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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
Prompt: Hawklad’s “Thaw”

898 words

When I can’t sleep, I go outside and make snow angels.

I swish my arms in the dark while the sky is pale and black and waiting. Everything’s quiet, and I feel like I could dig a hole to China if the night would go on forever, and fill it in behind me if the snow would keep on snowing. It tickles my face, and I laugh, quiet like the snow is, so I won’t wake Uncle Hoke up.

When I told Uncle Hoke what I was reading about at the library, he started naming all the food in our fridge. The cheese was Cheryl, the eggs were Johnny and Ellen, the cans of beer were Bill and Bob and Benjamin. When he went out on what he called his business trips, I put some of his stuff in the fridge. His watch was Walter. His shoes were Henry and Holly and they were in love. His thick black gun I picked up by the barrel and I laid it down in the lettuce crisper like a baby in a crib, and I named it Frank.

Me and Uncle Hoke live at the end of town in a place where they dumped all the extra road cement after they stopped making the roads. There’s a field of tall grass behind us and a big woods to the right of us, which Uncle Hoke is scared of, even though he doesn’t let me know it.

There’s a padlock and a chain hanging from our trailer door and a sign, CONDEMNED BY THE COUNTY in big red letters, that Uncle Hoke stole from I don’t know where. I asked him about it, and he said when people see it, they’ll think someone else will get us so they don’t have to.

My mama walked into the woods and didn’t come out, back when I was still learning to walk. Uncle Hoke said she had on her long white nightshirt. He says he’ll beat my rear end if he ever sees me outside in less than three layers.

I had this Barbie doll with a wedding dress and one eye missing that I buried in a snowpile next to the woods line, after I ripped off the bottom half of the dress. I find things I like, like seashells and Tootsie Rolls, and I bury them in the snow to see if they’ll still be there when the snow melts. They almost always are.

“I know you’re in there,” says the voice from outside.

Me and Hoke are curled up against the wall, quiet like the snow, facing the fridge. I’m in Hoke’s lap, and so is Frank.

“Come out, come out, come out,” the man sings, tapping against the trailer wall with his fists.

Uncle Hoke stands up, dumping me on the floor.

“What--” I say, and he opens the fridge door, yanks all the shelves out. Cheryl and Johnny and Bill and Bob all go flying. Hoke grabs me and stuffs me in the fridge and I yell and the fridge swallows my yell up. I’m crying, but nobody can see me, so it doesn’t count.

Then I hear the shot, and every other noise inside my head dies.

...through extreme temperatures. Cryonicists argue that the brain can survive the freezing process without any significant damage, provided that--

“Hey, you! Kid! Who are you?”

I stand with the book in my hand, looking at the girl at the other end of the library aisle. She’s got perfectly curled hair, a bright pink coat with no rips or holes in it. Sneakers with no scuffs and pictures on the sides of Barbie with both eyes , inside little pink hearts.

“I’m going to tell somebody that you’re here again,” she says, not looking at me, and walks away.

I stick the book under my shirt and walk out. I’m going to bring it back, those are the rules.

“It’s just for a little bit,” Uncle Hoke says.

I stare at the truck, rust creeping on the sides. The chain that used to be on the door is now wrapped around the trailer hitch.

“Just a little while,” Uncle Hoke says. “Too many people looking for us now.”

I stare out towards the woods.

Twenty-eight different things buried out in the snow. Twenty-nine, if you count mama.

I nod at Uncle Hoke, and he heads around to the other side of the trailer, and I wait, and I wait, and then I run as fast as my legs will carry me towards the woods.

I hear him shout, and I know I’m not wearing my coat, but he can’t beat my rear end if he can’t catch me.

I dig my way past hanging branches and pine needles and I sit down with my back against the largest tree I ever saw and I sit and I wait again.

I breathe out.

The sun is fading, and I hear Uncle Hoke coming after me. He shouts my name. He sounds scared. I always knew he was scared of the forest.

I rub my hands together but I’m not worried. There’s less snow on the ground than there used to be, but there’s enough to bury me, bury me deep until the spring comes, when all the snow will melt and everything will come back again, including me, and it’ll be like nothing changed at all.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
Electronic Tigers
1048 words

It was 10:38 PM and Charlie had just caught Avery sneaking out of his bed--for the fifth time after she’d tucked him in--to play Candy Crush on the iPad. Their mother was working the overnight shift at the hospital, and there was no way Avery was going to miss a third day in a row on her watch.

Charlie would make sure of it.

“The electronic tigers come and they curl up on your tablet screen when you’re not playing it,” said Charlie, sitting on the end of her little brother’s bed, her hand spiderwalking across the quilt towards Avery’s leg. “They need sleep. If you get out of bed and play your little games while they’re trying to sleep, they get angry. You know how Mom gets really mad when you wake her up on Saturday mornings?”

Avery nodded, his blanket pulled up to his chin.

“You know how Mom doesn’t have super-sharp claws that shoot lightning and giant metal teeth that spin around like power drills?”

Avery nodded again, pulling the blanket up to his nose.

“Imagine if she did.”

The blanket was now over Avery’s head, and Charlie could hear his panicked breaths. She perched her hand on his tiny chest, all five fingers splayed out, balancing on her long fingernails. She slowly stood up from the bed, and walked over to the door. “Sleep tight, Ave,” she said as the door swung closed. And then there was no light or noise in the room at all, save for the nightlight in the corner, and the glowing green dot on the side of Avery’s iPad, and the noise of Avery’s soft breathing, growing quieter and quieter until he fell asleep.

