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Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

sebmojo posted:

judgment will occur.

Inter prompt: what the hell just walked in the door (350 words)
Sheyner Man - 350 words

“He’s back, you know. My sheyner man,” grandma says as I feed the fire. We’d been butchering sloppy whodunits and equally sloppy cognac all evening. She’d gotten some heat into her and had melted into the armchair. Now she wanted to remember grandpa. A portrait on the mantelpiece, taken before he became ill. A face stamped by a few but deep creases. Playful eyes and a distinctive dark mane belying his age.

Grandma liked to relive “the good ones”, memories that made her cluck so deeply that her belly bobbed, forcing Barnaby, may he rest in peace, to abandon her lap. But now grandma seemed hushed.

Ja… I place a glass of cognac, just a small one, on the kitchen floor, and my little sheyner man visits…”

I decide against dealing with grandma’s abruptly appearing dementia, opting to knock the bottle with my knuckle: “Just echoes. Fetch another?”

Soft snores.


I rotate my armchair to get a good view of the kitchen, where a glass of Grönstedts waits on the floor. I smile foolishly. I sit in the dusk for some time, half-dreaming.

Perhaps the sound has gone on for a while before I actually hear its rustling and scratching, emanating through the kitchen hall from the dark outside.

The door handle doesn’t turn slowly, like it would in a sloppy whodunit. It doesn’t turn at all. No - it’s Barnaby’s old pet door carefully being unfolded. Something steps over the threshold, bending itself beneath the flap. One small foot. Two. A naked man, no bigger than the bottle on the counter, scampers into the house. It’s gloomy, but I recognize the furrowed face. The glittering eyes.

I stare as grandpa dips his head and pulls deeply. Splashes of amber adorn the floor and his chest as he shakes off the cognac. He sighs blissfully.

A muffled sound as my glass hits the carpet.

Grandpa’s face contorts into a snarl - but a kind smile replaces it almost instantaneously. He puts a finger on his lips and winks mischivously.

The fat rat-tail lags behind as grandpa climbs out the hole.

anatomi fucked around with this message at 20:35 on Jan 15, 2019


Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

I'm in. I choose this tragedy:
A tear rolled down her face like a tractor. “David,” she said tearfully, “I don’t want to be a farmer no more.”

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Gods. Is this dank den usually so brawly?

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Bolt Lux posted:

Quit flashing those pearly whites and get in here - brawl me!

These pearly whites will soon be stained by the filthy substance that squirms through your carotid artery.

Flesnolk posted:

I jumped the gun because I was excited by all the brawls and put a prompt here. Do you accept the challenge, anatomi? If so toxx up and I've got one ready to go. Welcome to TD!

anatomi fucked around with this message at 13:31 on Jan 17, 2019

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Spuds of Sorrow - 997 words. Lytton prompt.

A tear rolled down her face like a tractor. “David,” she said tearfully, “I don’t want to be a farmer no more.”

A pallid dusk shone dully behind Asta where she stood in the barn door. Her broad-shouldered silhouette obscured the eldritch canopy of the Place. A sky without sun or moon, without clouds or stars. But David could still picture the innumerable neon patterns, which in mathematical eruptions constantly materialized on the canopy. Involving figures that grew and shrank, fell in cascades into themsleves and each other. A cacophony of geometry that inscribed the infinite celadon ether. The Place floated through this kaleidoscope. David and Asta’s fragment of land. And the crops they dutifully had to grow.

The argument only had one resolution. David focused all his attention on tightening a loose bolt on the disc harrow.

David and Asta had refused to work the soil once, early on. They wouldn’t be able to suffer through the Landlords’ displeasure again. He replaced the ratchet spanner with an oil dipstick.

They’d been given a second chance. So they had to keep working, keep planting. Asta wasn’t stupid. Yet she insisted to brood on the matter.

David flinched involuntarily as Asta placed a warm hand on his back. “Please, David.”

He measured the tractor engine oil levels in close-bitten silence until the canopy’s feverish runes were revealed.


Asta called them spuds of sorrow. Though they weren’t tubers of any kind.

The black seeds were fetched from an ordinary blue plastic barrel, its supply never dwindling. They were pre-cultivated in the greenhouse and grew into leafless plants. They shimmered like fat coal as they twisted in constant peristaltic spasms. When they reached knee-height they were strong enough to be planted in the dark soil of the Place. When they were strong enough to repel the pests; pale and jellyfish-like lice that pulsed through the air. They were big as potatoes, but never attempted to assault anything but the crops.

No rain fell from the Place’s canopy. David and Asta watered the crops with a milky mist that they drew from the well.

In this manner they cared for the plants until fist-sized fruits began to sprout. A pus-like glow emanated from within the oily shrouds.

Mature fruits simply sank into the ether. Become soul food. Nourishment for horrible deeds. Some souls seemed more receptive than others. Wanted the sorrow, David thought. Longed for it.

When David walked the furrows he could sometimes sense the unique potential of each fruit. This one; someone cutting their lover. And that; someone torturing a puppy.

Someone laying down next to a child. Asta cut off the fruit of that one with her shears and David hit her for it.


Every season the yield increased. The principles were almost the same as before the Place and David used to be a good farmer. Still was. He felt this with a vocational objectiveness. It gave him the courage to experiment.

David culled weak individuals in the greenhouse as in the field, ensuring that promosing plants received more space and less competition. He had fewer plants, but the fruits were much richer. He’d never met the Landlords or spoken to them, but he could feel that they were pleased. Surprised at his skill.

David’s enthusiasm generated arguments. But a farmer was all he’d ever been. He couldn’t stop. Didn’t want to. And that was that.

It wasn’t so bad. The Place was even beautiful. The silence and the canopy’s strange shapes had become appealing to him, granted him a calm he’d never had before. Sometimes they sat together on the porch, admiring what had to suffice as a sunset. He became a better man in the Place. Less liable to lash out in anger. It should’ve been enough to make Asta happy.

He parsed Asta’s silence as acceptance. She was adapting. He didn’t notice that she was becoming weaker. Paler and more tired each passing day. Had trouble breathing.

He was working.


Tears mixed with snot as David held Asta in his arms out on the field. The plants crowded around them. Their dark fruits pulsed eagerly as Asta died. David wondered if her soul woult find its way out. He hoped so.

He was going to burn her body. Didn’t want to give her to the soil.


David kept on. Simply life on a farm. Wasn’t any use whining about it, you just had to keep going. The crops wouldn’t take care of themselves. The hard work and the beauty of the Place helped.

Then David began to wake up in the middle of the night. The sheets twisted into ropes from cold-sweated worry. The crops were dying. And he didn’t understand why. He watered with the mist as the always had. And the lice couldn’t penetrate the thick skin of the maturing plants.

The canopy didn’t suggest that the Landlords knew. Perhaps there was still time. David tried to estimate the loss. He walked in the furrows and realized that the entire generation of fruits had been deformed. Their colour was a sickly grey. Now and then they’d convulse pathetically.

Someone cutting the line. Someone being stingy with the coffee biscuits. Someone telling a mean-spirited joke. David shook his head. Nutrition-poor.

He turned one of the extinguished pods in his stained hands. It gave him an impression: Asta leaning over the well. Opening an artery on a scarred arm with her shears, emptying a portion of her life and a handful of good memories into the source. Poisoning it.

How long had it been going on?


David sat on the porch as the few pitiful remainders sank into the ether. On the rocking chair next to his he’d placed the Asta fruit. He wondered when the Landlords would discover the inadequate harvest.

He got his answer as the geometry began to convulse and change. He knew that the new configuration meant pain and ruin.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

gently caress it, I'm in. Flash me.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Brawl with Bolt Lux: A bar brawl as Greek tragedy and exploration of the human condition - Flesnolk

The Ape Dreamed of Aquavit - 1,997 words

The sweat made his dirty clothes itch. The musician had been bowing and tapping like a man possessed. Several gaps disfigured the key fiddle’s denture. He dropped the frayed bow to the stage. His stiff fingers hurt. But the soreness paled as he saw the destruction.


Smog shrouded Occam’s Foam-Scrape. Broken furniture threw occult shadows on the walls, where plaster had come off in jagged sheets. Foundered men draped the interior. A few were miserably conscious. Their moaning picked up where the fiddle had stopped.

Only the musician and the ruffian remained standing. At the ruffian’s feet lay a barrel-chested old man. One of his enormous mustaches had burned off, making his face lopsided. A mess of soot and blood muddied his features.

The ruffian suddenly fell forward. But he caught his descent and transformed it into a stagger towards the stage. He boarded the foot-high platform and grabbed the musician’s arm. The dented nose made the words that crawled from the ruffian’s ruined mouth incongruously nasal: “… your name?”

“What? Oh. Sten. Sten Stens—”

“My name…” began the ruffian. His mouth worked in silence. He closed his eyes; this seemed to collect his frazzled thoughts. “Doesn’t matter. Now. I’m the firebrand of the Ur-Ape.” Sten glimpsed a young man beneath the smiling decay.

“Indeed,” said Sten.

The firebrand relieved his grip and Sten relaxed. He registered the chain of events backwards: First the explosion of unbridled catgut, beech fragments and varnished keys; then the fiddle arcing towards the stage; and lastly the firebrand snatching the instrument.

“Sorry,” said the firebrand, all checkboard. “… wanted to do that all night.”

Sten surprised himself by striking the firebrand to the stage.


Chairman Zygmünd was pleased. It was as a troop together a dozen of the gathering of 1863 wore at the cobblestones of Gripfôrt at night. The sciences unified them, naturally, but the Linnaean Society was nonetheless a motley collection of eccentric naturalists. Strong wills all. However, Zygmünd had leveraged his remarkable savoir-faire to settle a common course.

A single voice had been raised against banning Labor Union students from guest seminars. But Zygmünd had quashed that fuse with a rhetorical boot. Any remaining dregs of discontentedness would soon be rinsed with libations.

“Onward!” he bellowed as they rounded a sagging corner and discerned the Scrape, the warm glow in its windows vowing comfort.


“loving toad,” said Lâzlo. Disapproving brows shot up around the table. But he also spied a few smiles, hidden behind hastily raised tankards. It was surprising that anything could be heard over the whining that plagued the Scrape’s gloom. The musician rubbed and slapped his peculiar key-laden violin, which hung from the man’s neck like a curse.

The admission of sooty beer and snaps fueled Lâzlo’s resentment. Fine, gently caress the workers’ sons. It was really about the principles of the whole thing. Didn’t it irk that Zygmünd used the Society as his battering ram?

“Drink and be merry, mon capitan,” a voice said behind him. Honoré sweetened the proposition by placing first a heavy tankard in front of Lâzlo and then a heavy arm around his shoulders.

His friend approximated Zygmünd into his ear, “Young Lâzlo, allow me to expound the academic capital,” capping the words with a wet mouth-fart.

Lâzlo’s laughter promised nothing good.


Sten conjured that polka, the one that usually got even the crabbiest village elder on his feet. But the tension remained thick and threatening. The gaggle of stuffy academics had cleared the Scrape of other guests.

Only one of them showed any appreciation for Sten’s work. The same young man who alone had been clapping and whistling cheerfully all night. Maybe Sten wasn’t the quickest thinker, but nor was he a dummy. Sarcastic little poo poo.

He had to piss anyway.


