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Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Thank you for the crit CantDecideOnAName

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Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

I'm definitely not entering Thunderdome this week I want to take a break before I have to go back to work on Monday ooooh "time travel" I've got an idea for that IN oh god what have I done

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Time, Fast and Slow
1559 words


It was a warm summer night when Liam first met Yvette. She sat at a corner table in the tavern where he worked, alone, travel bag at her feet. She watched the other drinkers warily, eyes hidden by a waterfall of raven black hair. Liam immediately wanted to talk to her, but Gerald stopped him, saying she was a witch, dangerous, and best left alone until she moved onto the next village.

After the tavern closed Liam made his way home under a sky blanketed with stars. A lone figure stood on the stone bridge over the river that bisected the village, black hair shining in the moonlight.

“My name’s Liam,” he said, extending his hand. She raised her eyebrows in surprise, two sharp arches over dark eyes.

“Didn’t they warn you not to talk to me?” she said. “I’m a witch.”

“I think you’re beautiful,” he replied.

She hesitated, but there was no trace of guile in his boyish face. “Yvette,” she said, accepting the offer of his outstretched hand.

The few days Yvette had planned to stay in the village stretched into weeks under the hot summer sun. Liam never asked where she was from or where she was going, happy just to be with her. He never noticed the sideways glances from the other villagers or the cruel comments whispered behind hands.

For once, for a moment, Yvette was happy. But she knew that, just as summer’s peaceful days would give way to Autumn’s cold nights, such a perfect moment in time couldn’t last. Soon enough Liam’s youthful affection would wane, or someone would fall sick and the villagers would blame her, or some other calamity would occur, and she would, as always, have to leave.

Liam was late home on the night he planned to propose to Yvette. He went to collect the ring he had had made for her, and the congratulatory glass of mead the smith pressed upon him quickly turned into another, then another.

The moon was up by the time he arrived home, in high spirits. Yvette was sitting on the threshold of their hut, crying. She was holding a crumpled letter, the ink running where her tears had soaked the paper.

“My grandmother is dying,” she said. “I must leave, tonight. I have been waiting for you for hours, where have you been?”

Liam’s head was swimming from the mead. He fingered the ring in his pocket. “You can’t leave, I need you here!” he said. He realised, as if waking from a dream, that he didn’t even know she had a grandmother.

“Curse you Liam,” Yvette said, her voice hard with anger even as tears rolled down her cheeks. “You think that time flows at your own pace, well it doesn’t, and it won’t wait for me, or for you.” She stood abruptly, swinging her travelling bag, already packed and waiting by her feet, onto her back.

“Wait!” he cried, as she strode off down the path away from the village.

Liam ran after her, but, impossibly, she was already far ahead. She was only walking but no matter how fast he ran she was always moving faster, the distance between them growing. Liam’s rapid breaths sounded loud and slow in his ears, and his legs wouldn’t move right, as if he were wading through deep mud. He could see the moon moving across the sky, much faster than it should, the stars blurring as if they had all turned into comets. He watched, helpless, as Yvette disappeared into the forest beyond the village’s fields.

***

“She cursed me you know,” muttered Liam into his mead. He was drinking with his friend Alfie in Gerald’s tavern, wasting the last of his coins. “It’s like time is working against me, the more I hurry the faster it goes, that’s why I’m always late.”

Alfie rolled his eyes. Liam had been like this ever since Yvette left. All autumn he’d been late for work, until Gerald eventually fired him. Alfie and his other friends had tried to help Liam out with odd jobs, but he never finished anything on time, despite his protestations that he was working as fast as he could. Now, with winter upon them, the villagers’ patience was wearing thin.

“I have to find Yvette,” Liam insisted. “Tell her I’m sorry. Make her lift this curse.”

“Sounds like you’re looking for a witch,” said a lone traveller, leaning over from the neighbouring table.

“Yes!” Liam replied.

“I know where one lives. Buy me a round and I’ll tell you how to get there,” the traveller said. Liam pulled out the last of his coins as Alfie shook his head and moved away.

“I passed through a village with a witch a few weeks ago, to the east of here. There were all sorts of stories about her, and they said she would only see people on the first day after a full moon,” the traveller said, settling down to enjoy his ale.

Liam knew it was foolish to set out during the winter, but with a chance to find Yvette he refused to wait. Besides, with no work and no coin, he had few options.

***

Liam lined up a small deer with his bow. Carefully, carefully he drew back the string. drat, he thought, as the arrow hit the deer’s shoulder blade. He jumped up from his hiding place, desperate to reach the wounded animal before it recovered from the shock and bolted. As he leapt forward the snowflakes, which had been drifting leisurely down, started rushing towards the ground. Liam ran, but the deer moved impossibly fast, disappearing between the trees before he could get anywhere near it. The snowflakes resumed their leisurely pace as he sank onto his hands and knees in the snow.

Liam was starving. For weeks he had walked from village to village, following the traveller’s directions, begging scraps to eat and sheltered places to sleep. He finally saw the witch’s village late one afternoon, a snowstorm snapping at his heels, and he hurried to reach the village before the storm arrived. But time sped up with him, the sun rushing to set and the storm blowing in unnaturally fast, and it was late at night by the time he stumbled into the village’s inn, frozen and exhausted.

“I need to see the witch,” Liam gasped to the innkeep.

The innkeep looked with pitty at the shivering boy before him. “Tonight’s the full moon, so she’ll see you tomorrow, although I don’t know what you could possibly want with that old hag.”

“Old?” said Liam. “Is she not a young woman, about my age?”

“Lad she was ancient when I was a boy, she could be a hundred years old by now. But come, warm yourself. I can see you’ve not got a penny on you but you can sleep there, by the fire.”

Liam lay on the hard flagstones, grateful to be inside. He dreamed of Yvette, running ahead of him down a path, black hair flying out behind her. He was reaching out, could almost touch her, but she was too far away, always too far away, and his fingers closed on empty air.

***

At dawn Liam began his slow walk up to the witch’s house in the woods outside the village, determined not to let the curse make him late. The melting snow turned the path into deep mud which dragged at his feet, and the sun was starting to sink by the time the humble wooden building came into view between the trees.

Liam knocked on the door, tentatively first, then, when there was no answer, pounding on it, yelling in frustration. The house was empty. Was he too late? Dammit, he thought, it’s not fair, the sun is still up, surely he had gotten here in time?

Liam sat down in the clearing beside the house, leaning his back against the trunk of a tree. He tipped his head back and gazed up between the branches, dotted with the first green buds of spring. The evening sun was warm on his face, and small birds swooped through the clearing, chasing insects.

He had nowhere to go and no idea how to find Yvette. He was starving and filthy. But for the moment, in this moment, that didn’t matter. He simply sat, enjoying the warmth of the sun. Everything slowed. He could see each individual flap of the birds’ wings as they swam lazily through the air in front of him, their black eyes focussed on their tiny buzzing prey.

From behind the house came the sound of women’s voices, startling him. The birds swooped away between the trees.

Yvette rounded the corner of the house, arm in arm with an elderly woman.

“Liam!” she cried, running over to him. “How… Why are you here?”

“I’m sorry I never asked about your grandmother,” said Liam, tears making tracks through the dirt on his face.

Yvette let out a deep sigh and sat down next to him, gently leaning her shoulder against his. The sun’s descent towards the horizon slowed, and the golden light that bathed the clearing remained still. Insects flew dreamily past, as if drifting on the slow moving air. Yvette and Liam sat talking, heads close together, like they had all the time in the world.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Thank you for crits

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Sitting Here posted:

Let's get some more meat in the arena, all this namby-pamby thank you talk is nice but don't forget we're here for blood

Oooh so the Empress would like to see some blood would she? Would the Empress like to sit on her throne and watch some newbies flail horribly at each other for her amusement, hmmm?

gently caress that, I will fight you. There will be blood.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Sham bam bamina! posted:

No more than 1,250 words by the end of the 20th. For the purposes of this brawl, the 21st begins at midnight Pacific.

Yoruichi has recently acquired a Thunderdome-themed avatar. Sitting Here has had one for quite some time herself. For this story, I want a confrontation between the women in these two images. Interpret this as liberally as you see fit.

sebmojo posted:

On brawling, by Sebmojo:

don't step up to judge a brawl unless you've at least got an HM or the participants have asked you to

https://forums.somethingawful.com/s...6#post479874938

Ummm...

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Ok

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Sitting Here posted:


interprompt:


The man, who Caterpillar trusted because he smelt of the dirt of the open steppe, fell suddenly from his back. Caterpillar bolted away, clearing the edge of the battlefield and only stopping once he was surrounded by a sea of golden grass.

