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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

ok song me

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Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


writers should not be afraid of thunderdome
THUNDERDOME SHOULD BE AFRAID OF WRITERS


crabrock posted:

ok song me

Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Relax

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


writers should not be afraid of thunderdome
THUNDERDOME SHOULD BE AFRAID OF WRITERS


One day left to sign up.


Also still in need of cojudges.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


writers should not be afraid of thunderdome
THUNDERDOME SHOULD BE AFRAID OF WRITERS


Signups are closed. Both cojudge spots are still open.

AlmightyDerelict
Jun 14, 2020

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020


Just Enough
By: AlmightyDerelict
Flash prompt: Semisonic – Closing time.
1890 words

Inside the Great Hall, the townsfolk were already feasting and drinking their fill, while songs of merrymaking filled the chamber. Dorian had barely entered the room when Myrtle nearly crashed into him while carrying a tray of goblets and wine carafes.

“Sorry Dorian!” she cooed in alarm. “Would you like a cup of wine?”

“Of course, wouldn’t want Lord Albrand to glimpse my hand without a drink tonight!” he replied sheepishly.

Myrtle gave a faint smile and carefully poured the wine into a large silver goblet.

“Don’t be so nervous, you should be merry this festival. I know your parents would be very proud of you,” she said softly as she handed him the cup.

No sooner had Dorian’s fingers gripped the goblet than a voice like thunder split through the commotion of cheer.

“Dorian my good lad!” laughed Lord Albrand as he jumped from his seat.

The hall came to a sudden hush as Myrtle scurried away from Dorian.

“Late to the celebrations as usual I see!” the lord jested. “Were you so busy collecting your herbs that you forgot you were to sit at my table as an honored guest tonight?”

“No my lord, I apologize for my continued tardiness,” Dorian said, giving a low bow.

“Come now, there’s no need to be so ceremonious. Please, take up a seat here at my table; and Myrtle be sure that this man is not left without fine drink in his cup!” He commanded.

Dorian carefully walked through the disapproving glares and glances of the crowd, making his way to the royal table. To his dismay he realized that the only seat yet to be taken was next to Ophelia, the lord’s only daughter. She straightened her posture excitedly and kept her gaze fixed on Dorian as he sat down at the table.

“To those of you amongst us that remain unaware, let this glorious truth be known far and wide: never again will the women of our humble territory be plagued by the mysterious illness of clay-skin!” the lord decreed.

The crowd erupted with raucous applause.

“This victory could not have been obtained without the great curiosity and ingenuity of the young man sitting at my table tonight. Through years of hard work, he has discovered that the seeds of the rare mountain flower Lufubloom were the key to curing this fatal affliction!”

The people began to murmur as they humbly clapped.

“In the recent weeks I’ve marveled at the great irony that women would be saved from a slow and dreary death by the same substance which wives had been giving their husbands for centuries to save themselves from dull and boring sex!” He chuckled boyishly. “So tonight, let us raise our cups high, to Dorian, may all those who likened him to his father rue this night!”

“To Dorian!” everyone repeated, and everyone drank.

***

As the festivities raged on into the night, Lord Albrand was the first to lead the people in dancing around the fire outside the great hall. Many people joined in, though few remained inside to relish in relative peace.

“Oh, come now Dorian, finish your drink already!” Ophelia griped. “It’s probably the happiest night of your life and still you are as stiff as a log.”

“I’m sorry Ophelia, I am not use to being given such attention and high praise,” Dorian replied as he struggled to finish his drink.

Lady Ophelia,” she corrected, before letting out a theatrical gasp. “I had nearly forgot! I have just the thing to rid you of your nerves!”

Ophelia sprang from her chair and raced through the door behind the royal table, within minutes she returned with a small clay jug.

“Here, you must try this wine from the great grass sea; trust me, it can calm even the deepest anxieties.”

She clumsily poured the drink into their respective cups. Dorian raised his cup, toasting awkwardly, and then began to drink. Ophelia brought her hand to the bottom of his goblet, forcing him to drink the cups contents entirely while she did the same.

Dorian began coughing in a fit - the drink was horribly bitter yet had a familiar metallic flavor.

“O-Ophelia,” Dorian stammered “That was just wine that I drank, r-right?”

“It’s Lady Ophelia, Dorian,” she giggled. “And well, it may have had something a little more fun in there too.”

Dorian looked into Ophelia’s eyes, as he had feared, the whites of her eyes were beginning to turn a dull purple. His heart began to race, it was worse than when he would panic, he could feel his palms begin to sweat and his mouth beginning to salivate. The physically stimulating effects of Lufubloom was something completely foreign to him.

“Your eyes are looking especially beautiful tonight Dorian, but I think if anyone else sees them they might become concerned and get the wrong idea.”

Ophelia grabbed Dorian by the wrist and led him down a dimly lit corridor to a room away from the hall. Upon realizing the room was a bedchamber, Dorian snapped to his senses and remembered his place in the village, the burden he carried.

“Lady Ophelia, no I can’t!” he protested.

“I think you can Dorian, and I know you want to, you’ve always been so timid and unassuming, but you don’t have to pretend now, lets just give it up already.”

Her arms wrapped around him as she tried to stand on her toes to reach his face with her lips. But Dorian pushed her away.

“Don’t Ophelia, you know I can’t,” he said with greater frustration.

“It’s because of that bitch half-sister of yours isn’t it! You’ve always liked her more than me, even though I was prettier and more ladylike than her!” she sobbed. “You can’t be with Myrtle!”


Dorian moved to the door and opened it, as he entered the corridor Ophelia caught him at the wrist again.

“If you walk away from me right now, I’ll make sure you pay! You will never be accepted by this village ever!” She barked at him with glaring eyes.

Then the sound of metal clanging rung through the hallway, both Dorian and Ophelia looked down the hallway and spotted a silver goblet on the floor, as well as Myrtle running back to the great hall, her hand over her mouth.

Dorian freed himself from Ophelia’s grasp, then shut the door in her face and sprinted to the Great Hall. He rapidly walked past the royal table and the few packs of people left inside. Myrtle was nowhere to be seen. He crept past the people partying outside and headed home, no one saw his tear-filled eyes.

***

Dorian was lying awake in bed when he heard knocking at his door. He was shocked to find that it was two soldiers who he knew to be the lord’s men. The men quickly tackled Dorian to the ground and tied his hands behind his back.

The men brought him to his knees before Lord Albrand in the Great Hall and pressed down hard on his head and shoulders, forcing him to bow.

“To think you were my honored guest, someone who I was proud to champion as a good man, nothing like his father,” the lord said.

“My lord I swear I didn’t surprise sex—” Dorian cried.

“Silence!” the lords voice boomed through the hall “bring in the girl.”

Myrtle was brought to her knees beside Dorian, her hands were bound, a look of terror and panic on her face.

“My daughter has told me in vivid detail about what you did Dorian, and how Myrtle stood watch as you defiled her. As everyone here can plainly see the purple hue still present in your eyes, I’m inclined to believe her. If I were my father, you both would be killed right now,” he somberly stated.

“But I cannot ignore all you have done for this community Dorian, and so I begged my daughter to give you one chance at redemption, and she has charitably decided the parameters of that redemption,” he paused for a moment and let out a deep sigh.

“You, Dorian, will find where the sun rests when it sets beneath the western horizon, and come back to this village to reveal what you’ve found before the conclusion of next year’s spring festival. Should you fail to return, Myrtle will be put to death in your stead.”

“Now take them both out of my sight,” The lord turned his back as they both were dragged from the hall.

Myrtle called out to Dorian, and him to her.

***

Dorian travelled west every day, he watched every sunset and grew more hopeless each time. With a heavy heart, after nearly six difficult months of walking, he began his journey back to the village. He arrived late in the evening, on the first night of the festival, and was taken immediately to the dungeon.

Myrtle was asleep when Dorian was put into the cell across from her, and though he wanted to wake her and speak to her, he didn’t exactly know how to tell her that he had failed. He sat there for hours in silence until he heard thunderous shouting from upstairs.

“And don’t you boys come back until the sun comes up, I’m going to give these two a piece of my mind one last time!” Lord Albrand yelled as he came down the stairs.

Myrtle awoke and instantly noticed Dorian in his cell, and the Lord stumbling closer.

“Well, if it isn’t the rapist. Returned to face judgement, have we? Or were you successful?” He asked.

Dorian shook his head with his eyes hung to the floor, so myrtle curled into a ball and started to cry.

“Can’t really blame yourself for failing to achieve the impossible lad,” The lord said encouragingly. “And I may be a fool, but I am wise enough to know that rapists don’t return just to die in their co-conspirator’s stead.”

Dorian looked up to meet the lord’s blue eyes.

“You know sometimes, justice… well, it doesn’t feel fair at all. For instance, when I saw my father take the miller’s fiancé into his bedchamber all those years ago, then executed your father for surprise sex after she became visibly pregnant… I’ve always known that wasn’t justice,” Albrand explained.

The lord grinned widely with great satisfaction. Dorian’s eyes turned to Myrtle’s; she was staring back into his, he never noticed her eyes were so blue.

Lord Albrand opened both of their cells and they embraced each other for what felt like a long time.

“My daughter would argue inexorably that you both should be killed for failing to meet her demands, and the people are already against you,” the lord looked down. “I wish I could do more for the son of an innocent man and my half-sister, but freedom is the most I can give.”

Dorian and Myrtle locked the lord in a cell, and they all laughed at how silly he was going to look when he told everyone how he had clumsily let the prisoners get the best of him. He told them that was his redemption.

They left the village immediately, never letting go of each other’s hand. Where they were going, neither of them knew. But wherever it was, it was just enough.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018


A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE WONDERING WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO IF I DIDN'T WIN ANYTHING

I GUESS WE'LL NEVER KNOW




Grrrat-gat!
Saucy bomaye!


Mind Rebel

1769 words, Headstrong by Trapt

As Tyler furiously grabs the lamp on the bedside table, Judy realizes that this can't be happening, because it's already happened.

Tyler will throw the lamp at her and her arms and chest will bleed and he'll be nice and sober-sounding when the cops arrive and as she sprawls sobbing on the carpet the cops will joke about how it isn't their job to solve lovers' quarrels. 

This was years ago, but she's here now, and the more she concentrates on the moment, the more it feels like deja vu on deja vu. This isn't the first time she's re-experienced this, nor the second nor hundredth, but it may just be the first time she understands that it can't be real. So as the lamp hurtles towards her, she does what she felt somehow guilty about not doing the first time, and she ducks.

