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Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


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Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Week 295



[]bUntitled[/b]

(685 words)

Regent B’Ork, canine and orc looked upon his lair. And admired he (indeed did he) all that he found there. You had a throne of cabbages fit for any king. You had an orcish court, a maid, jewels and any thing. But Regent B’Ork was melancholy, so he talked to his Dolphin ward. He asked him what to eat today, especially if its untoward. So the Dolphin said “Yessir yessir, I know what you can devour. I may be fish but even I know it’s the last living cauliflower.”

“Hooray hooray said Regent B’Ork and quested for the plant. He’d eat the cauliflower before someone else did or his meal they would supplant. But first he needed to find it thus he stuck his snout in thin air. And silently sniffed B’Ork did for its sulfurousy scent anywhere. Then of the location, he became aware. The water. The Wetness. The myst. The mystery. It was not dry place. The last cauliflower was behind a waterfall.

B’Ork went there and looked behind the waterfall. When you search for cauliflower, looking is a good protocol. B’Ork looked far behind it, yard upon yards. But he didn’t see the last cauliflower, he just saw its gaurds. Now the first gaurd was a boy, the second was a lady. And the lady was stronger because the boy gaurd was eighty.

The gaurds said “You can’t have it, the cauliflower is for us. And it’s the last one on this planet, of that you can trust. We won’t let you. Leave, or we can stop you.”

But Regent B’Ork, canine and orc had other ideas. He stood as solid as a tree is. Also he had his ward with him since the start: “Let’s concentrate on the eighty year old because I don’t hit pretty ladies. The male gaurd will be easy because he’s in his eighties.” So B’ork and the Dolphin ward beat him up easily, but it was still a little hard because B’Ork kept looking back at the pretty lady because she was easy on his eyes and he loved her by now. But the cauliflower was priority because that was his vow.

When B’Ork looked under the dead gaurd he did find a cauliflower. But the lady gaurd tried to stop him by using her power. Her power made B’Ork too dizzy to nosh. She almost beat him but then [/u]OH MY GOSH[/u]...the Dolphin jumped in the way. With the spell broken the lady’s skin began to flay. “NO! But I loved her!” That’s what B’Ork said. But nobody heard it, since the Dolphin died.

At least B’Ork had the cauliflower, and was ready to devour. At last he could be free, at least from melancholy. His stomach would be full, but the lady gaurd dying was still too awful. Now she had never been a Doubting Thomas. So B’Ork bent to her body and made it a promise. B’Ork said “I’ll never fight someone over food again. That’s what bad regents do, not the wisest of men." Her body. Breathless. The blood. The entrails. Too graphic to describe. Like a deaf person, now cured, hearing nails screech a chalkboard for the first time. They can’t convey the awful sound. Just this was an awful image instead.


B’Ork was forever changed, and that would be that. It was kind of like George R.R. Martin’s ‘taking the black’. Then he hopped on his dog and he road his dog back. Yet on the way to his lair, some old B’ork still remained. Rubbing his tummy sack he said his refrain: “gently caress u, Got mine!” He’d learned something, but didn’t want to commit. I mean he did but reliably he also didn’t. You can change a person but only on the surface if they won’t let it all through. Like Tertius signing his name in Romans 16:22. It’s superficial but the mark is still there. So the dog with B’Ork on it got back to his lair. What are some other ways this story could have ended?

-Armack

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Voidmart weeks churn out gluts of inane shittrash, what's wrong with you people?

In with door #1

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Prompt: Baudolino’s “Leaving New York.”

Leaving New York., Part II of III: Void Where Prohibited
(945 words)

Rome, 54 B.C.E.

His illness created the comment, and the comment threatened to spark M. Septus Aemilius’s expulsion or worse. So after those fateful words had catapulted from his mouth, the mortified senator fled the Curia. Since there would be no aid from his colleagues, M. Septus Aemilius resolved to remedy his affliction in the market of Ostia. It had been the market that had infected him in the first place. Now to market he would return.

M. Septus Aemilius traveled by oxcart. It had not yet been two weeks since Ostia roads teemed with merchants. But now the tents were collapsed, the stands and lean-tos empty. All the trade worth doing, every browse, barter, and haggle, now happened within the colossal walls of Voidmart. M. Septus Aemilius staked his oxen, then trod to the beach upon which the megastore had appeared. Entering, the senator spied a knock-kneed stock boy arranging fidget spinners into the front display case.

“I am ill—”

“—Nope nope nope. Not my job, sir.” The stock boy held his gaze on the display case. He gestured vaguely, “Customer Service, three departments down.”

On his way, M. Septus Aemilius passed an amphora department, a chariot repair tool department, and several fish paste kiosks. Then, having found Customer Service, the senator stood in line for four hours until at last a Voidmart Satisfaction Engineer called him to a conference room. Nametag: Brittany.

“How may I touch your day today, sir?” said Brittany, grinning.