He flared his nostrils, swinging his head around, but his nose was still filled with the stench of death and he could find no scent of other horses on the wind. He whinnied, but there was no responding cry.

A yell and a clanging of metal from behind him made him spin around in fright. The man who he trusted and another, who had arisen from amongst the corpses, were fighting. The man knocked his opponent to the ground and the long stick he was holding flashed in the morning sunlight as he swung it down, again and again.

I wonder why they do that, thought Caterpillar, as he lowered his head to graze.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Sitting Here Brawl Entry

Monsters

1219 words


The monster’s claws slam into the trunk beneath me as I grab desperately at the lowest branch, hauling myself out of its reach. Sparks flash at the junctures in the circuitry that winds along its back around the stubs of its almost-wings. I can see its muscles twitch in pain with each spark. If it wasn’t trying to kill me I’d feel sorry for it; the terrible offspring of an ancient, disastrous mistake.

I scrabble with my legs, trying to get myself on top of the branch so I can climb to a safer perch, but the moss-covered bark is damp and slippery, and I can’t get a decent hold. The muscles in my forearms burn. The beast below me growls, a terrible, pitiful yowling.

Do you want me to save you? says a voice, reverberating out of the humid air. I feel the serpentine mark on my palm start to writhe.

I grit my teeth and adjust my failing grip on the branch, shake my head. I won’t go to her, I think, tears welling behind my eyes. She can’t have me.

More of them are coming, the voice says. The monster’s yellow eyes fixed on mine. I can’t hold them much longer.

“No!” I yell at the forest, as the wet bark beneath my trembling fingers gives way and I drop like dead meat towards the beast’s waiting jaw. The forest floor smacks into the back of my head and I see bright white, then, darkness.

***

“I won’t let her have you,” Liam said when I showed him the mark, chest swollen with imagined bravery. It’s raised and red, like a fresh scar, snaking across my palm and crossing out my own life line, over and over. I was crying, tears splashing onto my palm as I cradled my hand against my chest. Liam put his arms around me, kissed the top of my head.

“You should run away. Maybe, if she can’t find you, she’ll choose someone else.” Foolish boy, I thought, even as I buried my face in his sweet chest and willed myself to believe his words. Fresh vessels for the forest’s Guardian have always been chosen from my family’s female line; a great honour for my family and our village. I have lived, ever since I was a little girl, with the deep rooted fear that one day she might come for me.

“I love you,” I told him, and he kissed me, for the last time.

***

I open my eyes in darkness. My head aches.

She is there, bending over me. Her skin is pale, almost grey. Her heavily lidded eyes are ringed with dark circles and her lips are blue, like she’s freezing cold. She’s holding my wrist, gently uncurling my fingers which hide the mark on my palm.

“Let me go!” I say, jerking my hand away. But her grip is strong, black fingernails digging into my skin.

I am dying, her voice says, seeming to come from inside my head. Stop being such a loving coward.

I struggle to get up, but she is stronger than me. Gripping my wrist she presses her other hand against mine, palm to palm, intertwining our fingers like lovers.

The mark burns like fire ants biting my skin and I scream and thrash against her. Suddenly I am watching us from a hundred pairs of eyes, two women, young and old, wrestling under the spreading branches. I can feel their bodies, a painful melding of muscles and metal. Some huge, armoured with claws and teeth, others tiny, skittering unseen along branches. So many, and more coming.

And I can feel her, the Guardian, like a spider at the center of a web, holding tightly to the gossamer threads that run through the forest, wiring them together. Her consciousness extends further than my mind can comprehend, a network of ears and eyes and bones and claws woven through the forest. The tiny remaining islands of human habitation are like dark spots in my vision, cut off from the network.

One such island is my village. I catch glimpses of familiar faces, illuminated by torchlight, through the eyes of the beasts that are prowling in the darkness outside the rough timber fence. I see men and women gathering their bows. Liam is there, a boy trying to look like a man. But there are so many of the monsters. I feel their hunger, their impulse to attack growing stronger as the Guardian’s grip weakens.

They’re all going to die! I think. With a gasp of effort I wrench my mind away like an insect ripping itself free from a web, leaving broken strands drifting behind me.
Nausea rocks me and the world spins but I am back looking at the Guardian out of my own eyes. She looks frail, diminished.

“Let me go!” I scream. “I have to warn them!”

No! her voice crashes like symbols inside my head. I cannot control them for much longer!.

I shove her, hard, and as she stumbles backwards I yank my hand from hers, tearing our palms apart. Anger and anguish flash across her face as I turn and sprint towards home.

***

Screaming and the smell of blood crashes over me like a wave as I run into the wide clearing around the village gate. There are beasts everywhere, malformed bodies lit by sharp sparks that cast monstrous shadows in the darkness. People are fighting them as best they can with bows and makeshift weapons, but there are too many.

The feedback of shared pain screeches up and down my skin as weapons hack and slash and blood flows. Ignoring it I yank my bow from my back and release an arrow into the sweat-slick flank of one of the dark shapes. White hot pain sears between my ribs as the beast drops dead. I grab my side but there is nothing there.

Stumbling forward I see Liam pinned beneath the claws of a bear-shaped mass, beating desperately at it with his fists.

Stop them! Please! The thought reverberates out of and into my head and I can’t tell if it’s me or her that’s screaming. I can feel connections breaking loose from the web, the spider cannot weave them back together fast enough. I grab at the loose threads, frantic to pull the beasts back and away from the men and women who are trapped with their backs to the wall around the village, torchlight reflecting off the whites of their eyes and teeth and sweat-slicked faces.

I see the bear-thing’s huge paw ready to come crashing down on Liam’s tightly shut eyes and face turned away in final anticipation and I scream STOP. And they do.

My mind unfurls, rolling out into the forest network like a river emptying into the sea, irreversible. I sink beneath the green waves, leaving behind the whoops from the people, alive, safe, on their island.

I look down at Liam. I love you, I think, but all I hear is a terrible, pitiful yowl. Liam looks at me with horror. I sit back on my haunches, and he scrambles to his feet and runs from me, leaving me alone with the forest.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Sham bam bamina! posted:

Face Your Enemy brawl results

Thanks for judging Sham Bam. Sitting Here: 'twas a worthy blade indeed, but, for now, I live.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

sebmojo posted:

Interprompt: write a story about this in 200 words

Mosebjo lay on his back looking up at the ocean of stars that stretched from one horizon to the other. The only sound was that of Caterpillar cropping the grass nearby and the gentle wind whispering through the nodding seed heads.

Soon he would be home. He pictured his triumphant return; the only warrior to have survived a great battle. Rose, the most beautiful woman in the whole vast steppe, would surely throw herself at him now. His manhood saluted the stars at the thought.

Son, it’s time we had a talk about the changes your body is going through, said his father’s ghost, shimmering out of the darkness.

“Da, I know I was but a lad when you died but I’m a grown man now! I have defeated my enemies and feasted on their brains and things. I have avenged you many times over, you are free now to go and rest!” Mosebjo whined in response.

I know you’re experiencing some thoughts that you might find confusing, the ghost continued, oblivious.

Mosebjo’s manhood retreated back inside his body to hide as his father’s ghost launched into his Puberty Talk, again.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

In and nothing else, I’ll take my chances with 777 words

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Chili posted:

And finally, it might be fun to share some of the stories you got from your santa.

Here's the story I got from Jay W. Friks for Christmas. I enjoyed it so I thought I'd share it. Thanks Jay! Thanks Chilli for organising!

That time of the year
By Jay W. Friks


My uncle Gerard was a weird dude, it was 2017 and he still went on about the commies being a menace,
unironically mind you. Despite his overwhelming obsession with “the reds”, which DID bleed over into
every familial event he was invited too, me and the rest of the family always welcomed him.

We could have had an uncle who was racist or sexist or homophobic so his 1950’s viewpoints on
international politics is not a big deal compared to certain other relatives. Gerard was mostly a pretty cool
dude, he didn’t even bat an eye when I said I was getting married to Leslie. While my parents scrunched
up their faces when they found out my Lesbianism wasn’t a “phase”, Uncle Gerard instead asked, “Is that
the one that owns that bakery?”

“Yes, Gerry.”

“Good. You need someone with their own business. A little American entrepreneurship is a perfect
climate to raise a family in.”

It was weird he said that because Monique, my wife, was already talking about adopting a kid. I gave him
a hug and he clapped my back with his corroded hands like we were both in the mafia and haven’t seen
each other in a long time.

