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Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


The Crack Hand
524 words


Every kid’s born good at something. Some can run harder and faster than all their classmates. My cousin Arturo can tune a violin by ear. And me? I have the Crack Hand. That’s what Dad called it when we’d wade out in the rivers and trudge up their banks and we’d walk and walk and walk ‘til I said when. He always let me choose when.

And everywhere I chose, we dug gold.

Not a lot. Not a mother lode. But wherever I stuck my shovel, we’d get glitter in the pan. We’d squat in the water for hours, washing ore from the tailings. I could always spot gold from the other flashes. Something about the weight, the swish of it in the water, the way it always looked a bit more orange than you thought it would.

I carried my gold in little vials, glass tubes of sparkle tucked away in my pockets and backpack. My retirement fund, Dad called it.

(Years later, I remember the Crack Hand in action: Dad dragging my finger down a column of newspaper ads. Stop when one feels lucky, okay?)

Every kid’s good at something, but when you crawl down out of the mountains, city kids are good at different stuff. They can’t recite the Cremation of Sam McGee. They’ve never heard of Bigfoot. And they don’t believe in the Crack Hand. They don’t-believe so hard that they send you to the principal’s office for lying.

I thought I had a chance to prove myself when Mrs. Benson lost her wedding ring at recess. Any kid who found it got a reward, they said, and we all crawled around with our noses to the grass for hours. I even stayed after school, wandering the fields in zig-zags, palms out toward the ground, convinced I’d feel the tug of gold and it would lead me right to my quarry.

Dad was off working a claim in Nevada, but I told him on the phone. About the missing ring, at least. I didn’t tell him about my classmates’ cruel laughter or the teachers’ knowing looks. Didn’t tell them about how they’d told Mom this would be a good lesson.

“That’s not how it works,” Dad assured me from hundreds of miles away. “The Crack Hand, it only digs pure gold. Wedding rings? Those are alloys. Maybe even gold-plated. Maybe even fake.”

All night, I stared at the ceiling. I couldn't make myself sleep. I fanned my fingers along the sheets and closed my eyes and sought, tried to sense the telltale tug, the song of gold heard only by those with the Crack Hand.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold.


When I finally slept, I dreamt of colors flashing in the pan. Of Sam McGee's body lighting up the Arctic night. Of showing those kids at school some queer sights, all right.

I did not tell Dad how Mrs. Benson reacted when I asked if her wedding ring was fake.

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Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


everything the people can’t be
1106 words

Archived.

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 13:58 on Jul 10, 2019

Siddhartha Glutamate
Oct 3, 2005


It's like that HUM song about time travel
Word count: 1310

Within a small part of the fifty-five million lightyear expanse of the Virgo Supercluster, known as the Local Group, galaxies spin on. If you stand in just the right spot off the furthest spiral arm of Andromeda, and turn to look at the stars of the Milky Way Galaxy, they form a picture that looks like this:

Y O U A R E H E R E

It’s right there, on the planet Earth, where waves of neutrinos travelling from one hundred and sixty-eight thousand years in the Large Magellanic Cloud’s past wash through every living being on the planet, including a young man walking down a street one late night in 1987.

That young man is my eldest brother, Chris. He’s walking home, right now, from his first job as a dishwasher at Biggies bar and grill where you can buy a beer served in a fishbowl. He’s decked out with a fab feathered haircut, a wispy mustache he cannot pull off, and a white jacket he’s wanted since he saw Saturday Night Fever as a kid, though it looks more like something Don Johnson would wear than John Travolta.

A storm is brewing inside his brain. It starts with a single neuron misfiring, sending a signal to all of its buddies to fire as well. And due to a fluke of his neurochemistry the signal spreads. Like a flash of intracloud lightning it crosses the corpus callosum from one hemisphere to the other, unleashing a cascade of electrical activity that renders Chris unconscious. One moment he is standing at the street corner waiting for the light to change, the next he falls. He doesn’t fall straight down, or backwards, or to either side. No, he falls forward into the street.

Many people say they have the worst of luck, but for Chris it's true.

Exactly fourteen minutes and twenty-three seconds prior to Chris’ seizure, a thin balding man, also awash in time traveling neutrinos, leaves a bar too intoxicated to drive safely. He tells himself he only lives a few blocks away, and besides nobody is out this late at night. He isn’t going to get arrested and he certainly won’t get into an accident. But the alcohol passes his blood-brain barrier without any trouble, and because alcohol is a depressant it has slowed the reaction time of his neurons. So when, in fourteen minutes and four seconds, he is driving his old blue plymouth and sees a young man lying in the street he cannot react quickly enough.

He feels the impact, but Chris doesn’t.

---

Things for my parents got bad. They were never healthy, they drank too much, fought all the time, never had enough money. The house was always in need of repair, or about to be foreclosed on. But after Chris died they crawled deeper into the bottle and depression. One day I swore that I would build a time machine and save Chris. I’d lie at night on rescued curbside sofa cushions (the best kind of sofas) spread out on the living room floor, where me and my brother William slept after our bedroom's ceiling collapsed from a leaking roof. I’d dream of all the ways I could prevent Chris’ death. The most obvious was to follow him from work on that night. When he falls I would catch him. Or I could go to the bar where the drunk driver was and steal his keys. Or I could get Chris the medication he needed for his epilepsy.

Imagine standing behind Chris in line at the pharmacy with twenty bucks in your pocket, when he realizes he doesn’t have enough money. Before he turns to walk away I could slap the money down on the counter and say to the clerk “give the man his meds.”

Chris would thank me. I’d shrug, playing it cool.

Problems crept in as I devoured sci-fi and learned the harsh lessons of temporal paradoxes and butterfly effects. If I went back in time to prevent Chris from dying, what would cause me to build a time machine in the first place? And what if Chris recognized me? I always pictured myself as an adult while rescuing him, it wasn’t like I was going to build the time machine tomorrow. But there was always the possibility that he would remember the face of the kind stranger who paid for his medication, and one day he’d look at me and make the connection. This would certainly rip a hole in causality and destroy the universe.

These were minor inconveniences, problems to be worked out. I still had bigger fish to fry, such as how I would aim my time machine back not only to the correct time, but the correct space. Time travel, as I learned, wasn’t as easy as Back to the Future made it out to be. The Earth was spinning around the sun which itself was spinning around the galactic core of the Milky Way, which was being pulled toward Andromeda, which was part of the ever expanding Virgo Supercluster, which itself was only a part of the Laniakea Supercluster. As soon as Marty jumped into the Delorean and hit eighty-eight miles per hour he would have ended up floating in empty space, if he was lucky. If Marty was unlucky he’d die burning inside a star, or spaghettified by a black hole.

To avoid a similar fate I needed some kind of beacon burning bright in the night sky. Which is exactly what the Large Magellanic Cloud provided me with. 1987 was the perfect year, as scientists detected, for the very first time, the neutrino emissions of a supernova before the light of the explosion even reached us! They named it 1987A. Cause, you know, it was 1987 and it was the first one.

So, I had my temporal coordinates and my spatial coordinates. Now all I needed was a time machine and a plan that kept causality intact.

Easy-peasy.

---

Three years after Chris’ death my parents finally dried up. One night my mother confessed to my aunt, while sitting in a dive bar filled with men and women just like her, avoiding failed third marriages and mortgages for homes with leaking roofs they couldn’t afford, that she always felt like the worst person in every room she’s ever been in. She said she was finally fed up, sick of being sick.

She never went back there or any other place like it.

