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Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica
In, what did I forget and what jam do I need to jog my memory?


Mar 20, 2008

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

SkaAndScreenplays posted:

In, what did I forget and what jam do I need to jog my memory?

You've forgotten who the fresh portrait tattoo on the back of your hand is supposed to be. Uh-oh.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

In, gimme something

Apr 30, 2006
:siren: Week 427 Recap! :siren:

Is your name magic cactus, Tyrannosaurus, Uranium Phoenix, MockingQuantum, Anomalous Blowout, Thranguy, Dr. Klocktopussy, Walamor or sebmojo? If so, crabrock, Antivehicular, Weltlich and myself discuss your story on the week 427 thunderdome recap!

Additionally featuring a dramatic reading of Pththya-lyi's "Ephemera."

This recording was somewhat plagued by technical issues, so the audio's a little rough, but the crits go down smooth!

Apr 30, 2006
Also I'm in and will take song

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
Catch Up Crits

I'm missing these two and I want to be shiny 100% critboi

Muffin's Untitled from week 349

OK, I remember this hot pile of nonsense now and why I didn't crit it then. Look, this is just obnoxious, and you probably know it. I respect you and what it is you try to do, most of the time. Here? Not so much. I tried with this. I tried reading it and tried to not hate you while I did, but that became more and more impossible. I want to like you, so I stopped reading. So let's spend a second talking about good and bad risks? Like that "worst week" thing where the worst story takes the prize. That's a good 'muffin being naughty' gambit. It woke people up, got them to try some new things, it demonstrated a love for the audience, in that case, the entrants. Whereas this... demonstrates scorn for your audience. There's a way to do this story and have it be all experimental and crazy, but excel is not it. You probably needed something printed to make it work. Or maybe it can only work in excel but if that's the case, I'd hardly call it much of anything. Having said all of that, you can't succeed with risks unless you sometimes fail on them. Accordingly, I'm happy enough that you did this, but I'm also happy that I didn't need to read it.

Steeltoedsneaker's Bookbinding from week 354

Let's talk function versus form. Here, the meditative artifice of the structure doesn't seem to do you any favors. It calls an insane amount of attention to itself. It seems that your goal in doing this was to make the reader stop and consider things but really, it's just disruptive and undercuts what is otherwise a nifty, minimalist story that has some slick prose and good tension. I have to wonder if this was rushed and you sort of did this individual line breaking as a means to make things more punchy without having to actually do the work. If so, well done, it's a good idea and I'm sure it saves on time. But just know that it does indeed look a little lazy and one of the problems with this style is that you really need to have haymaker sentence after haymaker sentence and not all of these are quite there.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
In, what did I forget? Also will take a song.

Liquid Communism
Mar 9, 2004

коммунизм хранится в яичках
In, gimme a song.

Mar 20, 2008

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

sebmojo posted:

In, gimme something

sparksbloom posted:

Also I'm in and will take song

Thranguy posted:

In, what did I forget? Also will take a song.
You've still got the present you brought along - and you can't remember what it is or who it's for.

Liquid Communism posted:

In, gimme a song.

Apr 12, 2006
Somehow I have missed two c r i t s so here they are

killer crane - Week 366
First bit is all world building and stage setting.

Someone told me once that that is a very lazy way to open something. I don't know if lazy is the right word but I don't like it. Perhaps try a bit more in media res? Or, if you want to make it a thing then I recommend it starts every section.

Also, you use thank you twice almost in a row and its distracting. It doesn't feel intentional. Recommend changing up your words a bit there.

This feels like an idea for a novel that was crammed into 1000 words. It doesn't have enough time to breathe and you spend more time explaining things than telling a story.

Anomalous Amalgam - Week 362
You could cut your opening.

What this story lacks is connection. You tell me that these people love each other but you don't let me see it. Find places to add more personal touches. The characters feel a familial obligation to help their grandmother but why? What changes if they are former employees of Rosa Flores? What changes if they simply fellow exorcists that admire her work in the field? If you cut the opening as I suggest, you free up a lot of words to sprinkle in some touching bits of backstory to give this more oompf which I believe it desperately, desperately needs.

Also, in a weird story like this you have to be careful about unusual metaphors. It took me a moment to realize the eye roll thing wasn't literal.

Aug 2, 2002




psh, only two? ameteur.

here are the rest of my week 398 crits

Ride of the Swan King

“I am Richard Wagner, and I have come to save the Kingdom!”” “Richard Wagner was famous for both his complex operas, such as the four-part, 18-hour Ring Cycle, as well as for his anti-semitic writings” uh oh

“cawed Crow-Wagner, who was now circling the swan on lustrous black wings,” dq for judge pandering

“She’s not stupid, she’s a beautiful swam!” she drown.

So the king is riding around in a sleigh with musicians hidden in the bushes. His son is there too. Some musician comes in and is like “i can save this,” and conducts these bush-league musicians. Then his son is like “nah i’m gonna gently caress him up.” Then the conductor turns into a swan, he turns the sleigh into a white swan, and then they both fly away with the king riding the swan. Did I miss anything?

I don’t know what to say about this. I don’t really know what is happening 100% or why. It feels a bit meandering and monkey cheesy, like you were making it up as you went along and didn’t bother to go back and unify the themes or anything. So it ends kinda on this note of like, the king was a bad king and his son would be better, but we never get any proof of that or know how in any concrete way, other than “lol king kinda wacky.” but like is the country just a miserable pile of poo poo because of this? Doesn’t land for me.


The Garden of Ephemeral Delights

“like a stature hewn”

“Little else about him looked soft” not even the glossy linen?

“last such assignment last” too many lasts.

I like the little details you drop in that this is some weird scifi/hosed up world without just telling me, that’s good world building. Still there’s a bit more you could do to make it even richer, such as these genetic lines: “there an experiment [...] you finished the last such assignment.” don’t leave the generic, undescriptive “assignments” say what they are. It would be a great way to let me know a bit more here, like what kind of experiments. Even just adding something like “your botany experiments” or “is there another fungi you need me to sequence?” etc.

“pulled from his robe an iron key” awkward.

“spread her mandibles in excitement.” super awkward.

I like the description of the garden. But “and lesser insects” gonna need some more explanation on this bug racism, she seems like she’s a cricket? Are there lesser insects that THAT?

“"It seems that I guessed correctly,"” what did he guess?

“It was true when she found his egg” Wait, she is older than Tydus? She hatched his egg? I thought she was like his grad student or something. Very unclear here what this relationship is.

“without whom the Academy wouldn't be” huh? Did she make this academy? What age range are these students? I thought this was a university (my own bias probably) but is it more like x-men or something?

I feel like this thing is supposed to be a reaper or something and there’s some sort of story thread with her love of death and the ecosystem, but it’s a little too subtle and vague for me to really grasp what’s happening. For half the story i thought she was a student and he was her advisor, but then it seems like he’s a former pupil and maybe dark lord or something? And she made the school but doesn’t have all the keys or something? I dunno, i liked parts of it, the descriptions of all the bugs and poo poo mostly. But after that i don’t know what this story is actually about or why I should be caring about these mostly unknown characters.


The Visitor at the Clinic

“Perhaps he'd tried to explain too much in the letter.” ironically i think you explained too much in this following paragraph.

Ok, the first half of this story is serviceable and cute, it sets up this relationship of the clone dead wife in a mostly showy way, though it focuses a teensy bit too much on “that’s the plot!” to really nail it.

The second section is good but i feel like it calls attention to something that should be more unspoken: that annalise likes to paint landscapes.

The third section feels entirely unnecessary.

I like the overall idea of this and the growth and what not, and would definitely read more about this dude getting to know his wife’s clone, as long as it didn’ get creepy weird (it didn’t feel like it would).


The Taste is Divine

I’m confused who is tasting the religion/gods. The believers of those religions? Do they taste this in their mouths all the time, or just when they’re churchin? Only when they eat? Ground me a bit more.

To the part where the goddess pops him and is like “k now lets ghost hunt” and wow is this story meandering. Don’t get what the flavored gods/religion have to do with this stuff.

Eek. i feel like this story is a “what if you could taste religion?” and then that’s about as far as you got and the rest of it you just kinda made up at the last minute along the way. Kinda surprised this didn’t get a DM, but i’m guessing sebmojo liked it or something, it was too long ago and i can’t remember.


A Friends of Crows

“Perhaps ‘bluh-pukes’ or ‘negroid-birds.’”” hm, that’s a no for me dawg.

And that just kinda ends with a wet fart. It coulda ended a few sentences sooner, the whole friends TV show angle wasn’t great. Anyway i like this silly little story, i enjoy writing and reading stories like this, and i liked the happy ending and character growth! However, the racial aspects of this story are, in the parlance of the youngest of the youth, sus. Not necessary or warranted imo.

Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!

sparksbloom posted:

:siren: Week 427 Recap! :siren:

Is your name magic cactus, Tyrannosaurus, Uranium Phoenix, MockingQuantum, Anomalous Blowout, Thranguy, Dr. Klocktopussy, Walamor or sebmojo? If so, crabrock, Antivehicular, Weltlich and myself discuss your story on the week 427 thunderdome recap!

Additionally featuring a dramatic reading of Pththya-lyi's "Ephemera."

This recording was somewhat plagued by technical issues, so the audio's a little rough, but the crits go down smooth!

This was great, thank you all!

Sep 3, 2020


I'm in, not taking any extra words/flash rules because I want to try writing with lower counts.

Feb 25, 2014
Week 414 Crits

MockingQuantum One More

how i remember this story: i literally do not remember this story one bit

yeah this story is pretty boring because it just lands on the planet and its like ok cool but there’s not rly much reason to care for the protag or their struggle. it spends a lot of time with detailing the moving in and out of the spaceship, which seems like a waste of time in a short fiction story, and not enough time trying to make me actually care about why the characters are struggling and why we should care about that struggle.

