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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


per the discord discussion i am going to pour my soul into a story and it will be terrible. in

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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


ok song me

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


uh oh

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


in with dystopian scifi

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


hm. if i sign up and get an item, will i actually write a story?

give me something you wouldn't care if you never saw again. treat me like a bad friend.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


in with jurassic park

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Jurrear endic Park
988 words

Ray’s father, sitting behind the wheel of his cherry 1976 camaro, flicked his hair out of his eyes and looked down at Ray. “Hold onto your butt,” he said, lit cigarette bouncing between his lips.

“Ok dad! I’m ready!” shouted Ray, grabbing a handful of cheek in each hand.

His father winked at him and slammed the gas pedal to the floor. The tires and Ray squealed as the car launched forward out of a cloud of smoke. Little Ray was pressed into the back of the seat so hard that his tiny, undeveloped heart struggled to push back against the weight of his chest. The car thundered through the abandoned industrial park and weaved through shells of abandoned factories and warehouses.

Ray’s teeth vibrated and his tears of joy soaked into the shag-carpet seat cover behind him.

They raced toward a brick wall and Ray swallowed hard, but his dad pulled the e-brake at the last minute, sending the car sliding sideways around the corner before he slammed it into third gear and rocketed toward the defunct crane that towered over the empty docks.

“Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaster!” screamed Ray, and his father obliged.

The rusty shipping containers seemed to elongate as they merged into a blur. Ray struggled to remain conscious. All he could think was: “this is aweeeeeeesome!” and: “my dad is the best!” and then suddenly: “wait, what’s that?”

“Dad, watch out!” yelled Ray, and he let go of his butt to brace himself against the dashboard.

The car hit the speed bump with such force that Ray hit the ceiling, rotated 180 degrees, and then flew into the back seat before landing. Sparks spewed from behind them as they exploded through a chaining fence and out onto the street, narrowly missing a pedestrian before skidding to a stop and stalling in an eerie silence.

Shaken and confused, the pedestrian picked himself up off the ground and dabbed at his bleeding forehead with shaking hands.

Ray's dad tapped ash out the window and took a deep breath. “poo poo, Ray. You ok?” he said, looking at Ray in the rearview mirror

Ray rubbed his head. “I… think so.”

Ray’s father sighed in relief. “That gate don't look cheap; we gotta get out of here.” The car started back up and pulled onto the road as if nothing had happened, leaving behind a man shouting impotently into the wind.

Ray sat up and his eyes widened. He slowly reached down and felt where his butt should have been. He gasped. “Dad! We have to go back! My butt fell off!”

“Dammit, Ray! I told you to hold onto it!”

Ray cried. “I was! I got scared!” He looked through the back window to see his butt marooned in a heap on the ground. "I can see it still!"

His father hit the steering wheel with his fist. “We can’t go back! If the judge finds out I’ve been doin’ sweet skids in the abandoned industrial zone again he said I’ll lose my job and maybe even go back to jail!”

“But dad!” Ray contorted himself in the back seat trying to look at his own backside, but wasn’t sure what he was even looking for. He’d never tried to look at his own butt before. “It hurts!”

“Stop looking at it, you’re making it worse!”

“How can it be worse?" Then he thought of one thing that was destined to make it worse and broke into sobs as he imagined what his mom would say we're she found out.

Ray’s dad threw his cigarette out the window and ran his hand through his hair. “It’s ok, we’ll think of something. It’ll be alright."

They pulled into a gas station as three cop cars, sirens blaring, raced past them in the opposite direction toward the industrial park. Ray’s dad wrapped his flannel sweatshirt around Ray’s waist to hide his gluteus indespectus and rushed him into the gas station bathroom, grabbing a pack of latex gloves on the way. Ray’s dad locked the door.

“Ok, drop your pants, lets see how bad it is.”

Ray, sniffling, lowered his pants. His batman underwear, usually filled out in the back by his butt, hung limp off his lower back. “Is it bad?”

“No, man, it’s barely noticeable,” his dad stammered.

Ray could see the lie on his face and started crying even harder.

“It’s ok, we can fix it!” he said, and hurriedly opened the pack of gloves. He blew one up and tied it off like a balloon, then repeated the process for another. He stuffed the engorged gloves down the back of Ray’s pants so that they formed two squishy butt cheeks. “See, good as new.”

Ray turned his butt toward the mirror and looked over his shoulder. Little latex fingers stuck out of the top of his underwear, out the leg holes, and some poked straight back out like they were trying to escape.

Ray sighed with relief. No way his mom would be able to tell now. He pulled his pants back up and looked up at his dad. “I want go home now.”

Ray's dad gave him a hug. "One last stop."

***

The front door of Ray's house opened slowly, and his mother peeked out around a corner. "Boys, that you?"

"Yup, just us, two normal dudes," said Ray's dad.

Ray walked silently and stiffly into the living room and forced a smile. "Feeding the ducks sure was fun."

Ray's mom dried her hands and knelt down in front of Ray. She looked him up and down and Ray looked up at his dad, who was cool as Joe Camel.

"Wait a minute," said his mom. "What's this?"

Ray clenched his gloves.

His mom licked her finger and wiped the corner of Ray's mouth. "You got ice cream without me, didn't you!?"

Ray and his dad laughed in unison.

"Busted!" said his dad, and they all laughed together.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


because not everybody reads the discord i thought i'd pop in to let y'all know that team archive is currently working on some archive upgrades because why the hell not. PM me any suggestions you might have and I'll consider them if it sounds reasonable and i don't think it'll take a lot of effort.

there's a new tool to play around with to see how many individual words you know, find all your unique spelling mistakes, and see all the stories that use the word "butt" (it's a lot)

https://thunderdome.cc/worder.php

in addition you can now favorite more stories, up to total/10 (3 minimum) cause apparently writers can't stop huffing their own farts

more coming soon

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


in with some spicy cayenne pepper

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Hey everybody. A few things.

A while ago, Kaishai, Twist, Sitting Here and Djeser (and friends!) often did audio recaps of the weeks. During these ____________ times, we thought it'd be fun to get them going again. They're a lot of work so we're trying a rotating schedule of different people, formats, and styles. This week, Uranium Phoenix, Sparksbloom, and Mocking Quantum and myself sat down with the loft goal of talking about EVERY story from Week 418: Ancillary Action. I think we did a decent job, so if you entered that week you might want to check it out. Sorry I sound like a nerd, it's congenital.

https://thunderdome.cc/recaps.php?week=418

Secondly, I've added a feature to the Unofficial Thunderdome Archive called "collections" where you can... collect... different stories. Maybe all the stories that mention butts or whatever. Anyway, goons have already started some, so maybe soon we'll have some nice curated sets of Thunderdome stories.

https://thunderdome.cc/collections.php

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Three Alarm Chili
1593 words

Agni prefered the dry heat of the Mojave over the monsoons of Mumbai. He’d even taken to the boots, wide-brimmed hat and dungarees, but he furled his brow at the unappetizing pot of slop bubbling on the campfire. Chili shouldn’t have been so hard to master. Beans, tomatoes, and spices--essentially an American curry. He’d even telegramed his mother for advice, but she always replied “just add more yogurt,” which wasn’t helpful.

Dale, Agni’s ranch-hand partner, scooped a cupful of chili and took a giant first bite. “Your chili is the best, even if you don’t use any meat,” he said with his mouth full. “Gotta be some of your voodoo magic, but I’m not complaining.” He cut a piece of cornbread from the dutch oven with his knife and stuffed it into his mouth.

Agni sighed and walked to the edge of the camp. In the low light of the setting sun he could just make out the silhouettes of the herd grazing in the valley below. More cows than he’d ever seen back home, and he alone was responsible for their wellbeing. Well, Dale too, but his routine was usually chili → bourbon → snoring, and Angi wouldn’t trust him with even a single peacock.

Agni pulled a ganjha cigarette from his vest and leaned against a sandstone outcropping. He meditated to the sound of a sloshing bottle and distant thunder.

He met Prajapati in a field of lotuses, making an intricate mandala out of spices on an old wooden table.

Angi watched him for a while, not wanting to interrupt.

“I always like making the middle of the mandala the most,” said Prajapati without looking up. Every small addition grows the flower by leaps and bounds, but towards the outer ends you can work for days and never notice the difference. It’s very frustrating, but important to finishing. Without the edge, the mandala would be incomplete.”

Angi nodded.

“Your chili. You are working on the outer rim, but the heart is corrupt.”

“What do you mean?” Angi asked. “My heart?”

Prajapati shook his head. “The heart that beats beneath your chili. You of all people should know this. Fire is the great creator, but your chili is not in the fire, is it? It’s sequestered away in your metal bowl.” His hand arced along the edge of the mandala, pouring a thin line of red spice, but it never seemed to fully loop back and complete the circle.

“But I can’t light a fire in my chili,” Agni protested.

Prajapati looked up and brushed the dust off of his hands. “Purity comes not from the surrounding heat, but from the fire contained within. Learn to control that, and you shall have what you seek.” The god took a deep breath and blew the mandala, sending a flurry of spices at Angi.

The crackling of brittlebrush stirred Agni from his oblivion. The sun had finished setting and it was dark except for the glow of fire. A gust of desert wind blew smoke and embers of paper into Angi’s face and his belongings; a small brushfire burned close enough that Angi felt the sting of tightening skin around his eyes. He grabbed the shovel from next to the fire pit and scooped heaps of earth onto the fire as fast as he could until he had smothered the fire. A blanket of red dust settled on everything in the camp. Dale, passed out in his tent, coughed a few times and rolled over.

Agni pulled the remains of his burned pack from the pile of dirt.

“Aw, man,” said Agni, dropping the hot satchel back to the ground as it burned his hand. He licked his singed fingertips and looked down at the bag. A pack of cayenne peppers wrapped in smoldering paper fell out, which startled him, since he hadn’t packed any peppers.

He bent down and poked at the package with a stick. The peppers had been charred and dried in the fire, but their aroma was unmistakable. He separated a single pepper from the others and cautiously picked it up, tossing it back and forth between his hands until it cooled to a manageable temperature.

Angi took a bite and gasped for air. It was hard to determine where the burning from the fire ended and the spice began. He spit it from his mouth but the burning continued.

He’d had spices before, naturally, and even been goaded into trying peppers too hot for him to handle by his friends back in Bandra. But these gifts from Prajapati burned with heat from the gods.

***

A group of men gathered near the brick oven tucked between the general store and the brothel, all holding a cup, bowl, or some even with a full pot intending to return a hero to their family.

“No way it’s better than meat,” said a soot-covered worker from the nearby silver mine.

“It’s perfect, best chili that ever existed,” said another.

Agni mumbled to himself, stirred the pot, and dipped his dirty finger into the chili and brought it to his lips. “No, not right. Never right. Never finished. The edges are never finished.” He sprinkled a bit more stone-ground, fire-roasted cayenne powder into the chili. He took another long drag of ganjha and closed his eyes. He’d taken to lacing it with a small amount of peyote he’d traded some Navajo they’d crossed paths with. It helped him chase down that slippery sunuvabitch Prajapati.

“What’s wrong with him though?”

Agni looked up from his pot. “He knows the secret, but he hides in his fields of flowers. Hard to find him. But need the peppers.” He resumed his work of tinkering with the chili. “Too cold,” he said. Another dash of ground cayenne and he tasted it again and then threw his satchel of herbs to the ground. “Too hot! It’s ruined!” He stormed off toward the room he rented above the apothecary, and the crowd set in to scooping the boiling chili into their cups, bowls and pots.

***
The crowds had grown, as had the distances from which they hailed. There was a system now, a line to distribute the chili after Agni invariably threw up his hands and abandoned it. Grease the right palms and you could find your way to the front of the line. Own the right people, and you could have it delivered to you in your own parlor.

The alleyway was lined with offerings of dried beans, pallets of fresh tomatoes, and canvas bags filled with peppers and other spices. Agni would browse through them each morning as he began his cooking. Ads were hung up around town boasting that Agni had used a store’s tomato or beans, hoping to lure customers who hoped to recreate the dish for their families.

Horses on the street just outside the alleyway had to walk around dozens of tables that had been either dragged over or built on site to give the lucky dozens a place to sit and eat their chili.