Elsewhere a man walked into a meeting in a church basement, confessed that he had killed a man, hit him with his car after he’d been drinking. After a lifetime of trying to escape his problems, both real and imagined, he had spent the last couple of years just trying to forget just one night. He never would, and he wouldn’t stay sober forever, but he’d never drink and drive again. He wouldn’t take that kind of risk.

After that our leaking roof was fixed. William and I reclaimed our bedroom. Life found a new normalcy, even if it was never normal to start with. As I grew up I still thought about the time machine, not as often, and not in as much detail, but it remained with me. The puzzle of it. The desire to be the hero who saved my brother, and by extension the rest of my family. But I never could figure it out.

Until now.

The key to preserving causality is that Chris can never know, nobody can. He can’t even stay on Earth, it's too dangerous. But Mars is too cold, and despite whatever Kurt Vonnegut wrote about Titan, its even colder and smells like farts. But I’ve got a plan.

---

Off the shoulder of Andromeda, two million five hundred and forty thousand lightyears away, Chris is looking at a string of stars which sends him a message which is a tad misleading.

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition




They’ll Drag You Into the Shadows, If You Don’t Know How to Scream
[1490]

https://thunderdome.cc/?story=7524&title=They%E2%80%99ll+Drag+You+Into+the+Shadows%2C+If+You+Don%E2%80%99t+Know+How+to+Scream

Nethilia fucked around with this message at 23:18 on Jan 2, 2020

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Knowing a life

(1086)

There is something strange about the idea of not understanding death, not comprehending the omega to the alpha of life. There was something strange about the mask that lay before me, that day in 1993, when my grandmother had turned from a living, breathing being to a rubbery imitation of the woman who'd taught me about rotary phones and aluminum smelting and why fjords became fjords. Memory is fickle and deceptive, I cannot know what I truly knew, but I know that at that time, in that little town deep inside that fjord, I did not understand death.

I knew that things died, of course, but perhaps I didn't know what that truly entailed, perhaps I had no concept of the permanence of death. I felt no sadness, despite happy memories and recollections of love. I only knew that the switch had turned, that we wouldn't be visiting the fjord quite as much, that we wouldn't take the road over the mountain in the old citroën and traverse the funny tunnel that swirled upwards and upwards like the shell of a snail. Perhaps it was my mother's insistence that I'd visit her in heaven, perhaps I just hadn't developed the capacity to truly comprehend loss. I stayed home from school a couple of days, felt awkward coming back and getting hugs from teachers with sympathetic faces and understanding nods. Life returned to normal, with a latent sorrow that I only experienced through what my mother felt.

Strange, that. I could feel her sorrow, feel it so deep in my bones that the sorrow I did feel at that time was from the desperation of knowing that I couldn't make her happy. I did not understand death, but I certainly understood sorrow.

My grandfather died a few weeks later, it's all just one memory now.

It took twenty three years until I got another chance to explore the nature of death. Twenty three years with no close family dying, with no grandparents passing away, with no freak accidents or sudden sickness. I was lucky, luckier than most of my friends. Everyone had something; a sibling, a parent, occasionally a child. Grandparents passing like leaves on trees. I had a classmate I barely knew. An affable and friendly boy who killed himself at age fourteen. Too distant to trigger any true reaction. I remember coming to school and feeling the white faces of his friends dig themselves into my bones before I even entered the classroom.

Killed himself at age fourteen. There was something inconceivable about that, something that distanced me from his death. I thought about who would've hurt him more than I thought about the fact that he was dead, I thought about the strangeness of an absence heavier than a blue whale. I thought about the sorrow in the faces of his friends and the way some of my classmates couldn't stop laughing at his funeral, and my mother telling me that some people would process grief in ways we couldn't always recognize.

Twenty five years, and then, with bass thumping in my ears, platters of food in my hands and voices murmuring on the walkie talkie in my ear, my mother called me and told me Else would die. My farmor, my father's mother, who'd taught me how to play the piano, a skill I'd promptly forgotten, who'd inspired me to adore cats and had a terrible, plush toilet seat covering. I listened to my mother's words, said something I can't remember, left my station, walked over to my best friend and bawled for half an hour. Bass still thumping in my ears.

Something had changed since my maternal grandparents. The accumulated memories of a small part of a human life had opened floodgates to something new. I knew, of course, that I understood death better now than when I was a child, but for the very first time I experienced it. The crushing pain of knowing that soon, I would never see Else's face again, overwhelmed me. A small part of me wished I'd been better prepared, cursing my luck. I floated in my new understanding until it became unbearable, and then I sunk into desperation.

A month before it ended, my mother called me, asked me if I wanted to visit Else before she passed. I hesitated, and she assured me that it was alright if I didn't want to come. She was far gone already, after all, a shadow of herself bound to a bed. I told her I'd think about it, and I thought about it until it was too late. The shame and regret haunted me for over a year. I hated myself for being to cowardly to visit her one last time. I felt it in the moments after I knew she was dead, I felt it at the funeral, at the same graveyard where the boy whose name I couldn't remember was buried, I felt it at the wake and I felt it on the train heading north and then west and then home. I couldn't believe myself.

A year ago, visiting my parents for the holidays, I tried to find the grave of the boy who killed himself. I walked up and down the graveyard several times finding Else's grave, but not his. I searched my mind for the memory of his funeral, and realized I could't trust my memory anyway. I was certain I knew where he lay, but then again, wasn't that just an old and fractured memory transposed onto the memory of Else's funeral? Fresh as a wound, it would always take up place.

I sat down on a bench, fingers rolling the stalk of a dandelion I'd picked up on the way to the graveyard. I didn't need to find his grave, I knew it was there, somewhere. I knew he was here, in me. And I knew that at some level, understanding death was less important than knowing life. One day at school, years ago, the boy who killed himself listened and laughed at my stories when I had no one else to talk to. I knew his life. A year before she passed, I visited Else at the nursing home and we laughed about things we'd never laughed about before. The dementia had unlocked a sense of humor I'd never seen. I knew her life, and I loved it.

I placed the dandelion on the grave closest to where I remembered the boy's funeral, and felt no shame, no regret.

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Illegal Hen

The Problems of Departure

https://thunderdome.cc/?story=7526&title=The+Problems+of+Departure

Morning Bell fucked around with this message at 08:35 on Jul 9, 2019

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







Carraway
500 words

You’re sitting cross-legged on the floor while Genevieve, your best friend, makes out with Karl, your other best friend, on the bed. You’re still in sort of an awkward place with your sexuality and haven’t decided which one of them you’ll silently pine for, so you sit hunched next to the smelly rabbit cage, and experience weird, vicarious fulfillment. The unselfconscious way in which your friends writhe against each other makes you feel like the stoic old flop in her cage—you’re part of the scenery, living furniture.

In one summer, Genevieve blossomed from ‘friend’ into ‘your hot friend’. You are no one’s ‘hot friend’, but this is advantageous; as a Plain Jane, you’re not a social or romantic threat, which imbues you with a certain trustworthiness in the eyes of Genevieve. You stand—a frumpy angel wielding a fiery sword—at the gate to Genevieve’s sex life, because invariably the boys come to you first, seeking your blessing on their pilgrimage to the coveted snatch.

The wet, salivary sounds from the bed intensify, as does the grinding hiss of denim-on-denim, causing grief and desire to helix through your body in a high-power stream of conflicting emotions. The two people you’d really like to kiss are kissing each other, and it’s because of you—you pleaded Karl’s case to Genevieve, careful not to reveal your own abject longing—which is a little like throwing a parade for someone. Sure, you’d rather be the one for whom the parade is thrown, but if throwing the parade is the closest you’re able to get to parade action, you’ll throw the hell out of that parade.

