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Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


in, bonus me daddy


Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Staggy posted:

Your beast is the Parandus.
The sound of a church bell will reveal the true form of a parandus.

You Can Taste It
999 words

Ten days after the killing, and the long voyage across the sea, Pakuha and Mahakoa reached the horn of a long great island. The size of the island was unknown; it stretched off into the haze. Judging by what they could see from the ocean, it must take hours to cross on foot. They landed on the beach and carried their stolen canoe up past the tide line.

The sand was clean and white, the sea a brilliant green, the jungle cool and dark. The brothers had seen fish and crabs as they closed on the island, numerous and easy to catch. There would be plenty of good working fibers and wood from the palms and other trees. They wouldn't want for anything.

Pakuha set off to survey the extent of their new island. Mahakoa stayed to cook and dry the fish.

Pakuha came back hours later, changed, his good spirits gone. Mahakoa asked what happened; Pakuha only shook his head. His brother must come with him. He turned and walked away.

Mahakoa watched him reach the edge of the island where the beach curved around the forest, then sprinted across the sand to join him.

A stone hut squatted on a rocky outcropping on the beach on the other side of the island, larger than the huts of their old home. A large stone blocked its doorway; it would not be budged. The entire hut was carved from a single block of foam-gray stone, with strange decorations on its top. Mahakoa felt uneasy there. It clicked and trilled like forest birds and seagulls.

Who had made this? They had seen no sign of anyone else living on the island.

They returned to camp, Pakuha quiet the whole way, answering Mahakoa's questions with first grunts, then silence. They feasted on crabs and fish. They talked about the distant past, childhood. Mahakoa even coaxed a laugh from his brother. They tried to forget about the huge stone hut on the far side of the island.


The next morning, Pakuha woke before his brother. His head buzzed.

As the first gray light of dawn streamed through the canopy, an animal emerged from the forest. Its coat was shaggy and thick, brown fur that hung in waves washing over four thin and spindly legs like a young palm. It was a deep rich brown color, with spikes on its head like ferns.

Like the top of the stone hut.

Silently, the animal returned to the forest.

Pakuha thought to grab his spear and stalk the strange creature. His brother stirred beside him. He would likely have no chance to catch it on his own—not against something that big. He sat and waited.

Mahakoa was unimpressed by his brother's story. Even seeing the prints by the forest's edge, he was not convinced. It could be a pig, a large bird—he would hear no argument.

Come, Mahakoa said, let's make a hut. It gets too cold here at night. He sent Pakuha into the forest to gather wood and palm leaves.

He was gone for hours. Mahakoa collected what he could from the beach, cleared and flattened the earth far from the shore, then threw down his club. His calls into the forest went unanswered.

With nothing else to do, he stretched out at the worksite and dozed.


It was dark when Pakuha returned, running out of the jungle, shouting, his eyes catching a crazy campire gleam. Mahakoa jumped to his feet. He couldn't make out what his brother was saying—something about the hut.

The hut? Yes, the hut! Where is the wood? Mahakoa asked.

Pakuha had nothing. He grabbed his brother's shoulders and shook him. Mahakoa pushed him and he fell back onto the sand, breathing heavily, staring up at his brother, uncomprehending.

The wood, Pakuha. Pakuha kept staring up at him, mouth agape, the fire casting weird shadows across his face. Gradually, his breathing slowed.

What I saw back there, Pakuha said quietly. The stone hut. It makes sounds, always, always, sounds like birds, and as the sun sets it glows—it glows like fire but there's no smoke—there's no fire but it glows—no fire...

There was no fire. It had burned out. Mahakoa kicked sand over the embers and collapsed on his bead of leaves in the middle of the worksite. He had heard enough.


The beach was empty at sunrise, Pakuha nowhere to be found. Mahakoa pulled a crab up from their net to cook for breakfast. He gathered some sturdy branches from the edge of the forest and began to strip and prepare them to make a frame, but by midday he grew annoyed. He set off in the canoe to find his brother.

Mahakoa paddled beside a long stretch of white sand. The sea spray spattered his face and hair, the waves undulating below, gently rocking the canoe as he rowed. He turned the next curved of the beach and saw his brother.

Pakuha stood on the beach beside the stone hut, staring out at sea. Mahakoa beached the canoe and ran ashore, demanding an explanation.

They're coming, Pakuha said.

Mahakoa followed his gaze seaward. He saw nothing—no—a series of dots on the horizon, growing, bobbing on the waves. He couldn't make out any details, or tell who it was on those canoes, but he knew. It was the dead man's brother and a war party assembled with him. He turned to run for their canoe, then froze.

From inside the hut, a sound clanged, harsh and jarring, like the brothers had never heard before—once—twice—a dozen times—until their ears rang along with it. Then the stone in the doorway slid aside, and something moved in the darkness. Mahakoa cried and lifted his spear but there was a flash of fire from the doorway and his chest tore open and he fell dripping out onto the sands.

Pakuha looked down at his brother with pity. This is the judgement, he said.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


flerp posted:

week 336 crits

ive written too many words on too few stories but i dont want them to go to waste. i will probably, eventually, write crits of more stories this week and they will probably, unfortunately, be as in-depth


Ok, let’s talk about something called “active voice.” Let’s look at this sentence and I’ll explain why it’s bad


The words of Peter's sister still rang in his ears as he dug through the dirt, seeking some trace of the buck's passing.

So, when you read this sentence, the first noun is “words” and our brains go ok that’s the subject of the sentence. BUT! That’s actually not the true subject, because the actual subject, the person doing things in the sentence, is Peter. This is why the sentence is passive -- the object of the sentence comes first, and then the subject comes later. The sentence would be better as


Peter heard his sister’s voice in his head as he dug through the dirt, seeking some trace of the buck’s passing.

Notice two things. First, The action is immediate. Peter is hearing something immediately and gives the protagonist more agency. In the first sentence, it’s like something is happening to Peter. In the second, Peter is now doing something, even if it’s just hearing. Subtle, but it makes the sentence more engaging. The second thing is that it cuts down word count. It’s two words less, which might not seem like a lot, but flash fiction is all about doing as much as possible in as little space as possible, so cutting down two words while making the sentence stronger gives you two more words to work with later on in the story.

Besides passive voice problem throughout,

Uhhhhhh that ain't passive voice. Not only does the verb "to be" (in any conjugation) not appear, there's not even a single past participle.

Avoiding passive voice tends to be overemphasized in writing advice out of proportion to the problem, much like the advice to never use an adverb; bad writing often has too much passive voice or too many adverbs, so grammar mavens tell you to never use either, as if that will fix your writing problems. In both cases, robotically following that advice can do more harm than good. There are certain cases when it's most concise, or even most correct, to use the passive voice. Generally, when the passive voice in a work is a problem, it's a symptom of something else; as you point out, the real problem with this sentence is not that its subject is an intangible object (which has nothing to do with passive voice, anyway), but that the subject shifts over the course of the sentence. Such a subject change is basically always an error, and it causes a disorienting garden-path feeling in the reader. The worst thing is it's hard to detect, because it often happens while you're inattentively revising a sentence and either incompletely combine two thoughts or don't finish converting from one to the other.

sebmojo posted:

Fuschia Tude You can taste it[/b]

Thanks, seb!

