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Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


crabrock posted:

In plz give

The Amazing Helicopters, #6 on the below link.

https://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2009...band-lover.html

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ADBOT LOVES YOU

anatomi
Jan 31, 2015


In. Gimme something. Anything.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


anatomi posted:

In. Gimme something. Anything.

http://blogfiles.wfmu.org/LR/spam06/03_-_Chuck_Jones_and_The_Links_-_Sputnik_Hit_The_Moon.mp3

Sputnik Hit The Moon

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


In

BALLAD OF PATTY HEARST

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Song-poem playlist, starting with the one that named the week


https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_NoKY8Djxi4VUJWDtzAln4OdTEIkfq9i

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Buttz Brawl Rezultz

Help the Aged
1000 words

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.
Good description here. Don’t think you really need to use the profanity here, but I could be wrong.

“One last job, huh? I told them, Mike, I’m retired. Not happening.”
If you’re calling out a cliché by name like this, it better be a comedy.

“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.
Love this paragraph here. Excellent sense of weariness.

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.
Okay, definitely a comedy

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 Typo! 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.
There’s a good, visceral sense of how much this chase sucks for all involved.

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. Good.

Mike was, frankly, too old for this poo poo. I don’t like the use of this particular cliché. 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. This sentence is awkward as hell. 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. You haven’t exactly characterized Mike as the sort of person who’d know what a “coping mechanism” was. Also why is he crying? Can’t he just get up and apologize to Geoff?

Mike woke, cheeks covered in a thin crust of salt and mouth full of cotton. Rays of morning sun poked their between the cornrows. Did he cry himself to sleep? Unclear.

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 I feel like this is an easy cliché that lacks specificity.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.
I like this ending. Mike ends up doing what’s easy instead of what’s right and will ultimately make him happy. Good.

My review is pretty mixed. There were a few too many clichés for a story with only a mildly comedic tone, and some plot points weren’t entirely clear. It generally works better in macro than in micro. Your characters are well defined, your themes are well-argued, but I wish I had more fun reading it sentence by sentence.

Hunters and Gamblers
885 words

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. Okay, is Maxime a literal dog? I feel like I’m going to be confused already, but that’s mostly me being dumb I think?

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 crossed 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. Okay, so Max is an actual dog, but he can spend money, so presumably he has a wallet, and probably pockets to put the wallet in. Please know that I’m imagining Max looking like McGruff the Crime Dog. “Jowls” seems like too specific a word to use twice in a paragraph.

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. This is the butt brawl, not the jowls brawl, Yoru.

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. Definitely the best use of the prompt.

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. This line is very funny coming from McGruff.

“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. No way we start a time travel story without a mind-bending ending

This is a real fun story. The little bits of silly sci-fi world-building like “mooncrete” really sold the tone. There’s enough of a comedy vibe to sell the idea that the fascist police are called BUTT.

I’m a little confused by the logistics of your ending, but that doesn’t bother me too much. I’m happy to shrug and let time travel hijinks be time travel hijinks. And is there another word goddamn word for “jowls?”

Yoruichi wins. Steeltoedsneakers, you had a good story idea but you needed better words to tell it. Yoruichi’s story was filled with imagination and jowls, so she gets the trophy.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

In for this week, with The Duck Egg Walk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsYxbOx_3ck

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

timeless Ned Flanders style


I'm in with Easter-themed masterpiece He is the Resurrection and Life.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

In with "Octopus Woman Please Let Me Go."

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Signups are closed. Write some words.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

timeless Ned Flanders style


He is the Resurrection and Life

I Was in a Coma Twice
1500/1500 words

You stand on a bridge, watching the bright star of the morning rise, and contemplate faith. Mother wants you to attend service, like every Sunday. But what you want is a new car. You are a humble metalworker, and the boss is always glad to give you Sunday shifts. So what do you want more – Jesus or a Mustang?

You calculate how much you still need to save, but you know you’re stalling. Decide: Mother and church or Mustang and work? As the time to get to service becomes dangerously short, you spot someone next to you. Like you, he looks towards the rising sun, contemplating. You want to start a conversation, distract yourself, make it not your fault if you miss church and disappoint Mother, when the tears on his face make you stop.

He shoots a single desperate glance at you, but whatever he finds in your eyes is not what he’s looking for. You’re paralyzed as he leans forward, a single tear plummets towards the river below, and the he plummets after it.

It is clear like dawn’s light that you have to make a choice. Inaction is an action. You know the bridge is not that high; the fall won’t kill him. You can save him.

What would Mother want?
What would Jesus do?
You jump.

You remember very little from what happened next. Not the impact, not the panicked flailing for the jumper, not the fear for your own life. Because you cannot swim, something that would not bother Jesus, but you can’t walk on nor breathe in water.

†††

“He is the Resurrection and Life.
He is the Resurrection and Life.”

Life, light, memory and guilt; they flicker in and out of your existence. You hear Mother’s chant often, it drives you half insane, but keeps the light from going out completely. You know you should have gone to church instead, every time the chant repeats it puts this crown of thorns on you. Jolts you awake a little more, and more each time, and finally, your eyes snap open.

For two weeks, you were in a coma. Every day, your Mother sat beside you, prayed and chanted. Until the prayers resurrected you. It is a miracle, the staff says; the nurses who are also Sisters, the priest who is a doctor. A miracle that needs telling.

You do not want this. It was so dumb of you to jump, and it did nothing. The jumper drowned. But they remind you: a suicide means that he burns, so screw him, right? You, however, were saved by Jesus. Mother weeps the purest tears of joy, as much for this proof of faith as for your survival. She needs this, you realize. And after all, you should have listened to her. Had you not been flirting with temptation, you would not have been standing on that bridge.

To assuage this guilt at least, you agree to interviews and more.

†††

A lifetime or a mere blink later, your story is well known; the second coming for some people. You’re pretty sure that’s blasphemy, but Mother is so happy, and you might grow to like the attention, you tell yourself. And you caught that of a local politician with ambitions.

He asks a favor: his son, you see, has come out of a certain closet. This cannot be allowed to persist while daddy goes on campaign trail. So he asks you: have a word, convince the son to go on a summer camp, where they will sort him out. Make a proper man of him.
You don’t think Jesus ever talked about the gays. But oh, do his followers ever. And like it or not, you are important to them now. This man, he makes big promises. You use your Jesus credentials to make the son see what dad’s decision as the light, and you’ll continue to be propped up as someone close to holy.

And Mother will continue to be happy.

You agree, though thirty silver pieces tinkle in your mind.

†††

The son went off to camp, the campaign off to trail. It starts at home, of course. You stand next to the politician as he waxes, on the bridge where this nonsense all began. Mother smiles, echoed by hundreds crowding her, as you are miserable. You, the selfless hero; you, the proof of miracles; you, who’ll show the Lord’s good word to everyone, and all true believers will know how to vote.

“He is the Resurrection and Life,” the politician says, they all chant with him, and you don’t know if he means Jesus or yourself.

You sense the mood change way too late. The people want to be saved like you were. Have they forgotten that you failed as savior? But reason’s gone. They press forward as a mob, try to touch you, get some of that Jesus to rub off. You back off, feel like you’re drowning yet again. They close in, you step back further. Trip over the railing, a panicked accident, and you fall into the river once again.

†††

“He is the Resurrection and Life.
He is the Resurrection and Life.”

This time, your dreams seem very real. You remember the icy water washing over you, far warmer than the guilt that plagues you, for being a phony idol, propped up by a power-hungry monster, and you let him. Because you could drive Mother to his speech in your new Mustang. You remember how the light went out for you as Jesus closed his eyes in shame. And every time the chant repeats, the knife stabs your lungs again as your breath’s denied again, again.

And yet, your eyes snap open! Two weeks in a second coma. Mother faints, raptured. The sisters clutch their rosaries. Word gets out, the politician enters, grovels. Wants you to pick up where you left off: his golden calf for others to dance around.

No more. You know now what to do. Jesus has not given up on you. The chant has saved you yet again, and this chance you will not squander. You tell the politician that he won’t twist Jesus’ words no more: it is you who will do the talking now.

And that you do. From the burning bush of this small town, your words spread through the nation. The campaign you took over gets you elected governor, but you don’t stop. All of America has converted to the vision you spearhead already; they want to follow your and Jesus’ simple values of sacrifice and love. A perfect world, paradise on earth, built on faith’s pillars. A dream, as if you never awoke the second time.

†††

After six years, you are president, and you know that peace on earth is just around the corner. And your Mother will be so proud.

