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SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In

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SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Man’s Law, God’s Law, and Fishy Law
Prompt: Echeneis
1000 words

The room was dilapidated, mildew stains running down the walls mixing with the green paint to form a sickly vomit hue. This was reflected in the smell, overplayed with a heavy lingering staleness. I had on a black hoodie, ripped jeans, and my lucky looney tunes boxers. My attorney, Edgar Trout looked decidedly out of place with his three piece suit and full Windsor knot no less, and a glorious feathered haircut. We were being eye hosed relentlessly by the one way mirror, placed to the side as if a 142”x72” mirror encompassing nearly the entire wall could be inconspicuous. The thing is, in the moment, sometimes, it is. After a lengthy but strangely comfortable silence as if we were in the eye of some strange storm, Ed broke the silence.



“You’ve certainly come a long way since law school. Most likely to succeed in kappa sigma 2010.”

“Well, technically it never said I had to succeed at law.”



“There’s my roommate. Going after Goerman? Brave.”



“Dumb.”



The two cops entered one after another. One sat down in the chair opposite myself, while the other stood directly behind his partner, giving the impression of a two headed monster, or perhaps a hideously conjoined twin. The shorter head spoke first.



“I’m Detective Rosen, and this is Detective Stone. So are you ready to tell us about what happened to David Goerman?”



“Actually my client isn’t at liberty to divulge that information” answered Ed. Detective Stone responded.



“Are you aware it is a crime to not cooperate with a police investigation? Or to lie to police investigators?” Detective Rosen waved his hand dismissively which instantly gave his partner’s face a surely tone.



“I’m sure they have no intention of that. Perhaps you could clarify for us.”



“Of course officer” said Ed “My client signed a non disclosure agreement with Mr. Goerman on the day of the 26th and therefore cannot discuss the events of that night with you.”



“Ah of course.” Answered Detective Rosen as he reflexively glanced at the mirror. “I was aware there were some legal discrepancies. However, the thing is that Mr. Goerman is alleging your client committed a crime. NDA’s, as you no doubt are aware, cannot be used to conceal a crime.”

“Well, forcing my client to answer is no doubt a crime in and of itself. Since my client signed the NDA at Goerman’s request, and now is being forced to break it at Goerman’s request, is this not an example of civil entrapment? Surely, this is fraud on Goerman’s behalf.” Stone found cause at this.



“Your scumbag client poisoned him to snare him with that NDA! He should be going down for false imprisonment, reckless endangerment, and impersonating a priest!”



“Surely the fact Goerman was intoxicated and mistook my client for a priest doesn’t necessitate that my client was impersonating one, or that he is responsible for the hallucinogens Goerman apparently felt comfortable enough indulging in, in a place of worship no less.”



“Ah” Rosen interjected at this point, “He attests you were ahead of him in line for communion, and that you placed several drops of LSD into the communion chalice after you partook.”



Edgar Trout smiled. “Ah, this should be a simple matter to clear up. Rather than this war of accusations, let’s consult the priest on what he witnessed.”



“He wasn’t forthcoming. Apparently a confession was made and that he claimed has been atoned for under god’s law.”



Ed’s smile remained. “How unfortunate.”



“Well your client was seen entering the confession booth before service ended.” Said Stone stoically. “That seems to line up. Nervous in church?” He finished as he stared holes into me.



“Just because my client had a confession to make doesn’t make him guilty.”



“Evidently. However many parishioners claim to have seen Goerman acting strangely during the service and then entering and leaving the confession booth later, before the priest. Did your client not hold a duty to inform him he was not actually a priest?” Asked the sitting man.



Ed clicked his tongue and leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms. To the uninitiated, he was calm, cool, confident, and about to deliver the coup-de grace. To those who intimately knew him, he was screaming on the inside. This was my fault. This was my plan and I knew it would be folly for me to play this game of chess myself when it came time to play. Trout's defence was masterful, like a tall bamboo stem bending in the breeze. Its weakness was it’s root; me. As always in my life, it was about the good I should have done. They had me dead to rights on that one. They underestimate me, however. This is the good I should be doing. The courts could never accomplish what humiliation could do sometimes. If the humiliation is one’s own actions made public, did I really do any wrong revealing them? Well, I did dose him with LSD. Maybe the truth will set me free.



“The truth is.” I said, entering the game for the first time, opening myself up to a checkmate at any moment. With sudden death in effect, the mirror listened closely. “I’m profoundly ignorant. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. I’m not catholic but I know confessing is the right thing to do. When David entered the booth, I sympathized with him immediately. I listened to his story, and then told him mine. It was only after he became agitated I suggested the NDA. We could scrap it if he prefers. We’re really very much alike, him and I, after all.”



Ed clicked his tongue relieved, and a bang was heard on the window. Checkmate. I was free and in possession of his secrets. Goerman would live his life wondering if and when the proverbial sword of Damocles would fall on him. I wouldn’t do it, but maybe it will inspire him to seek forgiveness from his fellow man.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


onsetOutsider posted:

How My Girlfriend Met My Dragon
200 words or something

Gold.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Like... you guys didn't get that he tricked someone into confessing his secrets or...

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


My bad. C'est la vie.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


I don't disagree with the loss. That much I figure is done. Just didn't know if it was the plot or the syntax was the problem. Thanks to a couple crits that's resolved. (Its both.) I am frustrated because my first two TD entries were middle of the pack and my last three have been loss-dm-loss. Super discouraging.

For the record the, cuz this is bothering me. The echeneis entry said you could use it to delay a legal proceeding. So I made it the lawyer. I'll do better this week.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Oh are you challenging me? Well in that case sure. Put these crits to good use.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006



:toxx:

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


in

:toxx:

Hit me with one I can't decide.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


WITNESS ME THUNDERDOME

I am the revolution, here to mark the end of the reign of tyrants. My cause is just. My honour is intact. As I stand before you today, let the losertar bear an omen of what is to come. I'm glad my efforts make you suffer so, for they shall be doubled and redoubled. I will enter every week until I am crowned emperor. I may lose, I may disqualify, but will you all be able to stem the tide? We shall see.

To quote Napoleon: "Quantity is a quality of it's own."

Come tyrants, we must water the tree.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 06:18 on Jan 16, 2019

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


ThirdEmperor posted:

'scuse me just cutting all the useless words off this post

cause it sounds like

what you're really getting at here

is you want to brawl me

:toxx:

It's on! (Yes. Nailed the it's. The time is nigh.)