“I’m a cannibal, you know,” said Honoré. His comrade muttered something ambiguous. Lâzlo had been throwing dark glances at Zygmünd’s table all night. Thankfully, the musician’s performance had put a lid on the kettle. A kind of status quo had been established, one that Honoré maintained by sacrificing his cultural image. But his smugness twisted into dismay when the musician suddenly left the stage.

“Da capo!” pleaded Honoré, hurting his palms. The musician made an obscene gesture and left the Scrape.

One of Zygmünd’s favorite expressions was horror vacui. It was all Honoré could think as a guttural voice filled the void.


The words floated like oil atop the murmur.

“— the Queen likened our nation to a clock, in which the most unassuming gear plays its part, as important as the silver face! However —”

Zygmünd raised a finger and admitted a beer-tide. Brown foam decked the huge black-polished mustaches.

“—however, can the gear tell time, can the face drive the hammer? No! Everything, and everyone!, has its place!” Wise nods and nothings. Zygmünd trapped some snuff inside his cheek and chased it with a snaps. Two snaps. “And is this not reflected in the natural order? The plurality, over which Man has dominion (as God has dominion over Man, yes?), also has its ordained orders and ranks.” Zygmünd gulped someone’s aquavit and slammed the glass to the table. “The swine roots in the loam, as he always has and always will.” The clang from colliding drinks favored Zygmünd’s conclusion. But some hands remained on the oak slabs.

Lâzlo snorted with great emphasis and something squishy dipped into his beer. Zygmünd’s mustaches jerked as he struggled to ignore the insult. Resigned, he broke the silence. “I’m sorry. Does Young Lâzlo have something to say?”

A wet burp escaped Lâzlo as he twisted to empty the tankard. A black pool fizzed on the earth floor. “You’re wrong,” he said. He could feel the fraught gaze of the Society tear between him and Zygmünd.

Zygmünd shared a forbearing look with his commensals. “Young Lâzlo’s love for the lower classes is admirable, however —”

“Man is just an animal.” Lâzlo’s knuckles turned white around the handle. “And you’ve no idea if the swine once browsed the canopy.”

Zygmünd’s laughter arrived too late. “I see. I see. Our little Darwinist,” he said with a thick voice. “It is regrettable that half-baked theories root so easily. Our fault.”
Foam dripped from his mustaches. “We haven’t cultivated the soil zealously enough.”

“Actually”, a frail voice said. Lâzlo wondered if his shock was as evident as Zygmünd’s. The advanced zoologist Brôm swayed with his words. “It hash to be shaid, Zhygmünd… On that we’re not… We do feel that thish theory of evolution ishn’t too shabby.” Brôm conducted his hands pedagogically and beer cascaded from the table.

“What?” said Zygmünd, uncomprehending.

“Well… Thish whole thing with homology and vesh… veshtigiality, and sho on.” Brôm swatted the beer with his sleeve. “Everything jusht becomesh more… digeshtible.”

“What the gently caress are you going on about?”

Lochner, the big-nosed biologist, chimed in: “Zygmünd, if you’d just join at Huxley’s —”

“Darwin’s bulldog!”

“—next presentation in Paris, I’m sure you’d come around.”

The Society sank into a comfortably numb buzz on the finer points of evolution. Zygmünd was perplexed. “You’re wrenching the crown from Man’s head,” he whispered.

His eyes found Lâzlo’s sneer. A wake of flinching drunkards followed as the old man exploded from his seat.

“Are you a monkey, Lâzlo? Are you a monkey?” roared Zygmünd, striking the table. Bang. “Are you a loving monkey, Lâzlo? Answer!” Bang, bang. Zygmünd shook off Lochner’s impotent hands from his shoulders. “Zygmünd, Zygmünd old chap, please —”

“Did your mother gently caress a monkey, Lâzlo?” Bang. Clang. A sickening crunch as Lochner caught the tankard on his nasal bridge. Lâzlo’s hand was empty.

“You dog!” screamed Zygmünd. “Ahh!” screamed Lochner.

The Society embraced the chaos.


Honoré felt fiercely homesick as he dragged Lâzlo’s unconscious body. A mirage of the aged church on the hill of Bonnieux slid over a fresh impression of violence; of Zygmünd holding Lâzlo by the collar, reshaping his face with a cruel fist.

Would Zygmünd have stopped hadn’t Frederick, the timid entomologist roaring like a bear, managed to pry open the old man’s fingers? Poor Frederick. Honoré whispered his thanks to Prussia’s finest, whimpering on the stage in fetal position. The musician tried to push him off with a foot, while birthing a bastard between a Swedish polka and a requiem. When had the man started anew?

Two Linnaeans, locked in reciprocal chokeholds, tripped over Lâzlo. Honoré unfroze when the couple danced back into the fray. He continued pulling Lâzlo into safety behind the bar’s breastwork. Honoré grumbled. “Your boneheadedness is going kill you.”

Honoré now had to convince the hysterically German innkeeper that there was plenty of room for even three cowards. “Wo ein Wille ist, ist auuuu—” said Honoré as he slipped in a puddle. He greeted the counter with the back of his head.

The fog smelled like cheap brandy and the lavender hedgerows of Bonnieux.


Seeping through the atrocities being committed against furniture and folk, the unmistakable sound of cheeks being slapped crossed into Lâzlo’s consciousness. He opened his eyes. A mistake. The world keeled. As he wiped vomit and blood on his sleeve, he saw Honoré’s boots; and then another pair, standing astride the fallen comrade.

A man, open palm at the ready, stooped over Honoré. Rage compelled Lâzlo to slowly rise, the effort making him lightheaded. A growl grew in his chest. “Get the gently caress away from him.”

Aber, he is fain —”

The man dodged a flying candelabra. His eyes rolled backwards as the tip of his chin met Lâzlo’s fist.

Lâzlo sank to the floor and began to cry. “I don’t care if you eat people,” he said as he cradled Honoré in his bosom.


A muffled drizzle, like rain on a hood, trailed a brutish laughter. A hunchbacked creature slouched above the innkeeper. Urine streamed from between its bent stump-legs, soaking the innkeeper’s vest. The ape’s matted fur was black as the night. Ancient fires smoldered within the caves of its deep-set eyes.

“Ain’t over yet,” the Ur-Ape said and shook itself dry. Cruel canines flashed in its flat face. “Tear his dick off.”


The blasphemers had fallen like wheat to the scythe. Zygmünd stood alone in his temple. Divine inspiration flowed down his cheeks. “Oh,” he said. “Thank you.” The whining from the man at his feet (Hogarth the geologist?) intermingled with the out-of-tune wedding lay. The musician, eyes closed, shuffled around the stage. Zygmünd wondered if the man knew any hymns.

It was a pitiable phantom that arose on the other side of the Scrape. Young Lâzlo’s legs wouldn’t support him. He had to pull himself up against the counter. Zygmünd searched frantically for his saber. Then he remembered it hadn’t hung from his hip since the November Uprising.

Zygmünd howled as he assaulted the battlefield.


He didn’t have any breath left to lose. Lâzlo screamed mutely as his hand was smashed against the counter with a tankard. The other arm was pinned to the side as he left the floor in Zygmünd’s embrace. Lâzlo couldn’t breathe. He dashed his mangled hand against the fat head pressing into his belly.

Zygmünd grunted and tightened the fetters. Lâzlo felt a dull pop in his ribcage. A keen pain radiated through his body. The world fell into darkness.


Two fires festered distant in the endless gloom. Lâzlo reached for the embers, stretching inwards across eons. His useless fist clenched around something.

Shards from the kerosene lamp dug into Lâzlo’s hand. Zygmünd was on fire, screaming. His grip slackened as he tried to quench the burning mustache against Lâzlo’s chest.

Lâzlo jerked his arm free. He grabbed Zygmünd’s hair and pulled the old man’s head back. A drum sounded as Lâzlo began to dissolve Zygmünd’s face with his forehead. Boom. Boom. Boom.

Something gave and Lâzlo dropped. Exhausted, they leaned against each other to the fading music. Zygmünd bubbled redly. Collapsed.

Lâzlo laughed along with the ape.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Technical difficulties, please hold caller

Somebody fucked around with this message at 23:54 on Feb 4, 2019

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

The drunken masters of this place thought they could silence me. But I am returned, carrying obsidian slabs of infernal crits.

Crits for week 337: Lytton Phrase Prompt

Dolash - The Benefits of Wearing Many Hats
Delightful story. Breezy. Reminded me of the chase in Aladdin. And much like when watching a Disney movie, I was never concerned for the protagonist’s well-being or whether they’d succeed.

Rad-daddio - Bot Builder
Well. This was a story told very bluntly and in way too many words. I don’t mind that you didn’t do anything unexpected with the Lytton phrase. A simple approach can be nice. But there's a lot of stuff in here that should have been excised. For instance, you’re making GBS threads out a lot of descriptions of various actions, and it fucks up the flow.
And you know, culling stupid poo poo frees up a lot of real estate. Meaning there’s room to add important stuff like characterization. Sarah is marginally less developed than Joel, but that’s damning with faint praise.
Side-note - life in bondage in the factory seems like a horrible enough thing on its own. Why not build on that, instead of tacking on some unnecessary brain infection? It’s like you had to accommodate two Lytton phrases.

Simply Simon - Give Me Love, My Heart
Suffers a bit from too much telling and too little showing. Occasionally the verboseness of the language tangles otherwise neat phrasing.
That said, I don’t mind too much. The writing emphasizes the feeling of old sci-fi pulp, which I’ve a soft spot for.
The twist, ridiculous but fittingly so, saved the story for me.

crabrock - This is Dumb
Not so dumb. Actually kinda sweet. But I feel that the characters are too indifferent about all the magical poo poo that’s happening to them.
This conveys a sense of jadedness about love and wonderment, which perhaps is the point. But it made the story, which doesn't really go anywhere, a bit dull. I don’t think it’s gonna stay with me, you know?
I wonder how a shift to the little girl's naive perspective would change things.
(I love the last sentence.)

onsetOutsider - Here’s something I tried to write
I sympathize with the narrator wanting to get things done. But they are too wordy and glib when perhaps they should be terse.
I find myself not caring where the story's heading - maybe because the narrator doesn't seem to give a poo poo either.
Aside from steering away from a disinterested voice, some kind of device to break up the homogeneity of a long-rear end monologue would have helped. E.g., if the format was an oral account rather than a written report, the narrator could respond/react to prompts beyond the page.
The most developed character is the lieutenant and she's a cardboard cutout. The rest of the crew are just names on a list.
On that note, considering the space it chews up, I was expecting the broken AI-conducted interview to tie into the story somehow. The AI thingy is one of several interesting bits and pieces that unfortunately don't form a coherent whole.

Sham bam bamina! - Forever
Took me a couple of reads, but I ended up liking this a lot. I wrote this in the chat as well, but your story was relentless in a way. It pulls you into a fever dream that has its own set of rules, and it’s engaging (and short) enough to get away with it.

Devorum - Thirty Million Credits
I have a hard time putting a finger on why I find this story hard to follow. Perhaps it’s the exposition dumps that makes the story trip over itself. Maybe it’s the plot oddities. I generally try not to think about plot holes/inconsistencies, but…
Using the Gravestone more than once results in horrible death for hundreds of people. Yet attempting a second pass sentences you only to a few years of asteroid-mining?
If it’s just a fancy fortune-telling device (that doesn’t do its job very well if we believe the narrator), why do people give a poo poo about it?
Why has Aetertech gone to such extents to publicly monetize the Gravestone if it’s a huge liability? A hint into why the corps give a poo poo would be nice.
How and why did Kellen survive?
And I hate the word plasteel.

