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steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







apophenium posted:

Me and the rat wanna fight. Someone judge it.

What is going on today? Lotta fightin' words.

I didn't even notice this because of the rest of the challenges being chucked about - so that's what you're gonna write about.

I want interpersonal conflict at the heart of a raging hurricane. I want two people at loggerheads amidst a rolling tavern brawl.

But like, not literally unless that's what you want - it's more of a metaphor.

I want you to write about a conflict between two central characters that unfolds amidst - and for them, overshadows - a broader conflict/event/chaotic upheaval.

Give it to me fast and dirty, 800 words. 1 week 2 weeks from today (let's call it 4.30pm Wednesday, New Zealand Time) - or not if you cats have entered this week, I'm not going to check. I'll tsk and extend it to two weeks if you were foolhardy enough to throw down for a brawl as well as a dome entry.

Edit:

Antivehicular posted:

THUNDERDOME WEEK CCCXXXVII: A Dark and Stormy 2019

Entrants
1. Pham Nuwen
2. crabrock :toxx:
3. apophenium
4. anatomi
5. Thranguy
6. Lippincott
7. SlipUp :toxx:
8. Bolt Crank
9. QM Haversham
10. Bad Seafood
11. onsetOutsider
12. Sham bam bamina!

loving tsk

steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at 03:42 on Jan 16, 2019

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steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







anatomi posted:

Gods. Is this dank den usually so brawly?

Right?

Someone fight me. I dares ya.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







flerp posted:

hello this week's prompt sucks ill fight u :toxx:

Yeah (I mean, it doesn't, I just didn't want to do it)! :toxx:

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Saucy_Rodent posted:

La familia orfeo, please.

I did not forget, I just felt really guilty about it for a very long time. Here is crit:

Carmina had been worried that her family would be too embarrassed by the manner of her death to put her photo on the living room ofrenda, but there it was, right in the center and bigger than all the rest. There’s got to be a less clumsy way to say this. You have four ideas to convey - Carmina’s worry, the likelihood of family embarrassment, the need for a photo in the ofrenda, and the photo itself. That’s a lot. Carmina thought they'd use one of the pictures from her quinceañera, but instead they'd chosen a picture of Carmina laughing genuinely, taken while she wasn't looking. The family itself wasn't as somber as Carmina was accustomed to them being on the Day of the Dead. Instead, they were busying themselves with the wiring on a strange metallic wheel. Mamá, usually seen making everyone else feel guilty about not respecting the dead and eating too much candy, was sliding glowing green cannisters into receptacles in the side of the wheel, and Papá was tinkering with the battery instead of insisting he wasn't that drunk on the mezcal. This is a super long sentence. It kinda works, but also could have had the same effect if you split it in two before Papá

Carmina approached her older brother David. He was pouring deep-red powder into a gadget the shape of a tuning fork. He called something out to the rest of the family, but Carmina couldn't hear it. Living language had become muted and indistinct when she died. She called out his name, though she knew he would hear her as well as she had heard the ghosts on Days of the Dead past.

"David, I am here. Every year we did this ”this” refers to too much at this point, it could mean the whole glowing green canister and tuning fork business - aim for clarity and watch for ambiguity when using words like “this”, I thought it was a game, but I'm here now." But David continued filling the bizarre wandsThis is the bit where on firtst reading I felt you’d fallen too far down your gadget description hole - in reality I don’t think you have, but it might still work better if David only verbed a bit here, instead of verbing on the bizarre nouns. He can be busy with something, but you don’t need to hammer the ghost machine home here, I get it already.

Carmina wanted her family to say something to her, even if she couldn't understand it. She would know from their cadence and their tears if they were allowing her the forgiveness this four word thing jams up the whole sentence - you’re conveying a concept that’s good to convey, but it doesn’t pay off. Consider rewording to streamline she didn't deserve. Instead, they kept diligently working on the machine.

Papá said something with the tone of a question. Mamá nodded. David handed each of his parents a tuning fork, keeping one for himself. Mamá, Papá, and David gathered in a circle.

"What are you doing?" Carmina shouted, going through her parents into the center of the circle. "Why are playing with this toy? I've been gone all of two months, and these machines are more important than my memory?"

And of course they ignored her spirit amongst them as much as they did her picture on the ofrenda. Each held their tuning fork to their temple. Though Carmina couldn't hear their words, she knew they were counting down together.

"What are you doing? Have you forgotten me?" Carmina cried as she read David's lips. Tres...dos...uno…... the ‘why aren’t you thinking about me’ doesn’t line up with the ‘I am surprised they’re not ashamed’ tone you set this story up with..

There was a bright red flash. When it had cleared, Mamá, Papá, and David still faced the middle of the circle, but their eyes were focused more specifically, their jaws agape, their eyes wide. Mamá was the first to speak.

"Oh, Carmina, thank God you're here. We knew you'd come." She started to weep.

"Mamá, Papá, David," said Carmina. "You can see me. You can hear me."

"We don't have much time," said David. "We need to get to business."

"I'm so sorry..." started Carmina.

"It doesn't matter. None of that matters," yeah, but like - it does? I want to see more of this grappled with rather than vaguely waved at. They’re cardboard mum, dad and brother without it said David. "A couple days after you diedpoo poo, that was lucky.., scientists announced they had discovered a new form of energy that the human consciousness is made out of. It leaks out of the brain after we die. But without the brain to keep it in place, the energy doesn't hold together very long. So when we die, we get a few months of..." He gestured towards Carmina. "But don't worry, sister."

"How can you see me?"

Papá held up one of the tuning forks. "These let our brains detect the energy you're made of for a few minutes."

"You have no idea what we went through to get our hands on the batteries to use these and the Stabilizer just once," said David. "Mamá got lucky on a scratcher, we sold all the cars, I know a guy at the university, I made a deal with some... it doesn't matter. What matters is you're here now, and we have an Ectoenergetic Stabilizer." He pointed to the giant wheel. "That will keep your ectoenergy together for another year. And then, next year, we'll figure out how to make the money to do it again. And again after that. We're going to keep you alive."

"No!" said Carmina. "This family will not go broke so I can be an invisible ghost."

"Carmina, were you here when we heard the news that you died?" yelled Mamá. Carmina shook her ghostly head. "This house was a tomb. When we learned that you were still here in this form, there was no question."

Carmina felt herself weeping, though her astral body had no water to expel. "I'm so sorry."

"We had so many chances to help you," said Papá. "And we just yelled at you every time. We're sorry." this dialogue is shorter, and worth so much more than your ‘you don’t know what we went through’ guilt trip - this is interesting, the other stuff not so much

"Look, Carmina. The money's already spent. Stay with us just one more year. We won't do it again," said David.

Carmina nodded. "And then you'll keep me alive in the same way we've been keeping family alive for centuries," she said, looking at the ofrenda. She stepped into the wheel.

"Stay around the house," said Mamá. "Just so we know you're with us."

"What do I look like to you?" Carmina asked as David activated the Stabilizer.

"You're wearing the dress you would wear to church," said Mamá. "You're so beautiful."

Carmina smiled gently. "I love you all so much."

The wheel ignited in vibrant green lights, spinning faster and faster. And as her family's voiced faded back into a muted blur, the emerald lights blended together in spectacular harmony. As she faded from their sight, Carmina looked proudly upon her family and felt a wonderful togetherness, a feeling of being made whole.

So, I said it in my judgefarts, and I think it bears repeating here. Look at the agency you give Carmina in this story. She stands in the middle of a room frustrated at her inability to express agency - she’s powerless while a scene unfolds around her. Then you make her manifest, and she’s all “here’s the thing I want” and they’re all “no, you want this instead because it’s what we want” and she’s all “okay then”. There needed to be more friction here imho

Solitair! I haven't forgotten yours either - incoming soon.

edit: This was for week 330, benevolent record-keepers.

steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at 23:19 on Jan 17, 2019

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Alright, clearing my conscience for week 330, all sorted now.

Solitair posted:

Yes please.
Ok, here you go, a crit of Me and My Shadow:

A spindly, callus-caked hand clapped Aelfred on the shoulder as he turned to leave The Buckler and Blade. He whipped his head around and saw a man who looked like he'd been in one border skirmish too many. The man smiled kindly at him, but the split lip and the eyes glancing in opposite directions made reassurance difficult. "Scuse me, might I 'ave a word, young man?" he mumbled.I like this open - I know where I am, who the players are, and the tone you’re working with for the rest of the piece

Aelfred was a quiet, unassuming lad who fidgeted and preferred to blend in with the crowd. The antics of his friend Rurik sometimes made that impossible, but this tough wasn't from 'round here and wouldn't know about Rurik. What could he want with them? "Gotta go fetch more brandy, sir," Aelfred mumbled.lost a bit of pace on this para though - I don’t have many suggestions for how you’d do this better, beyond maybe finding a different way to introduce Rurik. Because you wrote the anime thing where they snap zoom in on the eyes of the protag and go “WHAT COULD HE WANT?” “DOES HE KNOW?” - none of us do, this is just weightless without the why behind his emotional reaction

He expected the man to tighten his grip, to insist on talking with a sharper voice. Instead, the man shrugged and let go. "Right, you do that." He pointed to an empty table on the balcony, which other patrons had ignored throughout the night. "I'll be there when you two get back."recovered well though, this is better pace.

