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sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Song: The Things We Did and Didn't Do

Lost Time
1057 words

Robin screamed into her pillow and glanced, again, at the glowing alarm clock. It was past midnight, and Marina hadn’t come home yet. She’d been staying out later and later since she returned from Korea, and it kicked Robin right in the stomach. Like Marina was just daring her to ask where she’d been and who she’d been with, like some paranoid freak, like the kind of women they’d made fun of together when they first met. So Robin had been keeping her mouth shut, singing along to Demi Lovato over morning pancakes, making jokes about the neighborhood’s mysterious shower-yodeler while Marina offered a suspiciously faithful imitation, when all Robin wanted to ask was: Are we going to last?

After tossing and turning for more than an hour, she changed out of her pyjamas and threw her coat on. She was going to go to the woods, where she ruled the fauna and Marina ruled the faura; usually she would let the animals be this late at night, but there was nowhere better for clearing her head, and the idea of just lying in bed another night to wait for Marina felt unbearable.

The air was crisp and cool, the chill of a coming winter somewhere beyond the scent of autumn rot. Robin whistled, low and clear, at the foot of the woods, as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. A woodchuck emerged, jittering, from a shadow of a pine, and blinked at her.

“Hey, buddy,” she said, kneeling down. Its eyes quivered at her before skittering off; the forest had been peaceful, once, but they’d been building more houses and there’d been more kids moving in. Dogs. When Marina was in Korea for her internship with an intense-but-gifted sorcerer, Robin would tell her on the phone every week that they absolutely had to move – the magic was weakening here.

“We have roots here,” Marina had answered. “Literal roots. The first tree I ever blessed is here.”

And that was Marina – tethered to the idea of the old druidic traditions even when she flew halfway across the world for a year, or kissed some hedge witch and confessed with zero remorse months later, or threw up in the sink at Robin’s cousin’s wedding and never admitted to it. There was a sense of serene constancy to her, whatever her failings – a warmth and openness that made her feel like the truest home Robin had.

On that moonless night, Robin listened for the sounds she expected; the near-but-not-too-near sounds of coyotes, the tread of little paws on leaves, the gentle thrum of the year’s last cicadas. But the forest was too quiet, thinner with life, or at least not nearly thick enough to cut through the turbine of doubt. And she felt the quivering thead of anxiety, little filaments of fear clouding the energy of the forest. The last time Robin had felt something like this was when the bee plague had descended on their town. That week Robin and Marina had clung to each other, Robin twitching with the panic of the bees and the hunger of the animals, Marina nearly paralyzed with the unfulfilled need of the plants. And they’d clung to each other, the touch of their hands something grounding and familiar as the forest writhed with a permanent loss.

Now, as Robin reached the lake at the center of the woods, she began to understand. On the other side of the lake came a great swell of light, a pale white light retreating and extending out again. Even in the darkness, Marina’s silhouette was unmistakable – especially as she stood at the foot of her heart tree.

“Babe, it’s me. It’s late,” Robin called, across the rippling black water. “Please. Come home. Come to bed.”

The light dimmed and flickered out, before starting again, weaker than before. No response.

And then from the darkness came a terrible roar.

At some point, Robin broke into a run. At one point, Robin had enough magic to walk atop the lake’s water, but she was too distant from the forest now, and certainly too distant from the frogs and fish that lent their power, that she could only cut around them now. She felt a terrible sense of guilt – she hadn’t been visiting when Marina was gone.

“Hey,” she said, as she came closer to Marina, spying her between a low canopy, “what’s–”

“Stop,” Marina said, “please, just – I need to focus.” She laid her hands on the tree, eyes closed and brow furrowed, aura shimmering about her.

The ground cracked between them, and the trees trembled with another terrible roar. Robin took a deep breath and tried to focus on understanding the beast – what sort of things it needed to be seen, understood, satisfied. But its signature was alien to her, unlike the rest of the forest; it had crept in unseen, its trail unabsorbed by Robin. A parasite, left to suck out the sap of every tree and the blood of every mammal. It was everywhere and nowhere.

“I need you,” Robin said, “I can’t focus without you.”

The ground shook again, and a tree limb crashed down in front of Robin; even in the ruckus, she hoped that no bird had built its next there. She ducked over it and closed the distance between her and Marina.

Marina’s face was red, spent, her eyes dull and lost. “It’s not coming back,” she said, “the connection.”

Even though the beast was roaring now, ceaselessly, blocking out all sound, Robin wouldn’t let that sit. She reached out and grabbed Marina’s hand, closed her eyes, and placed their clasped hands on the trunk of the tree.

“Then we’ll make a new one,” Robin said.

A flash of light burst open around them, tearing open the night and reaching right up to the sky. And suddenly there was silence, blackness, stillness.

“Welcome back,” Marina said, extracting her sweaty palm from Robin’s grasp, before hesitantly laying it on her shoulder.

“Hi,” Robin murmured, laying her own hand on Marina’s back. They were both, she realized, incredibly dirty. But that was an issue for later – for the moment, they laid by the tree, by the water, and thought about how to make up for a missing year.

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Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Timeout

Prompt:Strange Eyes

809 words


It was never going to work. Darius was an outtimer, a shard of another reality working itself loose. He was lonely as I was. His eyes, well, one was the ocean and the other was copper flame. I drowned and burned in them, was lost and blinded. And then he was gone. And then...

He seemed normal, at first. Foreign, of course. The future is another country. But relatable. He had a thousand stories about the second culture. He was infinitely joyful in this era's art. I went in thinking it was just a bit of fun. I don't know what he was after.

You hear stories, of course. Predestination paradoxes. Someone changes enough things in their past and suddenly their grandparents never meet. But nature abhors a paradox, so the easiest way the timestream can correct is to make them wind up their own ancestor. A simple failure of birth control is more likely than every bit of DNA of a person lining up just right.

Darius laughed at that one. "First gen outtimers, that might have happened once or twice. Then we started donating. You know, sperm. Or eggs, as the case may be. Give time an easier path."

Darius started out weird. Funny weird. Good weird. He knew things. He could cook, and each meal was an adventure. A good enough lover. A listener, too. But he got weirder. That's what happens, outtime. A hundred little changes here in present, parts of their mission or incidental brushes against a butterfly's wings. Each one makes a change in the future, a change in their history. And before you know it they aren't the person they were when you met.

He was never cruel. Never violent, even when the second culture shifted into a hyper-patriarchal duels-and-gladiators dystopia. (Sometimes outtimers came to fix their past, sometimes to undo ill-thought out changes from the last group, sometimes to learn, sometimes just to escape. The only constant was that they came at all.) No, he never raised hand or even voice to me. He just got different. Colder. Stranger.

I left him, told him it was over. He just nodded and packed his things. Then, at the door, he turned to me. "Are you sure?" he said, and stared at me with those eyes, one a phosphor dot, the other a supergiant star. I blinked until I felt tears and watched him go.

I saw him again just the other day. This would be three years on, one relationship with a nice, normal intime man in between. George was nice. Normal. Reliable. By the end of it I hated him like he'd strangled my cat. Which he never would have done, even if I had one. But I did, and I did unforgivable things, and when he did forgive me I hated him more.

So I ran into Darius. There are a lot more outtimers now. The second culture's dying and they're showing up half-starved, lean and dangerous. The ones who've been here for a while aren't any better, but they get treated better. Not exactly fair, but that's the way it goes here in the late first culture, here in the second roaring twenties. So Darius was in the same bar as me and neither of us were that interested in getting drunk. He was hustling darts and I was sharing stories with one of the bartenders and I fell in those damned eyes, the approaching light of the big bang, the fadeout of the last ember of heat death. We sang karaoke until we got booed off the stage, then got wrecked at trivia because outtimers are always trash at trivia and I'm not that great either.

We went home together. He was like a stranger, like a different person in bed. You get more than one first time, sort of, with an outtimer. But they don't remember it the same way.

He was manic, driven. He had a mission now, grand and dramatic and secret. He wouldn't even hint at what he planned to do to save the future.

There's this way of looking at the future, when you've gotten back together with an ex, when you know it's going to end badly but maybe if you don't think about it ever it might come out different. I think that must be what it's like, coming from outtime.