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Staggy posted:

Week 336 Crits Part 5

Bolt Lux posted:

Thunderdome Week 336 Crits (Part The Last)

Thank y'all!

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


gimme a flash rule, rulepunk

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Flying High
1996 words

With a flick of her wrist she set the data cubes spinning. Pon watched the data flow, analyzing it faster than the human eye could process with the help of her implant, watching as it was intercepted at the source and diverted to a storage device at her fingertips.

"How we looking, Jasy?" she asked under her breath.

"Clean and crunchy." Her sister's voice was clear but distant. The implant producing sound by manipulating the small bones of her inner ear, inaudible to any potential eavesdroppers.

Pon heard footsteps approaching. Metal-soled boots on polished tile.

"Gotta cut this," Pon hissed. She waved away the display and shut the screen. It folded up and tucked itself out of view into a slot in the wall. Jasy would follow her footsteps, handle the datalinks trace cleanup on the system behind her, but in here, she was on her own.

Just the way she liked it.

Pon crouched behind an artificial plant halfway up the hall as the security guard approached. Keys jangled in his belt, beside the stun gun and communicator. She waited until he was nearly upon her to jump. Caught off-guard, he wavered on one foot, eyes wide, too slow to draw in time as she swung. A spark leapt from her gloved fingertip to the gun, and


The blast took out half his torso. The remainder didn't feel like staying upright for much longer after that.


She gagged at the end of the hallway.

"Pon, did you mean—"

"No. No, I did not. Never tried to use a stunner with these before. Now shut up and point me to the emergency exit on this floor. I hate these cubicle farms, always get lost... They'll be coming to investigate this poo poo real soon, now."

She stood and waited at the end of the hall for only a moment. Then she blinked, jerked her head up, and turned left. A series of painful jolts from the occipital subdermal told her which way to go at each intersection. After several more, she reached the exit.

Pon popped open the seal and slipped outside. They'd expect her to hail an autocar, but she had a cheaper way to get around.

She stepped gingerly onto the nearest cable. The cityscape was dominated by towering spires, each a hyperkinetic work of art that had probably won its architect a Nobel prize, long ago, all angles and jutting beams. They were all strung together by a mass of cables—one for each high-throughput comms line with every telecom corp, and emergency services, and simple electricity. And that was for each individual living unit. Each building's entity itself had its own fire, security, and other links at its base.

The result was a densely packed rat's nest filling nearly every span between the towers. That was Pon's highway now, just as Jasy's was the datalinks when she was inside. Pon grabbed a cable and swung out over the city, passing over groundcars winking on the surface far below. Her gloves absorbed the friction and instead of generating waste heat used the recovered energy to recharge. And even if they hadn't, of course, her hands felt no pain.

She approached a nexus, a massive meeting point of a cables outside a major telecom's big switching station. The wire tensed and bounced, shuddering with the vibrations as she approached the end of the line. Then she used her legs to change her momentum, and let go of her line, dropping to grab a wire leading off further down her intended direction.

"Don't you always need to go downhill when you do that?" Jasy had asked her sister, once. She had never liked Pon's transportation method of choice. Too anti-social, not to mention dangerous—you ran a serious risk to your social credit score if you ever got caught.

But you also avoided the easy tracking from using an autocar service.

"'Course," Pon had said, tossing her head dismissively. "But you can always go upstairs first. And anyway, lines always sag down in the middle, and there's very little energy lost to heat, thanks to—" She wiggled her gloved fingers.


Pon reached their shared unit ten minutes later, just after her sister stepped inside.

"There you are," Jasy said. She popped the seal and Pon came in, suffused with the musty thick air of the city. The local air scrubbers would be working overtime for an hour or two just to deal with the few seconds of open exposure. "Got it?"

"I did." Pon touched a tab on the kitchen table and the screen lit up under her gloved fingertips. She held her index finger on the surface. The transfer was complete a minute later. "Let's see what we have here..." She picked up the tab.

It was an old model. No datafeed access. Their living unit didn't even have a datafeed—they didn't trust it—and cheaper meant fewer connections to track them down by. Jasy used only public access links to do her work. She had even once tried to build a Faraday cage into the walls, but eventually abandoned that plan as futile. Besides, nothing would paint a bigger target on their backs screaming for them to be investigated than the whole unit disappearing from all scans.

"Oh, this looks juicy." Pon lifted the tab to show her sister the screen.

Jasy grinned. "Looks like your magic hands just paid for themselves."


Jasy went to the stimdrink commercial storefront owned by the semiautonomous growers' collective, near the ground floor of a building a comfortable distance away. She picked up a cheap comms tab on the way from a bootleg dealer, something to access the corporate-provided datalinks service (free of charge with an annual subscription of minimum 1 stimdrink per day, or a one-inch-square branding tattoo (visible skin only)). Then, she would discard it before the powers that be noticed her activity and moved on her.

Pon would keep an eye on her from a paid rest area in a nearby building, a dozen floors up, just in case something went wrong. She listened to the updates as her sister worked her own magic, Jasy's short clipped tones giving status updates in Pon's skull as she worked through the plan: going into the illegal datalinks of the blacknet, making contact with a buyer for corporate finances and upcoming product designs, waiting for the money to reach the encrypted escrow wallet, beginning the data transfer.

The cables outside the viewpoint swayed and rippled. Must be a storm coming. Something to blow the smog away for once would be nice, even if only for a few days.

A drone lazed past outside. They had become more numerous lately. Pon turned to shield her face from the viewport.

"Got it," Jasy whispered in her skull.

"Are we rich?" Pon asked back, her voice low, trying to not attract the attention of the worker half-asleep behind the service desk.

"We ah— ah—" The connection wavered. Pon touched a hand to the implant just under her skin, hoping for a diagnostic—nothing.

Something was wrong across the towerspace. Smoke seeped from the side of the building Jasy was in, and sparks rained down on the groundcars several floors below. The place would be crawling with emergency responders and insurance claims adjusters within minutes. Pon ran to the exit and unsealed the port and jumped the railing.

The cable bowed under her hands as she took hold of it, exactly as she expected. Then it did something she didn't expect. It kept falling, the far end angling downwards, whipping her faster down the line. It had somehow come loose.

Pon gritted her teeth and let go, aiming for another line that was crossing nearby. She hit it and gyrated wildly due to her speed, barely managing to hold on before getting it under control.

There was a shudder in the line. Then, she saw it.

Something sat, glinting dark and heavy in the gloom, at the confluence of lines near the ground, the point where most of the commercial cables running into the building met. As Pon sped towards it, more details came into view. There was a large mass perched on the lines—they sagged low under its weight—gripping them with long silver legs—too many—with too many joints—and in the center of them was a human torso, topped by a shaved head, staring at her as she approached, grinning maniacally. Its arms and legs were gone, replaced with a dozen silver limbs.

"Here we are," a deep voice rasped inside her skull, as the connection suddenly jumped back to life. "Here we are."