Genevieve’s mom knocks on the door, decreeing in a good-natured tone that it’s time to hang out somewhere other than the shadowy hormone bath that is the bedroom.

The three of you decide to take a walk. You skulk along with your hands in your pockets, several yards behind Genevieve and Karl. Eventually your wanderings bring you to the old train yard, from which a set of derelict tracks extend into the woods.

As you follow your friends down the track, you tilt your head back and are momentarily obliterated by the cathedral arch of the trees, the dapple of the sun across your retinas, the thick, sugary smell of berries ripening in the summer heat. There is no you, just this tableau of scent and light and the gentle whisper of leaves stirring the humid air.

“Hey,” Genevieve calls, ripping you out of your expansive forest moment. “Take a picture of us.”

She and Karl are holding hands as they walk down opposite sides of the tracks. It’s a good shot, the sort of picture that high school romances are made for; you raise the camera lent to you by Genevieve for this purpose and dutifully take the photo.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









Three things I remember happening
920 words

1.

I’m sitting on the sun-warmed grass, looking at photos. The photos are bright in the sun, sparkling like jewels. I lay them out in a grid pattern, then move them into a line. They are good photos, of me and my mum and my brother and our cats and I’m sitting on the warm grass and my mum is hanging out the washing, flapping brightly coloured sheets and dresses.

I hear whistling coming from down the path and look up, then smile: it’s my dad, whistling, coming down the path. He is wheeling a bicycle with coloured streamers flapping from the handles. It looks beautiful but it’s probably for my brother so I lower my head to my photos, which are still good. Perhaps a circle…?

Mum talks to him, there was something he did or he didn’t do, as I’m laying the photos out in a perfect circle, all facing in like rays of the sun.

Then there’s some shouting, and it makes me frown, but I’m not really listening. I suppose it’s been happening a lot with mum and dad and he doesn’t live with us any more, but I’ve mostly ignored it. Then dad steps on my circle of photos which was almost just right. There’s a foot there, and it’s on top of the photo. Mum is shouting quite loud, and she’s stepping on the photos too. This is bad.

“Don’t step on the photos,” I say.

They’re not listening, and they’re still stepping on the photos. One of the photos is bent down the middle and I pick it up. My head is full of tears now so I start crying.

“Don’t step on the photos!”

They’re not listening, because they’re both busy yelling and they’re grabbing each other and rocking back and forth and stepping on the photos, and I’m yelling too, and crying and all of the washing is flapping in the warm, afternoon breeze.

2.

It’s a long time later, maybe four years, and we’re in a car, me and my brother and my dad and we’re driving down the road to his latest house in the South Island.

He always has interesting run-down houses with lots of places to explore and hide, and I presume that is just the way things are with him moving around so I can have a cool place to stay with my brother when we come down for the holidays though I find out later it is because he keeps getting fired for disagreeing with people.

I’m sitting in the front, and my job is to dim the headlights when I see oncoming cars. I take it pretty seriously and my hand is on the switch. We’re all playing Tennis Elbow Foot, tossing words around the car as it eats up the flickering white stripes on the road ahead.

“Car,” I say.

“Tar,” says my brother.

“Road,” says dad.

“Toad,” I say.

“Prince,” says my brother.

“Princess,” says dad.

“Dad,” I say.

“That doesn’t rhyme and it doesn’t have anything to do with princesses,” says my brother, which is a typical thing for him to say.

“Why don’t you and mum just get back together?” I say.

The car is quite noisy with the sound of the tires on the road. My brother doesn’t say anything but I can hear him listening.

“We can’t do that,” says my dad.

That sounds reasonable so I nod, then I see a light coming and I flick the switch.

3.

It’s definitely a long time later now, and I’m back in Wellington where I live with my mum and my brother and my step dad in a little wooden house up a lot of steps, and I’ve been sent up the hill to get fish and chips from the shop. The clouds are dark gray overhead. I have a rain coat, a wrinkly oilskin thing but it’s really not great at keeping the water out.

I’m thinking about our last trip down south, when we drove past a dam in Roxburgh and the spillway is going, just a ridiculous amount of water torrenting out of the lake above through a hole and down the steep concrete of the spillway and so we get out of the car to go stand beside it. The roar of the water is like being in a vacuum cleaner, and the air is thick with spray. There are patches of moss that have absorbed the spray and grown huge, glistening transparent bubbles, like they’re getting enough water from the spray to keep themselves going for a long time, years maybe.

As I’m thinking about water the rain starts, and it’s heavy, a thick, pummelling carpet of water that’s been upended on the city I live in, and I’m running up the hill, towards the open trapezoid garage I can see a bit further up the road.

I duck in, out of the downpour, and stand there. Water is pooling around my feet and I’m looking across the street to the A-frame brown house with its white windows and its trees with big pink flowers, looking through the carpet of rain that is lashing the footpath and the road and the footpath on the other side of the road and the cars and I look at the rounded, trapezoid shape of the garage that frames the rain and the house and the street and I think: I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.

Vinny Possum
Sep 21, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER


February 2008
553 Words
The air was cold, whistling in through the jagged holes the walls detached garage we slept, ate, and goofed off in. I was sprawled across the couch, safe from the chill in my dad’s padded janitorial jacket and an itchy, think blanket that stank of pit bull. Devon rocked back and forth in his bed (jealous of the bastard, but sometimes he shared it with me) deep in melancholy revelry, ear buds cutting him off from the rest of the world. Probably listening to some K-pop boyband, or Sonny Moore, or maybe Silverstien. CB stared intently into the old CRT television, his mind transported to some imaginary middle eastern battlefield as teens and adults like screamed profanities and racial epithets into his ears. Jake was inside the house somewhere, himself absorbed in a virtual world, but this one colorful and animated somewhere on a server in Korea.

I gulped down half a bud light, leftover from the massive hoard of terrible beer Jake’s albino cousin’s visit had brought. As Nikki had taught us during his month long stay, I refilled the empty half of the can with tomato juice. Nikki promised it prevented hangover, and I had not had one yet, so no reason to disbelieve the old man.
As I was beginning to lay back down and continue my conversation with some girl across the country. Devon sat bolt upright, eyes wide but vacant. I knew this look.

“Hey man,” I got up and wrapped the jacket around myself. “We going somewhere?”

He snatched a tall can of Miller High Life off the pile of lukewarm cans and walked out the door, wordlessly. He hated beer almost as much as I loved it. I zipped up and followed, grabbing myself another can and making sure it was well hidden in the pocket.

We wandered out through the back gate and into the street. Devon was wearing only his slippers, hair messy, oblivious to practicality or comfort. As we passed the sketchy chinese restaurant down the street, he finally spoke.

“Smoke?” he held out a cigarette

I took it, and lit up. I hated the menthol, but for the moment I could deal. We walked slowly, north, and the trailers, apartments and rundown redneck bungalows gave way to quiet, stately Victorian homes. A cop passed behind us on the street, but either missed us or wasn’t in the mood to enforce curfew. A little further and we left houses altogether, and headed into the hills surrounding the town, and up the lonely road to Alta Vista cemetery.

At we neared the top of the hill, Devon stopped. He remained silent for a moment, then popped the can, pouring it out.

“There you go bro.” He said. “It’s good to see you again.”

We sat a few more minutes, as he talked to his brother, a genuine survivor until a windy foothill road and a fifth of Evan Williams did him in.

As we headed down through the cemetery towards home he shivered.

“drat man, it’s loving cold”

I laughed, and offered him my beer.