First, however, in the seventh year, you have to rest. You decide to take in the sunrise on the bridge at home, where you were chosen. Two deaths, two resurrections, a double miracle…is someone standing next to you again?

You pale. A gaunt figure, the same torture in his eyes as back when you told him how things had to be. But amplified a thousandfold. The politician’s son, back from the camp. About to jump.
He looks at you with silent accusation, and you stare back with silent pleading eyes and pray that he will not put his death on you. Then his image flickers, and he is Jesus, and he disapproves. And then it’s your own face which is staring back, and this is the most terrible of all.

The dawn has darkened. The once-red water murky grey. Did you go wrong with your dream? Was this not the way to use your second chance? Was the sacrifice of this one man too much to ask for a utopia?

“He is the Resurrection and Life,” Mother says, standing next to you. “Jesus will guide you to heaven.”

“We will now let him go,” the priest says, in his doctor’s scrubs besides her. “It is His will.”

They want to make you stay, here in the paradise you made. Ignore the gay man about to die. Not for your sins; because of them. Was it worth the cost? he asks you, wearing your face. And then he plummets.

“He is the Resurrection and Life,” Mother chants.
“You made the right choice,” the unholy doctor says. He makes a motion, and the sun supporting light winks out.

You did not make the right choice. Jesus sacrificed himself, not others!
But you do have one final chance to set things right.

You deny Mother’s blind belief, and you decide to end this fake utopia, and you reject your heaven, and you do what Jesus would have done.

Well aware that you still can’t swim, you follow another person down the bridge, and just before you impact the waters black like death itself, your eyes snap open. And the dream, a paradise built on lies’ pillars, ends.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtFRP9xDakA
Listen , Mr. Hat.

America’s Pastime

https://thunderdome.cc/?story=7369&title=America%5C%27s+Pastime

flerp fucked around with this message at 01:47 on Oct 11, 2019

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha
T O P


Prompt: I Lost My Girl to an Argentinian Cowboy
1497 words

Monsters

I never believed in monsters. Before our trip, my mom and I would stay up late watching old movies. Godzilla. Creature from the Black Lagoon. King Kong. I’d nestle myself in her arms, her warmth pressed against mine, as she pointed out the tricks. The monsters always lurked in the shadows, the zippers of their rubber suits out of frame. The great cities they terrorized were miniatures kept just out of focus. Illuminated by a pale light, we’d sit and laugh as the creatures grew nearer to the screaming, pale-faced actresses.

I don’t laugh much anymore.

***

“Howdy folks, what brings you to these parts?”

We were sitting in a parking lot somewhere outside of Eureka, Nevada feeling agitated in the summer heat. Across the street was a nautical-themed motel. On its roof was a whale, its paint bleached white by the unrelenting desert sun. Mom looked up from a map I’d stolen from the lobby while she feigned interest in a room. We’d need every cent to make it to Disneyland for the summer.

“Oh hi,” she said, shading her eyes with the map’s bunched-up pages. “We’re just…”

“Going on vacation!” I shouted, excited for the interruption. Peeling myself from the sticky, sweat-soaked seat, I pushed my unruly tangle of hair back. “Mom’s taking me to Disneyland.”

The shadow laughed. I blinked, then blinked again. Our visitor looked like he’d just walked off a Las Vegas billboard. With a cigarette in his mouth and a bandana tied around his neck, he leered down at us. A pair of twinkling eyes shone from beneath the shade of his cowboy hat.

“Well, look at the little princess over here.” He leaned down in a single slick motion and rested his arm on top of the rolled-down window. The man gave a jaunty smile as his eyes slid across the interior of our rental. “The little lady must have done something pretty special to deserve that.”

“Yeah, she did,” my mother said before I could speak. She returned the man’s expression with a thin smile that did nothing to disguise her coldness. She’d seen too many movies not to be suspicious. “Can we help you?”

The man raised his eyebrows but did not move. “Ah, how rude of me. The name’s Vic.” He said the name with an exaggerated slur, as if he had a mouth full of pennies.

“Regina,” my mother said. She nodded her head in my direction. “Tamara.”

The man’s face crumpled back into a grin. “Pleasure to meet you Regina and Tamara. I was wondering if you fine people could help me outta a little trouble.”

An arm pressed against mine. My mother looked at Vic but said nothing.

“See, I’ve been tryin’ to get to California myself. Been hitchhiking across this great country to meet up with my sister.” He fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a ragged wallet. I caught the flash of a woman’s face inside before he clasped it shut again. “If you’d just be kind enough to let me tag along, just let me ride with you as far as you’re willing… that’d be pretty fine.”

I looked up at my mother. Her face was blank. Her eyes flitted across the empty parking lot.

The man leaned in closer. “I’d be happy to chip in for gas.” He looked me. “Would give you a little extra pocket change for princess over here.”

There was a pause as my mother looked the man up and down, weighing different options in her head. When I was sure she wouldn’t let him in, she instead sighed and unlocked the door.

They always do that in the movies.

***

We rode along the dusty highway. The terrain was sunbaked and rough. Relegated to the back seat, I stared at the back of Vic’s sunburned neck and the gentle bobbing of his head. With practiced casualness, Vic began asking questions. He wanted to know where we were from, how we had made it across this country’s vast, untamed wilds. He wanted to know whether we were meeting up with anyone.

And faced with the heat and terrain’s unbroken sameness, my mother’s resistances fell away. She told him we were traveling for summer break, but this was our first time traveling so far. She told him that my dad wasn’t in the picture anymore. She told him about our monster-movie nights, about how brave I was compared to other little girls.

Vic turned and bore his teeth, looking like a vampire himself.

“Tough lil’ princess, ain’t you? I bet there’s no monster you can’t handle.”

I blushed and turned away as the man laughed.

***

Years later, I was in a diner. It was late, the kind of late when the world seems to fall away and nothing seems real. Except for the waitress, the only sign of life was a television playing a static-filled version of the local news. On the screen were scenes of an empty house illuminated by red and blue lights. A newscaster stepped into the frame, his expression dark and vicious.

A kid had been eaten by a snake, the man said. His mom and dad had gotten the kid a python for his birthday. They’d let the thing sleep with him as if it were a dog. They’d cooed to all their friends about how protective the serpent was, how it stretched itself out next to the sleeping boy, how it let the child stretch his arms around it.

It hadn’t occurred to the parents that the snake wasn’t cuddling, that it wasn’t capable of such primate affection. They never imagined that the thing might be measuring itself against its prey to see how much it could fit inside its gaping maw.

As I forced cold pancakes down my throat, the newscaster shook his head with mock sadness. “Monstrous but a cautionary tale for all the viewers out there. Back to you Jenna.”

***

The door to our motel room slammed, shutting out the cool, crisp night air. We’d driven to the sparkling outskirts of Reno before stopping at a dingy motel. Vic had separated from us near the yellow light of the reception, saying he appreciated the ride and would check in separately when we finished.

“I hope you get to see your sister!” I had said as my mother dragged me away.

Vic had tipped his hat and watched us as we wormed our way to our room. The light of his cigarette burned in the darkness. “Pleasant dreams, princess. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

While Mom brushed her teeth, I got into my nightshirt and flipped through the TV. Video played of a bomb going off in a distant country. A black-and-white gangster emerged from the shadows of a darkened alleyway. A televangelist raged against heresy.

“Hey, Mom,” I shouted. “Do you mind if I go get some ice? I think I saw a machine by reception.”

There was a gargled reply. I took the ice bucket, propped open the door, and walked into the darkness. A few moments later, I had my ice and headed back to the room. I opened the door. And that’s when I saw him.

Vic was in the bedroom. He faced away from me, but I could see his hand around his belt. The lamp separating the beds had toppled and its lampshade fallen away. Vic cast an impossibly large shadow across the wall.

My legs seemed numb and jello-like.

“Vic?” I said. The shock of him had knocked my sense out me, had striped me clean. There was someone laying on the floor, moaning. There was someone laying on the floor in my mother’s nightgown. There was someone laying on the floor, her eyes wide like the kind of pale actresses we’d make fun of.

“Tamara noooooo.” The thing on the floor wheezed. “Tamara, pleaseeeee.”

He turned. The friendliness in Vic’s face was gone, replaced instead with a kind of nervous excitement, an anticipation. His tongue flitted over his lips. Spit dripped onto his bandana.

“Hey there, princess,” he said without a hint of warmth. “You gonna save the day?”

In the years since, I’ve run this moment over a lot. I like to imagine myself throwing the ice box at him and carrying my mother to safety. I like to imagine myself getting to the motel’s reception desk and finding a working phone to call the police, their cars arriving just in time. I like to imagine the evening folding into nothing, replaced by memories of Mickey and Minnie and all the things kids are supposed to worry about.

