ok i should close it now but i have one more rule so beautiful it burns me, who will pick it from my smouldering brainmeats
My initial question about picking two hellrules was a hint that I wanted the deep-hellrulle that Djeser ended up with, so seeing as I'm dealing with your two previous hellrules, I'll take it unless someone else steps up within the allotted time. I will have the pain I am owed, sebmojo.
|# ? Sep 7, 2019 13:31|
|# ? Jan 27, 2022 07:42|
My initial question about picking two hellrules was a hint that I wanted the deep-hellrulle that Djeser ended up with, so seeing as I'm dealing with your two previous hellrules, I'll take it unless someone else steps up within the allotted time. I will have the pain I am owed, sebmojo.
Your story is set in the mesosphere
|# ? Sep 7, 2019 13:38|
Word count: 1104
They turned out the lights when they threw me down here did the executioners and now I’m in the dark. The fall didn’t hurt much and didn’t feel much like nothing at all. Just elbows and rib cages and bodies and bodies and stuff like that but I can’t see since they turned out the lights. I guess you know this since you’re down here with me.
I landed on my side and my right arm is dangling over my head and my left arm is under here and my legs are sprawling all over I think with what feels like all the other legs. Everything feels a little disconnected like they cut my strings and I guess I made this noise fwump when I landed down here. I don’t know what noise it should make when bodies land on bodies but I guess it’s that but I can’t hear so good and I can’t see and I can’t feel the floor.
I guess you can’t see anything either or speak and we’re in a blackout and I can’t feel where you are. If one of these things I’m touching is you then start screaming and shaking or something like that. I don’t think that was you and my hand is touching a fleshy stump. Beneath it is a short slender tube with this little lump and then it widens out and there’s bones and things. I’m crawling all over. I still can’t find you.
It’s hot down here. Very hot and my hands are claggy and my knees are aching from all the crawling around. It’s in piles and I clamber up one pile and try to get down the other but sometimes I trip over another stump or put my hand in something fleshy or something and I’m tumbling down and landing uneven on my back. There’s hands on my spine. Move your hands if one of them is yours.
I’m glad you’re here because this is all very tough and I need someone to talk to. I used to work in the asylum cleaning up all the poo poo and blood and all the stuff before they threw me in this hole. There wasn’t a lot of people to talk to. I was stupid before and I feel stupider now.
I think this body is broken too much. I’m grabbing the body and rolling it over and beneath the body feels like flat stone. I don’t know how deep I am and I can’t see anything. I wonder what you did before you got thrown in the hole.
Nothing smells of anything. I thought it would be rot and blossoming gore and such but it’s not nothing. The smell that is with me is the memory smell of the pollen that drifted and danced from the daisies that grew beneath the asylum windows. It made me sneeze. I sort of want to sneeze now but I can’t.
Is this you? This body feels like leather and I’m holding it very close and it used to be a person and my chest is pressed against theirs. It reminds me of something. I can’t hear my own breathing. I push off the body and I put my hands to my chest and it’s not rising. It’s all still as my hand lingers and moves along and the hairs curl between my fingers. I want you to tell me this is happening to you so I’m not alone in this because I’m breaking and my heart is jerking around I think. I want you to tell me I’m not alone because I know you’re there but you have no mouth or I’m deaf.
I keep thinking spiders are crawling on me and running down my back but it’s just dangling hands and feet which I am drifting past. I’m following the floor still, reaching out and sweeping past the debris. If I reach the corner and I’m still going and I can get out or something and get back to the daisies.
I can’t see and the last thing I remember seeing was the executioners as they lay me down on the board of that contraption with the dropping edge. There were two of them and I don’t think they had heads. One of them was pulling a rope and above his neck was a swarm of bees all dancing in a circular coil about four feet up and two feet wide and all buzzing and everything I think. The other one had a bronze bell hanging over like the one they have in churches. It was ringing back and forth and the mallet inside the bell which swung back and forth caught the exposed neck each time and sort of caught on it so that its arc had carved out a little trench of gore in his neck. I think. The ringing and the buzzing and the squelching all made up this big noise which is the last big noise I remember before they pushed me off the plank and into the pit. There was something in the basket.
My fingertips are touching something now. It’s a right angle. Something vertical. It’s hard and like nature and riven with little lines and as I’m moving my fingers out I feel a dip and a little gap of nothing and then the rustic feeling again. It’s a door and it’s wooden and I found a wooden door.
Something fantastic is leading my hands to the handle which is cold and metal and I’m standing there and I must be standing in the frame with my hand on the door but I can’t see and I know I can’t open it. It’s not locked but I can’t turn the handle. You know that too.
I can’t see and I can’t smell and I can’t hear and I can’t taste and I can’t even think I think. I’m like a chicken body running on instinct I think. My hand is leaving the handle and raising up to my face and there’s only air and I explore a little lower and it’s raw. My neck is raw. You can see this now, can’t you? You can’t see me claw at the exposed flesh at my stump and my bloody wild fingers pull at my spine and crawl into my oesophagus and pulling it apart. You’re seeing me fall to my knees and keel over just mindless and with the last engines going out in rending my flesh and I’m stewing in my own flesh. You’re just visiting. The door was for you.
Now you’re going to close it.
Flash Rule: None of your characters have a head.
|# ? Sep 7, 2019 18:59|
I made a Thunderdome poster for the SA propaganda thread
|# ? Sep 8, 2019 04:12|
I made a Thunderdome poster for the SA propaganda thread
i love this
|# ? Sep 8, 2019 04:13|
ALL THE THINGS WE THOUGHT WE KNEW
Hellrule: your story takes place back to front, and upside down.
The grove was quiet on the day of my death, underscoring the changes we’ve all been through. I looked at the sapling that once was the corpse of my closest friend. I never thought I’d live to see the death of a God, but then again, I didn’t think I’d live to see a lot of things.
I looked at Jackie, the way her eyes shone with cold fire, and I tried to remember how it all began, but my mind was so fuzzy and tired that images crashed through it in a haze, no logic, no form. Just raw data, nerve endings scraping against each other. In the last waning seconds, I looked at the knife in my chest as I felt my fingers harden and my toes turn to roots. In the silence I coughed out my last two words.
The snow crafted me a soft blanket, and I shut my eyes and dreamed of better days.
Mizzy looked at me and pointed toward the grove. It had been a few days journey and I struggled to remember why I was here.
“The forest of souls, remember?” Mizzy whispered in my ear. I’d been here before, or rather some other version of me had, but that was a long time ago. I looked at the tree that would bear my essence and drew out a rattling breath.
“It looks a little scrawny”
“Well, it’ll be a good fit for you in that case.” Mizzy laughed quietly.
“Personally, I’ve always seen myself as more of a Ficus.” I said
I shrugged and placed my hands on the bark, feeling its warmth. Jackie was probably in the grove already, waiting for me, calling me home.
“Well, something ends, something begins, as they say.” I took a few hesitant steps, wincing as my broken body screamed silently at me to stop. A little longer thus, and I would be free at last.
The sickness came early. Creeping through my body. I burned with fever, every movement a small symphony of pain. No poultice could help me, no washcloth could cool me down. Mizzy appeared out of the corner of my eye.
“I’d help, but we both know it has to be this way.”
I nodded, too weak to form words, spitting up things unsaid onto my hospital pillow.
“It’s a three day hike to the forest.”
I nodded again.
“She’s probably already there.”
I nodded a third time.
Mizzy leaned over me and I looked into his eyes and saw the dance of space and all his shifting forms.
“There’s no other way. It’s fate.” He said. “I’m sorry.”
I gurgled something that sounded like acceptance.
I remember I saw her as my village burned. Clad in coats of flayed flesh and skin of tree bark, the smoke and screams of the dying crafting a hymnal, a soundtrack to her dance of death. She’d grown since the last time I saw her, no longer a girl now but a woman, a warrior, the blood caked thick on her flesh. Beside me Mizzy sat nonchalantly observing the carnage.
“Look at her go.”
I turned to him with a frown on my face.
“Have some respect.” I snapped. “Those are still my people.”
“Not for long. Watch out. Here comes the dart.” He said
A strange stinging. Fire in my flesh and I fall asleep to the ringing of steel on steel.
You ever meet somebody one day and you just feel the wheel of fate turning for you at precisely this moment? The feeling of naked truth that gets you like a spear in the ribs? Two people did this to me. One was a God, the other was a girl. The God I met lounging by a river bank when I was a child. The girl happened to be my closest friend. We were playing by the river, trying to catch fish with our crude nets, when a bored sounding voice drawled out
“It’s cute that you like her. Though it’ll make it hard for her to kill you this time.”
I turned to observe a man with jeweled skin sitting in the shade of a tree.
“What did you say?” I asked
He continued on, ignoring me. “The problem with this instance is that since you like her, we’re going to have a rough go in the forest of souls.” He smiled mischievously. “But I think I can work with this.”
He got up and walked toward us.
“You.” He pointed to me. “Are going to die. By her hands.” He nodded toward Jackie.
He grinned again.
“My name is Mizzy. I’m a God. Are you ready to die?”
|# ? Sep 8, 2019 06:44|
Wendy Nienaber re-materialised in her shabby office, trembling with excitement. She had succeeded where centuries of scholars, linguists and cryptographers had failed. She had decoded the Voynich Manuscript, and used its secrets to travel through space and time. Wendy had met the wizard who wrote the codex, gazed at the mysterious galaxies that were illustrated on its vellum pages, and washed herself in the waters of an alien planet. Wendy dried her cheeks on the sleeve of her yellow cardigan and straightened the waistband of her corduroy skirt. She was going to tell the world of her breakthrough, vindicate her decades of fruitless research and found a whole new field of scientific inquiry. But first, she had to tell Richard.
Wendy’s Dr Martens rung on the cobblestones as she crossed the bridge to the Physics Department. She remembered how she and Richard used to sit on the riverbank after lectures, drinking beer and pontificating about metaphysics, their fingers intertwined. It had been years since they had talked like that. These days they hardly spoke at all.
She stopped outside Richard’s office. It was one of the big ones, with a good view, unlike Wendy’s view of the carpark. Her unruly, greying bob tickled her face. Irritated, she snapped two hair ties off her wrist and pulled her hair into pigtails. She took a deep breath. This was the moment she had been working towards for most of her adult life.
The door flew open and Richard strode out, bumping Wendy with his paunch.
“Sorry, Wendy!” he said, and gave one of her pigtails a tug. “Nice hairdo. How goes the mysterious codex?”