We met at a concert, at the first one after the pandemic in this town. I bought the tickets on a lark, thought I'd have someone to go with but ended up selling the second one online. He came in after the opening act, two songs into the main event. He sat his backpack on the seat and pulled out a water bottle, and I glanced into his eyes, one sapphire and the other mermaid-scale.

"Hi," I said. "I'm Astrid."

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



https://thunderdome.cc/?story=9446

Djeser fucked around with this message at 23:00 on Jan 10, 2021

siotle
Nov 2, 2012

Stop that.


Prompt: "I Don't Believe In The Sun"

Polar Night
940 words

Xuan grumbled and flopped onto his keyboard. "gently caress this stupid game."

His headphones chimed, and out of the corner of his eye, the chat scrolled up. You keep playing it with me.

"Yeah, yeah, you rear end in a top hat. I beat you last week with a six-stone handicap, how was nine stones not enough?!"

I told you. That was a fluke. Ugh. He could envision Itsuki's face, impassive with only the slight hint of a smile. He froze, suddenly burning face still pressed against the keys.

"Whatever. You'll be back next week, and then," he paused for dramatic effect, "I'll have my revenge!"

Instead of the expected ding of a new message, there was silence. Xuan frowned. Then he heard Itsuki unmute himself. He spoke, quiet and low. "I'm not coming back next week."

Xuan snapped straight up, pulling up a new tab and frantically typing. He asked, worry clear in his tone, "What? Why? Oh, poo poo, did something happen to the planes?"

"Nothing happened to the planes."

"Did you get in trouble with the government? Oh, god, what the hell did you do?" He deleted what he'd already typed and started a new query.

A soft sigh from the other end. "No, I didn't get in trouble with the government. I'm staying for the winter."

He stopped typing.

The voice continued, with a hint of a smile. "My advisor was going to stay, but she had a family emergency. They offered me her spot."

Xuan knew that he should be happy for him. He knew that the South Pole was an one-of-a-kind location for astronomy research, that it was extraordinary that Itsuki was able to stay for the polar summer, that some of the best research happened during the winter. He knew this because Itsuki had all but gushed it at him, in his own, reserved way.

"...Xuan? Are you there?"

"I am," Xuan responded, distantly. "I'm happy for you. I..."

"Xuan?"

"I'm fine." Was his voice wavering? They were just roommates - he shouldn't be - feeling this way "I'm just tired. Sorry."

"Take care of yourself. Night." He forced the words out of his throat, and cut the call.

Almost immediately, Itsuki is typing... popped up at the bottom of the screen. He closed the client immediately. Then he shut off his computer.
He flopped onto his bed. "gently caress," he said, staring up at the ceiling, still lit by the afternoon sun.

***

Itsuki stared at his laptop's screen - Xuan's status indicator previously green, had flickered to a dull grey less than five seconds after he had abruptly hung up.
"Odd," he murmured to himself. Then he swapped back to the report that he'd been working on. Before his advisor had left, she'd given him very clear instructions on the work that she needed him to do, and he was already behind on recording some of the experimental data they needed. He could ask Xuan about it next week.

***

The days passed. From a window, Itsuki watched the last plane he would see for months disappear over the horizon. And the sun slowly, inexorably, followed in its wake.

Itsuki shouldn't have felt this lonely - the support staff was kind, the senior scientists friendly, and they had all laughed together as they watched some truly ridiculous horror movies. And he had a lot of work he needed to do - his advisor kept a very tight leash on him, with bi-weekly meetings to keep her up to date on his progress.

But Xuan hadn't been online since that call. He was sure that he was just invisible - god knows that he was addicted to that app - but he hadn't messaged him at all. Hadn't asked about his day, hadn't complained about his programming projects, hadn't shared any explicit images - and neither had Itsuki. At first it was just letting Xuan take the lead, as he always did. And then it became avoidance - had he upset him? He hadn't said anything wrong, he was sure. But Xuan had never given him the cold shoulder like this, before.

It was odd. Xuan had gotten on his nerves for the longest time, from the first day they met. He'd bounded up to him, exclaiming in his face and shaking his hand, unaware or uncaring of how Itsuki had frozen up and leaned ever-so-slightly away. He blew off his schoolwork then complained to him about it afterwards, borrowed things without asking, and on one memorable occasion, had filled up the sink in their apartment's only bathroom with cookie-ramen vomit.

But when Itsuki had brought a board and two sets of colored stones back one day, Xuan had smiled and asked what it was. And then allowed himself to get absolutely trounced for months on end, even with a dozen stones of handicap. He'd dragged him to a gathering of his friends - but refused to let Itsuki linger on edges as he always did. Once, he'd drove him home early from a festival where Itsuki had drank far too much, keeping him company as he puked his guts out into the toilet.

It was easy to take Xuan for granted, caught up in everyday university life. Harder to discount the warmth he felt during his calls back to his friend. Impossible to ignore his absence, thousands of miles away, when they hadn't spoken for weeks.
Staring out at the dark, night sky, he slowly typed, I miss you.
The sun had gone, wouldn't return for almost half an year. And he wouldn't see Xuan for even longer.

But they'd see each other again. He was sure of it.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Submissions are closed!

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Week 435 Judgment: How loving Romantic

The dual monarchy of judges this week came to a pretty quick consensus: this week was resoundingly Okay. Lots of stories got tied up in their premises and lost track of their emotional centers, which was pretty unfortunate; others stumbled at finding satisfying resolutions, or even resolutions at all. Only 1.5 of you wrote erotica, which is fewer than I expected, but... y'know, that's fine, actually.

Anyway, onto the results:

Your winner is Tyrannosaurus's "i'll get you a good lawyer once i'm famous," which mostly inspired judge chat about how quickly you knocked it out and general jealous mumblings.

There are two HMs this week, both for stories that one judge thought rose above the rest of the soggy middle: magic cactus's "Funhouse Mirrors in Parallel," whose vision of the "anti-idol" I found compelling, and Pththya-lyi's "How I Wrote My First Love Song," which Yoru found to have a satisfying ending. Nice work all around, folks.

No DMs this week -- nothing really anti-distinguished itself on the low end of the middle.

Your loser is Nikaer Drekin's "Entanglements," which wasn't an awful story, but stumbled hard over the main problem of the week: writing a love story with a lot of set dressing and almost no character. I appreciated your use of your flash rule, at least?

Anyway. Arise, T-Rex; I kept the Blood Throne warm for you.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Crits for Week 435

As I mentioned in the results post, the major problem of the week was people getting lost in their set dressing and losing the emotional center and characterization elements of their stories. A lot of these would have been stronger told from a different perspective, or tightened to fewer scenes, or just edited for clarity and focus. Ambiguous endings were also a problem; I know how tempting they are in flash fiction, but frankly, a lot of them played as non-endings this week, and it wasn't great. Anyway, onwards.

brotherly, "HOT POINT"

This isn't a bad piece, but it feels like it misses the mark for the week and the prompt. The beginning is strong and stark, but we sort of wander off and get stuck in the mire of the main character's obsession, which isn't quite interesting or intense enough to carry the piece -- probably the point, since even the protagonist is starting to lose interest by the end, but not great. (To be honest, after that first sentence, I was sort of hoping for a story about someone who had authentic body dysmorphia about having "too many" kidneys, but I'm a weirdo.)

For this to really work as a story about love, I think switching to Cordie as narrator would have been a much stronger choice. Right now, Cordie is in the pretty standard "tolerant frustrated partner" mold, but I want to see things from his perspective. What about him makes him want to stay with the narrator, who seems like both a hot mess and a fairly neglectful partner? What's the drive here, the emotion? I think that might work better with the song, too, which is about a rapturous love for an overwhelming, subtly weird partner. Right now, the human relationship feels like an afterthought.

Tree Bucket, "Crazy for you [but not that crazy]"

Hmm. Hmmmm. I'm not completely sure what to say about this one; I suspect the feeling of incompleteness is intentional, and that this is deliberately not supposed to be a love story with a traditional satisfying conclusion, but I still feel like it needs some kind of emotional resolution. Maybe our protagonist decides to be satisfied with the woman's mere presence and doesn't try to talk her up more? Maybe that's what's intended by the ending? I dunno. The bones of this are fine, if a little in the well-tred "ethereal woman comes into the life of a man ground down by mundanity" path, but I think it needs some punch-up and an ending that wraps something up.

