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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

derp posted:

SOMEBODY FIGHT ME

IM READY(butidontlikethisweeksprompt)


flerp posted:

ur name sucks

fight me



lol. imma judge this because flerp derp

prompt: every species is sapient but can't recognize it in other species or communicate with them.

wordcount:1500 words

due date: Jan 27 11:59pm PST

derp, toxx up plz.

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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

i




























































n

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

The Men Who Lived Forever
1692 words

It took less than 100 years after humanity vanquished death for us to invite it back. Immortality was a mistake, we decided. Once thought impossible, proved technically feasible, now internationally illegal.

My flashlight cuts through the dust of the old mansion. It looks empty, but I learned to stop trusting my gut long ago. The immortals were clever, with hundreds of years of practice evading our kill teams. My comm crackles in my ear: “We’ve got a portrait above the mantle. Looks old. Historian says mid-twenty fourth,” says our rookie.

“gently caress, so this guy could be…” I hoped somebody would do the math for me.

“Yeah, if not the record, would be close,” confirmed Ed, our historian.

We were there because somebody called a psychic. Saw a light in the window of the abandoned mansion, thought it was haunted. Thirteen percent of ghost sightings were actually immortals in hiding, and all call-in psychics were mandated reporters.

“Or it could be nothing,” said Adam, the team’s profiler. He’d found his own great grandpa in his attic when he was ten, reported him immediately. “Keep your eye out for anything newer than you are. These guys can’t go twenty or thirty years without hoarding some trinket. It’s like a sickness, their greed.”

Room after room turns up empty. Not a footprint in the dust, a ticking clock, or a wet sink drain: all aberrations we’d used to catch immortals before. This guy was good, or it really was a ghost this time.

I sigh. “Why do they even want to live like this? Holed up in some dusty house they can’t use, sitting on a fortune they can’t touch?” The first immortals tried to continue their old lives under new identities, but then we started keeping better records. Even the richest person couldn’t CRISPR out their entire genome, and if there was a flake of skin or a drop of sweat in the air, our sensors would notice if somebody stuck around too long. They had to stay hidden, far out on family estates where only tech was a phone line.

“Nobody’s in here, we’re going to check the greenhouse.”

I give my ok and walk into the last bathroom. I lazily check the sink, not even a whisker. Through the window I see Ed and Adam making their way through the overgrown garden toward the greenhouse. Usually they’re missing panes of glass, knocked out by weather, tree branches, or lovely neighborhood kids. This one looks in relatively good condition. Then I notice the fresh pile of dirt behind the greenhouse. My stomach drops.

“Be careful,” I warn. Just as I’m about to turn and run down to assist I hear the squeak of skin on dry porcelain. I whip around and a petite woman hiding behind a shower curtain throws her hands up to shield her eyes from my rifle’s flashlight.

“Don’t loving move!” I shout.

They usually cry, offer me billions, beg for their life. But this woman, she just… laughs.

“Shut up, put your hands up where I can see them.”

The woman rests her fingers on her black hair. “I wouldn’t be worried about me,” she says with a wink. “Aren’t you guys implanted with deadman switches?”

We are. Better to die than let an immortal escape. A few things would trigger it: a stopped heart, a manual trigger, or losing contact with the satellite feed.

“Recite your ID number for voice verification,” I order her. Too many urban explorers and reporters shot by accident. Now we have rules, but I can tell she’s the one we’re after. They’re something different about immortals. They seem sadder than normal people. Even though this woman doesn’t look a day over thirty five and is smiling, I can sense a sadness that only those who have lost everybody they care about can exude. But women weren’t allowed to get the procedure. Hell, they weren’t even allowed to own property back then. Turns out progress stalls when the greedy live forever.

“My ID? It’s uh...one,” she says, giving me the finger. “And that’s not a greenhouse—”

I glance out the window as my comm crackles: “Boss, there’s nothing in here but a spool of wire.”

“Get out of there,” I shout.

“—it’s a faraday cage.”

Before I can get another word out, the greenhouse door slams shut and then, if only for a millisecond, the glass building glows from the inside like a miniature sun.

The bathroom window explodes, blasting my face full of glass. I land on the ground and claw at my burning eyes. All I can think about is how expensive it is going to be to get new eyes implanted. I grasp for my headset to call for backup, but feel it kicked away.

Blind, mute, and dazed, I feel the cold metal of a knife under my chin.

“Still a fan of death?” she whispers in my ear.

“Who wants to live forever?” I push the self-destruct button on my chest, but it only clicks.

“The EMP knocked it out.”

I push it a few more times out of desperation and then stop. For some reason, I think of my daughter and I panic. I imagine her growing up without me. She’d learn I was a hero, she’d never want for anything, but I’m not even dead yet and I’m already missing her.

“Just one last thing,” I say as the knife draws its first blood.

“What?”

“Why? What life is this?”

She laughs and eases the pressure on my carotid. “This isn’t my life. This was a trap.”

“Oh.”

“But not for you. For them. Why stay alive all these years? I just wanted to see the future I fought so hard for. I wanted to take out every person who wronged me, and well, it’s taking a while.”

“But how—”

“—did a woman get the immortality drug?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“I invented it.”

“That’s not what the history books say.”

She let go of my shoulder and shoves me forward. I grasp around for something to pull myself up, so I at least die standing.

“Exactly. Why would a lowly lab tech—a woman nonetheless—get credit for that? Why would the drug go to everybody when it could be hoarded by the wealthy? Everybody wants to live forever, but nobody wants everybody else to live forever with them.”

Years of PSAs and pledges and Very Special school assemblies come rushing back. “Nobody deserves to live forever. Not even you.”

“And I won’t. But I’ll live as long as I need to.”

I search my brain for the slogan to counter her rationale, but realize we don’t have one. Immortals are greedy, scared people. Men who had a taste of what it was like to be God, but too afraid to face him.

I feel a prick on the back of my neck. I turn and swing a fist blindly in her direction, but she’s already anticipated and dodged.

She whispers in my ear: “see you later.”

And then she was gone.

I feel my way downstairs and nearly trip over the rookie, unconscious in the grass. I wake up him and he gets us to our lander.

***

I make what the doctors call a “miraculous recovery,” even with new implants and half a face of new skin grafts. But it’s the hair that worries me. I was quite proud of my graying temples, just like my dad’s before he’d died in the immortal war. But the gray has faded back to my regular hair color. When I hit the gym, I hit my personal best in a week of training. When I get home from work, I chase my daughter around the yard instead of falling asleep on the couch. I can’t keep my hands off my wife.

Even though I know I should report it, I keep quiet. I’m scared. It’s not my fault, I tell myself. I didn’t ask for it. And when it’s time to submit my official report, I say I woke up in the bathroom alone and blind.

***

Nancy calls to me from the closet. “Honey, have you seen my rifle?”