Wendy shoved him away. This was the last time he would talk down to her. “I’ve done it,” she said. “The Voynich Manuscript. I’ve decoded it.”
Wendy searched Richard’s face, waiting for that old fire to light up in his eyes. He had been just as fascinated by the mysteries of the Voynich text as her, in the early days.
Richard cocked an eyebrow, then looked at his watch.
“It’s a manual for travelling through space and time.”
Richard snorted. “Nice one,” he said. “But you know that’s impossible. Did you come all the way up from Linguistics just to tell me that?”
Wendy stiffened. “You don’t believe me.”
Richard tilted his head to one side, then the other. “Wendy, you look like poo poo. Are you getting enough sleep?”
Wendy was crushed. Why had she wanted this man to be the first she told? She should have known he would react like this. Obsessed with climbing the university’s ranks, Richard had closed his mind to anything but the departmental orthodoxy.
Wendy grabbed Richard’s hand. “Come with me,” she said. The warmth of his fingers sent a shiver up her arm, and she shook her head. After all these years, she thought. The reached her office door, and Wendy thrust it open.
“What in god’s name have you been doing in here?” Richard said, taking in the unearthly botanic diagrams painted on the walls, the basins of water arranged on the floor and the rows of tubing tied with bits of string to the ceiling tiles. Wendy’s copy of the Manuscript lay open on her desk.
“Stand there,” she commanded, and upended a basin of water over his head.
Richard blinked the water from his eyes and gasped with shock as he found himself standing in a shallow pool of water cupped in the flower of an enormous plant. Unfamiliar constellations twinkled in a lilac sky. The ground was hidden by an undulating sea of mist.
“Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe!” called Wendy, from another flower some ten meters to Richard’s left.
“Is this the one you told me about?” said a short, tonsured man wearing rough brown robes, who drifted towards them on another thick stem. Water dripped from the flower's petals and disappeared into the haze below them with a sound like distant bells. “The one with the stick up his arse?”
“Richard, meet Roger Bacon, author of the Voynich Manuscript,” said Wendy.
“But, carbon dating proves that the Manuscript was produced at least a hundred years after Roger Bacon died!” said Richard, a note of hysteria in his voice.
“You travel in the blink of an eye to the center of the Andromeda Galaxy and you’re worried about carbon dating?” said Wendy.
Roger Bacon snorted.
“But, that’s impossible!” said Richard. “I must be hallucinating, or dreaming, or--”
“Why do you love this one so much?” said Roger, turning to Wendy. “He is clearly an imbecile.”
“I never said I loved him!”
Roger tiled his head to one side, and spread his hands in a gesture that seemed to suggest that, even to a space wizard, some things were pretty obvious.
“Wendy, what’s he talking about?” said Richard. He was gripping the edges of his pool, white-kuncked, and peering at the mist that swirled beneath their feet.
Leaning carefully forward, Wendy made her pod glide close to Richard’s. “Twenty years,” she said. “It took me twenty years to achieve what others had failed to do in hundreds of years of study. And you never once acknowledged what I was doing. You treated me like a fool.”
The stems of the huge plant shook.
“I’m sorry!” said Richard.
Water gushed from the flowers, and where it hit the mist it hissed into great clouds of steam.
“Time’s up,” said Roger Bacon, and brought his hands together with an almighty crash. The pods split open, Wendy grabbed Richard’s hand as they fell, and--
“Nice view, isn’t it,” said Wendy, as Richard put down another box onto her new desk. From the top of the newly constructed Nienaber Tower they could see over the university’s rooftops and all the way down to where the sun sparkled on the city’s harbour.
“Well, that’s the last one. I guess I’ll leave you to your unpacking.” Richard dusted his hands against his thighs, turned to go, then paused. “I don’t suppose you’d like to go for a beer, would you? That is, if you can suffer the company of a pretentious old fool.”
Wendy peered down out of her floor to ceiling window. The campus river snaked around the Tower’s base, the last of the afternoon sun stroking its grassy banks.
“Well, I do have some ideas about metaphysics that I’d be interested in your thoughts on,” said Wendy, and smiled.
|# ? Sep 8, 2019 09:46|
So Much for Globe Theory
The rocket stood, tall and majestic in the backyard of number four Clovis Lane, Jacksonville, Florida. The name “USS TRUTH” was emblazoned across the ship’s flanks in bold, yellow letters.
The pilot-to-be, Frank Gasden, stood at the focal point of a semicircle of microphones and TV cameras. His homemade flight suit was a mass of tubes and straps. A refurbished Self Contained Breathing Apparatus salvaged from the local fire department would provide his oxygen supply for the voyage.
A news reporter for the local channel stepped forward to conduct her exclusive.
“Mr. Gasden, you’ve been called ‘the Galileo of Flat-Earth Theory’ by your contemporaries in the community. Your theories have even captured the attention of the President of the United States,” said the reporter. “What do you hope to achieve with your venture into the upper atmosphere?”
Fank Gasden fixed the camera with the intense, almost lunatic stare that had become so well-known on talk-TV over the past few weeks.
“I reckon to destroy once and for all the lies that’s been shoved down our throats all these years.” Gasden’s accent was a thick, Florida drawl that belied his many degrees in aerospace engineering. “Globe theory ain’t nothin’ but a dirty hoax by the Illuminati to control commerce.”
“Mr. Gasden, Mike Hughes attempted the same mission in two thousand eighteen with inconclusive results. What makes you think you will succeed where he failed?”
Frank worked his tongue in his jaw as he worded his answer.
“Whelp, I’ll be flying a bit higher than Mr. Hughes for one thing,” answered Frank. “Mike Hughes now he made it up almost two thousand feet, but the establishment claims that’s not high enough to see the so-called ‘curvature of the earth.’”
“And how high is your rocket supposed to take you?” asked the reporter.
“Two hundred thousand feet, or just under thirty eight miles up,” answered Frank. “From up there —so the hoaxers claim— the ‘curvature of the Earth’ should be plainly visible to the naked eye.”
“Were you surprised when the president directed the FAA to grant you special permission to launch your rocket from a residential area?” the reporter asked.
“No, ma’m.” Frank shook his head. “He’s a straight shooter who knows the truth when he hears it. I reckon the Illuminati were mighty pissed off when their shill lost the election.”
“One final question, Mr. Gasden,” said the reporter.
“Are you nervous?” she asked.
“Oh, I’m terrified.” Frank grinned into the camera, his wild eyes bugging.
“Well, good luck!” wished the reporter.
The rocket leaped up on a roaring column of fire. Gee-forces pressed Frank back hard into his seat. The rocket groaned around him as the force of acceleration pushed its homemade components to the limit. Fuel pumps machined by a sympathetic shop teacher at the local high school and assembled in Frank’s garage whirred and struggled as the rocket continued its steady climb.
The dials showed everything was working smoothly and the rocket was ascending according to his calculations. The instrument panel and all the gauges were calibrated in accordance with the Flat-Earth model, so the fact that all the instruments were showing true was a good omen.
The altimeter continued to count up steadily. The pressure of acceleration increased as the rocket burned off the weight of its fuel and picked up speed. Once the ship reached the top of its arc at two hundred thousand feet, the tanks would be empty and the ship would be in freefall until its chutes opened.
The sudden silence of the rocket engines was so sudden and jarring that Frank clapped his hands to his ears, momentarily afraid that he’d gone deaf. The altimeter was still ticking up, a hundred and ninety nine thousand. Nearly there.
Frank lifted his camera to the stunning vista below. From his altitude, the sun should have been visible appearing over the so-called “curvature” of the earth, but it was still full dark.
“So much for globe theory.” Frank smiled to himself.
Above, the sky was a thin violet. The stars almost blindingly sharp. He was snapping a photo of the lights of Washington DC —which should not have been visible beyond the theoretical horizon— when he felt a sudden lurch in the pit of his stomach. Beads of condensation detached from the edges of the canopy and drifted before his eyes as weightless globes. The camera drifted out of his fingers and hung in the air as if by magic. He was in freefall.
Below him, the world stretched out like a blanket of stars to match the one above. The lights of Jacksonville weren’t visible through the body of the rocket, but farther off, he could see the lights of major cities in clusters that sketched the familiar outline of the American east coast and beyond, up into Canada.
A tear detached itself from his eye and drifted up to join the constellation of droplets that filled the cockpit.
He’d done it.
In a few more minutes he’d be safely home and the lie of the Globe Theory would finally be destroyed once and for all.
Frank glanced at the altimeter; expecting to see his descent already in progress.
Two hundred and twenty thousand.
The numbers were still climbing.
There was no radio in the cabin. No way to signal the ground that something was wrong. He’d assumed that any malfunction would kill him instantly, and that any report verifying Flat Earth would be jammed by the Illuminati. The radio would have just been dead weight.
The numbers continued to climb, and they were going faster.
How was this possible?
Long minutes passed, then hours. The altimeter stopped counting at nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine feet. The little ship tumbled until Frank could no longer tell the stars above from the city lights below. He was sick from dizziness. Globules of vomit drifted in the cramped cockpit and splattered the windows. Oxygen was depleted and he slipped in an out of consciousness.
Frank awoke to the sound of roaring wind and blazing sunlight. Somehow he was still alive!
The sun was high in the sky, the water a blazing bright blue below. The altimeter was working again. He was still high up; almost sixty thousand feet. The land spread out below him like a map.
But it wasn’t Florida down there. It took Frank’s groggy brain ten thousand feet to recognize the coastline rushing up to meet him. It wasn’t the East Coast or even North America; The USS Truth was on a trajectory to come down in the East China Sea.
“So the Earth is a globe after all,” said Frank as the terrible realization finally struck him.
The Earth was a globe, and we were all trapped inside.
The Truth’s chutes deployed as designed and set the rocket down gently into the waters of the East China Sea where the unfortunate craft, never designed for a water landing, sank like a stone.
Frank drowned with his ship.
Though the Chinese Navy would later investigate the splashdown site, the Truth was never found.
|# ? Sep 8, 2019 16:36|
Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:52 on Jan 1, 2020
|# ? Sep 8, 2019 20:51|
A garotte is a very personal murder weapon. From behind, you embrace your victim like a lover you have grown apart from. This is your final moment together, you smell their hair for one last time. So intimate, and yet you cannot even look them in the eye.
Gabriel held Andrea upright through her death spasms. She had been a good boss, building familial ties with her subordinates like policy demanded. In her five short months at the Chicago office, she had become a sister, mother, best friend to Gabriel’s colleagues. So yes, this was personal in many ways.
