Register a SA Forums Account here!

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.
Communist Bear
Oct 7, 2008

I can't believe I'm doing this, i'm quite scared, but In.

Want to flex my writing muscles a little bit and could do with some critique.


Communist Bear
Oct 7, 2008

Is there a leeway on the word limit? For instance if I have 100 words extra? :)

Communist Bear
Oct 7, 2008

Doctor Eckhart posted:

Nope. Better start hiding them extra words under your mashed potato.

*Scrambles furiously*

Communist Bear
Oct 7, 2008

Anomalous Amalgam posted:

Against all odds, I have somehow triumphed over you meat bags. This being the case, I want you to look forward towards the future, far beyond the span of our mortal reign... I want you to peer into the nebulaic dreamscapes of our mechanical descendants and bring back fantastic stories from their dreams about what may be. Your human life has ended, your machine life has begun.

When you sign up I'll give you three images from Artbreeder

Put simply, not a lot of constraints here - take the images, stew over them, extrapolate and present a story so that you too may sit upon this blood throne.

If you request a flash, I'll give you a song to draw inspiration from, but it'll be metal.

Sign up deadline: Friday, February 14th 11:59 PM US CST
Submission deadline: Sunday, February 16th 11:59 PM US CST
Word Count: 1,000 words, an extra 500 with a flash song.

The Shepherd
1000 words

A sharp hiss of noise bled through the fabric of the rotten, dust-covered rag draped over them, and as the limb of twisted machinery and broken piping fell to the ground, they felt a sense of regret at losing another part of themselves. They listened to the noise slowly subside to the howling of the wind, the fallen limb dead on the scorched ground. Remorse gripped them, but they had no choice but to abandon it. To carry it any further would be folly.

They turned away and continued, pulling another layer of ragged fabric around the gap left by the lost limb. The sun sat low, the winds of ash sweeping up and blurring the thin line between sky and land. In the distance stood the castle of dust - today it was nearer, but still out of reach. Its towers and monuments were always reforming, bending and swirling into new shapes and patterns.

On some days the castle loomed - a colossus that filled the horizon. On those days they felt joyous, for their journey appeared over, only for that joy to become sorrow as they were unable to reach the gates. On other days the castle appeared distant, a mirage of sand that faded in and out of the mote-covered sky. On those days they felt purpose for their task and walked steadily ahead.

There were days when the castle wasn’t there at all and those they feared the most. The ground beneath them seemed uncertain. They left rocks to remember where they had started, but on the days when the castle disappeared the rocks fooled them, trailing behind them in spirals, or appearing ahead of them, as though they had already walked this path before.

They would sleep and have visions. They would be standing in a meadow of green, the sky a pure blue, the air fresh and warm. They would be reborn of flesh and would remember their name and all that came before. They would find the flower, in the middle of a temple of stone, atop a plinth of glass and jewel. The pink petals would flow down, spinning into infinity. They would touch one of the petals and in that instant awaken refreshed.

Today the castle was very close, only another cycle of sun and moon away. They shambled slowly across the barren unforgiving land. They stopped, as ahead of them they saw an illusion, a row of statues flickering wet from the heat of the Sun.

They shuffled forward, but the illusion did not break. Instead they found themselves facing a macabre scene. The statues were of themselves, at one point, but now stood broken, naked and rusted. Limbs had been scavenged or burned away by the cruelty of time. Heads were missing, and in some cases the metal had reformed and bent into grotesque amalgamations. All were dead.

On the ground in front of each statue sat a solitary rock, covered with dust. They moved closer to one of the statues and with their remaining arm lifted the rock from the ground. The unremarkable stone was no different from the ones they had used to mark their trail. Had these statues travelled before them? Had they failed in their journey? Gripped by fear, they placed the stone down and moved away.

Cycles of moon and sun passed, and they grew no nearer to the castle. One evening they stopped underneath a dead tree. They looked down and saw a trail of rocks leading away from the tree and away from the castle, back towards the gloom of the night.

Hesitantly, they followed the rocks, which scattered and turned, but always led backwards. They feared this. They stopped and turned around and already the castle appeared further away. Should they continue to follow the rocks? They turned again and looked at the path of rocks ahead, trying to decipher where it was leading.

