Invigorated, he stood up. The body dropped from his lap ungracefully with a damp thud. He looked down the narrow room at the green robe, unfinished and stained. No, today wasn't a robe day. Steve had restrained himself for too long with thick fabrics, emergency mugs and bodies on hand. Today was actually a tonight, and it it would be a dress night.

Not just any night, giddy with ambition and convinced his newfound abstinence from nonconsensual exsanguination had bought him a ticket on the karmic express to success, he wanted to create the ultimate monument to his chastity. Tonight was a wedding dress night.

Steve worked as a man possessed, a whirlwind of silk and lace enshrouded him as he shaped it. The bank of sewing machines roared and clattered, finally set loose to run unbridled. He worked at speeds he hadn't dared approach in years, joy in seeing a vision take shape driving him on. Fully in flow, his hands guided needle and blade deftly across the delicate material like sharp metal extensions of himself.

Hours passed, Steve's pace never wavering. Slivers of dawn's light clawed their way across the ceiling now, casting hints of gold across the near-complete dress. It was magnificent. It clung to the dressmaking dummy, elevating the canvas and wood structure to regality with its beauty.

Today was a today after all. Steve had forgotten the last time he had worked an all-nighter. He had forgotten the rush of pride and passion that put the dress before his body, eking out those last few precious minutes before the daylight brought its punishment.

Steve lifted the dress up off the dummy, draping the assemblage of all his multitude of skills across his arm to examine it more closely. The applique dragged hard across his exposed forearm. First slivers of blood, then wide blots pushed their way through the fine material.

Steve looked up toward the kitchenette, realising before his eyes had refocused over the distance that he was without the tools he was unmoored and adrift.

He looked back down at the dress, and sunk to the floor. Needle in hand he began his final work, embroidering tiny rose petals in the blood-red brocade.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


I'm in judge debt, turns out I didn't turn in any crits for week 294. It's probably not the first time that's happened, but week 294 is the only week I'm going to feel bad about.

I'll drop my judgefarts here; these were initial reactions before we got the gang together to talk about you behind your back. If anyone wants an in-depth crit of their piece from that week, I'll do something deeper. First in, first served - I'll do three.

feedmyleg - The God Hole
Testes. Oh god do i have questions about cloacal mechanics.. BUT I liked it?

Ironic Twist - Lovelybad
Well, that first sentence is too long. Words not so much clumsy, but messy? Fighting to read the story so far. AND NOPE. Like, I guess it’s about metal people who might explode the world around them, but it’s in the Doctor Who vein of science fiction (lol what if cabbage people?) rather than being an extrapolation of, or a forseeable future - maybe i missed something but I’m having trouble making the leap to meet you halfway. Makes me appreciate testicle man more.

Benny Profane - They Shoot Koalas, Don't They?
The gently caress is with stupid long first sentences. I already like this more than waterworld though. Fuckin ocker. You done built a world and nothing really happened. Abby feels like your protag, but she watches someone get shot then ruminates on it. Good dialogue though, readable.

areyoucontagious - Echidna
Ooh, first para typo. I mean, I read past these things generally - but you gotta wonder whether you’ve proofed this if I’m running into it early. OK so typo was a fluke, currently engrossed. gently caress YEAH. I mean, it’s a little black mirror myeh myeh but don’t care. Good write.

SurreptitiousMuffin - g=Gm/r2
Beautiful. Feels like a Muffin piece

cptn_dr - Solitude's Not For Everyone
Oh cool, space ships are run by 80s DOS text adventures. Revery? Don’t be francophobic. Pratchett and Clancy should never be that close. ALSO A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING IS HAPPENING, SO I’M HERE TO CRIT YOUR LANGUAGE. Nothing happens for so long that I feel this entire thing is going to be a bad vehicle for the space punchline you dreamed up last Thursday. OH gently caress OFF.

Thranguy - Agency
Yeah, i liked this - downside was it didn’t feel tense enough, and I’m not sure how much the “that alien didn’t know how close they came to death/lol i’m actually a serial killer” bit at the end acutally adds?

Yoruichi - Braaaaaains
Zombies, nice touches of world building. Not sure how people became zombies, will reread to make sure i didn’t miss something..? Love in the time of viscera subplot helps, but characters a little flat.

ThirdEmperor - The Friendly Machine
Extraction of conscience/soul as normalised, but looks too much like death for everyone to be as comfortable with it as they say. On the surface, not super original to examine, but the human touches, the parental relationship and the examination of herd mentality/bureaucratic theory floats my boat. MID HIGH

Obliterati - The Last Shot of the War
Thought they were fighting trees at first. I mean, I guess. All these stories feel pretty loving competent. This isn’t amazing, but I’d be happy if I wrote it. I’m not sure the motivation lands well enough for the ending to work?

Tyrannosaurus - Brutus, thou sleep’st. Awake, and see thyself.
HIGH. I struggle with stories that are mostly the machinations of the mind rather than action, as “something has to happen” has been drilled into me for so long. This was solid in terms of world-building, and exploring the idea of the individual through a science-fictiony technology. Nice work.