Gabriel had never killed before. In the days leading up to this, he had often been sitting at his desk, vision blurring as he beheld the latest spreadsheet meant to optimize the earth’s destruction. Like the numbers on there, he had balanced in his mind the cost of a human life against all of them. Had tallied up the number of lives that he might have to take until mother nature could be saved. Would he run out of emotional resources before the end of the month? Or year? Or however long it would take?
But now, as Andrea slumped against his chest burning with a righteous heart, he realized he’d have to correct his profits upwards. This had been simple. Clean. Efficient. As if he were powered by radiant sun, wind under his wings, contrary to the black lump of coal pumping crude oil through Andrea’s veins.
She’d been a perfect cog in the machine that was boiling the planet. Worked late every day until she was alone with Gabriel, the dedicated colleague whose perfect spreadsheets had earned him a promotion. And a move to Bogotá, far away from people wondering if Andrea had really burned out and hung herself.
And in Bogotá, Gabriel would be a supervisor himself. With someone even higher above him who’d treat him like family because you can ask anything from family. And then, Gabriel would get intimate with his garotte again.
Until he reached the top of the corporate ladder.
In Bogotá, Gabriel worked on another spreadsheet. A time budget, now, a delicate balance between his tasks. He had to keep his workers happy, ease their exploited lot the best he could. Make them feel like his beloved sons and daughters. He needed to plan his next execution a lot better than Andrea’s. And of course he had to actually do his job, in order to keep access to his potential victims.
He pulled up his boss' CV. A great motivational tool. This monster had supervised deforestation efforts to establish a new plant in Chile. Before, he'd been in finance, directing cash flow into shadow companies. Here in Bogotá, he was already responsible for increasing emissions by bribing testers and officials. Something Andrea could have gone on to do as well, with the skills of her mercury tongue.
Yes, Gabriel was doing the right thing. This guy deserved to die, then maybe Gabriel would take his job, or the next victim's job, and all the way up, leaving ever more deserving bodies in his wake. And why stop there? If he got to a position of actual power in this one evil company, what about all the others? Could he start purging middle managers like Andrea more directly?
Gabriel felt his stomach turn, having caught a whiff of disgust from his own thoughts. Killing Andrea had not affected him, but somehow, treating her like just a position in his spreadsheets felt wrong. Progressing from the intimate garotte to columns and statistics, soldiers in a corporate war where he wanted major losses on both sides, the amount rising like his bosses wanted their profits to.
But these vultures were all the same, weren’t they? Dehumanizing drones that deserved this very fate in return? Gabriel needed a reminder. He pulled up Andrea's CV from his archives. To find the truth behind the tearful eulogies and warm words spoken about her during the funeral.
Born in Germany, studied Economics, internship at the company during her Bachelor's, returned after an ambitious Master in Logistics, went abroad to America for a work trip, liked it there and got married, worked on successful projects...
Gabriel frowned. Reorganization of the archival system, reduced the paper usage fivefold. Sent her employees on train trips instead of flights, reducing costs and emissions. Promoted for — increasing efficiency of the waste disposal routes, which saved transport costs but again lowered pollution?
Where were his reasons for hating her, the sexual assault scandal she had covered up in Germany, the misfiling of environmental records that had forced her move to the US? Had he murdered someone who had actually tried her best?
Some more digging, and a bucket of cold water dropped on Gabriel. Two days before Andrea had left Germany for good, her manager was found in a restroom, his wrists slit in apparent suicide.
Had she been like Gabriel? A crusader for some justice in this world of corporate monsters? Killed someone higher up and vanished before she was found out?
All his righteousness drowned out of Gabriel, and the guilt of a murderer crashed upon him. His fingers trembled on the keyboard, spoiling the work of the last hours. He had read Andrea's CV so often it had practically burned itself into his screen in Chicago - and the record of her crimes into his mind. He hadn’t misunderstood some information - someone had outright faked it!
But who might want employees to think bad of their supervisors, incite a specific kind of fury only in the ones who were still clinging to a conscience? Drive people with a conviction strong enough to kill for it to eliminate a fellow idealist?
Who except the very people who controlled all the files in the first place? The CEOs who wanted nothing more than moral people to burn each other out way before they reached the top?
Had Andrea given herself away with some critical, environmentalist, pro-worker comment around a watercooler? Or had her previous decisions simply spoken for themselves?
How did his CV currently look like for someone interested in his past, the good and moral work he'd tried to do in Chicago? Was it now full of misdeeds like Andrea's fake one?
And was he not alone right now in a quiet office, a Bogotán night clouding thoughts of righteous murder, and had he not seen young Pablo slip into the restroom some time ago and not come out? Pablo, promoted to a position far away in Germany, closing a cycle and maybe soon closing his hands around Gabriel's throat?
And would he, naive stooge of the monsters above, not deserve his death by the next fool in
Hellrule: "only three things happen in your story, no more, no less."
(Murder, opens one CV, opens another CV)
|# ? Sep 8, 2019 21:42|
Hellrule: In your story, the simulation has broken down - your story must break down too
The Party Never Ends Here
Smriti was having some friends over, which never ended well. I’d been spending all afternoon working up the courage to cut my own bangs in the mirror, but as soon as I heard from Smriti I put my scissors away, splashed water in my face, and counted backwards from ten.
It wasn’t that I didn’t like Smriti’s friends; it was that they were ten times as funny, interesting, and beautiful than I was. Last time Smriti threw a thing, I overdid it: wound up throwing up in the sink, Smriti holding my hair back, and she’d had to carry me up the stairs.
I opened up the medicine cabinet, picking at the cardboard on the old box of nasal strips, and frowned at the bag of pills that I’d squirreled away inside. I knew I should have just been busy, should have gone to the movies, taken a walk, stayed over at a friends’ house. I knew I was making a bad decision as I dry-swallowed two of
Atilla had brought a boquet of flowers and a bottle of Bombay Sapphire, which instantly made her my favorite. I took both of them into kitchen, handling both with care, while Smriti came up behind me.
“Quick question, Aly: if you were a flower, what kind of flower would you be?” Smriti asked.
What kind of flowers were there, I wondered, as I side-eyed Atilla, who was mixing up drinks. She had an infamous heavy pour, and when she’d asked if I wanted a second drink the “no” in my head – you’ve already taken something, Aly, you don’t need this – gave way to the “yes” of the moment.
“A tulip,” I said, my eyes still on Atilla’s bottle of Bombay Sapphire. “Wait, no – a daffodil, because I’m the first taste of spring,” I said, fluttering my eyelashes, all high camp, pretending I didn’t care if it meant anything.
Smriti laughed – “that’s you, one hundred percent” – but something changed on her face, some new sense of gravity. I was about to ask about it but then Atilla came up, drinks in both hands, and
Then the music kicked in and it still wasn’t enough, even though I was priding myself on managing to speak uninterrupted with some girl I didn’t know for a whole fifteen minutes (or at least what felt like fifteen minutes) without running upstairs to pet the cat and Mindfully Breathe – now there was sound and people were dancing, so many smiles and carefree grace and here was my impossibly weighted scarred adjunct body and there was Smriti in the center, effortless and free, really unhindered, not looking at me, and I felt the heaviness of the Less and –
“Kill a goat,” someone said.
I turned to see Atilla. “Do you smoke?” she repeated.
“In college,” I said. I’d forgotten the question. “She was wonderful. When I was being nothing – which, gently caress, that was almost always, she’d–”
“Make you something,” Atilla said. There was something wrong with her face. Not just the sadness. It was like there was something about to vanish – an eyebrow, a nostril, a dimple – but the exact object was still in limbo. “Ask that perfect question to bring you back to your body when you’d just about left it. I get it. I’ve literally been there.”
“Do you?” I asked. “You’re loving gorgeous. I mean it.” She’d passed me a joint again. I waved it away (*****(#b( blew out a long cloud of smoke.
“You will stand in the same spot for so long that you will begin to see the once-impossible forces acting upon you only as weather,” Atilla said.
I blinked. “What?”
“Watch your b
dancing, could not possibly remove that smile from my face, an actual conduit for the music, for feeling, for humanity, I understood what it was like to be Smriti, to channel that impossible loneliness into an actual network of people. She was nowhere to be seen but from across the room I noticed Atilla, gently swaying, and I was seized with the need to make her understand what it was like to vibrate with every beat, and I’d seized her hands and no moment could be any better
“I just feel so bad for her, you know?”
I was sitting on the landing trying to keep the poison the poison the poison inside me when I heard Smriti’s voice, but she wasn’t anywhere around `(
“I don’t know what you’re doing with her,” Atilla said. “You don’t want to keep her.”
Footsteps from down the stairs &&&+( hiccupping white girls *_*_ rubbed my head ######d nausea (the poison the p))))))))))
“I do,” Smriti said.
“You’ve barely looked at her all night.”
“I don’t want to keep her like you. Not for – not for nights like this, where I want to have fun.”
“Because I’m so much fun.”
“Oh, Tills, you can at least put up the appearance. I could make something out of you, you know? Aly… she just wants to talk, like she’s allergic to fun, and--”
Atilla @****$# something and ********9****((
More footsteps @@@@%#% a dude double-fisting Solo cups knelt }}}}***&* scent of wine (the poison the poison) slowly shook my head back and forth and
“But it’s the way she looks at me, Tills.”
“She doesn’t belong in this night.”
Hands on my shoulders. A row of stairs. Weightlessness. Smriti – the lies – been here before –
“Aaaa,” I said.
“Shh,” Smriti said. “Next step.”
“I’m not – I’m not –”
Flashes of this same stairway. The same acrid scent of wine and vomit. How many times had it been? Once, I’d thought. Or was there a cavalcade of nights: killing the party, the crush of dancers and Atilla vanishing at the end?
“gently caress you,” I said. I liked that I could articulate that, so I said it again. “gently caress you.”
I struggled against their hold, but I couldn’t command my body to struggle in a single direction. And though my body wouldn’t obey, lucidity was trickling back in. “You – this – tomorrow?”
“Another big day tomorrow,” Smiriti said. “Sure.”
They seized me tighter, continuing the lift up the stairs. I let myself go limp.
“Aly,” Smriti said, sighing. “Come on. I don’t want you to be like this. Embarrassing yourself. It’s not fun.”
“gently caress you. I don’t – have to – ”
“You have a very specific script and you’re not following it,” Atilla said. And at that she squeezed very hard on my shoulder, and sensation came back.
