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Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



sephiRoth IRA posted:

I know, it’s the same as any other skill :( I’m too sensitive about it. I guess if I leave the avatar on I have nothing to lose for the next contest.

Yeah, with the losertar there's nowhere to go but up. Also I buy av certs for people with losertars who win or HM, so, y'know, write well and take my money.

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Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Thunderdome Week 381 - The Book of Sand Is Long and Boring, No One Can Lift the drat Thing

My favorite Borges stories are about impossible objects. The Book of Sand, about a book that contains infinite pages. The Disk, about an object with only one side. Blue Tigers, about an uncountable set of stones. This week, you're going to write stories about impossible objects. I'm leaving the definition of "object" open. If you want to write about an impossible house or pool or whatever, good on you.

NB: I said "stories". Stories have characters. DMs will be given for SCP articles.

1000 words
Sign ups close Friday at 11 PM Pacific
Submissions close Sunday at 11 PM Pacific

Toxx for a flash rule with a certain theme ;)

Judges:
Djeser
???
???

Entrants:
Thranguy :toxx:
Carl Killer Miller :toxx:
sephiRoth IRA
SlipUp :toxx:
Gau
Black Griffon :toxx:
Antivehicular :toxx:
sebmojo
Jon Joe
lofi :toxx:
Anomalous Amalgam :toxx:
flerp :toxx:
QuoProQuid :toxx:
magic cactus :toxx:
Haven :toxx:
Entenzahn

Djeser fucked around with this message at 16:32 on Nov 23, 2019

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




In, hit me :toxx:

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Thranguy posted:

In, hit me :toxx:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRkSP3a2Rsc

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:



In, Toxx me up :toxx:

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuD8bTyKYjM

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Also so you know I don't care how much you use what I give you. You can just jam out to the song for a bit if you want. I'd rather you write something good than write something that references a Magnetic Fields song.

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan


In please

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


in

:toxx:

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME





respect. this poo poo right here is the real lifeblood of TD :black101:

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


In :toxx:

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


gently caress it, jumping back in this mess. I need to start writing again.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



In, :toxx:

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk





Hella in

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vvgc1ZUFyJ0



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSjc4rJUZdY

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8R9QTv6rngc

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

GUESS WHO'S LYING


Grimey Drawer

In it to benefit

lofi
Apr 2, 2018






In, gimme a theme!

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

sephiRoth IRA posted:

I know, it’s the same as any other skill :( I’m too sensitive about it. I guess if I leave the avatar on I have nothing to lose for the next contest.

Bruises may weaken your actual meat, but the callused lumps handed out in the dome make you stronger!

No shame in defeat.

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

Also in, :toxx:

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

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




in :toxx:

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Secret Santa sign-ups are closed. Assignments going out tonight.

If you are in the present rotation and you don't think you've been all that open about your interests, it may be helpful for your Santa if you put together a small blurb about what you might like.

If not, I may come asking on behalf of your Santa!

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

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


:toxx: me in

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



lofi posted:

In, gimme a theme!
Toxx up if you want me to find you a Magnetic Fields song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHkAqWa9gW0


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwnLlQ6t2uE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fllQTBPDalk

lofi
Apr 2, 2018






Djeser posted:

Toxx up if you want me to find you a Magnetic Fields song.

:toxx: me, baby!

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



lofi posted:

:toxx: me, baby!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ8ZyU0uy7s

magic cactus
Aug 3, 2019

We lied. We are not at war. There is no enemy. This is a rescue operation.

I have a good feeling about this one.

IN

:toxx:

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



magic cactus posted:

I have a good feeling about this one.

IN

:toxx:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2mEVfdG3Os

Haven
Dec 28, 2005

They might just as well've been closed.

In! :toxx: please.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Haven posted:

In! :toxx: please.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEHzekBq4wE

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME




:black101: Week 380 post-massacre cleanup part one(1) of ???(?) :black101:

Look. Sometimes I'm nice. Sometimes I rip you several new assholes. If you don't like it, fight me.

In the interest of getting these crits out quickly, they're not going to be as structured as I sometimes like to write them.

Everyone gets a rating in the form of an object, plant, fungus, or animal from my neighborhood. If you talk to me on any chat platform, you might see some familiar friends. This was really just a fun way for me to think creatively while doing crits, please don't PM me asking for the secret hidden meaning behind your image because i won't tell youthere isn't one :)


Saucy Rodent - The Hybrid Orchard

I get what you were going for with the breathing thing, but the story is pretty much the same with/without it.

First couple lines are confusing because you go from “we” to “they” without describing how many people there are.

At some point the narration mentions that all smells translate as bacon or poo poo? That’s quite the binary and i’m not sure whether to take it literally or not.

So at a certain point in the story, we’ve established that the narrator only feels rudimentary emotions, only smells things indirectly and in a weird bacon/poo poo binary, and doesn’t physically feel anything. It doesn’t really match the voice of the narration, which sounds like that of a fairly normal person who’s kinda “ho-hum” about being a cyborg.

This might be overwhelmingly nitpicky but i don’t believe a society capable of putting people in robots would bury their dead in cemeteries

Then comes the revelation that the protag has a ghost-clone AND no soul! That’s kind of a double whammy, but not in the hot way—both of these ideas are suddenly competing for my attention. Like, I get how they’re related, how they’re meant to be part of the same problem, but it took me way too many seconds to figure out that this other Jake was an actual, for-real ghost.

What sort of college hires violent crims to protect fruit?? I don’t think enough has been established about the world to explain this.

From my commentary as I read: Wait he punched *Anna* out of the bad guy’s arms? Like just uppercut her straight out of a headlock?

...oh ok, going by the ending, he literally just punched her aside. Oof. And here the reader is thinking he’s about to have a breakthrough that proves he has a soul.


The ghost stuff feels pointless because it’s left dangling, it didn’t even need to be ther………………….ooooh i see, it’s so the story would be on-prompt. Hrm.

