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Jul 30, 2005

The Cadillac Man
1485 words.

It shocked Kevin to see the old native man sitting by a small fire in front of the line of Cadillacs as he and his friends passed through the gate. He’d expected they’d be the only ones there at eight in the morning on a Wednesday in January. He slowed and felt the other three doing the same behind him. The old man looked up and smiled, the creases around his eyes and mouth deepening. He waved at them, then motioned them to join him at the fire. Kevin lifted an arm in an answering wave.

“What the gently caress is Sitting Bull doing out here?” Jerry asked, keeping his voice low. “It’s freezing, and I thought he died a hundred years ago.”

“Don’t be an rear end, Jerry,” Paula said. “It is, in fact, freezing and he’s got a fire he’s nice enough to share.”

“I’m with Paula,” Siobhan declared, already striding forward. “Let’s warm up, paint something cool, and get back on the road.”

“And don’t call him Sitting Bull,” Kevin added. “You can go fifteen minutes without being a prick, I’m sure.”

Paula was already sitting down and warming her hands when the rest of the arrived. Up close, Kevin saw the man looked even older than he had at a distance. What he had thought of as creases before were more like crevasses. His hair was pure white, stark against his tawny skin. It was long and pulled back into a neat braid that hung down his back. He watched them with eyes that had once been a dark brown but were now clouded with cataracts.

“The name is Latrens, not Sitting Bull,” he said once they were all seated. His eyes were hard as he stared at Jerry. Jerry blushed and stammered an apology, but Kane started laughing. Great knee-slapping guffaws. “It’s fine, son. No worse than I’ve heard before. Made me laugh, at least.” He added another dried stick to the fire.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” Kevin said into the silence that followed. “Why are you out here in the cold?”

Latrens was quiet for a moment, staring into the flames. He raised his clouded eyes to Kevin’s and spoke in a solemn tone.

“Old Buffalo came to me in a dream,” he whispered. “Told me: Four students in danger, but Jerry most of all. You must warn them.”

“Man, what gently caress?” Jerry asked, scrambling back and trying to stand. His flap-eared hat fell from his head, and his jet black hair reflected the firelight. “He knows my name!”

Struck speechless by the absurdity of the reaction, Kevin could only stare at the spectacle. Siobhan was leaning forward, her eyes alight with interest. Paula had that look she got when she was a few seconds away from a skeptical cross-examination.

“Calm down, Jerry,” Paula said. “He heard your joke, of course he heard me say your name.” She turned her gaze on the old man, one eyebrow raised. “An old buffalo told you to warn us, huh?”

The old man threw his head back and laughed again.

“Of course not.” He told her, his shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter. “It’s peaceful here, in the mornings. And when it’s not, I get to meet new people. Share my stories.” He gestured vaguely toward the Cadillacs behind him. “Sometimes, they paint them for me.”

“The cars, or your stories?” Siobhan asked.

“Both. I did it myself when I was young, but now,” He brought his hands up. Gnarled, with enormous, deeply grooved knuckles. “Between my eyes and the arthritis…you understand.”

“So now you sit in the cold and wait to con impressionable young artists into doing it for you?” Paula asked, a hint of laughter in her own voice now.

“Con? Oh, no…most of them leap at the chance to paint for a mysterious old injun,” He flashed them a brilliant smile, his teeth seemingly the only part of him unaffected by age. “Besides, it’d be a shame to let the old stories die. This way, I get to share them.”

“I think you’ve sold us,” Kevin said. Siobhan and Paula were both smiling. Jerry sat to the side, arms crossed, still angry about the jokes made at his expense. He’s needed a dose of his own medicine for a while. He’ll live.

“Yeah, we need to get back on the road,” Paula said, opening her pack and taking out cans of spray-paint. “and this is better than the dicks Jerry would probably paint.”

The four students stood, gathering their supplies. Latrens smiled and stood with them, drawing a small drum out of a sack that Kevin had not noticed before. He was also holding a clay pot that looked to be full of a white paste.
“One more indulgence,” he said to them. “A daub of paint on the forehead, so they recognize you. An old superstition and I’ll understand if you say no.”

The students looked at each other. Siobhan shrugged and stepped forward.

“Why not?” she asked.

Latrens hummed under his breath as he dipped his thumb into the white paste and pressed firmly on her forehead, leaving a vaguely circular smear of paint. The others followed suit. Jerry came last, and he scowled as he did so. Not wanting to take part, but not wanting to look like the old man’s rituals frightened him.

“Now, go paint. I will tell you of Coyote and Skunk.” Latrens beat the drum in a slow rhythm. “One day, long ago, Coyote found himself hungry…”

The old native told them his story, and Kevin felt a rush of inspiration he hadn’t felt all semester. He knew exactly what he needed to paint. With can and brush, he created stylized scenes of Coyote and Skunk as they tricked a group of prairie dogs into becoming their meal. He’d never drawn anything in a native style before, but it seemed so natural. It flowed through him. He saw Paula with a can in each hand, recreating the scene of Coyote plucking the dancing prairie dogs one at a time as they danced. And Siobhan painting the race to see who got to pick the juiciest prize, with Skunk outwitting Coyote and taking most of the haul for himself. Jerry hunched over his own work, and Kevin could not see what he was making…but he did not move with the same easy flow as the others.