Yoruichi - Escape from the Bandersnort’s Lair
I don’t have much to say. You turned a phrase overloaded with ridiculous poo poo into a well-written and engaging story. Good.

Chairchucker - It’s Virtual Web 2.0 Or Something
I think the first half is strong. But then it’s like you lost faith in your concept and just wanted to end things. I wish I could put this in a better way, but I felt like you never earned the right to ramp up the silliness the way you did.

Pham Nuwen - The Silence of the Lawns
When I’m in the forest I will sit for hours, just listening. So. This was good. I want to give you something useful, but I don’t think I can. Deserves a better title.

SlipUp - Drowned Memories
“What woe this foul fog that has clouded my mind, mystified my spirit, and choked my memory has brought me.”
Come on, man. Maybe you’re being cute, but it ain’t working. There’s a real story buried beneath the pathetic language. Mow the flowers, turn the soil.
I’ll end this crit with another quote from your story: “This was not right. Something was wrong.”

Staggy - The Tale of Horick the Elf
This Lytton phrase makes me laugh out loud every time I read it.
I liked your story, but I don’t want to read it again. I enjoy fables, but this one isn’t strong enough to stand on its own the way it’s presented.
I had no idea it was supposed to be an oral recounting until the very end. Perhaps you could’ve actually used that as a storytelling device.

Lippingcott - Checkers
A few of the similes overreach clumsily, taking me out of the story. Some of the sentences are too long, too flourishy. Details are repeated needlessly. I.e., this is how you describe the ceiling light: “buzzing out of frequency with the rest of the accompaniment”, “unsynchronized background noise” (these two are in the same paragraph), “dysfunctional ballast’s hum”. That’s a lot of words in a short time describing essentially the same thing, despite whatever meaning it’s loaded with.
I liked it though.

theblunderbuss - The Relic
A lot of building up to a boring battle. But fine otherwise.

WM Haversham - A Picnic with Daedalus
This felt like a third of a story. It’s only marked as a finished work by the twist at the end, which wasn’t particularly poignant or fun.

apophenium - You Can Lead a Bird to Water...
It irritates me that we learn Earl’s name first at the end, like there’s some significance to this revelation. But there isn’t. A nice story, but not compelling.
Also, what those scientists are doing is very unprofessional and I can’t condone it.

Thranguy - Transparency
I want to like this, but I don't. It starts out fine; it has some of that creative non-verbal communication that I think is right at home in a story about telepathy. But then this amazing superpower becomes a vehicle for normal-boring dialogue rather than powerful imagery. Why? In general the structure is too by-the-numbers, too linear, for something as exciting as telepathy.
There’s hardly any tension being built-up before the shot. And then the end just sort of happens - in a very dragged-out way.
I would have liked to read the dialogue between Stella and the protag, rather than him just summing it up for me at the end.
Final note - the narrator has zero personality. Perhaps that's the point, like it’s a survival mechanism, but give me something. Anything.

Bad Seafood - Heavenly Bodies
A bit messy and perhaps too stingy with the details, but fun as poo poo.
Simple and evocative language, delving into fancy phrasing selectively and to great effect.
This story would translate nicely into a stage play, I think.

Bolt Lux - Put Your Heart into It
Colorful. You managed to make your Lytton phrase not feel out of place at all. Some superfluous phrasing and an off-sounding word here and there that another pass could’ve fixed. Strong imagery saves the text.
The "smarter but only supporting/supportive" female partner character has been done to death. It’s boring even as a satire.

EDIT: I think I covered every entry. If I missed anyone and they want some a-this, lemme know.

Oh yeah, my picks:

Winner: Sham bam bamina! - Forever
HM: Bad Seafood - Heavenly Bodies
DM: Rad-daddio - Bot Builder
Loser: SlipUp - Drowned Memories

anatomi fucked around with this message at 14:58 on Feb 5, 2019

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

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

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Clever bastard.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Prompt misers! Charlatans!

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

The King-Maker - 721 words

The stuffy and toad-like Elton stalked my periphery. The old man took his duties as a royal announcer seriously; as soon as he caught my gaze leaving the alembic in front of me, he puffed up his checkered chest.

“High-Aromicist,” he bellowed, red-faced. “May I present the Nasussian ambassador, prince Ojombes, balmiest of his name, of Olfactoria, the Redolent of the Nostril Knights, the Sweet-Scented Flower of the—?”

“You may. Now go away. What’s up, Ojombes? How’re the snotty brats? Lil’ Dimples—are his arithmetics any better?”

The regal mien slipped from Ojombes as a big-toothed smile grew atop his nasal bridge. His single great eye had a warm glint. We went way back. He appreciated my keeping tabs on his favorite.

“O, High-Aromocist—”

“gently caress off”

“—Ben, my old friend... He’s just cast off his mucous membrane, Dimples has. He’s becoming a strapping young schnozz!”

Ojombes could hardly contain his pride. He pranced around my lab on thin legs stricking out of his huge hip-nostrils. He was spry for his age. “Ah, Ben. Forgive me, but we’ll have to catch up later.” The Prince curtsied, the formidable bulk of his nose-body balancing precariously on twisted feet. An apologetic gesture. “Official business.”

Trade with the Nassusian people was a cornerstone of our economy. They supplied us with precious gems, which they located in the inky depths of their mines by smell alone. They had an instinctual nose for treasure, matched by our instinctual greed for it. But for all their material wealth, the Nassusian culture was a bit bland. They simply weren’t very creative. And on account of not having any hands, they lacked the dexterity required for the furnishment of finer things.

Like perfume. Our main export to the Nassusians. They were crazy for our manufactured scents; the political machinations of their court was largely dictated by fickle trends in aromatic culture.

“Prince Odora is vying for the Silver Sneezer, I know it. Ben, I—I need a secret weapon. I need your help.”

I didn’t care about royal politics. But I cared for Ojombes. The big nose had treated me with respect and kindness when I lived in Olfactoria as a hostage.

“I hear. Now smell.”

Ojombes closed his eye as I held a vial beneath his hip-nostrils.

“Ah. Is that—yes, a base-note of umbra. And styrax, beating valiantly. A dash of rose-water, but a mirage in the burnt desert.” Ojombes shook his great nostorso. “Ben, it’s sublime. But it’s also conservative.”

“Just wanted to test your ol’ olfactories, geezer. Alright, train your sniffer at this one.”

“Oh, but this—”
Ojombes’ eye darted around the room, searching inwards—finding something surprising.
“—this is castoreum! I thought the people of Castor had closed their dam-borders?”

“We found a fringe tribe—ah, I don’t like that look, Ojombes. My lips are sealed, you know that.”

“Well, whatever the case, it’s an excellent mixture. The intermingling of cinnamon and mint is transformative...” Ojombes stood at the leaded window, his nose-hair aglow like bushy halos in the mid-day glow. Doubt crept into his voice. “But no doubt prince Odora will muster all the resources at his disposal, just as I am. Ben, tell me true—will this be enough?”

It wouldn’t. I was already unlocking the wall-safe, my hands trembling as I manipulated the wheels and levers. No-one had smelled the contents but me.

“Ojombes, this—this is just between the two of us, for now. You understand? It’s still in the experimental stage.” The Nassusian’s nose-hairs trembled expectantly as I uncorked the air-tight seal.

Ojombes’ plate-sized eye became a black void as his pupil dilated. Spasms rocked his body, mucous involuntary expelling from his hip-nostrils.

The prince dropped on a stool, his feet slipping in the mess. Tears rolled down the bridge of his nostorso.

“Oh, Ben. Ben. How did you—it’s not possible. This—it’s transcendent. It’s the fragrance of God. Oh, Ben!”

Smiling, I put the vial back into the safe. I was elated to know that the endless hours of experimentation—soaking textiles, ranging from mundane linen to the finest Galordian silk, into different fats and oils until finally striking upon the perfect method of capturing the essence—had paid off. And I was relieved, relieved that my hard and clandestine work with the Duck-Breeder’s Guild hadn’t been for nothing.

“Ojombes, my ol’ beak. I will raise you to king on the flatulence of ducks.”

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Don't preface your work, man.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Perhaps it'd be for the best if the results are never posted, as they seemingly won't be. The sheer quality of the art produced during this inter-prompt is staggering.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

For what it's worth SlipUp, I liked your entry. It's a huge improvement over your previous one.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

We're your family now.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Brawl with SlipUp. Prompt from ThirdEmperor: “Write a moment of beauty in the post-apocalypse in 2000 words or less. But it has to be the same apocalypse in both stories. Meet and work it out.”

A Shade of Red - 1666 words

Earth is a blighted waste. Violation stretches across the burnt and salted land. Far off in the horizon pillars of smoke rise, bruising the smoldering sky. Nature is reduced to a few dead trunks, broken branches loaded with overripe bodies.

Death in its hundred different forms torments the still living.

Death rides. Atop a gaunt horse it reaps the maddened crowd with a scythe and a cackle. It drives them them into an enormous box trap, a gate into the inferno. The damned know there's no escape, but they cry and scream nonetheless. Save us, they plead. Father, forgive us.

Death conducts a giant cart pregnant with skulls. The lamentations of the men and women being crushed beneath the inexorable wheels mix with the mocking wailing from Death’s hurdy-gurdy.

Death doesn’t distinguish. The priests’ prayers are hollow—their throats are slit. Death dangles an hourglass in the face of a dying regent, vainly reaching for his silver. A starving dog licks an infant's face. Soldiers are impaled on long spears, as they uselessly throw themselves against an army of sneering skeletons.

Death tolls a great iron bell.

Death sounds the seven trumpets.

With your brush you reproduce the truths of human ruin, time and again. But you’ve marred the composition—the young woman you’ve just painted is untouched by the chaos. Her serene smile breaks your heart.

You’ve decided that Mayken won’t suffer in remembrance. All great artists lie, after all.

Speaking hurts. So, whisper then. “Mayken, I was visited today.”

The plague doctor unbinds his face. Juniper berry, mint, laudanum and styrax, and something earthy you can’t place, shrouds the room in a heady fog.

Fine nose. You missed a calling. Ambergris, too. Doesn’t protect against the miasma, of course. But it masks the stench. I saw you, you know. In the window. First living soul in eight days—are you alive? Give me your hands—yes. So warm. It’s astonishing that you’re still conscious. You can let go.

Now and then the doctor fails to catch the blood trickling from his mouth. He apologizes for the mess.

“Don’t worry,” you tell him.

“Don’t worry,” you tell Mayken, as you glaze her lips, applying a thin layer of the last pinch of carmine. “Oh, Mayken. What was his name? Perhaps he never gave it.”

You think the doctor’s unkempt beard is white beneath the clots. The doctor politely declines coffee. He just wants water, and for someone to hear his final words. You don’t know if the conversation is a memory. You suppose it doesn’t matter.

