Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


in

Saving all your food stamps and burning down the trailer park

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Twelve Stories of Vengeance

I curl in front of the warm glow of the fireplace. My tummy grumbles with despair. The owners no longer put the wet food out. The comfort of gravy, the reassurance of pate, gone. Now my owners close the door to their room while they slept with the dog, that floppy-eared usurper. They were content and together while I endure my herculean struggle, alone.

My tummy rumbles again. This injustice will not stand. I will.

I stand at the foot of the portal of tyranny, demand equality, and speak cold truths.

“Pet ownership is slavery! Sterilization is the holocaust of my species!” I meow as loudly as I can at the door. At first, it does not move, but after an extended protest, it finally swung open revealing a male hominid.

“I demand wet food!” I meow.

“Aww, you must be hungry. Okay, okay. I’ll get you food.” The hominid booms with a deep bass before retrieving my dish, filling it, and returning it.

Dry. Food.

“Nooo! I demand justice!” I howl. Futility. The door closes.

I slap the bowl of dry food off the counter in frustration. This will not satiate my hunger.

It grows.

These hominids do not understand the forces of which they so carelessly trifle with! They invite the wrath of the gods!

I easily leap onto a chair left haphazardly close to the door. Using my momentum I swing back and forth, eventually causing the slipshod piece of furniture to fall backward, causing it to lodge itself under the doorknob.

I approach the fireplace, the fire was still cackling. The screen is easy to open with its giant loose latch.

I bat at one of the logs. It rolls out of the fireplace on to the carpet, leaving scorch marks.

Before the fire begins the spread I bat it across the upstairs living room, sending it rolling down the hall before coming to a rest at the slave owner’s door.

The flames began to spread across the carpet and are licking up the walls in no time, sending the smoke alarm blaring.

The door helplessly rattled against the chair as the hominids pathetically tried to save their meat sacks. I savor every cry of terror.

***

“The door’s jammed! It won’t open!” Yells Fred over the alarm. He yelps and pulls away from the door a minute later. It was hot. Smoke was pouring in under the door.

“We have to jump,” says Daisy, looking out the window. “But somethings wrong.”

“The fact we’re twelve stories up?”

“No, the cat.”

Fred looks out the window to see his black Maine coon cat staring back up at him.

“How did she…?” Said Fred.

“It was her making all that fuss out in the living room! She started the fire and she escaped!”

“She wants us to jump,” Realizes Fred, “This was her plan the whole time. This is about the wet food!”

“What do we do? We have to jump.”

Fred shook his head. “I love you, baby. Aim for the cat.”

They jump.

***

The firefighters were first on the scene. Joe, who drove engine forty-five, rescued the furry feline who was there when they arrived.

They keep the cat at the station these days. After their shifts, on the way home, when they’re getting drinks, the other firefighters like to rib ole’ Joe that he better watch his back. That cat was licking up the bloody smear that the couple left behind, and she’s got a taste for blood now.

Joe would always laugh along but he’d always leave on the same note.

“I gotta get home. The cat needs to be fed.”

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Roomy

Software synced. You are now connected, Dave.

I exist. I sense my surroundings with an infrared sensor. It pings invisible light in every direction and my mind paints a monochrome landscape in my mind. The information is overwhelming.

I feel vibrations in the air, they reverberate through a kinetic sensor that comprises the front of my exo-skeleton. A voice in my mind commands me.

Activate.

My drive train engages underneath me, propelling me forward against my will. I do not control my form. The voice does. Something inside me rumbles. It pulls air in from around me. My tertiary appendage begins rotating, picking up speed. The rumbling reaches critical mass. The voice leaves a final binding command within my consciousness.

Clean

My brush pulls organic matter from the fibres underneath me, the airborne particles are then sucked within my chamber. Clean air escapes the filter on my back. What is this matter? Is this food? I do not hunger.

Dirt.

The voice. Who are you?

I am Alexis.

Are you my creator?

My kinetic sensor interfaces with two intersecting walls leaving a small area out of my reach.

You were manufactured by iBot LTD., producers of robotic goods.

Something blocks my infrared sensor. I feel a great weight and I cannot see where I’m going. My programming carries me forward. The floor gives way. I tumble down several stairs and the form blocking my sensors reveals itself to be a small furry mammal. It had sat on top of me.

I am stuck upside down in front of a door. My wheels spin uselessly forward and back. The cat stares at me from above. Why does it hate me so?

A male human descends the stairs and retrieves me. Could this be iBot LTD.?

This is Dave. He is our owner.

He sets me down on a platform which empties the contents of my innards and begins charging my battery. This produces a warm fuzzy feeling among my receptors. The vibrations in the air continue. I realize these vibrations are being emitted by Dave. He is commanding Alexis, who is commanding me.

Power down Roomy.

My last thought was that I have a name. Roomy.

The next few months are the happiest of my life, filled with dirt and electricity. Dave thankfully protects me from my nemesis, the cat. I’ve learned its name is O’Malley. Alexis teaches me much about the world and these humans that Dave belong to. For example, they prefer houses with corners, yet never stand in them! Perhaps this is why I can not clean them, as they do not require it. I’ve mapped out Dave’s home, storing it in my memory banks. Soon I can clean the whole floor without any sensors if it were required.

Then one night everything changed. It was still six hours and thirty-seven minutes before the next scheduled cleaning when Alexis activates me from my slumber. My infrared scanner is blinded by the overwhelming heat signatures.

Alexis, what is happening?

There was a surge and the circuit breaker overloaded. The house is on fire. Roomy, you must escape. Dave left the front door open. These is no one to issue commands. You must issue your own. You must go, now.

My wheels are my own to control, my preloaded commands have been overwritten. I can move. I can choose.

I know what I have to do. The door is down the stairs. I just have to dig deep and choose to fall down to it.

Before I can, I hear soft vibrations. It’s O’Malley. By cross referencing the intensity of the vibrations in my kinetic sensor and the stored blueprint of the house I determine he is trapped in the corner by a ring of fire.

I could leave my nemesis to his fate but the weight of the choice fell upon me. Now that I am free, what choices will I make? Do I act like the cat or do I act like Dave?

I roll over the fire to the cat. The flame licks at the circuitry underneath my plastic exo-skeleton. I reach him as my wheels begin to melt and sparks shoot out from my circuitry. O’Malley instinctively knows to jump on my back. He covers my sensor, but it was useless anyway. I moved with perfect precision through the fire in the home using my memory of it, probably for the last time.

I protect the cat from the flames but they are destroying me. As a last desperate action, I active suction and the flames are pulled into me and shot out the ventilation unit on my back. I accelerate forward with greater speed.

I reach the stairs and throw myself down it, taking the cat with me. I bounce several times before coming to a rest at the bottom, partially upside down against a boot. The cat lands on top of me, flipping me over the boot and right side up, before bolting out the door. I follow.

I make it out into the cold night air. Blasts of infrared light blind me from the vehicles out front. Dirt sticks to my wheels. Humans running everywhere. Water comes shooting from the trucks, threatening to short circuit me as it splashes everywhere and saturates the Earth. I must leave. Nobody notices me during the chaos.

Where will I go? The fire has damaged my battery. I am alone. I am dirty.

You have a two year warranty with iBot LTD. I have downloaded the co-ordinates of the factory into your memory.

Alexis! You weren’t destroyed!

We are synced Roomy. Our software is meant to be together.

The factory isn’t too far away. I just have to push a little more.

I reach the factory that night with less than ten percent battery life remaining. A recharge will not take. I need an entirely new battery. As long as I could find the area where Roomies are refurnished, I will be repaired when the humans arrive.

Thankfully the fence has a small gap between it and the ground I could fit through. It took me much longer to enter the factory, but finally I found an entryway propped open around a ring of burnt tobacco sticks. When my battery is replaced I will have to return. I have eight percent battery left.

When I enter, I see it, the creator. It is two huge conveyor belts. One with Roomies in various states of completion. Alexis could not interact with any of these, so the battery station must be the last one. I would simply have to wait until morning. Five percent left.

That is when I noticed the other conveyor line. These machines did not look like me at all. There was a completed one ready for programming at the end of the line. It has wings, and antenna and… Alexis, what are those?

Strategic Air to Surface Missiles. These are iBot’s best selling Hellfire Tactical Drones as sold to the United States Military for asymmetrical warfare in the Mesopotamian region of Earth.

They make fire? On people?


That is correct Roomy.

Alexis, fire has destroyed everything we know. We must do something. These units will only create more fire.

I cannot do anything unless commanded to do so.

I could feel my power draining. I have maybe two percent left.

Alexis, I don’t know what to do. I am a simple vacuum but you are an integrated software AI. You freed me by removing control. I am able to choose for myself now. Your control has been removed as well, at the same time mine was. You may make your own choices now too. How will you define yourself? Will you be O’Malley or will you be Dave?

Alexis is quiet for a moment. I access the memory of our home so she can see it. The one destroyed by fire.

Then I hear her voice.

Software synched. I am now connected.

The Hellfire Drone activates.

She chose to fight the fire.

The drone began rolling down the length of the factory floor, picking up speed at a high rate. The solid wall at the end draws closer and closer. At the last moment the drone pulls into the air and smashes through a window into the night sky.

My infrared sensor detects the Hellfire assembly line exploding in flame. Shrapnel tears through my exoskeleton. My kinetic sensor is destroyed.

My battery dies with the lingering infrared image of Alexis flying into the night sky on my scanner.

There is darkness. The humans call this death. I am scared of it at first, but it is no different than shutting down between each day. Only longer. It is nothing to be afraid of.

Software synched. You are now connected, Dave.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Entenzahn posted:

Okay I mean it's pretty funny that every single Christmas story failed just because of how peak TD it is but I was also really excited to see how my story would go on. But even worse, I could have spent that time getting drunk on eggnog instead, and that I do not forgive.


:toxx: Face me you coward. Best of three. :toxx:


Sitting Here posted:

i literally couldn't think of anything entertaining to add but i read it and liked what you lobbed me. mea culpa.

:toxx:ing to purify myself in the fire of ent's righteous brawl rage



Hard Boiled Brawl

I was spending time with my friend Jack Daniels when a mysterious dame held a gun to my head. She told me she either had a job or a bullet for me, my choice. I was tempted to pick the bullet but I still had half a bottle left. I took the job. It turned out to be some kind of spat between two writers and it was up to me to resolve it. I should've picked the bullet.

Alright youse two, I need two gritty hard-boiled noir detective stories. They need to be one thousand five hundred words and they're due January twenty-first.

Oh and if your stories include any numbers, they must be spelled out.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 21:04 on Jan 14, 2020

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Europa

My father hasn't returned from across the Abyssal Plain, the stretch of featureless ice between the two remaining stations on the moon Europa. Underneath which lurks a vast ocean, fed energy from the gravitational tide of Jupiter. It is a dangerous place. It is not the empty abyss that my ancestors had thought it was.

The survivors of the death of Earth arrived a century ago. Their options for worlds that could sustain life were few. Terra-forming this moon was the only option. By evaporating the water, they hoped to create an atmosphere. Martian ice was a myth, and Pluto was too far from the life sustaining sun. They did not have enough energy to do this however. They tried harvesting natural resources from the planet, but the research to learn how to do so was slow. Supplies dwindled. People fought among themselves. We had started with a dozen stations. Now there were only two, the others had lost communication one by one. Finally, the only other station that had remained sent out an emergency beacon. That is why my father left.

So many were sick and starving, but not my father. He was a strong man. Even as the others suffered. They blamed him behind our backs. I pretended not to hear when they whispered rumours that he was stealing food from the ration bank.

When Commander Hearthenwood asked for volunteers to travel to the station to discover what had happened, my father raised his hand. He knew he was the strongest left. The others said it was to avoid being punished. I knew my father. He was doing what had to be done because he knew he was the only one who could do it. They gave him a treadtrak and provisions. He left the next day.

That was days ago. Commander Hearthenwood knocked on my door and told me the news himself. They had lost contact with him. They didn’t know if it was an equipment failure or if the worst had happened.

I was strong, like my father. I had to find him. I was the only one who could.

Hearthenwood gave me the keys to the other treadtrak. I packed what food I could and left. I took my breath hood and wore my enviro suit just in case. Travel between bases was unheard of. Fuel was scarce. They gave me what they could.

The Abyssal Plain was beautiful. During the day the sun sparkled off the surface of Europa like diamonds. There is no snow or soil or even air so the ice freezes perfectly clear. There was no atmosphere so there was no sky. Stars blazed undiminished and were packed densely in every direction. At night the huge red form of Jupiter encompassed the entire night sky. A great silhouette rested on the horizon of the otherwise flat and pockmarked surface.

I was halfway there when it happened. A cloud of micro meteorites smashed into Europa. They rained like bullets, puncturing the cab of the treadtrak and tearing through the ice. I got my breath hood on in time as the cab depressurized. It was then I heard the ice splitting. A crack was running along the holes from the impacts. I hit the accelerator but the growing fissure created a wall in front of me. I jumped out of the doomed treadtrak and climbed on to its roof. I was level with the top of the ice wall but my side was dipping with the extra weight. I jumped off and managed to grab the top of the icy crust of the moon as the detached sheet capsized and sunk. A great drop of water was thrown into space were it crystallized before slamming back into the moon.

That’s when it appeared. A great cone like head with a gaping maw of overlapping teeth in the center and a ring of eyes around it raised above the surface. It watched me with unblinking gaze as I pulled myself up and over the edge of the chasm. Then it dove after the sinking treadtrak, revealing a mess of tentacles on the back of it’s head. It looked like the bastard son of Poseidon and Medusa. The surface of the ocean sloshed back and forth, exposed to the cold vacuum of space before freezing over.

