Crit of CaligulaKangaroo's The Light
I really, really like what you did with the prompt. You took an admittedly silly idea (SKY ORB) and crafted something out of it. I like that you don’t describe the Orb too much; better to let the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks. The worldbuilding was similarly light but effective; you lay out just enough to give the story depth in an efficient manner. The use of the laser rifle as a makeshift holocaster was a great choice but I would have liked to see it used more.
I think you could have benefited from another editing pass or two; the main issue is the tense shifts that crop up here and there. There are also some sections that don’t flow as neatly as the majority of the story. The paragraph that opens “Hold up!”, for example, repeats “air” and “ripple” too many times for such a short set of text. It’s jarring and draws the reader out of the story.
I think you made the right choice with the limited cast - I know I always try to cram too many characters and settings into shorter wordcounts. There was some good banter, too. Neither character felt particularly deep, though. It’s a limitation of the shorter format but something you could perhaps have focused more on.
I’ve gone back and forth on the ending a few times but ultimately I found it satisfying. You present Sarris as someone who is ultimately caught up in what they have lost; not everybody in a situation like this is going to be the future leader of the resistance. Having said that, using Trenton as a contrast - in particular, the line “And we use this place for something” - was very effective. I’d like to see that uncertain determination teased out a little more but it still works as it is.
Overall, a fun read that makes good use of the prompt. Thanks for taking it on!
|# ? Aug 28, 2020 09:17|
|# ? Jun 28, 2022 15:18|
Crits for QuoProQuid and Hawklad – Week 420
QPQ and I swapped stories before submitting and he was probably the biggest reason I didn’t DM. I got help from a winner! I cannot claim any credit for the awesomeness that is this story.
QuoProQuid – Keep on Truckin’
Prompt assessment: Inanimate object prompt and a revenge story at that.
Story summary: MC takes a trucking job where the first thing he learns is not to gently caress his truck. He thinks it’s ludicrous until he does it and his essence is transported into the truck. Finding others who also fell victim inside the truck they go on a trip to kill T.A. Peterbilt. When they arrive at his gravesite they find Peterbilt there also inside a truck. They smash each other to bits but the lust for trucks remains.
Execution: Compared to what I read ahead of time, this story is much tighter. All of the bits were already there. But you chopped out all the extraneous stuff and kept the parts that build the MC up and describe his descent into the lust promised on his first day of work. All of the descriptors for men who are falling prey to the heterosexual attractions of the trucks are really good. And they help identify it in others later. It seems weird to say it, but your truck people have so much personality and characterization. Morgan and Doug are a bit indistinguishable, but there’s only so much you can do with the word count as you have it.
Despite originally thinking that the reason for Peterbilt’s truck design being underwhelming, the way it reads now is spot on. Maybe it’s the “weird pervert” line and how straight it’s said that brings it together. And then the immediate reaction of the other truck makes it no longer feel like the crux of the story that it seemed before to me.
I especially appreciate how this story flows. From one scene to another I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not seeing what’s cut out. I think I’ll be analyzing this story for a bit longer to help me understand what I can’t seem to do with people but you can do with hunks of metal. Thanks for writing!
Hawklad was the contributor of my story and he was the recipient of a SurreptitiousMuffin prompt. I love muffin prompts so I wanted to see what he did with it.
Hawklad – Imperfect Creations
Prompt assessment: All the hallmarks of Muffin: Dark fantasy/horror, eccentricity, desperation.
Story Summary: Clay worker is attempting to make a special creation. He has failed up to now. He goes to get more reagents and runs into an old colleague who betrayed him and now makes inferior pots. He visits his dead wife at the cemetery and collects an ingredient there. When he returns to his workshop he is ambushed by his former colleague and has his assistant kill him.
Execution: More words, please! I think this story vacillates between setting the scene and telling the story and the two didn’t have time to harmonize. Though the scene setting is sufficient to set the dingy, haunting atmosphere. I also think the story stops just as I desperately want it to continue. I want to see if Josef can create what he wants or instead creates a thing he does not want. I want to know why he’s so sure that people essence will create a stronger pot. I want to know exactly what Gustav is. Obviously all of this was never going to fit in 2420 words, but as of now the story only touches on each of these aspects. We don’t truly get to see Josef’s obsession or what he is capable of. Why does he think making a clay version of his wife is possible? Is he just mad or is there something more to this? What is so toxic in his clay that he needs salve?
And there’s not much about Josef himself except the obsession. I don’t think we even get to see how he felt about his wife other than what Antonio said. Was that true? Was it drunken talk? While I wish I had all of the answers to these questions, the fact that I can ask them and be interested in their answers means that Josef is written as a mysterious character that I do want to know more about. Antonio is a bit underdeveloped. I can’t tell exactly how he feels about Josef.
I like everything that’s here. I just want more. More details and more story.
|# ? Aug 28, 2020 17:29|
crits for my prompt, and some crits for tat
fumblemouse - Mr Boltzmann's Questionable Legacy
First of all, thank you very much for writing a story for my prompt, and I overall enjoyed it as well!
However, I’d like to start with a negative. This story has its biggest flaw at the start, because it is very confusing to get into it. The sentence “I am waking up to who I am, and receiving flashes of who I used to be.” makes it very hard to understand that we’re going from present to flashback. This is coupled with a very interesting first sentence that begs expansion – but doesn’t get that until the flashback is over – and a second sentence that even on re-read makes no sense to me.
I understand that you want to start in medias res and then establish character before starting the plot proper, but I think spending a little more time on your first scene would help, as would finding a better (less poetic?) bridge between present and past.
Said flashback is good, though. I enjoy the rapid-fire images – I consider myself and have been told a very “visual” writer, and indeed I like writing like I’m transcribing scenes of a movie I see playing in my head. So this montage structure makes sense and appeals to me (and yes, the cold open does too, I just didn’t like the space it got and the transition). I’m afraid I don’t get the “business with a laser pistol” sentence, though.
The transition back to the present is also a little awkward, mostly due to tense choices – you use present tense during the flash-forward portion of the flashback, as the protagonist reaches their current state of being a weapons platform, and the final sentence before the end states “we’re losing”, so continuing with present tense doesn’t indicate enough that the flashback is over. You could have easily used past tense for the war effort: after all, the desperate plan of using the comet was only formed AFTER protag’s side clearly realized their imminent loss, and you do later talk about said plan in the past tense (“it was always a risk”).
What I’m getting at is that present tense during the montage portion was fine, but for the flash forward it’s no longer.
I like the reveal and slow buildup of what the protag’s situation was so far and what it’s turning out to be. There are some awkward parts, though, and those are mostly related to the voice of the protagonist. I think you’re trying a little too hard to give him an attitude despite a literal century (or more?) of military servitude, and it comes off as super forced. Especially the swearing, not that I’m generally against it at all, but it needs to have a place that’s not mouthing off to a computer protag should be extremely used to working with. My personal least favorite paragraph includes a clumsy bracket and the word “piss”.
The clear climax of this part is protag realizing that this is the end of everything. You’re building up well to that, but I think it could be a bigger realization. A more pressing issue is that once the bomb hits, you’re trying to explain (or at least, pun intended, handwave) it with quantum babble and that’s just superfluous and takes away from the reveal. You should, imo, use this space to transition better into exploring protag’s feelings about their radically new situation. I think your “this is it then” paragraph contains all the relevant parts – mention of how the war is now completely pointless, nonetheless remorse for protag’s comrades and their failed struggle, the acceptance of their fate – but it’s pretty matter-of-fact. Yes, they are cool and aloof and a little edgy, but this should rattle everyone.
I love the ending – it’s a great callback to the time the protag was still human, and it is, ironically, where they are most human in the entire story. It does also feel earned because they first have to figure out that they can fire the lasers regardless of their hands. One small issue: it’s not entirely clear before this point that they needed the hands to ADJUST the lasers, as opposed to, well, the hands HOLDING the lasers as you might assume.
Overall though, as I said at the start, enjoyable, and became better as it went on.
Preface to these: I didn't read the prompt outlines before critting, then re-read them later.
a friendly penguin - Many Paths to Peace
This story has a lot of elements that appeal to me, but they don’t fully come together to give me something I fully enjoy. It’s not bad by any means, but I feel it needs to lose, like, one theme/element to gain the focus on the good parts it needs.
Of course! This might be because the prompt demanded all of these elements must be in. Then a rewrite without that restriction might be simple, and give the story the focus on the good parts it needs. Lord knows I wouldn’t have written a single word about a steampunk setting if I wasn’t forced to.
Anyway, the elements in the story:
• There’s fighting alien ships with mechs, so pure action.
• There’s something about addiction to a superdrug, which seems to be used by the military to keep soldiers in almost eternal servitude.
• Jumping off that, the fight seems to be hinted at to be practically pointless - there’s no serious progress, it works in “shifts” like the generals of either side are just playing.
• We have a buddy thing going on with protag (Phil) and Gupta.
All of these are lacking something.
• the action parts are strangely weightless, like Phil knows nothing serious is going to happen. There’s a lot of punches and counterattacks that do not really seem to affect the combatants: no alien ship violently explodes, human mechs crash but the pilots are rescued etc.