“By fixing what you people did to me. I’ve been sick since the last time I shopped here. Headaches. Insomnia. I get these spells where…my tongue is not my own.”

“Sure, let’s troubleshoot! Tell me about your tongue problem.”

M. Septus Aemilius grew red in the face. “I shout advertisements unbidden. It’s rude enough I’m liable to get tossed from the senate or killed.”

“Now, sir, let’s not resort to hyperbole.”

“This is no exaggeration! Pompey lost to childbirth his wife, Julia, and their infant daughter. Weeping, he ran up to me in the senate and sought my comforts. And in response I blurted out…”

“…You blurted out what, sir?”

“It was all so sudden, I struggle to remember the exact words. It was something to the effect of ‘Voidmart baby shoes for sale; never worn! Buy now!’”

“That was perhaps not the most sensitive response.”

“You people did this to me! It’s an infection.”

“Oh, I don’t think so. Your comments aren’t so unusual really. On account of our offering quality goods at affordable prices, people just can’t contain their enthusiasm for Voidmart. Happens all the time.”

“You did this,” insisted M. Septus Aemilius. “Yesterday I sought a doctor. When he peered into my ear he saw a ‘V’ logo.”

“How do you know it wasn’t just the number five?”

The senator grabbed Brittany’s lapels. “It’s bad enough you people expand into my time era, now you expand into my head!”

“Alright, alright already. Sir, I’m gonna need you to calm down.” M. Septus Aemilius let go.

“Let me check our records.” Brittany put stilus to tablet. After a moment she said, “Aha. Here we have your consent to expand a chapter of our ad department through your left ear and into the temporal lobe of your brain.”

M. Septus Aemilius wasn’t clear on neuroanatomy. Nevertheless he said, “I gave no such consent.”

Brittany smiled, her teeth white as a desert skeleton. “Did you not read the user agreement for the Wink of Venus app on your solar powered tablet? By your use of the app, we have every right to expand into your head.”

Sensing that the senator’s anger may rise to a boil, Brittany applied the stilus to her tablet again. “You own several olive farms, do you not?”

“Yes.”

“Would you not also expand your business at every opportunity?”

She had a point, thought M. Septus Aemilius. “I suppose.”

Dejected and devoid of options, the senator left Voidmart. On his way back to his oxen, he chanced upon a beggar.

“Lost my Rubik’s Cube casting lots. Spare an old man some coin, that he might try to win it back?”

“Voidmart brand poker chips! For the thrill-seeking gentleman who wants much but has little to lose!” M. Septus Aemilius shook his head. “Sorry, friend. Here you go.” The senator tossed him some silver.

“Grateful for the opportunity.”

That word again. Brittany had said it too: “Opportunity.”

Just then, M. Septus Aemilius hatched a plan. He journeyed back to the senate to strike a deal with the enraged Pompey. The terms were as follows: M. Septus Aemilius would agree to stand upon the rostra, profusely apologize for disrespecting Pompey’s family, render to him eight olive bushels, resign his senate seat, and submit to one clean needle piercing of the tongue all in atonement for reprobate verbiage. In return, Pompey would prohibit Voidmart's every business opportunity in Rome. That is, he nullified by force of law all contracts held by Voidmart, including their right of expansion into this, the Roman Age.

And so it was that Rome compelled Voidmart to relocate its Ancient Roman branch. The conglomerate elected to move the megastore to modern day Canada where the Empire State Building (“Em”) kindly had cleared a wooded space. Together, the two landmarks, Voidmart and Em, attracted copious business and tourism. A sylvan town complete with bus routes sprang up around them. The site’s popularity increased yet further after the freshly sentient Voidmart Complex became famously enraptured with Em’s lumberjack aesthetic. They are now the proud parents of an adult toy shop.

Authors Bastardized: Ernest Hemmingway and his equal, Baudolino.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Cephalopod. Also I didn't see 'no erotica' so I will safely assume you want to read the tentacle variety.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Is it too late to for those 200 words? If not, then please accept this

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Cephalopod prompt

Octopuses Remember Too Well
(550 words)

I am a reef.

When I realize myself as a reef, I do not pretend. I do not mimic a vague reefness as an angler pantomimes the sun. No. I am reef-as-truth. I endure as the measure by which anything should be thought “reef.” Should reefs awaken, they will envy me.

They die who merely pretend. They feign reeflike and some toothy newcomer tracks them, chomps at their bloodscent. One such covets me now, led here by my pungent blue. He circles and sniffs. But he will not bite, for no shark chews a reef.

A shark cannot evoke my worry. This one thrashes with vexation, then leaves.

Worries of a different sort flood my mind, even now while I wake: The bait. The enclosure. That tug which hoists me toward the water’s skin. Daily I rattle at horrors my body echoes: The frantic sawing, my beak cracking, my brains hiding from pain as though cowering behind some murky ink.