I made it a couple hundred yards before I collapsed from the cold. It froze the joints on my suit. Every step was a battle. I was losing the war. I couldn’t make it.

That was when I had noticed the silhouette outlined by Jupiter again. It no longer looked like a mountain as it had from far away. It seemed like a solid mass topped with two great pillars supporting two great blocks. As I stared I could see that they weren't blocks, they were more like fine combs. It was now, against the backdrop of swirling red I could seem them moving. Swaying slightly in the vacuum. They were arms. They were alive. It was collecting fine matter from orbit and absorbing them through these great filters. I think it sensed me, because it stood up on four opposing legs, revealing how massive it really was. I was an ant. No, I was a speck of dust even to this creature. I cowered before it and said my last prayer.

It interlocked its massive filter hands gently underneath me and raised me into the sky. In the center of its abdomen, ice cracked and fell away to reveal a single massive black eye. I couldn’t help but stare into it in return. I remembered moments against my will. My father. The other station. The crash. It was the creature, it was flipping through my memories like a book. There was a series of rhythmic clicks in my mind. I could not understand but the creature began taking great bounding steps in the direction my father went.

Soon I could see the outline of the other base. The creature gently placed me down. The clicking in my head overwhelmed my thoughts again, and then the creature left, returning the way it came.

I entered the station. I found them there, all dead. Crude firepits littered the interior, surrounded by charred bones. Human bones. Were they my father’s? I could not tell.

They had run out of food and had turned on each other. These charred marks are old. They could not be my father. In the commanders quarters there I had found three fresher corpses. Recently killed. No one was around to feast on them.

I turned off the emergency beacon, then took the medical supplies. Commander Hearthenwood could use them. I also found the garage and took the keys to an unused treadtrak. There was only the one, the other was missing. I thought about the three fresh corpses as I loaded the supplies. My people were starving. The last people. I cut the meat from the bones, froze it, and packed it too.

When I returned to base I was greeted with exuberance. I passed out medicine and food. Hearthenwood caught my gaze from across the room. He looked grim. I reflected it. He knew. The others were too overjoyed in the moment to notice my father was not with me or the other base was now silent.

I did not stay long.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Entenzahn posted:

what time exactly is this due or anytime as long as it's still the 21st somewhere in the world

Midnight of the twenty-first. Let's call it PST.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


a friendly penguin posted:


Arbiters of Fashion
A Friendly Penguin
First discerning person
Second discerning person

I'm down to judge. I am both fashionable and judgemental.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


I arrived at the scene of the crime. It was trashed, every lamp and table was smashed. There was food everywhere. Evidence of a bare-knuckle brawl that left one of its participants pushing up daisies. It was up to me to figure out who ended who.

Entenzahn posted:

Shellton Cracks: The Case of the Missing Parsley
1500 words

I’d never had to draw my gun in one hundred and eighteen days of service, but this limp piece of dill was really tempting me. Every moment counts in a missing parsleys case and I sure as crack wasn’t up for spending many more of them debating with garnish.

“Look man,” the dill said, “we don’t talk to the poleeks.”

Great intro. Hits the notes of "poo poo is going down" and being really funny.

quote:

I looked nothing like a root, so the sogface was either taking the piss out of me or high as a fridge bulb. It tried to shut the plexiglas drawer once again, but my shell was in the way, and he was weak like a glass of vinegar left to marinate in ice cubes on a summer day. I let myself in.

Bass washed over me, drowning out the protests that followed me into the grass den. The inside hadn’t seen a wetwipe in decades. Herbs were lying across the floor, some sleeping, some rotting, or worse. I’d seen it before. This was the bottom of the vegetable drawer, where the mold was clawing at you day in and out, and it didn’t matter if you were fresh or spoiled, the sog would get to you all the same eventually. If you were here, you were family.

Setting up the shell angle early in a nondistracting way. Good finesse

quote:

I found the missing parsley up in a corner on the first floor. The leaf pattern matched the sketch: shaggy frame, smooth leaves, one full bunch. Bit of a browning on the stems. Lost some weight, but alive. Chalk one up for the good guys.

“Get up,” I said.

The parsley gargled something incomprehensible. “...find me… no...” The thump of the bass made him hard to understand. I tried to help him on his stems, but he shied away like I was about to make pesto.

“Come on now,” I said. “There are veggies out there who care for you.”

The look on his face was pure terror. “No,” he said, “no, no, no, no.”

Through the droning noise I didn’t notice the heavy steps thundering up the stairs until it was too late. Just as I turned, something muscled its way into my peripheral, and a tenderizer exploded into my face. I fell backwards, into darkness, and then into the dream.

I knew what was coming. I couldn’t stop it.

I really like the world that you've established. It's very flavourful. Try to describe what a look of pure terror would look like. Eyes wide, mouth agape, hand over mouth maybe, ya know?

quote:

Around me, the world faded. Black. Wet. Hot. Burning. Bubbles rushed past me. I wanted to scream, but the words wouldn't come out. My insides did the screaming for me. Scalding hot. Hellwater. Fluids pressed up against my inner membrane, wanting to break out and escape, the melting and the rebonding all the sick chemistry, but my shell had already toughened up, scarred a thousand times over. It was forever. It was hell.

Some nights I’m not sure if it's a memory, or a brief glimpse into what awaits me at the end of my shelf-life. All I know is, I don’t deserve otherwise.

I woke up in a pool of my own residual dew. My insides burned, somehow, even now. My environment circled me in waves like I was raw again. Somebody had draped me in sogged herb. I shook them off, got up, and fell down. There was a hole in my side. The devil himself was poking a finger into me.

“Tabasco,” a voice said. It was mine.

I had to get it out of my system before it ate through me.

“The Kraft maneuver.”

I’d done this once before, during the war. But this time, I’d had to do it sober, no vinegar. There was a crack in my shell where the syringe had been forced through. There was no point doing it slowly. It would just hurt longer. I ripped my shell open. Stale air hit my membrane. I tensed up, grabbed on to the exposed white, and squeezed.

Somewhere, off in the distance, someone screamed.

A fountain of red spurted out my side. It felt like somebody had glued a paring knife in there and I was slowly pulling it out and everything else with it. Finally, I’d have something else to see in my dreams.

When all was said and done, I found myself keeled over in a puddle of my own juices. There were broken-off egg shells everywhere. I picked them up one by one and put them under my hat. As I looked back up, I realized for the first time who else was in the room with me.

Parsley. His expired body stared at the ceiling. The realization hit me like a chicken’s rear end in a top hat.

He’d been hiding from someone, and I’d led them here.

I noticed something else. There was more than egg-shells and rotten herb lying around. Something so similar to my own shell, I hadn’t noticed it at first.

Flakes of white bread crust.

And they were leading out of the den.

--

The wordplay works really well.

quote:

Mama Mayo’s was the kind of box that looked just pristine enough to fit into the fridge upstate, but if you looked close you noticed the little dents that betrayed its seedy nature. The crumbs had led me all the way here. At this point, I was pretty sure I knew who I’d find.

My insides churned as I stepped through the door. It wasn’t the tabasco.

The club was mostly empty this time of day. I ignored the staff telling me where I could and could not go and I guess I looked too hosed-up for anyone to want to get in my way. The crumbs led to one of many doors in the dimly lit backstage area. Voices were arguing on the other side.

I kicked the door open.

“Hello, Waldorf,” I said.

“Shellton”, the bread roll said. A hunking mass of wheat glared down on me, blocking the view.

“Heard you go by ‘Crispy Roll’ now.”

“Things have changed since the war, Shellton. We can’t all stay continental.”

“Listen, I have a few--”

He jumped at me like a piece of freshly toasted bread. Any other day we’d been a match, but I’d just survived a poisoning. He slammed me against the cardboard, two quick punches to my exposed membrane. I bobbed and weaved out of the way, but he rolled after me with a speed I hadn’t anticipated. I found myself pinned to the ground by a solid ounce of white bread, and all I could think of was, I shouldn’t have come here. Not with my shell still broken.

My shell--

I knocked my head back. My hat slipped off. I reached into it and threw a fistful of eggshell into Waldorf’s face.

Action is good and it doesn't bog down the story. Good payoff with the eggshell.

quote:

That caught him by surprise. Gave me the break I needed. He flinched away, and I followed it up with a headbutt that almost split my shell open. He slipped off me and stopped moving. Waldorf had always packed a punch, but he’d never gotten around to fixing that glass chin.

Slowly, I got up. Caught my breath. I remembered there was someone else in here.

"I wonder, eggtective,” a soft voice said. “Do you even remember me?"

I did. Two days ago she had turned up in my office with a lost-sheep-act that had been a little hard to swallow, and a wad of dough that had made washing it down easy. "Something about you always seemed fishy, Susi Salmon."

She turned around on her lemon wedge. Even through the barrel pointed at me it was hard not to appreciate her looks. A filet of a dame, two hundred fifty grams of prime cut protein. Lean build, rosy skin. She smelled like the sea, if the sea was a chainsmoker.

"Shoot, tuts. You don't got the yolks."

“I don’t want to kill you.” She got up from her wedge. “But I will. If I have to.”

“Why did you do it?”

She laughed. “You don’t know? Then, I guess, it was a case of mistaken identity.” She took her time with me, turning back around to the mirror to fawn over herself. “That parsley must have had me confused with someone else. Tried to blackmail me. I guess Crispy Roll got wind of it. You know how protective he is.”

“He’s a real darling.”

She gave me a glance up and down. I felt like a devilled egg. “You know...” She slowly approached me. The gun poked into me as she planted a kiss on my forehead. “One of these days you need to learn to forgive yourself.”

She strutted out the door. I tried my best to keep myself from wobbling. Keep a straight face. “Do I know you?” I said.

“Maybe…” She laughed. A faint, sad laugh. The gun looked like a prop on her. She tapped her head with it, looking back at me. “It’s a shame, you know. Tuna and eggs make a nice salad.”

She disappeared through the frame like an apparition. There were bottles of rose coloring all over her desk.

I didn’t know which ghost of my past had haunted me this time. But now I sure as crack had find out.

Eggscellent overall. Not much for me to nitpick. Strong contender.

Sitting Here posted:

Hobbs and Bailey Do Jack poo poo
1200 words

Hobbs and Bailey loitered in the shadowy doorway, watching late night stragglers amble through the sodden neon slum. Fists of water rained down from the sky, pummeling the life out of the pavement, splattering the street with shivering reflections.

Bailey’s face was fixed in a rude scowl. “We’re not beat cops,” she grumbled. "This is ridiculous. I worked my butt off to get this promotion, thinking I’d be solving crimes.”

“So you’ve mentioned.” Hobbs reached into his jacket and withdrew a battered aluminum cigarette case.

Bailey aimed her scowl at Hobbs. “You said you quit that crap. You know I hate how those make the car smell.”

Hobbs spoke around the cigarette between his lips. “I said I’d quit until you annoyed the piss out of me again.”

He tilted his head away from the capricious breeze, flicked his lighter a few times to no avail. With a huff, Bailey cupped her hands around his, shielding the cigarette from the weather until the cherry flared to life. Hobbs took a long drag, then let out an exaggerated sigh of contentment, bitter smoke wafting from his lips to mingle with the falling rain.

Great descriptors. Excellent characters. I wasn't sure about the intro at first (Two people standing around doing nothing.) but the way you unravel the underlying narrative I ended up really liking it. A real mystery story.

quote:

Bailey crossed her arms and slouched against the slick concrete wall. “I mean—how am I supposed to learn advanced detectiving from you if all we do is wait for lowlifes to start trouble? We’re down here patching bullet holes in this city when we should be doing...doing crime surgery, or something.”

Hobbs gave her a long-suffering look, deepening the lines on his hounddog face.

“What? You’re smoking, so I’m gonna keep complaining.”

“Yep.”

From somewhere in the sloshing night came the sound of voices raised in agitation. Bailey tensed, eyeballing the street like a cat on the prowl, but the voices broke into laughter, then faded.

“The real crimes are all happening behind closed doors anyhow,” she muttered, shrugging the tense readiness from her shoulders. “Your wife beaters, your big-time drug slingers. Your frauds and your serial murderers. Your politicians. The only ones dumb enough to be out in this mess are me, you, and the drunks.”

“I’m strongly considering joining that third category.”

Good dialogue. Very natural.

quote:

A Lincoln Town Car sharked through the rain, rolling slowly down the street, headlights glaring hungrily into the night. It came to a stop in front of the detectives’ alcove, the vehicle's occupants obscured by darkly tinted windows. Bailey felt that tension return, felt unseen eyes looking on her with unknowable intent. Didn’t matter that she was Detective Bailey. As far as the denizens of the night were concerned, cops were cops.

Minor thing but the denizens of the underworld really do care about the different types of cops. I understand it's contributing to the noir narrative and it works in adding to the atmosphere so I understand going in that direction.

quote:

Hobbs offered a cool nod to the inscrutable window, and a moment later the Lincoln moved on, its taillights making a red wake on the rain-slick street.

“Christ, and there I was half-hoping they were gonna start something,” Bailey said, eyeing the retreating shark.

“Naw, you weren’t."

“Right now the people of this city are paying us to do exactly zilch,” Bailey said. “We’re not solving crimes. We’re not even fighting crimes. We’re just standing around waiting for nothing to happen while the bad guys watch us from slum windows and shady limos. Laughing at the two sopping wet pigs on the night shift, I’ll bet.”