It leads to a certain lack of tension, and makes me wonder about the true stakes. See below tho
• the drug theme is intertwined with what the characters really want - a true cigarette, a good meal. I like that, but there needs to be more of that. It gives you good beginnings of a characterization of the two pilots, but they are strangely matter-of-fact about probably never getting their addiction replaced by actually good feels related to their luxury items, and also their very crippling addiction is treated a bit like “well sucks, anyway let’s fight more aliens”
• so the military is basically just playing videogames here. It does seem to me like they at some point made a secret pact with the alien leaders to keep the war going for mutual benefit of the higher-ups, and that’s a cool thing to explore especially coupled with the bloodlessness of the combat, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I would also imagine it’s pretty tough to pull off. It could be a key theme - play more with how much fun Phil seems to have kicking alien butt, with the artificial high from the Drenodrip - but as it stands now, I’m not even sure if you’re going for that
• the ending hinges on Phil and Gupta’s bromance. I find little of that before, however. They do save each other’s asses, but because the stakes seem so low, it’s rarely presented as a matter of life or death (and loss of your best friend). They seem to need to win to get out of the game, over their addiction, back home and get their luxuries, but the need isn’t shown as driving enough. Make them have a pact about finishing their contracts together, or something like that. Make them take risks to “feed” each other more alien kills to get a higher “score”, where if it was an actual war with people’s lives at stake, they’d be more careful. This is what I can see between the lines, but currently it’s not explored enough.
Overall, I always think a story that makes me want more, speculate how it could be exactly what I want, is one that’s worth way more than one where I go “meh, not my style”. It’s great for that reason. Give me more and better space combat with two space combat buddies, and make it a really weird war, imo!
~ will now read the prompt ~
The prompt mostly hinges on “peace” and “addiction”. You brought both parts in, but didn’t seem to meld them together well. For example, I didn’t get the title - after all, there’s no real effort towards peace, I don’t think? In fact, quite the opposite (as I said, I got the impression of an artificial forever war). The addiction is clear-cut, but interesting in the sense that it’s a FORCED addiction. That’s a good twist, and I think the stronger part of the story. Considering my musings above re: what I think your story could be, I think the peace part could be turned a lot more interesting as well, and in a way Phil and Gupta are both addicted to the idea of making peace through war, eh? eh??
Schneider Heim - The Knight and the Necromancer
This was pretty enjoyable, though I must admit I have a soft spot for necromancers. My biggest issue right up front: exposition. There’s a lot of names dropped early, then more later on, then some backstory is explained...it’s not TERRIBLE, and I think there is a time and place in a story to just lay down some concepts, but you’re crossing the line with some of said concepts and paragraphs of explanation.
Example of things that could easily be cut to simplify the story: the names of both the Proud King and the Demon Lord. There’s a bit about how uttering his name might summon the latter, but that’s cliché (we all read Harry Potter), easily and instantly dispelled by Jerlyt, and doesn’t add anything to the later plot. Also, you mention king Lennonhart’s name exactly once, when you introduce him. Title is more important than name, so nix the name imo.
To things I like: your dialogue works mostly well for me, and I like Tayla’s boldness and Jerlyt’s pragmatism. Those are likeable characters interacting well with each other. That’s a great core for the heart of your story, and a major reason for why I enjoyed it overall. The ending is pretty funny but not overly so, albeit the sweet food thing is a little weird to me.
Negatives: proofreading. Missing quotation mark at some point. “wrods”. Some more.
There’s a lot of extraneous info both in half and full sentences that could be cut, improving flow and costing nothing. Jerlyt’s cousin: it doesn’t really matter that he’s in charge of the wall defenses, but bad at it or whatever. Either you expand that to flesh out the world (a lot of people are lost in the siege, but it could be far less casualties if her cousin wasn’t so incompetent, or something like that), or you make the reader imagine something for themselves by Jerlyt going “technically I have a cousin but gently caress that guy” out loud.
Similarly, Tayla saying “I shall spare you the gory details” is super pithy and I think one of two things would work far better: her going “obviously I had to murder him for this attempt”, and the reader (and Jerlyt) can fill in that and possibly why becoming a golem vessel is not a fun thing, or you let her drop some gory necro words after all to show more about her own pragmatic attitude to the craft and add some fun horror flavor.
Finally: who cares about the sword only Jerlyt’s grandfather can wield? Not the story, apparently. Ars’ origin story is apparently completely independent of said sword anyway, something with another guy and history written and mists? I have no interest in deciphering that and apparently neither does Jerlyt, despite it being quite relevant to possibly exonerate her grandfather. Make me care or leave it out!
And just a personal pet peeve: please please please write some words about the holy sword of moonlight smiting the Demon Lord. I need to see him be cleaved, I crave the dumb awesome fantasy action. Don’t leave me hanging cmon
Overall, as I said, I’d love to see the characters do more. Excellent desperation plot. You set up some fun things. But write those out! And restrain yourself from putting in more details than you need. Then you got a really nice thing going, imo.
~ prompt reading time ~
Huh, I didn’t get that Tayla was a compulsive liar at all. In fact, I thought Jerlyt was the protagonist, so that isn’t quite prompt adherence either. Doesn’t really matter to me, just something I noticed now. None of the irrelevant details I mentioned seem forced by the prompt, so out with them I say.
|# ? Aug 28, 2020 21:24|
Signups are closed!
|# ? Aug 29, 2020 07:11|
crabrock - "Not All is Cricket in Cricketsburg"
This is a fun, goofy story that fits in some seamless worldbuilding without ever getting bogged down in it. Sped the spider is likable despite being kind of a mess (love the detail about him not tipping the Uber driver), and I wanted him to succeed; the other characters are just kind of goofy foils but I think that works. The story kind of loses its focus once Sped sits down in the therapist's office, in my opinion – there's less cute details about the bug world, and the last scene feels kind of tacked on (maybe to fit some part of the prompt?)
I think the highlight of the story is just the slice-of-life buggishness, though. The point-of-view is never too serious, but it's never rib-pokingly goofy, either, so the little bug details are great and leave me wanting more. Like, of course the spider gets discount rents high above the ground, of course he's not happy with eating moths and feels dissatisfied by flies. It's a little Zootopia in how the spider can't eat the bugs in everyday life but the web is fair game.
It's definitely the kind of playful thing that feels fun to write and held my interest from the first paragraph. I even did a dramatic reading of this.
|# ? Aug 29, 2020 15:33|
Crit for cptn_dr
The Good So this was a fun little story overall, with a healthy dose of weird - making it largely what I was looking for when I asked for a mixed-genre story.There was ambiguity on what the archipelago is, but honestly I think in the context of a <2420 word count story, that's fine and arguably good. There's not much space for dicking around with exposition and world building here, and what the archipelago is is less important than what it does. There were some good moves in the saloon scene that did work blending the western genre with the fantasy/sci-fi that got picked as the mixer, and honestly if I had to pick of a place to do world building, then this would be it.
The Bad I could have used more story. You got in well under the word count alotment, and this is a story that could have been fleshed out quite a bit more. Part of this is just bias from being the submitter of the prompt, but most if it is me legitimately being interested to know more about this protagonist, the other people in this weird aspirational boomtown, and what sort of world has magic/nanofactory/bioengineered/noneuclidian islands popping up along the coast.
The Ugly I'm going to agree with crabrock that the Undertaker and needy pet aspects of the prompt got handwaved away. I was hoping to see these two aspects come out more, but they kind of got a passing mention to tick the boxes, and no more.
But overall I was amused and entertained to read a weird story that I sort of suggested!
|# ? Aug 29, 2020 16:12|
Thunderdome Week XL: Poor Richard's Thundervision
A little bit late
Queen of the Mist
I never loved my husband for his money until he died. When he was alive and gainfully employed, we ate Oysters Rockefeller, I had a closet of fancy hats, and once we even traveled out to St. Louis by rail to see the bison. We had a child too, but every sunny blue sky turns to rain clouds eventually.
A can of beans lasts for two meals if you aren’t very active. I’ve been selling our old life piecemeal to pay the bills; each room had several spots where our belongings had lived, but were now just gaps of pristine wallpaper: unscuffed and not sun bleached. Sears & Roebuck has generously agreed to take back the gramophone my husband had purchased as an anniversary gift. Wanting to listen to a record one last time, I pull out A Bird in a Gilded Cage from the bottom of the now-empty blanket chest. Inside was an insert—an advertisement in muted color—for Niagara Falls.
“It does look majestic,” I’d said to him. “Maybe we could go.”
I put the record on and the soothing vocals of Harry Anthony filled the room, echoing off the bare spots where furniture had been.
He’d laughed and kissed me on my forehead. “Whenever you’d like,” he’d said.
Well he’d lied, because I wanted to go now, only we couldn’t. A tear rolls down my cheek as I listened to the story of a girl who’d married for money instead of love. Perhaps it’s the music, or the machinations of a bean-addled mind, but plans form. Crazy plans. Impossible plans. I would go to Niagara falls. Whenever. Just not together.
I sit back down on my lucky heart-shaped pillow and scan around the room at the few remaining items that I haven’t sold. Of them, most are those I wanted to hold onto the longest, the ones I couldn’t yet bear to let go. But a rumbling stomach is great at killing sentimentality, and there’s not much left. Then my eyes fall on the chiffarobe we’d inherited from his mother. Despite its overbearing presence, I’d almost forgotten about it. The only reason it was still in the house is that it was ugly as original sin, and I would probably have to pay for them to drag it to the dump by carriage.
The chifforobe was solid oak though. I walked out back to David’s shed and picked up his axe.