Instead, he took a step forward and I bounded from the room, spilling ice behind me. I ran across the motel parking lot and the sand-swept road. I ran over gnarled hills, not caring about the thousands of sharp pebbles shredding my bare feet. I ran until the monster’s laughter vanished and the motel was consumed by the night.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

One Odd Duck
1,392 Words

Based on the Song-Poem "The Duck Egg Walk": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsYxbOx_3ck

Ike Adler first saw Kailey Harper when he was nine. He thought she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, or ever would see.

His family lived in a neglected old house next door. Ike loved to sneak through the woods, sidle past the tall trees and through the bramble bushes and come out the other side into the Harper farm. He’d walk down by the pond, where the ducks always gathered. After sitting there for a time, watching them preen and swim and fluff their feathers, he skulked over to their nest and swiped and egg or two. He didn’t like eating the duck eggs all that much, so he wasn’t sure why he took them. Still, it always gave him a thrill to do it.

When Ike first saw Kailey, he practically jumped out of his skin. As his fingers closed around that morning’s duck egg, a shrill little voice pierced through the air. “Hey!” she shouted. “Put. The eggs. Back.” He looked up and saw her at the top of the hill, a girl about his age with sandy hair, a face covered in freckles, and shining green eyes that were lovelier than he thought was even possible. She planted her hands on her hips. “Don’t you dare take those eggs. The ducks’ babies are in there, so you better leave them alone.” He set the egg down and stepped back, his hands held high. “That’s better,” Kailey said with a grin. “Thank you.”

From then on, Kailey met him every morning by the duck pond, and the two spent the blissful hours before school traipsing across the hills, seeing all the wonders that nature in bloom had to offer. No matter where they explored, they always came back to the duck pond, even though the ducks were starting to bore Ike. Their beady black eyes were always glazed with the same dull expression, but in Kailey’s eyes he saw wonder and joy without equal. He yearned to be the reason her eyes lit up.

As the years passed, Ike ventured less and less often to the duck pond, his mornings occupied instead with last-minute homework assignments or an extra hour or two of sleep. When he saw Kailey at school, chatting with friends or fetching books from her locker, his cheeks glowed and a pang of warmth oozed through his chest. He began to think tentative new thoughts about her, and clandestine dreams about a future they might share took root in his brain. It embarrassed him how deeply he pined, but he pined all the same.

One night, Ike snuck a cigarette in the backyard. Off toward the Harper farm he heard shouting and slamming of doors. He stubbed out the smoke and ran through the woods, taking the route that had been burned into his memory since he was nine years old. When he reached the duck pond, he saw Kailey standing there in a torn dress, sobbing into the crook of her elbow. She lifted her head and saw Ike standing there with a stupefied look on his face. She ran to him, wrapped her arms around him tight, and buried her face in his breast. It was the single greatest moment of his life.

Once she’d calmed herself, they sat side by side, staring out at the duck pond. They flicked pebbles at the cool, calm water. The ducks bobbed on the surface, not even seeming to notice. Kailey shook her head “I kind of envy them, you know? The ducks.” She sighed. “They don’t think about the future, don’t have to worry about money, or success, or whether anyone actually gives a poo poo about them. They just… are.” She looped her arm around his, leaned her head on his shoulder. Ike’s heart throbbed in its cage.

She turned to him. Their eyes locked, and she gave him a little smile. “Ike… do you want to kiss me?”

Oh god. His fingers dug into the grass. Juices churned in his stomach, and he felt a bead of sweat trickle down from his armpit. He wanted to scream, Of course I want to! I don’t want to do anything else as long as I live! He ached to move his head just a few inches, to press the velvet softness of her lips against his.

But he didn’t move. The moment passed as quickly as it came on. The two broke apart and looked out at the ducks, watching them paddle around the pond in a state of mindless contentment.

A half hour or so later, they hugged and parted ways. Ike retreated to his own yard, pulled out a new cigarette and lit it, taking a long, slow drag. Then he stabbed the glowing tip into the center of his palm.

On a rainy night three years later, Ike’s parents skidded across the road and smashed their car into a telephone pole. Kailey had left for college the year before and couldn’t make it back in time for the funeral. There was no money, so all Ike inherited was the house. He dug in deep, getting jobs where he could and working hard to keep the place from falling apart. The Harpers gave up farming and let the land grow wild. Sometimes, when the night felt especially bleak, Ike snuck out to the duck pond and wished for Kailey to come back and ask him the same question she once had. This time, he would give the right answer.

And eventually she did come back, looking more happy and radiant than ever. A man was with her when she came by Ike’s to visit. He was tall and strapping, taller than Ike by at least a few inches. Ike showed them around his house, smiling when he was supposed to, keeping his voice level, all the while seething, knotting his insides up with aimless fury.

When they sat down for coffee, Kailey beamed, pressing her hands to her belly like it was a holy relic. “You’re the first one we’ve told, Ike. My parents don’t even know yet. Can you even believe it? We’ll have our own little family.” The man wrapped an arm around her shoulders and kissed her hair. Ike excused himself with the politeness of a saint. Then he went to the bathroom and hurled his guts into the toilet bowl.

The days after that were lonely. Ike went to the duck pond each morning and night, stealing eggs and swiping loose feathers, as many as he could find. He ate the eggs every day for breakfast and piled the feathers on his coffee table. He found himself losing track of time, standing for hours and staring at the ducks. Their blank animal stupidity captivated him. He saw freedom in it, maybe even peace.

After three weeks, he had enough feathers. Ike took a deep breath, then peeled his clothes off and stacked them neatly on the floor. He plugged in a hot glue gun, squeezed the trigger, and extruded a clear bead of glue onto his forearm, wincing as it scalded him. Then he picked up a dark feather, made sure it was stiff enough, and pressed the shaft through the glue, plunging it past the skin and deep into his arm. He cried out and pounded the table with his fist, but finally managed to steady his breathing. Mouth hanging open, he gazed at shiny feather sticking out of his skin. It looked like it was really a part of him. He reached for the next one.

A figure crept through the woods. Gangly and shimmering, it stalked onto the Harper farm, breathing the clean air, looking at the hazy predawn sky. Every inch of its alabaster skin was coated with glistening feathers. Its dull, milky eyes stared out into the night as it trudged toward the clearing. It walked down to the duck pond and waded in, almost seeming to melt away in the water. It paddled. It flapped. It swam just like the other ducks. Gleeful, ecstatic squawks gurgled out of its throat. There was nothing to fear now. No hopes to cling to, no struggles to dread. It was simply a duck floating in a duck pond on a cool, clear morning, and that was all it had to be.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Tendrils
(1,263 words)
Song-Poem: "Octopus Woman Please Let Me Go."

I saw her alive on my way to work as a slim, dark shape on the edge of the bridge, an irregular figure topped with twisting tendrils. I recognized a human, a woman, as my car drew closer, and as I passed her it struck me that she had a reason for being where she was. Police surrounded her, their cars making walls of steel and blue light. I pulled over on the bridge's opposite shoulder, aware that it wasn't safe and that the cops wouldn't like it and not giving a drat.

I had to get out to see her clearly. She wore a black coat; its tails snapped at her legs. The tendrils were bronze hair; wind snarled them into gibberish script against the grey sky. She faced the police, and me, with her back to the long fall down to the river. One policeman held out his hand to her. The rest stayed their distance. His posture begged her to take his hand and come back into life, and I'm sure from the angle of her chin and eyes that she saw him. But she stood straight, her hands at her sides. Her face was slack. Calm. She never looked my way.

She stepped backward and was gone.

A news van already squatted at the site, and another arrived while I stared at the empty air. When a reporter waved a microphone in my face, time resumed, and I dove for my car and its illusion of the normal world. Inside that shell I made it to work safely. No one there brought up a jumper on the bridge, so I let her slip from my mind, too--or so I told myself. That evening I watched the local news, and I glimpsed a name I've since forgotten and heard a story I couldn't tell you now. Compared to the hair that reached out while she stayed so still, those things had no power to hold me.

My sleep that night was dreamless and broken. I woke with the sheet tangled around my ankle and knee, wrist and shoulder. I dragged it with me into the kitchen, through the ritual of brewing coffee. My tie choked me. I tore it off and left it with the sheet, in a flat, crumpled heap on the floor.

"Anthony?" Polly touched my shoulder with a pencil as I stood in the entrance to my cubicle, studying my calendar without seeing any meaning. "Are you sick? You look a little...." She waved the pencil about in a way that suggested nothing.

