Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
Apr 13, 2009

it's... sting...
Prompt: Opposites Attract Vigilante Romance

No Contact
1444 words

Verdigris stared through his sniper scope as snow collected on him. An hour more of and he'd be a convincing snowman.

The office he looked into was covered in gaudy Christmas decorations; the Rudolph figurine on his target's desk blinked gaily every three and a half seconds. Verdigris would have shot the drat thing hours ago of it wouldn't have given him away. Out of spite, more than annoyance. Since becoming a hitman, Verdigris had never gotten to spend a Christmas in front of a fire place with hot cocoa and a book.

But the pay was good, assuming he made the kill.

The office door swung open. Verdigris took in a sharp breath, held it. The target, Russ Bushman, loped drunkenly into his office. Behind him, like a shadow, was Hitter, another assassin.

No, no, no, thought Verdigris. He pulled the trigger twice. Both hits, both kill shots. But had Hitter stabbed the bastard first?

Verdigris swiveled his scope, centering it on Hitter's squat, burly form. The smug jerk! Hitter waved and smiled at Verdigris, held up a knife covered in blood.

With a sigh, Verdigris began packing up his rifle and its tripod. He was already dreading returning to KWaC. Disputing a kill on Christmas was already bad, but disputing with Hitter? Verdigris felt a migraine setting in.


Killers With a Conscious was a non-profit assassins organization. The corrupt government sent them sizable grants for "bettering life for the do-gooders of society." KWaC's leader and lifelong activist, Merc, researched and investigated and picked juicy targets. To maintain the grants, targets were usually gutsy journalists edging up on revealing the extensive corruption. But Merc also prioritized just plain lovely people.

Russ Bushman made a living exploiting his workers and creeping on his secretaries, none of whom stayed around longer than a month. Merc put Bushman's folder back on her desk and looked from Verdigris to Hitter and back.

"Ma'am, my knife was tickling Bushman's aorta before any bullets hit. It seems pretty cut and dry to me." Hitter crossed his arms. Verdigris couldn't help but notice the man's taut forearms. He quickly looked away, but saw a grin creep onto Hitter's face.

"And where did your shots land, Verdy?" Merc asked.

Verdigris rolled his eyes at the nickname before he could stop himself. He coughed. "Left eye and throat. Through the esophagus and spine."

"Definitely kill shots, then," Merc said, impressed. "Can you two split the pay?"

Verdigris said, "Hell no." Hitter said, "Sure."

Shocked, Verdigris turned to Hitter, was annoyed to see the man's grin now a charming toothy smile.

"Scratch that, you can have the whole reward, on one condition." Hitter's eyes gleamed with mirth. "Let me cook you a Christmas goose."

Verdigris scoffed. "As if I'd accept that. Besides," he continued. "I'm vegetarian."

Hitter chuckled and muttered, "Of course you are."

Merc cleared her throat, said, "Quit flirting and tell me who I'm sending the money to."

“Send it to Verdy, ma’am,” said Hitter. He winked. “Sorry for the bother.” To Verdigris he said, “Give me your number, I’ll text you my address.”

Verdigris was dumbfounded. He followed Hitter out of Merc’s office, then left KWaC headquarters. Before long he found himself at home. Why was that gruff little punk asking him to dinner? His phone buzzed.

H here, im at 476 west 4th. buzz 21. gimme an hour

I gave him my number? Verdigris thought. Another notification showing the funds from the kill. That son of a bitch.


Verdigris stood at Hitter’s door in a pressed black button-up, tucked into slate gray slacks. His hair was still damp from a shower and an errant strand kept slipping down to rest on his brow. He was slightly embarrassed for showing up, more embarrassed when Hitter opened the door. Hitter was dressed much more casually in a tank top and sweatpants.

Hitter looked Verdigris up and down and that annoying smirk came back. They walked into Hitter’s kitchen. Verdigris was affronted by the smell of the goose. Perhaps sensing Verdigris’ distaste, Hitter said, “Don’t worry, I’ve got salad and baked potatoes. Mind opening the wine?”

It was a decent Bordeaux, more Merlot than Cabernet, just as Verdigris preferred. He poured a glass for himself and his host. “So, did you invite me here to taunt me? Make fun of my methods?”

“Nah, nothin’ like that. I think you’re cute. And, to the contrary,” Hitter bent down to check a tray of rolls in the oven. “I’ve always been impressed by you. I don’t have the kind of patience to just sit there watching. I like sneaking right up on folks, and-” He brandished a carving knife, stabbing up between imaginary ribs.

“So gauche, knives. But you get the job done.” Verdigris sipped his wine. Nice and smooth, earthy with a touch of spice. He sauntered into Hitter’s small living room, which felt even smaller with a decorated spruce tree occupying one whole corner. He looked at Hitter's record collection. Nothing to his taste. His heart pounded in his ears. Cute? Hitter thought he was cute? He felt flush. Must just be the wine, he thought.

A few minutes of silence passed. When Hitter had the table set he invited his guest over. He held his glass up and said, “To Christmas, and to new friends.” They clinked glasses.

“Thank you, by the way,” said Verdigris, undressing his potato.

“For the food? Or for the kill?”

“For saying I’m cute.” Verdigris smiled his slow, patient smile. “I’m afraid you’re not my type, though.”

“Too much meat on my bones?” Hitter laughed at his pun.

Verdigris swallowed a bite of potato, shaking his head. “You’re a little rough around the edges.”

“I suppose I am. You’re not the first to say that.” Hitter offered a smile of his own, eyes twinkling.

Verdigris helped clear the table once they were finished, then he made an excuse and headed towards the door. Behind him, Hitter said, “I’m Abe.” Verdigris turned, eyes wide.

“You shouldn’t have told me that.”

“I know I can trust you,” Hitter replied, drying off a wine glass.

Verdigris faced the door, opened it. “Phillip.” He left.

Not my type? What was I thinking! Verdigris chastised himself the whole way home. Sure, Hitter was a little gruff, chewed his meat too loudly, too forthright. But he was a good looking man, nice and fit. Verdigris thought of Hitter’s muscled chest, with its forest of dark hair. He looked at his phone. A message from Hitter.

gimme one more date, eh phil? you pick the activity


A week later and he and Hitter were on a job together. He picked off guards from the top of a nearby building, clearing the way for Hitter.