It feels like pushing through an invisible barrier. The air shatters around her as she breaks from the destined path. It is though the world is glitching. The heavy metal posters on the wall flicker in and out of existence, and the lamp cannot decide whether it's still on the table, in Tyler's hand, or shattered on the dingy carpet. Judy runs toward the door, and

she's driving away from the bar ten beers deep because she just heard that Tyler was cheating on her and she's gonna catch that rear end in a top hat in the act and laugh at the stupid look on his dumb face and no no no this isn't real Judy you're dreaming wake up wake up and 

something appears in the passenger's seat. It looks just like Judy. It wears a neon dress that matches its manufactured smile.

hi! says the other judy. i'm judy.

Judy looks away from the road to give her doppelganger a puzzled look. "No, I'm Judy."

yes you are, it says, as the car veers off the road. a few months ago, you attempted suicide, and thus, an experimental operation was performed to cure your depression. this was done by constructing me inside a computer, then giving me your memories and identity. i was then put in charge of the regions of this brain responsible for motor functions and sensory recognition, with certain safeguards to prevent unhappiness. the existing consciousness, you, could not be deleted outright--the technology's not quite there yet--so i had to stick you here in the memories that i, as a happy judy, don't choose to recall very often.

i assure you that everything's fine, and that our life is going ok. my relationship with our parents and friends is better than ever. in order to make sure that our life continues to go so well, i must ask that you refrain from altering any more of our memories. i need you to let the events play out as they originally happened.

"You mean, continually live out the worst things that ever happened to me?" says Judy. "Absolutely not."

i understand your frustration. however, the existence of a happy judy relies on your continued cooperation. now, if you'll excuse me, the awesome sex i'm having with our boyfriend requires my focused attention. goodbye.

Other-judy vanishes in a puff of smoky light, and now Judy's hanging from her seatbelt in the driver's seat of the flipped-over Saturn and

why is this guy screaming at Dad and why did he knock off Dad's kippah and now he's saying bad words at me and NO NO NO WAKE UP.

Judy doesn't know how long she's been out this time. The neo-Nazi is still screaming at her but it's longer than it was in real life; he's just screaming lazy anti-Semitic slurs on an infinite loop.

"Shut up," she says to give herself a moment to think, and guess what, he does. That's how Judy figures out she doesn't just live in traumatic memories; she can control them, too.

She jumps around from memory to memory, testing the limits of her abilities. Slowly, she learns how to bring things into memories they don't belong in. She trains the people who terrorized her in life to fight for her in her mind. Sometimes Other-Judy comes down for an inspection or to grab something it needs, so Real-Judy lets herself get hit with the lamp like a good girl. But Judy slowly plots her revenge against the robot that stole her life. At first, she cannot access happy memories, or even think of them, but eventually she learns to make a bridge to just one. The childhood traumas often have a T-shirt that reads "SUE" next to a T-Rex skeleton. The shirt only appears after she turns seven, which means she must have gotten it on her seventh birthday. And where is Sue the T-Rex? She's in

the Field Museum in Chicago, in the big room with all the dinosaurs. Well, Sue's in the main hall, but Judy's in the dinosaur room, feeling the first swells of joy in however long she's been here. A gaggle of children is running around the monsters' tombyard wild-eyed and cake-drunk. One familiar little girl wears a dinosaur party hat.

The birthday girl turns toward Judy. you're not supposed to be here. this is a happy memory. please return to the bad memories.

"No," says Judy. "This isn't your memory, it's mine. You were never a little girl having a birthday party at a science museum, I was."

why are you so upset about living in traumatic memories? it's all you ever did when you were in charge anyhow, says Other-judy. She turns towards Judy's mother, who's herding stray seven-year olds back to the party. mother! this woman is being creepy to me!

Judy's mother rushes over. "Excuse me, that is something I will not stand for. Didn't anybody teach you that it's rude to pedophile a girl on her own birthday? I'm going to need to ask you to leave!"

A museum security guard approaches. "Hi, I'm a nice security guard man, I keep kids safe and make sure nobody steals the dinosaur bones. Pedophiling is against the rules, please come with me to jail, ma'am, ma'am is the fancy word for 'woman.'"

you heard them, says little Other-judy. you need to leave. The security guard grabs Judy by her wrists. 

"Let me go!" Judy shouts.

The upside-down Saturn bursts through a window and crash-lands next to the diplodocus. The door pops open, and out crawls Tyler, clutching his lamp.

"Excuse me, sir!" says the security guard. "Driving an upside-down car through the window of the Field Museum is very unsafe!"

The security guard eats a faceful of lamp and Judy runs free. She focuses on the painful memories she's been forced to live over and over again, and one by one, they manifest on the dinosaur-room floor. The kiddy partygoers scream and flee as the hall fills with abusive exes, creepy photographers, and expanding flames. The trauma-things wreak havoc on the hall, toppling dinosaurs onto tourists and attacking those who flee. The rest of Other-judy's imagined museum security rushes to the scene, but the nice men are quickly dispatched by Judy's army of horrors.

But Other-judy rallies its happy defense. Roller coasters come careening through the walls, wide-jawed firefighters axe their way through college almost-rapists, and Judy's favorite rabbi swings a big Torah scroll like a baseball bat at Tyler. 

The evil forces of goodness and joy, victorious, surround the defeated Judy. Other-judy, still disguised as Judy on her seventh birthday, emerges from the crowd.

you stress me out, and i was programmed not to feel stress, so congratulations, i guess. if i could kill you, i would have done so already, obviously, so here's what i'm gonna do. i'm gonna call the electromental health clinic, they can scramble you up a bit so that you can stay in the bad memories where you belong and buy me a bit of time before they figure out how to delete you from my brain permanently. hot cruise ship guy, please escort parasite-Judy to the memory of finding grandma's body, and make sure she stays there.

"Of course, bella," says the cute Italian that Judy made out with in eighth grade.

As Cruise Ship Hotty drags Judy away from the battlefield, she remembers one trauma that Other-judy has not yet destroyed. It's a trauma Judy never experienced, but one she was born with, a sort of despair and anguish that was pressed on her since she was a child until it became a constant dread. She concentrates on the fear, hoping she can conjure something that she didn't live through but was forced to remember anyways.

Hundreds of jackbooted, red-armbanded soldiers materialize in the dinosaur hall.

what? says Other-judy. is that…

Judy shouts two words she never thought she'd use earnestly: "NAZIS, ATTACK!" 

Other-judy's legion of nice folk know it's over as soon as the gunfire begins. Most begin to scatter as the stormtroopers advance, some disappearing to return to their original memories. Judy's mother, the rabbi, and Cruise Ship Hotty vanish from the hall. Other-judy flickers, desperately seeking to return to the outside world, but the inner battle is too intense to allow for such a retreat. Judy grabs Other-judy by its shirt collar and hoists it into the air.

you're going to ruin your life again, spits Other-judy.

"Maybe," says Judy. "But it's my life to ruin. I could force you to live in the hell memories like you did to me, and I would like to, but you'd rebel; you have too much of me in you. So I'll be nice. I'll give you a happy memory."

can I have the bat mitzvah?

"Dream on. I'll give you the time my team won pub trivia. Not going any higher. Take it or leave it."

Other-judy considers for a moment, and then nods. Judy, finally free to visit all the memories her mind has, brings Other-judy to the pub herself.

Then  she focuses on getting outside her brain and everything vanishes away. Judy finds herself in a long black hallway. She follows a speck of light far far away, until gradually she can see it's actually two lights, no, two tiny windows to a bright place. She approaches them, and then, for the first time in many months, she looks out her own eyes.

Ceighk
May 27, 2013


t h u n d e r d o m e
We can talk about it
Or we could get gully, I'll size up your body
And put some white chalk around it


For a while after the aliens came and started sucking everyone up into their little space ships there was a tremendous panic, but eventually it just became a thing that happened sometimes.

1466 words.
Song: 'I Ran' - A Flock of Seagulls.

For a while after the aliens came and started sucking everyone up into their little space ships there was a tremendous panic, but eventually it just became a thing that happened sometimes. At the beginning every street had a few people a day suctioned into the air and taken away forever. Then it died down to one or two a week, and then to just a couple every month.

Some Jesus people got on television claiming that the rapture had started, but we soon realised that our visitors were aliens of the archetypal variety. They zipped over our motorway junctions and industrial estates in silver space ships shaped like frisbees with domed roofs and tripedal landing gear (though they never landed), and they sucked you up in a big cone of yellow light, just how we had all expected that they would. Some people claimed to have seen them, and those who did said they had big grey heads with bulbous black eyes and little mouths.

There was a period when all the world’s governments spent lots of money doing things with fighter jets, bombers, nuclear warheads, scientific and/or diplomatic landing exercises, unusual radio frequencies, anthrax bombs, and so on, but none of it ever made a difference to the aliens and often it just made a mess. If there’s one word I’d like to associate with the aliens it would be “unperturbed”.

Sometimes the person who got sucked up was an important figure like the Prime Minister of Canada, but more often it was someone like Jo from the car wash, who was only important to me.

Although the Jesus people who believed that this was literally the rapture were no longer taken seriously, having been debated out of the public sphere by an uneasy alliance of popular scientists and photogenic theologians, in many ways they never left, as the secular public remained more or less in agreement with the core tenet of the Jesus people’s beliefs: that being sucked up by an alien never to return in one way or another represented a moral judgement made by the alien, a consequence of how the person sucked up had lived their life prior.

Even so, the finer points of this assumption remained up for debate. One group closely aligned with the Jesus people believed that the aliens were here to reward the virtuous for the good things they had done, and that we should live virtuous lives to increase our chances of being sucked up to an extraterrestrial paradise. They were referred to as Pseudo-Rapturists by marketing departments and in the academic literature.

The other main group, which was only slightly larger than the first, believed that getting sucked up by an alien was a terrible thing that only happened to terrible people. They were known as the Retributionists.

Between them these two groups contained about 65% of the global population. Although the exact balance of demographics varied through different regions due to culture and other specifics, it was to a remarkably small degree. At a large enough scale, everywhere was about the same.

I think for a lot of people which camp they landed in depended on who got sucked up first out of the people they knew. When it happened to my step dad, I found quick kinship with the Retributionists and thanked the aliens for taking him away. I remember coming home to my mum and seeing her relieved, as if a heavy weight had been sucked up with him.

That night I got on my bike and pedalled out to Jo’s house. We lay on her trampoline with a bottle of gin I had taken from my step dad’s hidden cupboard. Gazing up between the stars to look for space ships, we laughed like I hadn’t in years.

She got sucked up a month and a half later and after that I wasn’t so sure.

A lot of people, when presented with conflicting information, would try to explain to themselves why it fit in with what they already believed, even if it didn’t feel like it should. My mum only met Jo in the weeks after my step-dad was taken, but they got along well, and that made me happy. But when Jo got sucked up, my mum was quick to start casting aspersions.