Since my escape all is wrong, all enraging. Even my den. If I can simply make things right. Just right. I would nest in splendor too rich to brook a nightmare’s visit. It is my sole recourse.

I unreef and trace my path back to the den, picking up scallop shells I dropped to fool the shark. When I arrive I set myself to the den’s adornment. I position the shells just so, each at its own meticulous angle and orientation. At day’s close and after much exhaustion it is done. I have fashioned a mosaic and dedicated it to my will to live. Near-death dares not look upon this place.

But that evening my mind abducts me. It carries me back to the human contraption. Encaged, hoisted to the surface. Dumped onto a vessel of death. I spy the hooks, the sharp edges, dismembered chunks of my kind strewn about like whale waste in a trench. Some mantles I recognize. Then I see the humans pulling up more traps. Their sight averted, I cleave free of the cage and bury myself beneath the dead. There I wait until I have occasion to dash to the vessel’s edge and plunge back to the sea.

When I awake I find my mosaic defiled. Likely some crabs scuttled off with the shells. I thrash at its ruin and resolve to meet my end in the shallows. No one should live like this.

Back in the shallows I prick an arm to draw blood. Then I reef. When at last a shark appears I revert, happy to surprise her with a meal and anyway to end my torment. But my transformation proves too startling. She darts away.

Evidently not competent to die, I am left to reflect more deeply on my fears’ nature. I have never feared a shark as so many of my kind do. Perhaps I could find tranquility were I similarly to face the humans.

I return to the traps and feed on the bait, this time knowing what comes next. Before long, the tug ensues. They pull me toward the surface and I feel a greater elation than I have ever known. It matters not what will become of me. I am fearless. When I realize myself as fearless, I do not pretend.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Week 307: Unitary Will



This week's prompt has three main parts:

1) When you sign up, I will give you a unit. It could be a unit of measurement, or it could be some unit that represents groups of creatures/things. Your story should be inspired by the unit and at least somewhat recognizably so, but you may not mention your unit by name in your story.

2) You must write a story in which a fully fleshed out, three-dimensional human protagonist has had their will shattered prior to the events of the story. Your story is about how they try to piece their will back together. By "will" I mean the character's agency or sense of autonomy and/or self. I don't care whether or not they succeed at reconstituting their will, but I want to see them overcome interesting conflicts to try. You should allude to how they lost their will but not dwell on it. However it happened, it happened prior to your story. Don't make your story about will-losing, make it about will-rebuilding.

3) Your story must be realistic enough that it could conceivably have actually happened in real life (either in a present-day or bygone-era setting). No speculative fiction, no magical realism, no surrealism, absurdism, etc.

Standard typical rules apply, no erotica, fanfic, etc.

Word Limit: 1100 words
Signup deadline: Friday, June 22nd at 11:59pm Eastern Time (US)
Submission deadline: Sunday, June 24h, 11:59pm Eastern Time (US) <---Note that it's not Pacific Time.

Judges:
Armack
Sitting Here
Antivehicular

Entrants and Assigned Units:
Deltasquid - the sone
Thranguy - the farthing
cptn_dr - the league
flerp - the ohm
Bad Seafood - the bushel
QuoProQuid - the gaggle
apophenium - the deciliter
Jay W. Friks - the furlong
Meinberg - the kelvin
ibntumart - the pack
Benny Profane - the Shoat Zmaniot
Chili - the fortnight
Carl Killer Miller - the cubit
Mercedes - the morpheme
Fuschia tude - the herd
Entenzahn - the kilogram meter per second
Kaishai - the ducat

Armack fucked around with this message at Jun 23, 2018 around 03:48

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Deltasquid posted:

Give me a unit, friend. I'm in.

You shall have the non-SI unit of loudness: the sone


You shall have a unit of British currency: the farthing

cptn_dr posted:

I'm in, gimme a unit!

Also, thanks for the crits folks.

You shall have the league. You're allowed to use "league" as in a unit of length or as a unit of teams/sports entities.


You shall have the unit of resistance: the ohm

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Bad Seafood posted:

Giving an inch to take a mile.

You shall have that unit of dry capacity: the bushel

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Antivehicular posted:

Interested in the third judge slot, if it's still open.

Also, to have crits for weeks 302 and 305 up before submission deadline for this week.

Yes, welcome aboard.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite



You shall have that goose-grouping unit: the gaggle


You shall have a metric unit of volume: the deciliter


You shall have a unit of length: the furlong

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Meinberg posted:

Sure, I'll give it a try.

You shall have that unit of temperature: the kelvin

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


ibntumart posted:

In for a penny, in for a pound or whatever unit I get.

Also, much appreciation for the crits, judges! chili, if the offer for further critique is on the menu still, I'm interested.

You shall have the pack. Whether you want to think of "pack" as units of animals or of manufactured goods like cigarettes is up to you.