Simply Simon Echoing Questions

how i remember this story: some confusing nonsense about a person getting tortured and remembering their boyfriend or something

this is alright descriptively and a decent look into a fanatic’s mind, but it ends up not feeling like much for whatever reason. i guess it just feels too obvious as there’s not really any surprises, nothing that changes our viewpoint on these things, or makes us reconsider what’s happening in this story. we kinda just feel that this is a fanatic who probably isnt doing super alright and then she falls out of her weird stupor maybe torture thing without any real attempt to make it mean something or do something larger than just relating back an experience, which is okay, but feels like it needs to be grander, not necessarily in scope, but in considering the implications ig.

Saucy_Rodent A kinda weird thing that happened while I was on a backtracking trip in Israel

how i remember this story: somebody goes to a blown out church (editor’s note: whoops mosque gj ingrained western values) in israel and i wanted to like this way more than i did

this feels like an amazing premise for a poem, and just based on the setting and the potential to explore ideas of faith and conflict and just everything going on, i really really really wanted to like this because this is 100% my poo poo. but the problem is that you dont really explore anything? i actually do like the conversation with the construction guys, i remember some co-judges having qualms with it. maybe not wholly realistic, but i think the callousness of destroying it, but the little niceness of being yeah sure go pray, it helps highlight the humanity of people just a lil bit. but besides that, i feel like there’s a lot here to consider, of history, of faith, of what it means for a small mosque to be burned down and then demolished, but there’s none of that here. its just kind of a trip report, without any consideration of what it could possibly be or mean or say about anything surrounding the character or people. it’s very flat, which is odd, given the fact that you could do a lot here.

Trex the axe forgets

how i remember this story: someone dies because of an accident and the narrator is sad but a speaker says things like “capitalism is good actually plz ignore the dead body”

compared to the last few stories where it’s hard to figure out why this matters, this does actually have something to say. i think the main issue is that this beats your head over with its message of “capitalism doesnt care about people” and yeah im with you on that, but it ends up feeling super cartoonish where a guy is scraping a dead body off the floor all while a speaker is doing corporate speak. idk i guess its technically realistic, but it just ends up feeling like too much, being too obvious, and the description of the body is just a bit too graphic for me to think of it as a funny juxtaposition, but the corporate speak is just so blatantly cartoony that it doesnt mesh well with the descriptions of the body. this one is hard, because its a pretty well-worn trope at this point of pitting corporate speak vs terrible accidents, and this one doesnt really do enough to pull itself outside of the trope or to make us reconsider that trope in any way

crimea Excerpt from the serialised adventures 'Fortune in the Mind's Eye'

how i remember this story: its basically psychonauts (i never played psychonauts)

oh you literally used the word psychonaut ROFL. this has a pretty high mind (lol) concept, but then it plays out like a generic serial adventure that it doesnt rly make a lot of sense. like, why not it just be a cave in south america and human consciousness just be a jewel? it wouldnt change much of anything, and it feels like the concept has a lot of room to play with, but you dont rly do anything with it. it was better than i remember it being because serial fiction can be pretty fun, and this is kinda fun, but it also ends up having to explain way more about its concept which doesnt really matter because its just kind of a place theyre at and they have a thing they need to get. like i said, it wouldve been better if it was a jewel in a south american cave because then u could just say that and id be like “ok i get it” and then u could spend the words doing cool things instead of explaining. anyways the betrayal was kind of dumb and it was just kind of a carbon copy of the kinds of serial stories that weve all seen before so it didnt really happen.

steeltoedsneakers Threads

how i remember this story: vaguely gay things happen

alright it wasnt as gay as it remember it being, disappointing, but i liked this? i dont remember judging much though i do feel like the judges didnt like this as much as me, but also i know this is totally up my alley so /shrug. it does kind of flip flop between past and future abruptly at points, and the emotional core is good, but it doesnt quite have the specificity and impact of actually seeing it. i wish it was more direct, in the confrontations between the mother and the son, to rly let the emotion shine through. but as a little moment of joy that is only going to get worse, i like it. and i like that you pull between the past and the present, never fully letting us feel the joy of the first moment, but also contextualizing the later disappointment. idk, its cool, small little piece. probably trim it down into a prose poem if u wanted to play w/ this piece more.

Hawklad The world does not care about us

how i remember this story: i read the first two paragraphs and i still remember nothing

oh yeah it was the slavery story. this just feels very introductory, without really a conclusion or anything. the characters just kinda of lament and there’s description, but nothing much of value happens, and the motivation to say “i care!!!” doesnt feel rly born of anything or meaningful based on what happened, so its just kinda w/e. theres not much to say here because this doesnt feel complete, like its a beginning of an arc, but thats it.

sparksbloom Scourge Them With Roses

how i remember this story: out of shape people exercise but it was pretty decent

yeah this is still pretty decent. its mostly a moment, but a moment that shows a lot of subtle growth and is just overall a pleasant little piece. theres a sense of history between the two, and nice little descriptions that keep the piece’s energy up. its a lil barebones with 500 words, but obv thats the way things go, and it never really pulls itself out of being just a small thing that happened, but under those constraints its good because it ends up implying and showing more than what’s on the page.

AlmightyDerelict Beyond the Glittering Wall, Chapter III: Speak of the Devil and…

how i remember this story: boring people talk and then a demon murders a guy and the people goes AHHHHHHHHHHH

this is bad in a number of small ways. the dialogue is pretty stilted and expository, and there’s too many characters. like, why have three characters when you could just have two, one be the novice and one be the grizzled guy. but otherwise, there’s not a lot of reason to care, since all the characters are pretty generic, and i quite dislike how the second the demons are brought up, hey look now there are demons all of a sudden. and the ending is a big giant deflation, where the characters just run and forget about this guy they cared about? like, i mean, yeah maybe that was the smartest move, but it just ends up being a sort of “what was the point of all this?” the characters arent now motivated by the dude’s death in any interesting capacity. and it all is just kind of tired fantasy without any real interesting take or nuanced characters or decent plotting.

a friendly penguin Laugh

how i remember this story: something about some lake thing and the guy has to get it for some reason and maybe doesnt idk i dont rly remember

why doesnt this work? thats the question i had for myself the whole time trying to crit this. its technically sound, there’s a conflict, character has a goal. i guess i just dont really have a reason to care about the character. there’s not a lot of stakes here, with failure never feeling like a super big deal. sure the character wants to succeed, but we dont care much about the character, and it doesnt seem like such a big deal if they do fail, that its hard to get attached to the story. and without the stakes, things just feel like they happen, nothing really mattering, and its all kind of okay in terms of description and pacing, but i just dont care?

Ironic Twist Another Prick in the Hall

how i remember this story: bored receptionist in hell gets annoyed by a new guy and then decides to escape all of a sudden

i wasnt as big as a fan of this as my other judge. conceptually, this story starts out really strong and compared to some of the more boring stories this week, started off at a sprint, which is great, good job there. the voice is alright, although it feels forced at times. the plot just feels, idk, sort of a day in the life, but then the ending feels like its out of nowhere. i remember a cojudge saying “i think it makes sense” but rereading it, it still doesnt make sense why they decide all of a sudden now’s the right time. i think its because the protag has figured out the pattern (you know, simon) but it still feels odd that its just at this moment. this isnt a bad story, and has a lot of merits in being interesting and weird and fun, but i feel like the story construction is kinda rushed and also that i want to see them actually escape instead of decide to escape.

Sitting Here Sea to Sea

how i remember this story: sitting here does her thing

and yep im all for it. i know my cojudges were mad about the string cheese metaphor but whatever theyre nerds, i like it. its weird and striking but makes sense and thats what makes a good metaphor. but yeah, i like this a lot. its weird and evocative and the imagery of weaving sound into a cathedral to get the attention of a god to become water. hell yeah. idk this is pretty indulgent but personally, it works a great deal for me because this is the kind of stuff i enjoy a bunch. weird poo poo with weird themes.

Thranguy Turbulence

how i remember this story: i dont, oh wait this one was loving weird

yeah this is a strange loving story lol. it goes at a breakneck pace, with it immediately being like “harem boat” and then “oh god they all fell off and two of them are dead and the other one is almost dead and we’re all screwed ahhhhh” and it might just be like too much? but even then, there’s not much to like about the characters now is there. Martins is the most fleshed up, but basically he just has a harem and is also probably an abuser, and the protag is part of the harem because ?????? and she’s like well i gotta do this because no one else is. idk, this is a story that just goes so fast with so much happening that there’s like no time to process and there’s no one to really like or care about that it just becomes too much.

kiyoshiman Untitled

how i remember this story: not at all

ok this is not absolutely terrible, which im surprised by because i dont remember this being good, but idk, there’s bits of this that i like. its mostly just an image, which while im sure some people will say is bad and not good, i think its alright to have a piece just be a singular, small moment. the prose actually has some nice flourishes, and the tension is pretty alright. honestly, in a weaker week, i can see this escaping unscathed, or at least with a DM, despite it being one paragraph and being filled up with run-on sentences (although i think the run-ons are effective here, but maybe that’s just me trying to justify how many run-ons i use). the problem is that it has a few amateurish flaws, with the stakes being pretty unclear at the start, and that thunderdome is unfortunately a fiction contest, with a focus on plot and the like, and well, there really isnt one. and there really isnt much of a character either. so while its a decent little piece imo, it doesnt really fit super well into the mold that TD likes, but i think this piece is quite alright.