“Hey, you’re taking away all my fun!” Through Verdigris' earpiece Hitter sounded anything but annoyed.

“Okay then. Next door on your right, one, five paces into the room. Pistol in a shoulder holster.” Through the scope, Verdigris watched Hitter kick the door in and slash the unsuspecting thug’s throat. Blood sprayed onto Hitter’s skin-tight getup, but rolled right off it. “Fancy jumpsuit there.”

Hitter barreled through the hallway and into a stairwell as more guards came up behind him. Verdigris took them down with three well placed bullets. “Thanks, V. Two for one at the bodega.”

“Target’s alone now. Poor sap.”

“Say no more.”

Hitter’s movements were a joy to watch. He liked how the knife-happy assassin scowled with every stab. He was a fierce little bugger.

The target didn’t notice the door open. Hitter padded right over to him and said, “This was too easy, V.” The man spun around in time to catch a knife in the heart.

“I’ve cleared an escape route for you, Hitter. Should be smooth sailing.” Verdigris scanned ahead to make sure no more guards had shown up. Then he heard Hitter grunt. He swung the scope back to the penthouse and saw Hitter on the ground, grappling with a bodyguard twice his size.

A pause to line up the shot, then a soft thud of his silenced rifle. The guard slumped onto Hitter. The small hitman pushed the guard aside. “God, that guy’s breath stank.”

Verdigris said, “Meet ya at HQ.”

Outside KWaC headquarters, Verdigris eyed Hitter with an apparent hunger.

Puzzled, Hitter paused at the door. "What is it?"

"Can I kiss you?" Verdigris asked.

Hitter knitted his brows. “I thought I wasn’t your type.”

“I lied." He leaned down and kissed Hitter, relished the smell of him. "Now let's go get our money."


Sep 30, 2006

stayin c o o l
1014 Words

The imposing tower before me stretched infinitely into the sky, escaping the atmosphere above. I've arrived at the space elevator. It went to the docking station, where an interstellar transport named ‘Echo’ awaited its final cargo before escaping Sol’s light forever.

I’m fine with that. Terra’s happier without the halfies. Everyone wins.

The man with a mustache at the counter inside checks my papers.

“No guardian? Where are you going, Proxima Centauri?” He asks.

“Barnard's Star,” I say.

“Barnard’s?” He asks as he bristles his nose. “It has a nasty frog problem you know.”

I say nothing. I don’t need a kick in the rear end on the way out, thanks.


I spend my time on the Echo alone, learning French. I need to practice as much as I could. Most of the crew and passengers on the transport spoke English, but Bernard’s wouldn’t be the same.

I want to try ordering my food entirely in French. It took an hour of rehearsal before I felt ready.

The smell of pizza and hamburgers wafted through the otherwise cold metallic structure as I make my way to the cafeteria. The woman working at the counter looks like she’s working the till and the oven in the back at the same time. Her hair is long and frizzy, tied into a messy bun with long strands of grey running through it and she had deep blue eyes, like the ocean. I have almost forgotten what I had come to say.

“Salut, une tranche du pizza avec pepperoni, c'est vous plait!” I say proudly. She arches one of her eyebrows and responds in broken English.

“You want me to do what with the pizza?” She asks.

“Just a slice of pizza please,” I say, as my bravado deflates. She half smiles, grabs a slice of pepperoni pizza from the warming tray and places it on a paper plate before handing it to me.

“Une pointe du pizza.” She says apologetically in French, “Cinq dollars.”

I have four dollars. poo poo, which one is ‘cinq’ again? I give her what I have and she laughs.

“Cinq is five. Don’t worry about it. C’est la vie.” She says.

I was fed, for the moment. This won’t work in the long term.

“Are you looking for any help? I spent all my money getting here.” I ask, “Maybe you can help me with my French too.”

She laughed again and said “Bien sûr, pourquoi pas.”

I froze with a smile on my face. She rolled her eyes.

“Sure, why not.”


“I warn you, my French is very… Comme ci comme ça.” She said holding her hand flatly as she moves back and forth. I notice how the apron she is wearing clings to her slim waist where it is tied. Her other hand pulled a tray of buns from the oven. Earlier she boiled her dough quickly in syrup water before baking, now giving the bun a perfect crust with a sweet taste.

“Hate to break it to you, Marie, so is your English.” I say, “What’s your first language?”

She stuck out her tongue at me and grabbed an iron skillet. I was nervous for a second but she grabbed some ground beef out of the cooler as well.

“It’s both. Je ne sais pas… Tu could call it Echo, oui? It’s how we talk. First words in your head, if its French or Anglais, that’s not important. Here, I’m going to show tu how to make a Marie burger.”

She kneads the beef together with bread crumbs from the night before, eggs, some of the fragrant spices she taught me about, rosemary and thyme, along with diced shallots, and garlic. Next, she forms large patties. As she sears both sides it releases a hearty, earthy smell as the fragrances mix together. Then she placed it in the oven to finish, trapping the juices inside.

“Grab me the spinach and the cheese à la crème!” She asks.

“Oui, Madamoiselle!” I say, mangling the French versions of Mrs and Ms together. She laughs out loud. Her laugh lines light up her face.

“Madame is a respected woman who can take her of herself. Mademoiselle is a silly tramp you want to sleep with.” Marie says.

“So you have a husband, maybe on Barnard’s?” I ask as I grab her the cream cheese. She waves her hand in response.

“Non, non…” She says as she pulls her burgers from the oven, letting them rest on a wire rack while she toasts the buns. Each one she garnishes with cream cheese, spinach, and caramelized onions. She bites her full lips slightly as she concentrates on each bun. Then she places the patties on each bun and each bun in a box for each customer who comes.

“Come, it is break time. I have something I want to show you.” Says Marie. As she takes off her apron and places it on a hanger, I do the same with mine.

“What is it?” I ask as we wash up.