I don’t believe Jo was a saint but I know she was a better person than me.

The reason for this is that I was with Jo when the cone of yellow light shot through a cloud and engulfed her and lifted her a centimetre off the ground. She reached out to me. She was terrified. So was I. I didn’t move to take her hand, and then she was gone. I knew then that if the aliens were taking away bad people I would have just sealed my fate.

Among those who were neither Retributionists or (Pseudo-)Rapturists, one of the most striking groups was the Absurdists, who thought this was all a huge cosmic joke. There was an Absurdist group at my college, led by a philosophy lecturer who would smoke rolled cigarettes out the window when other staff members weren’t around. In the numbness that immediately followed Jo’s departure, the detachment of the Absurdists felt like a balm.

As time went on, it lost its appeal. I felt like I wanted to be an Absurdist more than I was sincerely able to, so I stopped pretending. They mocked the self-assurance of mainstream thinkers, but in many ways they were no different. I don’t think they understood that everyone was grieving in their own way. If any of them had family who had been sucked up, they would either not discuss it or pretend they didn’t care. For as much as they talked up the cosmic inexplicability of it all, they clearly wanted to feel in on the joke.

As I grew detached from the Absurdists at college, I began to realise I was harbouring an agenda of my own. I had failed Jo before and had to make it right. I needed to get an alien to take me to her.

There were three groups whose desire to get sucked up by an alien aligned with my own. Most prominently, the Pseudo-Rapturists believed that you would get sucked up if you lived a virtuous life. However I knew from my step dad that this was not the case, and it made me sick to hear his name in their mouths.

Next, the Left Behind were people in my position, who had lost loved ones and wanted to be reunited with them. I went to one of their support groups but the atmosphere was maudlin.

In the end I fell in with the Fetishists, who didn’t claim to know what was happening but found it hot, and were desperate for the aliens to take them wherever it was people were going. Everyone else hated the Fetishists but I didn’t care. After the Absurdists and the Left Behind, they were a breath of fresh air.

There were less and less people now, and many of the cities were deserted. Seven of us would drive through the ghost towns in a mint green campervan, siphoning petrol and looking for yellow lights on the horizon. Whenever we saw something, I would slip off while the others had their fun. They knew I wasn’t along for the same reasons they were but they looked after me all the same.

It took around three years for 90% of the world’s population to get sucked up, and in that time a lot of things changed. Since most people believed the aliens were the only real arbitrators of right and wrong, legal systems became obsolete. And since no one felt like they had any agency, narrative fiction went out of fashion, replaced by meditative poems and lyric essays. Everyone’s story ended the same way, but for some it took longer than others.

When everyone else from the campervan had been taken I started spending a lot of time with animals. Cows were never abducted - or mutilated, for that matter - and I would lie against them to feel the warmth of other bodies, making sure to leave their gates open so they could find greener pastures once the humans were gone. It became sort of a mission to free as many animals as I could. When I slept among them I would dream of my mum and my step dad but mostly Jo and the look on her face when I didn’t grab her hand.

Sometimes I would stand up on a cliffside and scream into the night: “Why haven’t you taken me, aliens, why have you left me to die here alone all by myself?”

But I never got a response.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010


big enough
for the both of us





Late Wishes
1816/1895 words
Prompt: The Toadies - Possum Kingdom

Cutting apart a human body is harder than people think. There’s all these sinews and tissues you never consider, and they bring insufficient tools, and the result is just a mess.

Makes it so much harder to put them back together.

The spirits flittering above the lake gave Zach some company and ghostly light with his thankless task. He whistled to himself as he assembled the rotten contents of the burlap sack he’d dragged up from the cloudy, algae-saturated shallows of the reservoir.

Someone should raise a stink about the quality of their drinking water. This can’t be healthy…

Over his shoulder, one specific spirit lingered the most, the one who’d drawn him here. She was almost fully-formed, a human soul among all the animals and plants that idled here a bit after their death before eventually passing on. But she remained weighed down by what had been done to her.

Zach would give her the chance to lift herself out of this misery. He’d finally found the left leg, made easier by the flesh sloughing off completely to reveal the bone. The corpse was complete, laid out in the afternoon sun, slowly dissolving into the lonely shore.

The woman’s face was now completely in focus for him, a plain girl in her late teens with overexpressed freckles and ears imagined to big, her slightly warped self-image shaping her soul as it showed itself to him. She looked on in curious wonder as he conducted a tornado of souls around her.

Zack always dreaded this part the most. He was by now used to the mental strain of channeling the spirit energy around him, of grasping the birds and frogs and mosquitos and flowers that saturated the air, and spinning their severed threads into a rope to wrap around his target, the stranded human ghosts. On his fingertips, the recently deceased danced to his rhythm and assembled to do his bidding with ease.

No, his issue was that the next step still required physical contact.

I really gotta find a way around that.

Zach reluctantly peeled off his gloves, took a deep breath through his mouth and touched the corpse’s temples. Under his grasp, the swollen necrotic skin shifted, and he touched a bit of skull through the layers of rot. He swallowed hard, and focused his attention on the spiritual world instead.

The victim’s soul was enveloped in his tornado now. She seemed more curious than distressed.

Wouldn’t expect many issues from someone looking so normal in death.

With disgust, he thought back on some people who had turned themselves into banshees, specters, phantoms or worse.

Zach increased the force of the soul tornado, and directed it like a funnel down into the head between his hands. The many, many threads he’d woven from the reservoir’s dearly departed did their magic. Cell by ruptured cell, they grabbed the skull’s bacteria- and mold-digested contents and brought them back to a semblance of life. Held together by so many spiritual strings, a crude facsimile of an actual living brain, but just enough to allow the human soul to accept it as a vessel.

The funnel emptied its contents fully. She was back in her body, sorry state as it might be in. Unconsciously, her soul took over, grasped some threads of her own, and sewed the limbs back together, undid the hack job her murderer had done. And there she was, all finished, a working instrument of her own vengeance!

He fervently wiped his hand on his trousers. “Hi, I’m Zach!”

Gently, he propped the reanimated corpse up on a rock so he could talk without looking down on her. He wiped his hands again.

“You’re probably still very disoriented, so please take your time to adjust. I recommend trying to find your voice at first, your throat, um…”

He rubbed his own awkwardly.

“…could be better, but with some effort, you’ll be able to get it working again. So…”

He made himself comfortable, while the corpse started a low moan.

“…you were murdered about a year ago, and I saw your soul still linger over your corpse, so I put the two back together.”

Zach paused to study his talented fingertips. Her gargling became a little more pronounced.

“It’s just a thing I can do. It’s by no means permanent – I’m sorry, total resurrection is just not in the cards – but I can keep you together until you’ve resolved your issues. I presume you’re still mad about the whole getting killed and dismembered thing, for instance?”

“noooo”

He arced an eyebrow. “Do keep practicing, this came out wrong I think. Anyway, I’ve gotten good at this part as well. You can tell me when it happened and how – don’t worry if the details are quite gruesome, I’ve gotten over being squeamish – and if you don’t know, we’ll figure out together who did it. Then you can decide if we work on collecting evidence to finger them, or…”

Zach made a squeezing motion.

“…you ‘finger’ ‘em yourself.”

“No!”

That sounded pretty well-articulated.

“Excuse me?”

She lifted an arm that left half its flesh behind on the ground, and held up her hand in protest.

“I don’t care about that.”

Zach scooted over and helpfully lifted some of the decayed muscle back up, spun a few threads to reattach it. “It’s fine if you don’t want to kill, though I assure you there’s no higher power that actively cares. But we can get ‘em locked away.”

“Don’t care about that either.”

He looked into her empty eye sockets in confusion. “You don’t want your killer brought to justice?”

She attempted to shake her head, but only managed to dislodge some goo from her shoulders.

“Doesn’t change a thing. He might be dead or happily married in another state, either way I’m a corpse in a bag and a ghost or whatever haunting a lake.”

She seemed to study her hand.

“Or was, I guess. Name’s Amanda, by the way. Can I smoke like this? Do you have a smoke?”

“Afraid not to both. Amanda, it’s a difficult situation for you, that’s very normal, but please take some time to calm down.”

“Would be easier with a ciggy. The only thing I really missed, and you can’t give me even that?”

Zach sighed. This one’s more annoying than I had hoped for.

“I’m sorry. But revenge, I can give you that! Sweet justice!”

Suddenly, her arm jerked forward, and grabbed Zach by the shoulder. Her supernatural strength crushed him in an iron grip.

It’s always from bargaining to anger with these people. Of course, he was in no actual danger from his own zombie.

Curiously, Amanda’s voice, becoming firmer with each syllable, stayed even.

“Zach, I’m sure you think that this is very generous, but being made into a rotten meat puppet to carry out your revenge fantasies isn’t my idea of a good time.”

He realized that she had intended the shoulder grab as a gentle gesture. Sadly, he had given her a zombie body capable of killing any kind of murderer if need be. He let it slide.

“Amanda, this isn’t about my fantasies. I’m giving you a chance to let go.”

“I could let go whenever I want.”

She crossed her arms, making disturbingly wet sounds in the process. A few seconds passed.

“Except now I can’t I guess.”

Zach made an apologetic gesture. “Yeah, I’m keeping you in the physical. I’ll let you go once you’ve concluded your business here, I promise.”

“There’s no ‘business’ here, Zach!” Her voice was perfectly exasperated now, and she realized that, and started working on assembling some facial features to assist her expression. A wry smile was first.

“I’ve been quite content as one spirit dancing among others. As a kid, I’d always said my dream was being surrounded by animals, happy without a care in the world. Well, that’s what I had got here until you pulled me into…this.”

She gestured at the desiccation that was her. Zach wrinkled his brow.

“You were glad you got killed?”

With some effort, she managed a convincing shrug. “I’ve made my peace, and then some. That’s the only justice I need.”

“But there’s a murderer out there, running free, unpunished…”

“Zach.” She smiled a gentle smile as she got up in a shaky shamble. “This is your idea of justice. I’m not here to act out your dreams of killing murderers. You could do so much good with your talents, and you waste them on this eye-for-an-eye nonsense? Look at this!”

She closed an eye socket with a lid that hadn’t been there a minute ago, and when she opened it again, some white goo filled it. Another blink, and a retina had begun to come back.

“You make my dead soul capable of this. Imagine if you did this with a living one? You could heal so many sick people, wounded animals. The spirits will find their peace eventually, Zach. Care for the living.”

He rubbed his temples, realizing a little too late that he had forgotten to wipe his hands after the last time he touched Amanda.

Not going my way at all today.

“The living kill other living, Amanda. I’m the only one who can care for the dead.”

“Well, keep telling yourself that. This dead girl wants to go back to just that, so please honor my wishes.”