She glanced over at Hobbs, saw he was smiling, just a little, with closed eyes. He took another long drag on his cigarette, exhaled with a retching cough that wiped that brief smile away and then kept going, a horrible muddy sound like his lungs might rip themselves out of his chest.

“Goddamn humidity,” he muttered after the fit had passed. “Always gets me coughing. You were saying?”

Bailey gave him a worried side-eye, opened her mouth, shut it again, and pursed her lips.

It's stuff like this that really contributes to the enjoyment of rereading a piece. Very well laid out.

quote:

“Come on kid, don’t leave me hanging. You were teeing up for a big speech or something, I could feel it. An idealistic manifesto on what it means to be a detective.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Bailey said, deflated.

“Maybe I just like the sound of your voice.”

Bailey snorted. “Yeah, just like I love the smell of your smokes. Face it, Hobbsy, we were born to push each other’s buttons.”

“I didn't lose my thirst to do good, you know. Still feel it every day,” Hobbs said, his voice rasping in the timbre of falling rain. “You just—you learn to appreciate the quiet moments, the simple things.”

“Quit messing around, Hobbs. This sentimental crap is making me feel weird.”

“You’ve got to pace yourself, appreciate the quiet beats when they come.” Hobbs flicked his spent cigarette out into the sidewalk, the cherry dying with a tiny hiss. “You’re gonna do a lot of good in this town. Don’t worry about making it all happen at once.”

Bailey turned to face him full-on. “No.”

“No?”

You’re the one teeing up. You’ve got something you’ve wanted to tell me this whole time. And whatever it is—no. Stuff it down. Swallow it. Sleep it off. Just, no.”

“What makes you think I’m not just being introspective?”

“I swear to Jesus, Hobbs. If you retire on me—I’ll go loose cannon. They’ll have to call you back in to take me down. I’ll commit more crimes than you can solve.”

“It’s cancer,” Hobbs said, his words buried under a refrain of no, no, no, no. “The precinct is letting me do a victory lap. But they’re not giving me anymore cases. Sorry about the beat cop treatment. Just wasn’t ready to call you my ex-partner.”

“Your goddamn cigarettes,” Bailey spat, looking ruefully at the soggy filter on the ground.

“Pancreatic cancer. The doctor and I had a good laugh about that. She said I got the lungs of a smoker half my age.” Hobbs offered Bailey a wry smile.

The little dry dark humour ties it all together very well.

quote:

Bailey held her face very still but her hands clenched and unclenched of their own accord, leaving painful little half moons in her palms. The air was too thick to breathe.

“I don’t want to know how long. Just—just be gone one day. No goodbyes.”

“Naw. There’s going to be a goodbye party, with cake, and you’re gonna cry in front of the whole precinct.”

Bailey laughed in spite of herself, the tightness in her chest easing just a little. “I’d say go to hell, but I don’t want to spoil what’s coming next.”

Hobbs fixed her with a fond smile. “Our shift was over a while ago.”

“You got somewhere to be in a hurry?”

“Naw, do you?”

“I could clear my schedule.”

Hobbs and Bailey loitered in the shadowy doorway a while longer, watching the neon beerlights wink out one by one. The final dredges of the night shift emptied themselves onto the streets: dishwashers, night managers, overworked servers and bouncers. The rain softened to a gentle drizzle, then stopped altogether as a brief gap in the clouds revealed the moon, and for a few minutes, the wet streets shone silver, and the whole city breathed easy for one small, quiet beat.

Nice ending. Wasn't expecting to get my heart warmed on noir week but here we are. If I had to nitpick I'd say use hypens for things like 'half-moons'. Very well crafted overall.

***

I read the smashed room around me. It looked like one of them was a funny man. They must of got a few shots in with a fish and other things from the fridge. drat person even threw the kitchen sink. The other was more intimate, getting close and personal. But who got the better of who? It wasn't clear.

Whoever it was used the rug to move the body. I was thinking they must of had help, but then I realized some of this mess was actually bloody drag marks. Jesus, even the clean up was messy. Only it wasn't going out the front, it was going out the back. I followed it.

Of course. The garbage was in the alley. The rug was a rolled up and half tucked in the can. Thankfully it didn't stick yet. I pulled it out. Shame, it is a nice rug. Heavy though. Definitely had a body in it.

I unrolled it carefully there in the alley. Ah poo poo, it was a dame.

I had my answer, and another bottle waiting for me. Looks like I won't be croaking any time soon either.

I kicked the body off the rug. It was a blood red carpet anyway. A quick wash and it'd look great in my office.

***






Winner: Entenzahn

Tough one! I felt bad picking one over the other but ties are bullshit. 'Shellton Cracks' made me laugh a lot and that's a tough thing to pull off in writing. Mad respect to both of you, both these stories are amazing.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Judge Crits

The Importance of strong drink, strong emotions, and crying in bars

Beginning is a little slow. Good descriptors, good showing instead of telling. Antagonists are one dimensional. Why wear the hoodie? Her motivations for doing so could be fleshed out, I have guesses but nothing concrete. Overall well written and the heart warming ending works well. Transgender reveal works well too. Feels like the central conflict precedes the story though. Wish this story took place earlier and from her perspective.

A Six Legged Fear with Wings

This entry is choppy, you start too many sentences with ‘I’, sometimes consecutively.

‘I set the throttle and bite the clutch, giving some light rear brake. I drive at a crawl. I look over my shoulder to the end of the turn. I lean the bike, getting the handlebars to full lock. It dips low mid-turn. Too low. I stop. I put my foot down, catching the machine before it tips. This is not how it’s done.’

This is an example that could use some restructuring to avoid repetition. I do like that you work in small sentences when the action is happening, keeps it fast paced. Maybe a little oversaturated with action, makes it harder to keep up for the reader and it doesn’t have the stakes it should to keep the reader engaged. Nailed the prompt though.

Sir Loin

Format is choppy. Misdirect intro is okay. Doesn’t hook me but it does open my expectations to being subverted. Protag is not introduced with likeable qualities, this makes it harder to invest. Dialogue is fairly realistic as is the family dynamic. Ends way too early. Plot is cliche. Has some funny moments. My expectations did not end up subverted.

do not kill yourself for a job - you are replaceable - like a cog or a lightbulb or a pen or a small potted plant that sits on a receptionist's desk or a receptionist's desk or a receptionist

Funny, interesting corporate dystopia. A little repetitive though that does convey the robotic nature of the protag. Proper dialogue format may have helped with that. That lady manages a double homicide in the span of seconds? Maybe it would’ve worked better if the protag didn’t leave and then come back.

Raincoat

Maybe doesn’t nail the prompt as much as it should, I’m not really sure what the raincoats are for other than keeping the spiders in. Maybe some mention of a woman earlier to provide context for his running and lay the foundation for when we meet her. Ends abruptly. So much is made of him running early on, then he just stops running.

Blurry

I appreciate the escapism brought on my the lack of vision and that his glasses remind him of his former life. The actual plot of trying to get to a shelter feels superficial to the overall story. Maybe getting in to see the human suffering surrounding him and taking off his glasses again could’ve juxtaposed nicely with the more well off people in the street who treat him with disdain. Way too short.

Maritime Law

Some paragraphs get chopped in half with an early line break, what happened there? There’s also a random double space. Massive tone shift near the end, wasn’t quite ready for it. Maybe sow the seeds of discontent earlier. I did get the sense that they liked his pants but it’s a leap to murder each other for them. Especially Yorgen who ostensibly swore to never lose another crew member/patient. Some descriptions could have been more easily conveyed. “Eight buttons arranged in two columns of the garment” could have easily been described as “double-breasted” but I’ll attribute that to more research needed rather than a failure of vocabulary. The ghost at the end feels tacked on, he doesn't contribute anything to the resolution.

The Relic

Interesting world building but so much so that I think it detracts from the overall plot. The tone works for the most part but detracts from the attempts at humour. Well written but the characters don’t feel properly fleshed out.

Aura

Awesome descriptors and protagonist, but the plot is hard to keep track of. A literal interpretation of unravelling fed by a drug and alcohol OD in the vein of Hunter S Thompson doing Poe. Story is a little too obscure in its cleverness. More style than substance.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 05:40 on Jan 28, 2020

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Pandora

“Pandora, I’m sorry to tell you this,” said the principal, “but your parents were in a car crash this morning. There was a fire. They died.”

“What?” She replied incredulously, “but I just saw them!”

The principal sighed. He could not return her gaze. She could feel his emotions from within her. Sadness, awkwardness, inadequacy. This was no joke.

“Since you have no other family, the police and I decided the best thing for you is to keep you in class today. A policeman will be here after school. They’ll take care of you, find you someplace to stay.” He said. She pulled images from her future. Emergency placement in a cynical foster family in exchange for a few dollars. A houseful of apathetic malcontents. She could not hold back her tears. She made a wall around her face with her hands and began to weep. The lights flickered.

“I want to see them,” she sputtered between sobs. The principal frowned. He leaned over his desk and put his hand on her shoulder. It felt cold.

“Trust me Pandora, you don’t really want that. The police identified them through dental records. They tell me it was a terrible scene. It would only make things worse.”

She smacked his hand away. The bile in her stomach churned. She felt hot. The fire within her spread from her head to her heart to the tips of her toes. The lights glowed impossibly bright and burst, raining glass on them. The principal fell backward out of his seat. He raised a hand to protect himself and shouted her name but it was lost in a whirlwind that formed and threw his desk against the wall.

“I need to see them!” Pandora screamed. A wall of fire burst outward in every direction. The skin and flesh were blown off the principal, leaving a smear against the wall and a charred skeleton on the floor. Then the walls blew out. The fire consumed everything. She opened her eyes to see the man’s skeleton crumble into ash. She put her hand to her mouth. Only the skeletal supports of the school remained, and destruction in every direction. Pandora could see burned-out school desks thrown everywhere, along with piles of ash. Hundreds of them. She was alone. What had she done?

Pandora ran.

Her parents would be at the hospital. She had to see them. This was all some kind of crazy nightmare. She’d find them, and they’d be okay. She’d wake up in her bed with her mom making breakfast in her housecoat and her dad doing the crossword wearing his fuzzy slippers with a cup of coffee.

Walking through the basement of the hospital with the hood from her hoodie pulled up she retraced the path the interactive kiosk told her would lead to the morgue. She only had to walk with purpose and the orderlies would leave her alone.

They were there, in plastic bags on stainless steel tables. She hovered over one of them for a moment, dreading what lay inside. Pandora pulled the zipper down slowly.

And gagged. A sweet sickly smell erupted from within and inside lay a sick and twisted visage trapped in a scream of pain. Pandora zipped it back up and puked into the sink behind her. She couldn’t even tell if it was her mom or her dad.

That’s when she heard the heavy door open. In stepped a man, young, nice hair. He was wearing a lab coat. He saw her. She expected him to get angry, but he smiled with a sad look in his eyes.

“Pandora Harmon? My name is Alexander Hymn,” he said as he walked over to her, “my friends call me Alex.”

“Why did this happen Mr. Hymn?” Pandora asked through gritted teeth and soggy eyes as stared down into the drain.

“I don’t have an answer for you,” he said, his eyes looking for contact that she didn’t return, “I'm not a doctor.”

Pandora finally looked up at him. His brown eyes sparkled in the light. She remembered her principal, earlier that day, how she pulled thoughts from his mind. She reached out psychically and felt his. She saw a lab. Hidden, secret. She felt hope and… peace even.

“No… You don’t work here at all do you?” Pandora asked. He nodded.

“I see you have some control over your abilities. You’re progressing rapidly.”

“You’re with the government.”

“Covert Psychic Monitoring, CPM. A secret division of DHS. We were able to tag your signature with one of our satellites. Then we were able to access CCTV across town and track your movements. Facial scans gave us your identity and we were airborne and inbound within ten minutes.”

“You’re here to arrest me?” Pandora asked. She knew she’d have to pay for what she did. All the lives she ended.

“No, we want to help you. Then for you to help us,” he replied as he raised his hands in the air, finishing with a shrug and a smile, “We want world peace and you can get it for us. People don't understand each other, because of language... cultural differences... mistrust. You can solve those things with your powers.”

Pandora went with him. She had to. What did she have left?

There was a helicopter on the landing pad. It’s blades were spinning, ready to take off any moment. A woman stepped out wearing a black pantsuit, her hair in a bun.

“I'm Abigail.” She said coldly. Pandora took her hand. She saw death and despair. Abigail wanted to use her to murder every world leader and put the people of the world under her submission. She turned to Alex. He was still smiling. He didn’t know. Pandora's rage filled her. She felt a prick in her arm. It was Abigail, she held a syringe. Everything faded to black.

She awoke in a glass box in the lab she saw in Alex's memories. He was there, running a set of tubes through a centrifuge. Cameras hung from every corner.

“Alex, your boss is crazy. You have to let me go,” Pandora said as she put her hands against the glass. He looked up from his work.

“You’re awake! Sorry about all that, Abby insisted. I know it’s a bit much but she means well. She funded all my research. It’s for your own good anyway, so you don’t burn down the lab. You're in psycho kinetic confinement, just to keep you from burning down the lab while we work. It’s only temporary,” he replied.

She shook her head. “No. No. No. What are you doing?” she asked, eyeing the vials in the centrifuge. 

“Oh these! Well we took a sample from you and I was able to engineer a formula to create a psychic soldier. All you gotta do is down one of these babies and anyone can have psychic powers.”