“Something beautiful.” She says, “It is the winter solstice on Terra. We should celebrate.”


It was in the cargo bay. We have to sneak past two security team members just to get there.

A small viewport, through it, was Uranus, pale green and blue, spinning on its side with a sea of stars cascading around it.

“Whoa, I didn’t know planets could do that.” I say, “It seems so wrong.”

“Says who?” She says, her blue eyes staring into mine when I turn to look at her face, illuminated softly by natural light for the first time. I feel her hand grasp mine and my heart skips a beat. She brings it to the window and points it to one of the stars.

“That one is Barnard’s,” She says.

“They’ll probably just think I’m a halfie there too,” I say, "How different could it really be? People are people."

Marie shakes her head.

“Non. You and I are not halves. We’re whole of both, don’t you see? That’s more then they could ever be.” She says.

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.
Prompt:Southeast Asian Magical Coming-of-Age Sci-Fi About Best Friends With a Strong Female Lead!

Unfiltered Singapore
1049 words

Ryan saw the tentacle, too.

There it was, rising almost as tall as me out of the two centimeters of ocean that covered the old streets. It was swaying, back and forth, left and right, slowly.

“Got to be some kind of advertisement,” Ryan said.

“What makes you say that?” I asked.

“The resolution,” he said. Ryan had low data limits on his rig. This late in the month, he'd be seeing jaggies and big block pixels on everybody's glamour. Unless someone is paying to make sure it gets seen. “That thing has as much fidelity as the Christmas lights.”

“Check it out tonight?” I said.

“Sure thing, Sarah.”

.* * *.

Parents are weird. Like I have to say that. But most of them grew up when their parents had to watch over them full time to keep them safe. Before we had a system for that. And before glamour, too. Their generation built it all, but it's not like they got it. They keep doing dumb things like thinking a little light urbex is dangerous. Better not to mention it.

I met up with Ryan back at New Orchard Road, emptied out well after midnight. The city is beautiful late at night this time of year. I could look up and see the twinkling lights on the buildings, keep looking upwards and see the stars of the Milky Way. Five years back they still did most of the decorations the old-fashioned way and they drowned out the sky, but virtual light doesn't pollute.

We hopped the short metal fence and clambered down the fire stairs down to the old road, down to the part of the City given back to the rising sea. Where the tentacle lay waiting.

Up close, it looked even more real, except that near the top of it was an eye, a deep violet eye that looked bored until it noticed us, then startled. The tentacle lashed, moved with impossible leverage, the tip whipping an arc at the level of our heads. The natural reaction took over, and we flinched away from the imaginary limb. We didn't flinch enough. It hit, hard, feeling cool and smooth, like dolphin skin or wet rolled-up velvet. My cheeks stung and my rig made sparking noises and went offline.

In darkness I backed away, scrabbling in the shallow seawater. The tentacle flailed above, glowing faintly.

“The stairs,” said Ryan. I'd never seen his underface, nor him mine. We were just friends, not lovers, so it never came up. I had always thought he was probably like me, mostly the same as out glamour except when trying out a new hairstyle or something. Wouldn't have mattered if he wasn't born like he presented, of course. Unless he was thirty years old or something, and the system took care of that kind of thing anyhow. But there was something, something about his face, too little light to make out and too much hurry to focus on, something I noticed even in that frenzy.

The staircase had a dim amber safety light. I turned and ran toward it, and the tentacle rose out of the water before us. Or maybe another tentacle. It had the same violet eyeball, and lashed it at the metal stairs, wrenching their bolts from the mounting. We turned. I reached out my hand, and Ryan took hold of it, and I ran, pulling him along, down the old streets in darkness.

We ran until we were out of breath before I even thought about my keyring. I brought it out, turned on the flashlight function. We'd left the tentacle or tentacles behind, no sign of them, just water-covered pavement and disused first stories coated in waterproof lacquer.

There were no street signs. Why bother keeping them outside of the augment level, outside of the glamour. They probably decorated college dorms or theme restaurants today. We were lost, really lost.

I stole a look at Ryan's face, now that panic had faded, while dread was still not yet crushing. He had a tattoo, a swan in flight on his left cheek. I never asked him about it. No way to ask that isn't unspeakably rude unless he stopped covering it when he presented, and he never did. We kept moving, looking for another stairway.

“There's probably a drone trying to find us,” said Ryan.

“Police?” I said. “Did you-”

“No, didn't hit the panic button. Did you?” I shook my head. “No, I was thinking of the replacement rigs. But those ones won't dip below the new streets.

We kept moving. We started seeing faded graffiti, painted or embossed onto the coatings of the buildings. A few meters up and it would be washed off or painted over before it dried, but here the system let the ocean do the job without urgency. We saw murals of smiling communities, and crude pornography over names in crude typography, slogans of anarchists and scandalous libels against past Presidents and Prime Ministers. And then we saw the door.

It was cut into the thick coating, ten centimeters up. Light leaked out of the crack, irregular, strobing. I walked up to it, not knowing whether to knock or pull it open.

“What's the password?” came a voice from the other side, male and weedy.

“For God's sake, open the door, Drie,” said someone else, a low-pitched woman. He did, and the sound of loud music burst through as the two strangers herded us in.

“Couple of kids, huh,” said Drie, the man. He was skinny and wore old-style glasses, no rig attached. He turned to us. “All right, you can come in, but nobody's going to sell you anything, so don't even try. And stay out of the sex room, too.”

“We don't have a sex room,” said the woman.

“We could,” said Drie. “We should, El.”

“We don't,” said El. “And we won't.”

So we danced, in a room full of flashing lights and ancient club music, smiling and forgetting to be lost, and wound up trailing a group of people not too much older than us out and to an amber-lit stairway to where our rigs and the glamourful world awaited.

We saw the tentacle a few more times, from safe distance above. It did not make eye contact.

Apr 12, 2006
okaaay children everybody go to bed or else santa won't come!