Simply Simon, "Royal Wants, Worker Dreams"

First thought upon starting this story: "is this smut about insects? This is gonna be smut about insects, isn't it. The erotica rule was a mistake."

After actually reading it: I appreciate the ambition here, and I think you manage to nail the emotional elements better than most, but this one feels pretty rough. I'm getting a very first-draft-y feeling from the initial exposition; I think you realize there's a lot that needed to be laid out about whatever weird ant-person world is going on here, but we've definitely got characters telling each other things they already know, and I wonder if another draft wouldn't have helped you deliver it in a more graceful way. There's also something weird going on with the tone here, where the dialogue is smutty and playful despite the gravity of the situation. It's not inherently bad, but I think I would have liked to see some more intensity or desperation here -- if it's your last night alive, is it still time to flirt? When you're trying for serious, there are occasional dialogue problems:

“I love you, Gwen. I fled to the end of my world and beyond for you. I will always go all the way with you.”

I think this may be a cross-language bobble, tbh, and I feel awkward about pointing it out, but I may as well: in American English, the slang term "go all the way" is a pretty adolescent formation for "have penetrative sex," so it reads kind of... high-school-y in a moment that should carry some gravitas. Once again, I think this is just a cross-linguistic slang issue, but it's something to think about if you revise this piece.

On the subject of going all the way, I think it's a misstep to have Prince decide unilaterally on impregnating Gwen to save her. I think there's an opportunity there for some real character work -- like, first of all, what does she think about this? Does she want to survive to essentially be the hostage of the throne? -- and for this to be a decision that they come to together, a final affirmation of love and trust, which I think would make the ending stronger.

(And on that ending: do ants bite the heads off of drones post-coitus? Do ants have lubricated vaginas? This story raises many mechanical questions, but I absolutely refuse to look them up. PAGING BARNABY PROFANE TO THE TD THREAD, I HAVE ANT QUESTIONS)

Nae, "The Curse of Eternity"

This feels like a story that honestly doesn't fit in the Thunderdome length limit: lots of big ideas, not much room to breathe. I'm not entirely sure the "hopping timelines" thing really helps out here, except to produce the ending, which is fine but a little bit disconnected. (Is this the same timeline nexus as you wrote about for Week 433? I'm getting the feeling here of a piece where you're working from a personal project of yours, which is not always a great choice in TD; it can be hard to communicate stuff from a broader project within the limits of a single contest piece where there's no other context.)

Here's the main problem: this is a piece about someone seeking immortality and discovering it's horrible, but it lays out those ideas with "I found immortality" and "it's horrible." What did Harry actually have to do to get immortality, and why is it treated as so monstrous? There's not room here for any kind of explanation or exploration of the ideas, and I think that sort of kills the story. Were I doing a rewrite here and keeping it at flash-fiction length, I would pare it down to one scene: the scene where Harry tells Yvonne what he's done, and Yvonne reacts in horror. Give these characters time to talk and explore their relationship (Harry as the young man whose childlike affection for his nanny has maybe become more adult, and Yvonne who probably doesn't welcome this and knows how badly Harry's hosed up) and to have a meaningful conversation about immortality, what it means, and the implication that Yvonne can't or won't give Harry the affirmation and love that he wants. Right now, I think this story is coasting on the standard tropes of immortality being a terrible pursuit, and possibly also on stuff you know about this universe that the reader doesn't.

magic cactus, "Funhouse Mirrors in Parallel"

Some of the prose is rough -- the first few sentences, I think, are trying a little too hard in a way that initially lost me -- but I like this quite a bit. The core idea of disabled "anti-idols" broadcasting exaggeratedly incompetent daily-life vignettes to an audience of gawkers is quite sharp; it feels like a logical future extension of humanity's regrettable fascination with/scorn towards people with disabilities, and it's understandable as something that could allow our protagonist to find some connection with a sex worker later on. I'd definitely like to see this get a second pass for tightening of prose and ensuring all the metaphors work, but honestly, this is solid.

Nikaer Drekin, "Entanglements"

This is... okay. It's pretty meandering, and I feel like it suffers heavily from so much of it being focused on the framing concept and so little of it about actual individual moments in the relationship in question. As cute as the vacuum-cleaner story is as a way of integrating your prompt, I think I would have sidelined it and maybe made the protagonist a little less aware of the looping scenario -- maybe a progression from the memories played straight, to a growing awareness of "these are memories, I know how it ends," to a sudden blast of sensory evidence of the vacuum-cleaner accident? This just isn't moving me much as is, and I think you need more meat as to who the protagonist and the love interest are, aside from just "lovelorn person" and "partner who was never really into them."

flerp, "When You Look at Me, Please Don't Think of Me Everytime"

This is a neat little fairytale piece, sad and pretty and weird. I think it mostly works, although I sort of wish it were a little bit weirder; the narrative goes where it's obviously going, and that's fine for a piece that is clearly echoing folklore, but the magical-realism nerd in me wanted some more and stranger Moon Ownership Shenanigans, I think? That really is probably me -- I don't think that's the heart of what the story's about, and it does what it sets out to do.

take the moon, "our aeons"

This is dreamy, lyrical, and just a little bit too much. Like a lot of your speculative stories, this story is absolutely dense with detail, and they're all very nice on their own; in aggregate, though, I feel like it all sort of blends together, and it makes finding the core of the story excessively challenging. There is a lovely core here -- the struggles of someone to help a sibling with the troubles that burden them both, and the tragic lack of understanding that the "help" isn't welcome -- but I'm not 100% sure all this stuff about pheromone flowers and empath-ghosts is really helping it come out. I'm also not sure the frequent use of sentence fragments helps the style. I think there's a really nice heart here, but I think it could use some pruning and refinement to really shine.

Tyrannosaurus, "i'll get you a good lawyer once i'm famous"

Just a nice, solid piece I don't have a lot to say about. I don't know enough about hockey to know how realistic this is, but it certainly reads right, and while the protagonist is kind of a dumbass, I still appreciate his heart. Really nice character work on this one.

Pththya-lyi, "How I Wrote My First Love Song"

Breezy and pretty okay; competent and not complicated. I appreciate that the inevitable eventual breakup is mutual, but I feel slightly weird about Louis's place in all this, especially with the ending. It's sort of... cousin as love interest? Cousin as love interest waiting in the wings? I think maybe if our protagonist were writing a love song more generally about his situation, figuring himself out and loving his life on its own terms, it might work better than the sort of weird feeling he's actually in love with his cousin.

sparksbloom, "Lost Time"

I liked the start of this one, but the ending sort of lost me; it's got the gotta-wrap-this-up energy you see in TD stories hitting their word-count limits, except there were still 400 words to go. Honestly, I'm not sure if the parasite plot was required, especially since it ends so anticlimactically. I think you could maintain the central metaphor without an antagonist; simply have Marina struggling to reconnect to the forest, Robin realizing she's been neglecting her own bond in Marina's absence, and working together to reconnect both magically and personally. I hate to be like "this TD story needs less plot!," but I'm just not sure the plot is adding much.

Thranguy, "Timeout"

I think this one gets kind of lost in its premise, which is unfortunately very easy to do with time-travel stories. The combination of relatively low word count, focus on esoteric time travel concepts, and relatively broad scope of the narrative makes this feel like a sketch for a longer piece, and to be honest I don't get much out of either Astrid or Darius. Darius is mysterious and cool, then he gets nasty, then he comes back and is maybe okay again; Astrid likes him, then she doesn't, then she likes him again; there's an interstitial boring love interest, because these sorts of stories always have to have the heroine have a boring "nice" love interest to reaffirm that women only want to gently caress trainwrecks, I guess? (Sorry. Not a fan.) This one definitely feels like a piece where you know more about what's going on than the reader does, and the reader isn't getting enough of it. I'd like to maybe see just a few scenes -- maybe from the reunion, dealing with the twin tensions of "there's no way this is going to work but it's very tempting" and "what is he even like now? Everyone's ex is a stranger, but mine is a time traveler, so maybe moreso?"

Also, ugh, is his newfound mission when they get back together to impregnate her? It definitely seems foreshadowed. Not a fan of this either, tbh.

