|# ? Apr 20, 2019 01:14|
|# ? Nov 26, 2022 16:15|
|# ? Apr 20, 2019 01:35|
Subs closed,write good little friends
|# ? Apr 20, 2019 09:38|
ThirdEmperor fucked around with this message at 22:59 on Jan 1, 2020
|# ? Apr 21, 2019 13:23|
The Gazebo Effect
Henry frowned at the pizza stall. Its nylon walls flapped derisively back at him in the cold wind coming off the Wanganui river. Henry’s Korg keyboard was heavy in his hands so he laid it on the ground, indecisive. He cleared his throat.
“I should be in your tent,” he said.
“You were late, my friend,” said Giordo the pizza maker. His hair was well coiffed and slick, and his teeth were very white. As he spoke he did not look up, hands busy chopping mushrooms and scattering them over the stretched pale pizza dough.
“Mrs Walmsley from the Market Committee specifically--” Henry had always hated his own voice. He could put up with being called a bloody whinging pom by local oiks, but he’d always had the sneaking sense when talking to people that he was proving the sentiment rather than belying it.
He cleared his throat again, unballed his hands. “She said I could have the tent today.”
Giordo shoved his slender, tanned hand right up to the wrist into his big bag of shredded cheese, pulled it out and sprayed the pizza with an even covering in a single movement. “This is a busy time, ‘mate’, perhaps you should come back later, ‘ay’?” The Kiwi-isms sounded false in his accent, and the glance he flicked Henry as he slid the pizza into the portable brick pizza oven seemed to suggest he knew it.
Henry could feel the heat from the oven. He took an involuntary step back, then another. A wave of shame swept over him and he turned. “I’ll just get a, a coffee.” It was a total defeat, and they both knew it. Throw it on the bloody pile, he thought viciously to himself as he stomped back down the stalls to the coffee cart. The market was busy this morning, the stalls were crowded with customers and rubberneckers. Hone Lightning the guitarist played a chord and adjusted a tuning, smiling at Henry as he passed. Henry didn’t smile back, felt his face curdling as he picked up his cappuccino. “Mind that face love, wind will change and you’ll be stuck with it,” his mother used to say. Maybe that was how it was going to be now? He slumped down gloomily in the rickety folding chair next to a burly bearded man with a crepe.
The next steps, going back to pick up his Korg, taking it back to the car, a self-flagellatory morning and afternoon enumerating his own flaws, stretched drearily out in front of him.
"Are you that musician fella? With the keyboard." It was the crepe-eater, pointing with his pancake. His face was cheery, nose red in the cold morning air. "I liked you a lot last Saturday."
Henry felt his face unfurl. "Yes. I am. My keyboard is, well," he waved down the row of stalls and ran his hand down the front of his bright white jacket. "I'm just having a coffee then I'll start."
The lie came easily, almost reflexively, and as he saw himself in the merrily crinkled eyes it occurred to him that he could do that. He could go and start playing. No matter about the tent. He could just play his tunes. Stuff the Eyetie if he didn’t like it. Finish the coffee first, though, yes. Play it cool. He stood up. “I’ll see you down there in a bit!”
The sun was sparkling as he strolled off down the path, coffee in hand, nodding at a family of Maoris. A man with a denim vest grinned at him from under his sign that said ‘Jewerley and books’. His coffee was warm in his hands. Down the end of the row were two cage trailers, one full of macrocarpa firewood and the other with a gaggle of ducks. He peered in at them and they shuffled back, looking uneasy.
“Great pets,” said a woman with the tie-dyed dress. “Kids love them. And if you get hungry, snikt! Into the pot!” Her eyes had a haunted febrile quality to them. Henry considered the short life ahead of the ducks in the cage, then nodded at her, and drained his coffee.
He could hear music from Hone, some sort of reggae tune, as he strode back down the other aisle of the market, past the lady selling dreamcatchers and papercraft bookmarks. It had a pulse to it, one that matched his purpose and he found himself walking in time, staring straight ahead, envisioning rounding the corner of the pizza tent to set up his keyboard and start playing, just playing drat it. Bloody Italian, coming over here and taking an honest Englishman’s tent. Well he could take the tent but he couldn’t take his--
Henry was just turning over words in his mind, determining exactly what Rubicon it was that demarcated the this-far-but-no-further red line between him and Giordo, when he felt something catch at his foot. It was the guy rope for the tent.
He hopped once on the other foot, trying to disentangle it but was still moving forward, and he lost his balance. Flailing for purchase, he grabbed the flapping nylon of the pizza tent and pulled it down on top of himself with a crackling of supports. He hit something as he fell, something heavy inside the tent, heard a howl. He smelt burning nylon as it draped over the flames in the pizza oven he’d just capsized and caught alight.
Henry heard someone muttering “oh no, oh no,” and realised it was him just as the burning roof of the tent, blown by the cold river wind, came down over his head. He thrashed at it but only succeeded in wrapping another loop of guy rope around his wrist. He was panting, and coughed as he pulled in a gasp of thick black smoke.
The flame was hot and he had a sudden horror of being wrapped in fire, the burning nylon fusing onto him like a flaming mummy. He struggled as the flames licked at his face.
Then strong hands were on him, pulling him out and up, and water was splashing over them, and he was yanked out of the sticky embrace of the burning tent and into the cold fresh river air.
Henry looked around, blinking tears out of his eyes. Giordo’s tent was a ruin, the pizza oven collapsed. The charred remains of the tent were on top of his keyboard, covered in water from the coffee stall. The duck lady was there, peering at him anxiously, next to the denim vest man. Behind the ring of spectators he saw the bearded crepe-eater, looking through the press of bodies. The sky above was a bright, clear blue.
Giordo was still holding him tightly. “Mate, are you ok?”
Henry coughed, then, all of a sudden, felt lighter than he had in a long time and grinned. Giordo’s face was smeared with soot. But they were here. He clasped Giordo’s arm, clapped him on the back, twice, three times. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, I think I am.”
|# ? Apr 21, 2019 14:02|
Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:48 on Jan 1, 2020
|# ? Apr 21, 2019 18:19|
Station of the Nail
Although the sensors told Newcastle he was approaching a moon, the look of it was more of a glorified asteroid –the whole thing might’ve been circumnavigated in under a month. A vein of crackling red iron was visible from orbit; though beautiful, that was the domain of geologists and painters, not pilgrims. Still, Newcastle’s stomach rumbled, the pamphlets had said this was a Station of the Nail, and life-signs blinked on the dash – all of this compelled him to stop. It was only a few hours cruising before he found and set himself down next to the only point of interest on that rock – a ship, crumpled and buried in the dirt, and in front of the rusting frame, a heavy-set man holding in his arms a monitor cast in ivory. Floodlights planted in the rubble lit the scene and stung Newcastle’s eyes as he disembarked.
“What’s your business?” said the man who sat in the rubble. As Newcastle got closer he could see the man’s jumpsuit bore the name ‘Stoke’. He cleared his throat and tugged at his cloak – he hadn’t spoken aloud in a while.
“I am on pilgrimage to see Our Mother. The leaflets said this is a Station. I n-“
“Perhaps the ones you found said that. The Stations are different depending who you listen to.”
“Be that as it may,” Newcastle’s teeth gritted in response to that mild heresy; “I should still learn some lesson from this place, or if nothing else resupply and get on my way.”