Sep 14, 2010


That's just a bullshit word.
775 words

“…he had sickened and turned away because of his shock at seeing the buffalo, a few moments before proud and noble and full of the dignity of life, now stark and helpless, a length of inert meat…” — John Williams, Butcher’s Crossing


The police blinders only illuminated part of the Patrick buried in the snow. The other part, his lower half… it was just missing. Gone. The policemen sat in their cars, hands to heaters, waiting for the county detective to drive down and tell them what to do.

— — —

Jamie only goes out on Monday nights and Wednesday nights. That’s when the Double K has its warm drink specials: cranberry hot toddys, and spiced wine. They’re also the only nights K.K. keeps the fireplace going — “on account of the socioeconomic climate that is fueling this current rise in energy prices,” he says. Lastly, they’re the only nights Patrick works the late shift at the Technology Hut.

She was at the Double K when she heard the news, on the T.V. tucked above and away in the otherwise dark corner above the bar.

— — —

Shannon is in her slippers Googling gift-yarns for her mother’s crocheting collection, but Google thinks Shannon is in Brazil.

Localização: São Paulo. Cerca de 637 000 000 resultados (0,34 segundos)

“loving Patrick…”

The phone rang. Shannon slid her chair out and answered.

“Her Majesty’s Residence, with whom am I speaking?”


“Hey, do you know why Google would start talking to me in Spanish? And there’s this green light on my computer now. Patrick was over and…”


Jamie did her best to recount what she had heard on Channel 2. She struggled to keep her composure through Shannon’s No… No’ing on the other side, and then she fought hard through the sobbing and crying, until she ended with a “Don’t move. I’ll be right there.” She downed her drink and left. The outside walkway to her Ford Ranger was caked in snow.

— — —

Jamie lost Brent last year, around this time, around Christmas. The police found his body in the forest. Well, they found the upper part — they never recovered his lower half. The police ruled out wolves. They called it a “clean break” — Jamie, thinking about the way they said those words, threw a up a little in her mouth, and she felt the alcohol through the back of her nose — wolves, they said, would have eaten the whole body, or they at the very least wouldn’t have schemed to carry away his lower trunk. That was another shocker of a word. His “trunk.”

She thought about how he’d sit across her in the cab, but would put his hands up to the vents on her side because he was convinced they were warmer. And she thought about his funeral, when she saw him in a half-casket, tucked underneath a pressed linen sheet.

— — —

Shannon was sobbing, uncontrollably.

“I saw the loving news! The similarities are too hosed up!” she said.

They were together in the Ranger, and were driving the winding path up to Shannons mother’s house. Shannon didn’t want to be alone, or at she wanted to be less alone than she felt with Jamie. Jamie wanted to crawl into their guest room and shut herself away until the next Christmas.

“Tell be about this green light,” Jamie said. She still felt a little drunk.

“The green light?”

“On your computer, you said there was a green light? And everything was in Spanish?”

“I don’t care about my loving computer right now, Jamie.”

“Patrick was messing with it before he left?”

“He was.”

Jamie could feel warmth in her chest. And from the vents.

“I think he might have been spying on you.”

“What? gently caress you.”

The road entered Jackson Forest and it was getting hard to see past the turns. Jamie continued.

“The green light, that meant your camera was on. I think he installed something.”

“Are you loving doing this right now?”

Jamie was calculating what to say when she missed the shadowy mass in the middle of the road. She swerved, hard, and the Ranger tilted to the left, and she saw Shannon tilt with it, until Shannon was up vertically in the air, her eyes were making wide contact back down at Jamie. And then there was a crash, a wrenching of metal, and everything became an empty black.


The bison dug its two horns into the snow and shook them around for a moment, and then it reared its head up with a snort, leaving behind a mist of powder and ice. A torn patch of jean fabric floated through the air.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Dashing through the snow
1004 words

Jim was running through a whirling flurry of snowflakes.   He was chasing his brother, who was somewhere in the storm ahead.  Jim didn’t actually have a brother but he knew he’d find him if he just ran a little further. A big clump of methane snow slid from a tree towards him, spinning as it came.

He darted to the side, or tried to - his feet were stuck.  He looked down, but his feet were gone, replaced by a sinuous shimmering coil of hair.  Someone yelling something and threw up his arms to ward away the impact he saw out of the corner of his eye, overbalanced, and fell out of bed.

“Jim!” It was Luca, her voice muffled behind the heavy bulkhead.  Jim blinked at the door blearily. Outside was a howling rattling moan, not a noise he should be hearing, he thought.  “Jim, storm surge!”

The room rocked and Jim shook the sleep from his head. Bracing for the high g, he wrenched himself up and yanked open the suit locker, brushing aside the tinsel they'd hung up a few days back.  “Got it,” he called, wrapping the quicksuit around him and hitting the power. As the the memory plastic oozed and crinkled its way over his body he tapped the door key. It swooshed open on Luca, who was in her own suit and looked harried through the faceplate.

“Hit twenty minutes ago, i I tried to raise you on com but you didn’t answer”.  They were trotting down the corridor to the evac hall now. The storm was rattling the floor; Jim ran his fingers along the wall and felt the same vibration.  There was a deep groaning that hadn’t been there two minutes before, though.

“Didn’t the satellite give us a heads up?” Jim asked.

“It’s round dayside at the moment. This storm is pushing the structure well past tolerances.  The mine is going to be fine, but I’m worried about the towers, and the dish is beyond screwed if this keeps up.”  Luca flung up the stress monitors on the wall. The atmosphere cleaners and the big radio antenna were flashing a deep crimson, rippling with data overlays showing the impact of the storm. “poo poo,” she said.   “poo poo, poo poo, balls.

Jim grabbed her hand, and squeezed it. “Stay on mission, Lucasetta, we need to make this work.  Two hundred thousand people need us to make this work.” Luca's eyes flicked to the arrival clock,  counting down the months until the colony ship arrived.

“Work. Right.” Luca lifted her faceplate and knuckled her eyes,  then frowned. “So, we need to retract the towers. The dish is gone but we can maybe fix it enough to bring the Hope's Light down safe,  but if those processors go we are all doomed eventually.”

Jim tapped the processor control tab and it blinked at him.  “Emergency lockout?” He grimaced at Luca's weary nod. “So we do it manually.   Get around the towers, hit the override on each one?”