An hour later, Aelfred finished unloading barrels into the storeroom and discovered the owner had no more errands for him and Rurikthe above “antics of his friend Rurik” stuff doesn’t quite sit with this - they’re either joined at the hip and Rurik is obvious, or they’re not and Rurik therefore isn’t also doing errands for the inn - not to spoil your reveal, but you don’t seem to have settled on whether it is RurikandAelfred or RurikisAelfredisRurik at this point. A glance into the main area confirmed that the deformed man sat where he promised he would, leaning on the railing and tilting back a mug of ale. Perhaps a few words wouldn't hurt.

The deformed man lowered his mug and saw Aelfred sitting across from him. "Westhan Cleft, at'cher service. Who might you be?" watch your accents for consistency - you used ‘ave earlier, so this would more likely a “oo” than a “hoo”.

"Aelfred, son of Orrin." He looked at the wall instead of Westhan's gazeyou probably return the gaze - bit hard to look at the invisibile vision vector.

Westhan nodded. "And the spook? Come on, don't be shy."

A disorienting wave washed through Aelfred. He was there and not there, watching himself lean forward and glare at Westhan with a face he could never wear on his own. "Rurik, son of Beltane, and I ain't a spook."when I first read this, you had the element of surprise - I thought then, and still think, that this was a strong conceit to work with. Knowing where you’re going though, and reading closely, I think you could have done a better job of the reveal - starting with the second para. Experiment to try, carve out everything that is a bit *taps nose* or suggests withheld information - write it as what we assume Westhan or any other observer sees. Then see if this para reveal works, and add back sparingly anything you think is essential to the payoff.

That got a laugh out of Westhan. "Of course, my mistake. Pleased to meet you both." He shook Rurik's hand, then let go of Aelfred's.nice.

-----

Whatever matter brought Westhan to Rothfard-on-Whist, it allowed him to spend plenty of time with his new friends. They met at the Buckler and Blade the next day and the day after. In the streets that night,I mean, I know this is fantasy town, but you’re talking about a young lad becoming fast friends with a wizened old codger - people will side-eye that stuff generally, would maybe have been good to acknowledge with a “despite the bleh bleh bleh” or similar. You could use those extra words you cut by not trying to be clever in your opening paras. Aelfred let slip the tale of how Rurik lost his body in an accident. He probably want to chuck a past perfect ‘had’ up in this lingered slowly, long enough for Aelfred to taste despair, and when a local hedge mage offered a solution, Aelfred took it without thinking twice.yeah nah, you need to look at these tenses again - you’re working on two points in time in the past, but using the same tense for both

"He asked a lot of you," Westhan said, looking like he'd smelled blood in the air. "More'n anyone should ask a babe that age. Didn't your sires warn you about strange magicians and their tricksy deals?"

Aelfred clenched his hands and looked down at his feet. "I wasn't thinking. How could I? Rurik's my best friend, the reason I believe I can do anything worth a toss, then and now. Losing him would hollow me out and leave me to wither in the wind. I'd have See, Aelfred knew what tense it should have been in paid any price to stay with him."

"We offered our souls to no agents of discord," Rurik said. "Old Phelan meant well. He'd seen us born, and weren't about to see me dead."

Westhan twisted his lips further. "That may be, but good intentions ain't worth a pot to piss in. Did 'e know what 'is spell means for you down the line? Do you?"

Silence. They walked down the cobblestones, switching faces, caught between wanting to rebuke him and lacking the words.

Their sullen confusion I get it, but this feels clumsy/incongruous wording? made Westhan sigh. "Let me ask this, then: do either of you regret it? Would you take it back if you had the chance?"

Rurik shook his head right away. "No, sir. I cherish whatever kind of life I have.stroppy headstrong Rurik sure knows how to talk like a suck-up when he wants.. feels a bit ‘in-world’ but out of character Right, Aelfred?"

More silence.

"Right, Aelfred?"

"It's been hard, to be sure," Aelfred said. "Most people think Rurik's dead, on account of the grave, an' you know what they call me behind my back?"

"Aelfred Touched-in-the-Head," Westhan said. "Word travels fast here."this is the angle to introduce Aelfred’s problems with in that second para I reckon - not fidgeting and Rurik, just being known as the town weirdo.

Aelfred winced. "Yes. What's more, I'll never have a moment to myself again, and with everything Rurik wants to do, there I am, a millstone 'round his neck."

"Ugh, I keep telling you, that's not—" Rurik said.

"Alright, you've made your point," Westhan said. "We're almost there. I've a mind to show you something."

-----

They came upon a cairn in the fields to the outskirts of town. It was roughly spherical, melted together with magic. The ground around it still bore scorch marks.

"When I were your age, the lords conscripted me in a war that didn't need fightin'. I made an' lost more friends than I can count, and not a once did a mage tell me I coulda kept their souls close like yours did."

Rurik walked up to the cairn and felt the smooth, lumpy surface, catching sight of a carved sigil. "Sorry for your loss," he said. "I can't say we'll be half as good to you as them, 'specially if you mean to chide us for our condition."

"'twasn't my intention," Westhan mumbled. "I ain't had much practice talkin' to people this long. Not many want the company of Westhan Cleft. But we ain't got nothin' if not other people, and you two looked sorely deficient in that regard, just as I am. You got each other, an' thank your lucky stars for that, but mayhap this town ain't rich enough soil for you to bloom together."

"You want us to leave? With you?"

Westhan nodded. "Might be opportunities out there, people who'd understand your situation. I know a mage or two might be able to give your souls a looking-over. Or you could haul barrels for pay." He shrugged and leaned against the cairn.

Rurik looked down and chuckled. "What say you, Ael? Should we give—"

"Yes!" Aelfred's face beamed, the brightest he'd looked since meeting Westhan.

"Good," Westhan said. "I have such wonders to show you."I’d cut this, feels twee. Or creepy. Either way, not as exciting as Aelfred being happy. There’s a balance to be struck between trying to write ‘fantasy dialogue’ and accidentally writing ‘Jane Eyre and SinjinSaintSinjin having a tea in the drawing room’.

I originally said something like: “I think this was the strongest fantasy conceit yet - but you didn't do heaps with it. The ending was competent, but felt twee. I feel like you could have done more with the conflict and Ael’s actions. “
I think that still stands. Your story beats were good - but if you break the Aelfred/Rurik relationship out what happens is 1) starting point of equilibrium 2) outside force imbalances it 3) conflict between Aelfred and Rurik is revealed they might fi - 4) outsider has a plan, everyone’s cool. Might have been good to see 3)’s conflict drawn out a little further with actual consequences to resolve in the last act. Otherwise, pretty rad, tight story. Didn’t rock my world or stir much in the way of emotion for me - so was middle of the pack rather than top - but it was a competent, pleasant read

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Pham Nuwen posted:

Saucy_Rodent is currently probated, so he emailed me his story for this brawl.

brawl words

Oi apophenium - I know we said two weeks, but let's not let things fester. Saucy_Rodent's story is in early - and I'm going to assume somewhat accidentally. I think it's because being banned means you lose the ability to check the prompt?

Pretty sure it works like that. Anyway, be a good sport and get some words in soon, yeah? I won't penalise if you decide to ride this out til the 30th (4.30pm NZT) but I'll fuckin' tsk at you again.

Saucy_Rodent, don't you dare retract/edit.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Sitting Here posted:

:siren: Flerptoedsneakers Brawl! :siren:

You can each, additionally, optionally, request a prohibitive flashrule from me. But only a prohibitive one.


hit me

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







:siren:apopRodent brawl results:siren:

Man, ok. So these are both fine. I’m working through a longform crit, but your respective honours are on the line so I thought I better judgement was speedy judgement.

Saucy_Rodent you gave me 704 words that started to slow as they progressed. I feel like you had a powerful image in your head and extrapolated out from there - a woman arguing with a man from the pulpit (these things have names, you see) in a church. As far as imagery goes it’s a good one, but I think you could have rebalanced where you spent your words: I a) didn’t get enough of a sense of what the coming world-ender actually was to care to care about its imminent arrival, and b) didn’t really give a poo poo about the Mary and Paul. Less time exposition through dialogue, more time things actually happening, I reckon. You gave me the moment before the world ends, what if you set this in the moment it actually does?

apophenium you gave me 791 words trudging through some sociopathic CEO’s origin story. I kinda liked your folksy narrator voice (“Johhny’d”) you set up - but then I think you forgot it? Also you don’t make enough of the fact your warring Hatfield/McCoy dudes are both called Malcolm. I don’t feel like you gave me much in the way of satisfying narrative here, your story was “oh here’s a dickhed -> woah lookout he’s also a bully -> will he be rich dickhead bully one day? makes u think”, slowly drip-feeding the extent of his unlikeability. Set him up nasty early, and then throw a spanner in the works to overcome - don’t give him such an easy ride. You gave me the story before the story, wouldn't some of the 'petulant but vicious kid attempts to run family farm with iron fist' be more interesting?

Neither of these stories would win a dome week. I don’t think either of them would lose either, you’ve both given me middle-of-the-road stories and that’s made picking a winner difficult. That said, apophenium takes the win, while I wasn’t satisfied with your ending, you kept enough momentum going throughout to keep me interested.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Sitting Here posted:

:siren: Flerptoedsneakers Brawl! :siren:
Words: Up to 1200 words of ineffable sorrow
Deadline: Wednesday, January 30th, by 11:59:59 PST
hanker sore
adj. finding a person so attractive it actually kinda pisses you off.
flash: your story can't take place on earth


Xenia
1150 words

Perlus Tigistus knew there was more to life than spreading space fascism through the galaxy in gigantic flying war cathedrals. He knew it deep within his plascrete-plated bones. In the steam room, that deep knowledge bled from his bones and spread through his humours, stewing in the hot, dense nanobot soup coursing through his veins. Perlus had to say something to his battlebrother. He couldn’t hold this in anymore, he cleared his tensor-reinforced throat and spoke as low as his booming field command voice would allow.