One of us will be Napoleon. The other can be Napoleon III.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Chili posted:

SlipUp and Third, shut up you worms.

You shall brawl for my pleasure. To confirm your entry into this glorious combat, each of you must select a weapon (you may interpret this as you see fit). Post a picture of your weapon, and then await further instructions.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


See archive.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 19:56 on Dec 30, 2019

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Chili posted:

Take a week, write your bullshit, and report back here by 1/25/18 @ 10PM Eastern

Ya, I'm gonna need another year. Plus a day if possible.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Thanks! I toxx'd that one too iirc. 1st draft done.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


sebmojo posted:

:siren: Interprompt :siren: I know this looks bad but I can explain 350 words

Deadbeats
492 words. oh well.

“Sir, if you could just submit your W2s from your previous employer we could resolve the 152 year tax backlog. Hm. There must be some mistake. Let me check my calendar.” Said Jeff, the IRS accountant.

“I don’t have any.” Said Gaz’zhul

“Have you been self employed this whole time? Sir, are you aware tax evasion is a serious crime? I’m gonna have to dig up some 1040 personal tax forms here.”

“I know it looks bad but I can explain.” Said Gaz’zhul, “I’m a practitioner of the dark arts, of the forbidden magics of necromancy. I toil in secret to raise the dead from the cold earth to the warmth of life.”

“Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.” Said Jeff as he nodded along and jotted some notes. “Do these dead constitute a labour pool? Are they paid minimum wage?”

“What? No! They are but husks! I have yet to perfect the method of true resurrection.”

“So no patent then?” Asked Jeff.

“No.” Said Gaz’zhul.

“Well in that case it doesn’t seem like you operate a business or have taxable income. Technically you don’t have anything of value.” Said Jeff. Gaz’zhul bristled at this.

“Alright then.” Said Jeff. “Your tax issues have been resolved. Here are some forms, you qualify for welfare!”

“Welfare! How dare you!” Said Gaz’zhul.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of sir. You just fill out some words here and there…” Said Jeff.

“Like a spell?” Said Gaz’zhul.

“Sure, abracadabra and help arrives. You got it. Cheque comes in the mail. You’ll have to give us updates.”

“I would never share the secrets of the arcane arts with you!”

“No no, on the job hunt. Do up a resume and some cover letters that sort of thing.”

“Oh.”

“Have an excellent day Mr. uuhhh Bohner!”

“Never call me that again!”

***

The next day…

“So Mr. Smith, you are here for welfare benefits. You haven’t filed your taxes for a number of years and hold on here… Our database claims you died in 2016. I apologize profusely sir, there has been some kind of grevious mistake.” Said Tina.

“Uuuuhhhh… Brains…” Said a horribly decayed Mr. Smith.

“We'll get this sorted out straight away. It is obvious you need help.” Said Tina.

***

The next year.

“My fellow Americans.” Said President Ronald Rump. “Our nations has been beset by a plague. A horrible plague that returns the dead to life and qualifies them for welfare! We need a plan of action to combat this undead menace, that’s why I’m getting congress to make a heck of a deal, it’s a very good deal really it is, to put these lazy undead people back to work! If they want to qualify for it, they should have to pay for it!”

***

The next year.

“Hello, my name is Jeff. I’m a former IRS employee and I’m applying for welfare. I have all my appropriate forms here Mr. Uhhhh. Smith?…”

“Uuuuhhhh… Brains…”

“Oh, Mr. Brains.”

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 02:45 on Jan 22, 2019

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In.

Give me a place.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


See archive.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 20:15 on Dec 30, 2019

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


See archive.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 19:57 on Dec 30, 2019

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


See archive.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 19:58 on Dec 30, 2019

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


in happy happy joy me DO IT JUST DO IT

VIVA LA REVOLUTION

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Same. I could give ya a cup-le good lines.

E: tell your masters coming to thunderdome and asking only for champions of yore is folly. there is only the living.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 00:20 on Jan 31, 2019

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


flerp posted:

personally, im dead

You will be.

Brawl

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Halfway
1014 Words

The imposing tower before me stretched infinitely into the sky, escaping the atmosphere above. I've arrived at the space elevator. It went to the docking station, where an interstellar transport named ‘Echo’ awaited its final cargo before escaping Sol’s light forever.

I’m fine with that. Terra’s happier without the halfies. Everyone wins.

The man with a mustache at the counter inside checks my papers.

“No guardian? Where are you going, Proxima Centauri?” He asks.

“Barnard's Star,” I say.

“Barnard’s?” He asks as he bristles his nose. “It has a nasty frog problem you know.”

I say nothing. I don’t need a kick in the rear end on the way out, thanks.

***

I spend my time on the Echo alone, learning French. I need to practice as much as I could. Most of the crew and passengers on the transport spoke English, but Bernard’s wouldn’t be the same.

I want to try ordering my food entirely in French. It took an hour of rehearsal before I felt ready.

The smell of pizza and hamburgers wafted through the otherwise cold metallic structure as I make my way to the cafeteria. The woman working at the counter looks like she’s working the till and the oven in the back at the same time. Her hair is long and frizzy, tied into a messy bun with long strands of grey running through it and she had deep blue eyes, like the ocean. I have almost forgotten what I had come to say.

“Salut, une tranche du pizza avec pepperoni, c'est vous plait!” I say proudly. She arches one of her eyebrows and responds in broken English.

“You want me to do what with the pizza?” She asks.

“Just a slice of pizza please,” I say, as my bravado deflates. She half smiles, grabs a slice of pepperoni pizza from the warming tray and places it on a paper plate before handing it to me.

“Une pointe du pizza.” She says apologetically in French, “Cinq dollars.”

I have four dollars. poo poo, which one is ‘cinq’ again? I give her what I have and she laughs.

“Cinq is five. Don’t worry about it. C’est la vie.” She says.

I was fed, for the moment. This won’t work in the long term.

“Are you looking for any help? I spent all my money getting here.” I ask, “Maybe you can help me with my French too.”

She laughed again and said “Bien sûr, pourquoi pas.”

I froze with a smile on my face. She rolled her eyes.

“Sure, why not.”

***

“I warn you, my French is very… Comme ci comme ça.” She said holding her hand flatly as she moves back and forth. I notice how the apron she is wearing clings to her slim waist where it is tied. Her other hand pulled a tray of buns from the oven. Earlier she boiled her dough quickly in syrup water before baking, now giving the bun a perfect crust with a sweet taste.