You see, Uncle Gerard was the kind of Uncle you called “endearingly eccentric”, he ranted and he raved
but he did it with such creativity (especially when he was drunk) that he was very entertaining to listen too
PLUS he was crazy enough that no one below the age of 5 would buy into his crazy stories. I mean, it’s a
guilty pleasure for me and Leslie to listen to him make up poo poo like “Cuban miners made a secret hole to
Florida to spike the water supply with commie nano bots”, or “China has a satellite in space that puts
dreams in our heads that you're being rescued from a burning building by Mao Tse Tung.”

This year, it was a smaller family get-together. My dad had to stay in New York to look after Mom who’d
slipped on some ice and broke her shin. They called a couple weeks before and acted like it was the
worst thing they’d ever done to me. I told Dad to chill out and make sure Mom didn’t mix painkillers and
alcohol and that’d we were going to New York on New Years anyway so we could visit them then.

It was me, Leslie, her brother TJ, Miles: our son, and Uncle Gerard who showed up dressed like he was
an extra in “It’s a Good Life”. Seriously, he had the shabby fedora, woolen long coat, tie and suit in muted
colors. I always imagined people wore the lowest frequency of bright colors in the old black and white
movies and Gerard made me think that might be true. Uncle Gerard always looked like he took his clothes
to the dry cleaners, they were never stained or fraying. It was another weird quirk for a man who could be
mistaken for a mobile golem of stubble.

He hugged me and Leslie (the same mob boss clap on the back for both of us) and messed up Miles hair
lovingly while somehow slipping him a peppermint patty to gnaw on before dinner.

“What we having tonight Cherise? Some of that pineapple ham?”

I shook my head, embarrassed someone remembered my lovely attempt at copying the picture on the
betty crocker book that came with the house.

“No Gerry. Leslie brought some meat pies from work and than…”

I looked at her, fumbling for the word.

“Sushki!” She said spritely.

Uncle Gerard furrowed his brow and removed his hat. He draped his coat over the coatrack we brought
out just for him (he seemed to lose a sense of his surroundings if there wasn’t a standing rack for him to
use) than headed into the kitchen.

Leslie followed him, worried he might be mad that she had chosen something Russian for dessert, I had
warned her but she was set on those little sweet bagel things. Personally, I thought they were bland as
hell but she had fun making them. I chatted up Leslie’s brother who was watching the “Christmas Story”
marathon and taking a shot every time the main kid in it had an inner monologue. He was already pretty
drunk and I was trying to get him to sober up for dinner.

Gerard joined us, one of the Sushki’s in his hand and the half bottle of whiskey he’d left here on
Thanksgiving. Gerard was munching on it praising Leslie,

“This. This is what I’m talking about. You’ve shown those Ruskies at their own game, making Sushki's the
AMERICAN way. And how does it taste?”

He took a bite and let it swim in his mouth.

“Waaay better. That’s for sure.”

Leslie seemed pleased by that and chatted Gerard up about his life in Hawaii. He grumbled about the
drug problems which was a rare form of modern issue that Gerard actually paid attention too. Of course,
he looped its origins to heroin being dropped off by North Korean messenger pigeons. I questioned him if
North Korea was actually communist (this was more tongue in cheek than serious conversation), he said

“If it’s got censorship over sensibility, they're commies!”

Leslie’s brother chortled at that. I smelled the meat pies percolating and reminded Leslie to check on
them. While she did that I told some lame pun jokes to Gerard and gave Miles a stern glare when he was
feeling up the gifts under the tree.

“Dinner’s ready! Come and get it.” Leslie said.

One of the things I loved about her is that when she called for dinner it sounded like she was right in the
room with you. You turn to look and she’s not there. Like she just teleported in and popped back out just
to get you to the table. It was a weird thing to like about someone but I think the best families are like that,
everyone's got quirks and habits but you're in just the right kind of company that they're endearing instead
of annoying.

We sat down and immediately started chowing down. Miles poked at a pearl onion like it was a snail on
his plate and I reminded him that it was just a baby onion.

“A baby? That’s mean. I can’t eat a baby.” He said.

TJ picked one up from the plate and listened it to it. “It says it likes to be eaten though. And you’re making
it sad by not doing it.”

Our six year old looked into the corner of the room as if sobriety had breached his mind.

“Oh…”

He started eating again. I laughed my rear end off at that. Gerard finished off his whiskey about the same time
he finished off the pie. He looked over at Miles who was folding his napkin into something only a kid could
recognize.

“Say...I ever told you all about the Russian Santa Claus?”

Miles focused on him, forgetting about the napkin. He loved Gerard's stories. Me and Leslie watched him,
feeling parental satisfaction. TJ giggled as if he’d already heard the story.

“It goes like this kiddo. There was an evil king named Josef Stalin. He didn’t want his former allies-friends
to get any good presents so he made his own Santa Claus.”

“His own?” Miles asked.

“Yep. But it was a fake. A copy. Someone who would help the commies-uh-bad guys get presents instead
of the good guys.”

Miles was enraptured, his eyes got that glow that only the truly youthful have.

I watched this unfold once again and thought how Christmas used to feel to me, meaningless gift
grabbing and being forced into a tight space with people you didn’t like. My uncle Gerard was telling
stories because he knew they were fun to listen too. He never says that, but I think that’s how it is.

Watching him thread a tale for my spellbound son made me appreciate the people in the room and
Yuletide, Christmas, Hanukkah, THAT TIME OF YEAR.-whatever.

“His name was STALIN CLAUS. He had robot reindeer made from moldy old soup cans and a sled that
was all red but no green.”

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Inspired by Kaishai's epic crit catch up post, I went to the 0-crits list in the archive and randomly picked two uncritted stories by people who are still here. So, for what they're worth, here are my thoughts on Crabrock's Belonging and CantDecideOnAName's Infection.

Belonging
https://forums.somethingawful.com/s...8#post473046797

Why doesn't this have any paragraph breaks Crabrock, you maniac?

While the first part sounded just a wee bit too much like a metaphor for a boner, once the story settles in it has something meaningful to say about the arch of long-term relationships, deeply committed to the point of dysfunction. Through the middle section the mountain seems to realise that their love is destructive, yet it made the mountain feel whole to start with and they were together at their end. I like that it is left ambiguous as to whether this relationship was positive or negative overall.

The more I looked at this story the more I found to think about and the more I liked it. With some paragraphs and an edit this could have been great, but as it is it's just a bit too hard to get into.

I note that the prompt offered long-term relationships and fungus as options, so well done on using both of these.


Infection
https://forums.somethingawful.com/s...2#post422147818

This is cool but there's not quite enough to it. The background world and characters are interesting, and the writing is good, but it's like an interlude between the more interesting parts of the tale - i.e. how they escaped and what happens to our hero next. There's also something not quite right about the fact that they first threaten to kill him but then agree to take him away alive - I wasn't clear on the reason for this switch.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Hell Hath No Fury
764 words


Lightning Jack’s expert fingers caressed the lock like the small of his latest lover’s back and it slid open as easily as the straps falling from her shoulders. Tucking his lockpicks back inside the cuffs of his suit jacket and rolling his eyes at the simplicity of evading the hotel security he slipped into the penthouse suite, silent as a ghost.

His guts had writhed like a pit of snakes when the rumour was first whispered into his ear. A giant ruby, as big as your fist, visiting town along with its mysterious billionaire owner. Surely it couldn’t be that ruby, he’d told himself. He’d lost his partner and barely escaped with his life trying to liberate that legendary gem from the vampire’s castle. But what if, somehow, someone else had gotten to it… Sleep became impossible; he had to know.

Two toughs flanked the bedroom door, ill-fitting suits and steroid-jacked muscles out of place in the cooly luxurious white-leathered suite. Jack crouched cat-like in the shadow of the entrance hallway. Lightning fast he sprang across the room into the space between the two men and arms outstretched like a cross plunged a loaded hypodermic into each thick neck. He spun the syringes cowboy-style around his fingers as the guards with their half-raised guns crumpled onto the pristine white carpet.

The bedroom was dimly lit by the glow of city lights filtering through the rich red curtains. From the bed he could hear the soft sighs of a woman sleeping. Pleasing curves were outlined by red silk sheets and lustrous black hair fanned out around her head like thick kelp waving under a blood red sunset.