It took a moment, but I smiled the automatic smile that I always gave my supervisor. "I don't think I slept well," I said. "Too hot. Or too cold. I'm not sure what it was."

That didn't reassure her any. "You have plenty of sick leave to use if you need it."

"I'm just fine," I said. I was. Nothing had happened to me.

I should have been able to concentrate on my work.

I should have heard the conversations around me as words, not as nonsense.

I should have told my office friends about the woman over lunch, but I didn't. With a french fry I painted tendrils of ketchup across a napkin.

Nothing had happened to me. She was nothing to me. My life hadn't changed. And yet night after night I had no dreams but got no rest, because I woke up again and again in the dark. My open eyes saw bronze words against a grey sky, a flutter of black. I moved deliberately through my days as though I moved through water.

"Let go of me," I hissed, digging my thumbs into my eyes until spots spun behind the lids like a warped checkerboard. I couldn't see properly when I let my hands fall, but the spreadsheet on my computer screen made no sense to me anyway.

Polly cleared her throat behind me. "Anthony. Go home."

It doesn't matter, I said inside, where I wouldn't have to explain. Outwardly I nodded and signed out of the system.

Driving over the bridge, I watched the river--rippling bronze under the sun--instead of the road, until my tires scraped the barricade between lanes. I jerked the wheel to the right and hunched down in my seat. I didn't look at the water again; I saw it in my mind's eye, where a dark knot of tendrils scrawled words below the surface.

The underwater flashlight I ordered online arrived in three days.

I took it to the river. Not to the bridge. I parked in an overnight lot and walked to the riverbank, trusting the black of not-quite-midnight to cover me but not caring that much whether it did. On the shore, I stripped down to shirt and pants and life vest. Rocks cut into my feet as I shuffled down the steep slope to the river. Cold. The chill of the water slammed into my blood, and the sound I made was a strangled scream. I waded to a mooring that jabbed from the shallows and clipped one end of a hundred-foot rope to it, clipped the other end to myself.

Above and downstream, the bridge glowed with lights: green, blue, violet, pink. Easter colors, still. The river reflected them and gave up none of its secrets. Its currents wrapped themselves around me, pulling me from land. I dragged air into my lungs, switched on my flashlight, and dove.

I knew someone must have found her body. Or else it had drifted on, forever lost.

I knew she was there.

Green weeds slid over my face, caressed my legs and let me pass. I swung the light in slow, wobbling arcs. It caught no pale face or still hand. No bronze tangle that spelled my name. No eye to meet mine and call me home or set me free.

My lungs ached. I stopped struggling to go down and let the life vest carry me up. But a tendril as slim as wire wrapped around my foot, catching me so sharply that I dropped the light and it fell away.

All the world was darkness and the tendril that bound me. Another stroked my leg; a third traced my heel. They tugged me toward the river bottom, where I might just dream again.

My thrashing hand struck my rope, and I seized it, and I hauled myself toward air. The tendrils came with me, shaping their message against my calf. Right when my hand broke the surface they pulled me back below. I gripped the rope and lunged for the night and light and life and breath and fear and pain and--and--!

The first air I gulped left me in a sob. The bridge glowed overhead. I'd drifted to where she might have fallen, and I was alive. I threw myself onto my back and kicked up my snared leg, exposing whatever held me to the light.

The net of tendrils looked black in the soft pastel shine. And as I breathed, it released me, sliding back into the river. "Weeds," I panted. "Just weeds." The next noise I made was close to a laugh. I liked the sound so much that I tried another, and another, until I was half giggling and half howling under the glow.

At home in the shower I found that one strand remained knotted around my ankle. One soft, silken strand that, dry, might have been bronze.

I broke it with one gentle pull, and it slipped down the drain alone.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Tanya
The Ballad of Patty Hearst
1732 words

Tanya came back different. Her hair’s buzzed close to her scalp and it makes her eyes stand out. Before, Tanya didn’t even look at other people- you didn’t notice her eyes at all. Now, if she flicks them at you, it’s arresting. King of scary. They’re focusing, but they don’t seem to see.

I said “hi” right away when she came back. I still wanted to be friends, you know? “Hey, Tanya, what’s up?” So casual. My mom said just to calm, that Tanya would explain everything to me if I didn’t make a big deal over her reappearance.

I don’t think I did the right thing. Maybe I was too chill, I don’t know. Tanya just looked at me with those empty blue eyes, shrugged, and walked away. I haven’t tried to talk to her since, and neither has Ashley, even though she and Ashley were really close before she left. Ashley says she’s too weird now. I agree, but it’s not “weird” like most people in my school are.

Tanya came back different. She snarls at people. “Why the gently caress are you looking me like that?” she snapped some freshmen girls the other day. They giggled, but when Tanya took a step towards them, they flew away squawking like startled birds. Tanya just turned around, expressionless, and went back to stuffing poo poo in her locker. I wanted to say something- “Tanya, what the hell?” or “Yeah! Run away, you bitches!”- but I got nervous and acted like I hadn’t seen anything. Later, I thought maybe Tanya would want to be my friend again if I stuck up for her, but then I realized she’d just be angrier at me.

Tanya’s always had a reason to be angry, but she wasn’t. She was soft and quiet and spent most of her time drawing sexy anime girls. No one ever asked her why she was so meek, and Tanya never told them, but Ashley and I knew. We used to go to her place for sleepovers, and her parents were always really scary- her mom smelled like whiteboard markers, and when she talked it sounded like her tongue was too thick. Tanya’s dad wasn’t around much, but the few times he did show up, he’d get super mad and just scream at Tanya or her mom. He hit Tanya in front of us a few times, and everyone acted like it was no big deal, so I acted like it was no big deal. Then I mentioned it to my mom, and she stopped letting me go over there. “Let’s have Tanya come here instead,” she’d always say when I asked.

I heard that Tanya’s living with the principal, that her family’s in jail. I heard she went to rehab (for what?) and that she’s being adopted by a wealthy family two towns over, and she “went crazy” and was locked in a mental hospital, and other stupid theories. Kids were walking up to her and asking about them on her first day back. At least I was her friend, I wasn’t some rando just getting in her business. I thought.

“Tanya came back different,” I said at dinner that night.

My parents looked at each other, but all my dad said was, “I guess you probably would. Poor kid,” and kept eating.

Mom looked at me thoughtfully. “Would you like to ask Tanya over for dinner tomorrow?”

I really would like Tanya to come over for dinner. I would like her to walk into my house with her long, tangled hair all messy and her voice soft and low, carrying her stupid little kids’ backpack she’s had since second grade. But I don’t think that Tanya is going to pick up the phone when I call.

I finally had a chance to talk to her in Science one day. She still shared a table with me, and when my teacher told us “table partners,” I knew she’d have to talk to me.

I started to set up the experiment. “Can you prep the slides?” I asked casually.

She gave me a quick look, then silently started doing so.

I waited a minute before asking, “Do you understand what we’re supposed to be doing? I zoned out.” I hadn’t.

Tanya gave me another look, this one slightly peevish. “You did not,” she said.

I blinked back. Then suddenly- “Yeah, well, maybe you should just talk to me already?”

She actually looked ashamed for a moment before hardening her features. Silently, she slid the prepped slides over to me. “You don’t get to ask me for anything” she said in her normal, quiet voice. Then she raised her hand. “Ms. Gonzalez, I gotta go. I’m gonna throw up.”

______________________________________________________________________________


Ashley and I aren’t really close anymore, either. She doesn’t care about Tanya at all. In fact, the other day, she called her “white trash” and when David Chang asked her if Tanya’s family had plumbing or if poo poo in the woods like animals, she actually giggled. He’s not even cute. I would feel left out, but I honestly don’t super care anymore.

I saw Tanya walking home, though. I don’t know why, but I decided to follow her. Maybe she would be more honest outside of school, was my reasoning, but I was too shy after what happened that time in Science to actually approach her, so I just trailed after her at a comfortable distance.
She did turn onto her street. She did go to the house. I hadn’t seen it since before she left, and was surprised that the windows and doors were boarded up. The little house looked sad, dingy, like a toy forgotten on the sidewalk. Tanya was expressionless, but her eyes were carefully searching. She disappeared into the backyard.

I approached from the other side, trying hard not to snap any twigs or scuff the gravel. Tanya’s family never locked the basement entrance, which looked like part of the side of the house. Maybe they hadn’t boarded that one up, since it didn’t look like a door.

Tanya had the same idea, and she spotted me as I walked up. “What the gently caress, Danielle?”

“Hi,” I said in a normal voice. “I saw you walking over—”

“Well, thanks for following me, that’s not creepy at all.” She glared.

