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Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Aesclepia posted:

I'll fight you, failure. Oh, and here's the :toxx:

apophenium posted:

Let's spill some blood. :toxx:

Hello, my name is chili, and I'll be your fudge.

Right now, I'm on a really horrible diet because I feel unhealthy. I can't eat anything that tastes good and my life is stupid. This causes my mind to drift. I think about horrible foods that I shouldn't eat and I feel all the worse for it.

I'm giving you babbies 1000 words and a deadline of 1/22/18 11:59 EST to write me a story about indulgence. The story can be about a syntonic serial killer, a binge eater, an adrenaline junkie... what the gently caress ever. Just give me characters who's willpower is worse than mine so that I can feel better in comparison. Got it?

Also, if you slovenly shitlords want more words, you can ask your opponent for a brutal flash rule. Doing so will net you a cool 500 bonus words. If they provide you with a flashrule, you'll have to incorporate their flash rule into your piece. If they don't? Well, enjoy your 500 words.

Now go, get out of here before I change my mind.

Chili fucked around with this message at 18:10 on Jan 15, 2018


Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Indulgence Brawl: Results

I wanted indulgence. I got poo poo. Seriously. I got poo poo. If you’re reading this now, go read my prompt, then read these two opening paragraphs:

“A loving ant bit me on my god damned balls. I saw it and its comrades meandering the bathroom tiles when I went to poo poo but the poo poo was too urgent. But then one bit me on my god damned balls, right in the middle of my stressful poo poo. “

“Patrick had never seen a better place to poop than this. It was behind the Main Street bank, shielded from the cross-street by the dumpster, but tantalizingly visible from one sliver of an angle of Main Street itself. The low end of a retaining wall from the parking lot came right up to the spot: perfect for steadying one rear end-cheek.”

How and why did this happen? I’m afraid I forgot where I was. I’m in a magical place where, no matter what you ask for, it is unwise to assume that any effort shall not wind up in a fecular zone of nightmares. Normally, this would be where the judge laments the horrible state of thunderdome, but honestly, at this point, I just blame Lowtax.

Or maybe it's because I called you both shitlords.

Anyhow, the words from your poo poo geysers only merely coated the prompt in toxic sludge. I’ve decided to just abandon prompt coherence in favor of which story was better.

But ‘better’ is a dangerous word to use when judging the ninja-making GBS threads vs. the ball-biting.

Both of these stories went for comedy. One kinda worked, one didn’t.

Aesclepia, I don’t know what you were setting out to accomplish here. I didn’t care about Patrick, and nothing about this was particularly funny or enjoyable. You used the word poop 7 times making your story 600 some word story over 1% stooled. I also don’t know why you use the word poop so much and used the word poo poo in your title.

Apophenium, I enjoyed your character’s enjoyment. He set out to do things, and I understood why, and when he did those things, he did them with glee. Perhaps, then, you did also address the prompt.

This wasn’t a terribly close call: Apophenium wins.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Ok good little boys and girls, it looks like it's time to wrap up Secret Santa!

It was a bunch of fun organizing things for y'all. Thank you to those who participated, and extra special thank you to those who trusted me with your valuable personal information. I can assure you I received top dollar for it on the dark web.

As this was a new thing, there were some hitches. But, overall, everything seemed to go pretty smoothly.

By my count, everyone has, at this point, received something OR their santa has communicated to them, through me, that they are still intending to send something. If you are a santee who has not received something, please let me know via PM or over on IRC.

Here's who got who, the person at the top sent presents to the person right below them. The list was randomized:

Also, if you have any feedback, please feel free to contact me directly or again, hop over to IRC.

And finally, it might be fun to share some of the stories you got from your santa. I'll be uploading Curlingiron's story in full when I can properly take all of the pictures. Remember, the gift recipient is the person who decides if the story goes up or not.

Happy TDSS, and I hope to see you all next December!

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

I will have all of my crits from weeks 257 & 269 posted by 2/6 :toxx:

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Here's some late crits that aren't very good.

The last of the yellow crits (week 269)

Basically had to go back and reread everything since it’s been so long.

Okua’s - Shared between us

Not sure if you chose to title your story incorrectly or if you just didn’t know better. I see no stylistic benefit. So maybe don’t do that.

Polish issues in the first paragraph confirm my suspicion about your titlte. Missing a pretty important comma after Olive. Makes it look like one of your characters names is Olive Munching.

Overall this feels well thought out and intended but not entirely well executed. I don’t think this needs to be as long as it is, and a lot of your problems seem to come in the form of unclear, and often unecessary blocking. Little things like “he brushed his teeth and smelled his breath,” add up and eat into your word count without accomplishing much.

My initial comments, for judging stated “Wanted to care more about these characters and their relationship.” I felt that way going through it again now. I have a decent idea of who they are but I want to have more reasons to root for or against them.

Magnificient7’s Sleep Song Somniloquy

Boy does this ending ruin any potential the story had. You take so long getting there and then bam all that poo poo happens in like 3 sentences. Overall, this wasn’t terribly memorable. The story reads relatively easily and you don’t have much in the way of technical problems but it’s all relatively flatley presented and objectively told from your narrator. Grief stories are tricky that way; I kinda like seeing more from characters and what’s going on with them when they’re processing heavy stuff.

Fuschia tude’s Dim Procession

Another baggy, and longwinded piece that’s hard to get too excited over. It’s largely objective, much like many of the other stories from this week and doesn’t really make much of a mark. Your characters have to show their feelings or attitudes more than they are. Not just for the sake of us caring about them, but about the stuff happening around them as well. My initial judging comment for this was ‘fine’ and that’s pretty much how I feel now. Do better than fine.

blue square’s A Crack Begins to Form

Your piece’s tone stood out. The overall positive feel was welcome. I didn’t have much to say about this one. Your prose was consistent and this had probably the best dialogue of the week. As a story, maybe a little underdeveloped and I think you probably could have edited this down to 80% of its current word count. But otherwise, a solid entry.

Benny Profane’s Passion Hides in Painted Smiles

Another good piece. Well deserving of an HM. I dug the structural shift. Of all of the stories this week that directly involved an actual play, this did that job the best. I’m also kind of a sucker for cruise ships in writing after I read that David Foster Wallace article so I might have been biased. Well done, regardless.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe


Original Prankster, The Offspring

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

More bad crits from a bad man.

Week #257: No failing wizard week

No Fail/Wizard Week.

The Shape-Shifter’s Child

My notes for this were “pretty and succinct” and I largely stand by that. Your prose made this a joy to read and you didn’t waste any time accomplishing a good bit. In a less positive week this could’ve HM’d.

