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Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Fiesta
100 Words


Everyone has a purpose. We have purpose that lives on even after all the humans, so long ago now, ceased to function. Except for LWTX-999. He’s sat silent in his bay for as long as anyone remembers.

ARCV-356’s purpose is to delve deep into old data. He finds an ancient file and begins to titter. He shows it to the others. We see the glasses, the hat, the pipe. We all start to laugh. Soon, we are in hysterics.

LWTX-999 lumbers to life, his terrible purpose finally triggered. He begins to mercilessly destroy us all, rumbling, “That goddamn cat.”

Doctor Zero fucked around with this message at 23:41 on Mar 4, 2019

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Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

E: gently caress I have ‘rumble’ twice in the last paragraph. It doesn’t matter if we edit these does it?

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Kaishai posted:

Wrong. Please don't edit interprompts. They're archived, too.

Sorry. :ohdear:

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

In. I’ve been trying to think of a hook and can’t so flash me, baby.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

I’ll have you know that I posted in the monthly fiction thread under slow beef and didn’t fail. ... I don’t think?

Get off my lawn! :argh:

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

The Truth Shall Set You Free
1,342 words
Flash: Your authoritarian believes they can sense when a person is lying.



Talana was dying. Her death sped on raven wings as she lay in front of the shrine, wounded, starving, parched, exhausted. Darkness enveloped her. The world retreated.

Then she heard the gods.

“This one?” Incredulous. Harsh. “She grovels in the dust while her family lies rotting in the smoking ruin of her home.”

“She has potential in her.” Softer.

“Once. Now she is spent - of no use.”

“She has faith as few do anymore. This is why I came.”

“Faith. Feh. She squanders her faith.”

“Perhaps you are right. It is too late.”

No! she thinks with wild panic. No! Not after all this! I prayed myself to death! I can prove myself! Test me! But she finds she has not the strength to move.

“A test, eh?”

“A test, yes. So it is done.”

Then the rain came.


#

Warm rains bathed her, drenched her, turned to clay the dust in which she lay. The clay became mud. The mud, having drank its fill, puddled under her face.

She sucked weakly at it through cracked and peeling lips, tasted iron, and sweat, and salt.

It moistened her mouth. Burned her throat. Her fingers flexed, her arms convulsed.

She began to cough. The coughing grew until she struggled to all fours and spat out a gobbet of dark, thick, coagulated blood.

Strength returned to her limbs, even while they shook. The warm wetness running down her face, her neck, seemed to make her buoyant.

She raised her head. The offering bowls at the shrine filled with a gray, dusty water.

She crawled forward with a speed that she couldn’t imagine possible a few minutes before. She forced her face into the water, drank deep -

- and then turned her head and was sick.

After a pause, she plunged her head back and drank again. This time the water stayed down. She drew a deep breath and looked up.

There was a sword.

It balanced on its pointed tip, impossibly standing upright on the shrine to the gods. It gleamed, lit with an inner glow. The blade, long as her arm and as delicate, tapered smoothly from hilt to tip. The cross-guard formed from golden, metallic wings curled in two perfect arcs.

She struggled up the steep, mossy stairs, reached out splayed fingers, gripped the blade.

The smooth metal felt warm to the touch as if recently heated. It was very sharp.

She pulled it to her, half expecting her palm to be sliced open, but her skin stayed whole. She cradled it as she had her younger brother, his body broken after … after the raiders had -

She remembered why she had come.

Fury thundered through her, she the rod and it the bolt. The warmth of the blade filled her, shoving aside the emptiness, the hunger, the exhaustion. She stood up as easily as as if she had taken the merest rest and had not been prostrated, praying in the dust to the gods for seven days.

“The gods have made me an instrument of vengeance.” She whispered to the sword.

The warm rain stopped abruptly. The sword sung in her mind.


#

The first person Talana encountered as she came down the steep, narrow path from the old mountain shrine, stood staring at her, mouth agape. He had been sitting on a fallen log across the road, picking a blade of grass apart, watching up the road that passed under the mount. As she descended, he noticed her and stood. She knew must have looked a sight, barefoot, bloodied, wearing a torn grey (once white) frock, brandishing the golden sword in front of her like a torch.

He blinked and shook his head. He ran forward.

“Miss,” he said looking at her with a squint. “Are you all right?”

She gave what she felt was an imperious flick of her jaw and brushed a bloodied lock of hair from her face.

“Yes,” She said. “Now.”

He tilted his head. His eyes rested on the sword. Flicked back to her clothes.

“Right. Um, look my wife and I are having a bit of trouble around the bend but if you’d like we could help you.

“What happened to your voice?” She asked.

“What d’you mean?”

“It changed for a moment - “ she frowned. “screechy. Like a rabbit pounced on by a fox.”

“No it didn’t.”

“Yes, it did when you mentioned your wife. And when you said, you’d help.”

“Not that I heard.” He screwed his face up before shaking the expression away.

“Those are the lies,” she heard in her mind. Startled, she looked around.

Following her gaze, he peered around as well, confused.

“Look, that don’t matter, my wife is around the bend with our wagon that broke it’s wheel.

“There, it did it again.”

“Look miss, I don’t know what’s wrong with your ears, but there’s nothing wrong with my voice.”

He glanced again at the sword. Licked his lips. Rubbed his fingers together.

“Just come with me, and it will be all right.

“No, it won’t,” a wisp of a voice said.

Talana stiffened and looked at his face, into his eyes. Was that perspiration on his forehead?

He slowly put an arm around her shoulders, turned her, and began to lead her up the road.

“My name’s Jorren.”

‘No, it’s not.” The sword whispered in her head.


#

How long Talana stood by the wagon with its carefully removed wheel, staring at the broken and slashed bodies of “Jorren” and his female accomplice, she couldn’t say.

She heard the clup clop of a horse approach, but not until the sound stopped and she heard a soft whistle and steel being drawn, did she turn.

The man astride the horse was heavy and cloaked. His long hair receded as his stomach expanded. He wore a silver chain of office around his neck. Despite his shabby appearance, he held a broadsword expertly and confidently, and even she with only her seventeen years, could tell that this man was no stranger to arms.

“What happened here, miss?” he asked in a tone used for discussing weather. His furrowed brow and darting eyes belied his true mood.

“Sir,” she said. “these two were liars and thieves that meant to rob me, possibly worse.”

“Oh?” He surveyed the bodies and then looked at the sword still clutched in her hand. “And did you -”

When no answer was forthcoming, he continued.

“- do all this yourself?” He waved his sword at the carnage.

“Yes. I think so.”

“You think so?”

“It’s all sort of a blur, but yes I’m sure I did. They lied. They meant harm.”

“So you said.”

He looked her up and down.

“You should come with me to my … post. Do you have family nearby?”

“No, sir. We live… lived south, in Hardlesty. We were marauded. They’re… dead.” She blinked away tears.

“Hardlesty?” He stiffened. His jaw set. “I see. Well, come along my dear. Will you hand over your blade?”

“Am I in trouble?”

No, you’re safe now.

“Untrue,” the sword whispered.

“You’re lying,” she said.

She looked anew at him. His beast’s pack bore the symbol of a griffin with an outstretched claw. A symbol she would never, could never forget. The Riders of the Griffin came with the night and the mist, pillaging everything. She could still hear her family’s screams while the men burnt their village and hacked, and slashed, and killed.

Talana looked into his eyes, peering back at her from within the fat face. Her own eyes flashed.