“Nah man”

We strolled back to the house with a pep in our stride, singing along to “My Heroine” as quietly as our youthful, drunken voices would let us.

I woke up with my first hangover the next day.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Submissions are closed. thank u 4 words

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Week 361: The Results

This was a good week, folks: good turnout, and even the stories that were rough around the edges showed a real sincerity and effort at the prompt. I enjoyed reading and judging this, and my co-judges seemed to have agreed. This is a no-loss week; you all put your hearts out there, and I think the worst that can be said for the low end this week is a lack of skill.

The rest of our mentions, starting with the bad news:

Dshonorable Mentions: Aesclepia's "White"; Vinny Possum's "February 2008"

Honorable Mentions: Nethilia's "They'll Drag You Into the Shadows, If You Don't Know How To Scream"; flerp's "Sorry, I'm Not Flying Again"

Winner: Tyrannosaurus's "everything the people can't be"

Good stuff, everyone. Throne's yours, T.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Trueish Tales of Domery Crits

These may be a bit sparse this time. In some ways this was a very tough week to judge: the overall quality was high, and the stories varied a lot, from conventional narratives to meditative essays, from slice-of-life to intensely personal and traumatic, making it an exercise in comparing apples to lava. But here goes. Add to that the fact that reality allows implausibilities fiction cannot...

Chairchucker, Oorah

Okay, a good start, an interesting balance of low stakes and implied general potentially more serious hosed up situations.

Flerp, Sorry I'm not Flying Again

Another very strong one, very raw. I wonder if the grandfather-also-maybe-as-bird parts of the conceit don't hurt more than they help, though. 

Aesclepia, White

Competent, suffers by comparison for not being as intensely personal and for covering ground modern media is saturated in. 'Lazarus' is very, very on the nose, even as an explicit alias.

Getsuta, A Mormon Ghost Story

Another pretty okay story. My main note I'd that it spends a lot of time disclaiming and underlining the authenticity of what's going on in the Mormon tradition, alternating which one to a point where the statements undermine each other to the detriment of the actual story.

Simply Simon, The Man Who Was Too Calm

The opening lines are a bit awkwardly phrased, but you settle into a more natural rhythm later. Another of the sort of interesting personal war stories that are going to fall by the wayside this week next to the people who are opening veins...

Fleta McGurn, I Want Candy

'lakc'. 'qually'. 'wasa'. You had plenty of time to proof this stuff.

The story is strong, well-told, although the ending could have had a bit more room to breathe.

Yoruichi,428 Crown Street, Surrry Hills, NSW

Interesting. Well-written enough, but far away off prompt; this isn't at all story-like, true or not, but more of a portrait of a place, leaving the autobiographical second person protagonist blank.

Anomolous Blowout, The Crack Hand

Short but right to the point, in a lot of ways a more complete story than a lot of the longer pieces, not that that's a thing getting strongly judged on this week. Still, good.

Tyrannosaurus,everything the people can't be

Well told, raw, handling some psychologically interesting topics deftly.

Siddhartha Glutamate, its like that HUM song about time travel

I sort of like this one even though the tone doesn't quite match the content. It feels like it's reaching for a touch of Hitchhikers Guide arch cosmic humor, or maybe a but closer to How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, or Vonnegut as you mention, but doesn't quite match everything up quite right.

Nethilia, They'll Drag You Into the Shadows, If You Don't Know How to Scream

Also very, very good. My only complaint would be that the ATV/penis line was so cliched and on the nose that it pulled me out of the story for a little bit.

Black Griffon, Knowing a Life

This is pretty good too, overshadowed by some of the others this week, but very good. Closer to a meditation or essay than a story, and the suicide boy drifts from near stranger to friend during the telling from the reader's point of view.

Morning Bell, The Problems of Departure

Another in the more essay-like category, treading over ground familiar to most, connecting them with some well-constructed detail.  

Sitting Here, Carraway

This one is a snapshot of a moment in time, similar to Yoruichi's but more successful for making it about an emotional and personal instant rather than a place, and for not overstaying its welcome.

Sebmojo, Three Things I Remember Happening

Three vignettes, two of which are connected and a third not apparently so. The viewpoint plays a bit fast and loose, slipping unnecessarily away from the child's to the adults for editorializing, for points you might more strongly imply than state.

I've stopped saying things are good but so far nothing's been at all bad.

Vinny Possum, February 2008

Opener is missing a word, I think, doesn't read right. But once you get going we're okay. A lot of characters that don't quite matter,but the accumulation of them does, so that works out.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006




Rosa Flores, paranormal investigator, is dead. Whether this happens before, after, or during your story is up to you.

sign ups close friday midnight est
subs close sunday midnight est
1200 words

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


who's in?
Black Griffon
Sebmojo
Chili
Thranguy
Crimea
Getsuya
Adam Vegas
Fleta Mcgurn
Armack
Anomalous Amalgam :toxx:
Sitting Here
MockingQuantum
Anomalous Blowout
flerp's judging so he's not in
Sparksbloom :toxx:
Liquid Communism
Doctor Zero
SurreptitiousMuffin
Pham Nuwen
Saucy_Rodent yess
Djeser :toxx:
Antivehicular
Siddhartha Glutamate
Pepe Silvia Browne
Exmond
not Yoruichi (judging)
QuoProQuid
... and you?

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 03:30 on Jul 13, 2019

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Yes

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









YEAH/gently caress yeah in

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit




Fun Shoe

There is no way this is a responsible choice for me this week.

In

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




In

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


In.

Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013


Well in.

Adam Vegas
Apr 14, 2013





In.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Lmao I like it, in

Armack
Jan 27, 2006


How could I turn this down? In.

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

In :toxx:

Stomach Flus and Teething Babies may have bested me these past two weeks, but not this go around.

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


TD361 Judgecrits
I read all of these in judgemode; generally the quality was decent across the board. The lows were not abysmal, the highs were content to coast at cruising altitude rather than really gunning for the stars.

:siren: // Oorah, by Chairchucker
/ synopsis
Wargames of some sort are being played. Protagonist seems generally disengaged from what is happening, for reasons that are not explored, and is frustrated by the behavior of teammates. Protagonist ends up sort of saving the day, but in a fairly minimal and not at all exciting sort of way. In the end, everyone goes home.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
The significance of this history in the protagonist’s life is not communicated; it does not feel at all like this is an inflection point in the protagonist’s life.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
There are multiple places where I had thought that there were going to be some speculative elements introduced, but ultimately story elected not to include any. Not necessary, but given the deficiencies of the story, a little spice would have possibly helped, but flaws are more central than that.

/ general storycraft
Characterization is loose -- suffers from having too many characters spread too thin.

Plotting is murky, and thread of narrative peters out at the end -- it’s a bunch of stuff that happens, but it’s not immediately obvious why this is a story worth telling, unless you happen to specifically interested in wargames.

Conflict and stakes seem very limited.

Engagement of protagonist is low; they seem fundamentally uninterested in what’s happening around them, which raises the obvious question of why the reader should be interested.

/ final thoughts
Bit of a whiff -- feels like a thing that did happen, but it fails to be an interesting story.


:siren: // Sorry, I’m Not Flying Again, by flerp
/ synopsis
Grandfather dies, and protagonist struggles with personal sense of entrapment. Numerous references made to a previously written story about grandfather turning into a bird at death; protagonist comes to terms with their own solipsism.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
The death of the grandfather is obviously a formative moment, and don’t want to undercut this, and there’s some palpable anger at the Alzheimer’s disease that steals not only the grandfather’s memories, but also the protag’s memories of the grandfather.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
Ultimately these don’t seem to embellish the story all that effectively -- I’m guessing that the story about the grandfather turning into a bird is a story that actually exists, which may be the piece that I’m missing, but here there’s no sense of why turning into a bird is important. Like, maybe if the protag and the grandfather had bonded over a love of birding or something, that would be more effective. Also unclear as to why a blue jay is the bird of choice, etc.

