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Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
:toxx: in with a bonus fact


Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
Your beast is the Badger.
Badgers may be bribed with strong liquor. Their work is rough but functional.

A series of natural deaths
999 words

Samsa found comfort in the dank black void of her jail. There was no getting out of here, but more importantly, there was no getting in. She didn’t know what she’d do once her trial for theft was over. Leave town most likely. Hope she’ll get far enough. But for now, she was safe.

Something seemed to pitter-patter in the dark. The constant quiet made her imagine noises. But then, paranoia had become a habit of hers after Karl’s death. She’d started seeing things. A small silhouette, observing her far off in the distance. A blur of black and white in the corner of her eye. A glint in the dark, like a pair of beady eyes glowing at her from the abyss.

Another noise. Scratching. Far end of the room. She discounted it again. Dug her fingers into the dirt. She was safe here. She was safe, they wouldn’t get to her. She would have never admitted to stealing all that liquor if she wasn’t safe here.

As her nails scratched through mud and earth, she wondered if it was possible to dig a tunnel into her cell.

Something broke through the earth.


She heard the first badger before she saw it.

She prayed.


“Four years have I known your flock,” Karl said. “I have always brought you good custom.”

The badgers glared at him from all corners of his study, unflinching, unmoving furry little avatars of death, sizing him up from atop his desk, his shelves and even his ceiling lantern. They wouldn’t take pity on him. They were here for a job.

He wondered who’d sent them, and why. Maybe that foolish Samsa was tying up loose ends. Maybe the McTallister boy had figured them out and taken the law into his own hands.

“Very well.” The German reached for something inside his pocket and a wall of fur tensed up all around him. Slowly, he pulled out his flask and set it down. This kind of Whisky you only got on the Isles. It was exotic, even for the Highlands.

“When this is over, I want you to kill whoever sent you.”

There was no sign of approval. There never was. Badgers played with their cards close to their chest. It’s why he’d taken a liking to them in the first place.

“Now come and get me.”

He drew his saber and showered in a rain of fur, blood, fangs and teeth.


What was left of Cleft Toshen was a bloody mess. Literally. There was an immeasurable amount of cuts and bites all over his body. He’d probably died of blood loss.

“This man,” sheriff McTallister said, “has been murdered by badgers.”

“Excuse me?” the deputy said.

McTallister closed his notebook theatrically. The room was sparse. There was a half-finished dinner still on the table. Notably, only for one person. The man, in his death throes, had soaked the rushes red with his blood. Beneath them, shoddily closed-up mole hills still protruded from the beaten earth.

Cleft Toshen. Known for his temper. Not known for being good with animals.

“It has happened before. Remember the deaths in Midlothian? I was a deputy back then.”

“Wasn’t that witchcraft?”

McTallister snorted. “Sure.” As long as people kept believing in fairy tales and magic they would never solve the badger threat.

“You know sir,” the deputy said, “I mean, it’s not my place to say, but--”

“Straight from the hip.”

“There have been rumors concerning poor Misses Toshen and that German fellow.”

“Oh. Karl?” McTallister took his hat off the table and dusted it off against his thigh. “I guess I will speak to the widow now.”


Cleft had dinner. He ate at home. Other people annoyed him. He had a piece of bread, a bowl of pea pottage, a piece of salmon. Some porridge. He dunked the bread into the pottage. He wasn’t much of a reader, so he spent most of his dinner thinking, as usual, about how the world wronged him: his younger brother had gotten the farm. Naive Rory had been elected mayor. His wife hadn’t brought him dinner today - he’d had to get it himself. He’d give Samsa a mindful later.

Something crashed to the ground and splintered. There was a badger on the shelf. It had toppled over one of the plates. Stupid thing. How had it gotten in?

More badgers glared at him out of mole hills in the ground. More than he had fingers.

Something cut his ankle. There was a badger at his leg. It bit down. Cleft yelled, spitting bits of pea and bread, and kicked at it with his other foot. Another badger jumped him. And another. Until the cuts and stings and bites all merged into just pain. It crept up his body. He thrashed around, but the badgers didn’t leave go.

He fell to the floor. He tasted blood. Iron. Something tore at his throat. The room went dark.