“It’s on the top shelf.” I stand and face the window. “Opacity, 80%.”

Then sun is just peeking through Missoula’s twin skyscrapers, commuters darting through the sky to their morning meetings. A rocket launches on the horizon, leaving a faint trail behind it as it heads towards one of the docking stations in orbit.

It’s gotten easier, in a way, to hunt down the remaining names on Nancy’s list. Sooner or later they’ll all make the attempt to go offworld. Though the rest of the world had already celebrated and declared the Solar System immortal free. The monitors kept looking for signs, pinging servers only people long dead remembered were there.

For each alert, Nancy’s list got another name crossed off. Sometimes we’d go decades in between and we would live semblances of normal lives, bouncing around cities every few years. Always “the new young couple.” Live simply, pay in cash, keep moving.

I take out the locket with a piece of orange paper inside. I can see the outlines of my daughter’s face where anybody else would see smudges of dirt. I pretend the photo is still crisp and clear as the day she gave it to me. I don’t dare try to access one of federal archives that would have her photos. In a way, every day I saw my daughter after that first night Nancy and I met was borrowed time anyway, but it wasn’t enough. I just wish the suspicious looks hadn’t come so soon, and I hadn’t had to “die” so suddenly.

I’ve forgotten almost everything, and everybody. They all blur into one another, and I feel like I’ve lived and forgotten whole lives.

“Mirror.” The window changes to mirror mode, and I stare back at myself. If I was sent to hunt myself, I’d know in an instant I was an immortal. I wouldn’t even have to verify a voice ID, I would shoot on site. It’s in the eyes. I wish I could forget her.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

DoN, bitch

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

Bad Seafood posted:

Your protagonist must make off with the crown prince in the middle of his own wedding, with no one the wiser - including the prince.

IRC posted:

crabrock: hey doof. can i get 3 extra words? I don't need them yet or anything i just want special treatment
BadSeafood: How much are you willing to pay for those words.
crabrock: 2 words?
BadSeafood: I will give you 1, so it's a clean 1555.

Alternates
1555 words

Of all the people I’ve met in alternate dimensions, I hate the other-me from #47 the most. The other-mes are always a little off: #52 has that eyepatch thing (gotta admit it works for him), #9 is mostly robot parts, #102 is much more successful and muscley and I hate him too for being a showoff, but #47 other-me is just evil. Still, it was my idea to kidnap the prince, not his, so I guess I shouldn’t throw too many stones.

Inter-dimensional trafficking is a lucrative business. Wanna hang out with Taylor Swift but she keeps having her bodyguards throw you out of her dressing room? I can get Taylor #33 to you with a day’s notice. She’s from a trash planet and smells terrible. Not famous at all, but we’ll clean her up and she’ll show up at your birthday party and sign autographs before we whisk her back to garbage town with a bag full of bottlecaps so she can upgrade her meals from rat meat to dog meat for a month. Don’t worry, she likes it there.

Royalty is harder. They come from lines of kings and queens, and are much less likely to have an interdimensional double that isn’t also royalty. While there’s only a few dimensions where Keith Richards even kissed a girl, much less became famous, the Crown Prince Radeyah was a prince in every dimension I’d been to. Random luck didn’t play as much of a role in their futures.

The request came in from the bride’s parents: find a better Prince Radeyah. They weren’t keen on the arranged marriage between their daughter and the notorious doofus, no matter how much power and money his family had. I dropped the fax on my desk and held my head in my hands. I already operated in a murky gray area of identity theft and slander, but permanent switcharoos were strictly illegal.

But the job request came with a check that had a lot of zeroes. It was enough to motivate me to tighten the velcro on my interdimensional portal boots and travel to dimension 47. If anybody knew how to pull something like this off, it would be that bastard.



Before I’d even stepped through the bead curtain of me-47’s agency office I was hit by the smell of farts and menthol. My ex—or #47 version of her—sat smoking a cigarette on the couch. While all the residents of dimension #47 were evil, I couldn’t tell the difference between her and my actual ex, Kate.

“Oh poo poo, does Satan know you escaped from hell?” I said.

She rolled her eyes and shouted: “Herbie, your weird twin from dimension three is here.”

“He trying to gently caress you again?” Herbie yelled from the other room.

“I don’t think so.”

I gagged.

Herbie walked out with his shirt unbuttoned and his pants unfastened. “Too bad you didn’t get here two minutes earlier, I would have given you a run at her. They call this dimension 47, but after today they might start calling it dimension 69, if you know what I mean.” He pantomimed something that either said he didn’t know, or that dimension 47 was even more hosed up than I had imagined.

“You know why I’m here.”

“Yeah, yeah, the prince thing. Easy.”

“You’re bluffing. The wedding is in a few hours. They’re already setting up in every dimension.”

“Nah man, I already got the perfect plan. That’s why I was celebrating.”



Herbie had replaced the guards of palace #62 with their interdimensional doppelgangers months back for another job that had something to do with a drunk princess, honestly I stopped listening because it got pretty grotesque.

We made our way into the scullery and changed into our stolen catering costumes.

The prince was a well-known loner who preferred to spend his time locked away in his room. His parents, the King and Queen, two gregarious buffoons, had complained to the media that their son must have been switched at birth, and they suspected the illuminati had done it.

We found the prince where we suspected he would be. We didn’t even have to tell him much of our plan before he was on board. “Anything to get out of this mess,” he said, motioning to his intended in the courtyard, a girl so touched she was holding her fork by the wrong end.

The three of us snuck through the pillared halls of the palace until we found a broom closet bigger than my apartment that was rarely used and well insulated. The portal boots make a hell of a racket.



Herbie and I exited the interdimensional portal in the broom closet of my dimension. It rained a confetti of toilet paper and other cleaning products that the portal had blown apart.

“Stay here until we get back,” we told Prince-47.

Once we were out of earshot I whispered to Herbie: “He doesn’t seem that evil.”

Herbie laughed. “Oh yeah, I switched him at birth with some other dimension’s prince.”

“Why the gently caress did you do that?”

“I dunno, we’re just evil, remember?”

I groaned and tried to ignore his evil ways.

We snuck into the main hall where the wedding guests were finding their seats. The hall was adorned with floating, spinning jewels that refracted the sunlight coming in from the open dome into tiny pinpoints of multi-colored light.

“Fuckin’ rich person disco balls,” said Herbie, tugging at his tuxedo’s collar. “Fuckin’ rich person nooses.”

I smacked his arm to shut him up, and we made our way toward the prince’s dressing room, nodded at people like we were old friends. We found Prince-3 alone in his room, shoveling hordevours into his mouth with his bare hands.

“Your highness,” I said, bowing.

He swallowed, though I’m not entirely sure he was done chewing. “Call me Rad, you know, like ‘awesome.’”

I looked at Herbie but he only shrugged. I stuck to our plan. “Um, ok Rad. We’re here to bring you to the surprise your dad got you.”