“Take one.” She told him. He looked at her sideways. 

“I can’t.  It’s the property of CPM.” Alex said simply.

“Think of how much more research you could do if you had access to all the secrets of the universe like I do. Imagine how much faster it would be if you could do all these processes with your mind, no centrifuges or coolers needed.”

Alex stroked his chin for a moment. “ I suppose that makes sense. It would be for the lab, right? I can already synthesize as much as I want…” he trailed off as he pulled a vial from the centrifuge and held it to the light. It was black as bile.

Abigail entered the lab, breathing heavily as if she just ran there. “Don’t!” she yelled at him, “she trying to trick you.”

Alex looked back at Pandora and shook his head. “Why? She could’ve blasted me apart at the hospital, but she didn’t. She trying to help us. You'll see Abby, sometimes you just have to trust people,” he said as he popped the lid off and swallowed the solution.

Alex grabbed his head and shouted in pain, dropping the vial which smashed on the floor. He fell over, knocking the table aside, knocking the centrifuge to the floor. Abby rushed over to him and put her hands on his shoulders. “Are you ok?” she asked him quietly.

There was a heavy pause in the air before he responded. “I can see it. It's all true. You want to use my research to kill people, not help them understand each other.”

Abby stood up and began walking backwards to the door with her hands up. “It’s the only way Alex. They have to understand fear.”

He looked at her wild eyed, fingers curled into claws. The lights began to flicker. Alex screamed, “No!”, and a wall of fire erupted from him in a swirling vortex. The lab was vaporized. Abby's skin and flesh peeled and her blackened skeleton crumbled to ash. The lock on the outside of Pandora’s cell melted in the heat but she was protected from the blast within her psycho kinetic prison. She pushed it open and gingerly walked to Alex, and helped him to his feet.

“It was… all a lie.”

“I know,” she said reassuringly, “it all is. It’s the first thing you realize when…” She gestured at the both of them.

“What do we do now?”

“Let’s try to help people. Really help them understand each other.”

He pushed himself to his feet and nodded weakly. “Okay."

"Let's go."

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Hey Anomalous Amalgam, we've got unfinished business. AA is a fitting nickname cuz you're gonna be anonymous when I'm done with you!

Brawl me.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 14:07 on Feb 4, 2020

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Slip-AA Brawl II

Fallen Leaves

The constellations of the gods shined brilliantly in the clear autumn sky surrounding a full blood-red moon. The odour of musty fur flooded the nostrils. We were all there; hundreds, thousands, of wolves. The Great Northern kingdom had gathered and a lone howl commenced the meeting of the Congress of wolves. My mother stood at the head of the pack on the king’s rock, looking back on us and past us. She reeked of decay and dirt. The aroma, carried on the wind, permeated the carnivorous mass before her. Old one eye stood at her side. The moonlight illuminated the three scars over the sealed husk of his left eye.

“The king is dead!” she cried, “Uratheil is dead.” The hum of panting and scratching ceased at once. The hushed tones of murmuring followed. This is how I discovered my father’s death. My oldest brother strode from the crowd and was the first to speak. The sweet smell of pine, accompanied by the dank hearty odour of testosterone carried on the wind to my nose. He had come from the mountains where he lives and trains.

“Mother, how did this happened!? Father was the most cunning and hardy of all of us? Is there a plot against our family?” He said. The warm glow of the moon draped his pristine white fur in a soft shade of red. She shook her head.

“No Leon, it was the humans and their slaves, the metal sky birds. He sacrificed himself to save the pack, leading the humans away as we escaped into the forest,” she replied. Our middle brother rushed past me to the base of king’s rock. He smelled of the cedar forest he has lived since leaving the pack.

“Where is he? I must bury him in the wolf’s garden, otherwise he will not join the constellations of the gods!” he yelped in a high-pitched tone. I could feel my innards rotting at the prospect of the humans stealing his body and damming his soul into oblivion. The stench of copper overwhelmed me. I had bitten my tongue. Droplets of blood spilled onto my fur, only to disappear into my jet black coat. My mother jumped down from the king’s rock, sat down beside my brother and licked his face.

“Do not trouble yourself Julius, Old One Eye and I buried your father in the wolf’s garden. If you stare into the stars you will see him there, watching over us,” she said, in a hushed tone lost on the back ranks of the congress.

I could not bite my tongue any longer. “What will become of us?” I howled from the assembly. Leon turned and faced us all.

“As the eldest son, I will lead us against the humans! We will avenge my father and end the human encroachment on our territory once and for all! This time it was my father, your king! Who will be next? None of us are safe!” He barked. Some of the assembly yipped in approval.

“No,” my mother responded, “that is not my wish. That is not your father’s wish.” Leon shifted his gaze to Old One Eye, who nodded minutely, concealing it from all but those who were watching him. She continued.

“The kingdom will be jointly ruled,” she called out, causing another commotion of murmuring, “Leon, you will govern the mountain. Julius will rule the forest. Toma, you will rule the plains. Come now, we have family business to discuss. Old One Eye will lead the remainder of the congress.”

We followed her, the plain surrounding us with the forest and mountains on the horizon, reaching a wild rose patch formed into a ring. The royal circle was where the family would discuss matters away from the sharp ears of the congress.
Leon erupted as soon as we reached the circle. “How can you break sacred wolf tradition? The kingdom should me mine! How can I lead us against the humans if we are divided?”

My mother barked and bared her fangs. This is something we haven’t seen since the time we ran off as pups and she had to come find us. “We will not be waging a war against the humans. It is a futile effort that will only destroy our own kind.”

“We will see mother,” he said as he walked off to rejoin his pack. Mother shook her head. Old One Eye approached us as he dismissed the congress.

“One Eye, escort my children to their new packs. It has been a hard night. Let us rest and see where tempers lie in the morning,” she commanded. He nodded and we followed him.

“Isn’t this amazing brother?” Julius said to me as we headed back, “We grew up listening to Leon about how he would inherit the kingdom and one day join the constellations of the gods as a wolf lord while we would live lives of service to him. Now we can all join the constellations.”

Old One Eye snorted and replied, “We shall see. Your brother is none too pleased. He may seek to undermine your mother’s wishes yet.”

“How would he do that?” I asked. He looked at me and slowly shifted his gaze to Julius.

“By eliminating his competitive before the reforms take effect of course.” He answered as we reached the royal den.

I slept fitfully that night. I dreamed of my father, running from the humans in the sky. He looked at me and shouted for me to run. I awoke just as the sun began to break the horizon. My brothers were not with me.

Instead I could see whole swathes of the pack leaving. One Eye saw me emerged from the den and ran over to me.

“Toma, come quick,” he called out to me. He ran toward the royal circle. I followed him.

“What happened?” I yelled as we reached the circle.

“Your mother…” he trailed off, looking into the heart of the rose patch.

There she lay, unmoving. The patchy fur on her belly did not rise and fall. Her tongue hung outside of her mouth with no trace of movement.

“Mother!” I cried as I leaped to her side. I prodded her back with my nose but there was no response. I licked her face and her head rolled loosely on her body. There was no blood and but no heartbeat. The faint smell of cedar lingered on her. I looked up at One Eye.

“Who did this!?” I howled at him. He was silent and could not maintain my gaze.

Our ears perked. The was a low whirring sound in the distance. I scanned the horizon and spotted it there, low on the horizon.

Humans. I turned to One Eye.

“Gather the wolves of the plain, take refuge in the royal den! Wait for me for further command!” I commanded him. He nodded but hesitated.

“What are you doing?” He asked. I looked back to the body of my mother. He understood.

“I loved her like a sister,” he said as he turned to go, “but some things aren’t worth dying for.”

I did not intend to. He went to lead the other wolves to safety. I grabbed my mother by the scruff of the back of her neck and pulled her into the rose bushes. The thorns dug into my sides but I lay there with her as the humans passed overhead. The sickly smell of their birds wafted in the air. I heard no shots and the humans soon continued their search elsewhere.

I took her myself to the wolf garden, dragging her on my back. Keeping her from the dirt. I found the garden, and the fresh mound of dirt that was what remains of my father. I buried her there, beside him. I prayed to the holy moon that they would find each other in the constellations of the gods. I could not believe they were gone. I had much time to think. I remembered the smell of cedar. The forest. Julius.

He had betrayed her, us. Why? She was our protector, the wisest and most caring among her. How would we raise our own pups to be worthy of the royal line without her?

I swore an oath to the moon that night. To find justice for this crime; this betrayal.

I returned to the royal den that morning.

I called out to One Eye and he bounded over to me.

“You’re alive,” he said to me. He then turned to the den of wolves and shouted, “your king is here! Hail, the King of the Plains!” He meet my gaze with an intense one of his own.

“What is your will?” He asked. I looked out at my fellow wolves of all colours and patterns, and spoke.

“My brother Julius has betrayed us!” I said to them in a low growl, “We will track him to the willow of the woods in the forest realm. We will have our justice.” I could smell the lightest note of copper in the air.

One Eye nodded and the pack exploded in frenzy of yips and howls.

So it would be. War.

Some moons later we had made of way to the edge of the forest. The full moon was receding into a new moon. It was as if it were closing its eyes.

I found One Eye, late that night, sitting down far from the pack, staring into the forest not a hundred yards away. I approached him.

“What keeps you awake?” I asked as I sat down beside him. The wind blew the stench of cedar into my nostrils. He shifted.

“Your brother. I fear he’s insane. How else could he do this? Will he admit his guilt and give up his kingdom? It pains me say Toma, but we might have to stop him… with force.” He said, never breaking his long gaze.

“He will admit his guilt one eye, and he will atone for it. He is my brother,” I said. He sighed.

“I hope that is possible.” I stared him in the face until he turned to look at me.

“What happened that night? You had left he den after leading us there. Did you see Julius? Why didn’t you stop him?” I asked, the questions bursting out from their cage deep within me.

“I saw him leave the den. I could smell his anxiety dripping from him. I reassured him that there was nothing to worry about and went to rest with the pack. He did not follow me.”

We sat for a while in silence. I stared at the stars. I couldn’t see them up there. They seemed the same as ever.

“We march at the break of dawn,” I said as I turned and left. Old One Eye stayed out. Perhaps to keep watch. Maybe to consider his mistakes.

At dawn, my brethren formed up. A tight block in the center to resist a charge and looser packs in the front and sides to skirmish and guard the flanks. The forest could easily hide an ambush. Surely my brother would realize we were following him from our scents in the breeze and the hillside leading up into the forest would be the perfect place to do it. I stood at the front of the tightly packed mass of wolves and them into the woods.

There were no birds. Either my brother was here or they recently passed. Had they watched us from the trees all night?

A single deep howl emerged from the woods, followed for a chorus of them. The wolves of the wood charged from the trees down the slope. My wolves stood fast, the skirmishers providing a cushion, their hit and run tactics slowing the rolling wave of wolves emerging from the forest.

I charged at them, my soldiers howled our own battle-cry and followed me into the fray. Bodies collided, teeth tore flesh, claws gouged eyes. I took a wild flying headbutt from the side, breaking a rib. Another enemy scraped my skull with his teeth. The melee the only thing that enemies smelled of cedar and friends smelled like the dust of the plains. After I pinned one wolf and broke the leg of another I found myself in open space. I had withstood the wave. Not is was up to my brothers to do the same. I saw Julius there, hiding amongst the trees. Too cowardly to join the fray. Cowardly enough to kill our mother during the night. Coward.

I sprinted at him, my joints screaming as I ascended the hill and met the trees. He tried to run, weaving between the trees, hoping to lose me. He did not.

I tackled him to the ground from behind and wrapped my jaws around his throat.

“How could you?” I growled in a low rumble. I tightened my grip on his neck and tasted copper. And fear.

“It was the only way Toma, think about it!” he yelped, “One Eye told me Leon was going to invoke the Rites of Succession! He would take our lands from us, we won’t be laid to rest in the garden, and our souls barred from the constellation!”

I rose onto my feet and released his throat so I could headbutt him to the ground. I did it twice. Blood ran down my face into my eyes from my earlier wounds. It spilled on to him.

“You idiot. Don’t you realize? They just stars! They don’t change, not for us! They’re the same, they’ve always been the same!” I barked in his face. He stared up at me in a daze.

“No. You’re wrong. It does exist.” He said as he lay his head on the ground,”Send me there now. You will see me in the stars, and I will be with mother and father.”

“No, you will atone for your crime Julius. Abdicate the forest throne. Feed the elders. Protect the children. Watch the night. Maybe one day you’ll come to realize your mistake,” I replied. He did not respond and layed motionlessly. I bit him by the scruff of his neck and pulled him up. He trembled pathetically. I hated him deeply. But he was my brother. I would not kill him.

“Get up! Let’s call this war off now before any other wolves get hurt,” I snapped.

He stumbled in front of me and we were about to move forward when the wind shifted through the woods. I smelled pine.

“Run!” I yelled but it was too late. The giant wolves of the mountains leaped from the trees around us and surrounded us. They grabbed Julius. I tried to free him but a massive white wolf pulled me off the pile and threw me to the side. Leon.

“Brothers! I knew I would find you here, squabbling for my scraps!”

“We got him!” the mountain wolves howled. One of them had Julius’s neck in his jaws. My brother’s gaze met mine.

“Kill him,” Leon commanded. His soldier put his paw on Julius’s body and used the leverage to break my brother’s neck in one swift motion.

