I have done it. I've finally been able to write the ideas that have been trapped inside me so long. I only hesitate to post them yet, so as not to discourage my opponent.
Your bravado slaps me with less force than a floppy bit of fettuccine. Bitch-rear end HO.
P.S. I fail this week; surprise beach hols. Brawl entry is still good.
|# ? Jun 29, 2019 19:43|
|# ? Jan 20, 2022 00:01|
The Father of Exorcism
Word Count: 1544 spooky words
“Harold, please put the gun down,” Marche asked with a hand out in a placating gesture. “I only came here to help.”
Harold, who had just learned how to walk, toddled precariously at Marche while holding a massive Desert Eagle pistol in his adorable baby hands. When the year old infant spoke, he remarkably sounded like Samuel L Jackson, except angrier. “Lie to me again, motherfucker!” He shouted, turning the gun sideways. “Padre, you ain’t going nowhere, you basic bitch.”
Marche tried looking as defenseless as possible with his shoulders hunched and his gaze averted. If I get out of this, God, I swear I’ll go to confession and become a new man, he thought to himself.
“I think it’s time you say hello to your God, you loving worm,” Harold hissed. He pulled the trigger.
+ 12 hours earlier +
Marche slam dunked the baby into some holy water to the smiles of parents and onlookers. He yanked the baby out from the water and with a practiced motion, tossed her to his nun assistant. He crossed himself and then held his arms outstretched, bathing in the adoration meant for the Almighty.
Later, while munching Body of Christ™ wafers and watching ‘Father Ted’ in his study, there was a light knock on his door. “Come in!” he said around a mouth full of holy treats.
A man and a woman, visibly ground down by the yolk of parenthood timidly entered the room and stood by the door; too scared to do anything of their own volition.
Marche gave them a look that said, “Please take a seat over in the two comfortable chairs I have right there for this exact purpose.”
The couple returned a look that said, “Holy poo poo! We’re scared out of our flippin’ minds and we no longer know how to respond in social situations!”
The dad had a look that said, “I think I soiled myself on the drive over here.” Upon closer inspection, Marche found that the dad, indeed, had a drying stain over his crotch.
Marche broke the silence with a question. “What brings you here tonight?”
The mom burst into tears and the dad clutched her tightly to him, both needing each other’s proximity for comfort. “Our son is possessed by the devil,” the dad said.
“Deus meus,” Marche whispered loud enough so the couple heard. He felt dropping a few latin phrases here and there lent to an air of legitimacy. “What have you seen that makes you think possession?”
“He,” the dad started and then hardened his face. “He called my wife a ‘Filthy, oval office-munching, scissoring whore’, among other things I don’t want to repeat.”
Marche paused, his eyebrows creasing as he processed this information. “I don’t think possession would be what I would go with here. Teenagers can say some pretty hurtful things to their parents. I remember when I was a youngster-”
“Our son is only a one year old!” the mom blurted out before devolving into body shaking sobs. “My baby is possessed by a monster!” She wailed into her husband’s shoulder.
“Oh poo poo,” Marche said before he could stop himself.
+ 11 hours later +
Marche stood outside a ranch style home with the two sniffling parents at approximately one in the morning. He frowned deeply, wondering why he let it get to this point. When the front door swung open by itself, he decided then and there that this job can go gently caress itself and Cynthia and whatever her husband’s name is, can go make another baby. He turned around to leave and found himself looking at a very tastefully decorated living room.
Marche had replayed horror scenarios in his head quite often. He loved a good horror flick. He would roll his eyes when characters would do something incredily stupid that would get them killed. He knew he would know better than some dumb teenager in a movie.
It scared him nearly shitless that he couldn’t think. There was a heavy weight of panic pressing down on his bowels and icy tendrils clawing out into his extremities.
Then Marche saw movement from the edges of his periphery.
Marche finally snapped into motion, spurred by the possibility of being confronted with a literal monster. He reached under his clergy shirt he shopped lifted from a halloween store and pulled out his Desert Eagle from a holster across the small of his back. When he raised the gun to his sights, he froze.
The most adorable little baby boy was toddling through the living room. Peach fuzz for hair, the bluest eyes he’s ever seen and just the cutest smile. Marshe felt like his heart was gonna melt. He dropped everything and went to pick the baby up. He held him close and crooned at him with some nursery songs he partially remembered. He nuzzled the baby and gave him eskimo kisses and then the baby slapped Marche across the mouth like a bitch.
Marche saw stars as he stumbled backward trying to stay upright. He shook the fog from his head and saw the baby standing there clenching his wittle baby fists as if he were itching for a fight.
“You come into my gotdamn house and disrespect me by carrying a piece on you?” Baby Howard asked moving toward the gun Marche did not exactly remember placing on the ground.
Marche punted the little fucker as if he were aiming for a distance record. Without looking to see what sort of damage he inflicted, he turned and bolted for the door. It wouldn’t budge. It was as if the door was actually a life-like painting and the handle was a solid piece of wood. Panic threatened to strangle his thoughts. He turned and scrambled down a hallway, not knowing where it would lead him.
“Son of a cock!” Howard bellowed from the living room. “I just wanted to play and you loving boot me across the motherfucking room!” The baby grumbled something else, but Marche couldn’t hear him over the sound of his own breathing.
“Get back here, you piece of poo poo!”
Marche heard the sounds of bare infant feet pitter-pattering behind him. He banged his hip against the corner of the kitchen island and just barely caught himself against the lip. The sudden pain brought a sharp focus and he scanned the room. Without a second thought he snatched the biggest knife from the knife block and ran toward the backdoor. He slammed the knife handle into the window once with the strength of a man bolstered by desperation. His hand went numb and he almost dropped the knife from the bone jarring force. The glass might as well have been solid steel.
Howard was in the kitchen with him. Marche spun around, keeping the knife hidden behind him.
The baby stepped out from behind the kitchen island with the gun pointed at Marche’s chest.
+ M O R T I S +
Howard pulled on the trigger. Marche turned his head to the side and closed his eyes and waited for death.
Marche cracked open an eye and saw Howard struggling with the trigger. Seeing his only opening, Marche leaned into a dash, but before he could land his second step, Howard flew up. With a flash of ember coals for eyes, an intangible power arrested Marche’s momentum. He slowed to a stop just a foot away from the hovering infant.
He felt it this time. An invading thought sifting gently through his brain, a compulsion to love this adorable infant. Before it could fully take hold of his mind, Marche shifted his grip on the knife and the blade whistled through the air. The knife slid into the hovering baby with no resistance, the skin parting like rotting fruit.
Marche heard Harold in his head. “You stupid motherfucker. I just wanted to play,” The pitch and tone of his voice lowered, as if Harold was gargling rocks. “I see you have made your decision and seeing how it’s a stupid rear end decision, it’s t-”
Marche had no witty retort about bad guys and their monologues. He yanked the knife out and plunged it back into the demon’s head.
And Marche found himself in a child’s room. Standing in front of a crib. Body damp with sweat. Blood dripping from shaking fingers. A knife sticking out of a mutilated infant corpse. He heard sirens in the distance. The sound of a woman wailing just outside the window. Cynthia was her name, he numbly recalled.
He tried to remember the events of the day, but as he focused on them, his memories shifted. He met the parents, but there was no husband. Just a single mother. She didn’t come to his office, he saw her alone with a crying baby in the congression. He followed her, no, stalked her home. The dam holding back the true events of the night ruptured and everything came to him unbidden.
He didn’t want them. He shuddered. This isn’t real, he wanted to shout. I’m not crazy!
It didn’t matter what he thought in the end.
+ V E R U M +
It was 3 am when Marche’s cell opened. Inmates hate child killers.
|# ? Jun 30, 2019 14:38|
GriffGetsuya Brawl, judged by flerp.
Karen hated Philharmonica's more than anything. There were so many reasons to hate a grocery store called "Philharmonica's", but if you searched Karen's mind you'd find a rolodex of reasons you hadn't even thought of. Karen had built a sermon for her hate, and finally, she was back to proselytize.
The thing is, she thought, fingers drumming on steering wheel as she passed the gaudy billboard for Ron Rather's No Relation Gentleman's Club, same it had been ten years ago, except now it said "We support Venmo" at the bottom...
Right, she was getting sidetracked. The thing is, Phil can't even hold a note. Phil had started something in the neighborhood of twenty bands while they grew up together. He had a tendency to try something overly symphonic in the warmer months, Karen suspected that's when he'd gotten the idea to create Philharmonica's.
The winter months were reserved for Robert Smith/Rivers Cuomo mashups, at least until the idea had given him a black eye and a bandmate a drive so traumatic and furious he'd stepped away from a promising musical career and into the realms of personal injury litigation. One of the last things Phil had told Karen before she'd left town was that the world simply wasn't ready for the deep emotional experience of Cureweezer.
Jan's clinic, where they'd put down Kinsey when the cancer had spread and he got disoriented playing catch. "Windsor 4 You" on a flashing sign, where her dad had dropped her off after school, when he still had work at the office, so she could listen to uncle Windsor scream at the district attorney over the phone. Then they'd eat pop tarts and laugh themselves silly impersonating his voice.
And like a cancer spreading in an irish setter, the thought of loving Phil and how his god damned projects had overtaken the good memories of this town. His poetry had taken the place of her childhood boyfriend's voice, his far-fetched ideas of how to liberate animals through vibes had crushed the sight of her mother on the porch, sun setting behind her, hands deftly trimming the leaves off a basil stalk, the smell of Mediterranean cooking sprouting in her mind.
Vibes, that's all it is. People underestimate vibes, and I get it, I do. They think it's a new age concept, but it's not, it's as old as time itself.
Look. Come over here and look. You've got your sauce section, right? Glasses, bags, cartons. Powdered sauce, finished sauce, bases, condiments and all that. You think you're looking at a sauce section, right? No, you're looking at potential. You're looking at the vibrational energy of creativity. This right here is where you start, it's where everyone starts. The amateur chef? He'll wanna start easy, grab a korma off the shelf, add a few personal touches. The experienced chef? He'll smile to himself as he passes the sauces, and he'll remember all the hardships of reaching his pinnacle, and the vibrations of confidence and experience will spread throughout the very store itself, a blessing to us all.
Vibes, you see?
Is that Karen?
Uh, anyway. Have you read Aleister Crowley? Very interesting man, I used to believe he looked like Rasputin but it turns out he doesn't. Funny that. No, it is! Well, you'll get it in time. "We all grow like human plants", is what I say.
Yeah, you have to credit me if you use that in writing.