Benny Profane posted:

Thanks for the crits, RandomPauI and Chili!

Also, in.

You shall have that Talmudic unit of time, the Shaot Zmaniot


You shall have that unit of time: the fortnight

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Carl Killer Miller posted:

In for a penny, in for a

wait, someone already made that joke.

In, please.

You shall have that biblical unit of length: the cubit

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite



You shall have that unit of linguistic meaning: the morpheme

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite



You shall have the unit that groups bovines, deer, and zebras: the herd

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite



You shall have that unit of momentum: the kilogram meter per second

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite



You shall have that European pecuniary unit: the ducat

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Signups closed. Don't forget to adhere to every provision in the prompt.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Submissions closed. Anyone who hasn't submitted and who wants to DQ rather than fail may post their story prior to judgment. I will crit all DQs.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Week 307 Results

This week's stories were decent, far more decent in fact than its failure rate. Carl Killer Miller, Deltasquid, flerp, apophenium, Meinberg, ibntumart, Entenzahn, and Bad Seafood receive 800 cubic centimeters of shame and two rotten kidneys for their failure.

Not every submission measured up. We issue eight metric tons of Loss to QuoProQuid for a #millenialproblems story that devolves into a find-the-annoying-kid story. Further, we issue 200,000 Newtons of DM to Benny Profane for a story that amounts to 'Dad’s being weird, is he okay? Yes, kinda? LOL,' as expressed by a useless narrator-as-camera character. We also issue one steaming mound of DQ to Mercedes for tacking too far from the prompt on multiple counts.

But there was a quantity of submissions which were positive in sum. One healthy dollop of HM goes to Kaishai for a poignant, technically proficient, and prompt-faithful depiction of a grieving mom. Also, a heaping helping of win goes to Jay W. Friks for strong symbolism, emotional resonance, powerful adherence to the prompt, an appreciably characterized protagonist, and a tenor of prose and dialogue that serves his story well. Jay, although relative gains in your writing skill over time didn't factor into our decision (we just evaluated each story this week as-is), we judges nevertheless want to acknowledge you for measurable progress over time. You may sit the throne, it is but 0.0001 furlongs away.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Week 307 Crits

1. Jay W. Friks – Ox

Summary:

Phil has lost his will to mental illness, the drudgery of low-skilled labor, and societal norms themselves. Phil has such little control over his life that he doesn’t feel like a citizen, but rather a beast of burden. He overcomes obstacles to maintain what little will he has left. These obstacles include Phil’s own mind, societal pressure to work and ‘be normal,’ and a sister who apparently has Power of Attorney over him and thus the ability to force him into unwanted medical treatment. Ultimately, Phil reasons that the only way to get free of the yokes placed on him is to kill himself, something he’s wanted with increasing frequency since childhood.

Crit:

- The prose and dialogue are pretty nice. Good job with that.

- The furlong influence shines through in the beast of burden field-plowing metaphor you set up. You succeed at making the metaphor powerful.

- You do a good job highlighting by implication that the various yokes constraining Phil aren’t all that independent from each other.

- You do a good job of showing, not telling.

- It’s unclear that suicide is the only way that Phil could have regained his will, but you do an adequate job of showing why Phil would think that it is.

-This story is overall pretty good. My only criticism is that Phil doesn’t really spend much time trying to piece his will back together per se; he is mostly just trying to avoid his will shattering further. I really wanted to see Phil plan and attempt to make positive gains, but he tends to grit through and hold himself together so things don’t get worse. That said, he does develop some agency at the end insofar as he’ll no longer be under anyone else’s thumb so-to-speak. But this ending would have been much stronger had Phil made some actual gains toward reclaiming his will, only to lose them tragically and then buckle under the yoke of his mental illness. There is also an off-putting self-pity in some of Phil’s last thoughts: “The body I never wanted will be gone…”It’s not at all a problem that the protag kills himself in the end, it’s more of a ‘this could have been framed a bit better’ thing. Still a good job though.

2. Chili – Wassail

Summary:

Archie’s dad, Pa, abandoned the family. Not only is the family smaller, but so are the prized apples on which they depend. Archie blames Pa for the apples’ relative poor health. He tries singing to the trees, as Pa would, but it doesn’t work. Ultimately Archie has to accept that he can live with smaller apples as well as fatherlessness.

Crit:

- Archie lost his will insofar as he’s feeling less agentic now that his father’s gone. Yep, that’s consistent with the prompt.

- The fortnight inspiration is evident in your story. Good.

-You’re occasionally a bit comma-heavy. The third sentence would be better rendered as “He’s his own person, after all, and I’m able to take care of Ma and the kids just fine.

- Unripe apples are hard. Might be difficult to kick them into exploding.

- It’s unclear what exactly sparked Archie’s epiphany that singing Pa’s song might work. Would be nice if his inspiration didn’t feel so random. His idea would have been set-up better if you had somehow foreshadowed it, or at least hinted at the train of thought that led him there during his convo with Ma.