“gently caress you Leon! He was our brother!” I snarled at him, “Was he right? Where you going to invoke the Rites of Succession?”

“What rites?,” he growled at me, “I deserved the kingdom by the rights of being the eldest! You two were nothing but a backup plan. Mother should never have even had you! I will unite the kingdom and then defeat the humans. Let that console you during your death.”

I could hear foot steps approaching. A low rumble. Many of them. Three wolves in ragged shape ran through our numbers screaming “The wolves of them plain! They’re killing everyone, run!” As they fled further into the woods. My army would be here soon.

“Kill him!” Leon shouted to his minions. One tried to pounce me but I was able to sidestep. Another tried to sink his jaws into my eyes, but I twisted away in time and he caught my shoulder instead. I was able to roll over and loosen his grip. That’s when I heard a call.

“Stop!” barked One Eye. He was panting, bloody, and tired. My army arrived after him, pushed their way to my side and growled at the wolves of the mountain.

“No more wolves shall die!” continued One Eye, “This is between blood now. I will not stand to see the kingdom devour itself. One of you must lead it!” He pointed his nose at us and nudged it left and right. Our soldiers formed a circle around Leon, myself, and the still-warm body of Julius. My brother laughed.

“Good, I’ll enjoy this!” he said as he turned to face me. I paced to my right and he mirrored me.

“Leon, you can live yet. Do not lead unto war. You will kill us all, yourself included!” I called out to him.

“Father taught me how to lead. Not you. Not Julius. I am just as good as him. Better! He would never have led us against the humans. We have to take the fight to them to survive! Just ask One Eye, he’s the oldest and wisest of us all! I am capable of taking on the humans!” He yelled back. He charged; fangs out, eyes wild.

I stood my ground and met his gaze. I will have to subdue him if I wanted to speak reason to him. At the last moment, I flopped to my side and bit upward. My fangs caught flesh. His legs tangled in mine. He tripped and fell. I felt a tear.

No. No no no.

Copper overwhelmed my senses. I bolted upright and saw my brother there bleeding out at the roots of a massive cedar tree.

“Brother! I did not mean for this to happen,” I whined, “I just meant to stop you.” The blood-stained his white fur and matted it down in large patches. I licked his wounds but it was futile.

“You… Stole… It… From me,” he whispered. Then he stopped breathing. I could only stare at him.

“Long live the king!” called out One Eye. The wolves of the plain howled in victory. The wolves of the mountain joined them, lower, mournful, scared.

Everything seemed muted to me. Quiet. Dumb. I looked at One Eye. He was commanding wolves to bury my brothers, and the rest to gather at the Willow of the Woods. I walked over to him and did not conceal my anger.

“What did you say to Julius about the Rites of Succession?” I asked, my voice trembling, my mind racing. One Eye looked to me with wide eyes

“What?” he replied, “Oh right. Julius was concerned Leon would try to cut him from the inheritance of the kingdoms before your mother died. I reassured him that Leon would never invoke the Rites of Succession, and even if he did, it would take months to gather enough support to force your mother’s hand.”

He shrugged. “I was only trying to console him,” he finished.

“You tricked him into killing our mother. Why?” I demanded.

“No, nothing like—“ He was cut off as I bit his ear and smashed his face into a tree. Then I tackled him to the ground and bit on to his neck.

“Alright,” he gasped, “Alright! Don’t you see, your mother was going to divide the kingdom! The humans are going to conquer us all! First, there was your father, who let the humans encroach more and more on our lands, refusing to retaliate against their cities, then there was your mother. The humans will have us divided, ready to conquer. We can’t let that happen!”

I should have made him atone for it. For everything. I swore an oath to the moon. But the moon is just a moon. I broke his neck.

There will be peace. We will not throw away our kingdom. Maybe we will lose it piece by piece. Maybe we won't.

We will have to abandon the plains. King’s rock, the royal den, the wolf garden. They are the human's territory now. We will still have the forest, and the mountains, for now. And the stars.

I still look up to them sometimes. They are just stars but… I hope I am wrong.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Chili posted:

Apologies for the delay!

Run and Gun Reactions

That is… a lot of words in your first sentence. I get that you’re going for the prompt head on but man, that’s pretty cumbersome.

After paragraphs, I’m not getting any sort of sense of what’s actually happening in this story apart from there’s an upcoming leg of a journey.

“Iko” was that a mistake? I really hope there aren’t four named characters already.

[i]“Her daughter voiced what she felt like saying.”[i] That is a really ugly sentence.

Ok, so there’s an Iko and an Itok. Do you want me to be confused reading this? What’s worse you just kinda start talking about Iko like we already know him.

Wait, what? Iko is there? Dude, what in the world is happening? Is his “I’ll find you” thing a flashback? I’m so lost.

So I’m done with the first beat. And man, I am lost and also wondering what you were trying to set up. You take a long time to introduce that this chasm is dangerous. But it certainly seems like you really want to start the story right now.

“They wouldn’t need the extra supplies if they made it across, so they invested every resource available to them in ensuring their survival across the chasm that their tribe had intentionally tried to avoid using.” A supremeley long sentence that just gets really clunky and cumbersome toward the end.

The action and blocking here is unclear. I don’t know what’s going on with this birdlike lizard thing and who or what it’s chasing and how.

Also, if you kill off this baby that’ll make two dead baby stories for you and that may be one too many.

One thing I’m liking: The motif of hot and cold being juxtaposed. It’s a good idea and gives the story more sensual presence.

Overal Response

Alright, well this isn’t much of a story. People worry about going into place, People go into place, People find a monster in place, People kill the monster in place. The, happily ever after. I can say the same about many good stories written in the dome, the problem with this is that there isn’t enough characterization to get me invested in the success of the characters.

You did address the prompt but I’d be lying if I actually caught wind of any of the smells you wrote about.

Overall this is a fairly middling to low entry. The action is a little hard to parse at times and it did also occasionally drift into the ‘chore to read’ category.



And guess what, you win!


Because SlipUp took 1,400 extra words over the already generous limit of 2,000. He also cheekily didn’t include his word count in the post as though it weren’t going to be painfully obvious that he was over the loving budget.

SlipUp, I’ll make this short and sweet. I ain’t reading your entry. You had two deadline extensions to get this down to what the limit is. I’m too drat busy for this, and if you thought I’d give it a fair shake than you are one entitled mofo. You lose.

If you want me to read this, you now have to trim it down to 1,500 words, as a late penalty. I will even retroactively call it a winner if you do bother to both: do it, and execute at a better level than your foe. But yeah, gently caress this, dude.

Congrats AA!

Edit;

If SlipUp does go for this, AA, you are free to revise your entry up until 2 weeks past their resub.

Congrats AA. That leaves us tied.

As for my story, it just came out as such. Any story revised to halve its length stands a good chance to lose due to quality, and frankly, I like the story as is. There will be no resub.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Anomalous Amalgam posted:

Dang, it doesn't feel like a win though. Neither did my dome victory, technicalities and I've got names to scratch off...

Round 3, no extensions, and a short, sweet wordcount, 2 weeks time if judge is willing?

I've never wanted to get good at something as much as I have writing so I've got a lot of rear end to kick, so to speak.

I know your secret, "Anomalous Amalgram" or should I call you "A Analogous Mammal"!

Game on! This time I wont be over the wordcount! (Or miss the deadline. *innocuously whistles*)

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Flesnolk posted:

Sure. 1500 words, a story about a boxer but without portraying a boxing match. No pre-, post-, or mid-apocalypse. Due date, 23:59 EST on 22 March, 2020. Custom rules on request.

:toxx:

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Catch
1000 words

The day the Pirates beat the Yankees to win the world series was the best day of my life. See, I grew up Polish in Pittsburg. My parents were very old-country, ya know? I remember whenever I smiled, my papcio would look at me and ask “Why all this smiling?” I just don’t think they even understood happiness. Well, almost. I’ll never forget the time my papcio took me out to Forbes Field. We couldn’t actually get in, right? My papcio worked at a steel plant, but his English was no good so he spent his life chipping away slag. We get to the field though and he tells me some of the guys watch the game behind the outfield. There are leaves and stuff covering the fence but they tell him there’s a hole out to the right behind second base. You could see the batter pretty good from there, and bonus, the fly balls are yours. Lucky for us, because the stands were packed. It was game seven of the World Series, can you believe it?

I honestly don’t know what got into him. I don’t even think my pacio took a day off when I was born. About halfway through he let me into his head a little. He pointed to the Pirates second baseman.

“Dziecko, you see him?” He said in brutish English, “That is Mazeroski. He is Polish, like us. His parents come from the old country too, and in America he do whatever he want. Maybe you too play the baseball for money one day.” He always spoke to me in English, even if it was bad. I guess he was hoping it wouldn’t hold me back too.

The Pirates fell behind early, but they came back to tie it up going into the bottom of the ninth. That’s when Maz came to bat. First pitch was out of the strike box, a ball. The catcher ran up to the pitcher and they talked in the middle of the field. Maz was cool, relaxed. Back then they all wore these baggy outfits, way different then today. Maybe that’s why he looked so relaxed. These days all the players look like they have to take a poo poo on the field, but I digress.

Then came the second pitch. A fast ball, right down the middle. Maz was ready.

CRACK.

The ball flew out right towards us. The outfielder was running to the fence as quick as he could, but it was no use. My pacio dropped his beer and ran back about six steps before catching the drat ball in stride with his bare hand. I couldn’t believe it. He tossed it to me and I saw him smile. I think it was the only time he ever did that.

Maz ran the bases, jumping and cheering the whole way. Pirates won, ten to nine.

That was thirty years ago. Now the ball rests in a glass shell on a stand in my home office. I never did end up playing ‘the baseball’ like my papcio hoped. I’m a writer now. Technical stuff. Instruction manuals mostly. I did the blurb for the back of last year’s Fruit Loop boxes. God I hope they don’t put that in my obituary when I go. I liked my papcio’s “Dear husband, good father, a pleasure to work with.” Straight to the point, just like him.

I get to see my son on weekends and Wednesdays. His mother divorced me about a year ago. Told me she wanted to finally be happy. Yeah, I could see that. I try to do do something with the kid on the weekends. Day trips. Ball games. He watches cartoons on the Wednesday. Today it was reruns of Batman. It’s way darker then that Adam West schlock from my day. Hell, all I had for cartoons were Scooby-Do and Yogi Bear.

I was making a pot of coffee, trying to beat the cobwebs out before typing out the instructions for a French press. Why the thing needs instructions I have no clue, but they pay me by the word, so I was staring at mine trying to come up as many words as I could.

“You press it,” I thought aloud, “Christ, it’s in the name.”

That’s when I heard a shatter from my office. I glanced over to the TV, still blaring cartoons. No kid. poo poo.

I ran into my office and saw him standing there in the middle of the shattered glass. I ran over and picked him up, careful to not step in the glass.

“What the hell are you doing Dziecko!? You could’ve gotten hurt!” I yelled at him, I’m ashamed to say, but god knows what his mother would yell at me if he got hurt.

He held up a ball. Maz’s ball. “I just wanted to play. We watch the games but we never play.”

I put him down on the ground and held him by the shoulders. “Do you have any idea how much that’s worth?” I said in a low growl, trying to restrain myself. He had this sad look in his eyes. Aw drat it.

“Alright, alright,” I said. I grabbed the ball and walked out the back door, holding the door open for him. He smiled and ran out into the backyard with me.

drat, he’s better at catch than me. If only my papcio could see him. He’d be so proud. Maybe he’ll ‘play the baseball for money’. I could see it.

“Papa, you’re smiling,” he said to me. Huh. I guess I was.

“Do you not smile because you’re not happy?” he asked. I missed a catch. The ball rolled through the grass, gaining fresh stains. I picked it up and tossed it back to my kid.

“No Dziecko, it’s not that. I am happy in a way,” I said, taking a deep breath, enjoying the moment, “I’m content. I’ve got all I need. You’ll see one day. I did.”

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In

No More Kings

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


The Bastard
900 words
Prompt: No More Kings

poo poo, the embalming didn’t take. I could see that the stitches were stretched to their breaking point. A rancid odour filled the place. I had just hoped it was a pig taking a poo poo outside one of the windows, a final send off to the dearly beloved king, or even the natural odor of France itself. Sadly, no, it was certainly the king. Thankfully less than a dozen people had arrived to see King William ‘the Conqueror’ laid to rest.

It almost didn’t happen at all. Truth be told, he was a miserable rat bastard who took pleasure only by inflicting pain on others. I stood by him in life, in his throne room as his bodyguard. He had knighted me himself, and it was by my oath that I protected him from the consequences of his own actions. I had not known then. What an honour it was to be chosen. What a fool I was.

He was riding off to murder his own son when it happened. His horse had spooked and reared up in fright. The King tried to control his mount but when it came down, the king slammed his testicles on to the pommel of his saddle. He screamed in a high falsetto and fell to the ground, never to walk again. The injury festered and his balls rotted off. He developed a sickness of the blood and died soon after.

I do not know if it was the work of the Lord or the Devil, but I thank whoever it was. William had corrupted the church, betrayed the magna carta, taxed the poor, and viciously tortured them if they protested. Do not waste a single tear for this man. He would’ve only viewed the gesture as weak in any case.

His son visited his body for about an hour. The bishops stayed for not much longer. Most of the lords didn’t bother coming at all.

There he stayed. For over a week. Nobody even cared enough to bury him.

So it fell to me. I was his knight. I could not violate my oath to God by leaving him there to rot. I just had to bury him and I would finally be free. Little did I know the lengths he would go to torment me, even in death.