Agni mediated more often and grew less coherent. Men that complimented him were ignored, women that propositioned him were shunned. Agni talked only to himself and his invisible compatriot, only leaving his room to cook or disappear into the hills on horseback at breakneck speeds into the black night that even the most foolhardy cowpokes were wise enough not to attempt to follow him.

***

It was a Sunday when Agni finally perfected his chili; the women were waiting patiently in dresses and with parasols, the men in top hats and three piece suits.

Agni, his face somehow sallow despite his days spent in the sun, dipped his finger into the chili and tasted it, then stood up straight. “I’ve finished it!”

The congenial conversations in the crowd died down as everybody turned toward the Indian specter, his clothes ratty and knotted from impromptu patches and his face streaked with mud of dirt and dried tomatoes.

“Perfectly balanced. A gift to the gods!” Agni laughed manically at the sky as his chili, settling into its triple point, wafted from the pot as vapor.

The spicy fog drifted through the crowd. Children cried and spit as they breathed in lungfuls of Agni’s consummate creation. Dogs barked and bit at the air that stung their eyes. The whole cloud of chili rose into the air on the desert breeze as the townspeople wiped at their faces with handkerchiefs and fumbled through the crowd looking for their loved ones.

Agni laughed a bellowing, otherworldly laugh as the chili fog in the air above him spontaneously turned back to liquid and rained on the onlookers. The women with their parasols were initially spared, until the rain drops transmuted into solid balls of baked beans and tomatoes and tore through the gossamer fabric and left welts.

The whole process repeated a half dozen times, with the chili shifting from vapor clouds to liquid rain and a hail of diced onions.

Panicked people slipped in the capsaicin-ladened mud and grasped at the tables to pull themselves up before being knocked back down by the nuggets of finely pureed tomatoes.

“Stop this madness!” somebody screamed, but Agni’s laughs thundered through the skies and echoed off the hills as he unlocked his Brahman.

Agni met Prajapati in his field of flowers and walked over to the unfinished mandala. With a steady hand, Agni reached out and poured the final rim of the cayenne border, and then with the acceptance of the protector, erupted into flame.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


fine gently caress it in but i'm going to write something real weird

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Crits from Week 418: Ancillary Action


Author: Chopstick Dystopia

Filme: Bladerunner

Authentic Los Angeles Ramen

Movie: Harrison ford, a robot hunter, stops at a ramen place in the rain. He has a brief exchange with the chef and orders food. He eats for a bit, then gets arrested. The chef translates for Harrison ford a few times.

Story summary: A lady sits down to order noodles. Chef wonders about his wife’s happiness and his duty to serve noodles. He serves noodles, the lady leaves, he decides everything is fine.

Fav line: “She wanted to like something and feel good for liking it.” a great way to show how Enji feels about her and people like her.

Least fav line: “The afternoon darkened as gravity dragged curtains of water from the sky, separating the oblong diner from everything but the immediate sidewalk.”

Overall impression: the story fits well in the blade runner noir universe with its descriptions of the setting/place. Not really sure what a mood link does, is that a thing from blade runner? I don’t remember it. I like the themes in this but it’s a little too purple, a little on the nose in places where it should be more subtle, and too subtle in places it should be more direct. Slightly too philosophical and nothing really changes for the Chef, he just thinks about things for a few minutes and decides everything is fine and maybe he’ll join his wife being happy. The conflict in this story is 100% internal and could do with some slight pressure from his wife to join her or something pressing like a deadline or something. It’s like 80% of the way there and makes me want to watch blade runner again.



Author: MockingQuantum

Film: Alien

Jones the Cat, as played by Werner Herzog

Movie: the cat runs around the ship while the alien is killing everybody. The alien notices the cat but doesn’t really seem to care. The cat gets somebody killed. It survives.

Story Summary: The cat observes several scenes from the movie and comments on them.

Fav line: “I have determined it is a sort of space-cat.”

Least fav line: “The propulsion systems seem to be neglected and nonfunctional, which is to be expected.”

Overall impression: oof, that opening line is purp to heck. So, so many adjectives in that opening paragraph. Sometimes less is more. If every noun has an adjective, they start to feel hollow and forced, and it falls into a weird rhythm. If you haven’t seen the movie, you will have no idea what is happening in this story, which is mostly a series of reactions. The cat possesses the weird “i understand human technology but am above it, i just don’t know the correct words so i call it something cutesy” trait that a lot of fiction animals / children have that annoys the poo poo out of me. I like the idea of the cat seeing this other predator and just being like “respect” but cats run from dogs and other big animals, not like they’re fearless or think they can’t be hunted as well. Have a hard time buying this character.



Author: Something Else

Film: Ghostbusters

Busted!


Movie: some friends from new york strap on fancy backpacks and blast ghosts.

Story Summary:

Fav Line: “you couldn't stiff a clown who'd already clowned, even if he failed out of clown college”

Least fav line: "Gulp," I might have literally said. I was panicking.

Overall impression: you’re over the word count, and unnecessarily so. So many words/lines could have been cut from this. The whole thing reads like a first draft, stream of conscious “get it on paper” thing. Then the ending seems like you literally just went with the first thought that popped into your head and you didn’t bother making sure this story was thematically consistent or anything. It’s like… why did you write this? What did you want your reader to get from it?



Author: Simply Simon

Film: Groundhog Day

Bill’s Secret

Movie: A dude is trapped in the same day over and over. He goes to a diner with a woman and to convince her he’s lived the day before goes around and says a little bit of info about everybody. He knows one of the waiters is gay.

Story Summary: Bill sees an old crush come in and fixates on her and her date. then somebody new comes in and he turns his attention towards the guy. He “remembers” a bunch of sex stuff. The guy comes over and tells him he’s gay. He realizes he is.

Fav Line: “In Punxsutawney, it’s always Groundhog Day, no matter if you’re still remembering the last or preparing for the next.”

Least fav line: “Your blood boils because of this man, who seems like he has shown you something, gave you insight on a big secret, and now he’s here, intruding on your real workday, ignoring you, despite the special moments you somehow know you shared?”

Overall impression: meh. In the movie the “i am!” doesn’t seem like it has so much denial behind it, just a sort of surprise that Bill Murray knows. But even without that, this story just feels hollow. I feel like “a character realizing they’re gay” is pretty overdone and there’s nothing here that feels like it’s groundbreaking or even fun. It’s just a guy agonizing over another guy he just saw. I think he is remembering past resets where he banged bill murray’s character? It’s hard to know what is real and what is imagined, as maybe he’s just been having the same fantasies every day each reset and they’re growing in strength. They also seem to contradict each other, saying “not for me,” and also that they stayed up talking about their plans for the future life together. The first part with the date / crush seemed unnecessary because it doesn’t really add all that much but takes a considerable amount of wordcount for him to feel similar feelings and ask similar questions as he does with Bill Murray’s character. Not a huge fan of this story and somehow it almost feels offensive? Though i don’t think you intended it to be but i guess you turned what i thought was a silly scene from the movie into a forced outting, which doesn’t make me feel good.



Author: Saucy_Rodent

Film: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Clavius

Movie: a black thing fucks up some monkeys, they go to space and find the black thing. A computer tries to kill everybody and sings a song.

Story Summary: Some people on a moonbase have been abandoned. They are eating people who die / are murdered? They try to get help. They are offered help, but decline it for duty. There is a coup. They will get rescued. PSYCHE the real rescue was like “u jerks” and kills them.

Fav Line: “The first time the crew of Moon Base Clavius resorted to cannibalism, they learned there's not much meat on the bones of someone who died from lack of bone-meat.”

Least fav line: “I am saddened to see the tenor of these intercepted communications change, which has necessitated a change in our national security protocol.”

Overall impression: I’m not 100% sure how radio frequencies work but I don’t think you need to “know” them. You can just transmit on different frequencies and hope somebody hears it. Anyway I was like “ah yeah” when i started this story, cause i like the first few lines. I thought it was gonna be a lighthearted romp through cannibalism, but then it fell back on some pretty boring plot of oh no we’re stuck! No we’re not! Ok we’re dead! And i don’t really know what you were going for but I didn’t care about anybody in this story and I don’t care that they’re hungry or dead.



Author: a friendly penguin

Film: The Big Lebowski

Everyone Wants Something

Movie: the dude answers his door and the super tells him about his quintet and asks if the dude can be there. The dude answers affirmatively. “No way’s he gonna go” you think irl but gently caress the dude actually shows up, though him and his buddies talk through the whole thing.

Story Summary: Marty practices and hopes for his big chance. He gets it. Nobody cares.

Fav Line: “ And that’s all he needed to hear before launching into the first movement of his quintet, squeezing himself into a ball and rolling across the floor”

Least fav line: “A cancellation… Crane Jackson’s Fountain Street Theater… next Tuesday… would you like to move up the list?”

Overall impression: i like the idea of this, and the heart, but describing a dance scene is kind of like watching somebody sing in an episode of a TV show, i’m like “oh god, this poo poo?” like i dunno, it was pretty loving boring and i really didn’t want to be reading it. You could have used that space to do something better. We SEE the dance in the movie, we know it’s loving weird. I’m not interested in that, i’m interested in MARTY and how this affects him, but i don’t really get to know that. A lot of missed opportunity here.



Author: crabrock

Film: Jurassic Park

Jurrear endic Park

Movie: dinosaurs

Story Summary: a boy’s butt falls off

Fav Line: “Stop looking at it, you’re making it worse!”

Least fav line: “The car started back up and pulled onto the road as if nothing had happened, leaving behind a man shouting impotently into the wind.”

Overall impression: wow i wrote something for the first time in over a year.



Author: Tyrannosaurus

Film: Amadeus

Salieri Stopped Writing in 1804, or the Three Seasons of an Assassin

Movie: Salieri gets really jealous of Mozart, who is pretty annoying. I don’t think i’ve seen the end tbh.

Story Summary: an assassin is blackmailed into killing mozart. He don’t want to but he does. He feels guilty. He goes a bit mad, but not all the way. He gets revenge.

Fav Line: “I absolve you of murder. Not of blasphemy.”

Least fav line: “The Church’s messenger, the priest, an Italian, Bergamaschi, gave me a crooked smile.”

Overall impression: this is decent but i want to read more of this world and character. It’s a lot shoved into a little space. It’s hard to do guilt in few words, I think, it always feels rushed to a conclusion. I feel like you learned how to write a good ending because it was very satisfying and i used to give you poo poo for that all the time, so good job.



Author: Thranguy

Film: Space Jam

Hellrule: can't use 'a', 'the', 'of', 'to', or 'and'

Nina, Who Clowned on Charles Barkley

Movie: i actually haven’t seen it

Story Summary: i think the girl rabbit thinks about the time she beat charles barkley? I honestly have no loving idea.

Fav Line: “Get that knowledge, get those skills, be your hospital's number one cutter. Go surgical.”

Least fav line: “Guy comes from fractional centuries, comes from Mars as well as deep hollows under ground.”

Overall impression: i either love your stories because you create something beautifully weird or i hate them because i don’t know wtf is happening in your weird brain.



Author: AstronautCharlie

Film: Die Hard

We’re All Staying Late

Movie: john mcclain has marriage and german troubles. He hurts his feet.

Story Summary: um. Weren’t they at an after-hours christmas party? Why would they just start doing work?

Fav Line: “We’ve clearly been taken hostage”

Least fav line: “We’ve clearly been taken hostage”

Overall impression: honestly i zoned out and skimmed it cause i really didn’t care because i was too bugged that it seems to directly contradict the movie setting and i couldn’t focus on anything but that.



Author: Noah

Film: Forrest Gump

Ebb

Movie: two southern boys catch shrimp.

Story Summary: some kid learns gump is on the football team. Hears one person is getting cut. Waxes a lot about his dad. Hates football. Gets cut, gets mad.

Fav Line: “His father swore he would be at every game. He never made it to one.”