Djeser, "Papa Was A Rodeo, Mama Was A Cone of Flesh"

Well, uh, this is sure a thing!! I can't tell if it's objectively good, but honestly, it kind of works for me? There's good emotion and character in this, which covers for the fact that I think this might be Pacific Rim fanfiction erotica, or as close as you can come to it without a DQ? Huh.

I should probably have more thoughts about this! But, y'know, I'm down with it. Weird but good.

siotle, "Polar Night"

This is one of several stories in the week that doesn't feel like it actually ends so much as stops. The framework we get initially is fine -- two roommates/friends who maybe have some feelings there, separated for longer than expected, lonely and yearning -- but there's really just no closure at all, and a lot of awkwardly hanging strings. (I'm not going to lie: my assumption with Xuan being offline that long, when he normally was on the messenger constantly, was that something terrible had happened. I don't have Itsuki's confidence that Xuan's just on invisible. If that's the intent, I think some tiny glimmer of life -- even something like Xuan blinking online, typing, and not sending a message in response to Itsuki's ping -- might have helped clarify what was going on.) This feels like a solid start for a piece, but it's not complete yet.

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 02:10 on Dec 8, 2020

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Crits for Week 435

So this week you were invited to write stories about love. You didn’t have to write love stories, but I would have thought that at least some characters would have fallen in love and lived happily ever after.

Wrong.

Let’s see what you did to your protagonists. A whopping 64% finished the story somewhere between sad and dead. Only 21% managed to finish the story in love of some kind, while the remaining 14% ended up alone, but at least they weren’t sad.



There’s nothing wrong with happy endings, Thunderdome! Anyway, onto the crits...


HOT POINT by brotherly

An obsessive person sells a kidney in order to secure enough cash to buy an antique refrigerator. His partner hovers, disapprovingly. The obsessive person obsesses over the fridge. His partner hovers, disapprovingly. Obsessive person bores of fridge and starts obsessing about buying a grand piano. His partner hovers, disapprovingly. The end.

This story isn’t terribly written but as you may have guessed from my summary it is not very satisfying. Neither character really does anything, and both end exactly as they start, albeit minus a kidney.

I think the missing piece was Cordie - you needed to show him reacting to his partner’s self-destructive behaviour, and then that would have given the protag something that he had to make a decision about / respond to. Then we’d have gotten to see what their relationship was really all about, instead of reading about a man buying a fridge.

6/10


Crazy for you [but not that crazy] by Tree Bucket

I enjoyed the first half of this. The contrast between the protag’s stressful working day and the delightful escapism of fantasising about a beautiful stranger was well done. But then it gets repetitive, in a way that I think you might have thought was interesting but was actually a bit tedious to read, and then the ending is just weird. Was she a magical music fairy or a figment of his deranged imagination or is this a thing that happens in Australia when you eat too many gum tree leaves or whatever the hell it is you all do over there?

5/10


Royal Wants, Worker Dreams by Simply Simon

Wow, this opens with a veritable waterfall of insect-people sci-fi / fantasy jargon. Two paragraphs in and this deluge of descriptive wordage has swept away my fragile understanding of wtf I’m supposed to be picturing. Nonetheless, I will read bravely on, because I want to see if there are rude bits.

Ok I’m up to the aedeagus boner and it is now clear this is a story about a forbidden love affair between a royal heir and a commoner. So far so good, although it has taken rather a lot of words to get to this rather obvious premise.

Ok, wait. If he has an aedeagus then surely she has an ovipore, not a vagina? And if you’re going to say things like “showing her entire vagina,” then “vulva” would be more accurate. (And you thought I just did horse facts).

Oh dear, pausing in the middle of hot sex to be all “let’s make a baby” is the least hot thing I can imagine. Also stop thinking about your mother during sex.

Leaving that aside, the implication at the end that, because his brothers are dead, he has put her in the position of having to (being forced to?) carry the next heirs to the throne does not seem like a particularly loving act. You’ve set her up as a rebel, so sentencing her to a future as a mother in the royal court - all so the protag can have the ultimate organsm - seems pretty lovely. Unless life in the royal court is great, but that’s not the vibe I’m getting from Mr Runaway Prince.

Up to this point, my interpretation had been that this was their last night together because he had to go home before they got caught. Or are they already rumbled, and she is therefore going to be executed unless he somehow saves her? If that’s the case then his decision to impregnate her makes more sense, but this wasn’t clear to me.

It feels like you had a lot of fun writing insect porn, and didn’t pay enough attention to your underlying story.

5.5/10


The Curse of Eternity by Nae

Well that was weird. Not bad, but it was a strange journey from 8-year old with a crush on his nanny to space-time wizard sulking for centuries before randomly deciding to meddle in the fate of a version of himself in a parallel universe. I think you needed clearer characters and more reason to care about them.

6/10


Funhouse Mirrors in Parallel by magic cactus

I think this is a story about a guy with a prosthetic leg who earns cash on the side by making VR vids for people who get boners for his false leg? And then one day he gets a job banging an escort, who is being paid to be in this vid with him, only this time these two people really click and they have some nice sex and a cuddle afterwards. And because it was a special experience, he decides to delete the data rather than sell it.

So, that’s nice. I would have liked to have read about what happened to these two characters after that. Does this encounter cause them to approach their lives differently? Do they fall in love? Maybe get coffee some time?? Or is the world too grim-dark for that?

6.5/10


Entanglements by Nikaer Drekin

This one seems to be about someone who has been electrocuted by their vacuum cleaner and is now in a coma. They are reliving, over and over, all the things that made them anxious about their relationship with their lover. But despite how anxiety inducing love can be, they think it’s worth it in the end. And that’s it, the end.

While this wasn’t an unpleasant little ramble, it wasn’t very satisfying as a story-reading experience. Very little character and even less plot. Writing stories without plot or characters is like cooking without fat and salt - the rest has to be that much better to make up for it.

5/10


When You Look at Me, Please Don't Think of Me Everytime by flerp

This story feels like it’s trying to be a whole big metaphor for something, and I don’t get it. It’s not, “if you love something then let it go,” because the protag doesn’t even like the moon. Maybe the message is, “if your partner wants to keep something in a cage against its will then your partner is a dick and you’re better off without them”?? There’s some moralising about how you need to experience darkness in order to appreciate the light, but it wasn’t the case that the protag was unappreciative of what he had - quite the opposite, he seemed very sad to lose this relationship, even though he knew it was the right thing to do. The prose was good though.

6/10


our aeons by take the moon

In this story the protagonist is leading their twin on a journey to find a cure for a malady the twin suffers, that causes them to dream for aeons. The protagonist frames this as an act of love for their twin, but through the story it becomes clear that they are just as motivated, if not more so, by a desire to free themselves from suffering the side-effects of their twin’s affliction. In the end, they succeed in finding a cure, but regret their decision, as they realise that they have taken something significant from their twin.

The use of language in this story is pretty cool, but unfortunately I found myself tripping over some of the more unusual descriptions, and this hindered my understanding of the story. For example, from near the ending: “A glaze flares before her like light in glass, and she crashes and skids on chrome she can't see.” What does it mean for a glaze to flare? What’s the chrome thing? What am I supposed to be picturing here?

6/10


i’ll get you a good lawyer once i’m famous by Tyrannosaurus

look at this cool guy with his cool guy lower case title. who needs capital letters. not me, I’m too cool.

Ok I’m glad I got to diss your title (which is actually a good title btw) because I don’t have anything negative to say about the rest of this. It’s a great story. Clear characters. Strong emotional arc made all the more compelling by how understated the characters’ feelings are. Nice bittersweet resolution. Very nice work.

9/10


How I Wrote My First Love Song by Pththya-lyi

This was pretty sweet. I enjoyed the way the protag’s decision to learn the guitar started off as a ridiculous impulsive decision and turned out to be exactly the sort of distraction they needed. The decision to break up felt natural, and the apology to the supportive cousin was a satisfying ending.

Just a smidge behind Tyrannosaurus’ because the emotional content carried less weight. I think you could have given this story more impact if you’d shown how ending this relationship affected the protag’s life. E.g., they mend their relationship with their cousin, but do they also grow up in other ways?