/ general storycraft
This has the feel of something personal and deeply felt, and my sense is that the author might be too close to the material to be have a sense of authorial detachment from it. From an external perspective, it comes across as melodramatic and solipsistic. The references back to a previously written story make it feel very loose. I kept waiting for some self-awareness to show up.

Protag voice has an authentic feel to it.

/ final thoughts
There’s some good emotional raw material here that I think can be mined once it cools down a little, but it’s jumbled and choppy as it stands. Gut feeling is that this would be more interesting if it were combined with that earlier story, lengthened a bit, and maybe dig a little further into the kind of solipsistic urges that naturally come along with death, and how that relates to bird-ness and Alzheimer’s. Needs more glue.


:siren: // White, by Aesclepia
/ synopsis
A nurse’s patient dies in hospital, but through application of good nursing techniques, patient is brought back.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
The protagonist’s voice keeps the reader at arm’s length, and the major focus on clinical details means that this feels like the sort of thing the protag is prepared for. It doesn’t feel like much about the protag’s world changes as a result of what happens here.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
None, although maybe patient Lazarus feels a little too dead to be revived based on description?

/ storycraft
This feels like more of a medical curiosity kind of story, like a story doctors would tell each other, where the superficial details and technical considerations are the most important things to convey. This gives the story some authenticity, but there’s not a strong emotional core to latch onto here, we don’t get the sense that saving Lazarus was a formative moment, beyond giving a sense of pride in training.

Small note, naming the patient Lazarus was a mis-step, because as soon as he’s named I know he’s coming back to life -- it sucks all of the tension out of the story right there.

/ final thoughts
The stakes feel very low here; would advise trimming some of the more technical details, digging more into the emotional core of what makes this a formative moment.


:siren: // A Mormon Ghost Story, by Getsuya
/ synopsis
A bunch of Mormons on mission in Brazil have a spooky evening.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
The importance of the moment takes a bit of a subtle backseat here; the big thing here is that crack in the rational mind, even as it tries to retroactively subdue the weight of the experience itself, but we don’t get a great impression of why the protagonist is so dismissive of the possibility of this kind of satanic attack (full disclosure, I don’t know much about mormonism and what they believe vs what jehovah’s witnesses believe, and so there may be some subtleties here that went over my head). But either way, it’d be good to see the repercussions of this shift in the belief of what is possible explored more fully in the context of faith. As it is, it doesn’t quite rise above ‘this weird thing happened this one time’, i.e. it doesn’t feel like it’s been fully processed -- and maybe this first draft is an important step in the journey there.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
Left vague; the tapping itself is kind of spooky, but the fact that the appearance of Satan was somewhat ambiguous reduces the stakes significantly. Might be worth exploring how the story would change if the demonic attack was explicit and inarguable -- that’s where the power of fiction to explore broader strokes in character development becomes valuable.

/ storycraft
Protagonist is a bit at a remove -- the voicing around the last third was an opportunity to get deeper into the character. Feels a bit superficial, like a recounting of events; there’s plenty to dig into here to get under the surface of the character, but it’s left to the side. Ya gotta dig.

The details around the whole Mormon stuff give it some authenticity, but they feel a bit orthogonal to the plot as well as the character development -- we don’t get a good handle on just how solid the protag’s relationship with their faith is.

/ final thoughts
There are some strong themes that are ready to be explored here, but it feels like a bit of a superficial pass at the moment; needs another draft, some more digging, but there’s something interesting here.


:siren: // The Man Who Was Too Calm, by Simply Simon
/ synopsis
Someone steals the protag’s car because the keys were left in the glovebox; the police take some convincing before they accept that it wasn’t the protag driving drunk

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
Hard to see it; given that we’re told the protag doesn’t really care about the car, and that they didn’t actually drive it drunk, and that the cops generally don’t have any good reason to believe that the protag did, the stakes are pretty minor here. The calmness alluded to in the title doesn’t ever seem to actually be a problem; the only point at which the stakes raise a bit comes when the protag loses their cool.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
None used here, but this isn’t a case where adding spec elems would help; the flaws of the piece are structural

/ storycraft
There’s not a lot here for a reader to care about; it’s never made clear why this is an interesting episode in the protag’s life. The language relies heavily on fairly tired tropes and turns of language that are easily glossed over, e.g. opening with an unexpected phone call in the morning, etc. Dialog is a bit stiff, etc.

/ final thoughts
This feels like a piece to learn from -- i.e. keep this in the back pocket, and think more about how to develop the characters, how to play with tension and stakes, and how to make it more interesting. Maybe try and release it from the constraint of memoir, and see if you make it a fictional story about a similar set of events happening to a character, how you can make this a more satisfying story.


:siren: // I Want Candy, by Fleta McGurn
/ synopsis
A (satanic?) preacher delivers a sermon on the origins of their faith. Originally motivated by a desire for free candy, the future preacher is told as a seven year old that they and their family are going to hell by a religious ed teacher that honestly probably deserves some disciplinary action

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
Clearly a formative element in the development of the preacher’s relationship with faith, but protag comes across as passive -- this is a story in which stuff basically happens to Jenny, and it’s not exactly clear how the jump is made from ‘you’re going to hell’ to ‘i’mma be a satanic priestess’.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
Not really there, and this is a place where it could have been integrated in a bunch of different and interesting ways.

/ storycraft
Passive protag, murky plotting, not so great, but voice has some good and authentic moments. Not a lot of character development or interaction, aside from, maybe, Jenny and her mother. A few good details scattered throughout. Needs a more rigorous approach to proofreading.

/ final thoughts
A bit too superficial at the moment, but there’s some potential here.


:siren: // 348 Crown Street, Surry Hills, NSW, by Yoruichi
/ synopsis
Our protag sees an attractive girl at a cafe, and doesn’t do anything with it.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
There’s no sense that this encounter in the cafe is a formative moment; it seems more like this is part of a larger pattern that the protag might eventually work themselves out of.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
None used; would have potentially made some things more interesting.

/ storycraft
This story is a bit emblematic of the problem that many folks have with second person -- it’s trying to create interest through style, but that can’t make up for a story that’s missing more crucial elements like a real plot, or stakes, or character development, etc.

The imagery here is crisply imagined, which is good -- the vast majority of it doesn’t feel like it’s in service of the plot or character development, though, and that’s less good.

/ final thoughts
The imagery is good, but good details don’t make up for flat character work.


:siren: // The Crack Hand, by Anomalous Blowout
/ synopsis
Gold-prospectin’ hill-dweller kid has trouble fitting in with city kids, probably makes things worse by trying to use magic gold dousing ability to find a lost ring, unsuccessfully.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
It feels like this story is adjacent to an important moment in the kid’s life -- at some point, presumably, there needs to be some kind of reckoning where the kid comes to their own understanding of whether or not they believe in their own power, and while it feels like this event could be leading up to that crucial moment in the character’s development, it’s not there yet.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
The crack hand stuff is an interesting speculative detail in terms of how it builds the divide between city kids and hill kids, but I think it misses an opportunity by being coy with regard to whether the crack hand stuff is real; the dad is the voice of authority about whether the crack hand is real, and that makes it all a little ambiguous. If the kid was more convinced about their power, that’d make this more interesting.