Atilla leaned down, following her script, and I twisted just enough to bite down hard on Smriti’s ankle. She gasped, and fell backwards, landing first on her back, then sliding backwards, her head into the wall, and I could just hear Atilla’s thank you as
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
|# ? Sep 8, 2019 23:39|
Hello, TD! Since I'm judging this week, I feel that this reminder is no more than a friendly warning:
DO NOT PUT YOUR FLASH RULES BEHIND SPOILER TAGS FOR THE LOVE OF CRABROCK'S MANGLED GENITALIA, WHY DO I KEEP HAVING TO SAY THIS, WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
Don't edit your post if you've done this, of course, but please cut that out. It serves no purpose whatsoever.
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 00:02|
Hellrule: Your story is set entirely in a burning house; noone may die.
How Are We Leaving?
Word Count: 1043
One day, when Jerimiah Aboudin woke up from terrifying nightmares, he discovered his wife screeching next to him in bed about a fire. He raised his heavy head and it took him a few seconds to realize that she wasn't joking. The fire's glimmering light lit up their completely dark bedroom and a crackling sound could be heard from downstairs. Jerimiah's stomach twisted as he thought of his daughter in the next room and a feeling of dread now spread from his head, through his lanky body, all the way down to his toes.
His wife had stopped screaming. She was now standing in her underwear and despite the heat from the fire, she was shivering.
"Jo, what on heavens earth is going on?" He asked her nervously. He had always been a worried man; he scared easy and this was not a situation in which he expected himself to prosper.
Jo ignored him and marched through the open door into the bright hallway. Jeremiah quickly took note of the strange soothing silence of the crackling fire before he followed her outside onto the landing. The small house was now held hostage to a menacing blaze - their family portraits, which hung on the staircase walls - and included two portraits of Jo and their daughter Clarice - were melting before his eyes. The house's front door was blocked by the fire which seemed to have spread evenly on the downstairs wooden floor.
Oh Lord, why did I never believe in you? Jeremiah asked himself. This could all have been avoided if I had just believed in you and prayed to you from a young age instead of committing evils and sinning like a commoner.
Jeremiah stifled his religious thoughts and turned to face Clairce's room. No screams could be heard from inside which made him feel strangely relieved despite the near impending painful death they would all soon suffer. "I'll get Clarice, Jo. Could you grab some of our things?" he spoke more confidently now. Jo acknowledged him this time with a slight nod, her eyes seemed to be filled with terror but she hurried back into their bedroom.
Poor girl, Jeremiah thought to himself. She's probably more scared than I am. Time for me to man up and take care of this situation. He would take his daughter and his wife and they would escape. He hadn't worked out exactly how yet, but there had to be a way. gently caress you, Lord. I don't need to pray to you. Jerimiah often went through these hate-love relationship style talks with his conscience, it had become a normal part of life. One thing he knew for sure was that he was simply talking to himself and NOT an imperial being which created everything and controls everything. The reason I've never liked the church, Jeremiah thought to himself, is because it's not real.
Inside his daughter's room, Clarice was awake. She was staring out the window and her long blonde hair draped down her back, within an arms reach of the floor. She turned around as her father entered the room. "Oh God, there's so many of them!" She exclaimed. "What do they want and why are they all standing there so silently staring at the house? They must be here on some sort of official business because the village's mayor is here and he is riding his horse. Do they have some business with you, father...but why would they come at such a late hour? Father? Father?"
Jeremiah was speechless, he slowly walked towards and her and took a look out the window. She was right. About 50 people were standing outside his house and one of them was the mayor. They all had sullen looks on their faces and quite a few of them were holding torches. This was not a rescue party, these were the culprits. Jeremiah could not believe it. What could he possibly have done to deserve this? And why would the Mayor take part in killing innocent children?
As if he could hear Jeremiah's thoughts and wanted to answer, the Mayor shouted out "Jeremiah Aboudin. You are sentenced to the crime of harboring evil enemies of the church. There is no trial here, you shall burn with the witch you live with. Even now as that blonde feminine-looking creature stares at us from the window, we innocent people of the world tremble. May the Lord save you if you are innocent Jeremiah! May the Lord torture you in hell if you are not!" With that, the Mayor turned his horse away from the house and the crowd dispersed to let him through before they followed him; they were leaving his family to die. Jeremiah could not believe it.
In his life, Jeremiah had only had a few brushes with the church and the "Lord". In his eyes, these religious nuts always caused havoc for no reason and prohibited things that every man should have the freedom to enjoy. Jeremiah fundamentally disagreed with a lot of their ideas but he often had to wrestle with himself to ignore their stories of angels. demons and a divine being. The fact that he was now going to die at the hands of these madmen because his daughter had been accused of being a "Witch" was the most torturous part.
Jeremiah reached down and grabbed his daughter's hand, he then turned around and headed back into his bedroom, the fire had now traveled up the stairs and was nearly on the landing. It was a lot hotter up close and personal like this. Clarice screamed as she saw the flames which were within arms reach. They rushed into Jeremiah's old bedroom where Jo was staring out the window. She had only grabbed one thing to take with her.
"Dearest, we need to leave. Now. The fire is upstairs. We have to jump or...dearest?" Jeremiah spoke in a pressured manner to his wife. Clarice was crying now, Jeremiah picked her up and held her in his arms before turning back to his wife who had not moved from her position at the window, it was as if she had not heard.
"Yes?" She finally responded.
"We have lots of more important things to take. Could you put down the broomstick?"
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 00:39|
Hellrule: Every sentence must end in an exclamation mark!
George! George! Wake up! Wake up, George! It's dad! He's got no head, George! He's got no head!
We were in the back yard, playing catch when Mrs. Shropshire popped her head up over the fence and toodle-ooed at dad and he turned around and the ball sailed right past him and into the bushes so while she was all "How is your George doing at school" and dad was all "Can't complain, can't complain" I went over to the bushes to look for the ball but it wasn't there at all and there was a big hole in the ground so I tried to reach in and there was this snapping growling sound so I pulled my hand back and dad was all "Excuse me, I have to take care of this" to Mrs. Shropshire and came into the bushes and up to the hole and he gave me this funny look and jumped right in! He jumped right in, George! And it was a long way down!
I went to the garage to get a ladder but I could tell right away that it wouldn't be long enough but then I remembered the time we had to climb up the worldtree sapling in the field behind Farnham Scrapyard, back when I was the big brother and we still hung out with Nikki and her birds and you invented the Arbitrarily Extrudable Rungladder together and I did the hammering and that one went way way up so it could probably go way way down, too! See, George! I can be smart too! So I went up to the attic and pulled out the Extrudable and there were hardly any cobwebs on it or anything and carried it down to the hole and let it extrude down but I forgot about the thing that had snapped at me and while the ladder was extruding it clambered up at came right at my face!
It was huge, sort of like a fox or a weasel but as big as a really big dog! And it was pink! I jumped back! It snarled at me! It jumped at my knee! It clawed at my jeans and tore them up! Then it bit down, hard! It hurt! But I didn't see much blood! It whimpered and ran off, through the bushes and under the little gap under the fence where Rexrex used to be able to skip out of our yard and get in trouble or deliver messages to Nikki or Phillip when we were already in a lot of trouble and couldn't go ourselves and I'm sure that if Mrs. Shropshire sees that pink fox weasel thing in her yard there's going to be more trouble! Big trouble!
But dad was in real trouble right now, down that deep hole! So I climbed down the ladder, a long long way down, and as it got darker and darker down there I felt something strange inside my head and all of the sudden I could see again! It was like cool night vision! And I could see the George Prentiss Technologies logo right in the lower corner of everything in cool blue text, so thank you George! I could see the bottom was pretty close, so I jumped! Dad was there, and he was fighting a dozen lizardy weasel things! With big green feathers!
I could see that they had tried to dig into your secret underground lab, the one you build from scratch deep under the house after Nikki signed on with Universal Paratech even after you warned her that they were mostly evil mad science and she laughed and was all "What do you think we are" and I'm pretty sure that I was the little brother by then and I know! I know that isn't how it's supposed to work! The reenforced titanium walls had kept them out of the lab so they must have dug up from there, and they also dug out a big chamber, well, not really that big but wide enough so there was plenty of room for the fight so dad was swinging his fists in big wide swings, like Bang! And one of them went flying across the cavern! But to three more took its place! I joined in! Bang! Thwack! They made yipping squeals when we got them and vicious little hisses as they got ready to attack! They were about to overrun us, and there seemed to be unlimited numbers of them waiting in the tunnel on the other side of the room! It did not look good!
Then dad was all "Don't worry, I've got this," and he put his arms on his ears and twisted and his head! Came! Right! Off! He threw his own head at the back of the chamber, and it exploded! Dad's head exploded and the passage collapsed! The chamber was starting to collapse too! Dad was still walking around, without a head! I guided him to the ladder and we climbed out and I went upstairs to wake you up and tell you that dad's a robot, a headless robot and I think that I might be a robot too and I don't know if I want to be a robot!
George and I had a long talk after that and I'm not so angry anymore and I understand that he's going to have to erase a lot of my memory tomorrow but right now he has my head in his arms and he lofts it into the sky and I see the house and the garage and the whole neighborhood and then I come down again and dad catches me and throws me up in the air again and I see the weasel fox thing tearing up Mrs. Shropshire's flower garden and I'm way up in the air having a catch with my brother and dad and I! Am! So! Happy!
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 01:52|
Everyone in your story is balancing on one leg. No-one mentions this or finds it peculiar in any way.
Your story revolves, like a cog or gear
Your story is set in the mesosphere
Above the still waters of a lake with no name, the ember glow of PL-52 caught the attention of a sleeping flamingo. It did not care, it could not conceive of a Temporary Sub-orbital Research Installation, and it went back to sleep.
Genther was not a patient bird. In the undercroft of Placid Lake, he hopped around Birk Birk, sending him sidelong glances, waiting to speak.
"You understand," he said at last, "That you're a natural suspect."
"Gent, I swear to the skies, I had nothing to do with this."
"It's Genther. Inspector Genther."
"Genther, I'm sorry, but I don't want to be here. It's not right!"
Genther stared at Birk Birk, at the criss cross of sutures across his face, at the areas bare of feathers. Birk Birk was an ugly bird, bur worse than that, he was a collaborator, a betrayer to all flamingokind.
"You're chummy with the humans, Birk Birk. You enjoy their company, their treats. The least you can do is answer my drat questions."
"I had nothing to do with the children disappearing," Birk Birk yelled, "Nothing! And someone... Someone has to work with the humans."
Genther huffed, and turned away. Placid Lake shook, the walls vibrating. The disturbance had grown stronger the last few weeks, but today, it was at a terrifying peak. It was as if the entire world groaned in agony.
