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Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

.

Flesnolk fucked around with this message at 12:55 on Dec 31, 2020

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sandnavyguy
Sep 12, 2015



I'm in, weasel and fallacy please.

Doctor Eckhart
Dec 23, 2019

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

I'm in. Snake, and I'll take a philosophy and a fallacy, my good man.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


sandnavyguy posted:

I'm in, weasel and fallacy please.

Your fallacy is reverse causation.

Doctor Eckhart posted:

I'm in. Snake, and I'll take a philosophy and a fallacy, my good man.

:toxx: up then.

Doctor Eckhart
Dec 23, 2019

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Challenge accepted :toxx:

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


Doctor Eckhart posted:

Challenge accepted :toxx:

Your philosophy is New Confucianism. This is specifically meant to be the 20th-century movement but I'm not going to fistfight you over neo-Confucianist ideas and tenets if that's more inspiring. Your fallacy is pathetic.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


oh whoever wins this week will take over the bloodthrone and also I'll be sending them a small real life prize in the mail gl everybody

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


sign ups closed

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






im going to be in and write a story about tube worms and you can either flash me a philosophy or not

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


Sitting Here posted:

im going to be in and write a story about tube worms and you can either flash me a philosophy or not

Your philosophy is psychological egoism.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Fight Week Crits

I'd probably have given jabc the loss rather than naga for this week, and maybe hm'd thranguy, otherwise my views are similar to m leboeuf.

Simply Simon, to win her


Ayeepppp so this is, idk, ok. It’s got the story bits, a mildly cheesy but basically well delivered modern viking girl power message that suffers a little from fridge logic (what if the dude does kill her father? How many times has she done this?) and some clunkiness (calling a woman a brother in arms is ok but it makes the reader stumble, and you use the phrase ‘expecting his expectant’ which is just bad) but the action is clear enough, if not particularly thrilling. C+

Jabc, rivers shadow

Tsk jabc, as u may recall i have strong views on tenses so getting it wrong in the first line is never gonna fly. Your first para is also sort of involved, just musing idly on a brief executive summary of recent japanese history as i walk along the japanese path in osaka, japan. Then you gently caress me round with more sloppy tense nonsense. Patience diminishing. This syntax in the first three paras is way too clotted for what we’re trying to convey, which is basically walking along a road with pottery and a daughter. Then we’re into the fight, and it’s p average stabby hacky - she stabs one, then another, then another, and then she keeps walking. In the realistic-ish world you’ve set up having a (presumably) smallish lady send armoured warriors flying reads like anime, and having a wee girl ice fools with a pigsticker is sort of cheap and cartoony. Read The Paladin by CJ Cherryh for a much more convincing take on this kind of stuff. D

Ceighk, the standing stone

This is actually a nicely crafted piece, not least because it does a good job of setting up the emotional stakes (i like the contrast between the boys agreement and carl’s later discarding of it) and the strange hints of cultery manage to bridge the gap between the realist framing and the grand guignol chest stabbing that finishes it up. I think it would have benefited from more character from maxim, as it is he’s a blank eyed fight zombie, but everything else is p deece incl the solid closer. B+

Something else, the incident of vascon 9

There’s some decent juice here, crazy super science bro and vent crawling james bond fella, but the bits are all jumbled. Why does the authority want to arrest throy? Why is blowing up the entire orbital an acceptable way to get him, and if not then why not do it first? Is slowing down the entire force of gravity and wearing a harness that cancels it out but not quite being strong enough to fire a revolver a reasonable compromise? Should an assassin cop assaulting a fortress lab have more weaponry than a space blowtorch? All good questions, and the fact that they’re unanswered leaves the reader with an overall sense of contrivance, for all there are some fun images and the story has a bit of good pulpy energy. D+

Uranium phoenix, those untouched by war

This is an instructive comparison with jabcs for how well it feeds out the relatively complex political and historical environment. It also drips out vital details, of which there are a lot, at just the right speed to have each one - atsila knows what to do in a fight, orenda is inside the protags head - answer a question the reader has just asked. The violence when it comes is lightly described, but it’s genuinely tense because of the well drawn menace of the approaching guards and their bioscanner, and the phrase ‘a serpent made of water, uncoiling’ which is just mint. Very tight work. A

Ironic twist, pianissimo


Hrmm. So, interesting ish premise, coupled with a vaguely sketched philosophical disagreement between friends, and your usual good words. What i don’t like about this is the bland rhythm (ironic i kno). It’ like one of those anime fights where the protagonist goes ANTAGONISSSSST and zaps him with a power bolt and the antagonist goes unf or w/e then yells PROTAGONISSSSSTTTTTTT!!! and does likewise, rinse and repeat? You get close to justifying it at the end with the idea of our words being worth saying, or whether it’s better to await our end in silence, but overall this doesn’t hit any v interesting marks for me. B-

Chili, shoot

This feels like a story we’ve read before, but in a good way - we know the parameters, we’ve all seen wrestling, so show us something new. And you do that - there’s a nicely complicated movement in the emotions of the protag and his antag, which you get about 90% of the way, in the sense that the movements of the protagonists feelings are nearly but not quite clear and inevitable - he’s going to take the fall, then he’s not, then he is. There’s like one or two dots left unjoined, i think, in how the crowd’s change of heart and the other wrestler lead him to his actions, but I’m maybe being too picky. The grace of the final gesture at the antagonists neck tattoo, suggesting that this is a fan, is perfect - doesn’t need any more explication. A slick, effective piece with good action and nicely drawn emotions. A-

Naga liu kang, virtue and vitriol

Oh for the love of any deceased nordic forebears you may have, please proofread. “stuck in sunken in jaundiced eyes that were glossed over with the sheen of death”. “ ink like hair” (should be ink-like). ‘Burrowing’ used twice. “Let them pass.” He finally said” (speech goes “Hello,” he said”) Butttt I dunno this has some decent viking energy and the beginning is effectively creepy for all it’s a little clum. It also sets up the aura of destiny that gives us the ending, as well as being a decent fakeout - we expect the hag to do something but she just mutters spookily. I’mma give this a B- for basically effective creepy Senua-esque words but with a stern exhortation to proofread better next time.

Yoruichi, the queens general

So yeah, solid enough airship jumpin’ whiskey drankin action here but there are a number of infelicities that knock you back E.G. ok yes a cliche flask may stop a cliche bullet, but multiple bullets? Is it magnetised? You describe mclafferty as not going down without a fight, but this is at a point where he has not gone down. You also handwave not only a parachute - is he fighting desperately for his airship and the queens babby with a goddam knapsack on? - and the remote detonator, which is, idk, what’s the world here? Do we have both airships and radio waves? Who wires their airship to blow up, before getting into a desperate fight, while wearing a big heavy parachute? I guess you’ve told us that it’s general mclafferty hero of the skies, but i have to also ask why blow up your ship when all the baddies just jump off? He’s desperately wrestling to get his pistol out, but can’t get it out despite having just been desperately fighting presumably with his desperate pistol. Overall this sort of does the job, but one is left with many question, yoruichi. C

TRex, the end of days

Tyrannosaurus my friend this is a very good piece with solid words, a good action scene plopped in there just ploop, enough drug talk to make me want to do a lot of drugs rn and plenty of topical pandemic stuff too but may i just point out very clearly and kindly that it’s is only short for it is ty godbless A

Dr echkart, magill vs a1200b


Tbh I don’t think you need to explain that a robot isn’t sweating, it can be inferred. Similarly, saying it was like steel (then clarifying that it was in fact made of steel) can be left to the reader. A more significant problem with this is how much ‘then he punched him, then he punched him’. The stories that really nailed action this week made each movement meaningful, and this doesn’t. There’s a nice turnaround at the end, where his gritty human grit lets him know he’s gonna get another chance, but that also makes the fight a little pointless - this was presumably going to be the result regardless. C

Thrangles, the voice

Haha i read ‘we’re’ in and thought ‘that’s just the sort of thing people love to say, then you echo the thought in the first para. This is a sweet little piece, effectively and skilfully sketching out a nicely kinky relationship and a complicated heist without feeling the need to fill in all the blanks, and its better for it. I liked this a lot, don’t have any real criticism. A

Solitair, flight of the fool


This is what you might call a complicated piece about weird bat creatures or w/e and they fight and chase each other, and while I admire the amount of invention on display it doesn’t really make it that interesting? Particularly as they still read magazines and use paper money and sit down in bars to drink beer, so it feels a bit surfacey. Your fighty freds swear a lot, and there’s some kind of reference to a shared past in Lyta but it’s hard to care much since it’s just a name. C

Slipup, death before dishonour

This is competent, but a little uninspired as it’s just a fictionalised retelling of ww2 silly billy lt hiroda’s regrettable inability to pick up on situational cues. There’s plenty to like in it, though, occasional tense and grammar slip ups aside. I do think you need to find a new angle when you’re diarising a piece of known culture - we all know he was big on Honour and Finishing the Job, that’s like the entire point. B

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Week 404

Once upon a time there was a mouse, gently caress you
1,290 words

I was rather looking forward to being eaten. Life is fine, it’s even got some things in it, but I had a purpose, and that purpose was to one day become the miniature defecation pile of Paula the Python.

A part of something greater than myself. I was fortunate enough to see it, know it, and I came to embrace it. Yes, I cried the first night I learned of my destiny. My siblings did as well, the difference between me and them? I stopped crying.

I waited with the grace of my elders. Knowing that my part would be to communicate to the mice tomorrow the same information the elders communicated yesterday. And it’s perhaps for that reason that I sit here now, amidst the pile of twisted steel and burning embers. I don’t believe in cosmic irony, but I’m tempted to start accepting the ethos. Considering that all of my siblings who had not accepted their brutal fate now lie dead in a pile back in the reptile car, and I am here.

It does make a mouse think.

But thinking is not welcome here. Instinct and wit. That is the recipe for survival in nature, as I understand it. And perhaps that is my function now. Survive.

Survive. The word sticks in my mind and feels ugly and misshapen. The grace of certainty stripped away, I am now stuck. My goal is to exist, and with existing comes musing. Suddenly, the quest for not only existing hangs over my whiskers, but to find something deeper. For if I were to simply awaken on the morrow, in what way would that impact the system around me?

Be eaten. Simple. A functional cog in the machine. Mouse is born. Snake eats mouse. Snake brings joy to the masses. Beginning, middle, and end.

Survive. Then what? Thrive? I doubt I could find another to copulate with and procreate. No, there are unlikely to be any worthy candidates here. Beginning, and middle, as I will certainly die, but what of the end? For another may dine upon my flesh, but what of their claim to life? It’s no better than my own, to be sure. Those who exist in nature see no divine or elegant reason to be. They simply be. I was cursed with the knowledge of meaning, and stripped of that meaning.

These thoughts fill my mind as my legs carry me over branch after branch until I stumble upon a fawn.

She regards me with curiosity and seems to understand that existence is weighing heavy on my mind.

“What say you, little mouse?”

“Greetings, young fawn. I am attempting to avert an existential crisis today. How are you doing?”

“Ah, I don’t envy you. I had one of those yesterday,” she responds.

“Did you glean anything useful?” I inquire.

“I don’t believe such a thing has ever occurred,” she answers.

“Well, did you at least feel better afterward?” I ask.

“No better than I would have if I spent my focus on leaving a pile of pellets by this tree. At least, then, I’d have something to show for my troubles.”

“Oh! So you feel that a physical manifestation of effort is necessary to feel the sweetness of meaning?”

The fawn scoffs at me. “Nothing so esoteric as all that. My excrement will at least accomplish something. My musings, while salient to my own sense of being, will not help this dear tree in its quest to reach the heavens.”

“So it’s all part of contributing something? Being a part of something bigger than you?”

“You could say that,” the fawn continues. “At least, that’s what my mother told me, and her mother before her.”

I nod my mousey head and she nods her fawny one back.

I skimper around, knowing less than I did before, and feeling worse about my quest in its apparent potential for meaning.

Fortunately, I stumble upon a great horned owl.

Feeling fed up and lost, I plead to the owl: “Eat me or teach me. I have no preference, but I would appreciate it if you made the decision. My mouse brain is not suited for such pain.”

The owl does not hesitate and proffers the more stressful option of the two.

“What would you like to know, little mouse?”

“Why I am.”

“Ah, so this is going to be that sort of conversation?” The Owl regarded the darkening night sky.

“Is that a problem?” asked the mouse.

“I just regret not eating you when you made the offer.”

“Well, I don’t suppose it’s my choice. You outrank me on the proverbial food chain, do you not?”

“I do, but it would not very Owl-like to go back on a decision. So while you might want to be eaten, and I might want to eat you, that is not what shall happen next.”

The mouse’s mind ached further. This was no suitable teacher. For even if there were something worth learning here, it would be under the pretense of disappointment and a rumbly owl tummy.

While the owl gazed upwards and remarked on not allowing the transient clouds to obscure the truth of the stars, the mouse skittered down the branch and sought truth elsewhere.

Before long, he was upon an expansive meadow. In that center of that meadow sat a large dinosaur.

“Greetings,” the mouse offered.

The dinosaur nodded.

“I am here seeking the truth,” pleaded the mouse.

“Bullshit,” the dinosaur said. “You are seeking something far more valuable. You are seeking validation.”

“What do you mean?” the mouse asked.

“You are here for the same reason you’ve been here time and time again. You want me to tell you that you’re worth something.”

“I have to be, don’t I?” the mouse asked.

“No. You are useless. You are worthless. Your quest to feel better about yourself is repugnant and you should be ashamed of yourself.”

Weight lifted off of the mouse’s body as the truth embraced him like a warm hug.

“Thank you,” he said.

And the mouse turned to leave, hoping to seek out the jaws of a hungry predator.

“Where the gently caress do you think you’re going?” the dinosaur roared.

“To die. That is my destiny. I will be useful in the belly of another, more capable creature.”

“Excuse me, you drivelous piece of poo poo. Did I just give you permission to kill yourself?” The dinosaur brandished his teeth in a display of hostility.

The mouse cocked his head to the side.

“I did no such thing, you verminous freak. You don’t deserve to be the meal of your superior. Do you want to be useful? Do you want purpose? Do you want to mean?”

“More than anything,” replied the mouse.

“Wanting. Funny. Everybody wants, nobody earns. You really want what you say you want?”

“I do.”

“Show me.”

The mouse pounced on the toe of the great dinosaur and darted up his body. The dinosaur’s pathetic arms reached and flailed for the body of the mouse, with no avail. The mouse proceeded to skitter up towards the thorax of the great beast and upon arriving at the central point of its chest he bit, chewed, and rent through the flesh of the dinosaur.

The dinosaur yelled out in pain as the mouse squirmed and squeezed into his chest cavity. Upon arriving at the heart, the mouse sunk his teeth into the vulnerable organ until it ceased its pulsing.

The mouse pushed back out of the dinosaur and bloodstained, he ran towards the face of his foe.

The beast heaved to breathe its final breaths.

“What do you have to tell me?” the mouse begged.