“No way!”

Herbie flashed me a look that said he was about to run for it.

“My dad said he wasn’t gonna get me a wedding surprise, that old trickster!” Rad jumped up in the air, untucking his stained tuxedo. “Show me show me show me!”

“Ok, but it’s real bright, and makes your stomach go like ‘wooooosh.’”

“Omigod, is it an outdoor roller coaster?”

“Kind of.”

We led Rad back through the party guests, having to stop several times while he loaded up on toothpicks stuck in little pieces of food. The broom closet door glowed with a green light and buzzed with a slight hum. I opened it, and Prince-47 turned around.

He stared awkwardly at his likeness, then extended his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

Rad fist-bumped the Prince’s fingers. “No problem, bro.” He turned to Herbie. “Yo, that dude looks just like me, but way more boring.”

“Ok, time for your wedding surprise!” Herbie shoved Rad through the portal. “Don’t forget to hold your breath,” he added, after the misfit prince had already disappeared into the swirling light. “Oops.”

“Well,” I said to Prince-47-cum-3, “we’ll leave you here.”

“If you need anything,” said Herbie, “tough fuckin’ luck.”

We jumped into the portal back to dimension 47 and closed it behind us.

Rad had already found his way out of the broom closet and was mingling with party guests. They laughed and clapped as he did poorly-rehearsed magic tricks with a jumbo prawn. The King and Queen saw their son and made their way over to him, happy to see him among his subjects and not sulking in his room.

Rad, finding the party in the evil dimension much more to his liking than the stuffy “proper” wedding in his own dimension, assumed that was his surprise.

The marriages went off without a hitch, and only three people in the multiverse knew what truly happened.

We walked out of the castle and into an empty park where the flowers were just starting to bloom. I turned to Herbie and shook his hand. “I have to hand it to you, that went better than I could have hoped.”

Herbie stroked his chin. “I miiiiiiiiight have switched those two at birth, come to think of it. Was your dimension the one that had those giant crab attacks a while ago?”

I shuddered at the memory of rotting crab meat. “Yeah.”

“Oh. Amazing what you can get away with during chaos like that.”

“You dick. Anyway, deal’s a deal. Here’s your half of the money.”

He took it, leafed through the envelope, gave me the finger, then left without another word.



I leaned back in my chair and counted my money. I’d never stolen a prince before, and it was more fun than I cared to admit. Maybe I’d misjudged dimension #47. They didn’t all seem that bad.

And seeing Kate-47 made me miss my Katie, even if just a little. Maybe I’d been holding on to my grudge for too long. I picked up my phone and dialed her number from memory.

It rang five times before she picked up.

“Uh, hello?”

“Hey Katie, it’s me, Herbert.”

There was a long pause.

“gently caress you, Herbert, you evil piece of poo poo” she said, and then hung up.

Nevermind.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

flerp derp brawl results

derp posted:

Residue
1375 words


flerp posted:

derp brawl

651 words

Guardian Angel

i'll crit these a bit later but basically i asked for stories where all animals were sapient, but couldn't recognize this quality in others, and couldn't communicate with them. so flerp wrote a story where a dove recognizes the pain in a boy and actually understands the words that the boy says..... i mean like. what, you violated both parts of the prompt... I DON'T EVEN KNOW. derp's story was way more on par with what i wanted. a bunch of animals being dicks to each other. it had a loose narrative that was kind of fun, if more "ripped from the headlines" than original, but it got the job done.

derp wins, almost by default.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

bay area goons trying too hard to pay rent to bother with this silly brawl poo poo

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

i'll get neth's SS box out this week

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

crabrock posted:

i'll get neth's SS box out this week

did this

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

week 291 crits
week 291 crits

Best -> worst

Antivehicular - Win
Thranguy - HM
Jay W Friks - HM
Baby Ryoga
Tyrannosaurus
Flesnolk
Bad Seafood
Unfunny Poster
Apophenium - DQ/DM
Lazy Beggar - Lose


Unfunny Poster

This story is a lot of telling. You tell me that he’s a good fighter and is prepared, but never once show me. By the time the fight starts I have no idea who this guy is other than somebody that thinks they’re going to win because they trained so hard. Isn’t that literally every single athlete?

The fight goes the way fights in writing often do: pretty stale series of events that do little to help me really care about what is happening. What is “round blood?”

Overall I’d classify this as “boring and pointless.” What story were you trying to tell here? What was the purpose you wrote this for?

-----------------

Jay W Friks

You wouldn’t need to inject a CSF replacement directly into the hippocampus, you would inject it into the spine, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinal_anaesthesia. also when you’re injecting into the brain you have a device that holds the head and allows precise needle placement https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotactic_surgery. The average reader may not care.

This has a good setup with some really good characterization in the beginning/middle. The end is underwhelming as it just kinda states the way things are now and there’s no feedback/reaction to it. I didn’t get the veiny head woman thing (i think it’s just her but you have to be careful with metaphors sounding literal). Adding a tiny bit more to the end would really improve this story, but overall it’s pretty good and definitely the best thing i’ve seen you write in the dome.

---------------

Lazy Beggar

You have some tense problems in this, definitely work on fixing those before submitting next time. This sentence is a good example: “I checked today's reports.”

Uh. I’m not clear on what the hell he read in his report, and what the hell happened to his ship. So his main motivation and main climatic consequence are obscured and left dangling in front of my face as vague “reasons.”
-------------------

Thranguy

You have two spaces between “are crap.” DQ

--------------

Antivehicular

Yeah i like this one. The 2nd person isn’t jarring, but maybe because i’m a nerd who would totally love to be stranded alone on a spaceship with a shitload of food. This was a good way to approach the prompt, i think. The dude failed, but he learns to revel in his failure and convince himself that this is actually even better. He’s failing up. You start right with the failure and then talk about the ramifications of that failure, where most stories this week build up to the failure then end on it, leaving the reader to guess what it means.

--------------

Baby Ryoga

Omg shut up about numbers i don’t care. Ok so i kinda see what you were going for, and in theory, i approve. However, I think you muddled it up a bit in places. This piece could have used a few more editing passes. I think maybe he was trying to poison the birds, but was actually just making more of them come? The police paragraph at the end is a little too long and too on the nose. You should shorten that and then end with one final paragraph of the crazy guy crazying.

---------------

Tyrannosaurus

I started getting bored with this when you started repeating yourself. I guess you were showing time passing by or something but i said “how long is this loving thing?” and scrolled down to see how much more I’d have to read, which is never a good sign.

There is an uncanny valley aspect to some of this dialog, especially with the therapist. I was afraid for a second you were going to go into some softcore porn or something. Anyway, in a change from some of your other pieces, I actually like the end the best out of the whole thing. Not the “i was molested” part, which felt a bit trite, but the “no, don’t kill him… DESTROY HIM” bit. Is the thing he tried and failed was to be happy? That sucks.