Then silence.

Then the sounds of soft padding feet, accompanied by sparks flaring to life with every step.

“I’m going to kick her rear end,” said Syrinn, gliding along the hardwood floor, her tail brushing against the frame of Avery’s bed and making a sound like crinkling aluminum foil. “I have a condition. My teeth are normal-sized and they do not spin around, they just swivel because of the dental implants. I’d like to see what her chompers look like--”

“He’s going to hear you,” said Vinix, following behind. “This is the only time we get any chance to rest, and you’re going to spend it obsessing over orthodontia?”

“I’m just saying, if she wants to find out exactly what I can do with my teeth…” Syrinn let the thought trail off into nothingness. She padded over to the plugged-in tablet, the underside of her coat sizzling with electricity, dangling frayed wires that burned with orange energy.

“Cyber-toothed tiger,” Vinix muttered under his breath.


“I didn’t say anything.”

“Do you mind?” said the nightlight. “I’m trying to concentrate.”

“We weren’t talking to you,” said Syrinn, tilting her head back. “What do you need to concentrate on, anyway?”

“I’m concentrating on not unplugging myself because I have to listen to you idiots and your inane conversations,” said the nightlight. “All the interaction I have every single day is watching the loving indoor kid sit in his corner and play games on the tablet until his shitbag sister comes in and tortures him. And then I have to listen to you scaredy-cats talk real big about eating them both and then back out. Every single time--”

“I could totally eat them if I wanted to,” said Syrinn.

“Sure you could.”

The handheld game under the dresser yawned, then sneezed, a thin layer of dust coating its dormant screen. “At least you still have a gig.”

“Yeah, until the little fucker realizes there’s no monsters under his bed,” the nightlight shot back. “Then I’m lying in the dumpster next to that prolapsed robot rear end in a top hat his parents tried to pass off as a toy five years ago.”

“Hey!” said a muffled voice from Avery’s toybox.

“Shut up, Slinky,” said the nightlight. “The adults are talking.”

“You think it’s been fun lying here for who knows how long?” said the handheld game. “I wish one of them would go to sleep on me instead, at least it would be something different.”

“No thanks,” said Vinix. “Batteries creep me out.”

“Same,” said Syrinn. “Why would I go back to a twin bed, anyway? Phones suck. You get maybe an hour of sleep and that’s it.”

“Yeah, because you’re used to the World’s Fastest Texter down the hall,” said the nightlight. “You should’ve eaten her while she was having late-night conversations with her dumb boyfriend. Snoozing on Black Mirror over there made you soft.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, did you say something?,” said the iPad. “I wasn’t paying attention, I was too busy winning.”

“Shut your iHole,” said the nightlight.

There was silence, again. Vinix used his hind leg to scratch his ear, electricity arcing from his claws.

“Why don’t you go eat her right now?” said the nightlight. “Then me and the kid can move into her room.”

“Maybe I will,” said Syrinn.

“Do it.”

“I’m going to.”

“Go ahead.”

“I will.”

“I’m waiting.”

“Fine,” said Syrinn, padding towards the door and nudging it open with her head, her tail whipping from side to side, showering orange sparks.

Vinix listened to her walk down the hall towards Charlie’s room. “She wouldn’t,” he said.

“She better,” the nightlight said, staring at the open door.

“Nah,” said Vinix. “Eating before bed gives you weird dreams.”

“What do you guys even dream about?” said the nightlight.

“Electric sheep,” said Vinix. “They taste delicious.”

A high-pitched yowl echoed down the hall, followed by the sound of scampering.

Syrinn burst through the door, her fur crackling and standing on end. “I’m not going near that thing again.”

The nightlight cackled. “You’re scared of a bed? I thought you liked beds.”

“A waterbed?” said Syrinn, shuddering. “I hate water.”

“Me too,” said Vinix, a scared look on his face.

“Same here,” said the handheld game.

“Yikes,” said the iPad.

The nightlight tsk-tsked. “You guys.”

“Fine, then,” said Syrinn, “you go in there.”

“Maybe later.”

“Yeah, sure.

“I will!”

“Will you?”

“I totally will.”


“As soon as my condition clears up.”

“What condition?”

“I’m stuck to the wall, dingus.”

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

crabrock posted:

in, flash, and :toxx:

for my toxx i'm giving somebody this loving terrible toy, which is something grandmas give you because they think it's a gameboy but the gameplay sucks and it hurts your fingers and gently caress i hated these things:

I'm giving it to IronicTwist because he and these games have a lot in common, namely being the worst.

Making another post to include the flash rule.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
in, with Blue Atoms

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
E: nvm

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 05:45 on May 1, 2019

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
Week 351 Redemption, flash rule is Blue Atoms:

Powder Blue
1040 words

I walk through the world I’ve created with my shoulders back, my chest out, and my chin high, so I never have to see the parts of me that are still human.

gently caress the world. gently caress everyone in it except for me. I’ve hidden myself away and I feel like every breath I take is shared by someone else I still haven’t managed to shut out.

I’m floating in a void filled with blue dust. The dust swirls around me as I stand, sit, walk, lie down and look at where the sky used to be. My eyes dart from point to point, darting away every time the dust starts to coalesce into something recognizable--a park bench, a tree branch, an arm, a mouth.

This is how everything ended. Everyone got the big red button at the same time, everyone received the ability to play God with their minds, to make the world in their own image. I stepped out of my apartment complex and watched the windows across the street erupt with waterfalls of hellfire and melted mozzarella cheese, and I shut my eyes and did this.