Least fav line: “He thought about how his father used to tell him that he wanted to be buried near Denny stadium, so that he could always catch the game.” just so many pronouns

Overall impression: write out numbers below ten, or do the whole time. Looks jarring how you have it now. Anyway this story has the seed of something good, but it falls flat in a few areas that ultimately make it a bit boring. Dean is playing football only because his dad wanted him to, but his dad is dead. Maybe spend a little bit more time on how Dean does want to be at college and sees football as the necessary evil. You kind of mention that might be the case, but never really talk about how Dean feels about all that. It seems more that he’s doing football for his dad, not for the scholarship. Lay the stakes out more clearly. Also, a story where he works his rear end off and then fails regardless, and we don’t know why, isn’t a great story. There needs to be a reason he gets cut, a reason you elaborate on so that we see it. Ostensibly he’s good enough to have gotten a scholarship in the first place, at a football-intensive program, so why does his working his rear end off not pay off? I thought he was gonna be happy to be cut since he hates football so much. Anyway I really wanted to like this story but it has too many holes.



Author: CaligulaKangaroo

Film: The Dark Knight

A Few More Guys Like Batman

Movie: a rich man puts on a costume and assaults mentally ill people on the streets

Story Summary: I think this is based off the scene that like, the joker is killing people dressing up like batman. Anyway this story is from the POV of one of the knock-off vigilantes, but it’s shoe-string plot is mostly “hey remember stuff from the movie!” and weird world building.

Fav Line: “Then while we were there, the bank was robbed by a gang of evil clowns driving a school bus.”

Least fav line: “But I was passing abandoned amusement parks where Wonderland-themed kidnappers held the mayor’s daughter Alice hostage.”

Overall impression: try to avoid dialog where one character is just asking questions over and over and over and the other is answering them. It’s not fun to read and just loving REEKS of “i, the author, need this information to further my story.” Questions are fine, but mix them in with a bit of action, some side comments, some statements. The first half of the story is an OK setup, but you kind of lose it in the end and it just feels lazy, contrived, and not really any good. The conflict in the beginning you set up is that he isn’t financially stable and doesn’t have the resources to move. Then you never bring that up again. At the end of the story nothing has changed for him, so it was just a series of events that followed the movie. I was judging I would have pushed for “Busted” to lose over this story, imo. But this is still pretty bad.



Author: AlmightyDerelict

Film: Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

Hellrule: Use no dialogue or inner monologue

A Most Troubling Offer

Movie: Some small people destroy jewelry.

Story Summary: A farmer is mad that small people are eating his veggies. He goes to a bar and gets in a fight. He goes home and feeds some veggies to different small people.

Fav Line: “ The farmer scoffed and moved along without saying a word, he had little desire to speak with foreigners, except for those who bought his produce or traded for it with good beer.”

Least fav line: “A stout pony was hitched to a small wagon, and soon after the farmer departed on his journey to Bree and The Prancing Pony inn, fine fare and hot temper in tow.”

Overall impression: “The farmer gave chase after them and ran into the lane where he saw four small hobbit children running away, leaving a trail of mushrooms behind them.” these kids stole the mushrooms while the farmer and his family were working in the field? Fuckin sneaky! “A stout pony was hitched to a small wagon” adjectives like these are almost as bad as adverbs. Like when the description of the nouns really makes no difference to the story it really feels like mad libs. This could have been a brown pony to a big wagon and it’s the same amount of information. Details should be used to build your world, set the scene, and provide characterization. If it was “an underfed pony was hitched to a rusty wagon” that would tell me more about the world and this farmer. “A well-fed pony was hitched to an immaculately maintained wagon” does as well (in the opposite direction). Don’t just add adjectives for no reason. Why does this guy get mad at some kids and then head to the bar? There’s really no motivation here, it’s just like things are happening for whatever reason. Give me some insight into this guy. Is he gonna go drink away his sorrows? Sell his veggies? Hope to meet a sexy hobbit lady and have an affair? Show me WHY he leaves. Anyway, this story is just kinda filled with random events and I don’t really understand any of the motivations, what happened to make him change how he felt about the kids, and why this guy does anything he does. That’s probably why you got a well-deserved DM, tho your hell rule sucked you still poo poo the bed.



Author: cptn_dr

Film: The Princess Bride

A Drop of Roberts' Blood

Movie: a grandpa reads a sick fred savage an awesome love story

Story Summary: some pirates sit around and talk about dread pirate roberts and wonder what he’s up to, and play games and poo poo i guess.

Fav Line: “We happen to people, not the other way around.”

Least fav line: “I used to be a tonguer, d’y’know? “

Overall impression: You’re never going to be as funny and great as princess bride, so that’s a really high bar you set for yourself, and I don’t think you made it over. You didn’t fall on the ground and flop around, you kinda hit the bar with your nuts. So close. Anyway I found this story to be a bit too forced and a bit repetitive and i lost interest. It was the last story and I was bored of reading them, and this story just failed to capture my attention several times. Overall these characters don’t really have much agency or purpose, and their conversations aren’t fascinating or funny enough to stand on their own. I did like the opening and the general concept of it, but for a story like this to work, it’s gotta be great (like rosencrantz and guildenstern are dead).

crabrock fucked around with this message at 17:39 on Aug 22, 2020

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Sitting Here posted:

Contributor
Armack

Genre:
Magical realism

Protagonist attribute:
comedian

Protagonist obstructor:
the audience is comprised wholly of crickets

What the protagonist wants:
TO SLAY THE ROOM WITH COMEDY

Story setting:
On Earth, but magical realism

Setting details:
N/A

World problem:
Mass starvation

Your protagonist...
Is trying to get the thing they want, but it's difficult

Your protagonist's attribute...
Helps them gets what they want

Your protagonist's obstructor...
Hinders them from getting what they want

At the end of the story...
The world problem is no longer relevant to the protagonist

Not All is Cricket in Cricketsburg
2094 words

I step up to the microphone of the poorly-lit basement stage and adjust the height with two of my legs, use two to unscrew the cap of a bottle of water and take a sip, and adjust my tie with two others. Dust motes caught in the beam of the spotlight are all I can see. Even in here it’s hard to forget about the dust bowl.

“Go back to your web!” shouts a voice from the darkness.

I’d been told it could happen. Expected it even. The Chirping Violin is a venue notorious for heckling, but for a moment I still have to close all eight of my eyes and will myself not to cry. I take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and settle into my practiced routine. “You know how when, like you’re eating some bug, and you’re so hungry that you can’t wait so you start drinking but then realize it’s not all the way liquified? And so you’re just sitting there with this half digested morsel and everybody is looking at you like ‘what’s his deal?’ So you just kind of fake it. Like ‘Yum, this fully digested bug carcass sure is drinkable!’”

The crowd is silent. Then murmurs. The whispers grow louder until somebody starts shouting for me to kill myself.

I feel a strong grip on my thorax as security leans in and whispers in my ear: “We should get you out of here.”

I nod and let the cricket security guard lead me away. A bottle smashes into the wall where my head was only seconds before. We run backstage as more detritus is hurled our direction.

The venue is kind enough to call me a cab, though in their beady little eyes I can see the inner turmoil as they weigh the morality of just letting the crowd swarm and tear my limbs off. I exit quickly through the back.



“I’ll leave a tip on the app!” I say to the driver as I slam the door, but I never do. I take the elevator up twenty floors to the top of the luxury apartments tower. I make my way to the end of the hall and squeeze out the small window, pulling myself along a guidewire to my home suspended between two apartment complexes.

A moth struggles in my web. “Oh, you’re home. Look sir, I wasn’t gonna steal anything, honest, I just wasn’t paying attention where I was flying. I am late for an appointment and it was an accident.”

I scrabble over to him and his desperate wiggling. “Ah man, you got your moth dust all over everything.” Moths are disgusting creatures. “It’s gonna take me forever to respin this section.”

“I’m terribly sorry. I’ll make it up to you any way I can. Just please don’t eat me.”

If he was on the street we’d pass each other with a slight nod, if we acknowledged each other at all. I eat an insect on the street and they’ll give me the shoe, but up here it was perfectly legal to wrap him up for later, with web doctrine being a constitutionally protected right. I didn’t particularly like the taste of moth, but I also hadn’t eaten in a while. I could catch more dinner near the ground, but the rent was too expensive. There is a rumbling deep from my cephalothorax. “Hm. Maybe. Got any money?” I asked the moth. I can tell from his frown that he doesn’t.

“A bit, not much. Not a lot of people need a therapist when they can’t even get enough food. Hey, you got any problems? Maybe I can help. You can come in for some sessions, free of charge. Not that you got any problems, I’m sure you’re--”

“Ok.” I say, snipping the first few strands that are holding his wings. “But you gotta stop struggling.”

“Oh thank you so much, Mr. Spider,” says the moth. “I always try telling people spiders are no different from us insects, just a few more legs is all.”

I carry him over to the roof of the tower and watch as he preens his dirty, horrid wings of my web bits.

“I’m Dr. Miny,” says the moth. “But you can call me Jim. And you’re…”

“I go by Sped. That’s what the kids used to call me in school and I thought it was because I had so many legs and was really fast. It’s not, but it stuck.”

Jim the moth grimaces. “Well, I can see we’ll have lots to talk about. My office is at the corner of Hive and Mound, you’ll see the sign.”

We make arrangements and he flies away. I go to work fixing the hole in my web when a small fruit fly gets caught one section over.

“Hey, gently caress you, octowalker!” the fly screams and then laughs, totally unprovoked.

I wrap him up quickly. These little punks think it’s so funny to try and fly between the strands of my web like it’s a sport. They’ll buzz me in the morning while I’m still sleeping and laugh the whole time. They don’t even provide much sustenance, they’re made mostly of chitin and rudeness, but one fewer fruit fly in the world is worth the hassle.



I sit at the bus stop across the street from Jim’s office so that I don’t look like I’m loitering. I wait a few minutes after he arrives and goes upstairs just in case he has to rearrange some papers or check his email or something.

I squeeze into the small doorway and head to the back of the hall. His office has a low ceiling and I have to scrunch up to the receptionist. “Wow, tight fit, what is this office made for ants?”

She squirms away from me as far as she can. “Old roach motel actually, but we’ve been here for a few years,” she says, both her antennae laser locked on my every move.

I shift a little to the left, her antennae follow. A little to the right, and same. I giggle to myself. “I have an appointment with Jim?” I say, half expecting her to tell me I’ve imagined the whole thing.

“Hey, Sped!” says Jim, standing in the doorway. “Come on in!”

I follow him into his cramped office and make myself as comfortable as I can on his couch, though once I’m lying back my knees are higher than the rest of me. Us spiders don’t do so well with the traditional furniture made for six leggers. Our session begins with the cliche: me recapping on how my dad was never around when I was a hatchling, mostly on account of my mom ate him shortly after courtship, and how she looked me straight in the eyes and said “I’ll be right behind you” as she helped me unfurl my web parachute. I got caught in a jet stream and been trapped in Cricketsburg ever since.

“Why comedy?” Jim asks after the boilerplate stuff.

“I thought if I could make people laugh, maybe they wouldn’t be so scared of me.”

Jim mmmhmmed and jotted some notes on his pad. “Why not something more suited to your strengths. I know a tarantula who makes a fortune hauling things between construction sites. Even owns a nice house in the hills; everybody loves that guy.”

I look at my scrawny, spindly legs. “I’m not exactly working with tarantula-calibur equipment here, doc. My species are good at two things: spinning webs and waiting patiently. Sometimes I’ll spend three days just waiting for a meal. Gives me a lot of time to think.”

“And a lot of time to worry.”

I rub my pedipalp together. “I guess.”

“Worry that others won’t like you.”

“I know they don’t like me. I don’t even blame them. It was better when they’d throw me a prisoner every now and then, but lately everybody looks at me like I’m going to eat their kid right there in front of them.”

Jim looked up from his notepad. “Why do you need them to like you?”

I never thought about it before. “I guess I just want them to know I’m not a bad guy.”

“Who are you trying to convince? Them, or yourself?”

I sit and think for a while. “Is this going to help me with my comedy?”

Jim stands up and fetches a case out of his bag. “I was thinking of your situation, and it reminded me of this old comedy group that used to be pretty big back in the day.” He puts a tape into the player and presses play. Grainy black-and-white footage of three Antlions bumping into each other and breaking things in their apartment plays at a slightly faster-than-life clip.

I watch the silent action for a while, and realize I’m smiling.

“Funny, right? A little dated, but people used to love this stuff.”

I hop up excitedly and hit my head on the low ceiling. “And nobody likes antlions, not even spiders!”

“Well they had no problem finding friends in Cricketsburg. Unfortunately, they ate too much, grew too fast… and the world has been a little less funny since.”

“I think I know what I need to do.”