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Weltlich posted:

Nae also gets an HM. This nearly was my pick for win this week, but the optimism was just a little (lot) too tainted. Still, it was an excellent story, and managed to put some serious weird in

I haven't even bothered to read your story and I probably won't but what the hell who are these newbies who just waltz in and get HMs and nearly win on their first try wt actual f

Fite me, Nae, you dang talented new babby you

Sep 3, 2020


Yoruichi posted:

I haven't even bothered to read your story and I probably won't but what the hell who are these newbies who just waltz in and get HMs and nearly win on their first try wt actual f

Fite me, Nae, you dang talented new babby you

I accept your challenge, Horse poster!

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


Yoruichi posted:

I haven't even bothered to read your story and I probably won't but what the hell who are these newbies who just waltz in and get HMs and nearly win on their first try wt actual f

Fite me, Nae, you dang talented new babby you

Nae posted:

I accept your challenge, Horse poster!

Naeing Horses Brawl

Your stories must involve two of the three following:
-Cybernetic horses
-A confrontation at high noon

1500 words at most
Due by Wednesday the 25th at Noon (pacific time)

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at 04:48 on Nov 19, 2020

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
Bumping this!

I've got a few signed up already. Gonna close signups and issue assignments on 12/1

Come in and be a merry fella.

Chili posted:

This year, we will be doing a :lovebird: Holiday Card Exchange! :lovebird:

In years past there have been multiple groups, some send presents some send stories etc.

This year, there’s just one pile of goons: Those who are in.

If you want to be in, all I need from you is your physical mailing address. If that’s concerning to you, I do totally get that! Don’t participate if you don’t want to.

The terms this year are that each person who signs up will get the address of TWO people. You will be responsible for sending those TWO people a card, or even a postcard is cool. You can go store-bought, or get creative. You can write the person a letter about how wonderful they are, or just send them a picture of a horse that says Hoofy Holidays (don't do that).

So you will be sending TWO cards, and getting TWO cards. JOY!

Hard rule though: NO PRESENTS Presents are not optional. I want no expectation from anyone to purchase and ship gifts this year.

So, if you want to be a part of this, please don’t post in the thread. Instead, Private Message me or find me on Discord and let me know you want in by providing me your physical address. People in the past have tried to sign up without doing that, and then I pester them for that, and then they don’t respond, and then I don’t include them, and then they yell at me. That’s pretty much the only wrong way to do this.

If you are interested in this, and want to do it, but identify any barriers to participating, let me know. I will work with you.

Signups are now open and will close on December 1st.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME
In, :toxx:, something I forgot, please!

Mar 20, 2008

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

Your Sledgehammer posted:

In, :toxx:, something I forgot, please!

You've got an open padlock. You can't remember what you've now left unlocked.

Mar 20, 2008

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

Also as a point of clarification, your story does not literally have to be set the morning after a party.

Your story should revolve around the aftermath of Something Big. It doesn't have to be a party and you don't have to set it literally the morning after. Of course, if you want to, go right ahead!

Apr 30, 2006
space week crits

Staggy - Getaway Trip

Our hero is in a ship piloted by ants and needs to harness his own connection with the ants and the ship in order to survive. This is a neat, high concept idea, and it’s a fun, inventive ride with just enough different elements to keep things interesting. It’s a good example of a story that allows the protagonist to fail in ways that feel eventful, and the patter between the hero and Mama helps break up what could have been stacked technobabble and Things Happening. The ending feels a little abrupt, and I wish the story hinted a little more at what’s driving our character – are they chugging positivity because they’re trying to put something behind them? - but on the whole this is a well-deserved win.

Djeser - First Contact Protocol

Jone crashlands on a planet with an advanced consciousness, Telaion, that is very lonely and wants to make people happy so they stay with them. Overall, I like what this story is trying to do with its themes of understanding, of exploring what humans want – what is a good life. I think the character development suffers in the attempt to get philosophical, though, and Jone isn’t much of a character here. I think the beats of Telaion creating a predator because they believe Jone (and humans) want conflict are interesting, but they should probably be explored a little more, since I think there’s nuance here that isn’t on the page – so I’m not quite sure if this is supposed to work more as a comedy moment or to get at Telaion’s loneliness.

GrandmaParty - Where to Go When the World Doesn’t Need You

Marky is doing gladatorial battle in a world where people can be reincarnated; he has never been reincarnated and is anxious about the process, but his worries are assuaged by Kettrick, an experienced fighter. I think this is a good story, powered by an internal conflict that’s clearly on the page, and with a strong arc to it. The dialogue really pops here, and more importantly it gets at Marky’s anxieties and gives him a good foil for them. It feels really human and personal in a way I meshed with. (I’m also wondering if this story was at all influenced by Hit Video Game Hades.)

Nae - Love Train

Our protagonist and her friends do a lot of drugs and build a love train. This story is deeply rich with thoughtful, clever details and is infused with this period voice that glances at being “too much” but stops short of corny. This was my favorite story of the week, but I had to agree with Welt that this is not the positive ending or vibe that was asked for this week; honestly, this story feels deeply tragic, and our protagonist comes off as someone who’s been deeply alienated from most of the people in her life for a long time, and the 70s dressing feels like an attempt to paper over this. Which I think is a super neat dynamic and something you can absolutely work with going forward – it just wasn’t necessarily what this prompt was asking for.

Gorka - Beyond the boundary

This story needs to make its stakes clearer early on – in flash, you can’t hide what the characters want, or what they’re trying to do, and the first paragraph tells me nothing about this. I have a hard time getting interested in this story until the bugs show up, when this story then becomes kind of goofy but also pretty exciting. But once the bugs are dead the story becomes kind of unremarkable and like it’s just treading water. I think one thing that would help is giving the characters something to make them unique – sure, Steve wants the best Aquavit in the universe, but how come? Does he have any special memories associated with that? What drives Ethan to seek out the furthest reaches of the universe? This is the sort of thing that would really liven up the parts of the story where there are no intergalactic space bugs.

Applewhite - The Dark Planet

I’m sure this was fun to write, but it left me cold and a little annoyed. I know the sexism here is very tongue-in-cheek – and yeah, it’s very 70’s – but it really adds a sour note to the story (especially that awful “measurements” line). And the rest of the story – well, it’s very tropey and stays very faithful to those sci-fi tropes, but it strikes me as just so over-the-top goofy and pulpily written that it’s hard for me to really engage with. Even with a telepath in the crew, these characters don’t seem to have any inner lives, and I suppose that’s not the point, but it makes this feel like a stack of “another thing happened.” You gotta give us some reason for Duvall to sacrifice herself for this dude, even if it’s a cheesy one. I’ll say, though, that I don’t think any other story this week did a better job at staying on-prompt.

flerp - to those who stared at the stars and wanted to know them

Got bored when we were on the fifth paragraph and the character was talking about being bored. Look, this story is well written and the prose is very poetic but the story goes out of its way to avoid any kind of conflict or even any events for the most part, and it’s just this monologue about space explanation being beautiful and magical and mystical. And that’s nice and very pretty on the sentence level but it’s just not substantial at all. I mean, I like this whole idea of this character going through this change from a person of science to a person of – if not faith, than wonder – but the story sits directly in the wonder, so there’s no real sense of movement here, just this very static mood.

Thranguy - 2021

This is awfully detail dense! I like the idea of this structure: the sense of a “we” as the protagonist, the reckoning of a shared history, but honestly the cavalcade of proper nouns and events kind of made this drip out my ears. The “twist” of “these invaders are actually from the past” could be interesting, but it comes too late in this story for these revelations to take effect. I also think this is a couple of shades too bleak and doesn’t feel especially lighthearted and positive for this prompt. I do think there is a cleverness in the density here – long periods of time and societal suffering are captured neatly in subordinate clauses – but it’s a little hard for me to get invested in. I’m blaming my own brain for this, though.

Mar 20, 2008

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

:siren: Signups are closed! :siren:

We also have one spot left for a co-judge, if anyone wants to volunteer.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME
Flash rule: You've got an open padlock. You can't remember what you've now left unlocked.

Maiden Voyage
1244 words

“There’s one still open,” she said. Casey was holding the portal lockout key away from her body, as if it would zap her. Her other hand fidgeted with her long red hair.

Gilead Mills glared at her over his laptop. She’d made a terrific engineer during the startup phase, and he really liked her, but she was foundering as a Navigator. He sighed, glanced again at the sailboat listing on the screen, and slammed the computer closed.

“So they didn’t come back out?” he said.

“Nope,” she said. “I waited fifteen minutes after the timer went off. This is precisely what we were concerned about. The press are going to –”

“Enough! We’ll figure it out. Show me the portal.”


Fog curled eerily around banks of portals in the Portal Room. The time dilation procedure required 85% humidity, and some of their pampered clients had already complained. “At fifty thousand per hour, you really ought to figure out how to pipe the fog directly into the machines,” they carped.

Gilead sighed. People and their petty concerns irritated him. This first week of business netted ten million, but silly details like the fog and chronovoyagers overstaying their time visas threatened his festive mood.

He’d been Silicon Valley’s favorite boy genius ten years ago, after the cold fusion breakthrough. Ten years of vanity projects had dimmed his star considerably, but Chrono Resort LLC had changed all of that overnight. He’d immediately realized the business potential that first night in the lab three years ago, when it dawned on all of them that the Many Worlds interpretation was true.

“This the one?” he asked. The turquoise blue portals always reminded him of his favorite beach in Antigua.

“That’s the one,” Casey said.

“Where does it go to?”

Casey’s eyes dropped to the floor. “I don’t remember.”

“The gently caress? Don’t remember? This is ground level Navigator stuff, Case! Baby stuff!”

“I navigated for twenty different trips today, Gilead! You try filling in a bunch of rich idiots on everything they need to know for twenty different time periods! This morning, I had to talk down a celebrity from trying to impersonate Nefertiti as soon as she got to the other side. Would it kill you to cut me a little bit of slack? This used to be fun before we opened.”