In any case, I've considered the diagrams and intricacies of magick in the design of Philharmonica's. When you step into my store, I want you to be filled with the energy of change, I want to see your face light up with wisdom and knowledge of the Mysteries. I haven't created a store, I've created a symphony.
poo poo. That is Karen.
She'd been sitting in the car for ten minutes, idling, thinking. Twice she'd seen Phil, staring out the windows at her.
He'd changed in six years. Flab had turned into a potbelly, wispy mustache into an equally wispy beard, eyes more sunken and face more gaunt. Whatever bullshit he was doing in the name of good vibes was taking years from him, and they were both still relatively young. He was dressed in a suit, some brown-grey thing that absorbed stains far more easily than any shop uniform. He looked like an rear end.
Karen sighed, turned the key in the ignition, and stepped out of her car. He was waiting for her now, behind the glass door. Every step of hers was a cartridge in a chamber, every breath of his fogged the glass. She closed her eyes, just for a moment as the doors opened, halted with the whine of servos, and then opened entirely.
"Oughta be careful about idling Karen," he said attempting a grin in the way one attempts to raise blinds in a hurricane.
"Haha, it's a joke, but-"
She was already walking past him, past the lone cashier, Hannah Bunks if she remembered right, past the customers in the queue.
"... Idling isn't just harmful for the environment, but the-"
Past the spices, organized by chakra proximity, past the shelf consisting entirely of silk wrapped oranges.
"... Very harmonies that make up our-"
"Yes?" he said, and there was a genuine fear in his voice now.
A soft hand on his cheek, "Close your eyes, this will be over quickly."
When Phil opened his eyes, he had to close them again. He didn't want to believe what he was seeing. The asparagus, oriented towards germany had been reoriented, the Feng Squash corner was pure chaos, the supplements, categorized by traditional humors, were organized by brand. By brand. And that was just the beginning.
Karen held the match underneath the blunt, gazing at the town from the lookout point where she'd kissed Henry Blank for the first time.
Good vibes now, she thought as she exhaled. Only good vibes now.
|# ? Jun 30, 2019 19:16|
Week 360 Submission
Prompt: Technology Gone Wrong tech gone wrong: domestication of dogs
The Wolves of Wotan's Hill
Ever since they had first migrated from the south several generations ago, the tribe at Wotan’s Hill had fought a bloody war with the wolves that had made the woods their hunting ground since time immemorial. The wolves were slowing losing the battle to the physically weaker but cunning and resourceful men, but recently their strategies had changed. Rather than compete for the same, dwindling hunting kills, or attack the well-armed hunters directly, the wolves began to become more opportunistic, waiting for large kills to be unguarded enough for the pack to rush in, tear away some meat, and retreat back into the icy forest. Occasionally, they would still snatch a careless child, unattended infant, or straggling elder, but these attacks would bring brutal reprisals. Each mauled human would only result in several new hunters wearing wolfskin mantles as a sign of their might. Each year the outlook grew darker, and the switch to scavenging only slowed the pack’s decline.
Everything changed with the birth of White Eyes. He was a runt, with pig white patches of fur around his eyes, making them seem supernaturally large. His unnatural appearance and small frame made him a pariah, and the pack abandoned him as soon as he was weaned, as there was not enough food to go around as it was, and certainly not enough to share with a freakish runt.
A child of the Wotan’s Hill tribe found the abandoned pup, and, in an act of childish mercy, began secretly feeding him scraps from her parents kills. White Eyes grew, never reaching the full size of his brothers and sisters, but reaching adolescence healthily and safely. The other humans would regularly drive him off, but his patron would always find him not far away, bringing a portion of her meal for him to share.
Thus, when one of White Eyes’s cousins, himself driven mad with hunger after being chased from the pack for challenging the leader, attacked the girl, White Eyes had little compunction against defending his savior. Despite being outclassed by his full size relative, White Eyes managed to hold off the attacker long enough for the girl to raise the alarm. The tribes people rushed out yelling and hurling spears, and the larger wolf was wounded, and retreated into the forest. From then on White Eyes was welcome in the village, and would accompany them on hunts. Soon, more and more pups would be abandoned near the village, their parents trying to give even their weakest offspring a chance at this new kind of life.
Generations passed for the wolves, and the pack of the village grew even larger than the pack in the wild. The girl who first cared for White Eyes went on to become the elder of Wotan’s Hill, and even after her death, an effigy of her, with a hand on White Eyes, the father of all dogs, would grace the center of the village.
As the snows slowly thawed and retreated north, so did the wild wolves. However, from the south, more and more humans moved north into newly fertile land, threatening to squeeze out the people of Wotan’s Hill just as they had pushed out the wolves so long ago. In response, the people of the village began breeding their companions purposefully, selecting the largest and most vicious to have the first pick of mates. The dogs of Wotan’s Hill became feared among their new neighbors. To make peace, the nearby villages would bring offerings of food and supplies to the shrine of the Wolf Mother and White Eyes.
Having true abundance for the first time, and growing fat off the tributes of their neighbors, the people of Wotan’s Hill expanded their reach, breeding larger and larger fighting hounds, and terrorizing communities up to a full days travel away. The pride of the village was one Dragon-Bear, a massive dog with his shoulders easily reaching the same level as a man, with a thick coat that could turn away all but the sharpest spears, and canine teeth the size of a man’s hand. Dragon-Bear had killed as many as 50 humans, from upstarts trying to challenge the social order of the village, to mighty hunters from rival settlements, and even souls merely unfortunate enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when Wotan’s Hill needed to teach a lesson. Dragon-Bear was the undisputed leader of the dog pack, and answered only to the chief of the village, himself coming on in years and slowed down from several wounds.
One day Dragon-Bear coveted a large haunch of meat being eaten by the chief's grandson. When the boy, barely into his twelfth year, tried to shoo him off dismissively, Dragon-Bear gave him a warning snap, taking a finger in the process. The chief was outraged, and began beating his hound with a large stick, driving him from the fire. Dragon-Bear was no fool, and swallowed his pride for the moment, surrounded by armed and angry hunters, but he did not forget his humiliation.
That night, after the people of Wotan’s Hill had fallen asleep, he waited till the wee hours of the morning, he quietly roused those of his pack who were more loyal to him than to their human masters. Dragon-Bear would no longer be a servant to a weaker creature, and the untold years of selective breeding that had made him had created a beast far beyond his lupine ancestors in strength and cunning. As the coals of the fires dimmed slowly in the night, Dragon-Bear and his people fell upon the tribe of Wotan’s Hill, and any dogs that stayed loyal to the doomed humans. The nearby villages woke while it was still dark to the screams of their former oppressors, winding through the hills and piercing the forest. When they gathered their courage to investigate, nearly a full day later, they would find a scene of carnage and destruction, where only the effigy in the center still stood, soaked in the blood of its descendants.
|# ? Jun 30, 2019 23:05|
Florence and The Sword of Valkur
Florence heard the merfolk screaming their anger from the black water of the bay, and shuddered with fear. The blustery autumn wind carried the smell of rotting fish, and storm clouds hung heavy over the village. She banged on the door of the dilapidated church. The symbol of Valkur, a sword crossed with a shipwright’s hammer, was faintly visible on the sodden wood.
The village crouched on its rocky shore, the people huddling inside the ramshackle wooden buildings. Hurriedly doused cooking fires spluttered and smoked. From the shingle beach wooden jetties jutted into the bay, oiled hemp netting dividing the sea between into a patchwork of pens that seethed with fish. Boxes of salt cod were stacked and waiting for the next merchant caravan. The water stank. Boats previously used for fishing were piled with muck and diseased fish, ready to be taken out beyond the bay’s narrow mouth and dumped into the ocean currents.
The merfolk stalked from the shallows, beating their claws in time with the screeching of their harsh voices.
Suddenly the door yielded to Florence’s frantic banging and she almost fell onto Gerrah. The older man had donned his robes, the edges threadbare and the white fabric gone grey with age.
“What are you doing?” said Florence. “The merfolk are coming, we’ve got to get everyone out of here!”
“Do you think I can’t hear them!” Gerrah said, re-barring the door from the inside. “I warned them, but would that fool Crannighan listen, no! He turned his eyes from Valkur and abused the bay that’s fed this village for generations.” Gerrah returned to his kneeling stool before the altar. A small fire of fragrant herbs burned in a copper bowl, its light reflecting off a sword hanging on the wall above.
“Let’s see what good all his merchant gold does him now,” Gerrah muttered, as another round of screams and a clatter of sharp claws echoed from the beach.
This time the screams were answered by men’s loud shouts. “Those fools intend to fight, we can’t just sit here and do nothing!” Florence said.
“If you wish to help then come, kneel! Valkur will protect them, if he sees fit.” As he spoke Gerrah turned his face from Florence, his arthritic fingers gripping his knees. Florence could see his thin shoulders trembling.
The firelight danced on the blade hanging above the altar. They said it was Valkur’s sword, a powerful talisman that would protect all those that lived off the sea. Florence knew it was a fake, its edges dull.
Outside she heard a child crying. Florence ran to the door and heaved off the bar. Marta was standing in the middle of the dirt street, her daughter Cera clutched protectively behind her. Two merfolk, both male, stalked up the street towards her. Their round mouths showed double rows of pointed teeth, and the claws on their webbed fingers were pointed at Marta.
Fake it might be but it was all Florence had. She yanked the sword from its iron brackets and ran into the street, placing herself between Marta and the merfolk.
“Get inside,” Florence said.
Marta dragged the sobbing Cera for the door and the merfolk charged. With a howl Florence swung, catching the first across the chest. The blunt sword-tip scraped across his scales. Florence swore, and ran.
She was faster than the merfolk, but she made sure she kept the sounds of pursuit in earshot as she followed the rocky track down to the beach. Crannighan and the other men were brandishing torches and makeshift weapons at the merfolk who stood in the churning shallows.
A female stepped forward. She ran her hand across the scales on her belly and held it up, fingers spread wide, to display the muck that dripped from them. Then she stooped, dipping her hand under the water and coming up with a fistful of stinking mud, which she hurled at the men.
Crannighan swore at the sand and fish poo poo that splattered across his tunic. With a shout he shoved Bran, Marta’s husband, in the back. Bran yelled and ran forward, brandishing a filleting knife. The merwoman slashed out Bran’s throat with one sweep of her claws, and he crumpled onto the shingle at her feet.
With a prayer to Valkur Florence raised the sword above her head and charged at the merwoman. The creature hissed through her pointed teeth, claws held ready. A flash of lightning lit the storm clouds. Florence met the merwoman’s eyes. They were deep and black like the water beyond the bay. The bay, which stank of rot. Florence remembered how, as a child, she had dived for shellfish and harvested seaweed from the rock pools at low tide. Now, no one touched the water save Crannighan’s men. Thunder rumbled, and at the last moment Florence turned her sword. It was too heavy for her to stop its swing, and the steel clanged against the rocks by the merwoman’s feet. The sound rang out like a huge bell and Florence’s arms trembled with the impact.