"Why, Birk Birk, does someone has to work with the humans?"
Birk Birk looked uncomfortable, he shifted his stance from one leg to the other.
"It keeps the world running," he said, "It keeps food in our trays and water in our bowls. You think they'd care about our well being if we were all rebels, like you?"
"And in return," said Genther, ignoring the slight, "You give them our children."
"No! I would never do that. Never!"
"Then how," said Genther, lunging forward, face inches from Birk Birk's, "Do they disappear?"
Birk Birk recoiled, blinked a few times, straightened his wings.
"I don't know, Genther. Maybe they've escaped."
"There is nothing outside."
"No," said Genther, his voice shriller than he intended, "There is nothing outside. There is the sanctuary of Placid Lake, lone in the void, and the domain of the humans, beyond our understanding and far beyond that selfsame void."
"Then," said Birk Birk, staring straight ahead now at patterned bulkhead of the undercroft, "I don't know."
They were silent. Genther wished he'd come up with a better retort than the Spoken Truth. He'd always prized himself on both independence and faith. Then again, the Truth was the truth, and Birk Birk's heresy could not stand unopposed.
"Say I believe you," said Genther, "Which I don't, but say I give you a chance..."
Birk Birk stared at him now, wide eyes.
"... Then the next time you talk with the humans, you find out something. Anything."
"Yes!" said Birk Birk, "Yes. Yes I'll find out something."
"You're the only one of us to visit the domain of the humans, Birk Birk," said Genther, "Make use of yourself as you walk amongst the demons."
Two days after the interrogation, a part of placid lake was torn off by atmospheric friction, and it sent the installation tumbling. To the birds inside, it was as if a flank of the universe had been rocked to near destruction. Genther awoke to chaotic panic and feathers flying. The world was spinning wildly, food and water spilled, and possessions clung to walls. A voice called out from the walls, loudly in humanspeak, and Genther could feel the world slowing its spin.
Hours after the event, wings and legs aching from assisting the frail and afraid and cleaning up the mess, Genther remembered that Birk Birk was supposed to be back. He hurried to the portal room, feathers fluttering.
The red glow of the portal greeted him as he rounded the corner, and Birk Birk stumbled out, looking like hell. With a soft whump, the portal closed, and the room was bathed in darkness. Placid Lake trembled, and so did Birk Birk.
"Are you alright?" said Genther, despite himself.
Birk Birk had more sutures, more plucked spots. His feathers were white, like Genther's, but covered now by a dirty, yellow film.
"I found out," he said, and collapsed.
Genther stood beside the limp form of Birk Birk. He'd told him what he could, then he'd fallen asleep, and now he'd gone to the sky. Genther felt like poo poo. Birk Birk hadn't absolved himself of his crimes, but for the first time, Genther felt like he could feel his pain, feel the turmoil that must have raged in Birk Birk's breast every time he was whisked away to the... No, not the domain, the earth, outside.
Placid lake tumbled and flipped again, Birk Birk, body strapped to the bulkhead, didn't move, Genther adjusted mid-air, a skill he'd become quite adept at. And to think that outside Placid Lake, there was a near infinite sky where flamingos could truly fly.
Perhaps out there, the children were safe. Perhaps they were free to fly and explore a world inconceivably big. Or perhaps they were playthings to the humans, food, something worse. Genther would not find out, and he'd accepted that. In additions to the wonders and terrors of the true universe, Birk Birk, before his final rest, had told him about the fate of Placid Lake. Their world was dying, like so many worlds before them, and like so many worlds after them, and there was nothing they could do to stop him. They'd lived out their allotted time, and the humans could not and would not save them.
The screeching of metal did nothing to distract Genther from his meditations. He looked down at Birk Birk, white feathers fluttering in the wind.
And then the side wall of the world was ripped apart, and the sunrise streamed in, bathing the two birds in a light they'd never seen nor felt.
Placid Lake, iteration 53, caught the amber glint of the rising sun as friction finally did its fatal work. Genther, feeling the cold rip into him, clambered out of the disintegrating installation. Eighty thousand meters above the earth, he felt true wind beneath his wings for the first time, true air ruffle his feathers. And then he was gone, and PL-53 tore itself apart and fell to earth.
Above the still waters of a lake with no name, Placid Lake turned to flames and then to dust. A flamingo landed with the fluttering of wings and the soft splash of water. It looked up at the softly fading glow of destruction as the sun rose, and its eyes tracked a feather, white from lack of keratin, as it fluttered downwards.
Far above, in the dark of space, Placid Lake 54 inflated, and began its decaying journey around the earth.
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 03:32|
Hellrule: Your story takes place inside a hurricane.
Now that the Porridge Burns
After the stars shifted and the air tasseled with heat—
After the hurricanes, macrophages of a fevered Earth, unfurled their pseudopodia in ceaseless planetary defense—
After the air burst open The World of Forms’s seal, my voice grew stronger than gale force winds.
Dear brother, I haven’t forgotten. Even when the melts released the plagues, and my hands twisted and my nose fell, you tended to me. You were unafraid of catching it yourself. When you left to tend to others, I made you a promise. And now, whether you are live or dead, I will find a way to tend to you.
From my pod inside one hurricane, I make feelers out of them all. I note every minor disturbance in their reach. Every shape, heat source, change in pressure, shift in electromagnetic energy. But swirling here in an eye of this magnitude, space-time itself has warped. That will be better for my purposes. These hurricanes are networked eye-to-eye, for they are a coordinated response from a planet that thinks we’re to blame. The eyes exist in a kind of superposition, and their composite gaze sees all. My pod makes sense of the myriad perception, like that of a dragonfly’s. I can scan for any trace of you, even your soul should a drop of rain fall through it.
Now that the porridge burns Goldilocks’s tongue—
Now that the heavens are wrong—
Now that my life depends on searching for stockpiles of drugs, antibiotics yet to expire, I instead search for you. You are lost out there, and in my heart I know you need me more than I need medicine.
These hurricanes touch the seas, and there’s nothing of you. Likewise the air; there’s nothing of you. Neither are you on the land.
Will I find you in the warped spaces, brother? I search for you in The World of Forms, where only essences obtain. I cannot find you in Beauty, in Justice, in Duty. But when I search for you in Truth, I find Darkness instead.
The eyes fear what they see there, and turn their gaze on the dark places beyond Earth’s orbit. They note the subtle shifts in gravity. There they find the heretofore unknown cause of our calamity. It is mover of the stars: a giant of dark matter, who shifts heavenly bodies. He slides them around as a means of counting. He uses our solar system as an abacus.
While searching for you, brother, I have found an ugly truth instead. The giant’s transparent finger reaches forth; the hurricanes sense the gravity. At this rate we have weeks, not months, before parts of our solar system move again.
When the giant slides our planets back, everything will grow cold. The sky itself and all the hurricanes therein will freeze like dry ice dropped onto iris and pupil.
Until then I will keep searching for you, despite it all. What better a way to spend the end: comforting you, wherever you are.
The eyes, and therefore this pod’s instruments fixate nonetheless on our doomed future.
I see it still, the inevitable sliding planets of our solar system. My monitors express them as digits. When he starts, it will begin with the dwarf.
I will find you brother, somewhere, before this comes to pass. I owe you that.
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 03:47|
He Who Became Smoke
Hell Rule: Everyone and Everything Smokes
No one knew what year it was, or why humanity destroyed themselves with nuclear fire. People did know, however, that life carried on.
Soot stared at herself dispassionately in a weathered fragment of broken mirror. Though still young, her visage had changed considerably following the years since she began her pilgrimage.
A jagged scar that ran from hairline to chin bisected her face like a chasm. She ran a finger over it tracing the grooves and rough indentations where scar tissue filled the crevices like amateurly applied putty. Smooth in places, rough and textured in others.
She knew the gash was there, but it had been so long since she last saw what she looked like that it came as a bit of a surprise.
A seething hatred accompanied that scar, but she had long since killed the man who gave it to her. The rage just had yet to subside. Still she kept it concealed with cold, deliberate actions. Faith in her purpose made clear by the Order of Divine Fumigation.
Wild strands of red-brown hair jut out from her scalp in too many directions and she used dirt-caked fingers to straighten them out. The steeled woman that stared back at her began to look more and more familiar and she forced a smile that was surprisingly assuring.
The rigid plastic caricature of a grin turned to something warm and natural as she prepared to break the night's fast.
She stood and donned her chains. Links of lighters in different shapes, colors and sizes. She then pulled a crumpled cardboard box in loose fitting cellophane from her robes and produced a bent cigarette that she quickly placed on her lips.
Soot cupped her left hand around the end of it and flicked the sparkwheel on one of the lighters that constituted her chains, then dropped it back into place as the tube of dried tobacco ignited.
Nearly halving the cigarette in one inhalation, she exhaled and a flood of nicotine rushed over her. She sat serene in the self-produced atmosphere, and began to cough uncontrollably.
Her cough had worsened in this last year of traveling, and she had begun to regret not taking the elders up on their offer to use the sacred VapeTech during her pilgrimage, but she refused. It was something forbidden to neophytes, and she was a traditionalist. However, a decade of daily ritual had taken its toll on her.
She took a throat clearing pull from her canteen, and fed cigarette butt to her burner which always seemed to be at a low a simmer.
Leaving the wreckage of yet another dilapidated ruin behind her, Soot began the last leg of her journey. Tailing after He Who Became Smoke she had traversed the beachfront ruins of Miami, the craterous ruins of D.C., and finally the irradiated northern wilderness that Canada had become.
The trail led her deep into the Northern cascades where shifting mountain slopes and treacherous peaks gave way to a hidden farmstead where nature had begun to push back against the human imparted desolation.
Climbing the highest peak in the valley, a cabin with smoke billowing out from the chimney greeted her.
A slim, healthy looking man with a trimmed beard and glasses stepped out of the cabin in the ritual funerary garb of the Divine Fumigator's Elders. A spectre stood before her.
"Fath- FOG, is that you?" Soot asked knowing the truth of it without his reply. The man looked better than he had in ages.
"Yes, child. It is I." he replied taking soft deliberate steps on fresh green grass towards her. "Soot, you stand here a woman grown... after all of these years." Fog said, using the back of his hand to blot away tears.
Soot looked at the man with a mixture of conflicted emotions, anger winning the battle. He had abandoned her and her mother for his pilgrimage, and after years of searching for him, years spent thinking about what she would do or say, her voice trembled as she spoke.
"Why? Why did you not return home? Mother fell to the Wasting Sickness that claims the elders. She prayed in the Fumigation Hall nightly for your safe return. As an elder yourself, I'm sure you know that it tradition for the matrimonial partner to burn their betrothed, and their children or close friends to burn them."