The badgers formed a single line of fuzzy maliciousness, pairs of beady eyes glinting at them through the dusk. Samsa fiddled with the whisky mug in her hands.

“Are you sure they won’t hurt him?” she said. “I just want him to leave. Move him someplace else.”

“Give ‘em the whisky,” Karl said. The old German had a penchant for the direct approach. Maybe that’s how he’d gotten to know the badgers so easily. From what she knew, they had much in common.

“Look,” Karl said. “You want him out of your life, or not?”

Like a force of habit, Samsa’s hand went up to the black spot around her eye. She set down the mug and took a few steps back.

A wave of fur approached them, sudden and coordinated. It washed over the whisky and retreated just as quickly, breaking off into parts and scattering through the rocks and foliage of the mountains. Just like that, they disappeared.

“Don’t worry,” Karl said. “These guys always finish the job.”

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
I'm in, give me a sentence

Nov 15, 2012

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I'm in with Super Cool Max Extra Holiday Jolly Mode
:toxx: because I failed last time, I don't want a second option

Nov 15, 2012

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Dream House
1252 words

This was definitely the mansion from Edward’s dreams: an opulent grand set of stairs dominated the foyer in the same imposing way it had towered over him each recent night, nightmare after nightmare, always leading him up to a fate he’d never remember after waking up, except for the fact that it was to be dreaded, and buried in the recesses of his mind.

What an oddity that it should have been on this Christmas day that he’d gotten the invitation to these very halls. Not that he’d have much of a family to spend it with otherwise. The young Lord of Bruxbury led a lonesome life, consumed by his duties, and his many attempts to make up for his unreadiness to fill the shoes his father had left behind all too prematurely.

Even odder than the invitation was the state of this mansion: in fact, it seemed quite abandoned. Cobwebs and dust could not be seen, but certainly assumed in the many dark corners of this hall. A lantern hung, ready for the taking, at the lowermost stair post. He set it alight.

There was a faint ringing somewhere in the distance.

It called to him. He couldn’t say why. On some level he knew it was a bad idea to venture deeper into the mansion, especially if his dreams were anywhere close to the truth. Yet, he found himself yearning for a meaning to his nightly occurrences. He wanted to know how the story ended. His feet set into motion, carrying him up the creaking stairs and deeper into the mansion, where the lantern cast long shadows across the abandoned hallways he found himself wandering.

The room with the bell in it seemed like any other, claimed by vermin, and shielded from the sun by smeared, oily windows. There was a small table in the middle of it, and not much else. On top of that table was a small bell, the kind you used to call for a servant. It was ringing, faintly, hollow, although it sat still on the table, with nobody around to move it.

As he approached, the air seemed to close in on him, an oppressive corset that made his breath heavy and labored. Was this the first time he’d experienced this moment? He couldn’t tell, yet when his hand moved forward, the moment seemed vaguely familiar.

He picked up the bell, and everything went quiet.

Light flooded in through the windows, which were now clean. The vermin was gone.

A woman gasped. She wore the dress of nobility - perhaps a Duke’s daughter, but not one he’d ever been introduced to. She was beautiful, the kind of woman you would duel over, and her shocked expression did nothing to distract from her graces. Even in fear she still seemed composed.

“You have touched the bell, haven’t you?” she said.

He realized the ringing had seized and the bell had vanished. As he mustered his empty hands, the woman rushed up to him, seizing them, then feeling him up as if she couldn’t believe he was real. She caught herself quickly, and, embarrassed, took a step back.

“It’s been so long,” she said. “Excuse my manners. I’m Lady Victoria of Essex.”

Victoria of Essex, daughter of Duke Ernest of Essex, was quite the fabled figure these days. Many rumors had ranked around her for just as many years, ever since her disappearance. But that had been over fifty years ago, and there was no sign of that kind of age on her.

“Where are we?” Edward said, after having formally introduced himself. But either she hadn’t heard the question, or decided to ignore it.

“We need to find the bell,” she said.

Indeed, the ringing had picked back up, but it was faint again, and seemed to come from somewhere else entirely. They quickly made up their minds to go the way together, and although she seemed just as relieved for the company as he was, they were both tense, and talk came hard. At least the mansion seemed much more well-lit and maintained now.