I shrugged. “Sorry.” Pointing to the basement door, I asked, “Locked?”

Tanya considered me with her eyes before eventually saying, “No.”

“Are you going inside?”

“What do you think?” She yanked hard on the rope handle. The door shuddered open.

“Well…can I come with you?”

“Why?”

“I dunno. I just want to.”

Tanya made a face. “Maybe I want to be alone.”

“Okay, but what are you doing?”

She sighed and started to speak to me in clipped, brisk tones, like you would when a child asks a particularly stupid question. “My parents are gone, the house is condemned. Okay? It’s condemned. They didn’t let me take anything with me, and I want my stuff. I don’t need your help and I’ll kill you if you tell anyone about this.”

“You can carry more stuff with two people,” is all I said in return.

Tanya made another disgusted noise. “Fine. What the hell. You can help me take the stuff out. Okay?”

Tanya’s house had never been clean, but I had never seen anything like what lay behind that door. The smell of piss was so strong that I could taste it, and at first I thought I was going to be sick. Tanya barely seemed to notice, just a nose wrinkle and another irritated gust of breath as she entered. As my eyes adjusted, I could see that the house was filled with trash. There were a few holes in the walls, which were streaked with dirt and wet spots, and I even saw a used maxi pad stuck to the wall. That’s when I averted my eyes, trying only to look at Tanya. “I think we should be careful. There are squatters here.”

She laughed. “It looked like this before I left,” was all she said in return.

Tanya’s bedroom still looked pretty tidy, if dusty. She immediately made a beeline for the little Transformers backpack and started cramming everything small into it. She didn’t have much stuff, but I tried to help her, anyways. She took some clothes from the dresser, but none of the drawings on the walls, not even the ones I knew she was proud of.

Once outside, my head swam with relief. Tanya even smiled a little as she tried to zip up the bulging backpack. “So…where are you going?”

Tanya sat down on the big rock in the driveway. “Is that all?”

“Sorry?”

“Is that all you’re going to say?”

“Uh, you made it pretty clear you don’t want to answer any questions.”

Tanya nodded thoughtfully. Then, she asked a question. “Why didn’t you ever tell anyone about my parents?”

“What?”

“When you and Ashley saw my dad going apeshit that time- the first time-why didn’t you ever tell a teacher or something?”

I blinked. “Well, you never did, so I didn’t think you’d want me to.”

“You what?!” she said, her voice rising almost to a shriek.

“You never complained. I didn’t know if that was normal or not, like, in other families.”

The look on her face is one I’ll never forget. The disgust and hatred were transforming- she didn’t even look like herself. “How loving stupid are you?” she said, her voice breaking.

“I didn’t understand!”

“Some things are pretty loving understandable, even if you’re not, like, personally familiar!” she shouted at me. “I could have been out of here years ago, if someone had helped me!”

“Tanya, nobody knew it was this bad!”

She was already walking away. “Yes, you loving did!” she screamed over her shoulder.

I had a long, lonely walk home after that. The guilt was so heavy in my chest that I slouched. In my heart, I knew she was right- it wasn’t ignorance that kept me from speaking out so much as my fear that she would be taken away, that I’d never see her again if I said anything about her family. In the end, though, isn’t that what happened anyway? My friend is gone forever, and she’s never coming back. Not in the same way. Not as the same person.

Antivehicular
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


Sometimes Too Late
758 words
Prompt: Rain on the Roof

A hundred thoughts were running through Nevaeh's mind, but the only one that stuck was someone needs to wash these windows. The Lower Departure Lounge was glass-walled, and after three days of storm, the windows were covered in grimy streaks, cutting through old dirt and adding more from the ashen clouds. With the rain still pounding down, Nevaeh knew there was no point in washing them, but couldn't someone do something to make it a bit less sad?

Then again, the Lower Departure Lounge being sad was the point. It was all metal and hard plastic, everything scuffed, and the brightest lights in the place were the glowing computer kiosks, every screen urging you to reconsider in bright green letters: "It's Never Too Late." In the three hours Nevaeh had sat there, she'd seen five people take those kiosks up on their offer, tapping on the screen and taking back their rejections of their assignments. There were still a few dozen stubborn rejecters left, though, waiting for the next cargo ship with labor contracts. She recognized all of them. They'd all been her classmates; perhaps half had been her friends; only Hunter, next to her, had been anything like her lover.

Hunter had never loved her. She'd only ever been his fallback between real girlfriends, but nobody else had ever taken his place; now his last girlfriend was a star system away on her assignment, and Hunter was a rejecter, and Nevaeh was keeping him company for the last time. Funny to think of it as the last -- that she'd never get another message, the kind she recognized without seeing his name, "come over" in all lowercase, no emoji. Hunter wasn't much for words.

He was on his tablet now, though, swiping furiously on his screen -- maybe, Nevaeh thought, it had just been her he hadn't had words for. When he realized she was watching him, which took a moment, he was only barely fazed. "Hey. Sorry, Lindsay hit me up. Wanted to let me know she got to Argus okay. She says they've got great hydroponics. Guess she got pretty lucky, huh?"

It really was luck: luck to come out of the vats with the correct genetics for a garden-colony assignment, and for a few quirks of methylation to make you beautiful, a cut above the rest of their class and their clone stock. Lindsay was made for tending hydroponic orchids on Argus; Nevaeh was made for livestock processing on Pelops III. That was luck for you.

"Sorry," Hunter said, and Nevaeh realized she must have been scowling. "I shouldn't talk about her. She's gone, and... I'm glad you're here."

Something warm smoldered in Nevaeh's chest, like it always had, but only now did she realize how faint that feeling was -- almost more of a memory. She'd spent years cherishing any scrap of praise from Hunter, letting those scraps fuel her dreams, and where had any of it gotten her? The Lower Departure Lounge: dirty windows, dingy suitcases, hard plastic chairs. Hunter watched her with the dark, serious eyes she'd always loved, and yet none of her old fantasies came to mind. There was an emptiness in her head where he'd always been, and she wondered just how long it had been there.

"Nevaeh," Hunter said. "Do you want to come with me? The next ship's supposed to have a ton of contracts. We can work a few years and then do anything. Be free people. You don't have to go to... what was it? Polyphemus?"

"Pelops," Nevaeh answered, and thought of her assignment. Pelops III was no garden colony, but she'd seen pictures of the facilities, the grass-feeding pastures and the spiral abattoirs that kept the cows calm. She'd spent her life in the Facility training for Pelops III, the assignment she was engineered for, and now it was waiting for her. A home. A job. An arranged marriage to a boy from some other Institute, his gene-stock matched to hers -- someone she'd never met before, and someone who might love her. Hunter never would. What was freedom even worth, when you'd been built from the vat with a purpose?

"No," she said. "I'm sorry, Hunter. I hope it's wonderful out there. I've got somewhere else to be."

Nevaeh rose, and Hunter didn't stop her -- no grand gesture, no fantasy fulfilled. She hadn't expected it. She walked, and forced herself not to look back, to listen to the howling of the storm beating against the walls. It would die down soon enough. Storms always did.

Mr. Steak
May 8, 2013

T.T.D.D.T.D.D

Thug lyfe.


The Lonely Girl
312 words

Once upon a time there was a little girl in a huge castle. The castle had a lavish garden which provided all the food for the little girl to eat. The little girl tended to the garden every day, and she took pleasure in the work because the plants were the only other life she knew. She would sing for the fruits and the vegetables, sing louder for the ones that grew underground, and then pick them when they were ripe.

But as she grew older, the little girl grew lonely among the sprawling halls and wide ballrooms that could never be put to use. Her plants could never come inside and play with her. She began to cry often. She would wander the castle shedding tears on every stone she crossed. She continued tending the garden, but sang less brightly and watered the plants liberally with her tears.

One day, the little girl discovered a bizarre new plant in her garden. As if it had emerged from the soil overnight, a hand just like hers except the skin was brown and the nails leafy-green, motionless.

The little girl pulled and pulled on the hand but it wouldn’t budge. She couldn’t try digging the hand out because it was too close to other important plants, so all she could do was try singing to it.

As soon as the girl’s little voice rang out, the hand started to twitch in the soil. And after about five minutes, there was an entire arm reaching up from the ground. The girl kept singing for hours until a shoulder, head, and eventually torso were all visible.

The girl stopped singing because she was out of breath and her throat was parched, so she bent down to look at the plant person.

It looked up at her from its slouched position and said, “I love you.”

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


You didn’t see this coming
1108 words

Reginald Podvodník was the first to expose the world to the truth about helicopters: “They simply can’t fly, given our current knowledge of physics. They’re a scam.”