"I am aware."
"You are unburned, and yet I had to burn my mother because you were not there."
"I know, child. There aren't words I can say to mend that hurt, but I am sorry."
"I need to know why."
Fog's countenance grew grim and he placed a hand on Soot's shoulder that she nonchalantly brushed away.
"Soot... I had to go. I had to find the truth. To find out if we were wrong... Didn't you ever wonder why we were punished with Wasting Sickness. Do your own lungs seize up child?"
Soot grew silent.
"I have proof." The man said producing a sheaf of clipped cardboard and paper. A plain message scrawled on each of them, that even managed to come across clear on scraps that were written in other languages.
Soot took them and read them over. The wording changed slightly, but mostly remained consistent: ‘SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy.’
She threw them at her father.
"These... these are old world relics! Illegal artifacts, heretical artifacts! These have been deemed falsehoods by the priests, and you call these truth!"
"I know it must be hard to understand. Difficult to confront, but know child, that it is indeed true. I have forsaken the path of fumigation and stand here in your judgment, I will accept your decision."
Soot fought back her own tears as she reached her hand for her burner.
"In the name of the Divine Fumigator, I sentence you to death for spreading falsehoods against the order. For abandoning your duties as an elder, for abandoning your fam-... for..."
Fog rested his hand on the spout of the primed burner, and pushed it way so that he could give his daughter a final hug.
"I am He Who Became Smoke, I do no the fear the flames." He opened up his funerary garb revealing hard blackened nodules that swelled over his torso. "My pilgrimage has come to an end. Find your own truth, child." He said letting go of Soot, sitting a safe distance away from her feet.
Soot raised her burner with uneven hands then became the scarred woman she saw in the mirror, and committed to the act, immolating her father where he sat.
She perched down beside his smoldering corpse and sat with him until the last bits of fleshed ceased smoldering and said a prayer to guide him to the next life.
Soot reached down and added his lighter to her chain and used it to spark a cigarette that she studied instead of smoking. She let it burn until it was nothing but a limp carcass made of ash then placed the butt on her father’s remains and began her long journey back home, lungs and heart lighter.
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 03:57|
The Man With the Straw Hat
Hell Rule: None of your characters understand each other
Do you fear the man with the straw hat?
A question that all good kids have considered at least once if intelligent, that must cross the minds of the brilliant ones many times over the course of a day - or night.
He towers tall, that frightening thrall
Reaps the heaps and makes them fall
Shackles you up while just a bud
Grinds your bones and drains your blood
And after that dreadful, baleful ordeal
Of your remains he forges a meal
With wicked visage and a jagged maw
A feast of torn flesh he will gnaw
Or so the lore could say. Perhaps the prose is too sophisticated for the minds of the young to grasp; the fear they have of the man with the straw hat could be described as more of a primal instinct.
It always happens the same way - a poor young soul at play inadvertently wanders too close to the den where the man with the straw hat dwells, unaware of its trespass. No grave sin is committed, for kids are naive and easily coaxed. Lured in by candy, bittersweet. However, the man with the straw hat is not concerned with punishing the wicked; he is an indiscriminate creature with his own primal needs.
This evening, two strangers are set to fall victim, by some unfortunate coincidence. They wander into the man's foyer - a sprawling meadow, inviting to the untrained eye for a playful frolic. Various tightly-packed shrubs line either side, and a wooden fence closes off the back.
One shabby looking kid with tufts of untrimmed bushy brown hair covering the area around its ears takes the bait and trots in cautiously, peering around with deep curiosity. Shortly after, an impertinent jolly little porker of a lad waddles its way in from the other direction, not paying attention to its surroundings. The two bump heads, in a brief moment of panic. Such youngins are easily startled, but this meeting is amicable. Each, in turn, examines the area to their own preferences.
The jolly lad notices it first. It tenses up, eyes darting from side to side. A sign in the air. Is it the wind? The undeniable feeling that something is wrong. It yelps softly as if to warn its new companion.
The shabby kid, a bit less astute than his acquaintance wallows in ignorance for a few more moments, as the sounds of approaching footsteps off in the distance cross the threshold of audibility. A cold sliver of tension hits the kid's spine just as the time comes, but alas the man with the straw hat hunts swiftly.
With a loud clang, a steel gate comes crashing down, barring off the opening the two had passed through. Panic sets in. They scurry off frantically to random corners of the meadow turned pen. The two search in vain for an opening to escape through. They look at each other with fear and frustration in their eyes, screaming out in unison. The unintelligible commotion does nothing but add a layer of tension.
The footsteps grow louder. Sounds of under-brush rustling, as he makes his way closer, completely unconcerned with hiding his presence. Perhaps he takes pride in instilling fear into his prey.
And in the pen where the young ones dwell, the shrieks of dismay set with the sun. Silence. Not a peep. The intelligent ones know when to access the situation. The kid slinks off to a corner and tries to make itself hidden, while the lad remains on guard. His eyes continue to dart around the area, searching for anything. The gate slowly rises with a metallic creak...
And when the man with the straw hat steps in the pen and comes to a rest, he towers high above the lad, a mass of shifting shadows, calm in his movements with all the confidence of a tyrant god. He approaches with no hesitation. His silhouette looms over the lad in silence.
"Little piggy. I won't hurt ya. Promise!"
The saffron glow of his half-rotten teeth gleam faintly in the night as he leans in, and breathes his cursed words into the air.
He licks his lips.
"P I G G Y"
The sound of his voice is like rolling thunder. Just as the lad is cornered, a dirt-rousing trample is heard. The kid charges into the man with the straw hat, sending him toppling over, with all the clamor of a freight train. And the two make their escape.
Through the brush, through the darkness.
All the disgruntled anger of the man follows them, like a rapidly advancing dust cloud.
And they run, and they escape the bustle. Through the trees and into a larger clearing...
And they come to a halt. Several silhouettes gather silently in the distance. Taller, shorter, stranger. They conduct their business unaware of the pair. However, the lad and the kid observe, and now they know they live in the world of the men with, but not limited to straw hats.
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 05:21|
Everyone in your story is running
About a kilometre along the ridgeline, Mark became acutely aware of his calves. He felt the muscles stretch and contract with his stride, pulling on tensors and hamstrings. About fifty metres further on, Mark could feel every muscle in his body tensing and releasing under his skin as he ran, he felt the thick weave of his internal machinery wrapped around his skeleton. Within two hundred metres Mark was perceiving his entire body - bones, organs, skin, cartilage and muscle - as separate working parts.
Mark had taken up running to forget; to be more specific, he took up running to pretend. While he was pretending he didn’t have a family, children, their school, a job, a mortgage, spinning plate after spinning plate - while he was pretending those weren’t his problem, he could forget them. He’d also found that nobody would question him disappearing for hours at a time if he was “going for a run”, which made the whole thing a lot more convenient than turning to drink.
Mark’s right foot thudded into the ground, the soft foam of his shoe cushioning the heel as it rolled forward. His centre of gravity, a churning mass of organs, fluid, rushing blood and stomach acid suspended in a cage of bone and flesh, hauled forward by his dense quads sails forward over the ball of his foot. The phalanges spread to take the weight, calves and flexors firing to launch him forward as the cycle begins again on his left side.
The ridgeline trail was a quiet one, it rolled up out of the edges of the suburbs and struck out across farmland and bush. Number 8 wire ran alongside the track, leaping between short pine posts and looping over and around hooks and nails. There wasn’t much to do with the land up here, but you would find the odd animal grazing in some of the tamer plots.
A solitary horse trotted along the fenceline next to Mark as he ran. Mark felt his fat, wet slop it’s way across his teeth and his cheeks roll in and out as he mouthed ‘What the fu..’ at the mass of muscle, bone and digestive system suspended under a bulky spine. Legs pumping the bellows of the massive creature’s lungs as muscle rippled, lengthened and shortened in symphony carrying the grass-to-flesh engine ever forward until it turned and cantered away as the paddock ran out.
Mark was again left alone with the newfound horror that was his own body. He could feel his stomach and intestines working to extract nutrients, moisture and base chemicals from last night’s stir fry. He focussed on his feet. Mark knew how feet worked, and he could concentrate on that, just that, as he jogged up the track.
Mark looked up toward the voice. Strained muscles and sweat glands were packed into compression gear and barrelling toward him. Mark flinched, the way he did when he caught his distorted reflection in a window, wider and stouter than his internal self-image but close enough to the real thing to feel self-loathing. He couldn’t bring himself to send his tongue, lips and jaw flapping in return, instead he nodded curtly. He could his neck stretch and tighten briefly while his skull tilted forward, his brain sliding gently with it.
Mark’s eyes snapped wide as if he’d just shat himself as he witnessed the exact combination of neurons and electrical impulses involved in a brain becoming self-aware as an organ. Mark fought to maintain his point of view as internal observer and pilot of the organ’s vessel. He fought to ignore the myriad fired synapses involved in this denial of reality.
Mark tried to recentre himself, shifting his focus back to his legs. Back to running.
It was working - slowly. Mark felt his feet flatten and then point as his calf engaged.
Mark ran. He was legs and he was feet and he was arms and he was a core and that was enough. He was running, and he knew how that worked.
Mark ran to forget.
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 05:51|
Everyone Has a Big Old Spider Inside Their Brain
“This again, Emily?” Dr. Albis looked up from his notes, pushed his spectacles up on his nose.
“But they do! I told Cody this and he didn't believe me but it's true! Everybody's got a big giant spider living up there, hurting them! It's going to be a... a big problem!”
“We've been over this, Emily. You do not have a spider or anything else living inside your brain. It can not hurt you, because it does not exist.”
“You're just saying that because of your brain spider.”
He sighed. “Why don't you describe this spider to me, Emily.”
“It's big. Really big. Like... an orange.”
“An orange spider?”
“No!” She crinkled her nose. “It's black and red. But it's big as an orange, or your hand, or a big teacup maybe.”
“When did you first start seeing these spiders?” Albis was writing furiously.
“Huh? I can't see them. They're in your brains.”
“Then how do you know they're there?” A smile played at the edge of his mouth.
A pause. She blinked. Shook her head.
She ran to the window and grabbed the lower sash with both hands, nearly upsetting a pile of books on the shelf.
“Careful!” Albis said sharply. “It's locked. Now, please, Emily...”
She pressed her face to the glass. “I want to go home,” she said.
“Why is that, Emily? We've barely started.”
“Please let me go home please.”