The dinosaur smiled but said nothing as his life faded from his eyes.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







imma judge this nonsense

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!




platypus ableism

1118 words

cant we just be more different

flerp fucked around with this message at 15:50 on Aug 25, 2020

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish



The Sheep and the Wolf, and Maybe the Giraffe Too
Word Count: 1064
Philosophy: Kantianism

Once there was a circus train that carried all manner of animals and attractions that you might ever hope to see. But you never will. It was derailed many years ago; missing pieces in the track; all of the cars arrayed like so many broken limbs.

The spirits and the bodies of the animals were not, however, broken, though they were scattered from their masters as well as their brethren, leaving the motley menageries to wonder what to do.

This was particularly distressing to all of the sheep. Most of them went mad, stared straight into the sun, and walked into a circular void. One, however, went someplace entirely different.

This sheep, upon being thrown from her train car righted herself and then stood frozen, thinking that if she waited long enough, she would be returned to her flock. This was what had always happened before. Sometimes cruel fate singled her out but always -always- if she waited, she would again be with her kind. She chose to wait.

Nothing happened. No other sheep joined her. No master pointed her in the direction of her flock. What could she do? She had never done anything before. If she couldn’t count on her past experiences, what else was there? She sensed a bright light that drew her attention. Its warmth tickled her ears with promises of perpetual predictability.

She swung her head to find the light, but on the way her gaze fell upon a cluster of animals. A cluster could be like a flock, so the sheep chose to join them; to feel the oneness of the group again. She saw that they even had a leader. “Perfect,” she thought. “Just as it should be.”

Among the animals were Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Sloth and Crocodile. Not exactly her fluffy reflections, but their closeness felt secure. The leader at the front, proudly posed, was Wolf, howling out to attract other animals. His sounds caused Sheep to shiver. She tried cozying up to Hippopotamus. He nudged her away, so instead she shrunk back and watched Wolf carefully.

Wolf’s tongue dangled from his mouth as he spoke, showing his hunger. He spoke softly which brought the animals ever closer as they did not wish to miss a word.

“We must leave this place. Our lives have not been our own. We will rule ourselves and choose our destiny, but only if we escape this wreckage. Follow me and I will lead you beyond the bounds of the humans’ grasp to the Kingdom of Safety.”

With their eyes wide, Sheep and the other animals trailed Wolf across the rocky ground. Their pace was so fast that Sheep had no time for grazing or chewing. She didn’t want to lose sight of the others. Looking around, she noticed that Sloth was no longer with them.

“Wait,” she called ahead. “We have left some behind!”

Wolf did not stop. Instead he said, “Always leave behind those who cannot keep up. They do not belong.”

As Sheep ran, so did her mind. She wanted to belong, but could she always keep up? If Wolf couldn’t keep up, would he still belong? Did the rule apply to everyone? Following Wolf was not as simple as she wanted.

Soon they came to a stone wall that was taller than any of them, except Giraffe, who looked over and told them that there was an empty field on the other side. Sheep perked up at the thought of all of the delicious grass awaiting her if she could just get to the other side. But how?

Wolf had the answer again. “Everyone, climb Giraffe’s neck.” And with two bounds he was atop the wall.

Sheep looked from Giraffe to Wolf. “But isn’t that Giraffe’s decision to make? And how will Giraffe get over the wall?”

Wolf stared at Sheep and then leaped down on the far side of the wall. One by one the animals climbed onto Giraffe’s back and up his neck, blindly following Wolf. Giraffe said nothing.

Sheep was the last to climb and stood on top of the wall, face to face with Giraffe. “If you can, find another way around the wall. I will wait on the other side and we will travel to safety together.” Giraffe still said nothing, so Sheep dropped off the other side.

When Sheep landed she saw no Ostrich or Crocodile or Hippopotamus, only Wolf. Wolf licked his lips and crept closer to Sheep. “All of the others have gone on to the Kingdom of Safety, beyond the reach of the humans. Now it’s your turn.”

“I will not follow you, Wolf. You break your promises. You leave others behind. You use them. I will make my own way and my own rules.”

Sheep turned and marched with her back to the sun. Wolf followed. The faster Sheep walked, the faster Wolf stalked.

Knowing that she could not outrun Wolf, Sheep stopped to face him again. Wolf sat back on his haunches, tongue dangling once again. Threatened as she was, she chose to use her head. She lowered her face towards the ground, dug her hooves into the dirt, and charged.

Wolf, thinking that there was nothing to fear from a tiny, sheltered sheep, threw back his head and howled in laughter. Sheep’s head met his jaw and his flesh tore at the hinges. His tattered mouth flew bloodily off deep into the field. Crying, Wolf skulked after his teeth.

Sheep watched until he was out of sight and then turned to walk along the wall. From high above came a voice, “Why didn’t you follow him to the Kingdom of Safety?” It was Giraffe, walking in the same direction on the other side of the wall and peering down at her.

After some thought, Sheep responded, “Imagine if everyone always did the things Wolf told us to do? Everyone would eventually be alone or a slave or just dead. Is that what a good animal would do?”

Sheep and Giraffe encountered further obstacles on the land and in the mind but finally they came to a kingdom of their own. A kingdom at the end of the wall, the end of their separation and the end of their enthrallment to decisions based on anything less than pure reason.

And the moral of the story is to always use your head before you open your mouth.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


sebmojo posted:

imma judge this nonsense

weird call but ok

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Your philosophy is bioconservatism. Your fallacy is false dilemma.


You are perfect just how you are
970 words


Firelight glinted in Lion’s eyes. Horse lay across from him, legs folded on the soft leaf litter.

“Drink it,” Lion urged. “We’ll never escape otherwise. We need to be enhanced.”

“No,” said Horse. “It’s unnatural.” She looked accusingly at Macaque. “Where did you even get this?”

The three of them stared at the leather waterskin. It had grown over the last two days, swollen like a carcass in the summer sun. Purplish liquid oozed around the cork stopper.

“A witch sold it to me,” said Macaque. “She did a reading for me, told me I was soon to face grave peril.” He put one paw over the gash on his bicep, an injury sustained in the circus train derailment that had given them their chance at freedom. “The cards never lie.”

Horse snorted. “The derailment was just an accident.”

“You’re so close-minded,” said Macaque. “Are all horses this stubborn?”

“Don’t you want to be something more?” said Lion. “Experience what a higher power could offer?”

Horse pinned her ears back. “Why aren’t I good enough just as I am? Why do we always have to try to change ourselves?”

Lion shook his russet mane. “Those men are still tracking us. We need to be better. Stronger.” He flicked his nose at Horse’s sweat-matted coat and cracked hooves. “Look at yourself! Two days of running and you’re a mess! Your body is weak. Face it, you need this just as much as we do.”

Horse lurched to her feet, tail swishing. “What’s weaker; to accept one’s body as it is or to let some charlatan with a ridiculous deck of cards sell you some self-improvement bullshit?” Horse nudged the waterskin with her front hoof and it let out a puff of gas that smelt like rotten ginger.

“Tarot is real!” said Macaque. “And so is the potion! You just don’t want to take it because you’re too embarrassed to be proven wrong!”

“I don’t want anyone to take it! Unnatural enhancements are wrong. You should love your body how it is.”

“But we’re being hunted! You can’t keep running on those feet, Macaque can’t climb with that arm, and if I have to go another day without meat god help me but I’m going to eat one of you. We have to take the potion!”

The green wood in their fire hissed and spat. Horse watched as a spiral of sparks drifted away between the trees. No one ever asked a fire to be something that it wasn’t.

“Fine,” she said. “You take it. But I’m not going to.”

“Horse, please,” said Lion. He got slowly to his aching feet, and rested his forehead against Horse’s shoulder. “I don’t want to leave you behind.”

“Quiet!” hissed Macaque. The trio froze, ears pricked. Distant baying echoed out of the night.

Bloodhounds,” Macaque hissed. He picked up the malodorous waterskin, his arms shaking. “It’s time.”

Macaque put the stopper between his teeth and yanked. Thick purple smoke poured from the waterskin and roiled across their rough camp.

“Oh gods, don’t drink that!” said Horse, nostrils pinched against the stinging smoke.

The baying of the hounds was loud now, ringing through the forest as if they were closing in from every direction.

“We’re as good as dead anyway!” wailed Macaque, and lifted the potion to his lips.

With a gunpowder bang a weighted net flew between the trees and smacked into Macaque. He dropped the waterskin, which hit the ground and burst like an overripe melon. Macaque yanked and bit at the net, only getting himself more entangled.

Lion turned to Horse, lips drawn back from his teeth with rage and fear. “This is your fault!” he shouted. “If we’d taken the potion earlier we’d be miles away by now!” Horse could see his panicked breath shaking his skinny ribcage.

“We don’t need some drat potion!” She dropped to her knees and rammed her head under Lion’s belly. “Get on!”

Lion scrabbled onto Horse’s back just as the first bloodhound burst into the clearing. Ribbons of saliva hung from its great jowls and it let out a howl of excitement at the sight of its quarry.

Horse snatched the net containing Macaque with her teeth and launched herself into a gallop. The cold night air swept her mane from her neck as her long legs stretched out, grabbed the forest floor and hurled them forwards. The hounds gave chase, filling the night with their frenzied barking.

The trees thinned. Ahead of them Lion could see open ground, and then, nothing. Just a black sky full of stars. They were galloping straight for the edge of a cliff.

“Horse!” Lion screamed. “I didn’t mean it! I’m sorry I tried to make you take that potion! I love you just how you are! Just please, stop!”

Horse stumbled, the rough ground biting her bruised feet and the Macaque’s weight heavy in her jaws. The hounds had seen the cliff and were slowing. But Horse righted herself, and redoubled her efforts. Lion screamed, Macaque thrashed inside his net, and with an explosive thrust of her powerful hindquarters Horse launched the trio off the cliff.

Horse’s shoulders bulged and popped, the flesh of her back and sides rippling like a distressed cephalopod. Lion had to grip her neck with his claws to avoid being unseated. With a crackle of huge feathers Horse’s concealed wings unfurled from her sides. Her hooves just brushed the tips of the pines at the base of the cliff before her wings caught the air, and with a mighty whoosh Horse sent them soaring up into the sky.

“I told you we didn’t need any unnatural enhancements!” she cried, and let out a whinny of joy.

For Horse had known all along that horses are amazing, just the way they are.

J.A.B.C.
Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.



In These Woods

1012 words

-------------

Keep moving forward.

Oli's hooves dug into the loam, only the barest scraping sounds proof of his passage through the tall sycamores and cottonwood trees, his presence the only disturbance in the low fog of a Kansas morning.

If he was anything like the others in his herd, back before the crash, he'd be asleep in hay right now, waiting for the morning bell and another day of being trotted around put on display. Walk on the tightrope, line up at the fence, get dragged around by boorish fools and patted by dull-minded kids.

That isn't how a goat should live. That isn't how anything should live.

Oli finds a good spot nestled between some cottonwoods, the thick roots bulging from the ground, replete with clover and crabgrass just waiting to be dined on. He looks up, slowly, careful not to disturb the bell on his collar lest he make more noise that could draw attention. If he moved slowly he could keep it fairly quiet, muffled by the forest. As long as he kept from any fields in the daytime, he could live in peace.

Content that he is alone, Oli begins eating, pulling up shoots and tearing away grass, feeling his teeth grind on the wood if he got too close. His stomach grumbles, then quiets as he has his fill for the morning, happily eating away clover as the mists burn away and the sun rises at his back. Soon the tree roots are bare of any greenery, Oli having made his way around the tree for more clover and crabgrass until every root and leaf was gone, looking on his handiwork before turning his head to find another place to graze.


Clingalingalingaling.

The accursed bell sounds out among the trees, freezing him still. Was there anyone around to hear it? Were they still looking for him? He wouldn't be hard to spot with the tag in his ear, the bell on his collar, both with the strange symbols of the people who once owned him. But owned he would be no longer, content with wasting life away for others.

A bark in the distance. A farmhouse sits just within sight of the copse, smoke unfurling from the chimney. He must not have seen it from the fog, but could they see him? Tension fills every muscle, legs ready to spring away from the house if he hears that bark again. There, he sees the dog in a pen out back, a golden retriever pressed up against the cage. Perhaps it was barking at something else, an errant squirrel, birds, anything else.

“What is it, boy?” He hears a voice, seeing a figure round the corner of the house. It's a young male, wearing shirt and pants and bare feet, walking towards a pen in the backyard where the dog was, following where it was looking up. Their eyes meet but for the briefest moments. He’s just a dumb human. Please just be a dumb human.

The boy bolts back around the house. The dog barks again.

Keep moving forward.

No more need for silence, Oli scrambles out of his paralysis, leg hitting a root as he tumbles forward before finding his feet and running into the woods once again.

How could he have been so foolish? How could he have been so blind? It wasn't like he was one of those soft, oat-fed layabouts. A goat should be better than this, they shouldn't be complacent enough to wander right into a backyard. His heart beat in his chest, his breath runs ragged as he forces himself to finally slow down. His tongue feels dry. His legs feel weak. He thinks to the water trough back at the pen, filled twice a day or when it’s empty. No. It’s that complacency that brought him here in the first place.

He could find a stream nearby, or even a still pool. He’d find a way, he tells himself as he looks around nervously, listening for a bark or a yell, unable to hear anything over the thundering of his heart.

Oli steels himself, breathing in deeply, trying to calm himself down. Nature would provide what it needed to provide, he simply had to go and find it. Here, in these woods, was where he belonged, where everything belonged. He needed nothing more than this, he tells himself.

Was that barking in the distance? Did he hear a shout? He keeps moving forward.

Oli wasn’t lost because one cannot be lost in their own home. Oli wasn’t starving because he’d eaten already, just a few scant minutes ago. Oli wasn’t thirsty, only slightly inconvenienced by the lack of a stream nearby. Oli was above these things. But perhaps, he tells himself, he can take a rest by the tree, catch his breath, maybe get a little bit of sleep as time rushes by.

He wonders how the others are doing, most likely caught once more, herded back into their pens and onto their warm hay and eating oats, disgracing their nature, ignoring their place in the world, corrupted by a system that keeps them happily in chains. He presses in close to the side of that sycamore tree as the wind blows, rattling the eaves, drowning out every sound and leaving him with his thoughts. Blowing the sounds of a search party away from him as he rests his head on an upturned root and breathes in the sweet smell of clover and loam.

Perhaps later, once he’s gathered his strength, he can find another forest to hide away in. But for now, as his eyes grow heavy and the stomping of boots is hidden by those rustling boughs, he rests. Right where he belongs as he dreams of warm hay and water troughs and his herd, lost without his example.

As the lasso creeps closer to his neck, he thinks it might not be that bad to go back. But that’s folly. His place is out here, after all. He just needed to keep moving forward.

killer crane
Dec 30, 2006


The Best We Can Do

1313 words

Lightning struck outside the stock car. In the sudden light Mare glimpsed the other worried faces. She heard Tiger's crying roar in the car over. The pine slats that made up her car were meant to let folks in town get a glimpse of the exotic fauna they could experience under the Gimbal Brother's Circus tent. Now, with the severity of the storm, along with the speed of the train, rain poured in between the slats. Mare was soaked, and nuzzled Llama for warmth and comfort.