Stoke chuckled and loosened his grip on the monitor – screen blank, only reflecting back the harsh light – and quickly looked Newcastle up and down. A heavy cloak concealed much of the pilgrim’s form, and a mat of hair the colour and texture of straw hung from his head. The face was young, perhaps, but had one interesting feature, which perhaps prompted Stoke to snap in response before the pilgrim could get a word in; “You want Our Mother to fix your mouth?”
Newcastle did not come here to be insulted.
“Harelips were the fashion when Pa had me grown.”
“Hrm. And did you ever forgive him for mutilating you?”
“Eventually.” Newcastle huffed. This was more or less true; he and Pa had some sort of reconciliation before Pa had volunteered to join the Governor General on the funeral pyre. Even in bitter times Newcastle could not deny the beauty of how the old men’s skulls had fused in the heat.
Stoke again jumped to conversation, rushing forward with whatever was on his mind. The air seemed more arid with his every breath. “That’s good! It’s good to forgive. I’m a lucky man that my girl here,” he tenderly tapped the edge of the monitor “forgave me a’long ago.”
Newcastle’s attention zigzagged – he wished ill for this heretic, of course, but perhaps he was getting to the lesson.
“In my younger days, I was a bit of a wildcard. Once, I dared my navigational computer here to fly us so close to a black hole you could kiss it!”
Stoke punctuated this moment by raising his bushy eyebrows.
“She was able to break us out of the event horizon fine, but when we crawled out my thoughts were Purple and the computer thought she was God. Now, she’s always singing in this heavenly voice. Don’t it sound beautiful?”
Newcastle did not hear anything. Anecdotes were over. A garrotte appeared in his right hand.
“I am going to loot your ship and take what food I can. You are too boring to barter with. Do not stop me or I will use force.”
Newcastle’s eyes were steel, but Stoke did not cry out or beg or become fearful. He responded jovially; “Go ahead! I don’t think I need to eat anymore. If you want anything else I’ll be sitting right here.”
So it happened that the put-upon pilgrim climbed onto his ship with some dozen canned goods in his arms, and the marooned sailor remained perched on his rock, and as lift-off began he began to duet with the silence of his cradled computer. “…and we stabbed the backs of fathers, sons of dirt…”
Not a total loss.
After the liver and peaches in the tins had been used or gone to waste, and Newcastle almost died when a meteor storm punctured his life support system, and almost died again after eating the spaceborne algae that grew on the warm parts of the engine, he was awoken by the hooting of his navigational computer. His food worries, he thought, might finally be over. A little click and whirr signalled he had crossed the border into the space of the Abattoir Star.
Nine planets orbited a blood sun – Newcastle picked which one to visit on a whim. It didn’t much matter – the surface of each were identically covered by huge slaughterhouses. Whoever founded it was a genius to be sure, since their creation was at such scale to feed the trillions of inhabitants of hundreds of other systems.
According to Newcastle’s leaflet, the Abattoir Star was a Station. Unfortunately, he had subsequently come across another leaflet where it was not. Probably apocryphal, nothing to lose sleep over.
The heat and gore which emanated from the artificial valleys beneath the main dock on Abattoir IIb gave the air a raw, rusted taste. Couriers buzzed from place to place, loading product into chilled cargo bays. The locals moved with a swagger, the bones stitched to their outfits jangling as they went. This strange sight and others were recorded by the many anthropologists who had flocked to the system hoping to figure these people out, but ended up arriving in such numbers that they had come to begin studying each other as well. Newcastle just had to go to the wholesaler.
The queue spiralled around over arches and bridges which crossed the rivers of wastage, and Newcastle’s annoyance only grew as he inched closer to the front – a situation not helped by a woman with no skin on her neck propositioning him, as if he looked enough like the type of savage who would indulge in such mammal behaviour. He reminded himself of how he, as a pious man, would be tested, and in return acted testy when the butcher with skull-fragment horns tried to serve him.
“There’s no need. Please just pick out the stock you’d like and we’ll send it up to your ship.”
The two of them stood on a steel balcony overlooking a herd of perhaps seven hundred, huddled shoulder to shoulder on the warehouse floor. Some picked lice out of each other’s hair, some played in their own muck, but mostly they sat still, cross-legged, waiting for something to happen.
There was a portly one that caught Newcastle’s eye – blue stripes were painted on its belly, and next to each line, a number to grade them, like all the others. Newcastle wondered why they would let something half-blind and all-vacant wear spectacles, like a person would. Either way, plenty of meat on the bones.
“Prepare and package that one and send it to my hold.” Newcastle gestured towards it “and keep the glasses on. I have a crate of flowers on my ship – toxic to me but psychedelic to someone who breathes an atmosphere like this. That should cover payment.”
Back on his ship, Newcastle pored over his leaflets again, cross-referencing them with his maps, looking for meaningful shapes in the routes. The part of his gums exposed by his harelip was becoming irritable, so he tried to calm himself by listening to the intra-radio, which picked up the burning sounds the stars made. ‘Good travels, worthy pilgrim!’ said the noise which crackled and flared out of the vacuum.
|# ? Apr 21, 2019 20:44|
The Price of a Blade
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 05:40 on Dec 30, 2019
|# ? Apr 21, 2019 22:43|
The Weather In The Old Country
I first realised that you were gone – actually gone, not just imprisoned by a curse or sleeping under a hill somewhere – when the coffee overflowed. I was pouring my fourth in between drafts and the last few drops in the cafetière just kept on coming forever, an infinity of gritty liquid spilling over the rim and staining the table a deep earth brown. My world misted over: I took a step back, turned around blindly, and tripped. “God drat it,” I said.
So I filled a flask with your best whisky and gave it a couple fog-soaked months, in case you changed your mind or I managed to get it under control on my own. When neither happened I packed the GPS and the rubber gloves and all the rest, then navigated by satellite through the cold wet soup to Grandad's grave on that breezy hillside near Glasgow. Aye. I found it. Over west is closer to the old country we must have come from, and besides – I knew you wouldn't want to talk about it.
I pulled off the gloves and put them down at his headstone. As soon as my hands came free, they started sparking. Iridescent arcs of energy flowed round my wrists. “Hi, Grandad,” I said. “Sorry it's been so long.” I placed them both on the damp earth, counted to three and tried to get his attention.
The grass began to smoke. I fell back and the breeze rose a little, muffling my curses and snuffling out the fire. Not like that, then. I reached to my waist and grabbed the rowan branch. It had a piece of paper taped to it with my Google Translate notes, and I gave the old tongue another go. “Seanathair, míneofá seo le do thoil an cac?” I had to shout to be heard over the wind. Grandad didn't answer: his patch of old dead earth lay as still as the day they put him there and it was just me, the rippling mist and the grave.
I tossed the branch and it vanished into the fog. Instead I put my left hand in my pocket and let it close around my third and final option: the one lonely bird's egg I found in your attic, the chick inside lost to time. You told me once about when he caught you with some freshly pilfered. He skelped you but, you said laughing, he didn't find them all. It was mine now. And I say that it was a totem, a fetish, whatever, of that time before this mythological gimmick basket came down to you, and something he drat well ought to recognise. I raised it above my head. The wind was roaring now, and the setting sun flickered through the fog. “Please, Grandad,” I said, and crushed the egg.