“Kill her!” screamed Crannighan. The men advanced in a tight knot, makeshift weapons trembling with fear and anger. On the other side of Bran’s corpse the merfolk hissed and flexed their claws.
Another flash of lightning split the sky. The clouds opened and freezing rain swept down the beach. One of the men let fly a handax. It hit the merwoman, opening a deep gash in her arm. The merfolk screamed, and charged.
“Stop it!” yelled Florence, but her voice was drowned by another roll of thunder. She raised the sword. The raindrops sang as they hit the blade, like the chiming of bells. Florence looked at the pens, their oil from the nets seeping into the water, the fish churning in their stinking prisons.
Florence sprinted for the jetty. Her boots thundered on the wet planks and she dragged the sword through the water. The blade seemed to hum as it hit the nets, slicing through the thick hemp as if it were nothing but seaweed. The fish surged forward in the sword’s wake, pouring through the gaps and out into the bay.
At the end of the jetty Florence stopped and watched the fish spill out into the bay like a river of silver. Cold rain ran down her back and plastered her hair to her face. Beneath her feet she saw dark shapes in the water. The merwoman broke the surface, her uninjured hand raised, just for a moment, and then they were gone.
On the beach the men were shouting and hugging each other. Marta was on the shingles, collapsed beside her husband’s broken form, Gerrah kneeling beside her. Florence saw Crannighan standing alone, watching the last of the fish wriggle free of his nets. The rain stopped, yet she could still hear the sword, singing softly like distant bells. She hefted the blade, and its edges gleamed.
|# ? Jun 30, 2019 23:32|
john the inventor
John ran away from flames that were hot on his heels! If only he’d listened to the old crone who’d warned him not to offend God and nature with his meddling! But it was too late for that now!
He ran faster, but things kept exploding! A burning mirror flew by and John noticed his own handsome reflection. He wore a top hat and frock coat that had gears sewn into them. His boots and pants also were covered in gears. He was an inventor.
The explosion got louder and John’s whole house was up in flames! I have to run faster, thought John, or it will all be over! “I’ve got it!” he shouted. He quickly removed a special gear from his pocket that he’d been working on inventing all night. It just might work!
Just before the explosion killed him, John expertly attached the gear to the heel of his boot. It clicked into place just like clockwork. The gear turned, and John suddenly had a burst of speed!
He ran so fast that the explosion faded behind him and he was suddenly in a different part of the city! “What a relief!” exclaimed John. “I’m glad I am away from the explosion, but also sad about the loss of my wife and child who were inside my house!” A tear rolled down John’s cheek as he thought about some memories.
Then he nodded with resolution! “I will sell my invention so that they did not die in vain!”
He knocked on the door of the building which he was standing next to. A sign on the door said “Patent office!”
“My God, a talking sign!” observed John. “There must truly be great inventors in this city! I am in the right place!”
Inside there was a clerk who had big white hair. “Are you here to sell a new invention!?” inquired the clerk, and John replied: “Yes!”
“What is the invention?!” the clerk asked.
“It is this gear, which increases my speed!” explained John.
The clerk spat at him! “That is the stupidest, most worthless invention I have ever been forced to look at! If I were in charge of things I would have you executed!”
John frowned unhappily at the clerk’s words, because they were contrary to his hopes of selling his new invention. “Why do you say that, good sir?” he asked, interestedly.
“Because, you deranged scab, no one would ever want to move faster! What do you think we are, animals who must chase our food? You idiot! Man was meant by God to walk at a moderate pace! Are you a pagan, you satan worshiping filth? Do you murder children also, and drink their blood? Answer me you puss-filled boil! You stain!” The clerk was very put out!
The word ‘God’ made John he remember another time he heard that word recently. It was the day before, while he was drinking the blood of a baby he’d just murdered and was standing in the center of a pentagram. Red and black candles surrounded him, and a foul incense that smelled of tar was burning. It was just then that he’d got the idea for his invention! It was also at that same exact moment that a bedraggled old crone had peered around the corner of the dark and filthy alley where he stood and said “Do not offend God and nature with your meddling!”
What an odd coincidence, to hear the same word two days in a row! Thought John. But back to business! “Don’t be so quick to discount its use!” John rebutted. “This invention can be helpful for escaping explosions!”
“Abomination! Explosions are created by God and should not be perverted by science!” The clerk was angry! “How dare you spit in the face of religion! How dare you smear poo poo on purity itself with your depravity!”
Hmm, thought John, how to win him over? He decided to use logic. “If God is so good, why do explosions kill so many people?” John asked cleverly. If anyone else had been there, they would have stood up and clapped!
“Because people are evil filth who should be wiped from the Earth!” the clerk said angrily. “They all belong in hell, me included! I pray for more explosions every night before I flog myself unconscious!”
John suddenly had the most clever thought of his life. It was so smart he could barely understand it himself--but it just might work! “If I sell this invention to another office,”John posited carefully, “many more people will be able to outrun explosions.” He held up a slender, handsome finger. “But! If you buy it from me, you can destroy it, and thusly reason states therefore that it follows logically that more people will die in explosions!”
The clerk was stunned! He stared with open mouth and his face went white, and he shook all over and wobbled on his feet! He pulled at his big white hair and moaned, then he sat down and stared blankly for two hours while John smiled and nodded!
Then the clerk said: “You are right! I will purchase your invention and destroy it! How much is it, please I must have it!”
“Five bux,” demanded John, “So I can buy a new avatar.”
The clerk nodded and tears poured down his cheeks as he wrote a check with shaking hands. He offered it to John who was about to take it when suddenly someone came in the door. It was the old crone!!
“I warned you not to offend God and nature with your meddling!” she cackled. “How dare you accept money for that evil machine!”
“I’ll tell you why!” shouted John. “Because I, the inventor, am more valuable than your God and my ideas are worth more than your petty manual labor!” John opened a very heavy, thick book he always kept in his coat pocket, kissed it, and read from it: “The machine, the frozen form of a living intelligence, is the power that expands the potential of your life by raising the productivity of your time. If you worked as a blacksmith in the Middle Ages, the whole of your earning capacity would consist of an iron bar produced by your hands in days and days of effort! How many tons of rail do you produce per day if you work for Hank Rearden? Would you dare to claim that the size of your paycheck was created solely by your physical labor and that those rails were the product of your muscles? The standard of living of that blacksmith is all that your muscles are worth; the rest is a gift from Hank Rearden!”
Upon hearing this the crone nodded. “All my life has been a confused lie!” she said. The clerk also was nodding. “Thank you, inventor!” he said.
John’s heart swelled with pride, and he smiled at the five dollar check, which was proof that his ideas had worth. He had proved everyone wrong! Especially his dead wife and child, who had constantly whined for his time to be given freely as if it had no value.
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 01:28|
Beneath The Rust
The truce with the Valleyfolk would expire soon, and Shaunte thought a cat hunt might distract her from the worry. Plus, if she captured one, she wouldn’t have to stomach another night of Latrelle’s steamed cat eyes. Hunting was an offering to D’hovak Village, so hunters were forbidden to dine on the last sort of animal they brought in.
Before long, Shaunte discovered feline tracks. She followed them past the spring, through the pine forest, then far across the milkweed groves to the greenbogs. Shaunte lost the trail there amidst the sulfurous plumes and burbling pea-green ponds, but her eye did catch a glint in the dirt several feet away. She recognized it as one of Latrelle’s necklace beads. Did that mean…?
Shaunte raced across the greenbogs until she saw movement behind a thicket of trees. There she found Latrelle’s brother, Dante, leaned over and weeping from his cloudy eyes.
“When did it happen?”
“This morning. Choked on roast cat. Tried to help him, but couldn’t see.”
Shaunte felt her heart freeze over. Having lost Latrelle could mean death, for he had been the wisest among them, leader, doctor, and war chief. He’d also been the last who could remember before The Rust. Last except Dante.
“You brought his body here yourself?”
“Set in him these bogs right away. No food for worms, not Latrelle. Bogs will keep him.”
“You shouldn’t be out here by yourself.”
Dante dismissed Shaunte with a hand wave. “I known these bogs longer than you been born. Ain’t nothing here changed since before then.” He walked in D’hovak’s general direction.
Shaunte knew the bogs too, and as she watched Dante set off, she spotted something out-of-place poking from the ground. Something Dante wouldn’t know to avoid.
“Dante! Watch your step.”
“Child, how am I supposed to do that?” said Dante. He kept walking. When his foot grazed the protrusion, he managed to keep his balance. Shaunte caught up to him.
“I think..? Dante, is this metal?” Kneeling, Shaunte dug her hands into the earth.
“Metal ain’t worth a thing rusted through.”
“I don’t see any rust at all.” Shaunte excavated it. “Feel this. What do you think it is?”
Dante took the metal and ran his hand across it.
“Smooth. How the Hell this thing avoid The Rust?” Dante thought for a moment. “Been a long time, but this feels like a pan. A shallow one, missing its handle. But put a fire under this and you could cook a few cats at once. ‘Specially if you had the lid.”
“I’ll look.” Shaunte kept digging. Soon, she found an orange plastic handle, which she gave to Dante. When he held the handle in one hand and the metal in the other, Dante pondered a moment, then scoffed.
“Bury this again,” he told Shaunte. “Better yet, throw it into the bogs.”
“This ain’t no pan.” Dante held the metal and plastic parts away from each other. “Used to be there’d be a part connecting these two, like a wooden stick. Probly rotted away by now. This here’s a shovel, for digging deep holes.” He shook his head. “Ain’t nothing good never happened since shovels got made. Why you think we fight with sticks and stones anymore ‘stead of swords? The Rust came after we dug too deep. Get rid of it.” Dante tossed Shaunte the shovel pieces.
“I fix this shovel and dig deep enough, you think I’ll find Latrelle beneath the bogs? Without him, the Valleyfolk will win.”
“He’s gone, child.”
“What do you mean, ‘gone’? That’s why we set people in the bogs, isn’t it? So they’ll keep in the land underneath. You telling me that’s all made up?”
“Ceremony for Latrelle is tonight,” replied Dante. With that, he walked back toward D’hovak.
Shaunte knew the best way to honor Latrelle was to bring him back, not eulogize him. So she put stone to branch and shaped a stick that would fit both parts of the shovel. Then, she returned to the greenbogs and started digging.