“Have you ever, uh . .um, do you..” He sighed. Closed his eyes once in quiet preparation and ripped off the bloodgauze. “Listen, Stadiel. I think I want to be with a razorchitin.”

Stadiel kept his steely gaze fixed to the floor. He was identical to Perlus in every way, save a millennia of combat scars unique to each. Stadiel, Perlus and all their brothers were genetically bred not just for horrific violence, but for both tactical and strategic split-second decision-making to best direct horrific violence. For Stadiel, this did not seem to be a transferable skillset.

After what felt like a decade to Perlus, Stadiel spoke. His voice was even and steady, but the edges, the silences between words, they bucked and growled like a battle-hungry beast.

“Perlus. You are not attracted to the Razorchitin. We are soldiers of the federation, the pinnacle of a centuries of research and battle experience. We do not have ‘attractions’, and we do not have them for the filth that seeks to spread itself across the universe.”

“Yes but-“

Stadiel rose, bristling, and turned on Perlus . “No, Perlus. Control your temperaments. Light the fire as you were trained. Burn off the phlegm and bile and ignite your choler for the Razorchitin. We drop in 4 hours man, get ahold of yourself and do not speak of this again.”

He left a massive, palm-shaped crater on the steam room door as he burst through it, striding down the corridor as if to escape Perlus’s strange appetites.

Perlus spent the following hours in a fog, having exposed his neuropiston-assisted heart to his battlebrother and then watching it crushed under a platesteel boot. He floated through drop-prep in a bubble of protective introspection - shouts, clanks, engines and fire muted and distant.

And then he was falling. Falling into a sea of flame and rage. War-chems pumped through his armour and into his bloodstream in escalating doses, until Perlus was one with the raging, roiling tide of his brotherhood.

The surface of Mortis IV was a mess of angry, sharp features - long spikes of rock erupting at all angles from a surface torn by deep canyons. It was perfect. Soldiers lit the dusk sky with arcing tracer fire, flame jets and explosives. Wave upon wave of yellow plate armour surged up and out of the deep ruts the drop pods had carved into the ground.

Perlus crested a small hill, taking stock of the battlefield. The sea of yellow crashed into a sea of blue, arthropodic armour ahead of him. Perlus roared, raised his sword and oversized sidearm and charged into the churning mess of blood and thunder.

There they were. 9 foot crustacean warriors, overlapping plates of deep blue armour cascading down their slender backs, past four thick legs and ending in a magnificent tail that shimmered in the dying light. Muscular tentacles wrapped around weapons, around foes, contorting and flexing beneath smooth, azure skin. Small black eyes that could swallow the world set atop twitching, searching antennae.

Perlus had less than a second to take in their beauty, before he was sent sprawling sideways, his suit activating another shot of war-chems in response to the attack. He roared afresh, rolling to his feet and digging his heels in to slow the momentum of the hit.

The ground rumbled its misgivings as the mortar shells hit. Not yet dialed into the the atmospheric conditions, they landed short - ripping holes in the front line. One landed to Perlus’s left just as he regained his footing the blastwave sending him hurtling toward a canyon edge along with his attacker and a mist of blood and viscera.

He awoke hours later in a pile of rubble, the night sky a pinpricked sliver of light far above. His vision adjusted for the pitch black surrounds quickly, revealing a rocky creek bed and sparse foliage. Further down the creek he caught a faint shimmer of blue in the starlight.

Combat drugs completely flushed from his system, he found himself drawn to it. Following the gentle curve of the royal blue backplates up from the tail, he could see that the razorchitin was on its side facing away from him. He allowed his eyes to play up and down the exquisite exoskeleton before being shaken out of his reverie as the tail twitched. The razorchitin groaned, a low husky murmur bouncing through the narrow canyon.

Perlus stood and went toward the razorchitin. Various pistons and compressors in his suit failing to fire, he carried the full weight of his armour on his bruised, but uninjured body. He popped the release on the parts still intact, and prised the rest off as he strode up the creek bed.

He towered over the prone razorchitin. Perlus followed the line of their armour around across the place where he assumed a shoulder was, the line continuing down a tentacle and coming to rest under a large boulder. The razorchitin, sensing his imposing presence, rolled back as best it could to look up at him, deep black eyes fearlessly returning his gaze.

Perlus gently placed a hand on the plate armour near their head, as reassuringly as he could and then stepped around the razorchitin to the boulder. Even without power-armour it was trivial to heave the mass of rock from their tentacle. Underneath, bloodied and twitching it writhed, seeking a comfort in all directions that never came. The razorchitin groaned again, bringing their other tentacle around protectively.

Perlus knelt slowly and reached out to console them. He hushed them softly.

“Shhh. It’s okay, I’m not going to hurt you.” He laid a big meaty palm above the shoulder of the injured appendage, and looked into their eyes. “Just.. just rest now.”

They held his gaze and brought their unscathed tentacle around, it tensed briefly then rested atop his hand as the razorchitin passed out on the banks of the creek. Perlus could feel the plates gently expand and contract as they slept.

Looking up, he saw the first reds and oranges of dawn singe their way across the dark blue sliver of sky above him. In 36 hours command would send retrievers to the battlefield for his and his brothers’ genememories and organs, following trackers in his armour.

For now though, he felt a peace. A quiet that radiated out from the smooth limb resting on his hand. Perlus smiled.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







In. Hit me in the retina-gel with that flash.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







:toxx:

In.

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







I'd assume that's a failure; I generally know by the Thursday that I don't have time to write over the weekend - I just don't clutter up the thread with "sorry I won't be able to this week".

Source: I fail lots.

Is it the head judge, the throne or the archives that have jurisdiction there? Either way I'd say IRC is the place to hash out a toxx dodge, rather than the thread..

Ideally we'd all be less impulsive and consider whether we have time vs is the theme cool. Lookin at you Cyberpunk week.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Djeser posted:

Week 259 crits

Oh wow! Good job, Djeser - and thanks for the crit!

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







gently caress it, in.

That'll be my 16th entry binches! Aww yeah. That's right, Yoru. That makes me the 109th person in the history of Thunderdome to crack the sweet sixteen. That puts me in the top gently caress knows of Thunderdome authors by number of entries. Quite the achievement, I think you'll find :smuggo:

Sorry, if that wasn't clear. Fight me. Deadline at least a week after this story is due hopefully.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Saucy_Rodent posted:

Steel-toed Yoruchi Brawl

:toxx:

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Inspired by God Over Djinn’s Gainful Employment: https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5188&title=Gainful+Employment

Let them in
898 word
Zosia swayed in a sea of bodies. Eyes slightly out of focus as the crowd ebbed and flowed around her, enormous headphones drowning out the roar of the tide.

She’d have to move some time, but honestly, where would she go? Her next lecture wasn’t for another half hour, the library smelt half like depression and half like cut apron strings - no, here was fine.

Lou Rhodes voice cut clean through the patter of triphop percussion in Zosia’s headphones, snaking up the cables from the clunky gunmetal discman in her satchel. She stared out the overbridge windows, out over the cars on the steep street below, out across the compacted skyline of the harbour city and up to the horizon.

Normal people don’t do this, she thought. Normal people don’t just stand and wait, parked like an unloved android until they’re needed again. What the gently caress was she doing?

There was a loneliness about her that other people seemed allergic to. It wasn’t desperate, or needy, it just was. She needed human interaction to stay sane, even just an idle “how about this weather” - but even in those short exchanges she could almost feel the other itching to disengage from the conversation. That feeling also meant she needed to be ten thousand miles away if she’d been in the same room with anyone for more than half an hour.

Zosia’s eyes refocused on the two faces mouthing rapid words and looking expectantly at her from either side. She slid her headphones off.

“- so we thought Zosh from our medieval literature tutorials would be just the right kind of company. Tonight, kay? See you there. ”

Laura? Yeah, Laura - and her buddy was Marcus. Either way, they were gone now. The two disappeared into the stream of bodies, leaving Zosia clutching a small flyer forced into her hand by her classmate.

Forbidden Book Club - Thistlechirp Residence
11pm first Thursday of every month


She mentally calculated the distance to the address printed beneath before the rest of her mind caught up. What the hell was that? Had she talked to them before? Why her? The bad parts overtook the good and raced ahead, following winding roads to awful scenarios.

She shook the thoughts out of her head. Laura and Marcus always seemed nice enough, they’d been the only ones to talk to her in tutes. She ran her fingers over the folded edges as she fidgeted with it in her pocket.

At about 10 past 7 that night, chopsticks gripping instant noodles halfway to her mouth, she decided she’d go. This was what she wanted ...wasn’t it? It’d be fine.

At about 5 to 11 that night, headphones wrapped around her ears on a cold Kelburn street, she decided she wouldn’t go. She turned to go back the way she came, nearly colliding with Laura and Marcus.

“You came!” Laura grabbed one arm, steering her back on course. They arrived at the top of a neglected looking staircase.

As they descended, Laura and Marcus burbling from in front and behind her. A sole candle flickered on the front porch, sucking the light out of its surrounds to condense it at the flame.

Zosia was ushered through the front door, and into a dimly lit flat living room. A hodge podge of cosy op-shopped furniture with an overall theme of “my Nan used to have these”.

“AYYYYY!”

Three new faces, soon introduced as Dan, Pedro and Britta, shouted an extended celebratory vowel at their arrival. Zosia fell into a series of spirited conversations with the others, propelled by the gins pushed into her hand.