Dust and bone crumbled through my fingers and were taken by the wind. Then nothing happened. Aw hell. I was this close to just saying drat to it all and taking my final option (I lied about there being three, Dad: I just remember how you liked sets of three). Then came an answer. I felt a low pain in the base of my skull, even worse than that morning's. Then the air lifted me straight up, leaving the fog behind. I blinked in the sharp dusk light for the first time since you went and left me all this fey begorrah business and I'll tell it to you straight – I laughed so hard my ribs hurt. I had the right, you know. I'd pierced the veil without you, reached Grandad, and it was just as I let my whole body relax for the first time in months that I realised I was falling.
I landed on Grandad's grave with a wet thud. “God drat it,” I said. The wind had dropped into nothing, and without it the hillside was silent. I got to my feet. The little ball of mist that had obscured me all that time was still floating where I left it, no more than five foot across. I looked up at the sky and down at the soil and realised: I was alone here.
I reached out with a single finger to touch the mist, to be absolutely sure I was free of it. It was unmoved. I made a fan of my hand and waved it, and as I did the wind rose behind me, ever so softly, and the mist unfurled. “I'll be damned,” I said, as I watched it dissolve into nothing like it never should have been.
I dug the rowan branch out of a bush and returned it to my belt. I opened my hand and looked at the dust stain one last time before brushing it off. Then I reached into my bag and pulled out the final option, the unemptying flask of your whisky. I poured some on the grave – Grandad did always like a wee nip of the good stuff – took one last myself and then screwed it closed. “Thanks anyway, pal,” I said, and I placed it beside his headstone. Just in case. “Guess I'll take it from here.”
So did you see me making an arse of myself? I looked at Grandad's grave one more time and turned back down the hill. Speaking to the dead: not part of the repertoire. I know you'd be laughing. But I looked at the city that was yours and Grandad's and at least I could see it now, her lights flicking on one after another speckled against the darkness.
I took a couple of steps away down the hill. Then I looked at my hands and swore. I doubled back to Grandad's grave and grabbed the gloves and walked back down the hill on a perfectly clear night.
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 04:41|
curlingiron fucked around with this message at 07:58 on Dec 29, 2019
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 05:20|
It was 10:38 PM and Charlie had just caught Avery sneaking out of his bed--for the fifth time after she’d tucked him in--to play Candy Crush on the iPad. Their mother was working the overnight shift at the hospital, and there was no way Avery was going to miss a third day in a row on her watch.
Charlie would make sure of it.
“The electronic tigers come and they curl up on your tablet screen when you’re not playing it,” said Charlie, sitting on the end of her little brother’s bed, her hand spiderwalking across the quilt towards Avery’s leg. “They need sleep. If you get out of bed and play your little games while they’re trying to sleep, they get angry. You know how Mom gets really mad when you wake her up on Saturday mornings?”
Avery nodded, his blanket pulled up to his chin.
“You know how Mom doesn’t have super-sharp claws that shoot lightning and giant metal teeth that spin around like power drills?”
Avery nodded again, pulling the blanket up to his nose.
“Imagine if she did.”
The blanket was now over Avery’s head, and Charlie could hear his panicked breaths. She perched her hand on his tiny chest, all five fingers splayed out, balancing on her long fingernails. She slowly stood up from the bed, and walked over to the door. “Sleep tight, Ave,” she said as the door swung closed. And then there was no light or noise in the room at all, save for the nightlight in the corner, and the glowing green dot on the side of Avery’s iPad, and the noise of Avery’s soft breathing, growing quieter and quieter until he fell asleep.
Then the sounds of soft padding feet, accompanied by sparks flaring to life with every step.
“I’m going to kick her rear end,” said Syrinn, gliding along the hardwood floor, her tail brushing against the frame of Avery’s bed and making a sound like crinkling aluminum foil. “I have a condition. My teeth are normal-sized and they do not spin around, they just swivel because of the dental implants. I’d like to see what her chompers look like--”
“He’s going to hear you,” said Vinix, following behind. “This is the only time we get any chance to rest, and you’re going to spend it obsessing over orthodontia?”
“I’m just saying, if she wants to find out exactly what I can do with my teeth…” Syrinn let the thought trail off into nothingness. She padded over to the plugged-in tablet, the underside of her coat sizzling with electricity, dangling frayed wires that burned with orange energy.
“Cyber-toothed tiger,” Vinix muttered under his breath.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“Do you mind?” said the nightlight. “I’m trying to concentrate.”
“We weren’t talking to you,” said Syrinn, tilting her head back. “What do you need to concentrate on, anyway?”
“I’m concentrating on not unplugging myself because I have to listen to you idiots and your inane conversations,” said the nightlight. “All the interaction I have every single day is watching the loving indoor kid sit in his corner and play games on the tablet until his shitbag sister comes in and tortures him. And then I have to listen to you scaredy-cats talk real big about eating them both and then back out. Every single time--”
“I could totally eat them if I wanted to,” said Syrinn.
“Sure you could.”
The handheld game under the dresser yawned, then sneezed, a thin layer of dust coating its dormant screen. “At least you still have a gig.”
“Yeah, until the little fucker realizes there’s no monsters under his bed,” the nightlight shot back. “Then I’m lying in the dumpster next to that prolapsed robot rear end in a top hat his parents tried to pass off as a toy five years ago.”
“Hey!” said a muffled voice from Avery’s toybox.
“Shut up, Slinky,” said the nightlight. “The adults are talking.”
“You think it’s been fun lying here for who knows how long?” said the handheld game. “I wish one of them would go to sleep on me instead, at least it would be something different.”
“No thanks,” said Vinix. “Batteries creep me out.”
“Same,” said Syrinn. “Why would I go back to a twin bed, anyway? Phones suck. You get maybe an hour of sleep and that’s it.”
“Yeah, because you’re used to the World’s Fastest Texter down the hall,” said the nightlight. “You should’ve eaten her while she was having late-night conversations with her dumb boyfriend. Snoozing on Black Mirror over there made you soft.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, did you say something?,” said the iPad. “I wasn’t paying attention, I was too busy winning.”
“Shut your iHole,” said the nightlight.
There was silence, again. Vinix used his hind leg to scratch his ear, electricity arcing from his claws.
“Why don’t you go eat her right now?” said the nightlight. “Then me and the kid can move into her room.”
“Maybe I will,” said Syrinn.
“I’m going to.”
“Fine,” said Syrinn, padding towards the door and nudging it open with her head, her tail whipping from side to side, showering orange sparks.
Vinix listened to her walk down the hall towards Charlie’s room. “She wouldn’t,” he said.
“She better,” the nightlight said, staring at the open door.
“Nah,” said Vinix. “Eating before bed gives you weird dreams.”
“What do you guys even dream about?” said the nightlight.
“Electric sheep,” said Vinix. “They taste delicious.”
A high-pitched yowl echoed down the hall, followed by the sound of scampering.
Syrinn burst through the door, her fur crackling and standing on end. “I’m not going near that thing again.”
The nightlight cackled. “You’re scared of a bed? I thought you liked beds.”
“A waterbed?” said Syrinn, shuddering. “I hate water.”
“Me too,” said Vinix, a scared look on his face.
“Same here,” said the handheld game.
“Yikes,” said the iPad.
The nightlight tsk-tsked. “You guys.”
“Fine, then,” said Syrinn, “you go in there.”
“I totally will.”
“As soon as my condition clears up.”
“I’m stuck to the wall, dingus.”