Story rating:




SephiRoth IRA - Heuristic ineptitude

The opening is intriguing! It's a great setup. There's humor, absurdity, and a compelling question: how did Dave get himself into this?

Then we get lost in the drudgery of being a dumb sitcom husband. It's weird to me just how much fiction and media features spouses who appear to feel nothing but contempt or indifference toward each other. Watching Dave snub his wife's rather reasonable request in a really petulant way made it harder to give a poo poo about him. Conversely, had Dave cared a lot about his wife, that would make me care more about Dave! Characters who care about things are more engaging.

Even though I love the opening, by the time Dave finally stumbles on the spiky wish ball, I realized that this story really needed to start when Dave found it, or even sometime after Dave gets his milquetoast hubby paws on it. The yard drudgery starts to look almost inexcusably wasteful at this word count.

As soon as the hunk of platinum showed up, I was like, "ah, this is a 'be careful what you wish for' story, I wonder what the interesting twist or pivot is going to be. Because whether you meant it or not, the story is structure like it's meant to have a twist or trope subversion of some kind. Part of that is how you did the intro; you set up a lot of mystery! So my brain is all primed to expect some twists and turns as my understanding of the situation grows.

Instead, we get a bunch of examples of Dave repeatedly being an idiot. The fact that he wishes for a latte after not one but two wishes that went poorly is frustrating, because I feel like by wish number three, anyone would've figured out that they need to be very careful about their wording.

Margaret is just an offscreen presence at this point, nagging Dave to stop making wishes the way she nagged him to mow the lawn. It's all so very very much the same note over and over, with nothing and no one changing in any meaningful way. Which is an impressive sentence to type about a story that eliminates all coffee and the entire coffee bean economy, among other things.

I'm not going to lie to you, Margaret being up on the ISS was one of the things that excited me the most at the story's outset. The revelation that she's in space because of poor phrasing on Dave's part wasn't a satisfying explanation. Like, one of the most interesting parts of your premise is explained by....well, it's not a pun, but it's almost as bad.

Finally, Dave is bamboozled one last time by the wish ball when he realizes that he's been unwittingly using up a finite number of wishes! Ten, in fact. This is revealed in the form of fine print that didn't come up at any prior point in the story.

So the cornerstones of your story are "be careful what you wish for", idiot husband, and mutual spousal contempt. What if, at the start of the story, Dave and Margaret are very close? What if the wish ball drives them apart? Or the inverse: what if their ailing marriage is resolved by the wishes, only for Dave to inadvertently use his final wish to send his wife to the moon? You needed some kind of emotional dynamism.

By the way, the stuff I pointed out above aren't hallmarks of a bad writer. It's just stuff you don't necessarily think about until your stories have undergone a lot of critical review.

Story rating:




Chairchucker - Didn't I Make you Feel?

I love the opening to this. Actually, everything in the first two sections is bang-on great, minus some wonky phrasing here and there, maybe (I didn't do a line edit but virtually all TD stories can be tightened up). The whole scene after the narrator wakes up heartless in a bath tub is great, and pivots into the sinister as soon as she gets home. I think what I like about it is the dawning realization that her heartlessness is more than physical. One could forgive the violent murder in the hotel bathroom as a valid reaction to being organ-mugged, but once she gets home and is indifferent to her dog and kid, I was like "oh snap she's creepy sociopath mom now."

And that...was the direction I hope the story was going to lean more into. I wanted to see the narrator try to hold it together as a mom while she worked to get her heart back. As it is, this feels more like a dark paranormal crime story than low-key suburb stakes. And it's just sad, because the first two sections really do set up some interesting possibilities!

Bottom line, everything after the narrator meets up with Geoff started to lose my interest because then it becomes a pretty straightforward narrative: protag gets intel, protag acts on intel, protag shoots her way into a hotel and gets what she wants. The end.

What about a story where this mom can't go look for her heart because she has to be, you know, a mom? Her heartlessness doesn't allow her to feel love or attachment, but she still has a sense of duty as a mother; what would it be like, to try and be a responsible parent when the part of you who loves your child is missing, presumably in the hands of a criminal?

As it is, the very ending is rushed, and the protag gets what she wants—plus a handful of traumatic memories, I guess, but I think that's getting off a bit light given her ordeal.

Story rating:




Exmond - Her Last Request, His Last Regret

First off: I like how you incorporated your flashrule! There was no good or easy way to do it, but I think you pulled it off. You could have even elaborated on it more, made DERP an acronym or something, really leaned into the ridiculousness of it. But it was a bitch of a hellrule and you incorporated it about as gracefully as anyone could.

The narration got a little bit cloying. Every sentence goes out of its way to remind me that this is a sad, bittersweet, sad, redemptive, weepy, SAD, melancholy, and sad story. The son doesn't just sit down beside his father, he sits down with " his face a mixture of careful consideration and cold condemnation." Is his father observing this in his face? Is the narrator telling us this? It's not clear because the POV is fairly omniscient.

And honestly, I don't mind a little of that. But every paragraph is full of sentences that tell us exactly how to feel, or exactly how the characters are feeling. Think of it like a movie: When i look at the face of a character on screen, I'm using my eyes and brain to deduce how they feel. I don't need subtitles to tell me Clint Eastwood is staring down an outlaw with a look of grim resolve and steely-eyed confidence. It's right there on his face! Especially with tense, emotional scenes, sometimes less is more.

Here's another example. I'll strike through the bits you could lose without giving up the mood:

quote:

“No. I suppose she didn’t want me at the funeral,” he says. It hurts, but it’s the truth. And family deserves the truth.

The words come out quick and hot. , harsher than the young man meant them to. “It was a family-only event.”

Occasionally, there are these infodumpy little paragraphs about how the old man met his dead wife, how the graveyard played into their relationship, and other exposition about the past. I don't like this approach. I think a better approach would have been to latch on to one element of their past—let's say the importance of the graveyard to their relationship—and weave that into the narration.