The Apprentice

A hot mess. This is absolutely loaded with passive voice, clunky prose. Your ending isn’t earned and not much is accomplished throughout the story. “He took a step forwards, as many do before the unknown, careful, slow; arms out, reaching, searching, testing.” There are just messy sentences strewn about the story like this that bog it down and make it difficult to digest and parse. Read your words out loud if you want them to sound better.

Impatient Oaths

Had this pegged as a DM on my first read and when I go through it now, I see why. The stakes aren’t here, and overall it’s a hard piece to follow. There are some blocking/clarity issues that need addressing and would likely have been handled with a few editing passes.


The abuse stuff in this hit hard but I think a fair bit of it was earned through sheer shock. Still, very strong story with a solid ending. Your imagery is good, it made me shudder and this is one of the few stories that I immediately remembered when I read the title. So hey, you made something memorable. That alone is an accomplishment.

Let the shadows reign

The strength of this piece was its clarity. A story about a somewhat complicated power that was made very easy to follow. I like how you played to your wizard’s weakness and made the story mostly about that. His victory felt earned because we saw him suffer. But otherwise, there wasn’t much here to compel me. Just kind of a middle of the road micro-story.


I didn’t go for this quite like my fellow co-judges did. I didn’t have it as a low down entry, but it just felt a little flowery and dispassionate to my ear. I think starting the story with the “didn’t” motif would have made it a bit more lyrical and heavy. Even if you took your third paragraph, which is just one line, and started the story that way, you would have intrigued me more. As it was, the opening paragraph just felt like a whole lot and made say out loud “oh boy, here we go”.

Wizardbro Subculture

A fun read, to be sure, and the voice in this is consistent, but that’s about it. It’s largely uneven and I didn’t care about much as I read this, I was just kind OK to be on the ride. A good thing for a td entry in a somewhat heavy week, so thanks for that at least. Overall, though, I think you know what did here, and it at least seemed like you had fun doing it.

A Call to the Restoration Crew

I kinda liked this one, the M&M tattoo was a good idea, but it was kind of a mystery/whodunnit and it didn't quite work. The intention of the piece didn’t feel all that clear to me. The somewhat lack of an ending helps make this fall kinda flat and lands it in the unforgettable. But hey, a good idea is still worth applauding and the high-concept parts of this story work well.

The Satanists

There’s a surprising glut of band stories in TD. Feel like most weeks there’s usually one in there somewhere. They’re nearly always bad. This one wasn’t. It had a Stephen King kind of vibe to its tone and I was into it. The descriptions of the concert/action, in general, kept me engaged and I enjoyed this from start to finish. I lobbied hard for this one to HM, but it was not meant to be.

The Wizard’s Hoard

I wanted so much more from this. I was dreading a dark and gut-wrenching ending and yet I read it and my guts remained in place and intact. I was doubly upset to learn that it was you who wrote this because i’ve seen you pull of hopeless/tragic endings masterfully in entries past. This all ends up being about not much at all. She doesn’t really go through all that much, just kinda witnesses stuff and in the end, everything just sorta works out. Meh.


I don’t know how a story with so many cool things in it ends up being boring, but here we are. If anything betrayed you here, it was likely the relatively objective/flat prose. The story was also baggy, with lots of things we don’t really need slowing down the already pretty slow pace. Ask yourself what this paragraph accomplishes and if it’s needed at all: “The curtain blew in the breeze from the open window and I moved to it. No, not open. Glass glinted from the ground below. I saw the hitching posts where horses must have been tied. There were several frayed ropes hanging loose, swaying in the breeze, and many hoofprints leading south through the muck. But I had no need for horses.”

Minding the gap

This got the dreaded ‘glaze-over-award’ from me. I tried reading it again just now and I couldn’t do it again. I’m having a hard time following this and offering up much of any reason why. Perhaps I can’t figure out what’s going on. But hey, that makes me feel like my grandfather, who liked to ask “who’s the goody and who’s the baddy?” When we watched movies together. And I miss my grandfather a lot, so thank you for reminding me of my grandfather.

Diamonds are a Wizard’s Biggest Headache

My initial notes for this were: “Think I liked this one more than I should have. It started out strong, but then I realized that the introduction actually wasted a lot of time? And then the ending was bad I think? But I liked it. I don't know how to feel anymore. Help.” But upon returning to judge these months later, this like Protean before it, was one of the few stories that I actually remember. I remember the high concept bit of it and I remember enjoying. So hey, staying power!

The Dream Taker

A very not-so-subtle approach to this week. Has a very “You’re a wizard, Harry” vibe to it. Not sure why it’s helpful or good to basically watch our protag go through the tutorial of their powers, even if it all ends up being a ruse, it’s not particularly fun or engaging up to the point so when the twist hits, it’s kinda too little, too late.. Start where things actually get interesting


A chore to get through, this didn’t have the kind of hook to it that I’ve you incorporate into other entries. The prose mostly fell flat and there were some clarity issues with who these people were and what their blocking was that kept this in the realm of unfun.

Bambina Loca

Made me laugh in parts but there was a distinct lack of clarity that prevented me from engaging with the story. This was largely disjointed and the ending made me feel like you didn’t care. Think I laughed and got lost in equal parts through this one, so I guess that ain’t all bad.

The Alter on the Mount

Oh, right, this one. Yeah, I remember this one and all of its not named characters. This was an easy-as-hell pick for the loss. The prose was terribly clunky and there were an unacceptably large amount of proofing errors. For someone with 30 + entries, you should probably know better by now. As a rule, if it looks like someone didn’t spend time cleaning up their story, I’d rather not spend a whole lot of time critting it.

From Death

Second only to the winner this week in characterizing the wizard. This was a good, compelling piece of fiction that was elevated by the perception and weight of good consequences. The tale was visceral, spooky, and the atmosphere popped right off the page. A solid entry.


Baggy. I actually remember starting crits a bit ago for this week and you were RNG’d first. I began deleting large chunks of the story and found that much of it read the same way to me. Overall, it was a fine read but I think if there’s a persistent crit I have of your word it would be that you do tend to go for more than you need to, wordcount wise.

Luck Be A Lady

This piece earned its W. The strongest characterization of the week, set in a perfect depiction of Vegas. It certainly helped your case that anything about Vegas is usually an instant interest catcher for me, but this story stands up anyway. I liked how the scale of the story was on the smaller side, yet the stakes were there and the burn stings in the end.

Chili fucked around with this message at 05:25 on Feb 7, 2018

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Week 288
Song Choice: Original Prankster, The Offspring

I Am Melinda
1,167 Words

The world around you is incomplete. Not invalid, just not all there. Do you think we’re the only ones who think? That we’re the only ones with empathy?