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 05:22|
A Higher Need
When a three-foot-tall pink bear with a large white gemstone embedded in its torso and the face of an old man walked into Rodrigo's bar, he was a bit taken aback. But then his hospitality instinct kicked in, and besides, it was a slow day.
"That a costume?" He asked. Stupid. Of course it was a costume.
It was not a costume, but he didn't notice.
The bear said its name was Teddie, and described its past in a high-pitched, singsong voice. Somehow, Rodrigo was able to listen without hating it. The creature told how it had lived for decades in an invisible crystal dome on the shadowed side of a mountain, until it shattered into a million pieces when it was struck by the first light of dawn today, and how all of its denizens were released into their—his—world.
"No poo poo," Rodrigo said, not really paying attention. He was keeping one eye on the score on the TV above the bar. "Can, uh... can I get you something?"
Teddie asked only to be directed to the local security establishment. Rodrigo gave the bear directions to the nearest police stations. He hardly noticed as it walked back outside, just as it was starting to rain. His mind had already moved on to preparing for the evening rush.
"Weirdo," he said, polishing a glass, as he watched the game.
Detective Cynthia Robinson was working on a new high score when Teddie's voice piped up from beneath the counter.
"What?" Cynthia jumped and nearly dropped her phone. She couldn't see anyone. She leaned over and caught sight of the fuzzy pink fur, starting to get a bit grimy on its lower half.
Help, Teddie said, raising his wide hands in supplication. I understand this as a place to go to seek security.
"Why is that, little... girl?" Cynthia leaned forward wildly in her chair, hands splayed across the counter, just able to see the creature's face wrinkle in confusion like it was a solid sheet of rubber. "Has someone threatened you? Are you hurt?"
Not yet, Teddie said, but they will. For his people, were scattered at the border between light and dark, brought to this realm against their will, and afraid to come forward for their ways were strange to the people here. They had sent him as their envoy, to seek sanctuary and the protection of the law.
"Oh, no," Cynthia said, and stood up from the counter. She picked up her phone again. "That's immigration policy." Her eyes went dull as she swiped across the surface of the phone, then started tapping. "Y'know, you shouldn't even mention that to half the guys in here." She waved one hand vaguely behind her, to a pair of closed white doors beside the front desk. "Anyway, take it up with City Hall." She gave directions there and sat back in her chair.
Only the CCTV saw Teddie thank her and trudge back outside into the rain.
Spaulding, deputy assistant to Mayor Campbell, was between calls to make the day's lunch order when the door edged open and a pink furry face poked through. Teddie's fur was starting to mat, spattered brown and black with the grime of construction outside.
Spaulding only looked up a second as the visitor walked in. He hated protestors. And of course this one was barefoot. Of course he was. "You separated from your group?" he asked absently, flicking through his address book.
Yes, Teddie began.
"Your animal rights group is meeting with the City Council in the East Wing," he said, without looking up. "Also, you should take off your mask in here. Security doesn't like it. They'll probably throw you out if they see you wearing that thing inside."
No, I'm here to speak to the mayor, Teddie said. He started to explain his people's situation, but Spaulding cut him off.
"Oh, that right?" He had raised his phone to his ear. "Well, you need to set up an appointment and pick a day to come back. I don't think she has the time this week—"
The mayor's door opened beside him. "Don't have time for what, Rick?" The woman in the dark suit and eyeglasses stepped out and saw the creature standing in the middle of her rug, still dripping from the road.
Teddie spoke up, explaining that he needed to talk to the mayor about his people.
"Your people live around here?" Campbell asked.
For the moment, Teddie said. But they fear for their lives and worry about what is to come.
"Walk with me," Campbell said. "I have three minutes to get to the hearing."
Teddie practically had to run beside her to keep pace with the mayor's long stride as they walked through the halls. He tried to explain the situation with the other creatures.
"Immigrant community, recent arrivals, lost and fearful of the greater society. That about cover it?"
Teddie asked for help from the local rulership.
"And you want my office to help?" Campbell shook her head, glanced down at him, then turned her eyes straight ahead again. "I want to help my constituents, but... You know there are additional resources to tap at the local level to help ease the transition? They should have gotten these details when they went through the process to become legal immigrants."
But they lack such status, Teddie said. And they beseech your rulership for a sanctuary.
"Asylum?" Campbell stopped. She spoke slowly, for once, choosing her words carefully. "Then I think the best thing would be for them to come out of the shadows and meet with the authorities."
And we will be safe, treated properly? Teddie asked. I have you word?
"You do. What's your name?" Campbell gazed at the dark hardwood double doors in front of them. "Nice to meet you, Teddie. Well, this is my next meeting." She looked at his grimy paw and decided not to offer a shake. "Oh, and don't wear the animal costume next time. It kind of freaks people out, you know?"
Campbell opened the door and stepped inside. "All right, gentlemen," she said, and the doors closed behind her.
Teddie stumbled back up the last stretch of the mountain slope. He collapsed on a large flat rock beside the path, breathing heavily, his long flat feet sticking up like trees.
A giant wooden horse with wheels for legs rolled cautiously forward, looking down at Teddie. Teddie opened his eyes to see other faces peering out from the dark cliff's edge. Nervous hisses and creaks came from the cleft of rock.
Is it safe? Horse asked.
Yes, Teddie said. The people are ready for us. Then he sat up and climbed on the back of the horse, to lead the exodus down the mountain.
The people were not ready for them.
Onslaught of Toys, read one headline.
Demon Toys from Hell Invade Anchorage, read another, more romantic publication.
The news networks didn't cover what had happened, at first, thinking it was a hoax. By the time they realized the truth and sent crews up there, it was a phenomenon.
The meme potential was unparalleled, and the internet was the first place to embrace the new population of living toys. People began to make Alaskan pilgrimages to take photos with indignant toys and share them with an eager crowd back home.
I hate this, said the oversized Slip 'n Slide after the fourth greased overweight tourist slid down his length that day. Isn't there anything we can do about this?
I have a three-movie deal worth millions, Teddie said, revving the engine, and new digs to hang in in LA and Miami. You're on your own. Then he closed his convertible top and sped away.
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 07:02|
At Rainbow’s End
This story edited out of the thread for search engine anonymity reasons.
You can read it on the TD archive though!
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 04:49 on Dec 30, 2019
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 07:02|
Gene would have wanted you to have this as your own flash rule crabrock
In the Tube
I walk along the stretch of highway toward my job at the warehouse, my thumb outstretched hoping for a pickup. Cars and trucks rattle, clank, and whir past me, and each time I have to hold my bandana closer to my face so I don’t breathe in more of the aerosolized plastics they stir up. The scent of charred death still leaks through, no matter how tightly I press the cloth to my face. After the cars ignore me and disappear into the haze I wipe my goggles clean and continue my trek on foot.
Getting to work is the best part of my day. I can’t afford to filter the air in my apartment often, but the office air is cool and clean. Even standing next to the ovens the stench isn’t as bad; the hot air of burning bodies is sucked out the chimneys so we don’t have to smell it.
There are two truths. Everybody dies. Everybody burns.
Then Oscar unveiled the tube.
They banned the video, but once something’s on the net, it never goes away, not if you know where to look. Julio and I crouched near the watercooler hunched over his phone.
“I had to pay $35 to get this, man,” said Julio. “They’ve driven it fuckin’ deep.”
I nodded. “They don’t want anybody to know about it. It’s too big.”