I'm thinking specifically of this bit:

quote:

It makes sense; the family started here. A talented woman went to the graveyard, looking for divine inspiration for her poems but found love instead. A mother and father brought their child here to witness nature in all of its forms. A well-loved mother lies buried here and now a dying son meets his father, one last time. The family started here and it should end here.

Like, I have to take this paragraph's word for it that this is true. The old man doesn't actually react to the graveyard like it's a place he brought his son as a child, or where his partner got her inspiration. You'd think he'd be reacting to the world around him more: that hill is where he saw her writing. That tree is where they had their first kiss. That gravemarker was always their sons's favorite because of the angels, or whatever. I'm just spitballing here, but if you want me to believe the old dude has some powerful emotional connection to the graveyard (beyond the fact that his ex-wife is buried there), he needs to show it.

Hell, since this is a story with magic, he could even literally see flickers of her memory wandering about, laughing and writing and dreaming up stories among the dead.

Once it comes out that the son is dying from the same illness as his mother, the story goes pretty much where you'd expect. Dad apologizes. Son won't forgive dad, but lets go of his hate. The narration lets us know that this is NOT redemption for dad, but it will have to be enough. And then they're all chummy, having gone through the motions of reconciliation.

I don't really understand how this young man from a fragmented family, who is dying at a relatively young age, has no regrets! The story doesn't sell me on that. I want the son to be angry. I want him to take it out on his father because his father is a deserving punching bag (not a literal punching bag). Anything to break up the Hallmark Channel feeling of the ending.

Okay, let me walk that back. I get it. Something sorta magical is happening here—mom is spinning a story of reconciliation from beyond the grave, so that her son and ex-husband can make up before the son dies. But most of the story isn't about that, it's just weepy back and forth dialog between father and son. There's a couple lines about the dead laughing, and this:

quote:

She whispers to the young man, a wry sense of humor in her voice. Her final jest, or is it her final barb? Perhaps it is both. A smile creeps up the young man’s face. The older man soon finds it infectious, he too is smiling.

I think you had so much room to play with the emotional dynamics of this piece, as well as your low-key graveyard magic. This story spends so much time TELLING me how sad it is that it forgets to be, ya know, sad.

Story rating:




Crimea - People Don't Even Look-See Anymore

This almost HMed. At least one other judge was fond of it. I liked it well enough, though I think Magic Cactus's poorly-formatted punk rock story does the same thing a little better. I love how everything in this story just loving happens, thing after thing, a relentless whitewater gush of meaninglessness. You really leaned into your hellrule, which could have made for an incredibly dull story if you'd been one iota less absurd about it.

I think you pinpointed an important formula here: the less the characters care about things, the more absurd things should be. Because there is something loving eerie and out of whack about how cavalier all the characters are, which is intriguing.

I think what might have hurt this story just a liiiittle bit is how unfocused it is. As much as I love tripping forward through this absurd, meaningless chaos, I kind of wished you'd just doubled down on one thing, one element, like the dog. I've read this story a couple times now and it's a little hard to remember specifics except this goddamn dog who just won't stop coming the gently caress back. What really stuck with me is the batshit insane Don't Give A gently caress, which I liked.

Story rating:

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Chili posted:

If you are in the present rotation and you don't think you've been all that open about your interests, it may be helpful for your Santa if you put together a small blurb about what you might like.

*looks at post history* i like in, and failing

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


in

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Was going to send out everything for secret santa tonight, but I realized I very likely missed someone.

So, if you signed up, please confirm that you're on the list/lists that you signed up for.

If you see yourself, say nothing. If you don't see yourself, you're probably a vampire. No vampires allowed.

(but seriously, lemme know)

Trashwords

black griffon
carl killer miller
curlingiron
mercedes
flesnolk
chili
antivehicular
entenzahn
slipup
sittinghere
asap-salfi
rhino
yoruichi

Trashpresents

black griffon
carl killer miller
curlingiron
mercedes
flesnolk
chili
antivehicular
entenzahn
slipup
rhino

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME




:black101: Week 380 post-massacre cleanup part two(2) of ???(?) :black101:

In the interest of getting these crits out quickly, they're not going to be as structured as I sometimes like to write them.

Everyone gets a rating in the form of an object, plant, fungus, or animal from my neighborhood. If you talk to me on any chat platform, you might see some familiar friends. This was really just a fun way for me to think creatively while doing crits, please don't PM me asking for the secret hidden meaning behind your image because i won't tell youthere isn't one

full disclosure: the only time i have to work on these is...while i'm at work. So when I leave work, I stop critting. That means you will get as many of these per day as I can do while powdering hotel guest's chafed little bottoms.

Djeser - We Tell Ourselves

This was expert pandering, whether you intended it to be or not. I don't have much to crit because i feel you did what you intended to do, and you did it in a way that appealed to your audience (me [and two other people, i guess, but mostly me]). My notes here are more just the thoughts and feelings that came up while I was reading this.

This piece captures a particular sort of mournful feeling—when you're walking around a city and realize that everywhere is for something. We all have to be for something if we want to be permitted inside society. "No loitering" signs imply that simply occupying a place is a nuisance, a menace. There are very few places outside the home and designated recreation areas where we can just be, for no particular reason.

It also captures a wistful feeling. I see myself in that nameless jacketed person, looking out into the night, hoping to see something meaningful, proof of magic hiding among dumpsters and under freeway overpasses. And here, the magic is looking back, equally as wistful, equally hungry for a sense of place and meaning.

I like the subtle evolution of this character. At first it seems like this is the haughty ghost of a forest spirit come to lament how humans have eliminated all the places where it might be itself. And it's like, trying to feel the sense of superiority that might come from that. Like, oho I am so wild and free and magical, i shall prance around like a garbage elemental and watch you die in your city. But in reality, it's little more than trash kicked up in humanity's wake, the living void that we've built a whole civilization around trying to fill. Its sense of superiority to the dog and the human its encounters is tragically off-base.

Or some poo poo, idk i just loved this a whole lot so have some cool pictures that remind me of the feeling i got from this!!