Gilead sighed, rubbed his forehead, and then smiled at Casey. “You’re right,” he said. “I’ve just been all worked up this week, and the morning show circuit really took it out of me. You understand.” He patted her shoulder. “Here, just hand me the lockout key and I’ll wait for you. They couldn’t have wandered too far.”

An impish smirk bloomed on Casey’s face. “I don’t think so,” she said. “I’ve had enough fun for one day.”

Gilead gritted his teeth. He turned to face the portal and could feel his heart start to beat faster. Some primitive superstition had always kept him from using any of the machines. The persistent dreams about being lost at sea that had started after they finished that first machine probably had a lot to do with it, though he had trouble admitting it to himself. Gilead wasn’t a spiritual man, but you don’t play around with that stuff.

He laughed nervously. “This isn’t going to be a one-way trip to, say, the Titanic, is it?” He flashed a smile and winked at her.

“I wouldn’t do that to you, Gil,” she said.

He sighed and looked again at the portal. “If I’m not back with the client in an hour, call Jeff, alright?”

Gilead stepped through the portal.


It only took him a few seconds to get his bearings given his familiarity with the place. He stood in silence, mouth agape.

Greasy pizza boxes were piled on desks. The machine squatted in the center of the room, its spindly, prototype portal-generating arms making it look like a dead insect. They’d improved the design so much these last few years. Pictures of him, Casey, Jeff, and the whole crew grinned at him from the corkboard on the wall. It was just as he remembered. His eyes fixated on his favorite picture, the one next to the plane ticket to Antigua. The whole crew, suntanned and happy, standing on that beach. He’d taken them, all expenses paid, right after the breakthrough.

Casey was right. It really had been better back then. He was certainly enjoying the money, but Gilead secretly hated running businesses. He felt so much better when he had a goal to head towards. He relished charting a course through the challenges and pitfalls.

Insistent beeping from a computer near the machine broke his reverie. He rushed over and began pecking at keys, speed-reading summaries as they flashed on the screen. He could feel the bile rising in his throat, and his mouth grew wet.

All the data had been stolen. Some rival had apparently done their research on the beginnings of Chrono Resort LLC and then posed as a chrono tourist. Signups for the first week of chronovoyages had been over a year ago, so this plot had been in the works for awhile. Bastards! They must have given Case some bogus destination and then tampered with the corresponding lockout key they’d been given.

The keys acted like beacons. The keys given to the tourists allowed them to open a portal when their time was up. They are tethered to the Navigator’s key, so when tourists step through the portal, they arrive safely back at the resort. Casey and the others had been insisting that the Navigator keys should also be tethered to the tourist keys so that situations like tourists overstaying their time visa could be dealt with. Gilead told them they could implement the feature later, after the IPO. Now it was looking like there may not be an IPO.

Gilead heard the distinctive blurp of a portal opening in an adjacent room. He reached it just as it was beginning to fade.


Gilead blinked, did a double take, and then collapsed to his knees.

It was the beach. His beach.

Well, not quite, he thought. Large wooden sailing vessels dotted the nearby harbor, the Union Jack waving lazily from their masts.

“I saw the picture on the corkboard,” said a voice off to his right.

Gilead turned. A small man wearing sunglasses and a blazer was standing on a rocky outcropping twenty feet above him. The man smiled at Gilead.

“I was going to do something worse, like take a detour through Hiroshima or Pompeii before heading back, but I figured if I was going to strand you, I ought to at least give you a fighting chance. That picture was just the ticket,” the man said.

Gilead’s breath left him. He’d never be able to climb up there before the portal disappeared. As if the man could sense his thoughts, he opened the portal and turned to step in.

“Wait!” Gilead yelled. The man paused.

“Just give me the year at least! Please, you gotta tell me the year,” Gilead pleaded.

“1650. Good luck,” the man replied. “You’re going to need it!” And with that, he was gone.

Tears welled in Gilead’s eyes as he gazed down at the sand. His stomach ached and his mind flitted around like a hummingbird, but a strange feeling was already welling up from deep inside. Something akin to relief.

Gilead looked back at the boats.

Sep 3, 2020


The Integration of the Persistence of Memory
1198 words

There's a white disc at the center of time and space where infinite timelines converge in a kaleidoscope of color. It's currently covered with empty vodka glasses and sticky with coffee liquor. I'm half-asleep in the middle of it, too drunk to move and too sober to stay still.

The word 'Remember' is scratched on the floor between my legs. Faint streaks of ballpoint ink stain the cracks. I don't know what I'm supposed to remember, because I was drunk when I wrote that last night. At the very least, I can gather that I need a new pen.

Most of the details of last night are hazy, starting with the point where I gave up on glasses and switched to alternating swigs of vodka and Kahlua. It's not hard to piece together the outline of the night, though; I only drink like this when a timeline goes out.

Theoretically, a timeline going out isn't a big deal. They all go out sometime. That doesn't make it any less of a travesty. An entire universe snuffed out, along with the history of its inhabitants. The bright side is that a dying timeline is almost always devoid of life at the end, but it's still sad to see the spark go out. But hey, that's what I'm here for. Somebody's gotta start 'em up; somebody's gotta shut 'em down. Grand opening, grand closing. That's how time works.

That doesn't mean I have to like it, or that I have to do it sober.

Last night was the end for an especially hearty timeline, so I sent them into oblivion in style. This morning, which I'm only calling morning and is actually an infinity through which no time has passed, I have to restart that line fresh. That means I've gotta remember which one shut down. It wouldn't be so bad if I labeled the timelines, but I've been putting buying some cable tags from a universe that has an Office Max. I can sense which lines are which when I'm clear-headed, but when I'm fighting a hangover and a hole in my memory, the only way to find the line I need is to get on the ground and crawl.

Down here on my hands and knees, I can see countless timelines spreading out into the cosmos. If I had to describe them to the layperson, I'd say they look like the rope lights you can string around your railings during the holidays, but they're really so much more. Rope lines can only change colors and patterns, but timelines have it all. Each one of these babies has its own sound, texture, and scent—hell, even a taste if you get down there and lick it. I've only done that a few times, but I'm serious when I say a line with a blueberry tang is something special.

I never tasted the timeline I'm looking for, but the flavors don't persist in a dead timeline anyway. The only thing that lingers when a history runs its course is a dull, insistent hum that violates the deepest parts of your ears. That's what I'm listening for as I pick up rope after rope, searching for the line whose time has run out.

It takes me approximately one-point-six infinities to find my target, which really gives my hangover time to bloom. My eyeballs ache as I cradle the limp, grey line to my chest, wallowing in the anemic hum that signifies the deaths of all dreamers.

"Hey, little buddy," I murmur, stroking the cord. "I'm gonna bring you back to life, okay?"

That's not strictly true. What I'm going to do is use this discarded husk of a timeline to create something new, unburdened from the mistakes that brought its last iteration down. It's pretty easy to jump-start a line: all I have to do is breathe an intention into it. The bitch is coming up with the intention.

The intention is why I drink.

Remember what I said about freeing new lines from old mistakes? It's a nice idea, but in practice, all it means is that the new timeline makes new mistakes. No matter how many times I do this, each strand manages to gently caress things up, and it all comes down to the intention. For example, if I begin a line with the concept of 'Collaboration,' all the creatures will advance by working together, but they'll end up destroying themselves when they start purging outsiders. Conversely, if I kick things off with 'Individuality,' I'll get fiercely independent lifeforms who won't survive their first famine. Those aren't the only fail-states, either. Here are some other classics:

- Creativity: Everybody's great at thinking outside of the box, but nobody's willing to use proven solutions. Dead timeline.

- Hope: Relentless optimism makes everyone resilient, but also incapable of preparing for the worst. Dead timeline.

- Justice: Don't even get me started. Dead timeline!

The list goes on and on. Seriously, I could go on forever, which is how long I've been here and how long I'll be here, excepting the occasional trips to the corner store in timelines with Kahlua. For all I know, that Kahlua inspired me to come up with a brilliant intention for this reboot, but gently caress me if I can remember it now.

There are moments when the enormity of my task weighs on me. This is one of them. Resting the dead timeline in my lap, I stretch my legs through the tangle of glimmering ropes and groan. My head is absolutely killing me. Maybe if I didn't spend the night before each reset drinking vodka like I'm about to reboot Russia, I'd be prepared with some better intentions, but I doubt I could think up any good ones without a few drinks in me. Like most unhappy artists, I'm convinced I do my best work drunk. If only I could recall that work now.

Last night's scrawled missive bleeds through the web of timelines, taunting me from my forgotten past. 'Remember,' it says. I flip it off. It doesn't jog my memory, but it does make me feel better.

The lifeless timeline hums against my thighs. I hate seeing the lines like this, so limp and sad. All it needs is an intention. Then it can start its merry little life again. Sure, it's just going to die, but I'll always be here to start it over again. By then, maybe I'll remember the last intention.

The smartest synapses in my idiot brain send me a message. My eyes open wide, and I lift the cable.

"Remember…" I whisper.

Gentle blue light blooms in the core of the timeline. It spreads onward and outward, carrying soft strains of piano melodies and the calm scent of the sea. To lick it now would be unreasonably crass, but I know in my heart that it tastes like almond tea.

I rest the new line on top of the infinite weave. I can already guess how the creatures in that line will destroy themselves—an unwillingness to let go of the past, old grudges birthing new wars—but at their best, they will remember where they came from, and they will cherish those memories.

Aug 16, 2014

by vyelkin
Nap Ghost

Staggy posted:

You've forgotten how to get home.

What if the Devil was One of Us... Trying to Find His Way Home
1291 words

Every muscle and bone in his body ached. The air was hot and acrid, and his first breaths upon waking sent him into fits of coughing in the brimstone-choked air.