Two days later, the hole was deep, and the bogs nearby had bubbled higher than Shaunte had ever seen. She was resting, drinking water from her flask when Dante called for her.
“Whatchu still doing out here? Better not be digging no holes.” Dante continued, “D'hovak gonna raid The Valley before they raid us. Need every able body. Get back there and join up.”
“Every able body,” Shaunte repeated. “That’s why I’m digging. “We’re gonna need the ones we lost.”
“You listen to your elders, hear me? I know things. I been around. Before The Rust, I worked jobs I ain’t gonna say cuz you wouldn’t even know what in the Hell they’d mean. When I say we need you, we need you. Now.”
“I’m helping the best way I can.” With that, Shaunte got back to digging.
“No telling what evils that lurk in that ground, child. First The Rust. What comes next?”
“If the stories you’ve always told me are true, the dead also lurk there. Why tell me stories if you don’t have the courage to believe them yourself?”
Three days later, the hole was deeper than Shaunte thought the earth went, and the swelling greenbogs threatened to pour into it. Dante shambled up, bloodied.
“The Valley...they came at night. Only let me go with a beating on account of my eyes.”
“What do you want from me?” asked Shaunte.
“Come help! Help fight, help...clean up the bodies, oh god, I can picture it in my head.”
“I am helping.”
“Child, they killing us!” Dante lumbered toward the pit.
“Stay back,” said Shaunte. “I made a huge hole; you’ll fall in.”
“They killing us,” Dante repeated.
Dante tumbled over the hole’s edge. Shaunte had only enough time to dive below the old man to try to soften his fall.
Bones snapped, both D’hovaki groaned. Then Dante rolled forward, fanning an arm out in search of the shovel.
Too injured to stand, Shaunte dragged herself after him. Dante’s arm hit the shovel. He grabbed it. Shaunte pulled close. They grappled for it, its tip dragging against the ground, digging slightly deeper.
Just then, a massive rusting erupted from the pit’s broken floor. The shovel’s head corroded, wasted half-away like ice in early springtime. And the bog bubbled over, spilling into the hole.
She didn’t know how long she’d slept, but when she awoke, Shaunte found herself fully healed, somehow, in a steam-filled emerald cavern. Far in the distance, she heard the chanting of elders. Shaunte made her way through winding tunnels to reach the sound. When she grew close, the cavern opened to a wide furnace, and there was Dante, Latrelle, and countless old men and women sitting on benches, working metal and singing D’hovak oldchant in unison.
Dante cast clear eyes on Shaunte and waved her to the bench he shared with Latrelle. When she got there, Latrelle hooted, removed his necklace, and placed it on her. It was missing a bead, but in its place was a silver cat’s eye. Shaunte clutched it and smiled.
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 03:05|
Sometimes They Really Are Out to Get You
Agent Mark Farrel fingered the switch on his loudspeaker like he was stroking the trigger of a gun. In front of him, past the barricade of parked police cars, loomed the Fire of Liberty cult's headquarters, commonly referred to as 'The Ranch'. Mark wondered if it was looming for anyone else, or just for him.
The Fire of Liberty would have been hard for an FBI specialist in cults like Mark to tell apart from the crowd - it seemed each of these groups had a 'The Ranch' and the foamy-mouthed ramblings of all the charismatic pastors tended to bleed together after a few years - only, the Fire of Liberty had a special place in Mark's memory. It was the cult that had raised him.
Agent Adams, the lead on the current hostage situation, waved him up closer to the defensive line of police and FBI vehicles behind which a platoon of blue-coated officers were crouching.
"You sure you're up for this Farrel?" Adams asked. She was looking at him like any good agent would, given the situation, as an unknown number that could either make or break the case. "You know what you can say to this guy to get him to let go of those hostages?"
Mark gave a curt but firm nod.
"I grew up listening to this guy preaching. I know how he thinks and what's important to him. He wants the attention more than he wants the hostages. I think we'll be able to de-escalate things once he sees he can come out as top dog without ending up a martyr," he said. He had practiced the line a thousand times on the drive over, so it slipped out smooth as silk. Adams bought it, and returned his nod, waving him forward.
Mark stood, took a deep breath, and pressed the switch on the megaphone.
"Pastor David, this is Agent Mark Farrel of the FBI. I'm here to talk to you about how we can work this all out peacefully," he said.
"I remember you." The voice of Pastor David Smitty - just 'Pastor David' to his flock - also came through a megaphone, because of course he would have a megaphone. When he heard that voice, Mark squeezed his finger on the megaphone convulsively, making it bleat with feedback.
"Little Mark Farrel. Left the flock 20 years ago to suck on Satan's teat and now you're back to spew his poison at us," Pastor David continued.
There was a pause as Mark waited for the shuddering of his body to stop. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Adams giving him a 'well? say something' look, so he swallowed and raised the megaphone again.
"Listen, I know I didn't part on good terms with you or the other members, but-" he started, but a stream of amplified ranting cut him off.
"You shut your mouth before Satan fills it with any more lies to sling at us!"
It was going about as well as Mark had imagined. Soon Adams would realize this was not a good plan and drag him away to be replaced by a much better negotiator. He had to act now. The thought of the children and elderly in the compound briefly crossed Mark's mind, but he knew they would all claim to be willing to die for Pastor David. So, today, they would.
"Look out, he's going to shoot!" Mark yelled, 'accidentally' letting his voice pass through the megaphone to echo through the entire compound.
All he needed was a single shot, and with trigger-happy yahoos on both sides, he got it. He wasn't sure which side the first gunshot came from, but its echo hadn't faded before a deafening staccato of gunfire filled the air and drowned out breath and thought. As glass and sparks flew around him, Mark dropped down behind the tire of one of the nearby police cars for safety, hugging the megaphone to his chest with white-knuckled fingers.
* * *
The fighting ended when Pastor David himself fell. This broke the morale of his followers sufficiently that they surrendered, allowing for a surprising amount of both believers and hostages to make it out alive, considering the circumstances. Mark knew once the dust completely settled he would be dragged in front of the media and his superiors at the FBI, but he would deal with that when it came. At the moment, he was looking down at the fallen figure of Pastor David.
Looking over his shoulders to ensure no one was currently looking in his direction, he gingerly extended his leg to place the toe of his boot to the pastor's scruffily bearded cheek. Slowly applying pressure, he twisted his foot, grinding the pastor's face into the carpet.
Then he let out a long, shuddering breath.
And, finally, he took his finger off the trigger of his megaphone.
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 03:19|
Caranya’s Folly: An Oral History
I ask the souls of speakers past to guide my tongue that I might tell this story as it was told to me. My words are the words of my ancestors, and I vow that I shall not misuse them.
A long time ago and many generations past, all the lands of the Great River and its lesser sisters were ruled by King Caranya, called then ‘the Young’ and now ‘the Unwise’. He was the thirty-third in his royal lineage, and wore proudly his divine ancestry. In the reign of his uncle, King Tala, called sometimes ‘the Kind’ and elsewise ‘Flame-Hair’, many ruthless men had turned to banditry and piracy, and trade between the cities suffered greatly. The new king swore his coronation vow to pacify the land, and so raised ten thousand men to destroy the bandits. And yet for every bandit this mighty army killed, another would take his place.
One day, the king received news that his army had captured an infamous bandit prince, and at this he rejoiced, for he hoped that it might finally change his fortunes. He commanded that the bandit prince be brought before him before his execution, for the king wished to exult in his victory.
“Why have you brought me before you, my king?” asked the bandit. “Do you wish my counsel?”
At this the king was shocked. “What insolence is this?” he cried. “Why would I heed the counsel of a bandit?”
“You have received counsel from worse men, I think,” replied the bandit, “for you have been deceived into pursuing a war that cannot be won by any man, commoner or king.”
These words gave the king pause, for he had begun to doubt the wisdom of his actions. “And why is that?” he asked. “Why is there no end to ruthless men who will prey upon my lands?”
“I will tell you,” answered the bandit, “if you will spare my life and exile me past the eastern mountains, never to return so long as you reign.”
The audacity of this request shocked the king. “And why should I accept the oath of a bandit?” he asked.
“A bandit I may be,” his prisoner replied, “but banditry is a crime against men, whose justice is uncertain. Oath-breaking is a crime against the gods, whose justice is not.” The king knew this to be true, and so agreed, desperate to hear the bandit’s secret. “The truth, my king, is that ruthless men are not born but made, and banditry cannot be ended with spears alone. Only when the people are content shall it end.”
The king considered the bandit’s answer for five days and five nights, and then convened his council. He told them of what he had learned, and asked his advisors why the people were not content.
All among the council agreed that the principal cause of discontent was injustice, but none agreed on its source. The nobles blamed the merchants, the merchants blamed the priests, and the priests blamed the nobles, for each faction believed itself the victim of another.
For another five days and five nights the king considered these answers, and then he convened his council once more.
“If all among you believe yourselves the victims of injustice,” said the king, “then I believe that the law must be to blame. My conclusion is that the law itself is uncertain, and must be written down, so that all men might know their rights and duties.”
This pronouncement shocked the council, for the law had never been written. The full ten thousand verses were known only to the lawspeakers, who dedicated their lives to its study and transmission. For a hundred generations it had been thus, since the day the Red Queen fell from Heaven and taught the secrets of law to mankind, long before the first king ruled.
Some among the council were offended by the king’s pronouncement, but more supported him, for they had long been jealous of the power of the lawspeakers, and believed that written laws would vindicate their claims against their rivals.
One who did not support the king was the princess Tulyuro, who was his mother and his lawspeaker. “Please, my son,” she cried, “do not blaspheme thus! To carve the law into crude symbols upon base materials is to sully a divine gift, for while speech was granted to us by the gods, writing is the mere tool of man. If the law is written, every man will try to bend it to his will, and justice will be made subordinate to the whims of men. No good can come of this, but only ill, and I must beg you to reconsider.”
His mother’s words moved the king, for he saw the wisdom in them and knew the value of filial loyalty. But those who wished the see the law written turned him against her, telling the king that she desired only to preserve her own power at the expense of her son’s glory. They told him that he would be remembered as a great king if he wrote down the law and thus ended the reign of the bandits, but as a bad one if he succumbed to them. Thus was the king seduced by his own vanity.
The princess accepted not the king’s decision and was imprisoned, but other lawspeakers were cowed by threat and force of arms, and thus were the ten thousand verses of law written down. Upon reading the laws, the king and his advisors judged them inadequate, and so compounded their blasphemy by altering them. The lawspeakers, now unneeded, were replaced by magistrates, who were to interpret and apply the king’s law.