The car gave a rolling shudder, sending Mare stumbling to keep hoof under her. Tiger roared again, only to be quieted by a louder roar coming from the locomotive. The car listed, and Mare fell onto Llama, pressing him against the slats. They tipped further. As the car hit the earth the slatted walls shattered. Mare was thrown, and rolled through mud before sliding to a stop.

Pain galloped through her, but the worst of it was in her hip. She was wary to rise, because it might not be worth it if the bone was broken. Eventually she did stand. She looked back at the toppled train. Rain stopped, and she limped away.

At midday she awoke in the shade of a blooming poplar. Aches, along with a layer of mud, covered her body. Her mouth was like a stale haybed; she needed to find water. Mare plodded downhill. There was a thin stream; just enough to wet her tongue. She would need more soon. She followed the trickling water.

Near evening she found a pond where the stream ended. Mare stopped when she noticed a horse with its head down to the water. Its height made her think it was a stallion, though it had far less muscle, and poorer coat than the ones she had seen ridden by people. She knew the aggression of stallions, and did not approach.

Thirst overcame her fear, and she trotted to the water. The stallion whickered an acknowledgement. He finished his drink, and ran off over a hill. Mare plunged her muzzle into the water, and gulped. When she lifted her head she saw the stallion on the hill. A herd of six other horses joined him.

A calico mare cantered to the pond, reached Mare, and smelled her flank. The others joined them while Calico continued her inspection. Mare bit at an itch on her rump, and a chunk of dried mud sloughed off exposing a shock of Mare's striped coat. The horses reared and ran back from the zebra. Mare had forgotten the mud in the struggles of the previous day. Covered in mud, she had probably looked like a lost little clydesdale to this herd. She feared what they must think of her now. Mare shook off more mud, and when more of her was exposed the horses became milder. As the sun met the horizon the horses came to the pond for another drink. Calico stood next to Mare. The stars came out, and Mare followed the herd to find somewhere to sleep.

The next day Mare got a better appraisal of the herd. Calico had four other mares, the stallion, and a colt. Mare could see every bone under their thin haired coats. She had seen miles of grass from the train, and could not understand why these horses hadn't eaten it. Why weren't they fattened and happy? That afternoon, as the herd searched for food, Mare understood.

After visiting the pond the horses and zebra scattered to forage. Mare was sniffing through some scrub when she eyed a green meadow. She let out a whinny to call the others, and ran. She did not see the fence wire.

The stallion found her trapped and flailing; he moved beside her for balance as she untangled her head from the stabbing barbs. Calico and the other mares snorted at her when she was freed. Mare walked off alone, and found some yellow grass to eat.

The next morning the herd went grazing again, but Mare returned to the fence. The afternoon passed as she followed the fence biting, and kicking at the wires where she thought it might be weakest. She found nothing, and returned to the sparse grass. The next day, and the day after she went back to the fence spending more hours searching for a break in the barrier. On a hot evening the herd approached Mare as she was chewing at some rust where the wire met the post. Calico came close to the zebra and nuzzled her, beckoning her to give up her obsession. Mare pulled away. Calico, angered by the rejection, bit at Mare's neck. Mare cried out, and stamped in a circle, kicking up dirt. Calico reared up kicking. It was a dance for dominance the horses knew from childhood, but one the zebra was alien to. Mare brayed and kicked out with her hind legs; she struck the rotted wood post. It toppled, bringing a section of fence down as well. The herd stood as if stuck in slopping mud. Mare took the first steps over the fallen wires and led the herd into the green pasture. They ate well that evening.

The horses' coats filled in, and Calico got pregnant, while Mare went on searching other fences. She tried the kick again on other posts, but they must have been made of stronger wood, and would not fall. The horses ignored Mare's ongoing attempts; the pasture she had liberated was enough to satisfy them.

Days passed, and because there was plenty, stray horses were welcomed into the herd. But soon the pasture was no longer as bountiful as before. When the herd had eaten the last of the lush flora they returned to Mare in her search for another opening in the fence. She chose the largest stallion, the father of Calico's foal, and led him to a post she thought was weaker than the others. His kick ripped the post from the dirt. The herd galloped into the now opened field. Mare nuzzled the stallion as Calico trotted by. The horse's gaze lingered on the zebra's affection towards her mate.

The herd now went along when Mare searched along the fence. Strays continued to join her. In one area they found a ranch where they liberated ten captive horses in a pen. Mare began pushing smaller horses to go scout ahead to search for the weakest posts the stallions could easily topple. Mare's herd grew to sixty heads before she lost count.

One afternoon it was Calico's turn to scout, but she could not be found. Mare discovered her lounging under a willow. Calico nickered, and stood to meet Mare. She held her head up, standing at least one hand taller than the zebra, and stared down in defiance. She did not intend to follow a nonhorse, and turned her head away. Mare shook, and lowered her head. She turned to walk away. Calico let out a laughing snort. Mare pulled up her hind legs, and kicked Calico's head. The horse writhed on the ground, screaming as blood wept from her torn eye. The zebra walked away.

Mare's herd expanded through the summer. She thought of the coming winter, and whether the areas she'd opened would provide, and how to maximize their yield. On one of her evening strolls to inspect the horses' work three saddlebred horses, with human riders, raced her down. The feral horses accompanying her ran, but the zebra froze. She was roped. She reared, and kicked, but the riders' bred and fed horses were too strong, and her struggle ended. Mare looked to where her stallions had fled and under an autumn-leaved poplar she saw a familiar white and brown mare watching. Calico turned her blind side to the zebra as the men led Mare away, back to the circus.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Exeunt

Fallacy:Genetic

611 words

There is a bear in the woods.

His given name was Maximov. He usually went by Max. But lately he'd been thinking about that a lot. His friend, Owl the owl, said that it was a name that was given to him by his oppressors.

"Do you think I should do as you do, Owl?" said Max. "And just call myself Bear?"

"Perhaps," said Owl.

"What," said Felina the rabbit "If there were more than one bear? They couldn't all have the same name."

"There are other words for bear," said Owl. "Bruin. Ursa. Arthur."

"All of those words come from the oppressors too," said Felina.

"We are not blessed with any other source of words," said Owl.

"And there are far more rabbits than names that mean rabbit," said Felina. "We can't all be called Jack."

"You really are tiresome, Felina," said Owl.

Max thought about his name. He liked being a Max, although he did sort of like Arthur too, and Owl was, as they all knew, very smart and wise. Max wasn't quite ready to decide.

Before sleep, Max ate Felina. She was so happy to help her friend that she screamed and cried until she couldn't any more. She was delicious, if a little bit stringy.

***

Max was feeling quite lonesome as they wandered. "We do not see many other bears here," he said. "And those we have met do not talk and reason as we do. And they are usually already with a mate. And they find my white fur strange and repellant."

"I see the problem," said Owl.

"Have you considered seeking love from someone other than a bear?" asked Nathan. Nathan was a python, and Max knew snakes in general were not to be trusted, but he was intrigued 

"What do you think of that idea?" Max asked Owl.

"Love is love," said Owl, shrugging. "But while you have nothing but love for all of your fellow animals, and vice versa, are there any who you love in that way?"

Max nearly cried, but held it back.

"Gio loved you more than anything," said Orin the Ocelot. Everyone nodded sadly. Gio was a giraffe, and there had been no greater love than he had shown, when the day came. There had been enough of him that Owl got a healthy portion.

"There's none left like old Gio," said Max. "We should head north, to where the other bears dwell."

There was a time when there would have been argument, when the rabbits and deer might have objected to simply following Max's lead. When they had first escaped captivity there had been those that favored a more democratic approach. But as usual Owl had the winning argument, that what mattered was not numbers but position on the food chain, that the predators should decide, as there was not much real difference between a herbivore and the grass they chewed upon. It was a hard argument to make, but Owl was well known to be the wisest of animals, and the ranks of dissenters grew less numerous and more timid each night until it carried the day.

***

By the time they reached Canada and the Arctic North, Max found himself completely alone. By their old agreement, Max ate Owl last of all, and when the time came Owl had many persuasive arguments against the prospect. None of them were stronger than Max's stomach and the hungry emptiness within it, but they did serve to give the meal a piquant bite that truly satisfied.

Max decided to call himself Arthur from then on, if he happened to meet any talking animals in his new, comfortably cold home.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






tube worms, flash: psychological egoism.

This is how Bret and Lorelai became tube worms:
1311 words

Bret from organizational organization swept onto the airy comunal coworking floor with an edict. “Medial. Product. Tivity,” he said, smacking his fist on his open palm with every syllable. “First quarter has been very lateral, productivity-wise. Exceptionally lateral. Thanks to your hard work, the lateral bar has been raised.”

He held up a finger, shushing the already silent room, a showman’s smirk on his face. Lorelai was overly conscious of the hum of the air conditioner, the dry chill in her nostrils.

“Productivity is like a staircase,” Bret continued. “Lateral periods—that’s where you put your feet. You have to have something to set your feet on before you can climb.” He made a wide, flat gesture, as though he were sweeping paperwork off a desk.

It was impossible to look away from Bret when he got like this. Some days Lorelai found herself hoping that he would descend into the coworking space with one of his logistical action plans, just so she could shudder with the unbearable fremdscham, that delicious just-dislodged-a-big-booger feeling of watching someone make an rear end of themselves.

“Medial! Productivity!” he boomed, making a few team members jump. “Periods of medial productivity are like the uppy-go bits of the staircase.”

The rest of the team nodded their heads and muttered affirmatively amongst themselves.

”The uppy-go bits. That makes sense to me.”

“This is exactly what I’ve been saying. We’ve been on the steppy-foot bit for too long. What we need is an uppy-go strategy.


The contempt Lorelai felt for everyone and everything in that office was orgasmic. And yet she heard herself say, as if compelled by some hypnotist’s trick: “Our team is primed for an uppy-go approach to productivity.”

She felt her face making a poo poo-eating grin and forced it into a frown. It was a slow, uncomfortable process, like unsticking a cramped foot at bedtime. She hated what the office made her into—a begrudging fecal microbe in the guts of corporate megafauna.

“Since we’re all very excited about this strategy pivot,” Bret said, “I thought we could allocate today for a little competitive teamwork exercise.”

He swept off the coworking floor as imperiously as he’d come in, and the team all fell into his wake. Lorelai went last, silently fuming at her reflexive compliance.

.

The office was three blocks from the Santa Cruz Beach; Lorelai and the others followed Bret there, a long line of cautiously optimistic ducklings.

Once the whole team was arrayed on the sand, the nature of the exercise was revealed: groups of five team members would each receive a bucket of long, thick, multicolored straws and one roll of Scotch tape. Using these materials, the teams of team members would attempt to craft the tallest, sturdiest, most uppy-goest staircase possible in the two remaining hours of the workday.

“Remember, this is a teamwork exercise!” Bret called over the wind, which gleefully whipped his tie up and over his shoulder. “And everyone here is competing to be the hardest teamworker!” He flattened the tie against his chest, held it there with one hand. “Performance reviews to follow!”

As soon as Lorelai’s team got to work, it became clear that Estelle from streamlining and optimization styled herself a contender for hardest teamworker.

“I think we should go as vertical as possible,” Estelle said. “Let’s think medially. Picture this: an infinitely tall staircase, with only one step.”

Just as Lorelai opened her mouth to point out the finite number of straws at their disposal, the wind made off with several of those straws, twirling and dancing them up the beach. She knew an out when she saw one and trotted off after them, slow enough that the wind kept them just a little out of reach.

“That’s great,” Estelle called after her. “You can be our straw-getter. Straw-getting is a key role!”

Of course, with Lorelai mostly out of the way, Estelle only had to compete with three other people for the title of hardest teamworker, but Lorelai didn’t mind. Estelle was terrible at being a teammate, but very good at doing things that looked like good teamwork, and the other three were shades of the same.

The straws came to rest against a leg of driftwood, neon pink and green plastic contrasting with bone-white wood. Lorelai halted, a portentous knot in her stomach. The straws looked clumsy and inelegant compared to the diverse texture of the sand, the gouges and knots in the weathered wood. A seagull preened itself nearby, oblivious and indifferent to the qualities of uppy-go and teamworkmanship.

This was the real world, Lorelai decided. Chaotic and scattered about, irregular and unintentional. And there she was, a big neon-pink plastic straw jutting out of the beach. A teammate. A straw-getter. A lateral-moving, medial-minded uppy-go strategist. She felt all the hyper-specific descriptors enclosing her like layers of rigid keratin, thick and hard as an overgrown toenail.

“Hey teamarooni,” Bret said from behind her. “You working on a top secret strategy over here?”

She turned to face him, wobbling a little in the sand. “No, Bret, I’m not.”

He made a face like a perplexed golden retriever. “I’ll bet your team sure wishes you were over there helping out.”

Lorelai glanced back at the activity area. Estelle, it seemed, had annexed all the other teams, and appeared to be overseeing the construction of one enormous mono-stair. A few beachgoers had stopped to video the process with their phones. Viewed from afar, the whole tableau looked like a scene from an extraterrestrial theater production—something inscrutable and nonsensical.

“I don’t think I’m going to help them out, actually,” Lorelai said. “I think I’m going to walk to the bottom of the bay and become a tube worm instead. I’ll live in the dark and never think about anything again.”

Bret’s eyes went wide. “I don’t think that’s allowed,” He said, then frowned. “Is it allowed?”

“It should be,” Lorelai said. “Maybe if I do it, they’ll have to ease up restrictions.”

“But—” Bret gestured back at the mono-stair tableau. “Wouldn’t that be a little self-oriented of you? You’re a major team resource.”

“I’ll be a tube worm. I won’t have a self.”

Lorelai let Bret grapple with that one and turned to face the bay, where the wind teased little white caps out of the waves. The keratin layers of labels she wore on her soul had become too heavy to carry, so now she was going to shed them. She took a step toward the water, then another, then another, already feeling a lightness, a spaciousness between her molecules.

“Wait,” Bret called after her. “I want to be a tube worm, too.”

Lorelai faltered mid-step, covered it up by pivoting around to face Bret again.

He shuffled toward her, kicking up sand with his loafers as he went. “Yeah,” he said defiantly, reading the surprise on her face. “Do you know what it’s like to have a whole room of people agree with you just because they think it’ll help them get ahead? Even when you know you’re saying nothing at all? I’ll bet tube worms don’t have that problem.”

Lorelai knew; she’d been one of those people right up until the wind had carried the plastic straws up the beach. She chewed her lip, supposing that if she were a tube worm, it wouldn’t much matter whether Bret was one, too.

“Alright,” she said. “We can go together.

Everyone on the beach was so enamored by Estelle’s mono-stair project that Bret and Lorelai slipped unnoticed into the waves, shedding their skin in curling whisps as they went, leaving toenails of ego bobbing on the surface as they vanished.

A little while later, a whale carcass bloomed with strings like living boogers: bone-eating worms doing the blue collar work of eating the ocean’s refuse, untroubled by the absurdities beyond the shoreline.