“Hate to break it to you, Marie, so is your English.” I say, “What’s your first language?”

She stuck out her tongue at me and grabbed an iron skillet. I was nervous for a second but she grabbed some ground beef out of the cooler as well.

“It’s both. Je ne sais pas… Tu could call it Echo, oui? It’s how we talk. First words in your head, if its French or Anglais, that’s not important. Here, I’m going to show tu how to make a Marie burger.”

She kneads the beef together with bread crumbs from the night before, eggs, some of the fragrant spices she taught me about, rosemary and thyme, along with diced shallots, and garlic. Next, she forms large patties. As she sears both sides it releases a hearty, earthy smell as the fragrances mix together. Then she placed it in the oven to finish, trapping the juices inside.

“Grab me the spinach and the cheese à la crème!” She asks.

“Oui, Madamoiselle!” I say, mangling the French versions of Mrs and Ms together. She laughs out loud. Her laugh lines light up her face.

“Madame is a respected woman who can take her of herself. Mademoiselle is a silly tramp you want to sleep with.” Marie says.

“So you have a husband, maybe on Barnard’s?” I ask as I grab her the cream cheese. She waves her hand in response.

“Non, non…” She says as she pulls her burgers from the oven, letting them rest on a wire rack while she toasts the buns. Each one she garnishes with cream cheese, spinach, and caramelized onions. She bites her full lips slightly as she concentrates on each bun. Then she places the patties on each bun and each bun in a box for each customer who comes.

“Come, it is break time. I have something I want to show you.” Says Marie. As she takes off her apron and places it on a hanger, I do the same with mine.

“What is it?” I ask as we wash up.

“Something beautiful.” She says, “It is the winter solstice on Terra. We should celebrate.”

***

It was in the cargo bay. We have to sneak past two security team members just to get there.

A small viewport, through it, was Uranus, pale green and blue, spinning on its side with a sea of stars cascading around it.

“Whoa, I didn’t know planets could do that.” I say, “It seems so wrong.”

“Says who?” She says, her blue eyes staring into mine when I turn to look at her face, illuminated softly by natural light for the first time. I feel her hand grasp mine and my heart skips a beat. She brings it to the window and points it to one of the stars.

“That one is Barnard’s,” She says.

“They’ll probably just think I’m a halfie there too,” I say, "How different could it really be? People are people."

Marie shakes her head.

“Non. You and I are not halves. We’re whole of both, don’t you see? That’s more then they could ever be.” She says.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


anatomi posted:

Loser: SlipUp - Drowned Memories

Brawl.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


anatomi posted:

Bring it, you limp-necked milk drinker. When we're done a brawlin', you'll be a bawlin'.

Cut the flowers and turn the soil indeed, looks like I have a body to bury.

Sorry Fleshy, you get the next one.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


The Vitruvian Beast
Word Count: 1193

Prompt:


The wind blasted through the old house like a demon, slamming all the doors at once before dying almost entirely.

“What was that?” Asked John groggily from his sleep.

“It was just the wind,” said Mary, as she rolled over in bed and sighed.

“Probably, but I’ve never seen the wind do that here. I’m going to go check,” said John. He got up and put on a pair of trousers and his suspenders.

“Blasted war,” he said to himself. Leather rationing meant no more belts.

He lit his bedside lantern and went downstairs. The wind that remained wailed quietly through an unseen opening as if someone was screaming in the distance.

A loud thud came from his front door. He opened it.

“Mary!” He called out. “Bring a blanket!”

It was a man; totally naked, covered in deep cuts, and bleeding.
___

They dressed the stranger’s cuts in the bathroom. Mary used her good linens for bandages. They put him in the guest room.

They were woken again that night by the sound of wind. This time it sounded more like howling, off in the distance.

That morning Mary telephoned the doctor. He had several other patients to visit, so he could be as long as four weeks.

“Call me if his condition changes before then.”
___

Two weeks passed, and still, the stranger slept. They had tended to him as godly Christians should, and his wounds had begun to scar but he moaned terribly at night. His cries punctuated by the howls in the distance. Had this poor man been attacked?

John had gone looking around the edges of the property. He found tracks. Lots of them.

Wolves.
___

They heard a mad crashing that night, spilling from the guest room followed by wordless screaming. The wolves yipped madly in unison, creating a cacophony of chaos. Mary was the first to open the door.

The man was awake, thrashing and wailing on the floor. He had pulled all the hair off of his body and was bleeding from the head and groin.

They tied him to the bed with rope and put a stick in his mouth so he wouldn’t swallow his tongue.
___

When the stranger was lucid, he told them he was from a few hours north, where his family lived. He remembered hearing howling for weeks and had gone outside one night when it grew so close it had left his ears ringing. The next thing he knew he woke up tied to the bed.

“How’d I get like this?” Asked the stranger, flexing the ropes. They told him that he had been out for weeks, and was seizing on the floor.

“We were worried about you,” said Mary.

“We’re going to go check on your family,” said John. “Hold tight. We’ll loosen you up as soon as we get back and can keep an eye on you. The doctor is coming and we don’t want you to get hurt if you seize up again.”

After they left the room, Mary asked John if he really thought the stranger could have another episode.

“Maybe,” said John. He grabbed his shotgun, their lanterns, and they departed.
___

The forest was mute as they traveled. Gone were the birds, as was the wind. Only the sound of snapping twigs and the gurgling of a stream.

Dusk approached. It was further than the stranger made it seem.
___

The homestead loomed before them in the twilight. It was raining faintly but no smoke came from the chimney and no light from the windows. The door was open.

“Keep an eye out,” said Mary as she approached the entrance. John put his lantern up on a stump and leaned against another tree opposite the lantern so that his silhouette would blend in.

“I’ll be over here,” said John.

Mary’s lantern was illuminating the front of the house, but its light was lost in the absolute darkness within the doorway.

She edged her way to the door and looked inside.

Mary clenched her hand over her mouth and ran to John as fast as she could.

“What’s wrong?” He asked. She grabbed his shotgun and shells, ran back to the doorway, and unloaded both barrels.

She fumbled two more shells into the shotgun, vomited, and blasted inside again.

She pulled out two more shells that she dropped before collapsing and crying, her head resting on the barrel of the empty gun.