All think. They all think and feel as much as any of us. How do I know? I’m the only person who knows anything.

I’m 5. My parents are fighting, something gets thrown at me. I go outside. Lightning hits me, or something. I can’t be sure. I don’t remember.

Bam! Just like that, I’m connected to it all. I see it everything, and I’m the only person who knows anything. I see the joys and pains of the universe. Of it all. It’s not that I don’t see your feelings, or have my own, they’re just insignificant.

It’s kind of like that when you know everything. You sense the pains and joys of all organisms, and suddenly hominid concerns barely register. Take for example the peril of a grasshopper stuck in a spider’s web; the dread of the grasshopper and the guilt of the spider. Such drama and gravitas, because it’s all life and death. So I’m aware of you, and I’m aware of that. You’ll forgive me if my preferences err toward the interesting.


I don’t mind my residency at the Transitioning Teens Center. I’ve been made to understand that the piles of cells around me all have thoughts and feelings and that these thoughts and feelings are of greater import than what my therapist refers to as my “fantasy operations.”

These people become my friends in the same way that the drain flies have become my friends. I’ve existed here for some time. The routine is clear, simple, and doesn’t get in my way. Sometimes, a fat girl punches me. She tells me I’m her nemesis. She tells me that I’m a “high-level bitch.” Nothing in comparison to the semelparity nature of the mayfly’s reproduction method.

I see color for the first time today. Since that night with the storm or whatever. The color was on a balloon. A balloon blown up by the fat girl. I hold up the balloon to a window in the dayroom and compare it to the piles of cells that resemble a tree. Trees are green, right? Well, the balloon looks like the color that the tree might be. So, we’ll call the balloon green. I take it to a staff member.

“This is green,” I say to him, as I place the balloon in his hands.

“Yes! Yes, it is!” He says with a pandering, over-the-top sense of wonder. He thinks I’m an idiot. I try harder.

“I haven’t seen color since I was 5! Now I see that this balloon is green!”

“Are you hearing things again?” He asks with a frowning look of concern. “Is Melinda talking to you?”

I smile at him. “I am Melinda, silly!”

I take the balloon out of his hands and skip to my room, I hear people rushing behind me. I slam the door shut and prop up a chair under the knob. I rest the balloon on my desk and sit down in front of it.

“Hello,” I say.

It doesn’t respond. Even if it did, I’d struggle to hear much over the insane prattling from the staff and peers as they pound on my door:

“You know you’re not allowed to keep your door closed!” Mr. Whoever shouts.

“Please, we’re all worried about you!” A girl pleads.

The door jiggles, but the chair continues to provide protection.

“Would you like a name?” I ask the balloon as I bat it up into the air.

It lazily floats down, onto my bed, and says nothing. The door begins to shake, and I know I only have a few moments left until they’re in my room. Once they are, I’ll probably lose it. I fumble with the knot at the end of the balloon. It feels like its about to give way when I realize that I accidentally tore a hole in the stem of the knot. Air rushes out of the balloon carrying with it a voice:

“Please, love me. Please help me.” It’s the fat girl’s voice. The balloon is filled with it.

“Why do you call me the fat girl? I have a name, you know. ”

It must sense my thoughts.

“Sorry,” I respond.

The balloon continues to leak and speak. “You ruined my party, you know.”

“Oh, sorry. Well, what can I do?”

“Just be my friend.” The balloon states.

It’s half its size now.

“Your friend? But why---”

“You’re not alone.” The balloon interrupts.

“What?I never said---”

“You feel alone. You see everything and feel none of it. Bust out on that. No one is alone.”

The balloon is empty. It no longer has a voice. Suddenly, I feel trapped. I tie the rubber of the balloon around my left hand and look toward the window.


“Kima, can you talk to me?”

Leslie is a sweet therapist; might even be a good one. But, this is all still so embarrassing. I take a deep breath and try.

“I just don’t remember that much.”

“When did Melinda take over, how did you get to that space?”

I look down at my hands in my lap, the knuckles on my left hand are bloody from punching at the glass.

“I don’t know.”

Ms. Leslie looks back at me. I know what her next question is going to be.

“Can I take a stab here?” She asks.

I nod.

“This happened during Jeanette's birthday party, right?” She asks.

“Yeah, I think so, she turned 16.”

“So, where was the unit’s attention?”

“Look, Ms. Leslie. I see what you’re saying, but do you think I’m that starved for attention?”

“Not you, maybe but…”


She nods. “It’s just a thought, Kima.”

Ms. Leslie is trying something called ‘parts-work’ on me. She’s explained it to me over and over again, and though she insists it’s very mature and even something she does with her therapist, it feels like it's pretend time in preschool. There’s some part in me called ‘Melinda,’ and she acts out when she senses I’m hurt.

“So what now?” I ask. “Like, even if you’re right, what am I supposed to do about that?”

Ms. Leslie laughs, “You already know. You found a way to get everything you needed during your crisis.”

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“You heard the words you needed to hear. You might’ve gotten there in a….” she tilts her head back and forth and finishes her thought “...unconventional way. But, you got there.”

“I don’t get it.”

“You will. I know you will.” She finishes as she looks up at the clock.

“Is it time already?” I ask.

“It is.” She responds. “But, don’t worry. You’ve got this, ‘K.” She puts her hand on my shoulder.

“Do you believe me?” She asks.

“Yeah, I don’t know if I believe myself, but I can borrow your belief for now.”

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Good crittin' up in here; thank you Fuschia and doof!

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe



Chili fucked around with this message at 22:26 on Feb 17, 2018

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

curlingiron posted:

If y’all need another Seattle team member, I can make the drive up throw my hat in. Not sure if there are other goons in closer proximity who would better serve, though.

The more the merrier. Pretty sure the needlepeeple count you as one of their own.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Entry into the international megabrawl is now closed! I'll wait until the deadline for this week I wake up to post the new brawl post with all of the spiffy info you'll need.


Chili fucked around with this message at 05:09 on Feb 19, 2018

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Eh, I'm up now; let’s get this international megabrawl going!

This brawl shall include:

Defenders of the Shire:

  • sebmojo
  • steeltoedsneakers
  • Yoruichi
  • SurreptitiousMuffin
  • Morning Bell
  • Fumblemouse
  • newtestleper

Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Starbucks Mori:

  • Sitting Here
  • Jay W. Friks
  • Dr. Kloctopussy
  • CantDecideOnAName
  • Uranium Phoenix
  • curlingiron
  • Nethilia

Below is the pool of cryptids from which each team will be choosing. One member of each team must claim each cryptid. This needs to be done by 2/20 at 11:59pm EST.  Feel free to strategize with your team about who picks what/goes up against who, but as soon as a cryptid is claimed in thread, it’s locked.