The drumming slowed as Latrens neared the end of his story, and the inspiration leaked out of Kevin’s mind, leaving him exhausted. It could only have been a few minutes, but he felt as if he had been standing and painting all day. He sat down and looked up at the scenes he had emblazoned on the car before him as the old man’s last words echoed across the prairie.

“Skunk thought he had won the day, but there was no better trickster than Coyote.” Latrens made his way to where Jerry still stood hunched over the door of a Cadillac. His steel gray braid moved with the wind. He laid a hand on Jerry’s shoulder.

“Let’s see what-“

He was cut off as Jerry jerked away from him, turning with that infuriating smirk Kevin knew so well. Ah, Christ…what now, Jerry? Kevin thought. He should have known Jerry would try to get the last laugh.

Emblazoned on the door in a dozen colors was an intricately detailed penis in a native tribal style.

“Goddammit, Jerry,” Paula said with her head in her hands.

“I don’t remember this from my tale,” Latrens said with a grunt, little of his former joviality remaining. His dark brown eyes pierced Jerry’s own. “But maybe you heard something different?”

“I drew a dick for an old dick,” Jerry replied with a shrug.

“So it seems,” the old man sounded tired. There was a deep sadness in his voice as he continued. “I think it’s time I make my way home.”

With that, he strode back to the fire and began pouring sand over the coals. He gathered up his sack, tying it shut with nimble movements of his fingers. Something tugged at Kevin’s memory, his exhaustion making it difficult to concentrate.

“Hey, don’t worry about Jerry. Thank you, we appreciate you sharing your legends with us.” Siobhan rose and shook his hand. The others, save Jerry, echoed her thanks. He flashed his smile at them again, the light crows feet at the corners of his eyes getting slightly more pronounced.

“Kee, urako,” he replied and turned to walk into the plains.

“Kee…urako,” Jerry whispered in a mocking tone as he put his hat back on and trudged toward the gate. Gray-streaked black hair still peeked from around the edges.

…but there was no better trickster than Coyote. The words echoed in Kevin’s mind, and he looked back to the plains where Latrens had been walking. There was no one to be seen.


Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
The Burden of Faith (945 words)

"You're the first of us to go. You'll do fine. Keep your chin up, eyes forward. You're capable of greatness. You have to believe that."

Jesse stepped off the bus with her duffel bag, smartphone in hand, her earbuds in place. It was six in the morning and she'd been listening to the same song on repeat. She hit replay and tucked it away.

She wore her brother's jacket and her hair cut short. Her hair was a vibrant bubblegum blue. No real reason. She just liked the color. If you didn't like it, you could go to Hell. Her brother's jacket was a little large. Her fingers emerged from the sleeves like talons. "I'm gonna getcha," she'd say to her dog. Arms up, talons bared. She was to be feared.

Myriad patches covered the jacket. Mementos from concerts she'd never attended.

The bus shut its doors and disappeared into the desert. In the distance she saw it: the shape of Salvation.

"Easy now, easy. You're getting by. Everyone struggles their first semester. You'll figure out what you want soon enough."

Jesse's dad operated a car shop at the outskirts of town. You knew a guy who knew a guy. That guy was him. He was short and bald with tired, calloused hands. Even so, he remembered to smile.

It was her brother who first spoke of going to college. Dad was supportive. “I’ll do what I can.” When she threw her name in there as well, he burst into laughter. “You two are gonna have me working nights!”

The accident was both a blessing and a curse. There was no way on Earth he could’ve paid for both of them.

Jesse stared down the Mountain. She tightened her grip on the bag at her side.

Salvation Mountain. She’d heard of it in passing. Nobody’d told her what it was. She’d only found out a few weeks ago, when her roommate found it on the Internet: a man-made mountain made from adobe, covered in paint, preaching God’s love.

“Man it looks ugly,” her roommate had said. She’d nodded absent-mindedly. Now, here she was.

A bearded young man near the entrance welcomed her, a puka shell necklace wrapped around his wrist. “Little early, ain’t it?”

“I want to see the sunrise.”

The young man laughed and waved her through. “No drugs or alcohol, and don’t leave your liter.”

Jesse approached the Mountain. It looked like a birthday cake fallen from heaven. Technicolor terraces covered in prayers, a cold metal cross all alone at the peak. The Mountain glowed in the early morning darkness.

The Mountain had been created and maintained by a man who believed in the enduring power and simplicity of Christ’s love. GOD IS LOVE claimed the Mountain, over and over, in every size and every color. There at the base sprang the yellow brick road. It snaked up Mountain till reaching the top. JESUS I’M A SINNER said the heart of the Mountain. COME UPON MY BODY, AND INTO MY HEART.