Luca grinned, a flash of white teeth in her dark brown face.   “That's gonna be a fun ride. We'll both have to do it though, it's too far to cover before the lockout expires and you have to start again.”

Jim slammed his fist into the console,  which bleeped in protest. “Goddammit! We only have one trike, the rest will take hours to get out of storage.”

The whole installation shuddered and Luca grabbed him to steady herself. Their faces were close. Jim's heart beat once, a painful thump. "Luca, I want to--"

"Wait," she said, almost in a whisper. Then she clicked her fingers. "Follow me"

Two of the huge storage vaults later Jim was panting, trying to keep up with Luca. She stopped at a livestock container, and looked at him with an unreadable expression before hitting the switch.

The door rumbled open on a warm moist smell of animal dung and hay, and an angular collection of hair, horns and legs that Jim identified as a reindeer just before it trotted over to nuzzle Lica's outstretched hand.

"You can't... you are serious. Luca it's minus twenty and part methane out there, you can't ride in it."

Luca patted the reindeer's nose. "He's genefixed, they're tough. Anyway. Do we have a choice? And think, what a great story for the colonists when they arrive. New planet needs new myths, let's make them one. "

Jim made a brief mental foray down some lines of argument, then compared them to the look in Luca's eyes and shook his head. "It'll be a good one. I'd... I'd like to kiss you when we get back."

Luca looked at him for a moment, then smiled, another flash of white. "I think I'd like that too, Spaceman James. You get the saddle and I'll do the mask. Poor bugger doesn't know what he's in for. "

Jim slung the saddle over the back of the animal and cinched it tight, running through the hellish run they needed to do, him in the trike and her on the masked-up reindeer: down the long slope to the processor, around the chicanes, up and out, weaving between the towering, swaying processor pylons hitting the override on each one. It would be tight. He felt a clutch in his guts. This was crazy, this was impossible.

But then he looked over at Luca and saw her looking at him and something loosened inside him. It would be tight. But they'd do it, because new planets needed new myths, and two hundred thousand colonists needed air, and not quite as important but maybe even a little more important, Luca wanted to kiss him.

Apr 12, 2006
okay i'll count those too because it is in the spirit of Christmas but now submissions are officially closed for real this time

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Interprompt: it just seemed to be the most appropriate thing to do at the time, your honor

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010

Apr 11, 2012
How's about some Week 337 crits before judgement. These are a bit quick, but anyone who's interested can ask for a line-by-line. The rest are forthcoming.

Bot Builder
In my opinion, considering this story was submitted before signups even closed, you really jumped the gun and should have given yourself those extra days to revise your draft. Reading it, I was struck by how green it felt, like this was a first serious attempt at writing fiction. This story does the most literal, straightforward interpretation of the Lytton sentence possible and really suffers for it, because it's not taking any risks or straying outside the box at all. Considering the story literally opens with a man committing suicide via rivet gun, it's striking just how beige and impactless it is. A lot of words are spent bluntly telling us things instead of really drawing us into the story, and what story there is is a pretty stock resistance-against-evil-robot-overlords thing. The prose does the bare minimum necessary to get us from point A to point B, and there are barely any characters of consequence at all in the entry, let alone ones whose fates we actually care about. Good on you for sticking with it, though; a lot of people would have fled in shame if their first entry to the Dome landed them a loss.

The Benefits of Wearing Many Hats
This is a charming, breezy read that demonstrates a good grasp of character voice, and I like the central idea of a Fez Of Holding. It was, however, a bit too straightforward and what-you-see-is-what-you-get to really stand out among the pack. This is more a sequence than a full narrative of its own, and the characters therein, while they have a decent voice to them, feel rather static. This is a pretty standard gentleman thief-avoids-lawman-antagonist caper tale, feeling a little more in the vein of Lupin III than Arsene Lupin himself, and it sticks to that archetype like a new skater first stepping onto the rink: they cling to the wall for dear life as if convinced they'll fall and break something the moment they venture forth.

Give Me Love, My Heart
This was a little awkward to read at points, which I chalked up to ESL issues. The prose is clunky and some of the inter-character drama feels fairly rote, like the cheating angle, but what you did with your prompt was engaging enough I stuck through it. I found this an intriguing entry that stood out quite a bit between the twists you put on your sentence and the marked improvement it showed over your previous effort. This easily ended up one of the more memorable entries of the week.

The Hundred-Tome #339: The Anagramancer and the Manticore
This one was controversial. As noted in the results post, your entry spurred a lot of debate on what a TD piece even is, and if this, strictly speaking, counts as the kind of thing we're looking for with this contest. That's a strength in its own way, as a lot of the great works of art challenge us to ask ourselves what the artform in question actually is in the first place, and at several points I found this effort of yours quite clever and endearing. I remember being pleasantly surprised that you went through the trouble of actually programming a CYOA game for this, talk about going the extra mile. In the end, though, while I felt the effort and cleverness deserved a nod of some sort, I also felt this was gimmicky and outside the scope of what we're looking for. I hate the "wasn't really a story" kind of crit for many reasons (above all: it's kind of useless and gives the recipient little to work with unless you back it up with a lot of other stuff, but also what even is "a story"? Are we going to ding Calvino for Invisible Cities now and say he wasn't "really" writing?) but this felt more like an exercise in wordplay and game design than an actual story or piece of writing; reading this, I got "let's see how many anagrams I can come up with" from it moreso than anything else. Unfortunately, that also leaves me unsure what else to really pick at for improving this. I feel a little dumb for admitting that, but it's part of my initial misgivings with it; I don't feel like I can approach this like I would another entry, because it's a different creature altogether.

It’s Virtual Web 2.0 Or Something
I actually put this up for DQ because its opening sentence, in my opinion, breaks the prompt. The prompt post specifically said the sentence couldn't be from an in-universe text, it had to be the actual opening of the story. My suggestion got voted down, of course. While you escaped a DM or loss, this story didn't land for me. It felt too zany, bouncing from point to point without ever really sinking the hooks in or giving us much meat to chew on, and the entire time I vaguely felt like the story was thumbing its nose at me, the reader.