It held her sister, wrapped tight in two of its long spindly legs, both emerging from the same arm socket. It rotated on top of the bundle of wires, holding Jasy out away from Pon as she came screaming in towards them. Then it lifted up the end of the cable Pon was on, wrapping two legs around it and wrenching it out of the wall, and tossed it aside.

"You come with me, now," the creature said, and began to climb stiltlike along the wires.

"Not so fast," Pon muttered. She waited until she had nearly reached the end of the line, then reversed the regenerative function of her gloves. They were shredded and ruined instantly, disintegrating under her hands, the cable cutting deep into her prosthetics. The heat singed the flesh on her upper arms. The stopping force felt like a punch in the gut. But it was enough. She came to a stop just before the ragged end of the line, whipping her forward and leaving her suspended for one crazy moment at eye level with the creature. It stared at her, unblinking, its brow furrowed.

Pon had just enough momentum to reach a cable at ground level and leaped for it. Her grip was poor—some fingers weren't working right—but she just made it.

A power line, torn from the side of the building, lay sparking on the ground, filling the air with smoke and the smell of ozone. She dropped down beside it and picked it up—thankful not for the first time that her hands felt no pain, and were nonconductive—and tossed it up at the creature.

It effortlessly reached out to bat the line away.

But it was caught mid-stride, and one of its legs tangled around the line in an awkward way. The live end struck the creature in the chest, and it jerked back into itself, cowering inside its legs for a moment. It was losing its grip on the wires, teetering to one side. Pon watched, helpless, eyes locked on her sister as she started to wriggle out from the thing's grip. And as it lost its balance and started to fall—one leg still caught on the live wire—it reached out to grab the stub of the cable dangling from the building and completed the circuit.

The flash was blinding. It was all Pon could do to shield her eyes and back up as the mass spun, bouncing from the cables, to hit the ground with a wet crunch. The gawkers who had been crowding around the scene suddenly turned and ran out into the street.

Pon bolted to the pile of limbs, kicked the still-sparking wire away, and started digging frantically through the legs of the thing, not caring how her hands weren't working, just pushing the legs away with her arms, trying frantically to get to her sister. Then she found her.

She was breathing.

"Jasy," Pon said.

Her eyes opened. Slowly.

"These magic hands almost cost us a lot more." Pon sighed. "Let's get you home."

Jasy's eyes closed again as Pon picked her up. She whispered, but her voice came in loud and clear in Pon's head. "Let's not do the high wire act again, huh?"

Good prosthetic, evil prosthetic

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Obliterati posted:

Hello, nerds, it's livecrit time.

Thanks Obli!

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


I'm sick of reading crits like "pretty good" "another win candidate"

No gently caress all y'all my stories are terrible I'm just posting gibberish

Somebody brawl me

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


ThirdEmperor posted:

'Kay who wants a brawl




Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Fuschia Emperor Brawl:

Ways and Means
1380 words

"Stop right there, hayseed." The man in the top hat and tails, his chin dotted with salt and pepper stubble, picked up the girl from the chair too tall for her and deposited her on the floor. Her shiny red shoes clacked on the saloon's wooden flooring.

"Wasn't doing anything wrong, Jack." She backed into the corner, then looked up at him petulantly. Freckles ringed her eyes, squinting now in the slanting light of the setting sun coming through the partially drawn window. "Wasn't doing no obscenity."

"No? You looked like you was right about to jump in that dice game."

"I wasn't." She pouted. "I was just… watching. Studying them."

Jack looked over at the table they had just left. Four men in various states of inebriation hunched over the gaming table, intently watching the dice. A greasy fat head leered at him and its owner raised a beer. He tipped his hat in response.

"Look here, Clara." Jack put his bony hands on his hips. "I promised your ma I wouldn't corrupt you and I aim not to do so."

She climbed into the chair by the wall and looked up at him, her face defiant, but not angry. He had come to know those eyes well in recent weeks. They looked around constantly, drinking in her surroundings, calmly observing, like she had seen it all before. But she was paying attention, he knew. She had an insatiable appetite. He had to do something about this gambling fascination of hers.

"I also promised your ma I'd get you an education. Sara's a good enough tutor, I reckon—" He looked to her for confirmation, but of course she offered none. She only looked back quizzically. "—but I think you can be something more than just a, uh, seamstress, or a librarian or whatnot." He looked back at the table once again. "You know, it's a good thing you weren't about to jump into that game."

Clara's eyes narrowed. "Why?"

"Games like these, they're no good. These games here—the house always wins." His voice was low.


"That dice game—they roll three dice, right? You can bet on a number showing up on any one dice, the total when you add them all up, or if there's a triple."


"What's that?"

"Die." Clara yawned. "'Any one die.' That's the name of the thing. Not dice."

"OK. But the payout on each of those things don't add up to the odds. It's less. It's all less. That's how they get you."

"What about that wheel over there? The one with the silver ball?"

"And the red and black spaces on it?"


"And the green."

She frowned.

"Didn't notice them? That's the trick there. Roulette. Comes from France. They make the payouts for red, black, odds and evens, high and low and each separate number as if those was all the spaces. But they ain't. There's green too. So the house wins, by and by."

"How do you mean, 'by and by'?"

"You might get lucky and make some money. Maybe even win for a long time, and make yourself a lot of money... for a time. But in the long run and over a lot of people, all the people that come stumbling through here all day, every day, the house makes money and the people lose it, overall. Even if some win and some lose each day, you add 'em all up the winners don't make as much as the losers lost. All because of those extra two spaces make it so the odds don't match the payouts."

"Couldn't you bet on green, then?"

"Sure could. But they pay out like if you had bet on one-or-twos. The same not-quite-enough."

Clara frowned again. "It's getting complicated." But she still sounded determined.

"It is! That's what they want. Pay out just close enough to even to keep people coming back thinking they got the secret to winning, give them an edge. Not unless they switch out the dice, uh… die… or something like that, and even in this town the croupiers aren't about to fall asleep on the job to let that happen."

"Do you need a special thing then to do the betting, like dice or that wheel?"

"Course not." Jack drew a three-cent piece from his pocket. "You see this?" He flipped the tiny coin into the air. It fluttered up, then sailed back down, and he slapped it onto the back of his hand. "Now, you tell me—what's facing up? The star, or the fish scale?"

Clara blinked. Her upper lip crinkled as she squinted at the hand over hand. "A… star."

He lifted his hand. The silver six-pointed star glinted in the fading sunlight.

"You got that one right. But you know there was no skill in that, just pure luck. No way to predict it. And you know people have an urge—a never-ending desire—to wager on the outcome of a thing, and they'll make it be if it don't. Go up to Rapid City, you can wager on the horse races, dog races, dog fights, cock fights—anything. You can bet on the outcome of shuffling and flipping cards or simply throwing dice, too, same as coins. Only difference is you can't use one of them to buy a newspaper, which I reckon makes them much superior."

Clara shook her head. "What about card games, though?"