Niagara falls is noticeably less impressive just a quarter mile upriver. There are no tourists or gawkers, just a gentle river flowing through verdant meadows. I ensure the rope to my barrel is tied securely to a tree then push it into the river. It splashes and bobs, but quickly settles right-side up.
I open my picnic basket and remove the alley cat I’d trapped. “It’s ok, you’re just going for a little ride.” I gently lower the cat into the barrel and get a scratch on my wrist for my efforts. I should have just thrown it in.
I latch the barrel from the outside and unmoor it from the shore. The river is slow, and I’m able to outpace the barrel and quickly walk along the banks until I reach the edge of the falls. I start screaming to anybody who will listen about a baby in a barrel. Word spreads fast, and by the time the barrel is visible, picking up speed as it heads towards the falls, quite a crowd has gathered against the handrails, gasping and pointing at my lie.
The barrel plunges over the edge and disappears into the mist.
The crowd flows down the hill around me, bubbling loudly as we arrive at the barrel being pulled to shore by two policemen.
I push my way to the front of the crowd as they pry off the top with an iron crow.
“My baby!” I cry. “Save my baby!” Nobody asks how a baby would have ended up in a barrel, and I’m not inclined to offer any explanation.
By the time the top is off I’m at the barrel, and I climb up onto an overturned fruit crate and peer in. The cat jumps at my face with a nasty scowl, and I narrowly avoid getting a matching gash on my face.
The cat tears off into the bushes.
“My baby kitty, she’s alive!”
The crowd groans and a few people peel off, unhappy that they didn’t get to see a mangled child. The coppers fetch the cat out of the bushes and bring it back. I take it from them and hold it in my arms.
She’s bleeding a little bit from her tumble, but otherwise in good health. I walk to the other side of the barrel where I’d painted my logo. I place the kitten on top of the barrel and hold out my hands.
“Behold, Your Queen of the Mist!” I hold my arms outstretched. “In two days time, I shall myself attempt to survive the barrel plunge over Horseshoe Falls, being the first woman in history to survive such a feat!” A flashbulb goes off.
I recruited new friends with the promise of a share of the riches. They locked me in and pumped the barrel full of air. I think they’re saying something to me, but I can’t hear anything but mumbles. I’m not even sure when the barrel is set free down the river, but it must have already happened, because I haven’t heard mumbling in some time.
In the two days since I sent the cat over the falls, I’d sold the remaining items and returned the house keys to the bank.
All that’s left now is this heart-shaped pillow and my future. I sit in the dark silence, bobbing, waiting.
I think about the things they’d write, the memoirs of the first woman to survive the trip. Something daring. Something special. Something unique. As if the weeks leading up to this moment weren’t harder. Only I hadn’t chosen to take that plunge.
This time would be different. I feel the lurch of the barrel picking up speed. This time I wouldn’t be so foolish. The barrel creeks as it spins in the swells. This time I wouldn’t let a smooth talking boy from Auburn woo me on love alone. I brace against the inside as the world seems to fall out from under me. I’d shine a thousand lights with riches at my command. This time, I was in it for the money.
|# ? Aug 29, 2020 22:46|
more week 420 crits, still working backwards but skipping around for REASONS.
26. The Saddest Rhino
I mean, I feel like your title pretty much sums up this one. I liked the “lick-your-own-adventure” and the part where he pooped a lot. I would not like to read more.
Took me too long to understand roughnecks were aliens. Not sure really what the relationship between humans and aliens are. Does he live on their homeworld or something? Is this some sort of mutual planet? He says “their” cities, so I’m feeling lost on who is who and what is what. Unfortunately that really takes away from my enjoyment of this story, since i’m so confused on what the setting is, and what is happening. Then the dad just tells me a bunch of things that happened in the past and it’s not really exciting or interesting for him to recount a few details like that. His interactions with the aliens are likewise just kinda meh and his death doesn’t feel satisfying or sad it’s just “um, ok.” this story would do better probably seeing some direct action. A conflict with Tammy, him getting the letter, or him hearing she’d died. That would allow for more emotional appeal. The aliens seem comically stereotypical in a story that doesn’t seem like they’re supposed to be?
This story man, I dunno. I kinda got that it was maybe some like, dude that was abandoned on the moon base and then decided to declare himself king or whatever, and there’s some AI thing that’s in his head or maybe he’s just nuts? But anyway also there’s some alien cloud that’s hosed up earth and the crazy guy finds out he can gently caress it up by launching giant chunks through it, but also maybe loving up the Earth beyond?
Maybe there’s enough clues there for me to sort it out, but honestly it was a little bit of a struggle to read through this, and I don’t want to figure it out. Reading your prompt, i see where you got some of it, but i never felt that there were alternate dimensions or cells disintegrating. Maybe you stuck that in there somewhere but it wasn’t enough for me to remember.
How does something linger below the atmosphere… it goes all the way to the ground. World building paragraph no no. tsk tsk. I have absolutely no idea what this light gun is doing loading files “it’s just light” well um ok. Brb gonna load up butts.txt in a bitcoin wallet cause “it’s just 1s and 0s.” “Sarris confidently strides” tsk tsk again man. When you find yourself using an adverb, think to yourself “does this adverb change the way somebody would normall interpret this verb, or am I using it instead of illustrating something?” Striding is pretty confident, generally, the definition is “decisive steps.” instead, have him stride into the bunker and say/do something that gives us just a sentence more of characterization. Those sentences really build up throughout a story, and you should be taking the opportunity when you can. “without a second thought” ok you’ve told me he’s decisive twice in the same sentence. Then, the VERY NEXT sentence they “carefully make their downtown.” which A) I think that’s a typo, and B) what was the point of all the confidence only to then be careful? Whiplash. “Sarris takes a single look back.” GAH now you just undid the “without a second thought.” make up your mind! If you want to have him second guessing himself A) don’t say “HE’S DEFINITELY NOT SECOND GUESSING HIMSELF. JK HE IS” and B) show me this. Show me him stride into the bunker, slam the door shut, then start down the stairs only to slow to a stop and slowly turn around, taking a long look at the door. These random paragraphs of world building are pretty boring. Stuff like this would be better to see in action. Like start your story with this whole attack / escape and then pick up where your current story starts. I have no idea what the relationship between Sarris and Mr. NewJersey is… i thought sarris was a hired mercenary, but then he says he hired NJ? “if anything, the commands from a man a foot shorter with half his body mass were absurd” head jumping. If your POV character is Sarris, don’t tell me how trenton feels. Instead, show me the indignation and then tell me how Sarris feels about being so obviously not respected. ““Alright. But maybe next time hire two bodyguards.”
[size=109]“Maybe think about lowering your price.” see I like this, this tells me a lot with a few words. Do more like this. “From his cover, he sees Sarris fire wildly from the open. In Sarris’s mind, he’s sharp. “ who what now? Who is he? “Memories of his” WHOSE? The orb is the last thing you talked about. Is the orb a dude having these memories? If not, tell me whose, and don’t mix the actions of something with the thoughts of somebody else. “Trenton grabs his arm,” what you’ve written here is that trenton is grabbing his own arm. “As Sarris becomes conscious” if you’re gonna have somebody lose consciousness, at least have a paragraph break and some sort of notice that that has happened, this was very jarring. Anyway I really don’t want to read this anymore so I’m moving on. Looking up to your prompt, looks like you nailed all of it...but forgot that the prompt is the thing that should inspire you to tell a good story.[/size]
This opening paragraph has some good words and then way too much information. I’m not 100% sure what the age difference between Sue and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay is. “ the fact she only had one eye gave more doubts.” haha that might have been nice to know earlier. “closed one eye to aim anyways, it wasn’t in the way no how” people are eye dominant like they are hand dominant. It could matter which eye. Just a fyi. Cut the whole bandit scene imo. The first time she fires the gun should be at her ex. I trusted you she was a good shot (or show it earlier with some cans or something). Ending is too on the nose. It’s her telling him things we already know. Get rid of that. Shorten the prologue backstory. I didn’t buy the relationship between luiz and her. She never seemed receptive. You could do with some more illustration of her reluctance to be with a man again. Delve into the fear she has. Show her rejecting him a bit more, then looking at him or whatever. Make me buy it. There’s a good story here hiding in the chaff. Nailed the prompt.
17. Chopstick Dystopia
If you’re gonna have a witty title you better earn it. “Hahahahahaha!” ugh don’t write like it’s an internet chat. I hope this is a noir prompt or something cause ugh. “Parts scream silently when touched” unf. “She looks at my penis - probably involuntary - then the blood and bile on the floor, then my face, then my penis again - that second time she might have been checking me out.” yeah do more of this. I’m up to the game going south while they’re in the bar and tbh i’m not seeing why this lost. It’s pretty decent so far, besides the rough start. You must really poo poo the bed here bub. “He’s fat and Asian” this is the second time you’ve mentioned “asian” and since your character doesn’t seem outwardly racist that ends up leaking back to you. Make sure that if you’re going to be a dick, that it’s your character being a dick and that we don’t for a second doubt that it’s his racism, not jarring out of nowhere like “errrrr.” third “pierce the veil” and i have no idea what that means. “A demon.” I say. Oh. this is where you poo poo the bed.“Theoretical Fringe Reconnaissance,” the Captain says. “TFR,” I say. Hey that’s the name of the show!