He took in the rest of the room. Diamonds glittered like ice on the nightstand and priceless paintings hung on the walls. And there, in the center of the room, on a pedestal at head height, sat Ikmael, the vampire’s prize. Jack stared into the ruby’s depths, where swirling blood seemed to pulse in time with his own rapid heartbeat. He stretched out his hands towards it, fingers trembling with lust.

A bullet kissed his ear leaving a smear of blood like lipstick and smashed out through the window on the far wall. Jack dropped and spun just in time to see the woman leaping from the bed, the hem of her black negligee flapping against her perfect thighs, a revolver in her hand and a murderous look on her face.

“Camilla!” he said, raising his arms to cover his face. Her flying knee hit his crossed forearms, smacking him back onto the plush carpet as she landed astride his chest.

“Why didn’t you call?” she said, jamming the smoking barrel against his temple. A heavy diamond necklace swung from her swan-like neck.

“I thought you were dead!”

“And you didn’t even think to, maybe, double check?” she said, eyes narrow with fury.

“I… How did you…?” Jack stalled, gently coaxing a knife from his sock with the toe of his other shoe.

“Escape from those monsters? Get the ruby? You have no idea what this has loving cost me. But I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist. Why waste my time looking for you when I could make you come to me?” She grinned at him, her long, sharp canines glinting in the red light.

He bucked his hips, knocking her weight off his chest, and kicked the knife into his hand. Slashing at her he leapt to his feet, snatched the ruby from its stand and sprinted towards the window.

Face twisted with anger she swung the gun towards him and fired. Pain lanced through his hand and the ruby exploded, filling the room with glittering red fragments.

She spun through the shimmering red cloud, covering the distance between them unnaturally fast, and sunk her fangs into his neck. Jack gasped and felt the world start to tilt, dark red clouding the corners of his vision.

“It’s great to see you babe,” he whispered, caressing the nape of her neck with his uninjured hand while the other painfully yanked a needle from his belt and jammed it into her thigh.

The drug would do nothing against her now but the surprise was enough to make her pull her teeth from his neck. In a flash he dropped out of her embrace, dive-rolled across the room and hurled himself out of the broken window.

A hellish howl of frustration echoed across the sleeping city as Lightning Jack rappelled away down the side of the building, heavy diamond necklace flashing in his hand.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

In

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Holloway Road
820 words


He was the only one who could see me. He shambled up my road one day, alone, like me. Past the brightly painted cottages, faded prayer flags and verdant vegetable gardens, his shoulders hunched under a manky overcoat and feet shuffling in too-big shoes. His nervous eyes glanced sideways from his downward pointing face as if the windows might be watching him.

This valley is mine, it is me. My steep bush-clad sides tower over the single narrow road and the roots of my trees run through the uneven foundations of the rotting-wood cottages. My vines creep up walls and my ferns clog gutters, a living blanket wrapped around the people who call this place home. My dirt is under their fingernails and they are part of me, too; but they don’t even know I’m here.

They soak my soil with their sweat as they toil, smiling, to carve gardens into the rocky hillside. They cut tracks like serpentine tattoos looping through the bush up my flanks. I don’t mind; their rubber wheels tickle as they ride up and down, faces red and laughing. They make me laugh, too, but they can’t hear me, they don’t talk to me, and so my laughter peters out, shared by no one.

Except for him. Barely more than a boy yet his face was lined with a lifetime’s worth of pain. That day he leant his back against a tree in a sun-drenched clearing at the very end of the road, looked straight at me and told me I was beautiful.

You can see me! I said, delighted. I laughed and danced around him, birds swooping at the insects that buzzed in my wake. He was amazed by my ancient yet eternally renewed green skin, and I let him gently stroke my grassy hair. But his eyes brimmed with sadness when he said no one would ever believe that he’d seen me; that no one ever believed him about anything.

He would come and visit me and I’d lie in the warm sunlight while he told me stories about the things that had happened to him and the things he’d dreamed. I couldn’t tell which was which and neither could he. Sometimes the stories were so sad, filled with cruel adults and numbing drugs and restraints that cut, that I would cry with him. But then he would spin tales from the threads that drifted through the air, beautiful creations just for me, and the troubled clouds would clear from his sky-blue eyes. I love you, I told him, because he could hear me, and because I did.

One day he came in the wind and rain and couldn’t see me. Jaw masticating and eyes clouded he shuffled up and down the road. “You fucks! Can’t… I can see… she loves you but you don’t! You don’t even know...” he shouted, his words bitten off like he was too angry to let them out unscathed.

Then he, like me, became invisible. The people with their brightly coloured homes and bikes and cars, their warm, comfortable clothes and overflowing gardens averted their eyes and shut their doors. He wandered around in the road, cold and confused, as they sat inside next to their fireplaces.

I tried to comfort him but he brushed away my touch, frightened eyes searching wildly for the source. So I rushed up and down the street, my chest constricted with sorrow, rattling glass panes as hard as I could and banging loudly on tin roofs. Why won’t you let him in? I yelled, but they were blind to both of us.

He came back that night in the freezing cold. The wind drove the rain through his clothes and he was deathly white except for his red-rimmed eyes. You’re freezing! I said. Go, bang on their doors! Demand their help! But he couldn’t hear me. He put his back against our tree, hugged his knees to his shivering chest and buried his exhausted face in the folds of his stinking coat.

I stood above him and parted the sluicing rain so it fell like curtains around him. He raised his face, neck trembling from the effort. “There you are,” he said, and smiled. He had stopped shivering, so I smiled back at him, relieved.

By dawn everything was perfectly still. The valley was filled with mist laced with tendrils of woodsmoke that drifted from mossy brick chimneys. I caressed his face; his skin was cold under my fingers. I cried, and the sound of tears dripping from the tips of leaves rang like bells in the silence. Why did they throw you away? I thought, wrapping my arms around him. I love you, I whispered, and with my muscles of earth and skin of moss I pulled him deep inside me. This valley is me, and it is him now, too.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

"Mmmm, fishy," said the pirate, grinning.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

In with Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Part 1) by the Flaming Lips

Yoruichi fucked around with this message at Feb 10, 2018 around 06:03

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Sitting Here posted:

First deadline:

11:59:59PM PST on Friday, February 9.

You must have a completed story that you can show to someone (not me). That person will confirm either to me or in the thread that you wrote a complete story. They should NOT offer critique, just confirmation that the story exists and is a complete first draft.

I can confirm that Sebmojo submitted a complete story at precisely 2 minutes before the deadline. It exists and is a complete draft.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Prompt: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Part 1) by the Flaming Lips

The Sun’s Last Light
1250 words


Yoshimi spun through the air, limbs tight against her body. Like a whip she uncurled one leg at the precise moment needed to connect with Haruki’s rib cage, sending her twin brother tumbling across the mats. She landed with their father’s battered EMP rods drawn, each one humming as the charge built up. The rods were the only effective weapon they had against the bots that stalked the ruined city outside. Their armour was impervious to conventional weapons but nonetheless tiny weaknesses existed, and if you could, by some miracle, jam a rod into one of those chinks then bam, the EMP would render the monster into a harmless pile of scrap metal.

“Yoshimi!” Tanaka-sensei yelled. “Put those goddamn things away!”

“How are we supposed to learn to fight if we never practice with real weapons?” she retorted, under her breath, wanting Tanaka to hear but hoping he wouldn’t. Haruki rubbed his ribs and cast a worried glance at his sister, afraid she’d earn herself another beating.

Tanaka’s further admonishments were cut off by a barked summons from Colonel Yamato, standing in the entrance to the training gym. After Tanaka had pulled the door shut behind him the cadets crept silently up to the wall and pressed their ears to the cracks in its broken and patched surface.

“...you saw how few came back today, and so many of them badly hurt…” came Yamato’s deep voice. “There’ll be another attack tonight. They’re learning Tanaka-san. They know we can’t heal the injured this quickly…”

“Impossible. And in any case, to send cadets… They’re not ready!”

“We’ve no choice. Just a few from each class. You must have at least one who could fight.”

There was a long pause and the cadets started to fidget, jostling each other for the best listening spots.

“Yoshimi,” came Tanaka’s answer, his voice heavy.

Thirty pairs of wide eyes swung to look at her. With a wolfish grin she turned excitedly to her brother, but was pulled up short by the look of horror on his face.

“Haru…” she said, but he turned and ran, tears spilling down his cheeks.

The sirens calling the soldiers to assemble were blaring and she still couldn’t find Haruki. The pounding of bots against the outer shield reverberated through the base like approaching thunder. She stood for a moment at the juncture of two corridors and stared down in the direction of the tiny dorm room that the two of them had shared since their parents died. A booming explosion rocked the base. She was out of time. “I’ll be back soon, Haru,” Yoshimi said quietly, scrubbing tears from her eyes with the back of her combat-gloved hand.