"I was getting to that. Cards are like dice—made special for games and wagers—but a lot more of them in a set, which means more variety of outcomes in each round. And much more variety in games you play with them. You can walk into any two-bit bar around here and start playing faro. But you shouldn't, cause you'll lose everything. Poker, on the other hand—you find yourself a place that plays poker, and…" Now it was Jack's turn to shake his head. "No, never mind. My point is, Clara, it's all a bad bet. All of them. You might win a few battles, and then you'll lose the war."

He walked to the door. "Come on," he said, holding it open.

Clara jumped down from the chair and followed him out into the brilliant orange sunlight. She had to hold onto her pale straw hat as the wind threatened to yank it away, its black ribbons fluttering in the breeze. Dust and grit got stuck in her mouth despite her best efforts. She spit.

The two walked east, the sun to their backs. They passed children playing ball on the side of the hotel, a small, dense mass that hit the wall with a thud and slapped the packed earth in front every time they threw it.

Jack stopped to watch.

"Now, that's something different," he said. "Play. Not for money, for fun. Add some rules you all agree on and you got a genuine sport. A contest. A competition. Which one of us is the fastest, the strongest, the cleverest? Play lets you answer that."

He started walking again.

"There's always going to be someone better, faster, stronger, prettier, smarter than you, Clara. Always. Never forget that."

They reached his building, a sad, crooked hovel with faded white siding. The sign standing by the road was painted "John. P. Chesterton, Last Will and Testament, Business Dealings, Disputes etc." He walked onto the front step and unlocked the door.

"Come into my office, Clara."

She followed, hesitating at the door as Jack lit a lantern on the wall.

Jack opened the filing cabinet. "But there's another game." He dropped a stack of papers on the desk in front of her, loosely tied with twine. "This here is the recent civil and criminal code for the territory, updated late last year." A massive black bound tome thudded next to it. "And that one is the US federal code. It takes precedence, if there's a conflict. These are the rules of the game."

He picked up a loose paper from the the surface of the desk. The word "DEED" was printed in large block letters at its top. Several dense paragraphs followed, with four blank lines, three of them signed. He picked up a pen.

"And I aim to show you how to play it."

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Yeah I'm dumb. I misremembered the due date as being the 5th and never went back to check the prompt last week.

Thanks for judging and critting, SlipUp!

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Anomalous Blowout posted:

Speaking of judging I still need a co-pilot and a navigator. Lemme know if you’re up to the task.

I'll do the thing if you're interested.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Ugh I wanted to enter this week so badly, I just knew I wouldn't have time, plus my sister's getting married this weekend. Stop tempting me :argh:

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


In, flash, :toxx:

Thranguy gets lawn darts

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


A Higher Need
1291 words

When a three-foot-tall pink bear with a large white gemstone embedded in its torso and the face of an old man walked into Rodrigo's bar, he was a bit taken aback. But then his hospitality instinct kicked in, and besides, it was a slow day.

"That a costume?" He asked. Stupid. Of course it was a costume.

It was not a costume, but he didn't notice.

The bear said its name was Teddie, and described its past in a high-pitched, singsong voice. Somehow, Rodrigo was able to listen without hating it. The creature told how it had lived for decades in an invisible crystal dome on the shadowed side of a mountain, until it shattered into a million pieces when it was struck by the first light of dawn today, and how all of its denizens were released into their—his—world.

"No poo poo," Rodrigo said, not really paying attention. He was keeping one eye on the score on the TV above the bar. "Can, uh... can I get you something?"

Teddie asked only to be directed to the local security establishment. Rodrigo gave the bear directions to the nearest police stations. He hardly noticed as it walked back outside, just as it was starting to rain. His mind had already moved on to preparing for the evening rush.

"Weirdo," he said, polishing a glass, as he watched the game.


Detective Cynthia Robinson was working on a new high score when Teddie's voice piped up from beneath the counter.

"What?" Cynthia jumped and nearly dropped her phone. She couldn't see anyone. She leaned over and caught sight of the fuzzy pink fur, starting to get a bit grimy on its lower half.

Help, Teddie said, raising his wide hands in supplication. I understand this as a place to go to seek security.

"Why is that, little... girl?" Cynthia leaned forward wildly in her chair, hands splayed across the counter, just able to see the creature's face wrinkle in confusion like it was a solid sheet of rubber. "Has someone threatened you? Are you hurt?"

Not yet, Teddie said, but they will. For his people, were scattered at the border between light and dark, brought to this realm against their will, and afraid to come forward for their ways were strange to the people here. They had sent him as their envoy, to seek sanctuary and the protection of the law.

"Oh, no," Cynthia said, and stood up from the counter. She picked up her phone again. "That's immigration policy." Her eyes went dull as she swiped across the surface of the phone, then started tapping. "Y'know, you shouldn't even mention that to half the guys in here." She waved one hand vaguely behind her, to a pair of closed white doors beside the front desk. "Anyway, take it up with City Hall." She gave directions there and sat back in her chair.

Only the CCTV saw Teddie thank her and trudge back outside into the rain.


Spaulding, deputy assistant to Mayor Campbell, was between calls to make the day's lunch order when the door edged open and a pink furry face poked through. Teddie's fur was starting to mat, spattered brown and black with the grime of construction outside.

Spaulding only looked up a second as the visitor walked in. He hated protestors. And of course this one was barefoot. Of course he was. "You separated from your group?" he asked absently, flicking through his address book.

Yes, Teddie began.

"Your animal rights group is meeting with the City Council in the East Wing," he said, without looking up. "Also, you should take off your mask in here. Security doesn't like it. They'll probably throw you out if they see you wearing that thing inside."

No, I'm here to speak to the mayor, Teddie said. He started to explain his people's situation, but Spaulding cut him off.

"Oh, that right?" He had raised his phone to his ear. "Well, you need to set up an appointment and pick a day to come back. I don't think she has the time this week—"

The mayor's door opened beside him. "Don't have time for what, Rick?" The woman in the dark suit and eyeglasses stepped out and saw the creature standing in the middle of her rug, still dripping from the road.

Teddie spoke up, explaining that he needed to talk to the mayor about his people.

"Your people live around here?" Campbell asked.

For the moment, Teddie said. But they fear for their lives and worry about what is to come.

"Walk with me," Campbell said. "I have three minutes to get to the hearing."

Teddie practically had to run beside her to keep pace with the mayor's long stride as they walked through the halls. He tried to explain the situation with the other creatures.

"Immigrant community, recent arrivals, lost and fearful of the greater society. That about cover it?"

Teddie asked for help from the local rulership.

"And you want my office to help?" Campbell shook her head, glanced down at him, then turned her eyes straight ahead again. "I want to help my constituents, but... You know there are additional resources to tap at the local level to help ease the transition? They should have gotten these details when they went through the process to become legal immigrants."

But they lack such status, Teddie said. And they beseech your rulership for a sanctuary.

"Asylum?" Campbell stopped. She spoke slowly, for once, choosing her words carefully. "Then I think the best thing would be for them to come out of the shadows and meet with the authorities."

And we will be safe, treated properly? Teddie asked. I have you word?