Uranium Phoenix - The Wheel Turns
AYY Another exploration of consciousness. This time it’s really sweet, I like it. High for me.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


steeltoedsneakers posted:

If anyone wants an in-depth crit of their piece from that week, I'll do something deeper. First in, first served - I'll do three.
It's been a day with no takers, offer is now extended to any takers: stories past and present.

Still three though, let's not be too silly.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016



Nocturnal Affliction crit
His awful laugh jostles given the next sentence this feels like too friendly a verb? me awake. My hands and feet are bound to my bedpost. He stands over me; his lone eye focused on my expression. I give him nothing. Back when this first happened, I was horrified. After a few times, frustrated. But, annoyed as I might be, my cyclopean tormenter seems to enjoy himself more if I show him emotion. He lowers his pants and covers me in urine.

I spit the wretched piss out of my mouth and hear him laugh. He pulls his pants back up, withdraws a curved dagger from one of his pockets and cuts me free.

“Same time next month then?” He says to me as he climbs up to my bedroom window.

“I suppose so.” You’ve left me too much freedom to decide how this sounds - and not all of them work.

And with that, he’s gone, and I’m back to my life personal taste, but I don’t like this turn-of-phrase - maybe people don’t refer to being in their own life much?.

-------

“So, to recap...” my shrink looks down at her legal pad for a moment and reads some of her notes.

She sits up straight her in leather chair, looks up at me and pauses for a moment. I’m paying her by the hour though, and this feels like a waste of my time: “On the first of the month, while I’m asleep, a cyclops breaks into my home and urinates on me.”

She bobs her head as she holds her focus on me. I'm not sure if she’s trying to tell me that she understands or if she’s just at a loss for what to say next.

Finally, she speaks: “Bill, I’m curious how you want me to help you with this problem.”

“Well,” I reply. “I want it to stop.” This whole thing is totes ridiculous, but it feels more fluid here than your opener. This is a different tone too; the straight man playing straight in a weird situation - the opener is actually awful, it’s a cyclops that ties Bill up and pisses on him. I’d be inclined to start in the therapist’s office - I don’t think the story actually needs it to be crystal clear there is a pissmonster from the get-go

“Are you open to the possibility that this might be some kind of halluc…” I know how reading works, but there’s a part of my brain that wants to chuck a hard ‘ck’ on the end of this because you didn’t give me the vowel it needed. I had pause enough to have a think about it anyway, which means it broke me out of the story briefly..

“No.” I stop her right there. “Look Doc, I have to shower after this. I feel the grime on my flesh.”

“I don't doubt that you feel…” She shifts in her chair. “...unclean, after these events. But I am curious as to why this might be happening.”

“Well, that makes two of us.”

“When did you first notice this problem?” She asks me.

“Right after I finished college. I moved back in with my parents, and only a week say a week later, or “within a week” maybe? Only a week implies that there was no respite a little, but you don’t indicate that college would be something to seek refuge from later it happened for the first time.”

“Interesting.” She scribbles in her notebook. “So why then?”

“Well, I think it’s because of the situation I’m in.”

“And what might that be?” She asks.

“While I was away at college, my parents had done some remodeling on the house. They put this trellisy thing up near my window.” this isn’t a situation

She seems confused. Yeah me too

“So that’s how he gets in.” I explain. No you didn’t, you did words. You didn’t explain anything about the situation - but good to know. What I’m saying here is that “situation” was maybe the wrong word.

“Oh,” she closes her notebook. “I see. Well, I’m mindful of time. This may have been best suited to bring up at the beginning of our session.” What? Why? Now they’re both in on it.

“Yeah, I guess. But my parents have been driving me crazy, and I just had to get all the stuff off of my chest.” my read here, is that the first part of the therapy session that we didn’t see went through a bunch of stuff not about the nightpissings - but you didn’t convey at the start of this scene that a great deal of time had passed. It was in media res, but I couldn’t tell how many medias we’d rezzed in until she said what she said in the previous para? I just figured Bill’d been talking about the pissmonster, and the therapist was so taken aback that she decided to get a bit more clarification on what exactly Bill meant by the cyclops that takes a monthly piss on him

“Before we wrap up. What do you want to do about this problem?”

I thought it seemed obvious, but I guess not. “Stop it from happening again?”

“What have you tried so far?” She asks.

“Nothing yet. I figured I would bring it up to you.”

“Again, we don’t have much time. Since we’re pressed, I do have a quick potential solution, and I’m curious why you may have missed it.”

“Oh?” I ask, leaning in towards her.

“Ask your parents to take the trellis down.” I mean yeah. But my dude, trellis still isn’t a situation.

-----

You’d think that I’d remember the night before the first of the month. But I forget. 30 days is a long time. He wakes me again in his similar fashion, taking me by surprise. Yeah, I reckon here is where you spring the haha he’s real and actually wait no haha, this is horrifying - bringing the detail from the opener into this paragraph.

-----

“How have you been?” She asks as I take my seat on the couch.

“Fine,” I say.

There’s silence. I still never really know who is supposed to talk first here. She starts after a moment:

“How’s your problem going?”