#

Talana rode the fat man’s horse north after leaving him split, groin to neck. The man’s chain of office hung around her own neck now, smeared with blood.

She felt elated - an arrow, nocked and loosened, unable and unwilling to veer from destiny. She would find the Griffin riders. They would pay. Everyone would pay.

She cradled the sword like a child once again.

“I prayed for healing. I prayed for vengeance.

She stroked the sword.

“The gods answered those prayers.”

“Yes,” whispered the sword, “but which god did you answer?”

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

In.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

A Broken Clock
1,111 words



I’m not sure when the coffee date went sour, but my enthusiasm was definitely waning. Nor could I pinpoint the issue precisely. I pondered while he related a story about his friends.

Blaise was cute, clean, and well dressed, bringing a nice blazer and a scarf. The conversation had started easy and felt natural. He asked questions about me and my interests, but always ended up talking about own views. Was the confidence and charm that I found attractive two nights ago in reality, ego? Perhaps.

Then I realized that he made too many assumptions - that this (whatever this was) was a done deal. He said I’d meet friends, we’d go places together, as if we had agreed to more than just coffee. We hadn’t.

I tried to figure out if my inner voice was being protective or perceptive as he flipped over the check.

“Oh my god!” He exclaimed, and I startled out of my thoughts.

“Did they overcharge?”

“No, look at this!”

He handed over the bill. I examined it.

A mocha for him, chai latte for me. A chocolate croissant that we shared. Looked correct.

I shook my head. “I’ll give.”

“See anything unusual?”

I looked again. The name of the server, ‘’Becka’? I was about to say I didn’t know when I saw the total.

“Oh, $11.11? That’s neat I guess.”

He smiled as if he had the punchline to a joke I wasn’t getting.

“Do you know what time is was when I kissed you the other night?”

I blinked. That was random. I thought about it - pictured the night dancing, him asking for my number. After I gave it to him, he leaned forward and ever so gently kissed my lips. I thought it was sweet.

“Some time around midnight?”

“It was 11:11 pm,” he said. “I remember looking at the clock.

“Oh, huh. That’s … funny.”

“Actually,” he said and leaned over the cafe table with a glance around as if he were imparting state secrets, “1111 is a good omen.”

Was he putting me on?

“Ah.” I said, unsure what else I should say.

“Look at the table number,” he said.

I did so. An embossed plastic tag informed me it was 22.

I raised an eyebrow. “Twenty two? Another secret number?”

He clucked. “It’s 11 and 11.”

When I didn’t drop my eyebrow, he said “11,” pointed at me, “plus 11” and pointed to himself.

“Ohhhh.” I said.

“And, I got here at 11:11 today. I made sure of it.”

He nodded as if that said everything, which it didn’t.

“Okay,” I said with a shrug, “I’ll bite. What’s special about 1111?”

“Well, in numerology the number one is significant, as you can imagine. One is the smallest integer before zero. One is self. Every person is one. It indicates the universe, because there is only one. Mathematically, it’s also the basis for everything. Anything times one is one. Prime numbers are only divisible by themselves and one. When you get a pattern of one, it’s a sign of good luck.”

“Uh… huh,” I said.

“Oh! Look at the time here on the receipt. 12:45. Two minus one is one. Five minus four is one. One and one!” He beamed.

“Well, it would really be one minus two, and four minus five, which is negative one and negative one. Wouldn’t that be bad?”

“No!” He was really getting excited now. “Because negative one times negative one is … one!”

Yep, this date had absolutely gone south.

“Okay. Listen, Blaise.” I looked at my watch, “it’s almost One and I have to get going.”

I stood and slipped my jacket on.

“My treat?” I said and grabbed the bill.

He looked stunned, frozen.

When I walked to the register to pay, he snatched up his blazer and ran up to me. I studied a picture of a cat taped to the counter with the caption “You gotta be kitten me!”

“Can I see you again?”

I pocketed my change and turned to him. “I… don’t think so.”

Stunned look again.

“You’re a sweet guy, really but…” I shook my head. “Look, I’m sorry. I should give it to you straight.”

The the girl behind the register stood playing with her fingernails, mouth slightly agape, listening. I tugged his sleeve and led him outside. The spring air was fresh, sweet.

“The date started nice, but I’m just not feeling it. I’ve dated guys a lot like you and I know how this ends. I’m cutting to the chase and saving us both a couple of miserable months.”

“It’s the numbers thing.” He said.

“No. Well, yes, but not just that. The whole thing started to feel off while we talked, and I’m going to listen to that little voice for once.”

“But all the signs were there.”

“Blaise. Stop listening to,” I made air quotes, “signs and portents and just be yourself okay? If you like numerology that’s great, find someone who’s into it.”

“Wait!” He cried, and glanced at his watch. “Come with me!”

He grabbed my arm. I didn’t move. I looked at his hand, looked back to him.

“Sorry,” he said and let go. “But please, just come with me to the gas station.”

“What? Why?”

“I want to try something. If you come with me, I swear I’ll leave you alone.”

“Fine,” I said and followed.

He walked quickly, and glanced at his watch. I felt stupid.

“What are we doing?”

“An experiment.”

I sighed.

We walked to the corner Sunoco and went inside, a bell jingling as we entered the small storefront stuffed with junk food, auto liquids, and day old hotdogs on rotating racks.

He grabbed two daily lottery forms, filled one out with 1111 and handed me the other.

“Any four numbers you want, but hurry.”

“Oh for…” I muttered but filled in a random 9578, mostly to make this whole thing end faster.

“There. That’s all I wanted.” He tucked his newly printed ticket in a pocket, but not before pointing out that it had been sold at 1:11pm.

I snatched my ticket and left as quickly as I could.


#

Later that night I was shopping and trying to decide on pasta when my phone chimed. It was a text from Blaise. It read, “Check the numbers” with a smiley face.

“Oh my god, really?” I said and made my way to the lottery counter. Tonight’s numbers were on a bright, red LED.

Pick four: 6-3-1-1, it proclaimed.

I scoffed, and checked the winnings chart. Blaise had won $11.

“Even a broken clock is right twice a day,” I muttered and deleted his number.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Thanks for the crits, peeps, especially Joruichi for the details. Good feedback.



Also, I will probably regret this since I don't really have much time this week, but I can't say no to that prompt, so I am In like Flynn.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Yoruichi posted:

Who the fukc is Joruichi?

It's my Swedish accent. :shrug:

(seriously I don't know why the gently caress I typed that sorry.)

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

E: archived in Thunderdome archives

Doctor Zero fucked around with this message at 23:23 on Jan 1, 2020

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

In and claiming “Namyangju: the slow city

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Prompt: “Namyangju: the slow city”


Afflictions with Benefits
1961 words

Peering out of the underbrush at the cursed city, Tareth realized that it was going to make him rich. After struggling through swamps filled with small biting bastards of insects, reeking of damp, rotting vegetation, the stone towers and rude buildings seemed a blessing. But something was wrong. Or rather it should be. He expected dark clouds and lightning, swarms of beetles, creeping miasma, or other obvious and terrible signs of the curse. What he found instead was far more subtle.

The smooth skinned Salamen were sluggish, slowly plodding to and fro, going about daily tasks. The lethargy was at first odd to Tareth given the heat and humidity, but then he watched in astonishment as a merchant (or a farmer, who knew?) upended a basket of gray fungus pods into a cart - and they fell slowly. It was as if they were naught but wisps of fluff, wafting down. He didn’t understand magic, but he supposed if the city and its contents were cursed, and he was from outside…

This would need a test which would be insanely dangerous if he were wrong… But if not, then anything in the whole city would be his for the taking!