"You do. What's your name?" Campbell gazed at the dark hardwood double doors in front of them. "Nice to meet you, Teddie. Well, this is my next meeting." She looked at his grimy paw and decided not to offer a shake. "Oh, and don't wear the animal costume next time. It kind of freaks people out, you know?"

Campbell opened the door and stepped inside. "All right, gentlemen," she said, and the doors closed behind her.


Teddie stumbled back up the last stretch of the mountain slope. He collapsed on a large flat rock beside the path, breathing heavily, his long flat feet sticking up like trees.

A giant wooden horse with wheels for legs rolled cautiously forward, looking down at Teddie. Teddie opened his eyes to see other faces peering out from the dark cliff's edge. Nervous hisses and creaks came from the cleft of rock.

Is it safe? Horse asked.

Yes, Teddie said. The people are ready for us. Then he sat up and climbed on the back of the horse, to lead the exodus down the mountain.

The people were not ready for them.


Onslaught of Toys, read one headline.

Demon Toys from Hell Invade Anchorage, read another, more romantic publication.

The news networks didn't cover what had happened, at first, thinking it was a hoax. By the time they realized the truth and sent crews up there, it was a phenomenon.

The meme potential was unparalleled, and the internet was the first place to embrace the new population of living toys. People began to make Alaskan pilgrimages to take photos with indignant toys and share them with an eager crowd back home.

I hate this, said the oversized Slip 'n Slide after the fourth greased overweight tourist slid down his length that day. Isn't there anything we can do about this?

I have a three-movie deal worth millions, Teddie said, revving the engine, and new digs to hang in in LA and Miami. You're on your own. Then he closed his convertible top and sped away.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


sebmojo posted:

And Fuschia Tude he specified that you get this fella

Oh yeah here's mine

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


In, city slogan me, thanks

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


sebmojo posted:

Crits for Wolfe Week.

Thank you!

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Beef Can't Dance
905 words

Sir Graham Warren-Baker was a sad beef.

He wandered his paddock, dolefully searching for something to give his life meaning. All there seemed to be was sleeping, and eating, and clover had lost its sweet flavor.

He always knew he was special. Unlike the others, his brand was high on his shoulders, up near his neck: a star, seared pink under brown fur, with a jagged line running down one side from it.

A gull alighted on a fencepost, just arrived from a distant shore. He sauntered over to offer his greetings.

"Lo there, miss pigeon."

The bird blinked and cocked its head as he introduced himself and his pedigree.

"Might you have any idea as to something to do for enjoyment?" he concluded.

The bird said nothing. Gulls can't talk. It just leaped in the air and flapped around, circling the beef a few times before returning to the fencepost.

Then it flew up and did it again. And again.

"Stupid bird," Baker said. "I can't fly." He lumbered off to the wooded area at the rear of the paddock.

There, a hare was putting the finishing touches on a tunnel under the fence. He broke through on the inside of the fence and climbed blinking out of the soil, nose twitching in the sunlight.

"Hullo there, bunny," Sir Warren-Baker said. "You have anything to do that's fun or interesting?"

The hare stood stock still, staring at Baker. Then he turned tail and squeezed back through the hole again. His head popped out of the other side. He looked back at Baker, stomped his foot, and hopped away.

"Dumb bunny," Warren-Baker said. "Beef can't dance."

Sir Graham plodded over to the side of the paddock where the tall one came from. A wheel of greyish-pink salt was tied to the fence. He had a lick. And another. And another. The mineral intensity saturated his consciousness. Salt was his world. Salt was his entire existence.

But salt grew old and tired, and so did he. His tongue hung limply, loose, from the side of his mouth as he flounced away.

He had an idea. He would attract the tall one. He sauntered over to the gate that led to the path, stuck his head over the fence, and began to bellow the most plaintive, mournful moo.

Nothing happened. The tall one didn't come.

Graham returned to the center of the paddock. The sun was setting and he would sleep. Tomorrow, he would try again.


Tomorrow became today in the usual manner, except for the loud crashing and snapping sounds that came from the bush at dawn. Graham laboured to open his eyes. He shook, rumbling every part from his nape to his one black hoof, then stumbled towards the sound.

There, he found a few wild dogs playing in the cleared space just outside the fence. Their hair was thick and gray and matted. One took a running leap and bounded over the fence, with one paw just brushing the top rail.

"Hullo there, miss wolf," Sir Warren-Baker said.

The dog seemed to notice him then for the first time. She growled and bared her teeth, her fur standing up on end, her ears flattened on her head. She backed into the corner of the fence.

"You don't have to worry about me," he said and took a tentative step forward, lowering his head to get a better smell. "I was just wondering if you knew of any sort of entertainment that might be available around here?"

The dog dropped her haunches, stared at him with bloodshot eyes, and growled, lower this time. Spittle sprayed the nettles at the base of the fencepost. Her friends watched from the far side of the fence, ears perked up, tails wavering cautiously.

Warren-Baker shook his head and backed away, initiating a three-point turn that really ended up more of an eight- or nine-point turn by the time he got out of there. The dog had long since leapt for the fence and slammed bodily into it, scrabbling over the side, only just managing to avoid getting her back paw stuck in the brace. Then they all ran off, yipping and snapping at each other, into the bush.

"Worthless dog," Sir Warren-Baker said. "I can't jump."

He harumphed back to the path-side of the paddock to await the morning feed.

It came as expected, carried by the tall one, who walked up to the side of the fence and dropped the hay and alfalfa into the trough. But Graham wasn't satisfied. He raised his head to look the tall one straight in the eye, snorted, and said, "I'm bored. And you know what? I just thought of this. Female. Why don't you get me a mate? Then I think I might be happy."

The tall one considered him in stony silence for a few seconds. Then a wide grin split his face. "Why didn't you say so?" he said. "Come on then, I'll get you right sorted."

He opened the gate and Sir Graham Warren-Baker strode out to follow him. He led the beef into a holding pen outside a huge metal shack and shut him in.

Then the tall one went inside to call his friend out to do the slaughter. "Bloody beef getting ideas," he muttered to himself. "Can't have that. Thinks he's someone, can you believe it?"

But he was no one.

No one at all.

Hi-Brand Nowon

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Armack posted:

Crits for Week 352 – Do You Know? 나쁜 글쓰기

Thank you-and-Fleta!

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


In, flash me pls

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


517 words

It was early Sepember when Shrimpy Rob Lunkiss walked into the forest and never came out, that summer when those other kids went missing, and I was the last one to ever see him.

It was still in the sticky-sweat thickness of summer, so warm at night you couldn't bear to sleep under the sheets. We were playing frisbee out in the empty lot until dark. Then Rob said he had something he wanted to show me in the woods.

I said no, it was dark out already, and besides I was supposed to be home by now, and anyway didn't he need his inhaler because he was starting to wheeze?

Well, that must have really burned him right black because he just pulled back and walloped me—that's right, Shrimpy gave me a black eye! Mighty strange, too, I couldn't see straight, like it all went cloudy, like it didn't feel like what him punching me should feel like at all. More like getting hit in the head with a tree branch. I mean a real big one, oak or something, not a little dinky Christmas tree branch.