Jim laughs. “Whatever it is, it probably beats talking about eating bugs.”



I convince management at The Chirping Violin to give me another chance. I’m pretty sure they’re secretly hoping for a repeat of my previous performance; security is noticeably more lax than last time; the hungry eyes of the crowd a little more desperate.

“I hope that stupid moth know what he’s talking about,” I whisper to myself.

I step out from the curtain and reach out to take the mic stand, but trip over my own legs. I crash hard into the stool, sending the water set out for me straight into my face. Dripping wet, I attempt to stand and slip in the puddle. My eyes closed, I wait for the swarm.

The crowd roars with laughter.

I open my eyes to the cheers of little crickets sitting in the front row who paid a nickel just to be distracted for a little while. Waving to my new fans, I stand back up and hit my head on a low-hanging stage light, causing me to spin and slam against a wall. I let web spray from my spinnerets and I stumble into the mess on the floor. The sticky web catches my feet and I fall again. I grab onto the curtain to pull myself up, but pull the entire contraption and half of the rigging down on top of me. “Meep!” I scream. “Somebody call an ambulance!”

It’s not high brow, but it gets the job done. I peak out from beneath the curtain to see the crowd clapping and chanting for more. I burst from the pile of debris and bow a little too far forward…



I sign the last document and the real estate agent puts the documents back in her folder and smiles up at me. “All yours now, congratulations.”

“Thanks,” I say, eyeing the four steel poles that box in my plot of land. “This is going to be great.”

The real estate agent smiles and looks at the ground. “Um, I hope you don’t my asking, but my daughter is a really big fan. I was wondering…”

“Not a problem!” I say, and sign the pad she holds out to me.

She beams as she bounces back down the hill and I stretch out in my new yard covered with green grass and the slightest wetness of dew. The tree branch that hangs over the neighborhood provides a cool respite from the sun.

My neighbor comes to the edge of his web and waves. “Howdy! Welcome to the neighborhood! You gonna build a cable runway web or you thinking center-rail?”

“Hadn’t really considered it yet.”

“Well, make sure it’s strong, cause when the sprinklers turn on in the morning the mud slides scare a whole mess of crickets right this way and on a good day you get about three of four. Don’t want them tearing it down with their thrashing.”

“Great tip, I appreciate it.”

“It’s just nice to have some more good people in the neighborhood.” The neighbor heads back toward the middle of their web where a half-paralyzed cricket youngling listlessly struggles.

I smile and begin constructing my new web, eager for the morning’s harvest.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


In

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


this crit is for Andrew Niccol who took my prompt and made a pretty good movie from it. great job, thanks, i enjoyed watching it.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


here are some week 420 crits. Since this was a pretty long week, and stories submitted later in the cycle usually get less attention from the judges due to reading exhaustion, I am critting this week backwards so you get a fresh pair of eyes. I didn’t read the prompts until AFTER I read the story, so I wasn’t on the lookout for the tiniest mentions of your prompt. If you just kinda shoehorned in some of the ideas in a line or two there’s a good chance I missed them.

34. cptn_dr

So this dude leaves his dome and goes to a western town and everybody is just chilling, hoping to catch one of these “bridges” to their own private island where they just masturbate for the rest of time or whatever? Not really sure. Anyway it sucks and the selection process is mostly luck. You just stand out in the water and wait for it to happen. Anyway he goes out there and gets shot by some lady and then he gets abducted by a UFO or whatever.

Honestly I’m kinda into the plot idea of some sci-fi wormhole to your own homestead island, but almost everything else here is a waste of time. This needs a ton of editing, feels very first draft, and doesn’t really seem like even you know all the answers. If you do, they were much to subtle for my idiot brain to understand what you were going for. Also i feel like the undertaker part was shoehorned in and some weird animals they see aren’t really needy pets.

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33. Anomalous Blowout

This is decent but heart breaking. I was a little lost on Mercy’s motivations for bailing because her family got to go to the pocked side. I’m not 100% sure why she would get mad about the “it’s stupid?” thing, I thought she was trying to leave her family in the first place. Or maybe she didn’t have a choice? Or maybe since it’s second person and i don’t know? Anyway that’s the only glaring hole here for me in an otherwise nice slice-of-future-life story.

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32. Schneider Heim

The main problem with this story is you’ve shoved about 5 short stories worth of content into one. Each of these sections could probably be their own story, and as such you barely have time to really explore anything and all the conversations are short and to the point, such that they feel way too artificial and agreeable to be believable. Everything just works out pretty much and the only snag (the defeat of the king) is almost instantly solved. This feels more like the synopsis of a book than a proper story. Unfortunately that makes it hard to be invested or immersed in the world, because every time I’m like “ok!” I’m instantly whipped to a new scene where everything has been taken care of. Her lying didn’t feel pathological, just self-interested and a little anxious. I didn’t even register it as “lying” so much as “concealing the truth” and I didn’t feel it was getting in the way at all. She did what she said she’d do and overall seemed to be pretty trustworthy.

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31. curlingiron

You joke that you wrote a poo poo story but actually this is pretty good and kept my attention all the way through. I feel like you managed to capture two sides of the argument pretty well. The elitist / shitposting in the original few messages was a little over the top, and could be dialed back a bit without losing the effect. I thought that you handled the brawl pretty well, i knew what the outcome was without you having to explicitly tell me what happened. Overall there was a lot “off screen” in this story that is pulling a ton of weight, but it’s very believable and interesting. I could feel there were a ton of other messages i wasn’t privy to, and i liked that. Overall this is pretty sweet though my brain interpreted their relationship as friendship and not romance. i like it despite it being literally a bunch of messages on a forum from harry potter fanfics, which when i started reading i was like “nooooo fuuuuuuck”.

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29. Bird Tyrant

This feels a little too unrealistic and straddles the line of “satire” or “earnest concern.” The best parts of this are the middle during her exhaustion breakdown, and that’s the real horror in the story. Just working yourself to the bone, and this lady is actually going FURTHER into debt for the privilege of doing so. The uncle coming in and chopping off her legs is really sudden and is a bit of a deus ex machina since it’s not really her actions or traits that lead to the climactic scene in the story, and it all happens off screen. I feel like maybe this would work better as a first person story, and cut out most of the beginning and just give me a window into how hard she’s working, how tired she is, and how she eventually gets to the breaking point of allowing her legs to be cut off.

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28. Thranguy

Something’s off about this piece and I can’t quite put my finger on it. You mention England and what not several times, but I never could picture it being England. Felt too American, too casual, too “default.” You don’t really describe hardly any of the settings that would help me feel like this was happening in old timey England. Because we’re dealing with ghosts, I didn’t know how long they’d been dead, so I wasn’t sure of the time until more the end. Either way though, I never really care about your main character very much, and I kinda feel like maybe you didn’t either? He seems pretty boring, just your run of the mill scum bag. I didn’t realize he was a con man, what was his con? Making ghosts come back? I liked the part about bangin ghosts tho. The other milquetoast caper stuff not so much.

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27. Applewhite

I was gonna say it’s pretty hosed up that dinosaurs keep other dinosaurs as pets, but I guess we keep other mammals as pets so it was us who was the monsters all along. I like this story. I was getting a little bored in the middle because i was like “yeah yeah yeah he’s gonna go to the other side or get his dead wife back, get on with it,” but the turn was great and at the perfect time, I almost started skimming and was willing myself not to. However, I don’t feel you quite stuck the landing. It feels a bit too telly and a bit too on-the-nose. The silly dino names are definitely distracting, when i look at a lizard now i don’t think “he’s a real zeeblorg.” the “somebody explaining the story’s conclusion to a classroom of children” trope is a bit boring. I feel like you could have gone with the mirror of hank, who is the dino-electrician who was working on sending him the messages? Was the ghost of his wife real or just some projection made by dinosaur scientists to trick him? Anyway, reading this was fun and i’m glad that the dinosaurs won.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Kaishai posted:

Thunderdome Week XL: Poor Richard's Thundervision

Submission deadline: Sunday, May 12, 2013, 11:59pm USA Eastern.

Maximum word count: 1,300.

crabrock (Georgia; If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing)

A little bit late

Queen of the Mist
1086 words

I never loved my husband for his money until he died. When he was alive and gainfully employed, we ate Oysters Rockefeller, I had a closet of fancy hats, and once we even traveled out to St. Louis by rail to see the bison. We had a child too, but every sunny blue sky turns to rain clouds eventually.

A can of beans lasts for two meals if you aren’t very active. I’ve been selling our old life piecemeal to pay the bills; each room had several spots where our belongings had lived, but were now just gaps of pristine wallpaper: unscuffed and not sun bleached. Sears & Roebuck has generously agreed to take back the gramophone my husband had purchased as an anniversary gift. Wanting to listen to a record one last time, I pull out A Bird in a Gilded Cage from the bottom of the now-empty blanket chest. Inside was an insert—an advertisement in muted color—for Niagara Falls.

“It does look majestic,” I’d said to him. “Maybe we could go.”

I put the record on and the soothing vocals of Harry Anthony filled the room, echoing off the bare spots where furniture had been.

He’d laughed and kissed me on my forehead. “Whenever you’d like,” he’d said.

Well he’d lied, because I wanted to go now, only we couldn’t. A tear rolls down my cheek as I listened to the story of a girl who’d married for money instead of love. Perhaps it’s the music, or the machinations of a bean-addled mind, but plans form. Crazy plans. Impossible plans. I would go to Niagara falls. Whenever. Just not together.

I sit back down on my lucky heart-shaped pillow and scan around the room at the few remaining items that I haven’t sold. Of them, most are those I wanted to hold onto the longest, the ones I couldn’t yet bear to let go. But a rumbling stomach is great at killing sentimentality, and there’s not much left. Then my eyes fall on the chiffarobe we’d inherited from his mother. Despite its overbearing presence, I’d almost forgotten about it. The only reason it was still in the house is that it was ugly as original sin, and I would probably have to pay for them to drag it to the dump by carriage.

The chifforobe was solid oak though. I walked out back to David’s shed and picked up his axe.

***

Niagara falls is noticeably less impressive just a quarter mile upriver. There are no tourists or gawkers, just a gentle river flowing through verdant meadows. I ensure the rope to my barrel is tied securely to a tree then push it into the river. It splashes and bobs, but quickly settles right-side up.

I open my picnic basket and remove the alley cat I’d trapped. “It’s ok, you’re just going for a little ride.” I gently lower the cat into the barrel and get a scratch on my wrist for my efforts. I should have just thrown it in.

I latch the barrel from the outside and unmoor it from the shore. The river is slow, and I’m able to outpace the barrel and quickly walk along the banks until I reach the edge of the falls. I start screaming to anybody who will listen about a baby in a barrel. Word spreads fast, and by the time the barrel is visible, picking up speed as it heads towards the falls, quite a crowd has gathered against the handrails, gasping and pointing at my lie.

The barrel plunges over the edge and disappears into the mist.

The crowd flows down the hill around me, bubbling loudly as we arrive at the barrel being pulled to shore by two policemen.

I push my way to the front of the crowd as they pry off the top with an iron crow.

“My baby!” I cry. “Save my baby!” Nobody asks how a baby would have ended up in a barrel, and I’m not inclined to offer any explanation.

By the time the top is off I’m at the barrel, and I climb up onto an overturned fruit crate and peer in. The cat jumps at my face with a nasty scowl, and I narrowly avoid getting a matching gash on my face.

The cat tears off into the bushes.

“My baby kitty, she’s alive!”

The crowd groans and a few people peel off, unhappy that they didn’t get to see a mangled child. The coppers fetch the cat out of the bushes and bring it back. I take it from them and hold it in my arms.

She’s bleeding a little bit from her tumble, but otherwise in good health. I walk to the other side of the barrel where I’d painted my logo. I place the kitten on top of the barrel and hold out my hands.

“Behold, Your Queen of the Mist!” I hold my arms outstretched. “In two days time, I shall myself attempt to survive the barrel plunge over Horseshoe Falls, being the first woman in history to survive such a feat!” A flashbulb goes off.

***

I recruited new friends with the promise of a share of the riches. They locked me in and pumped the barrel full of air. I think they’re saying something to me, but I can’t hear anything but mumbles. I’m not even sure when the barrel is set free down the river, but it must have already happened, because I haven’t heard mumbling in some time.