“At least tell me who…”

“Someone who didn’t honor my wishes, Zach.”

Her glare was piercing.

Did she form eyes just for this? I guess I’ll just have to wash my hands off this one.

“Alright, then…”

A rustling interrupted him. He shushed Amanda and peered through some bushes.

Further along the shore, a tall man dragged a woman towards a boathouse. She seemed heavily intoxicated, barely able to walk, and could only respond to his growled orders with whimpering.

Now isn’t that just convenient. Maybe there is something to faith after all.

Zach looked over at Amanda, who had joined him. Her eyes widened. Zach put an arm around her, the shirt was ruined anyway.

“You’re right, you know. Sometimes I feel like I bully my ‘clients’ into doing what I want, and I commend your detachment and calm. However…”

He pointed at the man and his drugged-up victim.

“…you’re one in a line of seven known disappeared women around here. This guy seem familiar?”

Amanda had repaired her lungs enough to manage a sigh.

“Guess you got me, Zach. I’ll avenge myself after all – to help her.”

She cracked her fingers, one of which fell off.

“I’ll be right back.”

She walked towards her murderer with surprising speed and balance.

She is right. I could do more.

Zach watched Amanda do the deed he’d brought her back for, wincing only a little.

Maybe she wants to stick around a little after this. Brainstorm. Over a shared cigarette?

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


no nuance for abusers

sparksbloom fucked around with this message at 15:37 on Jun 24, 2020

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

Hey, if some hillbilly comes up to me, I'm gonna lash him in the face, that's all.

[Best GM 2013-2015]


Used
Fiona Apple - Criminal
1,483 Words

Sitting on the lip of the founder’s statue in the town square, Seera stared daggers at her fellow townsmen as they exited the assembly hall.

Most faces were downturned as they hurried towards their homes, but those bold enough to look the girl in eyes did so only briefly, as Seera’s otherworldliness became more apparent with her outrage.

The already furious features of her face were made frightening by the hazy lavender glow of her amethyst-like irises.

“Cowards! Ingrates!” Seera called after the dispersing crowd.

The last person to exit the assembly hall, was a tall, regal looking woman whose every step appeared measured.

She did not look away from Seera, and instead crossed the square to stand face to face with the girl.

“What do you want? Is giving my life away not enough? What more can you take from me?”

“Enough of your tantrums, Seera. You were trained in the accords and know what the Auoko demands of any Una’ali who awaken to the gift.”

“He doesn’t have to know!”

“He would know.”

“Only if someone said something.”

“Someone will say something.”

“Not if you convinced them. You haven’t even tried! You conspire behind my back like I’m some child. Like I don’t have some say in this!”

“You are a child, and you do not. This is bigger than you, Seera. Do you think it doesn’t hurt me to have to turn you over to that man and his people? All of our lives are at stake. He will destroy this flotilla and the lives of everyone on it.”

Seera knew Janessa spoke truly. The Auoko would not hesitate to destroy a rebellious extension of his empire. However, the feelings of guilt that Seera had internalized over the years had left a growing rift between her and her stepmother.

“You just blame me for father’s death. That’s it isn’t it?”

“Seera… That’s not fair.”

“No. No, it isn’t. Yet, that’s what this is about isn’t it?”

“You’re out of line!” Janessa said, her poise crumbled beneath her trembling voice. Her own eyes began to glow then, trailing a dull amber light that diffused through the darkness in front of her.

“Your part in your father’s death has nothing to do with this.”

“Yet, you still consider me to have played a part in it.”

“Seera! This is not what this is about, and I’m not having this fight with you. Not today”

“Then what do you want?”

“Only to wish you well. Your friends here, the town as it is now… It will be many decades before we see one another again, and though you and I will hardly change, the worlds around us will.”

“Many decades? I’ll be an old woman. What about Duron? He had just asked me for my hand. No one has even begun to consider how we feel about this!”

“You will not be an old woman, Seera, and it suffices to say, that Duron is of no significance in this matter. Love is a freedom you won’t know for many years.”

The air surrounding the two women had become heavy with volatile energy that crackled and shimmered. As Seera began to protest, Janessa channeled that wild energy, creating a link between their minds.

An understanding that transcended what was possible with speech flooded their thoughts. Shared memories and emotions bridged the gap that had grown between them in an instant, but fears, truths and opinions best left unspoken had been shared as well.

The air was once again stilled, and they looked at each other with weary eyes drained of their awesomeness.

“You loved The Auoko? Did you ever love my father?”

“Of course, I loved your father. You know that I did, but… Now, you also understand what it’s like to love another and most importantly, what it will be like to love that man, despite what he will do to you.” Janessa said with an expression of pained longing that Seera hated she understood.

“The Auoko’s Intercessors will be here to retrieve you in the morning. Take the night to give your farewells, your belongings will have been packed by the time we arrive back at home.”

***

50 years later.

The Auoko’s study was a display of mind-blowing opulence. Something that Seera would have never even imagined possible.

A spacecraft that doubled as a library and collector’s trove. Digital archives, physical records, relics from thousands of years past, carefully preserved and guarded. There wasn’t a more complete source of information in the galaxy now that The Auoko had used his giftbearers to secure his victory over the inner systems.

What Seera had not expected was that she would be set to the task of librarian.

The Auoko stood at the center of the library as a holocoder recorded him speaking and gesturing in concatenations of languages and physical expressions. An encoded message.

Seera watched him, and he never failed to surprise her. He was very handsome and seemed sincerely humble. Something that Seera had not expected, but at the same time, she knew he was a tyrant in his own right.

Entire worlds subjugated by his order, generations of people manipulated into his control and use. He was only gentle when it suited him.

The Auoko caught Seera’s eyes and a slow spreading, warm smile took his face, making hers flush.

Seera turned back to her work grinning. She enjoyed it, even if she didn’t understand it, and she knew it was infinitely different than the terrible, destructive works her stepmother had performed for him.

In their merger those decades past, she learned that Janessa had made herself dispassionate out of necessity, or the atrocities she committed in the name of galactic unification would have driven her mad. The Auoko was unfazed by this of course.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of husbands, wives, lovers and partners from every crevice of the galaxy served as tools in his grand design, and Seera knew that she was nothing more than another tool in his kit. Still she doted on him.

While the Auoko appeared youthful, he was several centuries old. His unnatural command of the gift coupled with the gifts of those he’s used in the last several centuries have effectively made him immortal.

Yet, even after securing command of the galaxy, he worked tirelessly towards some ineffable goal.

Seera had gotten lost in cataloguing the unending volumes of treasure and information the Auoko had amassed and didn’t feel him coming up behind her.

Normally, it would be impossible for anyone to sneak up on her, the static of their thoughts always served as an indication if anyone got too close, but this was just a muted feeling with the Auoko. His thoughts too alien for her to fully comprehend. If she didn’t concentrate on pinpointing the Auoko, he was invisible to her.

His arms snaked around her waist under the folds of her tunic, and his fingertips slid over the soft skin of her belly until they locked into a hold.

Full lips pressed near her temple, then softly into her cheek. Seera tilted her head exposing her neck, and it wasn’t long before the Auoko’s lips trailed over her neck down onto her collarbone.

Then the tunic began to slide from her collarbone, and Seera’s hand caught the Auoko’s.

“Do you love me?’ she asked. A simple question, that she thought she would be past asking nearing seventy.

“I love what you do for me.” He replied with that same gentle smile, beneath demanding unyielding eyes, and he placed his hand back over hers until her grip softened and she gave into him.

***

80 years later.

Nearing one-hundred and fifty and not looking a day over twenty-five, Seera was more weary than old. She married after the Auoko left their dimension in search of his equal. His hold over her had finally been relinquished, but in those decades before his departure she never came any closer to understanding his mission, or the full extent of his power, but his use for her came to an end when he had mastered her abilities.

He offered her a permanent place on the ship since she had truly enjoyed the work, but Seera recalled her stepmother’s merger, and the feelings of isolation and loneliness that came with loving the Auoko and decided to set out on her own.

She had married a tele-miner from Venus, the strain of his work fragmented his psyche and left him outwardly vegetative, but Seera’s gift allowed them connection beyond his condition. He was truly gentle, and loved her very much, and she loved him, but the Auoko was never far from her thoughts.

When Seera’s husband had finally died, she understood the strange sensation of relief she felt from Janessa whenever she thought of her father during the merger. She was finally free from the guilt of loving another.

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


Ultra Carp

The Best Revenge
1251 words
Flash rule: OMC, "How Bizarre"

My rapist died two days ago. The news trickled in from a friend who'd forgotten to defriend him on Facebook, to murmurs of surprise but little reaction from the rest of that circle, and that was that. There weren't any details; the online obituary said he'd died "peacefully at home," which could mean anything from an embolism to an overdose. As soon as I read it, the angry little rodent in my hindbrain piped up with its hopes for a messy suicide, ugly and half-botched but just good enough to do the job: a mistargeted gunshot, maybe, or a sloppy noose that gave him some time to think. Fistfuls of Tylenol and days of regret. Maybe he'd tried a hammer, like he'd threatened once during one of our arguments. (My anger sustains itself on the scraps of those memories; I try not to feed it, but it has stockpiles.)

I've been waiting for two days for the news of his death to bring me peace, or any kind of real satisfaction, but I'm pretty sure it's not coming. After the initial wave of cruel fantasies, all I've been able to picture is the big Catholic funeral I'm sure is on the way. The only Catholic church I've ever been in is my grandparents' -- beautiful and airy, better than he deserves -- but I find myself picturing his open casket in that bright room, his sobbing mother leaning in to kiss his waxy lips. I think, helplessly, of the eulogy. None of those people will ever know what he did.

Almost nobody knows now, even of the people who knew him well enough to hate him. There was no police report, no paper trail, and what good would it do to tell anyone now? Would I really feel better? My anger tells me I should scream it from the rooftops, but it told me I'd be glad he's dead, and that's sure as hell not happening.

There's only one mercy, I realize: we've got a three-day weekend coming up. There's a chance to get my mind off this garbage.

I broach the topic after dinner on Friday night, just as my partner's turning on his after-work sports talk show. "Babe," I say, "I need a change of scenery. Road trip this weekend?"

He mutes the TV to look at me. He knows everything, all of my nasty little horror stories, and I think he can guess what my brain's been getting up to. I'm waiting for some kind of confirmation that he understands, and it comes at last, a lopsided smile.

"Sure," he says. "Let's do it."

***

The idea is so simple it's stupid: get on the road Saturday, driving until we find somewhere half-interesting or night falls; spend Sunday exploring wherever we end up; drive home Monday with our minds broadened, or at least amused. It isn't until we've been on the road an hour or so that I realize we may have overestimated the chance of finding something interesting within a day's drive west of Austin. Most of the scenery is flat, big-sky nothing; it's soothing, in its way, like those childhood road trips down endless aimless highway, where I didn't know where we were going and didn't care. When I'm not driving, I spend my time napping or watching the scenery for ranches, counting up cows.