Rob looked at me strange, all gloomy like he was going to say something, but he didn't, he just turned and walked into the woods. I had no idea what was going on, he was keeping me in the dark.

So I followed him into the woods, I mean, I had to, right? I couldn't leave him out there alone in the forest. Well I ran after him—I swear I was right behind him—but he was gone, like he just up and vanished into the black.

Now I was getting scared, so I didn't go too much father into the woods, just took a few steps and called his name a couple times and didn't hear anything, then turned back. But I must have got turned around somehow because I didn't come out where I went in, and now surrounded by tree branches pressing all around... I just remember panicking, running on and on until I collapsed, out like a light.

It was still dark when I woke up, but the sky was just turning blue with dawn. I looked around and realized where I was—I could just see the burned black wall by the culvert.

I reached it and turned back and that's when I saw it—Rob—but not Rob—there was something wrong. I couldn't take it, just turned and ran, and didn't stop until I reached home, running as fast as my legs could bear, until my lungs felt like they were going to explode and my heart was going to give out.

I jumped into bed and stayed there all morning, ignoring my parents, staring up into the shadowed recesses of the ceiling, unable to get the image out of my mind. Rob, standing too tall, his shirt torn and bloody, his neck and arms covered in thick hair like the fur of a bear. He looked at me, sniffed the air, and kept walking into the trees.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


ty crabbo

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Chili posted:

Here be crits

Thanks, Saucy/Chili!

In, and a flash work-order if you please.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Few Words
1133 words
42 unique not-simple

Will wrote a book. It was good it sold. It sold a lot. He should have been happy. He was! For a while. For lots of whiles even.

They used to say he was not right in the head. But not after. Not after not ever. After all they said was please come on this TV so he did. He saw all the people on the TV and they put him on the TV and they said things which were not interesting and they smiled but he knew the smiles were a lie.

It went wrong. Something hit his head. It was a can which was empty but that was not OK.

"I am going to count to ten and then I am going to shoot."

The people listened quiet.

"One." Will lifted his gun.

The people turned.


The people started walking away. "Man that guy has changed" one of them said.

"Yeah" another one said. "I wouldn't even know him if I hadn't seen the computer-aged photo. Not like those old pictures. Wanna get something to eat?"

Will watched them go from his cabin door step. Then he walked inside and shut and locked the door and sat down in his big chair and started to read. When he thought of something good he picked up his phone and talked it out to it. But most times he just read. Almost always now he just read.

They came every day now they came and knocked on the door. They wanted to meet him. They asked him to put his name on their things. They asked for pictures with him. He never gave them anything of his but that didn't make them sad. They always came always happy wanting. Maybe even more happy wanting then.

The stories had stopped. He was not happy now in the people talking about him and the people visiting always and the stories had stopped. He wanted to be alone and he was not. He wanted to go back to before the dog story and the selling and the money and the TV and the articles on the phone but no. He wanted to take it all back at least with the writing it was OK but the stories had stopped.

He wanted to move but where? People would find him always. He tried it. He had even got a law person to help him go from the country but people found him still. He wanted not to talk to no one not ever now. He was done with people.


People were not done with him. Maybe ten maybe more knocking loud on the door in the morning.


"Sign this."

"What happens next?"

"Do you remember when..."

He did almost nothing said almost nothing just enough. Just enough for them and they were leaving good OK.

Then he slept again in the chair.


When he woke up it was dark. His eyes were closed. His eyes were still closed. Something was wrong. He tried to talk but no. He tried to move but no. It was not OK.

Someone talked.

"You're awake. Good. I'm glad. Let me..."

A flash and Will could see again but not much. He was in a room a blue cold plastic room and angry light. Not his warm wood cabin with furs and windows. On a long chair. Dark foggy shape ahead.

"Where..." Will said.

"Quiet." The foggy shape moved and Will saw it more but not easier. "I need to ask for your help. Will you help us Will? Can you promise me that?"


"Call me a banker and your biggest fan. I have a need for money. A very pressing need. Can you help?"


"So glad you asked. Love it. So we have a need for a certain amount of money. You have some money. A fair bit I have heard. A fair bit indeed. I ask you only to give from the goodness of your heart. A small gift to help some people in hard times. Here. I have a phone."

The light filled Will's eyes.

"Please Will. I have a family. They need this help."

"And my family?"

"No. I know all about you remember. I'm your biggest fan. Dad died in '82. Mom walked away left you in a stroller on a beach disappeared. You were two. No brother no sister. No wife and no husband. So."

Will tried to sit up but no. Held back in chair.

"No Will. We need your help. Loans are coming due. No work. Won't be able to eat..."

"Why me?"

"You know already. You're so kind and generous. Warm and friendly and helpful. You'll help a friend now won't you Will?"

"Give..." pushing reaching but chair.

"Got it." Will could move one arm now. Phone put in Will's hand. Screen unlocked.

Will opened the bank thing. Touched around on the screen.

"Account number?"

Gave it to Will.

Will touched the numbers on the screen scrolled on the dollar amount touched 'confirm'—

"Hey!" grabbed Will's hand.

"Too late." Will smiled.

"That was... too much."

Available funds: 0 

"It was enough. I am kind and helpful you said." Will leaned back and saw the other man with his eyes better in light now. He looked old but he was not. He was trying to look angry but he was sad.

"How long does it take then?" he said. "The transfer?"

"The what?"

"The... money moving."

"Oh. Three days."


"Can I go?" Will said.

"You're going nowhere."

"Can I eat? Three days is long."

"Hold on" he said and touched his phone.

"Want something first if you can bring me—"


Day 1: Paper. Pen. Mcdonalds cheeseburger no ketchup.
Day 2: 1 egg sandwich. Ugly sub. Onions but I asked for no onions. 
Day 3: Chicken pieces. Bad size. Too much fat.

"What did you do?"

"Wrote." Will had something now. A story.

"No, the money! It's been three days where is it?"

"I think it did go now..."

"No it hasn't y— Wait. Here here just bring up your account instead."

Phone turn over open slide point touch slide "OK."

"OK... transfer complete... that's today..." Paused. "Why are you grinning like an idiot?"

"Someone is very happy." Will smiled. "Read it more."

Account # 131349785210

"Yeah that's right—"

"More. More number."


Not his number. 9 and 7 reversed.

"You—" Grabbed Will's neck. Knife cold and warm cutting hot.

"OK. OK. All gone. All of it is gone. I did good—you said I did good—all gone."

"I should kill you!"

"You could. Easy. But no win no nothing. Nothing. Just all good. All good."

And Will was happy.

And Will was happy.

Flash rule: Everyone keeps knocking on the door.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


WhoopieCat posted:

Here are more of my non-judge thoughts:

Nethilia posted:


Saucy_Rodent posted:

Thank you for the words of looking at and explaining the words I wrote last week, each of you.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


I'll take a random central character, setting, and RFT once you bring in a big catch. Sorry I can't pick a number but there are none to pick apparently

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Honey and Vinegar
730 words

It was three weeks after Chas Monaire’s death before someone from the company showed up at the home. He brought a briefcase full of documents. He brought a single pen. He had a single goal. No problem.