Jesse’s song ended. She took out her earbuds and put them in her pocket. She took a deep breath and shuddered in the calm. She dropped her duffel bag and sat down on it. She faced the Mountain and waited for the sun.

The Mountain had taken almost thirty years to build. She was looking at a third of someone’s whole life. A little garish, sure, but she wouldn’t call it ugly. Thirty years of love poured out for mankind. She could think of far worse to do for thirty years.

She wondered whether or not she was supposed to pray. Prayer felt appropriate, but the words wouldn’t come. “If this were a film I’d say something profound.” Instead she sat in silence. She hugged her knees, and waited.

“You’re capable of more, Miss Nowak. I don’t believe you’ve been giving your all. You’ve scraped by for now. You’re safe for the semester. In the new year I expect to see far more from you.”

The horizon turned blue, then a powerful orange, as the sun broke over the edge of the world. The cross turned black, consumed in light. The sun rose higher. The Mountain bloomed.

Once faded colors burned with clear, crisp purity. Greens and yellows and pinks and blues. She felt like a character in a pop-up book. A life-sized Candyland. The Wizard of Oz.

The yellow brick rolled was rolled out before her. Jesse stood up. She started the hike.

It was easy enough to reach the top. The Mountain itself was completely deserted. She wove between declarations of love. She reached the top and looked out from the peak. The desert spread out in every direction. Its vast emptiness was a sobering sight. Here on this island of love and color the world seemed a mighty, insurmountable thing.

She looked up to the cross. It alone stood naked and exposed, more like the wastes surrounding the Mountain. A harsh reminder, and a simple promise. She took a seat and looked to the sky. A plane was gently passing over.

“I miss you Brad,” she said to no one. “I’m trying my hardest. I’ll keep on trying.”

She stood up and turned to the cross. She bowed her head. Whispered some words. The trek back down passed with nary a sound. Soon she was waiting at the bus stop again.

She watched the cars awhile, then took out her phone. She dialed her dad's number. She could already see his smile.

Oct 23, 2008


Prompt: Ley lines
Undeath Of The Author
999 words

It was strange for anyone to risk Greyhill Road at night, and so the man who ambled his way along was equally strange. He followed the tip of a yew dowsing rod gripped firmly in both hands, his pince-nez was propped on a similarly pinched face, black hair going to grey and retreating on all fronts across a shining dome. From every point hung satchels, bags, and oddities, the largest being a mighty grimoire strapped across his back.

The leather strap that held the text in place carried an insignia, engraved with the words 'Imperial Scrivener, First Class'.

Despite the weight of his gear and the roughness of the trail, the scrivener wore a smile, peering with interest through his spectacles at his surroundings, every gnarled grey tree and looming stone monolith.

“Tuuuuuurn back...”

He paused, turning toward a tree by a crook in the road. Links of chain hung from a high branch, below which gathered a puff of blue-white mist. The mist formed into the spectral outline of a hanged man, moaning tortuously. “Tuuuuurn back!”

“Ah!” exclaimed the scrivener, holstering the rod and opening his book. “Splendid, splendid – an apparition! Class L-3, if I'm not mistaken.”

“In life, I committed great sins. And so I was sentenced to...” the ghost's story trailed off as he glanced down to the man furiously writing. “Are you listening?”

“Hm?” The scrivener glanced up. “Oh yes! Please, continue.”

“Right... great sins, for which I was condemned.” Scritch scritch scritch. “Condemned to stand watch on the precipice of madness.” Scribble scratch scritch. “Watching for...”

The ghost sighed, and the ethereal chain leashing him to the tree faded as he floated down to the scrivener. “Look, it's nothing grand, I'm just supposed to tell people to sod off before they go stirring up the spirit nest at yonder temple.”

“So there is a temple!” said the scrivener, his eyes lighting up. “Oh, splendid! Could you take me there?”

“You want to see it?” the ghost whispered, incredulous. “The Sightless Eye? Be cursed for a thousand years of service?” When the scrivener's smile didn't fade, the ghost just sighed again. “Okay pal, it's your funeral.”

The pair turned off the road and up the hill, where the last few trees gave way to rocky passes and cliffs. With his spectral guide's help, the scrivener ascended the hilltop, discovering a ruin carved into the living rock. A sculpture of a great sightless eye topped the temple.

“There,” muttered the ghost, thumbing in the temple's direction. “You've seen it. Now scarper before you – wait!”

Heedless, the scrivener had taken one step onto the plateau, which immediately came alive with blue-white mist. Cackling forms of all kinds emerged, men, beasts, and things older than men and beasts, all with eyes gouged.

“The watchman has failed!” howled an elderly spirit in priestly vestments. “The sightless eye feeds tonight!”

“Hm,” mumbled the scrivener as he scratched down another note. “Seems like mixed metaphors to me.”