In the two days since I sent the cat over the falls, I’d sold the remaining items and returned the house keys to the bank.

All that’s left now is this heart-shaped pillow and my future. I sit in the dark silence, bobbing, waiting.

I think about the things they’d write, the memoirs of the first woman to survive the trip. Something daring. Something special. Something unique. As if the weeks leading up to this moment weren’t harder. Only I hadn’t chosen to take that plunge.

This time would be different. I feel the lurch of the barrel picking up speed. This time I wouldn’t be so foolish. The barrel creeks as it spins in the swells. This time I wouldn’t let a smooth talking boy from Auburn woo me on love alone. I brace against the inside as the world seems to fall out from under me. I’d shine a thousand lights with riches at my command. This time, I was in it for the money.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


more week 420 crits, still working backwards but skipping around for REASONS.

26. The Saddest Rhino

I mean, I feel like your title pretty much sums up this one. I liked the “lick-your-own-adventure” and the part where he pooped a lot. I would not like to read more.

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25. Antivehicular

Took me too long to understand roughnecks were aliens. Not sure really what the relationship between humans and aliens are. Does he live on their homeworld or something? Is this some sort of mutual planet? He says “their” cities, so I’m feeling lost on who is who and what is what. Unfortunately that really takes away from my enjoyment of this story, since i’m so confused on what the setting is, and what is happening. Then the dad just tells me a bunch of things that happened in the past and it’s not really exciting or interesting for him to recount a few details like that. His interactions with the aliens are likewise just kinda meh and his death doesn’t feel satisfying or sad it’s just “um, ok.” this story would do better probably seeing some direct action. A conflict with Tammy, him getting the letter, or him hearing she’d died. That would allow for more emotional appeal. The aliens seem comically stereotypical in a story that doesn’t seem like they’re supposed to be?

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24. Obliterati

This story man, I dunno. I kinda got that it was maybe some like, dude that was abandoned on the moon base and then decided to declare himself king or whatever, and there’s some AI thing that’s in his head or maybe he’s just nuts? But anyway also there’s some alien cloud that’s hosed up earth and the crazy guy finds out he can gently caress it up by launching giant chunks through it, but also maybe loving up the Earth beyond?

Maybe there’s enough clues there for me to sort it out, but honestly it was a little bit of a struggle to read through this, and I don’t want to figure it out. Reading your prompt, i see where you got some of it, but i never felt that there were alternate dimensions or cells disintegrating. Maybe you stuck that in there somewhere but it wasn’t enough for me to remember.

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22. CaligulaKangaroo

How does something linger below the atmosphere… it goes all the way to the ground. World building paragraph no no. tsk tsk. I have absolutely no idea what this light gun is doing loading files “it’s just light” well um ok. Brb gonna load up butts.txt in a bitcoin wallet cause “it’s just 1s and 0s.” “Sarris confidently strides” tsk tsk again man. When you find yourself using an adverb, think to yourself “does this adverb change the way somebody would normall interpret this verb, or am I using it instead of illustrating something?” Striding is pretty confident, generally, the definition is “decisive steps.” instead, have him stride into the bunker and say/do something that gives us just a sentence more of characterization. Those sentences really build up throughout a story, and you should be taking the opportunity when you can. “without a second thought” ok you’ve told me he’s decisive twice in the same sentence. Then, the VERY NEXT sentence they “carefully make their downtown.” which A) I think that’s a typo, and B) what was the point of all the confidence only to then be careful? Whiplash. “Sarris takes a single look back.” GAH now you just undid the “without a second thought.” make up your mind! If you want to have him second guessing himself A) don’t say “HE’S DEFINITELY NOT SECOND GUESSING HIMSELF. JK HE IS” and B) show me this. Show me him stride into the bunker, slam the door shut, then start down the stairs only to slow to a stop and slowly turn around, taking a long look at the door. These random paragraphs of world building are pretty boring. Stuff like this would be better to see in action. Like start your story with this whole attack / escape and then pick up where your current story starts. I have no idea what the relationship between Sarris and Mr. NewJersey is… i thought sarris was a hired mercenary, but then he says he hired NJ? “if anything, the commands from a man a foot shorter with half his body mass were absurd” head jumping. If your POV character is Sarris, don’t tell me how trenton feels. Instead, show me the indignation and then tell me how Sarris feels about being so obviously not respected. ““Alright. But maybe next time hire two bodyguards.”

[size=109]“Maybe think about lowering your price.” see I like this, this tells me a lot with a few words. Do more like this. “From his cover, he sees Sarris fire wildly from the open. In Sarris’s mind, he’s sharp. “ who what now? Who is he? “Memories of his” WHOSE? The orb is the last thing you talked about. Is the orb a dude having these memories? If not, tell me whose, and don’t mix the actions of something with the thoughts of somebody else. “Trenton grabs his arm,” what you’ve written here is that trenton is grabbing his own arm. “As Sarris becomes conscious” if you’re gonna have somebody lose consciousness, at least have a paragraph break and some sort of notice that that has happened, this was very jarring. Anyway I really don’t want to read this anymore so I’m moving on. Looking up to your prompt, looks like you nailed all of it...but forgot that the prompt is the thing that should inspire you to tell a good story.[/size]

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18. Nethilia

This opening paragraph has some good words and then way too much information. I’m not 100% sure what the age difference between Sue and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay is. “ the fact she only had one eye gave more doubts.” haha that might have been nice to know earlier. “closed one eye to aim anyways, it wasn’t in the way no how” people are eye dominant like they are hand dominant. It could matter which eye. Just a fyi. Cut the whole bandit scene imo. The first time she fires the gun should be at her ex. I trusted you she was a good shot (or show it earlier with some cans or something). Ending is too on the nose. It’s her telling him things we already know. Get rid of that. Shorten the prologue backstory. I didn’t buy the relationship between luiz and her. She never seemed receptive. You could do with some more illustration of her reluctance to be with a man again. Delve into the fear she has. Show her rejecting him a bit more, then looking at him or whatever. Make me buy it. There’s a good story here hiding in the chaff. Nailed the prompt.

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17. Chopstick Dystopia

If you’re gonna have a witty title you better earn it. “Hahahahahaha!” ugh don’t write like it’s an internet chat. I hope this is a noir prompt or something cause ugh. “Parts scream silently when touched” unf. “She looks at my penis - probably involuntary - then the blood and bile on the floor, then my face, then my penis again - that second time she might have been checking me out.” yeah do more of this. I’m up to the game going south while they’re in the bar and tbh i’m not seeing why this lost. It’s pretty decent so far, besides the rough start. You must really poo poo the bed here bub. “He’s fat and Asian” this is the second time you’ve mentioned “asian” and since your character doesn’t seem outwardly racist that ends up leaking back to you. Make sure that if you’re going to be a dick, that it’s your character being a dick and that we don’t for a second doubt that it’s his racism, not jarring out of nowhere like “errrrr.” third “pierce the veil” and i have no idea what that means. “A demon.” I say. Oh. this is where you poo poo the bed.“Theoretical Fringe Reconnaissance,” the Captain says. “TFR,” I say. Hey that’s the name of the show!

Yeah ok this was pretty bad at the end but honestly i woulda pushed for CaligulaKangaroo to get the loss over this. There was the middle stretch which I was into. It’s just a pretty good sandwich on poo poo bread. You let the prompt dictate the story too much, then went and took a probable typo and decided to do it literally, so hard you needed to point it out IN the story. Ouch. also, you didn’t earn your definition of terminal velocity title imo.

crabrock fucked around with this message at 02:12 on Aug 30, 2020

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002



Extra Good News
1027 words

The entire room was silent save the humming of computers and the buzzing comms that played over mission control’s speakers. Engineers, technicians, even the janitors all waited to hear Neil Armstrong’s first words upon setting foot on the moon.

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

“We can hear you Commander Armstrong. Go ahead. Make history,” said CAPCOM Charles Duke.

“That’s one small step for a man, and… well that’s strange.”

The mission commander grabbed the microphone, brought it closer to his face and whispered. “What is it?”

“Well sir. There are frogs.”

“Frogs? On the moon?”

“Yessir, Frogs on the moon.”

“Space frogs?”

“No, just regular frogs. Hopping around and everything. Come down real slow, it’s quite the sight.”

“How are they breathing?”

“Don’t know, sir. Just thousands of these little guys. Careful Buzz, don’t step on one.”

“Commander Armstrong, the scientists down here are scribbling in their notebooks. Are you sure you don’t have some sort of space madness?”

“Yeah, we both see them. Heck one has just landed on Buzz’s boot. Hey there little guy.”

The comms chirped and a new voice joined in. “Uh Houston, this is Captain Michael Collins, did I hear them say there are frogs on the moon?”

Charles gritted his teeth. “Um… indeed Captain Collins, that is what you heard.” He rubbed his eyes. “I am so sorry.”

“This is bullshit, you know how I feel about frogs. I was sad when you told me I wouldn’t be stepping foot on the moon. Felt a bit cheated, to be honest, but now you’re telling me that it’s filled with frogs? This is some grade A horseshit.”

“Sir, Neil again, the frogs seem to be aware of our presence. They are all hopping toward us. Gotta be millions of them. They seem to have a purpose.”

“Commander, if you’re in danger you need to get out of there.”

“No… I don’t think we are. They look happy. Welcoming. They are curious. Buzz has got like, at least 50 frogs on him now. They’re just looking up at him, licking at his suit with their little pink tongues.”

“Guys I just want to reiterate that this is complete bullshit, I should be the one down there meeting these frogs, and I plan to file a formal complaint when I get back.”

“Apologies again, Captain, but none of our calculations indicated the presence of frogs on the moon. I’m looking at the scientists right now. They’re shrugging. Nobody knows.”

“Houston, the frogs… many of them are hopping away in a line. I think they want us to go with them. We are following. It’s slow, being careful not to step on any frogs, but they trust us.”

“Please be careful, Commander.”

“I don’t feel afraid. I feel an inner peace, like they are beaming happy thoughts straight into my mind or something. I can’t describe the feeling. It’s like expecting bad news and somebody tells you ‘Well I have good news and… extra good news.’”

“Ok boys, I think that if I destabilize the orbit of the command module I can crash land in your general vicinity.”

“Um, Captain, please be advised that intentionally crashing the command module is not recommended at this time.”

“We are just over the ridge of a large crater now, and… my god, it’s full of frogs. The whole crater is just a sort of frog city. They have little skyscrapers that come up to my chin, little roads and little frog trains. It all looks made out of moon dust. They’re leading us around the city to a clearing. There’s some sort of rock there. I think they want us to examine it.”

Charles picked at his fingernails. “Well, is it some sort of gemstone? A data cache?”

“Awwwwww, it’s a carving of us. Of me and Buzz. Look at their little frog artisans go. My, they work fast. Wow, it really looks like you, Buzz.”

“I should be able to carry enough spare oxygen to survive jumping out of the command module. If I time it correctly, I think I can meet up with you guys down there. I have a gift for the frogs, it’s made of solid gold. It’s my wedding band. I hope they will accept my meager offering.”

“Again, Captain, please be advised that exiting the command module is not mission protocol, no matter how much spare oxygen you have.”

“I feel connected to the universe, to our place in it, and to every creature on Earth as I’ve never felt before. The frogs have given me a perspective on life, and I can’t explain it, but I understand the meaning of life. Buzz is nodding. There’s a tear rolling down his cheek he is so overcome with gratitude. Oh man, I’m crying too. It’s so beautiful.”

“Yeah, so I’m calculating I’m going to hit the ground at about 60 meters a second from this height, so I’m going to need one of you to break my fall. You may not survive.”

“Captain Collins, please do not crush any of your fellow astronauts to death. We advise that you remain inside the capsule to prepare the redocking of the lunar lander.”

“Houston, a small piece of the crater floor has opened and a small object is currently being lifted toward the surface. It looks like a statue. It is, it’s a tiny statue, of a man. The man is being hugged by a hundred frogs. Is it… Buzz, is that Michael? The entire frog city is doing a little dance now around the frog statue. I somehow understand every movement. They thank you, Michael. They thank you from the bottom of their little frog hearts for the sacrifice you have made. Oh god, I can’t stop crying, it is so pure and sweet.”

“Houston, this is Captain Collins. Requesting permission to bawl my eyes out.”

“Permission granted.”