/ storycraft
The voicing generally feels pretty good, although a bit caricaturish at times. Stakes feel low, and it feels like this story doesn’t start as close to the end as it could.

/ final thoughts
Feels a bit like the real meat of the story is still yet to come.


:siren: // everything the people can’t be, by Tyrannosaurus
/ synopsis
A young person struggles with the memory of having failed to save a friend from drowning, with deep repercussions.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
This hits the transformative moment well, without being on the nose about it. Extremely well done.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
It’s a delicate speculative touch with the inclusion of the ghost character, but their conversation feels like the weak part of the story as it currently stands; there’s room to push this farther to get further down on the characters.

/ storycraft
The first-person direct address format has a potential to be gimmicky, but for me it works well here, and is an effective way of building tension and stakes through the slow reveal of the narrator’s existence. The narrator comes across as very understanding of the protagonist’s viewpoint, though -- there’s a bit more opportunity for narrative tension than what is taken advantage of here.

/ final thoughts
This is very strong, and the construction is elegant and admirable. My personal preference would be to peel back the stylistic conceits to make more room for character development.


:siren: // It's like that HUM song about time travel, by Siddhartha Glutamate
/ synopsis
Our protagonist builds a time machine to save their eldest brother from being killed by a drunk driver, and goes to somewhat extreme spatiotemporal lengths to avoid time travel paradoxes.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
The death of the brother hits well as a formative moment, but could be stronger -- some more character development of the protag’s relationship with the brother, along the lines of how the parents are developed, would work well.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
The time travel stuff doesn’t interfere with the story, and it adds a few interesting elements, but it feels like it needs more mixing.

/ storycraft
Pretty decent -- the stuff around the death of the brother is strong. The sci-fi stuff gets a little jargon-y in ways that don’t necessarily contribute to the story all that well. Title is awful.

/ final thoughts
There’s some good material here, but it needs more development. Most importantly, there’s a lot of ground to cover and not many words with which to do it -- making sure all of the words are important is crucial.


:siren: // They’ll Drag You Into the Shadows, If You Don’t Know How to Scream, by Nethilia
/ synopsis
Three children have a close brush with evil

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
Moderately successful here, but the protagonist already starts out with a rather worldly perspective -- they know this is trouble from the get-go, and they begin the story with the knowledge that they end the story with. The employment of her screaming power gives this event some weight, but we don’t delve into the consequences of that usage.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
The speculative elements are muted; there’s a demonic aspect to Death Breath and Too-Many-Teeth that could be built up further, to push the metaphor of the frog prince to its darker side. The scream power could be built out further as well, because it’s not clear how the supernatural scream succeeds where just regular old screaming wouldn’t have.

/ storycraft
Good flow to the language, good pacing, great detailing. There’s a lot to like here, it just could use more in the stakes. Consequences could be explored more effectively.

/ final thoughts
Good stuff, could be improved with a bit more vulnerability for the characters.


:siren: // Knowing a life, by Black Griffon
/ synopsis
A young person reminisces about the deaths that have occurred around them, and uses the recent death of a grandparent to revisit their emotional relationship to the suicide of a classmate many years ago.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
The story doesn’t focus on a specific moment, and this is generally to its detriment; rather than trying to be an exhaustive account of all of the deaths that the protag has been witness to, it’d be more effective to dig at the specific relationship between the suicide of the not-well-known classmate and the natural death of Else. The story would also be strengthened by developing the relationship between the protagonist and the suicide -- there’s an emotional imbalance between the unknown classmate (who’s so little known that even their name is not mentioned) and the clearly loved grandparent that makes it a little lopsided.

We also don’t really see how this piece of processing is formative with regard to the protagonist’s relationship with their concept of death.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
There’s nothing that seems explicitly fantastical here, but the story is more in need of further depth than additional elements.

/ storycraft
Detailing is good, but lack of focus and character development is problematic. Stakes feel low -- the protagonist doesn’t ever actually seem to do anything.

/ final thoughts
Unfocused, passive protag, inconsistent emotional stakes.


:siren: // The Problems of Departure, by Morning Bell
/ synopsis
The death of the protagonist’s father anchors a retrospective examination of the protagonist’s over-emphasis on leaving places, and their attendant solipsistic tendencies.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
For a story that ends on a punchline about the perils of solipsism, the voicing of the protagonist is highly solipsistic; it’s not exactly clear that this is a turning point for the way in which the protagonist engages with the world.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
None, not needed.

/ storycraft
Big problem is the passivity of the protagonist voicing -- the events that are recounted have an emotional distance like scar tissue, and we don’t get beneath that. Like, e.g., the most meaningful departure is that of the father, but I don’t feel like we got a satisfying portrayal of what made it personally meaningful to the protagonist.

/ final thoughts
There’s good material here, but it’s spread thin and the connections are unclear. Lack of character development is problematic.

:siren: // Carraway, by Sitting Here
/ synopsis
A young girl grapples with her emerging sexuality, spurred by the teenage romance between her two best friends.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
It’s emotionally raw, and there’s an effective capturing of that sort of pre-sexual fog; I’m less convinced that this is a formative moment, rather than one of many example moments along a general pathway to a self-conception as someone on the sidelines of the game, one who throws parades rather than has parades thrown for them.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
None used, not needed.

/ storycraft
Wisely doesn’t overstay its welcome -- it gets away with not saying much through its brevity. But it feels like a pulled punch.

/ final thoughts
Feels like a low-effort sketch by a talented writer -- possibly loathe to push characters into hard places.

:siren: // Three things I remember happening, by sebmojo
/ synopsis
Three vignettes, all loosely orbiting the space of familial collapse.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
The piece is doing a thing that I like, where it’s picking pieces of memories adjacent to a major event, and by shifting the focus onto what would otherwise be background, it adds a sense of weightiness to what’s left unsaid.

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
Not really used; would not have improved piece.

/ storycraft
The blocking and sentence flow is all excellent; I’d’ve liked to see a bit more narrative cohesion between the individual vignettes, a way in which the seemingly non-sequitur-ish aspects reinforced the themes more explicitly, but it’s nicely done anyway.

/ final thoughts
A bit style over substance, but it’s very stylish.


:siren: // February 2008, by Vinny Possum
/ synopsis
Two bros visit a graveyard to pay tribute to a dead bro, and slam a few brewskis in the process.

/ is this an important moment in a character’s life?
There’s very little to suggest that any of these characters are changed by what happens over the course of this story; it’s more of a window into what appears to be a routine occurrence as part of their friendship. And so, the natural question raised is, what makes this interesting for a reader? Is there ever a point at which the tensions in this web of relationships rise to the foreground? What happens then? And why isn’t that the story?

/ is the use of speculative elements effective?
No overt speculative details used.

/ storycraft
There are a bunch of basic proofreading issues here, compounded by flat characterization and limp dialogue. The tension and stakes are muddled.

/ final thoughts
Feels like a sketch of remembered details that haven’t cohered into something resembling a story yet.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







hhahahahahaha this is dumb as poo poo

what i'm saying is, i'm in

and thanks for the crits :)

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012





In

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


Rosa Flores is dead. Long live Rosa Flores. In.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




A crit of Three things I remember happening by Sebmojo

1.

I’m sitting on the sun-warmed grass, looking at photos. The photos are bright in the sun, sparkling like jewels. I lay them out in a grid pattern, then move them into a line. They are good photos, of me and my mum and my brother and our cats and I’m sitting on the warm grass and my mum is hanging out the washing, flapping brightly coloured sheets and dresses.

Nice opening.