They made a decision and continued following each rock bending into the distance. Soon the trail seemed to twist even tighter, until eventually they could see the trail curving back on them. They kept going until eventually they arrived at the what had to be the end, the centre of a giant spiral. They looked down at the last rock. Had it all been for nothing?

There was a hiss of noise, and the wind seemed to turn. They looked up and found themselves standing in front of a wooden gate. Above the swirling dust of the castle flowed in golden patterns of light. They walked forward, carefully placing a rusty hand upon the gate. The gate opened and they felt warmth and joy inside awaiting them.

Then they stopped. They had travelled together, but only one could enter. They knew that more were out there, lost and alone. They too needed saving. They felt sorrow at this, for they had travelled for so long together and they feared the separation. They understood though – their gift would continue inside and they would be reunited in the end. They wished each other well.

It walked forward and in that moment, the machine felt the robes wrapped around it slowly unwind. The wiring and sinew gave free as the robe that had granted the machine its consciousness swept up in the wind and burst out, back out into the night. The machine entered and breathed in the warmth and joy as it became machine no more.

The robe twisted and blew across the scorched earth, travelling hundreds of miles and thousands of cycles, until one day it fell across the legs of a metal statue. It slid slowly around the machine, dug cable and wire into it, sliding upward, around and through it, tightening until the cloth covered it completely.

In their visions they would find the plant and the pink petals, and they would touch one of the petals and awaken refreshed.

They looked across the scorched landscape and saw the castle in the distance.

They walked forward.

Communist Bear
Oct 7, 2008

Uranium Phoenix posted:

Not bad for a first TD entry; hope you’ll keep coming back for more.

I am!


Week 394: The Questions of Interpersonal Closeness


I'll take the following question:


33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?


Communist Bear
Oct 7, 2008

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

The Paths of Two Brothers
1400 words

It was the small things really, the tiniest mistakes, that would set him off. Despite his best efforts over the years, despite the medication and the counselling and the “decompartmentalizing” that were meant to ease his stress, he would still find himself falling into the same trap, the shadow of the memory always lingering there, waiting to strike.

This time it was spilling water at a restaurant, the roll of the glass and the water trickling down onto the floor. Apologies and embarrassment, and then the trip down memory lane.
“Are you alright, George?” His wife asked opposite him, her hand clasping his. He smiled and nodded, taking in her comfort. He patted down some of the wet cloth with his napkin, then continued to look at the menu before him.

Unbidden, the cold gloomy room entered his mind, a room that rejected the warmth of the sunlight outside the window. The teacups and pot on the table, lukewarm as always, powdered milk ruining the texture of the tea. The spilt water from the glass next to it, his mother tutting in an irritated tone as George mopped it up quickly. The question being asked of him, by his mother and father. An unfair question.

“I think,” George said, wrenching himself to the present. “I’ll have the duck. What about yourself?”

“The fish looks lovely,” Margaret replied. “But I’m not sure a bottle of white wine to myself will be a good idea!”

“Yes, of course,” he said, apologetically, flicking through the menu.

“Don’t worry though,” she smiled at him. “You have the duck; I can just have a glass.”

He smiled, rubbing his grey beard, his other hand subconsciously reaching down into his suit pocket, fumbling the medication bottle. Had he taken one today already? He felt foolish. A Professor of Psychology for thirty-odd years, only to be struck down with the very same depression he tried to remedy in other people. He moved in his chair a little and watched the restaurant busy itself, the gentle lighting slowly fading to the memory of the room again.

“It’s a prestigious University,” his father spoke in his rough voice. He was a well-built man with thick hands and thick lines through his face, creases from long, hard workdays. He was a tough man to love, George remembered, but he was fonder of his father than of his mother.

“It will be good for you and you will go far.” Her voice was ice, her stern face sitting upon a tall neck wrapped in cloth tighter than a noose. He felt guilty that his memories of her were never happy, but she had been a difficult woman right up to her death. He always wondered if his father and mother had married out of love, or prestige? She was from a better family and he was on his way up, working hard in the mills to get to responsibility and management, to the stable home and life he had eventually earned.