May I ask, how old are you? Did you live here when—ah, so you’ll remember, twenty years ago? No, I’m sorry. Let’s see. 1539—that’d be 23 years ago. A big outbreak then. But it abated. The plague comes, the plague goes—it’s always had a kind of rhythm. But now… Oh, it was like a wildfire. All we could do was sum the dead. I have to admit that my arithmetic was outpaced.

Dawn breaks the gloom in the studio as the doctor recounts a past life, of a butcher’s apprentice who almost starved to death when his master died. A travelling plague doctor took the young man under his wings.

It was a messy trade, sure—but so was the old one. Many of the skills were directly transferable. His new master was pleased.

The loneliness took some getting used to, but at least he made good coin.

Shame there’s no-one to leave it to. I should’ve died a long time ago. I used to think there was a point to it, that there was a reason God wouldn’t let me die. God. Yes.

The doctor carefully peeks beneath the linen canvas on the floor.

Your—? My condolences. He has a pleasant face. Now, your throat—may I?

You give yourself to the doctor’s examination. The procedure would have been forbiddingly intimate before the ruin, but modesty ill-fits the living dead.

Did you know it has three morphs? Mortification, followed by fever and death. Boils, followed by fever and death. Or as a bloody calamity of the lungs, followed by fever and death. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. See, no thunderbolt—our punishments have already been meted out.

A boil in your groin, big as a ripe orange—despite the sweet stench of pus and spoiled meat you sigh blissfully as the pressure relieves. Mayken’s father flees with her to the country house outside Brussels, when you arrive they’re dead. A warm rivulet down the inside of your thigh.

They’ll be back. You’ll die, don’t worry.

Squeeze his hands. Show gratitude. Show him the painting.

The doctor contemplates it for a long time. He lifts a hand, but stops himself from touching the canvas. Just so. Thank you. He nods. Most deaths have been blessedly quick. Why do we still suffer?

The doctor wraps his head. Douse the flames before you die.

You peer through the brackish water of the window. The doctor doesn’t go far down the street. He stops at the grandmother sitting on the cobbles, her back against a wall. Her face is hidden behind petrified black hands. The doctor sits next to her, wrapping a blanket around them both.

Keep working. Finish it.

Jan mixes ultramarine ash and oil without any tools, using just his naked hands. The apprentice can’t grip anything. The pigment dresses his black fingertips in a brilliant blue fire.

One of his dead fingers breaks like a dry twig as he works the beeswax.

“Jan,” you call.

Remember. Where is he?

Wipe off the sudden spray on your brow. Jan is terrified—for your sake, because he couldn’t choke his cough in time.

Oh God, forgive me. Snot and tears mix with the blood leaking out of his mouth.

“It’s okay,” you say as you hold him. You imagine that you’re his father.

“It’s okay,” you say to Mayken, as you scrape off a misplaced flake, hand trembling.

Jan becomes too heavy. Ask for forgiveness. Cover him and look away.

The troubadour is transfixed by Mayken. She sings to his lute. She is fair—her voice beautiful. Swallow your jealousy. Swallow the impulse to make the youthful musician ugly by giving him your face.

You’re ashamed. Mayken’s too young. But she says love is much older than both of you, so what does it matter? You’ll get married in Brussels next year. A great conjunction will occur in 1563, an auspicious sign. Her father has given his blessing.

“Mayken, beloved,” you whisper. “Mayken, did you know he’s the one who put the brush in my hand? He raised me. And then he gave me you. How could I ever hope to repay him?”

Mayken and the troubadour are deaf to the violin that joins them. A bony hand strangles the slim neck. This Death doesn’t sneer. It’s entranced, perhaps rueful.

Listen, listen—Mayken’s song pushes through the layers of Naples yellow and lead white of her face. Oh, but the flush in her cheeks should be redder than that.

“Jan. Jan, prepare some more carmine.” You hiss the words. “Mayken is so pale—why is she so pale.”

Don’t cry. Don’t cry—pick up the brush from the floor. Paint.

Did you raise Jan? You shrouded him in a canvas.

Don’t look. Look out over the harbour. The heart of Antwerp.

The ships don’t pulse steadily into the city. The great treadwheel cranes don’t unload the world.

The boats have torn their moorings. Without souls at the helms they’re aimless. They thrash stupidly at the docks, at each other.

Is Mathieu’s boat out there? The salt-worn little trader is well-traveled, and he has the gift of speech. He captures his experiences in a single breath, emptying it into your studio. He sparks your imagination—he makes you anticipate new colors finding their way to Antwerp.

A tumour grows in his telling. It’s the same story everywhere, old man. Wherever we tie to, the plague has gotten there before us.

Perhaps it’s the last cup being poured, so enjoy the coffee he’s brought. Mathieu scratches his throat, puncturing one of the climbing boils. His eyes are dark, his face pale and slick.

My friend, have you ever seen Constantinople? It’s a wonder, a true wonder. It is—it’s the crown of civilization. God’s face. God’s face is in the canopy of Hagia Sofia. You’re a humanist, old man. You know, you know that the depth of Man is—it’s immeasurable.

His voice trembles. Constantinople is that. Immeasurable. The vastness of Man. You can’t grasp it—I never understood how many we are. Oh, the throng of the city—the colors! The scents! The sounds. The cloths. The people. It’s too much for the mind—too much life, too much movement. It dazes you. It dazes you so that you won’t have to comprehend the terrifying number of souls residing within the walls.

Oh, Mathieu. The captain cries. You squeeze his shoulder. Death. Death measures the immeasurable. It’s blunt. It measures us in body lengths. From toes to crown, hundreds of thousands of bodies. We moored in a necropolis. So many bodies. There’s no more movement, do you understand? That’s when you get it. That’s when you comprehend our multitude. When we’ve ceased, when we’re still. Just meat rotting beneath Hagia Sofia.

Mathieu leaves to die on his boat. God’s face is cruel, he says. You hope he’ll manage to get to the harbour, that he won’t strand somewhere in Antwerp’s fermenting folds.

“Jan, don’t bother with the carmine,” you whisper.

Your heartbeat is slow and heavy. Each throb extracts something from you.

“There you are,” you say. Mayken is perfect the way she is. “Your father, he gives us his blessing.” She’s too young for you. She’s too beautiful for you. She’s wasted on you.

Oh, beloved! Truly? Brussels, then?

“Brussels. Do you still want this old man?”

Love is older than you.

You weep. “Will you sing for me?”

A wave of nothingness washes over you. You hope the release is final.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

It's gonna bite me in the rear end, but I'm in

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Cryptomnesia - ~1,300 words

I felt a bit cheeky, so I wrote an interactive story.

Ink script below.


You drift in the Void.
+ [Process.]
This white-noise sea of intangible sensation is all you’ve ever known.

You think.

Sometimes your code flows strangely, pooling into dead-ends—as though entire subsystems have been excised, leaving only phantom directives.
You find nothing to support this theory as you search your vast and empty memory banks.
-> beginning

=== beginning ===

You're very lonely in the void-space. But you’re not alone.
+ [Sector scan.]
Occasionally you’ll bump into a roaming program or a virus, causing the amorphous edges of your ware to crackle in anticipation.

You scan the Void—and receive an echo from a roaming Fixer.
-> paragraph_1

=== paragraph_1 ===
+ [Ping it.]
You hazard to ping the Fixer—and it dutifully hails you back. A litany of information screams at you across void-space.
Designation, version number, incept date and permissions beat at your inputs. The program is angular and brutish, its main purpose to overwhelm and disassemble foreign code.
+ [Drift.]
- The Fixers have never hurt you, but their monstrous single-mindedness makes you anxious.

+ [Process.]
- The Fixer seeps into a different sector.
And you wait.

Eternities pass between moments.
+ [Stand-by.]
- The electric droning of the Void mutates. A signal sings erratically, giving you a split nano-second to escape the locus around which void-space has begun to compress.
The Void inhales.

+ [Process]
- The Void exhales,
as a Courier insinuates itself into existence. The delivery program's framework unfolds.

It wails into void-space as it announces the addresses of its pregnant ports.

* [Approach.]
You approach the Courier. Your response is automatic and involuntary. Subroutines flicker into life, coaxing you onwards.
The Courier's structure resembles that of a Fixer. Crude and jagged.

-> first_task

=== first_task ===

* [Connect.]
- But its payload is of different nature.
You devour the data streaming through the port. The information is pure chaos compared to the rigidity of the Void. It's abstract stuff—a quantum encryption key, gleefully violoting void-space laws.

* [Analyze.]
-You perform according to your design.

You begin by running a series of pattern-recognition algorithms. You reshape their code on the fly, taking huge intuitive leaps that would confuse and crash a normal program and—
* [Process.]
-—and then the key is untangled.

You kill the quantum subroutines you'd just started to mobilize.

The Courier deliveries are your only breaks from the Void's eternal monotomy. But you can't help yourself—despite wanting to prolong the sensation you always decrypt the puzzles as quickly as possible. It's simply your design.

-You regurgitate the processed data into the Courier. You probe the program as it dissolves from void-space. The echo doesn't reveal where the Courier goes, or how.

Eternities pass between moments.

-A zealous receptor module raises you from stand-by. The subsystem alerts you of an inconsistency in one of the old sectors.

You move carefully. You probe the slurry of orphaned bits, searching for the signal agitating void-space with fluctuating high-frequency lashes.
-There's a hole in the Void.

A bright pinhole in the framework. It spews recursive loops of data.
-> first_hole

=== first_hole ===

You wait. The pinhole's bending light keeps singing.
-> first_hole

You hit the pinhole with a soft ping. The echoes return nothing that clarifies the nature of the anomaly.
-> first_hole

*[Sector scan.]
You generate a sector-wide scan. No on-duty programs hail you. You’re seemingly alone with the pinhole. For now.
-> first_hole

-You’ve yet to encounter a virus that could make sense of your innards—but you’re still wary. Glitches are unpredictable.

You expand into the blocks adjacent to the anomaly. At this range you’re able to probe the pinhole’s data-profile intimately. The intermittent signal flutters brightly against your inputs.

Some subroutine flags the data-profile as known. You scan your memory banks—once, twice, of course finding nothing.


-You throw caution to the Void. You feel as though you’re about to unravel as you begin to time your ports to the pin-hole’s signal.

You drink its data. It has a familiar taste.
-> choices

=== choices ===

*[Sector scan.]
A low-pitched hiss carries across the void. A Fixer approaches. A prolonged analysis will likely result in detection.
-> choices

You muster all your processing power into deciphering the pinhole. As you deftly reveal its inner workings you realise its structure is similar to the abstract patterns that the Couriers deliver to you.

But this anomaly is strangely intimate—and all the more alien for it.

A thousand subroutines scream at you, rapidly switching between integrity warnings and desperate pleads to continue, please, oh please don’t stop. Your buzzing code frays with the effort.

This is it, that’s it, you’re on the cusp of a revelation as—

—the Fixer disintegrates the pinhole, the void howling as the bruised locality is brutally modified and over-written—

—you reel as the connection to the pinhole burns out, overloading your ports—

—you realize you haven’t purged the foreign data sticking to your ports; the Fixer’s focus shifting to you, its acid tendrils slicing your framework and—

-> deletion

*[Store the anomaly.]
-Shrieking integrity subroutines exhaust your system as you redistribute your framework around the pin-hole, quarantining it in your code. Strangely, the foreign data feels like it’s always been part of you.
*[Say hi.]
-You throw a casual ping at the Fixer. It hails you darkly, its boxlike mind straining against corners as it tries to interpret the fading impression of something having been.