8/10


Lost Time by sparksbloom

This is pretty cool but I’m not sure I get it. Marina has been away for a year, and since she came back she’s been staying out late, which is stressing Robin out. So Robin goes for a walk in the forest late one night, and finds Marina having a magic battle with a parasite that has invaded the woods while Robin has been distracted. They fight it together, and then at the end accept that they need to do something about their relationship.

But why didn’t Marina just ask Robin for help? What’s going on with these two? I think the ending just needed to be a bit clearer about what was going on with Marina and how she felt about Robin, so the reader was left with an understanding of whether their relationship was going to work out or not.

7/10


Timeout by Thranguy

I enjoyed this - the premise was interesting, and the time travel thing was a good metaphor for the doomed decision to get back together with an ex - but I stumbled over the ending. Did we jump back to the beginning of their relationship, or are they meeting again, but this time one or both of them has different memories??

6/10


Papa Was A Rodeo, Mama Was A Cone Of Flesh by Djeser

I’ve always thought it was weird how horny mecha anime is, and this story is no exception. Djeser, you completely lost me in the swirl of tentacle-limbs and lasers. What was even going on? Who are these people? What are the things they’re piloting? How is there a baby at the end??

On the upside, much like most mecha anime, at least the swirl of tentacles and lasers was fun.

5/10


Polar Night by siotle

This is a story about two friends who take each other for granted, until they are separated because one of them is selected for a research expedition to Antarctica. They don’t communicate effectively about how they feel, but I think the ending is supposed to imply that they eventually will, and the friendship will be ok.

It’s not a terrible story, but it wasn’t very engaging. The most interesting bit - how they resolve this challenge to their relationship - is left out.

There are some mechanical problems. The dialogue in the first section is weird - you describe them as both typing and talking (which is it?), and then you say they’re roommates. Are they typing to each other from neighbouring rooms…? Then we have a POV shift, from Xuan to Itsuki. While at least it is clear whose POV we’re looking from, swapping halfway through the story felt awkward.

5/10

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

TD CDXXXIV: Cryptid Crossword Crits

Tree Bucket

For me, this started strong, then sort of went nowhere. The core idea is intriguing: a biotechnical spacecraft cashes into what is obviously earth, and to observe/interact the pilot and ship fabricate a biomechanical drone that is mistaken for a cryptid, and elements of deep time. Unfortunately, it sort of gets had waved away with “Guess I’ll be a human, now.” Then I guess a weed-named girl in a graveyard gets horned up for the pilot when he claws his way out from underground? It’s sort of a let down from what started as a really promising premise.

In terms of technical aspects, I do want to POINT out how STRAINED the last scene seemed. Random all caps in the MIDDLE of sentences is a really annoying AFFECT.

brotherly

I’ve re-read this one a few times now, and I’ll be straight – it didn’t land with me like it did the other judges. There were a lot of little pet peeves that kept me from enjoying it. The internet posting, the bland distance in the relationship with Katie, a number of little typos and grammar mistakes (“retched” instead of “wretched”, etc).

Here’s what I’ll focus on: The dead kid. The problem with using a dead child as a plot device in this is that you’ve played it so coy that the dead kid ends up being pretty inconsequential to the story itself. The story starts by talking about a funeral. Who’s funeral? This isn’t a mystery story. If this behavior is the result of a dead child, then don’t bury that lede. Because otherwise the main character is just some rear end in a top hat, not a grieving father.

So, ok, we got a dead kid here. Did the Jersey Devil kill the kid? If so, the narrative is so vague that there’s no way to tell if you were hinting at that. Did the death of the kid spur Jim’s obsession with the Jersey Devil? If so, what’s the link? At the end of the day, the only reason for the dead kid in the story is to explain why Jim’s got a drone and some cheap binoculars.

Nae

Tonally, this reminds me a lot of a carnivore’s version of Watership Down. Or The Plague Dogs. If you’ve never seen The Plague Dogs, then DON’T. This year is a bummer enough without subjecting yourself to the weaponized sadness. Anyway…

While I like the general tone of the story, I think it suffers from what a lot of high concept stories in TD do, namely that it spends the first half of the wordcount on setup, and only gets into the real story in the second half. This sort of skews the pacing and makes what should be a very tense and suspenseful confrontation with the (presumed) delivery driver into a sort of “Oh, well that’s ok then” moment.

The other trap the story stumbles into is the “Animal using Human Words” pit. Plainly put, when we’re anthropomorphizing animals, there’s a tendency to try and write like they don’t know what a circus or delivery van is, even if they somehow know what a tent or a van is. The result is that it often feels like the writer is beating around the bush trying to describe a common object or concept. I guess my advice is that when writing a character that is non-human, but ascribed a human-like personality, let their non-humaness show through their actions instead of their internal monologue.

Yoruichi

Considering that you just washed Balcutha out into the sea, it means that you were the monster, all along!

Overall, I like the story. It’s very much modern fantasy, and as such it dispenses with worldbuilding and any sort of apologetic “this is why things are weird” explanations. It just gets on with it. I will say though, that the thing that challenges my disbelief the most is NOT that there’s a dragon (physical or spiritual) in Lake Dunstan, but that a person can go sneaking around a hydroelectric plant in the middle of the night. Even if she’s the former administrator. Anyhow, it was a quick, fun read that didn’t have any glaring typos, and didn’t feel the need to hand-wring about being weird.

Maugrim

I was set up to hate this because of the bad pun in the title, but honestly it ended up being a very charming, bittersweet story. A lot of what I said about Yoruichi’s story applies here, as well – the lack of apology for fantasy is appreciated. Toward the middle of the story, I was getting concerned, because I thought you’d gone and spoiled the charm. I’m a softy for animals, and any sort of animal suffering in a story had better have a good reason, or risk me just walking away. Thankfully, you had a way to bring the story back to a very sweet ending, and I was glad for it.

I guess my real criticism of the story is that not that I disliked the ending, (because I did), but rather that the pacing in the last ¼ of the story seemed rushed. There’s this fantastic scene of a flat filled with ghost animals, then a very uncomfortable revelation of the misery that underpins it, then the sighting of a legendary beast, andthenwe’realldoneandeverythingisfine. It just seems like finding a dire situation, and also finding that you have precisely the tool to instantly remediate it, causes me to have more disbelief than the ghost crocodile on the sofa. Still, a great story, and one of my favorites this week.

QuoProQuid

So, I kind of feel like this was a “gently caress it, it’s 10pm on Sunday, and I gotta write a TD entry.” But I enjoyed it. It was a total throw-away gag, but it was a good one. The revelation that this was QE2 hit just right, and Charles being a whining twit on the phone was perfect.

Then you flubbed the punchline.

The story should have ended on “Moo.” Yeah, the last paragraph sort of ties it up as a story, but this is really more of a bit. The last paragraph steps on the punchline and takes a lot of the wind out of it, and it’s a shame because it is legitimately very funny. The only way I see keeping the information in the last paragraph is to move it up in the story, so that the Queen charges and slays the beast with her sword, and it utters “Moo” as its dying word, leaving the story on that punchline and questioning the heroic nature of the killing act itself.

siotle

The pacing here is all off. The first 40% of the story is spent talking describing that it’s dark, it’s late, there’s no cell coverage, and the last bus has run. Then the most fantastical element of the story—the snipe—gets hardly a mention. Then we’re back to an embarrassing moment in the office, and we end with the story literally declaring that “nothing has substantially changed, but that’s ok.”

Perhaps the larger issue is that the characters feel more like props than people. Jen doesn’t have any real agency in the story. She’s sort of on rails—the story’s going to cause her mortification, and there’s nothing she can do about it. The Senator exists only to be a point of fear for Jen. The snipe has no real reason to be in the story, at all. If you swap out the snipe for a peculiar mushroom, or a lost wallet, or anything else, the story ends the same way. If you delete the five very short paragraphs that describe the snipe encounter entirely, then the story still ends the same way.

I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I get the feeling this was a case of finding that you’ve burnt half of your words, and only told 10% of the story, and it’s an hour to deadline, so just land it.

Antivehicular

Overall, I very much like the story for the tone it strikes. The normalization of fantastical elements is always a trope that I like to see pulled off well, and you manage to do that handily. Also, kudos on making me physically recoil by talking about a “torn fitted sheet.” I didn’t know I telegraphed my phobias that hard.

