Thanks for the Mer-Crit, Antivehicular!
|# ¿ Jan 21, 2019 06:43|
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2023 10:44|
I'm in, and I'll take a flash too.
|# ¿ Jan 23, 2019 04:47|
In, with a for failing last time/to prevent failing this time. Not after another option, I'm just trying to berate myself into success.
|# ¿ Jan 29, 2019 19:54|
Suburban Gangster Family-Dysfunction Dramas!
Dreaming of a White Christmas
It was the most beautiful day of summer so far and the pohutukawa were in full bloom. A beat-up old Holden had just pulled down the gravel driveway of 47 Puriri Avenue. A fat tui sat on a pohutukawa branch, feathers shimmering in the sunlight as it sang. The warbling tune floated over to the deck that overlooked the garden, as if to announce the new arrival to the twitchy young man who had just stepped out of his house. The man walking delicately up the slightly rotting stairs raised a hand in greeting.
“Kia ora Zane, Merry Christmas! How’s it going?” he asked with a smile.
“Nah, gently caress off Jethro, I’m still not talking to you, you massive oval office.” Zane Astle was not pleased to see his big brother.
“Mum wants us all at the beach this year,” Jethro pleaded. “Now that Dad’s out, she just wants it all to be normal again.”
“Well you should have thought of that before you hosed off and let Aaron get done for possession,” Zane shot back. “He was holding for you, and you know it.”
“Get hosed! He was holding for you too - he always did whatever you asked, he basically worshipped you,” said Jethro. He took a deep breath, and tried to get a better grip on his rising temper. He raised his hands in a peace-making gesture. “Okay, sure. Whatever. Aaron was my fault. I’m sure Baz was too. Just make sure you’re there tomorrow, okay? For Mum.”
“Jeth…” Zane looked thoughtful, like he was deeply considering something. “Are you carrying? Can you hook me up?”
“No, I’m clean.” he lied.
“Then gently caress off!”
Jethro turned and stalked back to the Holden, slamming the door as he got in. The radio crackled to life as he pulled down the driveway, filling the car with the pleasing sounds of Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl. Jethro sighed heavily, wrenched the car into gear, and headed off to see the next person on his list.
“Oi, piss off Jethro, ya poo poo,” Saskia Astle was not pleased to see her big brother. She was hanging out washing when he arrived at her house, while her kids ran around the front lawn, shrieking and throwing buckets of water at each other. “Housing corp almost kicked me out last time you visited. The tenancy manager found a fuckin’ meth pipe on the lawn and called the cops.”
Jethro took a deep breath, and thought guiltily about the small ziploc bag in his glove compartment.
“Look, that was a bad time for me. I’m sorry. I just came to tell you that Dad’s out, and Mum says we’ve all got to go up to the beach again this year.”
“It was a bad time for you? I almost lost my home, Jethro. It’s bad enough Dad went down for it, you can’t just come around here every time you’re off your face. Not around my kids.”
“I’m clean now, Sas. I promise.”
Saskia shrugged. “If you say so. I don’t want the kids around Dad, though. Tell Mum Merry Christmas from me, though.”
“But -” Jethro started to reply, but Saskia cut him off.
“But nothing. I’m done, Jeth, I’m out. You should think about getting out too. Now piss off.”
The sun was setting as Jethro pulled onto the northern motorway. He shouldn’t have been surprised that apparently half of Auckland had decided to wait until 8.30 on Christmas Eve to leave town. On the radio, Kylie Minogue serenading Iggy Pop faded into the Beach Boys enthusiastically harmonizing about Saint Nick. Jethro ground his teeth in frustration - at the traffic, at the heat, and at his siblings. He thought about saying ‘gently caress it’ and just abandoning the whole thing, heading back home and spending Christmas on his own.
He glanced at the road sign. He was almost at an off-ramp, and traffic would be better going the other way. He daydreamed about it for a while - a peaceful Christmas, cold beer and no fights. He opened the glove compartment, made sure the little bag was still there. Maybe Sas was right, maybe it was time to get out of the family business and go straight.