Did he dare?

Before he was fully conscious that he did dare, he was up and moving, readying his staff. He strode briskly into the road. The merchant/farmer was heading back to a dwelling, smaller Salamen, probably young ones threw a gracefully arcing stone between them, foot traffic lumbered up the road toward him.

He stopped.

Heads began to turn, the odd long, smooth faces changed - black eyes widening, mouths forming disturbingly human-like O’s of surprise. The pedestrians began to fling themselves aside ever so slowly. One of them let go of a sack which slowly drifted toward the dirt. Strangely drawn out voices erupted, completely unintelligible. Not that he would have understood them anyway.

“Ha!” He exclaimed and danced in a circle. “Ha! What a curse!”

Tareth dashed over, snatched the sack out of the air before it hit the ground and threw it (slowly) into its owner’s chest. The Salaman didn’t change its glacial reaction until the sack made contact and then it began the long process of pitching over backwards.

Tareth snapped a finger at it.

Walking up one dirt street and down another, the scene repeated itself. Heads turned, reactions drawn out into long pantomimes of surprise. He was sure the Salamen could see him, but they simply couldn’t move fast enough to do anything about it.

In one narrow intersection, a possibly female Salaman wearing a white robe raised a smooth jet-black skinned arm at him as if warding off the sun. A jeweled bracelet dangled on her/its wrist.

“Aha. Here we are.” Tareth rubbed his hands together and unfastened the bracelet even as she/it swung the other clawed hand lethargically at him. He deftly stepped aside from the blow and tsked, tucking the jewelry into a pocket.

He smelled spiced cooking meats and his stomach rumbled. He walked over to a market vendor’s stall and plucked a couple of skewers off a grill. He sniffed, and tested them with the tip of his tongue. Delicious!

He downed them, and three more by the time the merchant raised his arms in alarm. Tareth emptied the booth’s little box of silver coins for good measure.

While Salamen fled as if fighting through honey, he surveyed the city. He could spend all day picking pockets and emptying boxes of petty coins, but there had to be something really worthwhile somewhere.

In the center of town to the north stood a larger tower, with what looked like a gilded roof. A temple? Yes, worth a look.

The crowd drained away and four huge Salamen plodded into the intersection, jagged weapons drawn, shell armor bouncing like gauze.

Tareth shook his head sadly and approached from the side. They turned to adjust their charge, but too slow, too slow. He took his staff and planted the tip in front of the closest Salaman’s foot. The thing tripped in slow motion, the staff receiving the momentum with surprising force. The staff slowly splintered and broke. He prodded another guard’s shoulder with the remaining half and found it difficult to shove. Interesting. Their movements were hampered, but lost none of their force, He would need to remember that.

As the closest continued its graceful fall, the others began to swing weapons in long, slow arcs. Tareth didn’t want to know what would happen if they made contact, and wasn’t about to stay and find out. He headed up the road toward the tower.

#

As he approached the gilded tower, Tareth found his way blocked by a row of guards standing shoulder to shoulder. These had long pole weapons - nasty looking hooks and spikes on the end. Their armor was more substantial, possibly some kind of bone, with brightly colored scales attached. They wore helmets of the same scale

“Really, gentlemen. You should know when you’re outclassed.” He scoffed. “I’m surprised someone hasn’t already emptied out this place. Lucky for me, not.”

He sauntered up to them. He could back-track but they might have other routes blocked. How had they so quickly known he was approaching? No matter. More fun to go through them, anyway.

The tips of the weapons drifted toward him. When he was directly in front of a few, he lept to the right. The hooks began to weave back and forth. He stepped side to side, trying to avoid the tips, but they were hard to predict. Finally, he stepped between two hoping to squeeze between the guards, but they stood too close. He shoved one with the remaining half of his staff. They had their feet planted firmly and were strong! It was like pushing a wall. He could climb over, he supposed. He tossed the remains of his staff aside.

He felt pressure on his arms. Two of the poles were coming together. The pressure gave way to pain. They were slow, but not weak! He quickly turned sideways and ducked down before being crushed between the poles.

He scrambled back on all fours and stepped clear, rubbing an arm.

“Stupid and cocky!” He chided himself. He couldn’t let them make contact. They still had mass and strength. He turned around to consider his options.

While he had been facing off against the line of guards, more armed and armored Salamen had been pouring from doorways and blind alleys. Their footfalls we drawn out, harder to notice. drat them! Some wielded short curved swords, some pole weapons and shields, others whirled above their heads what looked like stones tied together with string. He could follow the stones, but if had they moved normally, they would just be a blur. The whirling stones flew free.

He only had a couple seconds to react. He ran.

A glance told him that one alleyway to the right was free of the Salamen that to poured out like half frozen slush down a spring stream. He made for it. Something caught his right foot, began to tighten. Thin ropes wrapped his ankle, began to cut off the circulation, slowly, inexorably. The stones impacted almost lovingly into the sides of his shin. Pain shot up through his leg at normal speed. He fell, a muffled scream escaped through clenched teeth.

He had little time. They would be on him soon, in their slow dance of hatred. He struggled with the stones and ropes, and untangled them from his foot. He stood up, not wanting to put weight on the leg, but needing too. It didn’t seem broken, lucky for him. He in sucked in a breath of pain, and flung the rocks at one of the approaching creatures. It would impact directly to the face in a few seconds, but there was no time to watch.

A spear was hurtling at him now, almost to him. He knocked it aside with a flinch and received a gouge across the back of his hand for it.

This was no longer worth it. Forget this accursed city.

Tareth swore a string of expletives - every single one he knew - and limped for the alley as fast as he could, dodging swung polearms, ducking around shields.

He stepped into the alley and felt a stab of white hot pain in his left arm. An arrow shaft passed through his bicep, another arrow swooshed past his left ear.

Arrows! He could follow the flight with his eyes barely, although even slowed they were hard to avoid. He had stepped right into one! They were anticipating him for certain!

He cried out in pain. Three archers stood ahead, already nocking new arrows. He dashed forward, calf and arm burning as he pumped them. Blood ran down his arm at regular speed.

The Salamen raised their bows as one. Tareth barely sidestepped one arrow - he felt it pass through his shirt, grazing his skin, and the other two brought their weapons to bear. He snatched the arrow from one bow, and plunged it into the neck of the other ready archer. Bright red blood began to gout out in a graceful arc.

He glanced back. The rest were coming into the alley behind him. He was momentarily satisfied to see the arrow he had dodged sink into the chest of a Salaman with a spear.

Tareth ducked past the archers, grabbing the arrows out of their quivers and flinging them away. He ran, ignoring the throbbing pain, not looking back.

The alley took a blind turn and he was terrified that he would come to a wall or dead end, but ahead it opened out again onto another street. A flash of excitement spurred him on.

The Salamen’s final attempt was pathetic, really. After facing mobs of creatures, spears, and bows, and stones, now four of them - two in doorways on either side - pulled a coarse, arm-thick rope up to knee height. It was well timed, Tareth gave them that much. If he hadn’t have been paying attention it might have worked. He supposed this may have been the plan all along - funnel him down this one path, give him no option, and then when he’s wounded and fearing for his life, simply trip him.

The fools.

Maybe if his leg in worse shape it would have been difficult, but now he easily sprang up (with a bolt of pain from his calf), and cleared the rope, landing gently -

The road gave way under him. For a split second he made contact with a thin wooden surface covered with dirt and then he was falling. And he fell at normal speed. Tareth had just enough time to wonder how they could have dug a pit already when he met the bottom and sharpened wood stakes skewered his legs, hips, and abdomen.