I hear whistling coming from down the path and look up, then smile: it’s my dad, whistling, coming down the path. He is wheeling a bicycle with coloured streamers flapping from the handles. It looks beautiful but it’s probably for my brother so I lower my head to my photos, which are still good. Perhaps a circle…?

Mum talks to him, there was something he did or he didn’t do, as I’m laying the photos out in a perfect circle, all facing in like rays of the sun.

Then there’s some shouting, and it makes me frown, but I’m not really listening. I suppose it’s been happening a lot with mum and dad and he doesn’t live with us any more, but I’ve mostly ignored it. Then dad steps on my circle of photos which was almost just right. There’s a foot there, and it’s on top of the photo. Mum is shouting quite loud, and she’s stepping on the photos too. This is bad.

“Don’t step on the photos,” I say.

They’re not listening, and they’re still stepping on the photos. One of the photos is bent down the middle and I pick it up. My head is full of tears now so I start crying.

“Don’t step on the photos!”

They’re not listening, because they’re both busy yelling and they’re grabbing each other and rocking back and forth and stepping on the photos, and I’m yelling too, and crying and all of the washing is flapping in the warm, afternoon breeze.

This is a nice snippet of memory which tells us a lot about the protag and their family. My only complaint is that the voice is a little unclear. Some bits sound more like an adult recounting a childhood memory (e.g. "The photos are bright in the sun, sparkling like jewels"), whereas the rest sounds like it's being told from the POV of a child. How young the protag is at this point is also not clear.

2.

It’s a long time later, maybe four years, and we’re in a car, me and my brother and my dad and we’re driving down the road to his latest house in the South Island.

He always has interesting run-down houses with lots of places to explore and hide, and I presume that is just the way things are with him moving around so I can have a cool place to stay with my brother when we come down for the holidays though I find out later it is because he keeps getting fired for disagreeing with people.

I’m sitting in the front, and my job is to dim the headlights when I see oncoming cars. I take it pretty seriously and my hand is on the switch. We’re all playing Tennis Elbow Foot, tossing words around the car as it eats up the flickering white stripes on the road ahead. This is a great image.

“Car,” I say.

“Tar,” says my brother.

“Road,” says dad.

“Toad,” I say.

“Prince,” says my brother.

“Princess,” says dad.

“Dad,” I say.

“That doesn’t rhyme and it doesn’t have anything to do with princesses,” says my brother, which is a typical thing for him to say.

“Why don’t you and mum just get back together?” I say.

The car is quite noisy with the sound of the tires on the road. My brother doesn’t say anything but I can hear him listening.

“We can’t do that,” says my dad.

That sounds reasonable so I nod, then I see a light coming and I flick the switch.

I really like this section. It follows nicely from the first.

3.

It’s definitely a long time later now, and I’m back in Wellington where I live with my mum and my brother and my step dad in a little wooden house up a lot of steps, and I’ve been sent up the hill to get fish and chips from the shop. The clouds are dark gray overhead. I have a rain coat, a wrinkly oilskin thing but it’s really not great at keeping the water out.

I’m thinking about our last trip down south, when we drove past a dam in Roxburgh and the spillway is going, just a ridiculous amount of water torrenting out of the lake above through a hole and down the steep concrete of the spillway and so we get out of the car to go stand beside it. The roar of the water is like being in a vacuum cleaner, and the air is thick with spray. There are patches of moss that have absorbed the spray and grown huge, glistening transparent bubbles, like they’re getting enough water from the spray to keep themselves going for a long time, years maybe. This is a nice image but unlike the details in the first two sections it doesn't tell us much about the protag.

As I’m thinking about water the rain starts, and it’s heavy, a thick, pummelling carpet of water that’s been upended on the city I live in, and I’m running up the hill, towards the open trapezoid garage I can see a bit further up the road.

I duck in, out of the downpour, and stand there. Water is pooling around my feet and I’m looking across the street to the A-frame brown house with its white windows and its trees with big pink flowers, looking through the carpet of rain that is lashing the footpath and the road and the footpath on the other side of the road and the cars and I look at the rounded, trapezoid shape of the garage that frames the rain and the house and the street and I think: I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.

I think you already know that this section is by far the weakest of the three. I like the ending - there is no reason at all why standing in a garage in the rain should be a notable memory, except that's the point, isn't it, that sometimes these random moments are the ones that get locked in our minds - but it doesn't fit with the first two sections. You needed to tie this back to the protag's relationship with his parents in some way to bring the whole story together.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


In :toxx:

Liquid Communism
Mar 9, 2004


Out here, everything hurts.






In.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

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

Poor Rosa. In.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


sure, I've been slack and I will be in

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




In

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


In for “inside joke I don’t get “ week.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


:siren: C H R I S T M A S :siren: C R I T S :siren:
(part 2)

cptn_dr
First section and I'm already seeing things I don't like and that you don't need. First, you have way too many said-isms. Pepper them in for flavor. Too much, though, and they become distracting. Second, I don't need to know that Zane and Jethro's last name is Astle. Is this minor? Absolutely. Does it add anything? Nope. So? Remove it. Second (and semi-related), people don't use each other's names in conversation as much as you've put them in here. It also doesn't add anything to your story because you've already established who the speakers and, since there are only two people present at a time, I'm not going to get confused as to who is being addressed. Third, your opener is a bit dull and I hate dull openers. That whole first paragraph is just set descriptions. Now, in terms of things I do like, I do like that you use the same "not pleased to his/her brother" bit. That's fun. I like the setting you chose for suburban gangster family dysfunction. Zane asking for a hook up is very real (and very sad). In fact, the whole thing is very sad. I think you could have topped it off by him, at the last minute, fishing the baggie back out of the trash because as much as he wants to quit... that's just not how this works in real life.

Entenzahn
I feel like you were attempting to imitate a stuffy, Victorian style of writing -- which you were successful in. Unfortunately, this means that you submitted a story in a stuffy, Victorian style of writing and I don't particularly love that. In any case, props for sticking to the prompt. Horror is rather difficult to do well in Thunderdome, it seems. The ring ring ring rung rung rung run run run would actually work quite well in, say, film. In fact, most of this would probably be quite fun in a film. It's not so fun in short story form, though. And at times it feels like you're having to summarize large bits where you'd like to dive in deeper thanks to the word count.

Rad-daddio
You don't earn your ending. The whole thing needs to be sillier if that's where you want to go with it. As is, it's like you realized you had 150 words left so you just punched out some silliness and call it a day. Granted, you had a difficult prompt to try and fulfill. And this does, in the most technical way possible, fulfill your prompt. But you didn't give me any foreshadowing, any build up, any reason to think that this was a good idea and not an impromptu washing of your hands before you hit submit. Also, this is a little white savior-y for my tastes.

QuoProQuid
This is just a cool idea. A great, creative take on the prompt. I'd remove the Archie reference, though. Makes me have too many questions about alternate universes and poo poo. You should probably use the word naughty a few more times. As is, you use it in the beginning as a concept, and then it kinda fades away. Two times in the whole story and it's the first sentence but a major concept. Good closure. Good ending.

Antivehicular
A masterful take on a difficult prompt. This is just phenomenal. Sometimes I read your stories and I lament because I do not know how to replicate what you seem to do so well and so flawlessly.

Apophenium
This wasn't great but it wasn't awful either. It was... pleasant. Yeah, pleasant. A quick read -- which I always appreciate. The dialogue was believable. The dinner scene was cute. All your story i's were dotted and t's were crossed. I've felt like I've seen this sort of story a dozen times before and that's maybe your biggest flaw. There wasn't really anything new brought to the table -- other than maybe the Killers with a Conscience bit.