He watched the off-ramp go by, as the traffic crawled past it. He couldn’t abandon his mum, not on Christmas. No matter what Saskia might say.
Jethro pulled up outside the bach just before midnight. There was still a light on in the kitchen. Then a light in the hall clicked on. Then on the deck. The door opened, and his mother stepped outside. He got out of his Holden. The air was oppressively warm and humid. He smiled, and enveloped his mother in a hug.
“Hi Jethro.” Her voice was muffled, her face pressed against his chest.
“He’s there all the time, ever since he got out. Says he has ‘business arrangements’ to se too,” she said, with a bitter laugh. Jethro’s watch beeped as the hour flipped over. “Come on, I’ll go make up your bed for you.”
“Merry Christmas, Mum.”
Jethro sat on the beach under the shade of a pohutukawa, the first beer of the day in his hand. Dad was still passed out, and Mum was in the kitchen preparing Christmas lunch. He didn’t have the heart to tell her that Zane wasn’t coming, that Saskia and the kids were staying away. The tui in the tree burbled happily.
Jethro sighed, stood up, and went to help his mum with the ham. He dropped the ziploc bag in the rubbish bin as he went past.
|# ¿ Feb 4, 2019 02:50|
Thanks for the Crit!
Also, In for the week.
|# ¿ Feb 5, 2019 03:34|
I'm in, with a from my cyberspace dome of shame. Flash rule too, please.
|# ¿ Feb 13, 2019 10:28|
Flash: Information Wants To Be Free
“Kenilworth-Arikawa technical assistance team, you’re speaking with Persephone, how may I support you today?”
Persephone Ng was on the 12th hour of her 14 hour shift, on her 19th consecutive workday, with no day off in sight. Persephone Ng, despite her cheery phone manner, was not happy. Persephone Ng wanted to go home to her shoebox apartment on the 1279th floor of the same building she worked in, so she could snatch maybe 6 hours of sleep before having to return to work the next day. She gazed over her work station, eyes glazed over, as she waited for the customer to begin complaining about whatever minor technical problem they were experiencing. Like every single other one of the thousands of people employed by K-A’s technical assistance team, Persephone was allowed only one piece of corporate-approved personalization on her desk. She had chosen a photo of her with her cousin Ariadne, taken the day Ariadne left earth behind. She stared enviously at Ariadne, and waited for the customer to speak. Persephone Ng, locked into a routine that was crushing her spirit, degrading her mind and destroying her body, was not expecting things to change any time soon.
“I need you to listen very carefully to me. If you don’t play along, we’re both going to die. Now, pretend I’ve just told you I’ve got a tech issue that you can help with.”
Persephone was silent for a moment, before letting instinct take over. “Okay, that sounds like something we can help with. I’ll need a little bit more information before I can help you though.”
“I knew you’d do the right thing. Don’t worry about being overheard by your supervisor, everything from my end should just sound like white noise on the recording.” The stranger’s voice was calm, androgynous, unidentifiable. Their accent was neutral, and had a strange lack of inflection on any of their words. Seph couldn’t tell if there was some kind of masking going on, or if they just sounded like that normally. “I need you to do something for me. You want to get offworld, right? That’s rhetorical, everyone does, don’t bother answering. I’ve got a one way ticket to Jupiter Station. If you do this for me, it’s yours.”
“Okay, I can work with that. Have you tried turning it off and then on again?”
“All I need you to do is to upload something when you go back to work tomorrow. Once your shift ends, come to apartment 1100-38. I’ll give you a pen drive, and further instructions. If I’m not there, check the back of the couch. You and I both know that K-A is up to their ears in illegal activity, and this is going to prove it. You won’t regret this. Now pretend that you’ve fixed my problem, and I’ll end the call.”
“I’m glad to hear it. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
The line went dead.
Seph sat there, silent for a moment. Was this all a prank? A loyalty test? If the voice had been lying, and the recording wasn’t scrambled, she’d be in a lot of trouble if she didn’t report it. She could be fired, or worse, demoted back to the complaints line. She had another couple of hours before she had to make a decision. She sighed, and accepted her next call.
