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Nov 16, 2012

Fool's Journey
633 words

Now I don’t find a need to relay to you the entire biography of our hero to the minute detail. I’m sure folks have heard his deeds and misdeeds up in Washington State with the Magician, and the three-year trek across Colorado huntin’ down the Lovers. Even as I speak I see heads nodding and knowing looks – we all heard them tales – heard tales even of the Devil himself. This one, the one I’ll share you tonight, I might humbly hope will please all assembled. I have only a little time to share, but I’m hoping it’s worth it.

Well, of the desert one day here’s coming a raggedy man on a horse half-bone. Trotting right out like a mirage, and this fella’s going into town and swings in the saloon and afore anything else he says “Where’s the Tower?”

The many patrons of this little establishment all turn to look see this son-of-a-gun standing in the doorframe – his suit almost to tatters, his belt frayed and the buckle rusting, black boots worn white. His face is young, that’s so, but it’s no face that finds favour with the fairer sex, that’s sure.

But he’s got iron on his hip, and he knows how to use it. He’s the stuff of legend with that six-shooter, and that crew know it. Call him Hercules, call him Samson, just don’t call him the Fool to his face, else he’s liable to make you uglier a sight than him.

There’s a silence that comes down like a sheet on this little saloon, one man trades afear’d looks with another, gentlemen adjust their good-to-do ties and missies glancing at their shoes. And a voice from the deep pricks the ears of all; “Right here. Right here.”

A man a’stone takes to his feet at a far table – certified giant and a canyon glare – and his sheriff’s badge shines brilliant in the sun that’s streaming in.

“What’s your business?” That’s the bellow from the Tower.

“Yer death.” Replies the Fool.

With this the Tower takes a step and he checks himself. He stretches his fingers. “I see. There some wrong I’ve done? Some rhyme or reason?”

“You survive, I’ll tell you the reason.” Now I hear a couple chuckles from the back. Nobody’s ever said that our Fool was a man of wit. Lemme get back to it.

It don’t take a scholar to know these men are about to duel, and as they make way to the street of this little town, there’s a congregation that hovers by every window.

Shucks, you know how it goes. Thirty paces apart, the two men’s knuckles straining white over their holsters, all it would take was one move, one twitch, to take this to Tartarus.

It’s all about quality over quantity. The Tower got two shots off. A bullet sent the feathers in the Fool’s hat flying, and another tore at the Fool’s cheek. Between shot one and shot two, the Fool hit the bullseye.

It went quiet again. Only sound was the Fool’s frayed boots shambling over the dirt to where the Tower has crumbled. He had his hand over his mouth like so, and sleek, dark blood was running from between his fingers.

The whole town could attest to witnessing the Fool take pause over the hunk of granite what used to be the Tower, takin’ his hand away from his maw, and lettin’ three or four teeth tumble into the hole in the dead man’s head.

Let those pearly whites rest in there, they’d grow up to be the Fool’s own kids, best for wandering for ‘bout a thousand years.

But all the town were left with was the receding sound of hooves and the sandstorm which was picking up. Like that sandstorm out there, right now.


Jun 1, 2011

Thus equipped by fortune, physique, and character, he was naturally indomitable, and subordinate to no one in the world.
Flash Rule: Your story must be set in or clearly inspired by the building of the Manchurian railway.

The Diary of Lieutenant Hiroaki Sakamoto
1000 Words

The following is an excerpt from the final pages of the diary of Hiroaki Sakamoto, a Rikugun-Shōi [Second Lieutenant] in the 14th Cavalry Regiment of the Imperial Japanese Army. In 1907, he was part of an expedition to hunt down a particular gang of honghuzi bandits who had achieved great success in striking at Japan’s “South Manchuria Railway Zone”.

Meiji 40.4.12

Captain Okada had a heated argument with our guide today. He originally estimated that we would reach the next village by now, but now says it will be the day after tomorrow. He told Captain Okada that this was because we rode slower than he had expected, which only angered him further.

Meiji 40.4.14

We located the third village today. Things did not go well.

We searched for evidence of the bandits, but found nothing. The village is small and poor. It could not be home to a gang as large and sophisticated as the one we are hunting.

Near the end of our search, I found Captain Okada exchanging words with an old woman, though neither understood the other. The object of their attention was a small shrine, which the woman was attempting to deny Captain Okada access to.

Our guide was also present, and attempted to explain to me the significance of the shrine. His Japanese was insufficient, however, and he eventually resorted to drawing two characters in the dirt: “fox sage”. I suspect that the meaning does not translate exactly, but it concerned me nonetheless.

When more villagers attempted to approach Captain Okada, he drew his sword and cut one of them down. This caused a great commotion, and the soldiers opened fire. In the end, more than a dozen villagers lay dead.

Captain Okada ordered us to raze the shrine and village. I expressed my worry that the shrine might honour a fox spirit. Captain Okada called me a fool.

Meiji 40.4.15

The bandits attacked us last night while we were encamped. Nine soldiers are dead. Several more are wounded, including our guide. To our shame, we were unprepared. I do not believe we hit a single enemy.

Captain Okada has taken it as proof that the village truly was housing the bandits. He admonished everyone this morning, and will ensure that we are more vigilant in the future.

Meiji 40.4.17

There have been no further attacks, but many soldiers have fallen ill. Our guide is worst of all, and Lieutenant Konishi suggested that his wound may be infected. We have pressed on regardless, but the landscape is unfamiliar.

Meiji 40.4.19

The guide is dead. Morale is low. Captain Okada struck Lieutenant Konishi today when he questioned our bearing. I said nothing for fear of being insubordinate.

Meiji 40.4.20

Two more died today. Half the men are ill, as are many of the horses. Many can hardly ride, and we have made little progress. The land around us seems to be growing more arid by the day.

Meiji 40.4.21

The bandits attacked again last night. We were in no condition to fight. They likely could have killed far more of us, but they retreated after a few minutes. Eight men are dead. Almost everyone is wounded, ill, or both. I am one of the lucky few, perhaps because of my cowardice.

Meiji 40.4.23

We have not moved since the last attack. Our position is somewhat defensible, and there is a stream nearby. I do not know if it will do us any good. Each day seems colder and darker than the last. Many believe we have been cursed. Last night I dreamt of a woman with a fox’s tail.

Meiji 40.4.24

My hands are shaking as I write this, but I must confess my crime.

Captain Okada decided today that those of us healthy enough to ride would take the horses healthy enough to bear us and leave the rest behind. Lieutenant Konishi disagreed vehemently. Eventually, Captain Okada began beating him. When he drew his sword, I knew that he would kill him.

I moved without thinking, and a moment later I realized that I had shot Captain Okada.

No one said anything, but I could feel their stares. I feel them still.

Meiji 40.4.25

Lieutenant Konishi performed seppuku in the night. I did not sleep, yet heard nothing. I know that I should admire him, but I feel that he has only shamed me further. Worse, I selfishly feel as though he has abandoned me. What am I to do? I cannot lead.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Perhaps we are all doomed.

Meiji 40.4.30

I saw her in the flesh last night, when the bandits attacked. She leads them, silver hair like moonlight whipping behind her as she rides. She carries no weapon and does not speak, but they follow her. She is even more beautiful and terrible than in my dreams.

The wasteland stretches on forever now. It was green once, but no longer. We need not move to become more lost every day.

Everyone is dying but me. I tend to them as best I can, but we are running out of food. I bring them water from the stream and try to reassure them. Most of them cannot hear me.

Meiji 40.5.7

I am alone now. The last soldier died today. I sang to him as he passed on.

Everything around me is dead. The stream has run dry.

She will come for me tonight. I know who she is now. She has a different name here, but she is Inari Ōkami.

I do not know why I alone am unharmed. Am I to be spared because I tried to save her shrine? More likely she has judged me worst of all, for I knew better and yet did not do enough. Regardless, I accept my fate.

Perhaps I should follow Lieutenant Konishi, if I am brave enough.

I am sorry.

Lieutenant Sakamoto’s diary was discovered among the remains of the ill-fated expedition in October 1907. His body was never found.

Sep 30, 2006

stayin c o o l
Tugger and Lil Yatch

Admiral Ford surveyed the desolate, empty, infinite sea stretching in every direction.

Peace, at long last. First were the conflicts of nations, then it was the wars of political parties, the struggles against labour, the uprising of the poor, and the final stand of morality.

The all those people cared about was the land. Save the land, they said. Ford preferred the sea anyway.

Now there is no conflict. All enemies have been crushed. The seas are empty of treason.

The great oil rush can resume. Unhindered.

The Model T battleship had distended from the waterline and raised itself with four giant floating columns into the air. A drill head protruded out from underneath and stabbed into the earth. Black geo blood bubbled to the surface around the drill head. Suction captured most of it. The rest was left to the sea.

There; in the distance; a disturbance; a threat.

“Raise the alarm!” Ford commanded. The ship lowered itself to the water and readied its main guns.

The man seated in the giant crow's nest telescope called down. “Enemy, twelve o’clock! It’s a sailboat!”

The main canon unloaded at distance, sending a massive spray of water into the air as it nearly capsized the sailboat. In response, it dipped back over the horizon, out of sight.

“That enemy is clearly a threat to our strategic oil reserves. We can not allow this transgression to pass. Full smoke ahead.” Ford said.

Giant black clouds of filth poured from the model T battleship as it picked up speed and headed North in pursuit.

But the heavy metal behemoth could not catch the light and agile sailboat.

“Insolence,” Ford muttered to himself.

“Sir, we’re almost out of fuel, but we’ve reached another oil reserve.”

“Engage it then. Make the Earth suffer if she resists.”