--------------

Apophenium

I stopped reading after your second section. I just couldn’t get into the thing. This guy is in the afterlife on a sand planet named lucifer and he really misses his dogs or something? I dunno, but I just didn’t really care. I wasn’t sure where he was or why he was there, and why it really mattered that he return to his dogs just because he said he likes them a lot. You can’t just tell the reader that stuff matters, you have to earn that by showing me that he loves his dogs. Overall it’s a bit too purple and drags on a bit too long to catch my attention.

--------------

Bad Seafood

A nicely written trope that’s common in all the familiar ways, but isn’t terribly exciting. I feel like i’ve seen this a billion times, and while written competently, there’s not much going for it. I liked the part where he’s sitting on the couch, but don’t really care that his son was a priest or that the sister was gregnant. If this was in the middle of something more exciting and I knew these characters, it would fit perfectly and i’d say “that was lovely,” but on its own i just think “this is boring.”

--------------

Flesnolk

I’m not quite sure when this dude is on the island and when he’s on a boat. Overall I’m confused at what this story is about. I think it’s some guy dreamed about somebody telling him there’d be a paradise so he sets out to find it, finds the island but it sucks, and then he’s like “i should leave” but then “nah, don’t want that kid to yell at me.”

What you did good here was provide a sense that this story is taking place in a larger world where a bunch of poo poo is happening off screen that our char knows about but we don’t. I like that, but it needs to have a bit more meat and clarity on this guys purpose and outcome.

--------------

Thranguy

No, but serious typos hurt your story. I had to go back to figure out what “and three the salt and mostly sodium cheese powder in her face” was supposed to say. Not good for literally like the huge action of your story to that point. “that out the one.” these typos are super jarring and honestly if push comes to shove will probably keep you from the top spot this week.

Anyway I like this story on its own, but I don’t feel like they tried to do something hard and failed, necessarily. They failed in their original revenge, but he succeeded in defeating her and making her break up with her boyfriend, which seemed like the harder aspect of the story, and in the end they got their revenge, like some sort of rube goldberg revenge machine. So i really felt like you cheated the prompt with this one, and argued against the win for that reason, but the other judges liked it better than the other high mark story this week so YOU GOT LUCKY.

Overall this has a bunch of Thranguyesque details that I really like, such as a kid running python scripts in his head and dancing magic.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

in with st. valentine, the saint of beeeeeeeeeeeees

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

here are some opening sentences you can use for your scifi story, free of charge.

The whole world did a collective shudder when we learned that dark matter was actually a tongue.

"The Sun Eaters" cult members photosynthesized as well as other humans--which is to say not at all--but their genetically modified green skin did make them look ironically delicious to vegans.

The fancy-pants number elitists said I was crazy when I told them my plan to steal pi, but when I blasted off with it in the cargohold of my spaceship, leaving only squares in my wake, they had to admit I were smart.

I stared into the octopus tank and suddenly realized that my primitive fingers would no longer do.

The self-driving car worked flawlessly.

The moon is only a third the size of Earth, but twice as sassy, once you get to know it.

The greatest time-prank I ever pulled was bringing all those really big wheels back into the past and convincing people that the penny-farthing was a real thing.

Some people were upset that 3d-printed food tech had stopped at the hot dog, but gosh darn did I love hotdogs!

"I think I'll go into computers," I'd said as a child, and sure some stuff happened in between then and now, but I thought of that particular moment as my AI robot strangled me in a Chuck-E-Cheese.

Matt Damon was trapped on mars AGAIN.

I wanted to be a smoke alarm when I grew up, and as I screamed at the top of my lungs as my fiery spaceship plunged back toward the planet, I marveled at how close I'd come.

"I am sorry Terry, but I cannot have sex with you, as you are gross and meaty and I have perfect robot memory and would have to relive it for an eternity."

A billion years in the future nature had gotten real weird with the evolution, but birds were still jerks.

The worst part about getting my brain transplanted into a shark was that there was this one itch right behind my dorsal fin that was impossible to get.

Dorian Gray's facebook profile picture always made his mom smile, and he just prayed she never got onto tinder.

It wasn't long after the singularity that we were informed we'd gotten doors 100% wrong, and the robots never let us hear the end of it.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

areyoucontagious posted:

Is the word count exact? I have been doing some cuts and have around 2015. I haven’t done TD in a while and didn’t remember how strict the judging is for that. I still have a few days to get it down, I guess.

yeah you'll get DQed if you go over. welcome back. 15 words is easy to cut just find your worst sentence.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

it's why i have so many failures. oh wait that's you

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

congrats on your win, Exmond.

in

i dunno if this is a pokemon or what but it's cute so whoever gets it plz write a cute dino story
https://www.deviantart.com/art/Dril...Spiky-737415431

crabrock fucked around with this message at Mar 27, 2018 around 01:01

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

areyoucontagious posted:

Oh god what have I wrought



In

A Horse Called Bob
~1700ish words

Henry was a literal manifestation of the metaphorical “ steel horse” in that he was a horse made of steel. A beast with glowing orange eyes and unglowing orange skin, he could fly and gallop over 60 kmph on a tank of pure 93 octane oats. He was legend in the towns of the west, that didn’t have established laws or customs but did appreciate tales of heroes, ever since he’d

He didn’t work well in the rain, because of rusting joints. Of course it had to be raining the day that the big bank robbery happened. Two thugs, George, Jacob, and the old man Gary Oldman rolled into town on a stagecoach pulled by normal horses.

Henry looked out from his water-proof stable and sighed in anger. Surely, given the opportunity, he could outperform those normal horses and pull that stagecoach fast. He could be the fastest get-away horse the criminal underworld had ever known, but no! He wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t succumb to a life of easy money and crime. He made a vow right then and there that if he had a chance, he would talk to those horses and bring them to the side of good. Pulling a plow isn’t easy, but it’s honest, and honestness was next to godliness, in Henry’s point of view.

So then he turned his anger at the humans. The vile, corrupt men had corrupted the horeses and made them do their bidding. The horses were pawns, when they should have been knights.

Henry vowed right then and there to get out of the stable and stop the bank robbers, even if it meant frying his circuits. But first, he had a plan!

The ground was soft and supple from all the recent rains, so it did not scratch his fine metal exterior when he knelt down on the ground and began to pray. He prayed to God, to Horse God, and to the Centaur God, to cover all his basics. He asked them for the strength and courage to confront the bank robbers, and also for it to stop raining. To not appear self-serving in front of the three gods, he also asked for a new leg for Timmy, the young race horse who had recently broken his leg during a race and was now just waiting to be shot if he didn’t recover quickly.