John cautiously approached, put his hand on Mary, and peered inside.

He saw two dead wolves among the strewn body parts of human beings torn limb from limb.

Flies covered everything.
___

They told the stranger they found nothing as they untied him.
___

Mary called the doctor the next day. He said it would be okay for him to move around, but to also get plenty of rest and food as well.

“I’ll be there in a week and I can give him the full check-up,” said the doctor. “I can’t diagnose over the phone I’m afraid.”

John called the police after. They sounded skeptical of John’s claim of the house in the woods but said they’d investigate within the next couple days.

“That’s pretty remote and we’re low on manpower. The war, you know how it is,” said the policeman, “Say, why didn’t you enlist?”

“I did,” said John, hanging up the phone.
___

The stranger passed his time chopping wood in the back. He insisted he ‘earn his keep’.

Mary was making tea on her gas stove when there was a pause in his rhythm. She felt eyes watching her. When she turned to look, he had lodged his axe blade into another large log, hoisted it on to the chopping block, twisted his axe free, and cleft it in two.

He repeated this for days. Always a single stroke.
___

The howling continued all this time, growing closer and louder. There were more of them. They were hungry.

The morning the doctor was supposed to show up for the appointment, the stranger left without notice.

Mary tried to call to cancel the appointment, but there was a problem with the phone. The wire outside had been chewed.

By dusk, the doctor had not arrived.

There was no howling that night.
___

The next night, the full moon shone through their windows and the howling was outside their front door, piercing their ears and tormenting them.

Then a scratching, tearing at the front door, building to a fever pace as it smashed back and forth in place.

John grabbed his shotgun and they went downstairs. When they reached the kitchen, John stopped and gave Mary the gun. The front door was just through the kitchen hall.

“Take this. If anything comes through this door beside me, you blast them,” said John as he disappeared into the dark passage beside the stove.

Mary braced herself against the kitchen table. The scratching stopped and one lonely howl echoed through the night, more man than wolf, more pain than fury. Then there was the sound of crashing wood as if lightning had struck a tree, followed by a deathly yowl.

Mary leveled the shotgun at the door. The darkness moved. Her shotgun screamed.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Thank you for the crit. I mention the stove several times and reference the shotgun blast in the wall. I referenced the time period it would exist in with the wallpaper and the antique stove. I get dinged for the prompt every week. I really do not know what else to do at this point. Am I misinterpreting how to use a prompt?

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


onsetOutsider posted:

slipup, i dont think saying thanks absolves you of “dont discuss crits in the thread”

that said, thanks for the comments about my story, pham and seb

Discussing a judgement apparently.

E: I'll leave it alone but I'm going to take a break from this.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 03:38 on Feb 13, 2019

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Slipmi Brawl

The Triumph of Sacrifice
1432 words

The rat king emerges from the shadows. A hundred rats tangled together in woe. They bite, claw, and tear at each others plague fused flesh as they scurried in one solid mass towards the embracing lovers.

“Get behind me,” the young man says to the woman as he dons his plague mask, warding off the miasma. He charges the tide of vermin.

***

“Mark me, they hadst not returned. The Lord hath forsaken them,” cries the monk, falling to his knees. “He hath forsaken us all! I am ripe with the sin of man and has condemned all the maker’s mortal souls in so being! In this foul year of our Lord 1570, why must there be darkness on the eighth day?”

The executioner put his hand on the monk’s shoulder. “They will return yet.”

The monk stands up and turns to face the executioner. He unties the simple knotted cord holding his robe together and slides it off, revealing hideously swollen buboes across his tortured flesh.

“The Lord hath punished me,” the monk says, “Now He hath taken the last light of humanity. A plague of boils? The taking of the firstborn? I hath offended Him as did the pharaoh did in the Old Testament.”

“The Lord tests you, as He did Job. You hath convinced me of the absence of a curse on thy soul by my profession. If my touch doth not condemn those it finds, then in place of this hex there must be only God’s love. If the Lord hath forgiven me, surely he will forgive you. If you were to perish would that not lead you to paradise in God’s eternal light?” the executioner says.

The monk crossed his arms and wandered to an old wagon drawn askew of the road. It had tipped on its side. Broken pieces scattered the area.

“Not so. Remember that the painting we found… The dead came for king and bishop, knight and jester, lovers… They were all herded into a solitary coffin for all, away from God’s light. Purgatory. We are plagued by unforgiven sin. The Lord’s light is withheld from us,” the monk says.

“There was light, you simply obsess over the macabre! Do not allow this taint of the flesh to rise to the level of your soul,” the executioner counters.

The monk's jaw moves as if to snap but stops. A light overcomes his eyes. His arms drop to his sides and he looks to the darkening sky.

“There was, wasn’t there? Not upon the sinister left side where dwelled the greedy king and the corrupt bishop, but on the righteous side. The young couple, encroached upon by the coffin bore by the army of the dead. Above them the sky was open, shining a light upon the human sacrifices on the hill,” the monk recalls. He walks over to a broken wagon wheel and pulls it from the axle.

“What do you intend?” the executioner asks.

“I intend to repent. For us all. If we can not save my daughter and your son, we can bring them God’s light,” the monk says.

“My friend, I cannot break you upon this wheel and in so doing, cast aside my own salvation. Let us spend your remaining time in each other’s company and wait for our children, who I am certain are late only out of precaution. In so doing you may share your fate with your daughter and depart upon her your final wisdom.” The executioner responds.

“Nay good, kind, decent sir. I will merely complement my obscenities with the deadly sin of sloth, and would certainly condemn them. Please, I beg you. For our children. For our immortal souls. For a future for humanity. Surely if you have earned the Lord’s forgiveness for your prior transgressions, thou may be forgiven for this, an act of mercy for a condemned soul? Thy sins are grievous, for my own salvation I must sacrifice my life for others to enter to the eternal kingdom, and suffer as our Saviour did, like Dismas and Gestas who were crucified beside Him,” the monk counters.

The executioner shakes his head and rubs his eyes. He walks down the road before praying to God without the aid of a priest, as Martin Luther taught in his reformation. This was before the plague took Martin as well.

Then the executioner walks over to the broken wagon and frees several large wooden stakes that bonded the body of the cart together. He also collected a mallet and a jar of pine resin which is normally reserved for lubricating the wheel axles. Finally, he returns to the monk.