My criticism for this piece is that Ash exists largely as a subject, rather than as a person that is allowed agency. Really, the only decision Ash gets to make in the piece is, “Do I stay at home in bed, or do I go to the capsule hotel?” Otherwise, the story is largely acting upon Ash, rather than Ash acting upon the story. None of the two main characters here really feel like props, though—which is a credit to your prose. Honestly, I think that Dante is probably the most interesting character in the story because I can’t tell if he:
a) Knows the leyline is taking a terrible toll on Ash, but is willfully allowing it in order to extract profit. (Use, and then discard Ash)
b) Knows the leyline is taking a terrible toll on Ash, but is trying to take steps to mitigate the harm. (Use, and then recharge Ash)
c) Has not suspected that the leyline is damaging, and is distraught to discover otherwise, and is trying to take steps to end the harm. (Protect, then heal Ash)

So I think that leaves me with sort of a quandary about the story, because even though the prose is super tight, Ash’s lack of agency leaves me a little flat. And yet there’s another character that is presenting a lot of really interesting ideas (dangling success as an addictive substance, treating labor as livestock to be “cared for” instead of “cared about,” using HR and “best practices” as a shield for unethical practices, etc), but those ideas are sort of hiding off in the wings and never really get full light shined on them. (And yeah, it’s a 1200 word story, so good luck with that.)

But all in all, I enjoyed reading it, and thanks for writing it.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006




It's the most wonderful time of the year! And I don't just mean my return to the throne. It is now December and that means it is time to observe our greatest and most favorite holiday: Festivus. Sign up this week and celebrate with me and all your favorite TD writers. For those of you new to the dome, our festivities take place in two parts. First:

T h e . A i r i n g . o f . G r i e v a n c e s
I got a lotta problems with you people and now you're going to hear about it. I've been waiting all year for this week so expect some very special, very personal hell rules. If you're worrying that this is your first time entering or that I don't actually know you that well, don't! I'm very easily pissed off.

Second:

T h e . F e a t s . o f . S t r e n g t h
Thanks to Covid, it is impossible for us to accomplish this in the normal manner (which is to say, physically pinning me down) Also, I'm extremely powerful so I doubt any of you could do it anyway and then Festivus would never end. However, I believe I have found a work around that will satisfy both tradition and the dome's need for blood. When you sign up, you are going to pick a previous prompt that I won. You can find a comprehensive list here. Just look for the big green letters that say "Winner." There are twenty-nine of them. Your goal is to try and write a better story than I did while using the same prompt.

Whatever your chosen prompt's word count was, that's your word count. If I received a flash rule or special assignment for the week, that is yours as well.

You don't need to write a similar story to what I wrote. In fact, don't do that at all. Use the prompt and write your own thing. You're flexing your own muscles after all, not mine.

Sign-ups close Friday at midnight est
Submissions close Sunday at midnight est

Good luck and Happy Festivus!

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


judges
me
MockingQuantum

writers
sebmojo - Week 123
Yoruichi - Week 95
Thranguy - Week 234
brotherly - Week 297
flerp :toxx: - Week 106
SkaAndScreenplays :toxx: - Week 361
magic cactus :toxx: - Week 312
Staggy - Week 77
Tree Bucket - Week 338
Hawklad - Week 403
Saucy_Rodent :toxx: - Week 338
Weltlich - Week 77
Nae - Week 361
Pththya-lyi - Week 77
take the moon - Week 91
a friendly penguin - Week 155
Simply Simon - Week 282
kurona_bright - Week 373
siotle - Week 365
sparksbloom :toxx: - Week 365
Entenzahn - Week 101
Barnaby Profane - Week 203
Gorka - Week 100
laxbo - Week 101
curlingiron :toxx: - Week 119
Dr. Kloctopussy - Week
... and you?

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 03:24 on Dec 12, 2020

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


oh, if you choose 429 you don't get unlimited words even though i did because i don't want to allow it ty

Edit: hi doc

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 04:09 on Dec 12, 2020

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Week #123 - Ceci N'est Pas une Nouvelle

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Tyrannosaurus posted:

There are twenty-nine of them.

This is absolutely disgusting. And also far too many for me to look through because I am lazy. Can you please pick one for me? Whichever one you chose, can you please say you picked it specially just for me because you are absolutely just so excited to see what I do with it, because you are sure that I have (as yet untapped) latent genius-level writing talent?

Thank you in advance,
Your friend
Yoruichi

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Week 234-Binging on Bad Words

brotherly
Aug 20, 2014

DEHUMANIZE YOURSELF AND FACE TO BLOODSHED


In with Week 297: And Now For Something Completely Different

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


sebmojo posted:

Week #123 - Ceci N'est Pas une Nouvelle

Haha wowww I can't believe you signed up so early, Mr. Last-Minute-Writer! We both know you won't even start until this weekend (probably Sunday [probably on the bus]) and then you'll poo poo something out slapdash and haphazard and somehow still pretty good. If this doesn't sound like a hellrule -- it's not! I'll give you your real one after submissions close. I'm sure that won't be a problem.

Yoruichi posted:

This is absolutely disgusting. And also far too many for me to look through because I am lazy. Can you please pick one for me? Whichever one you chose, can you please say you picked it specially just for me because you are absolutely just so excited to see what I do with it, because you are sure that I have (as yet untapped) latent genius-level writing talent?

Thank you in advance,
Your friend
Yoruichi

I am happy to pick one for you: Week #95 - Inhuman Centipede. I picked it specially just for you because I am absolutely just so excited to see what you do with it because I am sure you have (as of yet untapped) genius-level writing talent.

You know, I've been thinking, you've read so many Sitting Here stories that it shouldn't be hard to write one yourself. But do make it fresh, you know what I mean? I'm thinking something kinda dreamy, something something a "story about the power of stories" but you're the expert. You'll do great.

Thranguy posted:

Week 234-Binging on Bad Words

Boy howdy do you write a lot! 300,000+ words! 257 entries! Incredible! Since you love writing so much, you now have a minimum word count of 4,600 words. Week 234's word count was 1400 so you can write up to an even 6000. Looking forward to your story! Oh, prominently include a cheese wheel, too.

brotherly posted:

In with Week 297: And Now For Something Completely Different

After five and a half years, you've come home. Welcome back! I'm sure you're feeling a little rusty so let's get you comfortable. Let's return to your Week 147 roots. Write me something Shakespearean. It doesn't need to be set in ye olden times. Just needs to feel Shakespearean. Don't worry if you don't feel like an expert on the Bard because neither am I. I've only occasionally been invited to give presentations and lectures at several prominent U.S. universities on teaching the man's work. Have fun!

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!




week 106 vh1 presents behind the goon :toxx:

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


flerp posted:

week 106 vh1 presents behind the goon :toxx:

Do you remember when you ran your megabrawl? That sure was fun! I very much enjoyed signing up for a short story competition and being told to write a prose poem and I definitely didn't spend several days learning what a prose poem was so that I could do my very best only to lose to crabrock who shat something out literally thirty minutes before the deadline. Since I had such a great time with it, your entry this week should be a prose poem, too! No death can be included, though. And certainly no love.

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 18:11 on Dec 8, 2020

SkaAndScreenplays
Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica


In with week #361 - Extremely Creative Nonfiction
:toxx:

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


SkaAndScreenplays posted:

In with week #361 - Extremely Creative Nonfiction
:toxx:

You have signed up for Thunderdome and failed to submit a story twenty-six times. Twenty-six. That is incredible and sad. "I will not fail" is both your mantra for the week and your hell rule. You must incorporate the words "I will not fail" in your story 17 times. Because that's how many times you successfully entered and I'm trying to be encouraging. They won't count against your word count either! They're freebies! Additionally, you must also write and submit a min. 500 word redemption story for one of your failures. If you don't, you will be disqualified and your toxxban will be called in.

magic cactus
Aug 3, 2019

We lied. We are not at war. There is no enemy. This is a rescue operation.

No way am I going through 29 previous stories. Give me one please.

I won't regret this at all, I'm sure.

:toxx: just to make things interesting for myself.

Staggy
Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes



Oh yeah in. Dealer's choice of weeks.