“They are carrying us now, Buzz and I and the sculptures, back to the lander. We are coming home and bringing with us a message of love, peace, and understanding. This has been one giant leap for man—and frog—kind.”

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Week 44 redemption

ChairChucker posted:

Old Testament Studies with Chairchucker.

Hello Thunderdome. An observation I've made over some past 'domes, is that 'domers love them some Biblically inspired prose sometimes, but they seem to be stuck on the New Testament. Which is a shame because frankly the Old Testament has some way cool stories of people getting invaded and cut into small pieces or whatever. So this week, we're going to be plagiarising getting inspiration from the part of the Bible that Jews also think is cool.

Just inspiration though. No Biblical characters allowed in any of your stories.

And to make doubly sure, genre is 'sci-fi'. (The broad definition that says if it has any futuristic crap in it, it counts as sci-fi.) And if you try to write Christ figure in space, God help you.

[...]

crabrock - Numbers 21:4-9


A bunch of misogynists and racists could technically nominate this for a Hugo award
1192 words

The wanderers’ ship dropped out of warp speed to conclude it’s seven-year voyage across the Crimson Nebula. However, the planet they’d been promised, the reason they’d fought their way to freedom, was not there.

The people gathered at the windows of the mess hall and looked out into the empty space where their home world should have been. A cork popped on a bottle of champagne and echoed off the metal walls until it faded away into the silence.

“Weren’t we promised a planet?”

“We were scrumped.”

“I curse the name of Supreme Leader Goddo because he promised us he would lead us to the promised planet but we just got here and there’s no planet and I’m sick of being on this tin can filled with farts, where the only filters to scrub the fart smell from the air are our noses, and they have been filled with so much fart that our noses are now brown, from sniffing all the farts, which are made up of tiny poop molecules so that every time we breath in a little bit of fart, we get a little microscopic amount of poop on our noses, and no matter how much we begged people to stop farting, they kept farting, even after the passing of the anti-farting rules of year three of our voyage, people kept farting, sometimes flagrantly in defiance of the fart rules, or sometimes secretly, and I will admit that sometimes at night, when I was alone in my cabin and trying to fall asleep, trying to distract myself from the smell of farts long enough to drift off to sleep (even though often I swear I could still smell the farts in my dreams, a place I should have been able to fantasize about smelling a freshly baked apple pie or the perfume of my dead wife, but instead even in my unconsciousness I could never escape the smell of fart) I would let a little fart out, thus compounding the problem, but my tummy just hurt so bad from holding in years of farts, and it wasn’t getting better, in fact it was getting worse, and not just our noses were turning brown, but the entire interior of the space ship was turning brown, like the color of an Cadillac that had been owned by a chain-smoking grandma and I heard that every atom in your body is replaced every seven years so now I’m afraid that I’m more fart than man, so I lay up at night just afraid of what I’ve become, and sometimes a little toot slips out and all I think is ‘man, gently caress Supreme Leader Goddo’ for trapping me with all these farts and making me turn myself into nothing but a walking fart that also sometimes farts a little bit.”

“Same.”

“Yeah I have to admit I also let out a fart sometimes even though I’m not supposed to. And not just in bed, but like just walking down a hallway alone and I don’t see anybody else I’ll let one out. Hey, is that a snake?”

“There can’t be snakes on a spaceship.”

“But there is. Look, there’s another.”

“Oh yeah there are a lot of snakes on this spaceship now.”

“Fools! It is me, Supreme Leader Goddo! I was listening to the whole thing about the farts, and I wasn’t even really mad until the end, even though I agree you all are mostly fart now, for I can see straight into your souls and they’re mostly poop, but then you said ‘gently caress Supreme Leader Goddo,” which made me pretty angry and a little sad, so I have summoned all these snakes to punish you, the dirty fart people and this isn’t like, a metaphor or allegory or anything like that, just the group of people on this spaceship at this moment are the fart people, not like, their descendants or ancestors, this isn’t a race thing, I’m allowed to be angry at one group of people who has cursed me, and I’m entitled to summon snakes onto their plane, snakes that don’t mind the taste of poop because sorry snakes when you bite these people you’re going to get just a big mouthful of poop flavor because they couldn’t be patient and wait for the planet to finish orbiting the star and yeah just come on guys you got a spaceship yet you just get to a star system and don’t immediately see a planet so you start cursing my name, even though you’ve literally just seen me destroy a whole civilization with space locusts and spooky space ghosts and then you’re like ‘yeah lets yell at that guy what could go wrong’ and now you got a face full of loving snakes and the whole time the planet was just in a slightly different position than you thought, really its sad.”

“Oh jeeze these snakes are really bitey!”

“They do not seem to mind the taste of farts at all!”

“I’m dying knowing I’ve been killed by a snake with no standards!”

“Ok guys, this is the captain here, the captain of the spaceship that has been flying it for seven years up in the cockpit that has functioning air filters still and the only farts I’ve smelled are my own, and the fart scrubbers have kept the air nice and clean so I’m not perfused with fart and so my brain is maybe working a little better than y’alls, though I am awfully lonely and was really looking forward to setting foot on the planet and interacting with everybody again, but then you y’all went and cursed Supreme Leader Goddo and now there are snake, and I was thinking probably what we should do to save ourselves from snake bites is build a big golden snake and then just stare at it because I feel like this is the sort of thing Supreme Leader Goddo would be into, being a slightly odd fellow, but still magnificent of course, so I suggest we just start gathering shiny metal and just melting it all down into a big beautiful statue for us to look at and probably the snakes will go away after that, not from any sort of concentrated effort to hunt the snakes or apologize to the Supreme Leader or anything, just looking at a snake made out of melted belt buckles and bolts and poo poo.”

The Supreme Leader Goddo nodded his head. “Yes, that sort of thing would please me, and I would unsummon the snakes.”

So the wanderers on the spaceship gathered all their metal and melted it down and made a snake sculpture, and then the people who were not yet killed by snake bite looked at the golden snake they’d made and the Supreme Leader thought that was pretty good and all the snakes disappeared (but all the dead people were still dead).

The pilot set a course to rendezvous with the planet where he could finally open the doors and clear out the horrible fart smell from his precious space ship.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


in, receiver

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Rule: Receiving Seed, Desire to Bond



Zero Stars
995 words

If a kid hurts animals, they say he will grow up to be a serial killer. I reach my trembling hand toward my third puppy in as many weeks and, like the others, it sinks its teeth into my flesh. Nobody can tell me what you grow up to be when it's the other way around.

I have a scar under my eye from “the sweetest kitten,” a short index finger from a faster-than-you’d-expect turtle, and a nick out of my lip from a particularly rude bird.

My mom says it’s because animals can see my true soul, then reminds me that once an animal bites it has to be put down.

She makes me do it.

Stealing her credit card is easy, waiting for my first shipment of Buddy Seeds is harder. I watch dozens of videos online of people hugging their newly grown mystery pet. They never get bit.

When the Buddy Seeds arrive I have to dig the hole with my left hand, since my right is still wrapped in gauze. After I finish, I peel the bandage and squeeze my scabbed fist over the watering can; the instructions say I only need to add a single drop of my blood to bind the animal to me. I soak the ground with the blood-tainted water.

After a night of restlessness I’m up at sunrise, waiting next to the pile of soil with a warm blanket. The creature that crawls from the ground has fins protruding from a cracked shell. It looks up at me with pleading eyes.

I wrap it in the blanket. “Hello little guy! What are you? Some kind of sea turtle?”

It blinks twice, vomits my own blood back up at me, and dies.

I dig another hole. I add two drops of my blood to the watering can and take care not to drown the new seed.

The next morning, a two-headed snake slithers out of the dry dirt and coughs. I hold it as it wretches so violently that it expels all of its organs through three orifices and twitches for the final time.

I dig another hole and drop in the last seed then cover it and beat the dirt with the flat end of my shovel until I am gasping for air. The water in the can swirls sanguine as I clench my fist and force out drop after drop. I half hope that whatever demon spawns underneath doesn’t have the strength to crawl out, so I don’t have to watch another of my inevitable failures.

The next morning I stay in bed. There aren’t any clean blankets left to throw in the dryer, and a warm swaddle probably isn’t much comfort to a dying animal anyway. I don’t have to drag myself out into the cold at dawn just to be disappointed, I can do that from the comfort of my soft quilt.

My mom throws open my door and glares at me. “Why are you still in bed? You know if you wanna eat you gotta finish your chores.”

“Yes’m,” I say.

“Well I’d think you’d be more hungry with that gimp hand slowing you down these last few days.”

I tuck my hand under the blanket lest her vile gaze creates an infection. “I’ll get them finished today.”

“Whatever, not my problem” she says, and slams the door. I wait until I hear her car drive away before I reach underneath my mattress and take out the coat hanger. I sneak through the empty house to the padlocked fridge and pull the door open as far as it will go. It’s not far enough to trigger the light, but the gap is enough for anything I knock loose to fall through. I jiggle the coat hanger in the dark until I feel it catch, and I pull.

A single carrot falls onto the floor, and I grab it and gnaw it down to the leafy green top without taking the time to taste it. I close the fridge and lean back against the cabinet, clenching my grumbling tummy. If I take anymore, she’ll notice. I’d rather be bit by a hundred dogs than have my mom find out I’ve been stealing her food again.

Flies buzz around my head from the rotting remains on the dishes above me. I used to lick the plates clean until she started squirting soap on them. Getting sick from that was worse than being hungry. I’m about to get up and wash the dishes when I hear crying. Not whimpers, but bawling. I tiptoe to the back door and peer out at the yard and see a naked baby writhing in the dirt.

I slowly walk over to it and pick it up. I rock it in my arms and it stops crying. It doesn’t have acid leaking from its eyes or puss-dripping lesions or anything. It’s just a normal, healthy baby. He looks up at me and smiles. Smiles back at me with my own smile. A perfect doppelganger. A good-for-nothing idiot, a life-ruining burden. Another mouth to feed.

I stare into its twinkling eyes and I get why animals bite me. I can see his soul, and it is ugly, worthless. My heart pounds with rage as the filthy wretch reaches its little hand up toward my face.

I bite it in the neck. I bite down hard and I don’t let go, driving my teeth through tendons until its slippery blood coats the back of my tongue. I growl and rip at its throat like a rabid fox. I don’t know where it’s crying stops and mine starts, but I keep shaking my head until it is limp in my hands.

I bury it next to the dozens of other little crosses in the backyard. I don’t know what you grow up to be when you’re as unlovable as me, but at least I can spare something else from having to find out.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


in, flash plz

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Somewhere on the the 70
1125 words

There are only three rules to our annual Tau Kappa Epsilon retreat: you have to start with your feet in an ocean for the starting conference call, you can only travel by personal vehicle, and the last to arrive has to drink one of the cans of Natty Ice stashed in the cabin attic. Vintage 1997. I’d lost once, due to a freak snowstorm in the rockies that forced me to find a hotel in Denver for three days. I still have nightmares about that beer, and I will not lose again.

I start planning my trip weeks in advance. Timing each leg of the journey to the hour. When to hit the cities, when to fill up the tank, and when to stop and grab a bite. This year I have a secret weapon.

“No,” says my secret weapon. “I’m not driving with you to Oklahoma so you can use the carpool lane.” My sister rolls her eyes and goes back to swiping on her phone. She sits in the chair at an impossible angle, something only somebody that lacks a fear of death can pull off.

I take out my wallet. “I’ll pay you five hundred dollars. You can get like, a hundred more stupid tattoos.”

Sarah sticks her tongue out at me. “It’s going to take at least three days each way and that’s less than I’d earn working and sleeping in my own bed. Ask Molly, she’s stupid and poor.”

“You know I’m sure as hell not going to spend a week in the car with loving Molly.” I rub my temples at just the thought. “Jesus, how much does waitressing pay these days?”

“I make good tips.”

“Yet you still live with mom and dad. Fine, a thousand, and we’ll stop at that stupid dog-shaped hotel you keep tweeting about.”

She sits up in her seat. “Dog Bark Park?”

“I don’t know what it’s called.”

“It’s called Dog Bark Park.”

“Ok.”

She hops out of her chair and pulls it up on her phone. “See?”

“I don’t care, Sarah, I just want to know if you’re in?”

“You can sleep in his belly and climb up into the reading nook in his nose!” She squeals as she looks through the online photos.