The battleship’s massive columns lowered into the sea, buying themselves and raising the battleship into the sky. A drill made its way from the center of the ship under the water’s, and then the Earth’s surface.

Black blood clouded the ocean.

Admiral Ford was contemplating his next move when a white tip peeked over the horizon of an otherwise blue sky.

“Is that the sailboat?” A crewman asked.

A tiny tuft of white smoke could be seen from a black dot in front of it, easily missed.

“It’s a tugger!” The crow's nest called.

Ford slammed both fists on his command table. “I’ve had enough stupid games! What is going on?”

“It’s towing something…”


“An iceberg.”

Ford shook his head. There are no icebergs, not anymore. That one would have to be massive.

But the white kept growing against the blue, more and more. It was not small. It was simply far.

It was the last of the Arctic ice cap, finally broken free from its Earthly shackles, and barreling down at them like a road roller. The tugger cut its like ploddingly doted aside.

“Disengage,” Ford ordered. The ship slowly started retracted its drill. Once that was completed they could begin lowering themselves into the water.

It was taking too long, the ice cap grew before their eyes.

“Fire the plasma cannon!” Ford yelled.

“Not enough oil sir!”

Ford flipped his table over, scattering recycled papers everywhere.

“My kingdom for another drop of oil!” Ford screamed as the ice cap collided with his ship, slowly, but intensely. It screeched and groaned and buckled as the ice pulled it under, crushed it, and spilled its guts onto the seafloor like so much roadkill.

Feb 25, 2014
Your story is told as a series of letters.

993 words

To the gods it may concern


flerp fucked around with this message at 22:30 on Apr 12, 2019

May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch

ThirdEmperor posted:

Your flash rule is you have to write a story from the perspective of a blind protagonist with zero visual description oh and there's a mermaid.

A Friday in Lent

Words: 770

I did not need to hear the garbled words to recognize the cadence and inflection in the carnival barker’s voice.

“Come one, come all, see the fish-man of Atlantis, a horrific fusion of skin and scale, sure to linger in your dreams! To tickle your toes from the depths of Havasu, dragging you down to the depths of the Rio Grandy!” Gilbert shouted.

I knew what a fish was. Where it began, where it ended, how stiff and rigid the scales felt, but together how flexible they could be. I was not a fish. I knew what a man was, where it began, where it ended. And I was also not a man.

The massive thunk signaled the show had begun. I was to swim, darting back and forth from the edge of the tank to the other. And just when the front of the tank got warm, I would press my face against the glass. The gasps from the unknown audiences had grown duller as of late. And I laughed to myself about the feelings of guilt I had at not being as horrific an oddity as I had once been.

“You’ve had better Phineas,” Gilbert said. My ears were above the waterline of the tank, to listen and still breath. Coins clinked. There were not many. “Come on, a blind fishman, in Sante Fe!? Feh. Philistines.” The coins slid against each other in the carnival barker’s hand. He was right.

“There was a man here, they said he was from Galveston,” Susan said when she and Clarice had come to chum my waters. River fish, and from someplace far off by the smell of them. New Mexico had been disappointing in many ways.

“The Collector,” Clarice said in a hushed tone.

“You heard about Billy Stiles’ boy, boiled alive to see if he really tasted like lobster,” Susan whispered. Rotten copper and salt filled my mouth. Is this what I will taste like? Will I make more money as a stew?

I heard their hands tap the water, and I put my hands against theirs. I couldn’t hear them anymore, but I felt their lips press against the top of my head. When I felt their hands retract, I let my ears peek above the water. I felt intense sadness as their ungainly shuffle leaft my room. I circled my tank. I listened. I waited for my answer.

I knew what a gun was. Where it began, where it ended. How heavy it was, and where the weight of it would thump on the ground when it fell from a dead man’s hand. I also knew where Gilbert kept his gun. There was a desk, with a chair that would scrape against the ground when Gilbert pushed himself away from his paperwork. There were drawers, one on each side. One of them would stick, he kept the money in there. The other would slide real nice like. He kept the gun in there.

The heavy boots coming down the hall were not Gilberts.

Metal groaned with each lap I made as I picked up speed. I felt the weight of the tank shift but remained strong from the locked wheels. From the sound of the footsteps before I submerged, the man would be at the door in a moment. With a tremendous flick of my tail, I launched myself from the tank. Water splashed against the cold dirt of the ground.

I landed with a hard thud, the bluntness of the ground so shocking, I held onto my breath with every fiber of my being. The creak of the wooden door opening pierced my ears like a lance. The Collector had come for me. Heavy boots stomped to a halt. Hastily, I wrenched the drawer open, and it fell to the ground, wood clattering in my ears. I thought I had known how heavy it would be, but I even then, I was surprised. My wet hands felt for purchase, canvasing the innards of the drawer before finally grasping the handle of my salvation.

“What the devil,” an unknown voice came. And I knew to shoot. The horrific boom shattered my ears, and I heard nothing else save for ringing. I tried to not panic as the dry emptiness closed upon my lungs, and I laid my head down upon the earth. The cool, dry, earth. That this would be the final sensation my hands would feel was not comforting. I longed to be free, to swim, to feel the silt move through my fingers one last time. But I had no regrets.

Apr 12, 2006
Red Demon Black Gun
1000 words

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 09:34 on Jan 4, 2020

Sep 7, 2011

Seven for beauty that blossoms and dies

The Devil Comes To Morningstar
413 Words

Storm clouds were gathering on the Sunday morning the Devil blew into town off of the prairie. Following a call only he could hear, he wore a long black coat and rode a strange pale horse, and left miracles in his wake. A two headed calf, a once mute boy speaking in tongues, an old blind derelict babbling about the sights he was now seeing.

Most folks, though, were at new church, all dressed up in their sunday best, praying to a lord who wasn’t listening, so they didn’t see the early miracles. But soon an unearthly silence fell when the Devil rode by, as the preacher was failed first by his voice, then by his heart. He fell to the floor with a gurgle, and his congregation gazed wordlessly on until he stood up, dusted himself off, and went out to follow the Devil down the street. The worshippers rose as one and went after him.

The storm clouds had broken, and now the sky was clear, and the air was filled with the fresh smell of dirt after the rain. The few people that could tear their eyes from the Devil on his horse noticed that the stars in the dark morning sky were angled all wrong, and none of the constellations were familiar. The strange procession moved down main street, the Devil at the head of the column, while dogs and vagrants mingled with the well-to-do of the town. The dusty road churned into mud, and unseen things wriggled and writhed up from below the ground.

The doors to old church opened before him. Pale sickly light leached into the street and welcomed him across the threshold. His new followers remained in the churchyard, murmuring among themselves in an ancient language, blood dripping from mouths twisting into strange new shapes.

He genuflected toward the toad crucified on the far wall, and smiled at the masked figures who called to him. He shrugged off his coat and it pooled on the floor around his bare feet.
Runes burned darkly on his chest, and the masked figures copied them onto fresh parchment, using ink mixed with their own blood while tears of joy leaked from under their masks.

With their new scrolls completed, they left the Devil behind and returned to their goldmines their oilfields, their plantations, prosperity secured for another year and a day. Weeks later, the Devil rode back out of town, and left it empty but for the crows.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Famous Last Words
1000 words

Minamoto Kenshin was hotly drunk, like someone had lit a fire inside him and doused it with shochu. He drained his cup and banged it on the table with a cheery, armoured fist. “Barkeep! More booze!” He bestowed a smile of utmost affection upon the grizzled man sitting opposite him. “My old friend needs to cushion the loss of his money, haha!”

Konishi Yukinaga, a beefy man with large cheeks and a florid moustache, scowled at him and tapped a few of his mahjong pieces back into place. “You are a rat, and have always been such,” he pronounced with care. “But the booze helps me play better and I therefore permit you to buy more.”

Minamoto pushed his chair back and rose swaying to his feet. “Droplets of booze/dew on a cherry blossom/Konishi’s moustache!” He frowned down at his fingers for a moment, counting out syllables, then sat down again with a snort.

As he did there was a sound like an angry bee whizzing directly over his head and a thwock of impact from the wall behind him. The koto player in the corner of the sake house stopped, apprehensive. Minamoto turned and gaped at the hole then grabbed for his sword and pistol. “Demons!” he cried with a joyful laugh.

Outside the dusty street was aswirl with the noxious smoke of the bonfire that the villagers kept lit to keep the tengu away. Minamoto squinted round the corner of the general store at it, pistol in hand, as he loosened his sword in its lambswool scabbard.

“I told you they would come,” said Konishi, behind him.

Minamoto looked up at the roofs around the village square. “It could have been a jealous husband that took the shot,” he said.

Konishi chuckled. “Any husband would assume you bulletproof when you are drunk, they’ve all heard the stories. See, up there?”

Minamoto peered through the thick air and shook his head. “Have you written your death poem yet?”

“Well,” said Konishi. “I dreamt the Old Lady of the Springs will take me the moment it’s finished so I’ll do it when I die. It will be very beautiful, you can cradle me in your arms.”

“He lived like a fool/his head was a watermelon/Konishi is dead?”

“Too many syllables. Now, quiet, I can hear something.” Konishi was still for a moment then took two steps to the side with his revolver outstretched and loosed a shot past Minamoto’s shoulder. The blast of the pistol shot rolled around the village square. Across from them a smallish figure stood up on the curved eaves of the roof and, slowly, toppled down the the ground in a puff of the dust.

Minamoto cackled. “Good shot, for a watermelon head!”

Konishi inclined his helmet modestly, the bestial features catching the light from the bonfire and seeming to grimace, then looked back up. There was a rumbling sound coming from the other side of the square.