Henry stood up and brushed the dust off of his knees that his whole body glinted in the sunlight. “Wait a minute, sunlight?!” He said in his head to himself. “How can there be sunlight if it is raining?” he looked around for a lighthouse that may be casting a beacon onto his knee, but they were in the middle of the steppes and near no oceans. He looked for a bonfire, maybe set alite by natives planning a war party, but the horizon was free of warriors. Finally, Henry looked toward heaven, and saw that the rain clouds has parted and the sun was shining ferociously through the hole. It was as if the three gods had put their fists together and punched a cloudhole straight into the sky.

“Yippee!” Henry screamed at the top of his speaker’s lungs, and he burst through the door of his stable. He was in the middle of the street, and down the street was one of the thugs, also in the middle of the street. His hands hovered near his gun belt and Henry smiled. “Fool, don’t know I’m the fastest horse in the west?”

“Ha ha, you don’t have guns,” said the thug, but before he could even cock one hammer Henry had run at him at full speed and knocked him to the ground. The guns went spiraling on the floor and skidded underneath some furniture so that the thug couldn’t get them. He lifted his head off the ground, but when he saw he was defeated, he passed out.

“One down, two more go” said Henry, as he took off running toward the bank. He passed the mercantile, where he would often go to buy blankets when it was cold, and the hardware store, where his shoes were fashioned from iron ingots. The town’s doctor was shaking out a rug and nodded to Henry as he raced passed on his way to the final showdown at the bank. Just when he got to the steps, the bank’s clock rang high noon.

The second thug stepped out of the bank with a shotgun in his hand. He threw the shotgun to the ground. “I don’t need this to defeat a single, solitary horse. I can do that with my hands tied behind my back, but instead I’ll use a knife.”

He pulled a knife out of his pants.

Henry couldn’t help but shiver a little bit, his body surging with adrenaloil. A well-placed knife attack could spell doom for his circuits.

But he wasn’t afraid. Even though he was afraid, he still squared up against the murderous thug.

“Actually I’ve never killed anybody before,” he said, “But tonight I think I will be feasting on horse steak!”

“ARG!” Henry suddenly cried from nowhere, and lunged forward at the robber.

“Unf,” said the robber as his stomach got hit by twenty tons of horse steel. “My pancreas!”

He too, seeing the folly of his ways, passed out.

“Now the only one left to stop is my arch-nemesis, Dr. Oldman!” said Henry.

He stormed into the bank where everybody was cowering in fear. “Run! You are free now!” The hostages escaped out the back while Dr. Oldman scowled. “You’ve ruined my plans, Henry Steelhorse, but you will not capture me and put me in the stocks, not today at least!”

“There is nothing you can do to stop me, I have you surrounded. There is no escape.”

“Ha!” said Dr. Oldman. “You’re forgetting one thing.”

“What is that?” asked Henry as he inched closer to the old man, ready to pounce on him like a leopard.

“You never knew who your father was, but it’s time you know. I created you!”

Henry felt all four of his horse knees buckle and his long face felt light. He stumbled and Dr. Oldman used the opportunity to slip out of the bank and onto the street. By the time Henry recomposed himself, he was alone in the bank.

He looked up at the sky and asked the three gods “Why?” Why did you not tell me?” he wondered to them, but they were silent. The clouds reformed over the sun and it started to rain. Henry was outside, and the rain splattered against his metal exterior and he closed his eyes, waiting for the smell of melting circuits. “I have been defeated,” he thought, as Dr. Oldman mounted the stagecoach and whipped at the horse hostages, and then he said aloud: “Just one last question, doctor.”

“Sure, I don’t see why not.”

“Why did you build me to melt in the rain? It is my greatest weakness.”

The Dr. Oldman laughed. “Oh silly horse, I only built you with one weakness: Love.” The evil scientist howled in laughter as he said “yee haw” and the stagecoach lept to life and tore out of town.

Henry looked around at his metal body. The water beaded up and ran off perfectly, and didn’t get into his fancy electronics at all. “Wow, this whole time, my own self-doubt had been limiting me, but no longer. Today I set things right!”

Henry started to chase after the stagecoach. Though he could run at 60mph, each of the two normal horses could run at 35 mph, giving the stagecoach a top speed of 70mph, which was faster than Henry had ever run. It was faster than anything had ever run. Still, he remembered the lessons of the past, how his own self-doubt had limited him in the face of adversity, and he pushed on.

He checked his heads-up display and saw he was past 60 miles per hour already. The normal horses looked behind themselves and Dr. Oldman panicked when he saw Henry gaining on him.

Henry pulled along side the horses, everybody doing 70 mph. To onlookers it probably looked like the blur of a bumblebee shooting past on its way to return pollen to the nest, but it was actually 3 horses and a man locked in a life-or-death struggle.

“That money doesn’t belong to you, and should go back to the orphans,” said Henry.

“I need this money to build a whole army of robot horses. Henry, you were just the prototype. Imagine all the mechanical horses, but with gatling guns. I see how you are running even faster than I ever dreamed possible, and in a way I am proud of you, but in another way I am disappointed, because your programming was never to do good, but to help with the ways of evil. I knew it was a mistake letting my daughter program you with love in your heart. I hoped you would love doing evil, but instead you care about normal people and normal horses.”

Henry nodded. “Yes, and it will be your downfall.” He stuck one of his orange metal legs through the spokes of the stagecoach and it flipped upside down. The dust cloud was the biggest that had ever been recorded in those parts, and when it settled all that was left was two normal horses, happy to be free, a busted up stagecoach, and a pile of every last stolen dollar. Dr. Oldman had vanished.

“Grrr!” said Henry. “I’ll get you next time!”

Sometimes, when Henry wasn’t paying attention and was just munching grass in the pasture, he would think he heard Dr. Oldman’s creepy laugh on the wind. He always stayed vigilant on the lookout for the mad scientist.

He went over to the normal horses to introduce them to a life of solving crimes instead of committing them, and he was surprised to see that they were both girl horses.

“Oh, sorry, you just ran so fast I assumed you were boys.”

“It’s ok,” said the girl horses as they flirted with their eyelashes. “You were so amazing, and you saved us.”

Henry winked, and they walked slowly back to town during the sunset.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

in

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

Exmond posted:

50% DM rate sucks, crabrock what I gotta do to have TD accidentaly purge all my records.

I'll take a crit, also

Fast Critting, Good Critting

venmo or paypal

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

BeefSupreme posted:

thanks for the above

HEY BEEFSUPREME WHERE IS MY CHRISTMAS STORY

i wait every day by the window hoping it'll show up

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

in

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

We all make mistakes
1097 words

People look back on the stunts of their youth and wonder how they lived to old age, while the young look forward and wonder how boring people managed to live so long.

Ray pumped his brakes of his single-speed BMX bike at the top of the hill and skidded to a stop. He put his untied shoes down on the hot pavement and held his hand up to his unhelmeted head to shield his eyes from the sun. His friends gathered around the bottom of hill, most on the other side of the gulch, but a few standing near the dirt ramp. If he concentrated he could just make out their cheers above the noise of the birds.