“The cyclops thing? I don’t know; it hasn’t gotten better. He came back last night.”

“Did you talk to your parents about taking down the trellis?”

“Not really. I mean, I was going to but I’ve just been really stressed out.” Truth is, it has been stressful at home. I can’t tell what my parents want from me anymore. It’s been hard finding the energy to look for a job and all of my friends seem to be doing better and more exciting things than me. You and Bill haven’t let me in enough to feel sympathetic to his plight. I know he’s in therapy, and these are the things he talks to his therapist about, so I don’t want to be judgy - but I don’t have enough experience with this point of view to know whether I should feel that Bill is a) depressed, and having to deal with a pissmonster on top of all that, or b) in a transitionary period, and aware that he could be doing better, also with a pissmonster problem? Or c) actually lazy, won’t help himself but also with a pissmonster. I feel like I should know by now, too…

“What’s been stressing you out?”

“Well, last session you told me that we should start with the big problem first so that we have time to address it. So, can we talk about the cyclops thing?”

She looks at me for a bit and squeezes her lower lip gently between her teeth. “That’s sort of what I’m doing, Bill.”

“What do you mean?”

I realize now that she’s wearing doubt on her face. “You don’t believe me, do you?”

“It’s not that I don’t believe you. It’s that…”

“You think it’s all in my head? That I’m so crazy that I can just imagine urine all over me.” There are too “I’m so crazy that” you might expect to read here, and you didn’t take the most likely - that Bill’s so crazy that he’s just imagining urine - but instead that he’s so crazy that he can imagine urine all over him? It’s a weird distinction that you’ve forced me to draw, but you forced me to reread the sentence to get what you meant.

“No,” she says as she leans toward me. “It’s not that all.”

“Well, what do you think is going on then?”

“I’d like to help you see what I see, if possible, instead of just telling you.”

I don’t have time for this. My mother pays good money for these sessions. Aha! Here’s the sign that I don’t like Bill. Made me wait a bit though, didn’t you? Bill being a dick doesn’t really need to be a slow reveal, does it?

“Doc, it’s been real.” I stand up and leave.

-----

“Hiya, Bill.”

I open my eyes and see him standing above me.

“Oh, you woke me up first.”

I notice my hands and feet aren’t bound.

“Yes, there’s no need for those.” He seems to know what I’m thinking.

“Why are you here?” I ask.

“You were pretty rude to your therapist, Bill.”

“How do you…”

“It doesn’t matter, Bill. What matters is, I’m going to piss on you. And I’m going to keep on pissing on you until you deal with me.”

“How am I supposed to deal with you?”

He lowers his pants. “Well, therapists are off the table.”

“What then?” I ask.

“I don’t know Bill, but believe me...” I close my eyes as he gets started. “I ain’t happy about this anymore either. It was novel at first, but this isn’t much fun for me anymore.”

“Then why are you doing it?” I yell at him.

“You tell me, buddy. Maybe I’ll be able to stop.”

-----

I wake up and bag my sheets. I’ve been washing them more frequently, but my parents don’t seem to notice. After I throw them in the laundry machine, I go up for breakfast. My parents are already eating.

“Good morning!” My mother offers with a warm smile.

“Morning, guys.” I nod back at them.

Dad looks up from his paper. “So, Bill, I didn’t get a chance to ask you yesterday: what do you think of what we’ve done out front?”

“Out front?” I ask.

“Yeah, we weren’t happy with the remodeling, so we changed up some things, and thank god all of those trellises are gone, what an eyesore am I right?”

“Hold on, what?" I turn on the spot and walk out the front door.

A few paces out into the yard and I can see the house in full. I look toward my window; there’s no trellis leading up to it. Nothing whatsoever between my bedroom and the ground. I guess cyclopes can jump pretty high. Oh, you.

Like, I can almost see your brainstorm machinations. Cyclops.. Cyclops, hmm. One eye. One-eyed. OH RIGHT, DICKS.

I do like that there’s the benefit of the doubt enough there for me to expose my stupidity by telling you what the story was about. If you read it as realism where protag has an out of control imagination the back and forth is just dull - it’s not driven enough to hit ‘frustrating’. If you read it as magic realism, where the pissmonster is something like a grosser version of Pratchett’s Scissor Man, then I just don’t get any closure from it. Either way, I got to the end and you didn’t give me anything meaty. It wasn’t difficult to read, I found the conversation pretty competent, and apart from the restructure I suggested the whole piece hung together fairly well - I’m just not better off for reading it.

Maybe, on second thoughts, your first night visit is a little too, I dunno visceral? for the role that it’s playing. It feels and reads like a night terror, but is played off as an inconvenience. Maybe that’s dulled emotions/reactions, but I’m not sure there’s enough here to buy benefit of the doubt for that?

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016



There were crits here, now there aren't.

steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at Dec 30, 2018 around 02:15

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Thanks UP, solid crits

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


In

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Sitting Here posted:

you are a pack of cigarillos

Ash
462 words

I have two children. I once had five, snug against each other as I held them in the darkness. Now I have two.