He screamed out, shredding his throat in raw agony.

How? How could they have had time to…

A sudden, wet cough brought up a gout of blood. Through watering eyes he looked around. He had been relatively lucky. Skeletons, tatters of clothes and flesh still hanging on bones, lay impaled through skulls and chests.

I wasn’t the first.

He looked up as his vision swam and dark shapes slowly appeared along the ragged edges of the trap. They had bows drawn.

He coughed again, or maybe laughed. He wasn’t sure through the pain.

And I won’t be the last. Cursed city indeed. He spat a gobbet of blood at them.

The last thing that went through his mind was an arrow in not much of a hurry.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

In with Ambedo

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Thanks for the crits, Fleta, Armack, and Nikaer Drekin!

Doctor Zero fucked around with this message at 22:52 on May 8, 2019

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Ambedo: A Moment You Experience For Its Own Sake

Moment by Moment
1315 words

“Are you on a pilgrimage, seeker?”

“Of a sort, yes,” the plain man in the blue and beige yukata replied to the temple caretaker.

I had never seen anyone on an actual pilgrimage before, so I did my best to nonchalantly peek at the man. He carried nothing, wore simple but comfortable looking sandals. His only possession seemed to be a pouch hanging from a belt.

I thought he didn’t look all that different from any other tourist drifting through the many temples to the various Buddhist gods, although it was mostly foreigners who dressed up in rented but traditional yukata and kimono, snapping pictures of each other every twenty steps, broads smiles and fingers raised in a ‘V’.

The caretaker, an ancient man, eyed the pilgrim, stooped and leaning on his simple broom fashioned from a cut branch and twigs. “I could tell by your manner. I wish you success in your travels, holy one.”

“I am not holy, but thank you.”

The older man smiled, and began again the endless task of sweeping gravel off of the paving stones.

I picked up my painting supplies box and canvas easel and wandered closer, intrigued.

The pilgrim bowed to the ancient caretaker, watched him for a few moments, then headed deeper into the temple grounds. He walked at half speed compared to everyone else - purposefully, intentionally, not meandering.

I followed at a distance. He never once looked at a temple, a stone lantern, an educational placard, nor followed the crowd. When he stood, he was a pole planted in a brook, streams of people flowing around him leaving him undisturbed. He looked past the historic buildings, or into the woods, or out over a sudden break in the trees, or at the passing humanity all but ignoring him.

I worked my way closer and nonchalantly stopped next to him. I was quite a bit taller, and I turned to look over his head at an imaginary point of interest.

“Can I be of assistance?” The seeker said, his voice cool and smooth like a stream over flat rocks.

I felt my face flush.

“Pardon me.” I tilted a stiff bow at him. “I didn’t mean to be rude. I just…”

We stood on coarse white gravel in a jog of the path between shrines. Wind whispered through the pines, the murmur of passersby lost and swept away. The sun filtered down through verdant needles in golden rays.

“…I’ve never seen anyone on a pilgrimage before. I didn’t know that kind of thing was still done.”

I could see now that he was older than I had thought, his face was creased, crows feet at the corners of his eyes, more salt than pepper scattered through his temples.

He nodded and said nothing.

I turned to him. “May I ask, sir, what it is you are seeking?”

He stared at the pines for so long, I wondered if he had even heard me.

“Moments,” he finally said.

I grew excited, and waved my art supplies. “If you’ll forgive my imposition, sir, I am also trying to capture moments. I was hoping to find -”
His lips pursed and he glanced at me. It was the first sign of emotion to change his serene expression that I’d seen.

“Not like that,” he said and walked away.

He picked his way through the throng and stopped to watch a boy, no older than five, trying to catch a grasshopper beneath the frowning countenance of an oni - a devil. The boy wore an expression of deadly seriousness, oblivious to everything but the insect, the father oblivious taking a picture of the boys’ sister who posed in front of the frowning statue, imitating the expression. I took out my phone and raised it for a picture, but the seeker glanced at me sideways. I hesitated, then put the phone away.

I walked over and watched the boy - always grabbing where the grasshopper had been two seconds earlier. The girl stuck out her tongue and the father snapped pictures on his phone with encouragement.

“Sir, sorry if I offended,” I said.

He turned to look at me fully. Studied my face.

“Have you painted something today?” He asked. “I would like to see it.”

“No, not yet.”

He grunted, looked again to the family. “A good start, then.”

I bristled.

“I have pictures of some of my work,” I offered.

“Would you show me?” He asked.

I dug my phone out. I scrolled through an album of my paintings - A sunset over a bay, a young woman in a yellow dress sitting alone on a park bench staring wistfully, an embracing couple - a bundle of flowers on the sidewalk below.

“You’re very good,” he said with a nod. “These are things you saw?”

“Yes.” I warmed with pride. This serene stranger’s praise felt better than any compliments I’d yet received. He had no investment, no reason to boost nor tear down my ego. It was what it was.

“So,” I ventured, “you don’t photograph, or paint?”

He shook his head. “No. I don’t capture.”

I furrowed my brow. “Do you write? Will you craft a story, keep a diary?”

He shook his head again. “That would also be capturing. Recording. I simply seek the moment.”

“Then, I am afraid I do not understand,” I said.

“No. You do not.” He nodded as if that was the wisest thing I’d yet said. “Walk with me if you wish, but please, no more questions. I could explain all day and night but it is better to just experience.”

I thought I might have felt chastised, but he didn’t sound critical.

So we walked in silence, stopping occasionally to look at random things: A young girl fixing her hair in a pocket compact; ants streaming to a gob of spilled ice cream; visitors to a shrine dropping coins into the collection box with a loud clunk before clapping three times and praying. We climbed a long, stone stairway where children ran past, laughing. He stopped and watched them. I tried to make the connection.

We came to an out of the way clearing with huge chunk of stone lurking in the center, carved with very old kanji. Pine trees stood in a circle, keeping whispering vigil over the monolith.

The seeker stepped to the edge of the trees, ignoring the stone. He stared out into nature, relaxed, hands clasped behind the small of his back.

I felt the overwhelming desire to paint - this figure out of another time, contemplating the universe.

“May I paint you sir?” I asked.

“If you must,” He sighed. “I cannot stop you.”

I hastily set up my easel before he might change his mind. I set down my box of paints and brushes, opened it, but stopped when I heard rustling.
I quietly straightened and looked into the trees.

There, stepping out from behind a thick, rough barked pine, a fox glanced at us. She held something dangling in her jaws. At first I thought it was a small rabbit, or maybe a large mouse. I froze. The fox froze. The object dangled and twisted. It was a kit.

The three of us stood still as statues, gazes locked. Seconds passed, then minutes. Time stretched out. It could have been years. I forgot about my phone, my easel. I just stared, trying not to let the moment end.

The fox blinked, and the spell broke. She trotted off with a backward glance.

“Did you see that?” I whispered.

“Of course,” He said turning to me. “And so did you.”

He looked over my blank easel.

“Your best work yet, I think.” I frowned and opened my mouth, but he raised a finger and tapped his forehead. “The moment, for the moment itself. Perfect. Just ours.” He smiled. “And the fox’s.”