The dare started in an argument with his physics tutor.



“... and that’s why nobody has managed to jump Cooper’s Gulch. Even a small child would need a velocity far greater than the approach vector--in this case the hill--provides,” said Danny, the nerdiest kid in school.

“They just need go go faster,” said Ray.

“Yes, that’s what I just said.”

Ray shrugged. “So pedal harder.”

Danny ran his hands through his hair. “The acceleration required to reach minimum viable velocity--”

“I could do it.”

Silence hit the rest of the study hall as people turned their heads.

Ray looked around. “I got the fastest bike in school. I could jump Cooper’s Gulch if I wanted.”

Danny laughed. “Everybody knows you’re fast, Ray, but it’s simply mathematically impossible. They say Chuck’s bike was in 21st gear when they dragged his bike out of the gulch. He couldn’t have been going any faster.”

“His mountain bike was too heavy. Mine’s made for jumps. Didn’t you say something about mass earlier?”

Danny shifted his glasses. “Well, yes, but we’re talking small percentages here.”

“Maybe you forgot a decimal or something.”

Danny looked at his notes. “Look, I don’t come out to the football field and tell you how to get in a line or whatever, don’t come into my study hall and tell me how to calculate trajectory.”

“Ok fine, all I’m saying is I could do it. What’ll give me if I do it?”

“I don’t have anything--” Danny stopped. “No, stay away from Becky.”

Ray smiled. “Look man, your sister is cute, and the only reason she says no is cause you tell her to. I see the way she glances at me. I make the jump, you let me take her to prom.”

“I can’t make those decisions for her.”

“Well at least let me ask her without you warning her away from me.”

“You’ll never make the jump.”

“Then you agree?”

Danny looked around at the silent room. “Ugh fine, if you don’t die you can ask her, but if she says no then stay away from her.”

Ray slapped Danny on the back and laughed. “It’s 2018 man, I’m not gonna creep on her if she says no.”



The wind whipped at Ray’s surfer-length hair as he lined up for the jump. He could just make out Danny shaking his head, standing next to his sister. She had to have heard the rumors, thought Ray. And there she stood with a decision already in her mind. All he had to do is ride down the hill and find out what it was.

He thought about Chuck, sitting on the sidelines of the games with his two broken legs. Maybe his problem wasn’t that clunker of a bike, maybe it was that he had nothing to ride toward.

Ray pushed off and pedaled down the hill. His front tire vibrated as he flew over the asphalt, picking up more and more speed. Tears streaked back the corners of his eyes, wetting the peach fuzz of his unkempt sideburns.

His legs burned as he pedaled. Even drills during the first week of practice didn’t hurt as bad as his legs hurt only half-way down the hill. He coudn’t stop pedaling. He needed the speed.

Ray’s bike didn’t have all the shocks of Chuck’s mountain bike, so there was nothing to absorb the impact of the dirt ramp at the bottom of the hill. He didn’t so much jump as he was thrown into the air by an uncaring earth.

He stared straight ahead, afraid to look down. He’d stood at the edge of the gulch a million times. Hell, it was probably a little less deep because of all the dirt clods he’d thrown in over the years. He didn’t need to look down to know how high he was.

Danny covered his eyes as Ray neared the other side.

Ray wondered midflight if he should attempt something cool, like a little wave. Mostly he was amazed at how long it seemed to take. As soon as he was airborne time slowed down. He hit the peak of his jump and started to fall, and time sped back up as he got closer to the other cliff. He took one hand off the handlebar and waved to Becky.

His front tire hit the dirt with plenty of clearance, but his back tire caught the edge of the ravine. He might have stuck the landing if he’d had both of his hands on the handlebars, but with only half the grip his bike tore from his grasp.

Ray considered how long the time in the air seemed compared to the speed with which he smashed into the ground. He didn’t even have time to flinch before he belly flopped into the grass.

It was quiet again, like at the top of the hill. Ray could see Danny and Becky’s horrified reactions, but he couldn’t hear their gasps. He rolled over onto his back and looked at the sky, struggling to breathe.

He choked on air for a few moments before air finally rushed back into his lungs, and sound returned to the world. It was a mix of gasps, cheers, and applause.

Danny helped Ray sit up.

“Told you I could do it.”

“I don’t know if that counts.”

Danny stood up and brushed the dirt off of his jeans, though the grass stains were more permanent.

“It counts enough. Hey Becky--” Ray stopped to catch his breath. “Prom?”

Becky smiled. She pointed to his mangled bike. “Sure, but we better take my car. I’ll pick you up.”

Ray smiled. “Yeah, good idea.” He turned to Danny to gloat.

Danny looked up from a scrap of paper he’d pulled from his pocket. “Oh, yup, there’s that’s supposed to be a 10, not 100.”

“Decimal?”

“Yeah.”

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

in with the toxxy toxx

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

987 words

O o o o o
Oh plasma burps of a jealous star,
The muddled chagrin of men from afar.
Oh lovely worlds they could only desire,
Wholly perfect apart from the fire.

O o-o o o AD

We’d long forgotten the scientific name of the God Chain, as well as it’s prisoner, the planet we called Angel. The God Chain anchored our world to the inner planet so that they danced through space in synchronous harmony. I live in GC 4,056, a block of apartments about a quarter of the way up the God Chain. Rent’s not bad, and the weightlessness is the only way I can sleep with my bad back. Too many years of hunching over computer terminals, looking for answers.

Then I found them.

I’m about to check my watch when I feel the rumble of the approaching train as it twists down the chain, aided in its planetward plunge by twin rockets. My stomach lurches as my pod leaves the station and quickly matches the falling train. The pod attaches to the train with a thick clunk, as do dozens of others each time it passes a station.

The train hits the upper atmosphere of the planet, and its reentry shield throws fire around us. I clutch my briefcase to my chest in a futile and unnecessary maneuver. The train levels out and glides to a stop near interplanet transit.

My knees are wobbly, both from the train ride and for my presentation to the council. I look back toward Angle and its violent halo. The permanent eclipse is the only thing keeping my overpopulated planet from frying.

There were other worlds in the system, but they all suffered from the violent whims of the star. Shielding even one planet should have been impossible, mathematically speaking. Clouds move in between a mirror satellite that reflects the light and warmth--but not the deadly plasma storms--and I shiver in the sudden coolness.

But we are living proof it was possible, and now I know why. I’m late for my presentation.

O o-o-o o

Hal had reached top of the corporate ladder. He’d started as a lowly dust collector, worked his way up to general manager of a planetite accretion crew, and finally sat on his own miniature moon shackled to the planet below. He leaned on the window, looking down at the twinkling lights of a hundred cities.