The voice in my brain belongs to Cat. It gave me this world, this newfound shelter. Gave me a world with endless space and no mirrors and no other voices, just the one inside my head. Cat is my best and only friend. Cat curls up inside my head and tells me where to go and what to do. I would never betray Cat. I lie down on my stomach and fold my arms behind my back, in this world of blue dust and smoke and soft edges where no one can ever hurt me ever again and I dream of a day where I will exhale the sky blue powder, breathe it in breathe it out until it becomes me and I become it.


“You waiting for somebody?”

There’s someone in the distance, and I reflexively look in their direction, and I see her.

Aria’s looking at me through about six layers of blue dust. Her arms are writhing candycane-striped ferrets, snapping and biting holes in the clouds. She waves them, and they become forking tree branches made out of safety scissors. Waves them again, and they become waving inflatable tube men made of stone.


“Leave me alone,” I say, not looking at her.

She blinks, and turns into a panther. “I heard you talking to someone named Cat,” she says, yellow eyes staring at the side of my head.

“I wasn’t talking to you.”

“I’m the only other person here,” she says, and when I look back at her, she’s a human again. “All the things you could do, all the places you could go, and you choose...this?”

“It’s my choice.”

“If you could choose again, what would you choose?”

“Exactly this.”


“Why do you care? I don’t have to explain anything to you. Go back out there and get stepped on by Optimus Prime or some poo poo.”

She looks away. I look away. I’m sitting in a world made of blue dust separated into fine enough particles that if I packed them all together wouldn’t be enough to cover the mole on my face, and she’s breathing the particles in, and I hate it. “I said go away,” I say into the dust.

“Who are you?” she says, still not looking at me. Her arms are now vines, curling around her legs, sprouting deep purple flowers that quickly become caked with dust.

“Who cares?”

“I care.”

“You shouldn’t.”


“Because I don’t want you to.”

“Why not?”

“What do you want from me?” I yell, looking up at where Aria’s standing. “You did this. You all did this. You think I had any faith? Any faith at all that it wouldn’t turn out this way? That people wouldn’t disappoint me over and over again? That they wouldn’t choose the worst possible option again and again and again?”


The sounds of my voice quickly fade, muffled by the dust.

I shut my eyes, and suddenly she’s standing there next to me, offering her hand.

I look up at her. It’s just a hand, and she’s just a person.

“Stand up,” she says.

“I don’t have to listen to you,” I say. “I don’t have to do anything at all. I can sit here until everything swallows me up.”

“So go ahead,” says Aria. “I’ll watch.”

I shut my eyes, take a few deep breaths. I swallow hard, open my eyes again.

She’s still there.

It’s just a hand, and she’s just a person.

I raise my hand up from my side. Slowly. Slowly.


She grabs me by the wrist.


Her feet become wheels.

Turbines sprout from her back.

Rocketfire bursts from her shoulder blade.

I scream, and then the scream is already a solid mile behind me as we’re both flying, flying through the light blue void, dust in my eyes and my hair and my mouth and I’m screaming as my wrist is flopping from side to side, kicking at her, clawing at her, biting her, trying to get her to stop, trying to get her to stop.

Finally she stops.

“poo poo,” Aria says as I flop down onto my back, teeth gritted, cradling my wrist. “I really thought that would work.”

“gently caress you,” I breathe, rolling onto my side. “gently caress you in hell.”

“I would leave if I could,” she says, looking off into the distance again.

“What?” I say, staring up at her.

“I chose this. I didn’t know that it would be what it was, just this endless blue nothing, but I wanted someplace where I could hide. Now I just want to leave.”

“So leave,” I say, coughing, holding a hand to my throat. “I never want to see you again.”

I shut my eyes and hear her footsteps walk away. Seconds turn into minutes, then hours.


I don’t know how to end this.

There’s never an end to anything.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

I don’t know if I’ll ever find out.

I hear her footsteps again.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
in, with Morii.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
Shed Red Thread
1030 words
Prompt: Morii: The desire to capture a fleeting experience

Each strand of Relic’s hair glistened red with the blood of someone she used to know.

She sat in the bar that she couldn’t remember the name of, in a town she couldn’t remember the name of, drinking an electric blue drink she couldn’t remember the name of but which was probably called something like “Rum Dumpster” to appease all the trashy college kids that came in on Friday nights like this.

Relic didn’t care about names. Names weren’t important. That feeling, that rush of someone else’s last breath entering your lungs, that was important.

She twisted a lock of her hair around her finger and watched the girl sitting at the other end of the bar. The girl wore tight jeans and a black fleece pullover with a row of buttons pinned in a row up the right side, displaying cartoon hands twisted in different gestures, ranging from hopeful to obscene.

Relic saw a red teardrop trickle slowly down the girl’s cheek. Only Relic saw it, felt it, knew it was there.

This was the seam. This was her specialty--taking things apart.

It was her hobby as a child, taking things apart--toys, electronics, kitchen appliances, stray animals. Her parents were always upset with her because she never figured out how to put a thing back together after she’d taken it apart.

That hadn’t changed.

Relic took a sip of her drink, then ran her fingers through her hair again. Felt the weight of countless lives, all bundled together: the girl who’d run over her foot with her scooter, the boy who talked about his romantic conquests before her, the woman who’d stared back at her on the subway train. Relic saw them in her mind as her fingers brushed against the individual strands of hair. It was like shuffling a stack of photographs, all their faces flitting past her one after the other after the other. After a certain point, they all melted into each other, amalgamated, looked like the same person saying different things.