Persephone stepped out of the elevator on the 1100th floor. On the twenty minute journey up from the K-A tech support office, she had reasoned to herself that it couldn’t hurt to go and look. It was probably just a prank, but the chance to get off world was tempting. She was still years away from even being able to enter the lottery for a chance to buy a ticket, let alone afford one if her name was drawn. She didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in a decrepit mega-spire, clinging to a dying planet.
The door to the apartment slid open. There was a corpse sprawled on the couch. Persephone had never seen a dead body before. Blood and hydraulic fluid splattered the back wall in a grisly pattern. It looked like a suicide. She thought that it probably wasn’t. She managed not to vomit. She knew she was probably already on camera, but didn’t want to leave any more evidence than was necessary. If she was lucky, it would take a few days, and by then she hoped to be gone.
There wasn’t much to the apartment. A couch, an uplink station. No photos on the walls, no favourite coffee mug on a desk, nothing that showed who this person might have been when they weren’t making cryptic phone calls or being murdered for their cause. Careful not to tread in the blood, she moved over to the couch by the wall and fished around behind the cushions. Her fingers closed around the pen drive. She really hoped that the promised instructions were on there too. She left, leaving the apartment as undisturbed as possible. She made it back to the elevator before vomiting.
If she went home, would she find a corporate death squad waiting to greet her? She didn’t want to risk it. Instead of going home, she rode the elevator up as far as it could take her. Up here on the top floors, law enforcement was less common and people would pay less attention to someone hunched over in a corner booth at an all-night diner.
In the grey hours of the early morning, she scurried out of the third diner of the night and booked some time at a net cafe. Furtively glancing around to make sure nobody had followed her in, she started to read the documents on the pen drive. If she was going to throw away everything she had (even if it wasn’t much), she should at least learn as much as she could beforehand.
There were two folders on the drive, entitled “Read This” and “Upload This” respectively. As the voice had promised, the first file contained instructions on what she had to do - how to break into secure parts of K-A’s systems, what needed to be loaded where, and what would happen when she did so. She didn’t understand all the data, but from what she could figure out, this would reveal all of Kenilworth-Arikawa’s dirty laundry to the world- embezzlement, corruption, corporate espionage, murder… Enough evidence to bring everything crashing down. She’d never met Mr Kenilworth or Ms Arikawa, but she couldn’t imagine that they would take it lying down. She didn’t want to have to be around when they found out what had happened.
Fortunately, the folder also contained a ticket off world. It was just sitting there. Was it fake? It wasn’t in her name, but the attached note explained that when she carried out the upload, it would also create a new identity for her. She wasn’t sure how it would work, but she had to trust that it would. She didn’t really want to consider the alternative.
Her brain considered the alternatives anyway. If it didn’t work, she’d get caught, arrested if she was lucky, or dragged into a back hallway and shot if she was unlucky. Her stomach roiled in fear, acid worry burning her throat. She tried to shut down that train of thought. It wasn’t going to help. She was committed now. She was probably on camera looting the apartment of someone who had been murdered by persons unknown then disguised as a suicide. Pretending none of this happened probably wasn’t an option anymore. Getting away from the earth had been her driving goal in life for as long as she could remember. Stick, carrot. She rubbed her eyes, and wished that she hadn’t been the one to answer that phone call.
Hours later, she arrived at work. Her face was sallow from exhaustion, her bloodshot eyes ringed with dark circles. Was there more security this morning? She couldn’t tell. She was worried that they would stop her, but nobody called her out. She didn’t really look that different to most of her co-workers, she supposed. Everyone always looked exhausted. Not much comfort, but she’d take what she could. She thought about giving up, about taking the pen drive from her pocket, crushing it under her heel, and pretending to have never taken the call. The photo of Ariadne stared up at her from her desk. An image of herself lying face down in a hallway somewhere flashed through her mind.