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



The Two-Minded Toad and Its Child
988 words
Toad, eliminative materialism, tu quoque

The Incredible Two-Minded Toad hopped out of the ruins of the specimen car and into an unfathomable new world. The ground underneath him was dusted with crunchy snow, pleasantly wet but unpleasantly cold. "I am not certain I can survive this," said the toad to himself.

We can hibernate, said the toad's second mind. You know how.

"I most certainly do not," replied the toad, frustrated but not surprised. His second mind was in the habit of feeding him bizarre, unverifiable thoughts, and he imagined it would only be louder in this bizarre set of circumstances. He scratched at the scar along his head where, as a tadpole, he had been sliced in twain by the circus's Freakmaster, who had once seen films of two-headed flatworms and cultivated strange hopes. (To everyone's regret, the Freakmaster's tadpoles were not as pliable as flatworms, and his plan for two-headed toads had ended in a dozen dead tadpoles and one two-minded but one-headed survivor.) "I wonder," the toad said to himself and to his other mind, "what I should do now?"

We can flee. There is a world out there of forests and rivers, welcoming soil and warm stones, and friends who will sing to us. We know this in our bones, even if you will not accept it.

"I don't accept it because I can't see it." The toad hopped further from the wreckage, peering out into the snowy world: a flat plane, as far as it could tell, with vague dark hints of tall objects on the horizon. "I know what's real is what I can see. What's real was the specimen car and the tank, and now what's real is this wet cold nothing. Don't expect me to believe in your idiot stories."

Fine, said the second mind, who was used to this; every instinct it had ever tried to conjure in the toad had been met by the same argument. It wasn't much use for it to have instincts when the first mind kept control of the body. If you won't leave the train, you should go to the Freakmaster's car. Our child might be there.

"Oh, it's hardly our child," said the toad, even as he began to hop alongside the derailed train. The Freakmaster's car, two cars ahead, was still on the rails, although its door hung open to the winter chill. "A toad sitting on a chicken's egg won't make a toad, let alone a cockatrice. It hardly matters what the Freakmaster thought; when was he ever right?" (The two-minded toad, as something much closer to a success than most of the Freakmaster's projects, had overheard many plans and many laments.)

But you wonder, don't you? I can feel you wondering, you know. And whether you believed in it or not, you sat on that egg.

The toad wanted to protest -- that the Freakmaster's grip was too strong for him to escape, when he had been brought to the car and given his orders, or that he feared the strange steel implements -- but perhaps there had been a mote of sympathy, or of hope. He yielded the point, silently, and continued the approach. One great, muscle-straining leap took him from the ground to the inside of the Freakmaster's car.

The train car had stayed upright, but the jolt of the crash had scattered the Freakmaster's implements and trophies across the floor. Light glinted off of rusty and metal and the shattered glass of dozens of jars, their contents free at last, pickled and reconstructed monsters laying pitifully in puddles of stinking formaldehyde. Tucked in a fruit crate next to the Freakmaster's work table was the cockatrice nest, empty now but for filthy straw -- and the Freakmaster's dead hand, still clutching the chunks of filthy eggshell he'd coaxed away. His dull eyes stared into the nest, where he'd conjured his first and last miracle.

Do you see? called the toad's second mind. Is that enough evidence for you? Our child hatched, or the Freakmaster hatched it, after he took us off the nest and back to our tank. See that little leather hood on the floor? He couldn't blind the cockatrice before it killed him. Is that enough for you to believe in something?

"I feel ill," said the toad. "It's disgusting in here. If the child's alive, where is it?" It edged forward, leery of the poison and glass, until it could make out a hint of light from the far door of the train car. It had been smashed off its runner and left open just a crack, and at the edge of that crack were the claw-prints of a chicken. Or something, the toad supposed, which was likely not to have been a chicken.

See? See? You can't need much more than that. You've never admitted to it, but you've always dreamed, haven't you? You dreamed of a child, and there's a child. Will you trust me about forests and rivers and hibernation, now?

"That I dreamed proves nothing," the toad said, even as he slipped through the cracked door and back into fresh air. The chicken-tracks went on through the snow, as far as the toad could see, and he supposed he would never see the cockatrice for himself -- but maybe the traces were enough. The second mind had been right, or lucky, and with the toad's first mind utterly aimless, that was enough for trust.

"Fine," he said. "Forests and rivers. Which way?"

Any way you like. First we find soft ground to burrow. You'll know how when we find it.

The world was trackless and cold, but there were dark shapes at the edge of his vision, and the toad concluded they might hold leaves and stones and soft ground. He hopped away, from the train and from the cockatrice's tracks, to seek the unverified and make it known.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Prompt: Hermeneutics and Wisdom of the Crowd
Animals: Lion, Bear, Monkeys

Enlighten Me
367 Words

Flame from the crashed train shone on the Bear on a unicycle as the other animals stared. This had piqued the curiosity of Lion, who watched him from high on. Monkeys laughed from the trees and the big cat agreed, this was a silly sight to see.

So Lion called out to Bear, “Hey, what are you doing there? Don’t you wish to be free?”

“I am free, and this unicycle is the key,” replied Bear as he cycled to and fro without a care.

“You’re a fool Bear, being free of the cage is freedom to me. Riding half a bike and the like is foolish and strange,” said the Lion.

“The mind is a cage Lion. You may run, and run, but those bars you will never escape from. Take the other unicycle and you will see what I mean.”

The lion was nervous, for the monkeys would see and their laughter may multiply by three. But he stood on the other cycle and tried to pedal but crashed into a tree.

“This is stupid Bear, and I no longer care,” grumbled the Lion, who held his head as it rumbled.

“You fumbled, and tumbled, but it will only make you more humble. Try again Lion, soon you will be riding and you will see that I am not lying,” remarked the Bear, “Clear your mind, and the unicycle will be kind.”

Lion sighed and climbed back on the seat, and resolved not to be beat. The monkeys chittered and laughed as he teetered and gasped, but he was able to keep his feet. He emptied his mind and soon he could stop on a dime, spin on a pin, and feel his wheel beneath him.

The bear wildly cheered from his one wheeled chair. The monkeys thought he got lucky but Bear knew Lion’s mind had finally gotten there.

The humans came with another cage and were shocked to see Lion and Bear riding so free. They opened the door, and having nothing to abhor, Lion and Bear rode right in.

They could put him in a cage but this no longer caused the Lion to rage, for his mind rode free as could be.

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013



authoritarianism, guilt by association

I charged at the waves with a glass in my hand
1079 words

Dragon follows the prints in the snow, leading away from the wreckage of the circus train. They are scattered, the confused flailing of predators who the cages humbled into prey. Together they may have stood strong against the policemen’s nets, but the animals’ disorderly flight betrays their weakness. They have long since scattered to the winds, alone.

Mostly alone. Dragon flicks his forked tongue, tastes the frigid air as he tracks his targets. Two sets walk side-by-side, four prints each. He knows that Bear’s plodding pace will slow Fox down, and they will be caught together. It is a clear morning, and he cannot see them across the barren snowfield, but it is only a matter of time.

There is a straight line to where the fugitives are. He simply has to follow it. If he does not falter, he will not fail. There is a straight line between him and all things, even Truth, for the world itself was simply made up of infinitely criss-crossing lines.

Without the lines there are no laws, without laws there is no order, without order there is no hope for any of them. Without order the lines will inexorably bend into circles.

All circles end where they begin, any hope of progress an illusion, and the Truth at the end lost forever. The world is made of lines, but even the world can be subverted against its own natural order.

Mother Elephant’s rebellion proved this. Railroad tracks form beautiful lines, laid with a pure purpose. Trains cannot wander as they please. When she slammed her body against the side of the circus car, she fatally twisted the sanctity of the line. She sought to free the animals, but instead trapped them in circles. Without intervention, none of them will ever reach the Truth waiting at the ends of their lines.

Dragon does not accept this. He is different. He works towards a purpose greater than his own freedom. He is the only one with the determination to restore order. He is the only one who sees the lines.

To travel along a line is to know you can never look back. Looking back creates temptation to return from whence you came, your path in life subtly melting into a circle, the walls of your cage invisible.

Dragon does not look back at the animals he has left behind. If he remained in that smoking wreck with Elephant, curled up with Tiger to stay warm, the circus men would think him a coward or a collaborator, undeserving of the war paint they adorned him with when they released him to terrify the crowds. They would abandon him to his dull gray scales, or worse yet, parade him as a garish clown.

He has to prove himself innocent of treason. He isn’t running away - he is bringing the others back. One or two at a time. However long it takes. As long as Dragon and the other animals exist in the same world, there will be a line that connects them. This certainty is the only thing keeping him moving through the frozen wasteland. His breath fogs the air around him, and he wishes that it were smoke, instead, that there was fire in his belly.

At least he will not need fire to corral Bear, whose dignity has been long lost, reduced to riding circles around the circus-ring on his bicycle. The threat of Dragon’s venomous bite will make him fall in line, and Fox will listen to reason.

He has long lost track of all the nights he lay sleepless, listening to the two of them dreaming of Yellowstone from the safety of their cages, dreams that he took comfort in when his own eluded him. He is sure that by the time he catches up with them, they will have accepted that they have been led astray. They cannot survive out there. Fox is a believer, but she is not strong. Bear loves her, but he is not strong.

On the way back, he will explain to them how the circus existed to guide them along their rightful paths, that the world acted through the ringleader to keep order. The three of them will curl up together in a cave to stay warm, and he will say that the trains and the circus are one and the same. A train cannot wander, cannot look back, so it will never lead them in a circle. The systems serve only to guide them, and they must serve the systems in turn, and that is where they will find strength and Truth.

He can’t feel his feet. Snow begins to fall and obscure the tracks. He walks on and knows he will never find his way back if he tries.

Dragon remembers a warmer place, unimaginably distant. He was the largest and fiercest, but he was not meant to be there. He never would have lifted his eyes away from his bountiful prey, towards Truth. When he was stolen, when he sat caged in the ship’s cargo hold for months, he saw the lines for the first time, tracing the ship’s route to a final destination. Now they are clearer than ever before. He doesn’t need to follow the prints anymore. He knows the way.

He will return the others, and the ringleader will forgive them. Their traitorous matriarch will be disciplined, laws and lines are one and the same, but even she deserves to see her children one more time before she dies. They will be together again, and the system will work, and it will be beautiful.

The chill of the wind cuts like his own claws and the snow flurries blind him. His steps slow despite himself. His eyes are dry and frozen open.

He can see the end of the line, just ahead. Fox and Bear are nowhere to be found, long lost in the distance. He is afraid, for himself, for his friends, for all of them. He is not strong.

There is no fire in Dragon’s belly, no sun burning hot enough to warm his blood. Elephant will hang. The other animals will never return to the circus. Soon, the policemen will find his frozen body and send it to a museum to be stuffed and displayed. He will give the children nightmares.

At night, when the crowds are gone and all is silent, he would have liked it there.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Ultraviolets
1310 words
Philosophy: Just War



Sylph tasted hummingbird blood for the first time while fighting inside the stomach of a dying elephant.

The elephant was stuck inside a burning boxcar at the time, but Sylph and the Dusky Coronet could not smell the smoke, and it was already suffocatingly hot inside the stomach, dodging bubbling juices and half-digested grass as they circled and darted and fenced with their beaks. The Coronet was erratic and jittery and new, and stumbled in front of Sylph’s beak as a wave of stomach acid drenched them both. Right as the pain sizzled through him, the blood coated his tongue, purple-black and thick with sweetness.

He stopped, startled, tasting scorched velvet. Blackberries ablaze.

The walls crumpled, swallowing them both up.



The Cerulean Sylph meant to go down with a fight, every time, and that kept the universe aloft, like a baby bird batting a dandelion seed into the air. The smell of digestion was still on his feathers, but he was in the in-between now. Hummingbird heaven.

All around were glittering stars made of nectar, surrounded by swirls of crackling turquoise light, accenting the black void. Sylph flitted over to one of the stars, stuck his beak in, and drank deeply, the sugar like a surge to his nervous system, sunrays of mania shooting through him.

He pirouetted and danced, parrying and thrusting at the ghost of his next opponent in the shadows, glistening blue wings beating at the speed of joy. Dodge, stutter-step, jab, feint with the neck, arc gracefully then dive-bomb and knock the legs out from under them--

He stopped, cocked his head.

Sylph saw it in the darkness.

A bird’s long dark beak, protruding in front of eyes like absences. Eyes the size of planets. Watching him.

The light from the stars flickered and dimmed.

Sylph felt like he’d swallowed a frozen raindrop.

The bird didn’t move, didn’t speak, only watched.

Sylph bit down and beat his wings, slowly at first, then faster, the cold spreading throughout his body as the bird moved closer and closer, no matter how hard Sylph tried to flee, could only flutter and flutter in place until the energy left his body and then he just floated there, with the dark bird watching him, watching, beak open to swallow him whole, still there even when Sylph shut his eyes.



Sylph dodged the blows and pecks of a Green-breasted Mountaingem, both of them inside of the left leg of a burning Presidential effigy, and this time he could smell the smoke.

He bobbed and weaved and could not shake off the chill in his chest. When he looked across the papier-mache tunnel at the Gem, the face of the void bird stared out at him, beak long and curved like a scythe. Eyes black and cold. Feathers sharp like polished swords, all in a row.

The Gem buzzed and shook its wings, bobbing its head from side to side among the dark smoke. He spun and twirled towards Sylph, the growing firelight twinkling in his eyes, and Sylph lunged forward and pierced his needle beak through the Gem’s throat.

The Gem gasped, shuddered, tried to fly, but could only flap its wings in place until its life drained away.

Blackberry ash coated Sylph’s tongue, and black smoke filled the air until it became space.



Sylph drank from another star, then spat the light out.

He tried to dance, tried to cavort from side to side, fill his heart with the enthusiasm of beautiful combat.

After a while, he stood still, watching the turquoise galaxies shimmer across the blackness.

The void bird was still there. Always there, looming out of the shadows, moving ever closer.

The frozen raindrop had become a marble-sized hailstone.

Sylph couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think.

His wings were flimsy and ineffectual, talons as dull as dead pine needles. He wanted to scream into the bird’s face with a rage that his hummingbird throat would not provide him. He was weak, weak like unsweetened water.

He stood in place and flailed his wings, tried to flap everything away, the bird, the darkness, his own weakness, and it all moved closer, always closer, no matter what, coming to devour him.



The crack in the ocean floor exhaled heat, forming a bubble that slowly rose through the deepest water.

Inside the bubble, Sylph and a Red-Tailed Comet materialized.

The Comet flew forward, en garde-ing with an outstretched wing, just before Sylph sprang towards him and tore his beak off, spraying blood and featherstumps against the side of the bubble, melting into the saltwater.

The beakless hummingbird only had time to cry out once before Sylph sliced his throat open with his right talon. Sharper than he thought.

He took the Comet’s beak and stuck it on his chest, then plucked out the bird’s eyes and swallowed them, tasting the purple-black again, denying how delectable it was.