“Is that--” he began, but whatever he was about to say was drowned out by the monstrous clatter of hooves as a tsunami of fear-maddened horses came bursting from the alley like sake from an overturned jug. Atop the horses, gripping their manes with cruel talons, was a grinning and cackling horde of tengu, their eyes afire on the flickering light.

Minamoto and Konishi’s first bullets were so close they seemed to make a single sound. They fired again, and again, each bullet knocking one of the leering beaknosed goblins off their horse, but then the stampede was upon them. Minamoto drew his sword and cut in a single movement, sidestepped a horse’s flying hoof and cut again. In a fire-lit flash he saw Konishi with his sword caught in the belly of a bellowing tengu, then a stallion came crashing past and over the pair and they were lost to sight.

For a timeless succession of moments Minamoto was lost in a maze of heaving, sweat-soaked horseflesh and lashing talons, then it was over. The horses were gone, the remaining tengu with them. The air was thick with the stench of burning flesh; a goblin had fallen in the bonfire. The village square was littered with corpses, goblin and horse alike.

Minamoto looked at the corpse, breathing heavily. “I’m getting a little old for this, I think,” he said.

There was no reply. Minamoto looked around for his friend, then stiffened as he heard a groan. Konishi was caught under the dead body of a horse, his mask askew.

“You are an idiot,” Minamoto said, pulling away the mask. “But I’ll get you out.”

“No,” said Konishi. His face was pale, as though he had seen a ghost. “I can see her coming.”

Minamoto hesitated as he was about to push the horse away. He looked under its corpse. Konishi’s body was a ruin; the talons of the tengu, driven by the falling horse, had ripped through armour and flesh. “Ah,” he said.

“She is coming, Minamoto. But she can’t take me until she hears my death poem. She can’t. I dreamed it. Hold it for me, old friend? Will you?”

Minamoto felt the sweaty skin on the back of his neck cool, and his hackles rise, as a cold insinuating wind swept down the alley. He hesitated, then nodded and leant forward.

Konishi whispered three lines in his ear, gasping for breath between each one. “Never tell,” he said. “Never.”

Minamoto pulled off his gauntlet and laid his hand on the cooling forehead of his friend. “Never,” he said.


The cliffs on the western coast of Hokkaido are steep and the rocks there are jagged, still angry from their travail in the earth’s core. Every morning at dawn Minamoto Kenshin sits zazen atop the Cliff of Orphans, his sword sheathed on the ground before him, battered revolver beside it. He is silent and impassive, though every now and then he licks the salty spray from his lips. He has not spoken for ten years.

Mar 21, 2013
Second Chance (991 words)
Simone Lutrell’s hands are nowhere near her holster, but part of me can’t help wondering if this is what finally convinces her to put a bullet between my eyes.

“Flores,” she says, coldly furious, “I believe I told you to find out which godforsaken cave Smith and his cronies were hiding out in. Discreetly.

I nod.

“Explain, then, why you instead decided to start a bar fight with his men, burn down one of the oldest establishments in Ladle as a result, and kidnap a --.” She spares a glance at my companion, who sullenly returns it, and grimaces. “--kid.”

Luther opens his mouth to protest, but our combined stares shut his mouth.

“I--,” I begin, then stop. I could say something about the hunted look in his eyes. It was the look I saw in the mirror after my first hit, six months after Father had thrown me out, and it was the one that returned after I’d taken out Marcus Lutrell because some miner boss was fed up not being able to demand twelve-hour workdays. But I wasn’t willing to talk about my past at the best of times, and Simone didn’t look like she wanted to hear. “I felt sorry for him.”

Both of them glared at me. I added, “And he says he’ll tell us everything we want to know, as long we give him a new life.”

“He says. Now Smith knows we’re here. There were other ways to get that information, you know.”

“I didn’t feel like holding a gun to his head,” I say, more lightly than I feel. Simone’s eyes narrow.

“Oh, I get it,” she bites out. “You’ve decided to jeopardize any chances to bringing Smith to justice, because some kid reminds you of yourself.”

I ignore that. “We’ll be fine if we strike tomorrow. And you can’t tell me you were thinking of going in without any idea of the floorplan.”

She crosses her arms and doesn’t respond. I snap, “Seriously? Do you have a deathwish?”

“If I did, whose fault would that be?,” she fires back, and that effectively ends the conversation.

The atmosphere isn’t any more comfortable when we ride out next morning, following Luther’s directions. The kid’s seated in front of me, while Simone followed close behind.

It takes longer than I thought for Luther to ask, “Why did she say I reminded you of yourself?”

I sigh. “I fell in with a bad crowd when I was young and tired of drifting. Did things I don’t anymore.”

“Like what?” He twists to look back at me, and I can’t help but snort.

“Shoot people.”

“You shot Billy and Eric back in the bar,” he points out.

“With aether pellets,” I say.

His eyes widen. “You were an assassin?”

“Hitwoman,” I correct him.

He thinks about this for a bit, then says, “I didn’t know they let hitwomen be law officers.”

I laugh. “I’m no officer. I just… owe Simone a favor.”

He clearly wants to ask more, but takes another look at my face and decides not to pry. Instead, we fill the rest of the ride with small talk -- best places to fish in the Morrison River, the brother he left behind upriver, and my halting descriptions of Colorado City.

The raid goes surprisingly well -- the moon’s barely clear of the mountains before every member of the Smith gang is trussed up and either groaning or unconscious. The flare’s already sent up, so it’s only a matter of time before their escort arrives. I’m making sure the knots on Smith himself are particularly secure -- ignoring his glare -- when Simone approaches.

“Where’s Luther?” she says. I wave over to the straggly bunch of pines where the kid’s sulking. Unsurprisingly, he’d wanted to join in; unsurprisingly, Simone had joined me in refusing.

She nods and walks off, and I can’t help but sigh. Clearing out the base with Simone had been familiar and oddly comforting.

Smith’s words bring me back to the present. “Never thought I’d see the <nickname> be panting over some prissy, stuck-up--”

I kick him in the gut, and he wheezes.

“Best save your words for the trial,” I say. “I don’t think there’s a lawyer within a hundred miles that’ll defend you.”

“Don’t need one,” he sneers. “Just need to do what you did and --”

Instead of paying him any further attention, I stand up and call to Simone, “You got a gag?”

“In my saddlebags,” she calls back.

I’m halfway there when Luther yells, but before I can turn I feel something burning in my left hip, and the world goes black.

When I wake up, it’s in a hospital bed. Luther bolts out of the room as soon as I sit up and returns with Simone.

She smiles, some sort of tension easing out of her shoulders. “I’m glad you’re awake.”

“How the hell did he get out of the ropes?” I croak, and she grimaces.

“He had an aether pellet in his mouth. A little manipulation after spitting it onto the ropes, and they were sliced clean open.” Simone frowns. “I had no idea he had the capability for that. I should’ve checked.”

“Right,” I say, unsure of what else to say.

The silence drags on, getting more and more awkward, when Luther rolls his eyes and shoves Simone forward. “Talk.”

Simone just glares at him as he runs off, but takes a seat by my bed.

“I’d like to apologize,” she says.

I look away. “It’s fine. What you said was true.”

“That’s not --” She fumbles, then finds her bearings. “It was unfair. I was being irrational, and I shouldn’t have used Marcus against you just because I was angry.”

I just look at her, and she laughs, softly. “Take care, Flores. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

She leaves, and her retreating figure is the last thing I see as I slip off to sleep.

Mr. Steak
May 9, 2013

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS
(i took a nap that turned into oversleeping the deadline. here is the unfinished story that i quickly wrote an ending for.)

untitled western
280 words or something

Normally, when a fella wants to shoot in my mouth, I charge extra. Then again, on a normal day he’s the one screamin’ instead of me, and the entire saloon ain’t watchin’ us.

“Nobody move or the broad gets it!”

The piano music jumbled to a messy stop and the men stopped their chatter. I ain’t never heard a drinkin’ establishment so quiet before. Maybe that’s why I thought my sobs were echoin’ louder than a bull in heat.

I felt like a hand puppet put on the wrong way ‘round, that cold metal shovin’ my head to Timbuktu and back again. The angry man was shoutin’ some commands while I was just tryin’ to keep all my teeth from gettin’ knocked out. Which is when he got interrupted by the sound of the saloon doors bein’ kicked open.

A big burly man was standin’ there. “Unhand that damsel this instant!” he said while he took somethin’ red and slithery from a pouch on his belt.

The robber tightened his grip on the gun. At that moment, I was a hair away from acceptin’ my death. He shouted some stuff I didn’t hear ‘cause his spittle went all over my ear and also I was terrified for my life so I wasn’t payin’ attention much.

The burly man did a throwin’ sort of motion, after which I only saw a red blur hissin’ through the air towards the robber’s head next to mine. And then, much to my surprise, the robber’s head burst into flames like he got hit with a crack of lightnin’, which sent me flung to the floor and singed off half an eyebrow.


And then everyone in the saloon died of a fatal brain hemorrhage.

The end.

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

:siren: Interprompt :siren:

And then everyone died of a fatal brain haemorrhage, but that was just the beginning.

Mr. Steak
May 9, 2013

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS

Yoruichi posted:

:siren: Interprompt :siren:

And then everyone died of a fatal brain haemorrhage, but that was just the beginning.

Vast Swimmer
289 words

Their bodies had to be destroyed for their souls to ascend. The most accurate way to describe the event so that a human consciousness can understand is like thus: an inconcievably large space-fish made of time swallowed up the planet as well as most of its solar system, leaving no physical trace of its existence save for the destruction of every life. This description is 50% accurate, but further details would be pure nonsense to a mind that lacks the basic concepts that such an explanation would reference.