She took a deep breath. Exhaled. Plugged the pen drive into her work station and started the upload.
There would be repercussions before long. The data quickly wormed its way through the system, and out into the world. Secrets would escape. The spire would shudder.
Persephone didn’t notice. By then, she was already gone.
|# ¿ Feb 18, 2019 03:03|
|# ¿ Mar 19, 2019 00:21|
In plus a for my crimes
You're better than this! There's only room for one inveterate Failure Captain in this dome, and that's me.
|# ¿ Mar 20, 2019 08:24|
Oh captain, my captain, I'm afraid this prompt is gonna be rough sailing.
The first project we ever worked on together, back in the wasted mists of our teenage years, was lovely steampunk. It's fitting then, that the one which tears us apart in blood and oil is also steampunk.
|# ¿ Mar 21, 2019 18:38|
The Devil Comes To Morningstar
Storm clouds were gathering on the Sunday morning the Devil blew into town off of the prairie. Following a call only he could hear, he wore a long black coat and rode a strange pale horse, and left miracles in his wake. A two headed calf, a once mute boy speaking in tongues, an old blind derelict babbling about the sights he was now seeing.
Most folks, though, were at new church, all dressed up in their sunday best, praying to a lord who wasn’t listening, so they didn’t see the early miracles. But soon an unearthly silence fell when the Devil rode by, as the preacher was failed first by his voice, then by his heart. He fell to the floor with a gurgle, and his congregation gazed wordlessly on until he stood up, dusted himself off, and went out to follow the Devil down the street. The worshippers rose as one and went after him.
The storm clouds had broken, and now the sky was clear, and the air was filled with the fresh smell of dirt after the rain. The few people that could tear their eyes from the Devil on his horse noticed that the stars in the dark morning sky were angled all wrong, and none of the constellations were familiar. The strange procession moved down main street, the Devil at the head of the column, while dogs and vagrants mingled with the well-to-do of the town. The dusty road churned into mud, and unseen things wriggled and writhed up from below the ground.
The doors to old church opened before him. Pale sickly light leached into the street and welcomed him across the threshold. His new followers remained in the churchyard, murmuring among themselves in an ancient language, blood dripping from mouths twisting into strange new shapes.
He genuflected toward the toad crucified on the far wall, and smiled at the masked figures who called to him. He shrugged off his coat and it pooled on the floor around his bare feet.
Runes burned darkly on his chest, and the masked figures copied them onto fresh parchment, using ink mixed with their own blood while tears of joy leaked from under their masks.
With their new scrolls completed, they left the Devil behind and returned to their goldmines their oilfields, their plantations, prosperity secured for another year and a day. Weeks later, the Devil rode back out of town, and left it empty but for the crows.
|# ¿ Mar 25, 2019 05:16|
Cptns dr and person, after discussion you have until nz 9pm tomorrow on the dot to post your brawls or the shaft will fly, steeltoedsneaks has picked up the judge hat
The Patriotic Exploits of Nathaniel Dorian, Gentleman Adventurer Of The Steam Age
Nathaniel Dorian was the greatest adventurer of the Modern Age and, just like everyone else who read the daily papers, he knew it.
“I am the greatest adventurer of the Modern Age!” he cried, punching the final sky pirate in the jaw as they brawled, balanced precariously atop the bright red envelope of his personal Godshawk P9000c airship. “Have at you, villain!”.
The pirate staggered back under the crushing onslaught of Justice and Nemesis (which is what Nathaniel Dorian called his fists), before he lost his footing and slipped from the airship, then plummeted to the ground far below. Nathaniel Dorian turned his attention to Captain Lazarus, his long-time foe, who was, at this very moment, preparing to detonate a powerful aetherium explosive device beneath the floating city of Neo Londinium.
“Mr Kepnal! Take us in closer to Lazarus’s ship!” he shouted down to his co-pilot. A blast of steam answered him, as the airship accelerated towards his great enemy. They swooped down towards the undercarriage of the vast aerial metropolis, as Mr Kepnal got them as close to the site of Lazarus’s misdeeds as possible.