Whereas a lawspeaker would recite those verses of law that best served justice, the magistrates were forced to consider every verse presented to them, and were thus overwhelmed by argument. Men interpreted the law as they wished, for it was no longer divine but base, just as the princess had warned. And thus was the kingdom consumed by disorder, for no ruling could satisfy those who believed themselves to know best.
Even the king’s judgements were no longer sacrosanct, and thus King Caranya met his death by the hand of a nobleman who cried of injustice as he slaughtered him. Upon his death, his three cousins made war upon each other to seize the throne, for each believed himself the rightful successor under the written law. And across the eastern mountains the bandit prince returned.
Thus ends the tale of Caranya’s folly and his kingdom’s destruction. As it was told to me by my grandmother, so I have told it to you. But you will be the last to hear it, for I have no apprentice, and this modern version of Caranya’s folly extends beyond law into history. Why spend a lifetime remembering what can simply be read? I have consented to your recording my words only because I believe it is better that they exist in this base form than be lost entirely. And thus our history will be preserved, stripped of power and meaning, but perhaps by its bones our children will come to know what they have lost.
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 04:55|
Fresh, Sanitary, Convenient
Alice's day begins with a fresh set of coveralls. All the preludes -- alarm clocks, oatmeal, the elevated train -- fall away in the locker room as she changes. The cheerful sky blue of her coveralls welcomes her to the day; the feeling of crisp, plasticized linen against her skin tells her it's time to work. The coveralls make her useful.
The Easylectrics factory walls are covered with murals of useful women: slim wives with their heels and pearls, dancing through ultramodern Easylectrics kitchens, preparing perfect dinners and party-ready desserts with a press of a button. The work on the factory line isn't much more complicated than that, and after an hour or two of snapping blender parts together, Alice starts to have the warm, satisfied feeling that the Easylectrics Women must have: the feeling of perfect ease, of perfect mastery. She's used to her heavy work gloves, and the smell of steel and machine oil is downright modern. There's a paper plant on the edge of the city, a cannery on the docks. Alice works in the best of all possible worlds.
There are whispers, though, among the smokers on the loading docks and over coffee in the break room. Sales on the older models are sluggish, and the newer models have too many QC rejects. The inspectors on those lines are being retrained, but if they can't do volume by Christmas, who knows? Alice doesn't ask. The one time she did, her supervisor smiled his sad grandfatherly smile and told her not to worry, so she tries her best to do as he's told her.
After work (and a locker-room shower, and another day's coveralls sent down the laundry chute), Alice walks to Sal's Automat, across from the train station. She's greeted as always by shining white tile and chrome-framed windows, a dozen dinners waiting for her to choose. Tonight she picks meatloaf, broccoli, and a heavy slice of peach cobbler. Alice finds a quiet booth near the window, watching the crowd swarming into the train station: workers, mostly, but a few students from St. Stephen's, and a handful of businessmen from the law offices. When Alice sees men like that, in neat suits and polished shoes, she can only see them in their easy chairs at home, smoking contentedly as their Easylectrics Wives bring them highballs. What a life it must be, to be served that way! It's good to be useful, but it's better to be served; the automat gives her a taste of that, at least. It's as sweet as the cobbler.
It can't last. There's work waiting for her at home; it's Wednesday, which means it's time to scrub the bathtub and sink, then mop the bathroom floor. After that, folding laundry and listening to the radio; after that, sleep, with the sweet smell of soap and vinegar lingering in her room. Her Wednesday-night dreams will be of a bathroom where every surface is streak-free, polished mirror-glass -- cleaner than her scrubbing could ever make it -- impossible, but more lovely for it. It's good to have something aspire to.
In October, the North Wing of the factory is blocked off for construction, and the screaming of the power tools spreads throughout the factory. Alice puts in earplugs. A few of the newer hires walk off the line, but the supervisor is all smiles; "there's something new coming," he says, "a new opportunity." There are curveballs on the line: non-standard assemblies, tasks that take Alice a few seconds of conscious thought to correctly assemble. It's been a long time since she's had to think, and thinking makes her worry. Is this some kind of test? Being tested, Alice knows, means being found wanting. She eats more quickly at the automat every night -- she doesn't deserve to linger -- and cleans her apartment more, hoping for those mirror-sheen dreams.
In January, after months of waiting for the hammer to fall, Alice finds a letter left in her locker on top of her clean coveralls. The envelope is printed with an Easylectrics Woman, her teeth and pearls highlighted with white ink in cream paper, a telephone receiver in one slender hand. Royal-blue text reads A SPECIAL INVITATION FOR YOU! Inside, the letter is simple: that she's been selected for a new pilot program, and to report to the North Wing first thing in the morning.
She's halfway there before she realizes the construction noise is gone. Even after she takes her earplugs out, the factory is silent.
The doors of the North Wing are thrown open. What was once a large machine room has been turned into something like a silo, a tall cylinder with narrow metal stairs and walkways. The walls are covered with rows of doors, frosted glass edged in chrome -- automat doors on a human-sized scale -- and bright posters between them. EASYLECTRICS CUSTOMERS WANT THE CUTTING EDGE, says the first one Alice can read. EASYLECTRICS WORKERS ARE READY TO PROVIDE!
Alice steps into the center of the room. She's alone, she thinks, and then she sees the dark human shapes behind the frosted glass. The next poster boasts of the ReadyWorker system offering sleep retraining -- NEVER BE OBSOLETE!, underlined in red. It's an automat for people, workers waiting for deployment, waiting to be chosen.
Alice realizes, with a sudden warm certainty, that she's been wrong all along. It's good to be useful, like the Easylectrics Women, and it's good to be served, like their husbands in their easy chairs -- but it's best of all to be chosen, to be wanted, like the peach cobbler behind an automat door. Alice has never dreamed of anything better.
The first empty stall is on the third level of the silo; she's late to her special invitation, she realizes, but she's sure she'll be forgiven. The stall door opens near-silently, just the soft sound of the rubber seal being broken. Inside, there's a single green button. The Easylectrics world is effortless.
Alice pushes the button. There's a faint pneumatic whoosh of the door sealing again, and then the gas flows in: clean white, smelling of lavender, the scent of perfect cleanliness.
Alice dances through dreams of machines, and every surface shines mirror-bright.
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 05:14|
flerp fucked around with this message at 01:50 on Oct 11, 2019
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 05:17|
No More Lighthouses
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 08:39 on Jan 4, 2020
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 05:57|
No True Lover
word count: 1250
Down on a cobbled street a book lays in a puddle, on its front cover a yellow and green lion with a fierce orange mane stares up at the night sky. A troop of grey cloaked men carry boxes filled with books from a timber framed house. They march down the street, in the town’s square, where a bonfire is burning and a crowd gathering. But across from the house, hidden behind an unlit lamp post, is a young street urchin with a shock of blonde hair jutting out of a hole in her woolen cap. She watches the men at the door of the timber framed house, biting her lower lip.
Don’t worry Mr. Lion, I’ll come and save you. She thinks, but even after the train of men has ended the two standing before the opened door of the timber framed house never move, all the while the book grows ever darker. Panic begins to well up inside of her, she must act, but if they catch her trying to steal a book she’s likely to be thrown into the fire along with the Lion. Desperate she looks around, uncertain what she is looking for until her eyes land upon a broken cobblestone. She snatches up the smaller fragment, the one she can easily handle, and slinks around to the side of the house. There a window she has come to know very well, which leads into the workshop of the man who lives in the timber framed house, is lit with candle light.
“I’m sorry Mr. Dumont,” she whispers and then launches the stone. Glass shatters, there are shouts both from outside and within the house, but by the time anyone has run around to the window the little urchin has slipped around the other side and snatched up the book. Don’t worry, Mr. Lion, I’ll keep you nice and dry.
It isn’t long before she hears angry voices coming from the town’s square. Mr. Dumont. Hesitantly she approaches the crowd, clutching the book tightly between her arms.
A red robed man with gold filigree stands before the flames, raising his hands to heaven, shouting over the murmuring crowd. “In the beginning there was the WORD and the WORD was good! For hundreds of years mankind was obedient to the Word. For it was rarer than gold, Priests speak their days copying by hand each blessed line, copying even the smudges made a hundred years before! And because we cherished the Word, we lived in peace. We lived in harmony with each other.”
“That’s a lie!” A bespeckled man shouts, he pulls himself forward but is held in place by two grey cloaked men. “The Word tells us that there was always strife, always wars!”
“Blasphemy!” The red robed man draws out. “All here can attest to the truth, we are not an illiterate people as you well know, Mr. Dumont. The Word is made freely available for all to read at their leisure.”
“Not all of the Word, only those parts of the Word you wish for us to see!”
A man in the crowd laughs, soon other join in.
“How do any of you know that what I am saying is a lie? You’ve never read any of these books which you are about to burn. You have no idea what knowledge is contained within them!”
“We know all we need to know, Mr. Dumont. We know the Word. And if that weren’t good enough for us, then we have our own eyes and ears, for we can look beyond the gates of our fair village and see the madness that lies beyond! A world rife with all kinds of filthy rabble, of lurching beasts, and of great perversions!”
“We only see madness because it is all we are told of, we have come to believe in it, and so it has become. The world is not dark and terrorful, there is wonder, magic, and love beyond our walls.”
The street urchin, hiding in the shadows, perks up at Mr. Dumont’s words. She looks down at her book, at the yellow and green lion with an orange mane. Her fingers run over the title of the book.
She slips the book open and begins to tear the pages out, stuffing them into her pockets.
“I have done nothing wrong! I sought to save these books, because they are beautiful, because they are special, because they are the truth!”
“You have built the demon Gutenberg’s machine, you have sought to corrupt the minds and hearts of our citizens, and for this you say that you have done nothing wrong?”
“Gutenberg was no demon!” Dumont shouts. “He produced more copies of the Word than any single man in history, how could he be a demon?”
The red robed man smiles at Dumont. “It is true that the Gutenberg Bible is the most published book of all time, and I would even say that the machine itself is not evil. It is a tool, one which could be used for good, such as spreading the Word. Or a tool to be used for evil, which is what happened. Certainly Gutenberg started out with noble intentions, but the power he welded was too great for any one man. It corrupted him, and now any man can write whatever his darkest desire compels him, and spread his derangement like a plague across the entire world.”
The street urchin’s tiny hands work with well practiced skill, slipping in and out of pockets of the crowd as she maneuvers her way toward the fire. One by one she takes a page from her book and kindly donates it to the person before her. Soon she has secured all of the torn pages, then she dashes toward the fire.
“DUMONT!” Yells the street urchin, holding up a book as if it were some religious relic.
Two grey cloaks try and grab her, but the street urchin is nimble and slides out of the way of one, and dives between the others legs.