The spirits hoisted their prey and flew him through the main arch. The temple was built around a massive sinkhole, within which blue-white mist boiled. “The eye demands sacrifice!” the spirit-priest screamed.

The ghost, trailing close behind the scrivener, cleared his throat. “Look, I don't know if you've noticed, but you're about to die.”

The scrivener looked down to see that he was indeed being lowered to his doom, blinked once, and frowned.

“Just thought you ought to know.”

“Much obliged.” He was up to his waist now before extracting a flare gun from a satchel. He pointed the muzzle vaguely upward and fired. The bright white bolt whistled clean through the assembled spirits with barely a ripple, high in the sky.

“Your mortal weapons hold no dominion here,” the lead spirit growled, but the scriviner ignored it.

The explosion lit up most of the night with a brilliant light, all except a stubborn dark cloud. The light went out, and then one by one, so did the stars, as the revealed cloud deepened and spread.

A cold wind began to blow. The sound of thunder, quiet at first, grew in intensity.

The spirits at once set to shrieking, casting the scrivener aside in their rush to flee, though they seemed bound to the temple grounds. Confused, the ghost looked over to the now-abandoned scrivener. “I'm sorry, it hardly seems fair,” he admitted. “I'm the one who should've been warning you.”

A bolt of lightning arced into the top of the temple, sending the sightless eye crashing to the ground.


The old woman sat cross-legged at the bottom of the still-smoking crater. High above her, a great ball of black cloud simmered, but no longer gouged the earth with lightning or lashed it with gales. She was wrapped in rags, furs, and feathers – all black, except for the stark white bird skull worn as a mask.

She was doing... something, but the scrivener had learned not to look too closely at his partner's work, or the disappearing trails of blue-white mist that surrounded her. The sound was harder to ignore, something that brought to mind cracking bones and gnawing marrow.

The scrivener turned his attention to the horizon. A flock of Imperial airships loitered a respectful distance away, their pilots having learned from experience to give the Thunderhead a wide berth while it fed. The scrivener began idly counting the pumps and refinery stacks lashed to each ship's hull, waiting to be offloaded and installed on the newly-bared ley line.

“Scrivener,” the old woman rumbled. The mist was gone. She turned the twin hollows of her mask toward him. The centre of the skull was branded with the same imperial insignia he carried. “Where next?”

The scrivener smiled and hauled out his book, cracking the spine and running a finger down the list of candidates. Only myths, of course, but the scrivener loved myths – if they proved true, his writing would be the last place they'd live on. Life after death. Sort of.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

The Enchanted Forest - Turner, OR

High on Idiot Hill
900 words

Roger hefted his entrenching shovel, a battered old thing his pa brought back from the war, and jammed it into the dirt. It bit deep and he stepped on the top of the blade, wiggled it back and forth to work it down, felt it cut through roots. When the blade had disappeared all the way into the ground he leaned on the the handle and levered up a fat prism of rich Oregon soil.

He knelt down to inspect it, rubbing the moist soil between his hands. It had rained that morning and the ground was wet, a cool dampness coming through his jeans at the knee. The dirt had a worm in it and he stroked it with his thumb, frowning. He sniffed at the dirt, then, his expression uncertain, he put out his tongue and touched it to a brown smear on his hand.

“Dinner’s not for two hours,” said his wife.

“Oh, Mavis, dear,” Roger said, standing up. He brushed the dirt off his hands. “I was looking for -- I had a notion.” He smiled at his wife and adjusted his glasses. A thought struck him and he squatted down and searched on the ground. The worm was wriggling its way into the shovel cleft and he brushed a few pats of dirt over it.

Mavis sat down beside him. “So what’s your notion? You want to get the folks at the office to run a road through up here, or --” Her eyes widened as the damp soaked through. “OK, now, that’s a fresh feeling for the ol’ caboose.”

Roger settled down on to his haunches and plucked a stem of grass. “You know when my pa came back from, from away, and he’d sit out the front on his chair? I used to sit with him in the evenings sometimes, though he didn’t say much. But one night, just like this, after the rain, he said ‘there’s a lot of ground beneath us, and it knows more than we’ll ever know’.”

Mavis waited for a few moments, but Roger didn’t seem inclined to continue, chewing his grass and looking at the valley below. She nodded encouragingly. “That’s a nice thought, dear. My behind is getting really quite wet. Shall we--”

“He died the next week,” said Roger. “I’ve been trying to work out what he meant ever since.”

Mavis considered for a little while. “Maybe it was some kind of archaeological reference? Lots of Indians round these parts. I guess they all tromped on the soil, and their fathers before them.”

Roger took the grass out of his mouth and turned to look at her as though he was about to say something. As he did the sun came out from the cloud it had been hiding behind. Her face, he thought, was beautiful. “That’s part of it,” he said. “There’s more though.”