“Alright alright alright! S’midnight!”

Britta pulled a massive tome out from under the couch, dropping it on the coffee table with both effort and dramatic flair. She deliberately opened the book, leafing slowly forward from a crimson silk bookmark, before settling on a page.

“Right! Zosia, you first.”

Zosia froze for a second, unsure what ‘first’ actually entailed. Laura grabbed her hand and pulled her forward, both now kneeling in front of the book on the table while Britta took the newly vacated seat.

Laura pointed at the words on the page, old gothic script - all calligraphic curls and extraneous crossbars. The both started reading, at first like a primary school play words phasing in and out of sync and syncopation, then flowing together like a rushing stream.

“Axaxaxas mlö. Axaxaxas mlö. Axaxaxas mlö. Axaxaxas mlö.”

The words rolling together, reverberating off the walls and then penetrating them. The chant rippling through the woodwork, vibrating in time with the chant.

AxaxaxasmlöAxaxaxas mlöAxaxaxas mlöAxaxaxasmlö

Zosia closed her eyes, the words humming inside her throat. She didn’t know how long she floated there for, anchored only by Laura’s hand. Peaceful warmth radiating out of their joined grasp.

When she opened them, she let the world refocus slowly around her. She hadn’t felt this good in years. The deep lingering, loneliness washed away, scrubbed clean from long forgotten rooms of her soul.

She didn’t know when they stood up. Something dripped, ribbons of something else hung across the armchair she’d been on earlier. Scorchmarks crisscrossed the ceiling, forming a strange tartan with.. Blood spatter? She watched something red slowly unstick itself and flop to the floor in a tangled mess. Laura squeezed her hand and she felt home.

Zosia swayed in a sea of bodies.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Saucy_Rodent posted:

Steel-toed Yoruchi Brawl

Your prompt is butts. Your story will contain the word butt exactly three times, and each use must have a different definition. Human butt, butt of a joke, cigarette butt, etc. 1000 words, two weeks from today.

Help the Aged
1000 words

Mike recognised the uneven stomps crossing the saloon floor behind him before Geoff even got a word out.

Geoff had a loving clumpy peg leg. It wasn’t even a peg really, more of a pyramid at this point. Geoff had never been much of a carpenter, so it was just layer upon layer of timber offcuts, bits of broken furniture - anything, so long as it added a general sense of stability.

“One last job, huh? I told them, Mike, I’m retired. Not happening.”

“What kinda job you think you’re going to pull on that thing, old man?” Mike nodded at the mass of wood and screws where Geoff’s lower leg should have been.

“Mikey, I’m out. I gotta life here now.”

Mike didn’t have a job for him. He thumbed the cracked glass, exploring the spiderweb fissures that mapped a small world of tributaries and rivulets across the surface. Mike was tired, and right now, all he wanted to do was fall into the deep amber pool at the bottom of everything.

Geoff bled through the bed of white noise that Mike fought to sink into. Smile and nod, and he’d tire himself out - not today though. He was relentless. Three pints later and Geoff was still there talking himself out of and into an hypothetical heist.

“Look, there’s no job alright? Can you.. I want to have me drink in peace ‘kay?”

Geoff tapped his nose and winked “No job. Gotcha.” He creaked verbally, as he pushed himself up from the bar onto his feet. “Listen, I gotta take a wicked piss. Don’t go nowhere.”

Mike leapt into action, grabbed his coat and bag and flung some cash at the barkeep. At least, that’s how he meant it to play out. He had to wait a minute for his knee to stop seizing, and he couldn’t bring himself to just throw good money at folks.

Mike was by the door when Geoff emerged from the washroom, struggling to pull his belt tight across a burgeoning waistline.

“Mate! Hold yer horses. I’ve been thinking about how we can make this wo-”

Mike was already out and limp-walking as fast as his busted joints would carry him up main street.

This was why he kept to the homestead; too many people in towns, too many words. He kept his pace as shopfronts turned to houses turned to open fields along the short, small-town thoroughfare.

Geoff was 100 yards back, yelling occasionally after him, but mainly red-faced and focussed on keeping up. The late afternoon sun beat low and hot across both their backs. Sweat beading across both furrowed brows as they continued their low speed pursuit.

Mike saw the cornfield up ahead. Rows of maize stalks beckoning, a green ocean awash with promise of respite and rest. He clambered over a short fence, trying to catch his foot on one of the rails at the butt joint and instead landing hard and sending shockwaves up his dodgy knee. He croaked out a groan, spat, and lumbered into vegetation.

Mike heard Geoff calling from the roadside, knew that the hodge-podge prosthesis would keep him on the other side of the fence. He wandered further, letting the rush and murmur of the leaves drown the rest of the world out, and lay down.

Mike gazed up at the blue-pink sky, coat bundled under his head and bag under his feet. He crossed his hands over his stomach, trying to remember the last time he’d slept in the open, trying to remember when his tum started to soften.

Mike was, frankly, too old for this poo poo. Life on the road was a young man’s game. His thoughts rounded on Geoff, incredulous at the other man’s enthusiasm for one final job. Most of the crew was either dead or couldn’t walk five yards without something falling off.

Mike mentally ticked off names of the old gang, slow realisation dawning that he and Geoff really were the last two. And here Mike was hiding from him in some cornfield in the middle of God-knows-where. He’d run from him, why? Because he couldn’t handle the slow burbling anxiety of a couple beers with an old colleague?

Geoff had always been the butt of jokes, but he gave as good as he got and always did it with a smile. Geoff didn’t deserve to be abandoned on an old dirt road by one of his last ties to the good old days. By one of his friends.

Mike rolled onto his side and sobbed. Cried his shame, his loneliness, cried for the lifetime of damage his coping mechanisms caused him and the people he cared about.

Mike woke, cheeks covered in a thin crust of salt and mouth full of cotton. Rays of morning sun poked their between the cornrows.

Mike rolled onto his front and propped himself up onto all fours, then three, then a couple of combinations of “three” as he tried to get to his feet. The cold night air had seeped into his joints, his knee throbbed and his legs wouldn’t straighten properly.

It was late morning by the time Mike found his way back to the Saloon. He got an odd look from the barkeep, somewhere between sympathy and a ten-foot-pole. He ignored it and ordered breakfast.

He found a table near the door, planted his bag in the middle, and slung his coat over the seat. He sat in the fuzz of hangover and guilty introspection, picking at his food once it came, then nursing a cigarette as he tried to regrow his resolve.

He pulled a notebook out of his bag, and retrieved a piece of paper from inside the back cover. Geoff’s name, directions to the saloon, and a dollar amount arced across the crisp white sheet in tumbling cursive.

Mike sighed, and pressed the glowing butt of cigarette into it. He let the sheet take the flame, and then dropped the whole embering mess into the ashtray.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Saucy_Rodent posted:

Buttz Brawl Rezultz

good judging, Saucy - thanks. Well done Yoruichi

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Listen you munters, you're all over the show.

I'll judge this brawl. Check back in a couple hours for a prompt and some formality around these flashrules (wtf) and caveats.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Exmond posted:

Exmond Vs Steak vs Blowout is on!

Ex-Anomalous Steak brawl

Listen you muppets, that signup process was shambolic. Let’s iron a few things out:

  1. You don’t flashrule. Because of that display, if you want flashrules mojo will provide hellrules on request.
  2. Exmond, that caveat in Blowout’s challenge stands. Spill blood in June or I call in the toxx.
  3. That date works so let’s run with it.

You’ve got until 26 May to slap together 1000 words of creeping horror. I don’t want a slasher from you, I want dread.

Your theme is “open up the pit”, cos y’all are up in here throwing elbows like hoons at their first hardcore gig.

Get lippy again and those hellrules won't wait for requests. Let me see those toxxes, AB and Steak.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Exmond posted:

Judge, may I request some examples of CREEPING HORROR that you like?

Try Junji Ito's The Enigma of Amigara Fault

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







ThirdEmperor posted:

Oh captain, my captain, I'm afraid this prompt is gonna be rough sailing.
Before the end of the month, PST, you two will have to deliver
A steampunk story, but not, and let me stress this, not garbage.
Gimme a tale about the people the industrial revolution swept aside, the anxiety of men forced to compete with machine, the runaway ambition of a capitalist clockwork.

Steampunk Brawl 2019 - "the one where a captain wins"

Cptn_Dr’s The Patriotic Exploits of Nathaniel Dorian, Gentleman Adventurer Of The Steam Age

Nathaniel Dorian was the greatest adventurer of the Modern Age and, just like everyone else who read the daily papers, he knew it.

“I am the greatest adventurer of the Modern Age!” he cried, punching the final sky pirate in the jaw as they brawled, balanced precariously atop the bright red envelope of his personal Godshawk P9000c airship. “Have at you, villain!”. Is this a thing you say before or after you punch a dude in the jaw? What i’m saying is this a pre-brawl rather than a mid-brawl invitation.

The pirate staggered back under the crushing onslaught of Justice and Nemesis (which is what Nathaniel Dorian called his fists), before he lost his footing and slipped from the airship, then plummeted to the ground far below. Nathaniel Dorian turned his attention to Captain Lazarus, his long-time foe, who was, at this very moment, preparing to detonate a powerful aetherium explosive device beneath the floating city of Neo Londinium. Is this steampunk or pulp scifi?

“Mr Kepnal! Take us in closer to Lazarus’s ship!” he shouted down to his co-pilot. A blast of steam answered him, as the airship accelerated towards his great enemy. They swooped down towards the undercarriage of the vast aerial metropolis, as Mr Kepnal got them as close to the site of Lazarus’s misdeeds as possible.