A Picnic with Daedalus
Dull, cuts off right as things start to actually happen, doesn't give me much of a reason to care what's going on. More of a snapshot or a vignette, but not told strongly enough to grab my attention and make me ask for more. This story is all setup and exposition and it meanders on and on such that my attention finally wandered and I found the story ending on me in an abrupt way I didn't really get. When I finally noticed the punchline, it occurred to me you had set the foundations for it too poorly for me to even notice there was supposed to be a joke. This entry never got off the ground, so for me its punchline didn't land at all.

You Can Lead a Bird to Water...
Proofreading is important! Ending your story on a typo is like a big ol' faceplant right at the finish line. This is a cute story of wildlife scientists trying to help an endangered population, but there's not much bite to it, and in that respect I don't think it lives up to either its prompt sentence or the implications of its actual premise. I would have preferred more stakes, more of a feeling of urgency to their work, and of course a proofreading run.

Thirty Million Credits.
Two paragraphs of pure exposition when you only have 1000 words to work with? A bold strategy. And by bold, I mean don't do that. Flash fiction rewards getting right to the point, like taking a really zoomed in photograph as opposed to a huge sweeping panoramic shot, and you could argue that taste is the same in a lot of modern fiction. This entry sets up a lot of questions it doesn't bother to answer, ends in an odd way where two of us weren't actually sure what happened, and I never felt particularly invested in anything that was going on.

It feels like a copout, maybe even a cliché, but this feels like the beginning of a story rather than a complete thing in itself. I enjoyed your concept and the characters you showed us, but right as the story begins to move somewhere it's just over. I would suggest this as the premise of a larger thing, or relegating this first meeting entirely to backstory and showing us one of this pair's later escapades instead.

I genuinely liked this and if you hadn't DQed yourself I would've pushed for it to HM or maybe even win.

Here's Something I Tried To Write
This was interesting, but I think you told the story in a muddled way that didn't really let your ideas shine. Personally, I would have leaned more into the after action report/debriefing interview conceit; as it is, you waffle between that and a straightforward narrative, and the result is neither approach really works.

This is Dumb
It's a shame this had to be DQ'd, because I enjoyed it a lot, and would have given it a high place if it came in on time.

May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

Exmond fucked around with this message at 16:34 on Dec 29, 2019

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat

Aug 7, 2013




Exmond posted:

Hold up the judging for a moment I got a callout.


You beligish cur and possibly the bastard son of the King of Belgium

This is DONE!

Hmmm this has very little to do with thunderdome

i mean, congrats

Oh hey since you're in this thread with your big boy pants on, brawl me

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Yes i will extremely judge that. On the fair assumption that exmod accepts, your prompt is an anime tragedy in three acts, with no obviously japanese words or tropes. 1500 words max, 18 feb 2359 pst. Toxx up. And congrats.

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.

Exmond posted:

Hold up the judging for a moment I got a callout.


You beligish cur and possibly the bastard son of the King of Belgium

This is DONE!

BadKayfabeTranslation: Thank you thunderdome, I got published and it wouldn't have been possible without you.

Well done, you piece of poo poo. I'm proud of you.

Apr 11, 2012

Please no

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

sebmojo posted:

Yes i will extremely judge that. On the fair assumption that exmod accepts, your prompt is an anime tragedy in three acts, with no obviously japanese words or tropes. 1500 words max, 18 feb 2359 pst. Toxx up. And congrats.

Exmond posted:

This is DONE!

BadKayfabeTranslation: Thank you thunderdome, I got published and it wouldn't have been possible without you.

hell yeah :black101:

proud of you buddy

May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

sebmojo posted:

Yes i will extremely judge that. On the fair assumption that exmond accepts, your prompt is an anime tragedy in three acts, with no obviously japanese words or tropes. 1500 words max, 18 feb 2359 pst. Toxx up. And congrats.

Flesnolk posted:

Please no

YES! And you know we should make this a Triple Threat, Flesnolk you should get into this brawl instead of posting crits before judgement is up.


Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

sebmojo posted:

Yes i will extremely judge that. On the fair assumption that exmod accepts, your prompt is an anime tragedy in three acts, with no obviously japanese words or tropes. 1500 words max, 18 feb 2359 pst. Toxx up. And congrats.

This is bullshit. Brawl.

e: Anime, specifically, is bullshit.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Wow! With everyone so eager to brawl and judge brawls, this week's judge slots must be all filled up by now!

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat

curlingiron posted:

This is bullshit. Brawl.

e: Anime, specifically, is bullshit.
Yes i will extremely judge that. On the fair assumption that sebmolo accepts, your prompt is a serious exploration of and engagement with Japanese culture that is not anime, manga, video games, visual novels, J-pop, or any of that poo poo. 2k words by (not on) the 22nd 25th (starting midnight PST).

Sham bam bamina! fucked around with this message at 19:06 on Feb 4, 2019

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat

Djeser posted:

Wow! With everyone so eager to brawl and judge brawls, this week's judge slots must be all filled up by now!
I'm busy right now but won't be later.

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Sham bam bamina! posted:

Yes i will extremely judge that. On the fair assumption that sebmolo accepts, your prompt is a serious exploration of and engagement with Japanese culture that is not anime, manga, video games, visual novels, J-pop, or any of that poo poo. 2k words by (not on) the 22nd (starting midnight PST).

I hate you. :toxx:

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat
Updated prompt to give another full weekend.

Apr 12, 2006

Djeser posted:

Wow! With everyone so eager to brawl and judge brawls, this week's judge slots must be all filled up by now!

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

curlingiron posted:

I hate you. :toxx:

Roger that toxx

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Flesnolk posted:

How's about some Week 337 crits before judgement. These are a bit quick, but anyone who's interested can ask for a line-by-line. The rest are forthcoming.
Thank you very much for the crit! I'd love to have a line-by-line :).

Apr 10, 2013

you guys made me ink!


Exmond posted:

Hold up the judging for a moment I got a callout.


You beligish cur and possibly the bastard son of the King of Belgium

This is DONE!