“Is the rest of it the part that explains, my dear husband, why you were perched all alone up here licking worms like a crazy hobo?” asked Mavis, with her most exaggerated East Coast politesse.

Roger laughed, stood up and pulled up the shovel. “Maybe. Come on darling, I don’t want any part of you to catch a chill.”

She took the offered hand and they picked their way down through the larch saplings they’d planted the year before.

As they walked he talked, softly and without looking at her, focusing on his feet. “It’s dumb, and I guess a little weird, but there’s something down there. There’s something in there, under our feet. That’s what I was, I don’t know, looking for. It’s dumb because it’s just soil. But I feel like I could turn around just fast enough and I’d catch something out of the corner of my eye. And it would change everything.”

Mavis jumped on a log and hopped down the other side, half sliding down a steep part of the track. “I used to think the coat of the back of my door would come alive at night. I’d see it move, though I suppose it must have been a trick of the light.”

Roger nodded eagerly. “That’s right,” he said. “And if we can see it in little things like coats imagine how much more life is stored in all the dirt that’s around under our feet?”

“Well that’s good, I guess, what are you going to do about it? Dig a lot more holes? Quit roads, move to holes?” She had a questioning look on her face, but there was something about the question that was resonating in her head, as though each word was a single bell sounding in a deserted chapel.

They were at the top of a long grassed slope that swept down to the house. The sun was nearing the horizon. Roger planted the shovel and took both of her hands in his. "The land here is so strong. I can feel it, I can smell it. Maybe even taste it. I want to find out what my pa meant and I think we need people for that. People coming through this place, walking on the land."

Mavis raised an eyebrow. "What, like walking tours? It's just a hill, Roger." But she was listening for the shimmering tintinnabulation of the lone bell in the abandoned chapel and she could see, in his sun-drenched eyes, that he could hear it too.

"No," he said. "Legends, myths, I don't know. We'll work it out. It will be a lot of work. We'll convince them all and they'll come and they'll walk the land, and, and..."

Mavis stepped forward into his arms. "And?"

Roger grinned at her and it was like all the bells rang at once in one single chime. "I don't know. But I'm looking forward to finding out."

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat
Gone to Waste
999 words


Jerry awoke, more or less, and struggled to care enough to lift his arm to his alarm clock. Every morning was like this now. He would like to get up, of course. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEP! Yes, the alarm was a nuisance. But it was hard to care about such a trivial bother next to the impossible beauty he felt simply lying in his bed, especially on a Saturday. He went back to sleep. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEP! The alarm clock would sound for another hour and a half, until he finally roused himself enough to give it a languorous slap and sleep for a few hours more.

Jerry had purchased his new mattress after hearing his favorite podcasts endorse it. Its comfort and quality had immediately struck him when it was first delivered, but any new mattress would be so notable after the torn, sagging bag of springs that it had replaced. As the nights and mornings slid by, though, Jerry came to realize that, somehow, his bed had become his favorite place to occupy, and its almost irresistible attraction began to concern him. It was beginning to seriously disrupt his routine, and if he couldn't get himself together, his employment would be in real danger.

When Jerry finally rolled out of bed at 3 in the afternoon, he was disgusted with himself. He wasn't even wasting his free time on nothing; this was less than nothing. He was fed up. Saturday, the end of the week, would be the end of this insane habit. He went out for a jacketless walk in the January air, hoping to clear his head with a stiff shot of cold reality.

He nearly, very nearly, made it down the steps to the sidewalk without slipping on an icy stair and breaking his arm.

Jerry refused to go to bed when he got back from the hospital that evening. The challenge had become greater, but all the greater would be his resolve in reforming himself. He decided that he would spend the evening reading in his chair for as long as he could before going to bed, and he would wake up no later than 7:30 the following morning. He wrote GET UP, YOU IDIOT! on his cast in Sharpie before sitting down with the biggest book on his little bookshelf, an O. Henry collection. A little after midnight, he decided that he had held out long enough to make his point, and he went to bed.


Jerry had slept uneasily, both from the stress of his inescapable self-reproach and from the awkwardness of the cast on his arm, and he didn't even need the plaster's message to swat like a cat at the clock beside him.

The awful cracking noise he heard annihilated his lethargy.

Had he really managed such a stupid gently caress-up so soon? His arm motionless, Jerry gingerly tried to turn his head around for a look without moving any of the adjacent muscles. He was some way through this maneuver when he realized that his arm felt perfectly fine. He gave it an experimental flex, and the cracked plaster scraped as it moved. It was insane, but his arm was perfectly intact! Jerry sat up in bed, pulled the cast off, and stared at his arm. Then his gaze drifted down to the bed.

How fortunate that Sunday afforded him the time for an experiment. It didn't take long for his bicycle to get up to speed, and it spun as gracefully as a sycamore seed as Jerry, cranking the handlebars left as hard as he could, felt his side grind satisfyingly into the rough ice underneath.