Three times they were ripped from me. Three times the earth shook, throwing us violently. Three times I was taken up, up into the light. Three times they...

I have two now. I have two children and all I dream of is fire.

My children cling close to one another inside me, pulled by equal parts gravity, love and fear. Even in the darkness I feel I can count every layer of their being - leaves bound in leaves bound in leaves.

Each is unique. Each is beautiful. Each is doomed. I will hold them while I can, but some day the earth will shake, darkness will break and then... Oh my Gods, that sound. Rushing wind, a stillness that lasts an age and then - a crunching, dragging scrape and followed by that backwards, sucking flare as the fire catches.

I can be, I can fear, and I can love. I can love my children so much with all my heart - but I cannot change fate. I cannot fight fire - but I can hold them, I hold them so close inside me. They are with me and they are loved and right now, right now they are so perfect.

///

I have one child. It is dark, she is alone inside the void her siblings shared with her. I smell ash. Gods be damned, there are no gods here. What god would craft a being just to carry, to hold - to embrace her children and then…

There is her and there is me and all I am is hers. If I could hide her from the world I would, tucked safely inside. She and I and I and she, alone and together in our grief.

When the fire comes - and the fire will come - will it take me as it takes her? What will I be without her? What will I think of alone in the deep, dark stillness? I push the thoughts from my mind, she is here now and she needs me. I will love her, and she will know she is loved.

We sit in the darkness. The cool silence envelops us, and we sleep.

///

The world awakens and roars around us. Other shapes and weights collide against us as the earth shifts and we are cast into light.

Not now. Please, not now. I catch myself willing the world to change. All I want to do is plead with it, beg for it to spare my child. But I know how the world works. No, no I have one role and I will play it.

I love you. I love you and I am here.     

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Sitting Here posted:

the rest of my 321 crits

Thanks for the crits

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


hi there yes i did not enter but i am posting a story on behalf of SurreptitiousMuffin. follows:

Red Letter Day
917 words

Some days are better than others.

Some days, a kid draws a nice dog and you go in with your brush and you real-ise it, and then there’s one more nice dog in the world. I like the ones with spots especially: there’s something classic about a dog with spots. Some folks think it’s boring, but I reckon you’ve gotta appreciate the classics. Sometimes, a thing became a cliche because it meant a danged lot to us, and we used it and used it until it got tired; a cliche is just an idea that comes pre-loved.

Some days, a kid draws a dragon and then quickly learns certain realities vis-a-vis large reptiles living in ninth-floor apartments. I wish I didn’t have to real-ise those, but the system is what it is: I get a chitty from head office, then I take my brushes and I paint on the inner walls of the world until they peel back like the skin from a good tasty orange. Kids don’t tend to draw meany dragons, or at least don’t wish for meany dragons to appear, but still – it’s a pain in the B-U-M for the firemen to get the nice ones out of the house.

This one day though, I got a red chitty I didn’t know what the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks I was meant to be painting. I’d never seen a red chitty before either. It didn’t have a database number, or a location, or a recommended style, it just had one word:

NOTHING

I thought somebody in management was taking the piddle. I’d only heard about red from the other lads. Ultra-high priority, do it quick-smart or find a new job. So I decided to paint nothing, with great urgency. Boy howdy, did I paint nothing. I put nothing on my brush, then I went to the nearest house and I gave the ole’ bristles a good thrashing.

I’m about halfway through painting absolutely nothing when a kid sticks his head out the window. He’s maybe 14 – pushing the limit for this business: Kids get older and they start to draw stuff you don’t want in the world – men with knives and rocket launchers and fanny packs and whatnot.

So the kid says:

“Hey, you’re a painter, right?”

Which was bang on. He was looking dead at me, which means his inner child was still in there somewhere: you get too big and suddenly we just disappear. The brushes re-write the world so there was always a nice dog, and the parents are none the wiser. You get to a certain age and you just forget us, and then your mind fills in the blanks.

“Yep,” I said. “You put in a requisition order?”

“A what?”

“Did you make a wish over a picture?”

“Oh,” he said. “Yeah, kinda. Come on up, I guess.”

The house was a mess. I couldn’t see any parents around, either. That was hardly unusual, but it always made me sad: everybody needs a friend around.

So I come up, and the kid’s sitting over a sketchpad with a bunch of pencils and just looking glumly at it. He nodded at me when I came in.

“Wotcher drawing?” I said.

He shrugged, and pointed at the paper. It was mostly blank, with a few smudges centered around a point in the middle.

“I’m trying to draw myself,” he said, “but I keep getting stuck. It’s like, I don’t know who I am. I can look in the mirror and I see a person but I don’t know who that person is. There’s no like, context to me. I haven’t done anything; I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything. I keep starting to draw, and then erasing myself. What if I’m just nobody, forever?”

“Kid,” I said, “that’s a heck of a lot to unload on a magical elf who paints wishes.”

I regretted saying it. You don’t spill your guts to a stranger like that unless you’ve got absolutely nobody else to talk to. Then it really hit me: the kid had been erasing himself, and I got a chitty to draw nothing. To paint over. Brush brush, gone from history. Made zero. Red chitty too, which meant the kid must’ve been wishing it, and wishing it hard. He was just looking at me and not saying much.