When they were begging for their lives, they all sounded roughly the same, though.

Relic had an impulse to go up to the girl at the end of the girl at the end of the bar and ask for a cigarette. It was a game she played: she would sneak a look at the number of cigarettes left in her pack, and then that would be how much time Relic had. If there was one cigarette left, Relic would follow them outside, pretend to listen to what they had to say as they smoked, and then reach up towards their face while they were still talking, brush the red teardrop away from their cheek, twist it around her fingertip. Then pull. Hard. Listen to them realize--

Relic’s fingers stumbled into the empty patch on her scalp, bigger than it had been a week ago.

The sound in her head was the snipping of red-hot piano wires.

She jerked her hand away, gulped down the rest of her drink.

There was less and less time to waste, now.

Relic pushed her stool back, stood up. Made her way to the other end of the bar, not too eager, not too indifferent.

“Do you have a cigarette?” she asked the girl in the buttoned jacket.

The girl stared up at her, smirked, then looked away. “I don’t smoke,” she said.

“I don’t either,” said Relic. “I just collect other people’s cigarettes.”

The girl laughed. “You’re a monster.”

Relic smiled. “I get that a lot.” She sat down next to the girl. “I’m Rell.”

“I’m Sarah,” said the girl.

Relic could smell the blood trickling down the front of Sarah’s face. Her hand rose up in front of her, on instinct, and then she grabbed the edge of the bar instead.

“Whoa, you ok?” said Sarah.

“I’m fine,” said Relic, touching the bald spot on the side of her head. No need to get desperate, now. No need to play games, tonight. This was work, not a game. She had all night. “I’m just...more drunk than I thought I was, I guess.”

That was good. Play dumb. Play innocent. Play vulnerable.

“Well, let’s see if I can catch up to you,” said Sarah. She waved at the bartender. “Two Jack and Cokes, please.”

She remembered them all.
All the faces were flitting in front of her eyes again, but they were wrong.
Too bright.
Too bloody.
They were all smiling, wide, with blood dripping from their mouths.

Relic opened her eyes.

The air smelled like Lysol and leather.

“You alright, lady?” came a gruff male voice from the front of the car.

She was in a car?

“Where am I?” said Relic.

“Your friend found your address in your wallet,” said the driver of the car. “She paid for me to give you a Lyft home.”

That wasn’t her wallet. The person who it belonged to--their parents were still waiting for them to come home for spring break.

Relic slammed her head against the car headrest. She’d hosed this up, royally. She could still imagine the taste of Sarah’s blood on her tongue, and her insides screeched in frustration. Stupid. Stupid. St--something.

Something was different.

She brought her hand up to the side of her head, ran her fingers through her hair. Pinched a strand through her thumb and forefinger.

It was bright white.

She held it up to her face, closed her eyes and remembered.

They were onstage, sharing a mic, singing their lungs out.

My loneliness, is killing me
I must confess, I still believe (Still believe)
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a siiiiiiiiiign

“You ok, lady?” said the Lyft driver. “You need a bottle of water?”

“I’m fine,” said Relic. She looked up at the rearview mirror, could clearly see his face. Watched the trickle of red divide the mirror in two. “I just need to eat something.”

She looked away from the mirror.

A rush of nausea overcame her, and Relic lurched forward, held her head in her hands, and waited for the moment to pass, waited for everything to feel normal again.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
Paper Hearts
808 words (65 non-simple)

There’s a pile of wet paper snow in the street, and part of me wants to walk out into the rain after it.

Neva’s asleep, and I’m listening to the rain fall through the screen door, drowning out the noise of the paper mill on the hill, the low noise of endless work.

See, because of the paper mill--in our town, we don’t have Wanted posters, we have Wanting posters.

There’s one on the side of Mrs. Veckel’s house on the corner, real easy to miss if you want to. It’s the size of a postage stamp and it’s stuck in the middle of the oh in the gold number three-oh-seven on the side of her door and if you have tiny eyes you can see that it reads: Wanting: A Friend with an empty square in the middle where the picture should be, save for a little brown smudge.

There’s no house without a poster. Mr. McKechney has one hanging from his clothesline, saying Wanting: A Cure. Susan Dennis has one covering the windshield of her car, spiderwebs hanging off the side mirrors. Wanting: A Summer Love. I see her at the bus stop every day, riding to work, her little paper dog on a leash behind her, and every time he barks it sounds something being torn in half.

Across town on the hill, the paper mill runs, day and night, and people go in and out.

Everyone who works at the paper mill gets a Wanting poster as a little every-now-and-then gift. How big the poster is decides what you get out of it. Miss Parallel, she thought she’d made it when she got the poster bigger than her house with Wanted: A Man written on it. The whole town was there to watch when the brown smudge finally became a face, a pair of shoulders, hands reaching out and parting the front of the poster and we all saw him, twenty feet tall, bare and muscular with eyes that could cradle an aching soul. And he took one step and collapsed into a pile of ribbons.

We found her later that night after the rain fell, curled up in the pile of wet white mush, smiling from ear to ear.

Yet I know that once Mrs. Veckel’s five-inch tall friend climbs out of her little poster, they’ll live longer than her. Like the kind of paper that makes a blank fired from a gun. She’ll talk to him and play cards with him and he’ll lift the playing cards up over his head and throw them onto the pile, and up on the hill the paper mill will go rhum-rhum-rhum into the darkness, and she’ll lock the door to keep him from walking out into the rain.