“Dumont! Dumont!” She continues to shout, but her movement is cut short as the red robed man steps grabs her by the scruff of her neck.
“Child, what is this?”
The street urchin yells, twists, squirms, and gnashes down on the red robed man’s hand. He screams, and the street urchin kicks him in the shin. A roar of laughter runs through the crowd.
Dumont stomps on the foot of one of his captors and breaks free, runs toward the street urchin, and picks her up.
“You shouldn’t be here, you must flee child, flee!”
“No, the book!”
“I can’t read it to-” Dumont looks at the book, nearly all of its pages clearly torn out.
The street urchin smiles and hands Dumont the book. She then runs back to the crowd, grabs the coat of a man, and pulls out of his pocket a torn page.
Dumont smiles. “I believe you will all find a page of this book in your pockets.”
People all over begin to pull pages out of their pockets and begin to read.
Dumont clears his voice and reads, “Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife...”
Slowly as they all begin to read or listen to Dumont the sun begins to crest over the horizon, birds begin to chirp, and the cobblestone street shines a bright gold.
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 06:01|
Right, that's that then.
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 06:14|
"Hold my beer," said Dragon-Bear.
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 21:08|
griffon getsuya brawl results
both of these suck. my job, though, is to say which one sucks the least?
getsuya's sucks marginally less
griffon, your story is filled to the brim with irrelevant details. i tend to like these kinds of stories, returning to the hometown you dont like, facing the people who never left, giving them the what for, but this doesnt work. none of the details feel like they matter in any real sense. theyre just images thrown at us that dont really amplify or change the story. and besides that, the story is just kinda lame. your character doesnt like phil and that's her trait. you get that she doesnt like his vibe bullshit, and that's fine, but it doesnt really like... mean anything? like, karen just hates it. she comes back in town for no reason and wants to ruin his store, which is fine, but the personal stakes for the character arent really there. she just hates phil and wants to ruin his store because he's a bullshit hippie, and that isnt enough for me. phil is dumb. i dont think we needed his perspective, esp because you couldve had his perspective and used it as a way to perhaps poke holes in Karen's perception. Karen thinking he's a dumb hippie, but maybe you change that, and have Phil be aware that maybe what he's doing isnt necessarily truly honest, but that it is helping people. but instead, nope, you keep phil as a stereotypical hippie strawman and have karen do... something? it was really vague and the lighting of the match made me think arson? but idk. i just really didnt like either of your characters and your story felt like a waste of time, esp because the plot boils down to "character comes back to hometown and bothers a person at a grocery story" and very few of the details actually enhance it in a meaningful way.
getsuya, this story is a logical mess. like, there's a lot of whys, and im not a person who likes to poke plot holes into stories, but theyre so hard to ignore. why would the police put a person who was literally in that cult to deal with negogiations? why would the person in that cult not change his name those 20 years ago, and why would he tell the pastor that? this story feels very careless. you have your protag, for no real reason, just openly cause a shootout after talking to the pastor for like, a minute. am i supposed to like this guy? again, i think this couldve been something. you couldve used the protag's careless disregard for human life as a way to show that, perhaps even though he left the cult, their influence still affects him and he cant avoid it. but that's not really a thing. the protag just wants to get his revenge on the pastor and honestly, i think this is perhaps the exact reason why you dont have people with personal stakes do the negogiating. otherwise, your protag is bland. he was in a cult, but we dont really get this feeling that he really cares about all of this. like, there doesn't feel like a lot of personal investment for this character to be going back to the cult that he was in and having to face it down. im not invested, the story is rather dull because it's a boring negogiation where there's no real tension because they literally talk for like a minute and then your dickhead of a protag is like "let me put human lives at risk when it's literally my job to do the exact opposite!!!!" so your story doesnt make sense, i dont like your characters, and it was boring. but at least it was to the point and didnt feel like it was wasting my time as much as griffon's
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 21:41|
Ty and bless you for judge and crit! Good job getsuya.
|# ? Jul 1, 2019 22:59|
He shoved the trough of stagnant water and rotting oats aside, soaking some outcaste villager’s tent. The older dog, still holding an air of strength and dignity despite his old age and many wounds, could have been his father, and very well might have been. Despite any former status, he still quivered as Dragon-Bear advanced, but stood his ground.
“Know your place” the elder pleaded, growling. “Our lives depend on the humans’ wealth. You are greatest among wolves, but their curses last ages past ours. Please, they cannot afford to kill you, with so many barely subdued rivals surrounding them.”
Dragon-Bear scoffed, bared his teeth, and spit into the wind.
“You lick the poo poo of their feet, and you would defy me? I’ve killed more men than you’ve smelled”
Horrifying the pack, Dragon-Bear spilled the elder’s blood all along the whelps’ feeding grounds.
After the slaughter of feral wolves by surrounding tribes, the pups deemed not dangerous were taken back to other villages, to guard crops and sheep from rats and the few wolves who remained. Dragon-Bear’s last descendant wheezed gasping in a world of smog, wrinkled face, whirling fish-eyes, and useless, puny legs, paddling fruitlessly in the toxic wind.
|# ? Jul 2, 2019 08:02|
Didn't make it in time for the real submission so here we go
Kris Kobold’s tavern was bustling with life. With the harvest season ending soon, a lot of the creatures working the fields of Morghia had lined their pockets with coin wait-ing to be spent.
Dragon-Bear was sitting at his usual table biding just another evening at the tavern. He enjoyed the establishment as it offered the best ale’s made in Morghia and the travellers that would stop by with stories of the wider world.
As Dragon-Bear was getting ready to down the third stein of the night, the door flew open. Usually, the monsters frolicking in the tavern would pay no heed to patrons entering the establishment, yet this time they took notice. A lost soul had made a mistake as he strolled into a place he was not supposed to be in.
“All of you fookin’ freaks, you look tough, but are you?”, yelled the lost soul. “You think you’sa better than ‘umans? Hah, I would like to see ‘at!”
The crowd stared intently at the lost soul that had gotten a boost of courage from Morghian spirit.
“Come on, you wussies! Come ‘n’ fight me!”
Dragon-Bear handed his brew to an imp he befriended earlier and stood up.
|# ? Jul 2, 2019 10:43|
Thunderdome Week 360 Judgment
John the Inventor was in my squishy middle despite being about magic steampunk gears, but displeased my fellow judges enough to earn a dishonorable mention.
No More Lighthouses, despite obvious pandering, charmed the judges enough to grant it an honorable mention
The Wolves of Wotan's Hill's biggest crime was being the most average in a week with many average stories. But there must be a loser, and so turns the dome.
Fresh, Sanitary, Convenient is this week's winner. Congrats, Antivehicular.
|# ? Jul 2, 2019 23:42|
Thunderdome Week 360 Judgeburps
domer's note: i read all the stories this week in judgemode
the wolves of wotan's hill
remember to double space your stories (i did this before i read this story and it looked much better)
boy that's a long first sentence
three paragraphs in and this reads like a history textbook, all distant and objective
this story hits the prompt but it's impersonal. it's hard to feel for the characters when i'm seeing them from so far away.
my thoughts: choose a viewpoint character and tell this story from their perspective instead. this story would be very different if told by dragon-bear, or one of the oppressed villagers, or as vignettes from multiple characters
florence and the sword of valkur
what if fishing but too much?
the fight scene with the woman in the street was nice, the one on the beach is more confusing due to the number of characters in play
the scene on the beach works in broad strokes but the details get muddy. last i knew the mermaids were charging, and then once florence cuts the nets, they're already free? plus it seems like florence was running right up to the merwoman, stopped her swing, and then should have been caught between her and the men
don't exactly know how much of a cautionary tale this is, but it's decent
my thoughts: work on blocking. this story is mostly action scenes but i had trouble visualizing who was where and could see what
john the inventor
a bold stylistic choice! will it pan out! tune in next line to see!
oh no, steampunk
lol okay that's a good gag, let's see if it holds up in the remaining 1000 words
the style is fun but the argument in the middle drags a bit
oh no, the tongue in cheek broke through and now it's flapping out the side of this story's mouth
and then the story gets bored of its previous gags and dunks on libertarians
i was hoping for a story about gears being magical powerups but then someone has TOO MANY GEARS and instead this is more about owning the patent office with facts and logic. it's fine and it's amusing but the gags sort of run out near the end
my thoughts: don't fill up the entire word limit if you don't have to
beneath the rust
took me a second glance to realize it were implying latrelle was dead, because i'm an idiot
this apocalypse is interestingly weird, so i'll give this story that
there's a lot of conversation in the middle
not sure at the moment whether shaunte is being naive or clever, because this world feels like the sort of place where maybe you could bring people back by digging them up
what if...hole but too much? bog person but too much??
my thoughts: wild worldbuilding is cool, but sometimes makes it harder to guess things by implication. (like is shaunte in some kind of afterlife, or is this literally a space beneath the bogs where metal can exist?)
caranya's folly: an oral history
a tone like this can be a trap, because it's easy to get caught up with the tone and forget the story itself
seems fine so far though. things are a little storybook, but so is the story of joseph and that's a bronze age parable about surplus grain
this is mostly people talking to a king. not necessarily bad, but stories about people talking to each other is another potential trap
what if writing but too much. nice
ending is good, and probably the most interesting part
my thoughts: despite being an explicit oral history, the voice feels formal and reads more like a chronicle of a king's life, or something
fresh, sanitary, convenient
two paragraphs in and i'm liking it a lot
alice is sympathetic while clearly having different values, which is also good
yeah, this is overall pretty good. i like the fifties-but-more atmosphere and i liked how, even though objectively it's bad, in the context of the story it's both inevitable and good
my thoughts: black mirror plus mad men would literally print money
wow, second person narrative, pandering to the head judge much???
even if i didn't know flerp was doing cathedrals this is an extremely flerp story
another one that's sparse on comments as i'm reading because it's hard to riff on good story
my thoughts: this story made me think of the tower of babel crossed with icarus, and that's a pretty Zachary Mason idea
no more lighthouses
wow, egypt, pandering to the head judge much???
did chairchucker or crabrock enter this week because these are some goofy gags (edit: lol in retrospect)
oh lol the moth is there because it's a big light (see earlier crit about me being dumb)
there's like eight lines left and i'm wondering what the payoff is going to be
ba dum tish (bat dum tish)
my thoughts: a pretty good ridiculous story with occasional lapses into drollness but overall fun and light
no true lover
interesting that two stories this week decided on "people decide books are bad"
fingers crossed that books are literally magic
maybe it was, i'm not sure
i'm not sure also what the idea was with giving everyone a page of the book
my thoughts: if the ending is supposed to be a quasi-magical transformation, it might help to establish that beforehand, even if it's in an offhand way (e.g., her memories of something similar happening when Dumont read to her)
|# ? Jul 2, 2019 23:44|
Ye Olde Blacque Mirror Crits
Vinny Possum, The Wolves of Wotan's Hill
I'm not a fan of that opener, not least because it goes on so long that you forget you opened with a 'since' clause by the time it ends with another 'since' clause. I don't think the point of view you're using fits the story. Something closer to Dragon-Bear would work much better, let you get at the essence of the story, let him debate with other dogs, convince them, etc. That may be a considerably longer story, but what you have is an outline that lacks what might make the story work. Low.