We’d watched the video when it was on the public servers, but it felt distant and hard to grasp. Trying to remember what Oscar had said was like trying to impute dialog in a dream.
We watched the video again, soaking in the words of its raconteur as he regaled us with his invention. He called it the tube, and it sought to upset the two truths. Instead of burning, you entered the tube. Instead of vanishing, you persisted. Forever. We watched the video three more times, trying to discover hidden clues in his short speech.
Julio spoke without stopping to breathe: “I’m going to put all my money in a bank account, and then get a tube and get out in like, a thousand years when I’ll be rich.”
“You’ll probably have to already be rich to even get a tube.”
“drat, you’re right.”
We could feel the nostrum slip from our grasp before we’d even had time to finish our fantasies. We both walked to the breakroom table and slumped into the chairs.
I wracked my brain for anything to hold onto that feeling, but it proved ephemeral. “They’ll never let people like us near a tube.”
“But then why did Oscar give the video to the net,” said Julio. His eyes jumped to life. “And why are they trying to hard to keep us from seeing it?”
He had a point. The clock beeped its three minute warning, and we giddily donned our respirators and face masks before heading back to the incinerators. Oscar had promised more details before the end of the work day and with everybody watching there was no way they’d be able to scrub the net fast enough.
I remember the first time I saw a tube. It’s one of those things that once you see it, you can suddenly never remember a time when you didn’t know what one was. It perfuses your brain and seeps into every memory, every fleeting thought you’d ever had. You remember wanting a tube for your fifth birthday even though that was impossible.
It was the weakest of us who were granted the first tubes. Oscar subverted the oligarchs, the titans, the magnates of every industry and rejected them. And we loved him for it. His name was spray painted on the sides of buildings, praied in college revolutionaries’ op eds, and muttered by every downtrodden soul in the world. They couldn’t stem the tide of interest, and Oscar grew bolder. He revealed himself to the world when he was untouchable. There wasn’t a single soldier who would fire on him if ordered.
I remember the first time I saw a tube. It was on the stage next to him in the square, illuminated by the giant signs that hung above it, ineffectively informing us that the tube was treason. The police had even barricaded the streets so that the throngs of people could filter into the square through its odd angles.
The tube was made out of wood, polished so that it shined back a warbled reflection. It sported six metal handles, and could easily fit a full-grown man. If not for the phalanx of police protecting him, each one of us would have trampled the other to crawl into the tube.
The priority was to get the oldest people into the tubes first. They had less time remaining, and the young waited patiently for their opportunity. But the world kept making old people, it seemed that for every old person to get a tube, another took their place in the queue.
I woke up every morning to check my position. It started at 8,504,567,112.
We all agreed though, in the social contract that had grown untended and organically between the people of the world, that this was fair. Oscar promised to get everybody into a tube. The more tubes he sold, the more he could make, and the faster our numbers would plummet to 0.
There was new truths. Nobody burned. Everybody would get a tube.
Murder took on a new, more sinister facet. Those who murdered deprived the body of the tube. Anybody who died before was burned, as it always had been. Oscar didn’t believe in retribution, though. He would not exclude anybody their chance to get in the tube. He said it was a matter of human rights. He moved them to the end of the queue. Some of them killed themselves at the news.
We came up with a new set of laws and punishments. Imprisonment, monetary fines, public shaming, all were obsolete in our new system. Simply move them down further in the queue. People picked up litter in the streets, gave to charity. Stories trickled back to Oscar, and he rewarded them by moving them up in the queue.
I changed. We all changed. I went to mass on Sundays, though I no longer feared death. I donated to missions to spread the word of the tube, though I had little money. It was Oscar I feared, and his omnipotent control of the queue. He was righteous and just, and I loved him unconditionally.
If Oscar had told me to march into battle, I would have.
Q. Can my dog go into a tube?
A. Unfortunately, pets are not able to join us in the tube. Love your furry companion while you can, because he/she deserves it all, but sadly tubes are incompatible with tube technology.
Q. Will it be boring?
A. The powerful's most basic strategy is to make us believe that death brings fulfillment. However, in reality, death robs us of fulfillment. It’s death’s emptiness that leads us to boredom. To be in the tube will be the very opposite of boredom.
Q. Does it hurt?
I woke up and my shaking hand reached over to my phone. I turned on the screen. #96. I was to report to the tube facility at my leisure. I summoned my nurse.
She buttoned my shirt and brought over the box I’d kept at the top of my closet for this day. She opened it and pulled out the bowtie I’d been saving. My late wife had given it to me when we’d first started dating, after we learned our queue numbers were only a few hundred thousand apart. I had missed her in these last few months, and seeing the gift brought tears to my eyes. I smiled at myself in the mirror, and tucked the picture of her into my pocket.
The crane gently lowered me into the tube’s white, padded interior. My body tingled with excitement and I felt I might be sick from joy. My grandchildren waved to me from the viewing room, and I waved back and then laid my head on the soft pillow. The technicians asked if I was ready, and after I nodded they closed the lid. I closed my eyes, ready for my forever in the tube.
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 07:13|
in, flash, and
Making another post to include the flash rule.
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 09:04|
Oh yeah here's mine
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 09:21|
Calling the Meat
You have the stink of imagination, child.
You see the acid river, and you picture it coursing with water.
You walk the salt flats, and your feet don’t feel the cut, but something strange and good.
You imagine that the Bleak wasn’t always so.
You don’t tell your tribe. You’ve learnt that they don’t like the stories you make in your heart.
Your people—are you of the Acrid Fields? No, your veins aren’t so black.
How many fingers do you have? Ten. Yes. Very good. Not of the Unseen Fire.
Come closer. Let me see your eyes. Look at the light. Ah, there—the edge of a cumulus. A child of the Screaming Light, then.
I am right?
I’ve been to the searing glass of your home.
Do you miss your fathers? It’s alright—cry for them. But only today. Tomorrow your tears must be invested.
Do you know what I am? Yes. That’s right.
The Bleak is harsh. We would not survive here without the leviathans.
They make gifts of their bodies, so that we may live. They give us their flesh. They are kind. Yes. Very kind.
I call them to the Bleak. I call the meat to the people.
You will learn how. I will educate you.
You will make your fathers proud. So wipe your tears.
The first lesson is a word.
Syncretosis. Syn-cre-to—that's right. Very good. What it means?
That’s the second lesson.
What was that?
A memory. Age has made me scattered.
What is this place? Where are my believers?
Tell me you name.
All know my name.
Yes. Yorsul, Lion-that-mounts-the-Sun. God of dawn and song. Hello. Forgive me.
The Washer checks her goggles yet again, careful not to let any light bleed in except through the slits.
The blinding white of the salt flat stretches endlessly around her. She has a good vantage point from her cliff, one of a gnawed-through scattering that juts from the dead surface.
Far away across the flat, her hunting party waits. It’s a formidable gathering—eight hooks, each a dozen men and women. And two smaller teams, the acids. Her own innovation.
The party wait in the shade of a hundred slanted black pillars, the result of weeks-long toiling. The final set of the monolithic chain runners was driven into the ground only a few days ago.
Final preparations. For the hunt that began years ago—on the augury of the Meat-Caller.
He sits cross-legged and stooping under a shelf, upturned hands resting on knees. He hasn’t moved or uttered a word for a week. The red-dyed leviathan hide of his vestment has burnt into the Washer’s periphery.
It takes a while before the slow stirring registers.