“You know,” I said, “sometimes a blank piece of paper is the best piece of paper.”

“Bullshit,” said the kid.

“It is absolutely not Bullpuckey,” I said, “because it can be anything. Because it could be a spaceman or a firefighter or a ballet dancer or you could fold it into a swan or you could put it on your head like a hat. Every painting starts with a canvas. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere.”

He screwed up his face. “I think I saw that one on my dad’s Facebook, between a golf joke and a Minions meme.”

“Yeah well,” I said, “it’s hokey because it’s true. Because it’s a thing people said and said until the words got tired. Just because it’s tired, doesn’t make it less true.”

He sat down and chewed on the idea for a few moments, then looked over his shoulder at me.

“You’re weird,” he said, then picked up his pencil, “but you’re alright. Thanks Mr Elf.”

“No worries kid,” I said. “Wotcher drawing?”

He shrugged.

“I dunno,” he said, “but it’s something.”

Like I said, some days are better than others.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


In, and flash pls.
Ta

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Antivehicular posted:

it's such a simple machine, she doesn't have to use force

Myoclonic
399 words

Anja had run out of verbs. She stood in the downpour, a thin wet silhouette, neon catching on her hard edges.

People were starting to notice the body at her feet. They were starting to notice and starting to point. Someone would pick it up on the behavioural scanners if it hadn't already been called in.

Some collection of circuit and sinew within had misfired. She tried to plead with the nearest bystander and watched her hand lunge forward in hyperlapse. The stiletto caught the reverse of the world like a slim, dark portal. Then it caught metal, muscle and flesh.

Anja screamed. More accurately, Anja's brain fired a blast of neurons at her vocal chords. Anja didn't even open her mouth, she slashed wildly. The man in front of her fought to shield his face from the angry metal point and stem his leaking gut, failing horribly at both.

Anja ran, related to find her legs cooperate. She dashed blade-first away from the two cooling bodies, followed by shouts but no footsteps.

She studied the knife as she jogged between shadows. The smith had favoured function over form, the handle a canvas-bound afterthought to the dark, narrow blade. The slender neue-steele tapering off to a glinting tip, sparkling with malice and echoes of ionised noble gas.

Anja rounded the corner, and stopped. Three loading docks bullied the lane into a dead-end. Anja’s wrist shot out in front of her as a four letter word crash-landed between brain and mouth. A distant siren grew slowly toward a crescendo. Blues and twos swept light and wind across the rooftops and down into the gunmetal cul-de-sac.

Anja hadn’t paid her legal insurance in a while, so due process was out of the question. Without coverage, two murder counts would be shoot on sight - then an unceremonious dropoff in some forgotten corp-remand.

In the back of one of the docks was a transformer, a beast of a thing. She could hear it humming from metres away, enough juice flowing through it for her to wonder briefly why there was only one paltry lightning bolt ensconced in its yellow triangle.

She looked up at the swirling column of debris and rainwater as the patrol car came into view overhead. She swiped madly at the air instead of shielding her eyes, and looked back at the transformer.

Anja ran. She had one more verb.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


sparksbloom posted:

Judges:
sparksbloom
?????
?????

Let's avoid solo judges happening again.

I'm the second ?????.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Sitting Here posted:

I would judge this flea circus, but apparently my honor is at stake so I don't think I'm impartial. Someone step up!

Fine. I'll do the thing.

Get the other in while I come up with a prompt.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Exmond vs Yoruichi brawl


Alright youse two, I didn't get enough of a SciFi fix out of last week's dome entries. If you're going to defend or besmirch Sitting Here's honour you'll be doing it beneath a steel sky.


Story must be cyberpunk, 900 words or fewer in length and please don’t feature a white dude brooding about the big conspiracy his detectiving has unearthed because there are enough of those already. Given your poo poo talking, rivals or rivalry is your theme.


Due 8pm NZ time this Sunday, which is 11pm Saturday if you're on PST. I'll push it back if need be, but best you both do the writing while you're all worked up.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Exmond posted:

First draft is done, but I found out I have to work over the weekend.

Can I get an extension to Monday 11pm?

Am assuming PST, and yes. Writing fired up but cleaning it up before you make me read it is all I could ask for. Hope you're not sitting on your hands, Yoruichi.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Week 330 Judgeroos

Saucy_Rodent - La Familia Orfeo
My major qualm was a qualm for many of these stories and this wasn't worse - the protagonist wasn’t an actor, but an observer. It could have spent less time describing the machine, as the purpose became obvious long before the descriptions ran out. subtle hints at Carmina's death and family relationship saved it for me.

Sitting Here - Vanity Fatigue
Wasn't enthralled - I thought the characterisation was fantastic, but felt like an extended morality tale about inner beauty without saying much new (also the tech seemed like 6 months off, rather than sci-fi, but that's nit-picking).