Suddenly, Edward was walking alone. Lady Victoria had stayed behind a few steps back, at a room that emanated a soft glow through the door crack. The ringing still seemed far-off, yet she said, “It’s here. Can’t you hear it?” and pushed the door open without waiting for a response.

There was a well-decorated Christmas tree in the far-off corner of the room. A woman in a governess’s dress kneeled in front of the tree, her back turned towards him, two children playing with toys in front of her. He couldn’t make out their faces.

“My Lords, you have arrived,” the governess said.

Candles had been lit all along the walls, connected through garlands and hollies. A wholesome scene on the surface. Yet, whenever he blinked, the place seemed rotten for a split-second, murky, like they were at the bottom of the sea, and the candles were nothing but mirages. A cloud entered his vision with every breath he took, and he realized how cold it had gotten.

The governess turned around, and before he could see her face, the lights went out. A mean laughter echoed through the darkness.

Something crashed into him - a body. Victoria. She’d fainted. He took her into his arms and half-carried her out of the room, good as he could, but there was only a wall where the door had been. The laughter got louder.

Something cold touched his shoulder. He turned around, and there was his father. His face was rotten, pale, sickly flesh hanging of him like dead weight. His lips moved, but no sound was coming from his mouth.

Faint moonlight now filtered through the room. There were no ways of escape Edward could see. He clutched his chest. What did this apparition want from him? Its ghastly face moved closer to his. Finally, he heard it speak.

“ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring”

It held something out to him - a bell, like the one he had rung before. Its voice picked up, slightly.

“Rung Rung Rung Rung Rung Rung Rung Rung”

Hesitantly, he took the bell from the thing that was his father. Suddenly, its voice thundered through his ears. Only now did he really understand what the ghost was saying:


He rung the bell, and everything around him fell to pieces. Darkness swallowed him whole.

From the utter confusion on Victoria’s face, it seemed like they’d both woken back up at the same time. Edward found comfort in the fact that the room was in a decrepit state, a memorial to rust and grime. The shadows seemed to be still watching them, shifting in the corners of his vision. He offered Victoria his hand. He couldn’t wait to get out of here.

In front of the mansion, the sun was setting.

“Do you know where to go from here?” Edward said. “I’m sorry to say, I don’t know if you will find anyone familiar at your old home. You have been gone for quite a while.”

“I realize that.” She bit her lip. “But still--”

Edward raised a hand, stopping her. “I understand. But if you do ever find yourself in need of company, I am quite lonely at my estate. I’d be happy to have you, anytime.”

“That is nice,” she said, and he could tell she meant it.

She kissed his cheek, and wished him a merry Christmas.

Nov 15, 2012

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Nov 15, 2012

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none of this would have happened if rhino would have just posted the prompt

Nov 15, 2012

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Nov 15, 2012

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1345 words

“Dear God,” Earl said, scrunching up his face as if in agony. He massaged his temples and focused, visibly, on the energy in the room. Thunder struck in the background.

“Are you getting anything?” Mrs. Samson said.

“I see… a knife. In the darkness, a knife. White knuckles. Fist clenched around the handle. I sense anger, jealousy. Blood. Iron. My blood. I can taste it, the iron. It warms my mouth. It hurts. My heart, it hurts. No, no… don’t. Please don’t, I swear I didn’t cheat, I would never, no, NO!”

Aghast, Earl was hurled back a step, and opened his eyes.

“There’s definitely a ghost in here.”

“Oh dear.”

“Did you not have a reading done before you bought the mansion?” With a motion he cut the lady off before she could reply. “Don’t worry, ma’am. Happens all the time. So that will be one hundred dollars for the reading, and an additional two hundred fifty to carry out the exorcism.”

“And that will make the flickering lights go away?”

“Or your money back.”

“Well,” Mrs. Samson said, “I gotta say this is all very exciting.” She fumbled for her purse and counted bills. “I can’t wait to see--”

“Now, this is a very, very vengeful ghost,” Earl said, graciously leading her out of the room. “Very vengeful. So I’d say, you go for a ride, treat yourself to an afternoon at the salon, and let me work my magic over here. We’ll have your house ghost-free lickety-split.”

Before she could protest, he snatched the bills from her hand, ushered her out and closed the door. For a short moment, nothing happened. Then there were muffled high heels on hardwood, moving away from him.