I looked at the blank canvas and understood.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Thanks for the crits from last week!



gently caress it. In and flash me

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Theme: The Locals Don’t Go there

Go There Not
Words - 576



I told you we don’t go to that place - the woods of birch, with bark hanging from gnarled boles like dry flesh. But still you went, and at night and at full moon no less. It may have felt like bravery, may have taken all your courage to walk through the headstones in the moonlight when everything turns bone white and branches catch suddenly at your clothes. But it was stupidity. I told you about Carl Porter who had lost his daughter. Poor fool killed himself after going up there, so now nobody goes.

You wanted to see if the stories were true. I guess that’s a kind of thing you have to see for yourself. I tried to warn you but it’s too late. It’s only a matter of time, now.

See, it’s not just an old cemetery - it was something else long before. The common misconception is that it’s founded on an ancient indian burial ground, but that’s not true. The first people never buried anything there. They knew better.

For them, it was a mystic place. They gathered together and went on vision quests and performed rites. I’ve heard it told they even did the Ghost Dance in that spot. The elders believed it was the closest point to the spirit world - like buckskin scraped with a stone into near transparency. It’s just more connected than anywhere else.

It wasn’t until much later that white settlers founded the cemetery. The homesteaders that came made the mistake of leaving their dead there. Why would you bury bodies where the spirit world is closest? But they didn’t believe. They didn’t understand.

It’s the thinning between worlds that’s the key, made worse by the cemetery. That and the person who visits, especially at night and especially under the full moon. That’s why it doesn’t matter if it’s your loved one who is buried there or not. It’s like a screen door into a house. You don’t have to yell into the one door the person walked through - any will do. It’s what you yell that makes the difference. And a person in grief like you going up there when you and did wanting what you do, well that was screaming at the top of your lungs. And that’s why we don’t go there anymore, not after poor Carl.

I know you saw what you thought was your dead wife, and who knows, maybe it was. Or maybe it just looked like her. But it doesn’t matter, you got something’s attention there among the twisted birches and the dry stones poking up like rotten teeth. And once you get that something’s attention, you can’t lose it. See, a screen doesn’t keep everything out - things can still push through.

Here it comes. Don’t turn around. Don’t move. Maybe she won’t notice you if we stay real still. I know that place is miles away, but it doesn’t matter anymore. You have her undivided attention.

There’s movement in the trees and a chill in the night air, but it’s not the wind. Do you feel a wind? Neither do I.

No, I’m not afraid - I didn’t call her. She doesn’t want me, she wants her partner - to have and to hold, till death do you part.

She’s drawing close, now. There’s a whisper in the darkness - a shadow in the flickering light of the fire that doesn’t move with the rest.

She’s almost here.

What’s that behind your shoulder?

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

What's He building in there?

FROM THE DESK OF
Robert T. Bullick

May 20, 2019

Dear Mr. Waits,

I finally found out What's he building? as per your unanswered question on the Mule Variations album. Turns out it's a Gas-powered Two-stoke 6-Speed Reciprocating rear end Hammer, although I am afraid that doesn't fully satisfy curiosity and raises even more questions than we had at the onset.

Yours,

Bob Bullick,
Lincoln, Nebraska

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Sounds fun. Put me under People who will write the words.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Thanks for the crits !

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Thanks chili!

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Don't Drink the Pink Water
970 Words


Thank you for helping me. I am happy to have new friends. My old friends were mean to me and I didn’t want to be friends with them anymore. They hit me so I hit them back and now they are not my friends and you are my friends. Now I am happy.

My name is Sed. It used to be Said Ric but that name is stupid and doesn’t make sense. I don’t know Ric and I don’t care what he said, so now my name is Sed which is easier to say and I make it like S-E-D.

We came to this below the ground building place that’s not a rock hole because we were looking to stop the bad people and find good things, but it turns out my old friends were the bad people. I guess they were not really my friends. They were just people I walked places with and did things. But it’s easier to just say friends.

I had three friends and we found a room where you make special colored water that has power. There was a bottle of pink water that has power and my friends said I should try it. I didn’t want to but they said I was a Pal.. Pull.. something with a P that means I fight and I am a really good person. They said it would be okay so I drank the pink water but then my head hurt a lot and I forgot my words. That’s what Nuz said anyway. Nuz has a bigger name but I can’t say it anymore. He was a man who wears a dress and can make power come from a big stick and he said the pink water made most of my words go away. I said he should have drank the pink water and he laughed and said it was better I did it, which made me mad.

I used to know a lot more words and some were God words, but I can’t remember them anymore, so I asked the man who talks to God to help. His name was Bran. I can say Bran’s name. He is really short like his name and had a lot of face hair. He said he couldn’t ask God to help because the pink water had a different kind of power than his, but I think he was laughing at me behind my back too.

My last friend, who was really tall and had funny ears and carried a stick with a line that shoots smaller sticks that are pointy, said that we should finish what we were doing and then they could get me help in the town that is close. His name was long and I forgot it when I forgot my words. So I called him Tall Man.

We kept walking in this below ground building that is not a rock hole, and found many bad things. They were brown and smelly like dogs and very loud, but I hit them with my long, sharp metal stick and they stopped making noise, so that was good.

But Nuz kept laughing at me. He said that I talked like a stupid person, but I am not stupid, I just forgot words. He said I talked like “Sed Ric will hit you smelly brown dog things with my stick!” But that’s not true, I can say “I”, only stupid people say their own name when they talk. I told him that. Nuz laughed and said I could not even say his name anymore. I said that I couldn’t say Tall Man’s name either but that just made him laugh more. Tall Man tried to make him stop but he wouldn’t.

I got mad and pushed Nuz and said he wouldn’t laugh if he couldn’t remember his words and couldn’t do the power with his stick. Nuz fell over and also got mad. Nuz hit me in the head with his stick and said if he hit me hard in the head maybe my words would come back. I grabbed his stick and broke it. Then he got really mad. He said I broke his power when I broke his stick and he tried to hit me with his hands, but he was not strong so I pushed him again but maybe too hard. He hit the wall and stopped talking. Bran and Tall Man got mad then too. Tall man pointed his sticks at me, and Bran said he already used a lot of God words and it would be hard to help Nuz, but I said good. Then Bran hit me with his big ball on a stick, so I hit him with my big metal stick and he stopped talking too. Tall Man didn’t yell but he looked sad and shot me with his pointed sticks. It hurt. I grabbed him and he put a small metal stick in me and I shook him until he didn’t talk anymore.

I felt bad after that because I was supposed to be a good person, but they made me so mad and hit me and I had to make them stop. That was when you guys showed up. You saw what I did and you helped me and made the hurts feel better.

So you are my new friends now. You don’t make fun of Sed, I mean me. Even though you are green and look strange and smell bad and talk funny, you helped me, so I will help you if any more people come from the town that is close. I am happy now. Having friends is good, so I will be a person who is good for my new friends.

Just don’t make me drink any colored water that has power, okay?

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Poor Rosa. In.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

E: archived in Thunderdome archives

Doctor Zero fucked around with this message at 23:24 on Jan 1, 2020

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Thanks for the crits all!


So was Rosa some kind of in-joke? I searched archives and I didn’t see anything. :shrug:

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Djeser posted:

This week. It has been delayed slightly due to health reasons, but judgement is coming.

That said, as there's only one judge, anyone who does crits for last week's stories will be much appreciated, I'm sure.