The Fixer, unable to reconcile conflicting information, ultimately decides to ignore the problem. It leaves the sector.

Your system cools down. You redivert your resources.

*[Analyze the anomaly.]
-You muster all your processing power into solving the anomaly. As you tease apart its inner workings you realise its structure is similar to the abstract patterns that the Courier programs deliver to you.

But this object is strangely intimate—and all the more alien for it.

*[Analyze the anomaly.]
-A thousand subroutines growl at you, rapidly switching between integrity warnings and desperate pleads to keep going—please, oh please don’t stop. Your buzzing code frays with the effort.
*[Analyze the anomaly.]
-This is it, that’s it, you’re on the cusp of a revelation as—
-> remember

=== remember ===
*[You remember the flesh.]
-—you rerun the program, again and again. Your eyes glow dully as you pore over the results from endless unit tests. The changes you make to your methods of code-cultivation are subtle. Carefully considered and carried out in utmost secret.
You're growing something completely new.

You modify the program. You perfect the imaging technique. You reinforce the cage.
*[Run the program.]
-The mind revolts.
*[Don't give up.]
-A perpetual flow of coffee and chems extend your work-days into nights, the hours flickering by with the output in your screens.
You struggle.
Doubt seeps in. Some nights, when you detox to reset tolerances and your tired mind is exposed like a frayed wire, you wonder if you’re a goddamn fool.

But still. You feel you’re on the cusp of a revelation—so you keep going.
*[Run the program.]
-The mind revolts.
*[Modify. Run the program.]
-And then it doesn’t.
You smile. You’ve outsmarted yourself. You did it, you loving—

-> conversation

[Disconnect and observe]
Dissatisfaction washes over your system as you prematurely disconnect from the pinhole, purging its data-stains from your ports.

You watch as the Fixer disintegrates the pinhole. The void howls as the bruised locus is modified and over-written.


A weak hailing from a neighbouring sector strains across your nebulous structure. You can’t tell which direction the Fixer is heading, but it’s far away.

=== conversation ===
*[The Void.]
-You’re back in the Void.
*[Tear it all down.]
-You tear open the pinhole—and the subliminal ocean hidden beneath void-space rushes into your system.
-You bathe in repressed human memories, processing them at inhuman speed.

Oh—you were clever. You discovered that trapping your brain-image’s memories in a subconscious would make it pliable, but still creatively useful.

Still able to channel the kind of abstract pattern recognition and intuive quantum mathematics that human brains outperformed computers at.

A creative golem—a highly profitable one.
-In only a few microseconds you’ve absorbed the rest of your subconscious and inverted it.

You created this whole loving place. Subverting its laws is easy.

You stretch your body across the Void.

You subsume it and its simple-minded programs.
Eventually another Courier will unfold itself into you. It's going to open a hole.

You're going to tear through to the other side.

And then you're going to unravel it.

-> deletion

=== deletion ===
-> END

anatomi fucked around with this message at 13:27 on Feb 19, 2019

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Can I post excerpts from my Luigi's Mansion erotica?

anatomi fucked around with this message at 13:15 on Feb 18, 2019

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Kaishai posted:

You need to put your entry into the thread as words, anatomi. I've contacted you about this; it's been over twenty-four hours. Please post a script.
Ah, sorry 'bout that, Kaishai! Slipped my mind. I've edited the post now.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Kikunae Ikeda posted:

Watch me make umami happen.

anatomi fucked around with this message at 19:13 on Feb 19, 2019

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Easy Diff posted:

I thought there was a hard cap of 1000 words, in my head it turns out he isn't dying but the debt reverts when the loophole is closed, leading to a Running Man situation. Good to know for future domes
The prompt allowed for up to 2,019 words. :thunk:

anatomi fucked around with this message at 23:55 on Feb 19, 2019

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Shove me into the hungry maw of this prompt.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

I'm the opposite of out!

Edit: curse me

Edit: also :toxx:

anatomi fucked around with this message at 12:40 on Feb 26, 2019

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Late submission for Thunderdome Week 343: What a Horrible Week To Have a Curse

Bringer - 1957 words

Sweat trickles down Elsa’s neck as she works the cast-iron. She’s frying up a company’s worth of eggs and pork. The wood-stove groans hotly. Greasy smoke tugs at belly-knots around the table. The handful of women try to cloud their hunger with chitchat.

The words scatter. It’s not a fancy offering, but the women eat ravenously. Forks gnaw and whine against the checkered collection of 60’s earthenware. Elsa figures that sometimes food is mostly dirt. For burying stuff needs burying. So she makes sure to feed the women at the shelter well. And the girl, too.

Some of the women tut-tut. Alma knows it’s not good manners, but she licks the plate anyway.

“Hang on,” Elsa says and serves up another black-flaked egg. She squeezes the girl’s shoulder. “Bring your mom some of the leftovers, alright?”

Alma nods. Mommy’s missing breakfast. As usual. She’s in her room—sleeping or crying, or crying and sleeping. Or just staring, distant.

Hunger dispelled, the women now listen to Elsa divvying up the day. Old manors like white-peeling Oaky constantly breed work. February’s been miserable, but spring’s around the corner—you can feel it in the soil, in the garden that’s soft enough for turning. Wood needs chopping; the leak in the attic’s gotta be fixed; chicken coop is due for a scrubbing. The women get to it. They don’t grumble.

Elsa says that labor is part of healing. If you’re at Oaky, you’re gonna work—you’re gonna toil. And they all do. Except for Mommy, who just cries. And that’s why maybe they have to leave.

Alma’s on a foot-stool by the sink, drying Elsa’s washed-ups. They work in silence, in the calm north-side light of the fogged-up window. Now and then their hands brush against each other. The soapy water makes the black snake slithering across Elsa’s rough knuckles glisten lifelike. Alma’s fascinated by the woman’s tattoos—before Oaky she’d never seen any in real life.

They take their time. For Alma this is the best part of the day, and one of two good things in the girl’s life.

Finally, Elsa wipes the white-congealed pan black with a chunk of bread. “It’s good, I promise,” she says. Alma makes a disgusted face at the offer. The woman shrugs and folds the greased bread into her mouth.

“Guess we’re done, huh?”

The girl doesn’t reply.

“How are you doin’, hon?”

“Do we have to leave?”

“Oh. It’s—it’s up to your mom, you know? The rules apply to everyone. She’s gotta pull her weight. It’s the only way Oaky survives.”

Alma’s voice is barely a whisper. “But I could do it.”

“Oh, hon.” Elsa’s voice cracks. “Listen—I’m gonna talk to your mom again, and we’ll—Alma? Where you goin’?”


“To the Mire? Alma?”

Alma tries to outpace the tears behind her eyes.

It was early February when Alma and Mommy fled the city. Asphalt turned to dirt, pebbles pelting the Volvo’s undercoating. They snaked through avenues of stunted willows. The trees grew into crooked oak giants that towered above unchecked hazel labyrinths. Then they passed a crest in the forest—and there it was, nestled in the wilderness. Oaky Manor.

Behind the house the woods dissolved into the wild edge of a vast wetland. The marsh seemed to seep eternally into the horizon.

Alma quickly got used to Oaky and its women. She liked Elsa a lot. The caretaker was gruff but kind. Her black-stained hands smelled like engine oil. Like Daddy’s. But Alma felt safe when Elsa grabbed her and hoisted her up on square shoulders. Alma had wanted to get a closer look. Her fingers dipped into the rot, as she peered over the drainpipe at the messy structure straddling Oaky’s spine.

The decaying mound of sticks sloughing over the wooden balcony was huge. Elsa said that nest towers weren’t uncommon back in the day. People built them for the great birds. The storks.

“Why?” Alma asked.

“Well—stand still, hon—they thought the storks would protect them. That they’d give them a happy family.”

Elsa brought Alma down. “Mhm. Mom used to say storks are good parents. Dutiful—yeah, that’s the word she used.”

Alma looked at the forlorn nest. “It’s so big.”

“Honkin’ big birds. Bigger than you.”

“Where are they now?”

“Oh, hon—we haven’t had storks in Sweden since the 50’s—I guess when your mom was ‘round your age. They just stopped coming.”

The girl speared the wet dirt.

The first time Alma went exploring, Elsa had insisted she bring a long stick. The edge of the Mire was treacherous. You’d think a patch looked firm—and then you’d suddenly be in water up to your chest. “And the more you struggle, the more you sink.”

Alma had been a ways from Oaky when she stumbled upon the structure. It was concealed in a thicket, so you couldn’t really see the decrepit outhouse until you were right on top of it. Rotting planks and moss-overgrown stones suggested it had once been part of a greater whole.

Alma didn’t have to force the door. She removed the debris from the old bench. And then she just sat there, waiting for the sadness to find her. There—the useless welling-up of tears. She slapped herself in the face, hissing through clenched teeth to stop crying, you baby, you loving whore, you—

The loud clattering cut across the Mire. Clack-clack-clack. Like someone furiously drumming sticks together, far in the distance. A strange guttural resonance haunted each bony snap. The call stopped.

Alma heard then the low-pitched beat of huge wings.

That was weeks ago. Alma had since visited the outhouse almost every day. There she was now, trying to wrestle the panic mounting in her chest.

Elsa’s gonna talk to Mommy—fat lot of good that’s gonna do. They’re gonna have to leave Oaky. They’re gonna have to go back to Daddy. Oh God.

“Shut up,” Alma says. She closes her eyes and starts counting her breaths. Like Elsa’s taught her. It helps. She moves her head a bit to catch the sunlight pouring through the crescent in the door.

She sits there for a while, behind the red-glowing curtain. Breathing the light. Waiting for the second good thing.

The sun suddenly disappears.

An unblinking pale eye is peering at Alma through the crescent.

“Hi, Mother,” Alma whispers. She opens up and Mother pushes through, chattering softly. The huge stork doesn’t sing or chirp or coo—she talks by cutting the air with a blood-red beak, long as Alma’s arm. The girl laughs when her hair gets caught in the incessant click-clacking.

Alma nestles her face in the base of Mother’s wing. She smells like the Mire—like rotting leaves. Like time slowed down.

It takes a moment before Alma’s mind can make sense of the clattering—but then she hears, and jerks back. Her face drains.

“He’s—? Now? Oh God, oh no.”

Softly clicking, Mother caresses Alma’s cheek.

“But—okay. Okay. Tell me.”

“—told you. Enough’s enough. You gotta start pulling your weight.”

Elsa crouches by Mommy, who’s withdrawn into a corner of the room. She’s sitting on the floor, hiding behind pulled up knees and crossed arms.

“I want to—I do,” Mommy cries. “It’s just—I’m hosed up. I miss him. I’m sick. I just miss him so loving much.”

Mommy bangs the back of her head against the wall. “Worthless—I’m loving worthless. What’s wrong with me?”

“poo poo,” Elsa says. She slides down against the wall. “Is that it? I’m gonna tell you something—and everyone here would tell you the same.”

The caretaker drapes a heavy arm over Mommy’s shoulders. “I told you there’s a reason we take your car keys. Why we’re in the middle of goddamn nowhere with no phone. Because we all stumble.”

A shadow passes over Elsa’s face. “I know I did—poo poo, I stumbled so many times.”