Yoruichi, Florence and the Sword of Valkur
The opening sets a strong scene but is lacking in character, Florence being little more than a name until late.
P2, sentence 2 is pretty bad, overwritten In general with multiple garden paths. We later get a better idea of what the single beach is but it is very unclear on first reference.
The story is a bit incoherent as a technological morality play. The problem is pollution, but releasing a netful of fish is the solution, with possible murder of the responsible guy being an optional continuance? It's tough to see the merfolk satisfied with either of those while the systemic problem remains.
Middle, maybe middle high on overall prose strength.
Derp, John the Inventor
The opening sets a tone, makes promises. We're in the realm of parody and humor here, a place where success depends on bringing actual humor. Okay, the talking sign gag worked. But the dead baby and the SA reference and the Ayn Rand bits did not.
Armack, Beneath the Rust.
Cruelty to animals seems to be a theme this week. Let's see where you go with it, though. Turns out not much gets done with it, making it mostly gratuitous.
This sort of proceeds from premise to premise, unable to decide who is being foolish and who wise, another incoherent technological morality play.
Viscardius, Caranya's Folly:An Oral History
Hah! I guessed that the technology I question would be literacy, and was right. So the start sets up the right expectations.
This at least attempts a coherent morality play, but it's a deeply unconvincing one in ways that I can't be sure are intentional, coming across at once pro-corruption on the surface and vaguely anarchist beneath, but in a way that doesn't get enough support in the text to really convince.
Antivehicular, Fresh, Sanitary, Convenient
From the title alone, is this going to be Tampons but too much?
Apparently not but we're still in the general fifties household automation area. And we have an effective little story, a little empty for the lack of conflict caused by a protagonist to insulated from dissent or rebellion, but still effective, and actually works as a morality play.
Interesting premise, if a little...odd for a pope to have never read the old testament apparently, or for his authority to continue long after death. I assume you'll get to the architectural limitations.
Or not. So we just have a microstory of vaguely pointless rebellion without consequence, and an unearned epiphany: there's no reasoning behind his revaluation that his blood was worth more than rocks, just that it could be directed to better rockpiles.
Tyrannosaurus, No More Lighthouses
Nice opening, a bit slow considering scope and word count here, let's see if you can stick some kind of landing.
Appointment? Proof this thing.
Anyhow, this is fun, gets parody notes more clearly than the other attempt. The ending is about the only one possible, but as a morality play goes, well, trust the authority of hereditary monarchs with God complexes is a pretty shoddy moral.
Siddhartha Glutamate, No True Lover
Okay opening. Not a fan of the unnamed third person protagonist as a device. Even less so if it ends up with a 'that girl was Albert Einstein' twist, so let's see. Thankfully, no.
Bespeckled? Okay, maybe you meant this rather than bespectacled. More interesting anyhow.
Overall pretty good, but really misses the prompt, telling the exact opposite sort of morality tale.
|# ? Jul 2, 2019 23:49|
Another Interprompt Because I'm At Work For Seven More Hours And You People Are Ravenous
Warwolf: the Centurion Warrior Book 1: The Warriors
|# ? Jul 2, 2019 23:51|
What If Crits, but Too Much
derp - John the Inventor
I wanted to like this story because I enjoy parody, but it just tries way way too hard. The “steampunk gear!” joke works, but a lot of the others do not–dead babies, lol, free market, lol–this reads like a SA thread from 2003 that I remember as being hilarious but then upon reading it in 2019 I go “why on earth did we think this was the height of comedy back then?”
One thing to work on: Know when to quit. If this story had been half the length it was, it would have been much stronger and funnier. This is a common crit I’m giving out to funny stories this week, and that’s because good comedy is hard! It’s the sort of thing we can glimpse in movies where you’re watching a comedy and it’s painfully obvious the writers felt like they needed to stuff a gag in every 30 seconds. Cleverness Fatigue is real, and I’d work on trying to craft comedic writing with a few good zingers and solid prose between. Try for quality over quantity.
Vinny Possum - The Wolves of Wotan’s Hill
The whole beginning of the story feels superfluous considering how much of the later story ends up focusing on Dragon-Bear and the dogs’ POV. If you wanted to tell this story in a more convincing way, there are ways to do it. I’ll detail below. As far as your prose, this reads like a bare-bones outline of a story more than an actual story. It’s distant and emotionally flat.
One suggestion: Okay, so this story ends up being about Dragon-Bear’s rebellion against the humans. But you still want to explain all the background of why the dogs are owned by humans and why the humans are feared and how this all came to pass. What about having Dragon-Bear tell the story to another character? That way the sense of distance isn’t so great, and we learn more about the protag’s views of the world, AND the whole story doesn’t start with what feels like a rambly unnecessary recap. Dragon-Bear having to convince other dogs to rebel while telling them the story of their captors is a far more compelling tale than “a history of domestication, then a few paragraphs of dogs killing dudes.”
Antivehicular - Fresh, Sanitary, Convenient
Captures the prompt pretty well. Some nice thoughtful lines. The protag is a bit of an archetype and the ending is predictable, but that isn’t necessarily bad. I like how you never explain some of the tech terminology–I’m a big fan of stories that trust their readers to be smart enough to fill in the blanks. There isn’t a ton of conflict in this and I kept waiting for your protag to have a bit of a crisis, but then by the time the end arrived, I wasn’t *mad* that none of that happened. As a morality play, this story holds up a-ok.
One suggestion: I don’t have a lot of specific nitpicks with this one. It won for a reason! Perhaps making your character a little more fearful or mistrusting might have lent more weight to her eventual rapturous acceptance of her fate, but that’s a very small nitpick.
Viscardus - Caranya’s Folly: An Oral History
This reads like a folk tale I’ve heard before. It had a very “been there done that” feeling despite the fact that I’m pretty sure it’s all original. This works for it in the sense that it feels like a believable Aesop fable but against it in that there’s a certain generic quality to the voice. That’s always the risk when writing in a voice like that. I think this story is more hit than miss though–it’s a good exploration of the prompt and the conclusion is satisfying. It just sounds kind of like a voiceover you’d see over a bad animation of a battle in history class, lol.
One suggestion: I think naming more characters and using their names might have broken up the “intro to fantasy history” lecturer tone. Like you name the princess, but then you keep calling everyone “the princess” and “his mother” and “the king” and I think that extra touch of humanity might have helped break up the somewhat droll feeling of the narration.
Yoruichi - Florence and the Sword
This was an entertaining and action heavy little tale. I enjoyed it. From the first paragraph you establish a lot is going on and you do it in a way that invite the reader to want to find out more. There are some spectacular lines and really great, chewy imagery in this. I feel like we could use a bit more about Florence–who was she before all this? we only really get a glimpse of her childhood–and I feel like the importance of the nets isn’t quite established on as solid a foundation as it needs. It starts strong and then kinda wobbles toward the end while never veering into “bad” territory.
One suggestion: The nets are the reason why the merfolk are mad at the humans, correct? I feel like this is a gong that needs to be beaten earlier on and a lot louder. Unless the point is that you *want* Florence and the other humans to just be like “eh merfolk, angry savages, wonder what’s up their scales this time.” In which case having the nets be a reveal would work, but then they’d need to feel deliberately hidden. Right now this important part of the story just kinda turns up at the end for a token mention.
Tyrannosaurus - No More Lighthouses
This was a clever little story that got a little too clever in points but was still more or less P Good. I could see the ending coming a mile away and it still got a laugh out of me, so well done. It’s probably the story this week that I enjoyed reading the most on a personal level. You do comedy well. I particularly liked the recurring gag of the pharaoh not being able to hear poo poo. The prose is tidy but this could have used a proofread, there were enough typos that it yanked me into editor mode instead of story enjoyer mode a few times.
One suggestion: It’s tough knowing where the line is. Overall this is a good story but there were a few lines--“I need wine,” Ikudidy whimpered. “Lots of wine.”--that stuck out to me as trying too hard to be cute when really, you didn’t need to try that hard and were doing fine.
flerp - Blood
This is competently written and it strikes some nice emotional notes, but I kept waiting for something to happen. I kept waiting for your protagonist to make a big choice or face an emotional pinch point but it never really happened. This story felt like having a good fap and then falling asleep before finishing.
One suggestion: The combo of second person POV and your skill for hefting emotional weight gives you a lot of ammunition for this piece. Aim it at something and pull the trigger. You tell us that your protag doesn’t want to be his father, but we never really get a glimpse at what he DOES want or whether he tries to attain it or why touching the stones changes your protag’s mind. “There’s more in your blood than just rocks” feels at odds with the fact that your protag decides to climb up the tower and stack more rocks.
Armack - Beneath The Rust
This had some nice imagery and an intriguing premise but it was tough to follow and was mostly A Series Of Things That happened where the protag had little agency and there were too many characters to keep track of. You do a great job conveying the grossness of the bubbling bogs and the ending has some genuine menace, but then your protag just kinda dies and wakes up in their version of the afterlife and despite the fact that your protag DIES it feels somehow like an anticlimax.
One suggestion: If you’re gonna kill your protag, you gotta endear readers to them. Just being the main character isn’t reason enough for readers to care.
Siddhartha Glutamate - No True Lover
Not naming your POV character was a weird choice and every time I read “the urchin” it irked me. I found this story difficult to follow and riddled with archetypes. These types of stories don’t necessarily have to be bad, but you have to work much harder to get people to care about characters in Yet Another Story Where Bad Church Guys Burn Books. It’s handicapping yourself at the starting line. Your old man character is the strongest of the bunch, he feels far more developed than the protagonist.
One suggestion: Your protag has to be a character that the audience can identify with. They’re the lens through which your audience views the story. Not naming them and giving them no real personality makes this an incredibly tough read.
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 00:26|
Another Interprompt Because I’m At Work For Seven More Hours And You People Are Ravenous
Warwolf flexed his paws inside his moon boots, because he was on the moon. He rotated his wrist, adjusting the angle of his blade, and levelled his moonsaber at Combatcoyote.