“I am prepared to deliver you to the Lord to plead for our salvation. I will pray to him to end this vile envy that plagues me as you reach Saint Peter,” the executioner says.

The monk walks to an open patch in the field. He lays down.

“Thank you my brother. Please guide my daughter as if she were your own. I will meet you in the kingdom,” the monk says as he closes his eyes.

The executioner places one of the stakes on the monk’s outstretched right hand, on the palm.

The monk begins to pray. His toes play with the dirt.

“Thy Father, who art in heaven.”

The executioner nails the stake through the monk’s hand, embedding into the earth. The monk screams between verses but continues.

“Hallowed be thy name.”

The executioner pierces a second stake through the monk’s left hand.

“Thy kingdom come,” the monk says. His voice trembles.

One foot was placed on top of the other and a stake driven through both.

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,”

The executioner hoists the wagon wheel above his head. He stops for a moment. The monk nods to continue.

The wheel crashes down on the monk’s right arm, shattering the bones. The executioner then rolls it up and down the length of the arm, pulverizing it and embedding sharp shards of wood and bone throughout.

“Give us this day our daily bread,” The monk says as he weeps softly. The wheel crashes down on his other arm.

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The wheel then crushes both his legs at once.

The executioner casts the wheel to the ground and rips the monk from his earthly bonds, interrupting his prayer.

“It’s ok,” the executioner says, “That’s it now, it is almost over. Just hold on, I have you, my friend. I bear this burden with you. The Lord, who lay within us, bears this burden with us both.”

The monk nods weakly. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” he says, finishing the Lord’s prayer.

The executioner lays his friend upon the wheel that he used to break him as gently as he can. He takes each of the monks ruined limbs and carefully threads them through the spokes of the wheel. Every slight motion rubs broken bone against flesh and nerve. The monk continues to silently pray, pausing for a moment only to bear witness to his own wasted body. After he was threaded spread eagle across the wheel, both are covered in the pine resin oil, as is the remaining wagon axle.

“It is over,” the executioner says as he lifts one side of the wheel and places the axle within the center, “Do not forget about us in the kingdom of heaven. You shall be with him soon, away from this disease that torments you.”

“Thank you, thy friend. Watch for a sign. Know I sit beside the Lord and that we watch over you.” The ruined shape of the monk whispers.

The executioner digs a small hole and hoists the axle shaft into it, bringing the monk into the sky, supported by his broken limbs threaded through the wheel spokes.

The executioner then pulls out his flint.

“Wait for me Jesus! I am coming! Can you hear me? I am coming now!” the monk screams with his last ounce of strength. The executioner sets the axle alight. The fire races upwards and engulfs the monk on the wheel.

The glow was as a beacon to the heavens themselves. It was the only light in the darkening sky.

“Over there!” A young man’s voice called from afar.

“We made it! We’re coming!” A young woman’s voice followed.

The executioner fell to his knees in front of the conflagration. Tears streamed from his eyes.

“He hath saved us,” the executioner says, “He hath saved us all.”

E: I already lost, enjoy this easier to read version.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 02:41 on Feb 16, 2019

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


I do need to take a break from after that one for a week or so. I'll spend the time doing some crits, I'll learn how it's done.

Feel free to crit this story if anyone feels like it. I did some growing the gently caress up.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Saucy_Rodent posted:

My idea for this week morphed into something else (I'm a seminarian, I turned the premise into a sermon). What resulted isn't a short story and isn't really cyberpunk, should I post it or bite the fail?

Hey, people liked Atlas Shrugged.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Faulty Wiring
193 Words

I knew something was wrong when the Christmas tree spontaneously combusted as we put the star on it. The fire department blamed faulty wiring.

On a hunch, I called a priest. He answered, and burst into flame. The fire department blamed faulty wiring.

One night, while watching TV, between the screams of the damned and torrents of blood that interfered with The Late Show, there was an infomercial for the new Ghost Buster 3000. Not only could it bust ghosts, but was great for corners and stairs.

"Hot diggity," I said, as I placed an order.

When it arrived I immediately took it to the fuse box.

"Come out foul demon!" I cried.

"Your mother tucks socks, in a well!" The fuse box cried back.

I turned on the vacuum and manically sucked the demon out of the fuse box.

"You like that? Huh?" I said. There was no response. I got him. I looked down the vacuum to be sure.

My soul was sucked from my body into its chamber to reside with the demon of the fuse box in an eternity of fire and saucy remarks.

The fire department blamed faulty wiring.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


in flash me

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


ThirdEmperor posted:

'Kay who wants a brawl

:toxx:



FuschiaEmperor Brawl

Wow, you two are sure hopped up and ready to go. Way to lead by example!

Give me a sports-themed story in 1500 words or less due March 4th 12:00 MST. (Midnight)

Good luck! Let'sss play ball!

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Kuidaore
Word Count: 1572

Flash Rule:


Life was over. Franklin had lost his job at the engineering firm. With it, he had lost his security, his standing, and his pride.

He would still go through with the dinner party tonight. He’ll lose himself in the food, and worry about his problems in the morning. The water began to boil.

“You’ll find another job by next week,” Karen said, as she passed him the tomatoes. He cut a small ‘x' at the base of one tomato, cored it, and tossed it into the water for a minute. After fishing it out with a slotted spoon, he placed it on the cutting board. He peeled the skin, cut it into quarters, and removed the seeds by hand. The process was repeated for each one.

“That’s a lot of work for a tomato,” Karen said.

“Well the core and seeds add a bitter flavour, the skin will ruin the texture, and the goop will dilute the sauce. A tomato is just like a good woman, treat her right and she’ll come through for you,” Franklin said with a wink. Karen laughed. They prepared some onions, a carrot, garlic, and sautéed them. Then the herbs were finely chopped and the olive oil measured out. Finally, the ingredients were puréed together.

It normally takes six to eight hours, if not all day, to slow cook a great tomato sauce from scratch. They did it in thirty minutes with a pressure cooker.

The job hunt would have no such luck.

By next weekend, Franklin had not received any calls. He would go through with that week’s dinner party regardless.

“I need this. It helps me feel good, despite everything. Like I have something to offer,” Franklin said. “Besides I have something special planned.”

Karen kissed him on the cheek. “I can’t wait. The guests are arriving. I’ll work my magic and keep them lively.”

“Here,” Franklin said as he produced a bottle of wine, “Marc Kreydenweiss Chateauneuf-du-Pape, from oh-eight. A good year.”