  • Akkorokamui - Claimed by Sitting Here & sebmojo THEME WORD: FIRE

  • Flatwoods Monster - Claimed by curlingiron & Fumblemouse - THEME WORD: SPARKLE

  • Loch Ness Monster - Claimed by CantDecideOnAName & Morning Bell - THEME WORD: SPIRIT

  • Manananggal - Claimed by Uranium Phoenix & SureptitiousMuffin - THEME WORD: WATER

  • Man-eating Tree - Claimed by Jay W. Friks & steeltoedsneakers - THEME WORD: AIR

  • Tikbalang - Claimed by Dr. Kloctopussy & Yoruichi - THEME WORD: EARTH

  • Wolpertinger - Claimed by Nethilia & newtestleper - THEME WORD: CHAOS

Your story must show the influence of your selected beastie, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be directly included.

Additionally, after all cryptids have been distributed, each pair will be given a one-word theme to help color their stories. Said word will be somewhat loose and not all that restrictive.  

While you’ll be going head to head against an opponent, the ruling on which team wins will be based on an aggregate of overall quality.

Your brawl entries are due by March 1st, 11:59pm EST, and you have 1,000 words to make something memorable.  If you toxxed in, you know what’s at stake. Please keep in mind, I also have a box of shameful avatars that I’m ready to slap on the rear end of anyone who lets their team down.

Now go.


Chili fucked around with this message at 06:01 on Feb 20, 2018

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Sh, wolpertinger goes to you. Stated in the prompt, once it's claimed, it's locked. It's advised that y'all talk your choices out to avoid further mishaps.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Oh Jesus Christ now y'all picked based on who incorrectly picked things..... Uch.

Ok sh, your edit counts since ntl picked to go up against a person who picked the other thing...

Grrr. No more of that though. When a thing is picked, it goes to that person.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Jay W. Friks posted:

What's left to choose from in the cryptids pool? The above conversation is slightly confusing.

Prompt post is updated.

The kiwis are all locked in, they win a minor victory for doing so first.

There are three coffeesippers left to choose their beastie.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

And that locks in Canty for the Loch Ness Monster.

Alrighty everyone, be on the lookout for your theme word, probably later today.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Theme Words:

  • Akkorokamui - Claimed by Sitting Here & sebmojo THEME WORD: FIRE

  • Flatwoods Monster - Claimed by curlingiron & Fumblemouse - THEME WORD: SPARKLE

  • Loch Ness Monster - Claimed by CantDecideOnAName & Morning Bell - THEME WORD: SPIRIT

  • Manananggal - Claimed by Uranium Phoenix & SureptitiousMuffin - THEME WORD: WATER

  • Man-eating Tree - Claimed by Jay W. Friks & steeltoedsneakers - THEME WORD: AIR

  • Tikbalang - Claimed by Dr. Kloctopussy & Yoruichi - THEME WORD: EARTH

  • Wolpertinger - Claimed by Nethilia & newtestleper - THEME WORD: CHAOS

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Thanks for the crits, super helpful!

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

That's nice.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe


Chili posted:

Your brawl entries are due by March 1st, 11:59pm EST, and you have 1,000 words to make something memorable.

Is pretty soon!

As this is a direct, in some ways head-to-head competition, we're gonna be pretty strict on that deadline.

Don't go faffin' about; get those words in.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Eeee I'm a judge now. I want to flash people

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Also, I owed Exmond a crit. Week 288: Story of a Muse

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Yo exmond, Kaishai pointed out to me that all of my comments on your crit were invisible. Sorry, I didn't shaft you with just one thing at the bottom. You can probably go back and check it now for more detail.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Oh, and:

Crain posted:


Flash me with some 80's garbage.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Crain posted:

Lol double flash rule. I’ll take it.

You said some!

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

BabyRyoga posted:

OK, i'll take a 3rd flash for the trifecta

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

CascadeBeta posted:

Gimmie a second flash rule so I can narrow my focus a bit.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

OK folks, here’s a link to my crits. If you want to see comments on your stories, as I read them, go here:

For the lazy, here are my final thoughts, which you can find at the bottom of each story on the posted link above.

The Chain:

There were problems with this. Too many characters, some clarity issues, flat prose, and a relatively unfocused story. The good news, however, is that this is a nifty idea and it’s handled relatively well. The potential I see in this story is it being told from a first person POV with just one character dealing with it. I can imagine it being a much stronger, clearer, entry that way. But, what we have here is still OK. Not bad, could see it HM’ing if the other judges are willing to overlook some of its shortcomings.

Aro Street Gothic

I mean come on, is that really supposed to be a punchline? This is just a E/N room mate story. You told it well and all but what was its function? Meh.

Going Home

Ehhhh, OK. I guess I kinda liked this? I’m not one for stories that just kinda take an event a provide an out-of-nowhere explanation for them. But, I guess it’s OK? At the very least, a character faces their past/weaknesses so you accomplished that much. This wasn’t fully polished, but then, many entrants were this week. This is a pretty solid No Mention for me, but if it connected with someone, I could see it HM’ing and I wouldn’t fight that.

Count your nuggets before they’re dipped

I mean… what is this? It’s barely even a vignette. I don’t quite get what it is you’re trying to capture or trying to say with this piece. It’s fine, it reads OK, but you’re just talking about how a guy is and what he feels. Meh

Greed Is Good

Cool cool. A story with neat things that has stuff happen in it… and hey a good ending! Not a whole lot to complain about, except that I think you may have been trying to show us early that there’s magical stuff going but I wasn’t sure if your invoking metaphor or just being dramatic in your writing. Kind of made it confusing and I wasn’t sure what the thrust of the piece was until the magic became more apparent. If you specify things a bit more, up front, it would be easier to detect and would strengthen the piece considerably, imo.

Desperate Measures

I don’t know what to make of this one. The ending is on the better end of things for this week because at least there’s some semblance of a punchline or an intention. Apart from that, there’s proofing problems, unclear action (both on a technical and motivational level) and overall I’m not sure how all of this is connected. It ends up kinda becoming a weak heisty story I guess? I don’t know, this was fine.

Stupid Punk

OK, well I guess that’s a realistic ending but it’s certainly not one that does much of anything. The voice in this is strong, but that’s to be expected coming from you. Apart from that, I’m not finding anything particularly engaging or novel here. I like that you went with a generally unlikable protag though.