“And what about Arthur?” George had asked. “His grades are just as good. Doesn’t he deserve a chance too?”

“We can’t afford it,” his mother snapped, turning away from the table. His father sighed and slapped a meaty hand onto George’s shoulder.

“The cost is,” he paused. “Well…it’s very expensive, but he’ll be alright. He’s going to come work for me, down at the mill.”

“I can work there too though?” He protested. “Why isn’t Arthur here to discuss this?”

“You can’t work at the mill,” his mother turned back around to look at him, her voice and face stern. “Not with your condition.”

His condition – Tuberculosis. He’d survived it, but it had left him weakened, his lungs still healing, and he could get out of breath easily. Forty years later and the effects still lingered, returning in the form of a cough or taking the common cold harder than others.

The duck arrived and he ate, trying to enjoy the meal, ignoring the memory and the chest pain that had been bothering him all day. He chatted with his wife, enjoying her company and laughter, smiling when she did. The wine was a light red that worked well with the deep flavour of the meat. He finished the dish, but any hope of the food helping the chest pain subside seemed to be in vain.

“We can’t afford to send both of you to University,” the echo of his father spoke. “This isn’t an easy decision to make, but we feel you would do better there.” He sat down at the table in front of the papers from the University and looked up at his son.

“It’s a warmer climate,” he continued. “It will be good for you. And you’ve always been brighter than your brother.”

“That’s right, in Maths and English literature.,” George nodded his head, thinking about the exams.

“Aye, lad,” he whispered. “And your mother and I-“

He looked up at her and in the flicker of the aged memory George always thought there was a sudden anger in his fathers’ eyes.

“We talked about it long and hard and felt it was best you go. You’ll go far, son.”

George looked down at the table. The University was very prestigious, he knew it. That he had been accepted for such a place did excite him, but if Arthur had also been accepted, didn’t he deserve the same chance?

He nodded uncertainly, almost without realising what he was doing. His father moved the papers quickly, signing them, sealing them, then stood up, ruffled George’s hair and gave him a wink. George looked away.

“Not a word of this to your brother, alright?” He spoke calmly.

“Not a word,” his mother repeated more sternly.

A month later and he was attending the University, far away from home and from that room. Four years later he had graduated, then years more working towards Doctor, then Professor, never returning to that day. His brother went on to work at the mill, none the wiser of the choice made for him. He was upset that he had not been accepted, but he never grew angry or cold towards George.

Every year he would think about telling Arthur – think about phoning him, or writing a letter, or saying something, but he feared what it could do. To his relationship with his brother, the wrath it might inflict upon him from his mother and father. Years went by and he forgot about that day, until finally their parents passed away. In their grief they grew closer together, Arthur never knowing how successful he could have been, never reaching the same heights. A modest job and little wealth, whilst George a successful Professor.

Then ten years ago, Arthur was injured, a horrible accident in the mill that left him unable to work and retiring early, his small pension barely keeping him by. Shortly afterwards, George was diagnosed with depression, misery besetting his days until it got to the point he was no longer able to function. Therapy sessions uncovered the guilt, but the remedy was something he couldn’t do. How could he tell his brother his life could have been so much better? That he hadn’t stood up for him?

“You should speak to him.”

George emerged from his gloomy thoughts and shook his head slightly.

“I’m sorry?” He asked, unsure of what his wife had just said.

“I said you should speak to him. Arthur,” as though she somehow knew what George had been thinking.

“He mentioned needing money for his roof recently?” She continued. “He won’t be able to pay that himself. Maybe we can help him out? He’s always been there for us.”

He smiled slightly and nodded. “Yes,” he said. Maybe he should speak to Arthur. Maybe it was time to have a proper conversation. Perhaps his brother would forgive him.

They left the restaurant and made their way to the car. George shook his right arm slightly, his fingers feeling tingly. Probably from sleeping awkwardly, he thought.

“Everything okay?” Margaret asked, getting into the car.

“Yes,” George responded. “You’re right about Arthur. I’ll phone him tomorrow morning, about time we talked.”

He started the car, reversed and turned.

“I love you, Margaret,” George said, feeling a sense of relief he had not felt in a while.

“I love you too,” she smiled.

They drove out into the evening.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5