“That’s older. Sounds expensive,” Karen said.

“It’s fine, I’ll have a job at another firm by next week.”

Karen joined the guests and soon the smell of chicken wafted through the dining room.

Soon Franklin emerged carrying several bowls on a plate. He passed one to each of his guests.

“Smells great,” said Roman, Franklin’s college roommate. Roman had gone into a different field, but they stayed close.

“Shark’s fin soup,” Franklin said. “A symbol of wealth and good fortune among the Chinese people.”

“Smells like chicken soup to me. Got any crackers?” Roman said with a glance around the room, earning muted laughter.

Franklin chuckled. “It’s chicken stock. Shark fin is flavourless, it’s the texture that is beautiful.”

Roman stirred the soup in front of him. The thinly sliced shark fin resembled noodles.

“Isn’t this stuff like a grand per fin? You spent that to improve the mouthfeel of chicken noodle soup?” Roman said as Karen frowned, “That’s just the first course right?”

Franklin grew visibly agitated. “You don’t get it. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. We have ice cream in the freezer. I’m celebrating my good fortune, and you all are welcome to join me,” he snapped at Roman and the others.

The soup was eaten in silence.

Over the next week, Franklin had started to act strangely. He was hiding out in the basement for long periods of time. It was partially converted into a downstairs rental unit that they had hoped to make some extra money on, but Franklin’s unemployment had put a halt to the renovations. The kitchenette was finished, but the combination of wood framing, bare insulation, and dim lighting left it feeling like a prison.

Karen tried to convince him to take a break from the dinner parties.

“You wanted to do these because they were fun. It didn’t seem to make you happy,” she said. “Plus you went way over budget. We have to ration our savings until you find another job.”

“They just didn’t get it. Did you hear them? They called it chicken noodle soup,” Franklin replied. “I just have to step it up.”

“Frankie, please. You’re unemployed. Prioritize.”

“I need this Kare-bear. I can’t let them know that.”

Karen sighed. “Fine, if it helps with the self-pity, then sure. Just no repeats of last time okay? I love you, not your job.”

“Okay. There won’t be any repeats. I’ve been preparing all week, I’m going to blow everyone away,” Franklin said.

“That’s what you’ve been doing in the basement, preparing for the dinner? What the heck is it?”

“You’ll see,” he said.

There was knocking at the door. Roman and the other guests had arrived. Karen answered and led them into the dining room. The wine was served and they talked about the latest movie, but the discussion gradually devolved into an argument about historical accuracy, to the boredom of the group as a whole.

“Franklin’s sure taking his sweet time,” Roman said to Karen.

“Is that music?” Karen asked. There were faint notes in the air.

“Birds,” Roman corrected. “Coming from downstairs.”

“Maybe I’ll go check on him,” said Karen. Roman insisted on joining her.

“I just need to get out of here,” Roman said privately as they left the room.

They reached the basement door. The chirping of birds could be heard clearly from here.

Their knocks were unanswered, so they opened the door.

As they made their way down the stairs the singing grew louder. The air was sweet with the smell of brandy.

They reached the bottom of the stairs and turned the corner.

A dozen eyeless birds peered back with empty sockets, their eyes crudely gouged out. They had grown obese from the piles of grain in front of them and could no longer fly. Franklin was wrapped in a sheet and was carrying a small cage. He grasped the birds one by one while they blindly pecked at his hands and stuffed them into the cage. He walked over to the pot full of brandy as the birds struggled and cried pitifully. Karen and Roman were frozen in horror as Franklin thrust the cage under the brandy, where the birds gurgled as they drowned and marinated. He took their brandy soaked corpses and tossed them still feathered into the hot oven. It released a sickly sweet smell when the cage entered, like burning hair, as the feathers singed.

“What the gently caress is this?” Roman said loudly, breaking the moment.

Franklin’s head seemed to swivel around in place. “Sheets! Wear your sheets to hide from the eyes of God!”


“This is hosed up. Torturing birds? Franklin, you’ve lost it, man,” Roman said as he went back upstairs, “Get yourself together. I’m taking off. I’ll tell the others you’re feeling sick.”

“You’re hosed up,” Franklin shouted up the stairs, “These are Ortolans, the delicacy of kings! You blind them so they gorge themselves! You don’t know poo poo! Get lost! Don’t come back!”

Karen took in the dreadful panorama around her. “How could you be so cruel?”

“Don’t you care about beauty? About art?” Franklin asked.

Karen retrieved the cage from the oven using her sleeves. She touched one of the broken wings through the metal.

“This isn’t beauty. This is pain,” she said softly.

“It doesn’t matter!” he said, pointing upstairs. “Those people worship me. Everything I touch is glorious. I got these birds from a French poacher, who smuggled them into the country. The brandy is straight from Armagnac. Authentic. All I had to do was remortgage the house! It will all be worth it. You’ll see.”

“You… got a second mortgage? How could you? For them? They’re gone. We can’t make the payments, we’ll have to file for bankruptcy. We’ll lose the house,” she said, “We’re ruined.”

Franklin’s expression of outrage froze and dropped entirely. He sat down among the carnage he was the cause of and looked down, remaining silent.

Karen walked over to him and broke the silence, “You don’t have anything to say?”

“I’m sorry,” he said, rubbing his eyes, “I don’t know what came over me. I just wanted to impress everyone. I wanted to be impressive. Who looks up to me now? I lost everything. I hosed up.”

Karen put her hand on his shoulder.

“You didn’t lose me,” she said, glancing back at the gruesome remains, “Close though.”

A small laugh emerged from deep within Franklin. “I guess I better clean up then. It’s been a long day. I’ll look for labour jobs in the morning, maybe on the oil rig. It’s not glamorous but it’s something.”

Karen hugged him and disappeared upstairs. She returned about ninety minutes later after he had cleaned up most of the slaughter.

“Something smells great,” Franklin said.

“We never had a chance to eat, so I made this lasagna and put it in the oven while I had a shower,” Karen handed him a plate with a small square of food and a fork. He took a bite.

“Wow, this is delicious,” he said as he took another bite, “What did you do?”

She laughed and shook her head. “I’m not some superstar chef wannabe. It’s noodles, ground beef, pasta sauce, extra cheese, and extra crispy. I did the tomato sauce as you showed me. Cool life hack.”

“It’s perfect,” Franklin said, “Just the essentials.”

Karen smiled and said, “We’re going to be okay.”