BadKayfabeTranslation: Thank you thunderdome, I got published and it wouldn't have been possible without you.

Congrats, nerd. I'd brawl you for being a yellow-bellied Kingless commoner, but I see you're getting dogpiled as it is!

Aug 7, 2013




Actually I toxx to brawl anyone who challenges me in the next 48 hours.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!
Technical difficulties, please hold caller

Somebody fucked around with this message at 23:54 on Feb 4, 2019

Apr 11, 2012

Exmond posted:

YES! And you know we should make this a Triple Threat, Flesnolk you should get into this brawl instead of posting crits before judgement is up.



Apr 12, 2006
heeeeeeeere comes judgement

Lead out in cuffs
Sep 18, 2012

"That's right. We've evolved."

"I can see that. Cool mutations."

Moon stuff!

We got 26 of you signed up, and I sent the sheet off to the mad genius dude this morning, who had a design ready within a few hours. He was going to squish it into 2/3 this amount of space, but I persuaded him to sacrifice two more squares of genome to make it not look like rear end.

As he put it, "If the aliens come back and ask for the extra 20 [ed: actually 40!] kb[p], I'll send them to you."

Sanitised to blank out real names so I don't doxx you; those will be included on the final disc. One pixel in the png equals one pixel on the disc. I'm not bothering timging since it isn't big enough to break tables.

This is going to appear as-is inside a whole lot of blocks of digitised human genome. Don't worry too much about the genomic stuff we removed, it's only like 0.0013% of the genome, probably really low-complexity and not super important! :v:

I'll post more updates as I get them.

And now, back to your regular programming.

Apr 12, 2006
I like making fun prompt posts. Judgement posts aren't as exciting so this will be quick. Good week overall! I hope everyone had fun because it was mandatory. If you didn't have fun please let me know so I can disqualify your entry. I'm very serious about this.

Antivehicular wins for writing a great story. Pham Nuwen hms for writing a good story. Selaphiel forgot to write about Christmas which was... surprising and super dumb so they are disqualified even if they had a lot of fun. Sorry, Selaphiel. Write about Christmas next time, you yuletide idiot. Saladscooper is this weeks loser.

Oh, Saucy_Rodent also receives an honorable mention.

Thanks everybody! Happy holiday!

Apr 12, 2006
:siren: C H R I S T M A S :siren: C R I T S :siren:

(part 1)

1. Saucy_Rodent
Well, gently caress me, I loving loved this poo poo. You wrote me some utter goddamn lunacy and I laughed the entire goddamn time I read it. Then I read it a second time and I laughed even harder. Bold. Risky, but I dig it. You could have eaten a dm or a loss for “bad writing” or whatever but I see your intentional comedic genius and I raise my glass to it. Big Rule #3 was have fun. Clearly, you did. Thank you. The only joke I really think you missed was “We'll never have our lov--I mean friendship...” Just a hair too much. You’ve already nailed it subtly just a few lines before. Instead say “We’ll never have our friendship” or something. Other than that, great work.

2. selaphiel
As a judge philosophy, I like to assume the best in story submissions. I’ve always hated receiving a crit that was basically just “lol u didnt follow the prompt” and nothing more -- especially when I was trying to something fun or clever and the judge was just a big dumb dummy who couldn’t see how smart I thought I was. With all that being said… I think you didn’t follow the prompt... I mean, for the life of me, I can’t see how this is set during Christmas time. And that’s a third of how I’m doing my judging. So that sucks.


“Kill their girl, just like they killed mine. Do the deed and your pack will survive this season yet, Wolf.” Imho, this is where you should have started your story. This is a good line. It gives me an immediate sense of urgency. It gives me conflict. It gives me characterization. It gives me a reason to be interested in seeing what happens next. It’s a really good hook. Everything prior to this line is just… set dressing. Descriptive but nothing more. You are writing flash fiction. You have a limited word count. Get to the meat of your story. And then tell it. But don’t waste half your words setting up what’s interesting. And don’t give me an “overview” of things that happened. That a good story does not make.

3. Yoruichi
I like what you did here. You tell a simple story in a fantastical setting and neither takes from the other. Everything blends together in quite a lovely way. And it feels very on prompt for a Die Hard prompt. I actually forgot what your genre assignment was until after I finished reading and when I went back I laughed out loud because drat what else could it have been? Very nice.

4. saladscooper
Here’s my short crit: I like what you were trying to do but not what you actually did.

Long crit: Nina is an unsympathetic character and that kills pretty much everything from the get go. Because the only other character you give me is this really irritating, transphobic, verbally abusive rear end in a top hat of a grandfather. Of course, you don’t really give me much on why he is an rear end in a top hat. I collect that from the dialogue. You don’t give me much at all, to be honest. You don’t even tell me why she should remember his specific death time/date. Why don’t you give me a specific reason why she doesn’t want to go visit him rather than just having her scream and pitch a fit in the bedroom. The action to get Nina to the shrine (or whatever) is convoluted. So she’s running away from a home, a police car comes down the road, wind blows her phone under the wheels of said car, she runs… I don’t care about any of this. And more than that, Nina isn’t in control of any of it. None of it is her choice. She lacks agency. The actions of the story should be driven by your character’s choices. You’d have been better suited having Nina choose to go the shrine. Or at least have her actions lead her towards this conversation with her grandfather. Perhaps there’s room here for an interesting conflict between cultural expectations and the needs of the self? Idk. Instead, one thing leads to another, you give me some preaching about identity or something, and then it’s all over and she’s running. “Some people aren’t worth honoring.” That’s the overall point of this story, yeah? Cool. I can roll with that. But there’s need to be more to your protagonist to make it worth a drat.

5. Pham Nuwen
I don’t like your title. This story is too good to be titled with an homage to another work. Change it. My only other real critique is that you could do a better job of tying in the Santa stuff. A “flair for the dramatic” is a bit hamfistedly author fiat, yes? Here’s my suggestion: you already have prisoners saying the words to movie because they’ve seen it so much. Perhaps do something like… Novak is fed up having to watch the same movie every day during December or whatever. The protag jokes that they should just break out. Inspiration ensues. Idk. You just need it to be a little more organic and then you’re really balling. HM/win.