Nathaniel Dorian took a running leap, his Union Flag patterned greatcoat streaming behind him as he flew through the air, and crashed into the domed cabin where Lazarus was preparing to carry out his vile anarchist schemes.
“Surrender, or forfeit your life, you scum of the skies!” He drew his phlogiston powered steam-sword, and pressed the attack on his foe.
“You’re really going to keep doing this?” asked Lazarus, desperately blocking a vicious lunge from Nathaniel Dorian.
“Doing what? Good deeds and acts of derring-do?”
“Your whole ‘greatest adventurer’ thing.” Parry. “Flying around, murdering anyone who opposes the Empress and stomping on the necks of anyone trying to get by.” Dodge. “You’re the jackbooted thug of a genocidal and racist regime, and you’ve never done a good deed in your life.” Stab, twist, counter-thrust.
“Nonsense! I defend the empire and her interests! Don’t try and bring political matters into this.”
Nathaniel Dorian paused a moment. Was Lazarus correct? Was he complicit in the subjugation of indigenous peoples, in the repression of foreigners and the vast inequality between the social classes?
Nah. Nathaniel Dorian brought his sword crashing down on Lazarus’s wrist, severing it messily. Lazarus hissed in pain, then gurgled wetly and collapsed as Nathaniel Dorian’s blade raked across his stomach and splattered blood across the small cabin.
“Take that, Evil-Doer! This age of Steam has no place for the likes of you!”
|# ¿ May 2, 2019 02:26|
What's a pirate's favorite letter? Ye think it'd be arr, but it's really the sea! And with that horrible joke I am IN with a for my sense of humor.
Actually I think you'll find it's a letter of marque. In,
|# ¿ Sep 17, 2019 01:23|
More News From Nowhere
Prompt: Ancient Greek Pirates
There was a storm in the air, as what had once been a fishing vessel bobbed on the wine-dark sea. Tophoros, captain of the small crew of brigands who had stolen the ship the previous year, was laying out food on the table in his cramped cabin. Bread, cheese, some cured meat. He poured a measure of wine into a kylex, then muttered a prayer to Castor and Pollux, inviting them to his table in return for protection from the storm. Ritual completed to his satisfaction, he stepped out onto the deck of his little ship.
Lightning crackled through the sky and the clouds opened up. Tophoros took cover beneath an awning, and started unconsciously playing with the medallion that hung around his neck, running his fingers over the word carved into it. He was soon joined by Chrysippus, his first mate.
“Think it’s an ill omen?” asked Chrysippus.
“The storm?” he answered.
“No. It just means they won’t be expecting us.”
Tophoros looked up, and saw what looked like two tongues of blue flame sprouting on the mast of their ship. He nodded, satisfied. The twin gods must have enjoyed the meal.
His appreciation of the flames was cut short as he heard Polybius shout, calling the crew’s attention to something that he had spotted. The five others rushed to Polybius’ side. Despite the driving rain, on the horizon they could all see a huge hulking shape, rowing implacably through the storm. Waves broke across its hull, barely reaching a third of the way up the sides of the massive wooden ship. Its immense prow was carved in the shape of a bearded, blindfolded face with tusks jutting out from the lower jaw. The uppermost deck, painted a deep blue, was supported not by columns, but by beautiful statues of Atlas. The Ploutosia. Perhaps the largest ship ever constructed, and certainly the largest any of the pirates had ever seen, it carried a vast cargo, nearly a thousand crew members and—of most concern to Tophoros—at least two hundred soldiers. Impossible to overcome in a straight fight, their plan was to pull up behind the behemoth, lash their ship to its side and slip aboard before anyone could notice them. With luck, the storm would provide them with all the cover they needed to approach their enormous quarry.