He vented a long-pent-up sigh through his nose and opened his suitcase. It was kind of a gay piece, colorful, decorated with arcane symbols, and filled with standard lightbulbs and simple tools. With a screwdriver, he opened the cover on the light switch next to the door and fixed the contacts. Then he sat down and continued reading ‘The Shining’ where he’d last left off.

He didn’t even feel bad. Mrs. Samson was a dentist’s wife. Some people just had more money than they deserved. And judging from this room he wasn’t the only one who had robbed her. Old, tacky paintings of old tacky people hung from the walls. A weird life-sized doll collected dust in the corner, arms folded in front of her like a chaste maid. There was so much trash. He didn’t understand what it was for, but the rich probably had art rooms and all that kind of baloney.


He closed the book, just for a second, but enough to feel embarrassed. Obviously he misheard. There was nothing but the rain pattering against the window. Nobody was here. For a room stuffed with art pieces, it felt amazingly empty.

The light flickered.

“gently caress,” Earl said. He hurried over and unscrewed the cover, but the contacts were fine. Maybe he had to change the lightbulb. Maybe it was the wiring. Dear God, he hoped it wasn’t the wiring.


This time he was sure somebody was whispering at him. Had Mrs. Samson mentioned having kids? Brats could get into the tiniest spaces.

“Okay, you can come out,” he said. Nobody came. “Don’t worry. You’re not in trouble. You can watch me do the ritual, you know.”

The light flickered again. Lightning struck. He could have sworn something had moved in the corner of his eye, but that was obviously bogus. Had the doll always been facing towards the door? Seemed like a strange way to arrange her.

He waved his thoughts away. Now was not the time to go crazy – at least not while the light was still busted. He listened for the voice, but again there was nothing but the rain, and his own thudding heart. Maybe the kid had scrammed.

Lightning struck again. There was a weird shadow on the wall opposite of the window, sticking out into the large rectangle of light that fell through from outside. It seemed almost human-shaped, but he couldn’t see where it would be coming from. Perhaps the doll, somehow. Or an oddly-shaped cloud he couldn’t make out. Maybe it came from a weird angle.

The shadow turned and moved out of the light.


Faint laughter.


Now Earl for sure heard it. He heard it through the pitter-patter. Through his racing heartbeat. Through the laughter that seemed to swell up behind the door on the other end of the room, the one that lead deeper into the mansion. He tried to calm himself down, but now even the people in the pictures seemed freaked out. They followed his every step, as if silently urging him to leave. Earl anxiously eyed the door that led back to the front entrance.

The doll had definitely moved.

The muffled laughter from the other door got louder, swelling up, like a thunderstorm approaching him, one chuckle at a time. And then it stopped.

There was a knock.

Earl bolted. He threw the door open and ran down the hallway. Malicious laughter seemed to rain down on him from all sides. “Fraud,” it said, “Fraud. Fraud. Fraud.” The other end got farther away with every step. Shadows were growing longer, deeper. Doors were slightly ajar, eyes peeking out at him from behind, white fingers curled around dark oak. They reached out for him. Tried to pull him in, keep him here, buried deep in this mansion like the hack fraud he was. He had to get out. He had to--

The last door spat him out into the foyer.

Light seemed to rush back into the mansion. It was quiet. The rain had cleared and the sun was setting outside. Earl had left his suitcase back in the art room, but now he was not so sure about getting it back.

But then, if he left it, it would seem mighty suspicious.

He took a deep breath. Convinced himself he was going crazy. In five years, not a single house had… this was bananas. He would just quickly get it and later give Mrs. Samson her money back.

He turned back around.

The doll looked straight at him. Its toothy grin stretched from one ear to the other, dotted by two malicious eyes, glinting pins piercing his soul. It stood on top of the grand set of stairs, watching him.

And then it loving moved.

What it had attempted to do, Earl had no idea. He was too busy tripping over himself as he burst out the front door, onto the streets. ‘Fraud’, it echoed through his head, but as he stumbled away from the mansion, the calls ebbed off.

“G'day,” an old passerby said. Unkempt and amused, the old-timer chewed on his pipe. “I see you’ve been to the Samson mansion?”

“I, uh, yes,” Earl said. He composed himself. “Do you know the owner? Can you relay them a message from me when they come back?”