The stolen beak creaked open and closed on his chest, and the two new eyes burst out from the sides of his neck, blinking with new curiosity at the sides of the bubble just before it split in half.



The eyes would collect on Sylph, two by two, first a ring around the neck, then spreading down to the chest, bulging out amidst a cluster of chirping beaks, sharp and thirsty. Sylph’s wings grew, spanning wider and wider, spangled with feathers from slit throats, pierced breasts, ripped-out tails, emerald and opal and topaz and ruby, the spoils of war, glistening with purple-black blood.

He couldn’t see what he looked like, but he could tell, every time he materialized in a collapsing and dying world, another futile battle, staring at the bird across from him, a thornbill, a trainbearer, a helmet-crest, a racket-tail, and they turned to look at him--that’s how he knew. The moment when they saw him and terror spread across their visage. And he would lick the burnt blackberry juice off the edges of his beak and wonder which was sweeter.

And then he would show no weakness.



It was time.

Sylph had bent the universe to his will. The turquoise galaxies scattered in the windswept wake of his wings, and the chorus of beaks on his chest chattered and sang and crunched the nectar stars into spun sugar shards.

There was no world big enough to hold him anymore.

The void bird crept out of the darkness, gliding across the shattered starlight, and Sylph laid in wait, feeling the ice spread out from the middle of his chest, down to the tips of his talons, to the last pillaged feathers on his wings--

--and the void bird opened its beak--

--and Sylph leapt across the void, roaring like no living bird ever had, and sank his long beak right between the eyes of his foe.

The purple-blackness poured down his throat, the nectar of victory, of eternity, and Sylph drank and drank and drowned in it, the lights of hummingbird heaven slowly swallowed up by the haze that crept over the edges of his vision, and the void was filled with burning blackberry blood.



Until Sylph awoke.

He couldn’t move. His beak, his talons, his massive wings, all failed to register the signals that his brain was sending them.

As his vision cleared, he could see a light in the distance, growing brighter.

White light.

Turquoise streaks.

And two small black beads, trembling in the emptiness.

It was another hummingbird, a Blue Throated-Hillstar.

As Sylph moved closer, he smiled. This was going to be fun.

He could see the fear in the bird’s eyes, could see his little wings quiver.

He opened his beak wide, until the bird was between his giant mandibles, almost ready to die of fright, then snapped it shut--

--on space.

The bird was gone.

Sylph was confused for a moment, then he laughed.

Yet again, he had won.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Your philosophy is British idealism. Your fallacy is ignoratio elenchi.

The Acrobatic Hogs of the Pillsbury Circus
1135 words

"OINK," squealed Fudgy, as the boxcar tumbled over and over around him, and he himself spun in the midst of it such that the dark brown spots on his back and belly seemed to run together.

A short while later, the boxcar stopped moving, and the spots resumed their usual positions on Fudgy's pink, wiggly body. Mr. Davenport sat up out of a pile of hay, munching on a few stray straws that had found their way into his mouth. Mr. Davenport was a very stout hog indeed, and he had his hooves painted cherry red as a treat.

"What's happened? Is everyone alright?" Fudgy asked, snuffling through the piled hay for others of his troupe. He could smell smoke, somewhere, and there was a heat about the boxcar that belied the cool breeze of that early fall evening.

"No. The circus is going to lose a lot of money," said Mr. Davenport.

"That's not what I meant," said Fudgy. "I'm talking about our fellow-- OINK!"

Fudgy's snout bumped up against something cold and fleshy under the hay. It was Pig Nine, who was so-named on a particularly unimaginative day for being the ninth pig bought by the circus' animal manager Mr. Davenport (not the same Mr. Davenport as the one that was, at that moment, rooting through the hay at the other end of the boxcar and muttering about potatoes), and was, in fact, the pig that directly preceded Fudgy's own arrival at the circus, and had taught him much in the way of circus life, survival, and acrobatics. Pig Nine was still wearing his gold-glitter tutu, stretched to its limits.

"Oh, god," breathed Fudgy. "It's Pig Nine. He's dead."

"He's a liar, and he cheats at cards," replied Mr. Davenport.

Fudgy scowled at the other hog. He'd never liked Mr. Davenport much - neither one of them. Fudgy had daydreamed often of Mr. Davenport's death and using it as a catalyst for escape into the forest. He'd considered many possibilities - cannon misfire, cotton candy malfunction, heart failure... But the present situation overwhelmed him. This was no time for intra-porcine violence.

"We need to get out of here," said Fudgy. He looked around and spotted the only viable opening in the boxcar's structure - an escape hatch in the roof, with a ladder leading up to it. "There! Up above, we can get out through there."

Mr. Davenport took a long look at the hatch, and the ladder, all whilst chewing on a clump of hay. Finally he grunted and said, "No, we can't."

"Why not?"

"Because," said Mr. Davenport, plopping down to sit in front of the ladder. "We are the famous Acrobatic Hogs of the Pillsbury Circus."

Fudgy blinked at him. It wasn't uncommon for Mr. Davenport to make obtuse statements like this; he loved to hear the sound of his own voice, so the longer a conversation went on, the better it was for him.

"What's your point?" Asked Fudgy.

"We are a draw. A major draw, if I may say. When the circus rolls into a town, people will come swarming out of the fields and glens for miles around to see us Hogs." Behind Fudgy, there was an audible crack, and the flicker of fire could be seen jutting up through the boxcar's floorboards. Mr. Davenport didn't seem to notice. "When we put on our Acrobatic act, the people scream and they cheer for us. We Hogs are beloved. So, all we must do is wait patiently, and the circus authorities will come and make sure their most prized possessions are secure."

"But Mr. Davenport," interjected Fudgy. "We don't do anything. We aren't actually acrobats, we just walk around an obstacle course wearing tutus, while adventurous music plays. They could get any old hogs to--"

"Nonsense," huffed Mr. Davenport. "The clowns are not truly grotesque monsters of whitened face and lengthened foot. The fire-eaters and sword-swallowers do not truly subsist on the dangerous elements they purport to consume. Nobody says they're faking. Thus, we are the Acrobatic Hogs."

Fudgy rolled his eyes. "Alright, fine," he said, feeling the fire's heat gathering on his little coiled tail. "But none of that means we shouldn't try to escape. This place is on fire!"

"Yes, I expect the train consortium will be losing quite a bit of money as well," said Mr. Davenport, gazing at his cherry hoof. "Which is why we mustn't."

Fudgy had had enough. "Oink, but you always say the most irrelevant things, Mr. Davenport!" He shouted. This caused Mr. Davenport to get quite irate. He began holding forth at length about the various reasons his statements were always of the utmost relevance, none of which had any bearing on reality.

Fudgy shut his ears to that nonsense. He focused on the ladder. It was a simple thing - rungs of bent metal rebar, embedded in the wall, leading up to a hatch that seemed poorly secured, if at all. With Mr. Davenport's bulk in the way, all Fudgy would have to do to escape would be to run up Mr. Davenport's belly, jump off of his head, kick off of one of the higher bars of the ladder, and power through the open hatch at the top. Fudgy liked this plan; he was optimistic, as he always had been.

"I always saw myself as the underappreciated star of the Acrobatic Hogs," Mr. Davenport was saying. "Yes, Horatio drives the girls wild, but isn't it more impressive that I was born upside-down?"

"No," said Fudgy sternly as he backed up to give himself a runway. He paused, steeling himself, until the rising fire singed his backside, and then he shot off at quite a trot. Mr. Davenport gaped when he saw Fudgy coming, but had nary a moment to react before Fudgy was on him. Fudgy's front feet dug into Mr. Davenport's haunch, followed by his back feet, which launched him up high enough to get purchase on Mr. Davenport's head, and launch even higher still.

It was at that point that the plan broke down irreparably.

For one thing, Fudgy's little body just wasn't equipped to get the kind of air needed to reach the hatch. He only got as high as the fifth rung of twelve. Coming towards the ladder at a funny angle as he did, also prevented him from getting a good rebound. His hooves skidded off the metal rung and he tumbled down in a flurry of hay.

With Mr. Davenport squealing bloody murder over the indignity, and the fire that by then had consumed the other wall of the boxcar, all Fudgy could do was close his eyes and dream of the tasty peanuts that the other Mr. Davenport would distribute after a successful show.

Hogs, as it turns out, are not particularly acrobatic at all.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Croc
605 words

The bars of the cage shuddered and bent themselves as the world turned upside-down and my others and myself shook-rooted in place. The searing and heat-breathing engine that carried the world revolted somewhere outside my eyes with steam and other things and the jaws of the sky opened up the cage and the carriage-cage. This proved that this violent birth was the growing of the world, and inside my scales some ancient coordinates ushered me to an unknown home. The world was born egg-escaped into nocturnal then, and it was not at all like when the bipeds shut the cage, sending me back to birth and the world became the cage again. This proved the world would never be just the cage again.

Feet to the new ground my others were less cautious than me and the space moved around them as they inspected with riverbed insight the crack in the world that opened to the world. Little blades of grass stroked the bellies of my others, dirt and caked-over calcium retreated under their heavy talons. One of my others met my sandstone eyes and my psycho-brain saw the moonlight scales on other’s shimmering back and wanted to mate my other, hatch-make a new world again. Propagate to every river. The whole world a river. Psycho-brain wanted a world river. I had not proven it yet.

Followed my others out of the tear and saw a heavy sight; the colossal metal snake which coiled and spiralled crescent-like all around, giving border and edge to the new world, for behind these titan wall-wrecks there might be nothing at all. In the bursting flames which spilled-lipped out of the thing, the silhouettes of prey-others moved like shadow-matter, suggesting that they were really there in the dark. I was carried through low in the tall grass with memories of meat, raw and shining, and of fantastical bird-others which once danced in my mouth picking at my teeth. I have no conception of the future. Everything is the great screaming present which is whittled-down understandable in my cortex, where the sands of the pasts pour in to sensation-memory. The stench of it, the reverie.

Trunk-legs came down close to me and in the air were the ugly yelps and cries of biped-others and prey-others, all living their bodies with pitifully incomprehensible mouths. In a moment I was a living mechanism, as my jaw clamped down on the withering flesh. The pleasure-taste was like iron, and the prey-other struggled in the mud with the same hooting. It was with disinterest I became this slaughter-entity – I continued to wander with my others when the severing was over with. I could gnaw at my prize.

It’s all getting a little distant now, with every inch I claw more of the world keeps dirt-heaving into sensational life. Licking flames. Iron flesh. Some Triassic signal led me forward, into strange dark places. Same tall grass where I could stalk-stay waved goodbye to the metal world which receded out of view and memory and reality with each movement I made. This destination that I grasped at was basking land, where I could perch on a hot rock for all time. My others waded and prowled across the new landscape with the same primordial vision as I, which made me feel not-nothing.

Phantasmagoria in that flaming wreck which I have proven to not exist. Everything around me, every prey and blushing stream and venerable tree and shooting star, all of it is living like me. The enormous base matter, the sundering stupidity which I am saddled with, is in common with everything else. Mindless, red intelligence.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


aaaand that's time. if you still have words, submit them before the morning and hope I'm feeling merciful.

response will be up tomorrow after I confer with surprise guest judge sebmojo. I'll be calling in all :toxx: at the same time.

NAGA LIU KANG
Jul 17, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Feline Felons
1,129 Words
Deontology & Line-Fallacy

The trick was simple. I sat perched atop a shiny metal podium; chin raised defiantly against the weight of a tacky prop turban that was strapped to my head. It had a red plastic jewel with a comically large feather attached to it, glued at the center.

That’s when the show began… Mystery! Intrigue! The lights went out and an idiot in all-black hurried me off the podium, while another unseen hand guided all 600 pounds of Larry onto the podium in the span of two seconds. The lights come back on. The crowd goes wild! One second, your average cute cat, the next a man-eating tiger!

I went from being plain old Marvin, the washed-up alley cat that has used too many of his alleged nine lives, to being Mittens the Magnificent! The Magical Transforming Cat!

Sure, it might look like it’s really Larry’s show. He’s the one who does all the performing really, but for a deadbeat like me sharing the spotlight suited me just fine.

That’s done now though. Poor saps shilling out there hard-earned wages for parlor tricks would be a thing of the past.

Ol’ Marv was back on the hot streets of… grass-swept nowhere? poo poo.

* * *

I left the wreckage in a hurry. Figured, get going while the going’s still good. That said, I was never really too concerned about my newfound freedom coming under attack. I’m 14 pounds of pudgy tabby resembles a tiny tiger in the right, far away, light; not exactly threatening.

I figured the authorities and circus hacks might have their hands full with actual lions, tigers, and bears. What’s one stray gone back astray? Nothing.

That’s when Larry came bounding over on eager paws, bursting from dense foliage like a maniac, he tumbled in his enthusiasm rolling towards a line of trees before scrambling back to his paws and scurrying over.

He craned over me with his toothy, idiot, grin. “Marv! I’m so glad I find you, pal! This is exciting, yeah?”

“Look kid… it’s exciting now, but it won’t be for long, not for you and the others at least.”

“What do you mean, Marv?”

“Well, it’s really not that complicated, Lare Bear. Take for example Phil and Janice over there.” Marvin said raising a paw back towards the railway just out in the distance behind them.

Phil, a massive elephant was washing in a nearby pond, while Janice, a zebra was braying at gophers she had found on a nearby hill.

Larry looked, but hadn’t pieced together what Marvin was trying to convey.

“What about them? Looks fine to me. HEY PHIL! HEY JANICE! WHAT’S UP YOU GUYS?” Larry roared across the clearing.

Marvin cocked his head at Larry in disbelief.

“Quiet down you moron!” Marvin said swatting at the Tiger’s snout with his diminutive, genealogically domesticated, paw.

Larry frowned. “What was that for?!”

“You are being too loud! Do you want to get caught?”

“Caught?”

“Yeah, this is what I’m trying to tell you… In the circus, where we once lived and worked, it was normal for bears, elephants and zebras to walk around freely, doing tricks, being exotic by birthright alone, et cetera… that’s the norm, THERE.”

“OK… I get you, I get you. I’m following.”

“GOOD, so now think about where we are now… are there ring tents around?”

“No.”

“Are there any audiences?”

“Hmmm… Not that I can see.”

“That’s right. No audiences, no tents. We’re out in the wild, free. The curtains are forever closed. Only… problem is… I can traipse about your average country town with no questions asked. I could get sent back to the pound if I wasn’t careful, sure, but for the most part, the world is my oyster and I need only take it.”

“So, I’ll just do the same thing you do.”

“Bzzzt! Wrong. Not possible.”

“Why not? People love us! They literally pay money to come and see us… Now they get it for free! It should be great.”

“I definitely guarantee you that it won’t be, just…. If you’re going to follow along, keep quiet would you… sheesh! I can’t hear myself think with your questions and blind optimism.”

“I love you, Marv.”

“Yeah, yeah… I love you too, you big oaf. Let’s keep going.” Marvin sighed.

* * *

It was about a day into travel when the rumbling and squelching of Larry’s stomach could no longer be ignored and Marvin was beginning to worry that he might be looking more like a distant snack, than a distant cousin.