But then the Washer is squatting by the Meat-Caller’s side. His cataract eyes open into silver slivers. He's distant, frail. “It comes.”
The Washer searches the pale sky for the tell-tale bruising. “Where?”
The Washer is an old hand, but her excitement is fresh. In a way it’s a virgin hunt, as one leviathan is never like the other.
“Hooks!” she yells. “At the ready!”
The flaggers relay her command, flashing red and blue hides across the white desolation.
The salt flat eats the clamor. The Washer can’t hear the hook leaders’ barks, but she smiles when she sees the hunting party scramble into position.
The hooks tighten the sinew of their winch-ballistae. They load the harpoons and connect the chains, running them through nearby pillars.
The Washer sees it now.
Strange color begins to bleed into out of a point in the pale sky.
The blemish grows. Doesn’t stop.
The Washer turns to the Meat-Caller. “What have you brought us, old man?”
They will be stretched thin. “Hooks One and Two, Five and Six. Relocate. One hundred-and-twenty paces, sou’-sou’-west. Retain spread.”
The bruise inflames.
Something awe-inspiring spills forth.
The Washer tries to close her mind to it.
She tries not to see the trench-rending claws—or the outwards-curving fangs, around the base of one you could put ten men and their fingers would strain to touch.
She tries not to estimate whether the entirety of her hunting party might fit inside the leviathan’s blood-red muzzle.
She focuses instead at its fur, at the golden tufts that dance in the air like flames.
“Look at that pelt,” she says. She whistles. “Beautiful.”
The leviathan doesn’t rouse. The embers in its eyes are subdued—still locked in the Meat-Caller’s conversation, then.
“Acids!” she yells at the nearest flagger, snapping the girl from dread wonderment. “Tell ‘em to prepare all they got. And to keep the distance until we’ve brought it low.”
The Washer’s eye stings when a trickle of sweat snakes into her salt goggles. “Hooks Five and Six. Train on its throat.”
Pain. My people are pulling you down from the sky.
But I am a god.
You’re in the Bleak. In our world the metaphysical is made profane.
I don’t understand. But I know—that this is blasphemy. My worshippers are here. I felt their call, a thousand thousand, they will smite—
There is only me. I imagined their voices and bled them into the aether. Forgive me.
The sacrifices. The hearts of a hundred oxen. The splendor of the choirs—
My master taught me syncretosis. I divine the ways of worship, and I fashion them into lures.
Why do you do this?
For my people.
I hear them rejoicing, but they don’t call my name.
They’re celebrating the meat. You're not a god to them. You’re a leviathan. They will never know what you truly are. They suffer enough.
Our world was orphaned. Yet the Bleak survives—we survive. In a sense. Perhaps your children will become like us.
No. I will wake.
Perhaps. I hope so.
The leviathan's embers rekindle.
The harpoons are lodged deep. Cascades of blood inundate the thirsty salt as the leviathan shakes.
A chained pillar comes loose. It whips across the mess, dragging the still-attached winch-ballistae. Two hooks are lost, swept away in a shower of shrapnel and viscera.
“Pull!” the Washer shouts. “Pull, you loving dust-eaters!”
“They burn,” the Meat-Caller says. “In Yorsul’s sacred fire.”
“Yor—?” The Washer narrows her slits—sees a faint blue fire shrouding her people. They’re writhing in the sloppy salt, trying do douse themselves in the leviathan’s blood.
“poo poo.” The Washer hopes they’ll reach. “Acids!”
But I am a god.
A god is not so big.
I don't want to not be.
I understand. Forgive me.
No. I curse you.
You always do.
The Meat-Caller is lead slowly through the busy work. His bones are stiff, his heart—
He smells the power of the acids—the ruin of divine fur and mortal flesh.
The Washer sounds satisfied. Half of the leviathan’s mighty head dissolved in the acid shower, and is now fusing with the salt. But most of its meat reamins unspoiled.
The Meat-Caller listens to the mourning, to the monotonous recital of names and deeds. He doesn’t reproach the spilling of tears, nor does he wish he could join.
He listens to the living, to the cries of the wounded and the rejoicing. He listens to cripples and heroes that were made today.
The Meat-Carver is brought to the edge of the leviathan. The smell of burnt fur and flesh, the wet tearing of the flayers working their way through pillar-thick layers, the blasphemy—it’s overwhelming.
Further away great pits are being dug. They’ll rend the leviathan’s fats. They’ll clean the bones, carve out the teeth. Fashion tools. New ballistae.
The Meat-Caller wishes to leave. But he halts the procession when he hears the children streaming into the hunting party from the refuge of the ashen cliffs.
They’ll live in the rot of the leviathan. He smiles at their excitement, at their childish arguments.
“I saw something,” a girl says. “I saw something in its eye.”
The boy sounds doubtful. “Really? What?”
“I saw a sky. A sky of fire.”
“Liar. You're stupid,” the boy says and runs off.
“But it’s true,” the seeing girl whispers petulantly.
“Child,” the Meat-Caller says. “Come.”
He squats, old joints clicking painfully. “I smell something on you.”
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 09:27|
And that's the sound of Terminus Est and its liquid core of hydragyrum slamming down into the soft wood of the headsman's block.
Results to come in a day or so.
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 09:56|
someone poop out an interprompt
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 12:48|
Interprompt: Running on fumes
Some number of words.
|# ? Apr 22, 2019 13:37|
|# ? Apr 23, 2019 01:40|
Interprompt: Running on fumes
"I wrote this on my phone and didn't check" words
There are two kinds of tourists: amused and angry. The first kind reads out your nametag, says it in their best Guido voice: "eyyyyy, Joey!" You're a punchline, a stereotype in your dancing-monkey gas-pumper uniform, a part of their New Jersey Vacation Experience. They're half right. You and your people are local -- have been for longer than they'll ever know.
The angry tourists are more tolerable, because they're closer to understanding, even if by accident. They know you're taking away their power, their autonomy, the sense of mastery over their own cars. They can pump their own drat gas, and you know it, and they know you know. They seethe, and you breathe, slow and calm, ready for an explosion.
You keep up that rhythm, slow calm inhale and exhale, whether they scream themselves red at you or sit in silence or make jokes. They all think you're slow; who else would take this job? You're on deferred admission to NYU -- but first, you have to put in your time at the pump. All your people do.
You inhale, and you feel the gas fumes as much as you smell and taste them. They settle into your lungs, leak their power into your blood. For any people but yours, it's slow cancer. For your people, it's coming of age.
At night, you can feel the fumes doing their work: organs of transformation growing, new hormones ramping up. This summer, you're a gas monkey. Soon, you'll be a Devil, and you'll own the night.
|# ? Apr 23, 2019 01:50|
Interprompt: Running on fumes
Just Beneath the Skin
God, she’s tired. She’s so tired that she doesn’t remember a day when sounds were crisp and numbers made sense. At work, all the spreadsheets had seemed to wiggle and waver, their columns blurring into one another. Numbers transposed themselves into orders that made no sense. Her inbox will be full of corrections in the morning.
Tempting as it was to curl up in bed as soon as she was home, stepping out of the sterile office air and into her damp, muggy apartment set the itching off again.
First she thought it was dry skin. Then maybe she wondered if it was the climate control system. Further still down the line, she grew convinced that whatever cleaning agents her building used were reacting with her skin.