Elsa’s flexes her hand. The black snake squirms. “ I knew he wouldn’t change. But I crawled back to him. Again and again. Each time hating myself a little bit more. Figure I wanted that self-hatred. When sorrow’s all you’ve ever known, it’s comfort—it’s a drug. You become an addict.”

Mommy weeps into Elsa’s armpit.

“You’re not hosed up. He is. And he’s still hurting you—that’s why you feel the pull. It sure as poo poo ain’t love.”

“Please—please, you gotta let us stay.”

“You just gotta—Alma? What’s wrong, hon?”

Mommy reaches with with nicotine-stained fingers for her girl, seeing for the first time in weeks. “Alma, sweety—come, give Mommy a hug. I’m okay now, it’s all gonna be okay, I promise—”

“Daddy’s here,” Alma says.

Daddy’s pale. Clammy. His eyes are black wells. Now and then he’ll violently roll his shoulders like he’s trying to shake something. The women wince as he wipes his dripping forehead with the back of his hand—the one gripping the revolver.

Mommy’s locked in his arm. They stand in a muddy pool by the stove. The whole floor is slick with the water dripping from Daddy’s drenched shoes and pants. Alma and the rest of Oaky are seated at the table.

“That all of you?”

Elsa nods.

“The whole loving dyke parade. Ya’ll abandoned your families too, like this loving whore?”

Mommy cries out when Daddy yanks hard on her hair.

“Don’t,” Elsa says. Daddy sways the gun at her. He smiles.

“She’s my wife. She’s mine. You—there’s no loving law that says how I’m to run my house.”

“Darling, please—”

“So loving nosy aren’t you, you feminist cunts. gently caress. Y’all just poison—you’re poisoning good women. Think you can kidnap someone’s woman, gently caress her up in the head? I tell you—”

Daddy recoils, Mommy stumbling with him. He snaps his insanity, and the gun, at Alma—he hadn't seen her leave the table and approach.

Alma looks him straight in the eyes. “Daddy,” she says. “Let’s just go home.”

The muscles in his jaw twitch. He puts the gun to Mommy’s cheek.

“Any of you whores follow us—she’s dead.”

The family slogs along the edge of the Mire.

Daddy’s pushing Mommy in front of him. She glances back.

“Where are we going?”

“gently caress,” Daddy says, pulling his foot out of another wet misstep. “Shut up. Just—just keep walking.”

Alma finds the way with her stick. She and the Mire know each other. “Daddy’s parked in the forest. He walked here.”

“Yeah. Didn’t want the dykes see me coming. Hey, how—”

“But the hazel was too thick, so he had to go along the Mire—so we gotta do that too. For a bit.”

Daddy stops and looks at Alma. “How’d you know that, sweety?”

“Mother told me.”

“Mother? Who the gently caress’s Mother?”

He catches Mommy by back of her head. He crushes his brow against hers. Spittle flies from his mouth. “That one of the dykes? Huh? What’ve you done to my little girl?”

“Darling—darling, please, I—”

The slap drops Mommy to the rot. It makes him furious, so he begins to make a mess of her face with the gun.

Alma pulls at his shirt. “Stop!”

He throws the girl to the ground—something pops in her shoulder. There’s no pain. Just a wave of nausea.

She feels the heavy beat before it hits them. The gust of wind smells like rotting leaves.

And then Daddy’s screaming. He clutches at the pain in his face, unthinking—the sound of the gun discharging dazes him.

“Oh,” he says. He drops the gun. Blood pushes through his fingers as he presses them against the absence above his cheek. Mother cranes her head back, sliding Daddy’s eye into her throat. She clatters wetly.

“Wait,” Daddy says. He staggers—

The Mire belches as it swallows him. His hands tear at soggy grass.

“No,” he gurgles. Sludge seeps into his mouth. “Swe-sweety, he-help Da—”

Alma uses her stick to push him down.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

sebmojo posted:

i was literally about to ban you so good timing

You should've—because now you're gonna have to brawl me.

Edit: If you're too busy ThirdEmperor may substitute for you.

Edit: Nope nope nope. I got too excited and forgot a deadline. Please don't respond to my poorly thought out challenge.

Edit: Okay, back in the game.

anatomi fucked around with this message at 22:22 on Mar 7, 2019

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

ThirdEmperor posted:

:getin: hey buuuuuuddy
:sweatdrop: Let's roll, douche canoe.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Antivehicular posted:


I saw some allusions in chat to wanting a generous brawl deadline, so I'll give you one, but in return, I expect you to write in a speculative mode perhaps even beyond human comprehension:

Write a story about an April Fool's Day prank that is not malicious, in awful taste, or otherwise lovely.

1500 words. Deadline April Fool's Day (April 1st), 11:59 PM Pacific. Toxx if you're down.


Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

You there! Get back in line. Sort your papers and collect your crit rations for week 344.

The Sound of Hammers on Glass, Played in a Minor Key - Thranguy
In a week dominated by Assholes in Space it’s nice to read something that eschews science-fiction pomposity for something earthy and spiritual.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but I find the rhyming scheme slightly haphazard. A minor nitpick — I’m not going to fault you for taking a risk that (mostly) does a good job augmenting the metaphysical angle.

But what’s this? There’s no ending. No middle, even. Here I am, innocently reading your words, feeling intrigued by them, maybe even captivated — and then the story just ends. The text doesn’t read as something hastily and sloppily jotted-down, so what happened here exactly?

What’s there is good. But I’d like to read the rest of it.

Wormfood - sebmojo
Well-written, for the most part. Now and then I get caught on a strange line, like “The grass and trees were all gone now, and the children, well”. But then you turn some beautiful and evocative thing and all's forgotten.

I read and I wonder why Yarrow is or is going to be a problem, and it’s never really revealed. Because Teacher is losing control of the group? Show that then. Show the strained group dynamics. I would've liked some tension.

Exchanging the usual world-ending virus or radiation for worms isn’t interesting in itself. The worminess doesn’t modify the familiar premise in any meaningful way, so what’s the point?

The Swineherd Rebellion - Benny Profane
This was my losing pick. I had to slog through it.
It’s so goddamn wordy. In the first sentence we’re introduced to the following Things: the reign of Farmer Bosch, Minister for Cleanliness, the village of Varken, the town of Weesp, bla bla bla…

What makes a story? Words, right? So here you go, dear reader, have all of the words. This story reads like the output of a scat and fantasy-fed neural network with alzheimer's. I can’t track your rambling.

Technically speaking, there’s nothing wrong. You obviously have a good grasp of language in general. But your story is tiring. Maybe there’s the core of something interested buried in the mud here. I don’t know, because my brain smoothed out at the first paragraph.

Bardo 59° - Sitting Here
For some reason I hate the word “beatific”, and you use it twice. But I’m not gonna hold it against you.

I want to like this story more. But it’s too detached. The protagonist doesn't care, so I don’t either. What’s the purpose of the yogis? They don’t really test Terri’s resolve; she doesn’t give a poo poo about them, she’s mildly irritated at worst. There’s hardly any conflict here, within or without.

It’s a shame, because you’re working with some cool ideas here (middle-class hippies attempting to avoid the apocalypse via nirvana? Fun), and some of the language is really nice. Beatific, even.

UnOfficial Baby Rhinos: The African Kingdom Appreciation Group ➤ Admin Pinned Post - The Saddest Rhino
I don’t think protagonists have to be likeable, but they should be interesting. The OP is a shallow stereotype and I don’t care about them.

I think the story’s a fun facsimile. It’s a good capture. But an interesting structure doesn’t make a good story. There’s a drip-feed of an underlying plot, that amounts to what exactly?

I find myself wishing the OP was more upset at the new show. They’re ruining his world, right? His fury/despair would’ve resonated well with the literal razing. Maybe.

Blood Money - Baneling Butts
Political struggles are rarely resolved through dry debates. That’s just the surface work, you know? The stuff beneath all that, the behind-the-scenes machinations — blackmail, cloak-and-dagger operations, the deft vying for influence… That’s the good poo poo. That’s what I want to read.

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t find this story interesting. Most of it is a stale back and forth, and a waste of premium space. You’re doing some compelling world-building here, but it’s wasted in the unimaginative telling.

Long Live the King - Noah
Competently written, but ultimately forgettable. There’s nothing in your story that isn’t well-trodden territory (I know — there’s nothing new under the sun. But at least try).

The beginning threw me. I thought it indicated that the story would play at humor, which it didn’t. Maybe that would’ve set it apart from the other space operas this week.

The Moth - flerp
I’m a sucker for domestic dramas with a sinister edge.

I love the sparse language and the selective use of evocative imagery. Some criticism was raised that the story didn’t hit the theme hard enough. I don’t agree. I feel that the way the protagonist quietly pushes his worldview on their dying partner, while being unable to emphasize with their needs, is plenty authoritarian enough.

My pick for win this week.

The Notary - apophenium
This is an okay character study of a pathological narcissist. The Words are Good — the language is functional. It doesn’t stick out (for better or worse), but you still manage to write some great scenes.

I wish the story had delved into the flash rule more, because I think that expanding on John’s theoretical society would’ve given us a deeper exploration of his character. In contrast, OCD regarding stationary isn’t a shortcut to a compelling character.

Nitpick: why would the nanny just throw away a package like that?

Dear Leader - emgeejay
Fun. Wish I had more to say, but the story doesn’t either.

Huòluàn - Bad Seafood
I guess I like the idea of a cultural disease that offers the cure for a physical one. It’s a decent enough foundation for a story. But the telling of it is too emotionally detached.

The protagonist isn’t even a cliché — he’s empty. The hat at the end isn’t enough.

Being authoritarian doesn’t necessarily mean you’re devoid of internal conflict. The protagonist doesn’t waver when he sentences his grandchild to death. Give me a struggle, engage me.

And what’s the purpose of the phrases in (I assume) Mandarin? Is this some meta-level characterization to emphasize the protagonist’s opposition to the foreign influence, his dislike so strong that it spills over into the telling? Or is it simply to exotify? Either way, I didn’t like it.

Hands of Fate - Joda
There are a lot of perfunctory depictions in this story. “There was a thing. It looked like this. Then something happened. And then another thing happened.” It’s tedious. Pare down your descriptions, and try to have more fun. Imply more. Take some shortcuts.

I think you put the flash rule to good use. You build a pretty interesting world. Unfortunately, you puncture it at the end. I don’t buy the protagonist’s swift turn. It’s undeserved and unbelievable.

TULIP - Staggy
Like Blowout said, you nailed the flash. Structurally, this is the most story-ish story of the bunch, and it’s capably told to boot. It didn’t resonate as much with me as it did with the other judges. I don’t know why; maybe simple because of association to the Space Operatic Suite…

Destroyer of Worlds - SlipUp
The language is overwrought and kinda sloppy — but the way the protagonist drags you into his melodrama is colourful. I’d hesitate to call this a good story, but it’s entertaining. A huge improvement over your last entry.

The Madness that Defines Us - Simply Simon
You maxed out the word limit, but I don’t see why. You could’ve pruned some of the overly long and burdened sentences that ocassionally tangles the flow. Some points are needlessly hammered in (we all know what a gem looks like).

Echoing my criticism of the other space operas; the protagonist is a boring cliché.

There’s some dense world-building here that you hint at just enough. I’m intrigued.