Running up the corridor towards the assembly area she careened into Colonel Yamato. “Yamato-san! Have you seen Haruki?” she said, hurriedly adding a polite bow.

Colonel Yamato looked at her strangely. “He’s assembling with the other soldiers, Yoshimi,” he said. “You can stand down, Haruki explained your decision to me earlier. You should be in the bunker with the others by now.”

Haruki you stupid bastard, Yoshimi thought to herself as she realised what he’d done, fear and anger washing over her in alternating waves. Pushing rudely past Colonel Yamato she sprinted towards the base’s exit.

The thick metal doors were screeching open as she arrived, revealing a wasteland of smashed concrete. The shield shimmered in the air like a heat wave and behind it, grimy grey carapaces glowing pink in the light of the molten sunset, towered the bots.

Yoshimi drew her EMP rods and followed the other soldiers out the gate, leaping over chunks of rubble and scanning the tense faces for her brother.

Somewhere behind her an explosion boomed and the ground bucked under her feet, sending Yoshimi into an awkward dive-roll. She pulled up in a crouch in time to see the huge arm of a squat, faceless bot swinging down through the air where the shield should have been towards an all too familiar cadet uniform.

“HARU!” she screamed, sprinting towards him. He saw the arm coming down and rolled out of the way just before it smashed into the concrete. Yoshimi leapt onto the bot’s fist and bolted up its arm, rods crackling as the charge built. Grinning triumphantly she launched herself into the air, rods aimed at the gap between the steel plates where the bot’s arm articulated from its torso.

Just before she could ram them home the bot’s other arm smashed into her back and sent her cannonballing into the ground. She groaned, winded, and rolled over to find Haruki crouched above her, terrified eyes scanning her body for injuries.

“Haruki you stupid idiot, what are you doing here?” she gasped as her breath returned.

The whistling of metal through air gave them a second’s warning and they sprung apart as the bot’s second fist crashed into the spot where they’d been sitting.

“I promised our parents I’d look after you!” Haruki yelled as shattered pieces of concrete rained down around them.

The bot turned ponderously towards him, attracted by the noise. Yoshimi eyed the weak spot in the back of its knee joint. At twice her height above the ground it would be a bitch to get to.

“Haruki listen to me. I need you to run back towards the base.”

“What? No! I’m not leaving you!” he yelled back.

“Just trust me already!” Yoshimi screamed at him, loosening the grappling hook from her belt.

Haruki stared with wonder at this sudden stranger, her fierce eyes blazing out at him from his sister’s sweat and concrete dust coated face.

“Hey! You big dumb robot! Yeah look at me!” he yelled. He hiffed a lump of rubble at the bot’s side where it bounced off with a clang. Shattered concrete shards skittered across the ground as the bot’s massive feet pounded towards him. Don’t you dare die on me Yoshimi, he thought to himself as he turned and ran.

As soon as the bot’s back was turned Yoshimi loosed her hook, aiming for the tangle of machinery on its back. She leapt into the air just as it caught, smacked the recoil button and let the cable pull her up in a swinging arch. Yanking the detach lever she spun through the air, the charge in the EMP rods building to a high pitched whine. The metal plates behind the bot’s knee separated as its leg straightened and Yoshimi javelined the rods into the momentary gap. The pulse ripped through the bot and it pitched forward, limbs suddenly limp. Yoshimi had time to let out a triumphant whoop before she and it went crashing into the ground.

When she opened her eyes she saw the reinforced archway of the base’s gate passing above her head. Haruki’s hands were under her armpits, dragging her backwards.

“Haru, stop,” she said, wriggling free of his grip.

“No! Yoshi, please...” He stared at his sister, feeling like a chasm between them was yawning open beneath his feet.

“We can beat them Haruki!” she said. She leant over and pulled her brother into a hug. “You have to believe me.”

The slumped form of the bot she’d downed cast a deep shadow in the last light of the sunset. Beyond it, the lumbering shapes of the remaining bots were silhouetted against the darkening sky. Haruki watched from inside the gateway as Yoshimi disappeared into the shadows, EMP rods held ready, the way she’d been training all her life.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

I love my car it is big and strong and has 10 cup holders so everyone can have two hot chocolates and there are airbags everywhere and it is impossible to parallel park because it’s 5 meters long and its diesel fumes will kill us all.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

WELLINGTOOOOOON

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome



Gimme a story about the Tikbalang, the werehorse.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

I claim the Tikbalang. Bring it Seattle.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

10:39 PM <Yoruichi> DocKloc wanna fight me with the Tikbalang?
...
10:48 PM <DocKloc> Yeah, as long as our special word isn't horse
10:49 PM <Yoruichi> DocKloc PONIES
10:49 PM <DocKloc> Oh god drat it
10:50 PM <DocKloc> I didn't even look to see what the tikbalang was
10:50 PM <sh> lol
10:50 PM <DocKloc> Should have loving known

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

The Interprompt Adventures of Mosebjo: 6

Night was falling by the time the silhouettes of the yurts of Mosebjo’s clan came into sight against the horizon. Bonfires blazed at the edge of the camp and Mosebjo’s stomach growled at the thought of the feast that surely awaited him, the triumphant survivor of a great battle.

Yet as he approached he realised something was terribly wrong. The keening of women crying assailed his ears. He tied Caterpillar to a bush and crept towards the yurts, concealed by darkness.

There was Rose, his beloved! But in the light from the fires he could see her face was wet with tears. She was throwing something into the fire; a shield, painted with her brother’s mark. Her brother, who lay dead on the battlefield, alongside the clan’s other sons.

Mosebjo turned and fled, clutching his head in confused agony as his dreams crumbled around him. He alone had defeated his enemies; he, alone, had survived. And now he mounted Caterpillar and spurred him back towards the open steppe, alone.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Seattle v Wellington Brawl
Tikbalang, earth

rear end in a top hat
948 words


James watched as Steph stepped nude from the park’s public toilets, placing her carefully folded clothes on a bench. She was, objectively, beautiful, James thought, trying and failing to feel something, anything, in response to the sight. He looked away as she stepped out into the moonlight and the change began, screwing up his face at the nauseating sound of bones snapping and flesh shifting.

Dumping his own clothes in a heap on the ground he followed Steph out into the full moon. James felt his body disappear, a terrifying moment of nothingness. Then his alter-eyes blinked open. A 360 degree view of the park and an influx of scents assailed his senses. His equine muscles bunched at the sight of the wide open space but he wouldn’t let himself go cantering around like some dumb colt, way too loving embarrassing. Instead he trotted after Steph, nose lowered to hunt out the best patch of grass.

***

James sighed and dropped his phone, message unanswered, back into his pocket. It was Steph, again. The parcels stacked on their riveted steel shelves stared accusingly at him. “I know, I know, I’m an rear end in a top hat,” he muttered to himself, reaching up to grab the next one down for processing.

“Yep a total rear end in a top hat,” said Inna’s voice from the next workstation, startling golden eyes and sharp white grin suddenly appearing around the end of the shelving. James jumped, the confines of the warehouse always made him claustrophobic this close to a full moon.

“So, moon-night tonight,” she said. “Got any plans?”

James flushed red. He hated being a werehorse, so loving lame. Most people wore some sort of tell, some giveaway of their alter-shape, like that dick Geoff in deliveries with his necklace of crow feathers and his uncomfortable stories about flying around looking into people’s windows every full moon. But not James.

“Well, my girlfriend really likes the view of the city from Gas Works Park, and, umm, she’s a sheep, so we usually just go up there, and, umm, graze…” he said, staring at his feet.

“Man that sounds nice,” said Inna. James looked up with surprise at the emotion in her voice. “I gotta chain myself up in my basement, city regs,” she said, rolling her eyes.

Instinctive fear shivered down James’ spine, mixed with an inexplicable frisson of excitement. She didn’t wear a tell either, he realised. “Oh, so you’re a…”

“Werewolf, yeah,” she finished for him. “loving sucks. Everyone assumes we’d go on a murderous rampage if we were allowed to roam but it’s not like you forget who you are when you change, right?”

“Right!” James said, over-enthusiastically. “Gas Works Park is pretty deserted most moon-nights, probably no one would notice if you…”

“I wouldn’t want to intrude,” she said.

“Oh, well, maybe sometime we could just go for a drink or…” he replied, his voice dying in an embarrassed mumble.