As soon as she steps through the door, everything itches. She drops her bags on the floor and hurries to her dresser, slips on one of the pairs of scratchy woolen gloves that teem in the upmost drawer.
She slips the gloves onto her hands. She scratches, chasing away the itching, fabric-blunted fingernails no longer capable of shredding skin.
Through the news, through a basketball game, through a couple reruns of stuff she used to be able to pay attention to, she scratches. She scratches til everything is raw and red, the skin of her arms and legs prickled with irritation in spite of the gloves. The old scabs on her shins have mostly healed over, and she’s careful not to peel them off, but the edges of the wounds are angry with infection and that just makes the itching worse.
Maybe it’s mites. Maybe if it isn’t on her skin, it’s in it. Or under it. Her mind races to thoughts of cutlery drawers and steel-wool scrubbers, and before she knows it, the TV’s been talking at her for ten minutes and she hasn’t heard a word it’s said.
She pops a Benadryl, hopes it’s enough to keep the kitchen-drawer compulsions at bay.
Another restless night, skin afire with the crawling, prickling sensation of something terrible seething just beneath it. Another night where every cell in her body screams to dig it out, to scratch it off, to peel it away before it burrows further in and kills her.
The digital clock strobes 4:00 in pale, soothing blue across the bedroom wall.
In the morning, she’ll shower under skin-scorching water and slather her arms with moisturiser. She’ll drive to work with no memory of having driven. She’ll watch letters and numbers wobble the screen.
How many nights can a brain go without sleep?
How many licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
How deep can you scratch before you hit bone?
|# ? Apr 23, 2019 06:02|
WEEK CCCL judgment
This was a potent week, as befits one dedicated to the inventor of Pringlestm: once we popped we could not, in fact, stop.
Only one story did not meet the standard of its peers and was therefore condemned to the excruciation of the two apricots: Fuschia Tude, with a clumsy toy-related immigration metaphor. My man Gene didn't roll with no clumsy toy-related immigration metaphors let me tell you, or at least if he had he would have done it better.
Judges all liked Crabrocks weirdly low affect tube immortality yarn, which manages a very Wolfean style like one of his shorts (cf. Forlesen), and I liked Djesers tripartite sword tale enough to quell my judges dissenting voices. HMs for them.
As for a winner, well ultimately we are all losers in this cyclical eternity of birth and rebirth, but Thranguy managed to square the Wolfean circle with rich imagery, nasty but interesting characters and a complex ambiguity in overall affect.
Take the blood throne, don't mind the crumbs.
|# ? Apr 23, 2019 21:42|
Steel-toed Yoruchi Brawl
Help the Aged
Mike recognised the uneven stomps crossing the saloon floor behind him before Geoff even got a word out.
Geoff had a loving clumpy peg leg. It wasn’t even a peg really, more of a pyramid at this point. Geoff had never been much of a carpenter, so it was just layer upon layer of timber offcuts, bits of broken furniture - anything, so long as it added a general sense of stability.
“One last job, huh? I told them, Mike, I’m retired. Not happening.”
“What kinda job you think you’re going to pull on that thing, old man?” Mike nodded at the mass of wood and screws where Geoff’s lower leg should have been.
“Mikey, I’m out. I gotta life here now.”
Mike didn’t have a job for him. He thumbed the cracked glass, exploring the spiderweb fissures that mapped a small world of tributaries and rivulets across the surface. Mike was tired, and right now, all he wanted to do was fall into the deep amber pool at the bottom of everything.
Geoff bled through the bed of white noise that Mike fought to sink into. Smile and nod, and he’d tire himself out - not today though. He was relentless. Three pints later and Geoff was still there talking himself out of and into an hypothetical heist.
“Look, there’s no job alright? Can you.. I want to have me drink in peace ‘kay?”
Geoff tapped his nose and winked “No job. Gotcha.” He creaked verbally, as he pushed himself up from the bar onto his feet. “Listen, I gotta take a wicked piss. Don’t go nowhere.”
Mike leapt into action, grabbed his coat and bag and flung some cash at the barkeep. At least, that’s how he meant it to play out. He had to wait a minute for his knee to stop seizing, and he couldn’t bring himself to just throw good money at folks.
Mike was by the door when Geoff emerged from the washroom, struggling to pull his belt tight across a burgeoning waistline.
“Mate! Hold yer horses. I’ve been thinking about how we can make this wo-”
Mike was already out and limp-walking as fast as his busted joints would carry him up main street.
This was why he kept to the homestead; too many people in towns, too many words. He kept his pace as shopfronts turned to houses turned to open fields along the short, small-town thoroughfare.
Geoff was 100 yards back, yelling occasionally after him, but mainly red-faced and focussed on keeping up. The late afternoon sun beat low and hot across both their backs. Sweat beading across both furrowed brows as they continued their low speed pursuit.
Mike saw the cornfield up ahead. Rows of maize stalks beckoning, a green ocean awash with promise of respite and rest. He clambered over a short fence, trying to catch his foot on one of the rails at the butt joint and instead landing hard and sending shockwaves up his dodgy knee. He croaked out a groan, spat, and lumbered into vegetation.
Mike heard Geoff calling from the roadside, knew that the hodge-podge prosthesis would keep him on the other side of the fence. He wandered further, letting the rush and murmur of the leaves drown the rest of the world out, and lay down.
Mike gazed up at the blue-pink sky, coat bundled under his head and bag under his feet. He crossed his hands over his stomach, trying to remember the last time he’d slept in the open, trying to remember when his tum started to soften.
Mike was, frankly, too old for this poo poo. Life on the road was a young man’s game. His thoughts rounded on Geoff, incredulous at the other man’s enthusiasm for one final job. Most of the crew was either dead or couldn’t walk five yards without something falling off.
Mike mentally ticked off names of the old gang, slow realisation dawning that he and Geoff really were the last two. And here Mike was hiding from him in some cornfield in the middle of God-knows-where. He’d run from him, why? Because he couldn’t handle the slow burbling anxiety of a couple beers with an old colleague?
Geoff had always been the butt of jokes, but he gave as good as he got and always did it with a smile. Geoff didn’t deserve to be abandoned on an old dirt road by one of his last ties to the good old days. By one of his friends.
Mike rolled onto his side and sobbed. Cried his shame, his loneliness, cried for the lifetime of damage his coping mechanisms caused him and the people he cared about.
Mike woke, cheeks covered in a thin crust of salt and mouth full of cotton. Rays of morning sun poked their between the cornrows.
Mike rolled onto his front and propped himself up onto all fours, then three, then a couple of combinations of “three” as he tried to get to his feet. The cold night air had seeped into his joints, his knee throbbed and his legs wouldn’t straighten properly.
It was late morning by the time Mike found his way back to the Saloon. He got an odd look from the barkeep, somewhere between sympathy and a ten-foot-pole. He ignored it and ordered breakfast.
He found a table near the door, planted his bag in the middle, and slung his coat over the seat. He sat in the fuzz of hangover and guilty introspection, picking at his food once it came, then nursing a cigarette as he tried to regrow his resolve.
He pulled a notebook out of his bag, and retrieved a piece of paper from inside the back cover. Geoff’s name, directions to the saloon, and a dollar amount arced across the crisp white sheet in tumbling cursive.