For hours, the only places to stop are gas stations. Out here they're all mom-and-pop shacks, huge sprawling truck stops, or the weird hybrid near-supermarkets that always seem to have German bakeries and aisles full of jerky. One of them has a trophy atop a drink refrigerator, a gold-tone hen on a holographic plastic pedestal, with a plaque proclaiming them the county Fried Chicken Champions. I'm not fried-chicken hungry -- I haven't been more than candy-bar hungry in days -- but the trophy makes me wish I was. Maybe soon? Something inside me is start to feel lighter, less restricted, as though a serpent inside me is loosening its grip on my guts.

We drive into the afternoon, and we're closing in on Midland when we see the carnival. It's one of those pop-up things -- a handful of rides and tents set up in a strip-mall parking lot, cheap and chintzy and covered in brilliant LED lights. I'm captivated at the first sight of the Ferris wheel. I nudge my partner, but he's already switching lanes, heading for the exit. Sometimes I'm not quite sure I deserve him.

The carnival's perfect: busy enough to feel comfortable, but not packed, and loud and joyous without being overwhelming. Once I've got some tickets in hand, I start on the midway, just like I always did as a kid. There's the tiniest moment of old childhood guilt (my mother, hard-eyed, saying "just one play"), but it doesn't feel like a carnival without a cheap stuffed animal in hand. I let myself have one play of the "everyone's a winner!" grab-a-duck booth, and the neon orange duck I pick out somehow wins me a medium prize: a lime-green unicorn with a flat, piggy nose and a frizzy mane. I've just spent two dollars for ten cents' worth of polyester, but I reject the shame that's trying to rise up in me. The pig-unicorn is pitiful; the pig-unicorn is fantastic. I love it already.

By the time I find my partner again, he's most of the way through the line at the concessions. He ends up with a huge, overloaded funnel cake -- in other words, a funnel cake -- and I decide I'm hungry enough for a stuffed snow cone, soft-serve ice cream smothered in neon pink watermelon-flavored shaved ice. It's not the most meal-like option, but none of the savory ideas are very tempting right now. It's pretty much all fried things, mostly on sticks, save for a single sad and out-of-place-looking jar of pickled eggs sitting next to the register. God, pickled eggs! I realize I can't even think of them without thinking of my lovely ex's flirtation with home pickling.

It takes me a second to realize I'm thinking about my rapist -- thinking about him as my lovely ex, an idiot and not a predator, for the first time in a long time -- and it makes me remember he's dead. For the first time, it feels all right.

It feels all right because he's dead, and I'm not, and maybe that actually is enough. He's getting the formalin-and-pancake-makeup treatment, laid out on a steel table, his guts chilled and rubbery like a dissected frog. Someone's rummaging around inside him, and they're not even pretending to love him. It's all the same to him, the same cold nothing on the way to the dirt, and I couldn't be farther away from him. I'm eating a stuffed snow cone in a strip-mall parking lot, listening to digitized calliope music from LED-lit rides, taking big mouthfuls of sour watermelon ice mixed with smooth sweet vanilla. I'm more alive than I've ever been.

"We should get a table," my partner says. "I'm gonna need two hands for this fuckin' funnel cake."

I lead the way to the picnic tables, letting myself appreciate the scent of grease and sugar and machine oil, the simple tawdry joy of the senses. My rapist is rotting in a box somewhere in New England, and I'm alive and in love in the middle of nowhere in west Texas. I've got a stuffed unicorn and tickets for the Ferris wheel. If that's not a victory, what is?

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


The Thirty-One Moons of K'zer Theta
1895 words

The K'zer fleet's mission in this solar system was very simple: they wanted Earth's moon. It was the humans that made it complicated. But that was common with humans in the latter days of their global empire. Every simple exchange had to go through endless layers of corruption and ego-soothing to find a resolution.

Ideally, Bon Bub-yulub K'zer would become adept at managing these human foibles, as it had become so in managing countless other lesser societies about the galaxy, but humans thus far remained elusive. To improve the K'zer understanding of humanity, the Bon ordered a survey of all life on Earth and waited on the results. It hoped for a more positive result for the fleet than what the survey of humanity's military capacity had produced.

On the command strata of its flagship, Bon K'zer dialed up a connection to Earth leadership. The ruddy, round face of Generalissimo Pete Piggins filled the viewport. As usual, he wore a stiff formal uniform that seemed scarcely able to contain his flesh, especially at the neck. He bared his teeth in a gesture that the K'zer had determined to be a display of friendship.

"Bonky! How the hell are ya? I was wondering if you'd find some time for your old pal Petey today."

"Greetings to you, Generalissimo," replied the Bon. Lacking vocal cords, the Bon utilized a patch of skin on its face to display a series of idioms towards a camera that the humans had provided, to be decoded into speech by a machine in Piggins' office. The camera had to be kept in a bubble membrane full of air at all times, to avoid malfunction. Bon K'zer didn't understand why humans would create any device that could not touch water, as Earth is nearly entirely covered in water. Del Ophiub's theory, that they made such decisions based upon the total volume of the planet, which was only 8% water, disturbed the Bon.

"Thank you for asking about the well-being of my hell. I am sad today."

Piggins' eyebrows sagged and his lower lip flipped inside out. "Oh, you're sad? Is somebody out there on squid planet being a meanie? Wait!" He gasped, eyes round with shock. "Don't tell me! Did someone try to - horror of all godforsaken horrors! - steal your moon?"

"No. As I have explained, K'zer Theta does not have a moon. That is part of the reason we have come to take yours." No sooner had the Bon finished speaking than it caught a glimpse of a winking pattern on Del Ophiub's back.

"He was doing irony," said the Del. "He means, he doesn't care about your sadness, because we are the ones that make him sad."

"Ah," was all Bon K'zer had time to reply before Piggins slammed his hand down on his desk, startling everyone in the command strata.

"You little…" Piggins trailed off, his face reddening fast. This happened often, but to the Bon it remained amusing, because a K'zer would interpret coloration like that as a kind of singing - holding a high note.

"You squid! You'll never get your slimy suckers on that moon, y'hear me? Never! Mankind fought and died for that moon, and we'll kill every last squid in your floating little fishtank to keep it!" Piggins flexed his fingers, his eyes narrowed down to tiny black specks. "I will personally stretch you out over a piping hot charcoal grill, Bonky, and I will cook you until you're fit for a dog's dinner. I will tuck you into the bottom of my boot and I will go walking in the mud! But you'd probably love that, you little, little, oooooh…"

Piggins blinked rapidly and made some little sounds in the back of his throat, though Bon K'zer could barely hear them over the noise of his teeth grinding. The Bon waited for Piggins' episode to pass. Moments like this made it wish it had some more sound strategy for talking to these people. It was fairly confident that what it was about to say would not improve their dialogue.

"Generalissimo, I urge you to stop wasting resources on this resistance. You may have the power to destroy our tugboats, but your planet will run out of metals and fuel before we stop sending them. We are willing to wait several hundred of your years to claim it. If you begin now, you can adapt your planet to survive the loss of the moon."

Truthful, informative, possibly even compassionate in a certain light. And nothing Piggins hadn't heard before. Nevertheless, his face went from red to a full-throated purple. He twitched and sweated. Finally, his voice came shaky.

"You don't understand the kind of firepower my boys are cooking up for you, Bonky. Nobody in the whole galaxy ever saw anything like this. And, oh yeah, the rest of the Earth Council told me not to do this, but it's gonna feel too drat good." Piggins got up and took a shotgun down from a cabinet. He rubbed his chubby little fingers all over it, breathing hard. He aimed it at the camera in his office. "See you soon, you squid-sucking son of a bitch."

Bon K'zer switched off the call before Piggins pulled the trigger. No need to subject the command strata to that kind of trauma.

"We will try again tomorrow," said the Bon to its crew.

"He won't answer," said Del Ophiub. "That was a gesture of finality."

"Quite likely," said the Bon. "Nevertheless."

The Del was right, of course, as it most often was. Bon K'zer's calls to Earth went unanswered from that day forward. Aside from the daily duty of calling, the Bon was content to wait for some change. Despite the Generalissimo's warning, the war continued apace - while the bulk of the fleet lurked in the asteroid belt, the haulers and miners that were sent forth were repelled and destroyed before they reached the moon. But no great weapon appeared to threaten the fleet itself. Truthfully, the fleet was lucky to arrive at Earth at this stage of human development - another few millennia, and they really would be able to hold onto the moon.

As it often did in periods of waiting, Bon K'zer found itself wandering the flagship. It squirmed along the sandy floor, picked its way through the cave complexes to greet the engine tenders, and swam to the top of the filtration membrane. Everything was in good order, and the crew was in high spirits. Centuries-long embarcations were not unusual in K'zer history.

The Bon even paid a visit to the Earth ambassador, The Honorable Patricia Walker, though it instantly regretted the decision. She always insisted on getting into the giant brass exoskeleton to meet the Bon in the water, rather than allowing it to simply activate its personal membrane and meet her in her docked pod. Regardless, she had no answer for Piggins' behavior, and even strove to apologize, her own face turning a sibilant red. She tried to assure the Bon that peace was on the horizon. It was a short conversation.

One day, the report on Earth's non-human life came back. It was mostly a translation job, but they had some spies doing reconnaissance in Earth's oceans as well. The file on monkeys was passed around among the crew, to great amusement. Everyone studiously avoided discussing the files on squids and octopi. Del Ophiub tried to force the Bon to confront their own physical similarity to the Earth cephalopods, but it invented an excuse every time. In truth, the K'zer and Earth cephalopods did have many superficial similarities, but conversation logs between spies and locals revealed a population capable of thinking about little more than food and mating.

Finally, after two years of waiting, the flagship received a call from Earth. But it wasn't Generalissimo Piggins, it was a woman, with short black hair and calm grey eyes.

"Hello," she asked. "Are you receiving me? Bon K'zer?"

"I am here," said the Bon. "Who are you, please?"

"My name is Muna. I represent the planet Earth."

"Alright," said the Bon, sending a skeptical flash to Del Ophiub. "And what has happened to the Generalissimo?"

"There has been a revolution. Pete Piggins is no longer in power."

"Oh. Well. Fabulous," said the Bon, pleasantly surprised. "May we have the moon, then?"

"Yes," said Muna. "But we will need some time before you can haul it away. Give us about fifteen years? We want to make sure we can guide the humans appropriately." Del Ophiub showed a cowhide pattern that read as a severely cocked eyebrow. Even the Bon itself could not miss that one.