Apophenium - The Edge of Gorrin
I really bounced off this. Relationship didn't feel well sketched - legit thought the two characters were brothers for a bit.
First para typos show me you didn’t start proof-reading, at least have the decency to give up halfway through like the rest of us. If I have to read your story, so do you.
There were little things that threw me - I think you should have tried to explain the xylaki earlier than you did. All I got was “living, bleeding” for a considerable time.
I think you had a good idea in your head about what was going on, and who these people were - but I don’t think you explained as much as you needed to.

Ottermotive Insanity - Wants
Assuming you mean “ruddy”, this was another opening para typo. Don’t do this.
I liked the idea behind this story, but I also wanted a workers revolt from it - not concession to the mother. All these stories are about someone accepting the way things are, or worse, not accepting but then being convinced to accept without much argument.

Derp - Lizat
My initial read was generous - but the fast talking wasn't fast enough for this to be a wise stylistic choice. I picked the AA meeting idea early though, so it did work in that sense. I think there was a reasonable effort at world-building, but some clumsiness. Especially "Think of the person you love most, and then think of even more than that” - I get what you were doing, and it fits the voice. I also think it’s lazy as hell, and you’re pulling more cycles from my imagination CPU than you’re entitled to.

Antivehicular - The House on Lindworm Street
Because I really liked this, I didn’t write much. Even though this was my win candidate as soon as I read it, I still was a bit frustrated that your protagonist got on board with passenger week and spent the story on rails - I think there is one decision, and it is to follow Nicole? That said, it was a pleasure to read - your open in particular was fantastic.

Tyrannosaurus - Charm Sellers
I’m not sure the fantasy setting added heaps to this, but I liked the gentle world build and the relationship between brothers. Your dialogue, while I don’t feel equipped to make a call on your stylistic choice of patois, made for a believable patter of conversation between the two. Again though, protagonist has conflict, external force (brother) convinces him it is resolved - not your fault that this irks me, but all of you somehow turned up tonight in the same outfit and it bugged the hell out of me.

Solitair - Me and My Shadow
I think this was the strongest fantasy conceit yet - but you didn't do heaps with it. The ending was competent, but felt twee. I feel like you could have done more with the conflict and Ael’s actions.

Thranguy - Julie in Bloom
I think half your open is great, and the other half is pants. I’d also strongly advocate cutting it entirely and starting with “we stepped out”. It is the open for a space opera, and what you’ve written is barely soap opera.
I mean, yay Julie for using her unwillingness to be tied down by emotional involvement as shorthand for being a happy-go-lucky space scamp ready to ride the space rails wherever they space take her - but ugh, nothing happened, and that nothing happened uninterestingly.
To be honest, I want to know more about the planet’s biology, how things grow - which the genre you rolled into called for, imho.

Djeser - Gnosis kai Khara
I got Dan Simmons vibes from some of the cultural juxtapositions here. Was such a change of pace from the other entries, and a standout. Good job.

Flesnolk - Crimes?
I can’t check my notes against your story, let me know if you want me to read it through again. Happy to do a line by line if it’s helpful. Had you down for a DM and a stern look, rather than a loss - there was some mechanical clunkiness to it, and a rushed ending that held you back a bit.

Open offer
I'll do two in-depth crits for any of the above (or an alternative story of similar length). First in, first served.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Yorxmund brawl judgement

Exmond: Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed!
894 words

The last Akihabara maid droid, G36, watched as customers rushed through the open courtyard towards them. They ran over her fallen co-workers, their combat boots impassively stomping over the other broken maid droids. Just as the maid aimed, SU513 addressed their complaints with a pull of a trigger. Fifty-nine to forty-seven pinged G36’s squad computational unit. Not a bad opening as openings go, but two things threw me here - one, I feel like you say maid droid a lot in the open, to the point where I thought you were doing it for comic effect. Two, I didn’t get that your last sentence was a score straight away. Maybe it was because everyone is numbers already.

G36 formed a fist. She would not lose to an accountant droid, not even to an accountant droid with advanced modules. As long as she had a single volt in her battery cell, this Akihabara maid droid would not lose.

A wave of customer complaintsI guess this is just the world state you’ve given me - but like, why? also this phrasing makes me unsure whether we’re in cyberspace, or this is a clumsy metaphor? came their way, and her maid protocol advised her to offer a smile. As her lips turned upwards, her combat protocols activated, making her fling herself behind a pillar. Dust and plaster fell all around the pair.this para is exclusively about the maid, “pair” doesn’t work here - think about your blocking.

SU513’Susie’ works, but does this mean the maid’s name is Geb? crouched beside the pillar, listening intently as a high pitched whine came closer to the maid cafe. G36 ruffled out the dust from her skirts, and seeing her rival distracted she peeked out to get a few shots. A quick pull of the trigger and she delivered 7.62mmWell, actually, a G36 fires 5.56mm - that said naming someone who is doing shooting the same name as a gun that does shooting in an action-oriented story adds unnecessary mental labour customer satisfaction. A few screams from customers and the score updated: fifty-nine to fifty. this was the way to introduce your scoring - use “pinged… squad computation unit” once it’s established.