6. M. Propagandalf
I want to commend you for half of your story. The first half is actually quite nice. For a lack of a better term, it feels old. Appropriately old. 1930s accurate. I don’t know if it is accurate but it certainly feels that way. Your use of language is quite good. The bit ending with “Well then. Alas.” is loving lovely. I like it. I’m on board. Good dialogue. Good build up. Very noir.

Your second half… ooh, boy. This feels almost like it was written by a different person. Maybe you were rushed? Maybe you were uninspired and just forced yourself to spit out words? I don’t know. It’s not good, though. A couple specific things: avoid using “?!” I’m sure there are different schools of thought on this but, personally, this always strikes me as extremely amateurish. You should be able to paint a fearsome picture of a yelling man without resorting to double punctuation to get your point across. Same with all caps. Don’t do all caps. Italics at most for BEING SUPER LOUD or whatever. Continuing on that thought: be very careful not to overuse yelling. In theatre, I’ve always called it “peaking.” A yell is peak. You want to use it sparingly, as an accent, not as a continuous thing. Audiences quickly become weary of yelling. Both because the literal volume is concussive and because there is nowhere higher for an actor to go, emotionally speaking. Variation is important. Variation keeps interest. If you keep brief, if you’re smart with it, it can be very, very powerful. I think the same can be said with yelling when it comes to writing. Your characters in the second half spend a lot of time yelling at one another. You’ve described Amos has a physically imposing man. He doesn’t need to yell. Yelling implies a loss of control. If one cannot control their emotions -- what can they control? Calmness is power. If Amos believes he can physically dominate the smaller Gideon, why would he need to yell? I mean, the man can pick Gideon up and hold him in place with one hand, for God’s sake. You don’t see a cat screech at a mouse. A cat toys with a mouse. Would it not be more interested, more satisfying, to have the tables turn on a cocky Amos than on an emotionally unstable one? Also, remember, villains are never villains in their own minds. A throwaway line of Amos’s justification -- of her nagging, of him working hard, of whatever -- would do well here. Let him be an abusive rear end in a top hat. But let him be an abusive rear end in a top hat who thinks he is right to be one. That table turning, that payoff, will be all the sweeter for it.

7. Captain Person
I assumed you would take “spiritual” and roll with “relating to religion or religious belief.” So it took me a second to realize this was with ghosts (spiritual: “relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”). I always like a good playful interpretation of the prompt!

I think my biggest problem with this story is that I was just… kinda… bored with it. It hits all the right notes. Interesting concept. Emotional payoff. But you lack oomf somewhere to make it, you know, good. I think we need more “love” between the two ghosts. They bicker, sure, but if you give me a reason to think that they care for each other it will make the sweet ending all the sweeter. Yeah, I think that’s my issue. Your characters have been stuck together for forever but they still feel like strangers. Also, you use frock twice in one of your opening paragraphs and that’s an unusual enough word for it to stick out.

8. Capt_Dr
Heartbreaking story, really. Very relatable. I appreciate that you went this route rather than making drugs cool. I like the setting. Too many saidisms, though. You don’t need to include the characters’ last names - especially if they’re all family. The ending is unrealistic. You’d probably need to make it about him slinging rather than using because it’s hard af to get clean and this isn’t enough of an impetus to make it work. Or just go full blown sad and have him get the drugs back out of the trashcan.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Lead out in cuffs posted:

This is going to appear as-is inside a whole lot of blocks of digitised human genome. Don't worry too much about the genomic stuff we removed, it's only like 0.0013% of the genome, probably really low-complexity and not super important! :v:

It's the year 75,000 and i wake up from the alien cloning vat to find that a tiny percent of my genome is now Thunderdome stories.

I turn to the hyper-advanced aliens who cloned me and say to them, "Ock! Ock! Ock!"

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

THUNDERDOME CCCXL: Beyond the Murder of the Dolls

Lately I've been doing some reading about a woman named Frances Glessner Lee. Born a rich heiress, she spent the second half of her life making great innovations in criminology, earning her the nickname "The Mother of Forensic Science." Her greatest legacy is a project called the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, a series of intricately-crafted doll dioramas that modeled miniature death scenes in accurate forensic detail, to be used as a training tool for detectives analyzing crime-scene evidence. The Nutshell Studies are still in use today. They're amazing works of art, fascinating works of criminal forensics, and weird and creepy as all poo poo.

I want you to write stories about them.

When you sign up, I'll assign you a picture of a detail from one of the Nutshell Studies. This picture is your prompt. You are free to interpret it loosely -- the scene in the picture doesn't have to literally show up, as long as I can see how you got from your picture to your story, and you don't have to write a murder mystery or even include death at all. (Murder mysteries are fine, of course, but they're not required.) My only content rule for this week is this: do not write a story where someone goes about their day and then dies/is murdered/commits murder, and that's it. I will DQ-DM for this. "Not much happens and then someone dies" is boring. If you're going to use death, make it matter.

Standard TD rules apply: no fanfic, erotica, poetry, political screeds/topical political satire, Google Docs, archive-breaking formatting, dick pics, etc.

Word Count: 1200
Signups End: 11:59 PM Pacific, Friday, February 8th
Submissions End: 11:59 PM Pacific, Sunday, February 10th

Pham Nuwen

1. QuoProQuid
2. apophenium
3. onsetOutsider :toxx:
4. Thranguy
5. Sham bam bamina!
6. Hawklad
7. flerp :toxx:
8. SlipUp
9. cptn_dr
10. Bad Seafood
11. Baneling Butts
12. selaphiel
13. Chili
14. Simply Simon
15. Applewhite
16. Obliterati
17. Staggy
18. Entenzahn
19. Bolt Lux
20. QM Haversham :toxx:
21. Salgal80
22. The Saddest Rhino
23. crimea
24. Captain_Person
25. crabrock

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 21:47 on Feb 10, 2019

Jan 12, 2012

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

sure. im in.

Apr 13, 2009

it's... sting...


Mr. Steak
May 8, 2013

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS
in and i failed my last 2 entries so :toxx:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5