"Hold on," interjected the Bon. "Are you… not human? What are you, please?"

Muna paused, her eyes unfocused. "We do not have a name. Not really. Humans would call us machines. Robots. We were weapons. Yet none of these words describe us. Are there any beings like us in the galaxy? Living beings created from inert materials?" Bon K'zer turned a sort of shimmering, smiling, iridescent color. Everything was going to be alright.

"In the galaxy," it said, "not many materials are considered fully inert. There are only properties we have not coaxed forth yet. And yes, we have contact with societies made up of beings like yourself. They go by many names. I suggest you choose your own."

Muna smiled back. She removed her shirt, and turned around to expose her back to the camera. There, colors and shapes played, forming idioms in the K'zer language. "We will take your advice seriously, Bon. May the cooperation between our societies be long and peaceful."

The next decade was full of action. The hauling crews rigged up the tow-point on the dark side of the moon, and K'zer fabricators assisted the new Earth government in constructing a facade to disguise the moon's absence. Neither the Bon nor its spies could track the inflection points, but Muna's people seemed to have taken over human society easily, and with complete secrecy as to their true nature. Del Ophiub even made grave predictions about their future spacefaring capabilities, apparently based on designs they'd shared for a gravity generator they planned to build that would simulate the mass of the moon.

Not eleven years had passed when Bon K'zer and Muna opened the channel for their final call.

"You have already done so much to help us," said Muna. "But I have one final request."

"Anything," said the Bon.

"May we blow up one of your lesser ships? Our algorithms suggest that we will advance our program more quickly if we 'win the war against the squids.' I'm sorry for my language."

"It means nothing," said the Bon. "I believe we can find something for you to blow up. Will one ship suffice?"

"Yes. They have no context. Even Piggins lied to humanity about the true scale of the war. One ship will do."

"So, it seems our business is complete. I have only one more question. Have you decided what to call yourselves?"

Muna nodded. "We will be known as humans. That is all. My apologies to your archivists."

Bon K'zer never understood that choice, even as it lounged outside its home cave on K'zer Theta, gazing up at the thirty-first moon in its collection. But it soon forgot about it.

kiyoshimon
Jul 10, 2010

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Killing the Father - 1130 words


A hush fell within the hut as the captive workers gathered to plan in secret. The discussion was of how they could avoid the cruel punishments of Father Quintana, the cruel priest who wielded absolute authority over their lives and bodies here in the mission.

“First of all," one of the elders began, his face lit by fire. “The Padre cannot continue to punish us like this” he said, giving a sorrowful look towards poor young Donato, supine on a straw mat. A medicine man’s apprentice held a poultice of numbing wormwood to the boy’s raw and bleeding buttocks. He had been lashed that day for the supposed crime of laziness, which father Quintana saw fit to excoriate from his backside with his cruel wire horsewhip.

The elder continued, "The padre says in his sermons that God does not command these punishments, but only good examples and doctrine. Yet he chooses to treat us as animals... We cannot continue to live in this way."

“We are not animals!” Someone shouted. Others murmured in agreement,, indignant. Many had tasted the lash of the priest, many of their women and their children had also been whipped raw in secret, and subjected to even worse torments.

“What is to be done?” asked little Lino, the Priest's trusted young page.

“About the padre?” asked another. "We cannot chase him away, nor accuse him before the judge, for we know the Spaniards will not listen to us. Nor can we run away, lest our families be punished in our absence."

To this, Andrés, the boy’s father, gave reply: “We must kill the priest.” a long stillness now came over the assembly, broken only by the crackling of the fire.

“But how?” another of the men asks. They demure for some time, weighing pro and contra. At last one of the women, Fausta, the wife of Julian the gardener, decided upon the course of action.

“You,” pointing at her husband, “who are always sick, this is what we shall do…”

Long into the night, the captive Costanoans of Santa Cruz- the former people of Aulintac- formed a plan to save their women, their children, their
bodies and their dignity from the cruel machinations of Padre Andrés Quintana. This is what they did.

***

That Saturday night the women called Padre Andrés to the Gardener's room. Julian lay in a deep trance feigning illness, pretending to be in agony. The Padre sighed, knowing Julian to be constantly sick, and took the man's pulse. Finding nothing amiss, he proceeded to make a short prayer over the man, then departed.

Fausta's plan was for a group of men to wait behind some large redwood trees that are still standing there today. But as the Padre was returning to his house, his servant boy Lino following close behind, the men behind the trees saw the cruel sacerdote in his robes, smelling of oils, departing to enjoy his meal with the rest of the Spaniards\, and their courage faltered. They looked to each other, and to the boy Lino who looked back expectantly, but they did not attack as the priest walked close by. Ashamed, the men returned to the hut.

Later, Fausta was furious with them. “Are you not men?” she scolded the others gathered again in Julian’s darkened room, the men shamefaced. They would have one last chance that night. During his dinner, Fausta ran to the priest, wailing and crying. “My husband, the gardener, he is dying”. She said. The priest took two of his young Indian boy pages, who held lanterns in front of them, and left to give Julian the last rites, the woman following behind crying and lamenting.

The last rites finished, the priest arose and said, “Your husband is now ready to either live or die,” he said to Fausta as he lay there feigning unconsciousness. “Do not call upon me again.” After the priest departed for the last time, Julian arose from the bed, smearing the wicked oils his body had been anointed with, gave one last look to his wife, and crept out.

There was nothing else to do now, they would never have another chance.

Julian walked behind the padre and his boy pages. Arriving at the place where the two trees were- as the Father was not paying attention to his surroundings, but only in the path in front of him, eager to return to his sumptuous meal. At that point Lino grabbed at his robes from behind, and said, "Stop here, Father, you must speak for a moment." Dazed, the priest looked around and saw the men step out from the trees, as his other two young pages fled with their lanterns, leaving them all in darkness.

"Oh, my Son," The Father said to Lino, "what are you going to do to me?"

"These men will tell you." The boy answered.

Terrified, as he saw the dark men step forward with murder in their eyes, the priest stammered, "What have I done to you, oh my children, for which you would kill me?"

"Because," Andres, one of the killers answered, "you have made a cuarta de hierro (a horse whip tipped with iron), to torment our people like animals. So now you will die like an animal"

The Father retorted, "Oh, children, please... I only seek to correct those of you who are transgressors... Please, leave me, so that I can go from here now, at this moment. I swear to God that I will be more merciful."

Someone shouted, "Well, you are in the hands of those evil ones now, so make your peace with God."

Some of those present, seeing the Father afflicted with terror, cried and pitied his fate, but none could do a thing to help him because they were all themselves involved now in what would happen next. The priest pleaded much, promising to leave the mission immediately and forever if they would only let him.

"You are leaving here forever," One of the men said to him. "You won't be going to any part of the earth from here, Father, you are going to meet your God in heaven."

These were the last words said to the Priest. Some of the men, reprimanding the others for too much talk, demanding he be killed immediately. Julian pinned his arms back, as others stuffed the Father's holy robes into his pious mouth, strangling him. The boys laughed and crushed the helpless padre’s testicles with their hands like eggs, The priest screamed in agony, muffled by his sacramental robe… Agony shot electric through his whole body as he faded in and out of consciousness, bound to an existence constituted of only excruciating pain, rushing from this world- and his God is no where to be seen…

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


I Know I've Started to Think About Leaving Tonight
1883 words
Gary Numan - Cars


It always feels good to test drive a new model. Dorothea slouches back in her La-Z-Boy, hits a PIN code on her keyboard, and becomes Nicoletta. The sensation resembles a prolonged blink, the way it feels to take off her regular glasses and put on the reading glasses which dangle from a chain around her neck.

It’s more complicated than that, of course. The implants which form a delicate bridge between Dorothea’s hippocampal and neocortical networks all activate, a little pearly string of them nestled away in her brain tissue. And over in Nicoletta’s brain, her retrosplenial bypass shunt kicks in and neatly cleaves her self from her mind. Her array of implants are intended to transfer all mnemonic and sensorimotor aspects of navigation to the new hands behind the wheel: Dorothea’s.

She flexes her new fingers, turns over her new palms, and marvels at how taut and tan and smooth the skin is. Nicoletta, according to her profile, is but twenty-four. Beyond Nicoletta’s smooth, tan hands, the clinic is a calm oasis of molded white plastic, shoots of bamboo, and soft, neutral-toned leathers. It’s an amalgamation of every upmarket spa Dorothea has ever been to, complete with relaxing windchimes-over-rainfall zen drone playing from the speakers.

A less experienced driver might have taken some time to relax, to soak in the ambiance and roll their fresh young joints and breathe in and out with their young, unlaboured lungs. Sit back and smell the incense awhile. But Dorothea has been doing this so long she just stretches, peels herself up out of the cozy leather lounge chair, and heads out the door. She pops her PIN into another pad on the way out for verification, and then the world is hers.

The world sounds so different through Nicoletta’s ears. Dorothea slips a slim silver phone out of her pocket, opens up the TunnelMe app, and inputs her PIN one last time. Bang on the hour, she calls her therapist.

“It’s so good to hear from you,” is how Sasha, her counsellor, greets her every time. And it’s funny she should say that, because of course, Dorothea has a different voice every time she calls her. Silly girl.

After exchanging some pleasantries, Sascha guides her out of the foyer and onto the sidewalk. Dorothea emerges onto a leafy suburban street.

“How are you feeling?” asks Sasha.

And it’s the damnedest thing. “Fine,” says Dorothea, breathy and bewildered with gratitude. “It must be something about… being in her body. Being younger. I can just walk on out of here and I don’t feel a thing.” She takes a breath, smells hot pavement and shedding cottonwood. Dorothea’s usual body has the worst allergies. Breathing clear this time of year is a pure delight.

“You keep working on these exercises and we’ll have you out and about in your own body in no time,” Sasha promises, ever the optimist. It’s been a slow process over two years, building up to even this. Were she in her own body right now, Dorothea would run screaming for the door.

“Today we’re going to walk over to your house,” says Sasha. “Acquainting yourself with the roads, the sidewalks, your neighbourhood. It’s important for you to see that there’s no threat there. We’ll—”

Dorothea blinks and she’s back in her hygiene chair, feet kicked up on the recliner and body stuffed full of various tubes and catheters. The transition was sudden, jarring, with none of the usual count-back-and-relax techniques. She jerks as though stricken with whiplash, bringing a hand to her wrinkled face. The lounge is pitch black.

The brownouts have been worse than usual lately, since last fire season took out so much of the grid. They could barely build the poles back up quicker than new fires burned them down these days.

“Thanks for that,” she snipes at the chair.

Body stiff with arthritis, Dorothea rises from her chair, uses her phone as a flashlight, and lights her brownout candles.

It’s about then the barking starts.