“I’m not signing that,” said Grace at the front desk, barely looking up from the TV.

He had a problem.

“Look, I don’t want to be a burden,” Rin said. He wore a nondescript gray suit and thin wire glasses. His face was a not-quite-convincing mask of sympathy. “None of us are happy about the unfortunate outcome here, least of all us. I certainly wouldn’t want to be an imposition on anyone. All I need is a quick signature here, and I’ll be on my way.” He opened the bulging glossy folder to its topmost page, and marked an X on the line at the bottom.

She shook her head, eyes still glued to the screen.

He tapped his pen on the dark wood counter. “Could I speak to the supervisor here?”

“That would be me.” Grace still didn’t look up.

Your supervisor, then.”


“No!” Rin said, with a thin, patronizing smile, and waited. He could wait a long time when he needed to.

But she continued implacably staring at the screen.

“Miss…” he began, waiting for her to pick up her response again. But she just left it lying there on the counter.

Nothing. The clock on the wall above her head ticked over to the next orange glowing digit.

“So.” Rin closed his eyes. He inhaled through his nose. He pushed his glasses up. “I have a very simple set of papers here with me. I just need a rep from the company—your company—to sign and warrant this as true. Just a simple indemnity—”

“Indemnity nothing.” Grace gave him a sidewise glance, then went back to watching the TV. “I’m not signing a thing without the lawyer present. And no one else will, here, either, even if they did have the authority, which they don’t. And don’t you go creeping around and hounding the nurses or I’ll have you ejected from the property.”

Rin took a deep breath. “Miss Grace. All we need to do is this one thing, and we can move on, put this whole thing behind us.”

“Why don’t you just leave that on the counter? Then you can move on. Leave the form right here. We’ll get it to you.” Her eyes flicked up at him then, catching him squirm.

“I need a witness, Miss Grace.”

“My attorney can notarize it for you.”

He heaved an elaborate sigh. “Fine. But the due date is in one week. Don’t be late—we need that. It’s a strict cutoff. We don’t want to get the courts involved, but…” He shrugged.

She watched him leave the thick folder on the counter and slink away, following his travel through the front door and out towards the parking lot on the closed-circuit array.

Then she picked up the phone and dialed.

“Hey, Phil. Pharma guy just showed up. Lawyer. Wanted a signature. No, of course I didn’t. Waiting for you. Yeah, he left a copy. Let me fax you the whole thing.” She picked up the sheaf of papers and walked off.

Rin stewed after he opened the response from the retirement home. Can under no circumstances accept these terms, he read. We propose the following instead:

They laid out a set of demands like hostage-takers. As if they held all the leverage. They seemed to think his company’s product had killed their patient. Maybe that was technically true, but damned if they were going to get him to admit it. He was going to make them regret this.

He closed out of the email client, opened WordPerfect, and started a new legal filing.

The case quickly settled and the Monaire estate received a small disbursement. Chas died intestate, and no next of kin could be found, so the money went to the state. Rin retired and took a lobbyist job at the capitol, where he was ensnared in an influence-peddling scheme three years later thanks to a comment picked up by a hot mic, and sentenced to seven months in the pen. He lost his job, fell behind on his rent, and died penniless from an overdose of a street form of the same drug that killed Chas Monaire.

Central Character is…A MURDERER! +51 words and a…. DIAMOND CAPSULE
Setting is…A RETIREMENT HOME! + 117 words

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Barnaby Profane posted:

The Number of sign ups is currently 6. This is a Sad Number.

The Number of judges is currently 1. This is an Incorrect Number.

Number must go Up.

Ow'll judge

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


369 week crits:

Dr. Vorka, The Atmos, and Gus

That's a boring title.

The whole physical underpinning of this idea doesn't work. Your eye is just an array of light-detecting sensors too. And you certainly can't understand something as an unbroken stream of information if it's moving and mutating too quickly for you to see it. Understanding is a conscious process that requires measured, thoughtful awareness and analysis of facts, not some idea slurry being pumped into your brain.

And the whole point of the story is... these characters realizing they actually don't know anything, and have more questions than they did when they started? This isn't a story, it's maybe chapter 1 of something. The ethical problems of sourcing "donor eyeballs" are mentioned and then dropped entirely, including all the original confederates who dropped out when they got in too deep. Nothing is resolved, the problems have only compounded, the end.


The Shrink

Number = number of shameful acts? Hmm

Trying to see if I follow the metaphysics here: outraging her to convince her into defensiveness that the death wasn't her fault is what dropped her number.

I like it. The hats as social signifiers make sense and seem well explored, and I like the details with the black smoke.


A Definitive Classification of the Peoples of Boria According to the Numbers That Float Above Their Heads, Volume LXVI, pp 98-100

Is there a reason the items are numbered in the 4200s but the texts keep saying 4300s? Besides that, on the technical low-level side, some typos and inconsistent use of terminal periods.

This is kinda interesting, but not a story, more of a fake encyclopedia excerpt. It's not even something you can read in sequence (or in any sequence) and assemble a story out of epistolarily, like those astrology column parodies where the punchline is one of the signs is going to kill the other 11 people or whatever.

I mean, I want to like it, and I'd be more lenient if there were some sort of metastructure or even anything clever underlying it. As is, it's just a long list of wisps and factoids, almost wholly unrelated and self-contained, not a story.


Born Sick

Eh. I kinda saw the twist coming. (Plus the title gives it away, too.) The metaphysics of the numbers are vague and the characters and events aren't interesting enough for me to care. Both main characters are at best distasteful, and the climax is not described in a way that makes her assumption seem reasonable.

I don't think the fact that he and his father (who really needs characterization imo, or at least explanation of how/where the ability came from/why he impressed this duty into his son. Maybe flashbacks with or remembered sayings from him, if you don't want any actual scene with him?) are the only ones capable of seeing the numbers should be hidden from the reader until the end. That really doesn't help the twist.

On the other hand, at least having an idea what the numbers are and how and why they change is good.


Numbers Game

I... don't think I get it. They have it figured out but don't actually say what it is. It's some sort of social capital, somehow? But then why does hers zero out suddenly?

But I like it anyway, even if the ending is a bit obvious and the whole not knowing the numbers' meaning and his going out into unknown possibility is an obvious parallel. It's well written.


The price of the public eye

I'm not sure I understand exactly what happened at the end of this here or why, either. Prime's brother was a murderer, he was killed for it, and therefore she needs to be killed too? What theory of justice is operating here?

Also what are the numbers, exactly? Just unique identifiers for everybody? But it turns out they're not unique after all? How do they determine who's primary and secondary? Are there more per number than just two? Why does campaigning make your number public and why is that bad?

The inscrutability of the climax hurts this.


Letting Loose (1050 words)

Double-space between paragraphs, my droog. This is HTML, not printed word. You can't tab off each graf. I pasted this in a text editor to format it because it was too hard to read.

I'm not quite sure what the numbers represent here, which is a problem when the end seems to revolve around it. Unease? Lies recently told? Suppressed responses?