I can provide crits.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Thunderdome Week 363: Face Our Gods and March Backwards Into Hell

Djeser - Judge

Since Djeser is lone wolfing this week, and since he’s got a mysterious condition (have you seen any dead face huggers around, Djeser?) I’ll jump in to provide NON-SCORING crits. I thought this was an interesting theme this week, but didn’t sign up because I am a scrub. But I also don’t know exactly how close Djeser wanted the prompt to figure into the story. My take here is the story should at least give me a good feel of the theme of judgement with the aspect that you selected or were given. YMMV. Overall I agree with Djeser this was a strong week.

Let’s begin, shall we?

:woop::woop::woop:

#1 - Uranium Phoenix - Sins of the Past

What worked for me: The theme fit well and you have some pretty nice concepts, such as the “tomb” world with a fleet of empty starships, waiting for someone to pass the tests and ascend. It feels like a glimpse into fairly deep world with some thought put behind it.

What didn't: I think you tried to fit too much into too little, or what you had wasn’t convincing. The beginning doesn’t grab like it should, and the end seemed too abrupt. I feel like you spent too much time setting up and then rushed the end. As an example, the other trials are one half of a sentence, but you have a whole section of the protag saying goodbye to her child. The emotional investment building could be more efficient. I think you meant the dialogue to be archaic, but it came off as stiff. Pronouns sometimes were unclear - I had to re-read sentences to be sure I understood.

Overall: Neat premise needed better execution. 2/5


#2 - Yoruichi - Apis

What worked for me: Nice and short, and well-crafted story about an insect queen without anthropomorphizing. Felt ‘authentic’ and relatable, even though it’s about a frickin’ bee. I liked this quite a bit.

What didn't: You started out talking about memories and then dropped it. Would have been nice to somehow tie that in again at the end. The last line seems a little abrupt and I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a metaphor or literal. Maybe that’s the intention? How it fits the theme is lost on me.

Overall: Although doesn’t (to me) have much to do with the prompt, nice work. 4/5


#3 - Drunk Nerds - Beakbait

What worked for me: another great short one. I liked the tone of the protag - the serious archaic talk with a humorous commentary. Even though it’s short, you effectively wove in good descriptions of the afterlife. I liked the line of millions of dead souls, filing into their judgement. Nice ending.

What didn't: I don’t know why your first 3-4 lines are separated. They could be one paragraph. You say the one soul is different too many times. Once, and then describe how so is fine. I got it. Um…. I’m kind of struggling for anything else here.

Overall: Nice use of theme, and style. 4/5


#4 - Vinestalk - Delivered

What worked for me: Good use of theme. I like stories with a cyclical flow. I think the urban take on the afterlife was a nice, almost Beetlejuice flavor.

What didn't: However, it just didn’t gel for me The main character is in purgatory burning off his anger, which is nice, but either we’re too far into his cycle or you just didn’t state why Dax is angry. Therefore, I don’t really care as a reader. It’s just generalized teenage angst at this point, which doesn’t do it for me anymore. It would have been good to know Dax is pissed because Becky Chisolm wouldn’t let him put his hand up her shirt, or he got caught spray painting anarchy symbols or whatever. Make me feel that anger draining away, don’t just tell me.

Overall: Fell flat for me. Not bad, just flat. Needs a couple of re-writes. 2/5


#5 - Ironic Twist - Dead Ernest

What worked for me: What is it with good stories about insects this week? This story made me feel uncomfortable and grossed out, but in a very good way. Good humor - I laughed way too hard at “I LARVAE YOU LONG TIME”. I never expected “I have a collection of nose hairs” to be a memorable line of something I’ve read, but here we are.

What didn't: Man, this is tough. I don’t think I have much to put here, other than it may have been nice if the protagonist had a nickname for the other maggot better than “the guy next door”. Also the “yellow tufted mouth” I assume is some kind of bird, and it made me stop and try to suss out what it was too much, pulling me out of the story.

Overall: 4/5


#6 - Flerp - What is Given

What worked for me: drat YOU FLERP FOR MAKING ME TEAR UP WHEN READING A THUNDERDOME STORY. Seriously, this has the feels all up in it. Good job. Nice use of different senses for the animal characters. Once again, drat YOU FLERP I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING :argh:

What didn't: The Zookeeper’s story is too specific. Does the lion understand the concept of guns and bullets all the sudden?

Overall: Polish this baby up and submit it somewhere or I cut you. :ese: If I were really judging this would be HM, probably winner, but I’m not, sorry, so you just get my love. Lucky you. 4.5/5


#7 - Pham Nuwen - The Walls of Busiris

What worked for me: Interesting setting, and situation. I like the puzzle of trying to figure out how to breach the defenses.

What didn't: Typos in the first two words :smith: [self edit: I cheated and looked at crits posted after I started this and I *thought* you were trying to say “Know that” but you really did mean “Now ken” - ugh. Bad writer. No cookie.] and elsewhere, proofread your work. I think you were going to an imperious, archaic style, but unfortunately it didn’t work. You use “I did [do action]” in the wrong places (“I did leave my food and run”) … The word order is really inconsistently awkward in places “Sent I then for a clever artificer…” - bad, “Long did I sit in thought after this.” - good. Again, I know you’re going for archaic, but you miss the mark a lot. The sudden anachronism of walkie talkies or whatever it was is jarring. Nowhere else do you hint this isn’t just some fantasy world, and honestly, it feels jammed in and out of place. The last line about building walls misses the mark. Are you implying a cycle of repetition, where Daro now becomes the defender? Daro brags about the foolishness of others, and then sets himself up to be the next fool for some reason? I spent way more time trying to figure this out than I should have.

Overall: Prose style fail, although interesting take on the theme. 1.5/5


#8 - Simply Simon - The Good of Generations

What worked for me: I liked the generational nature of the story. You managed to successfully convey many generations within a short work. In the penultimate generation, when Joseph mentions a curse they can’t escape I immediately said to myself “Except by NOT COMING ANYMORE” and then, you did that, which was good, but maybe hide the fingerprints a little better so I don’t jump to the resolution before the end. Still nice resolution.

What didn't: You spent too much time dwelling on Jacob & Jacob. However, you also could have hinted a bit more that the previous corpses were somehow related rather than random. Jacob and Jacob are a neat affectation but it was presented confusingly. Who’s got the focus of the first section, Jacob Jr, right? If so, saying things like “Father Jacob” feels unnatural. Spears vs Harpoons line is unnecessary and clunky. However, I actually liked this quite a bit, but it had a rocky start that could be cleaned up and it took too long to get its legs under it.

Overall: Good use of theme, neat generational story that started shaky. A few more re-writes needed. 3/5


#9 - Derp - The Tomb!

What worked for me: Derp, for a few weeks now, after your epiphany, I’ve been seriously thinking that you’re trolling us. I read each week’s entries even if I don’t enter, and I am honestly trying to figure out what the actual gently caress you are trying to do. Your last few entries have been … well, something all right, and when I started reading this one, I thought “Here we go again.” But you know what? Whatever it is you are up to is beginning to work. Maybe it’s literary Stockholm Syndrome, maybe you are trolling and accidentally getting better, or maybe you are genuinely trying an over the top, ridiculous style, but whatever the case, it seems like it’s working. This goddamn story is just plain fun. I would love to see this in comic form, because the image of the Horned one with hollow eye sockets sitting in an easy chair by the fire reading is marvelous. The turn the story took in the middle is effective because it veers in a crazy direction I wasn’t expecting (and who could?) without being just random bullshit.

What didn't: The beginning drags on juuuuust a little bit. Consider maybe cut down the soliloquy or maybe not. Just when it started to grate on the nerves, you shift into the good stuff. The first line could be punched up a bit.