The old towel was crusted with scab when Jerry peeled it away that evening, but his skin was perfectly smooth and unbroken. He had been right. And now that he understood what was going on, he wouldn't be so cluelessly swayed by the mattress's comfort. It was a tool now, not a trap.

The question, of course, was what to do with this knowledge. He suspected that this was not a standard feature of the mattress model, or word would have circulated long before now. Would he keep it to himself? Would he share it with a close few? Would he come right out and offer therapeutic naps on the thing for a modest fee?

Jerry waffled on this question for years. Like getting out of bed, big questions have a way of putting themselves off. As time went on, though, his friends noticed that he didn't seem to be getting any older. It was impressive after five years; it was suspicious after ten. It was downright unsettling after fifteen. And still Jerry couldn't bring himself to tell.

"Jerry," his friend Alex said to him one day, "tell me what's going on with you! It's really starting to scare me!" Jerry coughed wetly; he had a bad case of the flu.

"You really want to know?"

Alex rolled his eyes. "No, I'm just wasting your time because I have nothing better to do."

Jerry told him about the mattress. Alex gave him the finger and walked away, ignoring Jerry's entreaties to just sleep on it for a night and see if he still has that cough, telling Jerry to gently caress off, you creepy weirdo. Jerry knew it was hopless. Alex wouldn't have believed anything short of Jerry being a vampire. Of all the stupid ways to be immortal...

But even as the mattress preserved Jerry's body, it did nothing to prolong itself. As it turned into a torn, sagging bag of springs, Jerry felt the years catching up to him, one by one at first, then by twos and threes. His frozen youth turned out to be a mere mid-life anomaly, and it fell from people's minds as decisively as it had captured them.

Mar 21, 2010
anomalous blowout more like anonymous buttface

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006


It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

anomalous blowout more like anonymous buttface

The sheer hubris of a man who posts a callout without punctuation. Written like a true goon: too lazy to even lift your leg for that weak fart of a post. Reminds me of your writing.

Bring it, you lower case rear end bitch.

Mar 21, 2010



Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

:siren:Surreptitious Blowout Fungal Butt Brawl:siren:

Fungi are very weird aren't they, yes they are don't answer me it was a rhetorical question.

Write me up to 10,000 words on three characters in a world where the fungi have won. It can be neither bleak, nor grim, nor depressing.

Sitting here will help judge bc she is more mushroom than woman, these days

28 Feb 2359 PST, toxx up

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 09:25 on Jan 28, 2019

Apr 11, 2012
Edit: Wow, mojo's fast

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
I owe some people a brawl judgement. My internet gets set up today, so expect that soon!

Jun 28, 2018

You weren't born to just pay bills and die.

You must suffer.

A lot.
Entries Closed for this week. Thank you to all that managed to slap their keyboard until enough words spilled out to be judged.

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.

sebmojo posted:

:siren:Surreptitious Blowout Fungal Butt Brawl:siren:

Fungi are very weird aren't they, yes they are don't answer me it was a rhetorical question.

Write me up to 10,000 words on three characters in a world where the fungi have won. It can be neither bleak, nor grim, nor depressing.

Sitting here will help judge bc she is more mushroom than woman, these days

28 Feb 2359 PST, toxx up

Oh poo poo where's my loving popcorn

Apr 12, 2006
should have been 10000 min imho

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Inter prompt: "there's only shroom for one of us in this town" 350 words

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

sebmojo posted:

Inter prompt: "there's only shroom for one of us in this town" 350 words

Braden and Zach looked despondently at the sandwich bag sitting on the table between them. Inside was a single mushroom cap, hardly enough to send a pair of strapping young men through the doors of perception.

"Dude," said Zach indignantly.

"Dude," Braden said dismissively.

"You said there was enough for both of us to have a trip of the balls variety," Zach said.

Braden tapped a finger to his temple and gave Zach a knowing smile. "Watch and learn bro watch and learn."

To Zach's horror, Braden withdrew the cap from the bag and popped it in his mouth before Zach could object. Moments later the top of Braden's head exploded open and out of it grew a giant mushroom stalk and cap, which immediately let loose a semenous burst of spore that not only inoculated Zach, but Zach's neighbors, town, and, eventually, the entire world.

And lo, the whole world did trip balls, and Braden saw that it was good.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 23:30 on Jan 28, 2019

Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.

sebmojo posted:

Inter prompt: "there's only shroom for one of us in this town" 350 words
The Time I Didn't See Anything Strange

You don't even hallucinate, by the way, and you see nothing you haven't seen before. You just see it properly, all of Creation in total clarity like you're staring down God, and that's how I knew Kyle had it coming. All life is connected in an inescapable cycle: mushroom grows in poo poo, I consume mushroom, and in my revelation I kick seven shades of habitat out of him.