Yeah ok this was pretty bad at the end but honestly i woulda pushed for CaligulaKangaroo to get the loss over this. There was the middle stretch which I was into. It’s just a pretty good sandwich on poo poo bread. You let the prompt dictate the story too much, then went and took a probable typo and decided to do it literally, so hard you needed to point it out IN the story. Ouch. also, you didn’t earn your definition of terminal velocity title imo.
crabrock fucked around with this message at 02:12 on Aug 30, 2020
|# ? Aug 30, 2020 02:07|
I JUDGE!!!!!! ME ME ME!!!
|# ? Aug 30, 2020 09:25|
MockingQuantum fucked around with this message at 05:49 on Jan 5, 2021
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 01:23|
The donkey enjoyed the mints, but decided not to go on TV again
“Welcome to Body Match!” shouted the announcer. He hit one of the buttons in front of him and the studio audience roared with applause.
“Today’s contestants are--”
Bob’s bodiless head, encased in the best jar that washed-up-actor money could buy, ignored the line of contestants, eyes fixed on the announcer’s real-human body.
The bear chewed on the leather straps that held in it its booth and eyed the donkey’s hairy hindquarters.
The donkey might have wondered how it got there, except that it was a donkey, and they don’t tend to waste their time wondering about things like that.
“And, a radioactive blob!”
The blob rubbed its ectoplasmic pedipalps together and stared at Bob’s head.
“Let’s begin!” The announcer hit another button and the audience shut up.
“Contestant number one, why would your body be a match for--”
A spinning metal rotor sprung from the top of Bob’s jar. As his head zipped into the air a buzzsaw extended from the jar’s bottom on a thin metal arm. A devilish grin split Bob’s face and his eyes flamed with imminent triumph.
The announcer screamed and shielded his neck with his arms. Under his bowtie the skin was criss-crossed with scars. He knew it was a cruel joke that they put him up here as the host for this show, but they’d threatened to put him on the cat body, even though they knew he was allergic! Allergic!!!
The blob glowed bright green with radioactive power and levitated from its seat. It had come on this gameshow to get a head and it wasn’t about to lose just because the head had gone berserk.
The bear roared and bit through the last of its restraints. It could almost taste that sweet, sweet donkey hide. With drool flailing from its jaws the bear launched itself over the wall of its booth.
The donkey watched as the blob snagged Bob’s rotor with a tentacle. The jar wobbled in the air and the blob hurtled around it. Bob tried to cut the blob loose with his buzzsaw, and the donkey had to duck to avoid getting sprayed with radioactive slime.
Then Bob and his blob-copter were torpedoed by a flying bear.
Bob had never wanted it to turn out this way. From his first movie role as hench-head no. 12 to the day his third wife left him with his mortgaged-to-all-hell mansion and her damned rug-pissing dog, all Bob had really wanted was to be treated as a whole person. But it was no use. No matter what accolades he won or how much money he made, all people ever saw was a head in a jar. He’d given up, would have drank himself to death if his jar’s life support system wasn’t so bloody effective. So he’d decided. It had taken Bob a long time to convince his agent to get him onto Body Match. Now that he was here he didn’t want to waste another second without the announcer’s body attached firmly to his neck.
The bear weighed 300kgs and was travelling at almost 10 meters per second. While the force resulting from such an impact is impossible to calculate, it was sufficient to smash Bob’s jar to smithereens and cause the radioactive blob to meld with the bear’s body, mere milliseconds too late to stop the bear’s jaws from snapping instinctively shut on Bob’s head.
Ghosty tentacles sprung from the bear’s chest and slapped against its face.
You ursine bastard, you ate my head! wailed the blob.
The radioactive bear shook itself in confusion as Bob’s last wish flooded its consciousness. The stage shook as Bob-blob-bear, its body writhing with luminous tentacles, spun around to face the announcer.
Bored, the donkey smashed open its booth’s gate with two double-barrelled kicks. The studio audience gave a mighty cheer of approval. The donkey would have bowed, only it didn’t want to. It trotted past the announcer, who was gibbering behind his podium.
The donkey stopped.
Its nostrils flared.
If it was not very much mistaken there were mints in that man’s pocket. And that was not where mints were supposed to be.
Mints were supposed to be in the donkey’s mouth.
Radioactive Bob-blob-bear smashed the podium aside with one meaty paw. Bob’s posthumous ego revelled in the audience’s frenzied stomps and whistles. The beast flexed its radioactively-enhanced muscles and fired off a couple of laser beam shots from its eyes, burning holes in the ceiling tiles.
The announcer saw his chance and rushed towards the fire exit. The donkey cantered close behind him, nosing his suit pockets. Lost in a minty dream, the screams of the audience and the bear’s growls faded to silence. There was nothing but the donkey’s nose and the fabric puzzle before it. The donkey breathed deep. In. Out. Mints...
The announcer slammed the fire exit door open. His trouser leg ripped easily in the donkey’s teeth, spilling its secret contents just as the bear, green lasers leaving a smoking trail across the studio walls, hurtled after him into the dark.
The city rang with the sound of sirens until late into the night, and ratings for Body Match went through the roof.
“Welcome to Body Match!” growled the announcer. The audience stamped and whistled as the announcer gave the reinforced ceiling a couple of zaps with his laser eyes. He waved a luminous tentacle towards the booths.
“Tonight’s contestants are--”
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 01:54|
Mellix and the Goblins
Word Count: 936
The first thing a Tellurian architect learns is the story of Mellix and the Goblins.
Long, long ago, when the air was still warm and the moon was still in pieces, the Gods deigned to visit their children. On a whim, they would come down and treat us like their personal playthings. Artis would turn into a magnificent buck, antlers like a hedge in winter, and run circles around the hunters until they shot all their arrows. Lorm would go to festivals, drink all the beer and offer a bag of gold to whoever outwrestled him, which no one has ever won. Lenna would walk into weddings, push the bride out of the way, and take her place for the night. And Mellix would appear to artisans, demand a commission, then find a reason to not pay.
Whenever one of his artists finished a piece, Mellix would make himself known. At the last stroke of a brush or clack of a loom or chip of stone, he would poof into the room a noxious cloud of lavender, feathers, and glitter. Half of the time, he would sniff, turning his nose up before stomping out of the room. The other half, he would proclaim “This is derivative,” and lament how hard it was to be a critic, knowing that everyone had done a terrible job. He quickly became treated like a troublesome uncle: honored, respected, and quickly left at the earliest available opening. No one was a real artist until they had been stiffed by Mellix; demurring his requests became something of an occupational hazard.
One day, Mellix decided that he needed a summer house, for parties. He popped in to the largest square in the largest city in the world and made a proclamation: he needed somewhere worthy of housing him and promising a prize worthy of his glory. And for the most part, everyone ignored him. At least, until he promised that he would accept the best one and reward the architects as befits a God. Three architects decided to take his challenge: one a salamander, one a minotaur, and one a human. And some goblins tried, too.
The salamander dove deep into the caves, plucking beautiful gems from underground riverbeds. She gathered gold from the ores deep under the earth, smelting them with her own breath, making tiny bricks with her fingernails and mortaring them together with molten silver. She created a palace kings could dream of and that only a mouse could fit in. When Mellix saw it, he promptly kicked it over. “I can’t host parties in here,” he yelled. “My guests would get smushed when I tried to push them through the door!”
The minotaur went to the oldest forest and whispered to the trees resting therein. The oldest trees gave up their resting grounds, making a clearing in forest only dryads had set foot in. He carved furniture out of fallen logs, beautiful pieces of rich, dark teak and engraved them with scenes from history. When he felt it was done, he called for Mellix. Mellix showed up and said, “This isn’t a house. Houses have walls. Where would we go when it rains?”
The human knew that nothing would make Mellix happy; that he would find fault with whatever anyone gave to him. Pleasing a god was like pleasing an unfamiliar cat. But she could trick him and become the first artist that had ever pleased the god. She bought one of the dilapidated manner houses and fixed the entirety of the exterior and filled the interior with the finest furniture, commissioning murals for the walls. And then, before calling Mellix, she closed it off. Every door and every window was sealed shut, plastered and smoothed over with concrete. At the last stroke of the mortar, he appeared.
“What on earth is this?” he asked.
“This is your house,” she said.
“This isn’t a house. This is a box.”
She reassured him that it was a house that no one could ever judge him for, that the inside was filled with the finest treasures and that he was the only one that could use it. She promised him the riches inside, the beautiful swirl of the paint and figures carved into the chairs, of the beauty contained within. And that by no one ever seeing it, that no one could ever judge him. She made him an idea.
And he told her it was stupid and that he wanted a house. "No one can have friends in an idea," he told her. He demanded she change it, she refused and stormed away in a huff, leaving her expensive idea to take up space.
That was when the goblins approached and asked if they could try too. Mellix honked. “You? What could you possibly do? You can’t even make houses for yourself.” But they begged and he acquiesced, more out of curiosity than sportsmanship.
They huddled together, putting their brains together in hopes of coming up with an idea. With a great jumbling, they all came to a consensus. Grabbing whatever tools they found on the street, they rushed the box, attacking it until they had created a hole in the side.
“A door!” he yelled. “Finally I can get into my danged house! The goblins are the winner, no matter how derivative their work is! Take your prize!” he yelled.