“Don’t be an rear end in a top hat James,” Inna said, her golden eyes boring into him. James felt his blush turn an even darker shade of red. She flashed him another grin before disappearing back behind the stacks of parcels.

***

rear end in a top hat, James thought, reliving that morning’s conversation as he cropped at the grass. Next to him Steph sat chewing her cud, gazing at the upside-down city that shimmered in the harbour.

James’ ears flicked back and forth, distracted by the scrapings of racoons in rubbish bins and the skittering of squirrels in the nearby trees. His nostrils shivered at a sudden new scent, tendrils of deep musk creeping through the air.

A sudden snap and a cut-off squeak made him swung his head up in alarm. From the darkness under the trees at the edge of the park a huge grey shape appeared. Its thick coat, the colour of shadows on snow, rippled over its muscular frame. With a snap of its jaws the squirrel disappeared. Golden eyes swung towards him. “Inna!” James thought, and then, “god I hope that was just a squirrel.”

Beside him Steph leapt to her feet, wooly ears pinned on the approaching wolf. James suddenly wished he’d told her about his conversation with Inna. But he hadn’t; couldn’t. He hardly talked to her at all these days, this sweet, kind girl who’d been following him around since high school. He just let her burble at him, listening only enough to know when she’d finished.

Inna growled, lips pulled back from her teeth in a gesture that made an instinct to bolt tug at his muscles. Steph jumped forward, positioning herself between James and the wolf. He looked at her with surprise as she stamped a front hoof. The wolf’s growl deepened and suddenly Steph launched herself forward, galloping with her eyes shut and her head lowered, fluffy white wool floofing around her in time with the pumping of her stumpy legs. At the last moment Inna side-stepped, snatching a mouthful of wool as the sheep charged past her.

Inna growled at James, a thick tuft of wool hanging from her bared teeth. Speech was impossible in alter-shapes but James could see the accusation in her eyes. “No I didn’t tell her about you, no I never tell her anything, yes I’m an rear end in a top hat, and of course yes she deserves better,” he thought to himself, full of shame.

Steph had turned back to face the wolf, readying herself for another charge. James cantered over to her, nuzzled her fuzzy head with his nose. “We need to talk,” her message that morning had said, and suddenly he needed to talk to her, wanted to talk to her. Inna flashed him a grin of sharp white teeth before she turned and disappeared under the trees.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

In, flash please

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Going Home
1580 words


Acrid smoke and the screams of the wounded chased her as Brea sprinted along the battlements. What have I done? she thought, her breath coming in ragged sobs. Cold wind rushed up the castle wall and through her hair as she slid to a stop at the very edge, teetering over the precipice below. She looked back; more soldiers were chasing her, and the ones trying to protect her were dying. All because of her. No more, she thought, and let herself fall.

Her scream crashed in her ears as she tumbled through the air. What have I done? Her power rushed unbidden to her, pushing against the air as she fell, stretching it, clawing at it with desperate fingernails. A tiny snick, a tear; she ripped at it, forcing open a gap between herself and the ground that was rushing up to consume her. With sheer force of will she tore open the fabric of the sky, and vanished.

***

“I’m telling you it’s too cold today,” Brea said, spinning her copy of Scientific American around to face Robert with one hand and spooning multi-coloured cereal into her mouth with the other. She jabbed a finger at the article she’d been reading, fluro bangles clacking on her wrist.

“I still think the launch will go ahead,” Robert said, his chair creaking like an angry duck as he rocked it back on two legs. They’d scoured the second hand stores together to furnish their first flat. Their ancient oak dining suite was their proudest find, though the chairs creaked and the table was propped up with beer coasters to stop it wobbling.

Brea smiled at him. Robert had curly ginger hair that she loved to run her fingers through, and was wearing his favourite NASA t-shirt. When she escaped her home dimension she never would have imagined that she’d end up living in Florida with someone as sweet as him. How different her life would have been if she’d stayed. The sole carrier of a great power, a prized weapon jealously guarded, a beacon for conflict and pain. I hope they never find me, she thought.

“Besides, we both took the day off specially. Please Brea, let’s go.”

She leant forward and planted a kiss on his cheek, the beard he was trying to grow faintly scratchy against her lips. “C’mon then,” she said.

***

On the bus to Titusville Brea snuggled against Robert, his arm around her shoulders. She blew a pink gum bubble at the disapproving stare of the blue-rinsed old lady sitting opposite them, making Robert laugh.

A moment of wrong in the sky outside the bus window caught her eye and Brea went rigid with shock. Like someone pressing outwards from the inside of a balloon the pale blue sky went white where it was being stretched. A dark mass of colour swirled at the point of the intrusion, pushing at the boundary between worlds.

“Babe are you ok?” said Robert.

She smiled at him, nodded, fighting to keep her breath steady as her heart pounded against her ribs. When she looked back out the window the sky was once again blue and clear.

***

Robert was grinning like an excited child as they joined the crowd in Sand Point Park. The air was full of puffy clouds of frozen breath and the smell of hot coffee. Portable stereos blared the radio coverage of the build up to the launch, competing with the high pitched laughter of a group of elementary school kids as they ran screaming around the adults’ legs. Total strangers nattered like old friends as they lined up at a cart selling coffee and doughnuts.

“Buy us some?” Brea said, nudging Robert in the direction of the cart. As he walked away she scanned the sky, searching for ripples or other disturbances. She clenched and unclenched her jaw, fearful of what she might be bringing down upon them.

***

By late morning Brea’s sense of dread had deepened in exact proportion to the rising excitement of the people around her. The sky showed no signs of intrusion but she could feel it. Like eyes boring into the back of her head she could feel them looking for her, searching for a way through. But they needed a hook, something extraordinary to grab onto from the other side to tear a way through the barrier between the worlds.

“Nine, eight, seven, six, we have main engines start…” came the voice from the radio, the rest of the countdown drowned out by jubilant cheers as a cloud of white smoke billowed up from the distant launch pad. People clapped and whooped as the Challenger rose impossibly from the earth on its plume of fire.

Brea felt the eyes leave the back of her head and snap onto the rocket. No, she thought, not that! You’ll kill them! But as she watched, gripping Robert’s hand, ripples appeared across the sky and converged on the point where the shuttle’s nose was pressing into the blue. Brea’s heart pounded in her ears. She’d always known they’d come looking for her, but not like this. Please not like this.

The sky around the point stretched, turning white then black as a tear ripped open and a burst of energy engulfed the rocket. Flames bloomed orange against the deep blue sky. Brea saw them unfurl in slow motion, like a flower opening in the sun. They curled up the side of the shuttle, a death sentence sprayed in red and gold on the shiny white metal. Beside her Robert stood frozen, squinting up through his knock-off Wayfarers, gloved fingers wrapped tight around hers. She watched tiny beads of ice fall from his eyelashes as he blinked, infinitesimally slowly. Closing her eyes against her tears she pressed her lips against his, and vanished.

***

She arrived in the crew compartment of the shuttle with the shockwave from the explosion pressing like a pent up tidal wave into her back. The crew were all staring straight ahead, information on what had just occurred yet to reach them. She could name them all; their bright, hopeful smiles had been staring at her for weeks from the poster Robert had pinned up in their flat.

“Breanna, what are you doing?” said her father’s voice as he materialised beside her, lips pressed into a tight line of anger.

“I’ve got to save them!” she said.

“Save them? Why?” said her father.

“Because it’s my fault! It’s my fault you’re here, like this…” Brea said, a sob escaping her throat. The shockwave pressed against her, forcing her to take half a step forward.

Her father loomed over her in the cramped space, the cape of his formal regalia sweeping around his feet. “No. You escaped me once but now you must return to where you belong!”

The shockwave was creeping close to the first astronaut, the skin on his cheek compressing as the wave of pressure advanced.

Brea shook her head. “I’m not going back,” she said. Gritting her teeth she loosened the restraints on her power and gasped as it surged into her veins. After so many months of disuse the feeling was at once intoxicating and terrifying.

“Enough of this! We have but a moment before the gate closes,” said her father, reaching for her.

The pressure wave was lapping around the head of the astronaut now, poised to crash through his skull and obliterate everything its path. Orange light danced around the cabin as the explosion neared its peak.

Ignoring her father Brea focussed desperately on the crew. Energy crackled against the advancing force of the explosion and tendrils of swirling colour like oil floating on water wound around the still bodies as she bound them tightly to her and lunged back towards the earth.

Splinters of blue crashed around her as her father’s hand grasped her wrist. “You will not defy me Breanna!” he shouted over the rising shriek of the tortured sky, dragging her back towards the tear.