I am that large space-fish. My purpose is to swim and eat, and to assimilate conscousnesses. I understand all human belief systems as well as the thoughts of every tree. I understand that I am similar in some ways to the concept of nirvana. For many long years I ate slowly, never satisfied but rarely gorging myself. It was a solar flare that did us all in, I think, in the end. Now I am full forever and starving. It has been an inconcievable amount of time and I am still digesting from that massive bite.

Every individual within me has experienced the full life of every other individual, and are doing so currently, as if constantly dreaming. They forget themselves, forget the infinity of lives they have already lived. They are dreaming of you right now, feeling exactly what you feel, and knowing all of your thoughts as of they were their own. Because they are, once you have been assimilated, which you already have, eventually.

So never feel alone or misunderstood. Know that you were never, could never be alone. We are all watching and all knowing. My name is your name and you are an inconcievably large space-fish.

Jun 1, 2011

Thus equipped by fortune, physique, and character, he was naturally indomitable, and subordinate to no one in the world.
Week 343 Bonus Crit

I said I’d crit the late entry eventually, so here it is. Fortunately it was only mildly cursed despite being late.

Bringer by anatomi

For the most part, I liked this story. The plot and characters are simple but good, there’s just enough weirdness to feel mysterious and vaguely otherworldly without it being distracting, and the prose is generally pretty good. I really enjoyed how you told the story from Alma's perspective - childlike enough to feel distinct but not so much as to be annoying.

The bit where Alma slaps herself and calls herself a “loving whore” is quite a powerful and clever way of telling us more about her and her mother’s history. I feel like I would have preferred you not then mention “Daddy” immediately afterwards - let your reader figure it out, especially because you’re going to make it all clear later on anyway.

The scene between Elsa and “Mommy” doesn’t really work for me. Part of it is perhaps that some of it is a little too on-the-nose, but I think the big issue is that the rest of the story is so clearly from Alma’s perspective. Even in this scene, where Alma isn’t present until the end, her mother is referred to by her relationship to Alma rather than her name. It confuses the perspective and takes me out of what I think is the greatest strength of the story - the focus on Alma and her perspective.

I also think you’re a little over-ambitious with some of your prose. It leads to some very vivid descriptions when it works, but it also falls a bit flat or even winds up straight-up confusing sometimes. How does one clatter wetly? Can one really snap one’s insanity at someone? I think you need to ask yourself when you’re using an unusual phrase because it’s legitimately evocative and when you’re just doing it for its own sake. Sometimes a simpler phrase is better - you don’t really need to tell me that a “guttural resonance” is also strange.

I don’t think the variation in tenses really works. I know that it wasn’t random, that you intended for it to delineate what was flashback and what was happening in the present. The problem is that I still initially misunderstood the fourth and fifth sections of the story. I initially thought that the fourth section was a return to the present - the tense staying in the past wasn’t enough to make me realize this was still a flashback. Maybe that’s my fault, but I think you need more than the tense change. In the third section it’s pretty clear from the way you open it that you’re talking about the past, but in the fourth section you’re entirely relying on the reader to have noticed the tense. You start with talking about a discrete action taken by Alma, which immediately made me think we were jumping back to the present, especially because it fits into the narrative (she just ran away to go to the mire, after all). The fact that Alma then proceeds to beat herself up over something only reinforced my perception that this was back in the present and that you’d just switched tenses by mistake. You also confuse the issue a bit by using the past perfect rather than the simple past in some cases without an obvious reason.

When I read the fifth section, I briefly thought it was meant to be a timeskip before figuring out that no, this was right after she ran away from Elsa. I then had to go back and re-read the previous section with that in mind. Ultimately it just took me out of the story. I would recommend doing things other than tense changes to distinguish between present and flashback, either in addition to or, better yet, instead of. Even if done a bit better, it can still be a bit disorienting to suddenly have the tense change. Sometimes you might want to do that intentionally (I once read a book where all the scenes from the perspective of a particular character were in a different tense, and it did a lot to convey a different feeling for that character), but here it’s something you probably want to avoid.

Grade: B-

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
Mike like the director of Office Space and Judge.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012

Okay, while I understand that my stunning and triumphant return to Thunderdome might have taken a little extra time to process, this is getting silly. JUDGE JUDGE JUDGE

Nov 13, 2012

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

Wait hang on, FJGJ?

Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica
When is it considered socially acceptable to resort to cannibalism?

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Thunderdome Week 346 Results - For A Few Words More

Judging this week wasn't hard. There were the good stories, there were the bad stories, and there was everyone else who thought they could throw together three cliches and a magic wand and make it a story worth telling.

The Good
Escaping with a right honorable mention this week are Squirm, Love by anatomi, Friday in Lent by Noah, To the gods it may concern by Flerp, and Famous Last Words by sebmojo.

The Bad
Facing a dishonorable end this week is The Vow by Applewhite. Lest anyone think our law to be unjust, the judges gave full consideration to this week's disqualified stories, and found that both Tugger and Lil Yatch by SlipUp and untitled western by onsetOutsider deserved to join it.

The Ugly
Unfortunately, Cactus Conundrum by Salgal80 proved to be a conundrum to the judges as well, and so takes the loss for this week.

Which leaves me to announce who the new law in town is. The Buffalo Mountains, the Pelican Swamps, by merit of being a story with things such as characters, imagery, and meaning, is the winner this week. Antivehicular, the blood throne is yours.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Week 346 Crits - Al Dente Westerns

This week had two problems that cropped up again and again. I talked about them in my crits, but I wanted to address them directly, so that some of you might consider them the next time you subject me to twenty thousand words of the driest prose possible. First, let's talk about cliche. Tropes, if you will. Most short stories are going to make some use of cliche, because they're a way to get across information quickly. If I start talking about red stone mesas and the sound of spurs, there's a whole lot of things I don't have to explain because you know, roughly, the kind of story I'm telling. The tropes become a quick-and-easy framework you can pitch a story on top of. I don't have to establish the broad-strokes ideas if I can use the ones already in my audience's heads, which means I can spend my time fleshing out the details of the story: the interesting bits that make it unique and worth reading. A common problem in stories this week was falling back on the cliche as a crutch; instead of using it to build something unique, a story would just gesture at "cowboy" and that would be it. The meat of your story is the details that make it live.

Detail brings me to the second problem: this week was bogged down with dull, explanatory prose. I don't like to be prescriptive about writing, but allow me to say this: explaining things is not the point of writing. There's two basic ways to get around this, which I'm cribbing from my half-remembered reading of Ursula Le Guin's book on writing: you can either leap, or you can bunch. Leaping is the use of sparse but evocative detail, and it works through implication. You say something small, but through that you're able to infer a great deal. It works both in prose and in dialogue. Say a little and mean a lot. Bunching is the opposite, where you pack a lot of detail in at once, but all that detail is to a purpose. You might be describing a landscape, or a room, or a city scene, or a person's outfit, or a meal, but you take the time out to drive home something, some mood or feeling that you want the reader to have a deep understanding of. You can either leap or bunch, depending on your purpose and how much time you want to spend on something, but the critical thing is that both of these work by describing one thing to say something else. That's the one big trick of writing: saying more than one thing at once. I'll put Noah on the spot because he's a big boy and can handle it, here's the one line that stuck me right in the good bits:


I knew what a fish was. Where it began, where it ended, how stiff and rigid the scales felt, but together how flexible they could be. I was not a fish. I knew what a man was, where it began, where it ended. And I was also not a man.

This is three things at once. First, it's the protagonist saying they're a mermaid. Second, it's them saying how they know they're a mermaid. Third, it's the protagonist saying what it's like to be a mermaid. Most importantly, it's doing all this in a way I haven't heard before. It's interesting. It's going to stick in my head much longer than "I was a mermaid" would have. When you're writing, say something the reader wouldn't expect, or say it in a way the reader wouldn't expect. If you're saying what they expect in the way they expect to hear it, you might as well skip ahead to where your story gets interesting again.

Barnaby Profane - Flowers for Sylvester
This is some good pulpy fun, but to me the plot feels a bit like it was written in real time. Maybe that's not the case, but at a couple of points, especially around the end, plot points pop up right as they're useful. "I've got a dagger that makes you a zombie!" "But I know zombie daggers are explosive!" If the story sprinkled some of that in earlier, like giving Rudolf a glowing dagger wound or having Sylvester nearly drop the knife and clutch it in a panic because it's so volatile, that would make the ending feel more like a logical consequence of the beginning. That's really my only criticism, aside from that I like this well enough and I appreciate that it took the premise of zombie whorehouses seriously, because taking a silly premise seriously is always going to be more fun.

apophenium - A Stand of Trees
This is a pretty talky piece, which is not necessarily bad, but I'm not super interested in either of these characters' voices. There'd be plenty of opportunity to play up a fast-talking thief or a ponderous old magical guardian, but they both kind of have the same fantasy-exposition voice, and since it's a first-person story, that extends to the prose, too. I think what I'd really want to see in a story like this is more of a sense of wonder. The story calls it "the last green oasis" and "the enchanted forest" but aside from that, I don't get the feeling that this is some magically-sustained wood. And there is a lot of talking, which could be pared down to allow more room for a sense of place, or betrayal between the thief and the partner, or whatever the story ought to be focused on.

anatomi - Squirm, Love
Cool and good. The way the world is fleshed out here reminds me of the good stuff from an anthology of New Weird fiction I was reading: a bunch of weird body horror in a weird setting but presented as if it's perfectly normal, and the story's structured such that the reader understand what things are without having to be told what Ochre or frass or dartsacs are. I'll admit, I got a bit tangled up right around the start of the third section, probably as a result of one too many words that didn't quite click at first, but I got it soon enough. (I couldn't tell what the Shell was, since in this world, that could be the name for anything. Might be something to tweak if this story's getting cleaned up.) Aside from that minor blip, this was the kind of good poo poo I wanted. Also props on good use of second person, which I always like to see.

staggy - Memory of Water
This is a pretty interesting story, and an interesting comparison to Flowers for Sylvester, since here the final twist is foreshadowed, though I'd sort of forgotten about it by the time it came to the end. For something that's this duel-y (magic duel, but close enough) I could have used a clearer idea of how a spell is cast. It's something to do with palms and moving your arms, but I couldn't say exactly what you do to cast a spell. That's the sort of thing I think a story should either commit to and make sure the reader sees in full, or just gloss over and use some simple analogy like cracking a whip. One bit I really liked was the charms 'reminding the riverbed of water long gone'. That's an evocative way of putting it, and I like the notion of magic that works via some mystical memory of how things were. (Also, I see how it's thematic, though it took me until rereading to see that.)