And so, every architect learns three things:
1) Derivative artwork is often the one that gets purchased;
2) Why goblins fart out butterflies; and
3) Always figure out the terms of a contract before it’s complete.
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 02:43|
Extra Good News
The entire room was silent save the humming of computers and the buzzing comms that played over mission control’s speakers. Engineers, technicians, even the janitors all waited to hear Neil Armstrong’s first words upon setting foot on the moon.
“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
“We can hear you Commander Armstrong. Go ahead. Make history,” said CAPCOM Charles Duke.
“That’s one small step for a man, and… well that’s strange.”
The mission commander grabbed the microphone, brought it closer to his face and whispered. “What is it?”
“Well sir. There are frogs.”
“Frogs? On the moon?”
“Yessir, Frogs on the moon.”
“No, just regular frogs. Hopping around and everything. Come down real slow, it’s quite the sight.”
“How are they breathing?”
“Don’t know, sir. Just thousands of these little guys. Careful Buzz, don’t step on one.”
“Commander Armstrong, the scientists down here are scribbling in their notebooks. Are you sure you don’t have some sort of space madness?”
“Yeah, we both see them. Heck one has just landed on Buzz’s boot. Hey there little guy.”
The comms chirped and a new voice joined in. “Uh Houston, this is Captain Michael Collins, did I hear them say there are frogs on the moon?”
Charles gritted his teeth. “Um… indeed Captain Collins, that is what you heard.” He rubbed his eyes. “I am so sorry.”
“This is bullshit, you know how I feel about frogs. I was sad when you told me I wouldn’t be stepping foot on the moon. Felt a bit cheated, to be honest, but now you’re telling me that it’s filled with frogs? This is some grade A horseshit.”
“Sir, Neil again, the frogs seem to be aware of our presence. They are all hopping toward us. Gotta be millions of them. They seem to have a purpose.”
“Commander, if you’re in danger you need to get out of there.”
“No… I don’t think we are. They look happy. Welcoming. They are curious. Buzz has got like, at least 50 frogs on him now. They’re just looking up at him, licking at his suit with their little pink tongues.”
“Guys I just want to reiterate that this is complete bullshit, I should be the one down there meeting these frogs, and I plan to file a formal complaint when I get back.”
“Apologies again, Captain, but none of our calculations indicated the presence of frogs on the moon. I’m looking at the scientists right now. They’re shrugging. Nobody knows.”
“Houston, the frogs… many of them are hopping away in a line. I think they want us to go with them. We are following. It’s slow, being careful not to step on any frogs, but they trust us.”
“Please be careful, Commander.”
“I don’t feel afraid. I feel an inner peace, like they are beaming happy thoughts straight into my mind or something. I can’t describe the feeling. It’s like expecting bad news and somebody tells you ‘Well I have good news and… extra good news.’”
“Ok boys, I think that if I destabilize the orbit of the command module I can crash land in your general vicinity.”
“Um, Captain, please be advised that intentionally crashing the command module is not recommended at this time.”
“We are just over the ridge of a large crater now, and… my god, it’s full of frogs. The whole crater is just a sort of frog city. They have little skyscrapers that come up to my chin, little roads and little frog trains. It all looks made out of moon dust. They’re leading us around the city to a clearing. There’s some sort of rock there. I think they want us to examine it.”
Charles picked at his fingernails. “Well, is it some sort of gemstone? A data cache?”
“Awwwwww, it’s a carving of us. Of me and Buzz. Look at their little frog artisans go. My, they work fast. Wow, it really looks like you, Buzz.”
“I should be able to carry enough spare oxygen to survive jumping out of the command module. If I time it correctly, I think I can meet up with you guys down there. I have a gift for the frogs, it’s made of solid gold. It’s my wedding band. I hope they will accept my meager offering.”
“Again, Captain, please be advised that exiting the command module is not mission protocol, no matter how much spare oxygen you have.”
“I feel connected to the universe, to our place in it, and to every creature on Earth as I’ve never felt before. The frogs have given me a perspective on life, and I can’t explain it, but I understand the meaning of life. Buzz is nodding. There’s a tear rolling down his cheek he is so overcome with gratitude. Oh man, I’m crying too. It’s so beautiful.”
“Yeah, so I’m calculating I’m going to hit the ground at about 60 meters a second from this height, so I’m going to need one of you to break my fall. You may not survive.”
“Captain Collins, please do not crush any of your fellow astronauts to death. We advise that you remain inside the capsule to prepare the redocking of the lunar lander.”
“Houston, a small piece of the crater floor has opened and a small object is currently being lifted toward the surface. It looks like a statue. It is, it’s a tiny statue, of a man. The man is being hugged by a hundred frogs. Is it… Buzz, is that Michael? The entire frog city is doing a little dance now around the frog statue. I somehow understand every movement. They thank you, Michael. They thank you from the bottom of their little frog hearts for the sacrifice you have made. Oh god, I can’t stop crying, it is so pure and sweet.”
“Houston, this is Captain Collins. Requesting permission to bawl my eyes out.”
“They are carrying us now, Buzz and I and the sculptures, back to the lander. We are coming home and bringing with us a message of love, peace, and understanding. This has been one giant leap for man—and frog—kind.”
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 03:05|
Asking for Directions
When Jinel was away at college, her dad had discovered a wormhole in the attic. She worried about him, all alone in that house with just an interdimensional portal for company, but when she’d returned home for summer, he was giddy, grinning and humming through their game of Boggle. After Jinel bested him, he suggested swimming, but when he shucked off his shirt, he revealed a tattoo on his back. Between his shoulder blades was a map of their suburb, with a red X marking a street corner.
The X moved to a different location every time her dad took a trip through the portal, and so far, the maps had just led them to heaping, abandoned bags of take-out. One was at a local Chinese restaurant, and the other was at a Taco Bell. Jinel was a vegetarian and couldn’t have eaten anything in the bags, but her dad was as happy as a dog with a squeaky-toy. “If this thing gives us a free lunch every time, just think how much I’ll save in a year.”
“But you’ll have to walk around with a tattoo of a map to Taco Bell on your back.”
“A free tattoo,” her dad said.
Her dad was proud of his frugality; he wore T-shirts until there were holes on the front and dumped dozens of non-dairy creamers in his bag when Jinel took him out to breakfast. So when he said “Another try?” she knew he was hoping for more than a dozen Whoppers. “I know it’s going to give me some hidden treasure eventually,” he said, as he stepped through the wormhole. “These are just the consolation prizes.”
When he popped out again, five minutes later, the map on his back pointed to the forest behind Jinel’s old high school.
“I don’t see how this could be fast food,” Jinel said. “But don’t get too excited. It’s probably an abandoned six-pack of Bud Lite.”
“I thought I raised you better than that—you have to respect free beer. Anyway, I’ve got a good feeling that this time, it’s a treasure trove,” her dad said. She hadn’t seen him so excited since her mom died. He was always happiest when he had a project, like when he made Jinel a treehouse. He just got so frustrated when the project stalled, like when wasps moved into the treehouse.
“I just don’t want you getting disappointed.”
“Well, if it’s disappointing, I’ll just go again.”
The high school wasn’t far, so they hopped on bikes and were there in a few minutes. A couple of kids were tossing a football around on the field, and Jinel felt their strange looks as she cut through the woods with her shirtless dad. Don’t worry, kids, she wanted to tell them, we’re just tracking the map a wormhole put on my dad’s back.
It was hard to pinpoint the exact location of the X—there were no streets or buildings to orient them. At a point in their stumbling, the forest turned to swamp. The air was humid and lousy with gnats, and there were some suspiciously large footprints in a slick of mud.
“Dad, let’s go,” she said. “This one’s a dud.”
“The wormhole hasn’t let me down yet, and I don’t think it’s going to start now.”
And then the ground trembled so hard it knocked both Jinel and her dad on the ground.
Rising out of an algae-coated puddle came a claw, then another claw, and then a pair of black, delicate wings.
The dragon pulled its head up from the muck, flinging mud onto Jinel’s face and her dad’s back. Sparks sputtered from its mouth as it rose up to tower over them. Around one of its ears was a McDonald’s bag.
“Dad, I love you, but you have to know it’s time to go.”
But her dad wasn’t listening. He’d pulled out his phone and was fiddling with the buttons, squinting at the screen with a look of tight concentration. The dragon let out a loud roar, and one of its feet swung forward. Jinel pulled her dad by the arm and he moved aside, just in time to dodge the kick from the dragon’s clawed foot.
“How do I take a picture on this thing again, Jinny?”
The dragon let out a belch of flame, lighting a strand of pines ablaze. Jinel cringed and hoped the kids playing football would notice and call the fire department; the introduction of an invasive apex predator was clearly having a detrimental impact on the suburb’s ecosystem.
The dragon spread its wings, pulling itself all the way out of the swamp, and Jinel pulled her dad down behind a big boulder, while her dad finally opened the camera app.
“I’m curious,” Jinel said, whispering as they crouched behind the rock, “what exactly do you see when you jump into the wormhole?”
“Mostly dragons. Hungry dragons. You know, I think the wormhole is dragon Doordash.”
“I’m sorry—hungry dragons from another world asked you to bring you food, and you decided to eat it yourself? Were they all as big, sharp, and fiery as this one?”
“This is why I didn’t tell you. I knew you’d be like this. Miss Thinks She Knows Better Than Her Dad.”
“Dad, I’m twenty.”
“Why do I pay so much for your tuition if you already know everything?”