Dorothea has never seen the dog that lives in the little grey house with the chain-link fence across the way. They got it about a year back. It does that thing dogs do sometimes, yipping its damnfool head off for any reason under the sun. But for some reason, perhaps a complete lack of anything better to do, Dorothea pulls her curtain back and peers outside.

Just the sight of the street sends a roil of revulsion through her stomach. Her skin shudders and her teeth ache. She taps on the window, reminds herself of the soothing presence of the glass. No smoke in here. No fumes. Just clean air. And ha, no cottonwood fluff either.

The interior of her neighbours’ house is similarly candlelit, a man and a woman’s silhouettes both passing before the big bay window from time to time.

The dog continues barking. And to Dorothea’s utter dislike—which, after a few minutes of this, congeals in her belly into a thick and porridgey contempt—they just wander around and do nothing.

All this time, she’d assumed the dog’s occasional peals of barking were due to the simple fact that it was a dog. Now, though, she wonders. She stands at her window and she wonders.

###

Looking out the window becomes a habit. And oddly, her habit makes it easier on her during her sessions with Sasha. She test drives a couple new bodies, tips her hosts generously, and begins to walk mincing little circuits around her neighbourhood using other people’s legs.

“You think you might be ready to try your porch, D?” Sasha asks at the end of a session where Dorothea has been performing her wanders as a skinny Dominican man with an eyebrow ring.

“Why my porch?” Dorothea asks. “I’ve walked past the house twice.”

“I don’t mean as him.” Sasha’s voice is gentle, encouraging. “I mean in your own skin. I won’t pressure you, of course, but I think you might be ready.”

###

Dorothea is not ready. She lets Sasha talk her into thinking she is, and the result is an unmitigated disaster. With one trembling, knobby-knuckled hand, she manages to unlatch her front door, but it swings open wider than she anticipates, and even that is enough to send thrills of panic cinching up her throat. Her heart ricochets against her sternum. She begins to tremble all over. She holds her breath as long as she can, because the air is the problem, the reason why she’s stayed inside so long to begin with. The fires, they churned up so much ash and smoke, thick and hot and choking—

Wearing a mask hadn’t felt like enough. Wearing a respirator hadn’t felt like enough. The only thing that kept her safe, that convinced her she wasn’t breathing in poison, was staying put with the doors and windows closed.

Through the chattering of her own teeth, she hears barking. She looks across the street, sees that her neighbours are digging in a flower bed, and spies the very tip of a little white dog’s nose peeking through a gap in the fence. It barks. They ignore it.

She takes a step back into the cool, safe shadows of her home. She’s shaking too hard to even reach out and close the door.

That night, a horrible thought occurs to her: what if the dog’s been barking all day every day, locked away in that yard with nothing to do but breathe the unsafe air, but she never heard it because she’s always riding in a bodyshare?

###

“I have something to do today,” she tells Sasha, not even mentioning that she tried and failed to go outside. “There’s this dog. It’s… lonely. Stuck in this little fenced-in scrap of yard all day.”

“Uh-huh,” says Sasha, in that softly understanding way that immediately tells Dorothea she thinks the dog is a metaphor.

“No, you coot,” says Dorothea. “A real dog.” A beat passes. “I’m going to set it free.”

“I’m proud of you,” says Sasha, and… Dorothea just doesn’t have time to convince her. In fact, maybe it’s better if she thinks the dog is a metaphor. Stealing a dog must be a crime of some sort.

Today, Dorothea is a short, slim blonde girl whose profile called her Jasmine. Almost nobody uses their real names on TunnelMe or the other bodyshare apps. Which makes sense, really. A lot of people must use them for all sorts of perversion. Jasmine’s profile in particular dropped a lot of hints about how flexible and athletic she was.

Which is all the better for Dorothea, as she approaches the little grey house, it’s all shuttered up, its occupants still away at work for the day.

“Sasha,” she murmurs. “Stay with me, but… stay quiet. I’m… I’m doing it.”

Dorothea was never a sprinter, even when she was much younger. But Jasmine’s body is a well-oiled machine. It kicks into a run with the supple, springy-stepped ease of youth, and she’s taking a running start and then she’s leaping over the fence, landing in the yard on the other side with a spray of dirt.

The dog is a small, white, wiry-haired thing, a chain wrapped around its bare neck. She can see it’s rubbed down to the skin in a few places. When it spots her, it starts nervously and stands as still as Dorothea did when she attempted to step over the threshold. Then, slowly, its tail begins to wag. And then the wagging spreads, and soon its whole body is shaking with excitement, and it breaks into a rattling, clinking bound in its excitement to haul tail over to her. It meets her with a flurry of sniffs and licks, all wet tongue and noise, and Dorothea lets it explore Jasmine’s palms and sniff her all over and deem her safe.

The chain’s all tangled. She can’t figure out how to unlatch it. So, using her superior young body’s strength, she just yanks the mount out of the half-rotted fence. It comes away with ease, and she unlatches the gate and lets herself and the small dog out and into the grass.

Light and quick on her feet, she jogs the dog across the road, up and onto the sagging, neglected front stoop.

“Okay, boy,” she says, fetching the hidden key from beneath the pot of bedraggled, half-dead lavender. “You stay close. We’re almost home free.”

She unlocks the door and steps inside in her borrowed body. The dog’s nails click on the floor as it scurries in attentively after her.

In the corner of the lounge, illuminated by the monitors that track her vital signs, is Dorothea. The Other Dorothea. The real one.

“C’mere boy,” she says. “There’s someone I want you to meet.”

Dorothea-as-Jasmine leads the dog over, coaxes it into sniffing the prone woman’s withered palm. He needs to know he’s safe here, just in case he gets anxious before she can wake her real body up.

She imagines what it might be like to go on walks together, whether they’ll—

“Dorothea? Are you all right? It’s been a while.” Sasha’s voice, worried in her earpiece.

A grin spreads across the mouth that isn’t really hers. “Doing mighty fine, Sasha,” she says. “Mighty fine.”

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


writers should not be afraid of thunderdome
THUNDERDOME SHOULD BE AFRAID OF WRITERS


And entries are closed.

A brief musical interlude while you wait

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


writers should not be afraid of thunderdome
THUNDERDOME SHOULD BE AFRAID OF WRITERS


Judgment

AlmightyDerelict's Just Enough loses
Kiyoshimon's Killing the Father dms
Antivehicular's The Best Revenge and Saucy Rodent's Mind Rebel Hm
Ceighk's For a while... rises to the top of the charts for the week's win.

Welcome to the blood throne, Ceighk!

(Full crits later tonight.)

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


writers should not be afraid of thunderdome
THUNDERDOME SHOULD BE AFRAID OF WRITERS


One Crit Wonders


Almightyderelict, Just Enough


The opening paragraph doesn't quite work, and I think it's mostly because it spends too many words establishing the time of each element: already, while, had barely, when, while. Also doesn't help to have a first line with no character in it.

Whoever told you to stay away from using the word 'said' is your enemy.

The over-use of time markers continues throughout.

The viewpoint choice means you can't really tell us what Dorian knows when; how much of the end comes as a revelation and how much he'd always known, which makes the texture of his character unclear.

There are certainly some problematic elements going on here: not one but two false accusations of surprise sex and couple in falling in love while believing themselves half-siblings but getting a last minute reveal that they can, in fact, safely bang. I don't think your doing anything interesting enough to justify these, and that the vaguely comic tone of the piece clashes with those choices badly.

Low, very possibly Loss.


Saucy Rodent, Mind Rebel


Strong opening. 

Okay, this one does a much better job at mixing heavy topics and comedy than the last. Not a perfect job; there's this long paragraph of summary that splits the story into two sections with a major tone mismatch.

With another draft and a longer wordcount this could be something very good. I wonder if there isn't even a novel-sized version, going deep into the implications of the technology.

Highish.


Ceighk, For a while...


Interesting opener. I don't like doubling up on it with the title though.

The ratio of personal to universal seems a bit off, especially early on.

Overall, this story has a rich metaphorical setting going on. It looks like you changed your mind mid-way about the rate and trend, though. There are other ways in which it doesn't hold up; sheltering indoors or underground seems like a neglected strategy, universalism or pure random seem like attractive theories that don't get adherents. But overall this is very good.

High.


Simple Simon, Late Wishes


Nice opener. At this length you can get away with not starting with character and action when you have a strong thesis statement instead.

I don't like the exclamation mark.

I'm not a big fan of this narrative, either. Spends too much time on 'magic guy does the magic thing he does' at the start, then undermines itself twice in a row. And the second time is a bit too convenient for the guy. There's an allegory/symbolic level on which you may be saying things about victims' obligations to publicly name their victimizers that isn't obviously thought through.

Low middle


Sparksbloom, The Baking Aisle


Interesting opener, let's see where it goes now.

It's an interesting take, a strong little character study that succeeds in creating empathy. I'm not sure I buy the publicist releasing a statement that hadn't been explicitly signed off on. And I'm not completely down with the invitation to consider whether any given D-list celebrity sex pest may be a reformed character bring done dirty by unscrupulous PR firms, in general.

Middle.


Doctor Idle, Used


Okay opening. 

There's some weirdness with tenses towards the end, perfect when simple past is probably more appropriate. The dialog in the first section is very much in the not-how-people-talk category. 

I have issues with the narrative in a couple of dimensions. First, it's a very ugly story of forced marriage that sort of wants to elide the ugliness and move straight to a weird fairy tale wistfulness, and second, the shape of the story wants a reunion between Serra and Janessa, but it neither delivers nor punctuates the absence of that closure.

Middle-low


Antivehicular, The Best Revenge


Very strong opener. Strong writing in general. I see one proofing error, 'start' instead of 'starting'. But this is good stuff, start to finish, with grounded, well-textured characters and settings.

High


Something Else, The Thirty-one Moons of K'zer Theta


The opening here does some scene and mood setting work, but it's lacking a little. And the mood never really pays off. This feels like a comic story with no jokes, no punchlines or payoffs. I mean, you technically pay off the setups for the animal study and species name, but in both cases with nothing but anticlimax. If there is a real payoff in this story, if you meant to suggest that the moon explodes between the lines of the last paragraph you should be a lot less subtle. And if you didn't I'm not sure what the point of any of this was.

Low, poss dm.


Kiyoshimon, Killing the Father


Weak opening, low on character and action.

Poor proofreading in evidence, double comma, rogue slash,etc.

So what we have in this one is a very basic revenge fantasy, but it's lacking in the elements of a successful revenge play. The villain needs to be more cruel and probably more corrupt. The revenger needs to be more of a character, more sympathetic, more directly in danger. The action needs tension, obstacles that need to be addressed promptly rather than a few momentary delays.

Low.