Thranguy - Dust and Blood
Unsurprisingly, the story about someone who's aimless is a bit aimless itself. I like the world here, which is good, because it occupies a lot of the story, though this story's smart enough to make sure that it's the world through this character's eyes. It's not quite as lively as Squirm, Love's worldbuilding, since it's flashbacks instead of action, but it's decent, and the story has a voice to it so it's engaging enough. It felt a bit like it was building to something, I suppose, and then at the end the something is the reveal that the Magic Weird Zone is Reno. Which is, sure, I just don't know why it's that instead of Zion or Salt Lake or anything else. I suppose the point is we finally know where he's going. I liked the world and the writing, but the plot left me a bit more "Oh." than anything.

Nikaer Drekin - A Silent Spell
Not bad. This one feels a little heavy on the plot compared to some of the others this week, but that might be a consequence of having so many characters around, even though some of them are really just there to be wizard fodder. My biggest thought is that the wizard guy's death is a little over the top--though I guess it's not too much more over the top than a crater and a crimson haze. More to the point though, it makes his reappearance at the end feel a bit more like a haha gotcha twist, since we saw him pretty definitively die. I think if it was less of a death and more of, like, banishing or teleportation or something, having him reappear at the end to gloat feels less like a "wizards can do anything they want" pull. I like the ambiguity that's left at the end, since it seems like Pete did what the wizard wanted in the end, but it's unclear whether or not it was mind control or prejudice. Even if it's not meant to be ambiguous, I like the idea of it being ambiguous more than if it actually was mind control.

Baneling Butts - Lucy
I like the premise here, but I think the pacing is where it could use some work. The conflict really only starts about two-thirds of the way through, so there's not a lot of time to explore it, and it's left kind of squeezed all into the end. The story would be able to build up more tension with the main character trying to urge Lucy to goof up at a distance, struggling and unsure if she can hear him, until she finally starts to act out. As is, the tension lasts about as long as one paragraph. It is also, like a couple stories this week, pretty talky in a way I think it doesn't need to be. There's room to trim out stuff that could be implied or glossed over instead so there's more time to focus on the core, which is someone wanting to buy Lucy and the two of them working together to convince her to go with another horse.

Antivehicular - The Buffalo Mountains, the Pelican Swamps
I guess this is still fantasy, though of a different sort; it's more Weird or slipstream or something. Which I'm not complaining about, it's just a shift in tone from wizards and magic mushrooms. I like it a lot though. The surreal nature of the apocalypse is interesting and compelling, and all along there's this feeling that something is more wrong than the narration is letting on, because it explains a lot about the animals, but not what's going on with the people, until the end when we see what's up. It's meaningful without trying to drive its point home with a blunt instrument, which is absolutely an accomplishment. Also, props on good use of tenses.

Salgal80 - Cactus Conundrum
Well, it's sufficiently weird, I suppose. If I was the nitpicky type I'd ask how much of a western this is, but it's not like I can't see the story's connection to the prompt. There's a lot of dream logic at work here, and dream logic tends to be good for stories where a mood is more important than the plot, but it's dream logic plus a lot of plot, which means the story spends a lot of time explaining what the premise is. Another consequence of dream logic is a character who just sort of stands in awe or does things without knowing why. A story like this could work, I think, if it explained less and leaned more into the surreality of the situation.

Applewhite - The Vow
At some point I'm just going to start writing SEE ABOVE for these crits. Anyway, this story feels as though it was written all in one go, because plot points are introduced only once they're relevant: Tanlis can choose who to serve if someone saves her life, a True Love Kiss breaks the spell and kills her, et cetera. Also, why did she kiss him if she knew it might kill her? Was she still under the lich's thrall and he just wanted to be a dick to Irwin? It would have made sense if Irwin was the one to kiss her and then she's like "oh no, my one weakness!" This story also struggles with tone; I can see a couple stabs in a lively direction, but most of it is flat and expository, especially around the beginning. A lot more words are spent telling me what happened than making me feel what happened.

Yoruichi - The Legend of One Horse Town
The premise of this reminds a little of the dream logic of Cactus Conundrum, though this story pulls off the slightly surreal nature more cleanly. The sort of reinterpreted mythologized way this story takes its western influences works well, though while I get the idea behind the horse being incongruously casual, it does feel a little out of place in this tall-tale style setting. Aside from that, I like this story, it's a fun, light jumble of a bunch of tropes. I can tell the author was enjoying writing this, and that's always nice.

Simply Simon - The Crystal's Chosen
Pro tip: Twine is thread, twain is 'two'. I wouldn't mention this except that, working on riverboats, your character would almost certainly have heard the phrase "mark twain". Aside from that, this story is all right, though I think clunky worldbuilding is a theme this week. The ideas aren't bad, diffuser crystals are basically the equivalent of Deadlands' ghost rock, but there's a bit too much explaining when the story could be demonstrating what's happening. The climax, too, gets muddled between who exactly the crystal is siding with and what its magic can do. By implication, it seems as though the guy dies in the blast, but then he's alive again when the crystal starts using its magic, but then the crystal isn't powerful enough to keep him from getting shot. If he was just unconscious and the crystal healed him and woke him up, it'd be better to have an aside like "...sprawls now, dead, or at least otherwise indisposed," so the reader doesn't discount him entirely from the plot.

SlipUp - Land in the World of Poseidon
On one hand, the prose in this could use a lot of work. It flips back and forth between present and past tense at the start before settling on past tense. There's bits of pronoun confusion, like in this paragraph:


It was swarms of sharks. Great whites, hammerheads, tigers, and species yet even undiscovered. Their dolphin steeds clicked in anger at their natural foes.
The first 'their' seems to be referring to the sharks, not to the father and son, so there's a momentary confusion that interrupts the flow of reading. There's also a couple instances where a word gets repeated in a way that feels accidental instead of intentional, like "he held his hand backwards and blasted a jet of water out, blasting his dolphin through the water at high speed." All that said, I think the plot of this is pretty good. It's a decent pulp action fight where the stakes get escalated and the climax is the result of the hero outsmarting the villain. What I'd do to punch up the plot is to tie that last bit of magic, controlling the sea turtle, to what the father and son are doing in the beginning. Maybe it's some spell that makes it so when the father dies, the son gets his power for a short time. Maybe it's something else. Either way, the point would be that it's this bit of preparation, which Poseidon doesn't know about, that gives the son the strength to steer the turtle. That way, you can tie the beginning in with the end and make it feel like the whole plot has been building to this.

Doctor Zero - Old Bones
The first two paragraphs of this story can be cut and replaced with one line at the start of the third about the framing device. It's not damning or anything, but starting a story with this conversational floppiness is a good way to get a reader worried. Once I get past that, it's pretty much fine beyond that, though I think there was an opportunity to subvert the "monster is actually a dinosaur" thing by having this narrator actually know what kind of dinosaur it was (or at least, have him amusingly mangle the name). While the ending works fine, I think it would be stronger if the story emphasized Lucky more, since it's his sacrifice that's the climax--either in the narrative itself, or by having the narrator bring up Lucky in a way that suggests he's still holding onto his memory, like "Y'know that was Lucky's chair you're sitting in" or something, just some way to further sell the idea that Lucky meant a lot to the narrator.

crimea - Fool's Journey
By the end of these crits they're going to be all footnotes and references like some bad Borges knockoff. This voice is a better execution of the voice in Old Bones, and it's written in that way that hints at a greater world like Squirm, Love, but it doesn't quite stick around long enough to leave a sense of what's happened. The sort of mythic obscurity of these tarot-card people is interesting, as is the fact that they turn to stone and apparently make babies from spitting their teeth into dead people's mouths, but those aspects come so late in the story that I was left more puzzling about them and how literal they were meant to be. It's an enjoyable story, but I wish it had more to sink my teeth into, or more staying power, or whatever you want to call it.

Viscardus - The Diary of Lieutenant Hiroaki Sakamoto
This is pretty good at achieving what it wants to do, though the downside is that, as a series of diary entries, it's limited in what it can say and how it can say it. The beats of the story basically map onto a horror plotline, but as more of a drama than a thriller: some people disrupt an old spirit, misfortune befalls them, things get worse, it's revealed the old spirit was behind it all, and then at the end everyone is claimed and all that's left is the record of what happened. It's Blair Witch with fox ladies, which is perfectly fine of course, it's just a competent supernatural yarn. I don't have a whole lot to say about it, I suppose.