The dragon let out another roar, setting another section of the forest on fire, and a shadow crossed the two of them. The dragon was directly overhead, peering down at them with a merciless dragon glare. Jinel’s dad pulled out his phone and, having finally figured out the camera app, jabbed at the screen, lighting up the dragon’s face with a brilliant flash.
The dragon staggered back.
“Dad, I think you’re onto something.”
“All part of the plan,” he said, although Jinel suspected he just didn’t know how to turn the flash off. She took out her own phone and took a burst of photos, the flash going off again and again. The forest blazed as the dragon toppled onto its side.
“I’m sorry, friend,” Jinel called out to the dragon. “We’re just sensitive about forest fires in this dimension.”
“I’m sorry too,” Jinel’s dad said. “Next time I go through the wormhole, I won’t eat your lunch. I promise.”
“I’m also sorry,” the dragon said. Jinel and her dad jumped. The dragon had staggered to its feet. “For the fire. I’m just hungry, that’s all. I’ve heard the word is ‘hangry.’ They don’t have quick service restaurants in the dragon dimension. Think about that.”
Jinel thought about it. What would it be like to live in a world where you couldn’t get lo mein at 2 AM? She thought about all of the samosas, tacos, and pita pockets it would take to make a big dragon feel full.
“If you give us a ride,” Jinel said, “we’ll show you where you can get any kind of food you like.”
And then they all hopped on the dragon’s back and went to the food court.
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 03:10|
Most people don't scream like this kid, but then again, most people we deal with are drugged out of their gourd. But, it's tough to get midazolam these days, and It won't touch anyone with ketamine or heroin in their system. Won't have anything to do with junkies.
Well, that's not true, it does touch them. It just mauls them up and doesn't finish the job, if you get what I'm saying.
Anyway, we're out of midazolam, and this is sort of a rush job on account of the snitch problem. Not sure if this kid is the issue, but the Boss thinks so.
Step over there a second so I can get the door closed. Thanks. It's been sticking in this humidity and if you don't give it a good shove with your shoulder, it doesn't latch.
Metal? No. Wish it was that simple. It doesn't like iron any more than It likes junkies, so we gotta use oak. The new hinges are carbon fiber, for a blessing. When I started the hinges were carved hickory. There was this one August, about twenty years ago... it got so muggy we just had to barricade the door closed.
There, that's not so loud now. Go ahead and grab a coffee and a chair, this usually takes about twenty minutes, or so.
No, we don't deal with procurement down here, thankfully. We just deal with processing. By the time they get here, they should be sedated enough to not know where they are, but not enough that they can't walk. Ideally, anyway.
Personal effects go in the bin over there. Blank intake forms are in the top drawer of the desk. Make sure those get filled out completely as you can, and then leave them in Trish's basket on your way out. The medical history doesn’t have to be perfect, but try to get a full educational and work history, if you can. Marital status, kids' ages if they got them... you know the drill.
If we run out of forms, there's a mimeograph machine in the office. You ever use one of those? Don’t worry, it’s easy. They tried to get a xerox around the time I started… But It managed to get into the machine. The clerks all started getting nosebleeds and migraines, so we went back to the mimeograph. The ink stains like nothing else, and is a real pill to get out of clothes, so be mindful when you're refilling it. Also, watch your fingers around the print drum. Get careless and it’ll pinch the fire out of you.
Good God, that kid’s got lungs…
Ok, what else? Do you have a watch? Good. Make sure to reset it every morning before you come in. Add seven minutes for every half hour you've been at work, and that will get you pretty close to what the time should be. Expect your sleep to get weird for a few months, but you get used to it eventually. The up side is that it makes the shift fly by.
It’s not necessary to be completely accurate when filing out the times on the intake form, as long as you get it in the ballpark. Try your best, it’ll be fine.
The bell over by the door is how you know someone’s looking for us. If it rings twice, it means we’ve got a new intake coming in. They try to give us about a ten minute warning. If we’re in the middle of lunch, there’s usually time to finish up. Three rings means that someone in the office needs to see us about something. Usually just a clarification of some kind, but sometimes it’s just gossip, too.
Four rings means that we need to lock the door. Might be a raid, might be a visit by some bigwig. Either way they don’t need to be coming in here. When you hear it ring four times again, it’s all clear. Procurement will handle it, either way — just expect an unscheduled intake. Almost never happens, but now you know what to do if it does.
One ring means the Boss wants to talk with us.
The Boss never wants to talk to us.
If you start getting headaches or memory loss, talk to someone over in Medical, right away. We try to rotate shifts so we don’t get too fuzzy-headed. But occasionally, It gets extra froggy and starts to leak out a little. If you start feeling hazy, go down to the break room for an hour or so, have a soda, and things should clear up.
Do me a favor. Look through the peep hole and tell me what’s going on with that kid. It should have finished up by now, but he’s still screaming.
Well, this happens every now and then, usually with younger intakes. Something about youth puts It off. At least that’s what Medical says. Can’t say I blame It, I’m not a fan of veal either.
Pass me the long handled catch pole, over there in the corner. I can probably loop an ankle and drag him back out. Just be ready to get the door shut as soon as he’s clear, then we’ll get him down to the post-processing. We keep a little .22 pistol in the bottom drawer of the desk. Bring it along. It’ll be less messy there.
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 03:19|
My boyfriend Jake and I are special. We share a closeness, a lightness, an ease. It feels like we’ve been together longer than we actually have been. So when I see him pull onto our street with the rental RV, face bright and gleaming, my heart cannot help but thud.
“This is it?” I say, less of a question and more of an exclamation.
He reaches across the passenger’s seat, making a fumbling grab for the door. His pauch catches on the center console and his shirt lifts up just an inch, revealing just a hint of hair and flesh. I pretend I don’t see it. It’s easier for both of us.
“Yep! Got the car! Got the directions to the Lake! Got the ice box filled with food. It’s gonna be a good last weekend.”
I force a smile at the word ice box. It’s impossible to tell if it is an intentional affectation or some old saying from childhood worming its way to the surface. Jake’s older than I am, though he doesn’t like it when I bring it up.
Instead, I clamber into the vehicle beside him and take a moment to look around at the main cabin, still smelling of soap and plastic from the cleaning. I crane my neck around to look at a small wood-paneled kitchen with a yellowing refrigerator and dingy fluorescent light. My eyes travel to the back of the vehicle, an unlit bedroom filled with dark shapes. A double bed. A nightstand. A bag with enough clothes for three days.
I can feel Jake looking at me, admiring the shape of my body like its freshly hunted game. He scratches his beard.
“And you got the stuff?” He says.
“Yeah,” I say. “Of course.”
“Let’s see them.”
I blush, looking down the street for... I don’t know. A cop? A co-worker? A neighbor? Then, reaching into my purse, I pull out a sandwich bag overflowing with little round blue pills. Removed from the bottle, they look harmless, like candy hearts. I still don’t believe how easy it was for me to steal.
I look away from the bag but Jake presses his hand to it. “There’s enough here to kill an elephant.”
“Yeah.” I say, forcing myself to feel Jake’s excitement.
He pats me on the shoulder and then puts the RV into gear. And then we’re off.
Jake was the first one to think of it.
He’d bring the idea up casually, almost seductive. Did you see that by 2050 sea levels will be two feet higher on the East coast? In Central Africa, there’s going to be a fifty percent reduction in crops from drought.
He’d say these things as I got ready for my internship or got ready for class. When we were apart, he’d text me links to articles and tweets. Teens gunned down in Florida. A video of a man blowing himself up in Lebanon. A little girl in a sundress washed up on the shore of Greece, her hands still gripping the remains of an inflatable unicorn.
Our relationship was built around an elaborate scaffolding of jokes and self-pity. An implicit understanding that things could not get better, would not get better. That there was no one else on Earth who loved us or would miss us when we were gone.
“You’re the only person who’ll never leave me. You know that, right?” he said one night after my final exams. We were in bed, his face illuminated by the pale white light of his phone. He reached into the darkness, grazing my breasts as he groped for my hand.
I said nothing but, then again, I usually said nothing. I did not want to ruin this, to ruin us. I forced myself to look at Jake, to let him cradle my body in his.
“I need to ask you something.”
I do not think about this moment.
I do not think about our texts.
I do not think about the contents of the little sandwich bag, now chopped into a fine blue-grey powder that we will coat the expensive salmon Jake bought.
Instead, I force myself to focus on all the things that couples are supposed to do when they are together and happy. I post a picture of our campsite to Instagram. I force Jake to go out with me to fish and explore the trails around the Lake. But he spends our three days disconcertingly quiet, leaving me with nothing to do but mull the plan over in my head.
“You know,” I say, as we hike past black water and cypress trees. “My dad used to take me up here when I was a kid. There’s some cabins nearby. People who use the place we parked.”
Jake does not pick up on the hint. Or, if he does, he doesn’t care. His face is red and puffy from overexertion. When he breathes, I don’t think of the man who sent me jokes. I think of a bear.
“Well,” he says. “Okay, I guess?”
“I thought you might find that interesting.”
“That you went camping once?”
“No, just that—.” I feel heat rising in my cheeks. “I think we should be aware… of our options.”
I turn back to the trail. We head back to the RV in silence.
I spend the rest of the day waiting for someone coming to save us—a hiker, a forest ranger—but the moment never comes. Instead, I find myself sitting outside the RV at a small picnic table. There’s the terrible hum of crickets and the sound of Jake’s shoes against gravel.