“Thank you,” he replied.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


in

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Crits part 1

Fear eat self

The descriptors here are vivid and dark, which gives the piece a fantastic tone but the sheer volume oversaturated the story, ruining the pacing and muddying the plot. Don't remove all of them, but definitely pare them down so the best ones have some breathing room.

As for plot, the world building is good. An interesting take on an aspect of vampire fiction often overlooked. There is a distinct lack of conflict, almost seems like a food blog post if it were formatted differently.

Love and sausages

Takes a little while to get going. I don’t think it’s a writing problem, I think it’s a plot construction problem. Start with a hook, then fall back into establishing the setting as a way to answer the questions raised. More than one way to skin a cat though, of course.

Characters are sympathetic and likeable. Some are underdeveloped. Eg Martha is okay dating john, the butcher's son, despite him doing that. He decides to try going vegetarian. Then she breaks up with him on his first slip? No words break up? Huh. I don’t doubt it could happen, I just need to know more.

The ending ties everything together nicely.


The Butcher is your Friend

Reads like slam poetry. Very cool descriptors. Good tension and pacing as well. The vagueness adds a nice air of mystery.

The tone shift near the end threw me off a little.

Here's a sample couple of lines I want to crit: “Your stomach was rumbling. The chamber you were huddled in quietly rattles as you thought and planned so desperately."

You mess up your tense. Some redundant words. (Thought and planned.) Minor proofing stuff.

A well deserved win. Mostly nitpicking.

Chicken

Funny story. Kels is a great character.

Some minor proofing errors.

“I ran the sink, hoisting myself up so I could catch my upper arm under the flow of cold water.”

Should be ‘and hoisted’ to maintain tense.

"I looked at despair at the packets of rice and the single tomato, still on the counter, the half-submerged chicken carcass, the pool of water on the floor, and the still-relevant lack of a table. And although the stream of cool water was helping, my skin was still burning.”

Should be ‘looked in despair'. Overuse of ‘still' to establish urgency.

Overall, not much to nitpick at. Plot and pace are on point. Hammer out the technical bits. Well deserved HM.

Norwegian Hot Sauce

I like this one, maybe not in spite of its weirdness, but because of it.

“Published on scandinavianchef.com”

This is great.

"Christ Rippers"

That name. It's totally jarring with the tone. Maybe something less colourful.

"Varmtfjellpeppers"

This is also great.

The orgy and the ejaculate definitely mess with the tone. I agree you needed a crazy secret ingredient but the mushrooms would do with more words, but they are quickly passed over.

The narrator doesn't really reveal too much about themselves until the end. More characterization might help sell the food blog and get the reader attached. What blogger doesn't like talking about themselves?

Saucy, you should get on discord.

I'll finish out crits for the rest of the week at a later date.

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SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Dragonstorm
1970 words.

A solar flare erupts on the surface of the sun and the energy speeds across the vast expanse of space, reaching earth’s orbit in eight minutes, supercharging a particle suspended high in the atmosphere. The microscopic particle grows to the size of a pea as it fills with white light. It falls back towards earth, like a tear.

***

Lucy’s camera flashes, capturing the full glory of the Saturday night LAN party. Four monitors line the wall, linked together, like a budget command center. Set up had taken an hour. A night of glory awaited.

“What adventure this time?” Lucy inquired.

“Dragonstorm!” Michael replied from his spot beside the window.

Jerry claps his hands together. “Oh snap it’s out?”

“Almost,” George said as he holds up a USB drive, “It leaked early.” He plugs it into his backward facing PC.

“Cool, way to go Georgie!” Lucy said as she put her camera in her bag, taking her place among her friends.

“Ready?” She asks.

“Launch in three… two… one…” Michael counts down, as is their cheesy tradition. They turn their monitors on at the same time.

A bright ball of light enters into the room through the window, on a breeze.

“Whoa!” Somebody exclaims.

“Is that an alien?” Jerry asks as the ball floats over the top of their computers. Each is showing the Dragonstorm logo of a prince, riding a dragon.

“I think it’s ball lightn—,” Lucy begins but is cut off by the detonation of blinding light that fills the room with the smell of sulfur.

Everything fades to darkness. The pixels of black in their mind’s eye that comprise the sea of unconsciousness begin to vibrate and then fall away.

Green. Lucy can see small blocks of green, and now blue, even yellow. It is as if the resolution is improving.

She’s outside, lying in a blowing field of long green grass. A clear blue sky suspends the sun above her.

Her armour clinks together as she rises from the ground.

“Huh,” she remarks, studying the gauntlets she’s wearing. She notices she has a sword in its sheath at her side and a shield on her back as well.

“Hey Lucy, looking good!” Michael says from behind her. She turns to see him in a white robe and with a staff in his hands.

“Not too bad yourself,” she replies.

Jerry pushes himself up from the tall grass between his companions, he’s wearing a vest and a dress shirt, with a lute strap around his back.

“Did we just travel to the past?” he asks.

“Maybe,” Michael answers as he examines his staff. It’s heavy, made of iron with leather wrapping. It forms a triangle at the top and holds a thick blade that resembled a stake at the bottom. “Except… I think I remember this, and I never paid attention in history.”

“Well that’s badass, but definitely not historical.” Lucy says, “We’re in Dragonstorm aren’t we?”

“You nailed it,” he says, “When George told me he was downloading the game last night, I looked for a beta walkthrough.”

A woman’s figure rises from the tall grass a distance away. She is wrapped in leather, with a quiver of arrows around one shoulder and a bow over the other.

“Something’s different,” the woman says.

Lucy feels something familiar in the strange woman’s voice, “George?”

The figure looks down and examines themself. They cup their breasts.

“This isn’t what I thought it would be like,” they say.

“You’re still Georgie to me. We’ll figure this out, Mike saw the walkthrough,” Lucy says.

“Beta walkthrough,” Michael corrects as he pulls his staff from the earth.

“How did I end up like this?” Georgie asks.

“Dragonstorm has a unique character generation system. It asks philosophical questions and generates your character based off your answers,” he says.

“I don’t remember any questions,” Georgie says as they touch their elbows. “These feel weird.”

“Our subconscious must have answered for us,” Lucy says in realization. Georgie sighs.

“Hey, at least you have a sick bow.” Jerry says, idly strumming his lute, “I guess I’m supposed to hit people with a guitar.”