I'm waiting at the twenty-four hour shop and petrol station on the edge of town, because I and that sin-against-Mankind Kyle basically have, like, the same soul? Sure, his is stained the inky musky black of deceit but we are both pretty bad at people, I guess, and both pretty good at hanging around quiet places at one in the morning. The point is, this is where we'd be if we weren't tripping balls right now and as someone with perfect awareness of every sensation he's ever felt I am definitely not tripping balls, even accounting for the petrol fumes, and so neither is he. THEREFORE, right, he'll be here. It's easy to figure this stuff out when you're sober.

And the lanky sod comes round the corner exactly when the Universe needs him to, of course, which is now. I storm across the uneven concrete of the petrol station concourse and punch him in the jaw. He goes down.

“You said I'd see things, you arsehole!”

Kyle grins at me from the ground. “Look man,” he says. “You know how ultimately none of our senses can be trusted and how we could all totally be living in, like, a simulation, right?”

gently caress. He's got me there. I nod.

“Well,” he says, “turn around a sec, okay? Really.”

“I'm not that stu-”

He holds up his hands in surrender. “You gotta see this, man.”

“Okay,” I say. “Just for a second.” I look back to the bright lights of the petrol station only for a beat, but by the time my eyes swing back Kyle is impossibly gone, dissolved back into the rest of Creation like he was never there.

I laugh. Goddamn mushrooms, right.

Obliterati fucked around with this message at 01:35 on Jan 29, 2019

Jun 28, 2018

You weren't born to just pay bills and die.

You must suffer.

A lot.
The real losers of this bunch were the nine folks that failed to post a story. If you are going to waste our time with the assignment of a prompt, then at least force us to read your word vomit. Failures, all of you.

For DM's, we felt that Saucy_Rodent's was a Simon and Garfunkle song fic instead of a place of power. There is a glimmer of an interesting idea, but half of the judges couldn't determine if the place of power was the moon or the childhood home. You are joined by Devorum who wrote a story riddled with tropes that we had to invest more than five minutes into internet research to determine if the story was racist or not. Not a good sign.

Neither of you lost, which goes to Simply Simon who dropped us into the middle of a Fantasy Key Word Bingo Night. This would have fared much better as a Road To El Dorado fan fiction. At least we would have understood what the characters meant to one another and the stakes would not have felt hollow. There are inconsistencies in this story that can be improved, which we will address in crits.

There were a few stories that we were incredibly pleased with this week. Pham Nuwen is a very tight story that develops a solid narrative that executes consistently. The judges were unsettled, which is a difficult sensation to build in writing because it demands subtlety. For this, you HM'd this week. The judging panel was deeply divided on the other story offerings, and it was escalating to 'words' at which point we all agreed that SlipUp's story had the most consistent reaction across all of us. We enjoyed it. It was a poor connection to the prompt but it was creative, concise, and we all laughed. Take our gratitude in an HM.

The win this week goes to Tyrannosaurus. Your story has some structural issues, but it evoked strong emotions in all of us. None of us could actually remember the title, and so it was renamed several times, but we all took something away from it. It is a very strong story framework, and it deserves to be fleshed out further. This story reimagined a prompt, gave the place of power a new interpretation of origin, and elevated value in otherwise mundane details.

Congrats Tyrannosaurus and thank you all for participating.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Bonus Crits I owe from my last week

Flesnolk: Every Night in San Rafael

This one threw me first time around, because, I've been to the actual San Rafael, a tiny North Bay town absorbed into the Bay Area megaplex rather than an invented huge city somewhere westward of Fresno. But now I'll put that exercise of poetic license aside and look again.

The opening paragraph sets a broad mission statement, maybe too broad, since the second one narrows the subject down to 'regret’, where it stays tightly focused. Taking out t or adjusting the examples that don't fit that theme, the ones that affirm a dreamer's decisions from that first paragraph might strengthen the piece. Other than that, I think it works, is at or very close to the right length, could possibly use a punchier ending, but is an overall good story.

Yoruichi, the alchemist

This is a really effective little piece of writing, a strong character sketch through indirection, exactly what the prompt called for. Had I been judging it might have been an HM contender but for the fact that your other entry took the win. If I have any questions, they would be with the title, with calling this person an alchemist. There doesn't quite seem enough to support that particular title over, say, scientist, genius, philosopher, savant, or inventor. Alchemist carries a certain mysticism and questing nature that isn't quite here.

Also, the Oxford comma. It's not always mandatory, but “on, in, and under the bench” just has a better flow.

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 07:31 on Jan 29, 2019

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Tyrannosaurus posted:

uhhhhh where the gently caress is the prompt

Reasonable question TBH.

Apr 12, 2006
Well, I don’t know about you but I’m in the middle of a polar vortex. There is snow everywhere and it’s brutally cold and I don’t know how long I’ll have heat or water but… I don’t have to go to work! And the snow is really pretty! Everything kinda feels like Christmas! So let’s just go ahead and pretend it’s a proper holiday and get inspired by the greatest holiday movie of all time!