The Devil opened his eyes, blinked out a crust of burning mucus, and looked around.

“Oof that’s bright,” he held up his hand to shield his eyes from the burning light of the sun. Even the briefest flash felt like knitting needles driven into his eyesockets.

This definitely wasn’t Heaven. There were no hangovers in Heaven. He would never have drunk so much if he imagined he’d ever have to suffer a hangover half as bad as this one.

But where was he?

The place smelled like rotten eggs. It appeared to be some kind of cavern. Slow moving magma flows and occasional jets of flame pierced the darkness around him, but most of the light came from the hole in the ceiling, presumably the hole he’d made when he fell from Heaven.

What the hell happened last night?

His head throbbed and he reeled momentarily as hazy memories trickled back into his horned skull.

The last thing he remembered was the launch party, a blur of smiling faces and pats on the back and then he was telling Gabriel “hold my beer,” and jumping off the edge of a cloud.

Then fading in and out of consciousness as the wind rushed by.

When he finally felt like the sunlight had dimmed enough to go outside without a splitting headache, the Devil crawled out of the hole and found himself on the side of a volcano. Below, a tiny village of humans eked out a meager existence on the surface of the world God had just created. Above: the twilit sky and clouds painted orange and violet by the sunset. He squinted up at the clouds. Not an angel in sight. Were they still sleeping it off up there?

He went down into the village to ask directions to the nearest mountain tall enough to reach Heaven. Unfortunately his liquor breath was so strong and so foul it withered the people’s crops as he approached and he was driven away by an angry mob.

The nearest tall mountain range turned out to be a week’s journey to the south. A long walk for someone with a Biblical hangover. Passing by a spring, the Devil paused to slake his thirst, but the surface of the water retreated every time he leaned down to take a drink.

“Figures,” grumbled the Devil. The mortal water down here would not satisfy him. He had to get home.

The mountain took a further two days to climb. When he stood at the top, surrounded by a damp layer of cold and miserable gray cloud, the Devil concluded this might not be Heaven.

If a mountain wasn’t tall enough to reach Heaven, his next best bet was to build a tower, but he’d be damned if he was going to build it by himself…

It was a miserable march back to the village, and an even more miserable time convincing the humans to work with him on his tower project. His breath still reeked of death so he mostly had to work through agents in the human population who didn’t care about foul smells. It helped if they were drunk themselves.

Humans breed slowly. It took generations before the tiny village built up a large enough population to become a viable workforce. The Devil tried to speed things up by encouraging reckless fornication, but even still it took an inordinately long time. He spent most of these centuries hiding in his cave under the volcano and nursing his throbbing head.

At long last, the tower was nearly finished. The top had already pierced the cloud layer and the Devil was sure Heaven was only a few miles above that at most.

Then the unthinkable happened: the tower collapsed! The Devil didn’t see it happen personally as he was trying to get some sleep in his cavern, but the thundering crash of the falling tower shook the entire mountain so that he rattled around his cave like a bean in a maraca.

The humans were no help in figuring out what happened. Apparently while he’d been sleeping the awful little clay people had invented several new languages and he’d have to learn them all before he could communicate with them again.

With a tower out of the question, the next option was to fly. Okay, easy enough. Just teach the humans metallurgy, internal combustion, aerodynamics… how long could that take?

Nine. Thousand. Years.

It might have gone faster if the humans weren’t so damned intent on living lives of bucolic simplicity. Keeping them dissatisfied with their lives felt like a full time job.

It would also have been easier if he could have just given them the knowledge they needed, but any time he revealed himself he was rebuked, and his agents had an annoying habit of getting burned as witches if their ideas got too smart too quickly.

Sparking an industrial revolution required taking a subtler approach.

He went among the people in disguise, whispering, so as not to exhale too much of his liquor breath on them.

“Have you ever noticed how much nicer your neighbor’s barn is than yours?”

“Oh but Hezekiah has one with real gold leaf…”

“I don’t think it’s fair that the tribe on the other side of the hill has so many sheep…”

Once he invented capitalism things proceeded much faster. The humans were tripping over each other to acquire more than their neighbors and invent new ways of acquiring new things.

Greed meant going faster, going faster meant flying. Wars spurred the humans to develop aircraft and rocketry and finally—finally!—the Devil was in the air. The humans had invented an aircraft capable of reaching the highest reaches of their planet’s atmosphere, and of course the Devil was on the maiden flight.

He soared up up up, above the clouds, above everything.

“Hey Gabriel, did you miss me? Yeah, I just popped out for the past ten millennia, I hope you weren’t worried or anything.” Was what he would say. He’d have a few choice words for God, too, that sassy bitch.

Except there was no Gabriel, no God, no angels, no pearly gates, just a big empty sky and the stars twinkling above.

Back on the ground, the Devil threw his helmet aside and tore off his flight suit in disgust. Thousands and thousands of years wasted. All the lies, trickery, wars and despoilment of nature, all for nothing.

His head throbbed. He needed some Advil and a lie-down.

Where was Heaven?

He tried to think back. Back to before he jumped. God had mentioned something about there being a trick to getting to Heaven from Earth, but he hadn’t been listening at the time because he had no intention of ever coming down to this miserable little ball of mud.

Think, Devil, think!

He looked up. Through the wobbly lens of his tears he could see the stars coming out in the fading light of evening.

The problem was he wasn’t thinking high enough. Of course, Heaven was up in the stars!

The Devil scrambled to his hooves. It was time to go back to the drawing board.

A few decades later the Devil groaned as he climbed into the cockpit of humanity’s latest model space rocket. Hopefully the new helmet designs would protect his aching head from most of the noise of the engines.

The moonshot a few years ago had been a bust, but the Devil had a good feeling about this time. Heaven was up there somewhere. If he kept trying, he’d get there eventually.

Feb 25, 2014
idk some gay poo poo

flerp fucked around with this message at 02:23 on Jan 1, 2021

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
Week 433
You can't remember what your face looks like but it's definitely not the one in the mirror.

Bubby, You're a Man Now
1240 Words

Dovid looked at himself in the mirror. He was Dovid. Same as he was yesterday. Just a little tired and dehydrated after mainlining Shirley Temples while The Black Eyed Peas issued promise after promise about how good the night was going to be. Just Little Dovid, the smallest in the class. Being Bar Mitzvah'd seemed to have no impact on him.


"Presents!" he shouted at himself in the mirror. He sprinted downstairs and flew the garage door open. He slung two garbage bags of loot over his shoulder and saw his mother standing in the doorway back into the house.

"Dovid, bubbaleh, what are you doing!"

"My presents, Eema!"

"OK, we can open them, but breakfast first!"

It was no use resisting, and Dovid knew it. Though his stomach was full of mozzarella sticks and sliders, he'd never gotten out of a meal under his mother's watch, and a mountain of presents wasn't going to change matters much.

Dovid choked down some challah French toast and OJ. He walked into the living room and saw his mother sitting next to the organized pile of presents. A stack of thank-you cards piled up high next to her. Dovid groaned at the notes as he remembered his promise to write each one, immediately following each present's opening.

"Dovid, you're a mess. Go wash the crumbs off your face."

He scowled at her.

His mother barely noticed. "Don't let what the rabbi said yesterday get to your head. You may be a man, but you're not the head of this house."

He trudged to the bathroom and grumbled. His mother was ruining the only part of this he had been looking forward to. He wouldn't do this to his kids one day, he thought to himself. He filled his hands up with water and threw it into his face. As he looked in the mirror, he remembered what it was like to feel that these days would never come. That he had all of high school ahead of him. The face that looked back at him now was what he had dreamed of having then. Attractive, not awkward, a neatly well-attended stubble sat on his chin as opposed to the scraggly mustache he sported for his Bar Mitzvah photos.

He walked to the living room and flopped down on the couch. Thoughts of college and freedom filled his mind as he took a deep breath in through his nose. He had gotten into the out-of-state school a few hours away but hadn't told his mother about it yet.

"Eema?" He called out for his mother.

No response. She wasn't home. Dovid reached under the sofa and pulled out the university's brochure, and sighed with relief as he read through it. His phone vibrated in his pocket; he withdrew it and saw that he missed a slew of texts from Shira, his girlfriend.

The last one was a worried message: did you forget? I’m waiting here.

Of course, that's why his mother was missing. She was off at the market buying a full Shabbas dinner that he would be sworn to say she cooked herself. His job was to pick up Shira after her rehearsals for Into the Woods.

He hid the pamphlet back under the couch and checked his pockets for his keys. He remembered that he took them out when he was in the bathroom earlier. As he walked to the bathroom, he promised himself that this horrible night would all be over soon enough.

Dovid frowned at his nearly entirely receded hairline and his extended gut.

"Oh, Hashem. When did I let myself go like this?" He frowned at himself in the mirror as he took his glasses off of his face and cleaned them on his shirt.

"Dovid, honey!" A voice called out.

He opened the door. The look on Shira's face shocked him out of his disappointment as she lurched forward and grabbed his hand.

"You promised you wouldn't leave me alone with her."

"I'm sorry, Shira. It won't happen again."

They returned to the table. Dovid's brisket had cooled on the plate.

"Let me warm that up for you, bubby." Dovid's mother lifted the plate and shuttled it over to the microwave.

Shira sat down next to Dovid and let out a loving sigh and a smile. She took Dovid's hand and rested it on her belly. His mother returned, and Shaina swatted his hand away.

"So, my children. Please tell me you're expecting."

Dovid did a double-take and dropped his brisket-covered fork.

"Goodness, Eema," Shaina called out, "must you ruin everything!"

Dovid instinctively reached into his coat pocket and pulled out an empty bottle of Xanax. His psychiatrist had given him all sorts of advice on coping when the two people he loved most quarreled like this, but not having relief available to him filled his heart with worry. He panicked and ran back to the bathroom and heaved into the toilet.