He places a paper plate with rice and salmon in front of me before sitting down with a plate for himself. The food looks bluish, bruised.
“Alright,” he says in a cheery voice. “Let’s dig in!”
I look down at the plate. I do not touch my fork or the can of PBR that he set out earlier in an expression of hospitality. I know what I need to do.
“Jake… I don’t know.”
He jams a slab of the fish into his mouth before looking at me. “What do you mean you don’t know?”
There’s a long quiet, as if the volume of the whole world has been turned down. I try to conjure the shining moment when Jake brought the RV, but the memory is tainted. I try to reconstruct our relationship, but our old jokes seem hollow, preening.
“We shouldn’t do this.” I say.
He pushes another chunk of fish into his mouth.
“Jake, please. Stop.”
“You said you’d do this for me,” he says, voice rising. “There’s no one who is going to love you like I do.”
He jams another furious wad of food into his mouth. Horrified and disgusted, I throw the plate off the table into the dirt.
Jake rises, furious. “You promised you’d do this,” he says in a low roar. “You promised.”
I rise from the table.
“I made a mistake.” I say. “Now, I’m going to go get help.”
I do not give Jake time to respond before I run off into the night.
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 03:46|
Yancey spotted the casper at a refueling station. Looks like even robots get thirsty she thought, peering at its gunmetal exterior though high powered binoculars. The CB radio in her truck cab crackled to life, Ruiz’s reedy voice on the other end. “You got eyes on the target Yance?” She picked up the radio mike and thumbed the talk button. “Refueling station. Three miles out from your position.” She said. “Copy that”, Ruiz said. The cab went quiet. Yancey let out a long sigh as she watched the casper finish its refueling routine and drive off. The intel had been correct thus far, but something about the job made her uneasy, though that feeling might have just as well been due to joint pain. She rubbed her knee almost absent mindedly. The crisp fall air carried with it the first bite of winter and the promise of more aches to come. At seventy-five, you get used to it. Her thoughts were interrupted by the casper driving out of the refueling station. She started the truck and pulled back onto the highway from the shoulder.
At this hour, the road was mostly deserted. A few cars flashed past her as she merged back into the traffic flow, most clearly on auto pilot, the passengers either too asleep or inebriated to notice a rare, flesh-and-blood human in the truck cab. The casper was just ahead of her, taking a bend in the highway. Ruiz’s truck came roaring from the shoulder, the automations avoidance algorithm lacking the time to re-route and avoid her. They met with a screeching crash of metal on metal, the truck slowly tipping on its side. Yancey pulled her truck over and killed the engine. Ruiz was first on the scene, already climbing out of her cab with a long steel prybar in her hand. Yancy opened the door and hopped out slowly, minding her aching joints. By the time she’d hobbled over to the downed casper, Ruiz had cracked the truck’s cargo door wide open. The cargo they needed was sitting inside, fluid leaking out of it slowly. She cursed under her breath.
“Ruiz honey, looks like you were a little aggressive this time. We’re gonna need to get the lid off of this thing and see what’s salvageable”
“Hey, I just drive the truck. How that casper falls over or doesn’t isn’t any of my business. If some bean counter is gonna have an aneurism because his beanie babies are a little smooshed, that’s not my problem.” She said coolly.
“You think that condo committee is gonna turn a blind eye when you don’t have the rent for the month? No more bingo baby.”
Ruiz started to protest, thought better of it, closed her mouth. They did need that money. People in their age range didn’t exactly have too many options, and the public housing lottery was too much of a crapshoot to expect any sort of timely solution. Gigs like this were all they could count on, and even then…
Yancy pushed the encroaching thoughts from her mind, gestured over to the crate. Ruiz handed her a second prybar and with a creak and a groan the crate was freed of its lid. Neat rows of glass jars stood at attention, full of a pale green substance, and Yancy felt her eyes water and her throat burn as a strange alien smell assaulted her senses.
“Ruiz honey, don’t breathe this crap.” She coughed.
“It smells like the worst weed I ever smoked” Ruiz croaked as she withdrew from the crate and replaced the lid with a thump. “Satan’s Potpourri. Christ. Get the other end of this thing Yance.” She gestured at the box, and Yancey limped over, slipping her hands carefully underneath it. A few minutes of careful walking later, they settled the box into the back of Yancey’s truck with a muffled thump.
As she walked back to her truck cab, Yancey could feel herself start to change. Memories flooded her consciousness. Flowers, plants, the feel of earth between her toes, the need to be still, to grow, to stretch out toward the sun with a feverish hunger. Ruiz’s voice flooded her truck cab and she reached out into the aether
I am earth I am dirt I am life I am I am I am I
Nothing left but the green.
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 04:23|
The Case of the Fiendish Green Meanie (Part the Second)
Vivian Snapp paced the small room while Sharon Gusselthorn lounged backwards on the bed, her head tilting backwards over its foot. "This is not acceptable," said Vivian.
"You look much more impressive upside down," said Sharon. "Like you could almost be a CEO or mayor or something. But standing on her head."
"Clearly the extra blood rushing to your head has done no good whatsoever," said Vivian.
"Oh, it's done loads," said Sharon, scooting her body around ninety degrees to lounge right on the edge of the bed. "All kinds of deep thoughts and ideas."
Vivian bumped the side of the bed with her body and Sharon's body slid off it, leaving her sitting up. "And did any of these deep thoughts bring us closer to a solution? These are fraught times, Shar. Strange green beasts spotted meddling with the garbage bins. Fraught."
"No," said Sharon. "They were mostly about boys. Maybe we should ask the likelies for help."
"You know," said Vivian, "That's almost the most useless ideas I can think of. However, staying here doing nothing is even worse. Let's go."
The likelies: Hayden Lyman and Aaron Li, ne'er-do-wells of their own approximate age, dwellers in a ground fort in the woods between back yards. A ground fort because Hayden was far too afraid of heights to be enthusiastic about a treehouse. But a very impressive fort nonetheless, substantial enough that a person might think it required construction safety inspections and we'll made enough that it ought to easily pass them, all thanks to Aaron's amateur late middle school carpentry.
"And another thing," said Vivian as they navigated the bike trail. "He's always so impressed with himself over his baking. Like people are just supposed to swoon over any fool who knows two things about yeast. It's not like his buns are even all that." Sharon failed to suppress a giggle. "You know what I mean."
Sharon coughed. "Maybe not, but do you remember his biscuits?"
"So buttery," they said together.
"Who's there," said Aaron, leaning out of the suddenly open fort door.
"Share and Viv," said Vivian.
"Definitely not here to exchange brazen winks and cheek-pecks for baked goods," said Sharon. "We're here about the mystery."
"Oh," said Aaron, visibly confused. "Well that's great. Hayden has been worried sick. Come on in."
The fortress was more than big enough for four people. It has been designed to fit the maximal seven members of Hayden's Dungeons and Dragons club, which it just barely could manage on those rare days when schedules and weather both allowed for semi-outdoor role-playing. The single room was lit but a few open slats in the roof, mostly shady. Hayden was sitting quietly in the corner. "What do they want?" he said.
"They're here to help with your mystery," said Aaron.
"Don't be dumb," said Hayden. "They don't care about Phil at all." He sighed. "No one does."
"No," said Sharon, "We do."
Vivian pulled on Sharon's shoulder. "We do?"
"Listen," said Sharon, "If there's one thing I've learned in two and a half years of mystery solving, it's that there's hardly ever two completely different cases going on at the same time. If we find this Phil person, he'll lead us straight to-"
"Phil isn't a person," droned Hayden. "Phil is a phyllium bilobatun." The girls stared blankly. "Class Phasmatodea."
"A leaf bug," said Aaron. "And it's escaped from the terrarium." He pointed at one of the fort's sturdy hardwood shelves, where the clear plastic container stood, one side broken apart.
"So someone took this Bilbo-thing," said Vivian.
"Take a closer look," said Sharon. "The plastic bits are all on the outside of the terrarium."
"And besides," said Arron, "I keep this place locked down with a Kemp police lock, and it wasn't tampered with when we got here."
"Right," said Sharon. "A proper locked room mystery is what we have here."
"How did it get out of the fort?" asked Vivian.
"Please," said Aaron. "This fort is properly ventilated. It could have made it through one of the flues. Been meaning to put in some metal screening, though.
"Wouldn't have helped," said Vivian. "If Phil could break through the plastic like that a little screening wouldn't have stopped him."
"What?" said Hayden. "She wasn't nearly as strong as that."
"Ooh, sorry," said Vivian.
"Another thing I've learned is that when you have eliminated the natural, a supernatural explanation may be required."
"I don't understand why we're hiding in the bushes," said Aaron.
"It's in case there's trouble." There were four garbage bins in site, each put out the night before.
As they watched a white-haired man started to inspect the bins in the dim summer twilight. "Who's that?" said Sharon.
"That's Mr. Jordan," said Vivian, "Out checking for recyclables."
"He's ruining our stakeout is what he's doing," said Sharon.
"My dad said he's homeless but my mum told me he lives in public housing," said Hayden, "And that we should let him be."
"She should tell that to that thing," said Sharon, pointing. The monster was there, reading up to menace Mr. Jordan. Taller, green, covered in writhing green.