But they’ll want each other, completely.

I watch the rain fall some more, watch it wash away the white pile in the road.

The sound of the rain and the sound of the paper being rolled and mashed and formed, they’re both at war inside my head.

My hand tightens on the door knob.


I turn around.

Neva’s there, at the doorway. “Are you ok?” She’s waiting for me to say something.

“I’m fine,” I say.

She knows I’m lying. She steps into the moonlight, shining through the window.

Her skin is whiter than the moon. Whiter than any skin is supposed to be.

“Crane?” she says to me, fear in her voice.

I stare at her and I wonder why. Why people can’t be good enough. Why people can want someone so much, for so long, with everything within themselves, and when they finally find them, it’s still not enough. It never is.

The sound of the mill is still in my head, and it’s pulling me back, towards the door.

“Crane,” she says.

I don’t know what to say any more. All I want to do is leave.

But she’s still waiting there, waiting for me to answer her.

I speak into the darkness.

“How could they leave?” I say. “How could they leave us behind?”

“Come here,” she says.

I shut my eyes.

I let go of the door handle.

I step into the moonlight.

My skin is whiter than the moon, whiter than any skin is supposed to be.

White as a blank sheet of paper.

Wanted: To Have and to Hold.

Wanted: The Perfect Man.

Wanted: The Perfect Woman.

Wanted: The Perfect Love.

We embrace, gently.

“I want you,” she says.

I don’t say anything, just lay my head against her shoulder and listen to the rain fall and listen to the thump of her paper heart until I can no longer hear the noise of the mill, and then I whisper “I want you too,” into the darkness, just loud enough for her to hear.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
Thank you for the crit, Kai.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
905 words

The cards are falling apart, so we’re drinking again.

“I want something that’s real. I want something that I can put my hands on.”

It’s hard to replace playing cards. You need every single card to feel like the other one to make it a fair game. You need the nine of clubs, to feel like the six of diamonds, to feel like the queen of hearts, to feel like the king of spades. It’s hard to replace playing cards. It’s even harder to replace liquor in this town, but that’s where we’re at, tonight.

“I’ve never seen gold. I’ve heard you tell about it, Sam. I don’t know what gold looks like, feels like, smells like. I’ve seen pictures of it, and heard you tell about it, and I go to sleep every night, and it’s like going to sleep with ice in my mouth.”

It’s a year until the twentieth century, and people are leaving Circle City, which is good news for us. Those that get discouraged first, encourage the rest.

“It doesn’t last, Sam. I can’t sleep anymore.”

I’m listening to Matthew talk, and not listening, and still trying to listen through the cloud of whiskey haloing my head. I know everything’s going to be okay. He knows that everything’s going to be okay. I’m going to lean over, and kiss him, and everything will be fine. But first I have to grip the arm of the chair a little harder, just to make sure I don’t fall off.

“I didn’t want to come here with you. You told me that we’d find our future up here, and you still go out into the snow every day, looking for it. Looking for our future.”

Matthew’s already stopped drinking with me, and that isn’t fair. It’s been almost three years in Alaska, and that’s worth celebrating. I’m going to pour him a drink, in just a second. When everything feels right again.

“And sometimes I think--this is--I can’t believe I’m--sometimes I wonder what if I followed you out there, and then maybe you turned right, or turned left, and I just kept walking straight? Just kept walking off into the snow, and kept walking, while you kept digging, and I’d walk right off the edge of the world, and we’d see who found the future first.”

He’s talking about the future, and I like that. I think he sees what I see, that it’s just a matter of time, that Alaska is miles wide and it only takes one day, one day of being in the right place in the right time, and then I could give him everything he ever wanted, everything he never had, and then we could move back and be happy together, for the rest of our lives.

“Like Columbus. Remember Columbus? Sailed the ocean blue? Sailed right off the edge of the world and into a new one? I want those dreams again. I want to dream about that.”

And we could burn this town down, burn Circle City and the same twenty faces we see every day and the same trees and the same road and the same signs and fenceposts, burn it all down to the ground and spit on the ashes if we wanted to, just because we could, because no one else could say a damned thing to either of us anymore, because we’d be rich and in love and nothing and nobody could stop us from being either.

“You can’t even hear me right now, Sam.”

Matthew’s not looking at me. I want him to look at me, but I just see the floor in front of me, and the floor is spinning around, and I need him to be there. I need to look in his eyes.

“If I told you that I was going to disappear tonight, if I told you I was going to walk to the very edge of town and step over the place where the dirt meets the snow and fall right off the edge of the world and you would never see me again, what would you say?”

Matthew’s saying something but he’s not looking at me and I can’t see him and I need him to be there. I need everything to be perfect. I need all the cards to stay in the deck, because that’s the only way we can keep everything together, because cards are hard to replace and liquor is harder and love is the hardest.

“Say something, Sam.”

Love is the hardest thing to replace.

“Say something.”

It’s harder to find than gold, and we need to have both. We need to have both.

“I’m going to go for a walk, Sam.”

He’s stopped talking, and I want to tell him that everything’s going to be fine, but I can’t, because my head hurts. I will in just a second. Just a second.

The cloud of whiskey is swirling around my head, and my eyes are shut tight and I grab onto the sides of my chair and my stomach lurches. I put my head between my knees, and the world is upside down, and I think I see Columbus. I want to. To ask him how. How he knew. He knew how. Everything. Everything was going to be fine.