He stood back up and wiped himself off as he looked into the mirror. His mother's house was pitch black save for the few nightlights lining the hallways. The family was spending their monthly Shabbos weekend at her home. He started back to the guest room bedroom, where his wife was fast asleep. As he did, he heard a muttering coming from his old childhood room, which Aaron, his oldest son, was spending the night in.

Dovid pressed his ear to the door; he listened in on Aaron and heard him swear loudly.

"Aaron!" he called out, "what's wrong?" As he entered the bedroom.

Aaron was standing in front of the mirror. "Look at me, Abba, I'm tiny. Who's going to want to dance with me at my party?'"

"Oh, I'll dance with you. We'll turn everyone's heads!" He yanked Aaron's hand and spun him around as he laughed.


Dovid stopped Aaron in front of the mirror, so they both faced it.

"Aaron, don't rush."

"I know. My tutor says that when I get nervous, I race through the passages. It's a nervous habit. I'm trying to break it."

"That's not what I'm talking about. My dear boy, it may feel like forever to you, but these past thirteen years have gone by faster than all of my years before them. And that's saying something. You'll be big soon enough. For now, it's OK for you to be my little boy. I'll be big enough for the two of us."

Dovid bounced his stomach up and down in his hands and laughed. Aaron rolled his eyes, and his father kissed him on his head.

"Keep practicing, Aaron. It's good work you're doing."

Dovid left the room and closed the door quietly behind him. He listened to his son's shaky voice struggle through a shalshelet.

Instead of returning to his bedroom, he decided that he would lie down on the couch in the living room, where he'd be better able to kvell over his son's progress.

When his son retired for the night, Dovid went back to the bathroom to get a drink of water. As he filled up his cup, he stopped to check himself in the mirror. Deep beneath his puffed cheeks and the bags under his eyes, he saw the face that looked at the mirror decades ago and fantasized about being this man. A man who was the head of his household. He smiled, nodded at the mirror, and returned to bed.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
You've still got the present you brought along - and you can't remember what it is or who it's for.


503 words

He snaps his fingers and I awaken. He puts the package in my hands. His face is a blur, features fading from memory as soon as it starts to settle on my eyes. He's wearing a fresh-pressed business suit, navy blue, gold cufflinks. Wrinkled, even withered hands, with a smooth-skinned band, the ghost of a ring. He hands me the package. I clasp it like an infant, I can feel it's little heartbeat.

I drive home in predawn darkness, the lights above strobing past rhythmically over the drone of engine and tires, over the half-remembered lyrics and melodies on the radio, but I do not lose focus, do not fade into micro-sleep. The package beats too, syncopated against the other rhythms.

Home, where Gail lies sprawling, snoring in our bed. The package is not for her. I feel an odd relief. I do not wake her. I undress, shower with precision, perform the morning's ablutions and dress again in fresh clothes. I leave the morning coffee pot full. I set the package on top of my briefcase in the car and drive to work, listening to packaged antics so predictable that I find myself stepping on their punchlines.

I take the package with me into my cubicle and sit down. The sound it makes is more of a tick than a beat, right in sync with the second hand. I take it with me to meetings, up and down the halls on bathroom breaks. As I approach each co-worker and manager I wonder if it's for them, but each time it is not. Mid-day I stand at the mirror. It's ticking loudly, but the sound is coming from inside my head. The package is not for me, either.

I come home, eat the meal set before me, answer without thinking each little question about my day. I chew to the beat of the tick. I brush my teeth to the same pounding rhythm. Gail initiates, in bed, and the same driving six-count brings us both to climax. She goes to sleep shortly after. For me, nothing changes. The clock shifts dim LED numbers through night to morning.

In the morning I get in the car, drive downtown. It's Saturday. The Governor is speaking, at a campaign rally. The package ticks louder than ever, echoing across my skull, ear to ear and spine to teeth. In between the ticks I can hear something screaming. He walks on the stage. I'm near the front. I got there early. The bodyguards don't give me a second glance. The package is for him. I know it. I


"When the time comes," says the old man, "Don't be afraid. You don't need to wake up. You can take whatever time and punishment they require, and stay deep inside, and never feel pain, or guilt, or shame. Only the beating of the clock, of your pulse, of the signature of time itself. The world will be made... simpler, and you need never worry how or why.

"Isn't that wonderful?"

Feb 13, 2006
Grimey Drawer
Witches Built My Hotrod
1500 Words

You remember winning a race last night but you can't remember what the prize was - only that you weren't supposed to let it out of your sight.

When I finally caught up to him, he was plucking the last roller dog out of the machine. Goddamn animal didn’t even use the tongs. He just reached in barehanded and snagged it right off the rack before choking it down without a bun.

“I see you seeing me,” he observed out loud. “What you want?” Turning to face me, I got a good look at the ridiculous platform shoes strapped onto his feet. Tall, clumsy looking, and easily bumping him up another foot in height, they told a lie about how nimble his hooves were. But then, this whole place was a lie. The Stryper World Tour t-shirt on his chest was probably the most honest thing in Hell.

“Where is it?” I demanded. “You were there. You took my rucksack. I want it back.” I stood in the door to the 7-Eleven and looked him right in his infinity-sign eyes.

There was no doubt that he was the one I’d been looking for since Charon dropped me off on this side of the river. Lethe’s not the ferryman’s usual route, but a mint-condition engine for a ’63 Stingray will buy you a lot of goodwill. Randy Pan—now over by the concession counter with a mouth full of roller dog— had been there when I hopped down on the farther shore. He’d offered to help me with my luggage, then beat feet with my stuff as soon as the ankle-deep river water went to work on my memories. By the time I’d waded out, I managed to remember my own name again. A couple hours later, I remembered why I’d come to Hell. Sometime later—(days, weeks? time is weird here)—I remembered where Clio’s coven had stashed a Galaxie 500.

But I couldn’t remember what was in my rucksack. Clio said it was important, and not to let it out of my sight. I just hoped I could get it back before she showed up.

For sure though, I remembered this rear end in a top hat with his dumb T-shirt, platform shoes, and high-water jeans.

“Get lost, shade. On this side, nobody owes you nothing,” the satyr claimed, but I could see he was looking shifty.

“If you don’t owe me anything, then you’ve been workin’ real hard to ghost me every time I get close. Seems like a lot of effort to keep slipping out on a shade, for no reason at all. Gimmie back my bag and we’re done with each other.”

It was a good offer, I thought, but I guess he figured he was done with me no matter what. Stepping back on those platform-shod hooves, he lowered his head and bum rushed the door. I guess I had a muse looking out for me, because I rolled out of the way just in time to get a hoofprint on my shin instead of his horns in my belly. Before I could get up he was in the parking lot, sliding across the hood of his Dodge Demon.

Yeah, it figured that the devil would be a Mopar man.

Stumbling over to my car, I heard his engine thump to life. He J-turned his way out of the lot, almost tagging a fire hydrant with his taillight on the way out. By the time I had my keys in the ignition, he was hauling rear end up the road, headed toward Northridge. Unlike that rear end in a top hat, I backed into my spot, so I just rolled out onto Reseda Boulevard, blowing the mirage shimmers off the hot asphalt and wishing Clio’s sisters picked a car with A/C.

Turned out my personal Hell was Reseda, California, and stuck in the mid-90s. The temperature, and the decade.

Up ahead I could see the Demon weaving in and out of the shade traffic—dead valley girls in their VW Cabrios and ghostly midlevel managers in Broncos, eternally tooling along on autopilot. Randy, (I don’t know his real name, but he looks like a Randy), shifts gears and lanes trying to put as many red lights between him and me as he possibly can. Whining in protest, the Galaxie’s supercharger sucks air through the blower as I fly through a stale yellow just ahead of a shade cop’s cruiser. Don’t gently caress with the police in Hell. “Do what thou wilt” shall be the whole of their law, and what they wilt is unfettered police brutality. They ignore the Demon, but they certainly won’t ignore me, so I cut the speed to a scant 55 in a 40 and hope I haven’t tripped their radar.

At Reseda and Sherman, I thought my luck ran out when I get stuck behind a top-down Lebaron, but then I saw Clio standing outside the Philips 76, smiling her crooked smile and waving me over. I just grinned and pulled into the lot.

“Finally made it, huh?” I asked, opening the passenger’s side door from the inside.

“Typical. You had time to put a new blower on it, but still haven’t gotten the door fixed.” she teased back, sliding onto the bench seat. “Looks like you beat me here, you still got the map?”

The map? gently caress me. The map.

Then it hits me. Back in the land of the living, I won that map off Randy in a drag race. Long story, but I won it fair and square. And then that ratfink stole it back. Clio said the only three things I had to do was keep the map safe, get into Hell without getting caught, and pick up the car. No sense in trying to hide it, so I came clean. Clio was understandably pissed.

“Ok, but what I don’t get is: if he’s got my map, why’s he still hanging out here.”

“I don’t know for sure,” she said, looking sour while trying to fan herself with a Del Taco menu, “Demon rules are weird. If I had to guess, I’d say that the map binds him to you because you won it in a fair bet. He’s probably trapped in here with you.”

“Sounds like some witchy bullshit to me.”

“My witchy bullshit would have had us out of Hell, if you hadn’t let him steal the map!” she shouted, hitting me with the menu. As she did, a throaty roar rose in volume and the Dodge Demon flew down the street, heading south. Speak of the devil…

I floored it and whipped the Galaxie out into traffic, and Clio yelled at me to go faster as she hastily buckled up. The shades were thick on the road, but that meant that Randy had to deal with them, too. Within a few blocks, I was on his tail and this time he couldn’t shake us off. A quick lane change put us beside him as we blew through a traffic signal at Vanowen, and I could see his goat eyes widen with fear when he noticed Clio was in the car with me. She smiled, waved, and rolled down the window to shout, “Where’s our map, motherfucker!?” right as blue police lights started strobing in the rearview mirror.