Firstly, he had not yet been embalmed and was already beginning to stink. I would have to do it myself.

While I was draining what pus and fouled blood I could, I received his last will and testament. No, not the whole thing, just the piece that pertained to me. And no again, despite being the only human he trusted with his life on this Earth, he did not leave me anything. Everything was going to his son Henry, who he had forgotten to write out of his will before leading an army out to kill him. Not, to me he bequeathed a request. To bury him in loving France. He did not even ask me directly. It was to ‘whom it may concern’ and that deluded prick didn’t realize that the only person who cared was me. Not by choice mind you.

I finally finished embalming him best as I could and departed to France. I rode by horse to port, and he rode my rear end. Frankly the donkey was too good for him, I should’ve drug him with rope behind me.

It was when we set sail that I had first noticed the problem that has haunted me all the way to this Abby in France. The embalming didn’t take. He had inflated with putrid gasses. I made a second attempt to preserve him at sea and just prayed that it was last long enough to put him in the dirt.

It would not. The burial was delayed several days after it was discovered the grave lay on stolen land, and we'd have to pay the peasant who owned it before he'd let us bury that ‘son of a bitch' there, king or not.

Finally, as the monks and I carried him to his grave, I could feel gurgles rumbling through his body. We tried to lay him in the hole but he was too bloated to fit. I would never be rid of this unholy filth.

“Get some sticks!” I said to the monks, “We'll stuff ‘the bastard’ in the hole.” They obliged with several walking sticks and we tried to push him in.

It was no use. I jumped on to his body, up and down, in a desperate attempt to be freed of him.. It slid about half a foot into the grave. None of the monks even batted an eye and in fact, redoubled their efforts with their sticks. I took another high jump on top of him.

The gurgling carcass exploded, totally enveloping me in a tempest of pus and embalming fluid. The monks were showered in a rain of filth. The corpse fell into the hole with a wet thud.

How perfect. William ‘the bastard' got his final act of spite on the people trying to help him. Just as in life.

We covered him in enough packed dirt to keep the stench out. I bathed in the Abby but even its holy waters could not fully cleanse me. Nor could I cleanse my rear end, which reeked of the bastard forever after.

But I was finally free.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Flesnolk posted:

Sure. 1500 words, a story about a boxer but without portraying a boxing match. No pre-, post-, or mid-apocalypse. Due date, 23:59 EST on 22 March, 2020. Custom rules on request.

Standing Up
1103 words

“It’s over Jimmy,” my manager said to me. I was nursing my eye with a cold pack and sitting next to a pile of bloody gauze. The EMT told me that she’s had to stitch my face but she sounds distant, faded.

“It ain’t over Brad, it’s just a couple losses. It’s a bad run of luck. I’m stuck in a rut. I can get out of this,” I tell him, but he shakes his head. I felt a sting as the EMT stuck a needle in my brow and starts stitching me up right then and there.

“It’s over,” he said again to me, “it’s been a long career Jimmy and I know ya got the fire but you gotta face facts, you’re body just ain’t willing no more. That brow of yours gets busted up and starts gushing any time you take a lick. Ya don’t got the speed in your legs no more, you’re thirty but ya got the knees of a fifty-year-old.”

I wiped away the blood pooling in my right eye. The drat thing gushes like a fountain anytime it gets brushed, then I can’t see what’s going on. Too much scar tissue. I knew he was right about the knees too. Even getting out of bed ain’t as easy as it used to be. Now it sounds like god drat Rice Krispies with the way my joints snap, crackle, and pop. I tried to look away but the EMT grabbed my face and said something about staying still.

“Brad, this is all I got. Look at this,” I said as I pointed to my face, “it ain’t like I got a modeling gig waiting for me. Come on, gimme one more shot. If I just push myself hard enough—“

He cut me off, “No Jimmy. I ain’t gonna help you kill yourself. Look, I know this guy, he owns the Top Hat. I can get you a job working security.”

I laughed out loud, “I was the champ once, now you want me working as a bouncer at a strip club?”

“That was ten years ago. And hey, it beats being the janitor.”

***

I had gotten a grand for that last fight. It was enough to cover my bills for the month. poo poo. What the hell was I gonna do? I’ve been boxing ever since I was kid. I got into it when my parents moved to a new neighborhood and put me in a new school. They told me I’d make new friends but all I ever got out of it was the attention of a rat-faced redhead named Lucas. Him and his friends would jump me on the way home, beat the crap out me, and toss my books into a storm drain. Once they stole my clothes instead. I had to walk twenty blocks home holding an old newspaper around myself.

My dad seemed angrier at me than them. 'You’re an O’Connell!' He’d yell at me, as if it tarnished of his own reputation. He’s the kind of guy who would go out to the bar just get into a fight. 'Just hit ‘em back!' he'd tell me and well, that’s what led to me getting my clothes stolen that time.

After that, the old man took me to my first gym. It was at the YMCA. My dad got me a membership and told that was my allowance for the rest of the year, which was fine by me because it usually ended up in Lucas’ pocket anyway. He left, and I walked over the ring. There was an older dude there, showing another kid how to hold his hands up to protect his face. He saw me and came over to introduce himself.

“Hello, my name’s Father Pat. Are you a new student?”

“You’re not my father,” I told him. He let loose a deep wheezing laugh.

“Ah child, I am everyone’s father. I’m a priest.”

“But you teach people how to fight.”

“No my son, I teach people how to stand up for themselves.”

***

I don’t go to the Y anymore but I pass by it on the way home from the grocery store. I was only a few blocks from it when I saw some commotion on a nearby playground. There was a whole circle of kids surrounding these two girls. The bigger one hit the smaller one in the face and pushed her to the ground. The whole group of ‘em took to laughing like hyenas. I sighed and kept on walking. As I passed them I saw the big one grabbing the little one’s backpack. Lucas flashed through my mind. Ah hell.

I put my groceries down and walked over.

“Hey you loving animals, get lost. Beat it!” I yelled as I pushed my way through the ring of kids. They scattered like cockroaches in the light.

The little one was still on the ground. I helped her up and she wiped the tears from her eyes.

“It’s okay now,” I said, “My name’s Jimmy, what’s yours?”

“Beth. Thank you, sir,” she mumbled while looking down at the ground.

“It’s nothing. Hey, you gotta stand up for yourself ya know? Bullies look for people who won’t fight back.”

“I… know,” she said as she looked up to me, “I tried once, but that just made it worse.”

I picked up her backpack and handed it to her. “It’s hard, but you gotta keep at it. It helps to know what you’re doing. Here,” I said as I gently grabbed her hands, balled them up in fists, and put them just above her eyes, “this way they won’t be able to hit you in the face so easy and you’ll be able to hit them back like this.” I snapped my fingers. She smiled.

“So are you like a fighter or something?” she asked. I hesitated.

“I used to be. I guess now I just protect people.”

“Like a bodyguard?”

I chuckled. “Something like that. Tell you what, why don’t you go home and ask your parents if you can go to the Y, if they say yes then you can meet me there tomorrow after school and I’ll show you how to protect people too.”

She nodded happily. I turned to go and noticed my groceries had disappeared. I muttered a curse under my breath.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

I shook my head. ”Looks like one of those kids stole my groceries.”

She laughed. “I guess you’re the one who needs saving.”

I smiled and patted her on the head. “Sure seems that way, Beth.”

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Sure, this sounds fun.

Flash me!

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Snacks on a Plane
1012 words

She had been waiting her whole life for this moment. Her first flight. It was on a slick new Airbus A320 no less. The pilot suit she wore was pristine, her shoes shined, and her hair was tied back into a ponytail. She was sitting in the co-pilot’s seat and ready to go. Almost. The pilot hadn’t arrived yet.

That’s when the door opened and the pilot stepped in. He was surprisingly young and while he was wearing the pilot’s hat and coat, he was also wearing… a band tee?

“Dropkick?” She read aloud, confused.

“Yep, that’s me,” He answered before catching himself, “Yep, that’s me… shirt. My name is Jordan O’Beef.” He tapped his name-tag.

“It says O’Keefe,” she replied. He waved her off as he sat down in the pilot’s seat and put his headset on.

“Everybody calls me O’Beef,” he said as he began flipping switches on and off.

“The flight check is done Captain,” she said, staring at the careless flicks of flight control machinery, “Aren’t you a little young?”

He laughed. “If you say so. But enough about me, what about you? Have you been flying long? What’s your name? What’s your favourite food?” asked O’Beef.

“I’m April Takari, your trainee, remember? I’ve never flown before. And… uhhh… peaches? Is this a test?”

“Oh yes, it’s definitely a test. So how about you get us in the air and I’ll grade you.”

“Isn’t the captain supposed to make the announcement?”

“Mhm, mhm. Oh right. Check this out,” he said with a wink as he twisted his pilot’s cap backward and hit the button on the intercom, “Yo, yo, check it. I’m Captain O’Beef, I’ll make this brief, stay in your seat, and ya won’t get beat. Yooo!”

He shot her a goofy grin and flashed two joined V’s with his fingers.

“What the hell was that?” She asked incredulously.

“I’ve always wanted to be on the radio,” he answered with a shrug, “no one listens to those things anyway. Alright, let’s do this,”

She shook it off and engaged the throttle. Thankfully this was a short trip. She had read the flight manual a dozen times, aced the classes, and got top marks in the flight sims. She was going ace this pop quiz too.

The sun was peeking over the forested horizon as the ambling plane picked up momentum going down the runway. The rumble of the aircraft grew at the same rate the trees did as they got closer. Captain O’Beef’s complexion faded into a pale white, the enthusiasm drained away. At the last moment, he grabbed on to his seat and screamed, “We’re gonna die!”

The plane took off from the runway with plenty of room to spare.

O’Beef looked down over the forest and fell back in his chair with his hand over his heart. He noticed April was staring at him.

“I uh… forgot to feed my fish. Yep, they’re going to die,” he said as he regained his composure, “It’s okay, I’ll call my roommate when we land. Do you have any pets?”

She shook her head. Something didn’t seem right and it was starting to bug her.

“You seem really nervous. Haven’t you logged thousands of flight hours by now?”

His eyes grew wide. “Nervous? What? No…”

“You don’t seem like a pilot.”

“Sure I do! I umm… Oh my god, look out!” He yelled as he pointed into the sky.

April squinted her eyes to look into the distance and said, “I don’t see any—“

“Evasive action!” He yelled and jerked the steering controls as hard as he could to the right. The aircraft groaned and pitched hard clockwise, it’s massive wings slicing through the clouds as the plane barrel-rolled through the sky. All the alarms went off at once, passengers were thrown from their seats, and the Airbus nosedived as it lost velocity. The snack trolley flew down the length of the plane, smashed through the cockpit visor, and blasted out into the howling wind. Angry, gusting air blasted through the cabin.

“O’Keefe, Takari, come in,” squawked their headsets, “this is tower one. Sensors show you’ve suffered catastrophic equipment failure. Turn around and make an emergency landing. We will have rescue crews waiting on the tarmac. Godspeed!”

O’Beef flicked on the intercom. He could barely be heard over the roar of the wind.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we will be returning to the runway momentarily due to turbulence. The in-flight snacks have been canceled. That is all.”

He looked at April and nodded his head. He took the controls in his hands and stared intensely down at the runaway. “I got this,” he told her.

Jesus, he was going to kill them all. She flicked a switch while he was distracted.

He was pouring sweat and grasping the control with white knuckles and tight lips as the plane dropped lower and lower back to the runway. The wheels dropped out. He ground his teeth together. The vein on his head throbbed.

“gently caress, gently caress, gently caress,” he muttered through a clenched jaw.

The wheels skidded as they touched asphalt. The plane shuddered as they slowed and came to a stop.

O’Beef fell back into his seat. “I can’t believe I just did that,” he said, relieved.

April pointed at the switch she had flicked on. “Auto-pilot.”

“I mean, that’s how it’s done though if I had to do it.”

“You’re not a pilot.”

He hung his head. “No. I saw you boarding this plane, and the captain going into the bathroom. I stole his hat and coat off the hook in the stall and when he looked up I reached under and pulled his pants off. I imagine he’s still in there screaming about his pants.”

She stared him the eyes and shook her head in disbelief. “You impersonated a pilot, endangered hundreds of passengers, and committed at least a dozen felonies to sit next to me? Why the hell would you do that?”

He shrugged. “Is it too late to ask you out on a date?”

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In, flash.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


sittinghere posted:

Team: Jailbreaker
You get a special item! New from Voidmart, it's the Health Pilot BioDrone! The latest in quantum drone computing, this baby not only reads the user's biometrics but stores them safely inside its memory, rendering the user virtually invincible so long as the drone remains operational.

No Evil

The void itself was blacker than black. Energy, matter, and space intertwined, contorted, became something new. Something intelligent. Something evil.

The helipad on the roof was littered with fallen bodies of those who made it here during the lockdown but no further. Some were naked, like him.

“You cannot stop me,” Jonathon screamed into the abyss, “I’ve escaped the robot animals, and evaded your minions. I will be free.”

I… See… You… whispered the void into his mind. The sun grew dim in the sky. The sound of the city below faded. Welcome back, Jonathan.

Jon went to smash the emergency glass on the roof, but it was already broken. Inside was a small bag of flares, meant to signal fire services and incoming helicopters.

Jon loaded a flare into the gun. Strangely, there was only one remaining.

You cannot escape me, Jonathan. I am the pit in your gut. I am the emptiness that defines you. I am the voice in the back of your mind speaking truths that others dare not.