“I won’t let them die because of me!” Brea grabbed her father’s arm and bound the waves of energy woven around the crew to it. His eyes went wide with shock as he realised what she was about to do. But it was too late. Reaching inside herself she yanked at the roots of the power. White hot agony shot through her body but she screamed and yanked again, severing it from herself and hurling her father and the crew backwards into the tear.

The explosion ripped through the shuttle, smashing through the seven empty seats.

***

Robert looked with surprise at the tears coursing down her cheeks. “Brea, are you…” but the rest of his sentence was drowned out by the collective gasp from the crowd at the distant puff of the explosion.

“...obviously a major malfunction...” came the voice from the radio, penetrating the moment of silence, the indrawn breath, before they were hit by the realisation that something was very, very wrong.

Brea buried her face in Robert’s chest. What have I done? she thought. There was no going back now. But she felt lighter, free, for the first time in her life. She wrapped her arms around Robert as he stared at the two new trails spiralling across the sky.

“They’ll be ok Brea,” he said, voice wavering.

“I know,” she replied. She lifted her tear-stained face to his and kissed him. “Let’s go home,” she said.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Antivehicular posted:

Interprompt: "Sing, O Muse, of rear end frog"

200 words

The Interprompt Adventures of Mosebjo: 7


“rear end frog, rear end frog,” sang Mosebjo tunelessly to himself as he stalked through the tall reeds at the edge of the river. Sharpened stick poised he scanned the muddy ground for the sources of the croaking that filled the warm evening air.

Mosebjo liked singing. His ditties used to make more sense but he’d been alone with no one to talk to but Caterpillar for many weeks now.

There! A splash in the shallow water and the flick of fat green legs. Mosebjo lunged forward with his stick, but the soft mud sucked at his heavy leather boots and he splatted into the shallows like a drunken duck belly flopping onto the water.

Spitting river water from his mouth Mosebjo looked up to find the yellow eyes of a huge frog watching him from the reeds.

“rear end,” said the frog.

“Frog,” said Mosebjo.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

sebmojo posted:

newt where's the rest?

relatedly: to crit all the seattlebrawls by 22 mar 2359 pst

e: amazing crits kai thx ^^^^

Oh Christ is this a thing we're doing? Rightio then, here are my thoughts on the stories of our worthy opponents.


Aka-Sama Stirs After Centuries of Inscrutable Silence

I liked this story. Other crits have pointed out that "monsters gonna monster" is a bit of a non-ending, but this didn't bother me. The story resonates strongly with my experience working in huge bureaucracies, nicely summed up by the line, "I think Aka is just bored. Who can know the mind of a space monster?"

The way the setting is described is also great, so, while the main characters don't actually do a whole lot, I still enjoyed this one.


Discordia

I didn't like this story. The whole thing is too... glittery. The characters are silly teenagers, the beast they summon is silly and magic girl who turns up to get it is also silly. I think this might have worked better if it had a serious note to balance out all the sparkles - maybe a moment of genuine fear when it all starts to go wrong, or some real consequences to deal with at the end.


New Blood

Oh this is good and dark. I like the way the disutopian setting is slowly revealed.

My main complaint is that it doesn't stand alone - to appreciate the story you need to know something about the cryptid it's based on, which I didn't, so some points were lost on me.

The other problem is the story refers to "fresh fetal tissue" being required, but she doesn't appear to be pregnant (she's only 13 when she first donates). I wasn't sure if this was an oversight or if the implication is supposed to be that she's kept pregnant in order to be able to donate fetal tissue.


Home Means Never Having to Say “I Told You So”

I liked this one, the interactions between Maria and Tiba are fun, and the idea of a woman going to stupid lengths to secure the man she wants is nicely delivered. However, this story suffers from requiring the reader to have some knowledge of its cryptid, for example, to understand the reference to turning your shirt inside out.


A Lost Page

This is ET, only boring. It's sweet and well written, but not a lot happens.


Scrapper's Gambit

Problems with the details really got in the way of this story for me. The protag is visiting Earth from somewhere else, and has little knowledge about Earth, plus there's a reference to the "gales of nuclear winter," all implying that humanity has been gone from Earth for a long time. But the protag finds a fridge containing putrefied, moldy food, which would mean it's what, a few weeks old?

I also couldn't get past the "piles of hollowed bones and mummies" the protag finds under the tree. Why are the bones hollow? I know you probably mean dessicated bodies but I can't stop picturing literal Egyptian mummies.

We don't really find out anything about Gehenna, so while she does some cool sci fi stuff I don't have any reason to care.


Where do monsters go when we stop believing in them?

This one was just boring. There's nothing to complain about in terms of the writing, but nothing really happens, and the punchline is a bit of a slap.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

In

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Braaaaaains
1154 words


The smell nagged at Mae as she jogged down the ship’s smooth white corridor in her brown cleaner’s uniform. She could feel her frizzy hair working its way free of its bun as she ran. They wouldn’t tolerate lateness from someone like her. She’d won her ticket on the transporter through the general lottery, a one in a million chance for a better life on a new, more perfect, world.

She’d first noticed it in her small personal compartment. Like the odour of meat left too long in the heat or dog poo poo on your shoe, a waft of rot that took her straight back home to the slums of Earth. It was completely out of place in the pristine space craft, with its carefully rehydrated calorie packs and meticulous waste recycling systems. Rot, chaos, the disgusting mess of human biology; the colonists left them all behind as soon as they lifted off from Earth’s dirt.

Rounding a bend she ran straight into the chest of Jared’s blue mechanic’s uniform, and a blush raced up her cheeks.

“You ok Mae?” he said.

“Oh, yeah, just late,” Mae replied. “Can you smell that?”

“Smell what?” he asked, one eyebrow raised.

Mae shook her head. “Nothing,” she said.

“Have you heard? The higher-ups are all in a tizz about something,” Jared said. “Engineers have all been summoned to an emergency meeting.”

Mae shook her head again, this time in fond exasperation at Jared’s perpetual lackadaisicalness.

“I’ve got to run,” said Mae, patting his chest. Jared blushed red, too, eyes fixed on her. Mae froze, the weight of the unsaid words between them suddenly pressing heavily on her tongue, pinning it in place. Idiot! she thought to herself, as she turned and ran.

***

The smell wafted past Mae’s nose again as she crouched next to Triss on protesting knees, the two women carefully sterilising a communal exercise machine.

“So, any progress on telling Jared how you feel?” said Triss, leaning her head in close to Mae’s.

Mae shot her a look and elbowed her in the ribs, just hard enough to make Triss lose her balance. Both of them burst out giggling, quickly stifled as the the cool white uniform of one of the elite passengers shuffled into the gymnasium.

The woman was tall, beautiful, as all the white-uniforms were, but her right leg was dragging. Mae had never seen one of them injured; if you could afford the passage on one of the transporters you could certainly afford the best body upgrades. The woman caught her staring and stabbed her with an icy glare. Mae looked quickly away, heart hammering.

“Respect for one’s place is respect for one’s self,” Triss said quietly to her, taking her hand and squeezing it reassuringly. The familiar lines of the Code soothed Mae’s nerves, even as the retreating sound of the woman’s shuffling gait nagged at her brain.

***

“You wouldn’t do it, would you?” Mae said to Jared, wide-eyed, calorie pack paused halfway to her mouth.

“Well, yeah, if it was an order,” he replied, pulling at his short-cropped beard. “I mean, we’d have to, wouldn’t we, if there was a risk of infecting the colony.”

“But everyone would die!” said Mae. “They’ve got all the best medical tech on the new world, surely they’d be able to find a cure once we got there!”

“Mae, it was just a drill, we have all sorts of emergency procedures, there’s nothing to worry about.”

The clatter of a metal tray hitting the floor cut through the buttery murmur of the cafeteria. Mae and Jared looked up in surprise as a brown-uniformed woman stumbled against the wall, groaning and pawing at her mouth. Two grey-coats, the ever-present enforcers of the Code, were quickly upon her, one at each elbow, dragging the disturbance out of sight.

“Triss!” said Mae, jumping to her feet.

“Shh!” Jared yanked her back into her seat. “Order from each; order for the whole,” he quoted at her. Mae stared at him, fingers splayed and palms pressed hard into the tabletop to stop them trembling, but he wouldn’t meet her eye. They stayed like that, not moving, until long after Triss’s incoherent cries had faded.