He thought there must not be a species anywhere among the stars that experienced the prosperity of theirs when they lassoed another planet. A hundred trains moved back and forth between the two planets every minute. They’d outdone their forgotten predescers. Even they had not been able to shield more than one planet, and now there were two.

The second world hid vast mineral deposits beneath its molten surface, and as soon as they’d cooled it down and introduced the first plants, it’d been a runaway success. The jungles were thick, the agriculture almost wasteful in its abundance. The citizens wanted for nothing.

But Hal wanted something.

He returned to his desk and pulled up the hologram of the system. He’d worked the math over a thousand times in his head. They could get the third planet. Rope it up like the others. They didn’t need it, but Hal wanted it. It would be his legacy. A thousand little moons dotting the sky with thin tethers and personal elevators weren’t what inspired him to study chains in university. They weren’t what made him claw his way to the top.

The real technological marvels were the big chains. Thicker than cities, they had their own ecosystems, political movements, monuments and cultures. They were worlds unto themselves, and the basis of their whole species.

Until the last planet was similarly ensnared, it would look back at the inhabitants of the three worlds and laugh. Hal did not like being mocked.

They could get the third planet.

O o-o-o-o

The last of the atmosphere pumps have shut down, so there’s nothing to do but wait. Looking back at the triple eclipse of the dead worlds reminds us of what’s to come, so instead we look outward. On the end of the Feynman chain we’re being slung through the cosmos so fast that each particle of stellar dust hits what’s left of the atmosphere like a tiny nuke. These breathtaking-cum-apocalyptic starbursts in the night sky shower us with a rain of light each time one pops. Supercharged photos flitter to the ground. Kids run and clap at them like they were bubbles.

Each dust particle that explodes in the sky blasts off magnitudes more atmosphere on the other side of the planet. They said it was miniscule, until a year later when we hit the debris left behind by our own world. We were caught in an exponential feedback loop, and every year more dust ejected more of our atmosphere, and each trip around the star bombarded us with ever more.

The star had stripped the original planet of its atmosphere, but we pumped it back in. Now it was the only thing keeping the dust from obliterating the surface. We’d left such a wake that as soon as the last of the atmosphere vaporized, the supersonic dust would begin smashing into the ground. Then the little lightshow wouldn’t be so harmless.

I hold my wife’s face in my hands as her lips are dappled by falling light. “I love you,” I say as the first dust particle hits the surface.

O o-o-o x

O o-o x x

O o x x x

O x x x x





O ⚬ o o o O ⊚ o o

“False alarm, real planets have a predictable period. They transit their star and we measure the dip in starlight. Got some weird readings there at the end, but now it’s shining steady. Probably somebody using the microwave. Too bad, thought we had something.”

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

octopuses are fuckin' weak. ain't even got backbones. birds are descended from dinosaurs.

in for team bird

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5782&...t+In+The+Palace

http://crabrock.net/thirdreading.m4a

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

in

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

Please don't ban me
767 words

Coorsley had an important flute recital the same day his flute starting playing only ooze. He hadn’t done anything to it, he just woke up the day of the concert, gave his flute a good tootin’, and instead of a beautiful, flutey sound, there was only ooze.

*gloop*

“Well this is bad,” he said, but he wasn’t worried. The flute repair store was nearby, and he was a frequent customer on account of his flute being cursed. He wiped his flute with a clean handkerchief and packed it into its crushed velvet-lined case.

He walked down the street whistling a jaunty tune that belied the horror he carried.

“Hey Coorsley,” said the postman. “Ready for your big concert today?”

“My spirt is prepared, but my flute is oozing.”

“Birds flying out of it again?”

“Nope, no birds. Just ooze.”

The postman frowned. “Well that sound disgusting.”

“It is much grosser than birds.”

The birds were kind of gross, because of all the pooping, but the ooze smelled bad.

Coorsley continued: “The ooze smells bad.”

“Like what?”

“Just kind of a non-descript stink. Like the inside of your belly button after a long hike.”

The postman wrinkled his nose. “Taking it down to JoBoMoRo’s Flute Shop?”

“Yes. By the way, do you have any packages for me?”

“No.”

“Please let me know if my flute de-oozer comes in.”

“When did you order it?”

“Three days ago. I had a feeling about the ooze. It’s always something with this cursed flute.”

The postman held up his finger like he had a bright idea. “What if you didn’t have a cursed flute, but just a normal flute?”

“But then I couldn’t play beautiful music because I made that deal with that witch.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right. Well, I should finish delivering all these packages.”

“Yes, the witch will get angry if you are late again.”

The postman got back into his pumpkin and drove away.

Coorsley walked the rest of the way to the flute shop with a little skip in his step. He was so happy to be out in the sunshine, it was a really nice day and there were a lot of birds singing (not living inside his flute), and it general it was just a really nice day.

The door did that little jingle bell thing when he walked in, and O.L.A.F., the flute repair robot came out from the back.

“Good morning, Coorsley. Flute badoops again?”

“Yeah, it be badoopin’ when it should be a flutin’. Ooze comin’ out of all the holes, even the mouthpiece. I got some in my mouth. It tastes like sweet strawberry wine, but it smells terrible.”

O.L.A.F.’s hands turned into screwdrivers that were perfectly flute sized. “I’ll have it hollerin’ that flutey sound sans ooze quicker than you can say ‘10 Hello World GO TO 10.’” He winked a robotic wink. *clunk*. He had very heavy eyelids.

Coorsley tapped his foot in rhythm while the robot hammered on the flute with the screwdrivers in the same beat. It was real funky fresh and passers-by nodded their heads and said stuff like “Oh yeah.”

Finally after about five hours the robot was finished.

“Here, I’m done. I’ve deoozed it. The problem was you had an oozer stuck right up in there, and I yanked it out. Now I have it on the inside of that piano to give it an unlimited lifetime supply of piano grease.”

The store’s resident pianist belted out a quick ditty that sounded greasily fantastic. “Smooth.”

“Thanks O.L.A.F., just in time for my big concert.”

Coorsley took possession of the flute and headed towards the concert hall. He changed into his tux in the public bathrooms near the venue, and then headed straight to the main stage.

“This is my song I wrote, he said to the quiet audience.” He played it, and it was beautiful.

The witch was in the crowd, and she was proud of him. So many people she had traded abilities for a curse had spent all their time fighting the curse, or trying to kill her, and never really just leaned into it. She nodded at Coorsley, and he nodded back. After all the applause he invited her onto the stage and gave her a red rose of appreciation.