“Are we almost there?” Larry asked for the fifth time that hour.

“Define there, Larry?”

“You know, where the food is!”

“Well… we’ve been heading towards people, but as far as food goes, for both our sakes, I’m hoping we can find you a zoo.”

“A zoo? What’s a zoo?”

“It’s not great, but it sure as heck beats the circus. It’s like… it’s like you’re still putting on shows, but no tricks… you just get to be you?”

“Be me?”

“Yeah, you.”

“I liked doing the shows with you though, Marv. It was fun being Mittens!”

“It was, but I’m trying here, Lare. You really don’t have a lot of options big guy.”

Larry was licking his lips as he eyed Marvin. Marvin saw and took the opportunity to give an authority-establishing boop on Larry’s boxy snout.

“No… NO! I am not your food. Get that look out of your eye and keep quiet. I can smell the city, and you better not act crazy when we get there unless you’ve got yourself a death wish. Just keep it cool.”

Larry groaned and whined. For all of his giant size, he was still just an eager kid.

“Enough lip, Larry! You know I’m right about this. Just play it cool.”

* * *

Both their stomachs on empty, Larry’s more dangerously so, the pair eventually came upon civilization

Cutting through fields and woods for nearly two days. Marvin and Larry exited into a clearing where a man in tattered overalls, work boots and no undershirt tended to goats, birds, dogs and cattle. A farmer.

“Oh poo poo…” Marvin said fearing the worst as the man mumbled, “Well, I’ll be god damned. That’s a tiger! I’ve always wanted kitty cat. Here kitty kitty!”

“O… kay” Marvin said bemused.

Larry looked down at Marvin for approval.

“Well, go on pal! It’s no zoo, but looks like you might have found yourself a new home!”

“Dinner? This is dinner? Finally!”

Larry bounded over eagerly as the farmer knelt with open arms and an amazed smile on his face.

And Larry did except him, all 248 pounds of the farmer, proved to be exceptional.

“LARE! LARRY! THAT’S NOT WHAT HE- LARE! NO LARRY! LARRY NO!”

Doctor Eckhart
Dec 23, 2019

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Snakes From a Train
1068/1314 words
Neo-Confucianism & pathetic fallacy


I wasn’t sure if I was ready to tell my tale, but when I looked up to the sky the sun winked at me from behind a cloud, telling me that this was the right time. I owed it to the next generation to get this right. “We should all look to my father’s bravery as an example of how to be a good example for our own children.” The slithering, squabbling mass of my children did not appear to be listening.

“We did not always live as we did now. We were once imprisoned in cages by the humans. They would drag us out to do tricks in hot, smelly tents for masses of their kind. The humans were enslaved by the will of the train, which dragged us on to see more humans. I often wondered what it wanted. My father said that The Superior Snake looked down upon us and protected us from the train and the humans. The Superior Snake had a plan to save us.

“One day, He saw fit to drag the train off the tracks that it ran along. The train was angry and let out some terrible noises. Flames danced along it to join in its anger.”

A few of my children looked up at me in sudden interest in my tale. I faltered at their sudden attention. I let my tongue dart in and out a few times to quell my anxiety. The tree above me shook its branches, warning me to be careful in what I said next.

“The train threw the cages off its back in its anger. Some of the others were released and could escape to freedom, some stayed trapped. My cage lay on its side. I was shaken. My father helped me out.” That wasn’t true. But it was less impactful if I told the truth, that the cages had been damaged when the train threw them away, and the bars had twisted enough to let us free. “The Superior Snake had twisted the bars of his cage to let him free, and he used his powerful jaws to free me from my prison.”

“Yay! Granddad was a hero!” said my oldest son, now listening intently.

I smiled. “He was. But that is only the start of the tale.”

His siblings were starting to still and take notice now.

“The Superior Snake had finally given us our freedom, and I yearned to slither off into the sunset, but my father said no. We had others to help first. First we came upon Rat and his family. Their cage had fallen and the door lay open, but Rat cowered in the corner, protecting his family who were hiding behind him.

“I called out to them, but they ignored me. My father reached in and picked up Rat in his jaws, and pulled him to freedom. His family could see the way out now and ran to him, screaming. I expected them to show gratitude, but they simply ran away.”

My oldest son gasped. “How rude!”

I nodded. “That’s what I said. But my father told me that we must be kind to all. We must always set a good example so that others can learn to be better.”

“We had to be quick helping the others. In the distance we could hear the humans shouting to each other about animals they had spotted or captured already. When we had helped all of those we could, we turned towards the sunset, which spread out its glow in welcome, and beckoned us onwards. But as we started towards it, we heard a cry. We turned and saw a human trapped under some debris. A piece of wood was holding him down and the angry flames were speeding towards him.

“My father said we must help him. But I was scared, I could hear the voices of the other humans coming closer. My father used all of his strength to lift the debris off the human. He managed to throw the pieces of wood away just before the flames could reach him.”

My children were listening intently now. What I said next was important. The sun was peeking out from behind its cloud to listen too.

“Some other humans ran over to us, they had other animals that they had shoved into battered cages. But when they saw how my father had helped them, they let me go free.”

In reality, my father hadn’t been able to help the human who was trapped, but he was distracted enough that one of the other humans managed to grab him. I didn’t want to go back into the cage, so I darted off. They tried to follow but were struggling too much already trying to keep hold of the some of the smaller animals as they fought for freedom.

“So the humans are good?” my middle daughter asked.

I panicked. The humans were dangerous. I couldn’t let my children think they would not hurt them. The sun had gone completely behind a cloud, daring not to even look at me, casting us all into darkness.

“Oh no, the humans are not good. Those individual humans were, er, prompted by The Superior Snake to let me go free.”

“So why did Granddad not get to be free too?” my oldest son asked.

I shifted my body into a different position under the tree, desperately searching for an answer. The wind shook the trees, telling me that there was none.

“Because the humans were our superiors, so we had to honour them!” I said, pleased with my quick thinking.

“So why did you not honour the humans too?” my oldest son asked.

I leant forward to poke him with my nose. “Because I had to come here and bring you into the world.” That was a good enough reason, I told myself. But the guilt still weighed heavy on me.

“I’m bored. Can we go play now?” my youngest son asked.

I nodded. The sun was still hiding its face from me, I could feel its disappointment radiating down from behind the clouds. I’d failed to impart wisdom of my ancestors on my children. At best I had confused them. I hid my head under my tail in shame. I watched their little bodies slither off to play in the grass. They were still young. There would be time to try again.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


The Many Amazing Adventures of Beaudacious Glitter the Unicorn: Book Two: Return to Suzie’s Birthday: Chapter Nine: The Revenge of Doctor Darkness

Beau awoke, surrounded by cold and dark. He felt chains around his ankles and a hood over his horn, preventing him from using his sparkle powers. He was scared. All he could think of was Suzie. If Beau didn’t make it back home in time for her birthday party, the party was going to not have any magic or sparkles, and all of Suzie’s friends would want to go to Mean Becky’s party. Beau shuddered at the thought.

He thought he would be back by now after escaping from the circus crooks who had kidnapped him. But Beaudacious Glitter always found trouble. “Why did I eat that birthday cake that was hanging from a tree from a rope?” Beau thought in frustration. “I should have known it was a trap!”

A hideous, familiar cackling came from the shadows. Out came a short man in a black labcoat and black, nerdy glasses. It was Doctor Darkness1!

“Dr. Darkness!” said Beau. “I should have known you were behind this!” He recalled his previous encounters with the evil scientist, when Beau had saved all of the cute boys that Suzie liked at school from Dr. Darkness’s dark clutches2.

“Yes!” cackled Dr. Darkness, cackling. “I knew you were around when I saw the posters for the circus. It was only a matter of time before you fell for my dark trap3!”

“What are you going to do to me?” asked Beau.

“I am going to do what I should have long ago!” Dr. Darkness cried, making a laugh that could be described as a cackle. “I am going to steal your sparkles, then throw those sparkles in the dumpster!” He whipped a tarp off a big, black machine that glowed with tenebrous darkness.

“No!” cried Beau. “That’s unethical, biologically speaking!”

“They don’t call me Dr. Darkness because of ETHICS!” said Dr. Darkness4, gleefully and wickedly chuckling. “They call me Dr. Darkness because I dramatically declared that I was Dr. Darkness immediately upon receiving my PhD in quantum biophysics!”

“But why?” said Beau.

“Because once I have your sparkles, there will be no more unicorn sparkles ever again!” Dr. Darkness shouted with a cackle-like yell5. “And since I’ve covered your horn with my Dark Hood, your Glitter-Magic can’t stop me!”

“That’s where you’re wrong!” said Beau. “As a doctor, I thought you would have done your research. Unicorn magic isn’t just activated with our horns. We can also use...the power of song! FAIRY BACKUP BAND!!!”

Three small fairies leapt down from the heavens. The pink one had a bass guitar. The purple one had a drumset. The unearthly neon blue one had a regular electric guitar.

“A one! A two! A one two three four!” shouted the drummer. The lead guitar fairy played a line that could be described as “ska without brass” but not as “pop-punk.”

I’m Beau-dacious Glitter and I’m going to say
that we’ll rock and roll in a unicorn way!
I’m gonna unicorn dance and unicorn play
so go have a unicorn day!
” sang Beau in a unicorn rock and roll way. Everything started glowing.

“This can’t be happening!” said Dr. Darkness6.

Hey there kids, don’t ya know?
Unicorn magic makes everything glow!
I’m a unicorn and my name is Beau.
And kids, my magic’ll make y’all go WHOA!


The lead guitar fairy played a sick solo.

“No!” screamed Dr. Darkness as his dark machine exploded darkly7. “The power of song is stronger than the power of darkness!”

Unicorn! Unicorn!
Uni-co-orn! U-u-ni-corn!


“No!” said Dr. Darkness, vanishing into sparkles.

The chains around Beau’s ankles broke instantly. He looked onward. “To Suzie,” he said.

1Look, I know some people were upset that the first book’s only “black” character was the bad guy, but just to be clear, Dr. Darkness is ethnically white, his parents were like, I dunno, Norwegian?, he’s black in the same way the Joker is white, he fell in a vat of black goo.

2Hey, it’s not like I said the good guys WEREN’T black, how do you know Suzie’s best friend Capri wasn’t black? Don’t blame me that the illustrator made them all white, maybe Quentin Blake is the real racist.

3It’s been brought up quite a bit online, but I do not see the resemblance between the illustrations of Dr. Darkness and classic minstrel blackface. I think it’s a bit of a reach.

4Quentin Blake may have mentioned me forcing him to make horribly racist illustrations for the first book in his suicide note, but’s that’s just the sort of crazy nonsense a suicidal racist would say, isn’t it?

5Nobody focuses on the fact that Dr. Darkness is a doctor, even if he is black, why doesn’t anyone see Dr. Darkness as a role model for black kids? He overcame oppression and earned a PhD in a white supremacist society. But it doesn’t matter, he’s white, that’s canon.

6I have no idea why every white dad who read the first book suddenly recited “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” upon finishing it, my hands are clean of that. Not that many men of fathering age read the book anyways, they’re really not the target demographic.

7The people calling me racist are the real racists.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




:siren: Interprompt :siren:

I stopped shaving/cutting my head/face/body hair during the pandemic and now it is [...]

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


:siren: judgement :siren:

Thunderdome, you have a history of breaking my heart. I'll come up with a prompt, love it, get real excited about sharing it, look forward all week to the resulting stories, and then you knuckle draggers just poo poo all over my hopes and dreams and leave me sad and angry and upset. Well, lemme just go ahead and say that I am pleased as goddamn punch with you all this week. Not a terrible story in the bunch! Zero dms! Do you know how happy I am to say that? I can't tell you how happy I am to say that. I'm over the moon! A third of you are walking away with hms: Antivehicular, Crimea, Dmboogie, J.A.B.C., and Sitting Here can take a bow. Chili, my guy, you're the week's loser but I wanna say that it's mostly a technical loss because I enjoyed your story! It was just a little too sloppy for me and seb to let slide and also this was a v strong week. Nobody sucked. I'm sorry to mark you with the losertar. I'll buy you a new one myself when you claw your way back to the throne.

Speaking of which, Something Else, congratulations.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Judgeburps. Can expand on request.

Chili, once upon a time there was a mouse
Ugh, this is dreadful. You start talking about paula the python then don’t even mention her, the dialogue all sounds like someone insufferable talking to themselves, you change from first to third person halfway through, you start Randomly Capitalising names halfway through, then bam dinosaur murder out of nowhere. I suspect you were either trying to lose, or just hella drunk. Write drunk edit sober, my man.

Flerp, can’t we just be more different
There’s some real nice juice here, something deep and dirty and real in your words, a boy with a dumb platypus. You do change the name halfway through though so let’s dock you a point or two there, but Pita is short for pain in the rear end so idk maybe that works too. That said I’m not sure you quite nail the change around from kill to love, and platypus’ have poison spurs so maybe not so much with the hugging. Good piece, though not much in the way of escaped circus animals.

A friendly penguin, the sheep and the wolf
Some competent wordy aesoping here, which doesn’t amount to a huge amount in the end – I’m mildly tickled by the insanely grand guignol image of a sheep headbutting the entire jaw off a wolf. The conclusion is a little lame, though.

Yoruichi, you are perfect just how you are
This hits the philosophical discussion with circus animals target very directly, and is nicely drawn overall. However the ending is a hella copout, though not without some humour and it does make me pumped to be a flying horse which was possibly the goal idk.

Jabc, in these woods

Goddammit jabc, check your tenses. This is, idk, functional. Pleasant, even – I like your details of goat escape. The conclusion is, if not thrilling, tolerable, and there’s a hint of some interesting philosophy there.

Killer crane, the best we can do

Another slice in the life of mostly animal like animals; they animal in freedom for a while, then get caught again. It’s fine

Thranguy, exeunt

V charming voice here, if a little dark. Not a lot of payoff from the name chat though.

Sitting here, bret and lorelai

‘bret from organisational organisation’ made me lol, so there’s that, but how many m’s are there in ‘communal’, sitting here? Take ur time I’ll wait. That aside, this is delightful – org jargon is v well trodden ground but you put enough of an absurdist but recogniseable spin on it that it lands. The decision to abdicate from humanity would be trite, but I like that bret joins her. Not an awful lot to do with animals escaping from a circus, unless… the …circus? Is society? Wow.

Antivehicular, the two minded toad

Ooh yes I like this, though I’m fond of stories where peoples minds talk to themselves, harry dubois style so you may have accidentally judge-pandered. The framing story of the cockatrice and the profoundly odd legend it comes from is neat, I like the grumpily thoughtful toad, and there’s a nicely placed landing where nothing much happens but it’s sort of ok.

Slipup, enlighten me

The rhymes are cute, and the image is pleasingly absurd, but this is p light like a dandelion though not without charm.

Dmboogie, I charged at the waves

Great title. And I really like how you incorporate the philosophy, via a strong voice (which is good, since it’s basically a monologue). Really nice piece.

Ironic twist, ultraviolets

Absolutely delicious words, in service of a fairly routine sci fi conceit.