Tree Bucket
Apr 1, 2016



I'm in. I'm going to try this.
Week #338 - "Places of Power" - "what madness are mountains to an imprisoned moon?"
Damnit, I am going to learn to write stories with an actual ending. Rather than-

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


College Slice

IN with Week #403 - Fight Night, Round 2

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


magic cactus posted:

No way am I going through 29 previous stories. Give me one please.

I won't regret this at all, I'm sure.

:toxx: just to make things interesting for myself.

You don't want to read my stories? Rude. And weird. They are v good.

Also, just to be super duper clear, please allow me to quote something important from the prompt: :siren: "You don't need to write a similar story to what I wrote. In fact, don't do that at all. Use the prompt and write your own thing. You're flexing your own muscles after all, not mine." :siren:

Funny thing, Mr. Moneybags, you've eaten two toxxes and you've lost three times yet I don't ever recall seeing you with a losertar. In fact, shouldn't you be rocking one right now? It must easier for you to just throw money at your problems rather than working hard to earn something meaningful. I guess your entry this week will be semi-autobiographical then. A major character needs to be very unlikeable and doesn't receive any level of proper comeuppance by the end of it because they're rich. I imagine it will be quite difficult to write a good story under these circumstances so, as an alternative, you may venmo me $1500 and write whatever the gently caress you want. I hate to admit it but Wu-Tang was right when they sang, "C.R.E.A.M." The number is 1500 because that's the word count for Week #312 - Family Motto, your prompt.

Dm me for my venmo details.

Staggy posted:

Oh yeah in. Dealer's choice of weeks.

Your avatar sure is nice! Did you ever thank the person that gave it to you? No? Not even once? Not even a single time in the past two years? Wow. A major theme of your entry this week needs to be "gratitude" because I don't know if you understand the idea of it as a concept and that's troubling to me. Also, you have a very nice cat. I'm not allowed to have cats where I live. It's quite the bummer. Your cat must make an appearance within your story. He can be as realistic or as fantastical as you choose but he must be there all the same. Your prompt is: Week #77 - Well gee, that's certainly something. I hope your story is certainly something*, too.

*something good

Tree Bucket posted:

I'm in. I'm going to try this.
Week #338 - "Places of Power" - "what madness are mountains to an imprisoned moon?"
Damnit, I am going to learn to write stories with an actual ending. Rather than-

pls see the above :siren:

It's okay. I understand that reading is difficult. Writing is difficult, too. Especially endings. Your story needs to be non-linear this week. By which I mean, give me your ending first and then show me how we got there. I'm confident that you

Hawklad posted:

IN with Week #403 - Fight Night, Round 2

All of your characters must be asian but none of them can be stereotypes. According to you, that's not something I'm capable of doing so please show me the way. I'm not salty about this at all and I'm looking forward to my upcoming enlightenment. Please make sure to include more than one language. Thanks!

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 21:46 on Dec 8, 2020

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


In with 338- places of power, :toxx:

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

In with week 77 - Well gee, that's certainly something

Nae
Sep 3, 2020

what.


In with Week #361 - Extremely Creative Nonfiction

Your win is archived beyond my mortal eyes, which means I will be fighting an invisible monster!

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Okay, In with Week #77's prompt.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


Saucy_Rodent posted:

In with 338- places of power, :toxx:

Back in October, you informed me that you were a traitorous rat bastard who would stab me in the back. Boy oh boy was the egg on my face! I thought we were friends! Whoops! Guess I'm just a big dumb dummy for not taking your username more seriously, huh? Anyway, it seems only appropriate that you submit something with a solid theme of betrayal this week. Don't get me wrong, though, I do still want you to write a stupid, silly joke story like you always do. Just don't make it only a joke. Give it a serious message underneath all of your tomfoolery. Give it a heart. But, by the end of it, you must break that heart. Just like you did with mine, Fredo.

Weltlich posted:

In with week 77 - Well gee, that's certainly something

I can't tell if the concept of an unreliable narrator is incomprehensible to you or if you just don't understand the difference between Satanism and old-school paganism. This week seems like the perfect opportunity to prove me wrong on both accounts! I'm confident you can pull it off!

Nae posted:

In with Week #361 - Extremely Creative Nonfiction

Your win is archived beyond my mortal eyes, which means I will be fighting an invisible monster!

That's because it's about my friend who died and it makes me hella bummed to revisit it so I hid it even from myself. Thanks for bringing it up! I'm in a great mood now! Why don't we keep this happy train rolling? The invisible monster you're fighting is my sadness. So no downer endings or resolutions. Also, please bring someone back from the dead in your story. If this requires you to learn necromancy irl then so be it.

Pththya-lyi posted:

Okay, In with Week #77's prompt.

You're the third person to choose this same week. Are you a lemming? Are you a bunch of lemmings stacked up in a trench coat pretending to be a person? I can only assume yes. I'll make this week easy for you: your main character isn't a human but is actually several animals in a trenchcoat.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


ok w/e lets run this poo poo into the cold, dead earth

surprising no one ive lost my archives account again, kindly hellgimmick me, thx bunches

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish



In, Week 155: It's Too drat Hot

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


take the moon posted:

ok w/e lets run this poo poo into the cold, dead earth

surprising no one ive lost my archives account again, kindly hellgimmick me, thx bunches

I like your newest username! Was it difficult settling on it? Did you run out of ways to weirdly mock people with autism or did you just finally grow up a little? Let's assume the latter. Furthermore, let's celebrate your new ascension into modern adult society with a nice mea culpa of previous behavior. Your submission must be a heart-warming tale involving someone with autism. I want sweet but not saccharine. I don't want mocking or offensive (you're a grown up now). Your chosen week is Week #91 - OUR FINEST HOUR and maybe, just maybe, this will be one of yours.

Oh! One last thing! Your story can't be set in a time where our current sensibilities reign. Future or past is up to you.

a friendly penguin posted:

In, Week 155: It's Too drat Hot

Always the bridesmaid never the bride... Every time you're a judge, you like me but you don't like me like me. Why don't you like me? Is it personal? It feels personal. Since it's personal, let's make it personal personal. A major character in your story this week needs to be a veiled insert of me, Tyrannosaurus. I'm aware that there are many gaps in your knowledge of my personality, appearance, strengths, etc, etc but you can treat this like the cloning in Jurassic Park and just fill in the holes with something you think is appropriate. There's no way you'll also follow the part where a horrific disaster is created, right? Right!

Nae
Sep 3, 2020

what.


Tyrannosaurus posted:

That's because it's about my friend who died and it makes me hella bummed to revisit it so I hid it even from myself. Thanks for bringing it up! I'm in a great mood now! Why don't we keep this happy train rolling? The invisible monster you're fighting is my sadness. So no downer endings or resolutions. Also, please bring someone back from the dead in your story. If this requires you to learn necromancy irl then so be it.

Wow, I really hosed this one up, didn't I? Let's get it off my plate so I don't I have to think about it any more. Happy Festivus, you wretched dinosaur.

A List of People I've Never Loved
1487 words

I drum my fingers against my keyboard, searching for a name that won't come. In the silence between taps, I can hear faint clicks from Michael playing a game downstairs. He's idling in a starting zone somewhere; I know without checking. He's been doing that more lately, sinking into the gaps in the couch we swore would get softer with time. If anything, it's gotten harder as the faux leather crumbles under the relentless weight of quarantine. I resent the couch for that. I want my husband to be comfortable, especially now.

You're staring at me from across the room. I can feel your gaze on the underside of my chin, eyeing the places where I've gained weight since this viral nightmare began. I know you're not really looking at me like that; you aren't that judgmental. That's okay. I'm bad enough for both of us.

The misery of pandemic living brings a name into my head. "Uncle Don," I murmur. "I should bring him back, shouldn't I?"

I've been given a chance to bring a loved one back from the dead, but only for one day. You haven't asked me how I got that power, so I haven't explained it to you. That's not the important part. The important part is who I choose.

"Uncle Don…" I whisper his name so Michael can't hear me. He doesn't know about my temporary gift. If he did, I know who he would pick. That's why I'm not telling him. His choice is too raw and too real and too wrong.

I gravitate to Uncle Don because he was a casualty of the pandemic world. He didn't have COVID, but he was diagnosed with lung cancer in January and died during the chaos of the first peak. My mother was by his side, holding his hand as his daughter stepped out to make a phone call. Mom thinks he waited to die until his daughter was gone. He didn't want her to see him suffer.