Story rating:










dmboogie - strings like glass shards

This is much more like a fantasy story than low-key suburban magic. I was a little grumpy about that, but you saved yourself from a nitpicky DM by creating a father/daughter relationship that I cared about. Yulia's worry for her father is an appropriately low-key character motive, so the story manages to be suburban in spirit if not in setting.

I did say stories could be set in rural communities, but this feels a bit more like Ye Olde Fantasy town. For all I know, this isn't even Earth; you've got a fantastical creature (the siren), a religion that is unnamed and vaguely pagan, a traveling witch, and a loosely pre-medieval tech level? I dunno, you could have written this exact story but set it in, idk, some San Diego suburb and you would've saved me a furrow of my brow.

But okay, prompt-centric crits don't really help you become a better writer. This piece isn't bad, but I think it languishes far too long in how dull and sad life is without music. The story drives home, again and again, how these foolish hoo-mons have brought this fate upon themselves by refusing to see the magic and wonder of the sirens. All except Yulia, who in YA protagonist fashion, rejects the shortsightedness of her elders and dares to find the beauty in the dangerous creatures. Conceptually, I like stories that deal with coming of age in a world your parents hosed up. That hits home. But for all that Yulia fits the mold of a YA protag, she kind of just wanders around observing all this sadness and folly without doing a whole lot.

Also...okay, so this traveling witch knows ONE EASY TRICK 2 NOT GET ET BY SIRENS, which is ear plugs or an eye mask. Why isn't this common knowledge? How on earth would a fishing people live for generations by the sea without figuring out something so obvious?

The end is...ok? Sort of just a shrug like "maybe it'll all work out, maybe it won't, idk".

Story rating:




Sparksbloom - Bad Tidings

Good opening paragraph, very pensive and full of mood. As soon as we meet Wilbur, I'm pumping my fist going YESSS THIS IS THE SORT OF STORY I WAS LOOKING FOR. Actually, the whole first section is spot-on. Good stuff.

The middle section is a flashback. Samantha does some shoddy magic for...reasons that aren't clear. Everything feels infinite, so she gets out her tarot deck and does...something. And it knocks out the moon and turns her boyfriend into the Toxic Avenger. Which...if you've seen Toxic Avenger, I think the fish man thing actually works out fairly well. This scene is weird because it doesn't tell me anything especially new, but it DOES leave me confused about Samantha's motivations. I could presume it's just standard teen idiocy, but that's not very satisfying.

Here is a list of factors in this story:

Samantha has magic, but isn't very precise about it.
The moon is gone.
Wilbur is a fish man.
The water is toxic.
Wilbur needs to find a river, which is apparently hard to do where they live.
Samantha's mom is very strict, seemingly abusive.
Samantha's mom has called the cops; samantha chooses to avoid them, pedaling off to find a river.
Samantha thinks she can undo her magical fuckup, OR gently caress up again in such a way that she becomes a fish lady, I guess.

None of those things really develops. I don't even need anything to be fully resolved; my issue here is that there is a whole buffet of story components in from of me and my plate, as a flash fiction reader, is pretty small. I wish you'd picked one scene, one pivotal moment, and focused on that.

The ending is almost a pivotal moment! But not quite. Samantha comes to a decision: run away and continue trying to help Wilbur. Great! I wish she'd made that decision at the beginning of the story. Since we don't really know how this choice changes anything, per se, it doesn't hit hard to be described as 'pivotal'.

Story rating:




Entenzahn - The First Cut is the Deepest

While reading this, I couldn't help but think of my favorite scene in all of film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pC_XT-HdBvE

Honestly, I didn't expect to like this. As soon as the utensils started their cartoonishly cruel dialog, I was ready to get sick of this really fast. But Sophie pulls double duty here; she's part comedy straight man, part sympathetic victim of her own abuse. I think the specific line where you won me over was this one:

quote:

“I’m making potatoes,” Sophie said. Her voice carried the appropriate lack of conviction for someone who justified themselves in front of their own cutlery.

By the time she gets to the bathroom, I feel genuine empathy for her, and sympathy for how cruel she is to herself. Her revelation that she doesn't deserve this abuse seems sincere and reasonably earned. This was another favorite bit of mine:

quote:

“You know what, toilet?” she said, pointing at the drat thing like she was taking aim with her index finger. She stood there like that, blood dripping on the tiles, long enough to realize that she shouldn’t care what an object she poops into thinks of her.

“I’ll see you later,” she said. “When I’ve had my loving potatoes.”

My only major crit is that you could've shaved off a couple hundred words. Somewhere on the way from the kitchen to the bathroom, the story got bogged down in "and the couch was like THIS, and the window does THAT, and..." I was like, I get it, the furniture is mean too, let's get to the climax of this thing.

Story rating:

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 08:42 on Nov 23, 2019

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


Thunderdome presents: Two Guys and a Pencil, a play by Entenzahn
989 words

“Huh,” Barry said.

“What?” Tom said.

“That’s it?” Barry said.

“Yeah.” Tom said.

The pencil was as standard as they come. It was thin. Brown. Pointy black end. Wood outside. Lead inside. It was a pencil. It was lame.

“That’s lame,” Barry said.

“Well,” Tom said, “that’s what I thought too, at first, but, you see, there is a trick to it.”

“Like what?”

“You can’t do anything with it.”

“Cool.”

“No, I mean like, try to pick it up.”

Barry was not a very high-maintenance friend, but when Tom had told him of a great hidden treasure in his “spooky inherited turbo mansion”, he had expected something a little more, extravagante. This felt like the setup to a lovely Youtube prank. But alas, Barry came from a military family and following orders gave him a comfortable sensation of familiarity that sheltered him from man’s implicit obligation to question existence and/or the fabric of society. He went down on one knee. He reached for the pencil to pick it up.

But then he didn’t.

“What.”

“I know, right?”

“What the gently caress.”

“I KNOW, right?”

He looked at his hand, dumbfounded. His five meaty hand tentacles looked back at him, equally confused. They had done everything their master had told them to. And yet, the pencil was missing from betwixt them.