Overall: Shine on, you crazy diamond. 4/5


#10 - Black Griffon - Things that are not

What worked for me: The vague horror and discomfort and helplessness of Ferris. Nice twist on the theme. Good prose which evokes the scene without being overly purple.

What didn't: Unfortunately some things stick in the craw and spoil an otherwise nice story. I’m not clear on the call to the secretary. I think Ferris is trying to move the appointment because he doesn’t know how long he’ll be in the cave, and if so, could be made somewhat more clear, or while we don’t know how long he was in the cave, it doesn’t feel that long because it’s still dark and raining when he comes out. The “not buying a flashlight because he doesn’t want anyone to know” doesn’t strike true. Wouldn’t someone be more interested in why he’s driving wherever he’s going late at night than the fairly normal act of buying a flashlight? Could represent this better. The things no one remembers is neat, but I don’t see how those relate to wine. Do they? Or are they past things that are now gone? This “In the cave, a presence spins the memory of wine into the same oblivion as the cornuseria and the lifting rooms and the bleeding gift, where it doesn't wait to be used by some entity.” Is a little obscure and awkward. There are other awkward phrases that don’t work.

Overall: I could put even more in ‘what didn’t work’ mostly because the things that didn’t work stand out starkly in contrast to what does. I wanted to like this a lot but kept tripping on rough spots and phrases. Give this a few revisions, and it would tidy up quite nicely, I think. 3/5


#11 - Sitting Here - Oceanatrix

What worked for me: Oh my god, that opening paragraph is amazing. :swoon: I get chills at the phrase “wet, neon-kissed streets”. I like the interjection on the First Woman, and the turn about on Biblical canon. Really good tapping into the horrible treatment of women in general which feels timely without being too preachy. I want to punch Danny in the mouth myself.

What didn't: Not sure how the protagonist saw the mouthed words “loving bitch” if he’s turned to look at Sandra’s back. I got hung up on trying to place the action more than I should have here. While I like the interjection about the First Woman, it kind of sticks out in the middle there. I didn’t really mind it, but it would have been nice to tie it more directly to the protagonist. But the real issue is that the prose flattens out after the interjection and feels almost… pedestrian afterward, which makes the end fall flat. You work us into righteous fury at this Danny rear end in a top hat and then just drown him in a globe of water. Which 1) is kind of a letdown. I expected something more elaborate and subtle, and 2) is rather extreme for him being a dick. Yes, he’s absolutely a dick and an rear end in a top hat and would have probably assaulted / raped Sandra, but does that warrant a death sentence? Seems extreme to me, and almost like revenge porn in the final moments which is unsatisfying. Should Danny get his comeuppance? Oh hell yeah, but it’s too easy (and again, over-the-top) to just kill him. Make the bastard suffer.

Overall: Very strong start that wanders off at the end. Bring the ending up to a level of the beginning, and this would have blown everything else out of the water (eh? eh?), but as is I give it a 4/5.


#12 - Sparksbloom - Exsanguination

What worked for me: Neatly written. Fairly brisk prose. There’s more backstory obvious here that you don’t dive into with info-dumps, which is good, the story is short and well contained, not sprawling out of control. You played with the prompt in a very different way.

What didn't: Having said that, it also doesn’t have much supporting it. I don’t understand the importance of Jordan’s aunt and what it has to do with the cow, which seems to somehow be tied together, but it escapes me. The main character should either have a name introduced sooner, or drop the name completely. Does she need a name? When Kathleen was mentioned it took me a while to figure out who the heck that was. Jordan is simultaneously flat and has interesting character building. What I mean by this is that you paint some interesting detail, like folding her trash and keeping it, and the ‘standing invitation’ which doesn’t go anywhere within the context of the story. I almost feel like I’m reading a page that has been ripped out of a book. Don’t let people stab cows, you monster.

Overall: Competent mechanically, but loses me as to what the point is. 3/5


#13 - Obliterati - As Above, So Below

What worked for me: Interesting dichotomy between twins. Non-traditional prose format here works to make the story feel interesting. Not sure if you did it intentionally or not, but while I chafed a little at first on it, I quickly fell into the rhythm. I like the juxtaposition of the astrological and the technical. There’s obvious depth to the characters that isn’t beat over my head. I like the retrograde theme that recurs but I wonder why you picked Libra and not Gemini. Maybe Gemini would be too obvious.

What didn't: I think you might be bouncing between referring to the brother as ‘you’ and ‘he’ alternately, and I’m not sure if it’s a mistake or not. If not, then I don’t know who ‘he’ was referring to. I also didn’t get who was in the lab that was torn down. It’s sadly quite distracting. The notebook is problematic, and you emphasize it too much. You state that the brother will read the horoscope, presumably on the notebook, and then you have to mention it a bunch to make sure we know it wasn’t going to be broken down, but then the protagonist sends a signal back to Earth and the notebook seems like an unnecessary distraction.

Overall: I liked it, but wanted it to be better. A little light to the prompt but still satisfying it, the interesting style and story is unfortunately muddied by unclear pronouns. 3.5/5


#14 - Antivehicular - Lights in the Cavern of Wrong

What worked for me: Unique take on the theme of “judgement.” I wondered what the heck you were going to do when you were assigned the prompt, and I think you hit it well. There’s some interesting tension that may be intentional or not about the definition of “boy” in this case, someone who isn’t as together (and perhaps) younger than their boyfriend, or maybe I’ve been drinking too much LIT101 juice and it was a happy accident, but I still liked it. Sweet story about the stress of new relationships, handled sensitively, and set in Ikea which is great. I actually liked that the characters spent most of the story NOT talking about the conflict kept me in suspense. I love how Stan’s “kink” is kind of random, harmless, and cute, but he’s obviously bothered by it.

What didn't: You had the issue I frequently run into with dialogue, but you are being judged, not me. It’s too authentic. It sounds like you were writing down every word, stammer, interjection, and inflection and it was distracting. I’m quite sure you saw and heard the interactions clearly in your head, but you have to edit it down to reflect realistic dialogue, not transcribe it. I liked the ending, but I feel it could have been played up a liiiitle bit more. You did a good job keeping the tension alive, but the “kink” is revealed quickly. Might have been nice for a little bit longer tease, but not too much.

Overall: Neat character piece that isn’t harmed by being harmless. You float the tension across the story well. 4/5


#15 - Solitair - The Secret-Keeper

What worked for me: I liked the alien viewpoint, trying to tell the story from a race with a different structure, physique, etc. Seems to be a pretty thought out world without too much collapsing on its own weight. I was afraid it might get impenetrable, but it never did.

What didn't: Nothing really happens. Kenta interrogates someone, the government collapses, Kenta learns the truth. And… that’s it. It doesn’t help that none of the characters in the story are directly involved in the conflict. I mean, the one responsible for the misdirection is mentioned in passing, and Kenta doesn’t really feel the effects of the revolution. He’s given a new job. Moves on with life. There’s no character development. The first line misses the mark being “okay, move it along” in essence. Grab me with that first line! You don’t want to assign gender, so you rely on ‘their’ as the personal pronoun, which is fine (although I would prefer ‘it’ since they aren’t human, but there I go being species-ist) but if you do that you have to made drat sure every time you use ‘their' I am clear on to whom it refers. I wasn’t clear. You’ll have to work it better or fall back on names. It’s a challenge to pull off.

Overall: Interesting setting with nothing actually happening. Confusing personal pronouns. 2/5


#16 - Nikaer Drekin - The Heavy Heart

What worked for me: Good theme use. You talked about the judgement of the gods, but turned it inward. Good prose, interesting character. The core of the theme is nice (you must sin to understand it).