At first he was mocked and ridiculed. Thousands of bots posted fake videos of flying machines that couldn’t possibly exist, apocryphal anecdotes of rides in the make-believe machines, and countless diagrams and math equations that didn’t make any sense if you understood mathematics like Reggie did.

Reggie had a counter to each one of these propaganda attempts, and the more people researched, the more his words made sense. Still, his followers were a minority, and it was hard to convince the most ignorant of people.

Edgar was one of his first converts. His childhood friend Morgan insisted he serviced helicopters in Afghanistan.

Edgar took a sip of his beer and set it back on the bar. “That’s cool if you can’t tell me what you’ll really be doing, man, but just say so. Don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes. They’re not real.”

“I’m serious,” said Morgan, the corners of his mouth slightly downturned. “They’re made of nuts and bolts like everything else.”

The conspiracy of the military’s research into aerial holography was well known to chopper-heads. Edgar could easily dismiss any sightings as mere mirages. “Can you take me up in one, then?”

Morgan rolled his eyes. “You know I can’t, man, but poo poo you can just go get a private helicopter ride any time. It costs like $100.”

“I don’t think so. Ever wonder why so many people die in ‘helicopter accidents?’ It’s cause they start digging around. I’d trust you, but you won’t take me up, because you can’t, because you’re covering for something.”

Morgan laughed, then his laugh faded to a frown. “You’re not really serious about all this are you? It makes you sound sort of crazy.”

Edgar shrugged. “To the people I respect, you’re crazy to just blindly believe what other people tell you.”

Morgan held his hands in the air like he was choking an invisible person and yelled through his clenched teeth: “That’s exactly what you’re doing! I’ve literally been in a helicopter. I studied aviation in the Marines, you’ve been to an airport once.”

Edgar laughed at how his opponents always got like this. Angry and bent out of shape while he leaned back and sipped on his beer. “Airports are for planes. I believe in planes. If helicopters were real, we wouldn’t need airports, because everybody would be using them to get around. Nobody would need cars either. The fact that we sit in traffic all day when supposedly there are machines that can take off vertically from any spot in the world is proof that they do not, in fact, exist.”

Morgan didn’t have any hair, but if he had he would have looked like he was about to pull it out.

Edgar pushed an envelope of papers toward him. “Look, I asked you to meet me because I care about you. Just promise me to look at Reggie’s research and keep an open mind.”

“No! There’s nothing in the world that will make me rethink something I know 100% to be the truth.”

Edgar shook my head. “Well, that’s a shame. I’d hoped you’d be more reasonable.”

The expression on Morgan’s face changed from angry to bemused, and he laughed. “Reasonable, right, like you were when I tried to tell you that snakes don’t exist.”

“They do though. I had a pet snake as a kid.”

Morgan shook his head. “Nope. Maybe a skink or a salamander, but not a snake. It’d be impossible for them to move on land. That’s why eels are in the water. Snakes are just another proof of mass hysteria, another Mandela effect. I’ve read papers by leading experts in the field, and they confirm snakes are not real.”

Edgar and Morgan sat across from each other, silently seething, each in their own realities.

As a helicopter snake, I knew they were both wrong. I slithered through the air with the aid of four rotary turbines. I swooped over their pub and barred my fangs, which pulsed with explosive venom. I unleashed a cleansing wave over the town. Everything burned and melted like a marshmallow Peep in hot acid. The missiles tucked under my scales rocketed out and chased down every fleeing soul that had been missed by my venom, and they exploded into bloody clouds one by one until the only sound was the crackling of the fires.

I come from the realm of disbelief. If there was a spectrum of ideas, Tinkerbell was on one end, and I on the other. My pilot and friend, Buzz Aldrin, flipped a few switches in my cockpit and my rocket boosters engaged. We flew to the moon where my armaments could be restocked. After I was reloaded, I went home and surreptitiously crawled into bed, trying not to wake my sleeping partner.

They thought the world would be forever.

Reginald Podvodník sat up suddenly in his bed, covered in sweat. He shook his wife’s shoulder. “Honey, I just had a crazy dream,” he said.

But instead of the human woman he expected, again it was I, the helicopter snake. I had married Reggie in the summer of 1982, overcome by his animal magnetism. On our honeymoon he suffered a tragic brain injury, and each morning he woke up forgetting who I was. I had set up a VCR player by his bedside that explained the situation to him, like in 50 first dates, but he had never woken up in the middle of the night before. He screamed at my visage.

Buzz Aldrin ran in from the guest room and punched Reggie in the face. He fell back against his pillow, out cold.

“You idiot!” I roared. “You hurt him!”

I took off Buzz Aldrin’s head with a single bite and curled up against my unconscious husband.

Down on Earth, Morgan and Edgar crawled out of the wreckage of the collapsed bar, their metal skeletons shining through the patchwork of their remaining skin. Their eyes glowed with furyluminescent eyes. The helicopter snake did not believe in cyborg zombies, and that would be his undoing.

All this flashes before your eyes as you, a 42 year old reincarnation of jesus with prostate cancer, plunge toward the icy river below.

“gently caress,” you say. “I thought my life was supposed to flash before my eyes, not this weird poo poo.”

You and your cancerous balls splatter against the rocks because it is summer, and the river is low.

Your mom cries, and your ex-wife is glad.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Entries are closed.

Wungus
Mar 5, 2004



From the murk I come a'weary
at the dome of thunder's call
I have history here, in theory,
so today, I judge a brawl


Sittinghere reached out to me to do a judge on this ThirdMojo brawl as, in what I can only imagine her words would have been if she felt like explaining her motives, "ugh they're doing stories at me again." Joke's on her, or you, I guess, because I'm opinionated.

ThirdEmperor posted:

Sea-Foam
1605 words

Here's the line I like the least: There's just one thing they won't let the sea take. One thing they pry from the dissolving membrane that still looks vaguely like a human-thing, albeit broken and deflated.
The first sentence promises me a small importance is about to be revealed. The second sentence falls flat, ruining the gross description that led up to this while still not giving me an answer as to what they pulled - or even a hint, just that "yeah some poo poo came outta this human sheath sure as hell hope you, the reader, find this important, because yikes neither this nor the next scene is gunna reveal dick about that promise." I don't need wild reveals every three seconds, but if you're going to set up a tease, flirt with me a bit. Don't just tease and gently caress off. It's not clear what they're pulling from the husk, and by the time you think you've worked it out (it's a soul or something, right?) you're confused. Vague is cute, but only if you're doing it for a purpose. This did nothing for me. Hell, it confused me, and being confused kinda sucks rear end.

Here's the line I like the most: But she has not turned back to sea-foam. It is a small, angry triumph that radiates through the whole of the self.
A lot of short stories have endings that fall flat, or lovely, or both. A lot of shorts end on a pithy bullshit. This one does not, not by far, and the phrase "It is a small, angry triumph" is going into my mental word-bank to write myself in two years time and wonder why it seems so familiar. You held onto this girl's motivation and character and built it right to the climax, and ending with the word "self" punctuates a whole drat story about a character becoming fully realized in her own life. From the second scene onwards, I was growing more and more engaged by this world, and this girl, and even after you revealed she was nothing and wanted more, I still felt like you were giving her story growth. This is a massive success of an ending line, and it is strong enough to make me forgive how annoyed the opening made me feel.

We got us a story about a magical-adjacent town held together by living memories of the sea. In it, a girl hates being a sea-thing made of thought and threatens some seals, and they turn her into an outsider with no family, no nothing, but hey, she's free. Girl's chill with it too, despite being Worse Off by the end.

Did you do the prompt? Hell yeah. You chose "a character makes things worse for themselves but feels great" and gave me just that. Did you do it well? I sure bet you could! This is 1600 words, of which, about 800 feel like you wanted to paint a picture of a town and a history in France that I do not give a gently caress about. The opening and closing scenes are mostly fire, but at the same time - that opening scene genuinely ruined the story for me. Put it in something else and you've got a winner. This could have - should have - opened at "If the right light shone on the town of Montmercy, it would still look its old self from the postcards." A bit of editing, a touch of tweaks, and I'd call this one winner based on concept and imagery alone. But a winner of this brawl, here, today? Fiddle-dee-dee, won't we see!

sebmojo posted:

The Gazebo Effect
1165 words

Here's the line I like the least: “I should be in your tent,” he said.
I can't with this. The stressors don't fit the sentence, and as the first character moment I'm left wanting. This reads like Ross Geller impersonating Chandler Bing, and yo, a New Zealand marketplace ain't the set of Friends. Worse, it doesn't really make sense. The tent ain't Giordo's tent, unless Giordo owns it, in which case Henry should be complaining about the location, not the tent. If Giordo doesn't own it, I'm not getting a feel that Henry's having a fight about what he thinks is his, but more that he just wants to steal from Giordo because it's Giordo's, not because he wants the place. "I should be in this tent" "This is my tent today" "You're not supposed to be in my tent" etc. I get that there's a whole deal where Henry feels good because he hosed over Giordo, but the ownership issues in this line combined with the super weird voice drew me the gently caress out and I was all prepared to poo poo over this story from here. Luckily, you're a good enough writer to make me turn off my "poo poo on this garbage" impulse.