Nathaniel Dorian took a running leap, his Union Flag patterned greatcoat streaming behind him as he flew through the air, and crashed into the domed cabin where Lazarus was preparing to carry out his vile anarchist schemes.

“Surrender, or forfeit your life, you scum of the skies!” He drew his phlogiston powered steam-sword, and pressed the attack on his foe.

“You’re really going to keep doing this?” asked Lazarus, desperately blocking a vicious lunge from Nathaniel Dorian.

“Doing what? Good deeds and acts of derring-do?”

“Your whole ‘greatest adventurer’ thing.” Parry. “Flying around, murdering anyone who opposes the Empress and stomping on the necks of anyone trying to get by.” Dodge. “You’re the jackbooted thug of a genocidal and racist regime, and you’ve never done a good deed in your life.” Stab, twist, counter-thrust.

“Nonsense! I defend the empire and her interests! Don’t try and bring political matters into this.” you got a laugh

Nathaniel Dorian paused a moment. Was Lazarus correct? Was he complicit in the subjugation of indigenous peoples, in the repression of foreigners and the vast inequality between the social classes?

Nah. HA!Nathaniel Dorian brought his sword crashing down on Lazarus’s wrist, severing it messily. Lazarus hissed in pain, then gurgled wetly and collapsed as Nathaniel Dorian’s blade raked across his stomach and splattered blood across the small cabin.

“Take that, Evil-Doer! This age of Steam has no place for the likes of you!”



Captain_Person’s The Path of Progress

Foolish men from across the world had called him mad, but Doctor Dieter Niklas von Kinzig knew that this day would prove them wrong.

“Attention!” he barked at the crew of lackeys assembled below the control module of his roving steam fortress. Countless so-called usually i’d say this expression needs to be blasted off the surface of the planet, but i think it works here ‘heroes’, who had dared to challenge his cunning, slaved day and night to fuel the aetheric furnaces needed to power the gargantuan mechanical monstrosity of Kinzburg as it churned through the mud of Europe.

“Today is finally the day that the powers of the world bow down before my might! No more shall the mewling citizens of the world dare to deny the progress of science!!”

“Doctor, sir!” a lackey cried out as they stepped forward into a deep bow. “The Britannian colony has been sighted. We will be within range of the international peace conference in sixty seconds.”

“Hah!” the doctor spat with glee. “Excellent!! My foes, all gathered together in one place. Prepare the Stormfall Cannon!!” you’re really running with the double exclamations here, aren’t you?

As the foul crew are they actually foul? They seem ..err, conscripted? ran about their tasks the many-legged fortress of Kinzburg shuddered, aetheric energy coursing through its arteries of brass and cogs. Von Kinzig turned to address the figure bound to the base of the Aetheric Savagery Sower.

“You see, my darling Countess Deskford, nothing can stop me now.” He advanced slowly on the helpless heroine, continuing his speech with a horrid grin. “Not the meddling of your so-called ok now you’ve used it twice and I want it blasted again heroes, not the armies of the great powers of this nation what nation? It’s churning across Europe and Britannia is a colony in this, no? , not even you or your interfering husband can deny me. It’s too late!!”

Countess Joanna Deskford, last hope of the nations of the earth, fighter of the tyranny of scientific facism, glared back at von Kinzig. “Too late for them, perhaps,” she said, “but not too late for me!”

In a flash she stood up, dropping the intricate handcuffs that had bound her to the ground ground vs base of gave me some confusing mental re-blocking. In one hand she held an ornately carved wristband adorned with jewels, opened to reveal a fully automated lockpick powered by coal dust hidden inside.

“You are a blind fool, von Kinzig,” the Countess continued, dropping into the stance of a seasoned brawler. “You have always ignored that beauty, and art, obsessing only over your science. But no more. Today, this finally ends.”

Doctor von Kinzig blinked and in that moment she was upon him, unleashing a flurry of blows that staggered him. He brought his cane up to block one punch, and another was already connecting with his face. Step by step, he was forced back by her righteous onslaught, right to the edge of the control module where he was swept to the floor by the countess.

The countess stood triumphantly over von Kinzig. On the ground he writhed and panted as he glared up at her.

“Your tricks… are no match for my hatred… or for LIGHTNING!!”

With a flourish he thrust his cane up at her, sending a bolt of lightning surging from within its brass spike to skewer her heart. Her screech rattled the windows around the command module as all of von Kinzig’s hatred, stored and transformed into lightning by the Aetheric Savagery Sower, overloaded her heart and set her blood ablaze, all in her final heartbeat. Her body beginning to smoke, she toppled back as the evil Doctor sprung to his feet.

“AT LAST!!” screamed von Kinzig as he stood over her smouldering corpse. “AT LAST THE DESKFORD’S ARE NO MORE, AND WITH IT YOUR HOPE DIES!!”

He spun to stare down the Britannian colony that seemed to cower before him, firing a few frantic bursts of lightning from his cane for good measure.

“DEATH TO COWARDICE! DEATH TO REASON! waaait what underpins scientific facism then? DEATH TO BEAUTY, AND ART, AND WEAK-MINDED FOOLS!!”

He thrust his cane towards his enemies, and proclaimed their doom.

“FIRE THE STORMFALL CANON AND DESTROY EVERYTHING YOU SEE!! AAHAHAHAHA!!!”


Alright captains, that was wild. You're both loving nihilists, and ended up in the same facism triumphs over 'the good guys' place. Cptn_Dr, you managed to do that with more winking and nodding at the camera - and therefore the story came off maybe deliberately to communicate a more anti-facist message than Captain_Person's wild ride. Captain_Person, your ending went far more balls to the wall than then Dr's - and therefore nobody could mistake it as pro-bad guys, but good lord.

Ultimately, you both wrote goodbad pulp steampunk. You both also leaned into the 'steampunk is facism for nice people' angle rather than 'steampunk is goths in beige', but (while Cptn_Dr scratched it) neither of you showed the machinations of empire and colonialism - instead capturing one man's ambition at the speartip. Both stories needed to breath more and wrapped up too quickly, I don't know what your word limit was but these stories feel like they snuck in too far under.

:siren:The win goes to Captain_Person - but only because the conflict between Kinzing and Deskford had enough room to arc, rather than crash into resolution like Lazarus and Dorian. I thought Dr's humour was better, and world-building more concise/unlcuttered, but ultimately Person spun a better stunted story.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







In.

Hook me up with a spookrule

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Thunderdome CCCLIV: S’moreDome redemption story
Bookbinding
633 words
https://thunderdome.cc/?story=7429&title=Bookbinding

steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at 19:15 on Dec 31, 2019

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Saucy_Rodent posted:

Crit for Bookbinding

Thanks for the crit, Saucy

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







steeltoedsneakers posted:

Ex-Anomalous Steak brawl

Due soon kids. We said 26 May so let's standardise to 23:59:59 PST at the latest. Get your stuff in.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







MR STEAK’S ANOMALOUS EX - DreadBrawl
Alright, let’s get this threeway of a brawl out the way and clear the decks for Neth.

Exmond vs Anomalous Blowout: AB takes it out pretty handily. Exmond you turned in a wonderfully TD story about mind spiders and matriphagy - but you made me trudge 20 miles uphill in the snow with no shoes to a lovely doctors office to read it. Blowout, you deployed prose carefully and consistently to string dread and emotion out through the entirety.
Anomalous Blowout vs Mr Steak: Mr Steak, you need to do the Sebmojo thing - take a cliche and tweak it until it is something unique. You didn’t tweak enough, and your story didn’t get to its feet for long enough to take a swing at Anomalous Blowout’s tale of grief and creepy baby monitors. Sit back down and finish your story.
Mr Steak vs Exmond: Mr Steak, what you delivered was competent, but it wasn’t memorable. Exmond, you stumbled at the start, but once you got your first third out the way it took off, you nailed the creeping dread and I really enjoyed where you took it. Next time, consider writing to get the juices going and then deleting those first paras that you used to find out where the story was going.

:siren:Overall winner: Anomalous Blowout:siren:


The Trials And Tribulations Of Being A Single Father
Word Count: 972

The doctor had formed a grim prognosis, the father was describing his daughter’s condition with carefully rehearsed lines and the daughter? I really hope you keep this folksy narrative tone going, because you’ve kinda committed to it here. I do have a mini issue with sequence and phrasing though - the grim prognosis seems like jumping the gun if the condition is still being described, imperfect/past-progressive might work better here. She gleefully described the act of eating spiders. That’s gone kinda bonkers already, when I asked for dread - bring this back from bathos pls

“I put ‘em in my mouth and they go crunch, crunch!” She said, her young mind unable to fully explain the delectable delight. Language is frustrating for her, she knew if she could describe the taste that there’s a weird formulation here - you’re fighting between “if/then” and “knew that” - I would have gone for “then” everyone would only eat spiders, chuck a full stop here, the next two words are redundant like her.

Three appointments in and The Doctor GOD DOCTOR GETS CAPITALS - is he different from the lowercase doc in para 1? still couldn’t figure it out. Doesn’t sound like that prognosis is actually formed, does it He turned to the father, “I think it’s trauma, linked to losing her mother. But we should run another test. To see if it’s a chemical imbalance in her blood.”I think these staccato sentences should maybe have run on into each other a bit - or you should have introduced some hesitancy with ums ers or pauses?