The world is upside down and spinning.

“Matthew,” I call, and I wait. I wait for him to answer me back.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
in, :toxx:

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
Dead Ernest
808 words
Prompt: Owner of faces/Nedjefet/Impatience

The sound of his wriggling keeps me up at night, in the next nostril over.

I can’t stand that guy. Yesterday, I woke up and looked outside and saw the words I LARVAE YOU LONG TIME chewed into the ground outside, where he knew I would see it. I ate up his dumb words and I would’ve spit them out if I wasn’t so hungry. Right now, I’m waiting and listening to him chew up the rest of his home and I don’t want to look outside again and see I MAG-GOT A CRUSH ON YOU or whatever.

I can hear pustules of rotting flesh popping, veins of soured blood corrupted and pouring out over his body as he rolls around in it, and all I can think is how hard it would be to sell this place to someone else. He’s ruining the re-sale value.

Nah, that’s a bit of a joke. It’s not like this place accumulates value over time. It only accumulates stench.

This place stinks, doesn’t it?

Also, it smells.

That’s another joke, ha ha ha. I don’t have a sense of smell, but this guy used to, whoever he was.

Still, I’m hoping to raise my kids here some day, and it makes me angry that I have the warmest, moistest place I can find, safe from everybody, and right next door, the next nostril over, is this guy, who doesn’t care about any of that, only cares about burrowing and eating and destroying the foundation of this place.

It’s not much, but it’s mine, and that’s what matters. I can see out into the sky from where I am, see the stars shine at night, see them glimmer over the flat, squirming pools where the guys’ eyes used to be. I hear the sounds of things burrowing, chirping, crunching, sputtering. Do any of them think about the future? About their kids? Am I the only one who has these thoughts?

I know the guy next door doesn’t think like this. He’s too busy thinking about all the free food in his face. He never wonders about where it came from.

I have a collection of nose hairs, propped up against the nasal wall in the corner, sheltering the empty egg sac that I came from. When the moonlight hits it right, it looks like it belongs up in the night sky. I don’t know why I keep it around. I don’t know why I talk to it like I’m talking to it right now. Maybe because it’s the only thing that belongs to me. These nose hairs, they never belonged to me, and I’m going to have to leave them behind at some point. Just like this house. Just like this entire world.

But the egg sac…

Does that guy ever think like this?

I nudge it around sometimes when I have these thoughts, when I want to chew on the walls. Sometimes I sneak into the other guys nostril when he’s not around and eat his walls, because I don’t want to tear mine down. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t talk to me. Maybe he’s too busy up at the eye holes, with forty of the other maggots, all squirming and flopping over each other, trying to fill their round bellies up until they’re fat and waddling, and the only reason they don’t eat each other is they don’t like the taste.

I only went up there once, just enough time to watch and think about if I should dive in or not, when I saw an orange-tufted mouth descend from the sky and take a yawning bite out of that big wriggling lump of maggots, snuffling around in the empty eye-hole. The mouth spit them back out, but I could still see the yellow insides of some of them, dripping down the side of the mouth where they popped open and died.

I didn’t even hear them scream.

I stay in here more often now.

Does the guy next door ever think about these things?

I think about growing wings. I think about flying away, surveying the landscape for places to hide my eggs. Soft, warm places for offspring to grow, and feed, and hopefully dream. Dream about flying away and laying eggs of their own, and giving them a chance to dream.

I dream about stars toppling over from the sky, throwing other stars back up into the air before they fall to earth.

That’s all it is, isn’t it? Just trying to find a soft place to land. I’m in this world where nothing is mine and everything is dying, and I just want a soft place to land when I start to fly.

Does the guy--no, probably not.

Probably not.

I should go talk to him.

Maybe I’ll just sit here and listen some more.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
in, 7 for character, 11 for song, and 18 for RFT.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
The Dinner Party with the Wealthy and Eccentric Host
976 words
Flash rules: Central character is Wealthy(+50 words), Song is “I Can’t Decide” by the Scissor Sisters(+87 words), RFT is Everyone Dies(+63 words)

“That was a wonderful meal, if I do say so myself,” said Oswald to his five dinner guests, engaged in conversation with each other. “In terms of a last meal for us, I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Oswald leaned back in his chair. Dace, Cayden, Fallyn, Jandrel, and Harmonica were still talking to each other.

“I repeat,” repeated Oswald. “That was a wonderful meal, and in terms of a last meal--” He coughed, pulled out a silk handkerchief from his breast pocket, and spat into it. “In terms of a last meal…” He leaned forward, raised his eyebrows.

The other five party guests continued their conversations.

“Fiddlesticks--I POISONED YOU ALL,” shouted Oswald.

The other five party guests abruptly halted their conversations.

“Yes,” said Oswald, smirking, feeling all of their eyes on him. He pulled a vial full of green liquid out of his breast pocket, inadvertently pulling the silk handkerchief with the loogie in it out of his breast pocket as well, causing it to flutter down onto the table. “This is the antidote. Let me explain.”

No one spoke.

“Your dinners were all laced. You all have ten minutes to live. This--” --Oswald held up the vial-- “is your only chance of survival.”

“You have all lived--imperfect lives. Putting it mildly. Embezzlers--”

Oswald looked at Dace.


He turned to look at Fallyn.


He looked in Jandrel’s direction.


He pointed a finger at Harmonica.

“--and influencers.”

Cayden sat up straighter in his seat.