“Get down!” SU513 screamed and pushed G36 to the ground. The whine intensified, ended with a large boom and the ground exploded a few yards away from them. The pillar shook, and shrapnel slammed against the droid’s ”whoa! here comes an ‘s’” wasn’t the right rule to apply here metal bodies.

G36 was aghast, no amount of ruffling could fix her skirts now. As another wave of customers came towards them, G36 came out of cover, aimed her gun and beamed at them. A few minutes later the score was fifty-nine to fifty-two and G36 looked quizzically down at the accountant droid.

SU513’s eyes glowed green as petabytes of information crawled across them. Another holo-call with central, G36 thought enviously. A moment later SU513 looked up at G36, simu-tears flowing down from her eyes. “The main army is in full retreat. Civilian models instructed to stand their ground,”

G36 nodded. Good, fewer people to share customers with.

“Do you lack the computational units to understand?” SU513 looked her in the eyes, searching for something, and threw her hands up in frustration. “Of course you do comma they had to core most of your functions out. Orochi is leaving us to die!”

More complaints came their way, and G36 ducked behind the pillar. The accountant wrapped her hands around her knees and started rocking back and forth. “I'm in my office, I'm balancing the quarterly budget. I'm in my office,” SU513 kept saying.

Combat protocols warred with maid protocol seven: Assist your coworker. SU513 was her coworker, wasn’t she? A better performing coworker, but a coworker never the less. G36 fired a few more shots to let the customers know she was busy and ignored her combat protocols. She was a maid droid first, refit civilian combat droid second.

“SU513, I know you’re scared, and that’s okay. Customers can be scary.” G36 wanted to whisper, but an annoying whistling sound required her to increase her voice modulators volume.

“When I get scared, I think back to when I was just a simple Orochi maid droid serving simple egg omelets.”

The shocked look SU513 was giving her wasn’t the expected output her motivational module expected, but she continued.

“I know one day, this corporation war is going to end, and we can serve eggs instead of hot lead. And when my favourite customer, $MEM_NOT_FOUND comes back, I’m gonna make him the best egg omelet. But I have to stay here, to make Orochi proud. To be a true Orochi maid!”

The accountant stared at her, “You don’t understan-”

“I don’t understand a lot of things that you do. I don’t understand logistics, artillery calculations or balancing a budget.” G36’s motivational module whirred into overdrive, and she put a big smile on he face. “But I do understand that you made me better. Without you there to show me what a real droid can do, I wouldn’t have been half the combat droid I am today!”

Pulling out her last grenade, G36 placed it into SU513’s hands and clasped them together. “Let’s go satisfy those customers.”

The accountant looked up at her, simu-tears streaming down her face and despair in her eyes.
“You really don’t understand,” SU513 said and then started laughing. A loud, desperate laugh that was louder than the approaching whistling.

And then the whistling sound stopped, and the droids were engulfed in a wave of fire.

=+=

Soldiers were scavenging supplies from the crater the artillery shell had left. They walked like zombies, the days fighting had been long and hard.

“loving droids,” one of them said, emptying his clip into one the carcasses.

His companion looked down at the other droid. “God, this one is even dressed as a maid.”

SU513’s charred shell slumped over G36’s body, the two droids still grasping hands together. The rest of the unit gathered by the ruined droids and one of the soldiers kicked G36. The maid's body emitted a small spark.

“Hey Charlie, get over here. Might be able to salvage this one, get some intel!”

G36’s eyes opened, and she counted eight customers gathered around her. With her last volt in her battery cell, G36 lifted the pin off of her grenade and smiled. Fifty-nine to sixty

Thanks for kicking this in with a tight deadline, you’re a good sport. Overall, there’s a clunkiness to it that prevents the story building the sort of kineticism that it needs - there’s a lot of action covered, but it’s a little stop-start or even perfunctory. Think about sentences like “As another wave of customers came towards them, G36 came out of cover, aimed her gun and beamed at them”. What does it look like? What’s the most badass way to write that? What happens to the shells from the gun? What does G36 look like through the gunsmoke?

Another thing holding this back was the “customer” and “complaints” metaphor/euphemism. It’s cute, but it actually masked what was going on at times in an unhelpful way.


Yoru: Between the Salt and the Sky
895 words

Yan was closing the distance with Tamanth; close enough to feel the salt spray from her tyres rattle against herthis “her” is different from the one you just used. don’t do that. It’s a good open, so don’t make me stop and think faithful Ducati’s windshield. They were well ahead of the rest of the pack. Yan’s enmeshed senses fed her information directly from her bike; she could feel the traction of the tyres as if her own feet gripped the hot salt. She had an iridescent silver body and she was flying. She gunned the engine and the rush of fuel was like the sweetest hit she’d ever felt.

Yan remembered the first time she’d raced Tamanth; the thrill of defeating another prodigious talent, the excitement of finding her in the crowd at the post-race meet, and all that came after. She felt a surge of regret at the gulf that had grown between them.

Something about the way Tamanth was riding was wrong. With a twitch of her cheek muscle Yan brought up her retinal display. She felt a spike of fear as she picked up a visually-imperceptible wobblestylistically, I don’t feel like I’m flying down the highway if I’m mumbling my way through the phrase “visually-imperceptible wobble”. Add some punch, mix up your sentence lengths. shivering through Tamanth’s bright green Kawasaki.