“Hey,” Tom said, “is this a good time to mention that this room was boarded up when I found it?”

Barry ignored him. He tried to pick up the pencil again. But then he didn't.

“There was a note, too. I think. It may be cursed? I was pretty high.”

“How is it doing this?” Barry said.

“I dunno.” Tom shrugged. “Lying there.”

This wouldn’t stand. Barry had resolved to picking up the pencil now. No vaguely-defined metaphysical anomaly would keep him from fulfilling his new short-term destiny. This pencil would get interacted with.

“Let me try something.” Barry unfolded a dollar bill from his pockets and slid it under the pencil. Except he didn’t do that. He didn't punt the pencil across the room in frustration. Then, in a flash of brilliance, he decided to actively not-pick-up the pencil, which he did just fine.

“Motherf--”

"The devil's pencil," Tom said, nodding.

Barry didn’t give up there. In fact, the experiments went on for longer than either of them would eventually care to admit in front of their grand-children when they’d tell the exciting story of how they once tried to move a pencil around that one day.

“Okay,” Tom finally said. He crossed off attempt #114 in his notepad. “Surprise attack: complete failure. Maybe you’re right. Maybe it isn’t watching us.”

“Yeah.”

“And sorry again about the noodle thing.”

“Just…” Barry held up his hands. He never wanted to think of #46 again. It had been an affront to God.

“Sorry.”

There was silence between them. Silence, and a pencil. Silence, a pencil, and stale, musty air ripe with the exhausted breaths from one-hundred-and-fourteen failures. Come to think of it, maybe there were even more things between them, but let’s move on for now. It was ten in the evening. Time flies when you’re having fun.

“I should probably head home,” Barry said.

“Yeah.”

He looked at his phone. Fifteen messages. He’d missed dinner. Just now he realized that he hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

“Maybe,” Barry said, “if we saw out the ground from around the pen, and then lift the piece of floorboard, we can carry it around that way.”

Tom looked at him, weighing the pros and cons, maybe, or asking himself which particular decisions in his life led him to this situation. You are, after all, the Willy of your own chili. “Okay,” he said.

There were no outlets in the room and Tom was too useless to own an extension cord, so Barry found himself sawing into the ground with a handsaw like a caveman. Truly, these were dark times, but them’s the breaks, especially after sundown. For some reason Barry had imagined to cut a square hole around the pencil and then realized that a circle was easier, so now the hole was starting to look like an oval where the first corner of the square would have been.

Now the day had been long and fruitless, and Barry was pretty loving tired. In fact, you might say his stubbornness started to give way for a yearning for nourishment and recuperation. With each thrusting motion, he felt a little stupider. He could feel Tom hovering behind him as well, restlessly pacing up and down at first until the steps were punctuated by a silent thud, and then, nothing. Tom had sat down. Finally, Barry stopped sawing halfway through.

“You know what,” Barry said. “This is stupid. It’s a pencil. I don’t care. Why are we sawing your house in half?”

“Maybe,” Tom said “maybe you’re right.” He stopped to think, which, as Barry had learned by now, was bad. ”Or maybe… that’s the pencil talking.”

Barry looked at the pencil. Then back at Tom. “I don’t care.”

“Alright,” Tom said, “Yeah, you’re right. Let’s forget about the pen.”

But then they didn’t.

They looked at each other, helpless like two children in front of a tsunami. And they realized: they wouldn't do jack to this pencil. They would never forget about it either. They couldn’t. Never ever. They would spend the rest of their days in this empty room, if not in person then in spirit. This pencil was their life now and that’s how it was. Just two monkeys trying to make fire by smashing rocks together. And maybe, as their shells slowly withered away, and their minds faded to memories of failure after failure after failure, that would teach them not to open up barred doors and look at cursed treasures like naughty little boys when they were being told to stay the gently caress away.

Or hey. Maybe it wouldn’t.

Haven
Dec 28, 2005

They might just as well've been closed.

Byra
998 words

“Wanna take a break, dear? We’ve been working all day,” Amy said from the bedroom doorway. Her husband Jon sat on the floor, surrounded by scattered piles of screws and pressboard.

He looked up. “Maybe in a little bit. You know I can’t relax until everything is put away.”

“We just moved in. You don’t have to unpack the entire house in one day!”

“Let me just get this one dresser built, then we can eat.”

Amy was always jealous when other women said things like My husband is handy around the house. No one would ever describe Jon as handy.

“Won’t this take a while?”

He grunted. “It’s a dresser. How hard could it be?”

“I’ll help,” she said, plopping down next to him and unfolding the instruction manual. She studied it while Jon lined up what looked like the back with something else that could be a side.

Forty minutes of Allen-wrenching and fitting tab A into slot B later, they tried to slide in the first drawer. The bottom edge caught, refusing to fit.

“This doesn’t make sense, we followed the steps.”

“We must have missed something. Why do we have all these extra screws?”

Jon sighed and wearily began unscrewing the metal track from the drawer.

Amy cupped the extra screws in her hand, jingling them around. “My dad always made me count out every piece first, to make sure none were missing.”

“Maybe we should call your dad to come build the drat thing then,” Jon muttered.

She rolled her eyes and started sorting the hardware into small piles.

On their second try, hungry and frustrated, they made it to the last two drawers.

“Okay Ames, hand me two of the three inchers, please.”

“Uh, there aren’t any more.”

“What?”

“They’re gone. You used them all already.”

“They have to be here somewhere. We had too many pieces last time, how the gently caress do we not have enough?”

“Calm down.” Amy rubbed tired her eyes. “Maybe we should call it a night.”

“No way, I’m not admitting defeat to a stupid dresser,” Jon said, angrily wrenching pieces apart and depositing the screws in a heap.

The third time they were extra careful. They did it dad’s way. They triple-checked every step. An hour later, they carefully lifted the dresser onto its feet.

“Oh, what the gently caress,” Jon breathed, exasperated.

The dresser sagged to one side, teetering precariously on three legs, the fourth barely touching the floor.