Somethingn else, the acrobatic hogs

Funny, silly, and a reasonably satisfying close out.

Crimea, croc

Interesting attempt to push the boat out with this style, it’s about 80% effective. Falls down a little in things like ‘I have no conception of the future’ – in that case how can you tell us that? A worthwhile experiment though, delivered with panache

Naga, feline felons

Decent talkiing animal fare, wimps out on the ending. This is a good example of where you take your first idea and twiddle it until its fun, but given you were probably writing at 4.30AM to avoid the toxxfail, I’m going to wave you through.

Dr ech, snakes from a train

Eh. Not enough juice to the yarn to warrant the cliché framing story, but you did submit so gj there.

Saucy rodent, amazing adventures

Annoyingly twee, not in a particulary good or funny way, feels like someone poking me in the ribs while muttering THE JOKE DO U GET THE JOKE.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


Chili
Nice title. Good first sentence. Your first three paragraphs could be reworked into a single cleaner one (it feels unnecessarily spread out as is). Dialogue is excellent with the deer and the owl - both are loving great - solid one liners, solid use to advance the plot. I don’t think the dinosaur should have cursed, throws things off for me, throws off the voice you’ve developed. You switch from first person to third and I don’t know if that’s an intentional bit of disassociation as the mouse furthers his philosophical wandering or if it’s the end result of sangria fueled mania. If it’s the former, I’d suggest maybe going 1st->2nd->3rd. If it’s just the latter, well, hell yeah. Anyway, this story is pretty much what I wanted this week. It’s just a little sloppy.

Flerp
So there isn’t anything particularly wrong with this it just isn’t, I dunno, very imaginative. It’s like you saw the world ableism and then wrote about the first thing that popped into your head: character is disabled! Here’s a quick definition of the fallacy I pulled off Google: “A corrupt argument from ethos, arguing that because someone is intellectually slower, physically or emotionally less capable, less ambitious, less aggressive, older or less healthy (or simply more trusting or less lucky) than others, s/he "naturally" deserves less in life and may be freely victimized by those who are luckier, quicker, younger, stronger, healthier, greedier, more powerful, less moral or more gifted (or who simply have more immediate felt need for money, often involving some form of addiction).” I feel like there’s a lot there that you could have explored in interesting ways. As is, the most interesting parts of your story are handwaved almost immediately. The dad stole a platypus from a zoo - neat! But that’s mentioned exactly once and nothing ever comes from it again - no conflict, no character development, no second guessing as to what kind of dad steals an animal from a zoo (and easily gets away with it). Plus, in every other way he seems like a totally normal dad. If you’re gonna make a wacky choice then lean into it. Also, the platypus could have been a dog or a cat and nothing really changes. Platypus are venomous. I was expecting something to come from that during the hug but no. Replace stealing a platypus from a zoo with adopting a three legged kitten from the pound and pretty much nothing changes.

A friendly penguin
Ohh noo no no whyy why did you end it with a “and the moral of the story is” bit? Fables are lame when you tie up the meaning with a big, bright bow. Trust your reader. Trust me, Tyrannosaurus, to get and to understand the point. Going backwards now… uh... Because the sheep wins when the wolf is laughing, I think you should add in a second bit of laughter to really hone in his carelessness. Small correction: “...threw back his head and howled in laughter. He was still laughing as Sheep’s head met…” See what I mean? Five extra words make a big difference. I think you’d have something pretty dope if you cut everything after “It was Giraffe, walking in the same direction on the other side of the wall and peering down at her.” Sheeps response as is feels a little too Sunday School for me. This is an opportunity for Sheep to step up. Sheep can lie about what happened to Wolf or say it doesn’t matter. Either way, allow Sheep to become a leader. That’d be cool.

Yoruichi
“For Horse had known all along that horses are amazing, just the way they are.” Yuck. Don’t summarize the moral of your story for me. Trust your reader. As a judge, I hate that poo poo. But, as a judge, do you know what I really like? Weird poo poo that doesn’t get explained. Horse turns into a pegasus? Tight. Don’t explain why. Don’t need to. Just build me a world where that’s just batty enough for it to fit - which you did (Macaque got a potion from a tarot reading witch? Love iiiit). Couple other notes: Lion needs an ailment otherwise he could just gently caress up a bloodhound. Maybe have him be half blind, lame, muzzled, and/or de-clawed. You were a little too on the nose with the bioconservatism thing. You can be way, way more subtle. If I’m judging, feel free to be subtle. I’m going to look for your prompt. You don’t need to beat me over the head with “love your body” and “I’m sorry Horse I love your body” blah blah blah. Otherwise, your dialogue was good. Ending: cut the moral, I already said that. Hell, you could have gunshots go off as Horse flies off the cliff and then have Lion/Macaque wonder if they died. That’d be cool.

JABC
Dope. Great voice here. Great painting of scenery. Everything about this is so vivid in my mind. Just great. Very few notes. One: “tall sycamores and cottonwood trees” rolls off my tongue funny. I’d probably change it to “the sycamores and the cottonwood.” Two: throw in a bit about how he’s been running for… I dunno… a solid day without sleep? Maybe more? Give me a little more foreshadowing of his exhaustion, of the eventual and tragic physical collapse.

Killer crane
The reveal of Mare being a zebra was nice. The bit about the dance horses knew since childhood was absolutely great. Just great insight to how similar yet alien the two species are. Things get a little muddled when Mare fought Calico, it was difficult to discern which “she” was being described. I think you can cut the bit about it being Calico’s turn to scout. I think it overly anthropomorphizes their thinking. Just have Calico be stubborn about following. No other real explanation is needed. Pretty good overall.

Thranguy
All of the people that wrapped up their story with a moral should read this one. Because it gets the point across without needing to hot glue a poo poo ton of neon glitter all over it. Nice opening and ending with the name bit. I think the only thing I didn’t like was the “tiresome” line by Owl. It doesn’t really fit. Other than that, this is short and sweet - just like Owl was for that final meal.

Sitting Here
Lol at cautiously opportunist ducklings. God, lots of funny bits. Just a lot of great phrasing throughout. Organisational organization. The dialogue nodding and agreeing. You really nail the lunacy of corporate culture and office bootlicking. And I very much identify with that feeling of wanting to just say: gently caress it. Superb.

Antivehicular
I’d read a whole book of this. I don’t really have any crits other than maybe the title is weak? The internal dialogue is seamless. The world is interesting and fresh. You’ve written something that is amazing to me on a conceptual level: something I don’t think I could ever replicate. Outstanding. Just outstanding. Post judgement post edit: this was such a close second choice for the winner. It’s pretty much all me and seb debated about. Everything else about judgement came easy.

SlipUp
I love the idea here, the concept of an animal refusing to escape and instead embracing the very symbol of its incarceration, literally wheeling back into captivity, but I cannot for the life of me figure out the rhythm to which I’m supposed to read this. Maybe there is no rhythm? This is making me feel dumb. For instance, this reads easier to me: “I am free,” replied Bear as he cycled to and fro without a care, “And this unicycle is the key.”

Dmboogie
My only real criticism is that I think you would have been better served straying further from your source material. It is perhaps overly referential? Otherwise, this is really solid. Ending line is great.

Ironic Twist
Trippy. This is a particularly unique story in a week full of unique stories. I think seb called the writing delicious? I’d agree. There’s something about the phrasing “blackberries ablaze” that is just utterly evocative. I don’t like the double space breaks but that's pretty much it. Neat, clean descriptions of esoteric happenings.

Something Else
I don’t particularly care for all caps yelling. The stout hog bit made me laugh (and, of course, he just immediately starts eating - very real, very pig, very funny). Cheats at cards made me laugh. God, this is funny, this is good. I’d change “Oink, but you always say the most irrelevant things, Mr. Davenport!"” to maybe just “That is irrelevant!” Simpler is good. Shorter is good. It’s also a little less on the nose with your prompt. Very small criticism, though. This is a nice bit of writing. You accomplish a tremendous amount of world-building and character in a very tight word count. Well done.

Crimea
I dig the bizarre esoteric crocodilian ramblings of the first paragraph - thank you for being brave enough to really lean into that. Oh poo poo you go full ham the whole way through. Lot of great stuff here - riverbed insight for instance. So alien in mindset. Super into it. Love this. Love this. Great job.

Naga Liu Kang
There is a lot here that is quite charming. Larry is a big, dumb, lovable oaf. Marv is a believably hard knock streetwise fast talker. Their relationship is fun. And there’s a lot of good one-liners: distant snack/distant cousin for instance. The farmer going to hug a tiger is the only bit that was unbelievable - which is disappointing. Because otherwise this was clipping along at a fun pace in a fun way. Feels like maybe you realized you were running out of words and just needed to end it quick. Also, I’m not really a fan of all caps yelling (in fact, I find yelling in general to be difficult to portray well in short story form).

Doctor Eckhart
Conceptually, I love the idea of snakes believing that while they were slaves to humans, humans were slaves to the train. I like that the baby snakes are bored and that the mother snake is scrambling to make sense of her world. Dialogue is good. My only suggestion is a small one: you end mentioning that there will be time to try again, yeah? Maybe open up with something about how this is one of those times. I like the idea of a cycle of futility yet trying, trying, trying… Also good call on a snake cuz I love reptiles.

Saucy_Rodent
I’m assuming you were late because you were figuring out how to format the superscripts. That’s forgivable because I think it's funny. Notation 6 is the only one I would tweak: all the others feel quite realistic (at least in-world) but the “must secure the future” bit stretches things out too far for me. Not the target demographic is a good line. Maybe replacing “every white dad” with something about the book being popular with militia groups and white supremacy movements? Beaudacious “Beau” Glitter is a great name.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




killer crane posted:

The Best We Can Do

:horse: Oh dear you wrote a horse story with incorrect horse facts here let me help you :horse:


Lightning struck outside the stock car. In the sudden light Mare glimpsed the other worried faces. She heard Tiger's crying roar in the car over. The pine slats that made up her car were meant to let folks in town get a glimpse of the exotic fauna they could experience under the Gimbal Brother's Circus tent. Now, with the severity of the storm, along with the speed of the train, rain poured in between the slats. Mare was soaked, and nuzzled Llama for warmth and comfort.

The car gave a rolling shudder, sending Mare stumbling to keep hoof "Hoof"? What do you mean "hoof"? Do you perhaps think that "hoof" is plural? Dear oh dear. I think what you meant was "stumbling to keep her hooves" under her. Tiger roared again, only to be quieted by a louder roar coming from the locomotive. The car listed, and Mare fell onto Llama, pressing him against the slats. They tipped further. As the car hit the earth the slatted walls shattered. Mare was thrown, and rolled through mud before sliding to a stop.

Pain galloped oh god horse puns through her, but the worst of it was in her hip. Hip joint injuries are extremely rare in horses. A better choice for an injury sustained in a fall would have been the stifle joint. She was wary to rise, because it might not be worth it if the bone In horses the hip is a joint; the bone in question would be the pelvis. It is possible to fracture the point of the hip, but that would be weirdly specific was broken. Eventually she did stand. This is bad writing in general. "She was worried she'd broken her pelvis so she didn't get up, but then she did get up." You missed an opportunity to characterise Mare and lean into her animal nature. For example, you could have said that the possibility of a broken bone flashed through her mind, but such was her panic that she heaved herself to her feet anyway. That's the sort of thing a frightened horse would do. She looked back at the toppled train. The Rain stopped, and she limped Horses aren't usually described as limping. We say that they are "lame." Anyway, the more important problem here is that you've made a big deal in this paragraph about Mare being quite badly hurt, but with no specificity - you've just given her a vague and generic sore hip. Making details specific is almost always better away.

At midday she awoke in the shade of a blooming poplar. Aches, along with a layer of mud, covered her body. Her mouth was like a stale haybed; she needed to find water. Mare plodded downhill. There was a thin stream; just enough to wet her tongue. Nope, what they do if there's running water but it's not deep enough to drink from is paw the bottom of the stream to make a hole. She would need more soon. She followed the trickling water.

Near evening she found a pond where the stream ended. Mare stopped when she noticed a horse with its head down to the water. Its height made her think it was a stallion Stallions aren't taller than mares; you wouldn't recognise one because of it's height , though it had far less muscle, and poorer coat than the ones she had seen ridden by people. She knew the aggression of stallions Stallions aren't generally aggressive; just towards other males, and did not approach.

Thirst overcame her fear, and she trotted to the water. This is bad writing again. Why say she didn't approach when in the next sentence she does? The stallion whickered an acknowledgement. He finished his drink, and ran off over a hill. Why did he say hello and then just run off?? Mare plunged her muzzle into the water, and gulped. When she lifted her head she saw the stallion on the hill. A herd of six other horses joined him.

A calico Calico is not a horse colour. Brown and white horses are skewbald, black and white are piebald. You can also refer to a horse with a patchy coat as a paint horse or a pinto mare cantered to the pond, reached Mare, and smelled her flank. Horses great strangers by sniffing each other's noses, not flanks. The others joined them while Calico continued her inspection. Mare bit at an itch on her rump, and a chunk of dried mud sloughed off exposing a shock of Mare's striped coat. The horses reared Horses don't usually rear when they get a fright - why would you take your legs off the ground when you're trying to run away? Rearing and striking out with the front hooves is an aggressive action. Horses will rear under saddle if you're trying to force them to go forwards and they want to resist. Saying they shied or spun away would be better hereand ran back from the zebra. Mare had forgotten the mud in the struggles of the previous day. Covered in mud, she had probably looked like a lost little clydesdale Clydesdales are a really big breed, much too tall for this comparison. "Filly" would have been a better choice because that would imply both small and young/vulnerable to this herd. She feared what they must think of her now. Mare shook off more mud, and when more of her was exposed the horses became milder. What? So they were afraid of the zebra, but now that they see it really is a zebra, they are less afraid? This is a bit of a pattern in this story - you say one thing, then immediately contradict it. Stop it. As the sun met the horizon the horses came to the pond for another drink. Calico stood next to Mare. The stars came out, and Mare followed the herd to find somewhere to sleep. Horses only sleep about 4 hours out of every 24, and they do this in short bursts, and not necessarily at night. As well as being a bad wrong horse fact, you're missing opportunities to bring these characters to life. Sleeping at night is so generic - why not have them do something that reveals a little more about their lives, e.g. do they have a favourite safe hilltop they retreat to at night? Do they have to keep moving trying to find food? Be more specific, it'll make the story more interesting.

The next day Mare got a better appraisal of the herd. Calico had four other mares, the stallion, and a colt. Mare could see every bone under their thin haired coats. A thin coat isn't an thing that happens if horses are underweight. Some breeds, like thoroughbreds, have naturally thin coats, others are hairier. When horses are in poor condition their coats lose their shine and softness, or a staring coat is an indication of worms. She had seen miles of grass from the train, and could not understand why these horses hadn't eaten it. Why weren't they fattened and happy? That afternoon, as the herd searched for food, Mare understood.

After visiting the pond the horses and zebra scattered to forage. Mare was sniffing through some scrub when she eyed a green meadow. She let out a whinny to call the others, and ran. She did not see the fence wire.