“Is that a yes?”

“Two nights.”

“Huh?”

“I want to stay there two nights. You pay, and two thousand.”

The thought of warm piss sliding down my throat while Luke Westerton laughs like a loving donkey makes me shiver. “Fine, gently caress it, but on the way back. Maybe it’ll be fun.”

***

We’re just about twenty four hours into our marathon drive when I think maybe I should have asked Molly. I’d have rather listened to her complain nonstop about her kids than hear another one of Sarah’s stupid youtube videos drone on about some utterly alien aspect of Gen Z life.

Sarah isn’t awake from her turn to sleep more than five minutes before she shoves her phone at my face. “Aw, look at these penguins hiking through the forest!”

I glance over only for a second, but it’s enough to kill my night vision and for a split second I can’t see the road. My sleep addled brain over corrects and we hit the soft shoulder going 65. I try to pull the car back onto the road, but the front tire blows out and we skid to a stop in the dirt.

“You ok?” I ask, looking over at my wide-eyed sister.

She nods.

We get out and walk around the car on shaky legs.

After verifying that it’s a blown tire I turn to Sarah, my adrenaline boiling away and leaving only anger. “You and your stupid loving videos.”

“Sorry,” says Sarah, looking at the ground. “I just wanted to show you something I thought was cute.”

I kick at a rock. “Well it loving wasn’t! Penguins don’t belong in a forest, Sarah! They belong on the ice! It’s not cute, it’s just weird, and you can’t tell the difference because all you do is sit there all day watching those pointless videos, and now they’ve got us trapped out here. But maybe somebody will come by to prank us then maybe you’ll be interested in our situation.” I yawn and rub my eyes. I haven’t slept since we left Seattle. I let Sarah sleep a few extra hours so I wouldn’t have to listen to her dumb videos. Even just thinking of dragging out the spare and changing the tire makes me want to cry. I sit down sideways in the passenger seat, my legs still sticking out of the car and sigh. “Maybe we should just call a tow truck, head back to Denver and get it figured out in the morning.” I swing my legs into the car and lean my head back. “But I think l need to close my eyes for a quick second first.”

***

I’m jostled awake by the poorly paved roads of some bumfuck highway. I cover my eyes with my hands and put my seat up. “What the gently caress?”

Sarah smiles at me and hands me a bag. “Breakfast burrito, stopped at a drive through a bit ago. Thought you’d wake up then.”

I reach into the bag and take out the burrito. It’s still warm. “You drive all night?”

“Yup.”

“Who fixed the tire?”

“I did, silly.”

I laugh. “No, but really. Somebody stop?”

Sarah scowls. She’s got black smears on her face and hands, and one of her knuckles is scabbed over. “I’m not totally useless you know, I know how to change a tire. Well, I do now anyway.”

I take a bite and let out a little involuntary moan, realizing I hadn’t eaten since Denver. “How?”

“Youtube.”

“Figures. Where are we?”

“Just passed Tulsa.”

I look at the dashboard clock. 9:17 am. “How? Rush hour traffic is nuts, I usually try to hit Tulsa around 11.”

“Carpool lane works even if the other person is sleeping.”

I finish chewing and swallow. “That means we’ll get to Lake Eufaula in a little over an hour.” I wad up the foil in a napkin, lean my head back and smile. “Even earlier than I planned.”

Sarah beams. “Not bad for a useless idiot, huh?”

I blush. “I’m sorry, I was a jerk. How can I make it up to you?”

Sarah laughs. “Uh, you already have. I had to look at your phone to see the directions and I couldn’t help but see the Dog Bark Park reservation. It’s apparently very easy to extend to three nights with only a single click. Fingerprint passwords are a lot like carpool lanes, you could say.”

“Still work while I’m asleep?”

“Exactly.”

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


In

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


hellrule me

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


NO GODS NO MASTERS

crabrock fucked around with this message at 04:24 on Oct 16, 2020

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


you monster.

sebmojo posted:

This story no verb
The Sad State of A Fair
468 words

Obligatory congratulations to the winner of the 2020 Iowa State Fair’s biggest pumpkin contest. A strange year for all of us. Uncertain times, difficult times, whatever your idiome du jour. But also jarring in unexpected ways, full of unimaginable surprise. This year’s “best of show”—a twisted appellation—as unbelievable as hair on a swan. A pitiful pumpkin by all accounts, dappled with rot, and lumpy in all the wrong places. Nothing more than a farce, comparatively, to the record-setters of yesteryear, but notable in its own pathetic way. Its lack of shame and abundance of undeserved courage even less of a travesty, somehow, than this year’s other competitors. Thirty-six shockingly miniscule and hideous pumpkins. But rule number one: victory to the largest pumpkin, no matter the painfully diminutive stature or obvious lark. The death of grandeur by the handbook’s own decree.

Always one champion, one trophy, and now one lingering stain on our impeccable record. All because of this cruel joke of a specimen. And why? Bad weather this spring? Decreased interest among the jaded youth? Perhaps a callous commentary on the state of the world at large? A quick note to future contestants: only the fire’s wrath for hackneyed metaphors and dull statement pieces from now on. My desire for all eccentricities unceremoniously aflame with extreme prejudice and unrestrained malice. Or simply into the dumpster, in cases of unattainable fire permits in a drought year.

Sixteen autumns of pumpkin assessment, but alas, never a greater heartache than today. Not for myself, for the record, but for the poor farmer’s soul and his garden at large. What sad, feckless hellscapes. One spoils within, the other a blight on our world. Rows and rows of shriveled squashes, tortured tomatoes and garish garlics. And what of his family? Underfed children with tears in their eyes, muffled moans from their empty tummies. “Daddy, only meager offerings for dinner again?” Unfortunately, no help for those children within The Rules and Recommendations of the International Code of Fair Judgement of Cultivated Plants, neglectfully without a clause for mandated reporters.

In conclusion, and with great reservation, this pumpkin’s weight now a sad blemish in the tome of pumpkin fame. No reprieve from the board of directors, their authority unequivocal, their stubbornness absolute. My tenure as head judge a smear on this great institution, my legacy not without an asterisk. The Pete Rose of State Fairs, the Lance Armstrong of gourds. Three-time winner of this prize myself, but one-time presenter of a true mockery. Neither sleep’s escape nor death’s embrace a respite from this nightmare. Only the crushing weight of guilt over followed orders. God’s mercy undeserved, history’s forgiveness unlikely.

Thank you. Now onto our next presenter: Ringgold County 4-H with the award for “Best Decorated Potato.”

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Crits for week 427

Judgemode readin, prompt ignorin

Postcards from Everywhere at the end of Everything

Lots of telling, lots of cliches, not 100% sure what the ending meant and was kinda bored. 4/10

Reread: I don’t really remember reading this story. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be anchoring on here, what’s supposed to grab my attention and keep me thinking about this piece. Your character even apologizes for rambling at one point, and that’s what I feel this piece is. Just a bit of a ramble with no real meat on them bones. You can’t just mention somebody has a club foot without really leaning into that.

The positive is this didn’t make me angry. I think for this kind of ephemeral story of reflection and whatnot they can be downright awful, so at least this wasn’t painful to read. Unfortunately it was the least pleasurable to read, and was an easy loss decision for me.


a hunger coming

Liked this, good voice and fun stuff, some real good lines. 8/10

Reread: I liked this a lot better than my co-judges did. It falls a bit into the trap of “People back in the day, yet they’re enlightened, like us!” But I didn’t really care because it wasn’t so bad. To me it had that feeling of “community is more important than the law.” The motivations were a tad weak, it was a little hard to buy the preacher being ok with the murder and so angry at the one line by the law man, but you work with what space you have i guess. Seemed a bit of an about face though, murder is a pretty big line. Other than that I really liked the fact that they seemed to care for the girl even though she was a bit damaged, and they blamed things that didn’t gel with society on being kicked by the horse. I woulda given this an HM.


The Frontier Was Everywhere

A bunch of people standing around in a circle arguing over who will be the next leader. They decide to punt it. It’s cold. 5/10

Reread: This made me think of that scene in the American Gods TV show with the buffalo skull. Anyway, I’m not a huge fan of “it’s old timey, so we call people weird names but other than that everything’s pretty much the same” and so it occupies this weird kind of no man’s land between make believe and unbelievable. I don’t know what cavemen talked like, but I’m guessing they didn’t sound like Victorian Aristrocrats such as: “And shall we mark notches for the debt of a child?” wtf. Anyway, this kind of clan-of-the-cavebearesque “and they they invented modern banking!” is meh for me, personally. This was a DM candidate for me but the other judges didn’t agree and I didn’t dislike it enough to push for it.


The Best Years of Your Life

I have no idea what this story is trying to accomplish. It seems to veer all over the place and has a “and then THIS thing happened!” vibe. Feels like you gave up a bit at the end there. 6/10

Reread: the prose in this is good, but the plot is so meandering and feels like it’s got no vision or goal for what it wants to be that it never really hooks me. I don’t have much to offer you in terms of advice because your writing is solid and I don’t really know if this story has anything worth you spending time on, I’d rather just read something else you wrote.


Verdant Lost

This story would be better with a better setup. I get that she’s hungry and stuff but she only really reflects on what she’d lose for like, a sentence. To make this more impactful, have her lean into she really likes exploring and moving and all the things she’d be giving up by making this sacrifice, otherwise it doesn’t hit as hard. 7/10

Reread: This story just seems like there’s too much to explore in the limited wordcount. You’d have to chop off some part of it to really spend some time in any section. The exploring the domes, what they are, what she sees, why it’s so surprising to find one still working. Then the story of her interactions with this man (she seems to just be like “hi, a seed? Ok i’m a tree now!”) that make the decision believable, and then the last bit that you pretty much ignored which is “what does this mean to her and her future and her people’s future now?” neither aspect was satisfying or given its due diligence, but i’d totally read it if you wrote it. Has a bit of Game of Thrones 3-eyed raven feel that you might want to differentiate somehow.


Ephemera

Gah, i was into this story until the limp ending. It’s well written and engaging and i was digging all its weird words and poo poo and then it just goes boom and he’s like “darn about my experiment, anyway let me hit that.” 7/10

Reread: This is maybe the most disappointing story for me of the week. I’m probably a bit biased, but I loved the wacky scientist working in his lab trying to discover poo poo. I liked the POV from the mousy assistant. The ending is so boring and rushed that it’s sad. I think the problem is that it’s really hard to do a convincing change of attitude/feeling like “oh my science is gone but you care about me, that’s nice!” in the space you tried to do it in. People don’t pivot that quickly, it takes time to process things and whatnot. Maybe it was a space constraint but I feel you could do that a lot more justice and then I’d be like “hell yeah.”


Guanajuato Museo de la Anarquía, Exhibit 74a, 74b, 74c, 74d, 74e, 74f, 74g, 74h, 74i, 74j, 74k, & 74l

Lol that info dump at the end. No. 7/10

Reread: Man, so this is the classic case of “thanks for not trusting me :/” I pretty much understood all the things that your infodump at the end told me. I knew it already. I didn’t KNOW know it detail for detail, but I understood what had likely happened. It made it more poignant to NOT know, imo, because there was no closure for the POV character. Just such a heartbreaking reversal from “you’re the only thing keeping me going” to “why haven’t i heard from you?” to “i assume you’re dead.” sad. Then you came along and danced in front of me and said “GET IT?” and i said “yes” and you explained it to me anyway. Without that this could have at least HMed if not more


Singing Our Ancient Call

I like this 9/10

Reread: I remember being annoyed at the “ugh, coughing blood” trope, but you moved on quickly and she actually just straight up died so i forgot about it. Maybe some other kind of sickness that isn’t so overdone? The creepy dude was also a bit of a cliche and way too loving obvious. There are other ways to show vulnerable women other than just “hey i want you to suck my dick in my office.” try going for something less overdone. Anyway, I’m a sucker for the intergenerational story, showing how things both change and how they stay the same. I’m not sure how the first few stories are related to the rest, which are clearly grandma mom daughter. Maybe it’s the same but i’m too stupid to see it?


Prickly

Ok? ?/10

Reread: I see what you did, and kinda get why you did it, but am not sure how you want me to react other than “haha, what a card.”