Albis pursed his lips. “I'll call your mother.” He opened the door and stepped out.
“This is very expensive, Emily. You can't just end it like this.”
The turn signal clicked.
Emily didn't answer. Her forehead pressed on the window, her nose leaving a ghost outline.
Tara turned the wheel to the right. A box toppled over on the passenger seat. “poo poo. Can you—uh—never mind.” She reached, pulling, keeping one hand on the wheel.
Emily rubbed her nose on the window, left and right, making snowprints on the glass.
“It's OK.” She looked straight ahead, at the back of her mother's seat. “They're hatching.”
“What? Who? What are you...”
More were coming.
She didn't know how, but she knew.
Confiscations never worked. Emily always seemed to scrounge up another knife to pry open the heads of her dolls. Eventually her parents more or less accepted the futility of trying to stop her.
“What are you looking for in there, Emily?” Tara asked her, once. Only once.
“Something that shouldn't be there.”
“You ever find it?”
When Tara came home one night to find the guinea pigs gone (“It's OK, there was nothing in them” was all Emily would say), that was the last straw.
“Emily is going Away,” she said to Cody.
Those years were rough, bouncing from group home to center to institute. But eventually Emily found just the right combination of medication and treatment that the spider in her brain went quiet, enough that she was able to go to college, enough that she was able to have something approaching a normal life.
After graduation, she went on to the coroner's office. When the third body came in from the waterfront area over the course of five weeks, she was the one to propose drilling and accessing the back of the skull cavity.
She had a hunch.
The pathologist took the saw and made the cut, to humor her.
After the first dead spider fell out onto the table, longer than her hand, Dr. Lemmer didn't underestimate her again.
They started working on a theory, in conjunction with a bio lab, of death by hypoxia—lack of oxygen to the brain—caused by spider activity. There was a pattern in the actions of those afflicted: staggering, dizziness, confused speech. If they were identified while still alive, a CAT scan showed a dark mass in precisely the right spot. And it had legs.
“But how did they get in there?” he mused, one day, after hours.
Emily only smiled.
The first surgery to remove a spider from a live patient was also the last.
The cranium was opened, the skin pulled taut to the sides, the blood drained swiftly away, and inside, two black legs just barely visible. The surgeon grabbed the arachnid with a pair of tweezers and pulled.
The spider writhed and twisted all around, and the recording zoomed in on it in its stupor. Then, suddenly, it looked like it had had enough.
It snapped forward, leveraged all eight legs, and popped out of the tweezers. The surgeon dropped the silver tool with a cry. The spider jumped, spinning around, spraying all the medical staff present with a debilitating webbing, covering thicker and deeper, until the camera pointed up at the ceiling and then recorded only black.
A loud voice played then, strange and distorted: “CEASE REMOVAL”
Then the recording cut out.
“What do you think of that?” Lemmer asked.
Emily only smiled. There was no containing it now.
It had begun.
one weird rule: everyone in your story has a fist-sized spider living in their brain
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 06:06|
Ok I'm gonna close this in a modest yet indeterminate time so if you're scrabbling to get something down, scrabble harder
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 07:52|
very well: that is that. the judges will now fall upon your wordcrimes and feast themselves, mouths a-bloody.
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 08:40|
DICK WEEEK CRITS, as per toxx. I’m glad I took the extra time on these because I didn’t realise how short some of my earlier crits were, lol.
Sitting Here - For You, My Love, a Hubris
This story started out weird and only got intensely weirder, but you carried the weird notes well. It’s exactly what I wanted to see out of this prompt. I particularly like the fact that you don’t bother to put much time or effort into describing the setting. That combined with the voice gives this piece a real oral tradition vibe. I don’t know if it’s just TD’s preferences or flash as a medium or what, but many TD stories try to nail that folktale vibe and few do. This succeeds. I feel like I’m reading a story collected from a mythology that actually exists somewhere. Also, the characters were sweet.
One thing I liked: There were some gorgeous little turns of phrase in this piece, which is of course one of my favourite parts of the book from which I drew your prompt.
One thing to work on: This is always tough to say for winners because lol, u won. I don’t know, rewrite it but longer and put it in a magazine you rear end in a top hat.
Toaster Beef - From On High
I liked this story more than the other two judges, possibly because of some personal biases. I grew up near a weird wooden church like this and it gave me serious childhood throwback vibes. Your narrator has a strong voice and I can picture him easily in my head despite the fact that you don’t bludgeon the reader with descriptors of him. I could of course see what was coming a mile away, both with the ghosts and the final twist, but that didn’t make them bad imo. You capture the atmosphere of this strange, forlorn little place pretty well but the ghosts’ more conversational dialogue sort of dragged me out of your narrator’s headspace. It was jarring, but I think that’s what you were going for. Not 100% sure I like it but at least it feels more intentional than not.
One thing I liked: Your narrator comes through as a very strong and well-developed character who reminds me of god knows how many similar working class small-town old dudes I’ve actually met.
One thing to work on: There was a sense of inevitability and treadmilliness to this piece. The ghosts show up but they don’t really do a whole lot. I felt like I was riding on the Haunted Mansion: everyone just sort of appears and says their lines and floats off again. This overall left me with a sense of wanting, like the story was missing a bit more central conflict to nudge it up toward HM territory. Otherwise it would have been in my eyes!
Yoruichi - In the Depths
This story had my favourite imagery of the week. You capture the distant chill of the goddess very well. Your portrayal reminds me of Thetis in Song of Achilles which, if you haven’t read that book, is a massive compliment. Like the winning story this week, this story has a very foklore feel to it. I think if you’d had another 500 words to work with this might have been the winner, but unfortunately it felt quite rushed for the last 1/4 or so and the prose turned bare to cram all the rest of the plot in.
One thing I liked: You write detached and alien very well. This was a pleasant turn to see from you considering how chilled out and relatively grounded in reality your work usually is. I liked to see you stretch your wings a bit and try something metal and bonkers. It was more successful than not.
One thing to work on: Pacing. It’s tough, especially in flash, but the last bit felt like a rush job and I was disappointed the story didn’t get the culmination it deserved.
crimea - Heliogabalus
I was immediately intrigue by the premise, but the way you drip-feed in backstory doesn’t quite work here. This is such a momentous change for your protag that I think it doesn’t quite land unless we get more of who he was beforehand. Your prose is gorgeous, no complaints there. And the protag’s voice is great as well. I just wish we knew more of him beforehand so we could feel the depths of his desperation and wretchedness. As it is, without establishing things on firmer footing beforehand, you really sell yourself short. This is another story that could have been a HM or win in my book if not for one glaring flaw. I liked it better than my co-judges, but that one flaw holds it back a lot.
One thing I liked: Your choice of verbs is always on point and your idioms are fantastic. “A cold spike ran through me” and similar lines–you evoke a great deal of emotion with few words.
One thing to work on: Your gorgeous, emotive prose doesn’t hit with the weight it should if we don’t know the characters a little bit better. Sorrow and desperation are potent, but they’re all the more devastating if we know enough to really care about the people experiencing them.
flerp - life loving sucks so death has to as well
This story really stood out this week. In a tale of epic weird poo poo, it’s quiet and self-contained and has a unique voice. These are all pluses in my book, though that wasn’t unanimous in the judging pool. As a vignette it works well. I really empathise with your protagonist and I appreciated how story-driven it was as opposed to plot-driven, something that got it bonus Moby Dick Points in my book. However, your protag’s big choice doesn’t quite feel like it’s earned. It’s a pivotal moment, but it just kinda… happens. It was a wobbly ending to an otherwise emotive piece.
One thing I liked: You write a very convincing teen voice. Bravo.
One thing to work on: I wish I’d gotten more of a glimpse into why your protag made the choice she did at the end of the story. It had a very “welp” feeling to it for such a momentous choice, for something she felt so strongly about at the beginning.
Hawklad - The Old Ways
This was a concise and very average tale. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it, but it also didn’t stand out in a week full of weird concepts and strong prose. As a folktale it’s not bad, but other stories did the folktale thing better this week. The prose in Anak’s vision is stronger and far more interesting than the rest of the piece, and I found myself wishing toward the end that we’d had more of that and less play-by-play of “a dude did a thing, he paused, he waited, he did another thing.” I get that you were going for a slow, stalking rhythm to match your slow, stalking character but that risks losing a reader’s interest.
One thing I liked: The change in voice and cadence between the narration and Anak’s vision was handled really well. I liked how distinct they were. Clearly you’re capable of writing in two very conflicting narrative voices in the same piece! Could be something to explore in future work.
One thing to work on: Don’t get so wrapped up in presenting a detailed account of events that it feels like reading an operation post-mortem. Your recounting of Anak’s actions sort of reminded me of surgical reports I used to read at my old job, a very cut and dry retelling of Things Happening.
Armack - Art Performance
Intriguing opening. Okay. Haha, immediately good bad jokes. This is a decent vignette but the bit with the homeless man was gut punching in a way that didn’t quite work. Why? Because we’re not really sure what your protag’s motivations are at all. Also, it’s more of a snapshot than an actual story. Even if you’re writing a character who’s an unreliable narrator or a character who’s mentally unbalanced in some way, it’s important that readers still be able to understand their motivations, and buddy, you lost me.
One thing I liked: The prose was super solid. This left me feeling despondent and a little grossed out, which I think was your intention. Your words did their job.
One thing to work on: Don’t obscure so much from the reader that we have no clue why your protag did the things they did at the end. It’s fine to feel that way at the beginning, but leaving readers grasping for straws after they’ve already finished the piece is a risky gamble that fails more often than it succeeds.
sebmojo - Cetacean Bycatch
This was very silly and entertaining, but it wasn’t really on theme and the complete lack of explanation for the whale transformation was very stupid. All the same, I didn’t want it to get the L because it got a few genuine laughs out of me. Your conversational voice suits the characters and setting very well even if it gets a little cute at times.
One thing I liked: You write good kids. They are this endearing conversation of believably stupid and insightful.
One thing to work on: I kept hoping there would be a punchline as to why they were whales or something tying it all together at the end. Alas. I think you just ran out of time. So maybe next time “start an hour earlier.”
Thranguy - Roger Bartholomew Pickett: A True History
This was absurd in a way I liked but a little too clever by half. It reminded me of when you’ve been reading too much Neil Gaiman and your brain eventually starts to go “okay, we get it, you’re clever, but every sentence doesn’t need a joke.” All the same, the jokes land more often than not. In a weaker week this would have been toward the top of the pile. You just lucked out and got tough competition.