Mr. Jordan spat at it. It raised a long green hand and swatted at him, knocking him on his backside yards back. It advanced on him.
Hayden burst out from the bushes. Aaron followed after, and the girls came out seconds later. As they got closer they saw that it wasn't a plant kind of green, but an insect kind of green.
It turned toward the group, looking at them with butterfly wing eyes. "Phil?" said Hayden.
The monster hesitated. Then it reared back as one bug popped out of the green carpet. It hopped across the distance to Hayden, who caught and cradled it in his hand. It turned in place, the butterfly moving around its head in a half orbit, and strode rapidly away.
"We should charge after it, see where it goes," said Sharon, standing still.
"I wonder if there's someone under there," said Vivian, "Or if it's bugs all the way down."
"We should go where it's safe," said Aaron. "My mom will make lemonade. And I've got biscuits ready." He turned and walked toward home with confidence.
Hayden, Sharon, and Vivian turned to follow. "So buttery" they said in unison.
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 05:04|
I N T E R N E T || D A T I N G || 2 0 0 0
The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 07:27 on Sep 9, 2020
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 05:06|
The Transubstantiation at Maneki Lake
Word count: 1023
It had been two days since Hugh Fawcett had been on the run after fleeing from the school museum field trip. He tried to make one last call to his mother from the gas station payphone at the edge of Scramton, but there was no answer. His last meal was a Cliff bar, and since then he had only mouthed a handful of berries out in this bushland, which he subsequently discovered were unsuitable for human consumption. His jacket was soaked, his sneakers were muddied and he was itching all over from ivy. In his backpack, he had an empty water bottle, a textbook he thought he could use for fire, and the figurine he had taken from the museum that was the cause of all his woes, yet maybe key to eternal ecstasy. Behind him, he could hear barking as the search team closed in on him.
It was time to do and die.
Sheriff Hardwick was not in the mood for this. His Sunday schedule was hunting and beer. There was no joy tracking down a pissant you couldn’t shoot. He cut across thigh-high grass with his troopers as bloodhounds tracked the scent. Over the radio, his patrolmen confirmed that they had cordoned the roads bordering this stretch of bushland. The dumbass kid had nowhere to go. Trailing by Hardwick’s side, his contemptibly out-of-shape deputy puffed along.
“Don’t think this boy planned his escape too good, huh?” quipped Kane.
“Not particularly bright, I reckon.”
“Whadda ya think drives a boy to do a fool thing like this?
“They’re degenerates. Nothing good comes from the Fawcetts.”
“Feel bad about the old lady though. Losing her man and her daughter. Now this wayward son.”
“She had better mating options.”
“Love’s a mystery ain’t it? Didn’t ya date her back in high school?”
Hardwick shot a look and the conversation ended.
By nightfall, the search wound its way towards a lake that few cared to venture to. Ecologists aware of its existence considered it to possess untold scientific value, but no one had investigated it in depth. A fuzzy film of mold coated its surface, while an unrelenting uric stench warded off all vertebrates. It was here that the bloodhounds became agitated, whining as they confusedly paced to and from the lake.
“You’ve gotta be kiddin’ me,” muttered the sheriff.
As flashlights scanned the area, Sheriff Harwick bellowed:
“Huey Fawcett, I know you’re out there. You listen now, and you listen good. I know you don’t like me, but I goddamn guarantee you’re going to like me a whole lot less if you don’t show your rear end by the time I count ten.”
There was a rustle. Lights focused upon a brush of trees that shook, and out stepped Hugh, shivering, scratched and naked.
“Took your word to show rear end literally,” remarked Kane.
Sheriff Hardwick walked up to Hugh.
“I’ll be frank: the only drat I give about you is that you don’t die under my custody. Now where’s the statue?”
“The Maneki-neko was sacrificed. You’re interrupting the ritual.”
Hugh never saw the slap that put him to the ground. Fingers grabbed him by the ear, twisting them and bring him back to his feet.
“I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and guess the hypothermia’s got you addled. When you’ve warmed, you will tell me where it is.”
“Let’s ask them.”
“You can’t understand, but I can interpret.”
Hardwick was about to deliver another slap when a purr paused his hand. Another purr followed, and then another. The purring sonorously took over the soundscape of the night. And then came the clowder: an unrelenting stream of cats crawled from all over the bushland. Hardwick and his men took a step back, unnerved by the thousands of eyes that gleamed around. The bloodhounds became hysterical, breaking free from their handlers to charge at the cats, but a few swipes sent them whimpering back from whence they came.
At last, the cats made their way to Hugh, hissing off his pursuers as they segregated him from his kind. The cats packed themselves, side to side, a dense parapet of fur encircling Hugh as he stood alone at the center. From the ranks of the clowder, a single black cat entered the circle. It approached Hugh, curling around his ankle, its head rubbing against his calf as its tail brushed his thigh.
“The sacrifice is deemed worthy,” announced Hugh.
The cat bit into Hugh, causing him to scream. The others swarmed in, bringing Hugh down as they began eating him alive.
Hardwick grabbed his revolver and fired a round in the air that accomplished absolutely nothing. He turned his shaking aim at the feline mass, but thought better of pulling the trigger. Hugh’s muffled screams subsided and within minutes he was finished. The cats dispersed, with some of the fatter ones lingering as they leisurely licked their paws. There was no trace of the boy, not even bones.
One by one, the cats began to withdraw towards the lake, while Hardwick and his troopers cautiously followed from a distance. With a sense of purpose, each cat entered into the lake, swallowed under its fuzzy-film surface. When the last cat disappeared, the lake gurgled, letting off a stream of hairy bubbles. As it did so, the lake started to change. When it was over, for the first time since anyone could remember, it looked (and even smelled) clean, casting a spectacular mirror of the moonlit sky, unblemished by even a single ripple. Only one detail was amiss.
“Uh, ya’ll seein two moons flectin’ off the water?”
Sure enough, everyone agreed that lake was inexplicably reflecting two moons paired side by side. That is, until the moons blinked. The stillness of the lake was shattered as a gigantic paw, the size of a freighter, arose from it. Hardwick and his troopers began to run, but were stopped by the sound of a loud yet gentle meow. Turning back, they saw the towering paw making a playful, even beckoning wave at them, before it slunk back into the quiet of the lake.
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 06:43|
Vampire Dad to the Rescue
This was a story about Vampire Dad rescuing a toaster.....
Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 22:36 on Jan 10, 2021
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 06:54|
Submissions are closed!
|# ? Aug 31, 2020 07:08|
TD 421: JUDGMENT
This was a weird week, and objectively a bit of a mess, but I had a good time judging it. Sincere thanks to everyone for taking these prompts and giving it their best -- there were definitely stories with problems, but none of them felt half-assed about the prompt!
Anyway, here are your results:
Winner: The Saddest Rhino, "I N T E R N E T || D A T I N G || 2 0 0 0"
Honorable Mentions: Yoruichi, "The donkey enjoyed the mints, but decided not to go on TV again"; Weltlich, "Room 421"
Dishonorable Mentions: GrandmaParty, "Mellix and the Goblins"; magic cactus, "Long Haul"
Loser: M. Propagandalf, "The Transubstantiation at Maneki Lake"
Throne's all yours, Rhino!
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 06:59|
THUNDERDOME 422: It's Called "Spiritually-Abled" You Ignoramus
Today is Sept 1st 2020, the middle of the Chinese Ghost Month (being July of the Lunar Calendar) and also the Hungry Ghost Festival itself!
Your task is to write any kind of story involving ghost(s) or the paranatural or stuff from the Fortean Times. Bonus points if it's an actual legendary or mythological ghost and not "oh this guy is dead and there's a ghost, k, like Pictures for Sad Children."
Forbidden Rituals: Erotica and/or Fanfic
Word Count: 1500
Signup Deadline: 11:59 PM Pacific, Friday, Sep 4th
Submission Deadline: 11:59 PM, Sunday, Sep 6th
If you ask for a flash rule I will assign you a horrible South-East Asian ghost/hantu and you will get 500 extra words
a friendly penguin - Penanggal
sparksbloom - Pret
GrandmaParty - Tiayanak
Thranguy - Pocong
Saucy_Rodent - Jenglot
MockingQuantum - Wewe Gombel
LiterallyATomato - Krahang
derp - Sigbin
Simply Simon - Banaspati
magic cactus - Orang Minyak
CaligulaKangaroo - Pelesit
The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 10:27 on Sep 4, 2020
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 12:56|
I am here for this.
In, ghost me.
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 12:58|
In and flash
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 13:00|
Let's do it. In and flash.
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 13:02|
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 13:18|
I am here for this.
Penanggal / Penanggalan (Malaysia)
In and flash
Let's do it. In and flash.
The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 13:26 on Sep 1, 2020
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 13:20|
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 14:29|
So in, and so flash.
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 14:30|
So in, and so flash.
Wewe Gombel (Indonesia)
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 15:39|
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 15:44|
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 15:53|
okay i'll do it, gimme a ghost
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 16:01|
I too wanna be haunted
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 16:03|
In and flash please
|# ? Sep 1, 2020 16:40|
okay i'll do it, gimme a ghost
I too wanna be haunted
In and flash please
Orang Minyak (Malaysia)
|# ? Sep 2, 2020 00:49|
|# ? Sep 2, 2020 03:03|
|# ? Jun 28, 2022 15:18|
|# ? Sep 2, 2020 03:16|