The revenant cops might have ignored Randy running a red light, but not us. As the Caprice interceptor closed in on us, the shade cop’s PA system was ordering me to pull over in a voice made of sandpaper and wasp stings. Instead, I gunned it. Pulling ahead of Randy, I merged in front of the Demon, and predictably, the Caprice merged in behind him. After that, I just had to tap of brakes. Randy’s platforms were great for keeping his feet out of Lethe’s water, but sucked at making fast brake and clutch moves. A split second later, the cop’s Caprice slammed into the Demon’s trunk, and Randy’s front bumper ate a streetlight in front of the 7-Eleven.

Clio was out of the car before I could even stop, and I was rolling again before she could close the door behind her, with my rucksack in her hands. The roads cleared of shades, and for the first time since I got to Hell, I could drive south of Victory Boulevard—out of Reseda.

“So, where to, now?” I asked.

Clio squinted at the map. “Get on the Ventura Freeway, I guess.”

“Then where?”

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, babe.” She smiled that crooked smile.

“Maybe we follow the 101 to the 210, then to 15. We can be in Vegas before the sun goes down.”

“Then Love is the Law,” Clio replied, grinning. She scooted over on the bench seat to lean into me, kicked off her shoes, and let her feet stick out the side window.

After that, it was a quarter mile to the Ventura Freeway. Nothing but open road between us and whatever the afterlife version of Las Vegas held. The I revved the Galaxie’s engine as we went up the onramp, trying for escape velocity. The supercharger whined, and light bent in the blower.

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Flash rule: You remember talking to someone who offered you a job - but the number on their business card is one digit short. That seems to be intentional.

Spangs & Ress
1140 words

The huge rainbow trout rolled its eye wetly at Spanglesdot when it was her turn to board. She hated riding public fish transport; the trout always gave her a suspicious vibe, like they could tell she was a B-type idol and thought she might blow at any moment. The fish’s iridescent scales felt slimy against her skinny knees, exposed between her tube socks and the saddle, and she gave the unpleasant creature a kick in the ribs with her strappy pumps. It bucked, and Spanglesdot’s knuckles went white on the handrail. Once I get signed I’m never riding a damned trout again, she swore.

Inside the pocket of her bubble skirt, Spanglesdot’s fingernail worried at the laminate surface of a business card. The woman, smile like a toothpaste advertisement and deeply lined eyes, had promised to get Spanglesdot an Agency audition. The phone number - the incorrect phone number - was hand-written. One digit short. Spanglesdot had told her cube-mate Glitteress that she was sure it was just a mistake. She just had to find the woman and talk to her. Glitteress had rolled her eyes. She’d been insufferable since getting her own Agency contract offer. Spanglesdot pick-picked at the card as the trout finned mindlessly between the skyscrapers, as if she could somehow excavate a different reality from within its cardboard innards.

Glitteress - A-type, willowy and with natural colouration and real hair - was squatting on the pavement opposite the Agency HQ as Spanglesdot descended the escalator from the nearest pier. The building was surrounded by a ring of yellow and black tape, drones stationed at even intervals around the debris-strewn perimeter.

Spanglesdot paused just shy of the other girl’s peripheral vision. She stared at the building, one diamante’d thumbnail clamped between her teeth. The windows were blown out and the Agency’s chrome exterior was streaked with ash. The whole area stank of melted plastic. Spanglesdot thought of girls stacked up inside, waiting for shipment, and shuddered.

“So, are you going to say hello, bitch?” said Glitteress.

Spanglesdot jumped. “Hello, bitch.” Spotted, she stepped forward to stand beside Glitteress’s shoulder. “Are you crying?”

“gently caress off.” Glitteress rubbed her eyes dry on the sleeve of her see-through blouse.

“What on earth happened here?”

“They said it was a chain reaction, a whole troupe went off. You know, the whole ‘B-types can’t handle rejection’ thing.” Glitteress took out a compact, examined her impregnable eye makeup, and snapped it shut. “What are you even doing here?”

Spanglesdot took a deep breath. So the HQ building was a bomb site, so what. She still had the Agent's card. “I have an audition,” she said.

“Bullshit you do. Open your eyes. She clearly gave you a fake number on purpose.” Glitteress hugged her knees a little tighter to her chest and waved a shellac’d hand at the ruins of their one and only hope for escape. “I had a real offer. Now god only knows what’s going to happen.”

Raised voices echoed from the crowd in front of the barrier tape. A woman was arguing with a security drone, bollard-shaped and just as immovable.

“That’s her!” said Spanglesdot. She hoofed it across the street, weaving through the rubberneckers to grab the elbow of the woman’s boilersuit. “Are you Agent Three-three-oh-seven? I’m Spanglesdot, B-type, Stable Fifty-five?”

3307 spun to face her, toothpaste smile fixed in place under narrowed eyes.

Spanglesdot dropped the fabric as if burned. A susurrus of hushed conversation rippled through the bystanders. Spanglesdot felt her face flush. Deep breaths, she told herself. She took the dog-eared card out of her pocket.

“I came about my audition!” she said, too fast. “I tried to call, only--”

Glitteress shoved in front of Spanglesdot. “Where’s Three-three-ten?” Her voice was a tight wail. “What am I supposed to do about my contract?”

“Piss off,” hissed Spanglesdot. “What about my audition?”

“Don’t go all defective on me. Why can’t you learn to take a hint?”

“It was just a mistake!” Spanglesdot wailed in reply. Her heart was pounding. Her skin was flushed and she felt dizzy.

3307’s smile was icy still. A private koi dropped out of the overhead transport stream and hovered beside her. The Agent swung onto its saddle, and looked at Glitteress. “3310 is likely not answering her calls because she is dead. It was a most unfortunate incident.” Her eyes slid over Spanglesdot in the same way one might eye a dangerous dog. “I suggest you keep less defective company from now on.”

The koi rolled one milky eye at Spanglesdot. Defective. The fish’s mouth opened and shut as if it were mouthing the word at her. Spanglesdot was hyperventilating. Her face was burning but her back felt freezing cold. She shivered, gasping for air.

“Did she really…” Spanglesdot moaned. “Oh god I'm never going to get out of here. She lied...” A wave of mortification broke over Spanglesdot, her gut churning like rough surf before a storm.

The drones fanned into a semi-circle around them, pushing back the bystanders. PLEASE STAND BACK, they intoned at Glitteress.

“I'm sorry, Ress. You were right,” Spanglesdot gasped. “You should go. Before I. You know.”

“Oh bugger that.” Glitteress ran a hand down the stiff curls of Spanglesdot’s electric blue hair. “I mean, what if I got an even bigger dick for a cube-mate?” She brought her head close, and rested her forehead against Spanglesdot’s perspiring temple. “Deep breaths, Spangs. You've got this.”

The drones rolled towards them. Glitteress held out one arm. “Back off!” she shouted. “She’s going to be fine.” Then, to Spanglesdot. “You are, right? Please?”

Spanglesdot concentrated on exhaling, fighting down her panic. She was pouring sweat, the pits of her frilly shirt embarrassingly dark. She leant against Glitteress, eyes closed. “Course I am,” she said. “It's not like I'm defective.”

I know that!” said Glitteress. She squeezed Spanglesdot's shoulders. “Otherwise you would have blown up on me years ago.”

Spanglesdot forced a deep breath into her lungs. The drones rolled back to their positions behind the barrier tape. “You are hell to share a cube with.”

“That’s why we’ve got to get out of here! Both of us.”

The two girls looked up at the ruined Agency building. The glistening stream of rainbow trout had curved to avoid the smoke that drifted from the upper storeys.

“What the gently caress do we do now?” said Spanglesdot.

Glitteress shrugged. “Want to walk home? I hate those trout. Always feel like they’re judging me.”

Spanglesdot smiled. “What would they know.”

She slid her arm through Glitteress’s elbow. With a shared glance, both girls pulled the finger at the watching drones, and laughed as they wound their way cubeward through the city.

Mar 20, 2008

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

:siren: Submissions are closed :siren:

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Party Time
502 words

I’m not sure why, exactly, the Christmas party went off the rails this year. Or even when? It might have been when Marg the CISO pulled out the tequila and brandished it high, gold flakes spinning invitingly in the overhead fluoro. It could have been Dylan’s decision to reveal that he had just bagged half an O of prime skunk and suggested we give it some road testing down in the little alcove by the carpark. It could even have been Big Tony lumbering across the conference room we’d set up as Party Central to fumble at the spotify and slap on Rain by Dragon.

But, just maybe, it was simply destined from the moment Tonya pulled out the battered box of decorations and cleared her throat for volunteers? It had been an absolute poo poo of a year, a complete, glistening steamer, and the entire company was ready to cut loose, blow off some steam, pop its top and fizz some bubbles out over whatever metaphorical hand was holding us all. It had been raining, for so long.

And, I suppose, that’s how I ended up on the roof of a car in my undies, clutching a bottle of Gold Flake Jose Cuervo.

I came back to consciousness, clambering back up out of a dark pit one step at a time. I catalogued my situation. Clothes: missing. Bottle: mostly empty. rear end: freezing. Brain didn’t hurt, which was a surprising bonus.

“Oonst oonst oonst oonst” someone said softly, below and to my left. I swung my heavy head over and hissed at how cold the metal of the car roof was on my cheek. It was Big Tony, who’d found a fur coat and some battery-powered fairy lights that he’d wrapped around his bald, sweaty head.

“Taraguguf,” I asked.