One thing I liked: Boy, that opening paragraph is great. You can open a story with finesse and excitement. I was real eager to see where this one went.
One thing to work on: I think if you’d dialled it down to about 80% of the jokes/cuteness this would have been a perfect crafty humour story for me. Of course my tastes aren’t everyone’s, but when writing humour it’s very important to not overdo it.
Weltlich - Due East of Split Rock Point
God, I wanted this to be my winner so bad. It has everything I love. It was super on theme. It has fantastic imagery. It’s a complete story. But it just felt like it didn’t quite build to the level of horror that ending was supposed to evoke. I kept expecting your protag to start to truly panic. I expected him to feel more feelings when he found his bud’s body. Instead, you presented a very well-written account of a series of things that happened but they were stripped of the requisite emotions for me to hand over the blood crown. The MC’s decision didn’t feel like a hard one. It felt like he went “oh well, may as well swim off into the great unknown” without grappling with the weight of what he was about to do and what he’d just experienced. All the same, your prose was fantastic and I did enjoy reading it. This story lost points because I loved the concept so much. It was like being on a diet and saving all my day’s calories for a big slice of pizza that tasted bland.
One thing I liked: You present a sense of desolate, bottom-dwelling atmosphere so well!
One thing to work on: Make sure your protag is a person. Make sure they have person feelings. If you’re going to torture them so, make sure their person feelings actually hurt.
sparksbloom - Sun-Comprehending Glass
I liked the ending and your usage of the flash rule. Every character had their own separate voice, which is tough to do well in flash. The hook was solid, but the ending 1/3 felt pretty… well, okay. It’s tough to write a lot of feedback for this one because in a week full of strong, weird stories it was very thoroughly average. The last scene wasn’t quite clear enough. I was confused as to what you were trying to portray. That last paragraph feels like a very “the moral of the story is ___” except there wasn’t one and I couldn’t quite figure out what conclusion your protag arrived at. Could have used a proofread, also.
One thing I liked: You capture a slice of life in a office environment and the sort of relationships that spring up there very well. Every single one of these characters felt true to life, like a person you could actually meet.
One thing to work on: If your final scene hinges on your protagonist having some sort of realisation about themselves or the world, like this one seemed like it was tryin to do, make sure it’s clear enough that you don’t leave readers scratching their heads.
apophenium - Debtor
Man, what a cool concept. You went far out of left field with this and I dig it. There’s a tangible, oily grossness to it that reminds me of some of the fishier bits in the book from whence I took this week’s prompt, so you got bonus points for that. Also the mental image of someone inhaling and then coughing up a bunch of plastic had a nice sense of weighty, real-world implication. I believe at least one judge had suggested this for the W, so you did a good job making us all feel pervasively unclean.
One thing I liked: Well my crit thus far has mostly been stuff I liked! Particularly the imagery around the veins of plastic and the tree. I could see it in my mind.
One thing to work on: The villains felt a little cliche. It’s tough in flash to really flesh out more than one or two characters, but I came away from the story not really knowing much about them and feeling like they just served as a stand-in so there was an Evil Reason for all the plastic and your protag’s suffering.
Black Griffon - War stories
Boy, this beginning is muddled as hell. There’s some nice bit sin the middle and you capture some good vignettes, but overall it felt pretty aimless and rambling. If you cut the beginning it would have been a solidly average story I think. You did get a tough flash rule, I’ll give you that. I think you try to pull this story in too many directions at once. There’s a sense of a sort of colonialism fable happening, a family history, a hint of sci-fi, and a hint of alt-history. I think if you’d focused on only two of those things, this story could have been great, but it’s just got too much going on to make sense in the series-of-vignettes format, especially out of chronological order.
One thing I liked: Your narrative voice here has a nice sense of hopelessness and evoked a certain M*A*S*H-y frustration with the shittiness and inevitability of war. I liked that a lot and it felt very true to life.
One thing to work on: Sometimes flash fiction means paring things down. You threw a lot of stuff at the wall in this story and only some of it stuck. If people tell you a piece of writing of yours is too complex, try to sift out the 2-3 aspects of it that shine through strongest and focus on them in your next draft.
Antivehicular - The Litany of the Wounded Ones
Pretty prose as always. Man, another story that feels like a folktale. Definitely a bit of an unintentional theme this week! I liked this piece less than the other judges did, possibly because it felt like one of the weaker stories in a group of similarly folkloric tales. Unfortunately for you, I kept comparing it to Yoruichi’s which featured a lot more angry squid women and sentences that could have been metal album covers. Still, this wasn’t badly written and it tells an interesting story. Unfortunately, the longer the voice wore on the more I didn’t like its tone. You use the run on sentences in a very clever way and I like the way you build momentum. Toward the end I was feeling it a lot more. I think perhaps the middle was just Overly Long.
One thing I liked: Your names for stuff in this story (‘Deep Kin’ etc) were very clever and felt like they could have been translated from a real-life other culture. Nice bit of worldbuilding.
One thing to work on: I think the “story to the kids” voice is a little overdone so it’s a tough sell for me. I think this is an interesting story but the format in which you chose to tell it held it back.
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 11:21|
Thanks for the crits AB!
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 15:04|
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 21:24|
Interprompt: This is not what it looks like
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 21:55|
Interprompt: This is not what it looks like
Ceci n'est pas une story
|# ? Sep 9, 2019 22:33|
Ceci n'est pas une story
But this is exactly what it looks like
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 02:40|
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 08:31|
Untitled, by Sitting Here
Normally I'd say that untranslated text is a bad idea, but this story had a certain je ne sais quoi that really elevates it above its peers.
Untitled, by Fuschia tude
Magic. I will be contemplating the layers of meaning contained within this simple yet complex for minutes to come.
Untitled, by Flesnolk
Definitive and articulate, this was unfortunately let down by the lack of punctuation.
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 08:44|
This is a simple word, and like many, it’s important for that very reason. Like like, the the, and and, it helps anchor things to other things. In this’ case, a very intimate connection forms: from you to something right in front. This is here, and were it somewhere else, that brother would be needed.
But in this and that already lies some tension; there is no counterpart to the, except maybe for an uncertainty. Some struggle with this: would that not be more universal? But this is where the problem lies, and that is the problem too. It is important to be precise about what is with you and what is not. This needs to be for what is right at hand, like that which I am writing now. Because this, as you can see quite clearly, is not a that at all – only the filthy anagram of this could describe what my hands are putting down for me, for you, between us. Behold this mess.
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 09:02|
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 09:10|
Flash Rule: A New Zealander meets someone from Seattle
I'm doing this for a Thunderdome poster there is no story I just need the screencap.
Nevermind, that idea didn't work!
RandomPauI fucked around with this message at 09:41 on Sep 10, 2019
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 09:19|
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 09:54|
Donk and the pork
"Hey pork what up," said Donk.
"I'm not a pork," said the pork, "I'm a rogue Twitter joke mutated into inrecognizability."
"Is that a word?"
Donk, suddenly startled, stared at the pork terror in his eyes.
"You're not allowed to edit entries," he said.
"This is not what it looks like."
Black Griffon fucked around with this message at 15:02 on Sep 10, 2019
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 10:01|
Progress | 190 words
We waited in hushed anticipation, crouched behind a row of bushes in my great-grandfather’s front yard, eager to leap out and surprise him for his 90th birthday. Inside the house waited the rest of us—four generations of Pembertons, all gathered to celebrate our family's resolute patriarch. Many of us had not seen him in years. The youngest among us were meeting him for the very first time.
The inside of the house was decorated beautifully with an odd but extraordinarily fitting mix of streamers, balloons, and cherished family photos. From the outside, you'd never know. We'd all parked far down the street and gone out of our way to make sure our beloved Seymour would be well and truly surprised when he got back from church.
We all shushed one another and crouched even further as we saw his car approach. It was one of those new self-driving wonders—"a gift from me to me," as he called it. It pulled into the driveway and came to a slow, even stop.
The door opened automatically, and the body of my great-grandfather slumped unceremoniously out onto the grass of his front yard.
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 13:31|
Not a Cop, and Not a Killer
Brodie strode about the street confidently, playing the dutiful detective tasked with tracking down leads on foot. The hot cop costume he tried to rent turned out to be just a cop costume, and a too realistic one at that. Nevertheless, another Hallowed Bangerz Bash was in the bucket and he had a head full of chemicals to glide him home.
A sweat-slicked man with a killer 'Chainsaw Massacre' vibe frustratedly fiddled with some mannequin parts near the trunk of an old beat up sedan.
"Must've been some party." Brodie remarked too casually, feeling friendly from the cocktail in his bloodstream. The man leaned down on the trunk, and both of them were illuminated by an unreliable light pole lamp that flickered every few seconds.
"O-Officer?" ‘Chainsaw’ said with a soft, nervous voice.
It's at that time that Brodie really took a look at one of the mannequin legs, and saw pale, bruised flesh mashed haphazardly under the trunk ‘Chainsaw’ leaned on. Recognition and understanding registered with both men.
Brodie forced down a terrified scream, narrowed his eyes at ‘Chainsaw’ and said, “Carry on, Citizen.”
Then he briskly walked away with another set of feet not too far behind.
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 18:22|
The Wiring Beneath the Board Judgment
My co-judges hated this week more than me, but there were some low points we all agreed on: asap salafi, your story of a house on fire had some enjoyably odd low affect speechifying, but ended on a dumb quasi twist that didn't take it anywhere interesting. Applewhite, not only did you fail to remember the very important carriage return key, you also ended your (otherwise basically solid) story on a nonsensical twist - don't you think people would have noticed the absence of, for e.g., stars. And Yoruichi, you wrote some decent words and a tolerable if not particularly interesting relationship, but committed the fatal crime of making space wizards dull. Space wizards. All these three may have a DM.
BabyRyoga had easily the worst written story so will take the loss, for that and also for being a barely comprehensible mound of sub Stephen King wibble.
At the higher end, we liked Sparksbloom's glitched out ambiguously spooky slice of #druglife, Armack's cosmic hurricane and Djeser's series of verbless snapshots - it's actually not that hard to be stylishly experimental when you have a brutal flash constraint, but these also all had some nice emotional heft to the snappy wordwork.
The winner took two of my favourite ones and I'm grimly pleased he didn't gently caress it up. Black Griffon managed to smoosh noir, sci fi and an absurd farrago of constraints into a poignant and nicely written yarn of bereft flamingos falling out of near orbit. Enjoy the blood throne, fellow TD OG, it's been a long road.
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 23:16|
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|# ? Jan 27, 2022 07:42|
|# ? Sep 10, 2019 23:50|