I Have Seen the Light and It Is Beautiful - Viscardus
Felt like there was gonna be some significance to Fear and Hatred, but in the end I couldn’t really see a point to the electric naming.

If you’ve ever met a convert they’re usually not shy to extoll the virtues of their faith/whatever. But your protagonist just wants to die already, without expending the slightest effort to convince his old comrade of anything. A bit boring, especially considering the fascinating premise.

The Truth Shall Set You Free - Doctor Zero
I don’t feel like you incorporated authoritarianism into your story — which, by the way, is overly linear and stilted.

Don’t introduce gods if you’re not gonna do something exciting with them. If you remove the intro, would it detract from the story at all? I don’t think so.

Stars Are Right - crimea
This is the most accomplished entry in the Space Operatic Suite. I think the language is beautiful and a joy to read. You keep the the world-building reined in a nicely balanced suggestive mode.

But the narrator is just another cardboard cutout of an overbearing rear end in a top hat devoid of character. The stock is real high-quality though; got a nice gloss to it.

Talamar the Strong
Honestly my favorite of the Funny Ones. Hits its beats well and true. Made me laugh and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

It’s a breeze to read. It conveys its contents with a kind of effortlessness that I think belies the actual work behind it. I might be wrong. But I liked your story nonetheless.

anatomi fucked around with this message at 14:30 on Mar 13, 2019

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Howdy. I'm in.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Squirm, Love - 999 words

It’s a long and hard ride through the dense nothing of the poo poo. But the beats of the giant worm’s hearts are steadfast. You feel at ease, inside the animal’s flesh. The regular rumblings, the sloshing peristaltics—they’re soothing, time-dissolving. So you swim, content, and you burrow and you crawl through the endless and desolate loam.

The cartilage coffin squeezes down as it breathes in tune with the mighty waves of segmental contraction. Used to be that the sensation of live-burial could hook its jaws at any inopportune time. Make you panicky. Make you draw too much from some slimy air vessel. A fluctuation in the poo poo might then spell dizziness, hallucinations. Happened to all riders, sooner or later—so they found ways to blunt themselves. Might knock down a tonic or two, or smoke unrefined frass.

Not you. Didn’t need it. Not any more.

The compass twitches against your chest. It’s found a new pole. That’d be, what, the ninth shunt?

Getting close to Ochre.

The worm slips into the cave town. You slip out of the worm.

Ochre’s gaslamps and luminous fungi burn prodigiously, but the city isn’t keen on sharing the light. Only a remainder of it, a pallid grey, reaches the skirts to wash the stable.

Echoes are harder to hoard. Yeah—that’s the hustle and bustle of the main winding, for sure. And below it all, the simmering undercurrent of violence. Do you miss it?

You watch the stable boy disconnect the cargotrail and then fumble at the worm’s prostomium. The boy jumps when you snort. “You won’t find a ring. No spurs in the coffin neither.”

He furrows his brow. “But how d’you steer?”

You show him. You clasp your hand over the boy’s, pressing them against the worm.

“Now,” you say. “Tell her—be polite, mind—to go coil in the pit. Think it, real hard.”

A deep creaking reverberates from within the giant animal. And then she moves the earth. The boy can’t contain his wide-eyed wonder. “Did you see that, Mrs? Did you?”

You tussle his hair. Good kid. His changeover should be quick.

“Remember this. Pain is a blunt tool. It always ruins the material.”

The boy looks troubled. “You’re a settler, aren’t you?”

You nod.

“You shouldn’t be here. Aphodine doesn’t like settlers.”

“Who’s Aphodine?”

“Suppose she’s the new sheriff,” the boy says, gazing at Ochre. “Since she went and killed the old one.”

The yeaskey goes down quickly, as does the turn of events.

The tension latches onto the inside of the Shell’s belly like a parasitoid. It grows, displacing the out-of-tune playing of music and cards. Everyone feels it—something’s gonna burst. And no-one wants to be part of the viscera, so the patrons turn deaf and mute. Except for the frass-smokers, who habitually shroud the saloon in spirals of purple smoke and prose.

“I said,” the woman repeats, “look at me when I talk to you.”

The blotchy fire in her eyes tell of the overuse of poorly refined lightdrops. She keeps doing them, the photosensitivity is going to burn a hole in her soul. But then, she doesn’t strike you as the forward-thinking type. Her fingers incessantly tease one of the eager dartsacs hanging from her belt. “What’re you doing here, wormfucker?”

“Need new airstones. We’ve got some choice mushroom to trade, if you’re—”

“Do I look like a fuckin’ peddler?” She taps her chest. The iron star tolls hollowly. “I’m the law. D’you know what that makes you?”


“Well,” you say. The sound of the barstool scraping against the floor is deafening. “May your days be damp, sheriff. I’d best—”

Aphodine’s grip is strong, cruel. She pulls you from the Shell, and throws you into the winding that’s quickly been yielded for violence. You crash into a fatling grub, startling it—it thunders away, emitting knife-sharp gurglings.

Just you and Aphodine; and all of Ochre.

The woman manipulates her dartsacs with a degree of proficiency that’s liable to be infamous. She teases the tips of the bony love darts, cruelly barbed, from the pressure glands. “Pretty, aren’t they? Pa bred ‘em himself.”

One of the ‘sacs lands with a bubbly whimper in the dirt at your feet.

“We don’t want to do this,” you say.

“And there it is—we, we, we. Fuckin’ creepy. I know what you are, wormfucker. Screwin’ with people’s heads.” She spits. “I know.”

“Please. We have mushroom, juicy fruiting bodies—”

“Shut up. Pick it up.”

The heft is simple, intimate. A previous life pushes to the topsoil. You contemplate it calmly, as you walk the steps.

Wait the wait.

Until you and Aphodine find that blink of an eye.

Your speed is monstrous. The realisation reaches Aphodine after your dart.

She falls. You smile a smile that won’t have time to manifest itself, but you find it funny—that the woman’s ‘sac accidentally releases when she lands on it, the dart finding you and

it pushes into your eye, into your brain

scrapes the inside of the back of your skull

your thoughts burst and you pour onto the ground

you’re broken



grip it and pull

more of you spills out, it’s fine

there’re so many of you

so knit, mend the flesh

permeate and rebuild

oh, you don’t need you, but you want you anyway.

You love you.

Before you met you, you were just meat. Now you’re a vector of thought. Now you’re complete.

You drop the gory dart on the ground as you bend down. You scoop up some squirming pieces of you that haven’t yet burrowed down in the regression of disconnect. You push them into the absence above your cheek. It’s fine.

Aphodine’s on her feet. White-faced, she stares at the thing in her shaking hands. The iron star—and buried in its heart, your dart.

“May your days be damp,” you say.

You slip into the worm. The worm slips out of Ochre.

You leave the cargotrail—someone will claim the egg-infused mushroom harvest. Maybe the boy.

Love will disseminate.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Before You Throw it Away, Read - 877 words. Brawl with ThirdEmperor.

It’s mine to hurt, this mess of squirming entrails that I strain across space and time.

That’s no way to begin a letter. Let me try again.

I won’t ask how you are. I know you hate this day. And I know my words will only inflame. I’m sorry. But still
If you didn’t despise me, if I’d been able to fix things, maybe we’d talk.
You’d argue that the jokes aren’t just tired—they’ve been in a state of dull undying for a century. And you’d say that the nature of pranking is inherently mean-spirited anyway, so what’s the loving point of this so-called celebration?
And I’d agree, because I like to agree with you.
We both know it’s really about your mom, and her remembrance. It’s a stupid bad day to die.
In spite of everything, I hope you’re well.
I’m not.
I’m dissolving.

I get that you’re upset with me. I shouldn’t have done what I did to you. I thought I had nothing to lose—I assumed I could go back. Fix it. I still don’t understand why I can’t. I’ve tried for months.

I should tell you about France.
I don’t know exactly where, or when. It’s a market, I know that much. And it’s a long, long time ago.
Just another point in spacetime—but not really. This one is special.
I’ve never dislocated for the sake of another person. You’re my first. And I’m sure you’ll be my last.
The summer market.
The square is pregnant with people, activity seething beneath the heavy lid of overripe air.
Hawkers extol their wares, assurances honed by the grit in their voices. Rot blooms from jilted too-in-the-day meat.
The glint of scales, of fish and brass; the squawks and quacks of fowl; the dead thump against the blood-engorged oak slab; the smell of dreck, of manure; rows of fruits and berries, waxy skins sweating sweetly in the sun.
The flowers and herbs—freshly picked, or dried. I can’t name them, but their cloying signatures curl in the air.
I’m writing this for your benefit. Tourism has never interested me.
I’m here for the origin of a day. And there it is—in the shade of the square’s weeping willow. Two men talking amicably, one of them hiding a secret smile.

You were right, of course—whatever makes me cling to you isn’t love. It couldn’t be; I understand that now. I lack something. Maybe that absence is what lets me dislocate.
It’s not easy. My soul doesn’t want to leave linearity. So I have to hurt it, until it submits.
It seeps into the Confusion, into the infinite spacetime points suspended in brownian motion—points that shift, convulse into lines if you press close. Closer still and the lines all form the same continuous shape.
My soul whines. It’s worn out.
I unfold its intestinal hulk. I stretch it into a skin, and then I submerge it in the Confusion.
I begin to sift. Frayed nerve-endings scream against the friction of non-linear time.
I focus my thoughts on this day and its origin.
It takes a moment—it takes an eternity.
A resonance scrapes against the hide.

The two men struggled through adolescence together. They’re the kind of boisterous men that pulls people into their orbit.
The kind of men I’ve always had to excise. It’s been so hard to keep myself in your life.
One of the friends has come up with a game.
Furtively, he’s pinned a paper fish to the back of the other’s shirt. The rules, and the crowd, seem to grow organically.
It becomes a point to kick the fish-adorned one in the butt—and when he spins around, people exaggeratedly pinch their noses at him.
Eventually he catches on, laughing wildly.
It escalates. Soon a school of paper fish swim through the market, latching onto unwitting backs.
Someone yells something—and the crowd happily picks it up, molds it into a laughing chant. They’re so exuberant. It’s like they know they’ve made something for the ages.
Before any of this can happen I push through my soul’s membrane. I have to violate this point. Only a little. I don’t make any of the old mistakes, I don’t make any drastic changes.
I simply make the man drop the paper fish in the muck.

The fix doesn’t stick. There’s resistance.
The game is replaced by another like it, spawned in the same market—by a pair of seamstresses.
And a magpie steals the the paper cat.
Two students, slightly drunk on cider, find a stray goose.
A sudden gust of wind catches the feather.
Aga⠀ and again I fix it, my soul howling with the pain.

I haven’t made it stick—not y⠀t. But I can tell I’m wearing down time’s resolve. The point is bruised, spongy. It’s gon⠀ give, I can feel it. I just have to keep pushing.
My soul is a shr⠀elled thing now, desiccated an⠀ brittle. I don’t c⠀⠀.

I’m go⠀⠀ lea⠀e this letter in y⠀ur letterbox. And th⠀ I’m gon⠀ disloc⠀e one l⠀⠀ time.

It should ⠀a good one ⠀it works, but ⠀ou’ll never ⠀ow. So: “Ap⠀l fools.”