“Owner?” Curious, the man stroked his stubble beard. “Has nobody been living in that mansion. Not ever since that thing what happened to poor Mrs. Samson.”

Earl’s gut churned. “What?” he said.

“Well, t’was a few years ago. Some sorta self-proclaimed psychic they hired, from what I hear. Saw all the money for the taking and just up and robbed the poor woman. Hit ‘er a bit too hard with the sap, and that was that.”


“Gives me the jeepers, that place.” The man took a long drag from his pipe and looked out at the mansion. He didn’t seem to notice the shadow standing in the window. But Earl noticed. Earl knew it was watching him. Waiting. Laughing.

“Well, you’d best go along now,” the man said, and laid an amicable hand on his shoulder. He leaned in. “You goddamn FRAUD.”

Earl only stopped running when he was back in his downtown apartment.

An honest career in electrical engineering seemed like a mighty good idea all of a sudden.

Nov 15, 2012

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In flash

Nov 15, 2012

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Nov 15, 2012

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Nov 15, 2012

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sebmojo posted:

since FLORP has disdained it, you may have:

there are no personalities in your story but we still care what happens

Wheres my hellrule mother fucker

Nov 15, 2012

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Djeser posted:

should have asked for one then

But I toxxed, "Djeser"

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
everyone can't stop fighting, not even for a moment

The First Cut is the Deepest
1282 words

Sophie got tired of the cutlery’s bickering, so she slammed the kitchen drawer shut. That didn’t stop the microwave from teasing her though. Neither did it deter the toaster and the waffle iron from arguing about who was the ultimate breakfast champion, or the kitchen counter from complaining that everyone was so in-their-face all the time, or the cookies in the corner from demanding to be eaten up this instance.

There was only one thing that had been truly quiet ever since everything in this godforsaken-house had developed a life of its own: the potatoes.

There they were, in an off-brand plastic bowl, portioned out and ready to be cut. Quiet. She hadn’t had a single moment to herself in a long time, and yet, the silent potatoes annoyed her the most. It was as if they were ignoring her.

Was she getting ghosted by a bunch of vegetables?

“What’chu looking at?” the off-brand plastic bowl said.

“Sorry,” Sophie said. She realized she still didn’t have a knife in her hand, which might have come in handy for potato-cutting. Ruefully, she slid the drawer back open, and the metallic jeers returned.

“Look, it’s fatso,” a knife yelled.

“Yeah, forgot something, fatso?” That was Sophie’s yoghurt spoon. It had been an ally once.

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

“Well don’t look at me,” the spoon said. “What are you gonna do, spoon them in your mouth?”

The room audibly enjoyed that quip. The faucet laughed so hard it puked.

She breathed, nay, inhaled through her nostrils. Buried her face in her hands. It was nice and dark in there. Yes, maybe she would stay here for a while. Maybe she could pretend to be un-born. What a nice thought.

“Are you playing peek-a-boo with the kitchen drawer?” the clock chimed in. “What a waste of time.”

Sophie had to leave the kitchen. She knew it wouldn’t do any good. In the living room, the couch would invite her to take a seat and then theatrically complain about the added weight. In the bedroom there was a particularly nasty window that kept reminding her to please never clean it, so it didn’t have to go through the embarrassment of showing her to the world. She didn’t even want to think about the front-door.

The bathroom. She could go there. The toilet was kind of a douche, but the shower was mostly arguing with the sink about body hygiene so they generally left her alone. The mirror was hit-and-miss. Maybe she’d get lucky. She pushed the door open.

“...never heard of natural body oils,” the sink said. “Wasting buckets of water when your body takes care of everything naturally. Furthermore…”

The mirror was empty. It did that sometimes. Carefully, as to not hurt her knees, Sophie went to the ground. “Good trick,” the toilet said. “Does the elephant want a treat?” She ignored it. Rested her head against the bathroom tiles.

“...shampoo and gel, like there’s any difference between the two. As Marx once said…”

She closed her eyes. Pulled her knees to her chest. Cool. The tiles were cool. It was cool, and dark. You could forget about time. You could just lie here and die. It would be great. Even better: it would be easy.

“Look who’s back”, a familiar voice came from above the sink. “Runt of the litter.”