- Ma seems pretty nonchalant compared to Archie. It made we wonder if apple-size was really that big of a deal, since she didn’t seem to care as much as him. That took some of the dramatic tension out of the story.

- The ‘low-hanging fruit’ metaphor really isn’t bad. It’s maybe a tad on-the-nose, especially with the last sentence being a straight-up “I wonder what the Jonagolds are telling me.” But it does work reasonably well.

- It’s cool how you explored the family’s pain without dwelling on the blow-by-blow details of the aftermath of Pa’s leaving. You show your readers in broad strokes how much Archie and (to a lesser extent) Ma are hurting. Less really was more here; great work being economical and effective in showing the emotional consequences of Pa’s abandonment.

- You recently mentioned in irc that your approach to the story was to portray the stages of grief. I didn’t exactly catch that until you said so, but I definitely noticed that there was appreciable character development.

- I may have found a few flaws to nitpick about, but overall this story is decent. Good job.

3. Thranguy – Then God Bless You

Summary:

Tariq’s will was lost to him in a devastating Middle-Eastern War (I’m assuming Syria). He wants to get it back, but in order to survive long enough to do that he will need to find asylum in a safer country. So he buys his way into a group of people being smuggled across the border. There he meets Dozan, a man with much better prospects for survival provided he can make it to distant family in England. When Tariq and Dozan get the signal to run past a border checkpoint, they learn that theirs was a decoy group—the unlucky lot fated to draw enemy fire so that others may escape. Dozan gets shot, Tariq loots a coin and ID from his corpse. If Tariq can make it to England, he intends to survive by posing as Dozan.

Crit:

- The influence of the farthing is clear. You have satisfied the prompt.

- It’s good that your protagonist is fairly well fleshed out as a character. He’s pious and fair yet determined and pragmatic.

- The story structure is good; there is sufficient dramatic tension. The ending is exciting. Not much to crit here. Well done.

4. Benny Profane – Midnight Sun

Summary:

The narrator’s mom died prior to the story. Her death precipitated a radical personality change in the narrator’s dad, “Dad.” The narrator drew straws and got selected to travel to CA to check on Dad. Dad is less thrifty, less particular about things, and more religious than before. Then Dad reveals he’s discovered a loophole in conservative Jewish practice concerning prayer at sunset: move to Alaska so the sun doesn’t set all summer. This behavior seems to imply to the narrator that shades of Dad’s old personality are still extant. In any case, Dad’s reasoning about the loophole makes the narrator laugh and remember a time when Mom was alive and when they all laughed as a family, having averted disaster.

Crit:

- Your story is heavy on exposition. Apart from that, the plot itself amounts to little more than “Dad’s being weird, is he okay? Yes, kinda? LOL.”

- It was hard to care about the narrator; they are really just a camera. Far less fleshed out than Dad. Had I cared about the narrator more, I would’ve cared about their relationship with Dad more and the story might’ve been more impactful.

- You satisfied the unit aspect of the prompt, but less so the shattered will aspect. Under the prompt, your story had to be about the protag trying to regain their will after having lost it prior to the story. Is a personality shift in and of itself a loss of will?

5. cptn_dr – A Little Fall of Snow

Summary:

This is a story (or perhaps more accurately a vignette) about a dude having been injured during an arctic hike. His leg is broken, he’s freezing, and his will has been shattered by hopelessness in the face of how dire his predicament is. He internally debates giving up, but instead decides to work through the pain to crawl to his emergency kit with which he signals for help.

Crit:

- Your protag has initially lost his will and you did convey a sense of distance consistent with your unit prompt.

- The protag isn’t quite as fleshed out in his characterization as I would have hoped for this week.

- There isn’t much as far as plot.

- Still, I found myself vicariously feeling the protag’s pain. There isn’t much to this story but somehow you did make me care. So there’s that.

6. Mercedes – Just One More Hit

Summary:

Flynn, a one-time boxer turned paraplegic, seeks to reclaim his lost will by getting back into the ring. He announces to little fanfare that he’ll be defending his title. But in order to mount such a defense, he needs bodily tech modifications. Over the objections of his trainer, Frankie, Flynn risks seeking the modifications from a shady “Limb Shark.” Once in the ring, Flynn’s modifications prove insufficient to win him the title bout.

Crit:

-There are several proofreading errors.

-Neural links, metal arms. I mean, in the present day we do have some rudimentary neural bypassing tech and we certainly have functioning metal arms, but the extent to which they function in this story seems like near-future sci-fi or cyberpunk. I’m not convinced that it’s plausible for current tech rapidly to get a paralyzed boxer fully fight-ready. It still seems like spec fic and is therefore against the prompt.