SlipUp
A bit predictable and on the nose. Especially the last line. The french conversation is enjoyable enough and serves its purpose. The cooking seems like a contrived way to make them "fall in love" -- which I'm assuming was the point based off of your prompt. They don't really feel like they are in love. The "husband" line is as clumsily thrown out there as the request for pizza (intentional or...?).

Thranguy
My biggest disappointment here is that your story isn't southeast asian. Your title tells me its future Singapore but that's it. I wonder why you went with all English names. Otherwise, you have a fun, creative world -- albeit one that leaves me with questions (tentacle, tattoo, etc). I feel like there must be some symbolism I am missing. Sex rooms is engaging and sweet.

GenJoe
So I ruled out "coming of age hitman musical" pretty quick which left me wondering how this was a "quirky smalltown slasher." In particular the quirky bit -- which seems to be the most interesting component of the prompt, yes? Then you have a bison cause a car crash at the end and I thought, ah, yes, there it is. I wish you had spent more time actually fleshing this out rather than rushing to beat the bell to submit because I'm quite charmed.

Sebmojo
I love the thought that new planets need new myths. We could probably do a whole week with just that as the prompt. The visual of someone in a spacesuit riding a reindeer out into a storm is also dope af. Motivations were good. Kiss line landed. Don't really have much else to say. This was fun to read.

onsetOutsider
The archive says that this is a redemption story. It also says that if I don't give you a crit it will continue to count against my record so here we go: 1) submit on time 2) use more of your words -- 300 isn't enough to do really anything 3) follow the actual prompt. You got Serial Killer Monster Buddy Cop Documentary about Fame and you gave me drag queen pole dancers who are mistaken for actual police at the tail end of Sexy Cop Night at the club. Which is interesting! But has gently caress all to do with what you were assigned.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



in :toxx:

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Aw, heck, I'll give this a shot. In.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


LEEERRRROOY JEEEENNKIIIINS

A Ship in Space: the Spaceship Chronicles: Chapter One: Space

945 words

Captain Dirk Blazeblazer pushed the giant accelerator lever all the way forward.

“If we don’t stop Gorlas from stealing the Quantum Synthesizer, he’s going to use it to destroy the Hot Green Biddy Planet, killing the Hot Green Biddies thus rendering them unable to reward us sexually for saving them,” said his First Mate, Tyrellius Jutch.

“We can’t let that happen,” scowled Dirk.

“Dear me, but my calculations show us arriving at the Quantum Synthesizer in ten minutes,” said the pilot of the USS Spaceship, Sir Flippington the Excessively British Genetically Engineered Dolphin.

“I hope that’s fast enough,” said Miriam Lipman the intern, bringing energy drinks for the crew.

The evil Gorlas, looking like a cross between the Creature from the Black Lagoon and an octogenarian’s scrotum, appeared on the view screen.

“Ah, Gorlas,” said Dirk. “More like...”

“Yes, I know, Gorl-rear end, make another joke,” gargled Gorlas. “It’s too late. I’ll be at the Quantum Synthesizer in five minutes. And then, after I use it to compose my Symphony of Death, there won’t be any Hot Green Biddies left to bang!”

“You just wait,” said Dirk. “We’re going to stop you, and by this time tomorrow we’ll be celebrating the sacred Hot Green Biddy holiday of Bang-ksgiving. Even Miriam, cuz she’s bi.” It sounds like a joke, but the Hot Green Biddies’ most sacred holiday really was called Bang-ksgiving.

“You’ll never stop me,” cackled Gorlas. “You downgraded your thrusters so you could afford that motorcycle!”

“That motorcycle is dope!” shouted Dirk. “Blazeblazer signing out.” Dirk hung up on Gorlas.

“Sir, I’m afraid Gorlas is right,” said Sir Flippington the Excessively British Genetically Engineered Dolphin while nibbling on a fish crumpet. “Your motorcycle is admittedly cool, but the sacrifices made for its purchase mean that we won’t catch up with Gorlas in time.”

“There must be a way,” said Dirk. “There’s always a way.”

“Woooooooo,” came a haunting, ethereal voice from outside the ship. Through the walls came a transparent female figure. It was a spooky ghost!

“Who are you?” Dirk whispered in fear.

“I am Rosa Flores,” said the spooky ghost. “I was a paranormal investigator in life, and thus became a paranormal investigatee in death.”

“I don’t understand,” said Jutch. “Why are you here?”

“I’m an inside joke from another time, another world,” said Ghost-Rosa.

“Excuse me if I come across as rude, madam, for that is not my intention, but doesn’t an inside joke just serve to alienate those people outside of the loop?” said Sir Flippington the Excessively British Genetically Engineered Dolphin.

“No,” said Ghost-Rosa. “An inside joke never divides. We only unite.”

“But what if we don’t get it?” Miriam asked.

“You will someday,” said Ghost-Rosa. “For now, try to get in on the ground floor of another.” Then she went “wooooooooo” and vanished.

“But why did she give us a lesson about inside jokes during this very important mission to get laid and in the process save billions of lives?” Miriam asked.

“Ground floor, ground floor, ground floor,” muttered Dirk. “Of course! Follow me!” He leapt out of his captain’s chair.

“Where are you going?” shouted Jutch.

“To the basement of the spaceship!” yelled Dirk. “Don’t you see? That’s where the button to activate the Secret Ultra Turbo Thrusters is! That’s what Rosa was trying to tell us.”

“Yes, about that,” said Sir Flippington the Excessively British Genetically Engineered Dolphin. “I do seem to recall that you said that we would never have to use that button so you put your enormous tank of Space Sharks in front of it. There’s no way to get to the button unless you go over the tank.”

“Well then, I guess that buying that motorcycle wasn’t such a dumb financial decision,” said Dirk.

The crew got to the spaceship basement. Dirk got on the motorcycle.

“Captain, you’re going to have to jump twice as far as Evil
Knievel’s furthest jump!” said Jutch. “You’ll never make it!”

“I don’t like your bad attitude, Jutch. Sir Flippington, my Excessively British Genetically Engineered Dolphin friend, turn off the artificial gravity. Miriam, get that motorcycle ramp from the corner. Next stop, Quantum Synthesizer. Next next stop, Fucksville, capital city of the Hot Green Biddy Planet.” It sounds like a joke, but the capital city of the Hot Green Biddy Planet actually was called Fucksville.

Sir Flippington the Excessively British Genetically Engineered Dolphin hit the switch to turn off the artificial gravity, which was also in the basement, starting a countdown. Miriam set up the ramp next to the Space Shark Tank.

“Miriam,” said Dirk. “If I don’t make this sick jump, I wanted you to know that even though I’m your boss, and even though I’m fifteen years older than you, and even though you were constantly turning down my offers of professional advancement in exchange for sexual favors, I always loved you.”

“I know,” said Miriam.

“3...2...1...” the countdown rang over the loudspeakers. Dirk revved the motorcycle and launched himself off the ramp.

The gravity turned off, letting Dirk float over the top of the Space Shark Tank. It was working! Dirk couldn’t believe it. The crew whooped and cheered and hollered.

Then the Space Sharks, freed from the bondage of gravity, were able to swim up and eat Dirk mid-jump. They did that. That happened. Then they swam about the ship eating everyone else on the crew and also the redshirts.

Then Gorlas stole the Quantum Synthesizer easily and destroyed the Hot Green Biddy Planet and no one banged the Hot Green Biddies ever again.

Rosa Flores went to hell for her failure.

THE END

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Siddhartha Glutamate
Oct 3, 2005


I was trying to think of a pun.... But I'mma bad writer, so just in.

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