Amy’s shoulders slumped. Something on the floor caught her eye. She lifted it up to the light: one. Single. Screw.

“We were so careful! How could there be a piece left?!” Jon yelled.

“I don’t know,” Amy cried. “We checked every step!” She snatched the manual off the floor, angrily flipping the pages.

“What’s this? There’s a help number listed here.”

“You really think a call center is going to help us?” Jon asked.

Amy was already dialing. “It beats screaming at each other over Swedish furniture.”

After two rings, a woman with an Eastern European accent answered. “Hello? You need help?” the kind voice asked.

“Um, yes, hi, I was trying to reach the IKEA helpline? Sorry, maybe I have the wrong number…?”

“Oh no dear, I help. Tell me what is problem.”

“Uh, okay. Well, my husband and I are trying to build this dresser, and we’re about at each other’s throats over it.”

“Over silly thing like dresser?” the woman chuckled. “Is ridiculous!”

“Uh, yeah, I guess it is,” Amy said sheepishly, switching to speakerphone.

“Is okay. I help! Now, which dresser you buy?”

“The ‘byra’ model?” Amy answered, reading from the manual’s front cover.

“Ohhh yes, byra. I get many call on byra,” the woman said sagely.

“Oh really? Thank goodness,” Amy said.

“So we tried following the manual,” Jon broke in, “but we keep ending up with too many pieces, or not enough. We have one left over, and it won’t stand straight.”

“Mmm, yes, I see,” the woman said patiently. “Okay. Now. You both agree that byra look best beneath bedroom window, yes?”

Amy and Jon looked at each other, puzzled. “Well, yes-” Amy started.

“Great! You put under window now.”

“Um, okay, but, what about this extra piece...?” Jon asked.

“Ah ah. Put byra under window please,” she answered firmly but not impolitely.

Amy set the phone on the bed. They each lifted one side of the dresser and slid it into place beneath the window. Miraculously, the dresser alighted solidly on all four feet.

“Wha- but, how…?” Jon stammered. Amy pressed down on each corner but the dresser stood firm.

“Now we test drawers! Please place sweaters, jeans, et cetera in byra.

Still dumbfounded, Amy grabbed a stack of clean clothes from a nearby suitcase and handed half of them to Jon. They filled the drawers, which glided smoothly.

“They’re working,” Amy confirmed.

“Wonderful! Okay, now for missing piece. You have nice wedding photo in frame, yes?” the woman asked.

“Uh, what? I mean yes, but --”

“Get photo. Place on top of byra please.”

“That’s nice but I don’t see how --”

“This is last step in process,” she explained, as if to a child.

From a box labeled “BEDROOM,” Jon pulled out a carefully-wrapped picture frame. Tearing off the tape and bubble wrap, he set the photo on top of the dresser. “Okay, got it,” he said.

“Ah! Now, is perfect. Yes?” the phone voice asked.

Jon and Amy gazed admiringly. “Yes.”

“But,” Amy said, still troubled. “There’s still this extra piece, and I don’t see how because we followed all the instructions--”

“Ach!” the woman on the phone sighed. “Byra is working. Yes?”

“...yes.”

“Then no piece is missing. No piece is extra. You have found what is working for you. Then why so concerned about instructions?”

Jon put an arm around Amy’s shoulders. “Thank you,” she said quietly.

“Okay dears, you have good night now!” the voice sing-songed, followed by the beep of the phone line closing.

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

Love & Sacrifice
965 Words
TMF – 100,000 Fireflies

Mzabibu took deliberate, measured, breaths as he climbed the jagged mountain face. He had been climbing for days now, and the peak hidden in the clouds was within reach, but he had come close to failing many times.

Where he couldn’t find a footing, he whispered to the stones of his love and in hearing the truth of his words, the mountain granted him footing.

When the air became too thin to breathe, and his lungs began to ache in their desperation, he cried out to the winds the depths of his devotion, and in hearing the truth of his words, his breath returned.

When his body, ragged and bruised from the climbing could no longer hold itself up, he convinced himself it was a necessary part of his redemption, and in hearing the truth of his words, his muscles were renewed.
Upenyu was within reach. Mbisu would live again.

***

At last Mzabibu broke through the clouds and reached the peak, but what he saw was not at all what he had expected or could even believe. The frigid air and snow of the mountain had cleared way to reveal a lush garden hidden inside an expansive valley that extended further than the eye could see.

At the garden’s center, the object of his desire, the Statue of New Birth on a pedestal near a massive tree with translucent red quills where leaves should be. They flaked away like rust in an endless cycle of growth and decay.

The sky was painted in a haze of light that defied the senses. Swaths of amber streaked across the garden and sky leaving the air warm, but cool, and then adjacent to it and in some cases intermixed, were whole sections of sparkling mauve that glinted with indifferent stars.

Vibrantly hued flowers, leaves and fruit formed natural cornucopias of everblooming blossoms that simply vanished as the foliage became too abundant.

Mzabibu pressed forward and watched as the strange flora attracted fey kin that the ngangas would speak of; vichimbakazi, kijani and the like. They fluttered or stalked about the underbrush paying little mind to him.

He finally reached the center of the garden and the quills of the tree glowed and quivered in his presence. The statue, a human-sized onyx carved figure made to resemble the features of a man on one side and the features of a woman on the other.

A swarm of tens of thousands of glowing beetles blanketed the statue forming a voluminous blanket of light.

Mzabibu held his hands to his eyes futilely as he was blinded.

***

When he awakened he found himself back in his kraal. The scent of herbs, nuts and roasted sheep filled his nostrils. Upenyu had his back turned towards him, she was humming a favorite song of his. Something his mother would hum when he was a boy. Mbisu came running in through the tent, and a spear followed shortly after burrowing itself in the meat of his calve.

Mzabibu remembered this day. He struggled against his inability to move from his bed. Fixed in place in the memory.

Upenyu turned, her face an indistinguishable blur. He had forgotten what she looked like except for momentary glimpses of her grief-stricken face.