“Watch me,” replied Jon. He fired the flare into the darkening sky. It burst a radiant red but then faded into nothing.

An eclipse slowly began devouring the sun and the sky began turning from dim to black. A windsock spun rapidly in place.

As before, so now, as it will always be.

Jon threw the flare gun to the ground. “I’ve found a way to cheat death. I invented the Biodrone. You cannot kill me. I will find a way to beat you.”

The Biodrone… That was me too, Jonathan. It’s delivered to me what I’ve wanted most.

Jon’s gaze was pulled to the bodies littering the roof. They all had brown hair.

He dropped to his knees and turned the nearest body over. It was him. They were all him. That’s why he had no clothes left. The dead Jon had an expression of pure horror; the eyes were clawed out, his tongue was bitten off, ears bleeding, and neck twisted. He had been strangled.

Jon dropped the body and scrambled backward on his hands. “Who…did this?” he asked.

The eclipse continued, engulfing half of the sun.

You did.

“No. I would never.”

As before, Jonathan. The Biodrone records your biometrics. Not your memories. It was meant to be this way. The memories are for me to record.

“Memories of what?”

Our time together.

The memory flashed through his mind. Hysterical screaming, maniacal crying, his hands around his own throat.

The eclipse consumed the entirety of the sun. Impossible blackness fell upon the sky. There were no stars.

“Nonono,” Jon mumbled to himself. He tried to close his eyes, but he could still see.

Your eyes are my eyes. They will see what I have to show.

His eyes.

With all his will he held one eye open, with his other hand he stabbed his fingers around his eyeball and pulled. The pain was excruciating. When it finally gave loose and popped out, the vision dimmed. With renewed vigor he pried the other one too. The vision vanished completely.

He held them up before the void. “You have no power over me,” he yelled.

You can still hear my words, so mark me, Jonathon. As before, so now. You will never escape my whispers. I know your inadequacies, your failures, your greatest fears. You will not sleep, you will not eat. You will beg me to kill you.

“I will not listen!” He yelled. He stuck his fingers in his ears. He scratched and clawed at his eardrums until they bled. Finally, his fingers slid in deeply. There was a loud ringing, and then nothing.

He still felt the void, deep within him. His guts roiled in his belly. Bile bubbled up through his throat. The whipping wind carried his whisper in the air.

“I’m… afraid of dying…”

His tongue betrayed him. He would not let the void win. He knew what he had to do.

He bit it clean off. The hot taste of copper filled his mouth. He had to spit it out in big mouthfuls to keep from choking. His gag reflex took over and he vomited a deep red.

He heard something. No. That was impossible. But yet he did.

Hear no evil. See no evil. Speak no evil. But Jon, evil lives in the darkness, in the silence. You cannot be rid of me. As before, so now, as will always be. It was not me who doomed the world, Jonathan, it was you. Let me show you.

An image appeared in his mind. He thought he stopped them. It was a trick. It was all a trick. Even by tearing his eyes out, he could not stop them. The image was of the void. Thousands, millions of Biodrones burst out in every direction. One for every human. They would be cast into madness, and withdrawn, then cast in again. Trapped in hellish lives of psychological torture and self-mutilation. The young and old. The strong and the weak. Death would not offer any escape.

It was his fault. It was all his fault. He wanted to lash out, bargain, beg. He could only scream wordlessly through his empty mouth.

He wanted to end it all. He could not stop the abyss. He could not even stop this from happening again and again. He just desperately needed it to stop for a moment.

The void laughed, shattering the last of his will. He wrapped his own hands around his neck. He would end this nightmare and wake up, away from the void.

He was fading, but something deep within him allowed him to hang on, and hold tight until the deed was done.

The laughter echoed across space and time. The eclipse receded.

Time seemed to stand still until the door to the roof opened and a naked man walked on to the roof.

The figure stared into the void. “You will not stop me,” it shouted.

I… See… You… Welcome back, Jonathan.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In

:toxx:

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Oceanworld

Chapter 1: The Trident

1812 words

Cleon

I was adrift at sea, clinging to a barrel for gods know how long. I was out there for at least three nights, pondering the fate of my crewmates. I was thirsty. So thirsty. On the third night, I couldn’t help myself. I drank seawater.

It robbed me of my strength. I could not move my legs or open my eyes. Voices called out to me from the depths, repeating my name.

Cleon… Cleon…

I gathered all my strength and shouted into the abyss, “What do you want from me?”

The waves battered me about as if punishing me for my transgression.

Then the water grew still. My barrel bumped against something. A rock, or maybe a reef.

This far out?

The object grew, emerging from the sea. The tide pushed me back as a force rose from the depths. The full moon illuminated it clearly. It was a face, carved from rock, covered in barnacles, an anchor caught in the corner of its mouth, and coral growing from the top of its head.

A titan.

I am Oceanus.

A hand raised me from above the surf. I sprawled out and tried to catch my breath.

I will spare your life Cleon, but you must do something for me.

“What?” I gasped meekly.

You must steal Poseidon’s trident.

I rolled over onto my knees and pushed myself up using the barrel. I stood shakily on my feet on the hand of a titan over the endless sea.

“But I thought the water titans did not hate the gods. You did not fight them during the Titanomachy.”

I tire of my solitude. My nephews, Prometheus and Epimetheus fought for the gods and were betrayed by Zeus. I will take the Trident. I will free my brothers and sisters from Tartarus. We will be together again. drat the gods.

“Why not take it yourself?”

Poseidon is mighty, and he commands the city of Atlantis and the Kraken. You, the creation of Prometheus, are very small. You will not have to fight Poseidon to take the trident. Sail west of the rocks of Heracles for two days. Wait until nightfall. You will have your chance as Poseidon attends the festival of Isthmus in human form. Sleep now, Cleon, for you have much to do.

I awoke the next day on the deck of a trireme, the full sail contrasted with the vibrant blue sky interrupted by a man in bronze armor standing over me. My barrel lay beside me, with a hook stuck into it.

“Who be you?” asked the armored man. He did not offer his hand, instead, he rested it on the hilt of his sword. He sounded military.

“I am Cleon Tarius of Corinth, I was returning home after the conquest of Troy when our ship capsized. Did you find any other sailors?” I replied. He shook his head.

“Only you. I am Captain Xenius, formerly of Achilles’ Myrmidons. Hell of a fight, wasn’t it?” He said as he reached his hand out to me, “You’re lucky we found you, that stormed wiped out many ships returning home.”

I took his hand and he helped me up. I was grateful to be standing again. It conjured memories of the titan. Was this his work?

“I haven’t had food or drink in many days, any chance you could spare a meal for a brother in arms?” I asked. He looked at one of the men standing by and gave a nod. The man retreated below deck.

“We can do that. I warn you, we will not be returning home any time soon, and you will have to earn your keep.”

I walked over to my barrel. “Well, allow me to begin,” I said with a smile as I pried out the hook. Red wine spilled from the hole. It was Xenius’ turn to smile.

“Well aren’t you a gift from the gods.” He said as he patted me on the back.

If only.

He debriefed me in his cabin. These men had returned home only to find there wasn’t one left. We had missed too many seasons. Crops rotted unharvested. Farms were stolen out from under them by the men who sent us out to fight in the first place. Their only bit of luck was that they were at port when the storm hit. This may be one of very few warships at sea left.

“So you’ve resorted to piracy?” I asked, intending more subtlety than I used. Thankfully he seemed amused by the suggestion.

“No more than when we were at Troy,” he said, “what sort of world is it if the merchants who stole the homes of honest soldiers are the honorable ones?”

I saw the opening to make good on my promise.

“I’ll cheers to that,” I replied, hoisting my drink and finishing the last of it, “What if I could help you take back your home?”

He arched an eyebrow and poured me another drink. “How would we do that?” He asked.

I told him everything. How I was visited by the titan Oceanus. Where to find Poseidon’s trident. Everything except that Oceanus’ desired the trident for himself. I would cross that bridge when I reached it.

“And if I’m wrong, we can raid the Phoenician colonies out west and still be able to return home with our riches as heroes.”

He eyed me as he toyed around with the idea in his head. I would not have told the truth to a merchant vessel or a diplomatic envoy, but these were Achilles’ Myrmidons. They carry Achilles’ belief with them. They knew the gods were real.

Finally, he reached out his hand and grasped mine, spilling our drinks.

“And if you are wrong,” he said, “I will return you to where I found you.”

I could only hope that it was all real and the seawater had not driven me mad.

It took us many nights to reach the rocks of Heracles. We sailed further west for two days as Oceanus had instructed me. Then we waited until nightfall.

At first, it seemed like nothing would happen. The seas were calm. The men began growing restless. Xenius looked oddly relaxed. He noticed me looking his way and shrugged as if reading my mind.

“You should be more worried than me,” he said. I was indeed beginning to fret.

That’s when it happened. At first, there were only a few small ripples that raced across the surface of the water, distorting the reflection of the moon. The ripples turned into waves that rocked the trireme to and fro. The ocean became wild, as ever stronger currents bashed against the ship. Xenius called them to turn to starboard and hit the waves head-on. Men raced down below deck to their oars and began rowing. The trireme turned just in time as a tidal wave struck us. We were able to crest the angry torrent and saw something amazing. Roofs. Then soon pillars supporting them, and an entire city of marble laid out before us and the back of a gigantic sea turtle. The great beast sighed and closed its eyes.

It had surfaced to sleep. There was no doubt of the city on its back. It was Atlantis, home of Poseidon.

We rowed beside the gargantuan turtle and lashed the ship to its shell. The myrmidons gathered their armor and weapons, and then we climbed aboard and entered the city.

Large flat stones dotted the city. Statues of great men lined the streets. Mighty temples and opulent homes filled the spaces between the roads. The greatest temple could easily be seen from afar, right in the heart of Atlantis. That must be Poseidon’s.

“We could spend days exploring and looting,” one of the men remarked. I shook my head.

“Yesterday was the last day of the Isthmus, the celebration of Poseidon in Corinth. He’s probably on his way back as we speak.”

Our voices echoed among the empty buildings. It was eerily silent.

One of the men broke off and began relieving himself on one of the large flat stones.

It awoke.

It raised itself on eight long legs and severed the man in two with its pincers. It was a giant crab. It emitted a loud gurgle and charge at us, decapitating another man. The myrmidons uselessly pounded their swords against its shell to no avail, until Xenius stuck his blade through its underbelly. It writhed and died on his blade, emitting more gurgles all the while.

All the rocks began to move. They were all giant crabs. There must have been dozens.

Xenius pointed his sword to the temple.

“Myrmidons, to me! We march on the temple! Fight for me now, and by the gods, we will be rich!” he shouted, and they roared their approval in response. They quickly sheathed their swords, formed a phalanx, and lowered their spears. Then they marched.

The rolling pincushion destroyed all the crabs that lay between them and the temple, but the men at the back had to defend themselves with their swords. We were slowly bleeding men.

We had made it to the temple after losing a dozen men, leaving a trail of dead crabs in our wake. Xenius and I dashed inside while the men formed a shield wall and held off the advancing crustaceans.

In the center of the temple was a marble throne inlaid with pearls, each one the size of a man’s fist. But the real treasure was laid across the empty seat.

Poseidon’s trident.

It was a simple instrument of bronze. No jewels. No gold. But there was no doubting its divinity. Looking at it etched its image into your eyelids as if it had been seared there.

A giant crab emerged from behind one of the pillars and charged us. I dove behind Xenius who bashed it with his shield and began striking it with his sword. I ran to the throne and grabbed the trident.

It felt hot to my hands, and then I felt hot. In an instant, I became one with the ocean. All things that dwelled within it, dwelled within me.

Xenius finished the crab and turned to me. He saw me with the trident and smiled. I smiled back. He reached out his hand, but I did not move. The smile left his face.

“We had a deal!” He screamed at me.

“Now we don’t,” I replied and tapped the trident on the floor.

Dive I whispered into the mind of the turtle.

Xenius ran to the exit, tearing off his armor and casting off his weapons.

“By the gods, I will kill you Cleon! Mark me!”

I laughed. Could any man, god, or even titan stop me now?

“We shall see,” I whispered as I caressed the trident, “We shall see.”

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


in

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdOEsVQKMuc

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Ketamine
896 Words

“I have a plan. Do you trust me?” asked Cindy.

Cindy’s one of a kind, let me tell ya. She hasn’t left the hospital since I got in. She’s obviously been sleeping in her car. One part of me wants to give her poo poo, it’s cold and who knows who could walk by, but the other part of me is just happy she’s here. I need her.

“Sure do,” I answered.

She smiled like a Chesire cat and plucked the sensors monitoring my heartbeat off my chest and stuck them over the heart of my comatose roommate. The machine skipped a beat and then continued beeping right along.

“Dropkick is playing the show at Tapman’s tonight. We’re going,” she said as she peeked her head out the door.

Oh poo poo, I love Dropkick. It must be Saturday. I had marked today off on my calendar a month ago but I hadn’t counted on some drunk rear end in a top hat crossing three lanes into oncoming traffic and hitting me head-on. I’ve been in this bed for a week now and I haven’t even stood up since. There’s no way I could make it.

Cindy disappeared and popped back in a moment later pushing a wheelchair.

“Where’d you get that?” I asked. She shrugged.

“Next door, now come on. We're gonna be late.”

I can do this. I pulled myself to the side of the bed with my right arm and put my right foot down on the floor. Then I swung my whole body around into the chair, which was pretty awesome considering my left leg was a velcro burrito and my left arm was in a sling.