I tap my keyboard, think-think-thinking. I didn't know Uncle Don well. I didn't know him at all, honestly. What I do know was what he said in his last coherent moments, when my mom asked if he was scared to die. "I'm tired," he replied. "I'm ready to go." Is it right to bring a man back after that? I don't think so. I also didn't know him well, so it seems like a waste of a choice. But that's the bitch here: I don't have any better ones.

It's not like I don't love anybody. My husband, my parents, my sister; her firstborn child, a boy I still haven't met because the miles between us are too thick with germs. I don't know him, yet I love him anyway. I have lots of love among the living. But among the dead, the ones I can revive? I never loved those people, not in a way that means anything. I never loved them down to my soul.

You don't believe me, do you? I'll prove it. Let's go backward in time, starting with my family. Before Uncle Don died, there was Uncle John. He also died from lung cancer, stricken by the same adolescent lust for cigarettes as Don. I should love him because he was my uncle, shouldn't I? Probably, but I have eight other uncles, and I don't know any of them. They're strangers from strange lands, people I avoid at perfunctory gatherings. Divorces made them transient; drugs made them distant. How do you connect with people who aren't really there?

Uncles are a bust, and I haven't lost any aunts. What about grandparents? I ought to revive one of them, but it's a sorry list. Mom's dad and dad's mom both died before I was old enough to form memories. Although their death certificates say different things, the causes were the same: Complications Due to Alcoholism. I have enough drunks in my life; why should I bring them back?

I remember my dad's dad, but WWII assured no one would ever really know him. All I’ve been told was that he arrived at Normandy after the fighting ended, when the sand was littered with the bodies of dead kids in new shoes. If I revived him, would he spend his day remembering that? It's not worth the risk. I never knew him.

Then there's my mother's mother, a bloated ghoul who beat her children for the slightest provocation. Born the wrong gender? Back of the hand. Love the wrong gender? Back of the hand. Listening to black music? Back of the hand, and the front for good measure. I'm almost tempted to revive her so I can take her out again, but that would be a waste. I should revive someone who deserves to return.

The right answer nags at me with every hollow click from downstairs. I can still remember the way Michael bowed his head when I asked if he liked his new console. "It's just a distraction," he said, voice thick with loss. “When it's off, all I can think about is her."

He loved you, you know that? I loved you too, in my own way, but you were his everything. You made him the man he is today. He's said as much himself: a powerful admission for a man whose default state is 'laconic.' But you know I can't revive you. I can't, really. It should go to a person. Don't you think so? Shouldn't I have loved a person?

I could revive a friend, but I've never lost one. I haven't had enough to lose. My sister did; she lost her best friend to suicide. A fashionable girl in her twenties, one who went back to her parents’ house for her brother's wedding and hanged herself in their closet. She's buried behind a stained-glass butterfly gate in the parish cemetery. The church almost didn't let her in—suicide is a sin, you see—but her parents pitched a fit, and now she sleeps with the rest of the deserving dead. As if cemeteries are such sacred places. My dad's best friend didn't think they were so sacred when he knelt in front of a tombstone and put a bullet through his head. Should I bring him back, maybe? Or my sister’s friend? I knew them, but not well. They weren’t my friends. Not like you.

It's been over a month since you died, but time doesn't pass like it used to. We no longer measure it in weeks and days, but in how long it's been since we last looked at the empty corner where you slept. 7:00 a.m. is when you whined for breakfast; 4:00 p.m. is when you paced for dinner. Those times aren't times anymore, but gaps in our existence, markers of loss. You'd only fill them once if we brought you back, and then you'd be gone again. But if you were here with us, even for a day, you could play.

You couldn't play at the end; the cancer made sure of that. Long before we realized what was happening, the tumors set up residence in your insides and pressed against your most vital parts. You pushed through the pain—you were a good girl, always trying your best—but in the end, it got to be too much. You couldn't even tear the squeakers out of the twenty-one squeaker gator we bought you. It's sitting in the toy basket now, where it's been since the morning we put you down. With one more day, you could rip every squeaker out of that gator. You could even swallow the pieces that make the noise. Why should we stop you? At the end of the day, you'll be gone again, and the hurt will start all over. Will it be worth it, I wonder? Will it be worth it for you?

You're sitting on my nightstand now, an infusion of ash and dye swirled together in glass. When Michael saw you like this, his eyelids spilled over and he walked away. He told me it would be okay to do this to you, but at that moment, confronted with the change, he stared at me with hate in his eyes. He doesn't, though. He just wants you back.

This power should be used for a person. As a society, we've decided people have more value than animals. And you know what? Maybe society is right. Because you're not the one I'd do this for. It would be for Michael, my Michael, the love of my life who lost his heart when he lost you.

I love you, Penny. I need you to know that. But when I bring you back—and I will, I was always going to—it won’t be about me and you. I need you here for Michael, so that he can play with his girl.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

scanning for good game design


I wanted to focus on my novel this week but the rules are way too much fun so I'm in I guess!

Assign me a story you personally are very satisfied with, please. I want to make you really angry by sullying it.

Also I feel like I've been getting off easy as far as rules go, so my body is very ready to pay for my disrespect?!

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


Okay I would like to get roasted
in with a :toxx: because i failed last week, please assign me a week

siotle
Nov 2, 2012

Stop that.


I was thinking about taking a break but I can't resist. In, assign me something please!

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


ok I'm in :toxx: hellrule me week 365

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

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Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


Simply Simon posted:

I wanted to focus on my novel this week but the rules are way too much fun so I'm in I guess!

Assign me a story you personally are very satisfied with, please. I want to make you really angry by sullying it.

Also I feel like I've been getting off easy as far as rules go, so my body is very ready to pay for my disrespect?!

Okay, okay, I get it, you're "smart." You have a "PhD." You can use big "words." You're a "chemist." So impressive. Wow. Unfortunately, the last two cool things that chemistry ever did was making Pringles chips taste like cheeseburgers and accidentally synthesizing lysergic acid diethylamide. We both know that you'd throw all those quotation marked words away in a second if meant looking good in a sweet leather jacket but you're way too far down the nerd rabbit hole, bud. You ain't never climbing out. I wish I could wave my magic wand and make it happen for you but can't. Best I can do is Week #282 - A Lyttony of Sorrows. And I want to see a story where a problem is resolved by a scientific solution that makes absolutely no sense. Boiling air into water or something idk. I'm hella dope so I only think about cool things. Throw in some tasty cheeseburger Pringles or some tastier LSD while you're at it. Peace.

kurona_bright posted:

Okay I would like to get roasted
in with a :toxx: because i failed last week, please assign me a week

You once toxxed me a female monologue and had to eat a ban for failing. I want my loving toxx fulfilled. And because I'm having to ask you again you need to write me two this time to make it up to me. Split the word count however you see fit. 

These monologues will be from a female pov.

They will have nothing to do with childbirth or abortion or rape.

To be clear, I don't want a dialogue. These are to be two separate stories. If you do manage to screw this up, you'll be sitting pretty at the top of failure mountain. I don't think anyone in Thunderdome has ever been banned multiple times for the same offense. But given that you've already failed 25 times in your illustrious time here, my money is on you on the mountain.

Week #373 - Write With Joystick Controllers

siotle posted:

I was thinking about taking a break but I can't resist. In, assign me something please!

I can understand why you'd need a break! You've written two whole stories! You must be very tired. I mean, you've been Thunderdoming for at least a couple months straight in dogs years. Big woof for deciding to stick with your passion. Your assignment is Week #365 - Leo Season. Your hell rule is "dogs." All your speaking characters must be dogs. But don't write me something stupid, no matter how tempted you are. I want to see a very serious canine conversation from you.

sparksbloom posted:

ok I'm in :toxx: hellrule me week 365

Aloooooha! Sorry my pidgin hasn't been up to your exalted standards. I'd very much appreciate a demonstration on its proper usage in ol' Hawai'i ala. And because I'm in a funny mood, make your story a black comedy. I'd sure love a good laugh. Unless, of course, "black comedy" is "borderline racist." No one wants that, babooz faka.

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 00:45 on Dec 10, 2020

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