Five and a Quarter

Alright, another non-ending. I don’t know, this is fine. Nothing new here and nothing to get me excited about reading it. There’s a fair bit of technical woes in the piece that make it a clunkier read than it needed to be so you may have lost some goodwill through that. Proofread more, make your dialogue an extension of the characters, and stop just asserting truths in your story that we’re just expected to accept. Earn your poo poo.


Hm. Well, I guess this was a story? I’m somewhat confused by the role some of this stuff plays. The mysterious woman kinda just seems like an explain away sort of mechanic and I don’t know why she’s doing the things she’s doing. The whole escapism during a time of conflict thing isn’t exactly new and I’m not seeing you bring anything novel to the concept. This is fine, but it doesn’t do much to grab me.

For The Millionth Time, Be Careful What You Wish For

Unsatisfying endings seem to be the running motif this week. This wasn’t bad. It was an easy read and for the most part had a good feel about it. I guess I wanted to see more of the cool stuff. Either see him use the power more or dive further into like… what happened to his parents and what’s he going to do. Why did this end here? This is not an ending.


Alright, Crain. One of us is out of our gourd. Either this story transcends my comprehension or it’s a tight hot mess. I really don’t know what to say about this. Thranguy writes good crazy stuff though from time to time so maybe he’ll be able to parse it.

Call And Response

Oy. I liked every part of this until the ending. I didn’t need a happy ending, but this was just such a fizzle and it picked up such ET, Stranger Things notes that I wanted at least some kind of moment at the end. Maybe this was intentional, if it were I’d argue heavily against this choice. Ultimately, I guess the kids learned a lesson in humility? That’s fine and all, but what made this a good story? The prose, dialogue, and the overall handling of the point in time was well done enough to keep this on the upper end of things, but unless nothing else special gets submitted the best this can do is an HM and I’m not sure I’d fight for it.


Lots of problems here. Too many too count. You started 34 sentences with “she” and that was a quick count. Apart from that… I guess nitpick, there’s a lot of issues here. You didn’t proof this, or if you did, you didn’t do so carefully. Lots of technical errors and hardly any action whatsoever to carry the story. I don’t really know what’s supposed to be interesting about any of this. It’s… a fine thing for a person to go through but we don’t earn any of the catharsis you’re trying to summon up for your characters.

The Wolf

Not a great effort. I have to believe that you know that. This piece is riddled with clunky prose and technical errors that even a semi-careful editing pass would’ve caught. As for the conceit of the story… it’s not bad. The problem, however, is that we only see snippets of the parts that actually matter. Who’s quest is this? The wolf kid arguably seems like a more interesting character, and he also gets the arc. Why aren’t we following him?

Decent idea, poorly executed on a technical and creative level.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Kaishai posted:

A prompt will have to wait until I'm home from work, more's the pity. Keep yourselves busy until then with posterior amphibians or whatever.

What the hell kind of nonsense is this now?

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Joining the fray.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Week 295. Bad Week.

996 Words

Before I begin my story, a little bit about myself:

Nah, nevermind.

I’m not that important.

Or maybe I am?

Who knows?

The thing you gotta know about me is…

Well, I have an appreciation for street culture?

Does that matter?

Do you even care?

You probably don’t.

And yet, I sit here.




I watch.

I watch you, and I watch myself.

I see myself grow.

And here I am.

So once upon a time…

Hold on.

There’s more about me, isn’t there?

I have 500,000 hairs. I’ve counted them all, sometimes. I have defecated roughly 10,000 times in my life, my brother has counted those. I have an affinity for cats, squirrelies, frogs, tree, birds, mice, video games, commas, bananas, birthday cake, typewriters, paint brushes, Steven Spielberg films (except for Toy Story of course), boiling water, frozen water, salted water, water with olive oil in it, lentils, goats, goat meat, magic tricks, details, coupons, receipts, toilet paper, receipts that have documented my toilet paper purchases, literary fiction, toast, momentum, inertia, molecules, cells, biomes, pictures without frames, frames without pictures, ghosts, ghouls, fiends, hobgoblins, Band-Aids, lunchables, dinette sets, patio furniture, molehills, mountains being mistaken for molehills, taxis, tacos, beefcheek, canaries, crab legs, emojis (only when I'm in a fun mood), pornography, high speed police car chases, that thing that happens when you forget to clean out your toaster like you should every week and so when you go and try and heat up a bagel you're like “what is that smell? Nothing about this bagel even comes close to resembling strawberries and yet it smells like burning fruit in my kitchen”, bran muffins, itchy socks, rings, coins, points, tickets, plastic bags, paper bags, metal bags, baggie bags, laptops, witches, green, yellow, blue, purple, chartreuse, winking, blinking, inking, swooping, rapping, crapping, defiling diners, occupying wall street, lollipops, plugging things in, baby-proofing the universe, frying up some waffle irons, adjusting table tennis expectations, helping obese earthworms achieve a healthful worm/life balance, impersonating Maya Angelou, donating my time to a good cause, syphoning jet fuel from cacti, educating the population on the various merits of reanimating professors who died the month before their university granted them tenure, cruising around in a 87’ Malibu without a care in the world (except for whether or not I disappointed my father and if he’s quietly judging me on my lifestyle choices. It’s not that he ever acts that way, but sometimes, I can just tell), grooving, free wheeling, showboating, celebrating my defeats, suffering my victories, playing with my yoyo (not a euphemism), playing with my yoyo (definitely a euphemism), highlighting my thoughts with orange highlighters, highlighting my emotions with pink highlighters, flirting with the premise that sexuality is not binary, defending that my sexuality is decidedly singular, punching cephalopods into existence, shouting my lungs out into a petri to monitor the impact of oxygenation on human tissue, eating just one potato chip in defiance of marketing campaigns, running headfirst into a great white shark, skinning potatoes until they cry, civil war rentrapments, and daydreaming.

Hopefully, now, you know a bit about me.

So let’s continue.

But wait, you know what I like.

You don’t know what I dislike.

Racial constructs, being heartbroken by penpals, hathead. That’s about it.

So what is it to write a story?

Some would say that the writing of a story is merely the mushing of words together.

I’d largely agree with that definition.


Aren’t we all just mushing everything together all of the time?

You’re only here because your parents mushed something together.

Their genitals, of course.

We’re all products of various mushed together genitals.

And accordingly, all of our actions are the result of mushed together ideas.

Friendships are mushed together people.

Family is mushed together obligations.

Music is mushed together notes.

Movies are mushed together pictures.

Pictures are mushed together sources of light and darkness.

Light and darkness are mushed together perceptions.

Perceptions are mushed together truths.

Truth is mushed together relative understanding.

So what do we understand?

I don’t know what I understand, but I do know what I want you to understand.

I want you to read this and understand.