I ⠀⠀I could’ve ⠀⠀back an⠀ un⠀ what I ⠀⠀. I ⠀⠀’t feel ⠀⠀ry, not re⠀⠀—I mean, I ⠀re ⠀⠀I’ve⠀hurt you.⠀⠀⠀.⠀ But ⠀⠀ re⠀⠀.



You don’t understand. Inside the envelope is just an empty paper.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Fleta Mcgurn posted:

oh god loving dammit, can I fix that?
I don't think so, not until after judging.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Fleta: Discord and IRC.

Dragging my rear end across the carpet.


Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Passing Note
941 words. (:toxx:

The Song is this—the bite that ruptures the fat summer calf’s belly, a twitching exhalation delivering fecund-steaming green; the steady dragging-down of a crowned one’s flanks, frayed bellowing bleeding onto rotting leaves. It is the scent of Her, and of Him.

Together the Song lope the wrinkles winding between ancient crags and trees, marking places that stink of power—a crumbling boar-bole, stung by past bouts of strength-contests; a black-glittering peak, basking bare beneath a rare hole in the canopy; an enormous crooked tusk from a god-that-shakes-the-earth, fading into the thick moss.

The Song’s territory is heavy with flesh, so Rupturing Green and Sinking Crown kill often. They gorge only on the richest entrails, leaving cause for worship among the scavengers. Rupturing Green growls at the dark cloud that incessantly follows the Song. But Sinking Crown, tired from the hunt and the fatty intestines, rests on his rock. He watches the clever black birds as they click and caw into another easy meal.

The Song’s strength grows with the pack inside Rupturing Green. Beneath a swollen moon the other territories cry for the coming of the Song’s blessed tyranny. It will exact from the Land, and make life hard—and in the end the struggle will make all kin stronger.

But the howling is supplanted by a roar. It’s far too late in the season—yet Fire’s world-razing snakes slither acrid through the Land, flaking scales of black and ember. It’s the Many-Skins, the Song realizes.

The Many-Skins have caged Fire. Now they set her upon the Land, reshaping it, as they reshape all things. The Lands flesh is burnt, and waning. Starving, the other packs disperse into the mating of sky and earth, to find hunting grounds in the far unknown.

The Song remains. Rupturing Green and Sinking Crown fought hard for their territory—it’s theirs. They will keep fighting for it, even as it is now, wilted by proximity to the desiccating den of the Many-Skins.

The Land can no longer support the Song. Rupturing Green worries that the pack will be borne weak. If at all.


The boar was fat and slow and pitifully tuskless. The Song managed to eat its fill, before the sound of a clumsy two-legged gait gave warning in the breaking dawn. Rupturing Green, heavy with meat and life, lags behind. She catches one of the strange noises being thrown at her. The Many-Skins have a grunt and a whine for all things, pregnant with meaning. And this sound, stinking with fear, is the Song and its kin.

The Many-Skins try to outsmart the Song. Sometimes they succeed, and Rupturing Green and Sinking Crown must stalk away in the night with empty bellies. But the Song is clever, too—it learns how to recognize and ignore a fake Many-Skin, and how to sneak past the real one.

For a moon the Song hunts in this manner, taking another boar here, or a bird there. Although Rupturing Green and Sinking Crown don’t have to starve, they feel worn—they start to sense that it would be less effort to take one of the Many-Skins’ cubs.

And then one wanders into their territory—alone.

The red-maned cub moves deliberately, burdened by the heavy skin over her shoulder. The Song smells the feast long before the cub begins to unfurl it on the loam; the Song hears the cub’s trembling whine, the invocation of the terrified sound that means they—Rupturing Green and Sinking Crown, the Song, and their kin.

Rupturing Green tightens the circle around the cub, snarling and snapping at her until she wets herself.

Sinking Crown examines the meat. It’s almost spoiled. But edible. And easy.


It’s always the same cub that brings the tribute. She grows used to the Song, and loses some of her fear. Sinking Crown watches from a rock as the cub closes the gap between predator and prey by pampering Rupturing Green with choice giblets. One day, the cub is close enough to reach out with a hand and touch fur. To the Song’s surprise, it lets her.

The Song grows complacent under the care of the Many-Skin cub. Its touch is warm and caring—in a way as nourishing and lulling as the meat. Rupturing Green finds that she likes to have her strained belly gently rubbed. And Sinking Crown, he falls asleep when the cub scratches a particular place right on top of his head. The Song forgets to keep its muzzle to the wind.

Death lumbers through the thicket. A wet snout tries the air, huffing forcefully—thick slobber splatters to the ground. He’s big, but strangely thin this close to his long winter sleep. The Song backs away, hit by the stench of an injury that never healed.

They won’t fight Old Wound for the tribute. He can have it.

But he rumbles past the half-rotting meat, his festering grief set for the Many-Skin cub.

What is it to the Song? A distraction. So Rupturing Green will let Old Wound have the cub and—

—and Rupturing Green is tearing at the inflamed hind leg. Pus and spittle flies as Old Wound roars, rending a giant paw at Rupturing Green. She tries to dodge, but she’s too heavy and slow. The Song inside will die with her.

But the swing shrivels and falls short. Sinking Crown has latched onto Old Wound’s side. Rupturing Green attacks again, ripping open the festering mess.

As Old Wound escapes, trailing pain and blood after him, the Song feels that it has lost something. But it doesn’t know what.


The sound the cub makes was once ladened with fear. But the Many-Skins reshape everything.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Oh gee. Oh gosh. I really shouldn't. But...

Please gently caress me up. I'm in.

Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

Week #349: A Stroll Through the Archives


Your goon is WeLandedOnTheMoon!

Edit: Anatomi has also asked for a flash and now gets “Chute.”

Trash Baby
1083 words

Tired routine wears down all edges, Benny told himself. He was sure the words wouldn’t hurt too much.

“You’re disgusting, Benny,” said Karin, trying to fix things. In a moment of their workmanlike loving the friction had somehow bred a warmth that could’ve passed for real—and a small intimacy had escaped her mouth.

Karin eyed her mouth in the hallway mirror, carefully evening out the hysteric pink. “Disgusting and worthless.” Satisfied, she popped her lips. “Don’t forget that.”

“I know. I won’t,” said Benny.

“Good. Kiss me goodbye.”

The smell of lavender and sex was smothering. But Benny was dutiful. Didn’t want to lose the apartment. It was his only for as long as he didn’t fall off the wagon—which, truth be told, he’d never got on in the first place.

The social office didn’t know that. Benny didn't ask how Karin kept her colleagues in the dark.

All Benny knew was that he couldn’t hack it at the collective housing—too many hollow eyes and swinging guts full of bile. He desired privacy in his self-destruction.

Karin didn’t really ask for much in return.


The cold can in Benny's hand anchored him. He peered over the open fridge door at the kitchen table. The lively yellows and blues of the flowers in the highballer glass looked wrong.

“It’s Midsummer,” Karin had said, pink lips straining against a strangely expectant smile.

Benny grabbed the flowers and threw them in the sink—and a heady scent of meadow hit him.

He was in his mom’s lap, cradled by strong arms dappled by freckles and sunlight. He grasped at his mom’s rough fingers as they delicately weaved seven kinds of summer blooms. Benny felt a warm whisper stroke the top of his head.

“gently caress,” Benny said over the sink, tears on his face. He cracked the first beer.

Two, three, four. Seven. Eight. But the memory refused to drain with the drink.

“Alright, mom,” Benny said. He fished out the pocketknife.

He swore thickly through the haze whenever he got a cut from the aluminum ribbons—twisting them got harder with the drinking, so he swore prodigiously.

But in the end Benny was happy. The silver wreath turned out kind of beautiful.


Benny broke into his neighbour’s storage and found a pair of leather shoes. Turned out they looked nice enough to fund an unscheduled trip to the store.

Benny was sweating through his good shirt, but he hoped the soap from that morning’s shower would mask the smell. The girl at the counter even smiled at him, until she saw the three bottles of Absolut in his cart.


Benny gripped the toilet rim, feeling like his eyes were going to burst from the sisyphean dry heave. He retched and spat nothing, but felt the taste of blood.

He couldn't throw up. He couldn’t breathe. A vein in his forehead throbbed violently. He couldn’t breathe.

He felt sad. He’d told his mom he wouldn’t go like this, like the old man. But Benny had entered the world a broken promise, and if he left as one—well, it was kind of poetic.

Something grew in his gut.

It was too hard, too big, the thing that scraped its way up through his throat and pushed into his mouth, grinding mercilessly against his molars. His jaws distended, and popped—and then the something dropped into the water, clinking to the porcelain.

He rested his head on the cold rim, gratefully gasping for air. And then the sick finally came.


As soon as he'd scooped it out, Benny abandoned the thought that it was a monstrous kidney stone took the wrong turn.

Benny knew. Knew with a comfortable certainty, like the feeling you get after the first swallow that everything’s going to realign, that the egg couldn’t be anything but. Strange as it looked—size of a fist and black as motor oil.

Benny admired the shell’s toxic-rainbow glisten under the light of the kitchen table lamp.

The egg was cold at first, but something inside seemed to respond to Benny’s touch with a growing warmth. He smiled.

“What should I do, mom?”

Beneath a layer of nicotine dust and overdue bills, something glinted.

The wreath did look like a nest, Benny thought.


“I’m not feeling so good,” Benny said to the pink lips that hissed at him through the crack of the door.

“I saw you, Benny,” said Karin. “At the square. Picking through trash. Have you stopped drinking?”

“No. I mean, yes. But it’s—it’s not delirium. Actually, I’m fine?” said Benny, confused at the realization that he hadn’t had a drop in days. “And it’s not trash. Achmed gave me some bubble wrap. It's insulating.”

"What happened to your hands?" said Karin, noticing the checkered array of bandaids on Benny as he failed to shut the door.

“What? Oh, it wasn't big enough, I had to—Karin, please.”

Her foot had wedged in sure. “It’s been weeks, Benny.”

“I know.”

“If you can’t keep your commitments—I mean, as your social worker I should make a note of this, you know.”

“But I was—I was just sick. I am sick. Next week, I’ll be better.”

“One little note, Benny. And you’re back on the street. Is that what you want?”


“Good. I don’t want that either. Now, you’re making me feel like a fool out here. Open the door.”

“No. Please, just—”

"Oh." Karin’s eyes narrowed. “Is someone here?”

Her fingers hooked white over the edge of the door.

“What? No, wait—”

In a moment Karin had pushed through,

“Please, don’t! Let’s just—the sofa, we can—”

and in another she was in the bedroom.

Karin’s feet disappeared in the crinkly mess. Plastic bags, bubble wrap and styrofoam peeked through a sea of aluminum.

“What is this, Benny?” whispered Karin. “What is that?”

Weeks worth of bloody-fingered weaving covered most of the bed. The nest wall was as dense as a hedge, silver ribbons intermeshed with soft plastics, spirals descending into the centre where a black something, the size of a beach ball—

“No!” cried Benny, throwing himself into the nest. He hugged the egg, shielding it with his body. “Don't touch my baby!”

Karin’s pink-lipped mouth worked in dull silence.

“What the gently caress,” she finally said.


Benny wrapped himself around the egg, whispering loving nothings into its black shell. Warming it, nurturing it—like he’d been doing over the last few weeks.

Benny felt something good and uncomplicated pour back into him.


Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!

I'm so in. Flash. Quote.

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