Mike sighed, and pressed the glowing butt of cigarette into it. He let the sheet take the flame, and then dropped the whole embering mess into the ashtray.
|# ? Apr 23, 2019 22:47|
Butts Brawl entry
Hunters and Gamblers
Maxime Livio, bloodhound and bounty hunter for the Bureau of Unauthorised Time Travel, had just bet his last dollar on the auspiciously named Max’s Pride when he caught the unmistakable scent of a temporal rift. Maxime grinned. It was coming from two hours in the future, and heading right for him.
The crowd roared as the space-horses flew, propelled through the air by their powerful tails, down the holo-track’s home straight. Max’s Pride was stuck mid-pack against the inside rail. Maxime tsk’d, and turned his attention away from the race. Two rows in front of him a square foot of air split open like the skin of an overripe tomato. The jumper wriggled through the slit and then sealed the gate with a stroke of its palm. Snub-nosed and about 3 feet tall, it straightened its robe and waved a skinny arm to signal one of the circulating gambots.
Maxime’s jowls quivered with excitement. He’d known there was no way the jumpers could resist Neo-Melbourne Cup Day. Little buggers loved to cheat at the races. It had its back to him, concentrating on inputting its bets into the hovering gambot. Blue Supernova cross the finish line with a space-horse length to spare, the roar of the crowd reached a crescendo and Maxime launched himself over the seats, drool flying from his jowls.
Maxime was almost upon the jumper when it saw him. Its black eyes went wide with shock, then it grasped the gambot and threw itself off the edge of the stands. Maxime careened empty-mouthed into the railing. Standing on the descending gambot, the jumper lifted the back of its robe and slapped one green-skinned butt cheek at Maxime, before disappearing into the service area below the track.
Maxime bayed in frustration. Hunting for the Bureau wasn’t exactly glamourous work, and Maxime was always the butt of his more successful litter-mates’ jokes. But chasing jumpers was more than just Maxime’s job. It was in his blood; his calling.
In the stables the space-horses bobbed against their tethers. The jumper was standing on its clawed toes, one hand outstretched to pat an iridescent muzzle. Maxime flattened himself into the shadow of the wall and wriggled forward on his belly. The jumper giggled as the space-horse snuffled its hand. The scent of his prey filled Maxime’s nostrils and drool ran down his jowls and dripped, with a fatal plink, onto the mooncrete floor.
The jumper spun, saw him, and sliced the air open. Maxime launched himself off the wall. With two bounds he closed the gap and fastened his jaws on the jumper’s arm. The creature screamed. His momentum sent them both tumbling backwards, through the rent in the air and –
Maxime tumbled through a kaleidoscope of stars. He whimpered, legs scrabbling for purchase and finding none. He felt like his stomach was trying to escape through his ears.
“You’re under arrest,” he said.
The jumper cradled its injured arm. “Those genocidal maniacs at BUTT have no authority here,” it said.
Maxime rolled over, found himself still upside down. “Yes they do. And what do you mean genocidal?” he said.
“The Bureau wants us gone. Wiped out. Extinct,” said the jumper.
“That’s not true,” said Maxime. “They just, umm, arrest you and…” He trailed off, realising he had not idea what happened with the jumpers once he’d collected his pay.
“We are so few, now,” the jumper said. “You can’t tell me you haven’t noticed?”
Maxime had certainly noticed the dwindling number of galactic credits he had to his name. From somewhere he heard a whimpering, then realised it was him. The nausea was almost unbearable. He tried to curl into a ball, realised his nose was bleeding.
“What’s happening?” Maxime moaned.
“Displacement sickness,” said the jumper. “I keep you here much longer you’ll probably die.”
“But I don’t want to die,” said Maxime.
“Neither do I!” said the jumper.
Maxime threw up. The jumper sidestepped the floating puddle with a tsk, and sliced open the sky above Maxime’s feet, so that he feel through and –
Maxime had just bet his last dollar on Max’s Pride (auspicious name) when he caught the scent of a temporal rift. He grinned. It had been weeks since he’d last flushed up a jumper. Maxime wondered if their numbers were dropping, and a cold shiver ran down his spine at the thought. With a sudden change of heart Maxime barked at the gambot. It whirred back to him, and he wiped his previous bet, entering Blue Supernova instead.
A square foot of air split open like an overripe tomato. The jumper wriggled through and sealed the gate behind itself. Maxime bayed with excitement as Blue Supernova broke from the pack and began to hunt down the leader. The jumper waved an arm to summon a circulating gambot. The roar of the crowd reached a crescendo as the space-horses crossed the finish line, Blue Supernova in front with a space-horse length to spare.
Suddenly Maxime caught the scent of a jumper. He leapt from his seat, nose down. The trail started two rows down, then disappeared. Maxime shook his head, drool flying from his jowls. There’d be another, he thought. No way the little buggers could resist Cup Day. Then he trotted off to collect his winnings.
|# ? Apr 23, 2019 23:50|
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 00:31 on Apr 24, 2019
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 00:06|
crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:31 on Apr 24, 2019
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 00:32|
Thunderdome Week 351: Rat-a-tat-tat, Thunderdome
This is a music week. But it's not exactly the normal variety of music week. Instead of focusing on a particular artist or genre, you're going to take your inspiration from American Song-Poem Music. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_poem
The musical equivalent of the vanity press, the various Song-Poem studios connected amateur songwriters and professional studio musicians to produce, well, some of my favorite examples of outsider art. And a surprising amount of it has survived. The original Song-Poem Music archive at http://www.songpoemmusic.com is mostly dead, its mp3 collection lost to link rot, but I have found an accessable set of collections http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2009/08/songpoem-archived-music-volume-7-train-of-destiny.html
and there are also YouTube playlists of a much smaller subset still, will post some of those later.
Go out and find one, put the name and a link that will get me to some playable version of your song in your sign up post. Or you can ask for me to give you one, but if you do you get 250 fewer words.
Base word count is 1500.
Anyone who toxxes gets 250 extra words.
As is ever the case in song weeks, don't be literal, don't tell the story of the song or have someone listen to it as they do stuff. Break it apart and find some nuggets to smelt into a story.
No poetry, fanfic, erotica, rants, emoji, Google docs, spreadsheets, etc.
Sign ups close 11:59 PM Friday Pacific time
Submissions close 11:59 PM Sunday Pacific time.
flerp- Listen, Mr. Hat
QuoProQuid- I Lost My Girl to an Argentinian Cowboy
Hawklad- The Atom Dynomic Dance
Mr. Steak- Green Fingernails
Twist- Blue Atoms
Antivehicular- Rain on the Roof
Crabrock- The Amazing Helicopters
Anatomi- Sputnik Hit the Moon
Fleta McGurn- Ballad of Patty Hearst
Nikaer Drekin- The Duck Egg Walk
Simply Simon- He Is the Ressurection and Life
Kaishai- Octopus Woman Please Let Me Go
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 07:56 on Apr 27, 2019
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 00:38|
in give me a thing
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 00:41|
just give me something
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 00:42|
im confused as gently caress so assign me one please
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 00:45|
in give me a thing
Listen , Mr. Hat.
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 01:00|
I lost my girl to an Argentinian cowboy.
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 01:01|
(The Atom Dynomic Dance)
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 01:02|
im confused as gently caress so assign me one please
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 01:04|
Butt Brawl entries received.
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 01:36|
in, with Blue Atoms
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 02:37|
In with Rain on the Roof.
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 03:01|
|# ? Nov 26, 2022 16:15|
In plz give
|# ? Apr 24, 2019 06:32|