***

The smell kept Mae awake that night. That, and the noises. The scent of rot and the sound of distant moaning twined in and out of Mae’s brain and made sleep impossible. She couldn’t stop thinking about Triss, wondering if she was ok.

Klaxons blared in the corridor and Mae lept from her bunk. “Blue uniforms to your stations! Blue uniforms only!” blared the recorded voice, but Mae ignored it. loving Jared and his “there’s nothing to worry about,” she thought as she tried and failed to jam her arms into her uniform.

Mae stumbled, hitting her shoulder hard against the wall. A wave of nausea and the smell washed over her. ...the gently caress, thought Mae. Stand up, deep breath, arms into sleeves. There, she thought, you’re fine. Breathing hard through her mouth to keep the smell out of her nose she ran down the corridor towards the hospital bay.

Moans and cries echoed through the ship as she ran, a terrifying base note to the klaxons’ insistent trebble. “Triss!” Mae shouted as she rushed through the doors of the ward, but the sound died in her throat.

Greys, blues, browns, some lying still on the ground, others writhing on the beds, but all covered with a slick sheen of red. The smell was overwhelming, but what rose in Mae’s throat wasn’t bile this time, but hunger. A deep, burning need.

Jaw slack, she felt drool running onto her chin. Wiping it off with the back of her hand she blinked in confusion, then, hard, slapped herself, looked again at the horror in front of her. I’ve got to find Jared, she thought, as she turned and ran.

No one tried to stop her as she raced through the white corridors. Through doorways and around corners she caught glimpses of the ship’s other passengers, some in groups, struggling together, others, in pairs, locked too deeply in a lovers’ embrace. Her steps were growing clumsy with hunger. Control Room 43, Control Room 44, there!

She burst in, arms out to balance herself. Jared was standing at the far wall, hand on a lever behind a frame of broken glass, face white and shining with sweat.

“Mae, I’m so sorry,” he said, eyes flooded with tears. “We have to do it.”

Mae lurched towards him, arms outstretched. Tell him! she shouted at herself.

“Jared, I love you!” she cried, but to her horrified ears all she could hear was a hideous moaning. The last thing she saw was the look of anguish on Jared’s face as he slammed down the emergency airlock release and the ship exhaled its last breath into the vacuum of space.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Interprompt: Testy kills and other dating disasters

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome



Dear Antivehicular

Please write me a story about why horses are so great.

Yours sincerely
Yoruichi

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome



That Time You Went on a Cat Search and Stole a Helicopter

1220 words


Just like that - he’s gone! - and it looks like he’s taken his anti-hairball biscuits (you hate him getting hairballs, don’t you, all that hoiking and retching, the slimy mess on the carpet, like a tightly knitted ball of dead intestinal worms, it makes your stomach crawl like it’s full of intestinal worms just thinking about it) and that ebullient tuxedo jacket you painstakingly hand-stitched for him from certified-organic cotton with him - bastard - so, you must find him, and quick! - grab your coat, yes that’s right the one that makes you look like a spy, that’s a good coat for a Cat Hunt / A Cat-Hunt / A Catunt / A stinkyhole ... let’s just call it a Cat Search - rush rush out of your empty house a few more flakes of peeling red paint give up their grip on the door as it bangs behind you (it was Jen who’d painted it red, wasn’t it, when she lived there too - she said she thought it would make the house happy and then at least one of you would be) - the sun is setting and the cold wind from Lyall Bay blows sand against your cheeks yet you stand nervously rubbing your penis, a bad habit left over from your time in the Air Force - stop it! People will notice - there’s your neighbour John shuffling along the pavement - you run over and grasp him by the shoulders and cry, unnecessarily loudly, John, have you seen ニャンコ? - shouting: Have I seen what? (John always gets into the spirit of things) - My cat! He’s gone! - John tsk tsks and wraps his skinny arm around your equally skinny shoulders, filling your nose with his unique odeur of fermented cabbage and yelling no time for that, it’s happy hour! as he gleefully steers you along Apu Crescent and then - warm, moist air fills the cavities in your head as you plunge through the doors of the Bowling Club and you fear that you might suddenly lift off the ground like a hot air balloon (!) Jim: grabs your arm; pulls you back to earth; into the chair next to him; thrusts an empty glass and frothy jug of beer towards you; says where were you today? - caterpillar eyebrows waggling - John and Jane beat James and Jules in the mixed pairs finals! - John slow-nods in acknowledgment from his side of the table - nodding like a steely-eyed cowboy would nod - James left in a sulk and hasn’t come back! - Jim is cackling at the outrageousness of someone missing happy hour when - there he is! - you leap to your feet and and open-throat your glass of beer (no need to let that go to waste) your other arm pointing, straight and quivering, at a tuxedoed black shape that flitted past the back window - the pink flash of the jacket’s lining unmistakable - Jim, leaping to his feet beside you: there who is? - ニャンコ! - his cat John explains, draining the rest of the beer straight from the jug (good man John) - charge from the Bowling Club, spy-coat flapping like a cape; a pleasing effect, you pause for a moment to admire yourself in the steamed-up glass - mistake! You look terrible! No matter, this is a Cat Search! - quick around the back of the Bowling Club where you find not a cat but a man crouched on the back doorstep holding his bald head sobbing - James! Did you see ニャンコ? Where did he go? - James lifts his face eyes red and snot in his salt and pepper moustache - His cat! He’s gone! before James has a chance to ask (good man John) - grab James by the elbows lift him onto his feet - maybe he went into town? suggests James, sniffing - run run back down to Onepu Road pile into a merry yellow bus wave your SuperGold Card mutter I paid my taxes at some tattooed millenials who you’re sure are giving you the evils but then realise, no! - they weren’t giving you the evils at all that was mere side-eye compared to the furious laser-eyes that meet yours down the aisle of the bus from under a waterfall of frizzy grey hair - Jen! (she’s probably still mad about how you keep opening her mail - it’s not fair though, you always put it back in her letterbox so really what’s she even worried about) and you sit down quickly at the front of the bus too close for comfort to the millennials but better than getting within stabbing range of the scissors Jen carries with her everywhere - John, Jim and James right behind you - out of the foggy bus window the stars have come out and the moon hangs in the frozen blackness like a moon and on the pavement next to the bus I run beside you paws barely touching the ground and as you rumble along Waitoa Road I spring into the pohutukawa trees swinging from branch to branch and then, just before you disappear into the bus tunnel, fling myself into the sky and slink along the the Milky Way butt wiggling as I get ready to pounce on the moon - stupid cat, you think, you can’t catch the moon - you hold your breath as you go through the tunnel because you believe that this is a very important thing to do and then - tumble out of the bus on Lambton Quay - stop opening my mail! - Jen, hands on buxom hips and hand-knitted scarf coiling around her like a woolly snake - we’re looking for ニャンコ! I saw him in the sky! - run run towards the waterfront - there it is! Sitting resplendent in the moonlight, its rotors tethered to the dock like a hooded falcon: a Eurocopter EC130 B4 - It’s got 6 seats, room for everyone! - but how are you going to get past the chain link fence? - Jen, you’ll come too, won’t you? (unfair; the thought of Missing Out is Jen’s kryptonite) - she hurumphs and squats beside you, handbag clanks as she drops it on the tarmac - she leans in, her whole upper body disappearing inside the brightly patterned fabric (it’s got parrots on it, has Jen always liked parrots?) - emerges triumphant, grasping a pair of bolt cutters - John and Jim and James crowd around trying to help and generally getting in each other’s way as Jen’s muscular arms set to work on the fence John cops a feel of Jen’s ample boobage and Jen elbows him (hard) clutching his face John whines that his nose is broken but - you’re through! - inside the beautiful machine everyone buckles in and John’s nose leaves little drops of blood on the floor - push and pull at the buttons and levers (how hard can this be?) - quickly now the security guards have noticed! and they’ve left the comfort of their seats under the Crabshack’s outdoor heaters and are running towards you - the rotors strain against their teethers and then POP off they come and - you laugh as you feel your feet lose their connection with the ground and you stare up into the stars and our eyes meet and we all grin because you, I and both of us all know that you don’t really even have a cat, DO YOU?

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Tanz! posted:

Interprompt: Ideas Guy

Give me your worst story pitch possible. 50 word max.

“So the story is about a woman named Rose, and she falls in love with a warrior and then they kiss and stuff,” said Mosebjo, mouth full of barbecued frog.

Caterpillar snorted, sending little globs of horse snot flying across the campfire, one of which went right in Mosebjo’s eye.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

In with the Loebner Prize

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Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

Prompt: the Loebner Prize

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