“Coyote,” he growled, inside the helmet of his spacesuit. “This ends now.”
“You’re right,” Coyote growled back. “But it’s I who will be walking off this rock–and stepping over your cold corpse!”
Warwolf leapt forward, never one to let an attempted monologue distract him from the first strike. He floated sedately toward Coyote, cursing the moon’s pathetic gravity, and swung his saber downward.
Coyote bounced out of the way, skidding slowly in the moondust.
“Please!” cried a desperate, Australian-accented voice over their comms. “Stop this! Both of you! You don’t have to do this!”
Doomdingo watched helplessly from the Moon Lander’s little porthole window, begging them to stop.
“Sorry, D,” said Warwolf, his voice cool. “You know there’s only two seats on the Lander. It’s either him or me. And you know me, babe–I don’t play to lose.”
Warwolf rushed forward, chasing after Coyote as quickly as the moon’s fumbly, bouncing gravity would allow. They pursued one another across the moon dust, hopping and bouncing in their spacesuits, the blades of their sabers unable to connect.
When Warwolf looked up, he realized he could no longer see the Lander.
“Dingo?” he asked on comms. But no reply came. He must have wandered out of comms frequency. poo poo. That happened sometimes when you passed behind the dark side of the–
The realization hit him like a paw to the face.
He’d wandered onto the dark side of the moon.
Howling in agony, he stumbled and faceplanted into the moondust as he felt the transformation take hold of him. Powerless to stop it, Coyote staggered and fell alongside him, entrapped in his own agony. They screamed ceaselessly into the fishbowl helmets of their spacesuits, over the dead radio line, until their throats were raw.
The contorting, the burning beneath his skin, the hard gutpunch shock of it all–Warwolf curled into a fetal position, panting within his suit.
A human fetal position. For once you passed out of the moonlight, once you stepped onto the dark side of the moon, it was technically no longer a full moon.
Gasping, trembling, laid flat by exhausting agony alongside his old nemesis, Warwolf caught the reflection of his own face in the surface of his helmet: a chiseled jaw, steely blue eyes, stern brows, a Roman nose.
Warwolf was no longer Warwolf. He was Captain Greg Gartfack again.
The man he’d fled Earth to escape.
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 00:48|
Another Interprompt Because I'm At Work For Seven More Hours And You People Are Ravenous
A/N: Centurion and Warrior are British made combat vehicles.
Operation Luparii, 497 words
The recruiters had warned Colour Sergeant Smythe, when he'd enlisted, that his job could be distasteful. Somehow, he didn't think this was what they'd meant.
"Gunner, target, 12 o'clock, one hundred meters, load incendiary," he muttered into the Centurion tank's intercom.
"Target, 12 o'clock, animal den," answered the gunner cheerfully. "100 meters...willie pete...gun up!"
The L7 gun made its loud report, and the shell arced over broken asphalt and fallen streetlights to its target--a collapsed bus station, long surrendered to a pack of grey wolves. The shell slammed home in the fallen roof, payload scattering over the den, filling Smythe's thermal view with hot black patches. The ruins quickly caught fire, and three wolves bolted from the naturally formed entrance to flee.
"Warriors, cleared to engage." Smythe ordered again. The two other vehicles swiveled their turrets, barking shells from their RARDENs in clipped three round bursts. The first two sent two wolves crashing mid-stride, splattering blood against the twisted steel backdrop. The third kicked up shattered road, as the Warriors' gunners tracked the fast moving wolf, grey against grey. As the thirty millimeter guns continued to fire, Smythe grimaced at the ammo expenditure; he had no idea how much had been allocated for his ad-hoc section, only that it wasn't enough to waste. Still, as he watched the black blur on his thermal scope, his thoughts turned to admiration. Here was a survivor, clearly with more will to live than most. If it wasn't for his orders to "clear the city for human habitation", he might have ordered his section to cease fire.
A fallen subway entrance sat in the road, the rubble forming an entrance where a wolf could flee, and a human could never follow. It ran for this bolthole, dodging sprays of concrete. Fifty meters away...thirty...twenty. "Come on, girl, you can make it!" thought Smythe unconsciously as it--she--leapt between patches of dying grass.
Then, no more than three meters away from safety, a shell finally clipped the wolf's hindquarters, sending it to the ground with whimpers both angry and pathetic. Smythe swore; a wounded pest wasn't enough to waste more Warrior ammo on, but she couldn't be left to suffer. He pulled himself from the commander's hatch, to his gunner's confusion, and unsteadily walked over to the fallen wolf.
He locked eyes with her, her blood pooling under her tail and hind legs from a gash that slashed across her pelt. It had been a matter of centimeters--one to one side and she would have escaped, one to the other and shock would have killed her instantly. Her eyes looked back at him with fire, willing unresponsive legs to leap up and rip out the throat of her aggressor, snapping with her jaws. Smythe drew his pistol, and sighed a quiet "I'm sorry" as he aimed at her head.
The recruiters had warned Colour Sergeant Smythe, when he'd enlisted, that his job could be distasteful. Somehow, he thought this was exactly what they'd meant.
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 02:01|
Waiting for judgement like
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 02:20|
Thanks for the crits. More than I deserved.
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 04:26|
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 07:38|
Thunderdome CCCLXI: Extremely Creative Nonfiction
By my extremely scientific estimate, we haven't had a creative memoir week since way back in Week 80, and that's a shame. This week, I'd like you to write me a story from your own life. However, since this is creative nonfiction and all, you may embellish it with speculative (SF/fantasy/horror/magical realism/etc.) detail if you like. Writing memoir is often about embellishing and improving stories, and I'll give you a free hand with that.
What I'm really looking for this week is emotional authenticity -- not necessarily pure realism, but that sense of "this is a true, important story that someone actually lived" that you get from good memoir. As I said, embellish all you like, but retain that heart. Stories that read like generic specfic in first person will probably not do very well.
I will also offer the Baudolino's Dildo Memorial Warning: be careful about sexual or scatological material. Everyone's got a few stories like that in their back pocket, and I won't be automatically DQing for it, but if you're going to use it, it better be good.
Standard TD rules apply -- no erotica, fanfiction, political rants/topical politics, poetry, dick pics, Google Docs/quote tags/other things the archivists can't archive, etc.
Word Count: 1500
Signups Close: Friday, July 5th, 11:59 PM Pacific
Submissions Close: Sunday, July 7th, 11:59 PM Pacific
Pouring Your Hearts Into The 'Post Reply' Box:
1. Sitting Here
2. Anomalous Blowout
4. Black Griffon
5. Siddhartha Glutamate
6. Fleta Mcgurn
11. Vinny Possum
12. Morning Bell
15. Simply Simon
17. Anomalous Amalgam
Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 06:02 on Jul 6, 2019
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 08:31|
im in, commencing auto-fellatio
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 08:37|
It me, I'm in.
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 08:57|
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 09:22|
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 10:03|
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 10:14|
Oh and , for my own sake.
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 10:23|
I'm down, in
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 11:19|
This was a fail by crimea, who stepped to the blood queen with admirable sass, then shat his pants and scuttled off, crablike. Flerp, who is a warrior, bestirred himself to challenge in crimea's stead. It's a solid match up - sitting here is a potent and wiley combatant, but with a rep for choking in the brawlrena. Flerp, meanwhile, though having a mere few hours to write and a deceptively simple style, can bring the pain like a hurricane. So who won, well let us see:
I liked the hell out of this mainly for its crisp detail and characters who knew exactly what they wanted but could never get it because of who/what they are.
Hrmmmm. there are some nice bits of description in here, and I can feel something really strong and nasty lurking behind it, but it is happening in a white void and it's fatally repetitive. i think it's worth a rework, but as is it doesn't live up to its strong opening.
Flerp stepped up and delivered a solid piece with some deep fissures of genuinely affecting wordpain. Sitting Here fished out a similarly personal wordgobbet from her brain goo, but also managed to make a tight, vivid story out of it. Sitting here takes this without too much trouble; but the fight was honourable, nonetheless.
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 11:43|
Mercadent Brawl Judgment
Saucy Rodent's Jaws of the Fwuffster
You chose to tap into that universal fear of getting old and dying, a safe choice since it's hard to guess what specific fear will terrorize a given judge. The scene with the rabbit was effective, and most of the horror in the tale comes from this guy feeding the poor girl's beloved pet to death the dog. You wax a little poetic about death which, while very nice writing, really doesn't do anything to make it any scarier. The issue here is there's nothing immediate or visceral about this threat. By the end your character is embracing his own destruction calmly, without any mind-shattering worries about the nothing that's coming next. All in all, between the little girl's love for her fallen pet and death the dog wanting walkies before it takes this guy's soul, it just ended up being much more adorable than horror. Very well written, though.
Mercedes's The Father of Exorcism
Mercedes got incredibly lucky and hit on one of my specific fears; demonic possession and having your will taken away from you. Even without that, the twist at the end is pretty gut-wrenching and extremely well executed, in my opinion. Everything that seemed out of place clicks together once you realize what's going on. That said, that little prologue bit is stupid and should be cut. First of all, it spoils the whole demonic baby reveal which would have been much more surprising and hilarious if I didn't know it was coming, second it straight up lies about what's going to happen because the baby never pulls the trigger. This is a short story, friend. You don't have to cut forward to the good bits to catch my interest or whatever. It also gums up some of the execution in the story, since the pastor is too freaked out by the concept of a possessed baby and emotes being scared shitless too much before he even sees the thing. We, the audience, know why he should be scared, because this baby can beat up adults and point (but not shoot) guns at them. But, as far as the pastor knows, it could just be speaking Latin backwards or vomiting chicken feathers or something. Yes, I know it's all a made-up story in his mind, but it's still bad writing to have your characters going 'oh poo poo oh poo poo I'm so terrified' like that. That's telling, not showing. I wonder if some of it was your fear that your story wouldn't be scary enough or something leaking onto the page.
Anyway, setting that aside, the actual fight with the baby was well done and of course the twist reveal and ending were effective and ramped up the horror quite well. Unfortunately there wasn't much cute about it. Yes, babies are cute. That's about all you have going for you. Especially because you spoil the possessed baby in the opening paragraph so I can't even enjoy a moment of baby cuteness due to already knowing it's possessed. Your story is basically the exact opposite of Rodent's; it ends up being much more horror than adorable.
So we've got too much cute, not enough horror and too much horror, not enough cute.
However, I believe Saucy Rodent struck a slightly better balance of the two and also didn't have quite as many glaring flaws in their execution of the story, so congrats!
Winner: Saucy Rodent
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 13:52|
|# ? Jan 20, 2022 00:01|
|# ? Jul 3, 2019 14:49|