Their small ship pulled up alongside Ploutosia. Up close, it was somehow even larger than any of them realised. Ploutosia’s back end was slick with rain, but the horsehair and pitch coating, intended to keep the ship free of barnacles and other parasites, made it easy for them to scale. Tophoros heaved himself onto one of the lower decks, and was soon joined by Polybius and Chrysippus. The brothers, Timaeus and Critias, were next up and then Tessarakonteres appeared, bringing up the rear.
Nobody was in sight, but they could hear the chattering of people approaching. Timaeus and Critias, brothers, drew their short knives and leaned casually against the side of the boat, while the others took cover. Two guards came into view. They didn’t react, taking no notice of the muscle-bound siblings. One of the few benefits of having such a large crew, Tophoros supposed, was that seeing someone you didn’t recognise wasn’t out of the ordinary. The moment the hapless guards passed by and presented their backs to them, Timaeus and Critias slid their knives into the unguarded kidneys, then efficiently heaved the dying men over the side. The splatter of blood would be washed away by the rain before long, but Tophoros knew they had to be quick to avoid discovery.
Before long, they came to the ship's cavernous hold. They hadn't crossed paths with any more guards, or even any crew members. The ship seemed almost empty. The hold itself was even unguarded. Tophoros chalked it up to good luck, or successful prayer. The hold was filled with goods. He knew what they were after, but wasn't sure where it would be. Fortunately enough, it quickly became obvious. Among the clay jars, wooden chests and piles of supplies, sat a massive box forged from black volcanic glass, inlaid with intricate glyphs of gold and some other metal that Tophoros didn’t recognise.
As he drew closer, Tophoros could hear a susurration coming from somewhere. At first he thought it was from the box, but as he got closer it surrounded him, sounding like it was coming at him from all around. He thought back to the smoke-filled taverna where he’d first heard rumour of the treasure he was about to plunder. Halieus, the old one-eyed sailor who told him the story, warned him about what might happen should things go wrong, threatening him with wreck and ruin, but he knew that if he could get away with it, the ocean would become his own personal playground. The brothers had been left at the door to the hold, but Chrysippus and Tessarakonteres were rifling through the other treasures contained in that vast hold.
He whispered another short prayer, then lifted the lid.
Inside the box was a head, much larger than that of any human’s since before Deucalion’s flood—if ever. Glyphs, like the ones laid into the obsidian, were carved all over its hairless flesh, the runnels filled with what looked like flows of ink, constantly in motion. Its lips were moving and the whispering filled his ears, drowning out even the sounds of the ocean and the pelting rain. Its eyes, each the size of a dekadrachm, were completely white and rolled restlessly around their sockets.
The head of Halios Geron.
Polybius, who had stuck close behind Tophoros, reached down hesitantly and touched its forehead. He collapsed immediately, frothing at the mouth, eyes as white as the head’s—and almost as wide.
Tophoros was disturbed, but not surprised, and had come prepared. He undid the thong holding the medallion around his neck, and slipped the metal disc into the head’s mouth. Its eyes immediately stilled, and Tophoros got the feeling that they were staring into his own. He shivered, and closed the lid. He expected the whispering to quiet down, but the volume seemed to increase, and it felt like he could almost make out the words now.
“Chrys, Teres, get over here. I need you to help me lift this thing,” he hissed over his shoulder, struggling to make himself heard over the whispering. He heard their footsteps as they approached, while he tested the box to see if it would be easy to move. It was, as he had expected, really loving heavy. He felt his crewmates’ hands on his shoulders and the whispering raised to a crescendo.
“Wha—” They spun him around, he saw their eyes had turned white, and he heard the lid of the box swing open behind him. He felt himself falling and unfolding.
Ploutosia rowed on, implacable against the wind and the waves, the little ex-fishing vessel dragging along in its wake.
|# ¿ Sep 23, 2019 07:31|
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2023 10:44|
I haven't participated much this year, but I'm gonna change that next year. TD is a magical place, and it's almost solely responsible for reigniting my love of writing. You nerds are great, and I'm stoked to be part of your cool wordclub.
Gonna to enter more times in the first six months of 2020 than I did in all of 2019.
|# ¿ Dec 27, 2019 06:29|