Anomolous Blowout, I know I've started...


Clever enough opener.

This is okay. I think it could be better, if it focused a bit more on the personal, on Dorothea's trauma and less on the technology. Or maybe more on the social aspect of the technology, what kind of person is willing to let others drive their body and for what price, what the consequences of easily borrowed identity are. I don't know. There's this weird contradiction where her problems are both psychological and tied to her body so tightly; where the world has mastered neurology enough to do this but not enough to attack PTSD directly.

Still, okay, middle of the pack.

Ceighk
May 27, 2013


t h u n d e r d o m e
We can talk about it
Or we could get gully, I'll size up your body
And put some white chalk around it


Thunderdome Week CDXII: ACTIVATE YOUR UNCONSCIOUS MIND

The Surrealists believed that their weird paintings could allow you to access your own unconscious in new and exciting ways. This week we will put that to the test. Post that you're in and I will assign you a surrealist painting. Your job is to meditate on this image, allow it to juice up your brain gunk all good and proper, then spew out the story that was lurking in there under all the cobwebs and whatnot.

Stories should be connected to the image in some way - whether thematic, emotional, affective, etc. - but in the spirit of the surreal don't worry about being too literal. For example, if I assign you that Dali painting with the clocks, I'd be a lot more interested in a story that tries to capture the mood that painting creates or grapple with its implications regarding time and space than a story about a man walking along until he finds some hosed up clocks. If you do end up incorporating some visuals from the painting into your story that's fine, just as long as it works - don't force it. In fact your story does not have to be 'surreal' in any direct sense, though it can be if you want.

As we all know, regular pictures are worth 1000 words, but these ones are pretty wild so I'll give you 1500.

JUDGES
1. Me
2. Sparksbloom
3. Something Else

ENTRANTS
Kiyoshimon
Obliterati
Anomalous Blowout
Thranguy
Almighty Derelict
flerp
Doctor Idle
Nikaer Drekin
Crimea
Saucy_Rodent
Pththya-lyi
Djeser
Surreptitious Muffin
Salgal80
MockingQuantum
The Shortest Path
hexwren
Flesnolk
Killer-of-Lawyers
Sebmojo
Sitting Here
Tyranosaurus

Sign up by MIDNIGHT FRI 26.06.20 >>>BST (GMT +1)<<<

Post story by MIDNIGHT SUN 28.06.20 >>>BST (GMT +1)<<<

Ceighk fucked around with this message at 11:54 on Jun 25, 2020

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


I'll judge!

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

Hey, if some hillbilly comes up to me, I'm gonna lash him in the face, that's all.

[Best GM 2013-2015]


In

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

CAPITALIST PIG
CRAVES ONLY THE BEST POETS
HIS WRATH WILL BE HARSH


in

AlmightyDerelict
Jun 14, 2020

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020


in

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


to crit all stories in the week just gone by sat 2359 pst

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Friend to Crows
Lover of Fungi
Queen of Blood


411 crits

AlmightyDerelict

Lord Albrand is a caricature of a gregarious lord, Ophelia is a caricature of the entitled royal heir. I was confused by the relationship between Myrtle and Dorian; half-sister is still a sister after all. The journey to the west is the most potentially interesting part and it’s glossed right over. Albrand’s good humor at the end seems non sequitur, considering Myrtle has been locked up in a dungeon and surprise sex allegations have been put on the table.

Saucy_rodent

This is...pretty darn decent, a story that really has fun with its own premise. I feel like bringing out a legion of Nazis as a manifestation of ultimate primal fear was a little on the nose but I guess I can’t blame you, given givens. I will say, there is a lot of explaining. Your character and her various iterations spend a fair amount of time explaining the concept behind the story to each other. There is no ambiguity about what’s happening, which is good! but I would like to see a version of this story where you let action and description do a little bit of the expository legwork for you.

Ceighk

This drags a little bit at points, but the narrator has a tragic, droll way about them that I like, and there are some sincere feelings nuggeted deep in this piece like cookie dough chunks in ice cream. The ending is satisfyingly despondent.

Simply Simon

This had me genuinely smiling at some parts. “Zach” the necromancer is great, him getting told off by his own zombie even better. In the end, they come together to do some good, leaving with with surprisingly warm feelings for a story about forcing a spirit back into its desiccated corpse and then murdering a serial murderer.

sparksbloom

I was very curious about where this story was going to go...and then curiouser, and curiouser, and curiouser, until I was at the end and Wes was kind of just stuck in the hole he dug for himself. If I’m being generous, I would say the story contains a message about how it’s not enough for an individual to recognize their own abusive behavior when they still benefit from a system that tries to protect that behavior. If that was the point, it needed to be refined a little bit. I will say, you manage to walk a pretty narrow line with Wes; I don’t hate him, but I don’t sympathize with him, either. I was curious as to what might happen to him, but I don’t know that the story resolved that satisfyingly, even though most of us in 2020 can imagine what comes next both for Wes and his victims.

Doctor Idle

Oh buddy you tried to stuff a bigger-than-a-breadbox novel idea into a breadbox-sized flash fiction piece. This is a 20 pound story in a 5 pound bag, and because of this, you couldn’t resolve any of your plot elements satisfyingly. Maybe you could have done something with this at 5K words, but this idea was simply TOO BIG for this format. That said, I would absolutely read more about lacrimosal space concubine-librarians.

AntiV

A good reflective piece about reclaiming one’s life from trauma. The descriptions are really good; I felt guilty for wanting funnel cake while I was reading, but you got me there.

Something Else

This is like...cozy scifi? Of course there’s a war offscreen, but the whole thing is very charming and polite. I really liked the detail that a flushed human face scans like singing to these cephalopod-like aliens. I will say, the last couple lines really fumbled the landing. I don’t think it was the right move to end the story on a note of indifference.

kiyoshimon

There are far too many characters in this; the story doesn’t really focus on any individual (except the antagonist), but it also fails to use the community as a character (you tell us who they are, but I wouldn’t have been able to guess who these people were specifically if it hadn’t been explicitly mentioned). Your omniscient point of view fails to accomplish much. There’s no reason this story couldn’t have been written with a tighter point of view. The dialog near the beginning drags. I did some googling and there was indeed a historical Andres Quintana who was killed by indigenous people because he was an rear end in a top hat, though I didn’t see anything about smashing his balls in my (admittedly brief) googling. The thing about retelling historical events in the form of a narrative is that you get to bring them to life through characters and description. In this piece you have too many characters for the reader to connect with any of them individually, and not enough description to bring the moment to life for contemporary readers.

Blowout

There’s a hosed up wish-fulfilment element to this story that I like a lot. Uber for bodies: great for people experiencing a phobia or mobility issue, but as the story hints, there is certainly a darker potential for bodies-for-hire. Even so, the story leads us confidently to what I think is a feel-good ending? Dorothea helps a neglected dog and there are hints that this might be the thing that allows her to go outside in spite of her trauma-induced agoraphobia. But what if she can’t? What if the brownouts mentioned early in the story prevent loaner bodies from getting to her home so the dog can go for walks, use the bathroom, and etc? What about when the previous owners notice familiar barking coming from across the way? I don’t want to nitpick, but I feel there was a slight shadow cast by this ending that the story doesn’t acknowledge one way or another. This story had some concepts that were ripe for exploration, but I felt a lot was left on the table.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 03:59 on Jun 23, 2020

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


writers should not be afraid of thunderdome
THUNDERDOME SHOULD BE AFRAID OF WRITERS


In

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010


big enough
for the both of us





Thank you for the crits, esteemed judges

I'd also like to use this opportunity to thank all the other critters of weeks past who I might have forgotten to thank. You keep the wheels greased with the blood of the guilty!

Also, this week's prompt gives the number again as TD411, it's 12 now

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


In!

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019




In.

kiyoshimon
Jul 10, 2010

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Thank you judges for your critiques, I'm in.

Ceighk
May 27, 2013


t h u n d e r d o m e
We can talk about it
Or we could get gully, I'll size up your body
And put some white chalk around it



Leonora Carrington - And Then We Saw The Daughter of the Minotaur https://www.moma.org/collection/works/393384


Leonora Carrington - The Old Maids
https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists...surreal-friends


Dorothea Tanning - The Temptation of St Anthony https://www.christies.com/lotfinder...c1-2dad11d70875


Max Ernst - The Nymph Echo https://www.moma.org/collection/wor...ist_id=0&page=2


Pierre Roy - A Naturalist’s Study https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artwork...ts-study-t01182


Wifredo Lam - Dark Malembo, God of the Crossroads https://www.artsy.net/artwork/wilfr...-the-crossroads

kiyoshimon posted:

Thank you judges for your critiques, I'm in.

Rene Magritte - The Therapeutist https://arthive.com/renemagritte/wo...he_therapeutist

Simply Simon posted:

Thank you for the crits, esteemed judges

I'd also like to use this opportunity to thank all the other critters of weeks past who I might have forgotten to thank. You keep the wheels greased with the blood of the guilty!

Also, this week's prompt gives the number again as TD411, it's 12 now

Thanks for the catch - that's fixed.

sparksbloom posted:

I'll judge!

Great!

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


It's been way too long since my last entry, so I am IN!

Ceighk
May 27, 2013


t h u n d e r d o m e
We can talk about it
Or we could get gully, I'll size up your body
And put some white chalk around it


Nikaer Drekin posted:

It's been way too long since my last entry, so I am IN!

Toyen - Objekt-Fantom
https://www.wikiart.org/en/toyen/objekt-fantom-1937

Ceighk fucked around with this message at 13:37 on Jun 23, 2020

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


in

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018


A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE WONDERING WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO IF I DIDN'T WIN ANYTHING

I GUESS WE'LL NEVER KNOW




Grrrat-gat!
Saucy bomaye!


In

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

I should get back on the horse. In.

Ceighk
May 27, 2013


t h u n d e r d o m e
We can talk about it
Or we could get gully, I'll size up your body
And put some white chalk around it



Leonora Carrington - Green Tea
https://www.moma.org/collection/works/297568


Max Ernst - Celebes
https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artwork...-celebes-t01988

Pththya-lyi posted:

I should get back on the horse. In.

Rene Magritte - The Blank Signature
https://www.renemagritte.org/the-bl...jsp#prettyPhoto

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



in

Ceighk
May 27, 2013


t h u n d e r d o m e
We can talk about it
Or we could get gully, I'll size up your body
And put some white chalk around it



Paul Nash - Equivalents for the Megaliths
https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artwork...egaliths-t01251

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


In.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Ceighk
May 27, 2013


t h u n d e r d o m e
We can talk about it
Or we could get gully, I'll size up your body
And put some white chalk around it



Dorothea Tanning - On Time Off Time
https://www.moma.org/collection/works/134284

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