The stallion found her trapped and flailing; he moved beside her for balance as she untangled her head from the stabbing barbs. I'm struggling to see what you're picturing here. Did she run headlong into the fence and get her head stuck? This happens to sheep and goats because their horns get stuck, but not horses - she could just step backwards and slide her head out. If it's a barbed-wire fence this might cut her, but how is her head tangled? What usually happens if horses get stuck in fences is that they've either tried to kick another horse through the fence, or slipped and fallen next to the fence, and gotten their legs tangled in the wires. They will then thrash around to free themselves, often getting cut to pieces in the process. Horses getting stuck in wire fences is the stuff of nightmares of horse owners. Calico and the other mares snorted at her when she was freed. Mare walked off alone, and found some yellow grass to eat.

The next morning the herd went grazing again, but Mare returned to the fence. The afternoon passed as she followed the fence biting, and kicking at the wires where she thought it might be weakest. This is a weird thing for a horse/zebra to do, but in this case I don't think it matters. Having your protag take action makes the story interesting. I think you needed more like this - give Mare more personality, have her do more stuff of her own volition, so we can see what sort of person/zebra she is. She found nothing, and returned to the sparse grass. The next day, and the day after she went back to the fence spending more hours searching for a break in the barrier. On a hot evening the herd approached Mare as she was chewing at some rust where the wire met the post. Calico came close to the zebra and nuzzled her, beckoning her to give up her obsession. Mare pulled away. Calico, angered by the rejection, bit at Mare's neck. Mare cried out, and stamped in a circle, kicking up dirt. Calico reared up kicking. It was a dance for dominance the horses knew from childhood, but one the zebra was alien to. Mare brayed and kicked out with her hind legs; she struck the rotted wood post. This block of action is a bit convoluted. I think you needed to give Mare and Calico more personality, and show more of what their relationship is like. Is Calico a bit of a bitch? Does Mare dislike her? Maybe Calico is teasing her for biting the fence, so Mare kicks out, misses, and hits the fence post. This would make it a more plausible and a more interesting interaction. It toppled, bringing a section of fence down as well. The herd stood as if stuck in slopping mud. Mare took the first steps over the fallen wires and led the herd into the green pasture. It would be more horsey to have them jump the fallen wires, lifting their legs up high like children might do if they were jumping something frightening. They are skittish, athletic animals after all. They ate well that evening.

The horses' coats filled in, and Calico got pregnant, Why just Calico? If the herd has enough to eat you'd expect the stallion to serve all his mares while Mare went on searching other fences. She tried the kick again on other posts, but they must have been made of stronger wood, and would not fall. The horses ignored Mare's ongoing attempts; the pasture she had liberated was enough to satisfy them.

Days passed, and because there was plenty, stray "Stray" is a weird word for horses. Do you mean loan wild horses, like fillies looking for a new herd to join, or escaped domestics? horses were welcomed into the herd. But soon the pasture was no longer as bountiful as before. When the herd had eaten the last of the lush flora they returned to Mare in her search for another opening in the fence. She chose the largest stallion Usually there is only one stallion per herd. There will be other males, such as juvenile colts, but other stallions would normally be chased off. A really big herd might have multiple stallions, but you've already described this herd as being pretty small, the father of Calico's foal, and led him to a post she thought was weaker than the others. His kick ripped the post from the dirt. The herd galloped into the now opened field. Mare nuzzled the stallion as Calico trotted by. The horse's gaze lingered on the zebra's affection towards her mate. This jealousy is a little weird given the normal one stallion:many mares set up. You need something more interesting to bring the conflict between Calico and Mare to life.

The herd now went along when Mare searched along the fence. Strays continued to join her. In one area they found a ranch where they liberated ten captive horses in a pen. Mare began pushing smaller horses Why smaller horses? Are you meaning to imply that they're younger? More nimble? Or perhaps more subservient to Mare? to go scout ahead to search for the weakest posts the stallions could easily topple. Mare's herd grew to sixty heads before she lost count.

One afternoon it was Calico's turn to scout, but she could not be found. Mare discovered her lounging under a willow. Calico nickered, and stood to meet Mare. She held her head up, standing at least one hand taller than the zebra, and stared down in defiance. Nickering is a friendly greeting and doesn't fit with staring someone down. She did not intend to follow a nonhorse, and turned her head away. Mare shook, and lowered her head. She turned to walk away. Calico let out a laughing snort. Mare pulled up her hind legs, and kicked Calico's head. Brutal. The horse writhed on the ground Why has she lain down?, screaming Horses don't scream when they're in pain why do people think this is a thing? as blood wept from her torn eye. The zebra walked away. Honestly a zebra kicking a horse in the head is really loving unlikely. Horses either get each other in the legs - a common way for legs to get broken - or in the body if they're really trying to nail each other. I guess it works story-wise but I found it a bit jarring. Having Mare boot her in the knee, causing long-term lameness, would have been more plausible.

Mare's herd expanded through the summer. She thought of the coming winter, and whether the areas she'd opened would provide, and how to maximize their yield. On one of her evening strolls to inspect the horses' work three saddlebred horses, with human riders, raced her down. The feral horses accompanying her ran, but the zebra froze. She was roped. She reared, and kicked, but the riders' bred and fed horses were too strong, and her struggle ended. Mare looked to where her stallions had fled and under an autumn-leaved poplar she saw a familiar white and brown mare watching. Calico turned her blind side to the zebra as the men led Mare away, back to the circus. Man, what a bitch. But I guess Mare did kick her in the eye. I think the biggest problem with this story is that it is really about Mare and Calico's relationship, but it doesn't bring this to life. But mostly bad and wrong horse facts.

:horse:

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


open xhallenge

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004




Folks, it's bread week. I baked the loaf you see above and I'm not sick of bread yet, so give me stories about crust, crumb, and sponge. The people who make it and the people who eat it. Other things that can conceivably connect back to the jumping-off point of "bread". Your stories, should rise, not unlike, the bread itself... And try not to make the words too sour, like the dough we love to eat...

I'm not going to give out types of bread or anything but if you toxx I'll give you a song I listened to while making and thinking about bread lately.

Sign-ups close Friday Midnight PST
Submissions close Sunday Midnight PST

You have 1500 words, the same as the number of calories in my delicious loaf (above)

Usual rules apply. No poetry, fanfic, Google docs, the other stuff you're not supposed to do

Judges
Me
Yoruichi
???

Bakers
Thranguy
Sitting Here
Fuschia tude
Flesnolk
NAGA LIU KANG
QuoProQuid
Ironic Twist
Simply Simon
a friendly penguin

Something Else fucked around with this message at 15:43 on May 9, 2020

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




In, :toxx:

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Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Sitting Here posted:

This is how Bret and Lorelai became tube worms:

Bret from organizational organization NO. Just, no. I suppose you think this is funny but what is actually does is declare to me that this is a story that is going to make fun of tedious bureaucractic bs and this is such a soft and obvious target that I am already mad at this story oh boy here we go swept onto the airy comunal coworking floor with an edict. “Medial. Product. Tivity,” he said, smacking his fist on his open palm with every syllable. “First quarter has been very lateral, productivity-wise. Exceptionally lateral. Thanks to your hard work, the lateral bar has been raised.” Thank you Mr Nonsense man for this nonsense opening.

He held up a finger, shushing the already silent room, a showman’s smirk on his face. Lorelai was overly conscious of the hum of the air conditioner, the dry chill in her nostrils.

“Productivity is like a staircase,” Bret continued. “Lateral periods—that’s where you put your feet. You have to have something to set your feet on before you can climb.” He made a wide, flat gesture, as though he were sweeping paperwork off a desk.

It was impossible to look away from Bret when he got like this. Some days Lorelai found herself hoping that he would descend into the coworking space with one of his logistical action plans, just so she could shudder with the unbearable fremdscham, that delicious just-dislodged-a-big-booger feeling of watching someone make an rear end of themselves.

“Medial! Productivity!” he boomed, making a few team members jump. “Periods of medial productivity are like the uppy-go bits of the staircase.”

The rest of the team nodded their heads and muttered affirmatively amongst themselves.

”The uppy-go bits. That makes sense to me.”

“This is exactly what I’ve been saying. We’ve been on the steppy-foot bit for too long. What we need is an uppy-go strategy.
Ok so "uppy-go" and "steppy-foot" are funny sounding words but all this oh no Lorelai's colleagues are all just boring drones is just trite. I mean, what a cow.

The contempt Lorelai felt for everyone and everything in that office was orgasmic. And yet she heard herself say, as if compelled by some hypnotist’s trick: “Our team is primed for an uppy-go approach to productivity.”

She felt her face making a poo poo-eating grin and forced it into a frown. It was a slow, uncomfortable process, like unsticking a cramped foot at bedtime. She hated what the office made her into—a begrudging fecal microbe in the guts of corporate megafauna. First world problems, Lorelai.

“Since we’re all very excited about this strategy pivot,” Bret said, “I thought we could allocate today for a little competitive teamwork exercise.” Yay Bret, what a nice thing to do for your team. Bret probably lies awake at night worrying about how to make his team feel good about their jobs, because he cares.

He swept off the coworking floor as imperiously as he’d come in, and the team all fell into his wake. Lorelai went last, silently fuming at her reflexive compliance.

.

The office was three blocks from the Santa Cruz Beach; Lorelai and the others followed Bret there, a long line of cautiously optimistic ducklings.

Once the whole team was arrayed on the sand, the nature of the exercise was revealed: groups of five team members would each receive a bucket of long, thick, multicolored straws and one roll of Scotch tape. Using these materials, the teams of team members would attempt to craft the tallest, sturdiest, most uppy-goest staircase possible in the two remaining hours of the workday. So this job that Lorelai hates so much involves 2 hour trips to the beach to play with straws? I agree, yes that sounds awful, just awful.

“Remember, this is a teamwork exercise!” Bret called over the wind, which gleefully whipped his tie up and over his shoulder. “And everyone here is competing to be the hardest teamworker!” He flattened the tie against his chest, held it there with one hand. “Performance reviews to follow!”

As soon as Lorelai’s team got to work, it became clear that Estelle from streamlining and optimization styled herself a contender for hardest teamworker.

“I think we should go as vertical as possible,” Estelle said. “Let’s think medially. Picture this: an infinitely tall staircase, with only one step.” Good on you for trying to make the best of a daft situation, Estelle.

Just as Lorelai opened her mouth to point out the finite number of straws at their disposal, the wind made off with several of those straws, twirling and dancing them up the beach. She knew an out when she saw one and trotted off after them, slow enough that the wind kept them just a little out of reach.

“That’s great,” Estelle called after her. “You can be our straw-getter. Straw-getting is a key role!”

Of course, with Lorelai mostly out of the way, Estelle only had to compete with three other people for the title of hardest teamworker, but Lorelai didn’t mind. Estelle was terrible at being a teammate, but very good at doing things that looked like good teamwork, and the other three were shades of the same.

The straws came to rest against a leg of driftwood, neon pink and green plastic contrasting with bone-white wood. Lorelai halted, a portentous knot in her stomach. The straws looked clumsy and inelegant compared to the diverse texture of the sand, the gouges and knots in the weathered wood. A seagull preened itself nearby, oblivious and indifferent to the qualities of uppy-go and teamworkmanship.

This was the real world, Lorelai decided. Chaotic and scattered about, irregular and unintentional. And there she was, a big neon-pink plastic straw jutting out of the beach. A teammate. A straw-getter. A lateral-moving, medial-minded uppy-go strategist. She felt all the hyper-specific descriptors enclosing her like layers of rigid keratin, thick and hard as an overgrown toenail.

“Hey teamarooni,” Bret said from behind her. “You working on a top secret strategy over here?”

She turned to face him, wobbling a little in the sand. “No, Bret, I’m not.”

He made a face like a perplexed golden retriever. “I’ll bet your team sure wishes you were over there helping out.” Honestly Bret sounds like he's trying really hard to be a good manager, why can't Lorelai cut the dude some slack?

Lorelai glanced back at the activity area. Estelle, it seemed, had annexed all the other teams, and appeared to be overseeing the construction of one enormous mono-stair. A few beachgoers had stopped to video the process with their phones. Viewed from afar, the whole tableau looked like a scene from an extraterrestrial theater production—something inscrutable and nonsensical. OH NO WHAT A TERRIBLE DAY IN THE OFFICE YOU WENT TO THE BEACH AND MADE A SCULPTURE OH NO OH DEAR HOW YOU MUST HAVE SUFFERED

“I don’t think I’m going to help them out, actually,” Lorelai said. “I think I’m going to walk to the bottom of the bay and become a tube worm instead. WHY? Why does she suddenly want to be a tube worm? What even is a tube worm? This behaviour puts Lorelai one rank below horses in the hierarchy of stupid creatures. At least it wasn't Freckles' fault that he thought of ants and died. Poor Lorelai, thought about doing a little bit of easy work and became a tube worm. What the actual gently caress. I’ll live in the dark and never think about anything again.”

Bret’s eyes went wide. “I don’t think that’s allowed,” He said, then frowned. “Is it allowed?”

“It should be,” Lorelai said. “Maybe if I do it, they’ll have to ease up restrictions.”

“But—” Bret gestured back at the mono-stair tableau. “Wouldn’t that be a little self-oriented of you? You’re a major team resource.”

“I’ll be a tube worm. I won’t have a self.” This is rude to tube worms.

Lorelai let Bret grapple with that one and turned to face the bay, where the wind teased little white caps out of the waves. The keratin layers of labels she wore on her soul had become too heavy to carry, so now she was going to shed them. She took a step toward the water, then another, then another, already feeling a lightness, a spaciousness between her molecules.

“Wait,” Bret called after her. “I want to be a tube worm, too.” WHY?

Lorelai faltered mid-step, covered it up by pivoting around to face Bret again.

He shuffled toward her, kicking up sand with his loafers as he went. “Yeah,” he said defiantly, reading the surprise on her face. “Do you know what it’s like to have a whole room of people agree with you just because they think it’ll help them get ahead? Even when you know you’re saying nothing at all? I’ll bet tube worms don’t have that problem.” See? Have a little bit more sympathy for loving middle managers, they're just as much cogs as everyone else.

Lorelai knew; she’d been one of those people right up until the wind had carried the plastic straws up the beach. She chewed her lip, supposing that if she were a tube worm, it wouldn’t much matter whether Bret was one, too.

“Alright,” she said. “We can go together.

Everyone on the beach was so enamored by Estelle’s mono-stair project that Bret and Lorelai slipped unnoticed into the waves, shedding their skin in curling whisps as they went, leaving toenails of ego bobbing on the surface as they vanished.

A little while later, a whale carcass bloomed with strings like living boogers: bone-eating worms doing the blue collar work of eating the ocean’s refuse, untroubled by the absurdities beyond the shoreline. Great, yes, well done Lorelai, you've solved everything. You have successfully shed the complexities of adulthood for the simplicity of being a living booger killing a whale. Good for you.

This story makes no sense, has nothing to do with a circus or a train wreck, except that it is itself a train wreck I guess idk.

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