SlipUp - Tugger and Lil Yatch
Huh, well that was a story. I'm not sure how Western it is, aside from the theme of oil, but I said I wouldn't bother with that sort of prompt nitpicking, so I won't. There's a lot of confusing bits and bobs here that don't really add up to a whole. What's a Model T battleship? All I can think of is a Ford Model T refitted into a battleship, but I don't think that's what this story was going for at all, since it seems to be more of a combined battleship/oil rig. I feel like you're going for a Mad Max/Waterworld style competition for gasoline thing, but why would a sailboat be a threat to oil reserves? It doesn't need oil, it's a sailboat. Was this trenchant political commentary? What's the deal with the tugboat pulling a giant iceberg? Is it more political commentary that the oil-hungry battleship is crushed by an Arctic iceberg? Regardless, the story has a bunch of proofing errors that make me think you would have been better off putting effort into cleaning your first story up a bit as opposed to firing off two stories in quick succession.

flerp - To the gods it may concern
I'm a sucker for stories that address the reader in some way, and this one got me right in the you. It's told well and it's an interesting story to tell, because it takes the usual rage at the gods and turns it into something more than screaming at the void, it's someone actually taking retribution against the gods that won't help their people. If anyone has the right to take revenge against the gods, it's your protagonist, and the fact that these are all made out to address the gods directly makes their motivations feel less like some sort of generic vengeance and more nuanced.

Noah - A Friday in Lent
Hey, it's good. That third paragraph, and the echo of it later on in the story, is probably my favorite part, because it's an excellent way to say that someone's a mermaid without saying the word mermaid. You can tell there's been a lot of explainy stories this week when I get to this story and go "I like the part where it didn't have to literally say the exact thing that was happening!" It's overall a bit of good storytelling though, and I especially appreciate the work the story does to flesh out all the sensations except for sight and to think things through the way someone who couldn't see would think them through.

Tyrannosaurus - Red Demon Black Gun
Hey, it's also good. As always, the voice in this story is pretty spot-on, though in the third section some of Kajiwara's lines come off as a bit mustache-twirling, which, he's a demon yeah, but he's a sarcastic demon more than the "Mmm, how delectable" sort of demon, at least from what I got out of his other lines. The only other nit I can pick is that his surprise at the daughter killing Koga would make a bit more sense if he didn't already know about her father's death when she came to him. Aside from that, this is pretty enjoyable and would work as a prelude to more wacky demon hijinks.

cptn_dr - The Devil Comes To Morningstar
I think this story ought to have leaned harder on the weirdness. There's hints of it there, in places, like the townspeoples' mouths deforming, but almost everything else feels a bit too straightforward. There's some standard omens, then someone dies and comes back to life, and then some more standard Satan stuff happens, but nothing really breaks the mold. The other way to take it would have been to make the weirdness mundane, to make it just the town that happens to worship the devil. As is, this story plays the Devil In A Small Town thing a bit too straight to be that memorable.

sebmojo - Famous Last Words
I think at this point it's only this and Red Demon Black Gun that went the Kurosawa route, which is a bit surprising for a bunch of goons. I was debating whether the introduction felt a bit full and I think it could be pared down a bit, along with some bits from the earlier portions where they're trying to figure out where the shot came from, but at the same time, I can see what it's doing, since the big important thing in this story is the relationship between Minamoto and Konishi more than the actual fight. The fight itself was done well, but it would be just as well with an extra paragraph or so in there, I think. It's just nitpicking though, this is a fine story anyway.

kurona_bright - Second Chance
A story with this many moving parts is tricky with only a thousand words to do it in, and I felt like I was missing a bit of context throughout. Not in a way that's intentional, but more in a way that I wasn't sure what the stakes were or the relationships between the characters until fairly late on. The story does a good job of managing the relationships between these characters in the space it has, but for a good portion of it, I had to take on faith that there were facts tying together all of this. I'm still not sure what Luther's part in this is, since he feels like someone they just picked up, but by the end he's encouraging Simone to apologize about a particular dig she made about their history together. Even without knowing that this was cut down from a longer story (and in a hurry too) I could guess that this was meant to be something about half again as long as it was.

onsetOutsider - untitled western
My advice is to ease up on the abbreviatin' those gerunds, since that can get a little tedious in prose. The word choice here is decent enough to carry the tone without having that little reminder apostrophe pop up and hit me between the eyes every sentence. Also, if you're not making it in under the deadline anyway, why not bother to write an actual end to the story? Might as well finish if you're already late.

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Here are my week 346 late sign-up penance crits

Cactus Conundrum by Salgal80

Trying to fall asleep, Maya couldn’t shake the poo poo-eating grin of the man in the cowboy hat. Working in the nursery at Home Depot in Bangor, Maine brought her in contact with locals, mostly. This cowboy was no local. She knew that right off.

A weird start. Your first para needs to set up the story - tell us about the protag, or establish the conflict, or show us something interesting about the world. I think the problem with this opening is you’ve got a bunch of details that don’t matter, like the fact that she can’t sleep or that she works at Home Depot. “poo poo-eating” is a very strong adjective and is out of keeping with the tone of the rest of the para.

A February wind snaked between the doors as he sauntered in. “I’m looking for a cactus, young lady. Can ya help me?”

Urgh I really don’t like random vernacular in dialogue. If you’re going to write an accent it’s got to be justified and really consistent. In this case it’s unnecessary because we know he’s a cowboy and we all know how cowboys talk.

Maya pointed to a table where cacti and other succulents struggled under a heat lamp. “That’s all we got, mister.”

He bent down to peer at a globe cactus, stood straight up, saying, “Well, ain’t that something. I do believe that’s my dear Aunt Delores.”

Maya gaped at him, not sure what to do or say. Her mind wandered to what kind of plant her Aunt Betty would be, if indeed she was a plant.

This is an odd combination of reactions - being so surprised you don’t know what to say and then immediately starting to daydream about your Aunt. I’m now picturing Maya, highly trained Home Depot employee, just standing there with her mouth open, possibly drooling.

“Sorry, little lady, the name’s Jed.” He tipped his Stetson. Jed’s next dialogue should continue on this line.

“Didn’t mean to spook ya. I’m alookin’ Arrrghfor a cactus like this.” He pulled a Polaroid out of his jacket pocket. “Has to be just like this one.” A tan, weathered hand held the image of a mini saguaro.

“That’s a pretty interesting plant.”

Well done, Maya, Employee of the Month. But seriously, this is very boring dialogue. Look for words that tell us nothing (like “interesting”) and swap them out for actual details (does the cactus have a moustache, perhaps?)

“Sure is. If you get one in like this you’ll call me, won’t ya?” A poo poo-eating grin crossed his face as he handed her a card that said: Jed, Just whistle.

One “poo poo-eating” was enough. Aside from repeating a weird and unpleasant adjective, you’ve missed a chance here to tell us something new about Jed.

Maya looked up and he was gone, leaving her alone and perplexed.

I’m starting to think Maya might always be perplexed. The way this is written implies he vanished, in which case this deserves a much bigger reaction.

Maya was laying in bed thinking about the cowboy, then her grandmother, who used to tell her bedtime stories before she died. Although Maya barely remembered her, she suddenly pictured her as a prickly pear. Rolling over, she saw the paper on her nightstand in the glow of the nightlight. She picked it up. Just whistle.

Maya doesn’t have a lot going on, does she.

Curiosity overcame her. She took a deep breath, pursed her lips, and blew. A light beam shot through the window and burst into tiny floating orbs. Maya blinked, and there stood Jed.

“Where is he? I mean, where’s the cactus?”

I thought you meant Maya was speaking at first and was very confused.

He surveyed the room. “Wait a gosh darn minute.”

Maya sat up, “I’m sorry. I didn’t think—.”

“Well, the dice’ve been rolled then.” Lifting a decree out of his jacket pocket, he read:

Dodge Ordinance #318: Summoning someone under false pretenses
by means of whistling is strictly forbidden. No exceptions. Penalty is immediate
trial at Gurdy’s Saloon.

Before Maya could protest, Jed was by her side touching her shoulder. She felt herself momentarily hurtling through a black void, and landing with a thud.

This is the most (and perhaps only) interesting thing that’s happened in this story so far. This would have made a better starting point than the dull chitchat in Home Depot.

“One. Two, Three. Four,” a large red-haired woman was barking up to the stage. Maya couldn’t believe her eyes. A dance line of saguaro cacti where hopping left and right, arms swaying to the music.

Jed interrupted, “Gurdy, we need an emergency trial.”

“Who’d we have here?”

“I believe it’s Willa’s grand daughter. She falsely whistled. According to the law, she’s yours to deal with now.” He moseyed to the bar.

Gurdy eyed Maya, “Well, I’ll be. How’d you--nevermind. What’d ya have to say for yourself?”

Who the hell is Gurdy? Don’t just hand wave in new characters without telling us who they are or why they matter.

Maya stood speechless.

Of course she did. C’mon Maya...

“Cat got your tongue?” she chuckled.

Maya stared beyond Gurdy to the stage, “”

Maya! Get your poo poo together!

“You mean them?” she motioned to the dancers. “Them there’s the losers.”

Maya looked confused. I believe that’s just her resting face. Maya has a resting confused face. Don’t mind the drool.

“You’ve been told when someone duels, the loser dies. Hate to tell ya, but you’ve been lied to. Losers turn into cacti.” Gurdy snorted, “Don’t know which is worse, really.”

Is Maya from a world where duels are a regular occurance? That’s what is implied here, but that’s at odds with the Home Depot setting.

She yelled to the piano player, “Henry. Take over ‘til I’m done here.”

“They got it lucky. Putting on a show here’s the best gig in town. Most losers give up and petition to be taken to your realm where they end up on someone’s window sill.”

Where is “here”? Wtf is going on?

Maya’s mind was spinning, “You mentioned my grandmother….”

“Loser,” Gurdy said respectfully.