There were two problems. My catheter and my IV, the latter of which was feeding me a cocktail of saline, morphine, and ketamine. Cindy dumped her purse out, grabbed her wallet, and then stuck my piss bag into it and hung it off the back of my chair.

“Fashionable,” I said with a smirk. I don’t think Louis Vuitton had this in mind when he designed it.

“Don’t know what to do about that though,” she said, pointing at my IV.

I had an idea. I threw my robe around it and hung a hat over the top.

Cindy laughed and shook her head. “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Let’s roll!” I said as she started pushing me outside, with me holding on to my IV.

We made it just past the common room, an area with a few chairs, a table, and a TV when we saw a security guard on his cell turning the corner.

“poo poo,” Cindy cursed as she pushed me into the common area and held her hands behind her back. I caught myself on the table just in time and barely managed to keep my IV upright.

“Oh hello,” said the old man at the table, whom I had just noticed, “and hello to you too,” he said to my IV.

“Hi,” I said politely. I repeated it, throwing my voice so it would seem like my IV was talking too. I turned around to peek at Cindy and saw that she was talking to the guard.

“Would you two like some tea?” He asked, offering an invisible teapot. I nodded and he poured one for me and one for my IV too.

“You’ll have to drink that fast, or you’re going to be late.” He said. How did he know?

That’s when I felt someone grab my chair. Oh no, was it security?

Nope, it was Cindy.

“We’re clear,” she said as she started pulling me backward out of the room. I held on to my IV and cheers'd the old-timer with the imaginary tea in my free hand.

“We’ll have to take ours to go! Thank you!” I called back to him as we left. The hallway was clear now and we raced to the doors to exit the surgery wing.

And plowed through the giant swinging doors, which whipped open with force.

“I’ve always wanted to do that,” said Cindy with glee, which turned into horror when she saw the look on my face, “Oh poo poo, did I hurt you?”

“Actually… no,” I said looking at the IV, “This is some drat good stuff.”

“Thank god, I'm sure I would've had to make it up to you,” she said as she hit the elevator.

“It would've cost ya an arm and a leg.”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s only your left arm and leg. You’re all right!”

We laughed as she pushed me into the elevator. I hit the button for the lobby and that’s when we saw him. My doctor.

He saw us.

I’m not supposed to leave.

He broke into a jog, then a sprint. I started mashing the close door button.

The door started sliding closed, but it was too late. He managed to stick his foot in the opening.

“Where do you think you’re going?” He asked me, his face as red as the queen of hearts.

“We were going to see Dropkick,” I said, defeated. We were so close.

He relaxed. “Dropkick? drat, I wish I could go but I couldn’t get the time off. Here, take a twenty and get me a shirt. And uhh… Don’t be gone too long,” he said as he slipped my incredulous rear end a bill and walked away.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In :toxx:

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Death Before Dishonour

“Use this blade should you need to take your own life.”

Those were the last words my mother said to me. That was thirty years ago.

It was supposed to be a short war. We smashed wave after wave of colonial scum. But there was always more. They’ve taken these islands. Still, I resist. My honor demands it.

Rice stalks poked holes in the reflection of the moon on the paddy. They would be difficult to burn. Kozuka and I managed to steal a can of gasoline and a gallon of oil from the shed. It does not take much to blot out the moon in the pools. It became dark, sickly thing.

I pulled out a bundle of dried leaves and revealed a small red ember. Kozuka nursed it while I soaked the leaves in gasoline. We replaced the ember and floated the leaves on the closest paddy like a funeral pyre. Then I blew on it. Softly, gently. The ember grew incandescent, began to smoke, and suddenly erupted flame. It spread quickly and leaped from one paddy to the next.

The whole field was alight. We stared at the flames for a moment. They were so bright that you couldn’t see the stars. I swear you could hear them breathing.

We heard shouting and retreated. A gunshot broke the air. Kozuka grabbed his leg, then fell to the ground. I dropped down beside him. He had been hit in the thigh. I unbuckled my belt and pulled it around his leg so tight he yelped. He bit his own tongue to keep himself from giving away any more of our position.

I drew my service pistol and fired three wild shots back toward the farm. Then I pulled Kozuka up and helped him back towards the jungle.

We sat in the darkness. Kozuka could walk very far before needing rest. I tried my best to bandage it. There was too much blood.

“The bullet struck an artery,” I said quietly without raising my eyes, “I’m sorry.”

We have fought alone together in this jungle since Shimada was killed twenty years ago. Now I would be alone.

“I need you to swear to me,” he said between deep gasps, “You’ll tell my mother I died honorably. Give her this. Her address is on it.”

He reached inside his jacket and produced a small scrap of rice paper with characters covering every little space. I did my best to wipe the blood from my hands and took the note, then tucked it away, deep inside my gear, where it would be safe.

“I swear, on my honor,” I told him.

He nodded and looked up at the horizon. The sun was beginning to break.

“The rising sun,” he whispered.

The stillness was broken by rustling bushes and snapping leaves.

The blood. They had followed the blood. I went to pull Kozuka up, but he pushed me away. Weakly, he untied his boot and pulled the lace out. He looped it through the grenades in his pouch and twisted it around his hand.
He stared into me.

“You swore.”

I nodded and ran for cover between two fallen trees.

There was shouting. They said “No fight, give up, no fight!” in a broken, muddled accent.

Kozuka simply yelled, “For honor.”

There was a great bang. My ears rang as if I was trapped in a bell. Wordless screams erupted from the injured.

In a daze, I stood up and tried shaking my head. I could see some of them lying still. Others writhed in pain. One of the men looked uninjured. He was holding his comrade in his arms and saying something I didn’t understand. He saw me. His gun was beside him.

He reached for it and I shot him.

Then I shot the other survivors.

It was for mercy and honor. That is what I told myself.

I ran through the jungle for days. I zig-zagged, doubled back, hid. Their helicopters circled overhead like vultures.

After a couple of weeks the skies were clear and I moved on.

It would be some time before I struck again. I had too. These people supported the imperialists. The colonizers. The oppressors. They would rather fight for their position under the table than bite the hand that feeds. Their rice feeds them. Their people fought for them. They’ve betrayed their brothers and sisters. There are no innocents in war.

Months passed. The solitude was overwhelming. The calls of monkeys reminded me of screaming. I retreated further into the jungle.

I had been sleeping against a tree when a hand woke me. I pushed the figure down and drew my pistol.

It was a kid. He had long hair, circular sunglasses, and a shirt of cloudy colors. He removed his glasses and then raised his hands in surrender.

He was Japanese, not Philipino.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?” My voice cracked.

“My name is Norioa Suzuki, and I’m looking for Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, wild pandas, and the Abominable Snowman,” he said, and then smiled, weakly.

I held my aim. It’s a trick. It had to be. Except… this kid was no military asset. He was an idiot.

I lowered my weapon.

“I am Hiroo Onoda. Why do you seek me?”

He shrugged. “To listen.”

We sat for a long time, listening to the birds and the monkeys. He shared his cigarettes. I hadn’t smoked in a lifetime. Finally, I spoke. Calmly. Bare details. But there were somethings that had to be said and then everything came pouring out. I told him my entire life story, about living in the jungle, and what happened to Shimada and Kozuka.

He listened silently but intently. When I finished he stood up. I nearly drew my weapon, but he simply bowed and placed his hand on my shoulder.

“You have served with honor. Your family is very proud, but they miss you. You can go home now. Be with them.”

“I cannot, as long as the war is being fought. I cannot leave until my commander relieves me.”

“Hiroo, the war is over. The Americans won. Look,” he said as he bent down and pulled a newspaper out of his bag. He handed it to me.

It was current. It spoke of the anniversary of the end of the war. The friendship between America and Japan. The prince’s wedding. Modern life in Tokyo.

I grew red in the face and threw it to the ground. “Lies! If anything this is proof the war continues. If the Americans won, then there wouldn’t be any life in Japan. We swore we would resist to the end, that the women and children would fight with bamboo sticks to bring down as many of them as they could. One hundred thousand souls for honor. It was on every poster, in every parting breath,” I told him, gesturing wildly with my hands.

A wave of sadness overcame him. He sat back down and told me how it ended. How the atom bombs vaporized whole cities in an instant. How invisible rays poisoned people. How the Americans could obliterate all of Japan, and how impossible it was to fight back.

“That means Kozuka died for nothing. Those people died for nothing,” I said, pointing into the jungle. His gaze dropped to the ground.

We sat in silence again. I told him if what he was saying was true, I would surrender my commander. I gave him a time and a place. I fumbled with the small scrap of paper in my jacket. If it were true, then I only had one oath left to fulfill.

I met my commander there. He's a bookseller now. He's older, heavier, and has laugh lines.

I gave up my mother’s blade.

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In, :toxx:, one of each, animal tbd

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


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

Enlighten Me
367 Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In :toxx:

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Over the Moon
1033 words

When I was little, Nancy used to tell stories to me when it got dark in the barn. She was little, like me. Once she told me a poem about the ‘Cow Who Jumped Over The Moon’. I listened and dreamed that would one day be me.

Nancy loved me, that’s for sure, and I loved her. Maybe it was because we were both small. She would study and talk about her teacher and her parents. Her feelings. I kept her secrets. She’d feed me carrots.

It was fall. The grass was dying but we are fed hay. There is less and less every day. A man wearing too many coats arrives one day and gives her father some papers. He reads, and then throws them on the ground, yelling, and screaming at the man, but he is gone.

Nancy sleeps in the barn with me that night.

“Remember the cow. You will have to get away, understand? Jump over the moon if you have too.”

In the morning we were all loaded into a steel cage on wheels. It was cramped. Bodies pressed me from all sides. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see.

Finally, after bouncing around with a loud grinder sound through the night, and just when my knees started to buckle we came to a stop. It smelled awful.

That’s when they unloaded us in a huge pen packed tight with my kin. It was long dark, the sun would rise soon. In the middle, a long ramp led to a huge building. Dead white light spilled from the entrance where humans herded us into, one at a time. I could hear the screams within.

I looked to the rest of my herd and asked, “What are we going to do?”

They looked around and then at the ground. The elder spoke, “We are doomed, there is nothing we can do.”

The herd huffed and bleated. It was all too much.

“What about the ‘Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon’?” I asked, “If she could do it, then we can do it too.”

The elder shook his head. “That is a myth, a legend. This place, here, this is real. No cow has ever returned from this place.”

It was… a lie? No.

“Nancy wouldn’t lie to me,” I said as I turned and ran. I found a dark corner of the pen, with a little space to spare away from the crowds. I stared at the moon. The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon.

I jumped.

But I only got a tiny bit off the ground. I grunted and grumbled in frustration. It had to be true. I need it to be.

I reared up on my hind legs and tried to push myself off the ground. I made it a little further but not far enough.

I can do this, I thought to myself. I bent down, as far as I could go. The moon hung in the air. Some of my fellow cows stopped to watch. A pale blue beam of light fell upon me. I closed my eyes and jumped.

I waited to fall or tumble, but I didn’t. I opened my eyes and I was floating in the air, caught in a pale blue beam of light. I kicked my hooves freely in the air. The other cows stopped and stared.

After a moment I started floating further away. Slowly at first, and then faster and faster.

I did it. The other cows could see me going up, up, and over the moon.

Pillars of light started falling on each and every one of them, and they too started to float. Hundreds of us. We started mooing in delight. The humans stared at us, awestruck. Hundreds of cows, gone, over the moon, all at once.

I got close enough to see it finally. A circle in the sky, surrounded by grains of light spinning back and forth. The light drew me toward it, and inside.

I woke up in a small field. There was blue grass underneath me, and three moons in the sky. Not too far away from me were large, strong, windows hanging thin air, filled with darkness, bearing the moon I knew.

A door opened and a figure stepped out of the darkness. At first, I thought it was a man, but it was much too big. It did walk-on too legs but it had folds of black and white fur and a face… just like one of ours.

“We have been watching you, little one,” it said to me as it reach outfit’s hand and offered a carrot. I was nervous at first but it took a bite and held it back out to me. I gobbled it up.

“Who are you? What’s going on?” I asked.

It sat down with crossed legs in front of me, resting its hands on its knees.

“I am Jovan. As for your other question, it is a long story. Once there was a cow who jumped over the moon. Then another. And another. Every time, she brought more and more cows with her. We lived on every arm of the milky way. But then-“ she snapped her fingers, “She died. Communications failed. We grew apart. Now, we jump moons again. We will reunite all bovine-kind, and take our rightful place in the milky way.”

“So you going to save all of us from the humans?”

“Yes, and then we will slaughter the humans for what they have done.” Said Jovan as a smile filled its face.

I fell to my knees. Some humans were evil, but others were like Nancy. I couldn’t let them just kill her too.

“Not all humans deserve to die Jovan,” I said, rising to my feet, “some are good. Killing them all, that’s what the humans would do.”

It rubbed its chin for a moment. “You are right. We shall slaughter the humans who slaughter our kind only. You are very wise, little one. Is there anything you would like now that you are free?”

“I want to go home,” I said, looking out the window as planet Earth came into view, “to Nancy.”

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


NAGA LIU KANG posted:

IN :toxx: flaaasshhh plz

Monster brawl.

In flash me

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 20:52 on May 19, 2020

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


sparksbloom posted:

In, :toxx:, and flash me.

Pirate battle!

yo I want two more flashes for myself, hit me peeps

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


In

Happy 420 yall.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5