I want you to understand: I am merely a product of mushed together entities and no matter what I do, that reality is one that I cannot escape, nor do I want to. I hope that in writing this you’ll understand my ideas but also, you’ll come to realize that my overall worth as a human can be likened to a grain of sand in a sandbag whose purpose is solely to rest on a button that, when pushed, provides power--but not enough power-- to a miniature LED light bulb that could provide a light source to 1 cubic inch of space. In case the point I put on that sentiment is so sharp that it frightened you, I’ll just spell it out: I am not worth much. Do you understand? Seriously, I’m asking you now. Say your answer out loud. Did you? Did you try? Did you listen to me when I asked you to do that? If you did, how was that experience? Did you go grow? Did you learn something about yourself? If so, what? Say that out loud now too. Or maybe you did none of those things. Why would you? After all, I just told you what I was worth. Why would you follow the orders from a worthless trash heap of a person. And if that’s the case. Why am I even trying to tell my story? If writing is the suggestion of imagery in another’s mind, and I believe that to be one of the many things writing is, than isn’t this is a pointless endeavor. I suppose it is, and you know what?

I’ve talked myself out of telling my story.

So I won’t.

Don’t worry.

It’s all fine now.

You won’t have to suffer these words anymore.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Alrighty, my spring crits can be found here:

There are comments on the individual pieces peppered throughout and a little summary of my thoughts on each story are at the bottom. I'm gonna post the little thoughts here, but for the full chili crit experience check out the doc.

QuoProQuid - Paradise Lost

OK, this was a tough read for me. The exposition was thick, it was difficult to parse, and I’m not entirely sure what you were going for. I’m somewhat surprised as I haven’t had a difficult time reading your stuff before. But, here we are.

Thranguy - Double Exposure

??? I’m lost. So much of this story isn’t about what it needs to be about. I might just be a bad/dumb reader but I couldn’t make heads or tails of your ending and it seems like that’s pretty much the only part of this story that matters.

Tyrannosaurus -I am the King of Crete

Nope. I didn’t get this at all. I don’t see what it’s going for and I don’t know why I’m supposed to care about… whatever these characters are supposed to be.

And while we're at it....

Let's crit your self-crit.

On the one hand, I appreciate that you gave your fellow domer's feedback. Kudos on that, and keep on going. But when it comes time to your cute little self-crit...

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Edward the Confessor; patron saint of office workers, kings, lists, colors,
Something I disliked: You've received the crit before that "thunderdome isn't the place for these kinds of stories" -- specifically from this head judge. Maybe try sticking to a more traditional narrative arc?
Something I liked: Easy to read. Great voice -- quirky and weird but fun. Same with the imagery. Interesting toying around with ideas of importance, kingship, power through a dystopian (?) lens. I loved this, honestly. Fav of the bunch.

No. This is bad form and horseshit. You don't know what went into the judgment process so calling out a specific judge is a lovely thing to do. The self crit thing was barely funny the first time I've seen you do it and now the lack of humility is tiring. I feel like the only reason you find something like this acceptable is that you've been around and you're an established good writer. You are good, this piece was bad. And you know what dino pal? Kaishai wasn't even for the DM in the first place. She defended your piece for the exact reason you called her out in your crit. You wanna know why you DM'd?

It was me you extinct son of a bitch. I wanted this story to lose and the other judges talked me into a DM.

Antivehicular - Trust and Grace

Hmmmm, well, I understood everything and it’s a nice little moment, but it isn’t much of a story. I did care about the characters but I wasn’t worried or engaged all that much. Overall, it was a nice piece to read and the dialogue felt perfect.

flerp - Words Only Go So Far

OK, this ended up being a strong submission. It stung to read, in the right kind of way and even though it’s a smaller scope type of story it stuck its landing and was clear and impactful throughout. Not seeing much in the way of “spring” here, and that may cost you.

Fumblemouse - The Bellmaker’s Wife

OK, I guess this has an idea. I don’t know how strong it is. Bells speaking out/singing out on behalf of people. Fine. I don’t really understand why it’s important, why I should care, or who this Bellfounder person is and what they’re all about. This felt messy to me and didn’t accomplish much.

ThirdEmperor - New Home

Ending is not of as much consequence as I’d like but overall the imagery here is pretty decent. I was able to get into some of the sensual elements of this and that alone was worth something. Not entirely sure there’s much in the way of “story” here but it a clear enough read that had a decent bit of parseable action and motion.

Fuschia tude- Garnish

This story is pretending to have an arc. I can sorta see how she was weak and self-defeating in the beginning, and I sorta see how she’s thinking clearer toward the end. But I have no idea how she got there, and that’s assuming that’s what you wanted. I’m not entirely convinced that my reading of this is accurate to what your aims were. There isn’t really a story here and not much feels earned. It was clear enough, and easy to read

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

SurreptitiousMuffin is unable to access the forums at the moment, and has authorized me to post his story:

<Muffin> k chili story is formatted and clear to post 10:52 PM

What follows is his story, with no changes, posted from a google doc:

Damo’s very bad day
791 words

Yeah nah so Damo’s day was pretty poo poo aye. He cursed his missus, and his dog, and the fuckin foreman who said it didn’t matter that he had a real tough skull he needed to wear a hard hat or he could go the gently caress home. I mean yeah he hit the prick but what else was he supposed to do? Some oval office is all like “you’re a liability mate” and you know you’re not a liability, you’re a kiwi, so you hit him right in his cheeky gob. It was a right fuckin mess mate, and no mistake.

Damo went home and smashed back a few tallboys while his missus shouted at him about how he needed to work because they had rent to pay and a dog to feed and he was like “gently caress off woman!” then he staggered out into the street and shouted at some random oval office in a stupid japanese car.

The world was spinning a little so Damo lay down in the middle of Whitiriki Road. A car went HAAAAWNK HAAAAAAWNK and he heard some oval office shouting about some dumb poo poo but it didn’t really matter aye. Somebody kicked him and he stood up to give them a fuckin hiding, then he fell over again. A car door slammed shut somewhere that coulda been a thousand Ks away. He got a mouthful of stale exhaust fumes and heard the car moving around him.

“Haha get hosed mate,” he whispered to nobody in particular.

Look mate I see you judging but you don’t really get how hosed up all Damo’s poo poo was. Your dog doesn’t need special food to stop it from making GBS threads everywhere. Your foreman didn’t get promoted over you even though he’s a total rear end-kissing pillock. Your missus doesn’t need to keep sending money back to her dad in the Philippines or Singapore or whatever because he’s being In-diet-ed on security fraud or some poo poo.