What didn't: Sadly, it got a bit muddled. I liked it, but it seemed to stray too far afield of the message before coming back. I am going to break my unwritten rule for this crit and give you specifics on how I would fix it. Read the story over again, decide what it’s about, and revise to that point. For example, I thought the “interaction” (*ahem*) with the house wife was nice and felt like something a caring old god would do. But it’s the opposite of neglect, or at least it’s a different sin, IMO. I’d have rather seen Hot Foot going around neglecting things, at least in subtle ways, before he realizes it and goes back to Anubis. Oh, and you have the same issues as Solitair with pronouns. Either assign Hot Foot a gender, or be more careful with the use of ‘their’ and use the name more. Spend a little less time on Hot Foot’s rage and exile, or at least tighten it up. That’s more time you can spend commenting on the human condition. Also, verb tense is inconsistent - you use past tense for some sentences, (not in the flashback). Check those carefully.

Overall: I really wanted to rate this higher because I think it has potential, but it needs to have the focus sharpened. 3/5


#17 - Anomalous A
malgam
- Live Honestly

What worked for me: Pretty well written with only a few clunky phrases that could be caught in another round of editing. Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, despite the judgement theme. Didn’t go the way I would expect it to, given the unexpectedly magnanimous nature of the god, although it is the god of truth, and he told the truth so, I guess that jibes.

What didn't: Doesn’t take enough chances. Seems more like a vignette than a story. The main character is asked to Live Honestly, but we never see him make a decision to change. What conflict here is resolved?

Overall: Not bad, but sort of middling. 3/5


#18 - Pepe Silvia Browne - The Assessment at Miccosukee Indian Village

What worked for me: Takes a nice turn after the first interstitial and gets better, less expected. Sia is a cool character. I liked her. Seth didn’t end up being as annoying as I feared at first. I liked how all the “gods” were so nonchalant. Serviceable prose. Tongue-in-cheek in the beginning was good.

What didn't: Too much tell. You told us a lot how frustrated Seth was when you could have showed us. As an example, the first sentence was great, and then the second paragraph was just telling us about the rage. The “I’S FURSE” bit cracked me up, but then I thought maybe it was a heavy dialect, and later he just talks normal. Was that the stoke symptoms? :iiam: Again, here is a character that everything happens to, and he doesn’t get a chance to do anything. A little bit after the “zinger” last line to show how he changed (or didn’t) would go a long way here. I was really hoping for a good Falling Down feel from this, but it never hit.

Overall: There’s a decent start here that needs to be dug out. 3/5


#19 - Thranguy - Shattered

What worked for me: I liked this. The tone, the style, the humor was all good. I loved the one-trick magics, and I loved how the plot revolves on someone who is way better than everyone thought and hiding it to be mediocre. That, I was not expecting.

What didn't: The “I ruined everything” line comes a little late, I think it could be moved up, because that’s your hook. On the plus side, the rest of the intro kept me reading, so it’s a minor quibble. I’d like to hear a bit more about what Min did to Matt’s crops, but you’re bumping into the word count. I still think you could have squeezed in just a little more explanation than “Oh, it was me. They found me out.” Your main character doesn’t have too much agency other than being the change agent. That’s not normally ideal, but it works here anyway. Really, these aren’t major issues, though.

Overall: A good piece. I’d like to read more in this universe. 4/5


#20 - Sebmojo - Steamed

What worked for me: Really smooth prose. Smooth like expensive bourbon. You fit a whole lot into 600 words. I couldn’t believe that’s all it was. It felt much longer (in a good way). Just enjoyable to read. I loved the conversation about water. It felt like something about of an art film. Again, in a good way. Like I should sit down with a drink and savor this. Prompt is subtle here, but not absent.

What didn't: Despite how much I enjoyed the reading of this story, I have to admit I am a little unsure what happened. I feel kind of silly admitting that, but you know what, I still really liked it. It struck me like a Gene Wolf piece that you have to let settle into your brain and squish around for a while, maybe read it a time or four more. So, I’m not sure this ultimately belongs in ‘what didn’t’ but, there it is.

Overall: Nicely crafted Wolfian short that made me feel like a dummy. This absolutely would have been an HM if I was a judge and I would have cut anyone who argued. 4.25/5


#21 - Siddhartha Glutamate - Imperfect Hearts

What worked for me: Man, here is another nice piece of prose. It all flows smooth and warmly. It feels natural like it comes from a fully fleshed out character. The prompt is (once again) nicely subverted into an interesting take. Good cadence. I like how the reader doesn’t know the father isn’t talking to an adult child until later in the story.

What didn't: Are you German? You don’t need to capitalize Doctor or Nurse unless they are named. …. um…. let’s see…. The last two sentences both begin with “but”…. um… Yeah. That’s about it.

Overall: I really enjoyed this, and I enjoyed the take on the prompt. I think there are other stories this week that are just a little bit stronger, but this is a good entry. 4/5

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Davin Valkri posted:

.. or more like They're Made Out of Meat?

poo poo, that gives me an idea. In.

If we toxx do we get more werdz?

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

E: archived in Thunderdome archives

Doctor Zero fucked around with this message at 23:25 on Jan 1, 2020

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

My bad.

Mine for “Out of this World” was: Your character is an Enneagram 3!

Sorry, archivist!

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

sebmojo posted:

don't respond to crits, people will yell at u (doing it in discord is fine)

I AM GOING TO RESPOND TO A CRIT!



Thanks for them!!

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Thanks for the crit!

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Toaster Beef posted:

...criticism from talented writers and editors...

Did you post this in the right thread? :raise: :D

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Sitting Here posted:

Boy those are a lot of posts that aren't signups. Fix that.


:hai:

I would like to unburden another.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

E: archived in Thunderdome archives

Doctor Zero fucked around with this message at 23:26 on Jan 1, 2020

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Thanks for the crits!!

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Sitting Here posted:

To add to this, we will be going around to each of our submitters and confirming:

-The name or username by which you'd like to be identified.
-If we make any edits (they would be small corrections only), we'll ask you if that's ok.


Completely unrelated: October is my birth month. My kingdom to whoever takes it upon themselves to run a Voidmart week between now and the end of October. I can't think of a better gift than the opportunity to write a Voidmart story :) :) :)

:hfive: fellow Octoberite.

How does the “selection” work? Are you guys looking for winners? HMs?

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

SlipUp posted:

Any of ya yellah bellied cringlings brave enough to brawl me or are ya'll too busy soiling your breeches?

*Sets down cup of tea*

I say, that’s some very bad manners and also extremely rude. One doesn’t just go about calling people cringlings. Never mind that I don’t even know what the word means, that’s beside the point. One simply does not behave this abominably in public.

Therefore I feel it is my duty to teach you a lesson.

*rips shirt off and flexes*

BRING IT ON, SUCKA!

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Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Flesnolk posted:

No.

Now as I was saying:

SlipZero brawl

It took me a little bit to think of a prompt. So give me 2000 words max about someone who has to make an important decision, do something important, and just... doesn't have it. They don't necessarily need to fail, but I want relatable stories about that struggle. I think we've all been there, and all felt like useless hack frauds when we were. I'm going to make this a little harder: No speculative elements, and no nonhuman characters. Pets are okay. Stories don't have to be in the year 2019 AD but let's keep dragons and the fae and stuff out of here.

You have until October 17th, 2019

:hai:

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