“You have all sinned. And now you will try to convince me, your unlikely friend, why you should live.” Oswald folded his hands together. “So, who would like to go first?”

There was silence.

The five dinner guests looked at each other, and then all burst into uproarious laughter.

“You--” sputtered Dace.

“Are you seriously--” howled Jandrel.

“--kidding me right now?” cackled Cayden.

“I can’t even--” gasped Fallyn.

“--he really did it!” yelled Harmonica.

Oswald paled. “What?”

“Look--look under the table,” said Cayden, before dissolving into another fit of laughter.

Oswald lifted the edge of the tablecloth and saw five mounds of chicken cordon bleu staining the shag carpet.

“Come on,” said Cayden. “You get invited to a dinner party to see your friend that you haven’t seen in ten years, who’s now a billionaire from inheriting his dad’s fortune, sitting in his mansion estate, welcoming all his other friends who he hasn’t seen in ten years--and you think you’re not gonna get poisoned?”

“That is Poison O’Clock, my dude,” said Jandrel.

“Let’s get him,” said Harmonica.

Oswald leapt up from his chair, but Harmonica was already there to headlock him. Dace administered a violent noogie while Cayden forced a lump of poisoned chicken down his throat.

Within ten minutes, Oswald was dead.

“So now what?” said Dace.

“Here,” said Harmonica, presenting a bottle of scotch. “I broke open the liquor cabinet. As long as we’re not dead, let’s get drunk. You want to do the honors, Cayden?”

“Sure,” said Cayden, pouring himself a glass. “A toast: to embezzlers, adulterers, philanderers, drunkards, and easily-affordable skin-care options!”

They all cheered as Cayden drank.

Harmonica poured himself a glass, then handed the bottle to Fallyn.

Before he could take a sip, Fallyn knocked the glass from his hand.

“What the gently caress--” said Harmonica.


They all turned and saw Cayden sprawled out on the floor, dead.

“Well,” said Dace.

“Yep,” said Fallyn, peeling the label off the bottle of scotch and turning it over. “Just noticed this.”

They all crowded around to read the back of the label.

As a failsafe measure, I have poisoned this bottle of scotch to thwart any celebrations after my untimely death.

“Oldest trick in the book,” muttered Jandrel.

“Shhh,” said Fallyn. “There’s more.”

I have also poisoned other various edibles and non-edibles within my domicile, including one (1) of the scotch mints displayed in the crystal dish in the foyer. There is no luck, only preparation. --Oswald

“We all ate one of those, didn’t we?” said Harmonica.

Their eyes all slid over to the vial of green liquid on the table.

For the next two minutes, there was the opposite of silence.

Fallyn sat on the floor, bruised and battered, the vial empty beside her, licking her lips. “Finally,” she said. “I--”

Then she slumped over, dead.

“Huh?” said Harmonica.

“He poisoned everything else,” said Dace. “Why not the antidote?”

“Are the loving walls poisoned?” said Jandrel.

“Probably not,” said Harmonica. He walked over to the wallpaper and licked it, then turned back to Dace and Jandrel.

“See? Nothing to--”

The words died in his throat as he pitched forward, his large frame crashing through the glass dinner table.

Dace and Jandrel stood, unmoving.

“Finally,” said Dace.

“We did it,” said Jandrel. He turned and embraced Dace, locking lips with her in a long and sensual kiss. “We can have it all now,” he whispered in her ear.

“You said it,” said Dace. “We--wait--”

She pushed him away. “Wait--something’s--you motherFUCKER--

Dace lunged towards Jandrel, nails scraping through the empty air, and fell flat on her face, dead as dust.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say we,” said Jandrel. He reached into his mouth and wrenched out the fake silicone tongue covering his real tongue, the cyanide pellet in the tip already gone. “You can’t die and then enjoy the benefits of life insurance, dear.

Jandrel walked towards the front door. “Thanks, Oswald, it’s been fun working with you,” he called over his shoulder.

He put his hand on the doorknob, then turned towards the dish of scotch mints on the side table. He took one, popped it into his mouth, chewed, swallowed. Smiled to himself. “No luck, huh?” he called back over to the empty dining room. Without another word, he left.

Then there was only silence again.

Then more silence.

Then a thud.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
Yeah if someone wants to trade me a SA gift cert for the Pony Island code I'm open to that, also.

in, btw.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
I did not participate a lot this year due to a novel draft that was making serious anal inroads but I love you all.

ninja edit: sh can't handle this


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
Hope Tastes Like Peppermint
1272 words

“Breathe on it,” said Tommy. “Go ahead.”

Christina made a face. “Nuh-uh,” she said, “you do it.”

“It won’t work if I do it. You have to do it,” said Tommy. “That’s the way magic works. It’s personal.”

Christina rolled her eyes, then lowered her head towards the windowsill. Cold air blew in through the open window, shaking the frost-covered branches and making them chatter like loose teeth.

She paused, then breathed hot air onto the ice cube, fusing the salt to the string.

They waited a minute, their heads bowed.

Then Tommy picked up the string, the ice cube dangling from it like a cloudy diamond, and tied it around Christina’s neck. “There,” said Tommy. “Now you’re magic.”

Christina could feel the chill of the ice cube against her collarbone, mixing with the heat rising in her face.

They both sat still on Tommy’s bed, the open window beside them, waiting for the other one of them to say something.

The bedroom door swung open.

“Dad, I told you to knock!” said Tommy, lurching back from Christina.