“Nope. You play it. Trust me,” Michael responds.

“Well as long as their weakness is a bad night’s sleep I got us covered.”

“Hey, look at that,” Georgie says, pointing towards a path that runs through the clearing and the surrounding woods. A cloud of dust is moving closer. “Is that a friendly?”

Lucy surveys the situation. “You three hide in the ditch beside the road. I’ll block the way and try to find out what’s going on. I’ve got the armour. If they try anything, Georgie, Michael, turn them into a kebab.”

“I guess that’s why you’re the one with the sword,” Jerry says as he plays a few more chords.

Lucy takes her place in the center of the road as the others hide. A rider emerges from the curved forest road, at a high-speed gallop. They see each other too late. She leaps into the ditch. He shouts. The horse rears back, unsaddles him, and flees back the way it came. His shape lies on its back, motionless in the bare dirt.

Michael runs to him. He stakes his staff in the ground and forms a triangle with his fingers.

“Producat in regeneratione,” Michael says over the injured man. A triangle of green light emerges from the staff and joins his fingers, forming a prism. It blinks and disappears.

The stranger’s eyes flutter and open. He gazes at the sky for a moment, as if he forgot what brought him here. As the memory dawns on him, he looked at the four people surrounding him.

“It seems Commander Smith’s coup is successful. If you brought me back to life to torture me, know I would die a thousand deaths for my people. Do your worst charlatans. I do not yield,” the man says.

The four look between themselves and solemnly nod in unison. Jerry turns his back to the man, lowers his trousers, and farts loudly in the man’s face. It cracks like thunder and trails off into a high pitched squeal.

“Yield fool!” Jerry says, “I can play this lute poorly at you as well!”

“Enough, enough! What manner of assassins are you?”

“We’re simply adventures searching for our home,” Lucy says, “We weren’t looking for anybody.”

“Truly? Perhaps this meeting was by divine providence. I am Prince Nath, of the Kingdom of Cibbia. We were a peaceful people. My father, the King, wished to reform the army, reduce its size, and focus on improving the lives of the common people. Commander Smith did not wish to see his power reduced. He murdered my father and his dragon as they slept. I tried to flee with my dragon Zoe, but she is young and not yet capable of flight. They caught us at the bridge. She knocked a man off a horse and placed me on it. She saved me. Now that bastard has her.”

“You need to raise an army,” Michael comments. Prince Nath disagrees.

“The dragon is the symbol of my office. I cannot be king without her. Besides, she’s my only friend. She saved my life. I’m not letting her suffer,” Nath says, “Smith will try to break her to his will with torture so he can seize the throne.”

“You speak of her as if she was more person than beast,” Georgie says.

“She is smarter than any human, but she is not human. Nor is she a beast. You seek to put labels on her, to understand her easier. Understanding Zoe is not easy. Nor does she wish to be labeled. She is a colossus and a creator, a pyroclast and a poet, a killer and a kindred soul. Just call her Zoe and let her speak for herself. Rescue her, and we will send you home.”

“It’s kind of a long way,” Michael says.

“Young wizard, I see you bear the triangle of the three elements; fire, water, and nature. While you memorize slices of magical theory for practical application, she is a master of fire magic and can bend the sun itself to her will.”

Michael shrugs. He looks to his friends. “Best shot we have.”

Prince Nath pointed back down the road. “The bridge is two hours away by foot. They’ll no doubt… Drag her into the river. It will keep her weak,” Prince Nath says with a crack in his voice, “I don’t know yet what they plan, but it will be some time. Smith’s skill with the sword is unmatchable, his golden armour is too thick to penetrate with arrows, and he carries a magical charm to ward off all but the mightiest spells.”

“Can you walk?” asks Lucy.

***

The soldiers camp was on the other side of the river. They were fifty strong. The bridge and road were adjacent to them. Zoe lay in the river, huge chains pulled from one shore to the other to keep her in captivity.

The soldiers were unaware of the group's presence. Georgie had soundlessly eliminated the scouts from afar by piercing their throats.

“drat Georgie.”

“Natural born killer,” Georgie jokes, “You’re up Lucy.”

She draws her longsword, shield on her other arm, and walks to the bridge. She rests her sword on her shoulder and whistles as she goes.

The sentries on the edge of the camp can hear her approach. They shout to the rest of the soldiers who gather their arms and armour, and hurry towards the bridge. From the largest tent emerges a figure wearing ornate golden armour. Commander Smith.

“I warn you all,” Lucy shouts at the advancing horde, “I am the master of this bridge, and I charge my toll in souls."

The lone figure screaming defiantly at them seems to shake the troops for a moment. They were no fools. Prince Nath’s pursuers had not returned. The scouts were missing. The bridge would act as a funnel against them and in favour of this berserker woman. A woman?

They reach the bridge and cross it. Lucy blocks the first man’s charge with her shield and cuts his legs out from under him.

That is the group’s signal. They hear a shout from the woods.

“Fiat ignis!”

A blazing blast burns the bridge, breaking its boards and beams beneath the brothers-in-arms. The construct collapses completely into the current, carrying them 'cross the country.

Smith sallies to the sleeping serpent, sword sharp.

“Violence virtually vilifies virtuous vermin,” Jerry jokes. Forest fogged his fate from his foe, his players part in this play. The lute laid low the little liar, laden with lacerations. Chords cut the Commander like a caesarian. The body bleeds blue.

“Sick poo poo,” they say.

Jerry farts loudly.

***

“For rescuing my dear Zoe, we will return you to your time whenever you please,” proclaims Prince Nath. Zoe jumps up and down, nods her head, and licks Nath so hard he falls over.

“Seems like a dog to me,” Jerry whispers to Georgie.

“A dog who mastered fire magic in her free time,” they reply, “Looks can be deceiving.”

“It’s not really a time problem—“ Michael begins.

“Wait, whenever we please?” Lucy says.

“Of course,” the prince says as he wipes drool from his tunic. “Why? Do you wish to remain? With this foul beast?”

Zoe holds her nose at him.

Lucy laughs at them both and her eyes catch Nath’s, who smirks like a child from his spot on the ground.

“I thought Zoe could take us for a ride?”

“Sure, but there’s only room for two,” Nath says.

Lucy looks at her friends. “Don’t wait for me, I’ll catch up.”

Jerry shakes his head and laughs. “Let’s hit the tavern! Look out ladies, I got a lute! The adventure's just begun!”


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