Maya was trying to understand. “But, she was a human. How…”

Keep trying Maya, you can do it buddy.

“Jed went looking for his brother Jerry one day and found Willa in her garden. They had a conversation not unlike the one he probably had with you.”

Maya wore a blank look. And drooled, probably.

“See? Jerry lost a duel and gave up. He’s a cactus in your world now. Jed’s been looking for him ever since, even all the way up in Maine. You’re grandmother whistled too. She lost her duel. It’s really very simple.”

So… if you meet Jed, who is a magic cowboy, and then whistle inappropriately, you have to duel, and if you lose you turn into a cactus, because of reasons? I am as confused as Maya now… And who’s Jerry and why’d he give up and why is Jed looking for him even though he’s a cactus now…?

“So, she didn’t die? Where’s she now?”

“On someone’s window sill, I reckon.”

Is Maya distressed by this or what?

“So….I have to….duel, or be turned into a cactus?”


“But, I’ve never shot a gun.”

Gurdy laughed. “No guns. Go sit at that piano and play your heart out against him,” she motioned to Henry. “Not to scare ya, but he’s won 66 times in a row.”

Who is Henry by the way? I am so lost as to what is going on here.

“Can I play anything?”

I don’t know Maya, can you?

“Sure, challenger’s choice, as long it’s western, darling.” Gurdy winked at Henry.

“You first.” She rang a bell.

Maya whispered, “Thanks, dad,” as she sat on the stool. Silence filled the saloon. All eyes were on her as she lifted her hands over the keys.

Maya’s fingers magically played “The Entertainer” from her dad's favorite movie, “The Sting.” After her lessons, he’d played it over and over. When she’d graduated from songs like “Heart and Soul,” it was the first song she’d perfected.

The saloon erupted into applause, except for Jed who asked for another whiskey and Gurdy who looked over at Henry. Sweat was dripping down his forehead as he started to play.

Within a few measures, Maya felt a whirlwind lift her into the air. She thought she saw a stubby cactus sitting on Henry’s stool Poor Henry as her body was whisked away.

She woke the next morning thinking, What a weird dream.

Maya is the most gormless protag to ever go on a magical adventure ever.

Her manager yelled from the back, “New shipment, Maya.”

Cutting the box open and lifting the flaps--her attention was drawn to one corner. There stood the exact cactus from Jed’s Polaroid. Oh no it’s Jerry!

Maya pursed her lips to whistle, but stopped. She gingerly raised the cactus and put it on a shelf. It’ll look perfect sitting on my piano, she thought, as a poo poo-eating grin swept across her face. Maya’s transformation to smug cactus-owner is completely unjustified. Why does she hate Jerry? Wtf Maya?

If I were judging I’d probably give his a 4/10 but not DM it because I was at least entertained by the bizarre mixture of happenings. There are enough good ingredients here to make a good magical realism yarn, but Maya is a terrible protag. She does nothing and barely even says anything interesting. Oh except she can randomly play the piano (thanks dad). Why would I want to spend time with this character or care about what happens to her? I’d like to see another draft of this where you gave Maya some real motivations and actions and built the story around the relationship between her and Jed.

The Crystal's Chosen by Simply Simon

The bullets buzz past my head in a never-ending This is a boring adjective and doesn’t really help me picture the scene stream. It is worse than the summer seven years ago, Unnecessary comma when I part-timed on a boat in the south, one of the first powered by the magic of diffuser crystals. Of course, the buzzing was mosquitos then. And I might be in more of a pickle now.

This had seemed like a golden opportunity, and I badly needed one. More and more tasks are taken over by diffuser magic What?as smart folks figure out how to control it, and cow herders like me are no longer needed. I can no longer support Bella, and being unable to do right by the most wonderful woman in the whole prairie breaks me in twine. I think you mean twain. Twine is string. She is the best mother my two little ones could ask for, and they are not even her own. God bless her!

Para 2 has been mostly dedicated to Bella, who doesn’t actually matter for this story. You should have spent these words on worldbuilding - i.e. showing us what diffuser magic is and how you use it to herd cows.

So when I heard that the government was stopping their excavation at the diffuser crystal mine just half a day’s ride to the north, I knew I needed to act, and fast. I kissed Bella good-bye and told her tears that they shouldn’t be shed for me. If I were to bite it, she could just take mercy on any other fool like she did with me. And maybe they’d be a bit more useful than I am right now.

I think the relationship with Bella is supposed to be tugging at my heartstrings but I’m not feeling it because you’ve given me no insight into how the protag feels, apart from ok bye.

When I arrived at the mine, I found two horses bound This is the wrong word - it makes them sound like hostages. “Tied up” or “tethered” would have been betterin some precious shade. Someone else had had the brilliant idea to look for leftover diffusers I still don’t know what a diffuser is, squeeze some magic yet out of this rock the bigwigs had deemed useless. But hell, I thought, hid my own ride a little farther and activated the cheap crystal on my belt that was only good for diffusing some light. A mine is big. I’d have to be quite unlucky to even meet those two.

Well, now one of them lies in a puddle a few steps away, and the other keeps pelting the rock I’m stuck behind. I had to read this para twice before I realised that we’ve jumped back to the present. This was a bad choice - you’ve given us a bunch of fairly dull set-up then skipped the action. I got two shots left, and he has all of them. What? Do you mean he has the protag’s gun, or that the protag has shot him? Again, one of his bullets ricochets in a bad way, draws some blood on my leg, and shortly after landing flickers, the diffusion effect takes it and back it goes into his chamber. With infinite magic bullets, he can keep this up forever. My diffuser’s light will give away any movement. WHAT IS A DIFFUSER? Soon, my family’s future dies with my idiot plan, unless Bella can in fact find someone else quickly enough. Cold.

But I don’t want that, do I.

I know what happens when a diffuser crystal breaks – all the magical energy it normally uses for whatever it’s tuned to do has to go somewhere. Fast. That’s the chance I have, slim as it may be. I send a prayer to the Lord above, hold the light crystal as far away as I can, and shoot it. I don’t know what’s going on. Does he shoot the crystal in the sense of shooting a gun, or does he shoot the crystal with his gun?

I do not die instantly, though the light flashing out made me think that for a panicked instant. I hope that the villain’s surprise is worse than mine, jump up, twirl around, and throw. Does he throw the crystal? That he’s just shot??

His surprise was sadly short-lived, and just after the diffuser leaves my hand, a bullet slams into my shoulder and me to the ground. But my throw was true! Not far from my foe, the crystal shatters, and explodes. Okaaaay so he turned the crystal into a magic grenade. I think it get what you mean now.

Light curiously persists even after the dust settles. I lurch towards the fresh hole in the wall, next to which a second body sprawls now. Wait, didn’t the protag just get shot in the shoulder? This is a serious injury… Also he is rather casual about murder.

Behind, the most gigantic diffuser crystal I ever saw floats, and I realize that this is what the government was actually digging for here. Gave up just a bit too early, the lazy paper-pushers. This is a lazy hand-wave towards why the mine was abandoned. An actual reason (some danger, perhaps) would have been more interesting.

Suddenly, a voice chimes in my head.

“Greetings, warrior. Long have I slept under the earth, but now I am ready to grant the Chosen One my power. You will be infused with unimaginable magic, strong enough to topple any king!” This feels like the start of a completely different story to the one we started with, which was about a cowboy and his wife Bella. You probably could have cut everything above and just started here.

“There’s no more kings in God’s own country”, The comma should be inside the quotation marks I say. “What’s the catch?”

The voice hesitates. “Well, this power of course carries with it some responsibility. An ancient evil needs to be brought to…”

“Listen, buddy”, I sigh. “I got two killings to confess already. Didn’t want this fight, don’t want any others. I’m not a warrior. I work cattle!”

I reconsider for a moment.

“Unless you are a messenger from God? Do you need me to fight Satan?” Why on earth would this be a more attractive proposition?

The voice is getting annoyed. “This has nothing to do with God! My power…”

I turn away, crossing myself in haste. “Don’t deal with blasphemers. Have a good day.” Since when was the protag religious? It’s too late in the story to be introducing new motivations.

“Then you leave me no option but to choose a different vessel.”

Something stirs next to me. Damnation! The villain is still alive!

“I’d be happy to accept your powers!”, he grins, getting up with some effort. I try to point my gun at him, but terrible pain stops me. “Now hold up. You can’t give this crook a magic infusion.” Who says this? The villain?

“You will accept it, then?”, the crystal menaces. “Menaces” isn’t the right verb for speech.

“Leave us both alone with your bullcrap!” To me “bullcrap” sounds like the sort of thing people say in situations where it would be rude to swear. Given your protag just killed two people, I think “bullshit” would have been more appropriate.

“Give it to me”, the villain pleads. “I’ll kill your evil, and then rule the world or something! And don’t try to stop me…” He gestures towards me. “You have a bullet in your shoulder. Can’t even move your arm!”

“It is decided”, the crystal chimes, and the light of diffusion surrounds my foe. He is lifted off the floor and starts laughing as magic flows into him…

My final bullet blows his brains all over the crystal. Ew.

“What have you done?”, You don’t need a comma here it shrieks inside me.

“Realized there’s no bullet in me, because that’s back in his gun”, I explain. What? Is this because it’s a magic infinite bullet? That seems like not how you’d want bullets to work... I pick that up Pick what up?and remove the diffusor from it that made his bullets magically return. I place it on the ground and take aim.

“Go back to sleep”, I tell the giant crystal, and cause another explosion to bury it. In no way does this ending resolve, or in fact relate to, where this story started.