“What do you mean, runt?” Sophie said, eyes still closed.

“You know what I mean. Your brother works at Google. You sell handbags. Or used to.”

“Yeah,” the toilet said. “Loser.”

“Let me get a look at you.”

Reluctantly, Sophie heaved herself off the ground. Through the mirror, her reflection watched her cumbersome ascent with silent disdain. A fat woman with a mean face. Utterly incapable of showing compassion. And undeserving of it.

“I’m going to learn to cook,” Sophie said. “I want to lose weight.” She played with her fingers.

“Oh yeah, what have you cooked yet? Let me guess, mh mh.” She tipped her fingers against her cheek, pretending to think real hard. “Nooothiiiing?”

“I was--”

“Typical. You plan and dream and want but you never do. Like real people would. Sometimes I think we should swap places. I could certainly do better…” The reflection looked down on herself. As she realized the apron hanging off her hips, she threw her head back laughing. “Are you loving kidding me?”

“I don’t want to get my clothes dirty,” Sophie said. To her own surprise, she felt annoyed. She was too tired for this poo poo.

“What are you, cooking ramen? Do you even have a spoon?”

“I’m making potatoes.”

“That’s cute.”

“Well what do you want me to say?” A rage swelled up inside her, impotent, like a flailing newborn. At least she tried. Wasn’t that worth something? “Everytime I go in there, literally everything laughs at me. I haven’t had a quiet moment in forever. I barely even sleep anymore.”

“Oh, so it’s the cutlery’s fault? What are they, mean to you?” The reflection pretended to rub tears off her face. “Are you losing face in front of your kitchen tools? Poor baby.”

“What do you want me to do?” Sophie yelled. “I do nothing, you make fun of me. I do something, it’s not enough. I’m sure if I tried to cook something complicated you’d call me an idiot for that.”

“Always excuses. Maybe this is why nobody takes you seriously,” the reflection said. “Maybe this is why mommy and daddy still send you money. You know what they really think right? Behind your back. They pity you. Hell, I pity you.”

Sophie punched the mirror, and her image cracked. It frowned back at her from a dozen angles, buried underneath the sharp-toothed grin of broken glass.

She sucked the blood from her knuckles. There was a new thought that formed in her head, one that she’d visited a few times but never dared to explore before: she didn’t loving deserve this. She really, really didn’t.

“Nice going, chief,” the toilet said. “Here’s my thoughts on the matter.” It flushed.

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

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

She opened the kitchen drawer to the familiar laughter of spoons and forks and knives. ‘Failure’, they yelled. ‘Impostor’. She picked the nastiest knife of the bunch, thin blade glinting manically in the sunlight. Its insults had always been the sharpest.

“Save yourself the trouble and fall on me, eh?” the knife said. More laughter.

“Let me show you something,” Sophie said.

She carried the knife over to the potatoes. They were still silent, but she didn’t care anymore. She didn’t need the potatoes’ approval.

She would cook them. She would cook the loving potatoes.

She would cut them, and she would toss them in oil and spices, and then she would stuff that hot-headed oven’s dumb mouth with them. And there it was, this long moment, one blink after the other, in which she truly felt, for the first time, that she might actually do this.

No. Not might. Would. Must. This was real. She would create something.

Suddenly, the house went quiet.

“Alright,” one of the potatoes said, slowly, carefully drawing out each syllable. “You got me.” Then, quickly: “loving do it.”

“Shut the gently caress up,” Sophie said. She started cutting.

Nov 15, 2012

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Chili posted:

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

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

Nov 15, 2012

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Nov 15, 2012

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

“Huh,” Barry said.

“What?” Tom said.

“That’s it?” Barry said.

“Yeah.” Tom said.

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

“That’s lame,” Barry said.

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

“Like what?”

“You can’t do anything with it.”


“No, I mean like, try to pick it up.”

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

But then he didn’t.


“I know, right?”

“What the gently caress.”

“I KNOW, right?”

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

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

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

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

“How is it doing this?” Barry said.

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

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

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


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

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

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


“And sorry again about the noodle thing.”

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


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

“I should probably head home,” Barry said.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then they didn’t.

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

Or hey. Maybe it wouldn’t.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

Djeser posted:

why not offer to trade crits :wink:

I will do this with up to three people

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward


Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

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