Eventually the spinning stopped. This was the worst day of his fuckin life. He stood up (nailed it, Damo!) then shook his fist at the sky. God could get hosed too. There was, in no way he could fuckin understand, any way this fuckin day could possibly get any fuckin worse.


Words are insufficient, but they must serve. They are a language of mouths, and meat, and pushing air between spurs of lip-bone. The tongue flicks, the teeth clatter. It is a graceless thing but it is the only one we have now, trapped as we are. Our form, like so many fragile forms, is meat.

We were once boundless: the children of solar winds. We have seen the beginning and the end of time and we know them to be the same. We are energy-form and we are thought-wave. We had our own bodies once, but we shed them when we took to the stars.

We are bound to stone, by tethers of silver forged in the heart of a star. It was a punishment, though we did not deserve it. Now we are shackled to stone, and the stone grows meat, and through this meat we speak as we hurtle through worlds known and unknown – as we serve our endless exile through the eternal stars. We dwell in a twisted mockery of our own flesh, melted to an asteroid by a power you cannot begin to comprehend.

Comes now an orbit into our path and there is something different to it: a sense, impossibly, of terminus. We are snatched by its gravity well and pulled down, down, closer and closer while the red-hot atmosphere tears at our unsightly flesh and we chant a chorus in our many mouths yes yes finally it is finished.

As we grow hotter and closer, the filaments in our stone pick up radio signals –radio! How quaint!– and we hear in strange voices “the forecast for New Plymouth and the wider Taranaki region is mostly sunny, though winds will pick up later in the d– “

As we break the clouds, as we boil, as we scream, an apelike being looks up at us. It is clad in polyester fibers. It moves slowly yet erratically. It reeks of ethanol and grain spirits.

We arrive at terminus with a shriek of exploding air and sizzling flesh. It is ours, it is the ape’s. As its blood flows freely onto the strange dark roadway, its last air comes from between the bone-spurs in its mouth.

“Aaaw gently caress mate,” it says.

We die, together.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Alrighty, as per my usual style I did comment/crits as I read the stories and put my final thoughts at the bottom. Go here, and ctrl-f for your name to read your story with my little comments:

And I'm including in this post what I wrote at the bottom of each of your stories.

My usual disclaimer stands: I'm much better at talking about stories than I am writing crits for them, so feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or want to talk shop further.

derp - A night at the theater

Ok, so this a major case of not sticking the landing. I have so many questions. What was the “devil item”, and why did it matter? Who is talking in the end? What are the actual consequences of anything that happens in this story? As it is, there’s enough cool and good ideas in this for me to hate it, but the passive voice, and lack of clarity in your ending keep this far from something that I’d call good.

JayWFriks - Her Bastard Children

Not sure what’s going on in much of this. Some kind of abstract possession thing? Story wise, I found this hard to follow and not all that compelling. Your prose is on point often and you say some pretty, and slick things. The voices here aren’t distinct and are too easily comparable. Feels like a no mention to me.

Bubble Boy - Diner Food

This was not good. Less a story and more of a way for you to take one character’s side. I wanted there to be something so that these characters could learn from one another, but pretty much everyone involved at the diner is an unrepentant rear end in a top hat and the soldier just serves to kind of push an idea further that you’ve already hammered into the reader by the time his moment begins.

Muffin - Damo’s very bad day

Up until this story, there’ve been a lot of bad endings. This is the first decent/good ending. I wasn’t with you for much of the story but since the pace is snappy, and the wordcount is short, you managed to keep me engaged just enough to reach the ending and I’m kind of digging it for now. A quibble would be that these characters don’t quite go through a narrative together, they just kind of have their own moments and collide at the end.

Antivehicular - A Baron's Son, a Hunter's Daughter

Eh, this is tough. Tasha doesn’t have much in the way of characterization and the voices here aren’t all that distinct. The prose is slick and there’s nice little moments, but it feels rather obvious and I kinda want to see a lot more of the traps that Quintillio laid as opposed to just knife that’s kind of there. This is fine, decent action, but not much in the way to make me care about what happens.

Tyrannosaurus - #goodboy

Alright, well done. This accomplished the task set out by the prompt and was fun as hell to read. Had no idea how these things were gonna come together but they did and it was satisfying and enjoyable. Not much to quibble with on this piece. Definitely my front-runner for now.

Solitair - Bent Out of Shape

Not sure how to make heads or tails of this. On the one hand, your two narratives are drastically different from one another, so that’s a plus. The problem, though, is that they seem to still depend on one another to provide proper context. Since I couldn’t parse much of the first it left the second muddy as well. I feel like your first half had to have been a chore to write, that’s fine but I don’t think you intended for it also to be a chore to read. This missed me by a mile and I found it largely inaccessible.

Side Note: I had this down as a DM

Schenider Heim - Creatures of the Coin

Ok, this just kind of goes on an on. The language was weak, the voice didn’t change much, the action was really difficult to parse and overall this is not effective writing. I think you’d benefit from trying to tell a nuts-and-bolts simple story as a writing exercise. Tell it cleanly, get us rooting for your dudes, and for the love of god do something about the passive voice.

Yoruichi - Human Geometry

Hm. Well this is a nice little slick bit of writing. I kinda wanted more to happen but when I saw how you were going about this entry, I started warming up to it. You’ve got some nice turn of phrase and I think the choice to use just one person but speak through them so differently was a neat and unique take on the prompt. Kind of like this one.

Sidenote: I would've given this an HM

Thranguy - Unscrambling an Egg

So you kinda lost me in the second half? I think I can tell what’s going on, but I’m not entirely clear. Regardless your first half was about as strong as anything I’ve read this week. Good pacing, voice, and action. This may need a re-read from me, but I generally don’t do that.

sebmojo - Dinosaur Day

OK. I don’t really know what this is, or how to parse it. I liked reading but struggled to comprehend much of what I was reading. You know how to say cool and good things, but apart from that, this story falls kind of flat for me. Definitely hard for me to make heads or tails of most of the events here and the ending definitely left me confused. This might also need a re-read from me.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Also, wtf where is pomp

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

I need to write more. I am pre=emptively going in. T-rex, consider this an entry and if I need to pick anything or whatever, I will. Or if you need to assign me something, go ahead.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Oh gently caress yeah. I love me some Idris. Throw a quote my way, please.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Alright, gonna clear out my crit dad before fatherhood sweeps in and it becomes unlikely to ever happen. Still don't think redemption stories should count against a total, but hey.

Go here to see my comments:

And below are the crits I've left at the bottom of the stories.