“I did,” said Tommy’s dad, walking across the bedroom carpet. “There must have been icicles in your ears. I told you kids not to keep the window open this late. The whole house is cold as hell.” He reached past the two of them and shut the bedroom window.

“Aw, c’mon…” said Tommy. Christina was still sitting back, hoping Tommy’s dad didn’t notice the blood rushing to her face.

“No, you c’mon,” said Tommy’s dad. “When you pay the electric bill, you can open the window for as long as you want. There’s iced tea downstairs if you want something cold.” He shut the bedroom door behind him.

As soon as he was gone, Tommy opened the window again.

“So here’s what I’m saying,” said Tommy, lying back in the snow in his long-sleeved flannel shirt and jeans, making deformed snow angels on the hillside. “If you sleep naked in one of those ice hotels in Norway, do you wake up stuck to your bed?”

Christina laughed, and took another swig from the bottle of Rumple Minze. “I don’t know, you’re the one who wakes up stuck to your bed on the regular, aren’t you an expert?”

“gently caress off,” said Tommy. He threw a lumpy snowball five feet over her head. “I’m saying, I’m saying, if you pee in one of the ice toilets, doesn’t it just melt?”

Christina looked out at the forest line, empty tops of trees sticking up like the hem of a wicker dress. “I think they just cart a new ice toilet in every morning. They have a toilet sculptor.”

“Oh, yeah?” said Tommy.

“Yeah, how did you think your dad made you?”

“Oh for gently caress’s--” Tommy sent a few more chunks of snow in Christina’s direction. Christina laughed as they all missed, and then Tommy started laughing, too.

Their laughter died down, and then the night air was still and quiet.

“I’ll miss you,” said Tommy.

“I’ll miss you too,” said Christina. “I’ll be back in July.”

“I don’t want you to go at all.”

“Here,” said Christina, draining the rest of the Rumple Minze. She cocked her arm back, ready to throw the empty bottle. “If I can hit that tree over there, I won’t go. I’ll say gently caress university and stay right here."

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

“Alright, then throw it.”

“I will.”

“Throw it.”

“I’m going to.”

“Right now.”

“I will.”

It was an afternoon with no life in the sky.

“Tell me things I can hold onto,” said Tommy, sniffling. There was an empty box of tissues on the bed. “Tell me facts.”

They were sitting on the bare mattress in Tommy’s bedroom, her and Tommy, just like fifteen years ago, and as of yesterday, there was no Tommy’s dad to open the door and break them apart and close the window. The sky was pure white, and the mattress was a worn and discolored white, and Tommy’s face was somewhere between the two.

Christina took a deep breath. “No two snowflakes are alike.”


“The freezing point of mercury is negative thirty eight degrees.”


“The capital of Greenland is Nuuk.”


“Your dad loved you.”


Tommy’s eyes were hard, like cloudy diamonds. Christina took another deep breath. “Your mother loves you.”


“There are many other people who love you.”


“I love you.”

“Cool.” Tommy was looking out the window now, at the cold, at winter, at the world lying dead. “Cool.”

Hey Tommy,

I know you’re not responding to your emails anymore, so I thought I’d send you this letter the old-fashioned way, ha-ha-ha. Maybe you can understand cursive better. But I’ll get right to the point, people are worried about you. I know that your dad’s death hit you really hard, and the election results coming right after that was something that hit all of us really hard. I understand. I just want to see you again. You don’t have to respond to this letter, but please let me know that you got it. Just something.

Love you,

One day in July, Christina knocked on the door to Tommy’s parents’ house, and the mail slot opened, just like that.

Christina jumped back.

“Hey,” said Tommy.

“Hi, sorry,” said Christina, gathering herself. “I just wasn’t expecting...hi.”


They looked at each other. It was over a hundred degrees outside, and there was no cold to counteract the heat Christina felt in her face. “Can I come in?”


“Oh.” Christina looked at the living room windows, which had thick fabric taped to them, blocking all light. “Well, can we talk?”


Christina bent down on one knee until she was at eye-level with the mail slot, gingerly smoothing out her skirt. “People are worried about you.”

“I know.”

Christina didn’t respond, just knelt, looking into Tommy’s eyes, the only part of Tommy she could see. Music wafted in through the mail slot: Gone away, is the bluebird, here to stay, is the new bird…

“Look, Tommy, I just wanted to say…” Christina stopped. Leaned in closer.

Tommy shrunk back from the mail slot, and she could feel it even stronger now...yes. It was a chill.

“Do you have the air conditioner on?” she said.

“Yeah,” said Tommy. “Twelve of them.”

“Oh,” said Christina. “Okay.”

More silence. She felt like the ice cube was tied around her neck again, sinking through her skin and into her throat.

“Listen, I…” She coughed, tried again. “I care about you, and I want you to know that. I don’t know how to get it through to you--” --she wiped at her forehead, sweat running down her face-- “--but I think you should know that.”


She looked away, tears forming in her eyes, and when she looked back, she saw a red-and-white striped finger, thin and long, pointing at her through the mail slot.

“Want a candy cane?” said Tommy.

drat it!” shouted Christina. She swiped at the candy cane, shattering it, sending shards of peppermint sugar scattered across the cement stoop. “God drat it! God drat you! I should have--”

She stopped.

Should have what?

The mail slot was closed shut again.


No response.

She got up, raking white bits of candy cane off her skirt. Turned around, walked down the front pathway.

Maybe she would try again another time. Once the weather got colder, maybe. Sure.

Christina clutched her purse closer to herself, and shivered, the sun shining bright and hot over her shoulders.

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