The lessons we can learn from off-duty New York policeman John McClane’s fight against Hans Gruber’s highly organized band of criminals who are pretending to be terrorists so as to mask their true intentions of stealing millions in bearer bonds from a Los Angeles skyscraper during an employee Christmas party are positively timeless. It is a great film, one of the greatest films in fact, and I want you to write great stories so let's try and tap into some of that greatness, shall we?

There are gonna be three Big Rules for your stories this week. You'll need to fulfill all three if you want to win so pay close attention!

The first Big Rule is Christmas. Your story must be set during the season of Christmas. Does it have to be particularly relevant? No. Can it be? Sure. Does it need to be there? Ab-so-lutely. We’ve all seen Die Hard. This shouldn’t be difficult. And it’s making me laugh as a concept so go with it.

The second Big Rule of the week is Randomly Generated Netflix Genre. I will assign you a genre. Your story must be written in your assigned genre. Die Hard isn't on Netflix. I didn’t know this when I was looking for it last night which means I scrolled through a lot of goofy-rear end genre suggestions while looking for something equivalently great (impossible, I know, I know). Now, of course, I didn't write anything down so I'll mostly be winging these assignments. And by “winging” I mean these probably aren't real genres, I’m probably mashing things together on the fly, and they’re probably gonna be weird but they should be a lot of fun. It'll be fun. I'll have fun. If somehow you don't appreciate my absolute genius the first time around I… I guess you can :toxx: and get a second option... if you’re cool with it lowering my opinion of you. Or you can just toxx right away and start off with two to genres to pick between. Whatever, man. Nothing matters and we're all going to die! Happy Holidays!

Now, if this isn’t complicated enough yet and you would like a challenge, consider upgrading to Super Cool Max Extra Holiday Jolly Mode! No extra words for doing this. No extra consideration from your judges. No going hardcore if you’ve already signed up and received a normal genre. No getting seconds by toxxing either because bravery doesn’t come with second chances. All you get is 1) a genre that'll be bizarre as gently caress and wild as hell and 2) an opportunity to impress me. That should be enough for you as long as you’re not a coward.

The third and final Big Rule of this week is Have Fun. This is mandatory.

Be creative. Be wild. Write good words. But don’t write more than 1600 words. That’s your limit. Deadline to sign up is Friday at midnight est. Deadline to submit is Sunday at midnight est.

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 15:43 on Jan 29, 2019

Apr 12, 2006

Cascade Beta :toxx:
Obliterati :toxx:
Pham Nuwen
QuoProQuid :toxx:
M. Propagandalf
cptn_dr :toxx:
QM Haversham
GenJoe :toxx:

Brave Writers!
Sham bam bamina!
Entenzahn :toxx:
onsetOutsider :toxx:

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 05:26 on Feb 4, 2019

Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving And something has got to give


Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat
Sure. Jolly Mode.

Feb 14, 2009

by Cyrano4747
I will force myself to submit even if it costs me 1,000 dollars. In, :toxx: me up.


Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.
In, and due both to my horrendous submission record and YOLO, :toxx:

Apr 12, 2006

Great! Your story needs to be a Nostalgic Deep Sea Feel-Good Slasher!

Sham bam bamina! posted:

Sure. Jolly Mode.

Oh boy! I'm so excited I can't stand it! You'll be giving me a Super Cool Max Extra Holiday Jolly Psychological Creature Feature Secret Society Period Piece About Parenthood!

CascadeBeta posted:

I will force myself to submit even if it costs me 1,000 dollars. In, :toxx: me up.

I like your style! I bet I'll like your writing even more! You can choose between Emotional Filipino Car Chase or Satanic Sci-Fi From the 1990s!

Obliterati posted:

In, and due both to my horrendous submission record and YOLO, :toxx:

Don't worry! I'm sure you'll do fantastic with either a Gritty Love Triangle Set in Latin America or some good old fashioned Viral Plague Police-Corruption!

:siren: Don't forget to set it during Christmas, everybody! :siren:

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 16:14 on Jan 29, 2019

Aug 7, 2013



Jolly Mode me.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010


Apr 12, 2006

ThirdEmperor posted:

Jolly Mode me.

Wow oh wow! Another person for a Super Cool Max Extra Holiday Jolly Genre! I would love to read-- and you will provide me with-- a Goofy Cerebral Hit-Man Drama From the 1910s About Cats!

Wonderful! You'll be contributing to that well-known, very popular genre of Underdog Mad-Scientist Prison Stories!

Apr 11, 2012
Jolly mode

Apr 12, 2006

Flesnolk posted:

Jolly mode

I know I'm the one giving out the Super Cool Max Extra Holiday Jolly Genres but you writing me an Absurd Visually Striking Italian Wilderness-Survival Drama about Gambling would be the real present!

Feb 25, 2014

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

i will :toxx: in

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Jolly mode.

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Jolly me.

Apr 7, 2013

I'm in

Jan 25, 2019


Jul 30, 2005

In. Upgrade me to Jolly Max Mode.


M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008


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