The Mind and Soul
Some guy is tortured by watching his brother get tortured? Kind of an unsatisfying ending here. I don’t really know what the guy did to deserve this hell. 6/10

Reread: I disliked this one more than my fellow judges did. I would have maybe considered giving this a DM just because I don’t like torture porn. I have absolutely no interest in reading physical discomfort/torture for the sake of it. I’d really rather spend time in somebody’s head, and would have liked to spend more time with your character figuring out what all this meant to him, why it was happening, and where he was gonna go from here. Instead it’s just sentence after sentence of shock value stuff. That stuff works the best interspersed with psychological stuff. Psychological horror doesn't mean the CHARACTER is necessarily being psychologically tortured, it's that the story itself makes me feel terror. this doesn't do that because I'm so far removed to what's happening to these characters (and i frankly don't really understand why/what the goal is) that i'm just kinda like "uh, ok."


Worker's Paradise
I dig it. Get it? 9/10

Reread: gently caress yeah, trains are awesome. I recently reread a story I wrote as POV of a train and i was like “dang the world needs more of these” because trains are the best, and gently caress yeah here’s another one. I dunno what else to say about this one other than it was fun to read and i just love the idea of a crashed train gaining sentience and then being like “welp, time to seize the means of production.”

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Weltlich posted:

INTERPROMPT: This Cereal Sucks



Remember when we were kids, and the back of cereal boxes were full of all sorts of crazy nonesense? Creepy Masks. Mazes. Shameless toy promotions.

Now they suck. The edu-tainment industry has colonized our cereal boxes and left us staring at bland meteorology facts instead of watching the sugar leech through a cardboard comic-strip.

So, with 100 words, write something awesome that ought to be on the back of a cereal box. Lies gussied up as lifehacks. The script for a comicstrip that is actually funny. Instructions on how to turn the box into a dangerous toy.

Maze Time!
99 words

Try to get to the end of this maze! Don’t see a maze? That’s because the maze was inside you all along. It’s your intestines. Eat this box. Eat the box before the cereal is done. Just dump it out on the floor and eat the box. Where will the box end up? Who knows! Maybe it’ll come out of your ears, or your belly button, wherever your own flesh maze lets out. If you feel up to it, try eating other things, like the magnets off the fridge or a ball of hair. Learning is fun!

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


One Step Back, Two Steps Forward!
99 words

It’s the Frosted Bran Caring Corner! Do your mom and dad fight a lot? They might be headed toward divorce. :( But don’t worry, lots of famous people had divorced parents! Not only were Einstein’s parents divorced, but he was divorced himself! Wow! Do you like Christmas? How about TWO OF THEM! Like your family? How about TWO OF THEM! You’ll get new brothers and sisters when your dad gets remarried. Neat! It’s like how we mixed our whole wheat wheat flakes with plump raisins to come up with a nutritious breakfast you love!

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Heart Health!
98 words

Balancing calories eaten with exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Try these fun activities to balance out one bowl of SUPER BLASTED MARSHMALLOW CHOCO FRIES™ Breakfast Cereal!

1. Run to the top of the Empire State Building. Can you see Wall Street and the Qiyou Conglomerate’s stock symbol on the big board? (QCG)
2. Swim from California to Hawaii. Watch out for sharks! The gray dye used in our crunchy marshmallows is a known shark aphrodisiac! Awesome!
3. Eat a second bowl! Your racing heart will offset the calories even while you sit and play video games!

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Thumbtacks posted:

I’ve never participated in one of these before and I haven’t written fiction in literal years so it’s going to be absolute garbage but in. Also flash please. I hope I did this right and this is the correct week, the Halloween stuff threw me

yeah the halloween stuff is something separate, a fight for my honor :swoon:

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002



i do not think you understand what that word means

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


In toxx, I'll write all Sunday

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Countdown
1,814 words

Dan was impatient waiting for things to finish when he already knew the outcome. Unfortunately he had a knack for attracting disaster.

“Hey Uncle Dan, wanna see me count to ten?”

“Sure, buddy, count away.”

The kid beamed and crawled into Dan’s lap and held out his closed fists. “One,” he said, snapping one finger out. His high-pitched voice hung in the air, his mind searching for the next in the series. Dan knew there would be no escape.

“Two.”

Dan’s mind ran though different representations of his prison. Twenty percent done. One fifth complete. Roughly thirty seconds to go. He was trapped between the present and the unavoidable. All there was to do in the interim was wait and think.

“Three.”

He considered pushing the kid to the floor and making a run for it. But it wouldn’t change the outcome. The numbers would ring in his head until they reached the end. Then the rest of his visit would be filled with his sister screaming at him. She wasn’t a helicopter parent so much as an osprey: hovering, waiting to swoop in and kill her prey. The kid wasn’t something to be protected, he was bait. Dan smiled at his sister across the room, watching them. She’d pushed for Dan to be a part of the kid’s life, despite Dan’s instance that he wasn’t good with kids. An uncle is important, she’d insisted. Dan remembered Uncles as more of a fringe relative, ancillary. Like a muffler on a Harley, unnecessary and often purposely forgone. Hell, he’d never gotten to know his uncle, and he’d turned out ok. He’d just figured they could continue on in the family tradition. Living across the solar system had made it easy to avoid visiting, the bounties and government mercenaries made it easier still.

“Four.”

Unlike the chaos of reproduction, physics was elegant. The most predictable of the sciences. Whereas biology had stochastic probabilities and chemistry had reaction rates, physics had laws. Laws of motion. Laws of conserved energy. Laws of time. Put a marble at the top of a ramp and let go, and it was predictable where it’d end up. The energy lost was measurable, routine, boring. Even how long it took was easy to calculate. Everything boiled down to a simple equation. It was a popular hands-on laboratory lesson in middle schools. Calculate how long it’d take the marble to roll down the end of the ramp. How far would it roll? Where would it stop? There was no art to the question, no deeper symbolism or layered pathos to be found. It was, for all intents and purposes, utterly devoid of personal meaning. Once the marble started rolling down the ramp, it did not need to be supervised or monitored. One could simply retrieve the marble at the end at the precise location and moment in time that had been set in stone the moment it was released. You could tweak the conditions to get different outcomes, but they were always preordained.

“Five.”

Dan had used his lasers to draw pictures on the bottom of clouds. He’d owned a little cart with spoked wheels and bright colors. His rates were reasonable, and he made good money painting glowing cartoon characters or congratulatory slogans for birthdays or graduations, or more explicit cumulus graffiti for bachelorette parties and the like. Paid better than his job as a tech, anyway, and nobody minded when he manipulated the light’s path through the atmosphere. No “ruined experiments” or “misappropriation of government funds.” Just a xenon-excimer beam of cash filling up his bank account. He liked to imagine the faces of the poor public works employee that opened the power bill after he’d surreptitiously plugged into a lamp pole at a park, or what lowly peon was fired when somebody had to answer for his illicit power splice into a drone charging station down the street from little Timmy’s kindergarten commencement celebration. Not his problem. Not back then. He had all the time in the world.

“Six.”

A single photon races through a medium, slipping between oxygen atoms, dodging nitrogen dimers, cleaving carbon oxides. A straight path. Terminates at a fixed point, absorbed or reflected by some body of matter, what is inconsequential. Another photon, the same same path. The same termination. Another, the same. A whole beam of photons, let loose with the flick of a switch, rolling through air like a marble down a ramp. Each photon is predictable in its location in space at each picosecond. Until Dan rested his hand on the emitter. The single point of light on the surface of the moon widened out into a ring. Radiation shot from the laser in a single stream was imbued with personality and rebelliousness through neural entanglement. Dan focused, turning the laser into a hexagon, a square, a jagged houndstooth. The laser could be at point A, point B, and everywhere in between. In between the predictable was the art of chaos, and that was where Dan preferred to reside. The moon began to fracture, orange fissures spreading across its surface. Dan removed his hand from the laser and turned to the general and shrugged. “Whatever shape you want.” They stepped back onto the ship and accelerated away from the rapidly de-orbiting demonstration.

“Seven.”

It was the pictures that got him. That stupid kid’s face reminded Dan of his own childhood. When the inevitability of outcomes was less obvious. Looking at the pictures of his nephew that had wormed their way into his inbox was like looking in the mirror thirty years earlier, when he’d fantasized about growing up to be a fighter pilot, fighting for, not against. He’d practice saluting, adjusting the placement of where the tip of his tiny index finger met his eyebrow. Working on the perfect snap, like a gymnast’s dismount from the parallel bars. He would be the perfect soldier, and every night he’d line up his toy planes on his headboard and dream of flying. Now when he looked in the mirror he was reminded only of the old man that had nearly made him fall from the swingset one day in the park. He’d said he was Dan’s uncle, and that he was sorry. He wasn’t sure how the man had managed to sneak up on him. The man was drunk, slurring his words so badly that Dan wasn’t sure if he couldn’t understand what the man was trying to say because of the content or the delivery. He rested his unkempt head against the chain of the neighboring swing and slowly undulated in the breeze, drooling into the sand. Dan had run all the way home and had started playing in a different park slightly further away, and never saw the man again, though he never forgot him. He’d been able to ignore the pictures from his sister at first, until one day she sent one of him in a leather flight jacket. “He wants to be like you!” She’d said. Dan made excuses as to why he couldn’t possibly visit. Because he was hiding in a crater hunted by the forces he’d joined only a few years prior wasn’t in the list of reasons. That he’d never be able to visit wasn’t broached at all.

“Eight.”

The orbital platform still smoldered with charred bodies when Dan’s company moved to the control room. Capturing a space station was thought to be impossible; projectiles easily punctured the outer hulls, beam weapons fried the delicate electronics and overwhelmed the limited cooling capacity of the stations, resulting in a superheated plasma atmosphere. The government hadn’t gone to great lengths to secure the platform before Dan’s lasers rounded the corners and burned through wide-eyed airmen. They only had a few minutes before fighters scrambled from the surface would intercept the station. Dan plugged his custom controller into the station’s terminal. It searched through the code and mapped the controls to the station's subroutines, until each red interface object blinked green and the station was his. “Any shape you’d like.” On the station’s HUD, the government’s bases and outposts, city halls and courts, monuments and hospitals, all the infrastructure across the continent turned orange as a single line ping ponged between them like an abstract connect-the-dots. “First squadron is thirty seconds out! We’ve got one shot at this!” yelled Jameson, the plucky technician Dan had recruited. They’d tried it before, firing a single sweeping laser beam from a hijacked ship. It was easily thwarted by the government’s counter defenses after it hit the first target. Hitting everywhere at once was unstoppable. The collateral damage was within acceptable limits.

“Nine.”

Dan rested his hand on his laser and felt the hum of certainty as the beam shot into the cosmos. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander along the entangled beam, gazing out as they rode past planets and out into the nothingness. He reopened his eyes on the ground, repositioned the cart toward the moon, and fired it again. He closed his eyes once more, rode the beam and landed on the moon. He watched the astronauts bound around inside their dome, conducting their experiments, until one of them looked up. They tripped backwards in surprise, and Dan opened his eyes, safely returned back to solid ground. He spent the rest of the day firing the laser at various objects and spying on the inhabitants within. When he grew bored of that, he made shapes with the laser, like he’d used to make on the bottoms of clouds, riding the uncertainty between point A and point B.

“Ten.”

Physics had been broken in Dan’s mind. He was no longer able to separate the beginning from the end, the antecedent from the effect, or the past from the future. What had seemed so orderly and linera before became unraveled as his entangled lasers permeated the galaxy and disappeared into black holes, only to reappear somewhere, and sometime, else. He couldn’t separate physical reality from experiences millenia later, nor parse what had happened with what might have been. Dan hated waiting for the inevitable outcome to finish. Ten. He stood in the doorway of his sister’s suburban home, holding a toy plane with a bow on it. Nine. He glanced up at the bright flashes of light in the sky above. Eight. “About time you finally met him.” Seven. “Hi, I’m your Uncle Dan.” Six. The boy was shy, so Dan knelt down. Five. “I heard you wanted to be a fighter pilot.” Four. Some more small talk, and the boy warms up. Three. Dan takes a seat on the couch and the boy runs up to him. Two. Dan smiles at him. Good kid, he’s sorry he waited so long. One. After the outcome was already set in stone.

The sky above his sister’s house flashed white only for a second.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


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crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


good elements

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