The father’s face went pale. Money was tight, and more tests meant more expenses.
PS. not feeling super dread-filled right now, you’ve got three things going on:
*Doctor doesn’t know wtf is happening, but in a relatively normal way
*Father, I mean, sure money is a dread thing - but not really the dread that’s core to the genre
*Daughter: LOL SPIDERS TASTY

“I can take another painting as payment,” the doctor quickly added. He makes good money, and he can empathize with the father. His mother raised him to be a good man, all by herself. What would he be if he demanded money from a single father with a sick child? I dunno man, the system’s the system - that’s the reason he charges, otherwise literally all medical work would be pro-bono. Not that I’m saying “yay capitalism”, but that’s the thing to grapple with. Also, this is the para where your character name decision gets messy: the doctor, he, the father, his mother, him, herself, he, etc.

The father nodded, and the two men looked across the office to the other painting adorned on the wall. Mate, give me something about how they look compared to each other - this might as well be three potatoes that you’ve written names on at this point.The father didn’t consider himself an artist, but he does have talent. His paintings call out to the doctor, the myriad of shapes and colours opening up the dark pits of his mind and infecting the furthest corner of his mind doubled up on the “of his mind” - if unintentional, a read-aloud or a friend to proof might have caught this. The doctor felt something stir inside him, the father looks at the doctor and felt guilty. Also what is in the dark pits, what infects, if the result is empathy?

The doctor reached out to the daughter and took her arm. A quick bit of pain shot through her all the way through her? Think about how a needle feels - it’s one of the most precise instruments you can puncture flesh with - the pain is local. Maybe drop “bit of” too, I don’t think it helps you - and it also again steers you away from that idea of precision , and blood filled the syringe. He sighed, patted her back, and told them he will call them back with the results.

***

“Dinner will be ready soon,” the father told his daughter and he looked out at the cenotaph these are pretty big and usually linked to wars in the garden. It was easier when the mother was here, but her body was beyond his reach.

The daughter went to bed, her belly empty, and the father prepared dinner. He walked to a small studio and locked the door. In the center of the room was a white canvas surrounded by paint cans. Ok, you’ve unfortunately linked making dinner to getting ready to paint here. You need to have a more logical stop between these actions (like eating the dinner).

Colours washed across the white emptiness of the canvas like a frantic web. “He’s a genius, his art calls to your soul,” phrasing feels a little clunky the critics commented when they saw his creations. There was a certain sense to it. All art shares a telepathic link where a central theme incubates and corrupts your mind corrupt isn’t a neutral word - and its implied that it is bad bad corrupt given that this is a horror story, and the following sentence re: insanity.. But his art has no theme, just a purpose. The paintings are only whispers of insanity spread out to look like art. This is a loving rad sentence. To be honest, i might have started on this para and cut the rest above, have a read of everything up to here and decide what ideas are absolutely essential to plot, and see if there’s a way to weave them in after this point?

Memories seeped into the painting; they always did. He saw the face of his late wife, though nobody would recognize it. He remembered meeting her for the first time: the meteor crashing to the ground, her carapace rising out of the rubble and his fear mixing with curiosity.

Those were the happiest years of his life. He remembered her embrace, her eight legs entwining with his. I AM GLARING AT YOU. He remembered crying as his daughter was born. How the mother told him that all young need to feed, and the sacrifice that all mothers of her kind must make.

But mostly, he remembered her last lesson - on how to provide for their child.

A phone rang, interrupting his mad work. He picked up the cellphone and heard the doctor’s voice.

“Hello, It’s Doctor Troyer. The test results aren’t good, can you come tomorrow?”

The father walked to a calendar on the wall. Its days were marked off with names and incubation periods. He checked where Troyer’s name was on the schedule.

“Yes, that works,” the father says. He looked back at the painting and saw the mother staring back at him, a gigantic spider on a web of incandescent colours. Then he rushed to inform his daughter when dinner will be ready.

***

The daughter smiled at the doctor, the innocent smile she was taught by her father. She doesn’t understand what the doctor is talking about, but she likes his voice.

Her belly rumbled, and her hunger grew. She was impatient, but she didn’t complain - she was a good daughter, it was her mother’s last request. She missed her mother, she was delicious and the best.

The father handed the doctor his latest painting, but the doctor shook his head. He had failed to find a cure, no payment was necessary. The father insisted and showed the painting to him. The doctor looked at it, and something stirred in his mind.

The stirring didn’t stop. The doctor looked around, confused, and then something stepped on his parietal cortex. His back spasmed and the father went to lock the door.

The doctor thought he was having a stroke, but when thousands of tiny legs stepped on his mind, he knew he was wrong. He bit off his own tongue, he tried to run, but to no avail. He fell, and the daughter looked down at him, her smile full of fangs and teeth.

“Daddy!” she said and looked up expectantly.

“Go wash your hands first,” the father says as the sound of cracking bone echos in the office.

As the sound grew louder, the doctor smelled blood. He reached up to his face, and his hands brushed up against exposed bone. From the widening crack in his skull, a baby spider jumped onto the floor. More and more baby spiders fell onto the floor, their blood-soaked bodies leaving frantic marks on the white linoleum. The doctor cannot scream, but he could feel every spider jump out of his mind and onto the floor.

The father looked down at the daughter, who displayed her eight limbs. They were sparkling clean.

He nodded approvingly and said, “It’s Dinner Time.”

Dude everything you wrote after the doctor’s office scene at the start is actually great and on prompt. You’ll see that my comments dropped away a bit as your writing grabbed me with a bit more urgency. I can’t ignore that the first third, but you turned this around I think - nice work.

I don’t 100% understand how mind spiders actually grow though - there’s a weird metaphysical disconnect I don’t get? Willing to overlook it for brain spider gore though.

Good words - 2/5 that opener really clunked
Good plots - 3/5
Good dreads - 3/5 nice recovery, stuck the landing

Acute Grief Reaction
997 words

The baby monitor crackles in my hand when I first turn it on. The static is louder than I expected. Alice watches me from her crib with wide, uncomprehending eyes.

We’re trying something new tonight, baby girl, I tell her.

I set one of the monitors atop the dresser. The thought of stepping out of the room, of leaving her to sleep alone, opens up a cavern in my stomach that threatens to swallow all reason.

But my therapist says it's time. Says it's hurting us both to clutch her so tightly.

Since you died, I’m afraid to even blink lest I lose her too. She burbles on oblivious, reaching new milestones every day. At five months, she can roll over onto her belly and sit up on her own.

I tuck her in and tell her I love her and the baby monitor renders a gentle, electric crackle as I step away.

At my back, your side of the mattress stretches vastly, emptily into the dark. Sleep comes eventually. Nice setup so far, economical but evocative, lays everything out really well.

Then I'm tugged gently back to consciousness by a soft tickle of sound against my ear. Over the soft hiss of the baby monitor, my daughter is laughing. OH gently caress YOU. As a parent, baby monitors were already terrifying. I have experienced this, children are creepy af.

Five nights pass and I wake to the sound of her laughter. It does not occur to me to ask what she's laughing at until too late. DUN DUN DUNNNNN

###

Our house is a wreck. I'm sorry, Erik. The tidy little home you cherished is heaped with unwashed laundry now, the sink always piled with dishes. Some days I make a dent in it.

I feed Alice and the only reason I feed myself is because I know I have to eat in order to keep producing milk. This is what losing you has done to me.

So I eat. I do two loads of laundry. I make my dents. This is solid.

And then at night, the soft scratch of the baby monitor nudges me awake.

This time, I hear you, the low basso rumble of your laugh through the speaker. um well actually something something baby monitor frequency ranges.

Alice gurgles and coos. A shudder slams into me as I recall how I woke to the sound of her cooing almost every night. How I assumed she must be having pleasant dreams. The chill informs me there's no way this can be a dream.

The baby monitor buzzes. I hear words now, fuzzy and indistinct, like a murmur behind a concealing hand. I hear you say her name. And it isn't until I hear you say her name that I realise that this means something that sounds like you is in her bedroom, and then I'm stumbling from the bed, tripping over the sheets and racing for the door and holding my breath and unable to decide which would be more terrifying--if I opened her door and saw nothing or opened it and saw you.

Because you're not here. You can't be here.

I burst into her room. The door slams against the wall and she's wailing instantly, alone in the dark, no spectres to be seen.

But as I hold her to my chest, I see it on the window: a patch of fogged-up glass, like someone had been breathing against it from the outside.

###

You're not here. You cannot be here. Not only are you dead, you are buried under a thousand tons of stone.

###

When I tell Dr Phipps I hear you at night, she gives me a smile so sad that I want to punch it off her face. It's an acute grief reaction, she explains. Smug motherfucker. I am very here for your protag. Completely understandable when a mine collapses on your husband and entombs him. It's normal to feel these things even months after, especially when dealing with anniversaries or trigger events.

She asks me if I'm going to the press conference.

The press conference full stop? I'd forgotten the press conference. Tomorrow, the government is going to announce the results of their inquiry into a recovery operation. Into whether they can open up the pit and bring you home.

I have to stop them. I can't let them open up the mine, not now that I know you aren't really dead.

At home, I clean like I haven't in months, body full of frenzied energy with nowhere to go. Alice is sleeping in my room again.

I've ripped the batteries out of the monitor's back. It sings from its spot in a bottom drawer two rooms away, the warm rumble of murmured words too faint to make out but too yours to ignore.

I sleep in in stops and starts. I hear you screaming, begging me to let you out, but then I snap awake and it's Alice screaming to be fed.

###

Dr Phipps arrives hard-eyed on my doorstep two hours before the press conference. She asks if I've been sleeping.

Why?

They called me when they got your voicemails, she says.

They?

The Council.