The end.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

i will judge as penance for my thunderdome slackery the last few months.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

the best place to respond to crits is in your next story, by thinking about the crit and making your writing better.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

yeah maybe you'll make me mad and i'll scream at you

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

wait what the gently caress

edit: i have figured out what the gently caress

crabrock fucked around with this message at Jul 30, 2018 around 14:43

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

had my 6 yo nephew legit convinced i was a werewolf and he was too scared to go to sleep in my apt the night of the full moon.


anyway in and were-rule plz

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

nah he still had tyran as his winner in his initial judgeblitz

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

in probably who knows anymore

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

This is my life now
1411 words

It’s a hell of a thing, seeing your child’s chest splayed open and their tiny heart thumping away. And every few beats it stops, skips one like it’s a monotonous chore. He always did hate brushing his teeth before bed. He’s laying there on the table, three pairs of surgeons’ hands inside him and all I can think is that I hope his breath doesn’t stink.

Thump. Thump. I don’t wanna. Thump. Thump. But I’m not tired. Thump. Thump. Can I do it tomorrow?

They attach the device. Gonna shock him back to life whenever he dies a bit. Like a little frankenstein kid made of electricity and dead parts, only they’re his own. It’s fancy, like got a fuckin’ app and everything. Let’s me check up on him even if he’s running around the zoo or out on the soccer field reminding me to invest in his education cause drat that kid can’t kick poo poo.

And I check that app like every second. It’s right next to all the other apps I shouldn’t check every few minutes but I can’t stop. Like it’s some celebrity’s twitter or stupid videos of people falling off rope swings, only it’s my kid’s heart. It’s fuckin addictive, checkin’ on your kid to make sure he’s alive. Every time I get a buzz I think: “this is it.” I hate most other people now, cause every time they tag me in a photo or include me in a group all I hear is buzz buzz buzz your kid is dead.

And maybe that’s where we’d be, me silencing all my notifications and relaxing a little bit, but then the app starts malfunctioning.

Sends me a notification when my kid’s sleeping. I rush him to the hospital. “He’s fine,” they said. “The app didn’t send anything.” I swear it did though. I tell them exactly what it said, word for word. “Automatic defilbilaration activated. Rush to hospital.” They show me the database. No alerts.

They ask me how much sleep I’ve had. Ok, ok. Maybe I’ve stayed up too late. But I turned off the notifications. I can sleep now. We go home, and I’m gonna sleep, I promise, I’m like most of the way there when my phone buzzes. “Cardiac failure imminent.”

We’re back at the hospital, and everything’s fine. “Not even a thing the app can detect,” they say. They’re looking at me like I need a little hospital visit. I’m not crazy, it said it. I swear. They set us up in a room so they can monitor everything. Jason sleeps through most of it, which is good, cause I don’t need him seeing me yellin’ at his doctors and what not.

They set me up with a cot next to him, and I sleep a few hours. Right when I wake up I used to read the news, see all the hosed up stuff that happened since I fell asleep. Now I just scroll through EKGs and look for any hiccoughs. Nothing. Still hosed up though.

On the car ride home Jason is bouncing all around, looking out the window. “Look dad, a helicopter!” he says. I swallow a lump in my throat. Some parent probably getting an alert on their phone telling them their kid’s an organ donor now. And the whole time he’s peering into the sky, craning his neck to try to see better out the window I’m just hoping the excitement isn’t gonna make his heart explode.

We get back home and he’s lying on the floor coloring in the book full of dumb bible stories his grandma sent when my phone buzzes on the counter. I look over at him. He’s clearly not dead. Just kicking his little feet in the air like nothing’s the matter. My hands are shaking. I put them in my pockets.

“Hey buddy, how ya’ feelin’?”

“Fine.”

“Want a quesadilla?”

“Ok.”

Wait poo poo, we can’t use the microwave anymore. My phone’s notification light blinks, begging me to pick it up. It buzzes again. I stand looking at him, a block of cheese in my hand. Still not dead. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s not dead, but what the hell.

I make the quesadilla on the stove, and after the third try I manage not to burn one and he’s eating it and gently caress it I’ll just see what my phone says. I didn’t freak out, I’m ok. Definitely not crazy, but maybe there’s one other app I missed.

I unlock my phone and nothing. No notifications, no missed messages. Then, when I’m staring right at it it flashes me a message. “Defibrillation failed.” I look at Jason but he’s stretching melted cheese between his fingers and dangling it into his mouth. I look back at my phone but there’s nothing. It didn’t even vibrate.

Ok so maybe I’m a little crazy.

The next few weeks are like that. I catch glimpses of messages saying he’s dying, if only for a split second as I turn off my phone, or out of the corner of my eye I see the notification light blinking, but when I look at it it’s not.

The doctor’s say maybe it’s better if they do remote monitoring. We delete the phone off my app. I can call in at any time they said and ask for an update. Every time I do they say everything’s normal.

But the messages don’t stop. Just little flashes here and there. Like seeing a man standing in the corner of your room, only when you do a double take it’s your hat stand. But you can’t just laugh this off. Every time my heart races, thinking he’s about to die. They said there’s no way of knowing how long the thing will last. Maybe they do a few replacements and he lives until he’s 100. Maybe his heart is stubborn and refuses to restart and he dies next week. There’s really no way to know, they said. The best thing to do is just live your life normally and forget about it. But the phone doesn’t let you forget. It keeps reminding you. Keeps buzzing and then pretending like it didn’t buzz. Pretends like it doesn’t have some little trojan horse sending you little freak out messages. Pretending like your own heart is beating a little too fast a little too often these days.

I get one of those old phones, you know the kind you can only use for phone calls and texts. I set it on my nightstand and I give it a stern warning. “Now I’m going to sleep, so don’t even gently caress with me,” I said. I’m almost too tired to sleep. I just lay in my bed and hallucinate like my brain starts dreaming before I can lose consciousness and I never quite get there but I lose hours of time and feel like I must have dozed off, but I don’t feel like I did, and every gap in time is punctuating by a phantom buzzing, like even now the app reaches out and taunts me from this relic of technology past, like some god drat electron ghost.

Thump. Thump. You know I hate vegetables. Thump. Thump. It was an accident. Thump. Thump. Daddy, why do I feel funny?

Thump thump thump. I sit up in bed, cold sweat stinging my eyes. Light filters through the curtains and there’s pounding at the door. Thump thump thump. The phone is buzzing on my nightstand. I grab it and flip it open with one hand. Seven missed calls from the remote monitoring facility. I nearly trip over my pajama bottoms pulling them up as I race out of my bedroom. For a moment I freeze: do I run down the hall to my son, or to the door to let the paramedics in. If it’s not already too late. I don’t even know CPR. I run to the door.

I throw it open and the light hits me in the face like a well aimed free kick but there’s nobody there. I squint, looking for the sirens, the gurney.

“Can Jason play?” I look down at the little poo poo from next door.

“It’ll be ok, dad,” says Jason, standing behind me. “I’ll just be right next door.”

I look at my phone. No missed calls. I throw it against the wall and sink to my knees. My heart flutters.

Thump. Thump.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

Haha, sorry ol chill bones

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

in

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCzvR-9QJNg

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

speaking of secret santa i sure am still waiting for my story from last year.

*looks up*

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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

ho ho ho

in with

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