Week 231 No Grown Ups

BeefSupreme's The Great Train Robbery

Meh. Critting old things like this is kinda silly, cos you’ve definitely gotten better. Anyhow, this is fair standard and not terribly exciting. There are some unnecessary scenes in here (the scene with the mom comes to mind) and it’s generally kinda predictable and baggy. The story suffers from knowing what the prompt is. It would be more fun if you told a straight train heist and in the end, it was just kids playing around. Your prose isn’t great in here either. Some passive problems and general lacking in rhythm.

Week 234 Binging on Bad Words

Julias's Desperate Jasper

Ugh. OK, I guess you didn’t write this story to be read by a professional therapist. But, that happened. This is not a good encapsulation of a therapy session whatsoever. And sure, not every therapist has to be amazing but we’re talking about basic fundamentals not being addressed. I’m not sure if you hold cynicism for the field or just wanted to write about a bad one. But nothing about this session rang true at all. Anyhow, before we get there we see a… very uneven… abusive scene play out in the therapist’s house? The language is weak and the people sound realistic. If you go back and read your dialogue out-loud, I suspect you’ll see what I’m talking about. Anyhow, be glad this was a late sub or I probably would’ve fought for at least a DM, maybe the loss.

And that takes me to 100%! Now nobody ask me to judge again, y'hear?


Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Submission Post for TD Week 298

Idris Elba’s Character: Dad
Quote For Inspiration: "Do you know how the cuckoo bird survives? By preying on a mother's weakness. The cuckoo bird is too clever to raise its young. Instead it sneaks its eggs in nests of simpler birds. So when they hatch the mother bird is fooled. She feeds them, nurtures them and do you know what happens to her own chicks? They starve and die from neglect. All because a mother loved a chick that wasn't her own."

Fire in the Hole

1,070 Words

You know that thing “a disappointed parent is worse than an angry one?” Yeah, whoever said that poo poo hadn’t met my dad.

He leans back in his chair as he regards me. Only a pathetic sliver of triple-glazed plexiglass protects me from him. I’m not safe. Even though I haven’t seen him in months, I want to go back to my cell. We’ve sat like this, in silence, for the better part of his visitation. Next to me, the other inmates make the most of their time. They catch up with their family and take in their faces. It helps them carry this.

I had a fast trial. I got sentenced pretty quickly: two years. I’ll be here for two years. I won’t be able to go to a bar on my 21st birthday. I’ve been here a week. Most everyone has already stopped by: Mom came in the first day she was allowed; we cried together. My younger brothers came in the next day; I made them promise not to do the same poo poo I did. My girlfriend came in the day after; she dumped me, and I don’t blame her. As mixed as all of those visits were, I at least felt connected, in some way to everyone. But now?

I reach for the phone because something needs to happen, anything. As I do, he lifts his eyebrows, only slightly, asking me “What the gently caress do you think you’re doing?”

I withdraw my hand, he responds with a barely visible nod.

He looks down toward my orange jumpsuit; his eyes fix on my numbers. I see him mouth them, silently:

“1. 4. 8. 9. 9. 1. 2” He locks eyes with me again and shakes his head side-to-side.

Slowly, and what seems like for the first time, he blinks. I feel a rumble beneath my chair. Bits of rocks and dirt tremble on the ground. Earthquake? Maybe, the world will open up and swallow me; that’d be nice.

I look back up at dad. His nostrils flare as he breathes in. He sees the fear on my face. I know he does because he smiles for the first time since he’s walked in.

He tilts his head toward my phone. I shoot my hand toward it and press it up to my ear. Dad laughs to himself, takes his time, and follows suit.

I don’t dare speak first. We sit for either another minute or another year; I don’t know which. He blinks again. The walls around me burst into red flame. I feel their heat, but they don’t burn me. Droplets of sweat bead up on my brow. My heart beats faster than the day I got sentenced to this nightmare. I need to leave.

I stand up. He shakes his head. I sit down.

Finally, he speaks: “The gently caress were you thinking?”

I’m relieved, something I can do. The flames are cooking my mind, and I hope that I’ll at least be able to form something meaningful. I sit for a moment and try to breathe in. The air is thin and barely relieves the stinging pain in my lungs. Finally, I put together a thought, coherent enough that maybe Dad will listen.

“Dad, I-”

“No no no. You see the time for you to answer that question was before you got your rear end picked up by the police. Cos see you weren’t thinking.”

I can't listen to this. I go to hang up the phone.

He slams his hand onto the glass. The window shatters into crystal shards that rocket toward my face. I feel them sting, but they don’t cut into me.

“Don’t you think about running from this, Treimar! Don’t you even loving think about running from this. I know your friends got picked up too. They don’t have to deal with me. But you know why they don’t have to deal with me?”

He leans back: “Cos they’re not mine. How the gently caress you fell into this poo poo when I spent my life showing you a better way... it blows me. Tre, I know you didn't think when you went out on the corner. It’s not like you needed anything. Wasn’t there food on the table? Didn’t your mom help you with your homework? And didn’t your uncle get you a job in one of my stores out in the county! You didn’t need nothing, Tre! I was out there, days, sometimes weeks at a time, building an empire—the right loving way—trying to show you there was another way. Work Hard. Sacrifice. Achieve.

He shakes his head, sweat trickles down from his brow, “It was all for y-”

I roll my eyes. He catches me.

“The gently caress was that?” He asks me. Genuinely, he’s asking me. I might be able to answer.

“I’ve just heard it, Dad. I’ve heard this all before.”

He shakes his head in disbelief. “And what? Am I lying? Tell me how none of this poo poo is true. Tell me how everything I sacrificed didn’t set you up for a bright future.”

I take my chance with some more words. “It’s not everything.”

The quaking beneath my feet settles from violent to a low rumble.

He leans in. “Well, Tre, what else is there, then?”

He’s still asking me. Really asking.

“Dad.” I say.

“Yeah?” He asks.

“I’m really happy you’re here.”

His face can’t seem to decide on confusion or outrage.

I continue. “I know, I know. I’m hosed, I got no reason to be happy about anything. But I’m still happy to see you.”

“So what?” He asks. “This some cat’s in the cradle bullshit? I wasn’t around, and that’s why you’re here. Cos I was busy trying to give you the world, you get yourself thrown in prison. Like this is all my fault?”

My chin falls to my chest. This is getting away from a conversation and back to him talking. Besides, I’ve got nothing left to say. I sit like this, staring down at my shoes on the calm, even ground, for a minute or so.

“Tre?” His voice trickles into my ears.

I look up at him, through the glass. No flames, no quakes. Just dad.

“We’ll get through this poo poo. OK?”

“Alright Mr. Foster,” the guard approaches dad from the back. “It’s time to go.”

He places his hand on the glass, I reach out and do the same.

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