Here's the line I like the most: 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.
The typo in the sign, the glittering path, the wood and ducks - I've been to this market. Not literally this exact market, but growing up poor in Australia, I went to plenty of local markets on Saturday mornings/Sunday mornings to sell, buy, etc. We got our veg from a Samoan dude's truck, meat from an Italian guy who smelled like a thunderstorm was about to roll in, and the sun dappling into cheap gravel overwhelmed my little ADHD mind so goddamn much that not a weekend would go by that I wouldn't get lost from my mum and wind up crying up a tree or intensely distracted by some hoarder's collection of vintage Matchbox cars. You took me to a place of extreme nostalgia with a real small pair of sentences and I felt some strong personal connections here. Sometimes, the best line in a story isn't anything special, but it hits the reader hard because of circumstance. This one did that. (Also there wasn't any other stand-out lines for me, but even if there had been, they'd have to work hard to fight Memory.)

Here we got a story about a guy who wants a tent at a market but he doesn't get it because he's a pushover. In it, my dude has a bit of a whinge because he got his market tent stolen, but in his passive aggressive attempts to have a very British tantrum, ruins the tent, and his keyboard, and most importantly, some pizzas. But hey, he hosed up into revenge at the thief!

Did you do the prompt? Hell yeah. You also chose "a character makes things worse for themselves but feels great" and gave me it far more explicitly than Third. Did you do it well? Hell yeah. I'm a sucker for a blunt story I don't need to read into to Get, and this was just fun. That said - there's some poo poo going on with your phrasing that left the voice for this unclear. Worse, you used some words I don't like to ill effect - there's a few moments you're just throwing out the word "it" instead of something more specific or personal, and some moments you jump into phrasing like "self-flagellatory" and "what Rubicon the..." that pull my eye muscles hard. It bounces the voice from Character to Author and back - nothing that can't be fixed in line edits, but definitely things that should have been fixed in line edits. Did you win this brawl?

Third's piece reached further, tried to grasp more, and needed structural editing more than line edits - but, it had the strongest line of both pieces by far. Seb's piece kept it tight, but had phrasing issues that could have should have been read by someone with an eye for authorial voice.

The winner of this brawl is sebmojo, so sayeth me, the Dude What The Original Judge Messaged And Said Hey Maybe You Should Do This For Me Ay?

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Good fight, ty whalley

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016





Saucy_Rodent posted:

Buttz Brawl Rezultz

good judging, Saucy - thanks. Well done Yoruichi

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Judgment

A deeply divided panel reports in. Two of us liked and one deeply disliked both our HMs, QuidProQuo's Monsters and Nikaer Drekin's One Odd Duck.

We collectively found a lot to dislike, but not concurrently, except in the case of our loser, flerp's America's Pastime.

Similarly, the one story we all sort of liked ends up with the win: Fleta McGurn's Tanya.

Welcome back to the blood throne!

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Addendum: we all did agree that Crabrock earned both an HM and a DM for his...thing, which cancelled out.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Thranguy posted:

Addendum: we all did agree that Crabrock earned both an HM and a DM for his...thing, which cancelled out.

what is this milquetoast poo poo? gently caress u, brawl me

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


crabrock posted:

what is this milquetoast poo poo? gently caress u, brawl me

Bring it

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Thranrock brawlhalla, 1200 words, "a window opens both ways", 10 may 2019 1200 pst

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Song-Poem Note-Crits

I Was in a Coma Twice

Second person, bold. Fairly good. There's a huge narrative gap in the middle; why is this near-death survivor so revered?

Hm.

I was going to make a similar comment about the idea of the president being unaccompanied by bodyguards and such, but, well, by that point the story's reality is entirely heightened, in dream logic rather than real logic, to where a reading in which this is all a dying or comatose dreamscape is more plausible and more interesting. Good technique, never spelling that out but letting implausible detail accumulate.

Pretty good in general,7/10. Assuming that reading was remotely intended. (We reject Barthes and all of his works here.)

America's Pastime

More second person.

This is more of a character study than a story. And one of an unpleasant if pitiable character. Decently written but pointless, with a protagonist who doesn't do anything or change, has already had his moments of despair. I'm not sure a good fatalist story is possible. I am sure this isn't it.

4/10

Monsters

This was really good for the first half. A solid evocation of dread. I'm not sure the flash forward does enough in support of that mood to justify it bring there, and the ending could be made stronger. Make him anything other than the most obvious option. A cult recruiter. A werewolf. The devil. A helicoptersnake. Anything but a generic sex murderer. Still. Very nice. 8/10

One Odd Duck

Did I ask for sad people feeling sorry for themselves week?

Anyhow, this starts out as that, a bit less affecting than some of the others this week, and then takes a turn for the bizarre. I can't stand behind this as an ending. As a mid- or early- story shift, maybe. But I also don't see how to continue it, either. Shifting the point of view away from the character doesn't help, we should be in closer if he's doing something this strange. We spend so much time deep inside  point of view when he's boring, so it's unfair to pull away the second he starts being interesring. 3/10

Tendrils

Solid opener. Solid prose, in general. I just wish there was a little more story to it, a little more substance or agency to the protagonist. Or, since this sort of plays as half an urban legend, (like the week itself, lacking the ironic twist) a little more solid a resolution. Still, 7/10

Tanya

Another strong one. The tense slips around a bit, and there are some odd word choices, and the final dialog is a bit too direct, too stilted for what is going on, but still. 8/10

Sometimes too late

The exposition-to-plot balance here is way off, leading to a muddle where neither the world building nor the characters can generate much interest, alone or together. 4/10

The Lonely Girl

Okay, another weird little maybe-allegory thing that ends before it really starts. But generally inoffensive, 5/10

You didn't see this coming

Well, that was correct.

Glad I didn't read the stories in reverse order.

#whirlybirdsarentreal

This was fun. The first twist came at the right place. The second, well, was annoyingly and amusingly meta at once. Almost wanted to invent a new category here, it sort of defies rating.  6+8i/10

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Week 351 crits
This week was generally quite poor and had some really odd repeating themes. With all the obsessed mommy’s boy protagonist we got you’d think this had been Oedipus Week.

Simply Simon “I Was In a Coma Twice”
This is a strange story because it might be set in some kind of ultra-Catholic version of America where modern medicine isn’t where it is and people assume waking up from a coma is a miracle rather than just something that happens. The religious metaphors used are extremely on the nose and serve little purpose other than to tell us this story is ‘about’ religion. I guess how religion is bad but mommy is good? Not hugely fond of it.


Flerp “America’s Pastime”
Eerily similar in tone, construction and quality to the previous story. The song-poem this submission is better written and more evocative than this miserable dirge, which incidentally is true for other stories this week too.

“Your wife left you seven years ago and now you have cancer.” You got the results of the test back!

The repetitions and the second person and the wandering flashbacks and contemplation point to something complex, but the story itself is simple enough to be sparse. I don’t particularly give a poo poo about ‘me’ and my dead prostate. The wife and baseball stuff is constructed almost entirely out of cliches. If it makes you feel better, I wouldn’t have made this the loser. My loser is conveniently coming up right now!


QuoProQuid “Monsters”
There’s this interesting idea where the corniness and unreality of their situation is brought up multiple times – in relation to movies mostly, but also the idea Vic ‘came right from an LA billboard.’ This is a neat idea but there’s never really any payoff to the movie thing. Unless we’re meant to be shocked that the hitchhiker was bad cause that never happens in the movies, which of course is false.

It’s so obvious that Vic is up to no good that I was half expecting/hoping that he’s actually completely on the level and the protagonist has exaggerated his menace in their child brain. I mean, literally any time Vic so much as speaks or smiles or opens a door or rubs his belly he’s described as an evil no-good demon vampire dude, obviously he’s gonna do something. That this is communicated so heavy-handedly is compounded by the dire diner scene, where the protagonist is hanging around alone in a diner because that’s what depressed people in the desert do, and we hear a horrible and frankly unbelievable tale about a snake that ate a kid. They thought they could trust the snake! I get it. Please have a little faith in your readers.