I ball my hands into defensive fists. She doesn't understand. I tell her over and over that she doesn't understand. They have to know they can't open up the mine. That if they open up the mine--

She says she's going to stay with me. To make sure I get the help I need. That none of what is happening to me is uncommon. Alice cries in the other room and I snap back to myself and I tell Dr Phipps to please excuse me, the baby is hungry.

As I step into my bedroom, the baby monitor shrieks. I hear your voice louder than ever. This time there's no mistaking the words. LET ME OUT.

I shove past Dr Phipps with my baby in my arms. Throwing us both into the car, I floor the gas and take off for the interstate.

I can't stop them from reopening the mine. But I can be far away when they do.

Let me out let me out let me out let me out--your screams recede to pleading whimpers, lost in the static of the radio as I leave my haunted home and you behind.

Good words - 5/5 these are some great words deployed deliberately, you capture voice and feeling very well
Good plots - 4/5 I am a person who is bugged when things are unclear, and Dr Phipps is right loving there and you don’t let her give me a hint about whether this is real or nah. Rude.
Good dreads - 3/5 you kinda ease off the dread pedal on this ride, it feels. Or at least, protag getting the gently caress out feels like a good ending? There are some sections in this that just work, but in your section where the sleep is worse than ever, it doesn’t feel as horrifying as the story implies it is?


Pit
(369 words)

“Steady on the left!”

“How’s it looking down there, Sergeant?”

Wires as thick as a man’s fist creaked with aching complaint as a tremendous weight shifted below. As taught as strings on an impossibly giant guitar wires as thick as a man’s fist works, your giant guitar simile takes it in a slightly different direction, tonally, their notes resounded at a deep inaudible which one is it - deep or inaudible? Sub-bass is a thing you could use better words on tremor.

The sergeant was secured at the bottom of the wire by several carabiners and rotated slowly at a slow slowly at a slow rate? That’s pretty redundant, constant rate. He held a military-grade flashlight which illuminated the walls fifty meters away, and was strapped to his wrist with velcro.

Too geometric to be natural, too massive to be man-made. It was discovered by a couple hiking in an obscure region of the Swiss alps. On initial investigation by the Swiss government, etchings in an unknown writing system were identified twenty meters below the surface. Suspecting they had found evidence of an ancient civilization more advanced than previously known, a number of archaeologists had been contacted, including an esteemed American researcher. That is how the American government became alerted to the phenomenon. See, here’s an idea. Maybe because nobody has greenlit this film yet, and we don’t have to worry about star power that audiences will recognise - we don’t actually need the military operation to be Americans? Seriously, it’s a detail that doesn’t actually add to the story - I’d be willing to suspend disbelief and believe they are Swiss and just assume you used the universal translator thing that lets all the Nazis have british accents on the BBC.

The wires groaned again as the sergeant was lowered further into the pit, along with several dozen heavy duty observation devices dangling just above him. I will give you credit though, you haven’t mucked around getting to the point of what’s happening - and I too would like to know what Sarge is seeing.

“Sergeant? Come in, sergeant!”

“I said all clear, Private! Are comms malfunctioning?”

“Not as far as we can tell, Sergeant.”

The radio chittered for a spell, but all signs indicated a perfect connection. The sergeant was lowered to a hundred meters below the surface, scanning his flashlight methodically across the stone walls as he descended.

Suddenly, he twitched and nearly dropped the light. Once he focused the beam again, he squinted to try understanding what he was seeing. The texture of the wall had changed from stone to something white and bizarrely shiny. Was it a smooth vein of quartz perhaps?

The sergeant was lowered deeper and the white area widened more and more until it was taking up and entire section of wall. He didn’t realize the true nature of the area until it was already too late. Approximately fifty feet below where he had first found the change of material was the first time he noticed any movement. And then, like a solar eclipse, a massive black circle darkened the sergeant’s entire field of vision.

Yeah, uh, looks like you ran out of time. I think an extra pass or two to work out your blocking for this ending might help (assuming it’s a mouth, and the wall was a tooth etc) because it doesn’t immediately scream OH HE GOT ET.

Good words - 3/5 I reckon you’ve got some good ones here, and some good turn of phrase - but it doesn’t exactly sing. Bit of clunk mixed in too that might have been caught had you spent more time on it.
Good plot - 2/5 I gotta say, this goes pretty hard on a cliche, right down to it having to be a US military expedition to assess the ancient promethean forerunner architecture whatevers, and then oh no it a bad.
Good dread - 2/5 too little too late, your actual dread kicks in in your penultimate paragraph. Let it breathe, let the cold fingers wander up your neck and play with your hairline a bit - don’t just tango me.

steeltoedsneakers fucked around with this message at 11:07 on May 27, 2019

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Exmond posted:

I'm In, let this count for my June submission, please.

P.S: Antivehicular, I think I won my brawl against Mr. Steak and lost against Anamolus Blowout, can I message you for a new AV?

For clarity, those power rankings were for bragging rights. There was a bar fight with three folks: Mr Steak hit the deck first, Exmond slugged it out a little longer, but Anomalous Blowout left you both bruised and bloodied in the spilled beer and sawdust.

June sub noted, though - good job. Write well.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Sitting Here posted:

:siren: Hey Thunderdome, let's make a magazine :siren:

A while back, a handful of TDers bandied about the idea that we might create a platform for Thunderdome-style fiction—imagine! A platform on which you can share your stories, that isn't awkward to explain to your friends and family :v:

Behold! Thunderdome dot NZ!

Looks a little empty, yeah? Well, to get the ball rolling, we are soliciting flash-length works from YOU, reader of and participant in this thread! Please send us your Thunderdome stories, or non-Thunderdome short and flash-length fiction. Any genre is welcome; please try to limit your submissions to stories roughly TD-length (we're not currently looking for your ten thousand word epic, sorry).

An official submission channel is forthcoming; however, interested parties should contact either myself or steeltoedsneakers via forums PMs, Discord, or IRC. Don't think, just do it!!! Let's get this ball rolling.

Feed ussss

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Hellrule me. Right in the face.

:toxx:

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Prompt: Enneagram 1
Hellrule: :siren: your characters all finish each others' sentences :siren:

Manaakitanga
579 words

“Poppa, there are houses down there. Why are we all up here in the Akawar.. the Ak- "

Brian and his granddaughter stood in the bracing wind, hair and beard and cloth whipped about as they surveyed the valley floor below.

“The Akatarawas? It’s been a while since people lived down there in the valley. There’s no food near the houses anymore, you’d have to walk for hours just to start hunting for breakfast. Besides, nobody works to stop the floods anymore, you’d - "

“You’d get wet shoes!” Tui cackled gleefully, dancing an elaborate interpretation of boots splashing in puddles.

“Yeah, alright Tūī. Let’s get you - ”

“Home?” Jeanette rounded the corner of the track behind them. “How about you two actually find us some food this morning before you go sit on your arse all afternoon? And she’s not Tūī, Dad - she’s Tui. I named her, I sh- “

“You should know. Yep. Things have changed though, Jeannie. It’s important that we do what we can to keep our - "

“Our what, Dad? Our culture? You’re not even Maori. Eight years up here in the bush and you’re Mr te reo Mao- "

“Māori, Mum. It’s te reo Māori. And we’re kati.. kaiki- ”

“Kaitiaki, Tūī. We’re Kaitiaki, along with anyone else who knows bits and pieces. We have to care for it and respect it, because if we don’t it’ll be - "

“It’ll be lost!” Tui pouted theatrically.

Jeanette was standing beside them now, gazing out over the valley. She drew Tui in tight against her.

“Listen, Dad. I get what you’re doing. Really, I do. I respect it. But there are - “

“More important things. I know, love. There always are.”

///

“Muuuum, I’m hungry. When’s Poppa coming back, it’s been - "

“Two hours, Tui. It’s only been two hours. He’ll be back soon, just be - "

“Grumpy!? I will.” She flopped melodramatically onto the low bed frame, the walls of the hut shuddering in frustrated sympathy.

Tui’s namesakes croaked and sang, their short melodies punctuated by squawks from their second voicebox. Pīwakawaka chattered in the late afternoon sun while bush, leaves and wind filled the space behind the sound with rolling waves of rustling white noise.

///

Voices came up the path, Brian’s gentle baritone bouncing off a weathered contralto.

"Jeannie, look who it is! I was out checking the snares and I found - "

"Aunty!" Tui bounded across the clearing to the older woman, disappearing into the folds of her thick wool jumper briefly.

"What brings you up this way, Margaret? I thought you lot were headed n- "

"North? Ha! So did I for a bit, but it's slim pickings up that way. Better somewhere you know - "

"With people you know." Brian finished, looking pointedly at Jeanette.

///

“You didn’t have to give her one of our pigeo - "

“One of our kererū. And I did, we don’t know when we’ll next need help. Last winter was rough. Remember, nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou - “

“Ka ora ai te iwi!” Tui shouted triumphantly. “With your food basket and my food basket the people will thiv - thhhh -”

“Thrive, poppet.” Jeanette drew the young girl who’d snuck up between them into a cuddle. Her beaming pride in Tui pushing her frustration with her father off her face.

“We’ll talk tomorrow, Dad. It’s still not okay for you to give our food away.” She took the pan off the fire, the sizzling fading away with the tension as she served up. “L - “

“Let’s eat!” Tui whooped. And they did.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







and me

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







:siren: Week 366 Judgement :siren:

A good conspiracy story should probably have a good twist - there were a few here this week that just took their prompt and said "yes, and.." and farted about in front of the audience like a bad improv troupe.

Let's get those out the way. Nikaer Drekin, buddy you were in hot contention for the loss. You used a lotta words to do not a lot.. Hoffa could have been literally anyone in this piece. That earns you a DM.