Then an image he had blocked from his mind returned against his will as he was forced to watch Upenyu be pinned to the ground of his hut by enemy spears.

He grabbed his scimitar, finally free from the memory. Free to act. To cut those men down again. To revel in their blood. To exact vengeance for Upenyu and Mbisu.

He was ready to relive the memories when his bloodlust was cut short as he felt a gentle familiar touch on his shoulder.

***

He opened his eyes again and was face to face with a beautiful woman clothed in black and violet that flowed over her curvature into nothingness.

She smiled a familiar smile as recognition awoke in Mzabibu.

“Upenyu… my love…. I have returned to you.” He managed to say through sobs and tears.

She looked down on him and knelt beside him as he had fallen onto his knees in disbelief. Her smooth ebony skin felt the same as it always had. That delicate spiced scent she maintained persisted even now. He hugged her hand against his face.

“Speak to me, Upenyu. Tell me something, anything. Is it really you?”

She pressed her full lips against his neck and then against his cheek, and raised them to his ear and whispered a single word in a voice that was all at once, her own, and something else’s entirely; something vast and primordial.

That word was “sacrifice.”

She stood and stepped back from MZabibu with a pleasant, but somber expression.

He stood and steeled himself as he produced a dagger that spilled green light as it was pulled from its sheath.

Viridian glass etched with the rites of renewal. He held it high overhead clasped in uncertain hands.

Upenyu turned her back on him, and he plunged the dagger into his chest, and carved through the bone and flesh, then with the last of his strength, he plunged his hand into his chest and produced his still beating heart for the goddess that stood before him.

“My life for our son’s.” he managed to demand with his last breath.

He collapsed, and vines immediately crept over his body pulling him towards and under the tree.

The thousands of beetles returned to the tree.

“Your wish has been granted. Your life is mine.” The tree spoke.

***

Mbisu wandered into the village he was born into weeks later, gaunt faced and undeniably changed.

When asked how it was possible that he was still alive, he only had one thing to say, “sacrifice.”

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan


Tesseract
992 words
The Nerd must’ve been gutshot, seein’ he had time to crawl over and bleed out all over the box. Cowboy there’s got a bullet hole where his left eye should be. One of the Suits was a helluva shot. Crime scene geeks are gonna have to figure out which. Can’t be sure of who nailed the pastor, either.

“This is a lotta drat blood, are the lab people comin’?” Sheriff Jacob Johnson – JJ to his friends – wrinkled his nose at the coppery smell. His deputy, Pete, was checking the bodies for ID.

God, I’m sweatin’ like a pig in this heat. Fuckin’ crime scenes.

“I made the call. They’ll be here in twenty.”

Fuckin’ crime scenes in churches at the rear end-end of nowhere.

JJ glanced at the bodies sprawled across the stage. Seen poo poo like this before, with those Cartel assholes. A drug deal gone bad, most like.

“Look in that box yet?”

“No sir, didn’t want to move him before the lab guys got here.” Smart.

Using a pen, JJ shifted coke-bottle glasses off the Nerd’s face.

Don’t recognize him. Probably from Austin. None of these dicks look local, ‘cept for the pastor. Pastor likely wasn’t involved, though. Poor bastard got shot in the back trying to run out his own church.

“Got anything, boss?”

“Naw. Best guess, Cowboy’s protectin’ the Nerd, with the Suits on the other side.”

The sheriff moved around the room, gesturing over each pair. “Cowboy must’ve been a learned draw, seein’ how Nerd over there don’t have a gun and both of these Suits got plugged.”

Maybe one of ‘em got distracted by the pastor comin’ in. Could be what set the whole drat mess off.

Pete lifted a shiny shield from Cowboy’s pants pocket. “Uh, boss…?”

A fuckin’ cop? A single bushy eyebrow rocketed up over JJ’s eye. “Deputy, you best figure out who Cowboy is right quick.”

Pete nodded and called it in. JJ turned to investigated the box. Despite the carnage, the box stood out the most. His probing foot jostled it. It felt heavy. Besides all the blood, it doesn’t look anything special. Just a box. Inside’s what counts, I suppose. The briefcase on the other side of the room probably has some interestin’ insides too. Small bills, I bet. Unmarked.

“Gotta be drugs.”

“What’s that, JJ?”

“I said drugs. I’m of a mind to open that box.”

“Nothing stopping you. Crime guys will be here in a few. Marlene is getting me that cop’s name.”

“Mhm.”

Bending at the waist, trying not to let his gut get too jammed up, JJ used his pen to push the Nerd’s arm off the box’s top. He put a single fingertip under the edge of the box’s lid and lifted, peering inside. More wood.

“Is it drugs?”

“No, looks like another box.”

“Not drugs?”

“Nope, just more box.”

JJ heard the crunch of tires on gravel outside and stood, sighing audibly. Finally, I can get the hell out of this fuckin’ church.

“Pete, you finish up here with the geeks. I’m goin’ out for some grub. Get that box set on my desk when you go back to the station.”

“You got it, JJ.”

***

“You ready?”

“For sure, boss. I’ve never seen anything like this! It’s like that movie where John Travolta’s a hitman…” Pete chattered onward, but JJ paid him no mind.

Let him be excited. It’s just gonna be some drugs anyway: cocaine, or maybe heroin.

The Nerd turned out to be Samuel Wiscott, UT professor. The badge identified Cowboy as Tim Hadley, detective with the Austin PD. Dumbass professor dealin’, with off-duty muscle for protection. No IDs on the Suits, but that ain’t a surprise.

The lid opened easily, and JJ saw that he had been right; a second, slightly smaller box sat inside. It looked just like first. The purchase was slight, but he managed to slip the second box out and set it on a nearby chair.

The second box opened to reveal a third, and the third opened to show a fourth. Pete let out a donkey laugh, but JJ’s face pulled into a tight grimace. Ah, poo poo. Getting’ complicated, now. Once Box Four was out, though, he didn’t move to open it. The fourth box was bigger than the second. The gently caress is this? JJ held it close, eyeballing the dimensions. The third box was also bigger than the second. Not a lot bigger, but bigger. He put the fourth box back and as it collapsed slightly to slide into the third he felt his grip on reality skitter like a knifepoint sliding on glass.