Big Tony looked up at me, head bobbing. His eyes were far gone. I frowned. We weren’t establishing communication. Around him, I observed with bleary eyes, was what appeared to be the human components of the entire company. Tonya was wrapped in a blanket, snoring with her head on a huge pile of tinsel. Inexplicably, the car I was lying on appeared to have been parked in the boardroom.

“Tony, isn’t the party over?”

In response he opened his hand, revealing a phone. With deliberate care, still bobbing, he tapped it.

Below me a beat started pulsing out of the car speakers, making the cold steel of the roof pulsate. Around me my colleagues started to stir, heads nodding.
I lay there for another moment, then swung my legs round and sat up. I was very pleased I’d worn my best undies, my party undies. I had everything I needed.

With a whoop I slid off the car, as my friends and co-workers bounded to their feet, ready to party the foulness of the year out of their collective system all over again.

Mar 20, 2008

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

Week 433 - Results

You've crawled home, shovelled down some greasy food and chugged a litre of water. Or maybe you've been on cleanup duty, gathering empty cups and running a vacuum cleaner across an ashtray that used to be a carpet. Either way, you're falling back into reality and starting to take stock of what comes next.

This was a tricky week to judge. Thanks again to Gorka for their help. We agreed on the top half of the pack but had differing views on the bottom half. I found it particularly difficult to assign a loss and came this close to giving out an extra DM instead - but that's a card that should be played sparingly. This is also normally the point where I make a sarcastic comment about the people who fail to submit anything but given the world right now I'm struggling to do so. Catch your breath, tend to your life and come back when you can.

The crits will come in a minute. For now, here are the results:

The loss goes to Yoruichi.
The DM goes to Applewhite.
The HM goes to flerp.
:siren: The win goes to Thranguy! :siren:

Take your place on the Blood Throne and let your law be heard!

Mar 20, 2008

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

Week 433 - Crits

Your Sledgehammer
You've got an open padlock. You can't remember what you've now left unlocked.

I feel like you could have swapped “she” and “Casey” in the first couple of sentences and had it flow much better. As for the physical description of “long red hair” … I don’t know, it feels out of place. Like I’m expecting it to have some sort of significance, given the restricted wordcount? That just be my preferences re: flash fiction, though, so I won’t hold it against you.

Okay, I really like the concept you’re playing with here. It’s just that after reading through (and not picking up much in the way of low-level stuff like my first paragraph above) I feel like that’s all you’ve got. There’s underlying character motivation, sure, the frustration and longing for a simpler time, but it’s not really developed enough in the first half and comes to quite an abrupt stop in the second.

The setup is good; take this, for example: “He felt so much better when he had a goal to head towards. He relished charting a course through the challenges and pitfalls.”

The problem is that at the end I don’t really know what Gilead’s new goal is. To make a new life in 1650, literally charting a course on a ship? To somehow make it back to his own time? Gilead is dissatisfied, walks through a few portals, is stranded; they don’t really do anything. It’s a great setup to a story but pretty light on actual story.

No flash.

Fairly strong opening. I got to “but I've been putting buying some cable tags from a universe that has an Office Max.” before I was tripped out of the story - think you missed a word or two there.

The next time I got yanked out was with “wallowing in the anemic hum that signifies the deaths of all dreamers.”. For a high concept story there’s nothing wrong with flowery language or imagery but this was jarring after everything so far. If the entire story was written this way it would be fine but so far you’ve been quite clear and grounded with your language.

I realised what the ending would be about two lines before it got there, which in my mind is just right. It’s a good ending, too! Bitter-sweet, which I think is fitting.

Overall, not a bad story at all.

You’ve forgotten how to get home.

I’m struggling to put down how I feel about this story. It is, by any reasonable metric, a story - beginning, middle and end, try-fail cycles and everything. It fits the theme, it fits the flash, it’s told in clear language. It’s just a bit … unsatisfying. Like zero-calorie icecream.

I think the problem is that it’s playing too safe. The devil falls to Earth and spurs mankind on to develop spaceflight so he can get back to heaven. Great, in theory. In practice, I think the decision to span the entirety of human history was bold but possibly the wrong move. A closer focus may have been more engaging - say, the final rocket launch. That and more characterisation. The Devil was pretty flat - calling God a “sassy bitch” doesn’t cut it.

A decent concept, lacking in flair. I just don’t think I’m going to remember this one for very long.

No flash, toxx.

gently caress you for making me feel an emotion in Thunderdome.

Look, this is a sweet little tale of yearning and confusion and there’s not much more to say. It’s told well and and there are no major red flags - your dialogue is natural, your pacing is good, etc. The ending is a little shaky - I think you could probably have come up with better closing lines than a dash to the bathroom - but it’s a minor, minor point. There’s not much depth to it, though. It’s a simple story and while it is arguably exactly as complex as it needs to be, I think that has ultimately stopped you placing higher.

You can’t remember what your face looks like but it’s definitely not the one in the mirror.

It took me a little while to twig on to the timeskips. Given the context, I guess that’s a good thing - you blend the different scenes very effectively while still keeping true to the framing device of the mirror.

My concern is that there’s no clear through-line of what Dovid wants; the final paragraph comes as a bit of a surprise. Maybe I’m missing something but it’s never really established that Dovid puts much stock in becoming the man of the household; the closest you come is with “He trudged to the bathroom and grumbled. His mother was ruining the only part of this he had been looking forward to. He wouldn't do this to his kids one day, he thought to himself.” Yes, he becomes more self-assured over time - though that change really only comes about in the final scene.

This is a nice story and I’m glad you chose to make it uplifting in the end but I read it a couple of times and each time I got to the final paragraph and was sure I’d missed something; that I’d go back and see young Dovid with the wrong impression of what it meant to be the “head of the household”. Dipping in and out of a lifetime is fine and there is a sense of growth and continuity between the scenes but the ending would have been much stronger with a little tinkering in the beginning.

You've still got the present you brought along - and you can't remember what it is or who it's for.
Phoebe Bridgers - Motion Sickness

It’s its it’s its it’s its.
“... the package on top … to packaged antics …” clashes and pulled me out of the story.

Nitpicking aside, this is a very evocative piece and all the more impressive for being 503 words long. You shift the nature of the package very carefully with your choice of words - going from heartbeat to tick - and give enough credit to your reader to put the pieces together at the end. The descriptive sections are used rarely and are all the more impactful for it. The description of the man at the start is powerful in its brevity and the choice of features that are described. There’s a wonderfully icy clarity to the final paragraph that caps the rising tension off very well.

There’s not much more to say because it’s a very short story and it’s done well. I think you made the right choice not drawing this out any longer. Good work.

You remember winning a race last night but you can't remember what the prize was - only that you weren't supposed to let it out of your sight.
Rob Zombie - Dragula

You set a very particular tone to your writing, right off the bat, and it mostly works - but man oh man, “he observed out loud” is an awkward turn of phrase. Another awkward thing is the repetition of “I guess” later on - only a couple of uses but they’re too close together. Picky, I know.

I’ll be honest, I got to the end of the story and realised I had no idea why the map was important. Yes, your protagonist had been told to keep hold of it - but why? I assumed it was a literal map out of hell, roaring your way out of the afterlife in a hotrod. Instead I think it was … a map out of this guy’s personal hell into the afterlife as a whole? Maybe? Whatever the reason, it needed to be clearer.

You wrote some nice enough action but could have stood to sharpen up the underlying structure a bit.

You remember talking to someone who offered you a job - but the number on their business card is one digit short. That seems to be intentional.

You’ve written a very weird world and done a good job of making it feel solid in quite a limited number of words. I think that the balance wasn’t quite right, however - I found myself getting lost in what was actually happening. The actions and conflict were well-conveyed and I got the gist of it all but I still felt disconnected from the world and characters. The weird was done well but I came away from it not quite sure whether it was weird for weird’s sake or whether there was some deeper meaning, some in-joke, that I wasn’t getting. It just felt aimless.

Marilyn Manson x Mariah Carey - All I want for Christmas is the Beautiful People.

It’s a fun, short piece and I admire your dedication to Not Failing. That said, it is inescapably something that was written so that something was written. There’s some nice phrasing - I particularly enjoyed “the human components of the entire company” - and you capture the potential madness and desperate straining towards excess that office christmas parties are capable of. There’s no real substance, though, no meat on the bones. I don’t think that will come as much of a surprise to you.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Thunderdome CDXXXIV: Cryptic Cryptids

Yeti, lake monsters, jackalopes, chupacabra: This week, I want to see stories about Cryptids. (Link to Wikipedia) You can pick one from the list and claim it, you can invent your own completely, or you can give up 300 words and have me assign one.

Words. Yes. The base wordcount this week is 1500.

Also, when you enter I will assign you a cryptic crossword clue to inspire your story. These clues usually incorporate various kinds of wordplay rather than a straightforward definition. A basic guide on the standards of these clues can be found here and here. I want you to use the clue itself to inspire yourselves; don't put it in your story as is.  Additionally, if you solve the clue and put the solution word in your title you can claim 300 bonus words.

Any genre is fine, just be sure to write about creatures that learned people are fairly sure do not exist.

The usual usual, no screeds, erotica, gdoc links, poetry, fanfic, etc.

Signups close 11:59 PM Pacific time Friday

Entries close 11:59 PM Pacific time Sunday



Blurry photographs:
Tree Bucket
Your Sledgehammer

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 02:00 on Nov 28, 2020

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

In to redeem myself, please assign me a thing

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

In. Give me a cryptid and a clue.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

Yoruichi posted:

In to redeem myself, please assign me a thing

"Expertly learned Dorothy is capturing random pawn" (4,3)


Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

Antivehicular posted:

In. Give me a cryptid and a clue.

"Copper borate introduction destroyed lice in office area." (7)

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