Ok my overall comments for this story are very similar to Salgal80’s. You’ve got a bunch of cool and crazy ideas - magic, gun fights, giant talking crystals, cowboys trying to make their way in a broken world by any means necessary - but the story falls flat because the protag and the central relationship of the story are both bland and poorly characterised. I wanted to feel him really struggling for the sake of his wife and family, and to feel what this meant to him. The world also needed to be more clearly explained so I could just sit back and enjoy the magic and whatnot without having to constantly wonder what was going on.

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 CCCXLVII: Suddenly, Everything Has Changed

This is a writing-exercise type prompt I've been thinking about for a while. TD often focuses on action and story momentum, and while those are good things, I'd like to turn them more internal to characters than external this week.

This week, write me a story where little to nothing changes for the protagonist's external status quo, but everything changes for their emotional or mental one. A fruitless task teaches them something crucial to the rest of their lives. Some average day-to-day event, or some bigger story they're on the fringes of, changes them irrevocably. I want to see clear internal development for a character without any external trappings of it.

The only other rule of the week is no death in the story beyond the background level. Background deaths and deaths happening before the story starts are fine, but the protagonist or their loved ones dying is a major change to their external status quo, and if I read even one "protagonist meets a Manic Pixie Dream Person who loves them and dies, leaving them sadder but wiser" story, I will be profoundly displeased. You probably don't want me to be profoundly displeased.

Flash rules are available but will be Flaming Lips songs, because I have a problem.

Standard TD rules apply: no fanfiction, erotica, poetry, political screeds/topical politics, Google docs, quote tags, dick pics, or handwritten dissertations about masturbation. You probably know the score, and if you need to ask, ask.

Word Count: 1500
Signup Deadline: 11:59 PM Pacific, Friday, March 29th
Submission Deadline: 11:59 PM Pacific, Sunday, March 31st

????? SOMEONE ELSE ?????

1. Staggy -- "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate"
2. flerp
3. onsetOutsider -- "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell"
4. Chili -- "Maximum Dream for Evil Knievel"
5. Obliterati
6. Salgal80
7. Thranguy -- "Moth in the Incubator"
8. Djeser :toxx:
9. sebmojo
10. kurona_bright
11. Flesnolk -- "Assassination of the Sun"
12. Fleta McGurn :toxx:
13. Bad Seafood
14. Ceighk

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 07:57 on Apr 1, 2019

Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes

I really shouldn't but in, flash.

Feb 25, 2014

Mr. Steak
May 9, 2013

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS
in flash!

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
In. And Flaming Lips? Hell Yeah! Flash me, please.

Nov 13, 2012

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

Jan 28, 2019

Hopefully for redemption

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.
In and flash.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
it's been a while, here are some crits for week 346


Superficially, I like this piece. The narrator has an ideal amount of swagger, and I really enjoyed the revelation early-ish on that she was a great-grandmother.

I get less enthusiastic the more I think about the actual story, though. The kid shows up at someone else's behest and gets his rear end summarily beat. This piece would've been strengthened if the kid has his own motivation, a more personal stake in whether great-grandma comes home or not. Right now he's a dweeby prop, an excuse for the narrator to show us how badass and IDGAF she is. The thing is, from the outset I know grandma is gonna kick rear end and own bones because her self-confidence speaks for itself. What I want, in light of that, is something that challenges the protagonist's assumptions about themselves, their world, or their great-grandson.

I hate to come down on action sequences on TD because tons of people love reading/writing them, and this is good action. My problem is that it's action leading up to the revelation that badass grandma is badass. The sand thing is cool, I'll give you that, and it was a neat juxtaposition between setting (the riverboat) and character (a sandwitch :v:). I just kept waiting for a change in the dynamic.

Basically, my initial read was pleasant, but the more I ponder, the more it starts to feel like one note being played at a steadily increasing volume.


Holy gently caress I love this story. It would've been my win pick for entirely biased and personal reasons.

The star of this story is of course the worldbuilding. I think Djeser's crit covered that, and he basically said what I was thinking the first time I read this. The co-star of this story is the quiet characterization of the protagonist(s); they/she is sympathic even though she comes across as understandably sinister to the other characters. We don't see a lot of the world of this story—just bits and pieces, really, the barest sketch—but this is a subterranean world where "airstones" are a thing, so I imagine there are significant environmental factors like extreme scarcity and lack of oxygen. In light of that, bonding with some sort of wormy hivemind doesn't seem half-bad; the descriptions of riding inside the worm, gross as that sounds, are soothing and comfortable. Meanwhile, a familiar setting like a bar (complete with surly sheriff) feels hostile and threatening.

Finally, I get the sense that the protagonist could spread the "love" with violence, should she so choose. She handily outmaneuvers the sheriff in their weird biopunk shoot-out and she seems to be able to regenerate; that she chooses to throw the dart into the Sheriff's star and bid her a nice day is telling. Okay, so leaving behind a shipment of mushrooms evidently loaded with eggs to be disseminated among the unwitting populace is a liiiiittle sketch, but...the hive mind is nice! It seems to value its hosts, which is another thing I like about this story.

Overall, good world, good characters, very light touch. Good stuff.


What stood out to me as soon as my eyes started moving across the page is how much you're struggling with the voice. It's alllmost there—I read it with the cadence of a gentleman of especially southern eloquence telling a tale with his thumbs hooked in his suspenders—but suffers from wordiness and awkward phrasing. It's evident in the very first sentence:


Now I don’t find a need to relay to you the entire biography of our hero to the minute detail.

Why not something like I see no need to recount every last detail of our hero's biography or something? This is a mouthful to start with. But before I get too deep in criticizing the voice, I want to point out that the framing device is pretty weak and unnecessary. I guess the end of the story suggests that the Fool is about to roll up on the narrator (that's how i interpreted the sandstorm at the end, anyway) and their audience, but since I don't know who they are, I don't have any particular feelings about the Fool showing up. Point is, this story would've been better had you told the events straight, rather than frame it to a narrator orating to an audience.

I do like how you chose to represent the Fool's Journey, with the Fool violently working his way through the major arcana. I don't think I've seen tarot themes used quite like that before. That said, if you know absolutely nothing about the tarot, the Fool, the Tower, the Lovers, and etc would be utterly meaningless. I know a fair bit about the symbolism, but I'm not entirely sure what was going on with the Fool leaving his teeth-children in the Tower's mouth. It was weird and cool, but I didn't understand the significance. Also, while I can connect your Fool with the archetypal Fool of the tarot, the Tower was disappointingly generic. Like, if you're going to go with tarot symbolism, you're gonna need to emphasize the characteristics of the card to which you're referring; otherwise it's just empty symbolism.

Finally, as pleased as I am to see an alternate take on the Fool's Journey, the Fool doesn't have any clear personal motivations. He's moving through the major arcana because that's what the fool does, and he's having a shootout with the Tower because this is a western-themed week. Nothing in this story feels like it's happening for its own reasons; it's all forced for the sake of the plot, which is very thin indeed.


*sighs in a put-upon fashion*

Nah actually this was pretty decent. It was a hair predictable—rear end in a top hat commander disrespects local spirit, invokes misfortune and death—but I don't get the sense that you were trying to avoid predictable? In this case, it was a trope executed well. Part of that was the dose of regional/cultural conflict you give us; these aren't just random explorers, they're Japanese soldiers killing Chinese civilians. The other thing that made it work for me was the personality of Sakamoto, which is pretty generic for the first part of the story, then grew on me near the end. The most salient, human moment in the story is when he "selfishly" wishes Konishi had not abandoned him by committing seppuku.

I also enjoy the ambiguity of the ending. I'm not totally sold on either outcome; Sakamoto could be dead, or he could be running with the fox babe. I think his death would be the more disappointing ending, but on the other hand, I sort of agree with his confusion near the end—why would the fox spirit and her bandits spare and recruit him? Most of Sakamoto's non-dickishness happens secretly up in his head, since he's afraid to be insubordinate right up until the moment he shoots Okada. It's not like he's doing a Princess Mononoke on anyone. On the other hand, fox spirits are magical beings so I guess it's possible he gets taken on board with raider crew because she detects goodness (or at least, appropriately terrified reverence) in him. But now I'm headcanoning, which isn't really a crit.

Anyway, this is a solid piece that owns its tropes and does some decent character stuff with incredibly faint strokes.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 03:05 on Mar 28, 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

Staggy posted:

I really shouldn't but in, flash.

Chili posted:

In. And Flaming Lips? Hell Yeah! Flash me, please.

Thranguy posted:

In and flash.

Feb 25, 2014

flerp posted:

third outsider brawl

third asked for a horror prompt, so instead, youre going to give me a feel good story where everyone is happy. also, it's about a flower shop

due 3/28 11:59 pm pst

1250 words

per a mutually agreed upon request, deadline is 3/29 11:59pm pst now

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

:toxx: in

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Mar 21, 2013

Apr 11, 2012
In, flash. Can't realistically toxx due to certain demands on my time that might throw a curveball into this whole thing but... I dunno, come up with some fun punishment if I fail. Or I have to brawl you, whichever.

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

Flesnolk posted:

In, flash. Can't realistically toxx due to certain demands on my time that might throw a curveball into this whole thing but... I dunno, come up with some fun punishment if I fail. Or I have to brawl you, whichever.

just do your best, mang, this ain't gotta be weird

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
In :toxx:

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

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

Quick note: I'll be keeping signups open until 11:59 PM Pacific on Saturday, since this week got a late start and there's no harm in keeping the doors open a while longer. Submission deadline remains on Sunday, though.


May 27, 2013

No Hospital Gang, boy
You know that shit a case close
Want him dead, bust his head
All I do is say, "Go"
Drop a opp, drop a thot
In, why not

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