-Even if I’m wrong about this being near-futuristic, you still would DQ because you didn’t really use the unit prompt. Either you didn’t realize that your unit was “morpheme” and not “morphine” or you DID realize but decided to write a story inspired by the latter instead of the former. I was really looking for some clear way that base units of linguistic meaning inspired your story.

- The plot is reasonably interesting, the action is nice, and I did care about Flynn. So good job with all that.

7. Fuschia tude – Pain-Staking

Summary: Ferra lost her will to incarceration and the lovely jobs that followed. She was allowed to stay for a while with her Grace, her half-sister, who let the family estate fall in to disrepair. But conflict between the two proved insurmountable. Ferra becomes inspired by a symbol of her agency: a door that opens when she opens it. In accordance with such agency, Ferra enjoys being a ranch hand. She tracks a renegade mustang, flashbacks to the manslaughter self-defense that landed her in prison, and brings the mustang back to the ranch. The end.

Crit:

- This story was not bad overall, but some of its threads hang too loosely together. I hope my summary above will have made that clear. There are also some parts that feel forced or ham-fisted like the symbolism of the door and also the flashback scene.

8. QuoProQuid – Take a Gander

Summary: Harry, A recent millennial college graduate, undergoes a soul crushing job search. His will has been lost to the realities of his economic circumstances. Then his annoying cousin Matteo tries to badger him into going outside and looking at geese together. Harry stalls him. When he comes up for air, he notices Matteo is missing. So, Harry blusters his way out the door and goes to park where he finds Matteo.

Crit:

- The species is called “Canada goose” not “Canadian Goose.”

- The initial conflict doesn’t resolve one way or the other, or even progress very much at all.

- This story isn’t so much one about the protag trying to reconstitute his will, but rather one in which he gets interrupted from doing that because a more pressing conflict, a missing cousin, interrupts him.

- Dialogue between Harry and Matteo feels stilted to me.

- This is a classic problem of presenting an annoying character: when you succeed you fail. You may have done well at making Matteo annoy the reader…but you have annoyed the reader.

9. Kaishai – O My Daughter

Summary: The protag, Elodie, lost her will after a car accident maimed her and killed her adult daughter, Robin. Elodie now sits in isolation in her daughter’s house and routinely flashes back to the accident. Then Howard, Elodie’s ex, whom she apparently cheated on, bursts in on her. He says the house will soon be his and suggests that despite his resentment toward Elodie, he wants her to start living again—their daughter’s memory demands it. Elodie goes to Robin’s grave and bemoans that she can’t remember what used to make her smile. Then she remembers that Elodie had once wanted to go to Venice, so to Venice Elodie resolves to go. Once there, Elodie realizes she can’t enjoy this place her daughter wanted to go to without her daughter being there. She buys a “Wish You Were Here!” postcard, soon tears it up, sits at a gelateria and gets a bit terse with a waiter. Out of apparent sympathy, he gives Elodie a free dessert. It cheers her up, somewhat, and helps her picture Robin smiling. Then Elodie buys another postcard and sends it to Howard. Fin.

Crit:

- I mark as positive your sense of humor insofar as Elodie has also “lost” her stake in the house as per Robin’s last “will” and testament.

- You were really economical with your language. Look at all that plot summary with only 1100 words! Nice.

- Excellent use of imagery in the beginning. I really had a clear picture of the opening scene. You efficiently make clear Elodie’s stark isolation after having lost her will. Your adherence to the prompt was spot-on.

- I did catch the Shakespeare reference. Nice touch, and nice use of the prompt.

- The imagery is more cursory in the latter part of the story but that’s almost certainly because you ran out of words.

- It’s very hard for me to articulate this point of criticism, but basically it feels to me like there is some kind of conceptual leap within the sequence: [Elodie needs to move on and start living again]-->[So Elodie goes to Venice because Robin would have liked it (i.e. the idea had made her smile)]-->[Elodie tries and fails to enjoy Venice as she would have had Robin been with her]. I guess the sequence hangs together in such a way that I’m missing how Elodie could have thought that attempting something like that would really have worked to ameliorate things.

- I’m tempted to end my suspension of disbelief that a Elodie might get a fine dessert gratuito in a touristy place like Venice, ma bisognerò resistere all'impulso.

- This story is well worthy of the HM. It’s a poignant depiction of a grieving mom.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Agreed.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Chili, I have not forgotten about our brawl. You may Google Translate your current submission into any language and then run it back. The improvement will make for fairer sport.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Armack and Chili brawl

Armack
(850 words)

Imma be feeling myself heavy. In a couple years, no more self-consciousness, no closed-mouth instagram smiles, no Todd Alderman saying in front of the whole class I got teeth "like six miles of bad sidewalk." It’s type uncomfortable thinking about mouth pain from now til it’s done, but someday these pearly whites are about to be on fleek.