The loss this week goes to apophenium. Your story was a bit of a mess and carried an unsatisfying conspiracy twist that you both awkwardly foreshadowed and then refused to commit to.

The stories that did well this week all took the conspiracy prompt and ran with it to new and interesting places. Except for you, GenJoe - I don't know where the gently caress you ran to, but we liked it anyway. Take your HM along with Yoruichi, sebmojo, Sitting Here, and Antivehicular.

That leaves Anomalous Blowout's tale of a doomed expedition, Two Who Wandered Far Apart, at the top as this weeks winner.

Congratulations, and ascend the throne.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







First wave of crits for week 366:

Locally Harvested - Weltlich
Words write good:
Being the first story out the gates means you have a lot of influence on a judge’s mood too, the more mistakes you make the less tolerant they become, and you’re not buoyed by the preceding story being amazing or (let’s be honest) much worse.

Specifically, your first paragraph needed to be flipped to grab my attendance. Don’t make me wrangle a jejunum and a duodendum and a really weird use of the metric system in your opening sentence - you haven’t earned my patience for that. Get to the important bit. You could have started with “This young lady’s guts are shredded” and cut everything beforehand.

Story tell good:
This isn’t TV. I get what you were doing with the collage approach painting the picture - but all you really did was slowly reveal a worldbuild, and not enough reason to care about it. Give me personal stakes - give me a story with characters that want or need things and tell me what they do to get them. Thunderdome is about small stories with big impacts, use your word allocation wisely to land a gutpunch, and ask yourself what each line is doing to deliver on that.

Conspiracy twist good:
This is one of those stories that took the prompt and added an “and”. Usually I’d be pretty lenient on prompt adherence, but this was a week where prompt creativity mattered. “Watermelon seeds grow inside you” AND “it was the corporations what did it” wasn’t enough to set you apart from the pack this week unfortunately.

The King is Dead, Long Live the King - Yoruichi
Words write good:
Yes words write good. You often strike a good balance between economic, purposeful wording and evocative imagery and this piece is no different.
I think maybe you could have attempted to weave your opening paragraph into the bingo hall scene - starting with “Bullcrap..” would have been livelier than the lore-dump you opted for instead.

Story tell good:
Yes. Two big caveats for me though.
First - While it suits the story, your characters don’t have a lot of depth. They’re little avatars that wander around your story scene and trigger events, but I don’t feel like they live and breathe and need.

Second - Your song choice. You chose to match a gospel Elvis song with a gyrating Elvis dance routine. That was enough to break the spell of your story. Even if you can show me a video of Elvis doing his sexy sexy dances to a song about religious salvation, that’s not enough to carry the incongruity.

Conspiracy twist good:
gently caress yes. Nailed it.

At Sea - Djeser
Words write good:
In the light of day I’ve softened on this, but I found the piece of paper I hastily scrawled notes on during a train ride home from work and I have to say I still agree with some of past steeltoedsneakers’ observations.

Your opening para left me adrift a little too much - the knowing what dying is, but not believing it could happen to your mum, but having the idea of “spirit” made me wonder more about how old this fictional child was than feeling the saltspray on my face.

Also you did this: “Every day you spend on the sea, your mother slips further down into the sea.”. If this was intended it didn’t look it.

The temporal setting of this story was unclear, you gave me too much runway to imagine a boat and then you dropped a nylon blanket on it. The introduction of that detail made me reset the image of the boat in my head, and that’s jarring in a short piece like this.

Story tell good:
I liked this piece, but there’s a thing about these stories that you kinda need to be wary of. If you’re on a boat or in a car, it’s really easy to go “wait wait wait - witness a thing - wait wait wait - witness another thing - wait wait wait - we made it - the end”. Don’t let your characters be passengers: what did the mother do during the journey to ensure they found Finland. What did the son do? What decisions or actions could have been taken?

Conspiracy twist good:
Yep, I liked this take.

God's Plan for Hyderabad - Simply Simon
Words write good:
I think you had something good here, and I’m a sucker for stories that uses catholic catechism as source material. This was dense though - the heavy prose demanded attention from the reader without giving them enough in return.

There’s also a bit of a distinction between the rich language you employ for world-building, and the less deft wordplay that you use for dialogue and action. If you're going to lovingly slather your story in buttery words, don't miss the edges.

Story tell good:
While I did find your choice of location, character names and the role of the Catholic church somewhat at odds with each other, I thought you spun a good yarn here.
I also thought you could have been a little more deliberate in exploring Vanya’s growing doubt in the mission.

Conspiracy twist good:
Yeah, good job here.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







In!

I'd like to unburden another or somesuch

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







Bye, Barry
Released: an imaginary friend
307 words

You look over your shoulder at me, your eyes slightly apologetic. When you look away again, I’m gone.

I don't know if you look for me again.

You haven't known Grayson long. He's a nice boy. Maybe a little full-on for you, but he helps you build your confidence.

I don't know if you look for me again.

I don't know if you sit cross-legged on your bed tonight, eyes clenched hard and tight, trying to will be back into your tiny room.

I don't know if you made me or found me. One day we just were.

We built little plush caves of cushions and blankets to retreat to while you grappled with a world of contradictions. Little bastions of comfort and consistency against a tide of confusing exceptions to what should be simple rules. Your balled fist softening in my oversized paw.

Grayson is the rush you get as you tear down the hill on your bmx, wind ripping at the mess of ringlets peeking out from under your helmet.

His tiny frame hums with coiled energy, while my bulky fur always looks like I just got up from in front of a fire. He has a warmth though, a beating heart of sunshine that you're drawn to like a moth.

I don't know if your small heart is bursting with regret, your body wracked with sobs as it explodes and you come to terms with your first real loss.

I don't know if you'll find more friends like Grayson, friends who share their warmth with you and help you build your own fire inside.

I don't know if you will think about me. I don't know if you will remember me, or what you might remember about us.

I don't know if you'll be fine without me.

I don't know, but I can hope.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







In

:toxx: gently caress me up, man

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







sebmojo posted:

Everyone in your story is running

Ridgeline
680 words

About a kilometre along the ridgeline, Mark became acutely aware of his calves. He felt the muscles stretch and contract with his stride, pulling on tensors and hamstrings. About fifty metres further on, Mark could feel every muscle in his body tensing and releasing under his skin as he ran, he felt the thick weave of his internal machinery wrapped around his skeleton. Within two hundred metres Mark was perceiving his entire body - bones, organs, skin, cartilage and muscle - as separate working parts.

Mark had taken up running to forget; to be more specific, he took up running to pretend. While he was pretending he didn’t have a family, children, their school, a job, a mortgage, spinning plate after spinning plate - while he was pretending those weren’t his problem, he could forget them. He’d also found that nobody would question him disappearing for hours at a time if he was “going for a run”, which made the whole thing a lot more convenient than turning to drink.

Mark’s right foot thudded into the ground, the soft foam of his shoe cushioning the heel as it rolled forward. His centre of gravity, a churning mass of organs, fluid, rushing blood and stomach acid suspended in a cage of bone and flesh, hauled forward by his dense quads sails forward over the ball of his foot. The phalanges spread to take the weight, calves and flexors firing to launch him forward as the cycle begins again on his left side.

The ridgeline trail was a quiet one, it rolled up out of the edges of the suburbs and struck out across farmland and bush. Number 8 wire ran alongside the track, leaping between short pine posts and looping over and around hooks and nails. There wasn’t much to do with the land up here, but you would find the odd animal grazing in some of the tamer plots.

A solitary horse trotted along the fenceline next to Mark as he ran. Mark felt his fat, wet slop it’s way across his teeth and his cheeks roll in and out as he mouthed ‘What the fu..’ at the mass of muscle, bone and digestive system suspended under a bulky spine. Legs pumping the bellows of the massive creature’s lungs as muscle rippled, lengthened and shortened in symphony carrying the grass-to-flesh engine ever forward until it turned and cantered away as the paddock ran out.

Mark was again left alone with the newfound horror that was his own body. He could feel his stomach and intestines working to extract nutrients, moisture and base chemicals from last night’s stir fry. He focussed on his feet. Mark knew how feet worked, and he could concentrate on that, just that, as he jogged up the track.

“Morning!”

Mark looked up toward the voice. Strained muscles and sweat glands were packed into compression gear and barrelling toward him. Mark flinched, the way he did when he caught his distorted reflection in a window, wider and stouter than his internal self-image but close enough to the real thing to feel self-loathing. He couldn’t bring himself to send his tongue, lips and jaw flapping in return, instead he nodded curtly. He could his neck stretch and tighten briefly while his skull tilted forward, his brain sliding gently with it.

Mark’s eyes snapped wide as if he’d just shat himself as he witnessed the exact combination of neurons and electrical impulses involved in a brain becoming self-aware as an organ. Mark fought to maintain his point of view as internal observer and pilot of the organ’s vessel. He fought to ignore the myriad fired synapses involved in this denial of reality.

Heel.

Mark tried to recentre himself, shifting his focus back to his legs. Back to running.

Metatarsus.

It was working - slowly. Mark felt his feet flatten and then point as his calf engaged.

Toe.

Mark ran. He was legs and he was feet and he was arms and he was a core and that was enough. He was running, and he knew how that worked.

Heel.

Mark ran to forget.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







This is a proxy
SurreptitiousMuffin's IN
steeltoedsneaks is not

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steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







steeltoedsneakers posted:

This is a proxy
SurreptitiousMuffin's IN
steeltoedsneaks is not


Oh Goddamnit.

Fight me, Muffin.

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