Construction-wise this seems competent enough, it's the events of the story that aren't interesting. Something about the narration rubs me the wrong way, though. Like the descriptors are a bit hyperbolic, and some feel overused. I can't quite put my finger on it.

I just didn't care about these people or what happened.


Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


in :toxx: weird me up

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


824 words
Everyone Has a Big Old Spider Inside Their Brain

“This again, Emily?” Dr. Albis looked up from his notes, pushed his spectacles up on his nose.

“But they do! I told Cody this and he didn't believe me but it's true! Everybody's got a big giant spider living up there, hurting them! It's going to be a... a big problem!”

“We've been over this, Emily. You do not have a spider or anything else living inside your brain. It can not hurt you, because it does not exist.”

“You're just saying that because of your brain spider.”

He sighed. “Why don't you describe this spider to me, Emily.”

“It's big. Really big. Like... an orange.”

“An orange spider?”

“No!” She crinkled her nose. “It's black and red. But it's big as an orange, or your hand, or a big teacup maybe.”

“When did you first start seeing these spiders?” Albis was writing furiously.

“Huh? I can't see them. They're in your brains.”

“Then how do you know they're there?” A smile played at the edge of his mouth.


A pause. She blinked. Shook her head.

“I just...”

She ran to the window and grabbed the lower sash with both hands, nearly upsetting a pile of books on the shelf.

“Careful!” Albis said sharply. “It's locked. Now, please, Emily...”

She pressed her face to the glass. “I want to go home,” she said.

“Why is that, Emily? We've barely started.”

“Please let me go home please.”

Albis pursed his lips. “I'll call your mother.” He opened the door and stepped out.


“This is very expensive, Emily. You can't just end it like this.”

The turn signal clicked.

Emily didn't answer. Her forehead pressed on the window, her nose leaving a ghost outline.

Tara turned the wheel to the right. A box toppled over on the passenger seat. “poo poo. Can you—uh—never mind.” She reached, pulling, keeping one hand on the wheel.

Emily rubbed her nose on the window, left and right, making snowprints on the glass.


“It's OK.” She looked straight ahead, at the back of her mother's seat. “They're hatching.”

“What? Who? What are you...”

More were coming.

She didn't know how, but she knew.


Confiscations never worked. Emily always seemed to scrounge up another knife to pry open the heads of her dolls. Eventually her parents more or less accepted the futility of trying to stop her.

“What are you looking for in there, Emily?” Tara asked her, once. Only once.

“Something that shouldn't be there.”

“You ever find it?”

“Not yet.”

When Tara came home one night to find the guinea pigs gone (“It's OK, there was nothing in them” was all Emily would say), that was the last straw.

“Emily is going Away,” she said to Cody.


Those years were rough, bouncing from group home to center to institute. But eventually Emily found just the right combination of medication and treatment that the spider in her brain went quiet, enough that she was able to go to college, enough that she was able to have something approaching a normal life.

After graduation, she went on to the coroner's office. When the third body came in from the waterfront area over the course of five weeks, she was the one to propose drilling and accessing the back of the skull cavity.

She had a hunch.

The pathologist took the saw and made the cut, to humor her.

After the first dead spider fell out onto the table, longer than her hand, Dr. Lemmer didn't underestimate her again.

They started working on a theory, in conjunction with a bio lab, of death by hypoxia—lack of oxygen to the brain—caused by spider activity. There was a pattern in the actions of those afflicted: staggering, dizziness, confused speech. If they were identified while still alive, a CAT scan showed a dark mass in precisely the right spot. And it had legs.

“But how did they get in there?” he mused, one day, after hours.

Emily only smiled.


The first surgery to remove a spider from a live patient was also the last.

The cranium was opened, the skin pulled taut to the sides, the blood drained swiftly away, and inside, two black legs just barely visible. The surgeon grabbed the arachnid with a pair of tweezers and pulled.

The spider writhed and twisted all around, and the recording zoomed in on it in its stupor. Then, suddenly, it looked like it had had enough.

It snapped forward, leveraged all eight legs, and popped out of the tweezers. The surgeon dropped the silver tool with a cry. The spider jumped, spinning around, spraying all the medical staff present with a debilitating webbing, covering thicker and deeper, until the camera pointed up at the ceiling and then recorded only black.

A loud voice played then, strange and distorted: “CEASE REMOVAL”

Then the recording cut out.

“What do you think of that?” Lemmer asked.

Emily only smiled. There was no containing it now.

It had begun.

one weird rule: everyone in your story has a fist-sized spider living in their brain

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Sitting Here posted:

Ceci n'est pas une story

But this is exactly what it looks like

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Thank you sebbo

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Post more cat
28 words

The last delivery was delightful, delectable, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I and the children simply must have more. I have included a money order for a pound of boneless.

So please,

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Week 371, becritted

7 Elks

This writing is just kind of obnoxious.

OK, this is more substantial as I go on. I thought it was going to be just a thinly veiled "the environment is good, kids" vehicle.

Aren't there... more than two directions outside?

Overall, it's all right. Nothing notable, really, but at least it picked up from the rough beginning.

Overhead and Southbound

OK, I like it. I don't know wtf is going on or why but I enjoy it anyway.

Oh, one thing I didn't realize until a reread is that every section actually has the same narrator. The second section seemed to be in the third person so I assumed it was hopping perspectives with each one. But actually it and the next section use "I" too, so I guess I was just too tired that night. Now, reading through more carefully, I suppose it's all from one perspective, the mother's?


This is all meh gray bureaucracy.

Not even the ending really does anything new or interesting.

Your story had the highest word count so far, and you did the least with them.


Nice. Not really anything thought-provoking, and nothing in it surprises, but it's well-written.

The Mourning Shift

Good opening.

Nice and weird. It didn't really touch me in my heartmeats, but there's nothing objectionable here.

The Fall From Grace

This punctuation is bothering me. You need to figure out when to use commas and when semicolons because this is not working here. Too many phrases crammed into long-rear end sentences, run-on and just plain awkward.

You didn't even end with an action. That last sentence has no verb.

I can ignore structural errors if the underlying story is strong, but this isn't, either. The only interesting thing it does is the high concept, and you just got that unaltered straight from your flash rule.

Fully-Automated Twenty-First Century Man

Some interesting concepts here. Not sure there's quite enough explanation of what the "daily eights" are--is that mandated virtual time? Why? I wish I knew more about the system and requirements of living in this society.

Fun, if a bit inscrutable.

The Next Best Thing

OK, cute.

Not much to complain about. A few typos here and there, but other than that, it's constructed fine.


OK good. Nothing else to say, really.


Some distracting comma splices.

I feel like this writing is unnecessarily prolix. You use five sentences to describe what you could in one or two, and the extra words don't add anything. This whole piece is essentially just one long conversation where very little actually happens.

And then it ends without any resolution, just a copout: asking for a delay. In that case you should have cut half your words and kept writing until he actually made a choice, at the very least. Even then, seeing some ramifications of that choice would make this stronger.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Antivehicular posted:

Crits for Week 370, Seeing the wiring beneath the board

Thanks Anti!


Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


ghast fudging wood budging

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