I miss Dr. V. She was crazy nice last time when she put my spacers in. Now that she's gone, that leaves Dr. Ed running Dimjerian Orthodontics and the place is hella transformed. The lighting’s dimmer, prolly to make it easier for the dental chair overhead to spotlight patients’ teeth. There’s a crusty looking book of teeth diagrams laid open on a table. In place of those motivational posters like “HOPE” and “PERSEVERANCE” Dr. Ed put up engravings of smiling creatures. One has a brace-faced eel coiled into the infinity symbol. The caption says, “Realigned! My smile says it all!”

The assistants haven’t changed though. Typical middle-aged yppo. They all:

“Mary-Susan, do you like the gel pens?”

“Golly, Mary-Theresa, I’m half IN LOVE with the gel pens.”

“Mary-Susan, I gotta tell ya I bought the gel pens for my kids and I think I use those dern things more’n they do.”

“Wooo, Mary-Theresa, you are SO bad.”

These bitches is whack. I'd walk away if I wasn't stuck lying in a dental chair with light blasting in my face. It’s all good tho.

The assistants examine me first. Mary-Theresa tells me I’m her “number one space cadet” because I kept my spacers in all this time since the last visit. She laughs at her own joke. This bitch is extra. Then Mary-Susan brings over a tray of metal braces and instruments and calls in Dr. Ed.

Though the assistants are rocking scrubs, Dr. Ed walks in wearing jorts and a navy blue tee-shirt. But at least he’s got a dental mask on. He walks over to me, asks about Ma Dukes right quick, then sets in. I’m dreaming of how poppin’ my smile’s gonna look in a couple years until I see something real gross. Dr. Ed’s got knuckle hair and I don’t mean just a little. This knuckle hair is spread like black mold in a flooded basement. He grabs a ring of metal, then enters deep into my mouth.

“Oomph, uhhh.” I try to object.

“Drop the sound effects,” he says. I don’t drop the sound effects, so after a minute or two he pulls his fist back.

“What!”

“Ain’t you gonna wear no gloves?”

“Oh, quit being dramatic! I washed up just fine.” He sticks his hand back in. After a minute he says, “Sorry. Didn’t mean to snap at you. Tell you what, all you have to do is think of how nice your smile will be when this whole process is over. Be patient with me. This is for a good cause.”

He’s right, I gotta endure. So I try to think about anything else: The new phone I’m tryna cop, that tight mumblecore, OUCH. Pretty hard to be patient when a motherfucker is straight up pressing sharp metal into my gums.

“Little more work to be done. You will feel a little pressure.”

I keep trying to distract myself through the pain. Volleyball. Alexa. Fortnite. That time I made out with Chang in 7th grade. I got this. I can chill for a while.

“Little deeper,” says Dr. Ed. He’s poking some kinda mental at one of my molars, and GODDAMN IT his knuckle hair tickles the inside of my upper lip. I’m about to boot my entire lunch up at this goon. I wretch hard, and before I know it my leg kicks up.

“Yoo dikk!”

I plant my foot into Dr. Ed’s side and he goes flying backwards into the table close by.

“Oh my God, I am so sor—” I start to say, sitting myself up in the chair.

Blood’s spurting out of his wrist. He must have nicked an artery or something on the metal he was trying to put in my mouth. Some drippings get onto the crusty tooth book.

Just then, the lights flicker. Out of nowhere a voice booms, “I AM COME.”

Mary-Susan gasps, “But we haven’t realigned enough of the chosen!”

Mary-Theresa’s eyes go all-white. “The bridge to this world is yet uneven,” she says in a voice not her own.

From out of the book slithers a eel-man made of teeth. “This form is weak. Who performed the blood sacrifice before realigning the golden number?”

“It...it was an accident, My Lord,” sputtered Dr. Ed.

“Fool. You shall pay for your incompetence.” The eel-man tooth creature chomps at Dr. Ed. He screams bite after bite, until going quiet half-way through. When the creature is done, he slithers back into the book. Mary-Theresa’s eyes go black and she drops to the floor. Mary-Susan gets all weepy and poo poo. So I turn to her.

“gently caress, I gotta wait longer to get braces now?”

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


I am in.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Macaulay Dred Met With The Dean That Morning
(1015 words)

And there the grim Medieval Studies doctor pled by eye a case her tongue would not pronounce. And lo, the Dean took note and shuffled nervously his forms. He cast his glance above his glasses’ rim. For there would be no tenure track afforded to the adjunct prof. Nor security in station nor in wage, and neither could Macaulay loose the litany of sighs her lungs had nocked.

A siren howled from afar. The Dean spake thus:

“Your teaching, Dr. Dred, is well reviewed. However, you have lagged in publications three terms now. The Middle Ages lend quite well to study. Until you shall advance your field, you won’t advance in rank.”

And oh the sea that was Macaulay’s blood could boil dead the pox, or harden hide, despite, she knew, that “Boiled Leather” is misnamed.

Then panting, Gupta entered, who was also known as James, the prodigy Medieval Studies grad from San Diego.