‘“Hey there, princess,” he said without a hint of warmth. “You gonna save the day?”’ This line is really annoying.

Not to get too political but I also kind of have a problem about the depiction of sexual violence and its aftermath in this story. Not that it’s offensive or too much or whatever. It’s flat. Victims of sexual assault or other traumatic events can, you know, laugh. I dunno, there’s this idea that this traumatic experience at the motel has hosed the protagonist so much that she turns into a miserable short story character who is 100% gloomy 100% of the time, and that comes across to me as a flat character. Not “insulting” or “untrue” but flat. We have this loss of innocence, or as Freud would call it a ‘primal scene’, but the actual long-term impact we glimpse it having comes across as a sort of saccharine “ooh, the evil that men do, guess you shouldn’t trust strangers”-type deal. I can’t say too too much about it because it’s not something I have experience of but I would recommend Gretchen Felker-Martin’s or Julia Gfrörer’s writing on the depiction of sexual violence.

This story is at least more ‘professionally’ written which is more to be said for some of the others this week, but in the end I just find this story unpleasant. I think it’s bad, sorry.


Nikaer Drekin “One Odd Duck”
“He didn’t like eating the duck eggs all that much, so he wasn’t sure why he took them. Still, it always gave him a thrill to do it.” Sounds like he does it because of the thrill?
“A pang of warmth oozed through his chest” dunno if ‘oozed’ is the right word here? Like, firstly, it’s sort of a gross image of stuff oozing in his chest, secondly ‘pang’ means ‘a sudden sharp pain or painful emotion.’ So it’s either sudden or oozing, you know?

That ‘Oh God’ after the offer to kiss isn’t italicised or anything like it’s a thought in Ike’s head, so it seems like the narrator is getting really bothered and flustered about it which is weird and possibly just a mistake on your part but honestly I kinda like it. It adds this interesting kind of voyeur element to the scene which wouldn’t be present otherwise.

It is interesting also that Ike’s parents dying seems to have no emotional impact on him at all, presumably because his obsession with Kailey dominates his mind so much he doesn’t have room for other attachments. He is so singularly ruled by this desire it goes far beyond a simple meet-cute and into real derangement. This isn’t a criticism, I think that’s interesting.

The ending made me laugh in how loving perverse it was. What a great stupid tale about a useless stupid man who just gives up being a person because he couldn’t get laid. This is a good contrast to the previous stories, not just because it’s the first good one of the evening, but this one is obviously a little more amateurish, a little less proofread, a few odder sentence constructions, but I can forgive that when a story is as perverse as this. Rethink the ooze.


Kaishai “Tendrils”
I keep seeing lines like “trusting the black of not-quite-midnight to cover me but not caring that much whether it did” – the construction is something like “I expected X to happen, but I didn’t care that much if it did.” There must be some other means to get this idea across of like, low expectations, carelessness, losing self-awareness, than writing this same sentence construction over and over. Literally am I wrong? Multiple stories this week and I swear in previous TD submissions as well. It’s a very specific feeling trying to get across but it’s used to the point of cliché, honestly.

“I knew someone must have found her body. Or else it had drifted on, forever lost. I knew she was there.” Does he know someone found the body or does he know it had drifted away and lost or does he know the body is still there? These are three exclusive things.

I don’t get why I should care about this guy and his… supernatural...? obsession with some lady who jumped off a bridge. Obviously she’s an octopus woman cause that’s what the song is about. You successfully described the narrative of the song adding nothing but more, badder words. Cool! Boring. This is a creepypasta with no twist – I already know she’s an octopus woman, I listened to the song. There's nothing new here.


Fleta Mcgurn “Tanya”
“My mom said just to calm” I hate it when my mom says that.

Another very heavy story about some horrible thing. I feel like it ends at the wrong place. The final confrontation is that Tanya resents her friend for not saving her, which is fine I suppose, but that seems like the middle of the emotional arc, not the end of it. It also kind of deflates the mystery that the reason Tanya is so distant towards the protagonist is the most obvious thing. “Why do you hate me?” “You watched me get abused and did nothing.” “Oh! Oh yeah I did.” The end. You know what I mean? I think fundamentally the problem this one is one of structure.

Having said that there’s some nice characterisation and evocative descriptors – something had to win this week.


“Antivehicular “Sometimes Too Late”
Not a huge amount jumps out at me about this one. There’s this interesting idea of sort of modern hook-up culture or whatever that exists in this future of cloning and genetic destiny, and that’s sort of nice, but I dunno, everything quite sparse on the ground. Nothing much happens, the worldbuilding isn’t interesting enough to make up for there not being a plot, and the thoughts of the protagonist seem to kind of circle themselves.


Mr. Steak “The Lonely Girl”
Certainly a cute little sort of weird tale. Uuuhh the kind of fairytale aspect of it was interesting? I’m struggling here. I don’t have a huge amount to say, except that this story is lucky it made me feel nothing rather than making me feel annoyed, cause then it probably would’ve lost.


Crabrock “You didn’t see this coming”
Very good start. Yet another story that’s seemingly entirely from the perspective of someone with a skewed perspective on the world, and the first few lines push that perspective out to an absurdly comic degree.

And then it turns out that everyone in this world is a weirdo, which is nice. It’s an interesting heightening.

Although honestly kind of an easy dig on flat earthers and that. What did they ever do to you, my man?

This story is obviously very good and very funny. On second reading the charm wears off slightly. Just on a basic level this was the story I enjoyed reading most this week but the ending flies too close to the sun, and unfortunately that kind of avant-garde thinking is punished in Thunderdome. Your last few lines are a more cogent and biting critique of the very bad stories than anything I’ve written in this post.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Thunderdome Week 352/CCCLII: Do You Know? 나쁜 글쓰기!


Ulsan Industrial Complex at night

That's Korean for "bad writing" and, well, that's where our prompt is coming from.

It's very important to have pride in one's city! Korean cities have some of the best, and funniest slogans I've ever seen.

Here is a compilation of Korean city slogans. Pick one you want, or ask me to assign one to you. Obviously, these are meant to be more inspirational than literal- I don't care if Korea appears in your story at all, let alone whatever industrial hellhole you've chosen as your muse. You do not have to include the actual slogan in your story, but I should be able to read it and go "oh, okay, I get how this refers to Exquisite Ssamjang*, or whatever.

What I'm looking for here is for you to take these nonsensical mottoes and find the emotion, the hope behind them. For example, "It's Daejeon!" isn't much of a rallying cry in and of itself, but put yourself in another's shoes and examine how it could be. Maybe IT'S stands for something important to the city it does; Information, Technology, Science, maybe someone is so relieved to arrive that they have a series of wacky adventures, maybe Daejeon is the name of a monster coming around the corner. Get creative and allow your brain to work in a weird way.

2000 words or less
Signup deadline:
11:59 PM Pacific time on Friday, May 3rd.
Submission deadline: 11:59 Pacific time on Sunday, May 5th.

Judges:
Fleta McGurn
Armack
Nikaer Drekin

Entrants:
Anomalous Amalgam- Pine City Gangneung
Doctor Zero- Namyangju: the Slow City
flerp- Dream Hub Gunsan
crabrock- Do Dream Dongducheon
Mr. Steak- Season your life with Sunchang
thranguy- Blue City Geoje
Sebmojo- I.Seoul.U
Salgal80- A+ Anyang
fushia tude- Hi-Brand Nowon
crimea- Dream Bay Masan
Noah- Osan Fresh Energy
Saucy_Rodent- Happy Citizen, Proud Jeongeup
Lippincott- Smiling Dalseo
Simply Simon- City of Masters, Anseong
QuoProQuid- New Hope Dangjin

*not a city

Fleta Mcgurn fucked around with this message at 10:55 on May 6, 2019

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Also, I will likely not be on Discord much this week, if at all, because I have a houseguest as well as a full workweek. If you want to judge or get ahold of me in general, PMs are better.

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

In, give me a slogan please.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

In and claiming “Namyangju: the slow city

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!


in slogan

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


in with Do Dream Dongducheon

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Anomalous Amalgam posted:

In, give me a slogan please.

Pine City Gangneung!

flerp posted:

in slogan

Dream Hub Gunsan!

Mr. Steak
May 8, 2013

T.T.D.D.T.D.D

Thug lyfe.


in with Season your life with Sunchang

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


In with Blue City Geoje

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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



In, give me a slogan. Also will do crits for my week by friday 2359 pst.

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