A fat bead of sweat dripped into JJ’s eye and a familiar sense of self-preservation kicked on. The instinct that kept the sheriff alive through years of traffic stops and arrests now poured a quart of adrenaline into his blood and send his gun hand reflexively twitching toward his holster. His mind telescoped into the future. Will I just keep pullin’ ‘em out until I die? Fuckin’ boxes all the way down? The lizard part of his brain squirmed suddenly. What if there IS a box at the very end? What do you think’s in it?!

The deputy looked at his mentor expectantly.

“Pete, what’d you say that professor did, again?”

“Physics, it said.”

The sheriff sat heavily into an unused chair.

“Put all this poo poo back, Pete.”

“What are you talking about?! We’re not going to keep going? We didn’t find the drugs!”

“There ain’t no drugs. It’s just some science project.” Don’t ask any more questions, Pete. Just let it lie.

Pete huffed. “Well, what are we going to do? Call the college?”

“You don’t worry about that.” I’ll worry. I’m gonna worry this sumbitch right to the bottom of a deep lake. Assumin’ nobody comes to shoot us for it first. “You just go make sure that briefcase is logged into evidence proper and I’ll take care of this box.”

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magic cactus
Aug 3, 2019

We lied. We are not at war. There is no enemy. This is a rescue operation.

PLAN Ω

981 words

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2mEVfdG3Os


Alice woke with the dawn, the creeping first fingers of light peeking through her window matching the pulsing throb of her hangover. She looked over at Daryl, still sound asleep in the bed next to her and permitted herself a small smile. Her eyes wandered over to the half-empty bottle of tequila on the night stand. Fun night, she guessed. Her head pulsed sharply in confirmation. She stood up and walked to the bathroom, splashed some cold water on her face. She opened the medicine cabinet, looking for her birth control pills. She was certain Daryl had used protection last night, he wasn’t a puritan by any stretch of the imagination, but she’d always thought it was better to be safe than sorry with this stuff. The pills were nowhere to be seen.

Maybe she’d taken them last night before the fun started? The trashcan was empty, disproving her hypothesis. She muttered a curse under her breath and went back to the bedroom.
She dressed quickly, trying not to wake Daryl, and slipped out into the early morning bustle. Feet on autopilot led her to the local pharmacy, and years of the same routine led her to the birth control aisle. The one package that still sat on the nearly empty shelves was one she’d never seen before. Generic, she guessed, the name-brand stuff probably already claimed by a tidal wave of college students. With a quiet sigh, she picked up the package of pills and headed for the checkout counter, grabbing a bottle of ice coffee as an afterthought. The cashier who rang her up didn’t say anything to her face, but Alice had done this enough to sense even silent judgment. Mentally, she shrugged while arranging her face into a pleasantly blank smile, feeling the old man’s eyes on her back until she was well outside of the store.
She stopped and sat down at a park bench, opened the package. The little white pill sat in the center of her palm. She popped it in her mouth and chased it with coffee, swallowing it down swiftly.

******************************************************************************************************************************

A tug on the sleeve of her blouse snapped her back to the present, a high-pitched voice tinged with a note of worry.

“Mom? Are you okay?”

Alice looked around for the source of the voice. A little girl of she guessed (knew?) seven, blonde, her blue eyes wide with wholehearted concern. I’m not your mother. She wanted to say, but she could feel words forming on her lips.
“I’m fine sweetie. Mommy is just a little tired.”
A pout from the girl, suspicion in her voice.

“I wanna go play on the swingset.” A tiny hand pulling on her blouse again, insistent. She let herself be led along to the swings, pushing rhythmically, small high-pitched giggles coming from her daughter.

“Higher! Higher!” The girl laughed. Alice smiled and redoubled her efforts. After a few hypnotic arcs the girl’s voice rang out with a new demand.

“Let’s go on the slide now.” She jumped off the swing and raced to the long tubular slide, mounting the metal stairs with a manic burst of childhood energy. Alice followed, the dull throb in her hip an ironic reminder of past youth. The girl stood before the slide’s yawning mouth, the first signs of genuine uncertainty on her face.

“Mommy. I’m scared” She buried herself in her mother’s thigh, seeking the comfort of solidity. Alice gently stroked her little girl’s hair, repeating the parent’s prayer.

“Everything will be fine.”

But the girl pressed in tighter, soft notes of shame in her voice.

“Go down the slide with me. Please?”


Alice stepped over the slide’s threshold and sat down gently, placed her daughter snugly in her lap, pulled her close. All she could see was the body immediately in front of her, and for a second, whether in her imagination or via motherly osmosis, she grasped the dizzying extent of her daughter’s fear. Her sweat-slicked hand held the rigid plastic in a death grip, but something slipped and off she went, her daughter’s shriek of fear echoing around her, morphing into a cry of delight. The sunlight gave the tube a soft ember-like glow, and as she looked up gentle color filled her vision, and all she saw was the purest of red. Within that red field, shapes became forms, forms became figures, figures became scenes, scenes became stories. And she watched.


She watched her sons go off to war, and her heart broke a thousand times. She watched her daughters slide down a thousand different slides and bear a thousand silent burdens. A thousand different hospital visits for a thousand children burned by a thousand angry suns that time had cruelly crafted. Multiplying now until she couldn’t keep track, a kaleidoscope of herself, some beaming, some sobbing, some hurting in the purest way. Some stood alone. All of them looked out at her with kindness in their eyes, the faces morphed into one face, her face, and she looked at herself and herself looked back and sang a lullaby, a gentle whisper in her ear, the only certain thing:

I love you.

In the park she finished the last of her coffee and stood up from the bench, feeling tired. She put the empty bottle in the trash and began the walk back to her apartment. When she got to the door she paused, listening, but she could only hear an echo, fading gradually until it turned to silence.

She opened the door and stepped into the next moment.

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