Spake the Dean, “We’re busy, James.”

Macaulay: “Gupta, do you deign to halt my faculty review?”

“Did you not receive the text?”

“My phone has died.”

“Alarms betoken a Code Blue. An active shooter stalks the campus grounds.”

“Alas,” Macaulay spake.

“Advisor, whist we tarry friends and colleagues fall. Assume once more The Knot’s empowered role. A wicked soul must needs be smote.”

##

“But everyone calls you James? Do you mind if I use your real name?”

“No, Dr. Dred, in fact I’d like that much.”

“You seem young to be a prospective grad student, Gupta.”

“Fourteen the ninth of June, complete with History B.A.”

“You must have a reputation as regular wiz kid, huh?”

“Such tales as those are told.”

“I don’t mean to offend, but I notice the way you talk is—”

“I shame at mine unworthiness, and hide my blushing face withal.”

“No, no, Gupta, I—"

“My consciousness affixes much to pattern and routine. The San Diegans torment me to endless pains. As I study things archaic, so too becomes my speech.”

“I think it’s a beautiful way of speaking,” said Macaulay. Then she stood and walked the length of her office to a file cabinet. She opened the bottom drawer. “Look.”

Inside there was a grey jumpsuit patterned like the works of M.C. Escher, with impossible stairs, loops, and animals superimposed with landscapes. Poking from the jumpsuit’s folds was a yellow mask with golden ratio spirals engraved in front.

Gupta gasped. “The Knot? You betray yourself to a stranger?”

“I have a feeling about you.”

“Wherefore did you eschew the plasma knotting?”

“Because people used to torment me as well. I was ridiculed daily online, doxxed a couple times, received a few credible death threats. I also had problems with how I was being portrayed in the media. A tabloid covered a bank robbery I thwarted mid-heist, writing that my jumpsuit made me look like ‘A Gordian Thot.’ Lots of BS to put up with if you’re going to be a masked crimefighter. I never liked weaving plasma knots anyway. My mom’s a retired Knot Specialist; The Gordian Knot was her dream, not mine. I’m like you, I’d rather focus on Medieval History, maybe even to excess.

She pointed to a wall-sized map at the far end of her office. “So you want to be a student of mine someday? Let’s hear your thoughts on Great Moravia.”

##

While The Knot beheld two campus rent-a-cops, whose final slumb’rings steeped in browning red, she heard a wailing from a vague beyond. Then it dawned that walls more pockmarked still than Gupta’s brutal adolescence yet exposed the shooter’s trail, a dot-by-dot procession down the hall. One by one each room of corpses, few survivors, finger points, and hollow whispers led Macaulay charging through the shooter’s door. Lecture Hall Eighteen, where she herself had taught The Hammer of the Witches toned a dissonance of gunfire and mirth. And so by consonance of math and magic did Macaulay forge three dozen plasma knots together to a bright and floating ball.

There inside the hall, the gig’ling shooter armed with semi-automatics stood from crumpled slump and turned to meet Macaulay’s eyes. Then Macaulay screamed in horror at the recognition of her mother cloaked in army garb and bullet sleeves aplenty.

Adelaide, Knot Specialist, turned perpetrator spake, “What joy it brings, for me to see my daughter as The Knot again. It’s time to live your destiny and vanquish darkness evermore.”

Then Macaulay swiftly tugged the floating ball, unrav’ling it of glowing plasma, which, her arms a-blur, she fashioned into plate. So Macaulay did advance toward Adelaide, and all the while the latter shot Macaulay’s feet to slow her down. Bullets ricocheted, thank God. The plasma plate mail held.

Footsteps from behind did grant Macaulay cause to pivot, then did Gupta enter via doorway shouting “Aid to injured souls!” Thus Macaulay chose to doff the plasma armor she had worn; try she did to waft it o’er to Gupta, but too late. Adelaide took aim and gunned him down and as the ship that was his spirit came unmoored, Macaulay teemed with rage, a state her mom exploited well. Adelaide let loose a hail of bullets at Macaulay’s calves and downed the prof withal.

“Always keep the heroine at base of who you are and all responsibility your power brings,” spake Adelaide. “Your role is scripted evermore; The Knot may never shy from fighting evil. I will trust my making evil proves it so.”

Then, as if to tempt the reaper, Adelaide shot three nonvital shots into her child. Dr. Dred fought agony to weave again and in a knot entwined her mom, thereby to smite her wicked soul to dust. Ever since, Macaulay set aside her passions and adhered instead to duty. As The Knot, though starkly broken mentally and drained of warmth, Macaulay saw her mother’s truth, mad though that may be. She lived her days a heroine behind a mask and traded much in privacy for valor, aiding all the helpless and rebuking evil in her path.

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Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Fleta Mcgurn posted:

I don't have Thunderdome archives account thingy; can anyone send me this guy?

Just go to https://thunderdome.cc/ and create a login.

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