Suddenly she was back there, three years ago. Yan remembered how that subtle shiver had grown into a fishtail that her exhausted mind this feels like a clumsy phrase couldn’t control. An unnoticedthis feels redundant flaw in the hard-packed surface had sent her bike spinning into the air and Yan tumbling, screaming, into darkness.

Tamanth had been the first one there, when she’d come to, broken, on the blood-washed salt.see this is good use of adjectives Tamanth had stayed with her, held her hand, tight, when they told her about her leg. Tamanth had cared for her while she adjusted to her new limb; had even offered to pay for synth-skin. Yan refused to get it covered, insisting she didn’t want to pretend. She’d hosed up and crashed, and now she had a metal leg; end of story.

Tamanth had sobbed when Yan refused to make her stay in Tamanth’s apartment permanent. Yan told her she couldn’t stand it under the dome, that the unearned comfort of the enclosed city made her constantly restless. What she hadn’t - couldn’t - say was that she feared Tamanth’s soft touch on her broken flesh. Tamanth’s hands running down her belly and over her buttocks. Tamanth’s hands on the ugly ridge of scar tissue where ‘Yan’ joined ‘Yan’s leg.’ nice characterisation hereTamanth would stroke her there like it was nothing, like it was normal, and Yan couldn’t stand it.

So Yan had fled to her trailer on the salt flats, cocooned herself in this desolate, defiant landscape that remained exactly as it had always been.

The syncopated vibrations of Tamanth’s bike were getting worse.

Yan opened a private channel - technically illegal during a race - and yelled at Tamanth to slow down, but the the connection crackled and dropped. all these cybers and we’re still foiled by radios, huh?

poo poo, she thought. Through her retinal display she could see the intricate circuitry that traced through Tamanth’s body pulsing like a living tattoo.

Their first real fight had been about Tamanth’s augments. She always wanted the latest kit, anything to get an edge. Yan had been horrified to feel the hard ridges of a freshly implanted interface nestled in Tamanth’s palm. Tamanth had shouted through angry tears that she’d done it all for Yan, all so Yan would respect her.

Yan yanked herself from her bike’s sensory web. Suddenly she was back in her own, lopsided body, guiding the bike with nothing but the feel of her sweaty palms on the shaking handles. She flipped open her visor. Hot exhaust blasted her face.

“Tamanth!”

Without her retinal overlay Yan could see that Tamanth’s suit was soaked with sweat. She was lying low over her handlebars. Tamanth’s head dipped, then snapped back up. A shudder ran through her bike and her head lolled - ok, so why are they exhausted? Is this future le mans? Because that’s unclear..

“TAMANTH!” Yan screamed.

Tamanth’s body slumped sideways and her bike disappeared from underneath her. Tamanth’s body slid like a ragdoll on ice, limbs wrapping around her body as she rolled.

Yan’s tyres sprayed salt as she skidded to a stop. Tamanth wasn’t breathing. Yan knew she had life-preserving augments but her system hadn’t rebooted. Help was on the far side of the track; they wouldn’t make it in time. No, no, no! she thought. Yan’s hands shook as she pulled off Tamanth’s glove and felt the ridges in her palm. She had no matching connectors on her bike, and Tamanth’s was too far away. Desperate, Yan yanked off her boot. She braced herself for the wave of synthetic pain and smashed the hard heel down on her articulated toes. She screamed but the casing broke.

Using the sharp metal edge Yan cut the skin of Tamanth’s palm and exposed the circuitry below. With gritted teeth she hooked the interface directly into the panel in her artificial thigh and let her own emergency response system take over.

The endless white salt disappeared and Yan floated in darkness. She felt a wave of relief as she heard the faint knock of Tamath’s heart. Then Tamanth’s body heaved and sucked in a desperate, blessed breath, and Yan was snapped back into the sunlight.

Tamanth lay panting against Yan’s side. Blood from her cut palm made a rorschach pattern on the salt. Yan thought of Tamanth sleeping, her dark curls spread across her pillow in the morning sun.

Above Yan the white-blue sky seemed too huge, too empty, for one person alone. She took Tamanth’s other hand in hers, and held it, tight.

You dug into a different aspect of rivals here, and managed to set the story in a clearer context than Exmond’s.

Both stories struggled to convey their frenetic nature through style, but Yoru’s had better turn-of-phrase and made me care more about the characters - and therefore the outcome of the story.

Yoruichi wins

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Two thoughts:
1) the weekly deadline suits me just fine. As pointed out above, if you extend it all you extend is my procrastination.
2) it feels like the weekly wordcount average had been growing (posited without using the data available in the archives to back it up). I'm down to write 800 words or fewer, I'm not so much for 1000+.

I'm a parent with a full-time job, though, and this is an outlet rather than a means to make me a better writer - I'm not here to hone my craft and eventually write a novel, I'm here to write a story on my train ride home and marvel at how coherent it is. Read my comments in that context.

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steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Thunderdome 2019teen: not-so-flash fiction

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